Panglossian person / FRI 3-2-12 / Beau geste headgear / Hmong homeland / Longtime Russian acronym / Exeter exclamation / Polynesian farewell song / Second-largest city in Finland / Sax All Night New Ager

Friday, March 2, 2012

Constructor: Scott Atkinson

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: NONCONTIGUOUS (63A: How this puzzle's black squares are arranged

Word of the Day: "KATIE BAR THE DOOR!" (1D: "Take cover!") —
The phrase Katy bar the door! (also as Katy bar the gate!; sometimes written as Katie) is a very American exclamation, more common in the South than elsewhere, meaning that disaster impends — “watch out”, “get ready for trouble” or “a desperate situation is at hand”. (—full explanation of the phrase's origins here).
• • •

Not really in my wheelhouse, but pretty easy nonetheless. NON-CONTIGUOUSLY isn't so much a "theme" as it is a fleeting "hey, look at that" moment, but it's still interesting. I thought that SPIRAL STAIRCASE clue was recycled (10D: Round-trip flight?), but now I think I'm simply thinking of the following factoid, which I just found on wikipedia: "[Will Shortz] has declared that his favorite crossword clue of all-time is "It might turn into a different story" (whose solution is SPIRAL STAIRCASE)" (wikipedia). The problem with the special black square arrangement is how much short stuff it gets you. I'll take a mess of 6- to 9-letter words over a group of interlocking 15s and a boatload of 3- to 4s any day of the week. And REAIM, ouch (47A: Adjust one's sights). Still, the puzzle was enjoyable enough.

Found the top much, much harder than the rest. Had no idea who was barring the door until I got it narrowed down to -ATIE. Good thing that makes only one real name, since KIM (1A: The miss in "Miss Saigon") was a total mystery to me, and MIRA (3D: Star in Cetus) wasn't much better (that's three interlocking proper nouns I was not-at-all sure of ... but educated guesses got me through, so I can't complain). Stuff like "Beau Geste" and "The Producers" isn't really in my ken, so I was thinking PITH (helmet) at first instead of KEPI (7D: "Beau Geste" headgear) and I had no idea about GHIA (Carmen GHIA's a kind of car, right?) (18A: Carmen ___ ("The Producers" role). SCI. is really strangely clued as a [Grade school subj.]. It's also a [Grad school subj.] and a [High school subj.] ... why "Grade school?" Unpleasant, unclever misdirection. I read "Candide" so I know who Pangloss is, but I still had trouble with ETERNAL OPTIMIST (esp. the ETERNAL part) (16A: Panglossian person). Confused lie and lay and so ended up with SITS ON instead of SETS ON at first (49A: Lays atop). But none of these snags were anything but minor. Of course I was lucky enough to remember ESPOO from prior crosswords (w/o said crosswords, I would never ever have heard of that place) (48D: Second-largest city in Finland).
  • 4A: Burger go-withs (SHAKES) — I've ordered a shake with a burger maybe once or twice in my life. Even at my fast-food-eatingest, that would've been overkill for me.
  • 13A: Dishes fit for astronomers? (RADIO TELESCOPES) — again, not up my alley. I've heard of these, but couldn't picture them. I assume they are dish-shaped.
  • 36A: South Asian chant word (KRISHNA) — Currently (slowly) reading the Bhagavad Gita, in which KRISHNA figures prominently.
  • 6D: Polynesian farewell song ("ALOHA OE") — I know this song only from cartoon caricatures of Hawaiian singing in '70s (or earlier) cartoons.
  • 27D: "Sax All Night" New Ager (TESH) — The final piece in his Sax Trilogy (following hot on the heels of "Oral Sax" and "Sax Offender") 

  • 62D: Apollo's chariot "passenger" (SUN) — wrote this in instantly, but then didn't like the looks of the "GUO" string it created ... until I got NON-CONTIGUOUSLY, and then all was good again.
  • 42D: Pre-stunt provocation ("TOP THIS!") — clearly not understanding whose stunt the "pre-" was in relation to (the darer or the daree), I wrote in "TOP THAT!"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


r.alphbunker 12:04 AM  

There were two Vietnamese clues in the puzzle. One was a gimme TET, the other, KIM, I Googled.

I had considered KIM but it seemed too American. The four answers that I was stuck on at the end, KATIE.., KIM, MIRA and SINAI all required knowledge that I was not confident about. Had I been confident about one of them I am sure that the other three would have fallen which is what happened once Google told me that KIM was right.

My high school English teacher, Mr Gauthier, would ask us to describe a spiral staircase without moving our hands.

jae 12:08 AM  

At the risk of being tedious, easy-medium again for me. East was on the easy side while the west was a bit tougher.

Zippiest answer was KATIEBARTHEDOOR.

Did a reright when I erased SKITS to put in ANTSY and then had to put it back.

Learned to spell ALOHAOE from crosswords.

Not exactly a METTLE tester but a solid Fri.  Even some of the threes were pretty good...LOO, KIM, the clue for TEE, rap duo...

foodie 12:12 AM  

Agree with Easy Medium Rating.

Can't believe I have a daughter named KATIE and I've never heard of this expression. At one point, I had mATIE!

I liked seeing RADIO TELESCOPES on top of ETERNAL OPTIMIST... they're trying to discover something amazing about the universe.

SCI is also my (old age) subject.

I skip M-W 12:18 AM  

@REX, I disagree about Sci(ence) as a subject. In grade school it is one, all by itself. In high school, there's biology, physics , chemistry, and maybe general science, but not just science, and certainly not the latter in graduate school. E.g.."science book" and "science test" connote grade school only.
And yes, radio telescopes are usually dishes, rather like large radar dishes.
Pretty nice puzzle, I thought, despite the need to guess third letter of Kim, and no idea about Tesh until I had T_sh from crosses. had discontinuously at first. The "six numbers" stumped me for a bit. Had to get Espoo from crosses, doesn't sound very Finnish to me.

travis 12:25 AM  

Hmm, I never had a 'Science' class past maybe 6th grade. Biology, Chemistry, Physics. Sure. But a vague general Science class is purely a grade school phenomenon.

Kristin 12:29 AM  

Had BEETHOVEN SONATA instead of MOONLIGHT SONATA...and I thought KRISHNA was KUMBAYA..wrong continent...

Don Byas 12:30 AM  

Confidently wrote LEA for 1a. "Miss Saigon" – Lea Salonga.

Fast Friday, despite GHIA and ESPOO, an easy one to finnish.

Tobias Duncan 12:32 AM  

When I was a kid I was fascinated by the the VLA (very large array) a group of 17 radio telescopes that were being put together in the southern part of my state.I got my parents to drive way out of their way so I could see it for myself. A very nice man gave us an impromptu tour.
For years when they would show it on PBS my heart would swell with pride for New Mexico. And was over the moon when my hero Carl Sagan would talk about it.

pk 1:16 AM  

Miss Saigon was one of the worst Broadway musicals ever produced. That has nothing to do with anything, except that Shogun The Musical was even worse, and I do long for our old friend Greene, as someone mentioned recently.

This puzz was much easier than yesterday's Disasteroid. Damn that Kepi, tho, I can never remember it.

Being the eternal optimist that I am, I really loved seeing Moonlight Sonata in the puzz, but struggled with the "uou" in non contiguouosly. Just a spelling thing, not a meaning thing.

pk 1:18 AM  

The new captcha thingy is a royal pain in the ass.

Rube 1:26 AM  

Hand up for having to guess the KIM/MIRA crossing. I think of Kim as being Korean, but, whatever works. Oherwise, any Friday I can finish without Googles has to be at least Easy-Medium.

Maybe if I write aural and OTIC in this comment I will remember them next time. (Had OrIC at first.)

KEPI is one of those words that when you put it down without thinking you then realize that you've been doing too many crosswords.

Never thought of KRISHNA as a chant... an avatar of Vishnu and the author of the Bhagavad Gita, yes, but... oh well, I'll believe you.

My only complaint is BITER. I was thinking more along the lines of "junk yard dog"... BITER, really!

I've seen TESH in xwords before referred to as "New ager". Is this something such that when I see "New ager" I should immediately think TESH? I've no idea what a "New ager" is. It's certainly not me!

treedweller 2:31 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 2:41 AM  

According to this noncontiguous theme has been done before.

Alohaoe Cran-la Mettles 3:17 AM  

Identical ending as @rex...never heard of ?ATIE BARTHEDOOR, so educated guess on that KIM and MIRA.

I''m always in shock when they have those clues that say "see 32A" and the other says the same with barely a clue
(like the other day with PERON/PRES) and I get it.

This one seemed easy, 'cept for 1A, i only knew the actress name, LEA, not the role.
Oh, and i wanted it to be TESTSONES METAL which is ripe for a ? Type clue about metallurgists, or whatever they are called.

Used to think Karman Ghia's were the cutest cars, after Miatas. Did not know the Producers ref.

Deb 4:24 AM  

First off, I'm uber impressed that you're reading the Bhagavad Vita, Rex. Slowly or otherwise.

Second, I was pickled tink to see KATIE BAR THE DOOR finally emerge when I guessed it with just the D and succeeding R after a quick first run-through. I have no idea why I know the expression, but I do and it's very familiar and there's just something about it I like. Maybe simply because "Katie! Bar the door!" sounds so quaint/comforting re staving off disaster.

@r.alphbunker, I love Mr. Gauthier's exercise! I tried it myself as soon as I read the comment and found it devilishly difficult. My hands typically fly around like rabid butterflies when I talk , so my main difficulty was not in lack of words but lack of restraint. It was just really hard to resist using my hands, and that leads me to think about such constructs in whole new ways.

@Rube, Ha! on the KEPI comment, though I always first think KEfI. Also, if you see the term "new ager" in a clue, you can usually bank on either TESH or enya. If you were to ask me to name another new age musician, I'd be stumped.

@Tobias, fun trivia on the VLA. The pics look like it might've been one of the locations for the movie "Contact." BTW, what IS it about NM and sci-fi stuff? Steven King's trip through there made me want to bypass it for all eternity! (Teasing; I really do find parts of NM as enchanting as the license plates promise.)

High five @Andrea for fondly remembering Karmann Ghias! My first two cars were VW bugs, and I really did love driving them. I may have lagged behind everyone on the mountain climbs in the summer, but I was the ONLY one getting anywhere I wanted to go when the snow fell.

The puzzle? Pfft. I hated it. Because I don't have a lot of talents, but I've always considered myself a top-notch speller. Until it took me a full minute to find my error with CONTIGiOUS. Awww, man. And it didn't help that it seemed a helluva lot more likely that a person could hold SiN than the SUN. The SUN is freakin' hot, yo!

chefwen 4:31 AM  

Aloha oe, aloha oe.Farewell to Thee, Farewell to Thee.

Another tough one for me. At 13A I was searching for something an astronaut would eat or what it may be served on. RADIO TELESCOPES was the farthest thing from my mind.

Thought I was very clever by filling overate at 38A. wrong! But it self corrected.

Thanks Uncle Google for your assistance.

r.alphbunker 5:01 AM  

My first car was a 1968 ecru VW bug that I bought new for $1729. @Tita will be glad to know that I got it up to the maximum speed once which I recall was 90mph.

I got a ride in the new VW bug and it felt completely different inside. So roomy and quiet.

Gareth Bain 5:23 AM  

Of course a pith helmet is also known as a TOPI...

dk 5:30 AM  

Tobias, took my son on the nerd tour of NM that included the VLA. We got the same impromptu tour. Very very cool.

r.alphbunker, would Mr. G. accept DNA.

Never heard of 1D. Had it from the crosses but still had the geezer stare.

Sigh another electronic solve. This time it is a result of falling asleep at 9 waking at 4.

I like this puzzle. Solved it in 33 minutes which is lightning fast for my Friday xings.

*** (3 stars) TGIF

Rex, cooking with POO has milk running out my nose. Perhaps a doughnut is in order.

Anonymous 7:36 AM  

@pk You referenced Greene. You are right, I haven't seen his posts in a while. Is something wrong?

AnnieD 7:40 AM  

Nice Friday puzz for me...a bit on the easy side. But very enjoyable. Lots of fresh clues and answers which made it fun. And I always enjoy it when the long answers fall into place. Katie --- the door...hit the door? get the door? Took awhile to remember BAR. Also it's apparently a song:

Also first wrote in OVERATE for FEASTED.

Z 7:46 AM  

Easy except for the Sierra Nevadas, which just killed me, so a DNF.

Having lIRA (misspelling the constellation Lyra I now know) at 3D, having never seen Miss Saigon, and being totally unfamiliar with KATIE BAR THE DOOR, made it pert near impossible to parse -ATIEB---.

I also had a hard time seeing KRISHNA because my fruit prefix was CRAb. PLUS, the pluralizing of IDENTIFICATIONS made me question every letter below the first T.

Also, disappointed again that 27D was not clued as "holographic Klingon actor."

SethG 7:47 AM  

I'm okay with shorter stuff to allow for the longer stuff, I just wish that stuff's cluing had been harder.

Glimmerglass 7:56 AM  

KATIE BAR THE DOOR may once have been an exclamation, but now it's used to describe a situation: "We were okay for a while, but then the glass broke and it was Katie bar the door!"

Leslie 8:08 AM  

Holy COW, I'm impressed with all of you who thought this was Easy-Medium. I didn't even finish.

Anonymous 8:10 AM  

Just to give credit where credit is due:

"It turns into another story" (for SPIRAL STAIRCASE) may be Will's favorite clue, but he didn't write it. The author always seems to get left out of these things (which may not be Will's fault, since reporters often write what they want). That clue appeared in a NYT puzzle by Martin Ashwood-Smith.

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

60D. 6 letters = MNO? I don't get it? Please help me.

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

Not that it was that hard, but how does "let go" = "can"?

"let go" can equal "allow", but "can" is from the person's viewpoint who was "let go".

orangeblossompecial 8:30 AM  

I also don't understand MNO as a response to 6 letters.

Too many Yankees working this blog if KATIE BAR THE DOOR is considered a Southern expression. I've heard it all my life, but I was raised in the South.

Rexie needs to get out more if he's never heard of ALOHA OE. Try going to Hawai'i sometime without hearing that song. Can't be done. It is one of the few songs composed by a queen - Lili'uokalani - before the land-grabbing Americans took over Hawai'i. You can find a version online by Alfred Apaka or Elvis, I'm sure.

Sue McC 8:32 AM  

MNO on 6 on your telephone.

This was a challenge for me...I enjoyed it. I love seeing those long answers line up. But Rex is right, it does make for lots of short answers that can get nasty. Another OREO. Perhaps it should become a crossword solver drinking game.

chefbea 8:38 AM  

@anon think telephone

Never heard of Katie bar the door. Been here in NC for two years and no one that I know has ever said it.

Knew shakes right away...Growing up in St. Louis we had Steak 'n shake. Great burgers and wonderful shakes.

evil doug 8:49 AM  

Another example of a creator's ego getting in the way. Not a horrible puzzle, but the non-contiguous square trick (big effing deal) made it too easy for Friday. Had to do an alphabet run in the 3-box--only 'm' made sense. The rest of it was read 'n' write.

Those phone-button answers don't work if you use a Blackberry. Same with trying to dial a number with 'memorable' words instead of numbers (like "1-888-PNCBANK"); a couple of times I've had to go to the web to pull up a picture of a phone keypad.

Love the Karmann Ghia. A VW with an Italian-designed body hiding its little air-cooled engine. I learned to drive on my parent's '59 Beetle: No radio, no gas gauge (a little manually dumped reserve tank good for 30 miles or so---you had to keep track of your miles in a notebook and refuel around 200), and the battery under the back seat. I like to think I drive a direct descendant of the KG cabriolet---a fun little hardtop-convertible EOS. That's amore!

I remember those days when the Krishnas populated every airport and hassled passengers. I think that was ended by a Supreme Court ruling in 1999. Loved the scene in "Airplane" when the pilot entered the terminal and wailed on all the would-be religious pests.


evil doug 8:55 AM  

Sue McC, and other Oreo haters:

"Another OREO."

It's going to get worse before it gets better: Tuesday is Oreo's 100th birthday. I'm thinking of moving to Iran for a few weeks until things calm down....

The Shake Shack is a wildly popular burger stand in NYC.


John V 9:18 AM  

Medium for me. Finished with one error, KIL for 1A, thinking LIRA for 3D. Otherwise all okay. Had to stare at 14D for about an eternity to see cat o nine tails; initially thought MARSH. Esp liked SPIRALSTAIRCASE. Like @Rex, top much more difficult, esp 1d, 2d.

S'bout it.

John V 9:19 AM  

Oh, FWIW, I find the new capcha is easier to read in Chrome browser that Internet Explorer.

jackj 9:21 AM  

Forget Sudoku, KenKen and Numberplay, we now know the new crossword twist being touted by Will Shortz is aptly titled CruciverbalArt!

The 13 letter clue puzzle by Randall Hartman kicked it off with a regimented, Orwellian picture reminiscent of M. C. Escher's best and, now, with Scott Atkinson’s carefully placed black squares creating an image worthy of a Jackson Pollock drip painting, Will has ratcheted up his unique visual feast for the wordie crowd.

Continuing the conceit, the Saturday puzzle seems likely to be a toss-up choice between a riotous Salvador Daliesque grid courtesy of Liz Gorski or a paint-by-the-numbers recreation of a Picasso portrait of Dora Maar, with the irrepressible Pete Collins wielding the palette. We’ll know soon enough.

In any event, today’s puzzle was less about the black square placements and more about being treated to some excellent 15’s, not the least of which was the first up, KATIEBARTHEDOOR.

A dash of crosswordese, STA, KEPI, TEE, OREO, combined with a whole lot of imagination, ALOHAOE, KRISHNA, THA, ONINE and 7 more quality 15’s made for a banner Friday.

Welcome back, Scott. Please don’t be a stranger!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:34 AM  

@anonymous, 8:24 - Re: "let go" = "can" - To fire someone from a job is to let him go. To fire someone, in slang, is to can him.

David 9:41 AM  

The first letter in the puzzle was the last one filled in - never heard of KATIE BAR THE DOOR, but I love it, as a phrase and as a grid-spanner. Easy-Medium for me too, haven't we had both MOONLIGHT SONATA and SPIRAL STAIRCASE not too long ago?

Big fan of ALOHA OE, KRISHNA, and liked the clue for SINAI - otherwise, yeah, looking back there is quite a bit of 3-4 letter fill, and much of it was fairly easy.

Howard B 9:42 AM  

I am just very curious about this "Katie bar the door!" phrase. I have seen it appear in puzzles 2 or 3 times (including this one), but I have never heard or encountered it anywhere else. It seems that some people are very familiar with it and know the nuances in which it is used.

So I was wondering if this is a phrase that is limited to geographic region or time, or is it simply one of my knowledge gaps that I can drive a rather large SUV through?
Colorful phrase though, I like it.

Happy solving, all.

jesser 9:49 AM  

Like my pal Tobias, I thought of the VLA and plopped down RADar TELESCOPES, and because I know not from stars, MaRA looked fine. I was mystified by rNINE, but decided it could work. Somehow. On an acid trip maybe. Seeing the actual answer is titillating if you're into that sort of thing.

Back in 1979, when I was still deluding myself about a vast number of things, I dated a girl whose Dad ran a ranch near Reserve, so I've driven by the VLA dozens of times, but have never stopped for a tour, impromptu or otherwise. There's currently a movement underway to rename that facility. I nominate MARA R-NINE. Why not?

Otherwise, I loved the puzzle. The west side seemed way harder than the east, and the south easier than the north.

Back when I was in college the first time, the NMSU Philosophy Department employed a man by the name of Dr. (I can see him in my head, but his name eludes me) who taught comparative religion courses. I took all of them. I still have a copy of 'The Religions of Man,' by John Noss (I think). The Krishnas were fascinating with all their gods, and the Bhagavad Gita is the most colorful book of scripture Ever. Enjoy the read, Rex!

It's Friday. Yay!

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

Anonymous 8:12 AM: Just so you won't feel alone. I also went blank on 60D "6 letters," (MNO), even though I had it by default and have caught those telephone dial clues several times before. But this time, when Sue McC took the trouble to explain it to you, it was a real head slapper for me. Ouch!

Jp 9:57 AM  

Pretty amazing for me that I solved practically the entire puzzle without recourse to Google. 4x15 across answers interlocking with 4x15 down answers is mind-boggling from a constructor's point of view. Got all the long answers systematically. First were TEST ONE'S METTLE, and SPIRAL STAIRCASE. Then came ETERNAL OPTIMIST, MOONLIGHT SONATA and NON-CONTIGUOUSLY. Needed to google for KIM and MIRA but I had no idea what KATIE BAR THE DOOR is. Had SITS ON and did not know DIY. Can anyone explain what is DIY.
Anyway a lot of fun when I can solve that much on Fridays.

Sir Hillary 10:03 AM  

Trouble with this one was, the only way to start was with the choppy short stuff. A few easy ones got me going (knew ESPOO from my days working with Nokia) but I couldn't get into any geographic flow. So it wasn't much fun early on. I also shot myself in the foot with a very self-satisfied BEETHOVENS*I*TH at 60A.

Once the other fifteens came into view, it was a breeze. The sevens abutting the central square are nice fill. Cluing was not very interesting or hard, although I smiled at the 45A clue. Clue at 60D had me baffled until I got to this blog, but in hindisght it was a good one. Don't like the self-referential fifteen at 63A, but the rest were fine.

Ended up enjoying this one more than I thought I would.

chefbea 10:08 AM  

@jp do it yourself

No BS 10:16 AM  

DIY is acronym for do it yourself.

dk 10:16 AM  

@evil doug, first car was a 55 VW Bug followed by a 60's something Karmin Ghia and then my favorite a 70's something type 2 (little station wagon). The bug had flippers for turn signals.

Two Ponies 10:33 AM  

Fun and easy for this solver.
Cooking with Poo? Wow.
I guess the only city in Finland I know is Helsinki. Crosses got it.
Panglossian was new to me. Sounds like a person that can speak every language.
I've owned 8 VW's in my life. If you dream of owning one again (as I do) check out

Loren Muse Smith 10:38 AM  

@MatthewG, Tita, and R.alph- really interesting about how we solve. I almost never start with 1A. I cruise the grid looking for low hanging fruit (I LOVE that. Maybe it’s used here a lot and since I’m a fledgling just haven’t seen it. Definitely should be added to this blog’s Rexicon). Today my fruits were HOYA (1982. Freshman Michael Jordan. Shot heard “round the world. Go Heels) and REFI, which quickly revealed Evil’s beloved OREO. I had “Kotka” for ESPOO; I always fall for that! Yeah right.

@SueMcC – I laughed out loud at your suggestion that we make it into some kind of drinking game! I guess it’d have to be with milk, though.

@jae – this is getting creepy; I erased SKITS to fit in “antsy,” too!

@Rube. Too true about KEPI (and Ural, which always makes me wonder vaguely if I need to get other hobbies).

My sisters and I used to make up lead in phrases to “famous last words” like “Look, Mom! No hands!” or “Do I smell smoke?” 42D could work for that. Brings to mind that book about the Darwin awards.

I, too, had never heard 1D, but Dad had, so we were good there. I’m trying to convince him that he CAN do the NYT and showed him this blog and all the comments. Maybe you’ll be hearing from Oren Muse soon.

Perfect puzzle for a Friday. Loved it.

so fla solver 11:05 AM  

I was going to say "non-contiguous" was incorrect, as mathematicians and computer scientists often use the term "discontiguous", but the latter was not found on Not sure if it is in an unabridged dictionary.

retired_chemist 11:24 AM  

Agree SCI is clued best as grade school. No misdirection there.

Two errors (KIM/MIRA, TOSH for TESH). Otherwise a fast solve and quite enjoyable.

I have seen the expression KATY BAR THE DOOR - no prob with KATIE. Maybe a regional difference.

Thanks, Mr. Atkinson.

jae 11:25 AM  

Re: KATIEBARTHEDOOR. I've heard Letterman use the phrase occasionally. Actually, that may be the only reason it was familiar. I'm not sure I've heard it anywhere else.

Matthew G. 11:33 AM  

I have heard KATIE BAR THE DOOR a few times, and I've always perceived it to be a pretty rural expression, if not necessarily Southern. But I've always heard it used the way Glimmerglass describes--as a way of marveling at a chaotic situation in the future or past--not as a way to say "Take cover!" with respect to a present event. Nevertheless, once I had about half the crosses I had no difficulty filling it in.

Liked the puzzle quite a bit. Finished with one very stupid mistake: NONCONTInUOUSLY. Didn't even bother to look at the word crossing that erroneous "N," let alone its clue. Darn it. Ah, well -- it's an outcome I must accept in this best of all possible worlds.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Did really well for a Friday. Got 95% w/o looking...had to look up 1A...KIM and that got me KATIEBARTHEDOOR...With 26A had three letters...BIT...added CH and realized that was wrong.

John V 11:36 AM  

@ Matthew G: Great stealth Candide reference!

Ulrich 11:41 AM  

Putting in the K at 1A was the last square I filled--one of the things I learned in this puzzle, next to Mira, o'nine, and what SCTV is. Slowed me down quite a bit, and I must confess that after each guess, I confirmed it with Mr. Google--otherwise, I would still be scratching my head, I think.

And not to put a wet blanket on all you Karman Ghia fans: They were known in 50's Germany as "Nuttenporsches" (hookers' Porsches) b/c they were fancied by the classier ladies who did not walk the streets, but drove around in, well, Nuttenporsches.

Miette 11:58 AM  

@evil doug: I used to have the same trouble with my Blackberry. I solved that by creating a document that I then saved as "Alpha-Numeric Equivalents". When I need to know what number to use for a letter in a phone number I just bring up that document (stored) on my BB.

Tita 12:00 PM  

Liked it! Even tho a DNF.
Jumped around the grid, happy to be handed all those easy ones...
It seemed to fall right into my astronomy & car wheelhouses (garages?)
The redirect at 25D - Things worked under in a garage - I used to do lots of that with my old British rustbuckets (no XKEs, alas), and the clever pairing with 46D Things worked on in..., STP - very automotive-friendly grid.

Yet another Portuguese word and place made 53A REI a gimme.
@Tobias...ditto for your feelings about radio arrays and Carl Sagan! (Tho I didn't know MIRA)

@Acme - Run, don't walk, to your nearest computer and see Zero Mostel/Gene Wilder in "The Producers"!

@r.alph & @Deb... My mom may ask you the first time she meets you to describe "curlers". If you do so without using your hands, you're in!

@Matthew G...I have some animations of comparative solves for r.alph, me, and puzzle friend...send me an email at tereza--treacy-net if you are interested. This is how we compare our solves once we're all done. (anyone else too)

Mel Ott 12:01 PM  

Favorite wrong answer: 26A BITCH. I know we usually think of a mean cur as a male, but I still like my answer better.

Re SCI: Note that in college some of the courses get even more specific: Nuclear Physics, Organic Chemistry, etc.

John V 12:03 PM  

@Ulrich re: Nuttenporsches, thanks for today's autonym! Fun word!

Ulrich 12:15 PM  

@JohnV: autonym--another word I learned today:)

r.alphbunker 12:29 PM  

Great post! I had a Karmann Ghia once but by the time I got it it was rather frumpy.

@Loren I too go for the low hanging fruit but pace myself so I can have something to look forward to. The program I use has a Tab key that moves to the next incomplete answer which has not been visited yet using the Tab key. When I find a low hanging fruit I plant it and see what comes up. When it stops producing I hit the Tab key in hopes of finding the next fruit.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

RADIOTELESCOPES was my first entry, but I am a techie.
I'd heard KATIEBARTHEDOOR before from my father who was wikkid smott and born in the 20's.
Can't get enough of 15-letter words, only slightly put off by 14-letters w/ an S on the end.
Last letter entered was the M in

Evan 12:45 PM  

I started this puzzle very slowly, and with a big fat mistake with ONIONS at 6-Across. But once I convinced myself that Hagar's wife was unlikely to be named NELGA, I suddenly started blazing through the rest of the grid. And like several others, educated guesses at the KIM/MIRA/KATIE BAR THE DOOR crossings gave me a perfect grid. I've never heard of the latter phrase, but I'm-a start using it from now on, even in situations where there's no immediate danger.

One thing I've learned about grids: Whenever you have a square that requires a lucky guess (usually because it's two proper nouns or relatively obscure answers crossing one another), the puzzlemaker will almost always fill it with the most uncommon, Scrabbliest letter available to them. I knew KIM and MIRA were legit names, and I figured that 1-Down was calling for a name because MATIE would be misspelled. So that was the extent of my educated guesses at that section -- which is to say, mostly lucky.

I'm eagerly awaiting the day that John TESH will be clued in a crossword puzzle as "Guy who wrote the NBA on NBC theme." It's true!

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

@evil doug: blackberry dialing handicapped me as well, then I upgraded to BB Torch model. Keyboard slides shut and phone dial appears on touch-screen, ABCs and all...

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

@Rex - You should go to a Steak 'n Shake for your hamburger (they call it a steakburger) and shake. The nearest to you is in the city at:

Steak 'n Shake Signature
1695 Broadway
New York City, NY 10019

I'm on a diet, otherwise I would join you....


treedweller 1:32 PM  

I knew this would get a rating on the easy side, but I still feel good about a weekend finish sans google. Like so many, I guessed the M in KIM. I learned in college that the biggest RADIO TELESCOPES comprise a large number of dishes in an array.

VWs have come a long way. My TDI Golf has a perfectly functional fuel gauge now, but when it wasn't working well I kept track of mileage (with the convenient, in-dash, trip odometer), per @evil, and filled up when I started getting close to 600 miles (but no backup tank anymore). I bought it used, but there is no indication that it was ever used by hookers.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

My first car was a bright red 1964 VW Beetle which cost $1800. When I drove it from Chicago to San Antonio to report to Lackland AFB for training, it slowed going up hills and made up for it going down hills. Driving along the Oklahoma turnpike I was going over 80 to see how fast I could go (normally it had a top speed of 60-65 but I caught a strong tail wind in Oklahoma) and almost went airborne before I slowed down (this was before seatbelts). It died on me in an intersection in San Antonio because of some electrical problem. Later when I drove from Whiteman AFB in Knob Noster, Missouri to Chicago it died on me because the valves burned out (turns out the German engineering set the valves to close originally). Otherwise it served me well for three years and when I left the AF, I sold it to an airman for $600. Within a few months he ran it into a ditch and totaled it. Very sad! Years later I purchased a VW Rabbit based on the rave reviews in Consumers Report. That car, again over-engineered, had so many problems that within two years CR took it off its recommended list. Eventually, before 30,000 miles, my brakes failed unexpectedly and the floor rusted out. VW discontinued it but after a safe period of time replaced it with the Golf. I have told my wife to commit me if I ever buy another VW.

Lewis 2:00 PM  

Never having heard KATIEBARTHEDOOR made the left coast tough for me. The rest of the puzzle was relatively smooth, and I loved unveiling the 15s.

Anonymous 2:18 PM  

Mira is a well-known star. It is a red giant orbited by a smaller star, causing it to apparently change its magnitude (or brightness0

Deb 2:38 PM  

@Anonymous 1:32, your almost "airborne" VW reminded me of another wonderful thing about the old bugs. Circa 1979, I was driving a couple of drunken friends home in my second VW, a 1972 Super Beetle, on a snowy night down country roads I was unfamiliar with. One of the girls I was driving home was a real joker, and when I was approaching an intersection she said "Turn left here." Then, immediately, "No, no! Go straight!" So, I gunned it and went straight... but the road ended. That bug FLEW probably seventy-five feet through the air and landed in the middle of a field. Had I been driving any other car than one with the engine in the rear, I doubt we would have survived it, but as it was the car came down rear-wheels first and we walked away.

Bird 2:39 PM  

What a great puzzle. Just enough difficulty, for me anyway, to put a smile on my face each time I got a long answer. DNF though because I never heard of 1D or 44A and had SiTSON for 49A. Resorted to IMDB for 1A and Google for 44A.

Nice clue for 60D. I resisted looking at the phone on my desk and waited for a cross.

After dinner last night I was checking the latest comments using my iPod Touch (Safari app) and noticed a “Reply” link attached to the bottom of each post. I didn’t try it, but was curious why there is no link when browsing with IE on my laptop.


Royalhassel 2:42 PM  

Thx for being there to verify, and often rectify, my crossword work. As a foreigner, I pride myself by being up to Friday/Saturday levels although stuff like Katiebarthedoor still leaves me stumped...

Gene 3:02 PM  

Glad to see a few people spelled "Karmann" Ghia correctly. No problem with KATIE...; the expression was familiar, and, as an astronomy buff, MIRA was easy. But it wasn't until I read it here that I figured out MNO! Also had BITCH for too long, so ONINE and CRAN were my last fill.

mac 3:09 PM  

Nice Friday puzzle! Some gimmes, some "never heard of" (that's you, Katie).

I had a rabbit, in fact my first car in the US, which ran on and on and on without a problem for at least 12 years. Then I had a bright red GTI 16V when we lived in Hamburg. Great car. Lately friends have been complaning about their VW's, though.

Are the far NW and SE black squares cheater squares? I'm never quite sure about that.

lawprof 3:20 PM  

At first I had ALOHA OY; then it occurred to me that Princess Lili'uokalani probably wan't Jewish.

skua76 3:27 PM  

I bought a new VW bus in 1974, had it for 19 years until it got too old in the tooth. Used to be able to fit all my belongings into it. It was much more powerful than the earlier ones, but that wind resistance was the tradeoff, VERY slow going uphill into the wind.

@mac, IMHO those two corners are cheater squares, probably the only way he could stack those 15s.

I actually thought I was finished but when I came here to check I'd left the SW corner blank. Never saw the MNO...somehow I thought 64A would be dRS. AARGH, everything else was good, even my KIM/MIRA guess.

Anonymous 3:58 PM  

Didn't Keith Jackson or one of those football guys often use the phrase "Katie bar the door"?

sanfranman59 3:59 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 19:47, 25:09, 0.78, 15%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 9:53, 12:27, 0.79, 19%, Easy

John V 4:35 PM  

@mac: Those are cheaters. A cheater is a black square that doesn't affect a grid's word count. If you removed NW/SE black squares, the word count would be unchanged, but those down slots would be five letters, harder to fill than four, which is why I suppose Scott put them in.

Evel Knevel 4:57 PM  

TOPTHAT is the only valid pre-stunt provocation. If you're saying TOPTHIS prior to doing your stunt, you haven't left room for your falling flat on your face. Thus, it's either not a stunt (having very litte echance of failure), or you're an arrogant SOB. It's only after you've completed a stunt that you can dare the fool behind you to TOPTHAT!

Z 5:10 PM  

Had a Rabbit Diesel for several years in the 80's. 60 MPG more than made up for the short comings, like once being blown off the road by a large pick-up while driving on a rural road in a snow storm.

@Evan - How about "Klingon who wrote the NBA on NBC theme."

Anonymous 5:11 PM  

my first car was a . . . who cares?

Sparky 5:14 PM  

Missed KIM,SINAI and NCAA. Thus missed KATIE too. Misread cur as cut. The font often confuses. Managed the rest though it took a while.

What a trip down memory lane. We went driving around New England on our honeymoon trip in our grey beetle. Alas, it was stolen when we came home with all my L. L. Bean purchases in the hood.

Went to see The Doors at Fillmore East when they were still fairly new and very hot. The opening act, a folk singer, sang Katie Bar The Door. Naturally, the whole audience would scream The Doors! The Doors! each time he hit tha line. Whatever possessed him I will never know.

Onward to the weekend.

Mimi 5:30 PM  

Can anyone explain why TEE is the answer to 66A?

Bird 5:30 PM  

I'm in the wrong blog;) My first car was a '78 Honda Accord hatchback. It was in this car that I learned to drive stick. My next 2 cars were also sticks: '89 Nissan Sentra and a '94 Ford Probe GT. The Ford was the best of the lot -fun to drive, kick-ass sound system and a moonroof. I once got stopped for doing 92 mph on the Taconic Pkwy, but since the officer failed to appear in court the ticket was dismissed. But then my family got bigger so I needed a 4-door sedan and purchased a '99 Chrysler LHS. Beautiful car it was.

They need to clean the heads on the typebars so we can better see the captchas.

DigitalDan 5:31 PM  

Kim may have been the Americanized name of the dance hall girl (shall we say) protagonist. Or maybe not.

I wonder how many people have "walked the dish" on the Stanford University campus without knowing that the odd object at the end of the two-mile trail is a relatively famous radio telescope?

Anonymous 5:32 PM  

@Mimi - TEE is short for T-Shirt. A "few" years back there was a famous t-shirt that had an arrow and said "I'm with stupid".

Mimi 6:03 PM  

Thank you. How obscure.

Jackie 6:11 PM  

Like Rex, my only knowledge of ALOHA OE comes from 70s cartoons, where invariably upon the mention of any kind of exotic trip the main character appears in a grass skirt and lei, strumming a ukulele.

With my mind thus steeped in Asian-Pacific stereotypes, I figured the name of Miss Saigon had to be LIL. I guess I was thinking of Rod Stewart's Shanghai Lil who never used the pill. *sigh*

Mighty Nisden 7:19 PM  

Liked this one if only because I only used master google a few times.
Dang that MNO, I always forget to think of the phone on those!

Have a good weekend all, hope the weather is not as nasty as it has been.

Anonymous 7:29 PM  

@Deb - That Anon at 1:32 was me and I forgot to add my moniker but suspect you would not have posted if I had. You are one lucky dude!

I later owned a Honda Accord, which like my VW was stick shift. I love a stick shift. That's what I learned to drive on -- a 1941 Plymouth, just a great car. But a stick shift has its shortcomings. I had to teach my bride to drive the Beetle and that was the beginning of our 47 years of arguments (next year will be our 48th). Many years later I had to teach my son to drive the Honda. We lived in Bethesda, MD on a street off of Bradley, a major road through that community. My son hadn't mastered the coordination needed for easing off the clutch and pressing the gas pedal, so as he was making a left turn onto Bradley a car was coming. He, being a great athlete with a lot of natural coordination, gunned that sucker, but fortunately not enough to roll it. We made it without incident, including a heart attack on my part, and at a nearby school I "suggested" we turn in there where we continued his lesson in the empty parking lot....


Anonymous 8:03 PM  

What'with the shaded answers in solved puzzles? I apologize in advance if this is a stoopid question.

Acme 8:23 PM  

@two ponies,
You are exactly right about the derivation of Dr. pangloss name in Candide...but google the derivation and you can see its a mix of all languages, ie learned, and all tongue, ie speaks without thinking...he is the guy who kept saying everything, even horrible stuff is there for a reason.

I have seen the Producers, i just didn't remember the joke/pun on Carmen Ghia's name...nor how to spell Karmann Ghia the car, which seems to have triggered a lot of fond memories, which is a nice afterglow from a puzzle!

Your dad is Oren and you are Loren!?!? Is your mom Elle? He MUST. Do crosswords, his name is but One Single letter from OREO!!

Speaking of which, since it IS the 100th bday, according to @ed, there should be a TUesday puzzle where every other NONCONTIGUOUS word is OREO and have each one defined differently!
If i had even less of a life than I already do these days, I'd get right on it.

@sir hillary
You knew ESPOO from working at Nokia???!!?
That's what I love about this blog, how freakin' different we all are!
(Why I miss @Greene too but I think he felt underappreciated here, to say the least...)

My friend MZ ordered a SHAKE today with his cheeseburger...we were eating at a diner overlooking the ocean. I started to tell him about this blog and i have never seen someone's eyes glaze over faster!

I never did like the phrase "go with" tho even tho it sort of reminds me of Minnesotan "wanna come with? "

mac 8:35 PM  

Didn't we have this discussion recently? I've always had stick shift cars, automatics feel like fair rides, bumper cars.

Anonymous 9:12 PM  

Acme, I'm happy for you that you have friends who are normal.

Captcha includes Thy Sigh....


Tita 10:25 PM  

Yes.'re right...we've been to this party before... ;)

ShortShrift 11:56 PM  

Thanks for that pianist clip, Rex! My introduction to this maestro

sanfranman59 2:15 AM  

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 6:32, 6:49, 0.96, 32%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:00, 8:51, 0.90, 23%, Easy-Medium
Wed 12:11, 11:50, 1.03, 61%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 18:42, 18:59, 0.99, 50%, Medium
Fri 19:48, 25:09, 0.79, 15%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:30, 3:40, 0.96, 31%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:01, 4:35, 0.88, 11%, Easy
Wed 6:12, 5:52, 1.06, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 9:57, 9:18, 1.07, 68%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 9:14, 12:27, 0.74, 14%, Easy

Me, You, or Ellie 10:55 AM  

My dictionary (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate) defines "Panglossian" as "marked by the view that all is for the best in this best of possible worlds," which is the best definition ever. In all possible worlds.


Big T 6:46 PM  

I too entered Lea with confidence and never recovered the entire east side. Remembered alohaoe from Elvis's Blue Hawaii. I bought the LP 52 years ago with a gift certificate from being in my cousins wedding. Wow. When did I get do old. Loved the puzzle (except for the eastern half)

Red Valerian 12:12 PM  

DNF because put in and, unlike @foodie, left in mATIE... (even though I thought that misspelled) and lIRA thinking, like @Z, of Lyra. Had never heard KATIE, BAR THE DOOR, and have never seen or had a desire to see Miss Saigon.

Was at the funeral of an elderly neighbour last year. His daughter was talking about all the music in their home as they were growing up. She said that his favourite was "Moonlight Sinatra." Her mother quietly corrected her.

Had a '73 VW Westfalia. Got a job in Ontario in 1997, so drove it across the country, watching the highway rush by through the hole in the floor. Head cracked shortly after my arrival, and no point in fixing because of all the rust. So, I found another '73 Westfalia for $3000. Got me back and forth across the country every summer for seven years, when I moved back to BC. I'd probably still have it, except that we were planning a driving holiday up north, and my partner refused to go in a van with no heat. So, I bought a "new" 1989 Westfalia in late 2008.

Sold my '73 for what I'd paid for it in 1997!

captcha: vanstatc!

Solving in Seattle 1:18 PM  

My wife and I saw Miss Saigon on Broadway and I rewrote the ending during the final scenes. Agree with earlier comment that it was a stinker.

Can someone explain to me what the hell a Hoya is?

The Producers is one of my all-time favorite movies. I've watched it about a dozen times and still find new bits that crack me up.

Off to the golf course...

capcha ortyle - probably a future crossword answer to "Relating to a leftover tidbit."

connie in seattle 2:15 PM  

@r.alphbunker: the comment about your English teacher asking you to describe "spiral staircase" without your hands got me thinking. I would have said (since I'm a foodie): take a potato, start at the top and peel the whole thing around in one continous strip. Hold it up and that's what a spiral staircase looks like.

Lola505 2:21 PM  

I like more "meat" in my Friday puzzles, but it didn't take much time out of a beautiful day, so that's okay.
So, "Noncontiguous" constitutes a "theme"? Really?

Ginger 2:33 PM  

Today is a red letter day, I actually finished a Friday puz (with only a little help from Mr G). Until discovering this forum, I did not even attempt Friday and Saturday puzzles.

katiebarthedoor was my aha moment. It's been awhile since I heard the phrase, I think in a sportscast. Thank you, Mr Atkinson, for a lot of wonderful stuff. I like the engine/hood/stp entries.

I learned to drive in a '48 Ford convertible, stick. It was chartreuse with a black top and I thought I was really hot stuff. An interesting tidbit, if you took your driving test in an automatic, you got a restricted license.

centralscrewtinizer 2:41 PM  

Another who was three letters to the six letters clue.

boardbtr 2:55 PM  

After five weeks - a little late, but @Evel Knevel's logic that the only correct way is after the stunt contradicts the clue which is pre-stunt it would seem.

Spacecraft 3:40 PM  

Done with no errors and no Google--but hand up for the natick at KIm/mIRA. All that was was a good guess. Really wanted TALKS for 58a ("SALT I and II, e.g.") but the -KTLE ending it created for 11d would not compute. That made the SE my HYPO (sticking point). Once out of there I was OK except for the natick. Easy-medium. The wedge-in point was WESSON: "Who's gonna stop us?" "The three of us." "What three?" "Smith, WESSON, and me." Ah, Harry, we love ya.

DMGrandma 5:55 PM  

Didn't know the Katie expression, but have to wonder if the guy who said it was the one waiting at the "k-k-kitchen door?"
Thanks @dirigongofor the captchas link. Read it all, but still don't understand how copying that second jumble helps"decode" a real word. My second one today, the one that supposedly is involved in helping discover a "real"word, is ckingss (I think), no relation to any word I've heard of. Besides, if only correct solutions are accepted.......???
Now to see if I read it correctly.

Joe in Montreal 7:36 PM  

Syndication chiming in here. I thought stitches in the ER, sutures in the OR. Oh well.

Red Valerian 7:53 PM  

Wow, that weird phenomenon continues. Either it's syndi-synchronicity or A-list (solvers in "real" time) prescience. "Cooking with Poo" won a big prize: Cooking with Poo and other titles

@DMGrandma: I think the idea was that only one captcha was required to post--the one that the computer "knew" the answer to. The other was for data-getting. After some number of people typed in the same thing, that would be taken as the correct answer.

Red Valerian 7:56 PM  

Sorry--here's the site that shows the title won:

Cooking with Poo

Dirigonzo 8:13 PM  

I was going to tell a story about the '53 VW I had when I was stationed in Germany, but @Anonymous 5:11pm rained on that parade. So I'll just say that I finished with the same lucky guess at 1a as did so many others, and I was glad to learn that I am a Panglossian person.

@SiS - from Wikipedia, "The Georgetown Hoyas are the athletics teams that officially represent Georgetown University in college sports. Part of the NCAA's Division I, the Hoyas field 23 varsity level sports teams, most of which participate in the Big East Conference, with the exception of the Division I-AA Patriot League in football. The rowing and sailing teams also participate in east coast conferences. The Georgetown Hoyas men's basketball team is the school's most famous and most successful program, but Hoyas have achieved success in a wide range of sports.

The team name is derived from the mixed Greek and Latin chant, "Hoya Saxa," (meaning "What Rocks") which gained popularity at the school in the late nineteenth century." Only at Georgetown would they name their athletic teams after a mixed Greek and Latin chant.

Solving in Seattle 8:22 PM  

@Dirigonzo, thanks for the Hoya 411, but that now poses a new question on the etymology of "rock" and its use in the context of "you ROCK, Hoyas." I didn't think that was a 19 century expression. Maybe the wiki article is inventing questionable history. Hmmm...

Red Valerian 8:31 PM  

@Ginger: I intended to respond earlier. I think people who have not passed a test with a standard shift SHOULD have a restricted licence! I mean, really!

That said, when I went to get my licence (lo, many years ago) the examiners were on strike. Since I'd taken actual lessons, I got my licence with the proviso that I would be called back later for an actual test. I'm still waiting...

Okay, one last boring thing about driving. I bought a friend's motorcycle without knowing how to ride. He showed me how to shift etc., and I practised in front of his house, but it was a hairy learning experience driving home. I was not used to having to worry about falling over if I stalled! And there are a lot of hills around here...

The motorcycle test was interesting, since, obviously, the examiner can't sit next to you. Anyhow, I got my Class 6 (motorcycle) and still have my Class 5 (regular car). Ah HA HA HA!!!!!! (be afraid, very afraid...)

Dirigonzo 8:50 PM  

@SiS (are you still out on the links?) "Rocks" as in "stones", apparently. Wiki (obviously anticipating your objection) provides this further expanation of the term: "Hoya Saxa is the official cheer and "college yell" of Georgetown University and its athletics teams. Hoya is an Ancient Greek word usually transliterated from οἵα as hoia from the word hoios (οἷος) meaning "such" or "what" as in "what manner of", and is used in certain Biblical quotations.[1] Saxa however, is Latin for "rocks" or "small stones". It was used in the name of some Roman settlements, such as Saxa Rubra. Before 1900, students at Georgetown were required to study classical linguistics, and both words are in the neuter plural of their respective languages.[2] The phrase together is generally translated into English as "what rocks!", though other translations have suggested "such rocks!" or "great rocks!" or even "what rocks?" as a question.[3]" And that is absolutely all I have to say on the topic! (Except this - I personally favor the "what rocks?" translation. But I never went to Georgetown.)

Lola505 8:54 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.

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