THURSDAY, Feb. 7, 2008 - Kenneth Berniker (HOLE-PUNCHING TOOL FOR A SLATER)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "No Fly Zone" (34D: Restricted space ... or a hint to the answers to the six starred clues) - starred clues indicate familiar phrases containing "FLY," though "FLY" is omitted when the phrase is written into the grid.

I'm indifferent to this theme, but I liked the puzzle a lot. I think the theme was a bit bland, and once you caught on, the puzzle got a lot easier to do - there aren't that many familiar phrases containing "FLY," after all (are there?). The concept is clever, but in the execution, and in the clues, there's no humor, no zip, no zing. Just ... missing FLYs. That said, the rest of the grid was largely fresh and exciting. There was some under-stated, often one-word, cluing that really added to the difficulty level in places. And there's at least one word in the grid I'm convinced was invented by Dr. Seuss - if you thought ADZ was a crazy-looking tool name, check out ZAX (58D: Hole-punching tool for a slater)!? My question - what's a "slater?" (Aside from a hilarious character on "Saved By the Bell," of course). "Aargh, I've been ZAXED!" (that's a word I just coined - it means "run through with a ZAX"). The last entry in Dr. Seuss's ABC is ZIZZER ZAZZER ZUZZ. That was an answer in a Sun puzzle once. But I digress.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: *Hairy-leaved plant (Venus trap)
  • 24A: *Fighter at 112 pounds or less (weight boxer)
  • 37A: *Classic comical restaurant complaint (there's a in my soup)
  • 45A: *Umpire's invocation after a pop-up, perhaps (infield rule)
  • 58A: *Advice to a careless dresser, maybe (zip up your)
  • 3D: *Unreliable sort (by-nighter)

The NW was, by far, the hardest part of this puzzle for me. Wanted BLACK for SABLE (1A: Jet). Wanted CHINA for ARYAN (14A: Indo-_____). Had no idea what to do with 1D: Penny _____ (Saver). LANE? ANTE? CANDY!? MARSHALL!? Weirdly - very weirdly - the first answer I *knew* in this corner was LAUD (4D: Write an ode to). I tested (and confirmed) the "D" against 20A: English author Blyton (Enid), which should be a gimme for you, if not now, then in the future. ENID is more often a city in Oklahoma, but Ms. Blyton shows up a lot. Oh, also @#$#ing me up in this corner was ENS (5D: Wearer of a half-inch stripe: Abbr.) - though to my credit, ENS was at least on my short list of possible entires there - and RAG (23A: Bootblack's need), where I had TAR (!?). This was the corner with a lot of one-word clues - Jet, Indo, Penny, and then 2A: Bowl (arena). I was slightly proud of how quickly I uncovered that last one.

The coolest corner in this grid, by far, is the NE. First, who knew that Spam was flavored!? 16A: Spam flavorer (clove). Second, I love the X-fest, and I especially love that all the "X" answers are original, sometimes insanely so. REMIX (19A: Many a dance club tune) came easily, as my best friend is a record collector and surely has thousands of such recordings in his special temperature-controlled vault. Then there's the equally modern and saucy E-VITE (12D: Web-based way to announce a party). I've received more than one of these in my lifetime, so this wasn't hard. Then there was LOMAX (11D: Bluesman Willie). I don't know why I know his name. I wrote it in on a lark, and it was right. Love when that happens. Then, lastly, there was an "X" word to rival ZAX in its preposterousness: SEXER (13D: Gender determiner, as on a chicken farm) - oh, as on a chicken farm. Now, I see. Thanks for clarifying. I was thinking of all those other kinds of SEXERs out there, like, I don't know, Color Me Badd and Young MC:

A chick walks by and you wish you could SEX 'ER
But you're standin' on the wall like you was Poindexter.

I had CLERIC for CURATE (22A: Parish V.I.P.). Glad to have the easy SCRUBS (9D: O.R. attire) to get into this corner. I have never, ever seen C TEAM (22D: Third-stringers), but it was easy enough to guess.

Bullets:

  • 29A: Not still (astir) - vexing, first because I thought "still" was an adverb, and then because ASTIR feels like it's from the 19th century - thus not a word that leaps to mind.
  • 31A: Seaver once called it home (Shea) - final ball game there will be September 28, 2008, against the Florida Marlins. I have a Seaver T-shirt that I got at the Hall of Fame. Tom Seaver is from my home town.
  • 40A: Fictional governess (Eyre) - you know, I should probably read this someday...
  • 41A: S.O.S., in essence (plea) - yeah, I guess...
  • 44A: Singer Jacques (Brel) - hadn't seen this in a puzzle 'til yesterday, and then whoomp, there it is.
  • 51A: Time period for a C.F.O. (ytd) - one of those financial abbreviations (year-to-date) that you just pick up solving puzzles, if you didn't know it already.
  • 57A: Traditional spy wear (cloak) - iconic, maybe; fictional, probably; "traditional?"
  • 60A: Former N.B.A. star Danny (Ainge) - he's got a good puzzle name, and comes up from time to time.
  • 63A: Occasion to sing "Dayenu" (seder) - I guessed this as soon as I looked at the clue, though I've never heard of it. Weird how that happens. Maybe it's because SEDER is one of those occasions that shows up a lot in puzzles - common letters, unusual combination.
  • 65A: They're found around a neck (frets) - wanted ASCOTS, just 'cause I like thinking about Fred from "Scooby-Doo" and other TV fops.
  • 6D: Decorated, on menus (garni) - Got this off the "G," woo hoo. It's pretty ugly, as menu words go.
  • 7D: Tropical tree-dweller (orang) - I don't think I'd seen ORANG until I started doing puzzles - I always knew the animal as an ORANGutan. But now it's so common I don't even blink at it.
  • 10D: Car discontinued in 2004 (Alero) - possibly the most important car name to know these days, after EDSEL, REO, GTO ... maybe a few others. ALERO is an up-and-comer.
  • 24D: "_____ #1!" ("We're") - first thing I put in the grid.
  • 27D: Where punts were spent (Eire) - Does EIRE not exist any more? Oh, I get it, "punts" don't exist any more. Gotcha. They speak ERSE in EIRE, which is also known as ERIN, btw. Hey, this puzzle has EIRE, EYRE, and EYER (56D: Assessor). ¡Ay ay ay!
  • 36D: White Sulphur _____, W. Va.: Abbr. (Spr.) - eeks. Needed all the crosses to make sense of this. Is this place famous?
  • 38D: Relieve, as for a break (spell) - for whatever reason, one of my favorite little verbs. I find it charming.
  • 39D: Easily maneuvered, as a boat (yare) - I always thought this was "YAR"? Maybe that's just because it sounds more like a word a pirate would say "Aarrrr, matey!"
  • 45D: They believed the world was created by Viracocha (Incas) - nice to use a very common answer to teach the world a little something.
  • 53D: Hurls defiance at (dares) - hmmm ... this seems off to me. No, I guess in some contexts it works. Like, if I say "stop that" and you say "make me!" you are being defiant by daring me to do something. OK.
  • 59D: Suffix for many a sharable computer file (pdf) - with URL, HTTP, HTML, etc., one of those computery letters scrambles you need to make peace with if you haven't already.
Best wishes,

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

69 comments:

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

If you ever need a slate roof repaired, call a "slater", he'll come over with his z-ax and other tools.

You can probably find his ad in the weekly "PennySaver" --- the Gennessee (sp?) Valley edition cover Rochester and upper NYS btw.

.../Glitch

PhillySolver 9:24 AM  

I did enjoy this puzzle, but I was going nowhere until I figured out the theme. My first guess for the missing *something was Welter. Then with Infield fly rule, I was off to the fill. It still took about thirty minutes last night though. Why? ZAX and YARE and XER. Surprised with Indo-Aryan, it fit but I wanted China. My very last fill was SABLE/ENS. I would have thought sable earlier has the clue been 'jet black.' Thought of at least a dozen answers before it worked. I am in a hurry today, so I have to ____.

pinky 9:33 AM  

Thanks, anonymous for explaining z-ax. It looked like zax as in zaxophone

YARE.....another erstwhile nautical term you only hear bantered about the Port Townsend Wooden boat festival by the local "Amish of the Sea", only i've always heard it pronounced YAR, so thought the spelling was YAR or YARR. (eg. harrrr matey, she's yarrrr and built hell for stout)

PuzzleGirl 9:52 AM  

ZAX is, indeed, a Dr. Seuss creation. There's a north-going zax and a south-going zax. They happen upon each other and neither will budge to the east or west. Stubborn little guys those zaxes.

Had a few of the same stumbles as Rex. I had Willie LOMAN for 11D which gave me WEIGHT BONER. Took me a while to figure that out and get the theme, but once I got it everything fell easily except the NW.

Afraid I must quibble with the PDF clue. It's not a suffix, is it?? (The more I think about it, the more "suffix" seems like a really strange word.)

All in all, a Thursday without Googling, so ... not bad.

HarrietLou in Philly 10:15 AM  

For once, I got the theme almost immediately - Venus fly trap (a truly creepy plant) opened the way and I was able to zip around, filling in the themes. This is a first for me - usually I'm stuck saying something like - gee I would have thought it was "there's a fly in my soup," but it can't be 'cause it doesn't fit. In a typical puzzle, I spend many minutes thinking thoughts like this - and an equal or greater number kicking myself when the light finally dawns. And this Thursday was made even better to see that Rex didn't rate it 'super-duper-too-easy-believe!"

PhillySolver 10:17 AM  

A little puzzle history...YARE has been in the NYT a number of times and SEXER has appeared clued pretty much the same way as today, but let's all welcome the first appearance of ZAX and Willie LOMAX. Do you think being so new and their common letter that they are Gen EXERs?

ProdigalT 10:19 AM  

You must be the only crossword freak I know who doesn't play Scrabble. ZAX is a very well known and useful word there.

rick 10:22 AM  

PDF is a suffix as in someone sending you somefile.pdf to read.

Jim in Chicago 10:23 AM  

Oh - Z-AX, now it all makes sense. Back to parsing school for me, I guess.

My downfall was in the west, where I first put in OBEY for "mind", then gave up on that and tried for CORK as the place where they spend punts. Finally got EIRE and then it all fell into place.

Then, when I finally figured out Penny SAVE_ I rushed in and put SAVED as in "a penny saved.....", which left me with the bookblack using DAGs. Daggonnit.

I also wanted the governess to be TESS, but was Tess of the d'Urbervilles even a governess? I completly blanked on our old friend EYRE.

Is "zip up your [fly]" something we'd have seen in the puzzle until the recent past?

As is often the case on Thursday, I found this puzzle easier to work online. I always start out the puzzle on paper on the bus and then if I'm not finished I'll put what I have into the online version. There's something about the online presentation - probably accompanied by the ease of repairing mistakes when made - that makes it easier while also making me more willing to guess.

Orange 10:25 AM  

It's not a z-ax, it's a zax. I linked to the dictionary entry last night. The etymology rocks: [Variant of sax, from Middle English, knife, from Old English seax.]

PuzzleGirl 10:43 AM  

@rick: But I'm saying that's not a suffix. It's a file extension.

matty lite 10:48 AM  

Zax? I was sure I was wrong because it sounded too much like Zaxxon, an old proto-3d arcade game I'd classify as a Friday or Saturday in difficulty.

easl 10:52 AM  

Can somebody explain why 44D is spelled b-l-e-u? If it's meant to be the french way to say blue then why isn't the clue 'frommage' (sp.?).

Spencer 10:53 AM  

I think you can flavor SPAM(R) with CLOVE, not that it has cloves in it.

See, e.g., the recipe for Baked SPAM(R)Classic at http://www.spam.com/eatspam/recipe_detail.aspx?Id=922

James F 11:01 AM  

Around Thursday (sometimes on Friday and definitely by Saturday) is when I first look at the clues and think, "Nothing makes any sense at all. I might as well not waste my time trying." Then I find a tiny foothold (which for me was SEXER and REMIX) and things begin to fall into place, and a great sense of satisfaction results. I guess it is that feeling that keeps me (maybe all of us) doing these day in and day out.

After NE through Kansas to SW and at the end the NW. ARENA for "Bowl" took me a long time to come to terms with, even after I knew it was correct. I was off in Bowl-a-Rama, not Bowl-a-Rena, land. Didn't get YARE, since I figured that IS FOR was okay for "Regarding" and YIRE made as much sense to me as anything else. I appreciate the Pinky's edifying quote. Thanks.

Janet 11:15 AM  

Can't help thinking of Cary Grant and Katie Hepburn reminiscing about their sailboat in "The Philadelphia Story", "...she sure was yare"

jae 11:17 AM  

I liked the theme and doing it on paper made it easier for me. I had TRAP and figured VENUSFLY but of course it didn't fit. So, I went looking for the theme clue (easier to find on paper), found it, figured it out and the rest went very smoothly. Like Rex I guessed right on SEDER and sort of remembered AINGE after filling most of it in. My only complaint is having to play "guess the vowel" on Thurs. on the ZAX/ASE crossing. Not knowing ZAX it could have been ZOX (which I admit doesn't really sound right).

doc john 11:27 AM  

Started with WE'RE then confidently wrote in Welterweigh- oops, not enough letters! Fortunately, I had a fresh copy and started anew.

I was glad to see that Rex had rated the puzzle Medium, as that is what I thought, too. Once I got INFIELD (fly) RULE, the theme made sense and that helped- a lot. I don't think I've ever heard anyone called a (Fly) BY NIGHTER, though.

Was I the only one who wanted ASIAN for [14A. Indo-___]? Indo-ARYAN???

Lots of interesting (and hard to figure) cluing in this one, such as [21A. Motor ___]. Motor mouth? Motor man? Motor cycle? Finally got INN with help from the N in ORANG.

BTW, I'm in Miami visiting and have been doing the Miami Herald's crossword. I've actually found them to be harder but I think it's because I'm not used to their cluing. Also, I'd have to say that their clue/answer combos do not jibe as well as I'd like (even with giving some editorial leeway).

joaneee 11:27 AM  

@ janet - re Philadelphia Story - me too! Only place I ever heard the word and I didn't know it was spelled that way.
Had trouble because I spelled BLEU as BLUE and tried to think of a mimic word ending in U. Finally got through that, then had to make up an English-sounding name, Enid, for the author Blyton. Lucky me, everything worked after that. Zax was a new one for me.

doc john 11:31 AM  

Oops, forgot to mention "Dayenu"! Other than the food, my favorite part of a SEDER. (In my circle, the SEDER consists of the "highlights" only- 10 Plagues, 4 Questions, Dayenu and eat!)

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

By coincidence I just learned ZAX yesterday on a fun vocabulary-building site called freerice.com. Two Ponies

miriam b 11:50 AM  

ZAX - I love it. Makes me wish I had a slate roof in need of repair so that I could tell th slater to come and be sure to bring his zax.

The specificity of terminology for traditional hands-on crafts is interesting. In basketry, for instance, there are terms like slype, randing, upsett, staves, twining, lashing, waling, skeining, etc., all of them precisely descriptive of a process. The only one I can envision in a crossword is slype, which is better known as an architectural term.

Joshua 12:17 PM  

Hi.

Another comment that I hope is YAR. Learned this word in real life, not on the grid, and always thought it meant "tight", "sharp", "fit", "well-heeled","highly fahrvergnugenisch", but not actually (necessarily) agile or "easily manuverable. Any old yeechy bleachy boat could be easily manuverable without being yar - I still think!

Disclaimer:
I had finally put it in... but only out of sheer desperation, so that doesn't mean a thing.

Shuka

paul in mn 12:34 PM  

I echo that there were a few difficult crosses today: ZAX/ASE, BREL/YARE. I felt glad when I clicked Done and there were no errors.

Lots of lively fill and lovely scrabbly letters, so a lot of fun even if it was on the hard side for a Thursday.

Jim in Chicago 12:38 PM  

I forgot to comment on the spam clue.

I very much wanted the answer to be "spice", since SPAM is actually "Spiced Ham", I believe.
As to whether or not one of the spices is cloves, that spice is a traditional one to use with ham, but as to whether or not SPAM includes it I couldn't say. I don't have a can in front of me, or anywhere for that matter, but I'd guess the ingredient list just says somethign like "spices".

Karen 12:47 PM  

Thanks puzzlegirl, I had the same thing with LOMAX/LOMAN. I forgot to double check that answer, and WEIGHT BONER didn't look right but I couldn't parse it out.

I've been to the Spam museum. The brochure advertising it was better than the museum itself.

profphil 12:51 PM  

I did the puzzle late at night. Finished it but was sure I had some incorrect entries: Zax, Ainge, Brel, Sabel. Just checked in with Rex (this blog) and to my suprise I had all the correct answers.

As to Yare, it is also spelled yar.

JAB 1:19 PM  

I remember when SPAM cans showed a roasted loaf, scored with intersecting diagonal lines to form a diamond-shaped pattern, with a CLOVE pressed into each diamond.

Oh, just found a pic:
http://www.sci.fi/~jpoyry/huijarit/spam.jpg

But I've never seen anyone prepare SPAM this way in real life.

PuzzleGirl 1:25 PM  

OT but too exciting: I just made my arrangements for the tournament. I didn't think I'd be able to go, but it worked out that I will. My sister is coming too. Do we have a secret handshake or anything so we can recognize each other?

rick 1:42 PM  

@puzzlegirl

They're also called suffixes.

@janet

An audio clip of Katherine Hepburn defining YARE from "Philidelphia Story"

Naja 1:42 PM  

"Yare" for me is always Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story. Thought it was "yar" as well.

PuzzleGirl 1:48 PM  

Thanks, rick. I've never heard that before and I consider myself more tech savvy than the average Joe. But there ya go. Wikipedia even says it's so.

Jim in Chicago 1:53 PM  

I'm sitting here over lunch and obsessing about SPAM. It appears that even generic "spice" is not part of SPAM, who's ingredients seem to be limited to:

Chopped pork shoulder meat with ham meat added.
Salt (for binding, flavour, and firmness)
Water (to help in mixing)
Sugar (for flavour)
Sodium Nitrite (for colour and as a preservative)

So, we have the clue "spam flavorer", which to me initally indicated that we answer would be an ingredient in SPAM, which cloves appear to NOT be.

So, I guess we're looking for something one COULD - or maybe more to the point commonly WOULD add to spam when preparing it to eat - shudder. While cloves are commonly added to ham, I doubt that many people ever baked spam like a ham (despite the illustation dragged up by Jab.)

Ben 2:01 PM  

As it is bordering on torture to force an adolescent boy to read such drivel, I may be forever biased against it, but I can't recommend strongly enough that you avoid Jane Eyre at all possible costs. Along with Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, it's easily one of the two most painful books I've ever read. If you've made it through your academic career without being subjected to the endless tedium, consider yourself lucky; and never, ever, choose that agony of your own volition. You've been warned.

Bill from NJ 2:05 PM  

I had ASPER at 42A which made me late on figuring out the theme.

Btw, I've eaten spam as a child and the idea of cloves . . .

dk 2:15 PM  

Zax is my Scabble dream word.

I got Venustrap right away and said to myself why does this look wrong. After about a minute...

Once I realized I was missing fly the other theme clues zipped in.

I wanted Hormel to be the flavorer for Spam.

Alan 3:23 PM  

Went through this puzzle like gangbusters till I hit the N.E. corner.Got stuck on weight boxer( I wrote weight class), and c team (I wrote b team). After about 30 minutes and attempted goggle on bluesman Willie,clove opened up the corner. Tricky puzzle for a Thursday.

Jim in NYC 4:17 PM  

James F said: Around Thursday (sometimes on Friday and definitely by Saturday) is when I first look at the clues and think, "Nothing makes any sense at all. I might as well not waste my time trying." Then I find a tiny foothold and things begin to fall into place, and a great sense of satisfaction results. I guess it is that feeling that keeps me (maybe all of us) doing these day in and day out.

I feel exactly the same way.

Also James F.

Michael 4:32 PM  

I thought this was quite easy for a Thursday even if I ended up with a cross I was unsure about (zax-ase). I've also never heard of the c-team.

White Sulphur Springs was, I think, the home of golfer Sammy Snead. I somehow know this even though Sammy played before I followed golf at all.

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

Another LOMAX was mentioned eslewhere in the same Arts section, a singer named Jackie (Beatles/Maharishi article.) I love that sort of random coincidence.


Then there's the anthropologist Lomax (Arthur?) who recorded all those great Negro spirituals and blues in the 1930's for Moby to rip off 60 years later..

Doug 6:56 PM  

Cut to the chase this time on the theme and actually looked at the * explanation before skipping the themed answers and waiting for the clue. Only BYNIGHTER and WEIGHTBOXER failed to fall immediately, so it was off to the races.

Speaking of EYRE I picked up Wuthering Heights at the library for some reason, and I was hooked within minutes. 150 years old and still "saucy" -- Can't imagine what it was like when it first hit the shelves.

mac 6:57 PM  

I guess there was some ground clove in the ham mixed into the meat for spam.....
I had Rex's Seder moment as well, but after that that whole corner was painfully slow, guessing some words but not being sure enough. I finally googled Danny and everything fell into place.

Chip Ahoy 7:02 PM  

Flies are filthy and carry disease, there is no place for them in crossword puzzles. Therefore, the constructor wisely left them out. Woo to the puzzle.

Catherine K 7:13 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
billnutt 7:40 PM  

You don't know how much I wanted Willie DIXON to be the answer to the bluesman. Dixon was one of the real godfathers of rock and roll; as a songwriter, producer and writer, he was a major architect of Chicago blues.

I would have settled for Willie Mabon, too.

Oh, and the LOMAX you might have been thinking of was Alan Lomax, or his son John. They did a load of field recordings and helped bring the blues to prominence, along with other folk styles.

Jacques Brel wrote some very interesting songs (which I really only know in transation). My college roommate was in a fine production of JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS.

I was hoping that (fly) ON THE WALL would be in there somewhere.

I'd swear that ZAX was a villain in a Marvel comic once.

Anyone else think of SILENT MOVIE in connection with THERES A (fly)IN MY SOUP?

And I thought of PHILADELPHIA STORY, too, when I got YARE.

ZAX gets the WTF award for the day.

jannieb 8:30 PM  

Evening all - White Sulphur Springs, WV, is home to the Greenbrier - a lovely, 5-star resort in the old Southern tradition. It has a wonderful cooking school, golf course and spa. It also has a bunker hideway that can be toured. If memory serves, it was built during the early days of the Cold War to house the Cabinet and other "essentials".

Spam is a big deal in Hawaii. They have a festival/cooking competition annually. One restaurant offers a specially prepared Spam dish (jokingly) for $500! We brought home a 50 ways to Cook Spam (Vol. I of II!!!) for a friend who'd recently graduated from the Culinary Institute.

Fun puzzle, fond memories.

Kathy 9:06 PM  

Ben, don't throw Jane Eyre under the bus! It's a 19th century British novel, what's a book to do?! Tom Jones (the book by Henry Fielding, not the singer) was far, far worse.

Good puzzle today--as other's have said, I was feeling stuck until I figured out the theme, then it all fell together.

Happy almost Friday!
Kathy

Laura 9:10 PM  

ZAX's friend, of course, was Slater on Saved by the Bell.

I couldn't get EYRE for a while...and I had put JANEEYRE as a fill entry in my NYS puzzle that appeared on Monday...sheesh.

Loved the Dayenu clue...first thing in the grid for me.

kratsman 9:39 PM  

After grokking the theme, I was hoping for 'Church of the (Fly)ing Spaghetti Monster'...though that may have been tough to clue.

Fergus 10:20 PM  

Kathy -- I'm surprised to find that someone could think "Tom Jones" was a crummy book. Maybe you had to rush to get through it? I thought it was a great adventure, giving one a real sense of the life in the 18th century. All of us must have some objections to the supposed classics though, I would guess.

CelticsFan 11:44 PM  

@jae 11:17
re: "the ZAX/ASE crossing... .. ZOX"
The vowel had to be A for ZAX because enzymes end in -ase; it is sugars like glucose, sucrose, etc that end in -ose.

Did noone else have MARY (Poppins) instead of EYRE for 40A initially? Like others I had issues with LOMAN for LOMAX, wanting PENNY CANDY for PENNY SAVER, etc. And like your initial reaction, Rex, I thought that the clue for 53D -DARES was off.
But the theme was interestingly different, and I liked seeing Danny AINGE in there, the Celtics point guard from the amazing Larry Bird era. Brings back memories: Bird, McHale, Parrish, Ainge, and Dennis Johnson (who died just short of a year ago - may he rest in peace).

pomegranate 12:53 AM  

A first-ever comment, late at night. So I doubt anyone will see it. But did no one else have SALT instead of ENDS for 33A? Confidently filled in 40A (EYRE) and SALT (erroneous) in early, so kept on thinking I must be on the wrong track with the fly in the soup at 37A for way too long!

Rex, I stumbled on the blog a few weeks ago. Now my day feels incomplete without a visit. Thanks for creating such creating such a wonderful crossword community!

Rikki 1:03 AM  

Great write-up, as usual Rex and the comments have been fun to read. Ditto Kathryn and Cary and Yar. Spam and seder... hmm... no, I don't think so, unless it's one of the 10 plagues Doc John mentioned. When I was ten, I liked to panfry my spam with a ring of pineapple, then glaze it with maple syrup at the end. When is that contest in Hawaii?

Jane Eyre was THE novel of my girlhood, my agony and ecstasy. Fear and desperation, hope and love and passion. Loss. Grief. And a mystery maniac in the attic. What more could you want on a cold New England winter evening? Ok. Hot chocolate. Ben, at least have the book in the house (along with Wuthering Heights) if you ever have a daughter or a son as smart as Fergus.

Welcome, Pomegranate, and yes, I had salt instead of ends and like it better.

Loved this puzzle, but agree with Rex that the theme answers could have had more zip. Liked venus flytrap the best. On to Friday. TG

profphil 1:05 AM  

Pomegranate

Yes, I too made the same error at first with salt of the earth. But corrected it because of the crosses.

karmasartre 1:06 AM  

@Pomme of Granite -- Yeah, I went for Salt of the earth at first...but I knew the last two letters were itching to be a D and an S. so I wasn't stuck on it too long.

Welcome!

Fergus 1:54 AM  

Rikki ... only smart enough to know that most of the knowledge I've retained remains mostly merely subjective. And if you were being facetious, due to my occasional outbreaks of misguided assertion, that's OK, too.

jae 2:06 AM  

@pomegranate -- I also initially had SALT but Sulphur SPR erased it.

@celticsfan -- Thanks for the clarification. I think doc john also explained this last week but it didn't quite stick. Maybe now I've got it??

karmasartre 2:09 AM  

@ Fergus re subjective knowledge, from today's "A Word A Day" --
If a man would register all his opinions upon love, politics, religion, learning, etc., beginning from his youth and so go on to old age, what a bundle of inconsistencies and contradictions would appear at last!
-Jonathan Swift, satirist (1667-1745)


@Rikki re SPAM recipe -- Yipe

Peter 2:20 AM  

Saw Juno recently, so Penny SAVER came to me instantly.

Didn't chime in yesterday, but I'm very impressed with the last two puzzles.

Anonymous 6:42 PM  

I disagree with you Rex that there aren't many "fly" related sayings.

Like Billnutt I think "on the wall" would have been a good theme answer.

Also "in the ointment".

Rikki 3:47 AM  

@Fergus... I wasn't being a bit facetious. You're smart because you're well read and you're well read because you're smart. It's a nice little circular thing, although I take your and Jonathan Swift's points on the subjectivity of knowledge.

@KarmaS :-P, though nice use of the word yipe!

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Rex:

A slater is a "roofer" who applies slate tiles.

Paul
Calgary

Anonymous 5:37 PM  

Blame my dirty glasses, but I saw the bluesman as "businessman". So I wrote down the famous salesman Willie "Loman" and that made the fighter in 24A a Fly weight BONER!!

Waxy in Montreal 9:05 PM  

Anonymous 5:37 PM -
Made exactly the same clue misread and entered LOMAN as well to start.

For me, the theme was easily deduced from the SOUP clue. Unfortunately I then made the NW much tougher than necessary by insisting on PENNY NOVEL in 1D for the longest time!

Well, I've ben a Scrabble player for about 50-years now & have never seen or heard of ZAX before. But I'll be using it from now on.

vasi 3:45 AM  

w00t! It's been too long since I've finished a Thursday without any help. Still can't believe that I managed to complete this doozy!

Took me nearly forever after all the initial mistakes. I had TWO for "One and one", QTR for the C.F.O.'s time period and BLUE cheese. Saw "Fighter at X pounds", and immediately scribbled in -WEIGHT at the end of 24A, oops. Just to finish things off I experienced the brain fart of all brain farts with "___ sport". Even with all the crosses I just never parsed BEA as two words. I assumed some Beatrice must have a business selling tennis rackets and volleyballs... "Buy from Bea Sport! For all your sporting goods and equipment needs!"

Anyhow, was I the only one who saw "sharable computer file" and started writing MP3? It could have been a rebus—that's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

vasi 4:00 AM  

@waxy: Greetings from a McGill slave *ahem* I mean, student! Shall we race for fastest solver in the ville? If you like winning, I bet you'd find it fun....

Waxy in Montreal 7:16 PM  

Alas vasi, I were a McGill grad 42 years ago and both the grey matter and the competitive juices today ain't what they were then. So youth, you wins by default. Felicitations!

Anonymous 11:26 PM  

Wnjoyed this puzzle, and especially all of your comments. Hi to McGillians present and past. Am a grad there also.
NY Times Crosswords make retirement bearable.

your lyttlest frnd 3:33 AM  

okay, i know its almost a year since this first appeared, but i just found this puzzle (while cleaning out my room) and finished it. i get everything (ill have to wiki "zax" later) but riddle me this...ATE for "bolted down" 29D ?!??? can someone explain...what am i not getting? (maybe this is a sign i shouldnt be doing thursday xwords drunk...)

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