Mansard alternative / FRI 2-1-13 / Laughable Lyrics poet / Q-Tip specialty / Three-time Newhart Emmy nominee / Time-traveling 1980s film character / Ecosystem-replicating facility / Barbie greeting / Fizzy drink measure / Piece of gladiatorial combat gear

Friday, February 1, 2013

Constructor: Josh Knapp

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Tom POSTON (41D: Three-time "Newhart" Emmy nominee) —
Thomas Gordon "Tom" Poston (October 17, 1921 – April 30, 2007) was an American television and film actor. He starred on television in a career that began in 1950. He appeared as a comic actor, game show panelist, comedy/variety show host, film actor, television actor, and Broadway performer. [...] Poston was a recurring guest star on The Bob Newhart Show in the 1970s. He later played the role of Franklin Delano Bickley on Mork & Mindy. A longtime friend of Bob Newhart, Poston played George Utley, bumbling country handyman of the Stratford Inn, on Newhart and appeared with Newhart in Cold Turkey (1971) as the town drunk, Edgar Stopworth. He was nominated for an Emmy Award three times for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his performance on Newhart in 1984, 1986, and 1987. He had a third role with Newhart in the short-lived Bob. // Poston also had regular roles on many other television series: Family MattersMurphy BrownHome ImprovementCosbyMalcolm & EddieERGrace Under FireThat '70s ShowWill & Grace, and guest starred in an episode of The Simpsons as the Capital City Goofball. He also played dentist / jeweler, Art Hibke, on ABC's Coach, for which he was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 1991. (wikipedia)
• • •

Loved this one despite solving it in a groggy, post-sleep state just now (a solving state that usually increases grumpiness). Normally I solve the puzzle as soon as it comes out online, the night before its official publication date, but yesterday was my first full day of teaching this semester, and I forgot how exhausted I get. I got home around late afternoon and barely left the couch the rest of the night. At 10pm my body was like "nope, no way you're solving and blogging." And so to bed. Good choice. But back to the puzzle— lots of zing and hardly any crap. A very fun puzzle to solve. MARTY MCFLY! (29D: Time-traveling 1980s film character). I don't know if he's been in the puzzle before, but he looks fantastic in the  grid, especially crossing PLAYING HOOKY (41A: Absent without leave?) and CRAZY. McFly did the opposite of PLAYING HOOKY, which is to say he went to a high school that was *not* properly his (his parents' high school ... in the past ... where he time-traveled ... in the DeLorean ... with the flux capacitor ... at least I think he attends their high school ... I know there's a school dance ...). FRENEMY (58A: Semi-opponent) and WHAT THE!? give the grid a nice contemporary colloquial feel. There's very little in the way of blech. I mean, what ... AN OAK? Yeah, I can take that in a grid this good.

I didn't have a main area of struggle in this one, as everything seemed to fall into place fairly consistently, but there were some noteworthy sticking points that I had to work my way around. First was the [Piece of gladiatorial gear], which I should've just left and come back to, but which I got frustrated with as I stubbornly imagined a gladiator in full get-up, from head to toe, and could think of nothing three-lettered. Me: "BRA!? Is the chestpiece called a BRA?!?" No, it is not. The answer is NET. I must have seen said bit of gear in movies before, because I have a vague memory, but only very vague. I misspelled SCOW as SKOW. I think I just *wish* it were spelled that way. Thought that [What a dolorimeter measures] was sadness, then RAIN (!?). Sadness was closer (PAIN). Ridiculous miscomprehension at 16A: Comment from one who's just getting by. I had the "M" and immediately wrote the "I" in before it, imagining that the phrase started "I'M ... I'M A ..." Finally ended up with "I'M AN AGE." Me: "WHAT THE!? ... oh. I MANAGE. Yes. Better." The toughest part for me to grasp today was 32A: ID tag? (MST). I had EST, and thought "how clever!" (tag EST onto ID and you get ID EST, i.e. "i.e."). But I was *pretty* sure EELODRAMA was not a thing (though imagining a soap opera with an all-eel cast is pretty amusing) (32D: Common soap ingredient = MELODRAMA). So I wrote in MST, with No Idea how it could be right. The only thing I know MST stands for is Mountain Standard Time. And what could ID have to do with ... Eventually had a pretty great Aha Moment when I recalled ID = Idaho = state in the Mountain Time Zone (state where my mom was born, state where my grandma lives). So that clue went from Most Hated to Clue of the Day, instantly.

  • 28A: 2011 Emmy-winning MSNBC host (RACHEL MADDOW) — First thing in the grid. A gimme. The only bearable MSNBC host I know of (though my wife is allergic to her voice and has to leave the room if for whatever reason I had Maddow's show on). Actually, I think there's an Alex someone I kind of like, and then another woman ... Alex Wagner and Chris Jansing. Those two. I like them. The belligerent self-righteous dudes on that network are the ones that make me cringe / channel-change.
  • 43A: Ecosystem-replicating facility (BIODOME) — dollars to donuts this had a Pauly Shore clue to start out with.
  • 49A: Q-Tip specialty (RAP) — any opportunity I have to play music from the greatest RAP album of the '90s (sorry, DRE), I'll take:
  • 12D: Mansard alternative (GABLE) — I had this vague inkling that "Mansard" had something to do with roofs. Correct! Didn't get it straight off, but got it off the -LE.
  • 43D: Screw-up (BONER) — appropriately, I botched this. With BOTCH.
See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Evan 8:16 AM  

RACHEL MADDOW was also the first thing in the grid for me. I'd recommend checking out Chris Hayes's weekend show if you can, Rex. Really smart guy. And I too couldn't help but think of the Pauly Shore movie when I got BIODOME.

Very fun puzzle -- great clues on MELODRAMA and SACK RACES -- though I botched the ending -- FEMeRAL/POSTeN. Did not know how to spell FEMORAL (though I've heard of it), never heard of the actor. Hopefully that's not a personal Natick for many others.

Elle54 8:18 AM  

Yay! A gettable Friday! Thanks for the explanation of MST!
I think MartyMcFly was my first get and I went on from there.

loren muse smith 8:21 AM  

@Rex - Thanks again so much for doing this blog day in and day out. I can't even imagine.

UNFED finally forced me to give up what I bet thousands of others had: polar bear for ARCTIC FOX. Shame on me. This is Friday after all, and I usually don’t dive head first into a trap like that. I wait and then slide on in feet first later!

Other really, really fiendish This Has The Same Number of Letters goofs:

sec – FEW
gardens – SCHEMES
ear – RAP
statue – GROUCH
error – BONER
a rock – AN OAK

And _ _ _ _ _ _ants - SACK RACES

Puzzles beautifully designed and deftly clued like this are not a DIME A DOZEN! Bravo, Josh!

webwinger 8:21 AM  

Wrote this before @Rex woke up and solved the puzzle. Delighted to be (almost) first in line, and much in line with Fearless Leader’s take on the puzzle: A very satisfying themeless Friday. Didn’t seem particularly easy at first, then finished in almost exactly ½ hour, considerably better than my usual time (but hey—maybe I’m just getting better?!) As seems now to be typical for these late week days, I didn’t get a foothold until well down in the grid on the first pass, with MARTY MCFLY, a difficult name to forget, if you’ve see all of the BTTF movies. Then after a good guess on PLAYING HOOKY things began falling into place pretty steadily. Long downs were all very nice. Never heard of ARCTIC FOX; started like probably almost everyone with polar bear, but it wasn’t hard to come up with the right answer once a few crosses were in place. SE ended up the last completion: Had ENT for Q-tip specialty (seemed odd but somehow fitting), until the delicious MELODRAMA and SACKRACES proved that wrong. Then couldn’t get my mind off “slug fest”, but could think of no connection between British air aces and cotton swabs. Finally noticed it was actually Q-Tip, which, although I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of him, seemed like a RAPper kind of name, and PEST was obviously right, though not a term that slug usually calls to mind. Last smile came from MST clue after realizing it must be the answer. Assuming ID refers to the state, tag to its time zone, that’s brilliantly misleading!

baja 8:23 AM  

Who'd a thunk it. Monday to thursday DNF. Friday Woo Hoo i.e. finishing fridays is a a rarity for me! Had to come here to find out why mst was right and stared at a noak for way too long. All good

jackj 8:26 AM  

No Googling necessary, no checking letters (or whatever Across Lite offers), just do the puzzle and you’ll find that this is just what the doctor ordered, a puzzle that is as good as they get, one that will ease the pain of recent disappointments.

Josh Knapp gives us:

Smiles, “Delta factor?”, for AIRFARE;

easy partials, “Sturdy as___”, for ANOAK;

clever trickery, MELODRAMA for “Common soap ingredient”;

fun phrases, DIMEADOZEN for “Common”;

slanguage, INAFEW for “Soon”;

a portmanteau word, “Semi-opponent”, giving us FRENEMY

and people you know, such as Michael J. Fox as MARTYMCFLY.

(Or, if you prefer, RACHELMADDOW, but that may then require equal time for Sean Hannity).

The puzzle presented such a verbal feast it’s hard to single out just a few of the best ones and impossible to point to any unfairness in the cluing, (my only stumble was in first writing in AERIE for the answer that quickly corrected to LEDGE), but, WHATTHE heck, let’s also remember PLAYINGHOOKY, FEMORAL and BIODOME.

And, since Josh gave us some of my favorite baby beauties, here’s three cheers for three threes, the “Bowl on a range”, a WOK, “Modern art form?” that very cleverly gives us ARE, (today, though, “art” is ARE) and an almost stumper, “IDtag?” for MST (or Mountain Standard Time, in Idaho).

Thanks, Josh Knapp for making my day!

Michael Hanko 8:43 AM  

Fun puzzle! I liked especially the symmetrical semi/demi pairing (although one was in the clue, one in the grid)—reminded me of the British system of naming note values, in which one gets to use delightful terms like "hemi-demi-semiquaver."

Could someone help me understand how a timezone is a tag? This misdirection seems forced to me, but I'm probably missing something, since this clue is getting a lot of accolades from some very knowledgable solvers.

Oh, and when was the last time you ever heard BONER used in its crossword sense?

B Donohue 8:48 AM  

DNF, though, despite being fooled by them, loved the clues for MELODRAMA, GDAY, and RAP. Also liked clues for FRENEMY and MARTYMCFLY, the latter giving us a trip down memory lane to the 80s.

Thank you, Rex, for the explanation on MST!

Imfromjersey 9:03 AM  

Found this one easier than Thursday. Had Botch for boner too like @rex. Got Arctic Fox from the X, was thinking Arctic Lynx ( is that a thing?) which of course didn't fit.

rgards 9:11 AM  

Great puzzle, great write-up.Thanks, had no idea why mr happy pencil liked mst.

Certainly hit my c-spot, notwithstanding the early morning boner.

retired_chemist 9:12 AM  

Same problem with MST as ID tag as @michael hanko. Otherwise LOVED it, even though I found it challenging. Classic solve for a Friday: NOTHING makes sense on the first pass, then a few things fall and provide a toehold, and it goes from there with gem after gem revealing itself.



Thanks, Mr. Knapp. Just the kind of puzzle I enjoy moist.

retired_chemist 9:13 AM  

Umm - that was most, not moist.

Susan McConnell 9:24 AM  

Loved it, but found it more challenging than Rex did, and I have no weakened state to blame.

Fun clues:
Bowl on a range, Barbie greeting, It's impractical to live in

joho 9:28 AM  

Last night I quickly cut a swath through the puzzle from the SW to the NE then ... nothing. When to bed and took another look this morning with more success, but slow and steady.

MARTYMCFLY crossing FRENEMY is brilliant!

This is just about a perfect Friday puzzle, beautifully clued and executed. It doesn't get any better than this. Thank you, Josh Knapp!

Gill I. P. 9:34 AM  

Wow, I thought this was CRAZY hard. Didn't finish that bottom left corner. BONER and FRENEMY were new ones on me.
MARTY MCFLY was first thing in and then "Conservative dream killing machine" RACHEL MADDOW was next. Kept thinking WHAT THE then I started fitting in some of the blanks. I thought *Mansard* was a duck so the GABLE was a goose for a while.
Loved MELODRAMA and SACKRACES. I've had some mighty good times in the SACK...

evil doug 9:34 AM  

*That's* how it's done---when the clues are cleverly conceived, and the actual answers are even more satisfying that what you *know* they must be.

Tried 'arete' before 'faulted' gave up 'ledge'.

'Cod(piece?)' before 'net'.

'Gaped' before 'ogled'.

'SCriptS' before 'schemes'.

'wAx' before 'rap'---although I've gotten to the point that oddball rapper names are likely to appear regularly so I'm on the lookout.

Do some women name their g-spot like, say, 'Benjamin'? McFly saved me from a grievous error on 'c-spot'. And that was a brilliantly done little movie. Don't waste time on the sequels, though....

I'd have given 'Rush' to the brilliant rock trio recently added to the HOF. But as much as I enjoy listening to Tweedy's group, I was happy that 'wilco' ("I will comply"--'roger' means "I hear you") went the pilot route (with 'R and R' and 'airfare', another nice Delta twist).

Not a one of those MSNBC chicks---especially Rachel Maddow---can compare to Megyn Kelly, Martha MacCallum, Dana Perino, Kimberly Guilfoyle or any of the other hot babes on Fox.

The puzzle starts with 'plan for', with the empty grid laid out ahead; and ends with 'the past', with the crossword filled in behind. Nice.


Milford 9:34 AM  

Nice Friday, with slow, methodical solving, but no Googling, and no DNF - yay! This has been a rough week but I really enjoyed solving this one. MARTY MCFLY was an awesome entry - "Hello! MCFLY!" Is another way of saying "D'oh" in our family.

Hand up for RACHEL MADDOW being an early entry. Lots of writeovers, most fixed quickly, ear for RAP and C-note for C-SPOT. Also had "for real?" before WHAT THE.

For "ID tag?" I first had d.o.a. , thinking of a toe tag. By the time I erased that and had MST I actually caught on to the Idaho time reference.

Bottom of grid has POST, POSTON, PEST, and THE PAST. And PEP!

DBlock 9:57 AM  

Great puzzle and while I filled it all in, and now, thanks to Rex et al, even understand MST, would someone explain how randr is an answer to absence with leave??

retired_chemist 10:00 AM  


C. Ross Word 10:05 AM  

Enjoyed this one! Got very little traction last night. Picked it up this morning and the west went down with methodically. Needed to get GRANARIES to open up the east. Write-overs: Cnote / CSPOT; LITer / LITRE; ziP / PEP; pawED / OGLED; shoT / PEST.

Loved that RACHELMADDOW crossed ARCTIC "FOX."

I'm with @Michael Hanko and @retired_chemist in not getting why MST is a "tag" of IDaho.

Fun puzzle!

Norm 10:06 AM  

RACHELMADDOW was not a gimme here, so this played harder for me. Actually, had RACHELMULDOW at one point (that was someone on TV, right?) but DIMEADOZEN put me on the right track. MARTYMCFLY came slowly too, even though I was pretty sure of the movie. SW seemed very different from the rest of the puzzle: not as much misdirection and just plain weird/obscure (to me at least). POSTON? FRENEMY? Not to say I didn't like the puzzle. I did.

600 10:08 AM  

Same problem with "tag" for time zone as @michael hanko and @retired chemist. Have read Rex's "aha" explanation repeatedly to no avail. Help, someone?

I did love the puzzle, all of it, though it was a challenge. Hands up for RACHEL MADDOW as my first entry. (I wonder if any of those ladies from Fox are Rhodes scholars who hold doctorates in politics from Oxford. I'm thinking no . . .) My favorite of Maddow's lines came when she answered a question about her political views: "I'm undoubtedly a liberal, which means that I'm in almost total agreement with the Eisenhower-era Republican party platform."

Now, about tag as timezone--anyone?

C. Ross Word 10:09 AM  

...the west went down methodically. No "with."

mac 10:13 AM  

Excellent puzzle, solid medium Friday for me. I needed all the crosses for Poston and Marty McFly, but I did get Rachel Maddow early on. Do you mean Alex Wagner, Rex? Grouch was a gimme, as well!

Had a bit of a mess in the NW where I started out with "arrival" at 15A. Most of the puzzle was just fun figuring out the tricky clues. Frenemy is great!

DBlock 10:34 AM  

Egg on my face time--kept reading it as Ran Dr--thanks--did love many of the clues today, particularly Tom Poston and also agree it was a brutal week, so enjoy the elegance of today. Love this blog!!! dblock

Sandy K 10:34 AM  

Really liked this puzzle.

First ones to go in were RACHEL MADDOW, PLAYING HOOKY, FRENEMY, MARTY MCFLY, and Tom POSTON who was married to Suzanne Pleshette- both from the Newhart show.

I MANAGEd to fell in the rest without any MELODRAMA.

Thanks, Rex for explaining MST- but still don't get why it's an IDaho tag?

Good Friday puzzle. G'DAY!

Joma 10:35 AM  

Almost nailed this one, but lost out on UNFED and SCOW. I had ARCTIC and LINE already but couldn't finish the remaining word. I had RANDR as well but didn't read it out properly so also missed it.
It was slow going but managed to start with Marty McFly, still remembered him. DimeaDozen was the next long word. Somehow it came along pretty slowly.
Fun puzzle to solve

Sandy K 10:37 AM  

I didn't fell in, but I did fill in the rest...I hate when that happens.

Sir Hillary 10:46 AM  

I figured the RACHELMADDOW gimme would set me on my way, but it sat there by itself for quite a while. My second entry was CNOTE...uh, yeah, no help there either.

Finally, CHEW and HEX revealed themselves, and the NW fell, followed by the SW, SE and finally the NE. Tons of fun along the journey, as others have pointed out. The clue for MST is reeeeealllly good.

Nice spot by Doug on RUSH and WILCO non-clued as bands. I think UNFED would be a great name for a punk quartet. That certainly describes the Pistols back in the day.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

Don't understand how modern art form = are. Someone please explain.

Pete 10:49 AM  

I was about to add notes of graditude for the effort Rex puts into doing this every day, and sympathy for being too exhausted to do it from time to time. Then I re-read the post and realized that yesterday was his first full day of work in over a month. Envy replaced graditude.

Having no relatives in IDaho to bring a pleasant thought to mind just thinking of IDaho, I still dislike the "ID tag". The only way I can imagine that makes sense is along the lines of geo-tagging, where one appends location info, including local time, to a photograph.

This puzzle should reside on Will's office wall as an examplar of what puzzles should be: Meat and potatos good, no crap, no sauce added in an attempt to hide the fact that the meat is burned and the potatos mushy.

B Donohue 10:50 AM  


Antiquity's "thou art" becomes modern "you are."

Therefore "Modern art form" is ARE.

Pete 10:50 AM  

@anon 10:47 - My great great grandaddy would say "Thou art... ". I would say "You are.."

Carola 10:56 AM  

Josh Knapp, FRENEMY! Witty friend for the first three quarters, then diabolical SCHEMEr for the SE. Was sure the soap ingredient was some oil or emulsifier. Thought being absent without leave was stAYING somewhere (like a staycation where you don't leave town), so the HOOKY area remained blank except for the Y. When C-note wouldn't work, my mind went blank on an alternative. Finally had a breakthrough when I realized Oscar was a GROUCH and not a statue. Witty all the way to the end - terrific puzzle.

Add me to those who don't get the MST "tag." And I'm also saying "WHAT THE?" to the modern art form - ARE? - @B Donahue - Just saw your post. Thanks! That is genius.

@Rex - I echo @loren in being in awe of your being able to teach and post here every day. I remember those first days of the semester - talk about feeling flogged!

Laurence Katz 10:56 AM  

In what possible sense is a time zone a "tag"? ID time or ID zone would have made sense; easier, yes, but not immediate giveaways.

Two Ponies 11:02 AM  

A palate-cleansing verbal feast.
(Thanks @ jackj for that phrase)
If only all Fridays could be this savory.

600 11:04 AM  

@Pete--Thank you! Although, in my opinion, it's still quite a stretch as a crossword clue, at least geo-tagging makes sense. Again, thanks.

And, by the way, Rex, I agree with @mac that you're probably thinking of Alex Wagner. Also agree with @Evan that you should check out Chris Hayes. Young, sharp, and not a belligerent, self-righteous dude.

Carola 11:15 AM  

@Pete - Thanks for the "tag" explanation. Got to remember this new(Ish) use for the word.

Rex Parker 11:27 AM  

Yes. Wagner. Will change. Thanks.


John V 11:36 AM  

Felt easy, but then could not get SE and most of the East. MARTYMCFLY completely off my radar. I hear ya @Rex re ID, but even with your analysis, makes no sense to me whatever, ergo no traction in the spot. Wanted EST, too, FWIW.

So, liked it, but was not meant to be. Gotta get on with the day.

Milford 11:47 AM  

For what my humble opinion is worth, I took the ID tag clue just very loosely, as in Idaho has been assigned/marked/tagged with the Mountain Time Zone designation.

I did see that Idaho is split between MST and PST, though, so maybe that fits better? Certain parts of Idaho are "tagged" as MST?

Notsofast 11:48 AM  

A brilliant, sassy, tough to crack, but easy to finish GEM! WOW. Just wow. Props to Josh Knapp. A+

jberg 12:00 PM  

I really struggled with the SW, until I realized that 43A couldn't be ecoDOME, what with 'eco' in the clue and all - so that cleared away erroR to make way for BONER, which gave me FEMORAL, and that was it.

Writeovers: variABLE before MUTABLE, A rOcK before AN OAK, and OUTrACE before the superior OUTFACE.

On the 'tag' issue, I think you tag the time with those letters to let people know what zone you're in.

I'm coming here late, everything else has been said. Nice, tough puzzle.

Anoa Bob 12:19 PM  

This was CRAZY good! Start to finish. Like others have said, this is the way a Friday puzzle should be.

I even knew Tom POSTON. He was a regular on the Steve Allen Show in the late 50's/early 60's. Can't believe this wasn't mentioned in the Wiki excerpt in Rex's write up.

Looked for a You Tube clip of him on Steve's show. Found this one.

Off Topic: Also found a clip of a young, clean-cut (he looks like "Twilight Zone"'s Rod Serling), Frank Zappa playing the bicycle (!) on Steve's show.

Beautiful puzzle, Mr. Knapp.

Kris in ABCA 12:29 PM  

Like @joho, quickly worked the NE to SW swath last night, but got too groggy to continue. Tackled the rest this morning. Misread "soap ingredient" as "soup ingredient" and tried to make MELODRAMA into some sort of a chicken stock. Had to read the blog to understand MST.

All in all, some fresh fill and a fun Friday.

mac 12:36 PM  

Chris Hayes is very good. He started out as a Republican wunderkind when he was a teen, the changed his mind as a young adult.

Lewis 12:45 PM  

@retired chemist -- maybe the puzzle was so good it made you cry, and that's why you enjoyed it moist.

Hand up for Cnote, wanted mull for CHEW, and thought it was geoDOME, which gave me gaffe instead of BONER. But it all worked out. I laughed when I finally figured out MST.

This to me was an upper tier puzzle, cream of the crop. Bravo, Josh, for your art and craft.

I skip M-W 1:21 PM  

Thanks @Anoa Bob for remembering Poston on Steve Allen Show. I think that's only thing of his I've seen. The beginning of Mad-Libs. Great puzzle.

Ellen S 1:25 PM  

Question for you, @Evil Doug: what's the difference between "Roger" and "Copy"? In the cop shows, in the same conversation, they'll say "Roger that" sometimes and "Copy that" others. Thanks for the translation of "wilco".

Hand up for ear before RAP, statue/GROUCH, C-note/CSPOT.

Got MST on crosses and didn't notice. Add me to those for whom "Tag" for time zone is a WHAT THE?! Are we agreed that it refers to geo-tagging? Okay, that makes sense.

Also I don't understand "Barbie greeting" being G'DAY. I thought Barbie was Australian for "barbecue" --I've never had one of those greet me. Maybe cuz I'm a vegetarian.

Right at the beginning I had esquImauX before ARCTIC FOX. I thought it would be an archaic spellings theme and I would ace it, but didn't get much further before realizing that in fact I'd be lucky to finish with major cheats.

Had to IMDb to get MARTY McFLY (never saw the movies, but I'm thinking now I should) but I knew Tom Poston right away. @Anoa Bob, IMDb says he was in only five episodes of a Steve Allen series that ran from 1957-1960; I can't believe he left such an impression on me in so few episodes; I watched a few Newharts and recognized Poston from the other shows. But I think I've discovered gaps in the IMDb's data because I know I used to see Don Novello as Father Guido Sarducci on some late show (Jack Paar?) before Saturday Night Live in the 90s.

The rest of the puzzle was all writeovers, screwing up the few answers I actually knew (GABLE, RACHEL MADDOW). But when I finally got them, I liked them all, the answers and the clever cluing.

Thanks, Josh, for a nice tough Friday.

retired_chemist 1:37 PM  

@ Lewis - good one.

Carola 1:51 PM  

@Ellen S - You are a riot. On the talking barbie - I think a barbie can be an event as well as a grilling apparatus, so it could be hosts and guests saying G'DAY.

evil doug 1:51 PM  


Not an expert on cop-speak, but it sounds similar: 'Roger', I hear you, and 'copy', I understand the instructions.

Pilots are actually obliged to read back the instructions exactly as the controller gave them, starting with the call sign/flight number ("Roger, Delta 123, climb to one four thousand, turn right to two four zero, airspeed three zero zero", for example), because a) there have been frequent cases of the wrong flight accepting a clearance meant for another aircraft, and b) if you just say 'wilco' how does the controller know that you correctly heard what he wants you to do? "Radio discipline" has become a big deal because lots of accidents/near misses have occurred when the pilot presumes he's got it right, but doesn't.


Anonymous 1:51 PM  

Good puzzle. I suppose I was the only one who's first word was RAP which led me to GLYCERINE for "common soap ingredient". Gah I was so pissed to have to change it MELODRAMA haha

Bored Guy 1:56 PM  

I just now noticed that in "The Chronicle of the Horse", the unofficial but official magazine of equestrian sports, that Stephen Colber was named Dressage Equestrian of the Year.

I've nowhere else in my life to broadcast this news.

Bird 2:14 PM  

A much better puzzle than yesterday's. Lots of PEP. But I DNF as I didn’t know the poet at 37A (there’s only a few poems for which I can tell you the author) and couldn’t see R-AND-R. Maybe if I got 45A I might have gotten 32D and 33D. Then again I had SCRIPTS for 57A so that corner was a total loss.

Write-overs include . . .

SSN at 32A, ENCLOSE (better answer) before INCLUDE at 17A, ALOOF before CRAZY at 36A, GARDENS before SCRIPTS before learning SCHEMES was correct at 57A and BOTCH before BONER at 43D.

Liked how LINE DANCE goes down, MARTY MCFLY (I was trying to think of Scott Bakula’s character from Quantum Leap before I re-read the clue) and PLAYING HOOKY.

Didn’t understand MST until I read the blog. Okay I guess, but now I dislike this clue/answer as time zone and tag are not similar.

syndy 2:15 PM  

My first take on Mansard was an ocean liner but that didn't float the boat.Add me to the loved it crowd even if the MST and RAP/Q-tip were WHAT THE?'s I Had Roof before REED Literbefore LITRE (was the fizzy the tip?) Rex, Rocks aren't sturdy they're solid! Evil thanks for the treatise on threeway communications!

Bird 3:02 PM  

Updates . . .

Scott Bakula played Dr. Sam Beckett on Quantom Leap from 1989 - 1993.

@Ellen S - Aside from SNL, Father Guido Sarducci was seen on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In and the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in the 70s.

Anoa Bob 3:06 PM  

@Ellen S, yeah, IMDb's claim of just five times on the Steve Allen Show for Tom Poston seemed wildly wrong to me and sent me back to You Tube where I found a two hour/four part interview for the Archive of American Television of him done in Feb., 2006. (He died in 2007.)

In the beginning of Part 2 he talks about the Steve Allen Show (priceless!) and said he was on the show once a week for three years. Way more than five times I'd say.

jae 3:19 PM  

Easy medium for me and definitely easier than yesterday's. Like pretty much everyone else I thought this was a fantastic puzzle.

@Ellen S. - It's also hard for me to believe that POSTON was only in 5 episodes. He was a regular in a "man in the street" interview bit that Steve did that also included Don Knotts, Louie Nye, and Bill Dana. I swear I remember them being on the Sunday night show almost weekly.

jae 3:22 PM  

@Anoa -- Appartently we crossed posts. Thanks for checking that and confirming my 50 plus year old memories.

John V 3:33 PM  

Attention Wesport folks: Be sure to read your email re: plumbing at the Library for tomorrow. Hope all goes okay.

Anonymous 3:35 PM  

Compare what?

OISK 3:55 PM  

Tom Poston was the man on the street who could not remember his name (on Steve Allen). I really enjoyed this puzzle! Only clue I didn't care for was QTIP, since the only rapper I am at all familiar with is the Raven. (but I am totally clueless where pop-culture is concerned, so I can't blame the immensely gifted Mr. Knapp for throwing that in. For me, Adele is the maid in Fledermaus, Nyro is a misspelled emperor...)

I especially loved the clue for "are." It is the "aha" moments that make solving such a joy.

I never get to the puzzle until early afternoon, except the Sunday one, so I always get to post after everyone else has pretty much gotten it covered! Very pleased about the unanimity on this one. True greatness is obvious to all!

Fire WS 4:01 PM  

Okay. This puzzle was pretty good so I'm granting WS a reprieve.

But as we say in NY, "What have you done for me lately?" If he screws up again, I'll submit a petition to the White House website to remove that baffoon from office. Will, not Barack.

sanfranman59 4:20 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 21:12, 21:07, 1.00, 55%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 12:33, 12:07, 1.04, 57%, Medium

Davis 6:40 PM  

Best puzzle all week, hands down. Strangely, it felt easy the whole way through (I never got too hung up anywhere), but I ended up with a medium-ish time.

Ditto to all the positives pointed out elsewhere. This puzzle very nearly makes up for the dreck we saw earlier in the week.

Arctic Crazy Melodramas 6:52 PM  

Last night I wrote a comment after waiting up all night for Rex to post!
Now that I've read his, I'm going to copy exactly what I wrote last night, so i can show that sometimes we think eerily alike, despite comments implying the opposite!

"Well, this one should make folks happy after yesterday’s ORDEAL; right amount of trickery and wonderful fill: RACHELMADDOW, PLAYINGHOOKY, DIMEADOZEN, FRENEMY, ARCTICFOX, SACKRACES…

What I loved was it was one of those puzzles you could HEAR:

Ironically I Botch(ed) BONER (learned FEMORAL) and had a tough time making my Cnote into a CSPOT. Ten spot, yes, C SPOT? I guess I’m not rich enough to get all slang about hundred dollar bills .
(Tho I did find TWO in one day in New Orleans in October…10 miles and six hours apart!!!! Most bizarre day of my life)

Bleed over from yesterday…an OAK I wanted then, fell today!
OGLED over LEaR is sorta funny.

I don’t get ID tag = MST? Is that for Idaho Mountain Standard Time???

For the first time I really understood why Will prefers there not be made mention of cancer and unpleasant things in the puzzle. UNFED neglected pets is going to bum me out the rest of the night.

Anyway, hoping for positive experiences today compared to the GROUCHfest that was Thursday… it’s impractical to live in THEPAST.

Oddest thing for me is that MELODRAMA has but one L. I guess MELLODRAMA would be an oxymoron!

MetaRex 7:17 PM  

Josh Knapp's puzzle was a mellow screw-ups were by my standards pretty minor and non-florid--had MARTIE FLYE instead of MARTY MCFLY, C-NOTE instead of C-SPOT, ARCTIC OWL instead of ARCTIC FOX.


Looking forward to my first CWP tournament in Westport tomorrow and to meeting other Rexeans!


chefwen 7:45 PM  

What everyone else said.

Have a great time in Westport tomorrow, those attending. Don't forget, we want pictures.

JenCT 7:50 PM  

@evil: big Rush fans here; we just got tickets to see them at Mohegan Sun in May. (Lakeside Park is on the 24th of May...) I agree; the induction into the RaRHOF was long overdue...

Will try to make it to Westport tomorrow...

acme 8:46 PM  

And don't forget those who don't live on East Coast, there is the St Paul James Hill Minnesota Crossword Tournament tomorrow!!!!!

Tita 9:04 PM  

@Rex- I have never thought about including you in the Epic Wrong Answer Hall of Fame, but your eELODRAMA story made me lol.

Thought I WNF, but then I DF.

@webwinger - were you a gardener, and had no chickens or ducks to tend said garden, you would consider slugs PESTs and then some.

@jackj - what you said...except I had vErGE before LEDGE.

My other BONER was ARCTICern.

Only down note was the clue for about "Like a neglected parking meter?" instead.

Puzzle-related story...One of the favorite things I learned was that the BIOsphere folks in Arizona, puzzled as to why trees limbs started falling as they grew tall, found that trees need "exercise"...with no wind in the Biosphere, the trees' branches were not strong enough to hold up their own weight.

See ya'll tomorrow - I really hope you can make it, @Jen!

And I hope the St. Paul contest is wonderful too.

Anonymous 9:21 PM  

Did anyone notice Rush and Rachel M crossed? Hat tip to left and right!

JFC 10:12 PM  

Late making a comment, but do want to add my voice to others who are in awe of Rex's day in and day out dedication to his creation. It's obviously his passion but even passion has its limits. No matter how nasty my comments might seem toward you, Rex, I never forget the great commitment and perseverance you exhibit on this blog. You are a husband, father and teacher, any one of which is enough of a challenge and which makes your energy to this endeavor remarkable. Your commentary is always appreciated as well....


mac 10:39 PM  

@Andrea: hope the St. Paul tournament will become as successful as the Westport one!

JFC 1:12 AM  

Okay, Rex, it's two hours later and once again you are late (with Saturday). Let's not take advantage of our good will....


P-Co 9:37 AM  

You cannot pay tribute to Tom Poston without mentioning that he played the man who could answer any question but couldn't remember his name in the "Man on the Street" sketch on the Steve Allen show.

Jack Lee 7:07 AM  

First time in ages that I've been able to complete a Friday without Google's help. Thanks for explaining "ID tag".

Spacecraft 11:47 AM  

Nice, pithy Friday. Not much trouble, after my slowDANCE, which is how I remember the Stroll, became a LINEDANCE. OFL mentions ANOAK as something he "can take" but no comment about the much more awkward partial WHATTHE, or the [initial-AND-initial] format of RANDR, which makes no abbr. sense--or CSPOT? You hear C-note all the time, but not C-spot. Maybe C-spot is the place where a hundred-dollar-an-hour girl gets excited.

Then there's ITSME, the most oft-repeated inanity of all time. Why do people say this? It's true 100% of the time! Anyway, as per Ensign Pulver, it should be "It is I." Oh well, I can't have it both ways. I object to entries that "people never actually say," so I guess I have to accept ITSME. No question they say THAT.

GROUCH period over. That was one of the amusing misdirections I found today: with "Oscar, e.g." I was thinking award, or honor, or statue. Oh. Not THAT kind of Oscar. And speaking of Sesame Street, today's grid has been presented by the letter F: no fewer than eight of them. But despite earlier grumblings, I'll give it a better grade: B+. Woulda been an A without the RANDR.

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

Enjoyed this puzzle very much thanks to you, Mr. Knapp - even though I had 2 blanks. I just never heard of the term "Frenemy." But now I know, so no prob. As much as I comment on Mr. Parker's sardonic remarks, I have to agree with today's write-up. And, his perseverance is commendable.
Ron Diegp. 3/8/13

Dirigonzo 3:49 PM  

I had a fun romp through most of the grid but had to struggle in the SE. I thought "Works on a plot" might be gardenS which fit in very nicely with the SLUG crossing at the end. Finally Oscar thew GROUCH disabused me of that idea and I was able to sort the rest out. For a while I wondered if the Q-tip pecialty would be "ear" or "wax" and I was relieved to see it was neither. I'm especially grateful to the prime-timers' discussion of MST because I totally did not understand the clue or the answer - now I semi-understand it.

@Spacecraft - I didn't take WHATTHE to be a partial; it's pretty common in these parts to say, "What the...?!" when something seems unbelievable. On- line everybody seems to use "WTF" for the same purpose. But that clue for MST - Seriously?!

DMGrandma 4:08 PM  

Grammar got me! I stuck with ITisi, which even made me misspell FRiNEMY. Combine that with never having heard of the time-traveller, and the SW was clearly my Waterloo. Elsewhere, changing Oscar from slOUCH (think Odd Couple) to GROUCH gave me RANDR, and helped me do the rest. Did come here to see what was wrong with MST!!

Waxy in Montreal 4:20 PM  

Despite also starting in the NW corner with slowDANCE & POLARBEAR and not knowing a RACHELMADDOW from a Newton Minow, got a real RUSH from this puzzle which certainly OUTPACEd those we've seen in THErecentPAST. Deserves ANOAK LEAVEs cluster, IMHO.

Count me in the camp of those who loved TOMPOSTON as a "Man in the Street" on the Steve Allen show along with Louis Nye and Don Knotts. Classic comedy and all done in absolutely realtime, lest we forget.

Waxy in Montreal 4:23 PM  

Yeah, agree that the MST clue is a real BONER!

Ginger 5:00 PM  

Struggled more than I should have, my excuse, a bout of norovirus. Same write overs as others have mentioned, Cnote, BOtch, and ArOcK. I wrote a question mark in the margin by MST. Thanks Rex, and all who explained it. MARTYMCFLY came slowly, even though I've seen it several times. Wanted BIOlab, but of course it wouldn't fit. The articulate RACHELMADDOW elevated things a bunch, though I was surprised she's been on MSNBC that long.

Stay well, everyone!

rain forest 6:41 PM  

I have no excuses for taking an embarrassingly long time to complete this puzzle, other than I have no idea who RACHELMADDOW is and couldn't for the longest time remember Michael J. Fox's character. Had "eelodrama" forever because I was resolved that ID EST was correct. Because I thought the puzzle was just great, I soldiered on and finally completed it. Time zone as a tag, eh? Hmmm...

Dirigonzo 8:04 PM  

I just finished a puzzle in one of Will Shortz' xword collection books and time-travelled back to 2009 to see what Rexville had to say about it. Our very own @Waxy in Montreal had left a comment, identifying himself as being from SyndCity. It seems to me that if we were to shorten that just a bit more to SynCity we might have a very apt name for our little corner of Rexville. Thoughts, anyone? (I'll use it even if no one else does.)

@Ginger - Norovirus is nasty. I hope youy have a speedy recovery.

Waxy in Montreal 9:15 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Waxy in Montreal 9:17 PM  

@Diri, I'm in synch with SynCity.

And all the very best, @Ginger.

Captcha = sheeit. I'll say no more...

Ginger 2:02 AM  

@waxy and @Diri - Thanks for the get well wishes. Waxy, your captcha says all you want to know about norovirus (and all you don't!)

SynCity - sounds good to me!

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