THURSDAY, Dec. 27, 2007 - Jim Leeds

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: Add "C" - familiar phrases have "C" added to their beginnings, creating silly phrases, which are clued

Took me just over 11 (!?) and that was with one oversight (an "I" where a "Y" belonged) and one flat-out guess that ended up right (see mini-lecture on unfair crossings below). I spent a good part of my time staring down a recalcitrant NW and northern midwest. And yet I felt quite good during parts of this puzzle, knocking off parts that I knew were tough with little effort at all. Had the whole NW and W done inside a minute. So ... very uneven. I still enjoyed the puzzle, on the whole. I just ... have some concerns. Small criticisms. Nits, really. Well, maybe bigger than nits. Lice? Let's see...



Theme answers:

  • 17A: Certain marine biologist's test? (Coral exam)
  • 23A: One way to get into a gang's headquarters? (Con the lookout)
  • 35A: Eskimos in an igloo? (Cold folks at home) - know this phrase (minus the "C") only from an old Taj Mahal album I happen to own.
  • 45A: Pictures of Slinkys? (Coil paintings)
  • 57A: Witches' pots, pans, etc.? (Covenware) - had a rough time here, as all I wanted to write in was COVENBAKE...

On Unfair Crossings:

OK, look. I expect to get beaten by puzzles once in a while. My ignorance is vast, and occasionally it will be revealed in crossing answers that are simply outside my ken. I accept this. But the whole point of having words cross (hence, "Crosswords"), is that you are supposed to have a shot at getting @#$# you don't know. There must be some room for educated guessing. But when you cross a fairly exotic word with a highly unspecifically clued three-letter abbreviation, you are just being mean. Here's the cross in question:

  • 22D: Dried coconut meat (copra) - I know that somewhere in my life, I've seen/heard this before, but I had CO-RA and nothing was coming to me. I won't tell you the gruesome details of how I guessed correctly, but it involves misremembering the parts of a certain scientific word of Greek derivation.
  • 28A: F.D.R. agency (O.P.A.) - The Office of Price Administration!?!?! Really? Ugh. I hate few clues more than [F.D.R. agency]. Now I know why F.D.R. is such a demonic figure to conservatives: at times like these, I, too, start to wish for a Smaller @#$#-ing Government. Has anyone ever counted how many three-letter abbreviations F.D.R. brought into being. I can name three, now, so there must be others.

All I'm saying is: if you're going to throw an F.D.R. agency in there (which, you have to admit, is a desperate move for a constructor), at least give me crosses that might be in my vocabulary. You know things are wrong when, of the three crosses to an abbreviation, LOESS (25D: Windblown deposit) is not the most obscure.

More rough stuff:

  • 14A: "_____ the Agent" (old comic strip) ("Abie") - hell, I teach Comics and I didn't know this. Luckily, ABIE is a very, very familiar name to crossword solvers everywhere.
  • 6D: Musical interval (sixth) - I had FIXER here for a while because ... I'm not sure I can even explain it ... I used the clue from 21A: Cultural stuff (arts) ... and mistook the meaning of "Culture" ... let's just say I had AGAR for ARTS at first. If none of this makes any sense to you, you are perfectly sane. Move along.
  • 22A: Tops (crests) - stared at -RESTS for far, far too long.
  • 10D: Hebdomadally (a week) - [sigh] - another word for me to learn ... and forget.
  • 11D: Five-time Horse of the Year, 1960-64 (Kelso) - all well and good for those of you who were alive then. To me, KELSO is the character that made Ashton Kutcher famous. "Famous."
  • 52A: Prefix with -phile (oeno-) - got it easy, as I love this prefix, but come on! Give people a little help.
  • 30D: Thin pancakes (blini) - really seeing a lot of these lately, strangely.
  • 30A: "Breaker Morant" people (Boers) - total guess - with BO--S in place, there wasn't a lot else it could have been.
  • 36D: Utmost distance from the eye at which an image is clear (far point) - inferrable, but unknown to me as a concept.
  • 47D: French frigate that carried the Statue of Liberty to the U.S. (Isere) - if this weren't a river name, I'd never have got it. Had YSERE at first, duh.
  • 48D: Nautical acronym (LORAN) - nope. Sorry. Don't know this. LOng RAnge Navigation, I'm told.
  • 46D: Massive, very hot celestial orb (O-star) - well, "celestial orb" pretty much gives you the STAR part, but trust me when I say there are at least several [letter]-STARs in astronomical parlance.
  • 59A: Cling Plus brand (Saran) - mysterious ... then easy.
  • 5D: Red lights and flares (alerts) - again, should have come more easily than it did. I think I was anticipating a trick that never came.
  • 60A: Novelist Seton (Anya) - ugh, that "Y"; had ANIA and TEVIE (50D: "Fiddler on the Roof" role) before I changed "I" to "Y."
  • 58D: Financial paper: Abbr. (WSJ) - ah, newspaper. OK. They have a weekly puzzle.
  • 49D: Who has won an Oscar for Best actor three times (Noone) - that Peter NOONE; he'll surprise you.
  • 7D: _____ pudding (British dish) (pease) - anyone else fill in FIGGY?
  • 27D: Expressionist Schiele (Egon) - he's back. You must remember him.
  • 26D: Time-honored name (Luce) - something to do with Time magazine's publisher, Henry LUCE.
  • 54D: Carrier of a bow and arrows (Eros) - took me way way Way too long. Had ENOS at one point.
  • 43D: Kind of gland (pineal) - example of how you can have no idea what you're writing down in a crossword puzzle and it really doesn't matter. "PINEAL? Rings a bell. Sure, why not?"
  • 45D: _____ finalis (purpose, in law) (causa) - didn't know. Needed crosses. A little Latin often comes in handy. At least I knew CAUSA was in fact a word.
  • 64A: 1910s heavyweight champ _____ Willard (Jess) - a really interesting guy. Still, I hope you are noticing how many semi-obscure to obscure answers there are in this puzzle. Not a terrible thing - I'm just sayin': this puzzle was harder than most Thursdays.
Hope you're still on vacation, wherever you are. If not ... well, it's almost the weekend. Chin up.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[drawing by Emily Cureton]

80 comments:

Jim in NYC 9:06 AM  

Just a pure boast today; Rex found the puzzle challenging and my time was only 6 x Orange, so I'm pretty pleased.

Jim in NYC 9:08 AM  

BTW, for those FDR-type clues, it helps being from the Rex Morgan M.D./Judge Parker era. Congratulations on the News 10 interview, Rex.

Parshutr 9:21 AM  

Unfair, yes, and also, unforgivably WRONG.
Breaker Morant fought against the Boers; they were most definately NOT HIS PEOPLE.

Pinky 9:26 AM  

Yes I had FIGGY, and I only remember PEASE from pease porridge hot..

This was tough, wild=guessed my way through, googling words like Loess that came into my mind from nowhere (had Dross at first)

Stuff that was hard to give up on
AGAR instead of ARTS for Cultural stuff
CROWNS instead of CRESTS for tops
ELAN instead of PEEL for zest
SITU instead of LIEU for place

I still don't know the answer to the poisonous flower/Kensington Kiss cross. I have WOLFSBATE and STOG.....anyone?

Doris 9:30 AM  

Pinky: The Brits call smooching snogging. Pretty ugly word. Wolfsbane is the old, poetically named poisonous flower. Mentioned in various poems, stories, etc.

Doris 9:34 AM  

Addendum: Wolfsbane, also known as aconite:
"No, no go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf-bane, tight-rooted for its poisonous wine."
Keats, "Ode on Melancholy"

I guess I should get a life.

Hydromann 9:38 AM  

Parshutr, I take issue with your comment. The clue did not say "Beaker Morant's people." It said, "'Beaker Morant' people." Thus the clue was referring to "people" in the movie "Breaker Morant," which certainly does include Boers.

ArtLvr 9:51 AM  

Wow -- loved this puzzle, found it only mildly challenging, maybe because of starting at the bottom with gimmies like "Anya", "Tevye", "bel", "eros", "aren't" and the whole SW! I was looking for "coil" for Slinkies, so "coil paintings" unlocked everything. Enjoyed "lane" for word with bus and memory; Luce for Time-honored man, "WSJ". Yes, I tried agar before "arts" for the cultural stuff, though I was fairly sure it was a double-trick clue! Is there a Peter Noone, or is that answer just "no one"? That would be super too. Fastest I've done a NYT puzzle in ages, yippee...

wendy 9:52 AM  

For some reason the word Breaker suggested CB radios to me, so I had major crosswordese CBer instead of BOER for quite some time. ER, no.

For pudding I wanted Hasty, but I didn't fill it in because I was sure it would be some other horrific mess, like blancmange only shorter.

I misspelled TEVYE (with an A at the end) so I kept wanting to put in ZEAL for Zest, which seemed unlikely given the words both started with Z. I don't know if there's a constructor law against that, but my intuition told me to look elsewhere, esp. since Caz seemed to mean nothing. PEEL is actually very clever. Sorry I didn't catch on.

One does want to commit various crimes when words like Hebdomadally appear. I believe I speak for others on this.

FDR's New Deal also created RFC, FERA, CCC, TVA, PWA, FDIC, CWA, NRA, SSA and SEC. Don't kill the messenger. Probably there were others. One of the songs from the musical Hair had a lyric that went, "LBJ took the IRT down to 4th Street USA. When he got there, what did he see? The youth of America on LSD! LBJ ... IRT ... USA ... LSD" Why am I telling you this? I've been infiltrated by initials.

Despite its foibles, I did like this puzzle. Esp. SNOG.

wendy 9:54 AM  

artlvr, the answer is indeed NO ONE. I think Rex was kidding around. Peter Noone is the real name of Herman of Herman's Hermits.

ArtLvr 9:58 AM  

Thanks, Wendy -- "No one" happier!

Parshutr 9:59 AM  

Right you are, hydromann. The movie's great last line was "Shoot straight, you bastards!"

No one 10:01 AM  

I seem to have made every mistake mentioned here, except for AGAR, even the misspelling of TEVYE.

Also had MAORI for BOERS. I saw the movie but just remembered the accents, not the locale.

Learned SNOG from J.K. Rowling.

R. Kane 10:03 AM  

Actually known as the "Alphabet Agencies" from the New Deal FDR administration, Wikipedia determines their number to be over forty -- an additional word in the clue is certainly due, e.g., FDR freeze agcy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:New_Deal_agencies

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

For a lovely depression song, this link:

http://books.google.com/books?id=xIX4iNwyan0C&pg=PA187&lpg=PA187&dq=fdr+opa&source=web&ots=7dbh8hn1qs&sig=-H0mqkFIpVRTXvAg9fhiA6o1m4w#PPA187,M1

ArtLvr 10:18 AM  

p.s. I also liked the medical stuff: "pineal" for kind of gland, "uteri" for wombs, "acids" for stomach conents, though I thought "far point" for tje eye's most distant clear image was, uh, far-fetched. And does anybody else retch at neat things and people who used to be called "cool" now universally being called "hot"? Sign of age, I guess.

marcie 10:21 AM  

I absolutely positively refused to give up on WPA, which is the only FDR agency I could recall besides TVA, so even with the L in place I figured the L in lookout had to be wrong somehow.

Am I the only one who put in Blood for the pudding? Somehow that struck me as the only British pudding besides figgy (or Yorkshire... too long) that I'd heard of. Of course I know Pease porridge... but not pease pudding.

I liked the zest/peel cluing, but first had elan, then tried zeal and thought perhaps Tevya was an alternative spelling for Tevye.

now all day I'll be have this going thru my head... brain worm..

At the Copra... Copra Cabana
music and passion
are always in fashion at the
Copra... Copra Cabana..."

macha 10:33 AM  

Finally finished - for some reason had a brain block on LEAVES for the clue "Splits" (especially as I did not know LUCE so CLUCE was entirely plausable) and decided that it must be CLEAVES and that there must be as many Cs missing as were being added - added quite a bit to my time I must say and left me feeling rather stupid (yet again!!). Also thought that I was being really smart putting in PERIOD for AS SOON.

kratsman 10:34 AM  

Nice write-up Rex. This was definitely a tougher-than-normal Thursday. Took me about twice my normal time. Only had a couple write-overs, but it was just slow going.

Had SEETH for a while, misspelled TEVYE, and thought the Enterprise people were ETS.

Liked the juxtaposition of PEASE (singular) and BLINI (plural).

Your NOONE comment is sure to cause confusion. Liked the picture of Mrs. C.

r. kane, check out tinyurl.com for linking tips. Using it, your last link would be http://tinyurl.com/2gmu4j

Rex Parker 10:42 AM  

I'm a bit stunned that people are taking the NOONE comment at all seriously. I thought it would be instantly recognizable as a joke (and a damned good one). Shows what I know.

rp

marcie 10:47 AM  

sheesh am I the only one old enough to have been taught Stephen Foster and "Way down upon the Swanee River, far far away" (whose title is "Old Folks at Home") in grammar/elemetary school? That was the one gimme theme answer for me.

marcie 10:49 AM  

Rex... I for one thought your Noone-no one joke was hilarious, and meant to plead for a *monitor alert* at coffee-time for me. I also thought it was a great clue/answer in the puzzle itself.

sonic 10:53 AM  

Rex, I agree - not at all easy. I had no trouble with the C-words, but the crosses... Sheesh! Good sense of achievement afterwards though.

Love the Anti-Annie!

campesite 10:57 AM  

Toughest Thursday for me in recent memory, and was glad to see Rex's rant on the COPRA/OPA (Oprah?) section.
The Peter Noone joke was humorous, except now I've got two extremely annoying tunes competing for attention in my brain: "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter" v. "I'm Into Something Good." Sorry to pass this same torture to anyone else.

Pinky 11:00 AM  

Doris = thanks for the wolfsbane/snog info

PhillySolver 11:04 AM  

Yikes, started to use Google and then gave up. Made the top half work ok. I had all the across entries but 45A in SW, but didn't know 45D, 46D, 47D, 48D, 49D,50D 43D, 44D and 32D. So looking up that many would just be too much when I could come read the answers from Rex. Thanks! I can't say I hated it, but I think it was very hard for a Thursday. Maybe I needed more rest.

Tried HINT for 1D, ALARMS for 5D, hated 15A as I thought the clue should be "In place" or something.

OKD???? (not ok) I had OKS and that was the beginning of the end. 10D was a lucky guess and I have no idea where the clue comes from (Martian?) 13D started as SAITH for me...still don't recall SEEST, but guess it will come back in a puzzle someday.

Hoping for better tomorrow...good luck to all of you still working on this, my first unfinished puzzle in three weeks.

billnutt 11:06 AM  

This was the roughest Thursday I've had in WEEKS. The NE just killed me, partly because I couldn't think of RAKES, had no clue to KELSO, and had ERETU instead of ERITU for the Verdi aria, which in turn meant that BELIE wasn't coming to me. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

The SW I got exclusively through the across clues. ISERE? OSTAR? LORAN? I'll take your word for it, Jim Leeds.

And kudos to Leeds (or Shortz) for being able to clue ABIE without reference to "_______'s Irish Rose."

BOERS was the first clue I entered. The Boer War will haunt me until my dying day - and someday I'll even tell you why.

Rex, I also had FIGGY for the pudding (come on! Two days after Christmas? What other kind of pudding could it be?). And your NOONE/NO ONE pic really gave me a laugh.

Add my name to the list of people who were able to get SNOG because of Harry Potter.

"The Old Folks at Home" (a.k.a. "Swanee River") figures into one of my favorite bits from THE HONEYMOONERS, a show that I only occasionally enjoy. ("Homina homina homina - Ed Norton?")

And in case I didn't make it clear - Yesterday (Dec. 26) was the lovely Debbie Lockwood and my 18th wedding anniversary.

sjt 11:07 AM  

Am I the only one who doesn't see why 41 across is "Alex"?

PhillySolver 11:10 AM  

sjt,

I get ALEX now, as the host of Jeopardy, but really! I think the contestant would say it that way, but I didn't like it as a clue.

no one 11:17 AM  

Sorry artlvr, but what was"cool" and then "hot" is now "sick", although sick is probably passe by now because I hear it on TV and radio all the time.

Kathy 11:21 AM  

Oy, I really enjoyed this puzzle, after coming to this blog and filling in 2/3s of the answers! For all those who did it easily, my undying respect. Guess I'm on the wrong wavelength this morning.

Amen, Rex, on the odious crossing and the FDR agencies--the only one I can ever remember is TVA; Wendy, you depressed me listing them all! Especially since it might not even be all!

Happy New Year, everyone.

Kathy

ArtLvr 11:21 AM  

Thank you, No One! Retch was most appropriate if everything is now sick. What will they call Benazir Bhutto's assassination today? So sad.

Leon 11:27 AM  

None are so blind as those who will not C. An old adage.

Wolfsbane came easy from too many screenings of The Wolf-Man. Even a man who is pure in heart.....

O-star was interesting to learn as was hebdomadally.

Rex Parker 11:28 AM  

Are you people serious with your "kids these days and their lingo" comments? Every Generation Makes This Same Lament.

And "cool" is still very much in use, I assure you. It hasn't gone anywhere. "Awesome" has amazing legs as well.

rp

dk 11:28 AM  

Wasn't Noone in the Monkees?

Today finds me at the other end of the Mississippi thinking about hasty pudding not Pease. I was saved by my quess of coral exam and then was on a roll (not blini) for all the c clues except copra given that I never heard of OPA.

That said, quoting Taj Mahl from Giant Step: "Remember the feeling as a child when you woke up and morning smiled...." Now I know something new: OPA!

Kathy 11:30 AM  

For those of you with unwelcome songs running through your head, I read on line somewhere that the way to stop it is to sing Sheena Easton's My Baby Takes the Morning Train to yourself for a few minutes.

But perhaps that's worse than the Copra Cabana?! You be the judge...

kratsman 11:31 AM  

Rex, I don't see from the comments that "people are taking the NOONE comment...seriously." I was just making the point that *some* people will be confused by it, (and probably start googling that 3-time Oscar winner, Noone).

wendy 11:44 AM  

dk, no ... Peter Noone was the frontman of Herman's Hermits ... see my 9:54 a.m. comment. Or was that a joke, too? ;) Peter Tork was in the Monkees.

sjt 11:56 AM  

phillysolver - thanks! Now I get it, but really . . .

Wade 12:06 PM  

After 35 minutes I had all but parts of the NE (and I had ANNA instead of ANYA) and threw in the towel. What took me the longest was COILPAINTINGS, because I had the INGS at the end and was convinced the ending had to be SPRINGS (and the plural ending of "Thin pancakes" supported me in the initial S of SPRINGS.) That got me trying to think of an actor named POOLE, which got me to TOOLE (changing SPRINGS to STRINGS now), and trying to figure out if Peter OTOOLE had won three Oscars, etc.) By then I was too worn out to finish the NE. You win, Thursday puzzle.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

I have to take issue with zest=peel. The zest is really only the outermost, colorful part of the peel. The rest of the peel is garbage because it tastes terrible.

Chris

Jim in NYC 12:19 PM  

"Bored with the life of a small-town lawyer, Nixon traveled to Washington, where he worked in Franklin Roosevelt's Office of Price Administration (OPA)...."

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

Sadly, wade, Peter O'Toole is in the category of "great screen performers who never won a best actor oscar." Worst snub of all: Stanwyck.

Eugene 12:29 PM  

Loved NOONE; LOL when I got that answer. Knew LORAN from work on Navigation systems; thought of SONAR at first, but decided it was probably too obvious, was proud of that decision. Had to Google KELSO to finish; I knew them name, but it wouldn't come, and I got nowhere without it.

Karen 12:44 PM  

I pulled COPRA out from the depths of my brain, but was snagged on the TEVNE/ANNA cross. I filled in 'stomach contents' as CHYME, which I thought fit in with this puzzles difficulty level.

My song to chase other songs out of my brain is 'If I Had a Hammer.'. Unless it's sung by Leonard Nimoy and hobbits.

Rafyone 12:49 PM  

the hardest part was figuring out why the pic of marion ross...

(never a happy daze fan)

puzzlemensch 12:56 PM  

Hebdomadally means weekly, not a week or seven days. It's a medical term..."Take these pills hebdomadally."

jae 12:57 PM  

This was a YIKES Thursday for me also. Getting the theme really helped but I was ultimately done in by the "O" in OPA/LOESS crossing having heard of neither and guessing wrong. (For some reason COPRA was vaguely familiar as was KELSO.) Other than that bit of unfairness (IMOO) a tough but interesting puzzle. I suppose I should feel good about only missing this one by one square but, its a Thursday!

Noam D. Elkies 1:00 PM  

FIGGY vs. PEASE: there's also BLOOD, which fortunately was not correct here.

"Hebdomadaire" is pretty common in French. In English, you might have to guess that
"hebd-" is a voiced variant of the familiar "hept-".

Better NOONE than NXONE (I initially had XENO- as the -phile prefix)...

And apropos of prefixes, yes, the COPRA crossing brought to mind some other copr- words :-(
[never mind that this root is Greek whereas "copra" is from Malayalam!]

NDE

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

I am called OPA by my grandson (my wife is OMA). I hope he doesn't call me Office of Price Administration someday.

Rikki 1:19 PM  

Ouch... this one hurt. I knew plenty of answers intantly (Luce, Egon, sixth, wolfsbane, even pineal) but that did not help me with the things I didn't know, and I finally resorted to a few well-placed googles to help me finish. Can't remember the last time I had to google on a thursday. Drat, dang, darn!

I thought pease was a porridge... hot, cold, nine days old. But those pesky Brits call everything pudding, don't they.

No one. That was tricksy. Loran... ??? Two Tritons in one puzzle? Hebdomidally? Can I have lived this long without ever seeing that word? Kelso...nope. Copra... Deepak Copra? Copra Winfrey? Loess? Opa? Ouch! My behind is officially whooped.

For those who love (or hate) opera, I found this amazing database of arias:

http://www.aria-database.com/index2.html

I was steered to Poulenc by my son... lovely, very accessible music. That reminds me of another great database for classical music:

http://www.classical.net

Puzzlemensch... weekly can also be phrased a week, as in twice a week or twice weekly.

On to Friday!

karmasartre 1:20 PM  

Campesite -- to rid yourself of those two songs, I recommend "Henry the VIII".

I knew Alan Seton couldn't be right...I'd made the mistake before but it sticks with me. It's like falling off a bike: once you fall off, it's easy to fall off again.

My time (20 x Orange's) was dramatically effected by doing the puzzle while watching the Kennedy center honors award show. A strange melange of curious, embarrassing, poignant, and moving.

Struggled with LEAVES, SEEST, PEASE (that one fell after I got a Jamie Oliver image), OPA/COPRA (pure guesswork), CAUSA, and didn't know FOB was a verb, just knew the watch thingie.

"Cool", "awesome" theme. And, that's our third oboe since the bummer melancholy one.

Mike P 1:24 PM  

The theme is more complicated than just add C, All of the phrases start with the letter O, an observation which helped me.

I wanted NOLTE but finally got NOONE and couldn't figure it out. I fell for Peter Noone and went to Wikipedia and there was no mention of his three oscars, but there was some interesting garbage at the bottom.

paul in mn 1:41 PM  

Wow, this puzzle whipped me badly. Had to resort to looking up "hebdomadally" as that was completely unfamiliar. (I don't think I'll forget it though.)

I too fell in the alphabet soup of New Deal orgs and missed the OPA/COPRA crossing.

And I must be the only one here that didn't know UGLI crossing LUCE and EGON. I googled UGLIs and I don't recall ever seeing them in the grocery store or elsewhere. Perhaps they have not made their way to Minnesota.

NYTAnonimo 2:39 PM  

Gave up on this puzzle but glad I read this blog-thanks for the classical music link rikki-it's a great resource!

rockonchris 3:20 PM  

I worked in medical administration for over 20 years and have never seen the word hebdomadally. Guessed correctly after getting _week from the crosses. Yuck.

Nevertheless, I liked the puzzle. Probably because of the elation I felt for dredging Copra out of the brain cell where it has resided since 5th grade geography.

Doug 3:51 PM  

Yikes, one of the toughest Thursday's I've ever done. Started before bed last night and thought, "No way I'll finish this one." But today, after about two hours of off and on torture, I had it all except two letters in 56A, _TE_I. Proud I got got that far, even if it did take two hours, but I didn't cheat, I never look anything up unless I've totally given up, as I did finally on UTERI. Thought this was Fri/Sat tough. "hebomadally"?! Give me a break! On a thursday!? I figured it out with crossed and now remember seeing it before.

Rob G. 3:58 PM  

Certainly harder than the average Thursday, but not impossible for me. I seemed to have been on the same wavelength as Mr. Leeds, because as soon as I got CORALEXAMS, I was able to fill in the rest of the theme clues (excluding CONTHELOOKOUT, which is, I'd say, the most clever of the lot) without any crosses, thus making the fill much, much easier.

Didn't love COPRA/LOESS/OPA junction, but got by it quickly enough. And my love for all things musical netted me TEVYE right away.

Now if only I could get these Fiddler/Herman's Hermits mash-ups out of my head...

Can't you hear my heartbeat?
TRADITION! TRADITION! TRADITION!
Who, day and night, must scramble for a living,
Feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers?
I am Henry the eight I am...

*shudder*

wendy 4:22 PM  

rob g - one of the occupational hazards of coming to this blog is the certainty that, on any given day, some song that you weren't expecting to think about will lodge itself front and center in your brain. ;) The odd mash-up just makes it that much more interesting! All things considered, it's a small price to pay. I've been humming "something tells me I'm into something good" myself.

johnson 4:48 PM  

So now I have a new meaning for coprophagia...eating dried coconut meat.

I never heard of loess...how is it pronounced? When is it used?

First Thursday in a while to slaughter me. Well, before Rex, every Thursday slaghtered me, so I could use a little humbling as my first anniversary on this blog approaches.

Here's hoping for a smoother Friday

Rex Parker 4:52 PM  

Johnson-

That "A" in COPRA is really, really important if you want to attach the -phagia suffix. COPRO- (as you know) is a whole other ... matter.

rp

Fergus 5:26 PM  

I've had Blood Pudding for breakfast in Britain, but I would be hesitant to say it passed the proverbial breakfast test. I had a BOLUS in my stomach, then CHYME, then many acids. More test failure.

I was thinking more Retirement Community than Stephen Foster, so got stuck on COLD PEOPLES' HOME, or maybe COLD PERSON'S HOME; and then figured the Slinky clue would have to include SPRINGS somehow, making a real mess of Texas.

Got the PINEAL gland from Descartes' idea that this was where the mind and body crossed. He used to sit in an oven to do his philosophy, by the way. And speaking of French publications, two types are Quotidienne and Hebdomadiare, Daily and Weekly. Don't know what a Monthly is?

I had to leave two spaces, not just one, blank in sullen protest.

Michael 5:34 PM  

I liked this puzzle -- I finished it, but had to think quite a bit. The very last answer I got was con the lookout (with sixth and a week), which is really clever. I didn't understand Alex until I read this blog, even though a friend was just on Jeopardy (not aired yet). Copra was easy for me because of a year along the coast in Belize, where coconuts are everywhere.

Doc John 6:43 PM  

I'm glad I'm not the only one who had trouble today. I thought it was because I've been getting over a stomach bug!

Lots of fun clues in the puzzle but lots of evil, evil nastiness, too. (Pretty much all of which has been delineated.)

Had to Google on a Thursday- I'm afraid of what Friday and Saturday are going to be like.

BTW, the PINEAL gland is where melatonin comes from.

Orange 6:49 PM  

Johnson, just Google a word you're wondering about. If you click "[definition]" in the blue bar above the Google search results, you'll get a page like this—dictionary definition with pronunciation, the relevant Wikipedia article, and more.

Paul in MN, the UGLI shows up in more crossword puzzles than grocery stores. Remember it!

Karmasartre, Alan Paton probably inserted himself into the Anya Seton niche in your brain.

Thanks to Marcie for "Copra Cabana." Made me laugh!

Clueless 7:39 PM  

Who is the woman in the photograph at the first paragraph, and why is she presented?

R. Kane 7:47 PM  

kratsman said...

r. kane, check out tinyurl.com for linking tips. Using it, your last link would be http://tinyurl.com/2gmu4j

R. Kane asks: More at point, how does one make a link from the Comment section?

Rex Parker 8:06 PM  

Ooh, I got this one.

r. kane:

Please See:

"Frequently Asked Questions" - high up on my sidebar (third red heading).

rp

no one 8:43 PM  

r. kane,

...and after reading the FAQ by Rex: the easiest way to do it is to type the framework and copy and paste the url between the quotation marks (ctrl-c copy, ctrl-v paste or insert)

paul in mn 8:46 PM  

Orange: Thanks for the tip on UGLI. I don't think I'll quickly forget it.

green mantis 12:01 AM  

I fell into the same avenue of thought as you, Fergus, when I wanted Old Folks' Home and then something with springs for the slinkies...slinkys...whatever.

But mostly I wanted to say, I get a weird nerd thrill out of knowing I wasn't alone in wanting agar for cultural stuff. I just, I don't know...it warms my heart for some reason to know there are others out there in the cold cold world who would have this association occur to them. Sniff.

Anonymous 12:06 AM  

suprised that both you and Orange are not familiar w/ one of Stephen Foster's most famous tunes.

Orange 12:53 AM  

I'm sort of a late-20th-century music fan, Anonymous. Songs from the 1850s that use the word "darkies"? Not so much. I don't know where I would've learned the song. We didn't have it in grade-school music, that's for sure.

Doc John 1:35 AM  

Another way to google word definitions is to enter (without the quotes) "define: word" in the google search box.

There's other secret google shortcuts such as:
currency exchange: "150 dollars in pounds"
metric conversion: "150 inches in meters"

Google features

R. Kane 4:37 AM  

Thank you.

Nick and Peggy 1:24 PM  

We also (against my better judgement) had Figgy.

Then again, I wanted bread.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

52 A: PREFIX with -phile.

The ony 4 letter prefix I thought of was pedo.

I've never heasrd of oenophile, what does that mean?

Yancy 1:46 PM  

Loess is found in only two spots on Earth. In China and in an area north of Sioux City, Iowa. A superfine volcanic silt. Make me feel special since I lived close to the SDakota and Iowa site.
I get the puzzle two weeks later than you folks, so doubt if anyone will see this comment

Anonymous 4:29 PM  

CAlady said:
This is a puzzle where being around for a while paid off. A lot of the words (copra, loess, Kelso, etc.) are familiar from puzzleland. Others from the "real" world. Anyone who lived during WW2 will remember OPA. Luce? Also a gimme to my generation. These types of clues made this puzzle a relative breeze-once I realized agar was not what I needed. But take consolation-all those music references (except Old Folks at Home) go right past me!!

Martin 7:00 PM  

Yeah, this was a toughie, no doubt. More of a Friday to me. I kinda have a gripe with NO ONE (the Oscar clue).

impjb 11:41 PM  

Clueless,

The picture at the top is of Marion Ross. As to why she's there, my only guess is that she was "Mrs. C" on Happy Days.

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