Breezing Up Fair Wind artist 1876 / FRI 4-20-12 / Part of intro to piece of Champagne Music / Old game co that made D&D / Advertiser with computer-generated mascot / Passage to Marseille actor 1944

Friday, April 20, 2012

Constructor: Mike Nothnagel

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Winslow HOMER (50D: "Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)" artist, 1876) —

Winslow Homer (February 24, 1836 – September 29, 1910) was an American landscape painter andprintmaker, best known for his marine subjects. He is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th century America and a preeminent figure in American art.
Largely self-taught, Homer began his career working as a commercial illustrator.[1] He subsequently took up oil painting and produced major studio works characterized by the weight and density he exploited from the medium. He also worked extensively in watercolor, creating a fluid and prolific oeuvre, primarily chronicling his working vacations. (wikipedia)
• • •

Tore this one apart in just over half the time it took me to do yesterday's puzzle. There's only one word in the puzzle that I can imagine not being common knowledge to a regular solver—SLOANE (9D: ___ Crosley, author of the 2008 best seller "I Was Told There'd Be Cake"). Luckily, I knew the name, not because I've read her, but because I remember being in Barnes & Noble and picking up her book and thinking "who is this writer I've never heard of who has these good blurbs" and "huh, SLOANE is a cool name for a girl." I know *of* books more than I know books, sadly. Kind of embarrassing for someone with a Ph.D. in English, but I'm working on it. Anyway, everything else in the grid is common / famous. This didn't have the overall sizzle that I've come to expect from Nothnagel puzzles, but it did have LIKE HERDING CATS (36A: Frustratingly difficult), which (given the otherwise clean grid) is enough for me. Got started with Fred's iconic ASCOT and mostly roared forward from there.

Had two minor hangups, one at the beginning and one at the end. First, I tried to make OMELET work at 19A: Light breakfast (ONE EGG). Then I remembered the last OMELET I had and thought "... light?" Was able to fix it when I realized that short people were probably not very well assisted by LOAMS (2D: Assistance for short people? = LOANS). If you say SLOANE's LOANS over and over you get this crazy infinite LOANS loop. Where was I? Oh, right, second hangup. Happened at the end, in the NE corner, where I Could Not get either BLEED (16A: Run) or COPAY (18A: Figure in a doctor's office) (esp. the latter) until I had all four of the first letters for each, and even then I had to think a bit. What, exactly, makes a cross-country trip an ODYSSEY? I mean, what's the magic ingredient that separates an ODYSSEY from a mere cross-country trip? Getting lost in rural Wisconsin? Getting caught in an epic, God's-Vengeance thunderstorm in Montana? (I've done both). Just curious.

  • 23A: Old game co. that made D&D (TSR) — one of those crosswordy answers that I never quite feel I have a grasp on. "T ... something?" Today, I guessed and got it right on the first try. 
  • 24A: Tree with catkins (ALDER) — off the "A." I don't think I even knew that an ALDER *was* a kind of tree until I started doing crosswords.
  • 46A: Part of the intro to a piece of "Champagne Music" (A-TWO) — proudest solving moment of the night. Got it off the "W." Something about the cluing just shouted out "Lawrence Welk! "A-One and A-TWO and ..."; I've watched a complete episode of "The Lawrence Welk Show" exactly never. It Still Airs On My Local PBS Station, in all its creepily soulless glory.
  • 47A: Area in front of a basketball net, informally (PAINT) — first thought: CREASE (wrong sport).

  • 61A: Advertiser with a computer-generated mascot (GEICO) — way to ruin the illusion, Mike!
  • 63A: Thomas Cromwell's earldom (ESSEX) — through a path too circuitous to retrace, I learned just now that "The role of Anne of Cleves was played by actress and singer Joss Stone in the Showtime cable television series The Tudors." (wikipedia)
  • 7D: Intl. soccer powerhouse (ARG.) — I went with ENG. at first. That's not ... laughably wrong, is it?
  • 8D: Original airer of "The Jetsons" (ABC) — had the "A" so ... yeah.
  • 15D: N.F.L. All-Pro player Chris (SNEE) — Played alongside Mike Snick. Quite a team, those two.
  • 25D: "Passage to Marseille" actor, 1944 (LORRE) — Had "L---E" and struggled to come up with the name LOREN only to realize that's ridiculous for many reasons. LORNE Greene? Also ridiculous. Then hit on Peter LORRE. Of course. 
  • 60D: "___ Yu" (collection also known as "The Analects of Confucius") (LUN) — OK, so there's not *no* junk in this puzzle. Just very little. (side note: my Tigers are currently getting whipped by *Yu* Darvish—who will visit your puzzle one day, trust me—and the rest of the currently indestructible Texas Rangers)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Greg Charles 12:31 AM  

Had ASPEN before ALDER, and never have heard of SLOANE. (It's a good name for a girl only if you compare it to Caitlyn or Brittany.) Otherwise, yes, easy for a Friday. It gives me a shot at a Googleless week.

Marius 12:33 AM  

Mike Snick? You're shoving Mike Snick in my face? I carried that mama's boy for years!

Maybe if PAINT hadn't been right over POINT so that I filled in PAINT twice I might have done a little better on this.

I actually used the phrase 'herding cats' in real life within the past week. Never before, likely never again.

Chris Snee 12:37 AM  

Oh damn! I'm Chris Snee. Something compelled me to sign in as Marius. See, Marius was the first robot, and I thought I could get over on Google. Now they're controlling my mind - I'm pretending to be a robot while attempting to prove I'm not a robot.

jae 12:38 AM  

Typical MN.  Zippy and fun.   LIKEHERDINGCATS would have been enough for me but nooo...KILLINGTIME, SODAJERK, ITLLDO, STUDPOKER,.... A SONICE Fri. which was easy-medium for me (NE took some staring).  

Erasures - wOw for BOY and Aone at first.

SLOANEs  I know are Ferris's GF and E's GF (from Entourage).  Did not know Crosley.  

Clark 12:51 AM  

"only one word in the puzzle that I can imagine not being common knowledge to a regular solver"

So how many more years before I am "a regular solver"? Just curious.

Besides not knowing SLOANE, I didn't know TSR, TOR, BENGAL, SNEE, or LUN.

Now if BENGAL had been clued as a cat . . . See avatar.

Argument = POINT?

Antic Copay Michaels 1:55 AM  

I didn't know what @clark did not know.

I envisioned both SODAJERKS and GEICO but too chicken to put in what I could only attribute to ESP.

LOVED KINDREDSPIRIT but can't quite explain why.

Weird that PAINT got a needless sports clue, but POINT did not. Or is that the very definition of a Friday?

Whatever..Mike Nothnagel is a genius and i struggle with his puzzles, get them eventually and feel happy. Nuff said.

chefwen 2:04 AM  

Too much good stuff in this puzzle to call out. @jae did a pretty great job covering it.

Had to pull up that "herding cat" commercial on utube and laughed just as hard as I did when I first saw it. Priceless! Also liked KINDRED SPIRITS, one of Mom's favorite sayings.

Got a little messed up in the North East when I plunked down silver cup at 11D, not even freakin' close. Sounded good at the time, soon fixed.

Super Friday puzzle Mike N. Thanks!

Anonymous 2:06 AM  

@ clark: don't think of "argument" as "dispute." Instead, think "the argument [point] of his essay was that crosswords are stupid."

Ascot Callingin Michaels 2:08 AM  

despite an OBGYN performing a caesarEAN on a SHE-bear named SLOANE.

I thought the Scooby-Doo guy had a beret, a goatee possibly with one "e", and a big dog who talked like the Jetson's Astro (on ABC).
An ASCOT was pretty far down my list.

Clark 3:16 AM  

@Anon 2:06. I was thinking that an argument always involves more than one point. "I think x is true because of y." But I guess someone can say, "I get your point," and mean "I get your argument." So, thanks.

Eejit 4:19 AM  

Found it very easy too, I usually struggle with Fridays. ENG isn't laughably wrong, just hasn't been the case for some time. The Euros in POL and UKR in June will probably bear that out, yet again. Hope to be there, then to ARG for a wedding.

Z 7:29 AM  

I knew "easy" was coming because I was done before I took my son to school.

ENG isn't impossibly funny, although I had AiG because so many club teams have that emblazoned across their chests (or so I tried to tell myself). Argentina has Messi, the best scorer, but Spain is the real powerhouse these days, it seems.

Had a problem in the SE. I had no idea about LUN Yu and was thinking science, not math, for positive or negative, so was trying to figure out how iON ZERO fit the clue.

Also, as the H in TEAM PHOTO gave me GOETHE, leaving ORG-- for What a fugue may be written for, i wondered what ORGies had to do with fugues? Must be the result of the maleness of the puzzle.

Glimmerglass 7:30 AM  

An "argument" can be a summary of the major points of a formal document, but it's really not synonymous with the POINT of an essay or statement. A cross-country trip can be a four-hour flight or a two-week drive, but neither rises to the level of ODYSSEYS. I guess some flakes are ASHES, but that's really a metaphor. A COX steers the boat (helmsman), but he/she is not the navigator. One way a person KILLS TIME is to fool around, but that isn't a synonym. Even with these slightly off clues, this was an easy Friday.

AnnieD 7:57 AM  

Started this puzz too late and too tired last night and did pretty well until the SE corner. Example, had STAG POKER. This AM said, what the heck is that?!?

Herding it's done

Lots of fun stuff, tho I agree with Rex re ODYSSEYS clue.

Nice one, Mr. N.

evil doug 8:08 AM  

Andrea: I'll grant you TSR (no idea, although it shows up here, and only here, once in a while), Arg (soccer: who of either sex gives a s***?) and Snee (no idea, and I'm a football nut). But ESPN, super bowl teams (like my ill-fated Bengals), team photos, major cities (Tor), and poker are hardly male-centered these days. Title IX, baby! Speaking of the Bengals, a former player is on trial here for gettin' it on with a 15-year-old babysitter---the daughter of some team employee. Bengals players: The gift that keeps on giving....

Yeah, too easy---never had to employ my customary put-down-come-back technique. But I screwed up 'cox'. Went with 'con' ("you have the con, ensign"). Of course, that made Cromwell a German earl ('Essen'), but I never saw that.

If 'paint' is going bball, then I would have clued the adjacent 'point' as '______ guard'.

Valor is a great word--I guess I'll forgive the crossing 'vee' that resulted. Excrete-egest is a vivid combo. And better enjoy 'dial tones' before they go the way of dial phones.


joho 8:11 AM  

The best thing about Nothnagel puzzles to me ithat they are never LIKEHERDINGCATS. I find that if you just keep at it, discovering one fresh phrase after another, you will find all the answers.

There is so much to love in this puzzle and it's just a FQ short of a pangram.

This makes five fantastic puzzles in a row this week, thank you, Mike and, you, too, Will!

joho 8:15 AM  

"is that they"

jberg 8:20 AM  

What everyone said. NE was the last to fall, but finally got KEPT AT BAY and there it was.

"That's a good argument" = "that's a good point," it seems to me. But as for ODYSSEY, the original was pretty much a water voyage, not cross-country at all. It's OK colloquially, though.

If your KINDRED SPIRIT is also your soul mate, isn't that incest?

SethG 8:31 AM  

Was torn apart in just over twice the time it took me to do yesterday's puzzle. The SLOANE/BLEED/COPAY killed me. Also, I tried LORNE Green. Also, Rex thinks I'm short.

Andrea, over 40% of Tampa Bay Rays attendance, for example, is female. According to Gallup, 54% of men and 41% of women say they are baseball fans. So it's a male thing, but not extremely so. What it is more and more is an old people thing--in 2004-05, 18- to 29-year-olds were about a third as likely as 65-and-olders to say that baseball was their favorite sport.

Note that I wrote this before I saw Evil's post, but I think my points are different enough so I'll post it anyway. Also, note that statistics about sports is totally male.

Loren Muse Smith 8:31 AM  

Enjoyable, elegant, and easy in a not-too-easy way. Perfect Friday. The cluing was terrific everywhere!

@Evil - I had "cap" for COX for way too long.

This is two days in a row that I've have a weird prediction on the eve of a puzzle. Two days ago, I told Dad that on Thursdays letters could even appear outside the grid and yesterday afternoon. . .I was meeting with a wedding planner for ceremony here at the club next weekend. I said,

"OK - ceremony at 4:30, cocktail reception 45 minutes and then at 5:45," (when we begin directing people to the ballroom, and you'd be astonished to see how much alcohol a wedding reception guest can dispatch in 45 minutes)

"... we begin HERDING CATS."

Rudy 8:45 AM  

I was on a roll but the NE corner kept me at bay. I started on the wrong foot: put in ASKed for 8a and never changed it. But the other sectors came in quite easily from LOIN to PAINT to POINT to LEAPON. Remembered EGEST from an earlier puzzle for 40a clue Excrete. And what a onomatopoeic clue-answer combination is that?

Keeping with the semi-sports theme, 44a could well have been clued "Position" refering to the game Cricket and you have "point", somewhat like where first base is. Then of course there is "cover point", "deep point" .

oldbizmark 8:49 AM  

easy easy easy. this one made me feel like a genius. fastest solve time on a friday, ever. great for the ego after two DNFs on Wednesday (which I found EXTREMELY DIFFICULT) and Thursday (tough but not as hard as Wednesday). It is interesting to see how the difficulty level for puzzles differs for each person. I guess it all boils down to different types of smarts and knowledge bases. Give me a baseball clue any day. But dances - I still don't know what two of those from Wednesday were - forget about it. Glad for Friday. Friday I'm in love.

Jakarta Dan 8:52 AM  

Wow. Everyone says this is easy. Not me.

Took me a lot longer than yesterday. Don't know how much longer, since I'm part of the untamed generation.

Wasn't long enough to make too much of a dent in a one-and-a-half hour commute, though. Rainy Friday night = bad traffic in SE Asia.

Best Regards,

jackj 9:07 AM  

Two weeks ago Mike Nothnagel authored the Friday Times puzzle and had one 15 letter answer running horizontally, smack dab in the middle of the puzzle and it was the fantastic, LACAGEAUXFOLLES. This week, with a very similar grid, Mike gives us another single 15 letter phrase which is equally terrific, LIKEHERDINGCATS.

Take a moment to think of those two as seed entries for back-to-back challenging themeless puzzles and marvel at the genius of a master constructor who seemingly delights in pleasing his patrons by building verbal images which, in return for a bit of solving skill and effort, reward us with mental trips even Timothy Leary couldn’t have matched.

Need more convincing? Well, how about a quick look at the other dynamite entry in today’s puzzle, KINDREDSPIRIT, a 13 letter beauty running vertically down the center of the grid. Mike also had a blockbuster entry which mirrored that in the earlier puzzle, (same length, same location), and you’ll no doubt remember it, NOTMYCUPOFTEA.

Need I say more?

This is another 5 star triumph for Mike; he sure can tickle the old synapses.

Lindsay 9:18 AM  

WOTD HOMER my first answer in. Then SPurt. Oops. SPIKE is one of those words that's its own antonym, so I avoid it.

Sir Hillary 9:29 AM  

Nice grid, smooth, no junk, but I actually found it boring. Not a single answer that had me saying "cool" or even "hmmm". Favorite entry is OBGYN.

Rex, I too had ENG for a minute, then took it out because, yes, it is laughably wrong.

Jes Wondrin' 9:38 AM  

@jackj - Do you go to openings of one man art shows and hang up paintings of your own?

GILL I. 9:56 AM  

I kept waiting to come to some sort of halt when starting this puzzle. The answers seemed to pop in pretty easy except my HERDING was cows. Never heard of CATS but it makes sense. Thanks @AnnieD for a morning laugh.
I didn't know SLOANE either and wanted to fit in FIFA for ARG. I'm a Real Madrid/Kaka or a Liverpool/Torres sort of person
Glad WOTD is HOMER. Love his Breezing Up because it's his best work. @Tita, thought of you and the catboat.
Off to play in the sun...

orangeblossomspecial 10:02 AM  

Lawrence Welk's intro a-one, ATWO. Welk's show featured some famous musicians, such as Pete Fountain.

Real sports fans can't see 35A "Holy cow!" without thinking of Harry Caray, former announcer for the Cardinal then the Cubs.

Maxine Sullivan recorded 62A "Ace in the hole". Like a sucker playing stud.

Bach composed multiple FUGUEs. Here is the famous G minor.

r.alphbunker 10:15 AM  

Great puzzle. I second @jackj's paean.

I really wish that I could have the ability to tip a constructor of a great puzzle to show appreciation like I do when I encounter a street performer that impresses me. (

Maybe the host of this site could put aside some of the money he receives in donations for that purpose.

Willie Nelson 10:18 AM  

Wishing everyone a happy 4/20

quilter1 10:19 AM  

Loved it. I say LIKE HERDING CATS fairly frequently. Liked all the long answers--many wow moments which make the puzzle fun to do. Usually sports answers are not my thing, but as a college basketball fan the PAINT was no mystery. @ED: I would have appreciated a POINT guard clue as well.
Thanks, Mike Nothnagel

Mel Ott 10:22 AM  

Lot of jock stuff in today's puzzle. It really would have been over the top if POINT, HOMER, SLOANE, ASCOT & ABC were given sports clues.

As a NY Giant fan Chris SNEE was a gimme. He's also the coach's son-in-law.

Do we still have SODA JERKS? Conjures up an image of a 1940's malt shop.

5-letter 1940's actor starting with 'L' - gotta be LORRE.

JC66 10:23 AM  

@ orangeblossomspecial

When Yankee fans see "Holy cow" they think of Phil Rizzuto

Tita 10:25 AM  

@Clark...pretty kitty...and I agree - but maybe MN was going for the record on sports fill (8!)...

@acme - love your P.S.

@ED - surely you jest - you love football, but not futbol? I can't even fathom the logic with which one defends that...

DNF, à la ED...wondered what Cromwell was doing in ESSEn, and precisely the same thought re: COn.

Have seen so many HOMERs in the past few weeks - new American wings at Boston MFA and Met are fabulous!!!

Liked the puzzle lots, in spite of my dumb DNF. Too-much-sports countered by "Breezing Up" and the other Likes expressed here.

(@Gill - mine isn't a cat, but you point to a nice piece of symmetry in the puzzle...
HERDINGCATS together with Breezing Up, a painting of a CATboat.)
Maybe it's @Dirigonzo's?

Merle 10:34 AM  

Well, Rex, our knowledge banks are totally different. I breezed through Thursday's puzzle -- would rate it easy -- and struggled with several sections of today's puzzle. For me, Lorre was a gimme -- but then, I was born in 1942 and watched many a 1940's movie on TV during the 1950's on Million Dollar Movie and the Early Show, and friends of my father's called my father Pete because he looked like Peter Lorre. Alder was a gimme -- I know trees. Goethe was a gimme -- didn't all literate adolescents read "The Sorrows of Werther"? Never watched "The Flintstones". Ascot? On a caveman? Who'd a thunk? Don't know sports at all -- used to know the 1950's Brooklyn Dodgers line-up, but they moved to L.A. and I said I'd never root for a team again. So, A.L. East squad, 49ers, NFL All-Pro -- wtf? Thought Lun Yu a great fill. Also enjoyed Champagne Music clue. Homer -- not the Simpsons Homer, not the Iliad Homer, the Winslow Homer -- also a great clue, not quite a gimme, but it falls into place.

mac 10:35 AM  

Fantastic puzzle by MN! Loved like herding cats, kindred spirits and co-pay (under bleed, above ATMs).

Thought Mike had a really fresh new clue for BRA at 7D.

The SW was the toughest for me, and A-two had a lot to do with that!

Merle 10:37 AM  

Hey, Mike Snick, and anyone else who had a response to "herding cats". Herding cats is an overused but evocative expression. Next time someone wants to use a similar phrase while constructing a puzzle, I hope that person tries using "keeping frogs in a wheelbarrow". Something to look forward to!

Merle 10:39 AM  

Oops, meant Marius, not Mike Snick. Marius, the "keeping frogs in a wheelbarrel/herding cats" comment should have been addressed to you.

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

@r.alphbunker - I've thought about the tipping process for a while, in a number of situations. There really should be a web service where you can tip someone, anyone, when they've made your life, however briefly, nicer. Every time I hear Sitting on the dock of the bay I wish I could send Otis Redding's heirs a buck.

Matthew G. 11:01 AM  

Will's banner week continues. Super-easy Friday, my second-fastest ever, but it's smooth without being low-cal. Hand up for knowing the female given name SLOANE only as Ferris Bueller's girlfriend, but SLOANE Crosley's website makes her sound like an entertaining writer.

Three Ks, a J, a Z, and a gazillion Gs, but not a pangram. No wonder Rex is in a good mood.

evil doug 11:20 AM  


Futbol: 22 players, 90 minutes, no hands (what are these guys, Irish folk dancers?), an occasional sprint, a lot of standing around except when it's time to fake injuries by taking a dive, nil-nil at the end, stoppage time, still nil-nil, shoot-out, trade jerseys, go home. I say: Just go straight to the shoot-out and save everybody a lot of time.

Meanwhile, in the stands---where the real action is---fans getting drunk, chanting stupid ditties, frequent fist-fights, occasional riots, people dying in the ensuing stampede.

Yeah, great game.

And don't call me Shirley!


jae 11:24 AM  

Kesey's trip with the Merry Pranksters fits the ODYSSEYS clue.

foodie 11:25 AM  

I'm depressed... not easy for me. At all.. Too may names, too much sport. But what can you do?

Loved LIKE HERDING CATS and KINDRED SPIRIT!! Actually, many great answers strewn in between the dark matter.

PS. Andrea, re your comment to me yesterday about NOiRE. Very interesting hypothesis about why we both went that way!

Charles Dobson 11:45 AM  

The Jabberwocky

John V 12:02 PM  

Late flight home last night, so off gto a slow start today. Not easy for me, but I suspect the travel. Finished with one mistake, had POINT twice, not PAINT. I know it was a mistake, of course, having POINT twice right atop each other.

Today was work. So it goes.

jae 12:10 PM  

And @merle -- That Fred Jones Jr. from the Scooby-Doo cartoon with the ASCOT not Fred Flintstone.

Lewis 12:50 PM  

For 62A I was thinking STRIPOKER, then, considering the clue, quickly dismissed it.

Wasn't easy for me, but neither was it a slog. What a great week of puzzles so far!

Can someone please tell me how to put an avatar on my postings? Thanks in advance --

Tita 12:51 PM  

@Surely.,.I agree with everything you said! Now, defending futbol in the context of if I had my eyes propped open and offered the choice of watching futbol or football, here is my counter...
Far fewer timeouts means less commercials.
And at least they are not covered with all that woossie padding and helmeting...

@Merle - honest mistake, Scooby-Doo and Yabba-dabba-doo...

Stan 1:02 PM  

We have two cats that need to be kept separated (the opposite of HERDING them). The closed doors cut me off from my office computer and leave me trying to read Rex on an iPod (not easy).

But anyway, a fine, lively puzzle from Mike N today and an excellent week overall!

Rube 1:08 PM  

A Friday without Googles for me has to be an "Easy" for @Rex. All those multi-word expressions were what simplified the solve -- get a few crosses, look at them, and fill in the rest. I had _I__DING_ATS and the rest just fell into place. The same thing for KIN__.

Hand up for ENG before ARG, although I knew better. About the only things I really didn't know were TSR and the Sloane person. It was the cluing that gave me trouble, much of which was a stretch, like for COX and ODYSSEYS. Strange to see a new clue for SNEE. I'm not sure I understand SPIKE for "Shoot up"... some druggie thing? The clue for HIT ON was gettable, but there is a much more common usage for this expression. EGEST doesn't pass my breakfast test.

Still, a very fine puzzle.

Jp 1:43 PM  

Very easy for me too. Was in the park with no access to any outside help. So I was surprised I got all of the bottom without much sweat. Had CHART instead of COPAY so could not quite finish without Google. Also had ENG instead of ARG so that held me up. But coming home needed only a couple of googles to finish it up. No complaints on this puzzle. Very solvable for me. Gives me hope that I will someday go solo on Fridays as well.

dk 1:48 PM  

All we needed was a Simpson reference for a HOMER hat trick.

One of many english reports I delivered in high school was on humor in The Odyssey and one example was the phrase "You are odd I see." Of interest to no one but me is the use of the same phrase in O Brother Where Art Thou… the other ODYSSEY. Besides the old TV show Route 66.

As I am lost in rural Wisconsin I also get the use of ODYSSEY in 12D. I suppose if I lived in the Southern Tier of NY I would not .

🌟🌟🌟 (3 Stars) I did have to put this down and come back to it. I blame it on the cold meds. Fine puzzle.

alibaba cox-la michaels 2:14 PM  

@sethg, @ED

Grrrr, I'm not saying women don't like sports! I'm saying there are loads more ways to clue ARG, SNEE, PAINT, TOR...even BENGAL (less so ESPN or TEAMPHOTO)
so that there is not an imbalance of gratuitous sports clues, as this is the NY Times, not Sports Illustrated.
I mean, the NYT is not even known for properly covering sports, so maybe this is Will's one man crusade to balance it out...I just find it off-putting (in a non-golf sense!)when it's overdone.

orangeblossomspecial 2:41 PM  


I grew up listening to Harry Caray do the Cardinals, then got older listening to him do the Cubs on WGN. I don't recall hearing Phil Rizzuto do a game. One of the problems of living in the nether regions, I guess. Sorry for the omission.

Unknown 2:41 PM  

This was fun. I think Fridays are my favorite now. I like the no-theme puzzles the best. I hate gimmicks (like outsideRs). Anyway loved this one.

One thing though. Whenever I fool around, I am not exactly killing time....

Have a great week end!


hazel 2:43 PM  

Good grief too much sports, too much pop culture is like freaking fingernails on a blackboard. When repeated so often, I can't see what it adds to the discussion. Big diff between cathartic venting (admittedly, a good thing) and repeated whining, carping, whatever it is.

Re the puzzle - I would also categorize Blue Highways as a bit of an odyssey, fitting the clue. Loved the puzzle and its cluing.

Go braves!

evil doug 2:44 PM  

Andrea: "But may I say a tad too male for me."

...and then, later, Andrea: "Grrrr, I'm not saying women don't like sports! I'm saying there are loads more ways to that there is not an imbalance of gratuitous sports clues."

So which is it? Too male, or too sportsy?

In responding to the 'too male' post I merely pointed out that some of the obscure game clues you mentioned were equally obscure to me and I would guess most sports fans, and that others would be easily tackled (ha ha!) by most women as they were by me---and therefore not 'gratuitous', but fair and reasonable.

Thus, I was clearly asserting my strong belief in the equal capacity of women to handle this and all puzzles---in effect defending the entire gender against what can only be called your potshots at women's ability to deal equally with men. Tsk. I had no idea you were such a misogynist....

Babes: You're welcome.

I knew Ob/Gyn, too....

Bird 3:02 PM  

I struggled and corrected a bunch of squares (paper looks a mess), but I finally got on Mike’s wavelength and completed this great puzzle in a bout a ½ hour. And it’s Friday so today is really special. The least square to fall was the R at the crossing of 25D and 36A. I never heard of either so I needed to run the alphabet.

After umpteen years of solving NYT times I think I’m approaching the title “Regular Solver”. There is a few more than just “one word” in this grid I did not know, but they were gettable from crosses and some thinking through.

Best answer was 15D. I’m a huge Giants fan and Chris Snee is the son-in-law of head coach Tom Coughlin. I think Mike Snick is retired and in the Hall of Fame.

A real ODYSSEY is the Griswold family trip to Wally World.

@orangeblossom – For me, “Holy Cow!” brings to mind the great Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto.


Jerry Garcia 3:05 PM  

Special party with Willie Nelson, Bob Marley and a few others at 4:20 on 4/20. Nice way to start the weekend;)

Cheech 3:13 PM  

@Jerry - Can I join in?

Jerry Garcia 3:15 PM  

@Cheech - Dude! Of course. And bring Tommy with you.

jackj 3:18 PM  


Nice thought on how to say "thank you" to constructors!

Until such a thing (hopefully) becomes available, the best way to say thank you might be on the "Diary of a Crossword Fiend" site with its one star to 5 star rating system.

All are welcome to choose and no registration is required.

John V 3:31 PM  


Re: Avatar, just upload a picture of your choice to your Google profile and you're done.

chefbea 3:39 PM  

Busy day today. Started the puzzle but no time to finish. Must be the beautiful weather.

AnnieD 4:07 PM  

Lewis, sign up for a google account and you can add an avatar. The sign in with your google account and it will appear here. Mine is a sunrise shot over the Atlantic from my favorite beach.

Mighty Nisden 4:09 PM  

The only reason I got ALDER is that is what our cabinets are made of. Beautiful wood, not very hard. It will mar easily if you have little kids or grand kids in my case.

Do not get the ALIBABA clue. Googled it and know the story.... Oh now I get it. haha. Guess I had to write it down to get the old brain moving.

Good puzzle but needed a few helps and ATOZ always fools me.

AnnieD 4:09 PM  

Gill I.P., glad you enjoyed's one of the best ads ever...

sanfranman59 4:18 PM  

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

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

Fri 20:01, 24:58, 0.80, 17%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 9:58, 12:21, 0.81, 20%, Easy-Medium

Cheech 4:22 PM  

@Willie, Jerry, Bob - You guys remember to bring the Cheetos? I'm starving here!

Pete 4:37 PM  

This notion that women are as interest in sports as are men is ridiculous. Watch some games this weekend, baseball, hockey, basketball are all on. Watch ESPN or listen to sports radio. Pay attention to the commercials. Come up with the ratio of commercials for Viagra vs L'Oreal. When you get to 100 ED commercials vs 0 womens products you may stop watching/listening. Then tell me how you can possible say that as many women pay attention to sports as do men.

Yes, I'm assuming that the 40% women's attendance figure is correct at Tampa Bay games. They came with their boyfriends/husbands. You tell me the ratio of women who came with their girl friends to men who came with their male friends and I'll tell you the ratio of women to men who really enjoy watching games.

efrex 4:42 PM  

Great solid Nothnagel construction. Each quadrant broke down into a tentative guess, a long stare at the white space, an "aha!" breakthrough, and a quick fill. Love it.

I remember Chris SNEE making a killer block on a screen play against the Cowboys. Big lineman with impressive speed.

Willie, Jerry, Bob 4:50 PM  

@Cheech - We're going to White Castle for a bag of Belly Bombers, Nathan's for a couple of chili-cheese dogs and 7-Eleven for giant Slurpees to wash it all down. When we get home we're putting on Heavy Metal and enjoying the ride.


skua76 4:56 PM  

@cheech and @jerry, no 4/20 celebration here in Boulder, they closed the campus and spread fish fertilizer on the quad...

As for the puzzle, this is 5 for 5 in a really great week! Thanks MN and Will...and looking forward to a fantastic finish tomorrow.

Last year I was offered a job described as herding cats (well, tourists) at the South Pole but I had to pass on it.

Jerry & Co. 5:07 PM  

@skua76 - that's a damn shame!

Maybe I should celebrate more often 'cause these captchas are getting easier to read.

Joe The Juggler 5:13 PM  

While I grew up with rotary dial telephones, I'm a little surprised that the connection tone is still called a DIAL TONE.

Lewis 6:08 PM  
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Lewis 6:09 PM  

Thanks John V and Annie D!

michael 7:34 PM  

I was going to comment about how I am usually on Mike Nothnagel's wavelength. But now I see that I am not alone in thinking this easy for a Friday. Great puzzle in any case. As an academic I am all too familiar with the phrase "like herding cats"....

Tita 7:45 PM  

@Joe the Juggler...and it's still called "hanging up" too. The last time someone "hung" the earpiece was a lot longer ago than the last time someone dialed a rotary phone!

Sparky 8:28 PM  

Just knew @Rex would say easy. I was so happy to finish. HOMER my first word. Thought of SODAJERKS right away but hesitated entering it because I didn't trust AJIG. Wanted Gabin but the RE I popped in at 33A gave me LORRE which gave me ALDER. Willows have catkins too. I don't think YOYOs move wildly.

A lot of put down pick up today today. @efrex describes my experience.

@Rube: SPIKE as in a graph or temperature is how I took it. Good observation @mac, that stack BLEED, COPAY, ATMS.

You mean to say the lizard isn't real?

Sparky 8:56 PM  

This format is so hard to proofread.

Lewis 9:02 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 8:49 PM  

Sloane is a cool name, but Ferris Bueller loved her before he knew her name.

Sharon NYC 7:40 AM  

This was a funny one for me--stared at it blankly for a long, long while. Tentatively filled in a few answers correctly (ASKTO in the NE, ENERO down below, GEICO in the SW, EGYPT and its cross TOR) and a few incorrectly (AONE instead of ATWO, first SPURT and then SPOUT for SPIKE). Then, suddenly, in the way that brains work, I snapped to attention and tore through the whole puzzle in maybe seven minutes. So, despite the initial brain-freeze, I guess I have to concur with the "easy" classification. It was fun though. Good puzzle.

Solving in Seattle 2:55 PM  


I actually breezed through most of this nice Mike N. CW, then stalled out in New England. I had to wrestle cause I didn't know SLOANE - she revealed herself on crosses - no piece of cake for me.

The RT comments was like watching an enjoyable tennis match - back and forth, back and forth.

The soccer/futball discussion was funny, and I have to throw in my 2 cents: this stupid stoppage time seems to be totally arbitrary on the ref's part. Hmm, I better stop the game before the team that bribed me the most loses.

Just returned to Seattle from NYC. Was in the Financial District for a few days and visited the WTC Memorial. Very beautiful and sobering.

Also witnessed the mother of all lightening storms. Found a great restaurant: Cercle Rouge on W Broadway. NYers come from all over the city fight their way downtown to enjoy the food there.

Capcha: hterges icuprhe. An ancient Greek wrestling hold.

Spacecraft 3:05 PM  

I'm with @Rube: if I get through a Friday with no help and no errors, it's probably a Rex-easy. I would not use that word. I searched through the clues and finally got my gimme at STUDPOKER; unfortunately some of my D's look like O's and so I thought I was looking at a double-O ending for 45d, "Better than nothing." That scrambled my brain for a while till I realized my D was bulging...

But this at no time felt easy. It's like ants crawling all over the petals of the peony trying to peel it open. When you get to the end, you think: Man, I never thought I'd get all this without help. And I guess that's what the constructor tries to give you, so: great job, Mike!

But who in blazes is Chris Snee?

Solving in Seattle 3:11 PM  

@Space, you probably know who Chris Snee is by his first name - Hari.

Red Valerian 7:35 PM  

Had a blast, though thought GEICO was GEIkO for quite a while, so had "melIkE" for "SONICE" (clued "ooh-la-la!") That answer creeped me out, so I was relieved it was wrong!

An argument is NOT a point. I'm with @Clark and @Glimmerglass here. An argument is a set of statements, one of which (the conclusion) is allegedly supported by the others (the premises). A point is, well, just a point--a single statement.

It doesn't help that in ordinary English, we say "that's a valid point" when we mean that the point is a good or relevant one. Strictly speaking, validity is a property of ARGUMENTS, not of statements.

I was going to type "don't get me started," but I think I got myself started.

Osprey update: click on my avatar for some pictures. I can't believe the first thing I posted on my blog are pictures taken by one of my neighbours. This does not bode well.

Dirigonzo 7:54 PM  

Agree with all the "easy for a Friday" comments, but finshed with the same "Cap" to "COn" error as ED, with the same reasoning. My only other writeover was initially having the fugue written for an Opera, but that soon corrected itself.

@Tita, my sailboats have all been sloops, but right now I have my eye on a sweet little 1949 BB Swan catboat - she's 12' loa, and was one of the first fiberglass production sailboats made. She belongs to a friend and if he comes down a little on the price, I may snap her up.

@RV - I love the pics on your blog!

Anonymous 8:02 PM  

Took me a while to get out of the gate, but once I got going it pretty much finished itself. The only thing that slowed me down was LIKE PULLING TEETohcrapnotenoughroom...once I put those wrong letters in there it was tough to see the crosses.

I'm embarassed to say that the baseball clue was the last to fall; I kept thinking it must be TBR for Tampa Bay Rays.

Lola505 8:11 PM  

ARGH! An error! Just could NOT come up with the N in NONZERO, therefore, I did not consider this easy. I thought the SW was easy.

"Intrepidity"???? Really?

On the other hand, I think EGYPT and ODYSSEY are just cool words in their own right.

@RedValerian, I visited your blog and I think your osprey pix are great.

Spacecraft 8:54 PM  

@ solving: I stared at your comment for minutes before finally getting the George Harrison shout-out; lol!

No wonder I don't know this dude: he's a N__ Y___ G____. (I can't say the words, it's forbidden in this Eagle fan's household)

GILL I. 9:44 PM  

@Red Valerian: Yay, You did it!

Dirigonzo 9:47 PM  

@Anony 8:02PM - LIKEpullINGteet is my favorite wrong answer of all time!

Dirigonzo 9:50 PM  

@Gill I.P. - So nice to see you back here in syndiland!

GILL I. 10:06 PM  

@Diri: I left my heart in Syndi.

Solving in Seattle 10:57 PM  

@Red, love your Osprey photos - they are such a regal bird. I know right where you (or your neighbor) took these. Such a beautiful place. Thanks.

@Diri, a '48 twelve foot Swan! wow.

scott davidson 12:41 PM  

How are we looking at the paintings of Mark Rothko these days?
Is he old hat, replaced in America by more contemporary concerns? Looking at his minimal canvases and their enticing floating squares of subdued paint live at the MOMA recently, I had to stop to wonder whether he still communicates to a modern and younger audience., the site that sells good canvas prints to order from their database of digital images, has many Rothko prints. I ordered this one, Blue and grey,
, that I have now hanging in my study. I can spend a long time looking at this elusive image that takes me to some other place not in this world.

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