Matadors red capes / FRI 3-15-13 / Zaxxon maker / Gerais Brazilian state / corde piano pedaling direction / Doris Day film with song Ten Cents Dance / Pliable protein / Crescent-shaped bodies / What a biblical black horseman symbolizes

Friday, March 15, 2013

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: MULETAS (28A: Matadors' red capes) —
A short red cape suspended from a hollow staff, used by a matador to maneuver a bull during the final passes before a kill.

[Spanish, small mule, crutch, muleta, diminutive of mula, she-mule, from Latin mūla, feminine of mūlus, mule.]

Read more:
• • •

If your puzzle requires a MULETAS / MINAS crossing, then your puzzle is not worth making. It's that simple.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Unknown 12:04 AM  

WOW Rex.

jae 12:05 AM  

Impressive grid and a medium Fri. for me,  but not much zip, i.e. no chuckles or hot damns, I can't believe he did that.  Which, I assume is the result of the four intersecting double 15s.

Liked GROANER, TO EARTH,  and a Miami Vice actor I actually remember. 

Awful cross:  What Rex said, but I knew MULATAS.

God awful cross:  MENISCI/NIT.   I wanted tIT but MEtISCI looked weird so I gave it to my bride and she try NIT because the MENISCUS in the knee is crescent shaped.  So, I technically DNF. 

C. Ross Word 12:07 AM  

I couldn't agree more. Narrowed it down to c, m, r and v; guessed v. Ruined my perfect (so far) week. Probably the worst cross in over eight years of solving the puzzle on a daily basis. A real GROANER!

JFC 12:11 AM  

LOL, Rex....


Mike from DC 12:19 AM  

Is that a record for fewest black squares/most white squares in a non-Sunday NYT puzzle?

Played easier than a normal Friday, save for the MULETAS/MINAS crossing (where I vaguely remembered the "m" in both words) and MENISCI, where I made the same initial error as jae.

jackj 12:35 AM  

Thinking Joe’s puzzle deserves more than one and one-half sentences, let me add:

When Joe Krozel’s name pops up as the constructor and it just happens to be March 15th, beware the Ides of March because there is mischief afoot, without any doubt.

First hint is the fullness of the puzzle; all those white squares and they’re going to need letters in them that make sense. Well, if Joe can do that we can surely suss them out, too.

According to XWordInfo, that is Joe’s gimmick today, limiting the black squares in a 15X15 puzzle to 18 in number, second all-time lowest only to his own 17 black square puzzle of last year. Seems about as exciting as making paperclip necklaces but it does make for some interesting wordplay.

First entry for me was the Bowie clue for TOEARTH and both its placement in the puzzle and its facilitation of the solve, made it seem like the keystone of an arch as, flowing easily from there were RANDS, SEGMENTS, INSTANTS and HERDS (and a keen-eyed type would immediately harrumph and note “That’s sure a lot of plurals!” and one problem of the puzzle would be revealed).

Getting OVERESTIMATIONS, RECAPITULATIONS and IMAGINATIVENESS were less achievements than thoughts of grade school smart alecks trying to dazzle their classmates with the glory of knowing ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM. Didn’t work then, doesn’t dazzle now.

Fortunately, the across 15’s are livelier with AVERAGEAMERICAN, LOVEMEORLEAVEME and STOODONONESTOES but my favorite entry was, as ever with me, a little, clever 4 letter answer cluing the lovely MONA Lisa.

What crossword convention will you be shattering next, Joe?

Davis 12:39 AM  

Agree with Rex's sentiment.

Also, I had never heard of the pizza brand CELESTE, which made RATEL and SERINE shots in the dark.

I wish I could say I had fun despite those spots, but I can't.

Southie 12:44 AM  

I will salvage, note the 'l', not savage, this puzzle in my mind by positing that the Brazilian state "MINAS Gerais" is Portugese for the hot feeling a man gets in his pants watching the girl from Ipanema sashaying towards the beach, a feeling that leaves GUNKY AREAS in his pants.

Evan 12:48 AM  

I too had to guess at that awful MULETAS/MINAS cross, but was lucky to get it right. I was going back and forth between M and P, but honestly, I wouldn't blame anyone for guessing pretty much any damn consonant there.

Strangely, I actually had a pretty fast solving time on this one. I get the feeling that the more open a themeless grid is, the easier time I'll have with it -- I think it has to do with the fact that if I can get one of the words in a 15-letter answer, I can usually suss out the rest of it. That doesn't help for answers like RECAPITULATIONS, though.

Leaving aside the MULETAS/MINAS cross just for a second, there is some good stuff in there. LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, AVERAGE AMERICAN, GOVERNOR CLINTON, ON MERIT, PINE NUT, INIMICAL, and even though I don't care for GROANER as a straight-up answer, I liked its clue.

But there's just way, way too much GUNK for my liking: MCMII, LIC, RATEL, SERINE, ELASTIN, MENISCI, NOT WITH (feels like a partial), TWO IN (is a partial), INSANER, RANDS, BID IN (?), RESAT, TEN ONES (seems a little contrived, just 34,000 hits in quotes on Google), CONNIVES AGAINST (885 hits, only 9,800 for the singular CONNIVE AGAINST), IMAGINATIVENESS (can't imagine anyone really says this word), and OVERESTIMATIONS (plural?). Aside from the aforementioned three grid-spanners that I liked, the others don't really do much for me. STOOD ON ONE'S TOES isn't the most exciting phrase, although the present tense STAND ON ONE'S TOES does get more traction in a web search. And again, all of those problems don't even take into account the MULETAS/MINAS crossing.

I dunno, I guess I'm like Rex in that I just prefer themeless puzzles with higher word counts and answers that really pop.

Pete 12:50 AM  

Earlier this evening I was thinking about my own personal Bucket List. Most people think of their Bucket List as things they want to do before they die. They even made a movie about it.

My Bucket List is things I want to die before I do. You know, forget your kid's names, have to wear diapers, that short of thing. If you think about it, it's probably a more important list than the standard fantasy crap. I had 15 real, significant entries by 9:00 PM.

By doing this puzzle, I've failed my Bucket List, i.e., I did this puzzle before I died

Anonymous 1:05 AM  

I did it in 38 minutes and thought it was easy. You should know that a meniscus, singular, is a crescent shape. Admittedly, I who speak Spanish know that one sense of the meaning of muleta is "cape." If you don't, that's just tuffnutz.

Anonymous 1:05 AM  

I did it in 38 minutes and thought it was easy. You should know that a meniscus, singular, is a crescent shape. Admittedly, I who speak Spanish know that one sense of the meaning of muleta is "cape." If you don't, that's just tuffnutz.

Anonymous 1:08 AM  

MULETAS/MINAS got me as well... I filled in a 'B'.

Why in the hell wasn't MINAS clued as ___ Tirith (from Lord of the Rings) ????

That is gettable, at least way more than a state in Brazil.

Anonymous 1:12 AM  

At first I though 23D clue was an error. The comet is spelled Halley's not Haley.

But apparently it was referring to this music group I never heard of

Brendan McNamara 1:16 AM  

Criticize the puzzle all you want, RATEL don't care.

Anonymous 1:18 AM  

If Rex had known one of those words he wouldn't have had a hissy fit, which just goes to show how ratings for puzzles are hard to disentangle from how one does.

Cheer up Rex, your real job is a cake walk with benefits.

Carola 1:33 AM  

Enjoyed grappling with this one, though I DNF: I went with pULETAS/ pINAS, despite being suspicious of the cross with PINENUT. Got off to a very slow start, not trusting EGOTIST and ON MERIT enough to write them in; first past through the Acrosses yielded only LAGO and BLOBS. But the L in LAGO got me EVIL OMEN and that was enough to give me traction.

One do-over: RyanS (because of the earlier Paul Ryan/Rean) -->RANDS.

Favorite faked-me-out clue: Small grouse. I was sure it referred to the bird, even after I saw NIT in the grid (got it from crosses): "Wait, a small grouse is called a nit?" Then the light went on.

Serendipitous neighbors:

With the Doris Day clue, I wonder if anyone else thought of "Que SERA SERA."

@Pete - I like your bucket list.
@Anonymous 1:12 - Thanks, I didn't get that.

Alcove Clinton Menisci 1:45 AM  

@Anon 1:12am
You prob have heard of Bill Haley and the Comets...
Think "One Oclock, two Oclock rock Three oclock rock...gonna rock aound the clock tonight"

Does MAMA CELESTE ring more of a bell?

Took me an hour and a half and was thrilled to finish, last square was indeed the M in MULETAS with a faint P pencilled in, just in case!

Good workout.
I prefer @rex's one sentence dismissal to a death of 1000 cuts. It's more a reflection on him than the puzzle.

My first instinct was MONA but since that means "my", I settled on LisA as being "The First Name". so, painfully slow going...

Also William J same amount of letters as GOVERNOR.

Lots of Vs...
Only thing I didn't really love was having both MCMII and PARTII, as it seemed the II was the same in both somehow. But something like INIMICAL more than makes up for that.

Cooler than the record fewest black squares is how the grid is laid out. Two stacks of 15s crossing two stacks, crossing two stacks, so those downs had to cross two sets of two 15s...a m a z i n g.

Deep breath, everyone, and really look at the grid.
Monumental achievement, no?

Liked BLOBS, the evocative GUNKY, FAMINE's clue and TO EARTH (Who doesn't love Bowie in his glitterrock phase?

Greg Charles 2:00 AM  

Strange, except for the MULETAS/MINAS natick, I found this absurdly easy for a Friday. I was done in 20 minutes and just staring at that one letter. If it had been clued as ____ Tirith of Gondor, I would have got a personal best.

ahsieh 2:25 AM  

Is there a rule on when it's okay not to have rotational symmetry? Usually that only happens when there are "shapes" like hearts or trees hidden in the puzzle. Or does the 18-square gimmick qualify?

chefwen 3:06 AM  

@Greg Charles - I doff my hat to you. Two hours and twenty minutes was more my speed.

Thus ends my Googless week.

Puhleese, INSANER? I don't ever want to see that word again. I know it's legit, but still.

Almost fell out of my chair seeing all the white stuff coming out of my printer, might have thrown in the towel at that point, but the stubbornness in me kicked in and we got the sucker done.

Thanks Joe, you owe me two aspirin.

jae 3:49 AM  

Re: Geez, I feel like an idiot:

@Carola -- I was also faked out until I read your post. Dang I should have caught that.

@Anon 1:12 @Carola again @Andrea -- Bill HALEY, of course, D'oh! (even though I got it right via mediocre spelling skills).

Loren Muse Smith 6:08 AM  

Congratulations to all of you who finished this one! I got *nowhere*. Had NAM, NIT, MATISSE, REmet, and a smattering of pathetic S’s. Since it’s Friday, I dismissed (morning, @Carola!) MONA, and that same wariness should have made me erase “pumpkin.”

I guess 15A will be the sentiment of the day: LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME. I don’t have the confidence to pan a puzzle like this; I just shrug and chalk it up to a lack of solving chops. So @Rex’ write-up is a great relief for me. I know the accomplished solvers could finish, but apparently NOT WITH pleasure for many. For me, it was definitely more FAMINE than feast. This seemed like a beastly hard Saturday!

I have a very good friend named MINAS, but I sure didn’t see that one.

I’ve never seen SERINE. Same root as SERA?

My hat’s off to you, Joe, for filling a grid with only 18 squares.

webwinger 6:10 AM  

For some reason, maybe because I finished under 40 minutes, near record for a Friday (without googles!), I really enjoyed this. Like others, dithered in the end at the MINAS/MULETAS crossing, but somehow the M felt like more than a wild guess—think I must have heard at least one of these words once. Medical background made ELASTIN, MENISCI, SERINE relatively easy. Thought the HALEY clue was great. Was impressed by the arrangement and overall quality of the 15s. Didn’t notice the odd symmetry until it was pointed out by @ahsieh, but I’m in a forgiving mood.

BTW, had dinner last night at a restaurant capped by a fabulous BABA au rhum, prompting flashback to Wednesday. If only that restaurant had been OPERA, once a favorite Chicago eatery, now sadly closed…

Danp 6:23 AM  

As someone who doesn't think that Crossword Cliche is a wonderful dialect, Minas is much fairer than Brno, Omsk, Bari, etc. It actually is a large Brazilian state with a lot of history and culture. And Mulata is as fair as the Hebrew alphabet or months. Of course, I suppose you have to be a bit of a sadist to know the vocabulary of bullfighting.

Evgeny 6:33 AM  

I'm starting to get the hang of this. Whenever a hard, out of one's wheelhouse, crossing comes up on a day other than a Saturday, the puzzle is crap. On a Saturday, it's either crap or enjoyably hard, depending on how far out of one's wheelhouse the answers are and, also, on whether one managed to make the right guess.

Thought the MINAS/MULETAS crossing was one of the easier spots, since I instantly knew both. Admittedly, didn't know much about Minas Gerais other than its name and its capital Belo Horizonte. But hey, it was enough, and Wikipedia tells me it's as large as France, so doesn't seem too unfair a game on a Friday. I imagine a Brazilian puzzle asking for "West ____ (U.S. state), or whatever it is in Portuguese, and don't think that would be unfair.

That said, I didn't finish on account of two other crossings being too tough for me. Still liked the puzzle.

MetaRex 6:49 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
MetaRex 7:15 AM  

Poll results on the ethics of MetaRexian google-solving
here's a tie, more or less...

Call to can be the one to break the tie...

MetaRex 7:21 AM  

Flew over MINAS-MULETAS, was driven insane by MENISCI-NIT. CrossWorld and CrossOver ratings at My small grouse

OldCarFudd 7:44 AM  

It's all in what you know. I knew Minas Gerais (it means general mines in Portuguese). If the clue had been that thingy from Lord of the Rings, my comment might have been more like Rex's. Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

Well said, Rex. I would much rather read a brief dismissal that lets me know how you felt rather than a long grisly dissection of why.

John V 8:03 AM  

Got killed; got nowhere at all with this puppy. This would have been rough for a Saturday. Not a pleasant way to start the weekend.

Glimmerglass 8:23 AM  

Sour grapes, Rex?

orangeblossomspecial 8:31 AM  

15A LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME was a biopic about Ruth Etting, here singing her signature 'Ten cents a dance'.

Ted Weems did a song on 37A 'Cobblestones'.

Thanks to Anonymous at 1:12 am, here is 23D Bill Haley's 'Rock around the clock'.

Jeff 8:36 AM  

Anyone who has read Hemingway should have known MULETA. But I thought IMAGINITIVENESS was horrible. If a student wrote that, I'd suggest IMAGINATION instead.

GILL I. 8:46 AM  

I'm a JK junky and this here puzzle didn't let me down. I always try and use my IMAGINATIVENESS (phew - what a word) when solving his puzzles.
My Googles though were ELASTIN MENISCI and SERINE. Loved GUNKY FUNKS BLOBS. No problema with MULETAS and MINAS and agree PARTII and MCMII were GROANERs.
I'm glad senor @Rex wasn't too INIMICAL.......

imsdave 8:59 AM  

Having had two cartilage surgeries, you might have thought I could have figured out MENISCI. You would have thought incorrectly.

Like jae, I had tIT. Unlike jae, I didn't get rescued by my wife.

Guessed the 'M' correctly, though it sounded more like a food item (muffaletta?) than a cape.

Peter in Chicago 9:05 AM  

I am surprised that no one has mentioned the grid's asymmetry.

This was a DNF because of the ?ULETAS/?INAS crossing, and I could have lashed out, but reflecting about the puzzle ON MERIT it is impossible to be INIMICAL to its IMAGINATIVENESS.

The very first answer I wrote was AVERAGE AMERICAN and that started a cascade of solving that was completely enjoyable. I love it when a puzzle puts you in a zone like that.

Real Fact(oid)s 9:08 AM  

I don't understand the furor over MULETAS. It's a well know fact that, after a failed bull fight, the matadors were forced to wear their MULETAS on their head, cape to the back. Over years, this became the hair style the mullet, the sign of a total loser.

Orange 9:10 AM  

Listen, anonymous 1:18 and Glimmerglass: I extracted the M in MULETAS from some cobwebby corner of a brain that's done crosswords for ovr 30 years, and finished the puzzle error-free in 6:37. And I can't say I cared for it much more than Rex. He's not bitching because the puzzle beat him, he's bitching because that is a terrible crossing.

Like Rex, I find that the worth of a crossword lies in the stuff inside the white squares, not whatever is happening with the black squares.

evil doug 9:13 AM  

Wow, shortest review ever---didn't know you had it in you, JackJ....

Carola: Piña means pineapple in Spanish (and, I figured, perhaps something similar in Portuguese?), so I concluded that was a legit possibility in spite of the 'pine nuts'. When I did my alphabet run I jotted down 'm', but replaced it with 'p' three letters later....

The only one to whom this is a monumental achievement is Mr. Krozel---or someone who never met a puzzle they couldn't praise with *over-estimations*. Speaking of *egotists*....


dk 9:31 AM  

Bom dia! Knowing a little Portuguese sure helped.

As a superior person I not only do not watch TV… I make my own pizza. No Idea on CELESTE.

INIMICAL (aka Rex's write up) is the word-o-day for this x-word cowboy. I was able to guess MULETAS (aka what Joe waved in front of Rex) once I realized what flippin comets we were talkin about.

Note - there was a comet last night. Perhaps an EVILOMEN.

So for all of you who missed the many references to the Ides of March in this puzzle we are coming to reclaim your Mensa cards. Wait! That sound. It is a knock on your door: Candygram for Mr. Parker :)

👿👿👿 (3 IMPS) Not one single sports clue. I'm calling Tobias to share the joy.

retired_chemist 9:32 AM  

Medium-challenging but I lucked out.

Once I got a toehold in the SE with PART II, NAM, REmet (RESAT) and SEGo (SEGA) then _______ONE'S TOES and ______AGAINST were easy to infer. That gave me good shots at the long downs in the E, which turned out to be right. And, all of a sudden, a lot of white space was filled in. I just built from there.

Knew MINAS Gerais. Vaguely recalled MULETAS and it worked.

Time was 14:01, much better than I should have got without the luck.

Oscar 9:33 AM  

"Uncle!" Basta! Enough already!

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

Funny, I actually would give this puzzle a grade A for 95% of it, and a D minus for the last bit. I was loving the puzzle, and found it quite easy (finished in under 11), but MULETAS/MINAS, RATEL, and SERINE were just awful. Was there really no way to fix those spots?

Howard B 9:37 AM  

Dude. Harsh.

Sir Hillary 9:37 AM  

I ripped Joe Krozel pretty hard for stunt construction when he gave us an asymmetrical five-stack-of-15s a number of Saturdays ago. Today's puzzle offended me a lot less (didn't even notice the asymmetry until I was halfway through) but there's still more than a whiff of "look Ma!" in this one.

I could live with MINAS/MULETAS if the rest were sparkling. But no -- LIC, INSANER, RESAT, MCMII, PARTII, TWOIN, IMA...blecch. Even the dual -ATIONS among the 15s feels like a dupe.

So all in all, not my favorite by a mile. Hardly a calamity either, though. OldCarFudd has it right with his Knopfler lyric reference.

Jeff 9:41 AM  

I fear that Rex's blog is sucking all the fun out of my crossword puzzling. Every single time I'm impressed by a puzzle constructor's ingenuity and my cleverness, Rex finds a way to trash it. Can anyone recommend another crossword blog I might try instead?

efrex 9:43 AM  

Eh, I've probably seen worse. Granted, I don't expect to finish Friday or Saturday puzzles in one sitting, so I'm not quite as (Na)ticked off as Fearless Leader on the MINAS/MULETAS crossing. Everything else (except for the SE) fell through remarkably quickly for me on this one, so I'm just gonna look at all the white space that I *did* manage to fill and not NIT-pick Mr. Krozel to death.

Elle54 9:51 AM  

This took me over 2 hours so I was happy to see Acme's time. Had 2 trouble spots. MINAS/ MULETAS and had TIT instead of NIT. Just like a lot of you. Did anyone see what Rex put on Facebook? He does not like this puzzle!

Katzzz 9:58 AM  

Seems to me "To Earth" isn't "how" David Bowie's character fell, but "where." Not a big problem (like most of the rest of this puzzle), but needlessly obfuscatory.

Michael Hanko 10:06 AM  

This puzzle is not asymmetrical. It is bilaterally symmetrical around a line drawn from the upper left corner to the lower right one.

It takes some imaginativeness to structure a puzzle in such a non-traditional way.

B Donohue 10:12 AM  

I finished, albeit with a few silly mistakes, which included MENISCI and SERINE, which is embarrassing given that I am very familiar with the science of both of them.

Both MULETAS and MINAS seem vaguely familiar post-solve (perhaps from everyday life, perhaps from crosswords), but the cross was a Natick for me. I understand Rex's frustration.

Rex- Get back on the horse tomorrow and congrats again on your ACPT finish!

Robso 10:16 AM  

Ha ha! Nice, Rex. My problem was the Southeast.

Matthew G. 10:17 AM  

Agree with Rex. I worked late last night and decided to print out the Friday puzzle to do on the way home, and the capper to a rough day was seeing Joe Krozel's name at the top. I know he's a smart guy who puts a lot of effort into making a puzzle with this few black squares, but the result is usually not something I enjoy solving.

I actually knew MINAS Gerais because I'm a geography buff, but that doesn't make the crossing any less horrible, and I struggled to realize that the Comets in question were Bill HALEY's. Was also slowed down by trying TEN ACES instead of TEN ONES, since I figured the "Hamilton" in that clue meant there had to be another slang term, but no ...

Lindsay 10:21 AM  

Best Rex write-up ever.

Signed, the 157th Greatest Crossword Solver in the Universe.

bigsteve46 10:45 AM  

I also don't get the fuss over the "Muleta/Minas" cross. To me, the "Sega/Serine" was worse - as are similar ones in virtually every Friday or Saturday puzzle. It just depends on an individual's areas of strength and weakness.

We have a large Brazilian population around here and most of the them come from Minas Gerais (I do a little immigration law work) and, as someone pointed out, even the most cursory acquaintance with Hemingway (or the recently departed Barnaby Conrad) should hear the ring of a faint bell for "muleta."

Anyway, its Rex's blog and his "my-way-or-the-highway" attitude is perfectly acceptable. (By the way I missed the "sega/serine" - put in a "z." Don't do video games and got my C in biology about 50 years ago - had amino acids even been discovered then?)

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

I looked up the Doris Day film right away to give me a way in. From there it wasn't too bad. Menisci had me pretty confused.

MikeM 10:53 AM  

Hated the puzzle. DNF. But it is always good to see an oft-overlooked Springsteen song included.

Two Ponies 11:04 AM  

This one really put up a fight but I enjoyed it. That pesky M was not my trouble spot. I was hung up thinking the crescent-shaped thing was a lunette or something moon-like. Besides that, L is a Roman numeral.
@ Pete, I like your reverse bucket list. I just don't agree that this puzzle belongs on it.
The Man Who Fell to Earth had a big impact on me. I wonder if it has stood the test of time. No idea where I might find it.
@ Rex, you really surprised me today.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

To all the Krozel fanboys out there: if you didn't like today's write-up, with its record-breaking low word count for a blog post and disagreeable content, well, now you know how everyone else feels when they see a Krozel puzzle.

Just visiting the old hometown 11:20 AM  


Rex lists several other xword blog sites on his main page.

Explore them and you'll find some former Rexville denizens that have emigrated for reason such as yours.

Cheerio 11:21 AM  

I loved this puzzle. I didn't finish it in the SE, but the rest of it had a quality that if you kept thinking about it, you would gradually figure it out. I love that type of a solve, though I didn't have enough time today to figure out the SE. This quality is also what I like about Steve Berry puzzles.

Milford 11:22 AM  

Got killed by this one, had to google too many times. After the first pass I had only a smattering of terminal Ss and SERINE in place (@lms - I don't think SERA and SERINE are related words). I then began to think how it was the Ides of March and began to panic.

Did not know the Doris Day nor the David Bowie movies, and the frozen pizza name is a complete unknown to me.

But I can appreciate how seasoned solvers could love this, so I just wait until my day comes that I can crush this type of puzzle.

Really wanted the Honey Badger clue to be more current to the You Tube clip somehow.

Unknown 11:33 AM  

As usual with puzzles like this, I go into it with teeth gritted. All that white space just freaks me out. This one wasn't as difficult as I feared though, and the 15s were pretty gettable, and helped me get the crosses. Rex's write-up made me chuckle, almost as much as @Pete's reverse bucket list, which is my favorite part of this entire solving experience.

Unknown 11:34 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 11:45 AM  

Found the puzzle easier than most Fridays. Remember reading volume in a graduated cylinder in science class? You read the bottom of the crescent-shape the liquid forms- known as the meniscus. Knew Minas from my love of geography and maps. Saw "Love Me or Leave Me" in the 50's. I think James Cagney was in it too.

Eric 11:48 AM  

The few gimmes in the puzzle (25D, 5D, 42D...which, with the S in 3D gave 47A/"insaner" away) made this puzzle semi-bearable to start out. That said, this was a tough Friday.

I had 16D in as "Ryans" for the longest time and it killed my time in the north.

The roman numbering in 31A made life a little easier, opening up the SW for me.

I got 44A surprisingly easily...stood on ones toes. makes sense. That helped open the south a great deal.

Love the word "inimical." Flows off the tongue with grace and clarity. Hate "imaginitiveness," though, it took a non-prosaic mind to conjure it up. Har har.

Eric 11:55 AM  

Also, I had "Two Abes" in for 14D for a while, thinking that if they're going to name the currency by the person on it, the answer should follow suit. That said, I've never referred to a $5 bill as an Abe before (though I feel I've seen it before in puzzles). But I've also never referred to a $10 bill as a Hamilton. That clue annoyed me more than anything else.

jberg 11:56 AM  

OK, everybody go out and read "Death in the Afternoon" right now. I didn't remember MULETAS at first, but did as soon as I got the MU - and MINAS was a gimme for me; studied Latin American politics 50 years ago, and it stuck with me because I thought it sounded neat. Go figure.

Hand up for William J. before GOVERNOR, which led me to Illinois ---- for 17A, but it all came clear at laste. Hardest entry for me was CELESTE. I figured SERIN_ had to end in E, had to chance Law to LIC, and then the L seemed the only plausible thing. I had to look up RATEL (but only after finishing!) before I believed it.

So I kind of enjoyed it, but I can see why others didn't. (Come on, didn't you at least like BLOBS and GUNKY?) Each to his or her own, I guess- but there may not be enough like me to make puzzles like this commercially viable.

@Acme, I think the quotation marks around "first" were meant to warn us off of Lisa.

Oh year, hand up for not thinking of Bill HALEY until I got here, either.

Gareth Bain 12:01 PM  

Finished in a quicker than normal time. There is no joy in filling in 15s that have about 5 suffixes attached to them apiece.

DJG 12:04 PM  

Three z's for this puzzle: zzz...

On Bill Haley and his Comets, they actually incited a riot during a concert in Germany with their revolutionary sound.

One generation's punk is the next generation's bubblegum.

R. McGeddon 12:08 PM  

Amy Reynaldo (Diary of a Crossword Fiend) has a more extensive discussion in case anyone is interested.

She did this in 6.37, by the way.

Is "bid in" a more technical term than simply bidding in an auction, which would apply to everyone, not just the property owner?

Two Ponies 12:09 PM  

@ Milford, I thought of those youTube honey badger videos too.
Hilarious but probably too obscure even for a Friday.

Loren Muse Smith 12:29 PM  

@jberg - I did like GUNKY and GLOBS

@Gareth - Hah!

@Milford - thanks

This is a test to see if I successfully changed my picture.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:29 PM  

As a Certified Average Solver, I always enjoy a puzzle like this which looks insanely difficult at first (I actually counted the black squares before starting, and although I didn't know what the record was, I figured this had to be close.) but which proved to be completely solvable, despite a write-over or two (I thought that "Comets' head" would turn out to be the crosswordese HARDC, but it wasn't.)

Didn't we have MINAS Gerais in a puzzle within the last few months?

@R. McGeddon - I wondered about BID IN, too. I've never partaken of an auction, but I'm guessing that if someone puts something on the block which others may Bid On, but then decides, either from a change of heart or disappointment with the amount being bid, may Bid In to reclaim his property. Just a theory.

Loren Muse Smith 12:29 PM  


Sweet Grapes 12:39 PM  

Glimmerglass hit the nail on the head: a lot of sour grapes comments. I thought the proper nouns/names were no tougher than usual. Since I rarely finish a Friday or Saturday puzzle without some research, the puzzle seemed quite ordinary to me for a Friday. Considering that none of the long answers was horrible, I say congratulations to Mr. Krozel for constructing an interesting puzzle that brings the "expert solvers" down.

Dictionaries 12:41 PM  

Phrasal Verbs:
bid in
To outbid on one's own property at an auction in order to raise the final selling price.

Captcha: iceliver. Ice cream for the lactose intolerant

Sandy K 12:41 PM  


Lots of GROANERS in this one. I guessed right at the MULETAS/MINAS thingy where Mr. Krozel CONNIVEd AGAINST us...


Anonymous 12:58 PM  

@Bob K

I've never been to an auction either, but your reasoning is sound. To me, BIDIN equates to 'join in the bidding'.

Tough puzzle, technical DNF, because I failed to cross-check (dead-tree), and I had left BIDoN in place.

Got lucky on 'M' in MINAS/MULETA - 28A sounded vaguely familiar.

Thanks for the Bill Haley explanation - I knew there was something tricky going on with the apostrophe at the end of the clue, but I was correct even when I thought it was for Hal(l)ey's Comet.


Bookdeb 1:18 PM  

@Gareth: exactamundoishness!

Blue Stater 1:21 PM  

Lots of candidates over 60-plus years of doing these, particularly during the WS era, but this one qualifies as worst puzzle in recent years, anyway. Full of non-words, impossible crosses (I got MULETAS/MINAS but not MENISCI/NIT), and so on. Hard to see what, if anything, either the constructor or the editor had in mind. We deserve better.

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

Ok, "Rock Around the Clock" (famous as the "first" song of rock and roll and famously used over the opening and closing credits of the 1955 "juvenile delinquent/social problem" film "Blackboard Jungle"). Yes, Bill Haley and his Comets. But I forgot about him temporarily and was about to flag this puzzle as erroneous as well, thinking the constructor was referring to the actual comet and its discoverer, Halley.

quilter1 1:36 PM  

Lots to do today so I solved over lunch. Challenging indeed, but doable with a little dictionary help. Loved the write up.

Bird 1:47 PM  

Impossible cluing and answers made this impossible for me to finish. Just not on same wavelength as Joe.

Once I saw the completed grid I GROANEd too much. Too many "that's a word?" thoughts.

At least these puzzles don't come around that often.


Pacwester 1:50 PM  

Um...didn't Rex recently say his Friday blogs (done Thurs pm) would be brief due to his class schedule? So his brevity is understandable on more than one level - personal and professional.

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

Aw Rex. I'm not a great puzzle solver but this one did not strike me as challenging -- lots of easy phrases and very little arcana. I have no problem with Minas/Muletas -- Minas is a pretty common part of place names in S. America, plus of course the Tolkien connection. I liked dire and scary "BLOBS," "EVIL OMEN," "FAMINE," "RIOTS," "MANOR," INSANER," "CONNIVE AGAINST." Plus the awesome "GUNKY."

Overall, I enjoyed this puzzle quite a lot.

Sparky 1:58 PM  

Reality struck. Had targets, never got near MULETAS. Fell for Lisa. Had the two movies. David Bowie strange but beautiful and Doris Day in a serious role with, yes, James Cagney. So, the upper NE okay with a few dibs and dabs in the rest. Ah, well. There's always tomorrow.

syndy 2:01 PM  

Well yes the 15 downs ended ridiculously but that was all part of the fun.I realized early on that The theme here was one word run-on sentences and just went with it.You had to solve in SEGMENTS!There was some really nice entries to balance the GUNK I'll take one INSANER to get INIMICAL! Hell I had Fun with it sue me!

Sparky 2:09 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thoracic 2:09 PM  

Let the googling begin!

Sparky 2:17 PM  

@BobK, I had hard C too. Bob and @R.McGeddon. Buy In, which is what I entered, is a term used at an auction house when there is a reserve on an item. The seller won't let it go below a set price thus keeping it for another day.

Lewis 3:00 PM  

@evil -- loved your first sentence

I thought we had MULETAS recently, but actually it is the first time it has appeared in the NYT puzzle. MULETA has appeared twice, 1993 and 1988.

I think this puzzle tells us some things about Will. He will allow words like INSANER, OVERESTIMATIONS, IMAGINATIVENESS, and EVILOMEN in a puzzle like this, because he is putting a high value on pushing the limits on puzzle design.

I don't mind it every once in a while, and thus I didn't mind it today. Like a former poster, I just went with it, found words like the above that were GROANERS, put plodded on, guessed the M right, and finished with a smile.

Unlike someone here, I don't get the feeling that Joe is doing this just to show off. It feels to me like he is thrilled by the challenge and goes after it.

In any case, his puzzles evoke interest.

lefky 3:02 PM  

@BobK "Bid in" is typically found in a foreclosure auction where a mortgagee or other lienholder will "bid in" the amount owed to it in order to make others bid over that amount.

I DNFed because I didn't know ELAsTIN and had TERs instead of TERA for 4 down. Thought ters flops might be some alternative to ker plops. After I looked at this blog still had to google teraflops to find out what they are (teraflop is a computing term used to define the number of floating point operations a computer processor can perform per second) teraflops

Keen Observer 3:05 PM  

What a difference one little word, made by adding two letters, would make. If 28A were MULE TATAS, everyone would be laughing their asses off and proclaiming the genius of this puzzle.

Amelia 3:05 PM  

I'm with you @jeff at 9:41. I haven't been here long, but I'm awfully tired of the crankiness of Rex. I had a lot of fun with this puzzle. I was incredibly pleased with myself for getting the long ones so quickly. Well except for Stood on Ones Toes, which gave me a lot of trouble. I don't even know what he means by muletas and minas. You mean, because it was hard and you didn't know it, it's not good? I can't remember the last time Rex really liked a puzzle. And since I've started to question exactly what makes him the authority on what makes a good puzzle, I will look elsewhere.

Carola 3:06 PM  

@evil doug - Ah, did not know that. And...just finished Stardust the last in my Joseph Kanon stack, alas. Really liked them, thanks again for the recommendation.

@loren - Priceless new pic, love the matching smiles! Which one is he going to go for first?

Liz Glass 3:29 PM  

Your word of the day should have been BREVITY!!!

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

From my vantage points I think Rex is harsh but then I am not the 40th fastest solver in the Universe. If I had to condemn the puzzle on the MULETAS - MINAS natick I would have to disqualify so many other crosswords.
The eight 15-words is simply impressive. I can live with all the other pop cultural and obscure words that I have to google.
I did not solve all and had a few mistakes but I solved half of the puzzle before I went to google.
I had STOOD ON THE STOOL for the longest time.
I would rate this one easy and lovely.
Mr. Krozel don't pay attention to the professional nitpickers I had a lot of fun solving this one

Stevlb1 4:08 PM  

I'm glad Rex said that. I had Puletas/Pinas, my only error. Now I don't feel so bad.

mac 4:10 PM  

I started out so fast and furious, then came to a halt. The SE killed me, mostly below "famine".

I used to have "Celeste" in the freezer at all times for our son't midnight snack, when he still lived at home.

At 42D I was convinced we were supposed to remember Pei's first name again! Mona was a bit of a let-down.

No pine nuts, but I'm cooking and baking with almonds and hazelnuts this weekend. It smells good here already!

Please stop the agony 4:13 PM  

Puzzle was a piece of . . .

They should be fun, not frustrating.

Ulrich 4:28 PM  

@Peter Phillips et al: The grid is not really asymmetric--it shows a reflection (mirror) about the NW-SE diagonal. I think that's what anonymous @1:12 AM had in mind. AFAIC, any symmetry is fine by me, and I appreciate JK's fooling around with puzzle symmetries.

I'm shaking my head: What was my hardest letter was not the MINAS/MULETAS crossing (both gimmies for me--Hemingway be thanked), but the L in RATEL--this did not look like a word to me. I put the L in only b/c CELESTE (as in "Celeste Aida") IS a word I know (and I checked out the frozen pizza section on my shopping trip a short while ago). The upshot: not an easy Friday for me (there is no such thing), but one of the more doable--goes to show...

OISK 4:32 PM  

Agony for you, fun for me, and vice-versa. I had a big DNF last Saturday on a puzzle some called "easy." This one was tough, but I finished it, no errors. I felt challenged, and very satisfied. That I am a chemist probably helped a lot. Never listened to rock and roll, but even I have heard of Bill Haley and the Comets, and smiled when I figured it out! I think it was a brilliantly constructed puzzle. Thanks, Joe!!

Anonymous 4:45 PM  

"If your puzzle requires a MULETAS / MINAS crossing, then your puzzle is not worth making. It's that simple."

I solved this one easily - I just put a black square where the offending M stands. I guessed it was ok! If the constructor breaks rules to try and impress, this is how I respond!

jae 4:55 PM  

@Two Ponies -- The Bowie version of The Man Who Fell to Earth is availible through Netflix mail but not streaming.

Doc John 5:02 PM  

I think that GROANER crossing INSANER sums up this puzzle perfectly.
Overall, it was an easy Friday for me- finished it in one sitting. That MINAS/MULETAS crossing was ridiculous but does anyone remember GOLCONDA from awhile back?

GILL I. 5:19 PM  

@Jeff @Amelia and anyone else who is upset with @Rex's opinions....I honestly think I would stop reading him if he started sugar coating puzzles for the appeasment of the constructors, or, heaven forbid, his readers.
Go ahead and cringe if you think (gasp) the opposite, reading him is part of my fun-o-meter after I solve.
I love critics in all shapes and forms. @Rex is good at it; he makes you laugh and at the same time makes you think a bit.
If I disagree, it certainly doesn't make me insaner. I just go on my merry way and disagree...

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

Orange, I know where the competitive solvers are coming from, but ask yourself if Rex throws a fit if the obscure crossing has at least one word he knows, even vaguely. What then my Orange friend.

Hands Rex a crying towel.

Anon 1:18

Ellen S 5:25 PM  

I thought it was easy, for me anyway: got it with no googling, and in less than a week. Figured people would consider MINAS/MULETAS a Natick, I never heard of either but after the other letters were in, the M for MULETAS looked right. I wonder do people who live in the Boston area have any idea why Natick should be a term for something nobody has ever heard of?

It wasn't my favorite puzzle in terms of fill, some dumb stuff like RESAT and IMAGINATIVENESS and INSANER, too many plurals, etc. But it was okay and despite the RRNs, not to filled with crossword cliches. No EELS!

@Jeff and @Amelia -- I bet you won't find a nicer community than here with the Rexites. Rex has a style. Which is rather ... negative. So scroll down and read the comments. All kinds of opinions, pretty much good spirited.

@Real Fact(oid)s ... I'm trying not to imagine what a "failed bullfight" looks like, in terms of there being enough left of the matador that he doesn't have to be carried out on his cape. I always root for the bull anyway.

Finally, here's my NIT: "CONNIVES AGAINST" -- drat. Another good word bites the dust. I see that is a legitimate answer to the clue, per Merriam-Webster, but if "connive" can mean "conspire", then what word do we use if we want to specifically indicate "pretends not to see bad behavior"? To a born-and-bred Chicagoan, "connive" is a word that means, "What cops and courts do regarding mob activity as long as their palms are greased."

p.s. after failing the first Captcha, my retry one is "reselsV" -- Many here had to "resel" with the obscure clues, interspersed with -- Roman Numerals.

Two Ponies 5:51 PM  

@ jae, Thanks. Good to know but I changed to only on-line when they priced me out.
Wow. So many comments today.

Anonymous 6:24 PM  

@Anon 1:18 - What makes you thing Rex didn't get MULETAS/MINAS? He just said it was terrible, not a Friday cross, and an ugly necessity due to the conceit of the puzzle (interlocking paird 15's, 18 black squares), not that he didn't get it. The point was about ugliness in service to a construct that very, very few people care about.

JFe 6:43 PM  

Too funny...people coming to the blog to post that they don't like blog.


JFe 6:44 PM  

"the" blog

Merle 6:46 PM  

I found this a very easy puzzle. Zipped through, no Googling, guessed the "m" in the muletas/minas cross. Seemed right. All the rest just fell into place. Muletas/minas crossing does seem a bit "unfair". How much esoterica can a poor solver know? Well, just enough to figure out that the "m" is the likely letter. Pleasant enough puzzle. Rex, are you just tired, just grumpy, or both?

Bungerting Baloner 6:51 PM  

I'm about ready to drop my subscription to NYT xwords and quit paying for this low-quality stuff. I can get them free in the local paper even if it's 5 weeks behind.

Will, you've really lowered your standards.

Beadola 7:36 PM  

I finally came back to the puzzle, finished it, and came to check Rex's assessment. All I can say is I love you.

jae 7:54 PM  

Just reread my initial post and that should be "she said try NIT..." Four and out!

Z 8:42 PM  

Once again there are lots of reactions to what people think Rex said as opposed to what he actually wrote. He has said this before, but never so succinctly, "If your puzzle requires a MULETAS/MINAS crossing, then your puzzle is not worth making." He could have picked RATEL/RESAT or MCMII/MENASCI or ELASTIN/NOT WITH or SEGA/SERINE. Any one of the five would be bad in a puzzle, but all five!?! Can we find some good things in the puzzle? Sure. But finding the positives is a little like making sure everyone in t-ball gets a trophy at the end of the season. That's fine for t-ball, but not the Yankees. Rex (and most of us) think of the NYT puzzle as the gold standard, and this puzzle doesn't live up to that standard.

And to all the j'accuse "sour grapers" - commentators here have and will praise puzzles even after a DNF. They will even admit to changes of heart after reading others comments. I hope you stay around long enough to join the discussions.

Z 8:46 PM  

Oh - North was easy - MULETAS and south not so much. Massive DNF. STOOD upON a STOol didn't help.

Connive with - okay in my opinion - Connive against - not so much. Did manage the bottom line, though. Hand up for HArd c.

michaell 9:07 PM  

Liked the puzzle, didn't find it especially hard. Well, there are lots of times when I go against the crowd in the opposite direction,,,

Has Rex ever liked a Krozel puzzle?

Unknown 9:08 PM  

Worked on this for over an hour - got about 60% and threw in the towel. I think if I worked a bit harder at it...maybe.

The discussion by some posters that Joe K is an egotist seems a bit unfair. Why not assume he's just trying to provide us with a challenging experience, while giving us an interesting, intimidating grid rather than to assume he's on a 6 year, 57 NY Times puzzle ego trip.

Everyone will make up their minds about whether they liked the puzzle or not, but to ascribe selfish intentions to Joe K is not supported by facts.

Anonymous 9:13 PM  

Finished off with correct 'M' guess at our favorite cross of the day and immediately thought the exact same thing as a previous poster: Clue MINAS as

Siege of ______ Tirith (J.R.R. Tolkein)

At this point far more English speakers have read/watched LOTR than visited the Brazilian interior *and* attended a bull fight.

Very enjoyable solve in my book as it was right up my alley - lots of open space and mercifully few proper names...


Anonymous 9:26 PM  

Again, it helps to play Scrabble. MULETAS is an anagram of AMULETS, so I'd seen it.

joho 9:32 PM  

Wow, 124 comments to this point. I read all of them and found the discussion today to be fascinating.

I DNF. True I didn't have the time but I think maybe I just wasn't up to it, no matter, I marvel at Joe's feat. It's insane what he did here. It might even be INSANER than what anybody else can do!

@Rex, your writeup was great!

Masked and Anonyminas 10:02 PM  

D.N.S. Did Not Start. On the road in an area that don't sell the NYT. But came here at the end of the day, to enjoy forty-somethins' always entertaining writeup. Whoops.

Puz had 3 U's. The writeup had 5 U's. Puz had diagonal symmetry. Writeup had 5 U's.


Evan 10:54 PM  


Yes, Rex called Joe Krozel's LIES puzzle of 2008 one of the best of that year. He also called this Saturday offering from August 2011 "vibrant and fairly smooth." I don't think whatever negative reviews he gives of other Joe Krozel puzzles is personal. He's panned puzzles from people whom I know he thinks very highly of, too.

sanfranman59 11:04 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 6:44, 6:14, 1.08, 82%, Challenging
Tue 10:18, 8:23, 1.23, 89%, Challenging
Wed 11:32, 10:59, 1.05, 65%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 12:23, 16:58, 0.73, 8%, Easy
Fri 24:49, 22:18, 1.11, 76%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:07, 3:42, 1.11, 88%, Challenging
Tue 5:59, 4:54, 1.22, 94%, Challenging
Wed 6:41, 6:22, 1.05, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 6:56, 9:56, 0.70, 5%, Easy (9th lowest ratio of 168 Thursdays)
Fri 13:41, 12:57, 1.06, 59%, Medium

Bird 11:29 PM  

@Z - Well said.

(your post at 8:42)

I too regard the NYT puzzle to be the gold standard and this one (IMO as a solver) did not medal. I am impressed with the construction because of those long, legitimate, ugly answers and the 18 black squares forcing those long, legitimate, ugly answers.

Notsofast 12:13 AM  

Liked the double meaning for RIOTS..."leaving in tears...laughing...or from teargas. Many guesses. One natick - Rex's.

Nigel 1:07 AM  

I wish I knew why the MULETAS/MINAS cross was so terrible. No I didn't get it, but I've seen other Brazilian references and when I saw MULETAS I remembered the word. Hey, anyone read Hemingway?

Nigel 1:16 AM  

By the way, not to be snooty, but RATEL was one of the first words I got. Also had EGOTIST and MATISSE early so had a few things to work with. I even had MENISCI but they didn't help me complete the puzzle - I confess, Google is my friend.

acme 2:04 AM  

@RobC 9:08pm
Totally agree with you...tho I suspect people threw around the word EGOTIST today just bec it appeared in the puzzle and they were legitimately and cleverly trying to tie their complaints to the grid itself... So that makes it slightly more understandable today.

But yes, those who tend to label feats of creativity beyond their comfort zone or ANY entry that is self-referential as "egotistical" miss the irony, considering who it's usually coming from.
Lots of projection here...and, of course, in life in general...and jerks see jerkiness.

Ellen S 3:15 AM  

I seem to recall not terribly long ago (within the time I've been following this blog) Rex dissed a puzzle where, I don't remember exactly, but it was like all the acrosses began with the letter "P", even the "EELS". And it was pretty tortuured. Rex's take was that it had been constructed that way to prove the constructor could do it. And that's not a good enough excuse.

That puzzle would be an example of egotism -- not a challenge for the solvers, but a performance by the constructor.

This one had some real GROANERS, but we do have to give credit to Mr. Krozel for not using any sports questions (hah! That's why everybody hates it!), eels, or aloe. Though I think some people dring alos juice medicinally. Maybe it soothes them from the inside out. We could use that. Now, on to Saturday.

Excelsior! Or, as the captcha says, Ipsigio!!!

Ellen S 3:16 AM  

p.s. look what the poor syndicated solvers are going to find when they come here!

jae 3:56 AM  

And that's all folks, goodnight! (I lied about 4 and out).

Oh, and Rob C. and Andrea are right. At least I'm pretty sure they are right. It's late. And, I have a sneaking suspicion this may not be the last post...

Danchall 7:19 AM  

All this hubbub was entirely predictable as soon as I saw the empty grid. It's perfectly understandable that someone might strongly dislike this puzzle (and share that view strongly), just as it's understandable that someone might appreciate and enjoy the puzzle for what Joe tried to accomplish (or just for the enjoyment of solving).

But I don't understand the intensity behind some of the views (for this puzzle and others like it), and the appearance of some sort of personal stakes felt in some cases. Words like "fanboy"; "we deserve better." It seems there may be a social phenomenon at play here, the tendency to "represent" the side one is on.

I got bored with the Leno/Coco crap in the first minute, and it's painful for me to read about Macs and PCs. I have little interest in the _motivations_ of the constructor and editor, zero about reviewers, and even less about the opinions about all of the above.

I have no problem with Rex hating this puzzle absolutely, and sharing that view absolutely, and even demonstrating his absolute contempt by declining to review anything other than one crossing. Yet there seems to be a failure in some quarters to acknowledge that other people might have different tastes or values. Some people clearly liked this puzzle; I don't understand why a puzzle that _Rex_ hates cannot be worth making.

Here's a bit of my enjoyment: Many solvers enjoy misdirection and surprise in a puzzle. The idea behind misdirection, in general, is to thwart expectations. In this puzzle expectations were thwarted by setting aside the need to have answers and intersections that met our normal aesthetic conventions, the kind of words we enjoy finding in a grid. It's a different way of bypassing the wheelhouse. There's still the same experience of figuring out the answers based on the clues. No, it is never about the black squares at all; it's about the sea of white that we get to fill in.

Joseph B 3:58 PM  

This puzzle gave me the GUNKY FUNKS.

I agree with you entirely, Rex. Unlike those who admonish reviews like this, I enjoy your brutal honesty on a puzzle that should have been rejected outright.

Even without this completely verboden crossing, you'd still have ELASTIN and SERINE in the same puzzle, along with: a 5-digit (!) roman numeral, INSANER, NEER, BIDIN, HOPIN, RESAT, LIC, a pair of -TIONS, and RANDS.

(Rands, plural? There's more than one poor sap going through life with that name?)

This terrible crossing hits my pet peeve right in the sweet spot. The way I see it, a foreign word is acceptable when: 1) it is part of a well-known phrase; 2) it's a person's title, a weekday, a month, a season, or a numeral; 3) it's quasi co-opted into English; 4) it's very similar to its English equivalent.

Now we're supposed to know the Spanish word for cape? And our backup plan is knowing Portuguese well enough to make a good guess at a place-name? (A state, no less, something news reports or travel ads never mention.) Oy vey.

Bright spot: the "Work after the first?" clue for PARTII. Loved that bit of misdirection.

To those saying the puzzle is indeed symmetrical - yes, you're right, but I believe the rule for crosswords is that they be symmetrical across both diagonals. You should be able to rotate the puzzle 180 degrees and have it look the same. (Do I have that right?)

Anonymous 3:47 PM  

I almost never attempt Fri's so fact I almost completed this makes me think it was on the easy side.

Spacecraft 12:20 PM  

Uber-challenging. I went through the entire clue list and put in one entry: TWOIN. Good, start with an awkward partial. But looking at the 207-letter grid (wow!), and knowing that Mr. Krozel willingly sacrifices fill quality to attain wide-open, fifteener grids like this, I wasn't surprised. And the only thing that made sense with that W was NOTWITH, another a.p. Yikes, two for two.

Eventually, after almost two hours of what seemed like hard work, I managed to get it done with no errors. My only writeover was REmeT for the equally ugly RESAT.

More GROANERs: INSANER, TENONES, MCMII/PARTII, the twin -ATIONS endings--and the sockdolager: IMAGINATIVENESS. Of which it took a lot to even dream up. The word is imagination--ah, but that would create a third -ation, wouldn't it?

Still, one must concede it's a remarkable achievement to fill that grid with entries that are (mostly) NOT pure nonsense. I take my hat off.

Then I barf in it.

Syndi Solver 1:33 PM  

You know you're a nerd when you can say, "I was just talking about MENISCI the other day!" (re: liquid in a measuring cup and whether it's convex/concave) I actually only used the singular form, not the plural, but that fairly recent conversation still helped me out today.

All that white space scared me when I first looked at this puzzle but I'm so glad I gave it a try. It was quite tough but enjoyable.

I managed to finish in less than an hour which is great for me for a Friday. Yes, I guessed at the M in MULETAS/MINAS. My tortured logic for that guess is that I know the Spanish word MALETA (word for bag or suitcase) so M seemed reasonable, LOL! But even if I had gotten that letter completely wrong I would have felt like a winner since I often get completely stumped on Friday/Saturday.

The clues in general seemed a bit more straightforward today than some Fridays. That may be one reason why it was a bit easier for me.

I thought "Comets' head" was going to be some sports team's coach or owner so that stumped me for a long time. I loved learning the word for honey badger even though surely he "don't care."

Favorite clues today - Rounded up numbers? (HERDS) and "First name" in the Louvre (MONA)

rain forest 2:47 PM  

A few thoughts:

First thought: what a lotta white space! Second: OK, find some gimmes-and I did and put in HALEY, HOPIN, LAGO, MAR, ONMERIT, EGOTIST, IMA, TWOIN. From there I went quite smoothly on the entire east side, and, interestingly, MULETAS, was filled in as a matter of course. Except for CONNIVESAGAINST, the other 15's more or less filled themselves in. BLOBS, GUNKY, and MONA, were excellent. Third thought: this was much harder than medium for me, but I completed it, and I think it is an impressive puzzle. Final thought: OFL is really out to lunch on his assessment of this puzzle, and, I think, on this constructor. I mean, really. On a single cross, which wasn't a problem for me, he bags the whole puzzle.

Solving in Seattle 3:02 PM  

I sat down to work this puzzle while listening to the news coverage of the shootout and dragnet in Boston. Like something out of a Ludlum novel. Crazy.

Comets' head was a great, misleading, clue. Had "comas" first because of the plural possessive. Later snapped to HALEY. GROANER.

Had CONspireAGAINST forever until crosses CONNIVEd against me.

@Danchall, well put.

Laughed at Rex's review and the subsequent comments. I enjoyed solving your puzzle, Joe.

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

Glad Rex just wrote two true sentences. Mina/mulatas was a Natick with a capital "N" bold and underlined. Just awful. Also awful was "imaginativeness"--ain't it just "imagination?"

DMGrandma 4:11 PM  

Took a couple of breaks to soothe my fevered brain, but eventually solved all but three letters, the P in PRE, the M in MULETAS, and the first letter of MENISCI where I couldn't decide between M and L. Not too shabby for a puzzle full of obscure (SERINE) and semi-made-up words, mostly noted in previous comments. As a Malaska solver, both RATEL and NIT were gimmes. Age does have some perks!

Best part of the day, @Petes bucket list. Think we all want to fulfill one like that!

Unknown 4:44 PM  

TOEARTH is WHERE David Bowie fell, not how. Poor clues all around on this puzzle in my opinion.

Dirigonzo 5:41 PM  

Spanish-speaking PP knew MULETAS, so no problem with that particular cross.A typicalAMERICAN obscured the top part of the grid for some time but we eventually sorted it all out. SEGA/SERINE cross was a guess mostly because I wanted Zaxxon to be a drug, n ot a video game. Based ONMERIT I would call this puzzle a good Friday offering with crosses that were no more unfair than any typical late-week grid. PP's only small grouse was that the clue for 1a, One looking out for #1, defines an "egoist" rather than an EGOTIST - I always thought the words were interchangeable, but now I know better.

toxford 11:35 PM  

OK, I'm late -- I get the syndication. But ...

I thought the Muletas/Minas crossing was fine -- but I've read Death in the Afternoon, and my son has played soccer in Minas Gerais.

Rex, I'm sorry that you were so offput that you had no comment on the 18 black squares, which I think must be close to a record.

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