Family in John Grisham's Skipping Christmas /FRI 7-22-11/ Pool exhibitions / Filming process multiple aspect ratios / Fantastic figure children's lit

Friday, July 22, 2011

Constructor: Todd McClary

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: AQUACADES (3D: Pool exhibitions) —

A water spectacle that consists usually of swimming and diving with musical accompaniment. (
• • •

I apologize in advance for the briefness of this write-up. It's not just the hottest night of the year, it's the hottest night of the 12 years I've lived in this damned town. We have one room with A/C, and my wife is currently trying to sleep in there—the sound of my typing will not help, and let's just say the hottest night of the year is *probably* not the best time to be annoying my wife with my (admittedly heavy) clackitty-clacking. The heat somehow did not keep me from attending a Level 3 (hard) yoga class this evening in a non-air-conditioned studio, so I'm a little beat. Plus some jackass in my neighborhood apparently has a Lot of firecrackers he forgot to set off on the fourth, so it sounds like there's a full-on gun fight going on about a block away. None of this is conducive to clear or thoughtful writing. So, to be brief...

I mostly enjoyed this grid. Cluing seemed pretty damned hard, but I managed to make it through in an above-average but reasonable time. The smaller corners, with the longish Acrosses, are quite a bit better than the bigger corners, with the longish Downs. Specifically, I could do without AQUACADES (do these still exist? where do you go to see them?) and OPEN MATTE (an odd technical term I'll never remember) (33D: Filming process for multiple aspect ratios). Both feel very plucked-by-computer-from-a-wordlist. But the other longer answers are mostly nice. Enjoyed the LIFELIKE SEX SCENE (49A: Natural + 54A: R-rated element) and the idea of CLIP-ON TIE as a "fashion" (!) (31D: Hassle-free fashion item) and I could practically smell the AROMATIC MGM GRAND (16A: Redolent + 7A: Vegas Strip hotel). There were few answers that I really didn't like ... in fact, aside from the aforementioned long stuff, only one thing besides the obviously terrible REECHO (30A: Come back again) struck me as a real problem: KRANKS (27D: Family in John Grisham's "Skipping Christmas"). Who the what the? How in the world is anyone supposed to know this? Is that Grisham novel a classic? Widely known? So widely known one might be expected to know the family name? When did that happen. Nothing about the clue makes the answer inferrable. Doesn't feel like a legit answer at all. Didn't get the vowel until I *finally* deciphered LAST LAP (35A: It's signaled with a white flag). KRINKS seemed more likely, but only because of Kris KRINKle, which is obviously not his name. The MOWS clue kind of blows because the "(down)" part is completely unnecessary (20A: Cuts (down)). Red herring nonsense. DYSON (45D: James who invented the Dual Cyclone vacuum cleaner) crossing LYNDA (48A: ___ Bird, daughter of L.B.J.) at the "Y" felt a little dycey for few seconds, but I don't think any other letter makes any kind of sense there.But most of this was solid and entertaining.

  • 1A: California river, county or mountain (SHASTA) — first thing in the grid, after confirming the final "A" with ARS (6D: "___ Grammatica" (classic work on Latin)). Drove past Mt. SHASTA and drank SHASTA soda during many a summer trip as a kid.
  • 28A: 2003 movie involving Christmas Eve robberies ("BAD SANTA") — this puzzle really should've appeared in December.
  • 38A: Co-writer of Michael Jackson's posthumous hit "This Is It" (PAUL ANKA) — I only know one "This Is It." Nope, two.

[God I loved this song as a kid. I'm kind of an unrepentant Loggins fan. I blame "I'm Alright," from the "Caddyshack" soundtrack]
  • 7D: Island where Rafael Nadal was born (MAJORCA) — and not, as I initially guessed, CORSICA :(
  • 11D: Movie box set? (RAISINETS) — the "set" part is reeeaching, but I still like it.
  • 35D: Second pope, following St. Peter (LINUS) — I'd've gone Pauling or Van Pelt, but that's just me.
  • 42A: Style on Japanese screens (ANIME) — this one got me. I was sure the screens were decorative (and not movie/TV).
  • 20D: The "1" in 1/2, e.g. (MONTH) — an old trick that nonethless Totally got me.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


The Corgi of Mystery 12:15 AM  

Rex: I think we're supposed to have heard of the (terrible) movie "Christmas With the Kranks", which is based on the Grisham novel.

Really enjoyed this one...toughish for a Friday though.

Tobias Duncan 12:16 AM  

Due to severe fire restrictions, Taos had cancelled its fireworks display for the fourth and decided to have it tonight.I sat on my rooftop deck with a Manhattan and tried to finish before the final flourish. Almost made it!
Pretty tough stuff but felt mostly fair.Took me almost every cross to see MAJORCA, stupid J made me feel like a buffoon , I will remember this J...
66 degrees here, so glad I do not live in a hot city...

Keep cool y'all!

CoffeeLvr 12:21 AM  

@Rex, the KRANKS entry is not quite as obscure as it might seem. The Grisham novel was made into a parody movie titled "Christmas with the Kranks." I say it was a parody because I read the book when it came out in 2001, then later tried to watch the movie on TV, some time after it was released in 2004. Still, even I thought it was KRoNKS first.

REECHO makes me retch.

Best clue/entry for me was "Waste of an election?" CHADS

Overall, I liked this fine, but it did have an oddly winter feel with both movies, MUNCHKIN, and the date 1/2.

CoffeeLvr 12:22 AM  

@The Corgi of Mystery, I see you clarified while I was busy checking the dates!

SethG 12:28 AM  

Tammi Terrell? How did I know that? Why did I know that?

LAST LAP definitely tricky, but overall one of my faster Fridays.

erik 12:39 AM  

I was surer of KRANKS than of any other entry in the grid, as "Christmas with the Kranks" is firmly etched in my memory as the worst filmic excretion of this and any millennium.

chefwen 1:23 AM  

Had to Google a bit to get a toe hold which is often the case on Friday and Saturday. Much to my dismay there was precious little to Google. Finally managed to get in the door and it fell nicely except for my big faux pas at 31D where I had cOTTontEe, took me a long time to SORT that lot out. Put in REECHO and said to uninterested husband "there's going to be a lot of bitching about that one".

syndy 1:24 AM  

I got the nw fairly fast-sliceable being what mascarpone is not!but evrything else was earned!had FRAGRANT and FINGER BOWL and MADEIRA (is that an island?)went with LAOTZE so I had a lotta fixing to do!But most everything was fair or at least gettable from crosses and REX has mentioned the worst!(except 47 across!DOTS?) but MAITAI made me laugh and MONTH made me growl-in a good way!my timer still not working :<

lit.doc 2:28 AM  

Finished with the DISON/LINDA error. I really must start watching commercials more carefully. And I guess she was named Lynda Byrd Johnson, eh? No? Hmmmmm.

On the bright side, I'm starting to have a fighting chance with late-week puzzles, so...progress.

Speaking of which, @RP, I got to the Thursday puzzle just before this one--belated congrat's on an excellent and fun-to-solve puzzle. Especially liked GORGONZOLA, which is my favorite snack when I'm stoned.

I apologize for that one.

jae 3:07 AM  

Easy-medium for me. Did the NW while making automated tee time reservations. NE was on the tough side. Hang ups were (a) LIEWITH does not easily spring to mind and (b) starting out with MINI... for 26a. Had "solid" written in the margin, i.e, I liked it.

LINUS was a pope, who knew?

I own a DYSON, nice vac!

jae 3:22 AM  

Oh, and KRANKS was a total WTF. Any obscure cross would have made this a NATICK for me.

Sitting here watching Ferguson a day late--

email "I karaoked to Justin Bieber last weekend, can I call myself a man?

Craig -- No sir, you cannot!

Anonymous 4:09 AM  

I didn't get it, but raisinets was funny. Two days in a row cutting deli meat and cheese, wonder what we'll be slicing this weekend.

andrea clipon michaels 4:56 AM  

My first answer after SHASTA was SLICEdche!
Could NOT figure out what a "dHA moment" was!!! When I finally got AHA, I AHA moment! SO that was nice.

I liked everything about this puzzle, including that it's practically a pangram just in the NW corner alone, but no V!

FWIW I tried KRuNKS and totally believe this is a winter funny on what seems to be unbearably hot (everywhere but here in SF where July still necessitates extra sweater and scarf!)

Accidentally guessed MAJORCA and FIESTA
(insert self-back patting here)
and liked the MAITAI and HIGHCHAIR clues.

Also, luckily I am a VERY late night TV watching (note the post time on this) so DYSON was a gimme.
Well, a gimme once I had ?iSON in place!

SEXSCENE! How risque!

Job TItle 4:57 AM  

Hey, better KRANKS than yesterday's bloomin' horse moniker from almost 100 years ago, which is a ridiculously long and pointless way to get SIR...

[captcha = refershe, which up to the obvious respelling looks very welcome in 100-degree welcome]

Job TItle 6:21 AM  

100° weather, that is...

Anonymous 6:35 AM  

Wimbledon didn't make MAJORCA easier?

JenCT 7:35 AM  

Okay, I still don't get 20D MONTH - anyone?

Really wanted SAMPLESALE for 29D, but wouldn't fit.

Also don't like the "set" part of the clue for RAISINETS.

Never heard of AQUACADES or OPENMATTE.


Anonymous 8:03 AM  

1/2 equals January 2nd.

JenCT 8:08 AM  

@Anon 8:03 - Thanks.

David L 8:19 AM  

Slow start, with random fill here and there, but then I got going and finished in a time just on the easy side of medium.

Can anyone explain LIEWITH? Makes no sense to me, except in the biblical sense. How do you lie with a decision? Unless you're a ref and you've accepted a bribe, maybe.

joho 8:29 AM  


heWS before MOWS was a problem.

It was really hard inking in REECHO.

In the end I thoroughly enjoyed this Friday. Not only because I could do it, but it had a lot of fresh and interesting fill.

Great job, Todd!

jackj 9:00 AM  

Would have been an unqualified "yes!" for Todd's excellent Friday if he hadn't thrown REECHO and PAN into the mix and chosen, with malice (or something) aforethought the execrable SLICEABLE thus allowing a Joe Btfsplk like dark cloud to hover over the whole thing at the start.

Fortunately, things changed around quickly with exquisite entries like HIGHCHAIR, MONTH, CHADS, AHA, the Colon and Peewee clues and the always fun to see and say ERSATZ.

So, after a heavy scrub with PANTENE, odiferous became AROMATIC and all was well in Crossword Land.

Thanks to Todd McClary.

Z 9:11 AM  

Liked Puzzle. Hated REECHO.

I'm wondering what the EMOTICON is for a LIFELIKE SEXSCENE.

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

@Z !.

Lindsay 9:25 AM  

AQUACADES made me laugh. Charmingly retro. There's a Cypress Gardens bumper sticker tacked up in my garage, complete with a cheese(!)cakey chick in a tutu on waterskis. It was there when I bought the house, and when the person before me bought the house, and the person before that ....

***timarm = Lincecum asset

evil doug 9:27 AM  

150+ words before the write-up to explain why you're going to be brief? I bet your wife is glad you didn't choose to be verbose....

Does Weeki Wachee count as an aquacade? It's still happening with those mermaids:

"The Little Mermaid

See the world famous mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs as they perform their version of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid.

The Little Mermaid celebrates her birthday and comes face to face with her Prince! Yearning to have legs like her Prince, the Little Mermaid makes a deal with the sea witch to give her what she wants in exchange for her beautiful voice.

A fierce battle ensues as the the Prince and the sea witch struggle to save the Little Mermaids beautiful voice proving that "Love does conquer all."

Show times are 11 a.m. & 3 p.m."


dk 9:37 AM  

HA! Had SUN Stu for a while as I misspelled ERSATZ. As I recall SUN Stu is SUNTZU's idiot cousin.

REECHO was strained but the rest was just fine.

Z and Anon how about := for the EMOTICON.

The fact that I remembered LYNDA Bird right off the bat scares me. I think I will see if Tobias has any of those Manhattan's left.

I like both 11d and 47a as movie treats.

Ok off to work.

*** (3 Stars) Fine Friday puzzle.

dk 9:39 AM  

By the by. Robert Downey Sr. used to host the AQUACADES on Wirth Lake in Minneapolis.

Matthew G. 9:51 AM  

Found the east half of the puzzle considerably harder than the west. Never heard of AQUACADES, but very gettable. If not for guessing HINGE ON before LIE WITH, I'd have had the west filled in with barely a pause.

The main thing that pushed my time into the Med-Chall range was the SE, where the long downs took me forever to see (partly because I, unsurprisingly, didn't think of RE-ECHO). Was trying to think of a women's fashion item rather than a men's at CLIP ON TIE, never heard of OPEN MATTE, and HAZARDING is just tough as clued.

Finished with the LINDA/DISON error, and when it didn't submit, I immediately changed the I to a Y. Et voila.

Agree with the first poster that the "Christmas with the Kranks" film adaptation's title is how we were expected to (and how I did) know that family. Still pretty tough, since one doesn't associate John Grisham with comedy (or incredibly bad films with 5% Rotten Tomatoes ratings).

@David L: Turn the phrase around. E.g.: "The decision ultimately will LIE WITH the president."

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

How has no one mentioned the [Look!, in Latin] clue duping LOOK ON in the grid? I really didn't want to put in LOOK ON because I thought it couldn't be that, due to the clue. Other than that, mostly enjoyable, although I finished the nice stuff first then had to slog through the nastier bits to finish.

AARP 9:58 AM  

AQUACADES are still popular, mostly in Fla and S. Cal.

The afternoon shows get out early enough to catch the early bird / senior discount double play at Ihop.


chefbea 9:58 AM  

Had to google a bit but not bad for a Friday. Never heard the word hazarding relating to gambling.

Guess tomorrow we will have sliced bread.

Masked and Anonymous 10:06 AM  

@David L: "All hope of solving the tricky NE PuzCorner LIEs WITH unearthing JOBTITLE at 18-Across." Now substitute "depends upon" for "lies with". Not exactly a sparkling explanation, but hope it gives you the general idea.

Speaking of the NE, the puz went pretty fast until I tried to drive thru them parts. Finally finally got JOBTITLE off ".....TLE", and then the seas parted, the sun came out, Mr. Happy Pencil resplendently descended, etc.


Fave clue: "Waste of an election?" Har.

Fave fill word: MGMGRAND. Primo consonant-cramming.

"Oh, man!" moment: MAITAI. Can't belie-e-e-eve how long that took me to get.

Stay cool, 31. Stay in and cut some more cheese.

David L 10:21 AM  

@Matthew G and M&A: Thanks. That's ... tricky!

Karen 10:23 AM  

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the alternate spelling "Mallorca". That's how I've always spelled this island. I couldn't get it to fit so the the NE stymied me for a while. I've never seen "Majorca" before...

Mike Rees 10:46 AM  

I was just reading your comment about Kenny Loggins while "I'm Alright" was playing on my radio lol. I had to look up SHASTA, the entire NW was a mystery to me until I put that in.

Bassetwrangler 10:48 AM  

I'm remembered from Denis Leary's speech in "Recount" that chad was the plural form. Since chads is an also acceptable plural form, I'm left hanging.

Jimmy Q 10:49 AM  

I don't get the "Waste of an election?" clue... can anyone help me cure my ignorance?

slypett 10:54 AM  

With great confidence, right after I got 22A ECCE, I blundered into 'processed'for 1D. This might have been a problem, if I'd had a clue as to what the other clues meant.

LIESWITH is a worse abomination than REECHO. Of course REECHO could be the name of grandma's grabber.

Two Ponies 10:55 AM  

This was fun to solve with lots of tricky clues and "aha" moments.
Dots crossing dice amused me.
My window at work overlooks the entire Strip and it still took a bit to get MGM Grand. Venetian and Bellagio also fit.
No idea who that Nadal guy is and the clue for 33D could have stopped after "filming process" since the rest had no meaning for me. Nice puzzle Todd!

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

Job title was quick after Majorca, Masked.I never had the Aha! moment today. That and month really teed me off. 5 Google searches. I hate having to do that. But I had to scratch the itch. MGM Grand! I would have been stumped forever. Never been to LV.

Howard B 10:59 AM  

Yep, "Chistmas With the Kranks" is better known as an awul movie, from which you're supposed to back-solve the Grishman answer. That's pretty tough. Hopefully you're up on your bad film adaptations from novels.

I liked the rest of this puzzle though. Made me dredge up things I didn't know I knew (Tammi Terrell?)

@Jimmy: "Waste of an election?" = CHADS. Those bits of hanging paper from punch-card ballots made infamous a couple elections back in Florida, causing recount havoc. A bit of a dated clue now, but crosswords still love 'em.

Stay cool, everyone. Drink lots of H2O.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Two Ponies, you can't see the nose in front of your face if you shut one eye I guess!

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

This puzzle and I were like two strangers passing in the night.

Not saying it was a bad puzzle by any stretch. Not saying I did bad. After a couple of googles for key squares, everything fell into place.

Rafael Nadal who? let alone where? At least I'd heard of Grisham even if I don't read him -- or Christmas stories.

AdvertGirl 11:43 AM  

Highchair (small diner location) and emoticon were my faves.

LookUpGuy 11:56 AM  


Mallorca is the Spanish (& Catalan) spelling.

Majorca is the English.

Since the clue didn't indicate a foreign word (e.g. Sp, or "to Juan"), the English spelling is needed.

Much like Rome vrs Roma.

JaxInL.A. 12:19 PM  

I got through everything but the SE, and in the end could not finish. HAZARDING, the unknowable OPEN MATTE, that oxymoronic male fashion item CLIP-ON TIE all defeated me. The crosses didn't help much.

I still don't get RENEGE for Card table error. Is that bridge?

I join Rex in my unrepentant enjoyment of Kenny Loggins. Catchy tunes, sung well and orchestrated with skill... What's not to like?

Thanks for HAZARDING the heat to keep us all amused, Rex.

ksquare 12:19 PM  

I believe the original Aquacade was at the NY World's Fair of 1939. It was produced by Billy Rose and starred Eleanor Holm with other bathing beauties in synchronized swimming patterns. He later married her.

thursdaysd 12:22 PM  

I got MAJORCA early because I thought MGMGRAND might be Majestic, which got me through the NE, but I had to let it sit overnight before finishing the NW, with an aha moment for AHA. I did have to google DYSON to finish the whole thing, but that's a much better Friday performance than usual for me. Fair amount of guessing for things like KRANKS and TAMMI and NILLA (?) but I'm another fan of CHADS.

@acme - it's not hot in SF??? I so wish I could afford to move there! Here in NC the heat index is over 100 again, and my yard is gasping for water.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

1A SonomA is also a "California river, county or mountain." Sigh...

John V 1:20 PM  

Felt like two separate puzzles to me. The entire West side fell immediately and the East took forever. SE last to fall, with FORM for DORM, ending with a one letter error. Grrrrr.

So, easy/medium to my Friday track record.

Hands up for hating reecho. Blech.

We got two colon clues in the same puzzle and not one of them, NOT ONE, was Yankee pitcher Bartolo. Sheesh. This IS a New York paper, right?

My WOTD, 36A ERSATZ. Love that word. Most favorite word in the world: INCHOATE. Does that ever appear in the puzzle?

captcha: claca. What we find in bells in Brooklyn

quilter1 1:51 PM  

I'm back temporarily. Mom doing better and has moved to transitional care before discharge next week.

I finished the puzzle at lunch and appreciated the hard cluing. So many things I didn't know. When PAUL ANKA emerged I thought, he's still alive? And collaborating with Michael Jackson? I don't know whether to be happy or sad. Many of the same favorite answers as others.

The Little Mermaid as written by Anderson is a tragedy. The Prince doesn't love her, she is in constant pain and when he marries someone else she turns into seafoam and disappears. Not really Disney or Weeki Watchee material. Most of Anderson's stories are really tragic, meant for adults. The Grimms weren't much better.

@JaxinLA: when is a good time to call you before Wednesday?

barednes: what you see in a SEXSCENE

Shamik 1:54 PM  

Delightfully chewy puzzle that I actually was able to begin to solve on the day it is published!!! Thank goodness for a day off! Definitely in the medium-challenging range today. Sad to say, PAULANKA for me is one of those celebrities I said, "Is he still alive?" Yikes!

Sorry for all the heat in the lower '48. Blissfully cool in Skagway, AK in my long sleeved shirt. Ok...I'll need short sleeves as the day warms up to 67. :-P~ As I tell all the tourists on my motor coach when they ask me if I live in Alaska all year. "I'm not stupid. I live in Arizona in the winter. Like I said, I'm not stupid." Or just very blessed.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

Tough one. And one letter (V) short of being a pangram. Couldn't get a V in there somewhere?

I don't know why I remembered Christmas With The KRANKS.

Hated REECHO. Pretty much hate all made-up words for crosswords.

Anyway, TGIF!

Chip Hilton 3:21 PM  

"You're All I Need" by TAMMI Terrell and Marvin Gaye was the first song I loaded on my iPod. They were wonderful together and, sadly, both died way too young.

CBS used to use "This is It" (Loggins, of course) for their highlight reel at the end of the NCAA basketball tourney, before they switched to the lesser "One Shining Moment".

Surprised to hear of people not recognizing the great Rafa Nadal. Thought for a moment he might have been born in Menorca before moving to his home island (one lovely place).

I'll join the chorus on REECHO (ugh) and CHADS (great clue).

100.4 here just outside of New Haven. And feels it.

jberg 3:36 PM  

I guess Will Shortz had to make a choice, group this with winter puzzles, or put it after the other one involving a deli slicer. I'm expecting pickles tomorrow.

Finished with an error - didn't remember it wasn't LiNDA Bird, and had no idea about DYSON, so DiSON seemed OK. For you young 'uns, at the time we took ol' Lyndon's desire to have the same initials for everyone in his family to be another sign of megalomania, so the LBJ names were kind of memorable.

On the other hand, I knew neither the Grisham book nor the movie, got KRANKS from crosses - but have to admit it's a good name for a family that wants to skip Christmas.

Also had no idea about the second Pope. My partner's brother, father, and grandfather were all named LINUS, and she hadn't heard about the Pope connection either - that qualifies as obscure.

@JaxinLA, in bridge you have to play a card of the suit led if you have it; if you trump, or discard another suit, and then later turn out to have had the suit, you have RENEGEd.

This one took me a long time, but with lots of ahas at maitai, highchair, and so many more, so I enjoyed it, even with the error.

John V 4:30 PM  

@jberg re: renege, ditto in pinochle. My uncle was remembered every trick card played in a hand. I learned from him to be careful about this.

nycscott 4:43 PM  

With only MRFOX and SEX from SEXSCENE on the first pass through, I'm proud to say that with determination and perseverance I solved the rest, with only a single peek at the solution for ATTEN when I was stuck and just couldn't continue. Despite what others have said, the clues for LIEWITH and MONTH are just horrible. And while deli meats are certainly SLICEABLE, so is a Coke can if you have a Ginsu knife. Weak.

long suffering mets fan 4:43 PM  

Reecho, reeeeely bad

Had HEWS before MOWS, like Rex said -- should have taken the (down) out

Really liked clues for CHADS, CLIPONTIE, HIGHCHAIR

good overall Friday puzzle, Todd thanks

stay cool, all ALL TIME HIGH ANY DAY SINCE WEATHER RECORDS BEGAN BEING KEPT of 106 in Newark, NJ today about 30 miles from here

Anonymous 4:52 PM  

@long suffering mets fan - You should come to Wantagh on Long Island; it's only 95°.

Had LOPS for MOWS, which is clued just fine - people get MOWed down by bullets and cars in the movies.

Anonymous 4:53 PM  

Isn't REECHO redundant?

sanfranman59 4:53 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 24:04, 25:53, 0.93, 37%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 12:40, 12:48, 0.99, 54%, Medium

mac 5:00 PM  

What a good Friday puzzle! Knew the re-echo would get a lot of complaints, but also that chads would be liked.

Also thought Majorca was spelled Mallorca, so I filled in Menorca (Hi Chip).

I didn't see the film, but for some reason I read that little Grisham book. Not very good. Was he giving the proceeds to charity?

mac 5:02 PM  

@John V: hope you get home tonight. Just heard the Metro North trains are not leaving NY because the tracks are melting!

The Raven 5:45 PM  

Help! I still don't get what RAISINETS is or are. Got it from crosees, but WTF is it? Are they?

Very nice puzzle. Finished in good time for a Friday (for me). Lots of clever, cryptic clues.

joho 6:00 PM  

@The Raven ... RAISINETS are chocolate covered raisins you buy in a box from the concession counter at the movies.

Doc John 6:24 PM  

A tough but fair puzzle.
So I'm driving north on The Strip in my mind- on the left is Mandalay Bay (with The Four Seasons and The Hotel), then Luxor and Excalibur. Tropicana on the right. Cross Tropicana Blvd and there's New York New York and Monte Carlo on the left, MGM on the right. Farther up I go, collect 8-lettered hotel names. You can see where this is heading. MGM GRAND didn't hit me until the end. Duh!
RAISINETS!- One of my favorite lines in "Blazing Saddles" is when, at the end, Harvey Korman strides up to the candy counter and tersely orders Raisinets.

Anonymous 7:14 PM  

28A: 2003 movie involving Christmas Eve robberies ("BAD SANTA") — this puzzle really should've appeared in December.

"Christmas in July" is Monday, July 25th.

anime chads maitai 7:23 PM  

I'm still lovin' on this puzzle, esp after all these comments...

Thanks for reminding me about the AQUACADES in my Minneapolis youth (I also have a random memory of going with my grandparents to see Buster Crabbe do a swimming demonstration circa 1967 but that must have been in NY?)

@quilter1, Shamik
Ha! Comforting that I wasn't the only one who thought PAULANKA was dead! Outliving Michael Jackson...that's crazy!

That is one helluva way to solve as opposed to getting a couple of the down letters...I think I had MG??R??? Makes it much simpler! ;)
And thanks for the "Blazing Saddles" trivia...hilarious!

Just happy to be here!

Stan 7:29 PM  

Good puzzle: challenging without being sadistic. But a LIFELIKE ANIME EMOTICON SEX SCENE would be a little scary.

CLIP-ON TIEs are just amusing, period. (Wish I had kept mine.)

OPEN MATTE or 'soft matte' is a method where you achieve the widescreen (theatrical) film ratio by shooting and editing the boxier 35mm frame, then matting out the top and bottom when it is screened. This allows you to convert to non-widescreen TV format by just leaving in the top and bottom parts, keeping all the information in the widescreen version, and avoiding the dread pan-and-scan process which cuts off slices of the image on the right or left. Anyway, perfectly clued.

Speaking of movies, we were trying to remember the the name of another Christmas Eve heist flick, with John Cusack ("The Ice Harvest," 2005). Rex might really like it -- walks the line between comedy and genuine film noir. Recommended for all.

william e emba 7:53 PM  

I liked this puzzle. I don't mind REECHO even. (Really, I don't know why people complain if there's a small number of ugly words. They're almost always a given, and if they're bizarre enough, I'll forgive it. The challenge is to come up with a sentence where it actually seems natural.)

My only disappointment was that DOTS was clued as a dull second variant on the "Colon" clue, suitable for a Tuesday clue. I mean, obviously it should have been clued as a lively repeat of the "Movie box set?" clue!!

Or at least REECHO yesterday's puzzle theme, not just SLICEABLE, but something like: "The Legendary Pink ____", group with 1985 song Gorgon Zola's Baby.

Karen 8:33 PM  

@ lookupguy: thx for the Majorca clarification!

jburgs 8:35 PM  

Fun challenging puzzle for me. Had to look up synonym for redolent to open up NE for me and googled suntzu.
Interesting to hear that I wasn't the only one who found Xmas with the Kranks the worst comedy ever. I literally flinch thinking about it. Jamie Curtis really is still beautiful though.

Jim 8:51 PM  

Very pleased I finished correctly, save the C in AQUACADES, which I could not infer. I took French, not Latin.

SE corner was most inaccessible, though I got LASTLAP, PINTSIZE and CLIPONTIE, in addition to all the downs toward the middle but that was it...for a long time. Could make neither hide nor hair of REEC__ and just sat there looking at it, confirming the crosses no fewer than 137,000 times.

Divined HAZARDING and REECHO at the same time, then gleefully filled in the rest, pausing to appreciate RENEGE, which is a tough word to infer, even for a card player such as myself.

Also proud I got ERSATZ just off the Z. I must be getting better at this here word...fill-in...thingy that we do.


michael 9:10 PM  

Liked this one. Good clues, tough, but gettable. Perfect for Friday. I even like reecho. So bad that it's good...

The first answer I wrote in was Majorca.

+wordphan 4:23 AM  

Reecho gave me a hissy fit! Rex, Sugar, a nice COLD Mint Julep will really help you get through these summer nights. Works for me!

Z 9:04 AM  

Courier and Arial are fonts! Doh!

Mighty Nisden 4:15 PM  

Living in California helped me start this one so was able to finish without much help. Nice to have an AHA moment with AHA!!

What a difference five weeks make! It was so hot then and now you are buttoning up for Irene!
Good luct east coast.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

I'm with chefwen; needed a few Googs to get a kickstart. The first of these was MAJORCA, which laid bare the NE (with a little help from ATTEN, one of the Count's lesser known numbers). Puzzled over MONT_ for the longest time, thinking there had to be some kind of advanced-math term for numerator. A date? And he picks 1/2 for the date? That goes beyond the pale. Give us a chance, man. I eventually got it after Googling SUNTZU, which yielded one of my favorite words: ERSATZ, and BADSANTA, after trying to lose a letter from HOMEALONE to shoehorn in there (Christmas Eve robberies--doesn't it just HAVE to be that??)
Anyway, after AHA-ing SWAPMEETS I had ___WIT_ for 34a, which I guessed was probably something-WITH. So to the NW, which opened up slowly like the petals of a rare flower. ECCE! (Thank you, Miss Lippi, my 90-year-old [in 1956] Latin teacher!) led to ____
CAD_S--what about AQUACADES--of course! LIQUOR! SHASTA came on crosses.
Had to Google PAULANKA as--of all possible clues--the co-writer of "This Is It?" Gawd, how obscure do you want to get? Is this just because it's Friday? Sheesh! Had some initial trouble in the SW thanks to the more pedestrian--but incorrect--LOOKAT for LOOKON. Once that writeover was in the SW was good to go.
A FINAL note about the SE: the proper term for not following suit is REVOKE, but I didn't think the vacuum guy's name would end in V. RENEGE means to back out of an agreement; it seems to have been borrowed for card use, but remains, to purists, a vulgarity.
Overall, despite the so-bad-it's-funny REECHO, a good solve.

Dirigonzo 5:35 PM  

It's Saturday and there's a hurricane bearing down on this part of syndiland, so I guess it's time to give up all hope of finishing this puzzle without help. I came here expecting the theme to be "Quicksand" because the more I struggled the deeper I sank, with no hope of getting out. I stumbled where everyone else did, but unlike others I was unable to recover. Good puzzle, everything makes perfect sense when you know the answers, which I did not.

Looking forward to Sunday's puzzle to entertain myself while Irene blows through Maine.

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