1953 film with Swahili title / FRI 12-2-11 / Studio with Pegasus logo / Master of Disaster's ring rival / Birdcage drag queen player

Friday, December 2, 2011

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: BATISTE (12D: Fine, soft, sheer fabric) —
Batiste is the softest of the lightweight opaque fabrics. It is made of cotton, wool, polyester, or a blend. (wikipedia)
• • •

Felt pretty easy, but "MOGAMBO" was a gimme for me, so I feel like maybe I started out with a momentum not everyone shared (1D: 1953 film classic with a Swahili title). I went through a powerful Grace Kelly phase when I was in grad school, and watched every one of her films that I could get my hands on (VHS—not easy). Speaking of grad school, I got my Ph.D. in medieval English literature and never saw the word ANGLIC used to mean [Old English]. It was "Old English" or "Anglo-Saxon" and that's about it. So I honestly didn't know what to do after ANGL-.  Was able to slide down the west coast of the grid fairly easily, with another big, lucky gimme at TRI-STAR (36D: Studio with a Pegasus logo). Went OMIGAWD at first, until OMIGOSH became the clear choice. I got stuck down here somewhere around Twain's "celebrated" frog (DAN'L), and so rebooted in the NE, just going after short answers trying to get some traction. At first all I had was ELS (11D: Hollow center?), but once I changed SHRUNK to SHRANK, things got moving a little. That corner is by far the ugliest thing about this otherwise decent grid. BATISTE / ANODIZE (13D: Coat by electrolytic action) / BENEFIC (?) is a triad one would rather not look at for too long. Anyway, I finished up, took it on faith that SNCC was something (5D: Grp. organizing '60s sit-ins), and went and mopped up things in the S and SE. Had a residual mistake in the NE because I thought the (ultra vague) 22A: Chemical ending (-IDE) was -ANE or -ENE and I neglected to fix it. Then I fixed it. Done.

Lots of pop culture today. In addition to the two aformentioned filmic gimmes that helped me make short work of the west coast, there was NATHAN LANE (16A: "The Birdcage" drag queen player), Goldie HAWN, MITZI Gaynor, Apollo "The Master of Disaster" Creed and Rocky "The ITALIAN STALLION" Balboa (7D: Master of Disaster's ring rival), and the famous line from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," "She turned me into a NEWT!" ("... I got better").

I think the CANNIBALS clue is also from pop culture, since the idea of someone being put in a pot of hot water as part of some cannnibal feast seems straight out of the cartoons (42A: Ones who may get you into hot water?). And then there's MARMS! (41A: Quaint ladies with buns, often) Has there really ever been more than MARM in one place at one time (and has there really ever been a MARM whose name wasn't prefaced by "School"?)? I wonder how many ladies James DOLE picked up with the line "... they call me the Pineapple King" (48D: James who was known as the Pineapple King).

Lastly, I love the clue on MORNING (28D: Eastern daylight time?).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


mega4 12:10 AM  

I liked the Italian Stallion being supported by stable boys with horse sense -- that is, once I got over my initial internal grumble at how I could possibly be expected to know the Master of Disaster’s ring rival. Pop culture and sports are not my strong suits, and I was thinking that the answer would be sports related(a wrestler, maybe). Turns out it was an old movie I had actually seen. I sometimes surprise myself at the trivia buried in the grey matter –especially when some days I can’t think of my own cell phone number.

chefwen 12:21 AM  

MOGAMBO also got me off to a great start. Top half a lot easier for me that the bottom. NE again a wee bit of a problem with BATISTE and BENEFIC (spell check doesn't like benefic either) but I knew 31A had to be HOME EC. So,what the hey.

Loved the STABLE BOYS over HORSE SENSE, I think @two ponies and @nanpilla will enjoy those also.

meta4 12:22 AM  

And some days I can't even remember the alias that I had chosen for myself.

(maybe mega4 is a metaphor for meta4)

Tita 12:24 AM  

"She turned me into a NEWT!..."
".....I got better..."

(I'll be back when I'm actually done. I had high hopes after flying through the NE, but now at a standstill...just couldn't resist finishing that classic line...)

Michael 1:27 AM  

Bleh, I somehow managed to get myself into a place where ivOrIES went in where EBONIES was supposed to go, causing a hideous mess (OvaT for OBIT, "hey wait, this doesn't say abbreviation," etc.). I don't know my pianos that well, apparently.

jae 1:47 AM  

West side easy-med, east med-tough, so... medium. MOGAMBO, NATHANLANE, and MITZI were gimmies which helped a lot. ANGLOS, however, slowed things down a bit. ALSATIA comes up in Wiki as an old part of London. No mention of France. Liked it. About the right amount of resistance for Fri.

Anonymous 2:54 AM  

Thought "Hamlet's cousin" was very very clever.

SharonAK 3:49 AM  

@ Masked and Anonymous.
THANKYOU for story "OOO...(HAEC)NAE..." at 12:28 on October 27.
I was literally laughing out loud before the end.
Had to share it with husband who doesn't do xwords. Showed him the puzzle theme and some of the odder fill for background first. Well, he didn't laugh, but he sure did grin.

Anonymous 4:58 AM  

@SharonAK - I didn't get it then and I don't get it now.

Anglic cannibals marms 6:33 AM  

Tough for me...usual one error:
ANOnIZE/InE. Damn!
Lots of weird stuff BENEFIC/ANGLIC and HATSIZE last to fall because i could not remember if his name was ENZO, ENIO and finally EZIO...and i was thinking Currier and Ives made LATHer, because of OLd Spice bottles, plus NUTSY was NUTtY and I was spelling ALSATIA wrong...S?C?T?

Never heard of SNCC, even tried SDSS for a while.
Plus Cobweb had to morph into EGGSAC which I don't even get. Mess.

I liked the CANNIBALS clue...reminded me of the old joke my dad used to tell...
first cannibal: "i hate my mother-in-law"
second cannibal: "Then eat the noodles"!

SethG 7:27 AM  

ORTHOPTICS didn't do it, ANGLIC/SNCC didn't do it, BATISTE/ANODIZE/BENEFI didn't do it, HAP didn't do it. It wasn't until ALSATIA/LITH/EZIO that I started to get really annoyed.

Glimmerglass 8:05 AM  

Anyone alive in the '60s remembers SNCC (pronounced "snick") -- Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee.

David L 8:20 AM  

Got there eventually, but harder than usual Friday for me. BENEFIC, ANGLIC, ORTHOPTICS, BATISTE, SNCC, ITALIANSTALLION, DANL all unknown.

As for Rex's favorite clue, 'Eastern daylight time' for MORNING -- huh? Do not get it. Anyone care to explain? (I know the sun rises in the east, but so what?)

Matthew G. 8:26 AM  

Mostly easy, but tough enough in certain places to make a perfect finish hard. I did not know MOGAMBO, SNCC, ANGLIC (I finished with an error because I tried ANGLIA/SNCA), BATISTE, or MITZI.

Messy grid for me, but I liked the puzzle.

Jim 8:39 AM  

36 is the EBONIES...leaving 52 ivories. 7:5 ratio over 7 octaves = 49:35. Plus another 3 ivories (A, B and C) plus one more ebony (B Flat) come to think of it, not really 7 1/2 octaves...although 7 1/3 doesn't have the same ring to it.

Haven't seen HB (halfback) used for an NFL ball carrier, maybe, ever. Has a college-tinged association to me. Same as tailback. NFL ball carriers are called running backs. ORTHOPTICS was hard enough w/o that misdirect. Boo.

syndy 8:56 AM  

It's FRIDAY it's All about misdirection! and boy did I get misdirected! Started off with the IVORIES and had to back and fill my way out.I new EGGSAC though- a large spider put one in my rosebush'early one morning(in the east) thousands of teeny tiny baby spiders burst free-so exciting! fun puzzle and I finally finished in medium time

evil doug 9:01 AM  

Liked jae's term: appropriately "resistant", but not repellant. Twisty clues, logical if not obvious answers, persistent need to play crosses against each other.

Now that true, traditional blocking fullbacks are coming back into vogue, the "halfback" term is returning to differentiate the two.

hAnkAzaria came to mind for Nathan Lane until crosses denied him.

Will voters turn Barry into a Newt?


Anonymous 9:05 AM  

If some lame techno dance group, i.e. Basement Jaxx, can spell Oh My Gosh correctly, is OMIGOSH really valid?

quilter1 9:12 AM  

I remembered SNCC. Mitzi Gaynor is still performing. What a cutie. I thought I finished, but then looked it over and found I missed ALSAT_A. Oh, well, gotta go. Busy day.

joho 9:17 AM  

@anglic cannibal marms ... I could have written your post word for word! I ended up with three errors, though, as I didn't change the t in NUTty to an S ... and I know about ALSATION dogs!

I also had the InE mistake and chose ANGLIo at the SNCC/ANGLIC Natick thinking you couldn't possibly have two IC endings in one puzzle with BENEFIC and ANGLIC... ICK! I picked the o as in organization.

I still enjoyed the puzzle. Thanks, Ed Sessa!

Tita 9:19 AM  

Worked on it too late last night - mind said NATHANLANE, but fingers typed NATHANhAlE - oops!!

Didn't notice that I had typed it wrong, so that area was the last to fall.

@Rex...Alsatia IS an ancient spelling for the Alsace, a sczhizophrenic region that has gone back & forth btwn France & Germany for forever. When we lived in Heidleberg, it was an easy drive, a beautiful area with amazing food, wine, and people.

Force-fit OpTomeTrey-->OpTomology-->>ORTHOPTICS (whew - that was a struggle...)

Like NUTSY & PSYCHOS together with CANNIBALS almost as much as all the HORSing around...

nanpilla 9:26 AM  

If my horse had any SENSE, he wouldn't spook at his own poop!

Had SNCa and ANGLIa, which seemed much more reasonable than the alternative.

jackj 9:37 AM  

This puzzle produces an eerie quaintness of recollection, beginning with MITZI and EZIO; MOGAMBO and GOGO.

Then, DANL, MARMS, CANNIBALS (boiling a cartoon Jiggs in a huge iron pot), HATSIZE, CHARLESTON, SHISHKEBAB, all with a retro tinge which had one wondering when Mitch Miller would emerge to urge us to follow the bouncing ball and sing along to "The Yellow Rose of Texas".

And, then, to put a period at the end of the sentence, shades of Sesame Street's Big Bird squawking, "OK, kids, now let's find the words ending in "C". To which we blurt out, "ANGLIC and BENEFIC, EGGSAC and HOMEEC, SNCC and ORTHOPTIC(S). Now I've said my words ending in "C'", won't you solve along with me."

Whew! This trip down memory lane is exhausting.

Ed Sessa, you certainly roiled the gray matter, now I hope the memories will quietly fade away.

Lindsay 9:47 AM  

Yeah, I finished with the 22A InE error, though ANOnIZE looks really stupid now that I consider it with the omniscient answer grid in front of me.

Also had the Running Backs writeover, and ivOrIES. Never really warmed into this one, but I won't let it ruin my life.

hazel 9:57 AM  

kind of disappointing, echoing all of @sethg's annoyances - plus who goes into a chophouse and orders a freaking BEEFSTEAK? Everything on the menu is likely a BEEFSTEAK of some sort. And then seeing NEWT just makes me think of a doughy blowhard, not Monty Python...

I did like the innocently clued CANNIBALS and a few other things that I've already forgotten. All in all, though, when I finished with the ANGLI_/SNC_ error (I was alive in the 60s @Glimmerglass, but I was more interested in kickball than sit-in organizers!) it was just a shoulder shrug.

But, I'm already over it! i've got some mountains to move today!

PanamaRed 10:05 AM  

I remember SNCC, and Al Capp's satire, SWINE (Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything).

Also nice to see Mitzi Gaynor and Ezio Pinza in the same puzz - both of South Pacific fame (he on stage, she in the movie).

Beadola 10:20 AM  

I joined SMC (Student Mobilization Committee to end the war in Vietnam) at SF State in 1970, and finished with ANGLIa,SNCa, so everyone alive in the 60's does not remember SNCC...a very sad DNF.
Perhaps I'll remember it now.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

"They, in Rome": esse? "Esse" is Latin for the infinitive "to be." Can someone explain this to me?

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

ANODIZE your pumpkin today.

GILL I. 10:38 AM  

I'll get in the same line as others who had trouble with ANGLIC, BENEFIC, ORTHOPTICS and SNCC. A bit NUTSY with the C's. My favorite is EGGSAC.
A puzzle with NATHAN LANE always makes me smile. I'll add "The Birdcage" to my list of movies I've seen over 10 times. The more you watch it, the funnier it gets.
One of my favorite lines:
-No good?
-Actually it perfect. I just never realized John Wayne walked like that.
Azaria: Ju forgot de chrimps.
I will also start my day with the image of @nanpilla's horse spooking at his poop!
Thank you Mr. Sessa for a puzzle that tweaked the imagination.

Tita 10:49 AM  

@Anon @ 10:27
ESSE is also Italian for

Nice misdirections, getting us looking for latin in all the wrong places...

Two Ponies 11:06 AM  

Harder side of medium for me. I've been off my game all week it seems.
@ chefwen, Yes, I grinned.
@ David L, You do get it.
Home Ec was hard to parse because of that terminal C.
Didn't get the final C of Anglic either.
So a DNF for this solver.
Anglican is more "in the language".
Tough but I liked it.

David 11:10 AM  

Had no idea about MOGAMBO, so the NE was a bit nasty for me and was the final corner to fall. Started off on fire, needing no crosses for the one 15 letter answer and 2 of the 3 10 letter answers up top, after which SHISHKEBAB (the 3rd) followed easily.

I thought I remembered MITZI Gaynor from a 70's game show, but now believe I was mistaken, but no matter - I got her with just one cross, which opened up the tricky Down answers of the NE.

ORTHOTICS was nasty and yucky, and likely would have never come to me had the three 7 letter Down crosses in the SW not been relatively easy (compared to the NE anyway).

Love the clue "Earful for one getting an eyeful". Even with 6 of the 9 letters of DON'TSTARE I still wasn't getting it, until DEMS/MARMS became clear....

Definitely a Medium puzzle here...

FearlessK 11:20 AM  

Liked the SHISHKEBAB/SNCC cross ("the vorpal blade went snicker-snack!") and the Roman name for the Alsace (ALSATIA), and the neat bit of misdirection on ESSE (there's Rome, and then there's Rome). Even in Italian, "esse" is an old-fashioned word, like MARM or HAP or LAVE. Also enjoyed the musical theatre connection, with NATHANLANE, MITZI, EZIO, EBONIES and OBIT ("end notes"!) and the cluing on PAWN (I couldn't stop thinking corporate) and HATSIZE (mind wouldn't leave the bowling lanes). Fun puzzle, medium difficulty for a Friday. Thanks, Ed!

Chip Hilton 11:25 AM  

When I finish a Friday in less time than a tv sitcom, things are good. I'll even admit to stumbles on the aforementioned rBS for HBS (Really - halfbacks is way outdated in NFL terms.) and InE for IDE, but those I can live with.

I thought some of the cluing was quite clever and the NEWT line always makes me smile. Good one, Ed!

jae 11:28 AM  

re: ANODIZE -- When electricty is involved there is ususally an ANODE (old time crosswordese) in play, hence ANODize.

hazel 11:30 AM  

@David - I also loved the clue "earful for one getting an eyeful" but DONTSTARE just isn't much of an earful. Now, TAKEAPICTUREITLASTSLONGER or GETAROOM are earfuls! even QUITSTARING seems more natural. DONTSTARE seems like something a mother would whisper to a little kid.

I'm just full of criticism today! Sorry Ed Sessa!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:39 AM  

Very good puzzle; put up a fight, but let me win.

We do expect HORSE SENSE from Mr. Ed Sessa, well-remembered for his MR ED puzzle.

Just a Heads Up: there is a Guest crossword by Ian Livengood today on Brendan Emmett Quigley's site (Rex has a convenient link), perhaps of special interest to those who find Ian's name fascinating.

John V 11:41 AM  

Just popping in, still a work in progress, maybe finish on the train home, crazy day, bitch, bitch, bitch. Not medium so far. NE was WAY easy so I got seduced. Now I'm in HOT WATER.

Later, maybe.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

Two cannibals are eating a clown. The one cannibal turns to they other and asks, "Does this taste funny to you?"

chefbea 11:53 AM  

Started out in the NW and thought "how easy for a Friday"...then got stuck down at the bottom.

Don't think we made Shiskebab in hom-ec..maybe beef steak!!

John V 11:55 AM  

Make that NW was easy.

jesser 11:59 AM  

Did you hear about the CANNIBAL who passed his brother in the woods?

I mucked this one up in three places because I would not go back and proof. Every time this happens, I end up Blogsmacked and mad at me.

I did not correct: rBS at 51D; PeoN at 30A; or InE at 22A. Poot.

Otherwise, this was a great puzzle for me, with lots of grinny moments when the clues finally gave way to the answers. Although, at 32A, I would have loved to have seen, "My eyes are up here!"

Hope everyone has a terific weekend! Over and out from suddenly shivery but normally sunny southern New Mexico!

Indallit! -- What one says to the Geeks Squad when one is suffering from a cold.

Lewis 12:20 PM  

A good piece of cleverness in the cluing made this enjoyable for me. As usual for a Friday, I needed Google. I'm looking forward to the day I don't!

Never heard of HAP for luck. Is it in the sense of "I lucked into that answer!", that is, "I happed into that answer"??? Or is it just a substitute for luck:

I ran into a patch of bad hap.
Hap be a lady tonight.
Don't push your hap.
I had beginner's hap.
I wish you good hap.

Lewis 12:24 PM  


He's a happy go happy kind of guy.

Ruth 12:25 PM  

Agree with jackj--this really skewed old. Expected that to be the main complaint. But me: I AM old, so it was fine. Still, oldness didn't help with BENEFIC. That's just ugly.

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

@Lewis - Well, hapless means without luck.

fruitypants 12:38 PM  

Couldn't quite get MOGAMBO and ended up with the hungry-sounding MO' GUMBO for a bit....

jberg 12:40 PM  

Ah, ESSE is Italisn! I didn't get that until I came here - had ILLE for a long time until the crosses forced me to change.

SNCC, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was associated with Stokely Carmichael (later Sekou Toure), Bob Moses, and several other famous southern civil rights leaders. They are the group who organized the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964, with three of their members murdered in Philadelphia, Miss. They mostly worked on voter registration, though, not sit-ins. It makes me feel really old that not everyone found it a gimme - almost as old as pointing out that Paul Hornung was a halfback. For that matter, we all knew that Currier & Ives were purveyors of prints back then, too.

I'm with Rex on Anglic, never heard of that.

ksquare 12:47 PM  

@DavidL: MORNING is daylight time in the Eastern (and every other) time zone.

ksquare 12:50 PM  

That's David Z 8:20.

ksquare 12:53 PM  

Sorry, it's David L. I don't like typos.

r.alphbunker 1:07 PM  

Had _b_a_es for the piano clue. If I got rid of the "e", "blacks" would fit but I was pretty sure the "e" was right and, of course, the leading blank was a problem. Finally asked my wife for help and she suggested the correct answer.

I had to Google TRISTAR. I could see the horse in my mind (but it in profile, not heading at me, and it didn't have wings).

Otherwise I was in control.

fikink 1:18 PM  

Today's puzzle delight was its launching FIL into a discussion of his father, an optometrist, and the old man's inventions of various ORTHOPTIC devices for his practice in the 1940s. (FIL turns 90 on Monday.)
Then, further north in the puzzle, I got to quote me some Dylan to FIL, to wit:
"In ceremonies of the horsemen, even the PAWN must hold a grudge."
A good time was had by all.

John V 1:18 PM  

Too much pop culture, especially the downs, too much obscuratta, too much clever-by-half nonsense going on for my cranky persona. No way this is medium. World class DNF here.

As an old man once told when I was an undergrad, "Johnnie, some days you can't do NUTTIN!" (David Grelnick, Buffalo, New York, 1966. You could look it up.)

No one riffing on E-BONIES, yet?

Masked and Anonymous 1:19 PM  

@SharonAK--Thanx back. I guess my ravings play better in syndication, at 3:49 AM. Hope you didn't need to wake up yer NonPuzSpouse to read that to him. He might start hidin' the newspaper from U. And the liquor cabinet key (haec).

While I'm here...

fave fill: DONTSTARE.
fave people: DANL, MITZI and EZIO.
thank U for: the NUTSY BUGLES. Gave me my (meager) U-fix for the day.
fave #31 comment: "Has there really ever been more than MARM in one place at one time." Interestin' Q, philosophically. Not to mention syntactically [I'm a fine one to talk].

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

I don't understand "Seas" for 57 across.

John V 1:44 PM  

@anonymous 1:41

I actually got this one, Arm of the sea

evil doug 1:44 PM  

Hap: Maybe short for 'happenstance'---"anything that happens suddenly or by chance without an apparent cause"

Doris 1:51 PM  

Quaint British expression for being drunk is "pissed as a newt." Another one, though not relevant here, is "tired and emotional." I believe that on an old BBC Goon Show (for those who are old enough to remember and who heard the show in Britain or on WBAI in NYC), someone was arrested for "impersonating a newt."

Jim Dole 2:09 PM  

' I wonder how many ladies James DOLE picked up with the line "... they call me the Pineapple King" '

Not many, but dozens, probably hundreds, of gold-digging strumpets. Fortunately, I wasn't after for ladies, I was after strumpets.

archaeoprof 2:11 PM  

I'm with @TwoPonies: "tough but liked it."

I gained ground slow and steady, like a fullback (not a HB) up the middle.

Eventually crossed the goal line!

mitchs 2:24 PM  

Hardy wrote a poem titled "Hap".

If but some vengeful God would call down to me from up the sky and laugh -"thou suffering thing, know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy!"

Then I would clench myself, bear it and die, half-eased in that a powerfuller than I had willed and meted me the tears I shed. But not so.

How arrives it joy lies slain? And why unblooms the best hopes ever sown?

Crass casualty obstructs the sun and rain and dicing time for gladness casts a moan.

These purblind doomsters had as readily strewn blisses around my pilgrimage as pain.

In short, Hardy was un-hap-py.

Miss Riggy 2:26 PM  


Evan K. 2:44 PM  

I enjoyed this one! Fun words, good fill. Plus, as a commenter above noted, ITALIANSTALLION + (STABLEBOYS + HORSESENSE) was a nice touch.

The Northeast came most easily to me, with ELS and ANODIZE falling right away, yielding CHARLESTON. Remembered NATHANLANE, and so forth.

It's rare that I feel so 'in tune' with a Friday. There were several gimmes for me like MEWS, EBONIES, WIGGLES, NINE, OCTETS and TRISTAR.

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

NUTSY? really?

Nick 2:47 PM  

Nope, sorry, "nutsy" is not a thing. My spellcheck just underlined it in red as I was typing it. Nutty, nutso, even "nutzo" I might have accepted.

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

I got stuck for a long time on CHARLESTON, and I found myself running through every state capital I could think of to see what fit. Turns out a boatload of them have 10 letters: Sacramento, Baton Rouge, Providence, Harrisburg, Montpelier, Montgomery, Carson City and of course Charleston. Who knew?

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

another use of "hap" - shakespeare, much ado about nothing: "If it proves so, then loving goes by haps: Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps." it just so HAPpens, HAPpenstance as mentioned by someone else, are cognates.

archaeoprof 3:24 PM  

Re: Yeager Field in CHARLESTON. I remember a rough landing in a storm there. Felt like our little turboprop was all over the sky. Several people used the airsickness bags. Haven't been back there since...

Anonymous 3:28 PM  

@ksquare said...

@DavidL: MORNING is daylight time in the Eastern (and every other) time zone.


Then why is "Eastern" in the clue ("Eastern daylight time")? And "eveNING" would also be "daylight time."

The far more likely explanation is that MORNING is when daylight comes from the east.


Lewis 3:39 PM  

Thanks to all who chimed in on HAP. I, and hopefully we, now have a crosswordese word firmly embedded...

Anonymous 3:50 PM  

@Lewis said...

Thanks to all who chimed in on HAP. I, and hopefully we, now have a crosswordese word firmly embedded...


One more for the list --- misHAP. The irregular pronunciation as mis-hap makes the etymology clear.

Anonymous 3:51 PM  

mogambo was good but Red Dust was better. Jean Harlow, Gable. Mogambo was a remake.

sanfranman59 4:18 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Fri 25:15, 25:31, 0.99, 48%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 15:23, 12:38, 1.22, 86%, Challenging

Based on the relatively low number of online solvers who completed this puzzle, I think the All Solvers rating may be misleading. At least that's what I'm telling myself since it kicked my butt six ways from Sunday. There were just too many WTFs??? for me to finish this one ... ANGLIC, SNCC, BATISTE, ANODIZE, BENEFIC, ORTHOPTICS, CYS. Since all but 2 of those involved the NE, I had no chance at finishing that section without cheating. And I just wouldn't believe that OMIGOSH was correct. I was also off-track on the Master of Disaster thinking it was a pro wrestling reference. Can you make that humble pie ala mode, Mr. Sessa?

John V 4:58 PM  

@sanfranman59 Glad I'm not alone on this one. Interesting that it came in Challenging for top solvers. I do not flatter myself as being in that group, but I don't suck either. Your numbers eased my pain.

Karen R. 6:05 PM  

I agree with most of the posts. I was hapless until the end when then puzzle finally ceded. Love the cannibal jokes! Just about passed my brother with the joke about the forest. Also, meta thanks to everyone who helped yesterday by defining "meta" for me...

tcsung 6:27 PM  

I am finding it hard to post. Google cuts me off if I don't want to start a blog.

Asking about the quotes in 'cloak and dagger.' Agree about nutsy! Like the puzzle.

retired_chemist 6:37 PM  

Late to the party.

Easy for a Friday. Lots of stuff that looked tough wasn't in the end.

Big slowdown was YOHIMBO instead of MOGAMBO off Y___MB_. The Y came from YIPS. The wild stab came from YOHIMBINE, an alkaloid I knew about in a former life as an organic chemist. Oh well.

Hand up for NUTSO but no objection to NUTSY. Names were gimmes: NATHAN LANE, MITZI, EZIO. Ditto ANODIZE and (with a couple of crosses) BENEFIC.

Probably the most fun I have had interplaying acrosses and downs in a long time. Thanks, Mr. Ed. Oops - Mr. Sessa

Anonymous 6:45 PM  

@Masked and Anonymous - Would you please explain your post from 10/27? I searched back through the older posts to re-read it because of @SharonAK's reference to it. Thank you.

Jim 6:53 PM  

All the NUTSY comments made me realize: I completely missed it!

Of course, I had neither the A in HAP, nor the I in EZIO either, so ALSATIA was my Naticht today.

Anyway, the NUTSY answer is so, well, ridiculous, it evokes the following (especially a propos, given 28A).

From 'Homer's Enemy':

Marge and Bart at the DMV. Marge looking for a vanity license plate.

Marge: "Marge is already taken? How about Marjorie?"

DMV guy: "uh...sorry, ma'am"

Marge: "How about...MITZI?"

DMV guy (helpfully): "uh...you can have Nitzi"

Marge: "Hmm...Nitzi"

Bart: "I'm outta here"

fikink 6:58 PM  

DITZY's always operable.

Lewis 8:21 PM  

@tcsung -- just sign in when Google takes you to the Blogger page, and it's bring you back here.

Lewis 8:22 PM  

oops... I mean "it'll"

Z 8:27 PM  

DNF DNL. I got off to a quick start in the NW - Monday easy there - then just too much Dreck. I have seen ANGLIC, in scifi novels used as a name for some sort of lingua franca, never as "Old English." I'd buy BENEFIt, but BENEFIC? Then we get HAP and ORTHOPTICS and ALSATIA and SHISHKEBABs

They are usually SHISH KaBoBs around here, home to the the largest Arab-American population in the States. So having NATHANLANE with HAH, ELS, and SHRuNK was taking me nowhere.

At least KEBAB is an accepted spelling for the clue. "Ancient French Region" is just wrong. Ancient Roman, Ancient Frank, or Ancient German region are at least as accurate a descriptions. I don't buy this as "misdirection," to me it is just an error.

I see that lots of people did finish and did like the puzzle. I think any one or two of the above would have been fine, but Seth G said it well, "It wasn't until ALSATIA/LITH/EZIO that I started to get really annoyed."

fikink 8:42 PM  

oops. I think I mean "operative"

mac 9:20 PM  

Well, batiste was no problem. The South-East was.

Also went Enzo, Enio etc. Have really good memories of Uncle Mathieu from Alsace, who was French and German during his lifetime! We had a real foodie relationship. I cooked choucroute and pork pie for him, he brought me raspberry bushes and cooked me many other things! A lovely man.
For the chop house I wanted a beef pasty....

sanfranman59 10:50 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:34, 6:50, 0.96, 34%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:32, 8:52, 0.96, 45%, Medium
Wed 11:56, 11:48, 1.01, 60%, Medium
Thu 15:05, 18:59, 0.79, 19%, Easy
Fri 26:08, 25:31, 1.02, 56%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:38, 3:40, 0.99, 50%, Medium
Tue 4:30, 4:34, 0.98, 51%, Medium
Wed 6:13, 5:51, 1.06, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 7:50, 9:17, 0.84, 26%, Easy-Medium
Fri 14:50, 12:38, 1.17, 80%, Medium-Challenging

375 online solvers today compared to a Friday average of 436. Had those 60 additional solvers posted times, I'm guessing that the All Solvers percentile would be closer to the just-shy-of-Challenging rating in the Top 100 group.

michael 11:14 PM  

An ordinary, possible Friday until I got to (or more accurately did not get to) batiste/anodize. I had bat-ste and ano-ize, tried ane for the chemical suffix, thought (correctly) that this looked wrong, and gave up. DNF.

Masked and Anonymous Comes Clean 2:14 PM  

@Anonymous 6:45...
See new note at end of October 27 comments.
Didn't say much in tomorrow's comments about this or here either, as didn't seem to belong.

Anonymous 6:46 PM  

Why is ELS a Hollow Center?

fikink 7:00 PM  

Anon, 6:46, the letter "L" is in the middle of the word "hollow". Welcome to Cryptics. ;-)

Stephen 11:43 PM  

I got totally bogged out in the SE. All that nutsy eggsac lith ezio goop. Bad hap. I did like HATSIZE.

Anyway, person who praised the Hamlet cousin clue: What does it mean?? Hamlet has no cousin; hence what?

Bob Kerfuffle 6:20 AM  

Actually, Hamlet has several cousins: village, town, burg, city. community, etc.

fikink 7:48 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, don't forget DORP :)

Stephen 7:43 AM  

OK wow.
Did I get flattened by that one!
It's that convention of putting a capital at the front of every clue that got me again. They slip so many things past me that way. Evil. Evil. Evil.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Liked the puzzle, but left one blank: The "C" in anglic. Oh, well, after reading the other comments,I don't feel so bad. I'm enjoying this blog for its happy, unhappy, wise and frivilous, moaning,groaning and praises as well as the puzzles themselves. Mucho Kudos to all from a newbie, tyro, raw, green, neo-commentor who gets his paper late in San Diego.

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

Spacecraft here, kicking my butt for not getting CANNIBALS. One of my favorite all-time old-time rock&roll lines is:
Ah smelled somethin' cookin' an' ah lookta see;
That's when ah found out they was a-cookin' me!
(Meanwhile, back in the states...etc. etc.)
Anyway, this blunder sealed me out of the SE, even with the EZIO gimme. I was just not able to get to HATSIZE off "Bowler's number" and the rest of it was blank to me. The SW I managed after Googling the pineapple dude; had no idea his name was James, and my mind was stuck in the British monarchy somewhere. Also knew, but had completely forgotten, good ol' DAN(')L Webster, he of the leaden belly. No doubt the error at RBS (NOBODY calls them HBs any more, so I'm gonna call that a "C'mon, man!") contributed to my need for help.
By comparison, the top was a breeze, so this was a Tale of Two Puzzles. It was the easiest of times; it was the most challenging of times... Or to put it another way: if today's puzzle had been a Keno ticket, I'd have hit a big winner playing T/B.

Dirigonzo 8:54 PM  

I never tumbled to the pun in the clue "Hamlet's cousin" so I thought cOWN sounded plausible which left me with a wrestler who calls himself the ITALIANScALLION - I know I should have caught the mistake but I think I like my answer better so I left it in.

@Gill I.P. - GOGO boots made me think of you!

Anonymous 1:47 AM  

Like some others above, I wanted an old wrestler for the long down answer. I remembered a mideastern motif bad guy from the eighties and wrote in "Iranian Ayatolla". That, and not being blessed with hardly any movie knowledge cost me the game. Hap on my side, I had extra time to invest, so finished, with only the Anglia->ic and nutty-> nutsy problems.

SanFran's assuredely correct. I expect to see some corrective measure for these days when the unfinished numbers indicate difficulty. Yes San Fran Man, (if you are still checking syndi commentary) you are that good! Thank you. We appreciate your hobby.

GILL I. 10:23 AM  

@Diri: My GOGO's (thigh high, I might add) got up and WENTWENT a long time ago....
Happy New Year!

Red Valerian 3:03 PM  

Well, now I want to do why GOGO boots made @Dirigonzo think of @Gill I.P.! (No need to reply--I can think up something ;-)

@Dirigonzo--the ITALIAN ScALLION--love it! I'm sure there's a theme lurking there. Maybe not the same one as @Anonymous's IrAnIAN ayatolla (which sadly seems to be missing an 'h').

Finished with two errors--ORTrOPTICS (rBS instead of HBS) and ANGLIo/SNCo. For some reason, kept seeing 19A as "Old English coin," not just "Old English." Not that that would have made the answer right!

Had getlOSt for 34D at first. Worked with lgS instead of GES at 47A.

Loved "Least powerful member of the board" and "Course using a fridge" (which took me ages).

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