THURSDAY, Nov. 13, 2008 - Allan E. Parrish ("Time _____" (bygone sci-fi series) / Supreme Court writ, familiarly / Autobiographical novel of 1847)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "XXX" - three Xs in the puzzle are circled, and together (as "XXX") they form the clue for all three theme answers

I do not approve this message, I mean puzzle. Why are the Xs located where they are? Lots of puzzles have three Xs in them - you couldn't have put them into some kind of interesting arrangement or order? And where are the references to porn or moonshine, or even Vin Diesel (star of "XXX")? That would have at least livened things up a bit around here. The fact that you can make "XXX" into a clue for (at least) three different answers is interesting, but X-placement is so haphazard and lazy that I'm having trouble taking the puzzle seriously. When I see circled squares, I'm looking for a big payoff, a surprise, a .... something. And I get Xs. Yuck.

The NW was a Bear (this is not a criticism, just an observation). I had no idea who that LESTER director guy was (1D: Richard _____, director of "Help!" and "A Hard Day's Night"). To me, LESTER is the guy who recovered from cancer to pitch (and win) the final game of the 2007 World Series. He is now one of the very best pitchers in the Majors. Jon LESTER. Try him next time. Speaking of Boston, reader Doc John sent me a pic of the Awesomest Pair Of Nikes yesterday. They are maptastic, and the one place name I can see on them ... well, look for yourself (pic is blurry, but the word is legible, I think):

Can you make that out? It says "NATICK" - no foolin' (If you have no idea why this is compelling to me, read this). What (the hell) is going on at Nike? And how can I get me a pair of these, like, now? I might have to order some online or go to the (gag) mall tomorrow. Back to the puzzle. I had no idea Mars had ICECAPs (3D: Martian feature). I was looking (like some of you?) for, uh, ANTENNA or BIGEYES or the like. I have never heard of a CERT (4D: Supreme Court writ, familiarly), unless you count the singular form of the semi-popular breathmint ("With Retsin!"). I am still wondering how (non-whale-related) SPERM got into my puzzle (17A: Kind of bank). And B.F.'s damned ALMANACS took forever to come to me (5D: Output from Benjamin Franklin's press). The rest of the puzzle seemed ordinary in its difficulty, even a bit on the easy side for Thursday.

There was some thorniness here and there, not all of it pleasing. NESTS for (the expected) PESTS is decent misdirection (63A: Exterminators' targets). More misdirection at 21D: Bass relative (cello) - "bass" can be a fish, a musical part, or (here) an instrument. Oh, and an ale. And probably other stuff too. I know that during Prohibition, many people wanted to REPEAL the 18th Amendment, but I did not know that the "Movement" to REPEAL was called, simply, REPEAL (I see "Movement" was changed to "Cause" in the final version - 26A: Cause during Prohibition) - so some trouble there. I balked (perhaps pickily) at 19A: One-two connector, because the entire phrase, as I understand it (via Lawrence Welk) is "A one and a two ..." That first "A" seems crucial to me. Never heard of BEL esprit (49A) or "Time TRAX" (56A: "Time _____" (bygone sci-fi series)). I squawked like crazy at @#$#!-ing "O ME" (40A: "_____, what eyes hath Love put in my head": Shak.), but only because I wasn't parsing it right and thought it was a contraction of "HOME" (which, in my defense, I have seen in the puzzle). I still don't like the letter combo as fill, but this is at least slightly more palatable than the Kipling clue a couple weeks back.

For some reason the clue for MCLEAN has been changed from its original [Virginia city where the C.I.A. is headquartered] to the currect 31A: Virginia locale where the C.I.A. is headquartered. Is MCLEAN not a city? Whoa, it's not - it's a "CDP" (Census-Designated Place!). As if the C.I.A. weren't spooky enough, here's the description (from Wikipedia) of where its headquarters are located:

The CIA's headquarters is in the community of Langley in the McLean CDP of Fairfax County, Virginia, a few miles west of Washington, D.C. along the Potomac River.

So it's in a community in a place in a county in a state near a district along a river. I see.

Notable otherness:

  • 1A: Pioneering 35 mm. camera (Leica) - I get this and the spacedog confused
  • 16A: Cannes presentation (cine) - highbrow implications contrast nicely with lowbrow NITE (8D: Time on a marquee).
  • 25A: Certain Crimeans (Tatars) - weird how instinctive this answer is becoming for me.
  • 30A: Year Michelangelo began "David" (MDI) - at least this random Roman numeral (not THIRTY IN OLD ROME, but 1501) is given some historical heft, some raison d'etre.
  • 43A: Supermodel Bundchen (Gisele) - I think she dated / dates Tom Brady (Patriots QB), which is the only reason I know her name. I spelled it GISELA at first.
  • 47A: Sound in a Bobby Darin song title (splish) - yay, this clue was changed from [Light water sound] to this far more vibrant option. Bobby Darin did much better work, however. Here is my favorite song of his (with supercool pics of him and Sandra Dee):

  • 57A: A sheriff may be seen in it (oater) - great xword word. A sheriff may also be seen in Jim Thompson's "The Killer Inside Me," which I'm teaching this week. It's ... horrifying. Dirty, gruesome, shocking, awesome, hilarious. A noir masterpiece.
  • 62A: P.M. known as the Iron Lady (Meir) - I feel like she's having a massive resurgence in puzzle popularity in recent weeks.
  • 7D: Autobiographical novel of 1847 (Omoo) - one of the most common of all crossword words, and yet it evaded me for a bit because the clue was so nondescript.
  • 11D: Gum choice (cinnamon) - I much preferred the original clue, [Stick in the kitchen?]
  • 22D: McKellen who played Gandalf (Ian) - easy. He's a Great actor. If you have not yet seen "Extras" (Ricky Gervais's post-"The Office" sitcom), here is a small taste of why you should:

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Happy Birthday to mom, Happy Birthday to mom, Happy Birthday to my mom, Happy Birthday to mom

PPS Happy Birthday also to teen constructing phenom Natan Last. He's still a teen, though at least he's in college now (albeit at a safety school ... "Brown?" Who's ever heard of that? What is that, UPS College?)


dk 1:08 AM  

Late so here go the random thoughts:

The "company" office I went to was in Reston.

My clock is not broken as this one took some whiles.

I had pest for NESTS and no idea who the super model was, but once had a co-worker with the name GISELE so that helped.

Brown as a safety school, Rex that is rich. Wait till he finds out it is hard.

Rex, Tell your mom we are all proud of you, because we are.

Sandra Dee was often referred to as sand dunes in a sweater for some reason.

Regarding the puzzle as a whole I though it was fine. I do not share Rex's issues with the X's but he is a harsher critic.

Me, I am just in it for the ride.

andrea carla michaels 2:32 AM  

Love the Bobby Darrin...guess I'll have to Google to find out more about him and Ms Dee.
Was still reading Wed's blog when I saw Thurs was already downloaded it and
now I'm in a total brat pack mood, as those pics of Bobby D and Sandra Dee seem to be taken backstage at that wonderful 8 minute YouTube clip you provided of a drunk Frank and Dean!

(How did I live happily almost 50 years without YouTube, Google and celphones?
Thank god I can still live without Facebook)

A pinch surprised you didn't dislike "OLD ROME" instead of ANCIENT ROME, or have you been over that and I missed out?

I also wanted TICTACTOC aesthetically...

LESTER was a gimme as I am a total Beatles freak and have a huge framed poster of his movie above my bed, so that got the puzzle off to an easy breezy start for me (did it in a Tuesday ten minutes, but whose counting?!) ;)

It's interesting that ____ KONG can be KING or HONG, so thank god for OMOO. (And I mean thank GOD...where WOULD a puzzle constructor be without OMOO, it's almost a TICTACTOE(C) winner 'cept that pesky M!)

Didn't get the O ME parse...and felt SPLISH was rather exciting.

Wonder how Golda would have felt being crossed with NAZI...she probably would have plotzed.
But again, I leave that to SO- non-Jewish Mr. Shortz not to notice!

SPERM and JOHN the way they were defined were pretty graphic and an affront to my BEL ESPRIT. I'm almost surprised 29D ONAN wasn't clued about ONANISM!

What else?

Super cool to have RHYTHM in a puzzle and the little NEZ/HERTZ crossing (is HERTZ a surname too like AVIS? Yet something else to get to the bottom of naming-wise!)

I'm just in it for the ride too, I've got a ticket, and I care!

andrea carla michaels 3:36 AM  

yikes...Bobby and Sandra together less than 7 years, drinking, drugs, anorexia, divorce, heart operations, death at 37!
(No wonder. Half the pics in that YouTube video with cigarette in one hand, drink in the other and a bad heart!)
At 1:42 sec there is a pic where she looks EXACTLY like the eerily-teenaged-voiced Melanie Griffith!

Mysterious crossword connection: his real name is WALDEN Robert Cassotto...and after Sandra he married ANDREA Yaeger.

(Lest some mean lady think I'm self-promoting, I'll stop there!)

Follow up on Hertz: nothing to do with the German physicist Heinrich.
Car rental founded by a Walter L. Jacobs who sold it to the John Hertz Corporation (yawn)...the more fun Google entries were about their dumping OJ as a spokesperson.
Truth Hertz.

jae 4:58 AM  

Hmm -- it seems a bit dangerous to do this late at NITE (see above) but here goes. This was easy for me. After erasing ELAPSE and putting in EXPIRE NW went quickly (LEICA was a gimmie). My only other misstep was PESTS. That said, I'm totally with Rex (sycophant kicking in) on the X placement and lack of a porno/Vin Diesel reference.

FYI on my recent voyage to French (Freedom to you Karma) Polynesia I learned that all three Os in OMOO are pronounced.

jae 5:05 AM  

Meant to add that (a) my trash can is back (why?) and (b) the Kevin Spacey-Bobby Darin movie Beyond the Sea is worth seeing.

Jay Livingston 7:51 AM  

CERT. When the Court agrees to hear a case, it grants a "writ of certiorari." Since many lawyers have trouble pronouncing their "r"s, especially when there's one in just about every syllable of the word, they talk about "granting cert."

dk 8:01 AM  

@andrea, good catch on the ticket to ride.

@jae, Beyond the Sea is well worth the rental fee.

And what about Typee the OMOO prequel.

One more to you Rex on the use of Jim Thompson's work in your class.

This photo processing (Nikon not Lieca) sure makes sleeping tough as I see I began and ended the early AM hours here.


joho 8:35 AM  

@rex: I much perferred Richard LESTER over Jon Lester because not knowing either, I'll take a Beatles clue anytime over a baseball clue.

@andrea carla michaels: Isn't that just a crazy, Hollywood couple of kids, Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin? They were fascinating and Bobby had such a huge talent and died so young.

@dk: I wouldn't be the first one to call me nuts! Athough you are right, I am not qualified. Pehaps I should send you my Rorschach test taken in college which said I have an inability to deal with reality. Of course, that was long ago and I'm totally normal now.

I liked this puzzle way more than Rex. Loved PAMPHLET and ALMANACS.
It was fun.

Tony from Charm City 8:53 AM  

I didn't have too many complaints with the puzzle, the only being the placement of the Xs.

Had some trouble early when I had SPARE for 10D and used the old spelling ALMANACK for 5D.

Time TRAX was a short-lived sci-fi series that ran from 1993-1994 and centered around a police detective from 2193 traveling to the 1990s earth and bring back fugitives who had escaped via a time machine.

poc 9:03 AM  

@joho: I'm with you on LESTER. He also directed Superman II by the way, which is easily the best of the Christopher Reeves Superman movies.

Iron Lady made me think of Thatcher, so I thought "Aha, a rebus", but only for a few seconds.

I agree with Rex about the theme. Boring.

ArtLvr 9:11 AM  

This was a Medium for me too, with unexpected gimmes in CANT and SCANT, BEL and RIGEL, CERT and NEZ, etc. It's a good thing Langley didn't fit!

I had a déjà-do moment in the SW when I put in COSTUME, changed it to "couture" in order to accommodate "reap" for [gather], then put it back after MEET turned up.

Loved the PAMPHLET and ALMANACS, UNDERDOG crossing the Hound oF the Baskervilles' MOOR, and other fill more than the theme..


Edith B 9:20 AM  

I had a problem with ICECAP at 3D. It is no more (or less) specific to Mars than , say, BUILDING is to Earth. Would we clue Earth feature as BUILDING? I think not.

I struggled with the NW every step of the way but, curiously enough, saw TICTACTOEWINNER with only the first X in place and the NE falling quickly.

When the SE went quietly, I was able to fill in 51A and the other Xs.

I had all the theme information in place and struggled with the fill which is backwards for me

Very strange puzzle indeed, especially with NAZI, SPERM and JOHN in it, three words that I didnt expect to see in the Times.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

I'm with poc about thinking a rebus was going to be in play here.

Not just THATCHER for MEIR, as 'Iron Lady' was her nickname also; but because I have often heard the CIA Headquarters as being in Langley, never in Mclean.


PuzzleGirl 9:53 AM  

I was a little disappointed with the placement of the X's too. I've been catching up on old puzzles and I had just solved a Patrick Blindauer Sun puzzle with a big ol' X in the middle that was really awesome. (Not giving away anything here -- the black spaces form a huge X). So, yeah, could have done more with it. But I do like the theme answers in this puzzle. I tend to like the puzzles that have many different answers clued in the same way. Not sure what that says about me.

Both HONG and CERT took way too long to come to me. Could only think King Kong and Donkey Kong. Geography isn't my strong suit! Couldn't come up with CERT without a cross. It's a word I know -- I'm afraid I'm getting old.

"Underdog" is a favorite movie of the PuzzleChildren. I like the part where the kid is trying to teach the dog to do tricks so that he'll look more like a normal dog than a dog who can, ya know, talk and reason and stuff. So the kid says "Lie down." The dog -- who's a little resistant to the whole process -- does and says, "Yeah, I was going to do that anyway."

Alex 10:07 AM  

LEICA, CERT, and ALMANACS were gimmes so the NW fell before I had my first pause.

In addition to also making the NEST/PEST mistake I initially put in ALMANACK instead of ALMANACS. The clue is not explicitly plural and ALMANACK is how it was spelled then.

That combined with putting in EASE instead of EMIT for "Let out" created a significant delay in seeing POISON in POISON WARNING. Oddly, I was not able to fill in P-SK-N with a real word.

evil doug 10:23 AM  

@dk: A little presumptuous, saying you speak for all of us. Instead of "We are all...", try "Most of us are..." At this site you're safe with that. My mom wouldn't be proud of me if I threw "douchebag" around so easily....

I also don't accept it when someone says, "I want to apologize for him." Meaningless. Let him apologize for himself if he chooses.

Bass Weejuns. Best penny loafers ever.


william e emba 10:47 AM  

You should balk at the clue "One-two connector" for ANDA, because it could just as well have been clued as "A one-two connector".

I second Rex's evaluation of the theme. When I got the first circled X, I suspected that there would be two more Xes, but I couldn't believe it would be that utterly pointless. Put XXX directly in the grid somewhere, or give it in the clues.

Two Ponies 10:57 AM  

Mostly ho-hum today. I wanted the pattern of X's to mean something. But some of the fill was nice. Weren't we just talking about Nazi as an answer recently? And here it is. I agree the crossing with Meir is an odd coincident.
Get up on the wrong side of the bed Evil?

steve l 10:58 AM  

@william e emba--And actually, Lawrence Welk used to say "Anna one Anna two." Never found out who those two Annas were, though.

Matthew 11:12 AM  

Mars definitely has ice caps! The Phoenix Lander has been collecting samples of Martian ice for the past few months. The mission just ended a few days ago, actually, so the clue was pretty timely.

Ulrich 11:16 AM  

I also tried to fit LANGLEY where it didn't, and PESTS where they were wrong. And I agree again with Rex 200% on everything he wrote, especially that the placement of the x's sucked--big time!

Lester was a gimmie also for me. Does anyone remember the anti-war war movie "How I won the War" Richard Lester made, with John Lennon as non-singing co-star?

Z.J. Mugildny 11:38 AM  

I feel similar to Rex on this one -- pretty drab puzzle overall due to the weak theme. LEICA was completely unknown to me as was LESTER and CERT, making the Bellingham, WA (home of my alma mater) region almost a complete guess. Other than that, though, the fill was pretty solid.

JoefromMtVernon 11:41 AM  

Area of most distress: like Rex, it was the NW. I started south today and worked my way up.

Word of the day is Leica; D'OH moment was having King instead of Hong; thus confusing Imoo with Omoo (and looking for Itoo).

I had no problem with the clueing for icecap; what other features are there on Mars? As Matthew said before me, its a timely clue, as the ship that's there (in the ice cap) recently stopped transmitting data.

Is Meir the new Tiegs?

A bit slower than a typical Thursday; maybe a good sign for tomorrow.


Chip Hilton 12:32 PM  

Sorry, but you won't win at tictactoe with your x's aligned like these. So I share Rex's negative reaction there.

Otherwise, I flew through everything except the SW, which really stumped me until MEET got me going. NESTS for PESTS I can live with.

Loved SPLISH...and the great Mr. Darin.

Jay Livingston 12:36 PM  

Chip, would you also like it if BEE were clued not as "spelling contest" but as "author Claire"?

Karen 12:42 PM  

This was an easy puzzle for me. Half the things that Rex had trouble with fell into place for me--nests, almanac, icecaps, trax, anda. Thanks for the clarification on McLean/Langley because I did have both of them in my head.

Surprisingly, Time TRAX preceded the Van Damme epic Timecop by about a year; both about time travel law enforcement. I enjoyed Time Trax--it was certainly more consistent than the Van Damme movie in its concern for time travel paradox. I can rant much longer in person.

I thought the theme was fine, if not very Thursday-ish. More of a Wednesday puzzle.

dk 1:59 PM  

Point taken @evil doug,

rafaelthatmf 2:00 PM  

Don’t mind the placement of the x’s so much as the fact that their placement is irrelevant. I mean if this unbalanced placement puts more mystery in the clues/answers then fine. Otherwise my OCD insists on balance. At least diagonally or left middle right or somehow else. That said I did like that even after I cracked the theme it did not let the air out of the rest of the themed clues/answers. I struggled with lots of the fill and the themed answers evolved at a pace that provided me a full buck and half of satisfaction.
A question: Just how super can a super model with a first and last name be?

rafaelthatmf 2:03 PM  

The difference between a pit bull and evil doug? You can calm a pit bull down.

joho 2:39 PM  

@dk: that's very gracious of you to "apologize" but let's face it, most if not ALL of us who come to this site respect what Rex does and really like it and, in fact, are actually proud of his accomplishments. I suppose, knowing what you know now, you could have said "all of us but one" are proud of your son. Geez.

HudsonHawk 3:01 PM  

@joho, I love the site and visit almost daily, but I'm with Evil Doug on this one. I can speak for myself, thanks.

andrea carla michaels 3:09 PM  

On his mom's bday no less!

If I were computer-ly adept, I would photoshop a pic of Golda's face onto Cheryl Tiegs body!
Funny rafaelthatmf about first/last name...tho I suspect she IS known just as GISELE.

With only, like, 8 words that were three letter in length, he must have been hard pressed to put XXX in the grid, but it does seem with that adjustment alone, everyone would have liked the puzzle 98% better!

I once applied to the CIA when I was in college bec I wanted to do codecracking, etc., possibly use my languages, engage in world travel, etc. (I don't know what I was thinking!) and I got this really scary envelope back with NO return address, no nothing!

It reminded me of the time I asked to see if the FBI had files on me and if they DON'T they START one and put your letter asking if they have one as the first thing in it!

Off to the park to do Sunday's acrostic! It's gorgeous out.

This morning I volunteered to give out dictionaries to third graders, as part of the follow up to Andrew Laurence's Xword tournament out here (that's what the tournament raised money for!)

The California Dictionary Project puts a dictionary in the hands of every third grader in the state
(they actually use literacy rates of the third graders here to set the prison budgets ten years from now!!!!)

I was assigned to a creative alternative school in the Haight and it was wild! The kids were wildly vocal, enthusiastic, sharp, diverse to say the least (when I asked if anyone spoke another language at home 15 of 19 hands went up and one white boy inexplicably said he was "African American")
It was exceedingly gratifying, save for the ill-named school
"New Traditions". (I refrained from offering my services!)

Had a blast! Fingers crossed that they embrace the dictionaries the way they seemed to! Yay crossword puzzle tournaments! I'd never have known about this very worthy project.

evil doug 3:17 PM  


Your post was more gracious than mine. I understand that your intent was simply to wish Rex's mom happy birthday, as do I, so I should have shown more style there.

I appreciate your response. I had to go to the dentist right after I posted, so I'll project the blame for my 'tude onto that.

Pit bull with no cavities....

PhillySolver 3:46 PM  

Bonjour mon ami. C'est PhillySolver a'Paris. I have been in remote parts of France in a friend's mason de vacances and without Internet access, but had the IHT for the puzzles. Just arrived in Paris for a week and wanted to say hi and I miss the fellowship.

Like Orange, I was sure the Iron Lady was Margaret Thatcher. By way of a digression, the defeat of the Conservatives after The Iron lady was one of the highlights of my years of working in London. I can't tell you how warmly the French now feel for Americans now that Obama has won. Everyone, and I mean everyone I know here is talking about it. No one wants to discuss the NYT crossword, so I am catching up here. XXX in France means Fench Kisses...where is that in the puzzle?

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

Once again, as often, amazed that "RP" can actually solve these puzzles given admitted deficits in knowledge that remain, to me, astounding. Still, all props to you, perhaps especially as you stumble clueless through literary and cultural history yet nonetheless manage to pull Thursdays off.

Ulrich 4:00 PM  

@acme: This is weird--I know someone else who interviewed with the CIA at about that age (and yes, she also said later "what was I thinking?"). This is a choice portion from the interview as told to me:

CIA: "Can you handle men?"
Interviewee: "I've been handling men since I was 15."

She actually got a job offer (I don't know about the return address), but by then, her outlook on life had changed.

Doc John 4:03 PM  

I also wasn't thrilled about the placement of the Xs but thought it was otherwise a decent puzzle with some nice fill. I did have a malapop because I entertained putting in "pamphlet" at 5D.

I had forgotten that Natick was clued as the city at the 8th mile of the Boston Marathon. Maybe that has some significance to runners; it must because why else would it be on a shoe? When I saw that shoe in the store (the Nike outlet at the Las Vegas Outlet stores, BTW) I almost let out a huge whoop of laughter. The friend I was with couldn't figure out why I was taking a picture of a shoe.

This is my first post since the election. According to California, we're still married. Take that, you hateful Voldemorts who thought you could vote my rights away.

mexgirl 4:08 PM  

Rex, that's gotta be the best episode of Extras ever! That show was really fantastic, and it just got better and better toward the end. This is one of the realest (if there is such a word) narratives I've seen on TV. I wonder, though, how Sir Ian is in real life....

I spent a lot of time trying to make sense of the position of the Xs and felt really disappointed to see the theme actually referred to XXX, like that. Couldn't they have put them together, say like on the center of the grid? I suppose it's easier said than done, but still.

suddenly feel like having a XXX beer now.

mexgirl 4:10 PM  

BTW, happy birthday to mama Parker!

Mr Ravini 4:23 PM  

One day I will see Hertz clued as _______ Doughnut and I will be thrilled.

This puzzle was more of a long-run groaner...happy to get across the finish line but none too happy how I had to get there.

chefbea1 4:43 PM  

when I got the first X then the second, I thought the three long answers would have something to do with multiplication ie. something times something.
Tough puzzle for me!!

I thought a poison warning was a skull and crossbones.

Rainy up here in the northeast - making beef stew for dinner.

archaeoprof 5:02 PM  

The XXX theme was a real ZZZ.

But several false starts today:
"nikon" for LEICA
"king" for HONG
"icbm" for SCUD
"chat" for CANT
"usurp" for WREST
"pests" for NESTS.

And count me in with those who read 62A and thought "Margaret Thatcher."

Noam D. Elkies 5:08 PM  

I liked the theme, and didn't mind the random placement of X's: indeed after getting the first one I guessed that the other two would also be X's because (i) this way the order doesn't matter and (ii) there are various phrases that get to XXX. That also gave me 56A:TRAX.

(It's also a nice feature that the circled letters are the *only* X's in the grid, though that could easily have happened by accident because X is so rare.)

To the PESTS/NESTS ambiguity, add 32D:ENDO/ENTO and 47A:SPLISH/SPLASH. On the latter, I guessed SPLASH since 48D looked like an a-prefiX adjective, though SPLISH was a better guess on statistical grounds -- SPLASH could be clued otherwise.

I too was wondering about ONAN + SPERM + XXX, and didn't even think to put JOHN into the miX...

ReX -- is "currect" a typo or an intentional portmanteau of "current" and "correct"?


Anonymous 5:17 PM  

@NDE - I think Rex officially hates the word, if not the concept of, portmanteau, so let's go with typo

fergus 5:20 PM  

I remember getting recruitment letters from the CIA. I think they bought a list of Economics grads ...

OK, so I am still stumped with the No. 23 square. I know it's supposed to be an E, but I cannot understand the Across Clue. Why should an ERA No. be a low as possible? It doesn't look like anyone else found this odd, so I'm sort expecting a big smack on the forehead.

Anonymous 5:22 PM  

ERA = Earned Run Average = Baseball Statistic

johnson 5:37 PM  

I don't get CANT?

What does it mean in this context?

SethG 5:37 PM  

"RP" you Philistine! I wonder which missing literary or cultural factoid sent him off today? The random Shakespearean sonnet? The legal jargon? The 60's movie director?

I guess I should admit I got both BEL and NEZ from the crosses, and that I know not French. Feel free to laugh at me or email me nasty notes or something.

PG, with you on DON(KEY) Kong. Wasn't sure how the circles would work with rebi, but I had the O in place so I knew it wasn't KING. That and the fever led to a very slow time.

Edith B, I find the analogy inapt. Mars has two ice caps. Earth has more than two buildings.


Orange 5:39 PM  

Andrea, which dictionary were you handing out to third-graders? My third-grader loves his Macmillan illustrated dictionary. The artwork is terrific, so I don't blame the kid for trying to delay bedtime by reading the dictionary.

Evil Doug, my kid had a dentist appointment this afternoon. Omigod, is that pediatric dental practice ever great! I wish every kid could go there—I think dental anxiety would be wiped out in one generation.

PuzzleGirl 5:45 PM  

If the day ever comes where I've chronicled my crossword-puzzle-solving experience every single day for days and days on end for anybody and everybody to read -- that's the day I'll feel qualified to point out someone else's astounding deficits in knowledge.

Stumbling cluelessly and grateful for the company, PG

fergus 5:47 PM  

Bludgeoned by the heel of my palm. And I'm a baseball fan. It's funny how something so obvious occasionally doesn't register. There must be a catchy name for the phenomenon, but I can't remember what it is.

fergus 5:50 PM  

CANT is rather like smoothly worded bullshit. No contraction there.

steve l 5:52 PM  

@ mexgirl--Aren't you one "equis" over the limit for a beer? That Mexican beer you're thinking of is Dos Equis, not Tres Equis, as far as I remember!

@johnson--CANT (no apostrophe) originally meant "jargon," the language of a trade, but has apparently morphed into "insincere talk."

@archaeoprof--You summed it up best with the ZZZ comment. Never saw circled letters used so pointlessly. Nor does the poison warning ring true to me; it would be better a marking for moonshine or porn, or that Vin Diesel movie.

chefbea1 5:58 PM  

@sethg love the bright pink shoe!!

Glad to have our trash cans back!!

fikink 6:02 PM  

@joho, CANT is what Samuel Johnson was referring to in that blasphemous motivational mock-up that Rex posted a couple weeks back. And why I posted the poem by e.e.cummings.
@Steve I, I swear I have had a Tres Equis in my travels, but we cannot get but Dos in Iowa. Was it in my dreams? Mexgirl?

green mantis 6:32 PM  

@ fikink: Yes, it was a dream.

@ Rexmom: Happy birthday.

@ doc john: Damn straight.

@ Andrea: Sorry I missed it.

@ green mantis: You're doing really good with the biting your tongue when you feel like lashing out at a-holes in the comments. I'm proud of you.

jae 6:41 PM  

There is Tres Equis beer but it's hard to find in the US.

Anonymous 6:42 PM  

@joho & @dk & @evil Doug

I had a bit of a problem following your exchanges.

Was there a post that contained a dk "apology" that *disappeared*? I can only find *point well taken* --- hardly an apology.

Also @joho 2:39p:

Isn't YOUR *most if not ALL of us who come to this site ...* statement just what started this all????


fikink 6:49 PM  

Thank you, jae.( Mantis, you musta been a twinkle in your daddy's eye when I had a Tres Equis.)
And I second congrats to docjohn!

miriam b 6:50 PM  

@ulrich & fergus: My #2 daughter graduated college in '83 w/a dual major in economics and Russian. The CIA wanted her, too, but she had no such inclinations.

About CANT: Seems to me that though this word generally means jargon or smooth talk, it also refers specifically to a language spoken by Irish Travellers.

fergus 7:01 PM  

Here's a question suggested by TATARS: Are the Cossacks the same as the Kazakhs? Transcription merely, or a whole other ethnography?

fikink 7:20 PM  

@miriam, I think the timeliness of CANT is its meaning as "empty talk" or empty rhetoric, "as it were" ;-)
Very topical, as the clue was "insincere talk"
In the words of, yes, the Bob: The times they are achangin'
Viva la!
Whoops that's three.
Now I am history.

Edith B 7:50 PM  


I know, I know. My reasoning was faulty- I thought that as cold as Mars is there would be ice everywhere and didn't see CAP when I constructed my comment. So, you're right, my analogy limps and I never missed my Trash Can icon more than today when I realized shortly after posting my comment that Mars only had two Icecaps.


Everyone has holes in their body of knowledge - as I so richly demonstrated today - so far be it from me to point out others flaws when I have so many of my own.

I am constantly amazed at how much - and how little - knowledge is displayed among this highly-educated community of solvers.

thebubbreport 7:50 PM  

Wow, I found the NW fairly easy but NE gave me fits. Then I was so desperate to make Thatcher fit that I thought about calling her MAGS!

I cannot believe how long it took me to get THIRTYINOLDROME considering the only reason I remember my Roman numerals lately is solving puzzles! Sad.

I usually think of MOORS and not just a MOOR. I'd never heard that before. Ugh, that reminds me of suffering through all that depressing Heathcliff and Katherine crap.

People from MCLEAN usually say they are from D.C. So do people from every other Northern Virginia suburb that is a hellish hour+ ride in traffic from D.C.


thebubbreport 7:58 PM  

@Pete (from yesterday's comments) - I do miss Barry Sanders. The Lions were my second favorite team in the 80s, when I was a kid in Cincinnati. This was based solely on the fact that I thought they had the flyest uniforms.

Orange 9:07 PM  

Ooh, Fergus, good call on the Cossack/Kazakh cognates! I never thought of it, but the dictionary refers one to the other. These are my favorite TATARS, the internists—one's been my doctor for 15 years.

I think chefbea stole my trash can because I haven't seen it in weeks.

Michael 9:47 PM  

I agree with Rex about the placement of the xxxs. But otherwise I'm not on his wavelength. What Rex found hard, I found easy. And either Richard or Jon Lester would be fine -- they're both solidly in my brain.

I had King Kong for a long time, but that seemed too easy for Thursday,

Other than xxx placement, I liked this puzzle.

fergus 9:48 PM  

Thanks Orange. My reading of all those Muscovites and those from Petersburg will now sit a bit easier. "Dead Souls" is an amazingly funny book, but it stands about tenth in line after all those other Russians from the 19th century.

Chip Hilton 10:12 PM  

@Jay Livingston
Nothing like waiting 10 hours to respond, but, on behalf of the whole gang here in Valley Falls, that Claire Bee clue would be just ducky.

fergus 10:54 PM  

Orange, another cognate pair was Celebes and Sulawesi, which came from Indonesian coffee. Old Atlas and Peet's.

Anonymous 11:17 PM  

Cellos are closely related to violins, not as closely related to bass viols.

"More" is the theme from the Italian movie Mondo Cane (1962) nominated for an Oscar for Best Song in 1963.

jeff white 1:17 AM  

Ah, the NW corner. Yes. I did the puzzle at the restaurant where my wife works, and I had similar questions: a writ of the Supreme Court? Hmmmm....

But my question is this: twice in this entry, you make reference to a previous version of the the "stick in the kitchen" clue for Cinnamon, for instance. What is this previous version? Where does one see it? My copy of the paper (printed in Michigan, if that makes a difference) has only the final clues you mention.

andrea carla michaels 1:36 AM  

since rex has prob gone to bed an dyou are prob on west coast time I'll be presumptious and answer for him.
Rex has this gig as a test solver for Will where he sees the puzzles in a raw form to give feedback, catch mistakes, comment on, whatever.
It is a highly esteemed position (tho yet again inexplicably unpaid!)
I guess he's still doing it, which is why he refers back to comments and notes he made first time around re: difficulty level, definitions, etc.
It's lucky for us bec it adds yet another layer of depth to what the puzzles undergo, etc.

jeff white 11:10 PM  


Wow. Thanks for the info. This is a VERY COOL thing. I guess that's the sort of perk you can expect when you're the 55th best xword puzzler in the (known) universe!

I've known that these people exist, but I always saw them in a sort of idealized way...not as actual people, who you might read on a computer screen. And who can (gasp) talk about what I had assumed might be closely held secrets.

Anyway, thanks for filling me in.

Bruce Gomes 12:13 PM  

So, in the answer to Sunday's puzzle, was one of the hidden Simpson messages the one you read diagonally from top left to bottom right?

syndakate 5:16 PM  

I had pornos warning in the grid for way too long. I kept thinking "shouldn't it be porno's rating? Man I bet Rex is gonna hate that. This doesn't make any sense." Because it didn't. Kept hoping someone here had made the same mistake. (It's only three letters off from the correct answer) I mean if a john can go out at nite to meet Cinnamon in a Gisele costume (on his way to the sperm bank no less) why not watch a porno too? What time is Will eating his breakfast these days?

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