Adrien of cosmetics / FRI 2-14-14 / Fate personified in mythology / 1970s NBC courtroom drama / Skateboarding trick used to leap over obstacles / Fictional island with small population / Valuable chess piece to Juan Carlos / Yamaguchi's 1992 Olympics rival / Phrase from Virgil appropriate for Valentine's Day

Friday, February 14, 2014

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: love, I guess, kinda (themeless, though, mostly)

Word of the Day: LAKE POET (32A: Wordsworth or Coleridge) —
The Lake Poets are a group of English poets who all lived in the Lake District of England at the turn of the nineteenth century. As a group, they followed no single "school" of thought or literary practice then known. They were named, only to be uniformly disparaged, by the Edinburgh Review. They are considered part of the Romantic Movement.
The three main figures of what has become known as the Lakes School are William WordsworthSamuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Southey. They were associated with several other poets and writers, including Dorothy WordsworthCharles LloydHartley ColeridgeJohn Wilson, and Thomas De Quincey.
The beauty of the Lake District has also inspired many other poets over the years, beyond the core Lake Poets. These include James PaynBryan ProcterFelicia HemansWalter Scott and Norman Nicholson. (wikipedia)
• • •

This one lost me before I ever got out of the first turn. I was literally grimacing and saying "ouch," repeatedly, as I worked on that NW corner, and though things improved a tad once I got out of there, the puzzle never won be back after that. I felt like Jeremy Abbott, who crashed *hard*, early, and then somehow got up and finished, except his finish was triumphant, and mine was just ordinary, and actually I didn't *crash* at all—it just felt that way. So maybe the analogy isn't the aptest, but I just watched that performance, so it's the only analogy I've got handy at the moment.

ARPEL REINA MANED is a really cruddy opening triad, especially crossed with ENE and LADY'S. What the hell is up with the clue on that, anyway. I know that ladyfingers are a kind of cookie that you find in tiramisu. What is a LADY'S finger? Beyond the obvious, i.e. the finger of a lady. Apparently okra (!) is sometimes known as "ladies' fingers" … what the hell kind of ladies have fingers like okra? Ugh, as you can see, there are layers and layers of problems here (not unlike the layers of ladyfingers in tiramisu … but I digress). ABRA MOIRA just piled on the terrible until I finally escaped into the much more tolerable puzzle-center. Still, though, I was getting dreck from all sides. The two central crosses (POPS THE QUESTION / LOVE CONQUERS ALL) are fine, and holiday-appropriate, and who doesn't love a center-Q, but good fill was pretty patchy otherwise. A single PIN STRIPE? RUE RAE RAH? ITA ITO? The long stuff stretching from the NE to the center and then down to the SW corner—all that is pretty good, actually. But the bad start in the NW and the mediocrity of the shorter stuff kept this on a somewhat less than successful plane for me.

If, somehow, there is an honest-to-god marriage proposal encoded in this thing somewhere, then I take back all the criticism and wish the happy couple well.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. the central crossing appears to have been ripped off from a 20-year-old Manny Nosowsky puzzle. Replicating a single answer?—that happens all the time. Replicating a central 15-letter crossing?—not so much.


wreck 12:08 AM  

I made a dent around the middle and hit in spots throughout the puzzle. It wasn't fun, and I had no desire to google and spend an hour finishing it. I went to the BEQ puzzle where I at least have a great time.

John Child 12:17 AM  

This took me a loong time, and I wished at the end that I had gone to google or just given up instead.

The pinwheel grid is lovely though.

Steve J 12:26 AM  

Didn't dislike it as much as others did, but this was definitely more on the slog side of the spectrum to me. Not a lot of zip or fun.

Did like the clues for LILLIPUT and LOITERING, but beyond that there wasn't much of the fun/cleverness that marks a good themeless.

Many writeovers for me: "go outside" instead of READ A BOOK, "keep at it" instead of KEEP IT UP, "good idea" instead of NEAT IDEA, "romantic" instead of LAKE POET (figured it was theme-appropriate, and they were in fact part of the Romantic period).

Could not make headway in the NE to save my life. Lots of googling up there, but otherwise I was able to slowly pick away at this.

jae 12:31 AM  

Easy-medium for me leaning more towards easy.   Only erasure was Tease before TAUNT.  Nice little mini-theme.   I have grandkids so RAE and OLLIE were gimmes, which helped.  NUTSy might have worked? 

Mini military theme: ARMY CAMP, ON PATROL, APO

Liked it more than Rex seemed to,  but I still don't get @Rex LADYS Finger?

Stephen grant 12:38 AM  

Isn't ARSENE a thief and not a TEC?

Clark 12:41 AM  

I liked this one ok, found it easier than the usual Friday, but I DNFed in the end because I put in LATE POET for Wordsworth or Coleridge, and it didn't occur to me to question that 'T'. Somewhere in my memory banks is the phrase "Lake Poet," but it won't behave. I think that's because Lake Poet sounds to me like we're talking about upstate New York, which just doesn't compute when it comes to Coleridge. But I bet it will register from now on.

Anonymous 12:57 AM  

If I'm reading this grid right, it
looks like Fatso the Oil Tycoon
is proposing to Moira.
Yes, there is a marriage proposal
in there.

retired_chemist 1:00 AM  

Well, if you out the Virgil quote in Latin (Amor vincit omnia) it fits. ON PATROL still works. However it also misleads, cf. 35D pouTS. Did want POPS THE QUESTION,which didn't fit with the Latin, and it eventually won out.

LA LAW for 18A, OVate for 47D, EternalLY, and others (e.g. Tease for TAUNT à la jae) provided speed bumps. But overall I enjoyed it despite LADY'S finger and the MOIRA/ARSENE sorta-Natick.

Thanks, Mr. Haight. Do you know someone named Ashbury to collaborate with?

Unknown 2:22 AM  

2:05. 10 googles + 4 cheats I went 50 minutes before first google and got 1/3 of the way with only a couple confident crosses, which turned out to be wrong

Rabbit holes
NOM de Guerre before CRI (wha?)

I tried hard to make each wrong turn work.

Genuine Naricks:

OLLIE ?? crossing YERTLE ??
ITO ?? crossing EASTON ??
THEDA ?? crossing RAH ??
RAE ? crossing RUE?. Could have been ANN crossing AVE

Too much pounding to learn that TONGA is a friendly lpace. Not worth the effort.

Clark 2:36 AM  

@cascokid san -- I love reading your posts. I hope you realize that you are describing the kind of learning process that many if not most of the commenters here went through at some point. Keep at it.

I skip M-W 3:30 AM  

Despite all the questionable definitions, such as 23A, I rather enjoyed this romp.. Somehow remembered Ito, and Sussex out Easton, after trying Boston, though I was pretty sure no such college there. Obviously, if this is proposal, it's a neat idea. They'll stay together endlessly, and at the wedding one of them will wear pinstripes, seeing the other as his or her lodestone, read a book about yertle the turtle to their kids, etc. that's assuming the proposal is accepted. If not, iit's all pretty nut so, or the puzzler's on LSD.

I skip..... 3:34 AM  

That's sussed, not Sussex, a proposal, and nutso. I blame autocorrect.

jae 3:40 AM  

@r_c - Thought of LA LAW but I was a fan of the show and was pretty sure it was on during the late '80s and not the '70s because I didn't watch much TV before the VCR came on the scene. The past gets a tad blurry after a while.

@casco - TONGA was also a gimme because my sister and brother-in-law did a Peace Corps stint there in the '70s. Sometimes you just get lucky.

JTHurst 5:23 AM  

Tough one for us Mon thru Wed group. When the clues are of the type: Home of Lafayette College, Fictional Island with small pop., Yamaguchi 92 rival, etc. and number more than 15% of the clues, I know, for me, it will be "utter" drudgery. My cri de guerre is WHY!! The only clue I really liked was Lupin of fiction. The first detective in fiction. Can someone tell me where 'tec' comes from as I read an inordinate amount of crime noir novels and have never encountered the term outside of crossword puzzles.

George Barany 5:30 AM  

I don't think you often see two spanning Quasi-theme entries crossing at a Q. When a momentous anniversary or holiday falls on a Friday, it's always a challenge to come up with a suitable puzzle, so kudos to Bruce Haight for this offering.

If I may change the subject, somewhat, I do hope that regular visitors to this blog will love Charles Deber's All You Need is Love, which is a Sunday-size grid and has a big circled heart in it. Definitely suitable for today, just as five days ago (a Sunday), Charles helped us remember the Beatles with a guitar in his grid.

Doris 6:08 AM  

@Stephen Grant: You're right, except that Arsène Lupin is, like the later Raffles, a gentleman thief who helps out on the side of the law. I always mix him up with Poe's C. Auguste Dupin, of an earlier era, who is, actually, an amateur "tec." I guess it's those French names.

CBCD 7:49 AM  

Arsene Lupin leaves a card behind, which reads 'Arsene Lupin - Gentleman Burgler' or 'Gentleman Thief' depending on the translation.

I thereby declare he is not a 'TEC' but a thief who helps TECs.

... She said, stomping off to sulk ...

Glimmerglass 7:54 AM  

@jae notwithstanding, I have a hard time seeing how @Rex can point out all the difficulties with this puzzle and then rate it easy-medium. I didn't much like it, but it wasn't easy at all. Usually I prefer hard puzzles, especially if I eventually prevail (as I did today), but I had all the same experiences Rex had and just grumbled about them.

Unknown 8:12 AM  

Yeah, not much fun. Kind of blown away by LADYS fingers and Rex's research and okra.

These days, all I do is STAY COOL. Someone, please, turn the sun up a few degrees!

Oh, and cute Valentine's Day Captchas <3

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

I hate it when the Times diverges from the usual level of difficulty or quality on a Friday or Saturday because it is a special day of some kind. I know that a special puzzle seems appropriate in some sense, but I look forward to my twice weekly crossword challenge here and will go presumably only half-satisfied this week.

joho 8:51 AM  

I had hoRTon before YERTLE and like @jae, Tease before TAUNT. Other than that it was easy going for a Friday.


"NUTSO, meet FATSO."

I thought it would be STAYwelL.

@retired_chemist, I was thinking the same thing about Haight Ashbury. Bruce did manage to fit LSD into the grid!

Nice to have a Valentine's theme on Valentine's Day!

jberg 8:53 AM  

Me too for confusing Lupin with Dupin, but since all I needed to know was the first name, sans accents, that was no problem. TEC is always a problem aesthetically, especially when cued as French, but it had to be.

I enjoyed this one because of the fun of writing in the obvious answers that were all wrong -- like the irons/in sum crossing at 9 a and d, dead POET before LAKE, EternallY before ENDLESSLY, nOrns before MOIRA (whom I've never heard of), Horton before YERTLE (though I didn't write that one in) and of course the central Q crossing and all the love entries. All legitimate and clever misdirections, so I liked it.

And LSD! And Rocky Raccoon's cousin OILTY!

Hardest part for me was accepting that Lafayette College was in EASTON. Stonehill College is in Easton, a town that's not big enough for the two of them -- which must be why half the town picked up and moved to Pennsylvania.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. We're celebrating with a weekend away, so I may not be back until Monday.

Hobbyist 8:58 AM  

I'm with anon@8:37 am. I am not a speed solver but want some mental exercise at least. Finished all too quickly.

A Nonni Nonny 9:11 AM  

Parts were easy, parts were hard.
And a few parts were inexcusable: LADYS fingers? Nope. NYET. Nein. Nunca!
Nor is okra called 'ladies' fingers' (and I live in a place where okra is more common than mashed potatoes.)

NE was my last area. Resisted TEC as long as possible (HATE it), had BOSTON for the longest, and ETERNALLY was taken out with the greatest reluctance. Pooh.

Still, I finished without resorting to outside help (the cat is a bad speller, anyway) so it's a good day AND above freezing!

Unknown 9:18 AM  

Meh. I agree with Rex. LADYS finger is, nothing. Meaningless. Maybe the author was caught up in the Valentine thing and figured we would catche the 'ring on a LADYS finger' connection? Maybe?

Love the clue for ESSO. Also liked RAH. Thank goodness I grew up in eastern Pa or I would have said 'Where in the Hades is Lafayette College?!' But I didn't. :)

Nancy 9:54 AM  

Hated LADYS, but still solved that section. The SE killed me. I had Ovate for OVOID, Nutsy for NUTSO, Yertel for YERTLE and Nom for CRI. Any wonder I DNF?

Carola 10:18 AM  

A l❤vely Valentines Day treat, I thought. I was quite at sea in the top tier, but gained a foothold with LAKE POET and LOVE CONQUERS all, enjoyed the ramble from LILLIPUT over to TONGA, then hopscotched back up and finished at the ARMY CAMP.


chefbea 10:20 AM  

Easy for a Friday but DNF. Nice to have a theme on Friday. LOVed the clue for esso. Had heir at first.

Hand up for not understanding Ladys.

Mohair Sam 10:38 AM  

Enjoyed the cluing here a lot. ESSO, LILLIPUT, and YOKEL clues were particularly good. DNF second day in a row. Refused to believe LADYS finger (and we eat okra here) was correct and the YOKEL clue was just too clever for us.

Disagree with @Rex on the LOVECONQUERSALL use. Once every couple of decades for Valentine's Day isn't abusing the term.

btw - Crossing two 15's on a "Q" with no apparent scrabble f---ing seems pretty impressive.

mac 10:39 AM  

Easy Friday, with the only write-over "eternally" at 12D. Fatso and esso put me right.

The NYT editors must feel 20 years is enough of an interval to repeat the main entries. Nice words: loitering, guest star, pinstripe, puppetry and lake poet.

Too quick but good puzzle.

Steve J 10:43 AM  

How many options are there for crossing 15s and making them Valentine's themed? I'm guessing not many. While it's one hell of a coincidence, I don't think it's automatic that the idea was stolen.

If it was literally stolen - which is a pretty stiff accusation - then that's indeed a problem. If it's a startling coincidence, I think 20 years is enough lapsed time to repeat a trick.

Z 10:45 AM  

@jberg - your deadPOET beats my malePOET for best wrong answer of the day. We should start a society.

I knew Susan Dey was a lawyer in the 80's and a Partridge in the 70's, so I avoided that rabbit hole. But I did the rest, irons, in sum, tease. THE DA was a WOE for me. Of the four THEDA options I'm looking forward to THEDA Ukena making an appearance, East Frisian Regents are my specialty.

Challenging here,

Two Ponies 10:49 AM  

This was a real roller coaster ride of grins and groans.
Did not like seeing nutso and fatso in the same puzzle.

Kiss your sweetie today!

Hey, my captcha is sweet valentine!

Z 10:51 AM  

POPS THE QUESTION/LOVE CONQUERS ALL sharing a Q in the eighth position is the kind of thing constructors might notice. Using Occam's razor, coincidence is by far the simplest answer.

OISK 11:08 AM  

Timely, of suitable difficulty, no rock-pop trivia, what's not to love? Valentines from me to Mr. Haight, a love-Haight relationship I guess.

Didn't know "tun," but Googled it AFTER I finished the puzzle - 252 gallons, apparently.

I have been to Tonga, and the Lake district, so no problems for me there. I don't see why Rex objects to Arpel, when he tolerates sneaker brand names, Reina made sense even though I don't know Spanish, and I have heard of the dessert called Lady's Finger, more often, but not always called Ladyfinger.

I did not get to comment on the wonderful, brilliant puzzle that appeared yesterday, by Daniel Landman. This evaluation is unrelated to the fact that I taught him chemistry...

Bob Kerfuffle 11:11 AM  

I have not received my NY Times yet today, and I have not done the puzzle, I have also not read any of the comments. (How did I get to the comment posting box? By navigating the site with my glasses off - couldn't read a word of it if I wanted to.)

But since it is Valentine's Day, I just want to direct anyone looking for a Valentine's Day/Beatles-themed puzzle to Neville Fogarty's weekly puzzle.

How difficult? I did it, so it can't be too hard!

chefbea 11:13 AM  

My captcha is LOVE with a teddy bear

Richard 11:17 AM  

Relevant to the question of whether the two long entries were taken from a 94 Nosowsky puzzle is the constructor's reference at WP of MN being an inspiration of his. This seems to increase the probability that the correspondence between these two puzzles is not a coincidence.

Questinia 11:20 AM  

I'm with @ Carola.
Also, It may have been an easy puzzle and quibble all you want to about LADYS etc... but the baseline message that LOVE CONQUERS ALL makes it all OK for me. Although I agree with @ retired chemist that amor vincit omnia would have been superb.

DSinDC 11:57 AM  

A big ol' DNF, thanks to the mess in the NW. Got everything but the mess in the NW.

Argh on the ARSENE MOIRA cross, and hate LADYS finger -- though now I know more about okra, that's a plus!

On the positive side, OPA was a new learning experience, a welcome bit of unusual/unknown (to me) 3-letter fill.

Does anyone else think "Building material?" is a terrible clue for SPECS? I get it (from "specifications") but really?

Rex Parker 12:18 PM  

Occam wants his razor back because you are fucking it up.


Lewis 12:23 PM  

I kept thinking of THEDA as a single word, like a woman's first name. It just hit me what it actually is!

I liked the clues for OILTYCOON and PUPPETRY.

I like the ARMYCAMP URGES right over KEEPITUP.

Do not like TUN, CRI, YDS, and EPI. LADYS finger appears to be a real thing, so I see it as a learning opportunity.

Dick Swart 12:25 PM  

Disappointing for a Valentine's Day special.

No fun! Just work.

Z 12:30 PM  

He can't have it, I'm using it. Besides, I'm always very careful with sharp objects.

Notsofast 12:48 PM  

Not crazy about this puzzle. NUTSO is weird, but LADYSfinger is unforgivable. OP- crossing -PO and MOI-A crossing A-SENE are naticks. And GUESTSTAR????? But I liked YERTLE. And on second thought, NUTSO ESSO FATSO is nice.

Masked and Amornonymo8Us 1:09 PM  

@4-Oh... Yeah, but anyone who's got a last name of Haight is probably entitled to reuse a LOVECONQUERSALL entry on V-Day...

And no use CRI-in over POPPED QUESTIONS.

OPA/APO! har. Primo.

Manny! REMEET?(!)

La Times: Possible Fink U Freeky nominee...

Happy Naveltines, everybody!


Ludyjynn 1:21 PM  

My delivery guy finally made it through today w/ both Th. and Fri. papers, so I had a great excuse to put off shoveling (again) this morning and puzzle solve both, instead. Found Th. a fun romp, much like the themed film, which brings back fond memories of old-school '60s movie-going w/ the whole family in tow, affordable then!

Fr. was a tougher nut, but did crack it eventually, using my favorite technique of walking away and returning w/ fresh eyes. NE corner fell last, but not least.

Bribed the teen next door to do the re-shoveling and am good to go, Happy VD, all!

Bird 1:25 PM  

Let's see . . .
- Vague clues
- Obscure clues
- Not enough crap in my brain



Happy Valentine's Day

@chefbea - I couldn't read the the captcha so I refreshed and got Valentine and hearts

okanaganer 1:36 PM  

The last answer to fall for me was TEENS for "cold forecast". Because, see, the last few days here have brought record warmth: temperatures in the mid teens. (That's warm for Canada, and teens in Celsius).

Reminder to self: think in Fahrenheit when doing NYT puzzle!!

Jackie 2:00 PM  

Ugh ugh ugh. Betrayed my own Midwestern, non-urban origins by putting GOOUTSIDE for 14A, instead of READABOOK. Oops! Then, having gotten RAH right away, I confidently put IRONS at 9A. Oops again.

Having VAT at 55D also kind of screwed up that SW corner for a while, but it was easier to get out of.

I am proud to have gotten OLLIE and the Virgil line quickly, less proud that the first thing I filled in was Carly RAE Jepsen.

Unknown 2:19 PM  

@Z, is a Null Hypothesis considered an example of Occam's Razor? I say sure, since it satisfies the basic idea in the trivial limit, viz., the simplest model to explain the phenomenon is no model at all. Rex says, %#!$&@ you! But he is better at crosswords than I am, so take your pick.

Z 2:33 PM  

To quote that repository of all human knowledge, "The razor states that one should proceed to simpler theories until simplicity can be traded for greater explanatory power. The simplest available theory need not be most accurate. Philosophers also point out that the exact meaning of simplest may be nuanced." It seems to me that the hypothesis that two crossword puzzle constructors separated by 20 years would coincidently come up with the central pair is far simpler than someone having a copy of the 20 year old puzzle and deciding to "rip-off" the central pair.

Well, that's four so I'm sending myself to the penalty box. It's time for Finland to score again.

Anonymous 2:47 PM  

anyone notice all the letter Ls? kinda cute like the pinwheel. i think Lilliput was on Jeopardy last week. I had no issue with ladys fingers. not happy about the plagerizing. posting so I can see the Captcha thing.Claire

Anonymous 2:57 PM  

@Jackie. I always scribble guesses even of the wrong length next to clues (3 solvers in the house means we have to scan the paper, thus I get a nice clean printed copy with margins) I wrote "go play outside" "get a job" "go play in the traffic" and finally "read a book" I grew up pretty urban, in Cambridge next to Boston, but book reading never worked as a threat, only exercise!

Numinous 3:04 PM  

I checked the constructor's comment at xword info and Bruce Haight did indeed say that he's been inspired by Manny Nosowsky. Whether that includes the LOVE CONQUERS ALL quotation, I can only guess but since he did acknowledge the inspiration I'm guessing it was a borrow and a tribute especially since he mentioned there were similarities between Manny and himself. Who beside @Rex is going to remember a twenty year old puzzle anyway?

I wanted makeCAMP thinking bivouac a verb. PUPPETRY was the first to fall for me. No googles but DNF on a typo at LEIS. I toyed with the notion that odor was a gift from flowers but not for very long. I liked the cluing over all. I really hate TEC though.

Good wishes for Bruce in the hope that he can follow in the footsteps of his inspiration.

M and Also 3:06 PM  

@magnificent outlaw beast Z: har.
M&A's Razor: "Even if it sucks, you can still clean house with it." (Wiki-Sewerpoet)

I always thought that the Occam dude liked the theory that required the fewest assumptions...

Lifted idea theory: Constructioneer was ambitious enough to look up a cool set of Valentines 15-ers from an old fave puz. 300 bucks is 300 bucks.

Innocent duplication theory: Constructioneer was too lazy to check on the 15-ers he dreamed up. 300 bucks is 300 bucks.

Possible tie-breaker assumption: Constructioneer submitted the puz over 20 years ago.


Mohair Sam 3:27 PM  

Ooops, just took another look at the 20-year-old puzzle - I hadn't noticed the POPSTHEQUESTION cross, just the LOVECONQUERSALL 15 (gotta stop speed reading if I'm going to comment). I now see @Rex's point.

LaneB 4:58 PM  

Trouble in the NW due to brain deadness re clues for UTTER and URGES plus not being familiar with THEDA as a n old courtroom drama. So even with TAUNT, RAH, ENDLESSLY AND STAYCOOL in the fillI whiffed on GUESTSTAR. Not a shameful performance for a Friday. but still. . .a DNF. Always pleased not to feel like a complete idiot despite having to use Google to check spelling of ARSENE and getting a list of the Dr. Seuss books.

sanfranman59 6:23 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 21:06, 20:15, 1.04, 63%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 13:28, 11:46, 1.14, 75%, Medium-Challenging

RnRGhost57 6:38 PM  

Seemed ok for a themed Friday.
The LSD answer reminded me of one of the all-time great lines from a rock 'n' roll song:
"Things ain't what they used to be Cary Grant's on LSD"
from the Godfathers' "If I Only Had Time."

AliasZ 8:16 PM  

Now neither Hamadryads, no, nor songs
Delight me more: ye woods, away with you!
No pangs of ours can change him; not though we
In the mid-frost should drink of Hebrus' stream,
And in wet winters face Sithonian snows,
Or, when the bark of the tall elm-tree bole
Of drought is dying, should, under Cancer's Sign,
In Aethiopian deserts drive our flocks.
Love conquers all things; yield we too to love!"

from Eclogue X by Publius Vergilius Maro , or Virgil (70-19 BCE).

Elle54 8:23 PM  

For some reason, this was easy as Monday for me! Then I got to the NE. But came back later and finished!

sanfranman59 10:04 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 6:00, 6:20, 0.95, 24%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:01, 8:15, 0.97, 40%, Easy-Medium
Wed 9:40, 10:26, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium
Thu 17:57, 18:35, 0.97, 39%, Easy-Medium
Fri 21:07, 20:15, 1.04, 63%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:44, 3:59, 0.94, 17%, Easy
Tue 4:47, 5:12, 0.92, 18%, Easy
Wed 6:13, 6:15, 0.99, 47%, Medium
Thu 11:32, 10:36, 1.09, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 13:03, 11:46, 1.11, 71%, Medium-Challenging

Nat 8:48 AM  

What's with SPECS as building materials? Specifications establish standards -- you can't build with them. The whole NW was frustrating -- MANEY? Has this word ever been used anywhere, ever? Even in other crossword puzzles? (I agree that TEC shows up nowhere except in crossword puzzles, but it shows up often enough that I'm inured (to use another word that shows up mostly in puzzles).

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

The SW corner got me, mainly because I went for NOM instead of CRI. Also, for "Pig leader?," I kept thinking in terms of a prefix (i.e Stuck) instead an actual physical feature. I don't drink or drive, so VSO and USONE never came to mind. And this is the first time I've run across "All the same..." = YET.

Nat 2:48 PM  

Oops -- too early in the morning for the brain to be fully engaged. Of course the like horses clue refers to MANED, not MANEY, and maned actually makes sense as a clue. So my indignation on that point was pointless.
I still have a beef with SPECS as building materials.

Jack Lee 5:29 AM  

A shout-out from the part of the world (Asia) where we actually do call them ladies' fingers and not okra – I suppose that makes a single one a lady's finger though I've never seen it written that way. DNF because I could not make any headway with NE at all, but the rest was OK!

spacecraft 12:45 PM  

This one offered some resistance, but not enough for a Friday. I had a couple roadblocks: goodIDEA instead of NEAT, the EllA/ETTA hand-up, and EternalLY almost DNFed me in the NE before I found ENDLESSLY, and remembered that UTTER can mean total. Plus, I assumed La Fayette's town was boSTON, not EASTON. Still, despite the NE difficulties, this seemed to go down fairly quickly. For a Friday. So I will concur with the easy-medium rating.

I echo what many, including OFL, have said about the fill. It is...uneven. Long stuff is good; we go ONPATROL at the ARMYCAMP, and we KEEPITUP ENDLESSLY. Loved both clue and answer for 56a. The short stuff? Not so much. Price to pay. YET I give it a thumbs-up.

Omnes vincit amor.

Solving in Seattle 2:14 PM  

Bruce Haight gave me a very enjoyable coffee break. So many clever clues, like 9A&D. Liked NUTSO and FATSO.

Only nit with me is the plural on LADYS finger. Any help out there?

Gotta run. Two pair again.

DMG 2:29 PM  

This belated Valentine was a bit hard to love, but eventually it won me over. Like others I played with the pRess/URGES and NUTty/NUTSO conundrums, but it was finally giving up nom for CRI that would have given me the Happy Pencil, if there were one for pen on paper solving. At any rate, first Friday I've conquered In a long time, so I, belated as it is, thanks for the Valentine!

Three 9's.

Dirigonzo 3:41 PM  

Having ironS for URGES had me staring ENDLESSLY at the NE until... well, you know.

@SiS - It's not a plural, it's possessive, LADY'S finger.

Boat, 555/99.

Ginger 8:28 PM  

Love any puzzle I can actually finish on a Friday. It took a while, but I persevered. Particularly like the clues for LILLIPUT, PUPPETRY, and ONPATROL.

EASTON was a gimme, father-in-law graduated from Lafayette, an esteemed institution (or so I was told every football Saturday!) Like others, had many false starts. Much I didn't know, never heard of Lupin but checked him out with a post solve google.

2 small pair, looks like @Diri has the goods.

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