Guitar device producing vibrato effect / SAT 1-19-13 / Religious emblem informally / Onetime spokesmodel for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter / Place without water in Mongolian / Comics character named for flower / Carleton College rival / Mediterraneo tourist locale / Statistician's anathema

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Constructor: David Quarfoot

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: BILLABONG (17A: Backwater, in Australia) —
n. Australian
  1. A dead-end channel extending from the main stream of a river.
  2. A streambed filled with water only in the rainy season.
  3. A stagnant pool or backwater.
[Wiradhuri (Aboriginal language of southeast Australia) bilabanj, watercourse filled only after rain.]

Read more:
• • •

[Deep-voiced introduction: "The NYT Crossword Puzzle ... is brought to you by ... Hyundai. Hyundai: New Thinking, New Possibilities."]

Klassic Kwarfoot. Toughish and entertaining with hardly a weakness to be found. There's a certain awkwardness / redundancy in the answers OPERA ARIA and TATTOO ART (more in the former than latter), and there's an awful lot of Es and Rs and Ts and Ss in that there SW corner, but otherwise the grid is just dominated by good-to-great entries, many of which have odd or clever or provocative clues. Normally I start with 1A, or I at least start in the NW corner and get 1A fairly early. Today I started there, but didn't actually get the surprising JESUS FISH at 1A: Religious emblem, informally until the very end. It was a nice way to round things out. I actually started with one of JESUS FISH's crosses—EPISTLE (2D: Missive)—which gave me AT. NO. which gave me OCHO, and I tightened up that area in then moved south via the lovely KING ME (28D: Cry when reaching the other side) to the WHAMMY BAR section of the program (48A: Guitar device producing a vibrato effect). Not sure how I knew WHAMMY BAR, but I did. If you didn't, that corner was likely Very hard. It was hard enough even *with* WHAMMY in there, but I ultimately trusted in AZERA (66A: Hyundai model) and EERIE (52A: Chilling), and that let me piece things together (really don't like the clue on PICTS, mainly because of the way "clan" is being used ... or maybe I *like* the clue for that reason. The PICTS were not SCOTS, so we're not talking about "clan" in the traditional Scottish sense, the way Stuart is a clan. "Clan" is being used loosely, generically in the clue, which I didn't expect given the Scottish specificity of the geography (Orkney). It's possible I know too much about medieval Scotland to enjoy this clue in an uncomplicated / unconflicted way.

Anyway, SE turned out to be a cinch, after SOUP helped me change EASY AS PIE / ABC to EASY PEASY (67A: So simple). After that, it was just a quick jog up the east side of the grid, and then back to the NW, where a serious stoppage seemed quite possible. Got IRONIC and SINGLET but not much else to help with the long Acrosses (of which I had none). Guessed MCCOO (!?) at 6D: Onetime spokesmodel for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (FABIO). But after I guessed HAG, I was able to see BILLABONG, which (finally!) gave me JOBS ACT (1D: Governmental stimulus of 2012). That "J" was all I needed to finish everything else off. OPERA ARIA was the last thing I wrote in.

This clue has the most interesting and elaborate LANA clue of all time (37A: Girl's name that becomes a boy's name when the last letter moves to the start). No offense to the fine folks at ST. OLAF, but ... [Carleton College rival]? Is that in sports? Because in academics ... I'm not so sure. (I have one friend who is a ST. OLAF alum, whereas I have at least half a dozen who went to Carleton, so I feel comfortable smugly bashing ST. OLAF—but don't feel bad, ST. OLAF. It could be worse. You could be Macalester. Amiright!? Ah, I love a good Minnesota liberal arts college slam.

See you tomorrow,

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:07 AM  

Speaking of relying on Hyundai to provide made up words to fill in difficult corners, has Will taken a sabatical from Rap artists? Haven't seen one in months.

jae 12:07 AM  

Long time no Quarfoot, but this one was worth waiting for.  Too much zip to list, but JESUS FISH to EASY PEASY pretty much brackets it.  Easy medium for me.  No need to walk away or for prolonged stares.

Erasures:  EstER for ETHER, teE for OSE,  and my final entry which was changing the I to E in REATAS.  

And, for the record, I too had mE instead of WE yesterday so DNF for me also.   I didn't realize it until late today.  My DVR cable box had a stoke last night that went way beyond a reboot fix so, I've been a tad preoccupied trying to figure out how to recover the stuff that was lost. 

Anonymous 12:23 AM  

I did the same loop through easy as pie to easy as abc, struggled in that corner. And also hit the same me/ we wall for a hike yesterday. Agree that Opera Aria is as bad as "ink pen".
And what's the deal with Guilderland??


DocRoss 12:37 AM  

As an Ole, I take umbrage at the thought that we're not Carleton rivals. That lame excuse for a college is on the other side of town (Northfield, MN), and we are certainly rivals. But you're right, at least we're not Macalester, or worse yet, Gustavus Adolphus!

DocRoss 12:39 AM  

But apart from that, I had a hard time getting a toehold. I had EASYaspie for a long time. But I got WHAMMYBAR just off the Y..

Carola 12:44 AM  

Thought it was a great puzzle. Not easy or medium for me - definitely did not SAIL through this one. Found it RIFE with clues that faked me out right and left. For a while all I had was AXL, ST OLAF and an EARACHE. But kept at it. Very fun to catch on to things, felt good to finish.

Had to correct: aurEmIC (made that one up - I think), TATTOOing, avE, Stud (for "hunk"). Resisted STATUS BAR for the longest time because of WHAMMY BAR.

Davis 1:56 AM  

This was one of those puzzles that, when I finished, I felt like it had taken me quite a bit longer than it should have. Good puzzle; but I was hoping that LANA might cue this as one of today's videos.

Evan 2:54 AM  

Careful, Rex. I know at least one Macalester grad. Don't make me send her this URL and show her how you tore her school a new one. Actually, who am I kidding? She'd probably do the same thing.

Solid puzzle, easy for me -- I think this was my second-fastest Saturday ever, but I'm not sure. I have to give it a demerit for the double BAR, however, even though both entries containing it are cool answers by themselves. I also don't know how to feel about AS FAR AS -- seems like a long partial, made more palatable by a decent clue.

Some other observations:

1. We saw TSE referencing the Tokyo Stock Exchange pretty recently, so that went right in the grid for me. I wish I could use the power of quick recall for answers I haven't seen for several months, rather than just a week or two.

2. I don't know why they went with a TILT/SINGLET cross when SILT/SINGLES would have worked just as well, if not better, since SINGLES is a way more common word than SINGLET and can probably be clued in a number of fun, Saturday-tough ways (on single people, $1's, one-base hits, tennis matches, etc.).

3. MISTER seems shaky as a synonym for "Buddy." I guess you have to imagine the phrase "Hey, mister!" as equivalent to "Hey, buddy!" for it to really work. I was so unsure of that answer that I nearly messed it up, especially because PICTS gave me no help at all.

4. I kinda like BING right under BONG. I just do.

5. Completely agree with @Davis on LANA. Season 4 of "Archer" premiered on Thursday night and it's as hilarious as ever.

6. I had WEENER before WETNAP at first. Please make of that what you will.

retired_chemist 3:56 AM  

Major DNF. In retrospect It was not as hard as I made it. But I just couldn't see a lot of the answers.


Alibaba Click Misters 5:24 AM  

I always love Quarfoot fave constructor BAR none, even tho he should have been BARRED for having BAR two!
But my bad on Wawapedal and ALaddin holding me way up!

Missed the BONG BING...thanks!

Would love to join in the Minnesota school slam, but a) I'm a woman b) thawed out and went away to school...

Of course I'm gonna love XTILE and what an incredibly timely clue given the articles on the revaluation of the tile points floating around this week!!!

ELANTRA and AZERA were both unknowns, so getting THERITZ felt like a huge accomplishment and pleasure. I've seen that clue for GOBI or I'd STILL be working on this puzzle.
Maybe would even still have PETUNIA where SWEEPEA now grows.
Anyway, thank you David Quarfoot for the challenge and the fun!

GILL I. 6:32 AM  

Fabio was my first entry so I got JESUS FISH right away. Yay me because after that I just couldn't seem to move.
Went downstairs and was able to get some traction with TATTO ART and my favorite EASY PEASY.
Not only loving BONG BING but AAR above BAZ[AAR] ERAS and AZ[ERA].
My KING ME was a kiss ME at first and I preferred WET rAP. EPIgram for 2D looked ok so that TECHIE/ONEG was just a big GLOB.
Love Quarfoot and the new words he introduces me to BILLABONG WHAMMYBAR by golly.

Loren Muse Smith 6:35 AM  

For the duration of my first cup of coffee, I stared at one sad little S up in the north and SOUP. That was it. Thanks to SOUP, though, I never entertained EASY as pie.

Little by little, everything fell but the NW. I did get FABIO and IRONIC, but I was angling for some kind of “pick . . .” for grappler gear which lead to a ridiculous “yak” for HAG.

Other ridiculousness:
*“tattooery,” being surprised at this from David.

* Filling in EARACHE but totally not seeing the word and wondering what “eerahshe” could be. Some kind of mysterious French/German angst word.

More defendable goofs:
march – WALTZ
stud – SLAB (Morning, @Carola!)
raw – BAD (“anathema” – right. I’m all over that.)
dead air – REENTRY
audi – opel – SAAB
blob – GLOB
dias – DAIS (I’m batting a hundred on this goof)
cold feets – CEASE FIRE. Just kidding.

Definitely a really hard one for me. I’m pleased that I got AS FAR AS I did. Nice one, MISTER Quarfoot.

MetaRex 8:22 AM  

Had a v. good time w/ DQ's puzzle. The SW was a particular pleasure. I came up w/ ASTERIX for the comic book character named after a flower, SHIMMY BAR for the guitar attachment, X-ZERO for the car model (perhaps X-TILE (v. nice clue) was influencing me there). Since I kinda knew that the Sp. name preceder had to be SRA, I kinda knew the whole thing had to be wrong, but it was great while it lasted.

More at You can say Jesus

Doris 8:39 AM  

OPERA ARIA is Not redundant. There are numerous individually composed concert arias that are not part of operas. Also, the old Italian "arie antiche" that are just single songs. An example of a free-standing aria is Beethoven's "Ah, perfido!" for soprano and orchestra.
(We opera buffs get annoyed when other people don't know this stuff.) "Il dolce suono" is the beginning of the famous Mad Scene in Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor." Whew!

Mike in DC 8:40 AM  

@LorenMuseSmith I also saw Dead Air before REENTRY, which made the SE anything but EASYPEASY.

dk 8:50 AM  

@Rex as a Hamline grad I take great umbrage at your MN college slam. So much so that My MN posse (Hi Andrea) aka known as Illin 10,000 are on our way to your crib to eat crackers (the Wasabrod ones that look like shingles) and cheese curds in said crib.

I am glad that some found this easy. Me, I am hangin with Loren today.

Wawa pedal instead of WHAMMYBAR coupled with east as pie killed me. Off to the BAZAAR.

🌟🌟🌟 (3 Stars) One heck of a Saturday DQ

dk 8:51 AM  

that would be easy as pie

Doris 9:23 AM  

in my operatic zeal, forgot to mention that a lot of us should know BILLABONG because it's in the first line of "Waltzing Matilda." (You don't have to be Australian to love this song!)

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled:
"Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me?"

C. Ross Word 9:26 AM  

Whenever I begin to over-estimate my solving skills, a real killer like this one comes along. I can certainly appreciate it esthetically, but it was a real slog to solve. Ended up as a DNF since I never went back to fix IDiD to the proper IDED. Eventually got the rest but it took way too long. My compliments to all who found this EASYPEASY.

Z 9:30 AM  

Hand up for Wawa pedal and then WaawaaBar. The SW was still my first section to finish, then the NE.

Hand up for long patches of staring at alarmingly large patches of whiteness.

JESUS FISH and ASSES - if I were still Dutch Reformed I'd have been offended. Being an Evangelical Agnostic these days I prefer darwin fish.

jackj 9:31 AM  

It never changes; when I first begin with a David Quarfoot puzzle, I’ll skim the across clues, skim the down clues and wonder whether this guy exists in some weird parallel universe and is actually that swagman guy who lived in the BIILABONG with Matilda or what? Nothing looks familiar!

Eventually, though pride takes over and the fear of getting skunked forces the issue and things like HAG, SAAB URL and AXL open little paths that lead to bigger avenues like EPISTLE and CEASEFIRE.

But, of course, there are stumbling blocks like the lovely AQUA color of the Riviera and the statistician’s anathema, RAWDATA, and the comics flower character, PETUNIA, all of which are wrong and eventually are straightened out as AZUR, BADDATA and SWEEPEA, (boys as flowers?).

Since there was a flood of criticism for the ONES in yesterdays puzzle, surely we’ll have repeat bad mouthing of the two BAR entries today, WHAMMYBAR and STATUSBAR, (maybe even AAR and BAZAAR are of the same genus), but the two BAR(s) sure look like sibs to me.

Using BING was a nice touch and as one who goes to BING everyday to feast on the fantastic photos they feature on their home page, I strongly recommend others take a look. (A side benefit is if you use the site to check anything out you’re not lying if you declare that you didn’t Google).

Favorite entries were that British Isles pub clue for LOCAL, the ever so clever, “Cry when reaching the other side” for KINGME and that always handy “Post-cookout item”, the WETNAP.

(David’s prior puzzles all seemed to feature a signature “Q” in each, but notably, today he goes Q-less, when he could have used my AQUA).

Strong effort, Mr. Quarfoot; nothing EASYPEASY about this one!

At long last, hockey! Go Bruins!!

C. Ross Word 9:35 AM  

aesthetically, of course.

Qvart 9:49 AM  

I've done the last few days' puzzles on paper and haven't timed myself. Started this one late last night and didn't get very far so I left it for this morning. Funny, things clicked much better after some sleep and a cup of coffee at hand.

Had WHAMMYBAR right off, but not much else besides some short answers in the middle (GOBI, BLOB, EELY, KINGME, OCHO, TECHIE, CLICK). More write-overs than usual. Nice puzzle. Put me through my paces.

JESUSFISH took me quite awhile because I expected the answer would have something to do with a cross (given the presence of two of them in the grid).




Katzzz 9:51 AM  

I thought the two crucifixes might be a hint to 1A, which I guess they were.
I'm not understanding 20A, "At. No." Someone?

OldCarFudd 9:53 AM  

I don't barbecue, so I Have. Never. Heard. of a WETNAP. Wee nap seemed much more reasonable as something this 76-year-old would take after a cookout. Which meant that a list could be a file, which meant that I had a couple of holes that kept me from getting singlet. What does this refer to? What a wrestler wears? I was looking for salvage gear, or demolition gear. Oh, well. Other than that, a fun puzzle. Took me a while to see BILLABONG, despite knowing the song well and having been married to an Aussie for several years. Agree with the comments on OPERA ARIA and TATTOO ART. Never noticed the two BARs. Loved the JESUS FISH.

Glimmerglass 10:01 AM  

Medium for me today. Didn't mind the two BARs or AARs, but I agree with Rex about ARIA and ART. Is EASY PEASY something an adult says? I wrote it very reluctantly ("This can't be right."). My big time-waster today was confusing ALI BABA with a weirdly spelled Aladdin.

joho 10:06 AM  

Oh, this was fun! Practically as hard as yesterday's for me but infinitely more entertaining!

I love David Quarfoot's puzzles as I always start with white squares that stubbornly remain white but I'm able to slowly find them RIFE with answers.

Loved seeing two crazy car names with ELANTRA and AZERA. WHAMMYBAR, KINGME, WETNAP, JOBSACT and JESUSFISH are all fresh and unexpected. Those 3 ZZZ's are nice, too.

I did have a reright for OPERAARIA for a minute with EvitA because OPERA seemed redundant.

Great Saturday, thank you David Quarfoot (and the only letter missing from the grid is the "Q" in your name!)

Sir Hillary 10:16 AM  

This one was super hard, ASFARAS I am concerned. For at least 20 minutes, all I had was useless little TSE. Great workout, awesome grid, proud to have finished. Too many clever clues to list, but 28D takes the cake.

A true DQ Blizzard if ever there was one!

Qvart 10:17 AM  

@OldCarrFudd -

Moist towelettes you get a restaurant (and BBQ is messy).

AT.NO. = "atomic number" (periodic TABLE).

Nosegay 10:22 AM  

@Laurence at. no. is referring to atomic number that can be found on the periodic table.

@Lauren I had very similar write-overs, but genuinely lol'd at cold feets.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:44 AM  

Not easy for me - took darn near an hour. But moving so slowly, I avoided all but one write-over: the popular DEADAIR before REENTRY.

Excellent Saturday puzzle.

Merle 10:59 AM  

Not a pleasant puzzle. Best part of the puzzle was the Lana-Alan play. Jesus fish? Really? I've never heard that emblem of Christianity referred to as a Jesus fish. Seems really crude. Maybe the phrase was devised by a tailgater on a highway stuck behind someone going the legal speed limit who had a bumper sticker with that fish on it.

Billabong was my best gimme. I just finished reading a biography of Richard Dyer-Bennet, who sang "Waltzing Matilda", which was written by Banjo Paterson, so the lyrics to the song came immediately to mind.

But essentially, the puzzle was too frustrating. Two Hyundai models? Really? I couldn't name one, let alone come up with a seven letter and a five letter model. Easy peasy? Yes, I know the phrase. But what's the last time anyone used it? And I agree that the clue for Picts doesn't match the answer. The Picts were not a clan. Fizz is seltzer? Seltzer is fizzy. Do people really call seltzer fizz? What people? Where? Is it a regionalism? "Ided" as an answer for on the list of knowns? Boring huge stretch. Bunch of dull esoterica with irritating fill.

Sandy K 11:11 AM  

Not EASY-PEASY for me ETHER! Had EsteR before ETHER...

@Doris- Got BILLABONG from "WALTZing Matilda" as well.

Quite a few write-overs at THE RITZ and AZERA, thought Rose on stage was Gypsy Rose Lee before AXL. Uy!

It's IRONIC that I got FABIO- but that ad was so BAD!

Best clue for KING ME!

Lindsay 11:13 AM  

Got hung up in the SE, where I not only had the popular EASY as pie/Abc, but dArT bOARd answering for "Needlework?". Sort of made sense at the time.

Only other writeover 24A "Works in a studio, say" aIrS >>> OILS.

lawprof 11:16 AM  

I HAD it! Then I blew it. Changed the N at the 3D/27A crossing to M. Just couldn't recognize ATNO as atomic number and thought ATmO (as in atmospheric something in a table) was the more plausible choice. So much for Evan's approach to naticks.

Strangely, my first entry was 8D, not that I'm a particular fan of grappling, but wrestlers don't have much "gear." So what do they wear? Shoes? Socks? Ear thingies? Jockstrap? Ahh...SINGLET.


In the end it was a little like winning a sprint, setting a personal best, and then being DQ'd for stepping out of the lane.

chefbea 11:24 AM  

Couldn't do yesterday's or today's. Had to come here to dee the finished puzzle.

Look forward to tomorrow

Carola 11:42 AM  

On "TATTOOery" - when TATTOOing didn't work, my next try was TATTOOAge. Thought process: Well, now there's "boobage," so....

@Doris -
On BILLABONG - for the longest time I thought I was looking for the Australian equivalent of "the sticks" or "the boondocks" instead of actual water. Was a lovely moment when I finally remembered the jolly swagman.

@Evan -
"Mister" was one of my favorites. My sister-in-law calls her teen-aged son "buddy" until she needs to get firm. Then it's, "Listen, mister."

ArtO 11:46 AM  

Can't believe anyone would slam Macalester - even in jest? A very fine mid-west liberal arts college at which my daughter teaches!

As for puzzle, top easy, bottom not.

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

Very surprised that Rex didn't even mention the double "bar" after bashing Tim Croce's double "ones" only yesterday. A double "double" standard, I guess.

Casey 12:42 PM  

It was a bitch but highly satisfying!

jberg 12:50 PM  

They sing "Waltzing Matilda" in "On the Beach." Does that make it a movie song? Is "Maria" from "West Side Story" a "musical song?" I feel the same way about OPERA ARIA - sure, there are arias outside of opera, there were arias before opera, but they're still arias. I've never heard anyone call one an OPERA ARIA.

But I'm grumpy because it took me so long to finish. I couldn't see 'dos' as Spanish in 23D (was thinking either hairdos or MS-DOS), had 'on icE' before EERIE and therefore thought otalgia must be ___ ear rather than the obvious EAR ACHE, and of course had no idea about random Korean car model names (or any other car model names, for that matter).

While I knew the song, I thought a BILLABONG was just a pond, so it was hard to get that one - and I still don't see how PICTS are a clan, any more than, say, Danes.

So in retrospect, I can see that there are a lot of great clues, and a lot of great answers, but it was not so enjoyable at the time.

And finally -- EELY? Really? (Nice DITTY there, at least).

Michael Hanko 1:01 PM  

Thanks, Doris, for defending OPERAARIA, which I rushed here to stick up for! As a classical singer, I have used and heard the term countless times, and seen it on many sheet music collections of this type of piece.

The solo vocal pieces (those that aren't recitatives, anyway) in oratorios like Messiah are also known as arias.

[I have 7 digits in the numerical captcha!]

sanfranman59 1:57 PM  

EASY PEASY?? Huh? I'm supposed to know catch phrases from 1970s era British TV laundry detergent ads???


Hmmm ... I see that it's also the name of a Linux-based operating system for netbook computers. Haven't heard of that connotation either.

ANON B 2:14 PM  

When did theSaturday puzzles
become so difficult(impossible?).
I wonder how many of the Times's
readers ever heard of Carleton
College or whammy bar or Jesus Fish
or selenic acid as a dissolver of gold. I'm a chemist. If you ask almost any chemist the answer will be aqua regia.If you say selenic acid, the response will be "Huh?"

retired_chemist 2:14 PM  

Never heard the term, "JESUS FISH." Its meaning is obvious however. I actually figured it referred to the collection plate as a JESUS DISH, one of my more interesting errors. Led to a Googling of DABIO and general confusion.

Alsop PUREE for 51A, MONA (AMON) and RONA (ARON) instead of LANA @ 37A, , and consequently BLOB @ 30D. SALT AIR (metaphoric use) @ 14D led to _ALTA for the Schubert piece and further consternation. Actually considered CATNAP @ 26D, which I think is valid albeit incorrect.

STE is an envelope abbreviation - where? and for what?

TATTOOING finished off the SE disaster initiated by PUREE.

I was unable to dig myself out of all these holes without heavy assistance of both a referential and alcoholic nature. Probably the former, with the latter being more of an addition to the problem.

Dan 2:28 PM  

What a missed opportunity: the SW could have been AZERI/SRI instead of AZERA/SRA...

ANON B 2:38 PM  

@retired chemist

Did you ever hear of selenic acid
as a dissolver of gold.
How many chemists do you think
are familiar with selenic acid
or its uses?

mac 2:40 PM  

Fantastic puzzle but tough for me. The SW did me in. Jesus fish is a new term, but I do remember where I saw the sign for the first time, in Boise, ID.

I think I solved my posting problems. I missed you all a lot….

evil doug 2:44 PM  

Reversed the instruction and moved Lana's first letter to the end. I've heard of Oral Roberts, but never Anal Roberts....
[Elaine's hallway. The door opens, Puddy steps out in his bathrobe.]

Puddy: Elaine, they forgot to deliver your paper today. Why don't you just grab that one?

Elaine: 'Cause that belongs to Mr. Potato Guy, that's his.

Puddy: C'mon, get it.

Elaine: Well if you want it, you get it.

Puddy: Sorry, 'thou shalt not steal.'

Elaine: Oh, but it's ok for me?

Puddy: What do you care, you know where you're going.

Elaine: All right, that is it! I can't live like this!

Puddy: All right, what did I do?

Elaine: David, I'm going to hell! The worst place in the world! With devils and those caves and the ragged clothing! And the heat! My God, the heat! I mean, what do you think about all that?

Puddy: Gonna be rough.

Elaine: You should be trying to save me!

Puddy: Don't boss me! This is why you're going to hell.

Elaine: I am not going to hell and if you think I'm going to hell, you should care that I'm going to hell even though I am not!

Puddy: You stole my Jesus fish, didn't you?

Elaine: Yeah, that's right!

[Elaine places her hands beside her head, index fingers raised as 'horns' and she emits a gutteral, growling devil sound.]


jae 2:44 PM  

@r_c -- Think business address where STE is the abbr. for Suite.

@jberg -- Waltzing Matilda always brings up memories of "On The Beach" and how scary it was growing up in the late 50's and early 60's.

Unknown 3:04 PM  

So glad the Seinfeld bit got posted. Thanks, evil!

Interesting point about the AAR & BAR repeats, given how vocal we have been about TEA, etc. Perhaps the rest of the puzzle was just so darned good that we forgot about them? I loved this one for lots of reasons, most have already been mentioned. But my favorite was the timeliness of XTILE, as Andrea mentioned. Given all of the Scrabble talk this week, it's impressive that Will had something in the hopper for such a time as this.

Unknown 3:06 PM  

Also, EASY PEASY had a resurgence with the Austin Powers films..."Easy PEASY lemon squeezy"... Folks who think they've never heard it will probably start noticing it all over the place now.

Anoa Bob 3:09 PM  

Had WETNA_ for the longest but resisted putting in that final "P". What does WET NAP have to do with a "Post-cookout item"? I thought it was just a briefer version of a full-blown nocturnal emission.

Z 3:10 PM  

Several commentators, including me, have used EASY PEASY here. It was even used as a difficulty rating by guest blogger Puzzle Girl.

kenneth Mac Alpin 3:17 PM  

Our confederation of tribes called by Romans the PICTi-the painted or TATTOOed peoples-ruled over much of eastern and northern Scotland.We only went to the Orkneys for labor day weekend!

Anonymous 3:23 PM  

Not an easy one for me today. I managed to finish the bottom, despite never having heard of a whammy bar, and despite first writing in TAILORING at 62A, off the TA. But the top was a disaster. In the NW, I was hampered by never having heard the term "Jesus fish", not knowing that Fabio had been a spokesmodel (is that even a word?) for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, and thinking that grapplers are longshoremen, who use grappling hooks. (Also, whenever I hear the word "grapple", I think of Polonius's advice to Laertes -- "Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel" -- but STEEL HOOPS, unfortunately, didn't fit.)

In the NE, i was destroyed by my unshakeable conviction that 10D was a reference to the character in the musical Gypsy, so I drove myself crazy trying to think of an actress with a three-letter first name who has played that role. (Not Ethel, not Tyne, not Bernadette, not Patti ... )

Carola, cute story about your sister-in-law, but it just proves (AS FAR AS I'm concerned) that "buddy" is not an appropriate clue for "mister", because your sister-in-law uses the two words for entirely different purposes.

John V 3:40 PM  

Well, I got most of it. Couple of blank spots, esp JESUSFISH, which is completely new to me. First Google hit on it goes to Urban Dictionary, which gives us this insight:
"People who would rather put a symbol of modern christianity on their cars than actually live the christian life. usually seen on vehicles speeding and cutting people off in traffic.
'That car that ran over my grandma's feet had a jesus fish on it. the driver must have been late for church'."

Did much better with this one that yesterday or Thursday. Good one that felt on the medium side for me. Thanks, David. @Rex said it all.

sanfranman59 6:06 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 5:58, 6:12, 0.96, 30%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:20, 8:37, 0.97, 39%, Easy-Medium
Wed 9:58, 11:52, 0.84, 13%, Easy
Thu 25:11, 17:05, 1.47, 95%, Challenging (9th highest ratio of 160 Thursdays)
Fri 31:24, 20:49, 1.51, 99%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 160 Fridays)
Sat 29:24, 24:18, 1.21, 90%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:35, 3:39, 0.98, 34%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:54, 4:57, 0.99, 47%, Medium
Wed 5:39, 6:34, 0.86, 12%, Easy
Thu 15:52, 9:37, 1.65, 96%, Challenging (7th highest ratio of 160 Thursdays)
Fri 21:18, 11:47, 1.81, 100%, Challenging (highest ratio of 160 Fridays)
Sat 18:39, 14:21, 1.30, 92%, Challenging

Definitely not EASY PEASY by the numbers. Will really took it to us at the end of this week. Three straight DNFs for me. I'm feeling very humbled.

Dirigonzo 6:49 PM  

So I came home from work early and spent a couple of enjoyable hours working my way through the grid, making and correcting all of the mistakes others made (and a few of my own for good measure). Then I spent a not so enjoyable hour staring at the NE corner which was largely blank (only ELANTRA and LINT seemed solid), hoping for an epiphany which never came. If only I had know STOLAF I might have had a chance, but alas I did not.

Unknown 7:00 PM  

Hope everyone enjoyed the puzz!!!

chefwen 7:05 PM  

@sanfranman59 - Thank God I'm not alone.

michael 7:46 PM  

I solved it, but would hardly call this easy-medium. Was glad to see the report from sanfranman supports me. Nice puzzle which I was able to get despite not knowing whammybar, billabong, and azera. Also haven't played a lot of scrabble in French...

Michael 7:49 PM  

Also the first answer I filled in was St. Olaf. Helped to live in the Midwest and know people who went to both schools. I think they are rivals mostly because they are in the same town. Not the same academically...

Michael 7:56 PM  

last (third) comment:

Carleton's rivals -- Grinnell, Oberlin

St.Olaf's rivals -- Luther, Augustana

Rex Parker 9:38 PM  

@sanfranman's numbers are very surprising to me. Did this one in under 10, whereas it took almost 15 to do yesterday's.


Milford 10:13 PM  

Yeah, sorry, it was tough for me, too, and I had to google to dislodge and finish. Nothing bad, just hard to figure out the clues.

JESUS FISH I definitely know, they are often on cars, along with the much better Darwin fish-with-legs. @Z - you used to live in Kalamazoo AND you were Dutch Reformed? So was half our neighborhood. I'm becoming convinced we were neighbors.

acme 2:07 AM  

ok, I give up...connection between this puzzle and "Wedding Bell Blues" video!
Won't you marry me BILL...ABONG?

sanfranman59 3:03 PM  

@acme ... in his write-up, Rex says that he "guessed MCCOO (!?) at 6D: Onetime spokesmodel for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (FABIO). McCoo sings lead on that song.

Tita 11:31 AM  

@RetChem - lol!
Ditto for me - "Major DNF. In retrospect It was not as hard as I made it. But I just couldn't see a lot of the answers"

Wild guess at GOBI - learned it was right - cool!

Loved clue for RENENTRY.

Had J___S_I_H - was wondering how to fit Joe SmItH in there.

Thanks to all of you. EASYPEASY was one of my very few toeholds...prior to Rexville that was not a term I knew.

Thanks for the workout - my biggest DNF in a long time.

Señora 6:11 PM  

I completed the puzzle, with only one error (riatas for reatas), but still don't understand IDED (I had "idid"). Can someone please illuminate?

Bob Kerfuffle 7:53 PM  

@ Señora - IDentifiED.

Spacecraft 12:30 PM  

Let's try this again. When I hit "Publish your comment" the window came up "Service unavailable." My blog was lost.

Anyway, I found this one challenging but doable; only one writeover (moTTo for DITTY). The SE was the last to go. I had the long downs, which gave me three perfectly plausible endings to the long acrosses: -ART, -BAR, -EASY. What went before those endings was tough to pull out, which I did at length by committing to BADDATA.

Hand up for staring at white spaces for big chunks of time. The last across made me smile, as anything pertaining to "The Shawshank Redemption" does. Remember Brooks, explaining the librarian's job to Andy? "EASYPEASY, Japanesey." Thanks, Stephen, and Frank, and Rita and Raquel.

And oh yeah, David.

Anonymous 2:36 PM  

Rex Parker 9:38PM Your nose is growing longer every day. Almost all the remarkers agreed this puzz was decidely hard. I always enjoy Mr. Q's creations and out goes a big thanks to him, even though I inched along doggedly.
Ron Diego 2/23/13

rain forest 4:33 PM  

Three consecutive very challenging puzzles this week. Couldn't finish Thursday's, but I did complete the last two, merely because I kept revisiting them, several times. Apparently some people take 15 or fewer minutes on these bears--totally foreign to this solver. I don't like to obsess over the really tough ones, but I HATE leaving empty squares. My big stumbling block was confidently entering PETUNIA for the cartoon flower name, but somehow WHAMMYBAR came to me and saved the day, er, hours.

Anonyrat 8:27 AM  

I'm seriously amused by the griping about EASYPEASY. Are you folks new here? Because that phrase appears about half a dozen times in the comments to this blog every day (more, if it was a puzzle most people DNF'ed).

LobgBeachLee 8:43 PM  

Doris, that's you'll come a waltzing Matilda with me.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Hand up for Gypsy Rose LEE. Aa a result, NE fell last. Tough but workable Saturday. And once I got 48a I couldn't get this song out of my head.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

On TILT/SINGLET vs SILT/SINGLES. May I offer a third choice: LILT/SINGLEL (Grappler's characteristic)

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