Wirehair of film — WEDNESDAY, Aug. 19 2009 — Rocker Quatro / Dynasty vixen / Philanderer in slang / Frances Hodgson Burnett kid-lit novel

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "THE SECRET GARDEN" (52A: Frances Hodgson Burnett kid-lit novel ... and a hint to 21-, 26- and 45-Across) — word "GARDEN" can be found inside circled squares embedded in three long theme answers.

Word of the Day: SUZI Quatro (62A: Rocker Quatro) Suzi Quatro (born Susan Kay Quatrocchio,[1] June 3, 1950, Detroit, Michigan) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, radio personality and actress [played Leather Tuscadero on "Happy Days"]. (wikipedia)

Though born in Detroit, SUZI Quatro has had far more commercial success in the U.K. (where she moved in the 70s) and Australia. The only reason most Americans know her name at all is because of this song, a big hit when I was just starting to listen to radio:


-----

Here is a theme type I hope never to see again — the find-a-word-"hidden" -in-a-longer-answer theme, where the letters are not consecutive. Feels like you're just throwing circles around. I'm guessing that if we had a contest, we could get dozens if not scores of viable so-called "Secret GARDEN" answers. And these theme answers aren't even that good, AND have nothing to do with each other, AND contain lots of GARDEN letters that aren't circled. AND you had to expand the grid to 16 letters wide? For this? No. Further, "secret?" Really? That would imply something inherent, important, valuable, lurking inside the answer, not a butchered random word. There's no more a "secret" GARDEN inside GARAGE DOOR OPENER than there is a secret GOON. Oh, and as one of my readers emailed me last night, there's another reason "secret" is a misnomer. Here's his message, in its entirety:

Can I substitute for you today?

IT'S NOT SECRET! If you circle the f#$*king letters, it's not f#$#king secret! You want it to be secret, don't circle the f#$#king letters!


Theme answers:

  • 21A: Hamid Karzai, starting in 2004 (Afghan president)
  • 26A: One of four generations in a photo (great grandparent)
  • 45A: Driver's electric convenience (garage door opener) — had first three letters and tried to do something with GARMAN GPS SYSTEM

I have to give props to TWINPAC, which is a ballsy answer (16D: Promo container that's a twofer). Would've like TWINPAK better, for obvious reasons, but I still admire the creativity and ingenuity here. I found the puzzle pretty easy, with my only snags coming a. when I entered IPSO for IPSA (44D: Res _____ loquitur) and then had trouble figuring out the Most Important Answer In The Puzzle (the theme-revealer), and b. when I hit the tiny SW, where neither 52D: Historic site option (tour) nor 53D: Give a paddling, maybe (haze) would drop easily into place. Luckily SUZI Quatro and ALEXIS Carrington (46D: "Dynasty" vixen) were familiar figures from my childhood, so I worked it out.



Bullets:

  • 15A: Philanderer, in slang (tomcat) — another nice colloquial entry. The TOMCAT / TWINPAC nexus was easily my favorite part of the puzzle.
  • 59A: Piltdown man, notably (hoax) — crossword puzzle remains the only place I've ever seen Piltdown man mentioned (many times now).
  • 63A: Father _____, leper priest of Molokai (Damien) — completely forgot this and thus needed most of the crosses.
  • 1D: Wirehair of film (Asta) — he doesn't get around as much as he did in his HEYDAY, but he still comes around once in a while to assert his Alpha Dog status.
  • 2D: Son of Eric the Red (Leif) — seems very slightly off to have moniker "the Red" in the clue and then have LEIF just sitting there naked in the grid.
  • 4D: Stock transaction made to claim a tax deduction (wash sale) — have vague memory of seeing this answer once before in a puzzle, but I've never seen it otherwise, so I just waited for the crosses to fill it in.
  • 7D: Mobster's code (Omerta) — another word known (to me) only from xwords. I want someone to invent the Omerta Omelet, first because the word OMERTA always makes me think of OMELETS whenever I look at it, and b. because we seem to have a lot of culinary firepower among my readers, so why not put it to good use. I await your recipes. Stipulation: even though OMERTA is a code of silence, the omelet should not, I repeat not, be lethal.
  • 9D: New Mexico skiing locale (Taos) — New Mexico is one of the places my wife and I talk about moving to once daughter has gone off to college. My sister was born there (Albuquerque) and it's reasonably close to (i.e. in the same half of the country as) my entire family, unlike where I live now.
  • 49D: Hammond products (organs) — musical interlude



  • 58D: Part of Rockefeller Ctr.'s address (NY, NY) — cute. I'm headed to NY, NY this weekend for Ryan and Brian's crossword tournament (Saturday — info here). You should come on out, as it is certain to be very high quality, with lots of familiar names from the puzzle world, while also being smaller (and thus less intimidating??) than the annual ACPT in Brooklyn. Also far, far less expensive. Anyway, I'll be staying with PuzzleGirl somewhere on the Upper West Side. Our plans involve a. completing our redesign of this website, and b. eating. Restaurant recommendations now being accepted (via email or Twitter).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

85 comments:

treedweller 8:50 AM  

I still haven't figured out how to connect the dots to make a garden--any help out there?

Had to go through the alphabet twice to get HAZE. I recognized that song, but never in a million years could I have named the singers.

I hope OMERTA omelets don't contain any part of a horse's head.

JannieB 8:50 AM  

I agree with your late night guest - there is no secret here! Otherwise, my solve was much like yours - that pesky SW corner took as long as the rest of the puzzle, mainly because I never read the clue for HST. If I had, I'd have saved a couple of minutes.

Rex Parker 8:56 AM  

Hey treedweller, if you have any interest in doing Saturday's write-up, please email me. Thanks.

rp

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

@treedweller - You saw what I missed, the "SECRET" part of the theme. I went back and found that if you randomly connected the dots, it looks much as my garden does now, after it was hit by a tornado then plowed under. Eerie!

Ulrich 9:05 AM  

I wonder what would have happened if the circles had been left out--too difficult for a Wednesday? Maybe, but the theme, and by extension the puzzle, would have made much more sense. Even so, I had fun doing the puzzle, greatly helped by the not-secret garden, even if I had, paradoxically, THE HIDDEN GARDEN as my first guess for the title.

Leif's full name is Leif Ericson (naturally), and he's the European got to America centuries before the other guy.

Just saw @anonymous in preview--I think you got it!

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

The Jasper Beardley image made my morning. Paddlin' the school canoe...

joho 9:07 AM  

Well, when I was done I wrote out the circled letters and ended up with GARDEN, GARDEN, GARDEN. I think that just about says it.

I did like the clue "Wirehair of film" because it's more descriptive than usual.

Crosscan 9:12 AM  

Better take on this theme:
Secret Garden 1


See you at Lollapuzzoola. I arrive in New York tomorrow. Currently in Toronto, where I have begun training my nephew in solving. Never too early (he is 4 days old).

Glitch 9:13 AM  

Agree with the above comments on the circles.

Maybe on Monday, but never on Wednesday, if at all.

.../Glitch

Gramatrick 9:14 AM  

no likey.

It would be much more interesting if there were flowers hidden in the answers and they combined to form a secret garden.

I just don't like the random circled letters.

Sara 9:29 AM  

TWINPAC is ballsy? More like made up!

PurpleGuy 9:47 AM  

An extremely easy puzzle for a Wednesday, and one of my fastest times without trying to speed solve !
Agree with those above, especially @Gramatrick. When I finished, I really thought "So What ?"

Fr. DAMIEN came easily, as I visited Molokai on one of my many Christmas holidays in Hawaii.

Good writeup, Rex.

I would think the OMERTA omelet should probably contain beets !

COIXT RECORDS 9:49 AM  

GRUMPY BEAR

Greene 9:55 AM  

Not much to enjoy in this puzzle. Agree that there's nothing secret about circling a bunch of letters. Would have been so much nicer if the theme answers had something to do with gardening, or plants, or even nature.

I enjoyed reading the book, "The Secret Garden," although I never got to it until I was an adult. I was prompted to read it after seeing the wonderful Broadway stage adaption, which is a bit darker than the source material. Here's a bit of the show from the Tony Broadcast (in one of those terrible montage sequences). Daisy Eagan, as the heroine Mary Lennox, was astonishingly good and at age 11 became the youngest female to nab a Tony Award.

@Rex: If you're looking for good eats on the Upper West Side, try Sarabeth's on Amsterdam between 80th and 81st. Great lemon ricotta pancakes! For Jewish deli try Barney Greengrass, further north on Amsterdam between 86th and 87th. For quick, budget Chinese there's always Ollie's Noodle House, a chain located all over the city, but there's one at Broadway and W 86th that should be close.

XMAN 9:57 AM  

"A fine mess you've gotten me into this time!" (Oliver Hardy to Stan Laurel)

PIX 9:59 AM  

Res ipsa loquitur..."the thing itself speaks"...do not accidently leave the sponge in the patient during surgery...you cannot defend this...

Why no "Peer Gynt" music to listen to while reading your write-up? Try it Rex, you may learn to like it!

fikink 10:06 AM  

Pretty much of a yawn. I agree with @joho: ASTA clue was refreshing.
Thank goodness for BEQ on Mondays and Wednesdays!

mac 10:09 AM  

Very easy Wednesday, which I did NW - SE. Agree with Rex's write-up, even to the rewrite of ipsa/ipso.

Omerta omelet? You don't want to know what kind of visions I have of it. Or do you? Fingertips and earlobes?

I never saw Alexis and Krystle wrestling in the mud, but I remember a pool scene.

Mike 10:13 AM  

Agree with all about the theme's lameness. Like many others, the SW wouldn't fill for me. SUZI ended up being a google for me; the Z gave me HAZE and I'm done. Spent way too long on SGTS, as I fell for the misdirection and was trying to think of SCUBA-esque abbreviations.

retired_chemist 10:17 AM  

A nice Wednesday. Nothing fantastic, nothing very problematic. Some stuff I didn’t know: 38D THE DEAD (thought GRATEFUL needed to be there); ARISTA 2 60A; SUZI Quatro; Father DAMIEN (I sort of dredged it up from the depths). The crosses were easy, so no problem.

Susan 10:23 AM  

SUZI Quatro was my last answer, too, but as soon as I got there (yes, by going all the way through the alphabet for HAZE) I had to smile: Leather Tuscadaro!

I didn't dislike the puzzle as much as everyone else, although I see your points. I liked THE DEAD as a Jerry Garcia clue rather than a James Joyce clue. I liked seeing Father Damien (although I spelled it wrong until I looked at the cross) and The Secret Garden is a sweet little book that I, too, only read as an adult.

Margaret 10:31 AM  

Ometa Omelet:
O - Olives
M - Mozzarella
E - Eggplant
R - Red Pepper
T - Tomato
A - Anchovy!

Thinking about the omelet was more fun than thinking about the puzzle...

PlantieBea 10:39 AM  

I was just thinking of the word OMERTA yesterday when two of my teens would not come clean on something they had done, all the while claiming they were not supposed to rat one another out. It made us, the parent generation, mad enough to scramble them into an omelet. One of them is now reading a book about Piltdown Man for an upcoming college course on evolutionary anthropology.

I thought the puzzle was fine as a whole, but I wouldn't have missed the circles one little bit. Just make these themeless and nudge up the clue difficulty a tad. Still, I ended with an error--had CASH SALE for WASH SALE--didn't check the cross of ALAC. I do not like that SUZI Quatro song--it reminds me of something akin to Muskrat Love.

Happy puzzling to those of you attending the tournament!

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

It was okay for a Wednesday. No complaints.

mac 10:42 AM  

@Margaret: that sounds like a wonderful pasta sauce!

I'm sorry now that I didn't sign up for the tournament this weekend.... Next year!

retired_chemist 10:42 AM  

Check this out. I wonder if the official crossword vegetable could do this too.

http://tinyurl.com/nrfwnb

Elaine 10:43 AM  

The comments are more fun than the puzzle, sometimes-- like today! For the "Driver's electric convenience" I was going to try some version of Golf cart, since I had the G in place. Was disappointed with Garage Door Opener. Especially since we've not had a vehicle in our garage for 8 years now. (Think remodeling. The entire house.)

BTW, what is the obsession with "no mark-overs" or whatever it's called when you need to change an entry? I think the need to mark over is a sign of a good (as in challenging) puzzle. I really like it when two or more possibles come quickly to mind, and a clever clue should suggest a red herring answer or two before some fortuitous cross provides more guidance. Sometimes my first guess is right, sometimes not. In some cases, you have no way to know if "Pablo's that" will be masc or fem, so I generally ink A and O in lightly, pending a cross. I don't think any special virtue accrues if I haven't had to alter a response, and in fact usually this happens when the puzzle is too easy to be interesting.
There, I've said my piece.

dk 10:54 AM  

Rex,

9th Street Coffee Roasters for... err coffee

Chin Chin for Chinese

Rosa Mexicana for .........

The puzzle.

I wanted heatedseats instead of GARAGEDOOROPENER and I thought it was a taxi sale not a WASHSALE otherwise I do not see why we have to be so SNOOTy about the GARDEN beds.

dk aka Voice of Reason over and out.

Noam D. Elkies 11:02 AM  

Second 16x15 puzzle in as many days. Surprised by so much negativity in the comments. It was mostly a fun solve, though with too many unfamiliar p*p names intersecting in the S/SW region (62A:SUZI, 60A:ARISTA, 46D:ALEXIS). Guessed 52A from the first theme entry (though I couldn't name the author of the familiar book), and was glad for the resulting 12 free letters in 26A and 45A — and also for 51A:NORSE, calling my attention back to 26D:GRIEG which I somehow flew by. I did know 7D:OMERTA pre-xwords; it's the title of a posthumously published novel by Mario Puzo of The Godfather fame.

I, too, wondered how many long theme entries the constructor had to choose from. Turns out there aren't nearly as many as I had imagined. Throwing out trivial examples like "GARDEN apartment" and "botanical GARDEN", the best examples I could find in a wordlist are "GiscARD d'EstaiNg" and "GrignARD rEageNt" (or "...rEactioN", something involving magnesium halides — ask retired_chemist). Also coastGuARDsmEN, GAstRoDuodENitis, reGARDlEssNess (yuck), unGuARDEdNess(es). So Peter Collins did quite well to find the three theme entries he used.

Have we seen 5D:STENOG before? It's usually STENO. 27D:EATER isn't great, but there wasn't much choice given the theme entries and 8-letter 5D, and for that fill I like the clue (which somewhat hides the odd job). Still I wonder whether it's legitimate to have "eater" and and 37A:IATE in the same puzzle, let alone intersecting...

NDE

P.S. Which movie is that "tico the ivories" clip from?

toothdoc 11:15 AM  

First time I can remember filling in all the theme answers before doing any of the other answers. The random circling of letters would have been a better theme if they spelled out different flowers/plants one would find in a garden - otherwise I agree with the emailer that it isn't secret when you circle it.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

After yesterday's wonderful Jacksons/Vicki Lawrence fest, and prompted by mentioned of the band Kansas, I thought it would be fun (and for no reason pertinent to puzzles today or yesterday) to offer a companion piece from the same vintage with a completely different demographic: long-haired white guys of the 70's (though one could argue they border on afros too). I wanted what I mistakenly remember as the video for this song, which featured the band (in my mind's eye, with hair so long it's on the ground) in a ghost town, replete with tumbleweeds blowing in the "wind". This should suffice though.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkbdP7sq0w8

Enjoy!
Tony O.

mexgirl 11:25 AM  

I hated the North section! what with all those stoats and erenows and omertas....
My kids elementary school's library sharing corner is nicknamed "The secret garden". I spend a lot of time shelving books there, so when my younger one graduates elementary they're going to give me a secret garden key pendant. Can't wait!

Carmine's over at Broadway and 90th (I think) is a great place to go with a whole lot of people. Sharing plates and one of the best pastas we've ever tried.

Denise 11:26 AM  

If there were no circles, then the secret gardens would be totally secret -- who would even think to look for the letters scattered all over the place. Silly puzzle, but the fill was good.

Best of all -- the three "imbeds" Rex offered us! I never saw "Dynasty" -- what a laugh.

Jim in Chicago 11:33 AM  

Has everyone at the NYTimes who had anything to do with ensuring puzzle quality been laid off?

The circles put this solidly at number one on my top 10 "insulting to my intelligence" puzzles.

To quote "they're not f-ing SECRET if they're CIRCLED for you.

retired_chemist 11:35 AM  

@NDE GrignARD REageNt, GrignARD REactioN - both fine. I suspect there would be a minor revolution if either were used. Highly useful chemistry for more than 100 years.

{pedantry}RMgBr + ketones => tertiary alcohols, + aldehydes => secondary alcohols, and much, much more. {/pedantry}

Peter 11:39 AM  

Hold your fire.

It's me, Pete Collins, stepping out in the open without my bulletproof jacket.

"Pretty much of a yawn."
"Not much to enjoy in this puzzle."
"Agree with all about the theme's lameness."

Yikes! Anyway, I wanted to add to what Noam D. Elkies said. I didn't intend for the puzzle to be oversized -- especially since THESECRETGARDEN is conveniently 15-letters long. But coming up with suitable phrases that contain G-A-R-D-E-N was tougher than it seemed. In retrospect, it would've been a bit cooler to have the circled letters spell out flower names. Oh, well ...

Okay. That's it. I'm going back in my cave to enjoy my omerta omelet.

Pete

Rex Parker 11:47 AM  

GAME WARDEN

etc.

hrhbess 11:51 AM  

in the interest of accuracy, a "wash sale" takes place when an investor tries to sell something to create a taxable gain or loss but then re-purchases within 30 days, which invalidates the tax consequence. hence the term "wash"...

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Are the test solvers afraid to voice their distaste for a pedestrian theme like this?
Hidden flowers would have been nice.

Jim in Chicago 12:00 PM  

@Rex:

How about anagrams:

Danger
Ranged
Gander

Jim in Chicago 12:13 PM  

Even better, there are a bunch of anagrams for SECRET GARDEN that could be fun to clue:

Caged Renters
Dance Regrets
Narced Egrets - hmm, birds on drugs busted!
Scared Regent
Carted Greens - is ChefBee back from vacation?

fikink 12:22 PM  

or proper-noun anagrams:


Lake Gander
Taco Grande
Nick Danger

Karen from the Cape 12:24 PM  

Is there such a thing as an Italian omelet? I would make one with mozzarella, prosciutto, red peppers and spaghetti sauce.

I have fond memories of reading The Secret Garden as young girl, and think of that book whenever I see formal gardens at manners. Or my own overgrown yard. Or when I hear the Doxology sung. (The religious motifs in the book were rather overpowering.)

Re the puzzle--I tried to put in OBRIEN instead of DAMIEN, I'm not sure why; and I wanted Elaine's golf cart entry also. I had to look back at the crossreference between ARISTA and THE DEAD, I was thinking more genre rather than record label. Pretty much everything else dropped uneventfully.

I would go to Lollapalooza if I had somewhere to stay in NYC; that's too far for a day trip for me.

Greene 12:26 PM  

@Mexgirl: Totally forgot about Carmine's, but agree it's wonderful Italian. Come early, come hungry, and be prepared to take some home.

Oh, and for burgers that are cheap and yummy, try Burger Joint for lunch (inside the Parker Meridien Hotel on W 57th). Gimmicky, but good.

HB 12:50 PM  

C'mon, it's not such a bad puzzle. Not my favorite style of theme either, but hey, it's not a trite quote :). The unpredictability of the theme answers could go either way, either as a too-loose theme or a bit extra challenge, since you still had to play 'Wheel of Fortune' with the remaining letters once you knew the theme concept. Some fun fill in there too, like the already mentioned TWINPAC (which threw me around for a bit). Not saying it's my favorite, but I still thought it was a fun ride, if a little easier than the usual mid-week puzzle. (Standard disclaimers: Your mileage may vary, may cause drowsiness, etc.)

Mac: if you're in the area on Saturday, sign up at the door for the event. They won't turn you away, even if you ask if it's the location of the Sudoku tournament.

pednsg 12:51 PM  

Can't we at least give some props for including the Grateful Dead in the puzzle today. Always makes my day - "nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile!"

PhillySolver 1:02 PM  

Spent a lot of time on the Upper West Side...My sincere recommendations for affordable dining.

Celeste - Best neighborhood Italian
502 Amsterdam Ave.
(b/ 84th & 85th)
212-874-4559

Shake Shack-Best Burger-a tradition
366 Columbus Ave.
(@ 77th St.)
646-747-8770

Kefi - Best neighborhood Greek
505 Columbus Ave.
(b/ 84th & 85th)
212-873-0200

Hummus Place - Best Vegetarian
305 Amsterdam Ave.
(b/ 74th & 75th)
212-799-3335

Land - Best Asian-Thai
450 Amsterdam Ave.
(b/ 81st & 82nd)
212-501-8121

Let me know if you want to splurge.

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

I didn't think the theme was all that lame today, Pete. I guess I am in the distinct minority in that regard. I started at the top of the puzzle and worked my way down, so that the gardens gave me the answer to 52 across, rather than vice versa.

But resort to the ubiquitous random Roman numeral answer just annoys the c**p out of me. Doesn't anyone share this bete noire of mine?

chefwen 2:06 PM  

Cute puzzle, a skosh too easy for a Wed. but I enjoyed it. Had to change the K to a C in TWINPAC and am kicking myself around the block (although we don't live on a block) for giving in and Googling that SUZI Q chicklet. Had I stuck in out a little longer I most likley would have gotten it.

joho 2:11 PM  

Peter, so nice of you to step out in front of the firing squad. The least I can do is offer you a blindfold.

Seriously, while this wasn't my favorite of your theme puzzles, I do enjoy your work immensely. I think sometimes when we expect so much from someone (you) we are too easily disappointed. I couldn't create a puzzle to save my life, so I am always appreciative of what you and and all great constructors do.

Elaine 2:11 PM  

@Anonymous 1:51 p.m.

Yes, I hate the Roman numeral "Early somethingth century" dates. Slightly less annoying are the math problems--at least it's a diversion and someone had to do a little work to come up with it. But then, support from me is a mixed blessing, because I ALSO hate clues with rock star names, car models, and sports teams. My standard answer for a sports question is "Mel Ott," and it's too often right; for automobiles, I always try "Edsel;" and for rock you've got that "Purple Rain." I'd like a moratorium on ALL of that.

Real words for Real puzzle-solvers!

andrea petunia michaels 2:23 PM  

Poor Pete in his bulletproof vest! Bravo for coming out...live and learn. But now you can take the $200 and have an hour of therapy over this!
I like Jim in Chicago's "constructive" criticism re: anagrams, etc. There was a bit of a let down, I just looked to see if it could be rescued with another IA so you had circled GARDENIA.
Or GARAGEDOORSOPENER has ROSE hidden!

I honestly didn't get the Wirehair clue and thought ASTA Wirehair was some sort of Swedish actress I'd never heard of. How embarrassing is that?
(I guess not enough not to admit it here)

@Rex
the Z in SuZi was my last entry, I liked Z being last... (I originally put in HArm)
and I loved that video!
Who the heck is Chris Norman...he's very cute in that 1973-vaguely-BeeGee sort of way!
The only thing that bothered me is that Suzi seems to be missing a T in QUATTRO.
QUATROCCHIO is one of those wonderful descriptive Sicilian names ("Four eyes"....you just know there was some sort of ancestor with thick glasses in her past).
I've always assumed that's where the mafiosi get their nicknames...
Suzi "Four eyes" Quatrocchio...tho she doesn't look Italian.
But I loved the video, they look like they meant what they were singing, loved his voice, and super loved that awkward dance in the middle.
Seems just about the time when women were not into being led around by someone who may or may not have less rhythm than they do.
Poor Suzi! ("Yes, you're cute but I'm trying to sing here.")

@dk
Seat heaters!!!!!! You are SOOOOO Minnesotan!

So totally bummed that I won't be in NY this weekend!

fergus 2:31 PM  

Very little solving pleasure today. Too many Clues that had, as I wrote in the margin, # refs. Also, I see that I wrote WTF puzzle, so there's not much to like, except for the Dead. I have some friends who are in their 50s, or close to, that could still be classified as Deadheads. Never quite understood the extraordinary devotion, but learned to live with it when they came to play at the Greek Theater.

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

@Greene: Barney Greengrass, "The Sturgeon King" serves wonderful smoked fish and other "appetizing" but it ain't no deli.

For deli on UWS, you go to Fine and Shapiro's.

-----> Jew in NYC

Ulrich 2:34 PM  

@Celeste Andrea: Nobody has mentioned the best part of the video yet--a shout-out of my hometown (at roughly the 2 min mark). Thanks, Rex--I know you did this on purpose.

@PC (great initials): Respect for being a good sport--and if we're a firing squad, we're shooting blanks--much noise, no impact...

andrea tragic michaels 3:10 PM  

@Liebe Ulrich,
I saw the Koln!!! But I always think of you as from Connecticut and this whole German thing is some sort of Uber-Piltdown-level HOAX!

I am actually listening to it again!

@Fergus
My across-the-hall musician just came stumblin' in from 10 days following Phish which he compared to THe Dead for his generation...we had a long long long discussion about this.

I have suggested he form his own band called The Dead Phish and hold three day concerts.

Also I didn't get the TRAGIC clue but now can't find the puzzle...

Btw, my friend Jane sent this intriguing link which I haven't listened to yet about the darkside of crosswords:

The Dark Side of Crossword Puzzles
http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/authors/the_dark_side_of_crossword_puzzles_124617.asp

mac 3:36 PM  

@HB: I've registered! Hope it wasn't too late. I'm showing up Saturday morning, I'm already figuring out how to get there from 7th Ave and 23rd St.

Exactly, Ulrich, respect for PC to show up even though the reception wasn't great. And you remembered Celeste!

fergus 3:39 PM  

Took me a while to fill in TRAGIC, too. Obvious in retrospect. (I still don't understand King Lear as easily as Keats said he did upon sitting down to read it once again. Do you?)

There ought to be some bummer prize for crappy theme exploitation. This one would be a contender. Nice grid, but why bother with a theme so lame? Odd that I exulted over thematic artistry (and preciousness) yesterday -- yet I'll refrain from any further evaluation for now.

fergus 3:48 PM  

... Andrea, the Phish feeders will ne'er even rival the followers of the Dead.

And to Susan, when I last read The Dead, I actually cried when the snow was falling all over the west of Ireland ...

Shark 4:04 PM  

In response to Peter's comment: " ...coming up with suitable phrases that contain G-A-R-D-E-N was tougher than it seemed", here's what I found for 15-letter entries:

Giscard d'Estaing
guarded language
marcia gay harden
regular dividend
unguarded moment

Need some 16-ers?

gastric digestion
gray-haired person
great-grandparent
ring around the sun

I am submitting my next puzzle with the same theme shortly - these seem to be easy to make! :-)

And kudos to Peter for popping his head in here ..

sanfranman59 4:04 PM  

Wednesday midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Wed 11:33, 12:35, 0.92, 29%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:54, 6:10, 0.96, 44%, Medium

PIX 5:05 PM  

@ Pete Collins: I think it takes great courage to come forward when the reviews are, shall we say, mixed...my hat off to you for joining the discussion...now about 60D...

Anne 5:36 PM  

I'm late and out of sync once again, because I thought it was fun and snappy, and I didn't have any problem with it. Suzi Quatro used to get a mention in our local paper when she would return to Michigan but I haven't heard anything about her in a long time. But I knew her name.

Tomcat as philanderer always bothers me because I don't think there is a comparable name for female. Tomcat has a rather cool feel to it - the way the term bad boy does. I know about cougar but it's not the same thing. And speaking of cougar, Demi crosses sexy and amen. I thought that was funny.

And since someone else mentioned wirehair which is good, I'll mention dots over eyes. Now that was original but maybe too yucky.

fergus 6:11 PM  

Why all the clever anagrams today? Usually I would chime right in, but today I'm not so atmospheric. I do hope this flurry comes around again soon.

To Anne - I've taken care of cats for the past several weeks, and my main observation is that they're even more craving of adoration than we humans are. I'm a happy dispassionate monkey right now.

Orange 7:49 PM  

Well, I didn't watch Rex's video, but I watched the Kansas/"Dust in the Wind" video Tony O. posted a link to. The fiddler looks like Rasputin, only much, much hairier, and I just read in the New Yorker today (part 2 of Ian Frazier's Siberia travelogue—Grim OMSK! The AMUR River!) that Rasputin was known to smell like a goat. That guy was my favorite Kansas; second place goes to the guy with the wispy wall of platinum blond fine, straight hair swinging over his face.

mac 8:32 PM  

@Orange: I like and remember that song, but there is a lot of hair in that video! And now I will always think of the smell of goats when I hear it.....

Ruth 8:51 PM  

@Orange: I'm pretty impressed to see the lead singer. Listening to that voice, I'd have pictured a real skinny, intense type, like a Neil Young but with a good voice. And definitely worn-out jeans and a work shirt. That guy looks all wrong, with his football-player thick neck and ALL THOSE RUFFLES!! The 70's had strange powers.

jskarf 8:53 PM  

I first heard about Piltdown Man in archaeology class, not in a crossword puzzle, if that is at all reassuring.

seamus 9:06 PM  

Long time reader, first time commenter:

I think Suzi was the first thing I filled in, thanks to her wonderful song from her teenage years as The Pleasure Seekers with her sister:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DK3JtWgtats

second fill was Haze. Stumbled in a few other spots as a relative newcomer to crosswords.

joho 9:15 PM  

Welcome @seamus!

edith b 9:25 PM  

I think TOMCAT puts too fine a point on a character who is essentially - what can a woman say? - raunchy.

I don't belive we should eumpemize that kind of behavior at all.

I also think the theme is flawed as it seem flowers should have been embedded in the 15s rather that something as bland as GARDEN.

I don't know what is is about SNOOT crossing OMERTA that I like but I do.

And how difficult would it have been to just lose the circles?

Glitch 9:32 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
sanfranman59 9:51 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:32, 7:02, 1.07, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:57, 8:32, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium
Wed 11:48, 12:36, 0.94, 35%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:47, 3:43, 1.02, 60%, Medium
Tue 4:12, 4:24, 0.95, 43%, Medium
Wed 5:39, 6:08, 0.92, 30%, Easy-Medium

Anonymous 12:13 AM  

i didn't read all comments, so sorry for any redundancy, but was there not a much BETTER secret garden puzzle less than a year ago?! This will forever be remembered by me as one of the worst/least original themes I've ever seen.

fergus 12:13 AM  

And to Susan again; read one Joyce story from Dubliners and from then on ...

Bill from NJ 12:41 AM  

@anonymous 12:13-

I didn't read all comments, so sorry for any redundancy

Man, I hate a comment that starts like that - what, your time is more valuable than others who do read all the comments to avoid just the situation you describe? It just pisses me off to no end!

Rex, I know your feelings about comments that snark about other commenters but I have read just about all of this sort of thing I can tolerate.

If you decide to delete this comment, I will understand but I just had to get this off my chest.

Sorry for any redundancy - I don't think so.

HudsonHawk 1:57 AM  

@Bill from NJ:

Amen, brother! (not that I want to be known as another redundant snarker.)

Kudos to Peter C. for jumping into the fire wearing nothing but a flimsy flack jacket. Not your best puzzle, but still enjoyable.

All we are is dust in the wind...

fergus 2:38 AM  

Bill, keep you pecker up, please.

fergus 2:55 AM  

OOps I forgot to add an r to to the possessive pronoun. And my analyst will tell me why I keep repeating propositions whenever I want to emphasize a point.

Actually I don't really have an analyst, but I did see a very cool shrink when I thought I was going a bit loopy a few years ago.

chefwen 3:03 AM  

@Bill from NJ - Kudos, my thoughts exactly!

Big going-ons here in November, Father DAMIEN will be canonized as a patron saint for his good works with the Hanson's diseased people on Molokai. Many fesitvals planned here as well as Belgium, his birthplace.

andrea garden michaels 4:04 AM  

@chefwen
Happy to hear that!
In 1990, went to Molokai as a chaperone on "the All New DATING Game".
l
Literally the only thing to do there was a donkey ride down a cliff to the leper colony.
Learned much about Father Damien that day (except how to spell his name).
The last remaining leper gave us a tour which I'll never forget.

Anonymous 5:55 PM  

@ Bill

Sorry for wasting so much of your time. I know the several seconds it took to read the intro to my comment are forever lost, just like the time you spent writing out your bizarrely hostile reaction. And reading all of the comments on this board. My apologies.

Sorry Rex. I just don't like being bad-mouthed for no good reason.

Will 10:30 PM  

Peter,

I enjoyed the puzzle. I don't know why Rex went off on a rant. Any puzzle with "Secret Garden" in it can't be bad- great book.


And Rex, thanks for posting the Suzi Quatro song- hadn't heard that in years and it was a treat.

Whitney 4:08 PM  

My first answer in this puzzle was GREATGRAND--THER, so I had GARDHE as the "secret" letters. But since NO WORD can be made from those letters, I knew I was wrong. And I was. That was the most entertaining thing about this puzzle. And it wasn't very entertaining.

Also, after seeing some real ROCKERS last night (the Meat Puppets! Yay!), I may have to put in a complaint for the cluing of "Rocker" Quatro. She does not rock. She kind of sings and sways a little, but doesn't rock.

I agree with @fikink - thank goodness for BEQ!

Singer 5:59 PM  

Okay, so it wasn't a great theme. I basically solved it as a themeless because the random placement of the circles wasn't elegant. That being said, it wasn't a terribly difficult puzzle, especially for Wednesday, except for the SE. I had most of the problems that Rex did there - didn't know who Suzi Quatro was (not into pop or rock), put in 'fake' for Piltdown Man, which got me going on FDR for the pres on VJ day, which I should have known was wrong - the bomb was dropped on Truman's watch. Once I corrected to HST, then I wrestled with the remainder of the corner. I wanted the siesta to be at noon, but 'mediodia' obviously wouldn't fit. 'Doce' wouldn't work either. Since I never watched Dynasty, I was trying to put in 'Alicia'. Finally got TRES and HOAX. That opened up ALEXIS out of some dark corner of the brain, which left HA*E and SU*I. I got the 'Z' by going through the alphabet, which obviously took awhile - last letter. Appropriate, I guess.

I do want to say that I remember as a kid going to a movie of The Secret Garden. It used the same cinematic trick as The Wizard of Oz in that the movie was in black and white except when the little girl was in the garden when everything was in Technicolor. It impressed me as a kid, and I have liked the story ever since. Haven't seen another movie of the book that I liked as well, though.

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