Nagg's wife in Samuel Beckett's Endgame / FRI 2-15-13 / Piranha director 1978 / 1890-1941 Italian colony / Ziploc bag introducer / CW series based on French film / Wicker seat place / Knuckles the Echidna's company

Friday, February 15, 2013

Constructor: Tom Heilman

Relative difficulty: Medium (tilting slightly toward the Easy side) 

THEME: none

Word of the Day: LITOTES (39D: Figure of speech like "not unlike") —
n., pl., litotes.
A figure of speech consisting of an understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite, as in This is no small problem.

[Greek lītotēs, from lītos, plain.]

Read more:
• • •

This is pretty damned good for a puzzle with a relatively low word count (62). The only real cringer was ILL-GOT (48A: Procured unlawfully, old-style) (Add TEN to that one, and you've got a deal). I had the weird experience of getting the longer answers very easily, but struggling a bit with the short stuff. NELL held me up badly (43A: Nagg's wife in Samuel Beckett's "Endgame"). No idea, so I couldn't move through that section and into the SE easily at all. And then there were the 3s in the SE. I guessed JOE DANTE (51A: "Piranha" director, 1978), but then couldn't figure out how the J or the O or the E was right, and so took him out ... only to put him back in again a little bit later. I don't know that meaning of "extrude" (JUT). I think of extruding as something done to meat, perhaps in the making of sausage. I can't think of a word where -OSE = "-ish," but I'm sure some exist. And ... well, ESA is obvious in retrospect, but I think I was unsure if there was some meaning of "demonstrative" in 53D: Spanish demonstrative that I wasn't getting. It's just a demonstrative pronoun. Other than these small but significant snags, I sailed through this with some lucky guesses and some up-my-alley stuff. Knew right off the bat that 1A: Smelting ended it was an AGE, but I couldn't remember which. So I wrote in AGE, got all the Down crosses, and took off like a shot from there. Got THIS INSTANT from the TH- and GAS ENGINE from the GA-. Took a little bit longer to get RINGSIDE SEAT and SLIDING SCALE, but not much longer. Got COPACETIC from the -T-C. ALOUETTE from the L (!?) (36D: Kindergarten song). I did have some general slowness in the SW, with only a misspelled KEENAN in there for a bit, until I stumbled on the clue for LITOTES. Hurray for somewhat ARCANE literary knowledge! I got that one instantly and the SW fell from there. Once I figured out SPREAD EAGLE (9D: Like a snow angel maker, at times), the NE opened up, and I finished things off at the PROPEL / APOLAR "P".

[14D: Caine character who's left wondering]

I think people will have trouble today coming up with the not-exactly-highbrow pop culture— specifically "NIKITA" (50A: CW series based on a French film) and JOE DANTE— and then with the Beckett (NELL). That [Wicker seat area?] might crush some folks too. I'm guessing there's some senator named Wicker. Needless to say, never heard of him (him?). Yup, Roger Wicker, R-MS. Who the hell outside Mississippi knows that? ERITREA might be a little difficult for people to pick up as well (10D: 1890-1941 Italian colony). Not sure why it came to me so quickly–possibly because when I think of Italian colonies, I think of Ethiopia, which is ERITREA-adjacent (just to the south).

That is all.

For those who missed my Thursday announcement: "American Red Crosswords"—a collection of 24 original puzzles that I put together to benefit the Red Cross's Disaster Relief Fund—is available for download now from Puzzles were edited by Patrick Blindauer. Will Shortz wrote the introduction. And many, many big-time constructors donated their talents. So go donate to the Red Cross, download some puzzles, and enjoy the weekend.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:13 AM  

Medium for me, but I missed it by one square. Did not know LITOTES and spelled KEENEN with an A (which is what I suspect Rex did, but he knew LITOTES). So, DNF for the second time this week. It may be time to check into the home.

JOE DANTE is better known for Gremlins.

A fine grid and a good Fri. challenge, but not much zip...COPACETIC, EBONICS(?)....

Liked it.

syndy 12:15 AM  

I guess ILLGOT was before Rex's time.I also had KEENaN but unfortunately I don't have a PHD in literature so LINOTaS worked fine for me.ITALIa worked until ALFIE chased it out.Jim before JOE YEWTREES was the ODDEST entry but very getable and my time was definitly easyose!

Anoa Bob 12:43 AM  

This was a tale of two puzzles for me. The upper half was great. What a wonderful opening trio in the NW, STONE AGE, CEREBRAL, & OLD WORLD. Gladdened a word-nerd's heart.

Used to teach neuron stuff, but never heard of 12D APOLAR (neither has spell check). Something new to learn can't be a bad thing.

The bottom half was much tougher and finally put me in a submission hold. I had to tap out to stop the contest, pretty much for the reasons Rex suspected might cause us problems, NIKITA & JOE DANTE.

Overall, I thought it was a very fine puzzle.

C. Ross Word 1:23 AM  

Hands up for KEENaN / LITOTaS but otherwise a fun Friday!

Evan 1:47 AM  

I had the same mistake above as the others: I was dead in the water with KEENAN/LITOTAS. Could have sworn KEENEN was spelled with an A, but I guess not.

Despite that personal Natick, I enjoyed this one. I agree that it was easy-medium, but there was still quite a lot of stuff in here I've never heard of -- SECADA crossing APOLAR, PARTITAS, JOE DANTE, the aforementioned LITOTES, and even STEP-INS was a mystery to me. Usually I find no more than one or two words in a puzzle with which I'm completely unfamiliar, but not six. Speaking of JOE DANTE, while I'm yet to see the original "Piranha," a friend of mine once gave me a Piranha movie trio for Christmas: the 2010 "Piranha" remake, a different "Piranha" movie from 1972 (which is alternatively titled "Piranha, Piranha!"), and the TV movie "Mega Piranha" from 2010. I can safely report that I've only seen one of those three -- I imagine I'll have to drink quite a bit before I can actually enjoy the other two.

Some nitpicks: I didn't really care for OLD WORLD crossing ELD -- the former is a nice entry, but it's still crossing an antiquated version of the same word. I also didn't like SCOOPERS as a synonym for ice cream shop workers. Scooping ice cream is an important part of the job, but it's not all that they do; post office employees might spend a lot of their day labeling envelopes and packages, and we don't call them LABELERS.

I'm very glad that SEGA was clued with Knuckles the Echidna -- he's the tough guy character in the "Sonic the Hedgehog" games who can punch enemies (which Sonic can't do).

Last thing: Did anyone else have an immature chuckle at SPREAD EAGLE crossing RIP OFF? I know I did!

Apolar Cerebral Madonnas 3:42 AM  

(@evan, if you are wondering why I called you serious yesterday, reread your SCOOPERS comment!!!)
I loved that it started with SCOOPERS, fun word

I liked everything...

And I loved the highbrow PARTITAS, LITOTES, ERITREA vs JOEDANTE and NIKITA as @Rex has already pointed out, but I'd like to echo that...

PINKO/PIANO was interesting balance...

and my favorite clues are ones like 3D "Activity for diners and list makers"
I would love to solve a whole puzzle where you had to figure out what two things have in common :)

Now go check out those RedCrossword Puzzles that @Rex had the mind and heart to put together!

jae 4:00 AM  

@Evan -- Usually what you've never heard of is a generational thing, but I'm with you on today's list with the exception of SECADA who won Grammies well over a decade ago.

Loren Muse Smith 6:06 AM  

This one was way too hard for me – at least to finish before all the morning chores. I’ve said before, because of this blog, I can’t take the whole day to finish a puzzle because I’m too eager to show up here and run my mouth.

I’m of course not as young as a lot of you, but I noticed all the *oldOSE* elements, clues and answers: STONE AGE, STEP INS, ELD, SEPIA, ILL GOT, “ducky,” “McCarthy-era,” “the ’80s,” “1890-1941,” “1978,” “1958”. . .

@Evan – I just noticed the NEW AT/OLD WORLD cross.

@Acme –I loved the ORDERING clue, too!

Briefly considered “skivies” but decided I wasn’t spelling it right.

Yesterday GASSES, today GAS ENGINE, which finally fell when I changed “eat” to ATE. “Put” is always a bit ARCANE.

I know, I know, I’m verbOSE here (there ya go, @Rex!)… so I’ll just add that I keep seeing that Popeye toddler nephew, SWEE POUT when I look back on the grid.
I’LL GO Tackle some Red Crosswords now.

Thanks, Tom and Will. This is just what a Friday should be.

The Bard 6:44 AM  

King Henry VI, part III , Act II, scene II

KING HENRY VI: Full well hath Clifford play'd the orator,
Inferring arguments of mighty force.
But, Clifford, tell me, didst thou never hear
That things ill-got had ever bad success?
And happy always was it for that son
Whose father for his hoarding went to hell?
I'll leave my son my virtuous deeds behind;
And would my father had left me no more!
For all the rest is held at such a rate
As brings a thousand-fold more care to keep
Than in possession and jot of pleasure.
Ah, cousin York! would thy best friends did know
How it doth grieve me that thy head is here!

webwinger 6:47 AM  

Needed some googling to help get started (NELL and NIKITA), but then things began falling into place very quickly (for me, on a Friday); ended up with time just under 30 minutes, considerably shorter than for yesterday’s puzzle, which I thought was a real bear of a Thursday. Lots to like here—agree with Acme, classic clue for ORDERING. Remembered long ago (back when gains were ILLGOT, and everything was COPACETIC) seeing newly released well reviewed ultra-low budget pic Pirhana from promising young director JOEDANTE; hearing William F. Buckley “patiently” explain to a critic that a phrase he had used was not a double negative, but a LITOTES; and being asked “What’s it all about, ALFIE” seemingly every time I turned on the radio.

Sir Hillary 7:23 AM  

DNF. Could not crack the 3x3 section at 51D. And seeing the solution here, I never would have in a million years. Maybe I am rationalizing my own failure, but OSE and ESA next to one another ain't pretty, and the 55A clue is about the ODDEST, most ARCANE I can imagine for that answer. Also, my KEENAN/LITOTAS mistake (which I only realized after coming here) is another I never would have corrected on my own. I am tempted to cry "Natick" but I think I should just accept my shortcomings and move on.

I really liked the four longest entries, but other than that didn't get much sizzle out of this one.

Loren Muse Smith 7:29 AM  

Someone just shared this with me, and I laughed so hard, my eyes became TEAROSE!!/photo.php?v=10150279548106284&set=vb.715006283&type=2&theater

Rex Parker 7:32 AM  

Google hits:

ILL-GOT (75.7K).
ILL-GOTTEN (1.8 million).

The former is legitimate. Just ... less so.


Anonymous 7:59 AM  

KeenAn not don't mess with someone's name to make it fit..

Kathy 8:04 AM  

@loren muse smith - Thanks so much for the link! I had the exact same reaction to it - fabulous!

Glimmerglass 8:12 AM  

Thanks, Bard, for the Shakespeare reference. Like Rex, I cringed at ILL GOT. This was challenging for me. A "medium" Friday, maybe, but a hard puzzle. Lots of ARCANE knowledge. Lots of fun.

joho 8:29 AM  

KEENaN did me in. Regardless,loved this elegant puzzle.

COPACETIC reminds me of my mom.

Thank you, Tom Heilman, beautifully done!

Danp 8:32 AM  

Best puzzle in a long time. There were several proper nouns I didn't know, but the crosses made them all fair. I knew Wicker, but even when I got the answer, I thought even Mississippians won't know who he is.

Couldn't finish the NE, partly because I couldn't get Neil Sedaka out of my mind. I picture the guy. I see the locust-like bug, but the name just won't come. And for some reason "copacetic" seems like a commonly spoken word that is never written. Never came to mind here, even when I was only missing two letters.

I don't have kids, but I had to laugh at the thought of a child asking for the "sepia". I guess there's nothing like a drawing of kids playing in the antiqued sunshine?

Anyway, kudos to Tom Heilman.

Milford 8:38 AM  

Not sure why, but most of this filled in super-smooth today, resulting in one of my faster Fridays. In the Florida Keys this week - maybe defrosting my brain has helped my solving skills!

Didn't know LITOTES, NELL, or PARTITAS, but crosses and guessing helped.

Not sure why YEW TREES are cemetery related. And while I have heard the term PINKO, can someone explain who exactly it refers to (I always took it to mean commie or similar).

Anyone else try to put in IR (injured reserved) LIST or something sports-related for 20A? ALFIE finally fixed it.

ERITREA is known to me because Meb Keflezighi, an amazing marathon runner, is from there.

@ACM - I would love a puzzle with all 3D-type clues, I liked figuring that one out!

Unknown 8:49 AM  

Another hand up for KEENaN. Other than that, a nice tough Friday. Got my brain going.

baja 8:54 AM  

@Loren thanks for that clip

Kevin 9:09 AM  

I actually knew LITOTES already, but I hesitated to put it in since the clue refers to a singular "Figure of speech" and not a plural "Figures of speech." Am I missing something or is that just an error?

Airymom 9:10 AM  

Wicker seat place?=U.S. Senate? It's the NY Times, for God's sake. How about "Hillary's old place?", or "Rubio's place"? Crummy clue. I was considering "front porch", "patio", etc. as possible answers.
I, too, had problems with the three threes.

Scott Thomas 9:17 AM  

Seems to me 53D should have been clued as "protrude" instead of "extrude." Messed me up entirely in the SE.

Jeremy Mercer 9:23 AM  

Looking forward to learning more about this JEEDANTE fellow. (ESE is much more ISH than OSE, no?)

jackj 9:31 AM  

This Tom Heilman puzzle is as good as it gets!

As a first entry, the little do-si-do-ing GAL provided lots of help in broaching the puzzle when STONEAGE, CEREBRAL and EBONICS all clicked in, courtesy of her visage.

Then the first of many pieces of brilliance to come, “Invent something” for TELLALIE came to the fore and, as often happens, one clever clue begets another.

That tennis clue looking for “Close match point?”, that was only a let and the do-over deposited us firmly in a RINGSIDESEAT to enjoy Gillette’s Friday Night at the Fights!

As Tom Heilman continued to delight, we went along for the ride and holding nothing back he gave us the pleasure of filling in a verbal delight, something totally unexpected but “Ducky” indeed, COPACETIC.

As if that wasn’t enough, he then discreetly skirted the Urban Dictionary take on SPREADEAGLE and niftily turned it into a G-rated angelic exercise in the snow (ditto for finessing the SCOOPERS that never left the ice cream parlor).

Just two more of particular note, first, the feint that took us away from the Montana Territory of the 1880’s and gave us Joe Montana, NINER and QB par excellence of the 1980’s, was a wonderful piece of misdirection.

And, finally, we were forced to wonder where the “Wicker seat place?” was, a VERANDA?, a summer COTTAGE?, no, neither works, but our constructor went above and beyond for this one that clued USSENATE, the esteemed body where Roger “Wicker”, Republican Senator from the great state of Mississippi is one of the elite 100.

SECADA, APOLAR, LITOTES, fuhgeddaboud ‘em THISINSTANT and just luxuriate in this magic universe Tom has created for us!

(Did I mention I liked this puzzle?).

Crux logger 9:44 AM  

Ditto protrude vs. extrude. Otherwise Friday-perfect.

evil doug 9:46 AM  

We at Delta wanted to make every effort to reach potential customers. Here was one such marketing attempt:

My fave ebonics definition, from the Urban Dictionary:

A poor excuse for a failure to grasp the basics of English. When in doubt, throw an "izzle" sound in the middle of any word of just string random thoughts together and insinuate that they actually mean something. When backed into a corner, you can always claim that it has something to do with a sort of symbolism or is a defining trait that makes your race great, versus owning up to the fact that it is essentially laziness at it's finest. Also of note is the almost complete lack of conjugation of verbs ("I be", "she be", "thems be", etc) and the mixing of pronouns. When spoken in any educated circles, its usage usually screams "I am illiterate."


JC66 9:46 AM  

Confusing/conflating Tom Wicker (NYT columnist) & Lowell Weiker (R-Conn) with Roger Wicker (R-Miss) made it easier for me to see 55A.

Never heard of LITOTES and hand up for KEENaN.

Urban Dictionary 9:51 AM  

@ED - That's one of my favorite entries too. For the record, it's also cited in the definition of "I'm not ___, but...". As in "I'm no racist, but..." meaning that the speaker is, in fact, racist.

Matthew G. 9:53 AM  

Frames of reference can be so different. I will never know half the entertainment-related celebrities that Rex does, but the Wicker clue was a gimme for me. US SENATE was my first entry in the SE corner, with no crosses. I have never lived near Mississippi. Political figures just stick in my brain in a way that old-timey actors and actresses just don't (which puts me at a severe disadvantage in many crosswords, if not today).

Mostly an easy Friday, but I finished with an error, KEENaN/LITOTaS, like so many others.

Pete 10:02 AM  

I wanted to come to the defense of ILLGOT, given that it was clued as old-style. I just now wanted to say it was clued as OLD-TIMEY, but that was my initial, wrong answer for 17A, and a much better entry that the (correct) OLDWORLD, and OLD-TIMEY stuck in my head.

Google NGRAMS almost came to the rescue, showing ILL GOT had a peak usage around 1830, up to around 1/4 the usage of ill gotten. However, all the citations were either in the King James version of the bible, Shakespeare, or dictionaries. Perhaps I just need to think of "old-style" as Shakespearean or KJVOTB.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

@rex I don't understand how number of hits on google determines legitimacy.

jberg 10:07 AM  

IMHO, a really good puzzle, which I really struggled with due to my having no idea whatsoever about JOE DANTE, and going with the Barney song "I love you" before I finally saw ALOUETTE.

My first experience was absolute dismay. I got all the way down to the gimme PARTITAS (which fortunately has one letter more than sonatas) before I could write anything in. (Those who don't found this a tough entry should go listen to one of them right now! You won't be sorry).

About two days ago my wife asked me if I knew the derivation of COPACETIC, so it was a delight to see that - and LITOTES! Once I dredged it from memory, I was truly impressed. (It's really more rhetoric than literature, though).
And @Kevin, I don't think it's a plural, just a Greek word that happens to end in es.

@ED - witty if vitriolic definition, but just for the record, that "izzie" stuff has nothing to do with Ebonics - it's a code language, kind of like pig latin, only you put the extra syllable in the middle of the word, rather than at the end. You can do the same thing with "ab" rather than "iz." They used to do the "ab" version on the old kids TV program Zoom! In my limited personal experience, white people use 'ab' and black people use 'iz,' but I've no idea how universal that is!

OK, we've covered rhetoric and linguistics - can't wait for Saturday!

Mr. Benson 10:16 AM  

Exactly the same experience as Sir Hillary above. Did fine for most of the puzzle but whiffed in the south-central part. Had ___DANTE, ___ENATE and ___ROSES. Having never heard of Joe Dante or Senator Wicker, and not knowing a synonym for "extrude," I was never gonna finish. Also had KEENAN.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:19 AM  

According to my Merriam Webster's, the singular of 39 D is "LITOTES", while the plural is "LITOTES."

Good puzzle, but a struggle for me. One write-over I haven't seen mentioned: 4 D, had NEW TO before NEW AT.

Elle54 10:33 AM  

I got KEENEN right cause I googled it. I have never heard of LITOTES before.
Messed up with ROEDANTE... Thinking extrude means extract so had RUT.
Fun puzzle!

orangeblossomspecial 10:35 AM  

I thought it appropriate that Joe Montana was clue 49A, and a NINER, as in the San Francisco 49ers.

My dad used to say everything was COPACETIC.

Carola 10:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tita 10:36 AM  

The mere addition of an "i" would have made USSENATE the obvious answer for we Nutmeggers. I did guess at it after a few crosses, and that helped in that corner - the second to fall.
Waltzed through the NW, then got really really stuck. Put it down overnight, then over breakfast - each pause made the hidden answers pop.

Felt wonderfully CEREBRAL to know GASENGINES from _A_____.

The recent snowfall has made snow angels a favorite a favoriite requirement when winning at hot-tub Truth or Dare.

Never knew TEAROSES were named for their scent. Is the same true for the YEWTREES they cross?

Perfect Friday for me - 1 really easy corner, one hard, one tough, one (nearly) impossible.

Finished with no googling.

Oops - KEENaN sb KEENEN - well close enough for me...

@Evan - a rare disagreement with you...everyone does almost anything as part of being at work. But SCOOPERS is indeed a fairly DEFINing part of working in an ice cream parlor as opposed to the Post Office.

Thanks Mr. Hellman.

Carola 10:38 AM  

If it's not ODDEST to feel rhapsodic about a crossword puzzle, well, that's how I feel. I echo @Anoa Bob - this word nerd's heart was very gladdened.

My experience agrees with @Rex's rating of medium-easyOSE. A red-letter day for me, when one entry in each quadrant opened up the rest: EBONICS, ET ALII, MADONNAS and LITOTES (medieval German literature is replete with this device - one of my favorite things about the style). Last square was the A in the SEDACA/APOLAR cross- a lucky guess.

The "JUT" meaning for "extrude" has come up a couple of times before. I resist it every time. Had to run the alphabet to remember it today.

@loren - I look forward to following your link later today. Have to get underway now to explore the big city - the one with ELS.

10:36 AM

lawprof 10:40 AM  

First time through - both acrosses and downs - I had only three entries (ELI, ALFIE and PINKO) and was staring at a lot of white space. Then got a toehold at GAL, which gave me [some-kind-of]AGE, and the whole puzzle appeared gradually out of the mist.

A couple of writeovers (PAvannes/PARTITAS, comPEL/PROPEL) held me up for a while, but slogged away until the finish.

This was a wonderful, challenging puzzle for a Friday, but I ended with a DNF with the KEENeN/LITOTaS crossing. Still, a fair fight; I just got beat.

I suppose people can say whatever they want on this blog, but sometimes a comment crosses the line. We have one commentator (and we all know who he is), a self-proclaimed provocateur, whom we've indulged (or ignored) in the past, but today's rant was beyond the pale. And it's no defense, in my view, that he was simply purporting to quote from an on-line source. He's certainly entitled to voice his racist, or misogyinistic or otherwise lunatic views on this or any other site on the web, but I feel compelled to call him on it.

Sandy K 10:47 AM  


Two Ponies 11:03 AM  

Giving illiteracy a fancy title does not mean it should be accepted.

evil doug 11:03 AM  

"He's certainly entitled to voice his racist, or misogyinistic or otherwise lunatic views on this or any other site on the web, but I feel compelled to call him on it."

All right, now I'm going to call you on it.

To casually accuse me of being 'racist, or misogynistic, or otherwise lunatic' seems a little rash, particularly given the grand title you assign yourself here. Do you teach your students to jump to such extreme conclusions based on blog commentary? Do you truly know me? Shall we toss out the first amendment, law prof? Is satire the same as fact---and a legitimate basis for judging anyone?

And if one is truly concerned with, say, the particularly high rate of unemployment and incarceration among blacks, and believes one practical way to help break through these barriers is via the teaching of and, yes, proper application of the English language, then how is that racist (or misogynistic---or was that simply a term you threw in there to further try to sell your inadequate and fully bogus argument)?

You call yourself a lawyer? Remind me never to ask you for legal assistance, you hypocritical goof.


lawprof 11:15 AM  

I rest my case.

Jonathan Swift 11:29 AM  

@ED - You've suggested a few times that you consider what you do to be satire.

I would like to, humbly, suggest that you've not the slightest idea of what satire is, your orginal post of today being a case in point.

David 11:37 AM  

I think extrude as a clue for JUT can't be right. Extrude means to push, especially as a manufacturing process. It doesn't mean to stick out.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:45 AM  

@David - My paper Webster's Unabridged says of EXTRUDE - vi 1 a : to jut out as or as if a result of being extruded

Carola 11:51 AM  

@David and @ Bob Kerfuffle -The Oxford English Dictionary has a vivid citation for this sense of "extrude":
"The great fount, the basin of which...extrudes like a large boil from the plain." (1865)

cheeseguy 12:09 PM  

Constant reader (lurker) here, rarely comment. I for one do enjoy ED's somewhat twisted attempts at humor on here for the most part. Too many people need to pull their "politically correct" heads out of the sand.
Also, very enjoyable puzzle today.

Jonathan Swift 12:17 PM  

@ED - Let me ammend my statement. If your Seinfeld citations are meant as satire on The Bard's citations, then you have surely injected satire into the comments.

Rob C 12:25 PM  

Nice puzzle. Not too much in the way of great fill, but more than made up for it with clever clues - Very enjoyable.

NE corner was most difficult for me. Initially put Somalia for 10D and Fantastic for 11D which led me nowhere - but I was able to recover. Thought I nailed it until I came here and saw that I had the same KEENaN/LITOTaS mistake as many others. I print out the PDF to solve, so no happy pencil to help me.

I guess if you can't cut it as a SCARER in a fun house, you can be a SCOOPER today.

Briefly thought Thornton Wilder was an ELf while earning his degree.

Is JOE DANTE really crossworthy? I'm not a big movie buff, but I usually have some recognition of a name.

Masked and Anonymo2Us 12:26 PM  

KEENUN/LITOTUS. Excluding any confusion that knowledge might provide, that there pair is rock solid.
Allow me to state my case...

Exhibit A. LITOT?S is clued as singular. This would seem to sumarily rule out ?=A,E, or O. Plus, the Sumarians would probably dismiss LITOTAS as too Tex-Mex restaurant-soundin', in any case. Not to mention that LITOTOS woulda naturally been clued as an obscure Jackson relative, plus namesakes. Smart dudes, those Sumarians.

Exhibit B. So is it I or U? LITOTIS is semiwellknown as a drinkin' disorder, named after the Mayberry town drunk, so that is sumarily also ruled out.

Exhibit U. Consider the lovely U. Shapely. As in this grid, so rarely gets the vowelish respect it so richly deserves. LITOTUS. It just rings true. Gotta be.

Exhibit V. On the flipside, consider KEEN?N Wayans. KEEN ON would be cute, and KEENAN is good enough for the Wynns, but we've already seen those choices slain by the Sumarians. So any other choice is just sorta pick'em calibre, at best. So no additional help, there.


Upper two thirds of this puz just purred along like a lap cat. Fight came in the SW. Always happens, when the Sumarians is involved.

Lewis 12:48 PM  

orangeblossom -- good catch!

I'm with @jackj word for word on this one. A high quality experience, solving this. I Naticked on SECADA/APOLAR. Found much of the solve smooth, and some gritty. I did get USSENATE, and figured that the seats in the Senate are wicker by tradition, and thought that was a cool thing to learn (and now, to unlearn).

Superb puzzle, Tom!

mac 1:00 PM  

Medium for me, since I did the same Keenan thing so many did, but in general it went pretty smoothly.

The J in jut was the last one to fall, but I have to admit to having a G there for a second. Joe Dante is unknown to me, as is the protrude meaning of extrude.

I was the most surprised by "step-in", I haven't seen that word in ages.

GILL I. 1:01 PM  

Well, I'm not unhappy with this puzzle!- nary a word I didn't like...
LITOTES sounds a bit like "little tosies." EBONICS...Leave it to the Oakland B. of Sups. and its proposal to introduce Ebonics into the classroom. A ton of hilarious ads and commercials (my favorite is the Delta Airlines one) ensued. Happily, the proposal was not COPACETIC.
I wonder how many kids who worked at Dairy Queen have included SCOOPER in their resumes?
Fun, fun puzzle with only two googles. SECADA and JOE DANTE were my headscratchers. Wanted jockies for my undies but I guess they aren't so quaint.
Thanks to Joe Montana my husband and I became huge American football fans...
Gracias Tom Heilman. Can we have some more?

syndy 1:08 PM  

@ Mitford, a 'Pinko" was somebody soft on communism such as, say ,the ACLU.If one objected in anyway to what McCarthy or Hoover were doing you were "abetting the Enemy"

Nameless 2:22 PM  

Not my cuppa nor wheelhouse - DNF

JUT (stick out like a sore thumb) does not equal EXTRUDE (push out like hot steel through a die)
OSE (sweet) does not equal ISH (kinda)
JOE DANTE? Really?!
Traditional is OLD SCHOOL not OLD WORLD (which is “long time ago”)
I hate it when PUT can be either present or past tense and I guess wrong
SCOOPERS? Really?! Why do constructors do stuff like this? I should start working on my resume – I can include TYPER, SITTER, STANDER, PRINTER, WALKER, TALKER
How the hell does Wicker seat area equal US SENATE?! Oh, Roger Wicker. Whatever.
Those gains are ILL-GOTTEN

I loved the clues for 29A and 49A. I also like COPACETIC - I used to say it a lot in high school

What this great country needs is more education. Starting at home with the parents, children should learn respect. Respect for elders. Respect for each other. Respect for family. Parents should also be educating their children the basics (alphabet, colors, etc.) at home as soon as they learn to speak. Just one example - my friend teaches kindergarten and she has 2 students that did not know the letters of the alphabet when they came to class.

This world would be a much better place if everyone was a little smarter and showed a little more respect.

Looking forward to the long weekend. TTFN

James D. Cormier 3:04 PM  


chefwen 3:04 PM  

Last night I actually thought I was going to finish a Friday puzzle without Googling. I was wrong! I even kept it overnight figuring I would be able to finish this morning. I was wrong again! Tripped up by some unknown senator and the OSE/ESA crossing. So close and yet so far. I Googled KEENEN and still wrote in KEENaN, go figure.

GILL I. 4:08 PM  

@Loren. I had seen this before but I have to say the second time around makes it even more hilarious. The hand gestures - the expressions....What a great belly laugh. Thanks.

OISK 4:25 PM  

I like to distinguish between a single missed square, (Keenan, like many others) and a true DNF like last Saturday where I couldn't fill in most of the SW. Very fine puzzle, even though I never heard of Joe Dante, Keenan Wayans or Jon Secada. Don't know whether I would have finished the SW had I not remembered the French film La Femme Nikita. Still, a very fine puzzle, clever clues, minimal crosswordese. Good work, Mr. Heilman!

sanfranman59 4:31 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 21:43, 21:25, 1.01, 57%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 14:05, 12:23, 1.14, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Gaius Julius Caesar 4:45 PM  

Whatever happened to the Roman Empire I created and loved? We were once the proud leaders of much of most of the known world, and it's come to this. The final piece, other that Italy proper, we laid claim to was ERITREA. ERITREA, a piece of land so shitty that neither The Sudan nor Ethiopia wanted it. You know how bad somethings got to be when an Ethiopian would say to you "It's ok, you take it. I've got enough already". Ethiopians fight to the death for a piece of goat turd, because that at least you can dry and then burn so maybe you won't freeze over night. They didn't even want ERITREA.

I left them with Britan, all of Gaul, all of the Iberian Penninsula, all of the Mediterranean, half of central Asia, and they couldn't even hang on to ERITREA?


Milford 4:55 PM  

Thanks, @syndy! I get it better now. PINKO = red-like. Or perhaps reddish. Or is that redose?

Sandy 5:24 PM  

And it was those darn PARTITAS that made me think LITOTAS and KEENAN were right.

@Rob C
Still picturing Thornton Wilder as an ELf!

Anonymous 10:57 PM  

Never heard of "litotes", but got it by crossing. Usually there's some doubt about getting unknown words with several crosses, but these crosses simply couldn't have been anything else. Came here to find out WTH "litotes" were...

sanfranman59 2:07 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 6:43, 6:08, 1.10, 86%, Challenging
Tue 7:07, 8:28, 0.84, 8%, Easy
Wed 13:03, 11:52, 1.10, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 15:15, 17:02, 0.90, 27%, Easy-Medium
Fri 22:21, 21:27, 1.04, 65%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:59, 3:40, 1.09, 84%, Challenging
Tue 4:25, 4:54, 0.90, 13%, Easy
Wed 7:27, 6:34, 1.13, 83%, Challenging
Thu 8:05, 9:43, 0.83, 17%, Easy
Fri 13:25, 12:23, 1.08, 64%, Medium-Challenging

Joseph B 4:39 PM  

I, too, blew the KEEN_N/LITOT_S cross, which I'm kicking myself for, having talked myself out of the "E." Now if the clue had been something like "Minnesota tribe," LITOTAS would have been the better guess.

Got hung up in the NE because I was convinced "Mower handle?" was DEATH. (Reaper=Mower?)

All and all, a very skillful puzzle with no terrible fill or even any crosswordese. (I had no problem with ILLGOT, since Shakespeare and Sophocles used it. Hard to get more old-style than that.)

Joseph B 4:40 PM  

Well - I should say the translation of Sophocles used it.

Joseph B 4:47 PM  

@Masked and Anonymo2Us - Hilarious. Sounds a lot like my struggles on that cross, though I confess the Sumarians were not involved. I considered U because of the singular cluing as well, but KEENUN seemed too unlikely.

ZenMonkey 6:05 PM  

In linguistics, "ebonics" is known as AAVE (African-American Vernacular English). It's a true dialect because it has regular grammatical forms that differ from American English. Whether or not it belongs in classrooms is a whole other question, but blowing it off as just a bunch of crap that people make up is 100% wrong. It's nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with linguistic accuracy.

So maybe the poster in question is not racist, but simply wildly ignorant about this subject. Which often look exactly alike.

DMGrandma 2:40 PM  

Lots of stuff here I'm not familiar with, but a lot of guesses helped with things like SECADA and APOLAR. Fell into the KEENaN error, and ended up with NEWto. Never heard of PARTITAS, and just didn't see the error at OLEtN. On the other hand only two bad squares on a Friday is good for me! On the other hand, I just failed the Captcha, seems there's no learning curve there!

Dirigonzo 5:33 PM  

KEENaN, of course, but I seem to be the only one who ended up with JeEDANTE, since -eSE seemed more like -ish to me. I still don't see how -OSE works.

In the McCarthy era, a truly ugly time in our history, Commies were Reds and anybody who sympathized with them was labelled a PINKO. It seems some would like to go back to those days. (It's pretty cool that PINKO croseed NIKITA Krushchev though.)

Waxy in Montreal 9:20 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Waxy in Montreal 9:22 PM  

DEERE me. PARTITAS/LITOTES may sound like a song from The Lion King but they were part of my swansong. Along with a litany of others. In fact, were it not for ERITREA, this might well have been a DNS (did not start) rather than a DNF for me. Went down like the USS ENATE...

Bring on Saturday.

Dirigonzo 10:05 PM  

@Waxy - excellent post, as always, but worthy of posting twice? Perhaps the captcha is playing games with you which makes me wonder - what have you done to offend the borg?

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