French-built rocket / FRI 7-27-12 / Undergoes liquefaction as gel / Wearer of triregnum crown / 1984 film based on 1924 novel / South Pacific girl / Actresses Kristen Graff / Tamid synagogue lamp

Friday, July 27, 2012

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: GERENTS (16D: Rulers or managers) —

One that rules or manages.

[From Latin gerns, gerent-, present participle of gerereto manage.] (

• • •

Don't want to write much about this one, because I've said it all before. It's clear that Will has an affection for high-difficulty grids that I just don't share. The interlocking pairs of 15s that run around the grid's perimeter are a construction feat, and the fill is ... defensible, at worst, adequate at best, so ... run it. That seems to be the deal. I wish it were not the deal. But it's not my call. For me, the fill is so off-putting here that I don't even notice the 15s—none of them bounces or pops or makes me say 'wow,' so why bother? When you finish a grid and your only thoughts are "that's a word?" (GERENTS, SOLATES, CENCI) (16D: Rulers or managers; 30A: Undergoes liquefaction, as a gel; 39D: "The ___: A Tragedy in Five Acts" (Shelley work)) and "you can do that?" (LED INTO *and* LEAD-IN?) (Not to mention EASE INTO for another INTO ... not to mention MAP ONTO), I don't think you can call the grid "successful." As I was writing in "-ICIAN" I said, out loud, "man, I really hope that's not right" (26A: Suffix with diet) When ARIANE (19A: French-built rocket) went into the grid (grade A crosswordese, first thing I wrote in), I thought, "man, that doesn't bode well." More than one ILENE? OK (32A: Actresses Graff and Kristen). Will and I sometimes just have very different tastes. He seems to love this stuff. I'd sooner do a zippy Monday or even a run-of-the-mill Wednesday than sit through this again. If I have to chew on a puzzle for a (comparatively) long time, I'd like it to at least taste good.

That said, the top 2 15s are nice (15A: 1984 film based on the 1924 novel=A PASSAGE TO INDIA; 17A: Causes for some wars=DISPUTED BORDERS), DATAMINES feels fresh (6D: Finds customers from social media, perhaps), and CHOSEN FEW has a certain elegance (29D: Elite). EPISTEMOLOGICAL ain't bad either (2D: Like questions of what is knowable). It does repeat the five-letter EPIST- sequence in PASTORAL EPISTLE (3D: 1 or 2 Timothy), but the words are different enough that it hardly matters. I want to hate PHONE NO. but can't (31A: It may have an ext.). It's kind of inventive, fill-wise. LORES is LO-RES, btw (40D: Unlike HDTV screens). Someone asked me, so I assume there are others who aren't quite sure.

You've got a couple potential Naticks here, as far as I can see. I didn't know NER (!?) (24A: ___ Tamid (synagogue lamp)), so I had real I/E issues with EPISTE (I?) MOLOGICAL. Honestly, "I" looks more correct to me. If I didn't know the word "episteme," I would've screwed that up. As it was, I guessed. And I knew ARIANE from considering and rejecting it in puzzles I've made, so the cross with GERENTS wasn't an issue, but I'm guessing not everyone has heard of ARIANE, and I *know* not everyone has heard of GERENTS, so ... trouble.

I think that'll do.

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:15 AM  

Looks like Rex and I are on the same page.  Although, this was tough for me.  If I was a better speller this would have been medium-tough.  But no.  There were letters in EPISTEMOLOGICAL (yes E vs. I) that required some guessing which slowed the process.  Also starting out with EXISTEN...didn't help.  Finish it, but it took a while.  This was not typical in that some of the 15s did not come easily given a few crosses.

Stuff I did not know:  LIAT (I've seen the movie), CENCI, SOLATES, GERENTS, NER. 

Stuff I did know but am not sure how:  ADELIADES..., PASTORAL..., ARIANE.

Stuff that made me wince:  ICIAN, RND, LEE.

And, this was pretty much zip free.  About as exciting as TIREMAINTENANCE. 

syndy 12:41 AM  

Had to go after this one sylable by sylable,first putting in "S"s and "ER"s AND "ED"s then "MENT"S "ENCE"S !Then it started to break open=YALTSCONFERENCE! ACTSINDIFFERENT PASSAGETOINDIA but DoubleNaticked out at N?R/EPIST??OLOGICAL./?APONTO.I really liked=PADUAN DATAMINES PONTIFF SLEETING Rex hit the low points already

Anonymous 1:03 AM  

Not even going to mention that this is an all-time record of 17 black squares? I know you hate Joe's puzzles but damn that's cold!

Pete 1:15 AM  

So, who's up for an extended conversation about how for a professional Data Miner, scraping info from social networks isn't really DATAMINING? Anyone? Anyone?

Bueller? Bueller?

The two __INTOs really pissed me off, as I knew the second one couldn't be right, it just couldn't. It's against the rules.

Jeep 2:25 AM  

A lovely puzzle, with lovely, hip long answers. My favorites: EPISTEMOLOGICAL AND PASTORALEPISTLE. The repeat of the EPIST string was a nice touch, and surely no accident.

Some of the fill was tough, but I don't mind learning new words.

Davis 2:51 AM  

Strangely, I had less trouble with this puzzle than with yesterdays — though I think if I hadn't spent so much time trying to figure out how the ipad app wanted me to enter the magic squares yesterday, I would have had roughly the same 24-25 minute times.

I really liked EPISTEMOLOGICAL, but then I was a fan of philosophy classes in my college days. I figured this clue out early on, which gave me the hook to fill in quite a few other clues. I also happened to remember ARIANE, which meant that I was able to overlook the potential GERENTS Natick. I didn't even see this until I read your post, but now that I do I think it's an appalling piece of fill.

Also, while I know it's technically a correct alternative spelling, I thought EGIS was ugly. I've only ever seen the word spelled "aegis" in the real world, so it just feels wrong to see this.

One bit I think worth mentioning — while OMAN is a stale bit of fill, the clue for that one made me laugh out loud. So I have to put that in the plus column for this puzzle.

jae 3:51 AM  

Oops, that should be " Finished it, ... "

Jeremy Mercer 4:54 AM  

@Pete - Totally agree. I abandoned the moment I saw both LED INTO and LEAD IN on the grid. Preposterously weak and, if not illegal, definitely slothful and underhanded. Some puzzles don't deserve to be finished, just as with novels and films.

@Davis - EGIS bothered me too, especially the same week we had CURST. Would love to know what you need to do to get a 'Var.' these days.

Bob Snead 6:02 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Immediately recognized the black square record, and discovering how the constructor did it was pretty thrilling, even if the fill wasn't everything that crossword elitists think it should be.

Someday when someone constructs a 16-square puzzle, I'll love that one too, and be thankful that Rex doesn't get to decide what gets published and what doesn't.

GILL I. 6:52 AM  

I just came here to see who the gloaters are.

PuzzleGirl 7:03 AM  


r.alphbunker 7:48 AM  

I was one of the I before E people. Finished with EPISTiMOLOGICAL/NiR. My bad.

The other new words were sufficiently crossed so they ended up correct at the end. Here is a mnemonic that I hope helps me remember them. "CENCI SOLATED her GERENT LIAT in front of the SAMI".

I like this kind of puzzle and look forward to a 16.

jncody 7:53 AM  

@PuzzleGirl: you're right. Have you, like me, been annoyed by Apple's "Think Different" tagline all these years?

Agree with Rex on the dreck-y fill, but I liked EPISTEMOLOGICAL. Mostly I feel really pleased with myself for even knowing that word. I'm going to walk around the office today silently judging people who don't. Heck I might even try to use it in a sentence when I go to the deli for lunch.

Michael Hanko 8:16 AM  

@jncody: I'm betting @PuzzleGirl was commenting on the mundaneness of the phrase ACTINDIFFERENT. It's not really a "thing" because one could act in any way: ridiculous, corrupt, contemptuous, etc.

BTW, the phrase is at least correct as it appears in the grid, as it calls for an adjective complement, not an adverb, unless you are talking about acting as an activity: The guy playing Romeo acted indifferently, but the woman playing Juliet put her whole soul into the performance.

Apple's usage is controversial, I guess, because they are asking us to consider "think" in a new and different way: not that the ACT of thinking is different, but the results of that thinking.

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

Welcome back safe and soound, Rex.

Could not agree with your comments more....


pajamapartypants 8:39 AM  

IRONER: yet another one of those "add ER to a verb to get a noun" answers that seem really cheap to me.

when i first looked at the grid and saw so few black squares, i was intimidated until i started to see just how many were S...lots of plurals. again, seems cheap to me.

GERENT isn't even in my mac OS dictionary...which is usually pretty exhaustive.

and while we're on that subject, STE is a french religious title...and so might have been clued a little better, IMHO.

Loren Muse Smith 8:53 AM  

I’ll name this puzzle White Fang; impressive number of white squares but a snarling, difficult fill.

After SENDING, DENSE, LEAD IN, OMAN, and TENTED I hit a big white wall. I had five desperate S’s going up the staircase along with the S off SENDING and got all excited that the center diagonal would be surrounded by only S’s.
Early on I had ISU next to “court” (not CSPAN yet) and thought we had another U U entry.

Before GERENTS, I had “leaders” and that was after I had LEAD IN and LED INTO. I thought, “Huh?”

I was trying for some kind of abbreviation for AT BATS because of the “stats,” and I guess “woodsy” is playful enough to signal the shortened COONS? Or maybe Fridays and Saturdays don’t offer as many hints in the clues?

@MichaelHanko – “BTW, the phrase is at least correct as it appears in the grid, as it calls for an adjective complement, not an adverb” – just when I’m feeling a bit like an outsider today, I read that and know that I’ve come home here. Reminds me of my days demonstrating to seventh graders the difference between the drug dog’s smelling bad because he was dirty and smelling badly because he had a cold.

Since I’ve become a solver who, by and large, can finish a Saturday without help if I plug away at it, this is, hands down, the hardest puzzle I’ve tackled. I’m not yet, though, a solver who has the confidence to knock a work like this. I just look at PADUAN, SOLATE, SAMI, LIAT, GERENTS, CENCI, and NER, “triregnum,” “Amhran na bhFiann” and wish I were smarter.

As the dust settles over this big, fat DNF for me, aside from ICIAN, I think this is a viable albeit arduous puzzle, a rare challenge for the truly elite solvers. Joe – I give you CREDIT – you’re among the CHOSEN FEW who can fill a grid like this!

Z 8:56 AM  


I suppose TIRE MAINTENANCE is a subset of car maintenance, but it is not a phrase I can recall ever hearing or seeing. I really wanted TIRE rotation but it wasn't long enough. Between that and my general ignorance of any song name in any musical ever (even if I can sing along, I don't know the name of the song) made the east very difficult.

I was going to take issue with WIS as a Great LakeS state, but then remembered that it has a stretch of Lake Superior shore.

Mike 9:01 AM  

As a loyal Cyclone, I was excited to to see my alma mater listed in 5D. After that, though, there was no joy in Mudville.

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

@Z - Not to mention Lake Michigan

archaeoprof 9:08 AM  

It made me think. I like that in a Friday.

Z 9:12 AM  

@anon 9:02 - I was going to argue WIS is only a Great Lake state. Remembering Superior makes it a Great LakeS state.

For the geographically impaired, Michigan shares the Great Lakes with Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Ontario is the only Province on the Great Lakes. I guess the US is more into sharing than our southern (from where I type) neighbors.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

Congrats Joe K for blinding me with white space. I'm thankful I've quit trying to do stuff like this myself.

Joe D

Wreck Sparker 9:27 AM  

It is quite a feat to construct a puzzle like this and I enjoyed it a lot. Nice job Joe. It is easier to burn down a barn than it is to build one. I'm glad I don't have to work any puzzles by the crybaby commenters here.

I liked LMS's remark of a few days ago that she might turn a DNF into a completed puzzle if she weren't in such a hurry to come here and read the comments. I lost my internet connection in the middle of this puzzle and couldn't google or read the blog, so I reverted to my old tricks for overcoming a tough puzzle. I walked away several times, put some extra thought into the problem areas and finished it.

I did use my 20 lb. dead tree dictionary to get the proper spelling for EPISTEMOLOGICAL (and if you think it is "cheating" to find the correct spelling for a word then I'd hate to read your business letters).

mitchs 9:41 AM  

I enjoyed this solve, and am at the point where I just don't care about the Naticks. As in, did I conquer this puzzle or not? (That would certainly not be the case if this were in a tournament, 'course.)

The ARIANE/GERENT cross and the E in NER got me. So what?

If you've got something like "Afghanistanian duck" crossing "Belgian hat (arch)" and I don't get it, that's on you, not me.

Wreck Sparker 9:47 AM  

@LMS My earlier comment looks like I was being critical of your DNF today. Not so. I was typing away when your post went up and didn't know you DNF'd today. I simply appreciated your comment of the other day and it caused me to rethink the way I've been rushing through the puzzles lately. Sorry if it seemed otherwise.

Milford 9:48 AM  

Wow. I hope one day to be able to appreciate a tough puzzle like this. After the first pass all I had for sure was ISU.
@Z - I thought at first that you were going to defend the fact that there is only one Great Lakes state (as a motto). Honestly I put in ILL at first because MIC or MCH looked insane, and because I figured they were the most crossword-friendly letters. Love your comment re: being south of Canada. So true.

Tobias Duncan 9:50 AM  

Hand up for EPISTiMOLOGICAL. As a life long skeptic and someone who engages in a lot of online conversations about what is provable, I use this word quite a bit.You would think I would know how to spell it.

USTA is just gibberish as far as I am concerned.I asked a very sporty person if they had heard of it and they had not.

Norm 9:51 AM  

Not fun. Two thumbs down. I'd like my money back for this piece of ----.

Larry 9:59 AM  

I live in an architecturally interesting house. In fact,that's half the reason I bought it, it was so refreshingly different after looking at an endless series of center hall colonials.

All of the things that make this house architecturally interesting make it a bear to live in. I hate this damned house. I would sell it, but apparently no one else in the universe cares about architectually interesting, they care about livability.

chefbea 10:01 AM  

Tough, tough puzzle. Couldn't do it and of course DNF.

should have been acts indifferently??

Of course , noticed the shout out at 32 across!!

Z 10:08 AM  

@Tobias Duncan - "court" sports clue possible answers are NBA, WNBA, USTA. On Saturday I can imagine USHA, USS, or USR trying to trick us. Those are basketball, basketball, tennis, handball, squash and racquetball. There may be other "court" sports, but none come immediately to mind.

@Milford - to be totally candid, I read the clue and thought MICH. Looked at the grid where I already had the S and plopped in WIS and thought "Michigan is the Great Lakes State and Wisconsin only has Lake Michigan so that clue is wrong." As I prepared to type exactly that I remembered "Lake Superior." A perfectly good nit that wasn't a nit. At least I remembered Superior before I e-ranted.

three and out.

jackj 10:11 AM  

Joe Krozel produces a puzzle headed for the Constructor’s Hall of Fame with his record-breaking grid, using only 17 blocks, which per Jim Horne at XWord Info bests “the most famous record in crosswords”. (Joe had been sharing the record with Kevin Der at 18 blocks).

Congratulations to Joe on his record but I’ll likely remember the puzzle as the “Joe Krozel double trouble tongue twisting lollapalooza of a puzzle” that featured two vertical 15’s, impossible to enunciate swiftly and cheek by jowl as 2 and 3 down, EPISTEMOLOGICAL PASTORALEPISTLE.

But, there was a price to be paid for all these successes that I suspect even Joe wouldn’t challenge like IRONER and PHONENO, TENTED and SOLATE (Solute would have been unremarked), GERENTS, NER, LIAT, RND, et al.

The main solver’s lament, (and ADELAIDESLAMENT?), with the puzzle comes from the extreme lack of 3 letter words that are usually a key to solving a puzzle with multiple 15’s. Joe allows us only eight of them and that sounds like a record on its own (and made it a bit of a struggle, at times).

I have often remarked that constructors who give us puzzles meant to emphasize their talents and not to entertain their audience deserve no plaudits but, in this instance, Joe Krozel has long past “earned his bones” and it would be unseemly of me to take issue with this extraordinary achievement.

A triumph for Joe and a “thank you” to him for sharing the pleasure with us; we didn’t drive, but we rode shotgun while he chased his record.

Mark 10:17 AM  

ARIANE/GERENT was indeed a natick for an otherwise not-too-hard Friday for me.

Merle 10:25 AM  

I found this puzzle challenging. Stared at blank white spaces for a long time, wondering when it was I totally lost touch with the world. Little bits filled in easily enough -- 20 A, a three-letter gimme. 38 A, egis, which I don't think needed a "variant" alert. Egis, agis, so what? Figure it out, that's all. I got the "g" in egis from the "logical" part of epistemological. Knew the word from college philosophy class, then had a brain meltdown, and put in the logical and prayed for rain. Didn't rain -- but eventually "episte" came back to me. Didn't rain -- but it did 48 A. Shooting pellets is sleeting? Well, yes, but who woulda thunk to describe sleeting as shooting pellets? Got the Timothy 1 and 2 "epistle", but had to develop the "pastoral" from the crosses. Is looking up answers "cheating" in a Google at your fingertips age? Was that 20 pound dead wood dictionary (thanks for the phrsse, Wreck Sparker) cheating? Used to was, but now? Anyway, I had to Google for "ner" and the "conference" following Yalta. Remembered Yalta, but couldn't remember or figure out the attached word. Tripped up on 9 D for a while -- had "crows" instead of "coons", although I knew that crows are more a field and roadside scavenger than a "woodsy" one. Thought maybe Joe Krozel didn't know that. That shows me! Really really challenging. Yesterday's puzzle was challenging also -- and fun -- the double u, w share was totally cute.

joho 10:26 AM  

I appreciate Joe Krozel's feat a whole lot more than @Rex. Wow! I believe Joe had to go into a zen state to fill this grid.

I DNF due to EPISTEMOLOGICAL, PASTORALEPISTLE problems. A couple of aspirin and I'll be just fine.

Milford 10:30 AM  

Can someone please explain Shooting pellets? = SLEETING? I'm just not making that connection.

chefbea 10:34 AM  

@milford sleet comes down in pellets in the winter!!!

Milford 10:46 AM  

Thanks @chefbea. I guess I got the pellets part, but the shooting part, even as a pun, wasn't clicking. Maybe I'm just too mentally exhausted to get it!

John V 10:49 AM  

DNF here. NE and center in particular week not to be. Got 4 of the 8 15s. No possible way I'd get 12D. Never read/saw 1D, 15A. 1D/24A crossing very tough. I admire the grid and congratulate Joe on this amazing feat -- but that property of a puzzle has always seemed to me to be beside the point from a solver's experience.

@Pete Re: Datamine: that is not how I would use/define DATAMINES. I was thinking, in the context of social media, e.g. Facebook, Twitter I would want an answer that looked more like password cracking, hacking or some such.

Jeremy Mercer 10:52 AM  

@Wreck Parker - In regard to your ‘cry baby’ comment, I think it would help to understand where the criticism is coming from. There are dozens of venues for crossword puzzlers, but the Times is considered the gold standard and thus I (and I believe some others) expect the puzzles to meet a certain standard.

If you’re interested, my standard for creative endeavors is based on Harry Frankfurt’s wonderful book On Bullshit. His essential argument is that life is full of people cutting corners, and true beauty is when people devote themselves to make a thing as perfect as possible. Because life is what it is, there are few areas we can aspire to this standard. I retiled a shower and screwed up the horizontal lines at one point. Did I scrape the tiles off? Nope, I was lazy and accepted an inferior product.

But, there are place where people can allow themselves the time and space to devote themselves to the impossible pursuit of perfection. Gardens, novels, songs, cooking. And, I believe the New York Times Crossword puzzle should be a place where constructors aspire for perfection. If you have a drab or poorly clued puzzle, dump it someplace else and please respect the audience here.

The place where I believe Krozel broke the covenant with solvers is when he used two entirely similar phrases. (LED INTO, LEAD IN). It seems to me that a solver approaches a puzzle with an awareness it could be a rebus, a theme, or a themeless. I thought an unspoken rule of construction is that similar answers are a hint that a theme is in play. To squeeze those answers into the puzzle is then an unfair misdirect and aesthetically ugly.

Now, I am going to walk back my criticism of the puzzle just a little because, embarrassingly, I never realized that minimizing black squares was an objective of constructors until I joined this blog community last month. So, I guess I am impressed by the record. But, considering how truly awful those words, I considered it like a wind-aided 100-meter dash record, and the wind is an 70 mph gust.

This is getting long, but one final point. I have the deep-most respect for creatives who work under their own name, so when I levy criticism I always do it under my true name. A sign that I stand by my words and don’t take pseudonymous potshots.

Ulrich 11:02 AM  

After swallowing hard once when I saw the white-out, I put down EPISTEMOLOGICAL, then ARIANE, and never really looked back, and like @Davis, I found this easier than yesterday's--did it in one sitting. I'm not bragging--we know that different backgrounds can have huge implications on the way a particular puzzle plays out.

One question: I have no clue what the clue for MAP ONTO is supposed to mean. If I remember correctly, "map onto" has a precise meaning in modern math: A set A is mapped onto a set B if every element in B is associated with at least one element in A. Like when set A is a set of children and set B the set of their mothers, the child-mother relationship is a mapping of set A onto set B. Now what does that have to do with graphs?

Two Ponies 11:03 AM  

DNF here too.
I was so proud of myself for Paduan as my first entry (remembered because of Kiss Me Kate) and knowing the reindeer herders are Sami but some crucial spots just would not yield so I was left feeling quite 35A.

Jeffrey 11:06 AM  

@Jeremy - Do you believe anyone can "dump" a puzzle in the New York Times at will?

Because first it has to get through Will.

Congratulations to Joe Krozel on this awesome achievement!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:14 AM  

Definitely challenging for me, but I worked my way to a correct solution in something over an hour.

My first entry was NER Tamid, a gimme. But since, as it happens, I am not Jewish, I wondered myself why I knew that. Twenty minutes or so later, I realized that it is the name of the Jewish religious award in Boy Scouting!

John V 11:51 AM  

Meant to say NW killed me. Forgive my directional foibles.

Davis 12:00 PM  

@Ulrich — Good point regarding the MAP ONTO clue. Your explanation of the "proper" usage is a pretty good one.

This is one of those annoying clues where, as a former mathematician, I felt like I should know it. But then when I filled it in I was annoyed because I had *never* heard someone use MAP ONTO in the manner clued. So while this was fine fill, it was a garbage clue.

Mel Ott 12:02 PM  

This was a pretty tough puzzle for me, but I liked this one alot.

I knew PASTORAL EPISTLE (Pauline EPISTLE did not fit), but thought it might be a tad technical, even for a Friday. But I guess technical religious terms are just as good as technical scientific or methematical ones.

I was wondering if GERENTS were some kind of grammatical term related to gerunds. Nope. Learned a new word - that's a good thing.

ksquare 12:03 PM  

@JohnV with a nod to The Bard Said, in the Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio comes 'to wive it wealthily in Padua' by marrying Paduan Kate.
To others, New York is also a Great LakeS state, touching both Erie and Ontario.

Rex Parker 12:19 PM  

No zen states. Computers. Ask any constructor who has tried this. Ask the last guy who had the "record." It's a feat of database management.


Jeremy Mercer 12:30 PM  

@Jeffrey - I mean 'dump' in the sense that sometimes when you are working on a thorny presentation for your boss you just throw up your arms and dump it on her to see what she thinks.

As for Will, either:

i) even as sublime an editor as he has the occasional lazy afternoon when the cold beer calls and he decides to throw down a puzzle from a legend like Joe even if it is flawed;

ii) or, he loves Big Ideas so much that he let the record blind him to the flaws.

If it was the latter case, it's a shame, because it seems there are easy fixes.

42A: Enter orally? READ IN
42D: World's largest military airshow (acronym): RIAT or the Royal International Air Tattoo.

It's late here, 18h30, and family duties call. Plus I believe there's a 3-post limit.

With civility and friendship,


Gareth Bain 12:42 PM  

Jeremy: if you think RIAT is acceptable crossword fill ever I just plain give up. That's so far beyond the pale it's somewhere in Galway Bay...

GILL I. 12:45 PM  

@Rex - I wondered about that. I guess one of the reasons I prefer themed puzzles is because the answers usually reflect the author's personality. I doubt a database could duplicate that...

Carola 12:45 PM  

I liked the puzzle a lot, but it definitely had me feeling DENSE for quite a while. I was hesitant to write anything in (PADUAN? ARIANa?) until I got into the far SE and the OMAN/LO RES cross. From there I could see MAINTENANCE crossing CONFERENCE, and I set forth on an erasure-ridden trudge up the East coast until I saw A PASSAGE TO INDIA and the DISPUTED BORDERS, which opened up the western half of the continent.

Having been a summer camp counselor in my college years, I was curious about those campers - would they be "up late"? "scared"? TENTED was a bit of a letdown.

@Michael Hanko - I echo @Loren re your nice adjective/adverb explanation.

Do-overs: errors (AT BATS) spot ON (DEAD ON), at sea (DENSE), Ptolomy (PONTIFF - well, at least the P was right). For a while I entertained the notion that the "board" being worked on in 26D was an icon and was almost ready to believe "IcONER" (which would have been even worse than the "verb + r" entries discussed in recent days, given that there's not even a verb).

Needed every cross to get CENCI, SOLATES, GERENT.

Loved: ADELAIDE'S LAMENT, EPISTEMOLOGICAL, A PASSAGE TO INDIA (random aside - it was so good to see Judy Davis again in To Rome With Love).

V. 12:48 PM  

I never mind being bested by a puzzle that outwits me in a fair fight. I always learn something and come away with a sense of respect and delight. Grids like this, though, where it's all about cleverness of the constructor are utterly joyless.

Puzzle Hater 12:50 PM  

Why doesn't the New York Times hire Rex to mentor Will. Every puzzle, Rex finds things that could easily be fixed, or puzzle rules (that Will doesn't seem to understand or even know) that are broken. Rex, would you consider that?

John V 1:12 PM  

@Jeremy -- Neither Joe Krozel nor Will Shortz need defense from a humble bloggster such as I. But let me point out, as you may not be aware, that a) Joe developed this puzzle over a period 9 months, b) Will has puzzles test solved by at least 5 solvers, c) you ought to have a look at Will's requirements sheet for puzzles before offering up a fix which may be technically accurate but does not fit the style of the Times puzzle.

To suggest sloppiness or special treatment of a constructor is insulting.

evil doug 1:18 PM  

"I'd sooner do a zippy Monday or even a run-of-the-mill Wednesday than sit through this again. If I have to chew on a puzzle for a (comparatively) long time, I'd like it to at least taste good."

Well, that's baloney. No Monday or Wednesday compares to this. But I think the key phrase in there is "long time". You stopwatch guys don't like a singular workout as much as a land speed record.

Me? I started at about 8:00 a.m. EDT. Had pretty good luck in the Confederacy and Rio Grande, suffered an engine failure but I stayed airborne through some of the Great Lakes states but then ran out of airspeed and ideas and augured in. Quit at 10:30, took a ride, had lunch, and reengaged at noon.

By 12:30 I finally had red fine ink from my trusty Zebra F-301 in all 208 squares (and often all over those squares in what looked like bloody surgical malpractice), with two screw-ups. Tried every damn heuristic technique I could think of---namely, alphabet runs---but still ended up with logical (but not the epistemo variety) entries of nir, cap onto, and thus episticological. Sounded good to me....

You should get familiar with the Ariane missiles for when we go to war against the cheese-eating surrender monkeys, which we inevitably will. It won't be over disputed borders, but their arrogance.

Speaking of which: 'Disputed borders' isn't as fun as 'illegal aliens', but not bad.

Data mining isn't as colorful as organ harvesting.

Liked 'sideways'. That 'w' gave me Wis(consin---a Great Lakes state even if it didn't touch Superior---seriously: Did you ever hear "Wisconsin is a Great Lakes state, but Illinois is only a Great Lake state"?), Yalta, and acts.

Good Friday.


M and A against a sea of white squares 1:35 PM  

Heck of an achievement to create.
Heck of an achievement to solve, without doing "research". Not in my repertoire today. But congrats to any conquerors.

Big trouble area: NER, MAPONTO, SOLATES, GERENTS, ARIANE, and the EPIST twins. They hardly seemed... cricket.

Unknown 1:39 PM  

Like some others, I was pleased to latch onto EPISTEMOLOGICAL early - definitely helped. I tried PASTORAL LETTERS before changing to EPISTLES. More typical car maintenance tasks: OIL FILTER CHANGE or AIR FILTER CHANGE, both of which fit the grid.

OISK 1:44 PM  

I missed epistemological as well, but it cost me two squares instead of one; I had episticological , since "caponto" instead of map onto seemed to make sense. I just never thought of the "m" , and I ought to have. Difficult puzzle, but it is Friday. Missed a square last Saturday also, making this my worst week in months.

Still, I enjoy a really challenging puzzle, which this was, despite being beaten fair and square. (or more correctly, TWO squares). Well done, Mr. Krozel!


Deb 1:46 PM  

Rex, if this puzzle took even you a comparatively long time, why the medium rating?

In addition to the complaints already voiced (in particular, LEADINTO, EASEINTO and MAPONTO - ugh), I take issue with SLEETING and CREDIT. Sleet doesn't come down in pellets, hail does. If it's in pellet form and it's "shooting" down, it's no longer just sleet, IMO. And when I'm issued a CREDIT, it's usually good for something tangible, not "nothing." Am I missing something there?

Really didn't like this one, regardless of the record broken. Who cares? Other constructors. Whoop-te-do.

retired_chemist 1:54 PM  

A bear, but doable. I understand the somewhat dicey fill as needed to achieve the low black square count. Makes for a serious challenge, and I like that.

Finished with one error, which i could have fixed with a vowel run. Or a D'oh. SOLuTES/PuNES was obviously wrong but neither word came to mind. SOLATES is a new phrase to this chemist and if it were common in chemistry I am sure I would have heard it. PANES - non-puzzle wife reminded me afterwards about Tiffany lamps. D'oh.

Agree with the criticism of the MAP ONTO clue.

Fun stuff that I got with only a few crosses: EPISTEMOLOGICAL, ADELAIDE'S LAMENT, A PASSAGE TO INDIA, and a few others. SIDEWISE instead of SIDEWAYS kept the Dixie 15s hidden for a while, although *DIFFERENT and *CONFERENCE were in place. This was when *EPISTLE and EPISTEMOLOGICAL showed me the Dixie 15s and the error of SIDEWISE.

SAMI was on a Jeopardy! we watched a couple of days ago. Nice to see it again. Play it again, SAMI.

IMO all the weird, nearly impossible words (CENCI, GERENTS, LIAT, etc.) had fair crosses so no complaints here.

Thanks, Mr. Krozel. Well done.

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

episticological sounds awfully scatalogical to me.

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

I *like* crosswords where I learn something new, as I did in this puzzle. That's one of my favorite things about doing crosswords. And some struggle over long answers feels rewarding when you come up with something like epistemological or adelaide's lament or yalta conference. It doesn't have to excite me or blow me away to provide a satisfying solving experience.

Carola 1:58 PM  

@evil doug - LOL at your account of your sorties.

Lewis 2:29 PM  

I enjoyed the solve -- needed two googles. And if I enjoy the solve, of course, I like the puzzle. I like solving the 15s just looking at two or three letters. I expect some weird words. This puzzle had all that. If there are going to be eight 15s I expect them to make sense, but not to be particularly stellar. I think that's realistic.

Tom Q 2:40 PM  

This was an odd puzzle for me -- I flew through alot of it, starting with APASSAGETOINDIA, a gimme for me that quickly opened that entire section. Each thing I filled in seemed to open up another segment -- it helped that lot of the long-ies were in my personal database (EPISTEMOLOGICAL, ADELAIDESLAMENT). But then I ended up with the noted Natick (figured GERENTS was all that wold fit, but didn't KNOW it), plus was a bit uncertain on SOLUTES/SOLATES.

I was also, like many, annoyed by the overuse of LEADINTO and such-like. Don't know if I would have been before I started reading Rex; he's trained me to be alert for things like that.

Oh, and, am I the only one for whom ILENES was a snap? -- since, thanks to my wife, I've actually met both women.

TimJim 2:54 PM  

f I have to chew on a puzzle for a (comparatively) long time, I'd like it to at least taste good."
I agree completely. This felt like homework. Finished, finally, with episte ... error.

Martin 2:55 PM  


I learned about solation in an intro pchem course (and admitedly never again). I'm amazed that you never heard it in a real chemistry career.

LIAT has been used seven times in the Shortz era. I had a heavy crush on her when I saw the movie, in the Farrar era. It's fun to revisit Rex bitching about her in his fourth blog post. It's also fun to see an early commenter, confused as to why all the bitching.

Unknown 3:18 PM  

Pierre says:

I like Fridays for those long answers and today, they were great.
Loved EPISTEMOLOGICAL, ADELAIDE'S LAMENT (had to go through the whole musical in my head;wanted LUCK BE A LADY TONIGHT).



@evil doug: not a very nice thing to say about French people, but since you are evil, I get it. But be careful what you wish for!

Have a great week end!


Zeke 3:22 PM  

@Martin, @Ret_Chem - My wife is a PhD Chemical Engineer, working for thirty years in the field of Rheology, the last twenty of which have been in her own Rheology Consulting and Testing company. Her specialty is in gelation, how to achieve it, how strong the gel structure has to be to prevent its breaking down and going into solution. She was this morning writing a report discussing the Gel/Sol transition in a complicated hemoglobin system.

She reads the Journal of Rheology for fun.

I asked her if she had ever heard the term SOLATE. She said no.

Two Ponies 3:40 PM  

@ Zeke, That's a pretty strong resume. I sure don't feel bad now about not knowing that one.

Tented was the worst. Am I also sleeping-bagged?

Gareth Bain 3:46 PM  

I've mostly encountered tented in the phrase "tented t waves" a symptom of hyperkalaemia on a ECG. (Way, way beyond the pale for a crossword, of course)

Anonymous 3:50 PM  

I've mostly encountered "tented" in reference to my pants in junior high.

sanfranman59 3:56 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 30:06, 24:43, 1.22, 88%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 16:14, 12:15, 1.32, 92%, Challenging

Medium Rex? Seriously?

Geographically challenged guy 4:01 PM  

@Gareth - You made me lookup Galway Bay to assure myself that it was, in fact, beyond the Pale. Since the most interesting thing about Galway Bay is the Galway Hookers, I looked them up, I'm now on someone's watch list.

Thanks ever so much.

Wade 4:20 PM  

Three wrong letters for me--the E instead of I in the two words I shouldn't have to know, and the only sense I could make out of what I had for the "Tiffany" clue was TUNES, which makes sense if you were a Tiffany fan in the 80s, which who wasn't? That gave me MAT ONTO and SOLUTE, which are defensible. So I'm giving myself full credit.

Sue McC 6:19 PM  

Just getting this finished after a busy day trimming pots (the clay kind). Ditto to the letter jae's comments. I'll admit to being intimidated at the mere sight of the puzzle. When I started it at about 7 this morning, I believe I let out an audible "whoa". Such a lot of white space. Rex's comments are valid though...Just imagine how awesome a puzzle that looked like this would be if it had really zippy fill. But today we had ICIAN. Oh, and sorry if I'm repeating...I admit I didn't read all of the previous comments. For shame!

pioneer lara 6:34 PM  

Haters gonna hate, but I thought it was masterful!

Wie eine Wiese 6:57 PM  

I want to raise my hand in praise - I saw that grid and was immediately pleased. The feeling lasted. Yeah, there are some infelicities, but I'm not expecting a "10" on every puzzle, 365 days a year. This pushed me to think hard and rewarded me when I finally got some traction (epistemological was my friend, too). It's what I hoped for when I saw the grid. Will S. and Joe K. had my number on this one. Thanks, guys.

Bird 7:19 PM  

This was a tough one. I need a drink. At least there were no RRN or RCD.


joho 7:30 PM  

@Rex, there is no way this puzzle was strictly computer generated. When I said "zen state" I meant it. Joe had to go really far to pull this off whether you like it or not.

Sandy K 7:57 PM  

I agree with @Deb

Why the medium rating? Altho I only had 2 letters wrong in one of those EPISTO answers, this one was really tough!

I second her "ugh" with the LEADINTO, EASEINTO, MAPONTO, etc.

I don't like to hate puzzles, but I really hated this one...

May be a constuctor's feat, but this solver's defeat.

jae 7:58 PM  

@Bird -- No, but there was RND.

Anonymous 8:13 PM  


A person could develop a cold!

Ariane Cenci Mints 8:15 PM  

Whoa, after reading all the comments, I'm trying to remember even what I thought.

Sadly, i didn't even notice the record...and I'm guessing small chance @rex didn't either as he comments straight without reading anything else first (including 80+ comments!)
So i just went about filling in -Ss and -EDs.

A little EPIST at the double EPIST (so not knowing what I and 2 Timothy meant, i thought maybe he was going for aPoSTLE)
Seemed to have a religious undertone woth abovementioned EPISTLES! NER Tamid (??!!! For this jewess...tho I got ATONEMENTS),
STE, and since I thought EPISTEMOLOGICAL shared same root as EPISTLE, I'll include that.

OMAN was funny, but I couldn't believe it wasn't YEMEN. Much more Jamaican, ya mon?

and was shocked how many "Guys and Dolls" songs went thru my head, having only seen itonce 30+ yrs ago in college.
"I've got a horse right here, hisname is Paul Revere..."

Anyway, sadly the recordbreaking puzzle might be remembered in the end for the whole LEDTO, LEADINTO, EASEINTO, MAPONTO sort of thing...

But I'll say congratulations...and cool to know there is still room for improvement.

ACTSINDIFFERENT is at least more of a thing than ACTSnonchallaNT, eek on double l, which is what I desperately tried at first off the C!

jberg 8:27 PM  

Jeez, you're gonna think I'm gloating, but this was relatively easy for me. I tend to say EPISTEMOLOGICAL a lot ("that's really an epistemological issue, isn't it?"), and two days ago my wife and I stopped in a pottery gallery where the potter - a woman in her 80s, I'd guess - invited us to come hear sing Miss ADELAIDE'S LAMENT at a benefit concert. So that, with SAMI, OMAN, LEE, and EIRE gave me a good solid start, and the rest fell into place - with some difficulty, but not impossible difficulty. (Also, I grew up in WIS).

Of course I had SOLuTES before SOLATES, and Court before C-SPAN, as well as ----WArd before SIDEWAYS, but all of those were fixed by the crosses.

Note to constructors: if you don't like LO-RES, the LORES are areas in a bird's face in front of the eyes. Birders will get it right off, but everyone else will hate you if you use it.

How come the record is "only 17!" instead of "208!"

r.alphbunker 9:05 PM  

It is easier to count to 17 than it is to 208?

retired_chemist 9:08 PM  

@ Zeke's wife - thanks.

Oscar 9:18 PM  

Records were made to be broken, but it only counts if they're broken well. In my book the record still stands, and a man named Manny is still the king.

Chris 9:33 PM  

CENCI was a gimme, as I was familiar with the story (Italian renaissance family, incest, parricide, the whole shebang). In addition to Shelley's version, Stendhal adapted it as a novella and Antonin Artaud, no less, (he of the theatre of cruelty) created his own theatrical version.

No excuse for SOLATES, LIAT, and GERENTS, though the last is close enough to Sp. gerentes.

sanfranman59 10:02 PM  

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 6:30, 6:49, 0.95, 29%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:23, 8:56, 0.83, 7%, Easy
Wed 13:44, 11:47, 1.17, 86%, Challenging
Thu 24:54, 18:56, 1.32, 92%, Challenging
Fri 30:06, 24:43, 1.22, 88%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:40, 3:41, 1.00, 52%, Medium
Tue 4:21, 4:38, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium
Wed 7:42, 5:54, 1.31, 97%, Challenging (5th highest median solve time of 158 Wednesdays)
Thu 13:31, 9:22, 1.44, 94%, Challenging
Fri 15:16, 12:15, 1.25, 88%, Challenging

Anonymous 10:42 PM  

tough for me but I love this kind of puzzle.

mac 12:02 PM  

What a bear, DNF. Thought people sleeping in tents were "bitten".

Tita 9:37 PM  

@Rex - so glad you're back! Very happy to know that the lambasting this puzzle gave me was due to such poor quality... What a relief - I thought it was just my lousy puzzle skills.



Like Z, was trying to fit TIRE rotation or TIRE balancing into the grid - MAINTENANCE? Blech...

Needed puzzle husband's help, and still DNF.

@Wreck - if you're defining cheated, well, yeah...the crosses should give it to you - if not, you're naticked...admit your DNF!

@chefbea - so many shoutouts to you of late...

@John V - you of all peopl eshould be aware that hacking is no longer required - we voluntarily give away all the data anyone would ever want on our social media platforms!

@Gareth - nice pale reference...

Will 3:02 PM  

Looked a lot scarier than it was. Much easier for me than Thursday. The 15s always look impossible, but I find that with a few crosses they aren't that difficult. And there are no self-contained corners in a grid like this. One you get a foothold, you have plenty of crosses for other areas. The look of the puzzle was startlingly bare.

Dave 5:05 PM  

I'm a Ph.D. Chemical Engineer and studied gels for my dissertation. Never heard of the term "solate". This grid gets an F- and I can usually accept weird fills.

Spacecraft 1:17 PM  

Needed the Googmeister to finish this one: the NW was brutal! In addition to what vexed Rex, I think 38a (EGIS) should have included (var.) in the clue, the more usual spelling being AEGIS.

Two last-minute letter changes: I was thinking (for some unfathomable reason) "LAST ORAL EPISTLE." Yet the clue was "1 or 2..." Not to mention, wouldn't "oral epistle" be an oxymoron? Anyway, PELCID got corrected to PEPCID--and then I finally saw PASTORAL. Duh!

Then there wasthe ungettable S_L_TES. SOLUTE is a noun, but this was clued as a verb. So, was MAPONTO right? That would leave PUNES. Can't be. PINES? At Tiffany's? Don't think so. PANES? Well, window panes, I guess, but they're hardly exclusive to Tiffany's. Still, it was all I had. SOLATES? Never heard of it.

This puzzle was preposition special. LEDINTO, EASEINTO, MAPONTO. Mayhap Mr. Krozel was DOPED or WASTED when he made this one. Still, I loved ADELAIDE'S LAMENT: "A poisson could develop a cold," memorably sung by the great Vivian Blaine (who once played opposite yours truly in summer stock!). So off the hook goes any grid that brings back a memory like that.

@Diri: I quite deserved your comeuppance. I indeed had a bad day, and failed to police my post as I should have.

DMGrandma 4:32 PM  

Just caved on this one. Too many words I simply don't know (e.g GERENT, SOLACE...), crossed with expressions I'm not familiar with (TIRE MAINTENANCE, ACT INDIFFERENT without the "ly"). At any rate I suffered through about half of it and decided it wasn't worth struggling. Maybe it's the hot day. At any rate, congrats to those who tamed the beast. Can a hardly wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Jeff Clarke 9:03 PM  

I agree with two general themes: this was much more difficult than a "medium," even for a Friday, and there were some ugly answers mixed in (especially "gerents", "ner", and the "in/into/into/onto" gang. But I also stumbled into a trap that perhaps no one else saw--The Sun Also Rises was a 1926 (not 1924) novel, which was made, among other times, into a 1984 movie, and it fits into 15 across and a couple of the letters worked. I like Hemingway, but do not have his publication dates pinned down that closely, so 1924 seemed close. An odd coincidence, and it threw me for a while in a puzzle where I certainly did not need the added trouble.

Dirigonzo 9:08 PM  

I caught a tenuous toe-hold in the NE and worked my way clockwise through the grid, only to come to a grinding halt in the NW. Having ncaA for USTA and putONTO instead of MAPONTO scuttled all hope of finishing that corner. Still, I was glad to get as far as I did on a puzzle with only 17 black squares - that's one formidible grid!

Don't forget to get out and enjoy the Blue Moon tonight!

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

I originally filled in TYRANT for GERENT, which would have actually been a much more clever answer, considering how some bosses conduct themselves. But it led to some problems in that part of the grid until I realized it was wrong.

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

I'll see your "that's a word?" and raise you a bunch of others. Fought like hell to get three quarters of this done, but I was doomed the minute I decided the CONFERENCE was in PARIS. My relig. title was SIS as in Sis. Mary Elephant. The fact that I know who she is and have never heard of the YALTA CONFERENCE tells you a little bit about how I spent my schooling years.

The other thing that didn't help was entering ON P.E.D. at 34a early on, and later, after realizing the cluing wasn't right for P.E.D., switching to TONED instead of DOPED. As soon as I filled that one in I said to myself, but aren't ALL Olympic athletes toned, but that kept the O in something-LOGICAL and more importantly the R in something-MINISTRY, which had to be there for that CONFERENCE to be in PARIS.

At this point I pretty much threw in the towel, made up a bunch of words that sounded like they might be words, and a bunch more that didn't. And then I come here to find that this was only a medium Friday. That was extremely disheartening. Reading some of the comments though, it seems like I'm not the only one upset with the judge's ruling.

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

By the way, it did NOT take me three days to finish this, but I did begin working on it Saturday morning and didn't "throw in the towel" until a good 24 hours later.

Still, I feel like the last one crossing the finish line of a marathon, long after the baracades have been taken down and the rest of the field has gone home.

I am now ready for a nice leasurely Sunday Puzzle (saving Saturday for my commute).

Finally, I remember a puzzle from "Wordplay" called "19 Black Squares". Though I could see there was a ton of white, it didn't occur to me to count the black squares here, because (a) I don't care, and (b) I recall that grid looking sparser than this one. I don't remember an 18, though I must've done that one at some point.

Finally finally, the number in my current captcha is 17, and the letters look like something I had in my "completed" grid.

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