Title heroine Strauss opera / TUE 3-2-10 / Brasi enforcer Godfather / Greek gathering spot / Looped handle archaeology / Goat men in Rubens painting

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: THE MONTH OF MARCH — 40A: Period described by the clues and answers to 1- and 72-Across (which are the start and end of a word ladder formed by the answers to the 10 asterisked clues) — word ladder starts with LION (1A: *"In like a ___ ...") and ends with LAMB (72A: *"... out like a ___")

Word of the Day: ARABELLA (10D: Title heroine of a Strauss opera) —

Arabella is a lyric comedy or opera in 3 acts by Richard Strauss to a German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, their sixth and last operatic collaboration. It was first performed on 1 July 1933, at the Dresden Sächsisches Staatstheater. The opera made its United States debut at the Metropolitan Opera on February 10, 1955 with Eleanor Steber in the title role. // The beautiful but proud Arabella is the daughter of the Waldner family, who face financial ruin unless Arabella marries a rich husband. Arabella hopes to marry for love, not money; but when a loving suitor unexpectedly appears, her happiness is threatened by a web of misunderstanding and deception. (wikipedia)

• • •

Got the theme very early on, but that didn't make the puzzle go much faster. The general nook-and-cranniness, and the prevalence of somewhat wonky short fill, made the grid a minor challenge to get through (for a Tuesday). Once I got LION, and saw that there was a word ladder, I knew we were going to end up at LAMB, so it was all over but the shouting, with "the shouting" being "all the fill I have to get through to get to LAMB." The demanding theme forced a lot of iffy, or at least less-than-great, fill, so I didn't have as much fun as I often have solving Liz Gorski puzzles; but I have to give the puzzle credit for trotting out some unusual and fresh fill in the middle of the four-letter avalanche. I'd never heard of ARABELLA. Loved the colloquial flair of NO PROB (4D: "Easy!") and (especially) GO-TO GUY (46A: Handy man?). That's nice. I think I initially wanted OCTOPUS for that clue. Got very annoyed at the second spelling of CAHN (33D: Songwriter Sammy), but then laughed out loud when I hit the third. Is this the first time all three (crosswordy) CAHNs (CAENs) (CAANs) have shared the same grid? Not a club meeting I'd care to attend again, but this time was fun. Also — both gifts in "Gift of the Magi"?! — FOB (9D: Della's gift in "The Gift of the Magi") / COMB (48A: *Jim's gift in "The Gift of the Magi")) See, that's a constructor (or editor) who's paying attention and adding extra 'zazz to the grid. Always good to have surprises along the way, esp. (as is the case here) when the theme is grasped early and thus holds no real surprises.

The Word Ladder:
  • LION
  • LOON
  • BOON
  • BOOB
  • BOMB
  • COMB
  • COMP
  • CAMP
  • LAMP
  • LAMB
Lots of partials and junk like 22A: Greek gathering spot (STOA) and 50A: Looped handle in archaeology (ANSA) kept me from loving this one, but I admire the construction and definitely experienced some entertaining surprises along the way. Interesting to see a bunch of "?" clues on a Tuesday. 36D: Provider of a dead giveaway? (TESTAMENT); 53D: Great shakes (SEISM); 26D: Grace period? (AMEN); 28D: Steering committee? (HELMSMEN); 11D: Mint green? (US DOLLARS); 6D: Going places? (LOOS); and of course the aforementioned 46A: Handy man? (GO-TO GUY). These also add interest to a puzzle that could easily have been a rather rote exercise in filling in squares.

[I went looking for "Handy Man," but this seems more appropriate somehow...]

  • 20A: Choreographer Twyla (THARP) — she's written some pretty interesting books on creativity. She also went to my alma mater for a while. Also, her last name is just one letter off from my (real) last name. Somehow this stirs affection in me. Maybe that's why I married a woman with the last name of HARPer... curious.
  • 9A: Goat-men in a Rubens painting (FAUNS) — don't know the painting. Would have pieced it together from [Goat-men], I think. Might have gone with [Mr. Tumnus et al] for my clue, but that might have been a little ... too.
  • 57A: ___ Brasi, enforcer in "The Godfather" (LUCA) — Garroted (spoiler alert!).
  • 3D: Ingredient in some potato chips (OLEAN) — Aargh. I went with the (much more appetizing) answer of ONION.
  • 41D: Sweet, gooey sandwiches (MOON PIES) — Mmm, no OLEAN here.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Deb Amlen 8:02 AM  

You know what? I gave the crosswordese a pass on this one merely because I thought all of the other fun stuff more than made up for it. I like a clean grid more than just about anyone, but the combo of the word ladder, the March thing and the cluing just wowed me. Nice job, Liz!

Always nice to see THARP in the grid because my sister used to be a dancer in NYC and danced some of her choreography. And who can resist a good MOONPIE, although I prefer potato chips. Just don't remind me about the OLEAN. Bleh.

chefbea 8:08 AM  

Was awake really early and printed out the puzzle. Had it done by 5:00 am. Took no time at all

Don't think I have ever had a moon pie.

Almost through packing!!!

ArtLvr 8:12 AM  

I thought this one was Monday easy, and should have appeared yesterday on the first of March!

It was fun though, with the highlights Rex noted, plus more animals like the two-L LLAMA and the STAG, and Kooky clues for LOON, BATTY & BOOB.

@ chefbea --I don't think I've ever encountered a MOONPIE either, but guess I'd heard of one.


Miss Manners 8:16 AM  

Now, Now. I feel certain that the only reason you married Ms. Harper was to fulfill the promise of a deep, abiding, and passionate love. The alphabet had nothing to do with it. Certainly.

DB Geezer 8:30 AM  

ANSA is also medicalese for a loop, as in ansa hypoglossi.

fun puzzle. I got LION and LAMB right off the bat and the month of narch then answered itself. Only when finished did I gradually discover the purpose of the asterisked clues as being a word ladder.

dk 8:36 AM  

Former associate had MOONPIES and RC Cola for elevenses.

13D should be ACME.

My vote: A sweet and gooey Tuesday.

** (2 Stars)

joho 8:36 AM  

I always think that Elizabeth Gorski goes into some kind of zen state when she creates her incredible tightly constructed, multi-level puzzles.

@Rex mentioned CAHN, CAAN, CAEN and FOB, COMB ... so much fun. A lovely way to bring in THEMONTHOF MARCH so I agree with @ArtLvr that this should have run yesterday.

Thank you Ms. Gorski! You never disappoint.

And thank you, @Rex, for the fantastic arrangement created by Yo Yo Ma and James Taylor.

retired_chemist 8:46 AM  

Hans up for liking it and for making next to no use of the word ladder in solving.

Did anyone else notice that the ladder answers were at symmetrical locations, i.e. rotating the puzzle 180 degrees places LION on LAMB, LOON on LAMP, etc.? Very elegant! WOW!

My hat is off to Ms. Gorski.

fikink 8:54 AM  

Ditto @retired_chemist's characterization of Liz's construction as "elegant"!!

Kurt 9:08 AM  

Loved the MOON PIES answer. It brought back memories. I think you had to live in the South (I was in Atlanta). But if you did, moon pies were one of the major food groups!

Great puzzle and great commentary. Thanks Liz Gorski and Rex Parker.

Parshutr 9:09 AM  

Nothing, but nothing, kept me from absolutely LOVING THIS PUZZLE.
She had me at AMEN! I did get LOOS correctly but didn't get the meaning until keying in this comment.
In my addled brain, this one is PERFECT!

Ulrich 9:26 AM  

Here's a shortest possible word ladder to get from LION to LAMB:


(shortest possible b/c you need one step for each letter that has to be changed).

I'm not saying this to criticize EG--I'm one of her fans, but to point out that she takes us from A to B not by the shortest, but by the scenic route, and I had fun all the way--got the theme from 40A, i.e. half-way through, and then leaned back to enjoy the ride.

Van55 9:27 AM  

NOTSO, ONNO, NOTO, OHNO, NOPROB. I wasn't sure whether to be delighted or indignant with this fill. I have decided to be delighted with it. The theme and the word ladder fully justify it in my opinion.

Fun Tuesday!

Van55 9:28 AM  

Perhaps I should have included ANOS. :-)

mitchs 9:29 AM  

My first thought when I saw the Ms. Gorski's name was to look for a design in the grid...lion or lamb or some such. If it's there I'm missing it.

Plenty of fun clues and entries to make up for some forced fill.

For me, more medium than challenging for a Tuesday.

Stan 9:33 AM  

Another impressive construction from the great formalist of puzzles. For this I'll put up with some partials and crosswordese.

Dough 9:34 AM  

In the Concert of CAHN, CAEN, and CAAN, where were KAHN (Gus or Louis), Cannes (pronounced the snobbish way), and Aga? There's the makings of a truly tedious puzzle! I thought this was a dandy Tuesday packed with lots of goodies. Loved GO-TO-GUY and NO PROB, as well. The first two words I put in were LION and LAMB and kind of solved the chain and the puzzle back and forth. Enjoyed that (and the sunny day). Off to feed the chickens.

JenCT 9:39 AM  

@chefbea and ArtLvr: I think you both need to try a MOONPIE, just once.

Enjoyed the puzzle; had ANON instead of SNOB, for some reason. Loved LOOS.

My captcha is "hyper" - too much coffee??

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

Thanks for James, Yo Yo and the sun...

Frances 9:43 AM  

I loved HELMSMEN as a "steering committee" and TESTAMENT as "provider of a dead giveaway." The clues apply exactly and precisely to the answers, yet the answers themselves are completely unexpected. Bravo, Ms Gorski!

lit.doc 9:53 AM  

What a wonderful Tuesday puzzle! Friendly easy, but not tooo easy. Made more demanding than I think a Monday ought to be by the frequency of standard crosswordese fill (e.g. ALB, ANSA, TSO, and STOA) and the number of names (I counted ten including CAEN, which was new to me).

A word ladder was one of the first theme devices I came across this past year that I thought was extremely cool. First time, I just about melted my brain trying to find some coded pattern in the changing of the letters which wasn’t, of course, there.

Today, I read 1A’s clue, keyed in LION, keyed in LAMB, and then read the clue for 72A. Then I just went down the list, filling in the *’d clues, noting the theme-reveal at 40A, and the rest was relaxed fun doing the fill. Done in 12:56, which is a reasonable Wednesday time for me (factoring in a few pints of Guinness).

Sharing today’s Best of Show prize were “Provider of a dead giveaway?” and “Mint green”. Wish once again for full clue-authorship disclosure so I’d know who to applaud. And in other late breaking clue news, trolleys go “clang, clang, clang” (unless they were just making things up in Meet Me in St. Louis).

@Elizabeth C. Gorski, good heavens, woman! I would have expected an answer like MOONPIE in a BEQ puzzle, not in the NYT! ;)

Elaine 9:55 AM  

Except for writing BARMY before BATTY, I went through this without hesitation and rate it Easy...which did not take anything away from the fun.

LION and LAMB went in at once. I bypassed the long clue until I got to that section of the puzzle...and it was okay with me for Ms. Gorski to take the long way 'round. Also fun: all of the [dud] and [doofus] clues as separate, decorative threads.

A fun Tuesday...but what is 'vampunc?' The act of 'staking' or puncturing the vampire? I didn't know there was a word for that...

jesser 9:58 AM  

No time to ramble.
Especially 32D and 41D. Memories galore!


Elaine 10:01 AM  

I noticed the [trolley warning], too! I already had the T in place, so considered TING...anything but the anachronistic TOOT! Would have preferred [Go on a _...or Have too many Guinesses...]

Also forgot to mention that, despite Atlanta origins, I've never had a MOONPIE, but since I am a salt-aholic, probably would have passed that up.

See you all tomorrow.

joho 10:11 AM  

Oh, another connection, the TOOT from the Trolley goes with Herb CAEN. (By the way, I believe it's pronounced like cane.)

Elia Saki 10:13 AM  

Your real name is not Rex Parker? What are you going to tell us next? That that is not your picture?

PlantieBea 10:15 AM  

Brava Liz Gorski! I really liked this Tuesday, although I too could imagine a flip/flop of this with Monday's offering. Favorite answer--Brasil--for the random reason that it looks like BASIL, my favorite fresh herb. Also like SHELLAC.

addie loggins 10:15 AM  

I finished this one faster than I expected, since I usually suck at word ladders. (funny story: I had never heard of a "word ladder" when I attended the ACPT for the first time, and one of the Friday game night puzzles was one, and I had NO idea what it was.)

Fun puzzle,and I agree with Rex that small bit of icky fill can be excused by the cool theme -- there was a lot going on in this one. It was probably deemed a bit too hard for a Monday, which is too bad (would have made sense yesterday).

A fun one. And a fun write up.

matt 10:17 AM  

I actually found this pretty tough, but mainly because I put in "good guy" for GOTOGUY, which led me to "mud(d)pies" which completely destroyed my southwest.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:20 AM  

Bit surprised no one mentioned SHEL stacked on top of SHELLAC, not that I know what to make of it.

Also has reservations about the trolley warning with a TOOT -- any references there?

But a very intricately interwoven puzzle as noted by many; maxprops to Liz G.

I managed to mistakenly put SOLO in before STAG, just not paying attention!

chefbea 10:31 AM  

@jenct - are there moon pies in Ct??? or do I wait to get to NC?

deerfencer 10:41 AM  

Pure delight. Liz Gorski is hands down one of the most creative cluers out there. Fabulous fun!

ChemGiant 10:45 AM  

Do they even use OLEAN any more? It gives so many diarrhea.

hazel 10:48 AM  

Agree on the elegant construction and the fact that it was a fun fun puzzle to boot. I like ladders, maybe because I'm almost through painting our shed, and they will soon be out of my life - as will (knock wood) this lion of a winter.

Moonpies rock!! And @chefbea, don't know if you can find them in Ct, but you can buy them on the internet by the box, the case, or in bulk! 226 calories of pure deliciousness.

the redanman 10:49 AM  

Did the word ladder first, filled in THEMONTHOFMARCH and still did not really care for the fill.

Construction feat? Yes, merely OK puzzle, Shouyld have flip-flopped with yesterday's BEQ puzzle as this was Monday easy and yesterday was Wednesday medium.

What do I know?

americanfolk 11:02 AM  

accidentally put in ANON for {Name-dropper, perhaps} until the rest corrected that mistake. But I have to agree with the reservations about {Trolley warning}. I think Frank Sinatra would agree as well.

Two Ponies 11:17 AM  

When I looked back at the word ladder I was very impressed that it was a 10-step ladder! To tie it altogether with the long Across is pretty amazing. Very nicely done.
Crosswordese might make me groan at times but I know that often those are the answers that give me traction or reassurance in tougher puzzles. It's all just part of the game.
Seism was the word that gave me pause. I was expecting spasm.
I am disappointed that BEQ never appeared yesterday to give us his side of the backstory.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:28 AM  

@Two Ponies - BEQ didn't have much to say about the puzzle, apparently, but his web site should be a regular bookmark on your computer.

mexgirl 11:32 AM  

How can anybody go wrong with Here Comes the Sun?
Thanks Mr Sharp!

Charles Bogle 11:39 AM  

Totally agree wq likes of @debamien, @retired_chemist, @parshutr---a lot of cleverness, terrific mix of theme/ladder/sub-themes like how-many-words mean DUD, mostly lively fill---all made for a tasty Tuesday and great start to the week following BEQ yesterday. Almost had a personal Natick w NAVES and SEISM--had to google for NAVES (another sub-theme-religion) and take SEISM on faith. @elaine: I didn't see a vampire-like word? @chefbea: am in CT--no moonpies here. IMO the one thing keeping this puzzle from being bronzed are the excessive partials...but Ms. Gorski, keep terrific ones like this coming-thanks!

Parshutr 11:56 AM  

My first wife, from Alabama, provided the answer to "What goes with a Moom-pie" (that's how they say it).
A grape drank.

Clark 12:04 PM  

This one went down nice and smooth. Not knowing how to spell Herb the columnist guys last name (CAHN? CAAN? CAEN?), I was grateful to Ms Gorski for putting the two alternate spellings of CAEN in the grid and settling the matter.

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

crossing LUCA with CAAN made my day.

edith b 12:33 PM  

@Stan called Ms Gorski a great formalist and I agree. Layer after layer of complexity and Anon 12:07 mentioned another layer: LUCA crossing CAAN. I've come to expect this kind of thing from Liz Gorski and wonder what else we have missed.

Great job.

John 1:08 PM  

@ChefBea, Im from NJ and we had Scooter Pies, which are pretty much the same thing.

I had trouble in the NE.
had ANON for namedropper, which didnt help at all. couldnt figure out two BOONs in the puzzle. Finally got it all fixed.

Enjoyed the puzzle.

JenCT 1:11 PM  

@Charles Bogle - I respectfully have to disagree that there aren't MoonPies in CT - although, they're hard to find. See below:

@hazel - you're right, plenty of places to buy them online, especially at moonpie(dot)com!

@chefbea - One place that I know they can be bought is at any Cracker Barrel restaurant - I believe there's one in Milford, and one in Windsor (?). Not that I'm especially recommending them, of course. :-)

mac 1:30 PM  

Elegant is the word for this Elizabeth Gorski work, but what really set it apart for me is the superior clues. Congratulations to whomever was responsible!

When I was completely done I marked the ladder words and found their placement symmetrical. What a feat!

"Anson" was unknown to me, so I stared and doublechecked the area several times.

You're going the right direction, Rex, from (S)Harp to Harper.

Sandy 1:44 PM  

Oh, I knew there was a reason we got married!

We contemplated changing both our names to Sharper.

bluebell 1:48 PM  

The Lion didn't just spring into that first spot, for me, but once a lamb gamboled onto the scene, the rest came pretty easily. I enjoyed this one a great deal--the verbal cleverness. Constructors have all my admiration.

SethG 1:48 PM  

MoonPies are sold in all 50 states. SEISMs are measured by ographs or ometers. They still use OLEAN, they just don't have to warn about it on the label anymore as the data showed "only a minor increase in digestive problems".

Brasi is near BRASIL. ANSON is a soccer coach. When UCLA won 10 basketball titles in 12 years, what's now UTEP was one of the teams that interrupted their streak.

Sandy, would your blog names have been Davenporker?

the redanman 2:05 PM  

Foodwise todat - MOONPIES and OLEAN, not! a good pair. Both worthy of the food group I once labeled - AIFS: artificial, imitation food substitutes.

Which would be the orfier? appropriate captcha, mumble mumble

Steve J 2:48 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandy 2:52 PM  

@sethg: I really really need a t-shirt with "Davenporker" on it. It'll have a picture of a pig reclining on a sofa.

Steve J 3:03 PM  

After a Monday that required some thinking, a Tuesday that does as well. I'm really liking this trend.

Much as I liked the puzzle, there was one big thing that really bugged me (and I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet): While I loved the wordplay of "Mint green?", the fact is, the US Mint does not produce paper currency (and while they do produce dollar coins, none of those are green). Paper currency is produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which is a completely separate agency. In fact, when you go to the US Mint's web site, they even note that paper currency is not part of what they do, and they point you to the BEP.

I suppose it may work in terms of "green" being slang for "money," but I've always interpreted that as slang for cash. The clue's probably not literally wrong, but it still struck me as hitting the outer ring of the target.

Aside from that, this was a lot of fun. I hope Wednesday continues to the trend of providing some meat in the first half of the week.

chefwen 3:44 PM  

I have a friend who once ate an entire large bag of OLEAN chips in one sitting, thinking what the heck, they're low in calories. Her digestive system was very unhappy for a looong time. Lesson learned.

Like the majority here, really liked the puzzle, only write over was TAILS over tuxes. Loved NO PROB!

dk 4:31 PM  

@Sandy, shall we have the shirts made up XXL :): onik

@JenCT, we used to stop at Cracker-B for Horehound drops. After we ate 2 or 3 the new plan was how to get rid the remaining 50 in the bag.

secret word: efalises-lying about yourself online

sanfranman59 4:32 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 10:10, 8:48, 1.16, 86%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:27, 4:30, 1.21, 90%, Challenging

I ate chips made with olean once and only once in my life. Anything that causes that kind of gastric unrest can't be good for you. I can't believe it's still on the market.

archaeoprof 4:43 PM  

Lots of fun today, especially for a Tuesday!

Tried "The Ides of March" for 40D, thinking it was halfway between LION and LAMB. Too clever for my own good.

@ChefBea: always, always, drink an RC Cola with a MOONPIE.

Sfingi 4:48 PM  

@Deb Amlen - I agree on giving Ms. Liz a pass on any loose fill - my pet peeve being SSN. This cw was so very clever!
@Joho - "multileveled, tightly constructed - Yes.

Besides the theme, the ladder and the aforementioned CAAN CAEN CAHN, and FOB and COMB, there was NOTSO NOTO GOTO-GUY, 2 DUDs (flop and bomb) and a DUDS, SHEL SHELLAC and LLAMA arranged in stair steps, SUIT and TAILS, ANSON ARSON ORSON.

I had a Natick at the E in UTEP crosses OLEAN, knowing neither. As a matter of fact I wanted "onion" rather than OLEAN.

Does anyone think Ms, Gorski had a hidden message in GOTO(GUY) and (S)HELL(AC) for the whiners among us? Not to mention the 6 NOs?

I've heard of MOONPIES, but I think they exist in the Deep South.
In Utica, we have our tomato pie (pizza squares with sauce only - not even cheese).

Herb CAEN - SF Chronicler and Pulitzer Prizer, coined "beatnik," his column ran for 50+ years.

Steve J - Thanx for info.

Elaine 4:53 PM  


By the time I got to 11D, I already had USD__ in place. I didn't really pause to contemplate the clue in anything but a superficial way, but of course you are correct. (However, a more accurate clue might not have been as cute...)

In 'convergence thinking,' a subject is asked to think of the response *most people* would give to a question. ("Family Feud" is built on this idea.) I gather that a lot of crossword clues are forgiven on the basis that the majority of solvers will respond with the correct answer, (or, in the case of the tricky ones, hit upon the twist of meaning or play on words.) I recently objected to the word 'wax' to clue RECORDs (or was it LPs?) Of course, I was technically correct--but nobody cared because everyone (including me) got the answer.

I'm still surprised this was 'challenging.' Maybe it's just easier to solve on paper?

'vampunc' was the captcha. 90% of them are kinda duds, but sometimes one suggests a neologism of a sort...

Re: "Gift of the Magi"...there was a dramatization of this story on 60's TV--well done-- and it inspired my sis and me. We acquired and read ALL of O.Henry's collected stories. Fascinating reading, really, and a window on past times in both Eastern cities and 'the West.'

CoolPapaD 5:37 PM  

What can I say? Mad props? This was simply an amazingly fun puzzle. That's all!

Joel 6:08 PM  

I don't know, but it seems like really sub-par fill two days in a row from great constructors. Yesterday's BEQ had a lot of ugly fill, and today's puzzle seemed unusually lackluster as well. ANSA, BADTO, ISTHE, were all ugly, while the UAL,LUCA,CAAN crossings were really frustrating because I know none of them. I normally love the puzzles from these constructors, so seeing their byline and getting mediocre to bad fill was a bummer. I guess that demanding themes require bad fill, but I'd rather my bad fill be on a Thursday with a dynamite theme. Here, the "aha" of lion to lamb wasn't enough.

JenCT 6:19 PM  

@Joel - UAL = United Air Lines
CAAN = James Caan
LUCA = ? (only got it from the crosses)

Bill from NJ 7:11 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luke 7:26 PM  

I found I did a lot of googling in this puzzle. Similarly, too many ? clues for a Tuesday. Plus I've never heard the expression about March being in like a lion out like a lamb.

I did not like this puzzle because of this .

Parshutr 7:40 PM  

@Ulrich...plenty of more common ways to do a four-step ladder, e.g.



Crosby's Still Gnashing his Young 7:48 PM  

Leave it to James Goddamn Taylor to take one of the most exquisite, sparkling, melodic pop songs ever written and turn it into a toneless, muddy mess. Does he not realize the song is called "Here Comes the SUN"? It's about the goddamn sun! Sing it like you know what you're singing, JT! And take off that stupid skullcap thing. You like this old lady who I always see in the grocery store buying Metamucil.

Zeke 8:07 PM  

@Parshutr - You're supposed to only change one letter at a time, in position. LION to BOIL doesn't work.

Sfingi 8:58 PM  

OLEAN is also a town in NY. I went to a very sad funeral 35+ years ago of a friend who died in childbirth. Her twins, a boy and a girl survived.

@Crosby whoever - he's not my fave either. I'm hungry for baritones these days.

It's hard to believe that The Godfather is almost 40 yrs. old. Luca Brasi was an apish enforcer. Brasi holds a gun to someone's head while the Godfather says, "Either your brains or your signature will be on this contract." After he is garrotted, a fish is sent to the Corleones. The consigliere says, "Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes. It's an old Sicilian message." Brasi was played by Lenny Montana, a wrestler in real life.

fvigeland 9:04 PM  

I'm going to have to agree with @Joel here… not to be a downer, but "NO TO" crossing "BAD TO," on top of ON NO, OH NO, and NO PROB was just annoying. I agree, the trio of CAHN/CAEN/CAAN was amusing, but there was also STOA, and ANSA, and SSN… I really don't think this theme was that demanding either. She could have moved the placement of the ladder words (still maintaining the symmetry) or picked different ladder words, or altered the blocks a little bit, and I'm sure the fill could have turned out a little better.

I absolutely love Liz Gorski, she might be my favorite constructor, so I just think we should hold her to that standard, not give her a pass because of it. Rex, I don't think you'd have been quite so forgiving if the constructor of last Friday's puzzle (ELKES) had written this one.

andrea toots michaels 9:05 PM  

Liz Gorski can do no wrong!

I can do some wrong...fr'instance, I didn't know how to spell SHELLAC
Who stole the K?
(and having GMCS didn't help)

I didn't even see the CAHN, CAEN, CAAN...but that fabulous Amanda Yesno(maybe)witz should write a song about it!

And I am STILL looking at SEISM, I need the -IC to make sense of that word (which is known as the ic factor, I guess)

LUCA is my favorite name, esp the kind who doesn't sleep with the fishes...

Hated 13D Name dropper = SNOB. There's name dropping and there's telling a fun story... That's precisely why I didn't name my naming company NAMEDROPPER...but I came "this" close. (Twyla THARP talked me out of it!) ;)

It ain't too late!
You could even spell yours S'Harper...like S'Wonderful, S'Marvelous, S'Harper.

FINALLY back in SF...have to say tho "DING DING DING" goes the trolley.

Ulrich 9:30 PM  

@parshutr: Your ladders don't work, as per Zeke.

But the more important point is that I very carefully said that my ladder was A [!} shortest possible ladder, not THE shortest possible ladder. To repeat: If you can change only one letter at at time, and if there are 3 letters to be changed, you cannot have fewer that 3 steps.

Anonymous 9:43 PM  

Agree with Crosby about James Taylor's lifeless, gloomy version of Here Comes The Sun. I'm a James Taylor fan--but two thumbs down for this cover....and contrary to what Dylan says..."It ain't alright Ma."

HudsonHawk 9:50 PM  

I'm a Liz Gorski fan, but I have to concur with @fvigeland. Not bad, but I didn't love it.

As @Ulrich pointed out, the ladder could have been much shorter, and I hated having __MB in place in the SE, just to give up the B and have to bring it back later.

ArtLvr 10:15 PM  

@ Ulrich -- In this case you certainly have THE shortest possible ladder! You had to have a real word on each level, and the only possible second word from LION is LIMN. Ditto, the only possible third word is LIMB, in order to get to the LAMB.

If you're blushing with modesty, that's okay -- the captcha here is "rosenit".


Stan 10:17 PM  

Yay, andrea's back! Hope your return trip was AOK.

Ulrich 10:36 PM  

@Artlvr: Thx--2 years ago, I couldn't have constructed the ladder--learned LIMN through xword puzzles since!

Moonchild 10:38 PM  

Fun puzzle but the comments are almost even better.
@ Luke, I cannot believe you have never heard the expression that March comes in like lion and goes out like a lamb. An age thing or maybe ESL?
Too bad it spoiled a very cool Tuesday for you. For me? Loved it!

sanfranman59 1:35 AM  

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

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

Mon 7:39, 6:55, 1.11, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 10:22, 8:48, 1.18, 88%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:18, 3:41, 1.17, 85%, Challenging
Tue 5:23, 4:30, 1.20, 89%, Challenging

Julie 2:31 AM  

I loved this one and it was just what I needed for the end of my Tuesday. Elizabeth always does something special for us.

Parshutr 7:56 AM  

@ulrich and zeke
LION and BOIL each have OIL (or LIO) in them. One change - N to B.

Rex Parker 8:00 AM  


You aren't listening. Letters have to stay in their same places.

HudsonHawk 8:04 AM  

@Parshutr, in a word ladder, the change has to be to one letter in the same position in the word. So LOON to TOON works, LOON to ONTO does not.

Boy married to City Girl 10:32 AM  

scent as captcha, what a real word? Impending sign of the apocalypse

If no one has said it Herb CAEN of SF is pronounced as a homonym to CANE

His columns 30 years ago were very nostalgic for the '40's and '50's - a City long gone then and completely a different planet now

Stephen 3:04 PM  

There were a lot of fun clues in this one. Full marks.

I crashed big time in the west. ROBIN Williams played in some episode(s) of Happy Days, and since I had never seen the show or ever heard of ANSON Williams, there was no way to get ROBIN back out of there. I ground to a disappointing Tuesday halt. Sucks to be me.

Mollie 1:14 PM  

First time for the NY Times puzzle which I solved in tandem with the breezy SD Tribune puzzle. Well, I struggled with 'loos,' but then doesn't everyone at one time or another? Feeling invincible...until tomorrow's puzzle.

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