Sunday, March 2, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "GET [something]" - all theme answers are exclamatory phrases starting with "GET"

Well, I'm back from Brooklyn. I know, you're thrilled.

I have to polish this one off quickly, so I can go back and get Saturday (which has been ruined for me, but that's what happens when you don't do the puzzle in a timely fashion) and Sunday (which remains a blessed mystery). I will write up the whole ACPT experience, complete with many awesome pictures, some time this week - though I will post it on another blog and simply link to that blog from here, since I don't want to spoil tournament puzzles for those who still want to solve them at home. (Which reminds me ... ugh, I forgot to get copies of the tournament puzzles ... anyone want to send me copies of theirs? I'll be your best friend!)

So, Monday. Yeah, OK. It's a puzzle. Lots of GETs. Had hiccups all over the place, but nothing like real trouble. My keyboard technique remains shoddy and jittery, with much of my time spent correcting my own stupid sloppy typing. I do not like ANGLO as a an answer for 6D: White, in Mexico. White = BLANCO. I know that the clue is referencing race (at least I assume it is), but even then ... isn't GRINGO what you want here? There is no Spanish word "ANGLO" that I can find. Everything else in this puzzle seemed OK, if a bit blah.

[late addendum - from a Mexican reader: "We use the term "anglo" in Mexico (and many hispanics in the US use it widely too) to refer to the natives of this and other northern settlements (europeans included). Why? I'm not sure. Probably because Americans speak english, as in "anglo-parlantes" and then it derived into just "anglo". The jump to use it to refer to all whites, came just naturally, the way these things come normally in the collective conscience."]

Theme answers:

  • 18A: "Calm down!" ("Get a grip!")
  • 24A: "Move!" ("Get out of the way!")
  • 39A: "Pay attention!" ("Get this straight!")
  • 49A: "Lookie there!" ("Get a load of that!")
  • 60A: "Oh, be serious!" ("Get a life!") - this seems off. Not surprisingly, this answer transects the one region of the puzzle I wrestled with the most.
  • 71A: "Savvy?" ("Get it?") - one of my alert readers just suggested that this might be a theme answer, and I suppose that's true, except ... it's a question, not an exclamation, and it has no symmetrical counterpart in the grid. That is, it has a symmetrical counterpart, but MARIE (1A: _____ Antoinette) hardly fits the theme. Very odd ...

I could not figure out GAG ON (49D: Not be able to swallow) or TOTED (51D: Schlepped) without a host of crosses. Neither clue seems particularly apt. [Not be able to swallow] appears to be figurative, referring to someone's story rather than, say, a giant pill or ... something else. And [Schlepped] implies far more dreary effort than TOTED, which is practically bouncy. I have a TOTE bag. I do not have a SCHLEP bag. I don't think those would sell very well. And then there's 56A: Like many a wiseacre's comment: Abbr. (anon.). I ... don't get it. To me a "wiseacre" is like a smart aleck, some mouthy jackass who keeps disturbing class because he thinks he's funny. Does this clue merely mean that many smart-ass comments in Bartlett's Quotations are attributed to no one in particular?

I just asked my wife why a TEAL is a 21A: Dabbling duck. She then made this weird sound with her mouth and motioned with her hand, in a way that I think was supposed to mimic a duck kicking through the water with its feet, but it just looked like a rude / half-insane gesture. Looking up DABBLE now... alright, first definition: To splash liquid gently and playfully. Wife: "I didn't know TEALs did that." Me either. Here I was trying imagine what a TEAL "dabbles" in. Water colors? The stock market?

Other stuff:

  • 13A: Actress Blake or Plummer (Amanda) - my favorite AMANDA Plummer moment involves the very beginning of "Pulp Fiction." Right before a robbery attempt, standing on a booth in a diner with a pistol gripped tightly with both hands and looking and sounding completely insane, she shouts: "Any of you f@#$ing pr&%ks move, and I'll execute every motherf@#$in' last one of ya." That's the line that starts the opening credits rolling ... and then we don't return to this storyline again until the very end of the picture. I'm not really sure who AMANDA Blake is.
  • 34A: Cap or helmet (headgear) - had HEADWEAR, and so GIRTH (35D: Middle measurement) took me way longer than it should have.
  • 64A: Car model with a musical name (Sonata) - Hyundai! I should make a point of memorizing all its models. And KIA's models too, while I'm at it.
  • 66A: Metalliferous rock (ore) - ORE is easy, but you don't see "metalliferrous" very often. Nice, flashy clue word.
  • 33D: Sutcliffe of the early Beatles (Stu) - give me DISCO STU or give me death!
  • 41D: Golfer _____ Aoki (Isao) - his name means "He Who Is Destined for Crossword Immortality." Both his first and last names are crossword gold. 75% vowels = high use-value.
  • 52D: "Gimme _____!" (frequent Alabama cheerleader's cry) ("an A") - cute, but I've seen it before. Plus ... have we confirmed that Alabama cheerleaders would actually do this sort of cheer - a letter-by-letter spelling of the whole damned state name!? Wouldn't that bore the audience to tears, if not rage? "But we just gave you three f@#$ing A's! Use one of those!"
  • 62D: Some Christmas greenery (ivy) - I had FIR. IVY grows on walls of colleges. I have never brought any indoors for Xmas. Is mistletoe a kind of IVY? No, but it turns out that, unbeknownst to me, both "holly" and "ivy" are traditional Christmas plants. Live and learn.

OK, that's all. Must sleep. Tomorrow I will play puzzle catch-up.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld, and as of today, the 55th Greatest Crossword Solver in the Universe


jannieb 10:17 PM  

Rex - Congrats on your great finish! Amanda Blake played Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke. Other than that - who knows what she was into. Hope you all had fun at the ACPT. Can't wait to read all about it.

Jim in NYC 10:27 PM  

Congratulations, Rex, on reaching the big 55!
Seriously, I hope His Rexitude will be able to meet more of his loyal fans next year in Brooklyn. I had that great pleasure this weekend.
Thanks to you, Rex, and all the rest of you for helping me make a good showing in my rookie outing at the ACPT.

PuzzleGirl 10:46 PM  

I had a few hiccups on this one too. Put in BARE for NUDE the first time through even though it didn't seem right. At 16A I thought "Note to self: Learn the damn Greek alphabet already!" Put in IRE for ENG and BID for NOD but crosses fixed those pretty quickly. At 6D, I started typing B-L-A-N- ... S*&T! It doesn't fit!

Agree that the clue for GET A LIFE was off. How about "You're pathetic!" or "You watch too much TV!" or "I can't believe you just traveled halfway across the country for a crossword puzzle tournament!"

I envy you getting to sleep. I'm still hanging out at O'Hare. Looking forward to the appropriate time and place to discuss the fantastic weekend we just had.

PuzzleGirl 10:55 PM  

Oh, and I forgot to say ...

TEATS? Um, breakfast test!

jae 11:06 PM  

Welcome back and congratulations on moving way up. Interested to see your take on Sat. even though you've been exposed. Had many of the same glitches on this one. Had to get ANGLO from the crosses when BLANCO didn't fit, had GETALOOK.. at first, GAGON did not come easily, and had a couple of typos which would not happen with paper and pencil. All in all I thought this was a pretty good Mon.

Pulp Fiction was an amazing movie!

Rikki 11:13 PM  

Well, done, Rex. Major leap from last year. I, too, look forward to your expo. I've loved the tidbits you've shared so far.

I have feasted on puzzles all day. Did the Sunday, then all 7 of the tournament puzzles, then this one. Two slices of pizza, a beer, and I'm ready to settle in to an Umberto Eco book. Yep. He is not just puzzle fodder. He's the real thing. I wish that I could listen in the original, but my Italian is limited to things having to do with food.

Today's puzzle took me 2xMe, but I think I was getting a little loopy by then. I got the gets with no problem and sailed along pretty smoothly. Liked the cluing of china (dishes for fancy meals) and finally have isao aoki down.

I have to say, Rex, that I'm certain I would not have done as well as I did on the online tournament puzzles if not for the time I spend reading your blog and the comments of the gang here. I was ticking off the clues I knew from here. Thanks again to Rex and Orange and all for a really good time!

jae 11:17 PM  

BTW I took the wiseacre/ANON clue/answer to refer to bloggers.

And, what happened to your late Sat. night post about John Lithgow cheating at a parlor game?

Karen 11:35 PM  

For those not following the score boards, Rex just barely missed out on playing the eighth round C finals. Great job, Rex! It was good seeing you and Amy and Emily. Next year, maybe your readers could all meet up in the bar some time?

I did pretty well on all the puzzles, except the dreaded #5. And w00t, I'm now a B contestant!

And the Jacques Torres chocolate was yummy.

PhillySolver 11:43 PM  

With all of these Gs in the Monday puzzle, I think C.W. could have had 1A say, "Let them eat gateau."

Cute fast puzzle after the weekend woes. I would post a YOUTUBE video, but, every one can do that now, right? Check out the ERTE videos. Amazing art work.

Going to NOD off here soon. Had a great time in Brooklyn and meeting so many of you. I may post a story or two of my own form a judge's view.

So many stories all the way around but, I will wait for Rex to fill you in.

Anonymous 11:45 PM  


Congrats Rex. 55th wow that is impressive. All your hard work paid off. I wonder how Orange did.

Found Monday's puzzle hard in that there were a few clues that I was unsure of like the Japanese golfer and the cartoonist Nast. Turns out I was correct but didn't know for sure even with the crosses. Which for a Monday is tough.

I'm glad you are back with the blog. Missed it over the weekend. I also hoped to come down to the tournament today as I live in Brooklyn. But had a workshop I was running and couldn't get out of.

Kathy 12:21 AM  

Congratulations, Rex, on your strong showing at the tournament! I was somewhat chagrined with myself when I found myself repeatedly looking on line to see who had won and where you and Orange finished. At first, I thought your number was your ranking, so when I saw 545, I was slightly dismayed. Quickly discovered the error of my ways, though.

I'm doing the puzzles on line and slightly dismayed with myself, feeling like I should do better. Saturday's BEQ puzzle is sitting on my desktop with a paucity of clues filled in...ugh.

Rest up and blog again, Rex, we missed you!


Bill from NJ 1:54 AM  

Congratulations on your 55th place finish!

After Saturdays puzzle, this was way easy. You know it's easy when your never notice what some of the downs were until you check this blog.

The only problem I had was not knowing what the golfers name was and, in California, not seeing GAGON - a very weird construction.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

I keep vowing to learn all of the Jewish months. Always have to get them from the fills.

Took anon. to mean that the wiseacre wouldn't make the comments if you knew the real identity.

I'm anonomyous here because no matter how many times I try I cannot successfully identify myself.

I'll remain Anonomyous in Texas.

Doug 8:14 AM  

55--Zowwie! Betcha the students are wondering why prof looks like his wife just had a baby--Tired and looks like hell, but grinning like the Cheshire Cat!

Couldn't finish Sunday and had to wait until Monday was posted on the NYT site to get the password, instead of getting a heads up on Reliable Rex. Glad to have you back.

Squash's Mom 8:21 AM  

Rex, Congrats on your 55th place finish. Very impressive. Also, congrats to your wife, she placed respectively for a rookie (and she at least had the guts to go, unlike me.) Will she be blogging about her experience as well? I'd love to hear her point of view about the whole thing.

It's very difficult for me to get out of the habit of trying all the across clues then going to all the down clues and going back and forth that way. I don't think my solving times will improve working the grid in that style. Sometimes it helps though when I don't see a clue I would have typed in wrong (I would have entered BLANCO for ANGLO, but since I already had ADDS and NUDE and TEAL I just left it) and let crosses automatically fill in some answers.

Ever since Pirates of the Caribbean came out my household has been saying "Savvy?" for "get it?" We even had a limerick contest on our family vacation where everyone had to use the word. (My husband somehow rhymed it with gravy!)

Get some rest now and know your loyal fans who weren't at the tournament missed you while you were gone. Thanks again for your blog. Even though i know no faces, and mostly aliases, I still feel much a part of this community, which makes my crossword experience so much richer.

ArtLvr 8:50 AM  

Hearty congrats too from upstate NY! Your daily blog was definitely missed...

For those who can use -- I'd say try the LA Times puzzle from yesterday, an ON/OFF sort of thing. Would give it a title of "'9 to 5' Role". Not too difficult but fun!

Again, so glad to hear the tournament went well and will look forward to more tidbits about the event!


Anonymous 9:07 AM  

I second Squash's call for a Mrs. Rex reaction to the tournament, sort of like a blog for crossword mortals.

Joe in NE

Rex Parker 9:14 AM  

Mrs. Rex will definitely posting a view of the tournament from her perspective, and I will let you all know when it is up and ready.


Sandy (Mrs Rex) 9:15 AM  

I will indeed be writing something up about, but not 'till later, because right now I'm at work (shhh!). It will mostly be encouraging you all to go next year no matter how good (or not good) you think you are. I had a total blast and everyone was so friendly and awesome. So, wait 24 hours or so, and I'll post my views on what it is like to hear Will Shortz say "Time's Up." Not every one stays in the room long enough to have that privlege.

Sandy 9:17 AM  

ps to Squash's Mom
No one on the stage solved by the all-across, all-down method favored by many of us. In fact, I was surprised by how scattershot some of the finalists were. But clearly, it worked for them.

douggarr 9:25 AM  

Oh be serious for get a life? Be serious. And anon? see you later c.w. stewart.

Eli barrieau 9:38 AM  

If you still need the puzzles, I can send them to you. I agree with Sandy (Rex is now Mr. Sandy)everyone was very accomodating and nice to rookies. I, too, would urge everyone to go next year. I did way better than I thought I would or could do.

Jim in Chicago 9:59 AM  

My congrats. as well. Nice job, Rex.

My only comment on today's puzzle was going to be that I had HEADWEAR, which left me with WIDTH off the W. I then changed the D to an R (since that answer could only be ROSE), which then gave me WIRTH. But, Rex fell into the same trap. So it goes.

Mary 10:00 AM  

Congratulations, Rex, on your strong performance in the tournament. I look forward to reading more. It sounds like it was a blast.

Regarding the TEAL. I believe that all he world of ducks is divided into two parts. They are either divers or dabblers. Divers search out their food by going completely underwater. Dabblers merely dabble. I guess the TEAL is in group B.

Anyway, I'm not 100% sure of this so if anyone wishes to correct me that's fine.

Jim in NYC 10:21 AM  

Thanks for posting that file, Jeff.
Jim Finder

PhillySolver 10:36 AM  

Perhaps the symmetry to GETIT really is MARIE as she 'got it". GETIT?

I am sure LIZ will post soon and set us straight on the ducks.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Oh please - you didn't get the obvious nod with the "wiseacre" clue? We anonymi are so openly derided here in the comments page, when I finally got the answer (on crosses), I thought, "Ah - Rex (and Orange) will love this one!"

"Oh Please" reminds me that "Get Real" would have been a better answer for 60a, except that it wouldn't have fit, of course. "Get a Life" refers more to someone who derives joy from commenting on blog entries.

Bill D 11:03 AM  

Congrats and Welcome Home, Heroes to Rex and all the blog mavens who participated in the tournament!

Good to get back to a simple puzzle after Saturday's killer. Able to forgive most of the gripes 'cause I just don't care today - I didn't see the horrible ANGLO until I read Rex's blog, as I got it from crosses.

Focus on the positives - loved HEADGEAR and GIRTH, chuckled at "Gimme AN A" clue, liked "Lump in the throat", "Auction motion" and HOUSESAT.

Finally, we've got to get better clues for REA and REO...any ideas?

PhillySolver 11:16 AM  

Here is a link to Jim's stats and the history of REO clues.
Xword Clues

or copy:

enter REO
then REA

then anything else that comes to mind.

Joaneee 11:26 AM  

Cool, phillysolver. Wondered where you got all those stats!

Frances 11:51 AM  

More congrats to Rex, and to Orange, who placed 15th overall! Here's a question for the math majors: Rex's 2008 score (55) was about 1/3 of his 2007 posting (166). Does that mean he improved 300%?

Unrelated note: all you folks fortunate enough to spend the weekend in Brooklyn probably missed out on Patrick Berry's 2/29/08 puzzle in Chronicle of Higher Education. That had the cleverest theme and most elegant execution of any puzzle in recent memory. It's probably still accessible through

Jim in NYC 12:10 PM  

Philly, I kept an eye out for you and/or your pseudonym "Michael Smith" at the ACPT, without success.
I was happy to meet Rex and one other commenter on this blog, as well as Orange and JimH.
Next year maybe co-bloggers can be more creative and use the bulletin boards to make contact at the ACPT. Or maybe the colored stickers (your idea for identifying Rexites) could just be left on the nametag tables for those who want them.
Regards and congratulations to all.
Jim Finder

Rex Parker 12:26 PM  

You absolutely may not scan and distribute the tournament puzzles, via this site or any other. They are copyrighted. I just got a message from Shortz. Please don't get me in trouble.


Janet 12:27 PM  

It was great meeting you and your wife, Rex. I agree with other rookies in saying how friendly and helpful everyone was, which was essential to someone going without knowing a soul. I felt like I found my tribe. In Brooklyn.

PhillySolver 1:51 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
PhillySolver 1:53 PM  

@ jim in nyc

I am sorry I missed you. I wondered around and kept a mental count of how many people I talked with (even if briefly) and I passed 350. I did have a blue sticker on my tag. If you go through the pictures from Pete (linked in Rex's blog) you will see my picture to reference for next year. I will work on a get-together for next year. My company would sponsor a breakfast if our publicity-shy Head Blogger will agree and if not, we will think of something.

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

Anonymous in Texas,

I too have a problem with getting my nane in the comments. I therefore write my name first think so that it appears right under Anonymous at the beggining of the comment.

Gabby 2:17 PM  

I thought this was quite a clever puzzle and fun to do. It seems some solvers are very quick to judge words and clues and over-analyze without thinking about what is really meant. I like a fun Monday puzzle!

Rex Parker 2:33 PM  

There's no need to disparage other commenters. You like what you like. Others feel differently. Keep your comments on the puzzle, not the commenters, and do not engage other commenters in anything but a collegial way, even (especially) if you disagree with them. Otherwise - DELETE.

Further, maybe you all could explain what this trouble is you seem to be having getting your name in the comments. On Firefox, I get four options when I comment: Use my google/blogger ID (this is what I do), Use "Open ID" (whatever that is), Use any name/URL that I want (that's the option I wish "Anonymous" people would use) and Anonymous. Straightforward. Please explain trouble.


NJPhil 2:38 PM  

Just a test of leaving your name, from Internet Explorer.

I believe this requires that you supply a URL also, but this is just a test

NJPhil 2:39 PM  

Nope, IE lets you just enter your name and you're set.

TexasTroubador 2:39 PM  

I just went through the process of creating a name on Blogger since it has been awhile and it worked so here is what I did.
1) At the "Leave your comment" window I filled in the dot Google/Blogger
2) Clicked on the phrase "sign up here"
3) entered a current email address (must be a real one you already have) It will neither be shared nor displayed
WARNING: do not hit the Enter key, you must point and click or tab
4) re-enter email address (sometimes asked for)
5) create a password, the system ranks it for you in terms of safety. Numbers and letters needed and improved with a symbol and a capital letter
6) re-enter the same password (you will need it from time-to-time, but once you are signed on it remembers you for days if you do not turn off the pc)
7) type in the secret "word" or non-sense letters they give you. It is case sensitive and a pain. Sometimes you just can't read it. If that happens guess at it and press enter. It will give you a new word, but you have to re-enter the password twice.
8) Create a display name (Anonymous is a bad choice!)
9) Accept Terms

Viola, it takes you to the display page and you have a new moniker

Fergus 2:56 PM  

Among the more annoying Christmas carols is "The Holly and the Ivy." Not as bad as that demented one, with the four notes pounding over and over, about the bells.

Wondering what sort of Doctor quotes a FEE?

Anonymous 3:15 PM  


Normally I just like to come here to read your posts rather than to comment, but I just wanted to answer your question regarding TEAL. I guess that us crossword-puzzle crazy birders are rarer than I thought. :)

Teals are a fairly common kind of dabbling duck, various species of which can be found all over the world (there are about 18). The most common in North America is the Blue-Winged Teal, which is a beautiful bird. The female can be hard to identify because they look a lot like a Mallard, but the males have a fairly distinct white streak on their face and a blue-ish head. Here is a link to a photo.

Other North American Teals are the Green-Winged Teal (fairly common) and the Cinnamon Teal (rarer and only in the West)

I'm sure that's more than you wanted to know, but hey, knowledge is power, I suppose.

PS Congrats on the awesome finish at the tourney

Claire 3:38 PM  

Rex, Two nickels, congrats

barrywep 4:26 PM  

Just to remind me of my weekend blunders I had HEADWEAR/WIDTH instead of HEADGEARD/GIRTH and just eyeballing it did not help sinse ROSE became DOSE. I assume the trap was unintentional since this is Monday.

Thanks for bringing MRS Rex to Brooklyn. She is a delight.

Karen 5:15 PM  

Fergus, back in the old days before the HMOs, the doctors used to have a fee for service. You're right, you hear more about co-pays and EOBs these days for payment.

hollyhmc 5:51 PM  

What's wrong with "The Holly and the ivy?" ;)
I even have a set of Christmas dishes with that written on them...
Congratulations, Rex. 55 sounds much better than 166.
The crossword just wasn't the same w/out you.

doc John 5:56 PM  

To Rex, congrats on your stellar finish! I'd say moving up to 55 is a better than 300% finish due to the increase in contestants.

Not much else to say other than I had a whole lot of writeovers for a Monday puzzle.

Still working on Saturday's too- just a few more squares in the NW and I'm done.

jae 7:55 PM  

Regarding problems signing on to comment. A couple of weeks ago the interface for "Choose an identity" changed. There used to be a box for name (or nickname?). Now you have to click Name/URL and two boxes appear. One for name and the other for URL. If you type your name/nickname in the "Name" box and leave the "URL" box blank your name appears the way in did before the interface change. Hope this is clear.

mac 8:36 PM  

I don't understand the problem with the name business: the format did change a bit some weeks ago, but I just scrolled down until I saw "name", put in "mac" and submitted. How much easier can it be?
I lucked out and chose the right answers in this pretty easy puzzle. I'm a jewelry designer, and one of my suppliers is a place called Metalliferous. I had no problem with "gag on", and no, I am not bulimic. Eli Barrieau, I spotted you buying tickets for guests who wanted to watch the finals, and remembered your name from your comment on Rex's blog.

johnson 9:01 PM  

All doctors have FEES; nowadays they just don't get paid their fees (check out your explanation of benefits forms to see how much your doctor received vs. the FEE)

However, doctors who perform cosmetic surgeries and procedures will often quote and get paid (in cash) their FEES.

Welcome back Rex, I missed you dearly. Congratulations on the strong finish.

Did anyone you-tube the competition?

Matthew 9:43 PM  

Teal is a type of duck. They probably mean the Ringed Duck variety.

Anonymous 10:44 PM  

Anonymous in Texas

The problem I encounter is that I think I create a Google/Blogger identity but it tells me it does not exist. I will try with some of the other advice offered since my post.

Thanks for the warm welcome.

Aviatrix 2:45 PM  

Ahh, all's right in the world. I found the congratulations thread.

And re: "TEATS? Um, breakfast test!"
That's what most people under the age of two have their breakfast served out of!

Badir 10:42 PM  

Alas, it's too late for anyone to read this post, but I totally rocked on Monday's puzzle! Two weeks ago, I set my Monday record at 7:01, not that much faster than the 7:17 then-record I set after last year's tournament. I surprised myself last week by taking it down to 6:29. And I was expecting to do well this week, but still shocked myself when I saw the time: 5:39! It's all starting to flow now, and my confidence has been improving. And for this puzzle, I skipped many more clues that I ever had before, being confident of the crossings.

syndakate 5:07 PM  

I've had the same problem with my computer telling me my identity doesn't exist. If this posts, thanks jae for the tip.

syndakate 5:10 PM  

Hurray! I exist again! What a relief.

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