Ximenez dessert sherry / FRI 11-8-13 / Kalahari Desert dweller / African city whose name means haven of peace / Eatery where Tony Award was born / California city near Fullerton / Opening line of 1966 #1 Beatles hit / Clement with two Oscar-winning films

Friday, November 8, 2013

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: RENÉ Clément (53D: Clément with two Oscar-winning films) —
René Clément (French pronunciation: ​[klemɑ̃]; March 18, 1913 – March 17, 1996) was a French film director and screenwriter. […] Clément studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts where he developed an interest in filmmaking. In 1936, he directed his first film, a 20 minute short written by and featuring Jacques Tati. Clément spent the latter part of the 1930s making documentaries in parts of the Middle East and Africa. In 1937, he and archaeologist Jules Barthou were in Yemen making preparations to film a documentary, the first ever of that country and one that includes the only known film image of Imam Yahya. // Almost ten years passed before Clément directed a feature but his French Resistance film, La Bataille du rail (1945), gained much critical and commercial success. From there Clément became one of his country's most successful and respected directors, garnering numerous awards including two films that won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, the first in 1950 for The Walls of Malapaga (Au-delà des grilles) and the second time two years later for Forbidden Games (Jeux interdits). Clément had international success with several films but his star-studded 1966 epic Is Paris Burning?, written by Gore Vidal and Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Paul Graetz was a costly box office failure. (wikipedia)
• • •

Not on my wavelength at all. Felt very From-The-Past, as well as very Full-Of-RLSTNE. It's certainly competently put together, but just not that enjoyable for me. I think NO NOISE really tore it. What is that? How is that acceptable? What's next? [Darkness] = NO LIGHT. [Decapitation] = NO HEAD. That answer is about the most made-up non-thing I've ever seen in a puzzle. The long stuff across the top and bottom is all clean enough, and SCHNOOKS is certainly a colorful answer. But there's a preponderance of short junk (INF, RTS, KNT, SRO, OYE, BREA, TAMA, ETAS, ASDF, EFS, etc.) and just a hell of a lot of common letters. Top and bottom answers alone (DAR ES SALAAM / ESTATE SALES) are somewhat absurd in terms of how loaded they are w/ the most common letters in the alphabet. And then there's ERTES, and ARETES, and PRESSESON … there's just not enough flash here for a Friday. Two RE- words. Two -TO phrases. Three SEEs. Two BEITs. That's a lot of replication. The end product is just OK. Mediocrity plus dated feel made it a disappointing solve for me.

Initial wrong answers really held me back today. STAMEN for ANTHER (which, honestly, is a word I don't know—seen it, couldn't define it). Worse, in terms of consequences—GETAT for EATAT. Really should've gone with the more common EATAT, esp. given this puzzle's propensity for including the most common letters. Anyway, STAMEN and GET AT were enough to keep me stuck longer than I should've been in the north. I wandered all over the top half of this grid before I had any solid, sustained progress. Could think only of the phrase WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA?, so DEAL was oddly slow in coming. [Pair of boxers?] is such a painful clue for ARF ARF, I don't even know where to start. Pair of ["words" that might be "said" by dogs, such as] boxers? Convoluted. But no matter. Bottom half proved way easier than the top. Finished over in ARF ARF land, somewhat (but not that much) slower than my typical Friday time.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:09 AM  

Pretty much what Rex said. Bottom half easy, top half medium-tough.  Needed every cross for DAR ES and literally ended up flipping a coin to get the R.  Tails would have given me an L and a DNF.  Not quite a Natick, but definitely an evil cross.

Tried several versions of P**** before getting PEDRO.

This was a mixed bag for me too.   Didn't like it didn't hate it. 

wreck 12:14 AM  

ARFARF from "two boxers" says it all for me.

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

When did OYE become short junk?

Steve J 12:16 AM  

Mixed bag for me, too. Really liked the long acrosses, but there was a lot of the other fill that was not enjoyable (to be charitable; some of it's painful). Top came together fairly quickly - it helped that I dropped in DAR ES SALAAM right out of the gate (finally, my geography geekiness pays off!) - but the bottom was challenging.

I ultimately Naticked at KNT/LATHS. I still don't get KNT, and Google wasn't helpful. Can someone clue me in, please?

Evan 12:19 AM  

I found this pretty easy, though I was only about 65% confident on the FRIA/LATHS cross (I should know LATHS by now, but it hasn't yet stuck). I actually liked the clue for ARF ARF, though I think my favorite clue was for OSTEOPATH. A few of my friends with DO degrees will appreciate it, no doubt. Too bad TOP SECRET wasn't clued as the 1984 wacky comedy starring Val Kilmer, the same movie in which the dignified Mr. Carson of "Downton Abbey" did this. I still can't get over how crazy that is.

Admittedly I didn't notice many of the dupes while solving, but looking back on them now, they're making me grumble. Slight correction, Rex: There are three -TO phrases (ALIEN TO, SEE TO, TRY TO SEE IT MY WAY).

@Steve J:

KNT is an abbreviation for Knight -- tilting refers to jousting. KNT is unfortunately on my list of abbreviations I won't use in any puzzle, so I didn't like seeing it here.

Anonymous 12:23 AM  

@jae - A tails would have given you DAL ES SALAAM which, I believe, is an Indian dish made of lentils.

Evan 12:23 AM  

Never mind, Rex. I see you're saying that TO ends two entries whereas the third one is buried within the 15-letter entry. Still, three TOs and three SEEs are a lot, and it doesn't help that they're both in SEE TO.

wreck 12:35 AM  

...how about "exchange between two boxers?"

GILL I. 12:40 AM  

Well, this really wasn't that hard but it took me close to 2 hours to finish.
I knew most of the long answers starting with WHATS THE BIG DEAL and ending with ESTATE SALE.
I had to look up HATHA because I couldn't remember how to spell it. Then while I was visiting Google, I had to check on the spelling for DARESSALAAM. I knew it had a bunch of A's and S's.
SCHNOOKS was almost schmucks.
Yeah, the replications bothered me too. ARF ARF was ok and I was about to throw in the towel but TRY TO SEE IT MY WAY saved the day.
WRAPS brought a smile...@Ellen S and I had lunch today and I had a gyro at a Greek restaurant here in town. So far we've done California fusion, Mexican and Greek. We're trying for a "World" FLASH IN THE PAN.

Steve J 12:48 AM  

@Evan: Thanks for explaining KNT. I've never seen that abbreviation. Why does a one-syllable, six-letter word need to be abbreviated anyway? That's just awful.

My mixed bag just tilted a bit to one side.

Questinia 12:56 AM  

Found this very easy and I don't know why. Felt like a Tuesday.
@ Rex, ANTHERs are the doodads with the pollen found at the end of the long thingamajigs.

Anonymous 1:11 AM  

For those who are wondering:

22 A's
31 E's
25 S's
24 T's

Compared to last Friday's puzzle
19 A's
25 E's
12 S's
18 T's

And the one before that...
31 A's
16 E's
13 S's
18 T's

Carola 3:17 AM  

I found it a very pleasing Friday, and I would have said on the easy side, except that I DNF - misremembered TAMA as TAnA and guessed wrong with OlE, giving me LEOnAN as a distant Star Trek relative of a Klingon.

Enjoyed writing in DAR ES SALAAM for its beauty - it never occurred to me to think of its individual letters as being common and thus making it an objectionable entry. Old friends like ERTES and ARETES get a smile from me, rather than eliciting crossword CHOLER (or putting me in a PET or EATing AT me - funny that there are these various expressions of being UPSET along with "WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL?").


Benko 3:21 AM  

Ha! @Evan, it's been a long time since I've seen TOP SECRET, and had no idea it was the same actor as in Downton Abbey. Pretty funny.

KFC 4:25 AM  

So, a guy goes in for his annual physical.  After the exam his doctor tells him everything looks great except that his penis is an odd shade of orange.  He asks him if this has any effect on his sex life.  The guy says "What sex life?  I spend most of my time eating CHEETOS and watching porn." 

Eat more chicken. Now boneless!

John Child 5:22 AM  

MEERKAT / FRIA / KNT Brought me to a DNF, but I generally enjoyed the puzzle. I think that EFS and all such "first letter(s)" answers should die. Makes me want to TOSS my CHEETOS. But I loved how the OSTEOPATH PRESSES ON.

Ellen S 6:05 AM  

I thought it was easy after a long dry spell. The first thing I put in was DAR ES SALAAM. But PRESSES ON took me forever, and I put in HATHA three times before it stuck. In the end I DNF because I can't spell MEERcAT, but I enjoyed it anyway. ARF ARF!

Also just discovered that Dar es Salaam used to be named Mzizima. How cool would that have been?

MetaRex 6:13 AM  

Like the connection between WHAT's THE BIG DEAL and TRY TO SEE IT MY WAY...also like the ambitious grid pattern (only 14 regular blocks w/o the cheaters in the corners)...a nice open feel as opposed to the top-middle-bottom three puzzes division that ya often see w/ stacks...

The ESE is high...my count is 59, a bit higher than the count for most themers and higher than the two themeless puzzes I rated last week.

As always, there's subjectivity...hit NO NOISE but only for 1 point, didn't have a problem with ARF-ARF, and also gave both SEE TO and FORESEE a 0...am tempted to jack the latter numbers up after seeing OFL on the profusion of SEE, but I'm sticking to my policy of generating an Eseometer number before reading Rex or other sources. Also, w/ CONTACT LENSES in the puzz, ya can defend all the seeing, I guess...

August West 7:35 AM  

What Rex and Steve J said. Liked the longs. Fill was painful. Knew MEERKAT has a K, not a C, so I inferred KNT from the "tilting" reference in its clue. But, as Steve wonders, why? While I presume KNT is a chess abbr, I can't get this guy to stop running in loop through my head.

And ASDF? C'mere. [THWAAAAP!!!]


Didn't love it; didn't hate it. Can't quite give it an EF.


Loren Muse Smith 7:36 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 7:39 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 7:43 AM  

Well, PEDRO was my gimme entry, since Mom used to serve us PEDRO Ximénez in Chattanooga following our Welsh RAREBIT. Yeah, right. I actually knew it from all my meals at SARDIS. Yeah, right again.

Rex – me, too, for "get at" before EAT AT. And thanks for parsing one of my many, many woes today – DAR ES SALAAM. Also, I had WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL early on (off only the A, thank you very much) but since I was struggling so much up there, I kept checking if "what's the big idea" would work, too.

"Apexes" was firmly printed in, and I never considered ARETES. 40D – Kept trying to cram in "kling-on" something and *never* would have gotten YEOMAN.

Just so we're all clear here – it's "Fritos" (not "Freetos, despite the fact that it's spelled out right there in the clue. Sheesh) and "Doritos" has the same number of letters as CHEETOS. FWIW – crunchy CHEETOS were my biggest craving when I was expecting my son. And I could not abide the smell of rice cooking. Go figure.

I bet along with tens of thousands, "tra" before SHA.

"Retune" for "fix a key problem?" Never thought to change it to RETYPE.

I just briefly looked into why it's MEERKAT and not "meercat." It seems it's from Dutch/Afrikaans. Another tough-to infer k. Morning, @Gareth!

@John Child – I always try to note that, unlike you, I love the clues/answer for EFS. Keep'em coming, Will!

Funny that for 20D off the NO_ _ _ _ _I kept mysteriously entertaining "no nukes." And there was NUKES in the cross. Some kind of quasi, other-dimensional malapop.

CONCEITS, TRY TO SEE IT, ALBEIT and SO BE IT – made me sniff around in my mind for other –EIT stuff: Fahrenheit, forfeit, counterfeit, surfeit. You gotta love it. "I before E except after C." I guess CONCEITS and deceit follow the rule, but they look, uh, weird. And I can never spell niece. I overthink it every time. (Lest any stickler slap my hand, I get it that SO BE IT, …SEE IT, and love it don't qualify for the rule. I was just contemplating any EIT string.)

PRESSES ON has the same number of letters as "keeps at it," which is what I would say. (But I would rather go out of my way to use "soldiers on" because that one pleases me the most.)

@Steve J – I'm sorry I offended you yesterday; it was not my intention. I'm sure that most men can competently go to the grocery store. I'll, again, have to be more careful here not to promote stereotypes.

This was pretty hard for me. I got about three fourths before I threw in the towel. FRIA, OYE, ARETES, SARDIS, PEDRO, LATHS, ASDF, TAMA, KNT, ANTHER, CHOLER. . .Huh? Kudos to all of you who finished. Alan – looking at the finished grid, I say it's fine, but just way out of my wheelhouse.

Glimmerglass 7:44 AM  

I think the clue "silence" is intended as a command or perhaps a library sign. So NO NOISE is not that much of a stretch. I thought this was a good, challenging puzzle — what I hope for on a Friday or Saturday. I especially admire the six long crosses top and bottom. Very fresh. I only dimly remembered DAR ES SALAAM (I thought it was El, rather than ES) but SCHNOOKS (another great word) corrected that misapprehension.

Sir Hillary 7:58 AM  

Same views as many. Loved the long acrosses. The fill...not so much. That section up near New Jersey is really ugly.

I Googled ASDF, and it's still more like WTF for me. Can someone help?

@loren musE smITh's EIT riff reminds me of a trivia question: What two-word movie title violates "I before E except after C" in both words? Should be a slam dunk for this crowd.

Loren Muse Smith 8:10 AM  

@Sir Hillary - Weird Science Yay! A concierge recommended that movie to me.

I know the rule has other parts that account for some of the exceptions, but I never learned it. Aside from that - English spelling is reedikulus.

AliasZ 8:27 AM  

A quick fix to the preponderance-of-common-letters syndrome would be a trip to the jukebox for some square-dance music with pizazz. If you don't know how to do-si-do, DOASIDO: fake it, just make sure you don't fall on your coccyx.

However, it is unfair to concentrate solely on the negative and miss the very nice long trip-stacks. I especially liked WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL and FLASH IN THE PAN. Which reminds me: on Wednesday I mentioned speed skater Ohno, and Apolo appeared in Thursday's puzzle. Yesterday I offered "1-HIT WONDER" as an alternative theme entry for Thursday's puzzle, and today FLASH IN THE PAN is clued "One-hit wonder." What are the odds? I fully expect coccyx, square dance, jukebox or quick fix to appear in tomorrow's puzzle. Will, don't disappoint me.

There is much great music written IN F by many composers, including Beethoven's own Symphony No. 6, the "Pastorale." Today being Friday, let me offer a little lighter fare instead. Here is Concerto IN F by George Gershwin.

If NO NOISE is good noise, SOBEIT. ALBEIT, I didn't FORESEE SEETO which I am ALIENTO. À bientôt!


August West 8:27 AM  

@Sir Hillary: The middle row of a standard keyboard is the "home row."

Anonymous 8:31 AM  

@sir hillary: the "home row sequence" is where your left hand lays on a typical keyboard. if you notice, btw, there are little raised things on most keyboards on the F and J...so that you can find the "home rows" easily.

source: i took typing in junior high.

KNT, IMHO, is the dumbest thing i have ever seen. seriously? KNT??

i had "OlE" until the very last moment when i had to decide between which word looked more wrong: lEOMAN or OYE. i decided that YEOMAN had to be right...but i've never heard juan say "OYE," unless he was in court and spelled it OYEz.


Mohair Sam 8:41 AM  

dnf here because the world misspells MEERKAT and I thought CNTower might tilt a little. What @Steve J said on KNT.

I usually enjoy puzzles that skew difficult for me as this one did. But not so much today. Five of the six long acrosses filled on one or two letters, nearly gimmes. I had never heard of DARESSALAAM, but the SALAAM filled quickly off gimmes ANG and LEI. SARDIS and ARETES were gimmes here so I should have flown through this thing.

But noooo. Just too many nouns of which I'd never heard. FRIA, RENE, TAMA, NATE, LATHS, ANTHER, PEDRO, HATHA (OK, HATHA rang a bell when it filled). Staggered home with two lucky coin tosses only to be defeated by the beast from the Kalahari; curse you "Hooked on Phonics."

Great clue for OSTEOPATH, btw, but I'll join the grumps on ARFARF.

Lewis 8:42 AM  

Liked the long acrosses, liked the clue for EFS, Naticked at BREA/RENE (guessed right), still at the point where I am thrilled to finish a Friday. Had I not been familiar with crosswordese I would never have finished this. Agree with Rex on ARFARF.

Overall, this puzzle added to my day -- thank you Alan!

Sir Hillary 8:45 AM  

@August West and @Anonymous 8:31AM...appreciate the education on keyboard layout. I now understand the F and J bumps and that ASDF is a home row sequence on a QWERTY keyboard. Thank YUIO both!

joho 9:11 AM  

@Rex, I had the same take on NONOISE. LOL at NOHEAD!

Not knowing 1A I ended up with one wrong square at cTS thinking it was the abbr. for centers. What are RTS again? The ones on the other side of the field from the LFTS?

I loved WHATSTHEBIGDEAL and TRYTOSEEITMYWAY, the highlights of the puzzle for me.

I had the same mistakes already mentioned plus CHOLic before CHOLER but got it all sorted out (except RTS).

The big question of the day is, do SCHNOOKS have CONCEITS?

Thanks, Alan A!

Mr. B. 9:33 AM  

Shout out to NATE Silver of 538, who not only forecast the national result of the 2012 election, but got each state correct: Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada, Virginia, etc; 100% accuracy, all fifty states! Unheard of for a polling organization, Those were intense days –for weeks- of visiting Nate to see new numbers, as Virginia and Nevada would turn from red to purple to ever-so-slightly blue, and PA remained steady, despite a last minute visit from the Mitt. You remember Seamus, the Romney dog, on the roof of the car heading to Canada – a few ARF ARFs, between vomiting and getting hosed off by Mitt at truck stops.
One studied Silver’s methodology, sure that he was accurate in what he chose to calculate and how. Obsessively applying the cursor to his little map, then on to reading Silver’s awesome daily writing. The Romney campaign apparently never heard of 538 and went only with Gallop, Gallop forecasting a Romney victory; thus, their incredible surprise.
(Gallop and Rove’s assurance that he would deliver Ohio again. But the Obama reelect team had gotten there before him and built the virtual Wall, thus preventing a repeat of 2004 in Ohio, which explains Rove’s denial and disbelief on Fox that night, that Ohio had gone blue.) Nate’s blog was an IV drip of assurance during the last weeks, all to have the media now skip on to 2016... rather than the content and ambitions of the Inaugural, the SOTU 2013 and The Grand Old Obstructionist Party’s racist 5th year. Austerity goes in effect, despite the Obama victory, when austerity is the worst application for high unemployment and when we don’t need to obsess about the deficit, as it’s been reduced by hundreds of billions of dollars in the past few years under the president. Wha? The Times doesn’t help, publishing letters equating the Oval Office with a set and the presidency a screenplay, asking why Obama doesn’t browbeat people as FDR and LBJ did, when in fact, if those presidents were here in the actual 21st century, with its fractured media environment, they would be acting as shrewdly as the current president, who wins in the end, every time, websites notwithstanding.

It was SRO night before last to see Daniel Craig in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal at the tiny beautiful Ethel Barrymore Theater. The play, cast and direction were great, but Craig, to a ticket holder coming in with no preconceptions, if that’s possible when you’re about to see James Bond, was a cut above, demonstrating such subtlety and command. The kiss in Scene 4 between Robert and his wife Emily, was worth the ticket price, as well as when, in Scene 7, Craig as Robert, drinks two bottles of white wine in the scene, getting progressively, but still only slightly, more intoxicated, all the while keeping a repressed anger at his best friend sitting next to him who has been sleeping with his wife for years. (@ lms, I hear Craig cooks pub food for his wife and insists on doing the marketing for each meal himself in the East Village where they live.)

Then we actually did walk the three blocks to 44th, to have the cheese cannelloni at Sardi’s, an after-theater ritual. (Stay away from the rest of the menu, if you go.)

Got Hatha and Tama to start. No methodology here, on Fridays. Nate!

FearlessKim 9:55 AM  

To Anonymous @8:31

John says "Hey!" to get your attention; Juan says "Oye!" (the Spanish equivalent of "Listen up!") to get your attention.

All good?

Bob Kerfuffle 10:23 AM  

Easy - medium for me, for once. Always helps when 1 A, and 50 A, are gimmes.

As @lms, had 45 D as RETUNE before RETYPE.

retired_chemist 10:43 AM  

OLE for OYE was part of my downfall. Add that to not knowing TAMA, using TArA instead, gave me lEOrAN, which sounds pretty good for a Star Trek extra to me. If they have Wookies, why not Leorans? Leora Knowlton ran the neighborhood drug store when I was growing up.

A good Friday - medium-challenging here. Lots of writeovers, but that's part of the fun.

Thanks, Mr. Arbesfeld.

wa 10:50 AM  


KNT? Was Art KNG when that was used?

Sha before la la? Was he a Sha of Iran? There are a thousand Tra La, Lnta's and the famous Sha Na, Na how many Sha La La's have there been? Only in the world of puzzles does this matter

Jisvan 11:04 AM  

This was a fearsome struggle for me, even with heavy googling, and in the end I gave up and came crawling to Rex and you all. Loved the long stacks, and love that I know what "long stacks" are now! Those seem to come more easily to me than the downs that link them. Just wanted to say hi, and to thank Loren Muse Smith for the Men Grocery Shopping link yesterday. Just found 8 minutes to watch it (not really, gonna be late to work!) and I laughed until I cried. I lived in Nashville for 25 years, and I do love me some Southern husband humor! (It's a stereotype, but a loving one... Lots of examples in comedy.)

John V 11:33 AM  

Easiest Friday in a very long time. Couple of mistakes at CHOLER/PEDRO cross and YEOMAN. Otherwise, a fine offering from a real pro.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Easiest Friday in months. I usually work NW section across for about 3 rows, then work on the down clues. Wrote in DARESSAALAM immediately, wrote ANG for 9-D and ASDF for 10-D. From that I could guess WHATSTHEBIGDEAL, and that gave me a tremendous headstart. Triple stack at the bottom was the biggest problem. I tried to force IVEDONEITMYWAY because I drew a blank on Beatles songs.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

@Steve J. asked about KNT: Why does a one-syllable, six-letter word need to be abbreviated anyway? Answer: When you're a desperate creator.

And SHA a lead-in to LALA? Answer: Probably the same as above, even if you know it's a mistake, hoping nobody will notice.

Steve J 11:48 AM  

@Loren: No apology necessary. Reading my comment from yesterday, I sounded far more annoyed than I actually was (and my reaction really was more about the video than what you had said). I just find that angle tired and worn out for humor, and not really relevant anymore. I have the same reaction to a man joking about women drivers, for example.

By the way, I also had TRA and RETUNE before switching to the correct answers. I had thought RETUNE was pretty cleverly clued, in fact, until I realized it was wrong.

Count me as another who dislikes phonetic cluing/answers like EFS. I suspect that's a leading contender for the biggest no-win situation for constructors, since opinion seems pretty divided on those.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:13 PM  

Is anyone else having a problem accessing "Diary of a Crossword Fiend"? I don't get anything for today, Friday.

Evan 12:21 PM  

@Bob K:

It works fine for me. Try clearing your browser's cache -- that's done the trick for me in the past when it looked like it hadn't been updated.

jae 12:24 PM  

Oye Como Va

gifcan 12:49 PM  

I sailed throught he top and then got mired in the bottom. I had NOsOund for the longest time.

Early on I thought about shelOvEsyouYeah for the Beatles song but, of course, that didn't work.

I got my DNF when I guessed at TArA, OlE and ERToS. This gave me loOrAN as some kind of alien on Star Trek. Oops.

For a good SHA-la-la song listen to Kiss the Girl from Disney's Little Mermaid. Here's a version you can sing along with here

Did I do that right?

Masked and AnonymoUs 12:53 PM  

Liked the photo album framing effect of this grid. Decent set of weejects, with KNT bein the hands-down weenner. Honrable mention to INF, tho. But KNT right below FRIA sews up the award: anagrams to RAT FINK.

Kinda liked ARFARF and its clue. Admire the desperate aroma of NONOISE, but can see why 4-Oh might want to cut 'er outa the herd. Possible better NONO-ISE clue = [Make unacceptable in Britain?]

have U ever been lonely?
have U ever been blue?
have U ever loved someone
just as I love U?

can't U see that I'm sorry...

Ahhh... Patsy. But I digress...

Did get mah fix over at the WaPo puz, thanx U.

Notsofast 12:54 PM  

On a positive note…It's not the worst puzzle I've ever seen. Hat tip for that!

Nick 12:58 PM  

A little tough, a bit gunky, but not dreary. These days at the NYT that's a win. Sigh.

FearkessKim 1:01 PM  

Thanks, @gifcan! Perfect imbed. And a nice memory rekindled: my son was in kindergarten when this movie came out (he's now a grown man!) and we LOVED this movie. Great songs.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:14 PM  

Thanks, @Evan. That did the trick!

Joe The Juggler 1:43 PM  

This had to be an easy Friday because I finished--at all, and in 20 minutes.

I didn't much like ARF ARF either. Clever misdirection is fine, but not when it's not an accurate clue/answer match.

I loved that Nate Silver made the NY Times puzzle!

OISK 2:27 PM  

Don't know who Nate Silver is, and never owned a Beatles album, but there were enough "We can work it out" jokes around when I was in college, so I knew the line. I join many in disliking the arfarf clue, and had trouble with "Sha", would prefer a clue using the very familiar Yiddish interjection..(why not "Sha" in a puzzle with "Rosh"? Even if they are two different languages) Never heard of Hatha, and would have had a NATICK but based on the tar pits, correctly guessed BREA instead of, say, Bree.
All in all, a pretty satisfactory Friday. Yesterday's puzzle took me much longer.

Mohair Sam 2:30 PM  

@M&A: Ahhh.... Patsy for sure. When it comes to that lady you can digress forever, no apology needed, no problem.

LaneB 2:44 PM  

Finally had enough patience to finish a Friday puzz with a little Google help [mostly to verify guesses and not end up with a lot of erasures.] Agree with Rex about some of the fill [ASDF?,ETO for European theater of operations?, ARFARF (good lord!),EFS (still don't know what that is). However, I still PRESSEdON grumbling all the way.

h_lina_k 3:20 PM  

Why is an irritable state a pet? I have heard of pet peeve, but a pet is something nice. I just assumed that picked some whackado spelling for aretes, since it seems like a word you can throw any vowel into.

M and Also 3:25 PM  

Hey @muse: If U are into them EIT's, run don't walk down to yer nearest Cold Stone Creamery. They got the 3 basic food groups:
* likE IT.
* lovE IT.
* gotta havE IT.

I prefer the lovE IT size. Banana ice cream mixed with dark choco chips. Goes mighty fine with our Friday evenin schlock festivals, out or way.

@Mohair Sam: yep. U remind me of Charlie Rich, for some reason...

M&Ah baby makes me proud
Lord, don't she make me proud...

M&A, C&W Branch

Unknown 3:49 PM  

OFL nailed this one. After the second SEE I was mildly disturbed. The third one had me flummoxed.

Joannalan 3:53 PM  

Did nobody think of ooh before la la?

Anonymous 4:54 PM  

The clue for ROSH is "Start of Jewish holiday?" Is that question mark necessary?


okanaganer 5:25 PM  

Abbrev.s are my pet peeve. If a puzzle is, say, an 8/10 in all other respects, I would deduct one from the score for every stupid abbrev. Today that means an otherwise decent puzzle was just painful. RTS, KNT, TDS, ETO, ETAS (a pluralized abbrev...oh, yuk).

I, too, didn't mind ASDF since I, too, took typing in junior high. "Home row"...I know I've heard that term before...oh yeah!...in 1974. Mrs. What-Was-Her-Name-Again pacing back and forth commanding "A, S, D, F, J, K, L, semicolon...repeat!..." At the time it seemed like a skill I would never use, but then computers showed up and...yippee!

andy from bawstin 6:35 PM  

EFS ARFARF NONOISE: Wah-wahhhhn...

michael 6:45 PM  

ok puzzle (though mostly for an older demographic), but I thought boxer pair/arf arf was really awful. The last thing I got and even then I went "huh?" Yes, boxers go "arf arf" but how is that a "pair of boxers" ?It's a pair of arfs.

Bad Hair Day 6:51 PM  

by Ogden Nash

The panther is like a leopard,
Except it hasn't been peppered,
Should you behold a panther crouch,
Prepare to say Ouch.
Better yet, if called by a panther,
Don't anther.

Unknown 8:08 PM  

This puzzle was oddly on my wavelength, with things like BREA and HATHA as gimmes. Wonder if our constructor is from SoCal? Blew through it in a ridiculously low time for a Friday, but ended up with a DNF at MEERcAT, like so many others. I could see KNT for knight, but MEERKAT just didn't seem right. I haven't posted all week, but if any constructors from earlier in the are reading I loved all the other ones this week. And thanks to folks yesterday who pointed me to the Thursday LA Times, which was indeed a cute puzzle. Loved it. - Ann

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:18, 6:07, 1.03, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 8:56, 8:15, 1.08, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:03, 9:44, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium
Thu 20:50, 16:44, 1.25, 85%, Challenging
Fri 20:49, 19:17, 1.08, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:58, 3:46, 1.05, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:12, 5:09, 1.01, 53%, Medium
Wed 5:32, 5:37, 0.99, 45%, Medium
Thu 12:15, 9:45, 1.26, 83%, Challenging
Fri 11:29, 11:12, 1.03, 56%, Medium

Suzy 10:10 PM  

Figured it out, tried to like it, but, really,no fun.

Z 11:10 PM  

"TRY TO SEE IT MY WAY." Nice longs, lots of dreck.

Beer Rating - Rye Ale. Complex, but missing that ARF ARF that makes a beer great.

connie in seattle 12:59 AM  

I had the two a's in place for two boxers so confidently put in ali ali for mohammed and his daughter. Not to be.

connie in seattle 1:12 AM  

I had the 2 starting a's at 2 boxers and confidently put in ali ali and thought that was a clever clue for Mohammed and his daughter. Not to be...

Anther Cheetos Meerkats 2:10 AM  

@Ann Heil 8:08pm
First, thank you about yesterday's puzzle! :)

Alan Arbesfeld, on eof my absolute favorite constructors, is quite far from being a So Cal zen master HATHA lotus guy! He's a math teacher from Brooklyn!!!

And of course I love him to death for having TRYTOSEEITMYWAY, one of my favorite Beatles songs of all times, and my ANTHEm with my Israeli.

But I was very put out by FOREEE, SEETO and TRYTOSEEIT + 12A being SEEING things. :(
Strange that he and Will didn't SEE that as a problem!
Gotta believe the ALBEIT/SOBEIT was intentional tho.
And AA is famous for those EFS-type of HARDC clues.
(@Lane B 2:44it's refering to the letter F being the first/ "lead" letters of F ilm F estival)

You apologize for simply being funny and spontaneous and seem forever worried about offending the potentially whimsy-challenged...
Again, I plead, do not stifle yourself, you are a scream and a bright light...shine on!!!!
Loved your quasi, other-dimensional malapop!

I had TWO wrong squares: CHOLaR/PaDRO
(Convincing myself that PADRO was a form of PADRE. OYe)
and cRIA is Greek for "cold", so even tho it was asking for a Spanish/Latin-based word, I convinced myself that cRIA was COLD en espanol.

Plus I couldn't figure out ASDc...which I took for the home row on a guitar!!! (Yes, I realize S is probably not a note! But I thought it was like EGBDF... conversely ASDc.
Again, OYe!

Ironic (and ugly) that KNT was abbreviated but STE was not!

I don't know. In terms of abundance of non-Scrabbly letters, I sort of lean towards @Rex on this one.
ARFARF said the boxer to the MEERKAT.

But one thing AA ain't, and that's a FLASHINTHEPAN. I think he's made almost all my favorite early week puzzles.

David Block 9:13 AM  

h_lina_k: I was also confused by PET for "in an irritable state." Eventually a Google search for "in a pet" pointed out that the out-of-date phrase means this (originally from the word petulant it seems).

Anonymous 2:27 AM  

"I text Dr Tako the beginning of February and asked her to start work to bring my boyfriend back. We'd been together 8 months and he had left me for his ex. Dr Tako began her banishing spell and I was sceptical at first, how could spell work bring back someone? After 3 days of rituals I received a phone call asking how I was etc. I thought it odd as he'd just gone, without any proper 'goodbyes' etc, I chatted and acted 'cool' as Dr Tako had said to do, if he were to call or text. Then I began to get texts, then calls then he'd just turn up at home, eventually he admitted that the ex wasn't for him and it was me that he truly loved! Thank you so much Dr Tako, without you he wouldn't have been back. without any doubts i can recommend him to anyone, you can contact him on his email address: drtakolovespells@gmail.com" Sue - Dover, Kent.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

This puzz was easy/med for me but will never understand the "arf arf" clue. Makes no sense at all. Therefor, Mr. A, shame on you. Please try to see it my way.

Ron Diego 7:50 AM PST

spacecraft 11:27 AM  

This was one of those "I'm never gonna get this" puzzles at first look. But then my brain said to me, "C'mon, man, we can work it out." A FLASH in my brain PAN. Wow, does that fit? Lessee: TRYTO....Yeppir! I hadn't thought that particular tune ever made it to #1, but then again probably every Beatles song did in those days. At the time, it was eclipsed by the fabulous "Yesterday," which I'm sure came out right around then.

Thus kick-started, this solver PRESSESON, with the gimme YEOMAN and the OYE of "OYE Como Va," a great Santana number. Where, oh where is music like THAT nowadays? Soon the bottom is filled, and I turn to the top. Off just the B of ALBEIT and the G of gimme ANG, I somehow see WHATSTHEBIGDEAL--and am soon after asking that same question, despite several never-heard-ofs:

538's NATE, PEDRO Ximinez, Agua FRIA, ERTES, RENE Clement.

Other troubling stuff: TOPSECRET is definitely NOT "Classified." I mean, sure, all TS is C, but not NEARLY all C is TS. That clue needs to be cleaned up. F woes include ASDF, EFS and INF. Triple flags!

And then there's SCHNOOK, a marvelous word. When pressed (by me) for a definition, my dad said this.

You come into a mens' room with seven urinals; the first and third are occupied. If you take #6, you're a SCHNOOK.

Or, my own definition: if you constantly invade our blog with ridiculous tales of spellcasters, YOU are a SCHNOOK.

Waxy in Montreal 12:01 PM  

PET peeve today is the NE with ASDF, MEERKAT, FRIA & KNT (ugh) just not in my wheelhouse.

On the other hand, loved the 15's, 14's & 13's all of which were fun to solve and, along with ALBEIT, OSTEOPATH and SARDIS. kept the puzzle from being rated ARFARF.

J.aussiegirl 12:33 PM  

Almost gave in without attempting the puz! Persevered, and I mean really persevered, without resorting to google and finished!

Oops, I guess I DNF as I also decided LEORANS were perfectly acceptable Star Trek characters, @ retired_chemist 10:43 am

Still pleased to have finished and, overall, liked the puzzle. Yes, "exchange between boxers" would have helped.

Cary in Boulder 1:31 PM  

Surprised old baseball fan @OISK wasn't aware of Nate Silver, who was a baseball stat geek before turning his talents to other arenas.

Glad to see this rated Medium, since I figure any Friday I can finish must be Easy. Got WHATSTHEBIGDEAL right away, though hardly confident since ANG was the only cross that worked at first. (Only just now noticed that the "island chain" was LEI.) At first wrote in garAgESALES along the bottom, which put me in a PET while trying to suss out the SW. Trying to parse AR_ARF almost made me want to CHEET until I ran the alphabet for an Aha! moment.

Ditto everyone else for the lameness of KNT, but at least I knew the spelling of MEERKAT from watching that Nature Channel show. I've finally logged enough x-word x-perience to grok right away that the sonata answer was IN the key of A–G (pick one).

Oh, and for whoever asked, RT is a right tackle in football (a sore subject this morning after the Broncos were made to look like a FLASHINTHEPAN in getting de-pantsed by San Diego last night).

captcha: turndh 2.
What my neighbor's little kid just did?

DMG 2:01 PM  

With the top half harder than the bottom, i found this one a struggle, but managed all but one square, the Y in OYE. Somehow realized OlE wasn't correct, but this non-Trekki (Treki?) had no idea for the cross. Actually, there were a lot of things I didn't actually know, e.g. any Beatles song, but they were all straight forward enough, and the crosses helped.

Agree with those who cited the clue for ARFARF, my original boxers were "shorts", and I still think its a better answer for the clue. As for SHA la la, I left it because nothing else fit, but still don't know where it came from, and never saw a WRAP in a deli, but then I don't get out much anymore! On to Saturday...

Solving in Seattle 2:28 PM  


I finished the puzzle. And what Rex said.

Capcha: theonea. Either an Irish chick or the one guy who passed the draft physical.

rain forest 4:55 PM  

I raced through this puzzle in what had to be record time, with everything falling into place, everything making sense, and when I finished I prouldly came here only to find: MEERKAT crossing KNT. Those bloody Boers can't even spell cat, dammit.

Yeah, I know, dumb, and pride goeth before a fall, and all that. I've even read The Life of Pi, where there are thousands of meerkats on that deadly island. And anyway, if you're going to abbreviate 'knight', I think in the old shorthand for chess, the abb. was kt.

So in this morass of a's and s's I wind up skewered on a k. So, @Diri, I ended up with one of your OWS's. So, I'm in good company.

Dirigonzo 7:10 PM  

Well, I started off by having "Seeing things" be halluCinating, which I knew was wrong as soon as SAINTE appeared, but it took a while to unscramble all those wrong letters. I ultimately failed in the SE corner whre my experience mirrored that of @J.aussiegirl. So, @rainforest, today I ended with more than OWS - and to give credit where sredit is due, that acronym was originated by my very favorite commenter, ACME, not me.

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