2002 Hugh Grant dramedy / FRI 11-18-16 / Site of Dostoevsky's exile / Category for un Premio Nobel / Close relative of elephant garlic / Noted 1983 graduate of Columbia / Blue symbol of Delaware

Friday, November 18, 2016

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (proper noun gauntlet!)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: TYRESE (34A: Rapper/actor in several "Fast & Furious" movies) —
Tyrese Darnell Gibson (born December 30, 1978), also known mononymously as Tyrese, is an American Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, actor, author, television producer, former fashion model and MTV VJ. He is best known for his roles as Joseph "Jody" Summers in Baby Boy and as Roman Pearce in the Fast and the Furious series. After releasing several albums, he transitioned into films, with lead roles in several major Hollywood releases. (wikipedia)
• • •

This fall, I have somehow almost fully switched over to old people time. That is, I fall asleep ridiculously early and get up before 5. This is partly my schedule (start early *every* weekday), possibly the fact that I started going to the gym 4x/week (my appetite for both food and sleep, way up), and partly the general malaise of the country (can't deal ... must sleep). The puzzle implications of this new sleep schedule are that I am solving in the strange wee hours. 3:45. 4:15. And I am still a crap morning solver. So I think I might have to adjust my difficulty ratings accordingly. Felt like I really struggled with this one—second time in a row that's happened to me with a Wentz puzzle, which I normally crush. Clock said difficulty was just a tick more than average, so I might have been judging myself again my Wentzpectations as opposed to my Friday expectations. Anyway, this grid is bright and lively and current (and, it's worth noting, remarkably, anomalously, black—the fact that I would say that about a puzzle with four black people in it tells you something about the norm), but So Many Names. So many proper noun rocky shores to crash your ship on. NW is probably the rockiest, with COLMES KULIK crossing ABOUT A BOY BILLY ZANE, with "BABALU" and STYX thrown in for good measure. I personally slipped on ORTHO / ZENO (shakes fist at ORKIN!) and then fell right down at the very end, where I tripped on J COLE. Because of LOADS at 46A: A lot, I had him as JOOLE. "Who the hell is JOOLE? No, not Jewel. JOOLE! Damn it, I ask for more black representation in the grid and it bites me in the ass!" But it was J COLE, whom I have heard of. Much more familiar to me than SHAD, actually (46D: Source of valuable eggs).

I do think my 1-Across Theory of Speedsolving applies here, as 1A: Go over again, as one's writing? was a no-hoper for me (without crosses). Not only that, it seemed to beg for the RE- prefix, which I tried for a bit. If 1-Across is a gimme, I'm gonna crush the puzzle. If it takes a few crosses, I'll be OK. If it's really intractable, I'm in trouble. The most dispiriting moment for me came when I read the clue at 8D: One of Augusta National's first two female members and thought, "That's Condi Rice! Let's see CONDOLEEZA ... wait, it doesn't fit. Damn it!" Two Zs, Condi!? Come on! It's just not fair that there should exist in the world both a one-Z LEEZA Gibbons and a Two-Z CONDOLEEZZA Rice. No justice, no peace!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Charles Flaster 6:09 AM  

Found it rather easy and surprised at Rex's rating. BABALU, BAR MITZVAHS, and NINE HOLES were three gimmes that opened up the entire puzzle.
My write overs were ABA for nBA and KOALAS for pandAS.
Favorite clues were for CARJACKS and NEWS DESKS.
Liked the puzzle symmetry and puzzle shape seemed rather unique.
BTW-- in yesterday's TUT puzzle I did not see any comments but I had " bait and Switch" for PYRAMID SCHEME-- just sayin'.
Thanks PW

John Child 6:28 AM  

Oh so many people I didn't know - COLMES, KULKIN, ZANE, JCOLE, TYRESE, Senator JONI Ellis... I claim the J of JCOLE and JONI a true Natick. Did just fine until returning to the NW where I cashed and burned.

chefwen 6:45 AM  

Proper names buried me and had to resort to The Google to help me out with this one. I only have Dr. Dre, J Cool and Ludakris committed to memory. All other rappers need to be looked up. COLMES, KULIK, BILLY ZANE, PAZ made that corner absolute hell. Had a whee of a time trying to remember the correct spelling of CONDOLEEZZA, and I always want spell BOCCE with an I.

DNF on a Friday, familiar territory for me.

Dolgo 6:48 AM  

Yeah. Ms. Rice popped out early making the puzzle a lot easier--at least once you figured out how to spell her first name! A nice work which did it's job of getting me off to sleep in short order after finishing!

Susierah 7:05 AM  

My kind of Friday, loved it. 45 minutes of hard work. Two Z's in condoleezza, and Colmes held me up. Last to fall was admix, which just didn't look right. Gook job!

Susierah 7:14 AM  

Oops! Good job!

Passing Shot 7:29 AM  

got Ms. RICE rifght off the bat (but had to google to check the spelling). That opened up SCADS (which for some reason I spelled SkADS) of answers. With the Z from CONDOLEEZZA I really wanted BAkersdozen but couldn't get it to fit. Took me the longest time to get BARMITZVAH. Maybe seeing ABOUTABOY helped? JOdI before JONI (I've heard of her but I don't pay attention to "back bench" Republicans). This one fell right in my wheelhouse (though still slooooow by the standards of the Rex crew).

Martay Van B 7:34 AM  

The northwest had me googling the spelling confirmation of COLMbS name. Had I not done that, that proper name dense corner would have defeated my otherwise rather easy jaunt through the rest of the grid. Isn't Colmes one of the two hosts of CNN's Crossfire along with Tucker Carlson) that Jon Stewart so surgically called out and insulted as a guest on their show?

Unknown 7:40 AM  

@Rex, spot-on analysis of @Peter Wentz's puzzle, and thanks too for the added information on your sleep/exercise regimen.

I was able to work through most of the puzzle, but rather than Google, resorted to the "check" and "reveal" functions in a few slots (particularly the closed-off northwest corner). Yes, I knew Rice, just not how precisely to spell her first name--but that's nothing like my uncle of blessed memory and the same first and last name as mine. He was a history professor at the University of Denver, and close friends with the Rice family as Condi was growing up. He passed away a month or so before 9/11 (remember the memo about "Bin Laden determined to strike ...").

I enjoyed seeing SLOPE and MEMBRANE in the puzzle, though I originally had MEniscus for the latter. SCADS vs. loADS was tough, and I also considered, for no good reason, that eggs might well be found in the country of cHAD.

Does NEW crossing NEWSDESKS bother anyone (else)? Just ASKIN' ... And to my friend @John Child, did you really cash and burn?!

Unknown 7:46 AM  

One more thing, ICYMI -- @Roy Leban of Puzzazz has analyzed the New York Times puzzles as a function of the day of the week, and empirically confirmed the general sense about the difficulty gradient. Have a look by clicking on this link. Fascinating stuff!

Anonymous 8:00 AM  

So happy to see that YFL (see what I did there?) is backing off a little--using humor! of all things--from the sort of Virtue Signalling that helped to get you-know-who into the non-black house.

r.alphbunker 8:16 AM  

The NW Territory almost did me in but I resisted the temptation to google. And the temptation was there. The two movies, the radio show and the signature song all would have been provided by Google. By not googling, I the human, won out against the machine and that felt good. Details are here.

Lobster11 8:17 AM  

A "proper noun gauntlet" indeed. Probably an easy puzzle if you knew all those names, but challenging-to-impossible if (like me) you didn't. DNF because of several squares in NW and the JONI/JCOLE cross in SE. I second @John Child's motion that the latter counts as a true Natick. The first initial for _COLE could literally be any letter of the alphabet, and the first letter of _ONI could be most of them.

This was a real disappointment, because otherwise I thought it was fun. Lots of other things I didn't know, but most were fairly crossed or inferable.

Tita 8:27 AM  

Even though I don't like eating GINGERBREAD, I love the clue for it.

Yes, played hard, with the DNF at lONI/lCOLE.

Probably lots of us malapopped SLOPE at 40A...
Took me absolutely forever to get 8D... Yes, I've blocked her... Hey...maybe she'll come back as Secty of Energy.

Friends put in a BOCCE court...they live on the Housatonic, and the silt there makes for primo court surface. As long as you don't mind the pcb's GE sprinkled in.
So yup...the old Italian man's game is something I now play. I'd rather play that than NINEHOLES.

Robso 8:29 AM  

I liked this. Although I did not know a lot of these proper names, I had enough to finish.
Now: time to learn more about this J.C. Ole character.

pmdm 8:32 AM  

To respond to George Barany, it seemed to bother Jeff Chen, but perhaps with an asterisk. I tend not to even notice these things. I did notice the overwhelming number of proper nouns I don't know. (Overwhelming to my solving the puzzle.)

kitshef 8:35 AM  

I thought it was fantastic, with the nine 'stack' entries all great, except for BILLY ZANE, whom I've at least heard of.

... unlike JONI or JCOLE, which was my doom. Also spend so much time figuring out what to guess there that I never checked my crosses on saSSED, and finished with that instead of DISSED.

Names I have never heard of, COLMES, JONI, JCOLE, TYRESE. Never saw either the clue or the answer for TYRESE because all the crosses fell.

Good to see Ilia KULIK in a puzzle. His first name seems so much more likely to appear.

Thought @Rex would complain about scrabble f-ing. Six Ks, three Zs, two Js and an X, including that KXZ diagonal in the NW.

kitshef 8:45 AM  

@George Barany - thanks for the link. It confirms that my experience is typical - average Thursday is harder than average Friday.

Also interesting to see that September 6, 2015 puzzle described as so outrageously difficult - so much so they leave it off the charts, @Rex rated that one as easy-medium, and that a lot of board commenters called it a relief after the hard Saturday preceding it.

evil doug 8:54 AM  

Joni? Greatest campaign ad in the history of politics.

Glad the puzzle met Michael's quota for black people--although I'm surprised Condi counts among this liberal-sloped community....

Dorothy Biggs 8:58 AM  

Too many proper nouns that I didn't know...in the NW and SE. I knew BABALU (although, I don't think I've ever seen its title in print, so I was guessing how to spell it), but in that corner that was it. I got LEEK because it is the only four-letter member of the allium family starting with L that I know of...so between BABALU and LEEK I had a toe-hold...but I also had ArIsES...so yeah, that corner was a mess.

In the SW it was a little different, it all came down to one square...you all know the one I mean...so I just ran the alphabet until I got the happy jingle. The senator, Ernst, while I'm sure she's a very nice person (maybe, hard to tell these days), could have been a Roni, Doni, Loni, Noni, or Zoni for all I knew. Hell I had to Google her just to see if her name was Ernst Joni or Joni Ernst. Found out also she's a republican from Iowa...soooo...um...yeah.

FWIW, the TYRESE corner was fine because I got his name by all of the crosses.

Overall, a normal Friday time, but the proper nouns were too many for me to do this without a peek and the Google (or two).

Two nits:

First, shouldn't KOD be KOED? Are we adding KOD to Crosswordese That Can Be Spelled However The Hell The Constructor Wants™?

Second, (and maybe a fine point but...) DISSES is short for Disrespects. Technically, "talking smack" is fun sports talk or otherwise competitive banter that is meant to rile the other person up in the spirit of friendly competition. "My team is going to spank your team's bottom until they cry like little babies." That's talking smack or "smack talk." But saying something like, "You're an idiot for following that stupid team." That's not smack any more, that disrespect. You can say you are being "dissed" ironically in the first case, but you're really not. Smack talk isn't disrespectful, and when it's disrespectful, it isn't smack talk any more.

People who are not good at talking smack, usually mistake it for being faux disrespectful, so you get some really bad smack from them that can be easily misunderstood.

TL;DR: Trash Talk might have been a bit closer to Disses...

jberg 9:04 AM  

Wow, I'm always amazed by the differences in what people know. JONI Ernst has been unforgettable to me since her first campaign, in which she argued that her experience castrating hogs was the ideal preparation for dealing with Washington. On the other hand, while I knew who CONDOLEEZZA RICE is, I was stumped for a long time because I wanted a professional golfer there. The first Z I got was wrong for Zacharias, so I didn't know what to do. No idea about Alan COLMES either, so I put in hOLMES (Mycroft's other brother), and was very unsure about ADMIX until I finally got ABOUT A BOY (read the book, no idea about the movie). So this was was really tough for me.

I was very proud of myself for getting harD-HEARTED from the T_D; that blocked CARJACKS until I had all but the C_R from crosses. I went for the loADS trap too. But I'm happy to say that they are removing many of the dams from our local river (the Neponset), which if all goes well will restore the SHAD run. Hope I live long enough to catch one!

G. Weissman 9:11 AM  

Is backspace really used as a verb? "I backspaced my writing"? Does hitting backspace really involve "go[ing] over again"? This seems a misclue to me.

Sir Hillary 9:23 AM  

Yeah, proper nouns can really bifurcate the solvers. If they're familiar, one can fly through a puzzle. But if they're not, even the most experienced solvers can end up with DNFs. Today, I was in the former group, so this one was a joy for me. But I acknowledge the luck of that circumstance, and my sympathies go out to those in the latter group. The JONI/JCOLE cross is particularly brutal -- as many have noted, it's barely even inferable given the single initial in Cole's name.

In the end, I loved this puzzle. Great Scrabbly-ness without feeling forced, and virtually no short dreck. When KOD (saved by the great clue), PAZ, ABA, EPS and TEES are the cruddiest fill, that's a great thing.

-- I knew it had to be Condi, but wasn't sure if the L or the Z was the double letter (to be clear, until this morning I would have sworn that neither were). Still dropping in CONDOL and ZARICE was a great start.
-- I haven't researched, but I believe JONI Ernst is a combat veteran. Is she the first female vet in Congress? I know the new Senator-elect from Illinois is as well.
-- I'm born and raised in Orange County but spent very little time in SANDIEGO as a child (zoo, Sea World -- that's about it). My wife and I spent a few days there in September -- an amazingly vibrant downtown area.
-- Love the symmetrical synonyms SLOPE and GRADE.
-- I think of Tyrese more as a model/actor than a rapper/actor.
-- Only brief error was harDHEARTED, which I paired with GaRn. Jake was in the Senate in 1991, right?
-- In addition to the KOD clue, my favorites were those for CARJACKS, KMARTS and USS. Least favorite is the one for KOALAS -- that's a Tues./Wed. clue.

I am rarely less than thrilled by a Wentz puzzle. Check.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

I really liked this one. I've been working through the Friday and Saturday puzzles on the iPad app (starting with 1999? I've worked my way up to June 2004). I can't tell you how many times I've finished an old puzzle and wished I could hear your input Rex. Today's puzzle is one of the rare 2016 Fri/Sat puzzles that is up to par with the archived ones.

mathgent 9:29 AM  

We haven't heard from @Nancy yet as I write this, but I an sure that she will join the chorus of complaints about all the proper nouns. I got bitten, too. I had COLMEN instead of COLMES. I guessed right on the others.

I enjoyed Rex's comment today.

Some good clues, especially CARJACKS and BARMITZVAHS. I learned what an ICEPALACE was, but nothing else. Can't do better than a B.

Nancy 9:34 AM  

Yay, me! I solved this and struggled mightily to do so. And, rare for me, I really liked it despite all the proper names I didn't know: TYRESE; BILLY ZANE; KULIK; JCOLE; NCIS. But the other stuff was fun as well as challenging. I loved the clues for GINGERBREAD; USS; NINE HOLES; CARJACKS; SHAD and BAR MITZVAHS. About the latter: I had BAR--------- and wanted BAKER'S DOZEN at 33A, so I erased GORE at 30D, which I'd been pretty sure of. But I couldn't make BAKER'S DOZEN work. Another -- I've had a lot of those lately. The one and only easy section for me was the SE, where for the first time, I was sure enough to write answers down in dark ink. That section, where everything was clear, enabled me to finish the rest.

I could have skipped the PPP. Like @George B, I wasn't crazy about NEW crossing NEWSDESK. But basically a lengthy and enjoyable struggle that made me feel smart.

Nancy 9:36 AM  

Another idee fixe was what I was trying to say. My attempt to italicize swallowed the phrase, somehow. Hope it doesn't happen again.

Zwhatever 9:39 AM  

This came in at "only" 23 of 66, 35%, on the PPP* Scale, but that doesn't tell the full story. Look at the NW corner (including the six across answers and the associated down answers oparts of answers). That is 39 squares. Only 4 are not part of a PPP answer (the A,D, and E in ABIDES and the first E in EYE UP (UP not being in the NW corner)), for an unseemly and ungodly 90%. All of these answers by themselves are crossworthy, but that NW corner is a trivia fest, not a crossword puzzle.

@Evil Doug - I always assumed the Augustan thinking had to be "Hey! Two for One and at least she's a Republican." Probably just my liberally sloped thinking.

Hand up for BAkers dozen causing issues.

*PPP are Pop Culture, Product Names and other Proper Nouns as a percentage of puzzle answer. 33% or more will generally cause some subset of solvers. Note the large number of plaints about the NW corner. 90% is unheard of.

GILL I. 9:42 AM  

Al GORE is black?
Like @John Child I didn't know those same names. Oooof...but strangely enough I managed to get her done. I did Google ABOUT A BOY because of the COLMES KULIK unknown and that opened up that whole upstairs.
Loved that GINGERBREAD house. I don't know why anyone would want to eat one though. Don't you have to use Elmers to keep the roof on?
Condi...No problem with spelling her name. She crosses COLD HEART and ICE PALACE but I don't think so. Stanford is lucky to have her.
@Kitshef. Now that you mention it, I too had SASSED and left it as such...
Does anyone know who the picture is of when you open Google?

Zwhatever 9:43 AM  

@Nancy - Hey, at least auto-correct isn't "fixing" non-errors while totally missing non-words. Oparts? "Or parts" is what I thought I typed.

Hartley70 10:06 AM  

0h this was a tough one, and I was ready to quit five minutes in. 46 minutes later with one letter left to go, I had to admit defeat. The "baker's dozen" misdirect had me for a while. It seemed so right. I knew TYRESE, BILLYZANE and ABOUTABOY, but the J for JONI/JCOLE was my natick, ouch. Good fun!

@Malsdemare, I love seeing that S back in your name! You're very welcome. You're choice is wonderful. ARF! ARF! I have to admit that I had previously used Harry Truman but was willing to share now that my beloved Harry is gone. I'm looking forward to Barak/Rocky's avatar!

G.Harris 10:07 AM  

Colms crossing Zane forced me to google. Otherwise worked it out.

Mohair Sam 10:09 AM  
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mac 10:09 AM  

Nice puzzle, but I ended up with a mistake: Toni/TCole. Pure guess.

@George: I noticed the new/news cross.

GILL I. 10:12 AM  

Can I rephrase my last sentence...Does anyone know who is being shown on Google today? I'm having a BACKSPACE moment...

Nancy 10:20 AM  

Re: the PPP-laden NW corner. Here's why I didn't scream as much as you might have expected from my Rexblog history. I knew BABALU (1D) with no crosses. I was a child when "I Love Lucy" was on TV and I think I may have gone running out of the room when "Ricky Ricardo" launched into it for the umpteenth time: "Is he going to sing that revolting song again?" And while I didn't know COLMES (3D) from the radio show, I remembered his name from one or two crosses. COLMES was the token liberal on Sean Hannity's show back when it was called Hannity and Colmes. Now, of course, Hannity doesn't even have a token liberal. CONDI was a gimme (though spelling her name was not), STYX was a gimme, and ABOUT A BOY came in from ABOUT. So only BILLY ZANE and KULIK were problems.

Mohair Sam 10:32 AM  

Fun Friday for sure. Yeah, there was too much PPP, but most of it crossed fairly - and a lot of it was the kind where you knew you'd get it if you got a few letters.

Had the same problem as Rex with the erstwhile CONDOLEEZZARICE gimme at 9D. I knew she was one of the first two, but counted 14 letters in her name so struggled for the other lady for a while. Two Zs? Who knew? And JONI Ernst! Her campaign slogan "I'm JONI Ernst, I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm" - How'd you like to be the guy sitting next to her in committee asking for funding for that extra building in your state and have her give you that look? Gulp.

BILLY ZANE is so much fun to hate. He was world class despicable in "Titanic" of course. But if you haven't seen "Dead Calm" (the movie that launched Nicole Kidman's career) you ought to - ZANE takes creepy evil to an all time low level.

Condi RICE Multi-talented. Saw her perform with the Philadelphia Orchestra about five years ago at the Mann Center in Philly, she's a pianist - played a little Mozart if I remember. Rich folks sat under cover on that summer night for $50 to $100. The rest of us brought our picnic baskets and wine and sat on the lawn for about $20 - sound and sight of one of the world's great orchestras below and view over the shell of the City of Philadelphia in twilight. Pretty good deal, we make the trip every

Katzzz 10:43 AM  

I liked it a lot except for one entry: "eye up." An expression used by no one ever.

Malsdemare 10:45 AM  

Hoo boy, this ate me alive. Even after some "research" for Dostoyevsky's exile, the villain in "Titanic," and Hugh Grant's movie, I got just two regions filled in. Got the OND and am kicking myself for not seeing Condi Rice; that miss is just shameful. So I needed to reveal both Ms. Rice and COLMES before I could complete this. After a pretty satisfying week, this one took me down SCADs of pegs. I am pleased that once I got a fingernail hold, I was able to get some pretty tough clues from just a letter or two. So there's that.

Thanks, Mr. Wentzloff, for keeping us distracted for a while.

CDilly52 10:53 AM  

I always enjoy Mr. Wentz, even when he and I seem to be unable to connect. Good news for me, BABALU (Desi's cry often heard on "I Love Lucy"), ADMIX, LEEK, USS all fell immediately. Don't want to sound Coldhearted so will say that's old age showing again. Blew through almost all of the remainder like the Big Bad Wolf huffing and puffing down a GINGERBREAD house until the JONI-JCOLD cross. Was left lacking only the J and ran the alphabet until it fell. Thrilled to have for me an easy Friday and one with a nice mix of fill and clues.

jae 11:09 AM  

Easy for a couple of reasons, (a) I knew BILLY ZANE and (b) I knew CONDOLEEZZA (but like many others, was iffy on the spelling). SAN DIEGO was also a gimme

MY major hang up was putting in KOs and saSSES before DISSES, which made Ernst (who I thought I knew) tough to see as I did not know JCOLE...Oh, yeah, JONI!

Also BY A hair before NOSE, slAnt before GRADE, and CRush before CREAM....hmm, maybe this was easy-medium...

Damn fine Fri., liked it a bunch.

Malsdemare 11:12 AM  

Well, now that I've read the comments (I find that if I read about everyone else's solving experience, I forget my own, so decided to report first, read later today): I knew JONI, but probably because Illinois is next door to Iowa. Knew STYX and ZENO but didn't trust myself so left them out until crosses hinted I could be right.

I love that Condi played with the Philadelphia orchestra. My daughter lives in Philly; we may have to do the Mann Center some summer evening. Outdoor concerts are the best. Ya'll can yell at me, but I miss the musical interludes; could our Pretentious Music Appreciation guy resume his pretentiousness? Please? Or any of our wonderful musicians?

Malsdemare 11:17 AM  

Malamute related; last time, I promise, at least for now. In choosing the name, I went with Rocky because the notion of teaching "Barack, Down" was too creepy and disrespectful to imagine. But how about, "Barack, Stay!" Kinda makes you smile, no?

Carola 11:18 AM  

Very enjoyable, and I guess I'd say "medium" for me: solved from top to bottom, and slowly enough to enjoy the GINGERBREAD and all the other tasty answers. I smiled at OMSK, which I recently had been unable to squash into the three spaces allotted for OSH. I remembered JONI Ernst, who as a fellow Midwesterner I'd expect to have more common sense.

@Rex, I'm glad you're at least able to sleep. I'm still too tied up in knots.

Zwhatever 11:24 AM  
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Zwhatever 11:25 AM  
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Zwhatever 11:28 AM  

@Gill I - Click on the graphic and you will learn all about James Welch, who would have turned 76 today (which I learned by clicking on the graphic).

Big Steve 46 11:35 AM  

My manic fixation on the satiric songs of Tom Lehrer - for some reason many are cemented in my memory even though I probably haven't listened to them in 20+ years - helped on this one. In his great song "Lobachevsky," he sings,

I have a friend in Minsk,
Who has a friend in Pinsk,
Whose friend in Omsk
Has friend in Tomsk
With friend in Akmolinsk...

Hence, 10 across: which opened up that corner for me. Going to show that even the most useless of information can come in handy some day - if you live long enough - and waste enough of that time doing crossword puzzles!

Nancy C 11:43 AM  
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Anonymous 11:45 AM  

Yes, it does! But, it also makes me grimace.

Tita 11:48 AM  

@Malsdemare...don't stop on my account...
I love your reasoning. I've known a Rocky and a Rocksy, and both rocked their names.

I can't resist offering this story, based on your discomfort with disrespecting the President...

My aunt and her husband, a doctor, kept a few chickens, as did most everyone back then. (Hi, @JenCT!) They named them after themselves - Milu and Orlando.
Their maid, when she would go out to round them up, could not bring herself to disrespect her bosses by using their first names, so would call "Senhora Dona Milu", and "Senhor Doutor".

(Please trust me - this is not nearly as pretentious as it sounds..there was, and still lingers to a lesser extant, a very old-world formula for forms of address across different social strata and positions - designed originally no doubt to keep people in their "assigned" positions. Don't judge me.)

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

2 Rappers and an OBAMA. Standard NYTimes tripe. Please tell me once BO leaves office we can be spared the miserable fawning over the worst president of my life time.

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

Ended up with a DNF due to the NW corner. BILLYZANE went in with no crosses. Forgot about the double ZZ in Condi's name, but eventually got it. Took me far longer than it should have to get STYX. But ultimately got done in by BABALU, COLMES, KULIK, ADMIX, and LEEK. Oh well, this dude ABIDES.

Couldn't remember whether it was JOdI or JONI. ONDECK filled that in, and the SE fell pretty quickly. JCOLE meant nothing to me, and SHAD was odd, but knowing the crosswordesey SCADS allowed both to succumb.

Like others, wanted Bakers Dozen, but with the Z in the wrong place, figured out the BARMITZVAHS.

Nothing else was too tricky for me. Pretty standard Friday as far as I'm concerned.

Lewis 11:56 AM  

I loved three quarters of the puzzle where I felt like I was traversing a gauntlet and my wits brought me through. The NW, however, I needed help to finish, through my lack of knowledge. Answers I liked were BABALU, MEATHEAD, and BYANOSE. But what made this puzzle fun was the cluing: DUMPSTER, USS, GINGERBREAD, KOD, NEWSDESKS, KMARTS, and CARJACKS. I didn't like the clue for INANHOUR, because sometimes an hour is an eternity. I didn't understand why ORBS are royal balls. Did Cinderella go to an ORB?

Overall, a fine quality Friday, great springboard to the day. Thank you Peter!

Greg 11:57 AM  

JONI and JCOLE crossing at the J? Give me a break. Once again, a proper name trivia contest masquerading as a crossword puzzle. Did not enjoy for that reason.

old timer 12:06 PM  

I'm surprised any of you could finish without outside help. I couldn't, and it took a long time to get CONDOLEEZZA RICE. I did get JONI though. KULIK? COLMES? BILLYZANE? That's where I had to consult Dr Google.

Hands up for writing in "bakers dozen" before BAR MITZVAH,

Andrew Heinegg 12:09 PM  

I liked it but I have a number of nits that others have pointed out. As Mr. Katz pointed out the one and only time eye up will ever have been used as an expression is in today's puzzle. While I got and 'get' rink site as ice palace, that is so arcane it should have been edited out. My understanding is also the same as Mr. Katz re disses is saying negative things to someone as a real criticism of a third person presumably not present at the time of the dis. Talking smack to someone is usually understood as one athlete saying negative things to an athlete he or she is competing against. It is not meant as a criticism of the person being spoken to. Rather, it is an attempt to unnerve that person and gain an edge in the game. But, much of the rest of the puzzle was, well, puzzling in an interesting sort of way.

Joseph Michael 12:15 PM  

Managed to solve most of this google-free in spite of the preponderance of proper nouns.

Naticked in the SE where I had "sasses" for 38D and, forgetting about JONI Ernst, went back and forth between "Mona" and "M Cole" versus "Rona" and "R Cole." The problem is that a rapper's name can be anything spelled any way.

Speaking of rappers, it was aggravating to hear Kanye West in the news today bragging about not voting. Thanks, Kanye.

Liked the clues for BACKSPACE, CARJACKS, DUMPSTER, and USS and felt like I had accomplished something by spelling CONDOLEEZZA correctly (a name created for crosswords). But would have liked more word play and fewer names in the grid.

Leapfinger 12:28 PM  

Well, I belong in the camp that didn't find Condi 2 EE-ZZ to spell. Was further thrown by having  this one family formerly AS KIN, where the Dad was BILLY and the oldest son was ZANE; doubting the coincidence prompted me to enter BILLY_ZALE, and that blurred my view of Ms RICE awhile.

Like @jberg, had Babe Didrikson in mind, but despite remembering hog castration qua political experience, the relevant name hadn't stuck.
Like @GWeissman, thought the BACKSPACE clue  grammatically contorted; no highlight there.

Surprised that OFL wasn't eggzactly keen on the SCADS of SHAD; seems the triumvirate of SHADroe, Meshach and Abednego would fire that up spawntaneously. (I know, I know; that's Daniel, not Milton)

Dealing with six (count 'em, 6) proper names that I'd no idea about left me rather a SANDI EGO (esp since I give TYRone more power than TYRESE), but I caught a bit of a break in that one of our ORTHO residents went by the name of KULIK, so there's that. It was also a big help that most of the compound word entries telegraphed the second word if you got one of them. Especially in the case of  DUMPtruck.

The ORBS clue was LOL, and BY_A_NOSE/hair tickled me,  but the LIGHT of the solve lay in the background MUSIC:
*How can I free your doubtful mind and melt your COLD, COLD HEART?
Hank Williams, Seen your
*Ba, Ba, BOCCE me Bambino
BABA, Bo, Bo, just say yes and maybe
If you squeeze me and I'ma squeeze-a you,
Rosemary Clooney and Desi Arnaz

So that isn't eggzactly Opera Seria, but it also wasn't the SAME_OLD INANe_HOUR. I've always liked the Sahib/Memsahib thingy, and I like what this puzzle did with my MEM-BRANE.

No STYX, no stones, Mr Wentz.

GILL I. 12:30 PM  

@Z...Thanks amigo. I didn't know you could do that..
@Tita: Some time ago, the Spaniards (at least in Madrid) decided to drop the vos/Usted word. I remember visiting my sister In Algorta and everyone was TUteando. I asked her what happened to the formal Usted and she said the Spaniards just got fed up with classifying people.
You can't do that in Mexico though. Everyone and I mean everyone is a Usted!!!!

Fred Romagnolo 12:38 PM  

@leapfinger: thanks for yesterday's comment. @Lewis: the orb and sceptre are symbols of majesty. Hands up on DNF because of JONI and J COLE. @Joseph Michael: don't be too hard on Kanye, since the electoral college votes are the only ones that count, we all vote for whoever wins in our state. If Kanye lives in California, he voted for Mrs. Clinton. (61.5%) I'm with you on the absurdity of using weirdly spelled rapper's names in crosswords, it seems to defeat the whole idea of getting it from the crosses.

Mr. Fitch 12:49 PM  

I'm not a fan of proper-name-heavy puzzles like this one, which I needed Google to fill in. A few proper names are ok—you can always find the crosses—but a bunch of proper names you don't know is like being asked to open a lock for which you simply don't have the key. There's no way to brain-twist your way to success, which makes such puzzles singularly un-fun. The Google lock-pick then becomes the only resort.

Numinous 12:59 PM  
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Zwhatever 1:06 PM  

@Gill I - I didn't either, just tried it and it worked.

@Numinous - I'm pretty sure Elmer's is edible.

seanm 1:10 PM  

finished in slightly lower than my average friday time (30:34). parts of this went in easy, and parts felt saturday-ish, but that was mostly the proper nouns. NW was hard. if i didn't know ABOUTABOY and BILLYZANE i wouldn't ahve been totally hosed. BABALU, KULIK and COLMES were total woes. it's a really bad section.

CRUSH instead of CREAM sent me down a bad path in the NE. naticked on the J of JONI and JCOLE, only got it by going through letters until it signaled complete.

Numinous 1:13 PM  

@Lewis, traditionally a king or queen will hold an ORB and a scepter while sitting on the throne during ceremonial occasions.

I could not, for the life of me, remember BABALU though it felt "tip of the tongueish". Apologies to @Nancy, Just don't click on the link. Desi Arnaz, in the '50s, going as wild as any heavy metal rocker in the '80s.

@Gill I, Elmers wold work to hold the roof on a GINGERBREAD house but traditionally an icing make with less milk or more sugar is used to make it thick enough to hold. A real GINGERBREAD house has to be 1000% edible.

@Tita, BOCCE looks kind of fun. I used to play lawn bowls. Had to re-learn it in my 30s. My grandparents had a carpet bowls set and I used to play with them when I was 11. There are a lot of lawn bowling clubs in Australia.

Googlefest for me in the NW. Had no idea ABOUT A BOY. CONDi baffled me though she did correct my spelling of BAR MITZVA. I liked seeing ZENO though I thought it was spelt with an X. JONI/JCOLE only got me for a little bit. I entered the J and then googled. Got distracted looking at the paintings of Max Ernst. I liked the shout out to Archie Bunker's son-in-law. Changed harD HEARTED to COLD when CARJACKS worked better than hiJACKS.

Too many PPPs but overall a pretty decent puzzle.

Cassieopia 1:15 PM  

This was a google-fest for me. Only one I got immediately was ABOUTABOY which is a truly wonderful, hearwarming movie, without being all treacle and sugar. Other that, I finished only by cheating. At least I learned some new things (Condoleezza Rice and Augusta, who knew?)

1820 Stone Colonial House 1:16 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Numinous 1:18 PM  

Actually, @Z, I know it is but would you rather a spoonful of Elmer's or a spoonful of vanilla icing? Not sure about you but I haven't enjoyed library paste since kindergarten.

Typo corrections: . . . Icing made with . . . 100% edible.

Teedmn 1:26 PM  

I could not bring to mind Sen. Ernst's first name so the first of my DNFs was at tCOLE/tONI. The second one was just ridic - reading the clue for 32D, was thinking it would be CAb something. When I got CabJACKS, I imagined it was the term for those people who jump in a hailed cab before the hailer can get in. So sorry, Mr. TYbESE!

Crazy thinking was plentiful here - 8D was _O_DOLE and I was wondering if it was going to be bOb DOLE's ...what? Grandma would be the only thing that fit which was too nuts even for me. Guessing ZENO off the NO and BAR MITZVAHS made the ZZ easy to guess when I finally CONsidered Ms. Rice.

"proof read", a job I performed at a small local newspaper during college, went in at 1A all too quickly but I had to BACK SPACE out of that almost immediately upon getting no crosses. And as the last living person who hasn't seen "Titanic", I was relying on slow-to-fall crosses to get 16A and STar at 5D and PAx at 6D were of no help. I walked away a moment, came back where ADMIX provided the perfect blend and the NW fell. But this puzzle made me a bit insane in the MEMBRANE.

Thanks, Peter Wentz!

QuasiMojo 1:40 PM  

I'm coming in a bit late to the party but I had to throw in my two cents worth of displeasure with this exercise in futility. I got all the answers but one (or is it two?) Naticked at Jcole/Joni. The only Joni I know is Joni Evans. lol. @Nancy.

Too much rapping in this one for my taste. And could care less about most of the fill.

I can attest to the fact that Elmer's is indeed edible. And quite delicious. @numinous

Have a great weekend everyone.

Larry Gilstrap 2:06 PM  

I'm glad OFL has explained his new solving policy as a part of his new life regimen. Good for him, but not for me. He groggily solves while I am soundly asleep, ditto when he posts. As a result, it's all mostly been said and my comments sit way down here at the end of the bar. I would never speak to a bartender until spoken to, and neither should you. Sit quietly. If drinking is a vice, then balance it out with the virtue of patience. There, I said it.

Some nits: KOD??? Nearly got POD at that one. Also, I was under the assumption that Roundup was an herbicide produced by Monsanto, ever hear of them? and that Ortho was a brand name that made a product called Weed B Gone. I confess to using such products sparingly in rocky areas, but you didn't need to know that.

Has no one commented on that elegant mash up with OBAMA near to and hopefully safe from that DUMPSTER. Ever see one of those things burn? Seems like it's in the news everyday lately, figuratively speaking. I can see three men of integrity like SHADrach, Meshach, and Abednego peering out from the conflagration. Sometimes good guys win out, at least in the Book of Daniel.

Ever hear Louis Armstrong sing Cole Porter's song about animal reproduction, you know, "Birds do it, Bees do it.."? Ostensibly, the activity described in the song "Let's Do It" is falling in love. Satchmo seems deviously delighted with the prospect of many types of lower life forms exhibiting sincere emotion. "Why ask if SHAD do it--Waiter bring me SHAD roe." I'm still not gonna YELL OUT, "Hey, bartender!"

Tom 2:37 PM  

Ran through all of the puzzle pretty fast for a Friday except for the NW section, which stopped me cold. Had USS and ADMIX and BABALU and STYX and Condi's name, but stared at the rest for about 15 minutes. Finally the B, S and C allowed me to get BACKSPACE, which broke it open and finished off that sector. Never heard of EYE UP before, though. Is that a colloquialism?

However, so pleased with myself that I got that part of the puzzle, I forgot that I left one square blank. The J for JCOLE and JONI. So, first Friday DNF in a couple of months. Might have guessed right but...

thfenn 2:57 PM  

Way too hard for me to finish without googling (and even peeking here for some answers). But I start Fridays always thinking they're going to be too hard and end up making them harder, as in being so sure there was only 1 Z in Condoleezza that I figured there must be some trick involving the other Zs...And when 'Stands' is ABIDES instead of GETSUP or even ARISES, or when 'Beat soundly' is CREAM instead of CRUSH, and 'Just barely' is BYANOSE instead of BYAHAIR I'm going to lose. And I still just don't have the mindset to get from 'Some big boxes' to KMARTS - wish I knew what synapses fire as others do that. Too many names for me as well. But GINGERBREAD, CARJACKS, NEWSDESKS (when I got past thinking of boats), NINEHOLES (when I got past thinking of a round of drinks) and MEATHEAD (All in the Family was a great show) were all fun.

Leapfinger 3:10 PM  

@Larry Gilstrap, a little creepy that you also followed the SHAD to Daniel, my brother! Bodes ill for one of us, perhaps, but let that bartender bring you a NebuchadnEEZZar of Champagne, nonetheless.

Veuve Cliquot, 15 litres, reg $2310. Limited time only $1997, free shipping incl.

Trombone Tom 3:30 PM  

What @John Child said. Crashed and burned in the NW. DNF as I had to go to Google to finish this one. Too many proper names I did not know.


Aside from all those names I won't remember, I did like learning about elephant garlic.

Really tricky cluing. Liked the USS clue. Don't really think of IN AN HOUR as pretty soon, but as they say, all things are relative.

Chip Hilton 3:48 PM  

Hi, @Mac! TCole & Toni here, too. Good a guess as any, I felt. Only blemish, although I'll admit to a few other shots in the dark. Enjoyable chore.

Anonymous 4:04 PM  

Veuve Cliquot has become the epitome of overpriced and under-interesting for the money Champagne on the planet. The 15 litre bottle might make an interesting display tho.

Teedmn 4:11 PM  

@Gill I, @Z, the Google logo provides the main reason I ever MOUSE OVER something - if you just rest your mouse on the logo, it will pop up with a name and usually an anniversary. If you're then interested in more, click away to get the info on the subject.

Happy Pencil 4:42 PM  

This was one of those puzzles that was so tough I was pleased to be able to solve it in the end. It took two sittings, however -- someone should do a study of why the answers you can't see at midnight almost jump off the page the next day. And once again, I offer a tip of my hat to @CascoKid, from whom I learned patience and resisting the urge to Google.

For the second time this week, I had a very similar solving experience to Rex's. Could not figure out how to spell CONDOLEEZZA RICE's name, so she went in, came out, and went back in again when the crosses confirmed RICE. I did know the loopy (being extremely polite) Ms. Ernst, but I couldn't remember if she was Jodi or Joni, so part of that had to wait. Like @GeorgeBarany, I didn't like NEW crossing NEWSDESKS, and I agree that some of the names others have identified as too obscure probably were, but several of them I never even saw and had filled in from crosses alone. So they were gettable.

@Lewis: Think ORBS and sceptres. They are part of the Crown Jewels and have long symbolized the power of the monarchy.

Anonymous @ 11:50 a.m.: Way to stand behind your comment.

@Robso, I've been meaning for months to acknowledge your awesome Houdini avatar. He's the greatest!

Nancy 5:43 PM  

@Quasi (1:40 p.m.) You know JONI Evans? The S&S JONI Evans? The woman who married Dick Snyder JONI Evans? The what-could-she-possibly-have-been-thinking? JONI Evans? Do you also know Dick Snyder, Quasi? Did you work at one time for S&S, maybe. Would I know who you are if I heard your name? (Just, please, assure me that you're not Dick Snyder!)

To those not in/from the NY book publishing world, Dick Snyder is a man reputed to have boasted: "I'm the biggest bastard in publishing." To the best of my knowledge, no one ever contradicted him.

GILL I. 6:08 PM  

Why do I love this blog?.... and why you shouldn't leave.
@La Leapster and @Larry G... made me listen to the Beastie Boys {I'm forever indebted} and that Veuve Cliquot is over priced...The first long word I memorized was Nebuchadnezzar and that thanks to @Z and @Teedmn I now know that James Welch was a Blackfoot and @Numi now knows that you can eat Elmers glue and @malsdemare has a beautiful new dog that is named Rocky.

Chronic dnfer 6:29 PM  

Alan colmes used to do show on fox with that dolt Sean hannity called hannity and colmes. I think they fired Alan for being to progressive. It was a terrible show though not as bad as the recent iteration.

QuasiMojo 6:51 PM  

@Nancy, lol. You really made me laugh with that reply. Truth be told, I only knew OF her. But I knew you would know who she was. I just finished "Avid Reader" by Bob Gottlieb who worked at S&S before Knopf. Made me think of her. And Dick. :)

Larry Gilstrap 8:11 PM  

Thanks @Leapy for buying me a beverage. Referring back to Daniel, I noticed that I forgot to mention that the boys also hung out with God in the fiery furnace and that Nebuchadnezzar was very impressed by this ancient miracle and began to worship their God instead of his previous favorite, the Golden Idol. Do they still make those?

MetroGnome 9:11 PM  

How is a "roundup alternative" an ORTHO? The only word ending in "o" that I could think of was "RODEO" . . .

. . . and how does LESS = "take away"????

Nancy 9:23 PM  

@Tita (11:48) -- Somehow I missed your comment earlier. I don't know which is funnier -- naming two chickens after yourself in the first place [Milu and Orlando, yet?!] or the maid then feeling she needs to address the chickens so formally and respectfully. Hysterical.

Strunk White 9:28 PM  

@MetroGnome ORTHO and Roundup two names associated with the production of herbicide.

LESS and take away are code words for the subtraction sign.

Pete 9:32 PM  

Don't get too angry with anonymous 11:50 - maybe he's only seven years old

Anonymous 9:58 PM  

As mentioned above Roundup and Ortho are herbicides.

Fifteen less five is ten. Not a common way of expressing take away but my dad used it so it was not strange to me.

Daryl 11:40 PM  

Relatively easy Friday for me - finished in 11:55. Would have been even faster if not for that pesky NW. My brain knew that the name of the Titanic actor had a Z in it, but kept insisting it was Ian Ziering, bizarrely enough.

Roy Leban 4:02 AM  

@kitshef We were also surprised that Patrick Berry's 09/06/2015 puzzle was so far off the charts. But it was. I think the difference in opinion is that these blogs are frequented by the hardcore solvers, whereas our statistics cover a wide range of solvers, and we all have different opinions. The idea behind the analysis is to figure out the overall picture, not match any particular solver.

Burma Shave 11:43 AM  


INANHOUR, ORTHO, she’ll play NINEHOLES twice
with GORE and OBAMA
Augusta’s TEES are NEW drama,
such a RUNIN turns even that PALACE to ICE.


spacecraft 12:31 PM  

Well...DNF. The purest natick I've ever seen: an obscure senator vs. a *eyes glaze over* rapper. Bad enough there's another one, but TYRESE luckily went in on crosses. I knew you-know-who would like it.

I did the rest of it--INANHOUR plus--helped by the first DOD to span a grid: CONDOLEEZZARICE. I'd like to play NINEHOLES with her, especially at Augusta. I'm guessing I'm not gonna get the invitation.

This puzzle has one thing going for it: the constructor has the same name as the quarterback who BEAT the GIANTS last night!! So even though I FAIL (had ruIn in there at first; guessed T at the natick), the name Wentz gets two thumbs up.

TCOLE...TONI...why not? Sounded reasonable to me. *sigh*

rondo 12:43 PM  

That’s a whole lotta proper nouns. BILLYZANE, CONDi, and OBAMA were my first three fills, followed by gimme BABALU, but it still felt like three different puzzles, having done the isolated NW and SW corners before the NE to SW swath. Only w/o at loADS for SCADS.

@George B – yeah, that cross of NEW and NEWSDESKS seemed not quite right.

There’s an ICEPALACE under construction in the area as we speak. Almost a TRIBAL thing to do in MN.

The golf course where I am a member has only NINEHOLES. I played it at least once a week between late April and early November. Have not yet moved up to the forward TEES.

I own a set of professional quality BOCCE balls. Game anyone?

Though quite accomplished, I find it hard to confer yeah baby status on CONDi and JONI.

Only one other commenter notes that the Dude ABIDES. No fans?

Fun puz even with the high PPP. HOT pizza is here and they’re ASKIN’ me to join. Then back to work INANHOUR, more or LESS.

rondo 12:45 PM  

oops, NW and SE corners isolated

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

Admix? Eye up? Russian skater? Obscure rappers? Not in my universe. Did enjoy gingerbread and barmitzvahs -fun clues.

P.S. Billy who??

rondo 2:05 PM  

This in from the SAMEOLD NEWSDESK: There are many types of ADMIXtures used in both the concrete and bituminous roads you drive on (and not a one of them contains tar).

Diana,LIW 3:28 PM  

Crash. Burn. FAIL

Usually when I come here to find out a PPP, I at least recognize the name, but today had some I've never encountered.

ADMIX. really

Had fun with the 77% I did get - very Wentzian clues.

Titanic was the last movie I saw in an actual theater. Hard of Hearing Husband can't stand the wild volume swings - from a whisper one moment to marching band in your head the next. NY resolution - start going to movies again. Course, they come to my giant TV screen relatively quickly these days.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 5:33 PM  

Got no good footholds early, so left it for several hours and decided, after still getting CREAMED, to call it a FAIL.

Diana,LIW 8:06 PM  

A PS - ABOUT A BOY is my fav Hugh G movie and N Hornby book. This note thanks to @Teedmn


rain forest 1:22 AM  

I had a hard time with this, especially in the SE, but two good guesses plus an intelligent decision made it for me.

I see this as a very good Friday puzzle, and I enjoyed the challenge, one which reflects the nice cluing and the great grid.

Anonymous 4:22 PM  

Can someone please explain ADMIX to me for "Blend"?!

Zwhatever 4:41 PM  

@anon4:22-2-11 - ADMIX

jhon paola 12:48 PM  

I do think my 1-Across Theory of Speedsolving applies here, as 1A: Go over again, as one's writing? was a no-hoper for me (without crosses). Not only that, it seemed to beg for the RE- prefix, which I tried for a bit.

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