SATURDAY, Oct. 18, 2008 - Brad Wilber (Fish by thrusting a baited hook into holes / Precursor of Pascal / Philosophical studier of the universe)

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

A fine puzzle - one which, as I suggested yesterday, was originally planned as a Friday puzzle. And it feels Friday in many ways. It's tough, but there are a number of gimmes that make traction easy to come by. NAOMI went in the grid right away (39A: Wolf who wrote "The Beauty Myth"), followed immediately by BAMA (30D: Southeastern Conference team, for short) and SEMI (28D: Important match), and that chunk of answers set up both the SW and the center of the puzzle. SPENSER (8A: Robert B. Parker's private eye) was easy for me (I'm not a fan, but I teach crime fiction and so can't help but be familiar with Parker's work), as was ESIASON (13D: Star QB for the 1980s-'90s Bengals). 80s sports are a specialty - I think sports figures of your youth (esp. if you're a boy) are like the music of your youth: the names (or lyrics) just stick to your brain whether you like it or not. So the NE was not hard. Speaking of 80s music sticking to your brain, please enjoy this new version of an 80s video classic - with handy new lyrics that describe exactly what's happening on screen:



The two parts of this puzzle that, I'm guessing, necessitated the switch from Friday to Saturday were the upper part of the SE corner, which proved oddly hard to get into, and the single letter at the ALGOL / NLRB intersection, which was a Total guess on my part. All the computer geeks out there surely went through that one like a hot knife through butter, but I'm going to call foul, even though I got it right. I invoke the "Natick Principle" (the first time, I think, that it has been *officially* invoked since its coinage) - they are both uncommon proper nouns (if you are a programmer and see ALGOL (26A: Precursor of Pascal) every day, good for you; please don't assume that everyone else sees what you see). NLRB (23D: Collective bargaining watchdog org.) reminded me of the "NC" in "NC WYETH" - letters! Random letters! Now, in retrospect, I can see that "NLRB" probably means "National Labor Relations Board" (checking ... yes, I'm right). And clearly some part of my brain sensed the rightness of both ALGOL and NLRB, but nonetheless, that is a Terrible Crossing, one that should have prompted a complete rewriting of that section of the puzzle.

As for the SE - well, I read a lot of DC Comics and couldn't come up with STARMAN (38D: DC Comics superhero) for a while. Never heard of him, just as I have never heard of most of those damned JSA members. I Don't Care! Too Many Cooks Spoil the Superhero Broth! Ugh, that standard comics shot of a phalanx of flying heroes coming at you in their muscular poses - I Hate It (comics rant = over).



FREESIA (37D: Cousin of a crocus) feels like a word I've heard but apparently never seen - that double-E looks crazy and wrong. And COSMIST (36D: Philosophical studier of the universe) - does anyone call himself that? I want to see that on someone's business card: "Larry Peale, Cosmist." I think I had ANIMIST for a while, which is obviously wrong, but feels more like a real thing than COSMIST. The real key to getting the pesky upper SE was guessing the latter half of "SAPS / AT SEA" (46A: With 44-Across, 1940 Laurel and Hardy film) off of just the "A." Never heard of it, let alone seen it. People in a choir wear STOLES (41D: Choir robe accessories)? Seems awfully decadent ...

This puzzle had few really weak answers, but RST (50D: Letter run) and INTR (47D: Preface: Abbr.) make a pretty damned ugly pair. [Letter run]!?!?! I mean, when you can't even get a clue together for an answer, maybe you should reconsider the answer.

The Rest:

  • 15A: Court slam dunk (open and shut case) - at least it wasn't BOOM SHAKA LAKA
  • 17A: Seriously deteriorate (go to rack and ruin) - I had something else very plausible here, but now can't remember what it was
  • 21A: Rewards for good dives (nines) - "Scores" is better than "Rewards," but OK.
  • 28A: It builds up in bars (silt) - I don't think I understand this. I had SOAP here. Then SAND. I also had DATA where BIAS belonged (25D: Pollster's concern).
  • 42A: 2006 Grammy-winning blues singer _____ Thomas (Irma) - I have no doubt that I've seen her before, but like many four-letter-named ladies, the names start to blur together in my head: IRMA, ENYA, ANYA, EMMA, ELLA, LENA, TINA, etc.
  • 48A: Writing that mixes reportage and fiction (Gonzo Journalism) - easily the best answer in the grid, and I'm guessing the primary reason for constructing this puzzle in the first place. Hunter S. Thompson! Is LOCAL ANESTHESIA (51A: It's not a total knockout) a kind of parody of, or euphemism for, all the drugs and alcohol Thompson consumed?
  • 6D: Much may come after it (inas) - I think I thought INASMUCH was one word. Aha, it is, though apparently it can also be written out as separate words. Needless to say, I hate this answer.
  • 7D: Quarantining org. (CDC) - what a weird way to define them, though the clue is undoubtedly correct.
  • 8D: Corporation allocation ("taxation without representation, and that's not fair" ... I mean SHARES ... got the Schoolhouse Rock rhyming bug there for a second)
  • 9D: Very slow-burning, as a fire (punky) - there is only one way to clue PUNKY, and this is not it. THIS is what I'm looking for (OMG it's the worst sitcom intro ever, in so many ways):



  • 11D: Big A.T.M. maker (NCR) - I remember very well how I learned this word. Complained about NCR / ACCRA crossing and people went nuts telling me how common NCR is. If you do puzzles long enough, it turns out, NCR is indeed pretty common.
  • 12D: It may be chain-linked (sausage) - gross. Took me a while, as my brain kept boing "Fence? Fence? Fence?"
  • 22D: Creator of a bathroom cloud (talc) - gross again. I couldn't even bring myself to attempt this answer.
  • 31D: Online shopping icon (cart) - good clue.
  • 32D: Fish by thrusting a baited hook into holes (sniggle) - word I learned from crosswords, but I've only ever seen it in the clues (for EEL, EELS, EELING, etc.).
  • 33D: Auto-rotating system (carpool) - excellent clue.
  • 40D: Spandex source (Dupont) - all I could think of were exercise leggings from the 80s. Jane Fonda's legs in particular. Or cyclists. Anyway, a company name did not occur to me until crosses made it obvious.
  • 44D: Brew from Tokyo (Asahi) - great letter combinations for a crossword. Surprised I don't see it more often. This ad is fantastic / mesmerizing:



Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS it seems my wife lost her wedding ring yesterday after raking and bagging tons of leaves in our front yard. Any ideas about how she might go about finding a ring inside 11 bags of leaves (or possibly somewhere on a still-leafy yard) can be sent directly to her at her website. [UPDATE - wife rented a metal detector and found the ring inside of two minutes. While we were still in the process of trying to determine if the damn detector was working consistently - did nothing when presented with my ring, then later beeped at my ring - she waved it over one of the bags of leaves and got a beep. I reached in and in about 3 seconds had her ring in my hand. It was so anti-climactic! She literally just brought the detector home - but she paid for 24 hours. Now she's thinking about finding a beach to comb (hard to do in far upstate NY) - thanks for the suggestions]

62 comments:

jannieb 9:20 AM  

Definitely more of a Friday entry than yesterday's. Today's solving pattern was in reverse - the northern hemisphere fell, then the SE, and lastly the SW. I tried COBOL before ALGOL but when NLRB finally moved into my frontal lobe, that spot got fixed. Last entry for me was the "s" at Saps/Soli. Soli is unknown, and the "_aps" could be most anything.

Really liked the cluing for sausage, carpool and beach comb.

hereinfranklin 9:34 AM  

Ugh--Bama. Horrible way to start my day. :) Bathroom cloud is just wrong. On the other hand, got GONZO JOURNALISM just from the J in RAJAS. But kept think basketball for court slam dunk. Thanks for AHA re-mix. That boy was many a teenage girl's fantasy back in the '80s.

Janie 9:43 AM  

ditto the friday feel. solved this one much more swiftly than yesterday's. *loved* the fill -- which felt unusually colorful, image-evoking.

freesias are lovely flowers indeed. enjoy the pix!

;-)

janie

misterarthur 9:44 AM  

Re: Wife's wedding ring. Use a clue from Saturday's puzzle: rent a metal detector (30 across)

evil doug 10:02 AM  

In my Shermanesque march from north to south, I had the "t" leading off for creator of a bathroom cloud. If 25A was "nuts" instead of "bats", I was grinning hopefully at a "tu--" and enjoying vivid dreams of a tush creating that toilet haze. Alas....

On this we agree: There is never an excuse for a letter run. Ever. Even on Monday. If the puzzle doesn't work without it, give up and start over.

Evil
Boomerville, OH

SethG 10:05 AM  

A spit, for example, is a type of bar.

A sorta weird solve for me--no problem with the first couple across clues, but then had problems getting several of the downs even with the first few letters in place. Altogether fun and not too challenging, especially after yesterday.

ALGOL is the name of the C yearbook, though I never knew what that meant. I got the cross from NLRB, which seems relatively common to me. But yeah, my dad used to be staff counsel there so I'm sure I can't remove that entirely from my own experience to say that others should know it...

Speaking of personal connections, there were enough today that I started to feel like ACME.

-Played poker last night and won some money with a set of TREYs.
-I was sort of Soleil Moon Frye's camp counselor for a night
-I got a GPA in sch., to which I often rode in a CARPOOL.
-GONZO is my favorite Muppet JOURNALISt whatever.

If I was truly ACME I would have just last night run into Robert Urich, who I haven't talked to since we lived together in the 80s just before he played SPENSER. It would also be my birthday today.

ArtLvr 10:20 AM  
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ArtLvr 10:21 AM  
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ArtLvr 10:26 AM  

Ah Rex! So much was gross to you? Do you not do links of spicy SAUSAGE at IHop? Does not TALC smell sweet in a bathroom cloud? So amusing...

Punk as soft, crumbly and rotten wood was from way back, and it took crosses to get to PUNKY as poor material for a fire! (A friend had that as a nickname, but I expect it was a diminutive of Punkin')... NAOMI, ASAHI, ESIASON and ALGOL came through crosses too -- with a ppg = post-puzzle google to be sure the last two had O as penultimate letter. Huh.

Otherwise things went well, even starting at the top. OPENANDSHUTCASE came right away, and GOTORACKANDRUIN not far behind.. I was glad to see the spelling as rack, not "wrack" as in wracked with pain", a common mistake! At least I feel wreak and the past tense wrack are more usual as the verb, with "rack" mostly reserved for noun usage, (except in racking balls in pool).

Slight hitch at 25A where "nuts" came to mind for [dotty] instead of BATS. SILT in sand bar process straightened that out, nice on top of BEACHCOMB.

@ jannieb: 46D SOLI = [star turns[ is a plural of solo.

Now we havve FREESIA as cousin of a crocus, I have to go back and remind myself what was in the mallow family yesterday! Loved SNIGGLE and SIRENS, TREY in the cards and NINES for good dives. Also ZAG for [turn back], and the clues for CARPOOL and RETUNES.

I wish the solution was still available immediately after midnight at the site where it used to be! I prefer checking the Freshness Factors while the puzzle is still fresh in my mind... What would it hurt to give us back the solution without a day's delay???

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

@jannieb

Not sure you were posing a question, but in this case, soli is the plural of solo, which is the show's star's turn to perform.

I do question the plural forms, but guess they are technically OK.

@Rex, re Natick

Today NLRB was my gimme leading to algol (not cobol, yet an instant alternative) while esiason is my wtf, so, could I claim everyone should know them, thus avoid a natick?

Or shall we agree that Natick is in the mind of the beholder?

.../Glitch

Phineas 10:34 AM  

As a former programmer, ALGOL found its way to me after a brief run with COBOL, though it seemed to me to be awfully tough to non-technical people - almost unfair. A now highly obscure language. I've not thought of Algol for 20 years. Studying computer science in from 1980 to 1982, Algol was already out of date.

I didn't find NLRB uncommon since my company deals with over 100 unions nationwide.

I though FREESIA was one of the toughest (no botanists found on this side of keyboard). But SNIGGLE made up for it.

jannieb 10:57 AM  

Birthday wishes to ACME!!!!

Thanks to @artlvr and @glitch for my head slapping moment of the day! Soli instead of solos. Okay, I guess. At least it makes sense.

@Sethg - If ACME met up with Robert Urich last night we wouldn't be wishing her a happy birthday (unless she's also a ghostbuster). Urich passed away several years ago.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

This morning I shampooed with VO5 "free me freesia" shampoo, so no problem there.

But I had mis-spelled Spenser as Spencer, and left it with "causage" instead of "sausage". Didn't realize it was wrong until I read Rex's comments, and even so, seems a bit plausible, as "causal link" ... Any support?

Bob Kerfuffle

anisete46 11:05 AM  

great A-HA pastiche...thanks for sharing !!

dk 11:09 AM  

the only thing I build up at bars is a tab. Outside of spelling SPENSER with a c and not knowing ALGOL. Fine puzzle for a Saturday.

Lovely wife and I loved the long ones and ELEGIST.

Echo the suggestion for the metal detector for finding the precious.

Fine fall day here in the mighty midwest so out to play for me.

Norm 11:36 AM  

NLRB is just as common as OSHA and NRC/AEC and other federal agencies that often appear without complaint. I had a harder time with the G in ALGOL since I had SPENCER rather than SPENSER for the longest time and was trying to make CHAIN-LINK refer to causation in some way. So I have to agree with anonymous@10:27 that Natick is often in the eye of the beholder. All in all, a tough puzzle but fair.

PhillySolver 11:44 AM  

I finished in a little less time than yesterday, but it was a challenge for me in all four corners rather than a single area. I discovered that I did not completely change my COBOL answer so I had a 'sausabe' link. I think SAPS AT SEA is a bigger stretch than RST and INTR. At least I have seen the latter elsewhere. No real complaints, but I do wonder about 'skirt' vs 'skirts' for the common usage of the issue phrase. I tried screws for SCRAMS and zig for ZAG. I enjoyed the puzzle this morning and the beautiful day here in Philly.

Orange 11:54 AM  

Bob Kerfuffle, CAUSAGE won't work on accounta CAUSAGE isn't a word. Not yet, anyway.

I'm with the folks who had NLRB as a gimme to undo COBOL and insert ALGOL (which was my college yearbook too, since Seth and I went to the same school).

ArtLvr, I think IHOP has only pork sausage and no veggie sausage, so Rex probably isn't going to be ordering that. Me, I dislike sausage so much, I won't even eat the veggie varieties.

HudsonHawk 12:00 PM  

As a military brat and huge fan of "The Right Stuff", NASA was my first entry. Second entry was NLRB, so nowhere close to Natick for me. Especially since the B allowed BEACHCOMB to drop right into place, confirming my first thought on BAMA. Nice puzzle, with the North dropping quickly. The South was more of a slog, but enjoyable.

foodie 12:16 PM  

North unfolded pretty well, except for misspelling SPENSER as SPENCER and the CAUSAGE that ensued. COBOL was hard to get rid of and I'm with Rex on calling a Natick there. I had much more trouble in the south, especially the Southwest. SNIGGLE? I had no ideal. It sounds like a reluctant snuggle... Had OJOURNALISM, but could not come up with GONZO and LANESTHESIA which I could not parse.

My limitations aside, I would say this puzzle is great in terms of long answers, very good with medium answers (I liked the way CERAMIC was clued, and ISOMER, EXUDES, BEACHCOMB are all excellent), but the almost random 3 letter fill detracted from the overall experience.

Rex Parker 12:19 PM  

@Norm,

As far as xwords are concerned, you are hugely mistaken. NLRB (19 hits in cruciverb database) has not appeared in a puzzle since I started blogging, and has not appeared in a NYT puzzle since 2001. OSHA (175 hits in cruciverb database), on the other hand, has appeared dozens of times. Even in common parlance, OSHA is way way more common. Don't confuse your familiarity with a term with its familiarity generally.

And of Course Natick is in the eye of the beholder. Way to state the obvious. Did you think it had a claim to objectivity? Did anyone ever claim that? Read the original statement of the principle if you want to offer comment on it. The link is in the sidebar.

rp

Rex Parker 12:22 PM  

@foodie,

I only wish I could claim to have been fooled by COBOL. But COBOL is about as familiar to me as ALGOL, i.e. not. :(

rp

treedweller 12:38 PM  

Despite my revelation last Sat. that I should be more patient, I don't think I'd have ever finished this without google.

First came ALGOL. I clung to Cobol for all I was worth, especially since the -OL worked, but finally had to concede defeat. When far bigger geeks than I were using this language, I was struggling to use BASIC on my Commodore Vic-20. It may be true that Natick is in the eye of the beholder, but I am glad to accept Rex's declaration on this one.

Unlike Rex, I did not find a gimme in NAOMI. That google led to SEMI, which seems obvious in retrospect, which got me SCRAMS. IRMA was still a guess, but a fairly confident one until my submission was rejected. Google confirmed that one, so my search for an error began. It finally ended via Orange's blog. Like Bob Kerfuffle, I had tried SPENcER/cAUSAGE. Sure, it's not a word, but I've thought that at least twenty times in the last week about answers that turned out to be correct, and this was Saturday.

Despite all that, I was quite pleased with myself for getting as much as I did through perseverance and some satisfying leaps to the 15's from a few crosses. I'm still not quite up to most Fri/Sat puzzles, but I'm much closer than when my subscription began.

And, if nobody else will say it, I will: I was sooo hoping the bathroom cloud would be a word that starts with 'F' and rhymes with a [scalp line]. I knew it wasn't, but I was hoping.

Doug 1:04 PM  

Darn, COBOL seemed so right, with CUES ("points") on the leadoff down. PTOLEMY was so right as the universe studier. As was VALKERY for Wagner. Alas, I got hosed as usual.

As it's getting close to ski season up here (Vancouver 2010!) dare I say my grid looked amazingly like a virgin ski slope, peppered with the occasional black, rabbit dropping. And as usual I'm off to lick my wounds and show the People magazine crossword who's daddy.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

@Rex,

Actually, I DID re-read your Natick post, and again just now.

A VERY unscientific analysis shows that 2/3 of the respondents on the issue so far today DID know the NLRB / ALGOL cross (for whatever reason) --- well over your 1/4 Natick requirement.

On the other hand, the *Detective I teach about in my class / football player somehow etched in my youthful mind* cross seems to be batting aroung 1/6, making IT today most popular true Natick! ;)

.../Glitch

Rex Parker 1:26 PM  

@glitch,

Thank you for the "VERY" on "VERY unscientific." People Love to brag about what they know, esp. if I didn't know it, so a "survey" of commenters on this issue is Worthless. Further, commenters here are hardly reflective of the General Population. Lastly, [Precursor of Pascal] is my #1 search term of the day today.

No wait - there's more: I went back and checked earlier (very few) ALGOLs in the database. All NYT occurrences had incredibly common, non-abbr. crosses in every letter. The only abbr. cross was SAS, an Exceedingly common airline abbrev.

In the two+ years I've been blogging, neither NLRB nor ALGOL has appeared in the puzzle even once. Gotta go back 5 years for ALGOL, 7 for NLRB. So it's all well and good that people had different experiences here based on their particular stores of knowledge, but please trust that I don't say "Natick" lightly, and when I do, I have Sound reasons and not just a gut feeling.

rp

fergus 1:38 PM  

Cursed Kirin beer. That wrecked my pristine grid. Then I remembered the second-rate, in my opinion, ASAHI. So yeah, this seemed quite a bit easier than yesterday's frequent overwriting. Filling in 22 letters as once helps too, as in the antecedents to CASE and RUIN.

Anyone else almost seduced by SKIRT THE TRUTH? But I guess that really would be Equivocate. MODE kept wanting to jump in for fashion. Considered COLD for the bathroom cloud, as in clouding up the mirror after a hot shower. My Natick was at square 28 where just for the hell of it I put in a J. Hey, 1940 and it could have been JAPS, no? Got doubly misdirected with the Glued Clue, thinking it must have something to do with rapt attention. The only lame Clue, I thought, was Sound system parts.

foodie 1:39 PM  
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fergus 1:40 PM  

Oh, and have a great birthday, ACM. Should be a great day in SF, if that's where you are today.

thebubbreport 2:07 PM  

I grew up in Cincy, so of course Boomer ESIASON was easy for me (though Kenny Anderson was the first name that came to mind from my childhood). Boomer was a commentator for awhile so I think he'd be fairly well known.

I loved that the literary questions were more current and pop than the usual questions. AVOID THE ISSUE gave me fits for awhile. I LOVED the Hunter S. Thompson reference in GONZOJOURNALISM, and LOCAL ANESTHESIA was a fun one that took quite a few letters for me before I got it.

All in all a fun puzzle that definitely seemed like more of Friday or Thursday degree of difficulty than a Saturday.

Maybe your wife can use "The Secret" to find her ring. Seriously though, I'll keep my fingers crossed for her; she must be very upset!

becky

thebubbreport 2:14 PM  

Oh, and one more thing, I didn't get SAUSAGE until I went to forage for food in my empty fridge and wound up eating sausage while I did the puzzle. Obviously, I really need to hit the grocery store today!

Howard B 2:14 PM  

Congrats on finding that ring, first off.

Second, that A-ha video remake is priceless. Thanks for sharing! I'll be looking for 'Pipe wrench fight' in a puzzle now (15 letters!).

fikink 3:05 PM  

Rex, thanks for Dustfilms, reminds me that my THAT ONE Tshirt just arrived from cafepress.
This puzzle was a Wednesday for me only because there were quite a few loopers, immediate fill:
ESIASON - our 15-year-old mutt-companion, Boomer, is on his last legs, unable to climb stairs any longer and on daily doses of arthritis medication. He was named for ESIASON.
NLRB - not unknowable at all, just ask your favorite Chicago "pinko" community organizer (May I give a shout AT...er, a shout out to Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, currently contributing to her opponents' campaigns after a brilliant display that she is BATS!)
FREESIA - I am already anticipating spring 2009, should I be blessed to live that long, doggone it.
PUNKY - we light PUNKS along with sparklers and firecrackers every Fourth
@Bob Kerfuffle - I went the CAUSAL route, too, at first, Fergus, wanted MODE for a long time
Very enjoyable, at least to me.

ArtLvr 3:06 PM  

Congrats on finding the ring! So glad it was in the bag -- not on the lawn somewhere!

∑;)

chefbea1 3:19 PM  

I agree this was easier than yesterday..and more fun.

Third time in a few weeks that we have had trey.

As for sausages... you can have sausage paddies or sausage links. I have NEVER heard them referred to as chain linked.. not even at IHOP.

Anonymous 3:33 PM  

cobal visicalc fortran ...

frankD

Jet City Gambler 3:35 PM  

This was a breeze for me compared to yesterday, started with SPENSER to ESIASON ("Boomer of the NFL whose real name is Norman") and I was off and running.

I'm not a Mac nor a PC, more of an ENIAC, so ALGOL wasn't completely unfamiliar (although I stuck with COBOL too long).

Great puzzle, Brad!

joho 4:07 PM  

COBOL, ALGOL, NLRB = Gibberish to me. This puzzle smacked me down. I'm surprised to hear how less of a Saturday it was to most everybody here. I must be brain dead. I even knew the answer ESIASON but couldn't spell it. Yes, definitely brain dead.

Absolutely loved GONZOJOURNALISM. Seeing this in the puzzle for the first time made all other trials melt away.

I think I'll go me some Scotch and shoot something.

bill from fl 4:24 PM  

I thought this one was about as hard as yesterday's but with a more prolonged period of unease as I sought a decent foothold. RENTALS, ESIASON, and NCR gave me CASE, then the first long answer. Like others, I had KIRIN for a while; I only got ASAHI because I'd heard the name for other Japanese products.
GONZO JOURNALISM was great, but it made me regret that we don't have Hunter Thompson during this election season.

Doug 4:25 PM  

Wow, based on a VERY unscientific poll it's usually the guy who loses the ring! In any case, the full day rental charge is nothing compared to losing a wedding ring. My trick for not losing my ring outside -- I wear gloves. ;-)

imsdave1 5:09 PM  

Two hour frost delay for golf today here in CT (sigh), hence the late entry. Firstly, don't you go dissin' COBOL, I still make my living off that language.

@fergus - I too dropped in KIRIN immediately (of course, I'm biased as that's my daughters name). Couldn't agree with you more on the quality of the two beers.

I would like to think that the NLRB is more commonly known then it appears to be.

@Rex - you were lucky that the ALGOL crossing you remember, SAS, wasn't clued as a programming language instead of the airline. Worthless acronym resolution of the day, Statistical Ananysis System.

imsdave1 5:16 PM  

Analysis

Shamik 5:35 PM  

Ack! Have to call this one medium-challenging. Finished it with only one wrong letter (COGENCE for COGENCY), but left it feeling like many of my answers might be wrong anyway. Yeesh. Was all over the map on this one and really wanted BOOMSHAKALAKA on that slam dunk. Hey, it worked once, why not again?

As short as my mis-starts list was the other day is as long as this one is (did that make sense?)

LOTUS and COBOL for ALGOL
COGENCE for COGENCY (hey..we could rush for editors...it could happen)
MODE for SORT
EMMA for IRMA
ICEPOLE for SNIGGLE (how way off is that?)
MYSTERY FOR ROMANCE (a preference)
BAR for ZAG

You mean it isn't WRACK and ruin? A google says that RACK is a variant of WRACK.

This puzzle just didn't make me happy.

Michael 6:22 PM  

I seem to be in a minority, but I thought this was harder than yesterday's. (That is; for me the Friday-Saturday order was right). For what it is worth both ALGOL and NLRB were familiar to me (as was Spenser), so it wasn't a personal Natick. (For that matter, "Natick" isn't a Natick for me.) I wouldn't have finished this without one lookup (not technical a google, since I did it the old-fashioned way with a book) for saps at sea.

Gonzo journalism was a great answer

Wade 6:23 PM  

Robert Urich's dead?! Why do you people never tell me these things?

And Asahi! I had the last three letters and still couldn't get it. Still might not have helped me finish the SE, what with FREESIA, COSMIST and S_ _ _ MAN. I finished the rest of the puzzle, but SNIGGLE is brand new and stupid to me. Every kind of fishing is sticking a baited hook into a hole, except your namby-pamby fly-fishing.

I bought a video camera. I'm filming everything now. I want it all on the record, every last sordid bit of it.

Margaret 6:27 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, mainly because the very first thing I put in was "go to rack and ruin." It just popped in my head and it fit -- and to my amazement, it continued to fit. I knew NLRB but not Algol. Cobol got me most of the way there.

Didn't we recently have ELEGIST in exactly the same spot? It was clued as "Thomas Gray and others," as I recall. Very déja-vu-ish.

(One of the few times in my life when I had the right retort at the right time was in about 1979. I mentioned to a guy I was dating that I had listened to the Crosby, Stills album Déja Vu so much that I knew it backwards and forwards. He asked, "So what does it sound like backwards?" Without missing a beat the obvious answer came to me: "Vu ja-dé.")

Anonymous 6:36 PM  

@Rex

I never thought you called a Natick casually, just that per your cited archive, checked twice, the process wasn't clearly defined, so I had a bit of fun.

After all, its always assumed the *unseeded* will challenge the
(55th) *master*.

Just one suggestion --- you probably shouldn't consider *search hits* a significant criteria --- I'm a 40+ year *dead tree* solver --- and don't use *on line* searches. Bet there's a significant number of us out there, enough to skew the numbers.

Databases I accept, but have never accepted *if it's in wiki it must be true*.

Natick seems to be a valid call for constructors from you, but it seems to have gone the generic way of Kleenex(tm) and Xerox(tm).

My lighthearted point.

.../Glitch

Wade 6:45 PM  

I know a guy named Hoang Vu who has a sister named Deja. The first time you meet her you get the feeling you've met her before.

thebubbreport 6:45 PM  

SHAMIK, I wondered about WRACK v. RACK as well. I always have to look it up when I am RACKING my brain for the difference between the two! I always think it should be WRACK one's brain. Apparently, the American Heritage dictionary says it can be WRACK and RUIN or RACK and RUIN. I learn something new everyday from the puzzle and this blog!

becky

Rex Parker 6:49 PM  

Dead Tree solvers search for answers all the time. That has zero to do with whether one will google an answer or not. OF THOSE searching, a certain percentage search for one term above all others. There's no reason those who search and those who don't shouldn't find the same clues troubling.

And Wade, that is by far the unfunniest thing you've ever written here. You're scaring me

rp

mac 7:13 PM  

I am solidly with Rex on the Natick issue. I don't have that excuse for some other problems, though:

15A: maximum sentence
18A: emotes
28A: salt
29A: whores
41A: mode
37D: saffron (that happens to be a crocus)

On the other hand, local anesthesia and skirt the issue came with hardly any crosses. I liked a lot of the clues and answers, all of them mentioned before.

Do you think the NYT will be lambasted again because it snuck in BAMA?

Anonymous 7:21 PM  

I have issues with "cosmist" vs. "cosmologist."
First, my spell check does not recognize the former.
Second, having been the latter for some years,
I have never heard of the former.
Third, I am prejudiced, thinking it better describes a bias towards the cosmos, a la aphist or proist, than a study of the cosmos, or perhaps a practitioner of he cosmos, a la Marxist or illusionist.

markus 7:58 PM  

Thank you Rex for the A-Ha video. One of the greatest songs/videos period! Your post... even better! And I might be young enough to really appreciate it amognst other posters, but seriously, thank you.

chefbea1 8:40 PM  

it's 8:39 time for a nap so I can be awake for SNL

steve l 8:59 PM  

Got to the puzzle late today because family and I were in Providence, RI, looking at Brown Univ., which my daughter is considering applying to. So with a copy of the NYT purloined from a nearby coffeehouse, I was sitting in the car outside a Brown quad waiting for daughter to come out of a dorm that she talked her way into seeing, and thus began the puzzle dead-tree style, which I rarely do anymore. Got through the top left and across the top right corner, with no problem from the S in SPENSER (Remember it from the TV show, which I never watched) and the SAUSAGE flowed from there. ESIASON was easy from his Jets days, and I was stuck on the Pascal clue. I must say that I never heard of ALGOL, and to tell the truth, I saw Pascal and thought, "mathematician." I said, "Funny, never heard of this ALGOL guy." But I knew that AL beginnings often indicated Arabic names, and knew that the Arabs were innovators in math a long time ago, so I figured there was this Middle Eastern math dude named ALGOL. (I had heard of COBOL, although that's as far as it goes.) I had much more trouble with the bottom half, but maybe that was because the family came back and we started driving (not me personally!!) and I tried to finish with a lot of conversation going on. Now, on to the Sunday puzzle!

foodie 9:34 PM  

@Steve I said, I wonder if in fact the clue was intended to mislead. It's interesting that so many of us thought readily of Pascal the programming language as opposed to Blaise Pascal. It's rather amazing how new (typically computer) uses of classic names take over the meaning. Does anyone think that a Macintosh means a real apple, much less a raincoat?

Re the possibility that ALGOL referred to an Arab mathematician,I wonder if your association came from Algebra, a derivative of Al-Jabr an Arabic word meaning "binding" (as in the process of healing of a broken bones). The closest word in Arabic to ALGOL would be ALGOOL (the Ghoul!).

@wade, I'm glad you feel the same about SNIGGLE as I do. What an amazing word... And I too was shocked that Robert Urich was dead (and 6 years ago!). Where have I been!

@Andrea, hope you're off somewhere celebrating your birthday and having a blast.

mac 10:02 PM  

Congratulations to all these October babies. Tomorrow is my son's birthday, and he will be celebrating it without us in Jaipour....
We will be with him for Christmas, though!

@foodie: sniggle is an odd word for fishing, does it have something to do with eels?

fikink 10:16 PM  

@foodie, oddly enough, the first person I thought of WAS Blaise Pascal because I was interested, at one time, in his philosophical inquiries. This reinforces my theory that crossword puzzles can be a solipsistic enterprise...
and Macintosh was, at one time, a brand of stereo components, of which I think despite doing the puzzle on an Apple computer.

acme 2:44 AM  

Hi!
First, thanks all for bday wishes, I was out all day celebrating, tho snuck home @ 5 to do the puzzle and take a nap, just so I could check the blog!

@Jannieb
Thanks for the wishes...I also didn't get SOLI thought it was referring to the sun as a star and playing on SOL-ar something. Yikes.

@Rex
My dad, who is a surgeon, said he never wore a wedding ring as he was afraid it might drop into a patient (this was decades before the Seinfeld Junior Mint episode...)
It took us (and my poor mother) years to realize "Hey wait a minute, he'd be wearing gloves"
(That and him always introducing her as his "first wife" should have been a tip-off!)

@sethg
I wish I HAD lived with Urich in the 80's as I put in SPENCER and then had CAUSATE... so not even close on the ALGOL (AL GOL, didn't he invent the internet?)

OK, sethg, you wanted a namedropping story on my bday, you got one:
Went out for drinks with Hunter Thompson back in 1977? 78? when he had given a very drunken, drugged speech at Harvard Law School...
he was the biggest asshole I've ever met. Various Kennedys were there and Doris Kearns Goodwin, her husband, and their 8(?) yr old daughter who was allowed to stay up late and run wild. Gonzo indeed.

@Fergus
tonight's affair more subdued...
held court at a crepe place I've recently renamed Honey Honey.
Bought a tank top that said SF 49er, since now I'm officially one.
(However, I actually had to ask if that was the baseball team or the football team, which may help explain why I originally put in ELIASON and had ---S for BAMA.)

Loved that Rex had to qualify

"80s sports are a specialty - I think sports figures of your youth (esp. if you're a boy) are like the music of your youth: the names (or lyrics) just stick to your brain whether you like it or not."

I think I'd rewrite that as "only if you are a boy" ;)

still-workin'-on-naming-those-five-Twins,
andrea

Bill from NJ 11:46 PM  

It is axiomatic that we all have holes in our bodies of knowledge and equally axiomatic that we hate to be called on them.

Those holes are so idiosyncratic that I am amazed more by what people do NOT know than by what they DO know.

To me, calling people out over their ignorance of certain information is the height of bad form and I get a bad taste in my mouth when folks do it to me and I would never, EVER do it to others

Rod 6:29 PM  

Wow, I love your blog! Humorously enough, I found it by Googling "causage". I knew that wasn't a word!

boardbtr 11:25 PM  

Five weeks later. No gimmes - totally hopeless project today. So I just quit and skimmed through the blog. It was so hopeless that I couldn't even work up much interest in the blog comments.

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