Topper for Charles de Gaulle — TUESDAY, Jan. 5 2009 —  Nobel or Celsius / Hippies' crosses / Foppish dresser / Key Largo Oscar winner Claire ___)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010



Constructor: C.W. Stewart

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "SEE / RED" (25A: With 46-Across, be angry ... or what you can do inside the answers to the six starred clues) — "RED" embedded in six different two-word phrases

Word of the Day: Claire TREVOR (6D: "Key Largo" Oscar winner Claire ___)

Claire Trevor (March 8, 1910 – April 8, 2000) was an American actress. She was nicknamed the "Queen of Film Noir" because of her many appearances in "bad girl” roles in film noir and other black-and-white thrillers. She appeared in over 60 films. [...] Another two of Trevor's more memorable roles come starring opposite Dick Powell in Murder, My Sweet and Born to Kill, in the latter playing a divorcee who gets more than she bargained for by falling in love with a bad boy who impulsively murders. Key Largo the following year, gave Trevor the role of Gaye Dawn, the washed up nightclub singer and gangster's moll. She won the Academy Award for Best supporting Actress for the film. [She also appeared on episodes of "The Love Boat" and "Murder, She Wrote" later in her career] (wikipedia)

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"RED" is a terribly easy word to embed in a two-word phrase, so I'm not that impressed with the theme per se, but having six interlocking theme answers definitely adds a "wow" factor to the grid and makes the puzzle at least somewhat noteworthy. Crossing two theme answers is one thing, but I'm not sure sure I've seen a theme answer crossing *two* other theme answers, as happens twice today — two through FIRE DRILLS up top, two through DARE DEVILS down low. The SEE / RED answers add a nice flourish, though I'm never thrilled when the theme revealer starts ["With x-Across, ..." unless the "x-Across" is Right Next Door. Just a personal preference.



My time on this one was slower than usual. On Monday and Tuesday all I have to do is fall into one hole, one trap, one dead end, and my time is shot. Today, I fell in instantly, at 1A: Pooh-pooh, with "at" (scoff). Wanted SNEEZE, and wrote in SNEER. "Confirmed" it off of 1D: Window part (sash), which I entered as SILL. Wrong and wrong, right off the bat. Reasonably quickly corrected, but precious seconds were lost. More seconds lost when I hit 6D: "Key Largo" Oscar winner Claire ___ (Trevor), whose name I just didn't know. It's familiar to me now that I look at it, and I own (and love) "Murder, My Sweet," which she stars in. I just didn't have the name handy today. DANDY didn't come instantly either (18D: Foppish dresser). Once I got out of the NW, I tore through the rest of the grid like wildfire, balking only at the stupid Kansas town IOLA, which I knew (it's crosswordese) but blanked on (54D: Seat of Allen County, Kan.). But the damage had been done. Since I routinely finish the M and T puzzles in under 3 and 4 minutes, respectively, it's hard for me to assess their "relative difficulty." A stupid mistake (having nothing to do with a puzzle's intrinsic difficulty) can throw my time off wildly.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: *Antishoplifting force (sto RED etectives) — figured the "force" would be some kind of screening system or alarm.
  • 26A: *Marching band percussion (sna RED rums)
  • 4D: *School evacuation exercises (fi RED rills)
  • 44A: *Rims (oute RED ges)
  • 57A: *Textbooks for instructors (teache RED itions)
  • 30D: *Evel and Robbie, for two (da RED evils)

Bullets:

  • 16A: Topper for Charles de Gaulle (képi) — did he really wear one, or is he just a representative Frenchman here? Oh, I see they are military headwear, so he definitely wore one. Wikipedia says that KÉPIs were "intended as alternatives to the heavier, cloth-covered leather French Army SHAKO" — a word that I (also) know only from puzzles.
  • 30A: Lower chamber of Russia's parliament (Duma) — I know this, but always hesitate at filling it in because it feels like I'm confusing it with something else (most notably Alexandre DUMAS).
  • 41A: Shell game spheroid (pea) — "Spheroid" = PEA 8 times out of 10. I made up that stat, but it feels right.
  • 62A: Subject of much Mideast praise (Allah) — odd / good clue.
  • 26D: Nobel or Celsius (Swede) — tore through this section so fast I never saw the clue. Just saw -WEDE and filled in the "S".
  • 33D: Hippies' crosses (ankhs) — this clue for ANKH has worn out its welcome with me. More imagination, please.
  • 45D: Said "bos'n" for "boatswain," e.g. (elided) — interesting clue. I learned the word "bos'n" from what Shakespeare play when I was 16? [A: "The Tempest"]
  • 51D: Phil who sang "Draft Dodger Rag" (Ochs) — another recycled clue.



Lastly ... Happy Birthday, Merl Reagle. The legendary crossword constructor turns 60 today, and Andrea Carla Michaels and Michael Blake have made a puzzle for the occasion. Get it here. Merl is a fantastic constructor and a generous guy. He's always been supportive and friendly to me. And as far as his generosity toward others — if you haven't read this story yet, about his recent secret tribute puzzle, then you really should. It's amazing.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

87 comments:

Elaine 8:08 AM  

This one took me some time (though I am a paper and pen solver) mainly because I needed a lot of crosses to be sure of answers. Going back and forth takes time.

I did not feel like SNEER (at) worked as "pooh-pooh" so waited on that one; FIREDRILL gave me the F and SCOFF was revealed.

For 63A I put FANS--Pigskin supports. It does slow one down. I did not realize football used TEES. And, for the record, I did not know CELSIUS was a person... but now I do; SWEDE...I would have clued this as "Turnip." (Hey, Rutabaga folk!)

This had nice clues--multiple possibilities for many-- and I enjoyed it. Is this the first time ARIAL has been in a puzzle? I admit it's my favorite, too.

joho 8:08 AM  

I thought this was a fine Tuesday effort. The only thing that bothered me was SKID for "Losing streak." I'm familiar with somebody hitting the skids, but not with this usuage.

I have to say I'm most struck today by the post and comment section from December 17 at LA Confidential regarding Merl's puzzle for Clara. What a story. Thank you so much first Orange and then Rex for sharing. This is an example of humankind at its best.

I also thank Rex for posting Andrea and Michael's great birthday puzzle. What a treat!

This has turned out to be a stellar Tuesday!

Happy birthday, Merl!!!!!

Felix Leiter 8:10 AM  

Dr. Julius No was the first movie villain in the James Bond series.

He was featured in the sixth novel(early ?), written in 1958. The previous novel villains:

Casino Royale (1953)
Villain: Le Chiffre

Live and Let Die (1954)
Villain: Mr. Big

Moonraker (1955)
Villain: Hugo Drax

Diamonds Are Forever (1956)
Villain(s): Jack Spang (Rufus B. Saye); Seraffimo Spang

From Russia, With Love (1957)
Villain(s): Rosa Klebb; Red Grant

BTW :The REDS around DRNO form the letter C, across from SEE.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

The Shakespeare play is The Tempest.

ArtLvr 8:18 AM  

I enjoyed your write-up, Rex.. I thought Sniff for SCOFF but that was easily fixed with CUTE, which the puzzle was!

TREVOR came back to me, and we'd had OCHS recently so that was helpful. I rather liked the BRINK at the OUTER EDGES, where one might CLENCH one's teeth or WARILY MINCE one's steps.

POETESS was quaint, didn't make me SORE.

∑;)

p.s. I never came across the other puzzle with Lemon yesterday. Thanks for the extra one today!

Bob Kerfuffle 8:22 AM  

Nice puzzle.

And I am bouyed by reading Rex's remarks. I have decided to treat myself to the ACPT this year, so I have tried to plunge through some puzzles full speed ahead, not my usual style. So instead of contemplating alternatives, I threw in SNEER and SILL at 1 A and 1 D. How nice, in a way, to see that Rex made the same mis-steps! But I was not completely humbled, so I went on to 26 D without reading the whole clue, just saw "Celsius, five letters, starts with S" and put in SCALE. Would not have done that had I read the whole clue! Finally, one minor write-over, had ARIEL before ARIAL.

And it still took me seven or eight minutes altogether.

tptsteve 8:31 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, and having read RP's comments, now appreciate the construction (though I am getting tired of seeing AT IT and AS IN).
Sneer and sill got me as well. I love OSAGE, and wished the clue for NAVEL could have referenced an OSAGE orange. Oh well.

Tinbeni 8:41 AM  

@Felix:
A friend of mine in Jamaica, Tim Moxon (TimAir), played Strangeways in the movie, DR NO. Hence he was 1st guy killed in a James Bond movie. (Being in the CIA, you could have saved him)

Did not get the theme SEE RED until I came here, but I had SCOFF right off the bat, SKID got me KEPI, started feeling SMUG (Fri.& Sat. will change that!) and this was my quickest NYT solve ever.

IOLA was in another puzzle last week, only way I knew that. Nice to see TEES clued sans golf.

Happy Birthday Merle, time to try your tribute puzzle.

@Rex, nice write-up & clips.

chefbea 8:47 AM  

Easy Tuesday puzzle. Got the theme right away.

Happy birthday Merl. Did the puzzle yesterday. Thanks Andrea and Michael - lots of fun.

Parshutr 8:58 AM  

If there is such a thing as a Perfect Tuesday Times Xword, this is it.
Just my opinion.
I did go back and forth quite a bit in the NW (as did RP, our peerless leader) and was definitely helped by the SEE RED theme (as well as EVILS and DEVILS.

PIX 9:33 AM  

ALONSO: Good boatswain, have care. Where's the master?
Play the men.

Boatswain: I pray now, keep below.

ANTONIO: Where is the master, boatswain?
Tempest 1.1

Fun puzzle...did not know kepi but de Gaulle is always pictured wearing one, so more than fair.

Van55 9:36 AM  

Remarkably good , this one.

My only whines are ATIT, ASIN, RAH and IOLA, but there's nothing inherently lazy about them.

Bravo Mr. Stewart!

the redanman 9:47 AM  

From a relative tenderfoot solver's perspective:

Indeed RED imbedded as a theme is simple, but it sped the solve for me and understanding the construction as Rex pointed out I guess that's pretty notable. I thought it an enjoyable medium-ish Tuesday

KEPI, DUMA, OCHS new crosswordese to me, needed cross to be sure TAO was right.

SKID gave me pause, thought it a good use

ITCH peculiar cluing (as well done as some of these tangential clues can be) but still easy with a cross

AFLOAT was a nice use/clue

ELIDED (var.) one of my most favorite words

ATIT and ROT for baloney seemed weakest to me today.

Trying to apply myself and learn something daily.

Greg Clinton 9:51 AM  

A word ending in NKHS?! I must be hallucinating.

Elaine 9:51 AM  

@Artlvr
It was the LA Times puzzle. You can get it @cruciverb.com

dk 9:53 AM  

The theme and most of the fill, ELIDED was the exception, flowed into the grid. The result was a very fast Tuesday for me (under 5). My only grumble was teacher's edition is how I know 57A.

Rex, Great write up.

Merl, happy birthday, my turn for 60 is in July.

Where did I put that ANKH and my Phil OCHS album (mono of course)? My lottery number: 15.

Fine Tuesday

*** (3 Stars)

lit.doc 9:58 AM  

Yes, perfect Tuesday, especially since I'm still licking my wounds from late last week puzz's.

Also slammed SNEER at 1A, but quickly fixed. 25A gave up the theme immediately, and, while nothing even vaguely aha'ish about RED as such, the cross-hatched grid arrangement is clever.

"I'm so glad no one was watching" moment of the day was 63A "Pigskin supports" where I slammed LEGS (seriously) and got a couple of answers down the road before my "Goodness, isn't that double E in TEES a common and useful fill!" synapse fired. Geez.

@anon 8:15, Shakespeare's sprite is named Ariel-with-an-E. 28D was ARIAL sans serif.

OneYearYoungEnough 10:02 AM  

@DK - 15? That sucked! No one not of that age can imagine the horror of sitting around watching that TV show.

Greg Clinton 10:05 AM  

@lit.doc
Yay! You're clickable.

OldCarFudd 10:31 AM  

Very pleasant, well-constructed Tuesday puzzle.

I've never heard of arial as a typeface, nor as anything else with that spelling. Live and learn!

Re Allah - There's a short article in the NYT today that the Malaysian government is protesting a court ruling that non-Muslims can refer to God as Allah. The government is unimpressed by the fact that the Arabic word, used by Arabic-speaking Christians, predates Islam.

retired_chemist 10:33 AM  

Nice, easy-medium Tuesday. Started with SCOFF (b/c IMO it fit the clue better than SNEER), filled in the next 4 acrosses in order, which meant I never had SILL to deal with. DIET -> DUMA and CLUTCH -> CLENCH, were my only writeovers of note. Put OSAGE @ 65A expecting it wouldn't hold up, but it did.

Did NOT do "SEE RED" until late in the game. Had I done so I would have got the theme answers faster. As it was it only helped me with a couple.

Liked SWEDE, CROCI, ALLAH, ELIDED.

Expect the blog to have its own momentum today. The puzzle, requiring as it does a straightforward, workmanlike job to solve, doesn't seem to provide a lot to get worked up over.

Crosscan 10:37 AM  

I remember the first time I saw a TEACHER'S EDITION. It was a great shock, as I thought teachers just knew all the answers.

I also thought my father knew everything in the world, as he gave great detailed answers to any question I had. When I grew up, I realized he just made up anything he didn't know. Wonder if that works on the Google generation.

darkman 10:39 AM  

Easyish, funnish puzzle. No ohms.

I was a draft dodger (snagged a 4-F). I was against the war, but mostly I was for my own skin. Also, at the age of ten two bolts of historical lightning struck me. One was that the USSR and US acted very much alike in world affairs, because they were both large powers (patriotism? poof!). The other was that the only thing changed by the Russian revolution was the stationery in the Kremlin (communist sympathies? bye!).

Older, sadder (wiser? hah!), I see that war is the most futile and apparently most permanent feature of expression of large-scale frustration, anger and fear of loss of prestige.

David 10:44 AM  

@Rex, good write up, and special thanks for the reference in your closing paragraph, to Merles' generosity.

PlantieBea 10:52 AM  

Nice Tuesday Mr. Stewart! I fell into the common traps: SNEER for SCOFF, and PRIZE for SWEDE (d'oh!). I also entered TETE for KEPI on the first pass.

A local grove owner once showed us that the Navel Orange has two fruits in one peel. Hope all the local fruit and trees survived last night's freeze.

Off to check out the Merl links. Thanks for providing, Rex.

Two Ponies 10:56 AM  

Fun and easy puzzle with just enough odd fill to make me hesitate. A good thing for my solving.
There is a darkish side to this one however. Besides see red and the afore mentioned devil and evil we have the foe, feud, and at it trio.
@ darkman, did all of this evil and violence set your mood before you commented?
I'm sure croci, like cacti, is correct but would sound sort of snooty to say.
I agree with Rex that ankh needs a new clue. The hippies only adopted the thing to confure our parents and flaunt the phallic symbol. Isn't it Egyptian? Let's see it clued that way perhaps.
Luckily all of the small bits I didn't know were gotten via the crosses so perfect for a Tuesday.

Ulrich 10:58 AM  

@Rex: sometimes you DO think like an architect--your recognition of a puzzle's "bolts" attests to that. By extension, I really liked the puzzle.

@the redanman: There are competing definitions for "crosswordese" out there, but I'm sure "words unknown to me" is not one of them.

CoolPapaD 10:58 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle - fresh fill, mostly. Does anyone know if KEPI has any relationship to the Yiddish word for head (Keppe, Keppellah)? I'd never heard of the hat, but after getting it from the crosses, I was curious if they derive from similar roots. Todah rabah in advance!

fikink 10:59 AM  

Love that TREVOR played a character named "Gaye Dawn" - sheesh!
Agree with you on the worn out "Hippie" reference to the ANKH, Rex. Can we not talk Egypt and history?
Phil OCHS, on the other hand, cannot be too often mentioned for my taste, for he was unfortunately eclipsed by Dylan for too much of his short songwriting career. "Cops of the World" and "Is There Anybody Here" were two of his finest!

@dk, you and I were meant for each other. Dowse your torch for Andrea and bring your Cheerios down here.

PlantieBea 11:01 AM  

What a wonderful, touching story! Thanks again Rex for posting the link.

Happy Birthday Merle Reagle!

darkman 11:20 AM  

Two Ponies: Naw. It was Phil Ochs and then the urge to say something meaningful. Besides, my monicker is darkman!

retired_chemist 11:35 AM  

@CoolPapaD - I am sure KEPI must relate to the Yiddish you mention, as well as to the German Kopf, the Latin caput (cf., e.g., capital punishment), etc. Presumably Latin started it off....

retired_chemist 11:37 AM  

D'oh! And the English "cap".....

Stan 11:37 AM  

Agree with @Elaine that the only thing wrong with this puzzle is a lack of turnips in the SWEDE clue.

Happy Birthday Merl! (and thanks for a cool tribute puzzle from Andrea and Michael). The "Unkind Donuts" line in Wordplay is something we still quote.

the redanman 11:38 AM  

@Ulrich

I wore my KEPI today to work at the DUMA and found to my surprise it was now defunct! All this while listening to the OCHS protest(?) song and experienceing newfound (croswordese) knowledge!

aka POWER!

all this with a draft number of 43

LOL

mac 11:41 AM  

Very nice puzzle, excellent Tuesday, with only "sneer" written over... Really consistent with all the theme answers in plural. Thought of sill as well, but waited for the crosses.

I used "Arial" bold just this morning on the Super Bowl party invitations!

Happy Birthday Merle! Nice puzzle in your honor! Thanks Rex and (navel) Orange to pass it on to us.

@Greg Clinton: you are so right about the -nkhs! LOL.

@Bob Kerfuffle: 7-8 minutes is not bad at all at the tournament for that level puzzle! You will not be the last one to finish. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Ulrich 11:53 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 11:56 AM  

I'm pretty sure that Claire Trevor also starred in "Stagecoach" opposite of John Wayne. Great character actress.
3dogmom

Ulrich 12:00 PM  

@the redanman: I don't blame you--those kepis are sooo fetching...

...particularly if there is a piece of cloth attached at the back to prevent the sun from burning the wearer's neck. I remember Gary Cooper wearing one of those when he played a legionaire of the Foreign Legion--Marlene Dietrich was so smitten that she crawled after him through the Sahara in the final shot...

Noam D. Elkies 12:16 PM  

Quite the pleasant Tuesday, after recovering from the same wrong turn in the NW. Note that while the halves of the theme-revealing 25A/46A:SEE/RED are indeed some distance apart, they are symmetrically placed, as are the six theme entries. In the present economic climate one might also "see red" if one is not "financially solvent" (the clue for 48A:AFLOAT — if you're not afloat in this sense then you're drowning in a sea of red ink). Ulrich gets a bonus theme answer in 58D:ROT.

Interesting question about képi, cap, Kopf, etc.; m-w.com says képi and cap are both cognate with Latin "cappa" (head covering, cloak), but does not explicitly say it's also related with "caput" (head). "Shako" is also French, strange as it seems with the SH and K spelling, and originally Hungarian "csákó".

xwordinfo.com remembers almost 100 occurrences of 48D:ATIT, but none along the lines of "a tat's counterpart". (Yes, an implicit partial, but so are many of the clues for "at it".) Nice to link it with another grid entry; I also like Barry Silk's recent Friday definition "in a row".

NDE

Shamik 12:27 PM  

@Two Ponies: I say CROCI, ergo I must be snooty. (See! See! See! I even said ergo. LOL)

Teacher! Teacher! I have a new excuse for a slower time solving on AcrossLite...my hands are cold and don't type as fast!

Happy Birthday Merl Reagle and thank you for all your contributions to our subculture.

And thanks Rex and Orange on sharing the story about Clara.

PIX 12:37 PM  

From the official Iola website: "After much discussion, it was decided that the new town would be called "Iola", in tribute to Iola Colborn--the daughter of Mr. J.F. Colborn who had built the first frame-style home in the area." Turns out they didn't make up the name just so it would be helpful for puzzle constructors.

foodie 1:00 PM  

I wonder where "Praise Allah" comes from. I never heard it in Arabic. People do say, sometimes devoutly and sometimes when they're annoyed: "There's but one God (Allah), and Mohamed is His Messenger". And sometimes people link the name of Allah with good adjectives-- e.g. God is Generous... but the phrase "Praise Allah" seems to me to be a Western thing.

I agree Rex that the construction of this puzzle is impressive.

I had the identical solving experience described by Rex, but in slo mo.

Karen from the Cape 1:12 PM  

Re losing time on wrong answers, I'm trying to remember that at the ACPT a 5:01 time and a 5:59 time are the same score, and that I should look over my answers for twenty to thirty seconds for accuracy. It's still hard to do.

retired_chemist 1:29 PM  

@ NDE - the Apple dashboard dictionary (not necessarily an etymological edifice) says cappa perhaps is connected to caput. Myself, I'd guess it is.

Shamik 1:47 PM  

I'm registered for the ACPT and our flights are booked. Who else is in?

bluebell 2:00 PM  

By the time I get around to this blog, it's all been said. I do see some whiteout on my puzzle--couldn't remember how to spell ankh, for example. But it was a good morning--I waited for crosses in places where there were choices. Except the "Nobel or Celsius" clue where I confidently wrote in scale. Didn't know any Nobel scale, but since there's a lot I don't know about science, thought it might work.

Thanks everyone for illumination as usual.

Anonymous 2:18 PM  

@foodie

I think the phrase is an approximate translation of a common phrase similar in usage to the Hebrew phrase as cited below.

alleluyah Hebrew "Paise to G-d" (Yaweh)
Alhamdulillah "Praise to G-d" (Allah)
الحمد لله

/mee

tptsteve 2:36 PM  

@CoolPapa D and @Retired_Chemist-

Late Latin used cappa to mean a cloak or head covering, and kepi is derived from that.

Bevakasha

Ulrich 3:04 PM  

@NDE: Ah, yes. Thx: I never saw the clue/answer. But even then, I may not have made the connection b/c the pronunciations are so different: short vs. long "o".

mac 3:21 PM  

@Shamik: could you register online? I can't get the form up, even called and they are working on it.

JannieB 3:23 PM  

I agree - ankhs are not just for hippies and need a new clue. I have one that was my mother's - it has a scarab beetle in the loop. I was told the ankh means "long life" and the scarab "good luck". (In an odd twist, she was wearing it when she died. Believe what you will.)

Given the remarkable combination of letters, I'm sure the ankh will remain an xword staple so hand up for a new clue!

Rest of the puzzle was well above average for a Tuesday. Enjoyable!

sanfranman59 3:30 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 9:20, 8:46, 1.06, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:37, 4:29, 1.03, 66%, Medium-Challenging

My own solve time today placed this puzzle toward the challenging end of the Tuesday Medium-Challenging spectrum. While I was solving it, it felt more difficult than the average Tuesday puzzle and so far, the online solve times seem to bear that out.

@Elaine: In case you're interested, football place kickers use tees for kick-offs at the beginning of each half and after a touchdown or a field goal.

Sfingi 3:34 PM  

Wanted "cash" for VISA, "sill" for SASH, "dupa" (ha-ha) for DUMA.
Did not know: IOLA, KEPI.
Does football use TEEs, too, or am I way off?

@Bluebell - I know I never know how to spell ANKH, so I step carefully, writing AN and waiting.

Phil OCHS, a protest songster, was bi-polar and hanged himself in 1976. He declared the (Vietnam) war was over to the delight of many. He was important back in the day. You had to be there. I was in one dangerous march in '64. Never again.

Whenever I see a word that is recognizable in both Germanic and Romantic languages, such as Kopf, capo, capelli, etc - I figure it must be from Indo-Aryan/Sanskrit. Can't prove it. BTW, German doesn't come from Latin, but both familes point to Sanskrit.

@Felix - nice list.

@Crosscan - til I was 4, I thought all adults could read my mind. Then I met some really dumb adults.

The mini-theme, the Hatfied-McCoy feud was cute, too.

Meg 3:39 PM  

@Crosscan: I'm an ESL teacher and I make up stuff all the time. The students can't tell. The phrase really is TEACHER'S EDITION, not TEACHER EDITION, and quite a few of them have mistakes. But I digress....

Nice puzzle. Not too easy. With no letters I spent a few minutes trying to find a similarity between the Nobel prize and the Celsius scale. So that's my vote for best clue!

Thanks Rex, for the write-up. I'm off to do Michael and Carla's puzzle.

Steve J 3:55 PM  

Another cool thing with the construction: in the iPhone NYT puzzle app, related answers are highlighted when you're on a clue that references them. So when I came across the theme clue, seemingly half the puzzle lit up. The symmetry immediately jumped out. Quite impressive.

This took me longer than it should have, due to two mistakes. One was somewhat understandable: I had GALA instead of FETE for the longest time. The other was somewhat stupid: I misspelled FEUD (had the U and E transposed). Both made the center and SW tough for a while.

I did not get tripped up by the SNEER/SCOFF trickery that caught so many. I've seen so many clues of late in the general theme of looking down at something, with answers all over the place (sneer, scoff, snort, more I'm forgetting). In fact, there seems to be a lot of this clue/answer lately. Does this mean the NYT is presuming a certain snobbishness amongst its puzzle solvers?

Steve J 4:01 PM  

BTW, Rex, I love the inclusion of the Split Enz clip. They're my favorite Kiwi band ever. Primarily because I can't think of any other New Zealand bands, but they were quite good at producing nice, poppy New Wave (which shouldn't surprise anyone who also enjoyed the later Crowded House, also featuring one of the brothers Finn - who really should shoe up in a crossword one of these days).

Elaine 4:09 PM  

@SanfranMan
Thanks. Next time I have to watch football, I will casually mention the TEES and watch for shock and awe on the faces of my hubby and daughter (who once owned electric socks to keep warm at the games. I swear.)

@foodie
For a change of pace, I recommend my favorite saying, useful after serious disappointments and things breaking down (or not getting the card I needed to draw): "There IS NO GOD, and Mohammed is his Prophet."

Irreverently yours, (three and out)
Elaine

edith b 4:13 PM  

I, too, had SCALE at 25D which, unfortunately, was confirmed by both CAGILY at 34A (wrong) and ELLS at 43A (right.

This was the only problem I had with this one but what a problem! I had to strip out the whole West Coast to finally get a grip. Luckily, I use Across Lite so the problem turned out to be minor and since I pay little attention to time, it was no problem at all, just a headache.

My Father's mechanic used to tell him when he complained of car noises that it wasn't the car but the nut behind the wheel that caused the trouble.

So true today.

Ulrich 4:15 PM  

@foodie: here's my favorite story involving invocations of Allah. During my last visit to Turkey, I rented a car and could not believe the behavior of Turkish drivers. I told a Turkish friend that traffic signs do not produce the slightest change in driver behavior--they pass before hills or curves, run stop lights etc with abandon. He said, "It's the Inshallah" ("if it pleases Allah?) style of driving": whenever you put yourself, your companions, or other people on the street in mortal danger, you utter a brief "inshallah".

On a less humorous note: My wife makes a living writing textbooks, and tells me that teachers using her books report with greater frequency that students in their class have the teacher's edition of the book (which contains the answers to all exercises). Where did they get it? From the web, where unconscientious teachers who have used the book in the past sell their edition to make a fast buck.

fikink 4:21 PM  

@Elaine, apropos your irreverence, I am reminded that in the throes of "moderism," Fire Sign Theater always said "grid-willing" for "god-willing."

We use the expression to this very day.

Two Ponies 4:38 PM  

@ fikink and Elaine,
I love the irreverence.
I also still quote FST.
Just popped back in to say thanks to Andrea and Michael for the birthday puzzle. Or should I say Zenith and Michael? :)

mac 4:42 PM  

@Two Ponies: that is Andrea Zenith Michaels to us!;-)

I just signed up for the Brooklyn tournament. Anybody else? (I know about Shamik and Mr. Kerfuffle).

andredcarla michaels 5:09 PM  

You know what else is cool about the construction? ALL six theme entries end in S.
(Normally an icky, but between the consistency and the fact that it made two of the six answers 15 letters is worthwhile to note)

So Praise be CW!

BTW, CW is a woman (thank you, JimH and Orange for confirming that) so one shouldn't so readily thank MR. Post (unless they are referring to Wilbur).

Who knows? Maybe this is a week of all women constructors? :)

And I love how Rex put the theme answers in RED! Wouldn't that have been cool if the NY Times could have done that?
Perhaps in the near future, there will be an app for that. We don 3D glasses, like for "Avatar", and as we do the puzzle, the theme answers jump out in 3D!
No more dread circles!!!!!!!!

Re: Merl tribute:
Michael Blake and I used circles bec a) the puzzle was a Tuesday and b) we wanted to emphasize that our beloved Merl doesn't need no stinkin' final E.

We definitely didn't want to try and out-Merl Merl, so we made a puzzle in our own style...I would have been nice to secretly get every constructor to make a puzzle for him in his/HER own style, but it would be tough to keep it a secret from Merl and I found out about his bday only 2 days ago...

When we were throwing around ideas (by the way, special nod to Will who brainstormed with me about a MERL puzzle and found 3 of the four phrases we eventually used) I thought it would be funny to have Merle Haggard and Merle Oberlin in the puzzle, but was wisely vetoed by Michael.
IF only we could have figured out how to have that ANKH-like Prince sign in our 55A clue, I could die a happy woman.
(And not at twenty paces with @fikink!)

@fikink
I will not engage in a catfight over @dk!

a)um, he already has a lovely young wife
b) I'd lose
c) I think he has his eye on Elaine
;)

PhillySolver 5:13 PM  

@mac

I will see you at the ACPT in Brooklyn and hope to continue to meet more of the fine people who post here. The environment is fabulous for solvers and the value is much more in the people and the quality puzzles than in the competition.

Crosscan 5:35 PM  

@mac - Fly across the continent in the dead of winter and endure all the restrictions on flying into the US, right in the middle of the Olympics being held in BC, for a crossword puzzle tournament?!!?

Wouldn't miss it.

coyote 5:54 PM  

Yes, "I am woman hear me roar" as Helen Reddy sang. Thanks Andrea for mentioning that. Just signed up for the tournament as a rookie. Hope to see a lot of you there since I have never met anyone on this blog or in the crossword world.

CW Stewart (Carolyn)

mac 6:00 PM  

@coyote: great! We'll let you know about the passwords and special handshakes and carnations in buttonholes etc. Basically we meet in the bar. It is so much fun, and I don't even remember my standing. Couldn't care less. Probably would care if I were in the top 5%....

PhillySolver 6:00 PM  

@coyote I look forward to meeting you CW. I will introduce you to as many of your fellow bloggers as you wish and offer the same to anyone else who makes it to Brooklyn this year.

Glitch 6:07 PM  

@Ulrich

In the early 1970's one of my friends worked for the military flight simulator division of GE.

He was assigned to Saudi Arabia.

It seems that the pilot trainees were incorporating your cited "It's the Inshallah" philosophy into their training.

The Saudi government commissioned a "crash" [pun intended] program to move initial pilot training to simulators to cut down on the loss of actual aircraft.

..../Glitch

HudsonHawk 6:09 PM  

Thanks for stopping by CW--great puzzle. I look forward to meeting you in Brooklyn.

As Steve J said, great Split Enz clip, Rex. The Finn boys were barely recognizable.

Meg 6:11 PM  

I have lots of Saudis as students. When asked if they will pass the class, "Inshallah" is a fairly standard response. So now, when they ask me if they will pass, I say "Inshallah". Gets a smile every time.

Greg Clinton 6:30 PM  

Wife always says, "Si Dios quiere". My response to her is usually, "Oh, don't drag Dios into this."

Stan 7:10 PM  

@Steve J: If you get a chance you may want to check out some other NZ bands like the Clean and the Chills. Generally poppy, fresh, and uncommercial, they're still a big influence on indie musicians.

PlantieBea 7:32 PM  

I am guilty. So sorry MS. Carolyn Stewart! It was a fine puzzle. Thanks again!

ArtLvr 7:36 PM  

@ Elaine, if still lurking -- Thanks for pointing out the LAT with lemon! I'd done it much earlier and plain forgot...

@ sfingi -- Interesting about the dangerous march in which you took part in '64... I took a busload of high school students from New Haven down to DC for an early civil rights march, '60 or '61, and it was a small enough group that we were able to talk with Thurgood Marshall and others -- quite memorable and no problems. However, I'm not sure if the kids were there more for the movement or for the opportunity to pair off in the dark bus on the way back!

∑;)

foodie 8:11 PM  

@anonymous 2:18/mee: oooh, how did you do that? Get the Arabic script in? I'm impressed!

What you wrote- Al-Hamduh Lillah means literally "Thanks to Allah"... I never thought of it as "Praise Allah", but of course, it is! It is said a great deal (as the clue indicates), sometimes automatically at the end of a meal, to indicate that one is full...

So, thank you! Now I get it! This is such an amazing group of people!

@ Elaine, yeah, I know the feeling...

@Ulrich, they must drive the same way throughout the Middle East! The first time my husband went for a visit, he was petrified. He said the whole thing was like a huge game of chicken: you drive down the highway right in the middle, facing oncoming traffic and see who's the real tough guy and who chickens out first... or who's got Allah on his side.

Elaine 8:24 PM  

@foodie@ulrich

Try Arkansas after 1/2" of snow (yes, I said ONE HALF INCH.) Every village idiot is out showing his or her prowess.... The tow services love it!

Um, Andrea? about the dk remark? (cough cough) Does he (do you?) realize my avatar is a self-portrait? Honest. My hair IS on fire.

Illegally Four--
elaine in arkansas

dk 8:51 PM  

@Elaine, Andrea is just trying to create a smoke screen for her shameless flirting with @Coolpapad (girls always go for the rappers... sigh). That said i love what you have done with your hair.

@fikink, why thank you very much, pass the dwarf. Once as a college dj I ran FST from midnight to 4AM, guess who listened to my show.

Phil Ochs and Richard Brautigan I miss them both.

Andrea you know you are the 1--the only 1.

We are all bozos on this bus.

janie 9:08 PM  

that "bos'n" mention brought this old spice jingle to mind...

;-)

foodie 9:29 PM  

@dk, I love what you've done with YOUR hair...

Sfingi 10:42 PM  

@Elaine - similar for lapsed Roman Catholics - There is no God, and Mary is His Mother.

@DK - My son and I loved Richard Brautigan. When he did himself in, my son never mentioned him for 20 yrs. Recently, we've been discussing his use of terms like ideath, which seems very modern, now.

@Artlover - it was NYC - We started in Central Pk to march to NYU. There were so many people you couldn't get anywhere near the speakers or singers. People of Wall St. were dropping bushel bags of lye on us. I went back to the park and waited. The NYT reported it as a small march. That upset my world picture, too.

Once hubster went to DC to accompany someone to the Supreme Court. It "snowed" and they closed down the court! People were trying to shovel with spades. He pushed a few cars out and waited til the next day. Where I live, plows and mountains of salt/sand are a major part of the budget.

My first teaching job involved covering for a child molester on trial who was a Jr. High math teacher. When he was banned, he took all his teacher's manuals with him. I soon learned how to fly alone, and after a while I thought I was pretty amazing, myself. I soon also discovered that you don't need to cover anywhere near what you thought you had to.

FarSide

sanfranman59 10:44 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 6:37, 6:55, 0.96, 41%, Medium
Tue 9:31, 8:46, 1.09, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:22, 3:40, 0.92, 28%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:32, 4:29, 1.01, 59%, Medium

The most harrowing experience I've ever had in a car was a cab ride from the airport in Istanbul to our hotel. The concept of highway lanes does not exist in Turkey. It truly was a game of chicken. Sometimes we passed oncoming traffic on the right, sometimes on the left, always at a very high rate of speed. I was only slightly less shocked while I watched the cab meter run up to something like 20,000,000 lira (about $10).

mac 11:20 PM  

@all: what an amazing group....

darkman 11:57 PM  

Sfingi: I met Richard Brautigan when I was working at City Lights in San Francisco. He was quite a nice person.
We were all very sad when he died.

Steve J 1:01 AM  

@Stan: The Clean! Thank you. I was banging my head against the desk (figuratively) trying to remember them. As I was writing that post, I remembered there was another NZ band a friend had turned me onto some years back, but I just could not remember the name.

Anonymous 3:57 PM  

red rum red rum

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