British critic Kenneth who created Oh Calcutta / FRI 7-12-13 / Daisies like botanically / Co that introduced Dungeons Dragons / Portmanteau food brand / Relatives of guinea pigs

Friday, July 12, 2013

Constructor: Matt Ginsberg

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (Easy-Medium for me, but I think I'm off-norm today)

THEME: Advice for DRIVERS (44D: Those who should follow the advice in the sounded-out answers to the five starred clues) — that advice: "KEY PURE ICE UNDER OWED!" (ID EST, "Keep your eyes on the road")

Word of the Day: Kenneth TYNAN (33A: British critic Kenneth who created "Oh! Calcutta!") —

Kenneth Peacock Tynan (2 April 1927 – 26 July 1980) was an English theatre critic and writer.
Making his initial impact as a critic at The Observer (1954–58, 1960–63), he praised Osborne's Look Back in Anger (1956), and encouraged the emerging wave of British theatrical talent. In 1963, Tynan was appointed as the new National Theatre Company's literary manager. An opponent of theatre censorship, he was the first person to say 'fuck' on British television, which was very controversial at the time. Later in his life, he settled in California where he resumed his writing career. (wikipedia)
• • •

When I saw Matt's name, I thought "this is going to be themed" (as opposed to themeless, which most Fridays are). And I was right. Instincts I have. I didn't bother to think about the asterisked clues at all as I was solving. Then I hit the revealer clue, got the first few letters from crosses, guessed DRIVERS, and was right (that SE corner went down wicked fast). I assumed I'd just go back after I was done and sound out the damned "advice." That the "advice" would be cutesy, but inessential to the solving process. Well I was half right. It is cutesy. But I damn sure needed the theme to get into the NW corner, which was keeping me locked out. I don't know from CRANK CASEs (17A: What gets the shaft?), and TYNAN and DICOTS were like "None Shall Pass!" (6D: Daisies and the like, botanically), so even though I flew through most of the rest of the grid, that corner was spotty and wouldn't budge. So I decided OK, I'll try to reverse-engineer this theme and use the answer to get the clue. Looked at OWED, figured the "advice" ended in "road," looked at PURE and ICE, and knew instantly (and Finally) that the [*Basketball area] was KEY. "K" in KEY instantly got me JACKPOT (1D: Something good to hit)—I had the "J" from JUST A [blank], which was JUST A guess at that point (1A: "Not much at all for me, please" => JUST A DROP)—and then the NW fell quickly. And that was that.

UNDER is a pretty poor "on the," but otherwise I think it's a clever little theme, neatly executed. Rather too much in the old-school dreck department. I figure you get like 10 crosswordese points to use up in any given puzzle, and some words are worth more points than others. LEU (63D: Money of Romania) and ESNES (35D: Feudal thralls) together burn about 8 of those. But most of the rest of the crosswordesish fill (TSR, T-NUTS, ETERNE, etc.) is not too bad. One of the keys to my relatively quick time today (under 7) was getting GENTLE SEX and KLEENEX in quick (instant) succession. That NE corner went down fast, and success up there trickled down to the SE, where I found DRIVERS without much trouble. Also, SWISS ALPS was pretty easy to turn up and I got WAR-TORN right away off the "W" (I refuse to acknowledge that the answer is actually WAR-WORN, as that is a silly adjective no one has ever used ever) (WAR-TORN googles 100x stronger than WAR-WORN).

Back-to-back NO-DOZ puzzles (53D: Cramming aid). Weird. T-NUTS is STUNT spelled backward. Less weird, but more interesting. I think I'm done here.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    jae 12:14 AM  

    My experience was much like Rex's. The  East side and SW were easy-medium, but I struggled with the NW.  It took several crosses to dredge ANTONIONI up from memory and DICOTS was a WOE.   Plus, no idea what ON SERVE means.  Golf is my game.  I tried tennis for about an hour in the 70's and couldn't get into it.  

    You know IM ON A DIET fits 1a and seems more apt than JUST A DROP (I assume it's booze we're talking about). 

    Me too for TORN before WORN.  I guess that's why 1945 was in the clue.

    Cute "theme" but I had DRIVERS long before I sounded it out.  So, not much help.

    So, a medium solid Fri.  Liked it!

    Anonymous 12:15 AM  

    Having NODOZ yesterday really helped me out today. Hasn't shown up in four years, then twice in two days.

    Lucky guess on DICOT / TSR. I'd expect a lot of guessing there.

    First pass yielded approximately nothing. Second pass didn't improve things much. Then it just of cracked open pretty well. SW, SE, Center, NW, NE. The time was about average for Friday, even though I had almost nothing to show for the first half of that time.

    Questinia 12:25 AM  

    Had ASTERS (the family in which one finds asters) instead of DICOTS for a while but knew ANTONIONI just had to be right.
    Paid no mind to the theme until I came here.

    Had trouble accepting GENTLE SEX as I know it as GENTLER SEX.

    Finished slower than usual but not because I found the puzzle anything more than medium. Oddly finished in the exact same place as yesterday's UNPEG with REGAL

    syndy 12:26 AM  

    I never saw DICOT so I had no problem with it! finished in wednesday time with no write overs. then went back to suss the theme and it's odd!Quite odd.Looking back I can see spots were I should have had trouble but I was going so fast I just ran them down.

    Questinia 12:26 AM  

    Make that in which one finds daisies...

    retired_chemist 12:35 AM  


    Solved it as a themeless, then went back to the starred answers. Should not have bothered. Pooh.

    Something good to hit in MY puzzle was "THE SPOT." Still like it even though it is wrong. BAMBOO @ 26A, ALMOST @ 27D, and a few others kept it interesting. But generally the fill was lively and the challenge fair.

    Good one, Mr. Ginsberg. Thanks.

    Antonioni Crankcase Modellers 12:39 AM  

    Yes, that bleedover of NODOZ seems like more than synchronicity...
    as well as SIC without the 'EM.

    Matt probably is expecting a hit or two upside the head for ESNES (Plural yet!!), So @Matt, one light swat from me.

    I knew LEU, AGOUTI from Scrabble, otherwise I would have been all ???!??!!!
    and DICO?/?SR was a toughie, tho I'm sure a gimme for all those in Austin running around at the NPL convention.

    Had to struggle to make ALmosT into ALLBUT... and sURE into PURE. But TEMsT wasn't gonna cut it!

    Cool to have a themed Friday, but I forgot to even go back and look at it/for it. So one swat on the side of the head for me too!

    (I would've liked an Ingmar Bergman clue for PERSONA, but that's just me).


    chefwen 12:43 AM  

    My neighbors answer to 1A would be just a skosh, my reply would be Ya Sure, fill 'er up.

    Hated changing WAR tORN to WAR WORN but as @jae stated, the date makes it right.

    Had trouble with 62A MODELLERS, got it only from crosses, will have to look into that one.

    There is a cartoon that I read called CRANKSHAFT so I thought 17A was fun.

    Good Friday, definitely not on the easy side for me, but it was doable and fun.

    Thanks Matt Ginsberg.

    chefwen 12:46 AM  

    @Antonioni Crankcase - There is another photog of you over at Crossword Corner today.

    Anoa Bob 12:47 AM  

    With 27 black squares, this looks like a typical Friday themeless. But Mr. Ginsberg slips in, so to speak, not one, but two themes.

    The first, the DRIVERS thing, was merely a RUSE, a misdirection. Rex fell for it.

    The second involves a far subtler, more nuanced theme where a TEMPT AROSE to have GENTLE SEX with a LAZY SUSAN. One STAYS IN IN ORDER TO SHOOT AT the JACKPOT. (Think of it as a VAT.) Should JUST A DROP issue forth, then a KLEENEX will do nicely for cleanup. GELS may be helpful. EATERY is optional.

    acme 1:15 AM  

    Yikes, @anoa bob!

    Thank you for the tip off! Didn't realize my pal Tom Pepper (of GO COMMANDO fame) had a fun puzzle Thurs in the LA Times, his debut there, no less!
    We had a fun Minnesota constructor gathering when I was there last month...that's what that pic is from.

    There are so many HIT THE...
    that I just made a list lest there be some sort of fun puzzle in there...
    you can also HIT THE...

    Anonymous 1:22 AM  

    @Anoa Bob: Yikes!
    I find it weird. I solve these puzzles in hours, not minutes like Rex, and yet stuff that he says stymies him (Kenneth Tynan, dicotyledons v. monocots, crank shaft) are way in my wheelhouse. The theme definitely helped my solve. I was half-way through when I realized what was going on, which allowed me to fill in "pure" "ice" "owed" (I also had "war torn", which slowed me) and "drivers". I like the odd Friday themed.
    Steve W.

    John Child 1:30 AM  

    I just couldn't see WAR(w)ORN, so DNF but otherwise enjoyed this puzzle a lot and thought it was relatively easy for Friday.

    Anonymous 2:23 AM  

    can someone explain srs for '14s in the '14, eg. ?



    Anonymous 2:29 AM  

    @Jae Players alternate serving each game. On serve means that no player has lost a game they've served, therefore making a set tied or one game difference.


    jae 2:42 AM  
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    jae 3:11 AM  

    @DODO -- Thanks. I actually tried Googling it, but got passed off to some tennis site that wanted to sign me up for something.  My first attempt was ONE LOVE off the VE.  Didn't work out of course.  I also tried TORI for 9d.  So, as previously stated, NW was a struggle.

    Acme 3:40 AM  

    I think seniors are so and so class of '14 in the year 2014. But when i was doing the puzzle i took it to be those born in 1914 would be old folks (seniors) in the year 2014... But now I just think it refers to school and they wrote '14s instead of 2014 to ndicate abbrev of SRS.
    Weird entry, clue and now maybe incorrect explanation.

    jae 4:26 AM  

    @Acme -- I think you've got it right. If you graduate in 2014 you're a member of the graduating class of 2014, i.e. one of the 2014s.

    Evan 5:41 AM  

    I bet that not only will the ANTONIONI/DICOTS/TSR nexus trip some people up, but so will the RATTAN/AGOUTIS crossing. The ANTONIONI/DICOTS cross was a PURE guess on my part.

    I generally liked this one -- some nice long answers in there and the mini-theme is cute. I don't think you're too off the mark with the easy-medium rating, Rex. I still have no idea how MODELLERS have anything to do with British mathematics (or "maths" as they call it). I know mathematicians build mathematical models, but why do they have to be British? Is that just the British way of spelling MODELER? Whatever the case may be, that answer combined with LEU made the southeast corner a little dicey.

    Now that I realize it, this is not the first time in recent memory that Matt Ginsberg has used IN ORDER TO -- it was in his April 7, 2013 Sunday puzzle which had "aptagrams" for a theme. It also had the exact same clue, though I have no idea if it was Matt's original clue or Will's. I complained back then that IN ORDER TO seems like a long partial -- still strikes me that way today.

    I found an Illinois license plate that said TSR a few days ago. No numbers, just the letters. I guess the DMV told the driver that D AND D was taken.

    Matty 5:47 AM  

    WARWORN is a bit of a frustration. Was able to see it but with the T seems so much more in the language (as previously stated by you geniuses). Also Kenneth TYNAN is a great entry. A great bit of trivia from a bygone era of British playmaking.

    Ellen S 5:56 AM  

    @Anoa Bob, that theme of yours would make Kenneth TYNAN blush!

    Thank you (I think) for that indelible KLEENEX image.

    Loren Muse Smith 6:04 AM  

    Rex – I saw Matt’s name and thought, “A themeless? Oh. OK.” Then I saw the asterisks. Really hard for me. Being UNUSED to a themed Friday, I was ALL BUT UNREADY for this one. I came pretty close, though. As to the theme, my fatal mistake was neglecting to thickly outline KEY, so the words made no sense. Cool idea, Matt! If someone asked, I missed it – how did Dr. Fill do on this one?

    So many false starts that made so much sense! Early faux-hold was “salt” for ENDS and all the other mistakes everyone made. Also “I mean” before IDEST.

    One big problem for me was not seeing the capital I for Iago and reading it L-A-G-O, thinking it was some not-watery something.

    Anyone notice DEBS under GENTLE SEX?

    My grandmother, “Bigmama,” had a LAZY SUSAN on her kitchen table, and I thought it was one of the most marvelous things I had ever seen. That thing captivated me. I would ask for someone to PASS something JUST IN ORDER TO see it turn.

    So of course, my mom is “Bigmama” to my kids. If one of them has a child, she’ll be “Great Bigmama.”

    Evan 6:19 AM  

    Just noticed a couple of missed opportunities for some nerdy pop culture.

    STARK -- [Family name in "Game of Thrones"]
    I SEE YOU -- [Message between kindred spirits in "Avatar"]

    Second one is probably a little too obscure. But the first? Gotta Throne it up, man.

    wa 6:35 AM  

    One day I am going to care about Harry Potter and Dungeons & Dragons, just so I can do better on these puzzles. But not today.

    Old enough to remember the popmpous Kenneth Tynan,

    Easy for a Friday.

    MetaRex 6:40 AM  

    Very much liked getting misdirected w/ the PURE, ICE, and UNDER and thought it all had something to do w/ water.

    The mind of MR was way too small to come up w/ the Anoa Bob metatheme...but is it all spoiled because GELS is a POC?!

    Charlene 6:41 AM  

    The northeast KILLED ME. Never heard of Regal cinemas. Never heard of the agouti. Still don't get "srs".

    baja 7:47 AM  

    Any time I finish a friday I know it will be ranked easy (well almost - no idea of the T in dicots and tsr). Always seems easier and happier (I am easily amused) when there are lots of scrabbly letters.

    jackj 7:53 AM  

    For someone who was an art house film fanatic back in the 60’s, there is another “Michelangelo”, the other one, the film genius ANTONIONI of “Blowup” fame and thus an easy first entry today.

    Not content with only ANTONIONI from the 60’s and 70’s, Matt Ginsberg couldn’t resist including Kenneth TYNAN, who, with wife Kathleen, was slobbered over and lionized by radical chic Hollywood wannabes when the couple moved from London to Santa Monica in the mid 1970’s.

    Matt could have kept his riffing on the entertainment industry going by cluing STARK as Ray, producer of “Funny Girl”, et al but instead he chose to elevate his answers with such as RATRACE, next door neighbor, second cousin AGOUTIS and that saving grace for Chinese restaurants, the LAZYSUSAN.

    But then, going fully highbrow brought out the genteel GENTLESEX, Bill Gates’ ENCARTA, the elegance of ETERNE, DESOTO as explorer not as Chrysler offshoot and, of course those merry mathematicians of Blighty, the MODELLERS.

    I don’t understand why Matt and Will used such an awkward clue for “Asleep, say” when they could have referenced that ancient, (1,000 AD), King of England, he of the wonderful epithet, Ethelred II, The UNREADY.

    Finally we can’t end without a nod to Matt’s phonetic theme that translates, more or less to “Keep your eyes on the road”; good advice to those who flirt with danger by texting while driving.

    A bit too easy for a Friday but, except for a questionable repeat of yesterday’s NODOZ, it certainly is a charming, intelligent construction.

    Thanks, Matt.

    Glimmerglass 8:04 AM  

    Not easy for me, but lots of fun. Solid medium Friday cluing. If Evan is right about MODELLERS, it's a real stretch. Didn't see KEY until very late (after I finally hit the JACKPOT), so the theme was not a big help. Didn't know TYNAN or ANTONIONI's first name, so the NW was just plain hard. Lucky guess with DICOTS bailed me out.

    mitchs 8:17 AM  

    I work for a tire company that has signs out in front of our stores where we like to put goofy sayings - we've used today's theme a couple of times, so, easy for me!

    joho 8:28 AM  

    I had many of the same first guesses as others have mentioned plus TEase before TEMPT.

    The theme really helped with OWED, changing the "T" to "W." Not to mention OtED isn't a word! But as already stated, WARWORN isn't a real phrase, either!)

    I like that Will changed it up with a Friday theme ... keeps us on our toes!

    Just like DRIVERS must remember to KEYPUREICEUNDEROWED! (The last part of the phrased seems really forced to me, but it works.)

    Thanks, Matt, for a unique and fun Friday!

    Anonymous 8:37 AM  

    I love the Doors!!

    Unknown 8:41 AM  

    I thought the starred phrase was really fun...would like to see more like this. But getting the phrase happened too quickly for me, and filling in the rest of the puzzle was kind of a chore. ASTERS for DICOTS for me, too.

    Yay! Shout out to me in 67A!

    jberg 8:51 AM  

    My experience was the mirror image of @Rex's -- stuck and saved by the theme, but it was the NE that almost did me in, mainly because I was trying to get into it from RAffia, rather than RATTAN. So I had everything else, sounded out the theme, and realized that 100% was PURE (even purer than Ivory).

    My two sons played D&D constantly, so that only took a few seconds of dredging. And when I read "Europe in 1945" I wanted WAR Weary, counted the letters, and figured it must be WORN.

    As for DICOTS, I had no idea, but monocots was too long, and what else is there? I still have no idea what a cotyledon is, though.

    Mixed emotions on this one - the theme seemed hardly worth it (maybe if the entries had been symmetrical), but then I'd have been DNF without it, so I can't really complain!

    Sir Hillary 8:52 AM  

    Not my favorite for a Friday -- would rather this be Thursday fare. Thank goodness for the punny theme phrase though, or OtED would have remained there. WARtORN was just too strong an answer. Lucky guess at DICOTS/TSR.

    Carola 9:29 AM  
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    Carola 9:34 AM  

    Medium for me. Abandoned the top half after "I'm on a DIET" (hi, @jae) wouldn't work with ANTONIONI and pickings were very slim in the NE with SMOTE. Dived to the bottom and did better there. Once I had DRIVERS, ICE, UNDER and OWED, like @Rex, I went looking for "keep your" and was able to finish. Fun!

    @acme - It would have been neat to have a Bergman clue for PERSONA, to go with the alienation theme of ANTONIONI.

    @Anoa Bob - And here I totally fell for the RUSE! I thought it was about DRIVERS, one in an OLDS and the other in a DESOTO with a bad CRANKCASE, one saying "JUST A DROP" and the other taking NO DOZ to avoid being UNREADY when trying to PASS each other on an ess (where are you when we need you?) curve in the SWISS ALPS.

    @loren - I, too, noticed DEBS under GENTLE SEX. And above is can either go behind that or ELSE come out at a party :)

    Cruxlogger 9:43 AM  

    Same for dicot/tsr - lucky intuition

    Liked under. The "the" -- as with worthy puns and shaggy dog stories -- helps with the groan factor.

    Anonymous 9:44 AM  

    I found this really interesting. I tore through the NW, which I found to be the easiest part of the puzzle. Everything just clicked. The rest went down far more slowly, but overall I would say it was relatively easy for a Friday. I found the starred phrase to cutesy by half, but mostly because of UNDER. Not at all like "on the" phonetically.

    On a quick note, what does "IDEST" mean? Am I even parsing that correctly?

    chefbea 10:09 AM  

    Easier forme than most Friday's but DNF and didn't get the theme tip I got here.

    Loved the kleenex clue and noted two days in a row for no-doz

    dk 10:17 AM  

    REGAL as a theatre?

    I like the fill but the clues for the above: Pffft as Bill the cat would say.

    SMOTE and CRANKCASE saved the day.

    🎂🎂 (2 birthday cakes)

    John Child 10:18 AM  

    Id est in Latin == that is, as in "that is to say..." == Words of explanation.

    lawprof 10:31 AM  

    I'm constantly amazed by how much my middle school (they called them "junior high" back then) science class remains relevant to my non-science life. DICOTS was a gimme after I had the DI???? part. As I recall, it has something to do with the seed of the plant -- two parts, as opposed to monocots, which have one part. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    Fun puzzle, but not particularly challenging for a Friday. Maybe Wednesday level?

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:39 AM  

    Enjoyed the puzzle.

    Got off to a major bad start with 1 D as PAYDIRT, took most crosses, and finally getting the theme which led me to 19 A, KEY, to correct to JACKPOT.

    Would have been fine except for the write-over at WAR TORN/WORN -- except that inexplicably finished with 25 A as YSR instead of TSR (possibly mis-led by our old friend YSL?)

    Still waiting for a good explanation of why those British mathematicians are MODELLERS. NDE? Anyone?

    Katzzz 10:57 AM  

    As a non-Latin speaker, id est is gibberish to me. But I did come up with a better answer for "words of explanation"; I jest. Combined with the (incorrect) "war torn," I was left with "otej" for "had charges." Obviously gibberish, but not much more so than "id est." But I still like "I jest."

    retired_chemist 11:17 AM  

    American mathematicians can be modelers, though it seems a bit of a stretch. British mathematicians then would be MODELLERS.

    @lms - hand up for also seeing Lago (Spanish or Italian for lake) and thus also being in deep water for some time trying to fine an antonym for it in either language.

    Delaware 11:40 AM  

    This was right in my wheelhouse and I finished in record time for a Friday. There is a Regal Theater (Theaters I guess as the stand alone theater probably doesn't exist anymore - and the food! - hamburgers, fries, egg rolls) But I digress. I dredged TSR out of my brain from when my son was obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons. I've played a lot of tennis and just finished watching Wimbledon so that was easy. As some of you mentioned, wanted gentler sex. Also had Salt of the earth at first. Still don't get modellers. And had leans on for 46 down for a short while. Kind of happy I did well on this but sad that it was over so fast.

    Mohair Sam 11:57 AM  

    Challenging puzzle for me. I got MODELLING but hated the clue. No Latin in school, I'd always thought IDEST was one word - but it filled easily here. Loved the CRANKCASE clue.

    @wa - I read Potter recently solely to be able to finish the puzzles created by younger constructors - got me through yesterday's puzzle. First book kinda fun, second kinda boring, won't read the rest.

    I agree on D&D, not knowing TRS cost me a DNF today - but I ain't gonna play the game.

    wordie 11:59 AM  

    I had salt instead of ends and weaker sex instead of gentle sex. The latter kind of shocked me, and it turned out to be, thankfully, wrong. Although gentle isn't much better. I think "old-fashionedly" is a bit too kind. I'd have clued it, per sexist folk. Had trouble in the NW, until I got ROANS, which helped me figure out what it was JUST A of, if not bite. Knew OtED was wrong, just couldn't give up war torn. Going to go look up flimflam, it shows up a lot in clues and I always have trouble with it. Going to try to remember AGOUTI, but kind of doubt I will. Or what they're relatives of. DNF. Sigh.

    Anonymous 12:05 PM  

    Had many of the same first answers as others... salt, weaker sex, etc. Took me forever to change WARtORN to WARWORN. Found the puzzle to be a good workout, with answers coming in clumps, but was finally stuck by the DICO?S/?SR cross (a Natick to me). Guessed R... was wrong. TYNAN was a gimme. Some very nice stuff, some less than very nice. Cutesy theme. (Agree with ACME on Bergman clue!)

    Anonymous 12:08 PM  

    Got KEY from crosses but don't understand what it has to do with basketball. (Then again I don't understand what pretty much anything has to do with basketball.)

    retired_chemist 12:32 PM  

    @ Anon 12:08 - "Key" explained.

    retired_chemist 12:36 PM  

    Should have mentioned that the "Key" was so named in an era when the free throw lane was narrower than the circle, so from the top it looked like a keyhole. Players grew and the widening provided something of an equalizer for FT rebounding.

    Masked and Antonionionmous 12:41 PM  

    A puzzle bound for glory. Exhibits:
    A. Seven U's. Let's get the important stuff on the table, right away.
    B. FriPuz with themers. Really like that.
    C. Keep Pure Ice On Dirt Road. Primo advice. Avoid drivin on anything less. No nuts. No pulp. etc.
    D. Bigass stacks, to keep the regular FriPuz fanatics (hi, @4-Oh) happy.
    E. Includes some GENTLESEX. Known crowd pleaser.
    F. Flower-lovin, PuzEatinSpouse happened to do the NW corner. So rolled over DICOTS like a flatten-out gimme. I was munchin cinnamon rolls at the time. Perfectomundo.
    G. I did the SE corner, with the two-L Brit math whizzes in it. Grinded it out, but had a couple of shvetty balls (see ThursPuz) along the way. Almost as tasty as cinnamon rolls. LEU and ENCARTA were the Entries of Mystery, for M&A.
    H. Great clue for SRS. Get it? Seniors are the class of '14 (the '14s) in the year '14. Simple. Elegant. Batfug sneaky. har.

    GILL I. 1:06 PM  

    I wrote out KEY PURE ICE UNDER OWED and I *Still* didn't get it. Talk about wearing the dunce hat... When I came here for clarification I felt immensely OLDS.
    Me three for seeing LAGO. I felt so smug by writing in CHARCA which is a pond in Spanish. Then I though oh man, everyone is going to SHOOT AT the DRIVER for this clue.. HONEST finally appeared because of ANKH and PIES.
    Was I the only one who wanted fairer SEX?
    DICOnS/nSR did me in, though I was proud of plunking in JUST A DROP and JACK POT. KLEENEX and LAZY SUSAN came next then I just couldn't see any more answers. After sleeping on it I got about 98% done and slapped my back several times.
    Except for MODELLERS I thought this was one fine puzzle. Once I got the theme, I did a little laugh and thought how clever !!

    John V 1:11 PM  

    Challenging and absolutely loved it! Guessed right on the daisies stuff as TSR meant nothing. Thanks, Matt for a great Friday.

    LaneB 1:18 PM  

    Too obscure for me and failed somewhat in the SE and Sw and totally in the NE. WARWORN got me with my own wartorn SOCS as the answer for sets0on0 I'm still thinking about and made ENCARTA impossible [couldn't even find it on Google], and AGOUTIS I'd never heard of. Sometimes I get through the Fridays; sometimes not. This was definitely the latter once I got to the NE corner. Why do I care? But I do--which is why I waste so much time on this stuff.

    LaneB 1:26 PM  

    @lms The KEY, the PIES, ergo your picture today :Key lime pies.. I'm starting to get it and enjoy your puzzle-within-puzzle posts. Hope all is well.

    Matt Ginsberg 1:31 PM  

    For those who asked, Dr.Fill solves this puzzle correctly in a bit under a minute, then spends another minute "checking its work." My original clue for SRS was [Grandfathers of III's] or something along those lines. Not sure which I like better.

    Anyway, the puzzle seems to have been pretty well received, which is always nice for a constructor to see. Thanks!

    retired_chemist 2:11 PM  

    @ Matt: Thanks for stopping by.

    Another SRS clue is "Airbag, briefly."

    Check your steering wheel or passenger side dashboard....

    Notsofast 2:41 PM  

    Loved KEYPUREICEUNDEROWED, calling bullshit on WARWORN. And look at all the product names! Non-compensated, of course.

    M and A and just a sprinklin of nuts 2:50 PM  

    p.s. I am now bein notified by Ben & Jerry's (yo, @Jerry) Ice Cream, that the official spelling is:
    Schweddy Balls.
    Sooooo... wrong again, M&A breath.

    In any case, tasty ice cream flavor, dudes. Bummer, that I found a hair in mine. Refunds?!!?

    @Matt: See yer point, on the SRS clues. Better luck next time. Please try it again -- and keep yer III's on the road.

    Lewis 3:19 PM  

    My hard corner was the NE, and I'm with Rex on WARWORN. But the heck with any of that -- this is the first Friday I've ever completely solved without checking an answer or Googling. Matt, I'll always say that regarding Fridays, you were my first!

    Anonymous 3:43 PM  

    ugh - did not like it - from Tynan to modellers to warworn to Debs to tsr to leu to esnes - just not fun

    okanaganer 4:47 PM  

    Rex, nice song choice with good ol' Driver's Seat..such a head-nodding catchy rhythm. Sniff n' the Tears are my favorite one-hit wonders ever. When I bought my very first car, as I drove away from the dealership, it was the first song I heard on the radio.

    sanfranman59 4:52 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 19:46, 21:03, 0.94, 40%, Easy-Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Fri 12:30, 12:28, 1.00, 53%, Medium

    jackj 5:04 PM  

    For those who pointed out the OS X/iOS error in Ed Sessa's Wednesday puzzle, the NY Times had this correction prominently placed in today's paper:


    The crossword puzzle on Wednesday provided an erroneous clue for 25-Across, seeking the answer “iOS.” The clue should have read “iPhones and iPads run it,” not “Macs run it.” (Macs run OS X, a different operating system.)

    OISK 6:24 PM  

    No pop culture, no product names, (well, OK, OREIDA was one...) no "modern slang." I loved this puzzle! Thought the theme was really cute. Like many others, I had war torn at first, but "oted" is not a word. Unlike several others, apparently, I saw how the theme worked very quickly, which helped with some of the later clues. Very nice puzzle, solved it on the subway on my way the baseball fan-fest at the Javits center. I purchased I signed photo of OISK himself.

    michael 9:34 PM  

    Well, I was wondering what "oted" meant...

    krepitch 10:15 PM  

    I really wanted MODELERS to fit, so I was pleased to realize that the British part of the clue referred to the second L. I thought that was quite clever.

    August West 10:51 PM  

    I'm 51 years old, like to think of myself as fairly well versed in questioni culturali, and had never *heard* of this [i]other[/i] Michaelangelo feller. Looked him up and, what's worse, I had never heard of one of his films. He and dico?s held me up a tad. One of these days, I'll remember to remember TSR's claim to fame, for just such crosswordese emergencies. Thankfully, ankh, roans and trite allowed me to see Iago easily, and then it was off to the races.

    WarWorn = worst reach ever?

    Had LEANSon running parallel to ALMOST, but S___L wasn't cutting it in answer to "submerged," so I switched in the too-obvious UNDER, scored ALLBUT from that and finished up by correcting 46D in great time for a Friday.

    Didn't care about the theme. Didn't get it even after I'd finished the puzzle. No "Aha" moment on coming here to be enlightened. More of a "[groan] That's dumb" reaction. Still, fun and educational, if way too easy for a Friday.

    sanfranman59 2:16 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 5:34, 6:09, 0.90, 10%, Easy
    Tue 7:21, 8:16, 0.89, 17%, Easy
    Wed 7:56, 9:44, 0.82, 9%, Easy
    Thu 16:06, 16:12, 0.99, 49%, Medium
    Fri 19:53, 21:03, 0.94, 41%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:17, 3:46, 0.87, 2%, Easy (4th lowest ratio of 186 Mondays)
    Tue 4:22, 4:57, 0.88, 12%, Easy
    Wed 5:00, 5:38, 0.89, 20%, Easy
    Thu 9:04, 9:27, 0.96, 39%, Easy-Medium
    Fri 12:07, 12:19, 0.98, 46%, Medium

    spacecraft 11:43 AM  

    Okay, I'm still confused about MODELLERS. I get that the "L" is doubled across the pond (only thing mentioned in the only explanation I see), but what on the planet do mathematicians have to do with model(l)ing?? Unless you're talking about Good Will Hunting; I'm sure Mr. Damon would uber-qualify as a model.

    I sat and stared at this one for quite a while before even finding a shoehorn. ALLBUT gave up on it. Finally found EMIL and OLDS, which led to the car crash with DESOTO. I oozed my way around from there--hand up for tORN--before working into the NW. Even though I remembered ANTIONIONI, it was hard. Harder that it should have been for this sports fan: I was scratching my head for the longest time for a 3-letter basketball "area." Finally JUSTADROP and JACKPOT came to me, and there it was: KEY. DUUUH!!! Felt so stupid...

    I'm not an expert on tennis terms, so I'll have to defer to those who are...but I still don't agree with ONSERVE as meaning an even match. ONSERVE means, hello, I've got the balls. Comin' atcha!

    Unusual bleedover #3: NODOZ. Oh yeah, BTW, I did actually finish IN good ORDER, but it was challenging.

    Ginger 1:47 PM  

    @Carola (or Car ola) your riff on Cars and car parts remind me of a ditty we sang as kids.
    Let me call you Sweetheart
    I'm in love with your automobile
    Let me hear you whisper
    That you'll pay the gasoline bill
    Keep the headlights burning
    And Both hands upon the wheel
    Let me call you Sweetheart
    I'm in love with your automobile.

    Another 'almost finished' for me, but I loved the journey. Pretty much slow driving, as I worked my way south leaving a lot of blank squares. When I read the reveal clue, I went back and checked the starred clues I already had and wrote 'Keep your eyes on the ode' in the margin. oops. I had the same mistakes as many have mentioned, most corrected, but needed Google to geterdone.

    The puz felt fresh, fun and Challenging. Enjoyed it.

    DMGrandma 1:51 PM  

    Got Naticked(?) at the DICO?/?SR crossing. Still don't know what TSR stands for, but gather its well known among the younger set. Made a correct guess at the L in LEU, but puzzled at the resulting MODELLERS. Guess it sounds British.

    About the tennis thing. I don't know how you could represent "close to even" except by stating the score, but an even game would be called along the lines of "one all". Loved @Spacecraft's definition of ONSERVE. I'm sure that's how the players facing the likes of Nadal feel about it!

    Ginger 2:19 PM  

    Tennis junkie here, in fact watching a tournament from Cincinnati as I type. The server is perceived to have the advantage on any given game, so if a player is behind on the score, say 4-5, but is expected to even it up when he serves the next game, it is said they are 'on serve'. This is opposed to the server being 'up a break' ie: (id-est) say 4-2, or 'down a break' at say 2-5. BTW, the server's score is given first. Hope that helps.

    rain forest 3:33 PM  

    Thanks, @Ginger, for the ONSERVE esplanation, saving me the trouble of trying to describe it, which you did precisely.

    I liked this puzzle, and since I got KEY, PURE, ICE early, I figured out what was going on, although UNDER threw me for a bit.

    I think WARWORN was perfect. A country is wartorn while the war is raging, but after 30 years of devastating battles, Europe in 1945was definitely warworn (syn: war-weary).

    Thinking that 1A began with JUST, I initially thought that 1D would be JACKace, a la blackjack, and that took a little time to unclog.

    Perhaps MODELLERS refers to mathematicians' penchant to develop mathematical models to explain various phenomena. Reaching, maybe.

    Capcha: therreni. The question is: is there any?

    DMGrandma 4:01 PM  

    @Ginger: thanks for the heads up. I watch a lot of tennis, but never picked up on that part of the terminology. Probably don't listen carefully enough. At any rate, how about Isner's game today! Always associate him with "the longest match", but can't recall who he played, even though I seem to recall his opponent won! Guess I really am having senior moments! Looking forward to Nadal/Federer later today.

    Dirigonzo 4:11 PM  

    Another day, another blank square; DICOTS/TSR did me in, although I learned upon coming here that I had another error with WARtORN. The correct term never occurred to me (obviously) but @rain forest is correct, it fits the clue perfectly (and I also think you nailed the MODELLER explanation). I'm ashamed to admit that I left wEakerSEX in for far too long.

    Solving in Seattle 4:25 PM  

    @spacecraft, I think MODELLERS are mathematicians who create computer models to see the outcome of a set of circumstances. Like in elections, for example.

    @DGM, TSR is short for Tactical Studies Rules.

    UNREADY. Really? not READY, yes. I had a problem with this one. Also, WARtORN before WORN.

    blAnK before STARK. ALmosT before ALLBUT. nEt before KEY (doh).

    @Anoa Bob, good theme sleuthing.

    Cool puz, Matt.

    Capcha: aregymen. Clergy in Jamaica?

    ahimsa 7:21 PM  

    This is probably too late for even most folks in syndi-land but I had to post a comment saying that I loved this puzzle! I'm a sucker for this kind of corny theme.

    And the theme definitely helped me (a very non-speed solver) to get several entries. I would never have gotten KEY without PURE and ICE. UNDER, OWED and DRIVERS came pretty quickly after that.

    My biggest write over was "fairer SEX" before GENTLE SEX.

    Kudos to Matt Ginsburg!

    Ginger 7:24 PM  

    @DMG I'm watching the Isner match right now, in the 3rd set, and ON SERVE (!). Love my DVR as I had some errands this afternoon. The longest match was Isner and Mahut at Wimbledon 2010. It lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes over 3 days! Isner won, but understandingly, was unable to really compete and lost his next match. In fact, in reality it took him several months to regain his form. He's a nice young American, with a gigantic serve. Really looking forward to Nadal/Fed, this evening. Dilemma, who to root for, I like them both!

    ahimsa 7:24 PM  

    Oops, I misspelled Matt's last name in my last post. To repeat:

    Kudos to Matt Ginsberg!

    sdcheezhd 9:49 PM  

    SILKS for ROANS which caused problems up there for a long time. ANTONIONI didn't give it away since I wasn't sure where all the vowels went. Agree with the comments on GENTLESEX/weaker sex

    Anonymous 4:30 PM  

    Wow, I got KEY PURE ICE very early on and instantly nailed the rest of the phrase, plus, of course, DRIVERS. That left me with about 80 percent of the grid to fill, and no remaining theme. Had the most trouble with the GENTLE SEX area, because I had WEAKER SEX and SALT of the earth. Plus, I prefer my sex rough.

    Cary in Boulder 4:16 PM  

    Just back in town, so days late on this one. I figured DMGrandma would like it for its lack of pop cultureness. I know I needed a break. But the NE PUREly SMOTE me. Had NAKED for STARK, so was thinking maybe DESENEX for the product name, although why you'd want to bless your athlete's foot I do not know.

    Thought the theme would be something like KEEP ??? -- ICE UNDER OWED. Except, of course, that I had OTED and finally had to peek at the answer for that one.

    DNF, but I mostly like it. Except for SRS, which I really hate.

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