THURSDAY, Mar. 20, 2008 - Stephen Edward Anderson (South-of-the-border border town portmanteau)

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Border town portmanteaus - border towns whose names are hybrids of the states whose borders they lie on



I must finish my grading by class time, so this will have to be very quick. In short, I did not like this puzzle. Found the place names absurd (though a couple were familiar) and the non-theme fill either boring or painfully forced. Had terrible trouble in the far north and the SE, for reasons I'll explain below.


Theme answers:

  • 20A: South-of-the-border border town portmanteau (Mexicali, Mexico) - here, I had no idea what was going on - I had the MEXICALI part (or most of it) and thought maybe some totally new word was being invented. MEXICO is not part of the "portmanteau," so it took me Forever to figure out that the state name would be part of the answer.
  • 25A: Plains border town portmanteau (Kanorado, Kansas) - stupidest name of them all.
  • 42A: Mid-Atlantic border town portmanteau (Delmar, Delaware) - this is weird. Del Mar just means "of the sea" in Spanish. Are people in DELMAR, DE sure they're living in a portmanteau and not just a city with a Spanish name?
  • 47A: South-central border town portmanteau (Texarkana, Texas)

And I now officially hate the word "portmanteau" (you can type it only so many times before the hatred starts to well up)

Bullets:

  • 5A: Burns and Cowper (bards) - hate hate hate this. Maybe it's because I teach poetry most every day of my damned life, but I hate the word BARD. It's pretentious and dated and rightly should be attached only to Shakespeare and ancient Celtic minstrel poets. Further, Cowper??? On a Thursday? Wow. OK, Let's stay in the north for a sec ...:
  • 8D: Run (out of) (drum) - the heart of my trouble up there in the north. Is this supposed to be a phrase meaning to "run" someone "out of" ... town? I have never ever ever heard this word used this way. I do not doubt that there is a valid dictionary definition to back this up, but the phrasing here is just horrible. A Horribly written clue. When you go to parentheses in your clue, you better have damned good reason. DRUM ... ugh.
  • 16A: Locale of the highways H1 and H2 (Oahu) - Not sure what to do with this clue. Got this from crosses. Nothing about this clue says Hawaii to me. (Is that what the "H"s stand for?)
  • 18A: Animal in the 2005 film "Madagascar" (lemur) - beginning of all my troubles. I had HIPPO. There were many LEMURS, just one HIPPO (one of the main characters), so the singular "animal" led me to HIPPO. This is what happens when you know far more than you should about children's animated fare.
  • 23A: "_____ certainly do not!" ("No, I") - another terrible clue. A painful partial. I can't hear someone saying this. When I hear it, there is no "No" at the beginning, and there is a "most" between "I" and "certainly."
  • 24A: Te-_____ cigars (amo) - why the hyphen?
  • 36A: Each state, symbolically (star) - ????? I have no idea what this means. [thanks to the commenter who pointed out what must have been obvious to most people: stars = states on the U.S. flag]
  • 45A: Issue pikes and poleaxes, e.g. (arm) - I love the image. If only that's how people "ARMed" themselves these days.
  • 55A: Minestrone morsels (orzo) - zing, a "Z." I like this.
  • 56A: "The Big Trail" or "The Big Stampede" (oater) - one of my favorite crossword words.
  • 57A: Source for an outburst (nova) - why "for" and not "of?" The clue is almost clever, but something about it feels off. Many of today's clues feel like they were tortured in a desperate attempt to make them difficult/clever, resulting only in carnage.
  • 58A: The Putumayo River forms part of its norther border (Peru) - news to me.
  • 59A: Two bells, in a sailor's middle watch (one a.m.) - I'd like to thank the puzzle for teaching me that this "bells" stuff is sailor-talk for time.
  • 63A: Donkey _____ (Kong) - mmmm, that's what I need. Take me back to a simpler time, when a quarter could get me Joan Jett on the jukebox and another quarter could get me countless hours of electronic ape-fighting.
  • 3D: Doonesbury's daughter in "Doonesbury" (Alex) - news to me.
  • 4D: Takeout alternative (tv dinner) - do they make these anymore? And if they do, do they actually call them TV DINNERs? Seems so ... pre-1980, somehow.
  • 5D: 1950s-'70s Chevy (Bel Air) - had no idea. The final piece in my crazy northern puzzle. I thought I had seen every make of car I would ever see in a puzzle. Guess not. These seem to have been discontinued before my time (i.e. before makes of cars became part of my vocabulary).
  • 6D: Jump and a twist (axel) - Where is the first indefinite article? Odd. Anyway, I'm grateful for this clue, as it helped me start to undo the north.
  • 7D: Do trailers? (re mi) - in the end, I have to give it up for this clue. I Hated it when I was in the middle of solving, because I couldn't make it work. I thought the answer was SEMI for a while (trailers ... tractor trailers ... semis ... ). But once I got it, I had to acknowledge its cleverness.
  • 21D: Nighttime scavenger, informally (coon) - [Nighttime scavenger, hillbillily]
  • 28D: Doleful air (dirge) - Never did like "air" for "song," though it's obviously perfectly legitimate. I always think of "air" as something, well, AIRy, or light, so DIRGE seems out of place here.
  • 29D: Buck _____, first African-American coach in Major League Baseball (O'Neil) - interesting O'NEIL choice. I like it. After a career in the Negro Leagues with the Kansas City Monarchs, O'NEIL was hired as a coach (not The coach) by the Cubs in 1962.
  • 37D: Campus digs (dorm room) - I weirdly miss dorm life. An idyllic, privileged existence.
  • 40D: Italian sweetie (cara) - I had CARO, which is a syrup (nope, that's KARO).
  • 48D: Fitch of Abercrombie & Fitch (Ezra) - Long Island kids love their mall gear. A&F and Hollister and Aeropostale, plastered across their chests like they were team names. Why? Why do otherwise bright and shiny young people insist on wearing what is essentially a uniform that says "I Shop At The Mall."
  • 52D: Tic-tac-toe choice (x or o) - not only my least favorite answer of the puzzle, but possibly my least favorite answer of the year. I can't even speak about it.
  • 54D: Trolled (sang) - this word is completely out of concert, aesthetically, with its meaning. I just imagine a bunch of really ugly monsters who live under a bridge singing barbershop quartet.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

126 comments:

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

the stars are symbolic of states on the US flag

jannieb 8:23 AM  

I had many of the same problems as RP. The theme is clunky and the word "portmanteau" really had me thinking luggage - kept groping for travel puns or synonyms for tote bags. Gave up and just started working the crosses. Have been to Oahu so the H1 H2 was a gimme. Am over 40 so also knew the BelAir - it was a classic and a most sought-after collectible. Only fill I really liked was "max out" which came in a rare flash of insight. But then I started second-guessing myself. Some really obscure (Fri or Sat) names - Alex, O'Neil , Ezra - but I guess fair game for a Thursday. Not a really fun outing. Oh well, I guess we're now all prepped for the weekend.

jannieb 8:29 AM  

Forgot to mention "remi" which never made sense but had to be correct. Thanks to RP I now get it!

Spencer 8:37 AM  

Yah, H1 and H2 are the "interstate" highways of Hawaii.

I've heard, at some point in my life, the phrase "drum X out of town".

On Putomayo river, c'mon. It's "clearly" a S. American river, and there are only so many 4-letter S. American countries. (One?) My problem was that I had ACT instead of OPT, so I couldn't fit in PERU. Eventually, I had to drop ACT because it didn't fit the other crosses, either, and then PERU just dropped right in.

parshutr 8:46 AM  

One is drummed out of military service, i.e. while your rank is being ripped off your uniform and thrown on the ground, there is a constant rdrdrdrdrd on the snare drum.
And "til" is not the proper spelling of the abbreviation for until (clued badly as "up to"). That would be 'till, which is only an abbreviation when spoken; takes the same number of keystrokes.
Weirdly, I had very little trouble with this one...some days it's good to be an old codger, going on 68.

wendy 8:56 AM  

Although I'm not going on 68, yet, I am old enough to have gotten my first kiss in a BEL AIR.

And I invite you to my music blog to read about and then hear the best ever incorporation of the word CARA into a song: Jay and the Americans' Cara Mia.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

I'm with parshutr, I think you just have to be a little older to work this one. The only thing that seriously hung me up was "trolled." He didn't mean "trilled"? There's trolling in fishing, some kind of dragging of a line, but I don't think I'm familiar with a meaning that connotes song.

But really, what else could Burns and Cowper be but either "POETS" or "BARDS" in four letters? And "drum out of the service" is accepted usage. Any highway starting with H should connote Hawaii, and again -- four letters. "No, I certainly do not" is a standard old-fashioned phrase, just the sort of thing that outraged everyone here earlier this week ("Oh, my stars," "Heavens to Betsy," etc.). Te-Amo cigars have a hyphen because that's how their manufacturers label them. "NOVA" hung me up for a while; I wanted "DIVA." Putumayo River -- I agree with the previous poster -- clearly South American, and four letters leave only one real choice.

But I never really pegged to the "pormanteau" thing, having forgotten the Carroll reference. Had to get it from crossing letters without really understanding it. Still -- Rex -- the "DelMarVa" peninsula (beloved of TV weather forecasters) is the one that has Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia on it, and Delmar must be a town in that area that is the same kind of . . . what is it? Oh, yeah, "portmanteau."

SethG 9:03 AM  

Agree with many of Rex's comments, though I again had a multi-minute improvement in my best time for the day. (At this rate, I'll be D-pool in no time!)

Had OR- and just filled in the TS when I saw morsels, but I'd have seen it before if the Fitch guy was Atra so that got fixed pretty quickly. Figured it was DRUM but, even knowing the expression (from OATERs?) I have to think hard about how it works with the clue's Really Bad Wording. Had to think about the PLOP/PUG cross for a while. And the NO I partial was particularly painful.

I'm about Rex's age, and I got BELAIR _right away_ from just the E thanks to this. (Start from 8:00 for the clip, at 7:30 if you want some more context. Warning: oaths.)

Rex Parker 9:08 AM  

The fact that the answer can be nothing but PERU does not change it from being "news to me" (which is literally all I said). I'm not sure how you can disagree with the fact that I didn't know something. Weird. Nobody said it wasn't fair, or that it was particularly hard to figure out.

Sandy 9:09 AM  

There is also a ZEBRA in Madagascar, which fits very nicely with the AXEL cross. I was so proud of that, and couldn't let it go for for the longest time.
Rex had to explain to me at breakfast that the themes were actual place names. Me: "oh, comma, Mexico!" I thought there was some suitcase thing going on that I was just ignorant of. Turns out I was just ignorant of something else. See, they quizzed me on the star/flag symbolism in my citizenship test, but not the crazy border towns.

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

Well, I have to go along with Rex, there, the Peruvian river definitely was news to me, however obvious.

parshutr 9:19 AM  

my worst guess was DORR as states, symbolically...getting too xwordy, with having been burned by RANDR, now able to guess XORO...
And thanks to anonymous about trolled/trilled. Got SANG from crosses, but my SANG is sufficiently FROID these early-spring, snowy days.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

I only wish we could get a little snow. It was 72 here the other morning before dawn. And once summer starts, it won't let up until October.

KONG held me up for the longest time, though it occurred to me, because I insisted on "LEAPED IN" for "dove" instead of "PEACENIK." And then "SANG" never did click, still hasn't. Does anyone else get "trolled"?

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

I think Rex got up on the wrong side of the bed this am. I liked the puzzle but then Thursdays are always my favorite day. I'm surprised TEAT didn't ruin his breakfast! Pormanteaus are fairly common in crosswords but I always have to work one out before I remember what the word means. After I saw the first two themes were cities, I just knew texarkana was in there someplace...

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

Theme is a bit tepid for a Thursday but not too shabby.

Personally found the fill fairly decent -- even to contain a few gems (like PEACENIK and TV DINNER, which I thought were great -- and no I don't mean the entrees).

Which reminds me -- a better clue for NO I would have been 'there's -- - in team.' IMHO, anyway.

Lastly, I liked that DORM ROOM is 'paired' with STREAKED. Always assumed such things happened on campus before I went to one -- disappointed when I discovered it didn't (more crowded house than animal house).

Megan P 9:50 AM  

"TROLL the ancient yule-tide carol, falalalalalalalala."

Rex is the 3rd best blogger in the Universe (my children have blogs), but I agree with one of the anonymouses - not in the perfect mood to meet up with this particular puzzle.

PhillySolver 9:55 AM  

@ megan

somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind I knew I had reason to accept TROLL...thank you.

Ulrich 9:56 AM  

I also liked this puzzle. Maybe b/c I had an easier time with it than yesterday. Really liked the clue for "star"--got it in a few seconds. Also liked the unusual high number of x's. Had heard of all towns (Texarcana from a cottonfields song sung by harry Belafonte) except for the Kansas one, but got "Kanorado" entirely through crosses and was intrigued how this weird name gradually emerged.

Looked up what "portmanteau" could mean other than a suitcase and found this: a new word formed by joining two others and combining their meanings; "'smog' is a blend of 'smoke' and 'fog'"; "'motel' is a portmanteau word made by combining 'motor' and 'hotel'"; "'brunch' is a well-known portmanteau".

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

"Trolled" has got to be wrong: does the Times admit to typos?

Orange 10:04 AM  

Parshutr, until can be shorted to till (no apostrophe) or 'til (with apostrophe). Esthetically, I have a strong preference for 'til. That extra L in till bugs me.

The Putumayo River is not so well-known in America, I don't think. Putumayo is also the name of a world music record label...that gets its name from the Colombian river valley. Peru has to share it.

Orange 10:06 AM  

Anonymous 9:56: See several comments before yours for a "Deck the Halls" citation. Or see def. 3 in this dictionary.

PhillySolver 10:08 AM  

One degree of separation with apologies to Rex for mentioning these creepy words...

Portmanteau words were one of the specialties of Shakespeare and Lewis Carrol followed suit. (In the vain of fortnight for fourteen plus nights and chortle - chuckle plus snort.) It is in recent times that we have created a spate of these new entries in the dictionary. What would we call this meeting place without portmanteau skills? Blog = web + log for example, and all of those E words (Etail, Email, Efile etc.) came from that very process. We created sexcapades to cover the weekly scandals and what about nit? (Naperian digit) Hundreds of words are hiding out there far removed from their Portmanteau origination. Like these 'factoids?'

Scott 10:10 AM  

I had a different (and equally frustrating) difficulty in the north. Had DEMO for "do trailers?" as in "make movie trailers". With this mistake, and a lack of Cowper knowledge, I could not quite finish :(.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

I thought today was easier than most Thursdays, but was thinking rebus at first when I had only TVD on 4D. Rebus for me is not usually a good sign.

With all due respect to Rex, I liked XORO, which seems no different to me than RANDR or AANDW, etc.

I made a mistake on 40D/ 40A. I don't know dogs, so I thought CARA was PARA, as in paramour.

7D got me as well, as I too was thinking SEMI, really didn't want the answer to be BARDS for 5A.

Joe in NE

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

I actually really liked this puzzle... in college a portmanteau was made of my name and my best friend's name, as the two of us were inseparable for a period. As a result, it's one of my favorite 25 cent words. And on a recent roadtrip across the country, I actually drove by Kanorado, KS and have previously driven through Delmar, DE so believe it or not those were gimmes!

Rex Parker 10:19 AM  

X OR O is way way way different from RANDR or AANDW, in that you would say the latter - they are self-standing phrases that are in the language - where you would Never say XORO. Ever. Please try to imagine the situation wherein you would say it. You cannot. Further, saying that X OR O is a [Tic-tac-toe choice] is like saying that WHITE is a [Chess choice]. You are Xs or you are Os, and the only thing you "choose" is where to put your letter.

rp

Rex Parker 10:21 AM  

Sorry, that example should probably be WHITEORBLACK for consistency's sake.

rp

Patrick 10:22 AM  

My beef with this is that the "portmanteau" answers aren't true portmanteaus, they're just concatenations of town and state. I resisted mexicali+mexico for ages because I thought it was too simple. Also, is "orzo" a plural?

John Reid 10:31 AM  

I'm assuming that I have to put it down partially to luck, but this was the quickest solve I've had for a Thursday. 6:09. Somehow I was just in the crossword zone last night. First word I put in was LEMUR and I was lucky enough not to get stuck the whole way through.

The easiest part of the puzzle for me was the whole right hand side of the grid. I was able to go right down there from top to bottom. Once the theme became evident, it really helped a lot too, because once all the state names were there on the right, I could fill in the beginning several letters of each of the theme entries. In fact, I think it was the theme that made this a quick puzzle for me. Those first 3 letters of the theme answers really helped me get moving on the left side.

Looking forward to the next few days. Let's see what they throw at us!

@Rex - Your blog is the greatest!

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Many thanks for explanations of strange answers. Could not figure out what remi was. Had FEMA for awhile, which I kinda liked, but then what was BAFDS?!!?

Ulrich 10:39 AM  

@patrick: Mexicali (Mexico+California), Kanorado (Kansas+Colorado), Texarcana (Texas+Arkansas), Delmar (Delaware+Maryland--not good enough?

miriam b 10:43 AM  

One of those "night scavengers" was apparently prowling around on my porch roof in the wee hours, causing my cats to go bananas and knock over a night stand. Despite being sleep depriveed, I finished the puzzle (without much enjoyment, I mus admit).

parshutr 10:47 AM  

Dear Orange,
Try finding til or 'til as a contraction for until in a dictionary or encyclopedia. I couldn't. Or could not.
Jeez, I'm stuck in TRUE GRIT with the little girl who would not use contractions.

parshutr 10:49 AM  

dear ulrich, it's TexarKana, and the MM character was Sugar Kane.

pdizzle 10:52 AM  

The theme is incorrectly clued in my opinion! Cities like Texarcana, Mexicali, and Delmar don't really seem like TRUE portmanteas to me. A portmanteau combines two words, blending the beginning of one into the end of another. Brunch or infomercial, e.g. Texarcana, Delmar, and Mexicali just take the beginnings of two places and slap them together. The key is the OVERLAPPING of two words. Three of the four theme answers fail in that regard.

Rex Parker 10:53 AM  

TIL is perfectly acceptable, if only because it's been in many different movie / book titles. You don't have to like it, but it's in common usage. And I have no idea who you're calling "little girl," but I hope (for your sake) that it's not Orange.

rp

PuzzleGirl 10:54 AM  

Had a pretty easy time except for that RE MI part. Like Rex, had SEMI for a while, but that clearly wasn't working. Finally figured out it had to be RE MI but didn't understand the meaning until I came here.

I can't believe I'm going to admit this to all of you, but I had no idea what a portmanteau was. I thought it had something to do with wine. Ha! So it took me a while to figure out the theme.

I have driven through the Delmarva Peninsula several times, and probably zipped right through Delmar, now that I think about it. It's right Exactly on the border of Delaware and Maryland, so its residents probably do know they're living in a Portmanteau Town. Although some of them might not know what portmanteau means and think it has something to do with wine.

Like Sandy, I had ZEBRA instead of LEMUR for a while. I also had ALERTS for ALARMS the first time through.

I'm with Orange on the TILL/'TIL controversy. It's officially a controversy now, right?

I thought X OR O was kind of cute, but now that I've read Rex's explanation of why it stinks, I hate it.

I also had trouble with CORGI. I obviously don't know my dogs. I had the CO--- so wanted it to be COLLIE and wondered if COLLY was an accepted spelling.

The TV DINNER answer reminded me of sleeping over at Grandma's house back in the 70s and being treated to Swanson's chicken dinners. I distinctly remember watching the very first episode of Saturday Night Live at one such sleepover and thinking "Samurai bellhop? This is the dumbest show I've ever seen." (I was 10.)

ronathan 10:57 AM  

I thought that the theme was pretty clear, and easy. But maybe that's because a) I've been to MEXICALI MEXICO, b) I've driven past DELMAR DELAWARE on I-95 after visiting my folks in NY, and c) my girlfriend is actually from TEXARKANA TEXAS (she squealed when I showed her this puzzle). I admit I didn't know 25A (KANORADO KANSAS), but managed to get it from crosses.

Can someone explain 7D (RE MI) to me? I still don't get it, pardon my ignorance. Really wanted SEMI to work, like Rex.

Also got hung up in the NE because I wanted 19A to be TINK, not TING (TINK, to me, sounds more like the noise made when you clang crystal, hence the name "Tinkerbell" from Peter Pan, etc.). Also don't really understand 13D (PUG). Isn't a "Palooka" someone who is bad at sports, particularly boxing? What does that have to do with a PUG?

And finally, I have to say I found 41D "Team letters" (SWAT) to be very clever. Not sure why, but I chuckled when I got it.

Cheers,
ronathan :-)

Ulrich 11:02 AM  

@parshutr: Thanks a lot. I've never seen any of this written, only spoken (like "just about a mile from Texarkana" in the Bellafonte song that is now playing in my head)--but the k in Arkansas should have told me something. So, I had a mistake in my puzzle--darn!

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

The lemur is endemic to Madagascar. If you find them anywhere else they weren't introduced there naturally. If you haven't seen the movie and knew this (like me), that clue was a gimme.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

So testy today -- afraid to post any comment for fear of getting smacked!

parshutr 11:07 AM  

Rex,
I was referring to the character Mattie Ross in the movie "True Grit" played by Kim Darby [had to go to IMDB]. Not calling Orange.
And if you think TIL is acceptable, then it's good enuf 4 me. I'm only the 2,095,325th best xworder in the Universe. Or maybe even lower.
ronathan, "re" and "me" trail "do" in naming the notes c, d, e...

Natalie Portmanteau 11:09 AM  

I enjoyed this one. Just challenging enough to be meaty. I love it when I don't know the answer (e.g. PERU), yet get enough clues form crosses, and the feel of the whole thing, to know my answer is correct ('course, the opposite sometimes happens).

Surprised to learn about Corgis. They just don't look the part to me. Deceptively fast?

And XORO! One of my favorites. Loved the cape, the whip, the sign of the "X", the whole dealio.

- NP

@Wendy -- thanks for the link, great site.

Frances 11:14 AM  

I'm with Ronathan, in the dark about REMI. Thanks to Parshutr for making it explicit.

Incidentally, is Ronathan a portmanteau for Robert/Nathan?

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

With Orange on the 'til 'troversy. Apparently there is a film recently released entitled 'Til Death,' and terrible as it looks, it nonetheless bolsters claims of TIL being 'in the language,' as they say.

(However I do also remember once looking for an example of TIL in the dictionary and being surprised when one was not to be found, as Parshutr said. Anyone know if TIL is in a Scrabble Dictionary?).

As for X or O -- this might possibly work within a context of 'team' sides -- such as upon the playboards used in American football. It'd still be weak, but better than what is.

SethG 11:23 AM  

@parshutr, et al:

Til and 'til are in lots of dictionaries.

And Humpty Dumpty's example to Alice of "slithy means 'lithe and slimy'" being "like a portmanteau--there are two meanings packed up into one word" doesn't require the beginning of one word, end of another.

Joaneee 11:24 AM  

@patrick - I think ORZO is like rice or sugar - a collective noun. Orzos sounds sort of hilarious. I agree with everything RP said about this puzzle (except medium-challenging). I thought it was easy-med but extremely annoying.

ronathan 11:27 AM  

"ronathan, "re" and "me" trail "do" in naming the notes c, d, e..."

Thanks parshutr, for the explanation. I'm now smacking my head for being so dense. I don't know why I didn't see that.

to Frances:
"Incidentally, is Ronathan a portmanteau for Robert/Nathan?"
Nope, actually its a portmanteau for Ron and Jonathan, my first and middle names. Another reason why I liked the theme today.

Cheers,
ronathan :-)

Bill from NJ 11:29 AM  

@Rex -

DELMARDELAWARE is a town on the Maryland-Delaware state line, hence Del-Mar. It is coincidental that Delmar is Spanish for "of the sea."

FWIW, there is another town in Delaware called Marydel for the same reason

Patrick 11:29 AM  

@ulrich: OK, I get it now. I never knew that Mexicali was MEXIco+CALIfornia etc. My excuse is that I'm not American nor do I live there (so I also find most of the sporting references particularly hard :-).

Anyway, no-one has answered my question about "orzo". I know it means barley, but that's an uncountable noun, like rice or wheat (or laughter or software). Would anyone accept "rice" as as answer to "paella morsels"?

Bflohl 11:31 AM  

Put me down on the side of "it was pretty good--Rex was grumpy."

Also on the side of didn't get "remi" until coming here. For those who still are in the dark, it's the notes of the musical scale--do re mi fa so la ti do.

I also disagree that "bard" should be reserved for Shakespeare. Burns is widely known as the Bard of Scotland.

I knew UNLV so TV dinner came easy.

parshutr 11:34 AM  

orzo is pasta.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Wow. Lots of 'TIL. Thanks for link.

Dictionary used here is a 'concise' OED which doesn't (and surprisingly, IMHO) list TIL (at least not as a var. of TILL).

Nor could I readily find 'til with a google search...did find the film though...which was GEFM.

ds 11:47 AM  

I also had problems in the north; spent a lot of time trying to think of a Chevy beginning with "P" - I had POETS instead of BARDS to begin with. AXEL helped me finally get it.

I also thank Rex for the explanation for DO - RE MI; had it but didn't get it until today.

And speaking of songs by Rogers and Hammerstein, the reason I knew "DRUM" was from the South Pacific song "I'm gonna wash that man right outta my hair" - the lyrics go in part:
"Rub him out of the roll call
And drum him out of your dreams"

Mary 12:03 PM  

I have new respect for the Corgi. Trying to picture a pack of them herding cattle. I had no idea. On those little stumpy legs? Maybe I'll get me one and name him Rowdy.

Once I got the theme I was hoping for an appearance of Florabama. No dice.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

The Web tells me: "Troll: To sing in succession the parts of (a round, for example)." And of course I've heard "Troll the ancient yuletide carol," but evidently it made no impression on me, because I still couldn't associate the word with singing, only with fishing, or funny little guys under bridges. Nice to know.

I actually tried "ORZI" first, but it didn't work.

Who can forget 'Til Tuesday and "Voices Carry"?

@wkl

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

Parshutr: 'til (as a contraction of until) is in the Webster's Third New International Dictionary; til -- with various obscure meanings -- is in many dictionaries, including the OED. But as clues, the latter definitions are more appropriate for Saturday puzzles.

Rex: watch three randomly chosen pre-1960 westerns; two of them will use the phrase "he was run out of town" or "run him out of town." So it is an in-the-language (and relatively old) usage. Having said this, I don't much like the clue because the two phrases "run out of" and "drum out of" are never used interchangeably, even though they mean the same thing. You run someone out of town, but you drum him out of an organization or society.

SDS

john 12:18 PM  

Loved the puzzle today. Excellent and fun as far as I'm concerned.

Too bad you can't appreciate it.

Eugene 12:20 PM  

My parents first car was a 1954 Chevy, the basic model, which it looks like just had a number identifier. But the fancier model, which my sister and I wanted us to get, was the Bel Air. So that was an easy one.
The VERY FIRST CHOICE one makes in tic-tac-toe is "do you want to be X or O". I don't understand how Rex can argue that.

Rex Parker 12:23 PM  

XS OR OS, maybe. Not the singular.

And John, yes, it is too bad I can't appreciate this puzzle. No one laments that fact more than I. Thanks for your sincere, non-condescending concern. I appreciate it.

rp

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

Natalie
Corgis were developed in Wales as cattle herders. They can be very quick, but the fact that they're so low to the ground helps them avoid the cow's high rear kick since they usually work as heelers.

Orange 12:36 PM  

In the XORO poll at my blog, there are five or six yea votes, one nay, one neutral (who prefers XS OR OS), and one undecided (the latter is me). Add in the nay votes here, and the consensus is...no consensus.

60+ comments by lunchtime! Criminy.

ArtLvr 12:42 PM  

I liked this one, and had no trouble with TROLLED because of XMAS carols. Also, the BARD'S "Parting is such sweet sorrow til it be morrow" from Romeo and Juliet notably validates the TIL... As for "do RE MI", we saw this scale-syllables' song "Doe, a Deer" from The Sound of Music just last week!

Had LEMUR among ny first answers since I was always enchanted with the huge eyes of these nocturnal creatures, so the cross of DRUM as in "Drum out of the Corps" was easy. My last was PUG/PLOP/POTION in the NE -- fun words, but I was originally thinking "lug" and "lotion" which gave a kind of LOL non-fit. (Pug from pugilist, or squashed face of a small dog?) I'm sorry X OR O found some less than receptive: I thought it was great as the choice you make before starting a game of TicTacToe.

My all-time favorite portmanteau is "Woodstein" which came from the Washington Post's Watergate team of journalists, Woodward and Bernstein. Would that they were still on the job!

∑;)

jae 12:42 PM  

I liked this more than Rex and found it relatively easy, however, as I filled in the BELAIR, ALEX, UNLV, and GUAM gimmes (for me) I wondered if this was going to be tough for some. That said, I hesitated with DRUM because it felt forced and had to stare at REMI (also started with SEMI) for a couple of minutes before the scale thing dawned.

Until today I thought the only definition for portmanteau was a valise but the theme became apparent with MEXICALI which made solving go pretty quickly.

@ulrich -- I also had to correct the C for K typo in ARKANA.

That wasn't THE Natalie Portman was it??

Kate 12:43 PM  

I liked this one a lot. Figured out REMI quickly. I knew CARA because Gomez Addams used to call Morticia "Cara mia." And names with "mayo" at the end are usually Peruvian, PERU import shops are always called stuff like "Putamayo" or "Indomayo" or some such.

Ulrich 12:54 PM  

On Orange's blog, the constructor posted a link to a Wikipedia list of border town portmanteaux, among which is

Virgilina (Virginia+N. Carolina)

--had to share this.

miriam b 1:06 PM  

Re 13D: Please tell me that I'm not the only one sufficiently superannuated to remember the comic strip Joe Palooka. Joe, as I recall, was a rather simple-minded prizefighter. His surname was Palooka (the cartoonist's notion of a Polish name, I think). I didn't regularly follow this strip, which I suppose was more of a male kid thing. The main detail I remember is that Joe had a young relative who wore a derby and slept in a bureau drawer. I'm afraid I'm going to have to Google this, busy as I am today, just to see how accurate my recollection is.

Along with other animals (CORGI, LEMUR, GOAT, PUG (stretching it), my sign showed up: LEO.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

Remember playing tic-tac-toe on the condensation on our school bus window. I'm sure someone would pass by and ask "You X or O?" New treatment, at least for me, of clues for AXEL and AERIE. Not the tired and true 'skaters leap' and 'hawks perch'.
No trouble with this puzzle and enjoyed it though agree it was a bit spotty, Rex. (Argued with my Harpur English prof 50 years ago - and lost.)
JJ

Blue Stater 1:33 PM  

I agree with Rex as to the low quality of this puzzle, but even so I'd have to rank it easy-medium. What made it more difficult than it might otherwise have been were the lame cluing and straining after trickiness and difficulty for their own sakes.

radioguy 1:38 PM  

Buck O'Neil was a Cubs coach during the dreadful "College of Coaches" experiment hatched by Cubs owner Philip Wrigley in the early 60s. The team had eight coaches, several of whom would take turns managing the team for 2-3 weeks at a team. To say the experiment was a disaster is a vast understatement.

Before he was a Cubs coach, O'Neil played in the Negro Leagues, rooming with Satchel Paige. Few knew much about O'Neil until he was featured prominently in Ken Burns' "Baseball" documentary in 1994. Ever since, many have advocated for O'Neil's admission into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He died in 2006, a few weeks shy of his 95th birthday.

Rikki 1:39 PM  

I've missed a load of puzzles in the last week and I'm in bed with a cold and jetlagged, so just to have a puzzle in front of me was fun. This particular one was fine with me since it was obvious to me what SEA was going for in the theme and I got them all quickly, giving me lots of crosses. It goes to show the subjectivity of puzzling because I thought the fill felt fresh, starting with big kid? I liked potion and knew the H was for Hawaii. Was totally tricked by do trailers. Loved it. Also loved palooka/pug. I remember Palooka Joe. Pug is one of my favorite words. I love the Edward-G-Robinson feel of it, and the dogs look just as the word implies. I don't think of palooka and pug as synonymous, though. A palooka is an inept boxer, and pug is synonymous with boxer. So palookas are a subset of boxers. That would require a venn diagram as opposed to a tree.

Ding dong! Avon calling.

Streaked and dormroom took me right back to the streaker years of college. Yes, it really did happen. I'm sure some of you must have been eating dinner at Simmons College in Boston when dozens (or so it seemed) naked MIT men ran through the dining hall. They also annually ran by our dormitories (right down the street from Fenway Park, Rex) with panties on their heads as part of their freshman initiation. These were the best and brightest young men of our nation. Cmon, fess up, just one of you. Anyone?

My dad drove Chevies and we had a Biscayne, the lowend Bel Air station wagon. @Wendy, I also had my first date in a '57 Bel Air (it was 12 year old, I was 15).

Sugar Kane was a gimme. Some Like it Hot is one of my top ten movies. A flawless film with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon at their best. Treat yourself to a tv dinner and a bag of popcorn and watch this movie if you haven't seen it.

Joon 1:40 PM  

liked the puzzle. reasonably tight theme, and a fair amount of cool fill (TVDINNER and MAXOUT were my favorites). also enjoyed the 45-degree-mirrored AVON/NOVA crossing. reminded me of a puzzle i was doing recently where i really, really wanted to put CHINA for both 2D and 14A, meeting each other at the H. (the clues were "bowl" and "indo-___.") i think in the end, neither one was CHINA.

i also liked that there were new (to me) clues for many non-new answers (EZRA, ALEX, PERU, AXEL, ONEAM). not sure if this is stephen's doing or will's, but kudos to both.

ORZO is pasta and, like many words derived from italian, seems to be its own plural. you wouldn't say SPAGHETTIS (though you would say UHOHSPAGHETTIOS).

commented about this over on orange's blog, but i'll ask here too: how do people feel about the ? on the "fire starter?" clue? the idea, i guess, is that PYRO- is a prefix (hence "starter?") meaning fire. but it's also true that PYRO is a slangy shortening of PYROMANIAC, so PYRO by itself literally means "fire starter." that seems to make the ? a red herring, at least in my view.

Doris 2:01 PM  

Liked ds's reference to "drum him out of your dreams" from "South Pacific," which I'm going to see soon in a new revival at Lincoln Center. My knowledge of "drum" came from one of my favorite books, Chapter VII of "Through the Looking-Glass":

`The Lion and the Unicorn were fighting for the crown:
The Lion beat the Unicorn all round the town.
Some gave them white bread, some gave them brown:
Some gave them plum-cake and drummed them out of town.'

Ladel 2:06 PM  

The art of the rant. It took Freud a while to figure out that 50% of psychotherapy was just listening, and by doing so the patient could self-cure. Rex, you are one of the best ranters ever, and by extension getting healthier every day. Oh, the puzzle, I agree with your rant, puzzles of this type usually only show up bound in a book with other losers for $10 at a bookstore.

puzzlemensch 2:17 PM  

I got the H1 H2 answer immediately because back in the early '70s I managed the research and writing of the Environmental Impact Statement for these Interstate highways along with H3, also on Oahu. The project involved my flying overnight to Honolulu from New York to meet the Governor and then turning around and flying back to NY the next day. Then, of course, as with almost every highway related EIS in those days, I had to go back to Honolulu to defend our air quality analysis in court. My team and I (three of us Ph.D.s) created the first mathematical model for the dispersion of pollutants along highways. We won the case, but I'm happy not to be doing that work anymore—not very green!
I had POETS for Burns and Cowper and then when the B showed up in 5D, I changed it to BRITS. Boy did that make trouble.
American Heritage Dictionary for trolled: "To sing in succession the parts of a round." "To sing heartily." Double yuck!

Fergus 2:37 PM  

I knew a woman from MEXICALI, right across the border from CALEXICO, in the humble Imperial Valley.

One more yea for X OR O, but votes against PLOP and TING, the latter being what I thought was a Martin Amis coinage for some sugary beverage. Not that exciting, but I love his car inventions, like the Autocrat or the Fiasco.

ronathan 2:46 PM  

Yeah, I still say that TINK would have been a better answer instead of TING, although technically both mean essentially the same thing (and of course, only TING works with the cross). I wonder, is "TINK" more of an onomatopoeia (making it perhaps less "acceptable") whereas "TING" is an actual verb (as in TINGING; don't think you can actually say TINKING).

Cheers,
ronathan

Frances 3:05 PM  

Depends on the quality of crystal. Not-very-good crystal goes "tink" but the good stuff sustains the sound, more like "ting." The quality of the silver doesn't matter.

karmasartre 3:34 PM  

Once upon a time, before they became a label-on-the-outside clothing store, about five ownership groups ago, Abercrombie and Fitch was a wonderful outdoors-gear oriented store on Post in San Francisco. On the first floor (among other treasures) were wooden toys (e.g. Labyrinth), imported from Europe, available for playing with, and delightful...I was 11 years old and remember thinking so. On the fifth floor (or maybe the roof?) was the large casting pool, for trying out rods and reels before purchase. Great stuff. Some of the future owners/expanders kept the leather hippopotamus footstools on sale, but I don't know if that's still the case, as I can't get through the door of the local Mall version due to the "music".

For any SF-ites, it was in the location which later became EBauer for a decade or so.

We still have Abercrombie and Kent.

@jae -- No, not THE one.

Catherine K 3:44 PM  

For "Issue pikes and poleaxes, for example", all I could picture was someone handing out equipment for rock-climbing.

For "trolled", I was trying to think of a word to describe a creepy loser trying to pick up women in a bar.

I've been an "Avon lady" for nine years, and in all those years, they have never changed the Skin So Soft scent. It still smells like Pine Sol. Ugh.

Being Canadian (well, non-American I guess) can definitely have its disadvantages in trying to solve some clues, and when the theme is all US-related, it's a bear!

OAHU was a gimme for me though - go figure. Having been there and rented a car and driven both highways helped.

And I knew GUAM right away too. Hmm!

I really like REMI, thought it was clever, but had no idea what it meant until today. "D'oh! trailers..."

I still don't know what UNLV stands for - too lazy to look it up. But I'm sure it's had its share of streakers. Runnin' Rebels - haha.

I thought "Sit heavily" = PLOP was gross. It makes you not want to let heavy friends sit on your furniture.

I groaned out loud at 22d "$hopping season?" That was a little too cheesy.

I like that Katie Holmes (25D) was clued in a way that had nothing to do with Tom Cruise. TomKat - there's a Hollywood portmanteau from hell.

Orange 4:01 PM  

All you TING haters, take note of the dictionary definition of ting: "n., A single light metallic sound, as of a small bell. intr.v., To give forth a light metallic sound." Tink isn't in the good, current dictionaries online, and ring is a much broader word. Remember: When the constructor and editor are assessing an answer and clue's acceptability, dictionaries pull a lot of weight.

There's also a variety of chips by the Pirate's Booty people called Tings—they're sort of like cheeseless, orange-free Cheetos, crispy crunchy corn snacks. They're kinda yummy. No crappy additives.

chefbea 4:02 PM  

as for xoro. before you begin tic-tac-toe dont you have to choose which you want to be? x-or-o

and please explain remi? I thought it was trailers as in films and this makes no sense

Jon 4:16 PM  

I personally would have enjoyed this puzzle much more if the portmanteau hook utilized fictitious place names as opposed to some that were obscure (Kanorado?), but real.

Maybe Georama (some kind of hollow globe), Colohoma (an eye disease), Alada (an obscure airline, but Alaska and Canada probably don't work well regardless), Wyaho (umm... maybe not for the NYT), or New Jerk (my favorite being from NY).

These are craptacular examples, but still, I would have enjoyed it more.

chefbea 4:19 PM  

i now understand the remi. thanks for everyone's explanation

doc John 4:55 PM  

This is what happens when I wait too long to do the puzzle- everyone has already said what I was going to say (OK, almost everything)! I was going to mention Calexico and PYRO (which was my favorite fill of the day). Also, the Hawaii highways are numbered like they are because they are part of the interstate system but unless someone builds a really long bridge, they'll never truly be inter-state. So they get their own numbering system. Not sure if the same holds true for Alaska or not.

TEXARKANA- a great song by R.E.M. on their album "Out of Time" (the same one with "Losing My Religion").

@ Catherine: UNLV- U of Nevada, Las Vegas. Most famous for their basketball team (I guess) and ex-coach, towel-biting Jerry Tarkanian.

Ah, "Some Like it Hot". It is a favorite of San Diegans like myself due to its taking place at the beautiful Hotel Del Coronado (said to be the world's largest wooden structure). And, as a San Diegan, we have our own DEL MAR, just north of La Jolla. It was interesting to see that name not meaning "of the sea".

I am surprised that many haven't heard of the BEL AIR- it seems to me to be the typical 50s car, used in lots of movies and posters. Usually in the color combo of aqua and white.

Finally, a thanks to Rex and others for clearing up my RE MI confusion. That R was my last letter entered and I still wasn't sure of it but "basds" just wasn't right. I stuck in the R and hoped for the best.

George 4:55 PM  

This puzzle annoyed me in many ways. What's with "$hopping season?" ? for example? Is there some kind of shopping that doesn't involve money? And why the question mark? Am I missing something clever here?

andrea carla michaels 5:06 PM  

i was not the least bit grumpy as I did the puzzle at midnight last night and yet once again, Rex could have taken every single word out of my mouth!!!!!!
Only thing (for me) to like about the puzzle were the multiple Xs.
My suspicion tho was that the KATIE holmes answer was indeed a nod to TomKat and might have origingally been clued that way
(Mr Cruise's portmanteau bitter half)
The whole idea would have been wonderful if they weren't so obscure, or if they didn't have to repeat the MEXICO and TEXAS.
(Tho who am I to talk when I did a BONDJAMESBOND puzzle?!)
But I do like the idea of having a puzzle that would have TEXMEX, BENNIFER, BRANGELINA...the concept I think was great, I just think the whole thing was very awkward and clumsy and dissatisfying...and I swear I'm in a good mood!

Gary 5:22 PM  

Got to the comments late today, so if someone already said it, I apologize. I didn't feel like reading through 87 posts! Each of the portmanteau answers is an actual town, made up of the mixing (portmanteau) of two state (or country) names. I thought it was an okay theme.

John in NC 5:22 PM  

The puzzle didn't really annoy me (except for the REMI) part, but it did seem to take me forever to finish. If Rex is still reading these comments, I just wanted to make sure that he didn't think the "too bad you couldn't enjoy it" comment didn't come from me, the John who can appreciate both Rex's annoyance and his comment about college dorm life, as we shared the latter...

John 5:23 PM  

I found the puzzle simple for a tuesday

Do re mi was great, the "r" was the only letter i missed

once the first part of the theme answers was gotten, the last letters were gimmes, which simplified the puzzle

X or O was clever also

rachel 5:44 PM  

Thanks to Megan P. for the exellent "troll" reference! I must have sang that a million times without ever wondering what it meant.

Anonymous 5:47 PM  

Rikki:

So it's true...once upon a time engineering students did stuff like that -- I've seen a few VW bugs suspended from bridges and stuff...but I'm pretty sure you get arrested and sent to prison these days for 'streaking.'

Well I did anyway.

Chip Ahoy 5:53 PM  

In Shreveport the weather stations would constantly refer to the "Arclatex" area. Along with "Texarkana," which never failed to leave me a little confused. Couldn't they just stick with a real map and leave out the made up ones? No.

Chip Ahoy 5:55 PM  

Also, I was kind of hoping the theme answers would include some word for a suitcase wedged in somehow.

Woo to the .puz, nice challenge.

PuzzleGirl 5:58 PM  

Here he comes
(look at dat, look at dat)
There he goes
(look at dat, look at dat)
And he ain't wearin' no clothes

Chip Ahoy 5:59 PM  

Cara mia is what Gomez Adams calls Morticia. Their family motto is also worth noting, used on Instapundit blog: Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc! = We gladly feast on those who would subdue us.

Fergus 6:11 PM  

Karmasartre, the store you described sounded exactly like the Orvis one, where I used to dally on occasion before heading back to the office in the mid 80s. Same place, under a succession of owners, or a different one?

andrea carla michaels 6:15 PM  

was just in Walgreens and saw a sign for COLORECTAL something or other and I thought, yes, that's exactly what this portmanteau-puzzle reminded me of!

karmasartre 6:33 PM  

@fergus -- same idea, different genesis. Based on the Bellevue one, looks like Orvis stuck to the concept.

Are we at 99 again?

dk 6:44 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
dk 6:44 PM  

Now 99, said Tom numerically.

Me, I thought portmanteau was english china :).

And... I wish I was on H1 or H2 today.

dk 6:46 PM  

gosh if you click on publish 3x look what happens. I ting its time for a glass of wine and a good oater.

Michael 6:57 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle and found it easy. It helped to have lived in Peru for a year and Hawaii for a summer and to like place names.

Madagascar is known for its lemurs.

I'm surprised about how many people disliked this one, which I would rate as above average. I especially like the xoro clue. No accounting for taste, I guess...

Ulrich 7:07 PM  

Since we are breaking a record, let me contribute and add one more notch: I'm surprised at the fervor with which people express their dislike of this puzzle--what's so offensive?

To me, like it or not, it's kinda harmless--so what's the big deal?

PuzzleGirl 7:16 PM  

@andrea: Colorectal. Ewww.

john 7:35 PM  

What the hell kind of a comment is that? The puzzle today reminded you of a "COLORECTAL something or other"? Is that supposed to be funny?

I don't know Stephen Anderson, but I've read his posts elsewhere and he seems like a pretty nice guy. Today he gets his first crossword puzzle in the paper, and good for him. Some folks like his puzzle, some do not. Fair enough. But I fail to understand why anyone would make want to make a comment like the one above. It's highly insulting. I'm surprised, and disappointed, to see it come from another crossword constructor.

- John Farmer

Anonymous 8:07 PM  

I'm with John. Blogs are anonymous, and anonymous postings can get a little mean if we're not extra careful with the tone -- it always looks a little harsher in print that one quite intends. Remember that the person you're talking about could be reading these posts. Would you want to email these kinds of comment to him directly? Or say them to his face?

BTW, I thought it was a perfectly fine puzzle, challenging and fair. Sometimes the fervor of response is surprising!

Lauren 8:08 PM  

Such vituperation today! Rex said "hate" six times in his original post and that set the tone. Who knew crosswords could be a blood sport? BTW, I loved the puzzle.

jannieb 8:45 PM  

I think the colorectal comment was merely pointing out another example of the theme - not meant to be a slam at the constructor.

jae 8:47 PM  

Just to keep this going -- @Mary -- I believe Florabama is a bar in Perdido Key, FL. and not an actual town. At least it was when I was down there on business on the strip between Pensacola and Gulf Shores.

@karma -- darn! I'm a huge fan of hers.

Anonymous 8:50 PM  

I'm not with John, which is odd, because I usually am. I think however that tonight, he has become that which he professes to hate.

Carla Michaels -- liked yer puzzle. Most people here realize you weren't trying to be 'nasty' -- but just funny.

Lo' there be some tight asses around - which is why you best post non-amissly from now on.

non-amiss

johnson 10:02 PM  

In Jamaica the public health clinics have signs outside which read "protect your TINGS, use a condom"

doc John 10:23 PM  

Isn't there a 7-Up kind of drink in Jamaica called Ting?

Bill from NJ 10:24 PM  

Found this puzzle to be "different", by which I mean full of archaic and exotic cluing.

We always seem to be complaining about ATRA and ETUI, crossword-puzzle-type-clues. I like dipping into a different part of my mind from time to time and dealing with pikes and poleaxes and BELAIR and TE-AME cigars.

After all, we're all about language, aren't we?

I thououghly enjoy coming up with some answer I had no idea was rattling around in my head.

It's all about expanding ones body of information, I suppose.

Anonymous 11:41 PM  

Heehee, y'all are hilarious! More fun even than the puzzle. I for one don't at all mind reading thru 114 posts to comment. VITUPERATION. That's great! And what's wrong with the colorectal comment? Puhleeeze! Made ME laugh. But the sweetest part is the rexalicious reminiscence of Joan Jett and the Electronic Ape.

Sincerely, Rock Rabbit (distant cousin of the Mad Hatter aka The Ever Tardy LAGomorph)

Orange 12:40 AM  

Yeah, but here's the thing: Joan Jett's song said to put another dime in the jukebox, baby, not a quarter. When the hell were jukeboxes a dime? I think that was before Joan Jett's time.

andrea carla michaels 3:15 AM  

yes, colorectal was another example of a portmanteau and it was just a synchronicitous sighting at Walgreens, and yes, indeed meant to be funny and not in any way vituperative or against a constructor...
oy...I'm getting it from all sides...
ironic, as I spent ten years as a standup and was never once evenheckled! in this Land of Blog that I am unfamiliar with all the rules i am being told to watch my step, apologize and on and on...
what a bore.
But I am not going to totally self-censor, altho it does bum me out to think I would hurt a constructor...
and if you'd re-read my post, I specifically made a self-putdown (about having a repeated theme, etc)
alas...will quake with fear when my next puzzle (ba ba ba bum if there IS a next puzzle) comes up for comment!
peace! ;)

pomegranate 3:16 AM  

Wow, a lot of posts today. Have been away for a while and return to quite a merry crowd.

I wonder if this was inspired by the recent advertisement campaign for a telephone company (Cingular??) that features syllables from various cities/countries mashed together to create "amusing" new names. I hated these commercials. Maybe that explains my dislike for this puzzle.

Timothy Bryson 11:46 AM  

Mexicali is the capital of Baja California, Mexico and is quite familiar to people in my area, San Diego, California. I am always frustrated with references to the northeast area of the US as I am a Southern Californian. I take pleasure in seeing a local reference giving New Yorkers fits! Mexicali was the key to this puzzle for me.

Rex Parker 12:10 PM  

Most people doing the puzzle across the country are not, in fact, "New Yorkers." Rex Parker, for instance, was born in S.F., grew up in Fresno, and went to college in Southern California.

-rp

boardbtr 1:34 PM  

Six weeks later! For some reason, this puzzle went fairly smooth for me. Maybe the age, maybe the fact that Texarkana, Texas was my home for many years. That answer helped with the locations that I really wasn't familiar with, but was able to deduce. I have to say that I enjoyed this puzzle - maybe because I was able to finish unaided by Google, etc.

WWPierre 2:42 PM  

If I were to strike a crystal stem glass with a silver spoon, it would go "tinnnnnnnng". If I were to hold my finger on the rim, it would go "tink".

To Stephen Edward Anderson:
Don't be discouraged. Keep up the GOOD work.

CAlady 3:43 PM  

Am I the only one who uses the dictionary at onelook.com? It's great for instant and more in depth definitions. Had something like 20 references for "til"-and at the bottom a number of examples. i keep this dictionary on my dock and look at it often in reading this blog. You all are always surprising me with new words!

Anonymous 4:26 PM  

My favorite portmanteau, from Thurber: carcinomenclature.
Nollie

Ben 6:26 PM  

Why was the clue to 33 A "DOWNed?" As far as I know, the capitalization of down had nothing to do with the answer, and it could have been taken as "downed." I noticed in yesterday's syndicated puzzle as well. However, I looked in another paper (St. Paul Pioneer Press) and it was lower-case. Is my paper (Star Tribune) screwy, or is there a reason for this nonsense?

Tom in Iowa 9:04 PM  

I too grew up in the SF area. When I was a kid I visited the Abercrombie and Fitch store on Union Square. That place was pretty amazing! The best toy store in town. It became what it is today after its bankruptcy and reorganization in the 1960s.

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