"Foolish" singer, 2002 / FRI 7-13-12 / Sir Trevor of the Royal Shakespeare Company / Neil Armstrong's middle name / Logical conjunctions, in mathematics / Chero-Cola, after a name change

Friday, July 13, 2012

Constructor: Jim Horne and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy-medium


Word of the Day: FABIAN (30A: 1950s heartthrob)
Fabiano Anthony Forte (born February 6, 1943, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), known as Fabian, is an American teen idol of the late 1950s and early 1960s. He rose to national prominence after performing several times on American Bandstand. Eleven of his songs reached the Billboard Hot 100 listing. Fabian was contracted to 20th Century-Fox; in his screen test he appeared in the same outfit that Elvis Presley wore in Love Me Tender. He appeared in more than 30 films, many of which were comedies and cast him as a restless teenager with a penchant for singing. (Wikipedia) According to his website, he is still rockin'.

It says here I'm supposed to start rambling, so here I go. Hi! My name is Joey, I'm a married geeky gal living in Southern California with a husband in the gaming industry and two freeloading cats. I'm here every day, but only lurking.

I love reading everyone's insights. Especially yours, that one time. But I usually come here right after doing the puzzle, and I'm too tired to comment. If that sounds ridiculous, you're right. It is. It's a truly annoying symptom of myalgic encephalopathy (ME), a chronic illness that nerfed me from a happily newlywed college instructor of English for deaf students down to a happily married disabled lump on the sofa. Any exertion, even mental or emotional, can knock me out for hours or even put me in bed for days.

The good news is that one highly recommended way to combat the cognitive difficulties, or "brain fog" (as a gamer I prefer "fog of brain"), that comes with ME is to do puzzles, which means my favorite hobby is also my daily medicine. I'm fond of shilling for the NYT to fellow patients.

I'm afraid the puzzle titled itself today with the very first across clue. I enjoyed the kooky grid, but was disappointed that the contents were not, on the whole, as enjoyable or kooky. The workaday cluing was parked squarely on the nose and the answers definitely "sparkled a little less" than they ought to for a Friday. Someone like Rex might even make note of the intersections of STIFLEAYAWN, BUSINESSASUSUAL, and ARUT.

The part that stymied me for a while was the name mash-up of ASHANTI, ALDEN, TAJ, and [Home of the Aztec Ruins Natl. Monument], none of which I knew. Well, I guessed TAJ but for all I knew it could have been RAJ. Let's start the bullets with the bright spots:

  • 38D: Like Bourne in "The Bourne Identity" (AMNESIC) — This filled in easily, but I had to stop and think afterwards. I can't recall the last time, if ever, I've seen the adjectival form of "amnesia" used. Perhaps I'm amnesic on the subject.
  • 50A: Trick or treat, e.g. (NOUN) — This clue was a trick, and a bit of a treat today.
  • 21A: "Don't Look Now" diretcor (ROEG) & 22A: Feature of the previous clue (TYPO) — Can you imagine my initial excitement to be blogging on the day there was a mistake in the puzzle? Can you imagine my sheepish facepalm when I reached the very next clue? A good joke and the star of the puzzle for me.
  • 23D: The heel of a geographical boot (YEMEN) — I had the Y from the above TYPO and mindlessly chucked in YALTA because geography and sports are usually where the puzzle zooms over my head. The misdirection of the "boot," which invokes Italy at first, seems more in line with a Friday NYT than the rest of the cluing.
About 37A: Some modern subscriptions (PODCASTS): I liked this one because I don't remember seeing it before, not recently anyway, and because I keep thinking about the NYT and technology. I wonder when words like FLOPPY, MODEM, and CBER will make Shortz puzzles start to seem as obscure to young solvers as a Maleska or Farrar seems to me now. Currently the NYT spans the timeline from DOS to Tuesday's AOLER, which drove Mr. Grosz into an entirely justified rage, to APPSTORE. Is it true that obsolete fill is never erased, but just fades away?

And now some bad news:
  • 55D: Target of fans' scorn (REF) — On a Friday I'd expect to see something more like "1994 Denis Leary movie". This is a Monday or Tuesday clue.
  • 56A: Lab figure who might cackle in glee (EVILSCIENTIST) — I really want this to be MADSCIENTIST. Somehow gleeful cackles seem more MAD than necessarily EVIL. Is it just me?
  • 36A: Sounds off? (HUSHES) — I often try the SAT analogies trick of imagining a sentence and seeing whether both clue and answer can respectively fit into it. With HUSHES as a plural noun or as a verb, I get the sense of the clue but I think it's semantically confused. Again, just me? It also happens to cross the second-worst offender...  
  • 27D: This bud's for you (SOULMATE) — Saying a bud is like a SOULMATE is like saying Rick Perry is just a teensy bit on the conservative side.  
  • 13D: Young, alluring sort (DATEBAIT) — This is the first time I can remember that a NYT clue has actually creeped me out. I had to Google the phrase to see what it's supposed to mean. It seems to be most commonly used in the sense of something desirable, such as sports tickets or jewelry, that will attract someone to go on a date. But the way it's clued here feels uncomfortably closer to JAILBAIT to me. Perhaps I'm missing a reference? Or maybe it's a throwback to the FABIAN era (which it happens to cross):

Thanks to Rex for trusting a total stranger with this incredibly fun gig, and thanks to a great community for inspiring me to ask for it! This post was made possible by my mother, a NYT crossword addict who used to yell at me for playing lazy words in Scrabble, and my husband Paul, who makes everything possible for me. Have a perfectly normal Friday the 13th, and a perfectly fabulous weekend.

Signed, Joey Haban, Secret Agent of CrossWorld

[Hey, everybody! PuzzleGirl here checking in with a quick announcement. You all know about Lollapuzzoola, right? It's a really fun annual tournament held in New York. This year it will take place on August 4 (that's a Saturday in August). If you can't make it to the tournament, you might be interested in the "compete from home" division. You can find all the info you need at the Lollapuzzoola 5 website, including how to register, some details on prizes, and the list of really unbelievably top-notch constructors who are contributing puzzles to this adventure. Go check it out right now!]


Sir Hillary 8:04 AM  

Wow, where is everyone?

Nice write-up, Joey. To paraphrase you, this one needed some HOLHOLDSBARRED cluing, which was sadly lacking. Too bad, because the grid is actually quite good. No eye-rollers in it, that's for sure. OK, maybe ASTR. And yes, ITALIANDRESSING is as overused as ALOTONONESPLATE. Still, a nice layout.

I have never heard of DATEBAIT, but then again, as a 47-year-old in the same relationship for 27 years, I have neither needed nor been (if I ever was) DATEBAIT since the Reagan administration. Agree the whole thing sounds a bit skeevy.

Nice breezy start to the weekend...a little too breezy.

John V 8:10 AM  

Hi Joey and thanks for a fun write-up!

A tad easy for a Friday, for sure. I had a mistake at the ASHANTI/HUSHES crossing, wanting ASSANTI and didn't have the R in ROEG filled in. And I mean Nicolas Roeg is completely new to me.

I suppose FABIAN would have qualified as DATEBAIT way back when. His was some of gloppiest music of that era, IIRC.

Happy to see TAJ Mahal in the puzzle. Grew up with his music and saw in concert once. Great stuff! PODCASTS was fun, tricky. Otherwise, much the same notes as Joey.

Jeff Chen's puzzles are fun. This appears to be Jim Horne's debut, so congrats on that!

Unknown 8:12 AM  

Nice write up, Joey. Ditto to your comments. Had dance in at 25D and got stuck there for the longest time. Just couldn't see Letbe even though detbe didn't make ant sense. Maybe I shouldn't do these puzzles at midnight! Liked mansman.

imsdave 8:18 AM  

Nice Wednesday. Some fresh stuff, but I'm really not supposed to finish sub-ten on a Friday. One erasure, bLED for FLED. No thorns. I'm assuming that tomorrow will be a bear to make up for this cakewalk.

Tita 8:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tita 8:25 AM  

Any Friday I finish correctly while it's still Thursday is fine with me.
It was crunchy enough to give me a fight, but I thought it actually had some great answers and clues!

I liked the pairing of SOULMATE and NEUROTICS.

At 22A, threw down EROR, thinking we were getting some wacky mistake theme on a Friday.
Got my a$$ kicked by the Italian boot before realizing oh - that boot - and heel, not toe.

Learned about NEHI, like clues for COAST, RTE.

Thanks, Mssrs. Horne & Chen.
Thanks Secret Agent Haban for a thoughtful write-up, even if the puzzle was sparklier for me. (I had the exact same reaction as you to DAITBAIT!)

pajamapartypants 8:34 AM  

i had the exact same questions about the SW that joey had. SOULMATE ≠ a "bud." SOULMATE = love of my life, or my everything, not a drinking buddy.

also, HUSHES doesn't quite line up with "sounds off." if HUSHES and sounds are nouns, then the clue makes no sense. if HUSHES and sounds are both verbs, that makes no sense. all that's left is for HUSHES to be a verb (plural hushes would be used only in unique situations) and "sounds" to be a verb...and that, to me, is the disconnect. anyone who "sounds off" is doing anything but being hushed. pretty convoluted cluing, if you ask me.

i wanted russian dressing rather than italian (tastes better too), and jailBAIT is by the far the more common phrase in these parts. it seems DATEBAIT would be the object with which you attract the date, rather than the date itself. catfish bait is used to attract catfish, but you don't use catfish as the bait...just sayin.

joho 8:34 AM  

Nice write up, Joey, perhaps you will stop lurking and comment more often?

I made the craziest errors that actually made sense to me! HISSES for "Sounds off?" gave me a sEX nut and a SOiLMATE! I convinced myself we talking about a flower bud and that SOiLMATE was a made up word I'd just never heard before.

I also confused DATEBAIT with jAilBAIT so cringed a bit there.

madSCIENTIST is more in the language, isn't it?

I met FABIAN once many, many years after the clip ... he was very nice. And engaged to a much younger girl.

I liked this better than Joey. Thanks, Jim and Jeff .. and congrats to Jim on his debut!

Oh, I, too, loved discovering the TYPO only to see I'd been set up!

Sue McC 8:49 AM  

Easiest Friday in a long while, and easiest "stacks" type puzzle I can recall. This was one of those puzzles that fills itself so easily that I didn't end up even reading a lot of the clues. Ditto Joey's experience with the typo. And, good for her stepping up! I am impressed and inspired.

Sue McC 8:51 AM  

Oh and for the record, I have already picked my basil and am off to make pesto. No weeding today, so no weed jokes necessary :-)

Z 8:53 AM  

MANS MAN, ROEG, and PODCASTS gave me a little trouble, which kept the BAIT half of DATE BAIT hidden. So, easy-medium here.

I, too, wanted my SCIENTIST to be mad. I was typing it in and discovered I needed that extra letter. Waited for the V to fill in EVIL. I agree, "cackle in glee" is definitely the mad sort, not the EVIL sort. EVIL SCIENTISTs like DR. NO or DRAX plot world domination, but never cackle.

Standing up for maligned clues & answers everywhere 9:00 AM  

27D There are many bid,s but the one that is for you is your soulmate.

35A - the clue has a "?", so we are ready for trickery...in this case, the opposite of sounding off. My first thought - mutes.

My nit is with 16A - that doesn't seem to jive...SNARED seems more passive- you catch someone in a trap you have left, as you sit b ack and wait - while snatching someone means you are pouncing on someone, throwing a big bag over them!

jackj 9:00 AM  

It’s hard to believe that Jim Horne, who serves as a sort of statistical Shortzian Boswell by virtue of his legendary compilation of NY Times post-1993 crossword detail at XWord Info, has never before received any credit for constructing a Times puzzle.

Thanks to Jeff Chen for showing Jim what it means to create one and not just dissect them, analyze them and record their myriad fascinations.

And, this clever duo has given us a good one, bursting with “in the language” phrases like NOHOLDSBARRED, ITSDEJAVU and MANSMAN and clever entries like COAST, HUNCH, PODCASTS and HEX.

Jeff and Jim must have had a bit of fun agreeing on the proper nouns they used in the puzzle. For example, KAELIN for the loosey-goosey surfer dude, Kato, seems like pure Jeff, (as do TAJ and ASHANTI) and the tricky clue looking for “The heel of a geographical boot”, giving us YEMEN, smells of buttoned up, classic Jim, (as do YASIR and NILE).

ASISEEIT, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship (and we’ll be the beneficiaries).

Thanks, guys!

Standing up for maligned clues and answers everywhere 9:02 AM  

...make that *buds*

I'm having a real bad day 9:16 AM  

I wish that my concept of a Real Bad Day was even close to Taj Mahal's (actually, Delbert McClinton's, but who's keeping track?).

John V 9:22 AM  

When there is a reference to bud, I feel obliged to once again annoy the entire world as follows:

There once was a lass named Anheuser
Who swore that no man could surprise her.
But Pabst took a chance
Found Schlitz in her pants.
And now she is sadder

Just sayin'

Loren Muse Smith 9:33 AM  

I didn’t find this as easy as everyone else! My two toe holds were NOUN and TYPO (both fun, fun!) and then zilch. I had “rbs” for WRS, even though I was picturing a wide receiver as I filled it in.

FABIAN over MAN’S MAN. Too funny! Liked HINT and HUNCH in the same grid, with NEUROTICS, AMNESIC, and IT’S DÉJÀ VU. Heady stuff.

I thought this was a terrific, solid fill. Great job, Jim and Jeff!

Joey, you went from lurking to leading the blog! Kudos on a great write-up. Like @joho, I hope you’ll start posting now!

Yogi 9:44 AM  

At least if you do the puzzle twice, filling in 28D will make sense the second time, as then, and only then, will it be ITSDEJAVU all over again.

Jeff Chen 9:47 AM  

Hi all!

Sorry to hear about your condition, Joey, but glad to hear that crosswords make your life better. Music to my ears.

Jim and I had a blast working on this one. If any of you in Rexland have a theme and would like help pursuing it, drop me a line at jeffchen1972 (at) gmail (com). I enjoy working with new constructors.


chefbea 10:00 AM  

Had to google a bit but it was easy for a Friday. Hand up for spelling assanti's name wrong

@JohnV ..good one

@SueMcC You can make pesto with your weeds!! I make it with anything green. Kale pesto is deelish.

Thanks or the write up Joey.

retired_chemist 10:01 AM  

Liked it. Medium.

Hand up for JAIL BAIT. My father used to use the term in the forties and fifties. Never heard DATE BAIT.

Wrote in FABIAN without a pause. When I came here, I realized I was thinking of FABIO, not FABIAN. Do we have a term for a correct wrong answer?

I liked the way the puzzle came together. Solid solving experience with lots of AHA moments.

Pet peeve - EVIL SCIENTIST. I wonder how many young potential scientists are turned away from science by this negative stereotype. Many think it's just funny - to me it is a pejorative.

With this one exception, thanks, Jim and Jeff.

Tobias Duncan 10:05 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 10:06 AM  

Theme idea: From sot to Cid: Masculinity on Parade. It's quite a manly puzzle, with (in my count) 17 real or fictional men appearing by name in the grid or the clues, with the MAN'S MAN right in the center of things. Gosh, there are even MEN in YEMEN! But 3 women did edge their way into the periphery of the grid, and then there's...DATE BAIT, along with Helen in a clue, so I'll try not to be too NEUROTIC about this.

El CID rescued me from a barren plain of white and I was able work around from there. I'm terrible at guessing long entries, and always need a bunch of crosses to see the answers, so it was slow going.

Thanks for the Friday workout, Jeff and Jim - but next time I want to see 17 women, with a femme fatale in the center :)

Joey, thanks for the "nailed it" write-up. As another member of the ME "club," I agree with what you said about doing crosswords, and, since I'm often confined to quarters, getting to do them "with" this group of commenters is a real blessing. Like others, I hope you'll comment when you can!

JC66 10:08 AM  

@Standing up for maligned clues


Tobias Duncan 10:10 AM  

Nerdy crossworder who starts her blog with MC Frontalot? Swoooooon! If that gamer guy ever treats you wrong, head out to the high desert and I will give you a guided tour of the AZTEC ruins. Actually this invite goes out to everyone.These Anasazi ruins are amazing and right in my back yard.If you come in August you can play pool with me and Jesser at the local watering hole.

Taos is nice and cool in the summer and you can visit every crossword worthy place in the county.

@retired_chemist You are so right about the EVILSCIENTIST bit.
I once listened to an interview with script doctor on NPR. He said the first thing he does is make the bad guy much smarter and dumb down the protagonist. Is it any wonder that we produce 1 scientist for every 100 graduating in China?

Evan 10:16 AM  

This was my fastest Friday ever -- and I solved it after I had consumed several glasses of wine. I'm not sure if that means the puzzle was easy, or if I need to get drunk before solving every puzzle. Let's hope that crossword puzzles don't become the cause of my future alcoholism.

Seriously, there were lots of answers for which I didn't hesitate at all. The clues on LDS, YASIR, A RUT, and WRS helped the north fall pretty fast, and in the south, REF was no problem, and neither was ELISE. I'd expect maybe either the word "Ludwig" or "für" in a Friday clue, not both, so there wasn't really any struggle there.

As I wrote over at Crossword Fiend last night, the clue on 21-Across was obviously bulit on the phnoemonen taht you can raed wodrs wtih jbmuled ltetres jsut fnie as lnog as the fisrt and lsat lerttes are in the crocect pisotoin. And it's true -- I didn't even notice the typo in 21-Across until 22-Across pointed it out.

Joey makes a really good observation about PODCASTS (and did a good write-up overall). I was just talking with my mother the other day about how some crossword puzzle answers obscure themselves over time. E-TICKET is usually clued as "Modern travel convenience," but how long will the word "modern" survive in that clue? E-tickets have been in use for several years now, so how much longer can we say that it's truly "modern"? Probably until something else comes along to replace it, like the i-Ticket, which I'm sure Apple is working on as we speak.

Evan 10:23 AM  


Are you kidding? If anything, that stereotype made me want to pursue science as a high school and undergraduate student even more! It seemed like such a devilishly fun profession. Creating stuff, tinkering with it, the possibility of making it do whatever you wanted -- how could one not cackle with glee over that potential career choice? I eventually settled on being a historian (many years later), but not until after spending my college years working as a mad scientist in the chemistry lab.

Maybe I was just an EVIL kid.

r.alphbunker 10:33 AM  

Jeff Chen appears to be the Paul Erdős of crossword puzzles.

I loved the cluing in this puzzle. Particularly {50A Trick or treat}. Those can be either nouns or verbs or maybe even something else that is four letters long.

I also liked being tricked by the YEMEN clue. A visit to google maps revealed that it is the heel of something that looks like a snowboot.

The masculine counterpart of DATEBAIT is BABEMAGNET which was used by Ian Livengood and clued as {Stud, say}

And thanks Joey for the word FACEPALM. I had not heard the term before but knew immediately what it meant. A quick trip to xwordinfo.com revealed that this has not been used in a NYT puzzle.

Two Ponies 10:39 AM  

I thought this was fun and easy.
Agree that the clue for hushes didn't quite click.
Loved the typo joke.
Thanks for stopping by Jeff. I really wish I had a solid puzzle idea so I could take you up on your offer.
@ imsdave, Welcome back.
@ Tobias, I wish I lived a little closer. A game of pool with you two sounds like great fun.
Thanks Joey for a nice write-up.

retired_chemist 10:45 AM  

@ Evan - but you didn't become a scientist, right? That speaks for itself.....

r.alphbunker 10:46 AM  

And, of course, Acme is the Pauline Erdős. Maybe they could collaborate on a Wednesday puzzle.

Rookie 10:48 AM  

Maybe I am missing something in the comments here, so forgive me if I'm having an off morning

I thought that "this bud's for you" referred to a roseBUD that one might give to a soulmate, not a Budweiser that one would give to a drinking buddy. Therefore, I found the clue both cleverly misleading and delightful.

Enjoyable write-up, Joey. Now that you've got your feet wet, I hope you'll continue to post.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

Great write-up, Joey!
Found myself in agreement with most of your take on this puzzle.
I try to STIFLEAYAWN and instead USETHEFORCE to get by each day since we are "SOULMATES" in M.E.
I find that doing the NYT X-word gets my juices going, despite feeling that I'm running on empty...
Hope to see you again and all the best to you!!

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

How about an oopsident!

Merle 11:19 AM  

Gentle puzzle. Nice for a Friday. Not too easy, somewhat challenging, doable. No Fabian-bashing, fellow solvers. Yes, he was innocuous, but hey, remember, he was an exploited teenager, a manipulated creation. "Diretcor" isn't exactly a "typo", is it, if it were written "diretcor" deliberately. So, the clue is slightly misleading. But that's just a minor quibble. Re "evil scientist" turning people off science -- in an age of TV science heroes on "NCIS" and the new show "Perception", I bet people are inspired to study science. The character of Abby on "NCIS", with her brilliance and her not really Goth but really original style, spiked dog collars contrasting with little girl short skirts, she makes science seem fun fun fun, and meaningful in its use against evil. When it comes to "mad" or "evil" scientists, take a clue from the "Star Wars" catchphrase clue and find the answer -- "Use the force". "Use the force," all the Lukes out there who should harness science for the betterment of the world.

Oldtimesolver 11:24 AM  

Nice blogging, daughter!
Taj Mahal was also a favorite of mine but I think that was before you were born. How Margaret Farrar! I don't think evil scientists cackle with glee--see "Bride of the Monster" and other Bela Lugosi movies. Date bait is a little too close to a sex crime for me to be comfortable with it. "Grey figure" was a great clue and I was totally stuck on it and "Let be" as the crosser. Dance? Nance? I never thought of lance. But how nice of Jim, Jeff and Will to warn us with One Across--I wonder if "attempt" in that clue is a noun, verb or command.

jae 11:24 AM  

Charming write-up Joey and thanks for the effort.  I know from personal experience with my bride how tough it is dealing with chronic medical issues.  That said, I liked this one much more than you did.  I thought the long answers were fairly zippy plus minimal sports...WRS and maybe REFS and LANCE and  pop music stars at each end of a half century of Rock and Roll...what's not to like?

I do agree it was (again) on the easy side for a Fri. with only the SW requiring a little extra effort.  

Hand up for bLED for FLED at first and eYER before DYER (don't ask why).  And I think Evan did a nice job of illustrating why I needed to read the clue for 21a several times before I caught the TYPO.

Didn't see any need for Natick resolution here.

imsdave 11:47 AM  

@joho - your not crazy (well, at least you're not alone). I too came very close to putting in HISSES and SEX nut, but in a brief moment of sanity, couldn't quite pull the trigger on SOiLMATE.

Forgot to mention earlier, that you should all check out the Wordplay blog. Very funny write up by Mr. Horne.

@Two Ponies - thanks for noticing. I'm always here reading, but continuing to try constructing STIFLE's my expression sometimes.

John V 12:00 PM  

@imsdave Thanks for the pointer to Jim Horne's writeup on Wordplay. Very funny, indeed.

Loren Muse Smith 12:05 PM  

@ims dave - thanks for directing us to Wordplay. For those of you who haven't read Jim Horne's write-up, run, don't walk over there to read it. Hilarious!

syndy 12:16 PM  

Two hands up-BLED&ASSANTI.DATEBAIT carried an uncomfortable Ick factor,but I enjoyed the puzzle mostly though it did fall in easy/medium time-some of it wasted trying to imagine the south coast of italy.nice Writeup ms Joey-drop us as many lines as you can!evil scientist may not cackle but i bet evilcupcakes do!!!

Masked and Amnesic 12:41 PM  

@Joey--Dang, the lurker crowd sure is an eloquent bunch. Primo job, darlin'.

Fave symmetric combo: DATEBAIT/SOULMATE.
Fave clue: TYPO's. Especially since ROEG looked like a typo.
Never Quite Got It clue: HUSHES's. Too deep for moi.
New fave constructor: Jim Horne. His pic at xwordinfo looks like van Gogh.
Old fave constructor: Friend Erul. Good riddance. (Just kiddin', E.)
Better clue for 20-D: "Whatcha ---?"
Better answers for 5-D: GOP, WTF, BFF, UFO, OMG, LOL, ZZZ, REP, RIP, ...

Sparky 1:43 PM  

So happy to finish a Friday. First entries SOT, CID. I love old favorites. Some of the clues sounded off to me such as 35A, 2D- lusts=THIRSTS, 16A as noted above.

Liked it better than Joey. Terrific write up though. Thanks. Hope you can come back again.

Off to read Wordplay. Thanks @Dave.

Hay! I second PuzzleGirl. Only three people signed up for Lollapuzzoola? Come on down. It's fun.

Lewis 1:49 PM  

Anytime I can complete a Friday without Googling, as I did today, is good. Rave reviews on Joey, and I concur. I liked the puzzle a lot, and thought it had spark. Never heard DATEBAIT before.

I like that those of use who won't be able to make it to NY can still compete in this years Lollapuzoola.

notsofast 1:50 PM  

Grade: A. Fun. Loved "ELISE' and 'LIS' on opposite ends of the bottom.

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

please what is a hex nut? another friday under my belt and on fri the 13th yet!

Anonymous 2:18 PM  

It took TWO people to come up with an easy Friday puzzle that had a LOT of crosswordese (IONE, NEHI, RTE, TSP, REB), and J. Horne was one of them?!?!)

imsdave 2:20 PM  

/ \

Best I could do anon 2:16. Odd bolt or screw head that requires a special tool.

3 and out.

Let me google that for you 2:35 PM  

@anon @ 2:16


mac 3:37 PM  

Great write-up by the marsupial secret agent! Hope we hear more from you.

Easy-medium for me, and it was mostly because the Ashanti/hushes/Alden area. I did have bled and Yalta at first, that was pretty easy to fix. All in all, I liked this one. I can't see a great difference between date bait and babe magnet. Hate the word babe. "Stifle a yawn" is funny, but I'm not sure I would start a puzzle with it!

On to Wordplay!

Amnesic Coasta Mansman 3:44 PM  

Was extremely excited to be printing out the puzzle and see Jim Horne's name on it!!!!
It is huge when blogger becomes constructor...huge!

And I'm guessing STIFLEAYAWN was tongue in cheek given Jim's many years as a critic...puzzleBAIT?

Hand up for Yalta/YEMEN geographiphobia...and for it being, in general, a tad on the easy side...except stuff I didn't know like WRS and HEX Nut and feeling cringe at DATEBAIT
(which is why all collaborations should have minimum one woman!) ;)

Mised the TYPO altogether, but then again, I would! And agree with @Masked and Amnesic (!) that ROEG looks like a typo.
(would urge those who haven't seen "Don't Look Now" to queue it up, scariest movie ever, with most gorgeous and wonderful Julie Christie, not to re-mention rumored-to-be-real sex scene with Donald Sutherland with whom she was having an affair during the filming in Venice
(I mean, what beter place!)

Good observation!!! I must be getting inured, didn't even notice the overabundance of men...YE-MEN...funny!

...and really interested in the discussion about dated technological phrases, esp since constructors are urged to make themes and fill have a long shelf life...
(and ick on KAELIN's 15 minutes continuing! But great word for a puzzle!)

And extra kudos to Joey, knowing how much exertion it takes to blog, period, that she was willing to take this on at all...above and beyond!!!

Joe The Juggler 3:52 PM  

"I love reading everyone's insights. Especially yours, that one time."

Yeah, she noticed me!

Hm. . . I think it's MAD (not EVIL) SCIENTIST, and why the ITS in ITSDEJAVU?


Very much liked TYPO. That's a nice nod to the editorial/proofreading staff, because you can't get away with something like that unless the typography is consistently flawless.

Anonymous 3:52 PM  

I so wanted it to be evilssdentist..

nice writeup, Joey.

retired_chemist 4:10 PM  

@ anon 2:16 - HEX NUT is a hardware fastener with a threaded hole and a hexagonal exterior. Or. possibly, someone who is really,really into being a witch.

Paul 4:13 PM  

Cheeri Cola became RC, not Nehi, as far as I can tell.

sanfranman59 4:17 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 18:09, 24:41, 0.74, 11%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 9:41, 12:14, 0.79, 18%, Easy

Anonymous 4:56 PM  

The first product in the Royal Crown line was Chero-Cola in 1904, followed by Royal Crown Ginger Ale, Royal Crown Strawberry, and Royal Crown Root Beer. The company was renamed Chero-Cola, and in 1925, called NEHI Corporation after its colored and flavored drinks.

NEHI Corporation later was renamed to Royal Crown Company

Anonymous 5:31 PM  

Nobody cares that we have AS in duplicate (14A & 26A)? Isn't that a no-no?

lawprof 5:51 PM  

Re: diretcor. Every once in a while, when I can't come up with an answer, or when my answer won't fit, my mind entertains the possibility that there's an error in the puzzle (kind of like the kid who drops a fly ball and immediately glares in disbelief at his glove). Does anyone know whether there's ever been an (inadvertent) error in the NYT puzzle?

JenCT 5:56 PM  

@Joey & @Carola: hand up for doing puzzles to combat brain fog (while living with MS, here).

Enjoyed the puzzle and the writeup.

Wasn't ASHANTI just in a recent puzzle?

I also noticed the typo right away, and had the same reaction when I saw the next clue!



Knew HEX nut right away - I'm kind of a tool geek.

Off to read Wordplay!

Stevlb1 5:59 PM  

I feel a little less pathetic, when I visit this website.

GILL I. 6:10 PM  

AS I SEE IT, I really loved this puzzle and didn't have to USE THE FORCE.
@joho - I too had SOILMATE/HISSES/SEX...and left it thinking it was perfectly fine. Put them all together and you get a nifty clue for DATE BAIT or an exemplar of masculinity...
Really enjoyed the write-up Joey - why don't you pull up a chair on a regular basis? And Jim Horne, Just read Wordplay and I'm still laughing. It must feel fabulous to get word that you've been published!!!! I hope you do a ton more.
Speaking of fab, that picture of FABIAN looks like his pants are hiked up a bit a la Fred Mertz. I wonder if that's what is causing him to sing with such..let's see, pain?

Tita 6:52 PM  

@lawprof...at the Westport tourney, Will Shortz read us about 6 mistakes during his tenure.
I am heaing out now, so will leave you in suspense, or perhaps others will tell.
Actually, I think I only remember 1 of them!
Anyhow, stay tuned!
(btw - I love your story...!)

JFe 9:34 PM  


Hope you feel all the love coming your way.

L, JFe

sanfranman59 10:04 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 6:03, 6:50, 0.89, 8%, Easy
Tue 11:23, 8:58, 1.27, 96%, Challenging (8th highest median solve time of 159 Tuesdays)
Wed 9:36, 11:47, 0.82, 10%, Easy
Thu 17:28, 18:54, 0.92, 41%, Medium
Fri 18:16, 24:41, 0.74, 12%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:26, 3:41, 0.93, 23%, Easy-Medium
Tue 6:02, 4:38, 1.30, 99%, Challenging (3rd highest median solve time of 159 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:21, 5:53, 0.91, 28%, Easy-Medium
Thu 9:02, 9:21, 0.97, 52%, Medium
Fri 9:31, 12:14, 0.78, 17%, Easy

Tobias Duncan 11:11 PM  

Grrr the Saturday puzzle link is glitching at the NYT site.
Is it just me???

Sparky 11:15 PM  

No, it's not just you. The message to me is "Sorry we can't find the page." Double Grrrr.

Guess we'll have to read a book.

PuzzleGirl 11:17 PM  

Keep trying. It didn't work for me several times and then all of a sudden it did. Then it didn't again. It looks like you just have to randomly time it right.

Anonymous 11:47 PM  

I understood DATEBAIT to be the lure for a date: a low-cut blouse, sultry eyes, etc. or a tshirt showing off muscles and abs, etc. never associated it with the person....

Tobias Duncan 12:02 AM  

Thanks guys finally got it.
Shout out to quilter for 1a.
Good times.

ZenMonkey 8:04 AM  

Thank all of you so much for your overwhelmingly warm welcome! I had a ton of fun doing this and I'm very glad many of you enjoyed it. I will definitely try to accept your invitation to cease lurking.

About KAELIN, I kept meaning to get around to mentioning it, but every time I started I was whisked back in memory to the OJ trial and the hellacious pervasiveness of that Fabio-haired excrescence. And then the shakes and moaning started up again so I just let it go.

(In truth I liked the clue for its likely obviousness to people over a certain age and obscurity for those under.)

Special happiness to my fellow fog-fighting solvers!


I before E 1:35 PM  

Thought you would be interested that in the syndicated version, the "typo" had been corrected, probably by an automatic spell-checker, so the second clue was meaningless.

boardbtr 1:56 PM  

From syndi-land. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch apparently took it upon themselves to "correct" the "typo" in 21A. It came out "director", which might be considered a typo if one knew what the original sequence of letters were supposed to have been.

Spacecraft 2:39 PM  

The TYPO im my paper was not "corretced--" but I still missed it the first four times. Fact, I despaired of finishing the middle at all; was logging on to blog my failure, in fact, when all of a sudden I saw it. And then I saw it all. Of course: DO IN! It just hadn't occurred till that last moment. MANSMAN: well, I thought that was, like, a valet--but I guess that's more properly gentleman's gentleman. Anyway, finished clear, but I wouldn't call it easy. I didn't know ASHANTI at all; had to guess at it from crosses. Had ___DEJAVU, but for a while didn't know what could be stuck in front; turns out it was just a prosaic ITS.

I liked that the AMNESI(a)C Bourne is being chased down by a bunch of NEUROTICS. Not-so-YAWNy a Friday for me, thank you.

These capchas are getting worse and worse! Help, I truly CANNOT READ them!!

DMGrandma 2:46 PM  

Got off to a muddled start because I wanted to spell STIFLE with two "f's" - as I've said before spelling is not my strong forté. Other than that I seemed to be on the constructor's wavelength, and things I could only vaguely recall (ASHANTI, KAELIN, FABIAN) seemed to drop into place. Could not believe ROEG was a word, and resisted DATEBAIT for a long time thinking the NYT wouldn't allow it. It is what my mother would have called "smarmy" and brings to mind those who work the street corners at night.

@Evan. To me an E-ticket means the Disneyland ticket that was good for the really big attractions back when all the rides, etct., required tickets. How time flies!

@Diri. If you didn't get my late night note yesterday, go back and pick it up and Bob's address for the ACME video. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Solving in Seattle 2:51 PM  

Enjoyable solve with almost no cheap fill.
Had bLED before FLED.
I guess there are at least three variations of spelling Arafat's first name. Yasir is Arabic for severely beaten with an ugly stick.
Wanted to cram an extra 'a' in AMNESIC.
Have never heard of DATEBAIT, but got it on crosses.
How about King Felix! Perfecto!

Anonymous 2:58 PM  

I stared at that TYPO clue forever trying to figure out where the Typo was. Turns out the typo was corrected in my local paper.

A typo is an accidental typing error. Since both cases presented here (diretcor and director) were spelled that way intentionally, neither can truly ne considered a typo. Now see, THAT (ne) was a typo(but you'll have to take my word for it).

I would have accepted "apparent feature of the previous clue". Or a question mark.

eastsacgirl 3:21 PM  

Wasn't surprised to see the easy-medium rating as I didn't struggle too much with a Friday puzzle. Actually got the stacks pretty quick. Fortunately my paper didn't correct the TYPO but still took a couple glances to see it. Had the DATE part of DATEBAIT but hand up for never hearing of. All in all was a satisfying finish.

JenCT 3:36 PM  

@Spacecraft: Have you tried making the captchas larger? On Windows PC, try Ctrl + You might have to do that a few times.

On my iPad, I just drag it until it's readable.

Not sure about Macs.

Waxy in Montreal 4:24 PM  

Like @joho and others,also had the SOILMATE/HISSES/SEX combo. I'm from the Fabian generation but was still creeped-out by DATEBAIT and its clue. Guess it's NOHOLDSBARRED for the old gray lady now.

Anonymous 5:16 PM  

I know my crossword cities, and I know my standard crossword clues, but I am so bad at geography that I actually made a mental "note to self" that Yemen is in Italy. I was so proud of myself for finally making the effort to learn this.

Then I come here and discover that the boot reference was a "misdirection."

So I just hope I can unlearn that before some day deciding to visit Italy and proceeding to research flights to Yemen.

Waxy in Montreal 6:22 PM  

As well as YEMEN, there's more 5-letter "Y" geographical entities than you might think, among them YSTAD in southern Sweden (home to the fictional Inspector Kurt Wallendar), the YUKON Territory in northern Canada (home to the equally-fictional Sergeant Preston) and YALTA in the Crimea in Ukraine (venue of the famous WWII conference). Not sure how many other than YEMEN qualify as boots...

Anonymous 7:11 PM  

I did the puzzle in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. They CORRECTED the typo!

Dirigonzo 8:25 PM  

I had some creative mistakes that complicated things for a while: My QB targets were tes (tight ends) before the Wide Receivers showed appeared, the IOU was a debT before CHIT, the fans were yelling at the ump instead of the REF, Dean Martin's persona was a raT (as in the Rat Pack) before it was a SOT, and I thought "isflat" was a really good answer to Sounds off? - in fact I still like it better than HUSHES. But it all worked out in the end.

Kudos to Joey for expending the time and energy to produce a primo write up.

@DMGrandma - I couldn't get the video to play last night, but I'll try again. Have you seen ACME's "How can I help?" stand-up routine on youtube? There's a link in a post on my blog - it's wonderful! (ACME's performance, not my blog.)

Dirigonzo 9:58 PM  

@DMGrandma - I got the link to work by switching browsers; that is truly a wonderful video. I'm going to try to post it, or at least a link to it, on Dirigonzo's Place just so I can go back and watch it from time to time.

Special thanks to @Bob Kerfuffle for providing the link.

It's wonderful to see so many syndi-commenters, old and new, on here today!

Anonyrat 10:09 PM  

@Z - Re: "EVIL SCIENTISTs ... never cackle." Not true - Dr. Doofenshmirtz does.
I'm afraid to ask, but all you folks who thought SOiLMATE was an answer, what is a soilmate? Is that an "adult baby" thing?

HC Visigoth 1:35 AM  

They fixed "diretcor" in our local paper (SF Bay area) as well. Grrr.

Tita 4:14 PM  

How hilariously ironic that some papers corrected the false typo! I would have thought that they take puzzles at face value. Maybe they simply scan all text...

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP