Kyrgyzstan's second largest city / FRI 7-26-13 / 1955 Pulitzer-winning poet / Annual with deep-pink flowers / Literally cottonwoods / Diplomat who wrote Tide of Nationalism / Construction project that began in Rome / Guys and Dolls composer/lyricist

Friday, July 26, 2013

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: BANKSY (58A: Noted graffiti artist) —
Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter. // His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti done in a distinctive stencillingtechnique. Such artistic works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world. (wikipedia)
• • •

I'm spoiled by Brendan's great twice-weekly crossword at his own website. This is a very nice 68-worded, with big open spaces in the NE and SW, and some very fresh entries, like BANKSY and "... SO THAT HAPPENED." But it's middle-of-the-roadish and kind of tame compared to the stuff you can get from him directly twice a week. Some of the fill seems a little flat—TESTATORS and ESS and IDEATE and ERODENT and RENAIL and ALO and OSH. I did like this puzzle quite a bit—solving in under 6 minutes helped with the good feelings—but by BEQ standards (which are High), it's just OK. Better than most puzzles, just OK for BEQ. Clear? Clear.

POGS. Ha ha. The very word makes me laugh (49A: Game discs).

I have a hard time believing 44A: Abba's genre was BEQ's clue for EUROPOP. I mean, ABBA is in the grid (ABBA EBAN) (9D: Diplomat who wrote "The Tide of Nationalism"). He's usually pretty careful about such things. He probably had someone like Blur or Lily Allen in there instead. But Abba's an easy default—which would be fine if ABBA weren't Already In The Grid.

I have no idea what COWHERB is (25A: Annual with deep-pink flowers), so that took every cross. Nice to see "Guys and Dolls" back for a curtain call after yesterday's fine performance (35A: Guys and Dolls composer/lyricist => LOESSER). WALLACE STEVENS looks great in the grid (4D: 1955 Pulitzer-winning poet)—never mind that I (ridiculously) wrote in WALLACE STEGNER at first. Love the fake-out clue on ERIE CANAL (12D: Construction project that began in Rome) (there's a Rome, NY). Never saw the clue on LOS ALAMOS (31D: Literally, "the cottonwoods"). Weird how sometimes even very long answers just seems to fill themselves in without my really noticing.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Anonymous 12:07 AM  

    ". . .but by BEQ standards (which are High), it's just OK. Better than most puzzles, just OK for BEQ. Clear? Clear. . . ."

    No - just okay, and not better than most. Full stop. It went quickly; would have been a slog otherwise.

    Less junk entries than I thought while solving. Must have been partially influenced by all the names: THE WHO, SELA, TINO, LOESSER, LAVIN, BANKSY, HENIE, ENGEL, PEROT, OSKAR

    jae 12:10 AM  

    The problem with this one is that I just did BEQ's "A Hard Puzzle".  Both seemed about medium, but one was NYT material and the other was hilarious. The phrase "pales by comparison" comes to mind.    But hey, this one was fine.  Reasonably crunchy...COW HERB (a WOE), WALLACE STEVENS, ABBA EBAN, LOESSER...with some zip...POGS, BANKSY, EURO POP, THE WHO, JUSTIFIED (excellent FX series)...

    Erasure: EROsive for ERODENT

    Cringes: TESTATOR, ALO

    Liked it, but liked ..... better.

    Questinia 12:15 AM  

    I'm just becoming familiar with constructors. I like this one. Elegant and with range.
    Agree with easy...

    August West 12:21 AM  

    Knew THEWHO right off the bat and then put Teeth at 1D. D'oh! Georgia ENGEL and HENIE made clear that 17A was ANGLED, so I pulled teeth for TRAYS. Not up on my 1955 poets (Really? I thought he look old and musty and trite in the grid), but got him via crosses. Had PopRock for EUROPOP, for a second. Loved ERIECANAL and PHOBIC/CADRES.

    Pretty meh. Came in at a skosh under 10, blaming LOESSER and STEVENS all the while.

    Questinia 12:23 AM  

    I'm just becoming familiar with constructors and I like this one. Elegant and with range.
    Agree with easy.

    Anonymous 12:25 AM  

    Wanted VSIX for 40 across (VTEN). Clued as "The muscle of a muscle car, maybe." Well, maybe, except that it's never happened all V-10s in production have been in trucks and race cars. Engines too long for a muscle car, which is built on a stock frame.

    Evan 1:15 AM  

    I must be really behind on my graffiti artists, because the BANKSY/OSKAR/GESTE nexus was a total shot in the dark for me. I got it right -- same with the LAVIN/TESTATORS cross -- but that was scary. That's where my handy little rule helped me out. I've seen GESTE as in "Beau geste," so I figured that had to be right. K looked more reasonable than a C in 50-Down.

    Brendan's Monday themeless puzzles are among my favorite to solve. Lots of modern music answers/clues that he likes to toss in. I would not at all be surprised if his clue for JUSTIFIED was something like [2002 Timberlake album]. This one was neat but I wasn't crazy about all of the crosswordese mentioned above. In fact, just yesterday I went back into the way-back machine and found Rex's post from June 2011 where he ripped the word ERODENT a new one. Total random search on Cruciverb-L that turned up when I was looking to see how the word DISC had been used in prior puzzles -- lo and behold, that was a theme entry in that puzzle.

    Anyway.....I thought the clue for TINO was a little odd. Yes, he was an all-star, but he's long since retired from playing baseball, so shouldn't it say [Former All-Star Martinez]?

    I first threw in ASH where JET was supposed to go, then found ASH later on at 22-Across. That's been happening a lot to me lately. Malapop central.

    Angled Cadres Mbrosia 1:25 AM  

    Joint solved this with my pal Gregory over pizza...

    He handled all the boy clues (STASHED porn mags, TINO, POGS, VTEN)
    (I too put in WALLACESTEgner...and kept saying I didn't know he was a poet...and explained about Grass Valley and "The Angle of Repose" all for naught!)

    Come to think of it, lots of TV actresses:
    SELA, ENGEL, LAVIN crossed with lots of music:
    feels like BEQ and I like that he stretches the boundaries for the rest of us!

    Loren Muse Smith 6:38 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Loren Muse Smith 6:39 AM  

    I’m a BEQ fan TO BE SURE. Most of the time I’m very much in the same mindset with his clues – got SO THAT HAPPENED off very few crosses and was just so pleased with him and with myself.

    STASHES crossing HERB –Hah! @jae – I erased “erosive,” too. I also put in “ira” before ERA, ridiculously thinking, “Wait, Roth wasn’t a president. . .” I also forgot my Spanish and wrote “ola” before I had to reverse it to ALO. A "popalam" maybe?

    Of course I loved the clues for ESS and SHORT U.

    PHOBIas phascinate me. If someone made me stay next to one of those helium machines as he filled balloons, I would be IN A HEAP on the floor in the fetal position with my ears plugged and eyes squeezed shut. No GESTE. As far as I can tell, completey unJUSTIFIED. And don’t get me started on dentists and their TRAYS. Shudder.

    Since POGS was a woe, I didn’t finish. The POGS/OSKAR/BANSKY area got me since, unlike @Evan, I could not INFER that K.

    Thanks, Brendan. Your puzzle prowess is pheNOMEnal!

    jberg 7:46 AM  

    Am I the only one who had x-RAYS before TRAYS? It seemed obvious, and I thought there might as well be a band starting with xh...

    @Loren, but OLA is Spanish, right? I whould have thought ALO was French. But I'm a little shaky in both of those languages.

    PEROT didn't really 'found' the Reform Party, he was sort of pushed into it by a group of activists, but it's fair enough for a crossword puzzle.

    But I still don't understand EVEN TIME. Is that some special thing about track events? Or does it just mean 10 seconds as opposed to, say, 10.1?

    Despite a few strained or obscure ERODENTs, how can I not love a puzzle with OSH?

    dk 7:48 AM  

    Sorta Od'ed on BEQ puzzles as when my neighbor played Stairway to Heaven leventy-billion times at volume whatever. Except I never liked Led Z after album 2 and I always like BEQ: The hardest working...

    This is a potpourri of pop puzzledom. Ya got yur sports, music from all eras, intellectual property, statesmen, poets, artists….

    My only quibble is in the era of Muscle Cars a VTEN was not an option. And, for that I am just saddened. Story ahead.

    Pater Noster took a Chevelle SS 396 in trade for some accounting work as a replacement for mother's beloved Jeepster. Stoner children were agog as clearly my dad had no idea what Tri-power with progressive linkage and 396 meant. Still remember when my brother was behind the wheel (circa 1967) and some guy in a Dodge Charger pulls up, leans over and asks: "wanna have a go." Brother nods as smoke of a certain type and odor emanates from the vehicle. When the light turns green brother slams it into reverse, the tires scream as the the charger-guy goes racing forward. We thought it was funny. The Charger guy not so much. In seems in motor head land we had orchestrated a dis. But we had guns so it all worked out. Fast forward about 20 years and yours truly is lecturing at LOSALAMOS on Intellectual Property Protection -- Life is good.

    🌟🌟🌟 (3 stars) COWHERB… riiiiight.

    Sean Dobbin 7:55 AM  

    Hilarious writeup. I hate to be a troll, but...come on, seriously? If the name at the top of the puzzle was Joe Shlabotnik, he would have a new orifice right now. Instead, because we have a rock star for a constructor today, we're treated to "middle-of-the-roadish...," "kind of tame compared to...", "some of the fill seems a little flat...," etc. Sheesh, @Rex, you've already got a seat a the cool kids table - you can relax!

    Let me be clear: I *love* BEQ. Next to Berry, he is the best themeless puzzle constructor I can think of. He's awesome, innovative, and has revolutionized puzzling in the last 15 years or so. He's the man. He's a monster. He deserves credit for that.

    Having said that, this puzzle sucks. Just say it. Just freakin say it.

    And, since I've already got the vents fully open, I'll say this, too: Shortz would *never* have put this out there from a lesser-known constructor.


    Jeremy Mercer 8:06 AM  

    I'm another huge BEQ fan who is disappointed by today's puzzle, though my sore spot is the three contiguous proper name downs in the northwest corner ... still, it was great to see BANKSY in the grid ...

    joho 8:19 AM  

    Only write overs were asAP before SNAP and oLa before ALO (when I remembered it's spelled hola). I liked that ALO is over NADA. @jberg, ALO does sound French!

    @M&A, take away your beloved U from SHORTU, insert Z and voila!

    @loren muse smith, I thought having two clues for the beginning letter of the answer was overkill but the clues were great.

    ERODENT: animated internet rat.

    JUSTIFIED is JUST beautiful in the grid.

    I learned BANKSY and I love it.

    Hardest spot was the "O" at the COWHERB/ ORS cross.

    I had never heard the term EVENTIME but it makes sense.

    It's Friday, I finished, I'm happy.

    Glimmerglass 8:20 AM  

    Decent Friday puzzle. Not great, but okay. I had a lot of trouble with many proper nouns, but it turned out to be doable. Not easy (for me). SO THAT HAPPENED (WTF?) took almost every cross. But, as you know, I prefer harder to easier.

    evil doug 8:27 AM  

    A shame for a Friday. And weak for BEQ. You're trying to find something positive to say, Michael, but you don't sound like even *you* believe it.

    "Short u" and "ess"? Kind of fun when they first appeared, but c'mon; they're becoming tiresome through overdependence. There's no surprise there anymore. And we've had plenty of talk lately about words like 'renail'; embarrassing for a star like Brendan.

    You don't say "10 even"; you say, "10 flat".

    Dentist offices have so much fun stuff, but we're subjected to 'trays'?

    I suppose Wallace Stevens is an important character in the wonderful world of poetry; but looking at it, doesn't it just make you roll your eyes in who-cares-i-ness? In thinking how much more fun could be constructed in a 14-letter hole?

    The best show on TV is 'Justified'; why would you clue it with 'legitimate'. How about 'hit series based on Elmore Leonard characters'?

    Not all bad: Nice twist on 'Rome' for the canal, unusual to see all of 'Abba Eban' instead of half his name, 'ambrosia' is a cool word, and 'cadres' stands tall.

    Following yesterday's gem probably makes it seem worse than it is. 'Alas', even the pros strike out once in a while....


    Anonymous 8:29 AM  

    Not a big Bruce fan so I had Rosalita which pretty much messed things up in the SW. Luckily I have a 23 yr old son, so POGS was easy-we probably still have them in our attic. Had to google a few so this was not easy for me, I do enjoy BEQ puzzles!

    Ω 8:39 AM  

    Who the hell is ABBA EBAN? Is he related to LOESSER? And WOE is SO THAT HAPPENED? Maybe I'm just grouchy because my paper didn't come for the second time in two weeks and I had to solve on an iPad, but this is firmly in the meh- category. Lots of trivial trivia like POGS, OSH, and LAVIN. Then there's the Wikipedian cluing for THE WHO, IM ON FIRE, and NOME as well as crap like IDEATE and ERODENT. ESS and SHORT U have stopped being cute misdirections and getting two is overkill.

    In short, yeah, SO THAT HAPPENED.

    astroman 8:50 AM  

    Not a great BEQ effort, but then I wanted APPIANWAY for ERIECANAL.

    John V 8:54 AM  

    Save for SE, which I found to be Natick City, easy, too. I was apprehensive, as my success rate with Brendan's puzzles is pretty mixed -- no luck whatsoever with this week's Themeless Monday, for example. So, got it done but, whatever.

    retired_chemist 9:02 AM  

    Like most, didn't like it as much as I expected to. But still pretty good. Medium here.

    Liked @joho's take on E-RODENT.

    Middle was my problem. COWHERB -WTF. aNIONS instead of RHINOS. SHORT U threw me for a while.

    pOGS and BANKSY - thank goodness for crosses.

    mac 9:05 AM  

    Eady Friday, but the NE was slow for me because I wrote in Wheaties instead of Ambrosia. Was I really the only one to do that??

    Love Banksy and his clever little stencils in unexpected places.

    GILL I. 9:19 AM  

    @evil doug said it all for me.
    ALO is French. Hola is Spanish.
    ASH ORS OSH by gosh..ugh.
    I wish there was a law against proper names in themeless puzzles.

    chefbea 9:21 AM  

    Easier than most Fridays but still DNF Did not know Banksy and Cow herb...really!!! I'm going to go to our plant place and see what it looks like.

    chefbea 9:23 AM  

    Just googled Cow herb...the first thing up is Laughing cow garlic and herb cheese!!!! love it

    Carola 9:25 AM  

    Interesting to me to read @Rex and comments about disappointment with this BEQ puzzle, as my reaction was just pleasure at being able to finish, and without much of a struggle. Liked the arts representatives WALLACE STEVENS, BANKSY, THE WHO, SELA, OSKAR, LAVIN....

    New to me: POGS and SO THAT HAPPENED.

    Spending the weekend at a lake house rental with kids and grandkids, celebrating post-Prop 8-decision marriage of daughter and now wife. 8:30 and only this mom/grandma is up, with puzzle and tea on the deck, looking out thru oaks at the lake. @dk, join you - life is good.

    dk 9:29 AM  

    Bansky may be seen (sorta) in Exit Through the Gift Shop. Available on Netflix I think.

    Ray J 9:54 AM  

    Thought the 100-yard dash clue was going to be a math test. MDCCCFPM works.

    Ray J

    Anonymous 10:06 AM  

    Thursday and Friday seem reversed for this week's puzzles.

    Milford 10:11 AM  

    I remember some time ago there being a discussion about BEQ not giving his best puzzles to the NYTimes, which makes sense. Still, I braced myself for a twisted kind of puzzle, and this one just felt rather ordinary.

    Liked the two long downs, but TESTATORS, IDEATE, ONE SET, EVEN TIME - they didn't feel very zippy to me. SE was the toughest corner, but I appreciate leaning about BANSKY.

    Loved the misdirect on the ERIE CANAL clue.

    I only remember saying "Hola" in Spain, not ALO. We were also told to say "Dígame" when answering the teléfono.

    Unknown 10:25 AM  

    @Mitzie channelled my thoughts exactly.

    It's as if BEQ knew this wasn't fun/clever/quirky enough for his own website, and figured rather than waste it, let's throw it Will's way and see what happens.

    GLR 10:25 AM  

    @Anon 12:25, I think the Dodge Viper was sold with a V-10 engine.

    Mike Rees 10:55 AM  

    COWHERB and TESTATOR got me today. I had "executor" in and it took forever to change it because the SW corner worked with the TOR at the end. Tough for me, but not insane. Finished under 20 minutes which rates a medium at my solving level.

    Carola 10:57 AM  

    @jae - Thanks for the reference to BEQ's "A Hard Puzzle"! Agree with you entirely.

    Bob Kerfuffle 11:03 AM  

    Fine puzzle (i.e., I could do it), but shouldn't the clue for 53 A, PATENTED, be more like "Not to be copied" rather than "Uncopiable, say"?

    (Of course, "uncopiable" has the virtue of spell checkers saying it is not a word.)

    Two Ponies 11:04 AM  

    Yeah, if anyone else besides BEQ had published this sub-par puzzle they would have gotten torn to shreds.

    Anonymous 11:21 AM  

    I *still* am unable to play this puzzle because no matter what I do, the Magmic app will only show me Thursday's. is this not happening to anyone else?

    Thoracic 11:24 AM  

    I had same problem at first. Deleted and reloaded app and later got a message advising me there was a "new puzzle" which I downloaded and it was indeed the Friday puzz

    Carola 11:30 AM  

    @Bob Kerfuffle - When I saw "Uncopiable, say," I wrote in "misspe..." and then saw I was running out of room.

    Anonymous 11:37 AM  

    In case this hasn't been said before - y'all need to check BEQ's own puzzle from yesterday - it's a hoot!

    Sandy K 11:51 AM  

    PHOBIC about BEQ puzzles. Not usually on same wavelength, but fear was not JUSTIFIED.

    Since it was of LOESSER difficulty, I was able to NAIL it.

    TO BE SURE, did not care for OSH, OSHA, ABBA, Abba, ALO, ALAS...but I did like the musical answers eg THE WHO, I'M ON FIRE, Frank LOESSER and EUROPOP.

    @Carola- Best wishes to you and yours! Sounds lovely...

    Anonymous 11:57 AM  

    I'm pretty sure the Springsteen song is "Fire," not "I'm on Fire."

    Anonymous 12:00 PM  

    Meh. It was okay; on the low side of okay for me. There are only seven days in a week. 'Okay' should never be good enough.

    (Cluing is the weak area for the NYT, IMO. They have NO BALLS and are way behind the indies for cool clues.)

    Evan 12:07 PM  

    @Anonymous 11:57:

    Springsteen wrote a 1977 song called "Fire." "I'm on Fire" is a separate song from 1985.

    Anonymous 12:38 PM  

    Thanks, Thorasic, for the advice, but has anyone managed to download the puzzle without deleting and re-adding the app? I would rather not lose all of my previous solves going back a couple of years now.

    Anonymous 12:40 PM  

    Sorry, I misspelled your handle above, Thoracic.

    John V 1:15 PM  

    @amounts 12:40. Have you tried rebooting/restarting your iPad?

    jburgs 1:19 PM  

    I have heard the complaint in the past about words such as this day's "ABBA" being in the grid as well as in a completely unrelated clue. I don't understand why this a problem to people. Can someone please explain how this rule came about?

    Masked and Anonymo2Us 1:23 PM  

    Dang, @joho. Watch what you're voila-in' on. Puz is pretty SHORTonU's, as it is.

    BEQ, one of my faves, is the constructor who dares to be desperate. Just look at these silver-bullet puppies:
    * RE-NAIL: Totally luv this. He really renailed this one.
    * COW-HERB: Equally nice. Gardening PuzEatinSpouse never heard of it. This almost-made-up plant only grows in mooooonlight, btw.
    * LAVIN: Two things U get lots of in a QuigPuz is people names and rock music refs. Better clue here, obviously, is: "Cleanin up". BEQ.QED.
    * POGS: Pigs crossed with hogs = "Game discs"? Wanted POOP.
    * SHORTU: As mentioned earlier on, puz theme.
    * OSH: Weeject of the Day. Especially with OSHA hoverin 3 paces above it. Great excuse for gettin to write Kyrgyzstan, tho.
    * ALAS: Can we please retire this old limp bizkit word? No particular reason. Other commentors are always sayin stuff like that, so I thought I'd join the club...

    OK. So much for the sweet smell of desperation. But look what BEQ gives yah, as compensation...

    Rock on, BEQ.


    Anonymous 1:23 PM  

    I disapprove of the term "graffiti artist." It glorifies what it really is --- vandalism.

    r.alphbunker 1:29 PM  

    Never heard of EVENTIME either. Agree with @ED that the expression is 10 flat.

    A search of Google for "even time" produced two hits for the sense it was used in the puzzle. That is not an overwhelming endorsement. It seems that BEQ just lucked out that it existed at all. It is also used in some translation of the Bible to mean evening.

    Chip Hilton 1:32 PM  

    Mostly enjoyable, a good Friday-appropriate slog. I blanked on BANK-S-Y, even though I had seen a TV feature on him a while back. PO-G-S, too, got me, which meant GESTE was a no-show. But that's me. My big annoyance was the doubleheader of ESS and SHORTU. I'm just not a fan of clues like that and two in the same puzzle was two too many. Finally, either I've seen the misdirection clue for ERIECANAL before or I'm getting better at this.

    syndy 1:33 PM  

    Does an ERODENT use Ecash to pay for his EZINE?Some great fill ,some so so ,some truly terrible!The ErODENT would need to IDEATE to figure out if BEQ got a pass for subparness or was held to a higher standard;probably some of both-SOTHATHAPPENED!

    chefbea 1:42 PM  

    Where can I find the solution to BEQ's hard puzzle?

    Edna Krabappel 1:43 PM  

    I'm surprised Rex didn't feature Banksy's "The Simpsons" intro. (I'm more surprised Fox even let them show it in the first place.)

    Masked and Ambrosiastan 1:51 PM  

    @syndy: har. Plumb forgot to include E-RODENT in my silver bullets list. Consider it included. See syndy for the primo color commentary on it.

    Come to think of it, ONESET is pretty funky, also. Day-um, Quigzmeister. That ONE-trick dealy is usually 4-Oh's shtick. Nice reach-out.

    Hi-yo, E Rodent Cow Herb, Awaaaaay...

    ightizT 83

    oops, typed it in the wrong spot.

    Slide 1:52 PM  

    Not even two diagonally adjacent black squares?! Interesting...

    Bob Kerfuffle 1:53 PM  

    @chefbea - Check Rex's list of Daily Crossword Blogs, click on

    Diary of a Crossword Fiend.

    Lewis 2:14 PM  

    I said yesterday (to myself), I pity whoever has the puzzle tomorrow, coming after this masterpiece. So I agree with ED that reaction to the puzzle might be partly because of a letdown after yesterday's high.

    I enjoyed the solve, which went smoothly for a Friday. To me, it had spark.

    I liked the Rome misdirect. I don't mind answers like ESS when they do a good job fooling -- this one didn't, and I also don't like the word "leader" in a clue, used as this one was. Nobody uses that word that way in real life.

    I like that LOSALAMOS, birthplace of the atomic bomb, crosses IMONFIRE. I learned GESTE. Thank you BEQ.

    Lewis 2:16 PM  

    That is, IMONFIRE is a great image for the atomic bomb. Of course I detest the results of said explosion.

    chefbea 2:18 PM  

    @bob kerfuffle thanks. fun puzzle

    Rob C 2:39 PM  

    @jburgs - This is my understanding and I could be off base on this. Also, how dare I speak for WS.

    As I understand it, the "rule" is so that a clue doesn't unintentionally spoon feed the solver a different answer. If WS doesn't think that a connection will be made between that clue and the other answer, it's ok.

    The other thing to remember is that all "rules" are completely at the discretion of WS. Therefore the "" around rules.

    LaneB 2:54 PM  

    I'm in 100% agreement with Mitzie on this one. Unknown constructors would have been rejected with polite references to NYT standards. However, the puzzle was challenging enough for me and I did manage to finish it even without knowing a POG from a COWHERB Would a COWPIE qualify as a POG?. Yeah. . .anyway, I thought GESTE, ORS[Boolean operators], IDEATE, STASHES and RENAIL were sort of weak, but that's just me. Any time I finish a Friday with only a couple of write-overs, it's a good day.

    Anonymous 2:56 PM  

    I agree that EVEN TIME was horribly clued. Something to evoke 'keeping and EVEN TIME' would have been much better. Though not pretty, that is an actual thing.

    John Child 3:14 PM  

    Slog, slog, slog. No fun at all: Full of proper nouns I didn't know. Yuck

    Michael Hanko 3:14 PM  

    So is today's STASHES clue the gateway to using drugs the NYT puzzles?

    Rex Parker 3:31 PM  

    @ED—you are over-arguing. I get you want to make it seem there's a Ton of stuff wrong with this, but the clue on "Justified" is not credibly one of them. Nor is the elegant WALLACE STEVENS. You like "Justified" the show (as do I) and you don't like poetry. Fine. But that's not a critique of the puzzle.

    But thanks for expressing your feelings in a reasonable, conversational way and not making lame attempts to psychoanalyze me. Some of your peers could take a lesson.


    R. McGeddon 4:11 PM  

    Wallace Stevens is a great poet. It doesn't hurt to be reminded of him.

    Frank's brother Arthur called himself the evil of two Loessers.

    gifcan 4:17 PM  

    I wish I had something psychoanalytical to say right now but I don't.

    COWHERB? Really?

    EXECUTOR is the better answer for "those with will power?"

    Not bad.

    @Mac - you're the only one with Wheaties so far. Perhaps the breakfast of champions but not of olympians.

    jburgs 4:20 PM  

    Thanks Rob C (2:39 PM) for the explanation regarding same words in grid and clues. Certainly for myself, I can't see myself or most solvers having a revelation in this way. In today's puzzle I would think there's about 12 degrees of separation between Abba the europop group and Abba Eban. Now, if he came to like the group while in Stockholm for peace talks and made it known in the press, there may be a case for unintentional spoon feeding.

    Danp 4:29 PM  

    Junkiest puzzle I've seen in a long time. "So that happened?" Even time? Terribly forced combinations of words.

    Norseman- why the eg.? to distinguish it from Modern Day Swedes?

    Erodent? Surprised it wasn't clued as a mouse used for internet purchases.

    Trays - in a dentists office. Could have been anything, and trays could be anywhere.

    If BEQ is king, this puzzle is the emperor's new clothes.

    Bassetwrangler 4:38 PM  

    Guess it's a generational thing but my first guess for maxim was LadMag (you know, laddie magazine).

    sanfranman59 4:49 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 17:43, 20:21, 0.87, 29%, Easy-Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Fri 10:01, 11:52, 0.84, 25%, Easy-Medium

    Anonymous 5:02 PM  


    John in Philly 8:32 PM  

    My best week ever- no DNFs! This puzzle was a challenging slog to me. SE with Banksy, ick.

    Tita 9:06 PM  

    @GillIP, @ED, and 1st para from @Mitzie - same here.

    @Mac - I need to add your wheaties to the HoF. All I need is time.

    COWslip I know - COWHERB?
    This puzzle's saving grace is that I learned that COWHERB is officially known as vaccaria, and commonly as cow basil.

    Joe The Juggler 9:17 PM  

    Masked & Anonymous said:

    "This almost-made-up plant"

    Doesn't that mean it's not a made-up plant?

    Ω 9:51 PM  

    I would never psychoanalyze someone wearing a metal hat.

    sanfranman59 10:02 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 5:21, 6:09, 0.87, 3%, Easy (6th lowest ratio of 188 Mondays)
    Tue 9:05, 8:13, 1.10, 76%, Medium-Challenging
    Wed 9:56, 9:43, 1.02, 60%, Medium
    Thu 22:51, 16:29, 1.39, 94%, Challenging
    Fri 17:41, 20:21, 0.87, 29%, Easy-Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:18, 3:46, 0.88, 3%, Easy (5th lowest ratio of 188 Mondays)
    Tue 5:25, 4:57, 1.09, 72%, Medium-Challenging
    Wed 5:24, 5:36, 0.96, 41%, Medium
    Thu 14:20, 9:30, 1.51, 94%, Challenging
    Fri 9:44, 11:52, 0.82, 23%, Easy-Medium

    Anonymous 10:22 PM  

    It took me three hours, and I still got four squares wrong. I'm genuinely surprised it got the "easy" tag.

    Yes, I should have guessed Nome, but for some reason I tried Kobe, and that really screwed me up.

    Never heard of "cowherb," nor "Abba Eban," nor "erodent," nor "alo" as a Spanish greeting.

    I'm not a fan of seeing such old standbys as "Sela" Ward and "Tino" Martinez, though without them it's quite likely I wouldn't have gotten as far as I did with this puzzle.

    I'm also not a fan of "sound" clues like "short u."

    I'm actually pretty pleased I got as far as I did with this one, but looking back, there's nothing that makes me really smile...maybe "stashes," but I would have preferred "stashed."

    Anonymous 10:26 PM  

    Have to agree with the meh faction. A themeless Friday has to have some special spice -- nowhere to be found here. Way easier than yesterday's gem IMHO. Which reminds me, although I'm ashamed to admit this, the band's name is ABBA not Abba. "Abba's genre" might be "Israeli statesman" Oops! Doesn't even cross 9D

    M and A's Last Silver Bansky 10:48 PM  

    @Joe the Juggler: Re: Cow herb plants: Hey, yeah. Good point. What you say almost sounds about right to me!

    (Hell, I ain't about to disagree with some dude who can breath fire...)

    Best wishes,

    evil doug 4:15 AM  


    'Legitimate' is certainly, um, justified to be a clue for 'justified'; I just think a more energetic, vivid clue would have been more entertaining. I probably derive more pleasure from lively, clever clues than the answers themselves. Hence my Elmore Leonard idea, but your point is well taken.

    And my point about Wallace Stevens wasn't that I didn't like poetry (I actually had a poem published in Air Line Pilot magazine---not your typical source for the genre, I grant you, yet there I am). My gripe was with his name. Had he been named Maya Angelou, or Carlos Danger, I would've moved right along. There just aren't many more boring names to look at than 'Wallace' and 'Stevens'. Not his fault. Just my own fun-meter pegging low....


    bigsteve46 10:33 AM  

    There is no such thing as a "graffiti artist." Graffiti is vandalism and the people who do it are criminals (minor criminals, on the overall scale of things, I'll admit) but certainly NOT artists.

    The banksy/geste/pogs corner is just crappy and lazy work, regardless of the aura of the constructor(you can't really trust people who use 3 names.)

    Anonymous 7:23 PM  

    I'm probably hopelessly late, but 100 yards? No way! i'm pushing 50 years old and I ran the 100 meter dash. In track and field, yards were long gone by the mid 1980's, everything was measured in meters.
    What's more 10 even?!!! an earlier poster had it right it's 10 flat. If you're British, you could get away with 10 dead. But 10 even is wrong.
    Poor job Mr.Shortz.

    spacecraft 11:34 AM  

    You cannot call a BEQ Friday puzzle "easy." The earth would rotate counterclockwise, as in "Superman." However, I started with an armful of gimmes: SELA, for whom IMONFIRE--a sentiment that's JUSTIFIED, TOBESURE.

    On the other hand, WOEs aplenty: COWHERB, OSH, ERODENT (Mighty Mouse online?)--and that damnable SHORTU: this is the kind of crap I'd like to ban.

    In the who-has-EVER-said-that? department: EVENTIME and SOTHATHAPPENED. The latter, particularly, is just plain stupid, a nonsense saying. I can't even dream up a situation in which you would possibly say that. It was purely forced in on crosses, one by one.

    Never heard of BANKSY, and forgot WALLACESTEVENS for long enough to make this one a medium, a tad on the challenging side.

    All is forgiven, though. SELA.

    Ginger 3:08 PM  

    BEQ in PC mode loses a lot of the sparkle and grit found in puzzles on his own site. That, compounded with comparison to yesterday's brilliant puz, and this puzzle is a disappointment.

    About yesterday's gem. Had a long day and finally picked it up about 11:30 pm. WOW, Double WOW, DOUBLE FEATURE, Double fun. Enjoyed the double cluing; grab suddenly, and the Carpenter duo. Part of the theme? I just hope my AHAs didn't wake the neighbors.

    Dirigonzo 4:09 PM  

    WPP and I soldiered on through the grid, picking off single answers, and in some case single letters, one-by-one until final enough crosses formed for us to see the longer answers. We nearly quit with 4 empty spaces in the SE corner when POGS emerged from some dark corner of my brain, add we thought BANKSY looked legitimate enough to call it good. Hemi/Vsix/VTEN made the middle of the grid an ugly mess.

    DMG 4:38 PM  

    Had trouble getting started on this one. However I eventually managed most of it, despite the plethora of things I didn't know, e.g. EVENTIME, , VTEN. Took a long time to decode the vapid SOTHAT... expression, since dINO was my first choice for the sport's name. Had to accept STASHES, which I usually associate with upper lip hair. I guess that its use here refers to something you hide? In the end, my undoing was xRAYS. worked for me, who finds many band names incomprehensible.

    @Ginger: How about the crowd at the Isner/Montfils battle. It sounded more like a bullfight, with every intent to rattle Isner. I eventually turned the sound off. Surprised nobody did anything, like evict the jerk who shouted every time Isner was mid serve. Right now watching Sloane S win another.

    Solving in Seattle 4:58 PM  

    I just think we have a passel of grumpyoldmen (and women) who are hung over from yesterday's Double Feature and subsequent celebration, myself included.

    I also have to echo, albeit not as eloquently, @ED and @Spacecraft in their criticism of "SHORTU"- and "ESS"-type fill. Nuff said.

    Go Hawks!

    rain forest 6:04 PM  

    Not grumpy, but I believe I am not a BEQ solver. I always struggle with his puzzles. Even with this one, though I had several key gimmes: ABBAEBAN, EUROPOP, LAVIN, SEAOTTER,NOME,PHOBIC, LOESSER, it wasn't fun, and it wasn't easy. EVENTIME?? say what? I really don't know how that relates to a sprinter's time in any race. I think 9.6 seconds could be an "even time", if what you are saying is the pace was regular. ALO? OSH? Whoops, it sounds like I'm getting grumpy, so I'll stop.
    I'll just say this is not my cup of tea, though I finished.

    Dirigonzo 7:10 PM  

    Hey @SiS (and other Seattle-Syndis) - WPP just read that Sports Illustrated has predicted a Patriots v. Seahawks Super Bowl, with New England winning by a score of 30 to 23. Sorry to ruin the season for you, but at least your team is going to the Super Bowl (which is in NJ on 2/2/2014, when the "Farmers' Almanac" is forecasting a major snow storm in the northeast - so you can blame the weather for the outcome!).

    Solving in Seattle 7:41 PM  

    @Diri & WPP, I'm assuming that since you're in New England, and the nearest NFL team to you is The New England Patriots, that you might be fans of Brady, So, congratulations on your forthcoming Super Bowl victory. And, since you're from Maine, you'll probably be wearing short sleaves and Bermudas to the game.

    The season should be fun - all except the last game when the zebras steal the Super Bowl win from the Hawks again.

    Dirigonzo 8:42 PM  

    @SiS - this blog really needs a "like" button.

    torebra - I must have pulled too hard.

    Ω 9:51 PM  

    @SIS and Dirigonzo - if I actually cared about football you'd be making me depressed. The Lions are predicted to be golfing during that big snow storm. Go Tigers.

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