Handel work featuring David / SAT 2-22-13 / Cretan peak / Yucca named by Mormon settlers / Live at Apollo airer / Coiner of phrase global village / Phishing string / Noted Titanic couple / Biblical figure believed to be buried near Basra / 1994 Emmy winner for Dvorak in Prague

Friday, February 22, 2013

Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: "Mrs. 'ARRIS" (11D: "Mrs." in a Paul Gallico novel title) —
Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris is the title of a Paul Gallico novel originally published in 1958. In the United Kingdom, it was published as Flowers for Mrs Harris. It was the first in a series of four books about the adventures of a London charwoman. (wikipedia)
• • •

As quad-stacks go, this is fine, but quad-stacks are generally miserable things, and I mostly felt miserable solving this thing. First, it was misplaced on a Friday (very clearly a Saturday puzzle, difficulty-wise). Second, just ... all the junk you get with quad-stacks. MARSHALL MCLUHAN is a very fine 15 (29A: Coiner of the phrase "global village"), but the rest are just OK at best. WTF is an ORATORIO SOCIETY? (38A: Group that might perform 16-Across) That's a thing? I know each of those words individually, but would never think to put them together. That's the thing about most tall stacks—you get at least one if not several 15s that are perhaps defensible, but pretty weak. ACCOUTERING is a word I hope never to encounter again (24D: Getting in gear). I eat OATMEAL every morning. I suppose that I have OATMEAL CEREAL every morning (9D: Quaker offering), but of course I'd never say that. The most irksome thing about the puzzle was how many "?" clues there were. Ridiculous. Lost their charm Very quickly. I think half a dozen should be about the max, and they should be *spot* on. Today, 11 (?!?!). And most are ... you know, OK, though "suggestion" is absurd for SEDAN (13D: Auto suggestion?) and the distance between your average BOXER and "lord" is pretty great (49D: Lord of the ring?). Overall, this was just a slog, with only Mr. Mcluhan, JOSHUA TREE, and JUDY GARLAND giving me any pleasure (15D: "Judgment at Nuremberg" Oscar nominee).

Pretty quick start in the NW, but this is a highly segmented grid, so making good progress in one area doesn't have much bearing on your overall success. So I came out of there and couldn't turn down, so went across and methodically put away the NE. But no matter what I did, the quad-stack wouldn't budge. Even when I drove ASTORS (26D: Noted Titanic couple), TEN HORSEPOWER (19D: Like some outboard motors), and JUDY GARLAND right through it, none of the Acrosses made any sense to me. A lot of those short Downs in there were super-ambiguous. In fact ... I think AT ME and NYE'S were the only ones I had. PEAK for HEAP (35D: Mountain). GYNS (is that a thing?) for MOMS (29D: Delivery people?). ROOF for LIEN (32D: It may be on the house). EAVE for LIEN. MARIO'S for LUIGI'S (26D: Nintendo's ___ Mansion). Bumbled around in the south and eventually worked it all out, but that still left a ridiculously empty middle. So I just started throwing in answers off the top of my head, just to get some kind of action going, something that might turn up a juxtaposition or letter string that triggered a correct 15. It was changing MARIO'S to LUIGI'S that got me both -GAME and -SOCIETY, which finally tipped the scales in my favor. I think I ended with A RAT—somewhere in there.

You have to admire the alliteration in 14A: Biblical figure believed to be buried near Basra (EZRA), if nothing else. I always thought of JOSHUA TREE as a place (in CA), not an actual tree, so that clue / answer surprised me a bit (15A: Yucca named by Mormon settlers). I'd complain about there being nothing to signal the abbrev. in MT. IDA, but a. I've been told that, arbitrarily, one doesn't really have to signal it in "hard" puzzles (?), and b. I knew instantly that it was MT. something (20A: Cretan peak). OSSA was too long, so ... IDA. SSNS is bad fill, but [Phishing string: Abbr.] is about as good a clue as that answer's ever gonna get. Steinbeck's twins? Ugh, I don't even remember what this is from. East of Eden? Yup. Caleb (CAL) and Aaron. OK. Probably should remember that. Thought the "That '70s Show" answer was OWEN WILSON at first (it's been a while since I saw that show) (and it's LUKE WILSON) (57A: He played Casey Kelso on "That '70s Show"). Needed 3 of 4 crosses to get [Linchpin locale] (AXLE). Strangely, CRUET was the first thing I put in the grid (3D: Oil vessel). Without it, man, I'd've been lost up there. OZAWA won an Emmy? (2D: 1994 Emmy winner for "Dvorák in Prague) JESSE Reno is ... somebody? (1D: General Reno for whom Reno, Nev. is named) "SAUL" is a Handel work? (16A: Handel work featuring David) Easy with CRUET, likely impossible without it.

Good night.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Mike in DC 12:16 AM  

    Hand up for gynS and marioS. Also, thought I'd never get the southeast, probably because I had CLasp for CLEAT. ZETA is just far enough into the Greek alphabet that I didn't know its position.

    I agree with Rex on OATMEAL CEREAL. It was hard to believe that was correct.

    This was a tough puzzle, but I found it more enjoyable than Rex did.

    FearlessKim 12:27 AM  

    Solving experience very similar to @Rex's, with very little headway until SEN, IMO, PDT, ORA gave me a toehold in the South. Even then, I had absolutely nothing anywhere else, and, like @Rex, starting throwing stuff in just to see if something would stick. Like the old frat house business of tossing spaghetti at the ceiling to test for doneness, and about as appealing. Yes, it got the job done, but I don't feel good about myself now that it's done. Not even with one of @chefbea's good ragus...

    Ditto on ACCOUTERING, although I'd have accepted accoutrement in a heartbeat. Had peak before HEAP, Santa before DONEE, roof before LIEN.

    Well, enough with the kvetching. I liked JOSHUATREE a lot, although there was no way I was getting it from the clue, and the misdirection on MAJORLEAGUEGAME (I kept trying to cram in CommonwealthGame, with surprisingly little success...). Liked the cluing on APRIL FOOL.

    Anonymous 12:32 AM  

    There is no such thing as a TENHORSEPOWER outboard motor. There are boatloads, so to speak, of 9.9 HORSEPOWER outboard motors. See, many places restrict motor size to less than TENHORSEPOWER, hence the 9.9 being an industry standard.

    Evan 12:40 AM  

    So, so many write-overs:

    * PROV, then PROF, before JOCK. You'd think there would have been an abbreviation given the clue, but like Rex said above, maybe that rule just didn't apply for a Friday puzzle.

    * DISCO BALL before DISPOSALS. You know, because the DISCO BALL is what helps you, uh, grind on the dance floor? Every day? Surely that has to go on @Tita's Hall of Shame list.

    * GREAT DEAL before SWEET DEAL. More on that in a bit.

    * -------AIRLINES before STARS AND STRIPES.

    * SANTA before DONEE. Thought I was so brilliant, yes I did.

    * ALIEN before ORKAN.

    And despite all of that, I still triumphed.

    The northwest was the last section to fall for me. It wasn't CRUET which saved me up there, but OZAWA. That's because I could not, would not, let go of GREAT DEAL. I figured that because it was such a closed-off portion of the grid that there must have been some Scrabbly letters up there. When I finally let 21-Across be EAT, that's when OZAWA jumped out at me. If I hadn't seen that, I almost certainly would have had to cheat to finish.

    I take Rex's point about the quad stack producing some less-than-ideal entries -- ORATORIO SOCIETY and OATMEAL CEREAL were pretty baffling, TEN HORSEPOWER feels a little arbitrary to those of us with no experience with outboard motors, and ACCOUTERING certainly won't win any awards for Best Crossword Entry. But I'm glad that the stack mostly kept the short dreck out, and I thought some of the clues were great -- my favorites were the ones for MOMS, TALCS, BOLTS, and GENE. Plus, I think it's kinda cool how there are four notable figures with their full names included -- MARSHALL MCLUHAN, LUKE WILSON, RENE RUSSO, and JUDY GARLAND. As long as you need proper nouns, it's way better to give their full names rather than just one of them, IMO.


    Old Guy 12:43 AM  

    NBC used to broadcast Live at the Apollo Saturday night following SNL back in the '80s at a particularly low nadir of SNL. I was always amazed how the amateurs on LatP could consistently be so much funnier than SNL. I finally figured it out: the brothers performing on LatP could make fun of Bill Cosby. When all else failed in their routine, they could just make fun of the Coz.

    jae 12:44 AM  

    Very tough for me too. Span for LOAD and SWEETener for DEAL made things slow. Plus, I had a technical DNF. My bride gave me ZETA (Me: "What's the sixth letter of the Greek alphabet?" She: "Got any letters." Me: "Yeah, it ends in TA." She: "Try ZETA.") which helped me finish the SE. I had ioTA, but Flip for FAZE and paST for ERST just weren't working.

    Possible problem: eDA for IDA. I guessed right.

    I also like it more than Rex, but it did seem a tad sloggy and light on zip.

    Robert Rothschild 12:45 AM  

    After a big tall vodka/soda... wasn't that difficult... first word CRUET then JOCK and KALE... stuck... took a nice big swig... Sweetener.. no... EYE made it JUDY GARLAND (only one I remember from the movie)and SWEET DEAL. I'll have to drink more... and more often...........

    Anonymous 12:47 AM  

    FYI Honda makes a 4-stroke 10hp motor, A fact I learned after a couple of seconds Googling. Also, Heinz makes an Oatmeal Cereal: it's the third Google image that pops up.


    retired_chemist 12:57 AM  

    Tough. I eventually got it without Googling but it was a slog. Actually 23 minutes would have been way out of my reach for this puzzle a year or two ago, so I suppose I am improving.

    I get Rex's point about quad stacks. Google finds a lot of groups calling themselves an ORATORIO SOCIETY, but it still sounds like it is not in the language.

    LUKE WILSON is just a name - I have no idea who he is. ACCOUTERING is, well, just ugly.

    Had DOCS for 29D and PEAK for 35D for far too long, which made the quad stack more of a challenge. Had SOCIETY and GAME as partials, which with CAL (27A) gave me LUIGI'S (also a WTF for me). 15D was RUDY (someone) until late.

    Several sections were total blanks until one or two answers got me started: CRUET in the NW, ZETA in the SE, ORKAN and ILLER in the SW.

    A solid if tough Friday. Thanks, Martin.

    sanfranman59 12:59 AM  

    An ORATORIO SOCIETY might very well perform Handel's SAUL. It may just be because I sing in the San Francisco Choral Society, but ORATORIO SOCIETY is very familiar to me. There's probably one in just about every major city in the U.S. I know it's a faulty metric, but Google returns over a million hits for that phrase.

    Anon 12:32 1:04 AM  

    Andy - You mean this 4 cylinder THEHORSEPOWER motor from Honda? The one that's a 9.9 horsepower motor?

    Garth 1:26 AM  

    Each style of construction can have its joys. While one might not expect the same level of sparkling fill with quad-stacks, it's fun to look at the constructor's skill in creating a puzzle with so many long woven crossings. Experiencing and appreciating a work of art on as many levels as possible can yield more understanding of its value. Most crossword puzzles are joyous things.

    Anoa Bob 1:37 AM  

    I thought this was a fine puzzle, with a lot of cheekiness, even if I DNFed in the SE.

    Two of my favs, ones that have already raised Rex's and some commenters' hackles, are ORATORIO SOCIETY and ACCOUTERING. Okay, maybe only a word nerd could love those. Then there's APRIL FOOL, EVANESCING, and JOSHUA TREE to boot? That's some good stuff, people.

    SE did me in. Had Flip at 56D, iota for 61A and paST at 63A. BOLTS and CLEATS at 50D & 51D fit perfectly with those. Couldn't make the stretch from "Lord of the ring?" to BOXER [hisss, booo] and, even though I'm a life-long gear head, never heard of "Linchpin locale" being in an AXLE.

    FWIW, FYI, IMO, I thought this was one of MAS's better big stack puzzles.

    chefwen 3:00 AM  

    Holy Moly, this was a tough one. Probably would have thrown in the towel if it were not for the husband "let's dig in our heels and get this thing done". He didn't help by throwing down ??? membership at 40A (travel always on his mind) Had to chip away at all the short downs to get those long puppies.

    Jon had Frodo in at 49D but I knew BBC at 49A so I said it has to be Bilbo, as in Baggins. Couldn't get much farther out of the game if we tried. Chalk at 51D (his) got APRIL FOOL so changed it to CLEAT. Bilbo out BOXER in (his) BOLTS in (his) and VOILA we were done. He insisted on a high five.

    EVANESCING and ACCOUTERING were painfully uncovered.

    Mr. Ashwood-Smith - Tough but doable, thanks.

    jae 3:26 AM  

    @Anoa Bob -- Nice to know I had company.

    To continue the conversation...Me: "Doh!, how did you know that." She: "I have no idea, some things you just know." (Note to self: review Greek alphabet).

    My previous "sloggy" comment may have been sour grapes (I really hate a DNF). The four stack was impressive and had a patriotic finish. Nice what should have been a Sat. MAS.

    Axle Cal McLuhans 4:45 AM  

    I had to come back to this puzzle off and on for three hours!!! Luckily i have no life!

    Low points : UNLiTerate!!!

    Oh, and trying to make rUDYGeRners fit...nevermind that it's RUDI GERNREICH and he's a designer (monokini, anyone?) not an actor. I didn't know anyone was in that film but Maximillian Schell!

    JOSHUATREE after trying everything from rOSeofzion to JOSephwood...

    APRILFOOL will be even cooler in syndication whwn it will be more time appropriate.

    I'm gonna guess way too many proper names for some folks...JESSE REno, OZAWA, JUDYGARLAND, RENERUSSO, LUKEWILSON, MARSHALLMCLUHAN, CAL., NYES, ASTORS, LUIGI, ARRIS.

    So half crossword, half trivia contest. I didn't mind that, esp since they were actors not sports figures...

    Greek alphabet lesson... First five letters correspond to ABCDE (ALPHA, BETA, GAMMA, DELTA, EPSILON)
    Then think ZIT: ZETA, ETA, THETA.
    (instead of FGH)
    Then resume I (no J) KLMN
    Freaky KSI
    Then back to OP (no Q) RSTU
    V, No W, X, Y, Z
    PHI, XI, PSI (looks like Y as a trident) and OMEGA as last letter...
    Anyone can learn the Greek alphabet in five minutes!!!

    Acme 5:06 AM  

    Oops, of course the first O is Omicron, the LAST one is OMEGA.
    (when it's at the END of the word like in thankyou/ evcharistO! It's an OMEGA not an Omicron)

    Only 24 letters and almost 20 of them correspond to our alphabet! kalli nyckta!

    The Bard 6:40 AM  

    Hamlet , Act III, scene IV

    QUEEN GERTRUDE: What wilt thou do? thou wilt not murder me?
    Help, help, ho!

    LORD POLONIUS: [Behind] What, ho! help, help, help!

    HAMLET: [Drawing] How now! a rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!

    [Makes a pass through the arras]

    LORD POLONIUS: [Behind] O, I am slain!

    [Falls and dies]

    Gill I. P. 7:17 AM  

    Yes, a toughie to be sure but I really liked it.
    Like @sanfranman59, ORATORIO SOCIETY was quite familiar to me. My brother was the director of the Mannes Camerata and many of his students were members of the NY Society. They play their concerts at Carnegie Hall. If you ever get the chance, go listen to Handel's "Messiah."
    Like @Rex, my first entry was CRUET and then the lovely JOSHUA TREE. And then I just stared for hours and hours....Finally got JUDY GARLAND but the rest of the proper names didn't mean nada to me.
    I've never heard of MARSHALL MCCLUHAN so he was a google. A Canadian with some interesting quotes...Isn't today's author half Canadian? Any way I found this quote from him which I liked. "Canada is the only country in the world that knows how to live without an identity."
    ACCOUTERING is just awesome and I'd throw in EVANESCING to boot.
    Thanks Martin...

    MetaRex 7:28 AM  

    I liked this puzzle a lot until I didn't. The quad-stack 15s were nice...helped that I remembered MARSHALL MCLUHAN though not how to spell his name...approve of the cross-referenced SAUL as a way to make ORATORIO SOCIETY a bit less green-paintish...like v. much the ultra-familiar, NSFWill STARS AND STRIPES fitting into the stack w/ a cute clue.

    But for me everything fell apart completely on EVANESCING/ACCOUTERING. Getting rid of the prettier answer EVANESECENT (prettier because it lacks the ugly ING duplication of the clue and answer for EVANESCING) took forever.

    To focus the MetaRexian beef: I wouldn't have a "Grrr..." feeling if PHIS had had a "Greek letters" clue or a simple variant on it...in that case, there's a clear signal to go w/ EVANESCING not EVANESCENT and I'd have a "My bad!" feeling about my bad end today rather than the grumpiness I actually feel.

    More praise and griping at Evanescing with a Grrr...

    loren muse smith 7:38 AM  

    Finally! A hard one that others agree is hard! My progress was really similar to @Rex’ – those 15’s just wouldn’t reveal themselves, though I got STARS AND STRIPES early on.

    My first four entries were JOCK, CRUET, RENE RUSSO, and ORONO (on this last one, I’ll quote @Andrea: “Luckily i have no life!”)

    @Acme – my low moments were” rolled” OATMEAL, misspelling “barristas” for DISPOSALS (like @Evan, feeling so brilliant with *that* one!) and, ridiculously, trying to make Thugz Mansion fit off that G. Thuggz maybe?

    @Evan – your disco balls answer is definitely one for the Hall of Fame!

    @sanfranman59 – I actually thought of you with ORATORIO SOCIETY after I gave up on some nonets, octets angle off the ET.

    I didn’t catch on to the ambiguous ACCOUTERING clue until way, way late.

    A HEAP of erasures:

    Clamp – CLEAT
    Illiterate – UNLETTERED
    End – EYE
    Stay – STET
    Gyns – MOMS
    Tiles – TALCS
    Wind – LOAD (sheesh)
    Brown Cow – A RAT ;-)

    I’m familiar with JOSHUA TREE only from The Glass Castle.

    @Garth – you speaka my language. Couldn’t have said it better myself. There’s a big part of my brain that is fascinated that so many words/phrases, regardless of their possible non-sparkly nature, can intersect with so few black squares.

    Leave it to Martin to give us a J, Z, and K before we can even get ourselves all accoutered.

    I, too, had a dnf and somehow feel vaguely Cretanish now.

    Nancy in PA 7:47 AM  

    Now that I'm timing myself (on paper) in preparation for ACPT, I usually come in about Rex x 2 (early-week) or Rex plus 15 (late week) so I was very happy to finish this in 20 minutes. Marshall McLuhan is more famous for "The medium is the message" (IMO) but I have fond memories of Henry Gibson on Laugh-In saying, "Marshall McLuhan, what're you doin'?"

    webwinger 8:16 AM  

    Ugh! Felt I was off to a promising start on this one with several correct fills in the NW (though I had CRUse for the oil vessel—thinking of Hanukkah legend—why not after the mini Christmas theme on Tuesday?) MARSHALLMCLUHAN a gimme. Then crossed confidently with OATMEALCookie, which helped keep me in the dark about the other 3 long stacked answers. Google city for much of the grid. I usually like “?” clues, but agree with @Rex too many here, and most of them seemed somehow “off”—with the exception of TALCS (though even that would have been better without the S). Guess I can take some comfort in finishing under an hour for a Rex-rated challenging Friday.

    Smitty 8:18 AM  

    @Anon 12:32 I was also thinking 9 horse is more common.
    @Rex so glad you rated this challenging.
    Aside from GENE and TALC, not much joy for me.

    Why is RAJA Dehli Cheese?
    I started to go with GHEE but that's butter, right?

    Glimmerglass 8:32 AM  

    Definitely Saturday hard for me. If this is Friday, what will tomorrow be like? I can't wait. Today was a DNF for me. I struggled, but managed (eventually) everywhere but the SE. Got APRIL FOOL, BBC, BOLTS and CLEAT, but I had Flip for FAZE and ioTA for ZETA, never had a real word for AXEL. Tip of the hat to Martin. You beat me fair and square.

    jackj 8:50 AM  

    “The King of the Triple Stack 15’s”, aka Martin Ashwood-Smith, bumps things up a notch to quad stack 15’s and without the usual three letter clues of triple stacks we have a delightful gnarlier challenge.

    Things flowed easily at the upper left as OZAWA, CRUET and EAT were gimmes and begat the rest of the corner including SWEETDEAL but then it was necessary to go shopping around the grid for a few “knowns”.

    TALCS, ASTORS, ORONO, “Mrs. ‘ARRIS Goes to Paris”(wonderful!), RAJA, STET, et al gave enough footholds to reveal some of the lengthy answers with MARSHALLMCLUHAN and STARSANDSTRIPES being favorites and TENHORSEPOWER and OATMEALCEREAL being disappointing rather inelegant bits of fill.

    Martin sprinkled cleverness throughout the grid with the likes of JOSHUATREE (who knew the Mormons vacationed in Palm Springs), those ultimate “Delivery people?” being MOMS and ERST which, for once was not clued as “Once, once”.

    Others that were standouts included the hermit crab’s “Beach house”, his SHELL, APRILFOOL as the hapless naïf and best of puzzle, ‘They get nuts” for BOLTS.

    In the category of “did you have to include it”, we have the entry that I suspect Martin most fancies, ACCOUTERING but, since it also brought us the distasteful LAE, for my money it could just as well be party to an EVANESCING act that would also cleanse the grid of ISU.

    Martin’s puzzles are almost always a pleasure but by toughening things up for today’s construction he elevated his game to a welcome new level!

    Z 8:51 AM  

    Too much trivia, too much of it trivial. EZRA, SAUL, LAE, MARSHALL MCLUHAN, BBC, LUKE WILSON, RENE RUSSO, JESSE Reno, OZAWA, 'ARRIS, LEEDS, JUDY GARLAND, ASTORS, ORONO, Mork is ORKAN. Maybe if I had put this down and come back to it later I could have gotten closer, but I have a long day ahead and just looking at 14A (esau? enos? noah? How many 4 letter biblical names are there? And why would Oprah be doing a special on Dvorák in '94?) told me this was going to be a DNF.

    Nothing as good as DICcoball here. UNeducatED, pEAk, moDel before SEDAN, GYNecologistS, IciER before ILLER, Bet before BBC.

    I've got no problem with OATMEAL CEREAL, or cookies, or anything else made with oatmeal. Not much love here, though, for the dual WTFs of ACCOUTERING and EVANESCING. ACCOUTERING sounds like a made up school yard word ("I'm ACCOUTERING you." "I don't want your cooties."). EVANESCING - well maybe @Evan doesn't want to talk about his love life.

    NoBS 8:53 AM  

    Cheese in the sense of big shot.

    joho 8:55 AM  

    @Smitty, think of Cheese as a big shot.

    I struggled with this one and almost made it through. Unfortunately I had written in EVANESCent and never changed it to ING so ended up with the nonsensical ACCOUTERINt. Stupid!

    I do love a challenge, though, and Martin Ashwood-Smith, beat me up today. That's a good thing. Yikes, I wonder what is in store for us tomorrow?!

    Carola 8:57 AM  

    Thought it was SWEET! Also started with CRUET and KALE (grateful for the recent moola discussion), and, very unusually for a Friday, went square by square from top to bottom. One write-over: SWEETener.

    Liked the STARS AND STRIPES flying at the MAJOR LEAGUE GAME, the Biblical EZRA and JOSHUA sharing a line, SHELL by ISLA, IMO in MSGS. Wondered if a JOCK, post-shower, TALCS before ACCOUTERING.

    FearlessKim 9:09 AM  

    @Evan -- Disco Ball! -- hah!!
    @Acme -- thanks for the Greek alphabet review! I never studied Greek, but got my fix in high school math class. The best part of homework was drawing all those beautiful letters :)

    ec nc 9:39 AM  

    Liked my DECLUTCHING much better for "getting in gear" but it sure slowed me down.

    Have given up commenting as it takes way too long to keep trying all those really unreadable "captchas"

    Lindsay 10:04 AM  

    Being in Maine, I started with ORONO. When the easiest corner turns out to have 2 proper names I've never heard of (LUKE WILSON, RENE RUSSO), not a good sign. But! I persevered.

    Writeovers at 17A UNschoolED >>> UNLETTERED and 38A, which I originally thought was something-or-other-CraTs. My political junkie brain led me astray there.

    I used to have a dog named EZRA. From the pound, of course.

    Tobias Duncan 10:08 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Tobias Duncan 10:09 AM  

    DNEFCCTF. This puzzle kicked my ass up and down the street. A Friday DNF is still not at all uncommon for me but this was just ridiculous. Knew almost none of the names.
    Even the overnight trick did not help.

    retired_chemist 10:15 AM  

    @ ec nc - you can click on the little circle/arrow thingy to the right of the captcha box to get a new, hopefully more readable, one. I often need to do that. And please do use 42 instead of trying to read those numbers in the photograph. They don't matter.

    Notsofast 10:16 AM  

    An awkward, bumbling mess of a puzzle that just kicked my ass. ACCOUTERING???? Please. Naticked with Gallico novel and phishing string. Also Italian word for "now". A crude, ugly failure, IMO. F

    Anonymous 10:28 AM  

    46A PDT - Who knew that Daylight Savings time was more than half the year? I didn't.

    B Donohue 11:01 AM  

    Seemed Saturday level to me. Besides inroads mostly in the NW and SW, this was way out of reach. Maybe next year!

    JFC 11:08 AM  

    Every once in a blue moon I come here to find Rex confirming my own reservations and he came through with flying colors today, even explaining why. I like the word ridiculous....


    DJG 11:13 AM  


    The other "East of Eden" twin is Aron, with one 'A'. This might come in handy if a constructor decides not to go with "Elvis' middle name".

    Decent puzzle.

    Sandy K 11:13 AM  

    This was very challenging. But I liked it- because I was able to finish it! SWEET!

    Reading @Evan's solving experience- was much like mine eg. great DEAL before SWEET DEAL, alien before ORKAN, finishing in the NW, but nothing as funny as DISCO BALL!!

    Loved getting the tricky cluing- and almost all were pretty tricky! Liked APRIL FOOL, STARS AND STRIPES, LARGO, BOXER, RAJA.

    Glad that I remembered JUDY GARLAND won, RENE didn't have 2 EES at the end, and how to spell MARSHALL MCLUHAN! All the rest were luck guesses.

    Susan McConnell 11:16 AM  

    Ack. I'm usually intrigued and impressed by the quad stacks, but this one didn't do it for me....not if I have to go through ACCOUTERING, OATMEALCEREAL and MOMS to get there. Blech.

    Sandy K 11:17 AM  

    Make that 'lucky' guesses.

    quilter1 11:30 AM  

    ACCOUTERING beat me and DNF. That form of that word would never have entered my English major's mind, admittedly an open mind, but, really? Oh, well.

    Michael Hanko 11:30 AM  

    I've heard of "big cheese" referring to someone higher up in an organization, usually in a business context, but never just "cheese" to mean a person of high status. Could someone explain how and when that is used?

    jberg 11:34 AM  

    I finished with an error - didn't think of ZETA, so figured sETA must be 'sixth' in some Romance language or other, and FAsE a variant spelling. I did like the puzzle, all the same, just because it was so hard.

    I knew Mr. MCLUHAN right off, but not that he has two Ls in his first name - but eventually too many of the corsses worked, and there was no other good way to stretch him. Once I had that, the other 15s fell into place fairly quickly. (Here in Boston, our ORATORIO SOCIETY is actually called "Handel & Haydn," and either they or someone else local has performed SAUL in the last few years, so that was easy). But I was stuck in the SW for hours -- with utter FOOL, then totaL FOOL before APRIL, EVANESCeNt before -SCING, and aSU before ISU (didn't know those Cyclones); to my shame as a New Englander, I even thought those black bears were at u teNn. All that led me to think ol' LUKE might be a WaLtON - but somehow that got sorted out. Sad and ironic to fail in the non-problematic SE, instead.

    Bob Kerfuffle 11:44 AM  

    I like a challenge, and this was it. Happy to say I recognized every answer once I had it in place -- but how could I even now not remember Judy Garland in Judgment at Nuremberg?

    Bunch (= 7) of written-over letters, only one worth mentioning is that, working from bottom up in that area, had 9 D as ______OATMEAL, until the EAL string got duplicated at the beginning and it became OATMEALCEREAL, admittedly a bit of a strange phrase.

    Bob Kerfuffle 11:47 AM  

    P.S. - No mention of 43 D, "Cooler, in the 'hood" = ILLER. Does this mean that Will Shortz has made peace with Current Slang?

    Anonymous 11:51 AM  

    @Anomymous 10:28--Don't get me started on DST! It's way more than half the year, almost 8 months, but what's worse is the asymmetry, ending more than 6 weeks past the equinox in the fall, but beginning less than 2 weeks prior in the spring. That really messes with my biological clock. To delay twilight on Halloween we have to live with winter-like dawns all through October...

    Cheerio 11:58 AM  

    I loved this! I have a list of "favorite constructors." It's a newish list, so most people are on it because I liked one puzzle. Martin Ashwood-Smith is one such, and this puzzle confirms that he will stay on the list.

    I thought the puzzle was going to be rated easy to medium. The Cruet corner was the hardest for me to finish. Oratorio Society went in nearly first, along with Rene Russo. I associate Oratorio Societies with Handel, becuase usually the main reason they exist is to perform the Messiah once a year. So, I deduced it from the clue for Saul, even though I had to get Saul with some crosses.

    Evenescing was tough as was accoutering, but I enjoyed the struggle to pull them out. I loved the clue for Joshua Tree, because I only know about them from the Joshua Tree park in Southern Cal., but it makes sense that a tree named Joshua would have been named that by Mormons.

    orangeblossomspecial 12:10 PM  

    Thanks to Marshall McLuhan, the center stack was the first to go. The corners were more difficult.

    An early hit for Frank Sinatra with Tommy Dorsey was 36D 'Oh look AT ME now'.

    Who wouldn't be inspired by 40A 'STARS AND STRIPES forever'?

    A different take on 52A: 'LARGO al factotum' featuring Lawrence Tibbett.

    ileen 12:23 PM  

    I was hesitant to do this since I don't post here much, but Barbara said I should, so here goes. I'm a contestant on this week's episode of NPR's Ask Me Another. You can listen online here if you want - it's a fun show.

    mac 12:48 PM  

    Tough! Super challenging for me. Finally googled the Marshall, something I never do....

    Really liked some of the clues, but it got a little cute here and there.

    Heel and toe 12:52 PM  

    @nc ec -

    Like the way you're thinking on the clutch. My understanding, though, is that declutching means taking the vehicle out of gear, as when shifting. A double declutch, say, to match revs on the shift.

    syndy 12:55 PM  

    Well yes @ MICHAEL HANKO, If one is using it as a way of obfuscating it's meaning in order to heighten the difficulty of ones CWP.CHEESE has so many possible meanings it can be used for almost any situation!-Am I blue? Am I bitter? DNF_HTG! Top was easybut MARSHALL MCLUHAN semi familiar but not for what-LUKE WILSON-ditto!I guess I just had afew too few entries! next time Martin!

    Dept. of Redundancy Dept. 12:57 PM  

    OATMEALCEREAL is a horrid answer. In this case, MEAL and CEREAL mean exactly the same thing, the edible grain of the oat plant.

    retired_chemist 1:22 PM  

    dictionary says cheese is "important person," second meaning. Also of course big cheese. Who knew?

    Anonymous 1:29 PM  

    "OATMEALCEREAL is a horrid answer"

    Tell that to Heinz... it's even a registered brand name. I see this, and similar labelled products up here in Canada in my local supermarkets all the time. This is why I had no qualms about using it in today's puzzle.



    -Martin Ashwood-Smith

    Ellen S 1:39 PM  

    Oh, okay, MAS, it's baby food, in which case the "meal" and "cereal" probably are not so much redundant as indicating it is completely lumpless. Anyway, I got that answer and wasn't bothered by it as much as some others here. Plus, I see Honda advertising pages of "TEN HORSEPOWER" outboards, in addition to 9.9s.

    My real contribution today is 50D. I put in cOLTS for "They get nuts", figuring they grow up to be stallions, and then, um ...

    ...and then I was greatly relieved to see that BBC allowed me to change it to BOLTS.

    Anonymous 1:51 PM  

    "Seems awfully breezy in here...."

    Masked and Anonymo7Us 1:57 PM  

    Not fer beginners. Altho, did kinda have a nice little "wading pool" area, to start one's swim out in the NW corner. After flailing like a drowning rat in the wading area, gave the puz to the PuzEatingSpouse, so that the ship could leave port. 1-Across=HUNK turned out to be what was draggin' me down down down. snort.

    Congrats to all who could whip this monster into shape. PuzSpouse did let me do the SE wading pool area, on my own. Didn't want me left scared to get back in the water alone. ZETA! No sweat: Greek letter between Katherine and Jones.

    Bird 2:14 PM  

    Agree with Rex that this was offered on the wrong day as it played like a Saturday. First time through yielded only 8 answers, which were no help at all. The internet was not much help either. Today would have been a good day to use a pencil and eraser.

    Even if I completed it, I probably would’ve hated it. That whole 4-stack in the middle of the grid should have either been redone with different answers (29A & 38A) or clues (39A & 40A).

    Then there’s TALCS and ACCOUTERING.

    I thought B.M.O.C. meant the answer was going to be an abbreviation of some sort. JOCK is not an abbreviation (well, maybe for jockey).

    The BBC airs “Live at the Apollo”?! I thought it was either FOX (which gave me X-TAPE, as on a bat, for 51D) or BET.

    I think that’s enough.


    Sandy K 2:50 PM  

    @Bob Kerfuffle
    I rewatched Judy Garland's gut-wrenching performance in "Judgment at Nuremberg" on YouTube. (Sorry, don't know how to embed.)

    There is also a video of Rock Hudson presenting the Best Supporting Actress Oscar- Judy Garland did not win. Rita Moreno won for West Side Story. Other nominees are good x-word material- Lotte Lenya, Fay Bainter, and Una Merkel.

    bctbct 2:51 PM  

    we classical musicians know lots of oratorio societies - it's not at all uncommon. Glad to find one for us. I never know the ones about rap "artists" (and that's using the term artist VERY loosely, as far as I'm concerned!)

    Evan 3:10 PM  


    Speak for yourself. I played classical piano for more than 15 years, I've sung in classical choirs for six years now, and I've never heard of an ORATORIO SOCIETY.

    As for your comment about rap -- I get that you might not like it, that you might think it's not as good of a genre as classical music. Far be it from me to quibble with one's personal taste in music. But who are you to say that rap isn't art, or that rappers aren't artists? Maybe it's not your cup of tea, but it is a cup of tea.

    chefwen 3:34 PM  

    @Tita - There is a gem waiting for you and The Hall of Fame at Ellen S. comment 1:39. Ellen, still chuckling.

    Milford 3:42 PM  

    DNF for many reasons, mainly the SE corner - I never even considered the Greek alphabet!

    @Bird - I also thought 1A hinted at an abbreviation, and had rOtc before JOCK.

    @Bob K. - I also had my OATMEAL at the end of 9D at first.

    I only know MARSHALL MCLUHAN from "Annie Hall", and I didn't have a mcluhan how to spell it.

    If Saturday is tougher than this, I'm toast!

    Tyler 3:51 PM  

    Can't tell you how relieved I was to get a toehold with ORATORIO SOCIETY. MARSHALL MCLUHAN, on the other hand, was kind of ridiculous.

    sanfranman59 4:29 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 28:43, 22:02, 1.28, 92%, Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Fri 17:14, 12:33, 1.37, 93%, Challenging

    @loren muse smith ... I'm honored that you would think of me during your solve.

    I'm psyched that I managed to complete a Friday that both Rex and the online solve times judge to be challenging. Particularly after I wasn't able to enter a single letter in the top half of the puzzle before gaining a foothold in the SW.

    The Oracle of Omaha 4:35 PM  

    @MAS - I'm well know for my business acumen, my (nearly fanatical) adherence to sound business practices. I buy undervalued businesses, and bring their market value up to par with their intrinsic worth. I've made hundreds of billions of dollars for my self and my clients.

    The one time I've deviated from this practice is just now, as I'm in the process of buying Heinz. I really don't want to buy it, it's way to ordinary a company even for my Nebraskan tastes. I'm buing it because I've written dozens of letters, to the product managers, ad managers, the president and the CEO of Heinz, and have gotten no adequate response. Oat Meal Cereal is a ridiculous name, and Heinz continues to use it, even after all those letters. It's, as has been pointed out above, redundant. I'm spending $23B just to rename that one damned product.

    So, a valid answer, just a horrible one. One I intend to fix the 'valid' part in the very near future.

    Warren Buffet

    Wikipedia 5:10 PM  

    Oatmeal, also known as white oats is ground oat groats (i.e. oat-meal, cf. cornmeal, peasemeal, etc.), or a porridge made from oats (also called oatmeal cereal or stirabout, in Ireland). Oatmeal can also be ground oat, steel-cut oats, crushed oats, rolled oats, or porridge.

    Tita 5:26 PM  

    72 comments already on a challenging Friday?

    I haven't given up yet, but will surely start googling soon.

    Came here now just to post these two videos...
    Loren's post a few days ago reminded me of these I had seen a while ago.
    Sorry I don't have time to deal with Blogger's miserable excuse for an interface that doesn't understand links.
    Trust me - these are really worth copying/pasting...

    Breakfast with Ginger – Silence is Golden

    Cooking with Ginger – golden retriever bakes a cake

    Anonymous 6:17 PM  

    @Evan for crying out loud. Chill man and try to get a life. It's only an opinion.

    Evan 7:18 PM  

    @Anonymous 6:17:

    You telling me to chill out, then telling me to get a life in the same sentence, is one of the funniest comments I've ever read.

    Vive la difference 8:42 PM  

    Just to add a little foodmeal for thought...

    The Heinz product is called Oatmeal Cereal and lists the french name Cereales d'avoine

    avoine is oat which makes the product cereal of oats

    flocons d'avoine is oatmeal


    Elle54 9:10 PM  

    I had to give up. Never heard of McLuhan , don't know Ozawa, Nuremberg movie, Jesse Reno. It just wouldn't come together for me. Hand up for thinking oatmeal cereal would be redundant.

    LaneB 9:29 PM  

    Lots of googling on this one:Papuan port; Cretan peak; ; Ezra and Saul; Largo key; Luigis; Joshua tree. The thing still took forever but ground it out for several hours.
    Had IdLER for ILLER and thus missed the easy LARGO. and somehow had APRILtOOL for APRILFOOL.
    Apparently not thinking too clearly today but glad that Rex had some problems also. I can't see how so many of you do ones like this without at least some googling. But I'm sure you do. I'd just like to put my hand in the wound.

    Tita 9:33 PM  

    I got way to beaten up by this to formulate my own opinion. What @Rex said.

    SW got filled in, in spite of lilac for MAUVE, the popular alien for ORKAN.

    @Evan - I shall duly post your latest alternate answer...but note - it is NOT a hall of shame...it's a hall of fame. These alternate answers show some real creativity, albeit sometimes twisted.
    @chefbea - you betcha - I already have Ellen S's copied/pasted into my clipboard!

    @Anon @10:28 - I did...the clock on my Mini is so annoyingly stupid to change, that I simply leave it on standard time all year long. Most of the year it's fine, and the rest of the year, if I forget to recalculate in my head, at least I'm an hour early for everything.

    Shall update the Hall of Fame shortly...
    Just check my Crucimetrics blog under my profile.

    sanfranman59 10:02 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 5:46, 6:07, 0.94, 22%, Easy-Medium
    Tue 7:45, 8:23, 0.92, 24%, Easy-Medium
    Wed 12:23, 11:52, 1.04, 62%, Medium-Challenging
    Thu 18:04, 17:02, 1.06, 64%, Medium-Challenging
    Fri 28:30, 22:02, 1.29, 92%, Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:35, 3:39, 0.98, 33%, Easy-Medium
    Tue 4:37, 4:52, 0.95, 29%, Easy-Medium
    Wed 7:28, 6:34, 1.14, 84%, Challenging
    Thu 9:55, 9:55, 1.00, 48%, Medium
    Fri 16:56, 12:33, 1.35, 92%, Challenging

    OISK 10:54 PM  

    Brutal. I did finish, only to discover an error, having never heard of Mrs. Arris, I had Arrim and MSN instead of SSN for "Phishing string," which I think is an awful clue. Don't know who Luke Wilson is, never watched "Live at the Apollo, but I did know "Saul." And I also think that it is a fair clue, even if one has never heard of Handel - Saul is David's father, so a four letter biblical figure, even without the music - leads to Saul. ( I also had Luce Wilson and Orcan, but that was just stupid of me). Despite my difficulty, a good, tough, meaty puzzle.

    Bird 11:29 PM  

    @Evan - I'm with you. I may not like all rap or classical music or all the artists, but some of that shit is pretty damn good. If you don't like either, good for you. But to describe a certain genre as not art is simply being ignorant.

    @Milford - I couldn't even come up with ROTC. I must go see a doctor about the holes in my brain.

    OISK 11:38 PM  

    @Evan and Bird = The comment said that it isn't art "as far as I am concerned." Rap isn't art as far as I am concerned either. There is nothing "ignorant" about that opinion. I have written riddle books for children. I would not call my work "art." And if you wrote that "My children like it, but it is not art," I would not call you ignorant. What is or is not art is very much a matter of opinion. I respect both of yours, but I also respect (and agree with ) bctbct.

    acme 12:04 AM  

    we go thru this every time rap comes up...
    it always causes bad feelings...
    Since none of us are exactly Tolstoy or someone else who has spent a lifetime considering the big question "what is Art?" how about we suspend sniping.
    Some consider constructing crosswords art (I'd say yes, look at that quad stack! Look at the grid layout of tomorrow'sgrid by Todd Gross!)... others not so sure.
    Usually we can't self-declare ourselves artists...but everyone will admit, the more you know about something and the deeper the levels you immerse yourself in it, the more chance you will consider nuances and talent and confer the status of art on it.

    So on that level, rap is art, it's not "just" a matter of personal taste...
    but let's not start bashing each other!

    OISK 12:20 AM  

    @acme. I disagree with you. Not only about what "art" is, but about what "bashing" is. However, I enjoyed reading your opinion. Well thought out, well written, but different from my own.

    Acme 2:48 AM  

    Synchronicity! Letterman just announced LUKE WILSON is on!
    Wonder if he knows/will mention he was in the NY Times puzzle today!

    Acme 3:14 AM  


    Smitty 9:34 AM  

    Thank you everyone who replied with my Dehli Cheese question...
    I thought a cheese had to be big in order to be a "shot"
    but thanks - I get it now...

    Spacecraft 12:08 PM  

    DNF. Just too damn much I simply didn't know--nor would, I'm guessing, a great many others. "1994 Emmy winner for 'Dvorak in Prague'?" Why, sure. That's a gimme. For four or five hundred diehard classical music fans. For the other 6.99 billion of us? Not. An actor on a not-very-good sitcom? LUKEWILSON. Never heard of him (that may be a lot more widely known, I'm guessing--just not to me).

    Entry problems: OATMEALCEREAL? Green paint. RENERUSSO: I was "sure" her name was spelled "Renee." Guess not, but that was another block for me. Even so, since neither Costner, Marin or Johnson would fit, I did wind up putting her in. (I would make room for this lady no matter HOW she spelled her name!) And ACCOUTERING is just ridiculous; I don't care if it's a real word or not. It's no word that would ever be used in MY world.

    Clue problems: (among MANY) the quotes around "Mrs." in the Gallico title. Yeah, I figured I knew the book, but the quotes made me think that the entry referred specifically to Mrs. and not to her name. I tried to remember if the title was "Missus 'Arris..." or some such. Quotemarks do NOT belong around Mrs. in that clue. It just threw me way off.

    And the SE corner. "Sixth in a series?" The Greek alphabet? Right. This puzzle was just a seven-foot swimming pool for me--and I'm only 6'2".

    Captcha is headhaz. For sure.

    Patience Please 12:42 PM  

    What are "pros in power" = ees? I didn't see that anyone else had a question about it, but I don't get that reference.

    Bob Kerfuffle 1:29 PM  

    Electrical Engineers

    Dirigonzo 6:06 PM  

    Easy: The Black Bears are the official mascot of the University of Maine at ORONO, my alma mater.

    Lucky: MARSHALLMCLUHAN was lurking somewhere in the depths of my brain and emerged with only a few crosses - I have no idea how this happened.

    Challenging: Everything else. I finally managed to piece all of the long fill together but still finished with an error - I had FAkE for "Throw for a loop" which produced the nonsensical kETA, but by then I was beyond caring enough, I was just glad to get rid of ioTA which I had in there for too long.

    Happy weekend - don't let anyone APRILFOOL you on Monday!

    rain forest 6:49 PM  

    I find this very odd. I started with JOCK and KALE and swished the NW. In the SW I put in ISLA, PUT, OAT, and STET, and JOSHUA TREE jumped out at me, giving me JUDY GARLAND, and the MEAL of OATMEAL. MARSHALL MCLUHAN was a gimme (Canadian, eh), and I pretty well swept through the rest, although ACCOUTERING and the SOCIETY part of ORATORIO SOCIETY slowed me up, but I actually finished in about half an hour, which is unheard of for me on this type of puzzle. I can't say I liked it as much as some that I have DNF'd on, but the sense of accomplishment is profound.

    Syndi Solver 4:35 PM  

    Too hard for me but I'm only batting about 50/50 on Fridays anyway. I did enjoy trying but I gave up pretty quickly.

    I thought the "Delhi cheese" clue for RAJA was way too "cheesy" even though that was one that I figured out. To answer @Smitty this clue would be okay for PANEER (more like curds than cheese) but definitely not GHEE (which is like clarified butter).

    In a bit of weird synchronicity the Hindi word for "thing" is pronounced pretty much like "cheese." :-)

    Anonymous 1:58 AM  

    Love Handel so SAUL and ORATORIOSOCIETY which I got off the TY got me going. Nice to see APRILFOOL so close to 4/1. SW very easy; SE hard - my daughter finally got me going with BOLTS. But ACCOUTERING? Wow

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