Soprano Josephine / FRI 7-8-11 / Pearl Fishers soprano / Mowing painter 1907 / Frugivorous creatures sci-fi / Amontillado's darker relative

Friday, July 8, 2011

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: OLOROSO (60A: Amontillado's darker relative) —

Oloroso ("scented" in Spanish) is a variety of sherry produced by oxidative aging. It is normally darker than amontillado and has a higher glycerine content, which makes it smoother and less dry. Oloroso is usually dark and nutty. (wikipedia)
• • •

Wow. This is apparently the week of me disliking puzzles by my friends. Ironic that this puzzle had N.C. WYETH in it (3D: "Mowing" painter, 1907). The last Quigley puzzle that had N.C. WYETH in it was the one that caused me to coin the concept of "The Natick Principle" (click on "FAQ," above, and scroll down for full definition) — the "N" in NCWYETH was crossing the "N" in NATICK, resulting in a completely uninferrable cross. Two proper nouns, neither of them super famous (the name WYETH was known to me, this one's exact *initials* were not), crossing at an uninferrable letter. Unfair and thus sucky. So today, in a puzzle that (once again, for a Friday) clearly should have been a Saturday, I was struggling and finally uncovered N.C. WYETH and had a little laugh. But then I was laughing less when I finished the grid but got no "Congratulations" from my software. Uh oh. Error. But where? I tried every fix I could think of, but nothing was working. Cross I was least sure of was SUM / WIIMATE (you can see the problem already) (45D: Modern-day video game controller). SUM had this crappy too-clever clue on it (57A: Plus exercise), and I was not at all certain that SUM worked. But I ran the alphabet there, and nothing. Turns out the error was farther down WIIMATE—at the "A," which is not an "A," but an "O." Yeah, my knowledge of vowels at the end of sherries: not so good. WIIMOTE sounds like "remote," I get it, but a. I've Never heard of it and b. I wanted a word to follow WII, which seems reasonable. That cross is just fatal. I honestly haven't been Naticked in years. And yet here we are.

I liked almost nothing about this puzzle. From start to finish it felt old and clunky, and the clues felt forced. Completely un-BEQ-like. Do any of his puzzles from his website, and you'll know how Off this one is. Again, I think he's giving his cast-offs to the NYT now. I feel like ... he might have sent me a note a couple weeks back saying Will had held on to this puzzle for some ungodly length of time, i.e. he constructed it Years ago. Or maybe I'm imagining that email. To be clear, I was disliking this puzzle the entire time I was doing it, not just at the end when I couldn't finish. That was just the icing. LAICS and LADER are junk I would never expect to see in a BEQ puzzle *unless* they were propping up awesomeness (which they are not today). No idea who LIA (54A: Knight who hosts a country music radio show) or LEILA (30A: "The Pearl Fishers" soprano) or BARSTOW are (55A: Soprano Josephine) [two sopranos? yuck.]. No idea PANJABI was spelled that way (1D: Most-spoken language in Pakistan). ANEAR? A-no. NIC? Oh, -aragua (29A: Córdoba's land: Abbr.). Ugh. Just stay with Cage. What I really liked was the clue on DRAG (26A: What some performers lip-sync in) and the clue on RHOMBUS (24D: Yellow feature of Brazil's flag). But stuff like SAL SODA and IN SCALE and MONACAN just aren't good enough on a Friday for me. Hard and unpleasant? Not a great combination.

  • 17A: Crystal-rubbing type (NEW-AGER) — thank god I pulled this one out, because I was struggling up there (last section to get filled in).
  • 20A: Tall bloomer with candelabra-shaped branches (SAGUARO) — the cactus. Hard to see because I was convinced that 10D: "Shortfin" or "longfin" fish was TUNA, which obscured the "O" in SAGUARO.
  • 38A: Footballer who co-starred in "The Dirty Dozen" (JIM BROWN) — don't remember that. Weird. Shot myself in foot here because of typo in EMO that gave me EMI and put an "I" where BROWN's "O" should be. :(
  • 53A: Frugivorous creatures of sci-fi (ELOI) — Ugh. Went with EWOK. That slowed me down.
  • 11D: 24th Russian letter (TSE) — ???? Really? People know that? Non-Russians? Dress it up all you want, it's still supercrosswordese.
  • 7D: Norway's second-largest city (BERGEN) — Weirdly, I wrote about BERGEN just a few days ago when it showed up on the cover of one of the sleazy vintage paperbacks that I write about at my other blog ("Pop Sensation"). The BERGEN on that cover was actually referring to a county in N.J., but I'd never heard of that BERGEN.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


foodie 12:40 AM  

Yes, challenging, but I think I liked it somewhat better than Rex.

I too had vowel problems. I think it's PuNJABI although googling after the fact shows that PANJABI is used albeit less frequently. I wanted MAKi for MAKO (but that's my fault), struggled with WIIMaTE and felt I was inventing WIIMOTE. Some stuff I should know well was embarrassingly hard to get at, like PANARAB and JAY (Gatsby). I felt LAITY had to be right until it was not sustainable... but other stuff fell in my lap-- e.g. ASSYRIAN, IPHONE (Thank you PuzzleHusband for owning a Droid). Enough in every corner for a toehold.

Liked seeing AROUSAL in the grid (with a fairly tame clue) and I loved the clue for MOMS!!!

Tobias Duncan 12:45 AM  

Second day in a row I got my ass completely kicked.
While I concede that yesterdays puzzle was tough but brilliant, today was just a joyless ass whipping for me.I feel much better about it after reading the write up.
Sometimes Rex is like the older brother who sticks up for you after the school bully has bloodied your nose.

i skip M-W 12:58 AM  

I guess I didn't think it was so bad, but then BEQ isn't my friend.

Having lived in Tucson, my first fill was Saguaro. that led to mako, Bergen, etc.

Still unsure what Monacan refers to. I doubt Monaco is near Port Hercules. There's a Hercules near Berkeley, but it's not a Port, I think.

I must agree that Barstow and Leila were too obscure, but they came form crosses. I guessed Oloroso from the first four letters, which gave me Wiimote, that sounded extremely plausible. Arcsine was a gimme, but never knew that spelling for Panjabi. I guess it's just phonetic though.

Happy to recall Tsongas, though I never much liked him as Presidential candidate.

Iphone and octopi, other gimmes.

jae 12:58 AM  

Like foodie, I liked this better than Rex but it doesn't measure up to the current BEQ fare.

NIC was a WTF till Nicaragua in Rex's write up. I was trying to make some version of Spain work.

NATICK gave me the WYETH answer.

I also had the A vs. O problem in MOTE. My bride, who spent a semester in college drinking in Spain, said go with O. So, technically, DNF.

Challenging works for me. More like a Sat.

treedweller 1:49 AM  

maybe this passed because it's Friday, but the official name is Wii Remote controller (Wii Remote Plus controller now). I kinda think it should say "slangily" or something.

i was beaten at MONACAN / LIA / NOtZERO, but managed to fill in everything else eventually.

XWDer 2:51 AM  

i know my hindi from my urdu, and no way should one remotely encounter pAnjabi in a puzzle. (it is pUnjabi).

i was so sure that it was not panjabi, that after eliminating urdu, i somewhat bemusedly plonked down english!! but once arcsine emerged, i had to force myself to put in panjabi (swearing at beq as i did this).

jae 3:18 AM  

In the interest of full disclosure, PUNJABI for me too. When I fixed it my first thought was where was the var. Wrote it off to Fri./ Sat. cluing.

assyria carla makesdo 3:25 AM  

I was totally determined to finish...took me like an hour...
and I had FIVE mistakes!
PANAmAn (I thought nationalism in Panama??!) even tho BERGEN crossed my mind, I couldn't justify ending 1A with a B!
nERGEN! That's Natick's Norwegian sister city!
And I figured mIGS are hard to park too!

I had MONoCAt, which I thought was like a jetski you took on a lake...

and finally SALSiDA/OLORiSO, I really have to take up drinking bec I didn't know what Amontillado...altho is it The Cask of Amontillado" in the Poe story?

Proud that I transformed my ICEaxe into a SAW, so my Ents coule become ELOI and I got WIIMOTE!!!!
It was one of those that I knew SO little about WII that I had to make up the word and thought of it as a naming exercise, like, what would you call the WII Remote, a WIIMOTE?! Hahahahahaha, aren't I funny...oh! I'm right???! ;)

Anyway, I liked this! (I SWEARs TO god I'm not being contrary)
It's just BEQ forced me to think think think and piece out everything bec I had to work for every single answer, except oddly JIMBROWN...and I loved JILLION!

It was very country-ey:
NIC, JAMAICAn, ASSYRIA, BERGEN (Norway), PaNJABI (Pakistan) and I'll throw in PANAmAn, even tho it was wrong! I needed an AREAMAP!

If Rex hadn't noted how odd that LEICA was German, or whatever the discussion was earlier this week, I would not have gotten that as an anchor so I could correct my hAllPASS.

I'm proud of myself to have kept POKing AT it till I got it, despite the mistakes.
Again for me, hard work = pleasure (but ONLY in puzzles, not relationships, nor real work!)

Anonymous 6:16 AM  

ONADIET lining up next to POKEDAT on next to last line was cute.


Always curious to see the solution as what else it may be saying. :)

retired_chemist 7:30 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 7:32 AM  

Medium. DNG and a fairly good (for me) Friday time.

First fill was JAY (Gatsby), which was a HUGE help because of the scrabbly letters. Then ARC SINE, which I soon rejected because 1D was - of course - PUNJABI. When crosses demanded ARC SINE, I decided PANJABI must be an alternate spelling. In fact my spell checker accepts only the former.

I thought the fill was a lot zingier than @Rex did. Put DRAG at 26A off _R_G, thinking it was funny. It is, but it is also right.

Had ESP for Cordoba's land (true), but this refers to the Nicaraguan currency. Learn something every day...

Thanks, Mr. Q.

JenCT 8:11 AM  

@Tobias: LOL "older brother"

Had FICTION for JILLION & felt so smart...until I saw FIMBROWN.

Wanted something like Recommendation Letter for LATEPASS.

OLOROSO??? What??

Liked the clues for MOMS, NAIL, JAMAICAN.

DNF, but I tried...

@acme: Thanks for your advice yesterday - will do!

David L 8:13 AM  

Did this in a reasonable time (timer broke down on me partway through), but I agree with Rex that it's an ugly puzzle. But then, if I may express a heretical thought, I think BEQ is overly fond of obscure names and other proper nouns, even in his better puzzles. He tries too hard to be too cool for school....

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

Someone from Monaco is a Monagasque.

Carisa 8:48 AM  

First clue I laid down was 11d "24th Russian letter" (had to run through the Russian alphabet song in my head). Being a Russian major finally paid off!

Smitty 8:59 AM  

Thank heavens they only blacken the corner once every time you guess the wrong letter and hit "check"

Otherwise the whole grid would be black.

I've never been so proud of myself after failing so miserably at a puzzle.

Z 9:09 AM  

Had that oddly happy feeling when big brother had this rated as challenging and ugly.

There were some nice moments, the clues for MOM and NAIL and DRAG. However, too much obscurity for me. LEILA, OLOROSO, not PuNJABI, NIC, BARSTOW, MONACAN, frugivorous, TSE, JILLION (gazillion or bazillion around here - JILLION is missing a syllable), MAKO, LAICS (a plural? really?). I pieced most of this together, but ended up with a DNF in the NE and SW. Had NOtZERO and ImeanNO blocking the SW. I was thinking some sort pre-packaged fruit snack, so I never came up with JAMTART, MAKO, or TSE. In the end, goosebutundheit.


PS - the idea of RP as older brother was my biggest smile of the morning.

joho 9:18 AM  

I can't believe I finished this correctly. It took forever. And, like others here, I wanted PuNJABI. But ARCSINE had to be right so I went the "A." However, what's up with PANARAB/PANJABI???? Makes me want to PAN the puzzle!

Not really. I expected something difficult today and wasn't disappointed, certainly not in the way @Rex was. The fact that I could figure it through trial and error makes it seem fair.

OldCarFudd 9:22 AM  

I astounded myself by getting through this with no errors. The NW fell last; all I had there was PANARAB and ARCSINE. But, in contrast to Rex, the NC gave me Wyeth, not because I know anything about art, but because he's the only NC--- artist I've ever heard of.

LEICA is a bit off, I think. Leica is formed from LEItz CAmera (why not Leika, since it's German, I've never known). But I've always thought they were Leica cameras with Leitz lenses. Leitz made (makes?) lenses for many other precision optical devices, like microscopes.

I had BAT-S for the shower scene, and plunked in Bates, from Psycho, even though it doesn't parse. The RHOMBUS put me straight. And I'd never heard of laic as a noun, although my old Webster's Second says it can be.

hugh 9:40 AM  

Leica makes lenses.

Natives of Monaco are Monegasque or Monacan.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

I disliked "plus" being in two clues ('plus exercise' and 'plus or minus').

Matthew G. 9:57 AM  

Epic fail for me. I had no trouble with WIIMOTE (there was one about five feet from me as I was solving), and actually got a lot of solid entries filled in with no crosses, including PANARAB, NEW-AGER, JAY, AMER, IPHONE, and perhaps most pleasing to me, ID CARDS. The SW was very easy and I got that filled in first, thinking I'd be fine.

And yet I couldn't hack it, not being able to come up with a lot of answers. Never heard of SALSODA (SAL SODA?) before, or OLORSO (that final O was not a problem, but the middle O was), and couldn't come up with LATE PASS (I grokked the clue, but tried LATE SLIP and LATE NOTE). Finished with a boatload of errors.

Anyway, I agree with Rex that this is about as unsparkling a BEQ offering as I can remember. A cast-off indeed.

jackj 10:02 AM  

Seemed like a lot of compromises by BEQ in this one.

In the too obvious category, JAY, YIN, BATHS (cheap try to elicit BATES as the answer) and IPHONE. In the too strained multi-word answers ICESAW, JAMTART, NONZERO, INSCALE, and WIIMOTE.

I wasn't around this blog when the NATICK/NCWYETH cluing was aboil so, as an admirer of the Wyeth clan's contribution to American art, I was pleased to see N.C. early on.

(The Wyeth's have arguably influenced the American art scene to the same degree as the Peale family, by virtue of the talented artists emerging from each clan.)

My take on today's puzzle is, even an imperfect BEQ is a pleasurable challenge.

jesser 10:02 AM  

EXACTLY, word-for-word, what my fellow New Mexican Tobias said.

Two days in a row with my ass kicked. SALSODA? WIIMOTE? ARCSINE? And although I parsed ICE SAW, I was Certain that 44D was AsexuAL, so that whole area was not gettable.

I'm all grumpy.

quilter1 10:14 AM  

Got it all except ARCSINE and PANARAB so DNF. Do not know that level of math and I thought the clue for 1A was vague, so I don't feel bad about it since I got all the rest. I really like BEQ's puzzles and frequently do the ones on his blog. I like his quirky cluing and how he makes me think in new directions, so I didn't hate this one. TGIF everyone.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

OCTOPI is not a word. It is a false Latin plural and a prime example of what Bryan Garner aptly calls a hypercorrection. Boo! Hiss! And, I thought puzzle stunk for all the reasons previously mentioned.

dk 10:20 AM  

My cranky pants are a bit looser today.

"Long about BARSTOW the acid kicked in." Hunter S. Thompson.

This one spanned the decades clue-wise. Not sure about JAMTART unless it is some odd BEQ innuendo along with POKE DAT.

My only beef is is with 2d. At hostels i always got bed sheets and a blanket never an AREAMAP.

** (2 Stars) I am ONASTARSDIET.

Howard B 10:21 AM  

Anon 10:15: Check your dictionary. Octopi has become an acceptable word, along with 'ginormous' and many other words that evolved into such words, if not in the expected proper manner.

I really did not like this puzzle at all, and I'm pretty diplomatic in my solving. From JAM TART down to BARSTOW, there wasn't much enjoyment here, and I always try to find solving fun where I can. Just brutal. The 'variant' words and obscurities hearken back to an earlier puzzle era. I'm rough on this because I know what amazing stuff BEQ is capable of. So it's a compliment, in a weird way :).

Z 10:23 AM  

@dk - Maybe it is more of the subject matter at the Kinsey Institute.

syndy 10:44 AM  

saw the Author and Quailed! but actually did finish which is not always my case with BEQ!Writeovers? PUNJABI-SQUIDS-BABYLON-TUNA/MAKI:but I pulled Both LEILA and BARSTOW out of my A** Ihad the OLOROSO first so WIIMOTE just got a smile-MY time was blazing for a BEQ fri and only real comlaint is JILLION!

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

I like it when Rex is an apologist for a friend. The only thing I would have liked more in Rex's commentary is if the constructor had not been a friend.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  


According to The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, and I quote, "octopus. The plural is octopuses." That ignorami may elect to use octopi does not make it correct or require me to recognize it as a legitimate word. Cheers.

Rex Parker 11:07 AM  

@HowardB is of course 100% objectively correct about OCTOPI. It's in Webster's 3rd and probably a ton of other dictionaries as the plural, along w/ OCTOPUSES (it's not even listed as "Alt."). The ignorant may whinge, but the legitimacy of the word is indisputable.

Tobias Duncan 11:10 AM  

Anon 10:56
Bad form to argue nerdy grammarian stuff without telling us your name. You have no skin in the game.
Now bow before the glory of OCTOPODES!!!!

Greek Guy 11:11 AM  

OK, so apparently I am the only one who threw down Anal Sex for 44D.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

Puzzles that I have to puzzle out are a lot more interesting to me than puzzles that serve mainly as a typing exercise. With that standard, this puzzle was fine.

Still each puzzle has a time limit for holding my interest and when this one was done I had misspelled oloroso. Misspelling foreign words is not a big sin in my universe. (cross wiimAte)

What I kicked me for was being convinced that Mowing was by Renoir or some other Frenchman. I grew up in southeast Pennsylvania and I've seen Mowing at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford. Interesting place.

JenCT 11:12 AM  

There's a good explanation here:


Two Ponies 11:13 AM  

Did I enjoy this?
Not even Wiimotely.

chefbea 11:16 AM  

Too tough for me. Had to google ad then come here DNF

I too loved the clue for moms.

Bout to watch the last launch into space!!!

Arundel 11:23 AM  

I didn't love it, but in my book a non-stellar BEQ is still better than just about anybody else's challenging. But the standards as established earlier this week are pretty damn high!

My only complaints were with the two sopranos [better the Hunter Thompson quote!] and the RE-TIE/RE-DIAL strains. I thought the LEILA/LEICA and PANJABI/PANARAB crosses were intriguing, though.

As we used to say in the boating world, a bad day on the water is better than a good day anywhere else. This is much the same.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

Hated it...could not begin to get a toehold which makes me wonder why
the hell I registered for the
8-6 NYC contest as I doubt I will
be able to fill in the blanks.

Lewis 12:25 PM  

I assume that any aid used, such as Googling and "Reveal incorrect letters", is cheating. Do I assume correctly? I do both when I'm forced to, but don't consider that I've fully solved the puzzle by myself. Between Googling and "Reveal incorrect letters", is one considered more of a cheat than the other???

hazel 12:26 PM  

disappointing yuckfest.

Emily Lash 12:31 PM  

I loved Wiimote- just the kind of tricky word play I expect on a Friday. Also glad to see Jim Brown in a puzzle, although isn't he better known for his love scene in 100 rifles?
Didn't like anything else about this puzzle. Astonishingly cludgy.

Cheerio 12:42 PM  

Thanks to @assyria carla makesdo for pointing out the "Cask of Amontillado." I thought I had never heard of either that or Oloroso, but indeed I did do know of the Poe story.

I agree that the for "moms" was really great.

Never heard of N.C. Wyeth. That makes yet another old American artist whose name seems to not have any currency. I took a White House tour once and was struck by the many American landscape paintings by painters I think I have never had any exposure too.

Glitch 12:43 PM  


*Cheating* is such a harsh word, unless you're in a competition.

All is fair in solving, it's just that you can't claim an *unassisted completion* if you use other resources.

Actually, Googling is a great way for learning new words (better than a simple reveal), and eventually you'll need to do it less and less.

Better an assisted finish than an incomplete.


Masked and Anonymous 12:43 PM  

Been to BERGEN. Liked it. Great fish stew. Also recall a penguin feeding/petting setup at their zoo. Lots of fresh salmon on ice for sale in the market square. Fun place to walk around. Good town.

Puz was also kinda fun to walk around in. Wanted DIAMOND where it shoulda been RHOMBUS. And was so proud of self, remembering what their flag looked like.

Wanted a different puz corner, when got to SO?ON/O?LORS?/etc. area. On the other hand, enjoyed bein' spoon-fed some gimmes at SNORT/JIMBROWN. Plus, puz had lots of J's, which are like U's on hootch.

Keep at it, B. You'll get the hang of it, eventually. Har.

quilter1 12:46 PM  

There is a recipe for JAM TART in the latest issue of Food Network Magazine. Cherry, yum.

If I need to look something up that is entirely out of my ken or if I check spelling I don't think of that as cheating. I'm learning something that I hope to retain for the future.If I am pretty sure I know an answer but am having a hard time remembering it, then I won't look it up but keep at it until memory serves.

KarenSampsonHudson 12:48 PM  

I agree: "Hard AND unpleasant"----felt like a hard slog to win only a wilted garland :-).

archaeoprof 12:55 PM  

DNF for me today, too, but was this puzzle as bad as all that?

Liked JILLION next to ISAIDSO. Very "in the language."

I'm going to add LIA Knight to my country music puzzle.

Vega 1:06 PM  

On a personal note, this is the first time that, when Mr. Happy Pencil didn't pop up, I sat and painstakingly, painfully went through every single clue and answer until I finally found my mistake (same as everyone else's: WIIMaTE), all on my own without getting bored and hitting "reveal." I am exceptionally proud of myself today. And I do appreciate the things BEQ makes me have to learn, like what "frugivorous" means.

chefbea 1:16 PM  

@Quilter1 - I too get Food Network Magazine and think I will make the jam tart with the Strawberry preserves I just made. Yummm

Blue Stater 1:19 PM  

@Lewis 12:25: I haven't thought of Googling as cheating ever since the NYT's crossword puzzles started to go nuts about 15 years ago -- coincidentally, IIRC, just about the time of the Rise of the Google. If anything goes in the puzzles, as is increasingly the case, anything goes in getting help with them, sez I. "Reveal incorrect letters" is closer to the line, though.

Howard B 1:33 PM  

Yep, Google isn't cheating in a sense that you're trying to learn about the things you don't know. The puzzle isn't a test per se.
If you're only 'competing' against yourself, there's no reason to withhold learning an interesting new personality or fact. If that bothers you, you can always do your best, call the puzzle unfinished if you can't solve, then look up the unknowns after solving. It's your call.

In a tournament setting of course, that would be taboo. But solving on your own, the parameters by which you solve it are entirely up to you.

Masked and Oloroso 1:46 PM  

Google = cheating!?! On a FriPuz?!! Nah. It be "research". M&A

r.alphbunker 1:58 PM  

A satisfying solve. After about 10 minutes not much had gone down and I began thinking about Plan G. But then as so often happens with BEQ puzzles I began to have ideas that turned out to be correct and I was able to finish without googling although I ended up with WIIMaTE. I like WIIMOTE a lot better.

nanpilla 2:00 PM  

I suspect that, for many of us, it was google that brought us here for the first time. Reading the blog every day makes googling less and less necessary.

Another hand up for WIIMaTE. Since I solve with paper and pencil, I went to bed happy, thinking I had completed it correctly. This morning I also realized I had MONoCAN (changed from morocan, obviously misspelled, but then not checked), so two wrong squares!

CaseAce 2:02 PM  

Rex, so you took EWOK on the wrong side, we've all been there.

pizzatheorem 2:11 PM  

Found this very hard and could not finish. WIIMOTE is not wordplay or slang really, it's the usual term for the wii remote. It's the best entry in the grid along with RHOMBUS as far as I'm concerned. ARCSINE is the obscurest mathematical entry I've seen yet in a grid.

Bob Kerfuffle 2:17 PM  

Posting, as always, from BERGEN County, NJ -


Accepted PANJABI reluctantly, worked very slowly down to SE corner, stuck with LAITY at 51 A, TO SCALE at 65 A, just ran out of time and interest to figure out 48, 52, and 56 D.

Nancy in PA 2:25 PM  

I was proud of my under-half-hour finish until I came here and found I had made the MONoCAt mistake--I figured Port Hercules was in the Arctic and this was a snow vehicle I hadn't heard of. Otherwise I liked the puzzle, but as I always say, I like them all. Have made jam tarts for years (always have little snippets of pie crust left and hundreds of jars of home-made jam) and the only people who rave about them are Brits. They're not as all-American as apple pie...

Sarah 2:46 PM  

I do my crossword on an actual NY Times (we live in NY and have a paper subscription), so I didn't know you could have the online version tell you what letters you'd got wrong. Wow! I was forced to resort to Google for this one, not being up on my sopranos (BARSTOW) or operas (LEILA). And I'd only ever heard of Monagasque as a native of Monaco, never MONACAN -- I got that purely through fill.

PANJABI, really, not PuNJABI? The only PANJABI I know is Archy Panjabi, the fabulous actress from "Bend It Like Beckham" and more recently "The Good Wife." I grew up in London, eating JAMTARTS (delicious) and knew plenty of Pakistanis, although they mostly spoke Urdu. Go figure.

Anonymous 2:55 PM  

I wasted a lot of time trying to make this damn thing into a rebus. Sal soda? What is that? I thought it had to be "club soda". Also - "poked at"? Never heard of poking at food. Now "picked at" is a different story. Again, it would have had to be a rebus.

I agree about the assisted finish. It's better to finish than not. That way you learn stuff and you become a better solver.

I skip M-W 3:12 PM  

@anonymous 2:55 I think Sal soda is just some salt of sodium, not ordinary table salt though.

No one has bothered to explain what I asked: What does Port Hercules have to do with Monaco? Finally googled, apparently based on ancient greek port, Monaco's harbor is now called Port d'Hercule. Must be known to yachters, which I am definitely not.

In the 70's I liked to regale my classes with Mao's observation : it's better to cheat on an exam than not learn the right answer...... true I suppose for x-words too, though as matter of pride I don't til it's over

jberg 3:16 PM  

PANJABI: a) One of about a jillion English words which are transliterations from a language that doesn't use Roman characters, and so have to be approximated; b) one of those words constructors adore because they can spell them anyway they like.

That said, I finished with an error: I started with mOcS at 35D, because my first thought after getting to RHO__U_ at 24D was that Brazil must be terribly proud of its RHOdiUm deposits. Jim Brown cleared that up for me, but I failed to notice the c in MOcS, wince it was already filled in - and EcO seemed as good as EMO for 32D. (I think of EMO as strictly a style of music, where GOTH is more a way of dressing, with music attached--and EcO seemed likely to be another).

I've never watched The Sopranos, so I kept wondering if the presence of two sopranos in the clues was linked to some hidden reference to the TV show, but I don't know enough to tell.

Solvers: drink more wine! All sherries end in O, probably because Spanish wine is masculine (purely in the grammatical sense).

Other writeovers: babYlon at 12D, first sheep, then goatS at 51D (by the time I thought of geese it was already ruled out). I also wanted fellIng for 62D, but only wrote in the NG after I got BRIE, so only had a partial writeover there. I tried both plato and galeN at 52D, and like Rex thought of Ewok, but was pretty sure there'd been nothing about their DIETs in the movie.

Finally, I have to admit that, while I couldn't bring myself to write it down, I half-believed that 42A was going to be ICE axe - which is for mountain climbing, not fishing. I shouldn't have doubted.

600 3:52 PM  

@ Two Ponies--Wish I'd said that! My first laugh since starting this puzzle, which was hard, hard, hard. ARCSINE? Really? Would someone tell me what that is?

I'm still pretty new to this solving game, but it's now a point of pride with me not to use Google. Never. And I don't use "reveal letters"--but sometimes I do use "check letters." Someday I'll wean myself from that too. (I already have on Monday through Wednesday.)

Finished, but only after the longest wrangle with a puzzle since I started timing myself.

And, please, could someone explain why Shop dresser (59D) is ADZ?

chefbea 3:57 PM  

@600 think wood working shop

Masked and Anonymous's last silver bullet 5:02 PM  

@600: sine is a trig function. Easy way to think of it is with a right triangle, whose longest side (aka "hypotenuse") has a length of 1. Then, if you input the degrees of one of the non-90 degree angles, sine would give you back the length of the side opposite that angle.

Arcsine works in reverse: you give it the side length, it gives you back the opposite angle's degrees. Kinda cool, huh?

All this works for right triangles with bigger hypotenuseses than 1, too. Except, then, the number you'd be talkin' about would be the "ratio" of the side length to that hypotenuse.

Adz ain't trig, so it's easier. It's some tool you use to smooth out ("dress" up) the rough spots, when you're making a wood sculpture of Rex Parker, or some such. So, if you make your sculptures in a woodsSHOP...

Man, could I ever use a gin and tonic.

Greg 5:02 PM  

I strongly object to octopi as well. I'm OK with colloquialisms if they are marked or implied in some way. This one was just a mistake. I kept putting it in and erasing it, saying to myself that a crossword puzzle author, of all people, wouldn't screw up like that. Sigh. I guess I'll have to watch out for mischievious and irregardless in future puzzles.

mac 5:03 PM  

Rough work! I got most of it, but the Punjabi/arcside/N.C. Wyeth area got me.

I like sherry in winter, medium dry, but I do know the sweeter Oloroso.

I thought we had had a discussion about octopi/octopusses some time ago, so I expected it to be disliked again. I only now understood the Jamaican clue/answer.... Had fiction instead of jillion as well, and, @nanpilla, I inserted a Mohican in there as well for a while!

OldCarFudd 5:12 PM  

Hugh - Thank you.

600 - I was going to explain arcsine and adz, but M&A did it better.

deerfencer 5:22 PM  

Friday's are always a tossup for me and when I saw it was a BEQ I quickly perused several of the clues and walked. Looks like I saved myself a lot of aggravation.

Cheerio 5:47 PM  

@jberg - are all sherries Spanish? I do drink wine, just not sherry. I also had Babylon - it worked with Yin.

@I skip M-W - perhaps we have been seeing pictures of Port Hercules in the news recently, what with that Monaco royal wedding.

Not sure why there is so much emotion here about "to google or not to google." It's obviously self-definable whether it's cheating. It does appear that most of us feel better or prouder not to have to google, so.... And what if you ask your spouse for an answer? How does that compare to googling, in terms of pride points?

CoffeeLvr 5:54 PM  

Thanks, @Glitch. I will say I had a fine assisted finish today. Didn't quit, learned a bit. Won't remember a lot of it, as there is nothing in my brain to link the tidbit up.

It is interesting to see the very old SAL SODA almost next to the very new WII MOTE.

retired_chemist 6:31 PM  

Sal soda is a term for sodium carbonate (washing soda) when used in household laundry in hard water environments.

captcha imower - Steve Jobs enters the virtual lawn care industry.

Andrea Rogers 7:02 PM  

Glad to hear that Googling is okay. I've never really done crosswords but I am on vacation this week and was staring at Monday's puzzle and thought "easy peasy". Solved Tuesday's on my own too. Wednesday I had to Google a couple of times--and I discovered this blog. Yesterday kicked my butt because I didn't know about Thursday tricks. Today I Googled like crazy but finally had to give up and come here.

Not sure I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Anonymous 7:38 PM  

Yep I agree with Rex, doable, except for a tiny bit, but such weird and variant words. The good the bad and the ugly.

Thursdays was nice and fun -- my reasoning was exactly in line with Rex's, ended up at the same place, got the bumps and then it all worked.

Brian 7:39 PM  

Whoo-whee. That was t-uff! DNF. I started with laying in JIMBROWN because who doesn't remember his heroic race from air vent to air vent throwing down the grenades in the classic "The Dirty Dozen." Then I popped in JILLION in a stroke of inspiration and I thought I was going to plow through this puzzle.

I did not.

I came to a screeching halt in the SE (OLOROSO? WIIMOTE?) And never picked up speed again despite deceptive bursts of insight (MOMS, NAIL, DRAG). They all were insufficient to keep the momentum going.

Didn't hate it, but like @Tobias Duncan said, it plain out kicked my ass. At times, it was like it held me back with its hands on my forehead while I swung wildly at. Big old bully.

santafefran 9:19 PM  

Since there have been issues getting my new computer up and running, I opted to try solving the puzzle on my iPad using the Crosswords app where there doesn't seem to be a feature for check or reveal so had to do lots of Googling and still couldn't finish without coming here. Did not know URCSINE from ARCSINE so assumed PUNJABI was correct.

Agree with @jberg, this crowd doesn't drink enough wine or OLOROSO would not have been a problem. Among friends I am known as the International Wino because I have personal knowledge of wines from many countries. I vote for more wine clues.

Worked on the puzzle last night and again in the morning and enjoyed sussing out much of it: ga(sic)JILLION was my fave.

skua76 11:52 PM  

Definitely a strange experience. First of all, I'm traveling so I did the dead tree version which prints the constructor's name in a much smaller font than Will's name, so I absolutely missed the BEQ until I was halfway through and it was too late. The software puts both names in the same font. (Oh well, that's better than my Charlottesville VA paper which publishes the LAT puzzle and doesn't even name the constructor.

Anyway, knowing it was BEQ helped a bit but not much. ARCSINE was my first answer and then I stared for awhile. Didn't know Jay was the Gatsby so I ended up with PANRABI which sounded good. And MONOCAT.

Stared at 41D a long time thinking it started with OT- since after all 51A HAD to be LAITY (after I gave up on LAMBS).

Totally WII illiterate so I eventually threw in WIISITE thinking there is one. Thanks for the great blog and comments today, makes me feel better!

Kerry 12:06 AM  

Hard as hell, but hacked my way through to a perfect finish, so I can't hate it. Had trouble all over the East Coast (crossing POPTART/PARTISAN for JAMTART/JAMAICAN created havoc), with the WIIMOTE section falling last.

But anytime Rex makes a mistake and I don't, it must be a good puzzle. :)

(Oy... now watch me screw up that Captcha. What the hell does that say??)

Anonymous 3:33 PM  

Completed, in that I had letters in all the squares. It's possible I may have done better, however, had I not bothered to look at the clues.

Had to ask my kid for help on the Wi controller. Figured out it was a Wii controller when she told me it was called a Wiimote. That helped me confirm SUM and nothing else

NE and SW came together nicely. NW was tougher and SE was just a mass of incorrect guesses.

Initially thought we had a rebus when STOCK MARKET wouldn't fit into 37a

boardbtr 5:52 PM  

Another pointless BEQ offering.

Red Valerian 9:29 PM  

Greetings from syndi-land. I HTG for N.C. Wyeth, and ended with uRCSINE, since Punjabi just seemed as though it had to be correct. Had hAllPASS for ages.

Like @Glitch and others, I do not regard googling as cheating, partly because the concept of cheating makes no sense in the context of non-competitive solving, but also because learning is good!

And, as @nanpilla notes, most of us found this site through googling about NYT crosswords!

Somehow, asking a friend or partner seems less desperate, though then it's a joint solve.

Captcha: anicat... arbitrary cool dude

Anonymous 1:44 AM  

Augh, where to start? I guess the NW, where "panjabi" only yields "did you mean Punjabi?" on my search (Oh yeah, search help was required for this one almost line by line). PUNJABI is, in fact, the "most-spoken language in Pakistan." Furthermore, there is such a thing as URCSINE, though much deeper into advanced trig than your answer. Whether it's 30 degrees for 0.5, I have no clue.
My DNF fatality occurred in the SE, due largely to my entering ATEAM for "breakout company." Well, they're a company, an ensemble--and they did "break out" of military prison. Had the AT in place, natch. Never heard of SALSODA or WIIMOTE. I knew 42a had to be either ICEAXE or ICESAW, but didn't know which. Can a Kinsey clue point to a word or expression starting with X? Possibly, something about the X-chromosome, for example. Finally, I think INSCALE is at best a wifty answer for "commensurate." That's really not an accurate clue.
Many of the other clues were very clever and entertaining, like "Many a dreaded native?" for JAMAICAN. But all in all too obscure to be enjoyable. Did I like this puzzle? ISAIDNO.

captcha=cheddist: a cheese expert.

Dirigonzo 8:04 PM  

"Uncle!" I was never going to finish this puzzle, but two days of persistence got me a lot closer than I ever expected. Totally failed in the SW corner (oloroso - really?) and had a couple of blank squares eleswhere, but still feel pretty good about how far I managed to get. And I knew NCWYETH, so I take special pride in that since Rex said on his FB page that it was the most googled clue of the day (syndicated). Nice to see Paul TSONGAS make an appearance, and I loved the clue for MOMS!

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