Headline during Dreyfus Affair — SATURDAY, Aug. 29 2009 — Nell director Michael / Bullying seabird / Studebaker relative / Classical lyre holder

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Constructor: Doug "The Thug" Peterson (ironic nickname I just gave him — he is a kind, thoughtful, softspoken man)

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: JAEGER (8D: Bullying seabird)n.

  1. (also 'gər) Any of several Arctic and Boreal sea birds of the genus Stercorarius that harass smaller birds and snatch the food they drop. Also called skua.
  2. A huntsman or hunting attendant.

[German Jäger, hunter, jaeger, from Middle High German jeger, from Old High German jagāri, from jagōn, to hunt.] (answers.com)

-----

This one was not just easy — it was possibly the easiest Saturday puzzle I've ever done, and so easy that I'm convinced there was a screw-up and this week's Friday/Saturday puzzles were switched. I'm having trouble imagining how someone could have had more trouble on this one than they did on yesterday's (though said people surely exist). You know who might have done poorly on this puzzle? Bird-haters. It was a bad day for the ornithophobic, what with CAW cawing in your ear up top (11D: Field call), a herd of EMUS running at you in the west (40A: Some farm stock), a double shot of "Peter and the Wolf" bird names — 44A: "Peter and the Wolf" bird (Sasha) + 45A: "Peter and the Wolf" duck (Sonia) — and then, finally, the puzzle's only real roundhouse punch (from my perspective): JAEGER (8D: Bullying seabird). I recognize JAEGER only when it's preceded by Andrea or followed by "-meister" (actually "Jägermeister" is spelled thusly, but I can't hear the difference). And hey, if you can't figure out what kind of "bird" SASHA is, why not throw the clue to SASHA Obama? It can't be easy knowing her sister MALIA is going to be a crossword hero like her dad, while SASHA will surely be left back (crossword frequency-wise) with the JENNAs and CHELSEAs of the world. Give the kid a break.

This puzzle started off with a big fat gimme for both baseball and crossword fans: Mike MUSSINA (1A: 2001-08 Yankees pitcher with seven Gold Gloves). He was in "Wordplay!" I wish Doug had included that fact in the clue, just to taunt the sports-haters among us. "I want to hate this clue, because sports are bad, but he does crosswords, and those are good, so ... [head explodes]." Went MUSSINA to IMPS (5D: Hell-raisers) to (improbably) MAWLS (18A: Heavy hitters). What's improbable is not my spelling (which is just wrong), but the fact that I was so far inside the ballpark on that one ("W" goes to "U"). ASKS was easy (21A: Puts it to), and the "K" gave "ST. LUKE" away (3D: He wrote of the prodigal son) and then the NW was done and once the front ends of those 15s were done, they went across very easily (though the TOWERS part of CELL PHONE TOWERS took a cross or two to get, 17A: Some coverage providers).

Threw URETHANE down off the "URE-" despite feeling like I might be making up a word (12D: Bowling ball material). Wrote down ELSEMERE for ELSINORE at first (14D: "To be, or not to be" soliloquy setting), briefly confusing my "Hamlet" settings with my Chaucerian manuscripts (what can I say? Job hazard). Otherwise, honestly, I walked through this thing, half asleep, sipping tea, taking long pauses to sit back and admire the grid and enjoy my apple ... and I still finished under 10. On a Saturday? Insane. This would have been a fabulous Friday puzzle. And yesterday's, a perfect Saturday. On the upside, I got enjoy to two great puzzles.

Today's names (often killers in late-week puzzles) were in my wheelhouse, occasionally without my knowing it. For instance, how the the hell did I know APTED (9D: "Nell" director Michael)? Went with APTOW at first, then realized I was thinking Judd Apatow — but I got APTED off just the "P" in INTIMATE APPAREL (15A: Revealing pieces). And I couldn't tell you one thing about Michael APTED right now beyond the info I got from this puzzle. JULES Feiffer, on the other hand, was a fat gimme — I teach a course on comics, so my knowing him is no surprise, though I knew his name well before my obsession with comics started. CHAN wasn't a gimme, but crosses took care of him no problem (23A: "Keeper of the Keys" was the last novel he was featured in). I also teach a course on crime fiction (starting Tuesday), so Earl Derr Biggers and his creation Charlie CHAN are familiar names to me. SABIN was my first guess at 41D: _____ vaccine, though I held off writing his name in, thinking answer might be SERUM (?) ... and then SERA ended up being the next-door answer (44D: Clinic supplies). Weird. Then there's PLUTARCH — easy when the "P," "L," and "U" are already in place before you even see the clue (32D: "On the Malice of Herodotus" author).

Bullets:

  • 8A: Headline during the Dreyfus Affair ("J'Accuse!") — if you know anything about the Dreyfus Affair, you know Zola and this phrase.
  • 33A: Worker in a big house near Big Ben (gaoler) — cute clue, but one that makes the answer Super easy to get. That answer opened up the whole SW very, very nicely. Got "I GUESS SO" off that "G" alone (29D: "Um ... all right").
  • 34A: What an antsy person might watch (clock) — great clue — one that actually made me pause and think for a few moments.
  • 41A: Otto follows it (sette) — Italian numbers will slow me down, but here I knew it was "seven" I was looking for, and so S--TE went in the grid right away, and I waited the rest out.
  • 43A: Seasoning cristales (sal) — never really saw clues on EMUS or SAL because those long Downs went down so easily.
  • 46A: Something shown off on a half-pipe (skateboard trick) — like CELL PHONE TOWERS, I had to wait for the last word on this one. Considered SKILL and TRIAL (!?), and then slapped head/said "D'oh" when the much better / more obvious TRICK fell into place.
  • 1D: Algonquian language (Micmac) — crossed my fingers and hoped it was right, since all the crosses seemed solid and it sounded right ...
  • 10D: Coast Guard noncoms (CPOs) — know this only from xwords and the TV show "CPO Sharkey," which I've never seen. From the Random Video department, here is L.A. punk band The Dickies performing on "C.P.O. Sharkey" (late '70s). Acc. to Wikipedia: "Notably, the series was the first American prime-time TV series to have a punk rock themed episode, with San Fernando Valley punk rock band, The Dickies, making a guest appearance."



  • 4D: Sash supporters (sills) — off the "S" in MUSSINA. First thoughts were of Miss America pageants or OBIS, but then this window-related meaning came to mind.
  • 30D: Creator of the stuff of legends? (mapmaker) — great clue, though again, very easy. Move off the apparent meaning of "legend" and the first place you land is the map-related meaning of "legend."
  • 34D: Old Silk Road destination (Cathay) — had to wait for a few crosses, but the name is very familiar from xwords (like DESOTO, 36D: Studebaker alternative), so no problem.
  • 48D: Ending with Sea or Ski (Doo) — when you have momentum ... when you come at every answer with at least one and usually multiple crosses in place, then the puzzle just falls and the potential toughness of the clues in many cases becomes irrelevant. I had DO- before I ever saw this clue. What's the answer going to be? DOG? Actually, SKIDOG and SEADOG are great names.
Hey, did Michael Jackson rise from the dead (as expected)? If not, can someone please explain what Google's done to its logo today?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. Whoa, just noticed (how did I not know this?) that "The Daily Beast" has a crossword puzzle now, written by a fantastic constructor, Matt Gaffney. Check it out. Not sure how regular this gig is. I'll ask him and let you know tomorrow.

70 comments:

Elaine 8:26 AM  

I'm first? If so, it's only because I was up during the night for a while...and felt kind of excited to find the puzzle coming together so quickly...then let down because I knew it must mean it was too easy. The main problem I had was mistrusting my first thoughts when it came to the answers.

I did have SKATEBOARD STYLE for a while, knew SKUA but not JAEGER, and had GRASP at 23D...creating a rat's nest of incorrect answers for a couple of minutes.

MICMAC was new to me, and I thought J'ACCUSE was a book--so the Headline clue stopped me until I felt forced to try J'Accuse. Got Jaeger only on crosses.

@Rex
The umlaut (two dots) over the A can also be spelled AE (in case you don't know how to make the dots appear); you couldn't hear a difference because there wasn't one.

Now, where do I go for my morning puzzle fix???

JannieB 8:30 AM  

It was definitely a Saturday for me - never did crack the NW corner. Had the apparel part but when lingerie felt off, the brain wouldn't make the leap to intimate. Had "towers" but kept reading it with a long O, so no cell phones were on my horizon. Yankee pitchers? Indian languages? No and no again. Wanted the butterflies to be kisses or some way to cut meat. That corner just never worked for me.

The Southern hemisphere was fun and very quickly doable, however. The NE took longer - guessed J'accuse but have no idea what the Dreyfus affair was.

A very humbling weekend for me.

Rex Parker 8:33 AM  

Just a reminder to everyone that (as always) there is a three-comment limit per day. It's a public space, not a private chatroom.

Thanks,

rp

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

Much, much easier today than yesterday.

2 seasonings that I like - sal (salt) and oregano.

Why is conjurers=mages??

@rex - today would have been (or is) Michael Jackson's birthday. Google didn't honor Crosscan on HIS birthday
:-(

Chefbea ( the blog isn't accepting my password!!!)

Eli Barrieau 8:48 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eli 8:49 AM  

Sometimes I don't mind the easy Saturdays, if I can demolish a personal record. I was only 40 seconds from being in the single minutes. If I hadn't put in PETRARCH first, I would've done it.

imsdave 9:03 AM  

I have to agree with Rex on the relative order of today's and yesterday's puzzles. Friday destroyed me, today was a very pleasant stroll in the park. My only early mistakes were SEL for SAL and EWES for EMUS.

Thanks Mr. P for a very enjoyable solve.

fikink 9:11 AM  

Sure glad I got GAOL under my belt last week. J'ACCUSE was my only neon, and the first M in MICMAC was a lucky guess and my last fill, because I didn't know MUSSINA.

The rest was fine weaving.

Particularly liked the checked-DETER correlation and "acted out" was a nice misdirection.

Sea and SkiDOO was masterful!

Nicely played, Doug Peterson!

p.s. Rex, I've been waiting for your PSA. Thanks. ;)

Frances 9:32 AM  

Loved "back up?" as a clue for PRONE, but first tried IRATE. I wanted 26D, "awaiting induction" to be PRE-OP, and 26A, "classical lyre holder" to be PIANO (that was a stretch, but old grand pianos often used a lyre pattern for the music rack), so the mid-Atlantic section was slow to resolve itself. I had SKATEBOARD SKILL instead of TRICK until the "Peter and the Wolf" birds became girls' names and not instruments.

dk 9:33 AM  

One man's meat as they say. Yesterday was easy for me, today not so.

Had Jaeber and could not get MAPMAKER so I died.

Food pals: This AM I tried a new trick. See if I could solve the puzzle before the muffins baked. You win even if you lose. I lost/won yum.

Rex your 3x post comment brings to mind the phrase: Yadda, yadda, yadda warden come and get me :)

There is a great version of this done by David Frye in a sketch where Nixon is in prison. The Nixon getting high sketch with.... I see purple mountains, amber waves of grain is also a hoot.

Hassle-Free Blog 9:33 AM  

I learned something new today: mousing overt the Google logo reveals an explanation. Like MJ's birtday is today. Yippee!

PhillySolver 9:52 AM  

With San Francisco's contribution to xword time analysis, we no longer have to speculate quite as much. I am sure when the numbers are in though that yesterday's puzzle will have been the more challenging. I think Doug's puzzle reflect a more similar life experience than DQ's do to me. Jaegermister anyone?

joho 10:07 AM  

Wow, I had the opposite experience of most comments so far except @dk. This puzzle killed me while yesterday's was easy. So, I guess I'll congratulate myself for my stunning "Saturday" solve a day early.

I when I finally let go of Clemons, I got the INA, but still didn't have a clue. My husband gave me MUSSINA which allowed me to complete the NW. I got INTIMATEAPPAREL immediately and CELLLPHONE ... even with the USE in place I couldn't get JACCUSE until I Googled the Dreyfus Affair. When I saw it was a French situation I guessed JACCUSE, but I cheated so it doesn't count.

Ah well. I still thank Doug "The Thug" for this Saturday workout even if I did not prevail.

imsdave 10:11 AM  

@philly - I'm in for the Jaegermeister (reminds me of Vick Formula 44, but I still love it).

If any of you get the chance, check out the Newsday puzzle today - coincidence?

nanpilla 10:19 AM  

@joho : I'm with you - this one took me much longer than yesterday. The bottom half was easy, then the NW took fully half of the time. When I finished though, everything was reasonable and perfectly clued. I just wasn't on the right wavelength last night. These puzzles are so impressive - other than JAEGER, there wasn't an odd or "either you know it or you don't" word in there. And even in that case, the crosses made it perfectly gettable.
Wonderful puzzle, DP. Thanks!

hazel 10:23 AM  

I thought this puzzle seemed a bit too midwestern (stereotypically midwestern that is, no offense intended). It was solid, not too exciting, kind of like a Sears catalog - the long fill should really pop and zing, take advantage of all that room it has to spread out - and I just don't think CELLPHONETOWERS, INTIMATEAPPAREL, SKATEBOARDTRICK, and SECURITYCOUNCIL cut the mustard. Its like they're out of a random (boring) word generator.

I guess I liked some parts of the puzzle - JACCUSE and SASHA and SONIA, GAOLER too - but would have preferred a bit more zing - more THUG from DOUG, really.

(I'm in the SWITCHEROO camp. This puzzle took me half as long as yesterday's.)

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

I don't know what crack Rex and half of the rest of you are smoking, but this puzzle was not easy. The lower right was not bad at all. But the upper left? Egad. Yesterday's was, indeed, much easier.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Have to agree with Anonymous at 10:45, this was difficult for myself and husband (Golfballman). Flowerlady9

Elaine 11:07 AM  

@ Everyone:
I'm sure I should apologize profusely for multiple posts yesterday re the SSS clue.

If it please the Court: in a day when 1500 deaths are deemed "too many" (not that I disagree,) the VietNam toll of >50,000--many of whom were draftees from specific segments of the population-- continues to be painful to my generation. Calling the draft "recruitment" hit a nerve.

@Anonymous 10:45
It was really GOOD crack!

The Cunctator 11:12 AM  

Tough for me -- didn't know MUSSINA, and put in ICH for Artichoke heart? which threw off the NW for a while. Didn't know JACCUSE, had BAA instead of CAW, so CELLPHONETOWERS was hard to CRACK.

I enjoyed the difficulty level and inventive cluing. Lots of clever design -- JEWEL/JULES, SAL/SASHA/SONIA.

The Cunctator 11:16 AM  

P.S. It's Michael Jackson's birthday.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

The point of view of easy/hard at this blog is of jaded crossword freak...

Norm 11:25 AM  

I was sure 1A would be a gimme for Rex and that he'd find the puzzle easy. NW was the last to fall for me, and I had to back my in. Bottom half was very easy, so all in all I'd have to go with medium-easy for me.

Norm 11:27 AM  

But no, Anonymous @11.23, anything but jaded are we. Happy Saturday.

Greene 11:42 AM  

Um yeah, seemed like a Saturday for me too. Makes me realize that my fine performance on the Friday puzzle might have been something of a fluke.

I had a little trouble getting adequate traction today. The first time through the grid, I only got J'ACCUSE, ELSINORE, JULES, MOWER, and TUG. This helped me fill in the center a bit, but then I made the first of several gaffes: BUTLER instead of GAOLER which ruined me in the SW (wrong big house). I finally got that fixed because I knew that 31D had to be POPULACE.

Another major gaffe: ARUGALA instead of OREGANO. Yikes, I even took out SABIN because I wanted ARUGALA in my Greek Salad. I obviously fixed this before I got POPULACE.

I remembered SASHA and SONIA from previous puzzles, but I could not recall who was the bird and who was the duck! Of course...they are both 5 letters...just wait it out. Actually, this was what caused me to kick out out ARUGALA and put back poor old Albert SABIN.

And so it went. Thank heavens for those stacks of 15 letter answers in the north and south. They helped immensely.

Oh and finally, I was very pleased with myself that I've done enough puzzles to get 24A, CEE, without going "Duh, what?"

poc 11:49 AM  

Both MUSSINA and MICMAC are Naticks for me, and I had TELEPHONE... instead of CELLPHONE... so the NW was a goner. The rest was pretty easy. I had to guess at JAEGER. I knew the word was German for "hunter" (see also the English "jaguar") but not a seabird.

I don't know of any prisons near Big Ben, but I guess it depends on your definition of "near". The nearest seems to be Pentonville, about 3 miles away. The Tower of London hasn't been a prison in a very long time.

(Trivium: Big Ben is the bell, not the clock tower. Useful to know for some trick questions).

HudsonHawk 12:02 PM  

Medium for me, another good Saturday, but yesterday's was much tougher. The South fell easily, as did the southern corridor up to the NE, but things slowed dramatically after that.

It actually took me a bit to get Moose for 1A. I was thinking CLEMENS, but the years weren't quite right and he wasn't known as a particularly good fielder.

50A reminded me of the early scene in A Few Good Men, when Cruise cut a deal for the kid who bought a dime bag of OREGANO.

Ulrich 12:05 PM  

@poc: Same for me--those telephone towers, combined with my ignorance of Algonquin and baseball, did me in in the NW, while the rest was amazingly easy for a Saturday--well, no, MAGOS could've crossed APTOD AFAIC.

Eisenhower McSteele 12:16 PM  

Michael APTED, in my book, is far more well known for his "Seven-Up" documentary series, which started in the 1960s focusing on a number of British schoolkids and has been updated every seven years, and we see how those people have grown since then. I think 49-Up was the last installment in the series. Before this puzzle, that's all I thought Apted had done...now I know.

edith b 12:22 PM  

I worked this one from the NE, picking up Mike MUSSINA from the back end, then rode the MICMAC Express down the West Coast, cherrypicking UPPERS EMUS SAL which gave me all the long downs, allowing me to see both 15s in the South and I curled into the Upper Midlands to endgame. Just like that.

Had to piece together JAEGER but no real problems like yesterday. I do think the Friday and Saturday puzzles were reversed but I often think that. The **SSIN* made IA a neon which doesn't happen very often, for me, with sports clues. Of course, being from the City and going to Yankee games with my husband didn't hurt, either.

ArtLvr 12:45 PM  

I was happy not to have to take a break (or DOZER) before finishing... Lots of lovely stuff here to DAUNT me, needing to be dredged up from the back of the brain.

Mnemonic, re PRONE vs supine: I picture one's Puss Right ON the Earth versus Sunny-side UP. Thus the "Back up?" clue was amusing, especially not far from CRACK for "Figure out" -- butt we won't go there. Pardon the pun.

A JEWEL of a puzzle, Doug P!

∑;)

Jane 12:55 PM  

Was quite pleased with myself , starting in the SE and moving quickly to SW and NE, but stopped cold in the NW. MUSSINA? Never heard of him! The sports clues always kill me. I also had LINGERIE ... instead of INTIMATE APPAREL which didn't help. Wanted to start 8 down with JAY because they are bullying.

XMAN 1:17 PM  

Bah! (I should leave it at that, but might be misunderstood.) I wanted to quit after the first pass--had almost zilch. Got lucky and had the South fall like Grant took Richmond. And then...and then all hell stalled. I thought it was going to be a reprise of yesterday. Well, I plugged myself into the wallsocket and the light went on--only to find out this was as easy puzzle. Bah!

Karen from the Cape 1:24 PM  

I never thought of myself as a bird-hater before, but if Rex says it...Put me in the really hard camp, harder than yesterday. After my first pass I had TRI, PEW, and JULES, and painfully solved starting from the SE corner up to the pitcher I didn't know in the NW. (Has OREGANO really been in my Greek salads? I never guessed.) Too many back ends of words. But I finished it correctly without googling, so I'm happy.

I know of the Jagermonsters from the Girl Genius comics. Didn't help me with the birds.

fergus 1:27 PM  

Slowish start but then a fairly swift completion. I think Rex overstates the easiness, maybe just a little bit, since the puzzle seemed to follow his predilections.

My old-fashioned bowling ball was made of BAKELITE. Bowling may be the sport of the POPULACE, but I first thought it was the RIFF-RAFF.

Got stuck on OTTO for a while since I figured the answer had to start with an en due to some radio communication letter signification.

Also got stuck thinking of some quaint old Parlimentarian rather than a GAOLER.

Fun puzzle.

Susan 1:34 PM  

@poc and Ulrich, I think I had the same experience as you guys in the NW. My husband had to give me Mussina, but I otherwise finished in record time for a Saturday.

I agree with those who say today was easier than yesterday. By a lot.

@Eisenhower, LOVE the 7 UP series by Apted. Love, love, love.

@Rex, as one of the regular complainers about baseball clues (and Mussina did stump me, as I mentioned), let me clarify that I, at least, am not a sports-hater but a baseball-hater. And it's not even that I hate baseball that much (although I'd rather watch curling... or paint dry...); it's just that its use as a clue mine in so many xwords feels like a holdover from another era when a MUCH greater percentage of the population followed baseball.

Van55 1:36 PM  

Put me firmly in the this was a b**ch to solve camp.

Micmac? Apted? Jaeger? Peter and the Wolf cartton characters?

Yuck.

poc 2:12 PM  

@Susan: I don't hate baseball either, I just know nothing about it, so the fairly large percentage of clues based not only on the people who play it (and other sports) but on the names of teams and who won what trophy is a source of frustration.

joho 2:28 PM  

@Hazel, that think Midwestern stereotype has got to go. Some of the smartest, funniest and most creative people I know are from the Midwest.

chefbea 2:31 PM  

@yoho thanx!!!

Shamik 2:33 PM  

Easy? No. Medium...and still had a letter wrong. Am I the only one who had no idea who Michael APTED is? APTID and MAGIS worked for me, but didn't make the puzzle right.

@XMAN: Yup, that's how the south fell for me, too. Well put!

But the entire north was a slog. Finally got the edges and had to work my way into the middle. Still finished almost 2 minutes less time than yesterday.

Clark 2:37 PM  

So CATHAY equals (approximately) northern China. Who knew? Though I got it, with much strenuous effort, from the crosses.

Reading 'easy' was like a punch in the gut (but I recovered quickly). I was two Ms short of a deck. CICCAC anyone?


To the Not Impossible Him

How shall I know, unless I go
To Cairo and Cathay,
Whether or not this blessèd spot
Is blest in every way?

Now it may be, the flower for me
Is this beneath my nose;
How shall I tell, unless I smell
The Carthaginian rose?

The fabric of my faithful love
No power shall dim or ravel
Whilst I stay here,—but oh, my dear,
If I should ever travel!

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Shark 3:29 PM  

My fastest Saturday! Thanks for making my day Doug P.

Great puzzle to boot. Loved the JACCUSE JAEGER intersection, as well as the clues for PRONE and MAPMAKER.

Friday's DQ was slightly harder.

Skua 4:11 PM  

Photo of Arctic Skua / Parasitic Jaeger bird.

Skua sounds.

bookmark 4:20 PM  

My fastest Saturday ever. Much, much easier than yesterday's puzzle.

I'm ashamed that the only one I had to Google was MUSSINA. I should have known this. Think I'll remember it next time.

michael 4:31 PM  

I thought this was perhaps a little harder than yesterdays (neither particularly hard for their day of week) so I guess I'm not with the majority here.

After I changed telephone towners to cellphone towers and finished the NE and the puzzle, I had trouble understanding heavy hitters -- mauls. I could only think of "maul" as a verb and had to go to google to learn the noun meaning (despite having used a lot of hammers lately).

@Hazel -- I've lived about half of my life and about half on the East Coast and spent a year in California and find bright, interesting, sharp people everywhere (as well as awful, mean, not-so-bright folks).

Lurker0 4:54 PM  

@imsdave said...

...

If any of you get the chance, check out the Newsday puzzle today - coincidence?

---

Can't be -- identical grid! But a lot harder, IMO; YMMV.

It is here for those who want (need?) another Saturday-style challenge.

Limping Larry

chefbea 5:06 PM  

@lurkerO I agree. very hard puzzle

jae 5:26 PM  

Put me in the harder than yesterday's minority. Not knowing MUSSINA, MICMAC, APTED, and JAEGER made the top third of this one challenging. Also, putting in BAR and then BAN for ixnay slowed things down. I agree the bottom half was fairly easy. Not as flashy as yesterday's but a solid Sat. for me.

Anonymous 5:30 PM  

There should be an "Ask Rex" section ... Can someone explain to me why people sometimes do "downs only," but not "acrosses only"?

SethG 5:47 PM  

Yup Rex, I'm a people who exists. Yesterday wasn't quick, but I had not much trouble finishing. Today? Failure.

I couldn't get past INTIMATE DETAILS. And since I couldn't get JAEGER, needed more than one (incorrect) cross for APTED, don't know Shakespearean _or_ Chaucerian settings or manuscripts, and know precisely as much about Algonquin languages as I do about the Dreyfus Affair, I couldn't work my way out.

I also needed all crosses for PLUTARCH and JULES, but at least those I was able to get.

Glitch 5:48 PM  

Some days it's not woth chewing through the restraints.

.../Glitch

Tigger 5:56 PM  

Liked the puzzle. Average solve time today compared to yesterday's much quicker result.

Coincidentally, Mussina is in the booth for tonight's Little League U.S. championship game from S. Williamsport, Pa. They're hoping to get the game going by 7:00 pm, as they've experienced rain delays today. You can watch it on ESPN2.

Rex Parker 6:04 PM  

MUSSINA is one of the best pitchers of the past two decades. Few can match his stats, or his consistency, over that time period. Seriously underrated, largely because he was always very, very good and never (in any given year) the Best. Retired after a 20-win season in 2008. Amazing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Mussina

PlantieBea 6:27 PM  

I'm also one of those...and I like birds! Didn't know Mussina, and wouldn't let go of CABLE TV NETWORK which fit so nicely...I can only think of the musical birds by their instruments--oboe and flute. I got SONIA since we've seen it recently, but struggled with SASHA. Argh--feeling very humbled by yesterday and today.

Leslie 7:14 PM  

Oh, man, I'm glad some other people found this puzzle hard. Maybe my brain was operating on half-power today, but I had to fight for almost every answer. Like a slog through wet sand.

I did like some of the answers once I finally got them, particularly "Cathay." Thanks, Clark, for bringing in the Edna St. Vincent Millay poem. (She was more of a scamp than I would have thought, at least in that one.)

andrea not jaeger michaels 7:18 PM  

I saw Wordplay like 7 or 8 times and I still put in MESSINA after much agonizing and having the M_SSINA!
But the idea of my head exploding is Rex at his funniest!!!

@EisenhowerSteele, @Susan
yes yes yes on 7 UP... I love film and documentaries in particular more than anything in the world practically...and I can say 29UP is my favorite documentary (Wordplay is right up there!) of all time!!!!!!!!!!
So anyone who didn't know APTED, go rent it!

I have a millionother things to say about this Doug the Swedish sounding THug Peterson puzzle, but I guess later bec my neighbor has just dropped by my personal chat room!

archaeoprof 7:41 PM  

@Rex: great point about Mike Mussina. Not just a thrower, but a pitcher.

@Elaine: recently visited the Vietnam memorial again. My, but that's a LOT of names on that wall.

Two Ponies 8:37 PM  

After two weeks in the Keys without Cellphonetowers, computers, or televisions I picked up a NYT at an airport. Despite being nearly comatose from a looong day of planes, trains, and automobiles I whipped through yesterday's puzzle and felt great. I checked in very late last night to see how everyone was doing. I was surprised at the rating and most of the comments. I thought it was rather easy.
Then today I get my butt kicked and Rex rates it easy??!!
I loved "back up" but the rest of the NW was a mystery to me. Ah well.
I have no idea what I missed while I was away but I'm glad to be home. Florida in August is great. No crowds and lots of bargains. Puzzlemate put some delicious fish and lobsters on the table as well.

andrea cathay michaels 9:26 PM  

If you connect the K's in this puzzle, you get a parallelogram! I Kid you not! (chaff chaff)

Also for artichoke "heart", I got that it was one of those semi-cryptic clues I'm not fond of...but I was game and put in ICH :( So close!

And since I had tELe not CELL that was a mess, also never heard of MICMAC but that would be fun with TIC TAC and SNICK SNACK (is SNICKSNACK something? I can't remember...or am I conflating it with SNICK and SNEE?

And what's with everyone starting with PL way back when? Plutarch, Plato, Pliny and his dad...I count that as a PLUTO bleedover.

Btw, Did anyone else have METER instead of DETER? It fit the clue...which I now can't remember.

@Clark
Thanks for the poem...
it was odd. Last night I was showing a friend's 11 yr old son around CHinatown and was teaching him the difference between Chinese and Japanese names...and I explained that Chinese names were one syllable, like Chang, Ting, Jew, Hung (we were having a lot of fun with the names of restaurants in Chinatown...Chef HUNG, anyone?)

Then we passed a Sheseido store \(Not sure why there is one in Chinatown, but it was a good counterpoint for the lesson)which he correctly identified as Japanese, and then we saw some guy on a Kawasaki, so things were humming along.
But then THeo spotted a sign that said CATHAY. And he asked "Chinese or Japanese?" and I said "Chinese" and he said "But it has two syllables" and I told him that I didn't know why.
(I made a mental note to look it up when I got home!)

One hour later, I'm home, doing the puzzle...and there it is: CATHAY
and I was going to ask about it and Clark publishes the poem!!!!!

fergus 9:29 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
fergus 10:21 PM  

Yeah, Mussina was always a pleasure to watch because he was a thoughtful pitcher. Not since he went to Stanford and does the puzzle as well as Jon Stewart and Bill Clinton, but because he was baseball smart, which requires competing effectively with a full range of intellects. Far preferable to Roger Clemens, even before the Rocket fuel was exposed. Tim Lincecum, of the Giants has a different style, but the kid has got it, too. I would much rather see a pitcher cagily outwit a batter than see the thrower overpower the guy at the plate with muscular heat and a nasty splitter.

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Stan 8:52 AM  

For me, not at all easy to get started on, but once I did it was smooth solving. Thanks, Doug!

Also liked the Dickies clip and the comments appreciating Michael Apted's amazing "7-Up" series: Better than a stack of sociology books on the impacts of class.

hazel 3:43 PM  

@Joho and ChefBea - Like I said no offense intended. Two of my best friends in the world are originally from Chicago. Feel fortunate that you have a life where silly jokes can get you so riled. In my life, that would be (rather, is) a complete and total waste of energy.

Again, sorry to have offended you.

Mick Mack 9:19 PM  

MICMAC
In the book and movie Pet Sematary by Stephan King the burial ground was once used by the Micmac tribe.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

@Hazel: Wow, I must say, I find your apology far more offensive than your original comment. I didn't think that the tone of Joho and ChefBea's comments indicated that they were particularly "riled." Your implication about the relative shallowness of their lives in comparison to your own is presumptuous and condescending.

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

The only gimmes for me: Mussina,unease, asks,tri, cee,dozer, clock,pew, bale, I guess so, sera, doo and oregano. But then NOTHING fell into place. I thought this was a really hard puzzle! Really wanted the Peter And The Wolf clues to be instruments...

Singer 9:33 PM  

I completely disagree with Rex - yesterdays puzzle was far easier. I did it in under 10 minutes. In 10 minutes today I had all but the top three rows, and they took forever to complete. If you aren't from New York and aren't a raging baseball fan (plus we don't even have a major league baseball team in Portland, Oregon) you don't have a prayer with the MUSSINA/MICMAC cross, which is a Natick as a result. I never heard of a Jaeger bird either. I thought I was really clever when I put in autobiography for 15A. It fit all the crosses I had at the time, and didn't want to let go of it until it was painfully obvious that 16D was ENAMEL. I finally broke down and Googled MUSSINA (rationalized it was a gimme for a New Yorker, ergo as a non-New Yorker I deserved a lift up). After I had that, the rest fell into place, although I wanted telephone tower for awhile. I think J'Accuse and Jaeger are something of a Natick also. I finally tried CAW instead of baa for 11D, and then had *accuse. I knew nothing of Dreyfus, but the French phrase did pop out then, although it was totally a guess.

Waxy in Montreal 12:59 PM  

Mike Mussina was one of those rare, class athletes who retires when he's on top of his game. His 20 wins in 2008 was the acme of his career. Also, by pitching just a few more years, he would have almost guaranteed himself the 300 victories which has become the automatic benchmark for entry by any non-druggie pitcher into the Hall of Fame. He may be voted in anyway, based on a great won-loss ratio.

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