Peer Gynt enchantress / FRI 7-17-15 / Black Tulip novelist / Voice of Pixar's Mr Fredricksen / Goddess of wisdom to Homer / 1990s sitcom set in New York

Friday, July 17, 2015

Constructor: Paolo Pasco

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: TAMAR (26D: Daughter of David, in the Bible) —
Tamar (Hebrew: תָּמָר, Modern tamar, Tiberian tāmār) is a person in 2 Samuel in the Hebrew Bible. She was the daughter of King David, and sister of Absalom. Her mother was Maacah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur. According to the narrative in 2 Samuel 13, she was raped by her half-brother Amnon. [...] Absalom, who hated his half-brother Amnon for his rape of Tamar, waited for two years and then had Amnon murdered.(wikipedia)
• • •

I'm told this constructor is roughly my daughter's age (b. 2000). This is insane. Partially because no one that young should be able to do anything, according to me, and partially because this grid looks like it was put together by a competent, experienced, middle-aged constructor. It's conservative in terms of its content—in a good way. It's a solidly general-interest grid with very little in the way of aracana, contemporary or ancient. And yet it's not boring, and it looks simpler than it is. That middle—where three 11s run through three more 11s—is impressive. No easy feat to bring that off with all lively, unawkward answers. Corners are less interesting, but they do no harm. Might've wanted to have another go at that NE, where ANITRA and ESTOPS give off a faint whiff of mothballs. But emphasis on the word "faint." I assume this is a debut—with a 15-year-old constructor, It Better Be! [shakes fist at no one in particular]. If so, it's very promising. It's also the highlight of the NYT puzzle week thus far, for sure.

So this started LGS DIGS IN CAN IT I'M IT (I don't mind the two "IT"s because I'd rather have I'M IT than the abbr. IMIT.). Then I was able to draw on my vast experience in Having Lived Through The '90s (something this constructor Did Not Do WTF!?) to get "MAD ABOUT YOU" (and, not much later, "TIME COP").

Things got a little loose after that, as I went careening down the grid on a NW-to-SE angle, latticing my way to the bottom of the SE corner and then going back and filling things in. Here's my first Journey to the Bottom of the Grid:

You can see (or infer) that I tried to get those long Downs in the middle to budge, but since I couldn't do so instantly, I moved on, figuring I'd pick up crosses sooner or later to help me out. You can also see that I have SWINGS down there at 41D: Playground stables (SLIDES). That one set me back pretty bad. ARI was a gimme (49A: Agent Gold of TV), but because it worked with the incorrect SWINGS, it gummed things up rather than opening them ... up. E-ending ATHENE is pretty archaic and unlikable, but it caused no problems. There were simply no other problems. Needed all the crosses to get ANITRA. Had MINOR TICKET (?) before I had MINOR THREAT. Had WHIP before CHAP (8D: Get cracking?). Otherwise, a smooth ride.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]


jae 12:03 AM  

Easy for me. Had site before NODE and needed to change the A to an E in ATHENE and say to CAN,  but that was about it.  A bunch of stuff was in my wheelhouse. 

The WALTER MITTY movie with Ben Stiller is worth seeing. 

The staggered crossing 11s are zippy and delightful.  Liked it a lot.  A fine debut.

Anonymous 12:07 AM  

I liked it.

Whirred Whacks 12:08 AM  

Congratulations Paolo: a wonderful debut! Perhaps you are the next Michael Phelps of crossword (Phelps made the U.S. Olympic swimming team at the age of 15 in 2000).

wreck 12:12 AM  

Nice puzzle!! The NE was also my biggest challenge, but I always expect to have trouble somewhere on a Friday. Keep 'em coming!

paulsfo 12:21 AM  

Didn't understand CHAP and LEAD while solving. Fun puzzle. Thanks!

jp flanigan 12:24 AM  

Also got tripped up in Swings/Slides. Was waiting for windmill or propellor because of the grid, but never came. East for me for a friday.

Moly Shu 12:27 AM  

@Rex, can a punk rock aficionado (if there is such a thing) get a MINORTHREAT video? Yes!! Thank you. SwIngS for me also. Other than that, the only problem I had was parsing BECAUSEICAN. Really liked it, and glad OFL did too.

Anonymous 12:40 AM  

Why are the bad puzzles due to poor editing, but the good puzzles are due to the constructor's talent?

I liked this one.

Steve J 12:41 AM  

After a dreary week of subpar puzzles, it was nice to do something that didn't induce groans and eye rolls. There are a few rough spots here, but overall this was nice.

Lots of nice fill: MINOR THREAT, BECAUSE I CAN (although I wanted "because I said so" - I thought that would have been the best answer for that clue), SOMERSAULTS, APE SUIT, ENIGMA and WALTER MITTY. Minimal dreck. Nothing wowed me, but for the first time since Sunday, I finished the NYT xword without shaking my head. Which makes for a nice Friday this week.

Hays 12:52 AM  

Enjoyed solving this one, even if I was convinced the way I had "somersaults" spelled had to be wrong, but "we'll just leave it in there until I can prove it".

As with all things accomplished by people younger than me, why didn't I try constructing earlier?! I mean, I'd been doing them for years... (I'll tell you why: I am very lazy!)

I particularly liked the math-tinged clues, the grid, and being of just the right age to know offhand the year Timecop was released.

rudiger45 1:02 AM  

Originally had LIBERTARIAN for 19D, but crosses led me to MINORTHREAT.
Don't understand ALLIN for "Beat."
I get ARCED, but isn't better to say a rainbow is ARCHED?
Otherwise a fun breeze for Friday.

JFC 1:10 AM  

@Rex, I liked this puzzle when I saw the author's name (if you do not believe me, go to Wordplay and look for John from Chicago). Of course, you needed to do the puzzle to catch up with me. And, after I did the puzzle, I agreed with myself. The future of the NYT XWP looks bright.


PS. The British Open rocks this weekend.

PPS. I have a way of knowing the name and address of any Anonynmous who posts here.

Music man 1:24 AM  

Totally agree with rex and everyone else here. With 4 bad puzzles in a row, what a breath of fresh air this was! I actually knew ENIGMA from geocaching, semi-common cipher in puzzle caches. I am so happy you included a MINOR THREAT video! When I got that answer, I was just praying someone else knew that more as a band, they're one of the reasons I stayed straight-edge for as long as I did, which wasn't too long...hehe. Also, glad you DIDN'T include an AFI video, that band=not my favorite. Cute hint for 8d Get cracking? Not so much in the warm months, but come winter, oh yes. Not so sure on BECAUSE I CAN not explaining anything. Why do saxophonists play so fast when they solo? BECAUSE they CAN. I like BECAUSE I did, which is what I tell my 3yo all the time when she asks "You did? Why did you?"

Half joking there, BECAUSE I CAN is great. Oh and I'm not sure I understand ALL IN for "beat" either.


MDMA 1:36 AM  

NE corner was a bit crunchy, as others have pointed out. Did anyone else overwrite BuliMIST for BIGAMIST ("Person having one too many")?

NAS is the ESSEN of rappers. At least NYT doesn't use weird Naticky rappers like the one in the latest Glutton for Pun crossword, which I still can't believe.

Loved the mathy "Like e but not i" = a REAL (non-imaginary) number. More like this, please.

Wanted Balboa for 50A ocean namer, but wrong length. Per Wikipedia, the Pacific Ocean was known at the time as the South Sea. I guess no one knew how enormous the Pacific Ocean is until someone crossed it.

Can't figure out why ALL IN is clued as "Beat".

Hays 1:39 AM  

@rudiger45 @Music man, I'd never seen "all in" used outside of poker, but various dictionaries have it as "very tired" which agrees with "beat" (which I am, goodnight all).

AliasZ 1:39 AM  

Terrific debut, Paolo Pasco (PoPo for short). Congratulations!

Loved the wide-open center, except NAS looked out of place there. Even the smallish corners were well done, not rare. ATHENE should have been ATHENA, but that's a small price to pay for an exemplary clean grid.

For me there was only one WALTER MITTY: Danny Kaye.

What is wrong with ANITRA? There is absolutely nothing wrong with ANITRA any more than a little morning mood (Norwegian mood, The Beatles would say) -- listen for yourself. It amazes me that 15-year-old PoPo knew who ANITRA was but Rex didn't. By the way, Ibsen's play "Peer Gynt" accompanied by Grieg's incidental music premiered in Christianianiana (now Oslo) in 1876.

Very enjoyable, if a bit on the easy side for me.

Questinia 1:45 AM  

Paolo Pasco is a Pablo Picasso of puzzle-makers. Whoa and wow.

chefwen 2:10 AM  

15? Seriously? I am more than impressed. Great debut. Fell into the SLIDES swings gap too. 38D eroded before NAGGED.
@Steve J, I think only parents are allowed to say BECAUSE I said so. Loved the clue for 16A, of course I was looking at something alcohol related.

Congrats Paolo.

Anonymous 4:53 AM  

SE gave me trouble, but no DNF here. Very impressive puzzle.

@MDMA "I'm ALLIN for today. Time to hit the rack."


Anonymous 4:57 AM  

@paulsfo - Lips crack when they CHAP. The male dancer tends to LEAD.


Charles Flaster 5:15 AM  

Loved this debut puzzle although it was a DNF--
Never heard of MAD ABOUT YOU.
Enjoyed the math flair and willing to wager the author has a math bent.
There is a classic cartoon where "e" is frustrated with "i" and yells "GET REAL!!".
Write over-- CHAP for CHAt.
Thanks PP.

Thomaso808 5:49 AM  

Great puzzle. Impressive group of crossing 11's in the center. Very easy for a Friday, finished in under half my average time, but that's not a bad thing. Congrats on a very nice debut and here's to many, many more high quality puzzles from Mr. Pasco.

The recent WALTERMITTY film has a really good soundtrack featuring some awesome work by Jose Gonzalez, who despite his name is from Sweden. I really enjoyed the film.

Very fun to see the "Like e but not i" clue. A couple of years ago my kids bought me a t-shirt for Christmas with the e and i symbols talking to each other, with the e saying "Get REAL!" and the i saying "Be rational!". It instantly identifies me in public as a nerd.

One nit is the clue "Island bigwigs" for KAHUNAS. The correct use of that Hawaiian word means an expert at some area of knowledge arcane to others, such as religious practice, medicine, herbology, etc. It is sometimes translated as "shaman" or "magician". While indeed a person respected in Hawaiian culture, a KAHUNA is not really the "bigwig" in the islands. That would be the ALII. On the beaches of California in the sixties, the bigwig was the KAHUNA, so "Beach bigwigs" or "Surf bigwigs" would have been more correct. This is not a minor point in Hawaiian culture. Priests, ministers, and cultural practitioners are constantly being asked to perform Hawaiian language ceremonies for construction ground breakings, business startups, baby luaus, etc. Many are careful to not claim the title KAHUNA, meaning shaman, but instead use the title "Kahu" which translates to "minister". Believe me, it's a real thing.

George Barany 6:09 AM  

Adding my congratulations to @Paolo Pasco for an auspicious New York Times debut, which reminded me of the classic Oscar Wilde quip: "BIGAMY is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same," as well as this wonderful (1-min) scene where the incomparable Groucho Marx mulls marriage to one (or both) women (I think it's from "Animal Crackers" -- could someone confirm?).

My only hiccup was preferring ATHENa over ATHENE (compare to this google n-gram); note that according to, the only previous @Shortz-era appearance of ATHENE was in 1994 (19 pre-Shortz uses) whereas the numbers for ATHENA are 38 Shortz and 75 pre-Shortz. Easily fixed, of course, since no playground equipment I could think of has A as the penultimate letter.

Jim Walker 6:14 AM  

I thought this was a fine effort with very little objectionable fill and some smart cluing. [e but not I, meeting places, fix or damage, etc.]. One clue I disagreed with is that for third parties. They are hardly a "minor threat". Ross Perot almost certainly denied G.H.W. Bush a second term, and Ralph Nader returned the favor by sabotaging Al Gore in Florida. Of less, but still not insignificant moment we're the candidacies of George Wallace, John Anderson, and Strom Thurmond. End of PoliSci lecture.

Look forward to more from this talented young constructor.

DrLee77 6:54 AM  

I agree with @Rex and multiple posters in being impressed by @Paolo Pasco's debut NYT entry. For someone at any age to include WALTERMITTY, Peer Gynt, imaginary numbers, KICKSTARTER, alternative spelling of ATHENE, and TIMECOP, in his entry showsa wide knowledge base. I am totally in awe of a 15-year old doing this. i also was impressed by all of the long elevens and thank @Jim Walker for an excellent POLI-Sci lesson. Thanks for an excellent entry and I look forward to seeing more from theis constructor

DrLee77 6:56 AM  

PS As you can see I am a terrible typist

dk 7:05 AM  

🌕🌕🌕🌕 (4 mOOOOns)

BECAUSEICAN will be replacing objectivism as my philosophy of choice. Great puzzle debut or not.

Team name at my old job was ENIGMA. New job it is BEST (behavioral science team). And, with that as context:

@JFC some of us are watching you through the camera on your computer and you have a little bit of food on the corner of your mouth.

Off to Maine! Lobstah and mojitos tonight. Wicked good.

Glimmerglass 7:32 AM  

Congratulations to Paolo for a first-class debut. Was Patrick Berry this good at age 15? For me this puzzle shares a quality with a PB puzzle: multiple AHA moments. (Not to be confused with . . .well, you know.) Rex, note that Paolo modestly gives considerable credit to the NYT crossword editors (including He Who Must Not Be Named).

Billy C 7:35 AM  

For the many who are apparently interested, OISK dis publish the entire poem to his sweetie late yesterday.

Z 8:13 AM  

Impressive debut. Best puzzle of the week. The NW consumed half my solve time, but that's on me.

Personally, I'm never impressed by someone's youth. All the oohing and aahing strikes me as just a tad condescending. The puzzle isn't good "for a fifteen year old," it's just good. /getoffofmylawnrant

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

A good effort for a 15-year-old.

But far too easy for a Friday.

evil doug 8:20 AM  

Gave me --IDAS, so: adIDAS for the playground. Never cross checked CEREa or REAl.
In another shoe screwup, ended up with SeGas--> KeHUNAS--> TIMECaP.
Luckily I didn't transmogrify Dumas into Pumas....

Loren Muse Smith 8:23 AM  

I agree with everyone – terrific debut. I look forward to my Fridays and Saturdays and feel nervous when I see a name I don't recognize – will it be acceptable? Today? Yessiree Bob. Fifteen years old? Mr. Pasco is so young! Wow. Sorry, @Z, I agree that this puzzle is good period, but the fact that he's so young adds to my admiration. This looks like a grid filled by someone with years of experience under his belt.

I must be in the minority for not thinking "swings" because I had "Athena" firmly in place and then saw the terrific clue/answer REAL.

An early "clarify" for CLEAR UP and "taros" for SAGOS caused some trouble, especially the latter because the northeast was as tough for me as everyone else. That clue for SCRAPE was excellent.

SERAPE, sarong – pick a wrap, any wrap. I wasn't sari that I waited before committing to "sarong." (Oh, and how cool that SCRAPE/SERAPE is the start of a word ladder? SERAPE – SCRAPE – scraps – straps – strips – streps – stress…)

I agree with Rex – I liked the CAN IT; I'M IT up there in the northwest.

Liked the pair of PEDANT and RED PEN, and I'll tweak that famous gun quote for Rexville - it's not the RED PEN that embarrasses someone; it's the PEDANT.

DIG SIN – my dog Tucker always accompanies me when I go check out the garden, and the little guy stays pretty busy. &*%$ holes everywhere.

APE SUIT – I own one and can offer some good advice: don't put one on and run through the school cafeteria when the kindergarteners are having lunch, even if one is your son, even if it's Halloween, even if you have a friendly, non-THREATening school t-shirt on over it. Just. Don't.

I'll certainly be looking forward to more from Mr. Pasco. Bravo!

Dorothy Biggs 8:25 AM  

I went to xword after finishing (relatively easy, no googling/cheats), and was very surprised to find out that Paolo is 15. The balance here provides a nice contrast to other constructors his age. These answers were all reasonable, while some were indeed challenging (DUMAS, AFI, NAS, ATHENE, etc), they weren't obscure. This puzzle shows a remarkable handle on the language and (primarily) the general American zeitgeist. I mean, you could conceivably do a late week puzzle by paging through a thesaurus and googling random facts/names and calling it "challenging." But it doesn't work like that. This has's *mature.*

Just reading Paolo's comments on xword leads me to wonder if those new agers types who call babies born in the 21 century "diamond babies." The theory is that old souls are finding their way back into our population to help with the next axial age. Yeah, I know...silly. But it's amazing to hear someone this age speak so articulately and again, maturely.

Good job, Paolo!

That said, I'm beginning to see a pattern with the "groaner" clues...and I'm wondering if some of them aren't just WS's personality. Many constructors talk about how their clues have been "tweaked" by Will and company. I'm wondering if the thread of continuity behind clues like "Get cracking?" and "Result of a messy breakup?" aren't tweaked clues. Maybe, maybe not. But those kinds of clues do pop up more often than not and they all have the same "ugh"-factor to them. Where some of you giggle at such clues, I actually cuss. Sometimes out loud.

It is endlessly interesting to see the wide swath that is Rex's opinion. Who can divine the mystery in the workings of a mind that can like some fill one day and absolutely despise it the next? smh

Jon Alexander 8:39 AM  

Chap...chapped lips dacing, the guy leads

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

This might make you a PEDANT...?

GeezerJackYale48 9:06 AM  

Like most of you, I thought the puzzle was quite good and enjoyable. But I am somewhat surprised that you all took the "e but not i" clue so much in stride. I thought it was somewhat arcane, despite the fact that I have a fair grasp of mathematics.

Sir Hillary 9:19 AM  

Wow. Just wow.

@Glimmerglass expressed exactly what I was thinking throughout my solve -- this puzzle is Berry-esque in its word count (66!) smoothness and general lack of junk. And especially in those central stacks of 11s. To come here and learn that the constructor is younger than my youngest child...well, count me as blown away. Maybe Spieth-esque another adjective for young Master Pasco.

Like many others, I wanted SwIngS in the SE, but I never wrote it in. However, having gotten ARI, MASKED, ATHENa and SHARDS, I almost dropped in adIDAS. Sanity prevailed.

My last act before retiring last night was sweeping up SHARDS from the glass I dropped on the back deck.

Every Saturday, there's a conversation like this in my house:
-- Me: Honey, you're sleeping late this morning.
-- My wife: BECAUSEICAN.

What a great start to the weekend.

chefbea 9:26 AM  

WOW...a 15 year old did this.???Too tough for me. Had to google a lot and still DNF

joho 9:33 AM  

I echo @Questinia. A star is born.

Congratulations, Paolo!

quilter1 9:56 AM  

Hope to see more of this constructor. I really enjoyed the puzzle, even though it took me forever to pull TIMECOP out of memory and I never saw MADABOUTYOU. But I finished and felt good. I liked ANITRA, as I had an LP of Peer Gynt at one time and like ANITRA's Dance. Also poor TAMAR, who never really got justice, despite her brother's revenge.

Nancy 9:57 AM  

I liked this one a lot, too. Found it challenging in a good way. There was nothing arcane, but much in the puzzle was hard to see from the cluing. Wanted two verbs at 7A, so the noun/verb clue combo threw me off. Didn't see 1A, even when I had ----IC. Needed many crosses for MAD ABOUT YOU. Hesitated between RUM and ale at 9D. Wanted ATHENa at 55A and had to correct. Loved the clues for 42A, 16A and 57A. (Though I saw BIGAMIST immediately, it being one of the few things I did see immediately).

How do all you people know when you're seeing a debut puzzle? Such things never occur to me. If they did, I wouldn't know how to check up on it anyway. But now that I know it's a debut, I agree that it's a very good debut.

@OISK -- You got several shout-outs (including from me)on your birthday verse yesterday around 10 p.m. Take a look.

E.J. Copperman 10:02 AM  

Just to be a pain: The first scene in GHOSTBUSTERS is not about ESP. It's about the haunting of the NYC Public Library on 5th Ave. I'm just sayin'.

Mohair Sam 10:18 AM  

Busy busy today - no time to read all posts. Just want to say wow to Paolo Pasco on a fantastic debut. Witty clues throughout, very little "-ese", and some fresh knowledge (CERES, who knew?).

15? Awesome! Keep 'em coming.

Ellen S 10:19 AM  

@Nancy -- all the stats about the puzzle, including constructor history, are at, Plus commentaries by the constructor and by site owner Jeff Chen.

@E.J. -- I just rewatched Ghostbusters a few months ago and couldn't remember how it opened. So ESP didn't bother me.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I went through this puzzle. A little too easy for a Friday, but I say that because I was able to finish it with only a couple of "Check word" cheats, and loved the punny clues.

mathguy 10:22 AM  

It was a little too easy for a Friday. Bill Butler did it in ten minutes, about half the time it takes him for an average Friday.

Happy to see e and I appear. I haven't seen the cartoons cited above where e and i are speaking to each other. Very clever.

Jeff Chen points out the grid has both 90 degree and 180 degree symmetry. Also it has four clusters made up of six black squares. @r.alphbunker got me interested in looking at grids recently when he was interested in knowing how many possible grids there are. Most clusters, I have noticed, are rectangular, 1x1, 1x2, 1x3, usually. Shapes like these four are rare among the grids I see.

I didn't like MINORTHREAT and BIGIDEAS. Are these what are called "green paint" entries? Strings of words that make sense but aren't common expressions?

Some good stuff but I'm used to more crunch on Friday.

mac 10:24 AM  

Wonderful puzzle! Very good clues as well, kudos to Paolo and Will.

I had the exact same problems Evil Doug had: Adidas and Kehunas. In hindsight, Athene would
be how Homer would say it.

Cheerio 10:31 AM  

AGree with Rex. Great puzzle! This is one to watch!

David B 10:44 AM  

A rare mistake? E.J. Copperman is correct (10:02 AM ET): Scene 1 is the Library haunting -- the lone librarian in the basement. The first scene after the credits is the ESP test scene.

Arlene 10:49 AM  

One google - for TIME COP - as I never know movies - and needed a little traction. The rest was a slow but steady solve - what I'd expect for a Friday. I knew we had a young constructor with KICKSTARTER. That's fine with me - keeps me current too!
Good sense of accomplishment finishing this one!

NYer 10:49 AM  

Paolo Pasco also had a puzzle published in the LAT on Jan. 30, 2015.

Happy Pencil 10:52 AM  

As someone who rarely pays attention to the design of the grid, I was particularly impressed with how visually appealing this puzzle was. The puzzle itself was fun and smooth, but much too easy for a Friday. More like a Wednesday, judging by my time.

Loved the clue for 33D!

Overall a great debut marred only by the lack of challenge for a Friday. I agree with @Z, though -- good puzzle, full stop, no qualifiers about age.

old timer 10:54 AM  

I think knowing the age of the constructor really helps understand why certain clues are there. 15 or so is when you learn about e and i -- or maybe 14. It's when you might be assigned Thurber's masterpiece (I was, in 9th or 10th grade). I never saw or read Peer Gynt, so I confess to googling for ANITRA.

Clever, sprightly longs. I wanted BECAUSEICAN from the get-go. Wanted SLIDES, not swings, and I thought ATHENE was perfectly fair -- and that spelling is just what a 15-year-old might find in Greek myths.

For a while, I had "all about you" for MADABOUTYOU, but surely the river was TRENT which gives you ENDOWED and UNIFORM. I was stymied in the NE for a while -- had BIG - something but yes, was thinking alcohol. BIGAMIST was very cleverly clued.

If Shortz made up some of the clues, more power to him.

jberg 11:00 AM  

Embarrassed to say I didn't get REAL until I came here; just couldn't stop looking for something about the letters, and had to slide into the right answer. I agree with everyone: fun to solve and a bit on the easy side.

Will T 11:04 AM  

Great puzzle, but also just a beautiful grid with impressive symmetry, and I appreciate the low word count as well. Love a puzzle with beautiful architecture. Congrats on the debut, Paolo - it hits all the right notes.

RooMonster 11:11 AM  

Hey All !
FriPuz goodness. Slow going, but not brain thrashing. It is tough to cross 6 11's with familiar words/phrases, and also end up with no dreck in the rest of the puz. Color me impressed. The SE had me at a loss, just couldn't get SLIDES to appear, so like @evil doug (nice to see you back, btw) put adIDaS in and called it a day. Knew it was wrong, as 95% on CERES, not CEREa, but caught up with trying to figure out REA?, as I apparently don't know enough about math. That was a new one on me.

Laughed at @Loren's story about the APE SUIT. There was a video on one of those Funny Video shows about that. A little girl was hunting for Easter eggs, and someone had on an APE SUIT trying to be funny, (yeah, why ape at Easter? Your guess is as good as mine) and scared the heck out of the poor girl! Now @Loren, please don't take this the wrong way, as no slight in intended, but people should know better! :-)

I see Mr. M&A partially made the puz! Crossed by STREAKER. Past we don't know about? :-) Two writeovers, CliP->CROP, erodED->NAGGED.

So a new young constructor that apparently has a bunch of puzs out and about waiting to be published. Good for him! Of course, I'm jealous! :-D


Ludyjynnn 11:29 AM  

What a difference a day makes! I'm MADABOUT this puzzle and coincidentally MADABOUTYOU opened up the grid for me at the outset. Helen Hunt, Paul Reiser, plus great supporting cast, the show ran for years and is still seen on tv in syndication.

Query: is Bernie Sanders a MINORTHREAT or a force to be reckoned with? Time will tell.

This young constructor is no WALTERMITTY. He is the REAL deal. Congrats and thanks, PP and WS.

Hartley70 11:36 AM  

SCRAPE and SAGOS were my downfall today. The rest of the puz was good fun, except for REAL which I filled in but didn't understand. It's nice to get the explanation here, but I was forced to stick my fingers in my ears and sing lalala as I read it, so I'm not any smarter than I was 15 minutes ago.

@Oisk, you get the Sweetie Award for that adorable birthday poem. Mrs. Oisk must have been thrilled!

@Z since xwords reward depth and breadth of knowledge which is more easily acquired over say 50 or 60 years, I don't think it's inappropriate to remark on a constructor's young age. We'd be doing just the opposite if a septuagenarian here won a medal in gymnastics. You go @DrLee!

Well done Paolo! I'm doing a happy dance for you brcause a SOMETSAULT is beyond me.

Robso 11:36 AM  

Great job, PoPo! I didn't understand the "Like e, but not i," but I haven't cracked a math textbook in 30 years. They probably don't even textbooks anymore. Crazy kids!

Hartley70 11:39 AM  

...a REAL correction for e and r

Trombone Tom 11:40 AM  

Never thought I would walk the same path as @evildoug but he and I made the same moves on this puzzle. Very impressive intro Mr. Pasco! And, yes, we should give the editor credit where credit is due

dreisands 11:45 AM  

Mid-morning and still no Rex Porker? Must be our lucky day.

Lewis 12:12 PM  

As some have already mentioned, what a gorgeous grid! I loved this before putting in my first letter.

I put MOON down right away for "Get cracking?", but CHAP is a more accurate answer. And you probably wouldn't want MOON and STREAKER in the same puzzle. On Friday and Saturday, I want some very appealing answers to counter that we don't have a theme. And this puzzle delivers: SHARDS, REDPEN, APESUIT, WALTERMITTY, SOMERSAULTS, KAHUNAS, BECAUSEICAN, PEDANT, and ENIGMA. So that is gorgeous on top of gorgeous. It was on the easier end of Friday, but still Friday level. The NW was the toughest quadrant for me. I did like the clue for IMIT a lot, in addition to the clever clues for BIGAMIST and SHARDS.

If you change one letter in APESUIT, it would be a good description of how I went over this puzzle.

Joseph Michael 12:30 PM  

Excellent. I'm still trying to figure out how a 15-year old was able to do this.

Congrats, Paolo. Great debut.

Masked and Anonymous 12:44 PM  

@Lewis: Don't go messin with that sweet lil U in APESUIT. Need all glorious 007 of em.

@muse: Wouldn't advise doin that APESUIT gig in a high school cafeteria, either. An APESUIT is a hard thing to get macaroni and cheese and applesauce out of. Voice of experience.

We now conclude our APESUIT Today interlude.

Primo début. Plus, if the kid's 15 now, he must been about 12, when he submitted it, right? Even more remarkable. Plus, this is promisin work. Has yer 007 U's, and just the right amount of desperation. TSO there. Mic drop, kid. PB#1 hears footsteps from PP#1. Have a good day. And thanx for the real exquisite FriPuz solve.

Primo write-up, @009. Get that daughter busy on constructioneerin.


**gruntz that look like they was by a 15 year-old**

Lewis 12:46 PM  

Factoid: Super Bowl XXXVIII was so highlighted by the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction", that it's hardly remembered that the game also featured a STREAKER (Mark Roberts) who was leveled by New England Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham. Mark Roberts, incidentally also streaked during the 2004 World Snooker Championship.

Quotoid: "Always point your finger at the chest of the person with whom you are being photographed. You will appear dynamic. And no photo editor can CROP you from the picture." -- Ken Auletta

Aketi 1:02 PM  

@ Lewis, good one as always.

A puzzle that I will do a SOMERSAULT over BECAUSE I (still) CAN. Teens these days rock. I have great hopes for their generation.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Nice puzzle, aside from the Ghostbusters clue. The opening scene features a librarian at the public library.

Benko 1:03 PM  

Yes! I grew up obsessed with MINOR THREAT and Fugazi. nice to see the video.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

Here's a riddle:

Q: What's a large Italian fog?

A: a Big-a-Mist.

Heh, heh ... Get it? Big-a-Mist ... Heh, heh ...

Carola 1:22 PM  

In case Paolo Pasco - despite the many accolades, which I echo - might be feeling a little chagrined at the many "(too) easy for a Friday" comments, I'm joining @Nancy with "challenging in a good way." First pass got me only nouns ending in -A: ENIGMA, KAHUNAS, ANITRA, ATHENa. A few of of the rest came quickly (e.g., KICKSTARTER from the K), but mostly it was slow going until enough letters accreted to make the answers snap into focus (like MAD ABOUT YOU). Lovely grid, fun to solve.

@MDMA - ASNER is the ESSEN of movie voices.

DrLee77 1:23 PM  

@Hartley 70 Thanks. @George Barany I don't think anyone answered your question about the movie clip featuring Groucho Marx and his BIGAMY quote. He was addressed as "Captain" and the lead character in "Animal Crackers" is Capt. Spaulding, the African Explorer" It featured another of his most famous lines, "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas! How he got in my pajamas I don't know!" Also his theme song "Hooray For Capt. Spaulding, the African Explorer" became his signature song including an instrumental version as the theme for "You Bet Your Life'. I remember how funny it was when I watched it as a little kid. I am certain I missed many risque puns, however.

Aketi 1:24 PM  

From late yesterday
@teedmn, enjoyed the Onion link
@z, enjoyed the cartoon
@OISK, enjoyed the poem and the story a few days or more ago.

@M&A, my resident teen has an APE MASK, which has not yet seemed to have been used as a target for food projectiles.

AliasZ 1:39 PM  

What is the difference between RED PEN and GREEN PAINT?

There are many more musical choices today: "Un BEL dì vedremo" from Puccini's "MADA BOUTYOUfly", a YUM-Yum / Po-Po duet from G&S's "The Mikado", the "BEL Song" from "Lakmé" by Delibes, the symphonic poem "TAMAR" by Mily Balakirev, etc., but I decided to uncover Debussy's face that had been MASKED but not anonymous. As a bonus, listen also to Dvořák's String Quartet No. 9, and what a beautiful d-MINOR T[H]REAT it is! However I could also go APESUIT over any of the other choices.

This puzzle was worth a lot more than one RED PENy.

Masked and Anonymous 1:40 PM  

@009--Maybe start yer daughter out with runtpuz constructioneerin. Even M&A can do that -- at the 7x7 level.

(Still let her go out and play in the yard, occasionally, tho.)

@Aketi: Didn't actually own that there APESUIT. Was a rental. Never did get the deposit back, on that puppy. Picked most of the mac&cheese and A-sauce out, but there was something else stubbornly merged in with the "fur" that no one could ever identify. I called it mystery dessert, in honor of my high school's kitchen staff.

Thought the difficulty level was about right, for a FriPuz, btw. Cinnamon roll stack was not unduly compromised.


Mexican girl 1:51 PM  

Very solid, very enjoyable puzzle. My only problem is the spelling of Spanish words (always a pet peeve for me, though I know there's nothing I can do about it, and I'm sure nobody cares about), case in point: SERAPE for SARAPE, and MAGELLAN for MAGALLANES.
I'll never understand why the spelling has to change in English, since it doesn't serve any changing Habana to Havana. But that's just me, I guess.

MetroGnome 1:51 PM  

Excellent puzzle -- we've got a prodigy on our hands! -- but I still don't get that "e" vs. "i" business. Has the letter "i" been banned from the alphabet when I wasn't looking?

Fred Romagnolo 1:59 PM  

By saying "to Homer" Paolo made it pretty clear it was ATHENE. Thurber, it is said, was pretty unhappy about the Danny Kaye WALTER MITTY. I didn't know about TED, or TIME COP, or MAD ABOUT YOU, but acrosses are what make crosswords ultimately doable. As an ex-teacher of the gifted, I'm never really surprised at what a 15 year-old can bring off, but this was really impressive. KICKSTARTER was another one I could only get through acrosses. Bravo, Paolo!

okanaganer 2:04 PM  

This is spooky! The last time I posted here I said "I know everyone loves a pedantic nitpicker, but...". So 1 down made me say "What the...?"

And then I breeze through so many gimmes: ANITRA (always loved the Peer Gynt suite!), ENIGMA (just saw Imitation Game last Sunday!), CERES (just read an article on minor planets last night!!) My fastest Friday ever, thru pure luck.

Leapfinger 2:06 PM  

With no idea of who this unknown constructor was, thought this puzzle earned the Breath of Fresh Air prize. Debut or no, 15 or no, this was the Smoothie of the Month, and I don't believe there's a PEDANT who'll argue that in PUBLIC.
That central crossing of triple slip-stacks is a pure knockout, and a number of clues that were pure ENIGMA TICKS. Loved the e/i clue, and appreciated the additional math puns given in the comments. My awareness of 'the big KAHUNA' derives from preteen Gidget readings (she said shamelessly), so thanks, @ThomasoDCCCVIII, for broadening my scope.

Was thinking it odd that SAULT Ste. Marie is pronounced 'Soo', making 32A SOMER Soo -- i.e., Suzanne of Thighmaster fame and star of "Three's Company". Today, her company is more of an Odd Couple, in WALTER MITTY and possibly Ralph Nader, who was definitely no MINOR THREAT. 'Real spoiler', however, didn't work with the crosses.

Seems you can 'wear a path' or 'beat a path'. Since things that are equal to the same thing are equal to each other, apparently that can also be 'ALL IN a path [to one's doorstep]'. CAN IT?

Cool snippet: We have the starchy palm, SAGO, and the date palm, TAMAR.
Clever placement: BIGIDEAS going down, BIGAMIST coming across.
Not to mention the stacked serial CERES REAL

A PESUIT is a fairly distant follower of A JESUIT. Have always been intrigued by what are called Jesuitical arguments.

Now must go deCLUTTER and KICK NAS. Will return later on for a RUM and SHARDonnay.

Delighted to welcome you to the fold, Paolo.

Pocketa, pocketa.

Carola 2:17 PM  

@Leapfinger - Besides the double BIGs, I also enjoyed the CAN-CAN and END on opposite ENDs of two entries.

Leapfinger 2:23 PM  

One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know.
Dr, Lee77, this is me being a PEDANT. Thanks and High Marx for all your good information.

@Aketi,Teedmn linked the BEAVers hating running water; the Onion link came from St. Elsewhere.

@Alias, I'd give my last REDPENny to know how you dreamed up that "Un BEL di" source!!

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

I'm with Anonymous MetroGnome (above). Goodling "e" vs. "i" leaves me clueless. Are you people all for "REAL?"

r.alphbunker 2:32 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
r.alphbunker 2:38 PM  

Had CROU[P] instead of COLIC for a while because of [P]LUTO instead of CERES.

The puzzle has unusual 180/90 degree symmetry. Of the 7,904 puzzles published during the Shortz era only 97 puzzles have had this symmetry. Details of other symmetries are here

What is even more remarkable is that only 5 puzzles have been published with the sweet spot (11 letter crossing stacks in the center) that this puzzle has. Manny Nosowsky had 2, Patrick Berry 1, Roland Huget 1. Paolo has joined some pretty illustrious company! Links to the puzzles are here

Finally the usual analysis is here.

BTW, I am programming all these analyses BECAUSEICAN :-)

Alan 2:45 PM  

Wow that went fast. BIGIDEAS first, the UNIFORM let me DIGSIN quickly, and then it just continued to fall. A little bit of jumping around, but not very much slowing down. Writeovers on REDink and ATHENa, but crosses easily fixed. MAGELLAN on top of APESUIT, I hear they're very comfortable wear for sailing.

Fastest Friday ever for the second week in row for me. Four minutes faster than yesterday, and yesterday was faster than my average Thursday.

Not often that I feel old at 30, but when the constructor wasn't born in the same millennium...

AliasZ 2:47 PM  


That is top-secret confidential, strictly need-to-know. Sorry, I cannot divulge the source. I will certainly express my gratitude next time, and there will be a royalty disbursement in the form of csirkepaprikás and Tokaji aszú at André's.

DrLee767 2:58 PM  

@Anonymous 2:32 and others Both e and i are math terms. "e" is a math constant about approximately 2.72 and is the base of "natural" logarithm system. It is an "irrational" number since it is not evenly divisible and never yields a repeating decimal series like .333333... or .123123123... It is a REAL number since it can be calculated as the limit of (1+1/n) to the nth power.

"i" is an IMAGINARY number defined as the square root of negative 1. The problem is that the product of 2 negative numbers must be a positive number. Therefore, there is no REAL number that multiplied by itself = -1.

However, many advanced math and physics problems require the use of squares of - numbers so i is defined as the square root of -1 and all other negative square roots are multiples of this. A number containing i is called a complex. number.

Believe me; I don't pretend to understand or be able to do math this complex either.

@George B. No PEDANTry is taken. I have seen this quoted many ways.

Steve M 3:10 PM  

Super Friday

chefbea 3:57 PM  

Proper punctuation can make the difference between a sentence that's well-written and a sentence that's, well, written.

mathguy 4:10 PM  

The term "real number" is a curious one. It may have been coined by Descartes in the 1600s to distinguish the relatively-new system of numbers called complex numbers from the traditional system of numbers which didn't involve the imaginary unit, i. Of course the real numbers are not any more real than the complex numbers. They are all abstractions that don't have any tangible existence in the "real world." The closest that a real number comes to being real is that it can be represented by a point on an axis of the coordinate plane. But a complex number can also be represented by a point on a graph. This graph has the real numbers on the horizontal axis and multiples of i on the vertical axis.

r.alphbunker 4:14 PM  

And Leopold Kronecker wrote "God made the integers; all else is the work of man."

mathguy 4:16 PM  

Does anyone else do the LAT puzzle regularly? I've been doing the non-Sunday's for a couple of months now. Generally, they all have themes except for the Saturdays. They're a little easier but I seem to enjoy them more. Today's was quite delightful and a bit harder than the NYT.

Katzzz 4:34 PM  

Had Athena not Athene. Could make no sense of the e not i clue. But "playground staple?" Ah ha! Adidas. And I was done, with a celestial object named "Cerea" and "read" for the e but not i clue, which made no sense but neither did the right answer. OK, so I screwed that up. But I liked the puzzle a lot.

John Child 4:35 PM  

POW! I love 90-degree symmetry. Thanks Mr Pasco. Hope to see more!

John Child 4:40 PM  

@R.alph: That's a great quote, but a lot of natural -- "God-given"? -- physical constants are so small that they are integers only if the base units are 10-to-the-minus-a-lot.

Rex Parker 5:22 PM  

"It amazes me that 15-year-old PoPo knew who ANITRA was but Rex didn't."

And it amazes me how ignorant this comment is.

Just because something appears in a grid doesn't mean the constructor "knew" it ahead of time. Paolo might in fact be an opera aficionado, but more likely he used constructing software and ANITRA was a wordlist / software suggestion. Constructors *learn* by constructing. All. The Time.


PS "PoPo" is neither clever nor apt nor endearing. It's slang for "police." Stop.

jae 6:26 PM  

@mathguy - I get the LAT delivered to my door. It's a much better paper than the San Diego Union Tribune, but I digress. Your impression of the puzzles mirrors mine, except that I think the LAT Sat. themeless ones are on a par with the NYT Sat. puzzles.

Anonymous 7:07 PM  

Neat, but seemed to be more of a Thursday than a Friday.

Billy C 8:02 PM  

Agree with @rex.

Z 8:03 PM  

If a twelve year old can become a grandmaster in chess, a fifteen year-old constructing a competent, nay, good puzzle is not note-worthy. No, my question is why aren't they this good every day?

@Lewis - I like the way you think.

@Rex Parker - what next? The Wizard is just a carny and Santa wears a fake beard?

Teedmn 8:05 PM  

Congrats, Paolo Pasco, and I hope for more.

A bit easy for me for a Friday. Holding off in the SE to see whether the playground SwingS or SLIDES helped me avoid some trouble. I worked into the NE from below so when 10D had TRA, I first said elecTRA, no, ANITRA, remembering from my long ago piano lessons ANITRA's dance, adapted for piano. Went to Spotify to listen and confirm - indeed.

It was fun to see SOMERSAULTS emerge from SOME__AULTS and I said "Wow" to SCRAPE, plus BIGAMIST, LEAD, SHARDS, PATH, and CHAP (thanks, @Lewis, for the Get cracking? image).

@Leapfinger, thanks for clearing up the Onion reference, I can't take credit for that one. And I also have you to thank for my knowledge of Thurber's dislike of the WALTER MITTY movie with Danny Kaye, due to my investigation into guinea pigs and zithers earlier this week. I don't usually like Ben Stiller movies but I liked him in the new version of TSLOWM. This doesn't mean I think Thurber would like it better - it still has only a vague connection with the original story.

And Prufrock is now wandering yellow fog-filled streets in my mind, said fog rubbing muzzles on window panes while the women come and go, talking of Michaelangelo. (When the iPad is temporarily on the fritz, it is good to have T.S at hand. "Portrait of a Lady" up next.)

Nancy 9:03 PM  

@Lewis (12:12) I feel there are certain people on this blog -- and they seem to be the very people who are also constructors -- who boast a far more sophisticated and multi-faceted appreciation of crosswords than I have. Now I understand the appeal of unusual, clever, and misleading cluing. I understand the appeal of long, lively, seldom-used words in the fill. And I certainly understand the appeal of the trick puzzle in its many imaginative guises. But, Lewis, what on earth is a "gorgeous grid"? I mean, I've seen gorgeous sunsets and gorgeous paintings and gorgeous men and women. But a gorgeous GRID? I guess it would have to have symmetry, but don't ALL puzzles have symmetry? I sort of don't get the concept of going APESUIT (as you put it) over a grid.

Melodious Funk 11:11 PM  

What a delight to see Rex chime in with a totally appropriate series of comments. And calling out that pretentious, condescending, sanctimonious dipwad is well overdue.

Questina is as usual on the mark, this constructor is clearly a master. High praise.

KFC 11:31 PM  

I have to agree with Mr. Funk, but would have added douche bag.

Fred Romagnolo 5:37 AM  

Unless I misread it, Rex seems to be under the impression that ANITRA is from an opera.

Leapfinger 8:34 AM  

@FredRom, That's the kind of thing that happens when a person stereotypecasts in a hurry. He probably felt that as one poke over the line. (Sweet Hay-Soos)

Aren't you also old enough to remember Guy Mitchell's "Feet Up, Pat Him on the PoPo"? Pretty endearing. At the time.

Enough. I have my week end of the bargain to hold up now.

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

I still don't understand how is e a number?

Anna's Thesia 10:16 AM

e, the mathematical constant also known as Euler's number and the base of the natural logarithm

real number (any number that can be expressed as a decimal, including, among others, the integers and rational numbers)

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

I'm MADABOUTYOU BECAUSEICANSEE your ENDOWED, and you're a MASKED STREAKER in this PUBLIC crowd, with no UNIFORM CLEARUP to your head, CANIT be you're a CHAP who has BIGIDEAS in bed? ANITRA BEL MAGELLAN wrote PASSON ENIGMA. Couldn't find a place for KAHUNAS nor SOMERSAULTS.

rondo 11:00 AM  

Agree that it's a good puz. And appears symmetric all around. But it does lack CLUTTER in part to 36 black squares, which is more than yesterday and more than many times. But I could never pull it off.

One write-over at SaRong, must still have Dorothy Lamour in my head.

First entry was ESTOPS, thanks to law school (and many xwords).

I've told of my being a PUBLIC STREAKER in previous posts. I kinda felt like a DUMAS after.

"Gotta check out", as my wife NAGGED. Leaving Chi-town for further adventures.

spacecraft 11:53 AM  

Strange that OFL started in the NW; for me that was the very last to fall--and nearly didn't. Took me forever to see that "Open" was, DUH, PUBLIC. And what's the BIGIDEA? That answer seems awfully green-paintish to me.

OK, SCRAPE means damage. Fix??? Oh, as, I'm in a real FIX now, guys. Is that it? This CLUE was really weird. The long centrals, I agree, were an incredible achievement. I needed every single cross to come up with KICKSTARTER: Money since 2009? Never heard of it. Despite the MADABOUTYOU and WALTERMITTY entries, this is a decidedly youth-oriented layout. No wonder. If this is indeed the debut of a 15-year-old, then watch out, all you Patricks! Fresh new blood is surging down the old artery! Paolo, you have scored a HIT, without even any CLUTTER. A+, and don't stop now!

sdcheezhd 2:18 PM  

So I had BIGAMIST, then saw get cracking and figured it must be BIGIMIST so WHIP would fit, then it was CHIP instead of WHIP which still works so I never got around to fixing it. Good puzzle.

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

Hey Nancy, LOVE your comments. Straight from the hip, blunt, to the point and hilarious. The puzzle was great (Not gorgeous, Nancy) and clever. Not one look-up this time for me. These youngsters are blowing my aged graying mind. Thank you Mr. Pa Pa (No offense).

Everything has been said so I'll just sign off as Ron Diego

From La Mesa, CA (Where the Australian Strumpet if our City flower).

leftcoastTAM 5:03 PM  

Very nice, smooth Friday because of a solid puzzle by no-matter-how-old-he-is. I enjoyed it. Thanks, Paulo Pasco.

My DNF was in the NE, where I Naticked the SeGOs/KehUNAS cross.

D_Johnson 7:03 PM  

I haven't read all the responses, so someone probably beat me to it, but in math lower case I is an imaginary number, while e is the natural logarithm base 2.718... a real number. But I had to bing to get Timecop.

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