Square in old slang as indicated by forming a square with one's hands / FRI 1-24-14 / Instruments played with mizraabs / Ambush locale in episode 1 of Lone Ranger / Sun disc wearer in myth

Friday, January 24, 2014

NOTE to PRINT SOLVERS — your puzzle will be different due to last week's NYT screw-up. Go here if you are looking for the puzzle by Kevin Der (which was supposed to run last week, and which online solvers, including me, *got* last week).

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: WAHINE (15A: Miss out on a board) —
  1. Hawaii. A Polynesian woman.
  2. Sports. A woman surfer.

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/vahin#ixzz2rHcXO6VL
• • •

I liked this one, though more for its cluing than its fill, I think. I just found it entertaining to solve. Turns out I don't mind a bunch of "?" clues if they are clever *and* the puzzle is relatively easy. Some of them were transparent (e.g. [Civic leader?] = CEE), but others required more thought (e.g. [One who's trustworthy?] = HEIR). I think I'd've given the puzzle a thumbs-up for the clue on MILE HIGH CLUB alone (26A: Group that no one on earth has ever joined). A great entry deserves a great clue, and this one got one. There's a slangy feeling to the grid, which I enjoy. I think you'd have to be pretty rude/paranoid to answer the door with "WHO'S THAT?!" but I guess if you let the person in with a warm "HOW ARE YA!?" then all would be forgiven. There is some fill here that is a bit frown-worthy. HEPS? Weirdly, I had HUTS there (see 25D: Humble dwellings)—but maybe "HUTS" are the sounds a quarterback makes and HEPS are the sounds drill sergeants make? Or are those HUPS? Whatever, I'm still not a fan of HEPS. Anyway, HUTS was already in the grid, in residence form, so that answer was never gonna be right. Eventually ESPOUSED forced me to fix it. Also, never liked IRES and never will. Cannot take that word seriously a. as a verb or b. in the plural.

Weird coincidence: not twenty minutes ago, I opened mail from a Rex Parker reader who railed against 44A: "___ magnifique" (TRÈS), claiming it was either awkward or redundant or roughly as bad as saying "very unique." Anyway, the point is He Criticized the Clue Before the Puzzle Came Out. I guess it's a recycled clue, but still, it was Very eerie to come across that clue tonight [OK, now that I see that this puzzle actually appeared in newspapers *last* Friday, this coincidence is not so weird]. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about written-out numbers in crossword answers—the kind of numbers you *never* see written out in real life. Like, today, I-TEN and (I think) L SEVEN. See also BTWO, VSIX, etc. Allowing written numbers like that certainly makes for some interesting, unexpected fill, but it also always feels a bit … cheap, somehow. The Dudley Moore movie is "10," not "TEN." "EIGHT MILE" would just seem wrong. But it's a convention I've learned to live with, and maybe it does more good than harm in the long run—allowing for more interesting fill possibilities and solving challenges.

Overall, this was enjoyable. I wasn't awed, but I wasn't ired, either.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


wreck 12:08 AM  

Can't you become a member of the Mile High Club merely living in Denver??

jae 12:15 AM  

Just the opposite of Kevin's puzzle.  Easy and zippy instead of tough and not so zippy.  Only erasure was CHALKbody for LINE.  

Nice little front door conversation in the NE.

Fun puzzle Ian and thanks for the '60s rock and roll gimme!

Carola 12:16 AM  

Agree with @Rex on entertaining and easy. It seemed like an unusually conversational puzzle, from the friendly
HOW ARE YA?, MISS ME? and AMEN AMEN through WHO'S THAT? and WHAT THE? to the breakdown of STOP IT and PLEASE GO. I wondered if any schools today still offer shop and HOME EC. Around here they became industrial arts and human ecology (WHAT THE?).

Garth 12:30 AM  

A tale of two puzzles for me. Got the SE. Lot's of barren land in the NW.

My favorite goof: For "Sup?" I had "WANNA EAT?"

chefwen 12:33 AM  

WHAT THE? Ian, TOKES, MILE HIGH CLUB? What's next? Absolutely loved it. The fun week continues, let's not STOP IT now.

One write over (extremely rare on a Friday) was ESCAPE plan before ROAD.

Great one Mr. Livengood - keep 'em coming.

Steve J 12:37 AM  

I literally laughed out loud when I realized MILE-HIGH CLUB was the answer for "Group that no one on earth has ever joined". That was fantastic.

There was also really solid cluing for HEIR, SAND BAGS and CHALK LINE (which I didn't fill in at first, thinking it was CHALK outLINE). I also liked the various conversational entries like PLEASE GO and WHAT THE.

I did have a "WHAT THE" reaction at WAHINE, which was the last entry to fall. I wasn't sure about TINE as the cross, missing that the clue was imperative rather than a descriptive (my second least-favorite style of clue, after the tired 6D approach).

Very, very fun Friday.

August West 12:40 AM  

Loved it. Love when a puzzle is so overall entertaining that I don't mind the stray ITEN or HEPS. Like Rex, I dig a puzzle with a "slangy feel," and this one had plenty. I am typically locked in with Ian, and tonight was no different. HEIR went right in, off my occupation, I suppose, and MILEHIGHCLUB also went in off its great clue, alone. Big grin on thinking back to making the L7 "square" with fingers as a kid, and who besides OISK didn't hear Meatloaf and sing the answer to 37A as you entered it?

This puzzle also unwittingly put an ear worm of my favorite Dylan tune into my head, so it's also got that goin' for it. Which is nice. I think.

alexp 12:50 AM  

Likely MILE HIGH CLUB member Rick James spelled out L SEVEN on the cover of his album "Bustin Out of L Seven."

Colin 1:07 AM  

Agreed -- this was a fun solve with some really clever cluing. "Très magnifique" is egregious, but most of the remainder of the puzzle is solid.

Amico Cee Missmes 1:08 AM  

I generally think Ian can do no wrong, amazing Mondays and Tuesdays...just as perfect Fridays.

Mostly thought what @chefwen thought.
Isn't WAHINE a bit pejorative, Ms Hawaii? I hope there are a few at the Mavericks this weekend. Cmon, girls!

I think @Rex has interesting point about how ambivalent it's possible to feel about the ickiness of spelling out I TEN and yet the myriad possibilities.

Maybe it would make a cute theme to combine them, eg EIGHTMILEHIGHCLUB, LSEVENDWARVES, VSIXSENSES. I'm going to think about this.

Questinia 1:15 AM  

Is a female snowboarder called an ARCTIC WAHINE?
In that case her name would need to be ISIS.

Nice puzzle @ Livengood

Great Dylan tune @ August West, listening to it as I prepare to secrete my comment from inside this blue-lined SAC.

chefwen 1:50 AM  

@Amico Cee Mismes - When in a restaurant and given a choice of restrooms, one marked Wahine and one marked Kane I always choose the former to avoid embarrassment. It took me once to learn my lesson.

Benko 2:01 AM  

It kind of negates the point of L7 looking like a square when you spell out the seven, but still enjoyed it. Always reminds me of the part in Pulp Fiction where Uma traces a visible "square" in the air (really a rectangle), and the Sam the Sham song "Wooly Bully": "Let's not be LSEVENs." Favorite part of the puzzle were the two long across phrases, PEERPRESSURE and the rightly celebrated MILEHIGHCLUB. Nice smooth solve for this one with enough zip in the grid and clues to make it interesting.

Jisvan 3:19 AM  

WooHoo! One Google Friday, and that was because I thought Weber was a grill, though square meters seemed like way too much room, unless you were having a big cookout, say... Oh, it's that Tesla dude again. Huge surf here tonight. I can hear the waves pounding the beach 4 blocks away. Thinking good thoughts for the big wave riders this weekend, Kanes and Wahines alike. Thanks Ian, a lovely start to the weekend!

Thomas808 4:21 AM  

My mom (and many older mainland people, unfortunately) pronounces Hawaii as "Ha-wye-ah" which sounds a lot to me like "how-are-yah" so I got a big grin when I saw WAHINE next to HOWAREYA.

Danp 5:09 AM  

I never heard anyone say "Sup?" "Tsup?" Yes, but these people would abbreviate "How are ya" to "Yo". Guess I'll have to study modern lingo, because that NE just smote me.

Loren Muse Smith 6:31 AM  

Rex – I guess the majority of us see only the work you do here on the blog every day. I never imagine all the emails you must get, emails that probably should be directed elsewhere. TRÈS incroyable. I, too, considered HUTS (and "reps") for HEPS, but went with "hups" first, thinking ESPOUSED would begin with some kind of "un-".

@Carola –"I wondered if any schools today still offer shop and HOME EC." I had the same thought. I was really surprised when that answer fell. I had written HOME EC in the margin to make some kind of joke that that had been my first thought.

"Iron pumper." Hmm. I bet serious WAHINEs might pump some iron, too.


@Steve J – I never tire of clues like "civic leader?" and "stick with it." I love the satisfaction of figuring them out, though you pretty much can't get me anymore with the former types. Tired? Nah. I tried to clue ANT once as "start to agonize?" but was shot down by One Who Knows Better. Hi, Jeff.

@Andrea and @chefwen - ( I think I've heard that WAHINE can be a bit pejorative.) There used to be a bar in Chapel Hill that had the signs "setters" and "pointers" on the restroom doors. YA know, that's making a big assumption. Just sayin'.

@Danp - Sup, doh! Loved your thought on HOW ARE YA?!!

Ok. I'm a linguist, so I like ambiguity more than most people. Love that the placement of "on earth" makes the clue for MILE HIGH CLUB so ambiguous. Off the MI_ _, I kept taking the "Mir" RTE.

I really dug my heels in with "in kind" for IN CASH and, off that final A, some kind of "dna" for SALIVA.

Funny – ITEN and LSEVEN don't bother me, but "gr8" in a text IRES me. Agreed that IRE with an S irks, no matter how you clue it.


Yeah, we had a male cat named SUE in Chattanooga.

Nice job, Ian! I TENd to TANK on your themelesses, but I finished this with no HEP. WHAT THE. . .? PROUD moment.

Unknown 7:12 AM  

Dead at STrokE/INkind for STANCE/INCASH. Also dead at AYreS rock. I had rejected MILEHIGHCLUB as plenty of people on earth have joined it. The best I could think of for drill bits was ellS. "'Sup?" and HOWAREYA come from different cultures (socioeconomic, geographical, generational) , so the cluing is really very misleading. HOmeyYo is closer but wrong letter count. My compromise HOWAREYo was deeply unsatisfying, and wrong.

On the other hand, I see this puzzle receives a unanimous thumbs up from the cognoscenti, so I shall study myself as I seem to be out of step these days. 90 minutes of thrashing, 5 googles, 13 errors.

jberg 7:13 AM  

I've been waiting all week to see what @Rex had to say about the MILE HIGH CLUB, which really made this puzzle -- unfortunately, some time around Tuesday I forgot why I was saving that old puzzle, so I threw it out and can't remember what else I thought about -- except that I'd never figured out that L7 thing. Got the answer, but thought maybe you used 7 fingers to make one side of the square, or something. Still, a fun puzzle.

Now off to the time machine to read about the Der puzzle!

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

A decent Friday. However, as one who's studied French 30 years and attained fluency in the last 10-15, I'd have to say, no one ever says TRÈS MAGNIFIQUE, Think about it-- how often in English would you hear anyone add a bland emphasis like "very" to an over-the-top superlative adjective such as magnificent? That could have been clued a lot better and in a thousand ways.

Imfromjersey 7:33 AM  

@carola in my kid's schools, Home Ec is now called Consumer Sciences, Shop is now called Tech Ed and they do all kinds of cool things like work with CAD and 3D printers!

Mohair Sam 8:13 AM  

We liked this one a lot. It played medium here - filled slowly but steadily and with fun clues and answers. Agree with @rex that MILEHIGHCLUB needed a great clue - and it got it.

Only wite-out used was on TRES Magnifique. We thought we had a gimme from the old Dean Martin "C'est Magnifique". Cost us some time there. Isn't TRES magnifique semi-redundant? Kinda like the brutal "good success"?

But I'm nit-picking. Excellent and fun Friday puzzle.

joho 8:22 AM  

@Rex, great write up today! I agree that the cluing is what makes this puzzle sparkle plus the fresh, "in the language" answers.

I also had HEPS???? in the margin.

Interesting to see TESLA again.

There's a lot to love here. Too often Fridays are just difficult but lacking the fun factor which Ian has created in spades!

AliasZ 8:39 AM  

What is the secret to livin' good
And long until it hurts?
Solve a tough puzzle by Livengood
Or move into those YURTS.

Ian never learned much in HOME EC,
Can't draw a CHALK outLINE,
What he eats for breakfast: one RAW EGG

If it is thousands that Ian OWES
But can't sing an aria,
He'll only wear his tiny SPEEDOS
When saying "HOW ARE YA."

Whenever Ian's forced to go ROGUE
By his girl's "MISS you ME?
He usually takes the ESCAPE ROAD
Driving his SUV.

Ian won't succumb to PEER PRESSURE
To join the MILE-HIGH CLUB.
What gives him his only real pleasure?
Darts in a local pub.

He's no L-SEVEN, flash in the pan,
And to be more CONCISE,
What makes him better than a HEMAN
Is his brain, not his size.

WHAT THE...HEPS? Listen here AMICO,
Time for you to STOP IT.
Take your TOKES someplace else and PLEASE GO,
Or I SUE your eyepit.

Z 9:25 AM  

When I first got to the blog last week the note said that Friday and Saturday had been flipped. Imagine the swell of pride I had as I flew threw this in an easy Friday time (for me). Even as a Friday this played easy for me.

I have a memory fighting to rise to the top of a comedian being a "poser" and using the phrase "TRÉS magnifique" as part of the bit.

@cascokid san - it happens. I'm quite sure you can find my expressions of disbelief at Friday and Saturday ratings, some not that long ago.

HOME EC has gone through many name changes. Either Consumer Science or Family Science is the nom de jour. As for shop, there has been some decent research that engineers who had shop classes, the kind where they actually built things, have better understandings of how things work. And, no, CAD is not the same thing. Lots of things work on a computer screen that don't work out here in the real world.

Regarding numbers - VIII Mile? L VII? V VI? I-X? I L's? All I'm saying is it could be worse.

mac 9:43 AM  

Very nice puzzle, I liked "What the…." best, can imagine a couple of people saying it.

I had c'est magnifique, too. Paula Gamache must be on leave, she would have caught it.

I had done both puzzles last week, so now what am I going to do? Fireball!

Word Woman 9:51 AM  

Say now, if you're using Peyton Manning to illustrate this puzzle, the sound a quarterback makes is not HUTS but OMAHAS.

Miss out on a board for WAHINE was fun.

-Mile High (5280') Club member-

shari 10:04 AM  

Never came across L7. Guess that makes me one? Great puzzle!

Unknown 10:09 AM  

@AliasZ wow. I'm no English professor (I think I know where to find one) but your EPOS deserves to be immortalized on it's own URN.

@Z thanks for the kind words. Crosswords are more connotative than denotative, as the zenith/APOGEE discussion showed yesterday. When a clue reads "a group that no one on earth has ever joined" I should not think of zero-human-member clubs, which I was doing. Indeed, I worked with MILEdIVeCLUB for a half hour, since no one ever dove a mile. I just needed to negate the denotative in order to stop rejecting the connotative. Silly me.

What happened to the numerical captcha!?

quilter1 10:22 AM  

I also had c'est before TRES. I really enjoyed doing this one and liked figuring out the clues.

My uncle, back in the 50's and 60's taught a high school class where the class would completely redo an entire house, so they learned construction, electricity, plumbing and finishing. Then the house would be sold to help pay for next year's house and benefit the school. I always thought that was pretty neat. One year they built a new house. Those guys graduated with valuable skills and, knowing my uncle, great work ethic and values. He is now 91, lives on his own in a house he built himself and still does his own yardwork. They made 'em tough back when.

Jisvan 10:33 AM  

@AliasZ: you made me choke on my tea with that last stanza. Thank you! Did you have the extra week to compose your paean, or did you just dash it off last night? Fabulous Freaky Friday, all.

r.alphbunker 10:53 AM  

@Alias Z

Wow! Is that grapping (portmanteau of grid and rap)? Could you grap about crosswordese?

Had a peak performance moment on this puzzle. Downloaded it at night and wrote in INCASH, AYERS and AOK and then nothing.

The grid looked like a T-shirt I once saw that displayed a drawing of a conference for people with non-dysfunctional families. It showed a large auditorium with only a handful of people distributed randomly about.

So I went to bed. In the morning I looked at the puzzle again and filled in most of the NW corner as fast as a could type. This must be what it is like to be one of the 10 people on earth who actually have a chance of winning the ACPT.

I left the zone behind after that but still had the momentum and finished with confidence and flair.

It is very tempting to give the constructor some of the credit for this experience so I will. Thanks Ian.

BTW, I first learned about the MILE HIGH CLUB in this BEQ puzzle which I strongly recommend that you look at.
Flight connection (PDF)
Flight connection (PUZ)
The Amy Reynaldo writeup is here

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

Can someone explain how TINE relates to "Stick with it"? I am saying the clue every possible way that I can and can't figure it out.

Milford 10:57 AM  

This puzzle played easy on the east, and much trickier on the west. WAHINE was definitely a new word, and it took me longer than it should have to get MILE-HIGH CLUB (I kept thinking that the M was a lead-in to Martian or the like).

Liked all the spoken phrases throughout, especially WHAT THE?

@Z - our schools call the equivalent of HOME-EC class "21stCentury Skills" and shop class is called "Technology Applications" and put a big push on pre-engineering (not unexpected here in metro Detroit). But they definitely learn how to use shop tools and have to build a rubber-band car.

Evan 11:00 AM  

I had some strange trouble with this early on -- strange, because I'm usually on Ian's wavelength and don't take too long on his themeless puzzles. What really got me rolling? MILE HIGH CLUB. Laughed out loud at that one when I got it.

This is the second time this week that LOON was my first guess, only for it to be KOOK (Todd Gross's Tuesday puzzle being the other). And the only song I know with the lyrics "Big wheel keep on turnin'" is "Sweet Home Alabama." Couldn't get that earworm out of my head while solving, though I got PROUD MARY all the same.

The grid isn't that Scrabbly outside of 4 K's. No problem here at all. I always say, go for smooth over Scrabbly -- though if you can do both, cool.

Nicely done, Ian.

@Anonymous 10:55:

You stick someone (i.e. stab someone) with a sharp TINE.

ulysses 11:01 AM  

when i did this last week, i thought it was great. today's (your last week's) was a lot tougher but definitely well done. yay! two good fridays in a row.

as for MILE HIGH CLUB, i am happy it was included but was a bit surprised. that opens the door up to a lot more risque fill, in my opinion.

Evan 11:01 AM  

Or better yet, stab something rather than someone. My brain is on demented mode, apparently.

Steve J 11:17 AM  

Interesting reading over at XWordinfo that the clue fro MILE-HIGH CLUB was Will's not Ian's. Some of the other clues Will says he thought about but decided he couldn't use for the NYT's general audience were pretty funny as well. Although I think the one used is ultimately best, since it carries two levels of meaning (in a plane - just being in Denver isn't enough - and the fact that it's largely myth, certainly on commercial aircraft).

@Anon 10.55: To add to @Evan's explanation, the prongs on a fork are called TINEs. As he said, you stick something, like a piece of meat, with it.

(The confusion illustrates why I don't like imperative clues; I feel they break the rule that you need to be able to swap clue and answer in a sentence. When you switch from descriptive to imperative, you can't do that. To wit: "That fork has a broken stick-with-it" doesn't really work. But I'm tilting at windmills with criticizing that clue type, as it's established and accepted.)

Loren Muse Smith 11:24 AM  

@Steve J - fair enough on the clue for TINE.

I call dibs on *not* sitting next to @Evan at any meal in NYC! Yipes! It's all fun and games until someone gets stabbed with a fork. . .

r.alphbunker 11:48 AM  

The abbreviation of tines is tns.

Sandy K 11:50 AM  

Thanks @Rex for the link to last week's puzzle...I waited til now to see how WAHINE, SPEEDOS, TOKES and MILE-HIGH CLUB would MAKE OUT in the comments.

As for the Kevin G. Der puzzle, I thought of @Acme at OPEN MIKE, but isn't it MIC not MIKE?

Enjoyed both puzzles!!

Amethyst 12:48 PM  

I had GROUP CENSURE for PEER PRESSURE at the start... Both work!

Lewis 1:03 PM  

I loved the clues for WAHINE and RIPEN and others were fun as well -- this was quite entertaining. My slowest area was SW. Good workout for me -- thanks, Ian!

LaneB 1:08 PM  

Anybody know how to confirm the answers to the puzzle that appeared in the print NYT version? I can't be the only one who tried to solve it. The constructor appearing on the print version also appears to be Kevin Der, but I'm not sure it is.

Anyway, I found the print version difficult [but then I find most of the later week puzzles difficult]. It would be nice to know where I made my mistakes.

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

@LaneB - Rex gave you a link in his writeup ("Go Here") to the Kevin Der puzzle. Right up front.

LaneB 1:42 PM  

@ Anonymous
Many thanks. I completely missed the link. Much as I completely failed to solve the print version. In the NW corner, I started with a1 beach instead of SHORE and filled for d3 audition instead of OPENMIKE. Imagine what that did for the rest of the puzzle!. But I did manage to do most of the eastern half of the damned thing.
Mr. Der is starting to fall into the Steinberg and Chen category of constructors. Not good for us rookie solvers.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 3:04 PM  

@r.alph: har, re tns.

Both the Der and Livengood puzs were professionally done. themelessthUmbsUps.

On a lesser note, the Lower Mongolia printed crossword was a heart-shaped themeless with Four Grid Spanners:


Two Ponies 3:05 PM  

Since I got this puzzle last week I've been waiting to see if all of you loved like I did. I also was wondering how the mix-up would be managed in my dead tree version. Thankfully I got the Kevin Der grid today so I didn't miss out on any Friday fun. I enjoyed them both.

Numinous 3:12 PM  

I thought this was a little more difficult than Kevin Der's puzzle from last Friday though I seem to have finished it in less time than I did Kevin's. I thought ARCTIC a very apt opening considering the weather we seem to be having in the eastern half of the country.

@Steve J, American crosswords used to be about synonyms exclusively. When I lived in England, I discovered cryptic puzzles and thought they were TRES magnifique; much more interesting than American ones. I think it's wonderful that our puzzles have moved beyond synonyms and require thought beyond the inner thesaurus.

@wreck, most MILEHIGH members achieved that status at closer to six MILEs HIGH, I know a few who have done it. In Atlanta there used to be a company that provided an opportunity to join the MILEHIGHCLUB.

@Steve J, there was a time when American crosswords were almost exclusively synonyms. I discovered cryptics when I lived in London and while they were very hard for me and I DNF'd a lot, when I came home I found ours boring. I think it's terrific that we have moved along to clues that make us think beyond our inner thesaurus.

When I was 13, I was a member of the Junior Civil Air Patrol. Among other things, we had a drill team which marched in parades and stuff. I never heard HEP. "Hup, ho, hee, haw," often but never "HEP". "Yo lep...yo lep...Yo lep, yo rye, yo lep."

@Danp, I lived for a while in downtown Los Angeles (hey, the rent was cheap). Often, when walking the street I'd come across a Chicano trying to sell drugs. Invariably the greeting was, "Sup, man?"

I thought it was great finding TOKES considering the up-coming Smoke-A-Bowl in New Jersey.

I just don't see abridged as being CONCISE. I see it more as being defiled. CONCISE is something I find difficult to be. I wrote a paper for a Psych class (I went back to college for a while in my late 40s), the subject of which had to do with ourselves. I don't recall the exact topic but it was our first assignment and no length was stipulated. The day it was due, the main topic of conversation before class was, "How long is your paper?" three, five, seven pages were common answers. When I was asked, my answer was, "Twenty two." After class, a young student asked the instructor about the comparison between the lengths of his paper and mine. The instructor replied, "Maybe he has more to say."

I liked this one a lot. Thank you, Ian. Looking forward to more.

Numinous 3:15 PM  

Sorry about the double @Steve J, I should read back up after a router crash.

Z 3:49 PM  

@Masked and Anonymo5Us - Don't encourage @r.alphbunker (re:tns). Also, I wonder if Mile High Club initiates ululate or play the lute. Personally, I was shocked when semi-magnificent Z didn't fit at 3D. It took one reveal clue and longer than Ian's to solve, so you are definitely ready for Saturday.

Rob C 3:51 PM  

Easy-Med Friday for me. All the good fill everyone else pointed out. I thought WHAT THE was good too (didn't see anyone single that out).

Fantastic cluing. I wonder what % of the clues were Ian's? I would imagine a higher % than average are his and not Will's.

One nit. 39D SPEEDOS might or might not be short. Tight -yes.

24D originally had Meet ME for MISS ME.

On to Saturday. Stay warm.

M and Also 4:44 PM  

@Z: U are clearly back to full magnificence.
SatKidiPuz would need another grid spanner; scares the M&A...
Maybe @muse'll make that one for us.


retired_chemist 4:56 PM  

Fun fun fun ('til daddy took the T-bird away).

Overall I thought this was medium.

Finished, with a substantial slowdown in the SW. HEPS is a WTF - had rEPS. Then rEI_ became rEIt (for Real Estate Investment Trust), which certainly sounds trustworthy. This made 27D ESCAPE tOAD, certainly an interesting safety feature even though obviously wrong.

hwyS for RTES, then Nissan ROdeo (is that even a car?) instead of ROGUE. The rest filled in srtaightforwardly although L SEVEN threw me for a bit.

Thanks, Mr. Livengood.

Loren Muse Smith 5:40 PM  

@Z and @M&A – I have a great MILE HIGH CLUB/ululating lute story. . .

Great grid! A, Uh, heart on top of the shoUt oUt to my beloved Heels. YA know, @M&A – yoU're showing a lot of promise as a constrUctor. Hang in there, kiddo. YoU're ready for Fridays and SatUrdays. I'm not there yet. BUt, hey, I just finished a 4x4 grid with eight -coUnt'em- eight grid spanners. (Alas, nary a U, though.) If I had the secret spy-code-log-in-User access, I could post it at XWord Info, too.

Last Silver Bull Woot 5:52 PM  

@muse -- schultz, for 4x4 grid, just send the clues in a comment, and tell us where the black squares don't go.

Can't wait on the MHC ululute story. Did I ever tell y'all my monkey joke?

Forgetful M & A

GILL I. 7:49 PM  

This took about four sittings in my comfy chair before I could finish. I didn't want to give up though because WHOSE THAT WHAT THE and HOW ARE YA kept me from throwing in the towel.
No TRES in this family - just the lowly cest which really drove me up the wall - along with jadE instead of LIME.
MILE HIGH CLUB took just as long to finally get.
One of my bosses (he's no longer with us) used to boast to anyone who cared that he was the founding member. Yuck yuck...
A priest and a monkey walk into a bar.......

sanfranman59 10:06 PM  

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

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

Mon no data
Tue 8:46, 8:15, 1.06, 67%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 10:46, 10:26, 1.03, 60%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 21:31, 19:03, 1.13, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 18:37, 19:52, 0.94, 38%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon no data
Tue 5:37, 5:12, 1.08, 68%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 7:09, 6:12, 1.15, 85%, Challenging
Thu 14:12, 10:36, 1.34, 85%, Challenging
Fri 11:04, 11:32, 0.96, 41%, Medium

Loren Muse Smith 9:56 AM  

Here are the clues for my 4x4. I took as many pages out of your "Ope opener?" style as possible. U cluing mentor, U

1A ine lead-in?
4A Idit _____
5A ____dictine and Brandy
6A Center of venison steak ?

1D Drink them and then wisely hail them
2D A golden one is superior to the original. If you ask me.
3D The very crux of the French Connection?
4D ____te fidelis

DSSinDC 10:14 AM  

An unusual DNF for me. Couldn't grok TINE. It's a tough clue, and even tougher crossing WAHINE, which I've never even remotely heard of.

The SW corner was the other set of blank spots. Had tiPS then rEPS for "Drill bit?" (HEPS), and AlEe for ASEA, and dSL for USB.

ESPOUSE shows up with relative frequency, but ESPOUSED is apparently seen in 20-year intervals.

Like the puzzle overall. It treads the line between tough-but-fair and ambiguously clued, though.

spacecraft 2:32 PM  

Cluing almost did me in on this one. I mean, drill bits are rEPS, no? And my golf lesson was all about my STrokE, for which I paid INkind! More troubles with the 7d question "Beg pardon?" I quite naturally put in WHATsay. IMHO, the answer WHATTHE...is not how anyone would convey "Beg Pardon?". In fact, that clue is more than misleading. It is WRONG. Here it comes; TWEEE! Flag on the field! LSEVEN yards for a clue that nearly SMOTE me!

I can recall taking TOKES INORDERTO enjoy PROUDMARY even more. Ah, those were the days. AMENAMEN! So, despite the sometimes-cruel cluing, I liked it.

Full, 8's over 5's.

Anonymous 7:41 PM  

From syndiland - the Chicago Sun Times printed the right clues with the wrong grid. I had to solve it patternless. No problem with htis puzzle, most Fridays would be impossible for me.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

Put me in the pro column. I liked the puzzle, with no complaints. I don't quite get the Lseven clue but that's OK. Thanks, Mr. Livengood.

Ron Diego 2/28/14

Solving in Seattle 1:50 PM  

What @Spacy said, and HOWAREYA?

@Ron Diego, I don't get LSEVEN either. Anyone?

6D IRES me. Constructors, just STOPIT!

I'm taking the 5th on 26A.

SANDBAGS is ironic on a day that Southern California is shoring up against mudslides. Fortunately my daughter is in flat L.A.

Ian and Will, this puz has, for the most part, great clues. Thanks to both.

Syndyland may not see @SiS for a couple of weeks. Going to check out WAHINEs.

Steve J 2:02 PM  

@Solving in Seattle and @Ron Diego: When L7 are close together, they approximate a square shape. Particularly when you form it with your index fingers and thumbs on both hands (unfortunately I can't find a good picture). It was at one time as kind of alternate slang for calling someone a square.

Incidentally, a few weeks back I was looking something up from a past puzzle, and I discovered the regular commentators from Syndiland. I poke my head in from time to time just to see what you guys say about a puzzle. Very cool to see an interesting, fun group of commentators popping up five weeks later.

Z 2:04 PM  

L SEVEN - Form an L with your left hand and a 7 with your right hand. Bring your thumbs and pointers together and you'll get something approximating a square, AKA a loser. Yeah - having worked in a middle school helped.

Five deuces - do I win?

Solving in Seattle 2:30 PM  

@Steve J, nice to see you Real Timers visit us occasionally. @Z is a regular drop in. Thanks both for enlightening Ron and me.

A Rabbi and his monkey walk in to a bar...

DMG 2:54 PM  

Stumbled around quite a bit before arriving at a finished puzzle with a bunch of ?? in the margins. But it turns out mine was a successful slog! Along the way I had to give up cest and HuPS, and learned that SITARS, which I consider Asian, are strummed with what sounds to me like a Jewish device. Never heard the L7 thing, and can't seem to contort my hands into the described square. Still, i enjoyed this one as I sit listening to the wind and rain, rain, beautiful rain! This storm promises to be a whopper relative to our usually reported .01 inch of precipitation, and we and our plants are grateful!

@Z, my four 8's look good, but you win!

Waxy in Montreal 3:57 PM  

I'm from that teenage generation that thought it was the epitome of coolness to form a square with your hands as per the clue - but I hadn't heard of the L7 description either. And in that same sexist era, HOMEEC wasn't a shop alternative - it's what the girls took while the boys did shop - no choice involved.

This Friday puzzle was très magnifique, with challenging, clever clues but certainly very doable. After trying to fit some type of Martian Club into 26A, LOL'ed when MILEHIGHCLUB finally flew into sight. AMEMAMEN!

Dirigonzo 4:07 PM  

With the incorrect saywhat? in place of WHATTHE? and the correct AYERS (as a gimme which I learned right here) my emphatic approval was yessiree! That took some straightening out. Also it took far too long to remember PROUD MARY even though I was able to hum the tune and remember most of the lyrics. But ultimately 2 thumbs up.

Apparently this is not a good day to draw a 6-high straight. Can we trust that card shark from out of town with five deuces, I wonder?

TimJim 6:02 PM  

Loved the clung. Got but never heard of l seven, tres manifique is not right and Sup should have had an apostrophe ('Sup). But those are nits overall, wonderful!

Z 6:22 PM  

@Dirigonzo - after my first real-time post today I've gotten nothing but blurry words even after refreshing. Here in Syndiland I'm still getting numbers. Maybe I'll just post here if this keeps up. Only fives over nines this time, I'm keeping my five deuces from earlier.

Dirigonzo 7:25 PM  

@Z - you know you are always welcome at the table; the pot never amounts to much but it's nice to have your company.

@TimJim - I had to look twice, but the apostrophe was there in my paper. You're right, though - if it's missing it definitely changes the meaning of the clue!

Mary in Oregon 11:05 PM  

@Carola - I wondered if any schools today still offer shop and HOME EC. Around here they became industrial arts and human ecology (WHAT THE?).

My 15 year-old granddaughter has a cooking class. It's called "Culinary"! How's that for high-falutin'?

Anonymous 11:33 PM  

Here in Syndieland, I first saw these clues last Friday when my newspaper printed them accompanying the wrong grid.

Funny, the puzzle is a lot easier when you actually have the correct grid in front of you.

Ginger 12:31 AM  

Late to the party, in fact late all week. As a pilot I have to comment on the MILEHIGHCLUB. Not a good idea, especially if you are the pilot. There are 2 things that require 100% attention. One of them is flying...

@SIS Drink a Mai Tai for all your jealous friends in Syndiland.

Unknown 2:46 PM  

When I called the News Press corrections editor and said this puzzle was a repeat. He said I was the only person in Lee County FL that had reported it. What's up with that? We should all get an extra puzzle next week.

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