1968 space movie villain / FRI 5-3-13 / Spanish liqueur / British submachine gun / Papua New Guinea port in WW II news / Children's author who created Miss Trunchbull / Singer's tongue / First card played in game parliament / Autobiographical book by Carrie Fisher

Friday, May 3, 2013

Constructor: David Kwong

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: LAE (25A: Papua New Guinea port in W.W. II news) —
Lae, the capital of Morobe Province, is the second-largest city in Papua New Guinea. It is located at the start of the Highlands Highway, which is the main land transport corridor from the Highlands region to the coast. Lae is the largest cargo port of the country and the home of the University of Technology or 'Unitech'. [...] In July 1937 Lae made world news when American aviator, Amelia Earhart, was last seen flying out of the airport on her way back to the United States. She was never seen again. // When the volcanic eruptions occurred in Rabaul in 1937 a decision was made to transfer the capital of the Territory of New Guinea to Lae. World War II got in the way of the transfer and in 1942 the town was occupied by the Empire of Japan on 8 March 1942. Lae, Rabaul and Salamaua became the major Japanese bases in New Guinea. // The naval Battle of the Bismarck Sea in December 1942 was fought over the Japanese attempt to reinforce Lae with troops sent by sea from Rabaul, an attempt foiled by sustained Allied attack on the Japanese troop transports. In mid-1943, after defeats in the Kokoda Track campaign, the Battle of Buna–Gona and at the Battle of Wau, the Japanese were forced to retreat to Lae and Salamaua. However, the Salamaua–Lae campaign involved many weeks of fierce fighting, before the town fell to the Allies on 16 September. (wikipedia)
• • •

Under 6 on a Friday is pretty damned fast for me. I think I made such good time largely because I lucked into that 15 up top—I remember picking up "WISHFUL DRINKING" (17A: Autobiographical book by Carrie Fisher) in a bookstore and perusing it for a while just after it came out. It's a great, great, memorable title. Knowing that title really opened up the top (unsurprisingly), and I made steady, consistent progress through the grid from there, with a little slow-down there in the middle, and then another gimme-15 waiting for me at the bottom to slingshot me toward the finish line (I'm guessing "MIDNIGHT IN PARIS" is a gimme for a lot of solvers—far more likely a widespread gimme than any other 15 in this puzzle is likely to be) (61A: Oscar-nominated Woody Allen film). Fill is kinda junky in places, which is unfortunate in any puzzle, but especially in a relatively easy-to-fill 70-word themeless. DAE LAE! Ay ay ay. I have "yerg..." written next to ACRY and RENTA up top and IDEM, TIGRE and AHAS down below. I don't know what "yerg..." means, but when I say it, it expresses my feelings about that fill. Still, I liked this one overall. It's workmanlike, but it's got some personality, as well as a contemporary feel.

Here are some more keys to my slaying this thing so quickly: LAE. One of those horrid words that eventually your xword constructing program suggests, and you're all "No Way, constructing program. I don't even know what that is." That's how I learned it, anyway. It was a gimme. I feel half-embarrassed by that. Another gimme—IRINA (2D: One of Chekhov's "Three Sisters"). Why? Because OLGA was just in the puzzle, clued via her other "Chekhovian" sisters, IRINA and Masha. You know what else was just in the puzzle? TRIAXIAL! Wasn't it? No, wait ... TRI-something ... something I didn't expect to be TRI- ... anyway, once I saw it was going to end -AXIAL, I went with TRI-, thinking I'd just seen it (54A: Kind of cable in TV production). My last big jackpot lucky-time answer was a pair of answers: ELECTRA and ORESTES (63A: Mythological sister of 66-Across + 66A: Mythological brother of 63-Across). Thank you, Great Books program at University of Michigan. Had to teach "Oresteia." Much of it stuck, apparently.

Love the clue on YIDDISH (1A: Singer's tongue). Total fakeout (the "Singer" is writer Isaac Bashevis Singer). Never played parliament, but back end of that answer was clearly DIAMONDS and the SEVEN OF was not at all hard to pick up. Never heard of "Miss Truchbull," but children's author in four letters? That's DAHL (4D: Children's author who created Miss Trunchbull). I don't know how, but I got ANIS [Spanish liqueur] off the "I". Who knows where this stuff comes from? ANIS, by the way—total "yerg..." answer. Again, never feels good when ugly / arcane stuff ends up being a gimme. Feels weirdly ... undeserved and thus cheap. But you take your advantages where you find them, I guess. I should probably just high-five myself for coming in under 6 and move on.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:07 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
okanaganer 12:09 AM  

My best gimme was TWITTER FOLLOWER...got it instantly from the clue. Unfortunately I also had thefIGHTINgARtS, that not so famous Woody Allen movie.

Other erasures were INSYNC instead of ENBLOC, ADRIANA rather than ARIANNA. Lots of unknown names but all gettable from crosses, eventually.

Elaine2 12:13 AM  

I think this was the easiest Friday I've ever seen!

I did enjoy it, though.

Happy Friday!

Benko 12:56 AM  

Very easy Friday. Finished under 4 1/2 minutes.
YIDDISH was a gimme, started off the puzzle. Knew DAHL right away with Ms. trunchbull, who is the awful headmistress in Matilda.
WISHFUL DRINKING is also Isher's one woman show which is always on Showtime...never seen it, but see it all the time in the listings.
Because I had DISBELIEVE and MAKEGOODON, SEVENOFDIAMONDS was the only card which could fit. Another gimme without knowing the game.

Ellen S 1:55 AM  

I shamelessly Googled the Carrie Fisher book; shamefacedly Googled to get IRINA. After that I could fill in everyting. Had CLEANup before CLEANSE. And did my darnedest to fit coAXIAL instead of TRIAXIAL but had to bow to the imperative of the letter count. Plus, those "govt. gangbusters" had to be T-men or G-men. (I think the "tri-something" Rex is remembering was some chemistry word?)

Pretty fun puzzle.

Anonymous 1:59 AM  

Rex, quick FYI: "peruse" means to read something thoroughly -- many people misuse it in the way you did, meaning "skimming", which is basically the opposite.

jae 2:18 AM  

Easy for me also.  I too knew the Fisher book and the Allen movie and, of course, DAE and LAE.  Pretty zippy and fresh...TWITTER FOLLOWER, PAY DIRT, SWING FOR IT...

Erasures:  Had AAw for AAH which I think is a more "That's nice" sound, plus ENmass (minus the E) for ENBLOC. 

Fun Fri.  Liked it!

chefwen 2:36 AM  

@Benko - Seriously? I can't read the clues that fast, much less fill the answers in. I managed to get the puzzle completed but it took me a hell of a lot longer than 4-1/2 minutes, more like an hour and 4-1/2 minutes. Damn good thing I don't time myself.

Rookie 2:43 AM  

Follow-up to info on peruse. The following is a note on the word from the 4th edition of The American Heritage Dictionary:

"Usage Note: Peruse has long meant “to read thoroughly” and is often used loosely when one could use the word read instead, as in The librarians checked to see which titles had been perused in the last month and which been left untouched. Seventy percent of the Usage Panel rejected this example in our 1999 survey. Sometimes people use it to mean “to glance over, skim,” as in I only had a moment to peruse the manual quickly, but this usage is widely considered an error. In a 1988 survey, 66 percent of the Panel found it unacceptable, and in 1999, 58 percent still rejected it."

In the note above, it does seem like acceptance for the skimming definition is growing but still not accepted.

For years, I used peruse as Rex did. To this day, the correct definition seems odd to my ear. IAnyone else make this error?

MetaRex 3:05 AM  

I had OEDIPUS as Electra's bro. They both had complexes, right?!

Thx much to Rex on behalf of all of us slower solvers for having a conscience about knowing so much junk so fast. I guessed ANIS right away, too :)

The usual stuff is at Oedipus Rex

syndy 3:12 AM  

I went to the QueEN OF DIAMONDS first but not a deal breaker.The short fill was just atrocious but the rest kinda sang so one thumb up

Anonymous 3:37 AM  

A bit harder when the Herald Tribune adds an two extra downs... There are 2 #14 down answer spaces, one 4 letters long and the other 7..... And the mysterious 44 down! Lengthened 12 across answers by one letter, obviously negating "Midnight in Paris" as an answer.

GILL I. 5:07 AM  

I said lots of AHAS and several AAHs after nailing this puzzle although the short fill did make me WISH for a DRINK.
SWING FOR IT made me TWITTER as did ANIS. For that matter, seeing Woody Allen in the clue made my ANIS TWITTER as well.
Thanks for the fun senor KWONG....

Arianna Cleanse Makegoodon 5:08 AM  

Weird, just talking about WINONA Ryder, as WINONA LaDuke was in town.
Ms Ryder's disappeared, sorta. WINONA means "First born Daughter" from Native Americans in Minnesota.
(Her parents, the Horowitzes are hippies from Minnesota who moved to Northern California)

Liked TWITTERFOLLOWER, helped me with my one writeover Yale/ETON. I've just signed up for twitter
(acmenaming if anyone wants to follow) something I swore I'd never do, but I want to publicize the "No Kidding" book and then I'll disappear from the twitteruniverse again.

Two theoretical violations of the
"breakfast test" that Will insists doesn't exist:
38D "____ disease"
Usually there is to be no mention of diseases or cancer, etc. Perhaps LYME disease doesn't seem sad or brutal enough, but it can be.
Other one is SWINGFORIT. Shocked that wasn't a baseball clue (SWING FOR IT, as in THE FENCES) but about hanging for a crime.

I think David Kwong is the guy who does the magic trick creating a puzzle while folks shout out answers. There is a video somewhere. Everyone always asks if I know him and if it's for real.
Someone please embed.

Loren Muse Smith 6:02 AM  

After plopping down DAE, DAG, IDEM, IPSE, WNET and TRIAXIAL, I was stuck.

Yeah, I LIED. But I did get those with the crosses.

The word mythological always makes me want to run and hide under the bed, but I got those sisters easily enough. Got IRINA with no problem, too.

Wasn’t ARIANNA the one who sent that fancy schmancy engraved invitation that said “Your invited. . .”??

Carolina Blue is another color named for a school.

So we have the Nobel vibe going. Isaac Bashevis “Singer’s tongue,”Kim DAE-jung, and DAG Hammarskj√∂ld. Too bad David didn’t work in Henrick DAM for a DAM, DAE, DAG trio! And to YAW even further because I don’t want to empty the dishwasher and start breakfast, Sartre’s No EXIT. . .

“Ain’t” before ISNT.

And I’m done. Just HERD my daughter get up, so bacon and eggs FUR her. . .and me!

Thanks, David! HALlelujah, I finished a Friday!

Anonymous 6:55 AM  

Actually it's both now. Check a dictionary.

Z 7:10 AM  

This is one of those Friday puzzles that would have defeated me not that long ago. Four fifteens and no clue on three of them; first pass through the puzzle and all I'm certain of is ARIANNA and WINONA.

OSHA and LAA (the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or some such nonsense) was enough to open the mid-Atlantic states. Tried TWITTER FOLLOWER and it worked to get coast to coast through the middle. With enough to guess at the long downs, I then was able to go in the LIES direction to finish the puzzle (as opposed to LEI, AKA counterclockwise). Only notable writeover was englISH before YIDDISH. I was thinking painter, not writer (the fact that "Singer" is neither the painter's first nor last name didn't occur to me during the solve).

This is a fine Friday. Great long acrosses, lively longish downs, minimal dreck in the fill, and enough in every corner to make the unknown gettable. A little tussle, but fair enough all around. I don't mind a DAE or a LAE in the service of DISBELIEVE.

I learned "peruse" from context and always thought it meant to skim text. I'm going to peruse the captcha and get it right the first time, now.

Milford 7:23 AM  

This was one of those Fridays that I started Thursday, thought was going to be a tough one, and then woke up Friday and finished almost without hesitation. Crazy what rest will do.

A little tangled up in the SW because I had g-MEN. And just curious, does anyone know the difference between ibid and IDEM in footnotes?

And what's it called again when you put in a wrong answer and it shows up correct elsewhere? I had united before ENBLOC (as one), and then had UNITE (merge) in the SE.

Loved the Carrie Fisher clue, even though 3 other book titles came to me before WISHFUL DRINKING.

We had TRIOXIDE the other day, if that's what Rex was thinking was close to TRIAXIAL.

Good Friday puzzle!

Revecca 7:46 AM  

Trunchbull is Amanda Trunchbull from Matilda. She is the evil director of the school Matilda attends and has a punishment device called "the chokie" that instillls terror in the children. Sounds like a good crossword puzzle answer to me.

Also, the musical version is great, and the actor playing Miss T steals the show.

joho 8:27 AM  

@Milford, that's a malapop! I liked that ENBLOC and UNITE shared the grid.

I also liked DEALT crossing SEVENOFDIAMONDS.

Nice to see MIDNIGHTINPARIS in the puzzle. Wonderful movie.

@Arianna Cleanse Makegoodon (coiner of malapop), I cringed at SWINGFORIT! Gruesome!

Thank you, David Kwong,you SNUCK a lot of good stuff into this Friday puzzle!

Carola 8:48 AM  

Pure pleasure. I'll go with "easy," which for me on a Friday or Saturday means finishing without ever falling into despair.

Very much liked NEMESES (from Nemesis, the Greek goddess of retributive justice) beneath ELECTRA, as she and ORESTES avenged the murder of Agamemnon by killing their mother and her lover. Clytmenstra and Aigisthus didn't exactly SWING FOR IT, but I got a kick out of the cross anyway.

Sir Hillary 9:23 AM  

Breezy Friday, and a fun one. Gotta say, I never noticed the so-called dreck in the short fill, as I was too captivated by the superb longs. The 15s all feel fresh (even though the SEVENOFDIAMONDS ain't exactly contemporary) and the long downs are all really good as well (fave is SWINGFORIT). Always nice to have three adjacent gimmes to drop in right off the bat (FUR, WINONA, MIDNIGHTINPARIS).

Not sure why I noticed, but there are some potential election slogans in here:
-- 39A: For a candidate in a small West African nation.
-- 63A: For supporters of the Egyptian sun god or the jazz musician who took his name.
-- 9D: Apt slogan for any politician anywhere, although not likely to be used.

marc 9:26 AM  

i couldn't believe how easy this was. Finished before i hit grand cent4ral station from westchester. Seven of Diamonds was a gimmie once the e s in seven appeared. midnight in paris was too recent to be difficult. missed my weekly hour plus for fridays and saturdays.

Bookdeb 9:27 AM  

David Kwong Puzzles and prestidigitation on YouTube, intro by Will Shortz
this page

Shamik 9:41 AM  

Note to self: do not try to solve puzzle on only 4 hours of sleep. Finished it correctly. Abominable time.

Unknown 9:47 AM  

This wasn't anything special, in my opinion. But SWING FOR IT was yucky. I was surprised that is was really the answer. Blech.

Big P 10:01 AM  

One small nit with 35D. WNET is a Newark NJ PBS station, not a NYC PBS station. That's how the FCC licenses the frequency, even though WNET's offices are physically located in NYC. I'd be happier if the clue were "PBS station with offices in NYC which is somewhat ugly. Just an irritation to me, not a big deal.

Sandy K 10:11 AM  

Pretty easy-peasy for a Friday. Clues were pretty straight-forward, unless you didn't get Singer's tongue.

But even the LAE, AAH, LAA and coAXIAL before TRIAXIAL were fixed by crosses.


@acme I BELIEVE WINONA was on Jimmy Fallon this week- tried to stay up, but never made it...

Eric 10:12 AM  

- I heard about coaxial when the cable guy was setting me up with Fios....but TRIAXIAL? Now I want to see quadraxial (awesome word!) some point soon.

- Loved the DAE - DAG co-nobelist connection on the same horizontal.

- I have an issue with "TMEN." It really should be G-Men, right? I mean, T-MEN, apart from being a movie (in 1947!) were dept of treasury officials in the late '30s (yes, I looked it up afterwards)...hardly gangbusters. Need clarity on this...

Good stuff otherwise.

retired_chemist 10:13 AM  

Easy but it took me too long - typos.

Lots of good stuff. loved YIDDISH as clued, got it off the Y. Filled in the NW quickly and then blew MInnesota with WISHFUL thINKING and consequent WTFs. AAW for 28A didn't help, nor did LICENSES for 20A.

Got SEVEN OF DIAMONDS off a couple of letters in SEVEN. The end HAS to be OF DIAMONDS since the other suits are 5 or 6 letters. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and ELECTRA/ORESTES, plus a few others, took a few crosses but were then easy.

ENG(lish) in grade school? When I was in Grade School (it means 1 - 6 or thereabouts) it was just reading. ENGlish, not until Junior High. Or are today's kids so advanced they do ENGineering then?

STEN FEN - a violent and now off-the-market diet supplement?

Overall a nicely constructed, fun solve. Thanks, Mr. Kwong.

My captcha has a circumflex a in it - clear evidence that you can replace it with 42. And so I did.

Airymom 10:17 AM  

Terrific puzzle! "Midnight in Paris"--saw it at the Austin Movie Theater in Kew Gardens. I went to that theater as a kid to see "Mary Poppins" and many other movies, then it was closed, then an X-rated place. Now it's become a first rate place to see quality films. Yes, I miss my home town. That was the first answer I filled in and the fun began. A great start to a weekend at the beach.

jackj 10:18 AM  

With a more contemporary feel to it than most Friday offerings it was a bit ironic for me to start with ORESTES and ELECTRA and build up from the bottom but, that’s the way it flowed.

Looking at the completed puzzle it might be called “Idiom’s Delight” for those phrases that infuse the puzzle with so much of its liveliness. MAKEGOODON, SWINGFORIT, ONETOGO, FAROFF and PAYDIRT are fun, in the language and easily brought to mind when a few crossing letters evolve. (Okay, ILIED; FAROFF is a bit on the hairier side of things).

But, because the phrases are spread all over the grid it makes for an easier solve as things like TWITTERFOLLOWER, SEVENOFDIAMONDS and MIDNIGHTINPARIS are fed enough letters to stir the juices and eliminate any trouble from cluing deviousness.

Things that were particular fun included FEN, a Bostonian’s 50 cent special word for BOG; KFC for the Crispy Twister chicken sandwich offerer; LAA as the abbreviation for the awkwardly named “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim”; DAE, LAE and DAG making for a strange set of triplets, looking for all the world to be as conjoined as twins Eng and Chang and finally, of course, “Staying power” cluing LEGS.

It was fun to see SNUCK in the puzzle which was a reminder of a long gone love affair with the word by all the kids in my pre-teen crowd who used the word incessantly, always wrinkling their nose upward when pronouncing it and creating a sound that can best be described as a nasally contemptuous snort that never failed to earn a giggle or two.

Good puzzle from that awesome denizen of The Magic Castle, David Kwong.

retired_chemist 10:26 AM  

FEN has been used in England for centuries. Presumably Boston, as one of the oldest American cities, picked up the term that way early on. The term still lives on as FENway park.

lawprof 10:31 AM  

This one put up just the right amount of resistance for a Friday, and wouldn't have been nearly as much fun but for several (plausible?) writeovers, one of which, "fro," appeared twice (49A, back and 36D big head). Others: Item/INFO; ONEmOre/ONETOGO; Sidle/SNUCK (I missed - or willfully ignored - the past tense in the clue).

Strangely, I had INPARIS and took forever to remember the MIDNIGHT part, even though it's one of my favorite Woody Allen movies. (I'm just coming back into the fan club after being creeped out by him for a few years. Time heals all prudishness).

Thank you Mr. Kwong!

lawprof 10:34 AM  

This one put up just the right amount of resistance for a Friday, and wouldn't have been nearly as much fun but for several (plausible?) writeovers, one of which, "fro," appeared twice (49A, back and 36D big head). Others: Item/INFO; ONEmOre/ONETOGO; Sidle/SNUCK (I missed - or willfully ignored - the past tense in the clue).

Strangely, I had INPARIS and took forever to remember the MIDNIGHT part, even though it's one of my favorite Woody Allen movies. (I'm just coming back into the fan club after being creeped out by him for a few years. Time heals all prudishness).

Thank you Mr. Kwong!

Note: Captcha telling me my entry was no match and to try again. Here goes.

Two Ponies 10:53 AM  

This wasn't so easy for me.
One man's gimmee and all that.
misbelieve or disbelieve
in spite or despite
I was expecting 50D to be a name. Didn't carefully read the clue.
Mixed bag of fun answers and crap fill.

Notsofast 10:58 AM  

I couldn't get going til I came to that old standby STEN, then it was off to the races. The three-letter fill was bad-to-meh, but the fifteens were very nice! Overall, a fun Friday.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:11 AM  

The last entry I accepted was 55 D, RILE for "put out." Not the first thing I would think of, but a real synonym.

Mohair Sam 11:17 AM  

Super easy Friday, maybe it hit our sweet spots with the 15's. WISHFULDRINKING a gimme here, and combined with the likely ARIANNA made short work of the top.
It had to be something OFDIAMONDS and the gimme WNET gave us SEVEN, and made TWITTERFOLLOWER a likelihood.
54d was gonna be TMEN or gMEN. 15 letter Allen movie starting with M. Hmmmm... Puzzle essentially done.

Maybe the fill should have been clued a little tougher - once you got a 15 you were sure of it in a couple of seconds. i.e. RENTA on a Friday?

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

No dislikes for "snuck"?

mac 11:43 AM  

Very easy Friday, but I too was confused because of the last (16th) blank column in the IHT. For the first third I tried to fill it, then decided to ignore it. Much time wasted.

Swing for it was a surprise, Orestes and Electra both in one puzzle wonderful.

Beautiful weather in Holland, but it's weird that we haven't seen any rain in two weeks.

Unknown 12:08 PM  

DNF for me - the NW corner did me in like yesterday. The rest was medium. Feel like I missed the party on this one with so many easy reviews.

Didn't know WISHFUL, although I got DRINKING from crosses. Rex is right-great name. Refused to budge from iNsynC for ENBLOC at 19A-it fit the clue perfectly and I had two crosses that I was sure of. Also whiffed on seeing YIDDISH.

Does it seem to anyone else that the number of non-English fill has increased lately? There have always been one or two common non-English words per puzzle. Now it seems there's three or four per day, and not so common words either. For example today's 53D, French for demolishes. First thought was how is anyone who doesn't speak French fluently supposed to know this? Had to rely on crosses, and in hindsight it's very close to razes, but still. For the multi-lingual folks, this trend (if it really is) is probably a welcome thing. For my unilingual self, not.

Angry Bird Grandma, More Mellow 12:10 PM  

Rex, arcane for who? Anis is not arcane for me. It is a liqueur flavor. I'm sure you've heard of anisette? Anise is an herb, and anis is the Spanish word for the liqueur flavored with anise, the same liqueur essentially as anisette. Pour some anisette into your espresso or coffee in an Italian restaurant, if you fancy the flavor of licorice. You sure get grouchy about stuff you don't know. And did you know Electra and Orestes before you had to teach a great books course? I knew their names, and their "story", before I graduated from public high school in Brooklyn, NY -- and I graduated at age 16. Somehow, what you know and how you know it becomes the sine qua non for what a puzzle constructor ought to include. Dawg, you need to lighten up a little when it comes to clues and what's in your wheelhouse. Totally agree with you about the Singer's tongue clue, Yiddish answer. Truly clever. What I liked about the clue and answer is not that I know the works of I.B. Singer -- which I do -- but, rather, the cleverness of how the clue throws us off -- we think music performer initially, and some strange arcane fact about a singer's tongue, possibly -- and then along comes "yawed", !A down, and along comes the aha! that Singer and Yiddish.

Eric 12:15 PM  

@Rob C, 53D refers to a city in England, not France. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devon

In Britain, they spell it "RASE," whereas we, in the good 'ol US of Am spell it "raze." So, it was still English.

But to your point, I think gettable foreign words, like TIGRE for example, are fair game for constructors.

Bassetwrangler 12:22 PM  

I was really annoyed to see that the NYT changed their Java Scorecard app so that it no longer shows a timed players rank among all others and only shows the top 100 scores. Why in the world they do this other than to protect the fragile egos of poor puzzlers is beyond me.
Please, as I did, complain to the NYTs through their feedback mechanism to change it back so we can again use it as a gauge against all timed players.

Unknown 12:24 PM  

@Eric - Thanks. The jokes on me, I originally read it as Dijon, not Devon. Then just assumed RASES was French.

I still stand by my bigger point though. I think common foreign words are fair game also. I just think the definition of "gettable" is being pushed past it's limit sometimes. Although, you could also make a case that if one tough foreign word leads to a lot of good fill around it, the "price" may be worth it.

Lewis 12:27 PM  

I was thinking the title was WISHFULthINKING (never heard of the book) and that helped slow up the NE for me. The rest went down smoothly, especially for a Friday.

I was thinking "fast delivery" was going to be NOLABOR. But no labor never happens, does it?

syndy 12:33 PM  

@ERIC; Eliot Ness was a treasury agent.Andrew Mellon, secretary of the Treasury was charged by Pres. Herbert Hoover ,specifically to bring down Al Capone. Ness worked for the Prohibition Bureau of the Treasury inforcing the Volstead act,that later became the ATF.The ATF was transferred to the department of Justice in 2003

AliasZ 12:38 PM  

How SNUCK sneaked into this Friday puzzle is anybody's guess. Only David & Will know the answer. But I think I'd WINONA bet for Will.

LAA LAE DAE LAE, LAE across my big brass bed. AAH...AHAS!

If DECAF coffee is free of caf, it follows that DEALT must be free of supermodel Carol, and DESPITE free of any spite.

Easy Friday. I was sleepy, so I YAWED my way through it without much resistance.

Here is the David Kwong video:


Enjoy your weekend.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

Who said ANIS was arcane? Maybe its intrinsic yergishness is due to its similarity to anus.

Eric 12:44 PM  

@Rob C, I definitely see your point, and would agree, but saying that it's tough to know a foreign word is kind of like saying it's tough to know that Singer's native tongue was YIDDISH. For some, it's a gimme, for some it's tougher to get. Them's the breaks.

Awesome info @syndy! Thanks for clearing that up.



Two Ponies 12:45 PM  

I forgot to say earlier that the clue for Yiddish was completely lost on me. I toyed with the idea that a tongue might be a part on a sewing machine. Wrong definition of Singer obviously.

KarenSampsonHudson 12:49 PM  

Yes, thank you, Great Books Program at University of Michigan, for these clues and many others!

I skip Mon-Wed 12:51 PM  

Started puzzle.at 2:30 am to put myself to sleep, immediately saw Yiddish, didn't get drowsy til 2/3 down. Woken up by hammering next door, zipped through rest.

John V 12:59 PM  

A good one! Loved 1A, too, last to fall. Just right for a Friday.

Benko 1:42 PM  

I think "peruse" has come to just be a synonym for "read". Thus, one can make a "quick perusal" in the one sense, and "peruse thoroughly" in the other.
@chefwen- I'm pretty fast, but if you want to see the truly insane solver's times, check out Dan Feyer's times on DanDoesNotBlog. There's a link at Rex's page.

Masked and Anonymou2Us 2:10 PM  

@Sir Hillary: har

Hard puz to get started on. Had HAL and KFC right now, but had CREPT instead of SNUCK, and we don't get WNET on our tube. So, thanx bigtime to Woody Allen and parliament. [But what are all those MP's doin, playing card games on the government dime? Our Congress would Never do that. They've got bigger games to play.]

Popular weejects of the day seem to be: DAE, LAE, LAA, and AAH. What you Fri/SatPuz lovers need is some new blood in your weeject stable. Constructors need to saddle these old steeds back up, for the weekends...
OOT - [Where Burns is, when he ain't home] Poetic. Cultural.
PUI - [Henry ___, last emporer of China] Historic.
AWA - [Hawaiian milkfish] The solver cannot live on AHI, alone.
ERP - [Marshall Plan initials] @4-Oh would have so much good, clean fun using this one in a sentence.
KUL - [Issyk ___, Kyrgyzstan lake] Geographic. Tenth largest lake in the world.

Just havin PUI and KUL in this puz woulda doubled the U-count. And tripled the SOMI reading.

Mr. Benson 2:19 PM  

I wasn't familiar with Isaac Bashevis Singer, but I figured they were looking for a language up there; so after I filled in HAL at 7D, I tentatively entered an -ISH at the end, and with the ARIANNA gimme I was able to get enough traction to plow through. Pretty clear sailing from there. I liked this one enough to overlook both AAH and AHAS.

sanfranman59 3:14 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 15:28, 21:35, 0.72, 9%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 9:53, 12:19, 0.80, 19%, Easy

jerry k 3:31 PM  

Over 6, how much over is private. Finished (agonizingly, after Yiddish).

acme 4:51 PM  

@Bookdeb 9:27am
Thanks for embedding. Still need to get the hang of that.

@two ponies
I had the same thoughts about Singer sewing machine, esp bec I just heard this charming story by Leah Garchik about riding her grandparents old Singer sewing machine as a horse when she was a little girl!

Two Ponies 4:56 PM  

@ Andrea, Funny story. Made me remember sitting backwards on the steering column of my dad's car with my hands on the steering wheel pretending I was driving.

LaneB 5:55 PM  

Some Googling to check on a few answers and guesses: SEVENOFDIAMONDS; IPSE and ENBLOC, but in general I must agree with the "Easy" description. Easy or not, I'm alwaays pleased to finish in a relatively short i\time. Thank you David Kwong.

Carola 6:05 PM  

@M&A -
Issyk Kul: how could I not have heard of the 10th largest lake in the world? And such a great name. Had to look up and read about it. Learned a new term: endorheic lake, another one of which I happen to live near. I love the learnin' that comes with the puzzles.

Arby 6:41 PM  

Unfortunately, "Twitter Follower" has the same number of letters as "Facebook Friends", which is what I immediately put in the grid.

Anonymous 7:45 PM  

Headmistress was Agatha Trunchbull, and punishment was the chokey. I love 1A, especially -- Isaac was my great-uncle.

Tita 8:46 PM  

I might have to add myself to my Hall of Fame...
I TIF'd (Thought I Finished) with
WeSHoULDRINKING, wihich I parsed as "We should drink in G". Plausible for a musical family, no?

I remember when AIRMAIL was a big deal. Ever-so-thin paper. I used to write really tiny, so I could fit the most on each beautiful sheet.
Anyone remember the paper that you wrote on, then folded, sealed, and it was also the envelope? I wrote home from my studies in Paris on those.

Saw HAL in a Paris movie theatre that year. You wouldn't notice how little dialogue exists in that movie until you watch it waiting to hear it in French!

@acme & bookdeb - thanks for the Kwong link.

I'm getting here so late, if at all, these days.
I think I have entered the twilight zone between realtime and syn city.

Anonymous 8:54 PM  

An added twist, thus not all that easy, for us IHT solvers when Thursday's 16th column is attached to this Friday puzzle. This sort of thing happens occasionally with the IHT, and in this case created an interesting puzzle-like solving bonus.

- via HK

geordiegirl 10:02 PM  

@tita - I am still getting letters from a college friend in London on the airmail paper that folds over and is already stamped - but the paper is not as thin as it used to be.

sanfranman59 1:13 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 6:28, 6:14, 1.04, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 6:35, 8:09, 0.81, 3%, Easy (5th lowest ratio of 178 Tuesdays)
Wed 11:36, 10:07, 1.15, 83%, Challenging
Thu 19:51, 17:17, 1.15, 75%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 15:06, 21:35, 0.70, 7%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:59, 3:44, 1.07, 82%, Challenging
Tue 4:08, 4:47, 0.86, 8%, Easy
Wed 7:18, 5:59, 1.22, 93%, Challenging
Thu 11:18, 10:01, 1.13, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 9:18, 12:19, 0.75, 11%, Easy

Tita 1:38 PM  

@geordiegirl - exactly! you paid for the postage when you bought the "envelope".
How nice that you receive hand-written letters. There is a debate going on at NYT about cursive and handwriting in general. Sad that it is already something considered quaint.

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J.aussiegirl 11:20 AM  

@tita 8:46 pm. Yes! We remember them, and still receive an "airletter" each Christmas from a dear friend in Australia. Postage is prepaid and, depending on size of writing, lots of news can be fit in - better still using a typewriter. Sadly these gems for correspondence are not available north of 49.

A satisfying puzzle but not so easy for me, maybe medium, and DNF the north-east sector as I could not get away from 11 D come good on, and was determined not to google the Carrie Fisher book. Loved Midnight in Paris.

Torb 11:48 AM  

Over an hour but nailed it. Originally had mocha for decaf, tec instead of det, attendents for attendance. Fine themeless Friday!

spacecraft 12:22 PM  

Very nearly DNF, but the fog cleared just in time. Looking for a foothold; found it in WINONA. Once I had a few letters of PARIS, the Allen film was in, and the bottom and middle done.

The top was not so simple, since I didn't know that Fisher book. Sorry, but you have to have a few more hits in your resume besides a badly-acted princess and a vengeful jiltee (also badly acted--but this time on purpose, at least) to make me pick up your book.

So I'm working in the NW, and I have W_SH_ULD...Naturally, I parse it as "We Should...[something]." I wasn't sure of the Chekhov sister spelling, so it could easily have been IRENA. But what was "INOO?" Sounds like a South American dart poison, but with different vowels. Left it, and went on to solve the NE, after finally duh!-ing AIRMAIL.

So now I have the whole thing filled in: WESHOULDRINKING. What, a missing "BE?" Oh, and another D. Scoop contents. My mind is stuck on the double-O of POO--as in dog--but still making no sense. Scoop---! OMG! INFO, THAT kind of scoop! Change 2d's E to I and we have WISHFULDRINKING, almost what I was driven to by that stupid title.

Whew! I think I remember Parliament; isn't that the game where you have to play adjacent cards to the board in suit, or start a new suit with a seven? Fun game, and a fun solve today.

DMGrandma 2:50 PM  

Took awhile to parse this one! A few gimmes like DAG and the Allen movie, and a lot of hoping the fill suggests something. That's where I got the SEVENOFDIAMONDS, never having heard of parliament. Had AHA for "that's nice" and had to replace it when it reappeared, from the croses, at "pupil reactions. Slowest for me was the NE. Finally got EYETESTS, guessed ACRY, and pieced it out from there. Anyone else think CLEANSE is an odd choice for REHAB? Like others, I stuck with GMAN until gRIAXIAL just became impossible. Is SNUCK a real word? Must look it up.

Dirigonzo 5:27 PM  

I had the grid about half done and was struggling when I fell asleep for a short NAP - when I awoke I finished without any major problems. I had "crept" at 6d only because I was certain SNUCK would never appear in the NYT, until it did. In light of the fact that all of the long answers are pop culture references it's surprising that I finished at all - I credit my success to Mr. Kwong's artful construction and obtainable crosses; well done.

Rex said: "I should probably just high-five myself for coming in under 6 and move on." I'm pretty sure there's a name for that.

Anonymous 6:15 PM  


Dirigonzo 6:45 PM  

@anony 6:15pm - "self-rexification", maybe?

Red Valerian 7:09 PM  

@Diri--love it!

Also loved the puz. Ibid IDEM ugh. And I felt so smug.

Dirigonzo 7:36 PM  

@RV - Ibid IDEM, indeed; me too.

spacecraft 7:56 PM  


Tita 10:11 AM  

@J.aussiegirl - nice to know a few folks still write letters. I've been meaning to write a few - maybe I will do so now.

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