Ruess lead singer of Fun / FRI 4-11-14 / Eastern hereditary title / Home of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park / Target of 1972 ban / Daddy Warbucks's henchman / Order of ancient Greeks / Planet whose inhabitants age backward / 3 O'clock blues hitmaker 1952

Friday, April 11, 2014

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: KURTIS Blow (29D: Rapper ___ Blow) —
Kurt Walker (born August 9, 1959), professionally known by his stage name Kurtis Blow, is an Americanrapper and record producer. He is the first commercially successful rapper and the first to sign with a majorrecord label. "The Breaks", a single from his 1980 debut album, is the first certified gold record rap song. (wikipedia)

• • •

Delightful. Little easier than Medium for me today, but PW frequently serves up crossword fare that is right in my sweet spot, and today was no exception. I had no idea the dude from fun. was named NATE (38A: ___ Ruess, lead singer of Fun). Other than that, though, the answers were all pretty familiar to me. Baseball season just started (FACE MASKS), I bought "The Metamorphosis" on a lark in the Phoenix airport last week (KAFKAESQUE), I live next door to Johnson City, NY, Home of the SQUARE DEAL, I own the 12" single of KURTIS Blow's "The Breaks," there was a TED TALK(S) on my campus this past month, etc. Despite a pretty decent free-fall mid-solve, where I had some but not all of the answers in the center and for some reason just couldn't budge, I put this thing away in the low 6s.

You can really tell how difficult the wide open spaces are to fill well by looking at this puzzle—the middle is fine, but with the exception of KAFKAESQUE (which feels like it must've been a seed answer) (32A: Maddeningly surreal), it pales in comparison to the much snappier and more varied NW and SE corners. Not only do several answers end -ERS, almost every answer is a plural. Look at that diagonal of Ss from the end for MCS (46A: Runs the show, for short) running NE for … well, forever. I certainly don't care that much. The answers don't have that horrible forced, made-up quality that you sometimes see in these big white spaces. But the heavy reliance on plurals shows you how hard it is to cover that much ground without having your fill quality start to sag and groan.

I started with ORE, BLADES, and CZAR, which gave me the B and K to get the BACK in MOVE BACK and the R, L and Z to get I REALIZE, and things took off from there. Once I threw those long Acrosses into the center, I thought for sure I'd keep flying, but despite getting FAT CATS, FACE MASKS, PACKERS, and starting work on the NE, I had empty patches in the middle and couldn't get into the SW. The patches, it turns out, had the golden Initial Ks in them. No hope for KATE MOSS (34D: Model introduced in the 1990s) or KINESCOPE (32D: Part of a TV archive) or KITTENS without them. Eventually pieced together KAFKAESQUE after checks of all the crosses determined -KAES- had to be right. Let me tell you, nothing like getting KAFKAESQUE to open your grid right up. Initial K was what allowed me access to the SW, and that Q got me down into the SE. Finished both the NE and SW in an eye blink. SE I had to wrestle a little, as NATE and DORIC and DIVEST and DUPED and CODE proved very slippery. Luckily, all the longer Acrosses down there were a relative cinch.

Spring Break! (for me, anyway)

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Mark 12:01 AM  

Gotta love a puzzle that was seeded from KAFKAESQUE in the middle.

Unknown 12:24 AM  

Gave up after 90 minutes. Ungettable, even with googles. Had hymn for NOEL after googling the title. Had ANN conflicting with sOHO and hymn. Never heard of NOHO so I got rid of ANN and looked for some obscure 3-letter Kate Couric nickname _SH. Never saw TOOTOO. Worked with _____clip for the TV footage.

I also took the fake at High beams with brights before yielding to give room for orphaNS to be adopted.

But I got the NW and SE corners with little resistance. That was good as the clues had misdirect but only one answer that fit. Center diagonal had misdirects with a highly degenerate answer space.

With all of the misdirection and bad guesses KAFKAESQUE was my experience, but not a solution.

Medium-hard unsolvable because I would never have gotten NOEL for hymn even with another 10 hours of googling. But a much better experience than yesterday's Ute nonsense.

okanaganer 12:28 AM  

Once again I'm gobsmacked by how useless my formal education is for crosswords. I have a degree in physics, yet would never think to put in DELTA RAY for 17A. ELECTRON: yes; ALPHA RAY: maybe (although ALPHA PARTICLE is the proper term, as it is matter rather than electromagnetic). BETA RAYS would also fit if the clue were plural (a beta ray is an electron).

Per Wikipedia, DELTA RAY seems mainly used when discussing products of particle accelerators. Or something to be watch out for when tinkering with the warp engines on the Starship Enterprise.

Not that it really slowed me down, this puzzle was nice and tight, and continues the trend of a very fast week.

Anonymous 12:34 AM  

As a Minnesota sports fan, I love the Vikings / Packers clue / answer

okanaganer 12:34 AM  

Speaking of radiation, Google's autocomplete led me to stumble upon
this lovely warning sign.

wreck 12:43 AM  

Under an hour with only a couple of Googles was pretty satisfying for me on a Friday! There were a lot of plurals -- but they help me!

wreck 12:46 AM  


I think that sign gets the point across in any language!! That's funny!

jae 12:58 AM  

Easy-medium  for me leaning more towards easy.  GammA before DELTA was about it for erasures.  I knew BB KING, but did not know NATE (as clued, Silver yes, Ruess no) or KURTIS.  Fortunately, the T was pretty obvious.   Solid puzzle,  just a tad too easy.  Liked it.

jae 1:00 AM  

@Casco - NOHO - North of Houston in Manhatten. Learned it from crosswords.

Unknown 1:40 AM  

@jae yes, I learned of NOHO tonight. It's existence is inferrable, but the Bowery wiki entry doesn't name it explicitly as it does sOHO. Also, the Katie Couric wiki entry doesn't give an ISH-like nickname, either, explicitly. It is simply a question if deciding which wiki to read on a deep inferential level --Bowery or Couric -- and which to decide is a false lead. You pros have excellent instinct there. I'm just groping. The right approach is like an Easter egg . . . hidden one county over. Come to think of it, this puzzle was pretty absurdly unsolvable, too.

wreck 1:44 AM  

.... not to be confused with DUMBO ("Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass")
I had SOHO at first too! ;)

Questinia 1:49 AM  

Same as @ jae right down to the gamma.

Friday's NOHO is Monday's SOHO.
Saturday it's NOLITA.

Steve J 2:00 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve J 2:03 AM  

Meh. And that's a generous meh.

Big points in its favor for KAFKAESQUE, KINESCOPE and the clue for BLUE JEANS.

Big deductions for the clue for I REALIZE (and for I REALIZE itself), the orgy of S's running across the middle (at least none of the plurals in that section was forced) and IOTAS (whose plural was forced).

Massive deductions for FACEMASKS as clued (catchers' masks are always referred to as, well, catchers' masks; facemasks are worn in football and sometimes hockey) and POPE LEO X (random popes are bad enough; now we have to add their obvious titles too?).

In the end, I disliked the stuff I, um, disliked much more intensely than the stuff I liked. Add in that this just didn't flow for me at all, and this was not terribly fun. Thankfully there was some good stuff to pull it out of the realm of complete slog.

(One thing I'm just not grokking: HAS as an answer for "Orders in a restaurant". Can someone enlighten me?)

Mark 2:05 AM  

@Steve J HAS is one of the many synonyms for "eat"; what you order in a restaurant is what you "have" (eat)

Steve J 2:10 AM  

@Mark: I knew it would be a forehead-slapping moment when I got an explanation, and sure enough ... I just couldn't let go of "orders" as a noun, never reading it as a verb. Thanks.

jae 2:37 AM  

errata - ManhattAn -- I'm not counting this on my 3 and out.

chefwen 2:40 AM  

Had to love a puzzle that has my and @Carola's favorite team in it. The Pack will be back. Sorry @JFC, we need to have a bet this year.

Salty before CURED @47A and tiny before GORY @31A. I think that was it.

Loving this week!. Thank you Peter and Will.

Moly Shu 3:28 AM  

Fairly easy here also. Bears and Lions didn't fit, had to be PACKERS. That and KURTIS (super gimme for me) gave me KAFKAESQUE and the whole east side fell. Same problems as @CascoKid, sOHO and hymn at first but corrected by TOOTOO. Couldn't see MOVE at 1a for a while which was my only other small hangup. Oh, that and LAPDANCERS at first (not really, just wishful thinking)

Liked it. Surely tomorrow will be a struggle after the easiness of the week so far.

Danp 6:20 AM  

KAFKAESQUE - Metamorphosis - Ovid-Titus Andronicus - Shakespeare- Taming of the Shrew - Kiss Me Kate- KATE(Moss)- XES - DUPED -SHEDTEARS - MOVEBACK- NOVELLA - ?

Either the Gosslins are getting back together, or I'm overthinking this one.

Ted Cole 7:07 AM  

Isn't "a pair" of Dos Equis redundant?subseam

Greg 7:26 AM  

Working off the K, I severely overthought the "Foe of the Vikings" clue and convinced myself with eriKson. As in Leif Erikson. Foe of? Well, I guess I decided that he was a foe of the Vikings in the sense that Adrian Peterson is a foe "of the Vikings" from the perspective of other NFC North teams? At any rate, major setback.

Generic Solver 8:07 AM  

Pop culture Natick: "Nate" crossed with "Kurtis". As a semi-pro, somewhat contemporary musician, I've never heard of the band "Fun", and almost anything having to do with rap is trouble for me.

Sir Hillary 8:09 AM  

Wow, DNF, which rarely happens to me on Friday. All because of the SW. Got ANN, NOHO, NOLOSE and the long downs toward the middle, but nothing more. Like @Casco, I could have sat there for hours and not gotten any further. Maybe -- just maybe -- TOOTOO and TAO would have come to me, but I doubt it.

NOEL is a generic noun, not just "Christmas in Paris"? Who knew? Not me.

And can someone please explain how ATTN is a routing aid?

Before I met my demise in Southern California, I was held up for a decent while by orphaNS for KITTENS. Anyone else make that mistake?

A pangram with nary a comment from @Rex. Nice.

Coupla clue issues...
-- I believe the band is fun. in all lower case and with a period.
-- How can you use "home" in a clue for HBO, which is short for Home Box Office?

Big Vikings fan. GORY times these days. We are nowhere as good as the PACKERS. Or the Bears. Or the Lions.

Sir Hillary 8:12 AM  

Cancel my request above on ATTN. I see it on a memo. Doh!

AliasZ 8:14 AM  

The reason all the S'es gathered on top of the stairs is that those stairs are made from a recently discovered rare mineral: the S-magnet, which has the power to suck all the S'es out of the words sitting above them.

An alternate reason is that someone shook the S'es out of the center of the grid and the black staircase stopped their fall.

Very KAFKAESQUE, don't you think? Or at least maddeningly surreal.

Alternate clues for 38A: "Suffix with alter-" and for 50A: "River through Torino + Soccer star + Yoked beast".

Now I will pull my TOOTOO over my BLUEJEANS, put on my BLADES and TAPDANCE past the VELVET ROPE to attend some TED TALKs or a PACKERS game, whichever happens to be going on at the time, then go on a safari in UGANDA to hunt BIG GAMES, after which I'll MOVE BACK to my mother's basement. Hey, I could write a NOVELLA about my adventures, and DIRECT the movie made from it, starring KATE MOSS and Niam LIESON.


jberg 8:24 AM  

Drat! I went with SOHO, figured AsN must be someone's initials. Shows you the limits of crossword solving if you don't ever watch TV. And why is everyone talking about Katie Couric? Is she in there somewhere? Or was she on that show with Matt before or after ANN?

Strong point: he needed CZAR for the pangram, but clued it unambiguously, since you never hear of a budget tsar, for example. Some random Ivan would have been less clear.

Weak point -- random Leo.

I got the center fairly quickly; checked the crosses to see if we were adopting puppies or KITTENS, saw KATE MOSS, and it all fell into place. Much harder in the corners, especially because I wouldn't give up electron. What is a DELTA RAY, anyway, and how is it a particle?

Off to lick my wounds over AsN.

Dorothy Biggs 9:01 AM  

Tough, but not undoable for me. I did have to google a couple of things: I thought Daddy W's henchman was Punjab...did not know about THEASP. I. had. no. idea. where Bwindi Impentrable National Park was, period. Thanks to google, now I know.

TET's celebrating spring was new to me. Isn't that in January? Here in the north, celebrating spring in January is pretty optimistic.

Major hang-up with RAnee as opposed to RAJAH. Couldn't see that "bowls" was not either a food container or involving hurling a heavy ball at some pins.

POPELEOX looks like a virus to me.

I actually loved KAFKAESQUE because "K" words and "Q" words are relatively easy to infer.

XES for "Pair of Dos Equis" was weird to me. First, the capitalization seemed to imply a pair of cervezas. Second, literally a pair of two exes would be XX and not XES. Third, I had a Dos Equis last night, so there's that.

Hobbyist 9:04 AM  

Well, I declare that I realize that this Kafkaesque puzzle was bit too too.

Unknown 9:07 AM  

On the easy side for me. Mostly solved it NW-Sw-SE-Central-NE, though I had to iterate through POPELEOs until I had the aha moment at X. Boy did I feel dumb. I thought it was interesting crossing an old-school rapper KURTIS with an unknown band. Is 'fun' significant enough on the world stage to warrant inclusion in the NYT puzzle? This solver sez 'Nay.' YMMV.

In all, an enjoyable puzzle.

Bisch 9:17 AM  

For the second day in a row a puzzle whose careful craftsmanship is obvious. That open section in the middle is beautiful; its highlight has to be the clue for KATEMOSS. Not a single speck of dreck anywhere in the grid. Really fun solve. I started with MID and KEY and it fell quickly from there.

Z 9:19 AM  

Self-imposed difficulty in the NW caused me to put the puzzle down and work on a math puzzle. Came back and finished, but it was another case of of the 3x8 block taking longer than the rest of the puzzle. Why the ? for the ORE clue? It made me try "a la." Add that century starts with CEE and a high appointee could be a secr. and it was a M-E-S-S up there in Seahawk country. I had BLADES and AIRED, but it was CZAR and KEY that finally broke the log jam.


Double CrossWorld phenomenons yesterday - Saw a car with two college stickers in the window, the expected Wayne State University and the unexpected Binghamton University - then we were watching House Hunters last night where the couple were moving from Natick to Amsterdam (the announcer described them as from Boston but the first shot of them was walking past the Natick sign).

Anyone else want lAP DANCERS instead of TAP DANCERS?

Sir Hillary 9:21 AM  

fun. won Grammys last year for Best New Artist and Song of the Year. So, fair game for the NYT, albeit IREALIZE on the newish extreme of pop culture.

Random connection between two puzzle entries member of fun. (not Nate Reuss) is dating Lena Dunham, star of "Girls".

Unknown 9:32 AM  

Daddy Warbucks had 2 bodyguards, punjab and ASP. The clue needs six letters.

How did *any* of you get that? Am I in the wrong room? Again . . . with the anomie.

Easy Friday? I call it maddeningly surreal.

JC66 9:37 AM  

4Any one else have winwin before NOLOSE at 55A?

Z 9:47 AM  

@Casco Kid - I know nothing about Annie, so couldn't fall into that rabbit hole. ANN was a gimme here, as was ATTN and TAO. That was enough to see NO LOSE and TOO TOO, leaving THE A--. Ape? Ant? It took KATE MOSS in KINESCOPE to come up with THE ASP.

@Steve J - "Foul tip off his FACEMASK," is something you might hear on a baseball game broadcast. I agree that it is far more common for football and hockey, but common enough to be clued by baseball on a Friday or Saturday.

FredSmith 9:55 AM  

Rex --

The Johnson City (and identical one in Binghampton) arches have nothing to do with TR.

George F. Johnson was head of Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company for many years, and originated the "square deal" version of welfare capitalism.

-- Fred Smith

wreck 10:03 AM  

@ Z & @ Steve

yeah...I think the umpire wears a "facemask" as well.

Ludyjynn 10:04 AM  

For me, each quadrant of the puzzle was loaded with 'gimmes', making any unfamiliar stuff easily gettable. Better yet, as others have noted, most of the 'gimmes' were beautifully clued, from VELVETROPE to KAFKAESQUE and ending with TEDTALKS.

Six for six, all easy, this week. I'll probably tank tomorrow! Something to look forward to...

tensace 10:05 AM  

Aaaaaarrrrrgggghhhhh !!! to rapper clues. I proudly can't name more than a couple in this inscrutable profanity passed off as music, art but never misogyny, bigotry or just plain hate.

Arlene 10:16 AM  

Googled to finish - but I'm proud to say that I got TEDTALKS and KAFKAESQUE before needing hints for other areas. One problem was overcoming errors - it's tough to second guess one's own answers. But got the NW to MOVEBACK that way. Par for the course for a Friday - finishable with a little help.

RnRGhost57 10:21 AM  

Lynyrd Skynyrd rap song: "The Ballad of Kurtis Blow"

Bob Kerfuffle 10:21 AM  

Finished OK, but held up by one write-over at 17 A, What could it possibly be besides ELECTRON, especially when the clue specifies "Particle"? Yes, I'm familiar with wave/particle duality etc, but if the clue wanted a DELTA RAY, it might have been worded "It is ejected . . ."

I was ramping up to a major complaint at the crossing of 38 A and 29 D, but the "T" turned out to be very reasonable for a rocker and a rapper (if that is what they are.)

Benko 10:22 AM  

@tensace-- You are showing your bigotry. Listen to Kurtis Blow's song "The Breaks" and none of the problems you think you have with rap are there. It's an innocuous dance song about the "breaks" in dance music which allow people to dance, and playing off of the phrase "those/these are the breaks." No profanity, bigotry, misogyny, or hate.

Two Ponies 10:36 AM  

Very nice puzzle with enough crunch for a Friday. It certainly covered a lot of cultural ground. B.B. King and the Asp then forward to a band and a rapper I've never heard of and Ted Talks. Somehow got it done and it felt pretty good so no shedding of tears.
Thanks Peter W.

Unknown 10:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 10:38 AM  

I've edited Daddy Warbucks wikipedia page the reflect the answer to 53A. I did not cite this puzzle, but I will if pressed. Peter and Will, I hope you are right.

Steve J 11:14 AM  

@Z: I guess I've heard facemask in that context on rare occasion, but just "mask" or catcher's mask is still what's likely to be said.

To me, it was just another example of some cluing that leaned more to sloppy than misdirective, like the Dos Equis clue noted earlier, and the clue for ORE that you noted.

Por Favor, Senor 11:21 AM  

@Steve J - There is nothing sloppy or misdirecting about the clue "Pair of Dos Equis." The clue means "Two of these appear on a bottle of Dos Equis," and they are clearly Xes.

The Most Interesting Man In The World 11:39 AM  

I don't always do crosswords, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis references.

Steve J 11:44 AM  

@Por Favor: Dos Equis already means "two X's". So a pair would be four, not two. Yes, I guess four X's are indeed XES.

Or, since the clue was capitalized, indicating a brand name, a pair of Dos Equis would really mean two beers.

In my opinion, the clue's sloppy. At best, it's imprecise.

Carola 11:55 AM  

Pure pleasure. Witty and just tricky enough in the cluing. Loved the POOBAH, FAT CATS, and SELECT who along with KATE MOSS easily get past the VELVET ROPE. And of course (Hi, @chefwen) the PACKERS with their FACE MASKS and BIG GAMES.

Found it on the tough side and DNF - had the wrong POPE LEO as I'm not familiar with Dos Equis and its XES.

Like TAP DANCERS, this puzzle makes me happy. Thanks, Peter Wentz.

John V 12:00 PM  

Interesting fill, to be sure, but the cluing was just way over the top, more Saturday-ish, for me. Big DNF. Needed re-cluing, IMHO.

Always interesting to me how idiosyncratic themelesses can be. Last week Friday, Joe K, MAS stack-o-rama was very easy. This one never got out of the gate. Go figure.

Jisvan 12:01 PM  

I spent much time tearing out what I thought were brilliant answers, (BLUEtooth was my cord alternative, how can you throw that away?) and yes, I had a lAP DANCER not dragging his or her feet, because, well, they presumably are not standing up. TAP DANCERs do indeed drag their feet at times, on purpose, and I'm sure there is a name for that step. Super hard on my end, but I did love KAFKAESQUE, VELVETROPE, the symmetrically balanced I DECLARE and I REALIZE, and much much more. When I say it was worth it, I am praising it highly.

jburgs 12:06 PM  

I thought the Dos Equis clue was incorrect too but now that Steve J has pointed out that the clue was capitalized I can now see that it refers to the brand name and not the ddictionary def'n. so it seems fair to me. Didn't help with solving tho as I had no knowledge of the term or the beer. Got it only with crosses

DNF due to never hearing of NOHO, so stuck with SOHO. Also had no idea of THEASP.

Took a while to sort out NE due to slotting rwANDA in at first.

Very nice challenging puzzle showing you don't need a lot of arcane names and stuff.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

@Steve J Dos Equis means two XES. XES are the things that are paired in XX. Perfectly literal.

Hartley70 12:25 PM  

Whew! No googling! One letter off. I had Ken instead of Key. Ken Jennings is on my brain this week. LOL! This took me a long time. It was the short answers that slowed me. The long ones were simpler than I expected. A good challenge!

Steve J 12:28 PM  

This was clearly not my day. It finally sunk in. "Of Dos Equis" as in the possessive, or as in "on a bottle of Dos Equis".

Way over my posting quota for the day. Off to Saturday.

Malsdemare 12:42 PM  

Took me 38 minutes and change, plus one Google, to get everything except NOHO. So a DNF, but for me to get the tough stuff in that time on a Friday is pretty good, especially since my only real write-over was for liTTERS (I really wanted rescues, but that was a non-starter from the get-go). I think it helps when you don't know a FACEMASK from a catcher's MASK. Silly me; as I filled it in, I was thinking face masks as in facials, done at home, in the privacy of one's boudoir. Love KAFKAESQUE!

Real success thus far this week. I suppose Saturday will be my undoing.

Z 12:45 PM  

@Steve J - would "cervezas" or "xxxx" be better? Maybe a fearless constructor could include all three answers with the same clue. We've seen the "imprecise" argument before. My own conclusion is that, in CrossWorld, imprecision is a feature, not a bug. I do, however, reserve the right to kvetch about it the next time it causes me a DNF.

Lewis 12:58 PM  

What @Carola said. Fun, clever cluing, with spark. Clean. Answers like TOOTOO and KAFKAESQUE. Terrific solving experience!

Numinous 1:07 PM  

HAH! I had bra for HBO. Later I realized that clue would have been more like Home for "The Girls." Anyway, I've heard them referred to that way often.

Two Googles for me so a DNF but I got the Magmic victory song with no typos or errors. G1 for NATE. I've never heard of Ruess or the band. G2 for THEASP. I never liked Little Orphan Annie, maybe it was the blank eyes.

Hands up for orphaNS. Didn't like FACEMASKS. XES was an "Oh, okay, so that's how you want to play" moment for me. I've always hated the term CZAR. Drug CZAR to me seems more like the head of the Cali Cartel than the guy going after him. And I hate it when people call California Cali. I grew up in the Bay Area and I hate it when people call it Frisco. It just proves folks ain't from around them parts.

Sorry @Casco. Still, you have progressed by leaps and bounds. Keep up the good work.

With everything I dislike above, I like this puzzle. I had to work at it and I like that. Surprisingly for me, I finished right in the range I normally land in in the Magmic statistics.

Thanks Peter Wentz for a good workout.

Masked and Anonymo4Us 1:35 PM  

Ahhh... Spring... the bloomin weejectmenots... the deltarays deftly dancin on doric divestules of desperation...
Plus, U got yer big TET holiday doins.

Wanted FALLBACK, which later exercised a partial withdrawl. But meanwhile that gave m&e KEY and BLADES and VADER and CZAR and the whole NW wing thingy.
Fortunately, then TAPDANCERS and SHED ATEAR/TEARS became apparent, and then it was just yer standard Crimean/Granadian invasion operation, after that.

Only weakness in the pangram quest was the fairly obscure Pope le Ox, known for a face that would stampede a herd of nuns. U learn so much, listenin to me.

But, hey -- got yer Dos Equis on the table, too, so let's hoist a pair to Tet, and a well-drafted FriPuz. hic. haec. harc.


OISK 1:39 PM  

Faster than average Friday for me, but below average enjoyment - with Kurtis (never heard of him) Nate, (likewise) Ork, BBKing, Tedtalks (never heard of it) The Asp, (somehow recalled that) Ann someone - never watched Matt Lauer, this one exceeded my pop trivia limit. I am a chemist, but never heard of a delta ray. "I am so proud" I got Poobah. Like yesterday, really a well conceived, well written puzzle, just a tad too "hip" for me. ( I had ice dancers, and then toe dancers, my only erasures…)

Susierah 1:52 PM  

34 minutes, no googles. One error. I did not get the k in kafkaesque kinescope crossing. Words of the day that I had never heard of. Liked the puzzle! Knew Nate Reuss because of his great duet with Pink, and a duet with eminem! I'm 63 and hip! Ha ha.

Charley 2:37 PM  

Hockey goalies wear face masks. Catchers wear catcher's masks. Never in almost 60 years of following baseball have I heard a catcher's mask called a face mask.

sanfranman59 3:14 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 19:53, 21:24, 0.93, 37%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 13:09, 12:57, 1.02, 52%, Medium

Fred Romagnolo 3:19 PM  

I can't believe how many misapprehensions: Punjab (never heard of The Asp, but I stopped reading Annie about70 yrs ago), electron, else for isn't leading to Alaska instead of Uganda, wood piles for cords, couldn't shake concept of painting for surreal. Southeast and facemasks my only accomplishment, but I agree the Dos Equis clue was rotten. Forced to google, which I hate; naturally a DNF. I commented on Czar 3 puzzles ago.

OISK 3:26 PM  

I agree with Charley. I umpired home plate for a few seasons in local amateur leagues, and I always asked for a "catcher's mask," not a face mask, or even an umpire's mask. Goalies wear face masks. But I think it is a very minor quibble. I'm not "hip" like Susierah, but the 5 year age difference might matter. There were alternatives to rock when my musical tastes were being formed - and growing up in a home with just one TV, and one record player, I adopted my parents' musical preferences. Have never heard Pink, Nate Reuss, or eminem, and don't intend to start now!

GILL I. 3:28 PM  

I could do a Peter Wentz every Friday or Saturday thank you very much.
I (do)DECLARE Mr. Beauregard....Pray tell, who is KURTIS Blow or NATE Ruess?...Well, not BIG NAMES or FAT CATS or POOBAHs but all doable.

Jim Finder 3:48 PM  

I know The Mikado so well I must have boiling oil or melted lead running in my veins. So naturally I put in HOO-HAH (???) instead of POO-BAH, causing a delay. See how the fates their gifts allot? I don't want any lunch.

retired_chemist 4:22 PM  

Truly crunchy here. Not at all in my wheelhouse. Finished but with a lot more work that usual. That said, it was most enjoyable. Tough and UNenjoyable occurs when the answers are just not possible for me to divine. The hard work and extra glucose requirement of my brain in solving a puzzle where so many answers are just barely out of your reach are actually what I enjoy.

ELECTRON for 17A. What else? Held me up for a good while because there was IMO no alternative. OK,the seldom or never-used term in chemistry DELTA RAY fits. Bah.

I had to parse the clue in 52D carefully after the fact. Finally decided that it more or less meant "Pair found on a Dos Equis bottle." I drink a reasonable amount of Dos Equis but I stop before I see four XES, as some of you wanted from the clue.

The "Maddeningly" threw me in 32A - Surreal would have led me to KAFKAESQUE a lot faster. I actually don't think it is an appropriate adverb to describe the answer.

Had to bring in the KITTENS (32A) as soon as I finished the puzzle.

Thanks, Mr. Wentz.

crossvine 4:53 PM  

I did crosswords regularly for years, then became irregular as life got busier (teenage boys). But I'm back as a regular now--Sunday-Thursday, enjoying every minute.

I'm happy to report that this is the first ever Friday puzzle I've finished. Feels great.

My one question--which I'm sure I should know: Why isn't there a theme? Or any trick? Or did I miss it? I'm used to themes in the Sunday thru Thursday puzzles.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

Carola 4:56 PM  

@crossvine - Congrats on your first Friday finish! Friday and Saturday puzzles in the Times are usually themeless, although once in a (great) while, there's a curveball and we get a theme.

crossvine 5:03 PM  

@Carola--thanks for the explanation. That tripped me up at first--trying to figure out where the theme was going to reveal itself. Now, I'll approach Friday puzzles better-armed. (Though still too scared to try Saturday!!)

Carola 5:11 PM  

@crossvine - After posting above, it occurred to me to add that rather than a specific theme, the hallmark of a (good) themeless puzzle is its elegance in terms of original, creative entries. As I've learned from reading this blog, themed puzzles can suffer from an overdose of tired crosswordese as the theme poses constraints on the constructor. Look forward to hearing back about your first Saturday :)

retired_chemist 5:14 PM  

@crossvine - don't be scared of Saturdays. They are IMO not much harder than Fridays and sometimes about the same. Go for it! Grow!

Anonymous 5:19 PM  

I had electron in there and had never heard of delta rays.

M and Also 6:02 PM  

@retired-chemist: Never went for ELECTRON, as think I already had ???TA RAY, by the time I got there. Several possibilties swarmed in upon me...

* PASTA RAY. I always come upon with the edibles, first.
* MANTA RAY. Derived from the pasta idea ( "that's a moray"!)
* BEETA RAY. Hi, chef gals. See how U influence m&e?
* THETA RAY. Figured now that the ol brain was zeroin in. Most particles are Greek or StarTrekian. THETA, IOUTA, DELTA, ZESTA, UHURA? ...Others that sounded good, but not quite as Greek: FIATA, MIATA, SEPTA, and VOLTA.

Anyhoo, not wishin to fritter away too many nanoseconds, went over and got MID, makin DELTA the winner, as DICTA RAY was a nonstarter.
But I digress.

@Benko... Hey, speaking of septa... How'd U do on that there septic stack runtpuz yesterday? Maybe U don't wanna talk about it, which would sure be ok. Some people are loath to relive runtpuz experiences, I know. @BobK said he felt like a squashed bug, or somesuch...


mac 6:43 PM  

Fantastic puzzle. I enjoyed the solve, but looking back now, and learning it's a pangram without being obvious about it, I like it even better.

Kafkaesque was my favorite word. There were plenty of clues/answers I did not know, but I got most of them anyway. The far SW was the biggest problem with The Asp and the last two letters in Kinescope a guess.

@Sir Hillary: I had "orphans" too.

@John V: I loooove hard themeless puzzles, must agree with my idiosyncrasy.

ahimsa 7:07 PM  

FAT CAT crossing KITTENS! What's not to love? Nothing KAFAESQUE about this puzzle, not at all a "trial." (bad pun, I know)

Loads of fun.

Elle54 8:44 PM  

Hand up for DNF cuz of SOHO

crossvine 9:24 PM  

@carola, @retired_chemist

Thanks for the insight and encouragement. I'm feeling pumped up, so I'll give Saturday a try.

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

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

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

Mon 5:45, 6:12, 0.93, 16%, Easy
Tue 7:19, 8:32, 0.86, 11%, Easy
Wed 8:21, 10:13, 0.82, 11%, Easy
Thu 15:21, 18:26, 0.83, 21%, Easy-Medium
Fri 19:53, 21:24, 0.93, 37%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:46, 3:58, 0.95, 21%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:39, 5:11, 0.90, 14%, Easy
Wed 5:22, 6:14, 0.86, 12%, Easy
Thu 9:46, 10:31, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium
Fri 11:11, 12:39, 0.88, 27%, Easy-Medium

Anonymous 10:28 PM  

Took me about three hours to finish, but I did so proudly.

Orphans nearly killed me.

Also stuck in early birds instead of tap dancers.

Kurtis of Kurtis Blow saved me, but it was luck with kinescope that guided me home.

Mohair Sam 10:32 AM  

Didn't get to this one until Saturday morning. Played medium-challenging for us. Probably nobody will see this, but posting in case constructor or Rex reads these late.

Thanks Peter Wentz for a terrific garbage-free puzzle. So many clues us with LOL or OMG moments. Wonderful work.

Cannot believe how this puzzle smacked Rex in the wheelhouse. KAFKAESQUE indeed. Loved the "Square Deal" arch - how Upstate New York is the arch? Wow.

bumbu pecel bali 11:40 PM  

this is good post...

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Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Great puzz, thank you Mr. Wentz. My rating is Easy-Medium and the only thing that didn't register was "has" but it was explained. Excellent write-up by Mr. Rex....for a change. The Spring break must help.

Ron Diego 8:05 AM PST 5/16

Torb 1:03 PM  

solved. no googling. not too tough.....

rain forest 2:09 PM  

Well. Started off brilliantly entering 'cee' for 1D, 'electron', for the particle, and BLUEtooth, for the cord alternative. Realized all of them were wrong, but I regrouped and was a little more methodical on the next pass. I kind of squinted at DELTARAY (not really used anymore) and actually went quite quickly until the SW where NOHO and THEASP naticked me. So, DNF.

Really think I could have sussed out NOEL and ANN, but, well, the day awaits.

Agree that in baseball, it is either "mask" or "catcher's mask".
Other than that, a very good, tight, clean puzzle.

OK. I got four 3's. All in.

DMG 2:43 PM  

This one was not for me. There were just too many facts I didn't know, physics term, music clues, African Park. The choice was quit or go on a Google quest. I quit. Did get half or so, and am happy that what I got was right. Wish I had gotten THEASP, but I remembered him as THEwasp. Go figure. Does anyone remember Tres Equis? A more daring" brew I used to get in Baja in my salad days. Sadly, those days, the beer, and trips to Baja are no more!

The Captcha god refuses to deal me a hand, so I'm left to struggle with his hiereoglyphics which seem to have no effect on the spam producers, see above.

Waxy in Montreal 3:18 PM  

Started as per @rain with CEE and ELECTRON. Followed up with COMEBACK at 1A. All of which took a very long time to DIVEST.

Also KURTIS, NATE, NOHO and THEASP were major idunnos as well which made this puzzle just TOOTOO challenging to complete.


Solving in Seattle 3:21 PM  

What a nice Fripuz. Enjoyed the cluing "Things worn at home," "Foe of the Vikings," and "High beams."

I, too, seemed to be on the same wave length as PW, starting with MID/MOVEBACK and VELVETROPE on the "V."
My one writeover: SHowTEARS.
KURTIS/NATE a total natick, but they fell on crosses.
Had POPE---X and figured correctly that LEO had to be the one.
I think I just dislocated my arm.

I finally get a good full house and @Rainy draws four of a kind. Rats!

Dirigonzo 3:22 PM  

I managed to navigate the grid with only one major mis-step, that being that my "High beams" were brights (you know, as in headlights) but of course the crosswords sorted that out for me. In the end I wriggled through the KURTIS/NATE/DORIC (thank you, TR, for the SQUAREDEAL) unscathed, correctly named the Pope and thought I had cruised home to a perfect grid until I came here to discover KEn (defined thus: one's range of knowledge or sight) was wrong. I'm not going to SHEDTEARS over it, though.

There are not many days I would fold with a full house; today I will.

spacecraft 3:39 PM  

Was this tough? How about I'm not leading off the syndi-section for the first time in...TOOTOO long.

But: I DID IT! And with no research, either! Writeovers? Oh, you bet. I got mixed up with my KAFKAESQUE man-in-the-moon marigolds and wrote in gammARAYS, which fit with "a la" for something in that vein. Had a great deal of trouble seeing IREALIZE off the clue "Obviously..." I don't quite know how fairly to clue 15a, so I hesitate to criticize the one given; still, that was a huge stretch to make. Of course, fallBACK was in my mind for 1a before IREALIZEd it couldn't work.

To the SW, where HYMN threw me off. I remembered Daddy's other 6-letter sidekick, Punjab, but that wouldn't fly. Then there was the "model" introduced in the 1990's: naturally a car, right? Uh, no. Now, why would you clue a fashion model's intro so vaguely? Oh, gee, I first saw her in...the '90's?? Not much of a compliment. And another of the many brutal misdirects peppering today's puzzle.

IDECLARE, I almost threw the flag several times. I also almost threw in the towel at least that often. But I persevered, and was rewarded handsomely.

Going on an overnighter today, so I'll see y'all on Sunday. 6's full of 4's to send me off.

Waxy in Montreal 4:12 PM  

er, @space, was that SIXFLAGS?

ironlace 8:43 PM  

Perfect Friday. thanx

Mimi 11:23 PM  

Doesn't the ump behind the catcher wear a face mask (st "home")?

Dirigonzo 10:11 AM  

@Mimi - The sports purists in the commentariat seem to feel that in baseball the correct term is "catcher's mask" or just "mask", and that FACEMASK is attributable to other sports, e.g. hockey. But yes, the ump does in fact wear one at "home" and the clue is OK in my book.

@ironlace - nice to see your comment here in syndiland, please come back often!

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