Polish border river / FRI 12-21-12 / Hans Christian pioneer of electromagnetism / Legendary creature similar to Sphinx / 500s in Dewey Decimal classification / Crabtree retailer of body products / Director Thomas H of silent era / Title girl in John Cougar #1 hit / Fitz old comic strip by Mort Walker

Friday, December 21, 2012

Constructor: Zoe Wheeler

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Hans Christian OERSTED (42A: Hans Christian ___, pioneer of electromagnetism) —

Hans Christian Ørsted (Danish: [hans kʰʁæsd̥jan ˈɶɐ̯sd̥ɛð]; often rendered Oersted in English; 14 August 1777 – 9 March 1851) was a Danish physicist and chemist who discovered that electric currents create magnetic fields, an important aspect of electromagnetism. He shaped post-Kantian philosophy and advances in science throughout the late 19th century.
In 1824, Ørsted founded Selskabet for Naturlærens Udbredelse (SNU), a society to disseminate knowledge of the natural sciences. He was also the founder of predecessor organizations which eventually became the Danish Meteorological Institute and the Danish Patent and Trademark Office. Ørsted was the first modern thinker to explicitly describe and name the thought experiment.
A leader of the so-called Danish Golden Age, Ørsted was a close friend of Hans Christian Andersen and the brother of politician and juristAnders Sandøe Ørsted, who eventually served as Danish prime minister (1853–54).
The oersted (Oe), the cgs unit of magnetic H-field strength, is named after him. (wikipedia)
• • •

So, let's start with the good, because there is some. "THE BOOK OF MORMON" is splashy (17A: Winner of nine 2011 Tonys), and I'm intrigued by the MANTICORE in the RICE PADDY (who wouldn't be?) (32D: Legendary creature similar to the Sphinx + 33D: Certain irrigated cropland). I've seen GO COMMANDO recently (14A: Not be underdressed?), but it's still got a high freshness factor, and I don't believe I've seen ANGRY BIRDS in a grid yet, so ... congrats on bagging that one (58A: Fad of 2010-11). The rest did not go down so well with me. A 72-word themeless should be Smooth As Butter—the kind that wholesome maidens churn by hand. This one was Not. ICAL ACTER INO INCE — it's like Ugly Suffixes on Parade, except *only one of them* is actually a suffix. Also, generally, if you've got ugly fill, do Not attract attention to it, and do Not put your difficulty there. Just don't. So, for instance, the ugly partial ON ONE should not get the absurd and arbitrary clue [Two-___], especially if elsewhere in the grid you have used the word "ONE" in yet another absurd, arbitrary clue (i.e. [39A: One-___]=>ACTER). Honestly, I hated the word "ONE" by the time I was done with this thing. Then there's the ugly partial OR SEA—and oh, look, there's SEA in a different clue for an almost-as-ugly answer: INO (55D: Sea goddess who saved Odysseus). OERSTED is, I'm sure, an important person, but there's nothing inferrable about his name if you don't know him (I sure didn't), and putting him under another not-terribly-famous proper noun (i.e. NANCE) (40A: "Twin Peaks" actor Jack) makes that area a bit unreasonable. Really wish everything underneath SKYPE and extending to the SW corner had been torn out and redone. If you've got a cluster&$^% like ACTER/SROS/AROLE, esp. in a should-be-fillable 72-worder, it's time to rethink things. (Beautiful clue on SKYPE, though—36A: Ring with a face attached?)

[29A: Title girl in a John Cougar #1 hit]

Difficulty level was also uneven. NW went down in a flash, despite my never having heard of "The ICE PALACE" (3D: F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, with "The'). But then the middle and NE refused to budge. NE was especially irksome, as ... well, ODRA was up there, and that's never good, but my bigger problem was reasonable wrong answers at 21A: Off (ERRING) (I had ERRANT; better!) and 24A: Corrodes (EATS INTO) (I had EATS AWAY; better!). SALMA Hayek is the only SALMA I know, and she's Mexican-American, so 30A: Female Arabic name meaning "peace" was a total surprise. I had J-LO for 20A: Figure in a celebrated 2004 breakup. Then I got the -EN and though "Oh, they want the *other* half of the break-up: BEN." Uh, no (KEN, as in "Barbie and...").

I think that's all. Good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:14 AM  

I got in this one pretty easily and made nice progress, despite a number of key entries simply being things I didn't know. I see that ANGRY BIRDS is a big thing; never heard of it until today. A shockingly lucky guess on MANTICORE, because I didn't know NANCE or OERSTED. Had to trust the crosses for ODRA.

ERRANT on top of EATS AWAY slowed up the NE and accounted for 8 of 10 write-overs, which is very low for me on Friday/Saturday.

The ADIA / INCE cross is probably going to screw the most people out of a correct solve. At least it had to be vowel, and I guessed right there also.

Mostly uninspired cluing I thought (though I really liked the one for SALMA), but a nice mix of entries (interesting trivia / current and trendy / stuff for old people / ancient crap).

I've never been more surprised to check a solution and find that it was correct.

jae 12:54 AM  

Zippy tough Fri. mostly  because I DNF.   Had ERRant, went with ADMaN, had no idea about the Barrio clue, and thought the river was ODer (which apparently it is if you live somewhere other than Poland).  So, TANtO made no sense but I was stuck.  Nerts!

MetaRex 12:56 AM  

No accounting for taste!...I get Rex's hating on the fill, but I loved the sexiness of this puzz.

I'm in lust with Zoe Wheeler...GO COMMANDO, THE BOOK OF MORMON, OBSCENE, EATS INTO, APPLE PIE A LA MODE, THE WORKS, ANGRY BIRDS, SALMA and maybe other tributes to indulgence that I'm missing.

Also like the long non-sexy answers. ICE PALACE for a Fitzgerald story was especially pleasing--never heard of it...makes me think of a Minnesota boy at a swell winter college event with dames and flasks...or maybe the boy is now a middle-aged man back in Minnesota and things haven't gone so well with his life...the answer gives exactly the kind of quick CWP "aha" flash that's pleasing even though you know you'll forget the info.


chefwen 2:22 AM  

This one fell surprisingly easy for me (unlike most Fridays) until I tried to tackle the NE, that's when I came to a screeching halt. TANTO ??? EATSaway, as others have mentioned before EATS INTO. ODRA, of course I had ODer. Oh well, I had a lot of fun with the rest of it and took joy in the fact that I was able to finish.

On to Saturday!

Evan 3:25 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evan 3:29 AM  

I have a funny and 100% true story involving today's constructor. I'm hoping she'll chime in to recall this as well.

In late June, I went to Cape Cod with my then-fiancée (now wife) to attend a wedding. My friends and I had some time before the ceremony, so we went down to the beach to go for a swim. At some point while swimming, a young woman came to the edge of the water and I overheard her asking two people (perhaps her parents) for a crossword answer. She had been working on Liz Gorski's puzzle from Sunday, June 24, and she wanted to know a five-letter word for a varnish ingredient, beginning with EL-. I knew that one instantly since I once submitted a puzzle to the NYT (since rejected) with that exact answer.

So, feeling all smart and stuff, I shuffled over in their direction and said, "Excuse me, I think I know the answer. It's ELEMI." The mother asked me if I was a big crossword guy. I said yes, and was hoping to get a publication in the Times one day. She said, "Oh, that's great. Our niece has gotten a few puzzles published in the New York Times before." I was stunned. I asked them who she was, and they said it was Zoe Wheeler. I recognized her name from various NYT bylines as well as Natan Last's puzzle book Word!

Then, these two middle-aged folks asked if I wanted to meet Zoe. Apparently, she was at the beach too. So I got out of the water and followed them to a group of six young, college-aged women relaxing on the sand. Zoe stood up, I introduced myself, and complimented her on her previous puzzles. We talked for a little bit about constructing -- Zoe and I each submitted a puzzle to the Twenty Under Thirty crossword contest that Ben Tausig ran last summer. But the funniest moment was that the other women on the beach -- all in their swimsuits and at least a couple of them working on some puzzles on their own -- turned over to see me, this strange guy in his swimsuit, talking about crossword puzzles and giving their friend some props for her constructing cred. One of them said, "Wow, Zoe, you're a rock star!"

Here are my takeaway lessons about this chance encounter:

1. Being a crossword constructor can get you groupies. Take note, Anyone Who's Ever Considered Making Puzzles Of Your Own.

2. I am quite sure that this is the only time in human history that several swimsuit-clad women were somewhat fascinated by an unknown, random, and (of course) shirtless guy on the beach because of crossword puzzles. This should absolutely never, ever happen. But it did happen. And now that I'm married, I'm damn near-certain that I'll never get that kind of attention from random women on the beach again.

3. What are the odds that Zoe and I would be on the same beach on the same day at the same time? And even after taking that freak coincidence into account, what are the odds that I would have had the chance to meet her? I definitely wouldn't have been able to tell this story if I didn't know right away that ELEMI was the correct answer to a random crossword clue.

JackLee 4:54 AM  

@Evan: awwww! Aren't we glad the world hasn't ended? Am waiting to see B'AK'TUN in a crossword soon.

Today's puzzle was easier than usual. I normally can't finish Friday's without copious help from Google, but only had to use it a few times today.

Adia Cohosting Manticore 5:49 AM  

Hand up for EATSaway/ODer/ERRant...mess , but I loved untangling till i got TANGO...fancy!
One mistake:: NeC/OEeSTED. Dumb.

ADIA/INCE no reason for that, maybe it was LIANE/ALIA at one point.

The best thing is Zoe is young, smart, beautiful, modest and one of the rare women to have a Friday themeless published.

GOCOMMANDO was in Tom Pepper 's fun GO puzzle, but as @Rex said, still feels fresh, maybe because prob not much overlap between Mon and Fri solvers.

Don't know what to make of RRated and XRated as being TORRID. And OBSCENE...seems a bit overwrought.

Acme 6:05 AM  

Having so many problems posting editing on this...and was cut off, but just wanted to say bravo all around.

@Evan, to encourage construction for potential groupies is the Silliest thing I've ever heard...just ask @dk!

Anonymous 6:56 AM  

Salma Hayek is of Lebanese descent.

Special Agent Dale Cooper 7:00 AM  

I prefer Cherry Pie and damn fine coffee at the Double R Diner.

Jack Nance, a David Lynch favorite, is more renowned for Eraserhead.

OTD 7:05 AM  

Agree with Rex on the little fill, but enjoyed THE BOOK OF MORMON, APPLE PIE ALA MODE, ANGRY BIRDS, MANTICORE, AND ICE PALACE. Had to dig out OERSTED. Hardest was the NE.

Elle54 7:07 AM  

Had the same experience as @jae. NE was tough. Cute story @Evan!

Ω 7:10 AM  


Otherwise, too many proper names.

Milford 7:13 AM  

Such a relief to read here that others struggled mightily with the NE today! Had the same ERRant, TeNtO, EATS away mess as described, and the One- and Two- clues were absolutely baffling me.

So strange, because I think I got THE BOOK OF MORMON off just the F. So the long answers were my toe-holds for the smaller fill, which is just backwards for me.

Initially entered sillY BanDS before ANGRY BIRDS. They were these piece-of-crap plastic bracelets that were the rage in schools a couple-ish years ago.

Loved RICE PADDY, GO COMMANDO, THE WORKS plus the cluing for SMOKES and SKYPE, although the latter took forever for me to get. Never, ever heard of MANTICORE, but looking it up I recognize it. I had to come here to figure out who KEN was. There was a break-up?

Happy Solstice!

RodeoToad 7:31 AM  

The Baby Party has the same number of letters as The Ice Palace. My favorite Fitzgerald story, one of the most haunting you'll ever read, is "Winter Dreams."

Agree with Rex about the rough spots. I flunked the puzzle because of Nance and Oersted. Also went with errant instead of erring and ... adman [?] instead of admin, so flunked up there too, though I'll take the blame for that.

I'd never heard of Adia until a couple of months ago, and now I see it again. In 1998 I didn't listen to the radio, I guess.

Glimmerglass 8:21 AM  

Very hard puzzle (that's a good thing). Started with lots of blank space on top but worked my way up from the bottom, which is only medium. Finally got most of the top, but got beaten twice (ORA/ADMIN and ADIA/DIANE). Guessed wrong. I can't complain -- I've been lucky guessing recently.

MetaRex 8:23 AM  

Stuff on Zoe's puzzle and Rex's reax is in the link below...

[this is kind of a test to see if I got the instructions in Rex's link on posting in html right...doubt it :)]

My Web Page

joho 8:34 AM  

In this puzzle I wish that Hans Christian OERSTED wasn't just friends with Hans Christian Andersen, I wish he WERE Hans Christian Andersen! I know him, the other guy, not so much. I didn't know NANCE either and chose vANCE/vlC. :(

@Rex, again your write-up pretty much captured my experience with this one.

My favorite answer: ANGRYBIRDS.

@Evan, great story!

Congratulations, Zoe, for your first Friday ... is this your first Friday?

evil doug 9:02 AM  


Great story and everything---as far as it goes. But is that it? That's the climax (npi), just meeting another crossword nerd?

There you are, swimsuits and groupies and shirtless and not married yet---last chance! c'mon!---and no Happy Ending or anything? I'm sure your fiance would have understood. It was kismet!

Geez, make something up if you have to. Really looking for something more: 'Torrid', Last 'Tango', 'obscene', 'two on one', 'v-chip' worthy, 'trash', 'smokes' when you're done, an 'all-pro' performance, a 'pdf' photo posted on-line---you know, 'the works'.

Tsk, tsk....


r.alphbunker 9:04 AM  

Great story. Sounds like a McGuffin in a spy movie. I read somewhere that during World War II a cryptic crossword compiler in England accidentally included a top secret code word as an answer and was suspected of being a spy.

I enjoyed the fresh fill in the puzzle. Think of the lesser quality fill as the ads that pay for the good stuff.

Today is the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year. In Rexville it is Shortz day marking the one year anniversary of Will's Shortz's post to the blog complaining about Rex's complaining.

evil doug 9:05 AM  

Oh, one other thing: Sergeants ('sgts') are non-commissioned officers, not officers. Big difference. Not a tricky clue, just a bad one.


jackj 9:22 AM  

If the clue “Female Arabic name meaning “peace” has you wondering how Ms. Hayek, a Mexican-American got an Arabic name, a google search lets you know that her father is of Lebanese descent. But, when you do that search, the second most popular site listed by Google takes you to “SALMA Hayek bra size”; talk about TMI! (Well, it’s 36C if you must know).

Zoe bulks up her constructing resume with this, her first themeless puzzle for the NY Times, and laces it with fun contemporariana, such as THEBOOKOFMORMON, SKYPE and ANGRYBIRDS to point out three of the better known ones.

Much of the puzzle filled easily as EMO, EATSINTO, EVELYN, even that old sneaky hotel entry, SROS (Single Room Occupancy), were quick fills, but then Zoe apparently used her own search engine to track down ADIA, INCE, ODRA and OERSTED, (my first try was OENTGEN, ugh), as examples of answers only a Maleskan would love.

But, topping all is the MANTICORE and after reading about this creature in Wikipedia, and learning it has the head of a human, the body of a lion, the teeth of a shark and the tail of a dragon and who “devours its prey whole and leaves no clothes, bones, or possessions of the prey behind”, his cousin, the Egyptian Sphinx, seems like Mr. Rogers, by comparison.

Good stuff from Zoe but how does one decide whether her clue for GOCOMMANDO today is better than Tom Pepper’s of last February, “Leave the drawers in the drawer, say”; choosing between them is just a pain in the unvarnished tush.

Thanks, Zoe, I’ve learned things I never knew I needed to know!

Horney Guy 9:42 AM  

My palate isn't sophisticated enough to differentiate between butter churned by wholesome maidens vs churned by kind of slutty, experienced young women. I'm guessing that even if it were, the trade off wouldn't be worth it.

Sarah 9:49 AM  

In fact, both SALMA Hayek and Shakira are of Arab descent -- there's a pretty large middle eastern diaspora throughout Latin America (Asians too -- Peru had an Asian president well before the US could consider a nonwhite leader).

Carola 9:55 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 9:57 AM  

Loved Evan's story. And if doug doesn't think happening upon an NYT constructor isn't climactic enough, he cannot be a true puzzle nerd :-) I would be thrilled (though no way wouldnImhave known the answer Evan did).

Liked the puzzle just fine with the exception of the point Rex made about the suffixes, which did wear on me after a while.

Carola 9:57 AM  

Thought it was terrific, though DNF. Talk about ERRING all over the place in that NE corner. Like others, I ended with ODRe/TeNGO, having just reversed the last two letters in the river when ODer wouldn't work. Wish I'd thought about an "A."

Loved SACRE crossing OBSCENE. Great clue for SKYPE. MANTICORE and ANGRY BIRDS, PIE ALA MODE and SASHIMI, ICE PALACE and BOOk OF MORMON...lots to like!

@ED - Thanks for the info on SGTS, as I also DNF due to having the officers be aGTS. Now I can chalk it up to a bad clue :)

Thanks, Zoe Wheeler - loved THE whole WORKS.

9:55 AM

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Too many dreary proper nouns for me. Makes the puzzle easier for those who are good at names, but makes it dull for me.

CodeReader 9:59 AM  

You don't need the *blogger[dot]com/* part. Delete it and the link works.

Two Ponies 10:49 AM  

Tough in a good way esp. the NE.
I think I knew manticore from an album cover or liner notes from Emerson, Lake, and Palmer perhaps. Tarkus? Any help @ dk?
With all of these proper names that I did not know I can't believe I got through this. That must make it medium.
Happy Solstice!

jae 10:54 AM  

ED is absolutely right on NCOs not being officers. Their paygrade designations start with E for enlisted (e.g. E-6, E-7) not O. I was going to mention it but it was too depressed about my DNF. Thanks for catching that ED.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

NCO = Non Commissioned Officer. It's the friggin definition.

NCOs became officers by working for it, not being appointed to it.

Oldactor 11:15 AM  

Loved having "arole" crossing a "one-acter" and can't a
Sgt. be a police officer?

evil doug 11:31 AM  

Vice president. He's a president, then, right? It's the friggin' definition....

NCO's act as supervisors to younger enlisted troops, but the highest ranking NCO yields authority to the most junior 2nd lieutenant who received his commission and pinned his bars on yesterday. The two groups are not rated on the same scales: In the Air Force, for example, NCO's are issued Airman Proficiency Reports; officers receive Officer Effectiveness reports. Finally, go up to any NCO and ask him/her, "So you're an officer, right? It's in the friggin' definition, right?", and he/she will say, "No, I'm enlisted."

I understand crossword clues meant to mislead on technicalities, etc. But this one doesn't fly, at least on the military definitions. I'll yield to cops on how they're titled.

USAF, 1973-1979

GILL I. 11:36 AM  

I started out enjoying this puzzle but, like @Rex, two many one's spoiled the SOPS.
ACTER is just plain TORRID. I don't know Jack about sailing and apparently neither does Webster.
And, isn't it MRS Fitz's Flats?
I did like the long entries though. Every single time I see APPLE PIE A LA MODE it reminds me of the first time I saw it on a Spanish menu written as: Apple Pie de manzana.
Never heard of ANGRY BIRDS and my favorite SACRE is Bleu.
Learned a few things so that's good. and speaking of good, Love SASHIMI and just saying the word makes me hungry.

jberg 11:42 AM  

So now we have to know Polish! Like everyone, I learned about the Oder-Neisse Line in junior high, so that went right in. And since I thought TAFT was TR's Vice President (but maybe that was in his second term), so that corner was the last to fall - or it would have been, except that I didn't connect 29A with "Jack and Diane" and ended up making a stab at it and missing, with AlIA/lIANE.

Aside from the error, this one was still pretty tough - for a long time I had was ODer and EVELYN (I didn't see 59A or I would have had that, too). Then suddenly the whole S half came together, and something - maybe OBSCENE - gave me THE BOOK OF MORMON, and it gradually worked out.

@Evan, the question is, which beach was it? I bet some of them are full of crossworlders.

Speaking of OBSCENE, the captcha is too suggestive to reproduce here.

Lewis 11:51 AM  

Yes, especially if you've been in the service, you know that a sergeant is not an officer.

So many proper names. I went as far as I could without Google, then finally had to Google twice. But it felt good to finish, and I learned some good things.

I've always said "one act play", never "one-ACTER" but I see it is commonly used. I think EATSINTO (which I put right in) is better than EATSaway. Just when I think I've come across all the European rivers...

Tita 11:56 AM  

GOCOMMANDO always reminds me of one of my all-time favorite puzzles by Tomi Pepper...

Didn't think Two ONONE could possibly be right, so I googled it - doesn't pass the breakfast test...any sports-related meanings did not show up on page 1 of the results, anyway (what WAS i thinking...?)

The naticks were many for me, and IMO, not worthy of a Friday - for all the reasons @Rex said.

Did love the great stuff, as he pointed out, but also include APPLEPIEALAMODE and THEWORKS (though had THEWORld for a long time.

Fun story, @Evan.

Evan 12:24 PM  

@Evil Doug:

To say nothing of how my wife was keeping an eye on me, I'm pretty sure that Zoe wouldn't like seeing her name come up in an internet forum when total strangers (mostly middle-aged ones) are talking about kinky stuff. Embellishing a story with erotic lies to satisfy your dirty mind doesn't work so well when the other person involved in the story a) can read it herself, and b) is someone that I could potentially see again (at crossword tournaments or whatever). Didn't anyone ever tell you that you should only embellish a story if you knew there was no way that it could come back to bite you in the ass?

Besides, I garnered plenty of salacious stories from my pre-married life -- but as I said before, they never involve crosswords.


I'm pretty sure BEQ would take issue with the idea that crossword constructing can't get you groupies. From page 88 of Crossworld by Marc Romano:

"'Hey, man,' a voice said to me. I looked up and standing before me was Brendan Emmett Quigley -- it was odd, I thought that the first person to address me personally at the tournament should be he, the only crossword-puzzle constructor of my acquaintance and my guide in this strange new cruciverbalist territory.

'Hey, Brendan,' I think I said. 'Where are sitting?'

'Uh ...' He glanced around with a preoccupied expression that, along with his cropped red hair, lankiness and almost perennial baseball cap, is his trademark look. 'Not here. I'll be at the bar. Gotta talk to some people.'

'Okay, then. Maybe later.'

'Yeah, I'll catch you then.'

As he walked off, I noted he was being closely trailed by two or three twenty-something young men, one of them with a video camera on his shoulder. The trappings of fame, I thought to myself, even in a world as small as this one."

Evan 12:26 PM  


I have no idea which beach it was, but I think it was near Harwich Port.

evil doug 12:35 PM  

"I'm pretty sure BEQ would take issue with the idea that crossword constructing can't get you groupies."

Three men are following him around, and you call them 'groupies'?

Man, that story is no better than yours....


John V 12:42 PM  

Late to the party, as we got home at 2:00 a.m. from the Leonard Cohen show at the Barclay Center last night. Wow! He is the man!

Absolutely everything @Rex said, esp the NE; yep I had ERRANT, EATSINTO, too. Zoe does great stuff, but I'd not put this one on that short list.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

"I'm pretty sure that Zoe wouldn't like seeing her name come up. . ."

I'm pretty sure that Zoe can enjoy the joke (or dismiss it if she doesn't). Jeez, the PC people.

Notsofast 1:50 PM  

This puzzle was a mixed bag for me. Loved parts and hated parts. Reading "some officers" I thought "no, she wouldn't make this SGTS, would she?" And then, bingo!

Michael Hanko 1:54 PM  

If I ever find myself lucky enough to be followed around by a coterie of 20-something guys, you can betcha I'll thereafter refer to them as my groupies.

Unknown 1:54 PM  

A fluid mind would think police for seargent for officer. The clue is fine, present day militarism leads to illogical conclusions!

Bird 2:01 PM  

This one was not too bad, but took a lot of work and ink to get done. Multiple write-overs, especially the NE, as I solved this one – ERRANT (which gave me PR MAN, after correcting EATS AWAY at 24A, for 11D), NCOS and SKA. I like 14A, 17A, 54A and 58A (nice long answers) as well as 3D and 37D. I did not like all the short fill-in-the-blank stuff (ugly). And no excuse for ADIA crossing INCE.

@Evan – great story and I like @dk’s response as well

@joho – You know Hans Christian Andersen?! How is he doing?

@Metarex – try this handy site: html help


Evan 2:10 PM  

@Anonymous 1:18:

I'm pretty sure that others will understand that I was ribbing Evil Doug for his dirty joke and trying to get me involved in it. I barely know Zoe, so I find it funny that ED would ask me to post fictitious, salacious details about my encounter with her in a public forum when doing so could get me in trouble later.

But by all means, continue your tirade against the "PC people."

Davis 2:13 PM  

This was one of those puzzles that landed square in my comfort zone, allowing me to set a new Friday record for myself. I started in hoping GO COMMANDO was correct (because I loved it), immediately put in THE BOOK OF MORMON as the only musical that's made a splash in the past year or so, and from there it was off to the races.

I thought the clue for SKYPE was nice, I love me some SASHIMI, and MANTICORE is a word that appeals to the fantasy/RPG nerd that still lives inside of me. I remembered OERSTED as a unit from my physics classes, and figured it was named after someone. The better half and I just watched through Twin Peaks, so NANCE came quickly. TORRID is just a fun word (especially in a puzzle with OBSCENE). And ANGRY BIRDS is still a fun game, even if it has gotten a little stale.

Agree with Rex that some of the shorter fill was bad. ODRA, INO and INCE would have been awful if not for crosses. V-CHIP has survived far beyond its shelf-life. I went for HiP TO before RESALE showed me I was ERRING, but I think in retrospect I like HEP TO.

Overall a very serviceable puzzle in my book.

Bird 2:14 PM  

I just checked my html link and it's broken. The web site is www.­w3schools.­com/­sitemap.­asp

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Bird 2:16 PM  

Last entry then on to vacation (copy and paste the wrong address) . . .

html help = http://www.w3schools.com/HTML/default.asp

syndy 2:20 PM  

The ne was my last ouypost as zoe can add me to her bag up there.otherwise I finished about half a normal friday time.The names I didn't know where swallowed up my crosses pretty easily.I must agree that Zoe's partials were particularly painful!(in a looking back over it kinda way )My favorite writeover was SCRIP for 48 across..

MetaRex 2:24 PM  

Thx, CodeReader...another try at the link...

My Web Page

MetaRex 2:31 PM  

Okay, I'll try Bird's way as well as one last link try...happy and merry to all!


My Web Page

Sparky 2:59 PM  

Like Bunny Berigan I couldn't get started with this one. Nice story @Evan. Have a good weekend everyone.

Lewis 3:13 PM  

I can't believe I still have the THERE IS NOTHING LIKE A DAME ear worm going on in my head, from the other day...

retired_chemist 3:30 PM  

Crushed me. Got about 50% through and needed to start Googling. Bah. Too much stuff outside my frame of reference and I had no time to sit and try to figure it out.

SGTS is misclued as others have said. Tried CAPS, MAJS, GENS, COLS - no luck of course. Do. not. understand. the clue for SKYPE. Wanted AYLA for 26D. Googled for ADIA (which I have head of anyway). D???? for 29A might have been DAISY but wasn't.


Oh well - tomorrow is another day.

Qvart 3:54 PM  

Normally I only check this site when I'm completely stumped, but I figured I'd give a full week of reading comments here and posting my thoughts a try. The only problem with that is during the week I'm not able to sit down with the puzzle and laptop until at least 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon, by which time everything I have to say (and more!) has been covered. It's been fun reading everyone's comments this week though.

As for authors...I've never paid attention to the names. And I don't think as deeply about construction as Rex and other commentators who post here. So reading this blog for a whole week has given me some new perspectives on the puzzles I've been doing for what seems like forever now. Honestly, it sounds like some of you feel more strongly about whether a puzzle is good or not (based on criteria I don’t really think about, but am starting to see a little better now). My main gripe is when a puzzle doesn’t challenge me as much as I would like it to (e.g., last Saturday). So, Zoe – whoever you are, wherever you are – nice puzzle. I read quite a few clues and sketched a few answers before I felt confident enough to ink one in. That’s usually a good sign that I’m in for a little bit of work – and I was.

Anyway..........not too many write-overs today (six). The NE was the worst and spent too much time hung up on ERRANT. Yep, count me in on that one too. The way I see it, "Off" didn't really imply that the answer might be a verb. Took me awhile to wrap my mind around the idea that ERRING could be right (even though I sketched ADMIN without any crosses to confirm it, and the “I” obviously meant ERRANT was, well, ERRANT). Of course, that wasn't the only self-inflicted problem for me in the NE: I just couldn't see TANGO for awhile. Duh! That shouldn't have stumped me for so long.

Fun answers: GO COMMANDO (“under”dressed). THE BOOK OF MORMON – I know absolutely nothing about Broadway, but even I’ve heard of that show. SKYPE – had me hung up briefly on “ring,” but must be because I’m getting old. “Ring” someone on a phone doesn’t mean I think of “ring” someone on SKYPE. Oh well, I figured it out. ANGRY BIRDS – the clue was vague enough I couldn’t answer it outright, but after a couple letters were filled in…nice!

Not so fun answers: ADIA and INCE. Got them with the crosses. ICE PALACE, OERSTED, NANCE. Vaguely remember hearing all three at some point…some time…in the vague past…but not enough to help me fill them in without crossing answers. SROS and SWALES??? Didn’t like those two at all.

But hey…overall, I enjoyed it. Anytime I have to work a bit to get it done is good. Started on it sitting in my car before a chiropractor appointment (about 21 mins) and finished it when I got home (5 mins). Nearly a half hour is proof that it wasn’t heavy on the gimmes. Kudos.

Bring on Saturday!

Qvart 4:28 PM  

BTW, these are still selling at my store.

Notsofast 4:45 PM  

Okay, "SGTS" is fine. I remember "The HE-man Woman-Haters Club" had a Sergeant-at-arms. So, never inajoimind.

Ω 5:04 PM  

@Evil 9:02 - I could not agree more. Pictures are definitely required.

@Evil 9:05 - I thought it was a bad clue, too.

@Evil 11:35 - Yep, again. I guess the police definition might be stretched to fit the clue, but it feels like a stretch to me.

@Qvart - Yep - amazing what you start seeing when you visit here everyday. I hope you stick around.

And let me finish by saying that I'm deeply offended by people who agree with everybody. Where's the fun in that?

OISK 5:24 PM  

Not a good puzzle for me. The most objectionable cross, Adia with Ince and Diane, none of which I have ever heard of, I somehow guessed correctly, but two pop song lyrics shouldn't cross each other like that. I had errant, the more logical answer for "off", but never changed it, and so missed some of the NE. I have no idea what romance de Barrio is, but getting "Tinto" as an answer (or Tanto, since I don't know Polish) I figured it might be a painter I have never heard of. I don't like "Admin" as a frequenter of web forums. There are much better cluing possibilities. But I should not have left "adman" which did not seem right, and can't blame Mr. Wheeler for the error. The "ince-adia " cross is blameworthy.

Acme 5:42 PM  

@oisk i don't blame you for not reading all the comments, but at least know Zoe ain't no Mr.!

Merle 5:46 PM  

Just scrolled through the comments. Don't you folks know today is the end of the world? Talk nice!

Like Rex, and others, I toyed with errant and eats away, which slowed down the NE somewhat. Never heard the phrase go commando before, have no idea what it has to do with not being under dressed, but the answer I got from crosses looked right, so I kept it. Go know, go commando.

Adia and Ince an odd cross, you have to know one if you don't know the other, or you have to make a lucky guess. Not a great cross.

Manticore, rice paddy, apple pie a la mode, made the lower part of the puzzle very easy. I must have seen the phrase angry birds somewhere in the past year, have no idea what kind of fad they are, but once I had birds, the crosses helped yield angry.

Had swamp instead of swale, which slowed down the SW for a bit. But apple pie cleaned up the swamp and gave me swale.

Derived Salma from my knowledge of the words salaam and shalom, both meaning peace, and realized that the name ending in a needed an s, an l, and an m, and the name probably was Salma or Selma. Changed sir to aye, and got Salma.

Very nice puzzle. An appropriate for Friday sufficient challenge. I look forward to more of Zoe Wheeler's work.

Merle 5:52 PM  

OISK, "Romance de Barrio" is a song, the name of a tango. Once I realized that the answer was tango, I gave up errant for erring. Agree that admin is not a good answer for frequenter of web forums. But adman would be an even poorer answer. Admins don't frequent web forums, they maintain web forums.

JFC 5:56 PM  

Today Rex makes comments about the puzzle and not puzzlers and nails it.

Agree with ED about the clue for SGTS. NCOs are never referred to as officers in the military even though the O in NCO means officer. But the Times was never big on the military, so technically it works for Will.

@Evan, nice story and if Zoe weren't so cute there probably would be any salacious commentary coming from the dark side. I only wish I were middle-aged....


JFC 5:58 PM  

@Evan, read "would" as "wouldn't."

Doc John 7:36 PM  

Pretty much agree with Rex's take on this one. Add me to the list of people who think the Carolinas area of the grid was bordering on the unfair. Three esoteric names and then an esoteric object (Crossjack) to round out the area. Crossed by a legendary creature unknown to most make this very hard to get. Somehow managed to pull NANCE out of somewhere which provided the traction to fill it in but there was still a lot of guessing.

Doc John 7:39 PM  

I also used the same logic as Merle to come up with SALMA. Who says all those years of Hebrew school were for naught?

OISK 9:52 PM  

I feel pretty foolish - I did read all the comments, AND I know that Zoe (Zoe Caldwell) is a woman's name. Have no idea what possessed me to call her "Mr. Wheeler." @Merle - Once I saw that the answer was "Tango," I realized that the clue referred to a song!

David G 10:39 PM  

@George Kernan 1:54pm is right: Many police "officers" are SGTS. There's nothing wrong with the clue, and all militarized mutual reinforcement on this supposed mistake is distasteful.

Like @retired_chemist 3:30pm, I don't get the clue for SKYPE. If anyone else is lurking on this page after-hours, and wants to explain 36A, I'd appreciate it.

r.alphbunker 11:25 PM  

Skype is a program that lets you talk to people using the Internet, i.e., it lets you {ring} somebody. And you can optionally turn on video so you the person you are calling can see your {face}

David G 11:52 PM  

Ok. Thanks.

Ellen S 12:11 PM  

Didn't even get to download this until Friday night, didn't "finish" it until this morning (Saturday) -- "finish" with help from Mr. Happy Pencil and Uncle Google.
Learned a lot from this blog, want to make a contribution: my favorite answer, that I got on crosses but knew was right, was INCE. A fun 2001 movie, "The Cat's Meow", featured Thomas Ince as a character. IMDB describes it as the "Semi-true story of the Hollywood murder that occurred at a star-studded gathering aboard William Randolph Hearst's yacht in 1924." I had heard of most of the characters and most of the actors (fave: Eddie Izzard as Charlie Chaplin). Cary Elwes played the one character I hadn't heard of -- Ince, the dead guy.

Fun story @Evan, thank you for sharing it without embellishment. I got SALMA same as @Merle and @Doc John. Made the same mistakes as everybody else and a bunch of my own.

joho 5:00 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Spacecraft 11:19 AM  

I'm with @ED,and @Notsofast's first post. Got 100% stalled in the NW because 1d "couldn't possibly be" SGTS. The "O" of NCO notwithstanding, they are enlisted as opposed to officers. BAD clue.

On my way to this page, I thought: if OFL calls this easy-medium I'm gonna go postal. It was tough as nails in every corner, and the fact that I did it with no errors or help and only one writeover was a triumph for me. Actually said "Wow!" to myself.

The w/o was SWAmpS before SWALES. This, with the cross-referenced clue at 57a ("61a affliction"--and when I turned to that clue it just said "see 57a": I wish they wouldn't DO that!) caused great headaches in the SW. Of course, once STYE came in on crosses, 61a turned into a gimme. Maybe these two words ought to be clued independently. Just a thought.

I liked...my ability to conquer the thing more than the thing itself. Along with some aforementioned rough fill and obscurities, I might add that two THE's in a grid are at least one too many.

Connie 3:13 PM  

Lurid! Torrid!

Ginger 5:19 PM  

ANGRYBIRDS is a smart phone app that my gr-granddaughter (then 3) used to play until the batteries were dead. One day as she looked for another game she said "Nana, what's your password?" Today's kids are SCARY!

The NE killed me, with the same errors as so many others. However, as has also been said, APPLEPIEALAMODE, THEBOOKOFMORMON, SKYPE, and of course GOCOMMANDO, made for a fun (almost finish) workout.

Happy week-end, syndilanders.

Dirigonzo 5:43 PM  

@Spacecraft - SGTS are not officers, but some police "officers" are SGTS; if you don't believe me, ask Joe Friday. It's not a bad clue, it's a Friday clue. (I reached this conclusion only after spending 5 minutes explaining to PP why the answer could not possibly be SGTS as she had suggested.)

I had completed my initial run through all of the clues with meager results when PP showed up - she looked at the grid and said, "I don't know what it means but GOCOMMANDO fits in 14a". I explained why it was correct and she followed up by adding THEBOOKOFMORMON (thereby cementing the then seemingly wrong SGTS in place) and we were well and truly off to the races (slowly). Whe we stalled with a few holes left in the grid she went to take a nap and I struggled on to complete the grid, one letter at a time. ADIA/INCE cross was a total guess, as was MANTICORE/OERSTED. This was a terrific Friday workout with some devilish cluing - I like that in a puzzle!

DMGrandma 5:54 PM  

Didn't have too much trouble in the NE, possibly because I just put in ERR and waited to see what would develop, and it did, slowly. Wanted 13D to be some Latin word for soap opera, then realized that's probably "novella" which wouldn't fit. Just had to accept ODRA. Like others, I hesitated a long time over SGTS, but once I gave in, most of the rest went fairly smoothly. Tripped in the SE by not knowing the creature and the physics guy. However, my real blank came dead center. SKYPE and Arabic names are not in my experience, and I couldn't get enough crosses to make that section work. Alas.

Did this while watching the semis from Australia, where, one by one, the players I root for have gone bottoms up. Begin to wonder if I'm a jinx?

Waxy in Montreal 6:21 PM  

Always get 19th century Scandinavian scientists Ørsted and Ångström confused so started badly trying to shoehorn a var. of Ångström into 42A. Didn't help the SE that Manticore was a complete unknown as well.

Also had Elihu ROOT instead of TAFT as Teddy Roosevelt's Sec. of War which along with ODER/ODRA mixup did nothing to resolve the NE.

On the plus side,loved both 15-letter entries, probably because they emerged quickly. Also, the TAFT-HOSS (Dan Blocker) weighty symmetry.

rain forest 2:44 AM  

Another Friday DNF, unfortunately. I confess that I lost momentum after I had the top half done, and lost interest. Just me, but I don't think I could have finished this one. The combinstion of oblique cluing and difficult answers proved too much for me. I'd like to say that this was a good puzzle, and in places it was, but I wasn't up to the task.

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