Iridescent green bird of tropical America / FRI 1-18-13 / Crop-killing caterpillars / Rock icon for whom Manhattan block is named / Jack of Green Berets 1968 / First European to cross Mississippi / Brasserie offering / Classic brand with bunny mascot

Friday, January 18, 2013

Constructor: Tim Croce

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: JACAMAR (36D: Iridescent green bird of tropical America) —
The jacamars are a familyGalbulidae, of near passerine birds from tropical South and Central America, extending up to Mexico. The order contains fivegenera and 18 species. The family is closely related to the puffbirds, another Neotropical family, and the two families are often separated into their own order away from the Piciformes, instead being placed in the Galbuliformes. They are principally birds of low altitude woodlands and forests, and particularly of forest edge and canopy. (wikipedia)
• • •

This one started out fine and just degenerated as I moved down the grid.  This puzzle has one of those isolated centers, which usually do two things—increase the difficulty and degrade the fill quality. Long answers coming in from the sides are fine, but the middle is at best just OK. No idea what ARMY WORMS are (34A: Crop-killing caterpillars) (you might want to keep your obscure fauna to, say, one entry per puzzle—i.e. don't feed me ARMY WORMS and then follow it with a side of whatever the hell JACAMAR is). DEMIT is yuck. BIÈRE, blah. But honestly that wasn't such a terrible section. Just suffered by comparison with the more elegant upper section. The lower section, sadly, continues the puzzle's downward quality trajectory. First, it was Way harder than the top. Really hard to get traction anywhere; almost everything south of JOEY RAMONE in the W (36A: Rock icon for whom a Manhattan block is named) and GRADE A EGGS in the E was empty for a while. I had ANN, SANS, GTO, a tentative BALE, ETA and RIA. That's it. Couldn't bring any of the long Downs down. ESCAPES TO was impossible to see off just the ES- (33D: Reaches, as a vacation resort). Loved the clue on ENLISTS (38D: Eschews the draft?), but no hope off just the EN- (though the "draft" in question was beer). I don't mind difficulty, per se, but I do mind very uneven difficulty within a puzzle. I also mind having three crossreferenced answers in the same section of a grid. Nothing is being tested there—you're forced into a series of blind guesses. I went with GER (ding!), DER (gong!), and MARK (ugh). But my main complaint down here is MASSAGES ONE'S EGO (53A: Does some flattering). Who is ONE? *Some*one? ONE'S is virtually *always* "ONE'S (own)." See, for instance, oh, I don't know, The Other 15 That Has ONE In It, Which Is Only Two Answers Lower In The Grid: RESTS ON ONE'S OARS (61A: Relaxes). First, that is an old-timey expression no one says, so boo. But more importantly, it duplicates ONE'S (yuck), and shows how terrible and awkward the ONE'S in MASSAGES ONE'S EGO is. From the greatness of "WHAT DO YOU MEAN, 'WE'?" (1A: "Hold on, why am I being dragged into this?") we descend to this ONE'S madness. So the puzzle is 1/3 A, 1/3 C, and 1/3 F today.

  • 27A: Bear in "The Jungle Book" (BALOO) — That story/movie has given crosswords a Lot of answers (AKELA, KAA, etc.). Can't remember ever having seen BALOO before, though. 
  • 5D: First European to cross the Mississippi (DESOTO) — So they honored him by ... naming a car after him?
  • 22D: "The Soul of a Butterfly" autobiographer (ALI) — had a flicker of "how the hell should I know?" and then, of course, got it easily.
  • 56D: Jack of "The Green Berets," 1968 (SOO) — is this the guy from "Barney Miller"? It is! Man, that clue is some obscure *&^! Yikes. 
  • 31A: Classic brand with a bunny mascot (QUIK) — ENERGIZER wouldn't fit. TRIX would, but it didn't occur to me. Thankfully.
Gotta run—film noir festival on TCM

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:16 AM  

I conflated QUIK with Trix as QUIX for way too long.

I sure hope that the block named after JOEYRAMONE was Broom St between Allen and Eldridge. The smelliest place in NYC.

This puzzle was less fun that it should have been.

jae 12:25 AM  

Pretty decent Fri. Medium for me with the center of this interesting grid being the toughest part with WOEs ARMY WORMS, BIERE, and DEMIT.  (I've probably seen DEMIT before but it obviously didn't stick). The 3 stacks, on the other hand, were fairly easy and a tad zippy. Additional zip, NIA LONG, JOEY RAMONE, GTO, SEA WOLF...

Erasures: BALtO for BALOO (I apparently confused a dog with a bear), HAh for HAR, and lac to mer to EAU finally.

Liked this one more than Rex did. About the right amount of crunch for a Fri.

retired_chemist 12:30 AM  

Challenging. No medium here. Top was fairly easy, but I had a rough time with everything else. TILDA crossing NIA LONG was a Natick for me. COIT was a gimme. 30A was not, as I wondered if it was Salem MA (WNW) or Salem OR (NNE). Actually the former is pretty much due W, so I shouldn't have thought so hard about it.

My Brasserie served BOEUF for about 30 minutes. Old capital of GER was MARK at first, so 52A was MALE. Decided against that. JOEY RAMONE was HUEY NEWTON at one point. OK, he was a Black Panther and not a rock star, but I was desperate. Wanted LEMON for 45A, but RIA was already in place. See my earlier discussion of male color insensitivity: MAIZE - pooh.

Same thought about ENERGIZER for 31A as Rex. BALOO - WTF. JACAMAR - ditto.

Filled in agonizing word by agonizing word, but I finished error free. A good stiff workout, for which I thank Mr. Croce. Although if it were easier, I would be getting to bed earlier.

syndy 12:35 AM  

Ramones-yes Name one UHH? Exactly what rex said that whole bottom was past brutal! So many writeovers!so many odd answers!Figuring out the UZI/RANGE Melange is what finally got me traction.I still had kALE for 52 across until the end since even after I took out Mark I was still thinking money.

syndy 12:37 AM  

Holy crap I had HILDA swinton so Rats-dnf.I guess I won't be resting on my laurels or anything else

Anonymous 12:48 AM  

My worst showing in a year or so. Wrote in BACHELORPARTIES immediately and still had trouble in the NE with Shakespeare partial and two unfamiliar proper names. Was sure that it was TRADEMARKS being poached (or pirated, as in the crossing clue - brain f***t). Punted two of the three 15s in the south for lack of crosses. Aaargh.

Carola 1:24 AM  

Appropriate that the central CRUX consists of a bunch of marauders - a SEAWOLF + ARMY WORMS - as that center chunk just about destroyed me. Couldn't come up with RAMONE or figure out what kind of EGGS were getting poached: not familiar with GMATS or DEMIT. Solving online, I resorted to checking a couple of my guesses, one of which was wrong - _ sATS. That got me to trust ARMY after all (I'd been very doubtful about that Y) and I finally got everything filled in, but count it as a DNF because of checking letters.

@Rex - Agree entirely with your take on the top v. bottom 15s, especially ONE'S EGO.

chefwen 2:15 AM  

This one did me in. Pretty much word for word what Ret_chemist said. The bottom third would not budge for me and I threw in the towel, saying what I have too often said in the past "there's not enough time in the world". What I was able to fill in was fun. I did like 14D. Better luck tomorrow, AW GEEZ Saturday, play nice.

C. Ross Word 3:28 AM  

Tough puzzle but more rewarding than yesterday's DNF. Had more writeovers than I've had for quite some time: unPAID before REPAID, ONdates before ONADATE, THATScool before THATSOKAY, erie before YORK, wetMOP before DRYMOP, Stealer before SEAWOLF, wED before XED and on and on! Also, first thought at 36A was JOhnlennon before JOEYRAMONE. Thought we might have a repeat of the recent "as loose as a goose" at 61A which may have prompted another guest appearance by the limericking @Goose Gossage. Agreed with Rex about the uneven levels of difficulty within the puzzle as the bottom section was the toughest to fall. Also didn't like the duplicate "ONES" though "MASSAGESONESEGO" didn't feel objectionable to me when thought of as one indulging in self-flattery.

All-in-all, liked it although it probably cost me a little too much sleep. Good night all!

Attic Calc Maizes 3:55 AM  

Took exactly an hour while I half- watched this very very alarming documentary about the plastic trash island out near in the scheme of things I felt less alarmed about the double ONES!!!

But very displeased with "I'm gone!" in clues and "IMdONE" in the grid.

Only gimmes for me were TILDA, COIT, and a tentative TAM and ANN.
That was IT!

I guess I gotta agree with @Rex more or less.
I fell for the trIx thing, actually I fell for almost everything:


Wouldn't have gotten BIERE, but happened to read this afternoon a book of "How to Swear" in 4 languages.
And one phrase was about how to say "Your beer tastes like p*ss"...
in French, SPanish, German and Italian... so BIERE was on my mind.

Speaking of which, I liked how cosmo this puzzle was:

Fun to learn about JOEYRAMONE having a block...

and my hair is patted down from self-congratulation over ENLISTS AND getting ESCAPES to off the ES-!

Last corner was CRUX/MAIZE/UZI/XED hard but loved that...
and but one little V short of a pangram!

WHATDOYOUMEANWE? reminded me of the old Lone Ranger joke...
WHATDOYOUMANWE, white man? ;)

MetaRex 6:24 AM  

The combination of MASSAGES ONE'S EGO and RESTS ON ONE'S OARS definitely doesn't float my bateaux. My pique is greater for the former, where I had the lame AGE for ages instead of the semi-lame EGO.

The two phrases just don't sing in American English, as opposed to Onesian. I think it's time to retire Onesian, maybe to a dark wood-paneled club room in London where elderly gentlemen harrumph about how bad the world is nowadays.


MetaRex 6:35 AM  

Correction...I meant to say One's Sore

Loren Muse Smith 6:54 AM  

I SOO agree with the consensus: top half was easy but bottom half was BEASTly. I gave up, announced a DNF, saw REST ON ONE’S OARS, and then went back and dispatched the south with no problem. Huh.

MASSAGES ONE’S EGO would have made more sense to me with some kind of “self” clue – “does some self-flattering” maybe?

I missed the twin ONES.

I ended wondering how “mENDING” means “going along.”

MAIZE ESCAPEd me for a while. I couldn’t get past “taupe” or “mauve.”

Seeing how accessible the south was (with the big, fat 15 letter cheat), I wish I had been more patient. I think I could have” finished” (the mENDING problem. . .)

I liked it. I kept revisiting the grid looking for that V. I just can’t help it.

Thanks, Tim. Nice workout.

OTD 7:09 AM  

Way to many obscurities for me. Challenging, yes--medium, no. Agree with anonymous, not as much fun as it should have been.

The Bard 7:17 AM  

Sonnet XII

When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls all silver'd o'er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer's green all girded up in sheaves
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;
And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make defence
Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.

GILL I. 7:50 AM  

Yikes..."How the hell should I know" said out loud at least 10 times.
Had the exact same write overs as @Attic Calc and @syndy, I too had Hilda instead of TILDA. What kind of name is that? I guess short for Matilda?
Why does JOEY RAMONE (who he?) rate a Manhattan block?
Didn't even notice the ONES till @Rex pointed them out.
My laurels gets rested on and for some reason my riots were rarees instead of MELEES.
I did finish but had help with the proper names.

Unknown 8:12 AM  

Took me seven minutes to complete the top half of this puzzle, which is quite a brisk pace for me on a Friday.

Bottom half took 33.

Glad to see Rex had a similar (although I am sure much faster) experience.


jackj 8:35 AM  

Tim Croce shows us he has these weekend themeless puzzles well in hand. But, while his construction comfort goes north, our solving acuity seems to be going south.

Today’s puzzle started off like a Saturday Stumper until enough little crosses were flushed out at the top and BACHELORPARTIES showed it was the intended answer for the clever clue “Last single blasts?”.

But, with the upper portion filling in, there was a rude awakening when moving down the puzzle to find that the grid design had limited connectors and one had better not stumble or it would make for a long night. (Thanks be to BEASTS, BALOO and QUIK).

My favorite of the triple stack 15’s was the first one, WHATDOYOUMEANWE, with the last one, RESTSONONESOARS, close behind. Seeing ONES in two of the bottom 15’s emphasized that word’s importance when cluing lengthy, in the language phrases, and no fair complaining about the double usage.

The toughest area came in the S. Carolina section where MAIZE, RIA and REPAID all seemed like they would fit but trying to come up with a sensible answer for the “vacation resort” clue, with only ES and the last “L” of BALL, was proving impossible until realizing that hay needs to be bound into a BALE before it can leave the field and then ESCAPESTO filled the down and it was over except for the silent cheers for a brilliant clue.

Thanks for another beauty, Tim!

JackLee 8:58 AM  

Definitely challenging -- DNF and had to look here for answers. Why is MAIZE lighter than mustard?

Unknown 9:04 AM  

Couldn't. Agree. With Rex. MORE!

Sir Hillary 9:15 AM  

Wow, this was a brutal workout. TILDA and COIT were gimmes, then got NIALONG (not sure how/why I know her...only from crosswords, I guess) and partials ---DING and ------EGGS. Luckily, I got ESCAPESTO just off the E, confirmed by CRUX. From there, South Carolina (bravo, jackj!) was easily conquered. Not long after, the entire bottom fell. Oddly enough, I found it the easiest section, although I agree with those who find the answers wanting. All of the preceding took about 10 minutes.

Then...nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nothing in the SW except SANS, despite having the bottom three rows. Nothing in the north, zero. Got QUIK (confirmed with EAU) which helped not at all.

Then the answers gradually revealed themselves. At least, most of them -- I was absolutely crushed by three critical errors: ete/MAI, erie/YORK and resists/ENLISTS (despite that this would have repeated the TEA duplicate from yesterday). Eventually I finished, with DEMIT being the final entry.

Toughest Friday in quite a while for me. First three rows are fantastic though. Thanks Tim!

evil doug 9:30 AM  

The Ramones are one of my alerts on satellite radio. Nobody gets more out of three or four chords than they do. And how can you not start happily tapping your feet to 'Rock and Roll High School' or 'The KKK Took My Baby Away'? But The Beatles are also on that Sirius/XM alert list, so I too started with the (too) obvious Johnlennon.

Loren: I stuck with "What do you mean, me?" and somehow persuaded myself that 'mending' worked. Wish I'd remembered Tonto's joke....

Don't get the connection between 'attention getter' and facebook; as a former public speaking professor I'd clue it with 'best way to open a speech'.

'Maize': Always--I mean, always--recall that Mazola 'oleo' commercial with the Indian woman saying "maize, what you call corn" line. And I'm pretty sure Bart Simpson made that into one of his famous last minute, unprepared classroom presentations at some point.

Can't get enough melees, kerfuffles and brouhahas:
[Kramer and Newman have tried to make some money selling old records, but haven't had much luck with Sergio Mendes and other assorted junk they collected from Jerry and an old guy he's volunteering with...]

Kramer: Y'know we took the old man's records over to Ron's and he
tried to screw us so we got in a fight.

Newman: It was a real *melee*.

Kramer: Yeah, a real brouhaha...


joho 9:50 AM  

Definitely top easy and bottom heavy.

DNF for me and when I came here to see the last three lines I didn't feel so bad afterall.

@JackLee, the color MAIZE is a lighter shade than the color of mustard.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow!

Milford 9:59 AM  

Real tough one today, had to keep putting it down and restart to let brain rest. Managed to get the middle first, and finally got the top after erasing IOC for 1D (I was thinking Olympic rings before boxing). And I had mENDING/mE kept until I came here, like many others, I see.

The bottom was a mess with all the German cross referencing, and the two ONES phrases. Had to finally google the bird I've never heard of. I don't mind the bottom being so hard, but the payoff wasn't much for me.


@JackLee - think of MAIZE and mustard as icky yellow colors.

John V 10:02 AM  

I guess the bouncy rail car we had this morning was an omen that I was going to have a rough ride. Wow, rough is word all right. Got killed again, actually worse than yesterday, which is saying something. Did okay on the top, like many, but the bottom 2/3 were mostly white space when I ran up the DNF flag.

I was quite surprised at how badly I did. First reaction on looking a the grid was that three stacked 15s meant crossing with 3s so should be easy; sure didn't turn out like that.

Last week and this week difficulty gradient for Th and Fri felt much steeper than usual. Friday and Saturday seem to be getting swapped lately.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Having grown up there, I entered ERIE for the Pa city and county. Really showed me up.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:40 AM  

Liked the puzzle. Finished with one mistake, but when I read the blog and it came to my attention, I laughed: At 27 A, I had my sweet BABOO!

Couldn't look at 2 D (HAR) without thinking of our Masked & Anonymous.

BTW, I finally signed up for the ACPT, but, sorry Will, this year I am skipping the official Friday night offerings.

WA 10:47 AM  

If this was my first puzzle, it would have been my last. Another DNF. We was so clever, that the clues seemed like inside jokes of a group you were not a part of.

Har? They don't even say that at Har-vard.

Twangster 10:52 AM  

Spent an insane amount of time on this, made a huge mess, almost gave up, but eventually got it all except for ME instead of WE up top. Felt like a very challenging Saturday to me.

Moved from JOHNLENNON to FATSDOMINO to BILLGRAHAM before finally arriving at JOEYRAMONE.

Two Ponies 11:11 AM  

Pretty rough sailing today.
Loved sea wolf.
Started with unpaid debts but realized all debts are unpaid so fixed that.
The X of crux was the last letter to go in. That intersection was
cred/did for far too long.
Also wanted John Lennon.

lawprof 11:48 AM  

Fridays always start out tough for me because I have to first FIND the damn thing in the 3-part Arts Section of the NYT. You'd think it would show up in more or less the same place every day (or at least every day of the week). But noooo. Why does it always appear in the last place I look?

Thought I might be on world record time when I immediately dropped in BACHELORPARTIES and the top third fell fairly quickly. Middle third was a bit of a grind and the bottom was brutal. Still, finished in about average time for a Friday, which is to say pretty slow.

I was feeling pretty good about finishing until I came here and found the same error as @Loren: the 1A/14D crossing, where I had an M. Just not patient enough, and it cost me a DNF. Bummer.

Ethan 11:50 AM  

I'm not sure where Rex is going here with his criticism of ONES. We often see the impersonal pronoun in puzzles, almost always the possessive pronoun. It has to be this way. Would he feel better if the answer had been MASSAGES BOBS EGO, and the clue had been "Does some flattering of comedian Hope?" That's oddly specific. And why is he saying that ONE'S is virtually *always* one's own? It's just the opposite; massaging an ego is something you do to someone else. Here's a headline it took me all of 5 seconds to find on Google:

Daily Kos: Hannity to massage Palin's ego on live TV

Most of the time Rex's criticisms are dead on, and sometimes they just come from Mars. This must be a Mars day.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:58 AM  

@lawprof - FWIW, on Friday I always open my Times to page 2 first, and look at the index which gives away the puzzle's hiding place. Saves a lot of frustrating page-turning!

Sandy K 12:02 PM  

Me too for mENDING along!!

Can't believe I guessed right at JACAMAR and CALC, but didn't get WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE...

CO SET made me think of Les Miz...


Unknown 12:02 PM  

Bogged down in the south for sure. I also had ERIE - I was pleased to actually come up with a 4 letter Pennsylvania city and county, but it wasn't the right one. Pretty sure I had a MAIZE Crayola right next to the Indian Red in my 128 pack back in the day.

retired_chemist 12:03 PM  

Also desperately wanted ERIE for 7D because it is almost the universal answer with 4 letters for a PA clue. But there was "BACHELOR PARTIES" and it wasn't going anywhere. So, finally YORK came through.

Also tried "WHAT DO YOU MEAN, ME?" for 1A.

lawprof 12:20 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle. Well, whaddaya know. Your advice will add about three hours a year to my life (which might be offset by the big headslap I've just given myself).

Notsofast 12:37 PM  

I really liked this puzzle. A little tough for a Fri, but that's good. I tried to make this puzzle harder than it was. Well done! A

Loren Muse Smith 12:47 PM  

@lawprof -

"Why does it always appear in the last place I look?"

Hah! Good one!

Man from Oz 1:01 PM  

Here, Down Under, COIT means buttocks. So, upon failing miserably on this puzzle and reviewing the auto-displayed correct grid, I was left wondering what sort of gay slang they had in SF where a buttocks tower was a thing.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Didn't think that I was going to wedge my way into this one at all and was looking at an epic fail. Finally got into the SE.

I had a strong feeling for GER and (O,E)RS, which led to <EGO. Got ESCAPES TO easily, and then ground through the bottom.

Like most everyone else, the Center was last. Pulled GMATS from somewhere and that finally cracked it.

For me, the top stack was way harder than the bottom stack, but maybe that's just because the bottom was where I was finally able to get into this at all.

We just had CORACLE a few weeks ago, which was immediately followed with a puzzle that had GATEAU. I noted at the time how BATEAU would have been so much cooler, so enjoyed the clue with 'bateaux'.

Lewis 1:24 PM  

@M&A -- dry spell, three in two days...

I thought the puzzle was tough but fair. For me it opened slowly but the answers felt satisfying. Thanks, Tim!

jazzmanchgo 1:28 PM  

Hmmm . . . "Brown Letters" = "UPS" seems kind of a stretch. UPS trucks are brown, and I guess the drivers' uniforms are, and of course they do deliver letters. . . but isn't this a few too many degrees of separation between a clue and an answer?

(And I wish someone could tell me what an "SPF" is . . .)

DBlock 1:43 PM  

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor or something like that. It is the number of times the lotion one uses protects the skin more than it would if you used no lotion at all, hence an SPF of 15 gives you 15 times more protection than using no lotion at all. But you still need to wait an hour after eating to go into the water. DBlock

Unknown 2:01 PM  


I couple years ago, UPS had a brief and failed marketing strategy where they tried to call themselves "Brown." Something like, "See what Brown can do for you."

SPF = sun protection factor (as in sunscreen)

Anonymous 2:06 PM  

This one killed me. A rare DNF after an hour, my usual Friday time is 20 min. Jacamar x calc x cosets? no way.

Bird 2:50 PM  

Similar experience as @Rex, but I needed assistance from the World Wide Web to get a few spaces filled in. Lot of the same write-overs as others.

I still don’t understand how ATTIC is a top web developer. I understand that spiders do construction in ATTICs, but . . .

20A was originally BLASTS (with the L coming from LAC at 21D) and I had no thoughts about it until I returned and saw LAU.

How many 3-letter Capes are there in Mass.? May? Nope. Cod? Nah.


WRINKLE RESISTANT almost fits. Damn.


Masked and Anonymo3Us 3:09 PM  

@Bird: Yep. ATTIC clue definitely is a member of the "Huh" coset. Webs will develop in one's (!) ATTIC, eventually, I guess?

Cosets! Group Theory! One of my least favorite advanced math classes. So abstract, even the teacher looked like a Picasso paintin'.

Fave words: ARMYWORM, JACAMAR, DRYMOP, SEAWOLF. All part of the "Research" coset. Three of 'em in that whirlin' central miasma. Also enjoyed havin' ol' friend BALE flop off the harvestor for a second straight day.

Fave clue: "I'm gone!" Wanted MITTAFTERSEEINOHIORETURNS. Plus about ten incorrectomundo 5-letter things, before I finally stumbled onto ADIOS. Part of the "duh" coset.

Seed entries? ARMYWORMS?

Thinkin' of U 3:16 PM  

p.s. Too bad that Croce dude doesn't spell with an accent. Then you'd have yer SEAVOLF and ARMYVORMS. Wah-lah! Pangram.

Tita 3:44 PM  

Must come back to read posts this evening.
Major DNF.
Only certainties were GTO, BONN/GER (how many European lands changed capitals? Well, coulda been lira, I suppose.

Qtip before QUIK - figured mebbe they had a bunny with a cottony tail?

ALso had ARsonbugS before ARMYWORMS. How do they strike matches without thumbs?

bOfa tower (BofA was hq'd there...) before COIT.

My brother's cat is named BALOO - that didn't help me with the clue, though.

Loved WHATDOYOUMEANWE, and nasty misdirects for ATTIC, MAIZE...


I'll join y'all later when work is done and when cookies are made for tomorrow's guests.

Davis 3:52 PM  

I actually finished the bottom first, then the top. But the middle of this puzzle destroyed me. I probably spent 2/3 of my time on this puzzle staring blankly at that mess. I finally had to do a lot of Googling, which makes this the worst DNF I've had in a very long time.

sanfranman59 4:05 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 31:20, 20:49, 1.51, 99%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 22:43, 11:47, 1.93, 100%, Challenging

Medium-Challenging Rex? Seriously? I think not.

GILL I. 4:14 PM  

@E. Doug...Thanks for the info on JOEY RAMONE. I did finally look him up and (I guess) I'm ashamed to say he still doesn't ring a bell...
@Tita - Are you thinking of the BofA tower in NYC? In SFO it's called the BofA Center.

Anonymous 5:14 PM  

Solving this puzzle reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode where the astronaut lands his spaceship in what appears to be a parallel world. Everything is similar, but not quite right. In this puzzle it seemed every answer I tried was viable, but not quite right: tanager instead of jacamar, where a tanager has characteristics that fit the clue, "I'm gone" instead of "I'm done", "mer" or "lac" instead of "eau" for the French boat, WBA instead of WBC. Just absolutely on a different wavelength, couldn't get lucky with a single educated guess. In a parallel world I'd have soared through this one.

Mohair Sam 5:46 PM  

Rex's obscure fauna comment was my LOL for the day. Amen. Watched Tilda Swinton's fantastic performance on Wednesday (Netflix) and forgot her first name this morning. Sheez.

OISK 6:08 PM  

Really tough for me, never heard of the Ramones, Tilda Swinton, or Nia Long. But I plodded on, and finished, or thought I did. Like others here, I had Mending instead of Wending, and Do you mena Me instead of We. Careless - I don't consider a single missed square a DNF, by the way!
Despite my difficulties I thought this was a very well constructed puzzle. Perfect for a Friday.

Anonymous 6:36 PM  

Shouldn't SIB have been clued with some indication it was an abbreviation? That was my first guess but wrote it off because twin and triplet were full words...

michael 7:56 PM  

Got the top, got the bottom. But the middle did me in. DNF.

mac 7:59 PM  

Tough challenging. I had "ate" at 42D, ochre for maize, mending at the top and don't even ask about he bottom couple of lines.

It looks good from a distance, this grid.

retired_chemist 8:15 PM  

@ Man from OZ - never heard that meaning for COIT. COIT Tower" is, however, pretty phallic, as the photo in the link shows. One apocryphal story is that Ms. Coit chose the design to look like a fire hose nozzle due to her affinity with SF firefighters.

Anonymous 9:27 PM  

Seems like there are more from SF than NY here after seeing so many COIT gimmes vs. the lack of familiarity with the great Joey Ramone. That COIT NIA LONG cross was the part that killed me. Not sure why ONE would think Mr. Ramone would warrant a smelly block. I'm pretty sure that the block in question is right off the Bowery near what used to be CBGB's - E. 2nd maybe? Anyway, my first post here after reading your comments for years. Thanks for the insights and education Rex and commenters!

Sandy M.

sanfranman59 10:08 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)

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)

jberg 10:49 PM  

Really, really hard for me - I was amazed when I eventually finished (at 10:30 PM, and I don't mean on Thursday!) I did have to go out early, so there was a 12-hour gap in there. I made virtually all the wrong choices (except I did avoid 'lac' for EAU) and had to struggle back.

@Evan, I think Rex is right - sure, you can massage someone else's ego, but you wouldn't say "one's" then. Oh, wait - if someone else is a habitual flatterer I guess you could say "he massages one's ego quite a bit," couldn't you? So all right then (except so many ONEs).

But DEMIT? Come on!

Z 12:13 AM  

Anon @ 12:18 pretty much nailed it, "This puzzle was less fun that it should have been."

Thank you Sanfranman59 for correcting the difficulty level.

I have to wonder if Ms. Swinton signs her name ~ Swinton, or just ~ to friends.

6:30 a.m. meetings for the next couple of months of Fridays. I suspect I will be among the last non-syndi posters for awhile.

Anonymous 12:28 AM  

Got it after confirming "demit," "army worms," and "jacamar" with Google. "Seawolf"stumped me for a while since I only had "olf" for a while, then got it in a flash of insight. Crappy puzzle. Feh.

Rex, didn't know you were a TCM fan. Me too. Can't stand any of the new trendy shows, and don't watch 'em. TCM is it for me, plus The Weather Channel occasionally. Could do without Drew Barrymore, the very model of the modern-day Hollywood blonde airhead, co-hosting "The Essentials" with Robert Osborne on Sat. nights, though, and blessing us with her profound "insights" into the classic films they are screening.

Tita 8:23 AM  

@Z...I've got 6am Friday meetings for the next few months...we can keep each other bleary-eyed company...

@12:28...totally agree...with the exception of ET, she is a sad representative of her noble family.

Spacecraft 11:43 AM  

Almost finished...the center did me in. No idea what GMATS are, and the clue for RRS, "They have end-to-end cars," is just stupid. I mean, how else, unless there's a pileup or we're talking about multi-level parking garages, do cars appear? Then there's that "rock icon," that giant talent, that multi-platinum album seller...WHO? JOEYRAMONE? Not, Mr. Croce, by the most elastic stretch of the imagination can you POSSIBLY call this guy a "rock icon." You might as well compare Salieri with Mozart. Bah! Worst clue I've seen all year (and I've seen some stinkers!). IMDONE.

Spacecraft 11:49 AM  

I agree with @Tita and @12:28: have recently seen many classics, including "Citizen Kane," enjoying them thoroughly. Last night was "Seven Days in May," a film I never get tired of watching. The suspense seems fresh every time. That's great filmmaking, friends.

Also agree about the inane babblings of DB. They ought to lose her.

DMGrandma 3:22 PM  

I join those who only partially got this puzzle-just too many unknowns. Finally discarded Shakespeare using a tree for shade. Side note, stuck for a clue for a word, look it up in his works! Knew Coit tower from growing up in SF, so got the top to work except for that ME thing.

The rest? I "feather my oars". I've never heard of GMATS. Actually, since my education pre-dated SATS of any kind, the little I know about them comes from puzzledom. And thinking ?SAT kept me from seeing ARMY.... No idea about JOEYRAMONE who was somehow so famous someone named a WHOLE block after him. Don't FACEBOOK, so no idea there, even with GETTER in place. All in all, I think a puzzle for a younger, smarter (JACAMAR!) generation. I'm glad they let me play along.

Dirigonzo 4:57 PM  

Well, I ended up with AtsYWORMS killing my crops in the center of the grid, and I was in the popular mEDNING group up top so I guess technically a DNF but I still had fun figuring out the tough clues and getting most of it right.

I'll be in prime time tomorrow (probably getting my COIT kicked but I'll see you back here Sunday.

Anonymous 5:00 PM  

Lots of grumblings today, I suppose because of the non-finishers. Actually, I ate it up because of the challenge. For some reason I'm on Croce's wavelength.
When I see his name, I'm happy. Thank you Mr. Croce. (I live a few blocks from Mrs. Jim Croce in San Diego). She runs a fine downtown reataurant names for her deceased hubby.
Ron Diego 2/22/13

Waxy in Montreal 9:06 PM  

Very much agree with @sanfranman59's rating cuz this did feel like an advanced CALC challenge to me in comparison to maybe the average Friday's intermediate algebra level of complexity. Eventually ended with a DONUT, the ugh (see yesterday's puzzle) representing my DNF being SIB, DEMIT, GRADEA (had EGGS) and ARMYWORMS.

Ego definitely needs a massage. Think I'll start with a BIERE. ADIOS, I'M DONE!

Anonyrat 11:19 PM  

Like @ syndy, finished with one wrong square thanks to hILDA Swinton.
It's so frustrating to hack your way through a puzzle like this, only to DNF for lack of knowledge of useless pop culture trivia. If I was into that stuff I'd be doing the TV Guide crossword instead ...

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

I was struggling with the rock icon when the bus reached my stop, so I put away the puzzle and gave it some thought on the walk to work. I had only the Y and the A in place and had already run the alphabet on four-letter names ending in Y. Sometimes putting the puzzle away helps me, so I decided to give it one more round of A-Z. did I miss that the first time? The A lines up too, and New York makes perfect sense! Boy, I couldn't wait for my work day to end so I could sit down on the bus again and write ANDY WARHOL in there.

Well, that took a full evening commute and another morning commute to fix.

I ended with ARSY WORMS in my garden. Look 'em up, man. Worms with actual arses.

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