SATURDAY, Jan. 5, 2008 - Paula Gamache

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Short write-up today - got up late, have many things to do.

Did this sitting up in bed last night, and it all came very smoothly. The last place to fall was the SW, where SILICA GEL (30D: Common desiccant) took some time to come into view, and that first "L" was a bit of a prayer, in that the cross, Jon KYL (36A: Arizona senator Jon), was entirely unknown to me. I've seen EL CAPITAN and TEACHER'S PET in puzzles before, but much of the rest of this puzzle felt fun and fresh. Best New Entry of the Day goes to SKINNY BITCH (1A: Saucily titled best-selling diet book), which I'm still amazed passed the "breakfast test" and made it into the puzzle. Awesome. Love that it's sitting atop the (to me) mystifying IL TROVATORE (15A: It's featured in "A Night at the Opera"). I see now that "IL TROVATORE" is in fact the "Opera" in "A Night at the Opera" - it's a Verdi opera and translates as "The Troubadour." Interesting that a Verdi answer crosses ITALO (3D: _____ disco (European dance music)). Good stuff. I'm also a big fan of LAKE TAHOE (28D: Where Fredo Corleone gets shot) next to OXYMORONS (29D: Passive-aggressive and the like) - nicely proximate K, Y, and X there. TAHOE got snowed under by a rare super blizzard last night, so this answer is unexpectedly timely. In the SE, I like NASTY on top of ACUTE - sounds like a terrible medical problem - from NASTY HABITS (51A: They really ought to be kicked) and ACUTE ACCENT (55A: Sign of stress?). Not sure what it means that both NASTY and ACUTE intersect the CACA part of TITICACA (34D: Body found high in the Andes).

Looked over the puzzle and nothing jumped out at me until I saw the long gimme SALINAS (37D: Steinbeck's birthplace). That's the one fact you learn about Steinbeck after you learn his more famous novel titles. My parents live very close to Steinbeck country, and I'd visited there many times growing up, so easy. Then SIREE (37A: Yes or no follower) came easily off of that, and then BEREA (31D: Kentucky college) - which I've seen on back-to-back days now, strangely - and I was off.

Highlights:

  • 16A: Tickled user's response (LOL) - this is becoming crosswordese, though I am impressed at the ongoing battle to clue it in interesting ways. I like this clue.
  • 19A: 3,280.84 ft. (Kil.) - goes nicely with 36A: KYL (see above)
  • 27A: Enamel strengthener (fluoride) - aah, tooth enamel. I was thinking of fingernails, for some reason.
  • 31A: Slip fillers (boats) - not sure I understand this. Are "BOATS" feet and "slips" slippers?
  • 41A: John of Lancaster (loo) - I never tire of the tricky LOO clues.
  • 42A: Ben Jonson poem ("To Celia") - second time I've seen it in the past year. I teach it regularly, so ... no problem.
  • 43A: N.F.L. salary limit (hard cap) - I watch ESPN every morning (as my wife will tell you, balefully) and yet this did not come readily. I recognize the phrase, but is it really singular, unique to the N.F.L., such that it would not require an "e.g." after the clue?
  • 49A: Peggy of "The Dukes of Hazzard" (Rea) - I do love how willing the puzzle is to go to "The Dukes of Hazzard" and its various spin-offs (or its one spin-off that I know of, "Enos"). I did not know this answer.
  • 1D: University of Alaska Southeast campus site (Sitka) - winner of the "Alaskan Town That Most Sounds Like a Dog's Name" award.
  • 4D: Reactor overseer: Abbr. (NRC) - I really really dislike three-letter abbreviations, mainly because there are an infinite number and I can't keep them straight. This one came to me instantly. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Weird.
  • 6D: 1884 short story by Guy de Maupassant ("Yvette") - good example of how you can solve a Saturday puzzle without knowing a Lot of stuff. Completely unknown to me, but when it starts with "YV," really, what else is it going to be?
  • 11A: They're straight (heteros) - crossing SKINNY BITCH. Why this fact pleases me, I'm not quite sure. I'm sure colloquialism has something to do with it.
  • 43D: Governor who helped found Ohio State University (Hayes) - had the -YES and just guessed. And, if college football players are correct (and when aren't they?), it's "THE Ohio State University."
  • 48A: Suffix with super (-ette) - honestly have no idea what this is. Wikipedia says: It is a compact food market related to "the New Zealand dairy," which my wife tells me is just like a corner store: candy, milk. Like a gas station mart, but with more groceries.
  • 53D: Dating letters (B.C.E.) - "Before the Common Era." I was well into my 20's before I ever saw this politically correct term for "B.C." What's worse, I was a graduate student, and I'm pretty sure an undergraduate had to explain it to me. Ouch.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Today's other crosswords:
  • LAT [untimed] (C) - Ed Early, themeless
  • CS 4:36 (C) - Nancy Salomon, ["Reptiles"]
  • Univ 7:10 (P) - Carol LaChance, "Tongue Twister"
  • Newsday [untimed] (C) - RECOMMENDED: Anna Stiga (aka Stanley Newman), themeless

PS Emily Cureton now has her own blog for featuring her daily crossword drawings. I will, however, continue to post the drawings here for the foreseeable future.

[drawing by Emily Cureton]

64 comments:

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

TITICACA, ACCA? Ha!

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

49 Across --REA not LEA? Dukes of Hazzard

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

49 A Proofreader must have caught the error, it was just changed.

Rex Parker 9:32 AM  

Yes, "A Proofreader" = frequent commenter Wendy. Sorry about that. Trust the grid, not me.

rp

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

boats are docked in slips in the harbor. Or else moored, not in a slip.

jannieb 9:37 AM  

Had fun with this - never had to google which always feels good on a Saturday, even tho I got a lot of clues from the crosses (Yvette, Kyl). As always, the NW corner gave me fits. I kept wanting Kil to be KII (K2) although I've never seen it printed that way. And add a big doh for Il Trovatore being the featured opera. Got the answer but never understood the clue. We have a boat that we keep in a slip and that clue still took me way too much time. Oh well. Happy weekend!

proofreader wendy 9:43 AM  

Fab Fill all around, not that I could get much of it on my own. Hell, I didn't even know which governor helped found THE Ohio State University, and I'm an alumna!

I'll bite; what is REB, for No Yankee Fan? I thought it was 'Rex' initially, but that seemed a long shot. However, I'd have thought SKINNY BITCH was beyond the pale too.

I was proud of Buzzcut for the hairdo, but that turned out to be half wrong. Those zz's weren't panning out at all.

I do have an ITSY nit on HOOD, which should be 'The' HOOD. It never stands on its own.

And I don't hear the designers who work at my firm call internet graphics WEB ART, but whatever. Seems forced.

checker555 9:51 AM  

proofreader wendy--if you think "civil war" it's a little more clear. My first instinct was baseball, but then I had my "aha" moment.

wendy 9:54 AM  

Oh that was so far away from where my head was at, I can't believe it. Thanks, checker555!

kratsman 10:14 AM  

I think BCE is taken to mean Before the Common Era. That is what makes it "politically correct."

SuperETTE--made no sense to me.

For the Ohio governor...know there are about 8 presidents from Ohio, so figured it had to be one of them. Was stuck on Grant, tho.

With you completely on YVETTE...unknown, but what else could it be after having the Y?

HARD CAP...Don't think I've ever that combo. Had CAP, but couldn't figure out the first part.

SLIPS are "parking places/berths" for boats in marinas.

For Enamel strengthener, I initially had vitamin(blank)...took a while to straighten that out.

SALINAS was a gimme, having lived there for a year. As was LAKE TAHOE, having seen that movie at least a dozen times.

SKINNY BITCH was completely new to me, but a great entry, I agree.

All in all, a somewhat easy Saturday, but definitely a lot of fun.

PhillySolver 10:19 AM  

LOF Lots of Fun! I really liked the entire puzzle today. Loo clue was new to me and ACUTEACCENT was neat. Don't know why I always try to put an extra A in IL TROVATORE and had savedtheday before I saw the HAYES answer.32A TOA wouldn't come at all and got in by the down words.

I haven't looked it up but I have in my head that BCE stands for 'Before The Common Era'

Any puzzle with a wine reference is good for me Haut Brion is a very fine wine btw.

Is Emily getting funnier or what? I have really enjoyed this week of "webart".

PhillySolver 10:26 AM  

"The name Superette is derived from Supermarket, compounded with the suffix "ette" meaning "smaller version of"."

From Wikipedia.

Ette came easily to me because I know any word that has Es and Ts is the first guess you should make in a crossword.

Jim in NYC 10:26 AM  

Seems like I've always seen little grocery etc. shops called "superettes" so that one was a gimme. Maybe it's regional or something.

"Kil", "kyl" "cul" and "loo", however, were cause for pause.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

In French there are two accents over the letter "e"-- one is the acute accent as in clue 55A.

Karen 10:40 AM  

I've never seen kilometer abbeviated as kil.; I thought KM was the only abbreviation, since what would distinguish it from kilowatt and kilogram? Has anyone else seen kil.?

And thank you Anna KLEIN for breaking me into the NW section.

joaneee 10:48 AM  

I have a NASTY HABIT of spelling FLUORIDE incorrectly.

jls 10:50 AM  

no point gettin' all steamed about "skinnybitch," given this nyt article (and get a load of the sequel's title!):

now it's for breakfast

it's all in the timing (and the context...)

;-)

janie

paul in mn 11:04 AM  

Fun puzzle today. Good to not get kicked to the ground like last Saturday.

SW corner was the last to fall as I've only seen Godfather II once and I just never saw the obvious answer of OXYMORONS for 29D.

Stared at the NW a bit and had trouble trusting myself that BITCH was in the puzzle. I guess the NYT puzzle isn't just for breakfast anymore.

Initially had SBA (Susan B. Anthony) for 26A. I guess I'm too young to remember a dollar coin before that.

Judgesully 11:07 AM  

How cool is "loo" as the answer. I was determined to fit in a Shakespearean character from Henry IV or V (or something like that). Two "tarns" in one puzzle? How clever! All we needed were two "tors" to cover the mountain geography gamut. Easiest Sat. puzzle in weeks or months. Made me feel like Ken Jennings or somebody smart!

marcie 11:23 AM  

I really enjoyed this one!

Lake Tahoe has been in the news, and I live in Steinbeck country, so those were gimmes.

Once I got the "skinny" I wanted "bones" or "bites" (made sense, since it is a diet book? never heard of the actual book)... LOL'ed when bitch turned up!

Loved the John of Lancaster... didn't another puzzle feature "Elton's john" in the last few days? Was also happy to see "acute accent" and not "wrinkles" or "gray hair" as stress signs!

Silicagel took me forever, as "common dessicant" all I could think of was alum or styptic, and when I had "....cagel", it didn't look like any word I'd ever heard, common or otherwise. The crosses were no help at that point.

Color me "duh" but I still don't quite get the arabic answer for 47A.

Someday soon I will learn to spell both fluoride and gauge correctly the first time thru.

Blue Stater 11:24 AM  

In the only relevant language I know anything about, French, an ACUTEACCENT is not a "sign of stress?" but an indicator of vowel quality. What about Spanish? I think maybe the accent does shift stress from what it would be otherwise in, say, Málaga. And I agree, Karen, about KIL. I've never ever seen "kilometer" abbreviated that way; always KM.

I've preserved my three- or four-week record of getting thumped on Saturday. On this one I hung on for far too long to STKITTS instead of STBARTS, and had no clue about most what remained in the NW (and still don't: ITALODISCO? YVETTE? Sheesh).

Jim in NYC 11:27 AM  

http://books.google.com/books?id=DvUOAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA350&lpg=PA350&dq=kil+kilogram&source=web&ots=26uhp4c_PV&sig=JnKQ0qZZFUhWgsVtX0t8lpAexxw

Well, now, I've never seen "kil." either, but here's a page from an 1880 textbook that uses it.

Rex Parker 11:29 AM  

Ugh, yes, B.C.E = Before the Common Era. This is what happens when I type quickly / mindlessly. Sorry, folks. I'd tell you it won't happen again, but ... I'd be lying.

rp

Jim in NYC 11:29 AM  

Note-- That book uses "kil." to abbreviate kilogram, not kilometer.

Mo 11:40 AM  

Elation...my first time to finish a saturday puzzle with no googling (even if my 38:14 time isn't going to win any tournaments). Of course many of you rank it as an "easy" one, but still...NW was last to fall for me as well, took a long time to think of SITKA, even after putting in KIL (and I agree, this is not the abbreviation for kilometer). For some reason I had CHAKA for a while. I'm an NFL fan, and I've never heard the salary cap referred to as HARD CAP. And I also started out with FLOURIDE instead of FLUORIDE.

Rex, let me add me thanks to those of others who have expressed enjoyment in reading your blog. I'm also a college prof...have done the Sunday NTY for some time, but avoided the Friday and Saturday until recently. Look forward now every day to your take on the NYT, though I'm amazed you have the time, especially once the semester begins, to do the puzzle AND blog about it. Cheers and all the best.

paul in mn 11:41 AM  

@marcie... Our standard numerals (0 and 1-9) are known as ARABIC numberals as opposed to Roman numerals (I, V, X, ....)

Leon 11:45 AM  

Scraper above fluoride is pretty neat.

For Simpson fans -two barts in the answers.

The Jimh blog points out that this is the first use of bitch in NYT. This after reefer and hashish, the times, they are a-changin'.

Rex Parker 11:47 AM  

@Mo- thanks for the kind words. But as for whether you're going to win any tournaments, I can't stress this enough - NONE OF US ARE. Well, there are maybe 30-50 people out there with a chance of being on that stage in some fashion at the end, but the Vast majority of us enter the tournament Just For Fun. Fun, people. If you can do a Saturday puzzle at all, you Definitely have enough mojo to enjoy the tournament. And if you read this blog and live in the greater NYC area, you really have no reason not to go.

rp

Mo 11:52 AM  

Thanks Rex...I'd love to go to Brooklyn, but I'm in Indiana (home of Will Shortz) and probably won't be able to make it this year, but I'll be playing along online. I wonder how many will participate that way as compared to trekking to Brooklyn?

marcie 11:56 AM  

thanks, Paul... (head slapping DOH!)

add me to the anti-kils. I even erased the gimme Klein when I saw the clue, for a bit until it just HAD to be.

*The* OSU alumnus (mm) 12:20 PM  

From Wikipedia: "In 1878, and in light of its expanded focus, the college permanently changed its name to the now-familiar 'The Ohio State University' (with the article 'The' as part of its official name)"

I had no idea the "The" was used so long ago.

Jerry20020 12:38 PM  

I wonder if many don't now feel that they have to post a time on the Play Against ... list BEFORE Rex publishes or - if their time is a good one - be potentially thought of as having gone beyond Googling and RexParkered the answers.
I'd like to go to the ACPT but wonder if going alone for the first time and knowing nobody wouldn't present a variety of difficulties/awkward situations.

Greg 12:45 PM  

Ok, I have only recently started reading this blog and I DO live in Brooklyn, so will someone tell me where this tournament is of which we are speaking? I agree, that living in NYC I have NO reason not to go, and I think I would have a blast there! For anyone who recalls, there was a great New Yorker article several years ago about a man who trekked to a puzzlers convention in CT to meet one of the oldest crossword creators, who had begun a relationship with one of the ex-editors of the NYT puzzle - the editor was shocked to learn that at the time of their very cerebral exchanges, the creator was only 15 or some such age.
I also recall that the author was confronted by a puzzler at the convention (not just crosswords) who (to Rex's point about none of us winning at such events) said to the author (and this is dated) - "Do you know how happy we are that Britney Spears is now the spokeswoman for Pepsi Cola? You see, Britney Spears is an anagram for Presbyterians and Pepsi Cola is an anagram for Episcopal! Now I know one is plural and one is singular, but it's really close!"
I was fascinated by this article, and anyone who knows what issue it came from I would really love to get a copy of it again!
Thanks,
Greg

karmasartre 12:50 PM  

THE Hood. It's been a while since we had the THE Ohio State University discussion in these comments. Why is the abbreviation for the school name OSU rather than TOSU?

I blew the Tennessee area. I had "Lil" instead of LOO thinking of a Robin Hood character. The only itsy argument to defend this feeble answer is that the right answer crosses HOOD (?). Had _AYES, and was running the alphabet for the first letter of the governor and skipped over H, thinking if it had been the same name as the famous TOSU football coach who took a swing at an opposing player from the sideline, I would have heard of it.

Gauge, fluoride, fluorescent -- I can misspell any of these at will.

When Tom and Katie (pardon the grocery line tabloid reference) agree with their daughter, do they say "Yes, Siree"?

I don't remember doing a Gamache puzzle before; I definitely enjoyed this one.

jae 12:51 PM  

Pretty easy for a Sat. but very enjoyable. Add me to the list of fluoride misspellers which was the only thing that caused me to pause on this one (CREWCOT??). I needed my wife's help with the opera name as I initially had INSY for ITSY.

Growing up in Ohio finally paid off as HAYES was a gimme as was the near by BEREA College.

Also gimmies were LAKETAHOE, TITICACA, and ELCAPITAN so this was very smooth compared to last week.

My intro to BCE was going to the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit here in San Diego a few months back where it was all over the place. I think it was explained in a video presentation.

Alex 12:51 PM  

Confused my Corleone brothers and initially had TOLLBOOTH instead of LAKE TAHOE. Quickly fixed however.

In a very weird bit of coincidence, if you look at the Wiki page for A Night at the Opera, it includes a long quote from Danel Griffin of "The University of Alaska Southeast." SITKA was a gimme because there are only three largish towns in SE Alaska I can name and it is the only one that is five letters (Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka), plus there was a girl I knew in college named Sitka.

Greg 12:52 PM  

Oh the shame... Am I honestly starting to blog in a pleasant manner with Buckeye fans? What would my Wolverine breathren say?
*sigh*
Greg

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Hi Rex,
Appreciated your blog as usual, but you did the puzzle last NICE??
Where'd that proofreader go???? LOL

ArtLvr 1:08 PM  

I got a late start, didn't find it all that easy but finally finished without a google. Had REB early for 40D - "no Yankee fan" (think Civil War), so with that B it was hard to give up "number" for ARABIC - good clues!

Also liked 55A - sign of stress, sign being an actual mark and stress meaning emphasis: an e without a stress mark in French can be mute or nearly so: e.g. élève vs élevé (student vs raised).

I have to admit to a super-PC understanding of BCE for quite a while, because of a regional pronunciation the first time I heard it: sounded like "Before the Common Error". Atheist viewpoint?

GK 1:13 PM  

Greg, a friendly hello from a Buckeye! I've passed this historical marker countless times. If you squint you can read about Rutherford Hayes's role in establishing the (yes, the) Ohio A&M College.

Rex, over the holidays I had to go without the NY Times and without the online puzzles. I could have read your commentaries but of course they only make sense after grappling with the puzzles. It's wonderful to be back home, but I feel a bit rusty. And I could just kick myself that I had to finally Google to get the SE, because my brain wouldn't wake up to the "John of Lancaster" pun.

I know you hate opera, but if you ever want to give it a try a Trovatore highlights album would be a good start. Whatever you do, however, don't attempt to fathom the plot. I guess that makes it appropriate for a Marx Brothers movie. If I remember correctly, they fool the conductor by inserting "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" into the conductor's score. He must be one hell of a conductor, because when he turns the page the entire orchestra launches into the song, LOL.

Rex Parker 1:16 PM  

@GK-

I'm afraid to give opera a real shot, because I just started giving musical theater a "real shot" and I have a song stuck in my head So Bad that I don't know what to do. It's like a disease. It's Jerry Herman's "I Won't Send Roses," from the musical "Mack & Mabel." I'm going to listen to Abba's "Waterloo" and see if that helps.

rp

Orange 1:42 PM  

Jerry, you do know people who'll be at the tournament. Only online, sure, but once you've met them in person, they're real-life acquaintances.

Greg, the tournament website is here. The registration form isn't posted yet, but you can reserve your Marriott room and make your travel plans. There are online and at-home solving options for those who can't make it to Brooklyn next month—I did the at-home version in '04 and got a good idea of how I'd do at the tournament the next year.

The New Yorker article Greg mentioned is probably this one about Henry Hook.

wendy 1:44 PM  

Oh Rex - that's bound to help! ;)

I just checked my 1974 diploma and damned if it doesn't say THE Ohio State University on it. I always thought this was a later add-on because OSU was tired of being confused with Ohio University in Athens.

ArtLvr 1:45 PM  

p.s. talk about PC and NY newspapers -- Roy Morris, Jr., in his 2003 book "Fraud of the Century: Rutherford B Hayes, Samuel Tilden, and the Stolen Election of 1876", says Hayes "was called 'His Fraudulency' or 'Ruther-fraud B. Hayes'...The New York Sun, which was a Democratic newspaper, habitually when they ran his photograph after he was president, would print the word 'fraud' across his forehead." Those were the days, no beating around the bush!

rglick64 1:45 PM  

This is only my second Saturday solving with no Googles, so yay!

Regarding hard cap, I don't think you need an e.g. because the NFL is the only major sport that has it. The NBA has about 37 exceptions to their cap, MLB has no cap, and even though I too watch ESPN every day, I'm not even sure if the NHL still plays, much less what their salary structure is.

mac 2:15 PM  

Nice Saturday puzzle - just agonized over a couple of short ones. Agree with the kil / km discussion. I tried to put in hire cap, don't know anything about sports finances. I also read the article about the new "Skinny Bitch in the Kitch"! Re the tournament, all I need to do is cross that bridge.....

Greg 2:19 PM  

Orange,
thank you oh so much, not only for the registration (I am 4 blocks from the Marriott, so this will be great!) but also for finding me that article about Henry Hook - this is indeed the article of which I was thinking, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read it again!
Much appreciated!
Greg

Michael 4:30 PM  

A nice Saturday -- challenging, but quite possible. I wrote in Sitka because I am reading a Michael Chabon novel set in a mythical densely populated Sitka. But I didn't trust this answer and got the NW last -- partly because I was cautious about writing in "bitch" even though the name of that diet book was lodged in a distant part of my brain. (I kept trying "something beach.")

Fergus 4:35 PM  

The treasure hunts around Manhattan still linger in my mind from when that article first came out -- back when I didn't take any notice of whose byline appeared with the daily puzzle. Ever since regularly checking out this blog, however, I've come to appreciate much more the styles of construction among the authors.

Without electricity for over 24 hours, but managing to find the NYTimes and struggle through two good puzzles that required diligent revisitation. In a way, I didn't really want to fill in the last few squares, because I was enjoying the abstract cascade of letters.

Today's bully's Target was an excellent Clue -- there were so many possibilities, THE NERDY ONE, THE SMART KID, etc. That corner was the toughest even though I'm a fan of both the Marx Brothers and Maupassant. Stuck in that region as well, by 'knowing' that SBA was on the dollar coin. Chucking Susan B. Anthony (who upon reflection was engraved in the 80s?), and installing Eisenhower loosened the logjam, and everything sadly fell into place.

Cheered by the return of electricity also, since I think it's about time for some NFL.

billnutt 5:14 PM  

This one beat me up, but not as badly as last Saturday's.

John of Lancaster - argh! Now I get it. I initially though it might be something for John WOO.

The SW was the last to fall. It didn't help that I had NO CLUE as the Kentucky college, assumed it was BEREN and consequently assumed that the Ben Jonson poem was "TAMELIN."

Had to google KYL. I hang my head in semi-shame. (THe "semi" is because it was the ONLY google I had to do, after an initial feeling I'd have to google a LOT.)

Time to rest for a bit and then hit Sunday.

Jerry20020 7:38 PM  

'Kil' for kilometer is a stretch.
The military, and likely others as well, use the term 'click' (klick?), though.
Orange - thanks for the encouraging words. I would like to finally meet people who share my enthusiasm for crossword and other puzzles. In truth, I have never yet met any!

Fergus 8:03 PM  

... on further thought, KIL was the shabbiest entry in a long time. HARD CAP was sort of shoddy too, so I find this puzzle lacking in the brilliance that I thought I saw earlier. Still, within the grid there were so many entertaining combinations, like Nasty habits saving the day in an oddly appropriate OXYMORON.

Doc Loo 8:47 PM  

Even though this puzzle took me all afternoon, off and on, I thought it was an easy one and I kept telling myself that as I struggled to figure out answers that I knew that I knew!

Biggest "Duh" moment- when I came up with EL CAPITAN. I kept trying to think of more esoteric names and finally got enough crosses to figure it out. Interestingly enough, there's also an El Capitan outside of my town, San Diego.

Second biggest "Duh" moment- putting in SBE (and thinking I was so smart) instead of DDE. Great cluing for the DDE fill, though!

Third biggest "Duh" moment- forgetting to change the A in IL TRAVATORE to an O when I got the NO HANDS answer. So even though I got it all right in my head, I didn't on paper (and no googling, either!)

Lots of fun cluing but had to pull BEREA out of the far reaches of my mind. (Who else could that poem have been TO, anyway, CELIE?)

Add me to the list of KIL haters. WEB ART, while forced, is a term used by AOL.

Interestingly enough it was the 3-letter fills that got me. Had MET for REB for quite a long time, even though I came up with EMIRATES but didn't fill it in.

Never thought I'd see a ham on a horse, Emily!

rick 8:52 PM  

I don't know which is correct but I prefer A CUTE ACCENT and assume it is french.

BCE, I think, started out as "Before the Christian Era" and got even more PC by changing it to "Common".

Fergus 9:00 PM  

If the C were for Cynical, I wonder when that era would be said to have begun?

Anonymous 9:19 PM  

Enjoyed the NYorker article Amy-thanks.Got a kick out of the following quote from it:
The Times edits its puzzles to get harder as the week progresses: an average solver will do the Monday puzzle in an hour or so, the Wednesday in two hours, and fling the Saturday puzzle across the room in a fit of impotent fury.
I was certainly ready to fling my paper last Saturday!

wendy 9:27 PM  

I noted this the last time we were scrutinizing this article, but I'm still amazed by it - who would need to take AN HOUR OR SO to do the Monday puzzle? If that's all the "average solver" is capable of, then I'm proud to pronounce myself above average. Saturday's characterization is more in line with my reality.

Orange 9:28 PM  

Fergus, you are on crack. OPA and LICEY were far crappier/more questionable fill than KIL, which at least you can make sense out of with the crossings.

Jerry, a great many ACPT attendees report feeling like they are among their "tribe" there, surrounded by people who share an enthusiasm and pastime. You'll dig it.

Fergus 9:53 PM  

Ms. Orange, while once I did smoke crack with a dealing pimp, in a strange interaction with the underworld, I also went up to Mt. Palomar and practiced TELESCOPY.

Dan 10:11 PM  

I'm afraid to time myself on Friday and Saturday, because I can't always finish, but yesterday's and today's didn't hurt too badly. Of course, they're below-average difficulty...

I did eventually have to cheat in the NW, because of freakin' KIL and the first three Downs, which were totally foreign to me. When I had ---NN-BITCH, I was searching for some type of pasta that would fit, thanks to the "saucy" clue. Penne Bitch? Rotini Bitch?

You made the right call, Rex: musical theater is much more fun than opera. Though it may be less useful for crosswords, because all the opera fill is in a foreign language! Anyway, as soon as possible, move away from the pedestrian Jerry Herman shows and get yourself some nice meaty Sondheim... (Sweeney pun intentional)

Hobbyist 3:41 PM  

Orange, thanks for the link to the Henry hook piece. I'm working up the nerve to go to the tournament.

Orange 8:26 PM  

@dan: Rotini Bitch! I love that.

Eric 8:49 PM  

A slip is basically a parking space in a marina--a place to moor your boat. The Governor Hayes of Ohio was later a forgetable President of the U.S.: Rutherford B.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

"Kil" CAN be an abbreviation for "kilometer", unfortunately it can also be the abbreviation for all the other thousands of measurements that require the base unit to be multiplied by 1,000....

So not such a good clue, but not so hard to get, either...

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