Pitcher Bedard / FRI 9-21-12 / Hull of Constitution / Greven who wrote 2008 best stiller How to Talk to Girls / Gremlins of 70s / Flavian dynasty ruler / Q7 maker / Much-tattooed people / First character seen in Zelig

Friday, September 21, 2012

Constructor: Barry C. Silk

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ÉRIK Bédard (20A: Pitcher Bedard) [no accent aigu in the clue...?] —

Érik Joseph Bédard ([...] Born March 6, 1979) is a Canadian professional baseball starting pitcher who is currently a free agent. //  Bédard previously pitched for the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Soxand Pittsburgh Pirates. With Baltimore, he was the staff ace, setting the franchise single-season strikeouts per nine innings record at 10.93 in 2007. On December 7, 2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Bédard to a one-year, $4.5 million contract. He was their 2012 Opening Day Starter. On August 28, 2012, Bédard was released. (wikipedia)
• • •

I was relieved to see the constructor's name, because I knew I would be getting, at a minimum, a solid, competent themeless with at least an interesting answer or two. Silk is a workhorse, and his work is generally good. This puzzle, also—generally good. Far too easy (close to my normal Wednesday time), but good. EELGRASSES will please no one, but besides that and ATTU, I thought this grid was sharp. Doesn't really look like a themeless grid, in that the areas around the margins are all heavily segmented, with lots of 4-letter words. But push in toward the center a bit and things get more open and interesting. Lots of longer answers, all of them intersecting with other longer answers—8s and 9s and 10s all dancing around together, and all of them looking good in the process. Slangy stuff like "IT'S ALL GOOD," BROMANCE (41A: Relative of a man crush), LONG BALL and WIGGLE ROOM makes the grid feel current and light-hearted. For those who buy the ridiculous notion that one can make a list of objectionable crosswordese for *every* puzzle, and that doing so constitutes unfair carping, behold. I see a bunch of commonish answers (there are lots of 4s, after all), but nothing in the krusty krosswordese category except ATTU (49D: 1943 U.S.-vs.-Japan battle site) and perhaps STOA (52A: Classic covered walkway). They're all real words, common words—stuff people might (and do) actually use. You don't see a fresh, topical 4 very often, but I think BAIN qualifies (14A: ___ Capital (investment firm)). First-rate work all around, for sure.
    I had small struggles here and there. Wanted FAIL for FADE (5D: Die). Couldn't think of the ["All in the Family" exclamation] for a long time and didn't understand ZEE (31D: First character seen in "Zelig") until I had it all filled in from crosses. OILHOLE is ... not great fill, probably, and I certainly didn't know it (35A: Aperture in some drills). I think I wrote ANGORA WOOL, not understanding that there was such an animal as an ANGORA GOAT. Then I wrote in not BAAS but MAAS, which I believe is how goats prefer to have their speech transliterated. But Bill BLASS was indisputable, so ANGORA GOATs sound like sheep, I guess. Had no idea about some of the shorter names (that usually have much different / easier clues), like ISAAC, ABNER, and ALEC, but all were highly gettable from crosses. GO intersects GO at the GOGO DANCE / GO SOUTH crossing, but it's hard to object to that kind of duping when the word is so wee and the answers involved are so good.

    • 20A: Pitcher Bedard (ÉRIK) — wikipedia says he has the accents aigus in his name. Maybe his baseball card says otherwise. Puzzle wasn't very well-timed, Bédard-wise, as he was released by the Pirates just a few weeks ago. It's not like he was ever a very big name (lifetime record of 63-63), but he did pitch in the bigs off and on (mostly on) for a decade, and was Baltimore's ace for a while. Still, this must have been a huge WTF for non- and merely casual baseball fans.
    • 25A: Holy higher-ups (PRELATES) — I like clues that read like exclamations Robin would say to Batman.
    • 34A: With 11-Down, bugging no end (DRIVING / NUTS) — sweet answer. I was thinking of a totally different meaning for "bugging" (more like "tripping" or "freaking"), but that would probably be more accurately represented as "buggin'"
    • 53A: Composition of some orange spheres (CANTALOUPE) — interesting clue. I'm calling foul, since the exterior of a CANTALOUPE is not at all orange, but still ... interesting.
    • 58A: Flavian dynasty ruler (TITUS) — though the word "Flavian" means nothing to me, I got this easily (off of T---S). Thanks, Shakespeare. (I know "Titus Andronicus" is completely fictional, but that's still how the name popped into my head)
    • 4D: Carver of Hells Canyon (SNAKE RIVER) — my people are Idaho people, so this one was not hard. I'm fairly certain my aunt and uncle used to live in a home overlooking the Snake in Lewiston, ID. 
    • 34D: 2009 Grammy winner for "Crack a Bottle," briefly (DRE) — Hmmm. I've never heard (or heard of) the song he won a grammy for. I'm mildly surprised by this. Not that the Grammys are now or have, in the past several decades, been relevant, but still: mild surprise. 
    • 28D: "High Fidelity" star, 2000 (JOHN CUSACK) — I'm reading Michael Chabon's "Telegraph Avenue" right now, which (like "High Fidelity") is centered on a record shop. The comparisons may end there. Not sure. Only a third of the way in. At any rate, love seeing CUSACK's name here (he was the teen (-ish) star I liked most in high school when I was supposed to be liking the Brat Packers). Clue was too easy. Shoulda gone with something like, say, "2012." I feel like I haven't seen CUSACK in movies recently. 2012 (the year) may not have ended the world, but "2012" (the movie) seems to have done something terrible to CUSACK's career. I hope the Mayans were wrong about him and that he eventually returns home to us, safely.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    GILL I. 12:14 AM  

    I don't think I've met a Silk I didn't like. Nary a FLAW and my only huh was KCAL...Can I have more?

    Tobias Duncan 12:23 AM  

    Loved it. Beat my Wed time by a bunch.Clueing should probably been a bit tougher but it is nice to get an easy Friday every once in a while.

    jae 12:38 AM  

    It is ALLGOOD.  A fine easy  Fri. for me also with quite a bit of zip...JEEZ, GOGODANCER, DRUGCARTEL, BROMANCE, et. al...

    Erasures: Andy for OPIE (same series at least), bait for LURE, and Saab for AUDI.

    Got 4d by remembering an almost identical clue from an ACPT playoff puzzle a few years ago.

    Random comment... If you want to get a feel for ATTU see The Big Year, an under rated (IMHO) charming movie.

    Nice, smooth, and fun.  Thanks Barry.

    syndy 1:42 AM  

    Yup ITS ALL GOOD!Knew Titus,ABNER and ISAAC were sussible but I don't get 54 across. WORD with Letters? I'm sure its something simple I'm just not parsing it???Asde from being too easy a lovely puzzle.##

    Anoa Bob 1:48 AM  

    Like Rex, I wondered about 53A "Composition of some orange spheres" as a clue for CANTALOUPE but then realized the clue referred to the cantaloupe balls you see in fruit salads, not the entire cantaloupe itself. There's a gadget like a miniature ice cream scoop just for that, right?

    As a former aquarium keeper and scuba diver, I liked EEL GRASSES. They're quite common. I'm guessing the name comes from how they sway and undulate back and forth in the currents.

    Little something for everyone with GO GO DANCE next to BROMANCE.

    Put me in the Big-Fan-Of-Barry-Silk-Puzzles camp.

    ACM/AMCS 4:11 AM  

    ARTS and letters...so ARTS is a word with (the word) "letters", that's what I got from rereading the clue 28 times.

    If you like the puzzle STOA, ATTU,IDEE, BAAS, EWER ATIE are all pardoned. If you don't, those same words are used to take it down. Simple as that.
    So you'd think by now there is almost no reason to even CITE these four letter crossword glue, but there they are.

    So ITSALLGOOD, or it's not.

    Misspelled malapop...off the C of ISAAC i guessed 24A Greven was eriC. (Boysmight be more familiar with his book) but he showed up as ERIK Bedard.

    I would say too heavy on very specific names...ALEC, ERIK, ABNER (hi @Rube, enjoy your bleedover)

    Again, if one didn't like it one might have said that quoting Archie Bunker, + OPIE, DESI, GOGODANCE, DUNCE cap, AMCS, etc. gave it too much of an oldies vibe, but if one likes it, then he/she highlights DRE, ICET, BROMANCE but again, it's the same puzzle.

    I liked CIVICPRIDE what with the half palindrome and TAXI. (Not sure why, except maybe I just got off a plane.)

    Milford 7:06 AM  

    Really liked this one, even if it wasn't Friday difficulty. Lots of write-overs, like DRUGdealer, localPRIDE, iraqI for SAUDI, to name a few. But it was a fun workout for me.

    At one point I had gasHOLE over GOGO DANCE and BROMANCE. Felt edgy.

    JOHN CUSACK next to EGOCENTRIC seemed apt, based on interviews I've seen with him. But I love his acting, usually. Was initially afraid that the "High Fidelity" clue was for his co-star that played the girlfriend, I remember she had a super-unique name (just looked it up: Iben Hjejle. Hey, look, it would've fit!). I also think that movie was my first exposure to Jack Black.

    I liked that GO SOUTH was a down answer that passed through IT'S ALL GOOD (a phrase I use a lot). I have to assume that none of these fun pairings are accidents, so thank you, Barry Silk!

    My captcha says plsperm. Ew.

    dk 7:09 AM  

    Rex, Just finished Telegraph Avenue and would be interested in your opinion.

    You all know I never complain, make petty lists of puzzle infractions or carp about those n things: BUT!
    How goes a GOGODANCE warrant a tip? As a lad of a certain age with too much education I recall go go dancing as something couples did on a dance floor or oddly made up young women did on Shindig. I mean we could have continued the sheep/goat theme with Lapp Dance but gogo is a nono.

    I roast small potatoes. Just sayin!

    Enough about the sixties. I had know instead of DEEM and tried fro 5 minutes to fit drag racer instead of DRUGCARTEL


    🚲🚲 (2 bikes to ride). Some great fill but hard to dance to.

    Glimmerglass 7:59 AM  

    Easy for a Friday, but a long way from Monday/Tuesday easy. I had trouble with the SE -- didn't know COTTA (as in panna cotta?) or KCAL (though the -CAL part seemed possible), and took forever to see ARTS. Finally guessed the last three letters of CUSACK (not CUSsac), and the light dawned.

    Loren Muse Smith 8:16 AM  

    Talk about not being in someone’s wheelhouse! This was really, truly, Friday hard for me. How can I confidently fill in PFFT off only the P in yesterday’s BEQ and not see DRUG CARTEL or GO GO DANCE today? I was sure WIGGLE ROOM would end in “ism,” so I was looking for some kind of “stance,” parsing the DANCE all wrong. Solid, solid puzzle, Barry.

    “Fall” – “fail” – FADE. “Diced” – RICED.

    Had a popalam,(reverse malapop?) like @jae, with “Saab” before AUDI and then BAAS fell later.

    Have you ever noticed whenever someone says IT’S ALL GOOD, it’s actually pretty darn crummy?

    Can’t resist PRISONERS – last Monday they were writing in their journals so quietly, obediently. I asked, “Are you representative of the general population here?” Jack smiled and said, “Prison is not like what you see on TV. We’re pretty much like everyone else here.”

    Phil said, “My first week here there was a big mob scene in the yard, and I thought it was a gang fight. Wrong. Turns out the cotton candy machine had finally been repaired.”

    Cathyat40 8:22 AM  

    Had ABNEd crossing dICED

    Milford 8:32 AM  

    @Gill I.P. - the KCAL is for kilocalorie, which I believe is the correct term for what we just call a calorie in nutrition (I think).

    joho 8:32 AM  

    @lms, me too with dICED and along with @Rex with FAil, but both easily fixed. Definitely easy for a Friday, but I liked it just the same.

    Loved EEL crossing WIGGLE and both not too far from SNAKE.

    I fooled around with DRY instead of DRE which only gives you more crosswordese with YSER instead of EWER. Plus PROW becomes an unwanted plural ...although PROS and cons isn't so bad.

    @Anoa Bob, I also came up with melon balls being the orange spheres. This is the first time CANTALOUPE has appeared in the NYT ... very fresh!

    Thank you, Barry Silk!

    jackj 8:54 AM  

    For far too long, when the Barry Silk credit popped up on a Friday or Saturday puzzle it was a guaranteed groan producer for me but, over the years I have warmed to Barry’s work and he has become a favorite constructor, an acquired taste, like olives.

    Today’s puzzle was not at all difficult but it certainly was a ton of fun and with plenty of WIGGLEROOM for EGOCENTRIC divas, tattooed MAORI and Mitt Romney’s BAIN Capital, why ITSALLGOOD!

    (Except when things get a bit hairy as when asking for the likes of ALEC Greven, ISAAC Hull, ERIK Bedard or ABNER Mikva, not a household name among them but true to good constructing form, they’re all easily completed thanks to the crosses).

    Favorite answers were three of them, all tied together in the grid, if not in intent, with GOSOUTH connecting to GOGODANCE and also providing the O in BROMANCE, while the clues for DRUGCARTEL and CANTALOUPE gave us some additional wordplay of the highest order.

    I don’t know if I should ADULATE Barry and risk triggering a BROMANCE but, what the hey, what’s a portmanteau among friends.

    Great fun today, thanks Barry.

    jberg 9:08 AM  

    I never saw ERIK Bedard (until I came here and saw it in @Rex's headline) - or rather, I saw ERIK in the grid, figured it would be something about Iceland, and didn't bother to check. I also wrote in sEaGRASSES and changed it to EELGRASSES from the crosses without noticing that I had - so I felt something of a DUNCE when I got here and saw people talking about those answers. That's the problem with an easy puzzle, sometimes you just don't notice things.

    TITUS Andronicus isn't real? I had no idea - too long since I've read Gibbon!

    Jim Walker 9:14 AM  

    Very enjoyable puzzle. Loved Romney father and son in A1 and A 14. Thanks Barry.

    Anonymous 9:15 AM  

    So, I'm left wondering, who's the person in charge of maintaining Érik Joseph Bédard's Wiki page? Keeping the fact that he just got released up to date. Does he, his family, his agent do it? Or is there some wikigeek out there actually keeping track of such things?

    John V 9:28 AM  

    Yep, it is all good. As others, this was a way easy Friday. Loved it.

    NE a bit gnarly for me, with IONIA/SAUDI stack. Fiddled with DRUG PUSHER/DEALER before seeing CARTEL. Diva EGO thing took a couple of passes. Never heard of High Fidelity, so needed most of the crosses util seeing CUSACK. Good indirection @ 31D re: Zelig. GOGODANCE/BROMANCE stack was a touch tricky.

    Plan got me home early (9) last night so I had some puz synapses left this Friday. Thank you, USAirways.

    Happy last day of summer, folks.

    John V 9:30 AM  

    @Jim Walker Good catch in the NW re Romney. Didn't see that.

    Sir Hillary 9:35 AM  

    Fantastic grid -- agree with all the praise on that score.

    Surprised how easy this was - I usually associate Barry Silk with very crunchy clues. Didn't see many of those today. It fed my EGOCENTRIC side to breeze through this, but I wish it had been harder. Only place I got held up was the NE, where the clue for DRUGCARTEL is far and away the best one here.

    I am a baseball geek so know ERIK Bedard, although had no idea he was pitching for the Pirates and was recently released. I wonder if he gave up the LONGBALL too many times.

    Speaking of Pittsburgh pitchers...when I see BLASS, I think of Steve, whom some baseball lovers will remember as the Pirates' ace in their run to the 1971 World Series title. Not long after, he suddenly and inexplicably lost the ability to throw the ball anywhere near the strike zone and was out of the game a few years later.

    Anonymous 9:42 AM  

    Art and Letters. As in College of

    retired_chemist 10:06 AM  

    @ Milford - you are correct on KCAL on all counts.

    Liked it, kinda easy-medium. Had SERAPHIM @ 25A and EUKARYOTE @ 32A, expecting on Friday words harder than they actually were in this puzzle. Fixed easily by crosses (CIVIC PRIDE and SNAKE RIVER, the latter of which was on Jeopardy! in a rerun I saw earlier this week.

    Good stuff, mostly. Thanks Mr. Silk.

    Sue McC 10:16 AM  

    Enjoyable but not especially challenging. Feels like the whole week was a couple ticks lower than usual on the toughness scale.

    Sandy K 10:19 AM  

    Barry Silk had me at BAIN Capital!

    Knew it would be fresh- with BROMANCE, ITSALLGOOD, WIGGLEROOM, DRE, etc. unlike the previous puz, JEEZ!

    Can't help liking some of the old stuff too- I love DESI, and OPIE too!

    hazel 10:20 AM  

    I love seeing a Friday Silk because I know its going to have at least one baseball clue and that I'm going to completely crush it. He's one of my few late week wavelength buddies.

    I did not know GOGODANCERS got tips! Poledancers, on the other hand....i base this opinion only on movie/tv exposure! Which as @lms points out, may have nothing to do with reality!

    @jimwalker - i echo @johnv. Good catch! Didn't realize Mitt Sr. was president of AMC.

    Re: crossword glue - so subjective, and for me, has a lot to do with the way i solve. Am i filling it all in first so that i dont get to try for the presumably more interesting crosses until they're largely filled in (bad experience) or do they just show up filled in because i happened to work from another direx? (good experience because i dont' notice them) Of course there are days I'm actually yhankful for the glue because i'm staring at a lot of white!! One technique might be to just ignore filling in the ESE and let it fill itself in. Easier said than done, and a non-starter for speedsters, of course.

    This puzzle will make me feel cocky the rest of the day!

    Wiki with caution 10:26 AM  

    @Anon 9:15a

    The answer to your wiki question is "All of the above", but with no one in "charge".

    Wiki is pretty much a cooperative, volunteer effort --- pretty much anyone can post/revise.

    That's the reason Wiki, per se, should not be considered the "authoritive" source, but as a source of refrences that could be.

    Tita 10:26 AM  

    I finished! (Well, almost...didn't check well enough, and forgot to fix sEaGRASSES, even though I knew it was FADE. But I woulda, had I noticed...)

    All those pop names made it really hard for me. So I guess the crosses were Wed, easy, because I was able to get them all.

    I also popamal'd with saab...(thx Loren!)

    Since I find myself with barely enough time to puzzle, I was grateful for this not-so-killer Friday.

    Two Ponies 10:37 AM  

    Barry Silk on a Friday is such a gift. My smooth solve came to a screeching crawl in the SE. I have read High Fidelity but not seen the movie. My first thought on Word with letters was rent.
    Cite for commend did not click but a fun grid just as I expected.
    Yes, a melon baller gives you orange spheres.

    lawprof 10:43 AM  

    This one started quickly and gathered momentum. Seemed like a medium Wednesday. Solving almost uninterruptedly from NW to SE, I had two, quickly-corrected, writeovers: gore/ELLE; OILport/OILHOLE.

    Just as I was feeling proud of myself for taking out a Friday without a whimper, I came to a screeching halt in the deep SE: a double natick at the COTTA/STOA/KCAL intersections. Baked Zitti (the only baked Italian dish that came to mind) didn't help; clueless re the classic covered walk; thought the K might refer to the Kelven/Celsius temperature scales. So...ended up with lame guesses resulting in STiA/CiTTa/KCeL.

    A little patience might have gotten me the latter. As I dimly remember, a calorie is a unit of heat and a Calorie (capital C) is a thousand calories -- or KCal, a measure of the potential for a certain quantity of food to produce energy (or fat, if it's not otherwise burned through exercise).

    The overall sensation was like leading a marathon by a hundred meters and then bonking at the finish and being passed at the tape. Nevertheless, an enjoyable Friday, coming-up-short notwithstanding.

    Sparky 11:02 AM  

    Absolutely nowhere on this. Got the Mid East and the SE and five other words including BLASS. Some constructors seem to be a mystery to me. I solved yesterday's BEQ except for 4 letters. Don't understand this.

    Happy Fall. Have a nice weekend.

    Carola 11:02 AM  

    Beautiful. Fun to see FLAW in a puzzle where there isn't one, except maybe for being over too soon. Very fun to fill in all those lovely LONG entries.

    Got the ARTS right away but was faked out by the ZEE until the very end - JEEZ!

    @glimmerglass - Yes, and also "ricotta" (=cooked twice, as it's made from the whey left over from the first cheese batch).

    @Jim Walker - Add me to the ADULATErs of your AMC catch.

    quilter1 11:09 AM  

    Echoing all the kudos for Mr. Silk and today's puzzle. I always enjoy his cluing. I now have a yen for melon balls.

    lawprof 11:19 AM  

    Hey, @Two Ponies 10:37. Just noticed that we both screeched (you to a crawl, me to a halt). Lest you think I've plagiarized your post, allow me to apologize. If that's insufficient, feel free to file suit (though I don't promise to avoid service of process).

    Bob Kerfuffle 11:48 AM  

    (Off topic, but . . . )

    Hey, speaking of ERIK, there is a bonus crossword by up-and-coming young constructor Erik Agard at BEQ's site today.

    Gareth Bain 11:57 AM  

    Nice to know I'm fresh and topical! (FWIW, my brother's company got bought out by Bain Capital a few years back... Causing much good-natured mockery I am informed)

    Two Ponies 12:08 PM  

    @ lawprof,
    I noticed that but no worries, I'm not the litigious sort. But I do have the same lawyer as Paris Hilton and Martha Stewart.

    John V 12:49 PM  

    I'm endlessly intrigued at how each of respond to the several great constructors, Barry Silk among them. Some share our wavelength, some don't I find the same experience in fiction. For instance, I just failed for about the 400th time to connect with Umberto Eco, this time, "The Prague Cemetery." Same true with any science fiction. Anyone have more insight in to why this happens?

    Anonymous 1:10 PM  

    @John V - Because, outside 'The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana' Eco's unreadable? Interesting as hell, but unreadable?

    jae 1:24 PM  

    @Rex -- If your "For those who buy the ridiculous notion that one can make a list of objectionable crosswordese for *every* puzzle" comment is in any way a reaction to my comment on Tuesday's Stairway puzzle please note that I said "themed puzzles." That was deliberate. I think it is much less true for themeless ones.

    If it wasn't please ignore the above.

    jae 1:29 PM  

    And for those of you who may not recall what I posted on Tues. (which I assume is pretty much everyone) here it is

    "It's almost impossible to find a themed puzzle where someone can't reel off a string of "junk" fill. It's the gestalt that counts..."

    Note that the scientist in me used the word "almost." WIGGLEROOM is important in science.

    Unknown 1:40 PM  

    Fun puzzle. Liked WIGGLEROOM, and ITSALLGOOD. And as others have mentioned, it's great to feel smart on a Friday. OILHOLE is awkward, though. In the oil industry we refer to OIL wells not OILHOLEs. You drill a hole, you can "make hole" but I've never heard anyone make reference to an OIL HOLE.

    A minor quibble with a puzzle I really enjoyed.

    Acme 1:51 PM  

    Gotta go with @dk on the whole GOGODANCE (hey, where's the R?) totally don't get tipped (unless she snags something with her boot and falls over)
    I suspect mssgrs Shortz, Silk, Longo and whoever else previewed the puzzle have spent insufficient time in stripclubs, discos and nonsports bars in general!

    John V 2:15 PM  

    @Anonymous 1:10 re: Eco, "Interesting but unreadable" may be the way to put it. The oddity for me is that most of the enjoyment I get from fiction is the wordplay; see Cormac McCarthy, Colum McCann. Maybe Eco works better in Italian?

    JFC 2:56 PM  

    @Rex, for about 5 summers as a HS and college student I worked at Arlington Park before it burned down and was rebuilt. One year I drove the wet garbage gtruck and another the dry garbage truck. Devdeloped a hiatel hernia lifting with my co-worker the 30 gallon cans filled with liquid. The Post and Paddock Club was the place for the wealthy bettors and owners and trainers. It always featured an ice sculpture and melon balls, including canteloupe melon balls. And the canteloupe balls were definitely orange in color....


    GILL I. 3:04 PM  

    We just got back from watching the Space Shuttle Endeavor taking her piggy back ride through the Golden State's capital city on way to LAX. It was pretty awesome!
    @Milford - thanks for the KCAL info. I learned something..
    Hand up for no tipping any GOGODANCER out there. (Hi Diri!) You danced in a cage with high boots and fluttered all over the place. Oh, JEEZ, I just looked up Tipping the GOGODANCER and there's this video on how to stick your money in the whatever outfit you're wearing....I feel so old!

    Anonymous 3:49 PM  

    If you never heard of the movie "High Fidelity", the answer also could've been JOHN's sister- Joan CUSACK. Only 1 letter away.

    Just saw JOHN CUSACK in "Runaway Jury" on tv. Didn't know he was EGOCENTIC...

    sanfranman59 4:09 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 14:42, 24:29, 0.60, 2%, Easy

    Top 100 solvers

    Fri 8:14, 12:10, 0.68, 5%, Easy

    mac 4:14 PM  

    Easy to finish, but a medium for me because I had to break down and start at the bottom.

    I lived in Boise for a few years, so the Snake River came fairly easily.

    @Two Ponies: I thought rent first as well.

    @JohnV: I find Eco hard work, but you feel good when you have finished it.

    It surprised me to hear the Dutch use the term "it's all good", translated. Also heard some very contemporary American terms straight up, just can't remember the best example now...

    Anonymous 8:08 PM  

    Dearie mr. Parker,
    Cantaloupe is cut into orange spheres using a little tool called a melon baller. Makes pretty fruit salads. Now you know everything!
    Patty Tete

    Bird 8:29 PM  

    Very nice puzzle Mr. Silk. Thank you for the pleasure of the solve. First
    pass left me with little to work with, but the letters started to fill
    themselves in. Slow at first but picking up momentum until finishing with
    the I at 9A and 9D. What little crosswordese was easily forgotten with all
    the fresh fill. JOHN CUSACK is one of my favorite actors and it was nice to
    see Nick Swisher hit the LONG BALL last night.

    Holy Crossword! Is @Rex suggesting someone construct a puzzle around
    Robinisms? Holy ___ (oxidized iron) Batman! = RUSTED METAL.

    Only correction was ANDY before OPIE at 50D. I figured since it is Friday,
    OPIE would get a day’s rest.


    BlogSpotRemover (!) or (?) 8:38 PM  

    I know so little about old movies and TV shows, so I don't really look fwd to those ?'s (and if I learn something, it's not gonna stick in there if it comes around in a future x-word!), so the "1st name in 50's TV"was met with my usual vacuum-eyed stare. But I was happy, 'cos I suddenly remembered someone named
    R E E D. Maybe that was Ozzy/Harriet's surname? Then it connected with "Donna", and that sounded better (still haven't prayed to the Great Wiki to confirm. So, yeah R E E D. Sounded good. Combine that with the most bizzarre CLUE wording I've ever seen (STILL don't know what it means) in interacting-distance w/ my flawed R E E D. That is: "W/ 11d, bugging no end." What the HELL does that mean?! I got the ansrs eventually, but still don't get the clue! Which, by the way, leaves a bad taste, like a reverse satisfaction or something. Or maybe throwing up a thousand-dollar bottle of Bordeaux (or so I'd imagine): it tasted incredible on the way down!

    Ω 9:02 PM  

    I'd mention that @Anoa Bob pointed out that the "orange spheres" were about the cantaloupe innards at 1:48 a.m. and all the later commenters should read the comments before posting, but since they didn't read his comment it is doubtful that the will read my suggestion.

    Barry Silk is usually a tough solve for me, so the ease was a surprise. I had a slow down in the SE, but the only letter I had to change to get Mr. Happy Pencil was ZEd to ZEE. OIL HOLd seems as authentic as OIL HOLE to me.


    GILL I. 9:31 PM  

    @Z...Well, I'm reading your suggestion and it bothers me no end that so many don't READ what others may say or explain. It's friggin rude.... Have I mentioned the color of cantaloupe balls?

    Sparky 11:20 PM  

    @Kris in ABCA. I think it means the little hole in the tool called a drill where you can put a drop or two of oil.

    @JohnV. That's what I was gettng at. Seems there's an affinity with some individuals. What also strikes me funny today is that I solved the part where so many got stuck the SE.

    I just printed out Friday and I'm going to bed.

    sanfranman59 1:55 AM  

    This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

    Mon 6:30, 6:48, 0.96, 32%, Easy-Medium
    Tue 8:26, 8:56, 0.94, 40%, Easy-Medium
    Wed 14:52, 11:49, 1.26, 95%, Challenging (10th highest median solve time of 166 Wednesdays)
    Thu 15:33, 18:48, 0.83, 20%, Easy-Medium
    Fri 14:43, 24:29, 0.60, 2%, Easy (4th lowest median solve time of 168 Fridays)

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:49, 3:41, 1.04, 71%, Medium-Challenging
    Tue 4:47, 4:39, 1.03, 61%, Medium-Challenging
    Wed 7:34, 5:56, 1.27, 94%, Challenging
    Thu 8:25, 9:20, 0.90, 34%, Easy-Medium
    Fri 7:36, 12:10, 0.62, 4%, Easy (6th lowest median solve time of 167 Fridays)

    BlogSpotRemover (!) or (?) 2:47 AM  

    Has anyone ever felt annoyed, or, in the far more oft-used x-word simile, I R K E D, when their own mental "answer", while very, very wrong, seems better/funnier/wittier/Federer(er)/whateverer than the right answer? Given my aversion to right answers, this is personally a fleeting/evanescent emotion. Yet it EXISTS! NB: This is not ego or hubris, I do not possess them, nor know what they are; more of a "this-just-makes-more-sense-than-the-right-one" vibe. A case, if you will, in point: the clue of 9d "Hull of the Constitution". I didn't consider that this may be a clever pun on a Framer of our founding document (he's not, it turns out), rather a person who served on the ship. Not considering any of these permutations (and not realising this well-crafted entendre doüble) it read to me as a nickname, perhaps, as the physical hull of the physical ship. That's the one they called Old Ironsides, right? So, the only thing that seemed to fit was......... I R O N I C. As in, poetically forged/hewn/graven of elemental Fe, but on top o'that, I R O N I C in that (though not researched) I figure the actual hull was not actually made of Fe, but some sort of salty sea-title (yarrrrgghh) bestowed upon her due to her resillience to cannonballs/attacks. I'm quite sure her hull was wooden. Thus ironic in that sense: "Made-of-metal-but-not-really". Of course, the punchline being that I R O N I C doesn't fit, being 1 measly letter too long. But, when you're so in love w/ your answer (of course, wrong), yer not gonna let the fact that it doesn't actually FIT get in your way, right? I am new to this startlingly edifying pastime, so I'm just interested if I'm the only person that's proud of an answer, despite it being in fact wrong. It's just so fecklessly funny, kind of like how Arthur Dent (The Hitchhikers Guide...) is as well.....
    Apol. for the long post. Sorry. I'm new to this remarkably fun phenomenon...

    Bob Kerfuffle 7:02 AM  

    @BlogSpotRemover - A sincere Thank You for your comment above. I confess that I was one (may have been others?) who thought ISAAC Hull was in fact one of those names in varying degrees of readability at the bottom of an important American document (which would have been the Declaration of Independence rather than the Constitution!) But you have set me right and added to the knowledge I have gained from crosswords.
    Again, thank you.

    Tita 9:36 AM  

    @BlogSpotRemover - yes - it happens all the time to me...
    In fact, I have a section on my blog dedicated to epicly wrong answers.

    Usually, the "wrong" answer is hilariously funny - that's why it gets into my Hall of Fame.

    I am going to add yours - check it out here: Crucimetrics Look for Epic Wrong Answer Hall of Fame on right...

    (@Loren - I can't find your funny answer from a day or two ago - pls email me with what it was again...)

    BlogSpotRemover (!) or (?) 7:47 PM  

    General Tita: Thanks, man! I mean, within the pretty narrow framework of how embarassed a guy can feel about his struggles with a standardized test that everyone on this here thingamajig interdiscusses, and can all do, to a man, besides moi- you really, honestly made me feel a whole lot better. I'm not kidding @ all. I don't really know all y'all, and it seems that just casually looking around, many do. With that said, a simple, elegant comment such as yours is magnified, and I mean like "gravitational-lensing magnified" into the nicest compliment ever given to me, in the "word-related hobby" dept. Thus, to me, your nice reassurance reply is EXACTLY the equivalent of recieving news that Byron had written an ode singing praises of my cedar-sharp wit centuries before my birth, and further scholarship revealed it to be based on a prev. unknown Shakespeare play, the only extant copy in Byron's possession, of course, called like "Throvgh Fvtvre Mifts of Time [me] Will Eclipfe Even I". Or something like that. Because this is the NYT crossword, for the love of God. I saw the movie yrs ago, I'm thinking "OMG Maybe Tita's actually, like, SEEN SHORTZ, from a distance of several miles!!! Maybe he's, like brushed by him in the hotel lobby!!!" The point is, a "you're not the only one" from a person of your caliber(-by-association) is a HUGE thunderous one, and just as good as the inane literary discoveries I made up. Not knowing any of you (yet, I hope) gives it that "we're all up here solving in Valhalla" cache, and you, thankfully throw down your dirty eraser, Mean-Joe style, to me here on Earth. "Gee, thanks, MIster"! Seriously, thanks Tita (sorry about the military Salutation. May have had you confused w/ a recent clue! Now I have to address another equally kind and (right up there on Olympus w/ you, as far as I'm concerned) person who thought my stupid answer to the USS Constitution was SOOO bad that they put it up somewhere for others to:
    a) Laugh @
    b) Admire [warning, this may be another, less sincere behavior in disguise, c.f. "a")
    c) Be seen by various medical professionals in the neurosciences, marveled at, and requests made to the site's owner for my contact info, for possible inclusion into many pending grant applications, psycholigical studies, reality TV series, etc. To these people, looking @ my now-under-Lucite idiocy, they all look, google-eyed, and shout: "That's it. Look at this guy's f-ed up thinking. WE'VE FOUND OUR 'BEFORE'!

    Glad I could help. thank you again for even replying. I am S T A R S T R U C K.

    Elena 12:05 AM  

    I'd say whomever does that wiki page should go check facts because Erik Bedard was not born on March 6, 1979 he was born March 5, 1979

    Anonymous 2:20 PM  

    Easy Friday...yep! Barry Silk... yep! Everything has been said...yep!
    Ron Diego 10/26/12, 11:20 AM, PDT

    Spacecraft 2:21 PM  

    Nice to see that some bloggers are longer-winded than I. That's why I don't own a text-ready device. 140 characters? Fuhgeddaboudit!

    This one was nice and meaty, as befits Friday. For the longest time my spuds were dICED, and I was trying to fit AHMED into the 1d that I had no clue about.

    I have a real quarrel about the clue for NOVA: it is the exact opposite of a "rising" star; it's a dying one. I thought maybe diVA--but the whole NW didn't make sense till I remembered BAIN in the anti-Romney ads. Then at last ABNE_ forced the writeover of R and my spuds became RICED.

    So too were my GRASSES sEa before they were EEL. Those were my only writeovers.

    Thought "Carver" was some dude's name! (4d)

    I liked JOHNCUSACK's work in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

    I agree with OFL about goat vs. sheep sounds. Let's get our BAAS and maas straightened out, OK?

    Nice misdirecting clue for DRUGCARTEL.

    Challenge to constructors: now that we have CRESSIDA, can TROILUS be far behind?

    Happy weekend; hope it GOGOes as smooth as Silk.

    DMGrandma 2:39 PM  

    Seems like I'm the only person out here who couldn't finish the puzzle. Once again, it's those pesky names that got me. No idea who is on the SUV program, not helped by not knowing the ITSALLGOOD expression. In the other corner, couldn't figure out JOHN's last name, and and figured the Italian was COaTi-don't ask why. At any rate,here i am again, unable to finish an "easy" puzzle! Seems to be my fate in life. But I still enjoy trying!

    Ginger 3:16 PM  

    Easy, yes, for Friday. @DMG, that still means it'll give you a good workout, and it did. Re the GOGODANCER, I took the clue to mean that the bar tender would be apt to get large tips when there is 'entertainment'.

    JEEZ prompts the mental image of Archie looking at Edith with his unique exasperated expression. Hell's Canyon on the SNAKERIVER is mind blowingly beautiful. It's well over a mile deep, and extremely rugged.

    Enjoyed this Silky smooth beauty. Thanks Barry!

    Waxy in Montreal 8:42 PM  

    Jeez, I'm with @DMG, far from easy even for a Friday. Understand now but had never heard the expression BROMANCE. Had PRIMATES before PRELATES (love it that we can employ the same word for monkeys and some holy higher-ups). Had WORM and BAIT before LURE which certainly complicated the Great Lakes area. Being a Canuck, Érik Bédard was a gimme (hey, we don't produce Major Leaguers up here in the frozen north like they do in, say, the Dominican Republic).

    In my misspent youth, GOGOGIRLS were endemic to discotheques rather than bars and rarely received any tips for their efforts. An old joke referenced their short skirts and long boots but I fear to repeat it in a family-friendly blog like this.

    Well, time to start battening down the hatches in preparation for the threatened Frankenstorm. Hope @Diri is really prepared as the 1991 "Perfect Storm" wreaked havoc with coastal Maine including destroying the amusement pier in Old Orchard Beach, a haunt of my youth even if it didn't feature GOGOGIRLS...

    Dirigonzo 9:58 PM  

    Weekend puzzle partner and I dispatched this one pretty quickly but we had to come here to get the ARTS and Letters connection.

    @Waxy - if "Frankenstorm" makes landfall in the NY/NJ metro area as some models predict, air travel in the US and Canada could be screwed up for weeks. But I'm all battened down and have plenty of bourbon on hand, so I'll be fine - thanks for your concern. If your youth involved GOGOGIRLS, it was not misspent (but I would still love to hear that old joke).

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