Meiji prime minister / FRI 5-27-11 / Player stoic crew member / Currency dropped during French Revolution / Trump jack e.g. / Bygone European capital

Friday, May 27, 2011

Constructor: Ashton Anderson

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Carlo PONTI (14A: "Doctor Zhivago" producer) —

Carlo Ponti (11 December 1912 – 10 January 2007) was an Italian film producer with over 140 production credits, and the husband of Italian movie star Sophia Loren. [...] Ponti accepted an offer from Lux Film in Rome in 1941, where he produced a series of commercially successful films featuring the comedian Totò. In 1954 he had his greatest artistic success with the production of Federico Fellini's La strada. However, Fellini denied Ponti's role in its success and said that "La Strada was made in spite of Ponti and De Laurentiis". He produced Visconti's Boccaccio '70 in 1962, Marriage Italian Style in 1964, and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow in 1965. He produced his most popular and financially successful film, David Lean's Doctor Zhivago in 1965. He subsequently produced three notable films with Michelangelo Antonioni, Blowup in 1966, Zabriskie Point in 1970 and The Passenger in 1974. (wikipedia)
• • •

Very fast solve today, well under what it took me to complete yesterday's puzzle. I have nothing particularly bad or particularly good to say about this one. It's a bit "plain vanilla" (a phrase I saw in the NYT today and wondered about ... felt redundant). I don't really understand what the inspiration for this grid was. In a themeless puzzle, I expect to see at least a few "wow" answers, ones that the grid was clearly built around. I don't know what those are today. QUICK STUDY (27D: Fast learner) crossing AL QAEDA (25A: Fundamentalist group) is about the only part that stands out. I like SPOONERISM OK, but I'm not sure I like it as a marquee answer. The fill is reasonable, and nothing stands out as glaringly bad or even mildly annoying. But better to have greatness and badness side-by-side than to settle for mediocrity. Bonus points for interesting grid shape. In the end, though, mostly forgettable.

Got off to a quick start with 1D: Religious recession? (APSE), which was fooling no one. Flat-out gimme. One of the least tricky "?" clues I've ever seen. Slower up there than I'd like to have been because I didn't know PONTI (before my time), but I got ENDLESS easily (20A: Never wrapping up), and that made the whole NW fall rather quickly. "-AE-A" pattern clued me in pretty quickly to AL QAEDA, and the Q gave me QUICK STUDY almost instantly. Puzzled over SOUS v. ECUS for a bit (54A: Currency dropped during the French Revolution), but otherwise that corner wasn't too tough. Rode TATTLE TALE (55A: Scorned kid brother, maybe) across and then encountered my greatest challenge of the day, moving back up the east side of the grid from there. Damn Curious George people were the DEYS? BEYS? Urgh! (53D: Curious George's creators=>REYS). Between that issue and having EMINENT for EXIGENT (42D: Pressing), I couldn't see REGULAR for a while (50A: Bar fixture—nice clue). But after some stumbling I finally got up out of there. Thought "malapropism" before SPOONERISM, but that mistake didn't last (11D: Trump the jack, e.g.). Last real challenge was getting RSVP, which I had (reasonably, I thought) as ASAP at first (10A: Decision-prompting request). Calvin PEETE was a gimme (13D: Most successful U.S. black golfer before Woods), which made finishing up the puzzle a snap.

  • 34A: Meiji prime minister (ITO) — did not know this. Guessed ETO, which I think I got to by going Japan—WWII—ETO (nevermind that the "E" in ETO stands for "European"). I might also have been thinking of EDO, the ancient name for Tokyo.
  • 59A: Player of a stoic crew member (NIMOY) — Mr. Spock!
  • 2D: Bygone European capital (BONN) — you never know which direction the clue's going in with a clue word like "capital." Guessed BONN off the final "N," though I did have to consider and rule out BERN first (I always got those two confused in 7th grade Geography).
  • 18D: Obiter dictum (ASIDE) — soooo annoyed to have "learned" this word in a recent crossword and then promptly forgotten it. Boo, me.
  • 25D: Hostile to, in the hills (AGIN) — Ha ha, "the hills." Not just any hills; just them that are teemin' with billies. AGIN' is also a nice way of describin' Baby Boomers (or any livin' thing, I guess).

  • 36D: Instrument for Cannonball Adderley (ALTO SAX) — completely blanked on who this guy was. Not til I go the "X" did I piece the instrument together. Speaking of instruments, tonight was my daughter's spring concert and in jazz band she got to do the first solo (flute). Improvised solo! You have not lived til you've heard fifth-graders improvise! It's pure awesome. Always the best part of these concerts (which can be kind of staid and tepid at times). Anyway, daughter did great. The ALTO SAX kid (an adorable giant) was pretty great too.

  • 37D: Opposite of spring, tidewise (NEAP) — before today, I did not know "tidewise" could be a word.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]


pizzatheorem 12:17 AM  

Thought it was pretty smooth. However, this is my fastest Friday ever so naturally I would think that. Liked the NIMOY and REDROSE clues. Still trying to read GOUNDER to not rhyme with FLOUNDER. That is all.

Vincent L. 12:18 AM  

Wow! I can't believe I got through a Friday puzzle so fast, without even thinking about Google! That was very pleasant, of course, but usually the pleasure of working through a late-week puzzle comes from memorable answers or clue-answer combinations, and there was none of that, alas.

SethG 12:23 AM  

Would have been my fastest Friday without the typo. Still one of my fastest, and I'm still only 40th overall. This was easy.

Only problem was the bottom right corner--the George clue called out for a plural, but I had a tough time figuring out how [Heard trial evidence] was TAPES. That's terrible.

Matthew G. 12:34 AM  

This puzzle took me less than half the time of Thursday's, and was the first puzzle of this week that was not one of the most challenging for its day in recent memory. Just don't have much to say about it, though, except that Rex's comment about APSE is so similar to my own thoughts about the clue that it made me snicker. Oh, and my only slowdown was ECUS, where I had SOUS for ages and never questioned its accuracy.

It's been a good puzzle week for us appellate lawyers. First EN BANC DECISIONS, now {Obiter dictum}. Perhaps on Saturday we shall have RES JUDICATA crossing REMANDED.

syndy 12:47 AM  

I got too cute for my own good and threw down IRONING for 42 down but Maximum ironed that out answerwise.Still this was a remarkably clean puzzle if a little easy for fridaysolid bricks=little grout;My favorite answer is MINUTIA I like the way it rolls off my tongue.anyway maybe the theme was Designer Underwear?

retired_chemist 12:50 AM  

Faster than average here as well. What Rex said - few highs, only one particular low (see below), middle of the road.

Liked the clues for SPOOONERISM, NIMOY, AL QAEDA.

DID NOT like -IDE (7D). It is NOT a periodic table suffix, which I interpret narrowly to mean a suffix in the name of an element. Couldn't think of an element ending in -IDE so I looked up a periodic table, went through all (OK, not those with at. no. ≥ 102, which I mostly don't know) and there are none. Pah.

Iam plenty old enough to remember Carlo PONTI but lulled myself into PONZI briefly. Tried the crossworthy TEA ROSE @ 10D, driven by ALMS @ 19A - nope to both. 44A was HANES (after mentally sneaking a peek at what I wear) - nope too.

Drawing a blank on "Heard trial evidence." Some famous trial involving someone named Heard? Help, anyone. @SethG?

Campesite 12:59 AM  

@ Retired Chemist, think tapes as a noun, "the jury heard the tapes, then rendered a verdict."

Oddly, just read yesterday for the first time of that Ponti guy's film Zabriskie Point. Apparently the 1969 film for which Pink Floyd wrote "Us and Them." Jerry Garcia also contributed to the soundtrack.

syndy 1:00 AM  

Trial evidence that is HEARD (say a WIRETAP)

pizzatheorem 1:03 AM  

I had trouble with IDE as well until I remembered those lanthanides and actinides. Before that I wanted IUM or INE.

Princess Kosmonopolis 1:04 AM  

I'm not really interested in names or intits. on underwear. Can't understand why they both appear in the same puzzle. That is all I have to say.

Princess Kosmonopolis 1:05 AM  

Hmm. I think I meant inits, not intits.

jae 1:18 AM  

What Rex said. Easy except for SE which was more medium for me. No real missteps. Mentally tried some currencies at 2d before getting enough crosses to see the city. Easier than yesterday's for me also.

Princess Kosmonopolis 1:19 AM  

Go ahead and remove me, Rex.

JaxInL.A. 1:33 AM  

The mirror entries of MEESE and KLEIN both should have been clued as political books. (Joe Klein's Primary Colors opposite Meese's Reagan book.) I wanted SNEAK A PEEK and TATTLE TALE to relate somehow, too. Bratty thoughts. Too bad the underwear couldn't cross.

I am definitely getting better at this, though in the end Could Not see RSVP (and kept thinking RED had to be wrong, since RS__ made no sense).  Didn't know the soft palate's Latin name or the Black golfer, so HTG for the V in VELUM, after which the rest became clear.  But I got down to two letters missing in a Friday after only 37 minutes!  while eating dinner, too.

syndy 1:52 AM  

@princess K you have to remove yourself (trashcan) captha:ingnegu;young female who wishes to keep her hoof

alqaeda qarla minutia 1:58 AM  

irate had to become ABOIL and Pace become PITT, but other than that, no real writeovers.

Many many clues seemed too straightforward... GESTALT is indeed "it exceeds the sum of its parts" etc.
And "Cinema Paradiso" is indeed ITALIAN.

That said, there is a light airiness to this that I like:

It's funny, I got QUICKSTUDY first so put in a U before I read the other clue, so maybe that was the genesis, that it would be fun to cross a QU word with a Q word that is not followed by a U?

Why/When is an EPEE electric?

"The Hills" is one of my many many many guilty pleasures, I am usually watching it at 1 am when I am usually solving the puzzle!
(To the point that I have started to say, "Yeah, right?" a la Lauren, whom I still don't get why they consider her to be the good girl...she seems like such a bitch to me and her friend Lo is, like, unbearable. But that Brody is hot!)
(Above monologue to be read in a Valley accent please.)

jae 2:52 AM  

@syndy -- blue = trashcan, black = not so much.

@andrea -- EPEE is wired for scoring purposes. I think I got that from BEQ.

Anonymous 2:54 AM  

Epees, and other competition swords, have electric tips/buttons so that "hits" can be scored properly. The fencers' jackets are also wired, so that (depending on the weapon), only the designated target area hits will count.


Octavian 4:14 AM  

Felt like a Monday themeless. Extremely easy. Just blazed through it with only one stop for SPOONERISM.

As Andrea said, the cluing seemed too straightforward for a late-week puzzle. ... Was hoping "Like Cinema Paradiso" tipped ''over-rated." But no, it was "Italian." Sure was.

Got me thinking. What other things are Italian that might be more surprising or interesting to use as a clue. So here's one thing I didn't know: Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia were all one big colony known as Italian East Africa from 1936-1945, ruled by King Victor Emmanuel III. VE3 called himself "the Emperor of Ethiopia" during that time.

Now if only we could dig up a Dean Martin song, ''Arrivederci, Addis Ababa'' ...

Kareem 5:23 AM  

Concur with most of the posts, while this wasn't particularly bad it was made all the more mundane by the shear joy of yesterday. "Maximum, Exigent, and Regular" were the last to fall. Like Rex, I couldn't see "Regular" for a long time, but smirked when I did. Wanted some variation of "Cliff Clavin", but that was asking too much. @ Rex, there are two Itos that are WWII related, but they are pretty obscure. Tojo's wife was Katsuko Ito. Even more obscure, Kenji Ito was a pretty well-known California Lawyer who successfully fought of spy charges during his internment following Pearl Harbor. Maybe you were thinking of one of those.

One question for the group: What is this process of submitting puzzles and times that I see referenced in the blog? I still have a few too many black triangles late in the week, but I am curious.


GILL I. 6:28 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle - perhaps because I could finish a Friday without a Google. I did wonder about the underwear clues....KLEIN and DKNY make them? I have a DKNY sweater that I'll have to re-think.
A large portion of DOCTOR ZHIVAGO was filmed in Spain. Back in the 60's and 70's Franco invited the film industry to come and hire cheap labor and Hollywood complied.
Some notables were Lawrence of Arabia, Cleopatra and the one I remembered the most was Patton.
The Spaniard's were particularly proud of ZHIVAGO but at one point I thought if I heard Lara's Theme one more time, I would go to hell.
Congrats REX and Sandy on daughter's accomplishment. That age is so wonderful.

GILL I. 6:59 AM  

P.S. @Princess Kosmonopolis: I say stick with intits.

retired_chemist 7:19 AM  

@ campesite, syndy - thx re heard. Post-NBA playoff game mental block....

David L 7:32 AM  

Hmm. Too easy for a Friday. Too boring. Also, too many phrases: TAKETEN, SEEMSTO, NOCANDO, ASIN, ONTRACK, etc etc.

I do like this new word GOUNDER, however. Will have to find a way to use it in a sentence. This crossword totally goundered, in my estimation.

JenCT 7:57 AM  

Only knew VELUM as a tracing paper; learned a new definition today.

Thanks for the explanation of EPEE as electric.

Liked seeing EXIGENT & MINUTIA (though I stumbled on the spelling.)


Kurisu 8:11 AM  

Pretty easy; I usually can't finish Friday without external help. I still hate ONED.

I also didn't understand TAPES or EPEE until I read the responses here.

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

simple. what's with ridiculously easy puzzles the friday before a holiday weekend? do they want to help people feel good about themselves going into a vacation? just wondering. fastest time ever for a friday.

David 8:38 AM  

really zipped through this, almost half the time of WEDNESDAY'S, let alone Thursday's....

only stall was the extreme SE, thinking TAPED or TAPES (maybe), but drawing a blank on the great Leonard NIMOY momentarily to give me the confident cross needed to finish (I couldn't get beyond crew member = Gilligan, who was hardly stoic).

GLR 8:38 AM  

I liked this a bit more than Rex and some of the commenters here. First, any grid with only four 3-letter answers is off to a good start with me (but I didn’t care much for any of those four). A few more proper names than I like, but most were familiar. Nonetheless, I wanted Lee ELDER before Calvin PEETE and HANES before KLEIN for underwear.

I thought all of the 7-letter answers were solid – particularly liked those in the southeast.

I was a little thrown by ECUS. I was familiar with the ecu that was the predecessor of the euro, but not the older French version.

Did not (and still do not) like 62A. I was hoping to come to the blog and learn that “Heard” was the name of some famous criminal who was convicted on the basis of taped evidence.

fikink 8:44 AM  

Hand up for Hanes, reading GOUNDER to rhyme with flounder and not knowing that epees were hot. I shall keep reading.

@Rex, is that not a picture of Leonard Feather?

John V 9:00 AM  

Finished, with an error, spotted when I came here. Had FOUNDER for 29A, ELQUAEDA for 25A, which produced EFIN for 25D. Not sure that Hills folks talk that way, but, whatever. The error aside, as all noted, very easy Friday, way easier than yesterday, which, O.T. (couldn't get here yesterday) made my list of all time great puzzles.

evil doug 9:18 AM  

Doesn't Ashton Anderson understand that NYT rules require the answer for "Peak" to be a four-letter word beginning with "a"?


Errata 9:25 AM  

29A is obviously misclued:

Gounder (Tamil: கவுண்டர்) is a caste title used by different communities from the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The title or its variant is also used by some in the Tamil diaspora around the world. In Tamil Nadu, the title predominantly refers to Kongu Vellalars, while Vettuva Gounders, Vanniars and Vokkaligas also use the title.


OldCarFudd 9:26 AM  

Agree easy and pleasant. I was also put off by IDE as a periodic table suffix. All the ides I ever heard of were compounds, but unlike retired-chemist I was too lazy to go check the periodic table to see if I'd forgotten one.

nanpilla 9:46 AM  

Love the mental image of SNEAK A PEEK followed by TATTLE TALE. Maybe having a little brother makes this evocative for me.....

This was an easy for me, too.

Got back earlier this week from a delightful horsey vacation with OldCarFudd's wife. She sure knows how to put together a great group of horse-lovin' women!

@pizzatheorem - I also thought Actinides and Lanthanides.

jackj 9:46 AM  

Another Friday themeless disappointment.

I count 30 clues whose answers were immediately evident, (those cluing APSE, ONED, TAKETEN, plus 27 more).

All the rest, except for TATTLETALE, (which first wanted to be LITTLEBRAT), were easily gettable after entering a crossing letter.

The puzzle's fill was adequate but the cluing was so feeble it drained all the enjoyment from this one.

Wherefore art thou, Will?

joho 9:55 AM  

It is always fun to read that @Rex has made the same first mistakes that I did such as aSaP and EmInENT.

This was very easy for Friday, for sure. The hardest section for me was the SE because I had ASIs blocking MINUTIA for too long. I also had DOin for DOOM.

I'm kind of hoping tomorrow will be a bear.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

Shouldn't European capital be Capitol? Otherwise we're talking Lira?

Andrew 10:38 AM  

Got stuck at the intersection of PONTI (who?) and BONN, which stopped being a capital when I was about 2 years old. Thankfully guessed correctly though. Somewhat shamed not to know my recent European history, but Western Civ was quite a while ago...

Since you asked 10:38 AM  

@Anon 10:19a

No, the seat of government is in the capital city, meeting in the capitol building.


Tobias Duncan 10:38 AM  

This was the most fun I have ever had on paper.I find paper sovling barbaric, mostly because I find my handwriting barbaric.
I have to say that I really appreciate the lack of crappy fill.That should get way more kudos than it does.

Just sang the old song in my head and I am pretty sure there are no IDES of the periodic table.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

FYI Hillbilly is a very offensive term. It is akin to using the N word.

Two Ponies 10:48 AM  

I guess I liked this one better than most. The SE was the last to fall. Nice vocabulary in that area.
I could not believe gounder was a word. That's loco.
I can't find the comment above that made a captcha joke about rabbit's foot/ gnu's hoof but that was pretty good.
Hi Evil Doug!

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

@Anon 10:46

If it really were akin to using the N word, you'd call it the H word. So give me a break.

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

Never knew epee could be electric, could only think of prod! Strongly object to minutia. This old-timer believes the correct spelling to be minutiae.

NitPicker 10:55 AM  

EPEE as an "Electric Weapon" annoyed me.

EPEE was a weapon long before "electricity".

It was electrified for competition, where it ceased to be a weapon.

Only a manual Epee should be considered a weapon (see baseball bat)


td 11:02 AM  

despite having the latter part (ROSE) for the clue "Wooer's surprise" I resisted the correct answer for a while because I thought that, while a red rose might be surprising to the one being wooed, it would not be to the wooer, who presumably had gone out and acquired the flower in question and thus would not be taken aback by its presence.

who does the surprise belong to, the one being surprised or the one doing the surprising?

Tobias Duncan 11:14 AM  

anon @10:46 AM

The PC movement came about specifically to marginalize hillbillys. You will no respite under is auspices.

Arundel 11:18 AM  

So, okay. I learned something - that epees can be electrified. But otherwise, pretty dull. Adequate fill, but foolish misdirection compounded by feeble cluing. If you want to get picky, ODEA are apparently meant for poetry, not drama.

The best part of this puzzle, not surprisingly, was coming here to read the comments. Arrivederci, Addis Ababa!

CY 11:21 AM  

Signs that crosswords have messed up your head: you read a clue like "old European capital" and you expect the answer to be currency.

Loved the clue for SPOONERISM: had me misdirected for ages--even after I got the ISM, which I suppose is kind of sad.

Unlike most people here, I found this to be an average Friday crossword--it wasn't particularly easy for me. That said, I do agree with the consensus, that this Friday was easier than yesterday's Thursday (which I didn't finish).

@Two Ponies:
I could not believe gounder was a word.

It's two words.

quilter1 11:24 AM  

Busy morning so checking in late, but basically what everyone said. I enjoyed the RED ROSE and MINUTIA answers. When wooing me my hubby brought me a single red rose to persuade me to go for a ride in his red convertible. It worked!

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Yes, to all above. This solve was a bit lackluster, though its fun to finish a Friday.

My favorite moment was deciding that Obiter Dictum could mean "aside" because Obiter could mean "after" since it seems related to Obituary (I know no Latin, so this is probably wrong).

I also liked getting to "tee time" from the fact that "Tea Time" is at four. Now, four is not "foursome" but that's how I got to it. I have never played golf. Is 4 the most people who go around together in a group? Can you go by yourself or in a pair if you pay extra? Do you have to have more than one person to play?

The puzzle was easy because of all the crosswordese. Styx, Tee, Odea, Epee, Neap, Par, Ecus, Ecol, Easel, Et tu, Loco..... It makes crossword constructing seem limiting.

CY 11:40 AM  

alqaeda qarla minutia said:
irate had to become ABOIL.
For me too.

Kareem said:
One question for the group: What is this process of submitting puzzles and times that I see referenced in the blog?

If you can log in to the New York Times website, follow this link.

David L said:
I do like this new word GOUNDER, however. Will have to find a way to use it in a sentence. This crossword totally goundered, in my estimation.

"Gounder" actually has the irregular past tense "wentunder".

John V. said:
Had ELQUAEDA for 25A.

"El" is Spanish; "Al" is Arabic--as in algebra, algorithm, and (as it is redundantly known) the Alhambra.

td said:
despite having the latter part (ROSE) for the clue "Wooer's surprise" I resisted the correct answer for a while because I thought that, while a red rose might be surprising to the one being wooed, it would not be to the wooer, who presumably had gone out and acquired the flower in question and thus would not be taken aback by its presence.

who does the surprise belong to, the one being surprised or the one doing the surprising?

The one doing the surprising I'd say, in this case.

"I have a surprise for you."
"Oh! What's your surprise?"

CY 11:45 AM  

Anonymous (10:55 AM) said:
Strongly object to minutia. This old-timer believes the correct spelling to be minutiae.

No, it was quite scrupulously clued in the singular.

Two Ponies 11:50 AM  

@ CY,
Thanks, I am now an official idiot.

KarenSampsonHudson 12:44 PM  

Fast Friday.

jberg 12:49 PM  

Yeah, pretty easy. After SNEAK A PEAK I thought we were going to get rhyming answers, but no - and for that matter nothing longer than TEN, which was hard to TAKE on a Friday.

I had FOUNDER at 29A, ASTIR at 1 A, and FRAME at 41D, but the crosses fixed them all. Same with SOUS for ECUS. Btw, the ECU was not an early form of European currency, it was just the French proposal, standing for European Currency Unit. Of course, everyone else noticed that they were just trying to get everyone else to use an old French unit, so Euro was chosen instead.

11D held me up the longest - I wanted a bridge term! Most spoonerisms don't give you real words, so I actually got the answer from the crosses before I could figure out how "trump the jack" was one.

I had the same reaction as @retired_chemist to IDE, but I guess the periodic table does mention those transition groups (Lanthanide, Actinide) explicitly, so it's a good misdirection.

Somehow, I thought of both one and tea before coming up (er, down) with RED ROSE.

@anonymous 10:59 AM - minutiae is the plural; a minutia is one of them.

Sparky 12:50 PM  

@Nitpicker: same thought here re EPEE. They were not electrified at gym classes either. @td: I was thinking a big kiss or something. @CY has a good point. @Two Ponies: Though I got GO UNDER when solving, as it catches my eye here I keep saying Huh? Looks funny.

Happy to solve today. Yesterday shamed me. Weekend on the way. Yay (which is not how I would spell it.)

CoffeeLvr 12:54 PM  

This puzzle was remarkably free of crap filler, and that means a lot to me. There are some short words in the grid, but they are jammed together (UPTOPAR, I won't create a list.)

I found the proper names the hardest part (MEESE & PEETE in particular.) I did (finally) remember REYS off the RE; I could see the cover of the book, but not the name.

Really like GESTALT, had a nice aha moment when I saw it.

I could write you a true story about the bratty little TATTLETALE brother who just had to SNEAKAPEEK. I just don't feel clever enough this morning to make it entertaining.

PuzzleNut 1:04 PM  

Thanks to all who explained the electric EPEE. But also agree with NitPicker that it's not exactly correct.
Had the same thought re MINUTIA, and glad to learn something new thanks to fellow bloggers.
My solve time seemed pretty average for me, but what I did notice is that all the lightly filled answers turned out to be correct today. I guess that tips this puzzle to the Easy side. Only potential write over was DOin for DOOM, but the terminal I seemed problematic.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

@JenCT said...

Only knew VELUM as a tracing paper; learned a new definition today.


Um, that's VELLUM.

Ross G-Whiz 1:11 PM  

OK puzzle I guess, had a bit of trouble in Georgia for no apparent reason.

Not sure "large load" clue crossing an underwear clue passes my breakfast test. Fortunately I finished breakfast awhile ago.

efrex 1:29 PM  

After yesterday's DNF slogfest, I was all too happy to have a relatively easy Friday puzzle. I didn't catch on to APSE or SPOONERISM for far too long and didn't know ECUS. Liked the grid shape and the general high-quality fill. Fun clues for NIMOY, SPOONERISM, and ETTU, and I don't mind phrases in my puzzles, to TAKETEN, SNEAKAPEEK, and NOCANDO were just fine by me.

william e emba 1:51 PM  

Very easy, with four writeovers: ium->IDE, dogname->POPSTAR, doin->DOOM, tangent->EXIGENT.

Although I'm a fan (like everybody else, of Curious George) I really remember the author's name from his Find the Constellations (for children) and his The Stars: A New Way to See Them (for adults), both of which I pored through at a young age. H. A. REY introduced new, far superior ways to picture the constellations so that they actually looked like their names, along with some of the most engaging elementary science writing anyone has ever written and illustrated. As one back cover quoted reviewer said, "Hoo-REY". I've remembered that for forty years now. Unfortunately, his versions are copyrighted, so no other astronomy book uses them. Even more unfortunately, with light pollution today so bad, I can rarely see the constellations anyway anymore.

Obiter dictum made me think of footnotes, since that's where many of them end up. I needed the crosses.

I too thought wooer's surprise was something that surprised the wooer (like saying no to a marriage proposal), not the wooee. (Yes, I know, the word is "wooed".)

With "trumping the jack" and "foursome starts" I kept thinking of bridge.

I think I must have been half asleep though, since I did not get APSE until I had some crosses, and it did not even occur to me think of currency for the bygone European capital like I was supposed to. I actually thought, hmm, European country that disappeared, not Belgrade, Yugoslavia, must be East Germany, wait, not Berlin either. Well, OK, I'll wait until I get some crosses.

Am I the only person who has never ever even heard of Cinema Paradiso? I looked it up on Wikipedia, and was surprised something that apparently famous could draw such a complete blank. I've seen very few foreign films, but I certainly recognize a good number of the more famous titles, even if rather vaguely.

retired_chemist 2:30 PM  

Figured out obiter dictum from iter (road), dictum (something said), and the assumption that ob was a Latin pronoun meaning away from, cf. ab. Wonder if I was right on the latter?

sanfranman59 3:21 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 17:03, 25:49, 0.66, 4%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 9:18, 12:42, 0.76, 13%, Easy

mac 3:29 PM  

I guess I liked this one better than most of you, maybe because I liked a lot of the vocabulary.

For 10A I had "rise" for a while (as in "all rise" for the judge to come in and tell the jury to give their decision). I know, too convoluted.

Saw Leonard Nimoy at the Book of Mormon theater.

Clark 3:40 PM  

@retired_chemist. Close. 'ob' means 'to' or 'toward'. So 'ob' + 'iter' is something like 'to the road'. I get my hat and coat, I pause at the door on my way out, and I say, "By the way . . ." Or something like that. Of course, that is just when the most important things are sometimes said.

william e emba 4:12 PM  

RC: ob is the Latin preposition that's the opposite of ab. So obiter literally means "towards the road", in other words, "headed off from where we are right now".

A better-known WWII Ito was Seiichi Itō, an admiral who went down with his battleship Yamato during the battle of Okinawa.

Jenny 4:13 PM  

@Andrew: If Bonn stopped being Germany's capital when you were 2, I'm surprised your Western Civ days aren't still ahead of you.

Didn't find this as easy as most people seem to have. WOTD would have been VELUM. That is all.

Alan 6:21 PM  

Two bumps in a fast track Friday: 32D make a goner seems too colloquial for DOOM so I stuck with DOin for quite a while; then, as others have mentioned, I found fOUNDER for GOUNDER. Along with flOUNDER, these synonyms with visually deceptive non-rhymes are just what this bland puzzle needed.

jberg 7:43 PM  

So many interesting theories about the etymology of OBITER DICTA. When I took Constitutional law, I was told it meant "other words" - other than the decision, that is. But I suddently realized that I have a Latin dictionary right here, and it turns out that the ob + iter explanation is correct. Colloquially, "along the way," or "in passing."

retired_chemist 8:22 PM  

@ Clark and @ Wm E emba - thanks. May we all never stop using this blog as a vehicle for our own learning.

Stan 7:37 PM  
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Dirigonzo 9:45 AM  

Puz paper is delivered in the PM for me, so no comments on that count yet (although I did notice RP rated it "Challenging" so I'm getting mentally prepped for that). I came here early today to wish @Waxy in Montreal, @Red Valerian and all the other solvers in that part of syndicationland that lies "north of the border" a happy Canada Day - 144 years of self-governing and going strong!
Congratulations and many happy returns!

Back later (possibly much later) to see how the puzzle went for everybody.

NotalwaysrightBill 10:45 AM  


Better than a fourth (at least 16 of 62) of the answers were compound words or multiple word phrases. Few phrases in the vernacular use sixty cent words and I think this contributed to an unusually easy Fripuz.

Appreciate the explanation for the competition EPEEs. Was afraid that computer jerks had developed a new nastiness to foist on poor unsuspecting non-nerds like me.

How does that work: do they hold Gods court alongside the river STYX and have Minerva or whoever stick her right hand in the water and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, so help me me?

Excellent Miles music.

If [31D Senate censure=ETTU] refers to Caesar's last-gasp "ET TU Brute," the clue seems a little remote, reaching. If it's part of the back story to the famous line (i.e. ET TU was a regular procedural utterance of the Roman Senate, used especially during censure), I'm unfamiliar with that bit of history and anyway there surely must be more context to it. Never heard of it used in connection to any American legislative procedure or in reference to any other modern Senate either. So WTF?

Not a waste of time: how often do you hear EXIGENT?

Red Valerian 12:47 PM  

@Dirigonzo: Thanks!!! And a happy birthday to y’all “down there” (not to exclude Alaska, of course)!!! I’d defer the birthday greeting until Monday, but we leave for holidays in Turkey on Tuesday, and I’m worried that I’ll be too discombobulated to remember. Anyhow, best wishes!

Liked the puzzle well enough, but it really was far too easy for a Friday. But some good words/clues, as noted above (exigent, spoonerism, Nimoy…) And, as noted by @David L, a whole new word!: gounder!, as in “epic gounder,” “I gound(er?)ed that class, “:-)

@NotalwaysrightBill: LOL at "so help me me"

Happy holiday weekend, folks from either the US or Canada…

Lurking, Just Behind You 1:28 PM  

@Rex.....Loved the Cannonball should post a 10 minute jazz track every single day...all the better to have a GREAT soundtrack while I read the blog.

I liked puzzle today ALOT more than many of you. EXIGENT, MINUTIA, GESTALT, DILATED, MAXIMUM, along with the compound QUICKSTUDY, ITSONME, NOCANDO, SEEMSTO, SNEAKAPEEK, ONTRACK, TEAROUT, TATTLETALE, UPTOPAR....I liked them all. And it goes withhout saying that I really like ALTOSAX.

@Princess Kosmonopolis - re. intits - THATS why it is clued with underwear in the first place.....can't believe that Evil Doug didn't make that comment 5 weeks ago.

Waxy in Montreal 7:58 PM  

Thanks for the kind words re Canada, @Dirigonzo. I notice there's a shoutout to you, sorta, at 26D.

Late posting cuz was at a Canada Day celebration watching my oldest granddaughter do Highland Dancing. Trumps solving the NYT puzzle everytime.

And as @Rex mentioned 5 weeks back, plain vanilla puzzle today, especially compared with yesterday's beaut.

Captcha=wormsil. Whatever product it is, it's repugnant!

Deb 8:04 PM  

I didn't find this nearly as easy as everyone else. I finished the entire puzzle fairly quickly save the top three answers in the northeast. My first thought for 10A was "CAN I" and I just couldn't let loose of it, and I am still baffled as to why "trump the jack" is a Spoonerism. Like others, I had no idea an epee could be electrified, and "dole" is always a word I think of in less than charitable terms. Like another poster, I really wanted something along the lines of a slap in the face for "wooer's surprise," though I could see how it could be read the other way when I finally SNuCK A PEEK to finally finish the dastardly puzzle. On the other hand, I don't think most wooees are terribly "surprised" by roses, whether singly or by the dozen.

captcha=feraffac - compendium of frequently asked questions about the late Ms. Fawcett

Red Valerian 1:35 PM  

@Deb: "trump the jack" is a spoonerism for "jump the track," though, out of context, there's no reason to see it as one. I didn't get the answer until I had quite a view of the letters from crosses.

Deb 4:10 PM  

Thanks, Red. I was getting my Spoonerisms mixed up with my malapropisms; even though I saw that the latter would fit early on, I kept rejecting it.

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