Japanese sliding door / FRI 5-10-13 / Moldau composer / 1950s backup group with four top 10 hits / Bill in bow tie / Party label for Brit PM William Gladstone / Hometown of band Hanson / Much filmed swinger

Friday, May 10, 2013

Constructor: Derek Bowman

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: None 

Word of the Day: SHOJI (48D: Japanese sliding door) —
n., pl., shoji, or -jis.
A translucent screen consisting of a wooden frame covered in rice paper, used as a sliding door or partition in a Japanese house.

[Japanese shōji : shō, barrier, screen (from Middle Chinese tsiang) + ji, seed, n. suff. (from Middle Chinese tsz).]
• • •

Hey, we're allowing 16s now, for no thematic reason? OK, cool. Not the biggest stack fan in the world, but this 16 stack does not result in the disastrous fill that usually accompanies 15 stacks, for whatever reason, so I'll take it. Clean and interesting fill all around, with the short / weaker stuff spread out and inconspicuous. Nice that two of the 16s relate to one another, too. The one weird thing about this puzzle was how cut off the NE and SW corners are—just a one-square opening connecting them to the rest of the grid. OK, that's not *that* weird, but what that segmentation does is turn those corners into independent mini-puzzles. and the SE corner mini-puzzle was on a whole different plane of Difficulty from the rest of the grid. I ran TARZAN THE APEMAN down into that corner easily (4D: Much-filmed swinger), and early, but after that ... yikes. Got ROY (62D: "The Natural" hero Hobbes) and guessed TEJANO (65A: Certain Mexican-American) but having *zero* idea about SHOJI (never heard of it) (48D: Japanese sliding door), SENG (ditto) (54D: Hong Kong's Hang ___ Index) and "Tarantula hawk" (ditto ditto) (46A: Tarantula hawk, e.g. => WASP), I was in a bit of a jam there for a bit. Not sure how I got out of it. I think ISOMER was a gut-level guess that I tested out (61A: Chemistry test topic). And STINGY just came to me, eventually (67A: Tight). Even so, I crawled through that corner, whereas I sprinted through the rest of the puzzle. Finished under 7. Not bad, especially considering the extra-wide grid.

I had a few errant answers today. Thought Hanson was from OMAHA (five letters, ends in A, more common in crosswords than TULSA ... well, I thought it was a good guess) (12D: Hometown of the band Hanson); thought [Culture centers?] were TEES. See, that's me, outsmarting a clue that isn't being smart. Or, that is being smart. Smarter than I. Don't even remember seeing the clue at 35D: Party label for Brit. P.M. William Gladstone (LIB), which is just as well, since I wouldn't have known it anyway. I was happy to get SMETANA from just a few crosses, even though SMETANA is my least favoritely named composer (25D: "The Moldau" composer). His name sounds like a synonym for "phlegm." Do people outside New York remember AL D'AMATO? I'm inside New York, so it was practically a gimme for me (37D: Chuck Schumer's predecessor in the Senate).

First thought on seeing the clue at 58D: Pull felt on earth: "Why would you want to pull felt, and where else would you do it besides earth?"

Drank a lot at dinner (it's the last day of classes, so I felt entitled), so now I'm gonna go drink a lot of water and watch "The Daily Show." See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:03 AM  

Easy medium.  Zipped through the top half but hit some resistance in the bottom.   Had AMPs for AMPM for too long which kept good old AL D'AMATO a mystery for a while.  Plus, I kept reading the 65a clue for 55a and wondered what Mexican-American was four letters starting with S?  Ah, the joys of dyslexia.   So, maybe this was actually easy over all? 

All that said I DNF.  Had ANi for 24a and never looked back.  Although, I probably would have left it in as I am completely unfamiliar with SMETANA (but I did know the COMETS).

Liked it.  A fair amount of zip and only a few clunkers...MSS, OTTS (plural, really?), ANS (got to include it)...  And, I was a big fan of "Men of a Certain Age". 

Aryan Comets Mssssss 12:13 AM  

Was gonna scream my head off about half the puzzle being baseball:

But then I realized its EQUALly about film:
SKG, MOVIESETS, OSCARNODS, APU, Scott BAKULA, TARZANTHEAPEMAN...and the sole mention of a woman, Cher in a film no one saw.

The realityis i loved those smooth triple stacks of nonawkwardness.

Evidence #836 that @Rex isnot Jewish. SMETANA would have reminded him of sourcream, not phlegm!

Acme 12:18 AM  

P.S. 5 K = 1 X...SXOR!!!!

Benko 2:09 AM  

I liked this one better than the last few. Some interesting entries you don't usually see: YOWZA, TEJANO, WINGTIP, BAUHAUS,etc.
I know I've seen SHOJI before in puzzles but didn't recall it. Have to add it to my crosswordese list I try to memorize.
I know for sure I've seen TARZAN THE APE MAN running down the left side of a NYT grid before.
Yes, I do remember Alphonse D'AMATO, despite not being a New Yorker. I was not a fan of his politics, and he was pretty outspoken.
Hang SENG was also news to me, but I'm not as informed as I should be about modern China in general. need to brush up.

Anoa Bob 2:10 AM  

DNFed in the NE and SW "mini-puzzles". BAKULA? Nope. SHOJI or SENG? Nope.

SKOR & SKG sharing the same puzzle? YOWZA!

Anyone notice a POC in one of the grid-spanners?

Big SMETANA fan, so that was fun. Listening right now to Rex's link to "The Moldau". Good stuff.

Acme 2:12 AM  

Oops, one wrong letter...ISOMaR/SaNG

r.alphbunker 2:33 AM  

TARZANoftheapes, LITTLELEAGUEgame and ISTHATeverything slowed me down a little. Finished with SHOgI because of its similarity to shogun.

chefwen 2:38 AM  

Started off with a mini Google fest with 19A, 25D, 27D and 37D. All of whom I have never heard before (I don't get out much). After that. the whole thing fell like a bunch of Domino's.

Got Andrea's book NO KIDDING in the mail today and look forward to reading it tomorrow when I take my husband to the hospital for one of those tests that no one wants to talk about. That should make 3-4 hours go by quickly.

C. Ross Word 2:57 AM  

Fun, easy Friday but had pST crossing SpETANA which sounds even more like phlegm! Ruined my perfect week thus far. ALAS!

Octavian 3:26 AM  

Rated this as "super-easy" as it hit right in my sweet spot. Probably my fastest Friday of the year.

Immediately wrote in "Tarzan of the Apes" (which fits) as it was the first Edgar Rice Burroughs book in the series. "Tarzan the Ape Man" was the first movie. Fixed it pretty quickly though.

Hang SENG, ROY Hobbes, Little League, Baseball Diamond, Nats, Von, Comets, SKG, Nye, Trib all barely required any thought at all, like a Monday.

Love the "Yowza" -- great word.

syndy 4:23 AM  

It's still a lot of baseball in one puzzle.I had Sens for Nats-Weren't they the Senators? I had finished and I still didn,t understand the clue for FOAM...for a very long time! I dredged Al up but it might have been easier with punctuation.What did all this have to do with Mothers Day anyway?

Mike in DC 5:25 AM  

@Syndy: I made the Sens mistake, too, and I live in DC, where the Nationals play. "They" weren't the Senators; the Nationals relocated from Montreal, where they were the Expos. But there were two American League baseball teams (and more teams in other leagues and/or other sports) named the Senators. One moved from DC to Minnesota and became the Twins. The other moved from DC to Texas and became the Rangers.

Milford 7:12 AM  

One of those Fridays where patiently staring at the grid and circling the clues paid off in a finished grid, so medium for me. Agree that the isolation of those two corners made it tougher - they were the last areas I finished.

DNF because I had ANe/eMETANA in the end. Husband helped me with Hang SENG.

Since I'm light years slower than @Rex, I was still solving when The Daily Show was on. David Sedaris is the best.

OTD 7:35 AM  

Easy, enjoyable Friday. Loved the fill--in general--with TEJANO, SMETANA, ISOMER, WINGTIP, BAKULA, and all of the 15s.


Bob Kerfuffle 7:37 AM  

I can't be the only one?!? - Lost time reading the clue for 63 A, "Cursorily" as "Curiosity"!

And then finished with a wrong letter at the cross of 65 A and 62 D: had TEJANA and RAY. (Both perfectly reasonable, if like me you forgot the name from "The Natural".)

Nice puzle otherwise.

Mohair Sam 7:42 AM  

Rats! Never saw TEJANO in print, and never heard of SHOJI, so I guessed x instead of J and therefore end with a fast DNF this morning.

Really nice puzzle, btw. Nice mix of clues, very little annoying fill.

Dastardly Richard 7:48 AM  

SMETANA reminds you of phlegm? Strange, I find it much closer to, and reminds me of, smegma.

No knock on the composer; just a matter (heh, heh) of word structure.

Z 7:48 AM  

I'm outside NY so I didn't remember ALDA MATO. The SW killed me. SHOJI and SENG were never going to happen.

Didn't realize it was a 16x15 but I did realize that it was a very clean triple stack. If they were all this clean OFL would have less to complain about (and really, who wants that?).

@sydney-this is a Mother's Day tribute to all the little league games moms have dragged their kids to over the years. Back in the day it was just the boys and dads often carried the load. But one of the unintended consequences of Title IX is far more girls do sports and the "soccer mom" is now a thing, with some moms I know going to two or three games on a single Saturday.

Loren Muse Smith 7:55 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 7:57 AM  

@chefwen – sending positive vibes your way.

After I CURSORILY, uh, perused the grid, I thought it’d be another late week dnf. But I got TARZAN THE APE MAN off of only VON’s N and then IS THAT ALL THERE IS off of that H, and I was off and running.

Rex – I went the “tees” route, too, feeling bad for all of those people who hate such clues. And I also immediately put in “Omaha” for those guys, feeling bad about myself that I even knew that. Lastly, SHOJI was one of my earliest entries. Different wheelHAUSes and all that. (@Ulrich, @Carola, @Tita, @Gill I.P. – I know it’s actually häuser.)

Scott Baio is the only Scott B who came to mind, and I kept vaguely wondering if I just needed a couple more vowels. Baiuao. There.

RESTAIN, A COAT. . . Makes me fret about our deck. ALAS. “Geeze” before YOWZA.

Wasn’t it ONEG SMETANA who was AL D’AMATO’s partner in Dancing with the Stars?

And while I’m on names, SKOR could be the name of a young Viking. “SKOR, pick up that chainmail and put away your shield before we all go berserk.”

OPAL/OPAQUE –is that a good cross? I don’t really get OPAQUE, “translucent”. . .

The clue for 9D was devious – a Monday clue IMO. I had “bout” for a long time.

Anyone want to skI SOME Rough SLALOMS?

I would have lived the rest of my life never knowing this was a 16x15. Is this the first ever triple 16 stack?

Very well done, Derek. I enjoyed it.

Glimmerglass 7:57 AM  

@Dastardly Richard. Like you, SMETANA always reminds me of smegma, one of the most repulsive words in the language (look it up).

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

I had TARZANTHEAPEMAN and plonked down LITMUS instead of ISOMER and that threw me off for a while.

Jack Lee 8:14 AM  

Another "Google is your friend" puzzle for me, and did not complete due to the NW corner. OSCARNODS? Really??

Mohair Sam 8:20 AM  

YOWZA brings to mind Gig Young's OSCARNOD in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" - the 1969 movie that proved Jane Fonda could act. Outstanding flick, btw.

GILL I. 8:27 AM  

@Acme - laughed at SXOR...First thing I did when I finished was to run the alphabet!
I like @Z's ALDA MATO or is it ALDAM ATO?
Like others, I had little trouble with the long answers. I too, didn't notice the 16s; two of them plurals. @Ellen S and I had lunch yesterday at a TEJANO restaurante - it was YOWZA good and I've seen SHOJI before. I still missed that FOAM/SOAK/KAVA area so although I enjoyed the pizzle, I couldn't finish....Waaa.

dk 8:42 AM  

@chefwen, If you have questions I have friends in the tests we do not talk about world.

@Z, forwarded your email to a certain Mr. Cummings under the category of how quickly we are relegated to the back waters. For some fun give a listen to the Post-Punk: Suburban Lawns. Photographed them all… back in the day.

So if your ever in the Shire stop by Franconia Sculpture Park and prepare to be amazed. @Zs comments yesterday had me thinking of music's early 70's reaction to descent into mush (sorry Bee Gees but you were mush). Last night was a presentation by young sculptors who are wrestling with and reacting to similar issues (art as mush) with a blend of stone, metal, wood and smart glass (look it up). YOWZA -- cue Circle Game by J. Mitchell.

Whoops the puzzle. Had the Phoenix coming out of FIRES so I totaled f'd up the lower left. Other than my mistakes the puzzles was fine Friday fare.

My mom liked OPALs and ran her share of SLALOMS so I guess this is about moms.

⚾⚾⚾ (3 base balls)

MetaRex 8:48 AM  

Used Google to confirm SKOR and BAKULA...feelin' bad about that peccadillo as even a robot villain like MR can...translated my frustration into a rant about cluing...ya can read all about it at MR has a hissy-fit

Unknown 8:59 AM  

Well, if I drank a lot of water just prior to The Daily Show, I would not get a full night's sleep, I guarantee you that.

Anyhoo. I never noticed this was 16x15 either. And on a lark, I tackled the stacked 16s first and got them right off the bat (see what I did there?). It was fun looking at the grid with just those three long answers filled in.

Never heard of SMETANA. Am a fan of KAVA.

Enjoyed this one!

Matthew G. 9:24 AM  

The whole Nationals/Senators thing is confusing, even for baseball fans. In the 19th century, there was a National League team called the Washington Nationals officially, except when they were referred to as the Washington Statesmen. Then, in the 20th century, there were two different incarnations of American League teams called the Washington Senators, and both of those clubs were occasionally unofficially called the Nationals in nostalgia for the 19th century club. Now, in the 21st century, there is once again a club officially named the Washington Nationals.

Matthew G. 9:28 AM  

This was super-easy for a Friday, but I agree with Rex that the SW corner was pretty brutal. Like him, I got APEMAN and ROY down there and little else for some time, until I suddenly had the inspiration to try ASHES for {Phoenix setting?}. Then it came together.

Had to guess on the SMETANA/MST crossing, as I have not heard of that composer and I can never remember whether Arizona is on Pacific or Mountain time -- they make it so confusing by not using daylight-saving time.

joho 9:28 AM  

This is fabulous which I DNF due to the SW corner. I actually know SHOJI but could't see it because I had SToNed for STINGY. So ROy became ROD. Am kicking my self for not remembering TEJANO! DONTTELL!

Anyway, loved the stacked 16's and all the freshness in the grid, YOWZA being my favorite!

@chefwen, hope all goes well!

Derek, great puzzle!

Stephen Spielberg 9:41 AM  

The first band we at Dreamworks SKG signed to our music division was named eels. Just thought you should know.

John V 10:00 AM  

What @rex said, exactly. Did not notice the 16s.

LOVE Smetana, esp Die Moldau.

Nice easy start to the weekend.

Carola 10:06 AM  
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Carola 10:08 AM  

A STORYBOOK Friday puzzle, I thought. Pretty much up my alley, except for Hobbes' first name and the Hong Kong index. My varient was having ROo crossing STINko (for "tight"). So DNF, but DNC (did not care) because the rest was so much fun.

@Anoa Bob and @John V -Another SMETANA fan here. Love "The Moldau."

quilter1 10:09 AM  

Proud to say I knew SHOJI. Too bad I didn't know much else. Too much baseball for me. I had sens for a long time before NATS. A good Friday puzzle. I enjoyed the tussle.

Eric 10:19 AM  

Seemed like a dual-themed puzzle to me....baseball and movies. Or just baseball movies. I'm astounded we didn't have any mention of Kevin Costner today...given the fact that he's in some of the best baseball movies aver made:

Bull Durham
Field of Dreams
For the Love of the Game

No, we get Scott BAKULA, star of the modern classic Major League 3: Back to the Minors .

The Natural was great, so that was good to see here.

Other awesome baseball movies:

The Sandlot
Eight Men Out
Major League
A League of Their Own

John V 10:37 AM  

Just bought the Smetana for my phone for the drive home (Albany to Norwalk) this afternoon. Life is good :-)

Gareth Bain 10:38 AM  

Of course if SHOJI was a gimme (I think I learned it from another crossword) that corner is a cinch. I do agree that constricted sections in themelesses can be problematic and lead to a choppy experience... @ACME: But we don't know the sex of the LITTLELEAGUETEAM, if it's a girls team, then there's 10 women! Isn't BAKULA also part of the baseball theme? Isn't his most famous role, after Quantum Leap, that cheesy angels/baseball film? I suppose there was Enterprise too...

Two Ponies 10:44 AM  

Wow, I'm surprised at all of the "easy" ratings.
Too many proper names that were totally unknown to me.
Tarantula hawk is a great name for an insect. At least I learned something.

Ed C 10:47 AM  
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Ed C 10:49 AM  

I didn't know if Phoenix is in the mountain or pacific time zone, so I wound up with a composer named SPETANA.


Jeffrey 11:15 AM  

If the Expos had stayed in Montreal you wouldn't be having this problem.

Sandy K 11:15 AM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle- was able to get TARZAN THE APE MAN, LITTLE LEAGUE TEAM, BASEBALL DIAMONDS, and other good stuff AT A GLANCE.

Being from Czechoslovakia, I know my 2 Czech composers, Dvorak and SMETANA.

Saw The Natural, so recalled ROY Hobbes- Robert Redford. Caught a bit of Burlesque before changing the channel- enough to remember that Cher played Tess (not of the D'Urbervilles)- Knew Al D'Amato and J Lo played Selena, a TEJANa...

So this played pretty 'Cursorily' in my BAUHAUS?

Mel Ott 11:17 AM  


No puzzle is easy that crosses SKG with KALEL and SHOJI with TEJANO.

@Eric: Bad News Bears
Bang the Drum Slowly

Joe The Juggler 11:19 AM  

I was undone by FOAM (head makeup).

Ugh--and I finally got it. It's the makeup of the head on a glass of beer.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

I missed completing my first Friday puzzle by the cross between TEJANO and ROY, which could just as well have been TEJANA and RAY. Really? That's all he could come up in that mini corner? F***ing NATICK.

Katie Dyer 11:26 AM  

I love Smetana, and I'm enjoying listening to the Moldau Thanks for the link, Rex. Did you know that Smetana means sour cream?

Eric 11:35 AM  
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retired_chemist 11:38 AM  

Medium-hard, becuse there were a lot of unfamiliarities and alternatives. Hand up for TARZAN OF THE APES. Also NO WAY! for 20A and JOR-EL for 52D (and I wouldn't know SJG from SKG since each is just three random letters to me). SKOR was another WTF.

REPAINT for RESTAIN, KITE for 46A since it is some kind of large bird of prey, HAVE, not MAKE, to start 10D, etc. All speed bumps.

Knew Hand SENG, SHOJI (been to Japan several times), and BAUHAUS, all of which helped.

Despite my difficulties I really liked this puzzle. Very little bad fill, two related 16s, the 3 stack all add up to a good one. Thanks, Mr. Bowman.

Eric 11:42 AM  

I went to the Catskills a lot as a kid and was introduced to the klezmer classic "In the Palace of the Czar" by Bruce Adler....since then, 20 years later, I still haven't been able to get it out of my head...

A classic line: "...we were sharing tea and herring / dipped banana in SMETANA / borscht and vorscht around the Samovar OLE!"

Vorscht, fyi, is vodka & borscht.

....so there you go.

miriam b 11:50 AM  

@Katiie: Yes, SMETANA means sour cream, definitely in Russian & prolly in other Slavic languages. Shame on certain people.

Masked and Anonymo4Us 12:22 PM  

Looked at the grid design, saw the big L shapes cradling two columns. Knew right then there was an even number of columns. Or a-symmetry, which woulda been cool, after yesterday's unchecked moms.

Almost a pangram. Lacks an X. Haven't figured out the Mothers Day theme part, yet. Tough meta-puz. Unless yer mom is named Rosy or Tess. Or Yowza.

Fave clue: the COMETS one. As in Bill Halley & the...

Awfulest clue: the ANS one. Turned a weeject I knew into a French quiz. snort.

Fave debut word: SKG. I think Spielberg is the S part. Honorable mention to SKOR.

Top reasons to drink lots of water while watchin the Daily Show...
1. Can spit-spray at funniest jokes.
2. Can dilute 10% blood-alcohol content, so then able to aim head at tv screen.
3. Wife dropped pappy-reeka can in tonight's chili dog stew.
4. Leak in celing, right above fave barko-lounger seat.
5. Reliving the last Jeff Chen puz. [HOH one]

jberg 12:33 PM  

Those of us expecting another Mother's Day puzzle were left asking "IS THAT ALL THERE IS?" But I agree with the easy. Like @Retired_Chemist I had NO WAY for YOWZA, which is all that saved me from TARZAN OF THE APES. Also had TExANO, for the pangram, before I rememberd SHOJI. Since the latter is a transliteration, I guess you could do SHOxI with a 'var.' clue, but it would be a stretch.

Of course, the best part was the giant giants and short shortstops. And we're going to see the Red Sox on Mother's Day, so I guess that's all right.

jackj 12:41 PM  

An excellent puzzle from Derek Bowman with lots to like in this unusual Friday 16x15 puzzle, stretched to allow for the three 16 triple stacks that are fresh, fun and per Jim Horne at XWord Info, a first for crosswords. Continuing along this course opens up a host of opportunities for themeless constructor’s to freshen up their offerings, to the benefit of all Crossworld.

Of course, there is one noted themeless impresario waiting in the wings to resuscitate one of his (too) often used crossword standards by entering it into the 16 stack derby clued as, “Pigged out at the buffet, with “had””, for ALOTONONESPLATES.

I liked the baseball entries but loved the film entries, especially OSCARNODS that looks as if Derek plucked it directly from a “Variety” headline and I didn’t know that Satyajit Ray did the APU Kwik-E-Mart commercials for Indian TV. Fancy that!

Nice to be reminded of ALDAMATO, “Senator Pothole”, and the charming memory of Sen. D’Amato crooning, “South of the Border, Down Mexico Way”, on C-Span during one of his unique filibusters (that time trying to protect jobs in upstate New York from moving to Mexico).

Thanks, Derek!

OISK 12:48 PM  

I finished fairly quickly, but now see I had two errors. I wrote "stoned" for "tight" using the alcohol reference instead of the stingy, and then had Shojo, Shojo, Shoji, who knew, And Hang Sene - I should have known that was wrong, but Stoned lookes so right... Which left Rod Hobbs instead of Roy, again, I should have known, but Stoned looked so right...
I had a natick yesterday and one on Monday - not a good week for me!
However, my personal failures notwithstanding, a very nice Friday puzzle.

M and A also 12:54 PM  

Some young one-ups-manship constructor should do a 15 x 15 puz, with a triple-stacked 17's in the middle. Just sayin...

Paul Keller 1:22 PM  

I really enjoyed this one. Lots of hard going but was able to finish all but three crossings:

TEJANO-SHOJI (guessed X before J)
ANS-SMETANA (thought it had to be a vowel)

The NW and SE minipuzzles went last. The NW fell to inspired (lucky?) guesses on OPAL from the L, TULSA from SA, and then COMETS (never heard of 'em). In the SE, the big break was realizing 46A could be WASP, which lead to correctong OBEYS to WAITS and so forth.

Nice puzzle!

Melodious Funk 2:11 PM  

I rarely if ever use Google to assist in solving. Nope, I ain't that smart. I use Wikipedia. This forces me to actually learn something. Often I use the in-app search function, a useful shortcut, but still...

Many times, Google will have the puzzle solution pop up in the search screen, that's no fun. De gustibus...

Lewis 2:33 PM  

What do you mean it's not a Mother's Day puzzle? There are nine places where (if you read left to right, right to left, up, or down) where you will find MA hidden away for your finding pleasure!

I had the most trouble in the SW, and this puzzle put up a decent fight, felt medium for a Friday. Never heard of SHOJI or TEJANO and guessed x for the J (Texano does sound like some sort of Mexican American to me), so oh well.

Almost unanimous positive review, and let me add my bravo to the mix!

Lewis 2:35 PM  

@rex -- laughed out loud at your "pull felt on earth" riff.

jae 3:09 PM  

TEJANO is also related to the film mini theme @andrea. It is a music genre (it was clued as music in a recent puzzle) that got national attention when the Tejano artist Selena was murdered by her former fan club president. Jennifer Lopez starred in a bio pic about her. Tejano is Spanish for Texan.

retired_chemist 3:19 PM  

Interesting that a completely different clue could be used for 58D.

Universal red cell donor. Answer: O NEG.

Noam D. Elkies 4:08 PM  

Thanks for the SMETANA link. The main tune is close enough to Ha-Tikvah that before Israel was founded orchestras, forbidden by the British authorities from playing Ha-Tikvah, would often program Ma Vlast!

NDE [captcha #1 = assurne, which looks a lot like "assume" in this rendition...]

Noam D. Elkies 4:40 PM  

@retired_chemist: 58D is also "____ Shabbat (Friday night reception)", a route to ONEG which hasn't been used yet (according to xwordinfo) but should be kosher for Fri/Sat.

mac 5:31 PM  

Nice but easy puzzle - really in my "wheelhouse".

I remember d'Amato but I still needed a lot of crosses.... Head make-up and the Phoenix/ashes set were great. The K in SKG and Kalel was the last letter to go in.

Between jet lag and high tree pollen count I can hardly open my eyes....

mac 5:31 PM  

Now on to Gareth's LIT puzzle!

jackj 5:36 PM  


It's not much comfort, but you're not alone in suffering from the tree pollen count.

Beats a blizzard, I suppose.

LaneB 7:54 PM  

The YOWZA and OSCARNODS answers left me with a few until label blanks in the NW corner. OTherwise, getting the long answers right away made the puzzle doable. However, for me there are very few "easy" Fridays, this not being one of them.

retired_chemist 8:31 PM  

@ NDE - if that clue ever gets used I will remember it. Interesting.

Al Rodbell 9:34 PM  

DaMato, who could forget how he was unseated. He expected a polite nice Jewish boy would go after him on the issue. Instead, from the start Schumer when for the kill, attack after attack, that must have stunned him. Al hadn't prepared for this and came off looking weak. He had to settle for being a lobbyist and making ten times his Senator salary.

So it goes.

sanfranman59 10:06 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 6:13, 6:14, 1.00, 47%, Medium
Tue 9:05, 8:14, 1.10, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:15, 10:07, 0.91, 29%, Easy-Medium
Thu 16:52, 16:58, 0.99, 48%, Medium
Fri 17:27, 20:54, 0.83, 19%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:53, 3:44, 1.04, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:38, 4:49, 1.17, 86%, Challenging
Wed 5:33, 5:59, 0.93, 32%, Easy-Medium
Thu 9:28, 9:56, 0.95, 35%, Easy-Medium
Fri 10:30, 12:00, 0.87, 26%, Easy-Medium

Tita 11:27 PM  

@lms - we just COATed and RESTAINed our deck!

@Sandy K - last time I heard SMETANA was at a concert held on the grand staricase of the National Museu, Was wonderful!

Had jorEL before KALEL, Brother-in-law called my brother that - his approzimation to the very tough for non-natives "Joao" (a with tilde).

I have been buried at work. Really cuts into puzzle enjoyment and solving effectiveness! I felt great, getting thte tarzan thing, and all 3 16s...but then got stuck.

On to Saturday!

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spacecraft 10:37 AM  

Hi all (not just Mom!). My absence for a couple days was caused by a puter glitch: this page wouldn't load. "Apphang B1." Luckily, it went away after some tinkering. All luck, just so ya know; it's not like I knew what I was doing.

Today's offering had spots of difficulty for me. For one, I thought sure Phoenix was in the Pacific zone, same as Las Vegas where I live. But SpETANA vs. SMETANA? No. Another was the AMFM/SOAK/KAVA section that was giving trouble for others. I'm still scratching my head over how you get FOAM out of "Head makeup." Any ideas? I gues they use foam for stuff like Klingon heads...but really.

Pretty clever, not only the 15s including the 35a/42a "theme," but also the fact that the crosses aren't all a series of mostly four-letter junk. Longish downs come into it as smoothly as could be expected. Crap-free? no. I especially dislike those musical keys, like INB. But it's a small price for all the goodies. Good job, Derek!

Read First, Then Write 10:42 AM  


Joe The Juggler 11:19 AM

I was undone by FOAM (head makeup).

Ugh--and I finally got it. It's the makeup of the head on a glass of beer.

dand/d_delotto@comcast.net 1:10 PM  

We don't get the NYT Friday puzzles in our daily paper on the day that they apeear in the Times. They usually lag the publishing date by a month. At the risk of seeming poorly read, which I confess to, I wish that there was more criticism of the intersections that I saw in this puzzle, and many others in past puzzles.

The D'Amato crossing with APU and shoji with tejano should be strongly criticized. If I was a puzzle editor I would not publish this puzzle.

One intersection is clearly, by Rex's definition, a Natick and the other is crossing two words from other languages in a sense. It's a Natick to me.

This is a mass media puzzle. Rex, your standard was 1/4 of the media reading public. These clues don't meet the criteria. Puzzle editors do your job!

Syndi Solver 1:49 PM  

I've had a flu for a week so I've not been here much. This is sad for me mostly since I didn't get to say how much I loved the Tuesday H-O-H (WATER WATER) puzzle by Jeff Chen. Easy but very fun, so perfect for a Tuesday. So, here are some belated kudos for that puzzle. Oh, and I wanted to post a link to an XKCD comic to tease a bit about the "incorrect" DRWHO entry. :-)

http://xkcd.com/1221/ (Who's on first?)

I managed to finish most of today's puzzle (got TARZANTHEAPEMAN early, loved the LITTLELEAGUETEAM, ISTHATALLTHEREIS, BASEBALLDIAMONDS stack). But the SW corner was a killer.

I also guessed wrong on the letter that started -METANA. I was pretty sure that year was année in French. I could not figure how to make that plural and fit it in 3 letters. So I just guessed ANe. (oops)

Well, now I've learned that plus yet another composer. Let's hope it sticks!

Dirigonzo 3:19 PM  

To me this was an easy puzzle that I could not finish. I plugged in all of the stacked 16s in the center with only a few crosses and that was enough to see the down 15s. With all the long answers in place (and all right, for a change) I started to plug away at the short fill but ultimately came up a few squares short of a complete grid (which may be my new description for anyone who's not quite "all there"). The last two letters of BAUHAUS eluded me with no help from the crosses, and the two Asian clues crossing the Mexican-American in the SW (appropriately) did that corner in. No complaints though - it's Friday, after all.

DMGrandma 3:52 PM  

Saw that the corners had single square common points and thought "no way". In the end, however, only the composer and the politician failed to appear, and the crosses didn't help. Thus instead of my typical one square DNF, I have to confess to four. oPU sounds as good as APU if you have no idea at all, and ALDo is a real first name. My only other temporary hang-ups were dRuid for ARYAN, and totAL for EQUAL but there the crosses saved me. Wish the Captcha had crosses!

Syndi Solver 4:00 PM  

@Dirigonzo, I love "a few squares short of a complete grid" as a euphemism for not all there. Maybe I can work it into a sentence, LOL!

rain forest 6:45 PM  

@Dirigonzo--funny! I almost joined you by starting with Tarzan of the apes off just the T, and Have a strong game, when STRON was apparent. So, what essentially is an easy puzzle became rather more difficult. I had a few gimmes: KALEL, SMETANA, WINGTIPS, which helped repair the damage of my poor start, and because I really liked this puzzle, I wanted to complete it which, ultimately I did. Last square: the A in the ALDAMATO/APU cross where both were completely unknown to me. I don't know any US senators let alone their predecessors.

Dirigonzo 7:29 PM  

@rain forest - my hat is off to you. I follow (US) politics pretty closely and ALDAMATO still needed all the crosses.

I knew today was Flag Day (in the US) but I did NOT know that it is also National Bourbon Day, a factoid which I gleaned from the Evan Williams fb page - I do believe I'll drink a toast to the occasion!

Waxy in Montreal 8:51 PM  

Like @Diri and others, had little problem with the 16-letter answers but ran afoul of fill such as KAVA, MST, SKG and AMFM. TEJANO/SHOJI cross was pure guesswork but thankfully correct. Mostly a fun Friday puzzle wrapped around a STORYBOOK grad ceremony - from nursery school(!) - for our youngest granddaughter.

He was dead long before Elton John wrote the song but always conflate composer Bedřich SMETANA with Hakuna Matata from The Lion King. Sorry but that's just how my brain functions!

Ginger 11:56 PM  

Loved the puzzle today, and surprise, I was able to finish with only with 2 googles in the NE (Bakula and Tulsa). It wasn't very long ago that I wouldn't even attempt a Friday. Looking back, I should have been able to get them. I think I need more patience.

Been off line for the last few days, as we've been out of town with great grand triplets (age 5). And 4 other small great grands. I'm still recuperating. I need patience there too! LOL

@Spacecraft - I too wondered what foam had to do with 'head'. Duh

@Diri - Here's to National Bourbon Day, I'll drink to that!

The first opera I ever saw was 'The Bartered Bride' by Smetana, so he was a gimmie, on the other hand, my little short stop was playing a game. Easily solved.

Ginger 12:09 AM  

@DM Grandma - Just reading postings from the last few days. Yes, loved the Nadal/Ferrer match, but the Semi with Fed was a classic. To me Nadal is the epitome of what an athlete should be. Intensity, Focus, Extreme effort, and then when it's finished, he removes the headband and becomes a civilized young man, with an engaging personality. I'm looking forward to Wimbledon which starts in a couple of weeks.

Anonymous 7:19 PM  

Great Fathers Day present for me, with all the baseball. My favorite was Oscar Nods, who played second base for the White Sox back in the '20s. And of course Ty Cob. 50 down makin' me thirsty. Guess I'll grab a cold one and see if I can't finish Saturday before the Giants game comes on.

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