Longtime grandmotherly General Hospital actress / FRI 2-19-16 / Town hear Ireland's Shannon airport / Short-beaked bird / NBA coach Spoelstra / Danny's love in Ocean's Eleven / Town near Ireland's Shannon airport / Engineer Gray who co-founded Western Electric / View from UN memoirist / Port alternative

Friday, February 19, 2016

Constructor: Jacob Stulberg

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: composers inside composers — composers whose names end with the names of other composers—so one composer clued as two:

Theme answers:
  • 17. & 18A: Italian-born composer (MONTEVERDI) (i.e. MONTEVERDI *and* VERDI)
  • 34. & 35A: German-born composer (OFFENBACH) (i.e. OFFENBACH *and* BACH)
  • 59. & 60A: Austrian-born composer (SCHOENBERG) (i.e. SCHOENBERG *and* BERG)
Word of the Day: ELISHA Gray (46D: Engineer Gray who co-founded Western Electric) —
Elisha Gray (August 2, 1835 – January 21, 1901) was an American electrical engineer who co-founded the Western Electric Manufacturing Company. Gray is best known for his development of a telephone prototype in 1876 in Highland Park, Illinois. Some recent authors have argued that Gray should be considered the true inventor of the telephone because Alexander Graham Bell allegedly stole the idea of the liquid transmitter from him, although Bell had been using liquid transmitters in his telephone experiments for more than two years previously. Bell's telephone patent was held up in numerous court decisions. (wikipedia)
• • •

This was way outside of my comfort zone, so I ended up with a time well north of my normal *Saturday* time, nowhere close to my average Friday time. To be honest, I only know half these composers. I mean, OFFENBACH and SCHOENBERG and BERG are names that I might recognize as composers if you schoewed them to me, but ... I couldn't name anything by them. Also, I honestly didn't understand the theme for the longest time, and the cluing seemed both trivial and hard. Whole NW was a wash for me the first time around. Only got a toe-hold in this thing because of COLA / COKE. After that, the NE came together pretty quickly, but that helped hardly at all.

Eventually worked up and over to the VERDI part, but ... no idea about the first part. Couldn't remember VERDI's first name, then sort of thought it was "Giuseppe" (which it is), but that didn't fit, and since FIAT (1A: Order) and ENNIS (13A: Town near Ireland's Shannon airport) and TIT (4D: Short-beaked bird) and (obviously) FEMBOT (1D: "Austin Powers" villain) were (at that point) beyond me, I was just stuck. Had to start over completely in the SW, with (I think) LITE EEKS ERIK SANS. That got me the symmetrical counterpart to the part I'd filled in up top, but again, no further. All themers, and both NW and SE, still mostly empty.

Please note that by this point I had managed to ditch the incorrect DR. EVIL but had decided that ORFF was one of the composers, and maybe the center themer was ORFF 'N' BACH (?). Oy. Also, note the BAA (as in "BAA BAA, black sheep"). I have never thought of "BYE" as a "cry," so ... yeah. I was just screwed. What are the roman numerals of Pope Benedict? No idea. Did you know POPE FRANCIS fits in that space? It does. Pulling teeth, I tell you. Pretty sure that TIE RODS was the answer that finally got things going in the NW. The SE was definitely the last thing to fall. GORSE ELISHA TESS ANNALEE ... I couldn't do anything with this puzzle. I think the concept is cute, but between my not really knowing so many of the names, and some occasionally icky answers like SRIS and OBLADI, and the pretentious faux-Latin plural SYLLABI (41A: Class lists?) (I am a longtime hardliner on this issue: #TeamSyllabuses), I just didn't enjoy myself much. Today, though, I think the problems are mostly mine, not the puzzle's. My struggle with composer names is especially ironic tonight, as I literally just got home from ... the opera. The first opera I've ever attended in my life. The director (Warren Jones) is a reader of this blog and offered me tickets to opening night and I thought "Sure, why not?" Got to see Menotti's "The Telephone" followed by Bernstein's "Trouble in Tahiti"—really wonderful, funny mid-century stuff ... but none of it helped me solve this puzzle.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:03 AM  

I finished this one, out of stubbornness and spite, but I hated it and think it was ridiculously bad.

jae 12:10 AM  

Mostly medium for me. Composers are not my forte so let's just say OBLADI was a gimme, while the mini-theme took a bit of effort. That said, the composer inside the composer idea was very clever and the gird had some zip.

Erasure: spelling MADEIRA correctly. Did not make the DR EVIL error as OBLADI and TIE RODS were my first entries. So, my path through this one was a tad smoother than Rex's.

Solid Fri., liked it.

jp flanigan 12:36 AM  

First thing I wrote in was OBLADI, but erased it to fit DREVIL. Once i got VERDI in there i had no problem with the theme answers, although i had a bit of trouble spelling SHOENBERG. BARACKOBAMA also fit for BENEDICTXVI...not sure why i thought that would be his first Tweet, but that gave me fits.

Anonymous 12:41 AM  

AFAIC MONTEVERDE is the name of the Green Mountains of Vermont when the 'Nucks finally take over. And they will, or Vermont will secede and join them once Bernie looses. ANNALEE didn't ring a bel.

madchickenlittle 12:59 AM  

It's not just you. This was well outside my wheelhouse. A grind in the worst way.

Unknown 3:19 AM  

I am not an opera expert, but I listen to three operas with semi-regularity: Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro," Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde," and MONTEVERDI's "L'Orfeo." The trumpet passage at the very beginning of "L'Orfeo" always fills me with joy. :)

When I was young, my mother told me that MONTEVERDI's grave never lacked flowers. Somehow I always remembered that fact, but I never thought to verify or disprove it until today. A bit of Google searching tells me that, yes, there are fresh flowers laid at his grave each day. I had always envisioned a tomb outdoors covered with bright flowers. Online photos show a marble marker in a church floor on which is laid a single bouquet.

I only know OFFENBACH by name. Alas, why did the constructor go with OFFENBACH instead of P.D.Q. BACH? ;)

I did not know Alban BERG.

Had DR. EVIL and POPE FRANCIS as well. When EDIBLES fell, my partner suggested the correction, "BOPE FRANCIS"?! I'm not sure why, but that cracked me up. BOPE FRANCIS! Also, in a you-had-to-be-there moment, we figured out OB-LA-DI at the same time and simultaneously spoke the answer with the same disappointed tone of voice. I like the Beatles but, ugh, OB-LA-DI.

Dave 5:02 AM  

Hand up for DREVIL and POPEFRANCIS.They were tough to abandon. Last night's episode of Jeopardy had a clue about Benedict XVI which was very timely and helpful. And like on Jeopardy, I never ever do well with categories involving classical music, Broadway or opera which made today's puzzle less than fun given it's built around composers. That said it is a rewarding feeling to persevere through a grid far outside of my general knowledge wheel house.

mac 5:33 AM  

Medium for me, but I was held up a while trying to get "Giuseppe" in Monte's spot. Didn't remember Benedicts nr., so had to piece that together through crosses.

Very good puzzle!

Anonymous 5:48 AM  

Definitely harder than most. I thought it skewed towards a "dead white man" solver demographic. No, not the opera composers. Us.

Opera? Ugh.


Brett Hendrickson 6:44 AM  

For sure, DREVIL and POPEFRANCIS collaborated to make this a tough one. I also intensely dislike European rivers, though you think I would know them by now given how often they flow through the crossword.

Hartley70 6:45 AM  

I'm going to get dressed and run out to buy a lottery ticket because this is my Lucky Friday. The list of answers I didn't know is prodigious, yet every letter I guessed was correct and I got the happy pencil in record time. I didn't even get the theme of composer inside composer because I'd never heard of BERG. I thought the down in the middle had something to do with a first name and SCHOENBERG was called BOY his whole life. Talk about dumb luck!

Loren Muse Smith 6:46 AM  

Oh my gosh. Think about how cool this is.

1. Notice that some famous last names can be the last part of another famous last name. Hard enough, that. (Kelly Rutherford, Gerald Ford. Yawn.)
2. Tighten the idea up to look at only a certain group. (Hayes B Rutherford, Gerald Ford. Yawn some more.). Jacob went with composers.
3. Ok. Now tighten it some more by finding pairs from the same country.
4. Make it crossworthy by finding two pairs that are symmetrical! (Otherwise this discovery would have never seen the light of day in a grid. Think of all the other cool stuff out there that can’t be highlighted because of a letter count.)

The more I think about this, the more stunned I am by this feat.

Before I figured out the theme, I had “_ _ _ _ Mozart” crossing “museum.”

Rex – the northwest was a wash for me, too, but it just washed me right on out of the game. I didn't know FEMBOT or ANNA LEE, so FIAT and TIE RODS were just never gonna happen. I had a desperate "oil rods."

And I'm with you on the "syllabuses" thing. I just got a smart board that came with a stylus and a spare one just in case. I've been walking around with them, polling people on whether they like "styli" or "styluses." Honestly, I think I'd feel like a jerk running around saying "styli" or "syllabi."

I had to sniff around forever just to get a start here. I finally found it with SANS/MADEIRA. Then I was thinking that the food would be "vittles" and thinking it's not spelled that way and hating my Two-Faced-Language-Change-is-Great-Syllabuses self for even worrying about it.

Then I had a ridiculous "Beneficent I" for the tweeter. Sheesh. I guess I was just going with one roman numeral.

UTHANT and GORSE were utter woes, but I got'em with the crosses.

I also actually started filling in "paid assassin" for Carlos but ran out of squares. That's wrong, I'm sure. Whatever the case, if you’re Anybody the Jackal, it can’t be good.

This was a remarkable puzzle. I won’t ever forget it.

Loren Muse Smith 6:55 AM  

Ok – so I never read Jeff Chen until after I post. I just read his take and have to add a #5 to my list of steps in making this tour de force:

5. Design a grid that allows the second part of the name to have its own numbered clue.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? SERIOUSLY? This is insanely clever!

Jacob had me at MONTEVERDI, but, man, to give VERDI, BACH, and BERG their own private across clue numbers… my cup runneth over.

GILL I. 7:02 AM  

You can be in love with classical music and yet not enjoy the opera. My family, (especially my dad) would always take us to the opera. My first was La Boheme and I remember wanting Mimi to finally just die...I was about 10...On the other hand, I can spend hours listening to concertos. I would have married Mahler and listening to the VERDI Requiem in an ancient theater in Epidaurus (sp?) Greece, converted me to concertos forever....My brother was a conductor, so that may have influenced me. Plus, he was very funny and a genius.
Oh, the puzzle...! Well, it was different and I thought pleasant enough except for all the names I didn't know like FEMBOT ANNALEE ELISHA STOUTER ERIK. And @Rex, oy, here too, with SYLLABI. Isn't that called a facetious mock-erudite plural?
NOMEDEGUERRE was probably my favorite because I got it off the G in I DIG IT...That always makes me happy.
It's often hooked....BRA. I would have preferred UNhooked.
TEN FOUR and out.

chefbea 7:47 AM  

Too tough for me ...but a great concept with all those composers

Glimmerglass 7:56 AM  

@LMS. Great review -- better than @Rex. I agree completely with both of you. I eventually and with a lot of hard work got five of the six composers, but I guessed "green bridge" when MONTEVERDI is "green mountain," and so wound up with FEpBOT (I hate the Austin Powers movies). So one error on the very challenging puzzle -- I think that's a great morning. I also agree about syllabi and styli, but the one that sounds most affected to me is "concerti" (pronounced conchertee). Yes, I know that's the correct Italian plural of concerto, but it sounds like an artsy showoff to me.

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

Medium for me. A recent trip to Ireland helped me get ENNIS and GORSE (it's everywhere over there). Like several of you I started with POPE FRANCIS but the crosses just weren't there, so BENEDICT seemed like the next best avenue, and voila!

Lobster11 8:07 AM  

I could spend three days on this puzzle and not manage to fill in half of it. In part, of course, that's because the theme was so far out of my wheelhouse. So, OK, I'm not up on my classical composers. My bad. What ticks me off, though, is that even if I knew the themers, I'd still only be able to finish about 3/4 of the puzzle. Kudos to the constructors for pulling off such a neat trick, but with a theme that is likely to be very difficult for many or most solvers, the difficulty level of the rest should have been knocked down a notch or two.

archaeoprof 8:31 AM  

LOVE this puzzle. @Rex: been to the opera twice. Aida. Feel asleep both times.

r.alphbunker 8:33 AM  

65A. {Ligurian Sea feeder} ARAL-->ARNO
54A. {His first tweet ended "I bless all of you from my heart"} POPEFRANCIS-->BENEDICTXVI
33A. {Danny's love in "Ocean's Eleven"} BESS-->TESS
35D. {Cry that's often doubled} RAH-->BYE
6D. {Jumble behind a computer desk} WIRES-->CORDS
32D. {Hosp. staffers} DRS-->RNS
1A. {Order} SORT-->FIAT
31A. {"Understood"} ICONCUR-->TENFOUR
1D. {"Austin Powers" villain} DREVIL-->FEMBOT
20A. {It's often hooked} JAB-->BRA

@AliasZ and @George Barany must be in heaven.

Sir Hillary 8:40 AM  

Wow. For me, this puzzle is a complete repudiation of my self-styled and heretofore unbreakable rule that I could never tolerate a theme on a Friday, particular if said theme was somewhat outside my wheelhouse.

This is a wonderful puzzle. @LMS enumerates the brilliance required to put it all together, and to her #5 I would clarify that the second name had to have the next number in sequence as its clue. I can't even imagine how hard this was to pull off -- feels Berry-esque or Gaffney-esque.

But beyond constructor gymnastics, this was just a fun solve. NOMDEGUERRE and BENEDICTXVI (a "nom de papacy")? OVERATE EDIBLES? VOIDOF and SANS? TIERODS on the ECONOMY car? MADEIRA and COKE (yikes!)? SENDOFF INORBIT? Yeah, I'm ALLEARS, IWANTIN, IDIGIT! XOXO!

Old Lady 8:47 AM  

Loved the puzzle for all the reasons others didn't. Saw Berg's Lulu as part of Live in HD at the Met. Very sexy, dark. Great construction. Started typical Friday slow. Caught on with Offenbach. Toyed with POPEFRANCIS, who is getting lots of ink these days but didn't put into puzzle. One weak point. In spite of watching GH from its start in 1963 for about 30 years, didn't know grandmotherly actress. Finished a Friday puzzle before I hit the bottom of my second cup of coffee. Yay!

pmdm 9:05 AM  

Never heard of Offenbach? I bet you've heard at least one of the things he wrote - the CAN CAN. I have to get to a 11 PM NY Philharmonic concert today so I don't have time to include a link. Maybe someone else could.
Mr. Stulberg was a classical music DJ on WKCR while he was an undergraduate at Columbia. I'm not surprised he include classical music composers in his puzzles.

The write-up speaks about opera. Moneteverdi wrote the first opera. Has that already been said? I don't have time to look.

The combination of Schoenberg and Berg is interesting, because with Anton Webern they form the trio that "invented" atonal music.

I enjoyed the puzzle and am always glad when a rare late week theme puzzle is published.

Teedmn 9:31 AM  

Yup, more of a Saturday for me since classical music is not in my wheelhouse. Like @Rex, I got my start in the NE, albeit through OVERATE and OVAL. osiERS instead of ALDERS kept me from moving back into the NW so I ran down south to MADEIRA. 44A briefly held me up with DAlliES crossing I'll joIN but a run-around from behind using BENEDICTXVI fixed that.

OBLADI went right in but I took it out when I couldn't come up with anything _OI meaning "without" so it was pleasing when VOID OF gave me that back. One DNF at the Y of YEAGER, and yeah, ECONOMs looked horrible but I thought it was "sEAGER" (can't blame the altitude anymore, I'm mostly acclimated today).

I fell for Dr. Evil as well but I have stayed overnight at ENNIS, and while Limerick is closer, I think, it didn't fit. (Google Maps says Limerick is one km closer so there!)

Nice, tough Friday, JS, you'll be BACH soon, I'm sure.

RooMonster 9:38 AM  

Hey All !
FEMBOT! ARGH! I had good old (bad old?) Dr. Evil in there til the bitter end, thinking, "What other villian? Fat Bastard? No. Goldmember? No. Number 2? No. Alotta Fagina? No. Mini Me... maybe..., no. Finally had to cheat and Goog the Shannon Airport town. Saw it must be ENNIS, so looked for alternative answers for the Acrosses. Didn't help that I had freeOF for VOIDOF, and off the I of Dr. Evil had I wanna for OBLADI. That NW was last to fall. But figured it all out, and actually managed to finish with no errors! Woo Hoo! Just two Googs, which I consider Not a DNF. :-) The ENNIS one, and knew it was U THANT, but didn't know how to spell it!

In the SE, the YEAGER clue was confusing, and IMMERSE took a long time to see, as subMERSE wouldn't get out of the ole brain. And GORSE a WOE. Wanted aYE for BYE at first, but aACH just didn't look right. Also, trying to see if it was RNS or drS, waiting it out but the crosses weren't playing nice! After head slap on TENFOUR, it all fell. No idea on time, didn't do online, but fairly long!

Don't know composers, but was able to wrangle out SCHOENBERG from some dark recess of the brain. I do know JS BACH, but not OFFENBACH. And wanted fERmI for VERDI! Isn't FERMI someone with science? Or am I off on that too?

AHEM, this puz was STOUTER than some, with some EEKS. Fairly VOID OF dreck, thank goodness I wasn't solving ON TIME, I might have KEELed over, as I was IN ORBIT on some of the CLUEs. No HOAX, I DIG IT, YSER. TEN FOUR. BYE.


kitshef 10:03 AM  

Medium for me - way easier than yesterday. My route seems to have been similar to @Rex's. KEEL was first in which gave me the NE. Next in was popefrancis, which led to the incorrect but fortunate stapLES and then the SW fell. Fell for the drevil trap, then changed to minime, before OBLADI eventually cracked that area.

We've had discussions on this board before about how the gyrations constructors go through to be unique can have a negative effect on the puzzle. Certainly not the case here. Loren Muse Smith has pointed out the challenges of the construction, yet the solve was a lot of fun. My only complaint is that awful last row: SANS ARNO YSER.

On plurals, my father used to tell a story about being in physics class. The professor had left the room for a period and on his return asked "Have we finished out experiments with the pendula?" A wag replied "Yes, now we are sitting on our ba".

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:11 AM  

LOnce again finished in the Northwest. Actually I didn't finish, when I was left with the crosses of Austin Powers and the Irish town and the BRA I had thought was a RUG, I lost interest. But I will say that knowing the composers and the Shakespeare does not get you as far as it ought to in this one. Cluing TESS from some cruddy recent movie?

Greg 10:27 AM  

Only reason I had a prayer of finishing this is because I make my living as an opera singer, so I got the themers pretty quickly. Otherwise it would have been hopeless. Far too many proper names and places for me. Once again, a geographic and historical trivia quiz masquerading as a "word puzzle". Give me clever and challenging word play and cluing, please, and save ELISHA, ENNIS, ARNO and YSER for trivia night at the pub.

Wendy the former snowperson 10:30 AM  

I think this is a great puzzle! No dreck, no crappy fill, just smart and challenging all around. All my years of going to the Symphony have finally paid off! Funniest moment: 38 a. Started out with Mulp. (My oldest friend's Dad is named Emil.) Hand up for Pope Francis. BTW Today is the anniversary of the day in 1781 when the town of Natick, Massachusetts was incorporated. Thought you'd want to know.

Robso 10:40 AM  

This finally fell for me, and I liked it. The only complaint I have is the cluing for the composers--shouldn't the clue be plural, since the answer contains two? I.e., "Italian-born composers?"

Katzzz 10:44 AM  

Great workout. Composers names within composers names! Brilliant. Sort of shocked that I finished since the first two answers I wrote in (Dr. Evil and Pope Francis) were wrong and I didn't have much else (and almost was going to go with "Argentinian" for Carlos the Jackal clue, which would have been doubly wrong; he was Venezuelan).

gifcan 10:51 AM  

I stumbled to victory but victory nonetheless. Last minute change: iNNIS to ENNIS because FiMBOT didn't look right.

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

SE completely destroyed me. Schopenaur looked like it maybe could have been correct and furnance in place of boilers and i was dead.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens 10:56 AM  

Mark Twain on going to an opera: "I haven't heard anything like it since the orphanage burned down."

Chaos344 11:01 AM  

Grrrreat Puzzle! I think it was my favorite Friday this year? My solve was similar to Rex, except that I finished the SE before the SW. The YEAGER/YSER/ECONOMY triad broke open that quadrant fairly quickly for me.

I'll admit that the NW was a bitch. Its completion left me with serious concerns regarding the current health status of an occasional Wordplay blogger who shall remain nameless. If said poster has already solved this puzzle, she is now most likely at a medical facility. The trauma team has probably put her into a pharmacologically induced coma, in order to ensure that her brain doesn't explode! The cause of my concern would be the answers at 4D and 20A appearing in a NYT puzzle on the same day. To make matters even worse, the two answers are is such close proximity to one another(actually touching at the NW corner of the black square), that I'm sure the lady I speak of went into immediate and uncontrollable spasms and lost consciousness soon thereafter. I hope that she had her medical alert alarm around her neck? Those of you who cross-blog here will know of whom I speak.

Older generation 11:02 AM  

It is, and should be, syllabi!

Cassieopia 11:07 AM  

I really liked this. It was hard, and I cheated (googled) a lot, but also learned a lot. For example, I had never heard of the SS Eastland Disaster before (Western Electric founder clue) nor did I know that Jaques Offenbach, French composer of the most famous of the can-can dance tunes, was born in Germany.

Jaques Offenbach was the easiest clue for me once I realized it was not JS Bach or any of his children. I credit a childhood in Fairbanks when we were immersed in gold rush history including the colorful history of the scandalous dancing girls showing their ankles and knees while dancing the can-can.

Z 11:12 AM  

I will grant that this is an amazing piece of xword construction. But is it a good puzzle?

PPP Analysis

Carlos the Jackal clue

23 out of 70, 33%
There's not enough data yet, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that when a third of your answers fall in the PPP category you've got a problem.

Anyone else realize that Macbeth is the same length as LAERTES? Or that all Austin Power villains, including Mini Me are six letters?

I am #TeamSYLLABI. Why? Because "syllabuseseseses" is ugly sounding. Beauty before fastidious correctness I always say.

*When I changed Pope Francis to BENEDICT --- I said, "RRN? Fuck you." As if double cross rivers and UTHANT aren't bad enough, you are resorting to RRN. It's a good thing @LMS is around to provide a little rational perspective.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

Excellent fun! More like this would be welcome. Worthwhile struggle.

Unknown 11:15 AM  

Brutal for a guy who never studied the classics. Had POPEFRANCIS for "I bless you with all of you from my heart" until I got BENEDICTXVI Either way, very pretentious. As much as you think a Pope can bless you, he can't. That's God's job.

AliasZ 11:20 AM  

Now @Rex can feel the pain of not knowing names, and should remember it next time he goes on-and-on about how "fresh" and "hip" a puzzle feels when it's loaded with rapper references, localized street lingo and other pop culture trivia.

No one should be ashamed of knowing these names, classics in every sense of the word.

Yes, MONTEVERDI is the composer who invented the opera as a form, whose basic format is still followed by modern opera composers today, including BERG ("Wozzeck" and "Lulu"). "L'Orfeo" was Monteverdi' first one, and the earliest known opera (1607) that is still regularly staged and performed today. In fact, one of my most memorable concerts was the performance of the opera at Carnegie Hall last year (May 1, 2015).

Who doesn't know the can-can song from OFFENBACH's "Orpheus in the Underworld"? Christoph Willibald Gluck also composed an opera "Orfeo ed Euridice" with the deservedly famous "Dance of the Blessed Spirits." Boy, this Orpheus guy sure got around.

My Natick today was at FIMBOT/INNIS vs. FEMBOT/ENNIS. Either made equal sense to me. My familiarity with Austin Powers trivia stops at Dr. Evil. All other names (ANNALEE, TESS, ARNOLD, ERIK and ARNO & YSER) were easy enough to get from crosses.

Can I say I loved this puzzle without offending anyone?

Arlene 11:26 AM  

I realized right away that this was going to be a research project - so many names and characters I didn't know. BUT, I did know the composers - and saw what the theme was about midway through. Completing the puzzle, though, was a Google-fest - complete with maps, cast lists, etc. etc.
Nice to say that I finished it - with all the help I could get! I'm glad I didn't give up.

Fred Romagnolo 11:29 AM  

@pmdm: He wasn't the first, but he wrote the earliest operas that are still performed (Peri was the first). Since I'm into classical music, and especially Opera (thank God for Operavore) this was a lot easier, but I've got to confess that DrEvil threw me, too. Anna Lee was in a lot of good movies in the 40's including How Green Was My Valley, directed by John Ford (got the Oscar instead of Citizen Kane, which has led a lot of cinemasnobs to down-grade it, unfairly.)

Mike Rees 11:32 AM  

Brutal Friday for difficulty. I finish about 85% of Fridays, maybe 60% without Google. Today was not in that 60%. Way too many things I didn't know here, including ANY of the composers (resident metalhead here). I also started with Dr. Evil (the gimme?!), then changed to Mini Me since I had zero in the NW. That hung me up for a long time. Only Googles were UTHANT, ELISHA and ETHAN. The first one I feel like I should know, the other two? Not a chance. Came in seven minutes slower than average, so I'd say it played hard for me.

Other overwrites were Aral for ARNO, and museum for ALCOVE.

Dorothy Biggs 11:35 AM  

See? You can construct non-pun puzzles. This one was tough, but I give it high marks for the lack of puns.

It took me a while to figure out the composers. I also had drevil for 1D...which made that E at the beginning of 17A a millstone tied around my ankle in the ocean of life. I finally acquiesced and got rid of one villain for FEMBOT...which I would count less as a "villain" and more of a "minion."

ACAI palm is a thing?

I liked the MADEIRA/port reference.

I have no idea what a GORSE is. It's one of those xword moments when I encounter a word that, when I woke up this morning, did not know existed. Looks very Lewis Carroll to me.

Ah, ARNO and YSER...two rivers that exist for nothing more than to fill in xword puzzle holes.

This one was really hard...but I liked it. Mostly because I got that smug feeling when I finished.**

**Oh come on, that's why everyone does these puzzles, isn't it?

Carola 11:38 AM  

Very enjoyable - delightful theme, witty doubling of the two other NOMs, some tricky cluing. I saw the composer doubling early on with MONTEVERDI, but it took me a while to see OFFENBACH and SCHOENBERG. Last fall I had a double dose of BERG with the Met HD broadcast of Lulu that @Old Lady mentioned and a super production of his Wozzeck at the Lyric in Chicago.

Learned from previous crosswords: OBLADI, TIE RODS, dr. evil (which wouldn't fit because of MONTEVERDI). Grid treats for me: SUCCOR, I WANT IN, DAWDLES, LAERTES.

SYLLABI - gosh, I said that for 30 years of teaching and never thought it was "faux."

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

Thought the clue turned south at the second number. Now I get it. So what.

Nancy 11:52 AM  

A joyless grind that I didn't finish, thanks to the name-riddled NW -- though I struggled in all sections. Some of that may have been related to my black mood -- since I'm being kept awake at night by a banging radiator pipe ever since my prewar steam heat apartment building replaced the old BOILER. (They changed the traps in my BR and LR two days ago, and that did nothing to solve the problem.) It's banging right now, as I type. Anyway, my mind kept wandering as I plodded through this, and I was wondering: Is it me or is it the puzzle? I think it's the puzzle, and that I would have hated it even if I were in a good mood.

Anyone know what else can be done to stop this infernal racket? They've bled the pipes and they've lowered the thermostat and they've changed my traps and, yes, the radiator is tilted in the correct direction and nothing is working. Please chime in if you know anything about this!

old timer 12:01 PM  

I'm with @aliasZ here. Being an old white man, the puzzle was on the easy side for me, once I got a foothold. As usual I had to come here to fully understand what was going on.

Joseph Michael 12:08 PM  

Impressive theme and construction, but I agree totally with @Z about the overabundance of proper nouns.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:09 PM  

Excellent puzzle! Challenging indeed, but I loved it!

One w/o, 35 D, AYE >> BYE.

But where is the outrage over 18 A, VERDI? C'mon, folks, this is an American puzzle, so fer Gawd's sake, we should have the American version, VERDUSES!


Z 12:32 PM  

@Alias Z - "Anyone?" Probably not. This is the Age of Rage. Still, most realize that matters of taste are personal.

@Wendy the former snow person - I think you are a perfect example of how the dreck goes right by you when a puzzle is in your wheelhouse. U THANT will be loved by @M&A, but few others. RRN, ARNO, YSER, SRIS... There's plenty of drecky ese here. Make a puzzle of Elvis Costello titles and I'd probably never see X RRNs making it work. I do prefer a TIT to an ern or an emu, so there's that.

@Robso - look at the clues again. Carefully worded to avoid need the plural, keeping the trick hidden just a little bit longer.

Unknown 12:33 PM  

@LMS – Great rundown on what it took to construct this!! Didn’t try to "see", let alone get, any of that, but having opened my eyes to it, I am also in awe. Thanks!

Started off with some 12 words scattered around, primarily in the NE and SW. A few ideas here and there but it was obvious to me and so said to myself, “Self? I’m in big trouble!” I just knew some things were very wrong. At this point I did an unusual “check puzzle.” Indeed, about half of what I had entered was wrong. Cleared all the wrong stuff, regrouped, and slowly things started to work better than my initial foray.

I was eventually happy to see that ideas I first had, like UTHANT / AHEM / IMMERSE / XOXO / SUCCOR were correct. I had “assist” at first for the last but with was thinking SUCCOR would be a much better one for a Friday. With a few other good guesses from somewhere in the memory banks and with only one gimme-this-letter cheat, I finally arrived at a fill that I was told had error(s). I found two wrong letters (on my own) and got the happy jingle. Really tough, but fun!!

This was one of those where I thought there was no way. I don’t feel too bad about my very early check puzzle. I knew I had taken some very wrong roads but could not figure out which ones. Sometimes ya just gotta drop back ten and punt. (That’s football jargon generally meaning to back up and regroup, as in, “Well, THAT didn’t work!”)

Things to go and places to do so only a few “BOYs” (wows) to and from me:

Nice cluster of OFFENhauser (Indy 50 engine), CORDS / FIAT (the cars), another Italian (who, it can be safely assumed, never drove a FIAT), TIE RODS, TIE RODS, STOUTER*, and the ubiquitous TEN FOUR used on car/truck CB radios.
* The kind to look for in a car parts catalogue index preparing for, say, the Baja 1000.

FEMBOT EDIBLES – I shudder to think, not knowing a thing about the movie.

LITE SCHOENBERG – an oxymoron.

I’D A CLUE ONE TIME, but no clue when that was.

DAWDLES ECONOMY – Legislative malfeasance (just MHO)

OVERATE BOILERS? – Never did that (whatever they are. @Tita - an English sausage perhaps?), but did OVERdrink some BOILER-makers….once! (n.b. et sic). I suppose MADERIA could also put one IN ORBIT. PSA: Either way it’s not a good thing to do then drive a CORD, FIAT, or any other vehicle (although a bumper car?….making sure someone is there to say “AHEM” about the seat belt).

X OXO? Don’t do that often. They make some good stuff.

One of my music profs in college (electives, not my major) had studied with SCHOENBERG. He went to see him to argue in favor of a higher grade for a paper. The question revolved around some comparison between composers of which he thought Schonberg was unaware. Schoenberg, whose study was lined with shelves full of music scores of all types from all eras, instructed him to pull out any one of them, give him a page number. He said he would sit down and play it on the piano -- from memory. Asked by a student what he did then, he said, in the face of that, what could he do? He left. Scary dude (Schoenberg, not my prof.)


Lewis 12:34 PM  

@rex -- Terrific writeup. Funny, and you beautifully described much of what I went through.

Astonished by the theme and it's execution. Surely the composer-within-composer-from-the-same-country -- three times! -- has been pointed out before in this world, but I've never seen it. So that blew me away, and to make it fit the puzzle's numbering required lots of work, I'm guessing. But even without the theme this puzzle had true grit, so true, that I needed a bit of help. No guilt there, as it allowed me to do some more satisfying solving. I liked the answers DAWDLES, SUCCOR, TENFOUR, and ALLEARS, and the clue for BRA. This was a memorable puzzle, and the kind of solve I love.

Vincent Lima 12:40 PM  

Best part of this puzzle was seeing that Rex classified it as "Challenging" – and I had solved it!

Like many, I had POPEFRANCIS, but his shtick is "Pray for me," rather than, "I bless . . . you," so I had my doubts. When I saw the clue for what had to be MADEIRA, BENEDICT___ went in.

For the northeast, I started of course with *DREVIL, which couldn’t be right because of OBLADI. On the strength of the L of OBLADI and the E of TENFOUR, I guessed SARALEE, which gave me some traction until LESBOT became FEMBOT, LIST became FIAT, SARALEE became ANNALEE, and the puzzle finally yielded.

Masked and Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Oh, my guerreness …
Well, I admire the skill and cunning that went into craftin this fine beast of a (themed!) FriPuz, but no way in TESS'S ENNIS could I have solved it, without "extensive research" SUCCOR & abetment.

Part of M&A's problem would be the classical music themer names. I do know yer 4 B's: Brahms. Beethoven. BACH. Baby Huey & the Babysitters. Also, VERDI sounds pretty familiar, from other crosswords.
Shoot -- U coulda told me that Stulberg was a famous composer name, and fooled me. Come to think of it, he kinda is, today… Thanx for the ferocious workout, dude.

* 4 U's. Okay, but a few SYLLABI short of a concerto.
* SRIS. Looks so wrong, yet IDIGIT. Just gotta envision the double-?? CLUE possibilities: {TAO'S company, ___ a crowd??}.
* U THANT. Now there's the crownin jewel of first names, dudes & dudesses. Says it all. Can't yah just see the confusion in a crowded airport, when I try to flag him down for an autograph: "Hey -- U!" "NO… not you… U!" (Also, asking for an autograph dedication of "2 M + A". But, I digress.)
* SENDOFF OFFEN, BACH? -- "Nein, Em und Ah… Ich just mailorder an occasional pizza outta Monte Verdi."
* EMIL. Great clue! Was a gimme, off the ???L. Sometimes U just needs that extra lil fruit hint, Thant.
* weeject cafe: enjoyed the whole ATA BOY, IDA BRA TIT vibe.

Tough SUCCORs:
* About everything else, really. Clues were awful hard. Got COKE, COLA, and XOXO pretty fast, tho.
* GORSE. Coulda been g-worse. Evidently this has been clued as {Furze}, in the crossword-good-ol-days. (Way way back, when the only INTERNET xwordclue was: {Group of gravediggers}.)

Nice write-up, @muse. Nice pic of a green, mountain-shaped cloud, @009.

SYLLA BI BI, folks. SRIS yah later. YSER.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


puzzle hoarder 12:49 PM  

I want to correct myself. Yesterday's grid was not clean. I didn't see my PONTI/POSTI mistake until reading the later comments.
Today's did come out clean. I don't have the musical knowledge of your average solver so the composers went in with the help of crosses. 59A is the only one I haven't seen in a puzzle but it was familiar anyway.
OBAHDI went in before OBLADI. I should really be more familiar with that as it's been used a number of times. I don't have a real good "ear." That was about the only write over.
The SE went in last. YEAGER opened it up. That made LEA obvious. That's why I don't complain much about ese it can really help out with the challenging puzzles(ARNO/YSER.) UTHANT was one of those answers where I think it just has to be right.

Thomas 1:04 PM  

Two Shakespeares in one puzzle is a little annoying.

I messed up with the incorrect DREVIL for FEMBOT (duh) (then MINIME!) and OYE for BYE.

OYE is a much, much better answer, I think.

The only thing saving OBLADI is that it is a Beatles reference, and thus, likely rather well-known.

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

Brilliant puzzle. For all the right reasons. Agree with AliasZ whose music selections are a welcome bonus.

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

This puzzle was a tough one for me and large patches of it remained blank. Furthermore I did not get the theme until I came to this blog.
Having said all that I think that Rex has given a very short shrift to the insanely clever idea of finding pairs of composers to fit the theme. Rex is not excited about the composer-based theme but MONTEVERDI, VERDI, OFFENBACH, BACH, SHOENBERG, BERG are not obscure composers. Not more than any TV characters, sport figures or characters from Greek mythology.

RooMonster 1:31 PM  

Mr. @Z, all Austin Powers villians are seven letters? NOT! (Oops, different Mike Myers movie!) See my earlier post. (Probably left out a few...)


OISK 1:36 PM  

Loved it! Always nice to smoothly complete a puzzle Rex calls "challenging." I am familiar with all the composers, although Schoenberg - Berg are not personal favorites. While there were plenty of proper nouns, they were of mixed times and genres, and I didn't mind. Never heard of Anna Lee, or the character "Tess," but dislike only the latter. There are many other ways to clue "Tess," and movie characters ought to be a last, infrequent resort. I would have preferred a clue for Yeager that referred to the person, and not a movie, but I am nitpicking.

Just a wonderful Friday puzzle.

RMK 1:45 PM  

Does spaghetti sound "artsy showoff" as well? Do you say spaghetto?

Alby 1:50 PM  

Thought IMMERSE (seven letters) could be SUBMERGE (six letters plus rebus square), which threw me off for some time. The perils of a rebus square appearing late into one's puzzling -- it can make me reexamine the whole puzzle.

Also thought BENEDICTXVI could be BENEDICTCUMBERBATCH by some miracle of rebus-ing. Shame on me for forgetting the current Pope's name.

Chip Hilton 1:58 PM  

I loved this. Challenging, clever, and eventually, solvable. I had identical hiccups as Rex: drevil and popefrancis held their place way too long. My breakthrough was MONTEVERDI and, unlike Rex, I was familiar with all six composers so the others fell quickly. Mighty clever construction, I thought. I had staples instead of EDIBLES when I was going with popefrancis but ETHAN and XOXO clued me in on my papal error and all was well.

ACAI? ELISHA Gray? New to me. OBLADI. Thanks Jacob!

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

Very hard, but I solved it by grinding away. I knew I was in trouble when I saw all the composer clues: I have no knowledge of classical music.

My only quibble: SCHOENBERG not SCHONBERG? Why is "Cologne in German" always KOLN, ignoring the umlaut (it should be KOELN)? I wish there were consistency---more to the point, I wish there were correctness: the "E" is not optional!!!

Alby 2:04 PM  

Also, I consider a FEMBOT a villain only in the broadest sense. Henchman/-woman/-person/-thing or goon is more like it.

Mohair Sam 2:27 PM  

The absolute brilliance of the theme hid little sins, so we loved this one. But @Z made a good point.

Played brutally tough for us. Even our gimmes were wrong - hand up with the drevil and popefrancis crowds. And I misspelled the other gimme ERIc Spoelstra to boot - bad start. Got UTHANT off the U, thence BACH, then OFFENBACH, then "aha" moment - and off we went.

GORSE always makes me think of the British Open. @Z - yeah, I too was thinking MacBeth mighta said that - had to be somebody slaying somebody.

MADEIRA always makes me think of Flanders and Swann and thereby brightens my day. Same with hippopotami.

Anoa Bob 2:33 PM  

A polished gem of a puzzle that I finished with only one misstep at the ENNIS FEMBOT crossing. Thought I'd seen INNIS on a bottle of Scotch back in my HAD A NIP days. Austin Powers & FEMBOT would make a great pro wrasslin' tag-team.

There was a time when an encyclopedic knowledge of world rivers was necessary to get through your typical crossword puzzle, so ARNO & YSER were nostalgic gimmes. Nice tie in also with the eponymous ARNOLD at 24D.

U THANT (30D) & clue "View From The UN" recalled another former Secretary-General of the United Nations who passed just a few days ago, and who had my favorite name of anybody ever of all time, Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Top that.

I wish more themed puzzles, including early-week ones, would follow this pattern of having only three, high quality theme entries. Unlike the case when as many themers as possible are stuffed into the grid with the rest of the puzzle in the "it will have to do" throw-away category, this leaves lots of breathing room for top-notch, entertaining fill. For me, that's the essence of the artful arrangement of words crossing one another.

Freddy M. 2:42 PM  

I got utterly crushed by yesterday's puzzle, but I was able to finish this one. Go figure.

Anonymous 2:49 PM  

Didn't Ida win the academy award for best film in 2015, not 2014?
Just saying.

kozmikvoid 2:55 PM  

DNF #5 for the year. That NW mashup did me in. I was certain of MONTEVERDI and I had ENNIS at one point, too. But I was so sure that 1A was FILE, I sputtered around with different Irish-sounding towns and non-existent bird names for so long that I just ran out of steam.

I've talked about the satisfaction one gets when not giving up on a puzzle, and this one was a fine example. The theme is well outside of my wheelhouse, so I was pretty happy I was able to get those right. And discovering those themers led to some pretty great answers. I didn't like the back-to-back, never-heard-of-them-outside-of-a-crossword-puzzle bodies of water down there in the South, but other than that this one had a lot to enjoy. CLONING was especially good.

When I DNF, I usually feel either a) disappointed in myself for giving up too soon, or b) disappointed that there was a super-obscure natick in the puzzle. This one felt different. It felt fair. I can't remember the last time I was not disappointed after not finishing a puzzle. Never would've guessed that damn FILE answer would be my downfall.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to try another fake home remedy that "magically" removes the abhorrent odor of skunk-efied EVERYTHING.

Chaos344 3:11 PM  


Having read the latest batch of posts, a few comments and observations of my own:

Today's posts seem to reflect the ongoing daily battle between those over 55 and those under 35. The 20 year span between each group seems to represent the DMZ or, if you prefer, neutral territory. Lets see if we can dissect the puzzle along those lines.

The older crowd, and especially Maleskans, seem to prefer puzzles that may actually impart real wisdom. Said wisdom would include expanding ones knowledge of geography, history, culture, language,etc. The younger crowd of Shortzians seem to think clues or answers pertaining to any of those subjects is trivia or arcana, and thus unfairly used as clues or answers.

So, the question is, should crosswords simply be entertaining diversions, or should they be a venue where one can also learn a vast array of previously unknown information? The answer is obviously some balance of both. If one chooses the later, than one gravitates towards the most difficult puzzles. A perfect example of the different camps can be seen in the previous posts.

Anonymous@12:03 AM said, "I finished this one, out of stubbornness and spite, but I hated it and think it was ridiculously bad." (Been There, Did That!)

Anonymous@ 5:48 AM said, "Definitely harder than most. I thought it skewed towards a "dead white man" solver demographic. No, not the opera composers. Us."

@Gregory Schmidt said, "Once again, a geographic and historical trivia quiz masquerading as a "word puzzle". Give me clever and challenging word play and cluing, please, and save ELISHA, ENNIS, ARNO and YSER for trivia night at the pub."

But my favorite was:

@Cassieopia 11:07 AM who said, "I really liked this. It was hard, and I cheated (googled) a lot, but also learned a lot."

The way I see it, its a battle of Pop Culture knowledge as opposed to real knowledge. Which would you rather be well versed in? J.S.Bach and his music have been around for 300 years. Do you think that the same will be said of Eminem, SnoopDog or Dr.Dre 300 years from now? How many of today's so called "musical artists" could actually read the musical score of anything written by any of the theme answers in today's puzzle!

You don't want to know about Andorra, Edina, Yser, Arno, etc? Fine! Let's see if Harry Potter, The Simpsons, South Park, etc; will be on the tip of everyone's tongue in 2116. Countries, cities and rivers have a way of enduring. So does history for those who care to learn it. 70% of the people on this blog can probably tell you what is significant about the year 1066 or 1215. I wonder if the same can be said of teenagers 100 years from now?

Chronic dnfer 3:15 PM  

Dr Evel double agent pope Francis kind of did me in. Managed a dnf even though I cheated at obhant/Bess.

Chronic dnfer 3:20 PM  

Also had mini me for a while

Joe Bleaux 3:56 PM  

Years ago in New Orleans, I listened attentively to, and applauded with a purchase, a street vendor's eloquently descriptive sales spiel. Across the street, meanwhile, a competitor made his own pitch, which was, in its entirety, "Hey, me too, this side!" I hereby borrow it for my reply to your post, upon which I cannot improve.

dick swart 4:04 PM  

Tough! Who is Annalee? Or for that matter, what is General Hospital? My daytimes have always had other stuff going on.

At first, I thought 'nom de guerre' was a theme clue and saw the answers as Green Mountain, Open Stream, and Beautiful Mountain with Schoenberg's first name thrown in from Happy Days. But then I got the real theme.

The operas you saw must be terrific as a double bill. Both mid-century and done on TV in the early days when set ownership was still skewed toward upper-income. They could become the Cav/Pag from the verismo days of Italian opera.

beatrice 5:24 PM  

@Fred R. - thank you for your comment about Peri! I hated to disagree publicly with the two esteemed commenters, and you stated it perfectly.

Monteverdi was the first 'early' composer that I fell in love with, eons ago, partly due to a wonderful performance on PBS back when they did that sort of thing (AliasZ - I envy your recent experience - I've never seen a performance in the theater). But before that I had bought an LP of the late, great New York Pro Musica, which featured this version of Monteverdi's 'Zefiro torna'. It remains an absolute favorite. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lr5wzy1NiQ0

I want to include this version, which is sprightlier in tempo and more 'historically informed' than the earlier one (which was, after all, released in 1957) and is also wonderful.

The L A Kid 6:07 PM  

DNF thanks to Dr Evil and all his wicked plans.

Unknown 6:11 PM  

Sadly I had a huge DNF on this one. Perhaps if I printed it out like I normally do my thurs-Suns, I would have seen it. Nice to see good ol joe green (guissepi Verdi) in here. Oh and you may not know Offenbach but I'm POSITIVE you would recognize the can can from his Orpheus in the underworld

xyz 7:58 PM  

Kicked my butt, plainly, simply.

Joe Bleaux 8:15 PM  

To brutally condense my earlier (and unpublished) reply to your post: Me, too. Thanks.

Z 9:54 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Atram007 11:10 PM  

Maybe the easiest Friday ever for me. I know all the composers, although the theme aspect didn't become clear for a while. Still, the answers kept jumping into my head. Somehow I just "got" this puzzle - it made sense to me.

Anonymous 11:28 PM  

It made my day that a puzzle I found to be easy was one that Rex found challenging. So often it is the other way around. Thanks, Rex, you made my day.

jae 12:15 AM  

@Z - amen!

NicNic 1:26 AM  

Solved this one, but it was a real struggle. No real knowledge of classical composers, so I never got the theme. I know Verdi, but not Monteverdi, Bach, but not Offenbach, Schoenberg, but not Berg. Never got the 2 in 1 theme.

I also started with Dr. Evil and Pope Francis. This slowed me down quite a bit. Madeira, Elisha & Succor sent me back one pope. Didn't know the Roman numeral though.

Strangely, I knew Anna Lee right away. I was an avid soap fan years ago. She was also in the Sound of Music. Between, Anna Lee, Sendoff, and Void Of, I gave up on Dr. Evil and added Obladi.

This type of puzzle really isn't my cup of tea. The theme is very clever. However, too many of the non-themed clues could have been solved via Google. I resisted. That's why I still don't know who Uthant is/was.

Can't say I really enjoyed this one.

Louise 8:45 AM  

This is the very first time I have used Wite Out to fix an initial error. Starting with "face" palm instead of acai, it just got worse and approximately ten squares had to be Wited Out. My husband gave me a genuine eye-roll (not as bad as a face palm!) when I requested said correction liquid from his stash of office supplies.
Once I got into the composers, it started to go better. I actually liked the fact that I grasped the hook only at the very end of solving. I knew Monteverdi and Verdi, etc. I concur with you on most points.

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

While others are celebrating this "feat" , if youre gonna dish up a theme on a friday please let me know, I'll go hide in a gorse and watch General Hospital. At least buxom nurses provide a modicum of stimulation.
Ted in Denver

spacecraft 11:44 AM  

IDIGIT. Yeah baby TESS ("The best part of my day.") answered my cry of "IWANTIN!" as a solver, if not *sigh* in real life. Things proceeded slowly, as it took a while to realize that 21- and 54-across were NOT theme-related. Nor did it help that my tour grp. was the PGA. I was really whipped with that -ERRE ending. Robespierre fit, but made no sense with the clue. The jumble in back of the computer was wiRes...no picnic, I can tell you. Started over with AHEM/HOLD, and things began to clear up.

Not a Powers fan, I first thought Minime, but INORBIT confirmed OBLADI (I love that song). I never watched any of the Austin films, but can well imagine that the FEMBOT (s?) would achieve yeah-baby status.

And by the way, has NO ONE really noticed the way that BRA meets TIT?

I don't object to the RRN because it's incorporated into a specific name. That caused the one fill stretch with XOXO, but it couldn't be helped. The rest of it was so good I'm loath to mark down one little spot. Maybe just the - in the A-.

Burma Shave 12:06 PM  


BOY, UTHANT me for it, but during SUCCOR I saw


rondo 12:44 PM  

Finally gained back my “composure”. Funny how only two wrong answers can slow things down. Same as OFL, I had Dr.evil at 1d and symmetrically had Aldrin and not YEAGER. No help from either, so I had to back into them. That’s a lot of other words affected. And those 12 squares were my inkfest today; no other over-writing.

If you’ve ever watched the British Open, you’d be familiar with GORSE. I’m too familiar with what passes for GORSE (and fescue) in MN due to some errant tee shots.

Sorry ANNALEE, but I’m going off-puz for today’s yeah baby. Think Scorpion and Paige, it’s her real-life birthday. XOXO. @spacey will appreciate.

So if IDA not made this more challenging than it already was IDA been happier. I’m a SUCCOR for a challenge though.

Waxy in Montreal 3:39 PM  

WHEW! NW corner was certainly a challenge but the rest of the grid I thought was Friday-worthy. Almost put off the OVAL by the misdirection of POPEFRANCIS and DREVIL but rallied when NOMDEGUERRE, OBLADI and SYLLABI opened things up.

This puzzle has generated an earworm, The Limeliters singing the old Flanders and Swann ditty "Have some MADEIRA, m'dear, It's a-very much nicer than beer". Oh, well, could've been OBLADI...

Diana,LIW 3:51 PM  

What @LMS and @Z said. Beautifully constructed, but so many SIDKs in the PPPs. (Thanks for that term, @Spacey)

The composers were easy for me, but I don't watch the A Powers movies, General Hospital, or the Oceans franchises. And Western Electric - really?

Enjoyed it for what I could get, now I'm going back to Thursday, who liked me.

Hat off to the constructor!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 6:36 PM  

Impressed by the theme, construction, and tortuous difficulty, and also, I DNF. I just couldn't get the NW. I considered minime, but FEMBOT(?) I knew not, so dr evil stayed in and thus killed any chance of finishing.

I never did see the composer within a composer thingy, so that also contributed to the misery. Having found out after my failure what was up, I gained immense appreciation for the puzzle, of which I at least got about 80% correct.

I mean, when you just "know" that dr evil, and I wanna are correct, you are doomed in this puzzle. As I was.

kathy of the tower 1:12 AM  

@ rondo: I'm a Scorpion fan too. We've been bingeing seasons 1-5 of Game of Thrones, and Walter plays Khal Drogo's bloodrider, and only speaks Dothraki. I began reading the books years ago.

First time poster. I'm also a Minnesotan but don't get the paper until my husband brings it home from work. Hi to all the syndielanders and regulars, I enjoy your comments. It was a bit of a struggle to finish this one, but I have to agree that a sense of smugness is part of the joy.

Unknown 1:36 AM  

Davidlevy is one of the most successful freelance composers, he is audio engineer
sound designer real PRO. David is form Austin, Texas and he works for Rooster
Teeth, composing music for Red vs.
Blue and doing sound design for RWBY. http://www.davidlevymusic.com he is great!

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