All or Nothing rapper 2005 / FRI 6-22-12 / Breakers ahead / Algebraic unknowns / Traveler in 1957 news / Tree related to ylang-ylang / King who consulted witch of endor / Literally pick me up / Ancient rival of Judah / Tree whose leaves were once smoked by Indians

Friday, June 22, 2012

Constructor: Josh Knapp

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: MIDRIB (21D: Main vein) —
The central or principal vein of a leaf.

Read more:
• • •

I really love this grid, but the cluing on it gave me fits. I simply couldn't get started. All my gimmes were spread out, and then the cluing was amped up (in most places) to Saturday levels. I had ZOE (4D: Actress Caldwell), GOTTI (25A: "Growing Up ___" (2004-05 A&E reality show)), PFC/FLESH, a very tentative MONA (26A: "___ Lisa") (figured that *had* to be a trap), and LAKER (54D: Staples Center player). That was it for a while. I ended up building the puzzle out of the north-middle, when a good guess at LEAPT AT finally got me BUZZKILL, which got me the NW and most of the way through the north-middle *except* XANDY—XAN- looked nuts to me, and I couldn't figure out how it could be a plural. Also, never heard of MIDRIB, so that didn't help. YATES (30D: David who directed the final four Harry Potter films)? No. I mean, heard of him, but ... no help. Wanted Gates, but David Gates was the lead singer of Bread, so I sort of knew that was wrong. KITSCHY and then, eventually, TIRAMISU (34A: Literally, "pick me up") let me into the NE. I never would've guessed PAPAW or CARTA, wanted TAFT Act (!?) instead of RIOT Act, and had SEE where DIG belonged. All fixed, eventually.

Lower part, especially the mid-south and SE, went much more smoothly. FAT JOE (48D: "All or Nothing" rapper, 2005) and TUVALU (49D: Second-smallest member of the United Nations, by population) were tough, but by the time I saw their clues, I had most of their letters in place, so they actually didn't slow me down at all. Little slower in the SW, where I had to wait several moments for ED HARRIS's name to come to me (38D: "Apollo 13" actor), and where I couldn't believe I couldn't retrieve a Madonna "hit" from my young adulthood—my best friend from college has a truly massive Madonna collection, 20+ years in the making, so I feel somewhat obligated to have at least a passing familiarity with the "hits".  In my defense, nobody would name "RESCUE ME" in a list of the first 10 Madonna songs they can think of (37D: 1991 Madonna hit). Seems like the kind of answer that should've been clued as the F/X show about firefighters starring Denis Leary. Aaaaanyway, my lids don't "flip" (!) when I BLINK, and AMINE could've been AMINO for all I know, and LES is pretty generic, and the distance from [Breakers ahead] (?) to PERIL is huge, for me, so I slowed to a methodical crawl at the end. Rough. But good. Would've loved it (more) as a Saturday puzzle, but I'll take this. Pretty damned pop-culturey, but I've never minded that sort of thing much.

PAPAW and SUMAC are good 'ole crossword trees, but the clues on both were tough (9A: Tree related to ylang-ylang + 28D: Tree whose leaves were once smoked by Indians). Knowing crossword stalwarts helped me out in some other places too (EDOM, DYNES) (23A: Ancient rival of Judah + 27A: Relatives of newtons). Couldn't figure out what could possibly substitute for a beverage. I mean ... it's a beverage. What the hell besides Another Beverage could take its place? But turns out it's a *beverage* that is a substitute (for another beverage) (CREAMER). Pulled ENGEL out of god knows where (53A: Richard of NBC News)—can't say I *know* him, but got him off E- and -L somehow. Figured the [King who consulted the Witch of Endor] was Macbeth or Duncan. SAUL came only with crosses. Only "Matrix" character I could remember was Neo until crosses jogged my memory and gave me MORPHEUS without too much trouble (67A: Captain of the Nebuchadnezzar, in "The Matrix"). SPUTNIK is a "Traveler"? Yikes. I thought human. Also, at [There might be one on a hero], I thought sandwich. As with MONA, I thought the clue was up to something ... only it wasn't ... which is its own kind of sneakiness, on a Friday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:20 AM  

Great Fri.!  Medium for me with plenty of zip.  Any puzzle that starts off with BUZZKILL has got my vote.  West side easy-medium, east side medium-tough, hence medium.  Tough corner = SE.

Did a reright with SOFTG.  Held off on MONA figuring it was to easy for a Fri. (I bet that's what they wanted me to think).  

Last entry was changing AMINo to AMINE when I reread 61a and realized it was French.  That is a potentially tough cross.  

Nice to get back to more challenging Fridays.  Thanks Josh Knapp.

Oh, and I've been known to have the occasional REDLABEL on the rocks. In fact, that was my Father's Day gift.  

syndy 12:59 AM  

Never Heard of either TUVALU or FATJOE so that se corner was a big fat dnf.The rest was brutal but eventually getable-but brutal!TOTEMPOLE?just mean!CARTA!whattha?I bet if I hadn't fallen for that$%#@&^ SDFTG stunt Again I'd have finished.

Unknown 1:09 AM  

As an electrical engineer who has to work on intermittant (i.e., not repeatable with any sort of regularity), INTERMITTANT is just the opposite of PERIODIC, not a clue for it...

Tobias Duncan 1:15 AM  

This one was just out of reach for me.
For those folks wondering about our good friend Jesser, here is an excerpt from an email I got from him yesterday:
"There's many weeks when I don't even do the puzzles each day. I sometimes print them out and try to do them on slow Saturdays. I'm just not blog-worthy anymore. Doesn't mean I don't miss the place and the people, but what's a guy to do?"

I think if we all get together and try to get him fired from his PR job, he will have more time to spend with us.Just throwing that out there...

It has been pointed out to me that I complain quite a bit. Today I would like to complain that I did not get a call from Will Shortz saying that I won the NPR Sunday challenge.This has been going on all year.Very tedious.

Anonymous 2:15 AM  

Very few gimmes, even with the three letter words, where the clues were tough, such as with BED, ASH, and DIG.

What made it even tougher for me was a) thinking that LUGGAGE worked for 42D instead of LEG ROOM, misreading the clue for 39D as "stimulate" rather than "simulate," and c) confusing "The Piano" with "The Pianist." (so I was wracking my brain for some obscure island starting with "W" Finally, got these things straightened out though.

chefwen 3:33 AM  

I had some very lucky guesses with this one. BUZZ KILL off of ZOE was a big toe hold. 16A FLESH was another gimme (yuck) I just felt in sync with this puzzle. Loved 62A COOKIE JAR and what is better than a lovely TIRAMISU?

I also miss our Jesser and am hopeful that he will soon find time again to rejoin the group.

Astonish Carta Morpheus 3:36 AM  

@anon 2:15
Feel your pain (pian?) I confuse "The Piano" with "The Pianist" at least once a year (yes, it does come up that often!)
Plus euRope, prague and WARSAW have almost nothing in common ('cept trying to round up folks who spoke HEBREW)

Luckily, some of my many false starts had lots of letters in common with the right answer (sporaDIC/PERIODIC... no lame DIC jokes, please)

I wouldn't presume about what you know or not, but maybe TUVALU rings a dim bell for being in the news for being the place that sells the .TV ending for urls.
Not that many places end in U.
Peru? Corfu? RICEU?

Even tho I've never seen "The MAtrix", I also loved how MORPHEUS was painstakingly letter at a time inferrable. (Is that a word?)

And, like @rex, toeholds were double tricky switcheroos, bec they seemed deceptively easy: MONA, LAKER, DESKS, SCAB.
Moving up from toes, LEGROOM was also a gimme, given I just spent 18 hours trying to get back from Australia.

One missed square, as per usual:
MSDOc/cAUL. pAUL became SAUL, and I thought there might be some weird biblical S to C exception.

Anyway, loved this, from BUZZKILL/BUSTED to FLESH-eating Zombies to COOKIEJAR!
Josh Knapp...WHATAGUY!

r.alphbunker 4:34 AM  

One thing I learned from this puzzle is that ED HARRIS and Tom Hanks have the same number of letters.

Finished with a train wreck in the SE TUVALo/COOKIEbAR/FATbOy/MORPHyoS. Program told me COOKIEbAR was wrong and that was all I needed to fix everything else.

placematfan 4:51 AM  

What an enjoyable romp! Absolutely glorious fill. Thank you, Josh. Very nice work.

I stared at this grid for 15 minutes, unable to find purchase, before I hesitantly wrote what I hoped was an ending letter S for the plural clue [Relatives of newtons], then I wagged SUMAC, and then it was on. I really wanted BUZZKILL for 1-Across but didn’t trust it; same with LISA; same with EDHARRIS because I thought his space movie quota had been satisfied with “The Right Stuff” and surely he couldn't have been in "Apollo 13", too.

Can someone please expound on [Breakers ahead] and PERIL?

Wow, I too have been thinking “The Piano” and “The Pianist” were the same film. For a decade. I consider myself a movie buff but this coupled with my limited knowledge of Ed Harris’ resume might disqualify me.

jae 4:56 AM  

@Astonish Carta Morpheus. --Welcome back to late night!

Jeremy Mercer 6:04 AM  

Would like to hear more thoughts on the PERIODIC/INTERMITTENT question raised by @Unknown.

My Mac dictionary has PERIODIC as 'appearing or occurring at intervals' while INTERMITTENT as 'occurring at irregular intervals'. So, for standard usage, the clue seems to work as the intervals aren't defined for PERIODIC ...

@r.alphbunker - Tom Hanks screwed me too.

Altogether a tough and interesting puzzle. Bravo.

optionsgeek 6:59 AM  

I felt brutalized by this one so I was cuffed to see it got a "Challenging" rating. Still, I needed several googles to get me through, which is pretty rare for me: ZOE, ENGEL and SAUL.

dk 7:44 AM  

@placematfan, If you sail and see breakers ahead you are in PERIL. Think rocky shoals.

Fontella Bass: is RESCUEME.

Another day when I knew the fill was BED and TVA and I faltered. I am a puzzle WIMP.

I see my sweet spot, AMINE COOKIEJAR MORPHEUS, is back. What a TIRAMISU. It may sound KITSCHY but her posts are the cream in my coffee: WHATAGal!

Sailed through the southwest corner, laughed as I thought of all those poor Decemberites with zirconium instead of diamonds. Oddly the northeast was the last to fall as I thought Zombies craved brains. Must watch more Wes Craven.

�������� (4 Stars) Josh, I am off to a demolition derby on Saturday. Back in the day a DESOTO was the demo derby car of choice as the integrity of the steel in the frame made them invincible. Oh and thank you for a great Friday and bringing Tinkerbell back to life.

dk 7:45 AM  

🌟🌟🌟🌟 Gosh darn robot detector

SethG 7:55 AM  

I knew TUVALU. It was clued as the smallest UN member in a 2007 Nothnagel. And I thought I blogged about it once here, but that turned out to be another blog where I compared the value of Nicole Kidman's 1399 carat Oscars necklace to the gross national product of the island nation of Tuvalu. I also confuse it with that throat singers place, but that's TUVA.

Kept trying to fit Growing Up BRADY, but knew the timing was off. ZOE from the crosses, was totally into Madonna in 1991 but know the other RESCUE ME song better than the movie or the show, had trouble at that cross in the SW, and entered SOFT G with no crosses.

Nice work!

Sir Hillary 7:56 AM  

After skipping puzzles altogether for 3 weeks, I approached this with trepidation. To my utter delight and surprise, I blew through it easily. Must be a wavelength thing with the cluing - a one-off, for sure.

Got BUZZKILL immediately (verified by ZOE) but then struggled to find toeholds until LAKER (big fan) led to WARSAW led to WIMP led to COOKIEJAR (awesome clue!) and the whole SE. Then ASH (another awesome clue!) got me EDHARRIS (like r.alph, I wanted Tom Hanks first) and RESCUEME (Rex is right; no Madonna aficionado would classify this as a "hit") and the SW. Then worked up to the NW and finally the NE.

Fabulous grid! Sure, some crosswordese (EDOM, DYNES) that I don't know, but all getable via crosses. Bottom line, when EPH is the dodgiest entry in a puzzle, the constructor has knocked it out of the park.

In addition to the cluing I noted above, I also loved the clues for UNIONDUES and BLINK.

Finally, cool trivia for TIRAMISU.

Top marks, Josh Knapp!

joho 8:16 AM  

Absolutely LOVED this puzzle which is crammed with wonderful answers:

Also WAMPUM and TOTEMPOLE together are nice.

Only writeover was CREDdo before CREED. Toughest spot was the "V" in TUVALU/TVA but the clue, "Knoxville-based setting" gave me Tennessee which led to TVA.

Thank you, Josh Knapp, for a perfect Friday puzzle!

GLR 8:37 AM  

I'm with @Unknown on "periodic" vs. "intermittent," although I imagine that in everyday conversation, people do use them as synonyms. In math, a periodic function repeats its values at _regular_ intervals (the "period" of the function). Periodicals are published at regular interval (although Time magazine has discovered that there are at least two weeks out of the year when there is no "news," so they publish a "double issue" and skip a week.

@Jeremy, Merriam-Webster on-line straddles the fence, offering both "occurring or recurring at regular intervals" and "occurring repeatedly from time to time."

David L 8:44 AM  

This turned out to be oddly easy for me -- I say oddly because I got TUVALU off the T, EDHARRIS off the D, and happened to remember WARSAW from the (excellent) movie.

I had UNIONFEES before DUES, and EPISODIC before PERIODIC. As someone commented above, to those of use with a scientific background PERIODIC refers to something occurring at regular intervals, therefore the opposite of intermittent, but I guess in common parlance the distinction is not so strict.

evil doug 9:17 AM  

" best friend from college has a truly massive Madonna collection...."---Don't know if I'm more sorry for him or for you, Michael.

Two great days. Yesterday, ogres; today, flesh-eating zombies. Sissies and wusses and wimps---Oh, my!

Ed Harris must be his real name. If you were aiming to be a big star, is that one you would choose?

Heard of Desilu, heard of True Value, heard of tiramisu, but never of Tuvalu.

Union dues and scabs---nice pairing. Same with Sputnik and Desoto---explorers both.

Flight crews who commute from home to expensive airport hubs like New York often rent short-stay apartments that as many as 10 share to hold down costs: 'Crash-pads' in airline jargon.

Probably the best 90 or so minutes $2.50 can buy. Terrif.


Bird 9:26 AM  

I haven't done the CW puzzle yet, but I found the letters/numbers game:

12 S of the Z
8 P in the SS
13 S on the USF
32 DF at which WF
18 H on a GC
90 D in a RA
200 D for PG in M
8 S on a SS
4 Q in a G
24 H in a D
1 W on a U
5 D in a ZC
1000 W that a P is W
29 D in F in a LY
64 S on a CB
40 D and N of the GF
12 O in a P

Good luck & have fun! Solutions will be provided tomorrow.

Loren Muse Smith 9:32 AM  

I agree with @Rex – most of this cluing played more like a (difficult) Saturday for me.

The fact that my first answer and nifty toe hold was WHAT A GUY is a testament to its spot-on, absolutely perfect clue! After WHAT A GUY and SOFT G, I came to a complete standstill. I, too, was reluctant to put MONA, SCAB, and DESKS in because it was Friday. Clever, clever, clever to clue’em so easily in the midst of all the other tough clues.

To me, if you flip one “lid,” you wink, not BLINK, but to put “lids” would have given it away.

@r.alphbunker – I flirted with Tom Hanks for 38D, too, but being a Friday, I didn’t go there.

Like @Rex, I wanted something that you’d have instead of a beverage – milkshake? Frosty?

Because of CARTA, I wasn’t expecting STREETMAP, and that hesitation held me up in the NW for a long time. That and the fact that I’ve never heard of ZOE Caldwell or that ZIRCON was December’s birthstone kept BUZZKILL hidden. Before KNEW, I had “love,” “made,” and then “hate.” I like the pair of BUSTED and I KNEW it!

Early on, I had “swell” before PERIL, thinking ocean waves and feeling all smart and smug.

@ ACME -I always think WARSAW ends in u!

@bird – at first glance I see signs, stars, quarts, and hours.

CRASHPAD, BUZZKILL, BUSTED, FAT JOE, I’ll echo Andrea: WHAT A GUY, Josh. . . Great puzzle!!

jackj 9:33 AM  

Z’s attract Z’s so when ZOE’s (easy) “Z” signaled that it needed a gem also beginning with “Z” to join it, it had to be a ZIRCON.

Couple those paired Z’s with a weird article in Yahoo News today that touted Mitt Romney’s name as an “Internet BUZZKILL”, (that is, use of his name was guaranteed to keep people away from one’s web site) and then, all of a sudden, disparate pieces of information inexplicably joined to jump start this solve.

And what a solve it was! Clever cluing, especially with “Local money?” seeking UNIONDUES and “Resting place, informally” begetting CRASHPAD, Mr. Knapp let us know early on, (as he also did with BUZZKILL), that this was not going to be your father’s favorite crossword and, as a quasi-dinosaur, it was to be my problem as well.

But, with DESKS here and DESOTO’s there, MONA Lisas and LAKERS, SPUTNIK and REDLABEL, PFC and EDHARRIS, (and even a crossword deke of a clue, looking for a SOFTG), there were enough known knowns (as Rumsfeld liked to say), to help ferret out the known unknown crosses of pop culture.

The end game involved adjusting my answer for “Intermittent” to PERIODIC (after a lengthy flirtation with SPORADIC) and taking a chance that the only known 5 letter tree that began P-P- - must be the PAPAW and only then did the final piece fill in with WHATAGUY, which seems an apt phrase of praise for Josh Knapp.

Excellent puzzle!

Howard B 9:36 AM  

Yeah, the Madonna song was a bear to unravel.
I'll go against my usual style and abridge Wikipedia here:
"...In the United States, it debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 singles survey at number fifteen the week of March 2, 1991 and eventually placed at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. It was certified gold by the RIAA on May 24, 1991."
So it was not a smash hit as far as charts, a minor hit in general, and though certainly not a hit in the Madonna library, the clue is technically valid.

Personally, I do remember that song getting a bit of airplay in the early '90s on commercial top-40 stations (ubiquitous in the NY-area). Those stations adhere (then and now) very closely to top-40 pop, dance and R&B playlists only. (Don't have those stations on the presets anymore).

JeffS 9:50 AM  

Tom Hanks/ED NORRIS absolutely killed me. Literally wasted half of 15 minutes in the SW.

The other backbreaker I had was lOngG instead of SOFTG. That and cma for TVA led to gambia for TUVALU which in turn led to MORPHEaS (I don't know how they spelt it). Yeah, that was a trainwreck too.

Jeremy Mercer 10:06 AM  

@GLR - You convinced me. But then I'd vote for the ballot of specificity/accuracy every day of the week ...

Two Ponies 10:11 AM  

I haven't looked at Rex's grid, write-up, or the comments yet. I just sat down and these clues are... crazy.
A tree I've never heard of
some Act
who's Judah?
a reality show? never watch them
newtons and algebra
Parliment's end, bet it's ash
some news guy
some king and a witch
a character from the Matrix?
In the downs I see an actress, a director, Madonna, a rapper, and a book of the bible.
I might be back later but this looks grim.

Lindsay 10:12 AM  

Tuvalu gets in the news because it's the first (?) place on the planet that will disappear as sea levels rise. Very low lying. Which doesn't mean I could remember how to spell it.

I started with SPUTNIK and UNION DUES then skipped around a bit, but no real hangups apart from a sporaDIC/episODIC/PERIODIC evolution in the NE.

Blake Griffin 10:13 AM  

Hey, there's another team that plays at The Staple Center. We made the playoffs. We have stars.

Oh well, that's a fact known to about 0.01% of the general population, and about 1.3% of avid basketball fans.

Martin 10:15 AM  

"Intermittent" has two meanings. "Intermittent wipers" are a common car feature. They would be very annoying if they wiped at random intervals.

burtonkd 10:20 AM  

I am glad the intermittent wiper on my car is periodic. Had to look up Tuvalu and zircon. Everything else fell in place

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

Thank you @Rex. I feel much better about how hard this was.

Also, I love that pic of ED HARRIS. He must be using Rogaine....


Matthew G. 10:31 AM  

Definitely Challenging. I got nothing in the north half on the first pass, and my first entry was actually TIRAMISU (somewhere along the way I learned that it meant "pick me up"). Ended up doing the south half of the grid first, finding it Medium-Challenging, and then returned to the north which was Challenging. Wound up with a whole slew of wrong-but-plausible answers in the NE, particularly, because I wanted BRAIN rather than FLESH.

Loved the puzzle, and agree with Rex that it should have been a Saturday, but that's not a complaint. Two Saturdays in a week is fine. As it was, it was my longest Friday time in ages.

Only nit is that I have it on good authority that zombies eat only brains. As one famous zombie said:

All we want to do is eat your brains /
we're not unreasonable -- /
I mean, no-one's gonna eat your eyes!

--Jonathan Coulton, "Re: Your Brains"

Two Ponies 10:46 AM  

Well, I'm back and I was right.
This was a horrible DNF.
Not enough gimmes to even get a decent start. Too bad because some of the answers were cool. Just outside of my realm.
I thought pawpaw was the way it was spelled. And what the hell does midrib have to do with main vein?

Carola 10:48 AM  

Well, this took me an age, but I loved it, once I got going. For a long time, all I had was EDOM and MONA and a couple of things that turned out to be wrong. Guessing ZIRCON off the O in EDOM got me BUZZKILL and I was able to go from there. DNF, though, as I thought the sweet spot was a COOKIE bAR (you know, like a juice bar).

This puzzle seemed so original to me - besides BUZZKILL, I loved BUSTED and WHAT A GUY and CRASH PAD. We've got the LUMMOX to go with "Well, DUH," a STREET MAP for WARSAW, and if we're flying coach to TUVALU, we're going to be complaining about LEGROOM. Lots to love!

Thank you, Josh Knapp!

Two Ponies 10:48 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Was cruising until I had WHATAGUY and PERIODIC and wrote in TREACLY instead of KITSCHY. Is treacly even a word?

Smitty 11:15 AM  

Great puzzle!!!

I've never been so happy to be pummeled for well over an hour.

Evan 11:18 AM  

So, so many write-overs today. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the puzzle. I thought it was a fun challenge. But man, I can't remember the last puzzle where so many of my first guesses turned out to be wrong.

Like many others, I too fell into the sporaDIC/episODIC/PERIODIC vortex, except there was one additional possibility torturing me: OFF AND ON. Finally settling on the correct answer at 11-Down was a whole puzzle unto itself.

But it didn't stop there. I first had stARES instead of GLARES, Ary instead of ASH (as in, a suffix for Parliament-), tESts instead of DESKS, LEAPT to instead of LEAPT AT, UNION feES instead of UNION DUES, and SEE instead of DIG. And like @Matthew G, I really wanted BRAIN instead of FLESH.

As a whole, that northeast corner was really, really tough -- just so many clues that made me second-guess myself. @Rex and others noted that MONA was a tough answer because it seemed too easy for a Friday (but ended up being correct anyway). I'd argue the same was true for RIOT at 22-Across. Sure, we've all heard the phrase "read someone the riot act," but the capital A on "act" gave me serious doubt. I was initially looking for some piece of famous U.S. legislation, but nothing came to mind.

(As it turns out, the Riot Act was originally a 1714 Parliamentary law designed to quell riots in Great Britain, which I didn't know. I doubt that prior knowledge of such history would have helped me much, though -- a four-letter word with nothing to clue you except "___ Act"? Could be almost anything.)

Finally, I have to object a little bit to the clue on BED. As someone who has a history of being a messy slob, I can tell you for a fact that a person's BED is not necessarily made every single day -- and you'd probably hear the same thing out of quite a few male college freshmen. Unless it's an idiom of some kind that I'm not understanding? Like, to "make one's bed and lie in it," meaning that you create your own problems every day, so you have to live with the consequences of your actions on a daily basis? How philosophical of the NYT puzzle!

Evan 11:29 AM  

Captcha game! Who wants to tell me what this one is? It looks like a radiation symbol, or maybe a three-bladed shuriken.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

But turns out it's a *beverage* that is a substitute (for another beverage) (CREAMER).

Actually, Rex...

Non-dairy CREAMER is a powder, not a beverage.

notsofast 11:41 AM  

I dug the hip words! And "blink" gets four stars. Hated "softg" "Tuvalu" also sucked.

chefbea 11:44 AM  

Too tough for me. Nice to know what tiramisu means. Think I'll ask the server if he/she knows, the next time I order it.

Very hot the rest of the country.
@Acme..welcome back.

Captsha= goose again

davko 11:44 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
davko 11:46 AM  

Lots to like in this grid, but ultimately stumped by my ignorance of TUVALU (49D), aggravated by guesswork on 59A, which I thought just had to be TSA (wrong!).

Only misgiving about this puzzle was at 61D, where I thought it was inappropriate to use a similar article (LES) as that which pertains to the clue's contraction, L'Express.

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

Saul and the Witch of Endor = famous story in the old testament. See ! Sam 28:6-25.

I thought Book before Phil was badly clued, as it implies the one just before (Titus) which didn't fit. Ugh! Then it could be anything from Gen on!

Jeff 11:53 AM  

Rex, you were probably remembering the Taft-Hartley Act (which regulates labor unions and still gets some press today). Also, Sputnik *means* "fellow traveler," so I thought that clue was really clever (if tough).

miriam b 12:02 PM  

SPUTNIK literally means "fellow traveler" - a thing (nik) which is with (s) a path (put). S-PUT-NIK.

miriam b 12:04 PM  

@Jeff - I guess we posted simultaneously.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

Took a long time to finish - took a couple breaks. Some errors slowed me down - was thinking TRAIN FARE instead of UNION DUES for 21A. Yuri Gagarin's name came up at work the other day, so, with the penultimate I in place in 15D, in went GAGARIN. KITSCHY nixed that. Yes, I was a few years off on the events.

Until a few years ago, I hit the cookies a little (okay, WAY) too often, so, in my case, the COOKIE BAR/FAT BOE crossing made perfect sense.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Buzzkill? Give me a break.

Mel Ott 12:23 PM  

Nice tough Friday puzzle. The difficulty came from the cluing rather than from obscure answers - a good thing. A good way to spend the morning in the AC while it's about 95 out with an air quality alert.

Clues like the one for SOFT G get me every time. Grrr.

Is that 'a' in the phrase "read the riot act" usually capitalized as it was in the clue? Of course it was a deliberate misdirection to make me think of an Act of Congress, but was it totally fair? At any rate, it was gettable, and that's what counts.

Lewis 12:28 PM  

Lively answers, tough solve, needed Google, and thought, THIS is a NYT Friday! I even loved SOFTG. Bravo, JK!

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

Got everything south of "Duh" and "bed." NW & NE completely blank (except for Mona, of course). I also wanted BRAIN, thought it was PAWPAW, never heard the phrase CRASHPAD, and LEAPT AT seems a British spelling of LEAPED AT. (Sigh) I sometimes feel I'll never be able to do the challenging ones.


Sparky 1:16 PM  

Could not get an eyelash hold on this. Though I did have SCAB and thus avoided the Tom Hanks trap.

Now, seeing the answers, really quite lovely. I thought fruit spelled pawpaw and I thought it is a shrub. Sigh.

Wednesday, though I had Jack Warden and do remember him, I still had Jack Gilford's picture in my mind. Another actor with a long career. He was The Skinny Genie.

Evan 1:18 PM  

@Mel Ott:

See my comment above re: the Riot Act.

John V 1:53 PM  

Big time DNF, combo of late night flight, crazy work, etc. Got NE and SW, NW a complete blank. Foozler? C'est moi.

Bird 2:15 PM  

Just not on the same page as Josh today and DNF. I only got a handful of intermittent answers, none of which gave me a decent foundation to build on. Thought most of the cluing was Saturday level. Looks like I’ll need to start working on my CW skills, but as someone said recently (yesterday?) – I’m one of those solvers who do the puzzle after reading the paper. After seeing the completed grid I thought a few of the clues were great, but most were a B-I-G stretch.

Didn’t remember ED HARRIS was in Apollo 13. Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise and Bill Paxton came to mind so I confidently plunked down Tom Hanks. Damn.

On the periodic vs. intermittent topic: I don’t see what the fuss it because Josh was doing a lot of stretching today.


GILL I. 2:23 PM  

This was hard!!!! Started last night and sorta finished this morning. I had as many ?? as Josh Knapp had " ". Never heard of the word BUZZKILL and doubt I will ever use it. CARTA for Tourist buy in Mexico? What's that? a letter??
FATJOE - who he? Loved TIRAMISU (where's @foodie?) KITSCHY and MORPHEUS.
KNEW TUVALU right away since, as @ACME and @Lindsay mentioned, that beautiful little island has been in the news often.
@Lindsay, it's purportedly the first *inhabited* island that will most likely disappear. I saw a documentary on either "60 Minutes" or "National Geographic" showing how this nation - made up of coral atolls and reefs - is slowly being consumed by the sea. The salination of their soil is ruining their crops and drinkable water. Sadly, the constant flooding has become such a huge problem that the government has been making plans to possibly evacuate the entire population of over 12,000. The problem - according to the report - is Global Warming.
To continue with the Huh's...I thought Gump became a SGT.? I really wasn't crazy about that film but I loved Bubba..."I wanna go home."
Well John Knapp, thanks for making me feel like a LUMMOX - but I had fun.

Unknown 2:47 PM  

Pierre says:

tough but fun. Since Saturdays are still almost impossible for me, I'd say this one was a good Friday (tough but still doable).
Had a few gimmes (ZOE, TIRAMISU,WARSAW) but that's it. I kept confusing Appolo 13 with The Right Stuff..
RESCUE ME is off a Best Hits collection, not one of Madonna's albums so it took a while. Definitely a minor hit, but it has a nice beat and you can dance to it... I did.

Have a great week end!


pk 3:24 PM  

Wanted Buzzkill so badly for 1A, but knew it couldn't be right. So I wrote it in the margin (in pencil) to remind me to mention it to you guys in hopes of cracking you up at my stupidity. But THEN, tentatively confirmed the two Down Z's (both unknown to me even tho my birthday is in December) and still couldn't believe in it.

So moved over to 9D - PFC, a gimme, and 15A - Flesh, also a gimme. Only tree I could think of that started with P was Pecan, so I put that in, which gave me the A for Astonish (12D). Pecan was not correct, of course, but the P and A were. There is no EL function on my cell phone (I checked), so that fixed that.

Same problem with Piano/Pianist as others - thought the Piano was set in Pawpaw, or someplace like it.

@chefwen, also loved Cookiejar and Tiramisu!

Try singing Tuvalu, Tuvalu, Tuvalu to the tune of Figaro, etc. if you want to have a fun puzz geek experience.

Kudos, JK, a fantastic puzz! I think that makes it pretty much Anonymous on this blog.

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

Hey @Pierre - nice reference to the recent Dick Clark puzzle. The only time I danced to a Madonna song was with my girlfriend and it was a slow dance.

pk 3:28 PM  

Or maybe you could try singing Tuvalu to the tune of Rescue Me.

JK and I are not related, btw. dk, neither.

JenCT 3:48 PM  

@Evil: "Heard of Desilu, heard of True Value, heard of tiramisu, but never of Tuvalu." LOL

I have NO memory at all of that Madonna song.

Tried JA RULE before FAT JOE (same # of letters.)

@Mel Ott: SOFT G - those get me every single time too!

Got SUMAC just off the S - don't remember how I know that.

@Anon. 11:38: there are plenty of non-dairy liquid creamers in the refrigerated section.

Had to walk away from this for a while & come back to finish.

Carola 3:58 PM  

@Evan - Thank you for the reference to the fascinating article. I've been using "read the riot act" for years, without having any idea that there really was a Riot Act - that really had to be read! Thanks also for the musings on BED :)

JenCT 4:03 PM  

@Sparky: Apparently, the fruit known as PawPaw is   Asimina triloba; whereas PAPAW is Carica papaya and is commonly known as Papaya.

Something new for me, too!

Martin 4:32 PM  


Both the papaya and Asiminia triloba are called pawpaw and both are also spelled papaw. The clue narrows it down to the latter.

Its (annona) family produces many custardy fruits that are eaten. The sweetsop and soursop are two, both grown in Central America. Soursop nectar (sold in cans in Latino markets as guanabana) is a wonderful drink. The king of the family is the cherimoya, whose fruit tastes of banana, pineapple and mango. It's grown in California now and if you see one in the market, do yourself a favor and try it. It's ripe when it has a slight give, like an avocado. I've made cherimoya sorbet and it's wonderful too.

mac 4:43 PM  

Wonderful puzzle. I had Tom Hanks as well, What a guy without crosses and finished the whole thing without help, although it took a long time. Need a nap now.

JenCT 5:15 PM  

@Martin: those sound delicious! Despite common name usage, though, I still stand by my earlier post.

Anonymous 5:17 PM  

@Rex, you know Dennis Leary resembles William Dafoe more than Ed Harris. They both have hair and a gap between their two upper front teeth. Ed Harris almost never shows his teeth in his pictures. Also, my wife likes Ed Harris (I think he has blue eyes like mine) and can't stand Dennis Leary. I'm not sure if she knows Dafoe at all. Next time Ed Harris is in the puzzle I suggest you get a picture of Phil Harris. He and Jack Benny were contemporaries and Phil was on Benny's show before he had his own show.

I cannot believe the captcha is geek ti 11....


miriam b 5:33 PM  

My late husband told me that his mother, who hailed from Warrensburg, Missouri, in the Ozarks, used to sing Way Down Yonder in the Pawpaw Patch. See this website:

Can you say "truly rural" three times?

eorgton: a prehistoric monster resembling a dysphoric toy donkey.

lawprof 6:30 PM  

My first take on this puzzle: nothing, nada, zilch -- until I got to 26A ____Lisa. Thought MONA, nah, too easy for a Thursday, so I continued on down. Still nothing. I was frantic that I might end up with a complete bagel, so I did enter MONA -- just so I'd have SOMETHING, even if it was wrong. Then I spotted 4D ZOE, which gave me BUZZKILL, which led to ZIRCON, and then it was off to the races.

My favorite puzzles are those that at first appear impossible, then you get a tiny toehold, then another, and bit by bit it all comes together. Sort of confirms one's faith in persistence: if you keep at it long enough, it'll fall (like the room full of typing monkeys eventually writing the Bible...or the works of Shakespeare...or whatever).

In the end, though, after coming here, I discovered an error at 59A/49D: TpA/TuPALU. I was thinking "Tennessee Pingpong Association" -- yes I was. And Tupalu's application to join the U.N. is still pending. I mistakenly thought they'd been admitted last year, but China's threatened veto is apparently holding things up.

Anonymous 6:38 PM  

@miriamb - I spent almost three years in the USAF at Whiteman AFB and during that time we lived in an apartment in Warrensburg, MO, about ten miles due west of the base. Warrensburg is not in the Ozarks. It is about 50 miles east of Kansas City. Actually it is a college town with a very nice park and tennis courts where we spent many hours playing with the local residents. It is a very nice community that at that time had a Dog 'N Suds drive-in, where we would eat out after our first son was born. We would go play bridge once a week in Cliinton, 20 miles south and that is part of the Ozarks. About 20 miles east is Sedalia where the cattle trail once ended and from there they would ship the cattle to the Chicago stock yards.

I believe the Ozarks are further east and south.

We would return to the Chicago area for vacation and spend a week at my father-in-law's cottage on Little Paw Paw Lake, Michigan. Nearby there was Big Paw Paw Lake. That was many moons ago and until today's puzzle I never knew a Paw Paw from a Papaw....


lawprof 6:45 PM  

Errata: (1) meant Friday, not Thursday; (2) TUpELO, not TuPELO.

Addendum: I was thinking Zoe Wanamaker all along. Wrong actress, right answer.

michael 7:49 PM  

Very enjoyable puzzle, more medium than challenging for me. Had episodic and sporadic before periodic (which, as others have said, doesn't seem quite right). And also had Tom Hanks until I vaguely remembered that Ed Harris was in the movie (which I've only seen parts of).

Both the cluing and the grid were great.

Sue McC 7:56 PM  

Long day, just getting this done now. Knew from BUZZKILL that it would be fun, and it didn't disappoint.

Stevlb1 8:37 PM  

Tuvalu??? Amine??? Tough one!!!

Tita 9:57 PM  

Serious DNF.
Inexplicably put hardG at 47A, which gave me rATJOE for the rapper. Perfectly plausible.
garnet for December stone, wanted a dog or chimp, then Gagarin. Clever misdirect towards a being, not a thing.
Was just not on the right wavelength. Too bad, cause it was a good'un!
Goodnight all.
Tomorrow will be teaching my niece to sail - my 14.5' sloop amidst the hundreds of Saturday jetskis and skiboats on the lake.

sanfranman59 12:43 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 8:48, 6:50, 1.29, 100%, Challenging (highest median solve time of 156 Mondays)
Tue 14:01, 8:57, 1.57, 100%, Challenging (highest median solve time of 157 Tuesdays)
Wed 11:26, 11:47, 0.97, 45%, Medium
Thu 15:51, 18:55, 0.84, 22%, Easy-Medium
Fri 28:21, 24:44, 1.15, 77%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:47, 3:41, 1.30, 100%, Challenging (highest median solve time of 156 Mondays)
Tue 7:05, 4:38, 1.53, 100%, Challenging (highest median solve time of 157 Tuesdays)
Wed 6:20, 5:53, 1.08, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 7:48, 9:20, 0.84, 24%, Easy-Medium
Fri 14:56, 12:15, 1.22, 83%, Challenging

Solving in Seattle 6:15 PM  

Tough, but fun and fair puzzle. Also great cluing. Thanks, Josh.

This was a slow slog for me. Got BUZZKILL off ZOE. I figured if it was wrong I was toast anyway. I wandered all over the grid trying to get a beachhead.

Ultimately, my only write over was shoaL for PERIL.

The "German leader" clue had me shaking my head. Totally on crosses I fill in SOFTG, and wondered what word it was in German... "softig" spelled strangely? So I came to Rexville. Oh, duh, SOFT G.

I owned an antique, black, 4-door, '57 Desoto in college. I think I drove it for two years without putting anything but water and gas in the beast. Great car.

Anonymous 6:34 PM  

Some days you beat the puzzle, some days the puzzle beats you.

I so wanted 34a to be TIMBUKTU. But everything that led me to TI_ _ _ISU was just too solid for me to consider the possibility of a massive re-write. But I didn't (and still don't) have a clue about TI_ _ _ISU.

I missed MS DOS because I had already talked myself out of BED (every day? not in my house. Not even in some hotels when that do not disturb sign hangs out there all morning and afternoon and night). So in running the alphabet on 3-letter alternatives I finally settled on MET, which (every day) can mean "made" in met/made ones goal. But eventually I concluded that was too obtuse to be anything other than an extremely difficult Saturday clue, and since the crosses would take me nowhere I just left it blank and finished with four empty squares.

With BED I would have seen the familiar MS DOS, leaving me with a guess at MID_IB, and it's tough to imagine anything but an R there. So in essence, this puzzle beat me because some days I don't bother to make my BED.

post script:
I just googled TIRAMISU and a Giada De Laurentiis recipe showed up. Any google that leads to Giada is a good google.

DMGrandma 7:54 PM  

Didn't finish this one. Got the top half, mainly off knowing ZOE and figuring there had to be two Z'a, guessed ZIRCON, which I didn't expect. My mother, born Christma Eve, always wore a turquoise as her stone.
The bottom half was a wash of clues outside my arena. A Madonna song, an Apollo actor, and a strange clue for PERIL on the left. On the right a rapper, some Book of the Bible, some team. Got LA, but wanted LA something, Ram, Jet, Net.....? Threw in the towel!
Still don't understand BUZZKILL. I was looking for something like "wet blanket" or "police raid". Maybe tomorrow!

Spaccecraft 12:15 AM  


BUZZKILL??????????? HUH???

LEAPTAT? Yeah, I understand it's "leapt at," But come on, if you're going to use a phrase it has to be at least faintly recognizable. No one in the history of human language ever said "leapt at" to mean "eagerly accepted." I mean, it does, but still, no one ever said it. Bottom line: ungettable.

KITSCHY? Where on Earth do you GET this stuff?

Plus, a rapper clue automatically means a Google for me--but it was just one of eight anyway. And even after rhat, I couldn't get it done. The NE just sat there and laughed at me (and had the loudest laugh, too, when I found out that after all this terrible, convoluted nonsense, that ____Lisa was just MONA after all.

You guys should just put in a solid week loaded with rap and hiphop clues (so I know when to go on vacation) and then BAN THEM FOREVER!

Dirigonzo 6:52 PM  

Started the puzzle this morning before work, finished it after work. I wanted "offanDon" for "Intermittent" at 11d, so that gummed up that whole corner for too long. Then, with only the H and B in place at 33d, I thought the referenced king must be a HoBbit (they have kings, don't they?), until SAUL came along to show me the error of my ways.

With this one finished, I LEAPTAT (sorry, @Spacecraft) the chance to start the Saturday puzzle (but you won't read how I did for 5 weeks).

Dirigonzo 6:59 PM  

There probably won't be any more comments this late in the game, but I came back to check the box for follow-up comments anyway, just in case.

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