Florida food fish / FRI 2-7-14 / Is guilty of petitio principii / Philatelic collectible

Friday, February 7, 2014

Constructor: Ned White

Relative difficulty: MEDIUM

THEME: Themeless

Word of the Day: VIRAGOS (38D: Witchy women) —
:  loud overbearing women  
 :  women of great stature, strength, and courage

• • •

It's impressed me, at least since the days of SAT vocab, which is I suppose around the time one starts being impressed by things like this, that English is lousy with synonyms for "hag," and moreover that so many of these words sound so strange: harridan, termagant, virago, shrew. Like the apocryphal claim about Eskimo words for snow, the variety of synonyms for HAG suggests a very old and ingrained preoccupation in the English language with complaining about how women complain; there are far fewer equivalent choices available for men.

VIRAGOS, however, also has a positive sense (see the second definition above), though you wouldn't know it from solving crosswords, which as far as I can tell have never once alluded to it. The particular confluence of positive and negative in the definition is telling - outspoken women are almost always labeled complainers, sometimes even sent to prison - and so is which one of the two available meanings we invariably choose for our puzzle clues.

Hi, I'm Ben Tausig, editor of the American Values Club xword, a weekly indie puzzle sometimes mentioned in this space. I'm filling in for Rex, all up on my soapbox. Happy Olympics to all.

Today's puzzle, like all New York Times puzzles outside of Sunday, has no title, but I'll call it Plain White Crossword. It's workmanlike, pretty fine. My guess is that White's seed entries were DOOBEDOOBEDOO (12A: Bit of nonsense famously replacing "strangers in the night") and BEGSTHEQUESTION (57A: Is guilty of petitio principii), though maybe White is a Eurovision guy and he actually started with GIMMEGIMMEGIMME (14A: 1979 Abba single).  All six of the stacked entries in the north and south were passable or better, but nothing (excepting maybe the Abba song) quite rose to spectacular. Much of the best stuff was in the midrange, lengthwise - the aforementioned VIRAGOS, HOGAUGE (25D: Common standard for model railroads), the sparkling AREYOUOK (35D: Query after a wipeout) and KEVLAR (36A: Synthetic fiber used in bicycle tires and bulletproof vests).

The shorter entries got hairy. So it is with 68-letter grids, although in the realm of themelesses one wants either chock-a-block freshness or doubleplus shine in the fill. MDI (10D: Century-starting year), GANT (46A: Family name in "Look, Homeward Angel"), OER (52A: Throughout, in verse), and APLEY (44A: John P. Marquand's "The Late George ___") are a few of the drier spots. BUREN (47A: Part of a U.S. president's name that's Dutch for "neighbors") is a poor entry more than salvaged by a good trivia clue, while the paired OSE (54A: Suffix of saccharides) and TRI (56A: Prefix with saccharides) fell flat in my solve, both because the clue phrasing diverged and because saccharides are kind of a boring subject for wordplay.

I personally would have changed GANT to GANK, the latter being a very familiar (to me) bit of middle schoolese meaning "grab," though the correct decision in this context was probably to err on the side of the literary reference. Nevertheless, that section held out the longest for me. I would sincerely like to hear your collective opinion on GANK. I haven't heard it in daily conversation in quite some time but certainly I've had many Alice in Chains CDs and slices of pepperoni pizza ganked from my hands.

The three-letter entry USA, clued as a patriotic chant, has long bugged me somewhat, and USAUSAUSA even more so. Presumably Canadians scream CANADA sometimes, but we never see that clued as a patriotic chant. How about BULGARIA? TURKSANDCAICOS? And as to the arbitrary number of instances, doesn't a chant just last as long as the crowd has energy? Why is saying it exactly three times particularly valid or in-the-language? Is STYXSTYXSTYX usable as "Chant at an arena rock concert"?

Finally, there were a handful of lovely clues in this puzzle, among them for QBS (59D: Snap targets, for short), which had me going in other directions, and EDITMENU, (5D: Paste holder?) which was quite tricky if perhaps a tad stretchy.

I didn't have too bad of a time.

Signed, Ben Tausig (@datageneral, avxwords.com)


okanaganer 12:09 AM  

Hi, Ben! That picture is Pussy Riot, right? Very timely on Sochi opening day.

So today we have the theme of triples:
...and maybe
(which could have been PUTT PUTT PUTTED, right golfers?)

Except the theme kind of evaporates halfway down...?

Pete 12:10 AM  

USA,USA,USA is always said as a triplet, repeated as desired. TURKSANDCAICOS, well, the TURKS hate the CAICOANS, so they never yell TURKSANDCAICOS.

I wish all those who think shouting USA USA USA would realize that jingoism != patriotism.

ARCTUTUS/TATTIER seemed just as good as ARCTURUS/RATTIER to me. Seems people (editors) should avoid such instances.

jae 12:10 AM  

Easy-medium for me with the top very easy (got PRESENT ARMS with no crosses)  and the bottom medium-tough.  There seems to be a theme, but I'm not really sure?   

Erasure:  gEena before BETTE

WOE: VIRAGOS (if I've seen it I have no memory of it), ARCTURUS, GANT, and EHLE.   Perhaps these are why the bottom played tougher?

Cuteness:  Symmetrically placed SEGO/SEGA. 

Liked it, kinda SAUCY. 

@casco- 10000  hr. confession.  There was a time span of several years, beginning when my bride introduced me to green and white covered book of very easy crosswords around 2002,  that I did not read a book.  I just did crosswords.  I started reading again about the time I could reliably finish NYT Sat. puzzles.  I just finished The Luminaries which is a remarkable book about which I have some lingering questions. On to The Goldfinch.

@Ben - Never heard of GANK.  Really enjoyed the AV puzzle this week!  Thanks for the write up.

Steve J 12:26 AM  

Best part of this one: The stellar clue/answer combo for OMERTA.

Definitely some nice answers, and a clean grid overall, but I thought there were a few too many alternate spellings (as usual in the NYT, not marked) and obscure (to me) proper names.

@Ben: Your writeup marks the first time I've ever encountered the word "gank", whether verbal or written.

@jae: I'll see your Geena Davis and raise you an Ossie.

wreck 12:27 AM  

Agree with jae ..........the top was very easy and the bottom was tough for me. I was thinking that "Is guilty of petitio principii" was going to aim at something like "small values." I had no idea of prefix or suffix for "saccharides."
Jennifer EHLE was also a head scratcher.
Maybe why we only see USA USA USA as a patriotic chant is the mere fact that the NYT is an American paper!

PK 12:40 AM  

Gank is not a word.

Byron 12:41 AM  

GANK rings a muffled bell for me, but in a puzzle, too many solvers would opt for YANK and resent the entry.

Even the positive meaning of VIRAGOS is problematic. Etymologically, it says a valorous woman is one who exhibits male
traits. (It basically means "like a man".) Still better than the alternative meaning, of course.

PK 12:48 AM  

P.S. Loved your book. Gave it to everybody for Christmas.

Ellen S 12:50 AM  

Sure glad it was GANT and not Gank. As it was, this was my easiest Friday in ages (decades?) if you overlook the little DNF of not getting van BUREN I had ELiDED for 37D, and figured some president I never heard of (? ) had a middle name of BiREN. Actually I had wondered if Joe Biden's last name was "part of a name".. well, never mind, just stupid.

But I was brilliant with the rest, no cheating, even getting EHLE without googling or having any idea who she is. Didn't even flinch at the EEL (it is okay if the show up once in a while, just as long as they don't spread). Took a long time to believe TEATS was correct -- is this still the New York Times?

I thought the repeats were kinda dumb (esp. USAUSAUSA, just makes me wince), but my main complaint about the puzzle is it was over too soon.

@Ben, what is GANK? A combination of Grab and Yank? From when did you say? Middle school? AREYOUOK? (but nice writeup. good observations about viragos. Me, I'm just a curmudgeon.)

Questinia 12:55 AM  

Found this very easy. PRESENT ARMS went in first and there was no stopping except for a hesitation in the UNTROD and ARCTURUS neighborhood. I even went with BETTE right off the bat. If there was a difficulty gradient then I'm with @ jae with the bottom half more sticky.

Fun but too fast for a Friday.

Mark 1:06 AM  

One of the few Fridays that I could finish without google. Jennifer Ehle is divine in P&P, the best film Elizabeth IMHO.

Benko 1:10 AM  

Kids would shout "Gank!" And then grab something from you.
ARCTURUS should have been clued as the Norwegian black metal band.

Anonymous 1:16 AM  

I @$#% this puzzle up as I became fixated on "up" being important in the clue "not printed up" and never inked in untrod thinking the answer may be something about printing I didn't know as I had no idea about arturus, gant or ho gauge. If I know one of those things I finish, but if I was sure of untrod and inked it, I probably finish as well. I hate when this #$#$%# happens.

August West 1:36 AM  

You scap. You don't gank. Never heard of it.

Fun, pretty sparkly puzzle. Loved OMERTA, SAUCY, top and bottom stacks, HO GUAGE and AREYOUOK. Still don't get UNTROD, and glad I didn't see it during the solve, or it would have hung me up like Anon 1:16. Since I didn't, I wasn't, and blazed through this enjoyable, if non-Friday effort in 4:09. Yo, Mister White! Thanks!

chefwen 1:51 AM  

GANK??? Sounds like a skank who has gone a few more degrees south. Never heard of it. But, then again, one of my recent Birthday cards did mention that I "was older than dirt".

Like others have stated, top half was easy and I did start to get a little thrill thinking I could actually get through a Friday unscathed. 39A and 41D done me in.

Clark 2:36 AM  

I was going to ask about UNTROD, but I get it now. If a path is untrod it is likely to be free of footprints. Doh! It was VIRAGOS that got me though, not having any idea what "Big Green" meant. Live and learn.

jae 3:57 AM  

@Ben - Echoing @PK, I'm enjoying your book which was a Christmas present from my granddaughter (see picture). Although, I'm currently stuck in the NW corner of the Matt Gaffney puzzle on page 37. Drivin me nuts, but, I. Will. Not. Cheat.

George Barany 4:40 AM  

Nice writeup, Ben. You have to admit, the tandem of TRI and OSE were short and sweet.

Arcturus Cat o'Merta 5:02 AM  

This VIRAGO don't know from GANK, fwiw.

Didn't get UNTROD till after the puzzle was long done...

Loved the look of this, with the photo album corners and 11 atop 13 atop 15.

I started with MONEYMONEYMONEY. For the ABBA triple title, so a lot of undoing.

Moment of synchronicity... Much to my horror. Just sent Will two puzzles this week, one on ELTON John and one with
USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! Five times across the middle, I had hoped in time for Sochi.
Wondered same thing, why is only three the way to go.

It's like Hs in SHHHH! Today I took a picture of a sign outside a bar of Laurel & Hardy saying "SHHHHH!" with FIVE Hs! I don't remember how to embed...
Hoped to put an end to the 2 vs 4 H in SHH vs SHHHH.
PLUS Hs are hard to work with unlike OOOH, so even more kudos to it (as a constructor)

Don't know what a HO GAUGE is
(insert prostitute or TEATS joke here)

Danp 5:03 AM  

You put GANK in a puzzle, Ben, and I'm gonna cuff you upside the head with one of those Alice in Chains CDs.

Z 7:03 AM  

DOO BE DOO BE MOO because MMI has to be the right answer. MMI started this century, MDI and MCI started some other random century making the answer a DOUBLE BOGEYED Randomity. Bah.

I also think SLOP slop would be better than the gerund.

Then we have everyone's favorites; randomly spelled KEBAB and randomly spelled UEY.

SAUCY TEATS - synonym for VIRAGOS?

Glimmerglass 7:07 AM  

The "up" in the clue for UNTROD is a bit of unfair misdirection. One might say that snow or dirt at a crime scene in "not printed," (i.e. UNTROD), but the "up" suggests "no hard copy" or "on screen only." I got UNTROD from crosses, but hated it.

MetaRex 7:11 AM  

Liked the thematic drift from triplets to doubling to the Olympics...anyone know what patriotic Russians chant?

Thomas808 7:14 AM  

A fun puzzle with a lot of clever clues. I liked "Food stuck in preparation" KEBAB which I've seen spelled about five different ways.

I got off course a little when I first tried DOUBLEBOGied_ -- oops, doesn't work! It wasn't until a lot later that I realized the right spelling for the golf term. I've only +2'd about 10 zillion times, but never had to spell it!

jburgs 7:29 AM  

Nice puzzle. The top went in relatively easily but the bottom answers were much harder to gank.

Went with HOscale(25D) for a while.

Finished with errors due to not going back over my answers to double check. Ended up with DOOBaDOOBEmOO.
Also was naticked at the PANE/POMPANO cross.
Had guessed that you could have a PAgE of stamps (like a sheet) never hearing the term PANE related to stamps before.

I liked a lot of the clues such as the code broken by singers and more.

jberg 8:03 AM  

OK, we got TEATS, we got BEGS THE QUESTION used with its proper meaning (which is rapidly being lost), we got a row that starts with ASP and ends with EEL. What's not to like? I knew APLEY, didn't know GANT, never heard of GANK. But, like @Z, I put in MMI at 10D right off the bat, and thought DOOBE DOOBE MOO sounded kind of cute (and fit the farm animal subtheme), so finished with an error. Who spells doobie that way, anyway?

I'm in Philadelphia for the Teaching and Learning Political Science conference, which starts at 8:30 this morning 8 blocks away, so got to run.

But let's see some love for ARCTURUS. Come on, folks, it's the 4th brightest star in the sky, even brighter than us SMART grade-skippers and Martin Van BUREN all rolled up together.

AliasZ 8:11 AM  

SUP, peeps?

One fine puzzle we have here today. I loved the kindergarten-ish trip-GIMME, and the USA crowd at an Olympic event rooting for their compatriots. How appropriate. @Acme, I hope to see your 5xUSA puzzle soon. And by the way, HO GAUGE is not a measure of female promiscuity. It was originally H0 (zero) introduced by German model train manufacturer Märklin around 1900, because it was half the size of the old 0-scale models, at a scale of 1:87 and a 16.5 mm (0.65 in.) track gauge. In English-speaking countries H0 was pronounced aitch-oh, so in the USAUSAUSA it became HO scale. In German it is still spelled H0 and pronounced hah-null. More than you ever wanted to know about model railroading or railroad modeling.

How is Prostate-Specific Antigen a spot on the environment? There are at least 190 other PSA acronyms, my favorites being Partido Socialista Auténtico of Argentina, ostensibly to distinguish it from the myriad of pseudo-socialist parties, and the British rugby club called Pleasant Sunday Afternoon.

PUREED symmetrically paired with TOMCAT -- a gruesome visual that should REPULSE everyone.

POMPANO reminded me of the Anthony Quinn role in Fellini's La Strada, Zampanò. According to Roger EBERT in his book The Great Movies, La Strada was the high point of Fellini's career, after which "his work ran wild through the jungles of Freudian, Christian, sexual and autobiographical excess".

Time to go. Happy Friday!

[Humming DOO BE DOO BE DOO... as I walk off into the sunset]

Sir Hillary 8:24 AM  

Recently had a golf weekend in Florida (Tampa, far from POMPANO Beach). My swing could NOTBE RATTIER -- driving ONTO the SHORT grass (UNTROD by my feet) simply ELUDED me. I was also BESET by DISMAL putting (leaving every lag well SHORT of GIMMEGIMMEGIMME distance). My SLOPPING around managed to REPULSE my caddie, and when I DOUBLEBOGEYED (best score I could manage) it elicited GASPS of "AREYOUOK?" from SOMEONE. All of which BEGSTHEQUESTION, why not include by clubs in my next TAGSALE and at least pick up a few ABES? Nah, I'll TRI again.

Unknown 8:34 AM  

More patience with myself this time, and I came a lot closer. Missed at KEBoB/oDA and APLEe/SAUCe.

Only rabbit hole : LOCKANDLOAD out of the gate, which gave me OPRAH for REGIS but only lasted 30 seconds. PRESENTARMS fit the clue too well.

I tried for SCOOBEEDOBEDOO, before settling on the right answer.

It is a rare puzzle that drags me through a satisfying complete grid with a bunch of mystery solutions. UEY (I get it now) UNTROD ( still a ?) EHLE ( whodat?) and VIRAGOS (new word) TYE (new spelling) and a surprise: QBS. With the ones I got wrong, this was quite a lesson.

Congrats to Mr. White on a fine, fair, and tough tutelage.

Tracy Bennett 8:58 AM  

I like how Rex is looking at the divergent meanings of the word Virago and posting a photo of Pussy Riot. Oh wait, it's Ben! Hi Ben, nice to see you here.

Never heard of GANK.

Today's constructor lives in Maine, where I grew up. I enjoyed a lot of the fill and appreciated the grid design. I wanted TAKE A CHANCE ON ME for the ABBA song, because it's been running in my head the past two days and I just assumed it would be another one of those puzzle synchronicities(but not this time).

Alex S. 9:02 AM  

The apparent triplets theme of DOOBEDOOBEDOO, GIMMEGIMMEGIMME and USAUSAUSA completely broke the bottom half of the puzzle for me as I resisted any answers that didn't continue that.

Took a long time to recover

h_lina_k 9:10 AM  


Technically those are ex members of Pussy Riot. They left to pursue their more public personae as prison reform advocates.

RnRGhost57 9:11 AM  

GANK unknown to me but I'm a Boomer, not a Gen Xer.
Ben, if you use GANK in a puzzle, we will sentence you to 5 years of breaking rocks all day.

Mohair Sam 9:12 AM  

@Alias Z - Public Service Announcement (i.e. the crying Indian from a day or two back)

My wife is an ABBA lover and gave me three ABBA 15 letter songs in about 30 seconds. The last was Gimme, Gimme, Gimme. "OMG" said I, a gimme GIMMEGIMMEGIMME. Therefore I loved this puzzle.

DNF'd because we insisted EISen for the partial President's name. And ELiDED works for the clue at 37D, and the wonderful KEBAB clue ELUDED us.

Jennifer EHLE (speaking of wonderful) a gimme here, and yes @Mark, she was the best Elizabeth.

@Ben Tausig: Please no gank (even my spell check does't know it). Half way through "Curious History" enjoying, and learning. Thanks.

Mohair Sam 9:16 AM  

@Alias Z - But you knew that. Sorry, I need to stop speed reading.

Unknown 9:18 AM  

@Sir Hillary, that was a tour d'force with the EDITMENU. Worth the price of admission! @AliasZ has company!

Carola 9:36 AM  

Add me to the following: Top easy, bottom harder; expected repeats in the bottom stacks; never heard GANK.

Smiled at the GIMMEs, since they appear here everyday for some people. Loved writing in ARCTURUS - that was the cherry on top for me for this fun, nicely clued puzzle.

Funny "OM" row across the top: POM, ROM, TOM, SOM, OM. GASPS crossing ASP seems fitting.

@Ben - Thanks for the nice write-up and the VIRAGO explanation.

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Personally, I didn't think this puzzle had anywhere near enough zip to compensate for all the poor short fill.

Unknown 10:01 AM  

Ditto @Alex S. - I expected the three-peated phrases to continue.

GANK is new to me. Great, now I feel old.

Super easy for a Friday in my book.

dk 10:02 AM  

My thinking that HOG AUGE was what one did in a sty....

May I also say that my love for ABBA is equaled only by love for the Cathy comic strip?

And, I did not know 38d but am glad I now do as I have a sister visit coming up. You may have seen my sisters encircling a large pot chanting......

OOO (3 Moons) thanks Ned and thank you Ben for your post.

Steve J 10:29 AM  

@RnRGhost57: I'm a Gen Xer, and "gank" is still completely new to me. Maybe it skews even younger, or it was regional slang.

@Jberg: I also thought "doobie" at 12A. Obviously that wouldn't fit. DOOBy did, though.

Other big writeover for me was having ShEll as a container for a round, rather than a STEIN.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Never heard the word Gank (age 51)

Ellen S 10:35 AM  

@cascokid san, UNTROD = "empty of footprints" = "not printed up."

datageneral 10:37 AM  

Hi all,

Glad you're liking "Curious History." And thanks for your frankness w/r/t GANK.

And sorry to be self-promotional, but objectively you should solve pretty much any puzzle Francis Heaney constructs, including this week's AVCX.


quilter1 10:37 AM  

@Ben: never heard the word gank. Age thing. Knew GANT.
I liked this puzzle and rated it easy. Age thing again. Thanks for your write-up.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:39 AM  

Have never seen or heard GANK.

Had to read comments above to understand UNTROD.

As noted from the very first comment, it seems the constructor was aiming for a theme of triples, but couldn't come up with enough themers. But the language has undoubtedly changed since the puzzle was submitted to Will. So here's a challenge to all the puzzle-re-writers in the crowd: Hold everything including USAUSAUSA and above as it is, but change 57 A to OMAHA OMAHA OMAHA and re-work the grid. :>))

Noam D. Elkies 10:42 AM  

Possibly the DOOBE and GIMME were a seed pair: since they're both basically triple repeats of a 5-letter block, once you've checked that the first five stacking letter-pairs work you get the rest for free.

BTW "gimme" is originally a golf term, so possibly 14A together with 61A:DOUBLE_BOGEYED were intended as a golf sub-theme.

39A:ARCTURUS, like "arctic", is ultimately from Greek arktos = bear. Wikipedia says it's also called "α Boo", i.e. the brightest star in Boötes. And yes, it's also a music band, but I have no idea what Benko is talking about.

Nor do I have any recollection of GANK…


Two Ponies 10:59 AM  

Either the top half spoiled the bottom for me or vice versa. It would have been more fun if 57A and 61A had repeating answers as well. Too easy for a Friday perhaps but as it is, like @ Alex S and @ Sue Mc, it put me off.
Did learn a new word - virago. I might be one by either definition.

FearlessKim 11:05 AM  

Thanks, Ben, for the write up, and Ned for a fun Friday.

Ben: never heard of gank (which autocorrect just tried to turn into bank). And it hasn't been that long since my kids were in middle school. However, I didn't have a clue either about GANT, so with fair crosses, I would have done just as well with either word.

@okanager: yes you can putt putt putt to a DOUBLEBOGEY, although a tough time on the green is just one way to end up 2 over par. A bad slice or hook on the fairway, close encounters with trees or ponds or alligators -- all opportunities for triumph or trouble when the scoring's done.

@GeorgeBarany: laughed out loud at "short and sweet". Thanks!

John V 11:15 AM  

Pretty easy stuff for a Friday. Only holdup was the South, petitio pcincipii. +2 Double Bogey, clue/answer pair was pretty good.

GANK totally unknown to this Silver Solver.

Thanks for stopping in Ben. I am a subscriber to the AV puzzle, which I always enjoy, even when I DNF :)

Fred Romagnolo 11:35 AM  

still can't reconcile either def. of virago with witchy. Shudda been not printed ON, not UP

Sandy K 11:45 AM  

I felt much SMARTer filling in the top. Some clever clues ELUDED me, but eventually guessed correctly.

Loved the triplets. Agree that it felt like an unfinished themer...was expecting maybe "Tora Tora Tora" or "More More More".

Jennifer EHLE is memorable for her performance in P and P esp since her co-star was the even more memorable Colin Firth. Off-camera, they were an item, and she's really a blonde. DOUBLE GASP!!

OISK 11:47 AM  

I'm not a Ganky doodle dandy…never heard of the word. Surely I am not the only one who spelled "Kebab" "Kebob" and had Oda instead of Ada? So, a one box DNF for me, but not an upsetting one. I enjoyed this puzzle very much, even though I never heard of "Gimme." nor APLEY. (except as in "APLEY ever after…)

Healimgmagichands 12:03 PM  

The USAUSAUSA did grate a bit. But does no one else recall AussieAussieAussir OyOyOy from the Sydney Olympisc? Never heard the word Gank in all my sixty years.

Masked and Anonymo9Us 12:03 PM  

Gankers in the night.
The passin glances...
Gankers in the night.
What were the chances...
It turned out so right,
For gankers in the night.
U-bie, u-bie, U
U U U Ubie...

Works for me.
And primo write-up. Kinda overdid the boldface, tho.

Yer small themed puz fix, here:
Note similar corner design motif to Ned White's grid. Great minds...

Ubie, Ubie U...

Lewis 12:24 PM  

Ben -- I'm guessing GANK is an extreme localism. Perhaps as local as existing in one person's imagination?

Dick Swart 12:26 PM  

Hail, Gail, the gang's all here.

Dick Swart 12:29 PM  

…didn't catch typo. "Hail, Hail, etc".

Ganks for the memory ...

Notsofast 12:51 PM  

For some reason, I thought "Big Green" was HERTZ, and therefore my word for their "rivals" was AVIS! ELUDES became EVADES, BUREN easily became BANES, and I was screwed. But I loved the puzzle!

ArtO 12:53 PM  

Top easy, bottom hard. But happy to do most on a Friday.

I get far too many double bogeys but never think of them as +2s. They just show up as 6's and 7's!

Definitely go with GANT. To dismiss Thomas Wolfe is to disregard a master of the English language. The most incredible writer of the 20th century and a must read for anyone loving literature and language wordsmiths (which I assume are many in this crossworld universe).

AliasZ 1:15 PM  

@Sir Hillary, loved your story.

@M & A - Har!

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha, it's a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus.

Doo be doo be doo, doo doo doo dee dah, dah dah dah... [fadeout]

Bob Kerfuffle 1:20 PM  

@M&A - LOL, to be more discreet.

I'm getting better at solving your little gems: 10:08, but no cheating this time.

Thanks once more.

OISK 1:21 PM  

Where is Fedora, the wild virago?
It's lucky I missed her gangster sister from Chicago..

From "Kiss me Kate"

M and Also 1:29 PM  

Crossword-eezy stuff, that reduced my solve time by crucial nanoseonds:
Can't believe some folks don't love them sweet lil things. The clue for PSA oft gank aglay for M&A, tho. Can anyone help the M&A Helpless Desk, with that one?
(Ubie, Ubie, Uuuu...)

gringa 1:30 PM  

You don't have to sing to break the code of omertà. Just open your mouth. I got omertà, however, only when I thought of the Sopranos. (Singers....mafia) so that was fun especially since I finally broke down and started watching the sopranos just last week and have read my first couple of mafia nonfiction books this past month. Ie: omertà brand new to me.

GILL I. 1:30 PM  

@M@A I'm still laughing as I type this and @Dick's Ganks for the memory...!
My big problem was getting ARCTURUS and HO GAUGE/GANT(K?) Otherwise pretty easy.
Favorite clue: "It helps produce a kitty" TOMCAT!!
POMPANO is delicious! Just saute the fillets in butter, white wine and some lemon...it will make you APLEY.
Thanks Ned White - this was fun.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:44 PM  

@M&A - Never sure when you are serious, but that 31 D Spot that may be on the environment, briefly, could be a Public Service Announcement (from Smokey Bear, say) that it is, in M&A terms, the Pharaoh's symbol grabbed by the tail.

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

Other three-peats:

Turn! Turn! Turn!- song for The Byrds
Fun Fun Fun- Beach Boys song
Bye Bye Bye- 'N Sync song
Girls! Girls! Girls!- 1962 Elvis film
Love love love- Beatles lyric
You, You, You- Ames Bros oldie

Last Silver Ganker 1:58 PM  

@Bob K. . . I am about always either serious or delirious. Thanx U for the PSA explainer, which, in pharoah-terms, makes perfect sense. 10:08 is mighty fine time, btw. Took me longer than that just to write the sucker. I need to stiffen up mah clues, on the next lil ganker...

(U-u-u Ubie...)

gringa 2:46 PM  

Okay, okay... I'm slow on the uptake. One who sings is a rat, duh!

Nonetheless, I had enough random data bouncing around in my head as it was and I did look for a literal solution because I am a singer of the conventional kind.

Numinous 2:49 PM  

Gank, LOL. Never heard it before but it has three very real definitions. @Ben's middle schoolers, it definately means steal. In MMORPGs it means gang kill. Y'all look up MMORPG, I looked up gank. Anyway, with the previous two defs, I'd expect this in a David Steinberg puzzle (see, I''m starting to pay attention) so brace yourselves. David might come up with with the following too. Ganks are a race of homicidal Star Wars characters who live for murder and mayhem (another easy google find). I gave up on Star Wars after sleeping through the fourth or fifth. I was seriously bored.

I really laughed out loud when UNTROD jumped up and squirted seltzer in my face (Guys and Dolls reference). I love when that stuff happens to me. So bummed when I DNFed because I didn't seen SAUCY, I wanted SAUte and I didn't know from APPLEe.

I have no complaints about DOOBE GIMME USA. I was't really looking for a theme but I expected one more triad.

Thanks Ned White for the squirts in the face.
Thanks Ben for a really good write up and for introducing a groovy new word, trust me, someone's gonna GANK it soon.

LaneB 2:50 PM  

Got most of this one with a good bit of Google help [ARCTURUS, GANT, GIMMIEGIMMIEGIMMIE] but still had to take a DNF because of the cross at QBS and DOUBLEBOGEYED--all the more maddening since I'm a big golf and football fan. UEY is also terrible filland I only got it after completing the rest of the puzzle. And I still don't really get PANE as a philatelic collectible. Then stamps aren't my thing. SEGO and SEGA in the same fill? Saccharides twice? How does something like this get accepted despite the clever stacks?

Numinous 3:07 PM  

Oh yeah, another seltzer SLOPPING: My mother and her father both collected coins and stamps. Took a bit of digging to find PANE, I had PA_E before it popped up. A pane is a group of commemorative stamps printed with a border around them so they are completely enclosed as opposed to a sheet which has open edges. PANEs are prized and stamp album makers print pages specifically for them. I believe they even create albums just for PANE collections.

Freddy Murcks 3:40 PM  

I can't quite figure out why SHORT is a potential fire hazard (24A). That's the only clue/answer pair in the puzzle that I can't quite make sense of. Would someone care to enlighten me?

sanfranman59 3:50 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 18:33, 20:15, 0.92, 37%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 11:47, 11:41, 1.01, 52%, Medium

OISK 4:05 PM  

@Freddy - As in a short circuit, or in the case of this group, a Shortz circuit.

Freddy Murcks 4:10 PM  

Thank you, OISK. I wasn't thinking of electricity. I am reasonably smart, but I am awfully stupid sometimes.

Tracy Bennett 4:11 PM  

@Freddy An electrical short in the wiring in your walls or behind appliances can start a fire.

Tracy Bennett 4:12 PM  

@Freddy Me too! Smart and stupid. You're not alone.

Yvette 4:33 PM  

Wait--people google the answers?? That changes everything for me.

Anonymous 5:48 PM  

The videogame definition of GANKing (basically, ganging up on a person to kill them in a PvP game) is in common usage in that subculture. But I guess the NYT has always been very shy about using any videogame terminology more obscure than MYST, ATARI, or SEGA. :)

(Although RAID did show up in a World of Warcraft context a little while back. I was pleasantly surprised!)

mac 6:16 PM  

@Yvette: if you do you have to tell us about it.

Nice puzzle! The arcturus/tattier area was the last one for me. I've only ever heard tatty in England, and the clue for 42 seemed to ask for something bigger than a stein, like a carafe or a pitcher. A stein is for one person.

Talking about untrod: normally, when there is snow in our yard, we almost immediately see tracks of all sorts of animals, but this time none at all, very weird. There is a crust of ice on top, the little ones probably don't even leave a mark. Still, where are the deer, our girls?

I was also looking for additional multiples in the bottom half.

I'm looking forward to the speed skating this weekend, my favorite event, especially the longest distances.

mac 6:25 PM  

P.S. Never seen or heard "gank".

Size 6:51 PM  

I have heard of gank and probably used it years ago. I am under forty and Midwestern. I wonder if it is regional or has to do with the, ummmm, ethnic diversity in one's school.

I have also heard of Arcturus, although I didn't recognize it by the clue alone without AR-

Kretch 7:38 PM  

A real nice Friday puzzle for me. Enjoyed the triplets and got the bonus of the Drill Command with my first salvo

Okanaganer.. IF Penticton is Palm Springs Nanaimo is Seattle

sanfranman59 10:02 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:04, 6:22, 0.95, 27%, Easy-Medium
Tue 10:30, 8:18, 1.27, 94%, Challenging (13th highest ratio of 217 Tuesdays)
Wed 8:25, 10:26, 0.81, 7%, Easy
Thu 18:20, 18:35, 0.99, 44%, Medium
Fri 18:20, 20:15, 0.91, 34%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:01, 4:00, 1.00, 47%, Medium
Tue 6:33, 5:14, 1.25, 96%, Challenging (9th highest ratio of 217 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:26, 6:15, 0.87, 15%, Easy
Thu 10:09, 10:24, 0.98, 42%, Medium
Fri 11:06, 11:32, 0.96, 42%, Medium

spacecraft 11:21 AM  

@M&A: Don't U mean "UEY UEY U?"

Our word for "grab" (as in, something that's not yours) was KYPE. Yeah, GANK must be very restrictively local--like, particular to a single school, judging from the vast majority of us who never heard of it.

On to the puzz. To kick off a Friday with the GIMME of PRESENTARMS (neither SHOULDER nor ORDER would fit) seemed such a gift that it made me wary. Then when the next line was the famous Sinatra scat, for which I had only to determine the precise spelling (scat spalling has GOT to be the most inexact of sciences), I began to wonder if I hadn't woken up on a Wedensday and just thought it was Friday. I do not, however remember any Abba song called GIMMEGIMMEGIMME, so had to infer the repetition from the previous entry. Man, I thought I knew most of their hits; not that one.

The repeating theme is...repeated in the center--and then we go south. Those long acrosses are "finest kind," as Hawkeye would say, but they desert the theme. Not that this is a bad thing. I mean, recreate some socko entries like BEGSTHEQUESTION and DOUBLEBOGEYED on top, and you'd HAVE something.

Big Green is Cornell, which though in the same league is hardly the ELIS' "rival." That would be, of course, Harvard, since the dawn of time. Careful how you toss that word "rival" around.

There's much to like in this; a single line containing both KEVLAR and ARCTURUS is hard to beat. I just think the repetitive drivel (well, OK, USAUSAUSA is not drivel...but it IS repetitive) cheapens the whole effect. Certainly made it one of my easiest Fridays ever.

You say KEBAB, I say KABOB...let's call the whole thing off.

Captcha is eatmLo...nope, I'm not gonna touch that one.

DMG 3:51 PM  

A bit of a strange puzzle with names (EHLE) and words (VIRAGOS) that were new to me, but eventually solved it except for the UNTROD thing. Is that even a word? Is "not printed up" something anyone would say looking an unmarked patch of snow or sand? Maybe in some vernacular, perhaps the one that contains "bank"? At any rate, came closer than usual for a Friday!

My Captcha: odsored. Could it be a comment on @spacecraft's Captcha? Blush, blush!

rain forest 3:53 PM  

Similar experience for me as for most others. Easy top half, harder bottom half, but pretty enjoyable nonetheless with some sparkle and misdirective cluing.

Good to see BEGSTHEQUESTION with the Latin clue. This is probably the most misused phrase in the English language, along with *momentarily* and *hopefully*. I know everyone in Syndiland would EVER misuse these expressions...

I spell it KEBAB, but say "kabob".

Dirigonzo 4:26 PM  

SOMEONE commented earlier that Ned White lives in Maine, and even @spacey is quoting Maine's most famous literary native, Hawkeye, with "finest kind" so I'm calling a sub-theme shoutout.

I've seen EDITMENU with the exact same clue very recently and I still needed most of the crosses to get it.

It's a sure sign of pop-culture brain-rot caused by doing too many xwords when gEena (confirmed by gEtto for BESET) Davis comes to mind before the much more esteemable BETTE.

My OWS, discovered only upon arriving here, was having my stamp collection be a PAgE.

Is there such a thing as solitary poker?

Ginger 6:29 PM  

Never heard of GANT, or gank either, but Jennifer EHLE was a GIMME. Her P & P was delightful. She was also in the more recent 'The King's Speech'.

Have a fine weekend, Syndilanders.

strayling 8:03 PM  

Socrates: To be is to do.
Sartre: To do is to be.
Sinatra: 12 ac.

(Somebody had to do/be it.)

Dirigonzo 9:07 PM  

@strayling - that's very philosophical of you. I presume you weren't referring to this "doobie".

Unknown 9:10 PM  

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