2008 Pixar robot — WEDNESDAY, Sep. 30 2009 — Monopoly avenue in light-blue group / Bull on glue bottles / Copacabana locale

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Constructor: Kevin G. Der

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: 19th-century writers from CONCORD, MA — theme answers are four 19th-century American writers. "Note" on the puzzle explains: "When the puzzle is done, the circled letters will spell, from top to bottom, the name of the town where all the people in this puzzle's theme once lived."

Word of the Day: Arthur Godfrey (16A: Arthur Godfrey's instrument, informally => UKE)Arthur Morton Leo Godfrey (August 31, 1903 – March 16, 1983) was an American radio and television broadcaster and entertainer who was sometimes introduced by his nickname, The Old Redhead. No television personality of the 1950s enjoyed more clout or fame than Godfrey until an on-camera incident undermined his folksy image and triggered a gradual decline; the then-ubiquitous Godfrey helmed two CBS-TV weekly series and a daily 90-minute television mid-morning show through most of the decade but by the early 1960s found himself reduced to hosting an occasional TV special. Arguably the most prominent of the medium's early master commercial pitchmen, he was strongly identified with one of his many sponsors, Lipton Tea. (wikipedia)


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Circling arbitrary letters? Can I connect them and make a picture? A picture of Massachusetts? Why one "C" and on the other? The one in "ICILY" and not the one in "OCTAD?" I guess that since the circled letter bit really isn't intrinsic to the solving of the puzzle, I shouldn't judge it too harshly, but finding the letters, C, O, N, C, O, R, D, M, A from top to bottom in any given grid is not going to be hard. I can find all of them, in order, in just the top half of yesterday's grid, for instance. The base theme of four authors whose names fit neatly and symmetrically inside the grid is otherwise just OK. The CONCORD, MA trivia does make it hang together much more nicely than the simple fact of their all being 19th-century writers alone would have. But the circled letters sloppily strewn about the grid are aesthetically unappealing.

Theme answers:

  • 1A: With 6- and 22-Across, noted 19th-century writer (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
  • 24A: With 53-Across, noted 19th-century writer (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
  • 39A: Noted 19th-century writer (Louisa May Alcott)
  • 70A: With 71- and 55-Across, noted 19th-century writer (Henry David Thoreau)

I'm not a 19th-century literature expert by any means, but the very familiar (and long) author names made the puzzle pretty easy to zip through. I tripped a bit in the middle putting up OCEANIA instead of EURASIA (28D: Superstate in Orwell's "1984"), and for some (ironic?) reason, couldn't find the end of WHINY to save my life (for a few moments, anyway). Clue on RYE (69A: Alternative to white) was deceptive enough that I had to stop tearing through the puzzle and think for a minute — a not unwelcome event on a Wednesday (litotes!). Not a fan of two partials in the same grid both beginning with indefinite article "A" (A PAIR, A LIE). And YEOW, that's some spelling on YEOW (41D: "That hurts!"). Seen it before, but still not sure how it differs in sound / meaning from "YOW." Maybe you hold the "E" sound longer.

Speaking of OCEANIA, which I was, my thoughts and good wishes go out to the people of Samoa who were devastated by the tsunami that apparently struck while I was sleeping. Lots of Samoans in my wife's native New Zealand and in Los Angeles and other American communities. News of the tsunami was how NPR decided to wake me up this morning.

Bullets:

  • 27D: Bullet point (item) — ceci n'est pas un bullet point.
  • 32A: The Bakkers' old ministry, for short (PTL) — had the -TL and was ready to drop "S" or "A" in there before ever looking at the clue. This is why you look at clues.
  • 35A: Subject of a Debussy piece (mer) — as in "LA Mer." Heard some beautiful Debussy etudes on "Performance Today" yesterday. This is the guy who was playing:



  • 62A: 2008 Pixar robot (Wall-E) — ... said the constructor who works for Pixar. Product placement!
  • 59A: Bull on glue bottles (Elmer) — his weirdly proud mug is familiar in this house, as daughter is constantly doing "projects" that involve cutting, gluing, etc.
  • 1D: Copacabana locale (Rio) — Why did I always imagine that the story in the song took place in the U.S.? "North of Havana!" There must be more than one.
  • 7D: TV's Kwik-E-Mart clerk (Apu) — I would also have accepted Sanjay, Homer, or James Woods.
  • 10D: Monopoly avenue in the light-blue group (Oriental) — Either VERMONT or CONNECTICUT would have fit the Northeastern theme better.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

PS Celebrity crossword enthusiast and breast cancer survivor Christina Applegate is the 2009 Ambassador for Lee National Denim Day (this Friday, Oct. 2, 2009), a day to raise awareness about breast cancer issues as well as raise money for the Women's Cancer Programs of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), including Christina's own foundation, Right Action For Women. They're asking for $5 donations. I'm giving a little more. Go here to donate. Thanks.

76 comments:

Greene 8:37 AM  

Terrific little puzzle today. Granted, the randomly circled letters don't add to the puzzles aesthetics, but just look at that theme density! 81 theme squares is pretty damn good. I'm amazed that Kevin could place all these names so neatly and symmetrically in the grid. Bravo!

The familiarity of the subject and the cleanness of the fill made this a very quick and easy puzzle. Probably one of my fastest Wednesdays ever. Doesn't take away from my appreciation of this gem one bit.

@EdithB: 29A is just for you.

retired_chemist 8:37 AM  

Ditto on OCEANIA. Much easier than my medium/challenging time would indicate.

Last fill was the W in WALL-E/SHOWED. Still do not get SHOWED for "Didn't skip something." Someone please explain so I can go D'OH.

dk 8:40 AM  

Well, CONCORD is a village and the circled letters form a Village and State. But who am I to nitpick

Struggled with white/RYE until I remembered wine is not the only thing.

Otherwise easy fill for a well read erudite fellow such as mine self.

Liked ELMER and ORIENTAL and 2 points for the shameless WALL-E plug.

nanpilla 8:40 AM  

I was more impressed with this than Rex, I guess. That's a lot of theme material, and a little extra factoid at the end to tie it up. Too bad Hawthorne doesn't have a middle name.
Hated ELD, but liked SAWTEETH. How often do you see that pluralized?
Recently I was amazed to learn that there were people who did not know the entire Monopoly board - they were similarly freaked out by me.
Nice one, Kevin! What does the G stand for?

nanpilla 8:42 AM  

@retired_chemist- Think going to class.

MikeM 8:44 AM  

A little bit harder for me for some reason than a normal Wednesday. MER and SITU were the last to fall. And I misread three times "Galley" as "Gallery" and kept trying for someone who worked in a museum. Only overwrite was Red for RYE. I actually got LOUISAMAYALCOTT with only the last T.
I do not like words like YEOW.. too contrived. Liked ICILY as compared to the recently recurring Icier.
All in all an excellent puzzle, thanks Kevin... Cheers, MikeM

This Jacket Sure Is Constrictive 8:45 AM  

As the worlds 44th greatest non-fan of randomly circled letters, I wasn't as displeased as much as usual by this one. Four major writers from one little village? Maybe worth noting. Maybe not. At least there was no drawing involved, so I didn't have to ask for my crayons from the orderly here.

@R_C - I SHOWED at the party I had intended to skip, thereby making someone happy (or sad).

APAIR, if it wins, always beats something. Maybe 6 high, but always something. Unless you're playing solitaire poker, in which case you always win, but all you win is your own money.

MikeM 8:47 AM  

PS We play the Beatles version of Monopoly at my house... ORIENTAL was in the deep dark recesses

ArtLvr 8:47 AM  

I thought this one was very impressive! On top of those full-name theme answers and CONCORD MA, is the further inclusion of three more authors: PLATH, ORWELL and OBAMA!

Plath had a degree from Smith College and Pres. Obama from Harvard Law School, both in MA -- the former Cutting Edge as the largest of the former Seven Sisters women's colleges and the latter the oldest of the Ivies' OCTAD.

Orwell was OTHER, being British, but literary mecca Massachusetts had a clear MONOPOLY today. Super puzzle!

Orange 9:09 AM  

Copacabana Beach is in RIO. The Copacabana nightclub of Barry Manilow fame is...maybe in Miami? That's just a bit north of Havana. And yes, I totally have the song earworming in my head now. I always enjoy a little "Copacabana," I do.

joho 9:11 AM  

I, too, was impressed by the theme. This puzzle held together very well. I was surprised at how quickly I solved, though. I decided to do it late last night and just zipped through it. I went to bed thinking it was too easy for a Wednesday. I still do, but liked it just the same.

@Rex, that Godfrey clip is fascinating. I thought I knew who he was but didn't. In fact, I visualized a face but it was Art Linkletter's! Great story about his lack of humility.

Great puzzle, too, thanks Kevin!

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

@RP

'Non-New England Avenue of trio encountered shortly after passing GO' might be too long of a clue.

RT

Elaine 9:23 AM  

I agree on the "Easy (as in easy-peasy) but enjoyable " assessment. As soon as I saw LOU.. I knew it was Alcott (I read them ALL as a elementary student/preteen) and wrote Concord MA in the margin. Yes, it WAS quite a little colony....

My only complaint is that it was all over too soon. Thanks for explaining SHOWED, nanpilla. I didn't get it til I read your note. Duh.

PuzzleGirl 9:33 AM  

Well-done, Kevin. Really enjoyed this one.

They were young and they had each other / Who could Ask. For. More. (all together now):

At the Copa (COPA)
Copa Cabana (COPA CABANA) ....

PlantieBea 9:38 AM  

A pretty darn good Wednesday puzzle which made me nostalgic for the days of living in the NE. I've mentioned this before, but last year, my DD (dear daughter) lived in Plath's old dorm room. Visitors frequently knocked on her door and asked to see the closet which undoubtedly looked...messy. Each year for convocation, Smithies from Plath's old house dress in black.

In this puzzle, the author I struggled with a tad was LMA. I kept trying to come up with male authors named LOUIS. Doh. My only complaint about this puzzle is, of course, the circles.

Thanks KD for this Wednesday fun.

Elaine2 9:48 AM  

lovely puzzle -- don't understand why Rex didn't like it.

Circles could have been better managed, true, but the theme answers were just beautifully laid out. It's great to have a theme that isn't about "wacky phrases" only some of which are really phrases at all!

JC66 9:49 AM  

I think the Copa in Manilow's song refers to the famous NYC nightclub of old.

If ORIENTAL is now an un-PC term for Asians, why is it OK for Parker Bros/Hasbro to keep using it on the Monopoly board?

Dough 9:53 AM  

Let's ask Kevin to do a follow-up, with "NATICK, MA" in circled letters, and featuring:

• Horatio Alger
• Doug Flutie
• Harriet Beecher Stowe

And then, pick another Pixar flick to tout, perhaps "Cars" or "Boundin."

Ralph Waldo Emerson 9:54 AM  

JC66 -- All the street names on the Monopoly Board come from real Atlantic City street names. And guess what? Oriental Avenue crosses Massachusetts Avenue. So it must be another theme-ish answer. See here: http://bit.ly/1IKBef

PIX 9:58 AM  

Fun puzzle, well constructed.

Agree with above comment that 15A["it beats nothing = a pair"] is simply wrong. It certainly beats many many hands in poker; any hand without at least a pair (or straight or flush or whatever).

@31A:["in___(as found)]= situ] is common medical terminology..."carninoma in situ" means the cancer is well localized and no evidence of spread.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:59 AM  

Huge props for the amount of theme material. Huge points deducted for the completely random circles (can we please kill that as a "theme" please?). Overall fun solve. More please, Kevin.

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

Isn't a head of London normally a loo?

Sam 10:25 AM  

Oh heck, Brendan, the more the merrier!
Why kill the circles? More is more, not less! Do they hurt? No. Consider it a fillip.

The Copacabana was the MOST famous nightclub in NYC for years and years and years.

Oh generation gap, wherefore art thou?

deerfencer 10:35 AM  

Fun puzzle--nice job KD!

My only plaints: 1) the lame cluing for "showed" and "a pair" as already noted by others; 2)
"lamentations" strike me as much heavier emotionally than "plaints", which sound merely whiney. "Bitches" (as a plural noun) would have been a better clue here IMO.

Two Ponies 10:36 AM  

Not quite as sparkling as some of KD's past work but kudos for theme density.
My favorite was Sob Sister.
Least favorites - annoying Iwo showed up again and Wall-E? WTF? I refuse to watch children's movies just so I can do a puzzle.
Otherwise a fun Wed. Thanks Kevin.

Van55 10:41 AM  

When play poker, having a pair beats having nothing. At least that's the sense in which I understood the clue and answer.

Nice puzzle. I consider it al dente in difficulty. Just enough bite but not too much.

Glitch 10:43 AM  

One small nit, I believe there was only one "Many headed serpent(s)": The Hydra of Lerna, killed by Hercules as one of his Twelve Labours.

"Real" hydras regenerate many things, but I don't think multiple heads is one of their traits. Anyone?

Otherwise, I agree with BEQ, Rex on the random circles, and most of the above comments.

.../Glitch

Crosscan 10:45 AM  

The Copa is now in Las Vegas, 3 nights a week. I was there (good show).

A little worried after the Julius LeRosa clip, that the PS would be: Let's thanks Crosscan, as today will be his last comment. I do get more fan mail than Rex.

Good puzzle, I circled the letters for CROSSCAN. Just like the Bible Code. I also found WALDO.

XMAN 10:49 AM  

It would have been my fastest Wednesday, except I was fixated on the Copa being in NYC, didn't know there were eight (count 'em eight) Ivies and the light would not go on for LIT. Tarnation!

I looked up YEOW in Web. II. No soap, but found a wonderfully obscure word and clue: Yndoys, the people or language of India (obs.).

Cocord is a sizeable town for Mass. I lived in a city (Gloucester) of 26,000 and a town (Rockport) of 6,000. A village is an unincorporated, usually historic, residential area.

You could parse 'beats nothing' as 'is better than a hand with only a high card (nothing).'

edith b 10:50 AM  

Generally speaking, I like Kevin Der's puzzles but I found this one disturbing. It was one of those Name that . . .(fill in the blank), and, depending on your age and interests, it could be rappers or rock stars, baseball or football players, composers or comedians, movie , tv, or Broadway people or any other group of famous folk, all of them presented to us in a vacuum.

Anybody who took an academic course of study in high school would do well on this puzzle. I guess it allows we literary people to feel superior to the other groups of people who know those other categories listed above but what is the difference between us and them? It's all names and nothing but, all little pieces of information one either knows or doesn't know. And I don't like circles in my puzzle.

@Greene-
Thank you

PuzzleGirl 10:51 AM  

I don't think you have to watch children's movies to do puzzles any more than you have to go to the opera, study physics, or read anything by any of the writers who appear in this puzzle. I think you just have to be aware of what's going on out there. (Or what has gone on in the past.)

mac 10:59 AM  

Nice puzzle, well done Kevin. I think sob sister was my favorite, not something I hear very often! I agree, Concordma would have been better as a theme answer.

@Crosscan: I found Waldo too, and red wine.

I missed the memo where oriental is decided to be un-PC. My Lebanese friend once explained to me that she was a little emotional and volatile, because: I'm Oriental, you know.

HudsonHawk 11:03 AM  

As @Sam pointed out, the Copa in the Manilow song was in NYC. It was also the club that Henry Hill takes Karen to early on in Goodfellas, with the extra long continuous Scorsese shoot of their entrance (supposedly redone several times because Henny Youngman kept screwing up his lines).

@Two Ponies, WALL-E is a very worthwhile film for adults. In fact, I'd hardly characterize it as a children's movie.

Speaking of movies, Rene RUSSO was in neither of the Lethal Weapon movies that I've seen. She didn't come along until 3 and 4. I'd rather see her clued to Elmore Leonard's wonderful Get Shorty.

Glitch 11:11 AM  

@xman

Re: YEOW

Click here

.../Glitch ;)

retired_chemist 11:12 AM  

@ nanpilla and jacket -

D'oh.

ArtLvr 11:17 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 11:21 AM  

@ Xman: Not so, that a Village is necessarily unincorporated, legally! My home town was the Village of Oak Park, IL, first suburb due west of Chicago's Loop and it is historically long since incorporated, though not as old as Concord, Mass.

It has a professional Village Manager hired by the elected Village Board rather than a mayor, and the school system is locally run too. We've claimed many illustrious residents over the years -- including Edgar Rice Burroughs, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Ernest Hemingway. My father was a class or two behind Hemingway in high school...

∑;)

Two Ponies 11:30 AM  

If my love of books, operas, science, cooking, medicine, etc. puts me in a cultural void then I'll just have to sigh and suck it up when a Pixar clue leaves me with a blank look on my face.
That's OK, I can live with that.

XMAN 11:43 AM  

Glitch: Had no problem with YEOW as a word. Just a way of introducing my find, 'Yndoys.'

ArtLvr: Was only speaking of my neck of the woods.

Sorry for the mixup, guys.

Ulrich 11:46 AM  

@Van55: Very perceptive, thx! I also was in the complainers' lot about the A PAIR clue until you came along.

Yes, those randomly placed circles look awkward, and are lame to boot: I found ULRICH in the puzzle without much trouble!!!

On the other hand, if Concord is the town that binds those names together, it should be mentioned somehow. Best would be, of course, another theme answer, but that may be difficult to pull off, given the theme density as it is. So, we are left with something conceptually unresolved in an otherwise very enjoyable puzzle...

Ulrich 11:50 AM  

PS; The Free Online Dictionary lists geezerhood as a synonym for ELD--now it makes sense...

pednsg 12:08 PM  

I give this one 5 out of 5 stars. Any puzzle that can motivate me to read about things about which I'd previously had no interest (ie Concord, MA and its history), coupled with great theme material symmetry / density, is a beaut - no bull (Elmer)!

Shamik 1:22 PM  

Played poker in Las Vegas last week. No one was betting. Won the small pot with a King. A pair of deuces would have thrashed me. But we know this already.

Felt like slow going, but then got an easy time for me for a Wednesday morning. Felt it was well constructed and actually like YEOW! Wanted REE for RYE because I didn't want to let go of WHINE, but knew REE made no sense. And knew WALL-E without having seen the movie.

And my grandfather delivered milk for Borden's, so grew up with many ELMER and Elsie items in the house.

Ahhh...first crossword puzzle in over a week. Was going through withdrawal. Good to be back.

andrea whiny today michaels 1:42 PM  

hmmm, I liked the theme density, it would have been cool to put HENRY DAVID immediately below RALPH WALDO
and made words going down...

But I think I fall on the Edith side of things here... (I thought of you too at 29D)
Too many names/facts, not enough fun word play (for me)
I mean, actually, no fun word play...just a marvel at the construction.

It was like that Henry Hudson puzzle for me...I learned something, but it didn't feel fun or peppy.
Even Joon's was very college-bowl-y.

All this learning stuff is making my brain bleed!

I AM actually cranky and sad today, not from the puzzle per se,
and I love Kevin, but I did not love the puzzle tho I greatly admired the construction, awes me as a part-time constructor, but still isn't what thrills me as a solver.

Charles Bogle 2:04 PM  

agree w Pix, TwoPonies--fun puzzle, well-constructed, good density of theme material, very little hackneyed fill...also am surprised RP didn't care more for it...CONCORD was just a little "party favor" at the end; icing on the cake. Liked: SAWTEETH, SOBSISTER; did not like WALLE and despite the god-faith explanations offered by others, still do not "get" SHOWED for "didn't skip something"

btw, that clip of Arthur Godfrey firing Julius LaRosa is terrific, thanks RP! What a raw deal LaRosa got; what a you-know-what and hypocrite Godfrey was (one "big happy family," right)...AND: does not young LaRosa look like spitting image of Leonardo DiCaprio?

Denise 2:14 PM  

Love the Concord writers, but I agree that the names are so well known and so long that the puzzle was over quickly.

My grandmother LOVED Arthur Godfrey, and supposedly came out of a semi-coma, walked downstairs, watched the TV show, went upstairs and died. I guess she was loyal! Now, if he had fired Carmel Quinn . . .

PlantieBea 2:24 PM  

@Charles Bogle: maybe it's easier to think of showed in its noun form. They were "no-shows" for their reservation at the fine dining establishment. Now, if they showed...they didn't skip.

Sfingi 2:55 PM  

Rex - Thanx for the Julius LaRosa vid. He's Sicilian and 79. "E cumpari," is in dialect, a Schnitzelbank type song.

I detected the theme (Yay!)and solved pronto.

@Mac - In the '70s, a Lebanese friend of mine once said that I just couldn't understand the Eastern mind.

The NYC Copa was owned by the mob, and the Latin Quarter was owned by Baba Wawa's Dada. (Both near W 38th at Brdwy, aka Lou Walters Way.)

sanfranman59 3:48 PM  

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 9:03, 12:00, 0.75, 8%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:03, 5:53, 0.86, 18%, Easy

Piece o' cake

chefbea 4:27 PM  

Easy puzzle. I had loo at first and read ivies as ivories. But octad fits for either one.

@crosscan I circled Bea and Barbara and also St. Louis Mo.

retired_chemist 4:43 PM  

As did others, I first put RED @ 69A as "Alternative to white." And it is almost time......

HudsonHawk 4:51 PM  

@retired_chemist, I also thought about RED for 69A. Then when I saw the answer was RYE, I thought the clue should have been "Alternative to bourbon". Yep, it's 10 til 5.....

mac 5:01 PM  

@HudsonHawk: I had the same thought process...

retired_chemist 5:03 PM  

@ HH, mac -

We are in high spirits this afternoon......

chefbea 5:25 PM  

I've got my scotch!!

PlantieBea 5:26 PM  

Well, since I'm cooking with it, I've already uncorked a red...

PuzzleGirl 5:34 PM  

Wow. You guys are bunch of TOPING SOTS, aren't you? :-)

retired_chemist 5:38 PM  

@ PuzzleGirl - But not TO XS.

PIX 5:49 PM  

@sanfranman59...just wanted to say once again: thanks for the data...i always find it very interesting to see the actual numbers after reading everyone's comments...this group is obviously skewed to the more advanced solver side of things and it's interesting to see how the masses coped with the puzzle.

@several people: I sort of see having "a pair" "beats nothing" can make sense. I stand corrected.

archaeoprof 5:53 PM  

Well, okay, maybe it wasn't the greatest puzzle of all time, but it did include IN SITU and RELICS, which made my archaeological heart go pitter-pat.

Now if we could just get some country music into the NYT puzzle...

chefwen 7:19 PM  

You guys are making me laugh today, as usual. It's on 1:20 here so I have a way to go before I can enjoy any red, white, or rye.

Sfingi 8:16 PM  

Also had red before I had rye. And I was thinking of the flag!

Actually like Wall-e and all cartoons which have what we used to call full animation. I admit to being mesmerized by the visuals to the point of hardly hearing the audio. I'll need to force myself to watch the poorly animated TV stuff since I've been told that the dialogue is quite clever.

Orange 8:18 PM  

Will Shortz has probably said a hundred times that any topic that's covered in the New York Times is fair game for the crossword. This includes movies (reviews every Friday, occasional feature articles), music (classical and opera along with rock, rap, pop, and country), TV shows, and sports.

You can grumble all you want that you don't think you should have to know the names of athletes, rappers, actors, etc.—but you're wasting your breath. They're going to be in the crossword whether you like it or not. Want to enjoy the puzzles more? Then check out the other parts of the newspaper and broaden your horizons.

Stan 8:24 PM  

I thought this puzzle rocked. Coherent, extensive theme and solid non-theme fill. Remarkable for an easy Wednesday -- made my day.

Thanks, Kevin, and name-check Pixar all you want...

Two Ponies 8:36 PM  

Well, not caring about a Pixar movie seems to have made me the whipping boy today. I thought we were allowed to express our individual experiences in this forum. One small comment does not make for a grumble or waste of one's breath in my world. I have learned from experience that once you have heavyweights like Puzzle Girl and Orange on your case you might as well sink back to lurker status.
I'd rather join the Happy Hour crowd and I think that's what I'm going to do!

sanfranman59 10:00 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 6:18, 6:58, 0.90, 30%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:43, 8:26, 1.03, 65%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:14, 12:00, 0.77, 9%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:32, 3:42, 0.95, 39%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:33, 4:22, 1.04, 68%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 4:54, 5:53, 0.83, 15%, Easy

enigma 10:04 PM  

sanfranman, do you post these numbers in a blog, table, or graph format somewhere? these numbers are useful, but they would be much more useful in a better format: they would be easier to find, read, and compare with other days, etc.

sanfranman59 11:32 PM  

@enigma ... Thanks for your interest. I track all of my own crossword solve times and now the NYT numbers that I post here in a spreadsheet. In addition to the NYT, I also do the Yahoo, Boston.com and USAToday.com puzzles. I don't have a blog and don't particularly want one as I already spend more time with this hobby than I probably should. Nor do I post these numbers anywhere else (in fact, I wouldn't know how to go about doing so). If you have a suggestion for a better way to present the numbers here (that won't require much more time on my part), I'd be happy to hear them.

sillygoose 11:37 PM  

A pair only beats "nothing" if you are playing a form of poker in which the high hand is the winner. There are many forms of poker, such as Lowball, played either A-5 or 2-7, single draw or triple draw, limit or no limit, in which "nothing" most definitely beats a pair, at the showdown that is. Don't forget about Razz which is seven card stud played for low, in which the lowest hand is the winner.

I enjoyed the puzzle, although it was a bit easy once you start uncovering the names, but I too learned something about Concord MA that I wouldn't have pieced together on my own.

For the record, I love circles in my puzzle! I need all the help I can get. I wish there were circles in the Friday and Saturday puzzles, say wherever the letter "c" appears or something along those lines. If that were the case I wouldn't need to go to Google so much.

@Two Ponies My kids didn't want to watch Wall-e, for which I was silently grateful! Although, we were watching Finding Nemo about 10 minutes ago. :)

edith b 12:29 AM  

@Two Ponies-

I feel your pain. I did this puzzle last night and wrote up my comment to post on this blog in the morning. Imagine how I felt to discover that my opinion was decidedly in the minority and one of the first comments I saw was from someone whose opinion I respect and radically different from my own!

I gave serious thought to either changing it or not posting it at all. After all, I am a woman of a certain age and it is not in my upbringing to be confrontational. However, I finally decided that it was my opinion and I was entitled to it, regardless of how it was received. It was honest, not insulting and I was prepared to defend it, if it came to that.

I am glad now that I posted it "as is" and did not take the cowards way out.

Congratulations, Two Ponies, for having the courage of your convicions, regardless of how the heavyweights felt.

andrea waldo michaels 3:39 AM  

can I repeat my Oriental story?

When I moved to San Francisco in 1984 I moved into Nob Hill. A few weeks into living here I ran into the Chinese postman (now known as the Asian postal worker) several blocks down from my apartment.

He stopped me and said"1237"? And I was startled and asked if we had met...and he looked at me and said
"You only Occidental on block".

Had never heard the word before nor since.

Orange 8:52 AM  

Edith B and Two Ponies: For crying out loud, I was not chiding you individually. I was responding to the overall vibe of "why should I have to know rappers?" and "no fair, I don't follow baseball" complaints that surface so often. Now, why do you keep calling me and PuzzleGirl "heavyweights"? We're not that heavy.

Tim 1:52 PM  

As a newbie solver (in the 20+ min category for Wednesdays), I appreciated a fairly easy puzzle -- especially one with so much thematic content. (I was an English major and perhaps this is why it was easy!)

I mainly wanted to say that while I understand the veterans' distaste for circles, I was grateful for it because it helped me solve the southwest. Without it, I would have had CABIN instead of LODGE and been totally in the woods.

Nullifidian 6:55 PM  

Good day to be an English major, I suppose. Not only do you have 81 theme squares, but there's also Orwell's EURASIA and Sylvia PLATH. I'm not an English major (in fact, I'm double majoring in biology and sociology), but I had no problems with it.

One thing nobody has mentioned is that Charles Ives, one of the great American composers, devoted his Concord Sonata to all four of the featured writers. The movements are "Emerson", "Hawthorne", "The Alcotts" (dedicated to both Bronson Alcott and his famous daughter), and "Thoreau".

You can listen to a Youtube playlist of the whole thing or to the composer playing his own third movement.

Waded Boggs 7:24 PM  

I'm a very new solver. About the billionth-best in the world. I get so much from your blog, Rex (including answers when I'm tired & stumped)
But a pair beats (having) nothing.
Thanks

Rex Parker 7:41 PM  

@Waded, glad you enjoy the blog and find it useful.

Wade Boggs was my favorite player in the 80s.

rp

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