Antares Proxima Centauri / FRI 5-17-13 / NYC 22 replaced it in 2012 / Tree with large seedpods on its trunk / Style of New York's Sony Building / 60s film character wearing one black glove / Literary classic featuring teen Tadzio / Long-running Mell Lazarus comic strip / Focus of stereochemistry / Verano across the Pyrenees

Friday, May 17, 2013

Constructor: Josh Knapp

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Jacob ZUMA (4D: Jacob ___, South African president beginning in 2009) —
Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma GCB (born 12 April 1942) is the President of South Africa, elected by parliament following his party's victory in the 2009 general election. // Zuma is the President of the African National Congress (ANC), the governing political party, and was Deputy President of South Africa from 1999 to 2005. Zuma is also referred to by his initials JZ and his clan name Msholozi. Zuma became the President of the ANC on 18 December 2007 after defeating incumbent Thabo Mbeki at the ANC conference in Polokwane. He was re-elected as ANC leader at the ANC conference in Manguang on 18 December 2012, defeating challenger Kgalema Motlanthe by a large majority. Zuma was also a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP), briefly serving on the party's Politburo until he left the party in 1990. On 20 September 2008, Thabo Mbeki announced his resignation after being recalled by the African National Congress's National Executive Committee. The recall came after South African High Court Judge Christopher Nicholson ruled that Mbeki had improperly interfered with the operations of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), including the prosecution of Jacob Zuma for corruption. // Zuma has faced significant legal challenges. He was charged with rape in 2005, but was acquitted. In addition, he fought a long legal battle over allegations of racketeering and corruption, resulting from his financial advisor Schabir Shaik's conviction for corruption and fraud. On 6 April 2009, the National Prosecuting Authority decided to drop the charges, citing political interference. (wikipedia)
• • •

Thought this played tough, but still ended up coming in under 9, which looks like a very respectable time today (if the times at the NYT website are any indication). Biggest struggle was probably the W and SW, a carnival of missteps begun by playing MUCH instead of MOST at 26D: Extremely. Coincidentally / frustratingly, that "C" from MUCH plus the "T" from ASTHMA gave me the letters I needed to drop in DOCTOR ... something. NO? No? STRANGELOVE wouldn't fit (!). Jumped down in the SW where I played "MOMMA" (39A: Long-running Mell Lazarus comic strip) off the "A" from ASTHMA, but then put in MOONS at 40D: Antares or Proxima Centauri, a horrible rookie / misreading mistake, since the clue clearly calls for a singular, not a plural (it's M-STAR—one of only a handful of weakish entries in this grid). Even though DOCTOR was wrong, the "D" gave me all I needed for DEMO TAPE, and once I let myself believe first word of 46A: "Think of ___" was IT, I finally saw DOMINO'S at 35D: Pie-baking giant. Everything evened out from there, and the rest of the solve was much smoother going.

SE was toughish, largely because I didn't get ATOMS (44D: Focus of stereochemistry) or MEWL, and SMITE was very slantily clued (48A: Biblical waste? — as in "lay someone to waste?"). Wanted something closer to "YOU"RE WELCOME" at 55A: Favor doer's comment ("YOU OWE ME"). Once those three (lovely) long answers were in place across the center, I found it remarkably easy to get up in to that NE corner; OBJECTIVE game me something MAJOR, MEL C gave me SARCASM, and that was it. Last thing in was ABCS (8D: Brass tacks). Speaking of Cs, this puzzle has more Cs (freestanding, pronounced independently) than I've ever seen in a puzzle. That is, four. ABCS. C MAJOR. MEL C. "CSI: MIAMI". Not sure what to make of that, but there it is.

Started with PAPAW (!?) at 1D: Tree with large seedpods on its trunk, but came to my senses after RUSTY led me (tentatively) to try OYE at 23A: Hernando's "Hey!", which gave me the terminal "O"—which made CACAO obvious. Initial "CS" in turn made "CSI: MIAMI" obvious (17A: "NYC 22" replaced it in 2012), and I was off and running. Big mysteries of the day were ZUMA, TUO, OYE, and M-STAR. Everything else was solid, familiar, lovely—the center stack and all the corners are all really well done, long answer-wise. The center stack is kind of a model, actually. Usually you get at least one clunker in there, some expression with ONE'S or some defensible but not-quite-right phrasing of an action ... but these are just BAM BAM BAM, solid, tight, entertaining, perfect.

  • POST-MODERNISM (31A: Style of New York's Sony Building)
  • "DR. STRANGELOVE" (34A: '60s film character wearing one black glove)
  • "DEATH IN VENICE" (35A: Literary classic featuring the teen Tadzio)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jackj 12:15 AM  

This Josh Knapp puzzle was so cleverly constructed that it was, for me, the most difficult solve since one who shall remain anonymous, early on in his constructing career, tried to turn us all into simpering idiots by giving us a puzzle that he brazenly told us would be unsolvable by mere mortals. (Mr. Anon has since cleaned up his act and his attitude and now gives us some of the best themeless puzzles).

There were only three short answers that escaped me today, TUO, CERES and ETA, but they easily filled when the crosses were settled. Some of the additional oddities, from ZUMA to MOMMA, NOCK to FRET and ISIS to MERLIN, surprisingly, didn’t gum up the works.

There were things that rankled, especially RUSTY, that seemed too strained in its cluing, but that’s a nit of no note when thinking of the incredible staggered 13’s in the middle of the grid, POSTMODERNISM, DRSTRANGELOVE and DEATHINVENICE (and only POSTMODERNISM came fairly painlessly).

A couple of sneaky bits brought a smile as “Kin of clubs” started out as BATS until it needed to make SILICONVALLEY work by switching to BLTS. The other devilish rascal came when looking for the “Pie-baking giant”, and it was not Sara Lee or Hostess, nope, no saccharine involved as DOMINOS won the cook-off.

EITHEROR, YOUOWEME, PRAGMATIC, TOPLESS, there was so much to applaud in this puzzle, but my favorite clue was that biting answer for “My heart bleeds for you”, often” for SARCASM. That one sure hit my GLEE spot!

Fantastic puzzle from Josh Knapp!

jae 12:19 AM  

This was mostly easy-medium for me except for NW.  Middle and SW easy,  East medium, NW ouch!  Put in and took out CRAZIER and AGILE at least twice.  Debated between saMBA and RUMBA (leaned towards the latter).  Had BaTs for BLTS for too long.  Wanted something like dog days for 14a. ZUMA was a WOE.  Got fooled by ETA...

Loved the middle 13s and stuff like NATTER, PRAGMATIC, YOU OWE ME, TOPLESS, NOCK (fine word), SARCASM... So a large liked it from me.   Nice workout.

Oh, and if you have teenage  kids or grandkids a good way to introduce them to what the Cold War was all about is to show them DR. STRANGELOVE,  On The Beach, and the original Manchurian Candidate. 

sanfranman59 2:04 AM  

I cry foul on 18A: Key represented by all white keys on a piano. I obviously over-thought this one, but having played piano for much of my far-too-long-ago youth, I confidently wrote in aMinOR because (a) it's Friday and CMAJOR seems too easy and (b) if you start at the lowest key on a standard 88-key piano and play all white keys to the highest key, you're technically playing A-minor scales. That little mistake cost me may too much time in noodling out the NE. Alas.

Anoa Bob 2:51 AM  

Yeah, rather than RUSTY, some older Americans' Spanish or French may be better than ever.

Beautiful puzzle. Gorgeous center, all three of the triple-12's across and all of their crossing downs. Great stuff everywhere and not a clunker in the bunch.

Loved both the middle spanner and the movie DR STRANGELOVE.

Mr. Knapp: YOU OWE ME
Me: Yup, I sure do, I owe you a big thanks for such an outstanding puzzle.

Danny 3:14 AM  


Just because the piano's lowest white note is an A doesn't mean you're "stuck" in a-minor. That A could be Fa of the C-major scale. Plus, that logic doesn't really hold up since the topmost note on the piano is a C. Who says you have to determine the key by ascending the scale? I thought the clue was a clever way of making those of us who play piano doubt ourselves.

Danny 3:16 AM  

Sorry—La, not Fa.

Euler 3:25 AM  

@Anoa Bob -- Last time I checked 15-2 = 13.

sanfranman59 4:13 AM  

@Danny ... as I said, I over-thought it. Of course you're correct, but if you start at the lowest key, the scale you will play is A-minor. It's also true that if you played a scale down from the highest key, it would be a C-major scale. Maybe crying foul was a bit strong. I'm just kind of amused at how my brain works sometimes. I tore a bunch of correct answers out of that corner because I just assumed A-minor had to be correct. With all the puzzles I've done over the years, you'd think I would have learned the lesson of not being overly sure of any answer in a late-week puzzle. Live and learn ... eventually.

Augustus Cacao Meccas 5:21 AM  

Stuck in the end with an empty NW except an incorrect baSic instead of RUSTY. And Jacuzzis was my summer eponym...
finally I had to Google ZUMA...that plus RUMBA = ZOOMBA.

So hard, first pass thru almost NOTHING except DEATHINVENICE and MOMMA.
Mell Lazarus (note the three Ls) would love to be in the puzzllle. I've been trying, but maybe someone else can.
And he's not getting any younger and loves the NYT.

SMITE gave me Mama, sort of malapop for MOMMA.

Four floating Cs...maybe it's the four c-sons again? Considering there are, like, 10 CCs in the puzzle.
Good catch!

Interesting that TOPLESS is on the bottom

NOCK NOCK...who's there? Groove on an arrow.
Nice puzzle, Josh Knapp

Jack Lee 5:39 AM  

Woohoo! Only had to Google once to confirm a hunch (MOMMA)! Doesn't happen a lot for me on Fridays. Good puzzle.

Loren Muse Smith 5:48 AM  

Way too tough for me to try to finish this morning. In my pre-Rex life, I’m pretty sure I could have finished this if I had played with it on and off all morning. But too much to do, too little time. . .
So many goofs:

“pesada” BALBOA
“sara lee” DOMINOS (morning, @jackj)
“bats” BLTS
“salsa,” “samba” RUMBA (morning, @jae)
“a minor” C MAJOR (morning, @sanfanman 59 and @Danny)
“noise” ATOMS, which had me switch
“sac”and “ink” INK SAC

@Rex – I agree with Acme – good catch on the free-standing C’s. @Acme – “four c-sons” – good one!

In grad school, I took more German classes and at one point was required to attend a lecture by some scholar who was an expert on Thomas Mann. As with all such lectures, the Q and A period at the end was simply an exercise for grad students to ask questions not to really ask a question but rather to show the rest of the room how incredibly smart they were. This time it was exceptionally, excruciatingly boring, and I just wanted to howl. Then, since the discussion was largely about Death in Venice, I toyed with the idea of joining the discussion, raising my hand, standing up, and saying, “I went to Venice two summers ago. It was really pretty.” And looking around, nodding to everyone. I didn’t do it, but still . . .

I’ve never seen the word NOCK, but it’s cool to be in a puzzle by Knapp. Thanks, Josh!

r.alphbunker 6:15 AM  

Great puzzle. I was expecting MELC to be wrong when I finished even though TOOL CASE seemed to be an acceptable variant of toolbox.

Danp 6:45 AM  

@sanfranman59 - I had no problem with Cmajor. It's a lot like watching Jeopardy. If you only know one Polish composer, you will most likely be right, If you know a lot of them, you will probably be wrong by making an educated guess. Anyway, now I know about A minor. Thanks a lot...

r.alphbunker 7:48 AM  

Nice observation. All I know about musical keys I've learned from crosswords. If its a three letter answer it is IN_, if its a five letter answer its _FLAT, if it is six letters I throw down _M__OR but leave open the possibility that it might be _SHARP. The rest I get from the crosses.

Glimmerglass 7:53 AM  

Tough Friday. i had a lot of luck to finish. I'd seen the word NOCK as something to do with arrows ("to nock an arrow" means to load it on a bow), but no real understanding of the clue. It's a long way from waste to SMITE. I think JK was going for the mafiosa "Waste him."

Z 8:05 AM  

How long until ZUMA's middle name appears? @ACME- can you make a theme out of Gedleyihlekisa?

@Sanfranman59 - like @Danp said, I knew just enough to get it right.

Threw down the triple 13's in the middle and though I was going to breeze through. No such luck. ISIS was a muse first (hi @lms), TRUDGE was dRUDGE making BLTS invisible. In the SW I was PRActical. Sigh. My favorite goof, though, was my mis-parsing of the clue "Favor doer's comment." I favor the doer's comment instead of what the favor doer said. In addition, my sunbathers were concerned about skin cancer, so they were TanLESS. Ouch!

Was it @JFC who called us commenters sophisticated? Check your ATLAS again.

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

Rexworld mavens, please explain why atlas is a plate holder (plates = color plates in a book?).

Barbara Coughlin 8:18 AM  

There's an error in the puzzle. King Arthur's wizard is Merlin, but in "The Once and Future King," the wizard's name is spelled Merlyn, with a Y.

Unknown 8:28 AM  

Enjoyed this one, but yup, that southeast corner snagged me. Like Rex, was thinking more along the lines of YOU're welcome, and had no idea about ATOMS or CERES.

joho 9:13 AM  

Got it all but the NW where I DNF. For a while I had "more mad" instead of CRAZIER. And my tree wanted to be a mAple. Total mess up there!

No matter ... this was a stellar puzzle, the middle section absolutely sublime.

Love the opposites of TRUDGE and AGILE.

I say with no SARCASM whatsoever, fantastic Friday, Josh, thanks!

chefbea 9:27 AM  

Too tough for me!! DNF Immediately put Sara Lee for 35 Down

Now to do the LA times puzzle by our own Loren..and Jeff Chen

Captcha is b tests. Didn't we have M test yesterday

Horace S. Patoot 9:36 AM  

As a retired chemist (not *that* retired chemist), I winced at the cluing on ATOMS. As introduced in school, stereochemistry is really about getting away from thinking about atoms and thinking about the three dimensional structure of molecules or parts of molecules. I know. boring...

jberg 9:42 AM  

I really loved TRUDGE - it must have been in before, but it looked all fresh and new to me, and a
great word, aptly clued.

I really struggled in the SW, due to the conviction that either 31D was PRActical or 36A was TMI. I also tried bAnTER for 50A, before something finally clicked -- I guess it was MOMMA.

I misread 20A as "Kin of cubs" and plunked down kiTS -- really making it hard to think of a Cuban dance. But once I had BLTS and LAIR, nothing left but RUMBA (since saMBA is Brazilian). Other problems were minor - TUa/Tanning, Ola and OlE before OYE. (My Spanish is RUSTY, but doesn't that really mean 'listen?')

But as everyone says, the triple 13s just make it beacutiful. I also really liked the single black squares floating there, for some reason. Let's have more of these!

Cheerio 9:44 AM  

Ooh-la-la. Smooth, elegant, lovely. Very nice.

@Horace S. Patoot - well, the answer did mesh with the wikipedia entry on stereochemistry. That might be a difference between Friday and Saturday clues - how easy is it to pull the answer out of the wikipedia entry.

OK, so I did look that one up. But, outside of the SE corner, this seemed easy for me. More like a Wednesday. Maybe it was just in my wheelhouse. Or it was just so smooth, that one word slipped easily into the next.

Nosegay 10:15 AM  

Just wanted to say that I absolutely loved Loren's LAT puzzle today.

quilter1 10:18 AM  

My first spin through I thought I wouldn't make any dent in this puzzle and then things broke open in the NE. I finished the NW last. Really liked the clues/answers and the grid. Great puzzle.

retired_chemist 10:34 AM  

I shall LET RIP my irritation with this puzzle.

@ Horace - THIS retired chemist more than winced, he got d**n mad. ATOMS are mo more the focus of stereochemistry than bricks are the focus of architecture or notes are the focus of music. The focus is the overall structure, not the pieces.

In fact, there were other clues that seemed off. ABCS and brass tacks (as in getting down to....) are just different. ABCS are the very fundamentals, brass tacks refer to the important points (in a negotiation,usually). Not the same, and not evocative enough for me to accept ABCS , which I considered and rejected until forced to it by crosses. Tools go in TOOL CASES; nuts go in separate drawers somewhere else. Unless you keep your nails,bolts, washers, etc. all messed up together in there. Bah.

These, plus several answers in the NW I just didn't know made this an annoyingly long DNF. All I googled was ZUMA; ISIS was an Egyptian god clued by a Greek term, and OYE was OLE. Rejected CRAZIER and RUSTY for a long time as a result. MELC was a WTF.

All that said, the center 12s were delightful, and some of the rest was brilliant. Doesn't outweigh the part I didn't like.

If this were typical of NYT puzzles I would have bowed out long ago.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

My nuts reside in a sack

Mohair Sam 10:47 AM  

Very, very tough Friday for us. Took up much of the morning.

But lots of fun. Didn't know the "h" was optional in RUMBA and therefore get a DNF because I had to Google ZUMA to justify CRAZIER and let myself be confident that the obvious AUGUSTUS was correct.

Clever cluing throughout. Loved the DOMINOS clue - had to fill most because we never thought pizza.

Shouldn't SIREE have two "R"s? Got hung up in that corner for quite a while because of the spelling.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  


Not boring at all. Sterochemistry is, as you know, very important. To guys liek Josh Knapp, and Will Shortz and I'm pretty sure Mr. parker, it was just another term they had to memorize. tehir eyes galze over. There's no understanding there. None. And, as noted yestaerday afternoon, there's real disconnect between the physical world and words. Saying that nuts are in toolcases is pretty poor. I've been in garages and machine shops my entire life, sure an occasional piece of hardware, ie a nut,ends up in a toolbox ( yeah, they're typically called boxes)but not often. There are specially designed boxes just for hardware--nuts, bolts, circlips, screws, washers, woodruf keys etc. Toolcases? they're massive things for big tools. Nuts? not hardly.
The only things nuts is expecting more from this editor and blog.

jae 11:00 AM  

@r.alphbunker -- That is exactly how I suss out the music stuff. A minor, C major ??? no idea. I fill in what I can and just wait for the crosses.

Two Ponies 11:01 AM  

Excellent puzzle that was an enjoyable solve. Just right for a Friday. Great vocabulary and tricky clues.
I don't understand the clue for eta. Anyone care to step up so I can say Doh?

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

its the 5th letter of the greek alphabet. Attic greek is the fancy term for classical Greek.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

Sorry, 7th letter. I should say d'oh!

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

Retired Chemist,

I didn't see your post before i spouted off. You had the situation well in hand. Sorry for jumping in when it was unnecessary.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:13 AM  

Very nice puzzle, although I will admit to sharing the reservations expressed above regarding Stereochemistry.

One write-over at 23 A, OLE before OYE (new to me!)

Learned NOCK at Summer Camp.

Anyone have a problem with 34 D? (DEMOTAPE) Do bands still mail in literal tapes?

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

Hey folks, today's Los Angeles Times has a puzzle by Loren Smith & Jeff Chen. It's a good one.
Ron Diego 8:14 AM PDT

Two Ponies 11:19 AM  

@ anon 11:05 Thanks. I have never heard of attic Greek. I'll file that away.

Carola 11:30 AM  

Terrific puzzle, but OMG did I find it tough. FRETted over the NW in particular, but I did MANAGE to finish. Great cluing, some of which I saw through right away (ETA) while others stymied me until the end (BLTS). And so many pleasing entries and grid pairs (CRAZIER ABBOTS, FELL - SMITE).

Loved the three long arts-related answers (architecture, cinema, literature), crossed by technology's SILICON VALLEY.

Help from recent comment discussions: CACAO and M-STAR.

Thanks, Josh Knapp. This was delightful.

GILL I. 11:33 AM  

I loved this puzzle. I seem to be on JK's wavelength but he does make me feel like a nincompoop (Hi @Loren) at times.
Didn't know AUGUSTUS, ZUMA and had to check up on NOCK. I took my time and thought if I'm PRAGMATIC, I'll eventually finish and I did. Yay me.
@jeberg: OYE does mean listen but if you say it real loud like OYE
it means Hey you, psst - over here...
Speaking of where to find nuts....

A pirate walks into a bar and the bartender says "Hey pirate, do you know you've got a steering wheel sticking out of you pants?" The pirate says "AAAARH, I know, it's drivin me nuts....
Everyone. For more fun, go over to the LAT and down load @Loren and Jeff's crossword. It's yummy.

chefbea 11:47 AM  

LAT puzzle too tough for me. How do I get to the comments to see what everyone else thought. Great puzzle!!!

GILL I. 11:48 AM  

P.S. @Loren. Pesada means a boring female. Something you're definitely not....
My captcha: overude. Yikes

Mmmmasked and Anonymo5Us 12:29 PM  

This puz has 15 M's, which ties a NYT record. Superb solving gig. themelessthUmbsUp. I'm startin to feel it. Mr. Knapp is becoming a fave constructor.

fave clue: "Attic character". Thought they were talkin about my Uncle Ed, for quite a bit. Heckuva story, there -- but I would have to digress...

Speakin of fave constructors and characters, really liked the Chen/Muse collab out there in LAT-land, too. westcoastthUmbsUp.

Two Ponies 12:35 PM  

@ loren (and Jeff if you're reading), Great job in LaLa Land.
Good fun to solve. Funny that two answers relate so closely with the NYT grid.

Sandy K 12:37 PM  

The center stack FELL in very NICEly, and the CUTE clue for BLTS opened up the SILICON VALLEY adding to my GLEE.

Then began the TRUDGE. Had saralee before DOMINOS, and MOSTly a big mess before DEMO TAPE amd OPIATE.

EITHER peWL OR MEWL made me FRET, but MANAGED to guess that SMITE MAE be more of a Biblical waste than SpITE.

Some MAJOR fill and unexpected clueing made for a difficult but excellent solve.

John V 12:49 PM  

Got nothing but killed today. Some days are like that.

Congrats Loren and Jeff. Good, tough one.

OISK 1:03 PM  

Finished it correctly, after blowing "DJED" yesterday. Took me a very long time, which is fine on a Friday. As an unretired chemist I share my peers' objection to the clue for atoms. Stereochemistry does not focus on atoms in particular, but on molecular structure, and it took me a long time to settle for "atoms." I also never heard of NYC22 or MELC, but it is Friday. Good puzzle! (I really like the clue "Stupifying thing" for opiate, which led me in the wrong direction for the longest time.

syndy 1:09 PM  

OOH loved it but then I don't know enough chemistry to be insulted!My last entry was ISIS because although I knew that the ENNEAD was nine gods I really really thought that they were Greek gods!My feeling was that a DEMOTAPE isn't tape anymore but what else are you gonna call it? Keep'em coming Mr.Knapp.

Lewis 1:30 PM  

Wonderful cluing, and for one who has never heard of stereochemistry, no nits to pick there. Tough but fair, this puzzle. Thank you for this fine effort, Josh!

Anonymous 1:35 PM  


It's not a nit. If it were, it'd be lousy to pick someone up on it. But this isn't a nit, and it's not close call either. It's a fundamental misundersanding of the subject. That's why guys who have heard of it, and understand what it actually means, mentioned it.
A case could me made that toolcases is a nit. But stereochemistry is flat wrong.

Nameless 1:37 PM  

Too hard. Too obscure. No foothold. Did not have fun.

Nuts in a TOOL CASE? Absolutely not. In a TOOL chest, TOOL box or TOOL cabinet? Yes.

I'm shocked that @Rex didn't complain about DEMO TAPE being too dated.


Anonymous 1:41 PM  

at the risk of sounding like a know-it-all, my wife is in the music biz. She assures me that the term now universally used is simply demo.

M and A also 1:47 PM  

p.s. Funny thing, the way the discussion is going, today. My Uncle Ed(d) used to store nuts in the attic.

But, re: Stereochemistry, all I got to go on is the WikiChemistry site definition...

"Stereochemistry, a subdiscipline of chemistry, involves the study of the relative spatial arrangement of atoms..."

So, let good ol' @Lewis store his nits wherever he wants. QED.


Anonymous 1:54 PM  

Nothing has been demonstrated. The first part of the definition is the money part. As retired chemist and perhaps others have noted, everything is comprised of atoms. It's the three-d examination that means all.
Lewis can store his nuts anywhere or nowhere, but atoms is not, and nevr will be an approprate answer to the question of what stereochemistry is concerned with.

LaneB 1:57 PM  

Failed the NW corner because I don't watch much TV and don't know the police procedural references. Also drew a complete blank on CACAO, even after Googling. Had dizZIER instead of CRAZIER and did not recognize ETA as
A Greek letter clue--very recondite, indeed. Finally put down TanLESS rather than TOPLESS
Which made SHOP impossibl to say the least. A tough Friday with only about a 90 per cent completion.

Benko 2:08 PM  

Liked the puzzle, especially Dr. Strangelove hanging out in the center.
I too fell victim to misdirection on a lot of clues...hand up for A Minor before CMAJOR, Sara Lee before DOMINOS, and thought Ennead referred to the nine muses, so put Clio instead of ISIS.
Luckily, the crosses proved me wrong quickly and I didn't spend too much time hanging onto these wrong entries. Like Rex, thought it played hard but finished under 9 minutes.
@BobK-- Of course people don't send demo tapes anymore! You just email them your MP4s or send them a link to your website which features streaming audio.

M and A's Last Silver Atom 2:18 PM  

p.p.s.s.: Not to pick too many nits here, but I seem to recall readin somewhere that the total mass–energy of the universe contains 4.9% ordinary matter, 26.8% dark matter and 68.3% dark energy. Thus, dark matter is estimated to constitute 84.5% of the total matter in the universe.

Is dark matter built from atoms? nuts? stereo parts? Hey, man, I just work here. Probably, the answer is infinitely complicated, so neither me nor any other tool case'll ever grasp the whole enchilada...

Interestin discussion, tho.

Joe The Juggler 2:39 PM  

Is it just me, or does "Sporty Spice" sound like an men's cologne?

jae 3:14 PM  

Stuff I learned from doing way too many (according to my bride) crosswords: MEL C (aka Sporty Spice aka Melanie Chisholm) is MEL C to differentiate her from MEL B (aka Scary Spice aka Melanie Brown). This will come up again.

retired_chemist 3:15 PM  

@ M&A - "Stereochemistry, a subdiscipline of chemistry, involves the study of the relative spatial arrangement of atoms..."

Exactly. The focus is on the relative spatial arrangement. The atoms are the bricks in the building, or the notes in the composition.

retired_chemist 3:18 PM  

And I would be disingenuous if I said I didn't expect anyone to pick up on the "nuts in drawers" straight line.

Space between the M and the A 3:27 PM  

OK. I give.
Still and all, seems like music wouldn't be very focused, without payin any attention to the notes.

retired_chemist 3:28 PM  

@ sanfranman 2:04 - C MAJOR or A MINOR - since each is correct, you just need to make a guess and pay attention if crosses indicate the other one. No foul IMO.

sanfranman59 3:28 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 23:58, 21:35, 1.11, 76%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 14:19, 12:19, 1.16, 75%, Medium-Challenging

JC66 3:46 PM  

@loren muse smith

Great LA Times puzzle today.


Lewis 4:06 PM  

Loren -- your puzzle was mucho fun! Way to go.

Benko 4:16 PM  

@Loren--Just noticed you were in the LAT today! (I'm bad about paying attention to bylines.). Nice theme. I also enjoyed the long theme answer of SKINTIGHT. Don't recall seeing that one before.

benko 4:17 PM  

Should be "non-theme", not "theme", of course.

Nameless 4:20 PM  


Paul Keller 4:22 PM  

I guessed AGILE and RUMBA early, but simply could not get enough to break open the NW corner. DNF.

I haven't done enough crosswords over a long enough period to know this for sure, but it seems to me the editors are making an effort to make knowledge of science play into crosswords. That is a laudible goal, but I think it is a mistake if the constructor and editor are going to use words they do not know the meanings of.

At the risk of focusing too much on a negative point among many positives, and of repeating what other commentators have already noted, the clue for ATOMS was a complete nonsequitor. It would have been less absurd if the clue were "Focus of chemistry". Stereochemistry is concerned with molecules that cannot be adequately described in terms of their atomic constituents, even if their bonding is also specified. These are molecules for which three-dimensional structure is important. Stereochemistry could clue some fine words like CHIRAL and ENANTIOMER.

jackj 5:33 PM  

Loren and Jeff-

Mazeltov! A very clever concoction.

retired_chemist 6:09 PM  

I'll add kudos to that of others for Loren and Jeff's LAT puzzle. Good one!

Merle 7:18 PM  

Very hard. Had gaping holes, and no hope. Googled, got a few leads, but still kept getting stuck. Toughed it out until the southeast did me in, so I checked out the rest with Rex.

Rex, you never heard the slang phrase "He wasted him"? Or, more conventionally, "laid waste to"? Hence, Biblical waste indeed is smite. To waste someone is to smite someone. 18A, C Major, is a gimme. Balboa as Panamanian currency, 16A, not a gimme. Augustus, summer time eponym, finally fell into place. June is way too short, September too long, and July, not a usual name, so Augustus, of course.

Tadzio in Death in Venice, Dr. Strangelove, and postmodernism for the Sony Building architectural style, stacks up to a pretty nifty cultural frame of reference. 1

2D, where to find some nuts, tool case, who'd a thunk? I thought nut jobs, had the two o's, kept looking for something with loon in it, missed tool csse for a long time, finally got the fill anyway, and then, everything was illuminated, I understood the clue after I got the answer.

I thought I knew a lot about mythology, and got caught up short because I didn't recognize the Ennead as the Egyptian Ennead. I saw the clue Ennead, saw a four letter fill, thought of the nine Muses, and filled in Clio. Stayed with Clio because the "i" fit with CSI Miami -- but the "i" in "crazier", 1A, led to Isis, and when I Googled Ennead and Isis out of curiosity, learned about the Egyptian Ennead.

So, rough and tumble puzzle, learned something new, and now, looking forward to Saturday's puzzle.

chefwen 7:23 PM  

@chefbea - Go to L.A. Times Crossword Corner

Merle 7:33 PM  

Commenting in response to other comments --

Bob Kerfuffle -- oye versus ole. I got oye right away because of the song "Oye como va", by Tito Puente, and because if you've lived in New York City you sure have heard people saying, "Oye, oye", meaning "Look, look".

Agree with others, though -- had bats as a kin of clubs, two objects you can hold in your hand and swing, versus blts and club sandwiches. So when I had a 15D siaicon it looked way too weird. Siai? WTF? Ah, Silicon Valley, blt sandwich, okay.

Movement from Cuba -- figured out it was a dance -- with the "a' from "lair", had salsa first, then got rumba. Someone said samba. No way, José. Samba is Brazilian. Salsa is derived from two other dance forms, rumba and son, Afro-Cuban flava flave.

okanaganer 7:49 PM  

I really wanted to enter DEPTH for "Focus of stereochemistry". Stereo = 3D + focus = depth, get it?

Bob Kerfuffle 8:23 PM  

@loren muse smith - Nice LAT puzzle! I don't think it would be a spoiler to say that I finished with one wrong letter, at the cross of 26 D and 40 A - my answer looked so promising, but just didn't work.

jae 8:38 PM  

@Loren and Jeff -- Fun Fri. Would have made good NYT Thurs.

Z 8:54 PM  

@Loren and @Jeff - What happened with 8D and 31A. Editing error? Nifty puzzle otherwise.

Loren Muse Smith 8:59 PM  

Hey – thanks everyone for the comments on Jeff’s and my puzzle.

John V and I started the whole process, and it was he who introduced me to either “OneLook” or “XWord Info” – I was so pleased with the enormous list he provided with all the PARTs included. I mean, we’re talking pages and pages of possibilities. I’m sure some of the theme entries were a result of @John V’s list. He just got too busy at work and asked to bow out.

I filled a grid that Gareth was kind enough to build for me (I don’t have the constructing chops to do one like this without serious experienced muscle), got some advice from Rex and Tyler Hinman that the reveal was too dull (MISSING PARTS), and then Jeff came on board and took it to the next level.

This feels like an Oscar acceptance speech, and, well, heck. Sorry. I just wanted @John V and @Jeff to get a lot more credit. I would also like to thank my children and husband. . .Yeah, right. Sorry.

At the risk of seriously sounding Oscarish, Oscaristic, Oscaresque, Oscary. . . Thank you, Andrea. You saw something in me I didn’t know about. You have changed my life.

Sandy K 9:29 PM  

Got to your puzzle a bit late. You and Jeff Chen did a great job- really clever and enjoyable!

Now for the post-Oscar PARTy!!

Carola 10:19 PM  

@loren - I join Sandy K in the late crowd. Congratulations to you and Jeff on the very nifty puzzle. I left one square blank - the spot @Bob Kerfuffle referred to. I like 45D + 23A.

Tita 10:56 PM  

The SW SMITEd me.

But was a good Friday - kept at it on and off, but finally had to get the last coupla letters in there.

2 annoyances:
I would never ever say "YOUOWEME" if I did someone a genuine favor. I think that is part of the definition of doing a favor.
It's called being nice...


What a gobsmackingly arbitrary clue at 2D. I suppose that it is smeant to conjure up the dark ages when American High Schools taught only those 2 languages, and therefore, it would be only us olderlies who would be RUSTY?
My French and Spanish are assex beuno. My German, on the other hand - now THAT is RUSTY (@Ulrich - Oder?)

Wow - @RetChem - great points.

Off to LALA Land next!

Tita 10:59 PM  

Squinting my eyes as I read, afraid of Loren/Jeff spoilers.
But mostly, just needed to check off the mailme box.

sanfranman59 11:02 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:07, 6:14, 1.14, 94%, Challenging
Tue 6:14, 8:09, 0.76, 1%, Easy (2nd lowest ratio of 180 Tuesdays)
Wed 8:14, 10:03, 0.82, 10%, Easy
Thu 16:17, 16:58, 0.96, 39%, Easy-Medium
Fri 24:17, 21:35, 1.13, 77%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:55, 3:46, 1.04, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 3:48, 4:47, 0.79, 2%, Easy (3rd lowest ratio of 180 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:04, 5:54, 0.86, 12%, Easy
Thu 9:32, 9:56, 0.96, 38%, Easy-Medium
Fri 14:06, 12:19, 1.14, 73%, Medium-Challenging

OK OK ... I relent ... after looking at the replay, I have to agree that no foul is warranted. I guess I just really wanted A-minor to be correct.

acme 11:50 PM  

awww, you just made me cry.
c'mon, you're a natural! So glad you followed your heart!

Kristin 12:21 AM  

Thought ISOMERS would have been a better answer than ATOMS but too many letters! (it's not just the atoms it's how they're arranged ..something you could pick up even from the wiki entry.) I'm rather a science dummy myself though, so maybe I shouldn't quibble.

Stereochemist 10:05 AM  

Both sides of the argument are technically correct. A stereochemist would need to focus on the arrangement of the atoms, and also on which atoms were being used in said arrangement. Both are essential to doing any useful analysis.

Anonymous 7:51 PM  

Nope not boring at all! I had angle for the longest time, a better answer than atoms, I thought!


Anonymous 10:58 AM  

This puzzle appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on June 21 - we're always way behind.

Anyway, I don't know how Rex can say he "struggles" with anything when he finishes the puzzles in 8 minutes!

I am proud when I finish Fri. or Sat. within an hour (if I Google, I consider that DNF.)

Anyway, whoever said "You can hear people yell "Oye" meaning look.....

Your high school Spanish is Rusty. Oye means listen. Mira means look.

Loved the puzzle in general - agree the ABCs clue was no good.

Red Valerian 11:41 AM  

@Anonymous 10.58: Welcome to Syndi-land. The syndicated version of the Mon-to-Sat puzzles run five weeks late, and the Sunday ones one week. So, there's a disconcerting time-warpedness out here.

Loved the puzzle, and actually found it easy. Things just kept fitting in. Usually, if I find a Friday even do-able, it's rated Easy by Rex!

spacecraft 11:53 AM  

Under 9 what? MINUTES??? Liar! No human being could POSSIBLY do this puzzle in under 9 minutes. Took me two hours, and I didn't take a break.

Ah, but I got 'er done, I did! Not without some awfully time-consuming missteps--the Much/MOST/DocTor_GELO_E problem. Could we have a rebus center square? STRAN all crowded in there together? But then I saw PRActical (!) at 31d. And that was a whole nother story.

In two spots I was able to fill in parts of an answer definitely without knowing the rest of it: the key, which had to be some letter from A to G plus M__OR; also some letter-prefixed _STAR in the SW. But the A's of _STAR and PRActical abutted at 54a, which gave me pause. Then I thought: oh, no: PRAGMATIC is the same length--and starts with the same three letters! Oh man, that's nasty! So, straightened that one out. My entire southwestern quadrant is a mess of overwrites. I should do endweek puzzles in pencil, really I should.

Of course, I also made the BaTS error at first. The "literary classic' (?) had me going, even with _EATHIN_E_ICE all in. And my central down had __aICON_AL___. Then the aha! took place, and I could at last tackle the NW and SE corners.

I don't know enough about stereochemistry to have been put off by ATOMS; it seemed reasonable to me. (Sometimes ignorance helps!) I did think that nuts rattling around in a TOOLCASE seemed a bit messy, but then, Bob Vila I am NOT.

So my grid, albeit untidy, is completed, with no help or errors. But 9 minutes? No way. You'd be callin' Ken Jennings "dummy."

I loved it, not only because I felt triumphant at finishing, but for the centerpiece DRSTRANGELOVE, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. How could you not love a movie with the line:
"Gentlemen! You can't fight in here; this is the War Room!" (Spoken, curiously, by the same actor who played the title role!)

Solving in Seattle 3:18 PM  

Anyone care to maMbo? No. How about saMbA? No. Then would you care to RUMBA? Finally, a yes SIREE!

@spacecraft, LOL when I read your reminder of the DRSTRANGELOVE line. Thanks.

Grin at TOPLESS being on the bottom, and next to SECRET and under YOUOWEME. Hmmm, is there a story here. Care to dance?

Wasn't AGUSTUS BALBOA Rocky's dad?

Good puzzle, Josh.

Capcha: longus sphyby. A really bad social disease?

DMGrandma 4:22 PM  

Didn't enjoy this one at all! Got the NW corner and a bunch of words scattered here and there, but with no idea about the three long crosses, the rest was pretty hopeless. Actually get more pleasure out of @SIS' sharing of captchas! Mine are pretty boring lately, unless today's reflects my feeling about this puzzle: was raphopl

Solving in Seattle 4:37 PM  

Actually, @DMG, your capcha, "was raphopl," is a little known expression of inner-city musical bliss. I once witnessed raphopl at a LL Cool J recording session.

rain forest 5:28 PM  

I'd say this is almost a terrific puzzle. It kept my attention for almost as long as @Spacecraft, but he/she completed it, but I did not. The NW was my undoing, though nothing there was unwieldy or ungettable, but I couldn't wield or get today. Let me say, though, that I learned the Cuban dance as RHUMBA from my Mom, and I could not let go of that. I winced at TOOLCASE, but that's what it had to be, as I accepted MELC, thinking, who would have Melc as a name?

I eventually had to swallow ATOMS (you hardly notice them) even though the clue is essentially incorrect as @retired chemist pointed out. I was trying to think of some sort of isomer (enantiomer), or something to do with optical activity, but it had to be ATOMS, even though incorrect, and I will NOT be angry about it. It's a case of the constructor knowing a little about something, and unfortunately showing it off. Had the clue said "focus of Dalton", it would have engendered no objections. It's OK. I expect to DNF on a Friday or Saturday, and I lived up (down) to my expectations today.

Syndi Solver 8:32 PM  

This was a challenge for me. I was completely stuck in the upper NW corner. I finally had to google "NYC 22" -- I had no idea there was a TV show called that. I barely know that CSI:MIAMI is (was?) a show. Also had to cheat to get ZUMA. You'd think I would have figured out CRAZIER but I never saw it because I had put in saMBA for 7 Down.

At least 34 Across was a gimme for me. That plus 15 Down (SILICON VALLEY) helped me get into the middle and do the rest of the puzzle on my own.

Reminder - the ongoing TV show about the time traveller is "Doctor Who" (doctor should be spelled out) and the 1960s classic comedy film is "DR. STRANGELOVE" (doctor is abbreviated). :-)

Syndi Solver 8:48 PM  

I forgot to mention the 5 Down clue, Member of the Ennead.

I only know about the Enneads, the collection of writings by Plotinus. And I know Ennead means nine since they were collected into groups of nine. But that's the extent of my knowledge.

I had no idea that the word Ennead was used for a group of nine Egyptian gods. So there's something new that I learned.

Anonymous 1:49 AM  

I am always amazed when travelling in the States - my favorite country by the way - at how most of your daily newspapers have virtually no coverage of international news. Zuma should be a given for anyone with even the slightest knowledge of world affairs. Try these...David ______ (U.K. Prime MInister)...Francois ___________(Pres. of France)....Stephen_________(Prime Minister of Canada) Felipe___________(President of Mexico 2006-12)...Do you really have to Google these guys???

Syndi Solver 11:28 AM  

Anonymous 1:49, I completely agree that ZUMA (if nothing else because of his checkered history, multiple wives, etc.) should be known to most folks without having to look up his name.

My memory is not so good due to 20+ years of illness. One reason that I do these crosswords is to fight against brain fog. It's strange that my brain can remember things like The Enneads by Plotinus but forget the current president of South Africa.

I hope it does not sound like I'm trying to excuse myself. I agree with your main point that US news outlets are pretty bad at covering international news.

PS. I got 3 out of 4 on your quiz. I could not remember the former Mexican president, sadly. I kept thinking of Fox but that was much longer ago.

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