1957 Cy Young Award winner / FRI 12-30-11 / Site of 1815 escape / Russain chemist with law of thermodynamics / Show for which Jim Dale won Tony 1980

Friday, December 30, 2011

Constructor: Mike Nothnagel

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Germain Henri HESS (5D: Russian chemist with a law of thermodynamics) —
Germain Henri Hess (Russian: Герман Иванович Гесс German Ivanovich Gess, August 7, 1802–November 30, 1850) was a Swiss-born Russian chemist and doctor who formulated Hess's Law, an early principle of thermochemistry. (wikipedia)
• • •

High Point: UP THE WAZOO
Low Point: HAIL TO
Crucial gimmes: SMOOT, SPAHN

Really liked this one—played tough at first but then opened up beautifully. I like having to struggle for results that do not then make me resent the struggle. Beginning was rough, with nothing going in in the NW until I just took a flyer on SPAHN (25D: 1957 Cy Young Award winner) and the crosses Worked (hurrah!). I guessed HOSTAS (38A: Landscaping plants) off the (at that point imagined) "H." I repeat, *I* guessed HOSTAS. Me. My knowledge of flora is ... I would say "lacking," but that's hardly strong enough. Crosswords taught me that HOSTAS was a word at all, and now today, bam, I just throw it down and off I go. Didn't go off so fast on HESS, though. Still science deficient. Needed Every Single Cross (HESS is a gas / toy truck company to me). I tanked at least one other sciencey clue ... oh yeah, I went with PETROchemical over NEUROchemical. Seemed reasonable. Just watched some awesome animated versions of PLATO's "Allegory of the Cave," and yet still needed virtually every cross to get the answer to 32D: Academy head. Had PLAT- and thought "how is a PLATE an 'academy head'?" Because of the PETRO error I had 45A: Most chic as TOPIEST (which I believe is the correct answer to [Most like a 33-Downed person]). Was annoyed at myself for not coming up with the director of "Good Will Hunting," until I realized I had No Idea Gus VAN SANT directed that. The only names I associate with that movie are Matt Damon and that other guy ... played O'Bannion in "Dazed and Confused" ... come on, what's his name? Affleck! Ha. Brain only partially decayed. Just like two of my teeth, it turns out. Stupid dental X-rays and their diagnostic abilities! I've got an appointment with Dr. Novocaine next Thursday ...

  • 17A: What you might reach for after hearing "Don't go anywhere!" (RADIO DIAL) — I don't really get this. Why are people so defiant of the admonition?
  • 16A: Holder of legends (ATLAS) — first two answers that leapt to mind : ARK, ERIC.
  • 33A: Show for which Jim Dale won the 1980 Tony for Best Actor in a Musical ("BARNUM") — this clue couldn't have been more meaningless to me if it tried. Jim Dale? Yeah, I'm gonna need a *little* more information than that.

  • 41A: Shout with cupped hands, maybe (BOO) — Not computing. Are you shouting it across an open field?
  • 48A: Drug sold under the brand name Retrovir (AZT) — Did not know this, but I had the "Z," so no sweat. I'm guessing "Retrovir" refers to retrovirus and not, as I originally thought, a Roman who wears bell bottoms.
  • 51A: Site of an 1815 escape (ELBA) — I had ERIE. That's a big miss.
  • 15D: How Simon Cowell often critiques (CRUELLY) — "The X-Factor" (or the first and only episode I watched, at any rate) was dull and terrible. And "American Idol" has gotten soft and keeps generating irrelevant winners. So I'm out of the reality singing competition game, I'm afraid. More time for watching and rewatching "Downton Abbey."
  • 10D: ___-X (septic treatment brand) (RID) — kind of a cruel way to clue a perfectly ordinary word, but somehow I managed to pull this answer out of my X.
  • 52D: Humorist who wrote "Progress might have been all rigiht once, but it has gone on too long" (NASH) — As in Ogden. I had SAHL. As in Mort. Humorist, four letters—SAUL is the knee-jerk reaction.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


foodie 12:13 AM  

Very funny write up, Rex, with little gems strewn all over it... Yes, UP THE WAZOO wa fantastic! And the entire puzzle made you feel like you were in the best of hands...clever, solid, with the right mix of challenge and light heartedness.

I'm afraid I too went with petro in lieu of NEURO chemical for a good while. Maybe because I do the stuff for a living, I'm always surprised when I see neurons, axons, synapses or other assorted brain stuff turn up in my puzzle. Have not seen "glia" that I recall. Seems like it might be a handy little word in a crossword?

foodie 12:16 AM  

Oh, and I also loved SNOB APPEAL!

Tobias Duncan 12:17 AM  

Septic treatment brand??? The only product with that name that I know is... well I guess the less said about that the better.

The coffee shop crowd loves my new crossword mug.Thanks SantaFeFran.

The two gimmies Rex talked about just killed me.You guys explained both of them to me and they should have stuck in my head.SMOOT is the one I feel bad about, I read the whole damn wikipedia page when I missed it last. Just could not quite bring it up from the memory banks.As for the SPAHN of hell all I can say is GRRRRRRRR!

Where exactly is ones WAZOO?

Anonymous 12:35 AM  

Spahn for me was a gimmie (don't know why I remembered him but I did and that was nmy first entry). UP THE WAZOO -- @Chefwen - That's my message with the popcorn if I lose....


santafefran 12:43 AM  

@Tobias, peachy re the mug!

Urban dictionary lists anus as first def. for WAZOO

Living in the desert Southwest, I am seldom SOAKED TO THE BONE but loved the answer.

@evil this puzzle is just waiting for your exegesis.

great write-up and wonderfully crunchy puzzle.

Thanks @Rex and Mike N.

Anoa Bob 12:58 AM  

In the days of vacuum tubes, relays, and RADIO DIALs (17A), "Don't go anywhere" meant advertisements were up next, so we reached for the DIAL to look elsewhere. Maybe to find a ballgame where the great Warren SPAHN was pitching with Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese announcing.

I thought the crossing of 39D and 42A was a golden opportunity for a "Wardrobe malfunction or not" clue.

Azo Coala Miners 1:25 AM  

I got SPAHN! I got SPAHN off the P!!!???!!!!!
I can retire :)

This one was easy for me...learned HOSTAS at Lollapuzzoola, the hard way.

Liked the 3 Zs.

JUST now realized it was tiTLed lady not tiLTed lady for PEERESS, so I withdraw my question.

And omg the Simon clue is so like pre-X Factor!

chefwen 1:26 AM  

@Tobias - Think nether region.

Had so many write overs I had to print out a fresh puzzle and start over. 35A time in an airport - arrival. 36A landscaping plants - shrubs. 6D saturated - imbued something or other. 28D looking for something to do with tax. And so it went... After chucking first print out and starting over with a little help from Uncle Google I was able to pull this one off and ended up really liking it.

@Rex - Was excited to watch the X-Factor and never made it through the first show. Over the top and ridiculous are understatements.

I'm not sure why, but tony = chic has always annoyed me.

Had hula at 19A, hands up anyone?

@anon @ 12:35 aka John in Chicago - what flavor of popcorn will you be sending in the Green Bay Packer tin?

Deb 2:27 AM  

@chefwen, hands up here for "hula." I also threw in "the remote" instead of RADIO DIAL, and would add to Anoa Bob's explanation that it continues to this day. I DVR everything I watch on TV and haven't seen a commercial in years. My daughter tells me that makes me somewhat culturally deprived, and I'm not sure she's wrong.

I heartily agree that this was a fantabulous write-up, Rex, in that it made me chuckle (Jim Dale) and laugh heartily (are you shouting across an open field? Ha!) and run to the computer to respond to a few things...

Can plants be trendy? I had never heard of HOSTAS until ten years ago or so and now they seem to be everywhere. They're gorgeous and I'd love to have some in my yard, but I've never had a yard with a decent northern exposure and they only do well in shade.

I'll trade your cavities for my bone loss! And I really want to pass on a little tip that has literally saved a few of my teeth that Thomas Friedman shared in a column several years ago. Keep a bottle of Listerine in the shower and swish it around (in your mouth!) while you shower. It's the sort of thing I just don't want to take the time for after brushing/before bed, but you're captive in the shower anyway, so... why not? Once I started doing this regularly, my gum line numbers steadily fell.

I also entered "Erie" for ELBA and "Sahl" for Nash, and I'm quite abashed by the latter since Ogden Nash is one of the many poets whose work my Dad read to me as a child. (Custard the Dragon was a huge favorite - mostly because of the bright and fanciful picture that accompanied it in our version of The Golden Book of Poetry.)

Finally, I'll end this verbal diarrhea appropriately: I immediately knew RidX, and I honestly have no idea why.

chefwen 2:34 AM  

@Deb - The remote, was yet, another of my write overs. I had too many to list them all.

Deb 2:43 AM  

@chefwen - I guess we just must be waaaay younger than Anoa Bob, eh? ;)

Mostly popping back in to clarify that Thomas Friedman did NOT share his teeth with me.

thobblen: a character Ogden Nash would probably have loved

jae 3:01 AM  

Me too for HULA plus BRIM for BONE and INSET for ATLAS.

@Deb -- I also DVR everything and I'll trade 20 extra min. per hour for cultural awareness any time. That said, the ad world culture is coming at you from so many directions I don't think you're missing much by skipping commercials.

Really liked this one but then MN rarely (if ever) disappoints. Medium for me too. A perfectly pitched Fri.!

Anonymous 3:56 AM  

Chefwen - If you go back and read my orignal offer you will ssee that I said the Chicago Mix. However, it doesn't matter since your team will come crashing down....


lit.doc 4:17 AM  

DNF, which is only now, some six years into The Addiction, starting to be unusual. If I’ve gotta take it UP THE WAZOO (sorry, but hey—it’s in the puzz), I prefer it be from the quality of the puzzle, not its shortcomings. This one had none.

The bulk of the puzzle was perfectly Friday difficult. That W/NW sector, though, geez. Ever so appropriate that UP THE WAZOO was its centerpiece. 25D AARON? 16A INSET? Even tried 14A STONE (non-rolling).

@chefwen, yeah—hand up for 19A HULA for longer than you could shake yer hips. And @jae, I see I'm not the only one looking for that INSET.

Rudy Shankar 7:38 AM  

30a SMOOT-Hawley Act. Some want it to be dusted off today to protect US jobs. Shouldn't the clue for 60a be AlaskAN or HawaiiAN? (Ans: TIMEZONE). Just AlaskAN could have been trickier. IMHO. 35a Time in an airport was usually scheduled, not any more.

Is the Friday-Saturday crossword juggernaut getting easier?

Glimmerglass 7:39 AM  

Not BOO as in Halloween; BOO as in"you stink!" shouted at a ball game. (I kniow all about this -- I'm a Red Sox fan.)

Rex Parker 8:01 AM  


Wow, that never occurred to me, I think because when I hear boos at a stadium, what I'm really hearing is BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!


Nancy in PA 8:21 AM  

Hand up for Hula, and for not connecting BOO to a sports venue. Hostas were so ubiquitous (and invasive) on the last piece of property I owned that we started to think of them as pests, though they did bloom prettily and almost never got nibbled by deer.

And RIDX made me laugh because the homeless shelter where I volunteer has an entire shelfload of it and we've taken to sending staff and volunteers home with a bottle (if they have septic systems) because it's more than a lifetime supply.

I'm embarrassed to say I had Nast for awhile, though I share @Deb's fond memories of Custard the Dragon --a family favorite read aloud over and over by my father, who died a couple of weeks ago. A relative came up with a tape he had made of Grandpa reading it to the latest great-grandchild; it brought us all to tears.

Great puzzle and great write-up.

jackj 8:34 AM  

Mike Nothnagel gives us fun phrases UPTHEWAZOO with NOLOVELOST , SNOBAPPEAL and SOAKEDTOTHEBONE , for three, in a puzzle which says forget about googling and enjoy solving an al dente Friday with no recipe book needed for this tasty dish.

There are plenty of gimmes or easy entry answers sprinkled around the grid to help one get started; think, ALENE and AMO; HOSTAS and LLDS; PESOS, PELT and SMOOT, as examples, and you’ve got the picture and will soon be on the road to a no erasures, no write-overs solve of this themeless beauty.

As an aside, the ongoing plot thickens as Will once again sneaks a spitball by the Times bluenoses, (with the aforementioned UPTHEWAZOO), and one can only wonder when and how the editors of the “New York Times Manual of Style and Usage” will deal with Will’s accumulating R-rated entries.

retired_chemist 8:40 AM  

This was a flower gently unfolding from its bud (which, for me, was the SE). PESOS, SMOOT, HAFT, NASH, TESS, got me the foothold. OUT OF REACH (29D) got fixed by the acrosses and the entire region fell. Then things simply blossomed from there.

A few missteps in the center - HULA of course, and I bet I am not the only one who had DUCHESS @ 22A. Got TONIEST right off so I did not fall into the PETRO trap @ 46D.

Nice science subtheme BTW: AZT, AZO, HESS's Law. Who knew HESS was Russian? But he was the only 4 letter eponym for a thermodynamics law I knew. Most students have different 4 letter words to say about thermo.

Nice to see the 14 year olds are out in force again today and join them - I echo @ Anoa Bob's comment on the TIT/NO TIT crossing. As Dave Barry famously said, "You're only young once, but you can always be immature."

HOSTAS is a WTF - will file it with ICHOR et al. in my folder for words I REALLY will never use outside of crosswords.

The NW was the last to succumb - LOVED both UP THE WAZOO and NO LOVE LOST. So, nice to end with a satisfied smile instead of a sigh of relief.

Thank you, Mr. Nothnagel. When I see your name I know I will enjoy my solve. You did not disappoint today.

Loren Muse Smith 8:43 AM  

I,too, had HULA. Living in WV, I had no trouble with COALMINER, but I also wanted some kind of tax on 28D. Loved SWEARSBY and UPTHEWAZOO. Didn't like the cluing for RADIODIAL. Overall a very satisfying Friday fill. Thanks Mike!

evil doug 8:50 AM  

Never had a septic system, but I know you don't want those babies blowing up in your yard. Hence Rid-X.

Had hula instead of ukes for a bit. Saved by soaked and waders.

To airline crews, layovers are where we spend the night.

Went through land survival school near Coeur d'Alene. Worst two weeks of my USAF career. Almost decided that if I got captured by the Viet Cong I'd shoot five of them (given my recently admitted lack of .38 skill, I should say I would have TRIED to shoot five of them), and save number six for me. I would not have been a model POW.

I agree: Hess doesn't sound like a Russian chemist. Wanted something with a v at the end, and some b's or z's.

Oil pan reminded me of my favorite cartoon bad guy: Mighty Mouse's nemesis, Oil Can Harry. Cruelly brought Cruella DeVille to mind.

I count 10 P's. P's are cool letters.


AnnieD 9:14 AM  

A perfect Friday puzz...just tough enough. Did very well until I hit the NW corner and struggled away. I kept thinking crosswordese and wanted 16A to be eddas. I kept wanting 14A to be mires or moors. I too had hula at first and my first reaction to 17A was "the remote"...maybe this old bird is more modern than she thought!

@Deb, you may try planting hostas anyway...i've had some do well in some sunnier locations.

@Nancy in PA the deer may be less fussy here as they will mow down my hostas like a salad bar if I don't stake out ivory soap to keep them at bay.

I love Rex's last few write ups...not a crank to be found.

SethG 9:21 AM  

Solving while tired, I was sure of ENT for the bird. Couldn't get into the NW at all. I even have like 30 HOSTAS.

The crossing of TIT and NO TIT is inspired.

PanamaRed 9:34 AM  

Spahn went in without a cross - grew up in Milwaukee and went to many, many Braves games from 1953 through 1958 (stadium was walking distance for me), and saw "Spahnie" pitch many times.

Otherwise, the puzzle was tough for me, DNF in the NW corner..

UPTHEWAZOO is funny - an expression my wife uses sometimes.

jberg 9:39 AM  

Finished with an error -- had no idea about 34A, "Kind of compound in chemistry," and for some reason "UP THE WAhOO" came into my mind - although I hear the actual phrase all the time.

I was living in Wisconsin when the Braves moved to Milwaukee, whith "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain" as their pitching rotation, so that really was a gimme. (Lou Burdette came later.)

Just yesterday I watched a video of Amanda Palmer playing her UKE at Occupy Wall Street, but I still couldn't think of it until I got SOAKED TO THE BONE.

I enjoyed teh puzzle - but I've said it before, the degrees law school grads get are either JDs or LLBs. The LLD is strictly honorary. I guess it's true that a few lawyers do get them, later in life, but that's too much of a stretch, IMO. On the other hand, 58A was a great clue - hard for me to understand, but satisfying once I did.

JayWalker 9:48 AM  

Me too - all of the above. The NW corner almost cleaned my clock - and then I suddenly got UPTHEWAZOO and NOLOVELOST!! Have no idea where they came from - but very pleased with myself at NOT having to go to Google this Friday. I almost always do. Grrrrr. What I loved most Mr. Rex, is that you too love DOWNTON ABBEY!!! Love it. Can't wait for the 8th when season 2 starts!!

retired_chemist 9:52 AM  

(The then Boston) Braves fans know the phrase "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain" coined during their 1948 pennant run.

ArtO 9:58 AM  

About 15 years ago a friend asked if I would wish to have some hosta he was digging up to thin them out along his garden beds. Noting the beautiful border they made, I gratefully took them and started my own bordering. Over the years I split them and spread them around. Now I, too, have a nice border around my garden beds. However, they grow like a weed and must be cut back annually before they totally take over your garden beds. Now friends and neighbors are the beneficiaries of my own surplus hosta.

But, be warned. Consider carefully before starting your own hosta border. It can easily get out of hand.

joho 9:59 AM  

SPAHN and HOSTAS saved me in the NW which was by far the thorniest part of the puzzle for me. I knew it had to be NOTIT but couldn't see how the answer to enmity would end in a "T."


@Azo Coala Miners ... I'm going to have start staying up later to beat you taking the words right out of my mouth! I too, read the clue "Tilted lady" and thought the answer was acrobat!

Thanks to @Rex and the ever-brilliant Mike Nothnagel for a great writeup and fantastic Friday puzzle!

Prefer neither 10:01 AM  

Lost a little time as altough I might be "chilled to the bone", I would only be "soaked to the skin". (My skin is pretty waterproof).

A little research indicates soaked bones vrs skin are regional variants of the idiom.

Asshole 10:02 AM  

NOLOVELOST for the expression UPTHEWAZOO. It's euphemistic in the worst way, but I knew the TIT NOTIT crowd would love it.

M07S 10:09 AM  

Thanks jberg. I was doing a puzzle from a coupla weeks ago in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Wayne Robert Williams and the clue was "Spahn and ___ and pray for rain". Had no clue until now.

Z 10:10 AM  

My hand is up for:
the remote

as well as throw Away and my exclamation being OHmy. It only took me an hour to fix all that mess.

@chefwen - I have to agree with you about chic/tony. To me, tony is something a peeress might be, while chic something more likely to describe Simon Cowell. The terms are not interchangeable in my head.

@chefwen and @ Anon JFC - The Lions are 3 point favorites over the Packers this weekend. Don't touch that dial, more signs of the apocalypse to follow.

Mike Nothnagel 10:12 AM  

Hey folks,

As always, thanks for the kind comments...I'm happy to be a part of a "no-Google" Friday for many of you.

"Dear Madam Barnum" is on an album by XTC called "Nonsuch" -- it's one of my favorite albums of all time. It's an album that I can listen to straight through without skipping any songs (and there are 17 of them, at that!).

Happy new year, folks!

Tinbeni 10:13 AM  

SethG said:
"The crossing of TIT and NO TIT is inspired."

NO TIT followed by OH NO even more so.

Jp 10:13 AM  

Very fun puzzle write up from Rex and a very fun puzzle as well. Took some time to get any traction. But soon got the bottom nearly filled. A bit of Googling to get some of the trivia based entries. Had SWEARS TO so could not quite see YRLY and BEAR. Also did not get the PLATO and TIT combo.
I loved discovering
All gems.

Tobias Duncan 10:24 AM  

@ Mike Nothnagel That is one of my favorite albums as well!XTC is one of those acts like TMBG or Morrissey that never quit making great music even after they left the limelight.

PanamaRed 10:43 AM  

@jberg - Sain did not come to Milwaukee in '53 - he had been traded in 1951 to the Yankees, for Lew Burdette, who was on the 1953 first Milwaukee Braves team.

r.alphbunker 10:54 AM  

I wonder if Will Smith contemplated replacing "Simon Cowell" in 15D with "Rex Parker"?

Really fine puzzle. So many clues that misdirected. E.G., "little starter" set me to thinking of prefixes that mean little, e.g., mini.

CAPTCHA was enznym. @retired chemist Would I get partial credit for this?

Matthew G. 11:03 AM  

Great puzzle, Mike! Medium-Challenging for a Friday, but with too many great entries not to love.

Most areas were easy, but Alaska and the Mid-Atlantic were tough enough to make the puzzle hardish overall. I've more often heard OUT THE WAZOO than UP THE WAZOO, tried STONE before SPORE, and of course HESS, although Russian, did not have a Russian name, so the NW was hard to crack.

But it was the area around BARNUM that really stymied me. Didn't know PESOS (vis-a-vis Manila), SMOOT, or SER. So, without BARNUM, I was in trouble. Never heard of that musical, nor of Jim Dale. That's a Saturday clue if I've ever seen one. Throw us an elephant to clue BARNUM on a Friday, won't you?

archaeoprof 11:14 AM  

A perfect Friday puzzle -- interesting from start to finish.

If you promise not to tell anyone, I will confide a dark secret: I have never watched any of those "Idol" shows.

Re-runs of NCIS are way better.

Two Ponies 11:14 AM  

How could I have this much fun and still DNF? Mike N. is at the helm, that's why.
The mid-Atlantic was my undoing.
Tried wow, had No Clue about Smoot (or Spahn but crosses gave me that), again No Clue about the musical but I still enjoyed the ride. Thanks for stopping by Mike.
Those phrases were such fun to suss out.
Thanks to @dk for helping me remember hostas from their last appearance.
@ Nancy in PA, Very touching story.

Tita 11:23 AM  

In spite of a dnfwg, loved it.

@chefwen - shrubS, and yes, hula, even though it was my ancestors who invented the UKE!

Must be plenty o'city folks in Rexville - HOSTAS are ubiquitous, being easy to grow and prolific.
Though anyone who does know them could offer alternate clues:
>> Deer delicacies, or Favorite at a deer salad bar...
(@Nancy - PA deer don't devour these??)

OILPAN was one of my gimmees...all those years of taking apart Old British Cars weren't wasted...

32A - As in, it is a pelt before it is a coat?
It's also a coat BEFORE it's a pelt - for the original owner, that is...

@r.alph - rotflmao re: your Will comment!!!

@Nancy - what a fabulous way to remember your dad...

Masked and Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Fun grid. Two wazoosUp.

PuzSpouse will put an "X" over a letter of "Shortz" up top, whenever she finds something questionable/groanable while solving. No X's today, but she almost chalked one up for HAILTO, she said. Narrow escape.

Peace on Earth, good Will toward Shortzes.

NPR Listener 11:35 AM  

Programming note: NPR has been touting an item to be broadcast on All Things Considered this afternoon: A hard-bitten, in-depth report on . . . Beets! ("They taste like dirt!)

My first fill today was BARNUM. I can imagine that being true for @Greene also.

Just one wrote-over at33D, BEFOG before BESOT.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Z - Green Bay has nothing to play for and is sitting its best players while Detroit still has something to play for in the playoff seeding. GB has to win 3 games for Chefwen to win but only lose 1 out of 3 for me to win (though I don't know what I;m going to do with 30 bucks worth of Hawaiian goodies). I like my chances but not nearly as much as I loathe GB. Loathe, as in NO LOVE LOST.

Evil Doug - Spoken like true Air Force (65-67 JAG). Viet Nam was where the USAF learned how to use stategic bombers for tactical bombing and tactical bombers for strategic bombing. Glad you never had to use that pistol.

Rex - That's the difference between spelling and phonetics.

r.alphbunker - "I wonder if Will Smith contemplated replacing 'Simon Cowell' in 15D with 'Rex Parker'?" Maybe the sharpest stilleto I've seen here and am pissed that I didn't think of it!


Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Just a plug for Jim Dale: He's an amazing "Voice Artist" who narrated "Pushing Daisies" on Tv and also did a simply incredibly entertaining job reading the entire Harry Potter series for I don't know which company, but I can tell you how great he was....over 100 voices, but his genius is pacing and warmth. I'm sixty and loved every book read out loud, and would never have read the books otherwise...

Lewis 12:12 PM  

@rex -- like yesterday, a witty, fun, and instructive writeup. Except you said HAIL TO was your low point, whereas I quite liked it.

Like Tita dnfwg, but loved this puzzle, with many ahas. Smooth, fresh, and -- to use a word I rarely use -- delightful. The NW was toughest for me, but then those two lovely long downs came, and I'm still smiling. Thanks, Mike!

ranman 12:18 PM  

I have heard both but "out the wazoo" (vs. "up") seems to be more regularly used in my (usually work) contexts.

Finally a decent puzzle for me. A full week of Naticks even Monday! Duh.

KRMunson 12:25 PM  

Am I the only person in the world who says "Out the Wazoo" instead of 'Up the Wazoo"? That threw me off for a while.

John V 12:28 PM  

NW did me in. Never saw UPTHEWAZOO.

Is 25A clue fair? The answer is an abbreviation, the clue is not,save for E.U. That threw me off.

As noted when he popped up before, my mother went to school with Warren "Lefty" Spahn, South Park High School, Buffalo, NY, so that was my unfair advantage this morning. Sorry 'bout that, @Rex. So, save for NW, medium, but in the end DNF.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

For me 'up the wazoo' was the low point. T'aint in my universe and wahoo sounded as natural.

The whole puzzle was pretty much a slog for me, but that is as likely due to my mood as the puzzle.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

BTW Ogden Nash wrote a poem about the Senator in today's puzzle. Aapparently he was good for more than protectionism, for the poem begins:

Senator Smoot, Republican UT
is waging a war on smut

It goes on from there, but this is all I can dredge up.
Enjoyed the puzzle today

retired_chemist 12:51 PM  

@ r.alph - LOL! Part credit - something off for spelling.

ChemProf 1:01 PM  

@r_c: I, too, thought "thermo in 4 letters, must be Hess." Unfortunately my confidence in thermo knowledge was less than my confidence that Hess was not a Russian name so it took forever to go in. :)

At least I got Retrovir ;)

Ogden Nash 1:09 PM  

(THanks to Wikiquotes.)

Smoot Smites Smut

Senator Smoot (Republican, Ut.)
Is planning a ban on smut.
Oh rooti-ti-toot for Smoot of Ut.
And his reverend occiput.
Smite, Smoot, smite for Ut.,
Grit your molars and do your dut.,
Gird up your l__ns,
Smite h_p and th_gh,
We'll all be Kansas
By and by.

When smut's to be smitten
Smoot will smite
For G-d, for country,
And Fahrenheit.

Senator Smoot is an institute
Not to be bribed with pelf;
He guards our homes from erotic tomes
By reading them all himself.

Smite, Smoot,
Be rugged and rough,
Smut if smitten
Is front-page stuff.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

always heard it as up the Kazoo. a euphemism perhaps. thought of boo as at political rallys and even the theatre. wanted soaked to the gills. great puzzle.

syndy 1:16 PM  

Here in sunny southern california (semi arid) our deer count is very low so the HOSTA must have migrated.Smoot finally dredged up from the very bottom of memory but it was tattered and mud covered.The NW corner was a killer! but such a CHIC and TONY killer.everything a friday should be! Thank God It's Nothnagel!

Tita 1:23 PM  

Favorite thing I learned from puzzles today:
Bagatelle - post googling learned me that among other things, it is a game that later became pinball, first played at the Chateau de Bagatelle! (Do check wiki on this - there is something for everyone - sports, politics, art...)

Oh - upon hitting refresh, I see that Ogden Nash has just nudged out top spot - that is a gem of a poem.

DigitalDan 1:54 PM  

"Idol" shows are the closest thing to variety shows available on TV today, a shame now that the A/V quality is so much better. Guest stars on "Idol", the fabulous backing band on "Dancing with the Stars" make them worth watching. Occasionally, a contestant performance can be awe-inspiring. I skip all the up-close-and-personal stuff, but I do try to pick out the gems from the fluff.

Del Taco 4:08 PM  

best parts of this lame puzzle
Happy New Year !!

They Call Me Mr. Tibbs because my last name is Tibbs and I teach science 4:09 PM  

Will Smith? The Fresh Prince of Ping Pong?

I've done every NY Times crossword puzzle since 1891 (I still remember the tribute to Melville on his death where every answer was OMOO) and have never ever seen HOSTAS and that's why I couldn't finish this puzzle even with H_STAS and was trying to get UMPTEEN-something out of UP THE WAZOO (which I agree should be OUT the wazoo) and couldn't see that the E.U. clue was prompting an abbreviation so invented a country called SHAD. Plus all you people saying you've heard of HOSTAS are lying. You too, Nothnagel.

Rhea58 4:20 PM  

Really liked this puzzle today.
And the write-up.
Couldn't get soaked to the gills
out of the mind for longest time.

As others have said, hostas are
really very prolific but if one is
not prone to constant gardening, they are perfect, esp. in periphery areas.

Masked and Anonymous II 4:35 PM  

@Mr. Tibbs... I've heard of 'em. Got a bunch planted out back. But thought they wrote out as HaSTAS; learned better, today.

While I'm here...

Fave 31 remark: New high and low points feature. Nice. Sorta like a good news/bad news shtick.


Fave clues: The ones for RADIODIAL and BOO. They both made you conjure up a whole alternate clue "universe" and analyze behaviors within it. Deep sh*t.

Wrong again, M&A breath dept.: "Deposit remover?" -- Wanted BANKHEIST.

R. McGeddon 4:45 PM  

I've not only heard of HOSTAS, I've beaten them back when they've threatened to mount a hosta takeover of my garden and turn it into hosta territory.

Anonymous 4:53 PM  

JohnV wrote:

"Is 25A clue fair? The answer is an abbreviation, the clue is not,save for E.U."

Yes, the clue is fair. "E.U." is the abbreviation hint in the clue.

Chip Hilton 5:43 PM  

I last bought a hosta plant about 10 years ago. Since then, it's been divide, re-plant, and watch them flourish. Only problem: I never expect them to achieve their massiveness. I'd love 'em to stay about 2 feet across instead of the 5 or 6 feet they get to over a few years.

SPAHN was my first fill. I still think of him in the great back-to-back Yankees/Braves Series of '57-'58.

Second straight day that the NW held the hammer for me. Problems UPTHEWAZOO.

quilter1 6:05 PM  

Busy day so started late but really liked how it "unfolded like a flower bud" as someone has said. Those long answers were terrific.

Hand up for hula and duchess, otherwise very smooth.

skua76 6:58 PM  

For some reason I guess I never heard of hostas...been renting apartments most of my life. And at some point I threw down ouTHEWAZOO before noticing that it really didn't fit. So in the end I DID finish without Google. Some great clues, thanks Mike and Rex!

Rube 7:17 PM  

Hand up for hula, away, waiting and any other writeover that anyone had. The bottom line is DNFWG, (or DNFw/oG). However, really enjoyed those long downs and had fun with this puzzle.

Remembered HOSTA from a few months ago. Asked my (Master Gardener) sister about these when I was in Seattle last August. She pointed out a runty little leafy plant that I recognized, but did'nt know the name of. Let's just say that they don't really thrive in the Pacific Northwest. However, I do plan on trying them at home in the SF Bay Area this Spring. Particularly if they are indeed deer resistant. Will report later. @AnnieD, what is this about ivory soap and deer? Are they afraid of baths?

Tx for stopping by Mike.

acme 7:40 PM  

Hess doesn't sound Russian bec he was born in Switzerland.
Hmmm, yet another chance to repeat my Family Feud/Bad Answer story:
They said "Name a famous Rudolph..."
Father said, "Reindeer", mother said, "Hess" and the son guessed, "Hitler?"!

donkos 7:49 PM  

Unlike yesterday's puzzle, this puzzle had "difficulty symmetry" - it was equally challenging in every quadrant but never so much so that one had to revert to google to complete it. Like Rex, I really enjoyed this one - but then completing ANY Friday without help is my definition of enjoyment!

michael 8:06 PM  

Great puzzle -- both clues and answers. Always look forward to Nothnagel puzzles. I don't know much about gardening, but hostas were easy for me. When I lived on aptly named Garden Street, my backyard was full of hostas. The previous owners had been avid gardeners, as were most of my neighbors.

mac 8:24 PM  

I'm so naive, I thought the Wazoo was a river....
Fantastic puzzle, fantastic write-up.

Hand up for petro and hula. I did not know Jim Dale. For a moment I thought there was butter in the bottom of the crank case, but of course that would be on the top.

Kerry 9:50 PM  

Apparently there's no baseball player named SPORN.

Knew SMOOT though. Guess I was studying my American History while all y'all layabouts were at the ballpark.

If it weren't for SPORN, I'd have enjoyed this.

ARLENE 10:30 PM  

I don't time myself, so started in the morning - but couldn't get the NW. Came back in the afternoon, and - amazing - finished the puzzle! (No Google.) I always wonder how the brain lets that happen.
But yes - had HULA, PETRO, SOAKED TO THE SKIN - before I figured it all out.
And HOSTAS in my yard in New Jersey would last about a day as deer food.

AnnieD 7:55 AM  

for whatever reason, deer don't like the smell of ivory soap. So we put bars of soap out on stakes around the yard to keep the deer from eating our plants. It works well for several months until the soap dries out too much and loses its fragrance.

worked really well in my rock garden until the soap kept disappearing....that's when I saw the crows eating it! Sheesh!

Spacecraft 12:43 PM  

Alas, Mike, you were not part of a Google-less Friday for me.
List of never-heard-ofs:
Jim Dale
this particular HESS
SWED (it's SWE)
Interesting fill and all, but just too much obscurity for me. The natick at HOStAS/tIT was really tough. I tried KIT but HOSKA only led me to food. Finally remembered TIT (as in "Willow, tit willow, tit willow").
Loved the Nash poem from Wikiquotes. It was a...beaut!

rain forest 4:55 PM  

Here in syndi/Canada, Smoot could only be attained via crosses, but that section, and its counterpart in the northwest were the easiest quadrants pour moi, including Hail To.
@r.alph--nice zinger!

I thought the puzzle was just this side of brilliant, even though I'm not sure what the other side of brilliant would mean.

Liked the "high point", "low point" addition, though I disagree with today's "low point", but who cares? Who reads these late posts?

Mighty Nisden 5:40 PM  

@rain forest - I always wonder the same thing. But since most of the solvers are in our syndi land I'll bet more that you think.

Did so much better today then yesterday. Could not quite finish but love UPTHEWAZOO.
Hand up for hula and had SPAHN with just the P.

@anon bob - Biggest belly laugh with 'I thought the crossing of 39D and 42A was a golden opportunity for a "Wardrobe malfunction or not" clue.' Thanks for making my friday better!

Dirigonzo 8:08 PM  

Mike Nothnagel's puzzle inspired a snark-free write-up by Rex and over 80 comments almost totally devoid of mention of nits to be picked. It's a Friday miracle in Rexville.

In another near-miracle, my solving experience closely paralled Rex's, albeit in very, very, very slow motion. Like others, wondered how mention of the ol' wazoo made it into the grid but I'm glad it did.

@Deb - that's some good advice; I use Listerine every day and have healthy teeth and gums (for a man of my advanced years). When I'm done rinsing my mouth I gargle it for a few seconds too, and I haven't had a sore throat in decades. (I've read that Bourbon works well, too, but I'm pretty sure that's not how I want to start my day.)

eastsacgirl 6:48 PM  

Wow - felt so proud of myself! Only needed hubbie's help on Spahn then was able to do the rest of the puzzle myself. Just felt like a miss smarty pants with a Friday puzzle. Was a little bummed to see only rated medium but I'll take it any way I can get it.

Montreal Joe 8:33 PM  

syndication here. Got the P for Academy head. Anyone else think PRIVY might be a term used in a military academy for a washroom?

Unknown 9:57 PM  

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