Investments since 1975 / FRI 2-28-14 / Philatelic goals / Suffix with Edward / Singer who's a Backstreet Boy's brother / Salk Institute architect Louis / Shakespeare sonnet mentioning Philomel's mournful hymns / Modern-day locale of ancient Nineveh / City with major avenues named Cincinnati Columbus

Friday, February 28, 2014

Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: FLAUTIST (28D: Sir James Galway, e.g.) —
One who plays the flute; a flutist.

[Italian flautista, from flauto, flute, from Old Provençal flaüt. See flute.]

Read more:
• • •

Constructing, shmonstructing. Welcome to the age of database management!

I laughed when I opened this puzzle. Out loud.

I wish I could've been on some game show where, after seeing the constructor's name, I could've put All My Money on "Quadstack." I'd be so rich.

I feel like I need some boilerplate language I can just cut and paste into every quadstack (or wide-open "record-setting" low-black-square-count puzzle) I write up. You know: long answers have a combination boring / made-up feel, short crosses are weak / forced, etc. So let's just assume that unless I say otherwise, I am *always* saying that for these kinds of puzzles. So here's what I enjoyed about this puzzle:
  • XXX
  • Toughish cluing
  • I learned how to spell FLAUTIST (I would've gone, and did briefly go, FLOUTIST)
I think this puzzle must surely have set a record for "TION"s. I count four. Including, dear lord, three "TIONAL"s all on top of one another in those middle answers. Repeated letter strings of any length (say 4+) are generally frowned upon / kept to a minimum. So you really gotta love the gutsiness of stacking three 6-letter strings. Or you don't have to love it. Probably you don't.

I, ANA is terrible in all circumstances until the day when former SNL cast member Ana Gasteyer writes an autobiography with that title.

Did you know there are more than 100 species of MALARIA PARASITE? I  learned this when I googled [MALARIA PARASITE] to see if it was a real phrase. Much to my surprise, it is. I would've thought "malarial."

HAD A TIN EAR has all the moral authority of ATE A HAM SANDWICH (15!)

AT SIX now has me rethinking whether XXX was truly worth it.

OK that's enough. Goodbye.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Anonymous 12:05 AM  

    This was impossible. Nothing else to say. Good write up, Rex. Puzzle = meh with some nice stuff. But mostly convoluted, obscure, and not fair. No fun.

    JFC 12:09 AM  


    I laughed out loud at your post. I doubt MAS did. In fact I read your post as NO MAS!

    I feel like Teddy Roosevelt when I say, "Is there some way we can end this." I'll even treat in the lounge of the Marriott's Wentworth outside Portsmouth, NH, where the Russians and Japanese signed their treaty in 1905 to end their war. Of course, Teddy received a Nobel Peace Prize for that. I'll settle for a thank you....


    Clark 12:15 AM  

    I got on the wave length of Martin Ashwood-Smith for the first time with this puzzle. But I ran out of gas in the Southern California to Texas area. Not a good place to have an empty tank. When I lived in Bloomington, Indiana, I did a fair amount of spelunking. Torch crossed my mind, but that seemed too English. We used carbide lamps.

    Moly Shu 12:18 AM  

    Brilliant MAS offering. Couldn't disagree with @Rex more. Played medium for me. Got IRAQ/IRISH, ODS/OJAYS, NATIONALANTHEMS right off the bat and thought it would be a breeze. Then struggled and when I was finally done, I thought there was no way Mr. HappyPencil would show his face, but there he was. Didn't know CII, ATP or KAHN. BIBLE before TORAH, HERR fixed that. My small brain will never comprehend how quad stacks are even thought about, let alone executed. I liked it very much, thanks MAS

    AliasZ 12:25 AM  

    I remembered TRADITIONAL IRAS from about a month ago. Guess who used it last? MAS himself, on Saturday, January 11. Nothing like regurgitating a useful 15, ey?

    Although a themeless, I found multiple sub-themes -- I am sure on purpose. "From Galway, say" and "Sir James Galway, e.g." was genius. Except that Sir Galway plays the flute, not the flaut. It certainly couldn't be said that he HAD A TIN EAR, always hitting the HIGH NOTES perfectly. Every time I hear and REHEAR him play, I admire his golden tone.

    I also loved the spelunker/CAVERS pair, as well as the BRONX Bombers, the Coors Field ROCKIEs and the "Dodgers' foes" misdirection. Clever. "Carlito's way" wins as the clue of the day.

    I disliked the tiny puzzles in the NW and SE corners, tied to the rest only by one entry each. AT SIX, CII, IANA, IVANA, ATEM and I DID were a bit clunky and arbitrary. I have no idea what an ATP is but I take his word for it.

    Otherwise I enjoyed this tough but pleasant puzzle. Thank you. ¡MAS, por favor!

    George Barany 12:25 AM  

    Perhaps @Rex won't much care for this either??

    Mike in DC 12:32 AM  

    This was a fun solve for me; I almost feel guilty having enjoyed it so much now that I know Rex didn't. (Not that I didn't know his oft-expressed feelings about quad-stacks.)

    The puzzle played close to average in difficulty for a Friday. (NATIONAL ANTHEMS and FLAUTIST went in right off the bat, but AARONCARTER is someone I would not recognize, and I couldn't get into the bottom right for a while because I couldn't see TEXASSIZE due to REtEsT instead of REHEAR and parIs(?) and then tuNIs(???) before XENIA.)

    What's not to like about CALLOPTIONS, TEXASSIZE, STOREFRONT, LIVINGWAGE (a phrase that, a la Rex, I would call very "in the language"), FLAUTIST, NATIONALANTHEMS, ZILCH, and DOGMA?

    I can put up with an IANA and an ATSIX for that. Thanks, Mr. Ashwood-Smith.

    I think Rex HADATINEAR for the music here, but I nonetheless thank him for his blog. Rex, you're fun to read, even when I disagree. (In fact, sometimes you're even more fun to read when I disagree.)

    wreck 12:32 AM  
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    wreck 12:39 AM  

    I thought I was getting a little better on Fridays because I was having to Google much less frequently. This one set me back a few pegs. I did get it, but it took me about an hour. I will say that I had to google at least once in each quadrant - but once I did, it fell quickly.

    John Child 12:48 AM  
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    Steve J 12:49 AM  

    Maybe someday I'll get on the same wavelength as MAS, but I don't anticipate it coming any time soon. It could be the abundance of awkward and forced stuff that results from quad stacks, it could be me (it's almost certainly both, tilted more toward me). Whatever the cause, it ain't happening so far. I've yet to meet a quad stack I've liked, to my recollection. Far too many compromises required to get there.

    Very nice clues for ODS, XXX and BOTOX. LIVING WAGE and DOGMA were nice fill. Otherwise, not much that resonated with me.

    I know MAS has mentioned before that he's not all quad stacks all the time. I'd like to encounter a puzzle that's not (I see the one posted by @George Barany is yet another), just so I can judge if its the quad stacks or his style that I don't click with.

    John Child 12:49 AM  

    This puzzle ate me up and spit me out. So many things I didn't know or couldn't evoke from the clues. Finished with an error, even with google. GGGGG

    jae 12:51 AM  

    Medium-tough for me too. The top third went fairly quickly but the rest was a struggle.  Although I liked this more than Rex did, I agree there is not much zip and some cringy stuff...IANA, the TMEN ATEM pair, a RRN disguised as a sonnet...

    Wanted SIXpm for the dogwatch clue.

    I don't see any real Naticks, but CALL OPTIONS, XENIA, AARON CARTER... seem a tad obscure.   Solid Fri. MAS.   I like a crunchy solve.

    chefwen 1:25 AM  

    Copy what @Steve J said in my comment space and I'm pretty much done. It took two of us and I am still shocked that we pulled it off. I think at one point I actually broke a sweat.

    Tough puzzle that we just kept pecking away at.

    The muffins I make for the Coconut Cup are TEXAS SIZE so that was a gimme, about the only one.

    Garth 1:26 AM  

    I like quad stacks. Unfortunately I couldn't like these quad stacks until I looked at the solution. Despite getting NATIONAL ANTHEMS fairly quickly, the northern hemisphere and equatorial regions mostly eluded me. I'd been on a bit of a roll recently on Fridays and Saturdays, but this puzzle brought me to a screeching halt.

    wreck 1:39 AM  

    why do you come here so early in the morning?? ;-)

    retired_chemist 2:02 AM  

    Tough but a LOT of fun. I like quad stacks precisely because they are generally tough. At several points I felt like Googling (notably in Texas, where TEXAS in 46A gave me fits even though I live there). Didn't, and finishing this one on my own was a very good feeling.

    Don't know my time because I had to stop in the middle and give a pug her eye drops. Corneal ulcer, almost healed. At least 30 minutes, which is a slowish Saturday for me anymore. Used to be a very fast Saturday.....

    Didn't know ole Will wrote >= CII sonnets. Since I had NO IDEA of the surnames of any of the Back Street Boys, I was considering I, V, X,and L. The plain vanilla name CARTER thus eluded me until the end. XENIA was preceded by akron and bEreA. ROCKIE was preceded by Raider (!) and ROoKIE, which latter I thought was a sucko answer, miserably clued. The right answer - nice!

    Liked a lot of the answers - @Mike in DC listed many of them. Overwrites: rna =>ATP, REpEAt => REHEAR, A teaR => A DIET, AT it => AT EM, ANTIRusT (!) => ANTIRIOT, and more.

    Thanks, Martin. Always tough but always worth the effort.

    retired_chemist 2:14 AM  

    @ AliasZ: ATP = adenosine triphosphate. A so-called "high energy" phosphate with a vital role in metabolism. The human body at any instant contains about a half pound of ATP but, since ATP is recycled, you have to produce about your own body weight of ATP every day. (Wikipedia).

    Anonymous 2:31 AM  

    What can I say, at least I'm more popular with some of the solvers/commenters around these parts than I am with Rex. I'm rolling with the punches! "Ouch!", that one made contact :(

    I'm probably gonna have to keep saying this until I'm blue in the face, but this crossword (as with my other similar ones) relies very little on so-called database management. FYI: I've got a wildly unorganized, unrated word database, the rest is in my head. Most of this crossword was done by hand, not autofill.

    Pan the puzzle if you didn't like it, but like I said last time, I do get bothered when I get accused of the crossword equivalent of lip-synching.


    Martin Ashwood-Smith

    Billy 3:20 AM  

    I'd never accuse you of that.

    Anyways, I just don't understand how you solvers do Fridays. This was just impossible for me.

    Antiriot Calloption Malaria 4:54 AM  

    Loved it, @MAS!!!
    Loved the pangram, loved all the Xs, loved watching the stacks reveal themselves slowly.

    Colorful ZILCH, WHATISTHIS, OJAYS (Backstabbers!!!), BOTOX, BRONX.

    Malapop! Thought Liszt clue was HERR, even tho I'm not sure where Liszt is from... and two clues later, HERR pops up!

    Proud of myself to get ROCKIE off the R. My sportsphobic brain piecing together that Coors is brewed in Colorado, and what would I call a team in the mountains?

    TORCH struck me as English, but then again, I believe @MAS is English, no?

    AARONCARTER was the pre-Justin Bieber so I liked that he got youth in there.

    Also wondering if it weren't MALARIA(L)...
    along those lines I also wanted TEXA(N)SIZE(D)

    Just getting pickle/StEEP now... actually considered SlEEP, SwEEP even ShEEP!

    XXX ooo

    JTHurst 6:05 AM  

    'Heavens to Murgatroyd' I exited stage right on this very quickly, regardless of quad stacking and constructor bashing. Looking forward to Monday. There were some fun answers: Walt, Herr, living wage, ATP and id-id and some humongous bad answers like 'what is this' and oh its 'texassize'.

    DeanR 6:44 AM  

    Was it just last week that I came here to find paeans in praise of Patrick Berry, who basically eats my lunch every time out? Well, for me MAS is the anti-Berry, if you will. I always finish (although often in an above average time), and I happen to enjoy quad stacks, so a resounding NUTS to the naysayers, Martin, and by all means keep'em coming. Thanks!

    Sir Hillary 7:17 AM  

    I found this one pretty easy, as I seem to be on MAS's wavelength most of the time.

    This quad stack was relatively junk-free, given the constraints of the format. I'm ambivalent about all the "--TIONAL--" entries and the fact that we saw one of them just seven weeks ago, but the good stuff outweighs all that. The six long downs (8+) cutting through the stacks are very cool.

    ROCKIE always looks absurd to me; how can it not be Rocky? But recent reports about Troy Tulowitzki as a possible Derek Jeter replacement in 2015 refer to Tulo as "the most tenured Rockie". So I guess I need to get over it.

    Final thought...I get criticism of a puzzle; that's a matter of taste. What I don't get is the criticism of someone's motives or methods beyond that, especially when that criticism is by inference only, not direct knowledge. Hate the sin, love the sinner, if you will.

    George Barany 7:31 AM  

    It is interesting to me to read the range of opinions expressed here, but to those who like quad stacks, today's your chance for a double helping of Martin Ashwood-Smith's genius.

    I also appreciate, for the NYT pangram, seeing @ATP clued in a biochemical sense, rather than as an org. for racket-wielders, or some such. It's just one example of @Martin's breadth of knowledge and the care and creativity he applies in his construction process, of which you'll see numerous more examples in the bonus puzzle.

    jberg 7:41 AM  

    I liked it -- despite the Worst RRN Ever at 42A -- until I hit MALARIA PARASITE. I guess it's true you don't bring it home, but it still has a green-paintish feel, in my opinion. By the time I got to the end I was feeling so negative that I was ready to agree with @Rex about the pangram, and I normally like pangrams. (I know, Rex didn't actually say that, but he's got boilerplate about that, too.)

    But there's really a lot to like. I just noticed ION, for example-- adding to the nice science vibe. ATP is big news right now, as the FDA considers whether to allow mitochondrial gene transplants in eggs, leading to so-called three-parent babies, to avoid inherited ATP deficiency.

    I'll give it up for the pangram, but I had nihil before ZIppo before ZILCH, and admired the Latincrossing at nihil/VIA. And Windows NT! Nice old-timey feel there; must have stumped you young'uns.

    However, I was very sorry to have to go on a DIET rather than my preferred tooT.

    Anonymous 7:51 AM  

    I don't know why this one irked me so (outside of the fact that it was so hard.) Vivre means "to exist", not "exist." And if Ivana Trump is his idea of a socialite, then I don't want to be in that society.

    Unknown 7:59 AM  

    This one really worked for me. I like Martin's work on the whole ever since I bought his "Triple Stacks" book and lived with that for several weeks. His stacks do not feel in the least mechanical to me; they feel lively and playful. Thank you, Mr. Ashwood-Smith!

    John Child 8:03 AM  

    @George Barany. I liked the puzzle you posted better than the Times one, but two of the four grid spanners (33A and 40A) seemed strained, and the stack only worked with a variant (20D), a partial that has no currency in English as far as I can see from Google (34D), and a pretty lame long down clued apologetically (35D). Plus one of the other long answers has the ubiquitous "one's" in it.

    There's lots of great stuff here, but I think it would have been better without the four-stack.

    Carola 8:04 AM  

    A really enjoyable Friday, medium on top, challenging on the bottom. Coming here, I see I DNF (OdAYS x dOT). Like @Rex, I noticed the -TIONs, and appreciated them - needed all the help I could get (cute that there's also the ION echo).

    Had seLL before CALL OPTIONS, had to get AARON CARTER entirely from crosses; couldn't believe HERR made bronco impossible (@retired_chemist - I also entertained Raider).

    I know more than I want to about ATP (my mitochondria are lying down on the job).

    @Aliasz_Z - Thanks for the nice sub-themes. I also liked VIVRE x LIVING, RILE next to (Let me) AT 'EM, and the contrary crossing of TEXAS-SIZE and ZILCH. Lots to like!f

    John Child 8:10 AM  

    @George Barany. And it was a LOT easier too -- Thursday time with no need to cheat.

    AliasZ 8:18 AM  

    @retired_chemist, thanks for the ATP info. I did read the first few sentences of the Wikipedia page prior to my previous post -- the best sleep aid I ever had. As I said, I take your (and Wikipedia's) word for it.

    Franz Liszt (1811-1886) lived quite an adventurous life and had a TEXAS SIZE personality, but in his later years he became deeply religious. In this period of his life he was so wealthy, he gave away much of his proceeds to charity and humanitarian causes. He gave generously to the building fund of Cologne Cathedral, the establishment of a Gymnasium at Dortmund, and the construction of the Leopold Church in Pest. There were also private donations to hospitals, schools and charitable organizations such as the Leipzig Musicians Pension Fund. When he found out about the Great Fire of Hamburg, which raged for three weeks during May 1842 and destroyed much of the city, he gave concerts in aid of the thousands of homeless there.

    Liszt joined the Third Order of St. Francis in 1857, and in 1865 he received the four minor orders of porter, lector, exorcist and acolyte. After this ordination he was often called ABBÉ Liszt. His magnum opus is the oratorio Christus composed between 1862 and 1866.

    In his later years he also experimented with atonality, like this marvelous Bagatelle sans tonalité.


    Michael Hanko 8:29 AM  

    XXX aves to thee, O Martin. No—I grant you CII.

    As a beta-tester of several Martin Ashwood-Smith puzzles, including the one @George Barany posted above, I have been a fortunate witness to this talented constructor's meticulous creative process. Formerly averse to quad stacks, I've come to appreciate the beauty of finding words that can be heaped one upon the other to create sensible crossing words. Martin does this better than just about anyone, and his clever, often erudite cluing sweetens the pot for me considerably. And all those long downs intersecting today's quad stack are simply breathtaking.

    By the way, as a teacher of singing, I can attest to the in-the-languageness of "to have a tin ear," here used in the past tense. (Happily, that is the tense most often used by my students: "I used to think that I HAD_A_TIN_EAR, but Michael showed me otherwise.") It's an idiomatic verb phrase equivalent to "to be unable to match pitches accurately" or, by extension, "to not be able to gauge the proper use of language."

    Glimmerglass 8:39 AM  

    This one was extra challenging for me. I wrestled it to the ground (except for AARON vARTER), but it took me a very long time, and cost me several thousand brain cells. So of course I loved it. My only error was the random Roman numeral CII. Does anyone know the numbers of Shakespeare 's sonnets, even if he knows the first lines? (Contemporary pop is not my strong suit.). I never Google, so this beat me.

    Loren Muse Smith 8:41 AM  

    Well, Martin, I did it. I finished one of your Stackies! When TEXAS SIZE fell very early after IRAQ, I threw my pencil down, got another cup of coffee, and thought, "Buckle your seatbelts, sports fans – a Quad Stack Pangram."

    "Miners" before CAVERS
    "Cell options" before CALL OPTIONS. Seriously, right? Buncha crooks.
    "Scar" before NALA
    "Oriole" before ROCKIE, off that final E
    "Bible" before TORAH – Hi, @Moly
    "Sag" before SIN
    "Can I keep it?" before WHAT IS THIS (how 'bout that couple that found all that gold recently?)
    "Supersize" before TEXAS SIZE and hence...
    "Spike" before TORCH
    And then every whichaway to fit "etre, "estar," "serrrr" for VIVRE

    I knew AARON CARTER because years ago, I discovered I could buy a CD with just one song – his Shaq one. I was standing in a long holiday line and remarked delightedly to the people behind me, "This is just like buying a 45!" I was met with utterly blank stares. I might have well have said, "นี้เป็นเหมือนการซื้อ 45!"

    For me, quad stacks were an acquired taste, and I've come to like them. As soon as I accepted that the probable toe-holds were those scary 15's themselves, they became easier. Since I'm lacking the chip that prevents me from repeating myself here, I'll say again that the "push the language envelope" part of me – the part that in college tirelessly worked to come up with viable albeit ridiculous German sentences that ended with SIX or seven verbs - that part of me gets a genuine kick out of MAS Stacks, Krozel White-Outs, Steinberg Alphabet Runs. . . So, @Steve J – I didn't even notice those compromises – as Rex points out: IANA (and I'll add RAMA). And I agree that HAD A TIN EAR sounded contrived (thanks, @Michael for backing that one up), but I loved the clue. Hey, Martin – I'll commission one with HAD BAD BREATH and look forward to your clue.

    Yeah, this guy who decided a FLAUTIST plays a flute. . .is he the same wise guy who had us all pronouncing "pianist" PEE uh nist for years? I'm always tempted to be an unapologetic floutist of those pronunciations.

    MAS – I'll walk taller today, having been so successful, finally, with one of your quad stacks. IVANA medal.

    Unknown 8:48 AM  

    Super tough for me which I actually enjoyed. Proud that I sort of completed it. Messed up when I knew socialite was referring to Trump's ex, but couldn't remember her name. Put IRINA which gave me crosses of RIA and WILT. All legit words. Can I count it as a "close enough" i.e. horsehoes and hand grenades, or even a DNF with an asterisk?

    Garth 8:48 AM  

    @Wreck: I have a time machine in my basement.

    Kim Scudera 8:52 AM  

    DNF today, as the South refused to yield (no surprise: here in Virginia we're still fighting the Civil War/War of Northern Aggression, and scratching our collective heads over Lee-Jackson-King Day in mid-January...)

    Funny how the rest of the grid went in so smoothly:

    IRAQ-->QED and RADII
    AFT-->FLAUTIST-->NATIONALANTHEM--> the remaining members of the quad-stack

    Then utter silence. The occasional cricket (XXX). Then a lot of head-slapping as the sun came up on the BRONX. Then more utter silence. Ah, well...

    Thanks, MAS, for the fun:

    THYME looks so weird when it's just _HYM_

    The pangram-plus: so many X's! And the corners of the puzzle jam-packed with their compadres K, V, Q and J (trying to get as far away as possible from that darned MALARIAPARASITE)

    Great words like RAMA, OJAYS, BRONX, BOTOX, XENIA, ZILCH. ,

    Kim Scudera 8:59 AM  

    @LMS: your story about the "45" -- hilarious! And your medal -- DEORO, of course -- is on its way (on its VIA?)

    Unknown 9:04 AM  

    I usually like quad stacks, but this one was pretty joyless for me. Hard, but not overly so, just nothing to keep me excited. Sigh.

    Z 9:23 AM  

    While I am quite confident that I could disagree with OFL more, I nevertheless disagree.

    You've got two really yucky answers, CII and -IANA. That's it. @Rex throws out the "database management/lip-synching" accusation again, but it is almost as if he does so by reflex. What here seems data-based derived? Nothing I can pick out. This strikes me as a top-notch example of a Friday puzzle.

    Got off to a flying start in the NW, felt almost Mondayish, and thought to myself, "well, this ain't gonna last." I was right. S-EEP/JO- paused me. I wrote in the T and didn't know why. I was somewhere in the puzzle when "OHHhhh, like pickling" occurred to me.

    Had all the corners first, with the quad stack falling next to last and the V in CAVERN/VIVRE being the last letter in. Write-overs in the middle slowed me in the middle - scar before NALA and the juvenile "let me do it" before the pugnacious "let me AT 'EM." NATIONAL ANTHEMS was the first to fall, then EMOTIONAL ---, ---PARASITE, and TRADITIONAL IRAS. Finally had to piece together CAVERS one letter at a time. I had EDITS and RAN but had to fixed mSGT to SSGT. mALL OPTIONS (I had been on the right track with minERS) to CALL OPTIONS, then paring that iDIET to A DIET, and finally VIVRE. QED.

    Beer Rating - Atwater's Vanilla Java Stout - complex, with many different flavors working together. Definitely not for beginners and an acquired taste for many, a definite must try for serious beer/crossword aficionados.

    Z 9:30 AM  

    "paring?" That would be "parsing."

    BTW - I had a quiet chuckle last night while watching some talking heads "misuse" Occam's Razor on MSNBC.

    Anonymous 9:38 AM  

    Save for a few retro-wonks, I suspect there are no people still running Windows NT, hence this is a bad/obsolete clue. My beloved Windows XP system is sadly going out of support in April, and NT hasn't been in use since around 2000 IIRC. This makes me think that either the puzzle has been sitting on the shelf for a loooong time, or someone is not at all tech savvy.

    Anonymous 9:43 AM  

    Been there, solved that. Martin's become a one-trick pony with his quad-schtick. Do something different next time!

    Blue Stater 9:44 AM  

    Worst in quite a while, but it's a crowded field. I'd like to see *one*, *any*, citation from the real world for ROCKIE as the singular of ROCKIES. Disgraceful.

    Norm C. 9:45 AM  

    @retired_chemist (and others) - Shakespeare wrote CLIV sonnets, and the later ones tend to be more pensive ("mournful hymns") than the earlier ones. Knowing that, plus having filled in a few letters in AARON's last name made the C pretty obvious. Maybe one step up from a completely RRN.

    Finished w/o errors, but it took a while and a lot of jumping around the grid. Ultimately satisfying.

    Thanks, MAS; stay warm, fellow north-easterners, and TGIF to all.

    Bisch 9:45 AM  

    If you want to criticize the puzzle, that's fine. But suggesting (for what I believe is not the first time) that Martin simply relies on databases instead of carefully crafting his puzzles strikes me as insulting, petty, and willfully ignorant. We get it. You don't like quad stacks or the database-using hacks who make them. Perhaps have a guest reviewer pinch-hit for you on quad-stack days.

    Mohair Sam 9:52 AM  

    Medium-challenging here too. Loved it. Another beauty from @Martin Ashwood-Smith. Keep stackin' 'em.

    Great cluing, loved the way the XXX fills without scrabble f---ing. Apparently Rex hasn't heard of the dog watch, many of us have - it is a Friday after all. Loved the TMEN clue - I had gMEN there for way to long. Nice cross on HIGHNOTES and HADATINEAR (my wife got that off the H).

    Never heard of AARONCARTER but he filled nicely. However FLAUTIST was a gimme here and helped greatly with the quad stack. James Galway is to the flute as Babe Ruth is to the baseball, imho.

    Somebody in the CrossWorld please tell Will Shortz to ignore the Rex's of the world - a lot of us really enjoy triple and quad stack puzzles - they make a nice change of pace.

    pmdm 9:54 AM  

    AliasZ: The miniature piano piece you reference is a favorite of musicologist and radio host David Dubal who played it many times on his program featuring piano miniatures.

    For those who are interested, atonal music is not necessarily harsh and strident. Using the whole-tone scale (as Debussy did) enables a composer to compose atonal music that sounds lush and gorgeous. What Lizst does (to get technical) is making heavy use of the interval of a perfect fifth in his piece. (The first two notes of the West Side Story song Maria are a perfect fifth apart. The last two notes of the none note Dragnet theme song are also a perfect fifth apart.) Many years ago, I recall an Acrostic puzzle in the Sunday Magazine whose quote centered on the diminished chord, a combination of two perfect fifths. But let me avoid getting too technical (that is, boring).

    Christus is a magnificent and underplayed work. Like Handel's Messiah Oratorio, the Christus Oratorio is divided into three parts. Each is divided into three parts. Unlike the three part of Messiah (advent, birth and passion, resurrection), Liszt divides the sections into birth, public life, and death and resurrection. The penultimate number is a short and simple setting of the Easter hymn Ye Sons and Daughters. To my ears, the appearance of this setting after the music that precedes it is one of the great moments of classical music. I hope this gives some of you the incentive to seek the music out.

    Norm 10:08 AM  

    A good workout. Not particularly enjoyable.

    mathguy 10:13 AM  

    We all seem to like puzzles for different reasons. I get a lot of satisfaction in solving a bear, like this one. The only four-letter crosses I had for the quad stack were TMEN and ATEM, so I had a rush when NATIONALANTHEMS popped into my head.

    As I've learned from reading this blog, the crosses of a quad stack are often junky. That helps me guess what they are.

    Unlike some of the impenetrable British cryptics which have defeated me, I have confidence that if I stare at a NYT puzzle long enough I'll be able to get it, almost always without Googling.

    chefbea 10:15 AM  

    tough puzzle. Googled a lot and DNF. Haven't read all the comments so maybe this has been mentioned...
    Steep and pickle are not the same. You steep tea..and you pickle veggies such as beets!!!

    Notsofast 10:19 AM  

    To me, MAS puzzles are made for googling. Not how I do puzzles. His cluing just makes me shake my head. I'll just pass next time I see his name, thanks.

    Sir Hillary 10:29 AM  

    Quad stacks notwithstanding, @Rex might appreciate the MAS puzzle linked to by @George Barany, due to the long across entry at the very bottom.

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:32 AM  

    Really liked this puzzle, but DNF. Worked my way around, slowly but seemingly accurately until I ran aground with 5 A and 15 A incomplete. Didn't help that I had 5 D as SELL OPTIONS. Hard for me to change an eleven letter answer that looks perfectly right! (And counting, I see this is a 15x16; hadn't noticed before.) Felt pressed for time, Googled 15 A, but even that didn't save me, since I had gotten into my head that 7 D must be LIVRE (looks like a foreign word to me!) Just gave up at that point.

    Going off the grid for a few days; see you before the ACPT.

    Questinia 10:37 AM  

    A. Liked the puzzle.
    B. Love quad stacks.
    C. Data-based. I recently did a puzzle from 2008 that contained many of the same answers perhaps that is what @Rex is referring to?

    Anonymous 10:41 AM  

    Dear Rex,

    There may be 250 species of Plasmodia but there are basically five human malarial infections. Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium malariae and the really, really nasty Plasmodium falciparum (causes black water fever). The fifth is Plasmodium knowlesi which mostly affects macaque monkeys and apparently is not generally too bad except in some severe adult infections. I have seen the three of the first four in my practice. I was not familiar with P. knowlesi until today.
    As you can notice from the length, two of them will end up in quad stacks some day.


    BTW, I read your blog daily and enjoy many of your technical construction comments. They help me appreciate the puzzles at a deeper level. However, I enjoyed this puzzle (as well as the vast majority of NYT offerings) and I personally am very thankful that there is such a diverse group of truly gifted constructors out there.

    Malsdemare 10:50 AM  

    @Z. How does one misuse Occam's razor? Try to shave with it? It's a pretty straightforward concept.

    The puzzle was a workout, which is why I do crossword puzzles. I like clever clueing because it makes my brain flexible, I like odd stuff that's in my wheelhouse (I got FLAUTIST) 'cause it makes me feel smart, and I have no problem googling since that teaches me new things.

    Thanks, Martin.

    Unknown 11:01 AM  

    Two hours, 12 googles, limped home with a pretty good complete grid, and then discovered 6 errors. C'mon!

    [Bond Bit] IOu, which makes sense rather than ION, which means "not bonded." @retired_chemist, care to comment?

    [Bombers locale] BROuX, which I figured was French for "mid fuselage"

    [Modern-day locale of ancient Nineveh] IRAn. Just a guess.
    [Terse admission] ImIt rather than IDID.
    [Last thing seen by a proof reader?] nEt, which isn't -30-, but there may be other traditions for ending copy. QED does make more sense here.
    [Cuts into a pizza, often] RAmII, and I didn't notice this was nonsensical. RADII makes more sense.

    I spend LEGIONS of time happily solving around [When the first dogwatch ends] sixpm, since eighteen hundred hours wouldn't fit. Anyone else? That had to be right. Wikipedia said so. It meant that [Text with Numbers] wasn't the bible and it wasn't TORAH, either. At what point do you abandon an answer you know to be right for, in this case, a lesser answer ATSIX ?? As I kept my faith in sixpm, I pressed harder and harder with the crosses. I suspect the experienced solvers (@jae?) abandoned it after 2 or 3 minutes.

    Today I learned that Liszt was a priest and that KAHN was an architect, that FLAUTIST plays the flute so that FLOUTIST is free for less agreeable pursuits, and that some mother named her son AARONCARTER. Intellectual payoff was less than a LIVINGWAGE. Thanks for very little, MAS, you dodger.

    OISK 11:12 AM  

    Struggled, finished it, am satisfied. Never heard of the ODAYS until they appeared in the Times puzzle, about OMONTH ago. Don't know who the Backstreet Boys are - are they anything like the Bowery Boys?- so certainly never heard of Aaron Carter. Wanted answer to be Lynda Carter. But, I can't expect to escape pop culture entirely, nor product clues (Adidas and NTS), so this puzzle was fine. I also enjoyed being fooled by Dodgers' foes, first writing METS and then CUBS, before realizing there are no four letter teams beginning with "T". Liked the clue for National Anthems as well. Thanks, MAS. And I really like quad stacks.

    GILL I. 11:34 AM  

    About 4 years ago whenever I saw "That British sounding name" as the constructor, I'd feel a twinge of sympathy for myself. Today I still feel a twinge or two but by golly I can now finish a MAS....albeit very slowly and usually with a few errors.
    Several things held me up but in particular I couldn't get Old Bay out of my head for a THYME. I also had ROCKet and just left it and getting WALT was the most difficult answer for me...
    Love Carlitos VIA because I loved that movie and I also love Al Pacino. See, I'm just full of love today.
    @Michael Hanko pretty much said what I thought of this puzzle. Keep on stacking Martin....

    Michael Hanko 11:34 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    John V 11:41 AM  

    Got the top and a bit of the stack. No clue about AARON what's his name, so got stuck there, unable to cross into the South. Also had AMOEBICPARASITE, which was no help to my cause.

    I think 15 stacks are fine, in proportion, which is what we got here. I couldn't crack them, but that's okay, too. A very fine puzzle.

    Anonymous 11:41 AM  

    pmdm: Maria begins with a tritone, not a perfect fifth.

    Ray J 11:57 AM  

    Jean O’Conor’s pesto instruction puzzle of Nov. 13 last year provoked quite a discussion here with RADII clued up as pizza cuts. Not a peep about it today. Weird.

    I liked the puzzle but that little SW corner nearly did me in. My brain wanted leoNA for the socialite. Stupid brain!

    Z 12:03 PM  

    "A Perfect Fifth?" Glenfiddich.

    @Blue Stater - About 21 comments before yours is a real world example.

    @anonymous John 10:41 - "Plasmodium Knowlesi" looks like something that would effect the commentariat. I see it is a real MALARIA PARASITE. Who knew?

    @Malsdemare - at least one person thought I misused it. He was wrong. So I found it personally amusing to hear it used in the same way I had.

    @Casco Kid sans San - I had no idea what a Dogwatch is but guessed that AM or PM would be part of the answer. My ignorance helped me discard that notion pretty quickly. Too much knowledge can slow you down almost as much as too little when doing xwords.

    @OISK - Lynda before AARON any ODAY of the week.

    Unknown 12:28 PM  

    My critical comment on this one is the cluing for 40 across, "Many of THEM PLAY at the Olympics" (emphasis mine, answer National Anthems). Really threw me with the poor grammar. national anthems don't play anything, they ARE PLAYED. Would it have been so hard to have the clue read "Many of THEM ARE PLAYED at the Olympics"? At least that makes sense.

    wreck 12:31 PM  

    ... or any OJAY of the week?

    retired_chemist 12:33 PM  

    @Casco Kid - you are correct and incorrect simultaneously.:-)

    ION translates from the Greek (as I recall) as "wanderer," and indeed ions as solutes are more or less free to "wander" throughout the solution. One for your side. Yet in crystals, or in gas phase, ions are electrostatically held together in something we call the ionic bond. One for MA-S.

    Unknown 12:42 PM  

    @Z For a glimpse into the life of an underachieving rust-belt-state college lit professor who suffers slings, arrows, and unkindest cuts from colleages, students and deans all wildly wielded OCCAMSRAZORs, I recommend Richard Russo's "Straight Man." Free bonus: water fowl! No, it is not an ERNE, EGRET, or IBIS. Russo delivers one guffaw per paragraph. "Nobody's Fool" is *almost* as funny.

    Unknown 12:56 PM  

    @retired_professor By rule, if there is a context in which a clue-answer pairing is sensible, then the clue is acceptable. Misdirects are, after all, the name of the game. I concede the point and thank you for your attention to the matter.

    I haven't heard gas-phase ion-ion "neutrals" referred to as bonded, but I suppose that is what they are. My involvement with gas phase ions is from the analytical side (mass spec) not the physical chemical or organic side where "bonding" and "bond energies" are part of the regular discussion, I suppose.

    Masked and Anonymo1Us 12:56 PM  

    4-Oh plays the "moral authority" crossword entry card! Made my day. Kinda like @muse45 and acme darlin, knew there'd be hootin and high steppin in these parts, when I saw the quad stacks and that there pan-word status.

    Middle area was extra hard, cuz TMEN had a real tough clue. Got SETS, at the other end mighty quick, at least. Also, never have met anyone named Edwardiana. Does she have high morals? Did know IVANA. Also, really really Wanted FLuUTIST. But that's probably just m&e. I'm more of a purt authority dude, as it were...

    weejects authority: Like the NTS + CII row just fine. Wouldn't change a thing, there.

    Really, what with all the morals and authority that this puz is tryin to exude, the fill is pretty day-um solid. Nice job, MAS. (Moral Authority Smith). But, about that U count...

    Moral & Authority

    Z 1:03 PM  

    @wreck - If one had never heard of the OJAYS then OdAYS/dOT makes just as much sense. If one puns on OdAY with OMONTH, who am I to quibble. And who can possibly argue with Lynda over AARON?

    M and Also 1:19 PM  

    For any of U excellent solvers who crave a little less morals and authority in yer puzs...

    (Sorry, not as stacked as U were probably hopin for.)


    Anonymous 1:22 PM  

    Somebody's got to say it. A tritone is an augmented fourth, i.e. C to F#. It exactly divides an octave in half.

    mac 1:24 PM  

    Since I decided not to let them intimidate them anymore, I have enjoyed stacks. In fact, Had a tin ear and the quad stack were filled in first. It was the
    little stuff I had a lot more trouble with.

    Miner for caver, Raider, Ranger, Rockey before Rockie, and I thought it was Papa Liszt, but I realize that was Haydn.

    The hardest part of the puzzle to me was the ATP, NTs and anti-riot bit. I couldn't parse it for the longest time.

    Nice workout.

    Sandy K 1:36 PM  

    I'm with the "loved it" vector- enjoyed the variety and quality of the

    Many HIGH NOTES. A LOT of tricky cluing EVOKing "WHAT IS THIS?" ... then the aha moments.

    Fave- XXX
    Unfave- parsing out TRADITION A LIRAS.

    Acme 2:01 PM  

    IVANA medal! LOL!
    About ten years ago (yikes) I had a "turning 45" bday and asked folks to bring a 45 to my dance party.
    (my dream was to buy a jukebox and fill it with my Beatles and whatever else people brought)
    Even then, half my pals were unfamiliar with 45 records... One brought a large beer and another brought a gun! ;)

    Speaking of 45s, For goodness sake, someone pls embed the OJAYS "Backstabbers" and everyone will realize they know the song!

    By the way, it's not just that i love pangrams for pangrams sake, today was a perfect example where The Q, Z, and J helped me avoid IRAn, led me immediately to ZILCH (or ZIppo), and Jogged my memory on the OJAYS.
    Plus helped with the XXX corner where I started with twoam!
    Awareness of a pangram would have helped the OdAYS crowd finish correctly.

    I feel your "ouch". It's a slap at constructors, esp those distinct enough to have a recognizable style in this world of leftoff bylines. Glad you can defend yourself with wit and style...sorry you even have to.
    This should be a celebration of your work today.

    Bummed about folks who even tho they might not have liked today's puzzle can not appreciate the artistry and extreme difficulty of making one! And you've made hundreds!
    (As someone who can not stack 7s, I revere you and love solving your puzzles. )

    Numinous 2:45 PM  

    I hated this puzzle. And I hate this term but I have to say this, for some unknowable reason, was so far out of my WHEELHOUSE I was at a loss. Looking back over it, I have to admire how well it was done. I have a couple of issues with some of the cluing and a few of the solutions but overall, I must say this is admirable.

    TEXAS SIZE seems so contrived to me. I wanted MAD or NUTSO for the Liszt clue but they wouldn't fit. I had no idea he'd ever been ordained. Thanks @AliasZ for the bagatelle. I think I'll have to listen to a buncha Liszt now since I've never thought much about him in the past.

    MALARIA PARASITE? Egad. I'll take Martin's and @Rex's words that it's a real phrase though and I have to be grateful to one. When I was at the begining of my career as an editor, I worked as an assistant to a guy who had been a Horse Guard in England (one of those guys in a red jacket and a shiny breastplate on a horse holding a sabre). While on deployment as an armoured unit (yeah, they're real british army too), my boss contracted malaria. Once one has it, it recurs. He hit a patch of on and off fevers which left me doing his job editing stories for the current affairs show we worked on and that led to a promotion for me.

    The NW came very easily for me and, as someone already said, I knew it wouldn't last. It didn't. I got FLAUTIST straight off. I thought of DOGMA but didn't enter it for a long time. I tried broncos before ROCKIE, just wasn't thinking, I guess. The rest was like trying to climb a greased pole in a rubber catsuit.

    So, as well as learning about Liszt's music, I'm going to try to find as many MAS puzzles as I can and work on figuring out how he thinks. I don't really HATE this puzzle, I hate the way it defeated me so absolutely.

    Two Ponies 3:01 PM  

    I got the north and middle fairly easily but Aaron who? really messed me up. I had many of the same missteps as @mac (as usual).

    I love it when a constructor stops by. Thanks for the insight Martin and thanks for a heavy workout.

    Numinous 3:05 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    jae 3:09 PM  

    @AliasZ - Thanks for the Lizst info. I also did not know he was ordained.

    @casco - I don't think I even put SIXpm in the grid. I had BRONX and realized that M_X was not going to work for 62a. I just left that area blank until TORAH appeared.

    @Andrea - Backstabber

    Numinous 3:10 PM  

    A fifth is perfect. @Z, Tobermory! What NUTSO used is as @Anonymous 1:22 said, an augmented fourth. Diabolo in musica, the devil in music which is probably why Liszt liked it.

    Z 3:20 PM  

    @Numinous - I've never been to the Isle of Mull. Will have to see if my local fine wine, beer, and spirits establishment carries it.

    @CascoKid - I've added the title to my Nook Library. I'm a wee bit behind, but it is in the queue.

    LaneB 3:44 PM  

    Top and bottom thirds completed, but drew a complete blank on the quad stack.--made impossible by misidentifying NALA (zazu) and going brain dead on the more get table TMEN, ALOT, RILE and SETS. AS usual the difficulty is always a function of the clues and these were particularly obscure. Fill such as ATP, CII andNTS most irritating.

    I,d love to watch the pros do this one in the short times they report. It might cure my skepticism

    Fred Romagnolo 3:50 PM  

    got north first, south second, and really struggled with the middle. hate to google, but will use ref. works. simply looked up sonnets, after figuring the "c"; am pretty much with Rex on these kinds of puzzles, but can't help being satisfied when I get one

    mac 3:54 PM  

    Thank you, @jae, I do know that! Sounds a little like Boss Skaggs.

    dk 3:59 PM  

    🌕🌕🌕 (3 Moons) Call me A SAP but I like it.

    I have combed my Bond files and find no reference to ION.

    I over-thought much of this puzzle. Beginning with no way 1D could be IRISH on a Friday and ending with no way STOREFRONT

    I suppose the whole puzzle by hand puzzle by other means is like the digital v. film discussions -- pointless as all we want is a good puzzle.

    This is a very good puzzle.

    Nerd moment: Penning in ATP without a second thought. Thank you transfer RNA.

    sanfranman59 4:26 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 25:35, 21:04, 1.21, 86%, Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Fri 17:18, 12:11, 1.42, 94%, Challenging

    gringa 5:04 PM  

    Managed not to google anything. I love it when, by dint of cerebration, the puzzle slowly but surely falls. Literally chipping away at this thing.

    Loved OJAYS. pre-disco funk brought back my youth.

    Got a bittersweet smile with WALT, my Dad's name, who died a little over a year ago because, we always used to call each other with "hey, did you get 17across?" In his last month with the brain cancer far advanced and he could no longer read or hold a pen, I would read him the clues and he would do his best to answer.

    One clue was "Andy's friend". When he said Opie instead of Amos, i felt like he had lost it, only to realize that it sort of made sense.

    I was proud of myself for getting the answer to the clue "kcal and inches". And got "units" ie: units of measure. Dad was the engineer science type and I was the literary type. Usually I leaned on him for the science answers.

    Thanks for the blog Rex. WALT ist mein HERR.

    H.Bob 5:24 PM  

    My only contribution here is to tell my TEXAS-SIZE joke:
    If Texans don't stop bragging about how big Texas is, Alaskans will cut their state in half, and then Texas will be the third-largest state.

    Dolgoruky 5:26 PM  

    NOBODY who keeps up with the musical world says "flautist" anymore!

    retired_chemist 5:52 PM  

    And then there was the Texan who died. He was so big they couldn't find a coffin large enough to bury him in, so they gave him an enema and buried him in a shoebox.

    OISK 7:23 PM  

    So…I have a technical DNF, since the "Backstabbers " were the Ojays, not the Odays, not that I could possibly have known this, and DOT is just as good as JOT for "minim" . No, I have never heard of "Backstabbers," and am quite sure I wouldn't recognize it; by 1972 I was able to avoid rock completely. It does peeve me to hit a Natick far away from the quad stack, after getting everything else…

    I could say that my rage was dramatic
    And I stomped in a matter emphatic
    When my wandering gaze
    Saw the answer "OJAYS,"
    And I knew I'd succumbed to a Natick!

    (Don't mean to start these up again, my last one, I promise. It just fit my mood)

    MetaRex 8:10 PM  

    Thx much to MAS for the puzz and to him and/or Will for the cluing...enjoyed falling for the misdirections on "People down under" and "Couldn't hit pitches"...had MAORIS before CAVERS and had HAD A BAD EYE before correcting my vision and getting a tin ear instead...

    Garth 8:11 PM  

    @Dolgoruky: The word "flautist" is still commonly used in the orchestral and studio musician world and in academia.

    Elle54 8:22 PM  

    Just finished! I love when i can solve a Friday no matter how long it takes! Thanks MAS!

    michael 9:07 PM  

    I liked the puzzle and found it of about average difficulty for a Friday. DNF -- couldn't remember NTS or ATP (kept trying ACP for some reason) and didn't see anti-riot. Never heard of Aaron Carter, but got it from crosses (and guessing Carter).

    Didn't seem particularly database-like to me and I am glad that MAS defended himself.

    acme 9:09 PM  

    @Thanks, Jae 3:09pm!
    check out that comment.
    Once again, I'll say if you suspected there was a pangram and didn't know O?AYS/?OT, J would be the only letter missing from the grid, et voila!

    @gringa 5:04pm
    Very moving.
    Heartfelt connections triggered by puzzles goes a long way to mitigate the, um, nonheartfelt observations here.

    adicecream 9:20 PM  

    Took me a while while watching food network but I got it all.....and I did like this puzzle. The first time thru I only got Rockies, but persevered and eventually the words came easily. I like quad stacks!

    Of course my daughter's telling me Aaron Carter went a long way.

    Unknown 9:31 PM  

    Relatively easy for me for a Friday until I hit the mid-south/Texas area. Had to google to find Aaron Carter and get a toehold there. Texas-size was eluding me, even though I was thinking of it as the Texas area of the puzzle. Doh!

    Put me down as one who likes quad stacks. Enjoyed doing it and I listened to the musical sound of rain (finally!) falling here in Southern California.

    Davis 9:55 PM  

    NTS as a plural is junk. Yes, Windows NT is a thing. But NTs is not how you refer to multiple NT boxes--just like how we don't say "95s", "XPs", or "7s".

    Overall, the stuff that annoyed me in the puzzle won out over the stuff I liked. It seems like the quad stack was what was supposed to do the heavy lifting in this puzzle, and the 15s in it were too flimsy to carry that weight. And as with all pangrams, I didn't notice this was one until I came here.

    Some day I will click with a MAS puzzle, but that day is not today.

    Consistent 10:59 PM  

    i wish i could've been on some game show where, after seeing the constructor's name, i could've put all my money on "a puzzle that rex will insult unfairly" i'd be so rich.

    the only thing that surprised me about this one is that i finished it and then found challenging ratings here. ive only finished about 5 fridays ever and almost all of those were PBs.

    there wasnt much garbage, contrary to the opinion of some, and the cluing was very enjoyable and made up for alot of the marginal stuff like xxx and ods. the crossworld would be a worse place indeed if we didnt have MAS to kick around anymore.

    I skip M-W 11:17 PM  

    For some reason I did this in pen in the paper this evening, rather than on my iPad last night. I enjoyed this puzzle, MAS. Was afraid I would find it too easy when Iraq-Irish went right in, but then the fun began. Was a little disappointed by traditional IRA poking it's head up again so soon. ( Couldn't it have been clued with "not the Provisionals" ?) I suppose the idea of something traditional having been introduced in 1975 is amusing. Have been using Macs since 90, so NT, and other Windows titles are as obscure as Aaron Carter and the Ojays, but somehow these all fell into my non-TexasSize lap. Never saw the Lion King, so Nala had to come from crosses, but easily did. Of course National anthems play at the Olympics, over loudspeakers. Now studying piano, so glad to learn about Liszt. Despite lack of electronic verification, got it right, always a happy feeling.

    Anonymous 12:14 AM  

    "i wish i could've been on some game show where, after seeing the constructor's name, i could've put all my money on "a puzzle that rex will insult unfairly" i'd be so rich."

    Yeah. In fact, Rex outright (and proudly!) admitted to prejudging the puzzle in his writeup, so I took his opinion even less seriously than usual. What really saddens me, though, is that MAS actually does care what Rex thinks. :( That's got to be a drain on a constructor's soul.

    KD 12:29 AM  

    Finished with one ridiculous mistake: AARON VARTER. Because, I reasoned, how could anyone write over 100 sonnets??

    Very proud of that.

    sanfranman59 1:17 AM  

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

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

    Mon 6:19, 6:18, 1.00, 52%, Medium
    Tue 6:27, 8:16, 0.78, 1%, Easy (3rd lowest ratio of 220 Tuesdays)
    Wed 8:10, 10:14, 0.80, 7%, Easy
    Thu 15:06, 18:09, 0.83, 20%, Easy-Medium
    Fri 25:43, 21:04, 1.22, 87%, Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 4:19, 4:00, 1.08, 82%, Challenging
    Tue 4:06, 5:13, 0.79, 0%, Easy (Lowest ratio of 220 Tuesdays)
    Wed 5:07, 6:17, 0.81, 6%, Easy (13th lowest ratio of 217 Wednesdays)
    Thu 8:56, 10:24, 0.86, 22%, Easy-Medium
    Fri 15:32, 12:11, 1.27, 86%, Challenging

    Oldbizmark 7:27 AM  

    Really enjoyed this puzzle. Top 2/3s played medium for me. Got stuck in the SW for a while. Thought the cluing was great. Totally disagree with Rex.

    Anonymous 1:37 PM  

    Are there any cups of tea that belong to Rex Parker?

    - Joe DiPietro

    pmdm 2:03 PM  

    Sorry. My brain must have been fried, In my post, whenever I wrote "perfect fifth" I meant tritone, the devil's interval. Thanks for noting the correction.

    Nancy 6:22 PM  

    Also had DOT for JOT and ODAYs for OJAYS. And because I had PERCH instead of TORCH for "Spelunker's aid", I had a P for a T and didn't get TEXAS SIZE.

    Bob Kerfuffle 8:08 PM  

    @M&A - Just got home, first thing I did was Kiddie Pool Krossword #103.

    Ouch! I may have guessed at 40% of the answers. Had to use a lot of "Reveal current word." But I still love those little gems.

    spacecraft 1:04 PM  

    I too wondered if this was really Friday when the NW popped in so readily; ditto the NE. The middle was a bit more recalcitrant, until I realized that "They play" can mean the same thing as "They are played," which is the more familiar. With NATIONALANTHEMS as a start, I managed to work it all out, and "got 'er done," with apologies to Larry.

    ROCKIES, OK, but is just one of them really a "ROCKIE?" I guess that's legit; if I love rock'n'roll, could you call me a ROCKIE? But Sly is frowning.

    TORAH to TORCH...I'm seeing a word ladder here. Lessee, PORCH PARCH MARCH MARSH HARSH...

    Strangely, I had less trouble than I should have on a couple of these. "Finder's query" had me putting in WHATISTHIS(?) after only a few letters. Same thing with TEXASSIZE, even though I didn't bother to count the down squares at 50 and had ZERO inked in before even noticing that extra space. ZILCH became my only w/o, just a bit of carelessness.

    HADATINEAR was a nice aha! moment, once I got out of baseball and into music. XXX was a lot of fun. The visual shows me a jug of moonshine, though, not a movie rating. Don't know why FLAUTIST was a problem for some; it's just an artsy variant of FLUTIST, also perfectly acceptable. It's like pronouncing "aunt" as ONT. Stick out that pinky, now!

    Full house, ATSIXes.

    DMG 4:58 PM  

    Labored over this one. Unknown singer, unknown R&B group, unknown Wall Street thing, and is IVANA really a socialite? Wanted Nancy Astor or some such. So much to ferret out, and so much to accept that what I got was right. In the end, I managed all except the down under guys, (wanted car mechanics or some such) and the Wall Street thing, which, of course, Naticked at AT? And shouldn't street view be STOREFRONTS?

    My two pair folds to,@Spacecraft

    Dirigonzo 6:27 PM  

    I thought this was a perfect Friday puz - I like my puzzles (among other things) stacked, with lots of HIGHNOTES! Thank you @MAS (for you comment as well as the puzzle). I needed a couple of lucky guesses to finish and for once, against all odds, I guessed right both times (although I still regret having to give up on AARONfARTER).

    Fives over twos won't win anything today.

    Shax 4:56 PM  

    What @Acme said-each time. Loved this puzzle

    Unknown 3:06 AM  

    You have done a great work. Thanks for making this blog. You helped me a lot on my research topic. Keep it up guys!

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