"24" actress Cuthbert / FRI 8-10-12 / "Do-Re-Mi" singer / Pale-green moths / Fastskin maker / Kate who was the 2012 Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model / Caterpillar bristles

Friday, August 10, 2012

Constructor: John Lampkin

Relative difficulty: Easy-Peasy


Hi, everyone. PuzzleGirl here again with you for your Friday puzzle. Now this is more like it, right? This puzzle seemed super easy to me. I didn't actually time myself, but I know I didn't start right at 10:00 and I was done by 10:19, which is pretty damn fast for me on a Friday. So if you were looking for something that would put up a fight, you might have been disappointed. Or maybe today was just my lucky day and this puzzle was a bear. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure today is not my lucky day because I have a toothache and the last time I had one that felt like this I ended up having a root canal. Ugh.

Lots to talk about. Let's start with my trouble spots. Right off the bat I wanted GUN FIGHT where SHOOT-OUT was supposed to go (1A: Western highlight), but I only had to check a couple crosses to see that wasn't going to work. I tried FOALS for ROANS (22A: Some colts), which I believe is wrong in several ways. I was thinking COLT was the generic word for a young horse and FOAL was the word used for females, but actually FOAL is both generic and female, and COLT refers to males. (Gareth, please jump in here if I've fouled this up even further.) Seems like most of my missteps were up in that corner, which is where I also wanted GUT for TUM (5D: Belly). Understandable mistake.

Not a fan of the word ORIENTATED (4D: Set right). Like COMMENTATED, it seems convoluted. To be fair, I think COMMENTATE has a more specific meaning than COMMENT these days, but I'm not sure the same is true for ORIENTATED and ORIENT. Discuss.

I really liked the clues for the crossing KO'S (25A: Belts in which stars are seen?) and ORION (26D: Stars in which a belt is seen). I also enjoyed the trickiness of (51A: Army outfits) for BRIGADES. I was definitely thinking clothing. Highlights in the grid for me include:
  • HARRUMPH (15A: Protest pompously)
  • I'LL GET IT (57A: Cry before answering)
  • THE ROYAL WEDDING (8D: Instant-book title of 1981 or 2011)
What else?
  • 9A: "24" actress Cuthbert (ELISHA). I'm pretty sure she played Jack Bauer's daughter. I knew her name was common but with an uncommon spelling. First thing that came to my mind was LIZBETH.
  • 17A: It's in the neighborhood (ESTIMATE). Have you all seen "Midnight Run"? You know how a lot of people have a "Seinfeld" line for everything? For me, it's "Sports Night" and "Midnight Run."
Jack: How much is in here?
Jon: Neighborhood of $300,000.
Jack: That's a, tha t's a ... a very, uh, respectable neighborhood.
  • 24A: People's Sexiest Man Alive after Swayze (NOLTE). Hard to believe at this point, isn't it?
  • 31A: Comcast Center athlete, briefly (TERP). I totally didn't get this. And it's funny because Doug Peterson clued TERP as a "Cole Field House athlete" in a puzzle not too long ago (Washington Post Puzzler maybe? Can't remember) and I thought "Why does that sound so familiar to me ... ??" Oh yeah, because I went to the University of Maryland. Not getting this one is understandable though, because the Comcast Center wasn't built until approximately 100 years after I graduated.
  • 42A: One of a pair in "Popeye" (PEE). Here we go with the "literal letter" clues. See also HARD G (45A: Start to go?).
  • 14D: Half-and-half half (ALE). What's the other half? I was thinking coffee.
  • 33D: Hit ___ run (A HOME). If you were looking for a clunker, here it is.
Sorry to end on that note, but that was actually the last thing on my list to talk about. Thanks for hanging out with me the last couple days. With any luck, Rex will be back tomorrow.

Love, PuzzleGirl


jae 12:09 AM  

Pretty easy for me too PG. Top half and SW very easy, SE easy-medium, so easy over all.   That said, a very zippy (I was sold at HARRUMPH) solid, enjoyable Fri.  Nicely done Mr. Lampkin. 

Only erasure was the rHo, cHI, PHI trio and I actually had forgotten PHI from a previous puzzle encounter.  Speaking of which I did last weeks LAT Fri. just before this one and it was quite helpful. 

I was tempted to put in SeveR for 1d.  


Oh and, yes PG, ELISHA  played Jack's idiot daughter. Her current series is Happy Endings, which for a Friends rip-off isn't too bad.  Snappy dialog. 

Rex Parker 12:43 AM  


Good puzzle. Pretty easy, except for 45A: Start to go, for which I had RARIN' ...


Fav. answer = TAG YOU'RE IT.

Back tomorrow, jetlag or no.

Thx, PG


Evan 12:45 AM  

Pretty fun puzzle -- I'm a big fan of the clue for SALARY CAP ("Top sports figure?"). I originally went for ------ CUP, thinking it had to do with bras. Not sure what would have fit there if that were the case. WONDER CUP?

Also, does the clue for 37-Across need a question mark? It seems unnecessary to me. It's a pretty straightforward clue and doesn't really have a pun or other wordplay associated with it, except that "Massage message" is a bit of playful alliteration and each word is only one letter off from each other.

Evan 1:06 AM  

Also, @Rex, I'd be interested to see if you had any thoughts about Will Shortz's recent letter in which he described what he needs most for new puzzle submissions, and what he'd welcome in Sunday puzzles.

Others can read that letter here.

Brian 1:19 AM  

First sub-10-minute Friday in a while, and on the iPad no less. Quite easy indeed.

syndy 1:30 AM  

I think my clunker was NOTDO but I liked a lot of this one; WHALED as a verb-it was my first thought but I waited for it! I got the names on crosses,NOLTE did not leap to the mind. GELEE must be what the guy sayig HARRUMPH uses!

Jim Walker 2:19 AM  

Easy but clean. How long ago was Nick sexy? Liked clues for ALE and SPADE. Need more heft for Saturday. Long trip ahead.

chefwen 3:26 AM  

Easy Peasy, you betcha! Any Friday that I can finish Google free is a walk in the park. Two write overs, opt out over ELAPSE at 21D and gut before TUM at 5D.

We rented a house near our property while we were building, after we moved into our new home Nick NOLTE rented the house we vacated, I think he was here filming. Anyway, ran into him a couple of times, I can describe it as scary as the picture Puzzle Girl posted.

Speaking of Puzzle Girl, I will miss you, I have always loved your write ups. Miss the updates on the Puzzle kids and Puzzle Mate. Please stay in touch.

Eejit 3:46 AM  

I always thought ORIENTATED was the English version of oriented. Maybe it should have been "set right in Leeds" or something.

Andrea Cetera Mimosas 4:57 AM  

Easy, but one of those puzzles that "speaks" to you in a big way:


I wouldn't throw Nick Nolte out of bed... well, not if it were circa 48 HRS and he brought crackers.

Still not a fan of the PEE/HARDG kind of clues, but big fan of the PG kind of writeups!

Hand up for SHEAf/fOALS


JenCT 5:39 AM  

Found the top easy; the bottom, not so much.

Favorite answers were LUNAS and SETAE, of course! Did you know that adult LUNA moths don't even eat; they don't even have mouthparts!
Luna Moth

I loved Nick NOLTE back in his "Rich Man, Poor Man" days - remember that show?

Clark 6:05 AM  

I tried "HAVE A" for 45A Start to go. The 'H' seemed to work so I hung on to it too long.

Here's the 411 on 'orient' vs. 'orientate':

"These two verbs, drawn from the same base (French orienter 'to place facing the east', originally used of the placement of churches) have developed the same extended sense 'to familiarize with or adjust to new surroundings or circumstances'. The shorter form arose in the eighteenth century, the longer in the nineteenth. Orientate is sometimes criticized, but it is fully standard and has been used by a variety of major authors, including W.H. Auden, Margret Mead, Tennessee Williams, and Aldous Huxley. It is probably more common in England, while orient seems to be the preferred form in the United States.

Robert Burchfield, for many years the Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, has written that 'I have decided to use the shorter form myself in all contexts, but the saving is not great. And one can have no fundamental quarrel with anyone who decides to use the longer of the two words.' "

This comment was by some guy named Leif Thorvaldson. I found it on a wesite called wordwizard.com. Personally, I hate the sound of 'orientate', but to each her own.

Jeremy Mercer 6:07 AM  

@jae - I was getting ready to harrumph over GELEE too, but then I searched 'gelee' in Amazon beauty products. Apparently it's quite the cosmetic rage.

Loren Muse Smith 7:09 AM  

I feel so smart! Breezed through this one with nary a(n?) HARRUMPH. Agreed – that KOS/ORION cross was fun because of the similar clues. I also liked the SATIRE/HAR and LUNAS/SETAE crosses.

ORIENTATED and NOT DO weren’t GEMs, but I wouldn’t call them STINKERs, either.

As @Acme pointed out: the one-two punch of PEE right above HARD G! I guess I’m in the minority on those literal letter clues. Love’em.

I was stunned when NOLTE fell; I was all prepared to joke that I entertained NOLTE briefly before filling in the real answer!

A Half-and-Half is what I call a Black and Tan?

After TWENTY ONE MIMOSAS, NOLTE had a NEAT IDEA, STRIPped, donned a SPEEDO, and went WHALing.

Good fun! Thanks, John.

jackj 7:50 AM  

John Lampkin is a composer, musician, piano teacher, photographer, constructor of delightful crossword puzzles, Renaissance man, lover of life and pursuer and promoter of fun who believes that, “Life is too short to do stuff that ain’t fun”.

While this is only his second NY Times puzzle, those of us who also do the Patrick Berry Chronicle of Higher Education puzzles and the Rich Norris edited LA Times crosswords are quite familiar with John Lampkin’s ability to provide intelligent, often quirky, sometimes complicated and always fun, solvable, memorable puzzles.

To give some insight into his style, in his first (other) NY Times puzzle, John’s theme was changing CH to J with a seed entry of “Athlete who has pigged out on snacks at a bar?” for JOCKFULLOFNUTS.

Today we get a themeless puzzle and followers of Mr. Lampkin probably found it quite accessible by just entering answers that might seem outlandish to straight-laced solvers unfamiliar with his work but are almost gimmes to Lampkinites like STINKEROO, HARRUMPH and TAGYOUREIT. Continuing on in the solve, you’ll eventually set eyes on what was probably John’s seed entry and certainly is reflective of his basic philosophy, THATFEELSSOGOOD.

Enjoy! This is primo puzzling from one of the cleverest constructors working today.

(No, I’m not his agent, just an unabashed fan).

orangeblossomspecial 8:01 AM  

We played Kick the Can when I was a kid. Everyone 45D so the person who was 'it' had to find us.

Someday I hope to compose a puzzle with only clues such as "15A: See 32A" and "With 17D, a 21A". I'm not a fan of combination clues.

36A: Mary Martin was in the original Broadway production of 'The Sound of Music', in which MARIA sang Do-re-mi".

joho 8:20 AM  

@PuzzleGirl ... I felt like you got inside my head with your write up! I agree with everything point you made. I even visualized that gruesome NOLTE pic. But not the adorable pug shot!

And, yes, this was super easy for a Friday but most enjoyable, too.

Thank you, John Lampkin, for this delightful offering which was anything but a STINKEROO.

Unknown 8:39 AM  

Still love, love, love Nick Nolte. He should have won the Oscar for "Affliction."

Milford 8:43 AM  

I'm not yet at a point where I'm going to call a Friday easy, but a medium Friday is great for me! The left all fell easy, the right took a more time and a google (ALISHA).

For MIMOSA, I first had MIkaSA - a brand of crystal, maybe glasses that were holding punch?

Literally LOL at the NOLTE clue. I believe Mel Gibson also held this coveted title, and look at him now. Maybe it's a curse.

Aleman 8:44 AM  

In NYC, if you order a half and half, you get funny looks. I order it: half Bass / half Guinness.

There is a reason for not calling it
a Black and Tan:

Black and Tan as a mixture of two beers is not a term commonly used in Ireland due to the association with the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force, nicknamed the Black and Tans.

evil doug 8:50 AM  

Had 'spear' for 1D, leading into 'parrump_'---and I thought, is this a "Little Drummer Boy" thing happening here?

Loren: If you find yourself in a true Irish pub, I think you're supposed to ask for a half and half. My quite Irish optometrist told me that 'black and tan' has some bad connotations relating to an English massacre of his people. And if you ask for a mimosa, they'll toss you out on your ass....

Just finished a good bio of Ben Bradlee---"Yours in Truth"---with much of the tale naturally focused on Watergate. "Operation Gemstone" was the Nixon team's series of dirty tricks by G. Gordon Liddy and his hapless burglars, eventually tied to the very top of Nixon's White House staff and the prez himself.

Peter Cetera was the bass player and one of the singers in Chicago. When the heart of the group, lead guitarist and bluesy singer Terry Kath, tragically died in an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound while screwing around after a party, Cetera's role increased. But he was a weak replacement, and Chicago---whose remaining and newer members have continued to enjoy success over the decades---was never the same.

I've taken a Tums (a Tum?) for an upset tummy, but I've never called my stomach a 'tum'. Probably never called it a tummy, for that matter---ugly little word.

Think we had 'ersatz' the other day. Fun word. But the whole puzzle seemed like an ersatz Wednesday to me. No way I can do a Friday in 15 minutes, but I beat that this morning.


retired_chemist 9:00 AM  

Nicely done, PG! Re FOALS - I reasoned that all colts are foals (at least early on), hence the clue "Some colts" ruled out that answer. But one might not refer to an older colt as a "FOAL," so maybe that is incorrect reasoning. Anyway, it led me quickly to ROANS, so all was well.

Lots of fun in this one - most has been mentioned. so I won't. had 56D as RHO (semi-random Greek letter) with no confidence it would stay. Its H gave me WHALED but SPEEDO set me right.

All the crosses pointed to TERP for 31A but I was expecting a pro team, so I was surprised when I saw it was right.

Thanks, Mr. Lampkin.

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

Just want to commentate that orientate is patentatedly mistakenated.

Lindsay 9:25 AM  

I figured fOAlS for "some colts" was fine because foals grow up and then they become colts running in the Kentucky Derby, for example.

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

My husband helped with YAZ and I failed with stinGaroo. But it was enjoyable!

Horsey Guy 9:50 AM  

All newborn horses are called foals. It's only later, when one takes the diapers off and gender differences become apparent, that one starts to call them colts and fillies.

JFC 10:00 AM  

Memo to PG: If you have a few vodkas before doing the puzzle it is never easy peasy.

PS. I liked the pic of Sigourney Weaver from ALIEN having a bad hair day.

Had SHOW DOWN before SHOOT OUT and I'VE GOT IT before I'LL GET IT.

Liked the puzzle. Liked the writeup. Will miss PG. Dread reading Rex with jetlag....


jberg 10:24 AM  

You guys are making me feel bad. I got it eventually, and enjoyed it for that matter, but it took me a long time - I just wasnt on the right wavelength. I had SHOwdOwn before SHOOTOUT, the aforementioned fOAlS (sharing retired-chemist's reasoning), ted before YAZ, good IDEA and then NiceIDEA before NEAT IDEA, act I before ROLE - and generally just had a hard time getting a foothold. I think it was partly my technique. Whenever I got stuck (3 or 4 times) I would notice that there was a big area where I had not looked at the downs, and those generally proved my salvation. If I'd done it sooner, I might have found the puzzle easier.

The thing about literals is that they work by surprise; if you have too many, people come to expect them, and they lose their effect. Two might be OK, though, because you (or at least I) are figuring that you've already had one and there won't be another.

On ORIENTATE: yechh! Burchfield may have edited the OED, but is notorious for revising Fowler's MODERN ENGLISH USAGE, much to the worse, after poor Fowler was dead and gone, and couldn't stop him. In what Fowler called 'the war between idiom and analogy,' Burchfield was on the wrong side.

Puzzle Girl, great writeup! I hope we see you again soon!

Matthew G. 10:29 AM  

Great puzzle, and mostly easy, but I flailed a bit in the SE, as I did not know GELEE or SETAE and took a long time to remember LUNAS.

I also slowed myself down by guessing that 20A was going to be NOT ____, such as NOT TO PRY. That T gave me THE TOY ___ to start the long down clue, and had me trying to think of fairy tales and such.

My views on THE ROYAL WEDDING are those previously expressed by Rex. But I admit the clue on it was good today.

The cluing today was awesome in general. I really look forward to more John Lampkin puzzles.

Carola 10:30 AM  

Finishing such a pleasurable Friday puzzle - THAT FEELS SO GOOD! Not easy for me, though. Had no idea about ELISHA, UPTON, or CETERA, so had to get/guess them from crosses; I did know NOLTE from the same clue in a previous puzzle. Do-overs: fOAls, RENTer, Hee, Shore (for STRIP).

SATIRE eluded me until the very end, as we'd seen PIECE as an answer in Tuesday's puzzle, referring to a gun, so for this "piece with bite" I was looking for an actual weapon rather than a literary one. Oh, I also entertained a food angle - but "slice of key lime pie" was way too long. Can't believe how long it took me to get the PEE and HARDGD - I'm up to those tricks, except when I don't remember them.

@jberg - Same here on wishing I'd looked at some of those Down clues earlier.

ROSES for you, John Lampkin, for a puzzle replete with one NEAT IDEA after the other.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

Orientated is not considered proper English in the USA. I always cringe when I hear people say it on TV. Usually used by people with other major grammatical faux pas. Oriented is the correct usage.

r.alphbunker 10:40 AM  

The SE gave me trouble {Strange} was eerie and weird before I got ALIEN. Puzzled over the quotes of {"Rock"} for a while and did not know LUNAS. Had Sock ItTo before SLAM INTO and mgS instead of GTS. Had I done this on paper that area of the puzzle would have looked like a hurricane hit it.

A computer program that attempts to simulate solving on paper will have to make erasing messy somehow.

Two Ponies 10:45 AM  

Easy Zambezi here too.
NE put up the most resistance since I've never seen 24 and the two cross references took some thought. Over-all good in the end.
My little dirty mind's first thought on Massage Message was Happy Ending? Must be from living in Vegas.
For half-and-half I was thinking dairy products.
@ Clark, Thanks for the info but orientate really puts my setae up. Just like when somes wants to axe a question. Yuck.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

TOTALLY agree!

BigSteve46 10:49 AM  

"CETERA" and "PHI" did me in: two answers I simply did not know. Thinking that "PEI" might relate to either the architect or the linguist, and that a "SSM" as say, a Sicilian Single Man, might work, allowed for an equally reasonable "SEALED" for the anti-PETA guy with the harpoon. Oh well, these kind of days at least make me think of Kurt Vonnegut, and "so it goes ..."

BigSteve46 10:52 AM  

Can someone tell me what the purpose of this incredibly annoying "Please prove you're not a robot" crap is?

If your vision is not 20/20 or better, its really a chore. Are aliens or terrorists attacking a xword puzzle chat line?

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

were NEAT IDEAs with some oomph...

hazel 10:56 AM  

Was an easium for me, as some clever sub dubbed a puzzle recently. Fantastic grid. Never heard of "backsies when playing tag - the version(s) i grew up with included Kick the Can and German Spotlight - the goal of both was not to get caught ( and to stay out as late as possible - as these games were only played after supper).

@pg that pug dog picture is hilarious because i actually had FATIGUES before BRIGADES for army outfits - which made me wonder how fatigues got their name.

Loved it.

Sparky 10:58 AM  

Had pot before TUM, tee before HAR, and amore before ROSES. Romeo was from Verona, right? Caught on to HARDG so I am learning something from coming here.

Knew it would be rated easy because I finished it. This was a good week for me. Thanks Puzzle Girl for your cheerful write up. Thanks John Lampkin; @jackj said it all.

GILL I. 11:07 AM  

I knew I would enjoy this puzzle as soon as I started reading the clues. Loved Massage message?
@Andrea Cetera has my list of favorites too..
My biggest slowdown was 9D where I had Parody instead of ERSATZ. And for NO REASON, I wouldn't let go. NOLTE (who he?) and YAZ got me ORIENTATED.
I did have a huh next to 41A IMED. Never heard that before.
Good write up PG; loved the pug. Now off to enjoy the day- it's supposed to be around 106 today but hey, it's dry heat!

Sandy K 11:08 AM  

Was easy-Zambezi for a Friday for me, but even so, THAT FEELS SO GOOD!

Thanks, PG for another fun write-up!

I remember Nick Nolte in his breakout role in "Rich Man, Poor Man." Peter Strauss was supposed to emerge as the star, but hunky (at that time) Nolte stole the show.
He was still pretty hot in "The Prince of Tides." But now...o

Sandy K 11:14 AM  

Sorry for that last o
Left-over from yesterday's x x o
Or is it too soon?

evil doug 11:32 AM  

Two Ponies,

So my wife and I are having dinner with my daughter and her husband, and he mentions he had some massage work done at the chiropractor. First words out of my mouth, just before the brain engaged: "So, was there a happy ending?" My daughter laughed. My wife didn't have any idea of what I was talking about....

What happens in Vegas....


Two Ponies 11:45 AM  

@ ED, Ha! Great (and evil) minds...

Tobias Duncan 11:51 AM  

@Two Ponies, One of those happy ending places opened recently in Taos. For those who have never been here, this is a VERY small town.The massage place is right on the main drag, there is no way in hell you would ever get away with parking there. You might as well post"Going in for a quick tugger" on your twitter feed. The whole town rubbernecks like crazy hoping to catch something gossipworthy but alas its always Texas plates :(

GenJoneser 11:55 AM  

So nice to see such positive feedback for Mr. Lampkin's most recent NYT entry since his first was received here with much less praise. I enjoyed this puzzle...perhaps with one BOSOX exception :)

Unlike @jackJ though I am more than a fan of Mr. Lampkin. He was my piano teacher and I sang a little with his trio a long time ago. He taught me how great jazz is and I introduced him a bit (I think) to pop music of that era (Boz Scaggs comes to mind) Such fond memories!

Keep the fun puzzles coming. And yes, Mr. Lampkin, I still practice at my piano as often as I can.

John V 12:26 PM  

Got it okay and was fun. Didn't start until 10 -- a.m that is -- as USAirways got me home at 1:00 a.m. -- weather, maintenance. Get this one: we almost got put off the plane because the pilot's seat was missing a headrest. Not making that up..

Fav spot: YAZ/ERSATZ. That was cool.

A Pilot 12:28 PM  

@John V - The missing headrest is a serious problem, all jokes aside. Supposed he crashed into a mountain, you want him to get whiplash? Pilots are human too, damn it!

evil doug 12:51 PM  


The MEL---Minimum Equipment List---is a strange and wondrous tome with hundreds of detailed pages covering everything you can imagine, and many things you can't, on an incredibly complex machine.

The MEL is an agreement among the FAA, the aircraft manufacturer and the airline on what systems, switches, gauges, external panels, etc, have to be operational---and if it's okay to continue operation, any special procedures that have to be followed to ensure safe flight operations.

It covers the gamut from the radome on the tip of the nose to the aft lavatories. It explains how much tire cord can appear through worn treads before it has to be replaced. If one fuel pump is inop, which other pumps have to be operational, and what must the pilots do to manage the fuel balance? If the automatic pressurization system is inop, how high can I fly with the backup? And, yes, do I really have to have that headrest?

You occasionally read about an airline receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for operating an aircraft 'unsafely'. Usually it's because somebody overlooks that headrest, the FAA discovers the logbook mistake, and every flight since the original write-up adds to the bill.

I'm mostly surprised that the pilot admitted the cause of the delay. I'd only describe it if it was one of those things that would leave passengers saying, "Hell, yeah, don't go without that being fixed...."


John V 12:55 PM  

@A Pilot: In the end, we flew without it. Again all kidding aside, I'm getting a bit concerned about USAirways maintenance. Last 4 weeks: 3 tire issues, including nail in front tire, missing headrest, toilets not working last night. Few weeks ago, missing log book. A321 is a nice plane, but they seem to be really pushing them. All this on LGA-CLT route

Pete M. 12:58 PM  

The thing about PEE and HARDG is that they both could have used the same clue (Start to go?).

Gareth Bain 1:03 PM  

What everyone said: foal = baby horse. colt = baby male, filly = baby female, although those latter terms extend all the way to 4 years of age. What the horsey guy said is also true, although if you were asked if your foal was a filly or a colt what would you say?

Horsey Guy 1:16 PM  

@Gareth - When it was a colt I said it was a colt. When it was a filly I said it really didn't matter, it was a good mover and natural athlete. When it was a colt and I had it gelded, I muttered my apologies to it as I was crouched over, clutching at my own crotch.

jae 1:17 PM  

I has occurred to me (with some prompting) that people unfamiliar with the HBO series The Newsroom might have thought I was referring to another Will in my initial post yesterday. Just to be clear I was referring to Will McAvoy, the news anchor character played by Jeff Daniels in the series. Sorry for any confusion.

syndy 1:39 PM  

@BIGSTEVE46;I used to gripe too until one day a robot got past the sentry! tryed to recruit us for some job scam. I realized the utter necessity of the captha and have sucked it up ever since! p.s. reading glasses are available at fine and not so fine stores everywhere!

John V 2:00 PM  

@bigsteve46 and @sydny: Control|+ is your friend (at least on Chrome) to make the captcha easier to read.

Joe The Juggler 2:09 PM  

"Orientate" always reminds me of an ad-campaign by a line of lawnmowers that tacked "-izer" onto the names of its various devices resulting in such abominations as the "Thatcherizer" and the "Mulcherizer".

It also reminds me of the way the East Campus exchange student spoke in John Barth's "Giles Goat-Boy". IIRC, at one point he cried, "Rapenesshood!"

JFC 3:22 PM  

It sounds like nobody here has heard of Agatha Christie's sequel "Murder on the Orientate Express."


Anonymous 3:37 PM  

orientate =verb
orientation= noun
orient =verb
oriention= noun ??

Stevlb1 3:46 PM  

T"A"RP and STINK"A"ROO! I'm an idiot!

Bird 4:23 PM  

Smooth sailing until I SLAMmed INTO the SE corner. Needed to do some research on moths and caterpillars.

Instantly put in TOUCH BLACK for 31D, but started changing letters when the crosses didn't make sense. What a mess. Also had PLATOONS at 51A and FOALS.

Like the clue for 40A and 61A. Liked HARRUMPH as it reminds me of one of my favorite movies, "Blazing Saddles".

GELEE is French for gel and and ugly word. Oh, and so is ORIENTATE. Ugly that is.


skua76 4:27 PM  

I certainly enjoyed it, a breath of fresh air (and great words) for a Friday! Harrumph! That feels good! Thanks John, and thanks PG for the writeups.

@hazel, I never heard the phrase "no backsies" when growing up in Ohio, although we played lots of tag and similar games in the neighborhood. Our term was "no tagbacks."

Carola 4:34 PM  

@JFC - I like the title for the sequel! Does it feature grammarians driven to violence through usage errors?

@Anonymous 3:37 - Way back when, I thought the verb that went with "orientation" was "orientate," so would say things like "I need to get orientated." Then, through some mortifying incident which I have repressed, I learned that I should have been saying "oriented." Today disbelief struck when ORIENTATED was correct - I had ORIENTedto for a long time, until the SALARY CAP made it impossible.

JFC 4:46 PM  

@Carola - You recall in the original everyone had a hand in the killing so no one person would br blamed. In the sequel a group of English professors from SUNY colleges traveled by Amtrak to the West Coast for a puzzle convention and while on board created a puzzle. At the end of the trip the puzzle was submitted to Will Shortz who immediately decried it and fingered Professor Sharp as the culprit for murdering the English language....


Anonymous 4:52 PM  

I have no beef with the words "ORIENTATE" or "commentate". The only one of those that I really 'ate is "coronate", though it will probably show up in a puzzle and I'll find out it has been standard English since the Plantagenets.

Ruth 5:05 PM  

I hate Surveil. And Surveilled. "We had to surveil the suspect." Seems icky.
Not completely sure this is relevant but it's in the back-formation category.

Loren Muse Smith 5:10 PM  

@Ruth - I don't know; I get pretty enthused about surveil. ;-)

hazel 5:36 PM  

@skua - but it seems sort of obvious that there'd be no "backsies" as otherwise 2 people are just standing there tagging each other back and forth! Where's the fun in that??

I guess i am forgetting the kid perspective where the common playground retorts "am not" "are too" can go on for quite a while!

skua76 5:49 PM  

@hazel, I agree, the idea is the same, the terminology is different. Our local name for hide-and-seek was "1-2-3 on the fire hydrant."

Perhaps we shouldn't mention playground retorts, I don't recall many of them in NYT puzzles lately, but now we'll probably see one tomorrow :)

Lemonade714 5:59 PM  

A pure pleasure to share John Lampkin with the NYTimes solvers, he is a steady delight at LAT, as well as being all the amazing things jackj said.

mac 8:30 PM  

Anyone know if Peter had a brother called Ed?

Easy until I had to deal with NE. I got stuck. I did not like 10 and 11D referring to other clues/answers and I never heard of Elisha.

That NE corner made it a good Friday for me. Thank you Mr. Lampkin.

Tita 8:58 PM  

@mac - too funny...

I normally don't time myself, but today I sat down, after a week of many missed puzzles, and said - let me take 10 minutes to start Friday. 19 minutes later I was done!! No errors, no googles! Aren't I smart?

THAThitsthespOt works well too.
And fat was half of my half-and-half (love that clue) for a while.

Knew that our JenCT would slam down LUNAS and SETAE. I've seen some astonishing moths lately, including the Pandorus Sphinx and the Bird Poop Moth.

Thanks Mr. Lampkin and Ms. Girl.
(Sorry I didn't get to meet you at Lollapuzzola.)

Loved reading all yer comments today, too, all you commentators...
(btw - what's the consensus on Incentivize and Utilize?)

syndy 9:09 PM  

@JOHNV WHOOHOO! thankyou so so!

sanfranman59 10:03 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 6:20, 6:49, 0.96, 22%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:49, 8:57, 1.10, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 10:42, 11:47, 0.91, 30%, Easy-Medium
Thu 12:05, 18:52, 0.64, 3%, Easy (5th lowest median solve time of 162 Thursdays)
Fri 17:47, 24:38, 0.72, 10%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:38, 3:41, 0.99, 46%, Medium
Tue 5:38, 4:38, 1.21, 95%, Challenging (9th highest median solve time of 163 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:34, 5:54, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium
Thu 6:14, 9:21, 0.67, 4%, Easy (6th lowest median solve time of 162 Thursdays)
Fri 10:05, 12:13, 0.82, 25%, Easy-Medium

Sue McC 10:12 PM  

Long day. Did puzzle this morning but didn't have time to comment. Not much to add except to concur re: Nolte in Rich Man, Poor Man. Such a great show and he was quite something back in the day. Note to self: finish well.

Z 11:59 PM  

On the road today. Stopped for a 42A and a slice of pizza at the Woodstock OnRoute in Ontario. Figured, since it was Friday, I'd take a quick pass through the puzzle to see if I could get a toehold before getting back on the road. Had everything but the ELISHA corner done before the slice was done. Knew that CUTHBERT's first name would come to me. STINKEROO actually came to me first, and I finished up while waiting for the Lewiston Border Guards to decide that I and a few hundred strangers weren't a threat to national security (No OPP around to arrest me for solving while driving). Not counting the 2 hour driving interlude, this was a sub 10 minute solve for me. Felt like a hard Monday at most to me.

Drove through Binghamton around 9:00 tonight. I don't now if Rex saw me wave.

@Sparky - Have you been in @SueMcC's garden?

john 10:55 AM  

Orientate is a cannibal word,
One that should be never heard
If you think that I am wrong
I will argue hammer and tong
For it never to be used
And for no one our language
To abuse.

Henry Gibson (remember Laugh-In?)



Solving in Seattle 2:07 PM  

I, too, wanted gunfighT, also gUt. OK, so that didn't work. 17A, ESTIMATE, bacame my foothold. Liked HARRUMPH.

Not complaining Mr. Lampkin, but there were quite a few fuzzy answers in this CW, to wit: ATEA, IMED, (as)PER, ORTEA, TUM, HAR, AHOME, GELEE and GTS.

Enjoyed ERSATZ. It reminds me of my mom relating stories of living in Germany as a young woman during WWII where she lived off all things ersatz.

I enjoyed the symmetry of the puzzle's blacked out spaces, and some clever cluing.

Happy weekend, Syndylanders.

Spacecraft 2:43 PM  

Here we go again with the literal stuff (PEE, HARDG). I cannot tell you how much I absolutely HATE that! If there's one xword trick I could ban, that would be it. Of course, "start to go?" for me came out HEREI. This caused huge delays in the area. Oh PLEASE, constructors, PLEASE stop it!!

Aside from that ugliness, I went from GUNFIGHT to SHOWDOWN before finally getting SHOOTOUT. I, too, question "ORIENTATED." It's like "preventative." What is it that you want to preventate?

Certainly not "easy-peasy" for me; I'll give it a straight medium. At least I did finish, with above-mentioned writeovers but no errors and no help. THATFEELSSOGOOD.

Solving in Seattle 2:49 PM  

@Spacecraft, wasn't Dubya the Great Preventatator?

DMGrandma 2:56 PM  

I got it all, but this was no super easy puzzle for me-too many names I didn't know and probably won't remember, particularly in the NE where they combined with two cross referencing non-clues. I was also slowed down by wanting "bash" to refer to some kind of a wild party, which was reinforced by SLAM. Other temporary error was IveGoTIT. On the other hand, if I complete a Friday or Saturday, I can rest assured it will be rated "for crossword neophytes"! Ah well, I still enjoy doing them!

Ginger 4:33 PM  

Thanks for the write-up @PG, I love the pugnacious pug pic! Oh so sad, the mug shot of Nolte, he really was a hottie at one time.

@Anon 9:03 - Great Post

ItFEELSSOGOOD to finish a Friday, because it doesn't happen all that often. Fun Puzzle, faves ERSATZ, YAZ, SALARYCAP (as clued), TWENTYONE (just back from Vegas), SPEEDO, not so much ORIENTATED, GELEE (just doesn't look right), and NOTDO.

Keep em comming, J.L.

Ginger 4:37 PM  

That's coming. note to self: proof read!

rain forest 5:24 PM  

I found this one pretty easy, too, and like others, do not like "orientate". It may be a valid word, but makes the speaker sound either pompous or ignorant. First entries were "ersatz" and "Yaz". For me the only slowdown was the NW where I was sure 1d was "slice", and I couldn't let it go for a while. A nice puzzle about which I have nothing negative to say. Note to @mac 8:30, Cetera has the emphasis on the second syllable, so Ed Cetera doesn't quite come off.

Dirigonzo 7:35 PM  

This played easy-ish "for a Friday" for me, although I made many of the mistakes already reported (@Spacecraft - my evolution to the right answer at 1a was the same as yours) plus I had fOrgO for Abstain from at 48d - happily the correct Os were enough to give me a toe hold in that corner. THATFEELSSOGOOD went in with almost no crosses because I thought it so many times during my massage earlier this week.

Spacecraft 9:03 PM  

@ sis: I remember Dubya as being the Great Resignator (sic). As in: "The voice of the people will resignate throughout the land."
He should have, um, resignated.

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