Asian spiritual guide / THU 4-29-10 / U.S. term for British saloon / Big name vacuum cleaners / King with statue in Trafalgar Square

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Constructor: David J.W. Simpson

Relative difficulty: Medium (might very well be "Easy" — I did it on the couch while watching baseball, so have no idea how fast I would have been under my "normal" — timed, undistracted — conditions)

THEME: ODD — I'll let 17-Across et al. explain: "EACH ANSWER HAS AN / ODD / NUMBER OF LETTERS"

Word of the Day: Maurice STANS (5D: Maurice of Nixon's cabinet) —

Maurice Hubert Stans (March 22, 1908 - April 14, 1998) was an American accountant, high-ranking civil servant, Cabinet member, and political organizer. He served as the finance chairman for the Committee to Re-elect the President, working for the re-election of Richard Nixon, and was a peripheral figure in the ensuing Watergate Scandal. (wikipedia)
• • •

Did not like. In general, I am not a fan of these types of puzzles — the ones where answer are instructions or explanations. You just have to wait around for crosses to fill it all in — no joy in that — and then ... what? Maybe you connect the dots or fold your puzzle or, as with today, learn about some architectural feature you wouldn't notice if you weren't looking for it. Odd number of letters in each answer. Hmmm. Who. Cares? How does this feature increase my solving enjoyment? What does the this theme add, value-wise? Zero. If anything, it takes up valuable grid real estate with lengthy, inherently dull explanations of its raison d'etre (ETRES = possibly the ugliest Fr. word I've ever seen in the grid — 34D: French beings). "Hey, look what I made." Yep, those are answers with odd numbers of letters, alright. Congratulations?

This puzzle has ZEN MASTER (32A: Asian spiritual guide) crossing ZONKED OUT (32D: Totally beat), clearly the marquee answers of the day. Sadly, they aren't anything close to redemptive. Just an interesting sidelight, a not-quite-successful attempt to make me forget the triple-partial nightmare in the NW — IS A and OR NOT and NO I ... and the last two cross ... and the clue for NO I has "not" in it ... train wreck. Nevermind MST crossing SSW, and ORA, which is essentially another partial disguised as an Italian word (2D: 60 minuti). It hurts.

  • 23A: King with a statue in Trafalgar Square (JAMES II) — ousted in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which brought William and Mary to power. I didn't know the answer here, though (briefly considered HENRY II), and not knowing STANS contributed to this section's being the toughest for me today, by far.
  • 28A: "Interest paid on trouble before it falls due," per W. R. Inge (WORRY) — first, "W. R.?" I had no idea. Second, today appears to be "massive quote" day in the puzzle. There's this one, then 51A: "___ fancy you consult, consult your purse": Benjamin Franklin (ERE), and 48D: Who wrote "I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him" (POE).
  • 42A: Lizard that chirps (GECKO) — did you see where the guy who does the voice in the GEIKO ads (no, not the voice of the GECKO, but the disembodied voiceover voice) got fired for prank-calling some conservative group? Absurd. It's a very calm, non-threatening call. It's just ... you don't prank call and then leave your *actual* phone number on the voicemail. As I understand it.

  • 64A: U.S. term for a British "saloon" (SEDAN) — news to me. How the hell do does our word for a bar in the old west with the swinging doors and card-playing and what not become a four-door automobile overseas? Or vice versa? Absurd.
  • 26D: Big name in vacuum cleaners (DYSON) — I think we have one of these. But not the one with the ball. The older kind. The purple kind.
  • 44D: Mythological subject for Titian and Botticelli (VENUS) — I have a t-shirt with a "Simpsons" parody of the Botticelli painting. Features Marge on a half shell. Bare breast and all. Can't believe it's official, but it is.
  • 47D: Mini-section of an almanac (ATLAS) — The "mini" part threw me, because I associate the word "ATLAS" with bigness.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. this is my final plug for this weekend's "Crosswords L.A." charity crossword tournament at Loyola-Marymount University. Looks like I'm on the judging/scoring team with constructors Tyler Hinman, Doug Peterson, Todd McClary, and Alex Boisvert. Tyler and Andrea Carla Michaels are doing color commentary for the finals. It's cheap, it's fun, you can solve in teams if you want ... more info here. For those of you who are wondering if you are "good enough" to compete — you are. These tournaments are only stressful for the hyper-competitive. For the rest of us, they're just a chance to geek out about puzzles in a low-key, friendly environment. Hope to see L.A.-area folks there.


Tinbeni 12:24 AM  


sanfranman59 12:26 AM  

I think I'll take this opportunity to be the first to post a message. Eerie crossword solving experience of the day: Just as I read 42A: Lizard that chirps, a Geico ad airs on my television. Weird. This probably says more about the omnipresence of Geico ads on TV, but still.

newspaperguy 12:33 AM  

I didn't mind this puzzle, not giving any thought to themes as a rule. Which in this case elicited a shrug and "who cares?" Dyson? We've had central vacs for 30 years--didn't know everyone else doesn't, too. Liked zen master. What you don't hear is the sound of one hand clapping for the puzzle creator.

foodie 12:34 AM  

I'm impressed that you know the kind and even color of your vacuum cleaner. I cannot say the same.

And I thought that phone call was hilarious. Something about his tone reminded me of the "Irish Mental Heath Helpline".

As to the self-referential puzzle, I agree with you about not loving this general type. I did like Zen Master crossing Tae Kwon Do on one side and Zonked Out on the other. I loved the animal clues, Waddles and Swoop, and I actually liked the quotes. It's a nice change of pace for cluing. So, a number of redeeming features.

I don't get the clue for RHYME.

retired_chemist 12:37 AM  

@ foodie - gun is a RHYME for one.

This was fun. Right in my wheelhouse.

The theme, of course, was no help in solving (Why, according to the theme, this answer must have an odd number of letters. Let’s see – how many squares are there? Seven? Wow! Score another one for the theme!). So, it is a device to be admired but not used.

Started with thinking either DOPES or DODOS would fit 1A and chose right when OCHRE fit 4D. Did a bunch of downs, recalling MISTI from other puzzles, nailing DEE, ORA, BASAL and GENES, and enough of 17A appeared via the crosses to make it clear. Nailed WADDLES (25A). Arbitrarily, and fortunately, put KEY down for 21A – considered PEN, another 3 letter common item in a purse. There must be others. (e.g. PEZ. GUN if you’re a Texas gal. WAD if you’re rich. EAR if you’re Van Gogh.)

Had JOKES @ 23D – Decided I didn’t like KWOOP for what hawks do, so 23D became JESTS. Bet TASSO is WOTD.

Wanted ZONKED OUT @ 32D but wasn’t sure, except that 42A was ____O at that point and the K would make that ___KO => the very lizardly GECKO. All that worked.

52A was ROAST and my last correction was to look at the cross (ARLAS) say WTF, and fix it to TOAST/ATLAS.

Mr. Simpson, much obliged.

chefwen 12:41 AM  

I am in total agreement with our Fearless Leader - did not like this one at all. Not only did I struggle crazily with it, but the end result, like Rex said "who cares".

Going to find myself some of Tinbeni's avatar, chill out, watch American Idol results, and worry about Fridays puzzle.

lit.doc 12:51 AM  

Rex’s dead-on critique of both the elaborate but SFW theme and that OR NOT / NO I / IS A cluster f#@* in NW saved me a whole bunch of keystrokes. The only point on which I don’t concur is his rating of the puzzle as Medium for a Thursday. This was my first sub-30-minute Thursday ever (nor yet a google), and no way am I that good yet.

@Rex, thanks for posting so early. My draft post after solving had “and I’ll bet a generous pour of my 12-year-old Jameson’s that Rex rates this one Easy”.

Weirdest spot was SEDAN. Kinda like 263D “Aromatic orange tuber” = SPHYGMOMANOMETER (yeah, ok, that’s 16, but hey).

syndy 12:54 AM  

James11 was last to fall.I'm amazed,why is his statue there? Did they put it up before or after chasing him off? Dissapointing puzzle for wednesday,not much to it

matt 1:02 AM  

Shocked that I'm in disagreement with most of you. I kind of liked this puzzle. Even with the dud theme, I thought the long downs and moderate-length acrosses game it a bit of originality. I feel like, yes, there was a lot of crosswordese, but also a good amount of originality. Also, the clue for RHYME was great.

newspaperguy 1:04 AM  

Foodie: The clue for rhyme rhymed.

pezibc 1:06 AM  

I have no problem with the theme, and like it quite a lot. Nice construction.

As usual, IMO, as the week progresses, the clueing gets dicier.

Thought that NOI was crammed in to make it work. I can live with that if that's what it takes. If I looked at every puzzle through a microscope they would all be awful.

Tinbeni 1:08 AM  

PUB ...

lit.doc 1:29 AM  

@Tinbeni, your koans are worthy of a true ZEN MASTER.

Tinbeni 1:33 AM  

It's the avatar talking ...

Tinbeni 1:39 AM  

That was ... 19 ...

jae 1:50 AM  

I'm kinda with matt on this one. I thought there was some interesting fill (first time I've seen DYSON) even though the theme was just so-so.
No wow factor but overall OK.

retired_chemist 1:53 AM  

@ tinbeni, lit.doc - is that avatarplay?

lit.doc 2:05 AM  

@retired_chemist, were it not for the "three and out" protocol, I'd riff on your creative "avatarplay" neologism. But I will, instead, save my last post for...oh, damn, too late.

Tinbeni 2:09 AM  

Hell No!
He drinks Jameson Irish Whiskey.
Moi, Pinch!
41 ...

Each answer has an odd number of letters ... 33!

andrea rattlebrains michaels 2:53 AM  

That 48D Poe line was creepy but fun!
I liked DECOMPOSE and DEHYDRATE and of course ZENMASTER.

For a moment with 7D Dir from Paris to Bordeaux I thought they would want the FRENCH word for west (l'ouest) so that the answer would be SSO!!! I thought that would be a new type of clue for a foreign abbrev!

This was super fast for me, the only stumble was AtPEAcE for APPEASE.

Funny, been making puzzles 30+ years, I think, and I never once have thought about length of words.
(By the way, thanks for all the nice feedback yesterday)

Bleed over: ESP. At least SOSO didn't appear three days in a row!

Never heard of that common to another era, perhaps?

Anonymous 3:04 AM  

Now andrea was that an ODD or even number of letters?


Elaine 3:14 AM  

Hmm. I rated this Easy, as I was under 20 minutes. C'mon, guys--it's his first puzzle! Be nice. I enjoyed the puzzle's originality and interesting clues. Thanks to spending two summers glued to the Watergate business, I whipped STANS into the puzzle like a shot. (This may have been before some of you were born....)

My first thought for 21A [Common item in a purse] was MED. See, as you get older..... Plus, I guessed the Inge quote without any letters in the grid there; (it's a hobby.)

On to Friday's puzzle...

fikink 6:29 AM  

Rex, thanks for TYT. So happy to be out here in the sticks! Wish you had posted Marge on the half shell.

@sanfranman59, music of the spheres!

@foodie, yes WADDLE and SWOOP float my boat, too!

@r_c, at first, I had GUM for 21A; must be thinking of my grandmother.

@Tinbeni, @lit.doc, I am going to have to stay up late one night and drink with you two - pub koans, too funny!

@andrea, I am with you on rattlebrain - huh?

As to the puzzle, it made a break...with some interesting fill. Thanks Mr. Simpson

"incya" - a Peruvian New Agist

Parshutr 6:38 AM  

I enjoyed this one a great deal. Lots of smiles (Richard Stans as part of pledge of allegiance 'and to the republic for Richard Stans').
To that end, and for the time etre, honi soit qui mal y pense.
Those of us who owned British cars in the early post-war decades read our manuals and found spanners (wrenches), sparking plugs, carburettors, saloons (fixed-head would be hardtop, drop-head would be convertibles), boots (trunks) and bonnets (hoods). We and the Brits are separated by a common language.

Edgar 7:21 AM  

The Tell-Tale Heart

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded -- with what caution -- with what foresight, with what dissimulation, I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night about midnight I turned the latch of his door and opened it oh, so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern all closed, closed so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly, very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this? And then when my head was well in the room I undid the lantern cautiously -- oh, so cautiously -- cautiously (for the hinges creaked), I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights, every night just at midnight, but I found the eye always closed, and so it was impossible to do the work, for it was not the old man who vexed me but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he had passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed , to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

raidodaze 7:51 AM  

WADDLE and SWOOP... That sounds similar to STRUM and DRANG

dk 8:05 AM  

Got the theme early on and my reaction was: cool! The rest was a pleasant fill in the blanks experience.

Loose associations:

With @Parshutr as I have read more than enough of those manuals. I think I can still rebuild a TR3s hydraulic slave cylinder in my sleep.

My ski patrol nickname is ZENMASTER buttercup due to the color of one of my jackets (anorak to the puzzle crowd).

TASSO I did not know, POE I did.

Got a HENNA tattoo (on my hand) at the MN State Fair (Hi Andrea) and freaked out the execs at a former place of employment as I was presenting to the Board. Board chair comment was: "Huh, challenged by your kids to get a tattoo at the fair, good for you."

Last but not least - Lovely wife claims I WADDLES when I walk.

Nice puzzle Mr. Simpson. The ODD NUMBEROFLETTERS is superior to most of the Thursday gimmicks - IMHO

*** (3 Stars)

jesser 8:13 AM  

I guess the standard disclaimer applies: I am in awe of puzzle constructors, and specialty construction is particularly jaw-dropping. Congratulations, Mr. Simpson.

But I'm kinda with Rex in that I found no real pay-off. There were some very cool answers -- as mentioned already -- but the road to the payoff was rocky and there wasn't much to see once I traversed it. Odd numbers. Ok.

ZONKED OUT was by far my favorite. Hand up for rOAST at 53A until It Just Couldn't Be any longer.

I like the WORRY quote just a whole lot. I am a chronic fretter, and I'm going to keep that one handy.

The clue for SEDAN is just bizarre. I cannot DEBUG it.

@Rex: I also have a purple DYSON. I love that machine with all my little pea-pickin' heart. I love animals, but I also love a very clean house, and the DYSON is my bridge to that happy place. Best Vacuum Cleaner Ever. Period.

I never heard of TASSO.

Biggest gripe: It is never OK to say 'whether OR NOT.' Whether is fine all by itself. Do not argue with me, or I'll wallop you with a six pound Irregardless.

Choider! (I like mine New England style, with so much pepper on top it looks charred) -- jesser

joho 8:21 AM  

DOltS to DOpeS to DODOS. Other than that a steady solve. The theme was a bit of a letdown but, even so, I enjoyed many of the words in the puzzle. And it was new theme. Just a Q and and X short of a pangram, too.

Thanks, David Simpson!

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Just the right amount of struggle for me, and great clues/answers. Congrats on your first puzzle Mr. Simpson, and may this be the start of many more to come!

RP.... hope you cheer up!

Dough 8:56 AM  

I thought it was a good puzzle. It told me it would be self-referential to puzzles, so the words "each answer..." kind of filled themselves in, and then with the "odd" in place the final long entry became mostly obvious. That's fair and that's fun. I think that the kinds of puzzles some here like is just too limiting. There has to be variety and this was well constructed (crossing 9's in the central area) and well clued (loved the Rhyme clue). So, kudos to Mr. Simpson from this solver.

Rex Parker 9:02 AM  

The RHYME clue is recycled / old hat. [Sun, for one], [Donne, for one], [Rum, for some] etc. Tricky, yes. Inventive, no.

chefbea 9:22 AM  

Fairly easy but did have to google a couple of things.
Chilly here this morning. Some areas had frost. Luckily we didn't, so none of our crops frooze.

banes - another real word

OldCarFudd 9:28 AM  

I have never constructed a puzzle, and wouldn't know how to begin. So I don't know what's involved in creating a symmetrical grid that happens to have the additional constraint of having all odd-numbered words, and then finding words to fill it. That said, did the fill (or was it the cluing?) have to be so dull? I thought this puzzle was Tuesday-easy and USA-Today boring. I saw the theme after entering the last half of 17A and guessing at 37A, and just kept writing 'til it was done. So, a mixed bag, in my opinion. A clever idea, but the execution produced no excitement for this solver.

Van55 9:56 AM  

The theme is a bit like those "famous quote" puzzles that used to appear so often in the LAT, except this theme is even duller. Ho hum.

Didn't understand SEDAN at all. ATLAS either.

Liked ZONKEDOUT, WEDTO, DEHYDRATED, so I don't rate the puzzle as a failure.

ArtLvr 10:07 AM  

@Elaine said "Thanks to spending two summers glued to the Watergate business, I whipped STANS into the puzzle like a shot." Me too! But it wasn't as RMN's Secretary of Commerce that Maurice is remembered -- mainly right afterward instead, when he ran the slush funds for the Watergate "Plumbers" as Finance Director for that fantastic acronym CREEP (Committee to Re-elect the President). Talk about SNEAK INTO! Stans ended up indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice, but weaseled out of it.

What's ODD to me is JAMES II commemorated with a statue in Trafalgar Square. Another weasel, but at least he escaped being beheaded like his father Charles I. He just got dumped for William of Orange in the Glorious Revolution.

Did I like the puzzle? Lots of amusing moments, even if the theme wasn't sparkling in itself! Big smile at WADDLES and ZONKED OUT!


Ulrich 10:10 AM  

I'm with all those who do not like quote puzzles and am very happy that they have almost disappeared on Sundays. So, when I figured this one out, I said to myself, "it's mercifully only a 15x15 grid, and the quote has a nice architecture--with the most important word smack in the middle, and it's self-referential (us Mannerists are suckers for this kind of stuff--sorry, Mme foodie--this is one of the rare occasions when we don't see eye-to-eye), i.e. doesn't have any pretensions outside the puzzle itself: so, let's decide to like it". But then the really crappy fill kept on piling up high enough to put me back on the fence...

Bob Kerfuffle 10:13 AM  

How sad! A puzzle by a member of the (absurdly extended) Simpson clan, and it gets a thumbs-down from Rex.

Unfortunately, I must agree. I did the puzzle generally from West to East, so I was held in suspense regarding the theme until the very end, and then I was left feeling let down.

Still, had some real substance, took me half an hour.

Now to look up TASSO.

abide 10:18 AM  

Props to the debut and nice-looking fill. But the problem with the theme (besides the "big deal" aspect) is the constructor is forced to use so many three word entries. A mentor always stressed to me to limit those to under ten, here we have 21.

addie loggins 10:32 AM  

I usually try to throw my husband (PuzzleBrother-in-Law) a clue or two as I'm doing the puzzle, mostly so I don't feel like I'm completely ignoring him, and since he lived in London for several years I asked about the king with a statue in Trafalgar Square. "It's not a king, it's Lord Nelson," he said, confidently. I said, "well, there must be a king there, too" and after a great deal of thought he concluded that it could ONLY be James IV. So that's my explanation for how I ended up with a Peruvian Volcano called El Mistv.

On the plus side, this is the first Thursday in a LONG TIME that I've been able to finish (notwithstanding the one mistake, which I would not have made if I had just kept quiet)-- that makes four good days in a row for me, solving-wise, so I'm really feeling good about LA (and feeling especially good knowing that Rex, Tyler, ACME, Doug, et al. are judging rather than competing!!)

Hope to see some of you there.


PanamaRed 10:34 AM  

@jesser @van55: a saloon is a British car term for what we call a sedan.

I liked this one a lot, a fun romp, but agree that the payoff - odd numbered answers - was a "so what" moment.

@Rex @foodie - I don't think calling an org and asking how many retarded people work there is amusing at all.

Two Ponies 10:38 AM  

I thought this was fun and easy.
I was right on Mr. Simpson's wave length as I cheerfully cruised through.
I'm always happy for a debut puzzle. Nice job David.
Anglophile that I am Sedan was my first entry.

Two Ponies 10:40 AM  

P.S. See you all in L.A.

Masked and Anonymous 10:47 AM  

@Andrea: See day late and dollar short comment, at end of yesterdays's proceedings...

CaseAceFos 11:35 AM  

Got a kick out of seeing the old comic book ads for Charles "Quit kicking sand in our faces" Atlas...or as my late dad called him, Charles Fatless!

Stan 11:54 AM  

We watch "Top Gear" on BBC America, so SALOON was a gimme.

As a librarian, I of course liked the dictionaries, almanac, and atlas -- kind of a mini-Reference Desk.

If anyone is waffling about the LA Tournament, let me strongly recommend going. You don't need to be great or fast or know anyone. Scoring hint for newbies: try to get the easy ones filled in without mistakes, even if it takes a few extra minutes.

TBone 12:27 PM  

Having owned an Austin A40, sedan was no problem. I got stuck naming Stann "Stans" and needed to come here to clear that up.

Overall, I was pleased with the puzzle.

impess=female imp?

archaeoprof 1:27 PM  

After solving 37A, 54A was obvious. That took most of the fun out of the bottom half.


But Geico isn't getting rid of the gecko, are they? I like him.

Clark 1:29 PM  

@foodie: I was a week or so too early for the LA fun. The “Irish Mental Health Helpline” had me laughing even before I googled it and heard the real (~) thing!

@mac: you are a careful reader of the comments. I liked the synchronicity of meeting Andrea on the day her puzzle was published. But I didn’t want to spill the beans about an ACME puzzle coming up . . .

I now have evidence that at least one of the other denizens of Rexville is a real live person. (Emails, photos, even tv shows -- it can all be faked.) Andrea and I had a lovely breakfast and chat.

Cool ad for BMW M5 saloon car.

The word ‘saloon’ was “used of railway cars furnished like drawing rooms” (Online Etymology Dictionary). Wiki suggests that the word was used to describe cars that were enclosed. My guess: Compared to sitting out on top of a wagon or sitting outside in an open car, the enclosed space of those fancy new cars seemed like saloons, that is, drawing rooms. (Think Maggie Smith in Gosford Park, sitting in her little parlor car with the driver out in the front.)

mac 2:42 PM  

Well, you are not spoiling the fun I had with this puzzle. I enjoyed the whole thing and told myself Thursday is my favorite CWP day.

The "odd" right in the middle, the fact that all the answers had an odd number of letters, and also some great words and clues. How about Tae Kwon Do? To that end? Saloon (car) and sedan wasn't a problem for me, so maybe I didn't get irritated. I liked the multiple quotations (wanted "angst for worry). Anyway, I had a great time with this one, congratulations Mr. Simpson.

@Ulrich: remember the ABC islands?

Sparky 3:19 PM  

Well, couldn't finish. Had Konked out and dycon. Finally set it down. Enjoyed the all odd letter words. For me, a good Thursday. Am I going to be insulted by Irish Mental Health Line? I hope so.

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

Words with even lengths are my favorites.

Not anon 3:38p 3:41 PM  

@Anon 3:38p

That's odd.

joecab 4:09 PM  

As soon as I saw it was Thursday and I got a T for the first letter in 8 Down, I confidently entered TABLE(10)NIS, knowing Will.


foodie 4:13 PM  

@PanamaRed, I understand your objection. Something about the way the guy did it-- his tone of voice and rhythm, struck me as funny. I would like to believe that even if he had asked it of a group that I support, I would have still found it funny. Still, my apologies, no offense intended to anyone.

@clark, glad you enjoyed the Irish Mental Health Helpline. It's probably very politically incorrect. I guess I have an UnPC sense of humor. I want to add before I get in trouble that I devoted my life to studying the brain biology of brain disorders and hoping to help people who struggle with them.

@ulrich,I'm always happy to discuss with you, whether or not we agree. But I'm feeling dense because I'm not clear on how we disagree. May be we can discuss off line?

Ulrich 5:07 PM  

@mac: I do remember, and that made ARUBA a gimme.

@foodie: I seemed to me that you do not care for self-referential puzzles--I often do...and it pained me to say it:-)

your average blank 6:31 PM  

Against all odds now thats appropo.
How about Phil, Jeff, James, Rachel, Alfred E, and Charles appearing together with the gecko.
Only you Rex.

edith b 8:43 PM  

I had a deep and abiding interest in the Watergate scandal when it came apart in the early 70s and read most of the books written by the principals including The Terror of Justice written by Maurice Stans. Since he always maintained he had no knowledge of Watergate and was later acquitted of all charges that he did, his book was a partisan account of the Watergate scandal and shed no real knowlwdge on the affair unless you were a full-scale Nixon apologist. It is interesting to note that he was part of The Committee to Re-elect the President, which had the nickname CREEP.

This puzzle was kind of creepy itself using words like ETRES to perserve its conceit and plurals and partials to fill in the gaps. Granted, there wern't alot of these constructions but the weakness of this theme was highlighted as a result.

Pomona '13 / dedicated reader / groupie 9:32 PM  

Rex, will you be at Pomona this week for alumni weekend?

foodie 10:09 PM  

@Ulrich, psychologists/psychiatrists use self-referential to describe people who always look at things from their own vantage point, and cannot put themselves in someone else's place. So, I was probably using it that way (not consciously) and in that regard, it's not very flattering. But in some cases, self-referential is good... humor for example. For puzzles, I guess it depends on how well it's done.

Now I need to go learn about Mannerism in architecture : )

fikink 10:26 PM  

@foodie, I thought they were called narcissists.

fergus 10:28 PM  

Ulrich's comment about "famous quote puzzles" reminds me of how that type of formulation seems to have gone virtually extinct in the the NYT. Not that I'm eager to save the species -- it just reminded me of of often we used to see space-gobbling quotes, and how long it seems since one last appeared.

Ulrich 10:37 PM  

@foodie: I see--thx. I used the term in the literal sense--referring to it/oneself--actually, I wasn't aware of its connotations in psychology. And I should have used "mannerism" with a lower case m--as in "mannered", not as in "Mannerism (in art and architecture)". In a loose sense, it can mean "not straight-forward" or, in the arts, "extremely conscious of itself and the games it plays, especially when it refers to precedents; multi-layered; precious". This, to me, is not bad in itself if done with flair and taste, but I may be out on a limb here...

Stan 12:18 AM  

@Ulrich and @foodie: I really enjoyed your exchange today and didn't find it at all difficult to follow. Even if we use words like 'self-referential' and 'mannerism' in somewhat imprecise ways, I still get the point. So, thanks.

sanfranman59 12:25 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 6:00, 6:55, 0.87, 20%, Easy
Tue 8:02, 8:51, 0.91, 26%, Easy-Medium
Wed 12:17, 11:50, 1.04, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 16:12, 19:26, 0.83, 12%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:19, 3:40, 0.91, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:23, 4:31, 0.97, 48%, Medium
Wed 5:57, 5:49, 1.02, 65%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 7:23, 9:18, 0.79, 11%, Easy

Busy day today. No time to post the stats until now.

Maggie 4:46 PM  

Coming late to the game so don't know if anyone will see this...but why is 27 across "esp" for "It may actually be a hunch"?

My fill was all good--and it did seem pretty easy--although I was wondering what farmers used an "arlas" for.

Cousin Carmine 5:06 PM  

@Maggie -

ESP is Extra Sensory Perception.

The Old Farmer didn't have an "arlas". It's an ATLAS. So you don't get ROASTed, you get TOASTed.

And no fish there, either.

Maggie 2:05 AM  

Ha! Thanks, Cousin Carmine. For some reason, I just couldn't read "esp" as initials.

In retrospect, "arlas" seems insane. Although it could be a pretty interesting farm tool.

Just finished Friday. Ready for a fresh start on Sunday.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

Saloon is type of car the equivalent of our sedan.

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