Diamond Delivery

Michael Hawkins and John Guzzetta deliver a late-week puzzle that might require a few attempts.

Comments: 74

  1. I enjoyed the challenges of this puzzle, though both bulbs and icers went right in. Clues for relay race and asterisks were marvelous (I differ about the interpretation of *). I have a little problem with the clue for etch, since an impression is made by something which has been etched, but one doesn't impress when one etches, one cuts or incises. Just quibbling.
    Hubby was here just for MOL after yesterday's dalliance with Grumpy Old Man.

    I had two "EEEK" reactions, to things that make me feel a little ill. That would be 28D and 15A. Not sure which is worse.

    I had one, "Please do not do this one again" reaction, and I feel very strongly about it. The fill "asks for it" should be clued in a way that neither justifies nor excuses any kind of bullying, abusive or dominating behavior. That was inexcusable.

    [Second post will include a Leviathan story and personal notes.]

  2. Re: LEVIATHAN. A folk story from Liberia (Vai culture): "Sleeping Contest."

    In the village the men decided to have a sleeping contest. Everyone fell asleep, but then one man's hut caught fire and the villagers ran to wake him and pull him out. "Why did you wake me? I was in the sleeping contest!" he said indignant. He fell asleep again, and a roaring beast came into the village and threatened the same man. When they woke him, he was angry. "Why did you wake me? I was in the sleeping contest!" A third time he fell asleep. And the rains came down, and his sleeping mat floated on the floods and down into the river and out to sea. And there he was swallowed by Leviathan. And the fishermen caught the great fish and, seeing how it was full of something, they cut it open. Out rolled the man on his mat. They woke him. "WHY DID YOU WAKE ME?" he hollered. "I WAS IN THE SLEEPING CONTEST!"

    [I love West African storytelling.]

    Personal dance, no twerking involved, for the attainment of my initials in my solving streak today. And still trying to figure out what's going on with my [clue for 53D].

  3. David,
    Is [clue for 53D] causing you pain and/or mobility issues, or does it just "look funny" on those MRI's?

  4. Mobility / flexibility / pain issues are all fabulous features of my sitch nowadays. Let's just say my celebration dance was performed seated and one-handed. Still, glad my stats didn't get messed with as apparently happened to many this week!

  5. Hard! I did get ASTERISKS pretty early on, but many of the other clues flummoxed me. I had bits and pieces throughout, but it was hard to put together a whole section. What was I sure of? Not much! TRON and INNES. What was I sort of confident about? USS and SAKE and IVEY, ICERS, ETCH, and THANE. Not much to go on. I ended up looking up TILLY and ROY; without that I doubt I would have been able to fill in that corner. But they gave me CLIP-ON TIE, and that led to the whole top half. Finally seeing HEY BATTER BATTER in the middle was a wonderful moment of turning the corner and knowing that I'd be able to finish. It was tough, but I survived!

  6. Thank you.

    It was one of the hardest and most satisfying puzzles in a while.

    I really felt proud when I entered the last clue and heard our "theme song "

  7. very enjoyable. kept working at it, section by section. Liked hey batter, batter. knew it referred to baseball, but took some time to emerge. liked bulbs as two items in HW store. good Friday!

  8. Nice tough Friday. Thank you. I enjoyed being TRIPPED UP by a number of misdirecting clues.

    The 46 Down clue is either incorrect or obscure. HIT ME is a request for a card, not an entire hand...but it also is a request for a "high five" (hand).

    (I bid One No)

  9. Oh, High Five. I think that's what was meant after all. I thought of Twenty-One, too, and had the same qualm. One of my fourth-graders spent a good half hour yesterday trying to convince his friends that "hand slap" was the new wave name for a "high five." He wandered around the hall holding up his hand and saying, "hand slap!" This is how new things are born - sometimes.

  10. A terrific puzzle. Very tough and original clues, and a blast to complete. Kudos!

  11. Liked having TWERP and TWERK (too contemporary for spell checker) so nicely juxtaposed.....

  12. Yes, this was a nice, tough puzzle, which I was able to complete only with the help of Mlle Check. I have a serious problem, however, with the concept that an ASTERISK is "a qualifier." To me, that's like saying a question mark is a question. Indeed, the case is even more objectionable than that, as an asterisk can represent other things than qualifications—for example, a footnote that elaborates on some word, phrase, or thought that is the opposite of the item referred to.

  13. The clue is "indication" of qualification, which may include certain footnotes. I don't think the fact that there are also other kinds of footnotes disqualifies (sorry) the clue.

  14. As in, 'He'll be in the record-books as a Hall-of-Famer, but perhaps with an ASTERISK by his name.'

  15. Not sure how to take this, pauly.

    The examples you cite are pretty much qualifiers, if not qualifications. I'm struggling to make the whole thing work.

  16. Somehow, I got on this puzzle's wavelength, and I found the cluing delightful.

  17. This was a tough one but very gratifying when completed. TRON nd TWERK got me going, but little else came easily. Nice Friday challenge.

  18. I was misled. Multiple times. Another pretty massive failure for me, which I seem to be declaring fairly frequently on weekends lately. I had a fairly solid stretch of correct answers from the SW up through the middle, coming to a halt around ASKSFORIT, and not much else.

    Highlights were actually remembering RAIMI and INNES and IVEY (eventually). Low points are too numerous to list; the one that bugged me the most was at 3d. I was pretty sure it wasn't FONDA and I could picture the actress but just couldn't remember her name. It dawned on me after the fact that if I had just thought of her in 'The Big Chill' (which I swear I haven't seen more than 30 or 40 times), I would have remembered her name.

    That's not exactly what TWERP meant when I was growing up, though it was most commonly applied as an adjective (TWERPy). Hard to give a precise definition, but we used it to mean someone who was a bit weird or off-kilter. But I guess stuff like that varies from region to region.

    Well, there's always tomorrow. I can't do much worse (I'll probably regret saying that).

  19. You were misled... about the WATER?

    I only saw "Agnes of God" on stage, cast with Amanda Plummer and father Christopher, and had no recollection of a movie version, so only settled on Meg TILLY when I had most of the crosses. I agree about associating her with "The Big Chill", where she was memorably lithe and limber.

    32D was the place to remember Son #3, wasn't it?

  20. I'm probably not quite getting your first line, Leapy.

    Amazing - I can't remember Meg Tilly, but you can remember the name of my #3 son (who has not appeared in any plays or films as of this date).

  21. I agree that 'punk' had a more menacing connotation, as compared to the nerdy, dweeby TWERP--which I resisted for a while, not least because of its proximity to the TWERK entry.

    Hand up for putting FONDA into the margin.
    I did get the puzzle, but woof! D-HUBBY gave me the jazz trumpeter after I said, 'Starts with R.' But it took me until I had --BBY to get HUBBY. Hah.

  22. Just as suggested, it took me two sittings. HEY BATTER BATTER was fun.

    I would love to have a scientific explanation for why taking a break can aid a solve. My seat of the pants conjecture is that it clears memory of unhelpful thoughts to allow for fresh starts of trial-and-error searching.

    One of the more satisfying solves in a while.

  23. Musicians, actors, etc. can definitely attest to this simple fact: putting in work on something and then stepping away from it for a length of time produces improvement that "keeping in work mode" cannot produce. The brain gets the baseline information it needs and then, in the background, makes the connections that are wanted so that answers (or skills, lines, riffs) appear, complete and fluid, when the thing is readdressed. I know I could state this all more clearly if I walke d away and came back to it. (^_^;)

    In a musical rehearsal of two pieces, doing them 1, 2, 1, 2, will always produce better results than doing 1, 1, 1, 1 until you're satisfied and then going on to 2, 2, 2, 2, ...
    The connections get made in the underground part of the brain.

  24. Intrigued by your Accounting Onion persona.....Onion as in the 'news' organization, only with numerals?
    Awaiting enlightenment. MY moniker, on the other hand, needs no explanation....

  25. I think there is some research that differs with your opinion on that.

  26. Very tricky! Initially had "departure" for bad occasion for anchor to drag, time delay for tape delay, and rides for the zoo's 265 acres (although admittedly that did seem like a lot of rides for a zoo!).

    I thought some of the names were obscure, proving Deb's wheelhouse case. Did not know the California congressman, author Hammond, or that vial can be spelled phial.

    Hey batter batter also tripped me up; a baboon can't legislate even if he's a big talker.

    All's fair in love and Fridays, I guess.

  27. I thought CAGES for the old zoo.
    Darrell ISSA is carving out a name for himself (though not in a good way, perhaps.) He does illustrate that a BABOON might indeed...well, I shouldn't finish that thought, mayhap.

  28. Crunchy, tricky, playful, and fun. Three writeovers: scent/STASH, hon/USS, sin/DIE. Very timely, perhaps, to see LEGISLATE and BIGTALKER side by side.

  29. Yes it was a very challenging puzzle. I wanted TIMEDELAY before TAPE and couldn't for the life of me figure out what a PUMIL is. The "Agnes of God" movie I recall starred Genevieve Bujold and Donald Sutherland and was filmed in Montreal in the early 1970"s.
    Stepping away from a difficult puzzle sometimes works for me. Unfortunately, I become obsessed with finishing and don't stop until I do.

  30. Is the film you're thinking of called _Act of the Heart_?

  31. Exactly my problem area also. I was certain it was TIME DELAY and never questioned it. I ended up looking up the answers so there goes my streak.

  32. Hoo, boy! This one had me in a LATHER. I mean a DITHER. No, a LATHER.

    I started with 49D. Banquo's GHOST! Bam! Great start....or not.
    Was the TWIST a dirty dance back in the day?
    TIME DELAY catches a CURSE, right?
    Oh, puh-leeze! Don't remind us of those awful CRINOLINES! Scratch, scratch, crinkle-crackle, torture!

    I even began second-guessing the simple, straightforward ones!

  33. No, MOL. Some time before the twist, when I was in high school, we had the dirty boogie. Chaperones at high school dances had to watch out for it.

    This was the same era when the girls were wearing CRINOLINEs, sometimes several at once. During the winter holidays, some girls attached jingle bells to them. Drove the teachers nuts, and eventually led to some of them getting sent home to divest themselves of the noise.

  34. Asterisks
    Are three clues which were for me, clueless reaches. A few others might be added, but the point is: three is too many and irritating.

  35. I liked ASTERISKS and RELAYRACE, but agree with you on ATEIT. To the one I agree with you on, I would add HEYBATTERBATTER and PEANUTS, because I don't yet understand them. All in all, I enjoyed the challenge of today's puzzle, for which I needed a few smidgens of help before completing the solve.

  36. HEY BATTER BATTER is an oratorical delivery at a ball park (diamond). PEANUTS are styrofoam packing peanuts.

  37. Thanks, Barry.

  38. This puzzle smacks of freshness! There are so many great answers here with HEYBATTERBATTER first up at the plate. And the cluing was top notch. It's funny because I was sure "Traveled in trunks, say" was going to refer to a basketball penalty so I was pleasantly surprised when SWAM appeared.

    Anybody else have gAlOOt before BABOON?

    Thank you Michael Hawkins and John Guzzetta, your puzzle more than HELDWATER, it delivered a KICK!

  39. I had several OO words in my mind before BABOON, which I think is not a great clue for this one. Who calls someone a baboon?

    The other clue I didn't like much was for VEERS. When would you replace turn off by veer? "I veered off the highway"? "Veer onto the dirt road"?

    Otherwise nicely challenging for a Friday.

  40. To amplify Deb's comment about how some days clues are clicking and others they are not, I have likened it to snow and sleet. Some days it's snowing, and the clues melt when they hit my brain, and other days they are like sleet, bouncing loudly and mockingly off my windshield.

    I love the word "defenestrate". I labored for years under the mistaken impression that it had to do with, ahem, menstruation. I guess that opens a window into MY soul, huh?

  41. Hi Michael,

    I would venture that there s more of a connection than you think, what with PMS and all. Not that I would know.

  42. This brings to mind the infamous Leap Day episode on "Modern Family" - "it's because you're monstruating!" . . .

  43. Am I sensing a book plug?

  44. 36A brought to mind an old New Yorker cartoon. A cow is sitting at a bar, glaring at the bartender exclaiming: I said hay bartender!

    Tried to fit regatta into 17A without any luck. One of our dear constructors refereed to him/herself as the THANE of Thursdays. Why I remember that vs. spelling vial as PHIAL may be a function of associative thinking.

    Solid Friday. Thank you Michael and John.

  45. This was the most difficult puzzle I can remember. I knew only one of the names, Hammond INNES and needed a couple of letters for that. I think the only answer in the entire puzzle I was sure of was CRINOLINE, so after staring at an virtually empty grid, I started guessing and checking, resulting in loads of black triangles, but enough correct answers to get going. Even so I needed 2 reveals to finish, 38D and 30A.

    I was relieved that others found it hard at least.

  46. Hammond INNES is still one of my favorite mystery writers! It was really nice to see his name show up here!

  47. This was precisely my experience, Suejean. I needed multiple checks to finish, even though I had heard of ISSA as well as INNES. I tried CAGES before check word led me to ACRES, and that's the way it went through the whole puzzle. As with you, CRINOLINE was my only gimme.

  48. Me too for cages,hepcat8.

  49. IMO, the greatness of this puzzle is that aside from a few people's names (which you may or may know), *none* of the entries are obscure words or phrases; it's *all* in the cluing.

  50. I'm afraid that FBOMB was an obscure phrase to me. Is it the same as FWORD? If so, I am tired of all these constructors mincing around obscenities; it's time for them to grow up.

  51. F BOMB (same as F WORD) is very much in the (online) language. In the context of the puzzle, I found mincing around the obscenity quite appropriate, since the TAPE DELAY would have resulted in the actual word being bleeped.

  52. I'm not sure PHIALs have been used since the time when we were drinking philters.

  53. This one gave me chuckles, ahas, intense battles, and somehow allowed me to conquer it, so there was self satisfaction piled on top of all that. Patrick Berry, in his book, says that what makes or breaks a puzzle is the cluing, and the cluing today was witty and devilish (Hi, @Barry!): SWAM, ASTERISKS, PUPIL, USS, BULB. There were many answers with spark, i.e., HEYBATTERBATTER, SKYHIGH, FBOMB, TAPEDDELAY.

    A couple of pairs stood out to me, TWERK with TWERP, and HIT_ME with ASKS_FOR_IT. And I loved the rhyme line, SKY HIGH BONSAI, with its supporting cast STY, DIE, and TRI.

    The NYT puzzles usually elicit my gratitude, and this one certainly did that, and occasionally a puzzle also elicits love and a wow and leaves me SKY HIGH. Props for doing that and making this, Michael and John!

  54. The Fword TRIPPED me UP and put me in a LATHER (not a pother though!

    TWERK TWERP ... wonder if there's the beginning of a word ladder there!?

    Coincidentally, am SKY HIGH as I post this (day trip to SoCal).

  55. Just now starting to solve. (Had to make an emergency medicine run for my ailing wife.) My ego issues (aka I-strain) are not so severe that I feel unduly guilty over needing research help to confirm my INNES guess at 62A, based on being moderately sure of the first two letters. You may have already correctly inferred that I figured out the reading problem at 33D. Hoping I don't more assistance from either Deb or the Internet. (Back later :) )

  56. sending good wishes to your wife, twoberry.

  57. I hope everything is OK for your wife, twoberry.

  58. Thanks, suejean and CS, for your warm thoughts.

  59. I completed very little of the puzzle on my first pass, starting with IVEY, A IS, and ICERS. Somehow, walking the dog allowed me to return to the grid with a clear head and sections starting filling in. I don't know why this is so often the case, but I ended up back where I started in the NW. Tried 'scent' and 'trail' before STASH, 'dither' before LATHER, and toyed with 'cages' before ACRES. Was thinking more about what the BATTER does than what is said about him/her. Really felt good finishing. Best kind of Friday.

  60. I was sure scent was correct.

  61. Tough puzzle. Loved the clueing. What say we give the NHL a break for a while?

  62. If I'd been doing this in pencil I would have scratched right through the paper.
    I was congratulating myself on having WRAPPED UP for 'foiled' - as in aluminum. At 33d I decided it was referring to the Reading RR and when I had TRAIN filled in, I knew I was on the right track. 55a was initially AH TIS true. 36a was ?EYBETTERBATTER - my baseball cred comes completely from crossword puzzles. I was debating using a Brooklyn accent and saying "He's a VEYBETTERBATTER." And of course I had DITHER before LATHER.

    Had MetalLICA before MetalWARE so I was clearly in Friday mode and took few clues as straightforward. Onward to Saturday.

  63. Now that is a worthy Friday puzzle.

  64. Tough tough tough Friday, but completely fair. As mentioned already, it was all in the cluing. I had less than a third of the grid filled in when I got off the LIRR this morning, feeling frustrated (no FBOMBs, though). But taking a break long enough to pick up breakfast and get on the downtown E train was just the tonic I needed. Finished in the lobby waiting for the elevator, when I finally traded in FONDA for TILLY. Well done, Michael and John.

    This is a hilarious bit from the David Letterman show, built around an actual store called Just BULBS:


    A trippy clip from 1968. Jefferson Airplane performing "LATHER":


  65. I worked in the lab of a major hospital for 5 years (as a virologist in the early 80's) and worked with thousands of vials, but not a single PHIAL. Obscure, outdated and wrong.

  66. fridays puzzle not one of the better ones. obtuse clues.

  67. Agree with Deb, Northwest was particularly tough...at least this puzzle didn't feel like a onus solving but was actually fun figuring out the wordplay. Even a certain curmudgeonly commentator on another site admitted that the NYTimes made the right decision to publish this one.
    Thanks John and Michael!

  68. A fine Friday puzzle with lots of cute tricky clues slowing down the solve, like the men's fashion shortcut, the diamond delivery (which did not end with PITCH as I first thought), the bleeping chance, indications of one's qualifications, and take care of bills. Nice to see words like PHIAL, PLEBS, CRINOLINE, SKY HIGH, LEVIATHAN, and even TWERP, a word whose existence I'd almost forgotten. Groom before HUBBY, FLEET before SLEEK, GETS before SEES, ADIA(?) before AVIA. Did not know RAIMI, or ROY Hargrove, or that WIPED OUT could be intransitive. Totally enjoyable solving experience.

  69. I can't remember a time when my thinking was so completely different from a crossword creator's.

  70. I loved the clues in this puzzle. They had me VEERing all over the place. Started proudly with Yacht RACE and STY, the former, of course, wrong, but at least I was in the ballpark, HEY BATTER BATTER! Took me awhile to get the soft drink; Tab to me is all about document formatting. But my favorite was BONSAI for Clip art? Tough, but hilarious!

  71. So I was totally confused by HEY BATTER BATTER (possibly there should be some punctuation in there). Read Deb's column. Read Jeff's column. Read a whole lotta the comments (I was late getting here, and there may have been some I missed because I was trying to get to the end).

    I figured "diamond" referred to baseball, but no clue. So I Googled, and what I got from Urban Dictionary was: "This is something you yell if you're playing baseball, and you're on the sidelines, trying to distract the batter so he'll screw up."

    Oh. Really. Charming.

    Given that Deb and Jeff and most of the commenters seem to understand--even applaud--this entry, I guess I have to concede that it is crossworthy. But, sheesh. Ick.

    Other than that, I enjoyed the puzzle. One big dumb mistake was misreading the clue for 15A as [Men's fashion haircut]. The fact that the entry started with "CLIP" did nothing to steer me back to reality. Who knows what they call weird haircuts these days?

    In that same sector, I thought that a boat race could be a RELAY RACE. So I got the entry, but not the point of the clue.

    Loved the clever clues, those for BONSAI, ASTERISKS, SWAM, BULBS, ASTERISKS, some others. Fun for starters, better for enders.


    Thanks for a whole lotta fun.

  72. Whew, that was some brain-boggling, but I did it. Favorite clue: Traveled in trunks.