SATURDAY, Oct. 25, 2008 -Karen M. Tracey (Trailing evergreen related to savory / Captor of Han Solo / Sherlock's French counterpart)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Karen M. Tracey is one of the three greatest themeless constructors on the planet, and this puzzle shows why. I Loved It. From start to finish, everything about this puzzle made me happy, even the outrageous or absurd parts. What the hell is an EARTH SHINE (26D: Faint illumination of the moon's dark side)!? I had no idea, but I could infer the answer from crosses ... and with a rotational symmetrical twin like JACKANAPES (12D: Whippersnapper), I'm willing to forgive EARTH SHINE its oddness. AFICIONADO (11D: Buff) must be one of the most frequently misspelled words in the English language. I never ever Ever spell it correctly. I always want two F's, or an A where that first O's supposed to go. All I can say is that the word looks Outstanding next to JACKANAPES - but maybe most words would. JACKANAPES! I just like saying it. And it crosses JELLYSTONE (28A: Park in Ranger Smith's charge). Two 10-letter J-words, crossing swords. Fantastic.

Allow me to rhapsodize some more - the full names of JAMES JOYCE (5D: Writer of the 1918 play "Exiles") and IRENE ADLER (14A: Opera singer created by Arthur Conan Doyle) and CHE GUEVARA (41A: "Guerrilla Warfare" author, 1961) and TARA REID (19A: Player of Danni Sullivan on "Scrubs")!? OK, I could have done without that last one, but look at that cultural spread. High, low, fictional, historical. This puzzle is culturally voracious. It'll be a little too heavy on the pop culture for some solvers - a quick scan reveals at least four contemporary actors, two cartoon references, TUPAC Shakur (25D: First name in rap), and JABBA the Hutt (5A: Captor of Han Solo), for instance. [musical interlude about Boba Fett, the bounty hunter hired by Jabba to find Han]:

And yet the haters should pipe down - this one's frame of reference is broad enough that everyone should be able to find something to like. One minor problem - I did not know IRENE ADLER (though I'd seen her fairly recently, it turns out). So getting the first "L" in BLEDEL (7D: "Gilmore Girls" co-star Alexis) was ... well, it was flat-out guess. ADLER was the only name that seemed right. BLEDEL looked nuts, but it was better than any alternative.

The face-poundingest answer in this puzzle has to be YERBA BUENA (29D: Trailing evergreen related to savory). Frankly, I don't know what region of my ... brain I pulled it from. For some reason, when I had the YERBA, I wanted MATTA. Turns out I was thinking of YERBA MATE, which is a kind of tea alternative you can find in the "Stuff White People Like" part of your suburban grocery. My brain was also flashing on Chichen Itza and Cibo Matto:

Firing squad:

  • 10A: _____ 1000, annual Mexican off-road race (Baja) - no idea, but easy enough
  • 24A: Princess in Mozart's "Idomeneo" (Ilia) - No Idea; see also 2D: 24-Across's "Zeffiretti lusinghieri," e.g. (aria)
  • 46D: Joe's love interest in "South Pacific" (Liat) - really the most absurd name in all of fiction. I remember the first time I saw it, two years ago, which is also the last time I saw it. Musicals shmusicals Seussicals.
  • 25A: College Park player, briefly (Terp) - one of a handful of gimmes in the puzzle, which made the puzzle easier than it might have been.
  • 31A: Trucial States, today: Abbr. (UAE) - Never heard of "Trucial States" - it's weird how many terms and names I've never heard of today, considering how easy I found the puzzle.
  • 33A: Cone holders (retinas) - left the last letter open, thinking I might get an -AE spelling.
  • 39A: Generational indicator in some names (Ibn) - "son of," Arabic-style.
  • 49A: Brunswick stew ingredient (squirrel) - let's see the foodists suck on that today
  • 54A: Conspirator's cautious conversation starter ("Are we alone?") - HA ha. Paranoia. Cloak and dagger. Awesome.
  • 59A: He-Man's twin sister (She-Ra) - Princess of Power

  • 1D: Roman's foe of yore (Pict) - I am fan of most things Scottish ("Braveheart" excepted), so this was not hard.
  • 3D: Apt. amenity (terr.) - "Hey, what's the Yukon doing in my apt."
  • 23D: Professional shooter, briefly (SLR) - somehow, I saw through this instantly. SLR = single lens reflex, a type of camera
  • 30D: Davis who played Maggie in two "Matrix" movies (Essie) - me, for a good chunk of my solving time: "But ... there's ... there's just no way OSSIE Davis was in those movies. I'd have noticed."
  • 42D: Sherlock's French counterpart (Arsène) - I don't think Sherlock was a "gentleman thief," but OK.
  • 51D: Vance Air Force Base locale (Enid) - classic crossword geography. Also, a song I listened to a lot in 1992 - these guys look like dorks, but then ... well, pot/kettle, frankly:

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


imsdave1 9:09 AM  

Good tough workout. I'm with Rex on the ADLER BLEDEL (?) cross, right down to the 'what else could it be?' part. Finished in a reasonable time with one error. I had BUENO for BUENA. The resulting SHERO lokked like a cartoony compound word she-hero so I fell for it.

jannieb 9:17 AM  

This was neither easy or medium for me. Couldn't solve it without help. The Western Hemisphere was no problem, but the Eastern seaboard gave me fits, with the SE corner the last to fall.

I kept filling in "Iraq War" and erasing it. Just couldn't think how "qu" would be in Brunswick stew if it wasn't squash. Had Lads for striplings so Merlot wasn't coming. Kept trying to vary the spelling of moselle.

Some great fresh fill, so I can forgive the rough spots. But this was not easier than yesterday for me.

ArtLvr 9:45 AM  

Fun to see REITERATES after the discussion yesterday. Having said that, I admit to admiring today's puzzle but not loving it...

KRAUSE? or a BLEDEL crossing a JABBA? TARAREID, TUPAC, SHERA, ESSIE? No, non, nein, nichevo and nuts! Not my cup of tea.


bigredanalyst 9:47 AM  

First time poster but long-time reader of this blog; I only do the Fri, Sat and Sun puzzles.

I also thought yesterday's was harder. That one required about six Googles while today's was "Google-free." Even though pop culture is not my thing I was able to get today's by the crosses and some "what else could it be's."

I also had LADS instead on TADS making the SE harder than it should have been.

Also had STACKS instead of SLACKS at 20A for a while.

Do you think Tony Blair is happy with being included in the puzzle because he advocated the IRAQ WAR?

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

You say easy, I say hard as s**t. Really wanted MCCAIN for red choice. Also had YARROWROOT for YERBABUENA for a while. JABBA and JELLYSTONE were gimmes that opened up a lot of territory. Brunswick Stew is a southeastern dish--Georgia I believe...I've seen recipes for it but have never eaten it.

fpbear 10:01 AM  

Perhaps experience level decides relative difficulty (I finished an entire week for the first time about a year ago), but i disagree with the Rex Rating this week. Yesterday was the easiest Friday I have ever done (less than 10 minutes; very fast for me), and I gave up today after an hour with 8 empty squares (I don't Google). Different strokes.

Crosscan 10:03 AM  

No, no, no, no, no.

I usually like Karen Tracey puzzles, but just too much here I have never heard of and couldn't infer.


Unless the whole puzzle is actually a story:


I iterate and REITERATE... no. I want to forget this entire week.

Meat eater (but not a bad guy) 10:04 AM  

First time, long time.

I am prompted to post because I love Karen Tracey so much. I'm not sure if it's because we seem to be on the same wave length ( unlike, say, Patrick Berry for me) or if I just find her puzzles not difficult as I brought this one in under 15 minutes which is really good for me although time is not an important issue but just sayin'.

I'm a fan of Conan Doyle so IRENE ADLER was a gimme for me as was TARA REID because she was photographed last year with a breast out of her dress and a 20-something blue collar guy like myself tends to remember things like that.

I recognize Joyce's only play so the entire NE fell almost at once.

I'm not sure how Joyce, Jellystone Park, Coco Chanel and Che all fit together in my mind but I guess that's what makes me a crossword solver.

wendy 10:08 AM  

Karen Tracey - so inventive. Loved the culture clues - especially IRENE ADLER, my grandmother's maiden name, and Alexis BLEDEL. I screamed a little with the SQUIRREL, not realizing that's what's in Brunswick stew, but the answer was awesome.

Poor Tony Blair - Jon Stewart grilled him about the IRAQ WAR recently on the Daily Show, and he did a great job standing up to the interrogation and stating his case given what he believed at the time. Others would have crumbled. But as a result of seeing that, this clue was a gimme.

I had III for IBN (I was so sure!), and Maroon for MERLOT, and oh yes, Bemolten for BASALTIC, so that kinda wrecked me after awhile. 'Nads didn't look right, at least not for the NYT puzzle ;)!

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

Aargh! Proper name Hell . . . but then not as hard as it first looked. I thought I had it done perfectly, and rather quickly for a Saturday, until I read Rex's remarks and saw that it is "Che Guevara', not "Che Guevera'. "Ersene" seemed as good as "Arsene", but Che is too well known to call a Natick. However, I had to guess at the last 2 letters of 43A, MOSE. Crossing Jackanapes (is that a singular word ending in S?) and Essie Davis (who?), it might seem to call at least for a discussion of what percentage of the solving population is likely to know all three of those.

Bob Kerfuffle

Ulrich 10:42 AM  

My start was great: The choice between "ben" and "ibn" was immediately resolved by "iraq war" (major beef: why blame foreigners and not name the guys who really got the ball rolling--or is this the typical Saturday obfuscation?), and "squirrel" followed soon as a good guess. But the NE gave me fits and I ended up googling for "jellystone" and then "essie" b/c I, too, didn't remember Ossie Davis in the movie. In sum: Definitely too many proper names for my taste.

twangster 10:56 AM  

I'm with those who found this one as hard as Friday's.

Norm 11:04 AM  

I'm with Rex on this one. I had a lot of WTF moments (TV actors and actresses are one of my big weaknesses) but everything was inferrable in the end. Very enjoyable.

chefbea1 11:06 AM  

Me too. as hard as Fridays. Jackanapes??? Can I put one in my brunswick stew, along with a sprig of yerba buena? I make brunswick stew stew a lot and its really good...its just so hard catching those darned squirrels
I use chicken, corn, lima beans. of course served with a glass of merlot - my favorite.

Norm 11:06 AM  

Oh, have to say that crosscan was very funny today.

VaBeach puzzler 11:34 AM  

I had a measure of trouble with 47D, "Measure of support." I stuck with "clap" for long minutes before "Ccup" won out. Cute!

mellocat 11:36 AM  

So JACKANAPES is not as familiar to people as I thought it would be -- I loved getting that one in a grid. (And as a bonus, I thought, it wasn't a proper name, which this one already had plenty of.)

I guess Arsène is a counterpart by virtue of the fact that he's the main character? That's twice (different pubs) I've tried to get "Herlock Sholmes" into a clue and it hasn't worked.

Thanks for the comments! Glad some are liking it, though I knew the names would be a problem for some.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

I agree that yesterday's was much harder - I don't usually Google but needed multiples yesterday. Even though there were way too many TV names today, the crosses saved them.
One thing I hated, though, was TADS for striplings - hard to swallow that one.

Doug 11:50 AM  

My dad used to bring books home from trips (probably got them on sale in airports) and the best was The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. If I'm not mistaken A Scandal in Bohemia featuring Irene Adler was the first story, and this excellent story is available online here:

Wish ARSENE has been clued as Arsenal Football Club Manager.

Otherwise, swell puzzle although I only completely nailed the top half, AKA Canada, the 51st state. Don't boo me Crosscan et. al. as I am one of your countrymen. Prove it, you say? Stephane Dion est un grand weenie, oui ou non? AFFIRMATIF!

Crosscan 11:55 AM  

No way we are the 51st state, Doug. We joined before Alaska and Hawaii.

Doug 12:02 PM  

Ha! Nice one CC. I live in Vancouver, but am unfortunately in Toronto right now and getting this crap weather.

dk 12:03 PM  

I suppose i will now have to determine if TARAREID is a CCUP as I search for a theme to this puzzle. Thank you in advance @meateater for all the junk email I will get following my research.

I struggled with all the TV names and YERBABUENA but managed to get them in crosses.

Tough but doable and google free.

chefbea1 12:07 PM  

Thanks mellocat (Karen) for chiming in. I will make you a big pot of Brunswick stew - I'm putting it on to simmer right now.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

Too many names, with Ilia and Mose (not really real names) crossing the ridiculous jackanapes. This puzzle sucked.

imsdave1 12:11 PM  

Nerd moment of the day. Wasn't the 'captor' of Han Solo - Boba Fett?

@dk - suprised to hear that you knew SHERA.

imsdave1 12:11 PM  

Nerd moment of the day. Wasn't the 'captor' of Han Solo - Boba Fett?

@dk - suprised to hear that you knew SHERA.

ArtLvr 12:25 PM  

p.s. Rex -- what happened to the trashcan icon which allowed us to delete our own posts???

joe 12:33 PM  

Not easy. Not medium. Just hard.

Meat eater (but not a bad guy) 12:39 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle-

My guess is that the subset of People who do Crosswords versus that subset of People who do not do Crosswords is more likely to know all three because miscellaneus information of little practical worth is the lifeblood of solvers.

Alex 12:40 PM  

Had no idea that JACKANAPES always ends in S. So I had JACKANAPE and couldn't figure out what to put in the last letter and decided it must be S but there was singular/plural disagreement with the clue.

Also screwed up in the SE because I had -A-ANO-IO and assumed it was somewhere in OHIO.

JABBA at 5A and BAJA at 10A were immediate gimmes so I kind of hoped the entire top row would consist of just three letters: A, B, and J. 1A eventually disappointed. Lots of J goodness in the puzzle, though.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

Nice puzzle - also an interesting coincidence. Che Guevera was the answer on final Jeopardy last night.

Shamik 12:43 PM  

Whew! That was the MOST CHALLENGING Saturday puzzle I've ever completed correctly. Can I say that again. THE MOST CHALLENGING. Don't even want to say how much time it took.

But I loved it. Really felt I would have to walk away from this one and come back later with a clear head, but finished in one sitting. Lots of good/infrequently seen answers. And glad I just went to a wedding at the U of Maryland chapel, so knew TERP.

Thanks Chefbea, I thought Brunswick Stew had lima beans in it...which is why i've never eaten it. LOL...squirrel I'd try.

Mis-starts galore:
POP for RAH...think cereal bowl
EARTHSHADE for EARTHSHINE...helps to read the clue correctly



Two Ponies 12:47 PM  

What a fun puzzle after yesterday's whipping (for me at least). I'm with Rex on his rating today. A true cross-cultural journey. At first I never thought I would get all of those proper names but somehow it fell into place. What sort of name is Mose?? Did your pen run out of ink before you could write the last S?
Had to chuckle that reiterate popped up right on the tail of iterate from yesterday.
I figured some sort of wild game made that stew but had to wait to see what appeared. That Q really opened up the SE corner for me.
Circumvent, earth shine, and jackanapes all looked great in the grid.
Loved the clue for Leos.
Is Tara Reid any relation to Tim Reid of WKRP?
@ mellocat - Thanks for a fresh and fun puzzle. Always a thrill when the constructor makes a guest appearance here.

Orange 12:54 PM  

I love anonymous comments like this: "Too many names, with Ilia and Mose (not really real names) crossing the ridiculous jackanapes. This puzzle sucked." Those are "not really real names"? Well, Mose John Allison, Jr., was named after his dad in 1927, and there are also a bunch of Russian men named Ilia. Shorter version of the comment: "Wah wah. I didn't know the answers."

I thought JACKANAPES sounded like something Mr. Burns would say, so I Googled it. I don't know if Mr. Burns ever used the word, but "Day of the Jackanapes" is the title of a 2001 Simpsons episode.

Like Rex, I always enjoy Karen Tracey's themelesses, especially when they're packed with names. Well, there was that one puzzle with JACQUELINEDUPRE that damn near killed me, but hey, I'll never forget the name after that.

Orange 12:56 PM  

P.S. EARTHSHINE is one word, from astronomy. (Analogous to moonshine, sunshine, "Good Morning Starshine.") I'd never seen the word before so I looked it up after I solved the puzzle. Lovely word!

steve l 1:28 PM  

After doing puzzles for a very long time, there are very few words that I can't infer or figure out and then say, "Oh, yeah." JACKANAPES was one of them. I don't believe I've ever seen that word before. Now that happens to me maybe once every couple of months in the crosswords, so at this point, it's a fairly rare occurrence. Plus, since I'm not big on opera and classical music, I didn't really know Mozart's princess. (I am like Wade--I listen to both kinds of music. To me, the classics are Hank Williams and Patsy Cline. And despite that, I didn't really know the ingredient of Brunswick stew.) I initially had an S at the cross, but ILIS didn't seem like a princess's name. A lot of the names were gettable, but there were a lot. I'm not complaining that the puzzle wasn't fair; I'm just not one of those who thinks Fri.'s puzzle was harder. And I was a little bit disappointed it was this hard after Rex's comment yesterday.

fikink 1:28 PM  

@hereinfranklin, I would have loved seeing MCCAIN next to IRAQWAR. Sweet!
Despite that unmet fantasy, I really liked this puzzle because it was difficult for me this morning. JACKANAPES was a word that I hadn't thought of in a long time, it was gratifying when I worked it out.
Thank-you, Ms. Tracey. Got my blood flowing to my brain!

Karmasartre 1:41 PM  

Mose Allsion -- the one they call the seventh son.

miriam b 1:42 PM  

Yerba is Spanish for herb. The settlement which ultimately became San Francisco was called Yerba Buena (good herb) because of the profusion of these plants in the area. Yerba maté refers to a specific holly-like plant. I've tried the tea, but it's not exactly my cup of -. And of course there are other yerbas; e.g., yerba santa.

I saw a SQUIRREL on my porch roof this morning. It was eyeing some raccoon excrement (Breakfast test statute of limitations has expired for today.), which is likely infested with a dangerous roundworm. I'll take my Brunswick stew with chicken, thank you, or even vegetarian style. But don't hold the lima beans. I have no idea why they're so unpopular, nor why another vegetable so exhaustively discussed here is also scorned. As for the latter, I hope all of you are cooking the greens. The whole thing is highly nutritious, the greens especially so.

I liked the puzzle a lot, though TARAREID nd BLEDEL were unfamiliar. JAMESJOYCE abd IRENEADLER stepped in to help, so I can't cry NATICK. A well-balanced puzzle, in short. Thanks, Ms. Tracey.

Greene 1:43 PM  

What a difference a day makes! While not easy, I was able to solve without a single google. Took me all morning and a half a pot of coffee, but there it is. I really enjoyed all the proper names and cultural references. For some reason, today I was completely in synch with the constructor (thanks Ms. Tracey), although JACKANAPES and YERBA BUENA were unknown to me.

@Rex: I am mystified -- how is Liat the most absurd name in all fiction? Granted it has a Hebrew origin (meaning "you are mine") so it seems a bit out of place for a Tonknese girl, but the overall effect strikes me as rather sweet. How is it any more absurd than say Humbert Humbert, Natty Bumpo, or Martin Chuzzlewit? OK, OK you hate musical theatre, I get it.

I actually got the IRENE ADLER answer from my aquaintance with a 1965 Broadway musical adaption of several of the Sherlock Holmes stories (including "A Scandal in Bohemia") known as "Baker Street." Not a very good show at all, but the golden-voiced Inga Swenson as Irene Adler was most memorable. Funny how these little bits of cultural detritus come in so handy with crosswords.

chefbea1 1:53 PM  

@miriamb boy do I have a great greens recipe!! Just sent it to you

steve l 2:18 PM  

@greene--I believe it's Natty Bumppo. Not to mention a dozen other Dickens characters, and some of the guys in Harry Potter whose names, I'm sure, were patterned after Dickens.

steve l 2:20 PM  

Not to mention Jabba the Hutt.

Anonymous 2:31 PM  

Totally stupid puzzle, I must disagree with you Rex. My wife and I love puzzles that require problem-solving, not myriad knowledge of cultural minutiae. Being required to use Google is the mark of a bad puzzle, not a good one.

joho 3:24 PM  

@jannieb @fpbearv @steve: I agree, today's puzzle was more difficult than yesterday's. I solved Friday with no help and but one guess. Today I messed up by misspelling AFICIONADO and trying to convince myself that it was OSSIE Davis in the "Matrix" movies. While I saw all three, I didn't recall ESSIE Davis being in them. What really gets me that even with the "J" and the thought of the Jetson's in my head, I still failed to get JELLYSTONE until I came here.

But while harder than yesterday to me, this puzzle rocked. This site is where I'm learning constructor's names and Karen M. Tracey is most cerainly one I'll remember and be looking for.

By the way, my back yard is rife with squirrels for anybody interesting in whipping up some Brunswick stew ....

thebubbreport 3:38 PM  

This was much more enjoyable for me than yesterday, probably because I watch way too much TV and know the actors. This is the most publicity TARAREID has received since she complained that she had "lost her perfect body" due to some bad plastic surgery.

I loved all the gimme "J" answers, but even a J and most of the other letters could not lead me to JACKANAPES! I'm off to learn more about this word.

Oh, I literally almost stepped on a dead SQUIRREL on my morning walk to get a coffee and a NYTimes this morning. Yucko! Someone gave my mother a Lafayette LA Junior League Cookbook as a hostess gift once and it was full of recipes that included those described as "a rat but with a cuter outfit"

Karen 3:57 PM  

Nerd reply to imsdave: Boba captured Han in ESB, but by the sixth episode Jabba owned Han's frozen body. So Jabba was a captor but not a capturer.

I'd call this one challenging too with its plethora of names; I think JACKSNAPES was my last answer, and I was surprised the applet aprived of my puzzle.

Karen 3:57 PM  

Nerd reply to imsdave: Boba captured Han in ESB, but by the sixth episode Jabba owned Han's frozen body. So Jabba was a captor but not a capturer.

I'd call this one challenging too with its plethora of names; I think JACKSNAPES was my last answer, and I was surprised the applet aprived of my puzzle.

Mike the Wino 4:06 PM  

Harder than yesterday for me, too, but I liked it! Didn't Google once, but I did Wikipedia four times, IMDB'd seven, and Yahoo'd twice. Those don't count, do they?

fergus 4:27 PM  

Best time to experience EARTHSHINE is just after sunset during the first few days following the new moon. You get a lovely thin crescent dipping in the western sky, with the rest of moon faintly aglow, looking a bit like a golf ball perched on a large tee.

Too many names for my puzzling pleasure, but I have the bias favoring wordplay over mere information. I wonder if "Exiles" is any good? From 1918, it's probably accessible. I reread some of the "Dubliners" stories recently, and was perhaps more amazed at their artistry than ever before.

LASS as a Sweetheart still doesn't quite work for me. I was very obdurate about keeping my LOVE entry. I've seen many fine KMT puzzles, but this one didn't seem like it would be among her best.

JoefromMtVernon 6:25 PM  

I think I finished Mon through Fri in less time than combined than today's. Hey, it's Saturday, and it's supposed to be rough. I got James Joyce only because of Jabba and Jellystone. Needed to google san antonio and yerba buena. So, no, this was challenging, not easy.


kevin der 6:46 PM  

incredibly hard, so many obscure factual clues...

green mantis 6:55 PM  

Fun puzzle, but I bombed jackanapes. No idea. My highlight came when I threw down squirrel without any crosses. I fear this says more about my latent hillbillyness than my crossword savvy.

Also? The nastiness from the anonymouses above is really unwelcome. Just, ew.

green mantis 6:56 PM  

Oh whoa they disappeared. Carry on!

chefbea1 7:17 PM  

lets all calm down!!!

Michael 7:24 PM  

I was going to say this was easier than yesterday because I finished it much more quickly. But that was before I found six (!) one-square mistakes. I am going to have look these over more carefully before I think I'm "done." [I obviously do the puzzles the old-fashioned way on paper.)

Rex Parker 7:28 PM  

Refresher course:

Comments should refrain from ad hominem attacks, derisive comments involving bodily fluids / body parts, and other trollish, dickish behavior such as one routinely witnesses at nearly all political blogs.

I don't delete comments for their disagreement with me (see, for instance, several comments above telling me that I am wrong and that the puzzle is, among other things, "stupid"). I delete mean-spirited assholes, mainly because my (many thousands of) readers hate them.

Carry on,

PS MOSE Allison is phenomenally famous, both as a blues and jazz musician and as an important influence on rock music: Elvis Costello, The Who, Van Morrison, The Clash, etc., have covered his songs.

Anonymous 7:52 PM  

I love anonymous comments like this: "Too many names, with Ilia and Mose (not really real names) crossing the ridiculous jackanapes. This puzzle sucked." Those are "not really real names"? Well, Mose John Allison, Jr., was named after his dad in 1927, and there are also a bunch of Russian men named Ilia. Shorter version of the comment: "Wah wah. I didn't know the answers."

Explain to me how the last sentence is not an ad hom attack.

Anonymous 8:03 PM  

Rex, how do you calculate your number of readers? Is it just pure page hits from unique IPs or is there some more complicated method you use, like looking at the number of views to the comments section from unique IPs? I ask because you're likely one of the top Google hits when someone Googles a tough clue verbatim, so many of your visitors are just that--visitors--rather than readers. I'd be interested to know how many dorks* there are out there who actually read your reviews on a regular basis.

*One of whom is me, so no one take offense at this; anyone who reads a blog about crosswords is a dork and it's time we all came to terms with that.

chefbea1 8:31 PM  

I disagree!!! I am not a dork. I just like crosswords and cooking

PuzzleGirl 10:26 PM  

Two of my very favorite television shows of all time are Sports Night and Gilmore Girls, so BLEDEL and KRAUSE were gimmes for me. Thought I was off to such a good start!

But I did not know MOSE Allison. I'm trying not to hate myself for that. I pulled JACKANAPE from somewhere waaaay back in my brain, but didn't know it ended in S. Thought it might be R? And maybe AFICIONADO was really aficionadA? And ESSI* could have been any kind of f-ed up name as far as I could tell. Leaving Allison's name what? Mark? Marc? Mort? No idea. Argh.

In the middle of the puzzle, I thought I was going to come here today and say "Can you guys believe I initially guessed SQUIRREL for the stew ingredient? How dumb is that?" Too funny that it was right.

I'm typically more on Karen's wavelength but had a really hard time with this one. But I still appreciate its beauty! Thanks, Mellocat!

fergus 11:32 PM  

Dropping by the library today and looking at the remainder bin, the first book that appeared was a novel by MAEVE Binchey. Curious coincidence -- though I may have seen her name before, it had never registered.

Rex Parker 11:45 PM  


"I'm not a dork" - HA ha. You should just hang a "dork" sign around your neck right now. As for me, I won Dorkfest '08, so I don't have anything to prove to anyone on that count.


When you say something thing like "this puzzle sucked," you've pretty much opened yourself up to a rude comeback. Plus, I'm not sure, legally/philosophically, if "ad hominem" can ever apply in relation to an anonymouse. It's hard to feel for someone who just snipes from the shadows. But no, I don't like the tone of the original message *or* Orange's reply. I (now) tend to let low-level meanness go by, because otherwise (witness!) it just escalates.

Oh, and @commenter questioning my number of actual "readers" - trust me, I mean "readers" (many of whom, it's true, were once "visitors"). Today, for instance, I've got something over 11K "visitors" (about avg). The bulk of that is "not referred from a search engine," and fully 10% comes from what is usually my most popular search term: [rex parker]. Today's next highest search term, in fact, is bringing only 1.8% of my traffic (seems fewer people know who Bella ABZUG is in syndication land than in sameday land, where that clue was nowhere near the top spot).


Orange 1:38 AM  

@Rex: Mea culpa. Congrats on your Dork title. Of course, though I don't have your comix dorkiness, I have enough other compensating dorkinesses that I think I could have bested you in Dorkfest if I had entered. I concede. You are indeed the bigger dork. Listen, don't dine and dash. Miss Teen Louisiana did that and was stripped of her sash. Do right by your honor.

hobbyist 6:28 AM  

Too bad re fighting here. I know Orange finds my comments to be pedantic but I do have one concern. These puzzles are so full of pop clues that I think they won't hold up in time. James Joyce, we all know but some of these TV stars and the like will fade fast and the future solver will be stymied and bored.

chefbea1 6:39 AM  

probably no one will see this but congrats Rex on the dork award!!! I read all about it

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

And allow me also to add my congratulations to Rex. After reading the full data on Dork Fest, I begin to wonder if, save for an obsession with crossword puzzles, I may not be a dork at all, or, horrors, might actually be NORMAL! Here's a possible test: Am I in fact the last contributor to this string of comments? Anyone out there?

Bob Kerfuffle

Anonymous 4:41 PM  

I usually check my answers here because it's free. I got PICT even though I had no idea what it meant. I put IRIS instead of ILIA, so that screwed me up a little.

I don't ever use Google. In fact one of my pet peeves/suspicions is that too many puzzle *writers* get into a jam and use Google to "invent" words to fit the blanks. If you need to use Google, then you should stick to the early part of the week.

Anonymous 4:56 PM  

Enough with obscure proper names from movies and TV! Don't puzzle constructors indulge in any other mental activities. This proper name usage is escalating and is really minimizing the "solving challenge." The usage is so widespread that names must the known. Solutions can not me resolved in many cases from the crosses.

charley 4:05 PM  

The apartment amenity (terr) is for terrace.

Arsene was a bitch for me and the lower right hand section kept me busy for a long time until I cheated and Googled this.

Calady 1:43 PM  

This was more of a trivia contest than a crossword puzzle. All those names! I just threw in the towel. Never heard of Tara, Blendel, etc. I think Crosscan said this better than I have, put please more wordplay and less "you know it or you don't". Yesterday's puzzle was a pleasure, can't say the same for this one.

Waxy in Montreal 12:49 PM  

Phew, just finished the syndicate version on Sunday afternoon. And only with the help of Google, Wikipedia, etc.

Funny, because IRENEADLER, BAJA, JELLYSTONE, IRAQWAR, JABBA and SQUIRREL were gimmes. Thereafter, though, encountered mostly brickwalls.

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