Longtime Guiding Light actress Beth / SAT 1-7-12 / Progress by intelligent design / Barbizon School painter Jules / Hellenistic-era galley / Proust's Parisian courtesan / Hockey player Roloson wrestler Johnson / Glacial pinnacles / Wack in hip-hop

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

 Word of the Day: TELESIS (14D: Progress by intelligent design) —
Telesis (from the Greek τέλεσις /telesis/) or "planned progress" was a concept and neologism coined by the American sociologist Lester Frank Ward (often referred to as the "father of American sociology"), in the late 19th century to describe directed social advancement via education and the scientific method. The term has since been adopted as the name of numerous groups, organizations and businesses. (wikipedia)
• • •

Took one look at the grid and thought "well, this is going to suck." Given that expectation, the puzzle was not so bad. As stunt puzzles go, this one was about average. Passable, but with seriously ugly stuff in the margins. One huge plus: the eight interlocking 15s are all remarkably solid. And not a SCARLET TANAGERS or A LOT ON ONE'S PLATE in sight. The rest of the grid is predictably mediocre-to-weak, with a particularly bad patch in the NE (think TELESIS / LAE / CCXII / SERACS). Lots of names no one really knows, like EHLERS (30A: Longtime Guiding Light actress Beth), and DUPRE and ODETTE (16D: Proust's Parisian courtesan) and DWAYNES (34D: Hockey player Roloson and wrestler Johnson) (OK, I've heard of DWAYNE Johnson, aka The Rock, but "Johnson" isn't exactly a giveaway name). Also, WAS OLD!? Yeesh. That is some LESSER OF nonsense. Also, two COURSEs!? Two REDs, OK, but Two COURSEs?! Ugh. But still, as I say, as this kind of low-word-count, "hey ma, look at me"-type puzzle goes, it holds together, mostly.

It felt hard at first, when I couldn't get many of the short answers (where I usu. start with a puzzle like this). But after putting TRY AS and ICER next to each other, I decided to actually look at the clues for the long answers, and off the "-YE-" I got STAYED THE COURSE. From there I got TACIT and ECON, which gave me access to the whole west and (eventually) south sides. Had some trouble moving up the central alleys to the NE (where I eventually finished things up). SERACS (29A: Glacial pinnacles) was a mystery, and I couldn't remember the exact boiling point of water, or that damned Papua New Guinea port (which I've seen in several, usually weak, puzzles), so I was blocked there. Never heard of a CAT BOAT (8A: Craft with one mast and one sail), never heard of "A COOL Million, though some muscles and tendons were ROPY ... so, yeah, access to that NE corner was tough. But I made out the COURSE part of EXTENSION COURSE, and eventually brought DEAD AS A DOORNAIL back across, which then let me work all the kinks out. TELESIS was a Hail Mary, but looking at it now, I don't see how it could've been anything else. I know TRIREME from various ancient Greek stuff I've had to read over the years, so I figured BIREME must be ... something (31A: Hellenistic-era galley).

  • 36A: Waterwheel parts (VANES) — well, of course. Who doesn't know their waterwheel parts. Elementary school stuff.
  • 11D: Frank's place (BUN) — had this as DOG at first, then realized the DOG *is* the "Frank." BUN followed shortly.
  • 28D: Wack, in hip-hop (ILLIN') — "Wack" has far more currency than "ILLIN'," which peaked adjectivally in the mid '80s.

  • 43D: Brooklyn Park setting: Abbr. (MINN.) — oh sure, right next to COON RAPIDS. Who doesn't know this? Child's play.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:11 AM  

Easier than yesterday's for me.  Top half med.-tough, bottom half pretty easy.  So med. or easy-med.  That said, I had plenty of write overs...HORDES for 8d, TEST at the bottom of 12d and DEGREE at the end of 15a, to list a few.

Pretty good Sat.  although the two COURSEs and REDs seem to violate some rule somewhere and, CERTS is breath mint not a candy.  I too liked the 15s.  

foodie 12:20 AM  

I liked it. The number of proper names was low, which always indicates to me that I should be able to work it out. That's much more comforting than the thought: "Not in a million year will I know the answer to this one..." feeling.

And yes, the construction was pretty impressive!

I like the cluing for SCREW! But in Rome, did they ever or do they now use the Fahrenheit scale? The answer should be C...

STEPDAD reminded me of the first time I commented on this blog, over 4 years ago (!). The puzzle had "Faux Pa" as the cutesy clue for STEPDAD, and I remember thinking that this was too clever by half. I did not like the implication that having a STEPDAD was an error of some sort. Rex was most unhappy with the clue and did not like the idea that FAUX indicates fakeness or cheap imitation. I agreed with him, liked the intensity of his reaction, and was moved to comment-- but as anonymous, and about SUMAC! Oh well :)

Wood 12:38 AM  

A lot of scary white space in this grid, but I wound up finishing it in exactly half the time of yesterday's. Might be a Saturday record for me. Loved the interlocking 15's, and while not obvious their clues were spot-on. Did not love SERACS and BIREME crossing SINEX. (Had DRANO there for a while.) Then had rESEt (Fix) for 39A, which made SINEX really tough to see... until I realized rUPRE was probably wrong.

Minneapolis suburbs are popular in xwords for some reason. EDINA pops up often, and recently there was Columbia HTS... now Brooklyn Center. That's Wal-Mart country, avoid it if possible.

r.alphbunker 1:08 AM  

A lot easier than yesterday. Write overs were
43A Like some uncared-for closets [MessY-->MOTHY]
5D Some, in Seville [esAS-->UNAS]
40D Brown shade [mOChA-->COCOA]
36D Like pocketed bills [foldED-->VETOED]
29D Blockage-busting brand [drano-->SINEX]

The L of EHLER was the last letter entered. It was an educated guess because ILLIN[G] seemed related to Wack.

Guessed that TELESIS was from the same root as teleology so that helped with the spelling and gave me LAE.

GILL I. 1:22 AM  

This was plain hard for me. I refused to give up but it did take me 3 hours.
I didn't have much trouble with the 15's but did notice both COURSE and wondered what @Rex might say. I guess it's o.k.?
5D is a bit tricky and I didn't like that I had ALGO and refused to budge. UNAS or unos is correct but me no like. Also agree with @jae. CERTS aren't candy.
Off to rest this tired head since I feel DEAD AS A DOORNAIL(why are doornails dead?)

meta4 1:25 AM  

On my first pass the only word I completed was BUN. It took a while but I managed to chip away at it (unlike yesterday's DNF).

I skip M-W 1:49 AM  

@Gill I. P.
I think doornails are to be hammered in totally straight , or "dead" .
Yesterday's was more fun, though I enjoyed dirty politician.
Like @Rex, I thought too many courses. I'm now a stepdad, and liked this clue. The Barbizon school is one era of art I know nothing about, but from the Jules, and the crossed 15s pretty easy to guess Dupre.

Of course the romans didn't have a Fahrenheit scale, nor Celsius at the time they used their numerals, but isn't that the reason for the question mark?
the crossing of smell and smelt was cute.

BtW, my first answer was lower part of 13 D, but it took me awhile to get Asiatic, since I think of Elephas maximus as Asian. didn't know betel was relative of pepper, but that's all I learned from this puzzle. (Except, though I 've heard of a catboat, like @ Rex,didn't know it had one mast and sail. Beth Ehlers I've heard of, but who cares? ) Yesterday's was more informative.
captcha = chema = sort of a diagram lacking an s.

Clark 1:50 AM  

There is a cheese called 'serac' that I am very fond of. I have only found it in the French-Swiss alps. I thought I'd look it up to see if it was spelled the same way as the glacial feature. To my surprise, the cheese comes first. "The name 'serac' comes from a Swiss name for a very dense, crumbly white cheese; from a distance, a field of seracs can resemble cheese, at least to an imaginative eye. The name for this cheese, by the way, is derived from the Latin for 'whey.' " (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-serac.htm)

@foodie -- Maybe we should use Galen's temperature scale for the boiling point at the Roman baths?

syndy 1:59 AM  

My first entry was I WISH for 18a ,also had drano and long resisted CERTS. Interesting cross at SMELLS/SMELTS.Tough but doable finally Krozel usually kicks my but so yeah for good guessing!I had the Exercise and the ELEPHANT fairly early but struggled to complete the entries.timed out as medium

I skip M-W 2:01 AM  

I looked up the Barbizon School on google images (after finishing, of course) and then Jules Dupré himself. He's sort of like this crossword, skillful but not interesting.

Gareth Bain 3:15 AM  

Your "Medium" was harder than any puzzle in 2011 for me except this one: http://www.xwordinfo.com/Crossword?date=11/26/2011. Interesting factoid @Clark!

Asiatic Capa Mothy 4:25 AM  

Uck, took me a couple of hours, i think...and i still had a wrong word...I had TWN which seemed ugly...but TWP is not a word, a thing, an abbreviation, an anything is it?

Tried to decide between OYEz and OYEs...oops!
I realize i never would have relented to put in a second RED.
Resisted the second COURSE as well...
No way no way no way. Mistake? New rule? Pushing envelope? I say NO No No.

Just when i finally started to like Joe's puzzles, I'm back to square one...
I can't explain...I'm blown away by EIGHT intersecting 15s that i have to admit i didn't realize while solving...
But two COURSES seems inexcusable, ASIATIC for Asian, MOTHY, TWP, PHU all make me itchy

MINN took me an embarrassingly long time...forgot about ol' Brooklyn Park...
I'm not positive and too tired to look it up
(watching my latest guilty pleasure, "Excused" i can't get enough of the host Iliza Schlesinger ! Also too lazy to look up her name, but funny funny funny and pretty and could outsnark our host)
but i think DWAYNE Johnson, aka The Rock, is also from MINN....tho i don't know if he makes up an entire suburb.

Acme 4:34 AM  

Ok, it's Iliza Shlesinger, no c
And i mixed up the Rock with the Body...
(got caught between the rock and a hard...body?)
And neither are from MINN

They Call Me Mr. Tibbs because my last name is Tibbs and I teach science 7:50 AM  

@Acme, TWP is short for "township," which can be either a town on a ship or a bunch of ships making up a town (not a literal town of course, because you can't have roads in the ocean or interesting parades anybody would want to go to), like an RV park for rich people. Less commonly it can mean the state or condition of being a town, but it's avoided because it sounds weird to say "the state of" a town, just like it's weird when the governor gives a "state of the state" address. WHen I hear "State of the State" I get kind of excited because, you know, pun, and then it turns out to be just another speech about how much we all hate each other except Jesus (who hates you but loves me).

That part of the puzzle with SERACS and SINEX and BIREME was bullshit, Joe Krozel. You know it, I know it, the American people know it. The rest was pretty good. I got it done in DUE COURSE. (Get it? French sort of pun thing I did there.)

Scott Thomas 7:56 AM  

I recommend Nathanael West's "A Cool Million," which is a hilarious novella-size send-up of the Horatio Alger stories. West dedicated it to his brother-in-law, no other than S.J. Perelman.

Loren Muse Smith 7:59 AM  

Fairly easy Saturday for me. I struggled in the west for a while since I dug my heels in with EXERCISEROUTINE and RIPTIDE. Loved that (the redundant?) DIRTYPOLITICIAN lead right in to ANSWEREDTONOONE! I, too, had to guess at the "l" cross at 28D and 30A; I don't watch soaps or listen to hip-hop.

I was brought up short with the clue for 49A, "voiced letters." I would have liked "phones" or "sounds" rather than "letters." If I had referred to "voiced letters" during my ORALEXAMINATION in linguistics, my thesis director's face would have turned DEEPRED with his TACIT disapproval!

Leslie 8:26 AM  

A thought: Is it possible that "In the catbird seat" started out as "in the catboat seat?"

Was interested to find that the BETEL plant is related to pepper plants. I'd heard SONANTS, as it's used in the clue, so no problem there. I'm older than dirt, so no problem with Dien Bien PHU.

CEDAR was embarrassingly long in coming, as my mind was insisting on "mothballs" (no way) and then "camphor" (less "no way," but still not possible).

If Rex allowed himself two unfamiliar words at the top of his write-up instead of just one, I'll bet he'd have thrown SERACS in there, too. Thanks @Clark for his explanation.

And yes, how odd about the two REDS and the two COURSES. Hmmm.

Smitty 8:37 AM  

Hands up for FOLDED, Thought CATBOAT was SCHOONER before I saw one mast and ONE sail.
Anyone else put in PTSD for depression?

I liked this puzzle - the pace was just right for me. First pass got only ICER and ELEPHANT which gave me CAPE and NEW, so I got bold on the second pass and winged it

I went totally blank at the SINEX VANES section toward the end.

poc 8:54 AM  

Never heard of an ASIATIC elephant, just an ASIAN one. TWP is new, and I've no idea what ILLIN is supposed to mean. Otherwise I liked the fill and (most of) the cluing, but I'd rate this one Medium-Hard.

dk 8:57 AM  

This one was a walk in the park and I am not talking about Brooklyn Park. WENT not so WILD over WASOLD but the rest was more fun than BETEL nuts.

So wanted BIREME to be biteme.

Favorite was CATBOAT as I had one for years and it was pea green. Many a warm Maine day was spent in that boat.

Photographed many a Roxy Music concert, Rex thanks for the clip..

*** (3 Stars) Thanks to you MOTHY Joe Krozel.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Never looked so forward to reading Rex as I did this morning after finishing this puzzle. Thought his head was going to explode over the two COURSEs and REDs. Darn. I guess he didn't have as much of an issue with it as I did.

jackj 9:19 AM  

Gloriously difficult; just what a Saturday should be!

With nowhere else to go, the "X" in my first entry of CCXII (for boiling point of 212F) gave me a reason to take a flyer on EXAMINATION (as the second half of a phrase which ultimately was completed with ORAL). ELEPHANT, next door, soon followed and a clock-wise, tough but fair solve ensued.

When art and professional hockey are two of one's passions, finding DWAYNE Roloson and CATBOAT in the same puzzle, well, it was enough to really stir the old solving juices

Roloson was the losing goalie (for the Tampa Bay Lightning) in what was arguably the best pro hockey game ever played, when the Boston Bruins defeated Tampa 1-0 with a score in the final minutes of game seven in the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals of 2011. (A game in which it was all a superb show of skill since not a single penalty was called against either team).

CATBOAT is memorable for art lovers as the sailboat pictured in Winslow Homer's iconic American painting titled "Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)" depicting an adult male and three boys catching the wind in their sails as they race around Gloucester (Massachusetts) harbor.

Thanks for the puzzle and the memories, Joe!

Rudy Shankar 9:47 AM  

This was a robust puzzle. Perhaps too absorbed to notice two COURSEs and REDs but very strong construction with ASIATIC ELEPHANT ( the Asiatic breeds are smaller and have less prominent ears than Tantar of comic book fame) and ORALEXAMINATION side by side.

Liked 39a clue " fix" for DESEX and 43a "Uncared for closet" MOTHY.

But, hey, what's with 34d not giving The Rock the prop he deserves: top billing.

And who is Roloson? Can he give that " I-got-you-sucker" look? like the Rock?

mitchs 9:56 AM  

@JackJ - same unusual solving route exactly. Slowed considerably though, by GOTOLD, which was MUCH more palatable than the terrible WASOLD.

Tita 9:59 AM  

@foodie - I too cried foul for 212F at the Roman bath... Then I wondered when the temperature scales were invented - anyone here know?

CATBOAT and BIREME were gimmes...ASIATICELEPHANT too, since we just had an Asian Elephant - really, Will??

Anyone else confidently throw down stayEdhomealONE, rendering the south ungettable for so long?

@Gill - yes - CERTS are 2, 2, 2 mints in one! Not candy.

@ACME - New Joisey is chock-full of ToWnshiPs...

Overall liked this - it took me so long to finish that I didn't notice the repeated words ;)

evil doug 10:05 AM  

Certs is a candy mint.
Certs is a breath mint.
It's two! Two! Two mints in one!


Kind of the precursor to: Great taste! Less filling!


Tita 10:08 AM  

"Favorite was CATBOAT as I had one for years and it was pea green. Many a warm Maine day was spent in that boat."

So you sailed it once a year??
(Sorry - stop feeding us straight lines...)

You've already gotten back at me, by resetting the test pattern of my brain to the only line I know from The Owl and the Pussycat"

evil doug 10:29 AM  

dirty politician...
was old...
answered to no one...
went wild...
deep red...
oral examination...
stayed the course...

quilter1 10:33 AM  

When I had two reds and two courses I looked for them in the other two corners, thinking that would be the theme of sorts. At first I thought I wouldn't be able to finish, but then it just filled in pretty smoothly. Good Saturday puzzle.

Catboat 10:37 AM  

In the catbird seat:

In a superior or advantageous position.


This is an American phrase - which is unsurprising as the grey catbird which is the probable source of the phrase is a North American species (there's also an Australian catbird). It's one of a group of birds called the mimic thrushes. They include mockingbirds and, as you might expect, they are adept mimics. The catbird is named for its ability to mimic the sound of a cat's meow.

Catbirds seek out the highest perches in trees to sing and display. The allusion to that is most likely to be the derivation of the term. It may also be the source of an earlier term with much the same meaning - 'sitting pretty'.

The phrase appears to have originated in the American south, although the date and circumstances are uncertain. There's certainly an association with the sport of baseball, and most of the early citations of the phrase mention the game. That includes the first mention of it in print, in James Thurber's 55 Short Stories from New Yorker, November 1942:

"She must be a Dodger fan. Red Barber announces the Dodger games over the radio and he uses those expressions... 'sitting in the catbird seat' means sitting pretty, like a batter with three balls and no strikes on him."

Z 10:46 AM  

Wanted exlax to clear my blockage. That pretty much summarizes my solving experience this morning.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

Agree with you @anon 9:00am !
Still don't know why Rex didn't go ballistic over the double COURSE and RED...
I live in Brooklyn, NY so didn't like MINN.

ArtLvr 10:53 AM  

I wanted some kind of Educational Cruise, since I already had filled in STAYED THE COURSE, but soon gave in to the duplicate there and also with the REDs. The fun of the rest was great enough to swallow the repetitions, and like DK I got my aquatic kicks from the CATBOAT, the BIREME and the boiling Roman baths. Trickiest was "Take the lead from" which seemed to indicate an actor being upstaged or replaced!


GILL I. 10:56 AM  

@I skip: Thanks, but I still didn't understand the expression DEAD AS A DOORNAIL. I looked it up and all the explanations gave me a headache. The short is that it's a nail hammered through a door that is then flattened at the other side so it can't be removed, hence DEAD. All of that, and a popular phrase, for a damn nail!
@Clark: You triggered a happy memory for me. My step-mom, who is French, made a fantastic lasagna using SERAC cheese. She made her own though. After I tried it,I thought I would never use store bought Ricotta again. I can't find it anywhere but I guess it's not hard to make.

Lindsay 11:04 AM  

Mistakes two days in a row. Don't know when that last happened. Anyway, I had 39A Fix as rESEt and while DESEX seems obvious in retrospect, I had an image of Hillary Clinton RESETting the US-Russian relationship cemented in my brain.

We need to get Rex out on the water. Or at least to a mooring basin for a tutorial on what's floating there.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Norm 11:46 AM  

This puzzle was right in my wheelhouse (don't expect a CATBOAT has one of those). LAE, SERACS & BIREME were gimmes: I love seeing some old crossword-ese now and then rather than the latest rap "star" I could give a ... "fig" about. Took a while to finish, but I liked it. Even the odd/proper names could be inferred/deduced readily enough.

foodie 11:48 AM  

@Clark and Gill I.P thanks so much for the information about SERAC. It sounded oddly familiar but as if in the wrong context, and I didn't know why. In trying to learn more about it, I discovered the New England cheesemaking site. Cool!

@Smitty, for a while I had SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor)in response to the Depression clue. Thought-- hey, finally something I know about! I then realized it was too straightforward for a Saturday and needed to think of other Depression meanings...

@ Acme, re mixing up the Rock and the Body-- your brain is showing :) I like how you think.

archaeoprof 11:50 AM  

Enjoyable, not-too-hard Saturday. Made me think, made me solve. Thanks, Joe K!

@Catboat: thanks for your update on "in the catbird seat." But (if I may), didn't Red Barber use it to refer to a 2-2 count? At that count, the pitcher has a pitch to waste, but the hitter doesn't.

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

I thought it was about right for a Saturday, finished, but had to work at it, no speed record.
Illin? Really?

Masked and Anonymous 12:24 PM  

Amazed human beings can make grids like this. Not to mention inflict them on other perfectly nice human beings and/or Evil Doug. This thing was a lot of cinnamon rolls goin' down, for M&A. Gotta admit I enjoyed the puz almost as much as the rolls, tho.

Fave fillins:
- DIRTYPOLITICIAN: Curious phrase. Seems overly repetitious, somehow. Better clue: "Congressperson".
- The 2 COURSE's: One more, and Killer Joe coulda had a "three-course meal" subtheme.
- PHU: Because 33% of its letters are U's; efficient. Better clue: "___ Phighters (knock-off band name)" .

Acme (not that one): Anything with ELEPHANT in it.
Nadir: WASOLD. Could hear 31 erupting, all the way from New Jersey.

Merciless clue: "Take the lead from?" Wanted the well-loved UNARM.

r.alphbunker 12:27 PM  


How was the first week of your course?

Catboat 12:41 PM  

Thanks @archaeoprof :

It is "Sitting Pretty" or any enviable position.

In my example the batter is in the catbird seat, while in your sample it is the pitcher.

One of Red Barber's books was Rhubarb in the Catbird Seat.

Two Ponies 12:42 PM  

Hats off to those who thought this was medium. I got creamed. But Joe Krozel and I never have gotten along.
If we're gonna buck the rules then I won't disbelieve my answers when repeats show up.
Ehlers? Who? Now I'm supposed to know cast members of soap operas??
Maybe I need a new hobby.

Rookie 12:43 PM  

It's no wonder my doctor has no luck in getting me to the gym.

At 2D, I had the following fill for the "aid in scaling down" clue.: EX--------CHIN-

My answer: extrasmallchina.

You know, they keep touting small plates as an aid in portion control!

Cannot believe that I thought of that rather than "exercise machine"!

jesser 12:50 PM  

First writeover was at 19A where I wanted acTas, but Joe was having none of it. More writeovers followed, particularly in the BIREME/SINEX/DESEX/VANE area, which was just painful, but the puzzle was otherwise fine breakfast fare. I had Bill's Breakfast at Old Town Restaurant: two eggs (over medium), red chile meat, refried beans and Mexican rice with a flour tortilla. That there'll stick to your ribs. And the waiter/owner, Tigger, is easy on the eyes.

I didn't notice the two REDs until they were pointed out here, but the two COURSEs were stunningly conspicuous, and I was greatly surprised by them.

When I lived in the Philippines, I saw people chewing betel nut all the time. They spit crimson. Disgusting.

Thanks to everyone who sent welcome back messages, both on the blog and via email. Warmed my l'il heart!

And now, off to the parade marking New Mexico's 100th birthday as a state. We had a whole category devoted to us on yesterday's Jeopardy show. Me and Tobias and SantaFeFran, we're feeling mighty enchanted right about now!

r.alphbunker 12:56 PM  


Your answer is infinitely better than the correct answer. Einstein's brain probably did a similar thing when he thought up relativity!

How about hooking an exercise machine up to a crossword puzzle? You would have to pedal to move the cursor to the square you want to fill in then speak the letter. If you goofed off the machine would replace some of your characters with random ones. A machine like that would probably kill speed solvers.

syndy 1:00 PM  

Fahrenheit-1724 Celsius-1744 the romans scale seems to be COLD-cool tepid warm hot-hey it worked!

davko 1:04 PM  

For all its flaws -- and there were a handful (i.e., is Certs really a "candy?") I've got to admire the thought that went into the design of this grid. Not only are the interlocking 15's impressive, but so were the misdirects, some of which were so well calculated, I ended up with multiple adjoining answers that had to be undone. 1A went from FORLORN (with FLOTSAM at 1D) to CASTLED (with AEROBICS MACHINE at 2D), before arriving at the correct RESCUED. Brilliant.

I had never heard of TWP at 45D (it's Department of Water & Power in Los Angeles), and were it not for DIRTY POLITICIAN being so obvious at 44A, I might have choked in the SW. Loved the sly DESEX instead of RESET at 39A.

@ anon 10:46 That was the whole idea -- it is, after all, Saturday. The tip-off is the capital "P." As any Brooklynite knows, there's no such park by that name in New York's namesake borough.

Mel Ott 1:15 PM  

I liked it. Wonderul interlocking 15's. Only a few examples of 3-letter fill.

I would much rather have my vocabulary expanded with a couple of difficult words like TELESIS and SERACS (both gettable from crosses) than have to learn the "creative" spelling of some pop names or lyrics.

davko 1:20 PM  

@ r.alphbunker Wow, exact same writeovers. Great minds think alike... or are just similarly manipulated by a savvy constructor.

r.alphbunker 1:37 PM  


"... similarly manipulated"
That is exactly why I love @Rookie's wrong answer so much. There is no way that anybody manipulated that. I love unmanipulated wrong answers.

A couple of days ago there was a clue that asked for words found at the beginning of many bumper stickers. The correct answer was IHEART. A friend of mine wrote down "honkif." My guess is that would have surprised the constructor also.

archaeoprof 2:12 PM  

@r.alph bunker: thanks for asking! They're all brand-new solvers, so starting on Thursday was pretty hard. But they worked in teams. Lots of smiles when they got the "all for one/one for all" theme.

Friday they worked in teams, with a google limit. They didn't enjoy the YVES/SONO neighborhood.

(ps: I just realize I forgot to send you that syllabus...)

@Catboat: thanks for that background. It's a terrific phrase, isn't it.

Wood 2:31 PM  

On the COURSE and RED repeats... my guess is that it's considered OK (in the service of a good payoff like 8 interlocking 15's) to have repeated words if they're part of longer phrases that are not repeated, as is the case with both items here. Doesn't seem that outrageous to me. Now, a plain ol' repeated word with no friends, that would be a no-no. Agree?

Lewis 2:33 PM  

@foodie -- great story!

@rex -- writeup brought laughs

@twoponies -- hang in there

This was very hard for me, who is still learning Maleska-isms like seracs and bireme, but I loved the long answers and the ahas that preceded them.

From the comments here, one would think that Will is going rogue regarding the rules. That doesn't seem like a bad thing. Aren't crosswords about keeping us guessing?

Chip Hilton 2:36 PM  

I was defeated by the area below the black diagonals. I just knew it was SEETO (as in "Hey, you think you could see to that parking ticket of mine, ol' buddy?") instead of DESEX and just as sure of DRANO for SINEX. When you're that tied in, it's a blockage, indeed. The eight 15's were fun and utterly reasonable but, ultimately, I went down in flames on this one.

Future Enterpriser 2:38 PM  

Constructor Alert dept.:
Never-before-used-in-NYT, 4-letter fill! Better than PHU, even. Has the highly sought-after alternating consonant-vowel pattern. Solid gold.

Clue: "Town terrorized by fish people in Roger Corman's 'Humanoids from the Deep'". [Spoiler alert, on final sentence below.] Watched this film classic, myself, just last night.

Send royalty checks (payable to "Cash") to: M. A. Anonymous, PO Box 999, Paramus, NJ. No SSN work-up necessary -- I'm what you'd call "freelance".

Oh, yeah... And the answer is: NOYO

David 3:41 PM  

19 black squares, wow. Never saw the two REDS but did see the two COURSES. At least they were in opposite ends of the puzzle. This played Medium for me as well.

DESEX almost never came to me. I was so stuck at the end that I nearly put in DESEW/SINEW. SINEX makes perfect sense but it just wasn't registering - I started with EXLAX (which has been in some non-NYT puzzles of late) as well as DRANO.

Loved STEPDAD and its clue, and my favorite 15 letter stack was DIRTYPOLITICIAN and ANSWEREDTONOONE - I almost fell into a trap with the ONE at the end, wanting a phrase with the word ALONE. Similarly, up top I had the AI quickly in DEADASADOORNAIL, and wanted some kind of answer including THINAIR.

Jp 4:20 PM  

Unlike yesterday's puzzle this one was lovely. I say so despite the fact that I did not come even close to finishing it. Google got me some vital anchors to get STAYED THE COURSE, ORAL EXAMINATION and EXTENSION COURSE. Could not quite get the other long entries.
But still looking at the solution I thought that I could have gotten a few more. Elegant construction. Typical Saturday difficulty for me.

Acme 5:27 PM  

It's your class, but it's been my experience that it is very risky to start them on thurs.
The whole point for new solvers is to see the weeks progression unfold...esp this week when th- sat were dnfs, broke rules and were challenging for the most adept!

Teams or not, i think you may be risking a throw into the deep end of the pool mentality and may lose folks who could wade in and become lifelong solvers by starting them with Mondays, no?

Anonymous 5:32 PM  

From my favorite free fountain of all useful knowldge, Wikipedia:

In the 1960s and 1970s, Certs was heavily advertised on American television with a famous campaign featuring two attractive young people earnestly arguing over the proper classification of the mints. One participant would assert that "It’s a breath mint!" while the other would assay a rebuttal by stating that "It’s a candy mint!" This taxonomic dilemma would finally be cleared up by the unseen announcer, who would achieve synthesis by explaining that Certs is "Two, two, two mints in one!". Saturday Night Live lampooned the ads with a fictitious product called "Shimmer" ("It’s a floor wax! It’s a dessert topping! It’s two, two, two products in one!'), and indeed the phrase "Two, two, two [insert almost any word here] in one" remains an American idiomatic expression into the 21st Century.

In 1999, the United States Customs Service classified Certs as a candy mint for tariff purposes (candy is taxed differently from oral hygiene products). In the ensuing suit before the United States Court of International Trade, Cadbury introduced expert testimony that Certs stimulate the flow of saliva, thus flushing bad odors from the mouth, and that its flavors and oils mask bad breath. But the court ruled that, since Certs do not contain anti-bacterial ingredients, they are, indeed, simply a candy mint. This ruling was, however, overturned at the Federal Court of Appeals, making Certs legally a breath mint. The Supreme Court of the United States is not known to have received any writs of certiorari that would enable it to hear the case.


I skip M-W 6:00 PM  

@Gill I. P. Thanks for better explanation of doornail deadness.

And thanks @Catboat for explaining Catbird Seat. But whence the cat in catboat?

and finally thanks @ anonymous 5:32 for Certs story.
Now I have to admit puzzle was more interesting than paintings by Jules Dupre. Even the ones with the sheep that's in the Legion of Honor museum n SF (though I've never noticed it on display) .

Cheerio 6:02 PM  

I thought this whole week was great - the constructors were a pretty rarified bunch. It started with Berry, and had a Gamache, a Parrish, a BEQ, a Schmiedeler, and a Krozel. Well, I only already knew 4 of these names, but thought I would give a shout out to all of them. Thanks to you all and Will and NYT for a great week!

I even liked "lesser of". I'd take that over "as of" any day. And then, I finished today's puzzle (with 3 wrong letters) without looking anything up. I think I've done that before, at least once, but almost never.

Rube 6:04 PM  

Did this last night, but just now getting around to commenting. Enjoyed the 15s, finding most of them fairly easy to figure out with just a few crosses. Did have trouble with CATBOAT since I never heard of this... an East Coast thing? MOTHY is either great or terrible... can't decide which, but the EHLERS/ILLIN cross is certifiably terrible, (and required a Google).

Knew BIREME, but had WENTloco at first, (this from another recent puzzle). Took a wild-haired guess on DWAYNES to finish the SE.

TELESIS is my WOTD, primarily because 1) it makes me think of teleseism, a large earthquake, and, more importantly, 2) Pacific Bell changed their name to Pacific TELESIS shortly before they were bought out by SW Bell. (The wife worked for Pacific Bell thru this transition.)

sanfranman59 6:13 PM  

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

Mon 6:49, 6:50, 1.00, 52%, Medium
Tue 8:51, 8:52, 1.00, 56%, Medium
Wed 15:04, 11:50, 1.27, 94%, Challenging (9th highest Wednesday median solve time)
Thu 17:30, 19:00, 0.92, 40%, Easy-Medium
Fri 28:08, 25:25, 1.11, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 27:19, 29:54, 0.91, 31%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:40, 1.04, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:38, 4:34, 1.01, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 7:35, 5:52, 1.29, 95%, Challenging (8th highest Wednesday median solve time)
Thu 9:06, 9:17, 0.98, 55%, Medium
Fri 13:39, 12:36, 1.08, 67%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 14:39, 17:02, 0.86, 21%, Easy-Medium

I'll add to the chorus of boos for duplicated words in this grid. I thought that was one of the deadly sins of crossword construction. They actually slowed down my solve quite a bit since I couldn't believe it would pass muster with Will. RipTIDE just had to be correct and disentangling the NE when I was sure that COURSE couldn't be right nearly made me resort to cheating.

Sparky 6:13 PM  

Finished about half, the right of diagonal side. DIRTYPOLITICIAN flew in. Expected alONE for quite some time at 47A. As for RRM, I just fill them in, glad I paid attention in grammar school. The two COURSEs tripped me up. Wouldn't even consider it for 15A. rESEt before DESEX. Had maYbe for TRYAS. Decided to put my clipboard down and move on to other things. Happy Sunday.

Dirigonzo 7:02 PM  

This old sailor jumped in the catboat and took a leisurely trip around the grid and arrived back at the dock in about an hour - slow by racing standards but downright speedy for a daysailor like me. Last letter in was a wrong guess at IdLIN - I'll have an extra ration of grog to ease the pain.

fergus 7:33 PM  

JFC -- didn't the Court of Appeals render any opinion about the highly-touted 'Retsyn?'

Kim Helliwell 7:47 PM  

Not being a New Yorker, _I_ didn't know MINN. Also, not being a rapper/hip-hopper, I didn't know ILLIN.

I didn't get BUN, and still don't.

and TWP for a municipal division?

so this was quite hard for me

michael 8:52 PM  

got this fairly quickly, but made some mistakes. Feel ok about not get sinex/seracs/bireme. Not so happy about the other trouble spot. Had oyez instead of oyer. What could be deepz--? Thought about it and confidently wrote in "deep zit."

oh, well..

Anonymous 8:57 PM  

@Kim H 7:47 --

Frank = frankfurter = hot dog

TWP is township, a municipal governmental entity is some states.


andrea course michaels 10:05 PM  

Shouldn't that be "writs of certSiorari"? :)

DMC's "We be Illin'" was the first rap song I had ever heard, LA circa 1986? along with "My Adidas" and balked at the word illin' and stillin' to this day!

Young Caleb does a fun standup routine over at BEQ's blog about rap worth checking out.

Rookie 2:37 AM  


Just back home after being gone all day. Thanks so much for the delight that you took in my extra small china! I love your suggestion about hooking up the crossword to an exercise bike. That might be my only salvation!

Donkos 11:48 AM  

Catboat refers to how the sail is rigged. Catboats use a gaff - a spar thar runs diagonally from the mast along the top of the sail. Catboats are popular on the east coast due mainly to the fact that most catboats were designed for sailing in shallow bays and coastal waters.

Although not a common rigging, there is no reason one could not add a second sail (called a jib). I got the answer right away because I sail catboats but the cluing is not exactly accurate.

Btw there is no relation between cat boats and catamarans.


Tita 12:35 AM  

@Donkos - thx for the explanation. Catboats are beautiful, balanced boats to see under sail.
I wonder though, why the name? I googled a bunch, but did not see any explanation.

donkos 11:41 AM  

@Tina - the most plausible definition I found online is this one: The term 'cat' probably comes from the 'cat head', a protruding cross beam, not far behind the bow, or head, of a sailing ship, to which the anchor was attached when the vessel was preparing for sea. The mast of a cat-rigged boat is stepped near the point that the 'cat head' would be.

I fear that the real origin of the name may be lost to history.

Tita 6:46 PM  

@Donkos- thx again!
Do you sail in New England? While out on my Hunter 146 last year in Cape Cod Bay, I saw a beautiful catboat named Elsa. The sail had a stylized black logo of the top of a cat's head - basically just 2 ears and the top of its head.

Do you know who makes it?

readingcare 4:32 AM  

That part of the puzzle with SERACS and SINEX and BIREME was bullshit, Joe Krozel. You know it, I know it, the American people know it. The rest was pretty good. I got it done in DUE COURSE. (Get it? French sort of pun thing I did there.)

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Anonymous 4:27 PM  

There is obviously a bunch to know about this. I feel you made some good points in features also.
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Spacecraft 11:42 AM  

Finished, with no help and only two wrong letters, at 14d. I seized upon TELOS, "ultimate end," and figured I was dealing with the revised version (TELOSII). I mean, why not, with the crossing I also being Roman? And why can't a fancy-schmancy geological word like SERAC have an I-plural? As for 20a, well, that was always a natick for me.
Stared for a long time at the clue "Pop from a different line." Now what in the world...? This has to make sense, somehow. So, like Mr. Carroll's Jabberwock-hunter, I "stood awhile and thought." And as in uffish thought I stood, I nouned that Pop instead of verbing it--and behold! the frumious STEPDAD! Or maybe he was just manxsome.
Hand up for brow-furrowing over the two courses, the redundancy of 44a, and the non-candiness of CERTS. I was also slowed in the center by wanting GOTOLD--but the damn thing WAS already OLD. However, at some point, it had to have GOTten old, no? Ah well, we don't like to use "get" as a substitute for "grow" or "become." That kind of talk shows, shall we say, a MOTHY DIALECT.
Also had a minor writeover with SMEarS for SMELLS, and for a time wanted just a SORE muscle, not a TORN one.
A fun solve, very satisfying if only I'd glommed onto the now-obvious TELESIS.

Simply, Ron 12:11 PM  

Just stopping by from America's Finest City to say this puzzle was Greeeaaaat! Thank you Mr. K. I've no compaints about anything. I've been doing puzzles since I was 14 so the Lae, Bireme, Desex, Twp, Seracs, were all familiar. In fact I lived in a Township before moving West. As far as I'm concerned it takes genius to do what you do. Again, thanks.

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Ancy merina 2:56 AM  
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