Eyelike windows — TUESDAY, Nov. 17 2009 — Media exec Robert / Smartphone introduced in 2002 / Arctic seabird / Fake at rink

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Constructor: John Farmer

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: GROIN (52D: Rock star whose name is spelled out by the middle letters of 16-, 18-, 39-, 61- and 64-Across) — I'm kidding: it's RINGO ... but why?? ["middle letters" are actually intersections of identical words, the first and second parts of two-word phrases where first word is repeated]

Word of the Day: BLING-BLING (18A: With 10-Down, flashy jewelry)Bling-bling (or simply bling) is a slang term popularized in hip hop culture, referring to flashy or elaborate jewelry and ornamented accessories that are carried, worn, or installed, such as cell phones or tooth caps. [...] During a 2008 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade in Jacksonville, Florida, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney admired a baby decked in dress attire with gold jewelry and said, "Oh, you've got some bling-bling here." In 2004, MTV released a satirical cartoon showing the term being used first by a rapper and then by several progressively less "streetwise" characters, concluding with a middle-aged white woman describing her earrings to her elderly mother. It ended with the statement, "RIP bling-bling 1997-2003." In 2005, the rapper B.G. remarked that he "just wished that he'd trademarked it" so that he could have profited from its use. [...]] Like many cases of once-exclusive vernacular that becomes mainstream, the views of the originators towards the term have changed significantly over the years. On VH1's Why You Love Hip-Hop, rapper Fat Joe stated, "rappers don't call jewelry 'bling' anymore, we just call em 'diamonds'." (wikipedia)

-----

Oh, Tuesday. Why can't you be like Monday or Wednesday? It's not that I don't love you, it's just that you're hard to love. What does RINGO have to do with intersecting, repeated-word phrases? Is he a big fan of DURAN DURAN? KNOCK KNOCK jokes? I don't know why the intersecting words couldn't have stood on their own? Seemed fine to me as a theme. But then there's this RINGO tacked on. And the clue should read [Rock star whose FIRST name is spelled out ...] because while we do all know him by RINGO, he's not BONO or CHER. Clue should say (or otherwise cue) FIRST.



Theme answers:

  • 16A: With 2-Down, group with the only James Bond theme to hit #1 (Duran Duran)
  • 18A: With 10-Down, flashy jewelry (bling-bling)
  • 39A: With 25-Down, start of a nighttime nursery rhyme ("Twinkle, Twinkle...")
  • 61A: With 50-Down, #1 hit of 1969 ("Sugar Sugar")
  • 64A: With 54-Down, intro to a joke ("Knock, knock...")

Found the grid choppy and awkward, with a SPATE (I mean SPURT — 49D: Sudden burst) of icky stuff in there. WIGAN???? (40D: City near Manchester) Is that some place I'm supposed to be familiar with? Is RINGO from there? I had WIGHT briefly. What about this ASO guy (47A: Japanese prime minister Taro _____)? Is he the new prime minister? No, he was the last one. He Served For One Year (defeated in August '09). Now on vacation in WIGAN, I hear. TIDEMARKS and WIREPHOTO are spooky-looking in that I recognize all the words involved in the compounds, but those particular configurations aren't familiar to me. Slightly more familiar than TIDEPHOTO and WIREMARKS. ESSO crossing ESSA :( EKED crossing DEKE :( AOKS crossing ENCLS !?! :( I actually kinda liked the "five intersecting pairs of matched words" idea, esp. with its perfect symmetry, but between the redundant / irrelevant RINGO and some less than great OCULI (12A: Eyelike windows) ... I mean, fill, I'm happy to be done with this one and on to something else.

Bullets:

  • 53A: Arctic seabird (skua) — it's a different "seabird" (AUKS) spelled backwards.
  • 24A: Cuban base in the news, in brief (Gitmo) — also an Elmo-type puppet on "The Daily Show"
  • 68A: Smartphone introduced in 2002 (Treo) — still surprised at how Infrequently I see this answer. The Palm TREO has been eclipsed in recent months by the new Palm PRE.
  • 4D: Bilbao boy (niño) — wanted NENE
  • 28D: Martial artist who starred in "Romeo Must Die" (Jet Li) — I remember that movie's being very disappointing. Then again, I remember nothing about it ... which is probably because I've confused it with "Romeo Is Bleeding," which stars frequent crossword answer LENA OLIN.



  • 31D: Tampa Bay footballer, briefly (Buc) — not so great at the moment.
  • 43D: French cheese (fromage) — tricky; figured it was a *type* of cheese, not the French word for "cheese."
  • 15D: Media exec Robert (Iger) — forget who he is ... ah, president and CEO of Disney. I get him and Robert ILER (of "The Sopranos") confused, understandably.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

102 comments:

Anonymous 7:19 AM  

I dunno ... I liked this puzzle. At least I liked the intersecting, repeating words. I thought that was pretty neatly done. But the RINGO "theme" (??) spoiled all that. It made no sense that I could see. I had to go and look him up to see if today was his birthday (it's not). So, my question is: why?

jskarf 7:26 AM  

Groin, as in groin vault?

Leslie 7:33 AM  

Oh, I'm glad to see Rex shared my "??" reaction to this. I, too, think the intersecting double-word answers are a perfectly sufficient theme.

I'm going to be mulling over the "Ringo" aspect today. Did he sing a song with a double word as its theme?

Denise Ann 7:47 AM  

This particular Tuesday was a blend of easy-breezy and what-the-heck!

Parshutr 8:06 AM  

How does the clue for 38Across..."___for Africa" come to be filled with USA?? That's a pure wtf.
Wigan Pier is not quite a Natick, since it is part of a George Orwell title.

spyguy 8:13 AM  

Parshutr -

I'm not sure where you might have been in the 80's, but one of the biggest events/movements was the USA for Africa concert and aid program, started I think by Bob Geldof. Many stars together singing "We are the World", etc. Probably highlighted by the Led Zeppelin reunion at Live Aid.

Easy puzzle, with the (I think) Natick of Wigan/Rigel, though I guessed right.

The Corgi of Mystery 8:18 AM  

Not a bad Tuesday, some slightly poky fill notwithstanding. I like the circular arrangement of black squares round the middle...very aesthetic.

WIGAN is probably familiar to anyone who follows Premier League soccer, a growing number of people if my friends are any indication. That being said, I'd take WIGGUM in a puzzle instead any day.

mexgirl 8:19 AM  

Rex, a boy is a niño. A baby (up to toddler) is a nene.
This puzzle felt as uncomfortable as Ringo's voice.

Jim H 8:21 AM  

Even the RINGO might have been saved by giving Duran Duran a Barbarella reference. OK, maybe not...

joho 8:22 AM  

WIGAN was my word of the day. Confused in my brain with wican and vegan.

I like the intersecting same word theme, it's fresh and fun to repeat the words.

RINGO's appearance here is irrelevant except for the fact that his rings are BLING-BLING.

WINELISTS/ FROMAGE is a nice combination.

I thought this a fine Tuesday. Thank you John Farmer!

Skua 8:22 AM  

My opinion

Dough 8:22 AM  

I too thought it was a delightful Tuesday. Congrats to John Farmer. The crossing identical words is terrific. I have to believe that the RINGO business was just a coincidence and used because he could. Not a theme at all, but an odd kind of cross-reference clue. Does anyone have a different theory on this? Anyway, as @Rex so aptly says, Tuesdays aren't Mondays and aren't Wednesdays, which makes them the hardest of the week to write.

tptsteve 8:30 AM  

I'm taking a shot at the sub-theme here. Stars TWINKLE (39A, 25D), or sparkle and so does SUGAR and BLING. Ringo STARR!! (But I still haven't figured out how DURAN DURAN or KNOCK KNOCK fit in).
This is beginning to bother me.
That said, I liked the fill.

Parshutr 8:38 AM  

@spyguy...thanks for the info re USA for Africa. I was thinking of the usual crosswordese of "A is for Africa".

nanpilla 8:42 AM  

TWINKLE, TWINKLE, RINGO Star(r). Poor Ringo, always an afterthought.

I liked the puzzle, and the symmetry of the doubled word fill. Very little overwrites - no real misdirection in there, just a few weird things that you had to use the crosses for.

Elaine 8:45 AM  

I had the same HUH? reaction-- WHY?...and so on. Tried to put STARR in the "middle letter" positions, which did not last long. Filled it all in, but it was not fun, alas.

I'm with Parshutr, actually: USA for Africa? I was alive and well and even in the USA for the 80's, but it rings no bells whatsoever. It just felt like a "stretching for an obscure clue for USA" entry. I slightly recall "Live Aid," but hardly think this was a "biggest movement in the US" thing, so far as current events of the time.

On with Wednesday, where I hope for better things. Thanks for the laugh, Rex: GROIN it is!

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

Oh well -- I liked it. I'm reaching here, but if you draw lines out from the middle of the center intersecting words to the centers of the other intersecting words, it kind of makes a star??? Therefore, Ringo Starr???

dk 8:57 AM  

A qui a coupe le FROMAGE?

I think Wednesday is my favorite day.

This one was a typical Tuesday. The double words are cute but....

Some great new fill in CUFFLINKS, OCULI and SPUMONI.

SKUA - Also called bonxie. Now that is a cool crossword! Any of several large brown gull-like predatory birds of the genus Catharacta, related to jaegers, esp. C. skua (great skua), of colder waters of both northern and southern seas.

The fact that SUGAR SUGAR was the number 1 hit in 1969 depressed me so I give this puzzle:

** (2 stars)

Parshutr 8:59 AM  

@Elaine...I guess we seniors were not so involved with the "bigger movements" of the 80s. More absorbed with earning a living, politics etc.

patdugg79 9:06 AM  

This puzzle's theme is operating on a higher level than anyone can comprehend. It's in the ether.

Frances 9:10 AM  

When I filled in RINGO, in a non-descript location and format, I thought it would have been clever if Ringo's name had been arranged in a circle of some kind. The post from Corgi of Mystery (8:18 AM) may answer the question "Why Ringo?" The Corgi points out that individual black squares form a circle around the center of the puzzle. John Farmer's reasoning may have been: Circle-->Ring-->RINGO.

Van55 9:11 AM  

I knew before I came here that Rex wouldn't like the puzzle, but I couldn't articulate in my mind why.

Here are some that sort of trouble me:

SKUA; AOKS (!?!?); AGAR/UGER crossing; ASO; OJS; RIGEL/WIGAN crossing; ELO.

I think the RINGO thing was a more or less random tie-in for the double crosses.

More fun than not, and a pretty good excercise for a Tuesday.

PlantieBea 9:26 AM  

Funny write-up Rex. Add me to the group who pondered the meaning of RINGO's appearance! I liked the symmetry of this puzzle with the bursts of words in the corners. I'm not sure I saw that Bond movie and I don't recall hearing the Duran, Duran song ever. Wasn't Live and Let Die by another Beatle, Paul McCartney, a number one song from a Bond movie??? Must go to Google.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:26 AM  

I am impressed by marvels of construction, and this was one. In addition to the five crossing answers, they do spell RINGO in usual left to right, top to bottom order. Most of the fill was above average for a Tuesday. Only the clueing seems dumbed down to Tuesday level.

My compliments to John Farmer.

SethG 9:27 AM  

Used NENE. And with ORATERS and OCULE as the resulting crosses, combined with real stuff like what Rex mentioned, it took me longer to find the error than it had to solve the rest of the puzzle. I do not like when that happens...

Sorta remembered RIGEL from puzzles, but knew Wigan from English Premier League. When my friend CY retired from Sub-Zero, I bought him a G UNIT ICED OUT BLING BLING MEN'S GOLD CZ DIAMOND WATCH off of eBay. My sister and I used to be able to sing We Are The World in character. I'm glad AGAR wasn't clued with 'Orrible.

Wouldn't it be funny if RINGO and RIO were RINOs?

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

USA for Africa was huge, think Bono, Geldoff, We Are the World, LiveAid. It was all that. But... who is Jet Li? Where have you gone Jackie Chan?

Ben 9:29 AM  

I liked the gimmick. Was it that the crosses were (Ringo) Star(r)s?

SethG 9:30 AM  

John Farmer commented on Orange's blog, and I normally wouldn't do this but there seems to be enough confusion that I thought I'd add this here. He said:

"Why was RINGO in the puzzle? Why was Ringo in the Beatles? If he was good enough for John, Paul, and George, he's good enough for me!

The really mundane reason, actually: to avoid an unchecked square problem (lest anyone who missed the '80s think the band in the NW might have been DUGAN DUGAN, f'rinstance...). Another reason is that Ringo is kind of a fun name to see, a fun name to say. Who doesn't like Ringo? I thought it was worth adding him, even if it wasn't strictly theme-related.

If you were thinkin' I designed the whole thing to get his name in there, nah. It was a hard grid to fill, with enough constraints without being too clever. It just worked out Ringo's way. Don't think too much. Just enjoy, if you can."

readingwithmytwin 9:31 AM  

I liked the nontraditional word choices that made for an interesting Tuesday solve. Themes don't usually do much for me any way so the Ringo didn't rankle here.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:42 AM  

Re: TREO vs. Pre, I think the Pre is already getting phased out. Shame, because that would make for a good clue.

Meg 9:42 AM  

Was I the only one who wrote in ERNE for SKUA? Certainly SKUA is the better word.

RIGEL always brings back wonderful memories of Star Trek and the great hairdos of the 23rd century.

I assume that if there's an abbreviation (i.e. "e.g.") in the clue, it doesn't mean the answer MUST also be an abbreviation?

So, an OK puzzle.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

O-RING

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Loved it. This puzzle put a smile on my face.

Martin 9:55 AM  

@Meg,

A word that is very commonly used in its abbreviated form, like "e.g.," will not typically be used as an abbreviation signal. Abbreviation signals are meant to be obvious, so they are usually abbreviations of words not normally abbreviated.

darkman 9:55 AM  

I'm with everybody who said anything. I embrace this puzzle as Walt Whitman embraced the world. Now I will lean and loaf at my ease enjoying a spliv of grass.

Crosscan 10:06 AM  

RINGO was a number one hit for Lorne Green. What does that have to do with the puzzle? Whatever you want it to. That's the point today.

Cool puzzle idea.

Crosscan/Crosscan

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

Boy, some of the sourpusses at Crossworld!

treedweller 10:17 AM  

I thought AOKS were nods at first and ENCLS were SASES, so the SE took me a little longer, but the rest was practically autofill (with a hiccup at WIGAN). I was inclined to like the double crosses, though it made easy even easier, so I never completely embraced it.

DUBS

@darkman
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roof of the puzzle.

retired_chemist 10:18 AM  

Anyone know where Fikink is? Haven't heard from her in 2 or 3 weeks, and she didn't answer a private e-mail last week.

Puzzle: a lot of fun. I am always slowed down by the cross-referenced clues, but I enjoyed this one more than most that have a s**tload of such. RP's medium-challenging works for me. More Wed. level, per Orange's blog.

5 letter stars: RIGEL, DENEB, then on to the astral crossword D-list AFAIK. 5-letter STARRs - only one AFAIK.

Too bad there are no such things as PIDs or TODE MARKS. Else we could have honored Minnesota with a themelet.

EMIR and RAJA before RANI. Hand up for ERNE. Thanks to SKUA 8:22 for the audio. NEW to me.

Image: Chou EN-LAI embedded in BLING BLING.

retired_chemist 10:21 AM  

If you google PID the first answer will not pass the breakfast test. But it WOULD be legit.

Stan 10:36 AM  

Fun puzzle, IMO. 54 letters of symmetrical, overlapping theme material is pretty impressive for an easy Tuesday.

Good movie: "Unleashed" starring Jet Li.

Thanks, John Farmer!

PlantieBea 10:43 AM  

Apparently the Bond theme hits "Live and Let Die" by Paul and Linda McCartney, as well as "Nobody Does It Better" composed by Marvin Hamlisch and performed by Carly Simon, made it only to the number two spot on the US hit charts.

Thanks SethG for posting John Farmer's Ringo explanation.

Two Ponies 10:48 AM  

Poor ol' Tuesday, always the red-headed stepchild. But I think today's was more fun than usual.
I got knock knock first and thought Hey! You can do that?!
It also seems like it's been awhile since we have seen a Farmer puzzle. I say thumbs up. Thanks SethG for the John Farmer comments.
@ r_c, I've been wondering about Fikink too.
@ Parshutr, welcome back, it's been a long time, yes?
@ darkman, Have a spliv for me (or is it spliff?)
@ Corgi of Mystery, Good catch on the ring in the grid.
Great write-up today. Groin! Ha!

jeff in chicago 10:51 AM  

Just all right for me. The doubled words meant too many squares got filled in too quickly/easily, taking a little away from the thrill of the solve. And the 3X3 blocks were clued sooooooo easily. I know it's only Tuesday, but this was almost a no-brainer. (There's something I never thought I'd say!)

Ulrich 11:01 AM  

I'm with Doug and the constructor (via Sethg) entirely on this puzzle--Tuesday is not the day to get all serious, and the construction is really above-average.

Weird: For the last few days, I have been doing puzzles at night to the sound of serenading coyotes--in exurbia in South-central CT--go figure...

I'll send the people who asked about fikink an e-mail if I can find an address for them.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Crosswords are meant to be fun, I liked it. I don't really care if the theme has a tight explanation.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Slight hiccup trying to put in wee willie winkie instead of twinkle twinkle and the spelling of Roseanne/Rosanne gave pause too.
Good, good Tuesday puzzle.

Greene 12:20 PM  

I wanted to like this puzzle, I really did, but I found the grid tight and claustrophobic and what's with all those cheater squares? This struck me as a really novel construction idea which was clever and probably very difficult to execute, but provided me little joy as a solver. I thought a great deal of the fill was ugly and wonky. So this is more of a puzzle to admire, but for me at least, not one to like.

Okay, okay, "Greene hates crossword puzzles" and "Greene got up on the wrong side of the bed." I get it already.

HudsonHawk 12:22 PM  

Band Aid was created by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in 1984 and had the hit song "Do They Know It's Christmas?".

USA for Africa was the American response in 1985 created by Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones, and their hit song was "We Are The World".

Similar, but different.

Good to see RINGO getting some props. I thought the bright double STARR in 46A might be the drummer.

ArtLvr 12:31 PM  

Really, Ulrich -- coyotes in CT? that's a howl....

I enjoyed this puzzle, because breaking a rule about repeats was clever! I tumbled at BLING BLING and was able to get the NW by using the known duplicates...

TWINKLE TWINKLE in central position, acting as an almost-asterisk, was good enough to add up to RINGO Starr, and it was a bonus to have star RIGEL riding along there too... KNOCK KNOCK, who's there? Big grin -- RINGO!

∑;)

mac 12:48 PM  

I liked this puzzle, a good Tuesday with some new words (Jet Li??). Maybe if the answer to 52D had been Starr some of you would like the spread-out Ringo better.

@Ulrich: you know where Fikink is?
And welcome back to Parshutr.

mac 12:51 PM  

@Ulrich and @Artlvr: there are plenty of healthy-looking coyotes in Southern Connecticut. Last week I went for a walk and one of my neighbors had put a lifesize cutout of one up in her front yard. Brought me up short! They sometimes fid a little sunny spot on our property to take a rest.

Glitch 12:53 PM  

Wasn't liking this one at first, but as I went along, began liking it more & more.

Before giving it a final grade, considered a deduction for the "odd placement" of RINGO.

After reading the author's explanation (thanx @Sethg) I deducted a bit more.

JF would have been "way more cool" to let the solver discover the serendipity of GROIN since it wasn't part of his plan anyway.

.../Glitch

Zev 12:55 PM  

C'mon everyone. The star (or STARR) theme isn't that subtle. Take a highlighter, mark the five crossing identical answers, and look at the picture you have made. The twinkle/twinkle is at its center. Cute puzzle in my view.

Rex Parker 1:08 PM  

No idea what "picture" you are talking about. That Looks Nothing Like A Star(r). A four-point star? Come on. That's reaching.

Rex Parker 1:09 PM  

Wait — is it a picture of a GROIN? Or an O-RING? I might buy that.

No Diggity 1:10 PM  

Although it was apparent the theme answer was "RINGO," the cluse was confusing in that it stated "middle letters." Thus, in "DURAN" the middle letters are "URA," not R. This holds true for all the other theme answers. Both confusing and awkward.

bluebell 1:11 PM  

There were a lot of words ending in vowels--oculi, eli, enlai, rani, Jet li, or esso, treo, sro---I didn't know oculi, and didn't see the obvious nino--doh! I had Rosanna, so missed deke, which I also didn't know. I misspelled Rigal because I didn't know Jet Li.

But I enjoyed the puzzle--once I had the double word idea I could work from those and suss out other answers. I continue to be amazed at constructors' cleverness.

Ellen in Amsterdam 1:23 PM  

George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier.

Cynthia G 1:25 PM  

I thought I had slept too long and woken up on a Thursday! All those Asian folks, a bird and a city I had never heard of, . . . Maybe this stuff is crosswordese that would have come easily if I had more experience, but I kept muttering, "Hey, this is supposed to be easy!"

Glitch 1:28 PM  

@no diggity

The middle letters in duRan duRan, are R's, one in each word.

.../Glitch

edith b 1:45 PM  

@ulrich-

You can email me at edithb1@live.com re: fikink

On with Wednesday, where I hope for better things. My sentiments exactly, Elaine.

USA for Africa? I thnk of it as one of those artifical constructs put together by aging rock stars, used for their own devices. Kind of thing the '80s were famous for.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

It was extremely interesting for me to read this article. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything connected to them. I would like to read a bit more on that blog soon.

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

Sorry if someone already pointed this out, but all of the middle letters in each of the 5 double words spell RINGO.

R= duRan
I= blIng
N= twiNkle
G= suGar
0= knOck

Sfingi 2:23 PM  

Did not know DEKE IGER JETLI OCULI RIGEL SKUA TREO WIGAN. Is TIDEMARK a real word. Is DEKE a reference to the fraternity? Whither came the word?

Wanted granita for SPUMONI.

@Yes, I think the black square pattern is a star, and each double word crosses in the middles of the corners and the center. That's why Mr. Farmer couldn't use AGAR agar.
Furthermore, by the time I got to KNOCK KNOCK, I had forgotten that all the others were spelling out Ringo, was reminded, put the O in, and Ahei!

Flipper 2:26 PM  

Actually, it's clearly a TORIC BUBBLE.

Martin 2:48 PM  

Sfingi,

Deke comes from decoy.

chefwen 3:05 PM  

A little more snap, crackle, and pop than your average Tuesday, but I liked it. Spelled RIGEL incorrectly and ended up with JET LE who I wouldn't know if he were standing in front of me, so that didn't matter (except I ended up with a mistake).
Had ACURA in, took it out, put it back in,same with ESSO.

Love FROMAGE, in fact I think I'll have some right now.

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

I thought it was rather easy and got through it by simply getting the crosses to anything that wasn't glaringly obvious to me. I don't want to think hard on a Tuesday! As long as I don't have to see "Prexy" or an Obama reference, I'm good. BTW, I'm glad there is one person left in the world who remembers the "song" - "Ringo" by Lorne Greene. Now it's stuck in my head...

sanfranman59 3:18 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)

Tue 8:50, 8:37, 1.03, 62%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:25, 4:25, 1.00, 56%, Medium

chefbea 3:22 PM  

Learned a lot of new words today.

If you draw a line through the letters that you have highlighted - you get an X not a star. If you include the four corners - you get a bigger X. I don't see a star

@ulrich let me know where fikink is also

Charles Bogle 3:28 PM  

also had uncomfortable and ?? reaction to this puzzle

Personal Natick: RIGEL/WIGAN...challenging Tuesday for me; four googles required...personally, in hindsight I could have made better use of the time

Schmidtenor 3:39 PM  

Got it all in good order, except for the NATICK of ENLAI/IGER. I hate "pick a vowel" crosses. Blargh.

andrea carla carla michaels 3:42 PM  

Got DURANDURAN right away but then hoped all the sections had that, so close ELO/ELI and USA/OSU so wondered why he didn't make all the little sections with a cross thingie...but then I got to RINGO and my first thought was "Would I describe him as a rock star?"
so I was all sorts of hung up.

Did this with my neighbor to get him up to speed for Monday/Tuesday cluing for our next puzzle, but it was more confusing than helpful...
I only knew RIGEL from this blog, SKUA from Scrabble, didn't know WIGAN or ASO...so it was all over the place for me.
(Tho I felt cool knowing the sport-y DEKE...and liked that it was connected with EKED, but like the rest of the crowd, I almost couldn't decide if that was cool or half-assed.)

One sortof malaprop...put in TAGS for DUBS and TAG later appeared.

Lots of music in the puzzle today.
RINGO, DURANDURAN, ELO, ONO (if you count her as music) TWINKLETWINKLE, USAforAfrica.
And AGAR backwards is RAGA!
IGER upside down is REGI (Reggae?)

No Knock Knock jokes?
Well, here's one I just made up:
What do you call a Chinese Bed and Breakfast?
CHOU EN LAI

chefbea 3:47 PM  

@carla carla LOL

Anonymous 4:03 PM  

Doesn't anyone but me miss the days of Eugene Maleska,when Mondays were easy, Tuesdays were a little harder and so on through the week? Much more consistent than what Mr. Shortz is presenting.

Clark 4:05 PM  

I guess I was on Mr. Farmer's wavelength re RINGO. RINGO has always been kind of an odd duck -- and I mean that in the nicest possible way. That RINGO fits oddly into the puzzle is part of the beauty of it.

@Rex -- There is nothing reaching about a four-pointed star. The pattern that appears five times in this puzzle is often used to depict a star, it is also used to depict the glinting or twinkling of a star. Glint.

The summer hexagon (worth knowing for puzzles? definitely worth learning to see in the Winter night sky): RIGEL (Orion), Sirius (Big Dog), Procyon (Little Dog), Pollux (Twins), Capella (Charioteer), Aldebaran (Bull).

Anonymous 4:16 PM  

To me the theme of the puzzle could have been just CROSSED WORDS. That would have been more than enough for me, even without the RINGO conclusion -- I loved it.

But then the came the kicker: Lines radiating from the center of the grid to the intersections of the "crossed words" at the corners are like rays emanating from TWINKLE TWINKLE -- the little Starr(?).

Beautiful symmetry and, in my opinion, an ingenious and coherent concept.

Charles

Ulrich 4:44 PM  

fikink update: She says hello to everyone and is anxious to return.

archaeoprof 4:54 PM  

@Rex: Tuesday puzzles often remind me of college sophomores.

Overall, I rather liked this one. But I think I did a puzzle like this in an airline magazine recently. With crossed words in each corner, I mean.

@Ulrich: please deal me in for news of fikink.

Rex Parker 5:11 PM  

As some observant person said, above, connecting the intersections gets you a box (w/ a dot in the middle) or an "X", not a star. Maybe an hourglass if you want to get fancy. Never seen a star represented in Any of these ways. Five points, six points, sure. An "X" no, a box, no. I'm waiting for the example (of how the answers form a star) that makes sense. You'd think someone would have presented it by now. *None* of the "glint" examples (see link, above) look like the pattern in this puzzle. The constructor himself didn't even mention it as a rationale. And you'd think that if drawing on the puzzle made something, we'd have been instructed to draw on the puzzle. So this isn't even close. There's just no star pattern on the grid. Puzzle has plenty going for it; why over-argue for crap that just isn't there?

Travis 5:11 PM  

Should I not admit that I completely blanked on su?ar without the Ringo hint?

Wigan I knew from the soccer team, though I wasn't completely sure since enough teams aren't named after the city they are in[all the London teams, Everton, Aston Villa].

Joe 5:16 PM  

It's hard to confuse Robert ILER with Robert IGER once you remember that IGER is married to the hot (and formerly ubiquitous) Willow Bay.

william e emba 5:52 PM  

What, no demand for a Simpsons clue? I'm disappointed. RIGEL is the home planet of Kang and Kodos!

The "middle letters" explanation given above (the R from both DURANs, etc) does not agree with the clue, which only mentioned the Across clues. But the clue is correct anyway: what's plural is the reference to five letters total, not three per mentioned clue.

There is nothing wrong with referring to the entry RINGO as his "name", without saying "first name". That's what he's known as. Like Galileo and Elvis, some first names become the standard name.

john farmer 5:57 PM  

If you all keep pointing out patterns, the constructor may want to change his mind. ;-)

No need to repeat what I've already said, but just will add that the extra dimension that some people have found (in my opinion) would be a bit of a stretch if it were the theme. On the other hand, if you want to find some (very) loose connection between elements of the puzzle, that's up to you. It's not really for me to say. (I once had a themeless where someone spotted a minitheme. I hadn't intended it, but it made sense. Who am I to say they were wrong?) I probably shouldn't being saying this, or anything at all, since any explanation is what some people respond to, instead of the puzzle itself. (I'll blame Amy, since she asked first. ;-) )

In any case, thx for the feedback.

Martin 6:00 PM  

Rex,

The constructor admitted that RINGO was a happy fluke, so you're right that the extra theme discussions are star-crossed.

However, as you have joined the discussions, you might want to understand what the other side is saying. The cross-shape that you see among other star patterns in the "glint" link in Clark's post is visualized by highlighting the theme words. SUGAR and SUGAR, TWINKLE and TWINKLE. Not connecting them. I know some comments went down that path, but that's not what others have been saying.

Five glinting stars. I see them. They're a fluke too.

john farmer 6:12 PM  

I agree with Martin!

(And I gotta run, so I'll shut up now.)

Ulrich 6:13 PM  

@John: As I said before, I took your word for it, and that was fine with me. What I have done in the meantime is draw the 5 crosses, and my appreciation of the construction has only grown: I realized that the puzzle would have all possible symmetries if it weren't for the 4 black squares closest to the center--i.e. the geometry is even tighter than I thought. This is not to say that I regret those inner squares--breaking the symmetry often adds interest b/c it makes a design less 'sterile'--I mean, who would like to see Cindy Crawford w/o her mole?

dk 7:17 PM  

@Andrea, stick with good jokes and leave the bad ones to the pros :).

@darkman, as an officer of the court.... your goin down -- your door should be opening from the top down just about...

I won a pen from WNDR in Syracuse NY as I got the right answer to the query -- Name anyone of the Beatles. My call in entry: RINGO. err and I think Daniel BOONE was still on TV with Mingo.

back to work

Thanks John F. for the insight. The puzzle was fine I just can't get passed SUGARSUGAR. Where is my greatest hits of the Archies... darn these iPods?

hazel 8:09 PM  

i guess sometimes a cigar IS just a cigar. awesome puzzle for me. Liked both the fun factor of the solve and the blog aftermath. Man's eternal quest for meaning is just flat out inspiring to me!!

Thanks to SethG for providing the early comments from JF - and also to JF for his additional insights.

Very fine puzzle.

andrea bling bling michaels 8:34 PM  

@dk
Oh no! Just found this from a blog called Scribbit (motherhood in Alaska!!) March 8, 2007 in a column about "Evil despots with great names":
"5. Chou En-lai Also perhaps not fully qualified as a true Evil Despot unless you count the fact he was one of the major leaders of Communism in China, bringing on the Revolution and the infamous Cultural Revolution which sent countless Chinese to their deaths. He did eventually switch his policies, shielding many from the effects of the Cultural Revolution, but I can't hear his name without thinking it would make a great name for a bed and breakfast."

damn!

DESPOT: POSTED/DEPOTS

PIX 8:43 PM  

Mozart wrote a piece that contained 12 variations on "twinkle, twinkle little star" (K 265)(although he referred to it as "Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman"). I was hoping the puzzle was about Mozart; instead i got Ringo.

@Crosscan: thanks so much Lorne Greene singing Ringo...made my day...memories of long ago...

OK for a tues. but don't really care about Wigan or Jet Li..there has to be more to life...

william e emba 8:45 PM  

OK, if you really really want to find an extra theme, how about books by someone named Westrup?

Sir Jack Westrup wrote the Collins Encyclopedia of Music and many many more on music, so RINGO is in. Emily Westrup wrote a book about Doggy Doggerel, so PET is in. Heather Westrup wrote Essential Speaking Skills, so ORATORS is in. Margaret Westrup wrote TIDE MARKS, a bulls-eye!

And finally, Darrah Westrup wrote The Mindful Couple, and our five doubled answers are "couples".

Golly, JF, you outdid yourself today!

joho 8:45 PM  

@John Farmer ... you are a hit.

Don't know if you read this blog on a regular basis, but today's comments and volume of them reveal the interest and enjoyment in the puzzle you created. Also confusion and speculation .. how fun!

RINGO would be proud.

Anonymous 9:13 PM  

Mozart can kiss my ass. So can you, emba.

Glitch 9:15 PM  

@acme

Maybe it would be better (and follow the patern) if the B and B were named "Lei en Chau"?

As to the cover up by JF & RP, I connected the points suggested by all those above, using several different colored markers, and looking at the result in a mirror, while standing on one foot, was startled at the star patterns revealed.

So much so that, in trying to regain my composure, I knocked my grassy knoll freeze frame into my annotated Nostrodamus which, in turn, pushed my 2012 Myan calendar countdown clock off the desk.

.../Glitch

Crosscan 9:49 PM  

Glitch has it all wrong. Hold the puzzle up to the light backwards and the hidden message appears: Paul is Dead.

sanfranman59 10:06 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)

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

Mon 6:38, 6:54, 0.96, 43%, Medium
Tue 9:02, 8:37, 1.05, 65%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:27, 3:41, 0.94, 38%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:20, 4:25, 0.98, 52%, Medium

Sfingi 11:46 PM  

@Anon 9:13 - bad fairy, sitting in the mud, too far from the light and warmth of the hearth. Every party has a pooper...

@Farmer - To use a quote oft used by artists, as to whether the art is in the subject, object or beholder: "One sees what one brings." (The Education of Henry Adams)

Glitch 9:18 AM  

nothing new to add, just couldn't resist upping the comment count to 100.

(About as meaningful as the DOW reaching 10,000 tho)

.../Glitch

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

I was very surprised to see the "Bilbao boy" (nino) clue. Bilbao is in Basque country, and I'm pretty sure that the Spanish/Basque language divide is a deeply contentious issue there. Why not "Barcelona boy" or something less politically charged?

Singer 12:13 PM  

From Syndi:

Niño is Spanish for child. Bilbao is in Spain, and yes it is also a Basque city. Barcelona is in Spain, but it is also a Catalan city. Euskara is spoken in Bilbao, but so is Spanish. Catalan is spoken in Barcelona, but so is Spanish. The Euskara word for child would not in any way have been a Tuesday answer.

I was surprised at the double word theme – it seemed to break a basic rule of crosswords – but then again, that makes it fresh. Ringo was an interesting coincidence, as acknowledged by the constructor, and was worthy of noting since the name was spelled in sequence in the double word answers, plus there is the interesting circular shape in the grid which insinuates Ringo and the double word cross in the center of the puzzle (and the circle) which insinuates Star(r). All coincidence, but interesting nonetheless.

I liked the puzzle, even though it seemed easier than a normal Tuesday.

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