## Saturday, September 8, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

The shape of this grid is Awesome! It scared me, at first, but then I realized that having a lot of 4- and 15-letter answers was probably going to make the puzzle more solvable, not less. The long answers always look intimidating, but often you can crack them with just a handful of crosses, and thus really open up the puzzle. And with the 4-letter answers ... I mean, you gotta believe that a few of them are going to be quite gettable (as was the case here). I find the hardest puzzles to be those that have a lot of medium-length answers (5-7 letters) - something about that length can just be maddening; always seems like there are a million possible answers for clues. This may be why the NW (which is a 5x7 rectangle) was by far the hardest part of the puzzle for me, and the very last thing to fall.

First thing I entered in the grid was one of what turned out to be just two true gimmes: 32D: Longtime "All Things Considered" host Adams (Noah). This didn't help at all. But then I started to conjecture about the clue for the answer next to it: 31D: Cezanne's "Boy in _____ Vest" - figured there had to be an indefinite article in there ("A"), and what else could a vest be, in three letters, but RED. A RED Vest. Seemed OK, but it gave me a weird -DH- combination in the middle of 38A: Pros. But with a little patience, OLD HANDS came to me, and from there the entire middle of the puzzle went down reasonably quickly.

Getting 33D: Itself, in a Latin legal phrase (ipsa) gave me three consecutive letters in each of the 15-letter Across answers in the middle section of the puzzle. CREASE RESISTANT came to me first (37A: Like Dacron), and then all the short Downs got a Lot easier. Had OPEN for SEEN at first (34D: Not secret), but all other Down in that section were no problem. I especially liked 30D: Reverse movement, of a sort (purl), and, over in the eastern portion of the puzzle, 24D: Composition of some French chains (iles). I don't think I've ever actually seen a bottle (or can) of NEHI (23D: Cadbury Schweppes brand) - just know that it was Radar O'Reilly's drink of choice. Never heard of 26D: Editorial cartoonist Hulme (Etta), but then again I never saw that clue - convenient. I think I've heard of SERT (28D: Harvard Science Center architect Jose Luis _____), but only barely. I'd heard of him enough to put the "S" in once I had all the other letters. Turned my attention to the one long Down answer that runs through the heart of the puzzle - 18D: Spot from which you might see a bomb headed your way - and with -ONES- in place, I felt it had to be END ZONE .... something. Tried to think of parts of the END ZONE, until I realized that the clue just wanted the simple word SEAT. END ZONE SEAT. So you are seeing the "bomb" as a fan, not a player. Gotcha. The "Z" made obvious the very clever 21A: Marxist quality? (zaniness). And the middle of the puzzle was done.

But with the shape of the grid, all that work was very nearly landlocked - tiny three-letter strings extending up and down into nothingness were all I had to get me started on the other two-thirds of the puzzle. Great good fortune came when I looked at 39A: Football helmet features and got EARHOLES almost immediately - what the hell else starts with "E"? This was enough to get me a full four of the 5-letter Downs, including the delicious HALVA (42D: Flaky Turkish confection) and the Pantheonic OGEES (43D: Some moldings). Cutest clue in the SE was 41D: Move shoots, say (repot) [nice botanical echo of RESEEDED in the NW - more on that later]. Most educational clue: 40D: Things hypothesized by Democritus (atoms).

With the back end already in place, REAL ESTATE AGENT was easy (47A: One working for a flat fee?). 54A: Has an accommodating spirit took a little longer. Had the PLEASE part but the only phrase I could think of was AIMS TO PLEASE (not long enough). The key here was figuring out that TO was preceded by an adjective, not a verb ending in "S" - ZZ Top helped me out here. They're always coming to the rescue of some poor guy (see their many awesome videos). I own one ZZ Top album. That album is "TRES Hombres" (53D: "_____ Hombres" (ZZ Top record)). Like The Police, they are a trio, so if you are a constructor looking for a clue for TRIO, why not consider ZZ Top. Just a thought. Anyway, TRES gave me the "R" that finally made IS EAGER TO PLEASE come into view for 54A. Some good 4-letter stuff down here, including RISK (47D: Popular U.S. board game since 1959) and the Pantheonic actor ESAI Morales (48D: He played Bob in "La Bamba," 1987). To round off the bottom third of this puzzle, I want to give special recognition to the sizzling juxtaposition of SAO TOME (55A: Island just north of the Equator) over KINESIS (57A: Activity of an organism in response to light, e.g.). Really, really nice.

Now I was left with the big empty top of the puzzle. As with EARHOLES in the bottom half, I miraculously got RESEEDED (20A: Having new tournament rankings) off of juts one letter (and a paltry, common last letter, at that). Unlike with EARHOLES, however, RESEEDED did squat for me at first. I had an inkling about ESTAR (1D: Spanish 101 verb), but never having taken Spanish 101, I did not trust that inkling. All those other letters in RESEEDED did nothing for me. Terminal "E"s and "S"s tell you virtually nothing about an answer, so I was stuck with none of the NW Downs in place, even though I had already considered two answers that turned out to be right (ESTAR, and 2D: Wedding invitee (niece)). I thought I was dead in the water, but I got the tiniest bit of help in the NE, and it turned out to be enough to give me the momentum to finish the puzzle. Figured 8D: PBS station behind Charlie Rose had to begin with a "W," so I wrote that in. Then I got the completely humble, unremarkable answer that ended up being the tipping point: 11D: Square in a steam room (tile). Came to me instantly, and the "T" gave me W--T--- for 8A: Riddle ender, and somehow I knew the answer was WHAT AM I. Guessed 10D: "I'll raise the preparation of _____": Mark Antony ("a war"), which gave me the "W" in the fabulous 16A: Still oblivious (no wiser), and all the NE Downs went down from there. The Charlie Rose station: WNET. Other answer that was new to me up there: 9D: British general in the American Revolution (Howe).

And now the last stand - even with WALKER and what looked like INTERESTS in place as the tail ends of the 15-letter Acrosses up top, I was stuck. What kind of WALKER could be described as an "It"?? (17A: It has a fast, easy gait). And what kind of adjective could modify INTERESTS (19A: Things you enjoy doing). The NW just stared at me, empty and mocking. I even started to doubt RESEEDED. Then, as has happened many times in the past, I made headway because of a mistake. I was really frustrated at not being able to come up with 5D: Music symbol, but had a moment that felt like an epiphany when I thought of STAVE. I was not sure that this was a "symbol," but something about it felt right. The "V"! It was all I needed to get the ACTIVE part of ACTIVE INTERESTS. Never mind that STAVE was wrong wrong wrong, and the actual answer was BREVE. All I needed was that precious little "V." ACTIVE gave me the "C" that gave me the confidence to write in NIECE at 2D. It let me know that 3D: Wedding rentals were not TUXES but TENTS. Lying in bed, I read 1A: African city with famed botanical gardens out loud to my wife. I had -NT----. I somehow muttered the name ENTEBBE, and she said "what about ENTEBBE?" and I said "Well, yeah, that would be great, but it's not in Africa - it's in the Caribbean..." Pause. Wife: "No it's not. There was a rescue there ... it's in Africa." And then of course instantly I remembered Exactly where ENTEBBE is: Uganda. Idiot! Really annoyed also - half at myself, half at puzzle - for 15A: Yosemite setting (Sierras). I grew up in Fresno, CA, not too far from Yosemite, and I always knew that mountain range as the SIERRA-NEVADAS. In fact if you Google [Sierras] (go ahead, see for yourself), the first site that comes up is a Wiki site for the SIERRA NEVADA range. So I don't like SIERRAS as an answer at all. But whatever, this puzzle was very nearly done at that point, despite my not knowing two of the 5-letter names in the NW: 4D: _____ Davis, first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy (Ernie) and 7D: "Ah, Wilderness!" mother (Essie). I couldn't even tell you "Ah, Wilderness" author, let alone mother. Sheesh.

So, in the end, the WALKER that could be referred to as "It" was a horse: a TENNESSEE WALKER, which reminds me of the late great Johnny Cash and his song about the "TENNESSEE Stud."

The Tennessee stud was long and lean
The color of the sun, and his eyes were green
There never was a horse like the Tennessee stud

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Today, according to sitemeter, my average daily readership topped 5000 for the first time ever. Even though you people have never done a damned thing for me, materially, I am somehow grateful for your readership. I'm coming up on my one-year blogiversary (Sep. 25), and I'm genuinely shocked at how this blog has grown from a sad little outpost to a fairly thriving crossword solver's hub in such a relatively short period of time. So give yourselves a round of applause. Or, I don't know, send me a check, or a present ... like a cake or cookies or something. I like chocolate.

PPS Happy Birthday to my nephew Miles, who turns 6 today! He is a virtual mini-me, and my wife frequently says "Miles" in response to faces that I make when I'm happy, sad, excited, etc. Check us out! (from two years ago - in case you can't tell, he's in yellow, and I'm the gigantic dork):

liebestraum

I was able to fill the bottom third, then the top third. It was the middle rows that stumped me - I think it was because the proper names that seemed to be bunched there.

What finally did it for me was "zaniness" - I'd originally had put "Leninism".

Oh, that and it took ma about an hour. I'm guessing your time was a tad faster. Still, this was the first Saturday puzzle in a while that I solved cleanly - no looking up answers. I'm happy.

lieb

Really enjoyed seeing the photo of you and yours. I am relatively new to your blog and really appreciate how much it has helped me become a better solver.

Loved looking at the empty grid today. Even better filled.

luigi

Congratulations on your anniversary and blog development. I especially appreciate it as I'm still very much in the learning phase for the NYT crosswords-started doing them a few months ago-get through M-W but usually struggle and cheat (a lot) with Th-Sun. That's a good picture of you and your nephew-definite similarities apparent. Hope he has a great birthday!

I was just at Yosemite and SIERRAS was not one I got because like you I think of them as the Sierra Nevada Mtns.not the Sierras.

I've not had HAVLA before but when I googled for an image they did not look flaky. Guess there's lots of variation?

Also two descriptions/images I found for SPANISH OMELETTE did not use tomato-one indicated that in the more traditional dish you omit this.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Alex

SIERRAS, RESEEDED, and the EST- part of ESTAR were my first gimmes so the NW actually feel fastest (though I really don't like NIECE as "wedding invitee").

The NE corner, however, got screwed up by a false gimme. The British Revolutionary War general that immediately came to mind was Thomas GAGE, not William HOWE. Though both people are completely familiar to me, for some reason HOWE never came to mind and I was wrongly rock solid on GAGE making most of the NE impossible to parse. Another mistake finally fixed it, starting at TENNESSEE GAL--- I decided it had to be TENNESSEE WALTZ (not noticing it didn't fit) which made me rethink GAGE.

Was pleased with myself for getting EUROPEAN THEATER off the H in NEHI (if you have the Fuddrucker's chain of restaurants in NY you can get Grape Nehi there) but then was completely stuck.

I was looking in the completely wrong part of the physical world for Like Dacron. For some reason my brain knew that Dacron is a trade name for PET and the PET is the primary plastic used in water bottles. But the PET used for that has a different trade name. Stupid smarts on that one. Though I have eaten many omelettes in my time I've never had a Spanish omelette. So for the middle section I had to rely almost entirely on the downs to piece it together (I was pretty much looking at CLEASE R-SIS-A-T before finally figuring it otu (I had PULL as the opposite movement of PUSH).

After that horror, the bottom third fell easily with RISK giving me KINESIS (momentary brain fart put in KETOSIS), and ATOMS, REPOTS, HeLVA (mistake quickly fixed), and LEASH being gimmes and quickly exposing the long crosses.

After yesterday's complaint about the use of foreign languages I still want to complain about SECO (Dry, in Durango). I'm ok (or at least inured) to ESTAR since the various Romance language versions of "to be" are pretty common.

But is there some reasonable reason a non-Spanish speaking person would know the Spanish word for "dry"?

Scott

Congrats on your continued success. And here's one Rexaholic who wouldn't mind casting a few rubles your way, given the opportunity. But what is one to do? The blog is bereft of Google ads or PayPal links to click. There isn't even any Rex Gear to buy!

How about it, fellow Rexophiles? Who among us would not kill for a "What Does Rex Say?" T-Shirt?

Alex

Oh, and congratulations on the anniversary. I found you not too long after you started (completely coincidental that about the same time I started a new job that had a new commute and I turned to the crossword puzzle as something to do on BART).

The proper name may be the Sierra Nevada mountains but the informal Sierras is all I ever hear anybody actually say. And just because, I'll share my best picture from our trip there in May.

Mike

A friend recently showed me your blog so I am now one of your new regulars. I had stopped doing monday and tuesdays until I found this blog.

"Even though you people have never done a damned thing for me, materially, I am somehow grateful for your readership"

I think we all stroke your BIG EGO.

How do you justify your claim to be the 166th best crossword solver in the universe?

Mike

Anonymous

I think the constructor got halva and baklava confused. Halva is sometimes described as "a semolina pudding", and has no ingredients to 'flake'. Baklava is a flaky and sometimes gooey pastry made with filo (phyllo) (flaky) dough.

Sue

Thanks for your heroic daily efforts! And thanks for the family photo, even though we already knew what you looked like.

Anonymous

How do you justify your claim to be the 166th best crossword solver in the universe?

pinky

I was just about to say "Ah Wilderness" was a poem by Walt Whitman.

In fact it was a play by Eugene O'Neill.

What do I know, all I remember was "Oy Wilderness" was an episode on Northern Exposure.

Hobbyist

Pretty easy for me except for the bottom third and I was thinking about Karl instead of Groucho Marx.Also am intimidated by sports clues. Always.
However, solved all of this sans cheating so am quite pleased.

Anonymous

It's like Clark Kent admitting he's Superman!

Jerome

Rex,

Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary. I seem to remember when you were trolling to find people to meet you at the tournament so they could buy you free drinks. I don't know if cakes & cookies are an improvement or a regression. Great picture, too. Nice to be able to put a face on a rant.

GK

Rex, thanks for your daily dose. My son Stephen got me started reading your blog a couple of months ago, and now it's part of my routine. In the summer I was looking for the puzzle to be posted in the evening, and was especially pleased if I could finish it before you had managed to both solve and comment!

What an elegant puzzle today! Stephen and I have been trying lately to construct puzzles. Based on that experience, I stand in awe of a puzzle that manages to put together seven 15-letter phrases.

liebestraum

The only reason I was able to guess SECO for dry is that some dry wines (maybe champagne?) are designated with "sec", so I entered SEC and waited to see what happened with the cross to give me the O.

lieb

BlueStater

Congratulations on your blogiversary, Rex. The reason I found you (I was an early adopter, I believe) and continue to visit here is that you, unlike every other x-word blog I've seen, are willing to be critical of the puzzles and to give scope to other critics. I no longer even look at the NYT blog, which, until I left it, was mostly self-validating happy talk.

karmasartre

Rex, congratulations. It is interesting to see your entries from 9/2006 -- many with 0 comments, and many responses from you when there were comments. Of the 5000 daily hits, I probably account for 4 or 5, because I love reading what others have to say about the puzzle, especially on days when the theme is, uh, senseless. And Fergus always adds interest toward the end of the day.

The blog itself is a wonderful addition to the crossworld. I'm one of those who has returned to the Monday through Wednesday puzzles as a result of your blog. You should be reimbursed somehow, imo, for the value you add. NYTimes puzzle follow-up is now one of my ACTIVEINTERESTS. Thank you.

Today's puzzle was a return to Earth for me after flying through Thursday and Friday. The Earth I returned to had many, many empty squares for the longest time. I think ERNIE (Davis) was my only gimme. Once I had enough of Tennessee I started on a Tennyson path, trying to remember the "gait" of his work. So wrong. Like one of the Anons, I wanted Baklava for the flaky answer. MAUDLIN nearly exhausted my knowledge of editorial cartoonists, had no idea about Hulme.

I grew up around San Francisco; we always used "the Sierras".

Summary: good puzzle, great blog.

Jim in NYC

Rex, congratulations on your anniversary. I second Scott's comment above. We wouldn't mind a Paypal link for contributions. Also I'd recommend Amazon ads, in which you can select puzzle-related books for sale via your site (as on the Tournament site). (See Dennis Crouch's blog for an example.) I wouldn't recommend Google ads since they seem to self-select according to the text nearby on your page; this would be bizarre on a site with so many random words. Continued success to you.

Rex's sister (aka Amy)

Hey Haalmy! Er, I mean Rex. Miles loves the birthday wishes, though he is convinced the little boy in the photo is his younger brother. He is every bit a six-year-old today and all fired up for his birthday party at Bouncetown, an inflatable bouncy-ride paradise for kids
(read: nightmare for parents) where craziness is obligatory.

I agree with karmasartre's post and remember calling them "the Sierras." Maybe that is because when we were growing up, our summer camp (Alta Sierra) always used some cheesy phrase in their pamphlets like "nestled in the heart of the Sierras..." to lure parents from the larger metropolitan areas (read:not Fresno) and convince them that their children were going to receive a bonafide mountain wilderness experience. Yeah right, with horses and tennis courts! Anyway, I can't think of the Sierras without thinking of Alta Sierra!

As a side note, Sierra is a very popular girls' name out here in Colorado. But I can't get past the mountain range. I guess if the geographical landmark is far enough away from where you live, then you can get away with it. I guess. I've never heard of anyone out here naming their child Estes, Rocky, or Denver. But all of you in the east should feel free to use those names for your future children...or not. Please don't.

Later,
Seens

jae

Rex, congrats also. You make my day much more interesting. Perhaps some presents (i.e. checks)from your legion of fans around Christmas would be appropriate?

I generally like Quigley puzzles and this was no exception. I also like these types of grids for the same reasons Rex listed. A quick glance at the top third gave me little so I looked southward and immediatley filled in EARHOLES, RISK, OGEE, LEASH, TRES, and AEONS which gave me the bottom third very quickly. With EAT in 16d I figured it was some kind of seat and filled in THEATER. I looked at the middle and wanted to put EUROPEANTHEATER in with no cross but my 16d error wouldn't let me. I corrected it when the W in the gimme HOWE and the K in ASKS gave me TENNESSEEWALKER. I do know a bit of Spanish so SECO and ESTAR were also gimmes. My only minor issue with this very fine puzzle was HARD for compact. Maybe complex would have been a better clue?

Fergus

Seems like a pusilanimous Anonymous is a little jealous of the 166th Greatest.

Had the exact same thoughts as Rex upon first seeing the grid. TENNESSEE WALKER popped into my mind from a book I must have read at about age eight -- I can picture the proud, strutting stallion, but cannot remember what the book was. The middle tier was my problem zone, though I was fairly confident about the place where you might catch an extra point, so I had the vertical stripe. Got stuck on thinking the Dacron clue had something to do with synthetic composition or trademarks, rather than its physical properties. Had a tough time connecting HARD and compact, and an even tougher time trying to remember something from "Das Kapital" that started with Z. Is there some dialectical fetishism, some cousin of zeitgsist, a proletarian means of production ... no it's just Groucho and Chico. Should have known better since every Marx-related clue seems to involve the zany brothers and not the historical materialist.

Haven't had any HALVA (though I remember it having an H at the end) in such a long time. Chief objective for rest of day: find this confection. It could be sort of Flaky but crumbly is a more apt decription, since it's really just a buch of sesame seeds flimsily glued together.

And many thanks to Rex for producing this blog every day. Hardly anyone I know can be bothered with crosswords, and by extension my accounts of doing them. So, coming here is a welcome redirection of the crossword proclivity. Plus, I learn a few new things every day and often find the commentary insightful and amusing. Thanks for citing my observations, Karmasartre. Since I don't get around to doing the puzzle until late in the morning West Coast time, all the most acute observations have been made, so I find myself digressing on tangents, or blurting my baises with bombastic bluster.

Kumar

As someone who actually knows how to make halva as we do in India, it is about as flaky as rice pudding. Bad clue.

Unlike you, Rex, got the middle right away and then spent a frustrating hour getting most of the rest.

Keep up the blog. Love it.

janec

Kumar et al,

There seem to be different kinds of halva(h), one kind like polenta and another dry and flaky.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halva

Anonymous

Seems like a pusilanimous Anonymous is a little jealous of the 166th Greatest.
Huh?

In this country, "halva[h]" is invariably the sesame-seed confection from Russia via Brooklyn. Joyva makes what most Americans who have tasted halva have had. It is quite crumbly and coarse compared with many confections made across the subcontinent, near east and middle east. I once sampled some carrot halwah in India, passed out to all who wanted from a truck, to celebrate the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh. It was wonderful and nothing like New York halva. I have subsequently sampled many kinds of Indian halwah, most of them excellent but nothing like Joyva marble.

Anonymous

Haalmy?

Seens?

Isabella di Pesto

I got the bottom and middle of this puzzle quickly, then was stumped by the upper third. I knew the botanical gardens were in Entebbe, and I had RESEEDED. But it took me forever to do the rest, even though my daughter just returned, last night, from a trip to Yosemite.

I like this puzzle a lot even if it did take me too long to finish.

Foodie

On this momentous one year anniversary, I've decided to appoint myself food expert for this blog. I sent you a mini-recipe with Sumac a while back, and here now is my comment about the Halva discussion.

Halva, a sesame based confection, is indeed not as flaky as Baklava. But if well prepared, it is flaky enough. If you buy badly prepared Halva, it can be lumpy and the oil can separate like in peanut butter. But the right Halva, ah, it should flake and then melt in your mouth!

Congratulations Rex!

campesite

Congrats, Rex! Thanks for your daily efforts on the blog.
To Amy: I have a friend with two beautiful kids, a girl named Sierra and a boy named Gunnison, thus covering California and Colorado.

Yay! After my fastest Friday yesterday, I completed my first Saturday ever today! A few squares wrong, but I'd never gotten traction on one before.

I started with the bottom third, which went pretty smoothly, though I had LIFE for RISK and ERST for LATE. I finally made myself change them to fit REAL before ESTATE AGENT. Also had MOVES ON for MOVES UP for a bit. Yum, HALVA!

For the middle section, I started out with IPSO for IPSA and, like Rex, OPEN for SEEN, as well as TURN for PURL. Lots of mistakes, but enough correct letters to get traction. Also thought 21A would end ISM, which gave me STEN. Then I got EUROPEAN THEATER, fixed my mistakes, and finished off with OLD HANDS, after chuckling at PURL, which my fiance (I wrote her a crossword to propose, by the way!), an avid knitter, loved.

After I figured out ENDZONE SEAT, there was the top third. It was rough! I spent longer on it than on the whole puzzle up to this point, and still didn't quite get it right in the end. I had only TILE and RESEEDED, two gimmes, plus TUXES for TENTS and USHEE for NIECE and SITED for BASED for a really long time. Of course, I knew USHEE or TUXES was wrong, but since they both seemed good to me, I left them both in. Having grown up in San Francisco, I mistakenly thought Charlie Rose was on KQED, which caused me much misery. Eventually, I decided it might be a W and got WHAT AM I, which let me put the ASKS I'd considered in, and I slogged out the NE.

But now came my Waterloo. I sat and stared at the NW and kept trying things in my mind, tried SEATS for 3D, and such. Finally, I guessed BREVE, which let me fill in ACTIVE, which made me take out USHER at last! But I was still waffling between SEATS and TENTS. After more agonizing I finally put SIERRAS in, which I had considered long ago, but had dismissed, since it conflicted with all three of my downs at the time! But for ages I wondered about the WALKER and got fixated on something with KNEE. :( Eventually, I just filled in TENSE KNEE WALKER, which didn't make me happy at all, since it didn't sound "easy", and guessed ENTABBA for 1A. Stopped my watch, and fiance said, "What state were you born in?" "Tennessee!" Oh well, I still got almost all of it. Better than almost none!

Fergus

I would love to see a clue for Tense Knee Walker. Some are already fermenting in my mind.

To the befuddled Anonymous, I offer a contingent apology since it seemed when I read the posts that you were trashing a competent yet avowedly not masterful ace-solver, who recognizes he's damn good, but maybe not the best.

Isn't that the bittersweet recognition we all might come to after a bout with tenses and grammer and obscure knowledge?

Anonymous

Definite congratulations for a great blog - as well as my source for all things answered when I just can't figure out what is going on. I never did solve the NE because of having HEAT instead of MEET.

Badir - would you be willing to show us your proposal crossword? It sounds very romantic.

DS

Anonymous

√Longtime "All Things Considered" host Adams (Noah)

which threw me off!
(i had old hand, changed it....etc)

karmasartre

Re. Sierra and the geographical name trend -- I have long held that if you name one child Madison, you should name the next Green Bay.

Re. Foodie being the food expert -- I will support your nomination pending your views on Isabella di Pesto.

Oh yes, Rex, I found your blog last fall when there was some ridiculous answer that claimed to be a baseball phrase (which I have, thankfully, blocked by now). I googled it, and the only hit I got was you complaining about what a ridiculous phrase it was! I didn't start reading your blog regularly then, but I would check it out occasionally. I liked your sense of humor and the (ir)relevant pictures, as well as explanations of some things I didn't understand, so at some point I became a daily reader. Congrats on your upcoming blogiversary!

Anonymous 11:12 AM, I was going to say that Rex can justify his claim to be the 166th best crossword solver in the universe by the fact that that was his place in this year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. But then I noticed that you linked to the results. So the explanation is that "Rex Parker" is [gasp] not his real name! He's Michael Sharp, the name listed in the results at #166.

Anonymous 8:37 PM/DS, you can see a picture of the original filled-in grid from my proposal at Kristy's knitting blog: http://www.elevenstitches.com/eleven_stitches/2007/03/questions_asked.html

Anonymous

...

Seens?

Haalmy?

...

mike

I was the one who asked the original 166 question, I was just curious. the blog is so full of minutia (in a good way) that I couldn't figure it out. I also didn't realize that anonymous had made a link. Thanks for the info.

mike

judgesully

Shouldn't the clue be "marxian quality?" A marxist is someone whoe adheres to the theories of Karl, and "marxian" better describes the type of humor of the brothers Marx.

ANTI-WAR DEMOCRAT

At first when I saw 39 D Football helmet features. I thought of FACEMASK. That was the only thing I could think of. But as the puzzle progressed I found out I was wrong!

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