Exposer of Standard Oil During Progressive era / FRI 5-6-11 / TV catchphrase starting 2004 / Little bitty tear singer 1962 / 1999 Ron Howard satire

Friday, May 6, 2011

Constructor: Natan Last

Relative difficulty: Phenomenally Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: IDA TARBELL (61A: Exposer of Standard Oil During the Progressive era) —

Ida Minerva Tarbell (November 5, 1857 – January 6, 1944) was an American teacher, author and journalist. She was known as one of the leading "muckrakers" of the progressive era, work known in modern times as "investigative journalism". She wrote many notable magazine series and biographies. She is best-known for her 1904 book The History of the Standard Oil Company, which was listed as No. 5 in a 1999 list by the New York Times of the top 100 works of 20th-century American journalism. She became the first person to take on Standard Oil. She began her work on The Standard after her editors at McClure's Magazine called for a story on one of the trusts. (wikipedia)
• • •

I did this puzzle in 3:32. Let that sink in. I'm still letting it sink in. I could barely believe the timer when I was done — I knew I was going fast, and at about the halfway mark, I could smell the barn, as it were, and really turned on the gas, to mix metaphors. But 3:32!? I was hoping for a torrid (for me) mid-5s. That's about what my record Friday time had been. Until now. It sometimes takes me 3:32 to do a Monday. This grid is really, really lovely, so I'm going to focus more on that now, but ... I've never mind-melded with a puzzle this much in my life. Never. My first thought for virtually every clue ended up being right. I mean B-SIDE, ENE, LET ON, INANE, and off to the races. Didn't know/remember DONEN (19A: "Singin' in the Rain" co-director), but it hardly mattered. Couldn't get SEVERELY straight off, but from the SEV- guessed the next two letters (-ER-), which gave me "EDTV" (21D: 1999 Ron Howard satire), VIGOR, MR. T, bam bam bam. At that point, I floored it and couldn't believe that no answer was going to bother getting in my way. Not one. I just knocked them all silly. I mean, I actually got faster in the second half, knocking out "KIND OF BLUE" (27D: Classic Miles Davis album) and KWIK-E-MART (32D: Where Buzz Cola is sold) off of just their initial Ks. All over but the shouting at that point. Coup de grace was absolutely bowling over the only answer that had a shot at slowing me down — everything about the clue at 61A: Exposer of Standard Oil during the Progressive era says "you don't know it!" but ... I had the ID- and ... my wife is a Progressive era historian, and a women's/labor historian to boot, so IDA submitted to my will like the good little girl that she apparently wasn't in real life, god bless her. Finished with SOME PEOPLE (57A: "The nerve!") and looked down at timer. And gaped. And here we are.

BLING BLING is so dated it makes me laugh (1A: Gold watches, e.g.). Trump is enjoying new publicity these days as Clown-in-Chief, so YOU'RE FIRED was a piece of cake (11D: TV catchphrase starting in 2004). I own "KIND OF BLUE" (great chapter on it in Fred Kaplan's book "1959") as well as two ADELE albums (first one's better). That I nailed a "Simpsons" clue will astonish no one. Loved the clues for ANT FARM (28A: Glass house, of sorts) and TIMBUKTU (51A: Nowheresville). Didn't know Minnie's dog, but with F--I staring at me, guessing wasn't hard. I wish the clues had been tougher, because this grid seems worth savoring. But apparently young Natan and I share a brain; great for me, sad for him, as I am twice his age, and just discovered gray hairs in my nose not 10 minutes before solving this puzzle. Anyway I can be Natanesque, I'll take.

  • 26A: Linda of Broadway (EDER) — she reminds me of that EDEL guy who wrote the multi-volume biography of Henry James, in that she has a very convenient crossword name that I know only from solving puzzles.
  • 35A: "The moon is ___; I have not heard the clock": "Macbeth" ("DOWN") — easy for anyone familiar with the work of John Steinbeck.
  • 47A: She punished Echo (HERA) — Echo helped Zeus nail some nymph or other (I think), so HERA made it so that Echo could not speak, but could only repeat the last word she heard.
  • 60A: Indiana town that's home to the International Circus Hall of Fame (PERU) — Well I sure as heck didn't know this, but had the -RU before I ever saw the clue, and PERU just felt right ...
  • 62A: Desde Madrid a Mallorca (ESTE) — don't know much Spanish, but this looked like a direction clue, and I had -TE, so, like PERU, this went right in.
  • 7D: Vietnam War Memorial designer Maya (LIN) — Also [Guy I went to high school with Paul].
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter or Tumblr]


Anonymous 12:29 AM  

You know, you would think there would be some joke to be made about the gray nose hair issue, but I've given it 20 minutes and haven't come up with one. Wait, IDA looked as if she had the same issue.

retired_chemist 1:18 AM  

This was medium-challenging for me. Not really that hard, but I was not on the constructor's wavelength. Simple errors abounded: UDON @ 31D; GOOD @ 9D; ROBE @ 16A (see 55D: malapop alert); SQUABBLE @ 31A; FALL FOR @ 5D. To top it off, Mr. Happy Pencil waited MINUTES to appear until I changed the typo 0 (zero) to the letter O at the start of OATH (16A).

Some stuff I only got from crosses: DONEN, ADELE, K-TEL, IVES.

But, a solid puzzle, interesting fill, and overall a fun solve. Thanks, Natan.

jae 2:14 AM  

Pretty much my wavelength also, but I had this at easy-medium. @rc -me too for UDON, plus RIGOR for VIGOR, and some spelling issues with KWIKEMART. So, I got hung up a bit in the midwest. From BLINGBLING to IDATARBELL, a great puzzle Natan!

syndy 2:45 AM  

Some people! okay so Gary is the only city in Indiana that I know so I've got the earworm back even if it was wrong..My solve wasn't quite so smooth-wanted ice cream for 15 across for instance but I was tireless and so I kept chipping away >I kinda liked SENIORITIS crossing IT IS I! all together NICE!

antfarm carla michaels 4:39 AM  

Lots of fun, tho I didn't know how to spell KWIKEMART...
Didn't help that I had toyOTAS for Dodge Trucks...

Congrats on your new record @Rex and your mindmeld/nosehair nonmeld with young Natan...whom I JUST now realized after 2+ years is a palindromic name!

After 20 minutes, and thinking I was thru, I see I have a MAJOR mistake at 1A:
I have agINGBLING (Like a gold watch is for retirees...)
AND I put in DONat for DONEN and rationalized that Lord Nelson was the hero of 'NILa (short for MaNILa, of course!)

I had ASIDE bec there was AAVERAGES and AHORSE, so I thought it was Atheme!

Tonight at dinner with @dk, we briefly discussed a puzzle I made with Patrick B in the shape of an ANTFARM. Minutes later pointed out a new bar in North Beach called TOPE, so I will note the synchronicity and say good night.
(KINDOFBLUE indeed!)

Lovely puzzle, Natan.

Anonymous 6:52 AM  

Great puzzle.

But I got Natick-ed in the southwest.

kjones 7:17 AM  

Well, now I know why I actually finished it.

SethG 7:24 AM  

I did not solve this smoothly, couldn't think of lots of stuff I should have known, and still finished in 12:28. Super grid, clued much more easily than usual.

OldCarFudd 8:08 AM  

Who says easy can't be great! Started with senioritis, had some trouble in the rest of the northwest (bling bling and B side were the last to fall), but the southeast just wet right in. Fun, and now I can get on with my Friday.

There once was a professor from UVA that the Prudential would bring north every Monday to teach actuarial math for people struggling with the early exams. His catchword was: "In this class we ain't gonna bother with rigor, but we're gonna have a whole lotta vigor!" And he did!

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

some people, indeed. the only thing worse than a dnf friday is a dnf friday AFTER seeing Rex's triumphant tweet last night that this is his FASTEST FRIDAY EVER!

had the --mb---- on 51A and instantly wrote in dumbf*#%. oh well. no mind meld here.

The Bard 8:21 AM  

Macbeth > Act II, scene I

[Enter BANQUO, and FLEANCE bearing a torch before him]

BANQUO: How goes the night, boy?

FLEANCE: The moon is down; I have not heard the clock.

BANQUO: And she goes down at twelve.

FLEANCE: I take't, 'tis later, sir.

BANQUO: Hold, take my sword. There's husbandry in heaven;
Their candles are all out. Take thee that too.
A heavy summons lies like lead upon me,
And yet I would not sleep: merciful powers,
Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature
Gives way to in repose!

King Richard III, Act V, scene IV

[Alarum: excursions. Enter NORFOLK and forces
fighting; to him CATESBY]

CATESBY: Rescue, my Lord of Norfolk, rescue, rescue!
The king enacts more wonders than a man,
Daring an opposite to every danger:
His horse is slain, and all on foot he fights,
Seeking for Richmond in the throat of death.
Rescue, fair lord, or else the day is lost!

[Alarums. Enter KING RICHARD III]

KING RICHARD III: A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!

CATESBY: Withdraw, my lord; I'll help you to a horse.

KING RICHARD III: Slave, I have set my life upon a cast,
And I will stand the hazard of the die:
I think there be six Richmonds in the field;
Five have I slain to-day instead of him.
A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!


quonlady 8:29 AM  

Sounds like Rex needed a cigarette after this one!

Glimmerglass 8:31 AM  

Like Rex, I found this one was on my wavelength. My first impulse was usually right, and this was a speedy Friday for me. However, looking over the puzzle, I don't think it should be easy for everyone -- just happened to be in my comfort zone.

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

Gray hair in nose does not pass the breakfast test. Flowerlady9

joho 8:47 AM  

I knew this would be rated "easy" by @Rex, but no matter, it was a blast. So rarely do I feel this competent on a Friday.

Thank you, Natan, for a smooth, most enjoyable solve!

Greene 8:48 AM  

Terrific puzzle. Loved every minute of the solve, which was about a leisurely 22 minutes. Great start to my Friday.

I only know PERU, Indiana as the birth place of Cole Porter. Strangely enough, that was enough for me to write it in at 60A.

SOME PEOPLE is a terrific song from the musical Gypsy. I heard Stephen Sondheim tell a story once about giving Cole Porter a miniconcert of the Gypsy score shortly before he died. His leg had been amputated and he was profoundly depressed and weak, although still appreciative of the wonderful songs. I just realized that Gypsy librettist Arthur Laurents died today as well.

Hmm, rather than continue this morbid association game, I'll just turn off the theatrical stream of consciousness.

Happy Firday all.

imsdave 8:54 AM  

Congrats on your record Rex. I thought I had a chance too when I started - whipped through the top of this one silly fast. Then... not so much. Not having KWIKEMART or KINDOFBLUE in my wheelhouse put the brakes on my record run. Still came in under 15, and enjoyed the ride.

Greene would definitely have clued SOMEPEOPLE differently, as would I. Of course, you all know what that would have been.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Rex any idea as to why 2 puzzles this week haven't been posted till after 10:30? Maybe the person responsible for the postings has a second job as a flight controller.

jesser 9:01 AM  

I don't time myself, but this sure fell fast for a Friday, so I'm seconding Rex's rating, and synpathizing with his nose hair issues. We're practically twins.

I cannot tell anyone -- even myself -- why, but KTEL made me laugh out loud. Those damn commercials! And I now have that stupid TIMBUK-3 song stuck in my head: The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.

Did anyone else think OldCarFudd was going to post a limerick when they read his post? I sure did!

Off to the golf course soon. But before I go, I gotta say to @Tobias that I was with Sally Howell the night before she died, holding her hand and whispering in her ear that it was OK to let go. The night was November cold and beautifully silent. I spent lots of time with her in the four years I lived in Taos, and she made indelible marks in my outlook on life. Thanks for thinking fondly of her. I'll never forget her, or that place and time in my life.

Lazingre! (See the upcoming weekend) -- jesser

ides 9:13 AM  

Julius Caesar > Act III, scene I

CASCA: Speak, hands for me!

[CASCA first, then the other Conspirators and

CAESAR: Et tu, Brute! Then fall, Caesar.

David 9:17 AM  

Last Friday's puzzle was my all-time record, 12 minutes, so this was comparatively much tougher (or just slower). Still, finished in about 25 minutes, with big trouble in the NE. Had ARDOR for VIGOR, which would give me somethingGRADES for the 4.0's clue. Seemed logical to me, but I stayed stuck. Wanted IRKS for YAKs, forgetting what Natters meant, but that was the key that unlocked the NE - finally remembering what Natters meant, then the AA beginning of the 4.0's clue wiped out GRADES and gave me AAVERAGES. That gave me VIGOR, and boom, I was done.

Blew right thru the 3 - 10 letter clues in the NW and SE and thought I was headed to a 2nd sub-15 puzzle, but it was definitely not to be. Great puzzle!!

Judith 9:26 AM  

This is an Indiana puzzle, and I live in Indiana. After all, Trump heard YOU'RE FIRED from all the Indy 500 fans (tho he won't admit it!) Glad I won't have to see him driving the pace car.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:32 AM  

Very nice puzzle!

Of course, I didn't do it in 3:32; took me about one more . . . One order of magnitude more, that is.

JC66 9:49 AM  

@Anonymous 9:00

I've experienced the same problem and finally figured out that even though the puzzle isn't available on the Premium Crosswords page, if one clicks on the Wordplay link on that page,there's a link to the puzzle to the right of the 1st paragraph of the blog. Be careful not read the write-up to avoid spoilers. Hope this helps.

CY 10:00 AM  

Aw, I was pretty proud of myself after finishing this in 20 minutes (most Fridays take me more like an hour, if I manage them at all). Then I check out Rex Parker's blog and I see that he has given this puzzle the unprecedented rating of "phenomenally easy".... Way to take away my sense of accomplishment, Rex. :'-(

quilter1 10:11 AM  

Leisurely solve from bottom to top. I confidently began to write in aquarium for glass house and pouted when I ran out of squares. Every ANT FARM I've ever seen was plastic from about 1955 onward. Oh, well, nice Friday. Enjoyed seeing IDA TARBELL, TIMBUKTU, KIND OF BLUE.

nanpilla 10:12 AM  

@JC66 - thanks! I really hate having to go to the Wordplay blog before doing the puzzle because it is so hard to manage not to see anything. Why does it always seem to be at least 10:08 (and last night, much later) before they post the puzzle to print out? I even went so far as to try doing it on my computer, but I just can't stand doing it that way. So I went to bed and waited until this morning.

Very fast solve - but lots of fun stuff. Tried fEigN for LETON, then tried it again in the plural for FEINTS!

And my HORSE is actually doing a little better - keep fingers crossed!

David L 10:13 AM  

Definitely easy (and I was inordinately proud to get IDATARBELL with no crosses), but a couple of things puzzled me.

First, how does 'pretend' mean LETON? If you let on to something, aren't you giving up a pretense?

Second, who says GOINFOR meaning 'particularly like'? When I was little, mom would order us to GOINFOR dinner, but that didn't necessarily mean we would like it...

PuzzleNut 10:23 AM  

Pretty easy, but not a throwdown. Slowed down by guessing 17A was Ice???????. The AA in 12D had me looking for an error. Thought it was DAg blasted. Had ANT?ARM and couldn't see the F for the longest time.
OTOH, plopped in all three long acrosses in the SE without looking at the downs.
Actually enjoyed the LAT more than the NYT today.

Helpful Guy 10:37 AM  

@All who complained that the puzzle was late.

I couldn't get the puzzle last night either, but found it here:


Two Ponies 10:39 AM  

Very fun puzzle.
Look at all of those K's.
Ant farm was my favorite.
@ Greene, I thought of you this morning when NPR reported Mr. Laurent's passing.
@ jesser, I thought a limerick was coming too.
@ nanpilla, Digits crossed for your horse.
@ Judith, I think Trump really was the one to pass on driving the Indy pace car because he couldn't figure out how to manage his hair in a convertible!

GILL I. 10:50 AM  

REX's write-up, @anonymous 12:29 and @quonlady have me belly laughing. I probably need a cigarette too but only because I couldn't finish this one.
I had an uncle that always said DAD-blasted. I thought he was referring to my father's morning habits.

Tobias Duncan 10:53 AM  

Never heard of ITALIANICE so all those vowels took a while to get a hold of ,and I did not find IDATARBELL to be even remotely submissive. Not nearly as fast as last weeks for me but a big part of that was probably solving on paper which I suck at.Not being able to read your own writing really holds you back when solving in pen...

JaxInL.A. 11:17 AM  

I finished a Friday in under 40 mins with no help. That's cause for jubilation. Got a meeting so I can't stay. See you all later.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

Rex's exuberance today reminds me of a story I heard about President George H.W. Bush. He and the late Dan Rostenkowski were close friends, both first being elected to Congress in the same year. When Bush was President Rostenkowski was Chairman of Ways and Means, responsible for writing tax laws. Shortly after Bush took office he invited "Rosti" over to the White House for lunch. Upon his arrival Bush invited him into the Oval Office. There, the two of them alone, the President jumps up and exclaims, "Geez, Rosti, can you believe it? I'm President of the United States?" The source was Bill Daley, so close to Rostenkowski they were like brothers, and now Obama's Chief of Staff.

JenCT 12:03 PM  

@Tobias Duncan: never heard of ITALIANICE? You poor, deprived soul - you must try some!

Didn't quite finish - wanted something OTITIS for 15A; plunked in YADDAYADDA for 11D off the Y; and had IDAWARBILL - just figured it sounded okay.

TGIF, everyone...

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Rex's exuberance emboldens me to note my own exuberance at nearly finishing a Friday puzzle.

Agree wtih @DavidL that the clues for LetOn and GoInFor didn't seem quite right, especially GoInFor, which sounds like you have committed to choose something. Italian Ice seems upscale for a Boardwalk. I don't doubt that there are occasional gelatto sellers to be found on American boardwalks, amidst the bombpop and softserve sellers. If Italian Ice is different from gelatto, then I'm less sure you could find it.

The hard part of the puzzle for me was the whole east coast. The movie Ed Tv made absolutely no impression on me, and I have never heard of Linda Eder. I knew Ida was right, but couldn't recall her last name. Torvill sounded right. I had to look her name up in the end, and that made the rest easy. I have never heard of Adele, but was happy to learn of her. Less useless than say learning Stanley Donen's name.

polisher 12:21 PM  

There once was a professor from UVA Who taught obscure math every Monday.
"We won't have much rigor,
but we will have vigor!"
And so he proceeded in that way.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Too many names outside my pop culture. I gave up when I realized I was spending more time googling than thinking. No really fun. I know it is NYT, but it is also a world standard in crossword, published in international newspapers, so it would be nice to see editor to screen with it in mind.
From Bangna/Bangkok

efrex 12:39 PM  

*sigh* and I was doing so well, too... finished the last two Friday puzzles, and just couldn't quite get through this one, even with some Googling. The NW, in particular, gave me headaches. Just couldn't suss out the acrosses despite a lucky guess on BSIDE. Had TOPGRADES for AAVERAGES (really tough to let go when so many crosses were working), but was able to work through that one.

I might be the only one griping about this, but so be it: Linda EDER does not deserve to be clued as "Linda of Broadway." The woman has had one, count 'em, one Broadway role (and, at least in my opinion, was horrible in it, although to be fair, her best number was cut from the show). I know she's got an x-word friendly last name, but really. Then again, it was the only cultural reference that I got off the bat, so perhaps I should just shut up...

D_Blackwell 1:05 PM  

EDER appears way too often. Alternate clues suckity-suck-suck also. It's about as horrible as Random Roman Numeral.

I suppose that ED TV is supposed to be pop trivia, but it's pretty close to "you know it or you don't".

It was the DONEN / LET ON cross that I really got lucky with. I still don't know how to get from "Pretend" to LET ON.

OISK 1:08 PM  

Agree with Bagna - Bangkok. I finished in a reasonable amount of time with just one error - since I never heard of EDTV nor Linda EDER, I had to just guess at that square. But I did not enjoy this puzzle at all. Never heard of (in addition to EDTV) ADELE, KTEL, Blingbling, Donen, Kelly Clarkson, (although I guessed RCA) don't like the clue for "LETON" nor the clue for "GOINFOR."
Not crazy about "SEVERELY" as the answer for "Hard" either. And even though I got "ROSS" and "KWIKEMART" I thought there was entirely too much pop culture. Generally, as I complete a Friday, I feel a sense of satisfaction, but not this time.

imsdave 1:42 PM  

@Linda Eder (though she may never appear here). Thank you for this:

I know you hate this Geoff

hazel 1:55 PM  

Very fun puzzle. I like a snappy Friday. anyone else try Toke for TOPE?

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

I would have agreed with the rating except for "Bling Bling". What self-respecting gangsta rapper would consider a gold watch as bling (let alone bling bling)? Gangsta rappers generally don't retire in the conventional sense (alive).

Also, the terms "shave ice" and "snow cone" are much more pervasive than italian ice. I think they all are flavored ices.

Not raining on your parade Rex. All hail to thee!

jae 1:57 PM  

@nanpilla -- Click on "Will Johnston's Puzzle Pointers" at the bottom of "Other Crossword Sites" on the right side of Rex's blog. He has the new NYT puzzle at exactly 10:00 (7:00 west coast time). I've been going directly there lately and not even trying the NYT site.

nanpilla 2:13 PM  

@jae - thanks! I'll try it tonight!

dodgersfan 2:42 PM  

Nice Friday, and way easy. Felt like a themeless Wednesday.

Speaking of IDA Tarbell and progressivism.....history was made at last weekend's L.A. crossword tournament. The playoff puzzle was constructed by a woman.
We're proud of our westcoast xword puzzle community.

ACPT/NY has never presented a playoff puzzle constructed by a woman.

Major kudos to LA for shattering the old mold....sweet.
:DF//Dad to 3 daughters

Arundel 2:45 PM  

Thank you, Anonymous 1:57. I was thinking the same thing regarding 1a. A gold watch might be bling, but IMHO that's stretching a point. Double bling would seem to indicate over-the-top, pounds of gold, encrusted with diamonds.

Despite usually being fairly into pop culture, this one just didn't click with me. Or more precisely, I didn't click with it. Although I did (and do) like Italian ice, the only ant farm I ever saw was plastic. This was not by any means my fastest Friday!

John V 3:27 PM  

Voice from another country -- well, okay just CT. DNF. As remarked, not on the constructor's wavelength. Payback for a pretty easy week to this point. Odd how that happens.

william e emba 3:30 PM  

Only medium speed for me, although I did start out extra fast.

LET ON means "pretend" in the context of lying. For example: Flex Barker will let on that he solved today's puzzle in 1:32 flat, if you all promise not to mention that the moon is actually up.

Anonymous 3:34 PM  


Sparky 3:39 PM  

Completely baffled. Total opposite of @Rex's or everybody else's wavelengths. 12D: something GRAdES; ardOR. Managed, ITISI, HERA. NONONSENSE my longest entry. Gave up.

There's always tomorrow. Have fun this weekend.

mac 4:06 PM  

In part very quick, but I still had some areas that needed staring and guessing. NEVER heard or saw the term dadblasting. The D in Eder was the last letter in. Knew that Kwike Mart wasn't right, but then it was.

Favorite words: Timbuktu, A-average, skirmish and Ida Tarbell.

Good puzzle, just not really on my wavelength.

Kurisu 4:09 PM  

I knew this was going to be an exceptionally easy Friday puzzle because I actually (nearly) finished it. I had to guess on TOPE/ESTE and I had no idea for ETO/IDA TARBELL but other than that I actually managed it.

I made two mistakes that drew things out quite a bit -- LETS IN instead of ASKS IN, and DRAY instead of SHAY. I also guessed KWIKEMART very early but I was looking at the wrong down (the Miles Davis album starting with KI) so it wasn't until quite late that I put it in.

Lois 4:22 PM  

Thank you, William E. Emba, for your explanation of "let on." I still would think in your example that the phrase "let on" for your Flex Barker is not being used correctly, unless Barker really did solve the puzzle in that time. But language changes, so I might consider taking your word for it. To my eyes and ears, "go in for" for "particularly like" is fine, though.
Italian ice, known in the New York area in the plural, usually, is an old standby much preceding gelato here. Not an obscure term at all in this area, far from it. "Severely" is a good trick answer, because "hard" can be used as an adverb. It stumped me for a long time.
The puzzle was not that easy for me either, and I DNF, but it's Friday!

jberg 4:23 PM  

I couldn't get started with this one - ran the Acrosses all the way down to 27A, KOBE, for my first answer - then crosses took me down, and the whole bottom half filled easily.

However, the EDER/EDTV cross stumped me completely, had to look up the latter on Google. Then I thought I was done, but had an error for 11A (YAPS for YAKS), and failed to notice the nonsensical PTEV fir 13D - I havw no idea what KTEL is, I have to confess. (Did have SEVERELY, but forgot to do the writeover on the L).

@Anonymous 12:17, Italian ice is not gelato, it's crushed or shaved ice with sweet fruit-flavored syrup poured over it. Definitely not upscale.

Doug 4:53 PM  

No wonder I finally finished a Friday puzzle!

jackj 5:07 PM  

This Natan Last beauty compares to last week's David Quarfoot puzzle, easy but elegant, with not a scintilla of arcana but with enough delightful, in the language phrases to please and challenge all.

Solvers may recall that Natan took the Saturday anchor leg in last year's Brown University week of puzzles and as a current senior at Brown, he probably tipped his hand that he's ready to move on with the entry SENIORITIS.

Good show Natan!

Lois 6:03 PM  

Regarding the complaints, including my own, about "let on" as the answer for the clue "pretend," that definition is the first one in my old Britannica dictionary. The No. 2 definition is "reveal." They are both indicated to be colloquial. So you are right, Natan, Will and William E. Emba!

Let me praise Stanley Donen, whose name might be too useful for crosswords. He directed Charade, On the Town, Funny Face and It's Always Fair Weather, four of my favorites, as well as the one most people know, which I love too. Other good ones too.

Skua 6:31 PM  

The labels section on the bottom has a link to "Natan Last Sucks." Which takes you to....

Octavian Tarbell 6:33 PM  

Fantastic puzzle -- and by far my fastest Friday of all time.

It was almost like a Monday for me -- like taking dictation. I didn't even hesitate throwing down the long acrosses. Very unusual.

Started with BRA/LIN/ITISI and in a flash Bling, Senioitis and Italian Ice came into view ... having a high school senior at home who has a definitite case of senioritis probably helped.

Then Youre Fired, A Averages, just materialized quickly and moving down the grid, I dont know what came over me, I threw in Ida Tarbell, No Nonsense and Some People after starting with only two downs for help -- ADELE (super easy if you have kids at home or watch American Idol) and Cells.

All in all, gave me a great lift to start the Friday -- so bravo and thanks to Natan.

Anonymous 7:52 PM  

I knew it! I think this is the first Friday puzzle I've completely finished on my own. I knew the blog would be filled with "too easy" comments, but I didn't expect parker to say "Phenomenally easy". Sigh.

michael 8:46 PM  

I'd agree with most of you about the easiness except that I hardly ever watch the Simpsons and Kwikemart was hard for me to get.

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 6:28, 6:52, 0.94, 26%, Easy-Medium
Tue 10:07, 8:56, 1.13, 83%, Challenging
Wed 15:20, 11:45, 1.30, 95%, Challenging (6th highest median solve time of 96 Wednesdays)
Thu 14:54, 18:58, 0.79, 17%, Easy
Fri 18:30, 26:02, 0.71, 8%, Easy (8th lowest median solve time of 100 Fridays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:31, 3:40, 0.96, 35%, Easy-Medium
Tue 5:00, 4:35, 1.09, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 7:47, 5:47, 1.33, 97%, Challenging (4th highest median solve time of 96 Wednesdays)
Thu 6:38, 9:09, 0.73, 7%, Easy (7th lowest median solve time of 99 Thursdays)
Fri 8:29, 12:47, 0.66, 5%, Easy (5th lowest median solve time of 99 Fridays)

pauer 9:09 AM  

Playing catch-up: this was a very sparkly grid even if the clues were too easy. I thought I'd mention "Some People" from "Gypsy" or Linda Eder, but I see that my fellow theater geeks beat me to it.

You know you've done too many crosswords when UVEA and EFTS are gimmes.

Ben 10:09 AM  

Checking in here four days late because I was in New Orleans last Friday enjoying my brother's bachelor party at Jazz Fest (arguably the best possible reason not to do a crossword puzzle, BTW).

I finished this in 6:06, a personal best for a Friday by such a wide margin that it's ridiculous. I knew Rex would crush this one because whenever I'm on the same wavelength as a constructor, so is Rex. He and I know the same pop culture arcana (which this puzzle was chock full of). Heck, we often make the same mistakes. Great minds, Rex, and ours too.

And great puzzle, Natan. Lots of fresh, fun fill, my favorite kind of grid. Easy for a Friday as many have observed, but that's not your fault. You're hired!

boardbtr 12:53 PM  

From 5 weeks later, I likely wson't see anything on this, but 62A seems to translate as "from Madrid to Majorca". The solution "este" translates as "this". I really don't understand that answer. I do admit my HS Spanish is pretty ancient. I was taught "oeste" for "west". What am I missing?

NotalwaysrightBill 2:14 PM  


DNF so I'm KINDOFBLUE. Eating day-old carob cake as punishing comfort food. Just another spoonful of sugar . . . . There, where was I?

Mindmelded only with Minnie's even mousier dog, to the point that I'm considering changing my name to hers, so that when I formally respond to "Who's there?," I can answer "It is I, FIFI" and at least be palindromic.

With that NONONSENSE bitch, HERA, around, punishing all the Echos, I think I'll just slink off to TIMBUKTU to lick my---JEEZ! I can't even do what FIFI can! Well maybe PERU, Indiana then. That's it: I'll join the circus and be a freak sideshow: fear-of-xword-pop-culture-questions BOY, Architect-and-Choreographer-phobia FIFI. If it gets any worse I guess I can still call myself SOI and marry an ax murderess.

Goose 3:20 PM  

I'm also in Syndi-land, but I have a couple things:

@boardbtr - 'este' is east in this answer. And you're right, oeste is west.

Can anyone explain peer for lady, e.g.? I'm not seeing that one. Nor do I have any idea what tope is all about. I figured you'd toke to get high and raise your spirits, no? But tope?

NotalwaysrightBill 3:55 PM  

This is what comes of not watching at least twelve hours of the Royal Wedding with all its attendant Lords and Ladies and whoever else of the PEERage were present.
And to TOPE is to hoist (raise) the hooch (spirits). Well, really, it's to toss it down the hatch; but that wouldn't have been mindmelding.

Karl 5:46 PM  

I solved it, but I would categorize this one as medium to medium-difficult. Of course the last one that was actually rated medium-difficult I thought was easy...go figure...

LongbeachLee 7:33 PM  

Rex, if you're trying to make friends, you're going about it all wrong.

Dirigonzo 6:22 PM  

OK, the answers do seem to be pretty easy in retrospect but since it took me two days to finish the damn thing I was at least hoping for an ADELE video as a reward, but no - the Beatles and Miles Davis instead. But I guess they were pretty good, too.

My (very old) dictionary defines "tope" as to drink alcohol habitually and excessively - I suppose that would raise your spirits for a while but experience suggests that it can be pretty depressing over the long term.

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