Comedian/rapper Williams / FRI 12-14-12 / Political adviser Nofziger / Relative of John Bull / Rascal in slang / Sea novel by James Fenimore Cooper / Cubic crystals with perfect cleavage

Friday, December 14, 2012

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: GANEF (38A: Rascal, in slang) —
A thief, scoundrel, or rascal.

[Yiddish, from Hebrew gannāb, to steal.]

Read more:
• • •

More Saturday than Friday for me. Grid looks very nice in retrospect, but the clues were nowhere near my wavelength. Finished with a total Natick at "THE BIG SHORT" / HALITE (4A: 2010 best seller by Michael Lewis / 11D: Cubic crystals with perfect cleavage). I know Michael Lewis as the author of "Moneyball," so I went with "THE BIG SPORT" / PALITE. Clearly I've never ever heard of HALITE, so its probably-clever cleavage clue was totally lost on me. That NE corner was astonishingly resistant today. Only way I got into it was flat-out guessing, with no crosses but the "I," BEATLEMANIA (16A: Fever that reached America in the mid-1960s). Before that, I had virtually nothing up there, despite having *everything* underneath. None of the downs made any sense to me. Couldn't get to HEARTY from -RTY or EAMES from -ES or BTUS from -S or GEL PACKS from -PACKS (me: "ICE"?!) (9D: Flexible injury soothers) or SMARTLY from -RTLY or HALITE from -ITE. The one little tendril I had up there was RITT (13D: "Nuts" director, 1987), which I guessed from the "T" in PRINTS. I wanted ILE at 8D: Trinité, e.g., but was not nearly confident enough to write it in. Very rough going up there. Elsewhere, a typically toughish Friday except in the SW, where "THE RED ROVER" (!?) (56A: Sea novel by James Fenimore Cooper) was a total mystery to me, and where I had STAG for SOLO (48D: Unbanded?) and DEFIN. for DERIV. (44D: Dict. info). Eventually EVAH, fittingly, got me EVA, and that area fell (50A: L'Oréal spokeswoman of the 2000s). For a puzzle that felt like such a slog, I totally lucked out twice with long-answer guesses: BEATLEMANIA (as I mentioned above), and ALICIA KEYS, which I just ... knew. SAKI confirmed that it was so.

Started with WHEES and IOUS and DOC. STAND ASIDE seems poorly clued (1D: Take no preventive action). Taking no action is taking no action—standing aside is an action. Ergo, no. Had a bear of a time coming up with the (Awk!) abbrev. NORW. (19A: Major Eur. oil exporter). I had the -W and couldn't figure out what kind of crazy Euro acronym I was dealing with. Also had trouble with the near-non-word HAILER (41D: Whom a hack watches out for)—and I had just finished watching "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," which opens with an extended cab-hailing sequence.  I thought the [Shooter favored by Henri Cartier-Bresson] was a LUGER until I remembered who Henri Cartier-Bresson was. Not sure I know who John Bull is, but I had the -SAM in that answer, so UNCLE seemed a good guess (27A: Relative of John Bull). I couldn't even guess at what "Sullivan & Son" is, so absolutely no hope there ("Sullivan & Sons" airer=TBS). Only reason I got GANEF was because some ghost of crossword past whispered it in my ear. Overall, this was a slog because of the cluing, but the grid (esp. the 10- and 11-stacks in the corners) really does look good.

[You'll need a much bigger car for an ELKHOUND (40A: Large hunter with a shaggy gray coat)]

  • 18A: Nominee who was the subject of a 2006 filibuster attempt (SAMUEL ALITO) — who has the same number of letters in his name as JOHN ROBERTS.
  • 25A: Comedian/rapper Williams (KATT) — gonna go out on a limb here and say *most* NYT solvers will have no clue who this guy is. I know him only from occasional ads for his comedy specials that run during "The Daily Show" or "The Colbert Report."
  • 35A: Bazooka Joe's company (TOPPS) — really wanted BAZOOKA.
  • 44A: Virtuous behaviors, in Hinduism (DHARMAS) — don't think I've ever seen this word pluralized. Not sure why not.
  • 25D: Publisher with a borzoi logo (KNOPF) — a gimme. My favorite publisher. Their books are (almost) always beautifully designed and produced. KNOPF was Chandler's publisher (from "The Big Sleep" through "The Lady of the Lake").
  • 42D: Follower of Ali (SHIITE) — I don't know if this was supposed to be a boxing misdirect, but if so, no dice. Got this off the "I" in SEI (48A: Due tripled).
  • 51D: Fish with poisonous roe (GAR) — of course it's GAR. 3-letter fish in a crossword, why did I even hesitate? The only fish I could think of was COD, for some reason.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Unknown 12:39 AM  

Alicia Keys was 2002; Shelby Lynne was 2001. Love Shelby Lynne and her name is exactly one letter too long. First few passes I was convinced there was a (extremely boring) Rebus lurking in there. Had TLC and MCMANSIONS (awesomeX2 answer) which gave me UNCLESAM, so I still got ALICIAKEYS from that crossing without much trouble, but the cluing is dead wrong. For some reason I thought Alicia Keys was much later than 2001 ('04, or '05 even) wasn't until I checked Wikipedia that I realized how close the answer was. Still wrong, though.

Anonymous 1:06 AM  

@John O'Toole - You're making a common mistake. She was the best new artist of 2001, the award was bestowed in 2002 for the work of 2001. See item 16a in the FAQ

jae 1:20 AM  

Yes, a tough Fri. NW went fairly quickly, but, like Rex, NE was a bear. I actually knew HALITE from crosswords (rock salt) but cBS kept THE BIG SHORT hidden for a while. SW also went smoothly. The AL in 29d gave me Ms. KEYS which with MCMANSIONS pretty much completed the SE. The center strip was also tough. GANEF has some alternate spellings and SONNY, UMPED, and KNOPF took some work. All that to say medium-tough works for me.

Liked this one. Crunchy and zippy...BEATLEMANIA, DOSHOTS, EVALONGORIA... Only cringes were NORW and SSS.

Artery Cartier-McMansions 2:31 AM  

Same Natick as @rex...same almost everything, "cept I knew who Cartier-Bresson is (Google and you will realize you do too!) Tho that still didn't help as I couldn't decide between LEICA and Nikon.

When I hear his name, I think of the man jumping over the puddle in Paris.

And yes, in Scrabble there are at least five spellings of GANEF, GANEV, GONIFF, etc.
But why clue it "Rascal, in slang" as opposed to "Thief, in Yiddish"? I feel Will sometimes shies away from calling things Yiddish, not sure why.
(Well, Maybe bec then I/we chastise him for inexact use!)
But "Rascal, in slang" seems to unnecessarily waspify a very Jewish expression!
(And on the sixth day of Chanukah, no less!)


Since there were these iffy plurals again WHEES and DHARMAS, I'm glad TAOS was the county and not the belief(s)!

I got SOLO right away but I sorta like @rex's answer of Stag better!

Beautiful stacks of 3 tens and 3 twelves. How DO people do that?

Anonymous 7:02 AM  

Would it have been too much for a family paper for the "Matter found in briefs" answer to have been "DNA"?

Jeremy Mercer 7:21 AM  

A lovely puzzle, but I must admit I was thrown by the question mark on 35D (Took up the slack?) Considering that the main dictionary definition of slack is 'not taut', I am guessing this means that the slang use of 'slack' (as in, she slacks off at work) has now surpassed the official dictionary use in the popular imagination ...

Glimmerglass 7:59 AM  

Felt like Saturday for me, too. I had several guesses that turned out to be right. Guessed BEATLEMANIA off the first A and the L, but THE BIG SHOxT and xITT was a Natick for me. "Uitt" probably isn't anyone's name, and RITT is. "The Big Shoat" would be about farming, I guess, so I ruled that out. The cluing in the SE was hard, too. SAKI was the only four-letter writer of that era I could think of. Somehow when I got bits and pieces of 39A 44A 29D and 30D I could make an intelligent guess. Similar action in the SE. Got it all right in the end, but I was very, very lucky.

jackj 8:48 AM  

This was a strange puzzle in that it seemed at every turn I was entering wild guesses for things that seemed improbable but turned out to be correct. After SIS, TNT and ADA came STARSTRUCK, (I know not how), and it helped fill in the entire upper left, including the delightful WHEES of Maxwell the Pig.

Then, continuing this eerie experience, the “V” of EVAH had me writing in EVALONGORIA as if I knew the answer forthright, opening up all of the lower left (including my least favorite answers of the puzzle, HAILER, GOTSORE, DERIV and TAUTENED).

Then, proving again that the third time never fails, UNCLESAM’s “A” and the puzzles last two entries in the lower right, LYN (Nofziger) and SSS (Selective Service System), gave me a Y” and an “S” and ALICIAKEYS just came out singing.

But, in the upper right, this door of opportunity slammed shut and even though I remembered seeing Michael Lewis on C-SPAN’s “Book Notes”, there was no way in the world that his book’s title would appear, not even the THE. Knowing Marty RITT and the EAMES House helped draw out SAMUELALITO though and the end was in sight until the puzzle again fought back.

I then was forced to wrestle far too long with a bad guess of SNOPE for the publisher, which gave the rapper the moniker of SATT and only when that Yiddisher devil GANEF went in did KNOPF save the day and make SATT, KATT. Whew!

What a terrific puzzle from Paula; overall it seemed more Saturday than Friday but that’s a compliment not a complaint.

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

There's a MCMANSION right next to my house. It's a monster of a thing, with dozens of architecturally unnecessary roof-lines.

ON cold winter mornings such as this I take great glee to see between 40 and 60 Black Vultures roosting on the roof, spreading their wings trying to get warm, digging their talons into the roof shingles, and crapping all over the house.

There's got to be some form of bad Karma, though not DHARMA, involved in this.

Carola 9:37 AM  
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Carola 9:38 AM  

I'd say Paula Gamache has a DEFT hand with a puzzle! Enjoyed doing this one a lot - STARSTRUCK and BEATLEMANIA (great pair!) gave me enough to get a good start at the top, and knowing UNCLE SAM and GANEF (thanks to crosswords) helped open the way to the South. I stared for a while at an entirely empty SW - but then the incorrect DEfIn got me to FACE REALITY and I was able to finish from there. So a happy end rather a sad DEMISE (the last word I completed - had all but the M before I could see it).

Other nice pairs - STRIP MALLS + MCMANSIONS and the two novels anchoring the top and bottom edges (along with SIS and SSS).

Lindsay 10:10 AM  

Started with SHIITE, then eased on up toward the NW, where I had a slight problem thanks to eNDlessPOOL, which I just now see doesn't even fit. How did I do that? Looks like I spelled "endless" with one S. Sometimes I wonder how I manage to dress myself in the morning.

Anyway, came to a grinding halt in the NE. GEL soCKS didn't help. No idea about the Michael Lewis novel or the rapper, but remembered that there's such a thing as HALIdE lights. KATd didn't look good, but hey, it's a rapper. So I finished with a error. Of course now that I know the answer, it's easy to see a mineral should end with -ite, not -ide.

I'll try not to let it ruin my day.

Unknown 10:30 AM  

Arrrggg. Didn't have to resort to the Googlator, but this. was. hard. For me anyway. Looking back, I liked the long answers, and in general prefer that a puzzle be challenging, but I wish I had at least another cup of coffee to get me through it. My brain hurts.

joho 10:30 AM  

Awesome puzzle by Paula Gamache!

But even with BEATLEMANIA quickly in place practically nothing else came to me easily. Definitely more of a Saturday for me and also most challenging. In fact, I DNF!

Doesn't matter because I really enjoyed the struggle and totally admire the puzzle.

Matthew G. 10:47 AM  

Paula Gamache's cluing is so far off my wavelength that I'm not sure I can even adjust my dial to her station. But I live for hard themelesses, so I'm not complaining. This would have played hard for me even on a Saturday -- it's the first time in quite a while that I failed to finish a NYT puzzle during my morning subway ride. But it was lots of fun trying to figure out where Paula's brain was going.

With just one exception: @Jeremy Mercer, I agree with you on the TAUTENED clue. With the question mark, I thought that the answer would involve tailoring of slacks (trousers). After getting it I was left scratching my head at why a question mark was needed. I don't think it was.

Two Ponies 11:04 AM  

At least I got Beatlemania and McMansions.

evil doug 11:05 AM  

I can't recommend "The Big Short" enough. Lots of books out there on the causes of the financial crisis, but this one reads like a thriller. Terrific book.

I knew the network was TBS or TNT; the explosive next door solved my problem.

Shiites crossing Dharmas; do shots near spree and whees; artery above Doc and crossing hearty; Eva ovah evah; Topps Bazooka (a baseball dugout fave) crossing umped; strip malls near McMansions; got sore alongside tautened; Samuel Alito in the opposite corner from Eva Longoria; sei intersecting solo=interesting juxtapositions.


Notsofast 11:09 AM  

A challenging puzzle and a beautiful grid. BUT. Why the question mark after 'Took up the slack?" and GANEF???? Seriously. I think resorting to Yiddish is a cop-out. Yiddish may be common in NYC, but many puzzlers don't live in NYC. Amazing as that may be.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Brutal hard Friday. Had a hard time getting in. Liked the open grid, but no mercy on the Downs so had a hard time getting anything going.

The SW was the last to go; a giant white space. For "Woke up and smelled the coffee", went from BECAME AWARE > BECAME ALERT > FIND REALITY > FACE REALITY, and at last got it to break.

Last letters down were cleanup in NW. Had it down to H, N, or P, and also guessed wrong with THE BIG SpORT. F.... Evidently, HALITE is simply salt. And pALITE is nothing.

For "Cole Porter's "Well, Did You _____?"", I wanted COME. Ha!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:35 AM  

@Lindsay has said it all for me, as I also finished with a D at the crossing of 11 D and 25 A, same reasoning.

But it is nice to have a challenging puzzle.

Sandy K 11:47 AM  

Was sure that lots of guessing, putting things in lightly, write-overs, many things I never heard of- too many to mention- would be my DEMISE.

As I slowly scrolled down and PEERed at THE BIG SHORT, I took HEART and held my breath...

Somehow I guessed right, not SMARTLY, just luck. Agree with @Susan McConnell- need a GEL PACK for my headache.

syndy 11:54 AM  

So there has to be a word for it when so many wild ass guesses come together to give you what you thought was an impregnible puzzle. I think I call it Genius! thanks Ms Gamache.HALITE_total guess...but? what almost nailed me though was THE RED RIVER-almost went for it was the last spin test caught it. So hard so Good! So good to find.

GILL I. 11:57 AM  

Practically word for word what @Rex experienced. KATT, UNCLE SAM and TOPPS (the three stooges?) held me up something fierce. GANEF spelled with an O and so I thought ToUTENED sounded just fine although I don't even know what it means spelled with an A.
Some of the long ones came easily - like others got BEATLEMANIA right away and was so proud. After mighty Google I did finish. About THE only thing I didn't like about this puzzle was the two THE's.
@jackj from yesterday: I always read your posts and actually look forward to your insight and the delightful way you write. I didn't think a slap-down comment was called for at all.

Rookie 11:58 AM  

I'm with @Anonymous 11:28. The southwest was miserable for me. But that is like saying the sore throat of the flu is miserable. It understates the misery of the aches, nausea, weakness , and fever. There was plenty of other misery here. I had to resort to begging Across Lite to give me two cheater letters. I just hate to have to do that. Defeated! I do, however, have to get on with the day! I think I would have stared at the grid ad infinitum without the help.

Ellen S 12:35 PM  

I was so rattled by yesterday's failure that I asked Mr. Happy Pencil to steer me right so he kept me from falling into sin or at least error in several spots. And while I didn't need Google I did have to use Amazon for the books. So I'm not really proud of myself but less humiliated than yestiddy.

One complaint: far as I know (and after finishing, confirmed that Google agrees with me) there's only one kind of ELKHOUND, the Norwegian Elkhound. It does have a shaggy gray coat, and is a hunter of large game, but you can fit several of them in a Fit or a Yaris. They are not the size of the Deerhound or whatever it is in @Rex's video. Max height is 20.5 inches and they weigh 48-55 pounds. About the size of a Springer Spaniel.

I always like seeing dogs in puzzles though. Oh, my Dutch plumber here in California tells me "so-and-so is a gonif" or GANEF, however you want to spell it. and one of the characters--all criminals--in Garrison's Gorillas was named "Goniff." So, yes, everyone in New York is Jewish, but Yiddish is everywhere. (But "rascal"? "slang"? Oh well.)

Lewis 12:49 PM  

@jackj -- another vote of confidence. Love the angle you come in on.

I didn't know enough to get this puzzle without help, but I loved the puzzle. I liked the clues for STRIPMALLS and MCMANSIONS. Bravo, Ms. Paula.

Masked and Anonymo4Us 1:37 PM  

Whee whatta puz. Put up a heck of a fight, but got 'er done, with minimal research. Wonder what the seed entries were.

Really had to step back and admire the work that went into this puppy. There's just not much that makes one's engine light flicker on. DERIV and SSS, maybe. And they were both pretty easy. Wonder what the longest abbr. ever used in a NYT was. Guess that makes me a two-hit wonderer.

The Big themelessthUmbsUp.

John V 1:40 PM  

Challenging. Got almost all, but same issues in NE as @Rex and others. Sure did not know rapper, did nto get GANEF/TAUTENED cross. Wanted PITT @ 13D. Surprised myself getting EVALONGORIA; I have no idea how that happened.

Good puz, agree it felt more like Saturday. Thanks, Paula.

retired_chemist 2:16 PM  

What Ellen S. said about the (Norwegian) elkhound. It isn't large. That threw me for a long time because the clue was off.

But the puzzle in general was difficult so that wasn't my major snag. Had to Google several times. GAR was EEL (didn't try COD). GELPACKS was ICE PACKS. KNOPF's borzois was an unknown. KATT, RITT and THE BIG SHORT, ditto, but they were guessable. DHARMAS - did not know that. Thought they were GREGS.

Thanks, Ms. Gamache. Good themeless - my bad.

M and A High on Poison Roe 2:18 PM  

p.s. @31: Yep. If there was ever a fish in three letters that looks like it'd rate havin' poison eggs, it'd be a GAR. EEL might get honorable mention, tho.

Woulda been cool, if the clue's intent was for fish to be a verb. Since fishin' with poisonous bait probably wouldn't get many bites, the answer could be SIT. har. But then solvers might get super upset. Angry mobs with torches and pitchforks would descend on NYT headquarters, demanding a "?" in the clue, or a public retraction, or something. 31 could act as intermediary in negotiations. E.D. could drop protest leaflets on 'em, from the air. Wow.

Merle 2:20 PM  

Started out strong with a few gimmes -- Beatlemania was my first answer, whees just seemed right, elkhound fell into place, Uncle Sam fit right in because, unlike Rex, I knew John Bull was a personification of England, couldn't remember Alito's first name but knew it was Alito, also got Leica because I knew the photography of Henri Cartier-Bresson. Got stuck in the middle, though -- "stuck in the middle with -- who?" Once again, rap and hip-hop music is a mystery -- so had the att of Katt and even going through the alphabet yielded nada, until suddenly, of course, light bulb -- Knopf! Didn't recognize the borzoi clue, but kn-p- yielded Knopf. Oh, that publisher. And so on. Pleasant puzzle.

Truth Sayer 2:28 PM  

Not so fast, Notsofast! "Resorting to Yiddish"? WTF? And how is Yiddish different from Spanish or French or Italian? If sayonara were an answer, would the constructor be "resorting" to Japanese. J'accuse. Oops, am I "resorting" to French? I accuse you, Notsofast, of prejudice. Prejudice re what or whom? Let's start with -- hmmm, let's see -- prejudice against New Yorkers? You do point out that Yiddish may be known in NYC, but not the rest of the country. Noo Yawkers? Or, perhaps, dare I say it, against Yiddish speakers? Meaning Jews? Doggone it, Notsofast, if doggone it turned up as a clue or an answer, would a New Yorker say, hey, you might say that in the Midwest, but not on the Upper East Side of NYC? Get a grip, Notsofast, and think about your penchant for ignorant and prejudiced statements!

Rob C 2:30 PM  

@jackj - nice post yesterday

chefbea 2:38 PM  

Too busy today to do the puzzle and have been glued to the TV. What an horriffic thing going on in Ct.

Anonymous 3:10 PM  

A really nice puzzle. I had the exact opposite experience as Rex and most commenters- THE BIG SHORT was the first thing in my grid. An interesting read about the financial crisis. I found the SW much more difficult- EVER and DEFIN made things interesting

Ellen S 3:46 PM  

With you on that, @chefbea. I did the puzzle before my son-in-law called to see if I was watching the news. Even then I had a problem because I canceled my cable. Nowadays, we could have WWIII and I wouldn't know about it. Lucky (?) for me there's the internet, with tons of live feed and even @pontifex probably got crowded off Twitter. Before they ID'd the guy, there was angry commentary about how the school should have had better security so people couldn't just wander in. But they did have security. The doors are always locked and people have ring a buzzer to have someone let them in. But if it's the 24-year-old son of one of their kindergarten teachers, and the staff and faculty know him? Who wouldn't let him in? The various blog posts where people mention gun control unleashes a firestorm of abuse against taking advantage of a tragedy to make a political point, I guess that means the price of our freedom is an occasional dozen or so six-year-olds.

I apologize for the above. Please ignore. (Or go again watch the delightful David Sedaris youtube clip "Six to Eight Black Men" -- is it Michigan where a blind person can get a hunting license and can hunt without a sighted companion? Is this a great country or what?) I knew KNOPF from the "K". Knew I knew it, because I've read tons of books from the Borzoi imprint (another dog!) Had no idea about the rapper, like @Lindsay, I figure they spell their names any whichway, so without KNOPF I would have needed Google.

@JackJ -- I don't think that was really a slapdown. I see the folks here slapping Evil Doug -- and then missing him when he's gone, and welcoming him back when he returns. (and then slapping him some more.) I think it was just curiosity about the sort of distant tone? voice? perspective? of your posts -- most everyone else is writing to the other bloggers. But I've found there's room for everything and everybody here--your exegeses, Sanfranman's statistics, my off-topic ramblings. Proof of inclusivity: the advanced solvers love to do the Monday puzzles. Love them all the more when Acme constructs them. I wonder does @rex know what a great community he's attracted?

The Captcha is "onsensc" -- That's when you babble nonsense on and on and on.

sanfranman59 3:58 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Fri 26:51, 24:21, 1.25, 90%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 15:46, 12:11, 1.32, 88%, Challenging

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and loved ones in Newtown, Connecticut. Such unspeakable horror.

OISK 4:33 PM  

Gave up on NE and SE, took a short nap, and then it fell into place. Went to the site and got good news and bad news. The good - A perfect Friday. A struggle, but Fridays are supposed to be tough. The bad - I noticed the Thursday grid. I never checked it, because I finished the puzzle with no problem, I thought! Never got the I.O. theme at all! So I conquered Friday, but was defeated on Thursday. Gonef is New York - Yiddish influenced slang, but no more obscure than some of the slang that appears all the time (that I DON'T know) Very fine puzzle, and very gratifying to have completed it when so much of it was completely outside my wheelhouse.

Charley 4:40 PM  

Have always seen it spelled goniff.

The Big Short is the best thing written about the financial meltdown. Great read.

joho 4:50 PM  

I'm waiting for "The Big Shortz" to be published.

Anonymous 5:45 PM  

Beautifully stated.

I'm with you.

Anonymous 5:48 PM  

The Big Shortz had his own "SPIRAL" puzzle published last Sunday. It was a good one!

Does he get paid $1000 for that?

John V 7:02 PM  

@SanFranMan and @ChefBea. Thank you, from Norwalk, CT.

Tita 7:39 PM  

A real struggle with this puzzle. NW especially, as I had ToT as the answer for Homewrecker?.

Major DNF, as I watched the local news anchor go pale when he passed on the news that it was not 2 children dead, but 14. Then watched in horror as the story unfolded from there on.

Had a few frightened moments while trying to get word from inlaws with kids there. They are ok.

Heroism from the teachers there. Prayers for those whose lives are devastated.

Tita 7:39 PM  
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mac 7:48 PM  

Didn't get to the puzzle until about noon and then of course the news dominated the day. Unspeakable.

I did notice (and got without crosses) the best clue: 21A.

jberg 8:01 PM  

@ACME, bite your tongue! We'll be seeing "ways of the East" sometime soon now.

I found this one really tough, even though I wasn't fooled by the hint of a SIS to SSS word ladder. Oh, wait, that IS a word ladder. Anyway, I had a go at it around 8 AM and got almost nowhere - I think I had LAW for 21A and FLEER for 35A, and the rest was blank. I had to go out, and got back to it at 5PM, when it mostly fell intopolace,though still not easily. (For one thing, I was confusing the filibustered with the murdered mayor of SF, and so trying to fit SAMUEL ALIOTO into too few squares). I also resisted GANEF; I recognized the resemblance to goniff (which I know because Archie Goodwin, the fictional detective, sometimes used the word), but it seemed too unlike it. I finally yielded, though, and guessed the Natick at THE BIG SHORT/RITT correctly (well, not quite a Natick - Lewis writes about fiscal affairs, so that seemed a more likely title than THE BIG SHOOT, and RITT seemed a lot more likely than OITT).

It was KAT-D what did me in. A clear case of how a little knowledge is a dangerous thing - I knew a halide was a halogen salt, which could certainly be a crystal, but I guess they wouldn't be firm enough to be perfect without a little oxygen added. Either way, I want a plural there.

I'm with almost everyone - really tough puzzle, but that's what we want. I'm also with everyond on the horror in CT, of course.

@jackj I missed whatever happened yesterday, but I do enjoy your posts.

Z 8:31 PM  

Early morning meeting in Lansing so I didn't get to the puzzle until late. Tried doing it with half an eye on the news, got 3/4ths done. My ignorance of Cooper and L'Oréal defeated me in the SW.

I have rarely been embarrassed to be a Michigander, but my legislature passed a law last night allowing "highly trained" people to carry concealed weapons in schools. Combined with recent laws against women, unions, and democracy have made it an embarrassing day to be a Michigander. The tragedy in Newtown drives home the insanity of our gun laws.

Ellen S 8:55 PM  

David Sedaris ("Six to Eight Black Men" on Youtube) said blind people are legally allowed to hunt in Michigan and Texas, but said in Texas they must be accompanied by a sighted person, while in Michigan the blind person is allowed to hunt alone. He was wrong. The blind person in Michigan must also have a sighted companion over the age of 18. Michigan Dept. Of Natural Resources says so. That have been in place since at least 2006, when Texas decided to copy them.

jackj 9:45 PM  

Thank you to all who sent encouragement this way.

I’ll just keep on doing my thing and trying not to disturb the neighbors.

Can’t let this day pass without offering deepest sympathy to all the good folk of Newtown who are suffering from the unspeakable evil inflicted on their town.

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 5:56, 6:16, 0.95, 22%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:13, 8:57, 0.92, 20%, Easy-Medium
Wed 10:02, 11:45, 0.85, 15%, Easy
Thu 21:12, 17:03, 1.28, 88%, Challenging
Fri 26:35, 21:27, 1.24, 90%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:33, 3:39, 0.97, 30%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:50, 5:03, 0.96, 34%, Easy-Medium
Wed 6:03, 6:32, 0.93, 29%, Easy-Medium
Thu 12:48, 9:23, 1.36, 88%, Challenging
Fri 14:26, 11:57, 1.21, 80%, Medium-Challenging

Sparky 10:05 PM  

BEATLEMANIA first entry. ALICIAKEYS easy after her caterwauling at the Sandy Show. TLC third. DNF. Big hole around the Beatles. BTUS my only answer. Chipped away at the rest over the course of the day. EVALONGORIA sounds like an illness to me. Prefer Isabella Rossallini for cosmetic spokeswoman. Know John Bull but briefly thought of Britannia.

When I call someone a gonif it's much nastier than a rascal.

Milford 10:07 PM  

Busy and distracted by news reports all day. Puzzle was brutal, but I liked the grid once I completed it (with help from google to dislodge a couple corners).
Someday I will complete this type if puzzle.

Sparky 11:15 PM  

How sad. Terrible, it's hard to take in. My heart goes out to the people of Newtown. Glad you and yours okay Tita and JohnV.

Anonymous 11:55 PM  

Another mineral that occurs in cubic crystals with perfect cleavage and has the same number of letters as Halite is Galena, an ore of lead.

SharonNYC 2:51 AM  

Got sis, Beatlemania and Saki right away. Otherwise, did a lot of long staring and ruminating over clues until the answers finally started to pop into place...which for me makes for a FUN, if slow puzzle. A lot of the clueing was splendidly inventive.

My one issue is with GANEF, which I ultimately came here for. Let me point out, I speak Hebrew and have command of the most common Yiddish words used here, goniff included. So here's the deal: In Hebrew, the word is indeed ganav,pronounced gahNAHV, with a distinct V. In Yiddish, that first A is read as an O, and the pronunciation becomes goniv--which is usually pronounced not with the hard O in go or no, but a cross between an O and "uh." The A is JUST NOT right, either as a literal or colloquial transliteration. The final F is technically wrong, but OK as it is a more or less accurate reflection of the colloquial pronounciation here. And, it flat out means thief.

Spacecraft 10:45 AM  

DNF, second day in a row :(. First entry turned out to be a mistake: EVER--as in the number featured in "High Society." But that was corrected by the long acrosses in the SW. So too did the NW fall when STARSTRUCK finally entered my brain. But the NE? Too much I didn't know. Despite getting BEATLEMANIA off nothing at all, I couldn't get going. Michael Lewis...who? And the filibuster thing, I just forgot. The only EAMES I know is Goren's partner on L&O:CI. When I see the word "rapper" my mind goes blank. I neither know nor care to know anything at all about rap or hiphop. Just not my thing. I'd just as soon not see any of them in a crossword--or anywhere else.

With a heavy heart, I resorted to Google, getting the NE. But then I ran into Ms. Lynne, as posted above, and gave up. Never heard of a MCMANSION. Also, I don't think "Percolate" is a very good definition for SEEPIN. "Osmose" would be much better. I was thinking either SEETHE or SEE RED, but could make neither work. "Stiff" for PRIM won't win any accuracy awards, either.

I did want UMPED/UNCLESAM, but couldn't build on them.

A "series of unfortunate" clues in the SE ruined this one for me, ALTHO any grid containing EVALONGORIA is an automatic thumbs-up with me.

BRUTAL captchas today. Finally found the 7th one legible.

rondo 12:36 PM  

Rare Friday DEMISE. DNF due to the SW

DMGrandma 2:46 PM  

Join those who found wild guesses somehow fell into place. How else would I get EVALONGORIA off just the "v"? But, in the end, I had a lot of empty spaces. DEsiSist for DEMISE. Too many names I just didn't know, and figured the relative of the one I did know, JOHNBULL, would have to also be English. And unable to complete 30D from what I had, I put in iCemachiNe, which I guess if it leaked could have pool?!
I was hoping my brain would check-in today, but I guess it's still sleeping off yesterday's flubs.

Waxy in Montreal 3:06 PM  

STARSTRUCK, I STANDASIDE in awe and FACEREALITY. The matchless Ms. GAMACHE is the TOPPS, the most DEFT EVAH...

rain forest 4:58 PM  

Major DNF today. Totally Gamached. There was too much that I just didn't know: filibuster target, rapper, director, singer, book, cosmetic ad person, LA house, and on and on. I did get the NW, with some effort, and had ELKHOUND coming out of that section, but pretty well screeched to a halt. Does anyone really say "face reality"? In any case, I guess that's what I did.

Dirigonzo 5:55 PM  

I filled in the NW section with nary a write-over; in the NE "Go away!" was a problem until BEATLEMANIA and SAMUELALITO let me go ONIN and the crosses produced THEBIGSHORT. In the SE, on the strength of the INDOORPOOL feature and the C from TLC, I wrote in schoolgyms - by the time I got that little mistake straightened out the whole section was an almost illegible mess. In the end I didn't know the publisher KNOPF or the slang/Yiddish GANEF and I had run out of lucky guesses so it was all for naught. I enjoyed the challenge, though, and feel like I am in pretty good company of other DNFers.

Ginger 6:17 PM  

I cry UNCLE. Took a couple of passes through, trying for a toe hold, without much luck. Then hit Google, trying to wedge that foot in. Put the puzzle down and then came back to it with moderate success. Came here for the last little bit. That said, I found it interesting and challenging (obviously). Love BEATLEMANIA, INDOORPOOL, EVALONGORIA, and all the stacked 10s and 11s. Impressive.

It's been 5 weeks since that awful day in Conn. My heart aches for the families. I'm appalled (but not surprised) at the reaction of the testosterone fueled gun lobby who are so afraid that their ....oops. what I really want to say is unprintable,

Anonymous 2:19 AM  

okay the clue for 25a is wrong! Katt Williams is not a rapper, he is a comedian and an actor. It really bugs me that other posters whine about rappers being included in the NYT puzzle yet have no problem with rock, opera or jazz singers being included. Open your mind people. Music is wonderful in all its forms.

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