Classic sound effect in action film when someone is badly injured / FRI 8-23-19 / Title locale in Hercule Poirot mystery / Military drudges for short / fighter for Moors in Zaragoza in 1080s

Friday, August 23, 2019

Constructor: Evan Mahnken

Relative difficulty: Easy (5:10) (one-handed) (eating late-night pb sandwich)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: WILHELM SCREAM (35A: Classic sound effect in an action film when someone is badly injured) —
The Wilhelm scream is a stock sound effect that has been used in at least 416 films and TV series (as of July 2015) beginning in 1951 for the film Distant Drums. The scream is often used when someone is shot, falls from a great height, or is thrown from an explosion.
Voiced by actor and singer Sheb Wooley, the sound is named after Private Wilhelm, a character in The Charge at Feather River, a 1953 Western in which the character gets shot in the thigh with an arrow. This was its first use from the  Warner Bros. stock sound library, although The Charge at Feather River is believed to have been the third film to use the effect.[4]
The effect gained new popularity (its use often becoming an in-joke) after it was used in the Star Wars series, the Indiana Jones series, animated Disney and Pixar films, and many other blockbuster films as well as in many television programs, cartoons, and video games.
• • •
WILHELM SCREAM is, admittedly, a flashy answer, so it's in the right place (dead center), but there's not much else that's exciting here. The other longer Acrosses are OK, but nothing else really snaps, crackles, or pops, and there's a lot of regrettable short fill and forgettable mid-range stuff. The puzzle lost me at BABAS / RETIP / SAPOR :( and never quite got me back. I honestly can't stand SAPOR, which is one of those words that exists in crosswords and nowhere else. If you see it ... it bodes ill. Defensible, sure, and you could use it in a pinch to hold some very challenging-to-fill part of a grid together, but just sitting there is a non-challenging area of a Friday themeless? Bah. GAO also yuck. KPS?? I've heard of being ON KP, but plural KPS is bizarre. That little area could be easily refilled in a much cleaner and less weird way. The "K" is not that valuable. KPS = not worth it. ISNO and ACTV aren't helping. ONE ON and AWS, same. Other stuff is passable, but Fridays should bounce and hum and sing and this one just screamed once and then died.

I'm very tired after my first day of teaching in the new semester. I'm painfully out of practice. Didn't eat, didn't hydrate, didn't *quite* get one of my syllabuses finished, couldn't solve my tech problem in one of my classrooms. Took a long walk after work to a bar downtown and then had a drink and took the same long walk home, so this sentence is probably going to be my last. Luckily there's just not that much to write about. OK, this sentence will be my last. Bye! (damn it!). This one is the last!
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    P.S. the clue on WENCESLAS (11D: Carol king) is very good and deserves polite applause, at least.

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    puzzlehoarder 12:14 AM  

    A little over medium for me. The biggest slow down was my RECAP/RETIP write over at 3D. That delayed the grid spanner. Once that spanner went in even the unknown EDGAR and Epictetus caused little trouble. WENCESLAS had to nearly be forced me as I really fell for that clue.

    Pretty smooth from the middle on down. I've heard of the SCREAM thing before. I just don't know where.

    Harryp 12:19 AM  

    The Southeast corner gave me the most trouble, but I finally got it straightened out. I liked this puzzle for the most part, even though I had never heard of the Wilhelm Scream. At least now I have. Played in just two minutes over Average Friday Time.

    Brian 12:20 AM  

    8D Contumely crossing 20A Epictetus is brutal. Average Friday time.

    Joaquin 12:25 AM  

    I get "rod" as a unit (of measure) but what's the deal with "reel"? Is there some sort of standard size reel that nobody's told me about? If so, I gotta have one.

    Pete's dog Bubba 12:36 AM  

    I'm the one in the middle. And Pointer is a breed.

    da kine 12:40 AM  

    For anyone who has been to a crossword tournament, can you please answer this: are the folks who go there as catty and pedantic as Rex and the writers at Crossword Fiend and the Twitterati Rex chooses to quote daily? I love puzzling and my at-home scores for the tournaments usually put me in the top 10%. I'm also usually within 10-30 seconds of Rex's scores in either direction and he seems to be pretty well ranked. I just don't want to show up to a tournament and have to deal with all the toxicity and vitriol that seems to be the sole mode of discourse in the crossword community.

    Looks at yesterday's review: someone named James was "furious" about an answer dealing with gaming, and then he followed up with "Is this 1997?? Even 2001??? No. No it fucking is not. I can't even describe what you deserve without getting banned." I can't handle that sort of anger about crosswords.

    Is this an internet thing where the shield of anonymity makes everyone go nuts, or are there a bunch of raging pedants yelling at everyone at, say, The Indie 500 or Lollapalooza?

    jae 1:19 AM  

    Medium mostly because WILHELM SCREAM was a WOE. Pretty much what Rex said. Not as good as yesterday’s.

    Unknown 2:43 AM  

    Longtime reader, first time writer
    My wife and I play the "Wilhelm Scream game". It's slightly less fun then the "find every state license plate game", but it's a good way to make the fun last as long as possible. 12 minutes for me as a hopeful amateur who only got into crosswords as a way to pass the (interminable) time in Rikers.
    Keep it up, everyone.

    chefwen 3:11 AM  

    I flew through the upper third like I was on fire and thought this was going to be the easiest Friday in history. That’s where that thought ended. The middle was where I faltered badly with WILHELMS SCREAM, never heard of it and I had some nonsense in my down answers so I just had a bunch of gibberish going on. Dropped down to the lower third, polished that off in a fair amount of time and was just left with the middle to sort out. Figured out how to spell WENCESLAS correctly and with some Wite Out and patience was able to say goodnight to this one. Medium toughness for me.

    Simon David Sassoon 5:56 AM  

    A Tuesday crossword at best, very disappointing for a Friday. This was a thumb solver.

    Anonymous 6:50 AM  

    It appears my comment disappeared. Rex: I hope your next teaching day goes a little more smoothly. Going back is always a shock to the system. I kind of liked this puzzle. I got most of the long clues on the first pass through, which gave me fodder for smaller fills. I couldn’t spell Wenceslas to save my life, though now I can’t stop singing it. And I’m embarrassed to say I couldn’t remember WILHELM SCREAM though I know what it is. I recommend that anyone interested in how sound helps us experience movies listen to a podcast called “the booj.” It’s about movie trailer music. Hint: IN a world without trailer voiceovers, how do you communicate what you want? THE BOOJ.

    Solverinserbia 6:54 AM  

    DNF. East corner was out of reach for me. KPS and the spelling of the good King I would have never gotten although I did correctly surmise it was the king mentioned in the carol sung in love actually by Prime Minister Hugh Grant and his bodyguard.

    Tons of garbage in there. Friday's don't have a theme so I'd hope they'd have better fill.

    Lewis 6:58 AM  

    I was going to make a lame joke involving "tip", "arrow", and "dog breed" with the punch line being THREE POINTERS, but in researching the joke's final version (I'm making this sound more ambitious than it actually was), I looked for a famous pointer dog, and came upon Judy, which you can come upon by going to "Judy (dog)" in Wikipedia. I had never heard of Judy before, but this is a dog that will now stick with me. I suggest that you at least read the opening three paragraphs in the Wikipedia article (there's plenty more, I see, elsewhere online as well). As a lover of dogs, and of all beings who make a huge difference in a positive way, I was astonished and moved by Judy's story.

    For that, and for a feel-good solve (with easy ego-massaging parts and one tough-for-me corner -- the SE -- that was tres satisfying to conquer), I am grateful, Evan!

    Anonymous 7:10 AM  

    Liked the BATTERY / BETTERY pairing.

    Richard 7:11 AM  

    Had disappearing ink and don’t understand unit for rod or reel

    QuasiMojo 7:13 AM  

    I came to sing the praises of "Carol King" as well. having never been an aficionado of Westerns (other than the TV show Laramie) I was unfamiliar with Wilhelm Scream. Nice to meet you, sir. and as someone who has eschewed the list of film franchises related to it, I'm not surprised. Film screams inevitably remind me of the opening and closing scenes of the chilling de Palma flick Blow Out. Today I beat my average Friday time by ten minutes so I agree this was on the easy side. My first plane ride was on Aer Lingus. Delightful service. I probably still have my free flight bag somewhere in the attic. PS No autocorrect today. Not so easy!

    Small Town Blogger 7:14 AM  

    Can someone explain “sette” as Otto’s preceder?

    Hungry Mother 7:43 AM  

    I strung a few wags together in the SE to finish faster than usual. Didn’t understand some anwers. I could never call this an easy puzzle.

    Suzie Q 7:53 AM  

    Once again I read Rex's review and wondered if we did the same puzzle.
    I think that, in general, I have a lot more fun in life than he does.
    If a grid with interesting words and some new vocabulary makes you unhappy then
    Better you than me.

    Evan 8:01 AM  

    @da kine:

    Take it from someone who has been to multiple crossword tournaments every year since 2012: I can guarantee that the people you'd meet at tournaments are among the nicest and friendliest people you'd ever meet. They've become my second family.

    I can also guarantee that you would not make any friends at tournaments if you go into them expecting to make enemies by calling people you've never met catty and pedantic and toxic. That's never a good attitude to take in any situation, especially with a community that's been as warm and welcoming as the one I've found at these tournaments.

    Unknown 8:03 AM  

    Judy will stick with me now too, thank you for introducing her.

    Anonymous 8:24 AM  

    Thanks for steering me to Judy - what a story! Can't believe there hasn't been a film version of her amazing life.

    Wm. C. 8:24 AM  

    @SMB7:14 aa

    Settle is seven and Otto is eight in some language. German?

    pabloinnh 8:25 AM  

    I thought all the long answers were fine and that this was a fun and interesting solve, mostly because my first guesses turned out to be right. That's always enough to make me feel good.

    Re the WILHELMSCREAM-I don't remember where I first ran into this, but I found a compilation on youtube of pretty much all the Wilhelm screams from the movies in which they appeared. Since repetition leads to hilarity, I found this wonderfully amusing. When I was teaching we started our department meetings with something upbeat, so I played this video and made a lot of new WS fans. You can even try this at home.

    I'm wondering if JoeD is going to link to Dylan's "Man Gave Names to All the ANIMALS".

    Maybe a little speedy for a Friday,but fine by me. Thanks EM.

    Anonymous 8:38 AM  

    @Small Town Blogger: sette, otto" are "seven, eight" in Italian

    Rube 8:39 AM  

    Help for those who requested...otto minus sette is uno.....a reel is a unit of film footage that ultimately winds up in some sort of can depending on its quality. Never heard of w scream or contumely or manumission. Doubt I ever will again and my life will be no less complete. Totally unmemorable Friday.

    Knitwit 8:51 AM  

    I agree!!! I have gone to many Lollapuzoolas and I’m slowly making my way up the standing-very slowly! It is a great time with some of the nicest people in the world!!

    Mike Herlihy 8:52 AM  

    Sette and otto are Italian for seven and eight. (Not German as guessed by Wm. C. - that would be sieben and acht.)

    Sir Hillary 8:57 AM  

    I actually enjoyed this one a lot. Strangely, it was the long entries that were easiest for me -- BETTERYOUTHANME, AAABATTERY, VICTORIAFALLS, AERLINGUS, DISAPPEARINGACT and IVORYTOWER all fell early. With that skeleton in place, it was a matter of putting meat on the bones.

    There were definitely some struggles THO. I always forget the first S in WENCESLAS, so it took me forever to figure out that NECK/CALM/KPS/SAP section. The NW corner stumped me for a long time as well; @Rex is right that there's some junk up there, but it didn't really annoy me. And in the SE, only now am I realizing that SETTE refers to counting in Italian -- I thought that maybe Otto and SETTE were popes!

    Never heard of the WILHELMSCREAM, but it is funny. As a James Bond movie buff, I can say they have reused a scream (not the WILHELMSCREAM) in many of those films over the years. Always makes me chuckle.

    I've never been to a crossword tournament (working on fixing that) but @Evan's words ring true. I have always assumed that most of the "outrage" here is hyperbolic and that the vitriol on this comment board -- and on others -- is driven by "internet courage". It's way easier to be obnoxiously provocative when you don't have to face your "enemy" or reveal your true identity. Pretty obvious, but helpful to remember.

    GILL I. 9:02 AM  

    My experience was a bit like @chefwen's. Damn spelling of WENCESLAS held me up a bit because I ended his name with a W. Oof. I kept waiting for the stop sign because I was zipping right along the attic portion. Even THO I don't toss around words like Epictetus nor contumely, I managed to finish.
    The middle held me up something fierce. Having STIR at 27D instead of the correct STEP is what did it for me. Had to put this puppy down for awhile. Went to the basement; zipped along that one as well.
    Nice enough Friday. I usually get up and pat myself on the back when I finish. I just smiled. Good-o me.
    @da kline. Let me echo @Evan. I've only been to one. It was about 7 or 8 years ago in Oakland. @ACME convinced me to go and I'm glad she did. Although I didn't know a soul, it didn't matter. Every there loves the art of puzzling and love to talk to you about it. I met the very young David Steinberg - I think he was still in Junior High and he was this darling, charming young man. Everyone had fun; everyone is very nice and smart and funny. You won't be disappointed. Oh...and no one talks twitter.

    Bernie 9:16 AM  

    Probably the best I've ever felt doing a Friday puzzle. Definitely feel like I kicked the crap out of it.

    pmdm 9:25 AM  

    A comment about da kine's rant. Many people come off quite differently in print than in person. It can almost seem they have two separate personalities. Perhaps a passive-agressive type of dichotomy. This site's author, Mike Sharp, can come off as quite aggressive (you may add other adjectives) when you read his write-ups. Based on his own statements and some I've read from those who have met him at the tournaments, he comes off differently in person. I empathize with your worries, but they seem to be unfounded. From what I've read, participants are neither SMAG or thing they belong in an IVORY TOWER. Don't be a SAP and get folloed by the BARBs you read here.

    As for today's puzzle, there seemed to me to be an unpleasant amount of PPP in the grid with very little to reduce the distaste I had doing so much research to enable me to fill the grid.

    Trockmn 9:25 AM  

    Shouldn’t contumely = abusive, not ABUSE?

    Anonymous 9:30 AM  

    But you can understand how @da kine might be leary, based on the comments of Rex and his friends. I'm not sure I understand the anger and snark either. I think that the Internet can bring out the worst in people who might not be so bad in person.

    What? 9:37 AM  

    Sette in Italian is seven and Otto is eight

    TJS 9:40 AM  

    I thought this was an excellent puzzle. Whenever I go through the first 15 or twenty clues without being sure of anything, I get psyched up for the challenge. Those who have said this was easy, my complements. Didn't take me that long once I got a foothold, but I enjoyed the cluing and the fill. I had a similar take as @Sir Hillary, finding the longer answers more readily than the shorter fill.
    @da kine, part of the fun here, imo, is getting worked up and opinionated about things that have no relevance to one's "real life". If you are not amused, try another source.

    a 9:41 AM  

    I did not realize you and Rex were that close. You must know a lot about him.

    Nancy 9:45 AM  

    That "classic" WILHELM SCREAM. You've never heard of it? Me neither.

    You had no idea how to spell WENCESLAS? Me neither. You tried several different ways, all wrong? Me too.

    But you probably didn't also have my problem putting in STir instead of STEP for "part of a recipe". That really loused up the center of the puzzle for a while. What on earth is a THREErOINT---?

    Wonderfully crunchy puzzle that was much fun to solve. And the cluing proves that great clues can make even the most rudimentary fill interesting and puzzling. Look at the clever clue for ARM (12D) and for BYE (13D). The latter is especially satisfying with the U.S. Open starting in a few days. Enjoyed this themeless a lot.

    Anonymous 9:45 AM  


    Carola 9:47 AM  

    Much more difficult for me than for @Rex. Like others, I cruised through the upper tier but then faltered below VICTORIA FALLS. In the end, I saw that the unlikely string of letters and spaces I had at the beginning of 35A could make the name WILHELM, so I went for it, and, as the Internet says, wallah!
    Loved seeing WENCESLAS from my favorite carol and the hopefully not-SMUG VIRTUOSOS.
    DISAPPEARING ACT over IVORY TOWER: the ever-decreasing number of tenured positions.

    TJS 9:51 AM  

    Is it "an internet thing where the shield of anonymity makes everyone go nuts"? Maybe. But it definitely is a place where people get to say "f..k" and pretend it is legitimate discourse, without regard to the audience they are addressing. (Forgot to add that earlier.)

    sidneyellenwade 9:55 AM  

    Small Town Blogger: sette=7, otto=8

    Anonymous 9:59 AM  

    Huh? da kine asked a reasonable question and you responded with condescension. Surely you don't believe that you have to have met someone to know what they're like. Why, this forum is filled with folks calling the president all kinds of things. I doubt very much any of them has met him. Heck, Rex does it himself.
    What's more, frequent readers here have met Rex in a sense. He shares all manner of things with us-from where he goes on vacation, to where his child is going to college, to what he thinks of the stranger at the restaurant he's at. Come now, Mr. Sharp is well known to his readers; taking someone to task with the risble claim that they've never met him and are thus unable to make a judgment is beneath you.

    Lewis 10:02 AM  

    For those unfamiliar with @evan above, he used to comment regularly here -- with sharp, insightful posts -- and began having his puzzles published in the NYT, WSJ, Fireball, and elsewhere, and since December of 2015 has been the constructor of the weekly Sunday Washington Post crossword. He has been always quick to generously help me whenever I've had crossword construction questions. His website is .

    barryevans 10:04 AM  


    Hungry Mother 10:09 AM  

    Whenever I think of VICTORIAFALLS, I think of this.

    Z 10:10 AM  

    I was just not on Mahnken’s wave length, so this was a total slog for me. I like all the long answers, but nothing came easily. Well, I did note the small “k” so immediately got good king WENCESLAS, but do I know how to spell it? Nope. Looking at my completed grid, correcting the spelling was my only writeover, so it was purely a matter just not parsing clues well and having a totally different cultural reference point. EDGAR Wright is a WOE. Jimmy OLSeN would have helped me more than Johnny OLSON. Pet and NECK are different STEPs in the whole teenage raging hormone interaction (one is what we called 3rd base while the other is only 1st base), so I needed every cross for that one. I don’t know about you, but every time I see AER LINGUS I think of Hair.

    @da kine- Have you ever read a movie review? Ever notice how cutting and sometimes downright vicious such a review can be? Does this mean that movie reviewers are people to avoid? Will you avoid movies because reviewers can be harsh in their assessments? I will disagree with @Sir Hillary in part. The cloak of anonymity does embolden some (see the anonymice here), but we shouldn’t mistake the nasty few to be the general case. There isn’t a single member of the regular commentariat that I would regret spending time with, even those with whom* I’ve regularly disagreed, and the same holds true of just about all the irregular commentariat as well. The same is true on Twitter. I block anyone I deem to be an arse, and so find most of the people in my Twitter feed to be kind and interesting individuals almost all the time.

    @Wm. C. - Took the words right out of my planned post, almost verbatim, although I was pretty sure “SETTE, otto” was a Romance language.

    *I can’t use “whom” without wondering if @LMS is giving me the side eye.

    Crimson Devil 10:11 AM  

    Far from “easy” for moi.
    Do not understand ROD OR REEL, unless measures of length in feet and film.

    Anonymous 10:21 AM  

    well, the purpose of a critic is to criticize; most every construct of man has flaws, so a critic has more reason to criticize than praise. with respect to OFL, it is said that he is also a constructor (app. not for the NYT, which might be considered a conflict of interest), and thus has a set of standards, undocumented near as I know, against which he measures puzzles. and he's not alone, by any stretch, in viewing recent history of NYT puzzles as inferior to previous times. he's not *always* bitchy, of course. it's just about as rare as a blue moon.

    David 10:26 AM  

    One reeler or three?

    I don't know why, but I found the long crosses and downs astonishingly easy and some of the short fill tripped me up. Came in at medium for me. Did not know Wilhelm had a scream but plenty of crosses spelled it out for me.

    Loved Carol king. Also Carole King.

    Manumission is a very timely clue and a kind of important concept to know about.

    We had English Pointers when I was a kid. Great dogs. Thanks for the point to Judy. Wow.

    Just as we've had no GIs in over 40 years, we've had no KP. Most of those things you remember GIs doing in WWII movies and MASH are now done by outside contractors. That's one of the very big reasons the Pentagon budget is so humongous. We could probably cut it in half by bringing back the draft and those jobs done by GIs, but then people might get upset when their young 'uns are shipped off to senseless (and undeclared) forever wars.

    RooMonster 10:37 AM  

    Hey All !

    Glad a bunch of y'all found this easy. Not so much here. That infamous WILHELM SCREAM was a toughie to figure out. Watched Rex's video about it, which was quite funny, and now know I hear it in movies all the time. Good stuff.

    Agree with @Z that NECK and Pet are two different things. Liked @Anonymous 7:10 observation about BATTERY and BETTERY. Nice catch.

    Writeovers, BeT-BIT, OLSeN-OLSON, FORever-FORMING, ACTi-ACTV, with those last two adding to the wha?SCREAM dilemma. Actually flirted with WILdELephants there!

    Agree on the little center-east section being rough, with the odd clues. SAP was strangely tough to come up with. KPS. Defensible? "Man, I have KP all week!" "KPS, BETTER YOU THAN ME!"

    BATMOBILE was fun to see. EDGAR Wright a WOE, and I've seen both movies. I thought Simon Peggy directed Shaun of the Dead. Fun movie, BTW.


    jberg 10:51 AM  

    I'm on the positive side, because of the interesting long acrosses and the clever cluing that @Nancy pointed out. And I learned about the WILHELM SCREAM, too! (Until I parsed THREE-POINTERS, I thought Brutus might have died in AD IV, although it was probably earlier than that, and a dream seemed almost as good as a scream. But that T had to be right, and suddenly I realized it was Shakespeare.)

    (@Nancy, it's a basketball thing. There's an arc at each send of the court, and if you make a basket from outside the arc, you get an extra point).

    Almost like @Sir Hilary, I thought SETTE might have been a Holy Roman Emperor, despite knowing perfectly well how to count in Italian.

    Other things I learned: Epictetus was not an Epicurean; EL CID fought for the Moors (I think he changed sides later); there's no U in WENCESLAS; and Victoria Falls if further north than I'd thought.

    Btw, I love @Gill's King WENCESLAw; closely related to Old King Kohl.

    CDilly52 10:52 AM  

    @Brian 12:20. Me too! Wanted Greek but no. And it took me way too long to think of anything but snark which is just way too contemporary to want to be the answer for contumely.

    Masked and Anonymous 11:00 AM  

    SE corner made m&e scream my wilhelms out. Did learn somethings new, includin that scream dealie.

    Always enjoy the jaws of themelessness puzgrid design tweak.
    Really admired the WENCESLAS clue, a la @RP.
    RETIP. har, a la @RP.

    staff weeject pick: KPS. I seem to be pickin all the same "faves" as @RP did in his blog, today.
    SAPOR was ok by m&e, tho.

    Thanx and congratz [first themeless], Mr. Mahnken.

    Masked & Anonymo3Us

    WhatDoing 11:06 AM  

    Loved this puzzle. The answers were original with clever cluing. This one had me going back and forth between the across and down clues, returning to various sections of the puzzle over and over. Just the kind of puzzle I enjoy lingering over for a bit.

    CDilly52 11:07 AM  

    This seemed to take me forever but it was a typical Friday time of about 35:00. I think I must have been faster through the NE (I got WENCESLAS instantly and loved the clue) but so much of the rest was just so difficult! I have t had a “not remotely on the wavelength” day in forever. I adore the word co timely.

    Newboy 11:09 AM  

    Thanks @Z for the video worm that I now will share, truly a Hairy moment. And I will forever relive vertigo at the mention of VICTORIA FALLS. Following the links has become almost as entertaining as LMS’ mini lessons. Puzzle was easy, but fun as was today’s dialogue.

    JC66 11:15 AM  

    KP (Kitchen Police) is a take off on MP (Military Police).

    MPs patrol the base, direct traffic & pick up AWOLs; KPS peel potatoes.

    Anonymous 11:20 AM  

    To the poster above, "contumely" is a noun, not an adjective.

    ghthree 11:24 AM  

    The only person's name I associate with SCREAM is MUNCH.
    When I look at that painting, I think of it as silent.
    Never heard of Wilhelm scream, but got it from crosses.

    When Wm. C. suggested "German" for SETTE and OTTO, I thought he was pulling my leg.
    (Our collective leg, I guess.) A lot of people (including Rex himself) do this
    without bothering to use emoticons. OTOH, maybe he was serious.
    Or perhaps his name is Wilhelm, and he's protesting its use in vain. ;-)

    Ellen S 11:25 AM  

    Not for the first time, I’m enjoying the comments more than the puzzle. Maybe because I liked the Thursday puzzle so much. Today I appreciated some of the clue/answers (e.g., carol king) but they didn’t make me smile. And too many obscure sports references.

    @Lewis, thanks for the Judy the Dog “pointer”. I’m amazed she survived a Japanese POW camp. from what I’ve read, I’m amazed anyone did. Maybe she didn’t have to work in addition to being fed starvation rations. And from there I read about the groundnut scheme. And these were the good guys!

    @Trockmn - no, contumely is a noun, despite ending in “LY”. Hence, ABUSE.

    I’m a little late posting here because of the nice side trips. I especially enjoyed Anon 6:54’s suggestion of The Booj podcast.

    Dorothy Biggs 11:26 AM  

    SAPOR is the kind of word you just don't hear, and yet it's a perfectly good word. But it's a word that if you used it in public, the room would become immediately quiet, those around you would probably stop, EF Hutton-like, and turn to look at you and your pretentious airs. I wonder why that is? There seem to be three kinds of words you're not to use in polite society: vulgarity (especially the really big ones...), racial slurs, and these "words-that-no-one-uses-anymore." (M-W puts it in the bottom 40% of words used.)

    I challenge any of you to use the word SAPOR in a sentence out in the wild today and see if I'm not right about that. Use it at the office, at the grocery store, in a text to a friend, or even at your local IVORYTOWER.

    The definition is: "A property affecting the sense of taste: savor, flavor." I looked up how to use it in a sentence and all I got were examples of how to refer to the king of Persia (Shapur, aka Sapor), which wasn't helpful at all. So you're on your own. Bonus points to those who actually use it correctly.

    So have at it and report back!

    Joe Dipinto 11:27 AM  

    Look what you're doing to me
    I'm utterly at your whim
    All of my defenses down

    -- "Automatic", The Three Pointers (Ruth, Anita and June)

    I must concur with Rex: I'm not So Excited about this one.

    I knew what they wanted for the sound effect as soon as I read the clue; I put in SCREAM but I couldn't quite remember the guy's name until I had a couple of other letters in place. VICTORIA FALLS was an immediate guess on 30a, so that little stack landed nicely.

    But that middle top section has ghastly cluing. And a lot of answers just seemed dull: BATMOBILE, AAA BATTERY, IVORY TOWER, THE NILE. FORMING is totally weird to have running right down the middle. I thought maybe they wanted COHN for jazzman Al, which would have been interesting -- I don't really consider Al Hirt a jazz musician (neither did he, apparently).

    I did like COP TO in the five-letters-or-under category. The carol king clue was witty, but more importantly the answer reminded me of Señor Wences. Who didn't love Señor Wences? Sawright.

    Speaking of five letters, do all female Disney characters have to have five-letter names? Tiana, Moana, Ariel, Belle...

    So, a good but not great Friday endeavour. Sorry, @Pablo -- no Dylan lyrics from me.

    @da kine -- I did the ACPT for the seven years it was in Brooklyn, and also an early Lollapuzzoola. Everyone is very sociable, you can strike up random conversations and have a great time. (Or, you don't have to interact at all if you prefer not to.) I recommend trying it.

    Phil 11:32 AM  

    I got the trick on carol king and plucked in WIN and figured the end would be LAUS ala santa. but even after making some adjustments didn’t think NECK equals PET same genre but not a good clue. That gave me NICE and cons’s target was LAM and grunts being EMS like enlisted men maybe so it took me a bit to suss it all out starting with the ugly ‘i’ in WINCiSLAS.

    So I am assuming it’s kosher to have the same two words in the puzzle? ACT

    Phil 11:33 AM  

    I’m not a robot. Doesn’t the stupid Captchas know even a robot can do better than go thru 6 captcha screens

    gilly 11:35 AM  

    Really enjoyed this one--thought it hit the right level for a Friday.

    Virtuoso is nice, and enjoyed learning about the scream and Yggdrasil--where the gods had their things.

    That said, pet for NECK just doesn't fly. Countless more interesting and accurate clues.

    Clues should be stretch the imagination, not the defintion.

    ghostoflectricity 11:38 AM  

    This is my favorite version of "Good King Wenceslas":

    mmorgan 11:45 AM  

    I found this quite challenging and difficult, but I really enjoyed it and had fun solving it. When I filled in WILHELM SCREAM I felt it had to be right (given the crosses), but that it couldn't possibly be right, but it had to be right... I took out each letter of WILHELM, one-by-one, looking for errors or alternatives, to no avail. When I filled in the puzzle's final letter, I was relieved to get Mr Happy Pencil, despite my misgivings about WILHELM. Now, having read the blog, I'm glad to know it's a thing.

    I was surprised/not surprised that Rex found it "easy" to do one-handed while eating a sandwich. I'm never really surprised when he dislikes a puzzle (sometimes I wonder if his dislike is more extreme than the puzzle deserves), although I'd say his reaction here is mostly lukewarm. But I wonder if his critical take on this was exacerbated by being tired after his first day of teaching, having tech problems, etc. For 68 semesters, my first day back was always filled with dread, despair, and tension -- at least in anticipation. It seemed to dissipate entirely once I stepped back into the classroom, and I always immediately found myself full of energy and enthusiasm.

    But now I don't miss it at all!

    Bourbon Street 11:51 AM  

    Being a huge Agatha Christie fan meant that THE NILE was a no-brainer for me. Unfortunately, that led me to Air Canada before the correct AER LINGUS, and that mistake caused me no end of trouble. I was finally able to figure out that there was some sort of SCREAM associated with the injury (I had never heard of the WILHELM SCREAM, and it was fun to learn about it). Overall, I liked this puzzle—challenging without being ridiculous.

    expateek 12:01 PM  

    Oh man, I got stuck thinking about ottomans and settees! Thanks for the quick Italian lesson!

    Anonymous 12:15 PM  

    @Anonymous 10:21 - I would say the purpose of a critic is to critique, not necessarily to criticize. And certainly not to go off on sanctimonious rants about which words are acceptable in crosswords, or to look for any excuse to take offense where none was warranted. Many readers find Rex to be mean-spirited in his reviews. Others seem to enjoy guessing what will set him off on any given day. I tend to think that Rex is a persona that exists only for the blog, for the purpose of stirring up reactions, who is nothing like the author. At least I hope so, for his sake.

    Fred Romagnolo 12:20 PM  

    I would have preferred VIRTUOSi. Salad DAYS comes from Antony and Cleopatra: My salad DAYS, When I was green in judgment, cold in blood,To say as I said then!

    old timer 12:24 PM  

    I know I will sound like a broken record, but someday you will travel to Europe, and in the meantime you have crosswords. Either way, you will find it extremely useful to know by heart the numbers from one to ten in French, Spanish, Italian and German. (Actually, 1 to 16 in French and Spanish). The constructors and editor treat these numbers as common knowledge, and rightly so.

    Pretty good puzzle, I thought. Learned something, which is always good: the WILHELM SCREAM and that you can find Bitcoin on the NYSE. And that EL CID fought for the Moors once. My only writeover was putting im "him" before YOU, in BETTER YOU THAN ME.

    As for OFL, his job is to carp, to point out things that could be better, and you can hardly expect him to be effusive with praise two days in a row. My carp: I don't think VIRTUOSOS are always masters. Some VIRTUOSO painters are not really masters of the craft of painting, some, like the great E.B. White are virtuosos at crafting memorable verse or amusing comments, but Andy White was the first to deny being a master in poetry or, indeed, writing. Turned out he was a master maker of tales for children, which was a surprise to him, but a very profitable surprise.

    And, I rankle at VIRTUOSOS. Really VIRTUOSi is the right plural.

    Anonymous 1:03 PM  

    i think it’s meant to be like a unit of film here! funnily, that made sense to me in the moment, but i missed the connection with “rod” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Teedmn 1:12 PM  

    DNF today. When is a little knowledge just not enough? When "proud man's contumely" is going round and round in your brain but you can't bring the rest of that part of the soliloquy to mind for context to see if ABUSE fits.

    Couldn't get STAmp out of my head for 10D's STAIN and did not know that KP could refer to the duty or the personnel so I balked at KPS and went blank on NECKing = petting. Epictetus, who? That little area cost me all of the time I made up by slamming in 17A after seeing BETTER and the easy VICTORIA FALLS and many other gimmes.

    I did have to decide that DISAPPEARING ink wouldn't go "poof". The far SE offered its own challenges - I thought the "Otto preceder" clue was a great misdirection - I considered "Leo" with random roman numeral and did splatz in "pETer" in for a moment but the plural MITES let me see the Italian numeral as the otto preceder. Clever.

    Thanks, Evan Mahnken, for the NOVEL WILHELM SCREAM and an interesting Friday solve, even with my failure to complete.

    oldbizmark 1:12 PM  

    NE was a nightmare for me. WENCESLAUS?! Never heard of it. Otherwise, it was easy and fun.

    Mona Moore 1:15 PM  

    Thanks. I needed that.

    JC66 1:21 PM  

    @Phil 11:33

    Since you've already gone blue, you can bypass checking the "I'm not a robot" box and just hit "Publish Your Comment."

    Anonymous 1:23 PM  

    Can someone explain 13D? I gather from @Nancy's comment that it has something to do with a sport. Since I detest all sports and vigorously avoid them, I have no idea how a seed becomes a bye or precedes a bye or whatever the heck is being referenced here. Thanks.

    Ellen S 1:34 PM  

    From the British Journal of Entomology, 1912: “eateries and elodia have been regarded as subspecies of arsinoe, whilst sapor has been accorded species status, based on the white markings of the male uph and on minor differences in the ...”. Hahaha. I have no idea, but I guess SAPOR is a bug that is particularly flavorful.

    Got bored looking through snippets from Google Books, and tried the New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd edition which is about 10 years old or so, doesn’t even mention it. So, going further back, I have a 12-volume set of The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, with the volume including SAPOR dated 1897, when words like SAPOR were really used. The Cyclopedia bills itself as “A work of universal reference in all departments of knowledge including a new atlas of the world.”

    The definition is what we’ve already been told, but here’s a sentence for you: “There is a sapor to all aliments, as being to be distinguished by the gust.” That’s the best they could do!!! It’s a quote cited as “Sir T. Browne, Vulg. Err., iii, 21.” You are welcome.

    Sir Hillary 1:48 PM  

    @Anon 1:23 -- Yes, it's sports-related. High SEEDs in sports tournaments often have byes in the early rounds, i.e., they get to skip them and go directly to later rounds. A simple example is in a tournament of six -- the first round would be #3 vs. #6 and #4 vs. #5, with the winners advancing to the second round to face #1 or #2, both of whom would have first-round byes.

    Ellen S 1:49 PM  

    And finally, when someone answers (maybe) Anon 1:23’s question (I don’t care, got it from crosses, guess it’s tennis), can someone tell me if “atting” a person ... @-ing them ... in a blog comment has any effect? It does lend a certain sapor to the discussion. Like eating an arsinoe.

    Joe Dipinto 1:50 PM  

    @Anon 1:23 -- Easily googleable, but:

    Bye: Automatic advancement of a player to the next round of a tournament without facing an opponent. Byes are often awarded in the first round to the top-seeded players in a tournament.

    -- from Wikipedia's glossary of tennis terms

    Nancy 1:58 PM  

    @Anon 1:23 -- A "seed" (there may be as many as 32 and as few as 4) is a top player in a tournament -- tennis being only one category of such a tournament. Since you don't want your best players to face each other in the first or second round, you arrange the draw so that they won't meet till later in the tournament. In the case of the #1 and #2 seeds, they usually won't meet until the final. But, if there are an odd number of entrants and/or top seeds, a seed may get a BYE. Which means no opponent in the first round; you go straight on to the 2nd round without having to play a first round match.

    @jberg (10:51) -- Of course I know that! I'm a sports nut. Swish! My problem was the R instead of the P (STir/STEP), giving me THREErOINT---. And before I had most of the crosses, there was no word recognition. Then, once I saw THREE POINT---, I was thinking THREE POINT FGS and not THREE POINTERS. But I do know what a THREE POINTER is, @jberg. Steph Curry. Swish! Ask @mathgent how knowledgeable I am. :)

    Z 2:20 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    OffTheGrid 4:08 PM  

    @Anonymous 1:23. Why are you seeking sports information if you "detest all sports and vigorously avoid them"?

    James Sie 4:16 PM  

    Wait! I still don't understand how a seed might start out with "Bye" (13D). Have my eyes given out? Help a brother out, please!

    Anonymous 4:34 PM  

    just to pile on: 'bye' exist when the number of entrants is not a pure power of 2, which are

    I, think, the largest field is 128, but it may be only 64. anyway, in order to get 2nd through final to be balanced, some of the first round seeds (just the highest?, I suppose) get the 'bye' to balance the 2nd (and later) rounds.

    Anoa Bob 4:42 PM  

    I've seen SAPOR in print (spellcheck underlines that in red) including in the NYT xword. says it has appeared 23 times during the Shortz era. But I don't recall hearing it in the wild.

    A quick look at my trusty hard copy Random House tells me it comes from the Latin SAPOR (yup, spelled the same), meaning "savor". In Spanish it becomes "sabor" (sah BORE), which usually gets translated as "flavor".

    So if I planned to use SAPOR in casual conversation---I'm not---I would try to do it in the SAPOR SABOR SAVOR FLAVOR, Latin English Spanish language similarities context.

    There are four, nine-letter Downs that also cross over four (!) long Across entries. That means that four of the nine letters in those Downs are already determined. That doesn't leave much wiggle room when trying to make that work. Looks like a constructing nightmare to me. So big props to Mr. Mahnken for pulling it off.

    I hope I never have to spell WENCESLAS again.

    JC66 4:42 PM  

    @Anon 4:34

    So, since the Orange Bowl has only 2 teams, does that mean it's seedless?

    TCProf 4:53 PM  

    It's syllabuses, dammit!

    One doesn't write "octopi" or "Hippopotami" (I hope).

    It derives from the Greek, not the Latin, and thus doesn't use the letter "I" to form a plural.

    nyc_lo 5:00 PM  

    Pretty easy time of it. Not one-hand-behind-my-back-eating-a-sandwich easy, but definitely in my wheelhouse. And I couldn’t possibly dislike a puzzle that references “Shawn of the Dead,” the Wilhelm Scream, the Batmobile, and Yoda practically in the same breath.

    pabloinnh 5:46 PM  

    Well I just can't believe the problems so many of us are having with WENCESLAS. If you've ever had to actually sing the carol (not Carole), I'm sure you would have remembered

    Good King Wen-ce-slas looked out,
    On the feast of Stephen...

    and so on. You have to make it three syllables, and it's spelled nearly exactly like it sounds, unlike much of our illogical language.

    Of course, it's also possible that I'm the only regular here that has sung this for our annual Christmas Pageant every year for more than forty years. Not likely, but possible.

    Anonymous 5:52 PM  

    This is on the podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz, yes? Finally found this episode. So good. Thanks for the tip!

    Anonymous 6:10 PM  

    I had WENCISLAS and NICK instead of NECK, because I thought "Pet" might be pet name, aka nickname...and that was a bear trap I couldn't get out of. :(

    Anonymous 6:17 PM  

    Because I need the information to do crosswords.

    Georgia 6:19 PM  

    Yes, it's sports. The #1 seed, say, starts the tournament with a "bye," meaning they don't have to play the first round while other teams duke it out to qualify. This is an awkward clue for a simple word.

    Georgia 6:21 PM  

    No complaints about Act V and Disappearing Act? I held onto "ink" thinking we couldn't possibly have 2 Acts.

    xyz 6:55 PM  

    Being Bohemian (Slovak, not Czech or no, not Slovenian), WENCESLAUS has a 'U', but it fit and worked; Like chalk screeching, though.

    WTH do I know, it's a freaking Will Shortzism, anything goes with him.

    SAPOR, I learnt today, WTH do I know.

    Otherwise, it fell as usual.

    Wee got THREEPOINTERS!!! But, I guess WILHELM is a white male, so that must be the PC- imbalance today, maybe we need Karen Allen's scream from Blow-Out. But wait! That's all un-PC, WTH do I know. I'm trying to be a good person.

    Good puzzle if easy for Friday, they solve like sailing back and forth ...


    Chrisco 7:32 PM  

    I am thinking 36 A - "Long shots?" - should not have a question mark. Tres are actually long shots.

    Nancy 7:36 PM  

    @pabloinnh -- I've sung the carol many times and what I always sing is Wen-suh-luss. Fortunately no one glares at me since I'm surrounded by a mob of other street singers and my mispronunciation is drowned out. Or maybe they're mispronouncing it too. I'll try to be more careful next time. But is it any wonder that I can't spell it?

    Sam Buggeln 7:58 PM  

    He gives us a lot of information

    RooMonster 9:10 PM  

    I think the question mark has it as a double meaning type thing, as in It's a long shot, ala far, but also It's not as guaranteed as a two-pointer, ala longer odds to make it.
    My two cents.


    RHopkinson 9:46 PM  

    Had a hard time with that, as well

    Joe Dipinto 10:43 PM  

    King Wencesla(u)s was murdered by his younger brother Boleslaus The Cruel. Boleslaus was subsequently julienned to death by their sister Coleslawa The Creamy. (Okay I made that last part up.)

    kitshef 9:14 AM  

    Lots of interest and fun, but probably less so if you didn't know WILHELM SCREAM. And yes, that SE corner was a tough little nut. TIANA was a bit of a guess and the clue for UNIT was tricky.

    Z 10:10 AM  

    @Chrisco and @Roo - The convention is that the clue phrase is usually used to mean something else so the question mark tells us to think about the clue differently. “Long shot” is a reference to gambling odds usually, so the question mark suggests to us that the answer will not have anything to do with gambling.

    Hungry Mother 5:59 PM  

    Just finished after a fragmented slog. I started at about 4:45am while breakfasting before a 10K race. Then I worked a bit while entertaining family visitors. Finally, after a nice day of fun in the sun I finished. Nice puzzle and a worthy challenge.

    Anonymous 3:37 PM  

    Contumely is a noun, hard as that may be to believe.

    Anonymous 3:52 PM  

    KPs police up the kitchen, while the rest of the platoon polices up discarded cigarette butts that smokers didn’t fieldstrip and whitewashes the rocks that line the sidewalks. MPs provide base security and force protection, and guard POWs. The FBI picks up AWOLs.

    Anonymous 4:03 PM  

    Sapor: Sabertooth tigers savored the sapor of succulent Homo sapien specimens.
    Oh, sorry! That wasn’t in public.

    spacecraft 10:41 AM  

    I'm surprised no one got after the double (ACTV; DISAPPEARINGACT). It's never been a deal breaker for me, but seems to be a construction no-no, having a word appear twice in the grid.

    Count me among those who never heard of 35-across. From the WOD description, it's astounding how often this is used for my never having heard of it. Must be an intra-industry thing, like "Break a leg."

    Overall, I had a good time with the solve, though the fill owies mentioned by OFC bothered me too. I mean, "RE-TIP?" "Hey sir, you only left five bucks for a $60 meal. Don't ya think you should RE-TIP me?" Yow! The clue for UNIT is a really long stretch. But then there's the clue for WENCESLAS, which makes up for a lot. It didn't fool me, because of the E-less Carol, but I am a Carole King fan, bigtime. She gets most honorable DOD mention right behind winner Tina FEY.

    Agreeing that any Yoda quote elevates the puzzle, I give this one a birdie.

    Burma Shave 2:40 PM  


    with a UNIT powered be A_AABATTERY,
    THO she's STOIC and SMUG as heck
    when it's ONEON ONE to NECK,
    for that ABUSE it's BETTERYOUTHANME.


    Wooody2004 2:53 PM  

    Learned from Crossword: Manumission. Yggdrasil "The Tree". El Cid's era.

    Learned from blog: Judy the Dickin Medal-winning dog. I wonder if any cats have won medals for bravery?

    SADE or FEY will be DOD today. Or perhaps the THREEPOINTER sisters?

    rondo 3:03 PM  

    Carol king by far the best clue, sure to make Lewis' top 5.

    Not up on my Disney princesses, it was at first moANA, which made the creepy-crawlers MImES, which I think still works. Got it all figured out after crosses.

    I've got Grammy winner SADE circled. Yeah baby.

    Pretty good puz. BYE BYE.

    Diana, LIW 3:13 PM  

    Too much of the NE corner was a Natick for me. And I was thinking Otto, the dog. Grrr.

    But the rest got done, and it was a workout for me. Easy my peasy.

    Diana, Lady-in-Waiting, Patiently

    rainforest 3:28 PM  

    Well, I for one really liked this puzzle. Lotsa good clues and longer answers and, for me, very little dreck. Maybe a little easy for a Friday, but that is never a problem for me. It's a personal experience thing anyway.

    CONTUMELY is a word; a real word; I've seen it in print. However, it is an awkward word that I'd never use in conversation. Maybe EPICTETUS would though, bloody STOIC.

    So Sheb Wooley was the guy who initiated the whole WILHEM SCREAM thing, eh? I only know him for The Purple People Eater.

    As a Canadian, I sort of like parsing the variety of US government acronyms that appear quite regularly. I think GAO stands for Government Audit Office, and if it doesn't I don't really care. But, it's a thing I do.

    leftcoast 5:20 PM  

    Fair and gettable, including the pesky SE corner -- except for ONE word that spoiled the fun.

    WILHELM? no, no, no. (Wanted "violent".)


    spacecraft 6:44 PM  

    General Accounting Office, I think.

      © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

    Back to TOP