Alpine skier Julia who won Olympic gold in 2006 / FRI 11-15-13 / Novel title character with brief wondrous life / Rough limestone regions with sinkholes caverns / Whose eyes Puck squeezes magical juice on / Good hand holding in Omaha Hi-Lo / Powerful Hindu deities

Friday, November 15, 2013

Constructor: David Woolf 

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none (unless you count SODIUM PENTOTHAL and THE TRUTH WILL OUT, which I don't)

Word of the Day: KARSTS (9A: Rough limestone regions with sinkholes and caverns) —
Karst topography is a geological formation shaped by the dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock, usuallycarbonate rock such as limestone or dolomite, but also in gypsum. It has also been documented for weathering-resistant rocks, such as quartzite, given the right conditions.
Subterranean drainage may limit surface water with few to no rivers or lakes. Many karst regions display distinctive surface features, with cenotes and sinkholes (also called dolines) being the most common. However, distinctive karst surface features may be completely absent where the soluble rock is mantled, such as by glacial debris, or confined by one or more superimposed non-soluble rock strata. Some karst regions include thousands of caves, although evidence of caves large enough for human exploration is not a required characteristic of karst.
• • •

Felt like the easiest Friday ever when both CASH BARS (1A: Their drinks are not on the house) and OSCAR WAO (15A: Novel title character with a "brief, wondrous life") went in right away, no hesitation. But once I got out of that corner, things settled down into a more Friday-like groove. Still felt pretty easy overall until the SW corner, where I spent over a minute … without, somehow, even looking at the clue for 50A: Olive ___ (OYL). How is it that I have been solving multiple crosswords every day for seven years (and occasionally solving for fifteen years before that) and can still forget to check a short answer in a corner I'm struggling with. Reading all the clues! Remedial! Ugh. Turns out all the answers I kept doubting were right (ON IT, THE TRUTH …, HOPE SO). It's just that COURTS was hidden in a vague clue and HOOTCH was hidden in a clever clue and HAPS was absurdly clued ("Unlucky accidents, old-style"?? Those are *mis*haps; HAPS just happen). Anyhoo… it all worked out once I decided to read all the clues. OYL solved everything. No problems anywhere else except for minor trepidation in the NE, where I knew neither KARSTS nor NIIHAU (16A: Hawaii's Forbidden Isle). They still both look like made-up words to me. But the crosses checked, so that was that.

Is TATARY (13D: Vast historical region controlled by the Mongols) different from Tartary? No. No it is not. Pretty sure the latter is preferred ("TATARY" will redirect you to "Tartary" at wikipedia). Seems like a "variant." See also PANGEA, which I know as "Pangaea," because that's what it is (45A: It broke up in the age of dinosaurs). Not that either TATARY or PANGEA slowed me down much. I spelled PENTOTHAL wrong the first time around (it's getting red-underlined by my computer even now, so perhaps the misspelling was understandable). I had PENTATHOL … which is *not* getting red-underlined. Wow. Confusing. MANCUSO was a ridiculous-name outlier (39D: Alpine skier Julia who won Olympic gold in 2006), but everything else felt at least reasonable. Enjoyable Friday fare.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Carola 7:53 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle's declaration, "NO IFS, ANDS, OR BUTS: THE TRUTH WILL OUT on SODIUM PENTOTHAL." For me, a perfect Friday to linger on, over tea on a slow, gray morning. Some familiarity with the literary and film ARTS gave me a good start with OSCAR WAO, LYSANDER, EDGAR, and ALAN Rickman as Professor SNAPE. Struggled in the KARSTS area and had a Brit ON A BOoT, which kept the center a mystery for a while. DEVAS and MANCUSO had to come from crosses.

I liked the only-in-a-crossword neighboring realms of TATERY and SUSSEX, the echoes from yesterday in the PENT- prefix and the NOONER subcategory of TRYSTS, and the idea of CASH BARS serving HOOTCH. Agree with @Rex about PANG(a)EA, but I feel that this has entered the lost cause category, along with the "trouper" v. "trooper" distinction we commented about recently

Overall, just lots of pleasure in the words....KARSTS, NIIHAU, WAO, VAGABOND, HOOTCH...

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

This puzzle stretched my poor end of the week brain but once it started to fall...... I didn't know OSCAR WAO so way surprised when the puzzle was accepted. I enjoyed the diversity of the answers and the new vocabulary from a new constructor.

Questinia 7:56 AM  

Utterly on my wavelength. Started at 10P and ended about six minutes later. Fastest Friday in a while, if not ever, and whereas I don't usually check my time when I saw the times posted I saw I was in the top five in speed... without trying! Bizarre.

Mike in DC 7:58 AM  

Liked the puzzle overall, but had a lot of WOEs: Oscar Wao, Karsts, Niihau, Tatary, Mancuso.

That made the NE tough and put the puzzle on the challenging side of medium.

Lord, what fools these mortals be! 8:01 AM  

A Midsummer Night's Dream , Act II, scene I

OBERON: That very time I saw, but thou couldst not,
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
Cupid all arm'd: a certain aim he took
At a fair vestal throned by the west,
And loosed his love-shaft smartly from his bow,
As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts;
But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft
Quench'd in the chaste beams of the watery moon,
And the imperial votaress passed on,
In maiden meditation, fancy-free.
Yet mark'd I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before milk-white, now purple with love's wound,
And maidens call it love-in-idleness.
Fetch me that flower; the herb I shew'd thee once:
The juice of it on sleeping eye-lids laid
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees.
Fetch me this herb; and be thou here again
Ere the leviathan can swim a league.

PUCK: I'll put a girdle round about the earth
In forty minutes.


[Re-enter PUCK]

Hast thou the flower there? Welcome, wanderer.

PUCK: Ay, there it is.

OBERON: I pray thee, give it me.
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell'd skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in:
And with the juice of this I'll streak her eyes,
And make her full of hateful fantasies.
Take thou some of it, and seek through this grove:
A sweet Athenian lady is in love
With a disdainful youth: anoint his eyes;
But do it when the next thing he espies
May be the lady: thou shalt know the man
By the Athenian garments he hath on.
Effect it with some care, that he may prove
More fond on her than she upon her love:
And look thou meet me ere the first cock crow.

PUCK: Fear not, my lord, your servant shall do so.


A Midsummer Night's Dream , Act II, scene II

HERMIA: Lysander riddles very prettily:
Now much beshrew my manners and my pride,
If Hermia meant to say Lysander lied.
But, gentle friend, for love and courtesy
Lie further off; in human modesty,
Such separation as may well be said
Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid,
So far be distant; and, good night, sweet friend:
Thy love ne'er alter till thy sweet life end!

LYSANDER: Amen, amen, to that fair prayer, say I;
And then end life when I end loyalty!
Here is my bed: sleep give thee all his rest!

HERMIA: With half that wish the wisher's eyes be press'd!

[They sleep]

[Enter PUCK]

PUCK: Through the forest have I gone.
But Athenian found I none,
On whose eyes I might approve
This flower's force in stirring love.
Night and silence.--Who is here?
Weeds of Athens he doth wear:
This is he, my master said,
Despised the Athenian maid;
And here the maiden, sleeping sound,
On the dank and dirty ground.
Pretty soul! she durst not lie
Near this lack-love, this kill-courtesy.
Churl, upon thy eyes I throw
All the power this charm doth owe.
When thou wakest, let love forbid
Sleep his seat on thy eyelid:
So awake when I am gone;
For I must now to Oberon.


Sir Hillary 8:07 AM  

This was one big spelling lesson for me today. Until this morning, I knew PANGEA as Pangaea, PENTOTHAL as pentothol, and HOOTCH as hooch.

Played easy in the end. Nice puzzle, although unremarkable. My favorites: NOIFSANDSORBUTS and the clue for STRUCK. My least fave (by a mile): SASES.

I despise the following term more than I can express and can't believe I'm about to use it, but it's actually apt to describe my feelings on this one...Meh.

Glimmerglass 8:15 AM  

Appropriately Friday. Easy in a few place but challenging in others. Never heard of OSCAR WAO or KARSTS. But I lived in Hawaii long enough to have heard of NIIHAU. There were some clever misdirections, leading to (eventually) aha moments, which are why I waste all this time with xwords.

joho 8:18 AM  

At reading the clue at 17A I could hear in my head, "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan ... period!" Very timely.

I ended up with two wrong squares in the NE where I struggled the most. clOCKIN really makes no sense and while cARSTS sounded right it was spelled wrong!

Loved writing in ONYX after I erased iNky.

I also had gAdABOut before getting VAGABOND.

Beautiful puzzle, David Woolf, and congratulations on your debut! FYI, your aunt is very proud of you.

Here's a note I found in my emails this morning from a friend in California: My friends' son/nephew has crossword puzzle in NYT today!
Dear Friends,
David's crossword puzzle is in the New York times for Friday!I am thrilled for my nephew!

I'm thrilled for you, too!

Bob Kerfuffle 8:27 AM  

Despite a few IFS ANDS OR BUTS (those odd spellings), a fine Friday puzzle; no need to go ON ABOUT it.

AliasZ 8:38 AM  

I loved and MIREd the SEA OTTER ever since I was NIIHAU. I cannot imagine ACUTER animal. It is an easy-going creature that forages for sea urchins, mollusks and other crustaceans, or just LYSANDER back and floats atop the water for some RANDR, ASONEMAN without a worry in the world. ASMANY films and photos have shown, they STRUCK shells with a stone, or KNOCKIN them together, to SNAPE them OPENED and get to the flesh of the clam. They also chew on crab legs like TACOS. The SEAOTTER is NO ONER, it lives in a SOCIETY or colony.

ANYHOO, it is a calm, relaxed animal that has no problem with its NOIFS. AND SOR BUTS neither, since the seawater, a thick AIRY fur and kelp provide perfect cushioning for its posterior. Needless to say, it never is ON A BOUT with SCIATICA either. The SEAOTTER using both paws to feed itself appears to say GRACE before eating, but it does not appreciate MODERN ARTS by painters like Piet Mondrian and the like. It KARSTS no fishing lines to catch fish and AWAITS for NO ONER to toss urchins at it like some DEVAS would. Instead, it goes down and plucks them from the mud itself.

This is all true, I am no LIA. I also had a shot of SODIUM PENTOTHAL.

AliasZ 8:46 AM  

Sorry for the broken links. Here they are fixed:




Anonymous 8:51 AM  

Fun puzzle. Balanced, and doable.

Masked and Anonym007Us 8:52 AM  

Learned lotsa new stuff from this puz. NIIHAU was really interestin research. Home of the endangered species called olulu, aka cabbage on a stick. Puz is a treasure trove of new words and stunnin weejects. Heck of a debut. We welcome hootch-drinkin Hawaiian Omaha Hi-Lo players bearin Oscar Wao books. mahalo, dude.

fave weejects:
* MII. Note of scale sang while bein goosed.
* RET/TRE. A surprisingly tough trio of letters to milk for usable entries. Don't stop the NYT puz, tho. Every combo has been rode hard and put away wet, except for ERT and ETR.
* LIA. Cool lookin word. Bummer, that cousin LEIA gets all the attention.
* BRS. Sounds made by people too cold to go on any longer.
* TAS. Some British lab leavers, for short.
* OYL. Maybe 4-Oh woulda had less trouble with this little jewel, if it had been clued as [Olyve ___].

Agent 007-U will return, in "The Spy Who Loved MII"...


Unknown 9:18 AM  

Constructor here!

I wrote a blurb over at xwordinfo and at the wordplay blog, but both of those comments were written before I'd seen the cluing, so I'll weigh in on that here. Without counting, I'd say Will is responsible for about 75% of the clues in this grid, toughening it up and easing it where it probably needed it. I will say I was bummed he changed my clue for Hootch ("Product of some mashed potatoes?") which requires knowledge that mashing is a term for part of the alcohol distillation process (i.e. "sour mash").

I also agree with all the grumblers about the extra T in HOO(T)CH, the missing A in PANG(A)EA, and the missing R in TA(R)TARY. My defense is that I liked the rest of the entries in those areas more than I disliked those slightly variant spellings, so they stayed.

So thanks everyone for the feedback! And thanks as always to the King of CrossWorld. I've been lurking here for years...

wreck 9:25 AM  

Hated "ACUTER" .....

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

Put in SCOTCH after i had the OTCH, because HOOCH doesn't have a T in my world.

Pete 9:40 AM  

I too fell prey to SODIUM PENTATHOL. It turns out that SODIUM PENTOTHAL a trade name masquerading as a molecular name, deliberate douchery to confuse specifically me in pursuit of money on the part of big pharma.

The only thing TA[r]TARY in my world is my teeth.

lawprof 9:48 AM  

Last time, NOONER elicited lots of Beavis and Butthead-type comments here. Today, at least so far, none. Strange.

Fun puzzle. My first entry was SODIUMPENTaTHoL (initially misspelled, like lots of you apparently). Second was [softshelled] crabS for TACOS. Last to fall was NE corner where KARSTS and NIIHAU were slow in coming. Otherwise, felt about right for a Friday.

John V 9:50 AM  

Challenging. Much here that was way out of my wheelhouse, e.g. OSCARWAO, KARSTS, NIIHAU. Major DNF, with much of what little I did have being wrong.

So it goes.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

BRs = bills receivable? What am I missing?

r.alphbunker 10:20 AM  

You really don't see Var. anymore do you? It is not missed. An analysis of pre-Shortzian puzzle shows that the term was not always used consistently. E.G.,
SEBAT. On Aug 14, 1961 it was clued as {Jewish month: Var.} but on Dec 25, 1960, it was clued as {Jewish month.}

One person's Var. is another's WOE.

quilter1 10:21 AM  

KARSTS remained a mystery so DNF. But I liked doing this puzzle--just enough Friday toughness but gettable.


It's obviously "Banana Republics" because all real estate agents have to wear quality khaki pants on the job.

jberg 10:22 AM  

Since Mr. woolf has apologized for the misspellings already, I won't go ON ABOUT them -- anyway, I found this one really hard, with many writeovers (what @Rex called a palimpsest once):

Bar girlS before CASH BARS (I still like that one)
ebon before ONYS
spacED before OPENED
scOTCH before HOOTCH staT before ONIT
climaTe before SOCIETY

Worst of all, I ended with cARSTS and lIIHAU, figure that one might 'clock in' a run (I started with 'drive'). Boo hoo!

Isn't this twice for LIA Fail in one week? What's up with that?

Steve J 10:28 AM  

Enjoyed this quite a bit. Worked just like a good themeless should: I had a few things I was able to drop in straight away - OSCAR WAO, R AND R, weSSEX, NOONER - that gave me several good footholds to build from. Scattered letters here and there got me the long fill (the existing O from NOONER saved me from the PENTaTHOL mistake that plagued many), and things fell together pretty quickly.

Was held up for a bit in the SW, particularly HOOTCH/HAPS (even when I had _OOTCH, I didn't quite see it, because to me it's spelled hooch). Nearly had a DNF in the NE. SUSSEX finally came to me instead of weSSEX (which never made geographical sense anyway), but I was left staring at K__S_S and N__H_U. Finally remembered TATARY, then thought I was done for. Somewhere, somehow, all the sudden the deep recesses of my brain threw out KARSTS, and the corner came together.

Loved all of the 15s, loved the clues for HOOTCH and STRUCK, liked VAGABOND and ON ABOUT. The three-letter fill, which is a bit rough in spots, wasn't really noticed by me during the solve. Only groaner as I was solving was ACUTER.

I've given up on seeing variant spellings flagged. I've commented on that many times in recent weeks. It's clear that variants are no longer flagged in the NYT as a matter of policy/style. Although, in a Friday or Saturday, I've never really expected them to be marked.

@Anon 10.13: BRS = bedrooms.

@lawprof: I'm guessing NOONER isn't getting the Beavis-esque chortles today because it was clued in exactly that sense.

Two Ponies 10:40 AM  

Another debut this week.
The NE did me in though.
So a fun DNF.
Thanks for dropping by David and 1D!

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

Is SODIUM PENTOTHAL MODERN SOCIETY's version of "magical juice"?

Di 11:00 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Di 11:02 AM  

Am I the only one who didn't know THE TRUTH WILL OUT is a thing?

Jisvan 11:07 AM  

Strangely easy for me, only had to research (ahem) twice, and learned some interesting things along the way. I liked the way the long answers kind of tumbled out across and down the grid. Fabulous Friday in my book, and I hope we all have a similarly lively, fresh and fun weekend.
PS: Thanks for the most adorable praying sea otter photo ever, @AliasZ!

GILL I. 11:09 AM  

There was nothing here that I disliked...Lots of fun, fairly easy puzzle except that KARSTS/NIIHAU/TATRY (which are all underlined in red) little corner.
OSCAR WAO was my first entry since I had read the book.(yunior was my favorite character).
I had a big crush on Baryshnikov when he was dancing and leading the ABT. He's still pretty handsome. And I'd like to thank my drama teacher for insisting that every play production we put on be a Shakespeare this or that. (I should have played LYSANDER or even Puck).
Did anybody else have CASHcow?
Hey David, Why don't you stop lurking and join this here group?
Thanks for stopping by. I was going to mention that what I really liked about this puzzle was the cluing. RIB in a cage - hah.... Was that Will or you?
I certainly hope to see more of your efforts. Congratulation to you....

chefbea 11:09 AM  

Too tough for me!!DNF and probably won't finish tomorrow. We leave bright and early Sunday morning for Arlington , then on to CT. - so I won't be around tip the 27th. Will have to buy the Times to do the puzzle and maybe can comment a couple of times while away. See you all later

M and A Help Desk 11:10 AM  

@Di, Not exactly a thing. It's more like a guideline. Think it came Outtta Will (Shakespeare). Bard?

jae 11:14 AM  

Mostly easy for me too. My only problems were sorting out the NE where KARSTS, NI'IHAU, and TATARY were all WOEs, and, like Rex and many others, spelling PENTOTHAL. Remembering that the Tatars lived somewhere in the general vicinity of the Mongols helped.

Very nice debut David. A fine Fri.!

Mohair Sam 11:23 AM  

@david Woolf. Thanks for posting, cleared up what bugged me, especially HOOTCH and TATARY. If the Mongols clue had included "(var)" I'm pretty sure I would have gotten the answer and not suffered a DNF.

ANYHOO, a fun and challenging Friday - thank you.

Unknown 11:36 AM  

So happy to see OSCAR WAO appear. I was just recommending it to a friend who is about to visit the D.R. And Gill I. P., Yunior shows up again in This Is How You Lose a Her, which I also recommend,

What an easy week of puzzles. Hoping for a nice toughie tomorrow.

Benko 11:37 AM  

SEA OTTERs hold hands when they sleep, in order to prevent being separated by the current. It's probably the most adorable thing in the world.

Every reference book in the world 11:53 AM  

You know TATAR is the preferred spelling, right?

Unknown 11:57 AM  

@ Every reference book.

Tatar is preferred. But Tartary is preferred. Go figure.

Evan 12:06 PM  

CONGRATS on the debut, David. Neat mini-theme with the truth serum and interrogator statements, if like @Carola suggests above, that NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS was part of it.

But, as a constructor, I say with respect that I think you should have changed that northeast corner. KARSTS/NIIHAU/TATARY is an unholy ALLIANCE of obscure/variant spellings. I often find that variants are the among the worst entries to put in a grid, so seeing three of them in the same puzzle really turned me off. For your next themeless, consider dropping in a cheater square if you're unsure about variants or otherwise undesirable answers in a corner. I could be in the minority on this, but I think cheater squares are a way lesser evil if they make your fill better. Don't overdo them, obviously, but think about employing them.

Again, just my suggestions from one constructor to another. I look forward to your next puzzle.

DigitalDan 12:15 PM  

Wao! Karsts crossing Tatary? Natick for me.

Dansah 12:24 PM  

Merchant of Venice

mac 12:28 PM  

Enjoyed this one, although I did get mired in the NE as well. Hand up for inky instead of onyx, and I thought we were in the ME ME ME society.

Crafty that crabs and clams also fit into the tacos space. Acuter didn't bother me and "the truth will out" is a know phrase.

OISK 12:38 PM  

Enjoyed this one a lot. Way to go, Mr. Woolf! Was really stumped in the NE, with NIIH_U across, and _ _ Tary down. Just kept trying letters, until "Tatar" popped up. Never heard of NIIHAU or Tatary, but have heard of Tatars and Karsts (from geology class), so I finished. Didn't know Oscar Wao either, but it is certainly a puzzle worthy reference, and very gettable from the down clues. Thought it was appropriately difficult for a Friday as well.

Unknown 12:38 PM  


Feedback much appreciated. Since the NE corner has come up a few times now, I'll elaborate on what I was thinking up there. I went back and forth on how to build that corner for a while, taking entries in and out and ended up with a few options, though all of them had serious drawbacks, either because they were too dull, or required bad plurals, etc. Yes, there's a little too much geography in the corner as it is, but by Friday puzzle standards 1) Sussex is common enough to get with minimal crosses, the Tatars as a people are common enough that Tatary should be understandable, and Niihau and Karsts, while obscure, are at least interesting in a cruciverbally kind of way. I didn't see any true Naticks up there, but I also take the point that it skews toward unfun in the trivia kind of way.

Admittedly, I would probably try to go in a different direction if I was building that corner today, with the feedback here (as well as the year-plus experience I've gained since this puzzle was accepted) reinforcing this notion.

Nemo paradise 12:39 PM  

Re: "acuter "-- hmmm. Don't like it much, but then there's Wallace Stevens:

"It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing."

Sinkhole in my yard 1:04 PM  

Turns out Florida does not fit at 9A.

Notsofast 1:08 PM  

Proud of myself for finishing this one! Not at all in my wheelhouse. Scratched it out from rock-hard earth. I'm exhausted but happy. Kudos!

K9doc 1:41 PM  

have never heard the phrase THE TRUTH WILL OUT. any examples of its use?

Loren Muse Smith 1:48 PM  

Yay, David! Thanks for all the comments. So cool to have the inside story.

OSCAR WAO, MANUSCO, KARSTS, NIIHAU, PANGEA, DEVAS, ACE DEUCE, TATARY, LYSANDER. . .too many out of my wheel house served up a big ole dnf here. I got almost three/fourths of this, and I had to fight hard even to get that much. But the stuff I got was very satisfying.

I sure wish I could go over and stand with all the people who knew OSCAR WAO and wanted "Pangaea" for PANGEA (come again?). But I'll just wave to you all. (Hey, but I got four right this morning on Learned League, which is big for me.)

I bet like legions (and @mac and @law prof) I immediately fell for the soft shell "crabs." ACUTER (?) solvers probably held off there.

Never heard THE TRUTH WILL OUT, but it was inferable. So was ON ABOUT.

Cool tidbit to learn about SEA OTTER – here in its full glory. @AliasZ – Funny description and great pictures!

I had a mysterious "tiki" BAR and wouldn't let it go. IDIOCY. Sheesh.

"Hasp" before HAFT. See above.

NII HAU looks almost like Romanization for the Chinese greeting.

The E in PENTOTHAL is the only slam dunk; the other two vowels are anyone's guess. I guessed wrong along with everyone else with "pentathol."

The two ANDs cross!


CONGRATS on your debut, David. Just too much I didn't know. So I'm with @John V @chefbea, and @jberg - challenging!

I skip M-W 1:52 PM  

Proud to say I dropped in Oscar Wao, got Karsts and Niihau off K and N respectively. Fun

OISK 1:58 PM  

That king although no one denies
His heart was of abnormal size
Yet he'd have acted otherwise
If he had been ACUTER
The end is easily foretold
When every blessed thing you hold
Is made of silver or of gold
You long for simple pewter.

(From The Gondoliers)

Anoa Bob 2:05 PM  

The NE put a big DNF on me. No matter, still lots of goodies elsewhere to make it an enjoyable, although a tad name-heavy, solve.

I play poker so was intrigued with 36D "Good hand holding in Omaha Hi-Lo". ACE DEUCE fits the bill to a degree but is incomplete because each player starts with four cards dealt face down in Omaha.

"Best starting two cards in Razz" fits perfectly because each player starts with two cards face down, and the lowest hand wins the pot at the end, so ACE DEUCE is pure gold as the first two cards in that game.

Not a complaint by any means, just a poker player's thoughts.

BTW, in Texas Hold'em, ACE ACE is the best starting hand while SEVEN DEUCE is the worst.

Lewis 2:10 PM  

@aliasZ -- great post, made me smile

Did not know NIIHAU, but glad I do now. David, this was an enjoyable solve for me. Some clever cluing (like for RIB), but you said that Will changed 75% of the clues, and now that I look at past cluing, the one for RIB, at least has been basically done before.

I liked the design of the puzzle, spreading the 15s out, and having one cross two, and it gave a good Friday resistance. Eight examples of grid gruel, IMO, which might be a tad much, but lots of sparkly answers too.

CONGRATS on your debut, and please, keep them coming. My read is that this group, at least, overall, was relatively enthusiastic.

gringa 2:37 PM  

Here in CA again. Loved the sea otter. That actually was a random bit of info I knew for a fact. Wanted to keep an otter in the bathtub when I was 10. No kidding.

Knew cenote, never heard of karst. Was trying for cairn or kneiss but knew they weren't right.

Loved hootch but you're right about the spelling..

This is the type of puzzle that rewards cerebration. I used to think that either you knew the answer or you didn't . Now I know you can work it out.

Today was also wonderful because I was pulling stuff out of thin air. Very gratifying.

Also LOVEit when I can put my Harry potter triviA to good use. Listened to all seven books on tape 4 times at least.

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene 2 (~ line 640):

Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might fail of the knowing me: it is a wise father that knows his own child. Well, old man, I will tell you news of your son: give me your blessing: truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man's son may, but at the length truth will out.

chefwen 3:01 PM  

NIIHAU was my first and most confidant fill as it's practically in my back yard. In case anyone is interested, it's under a high surf advisory today. After that fill everything just kinda/sorta fell apart. Lie detector test at
8D was a hard one to remove.

@Gil I.P. - Life threw me a nasty curve ball, but I'm back now and ready to puzzle, well, maybe starting Sunday.

GILL I. 3:19 PM  

@Susan Mc...Thank you for the "heads up." I too read Junot Diaz because of my interest in the Dominican Republic. My father used to do business in "Ciudad Trujillo" - now Santo Domingo - and on several occasions I used to go with him.
We all cheered when Trujillo was assassinated and you can certainly see why from his book. I particularly like his humor and use of "Spanglish" which is my favorite language...Yunior rocks!
@chefwen...Glad you're back but certainly hope all is well.:-)

LaneB 4:05 PM  

A little Google help with NIIHAU, OSCARWAO and DEVAS and Looked up the cast of characters for the Puck clue, but for a FRiday, that is par for my course, and I count it as a finish. Otherwise I'd never get started. Made for an enjoyable morning.

sanfranman59 4:34 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 21:55, 19:17, 1.14, 79%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 12:45, 11:12, 1.14, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Count me among those unfamiliar with the phrase "the truth will out". Shakespeare is definitely not me forte.

Z 4:44 PM  

@chefwen- welcome back.

I hate to report I suffered from technical difficulties this morning. The paper has missing a couple of half pages of print, including the puzzle. Fortunately, I had my iPad for back-up.

At 51 minutes definitely challenging here. I'd guess 35-40 of those minutes was spent in the north. OSCAR WAO finally opened up the NW when it had to be OSCAR. That corrected HilT to HAFT and finally turned on the light for AS ONE MAN.

Over in the NE AIRY and RIB just weren't coming easily. I always thought TARTARS and TATARS were different, so my ignorance seems to have saved me there. Still, NIIHUA and KARSTS were both dark holes of ignorance, so it was with a bit of surprise that I got the "Yay" message from Crux.

One nit, The "age of the dinosaur" would be after PANGEA broke up. Yes, there were dinosaurs on PANGEA, but they weren't the dominant class. Any paleontologist out there who agree?

Z 4:52 PM  

I thought the phrase was THE TRUTH WILL win OUT, but the right phrase rings a bell in the deep recesses of my memory.

MetaRex 5:01 PM  

Started slowly, finished speedily...a pleasant feeling. NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS works v. well w/ the other two long answers...the quasi-theme is v. nice.

The ESE count is 47. FWIW, the count is considerably lower in the NE of KARSTS (1) AIRY (1/2) RIB (1) TAS (3) MIRE (1/2) and ONYX (1/2) than in the SW of ON IT (1 1/2) HAPS (1 1/2) OYL (2) TRE (2) COURTS (1) ARTS (1) and MANCUSO (1). The ESE count punishes short stuff and short and long clumsiness, not so much long obscurity.

AliasZ 5:17 PM  

OPENED - What Mr. Asner's dentist said to him.
BRS - A baseball team NYY fans hate.
TATARY - Departing greeting to musician Cooder.
MODERN - Hip sea eagle.
VAGABOND - Close ties between two coastal states.
HAFT - Same as HAPS, except totally different.
OSCARWAO - Utterance from a first-time Academy Award winner.
ONYX - Hug and kiss around the Empire State.
AMIGAS - Emissions from a French pal.
IDIOCY - This posting.

retired_chemist 6:11 PM  

Fun, and challenging, here.

KARSTS and NIIHAU came from the deepest pockets of my subconscious. That corner wasn't helped by weSSEX. penT IN, or ebon (28A), all at different times. oscAR @ 31D led me to siVAS @ 34A. Tried to build a 2 letter start to muRder WILL OUT with, obviously, no luck. MmI instead of MII, crabS for TACOS, and more.

Eventually SODIUM PENTOTHAL set me aright, THE TRUTH WILL OUT followed swiftly, and soon I was left with only the NW corner.

But it was a b***h. OSCAR WAO - WTF! sAnd BARS @1A. In retrospect it wasn't all that hard, but at the time it gave me fits.

Lots of stuff that I didn't know but could piece together with crosses. In other words, a fine Friday.

Thanks, Mr. Woolf. Good job. CONGRATS!

Evan 6:29 PM  

Thanks for the reply, David. I don't mind the occasional obscure answer provided that there aren't too many of them in the puzzle and that all of the crossings are fair. TATARY crossing both KARSTS and NIIHAU at the top....that may not be a Natick, but it's close, especially because TATARY is a variant spelling.

Anyway, I took a shot at refilling that corner. You can see the result here and judge it as you see fit.

Acme 6:47 PM  

Loving your posts today as much as the puzzle itself!
Some mad cleverness/wordplay going on there!

Today was a day that ignorance was bliss... Because i didn't know how to spell HOOTCH, PANGEA nor TATARY to begin with, I wasn't thrown off.

Hand up for smaCK, clOCK before KNOCK in...that was my Tinker to Evers to Chance baseball clue for today.

Also thought that that will be how I remember NI'IHAU in the future, sounds like ni hao ma to me too!
ALOHA @chefwen, you've been missed.

NE corner was a nightmare for me, so interested in @David Woolf's comments. Still flabbergasted someone can debut on a Friday! Bravo!

(spent six hours yesterday writing constructor comments for Jeff @XWord Info while I still have some remnants of memory as to how the themes and collaborations came about of my 40 or so puzzles, just about half collaborations, and mostly Mondays. I didn't even comment on the fill, so it's wonderful but sort of overwhelming to now have blogs and such give such in-depth analyses...which did not exist the first 10 years I was naively making puzzles for the Times. How a corner came about?!? All that's been lost to time. So it's interesting to me that @David cared or used this blog as an actual resource)

OSCARWAO is a hole in my education, but sounds great (as are Harry Potter books, but I do love me some ALAN Rickman..."Madly, Truly, Deeply" anyone? He was my entree to this puzzle)
Actually, come to think of it, I had a malapop for oscAR/EDGAR early on!

Acme 6:59 PM  

Ps @GilIP
CASHcow is intriguing and a good puzzle theme entry, maybe get the OLEARYS in on it!
Better than my CASHieR attempt. I thought maybe it was taboo for the cashiers at a bar to drink for free!

Also didn't know THETRUTHWILLOUT was from Shakespeare! I use that phrase all the time!

Which reminds me, time for " Judge Judy"! Yesterday on "Paternity COURT" the judge said "Look at you, all sitting there, dried eyed and bushytailed"(!?!?)
(it was on while I was typing up constructor notes... I swear! So I'm counting it as " research"!

Questinia 7:49 PM  

@ David, also meant to add that I liked your puzzle a great deal. Especially the NE. Clean variety!

Mette 8:54 PM  

David, really enjoyed this puzzle, even if the NE made it a DNF. The rest of it felt fresh and challenging.

Ellen S 9:44 PM  

@David, I thought it was great. SUSSEX and ONYX came in first (well, I had ebon before ONYX, but made my own correction). Then after a lot of "research", (thank you, @Jisvan), I made it through. An easy Friday by my standards, which are, "by any means necessary."

@AliasZ, laughed out loud. Thank you, keep it up. I'm sure glad I came here today.

NII HAU is what the greeter says at Logan's Roadhouse, and probably other cowboy restaurants.

Zuleika Dobson 10:44 PM  

ABT - where dancers wear shoes that keep them on their toes: Pointe Shoes. I suggest that Brendan Emmett Quigley incorrectly clued BALLET SLIPPERS (10/27- 113 Across)
'they may keep you on your toes'
Ballet slippers are designed to specifically keep you off your toes.

I had no time to post it then. My toes were reminded of this when American Ballet Theater popped up today.

Anonymous 11:40 PM  

I got plain lucky in the northeast corner, but everything else felt easy for a Friday.

It took me probably 90 minutes, a very, very good time for me to not have any wrong squares.

sanfranman59 1:47 AM  

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

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

Mon 6:03, 6:06, 0.99, 45%, Medium
Tue 7:59, 8:15, 0.97, 39%, Easy-Medium
Wed 8:31, 9:44, 0.88, 22%, Easy-Medium
Thu 12:31, 16:44, 0.75, 9%, Easy
Fri 21:51, 19:17, 1.13, 79%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:46, 1.01, 54%, Medium
Tue 4:46, 5:09, 0.93, 21%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:09, 5:37, 0.92, 27%, Easy-Medium
Thu 7:17, 9:43, 0.75, 9%, Easy
Fri 12:09, 11:12, 1.08, 66%, Medium-Challenging

wreck 2:06 AM  

Did I miss the announcement? Rex's wrap-up used to appear at 11:00 CST for the next day puzzle.

Dan 9:50 PM  

fwiw, i thought the NE was awesome -- colorful, interesting, challenging, rewarding -- and far better than evan's suggested remake

spacecraft 12:02 PM  

Again, a tale of two halves. The bottom breezed in, aided by the inexplicable retrieval of MANCUSO from amid the PILEUP of obscure sports names in my head, and of course LYSANDER off just the Y of NEWLY.

But the top: b-r-u-t-a-l. Apparently this OSCARWAO book has some sort of claim to fame, probably to the clique of New Yorkers who lap up entries on the NYTBSL--which they themselves create. Me? I never heard of it. And NIIHAU crossing TATARY crossing KARSTS? Wow. I stared at __TARY and took a long shot, that the Tatars had a region named for them, and filled in the double natick with TA. Thanks be. This after figuring out that SUSSEX must have at one time been a "kingdom." Nothing about the clue puts it in the past.

Ah, but none of this gets the spacecraft flag. That dubious honor is reserved for the hideous RANDR, yet another oxymoronic acronym with letters separated by the spelled-out "AND." Once again, people:


Also had troubles with driveIN before KNOCKIN. Darn near DNF up there.

As by now y'all have probably gathered, I'm feeling better, thanks in part to all of your well-wishes yesterday. Much appreciated. You guys are like a second family.

Z 2:36 PM  

Hey, Syndicated Solvers - check out The doodle is a Merl Reagle puzzle in honor of Saturday's 100th anniversary of the crossword puzzle.

Solving in Seattle 3:02 PM  

@Spacy, good you're feelin' ACUTER and not a SHUTIN. Gotta take care of the crew.

DWoolfy, CONGRATS on your debut puz! Good job.

NI'IHAU went down first. A gimme for those who vacation on the neighboring island of Kauai. Great diving off the coast, which is not forbidden.

KARSTS/TATARY totally on crosses. "Fingers crossed" on those two.

uno before TRE.

At 8D I tried "Miranda Warning" and came up one letter short. Most of SODIUMPENTOTHAL came on crosses.

As a diver, and someone who loves to eat abalone, I do not care for SEAOTTERs.

Took a while to see soft shelled TACOS. I order crisp beef tacos at Taco Time.

Today, Google celebrates the 100th birthday of the crossword puz. So, Happy Birthday, CW!

DMG 3:12 PM  

Couldn't hack this one. Done in by no knowledge of OSCARWAO in the NW and a whole bunch of unknowns in the NE. And, when did RANDR, good military term, become "vacay", which sounds like a Vally Girl word? Did get the rest once I swapped the "a" and "o" in PENTOTHAL, so ended up with about a 75% finish. Not bad for me on a Friday.

@Z: thanks for the for the reference, otherwise wouldnt have seen the Google puzzle anniversary tribute.

Ink Alberta 4:07 PM  

In case David W. returns to read syndi-comments - thanks. After a few years of practice only recently started to solve Friday / Saturday puzzle without doing heavy research. And I was able to solve your Friday's without any so can walk on air for the next few hours at least.

With a few letters filled in, I was able to fill in: KARSTS (knew the term from map-making) , SUSSEX , MANCUSO (name to be heard again in February from Sochi?), TATARY , and some of the longer downs. So not out-liers to me at all.

Didn't know Lysander or Oscar Wao at all but completed / inferred them from crosses.

Thanks again !

rain forest 4:29 PM  

CASHBARS, KARSTS, MANCUSO, and NIIHAU were gimmes for me, which helped quite a bit, and enabled me to complete the solve. Slight trip-up on SODIUMPENTOTHAL, as it took ALLIANCE to reveal that A (and I have a degree in Chemistry, blush). I actually didn't mind RANDR, because that's how you say it, but HAPS caused a little pain, and I needed the long downs to get that. If I threw flags, one would go there.

Glad to see you are back in flag-flinging form, @Spacey

LongBeachLee 7:06 PM  

Quote from the old radio show, The Shadow"; "Though it has no tongue, the truth will out. The Shadow knows". Every episode started out with it.

LongBeachLee 7:21 PM  

Ouch. I should have checked my facts first. Tha Shadow quote is "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows." Though murder it have no tongue is from Hamlet

Ginger 12:44 AM  

My first thought at NIIHAU was of @Chefwen, you can actually see it from Kauai. The Islanders there make incredible shell jewelry. Second thought, how is it spelled? Glad to see you back, chefwen, (5 weeks ago), I've missed you.

On the news tonight, the zoo in Portland OR has a new baby SEAOTTER. Cuter than ACUTER! has just been named Ziggy, after the local Zig Zag River.

Knew KARST, but could not pull it out when I needed it, also never heard of OSCARWAO, even with most of the letters in place it made no sense to me. Liked the puz, even though it was a DNF.

@Spacey, so glad you're feeling better. We syndies need to stay well and puzzling.

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