Noted trisyllabic metrist / FRI 1-4-13 / Prelude to War documentarian 1943 / Grass appendages / Zesties maker / Fortune 500 microcomputer firm / 1894 novel whose title character likes to collect fingerprints / French urban network

Friday, January 4, 2013

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: "REPO MEN" (42D: 2010 Jude Law/Forest Whitaker movie) —
Repo Men is a 2010 American-Canadian science fiction action-thriller film directed by Miguel Sapochnik, and starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker. It is based on the novel The Repossession Mambo by Eric Garcia. [...]

Critical response

The film received generally negative reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 22% of 145 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 4.2 out of 10. Among Rotten Tomatoes' "Top Critics", which consists of popular and notable critics, the film holds an overall approval rating of 22%, based on 27 reviews. The site's general consensus is that "Repo Men has an intriguing premise, as well as a likable pair of leads, but they're wasted on a rote screenplay, indifferent direction, and mind-numbing gore." Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 1–100 reviews from film critics, has a rating score of 32 based on 31 reviews.

Box office

Repo Men opened at #4 in its debut weekend in North America with $6,126,170 in 2,521 theaters, averaging $2,430 per theater. The film eventually grossed $17,805,837 worldwide—$13,794,835 in North America and $4,011,002 in other territories. In July 2010, Parade Magazine listed the film as the #7 on its list of "Biggest Box Office Flops of 2010 (So Far)." (wikipedia)
• • •

I was clearly very confused when I began solving this one. I thought it was Thursday, so kept looking for a theme that never came. This is one of the perils of having such a long winter break—I totally lose track of time. Days bleed together. Or maybe my brain absolutely refused to accept yesterday's puzzle as legitimate and so decided *today* would be Thursday instead. Who knows? Also, the fact that the constructor is David J. Kahn only reinforced my certainty that it was a themed puzzle.  I can't remember ever doing a themeless by him; he does a lot of tribute puzzles, as well as some very tricky themed puzzles—just not a name I associate with the end-of-week themeless. So I was oddly frustrated by this puzzle for being both tough and inscrutable ... for a Thursday. When I figured out it was actually a Friday, the toughness made sense and the puzzle became highly scrutable and I actually finished in a slightly below-average time.

The 15s are all solid and lovely. Lively. Lovely and lively. Ugly fill is pretty minimal and well spread out. I mean is anyone but me gonna notice there are two phrases ending in "AT" (NIP AT, SET AT) and three ending in "IN" (ONE IN, DO IN, SENT IN)?  And if anyone noticed, would anyone care? Probably not. The one answer that made me wince was REHID, but this wincing was an aberration (Although XENONS didn't exactly thrill ...). Mainly, the fill seemed smooth and the cluing clever (if, appropriately tough in parts). I carved up a lot of short stuff before any of the long answers fell. Oddly, I wanted PRESSES THE FLESH (7D: Does street campaigning) very early, but when I started typing it, something must've gone haywire, because my version of the answer didn't quite stretch all the say, so I figured it was wrong. Must've left a letter out somewhere. Finally got MAINSTREAM MEDIA (17A: Target of some political attacks), and that gave me the leverage I needed to work down the grid in fairly methodical fashion.

Started this one with HIDE at 1A: Inveigle, so clearly I don't really know what "inveigle" means (although now that I read the definition, there is deception involved in inveigling, so *something*'s being hidden ...). Threw out HIDE when I got OLAY at 2D: Anti-aging product name. I've never read Twain's "PUDD'NHEAD WILSON" (11D: 1894 novel whose title character likes to collect fingerprints) and know nothing about it, so the clue was no help, but the date, and the fact that I'd heard of the title, were enough to make that one pretty easy to get. Fantastic hard clue on SEUSS (33A: Noted trisyllabic metrist). "Trisyllabic meter" simply means that the every third syllable is stressed. Now, this is not the meter of the two SEUSS works that come most quickly to mind ("One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" and "Green Eggs and Ham"), but "Yertle the Turtle" and other stuff follows the pattern. Another tough clue on CAPRA; nothing about the clue suggested his name to me (26D: "Prelude to War" documentarian, 1943). As with the clue for "PUDD'NHEAD WILSON," the date probably helped. I've put SØREN in a grid before, so that clue was oddly transparent to me (65A: Danish man's name with a line through the second letter). Interesting French clue for what could've been a simple verb clue at 28D: French urban network (RUES). Never heard of TECHDATA—not the most exciting company name in the world. In fact, about the most generic name possible for a "Fortune 500 microcomputer firm"—which made the answer pretty damned inferrable. Thought Zesties! were crackers, but they are crispy, seasoned French-fried potatoes, and they're made by the crossword-friendly ORE-IDA (49D: Zesties! makers). 53D: Grass appendages had me seeing hula in my head ... the marijuana ... finally the crosswordesey botanical term AWNS came to mind, and that difficult SW corner, as well as the entire puzzle, was done.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:07 AM  

I started with OLDE and OLAY both of which I erased (can anyone say reright?).  So, I might have made this tougher than it was.  I'm going for medium even though I struggled in the north e.g. also erased RARE for pARE only to put it back, had TErM for TEAM until I remembered the somewhat antiquated span of horses,  DAM came and went a couple of times also.

Interesting mix of very tough clues...Learn of, Turn, Ring figure..., Zesties maker and very easy ones that I didn't trust because it's Fri. after all...Newspaper clipping, Racket, Tear up,  You may feel below it...

Plus the names in this were also pretty easy...crossword friendly SELA, HARI, SHIA, SEUSS, SEALE, ESTEE... SOREN was a tad tricky, but who else could it be?

Liked it. It kept me on my toes.  The 15s were excellent, I had to reach way down in memory to come up with PUDDNHEAD. 

Anonymous 12:07 AM  

13D, span yields "team?" I'm at a loss...

Anonymous 12:11 AM  

Slow start, but then a strong push. Got three of the 15s with almost no crosses; very unusual for me. Wound up at 38:44, which is pretty good for me. And that was after staring at TEAM for "Span" for a few minutes. All the crosses had to be correct, so went with it without understanding why TEAM was correct.

Like the open grid a lot. Closed grids suckity-suck-suck.

Loser entry of the day? The horrible partial FAR AS, clued as a partial of a partial. It's previous appearance on a Saturday in 1995 had a much better clue, "So _____ as I know", which at least bracketed the partial into a complete thought, making it less ugly.

I would have preferred the never seen (in the LAMESTREAM NTY - singular or plural) FARTS / with CGI from CSI / and accepted the admittedly ugly, but easily inferred TSGT (which has reasonably recent precedent) from ASST (which would have been better clued as "Factotum".

Finished grid.

I skip M-W 12:14 AM  

Good puzzle.
Guessed Puddnhead Wilson straight off, though forgot there was no I in . Haven't read it in 50 years, but still recall it as a wonderful book, maybe Twain's best, or at least funniest.
The clue for xenons was forced at best. An actual reason for pluralizing xenon is quite hard to come up with, however.

Anonymous 12:23 AM  

Span: a pair of horses or other animals harnessed and driven together = TEAM

This I knew. On the other hand, I stared at ADIRONDACK_HAIR for about 5 minutes trying to figure out what was going on with this.

Not a promising sign for my dotage.

retired_chemist 12:23 AM  

@ anon 12:07 - think span of oxen.

My time said easy, my gut says medium. LOTS of good stuff here, especially the 15s.

First wife had an ancestor named SØREN Sørensen, so 65 A was easy.

Several writeovers: TOPAZ-> AZURE, ARS -> DEI, LANK -> RARE, PORN -> APPS.

XENONS is indeed ugly. Someone try to use the plural in a sentence. You will wish you REHID it.


I skip M-W 12:26 AM  

I meant to say..... No I in puddn.
@anonymice a span of draft animals is a team of two of them.

retired_chemist 12:26 AM  

Also - got REPOMEN totally by crosses and stared at it for some time before the D'oh moment. As with Anon 12:23, not a promising sign for my dotage.

Anoa Bob 1:40 AM  

I recently did some research into replacing the headlights on my '93 Ford Probe GT. Some of the halogens showed promise but the specifications for a couple of the XENONS convinced me to go that route.

chefwen 2:19 AM  

Presses the flesh was my big "O.K. now we can do this". Not so! Started off on a wrong note with lure before COAX at 1A. Screwing up 1A is always a bad omen. My finished product was ugly at best. Write-over city here at the compound.

Hope tomorrow is a little more user friendly.

Anklet Capra Mungs 2:30 AM  

Ok, as long as we are all praising the 15s but adding our stared ats, i don't get the Turn/SLUE clue (also wasn't sure if the bean was MUNG or MoNG. ) Don't get ANKLET /SARI connection and SHOO looks crazy with a slash through the second O!
Actually I noticed the two ATs and three INs...but that sort of gives me hope if I could come up with 5 killer 15s i could make a Friday...but then I realized that altho they are not stacked, they cross each other in two places each!!!!!
Not sure what this says about me, but 57D Brest milk was my favorite clue!

Evan 3:46 AM  

A bizarre solving experience: So much that I didn't know, hadn't heard of, and didn't necessarily understand while solving, yet the puzzle was still on my easier side for a Friday. Basically, for many of the answers, I didn't really get it, even though my finished grid says I got it. Here's what flew over my head:

* RARE -- Couldn't see how that meant "thin." A rare thing is thin in quantity, I guess? Seems a bit of a stretch to me, but says it can be defined as "thin in density: rarefied."
* ONER -- I don't think my brain will ever allow me to process this word as a real word, simply because I've never seen it anywhere besides crosswords.
* "Amanuensis" -- Definitely not in my wheelhouse for ASST. It sounds more like a disease.
* ADIRONDACK CHAIR -- Sure, now that I look it up, I've probably sat in one or several, but I've never heard of the name, and maybe I just think of it as simply a CHAIR without the ADIRONDACK qualifier.
* PRESSES THE FLESH -- Never heard this expression before despite spending years commenting on political blogs. It's a legit idiom and all, just one I'm not familiar with.
* PUDD'NHEAD WILSON -- I feel like I've heard the name once before, but still had no idea. Pieced it together through crosses.
* TEAM -- Like others above, I didn't get how it meant "span." Glad that the commentariat explained it.
* MUNG -- I eat Chinese food fairly frequently, and still don't remember ever seeing MUNG beans on the menu.
* TECHDATA -- I'm with Rex here.
* TSE -- Completely didn't understand the clue, mostly because I didn't know what "bourse" meant. It stands for Tokyo Stock Exchange.

It's a good thing that the powers that be at crossword tournaments don't care if you understand how an answer is right as long as you get it right. Grid don't lie, as they say (or at least, they should say).

Evan 4:07 AM  

One other thing: This puzzle shows a decent example of one of my rules-of-thumb about how the NYT usually goes for the most Scrabbly combination of letters it can get from a crossing. I eventually got COAX/COMB/XENONS, but not without pausing to consider if it was BOAT/BOMB/TENONS.

BOMB sounds reasonable if you think of it as "bombing through" something, like when you're driving....or maybe that's just an expression I've shared with my mother whenever she would chide me for "bombing through" my twice-a-year drive from Philly to Chicago by going the entire distance without stopping for the night. Anyway, BOMB sounded okay, but neither BOAT nor TENONS made sense in context. Of course, they might seem like decent answers if you don't know what "inveigle" means, if you're not that familiar with gases on the periodic table, and if you didn't know that TENONS are parts of joints.

Maybe it's because I've gotten into constructing puzzles, but I figure that if a corner can be filled one way, it can be filled another way with less common letters, all else being equal.

Mark Twain 6:30 AM  

Adam was but human -- this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple's sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.
-- Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar

MetaRex 6:36 AM  

I enjoyed the way the five 15s emerged as I solved and the vague connections among them...can imagine a politician--Hillary?--meeting with her advisors at her retreat at Raquette Lake...she's being urged to hit the streets to counter a rumor of scandal that might move from the Enquirer to the Times, but all she wants to do is sit by the water, look up at the pine trees, and read Mark Twain.

More at Red Omen

webwinger 7:47 AM  

Agree that the 15s were all super-nice and gettable with a few crosses. At first confounded Pudd'nhead with Tom Sawyer Detective, another lesser known Twain I read around the same time in middle school. Slue = turn and team = span were completely new to me. Got the first, blew the second, thinking beam, as in I-beam span; figured nip a B could be short for grab a bite or down a brewski. Also DNF because I couldn't give up pare for rare, so failed to see arteries or the awful oner. Great clues for Seuss and rues!

joho 8:04 AM  

I really enjoyed this one and found it to be easier than usual for a Friday and more satisfying to solve than some of the previous puzzles this week.


For a bit I, like @Rex, was looking for a theme and linked PRESS and MEDIA before I realized there was no theme.

@Acme, that was my favorite clue, too!

jackj 8:12 AM  

It doesn’t take long to be reminded that a fellow who has had 152 puzzles published in the NY Times is an accomplished professional at this game and a first look at the grid shows we are having to deal with 5 unstacked, stand alone 15’s, an interesting challenge.

Getting APPS, PAR and SEALE in the top center made for a promising launch, more so when PRESSESTHEFLESH was a comfortable meld with this group and opened up much of the puzzle’s middle.

But, my favorite of the 15 letter answers was the one that was the least expected and that jumped off the page once the bottom 5 letters were determined and, ADIRONDACKCHAIR it was, the classic outdoor furniture that is de rigueur as summertime seating, at least in New England and the Northeast.

Two of the other 15’s, WHATMORECANISAY and the reference to the Mark Twain novel, PUDDNHEADWILSON, were clever but came fairly easily and while the remaining one seemed especially “M” friendly it wasn’t revealing itself by dint of some clever crosses.

TEAM, ARIA, XENONS and OLAY all presented roadblocks of different intensities but, finally, MAINSTREAMMEDIA fit and triggered a major head slap as it should have been the most familiar of the group of 15’s after hearing it used ad nauseam during the recent campaign.

It is notable that all 5 of the 15’s were unique to this puzzle and a further nod to our constructor’s talent is evident in his determination to provide a clever clue for the most basic of 3 word answers by asking for an “Important connection?” with the answer of AND. Love it!

A most enjoyable crossword from one of the best!

Glimmerglass 8:32 AM  

I usually start with the shorter words, three's, four's, and five's. Today the short words were ambiguous or obscure, and the 15's were easy. The result was (for me) an easy-medium Friday.

Unknown 8:51 AM  

This was sure a tough one for me, but that just makes solving it all the more satisfying. Love those loooong 15s!

John V 9:18 AM  

Big time DNF. Really got done in by the downs, which were CAP City. Got 3D, only 15 I got. About have the grid ended up blank.

3 DNFs in a row. Maybe I should shovel snow tomorrow instead.

John V 9:19 AM  

That would be "half" the grid, of course.

evil doug 9:52 AM  

My Canadian border is an inky hot mess (green pen today) as far south as Wyoming.

Messed up right away with 'gore' (creepy Al being in the news yesterday) for 'comb'---made sense if 'errors' was the way people learned. Went with 'conceive' and then 'contrive' before 'conspire'. Tried 'alar' (wasn't that some chemical for making apples and stuff look fresher?) before 'Olay' saved the whole damn box.

Thought 'votre toast' might be a piece of 'arte', but then 'dam' wouldn't work. 'Hickey' didn't fit for 'light bite'. Made everybody's mistake with 'term' until the evil liberal 'mainstream media' salvaged the great not-so-white, ink-stained, error-creamed north.

No idea on 'Amanuensis', so had 'assn' before 'asst'.

'Coax' is great. 'Adirondack chair' too, though it should have been in the northeast up by Cooperstown. 'Drawn' for haggard is nice. 'Escrowed' is a fresh one for 'put away'. 'Mung' had a different definition on the playground, but I won't go into that here.

From the 'unnecessary especially on Friday but really even on Monday' dept, I offer 'cosmetics giant': What else is "____ Lauder" likely to be?


Sarah 10:11 AM  

My first book had a chapter on PUDDNHEADWILSON and fingerprinting so I got that one right away. "Thin" = RARE? Really? WHATMORECANISAY? And SLUE was a mystery to me, since I've never seen that word before, but knew it had to fit. Which is to say, the 16s were fun, the fill was dreck.

Lindsay 10:14 AM  

I was going to gripe about PRESSES THE FLESH and MAINSTREAM PRESS in the same puzzle, but then I discovered an error ....

Ellen S 10:48 AM  

i thought oxen came in yokes, like in Sweet Betsy from PIke, who crossed the wide prairie with her lover Ike; with two yoke of oxen and an old yeller dog, a tall Shanghai rooster and one spotted hog. Which is not accurately the offical lyrics according to Wikipedia, but they and I agree n "yoke". However, they say it's "yoke of cattle" which completely undermines my argument.

I knew Bourse was a stock exchange -- or stock "market", surely etymologically related to "bourgeois" or "burg" which have to do with townies and towns where markets are held (so when you Lutherans sing "Ein Feste Burg ist Unser Gott" you probably don't think you are celebrating the birth of capitalism). Medieval cities were indeed fortresses, but they were also (or for that reason) centers of commerce.

That's all my fictional language stuff for now. Have to take a dog and cat to the vet for a checkup. Oh, my daughter says it must be very difficult for a "grammar nazi" like me to accept that language changes.

Sandy K 10:50 AM  

Can't say that I was sure about all the clues eg. Span for TEAM - really wanted bEAM, ANKLET for a Sari accompaniment, or Amenuesis for ASST, but it was all gettable.

Liked all the long answers, mostly good fill, and I enjoyed the solve much more than yesterday's...


Cheerio 10:53 AM  

I learned the word Amanuensis when I was quite young. I recall that my mother thought it was a perfect example of the type of word you expect to see in the SATs.

Milford 10:54 AM  

Well, I shouldn't be surprised that I had to Google for the 4th day in a row, but at least this was a Friday, so it might be expected.

Eventually got four of the five 15s, but had to look up PUDD'NHEAD's last name. I've always loved those ADIRONDACK chairs, but can only afford the plastic ones. They are great because the arms are wide enough for a drink.

I'm with others like @Evan that felt like they were putting in words like RARE. SLUE, and TEAM without really understanding why. And I must have looked at 31D: "Secreted again" a dozen times, trying to figure out a synonym for REooze before I got REHID.

I read a Judy Blume book awhile back that used the word amanuensis to describe a personal ASST, so I did manage that one, amazingly.

Two Ponies 11:00 AM  

Fresh, fun, and palate-cleansing after yesterday's mess.
Must remember span = team just like
brace = pair for future puzzles.
The sprouts in your Asian food are mung beans.
I always remember slue from The Yearling. The menacing bear with the turned-out foot was named Ol'
Slue Foot although in the dialect I imagine it was spelled Slew.
You wear anklets with your sari?

GILL I. 11:05 AM  

I could do a puzzle like this everyday; it would surly put me in a good mood...
My bugaboo was putting in TVA for that DAM answer. That took forever to clean up.I remembered PUDDNHEAD WILSON from somewhere so I cleaned up that upstairs mess.
My grandmother taught me the word amanuensis. She always would come up with a word of the month. Only I thought it was a secretary so I had SECT???? SHIA LaBeouf is his real name? I guess if you like rib eye.
Mr. Kahn clearly loves Bizet's Carmen. Two great references. The matador Escamilla singing the TOROeador song VOTRE TOAST, je peux vous le rendre.
I liked SEUSS RUES in the middle part.

GILL I. 11:15 AM  

PS @jae: Whose the lovely girl next to you?

evil doug 11:15 AM  

Gill: "...and don't call me 'surly'."

Milford 11:25 AM  

@Two Ponies - re: ANKLET - think jewelry, not socks, if that helps.

GILL I. 11:27 AM  

@evil duck: ACK! Can't spell but I thought you jest....

Two Ponies 11:39 AM  

@ Milford, OK, thanks. Jewelry on your ankle is an ankle bracelet in my part of the world. Wearing socks with your sari would be a sorry sight.

For all of the Downton Abbey fans here I am so anxious for Season Three but I beg you please no spoilers here. I never get to see it on the days it airs.
Thank you in advance.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:59 AM  

No one could be more surprised than I was when I got ADIRONDACK CHAIR off nothing but the first "D". Wonder how I came up with that!?!

Otherwise, slow but steady to the end with just one write-over at 45 A, DEO before DEI.

(Did I miss something? Seeing 65 A, SOREN, makes me wonder what happened to Loren.)

retired_chemist 12:12 PM  

@ Ellen S - Bourse means "purse."

"Feste Burg" of course has the root you ascribe to it but I suspect it means, more or less literally, "fortified town," hence "Mighty Fortress." We need Ulrich.

My own (semi) fictional language stuff....

Masked and Anonymo3Us 12:28 PM  

MUNG beans? Admire the vowel selection, but holy beannames, batman. Sounds like somethin' one'd eat on New Year's Day to have bad digestion luck all year.

Fave fillins:
ONER - Thursday dejavuosity! Ditto for ONEIN.
XENONS - Has that faint fragrance of desperation that I so enjoy.
REPOMEN - Schlock movie. Like.

Fave clues:
Span. Just says it all, if you don't want the word TEAM ever to even occur to solvers.
Japanese bourse Abbr. Just says "move along. nothin' to see here. Get it from the crosses."


syndy 12:57 PM  

Threw down ADIRONDACKCHAIn right off.never doubted it! Bourse did nothing for me(some kind of bush?)a Japanese abbrev?? so that sw corner was my nemesis!I got TEAM on crosses-didn't understand it but okay.I liked the GEESE eating the Peas instead of the beans!I have worked at a Rare earth Mine so I knew that certain elements are thin on the ground.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

Bourse, disburse, bursa (anat), all related to purse.
Burg (German) or bourg (French) means small city, hence bourgeois. Not related to purse, and a Mighty Fortress has nothing to do with capitalism!
Good try

M and A also 2:24 PM  

@31--Dang. Real ironic. Me, I use the NYT puz to help keep the day-of-the-week straight. Can always count days since the last big puz:
0. Big Puz.
1. Ginger snaps.
2. Emancipation Proclamation.
3. Froot loops.
4. Oners.
5. Today. [5 days after Big Puz = Friday. QED.]

See how it works?
Thought, with U bein' a fellow Bandore Denarii star system dude and all, U'd already know this.
M&A, Bandore Denarii space commander.

M and A's last silver denarii 2:47 PM  

@31--Altho, one can get confused, if one gets into the week-old fortified egg nog.

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

As reported in the mainstream media, I was sitting in an Adirondack chair reading "Puddnhead Wilson." What more can I say?

Lewis 2:58 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 2:59 PM  

Medium hard for me, with the tricky cluing. BANDORE DENARII, I love crunchy puzzles like this!

Z 3:01 PM  

TSE isn't a poet today. Fantastic!

My big hang up was at 5D. With bARE and ONEa in place, I sat staring at AbTEaIES for a long time. It probably took me 15 minutes to suss out the two "R's," my last two letters in. My other big tussle came from plopping in fava for my beans. I got to -UNG and wondered if there were beans for dUNG beetles. This one took me longer than yesterday's, but agree with @Gill I.P. - I could a puzzle like this every day.

@Two Ponies - No spoiler here, but Rolling Stone calls season three the "Ultimate Anglophile Bitchfest." in it's 1/17 issue.

Did anyone else notice the RexWorld earthquake yesterday?

Carola 3:08 PM  

Found it challenging and very enjoyable. Took forever for the 15s to drop, but I didn't mind as I had fun figuring out the "turn, "span," "thin," etc., clues. For Twain's novel, for a while all I had was DDNH and couldn't believe it -loved seeing how that worked out.

I was also hazy on "inveigled" - first tried hOAX. Like Gill I. P., I think of an amanuensis as a personal secretary, with a 19th c. flavor, so first tried secy. Had no idea the word had made the transition to the days of personal assistants. OLAY anti-aging products, on the other hand, are all too familiar to me.

@Evan - I learned ONER from my mom. High praise from her was "You're a oner!"

@Ellen S - Loved your take on Lutheran capitalism - fits nicely with the Protestant work ethic. I've always pictured that "feste Burg" as one of those isolated medieval fortified castles high on a cliff, like Burg Rheinstein.

Howard 3:08 PM  

After yesterday's monstrosity, this puzzle was a pleasure. Moved consistently through the puzzle with little trouble but never understood why TEAM wa the correct answer until I read the comments here.

Ellen S 3:09 PM  

Ha! I never noticed that TSE is a frequent answer. Yes, good **AND** I had no trouble filling it in even though I was dead wrong about what Bourse actually means. Thank you, @anonymous and @retired_chemist.

mzw8888 3:19 PM  

I am surprised by the comments because i would have rated the puzzle easy. The long words were fairly common phrases. Adirondack chair started as rocking chair but was given away when the upper left gave adi. I found that anklet was the hardest to get in the entire puzzle. Techdata was derived, not apparent, who ever heard of it? All in all, a Friday without a real challenge.

sanfranman59 3:38 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 20:01, 20:49, 0.96, 44%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 10:54, 11:47, 0.93, 32%, Easy-Medium

Anonymous 4:17 PM  

sanfranman59 (or anyone interested)- Do you have a 'feeling' for what 'all solvers' means? How that should be defined? Would people from your source be considered expert-plus? I couldn't even consider a Friday on anything but paper.

It strikes me that the average 'casual' or 'occasional' solver would have great difficulty wedging their way into a Friday grid at all.? But perhaps I am mistaken.

I'd be especially interested in levels of solvers and average times for those levels. Don't even know if that is possible, short of 'best guess'.

"All solvers" 'average' 20:49 on Friday"! I've only gotten under 30:00 twice, and I've got a couple of years of data. (Been doing crosswords a whole lot longer than that.) I'm pretty pleased to crack a Friday in under an hour. I manage about two of three without errors.

Just curious about real times for real people. I know that The Smart People blow me away.

Notsofast 4:21 PM  

Satisfyingly tough, many unusual words. Love PUDDNHEADWILSON. Big fun. Bravo!

Anonymous 4:44 PM  

Why is one word always shaded on Rex's completed puzzle and why the red square?

Sparky 4:45 PM  

DNF. Never got all of MAINSTREAM. Hand up for SLew at first. PUDDNHEADWILSON early entry. Enjoyed it ages ago. Thanks Mr. Twain for stopping by. @EllenS: I sing oxen, too. Liked long 15s, not stacked. @TwoPonies: that's a sorry pun. I never want to see the word ONER again.

So happy to have a puzzle I could work at after bad week and train wreck yesterday when I managed only SW and half of NE. Whew.

Here's to a good weekend.

mac 4:45 PM  

"Easy for a Friday" for me, with three of the long answers popping right in.I didn't know the Twain novel, but pieced it together, amazing my husband.

The only area I had trouble with, and which I filled in last, was the rues/Seuss section. Had construe for conspire for a long time.

I know amanuensis from high school in Holland, it's a lab assistant.

Women in saris typically have bare feet (and disposable shoes when they live in New Delhi). Kimonowearers with their obis wear one-toed anklets. I've made ankle bracelets, but never wore them or called them anklets.

Nice puzzle! Let's see if my post disappears again.

mac 4:47 PM  

P.S. @acme and @joho: agreed, best clue in the puzzle.

mac 4:48 PM  

"Easy for a Friday" for me, with three of the long answers popping right in.I didn't know the Twain novel, but pieced it together, amazing my husband.

The only area I had trouble with, and which I filled in last, was the rues/Seuss section. Had construe for conspire for a long time.

I know amanuensis from high school in Holland, it's a lab assistant.

Women in saris typically have bare feet (and disposable shoes when they live in New Delhi). Kimonowearers with their obis wear one-toed anklets. I've made ankle bracelets, but never wore them or called them anklets.

Nice puzzle! Let's see if my post disappears again.

Casey 5:04 PM  

Ellen S, you were dead right about the meaning of bourse- stock exchange, hence TSE.

Tita 5:29 PM  

I too loved the Brest milk clue.
One of my Mom's knockout desserts is Paris-Brest. Essentially, a giant cream puff shaped into a crown.

Never looked it up before, but today learned that it was created to commemorate a Paris to Brest bicycle race in 1891, and that's why it's shaped like a wheel...

Oh those French...

DNF with CutOFF instead of CAPOFF.

A nice Friday - liked what everybody liked.

Happy 10th day of Christmas...

mac 5:35 PM  

"Easy for a Friday" for me, with three of the long answers popping right in.I didn't know the Twain novel, but pieced it together, amazing my husband.

The only area I had trouble with, and which I filled in last, was the rues/Seuss section. Had construe for conspire for a long time.

I know amanuensis from high school in Holland, it's a lab assistant.

Women in saris typically have bare feet (and disposable shoes when they live in New Delhi). Kimonowearers with their obis wear one-toed anklets. I've made ankle bracelets, but never wore them or called them anklets.

Nice puzzle! Let's see if my post disappears again.

4:48 PM

Two Ponies 5:41 PM  

@ Sparky, I wondered if my pun would get a groan. Glad you noticed. I could not resist.
@ Anon 4:17, I think many of us regulars would agree that coming to this blog daily has significantly improved our solving skills. I used to be average but even now I don't know if I'm a smart person with capital letters. Let's just say well-practiced.

Rube 5:49 PM  

Got lucky with REPOMEN, but, like others had to come here to find out why TEAM=Span, (thanks @jae & others). Otherwise, a satisfying finish -- DOIN(?).

Knew SLUE from some ole timey song with the lyrics "...slue foot sue...". Had this word some time back on some xword blog... probably here!

Had NSE for far too long, thinking it was the Nippon Stock Exchange.

Somehow we ended up with some ADIRONDACK CHAIRS on the houseboat. They're absolutely useless for anything but stargazing and holding drinks on the wide arms. They're even uncomfortable for reading. Don't even think about using them at a dining table.

Looks like I'll have to read Pudd'nhead Wilson someday.

jae 5:51 PM  

@Gill I.P. -- That would be my delightful granddaughter.

Half a fly: TSE

Z 6:02 PM  

@anon4:17 - you can read about some of the very issues you ask about in SanFranMan59's post that he references in every post. As for myself - 30 minute Fridays would be a good Friday.

@anon4:44 - Your question is a FAQ. I bet if you click on the FAQ link at the top of the post you will find the answer to your question and many others, like what a NATICK or OOXTEPLERNON is. You will not find the definition of BANDORE DENARII, however.

Rube 6:08 PM  

Almost forgot... I'm surprised no-one wanted tilaka for "Sari accompaniment". For those of you who've forgotten the appearance here, (or maybe CC's), of this, it's the dot on Indian women's foreheads. I wanted it, but already had a couple of other letters.

Casey 6:20 PM  

I found the Brest milk clue quite titillating.

A Friend 6:33 PM  

For the record, here's a post from (m*a*c) which Blogger is censoring:

"Easy for a Friday" for me, with three of the long answers popping right in.I didn't know the Twain novel, but pieced it together, amazing my husband.

The only area I had trouble with, and which I filled in last, was the rues/Seuss section. Had construe for conspire for a long time.

I know amanuensis from high school in Holland, it's a lab assistant.

Women in saris typically have bare feet (and disposable shoes when they live in New Delhi). Kimonowearers with their obis wear one-toed anklets. I've made ankle bracelets, but never wore them or called them anklets.

Nice puzzle! Let's see if my post disappears again.

4:48 PM

Tita 11:28 PM  


sanfranman59 12:24 AM  

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 5:45, 6:12, 0.93, 18%, Easy
Tue 7:31, 8:37, 0.87, 14%, Easy
Wed 14:17, 11:52, 1.20, 87%, Challenging
Thu 22:43, 17:05, 1.33, 91%, Challenging
Fri 19:54, 20:49, 0.96, 43%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:43, 3:39, 1.02, 58%, Medium
Tue 4:33, 4:57, 0.92, 18%, Easy
Wed 7:54, 6:34, 1.20, 90%, Challenging
Thu 13:38, 9:27, 1.44, 91%, Challenging
Fri 10:47, 11:47, 0.92, 29%, Easy-Medium

@Anon 4:17 ... The "All solvers" group for the numbers and ratings I post is everyone who solves the puzzle using the Times online app and thereby posts a solve time on the "scorecard". The "Top 100" is the 100 fastest solve times posted there.

Joseph B 3:32 PM  

Good puzzle.

I guessed wrong on my last letter at the SOREN/TSE cross, laying down SORIN/TSI instead. I knew two Sorins when I worked with a bunch of Romanians, but it appears the Danes spell it differently.

And really, "bourse?" What, "Japanese market" wasn't deemed sufficiently tough?

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

"comb"?? How about "gore" "core" "tore" ... it threw me off for awhile until I got "By rote"

Waxy in Montreal 1:52 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Waxy in Montreal 1:57 PM  

Fun Friday puzzle which provided some welcome relief from Wednesday & Thursday's, not to mention the winter storm raging up here in the NE corner of syndiland. Only real problem in the SE where I couldn't COAX ORE-IDA and TECHDATA to appear for the longest time. WHATMORECANISAY? Time to get shovelling my STEPS!

Spacecraft 2:05 PM  

I came close; I really wanted to finish this but came a cropper at 7d. Had CONStruE in place, couldn't come up with an alternative. "Measures" to me were STatS, but what was "Thin"? _ARE. BARE? PARE? So what are "Ways to go?" A_TE_rES. Just couldn't get it. Never thought of CONSPIRE, though it's an "Of course!" headslap now that I see it.

But really, guys. you use "Thin" to define RARE?? No, I'm sorry. I'm throwing the flag on that one. Fifteen yards, repeat the down. And while I'm at it, the flag stays down for "Span" to mean TEAM.

These clues are worse than tough. They're downright unfair. You can't do that.


I see now that 23a is ONER. That's a sad crippleword for crosswords. Nobody says that. It's just awful.

Still, I liked the challenge of a toughie, and with my true love SELA Ward in the grid, I cannot diss the entire thing. Liked the 15s. Writeovers: "Ye goDs!" I thought right away, before that wouldn't work. And I was a specialIst before I specialIZEd. And naturally, My "span" was a TErM. Fixed those, but couldn't fix my ARTERIES. [sigh]

I love you, SELA. [sigh]

Waxy in Montreal 3:09 PM  

@Space, think rare air and thin air as well as a span or team of oxen. But I agree, both are pretty thin gruel...

DMGrandma 5:52 PM  

@Evan pretty well summed up my experience, and taught me what bourse means. It sounded to me like some kind of a meadow, so TSE??? On the other hand, I had no trouble with TEAM and ONER, both learned from puzzling. My hold up was WHATelseCANISAY, but crosses helped there. The last fill was DATA. Had the TECH part and finally just put in something that could be plausible. Left me with SHIA which couldn't be right, but it is! Some head scratching and write overs, but I finished! Must remember that when tomorrow comes along.

Can't remember who said blogger ate her words, This happens to me fairly often, like just now, when I go to enter the Captcha . I always copy my comments and paste them in and try again. SO here goes.

Dirigonzo 6:59 PM  

I had a lot of trouble with the short fill but the long answers saved me as they all came into view fairly quickly. WHATMORECANISAY? Like @DMG, I decided that TECHDATA was the only plausible answer but was sure SHIA couldn't be right - but it was.

@Waxy - the storm is raging here too, but so far we have not seen the severe blizzard conditions they have been predicting.

@Gill I.P. - I love it when you get surly.

Spacecraft 8:23 PM  

Oh, almost forgot. One more penalty flag: "Actor [sic] LeBoeuf?? 'Scuse me, but I believe--if I remember my anatomy correctly--that SHIA is an actRESS. And in this particular case, I believe there is no doubt about it. None whatsoever. Five yards for genderbending.

Dirigonzo 8:55 PM  

@Spacecraft - I don't mean to rain on your parade but this from wiki: Shia Saide LaBeouf[1] (pron.: /ˈʃaɪ.ə ləˈbʌf/; born June 11, 1986) is an American actor who became known among younger audiences for his part in the Disney Channel series Even Stevens, for which he received a Daytime Emmy Award, and for his film debut in Holes (2003), based on the novel of the same name by Louis Sachar. In 2004, he made his directorial debut with the short film Let's Love Hate and later directed and shot the music video for "I Never Knew You" by rapper Cage. In 2007, LaBeouf starred as the lead in the commercially successful films, Disturbia and Transformers. His other films include Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)."

Spacecraft 11:09 PM  

@Diri: Wow, who knew? "Among younger audiences" is the key phrase here. I was thinking of the other one. Anyhow, thanks, and that flag is picked up. "There is no penalty on the play."

Chris 10:18 AM  

I must make my brain remember... it is AWN, not ARN. I must. I can't but I must. Because then, I would not have been thinking of a phrase starting with RHA_ instead of WHA_

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP