THURSDAY, Mar. 6, 2008 - Pamela Amick Klawitter (MARY TYLER MOORE HEADWEAR)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "I'M IN" (57A: Poker cry ... or an apt title for this puzzle) - four theme answers are familiar phrases with "IM" inserted to create new, wacky phrases, which are then clued

Had a hard time getting traction on this one. Ended up all the way down at the bottom and got the theme answer before I had any of the theme answers in place. Perhaps the most embarrassing part of the solving experience, for me, was blanking on 1A: York successor (Tudor). I teach the Tudor period in English literature every single year. I just got through telling my class that 1603 is one of the most important dates to remember - the death of Elizabeth I (and thus the end of the Tudor Period). And yet, upon reading this clue, here's what my brain did: "Plantagenet ... Plantagenet? Is it Plantagenet? York and ... Plantagenet. Yes, Plantagenet. Oh no, wait, that won't fit ... Plantagenet?" What's worse is ... I meant "Lancaster." The War of the Roses was fought between the houses of York and Lancaster, who were both branches of the royal house of Plantagenet, but neither, unfortunately, was the right answer: TUDOR. Yes, I'm embarrassed for me too.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: "American Idol" judge who wastes money? (Prodigal S IM on) - more evidence that my brain was out of whack last night. I attributed this clue to 27A, and then wanted the answer to be SIMON OF CONSENT - in my mind, that was a variation on the phrase SIN OF CONSENT. Now ... two problems: first, SIN OF CONSENT is not a thing. I thought maybe it was ... like a sin of omission. But no. So there's that. Then there's the fact that if you add "IM" to SIN, you get SIMIN, not SIMON - and yet I persisted in this gross error for some time.
  • 27A: Nodding picture? (IM age of consent) - this doesn't fit the "I'M IN" theme as neatly as it could, as the "IM" is more beside the phrase in question than "IN" it.
  • 43A: Geologist? (sed IM entary job) - this one I like, primarily because the original phrase feels ... original to me. I'm tempted to explain what I just wrote, but I think you know what I mean.
  • 51A: Moment after a bad pun? (gr IM ace period) - this one's good too, in that puns do indeed make me grimace. And Grimace is my favorite of the McDonaldland characters, just ahead of Mayor McCheese and the Fry Guys.

There were a raft of odd words in this puzzle, but none weirder to me than BESOM (17A: Twig broom), a word I've probably seen before, but not often, and likely only in puzzles. It is a word that is begging to be used in a bad pun, though I can't think of one, as my brain, blissfully, does not work that way. Then there's this DINA woman (8D: Actress Merrill of "Desk Set") - I did not recognize the name, but when I looked her up, I certainly recognized the face. Maybe if this had been clued [Actress Merrill of "Caddyshack II"], I'd have had a shot (that is a lie - the clue could have listed every film on her resumé and I wouldn't have known DINA. I know DINO (Flintstones pet, movie producer De Laurentiis) and DINAH (Shore, Someone's in the kitchen with, etc.), but not DINA. And yet I'm almost certain I've blogged about not knowing her before.

My proudest moment came in the SW corner, which I completed in approximately zero seconds. You know you're getting the hang of things, puzzle-wise, when you can drop ERICAS (44D: Heath plants) and DEMODE (45D: Out of fashion) into place, one-two, no hesitation, with just the 2nd and 3rd letters of each in place. I think I wrote about ERICA in its botanical (i.e. non soap opera character) form a week or so ago. I know I've written about DEMODE. Words that were once odd now seem like familiar old friends. Or at least like that aunt you haven't seen for fifteen years whom you never really liked but she used to let you smoke cigarettes with her when your mom wasn't around so your memories of her are at least partially fond.

Least favorite part of the puzzles: ADJUDGES (38D: Deems in court), LION (39D: Horoscope figure), LOBO (40D: Animal that howls) - didn't like any of them, and they're all right next to each other. These answers really wish they could be, respectively, JUDGES, LEO, and WOLF.


  • 10A: Part of an Einstein equation (mass) - the "m" in E=mc2 (that's "2" as in "squared," duh - I have no idea how to type exponents in Blogger)
  • 15A: Lake _____, south of London (Erie) - boo! Worst kind of low-rent trickery (that's London, Ontario). Further, that big blank space in the clue is entirely unnecessary. What not just [Lake south of London]?
  • 18A: Turner of "Somewhere I'll Find You," 1942 (Lana) - Here, the random movie and date actually helped (i.e. answer is clearly not TINA).
  • 26A: Eskimo-_____ language family (Aleut) - one of those clues where I see only "Eskimo" and I have an "A" in place and so answer is obvious, despite my complete ignorance of anything substantive on the topic of language families, Eskimo or otherwise.
  • 32A: The anesthetic lidocaine, e.g. (local) - I love this clue / answer, though something about the definite article in the clue is freaking me out.
  • 6A: Country addresses, for short (RFDs) - I know "Mayberry R.F.D." and yet I don't know what R.F.D. stands for ... Rural ... something? Aha, Rural Free Delivery - postal system to rural areas started during the Great Depression.
  • 35A: George who once led the C.I.A. (Tenet) - surprised his name came back to me so quickly. Most government functionaries' names are a blur of gray to me.
  • 48A: D'_____ (according to: Fr.) (après) - one of the more awkward-looking clues you're ever going to see. Almost as hard to type as "Pamela Amick Klawitter" (number of errors on this attempt: one).
  • 62A: "_____ No Sunshine" (1971 Grammy-winning song) - First thing in the grid, after my initial foray into the top ended in frustration. This song is Great.
  • 64A: Start of North Carolina's motto (Esse) - Gimme! (other state motto facts to remember - Montana = ORO Y PLATA, and Maryland's ... I forget, but it means "Manly deeds, womanly words." I may have that backwards)
  • 1D: Pop-top feature (tab) - ugh, I wanted something to do with a convertible car.
  • 7D: Assault with a grenade, as a superior officer (frag) - horrible occurrence, but great word.
  • 21D: Rap's OutKast, e.g. (duo) - knew the answer before I even saw how many letters were involved. They get used to clue DUO the way that The Police or ZZ Top or Dixie Chicks get used to clue TRIO.
  • 35D: Mary Tyler Moore headwear (tam) - the most interesting and charming clue/answer pairing I've come across in a while. I don't know how often she wore a TAM - maybe in the opening credits [yes, check out the very last shot of the opening theme here] - but the answer came to me very quickly. I [heart] MTM.
  • 41D: Home of Galileo Galilei International airport (Pisa)
  • 52D: Farewell in 41-Down (ciao!) - nice little Italian combo.
  • 42D: Some colony members (artists) - sooooooo wanted NUDISTS.
  • 53D: Ruler in a kaffiyeh (emir) - I know you don't know what a "kaffiyeh" is, but really, what else was this answer going to be?
  • 54D: Pinball sound (ping) - this is a bad engine sound. I wanted DING.
  • 55D: Home of Pearl City (Oahu) - had the -AHU ... not a lot of options after that.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Here's the most recent write-up of the tournament I've seen. Like my wife, the author was a rookie contestant (she beat out my wife by a few places - so now we know where my wife's crosshairs will be aimed next year).


Gnarbles 8:43 AM  

For York, I was trying to think of the guy who replaced Dick York on Bewitched (Dick Sargent). Didn't fit, so moved on and got Tudor later.

Orange 8:52 AM  

A kaffiyeh is that black and white houndstooth(ish) scarf that you've seen on Arafat and, probably, college classmates who fancied themselves radicals in the '80s.

I believe there's a paragraph in the back of my book about crazy-ass words in state mottoes, and I believe I copied that paragraph into my blog. There are so many Latin words, plus a couple French and Spanish.

John 8:54 AM  

RFDS? Still can't work that one out. Perhaps it is an American thing that this Limey can't get his head around.

Janet 9:06 AM  

Hmmm, Orange, I bought one of those scarfs in the 80's, didn't know the significance, just thought it looked great with my coat, and really got horrible reactions from many people everywhere I went until someone explained to me its significance. Wish I could say that was the only unconscious thing I did in the 80's.

pinky 9:11 AM  

@John....remember Mayberry RFD? *rural free delivery

Good puzzle, but I had a hard time giving up RATTLE until I figured out MOBILE

PuzzleGirl 9:15 AM  

I liked this puzzle a lot. The Bill Withers song is in my list of Top Five All-Time Greatest Songs. And I immediately pictured MTM whipping that TAM into the air.

@john: RFD stands for Rural Free Delivery. Have you heard of the old television show "Mayberry RFD"? That's the way my brain got me to the answer.

I'm still trying to figure out why someone would assault a superior officer with a grenade. Is that something likely enough to happen that there's a word for it????

john 9:15 AM  

@pinky...means nothing to me but at least i now understand the answer. many thanks.

Jim in NYC 9:18 AM  

I'm still trying to figure out why someone would assault a superior officer with a grenade. Is that something likely enough to happen that there's a word for it????

It's generally believed to have happened during the Vietnam War.

Kathy 9:19 AM  

Love MTM's yellow plaid pantsuit in the opening credits--thanks for the link, Rex. I was with you on the lack of traction on this one.


SethG 9:29 AM  

SED(IM)ENTARY JOB, that one I didn't like. All the other IM-less phrases feel much more common, so while I know I've heard it before it feels asymmetric.

Google sort of agrees, with 1-2 million hits for each of the other phrases vs ~30 thousand for 'sedentary job'.

Add the ugliness in the Carolinas and I spent a while wondering whether it was sed(im) What else could it be? Which was really unfortunate because it put the Neil Diamond song in my head. And the parody song actually exists, but it's just not worth linking to.

Also, just googled (and JimH~ed) Dina. It's always been clued with Ms Merrill before, but be prepared for Dina Meyer, the woman in Starship Troopers, and Dina Lohan, the woman who is Lindsay's mom.

Because I feel the need to link _something_, I'll give you the MTM statue downtown.

Congrats on double digits; maybe I'll come join Sandy next year,

Megan P 9:30 AM  

During the war in Vietnam, disgruntled GIs would occasionally roll a live grenade under the bunk of a (presumably sleeping) officer. This was all over the news at the time, but it would be interesting to know how often it actually happened.

Today's puzzle was fun.

Pinky 9:34 AM  


is a spinoff of The Andy griffith show

where Ron Howard got his start as little opie cunningham

Eli Barrieau 9:40 AM  

Why doesn't the Hamburglar get his due? He's just trying to feed his family!

Also kept reading Pearl City as Pearl Mosque and stubbornly had Agra. Second guessed everything else. Dumb

Alex 9:47 AM  

I'm still trying to figure out why someone would assault a superior officer with a grenade. Is that something likely enough to happen that there's a word for it????

While frag is the relatively recent English word for it, it isn't a new concept.

In Italian, the word for it is (or was, I don't know if it is still current usage): misdeismo, and derived from the name of an Italian soldier (Misdea) that had killed his commanding officer. He was also an epileptic a that became part of the foundation for the theory of epilepsy as a sign of inherent criminality.

I share because coincidentally I learned this about an hour before doing this puzzle (from reading Stephen Jay Gould's The Mismeasure of Man).

But I'm sure it is a concept that has been around for as long as there have existed commanding officers so incompetent or despised that the subordinate officers are certain he'll get them killed needlessly.

Otherwise, I didn't really care for the theme, it just felt clunky and grimace period was the only that felt fluid rather than forced.

Bill D 9:58 AM  

Another enjoyable puzzle in this week's string. A minor gripe - I thought this puzzle leaned a little to much on foreign words. One goof - didn't know ERICAS or d'APRES, so I guessed a "T" at their intersection, reasoning that I knew the French word apres (before) and it didn't seem right. Lesson learned - if you know the foreign word exists, use it. Worst of it came in the Carolinas - is LOBO now an acceptable name for wolf without an Sp clarifier? I was a geologist in the distant past, kept trying to fit MAN or GUY into the last three spots. Knew BESOM right off (from aviation again - don't ask!)

Most recent fragging incident I recall is one from Kuwait or Qatar early in (or before) the Iraq incursion - a disturbed US soldier, a Muslim, was accused of rolling a grenade into an officers' tent.

John Reid 10:00 AM  

My two mistakes were RFTS/TINA and DEMODO/ESSO. I thought it wasn't too bad for a Thursday - took me a little over 10 minutes.

I had thought of trying Nina, Tina and Gina, but hadn't come up with Dina!

Bill D 10:12 AM  

I read the ACPT article Rex recommended this morning. Maybe one of you attenders can educate me on the scoring. The author says "Contestants get 10 points for every correct word and 25 bonus points for each minute they finish under the allotted time." Does the puzzle have to be complete in order to earn the bonus time points?
Or could you leave some answers blank, but turn the puzzle in early to gain the time points? What I'm getting at is it seems there could come a point when time becomes more valuable than answers. Is this accurate?

John Reid 10:25 AM  

@ Bill D - Verbatim from the tournament rules, regarding scoring:

"a. Ten (10) points for every correct word entered across and down;

b. Twenty-five (25) bonus points for each full minute the contestant finishes early - this bonus, however, to be reduced by 25 points for each letter that is omitted or entered incorrectly, up to, but not beyond, the point that the bonus returns to zero; and

c. One hundred fifty (150) bonus points for a complete and correct solution."

[I hope it's ok to post this, and that I'm not making myself guilty of copyright violation!]

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

Two things:
If you have DirecTV, RFD TV is channel 379. It's a horrible channel but can be interesting, in a train wreck, Lawrence Welky sort of way. that's how I got this clue.

I think Lobo should've had a Spanish related clue. The first thing I thought was lobo when I had L_ _O, but thought it couldn't be since there was no Spanish cluing.

Joe in NE

Jim in Chicago 10:29 AM  

Two thumbs up for this puzzle. I thoroughly enjoyed working it, even though I had a rough spot in the Dakotas and New England (and Florida, actually).

In the Dakotas, I blanked on ERIE until I say the answer, and then groaned. Lacking ERIE, I took a stab at FLAG for the grenade clue, and just moved on.

For the Einstein equation, I put in MCSQ (as in E=MC2), which gave me QUOTE for what you see in italics, the obviously of ...SIMON and ALEUT then cause me no end of trouble.

In Florida, I just sort of blanked, and refused to give up on LAS for the start of latin city names.

Even so, I'm pleased that I can now usually pretty much finish a Thursday when a few months ago I was a Wednseday person. Now on the Friday!

As to RFD, I used to have an RFD address. As I remember it was just pretty much:

Jim Smith
Anytown, Anystate

I don't think there was actually any specific RFD number in the address, but I could be wrong.

The post office just knew who lived where and delivered the mail. As far as I know, this was used primarily for rural areas (hence the R). At some point they came through and assigned actual street numbers and addresses and I became somthing like "99998567 S 1856th St." I'm not sure if this happened before or after the intoduction of the ZIP code, but I think after. I also don't know if any RFD addresses still exist.

Bill from NJ 10:43 AM  


During wartime, the people that actually fight and the people who lead them come from two radically different places.

One group are known as "grunts" and the other group are "officers and gentlemen" which should tell you all you need to know about the two groups.

So, the least knowledgeable lead the most knowledeable in matters of life and death.

I was part of the second group during the Vietnam war and, after a few months of training, was sent out to be in charge of men who routinely faced the enemy. Battle-hardened veterans being led by a 22year old rookie. Is it any wonder there was conflict between the two groups?

For what its worth.

PhillySolver 10:52 AM  

Solving online, I feel empowered to guess at the fill and find many times that instinct serves me well. However, last night I found traction in the bottom portion and had the IMIN early. With a few down entries I guessed __Paula (Abdul) at 20A, Imagination__ at 27A and groan_period at 51A. I don't think anything was too hard, but I was not solving during the DEMODE / ERICAS age and that was my last two fills which changed my bad French guess of d'apros (seemed it might be ok). BTW, since demode is such an old and rarely seen word, is it demode?

Joaneee 10:55 AM  

Did not find this puzzle very Thursday-hard, BUT...I am baffled (probably stupidly) by 25A - can someone explain the equation of DUE with the clue Directly? It's probably obvious...

Wade 10:55 AM  

Anonymous Joe in NE, I have to disagree about RFD-TV. We don't have cable or dish anymore, but when we did we were either watching Law and Order reruns (which is why we got rid of the dish) or RFD-TV. Where else are you going to see "Classic Tractor," Australian dressage or footage of the 1987 FFA National Convention?

And yes, I grew up in an RFD and was a proud member of FFA (still have my purple corduroy jacket somewhere.)

NJPhil 11:03 AM  

Your favorite McDonalds character? You have them rank-ordered? That's, well, sad.

I got stalled by the fact that a geologist is a person, not a job. One may have an opening for a geologist, in that one is looking a hire a person who happens to be a geologist. SEDMINENTARYMAN then gave me huge headaches. And no, I'm not a sexist, I can just count the number of letters in man vs woman vs person vs it.

Another perfectly valid guess, though wrong & leading nowhere, for a leader in a Kaffiyeh would be an IMAN, which would completely ruin Texas.

Finally, RFD was huge back in the day. It was widely, and wildly, believed that by providing mail service to the rural folks would bankrupt the country. It turned out to be not so expensive, and a great boon to the country. Healthcare anyone?

Joaneee 11:23 AM  

OK, I get it. DUE south in directly south of.

jae 11:24 AM  

I found this very easy for a Thursday. I knew DINA & FRAG & RFD, filled in TUDOR off the T in TAB and O in ODOR, figured out the IM before getting to 57a, remembered DEMODE from past puzzles/Rex, and guessed right at APRES. The only minor misstep was NUDISTS. I thought this was going to be hard at first when I misread 1d as Pop-tart but on the second reading TAB seemed the obvious answer. Overall an enjoyable puzzle.

@joaneee -- I too am a bit puzzled by directly/DUE?

jae 11:27 AM  

Hit publish too soon -- thanks joanee.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Lidocaine was recently in the news because of Roger Clemens. He said that it was lidocaine, not steroids, that he had injected into his butt. Anyone who knows anything about lidocaine knows that you don't inject it into your butt since it's a local anesthetic (it usually goes directly into a joint), unless you actually have a pain in the butt, I guess. So now everyone who does the NYT crossword should know that Roger Clemens is full of [expletive deleted], if they didn't already.

Jim in Chicago 11:30 AM  

Just found this great picture of an RFD Historical Marker.

PuzzleGirl 11:31 AM  

Thanks, everyone, for explaining FRAG. Had never heard of that (obviously), but it makes sense. In a disturbing sort of way. On many levels.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

Or he has a severe case of hemorrhoids.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Since I live in Nebraska I'm in the middle of FFA America, so I appreciate RFD-TV as much as anyone. I'm just saying that much of the programming is so terribly cringeworthy (like Lawrence Welk)it must be watched. My wife's grandfather, retired Sandhills rancher, says it's "a goddammed good channel".

Joe in NE

Addie Loggins 11:38 AM  

When puzzlegirl and I were growing up in the big city of Fargo, all the farm kids' addressed were either Rural Route 1 or Rural Route 2, so I had RRTS for 6 across. And since I didn't know DINA (I assumed it was TINA), Igot pretty messed up in the Dakotas.

The word FRAG was in the news most recently when Ann Coulter was asked to give her quick impression of US Representative (and retired Marine officer) John Murtha, and she said "the reason soldiers invented "fragging'"). Because I have found this blog refreshingly free of both politics and obsenity, I will refrain from sharing my thoughts on Ms. Coulter generally, or that comment in particular.

It took me an embarassingly long time to realize that Jackson is on a $20 bill rather than a $10. Did you know that "twenty" has the same number of letters as "tenner"? Or that two of those letters are the same? I do now.

GRIMACEPERIOD was my favorite clue answer. And, of course, I loved AINT No Sunshine, which I knew is one of puzzlegirl's all-time top 5 songs (I bet I could also guess the other 4...)

I thought ADJUDGES was pretty good. It might seem forced, but in fact it's a very common word in legal writing.

ArtLvr 11:42 AM  

BESOM was the first word I put in, to confirm that 1D would be TAB, 1A TUDOR, etc. For household details in 1603, as well as everything else going on in London then, I highly recommend "The Lodger Shakespeare" by Chas. Nicholl.

Talk about "twig broom", SPRIGS, NUT and ERICAS -- the distinction between herbs and spices eluding us the other day: an herb comes from the leafy part of a plant, while spices are derived from bark, buds, fruit, roots and seeds.

It was funny that Rex wanted "nudists" for 42D, (some colony members), while I should have thought of ARTISTS right away. Instead, I was looking for Puritans, Quakers, etc. That was due to another book: Garry Wills' "Head and Heart". His first chapter, "Mary Dyer Must Die", details the hanging of my Quaker ancestress Mary Dyer in 1660 by the Mass. Bay Colony, the first woman "heretic" they executed. She had refused to stay banished and returned to continue speaking up against their Puritan extremism -- from which eventually came the First Amendment!

Diversions aside, it's back to the wet basement again.


Wade 11:56 AM  

Joe in NE (thought that was New England before you corrected me), my chiding was tongue-in-cheek. RFD-TV is just so bizarre I couldn't turn away from it when I got down to that end of the channel spectrum. I'm not kidding that they showed footage (maybe the entirety) of the 1987 FFA National Convention. I get mesmerized by Lawrence Welk as well. Did the world ever really look that way? I always wonder. Was it ever that . . . white? Was it ever that . . . smiley? Was it ever that . . . polyestery? My kids (3 and 5 years old) love the dancing.

If you haven't read it, I recommend Ian Frazier's book "Great Plains," which has, among other wonderful bits, a chapter about Lawrence Welk and a very moving piece of reportage about a black beauty pageant held yearly in a small town in Kansas--it had me in tears.

Dick Swart 12:13 PM  

"Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by ..."

Bill D 12:22 PM  

@John Reid - thanks for the "ruling"; so if you're stuck on one or two letters with 5 minutes to go it might pay. Glad to see there is a major bonus for a completely correct puzzle.

Doesn't DE MODE (two words) mean "in fashion"? If so we could add DEMODE/DE MODE to our list of words that can have opposite meanings.

Ulrich 12:31 PM  

I found this puzzle not more difficult than yesterday's except for square 7, which remained unsolvable for me to the end. I must have heard of "fragging" before because I lived in 1969 in Boston in a commune sort of thing that was joined by a vet who slept with a loaded gun under his bed--but this is only a distant memory now. Had also never heard of RFDs--stuck to RRDs (rural roads) and got nowhere--only peaking at Rex's solution finally solved the mystery.

I thank everyone for enlightening me (again) on "fragging".

Orange 12:42 PM  

njphil, if you're going to be a humorless, judgmental twit ("Your favorite McDonalds character? You have them rank-ordered? That's, well, sad."), you might try to be more correct. The Muslim leader is called an IMAM, not IMAN, so your guess wouldn't be valid. Surely you don't really think Rex keeps a list of his favorite McDonaldland characters in a Notebook of Nerdity?

Jim in NYC but wishing he was in Paris 12:55 PM  

Doesn't DE MODE (two words) mean "in fashion"?

No, it's one word and there are acute accents over both e's. It means outmoded.

Anonymous 1:04 PM  


I t6o read pop-tart for pop-top. And did not figure it out to the very end. When I went back to check the clue, I still read it as pop-tart and had to blink to see pop-tab. Glad to see somebody else have this optical illusion.

My one gripe about the puzzle is frag crossed with erie. I first thought of Erie but fell for the south of London part of the clue: thinking England and sure that there is no Lake Erie in England. Lake Elie (a guess) made more sense or at least sounded better. And it crossed with flag which I adjudged better than the unfamiliar frag.


Ulrich 1:11 PM  

Here's a question: I had LOBA (she-wolf) for 40D and UNA for 50A because at that time, my primary figure at 30D was EVE, and I never went back to LOBA/UNA after changing that. In my book, this solution is also correct. What happens at the ACPT when a situation like this occurs, i.e. when there isn't a unique solution to a puzzle?

jls 1:13 PM  

njphil's observation that "rfd was huge back in the day" reminded me that so, too, were c.o.d. and party lines. suspect these other two factored into mayberry rfd (which i don't think i ever watched...) as well.



PhillySolver 1:22 PM  

My list IS sad, in that I have so much trouble making up my mind on the order of the happy denizens in Hamburger Patch. In reverse order;

Ronald McDonald (because of the Willard Scott connection)
Iam Hungry (too greedy)
Grimace and his Irish relative
Uncle O'Grimacy (not happy campers)
Birdie the Early Bird (yuck!)
Captain Crook (you go to the land of fat for a Fish sandwich?
Big Mac (Do you want to eat this guy or run from him?)
The Professor (not as erudite as Gilligan's)
Mayor McCheese (whose copyright infringement cost McD a million dollars)
and before I name number one I, will exclude the two group characters, The Fry Kids (aka Gobblins and The Happy Meal Gang.
so, my fav...CosMc (the space alien)


PhillySolver 1:25 PM  

P.S. no opinion on the possibly unPC Hamburglar (I do think he is a recidivist though.

mac 1:25 PM  

Ulr4ich, square nr. 7 was also my only one left open. I am wondering about "frag", what is the root? Frater and something ending in cide?
I went for the nudists also, but audio cleared that one up. I think I recently read that a lobo is a wolf from the Southern U.S. Besom I had heard of before, also the Dutch and German words are similar.
Funnily enough, when I first read the clue "twig broom" I thought "Erica", and then that showed up in California!
I thought it was a very enjoyable puzzle today. I feel so much better after reading the Bloomberg article and Sandy's report.

Ulrich 1:32 PM  

@mac: The online Dictionary says that "Besom" comes from Old English besma, which must also be the origin of German (and Dutch?) Besen. I actually remember these things being used in the little village on the Moselle River, where I lived as a child, to sweep the streets on Saturday afternoon.

Austin 1:33 PM  

As an FYI, or maybe for future reference, if you want to denote an exponent, you usually use a carat:

E = MC^2.


Anonymous 1:34 PM  

Mac, it's "fragmentation grenade."

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

I did well on the puzzle today, except for the embarrassing mistake of putting MISPLACE instead of DISPLACE and ending up with TUMOR as the successor to York. Well, it could be right, depending on how you feel about the whole Henry VIII thing and the beheading of wives, etc. I just figured there was something clever I wasn't getting...

NJPhil 1:41 PM  

Or, I may simply be ironic with fat fingers.

Chip Ahoy 1:41 PM  

This is the kind of puzzle wot I love. A bit tricky 'cause the IMs are inconsistently placed. Sweet, that. Loved the theme entries.


Chip Ahoy 1:44 PM  

The grenade thing happened in Kuwait too. A convert to Islam tossed one into a tent. It was a rather big deal in the first Gulf war.

Greg 2:17 PM  

@Orange: "Notebook of nerdity" - I love it! hah!

@ulrich: I think that is a great question because my impression has been that the vast majority of the time, unless the constructor/editor makes a direct reference to a female (i.e. "One to Juana" yielding "una" as opposed to "One in Spain" yielding "uno.").
However, I have found instances where "One in Spain" yields "una" and I am thrown off kilter.
Does anyone know the answer to Ulrich's question, and to the general issue of convention in cluing puzzles when dealing with words whose suffixes can vary according to gender?
Thanks and Happy Puzzling!

Bill from NJ 2:19 PM  


To FRAG is to, literally, roll a fragmentation grenade under the bunk of a sleeping person. However, TO FRAG became synonymous with murdering an incompetent officer, sort of like what happened to the word LYNCH.

When I was in Vietnam in 69-70, the word was just gaining currency but it seemed to be as much an urban legend, so to speak, as anything else

Orange 2:28 PM  

Ulrich, LOBA hasn't appeared in any of the Crucivber-indexed crosswords in the past decade. Lobo has made it into English dictionaries, but not loba. As for your tournament question, usually the benefit of the doubt goes to the solver. If a valid argument were made for another answer being correct, I think the judges would accept either answer.

Greg, often male seems to be the default (in crosswords and in much of society). Occasionally it isn't, and if that trips up someone, it's their own fault! I've seen AMI/AMIE clues (maybe not in the NYT) that reverse the expectation of gendering.

ramsey 2:45 PM  

I was in Vietnam 69-70 as well where I worked as a payroll clerk for officers (grunts and the honorables had seperate everything), and I recall closing files because guys got fragged -- though, of course, that was not the official cause of death. Based on some of the officers I had to deal with, I'm surprised there weren't more.

Ellen 3:20 PM  

Dina Merrill is also famous for being heir to the Post Cereal fortune.

I have a cousin DEENA but she is not famous enough to be in a crossword.

Bill from NJ 3:25 PM  

Got 20A right away and uncovered the theme but fell apart in both corners of the North.

It always seems to be this way - start quick and then bog down. I totally blocked on APEMEN at 11D, wondering what apemen had to do with sci-fi, forgetting, of course, Planet of the Apes.

ah well.

@mac - Ain't it the truth

Anonymous 3:33 PM  


"Twit?" Need we call names?

billnutt 3:38 PM  

Who can turn the world on with her smile? (Husker Du, for one - their cover of "Love Is All Around," the Mary Tyler Moore theme song is GREAT!) (and the Buddy Holly fan in me wants to point out that "Love Is All Around" was written by former Cricket Sonny Curtis.)

Funny - once I got "IMAGE OF CONSENT," I just knew that someone would take exception because the IM is not actually IN the phrase. I actually enjoyed all four theme answers.

I think this is the fastest I've ever solved a Thursday, even with my ignorance of lakes and such.

I always thought the M in Einstein's equation stood for matter, not MASS. See how educational crossword puzzles can be?

Don't ask my how I knew Dina Merrill. Wasn't she Mrs. Cliff RObertson? Or was she on STAR TREK?

BETA and THETA in the same puzzle!

Rick Stein 3:39 PM  

Well...I read "pop-up" and was convinced it was about those pesky internet ads for which we now have "blockers."
"York"/"Tudor" had me stumped for too long.
Can't believe you hadn't heard of Dina Merrill.
But "ericas" and "besom" and "frag" were new to me--I just went with the flow.
Fun puzzle today, though.

PhillySolver 4:26 PM  

For a nice laugh, check in on the latest work from the real star of the ACPT, Emily. Use the link to the left of Rex's comments.

John 4:44 PM  

I've been doing the NYT crosswords for six months and have my first criticism of a clue: 13D. Italicize, say. The answer "slant" isn't accurate. Typographically, italics are completely different faces based on a regular set. Obliques are a typeface that has been slanted.

Wow, my first act of crossword snobbery. I feel like I've joined a club.

dk 4:44 PM  

Today I spent having fun. One thing I did was go to the Walker Art Gallery. There is a very funny photo of a tract house model built entirely out of McDonald's products (e.g., French Fries as siding).

I had Aliens instead of APEMEN and I am happy to know what A BESOM is.

I grew up in upstate NY (not far from Rex) and our address was RFD as in rural free delivery.

doc John 4:44 PM  

Got killed in the NW today. I really wanted Sargent for the answer to 1A (too much TV Land for me). I kept trying to fit "segue" into 14A and that was slowing me down as well as the fact that I had "eat" instead of USE for 2D. I finally gave up on "segue" and got ASIDE and the corner fell. Speaking of TUDOR, is anyone else enjoying the Showtime series "The Tudors"? Well-written and -acted and very enjoyable.

I also fell into the MC SQ trap and wanted "quote" for SLANT. APEMEN pulled me out of that one.

@ Orange: If I told someone that I had all 635 rollercoasters that I have ridden ranked in order of favoritism and they replied, "That's sad," I'd just smile and say, "I know." i.e. I'm sure no real malice was contained in that comment.

Hobbyist 4:44 PM  

Boo hoo! I came in at 514 , the area code of Montreal, didn't meet Tony Ohrbach, son of my crush, Jerry and just felt as if had failed in an ignominious way. Now I kinda hate XWords.
I just had to fess up to my failure, though.

Bill from NJ 5:18 PM  

OOPs!! Sorry, mac. I was responding to ramsey:

Ain't it the truth!!

Anonymous 5:44 PM  

hey rex, it's c.a. i tried to email you so that I could get your address to send off what you asked for. But it wont go through. Is there another email address I can try?

Rex Parker 5:50 PM  

I've never heard of there being a problem with my address ... weird. You could try ...

The mailing address listed here will work as well:

Send care of Michael Sharp

And, by the way, thank you x 1000


Anonymous 6:37 PM  

Rex - is your blog name a combination of Rex Morgan and Judge Parker? Just wondering.

Rex Parker 6:48 PM  

My blog handle is completely made up - though "Rex Morgan, M.D." must have been in the back of my mind somewhere when I thought of it. It was just me, wife, sister, and brother-in-law, on the beach in Hawaii four years ago, and for no good reason, we all invented "beach names" (designed, I think, to sound like the names people might have had if they were extras in a 60s / 70s beach movie). So I was Rex Parker and my wife was Sandy Davenport and sister was Jaycee McFadden and my brother-in-law was Chet Houston (my favorite of them all). He has since changed his, but I refuse to acknowledge this change.


doc John 6:55 PM  

I have always liked the name Rex.
Years ago I had an RX-7 and I called it Rex.
(Yes, I name my cars. I also named my tuba- for the record, its name is Pete.)

Orange 7:45 PM  

Doc John, that's really sad. :-) [And I retract my pouncing on njphil—was just feeling protective of our Rexy after spending time with him over the weekend.]

Hobbyist, visit the Marriott bar at the next ACPT. That's where you'll find Tony O. in the evenings. And me, and Patrick Blindauer, and Byron Walden, and all the cool kids. And everyone is most affable.

eli barrieau 7:51 PM  

Which AV Club dorks, Rex? The ones in high school or the great writers at the Onion's sister paper? I'm all a-tingly thinking that my two biggest (and most pleasing) time sucks could be converging (or slouching)towards each other.

jae 7:56 PM  

@profphil -- Mice to know I'm not alone.

jae 7:59 PM  

Do'h, I meant "Nice" of course. Stupid fat fingers!

Fergus 8:03 PM  

Well, my colony members were going to be ANTS of some sort, perhaps even some naked, artistic types. Has EGAD really become Quaint?

My Geologist was a SEDIMENTARY DOC for a while, since that seemed punny enough after the GRIMACE; and LOCO seemed like a good howling animal.

French departments return to aggravate the solver. First went with PAS, then BAS, then VAL and tossed it aside until it arrived with the DISPLACEment.

ODOR was not quite my first choice for Cause for opening a window, but it was close enough.

I'm still trying to think of any Lake in the south of England ... .

And to the neophyte pettifogger, you know that the clue for SLANT does have some meager defense, but I would definitely concur with your objection.

doc John 8:45 PM  

@ Orange: I know. ;-)

Fergus 9:42 PM  

Quite amused by Rex's courting of c.a. After initial distaste with Mw/C, I grew to be very fond of Al and the pumpkin, who in character, I would love to see futilely attempt any of the early week puzzles, then nail a Friday by sheer misfortune.

doc John 9:59 PM  

"It's as easy as 1, 2, C!"

Fergus 11:42 PM  

Rikki - San Diego in the past, among western travels; ready to offer and receive new opinions. Saw your comments on Maida Vale. FF

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

Regarding "Mayberry RFD" being a sequel to "The Andy Griffith Show",
Ron Howard's name was OPIE TAYLOR,if I'm remembering correctly. AND, later in "Happy Days", Howard's character's name was "Richie Cunningham".

So...NO "Opie Cunningham".


62 A Aint No Sunshine.

Remake by DMX

Jet City Gambler 7:12 PM  

Six weeks later...
I always look forward to the Thursday puzzles (before I get beaten like a rented mule by Fri and Sat) but this one was really easy for me. The theme was a little uninspired too, seemed more of a Tue/Wed puzzle difficulty. I usually expect a little more creativity for the Thu puzzle.

In online gaming, "frag" is a term used when you kill the other player. There's even a group of girl gamers who attend onliner tournaments and stuff called the "Frag Dolls."

Anonymous 12:23 AM  

Was no one else confused by the SPRIGS/ERICAS/DEMODE stack? Without the crutch of the theme answers I would NEVER have come up with these... (ok, maybe DEMODE, but still...) Fun puzzle despite.

Also, does anyone know the process for getting a puzzle published? I drew one up today, and am just curious... thanks!

Ellen 12:26 AM  

To Anonymous 12:23: This is where all the puzzle constructors hang out.

impjb 1:31 AM  

Here's some geek trivia. To get the exponent to appear you need to use the extended ascii character set. The only exponent available is 2 however. Hold the "alt" key down and type the ascii code for the character you want (253 in this case, and I believe you have to use the numbers on the number pad, not across the top of the keyboard) and voila... E=mC²

jpChris 2:58 PM  


Exponents and other numbers\letters can be expressed with ASCII characters.

For example: To make the "squared" sign, hold down the left "alt" key and then on the numeric keypad (the one on the right of the keyboard, not the top row) type 0178. It will give you "²".

Other useless things to amaze your friends and confound your enemies:

alt + 0188 = ¼
alt + 0189 = ½
alt + 0176 = ° ( as in ½° off bubble)
alt + 0162 = ¢
alt + 234 = Ω
alt + 227 = π
alt + 236 = ∞ (infinity)
And, of course, who can get along without,
alt + 0165?

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