Rigel or Spica / WED 4-21-10 / Rap component to rapper / Woodland reveler of myth / Liberal pundit with conservative father

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: DIAGONAL PARKING (40A: Easy way of pulling in ... and a hint to the six circled words) — circles are diagonal and spell out makes of cars


Word of the Day: ALDO (68A: International shoe company) —

The ALDO Groupe owns and operates a worldwide chain of shoe and accessory stores. The company was founded by Aldo Bensadoun in Montreal, Quebec, in 1964 where its corporate headquarters remain today. It has grown to become a worldwide corporation, with over 950 stores under 6 retail banners: ALDO, ALDO Accessories, Spring, Feetfirst (FIRST in the United States), Globo, and Little Burgundy. There are also ALDO outlet, ALDO Kids, ALDO Liquidation, Spring Liquidation, and clearance stores. Canadian, American, and UK stores are corporate stores while international stores are franchisees. The company once operated the now closed or re-branded banners Simard & Voyer, Pegabo, Transit, and Stoneridge. (wikipedia)
• • •

ALDO is Gucci's first name. ALDO's was the name of a local pizza place when I was growing up, where I had my 11th birthday party, the one where Graham Gitlin got me an ABBA album (I'm pretty sure his mom picked it out) and I was (apparently) visibly ungrateful and my mom let me know that was not cool. I was 11. I was only just getting over the revelation that the Village People were gay (whatever that meant), and that consequently I couldn't openly like them any more. I just couldn't embrace ABBA at that fragile juncture. Too disco. Too Euro. Too feminine. Surrounded by other boys my age — the peer pressure was just too great. Graham was from South Africa. People would forgive his musical eccentricity — he was foreign. I had no such excuse. Don't judge me. ABBA and I are cool now.

(Ironically, or coincidentally, or at least relatedly, I also received Devo's "Freedom of Choice" at that birthday party: Approved by all boys in attendance)


This puzzle was OK, I guess. Really had only one theme answer — a phrase I didn't even know existed. Where I'm from, we don't give the parking different names based on the angle of the painted lines in relation to the curb. But the phrase was easy enough to pick up. Knowing the theme was of absolutely no use to the solving experience. I simply looked up when I was done and said, "yep, those are cars." Felt very easy, though my time says perfectly normal for a Wednesday.

Cars:
    FORD, DODGE, FIAT // AUDI, LEXUS, SAAB
I tripped a bit coming out of the NW, as I couldn't see FLOW as a "component" of rap. I'm not sure it's the best word to describe FLOW (1D: Rap component, to a rapper). FLOW is rap itself. If you have no FLOW, then you are not rapping. Or you are flat-out terrible at it. FLOW is the way you put words together. Clue had me imagining some discrete entity, like a RHYME. Anyway, I also opted for PEORIA (?) at 4D: River with its source in the Appalachians (PEE DEE). Then I didn't know what a BLUE STAR was (though I guessed the "BLUE" part pretty readily — -UE were already in place when I saw the clue (29A: Rigel or Spica)). NE provided some resistance, as I went for the singular SEALANT over the correct plural SEALERS (27A: Driveway applications). I also had SIC for SIT (24A: Command to Rex) — this Rex relates much better to the former. SEALANT / SIC made MOTT'S (12D: Big name in applesauce) very hard to see at first. Lastly, trouble-wise, I had no idea what MOT was supposed to mean as an answer to 46A: Word for word? — It's a FRENCH word for "word." Don't know that I've seen a foreign word clued with absolutely no indication of its foreignness, let alone the specific language it's from. Odd. With the rest of the puzzle, I wrote (typed) as fast as I could read clues. No trouble — no, wait, I balked at LEEK (28D: Welsh national emblem). Who wouldn't balk at LEEK — the single stupidest national emblem every imagined ever. "We are a country like unto the onion ..." WTF!? Don't you all have a dragon or something respectable lying around that you could use?

Bullets:
  • 14A: Voodoo accessories (DOLLS) — "Accessories" threw me slightly. To me, the pins, or whatever ornamentation you might have, *those* would be "accessories." The DOLL seems too crucial.
  • 49A: Items for urban dog-walkers (SCOOPERS) — not sure I'd want people thinking about dog shit while solving my puzzle, but that's just me.
  • 52A: Toga go-withs (SANDALS) — never seen "go-with" anywhere outside of crosswords.
  • 65A: Half of a giant 1999 merger (EXXON) — never noticed the lexical similarity of EXXON and ENRON (44A: 2005 documentary subtitled "The Smartest Guys in the Room") before today. If ENRON (the word) were a cartoon character, and it got drunk, or died, it would look like EXXON.
  • 72A: Counterparts of dahs (DITS) — I will forever think the answer is DATS, for some reason.
  • 6D: Liberal pundit with a conservative father (RON REAGAN) — He's a "liberal pundit" somewhere. Whatever channel that is, I don't watch it.
  • 15D: Black and white Mad magazine figures (SPIES) — as in "Spy v. Spy," which, as I've said before, I mentally confuse with Heckle and Jeckle.
  • 23D: Woodland reveler of myth (SATYR) — think of them as horny fauns.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

75 comments:

syndy 1:05 AM  

only place i ever saw ron reagan was animal planet for the westminster dog show.wales flag has a dragon;but they apparently won a battle in a leek field putting leeks on their helmetsand the welsh guards have them on their helmets to this day. very medium puzzle,kinda blah.

lit.doc 1:29 AM  

Paula Gamache’s puzzle yesterday was so cool I guess I approached this one with unrealistic expectations. And this from someone who’s easily amused by circled-letter devices and just about any other CW theme trickery. But this one’s a poster child for “why even bother?” Making due allowance for the obligatory “I couldn’t construct something this slick in a gazillion years”, this solve wouldn’t have felt much different if it were actually a themeless with an unrelated-to-anything-else fifteener across the center.

Now imagine this same basic design with 40A’s clue replaced by 24A’s “Command to Rex”. Imagine the possibilities.

Full disclosure: @Rex, I’ve got that ABBA vinyl sitting on my shelf. And Side 1/Track 1 Eagle is on my ‘Droid.

Rube 1:34 AM  

I consider this to be a great Wednesday level puzzle. There is a minimum of worn-out fill, and despite the fact that I didn't get the theme until after finishing, (because I didn't look), ended up with 1 cross I just didn't know, the D of ALDO/NERDS. If I had looked for the theme, this would have been a gimme. My guess is that this will be the issue of the day.

I too had to guess at 29A, BLUESTAR, but it was fairly obvious. given the crosses.

Really wanted to fit Schroeder into 4 spaces at 71A, but after consulting my geezer vocabulary, decided that DESI was a better fit.

Enjoyed 63A LURK, 'cause I know of at least one couple who does this for @rex's blog.

I flagged 69A, REVUE, 'cause it was a much better answer than that ridiculous "Stretti" we had last week.

Good Puzzle. Two thumbs up.

Rube 1:47 AM  

I forgot to mention that @Tenbeni will go bonkers over 45A, NEAT and that I did guess the "D" cross correctly.

@Gespente, everything OK?

PurpleGuy 1:55 AM  

@Rex - I think you may have stepped on toes of anyone of Welsh heritage."stupidest national emblem," indeed !
This was a fun, easy puzzle. Somewhat more enjoyable than yesterday's.
Was it me, or did there seem to be an awful lot of "add an s" plurals ? WEEDS,SPIES,EZRAS,YETIS,DITS,SEALERS,PLUGS,SANDALS,NERDS,PEELS,DOLLS,SCOOPERS
Knew BLUESTAR from my CU Astronomy class.

I liked the image of "ENRON getting drunk" and looking like EXXON. LOL.

Ready to celebrate with my mom on her 102nd birthday !
Brunch at her favorite French bistro. Then her special scotch( a toast to TINBENI,too) and canapes, with Sinatra and Steve Tyrell on the stereo.
@jesser -
She said that she'd much prefer you to do your Happy Dance in person ! Some challenge !!!!

Best wishes to all.
Good puzzle Mr. Collins.

lit.doc 2:32 AM  

@Rex, BTW I forgot to applaud the wit of your commentary and related graphic for the 65A bullet. LOL indeed.

chefwen 2:57 AM  

Much easier than yesterdays puzzle. Cut through this one like a warm knife through butter. Once I got FORD the rest seemed to fill itself in. Had a little problem with the Topps competitor, don't even know what Topps is, and fleer sounded reasonable, so why not?

The week so far has been wiggly piggly, what will Thursday bring?

Jesse 3:16 AM  

Rex, I was snorting at your comment about the Welsh national emblem being a leek, until I remembered that my country's is a shamrock. Well, at least my politicians don't have to pin leeks to their lapels on March 1 (I had to google that - St David is their patron, who knew. I expected something less pronouncable).

I didn't like this one. The only difficult cross was nerDs with alDo. Didn't know either, but got lucky.

Here's why I didn't like it: I do the USA Today xword every day as well, and I felt as though this was one more of the same.

Perhaps I just got lucky for once, and no offense to the constructor. It's rare that I get annoyed at a NYT puzzle for being too easy.

After our host's Saturday's completely justified roasting of the xword, when I first encountered 24A, I thought it was a rebus, because STFU did not fit.

Jesse 3:26 AM  

Also, could the NYT stop already with the cute circle-y things? They are boring.

Luke 3:44 AM  

Much easier then yesterday. I was staring at ______PARKING for a while. Chalk me up for someone else who has never heard of DIAGONAL PARKING. It makes sense, but, well, never heard it referred to as that. However the top graphic on Wikipedia for parking lot has the word so I guess people use it.

I had FLOW down fairly quickly, but I just kept wanting to delete it. Bad cluing.

Was it just me, or did a lot of clues in today's puzzle seem to have been in CrosSynery puzzles? Maybe I've just been doing a bunch of them lately but it sure felt like this puzzle had a whole bunch of them.

dk 7:25 AM  

Rode my bike to Watertown MN and as I rolled into town I noted: NEAT DIAGONALPARKING. Shout out to the espresso bar -- Thanks for staying late the 7 layer bar was much better than a squeeze of Goo and gave me all the sugar I needed for the ride back.

Spy vs. Spy remains a favorite memory from reading Mad under the covers with a flashlight.

This one cleared the Wednesday bar for me. Thank you Peter.

And @Rex, can't wait to refer to someone as a horny faun.

Anyone remember AOLs big rival who they acquired in the 80s? Anyone still use AOL?

** (2 Stars) As per @Jesse lose the circles.

secret word; Frophy - a prize for drinking awarded by sots, accompanied by spittle

fikink 7:51 AM  

The dead wombat is unsurpassed, Rex. My ticket into this day. Thanks!

Texas Momma 7:51 AM  

Camptown ladies sing this song
Doo dah, doo dah

Bob Kerfuffle 7:59 AM  

Coming in at 10 minutes (about my minimum time for any puzzle any day) on the Kerfuffle Klock, this was a real Easy.

Brilliant construction, as already noted.

jesser 8:01 AM  

@ Rex: You are encouraged to opnely like me. :-)

@PurpleGuy: Well, of course I did The Happy Dance in person; I don't (yet) have a blue avatar with cool eyes and a cooler tail to do it for me.

Now to le puzzle (or however the French would say it):

AISMTB, I don't see no damn circles. This blog reveals circles to me. Thanks for that!

Ironically, at 40A, I initially wrote in circular PARKING, reasoning that I sure DO like those driveways that require no backing up. Took a while to back out of that one (rim shot!).

I will admit that the ALDO/NERDS Natick bit me. I put in a t. I'm still OK with it, because I know with certainty today that PlutoPooper did, in fact, get a kick in the pants. (@Andrea, I'm sure I'd be charmed by him, but I want to maintain my indignity for as long as possible. Thanks for understanding.)

I loved SPACES OUT, because it reminds me, almost literally, of Saturday's death dance with Mr. Croce.

Also loved DINO. I have a soft spot in my left ventricle for The Flintstones. Fractured Fairy Tales occupies the right ventricle. The Jetsons are lodged in my aorta.

Also loved LURK. That and skulk are two of my favorite words. I cannot explain this even to myself. I also cannot explain Devo, but I think it's cool Rex digs them.

I better get some work done.

Blemetk! (the sound I'm so hopeful was made when Andrea's steel-tipped boot made contact with his posterior. I hope he had his wallet in his coat pocket.) -- jesser

tptsteve 8:18 AM  

Had a problem in SW- wanted laurels instead of sandals- couldn't get John Belushi out of my head.

Is it my imagination, or have there been an unusual number of YETI sightings this year?

Any other nations with floral emblems, aside from Ireland and Canada?

@RP- Loved the write-up. I have that same 1970s Topp's card in my (now my sons') collection.

deerfencer 8:25 AM  

Excellent and entertaining Rex write-up, as usual--loved the Abba story.

OK but uninspired puzzle IMO. Had to google FLEER, the one big stumbling block in the SW for me.

Was Wales a matriarchy at some point? Choosing the leek as the national emblem sounds like a grandmotherly thing to do. I dig--pass the parsnips ;-)

joho 8:27 AM  

For some reason I wanted to see DIAGONALPARKING on a slant instead of straight across as it is.

I liked the car names parked diagonally throughout the puzzle.

Favorites for me were INOR (out?) as I say that many, times a day and SPACESOUT. Also INOR crossing SCOOPERS is appropriate.

@PurpleGuy ... please wish your mother a happy birthday from me!

Bruce 8:32 AM  

It took me a while to go ahead and fill in ATF, because any informed citizen knows that the ATF is a part of the Treasury Department not Justice.

Apparently I'm the only one in the country that didn't get the memo that ATF was moved under the DOJ in 2003.

The Bard 8:35 AM  

King Henry V > Act V, scene I

PISTOL: Ha! art thou bedlam? dost thou thirst, base Trojan, To have me fold up Parca's fatal web?
Hence! I am qualmish at the smell of leek.

FLUELLEN: I peseech you heartily, scurvy, lousy knave, at my desires, and my requests, and my petitions, to eat,look you, this leek: because, look you, you do not love it, nor your affections and your appetites and
your digestions doo's not agree with it, I would desire you to eat it.

PISTOL: Not for Cadwallader and all his goats.

FLUELLEN: There is one goat for you.

[Strikes him]

Will you be so good, scauld knave, as eat it?

PISTOL: Base Trojan, thou shalt die.

FLUELLEN: You say very true, scauld knave, when God's will is:I will desire you to live in the mean time, and eat your victuals: come, there is sauce for it.

[Strikes him]

You called me yesterday mountain-squire; but I will make you to-day a squire of low degree. I pray you,fall to: if you can mock a leek , you can eat a leek.

Orange 9:00 AM  

MOT has made the move into the English dictionary, so it sneaks past the foreign-clue requirement.

I really enjoyed the puzzle. When blogging it last night, it seemed less impressive technically, but the initial reaction holds.

ArtLvr 9:09 AM  

One of Scotland's thistles appeared in my yard a year ago, a "volunteer" over six feet tall, very regal. Née a Campbell, I couldn't deny it room, but doubt it's as edible as a LEEK...

∑;)

mac 9:17 AM  

@PurpleGuy: have fun with your mother today!

Perfectly smooth Wednesday solve, EXCEPT for the F in ATF (which should be ATFE) and Fleer. Didn't know Fleer of fleer, and didn't think of alcohol, tobacco etc. this early in the morning.

Fun write-up, Rex. Can just see that bunch of 11 year olds at the pizza place!

Come to think of it, I know no diagonal parking lots in this area at all.

The Welsh leek is magnificent! I just found some halfway decent ones in a local store, but they were still a far cry from the ....
We've had this discussion before.

I'm in for an interesting evening: Christopher Hitchens and John F. Haught on "The Question of God" at Fairfield University.


politie: the Dutch word for police.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

@JOHO: THANKS FOR POINTING OUT THAT THE CARS ARE "PARKED" DIAGONALLY.

chefbea 9:30 AM  

Easy fun Wednesday puzzle. Never heard sexed used that way.

All the parking on Greenwich Ave in Greenwich Ct is diagonal.

Happy b-day to Purple guy's mom

OldCarFudd 9:44 AM  

Enjoyed the ABBA story, Rex.

I thought this was one of the better uses of circles. Diagonal parking is very much in the language, and in use. It allows more cars per foot of curb if the street is wide enough to accommodate traffic when the parked cars' butts are sticking out, and it poses less delay to traffic and damage to other cars than forcing incompetent drivers to parallel park.

Mot is used enough to be accepted in English.

Not dead yet 9:48 AM  

@dk

Everybody's favorite spinoff is still serving America online. Formerly a subsidiary of Time Warner, AOL was spun off to shareholders at the end of 2009. AOL operates a Web portal serving users with an array of content and entertainment, including news, sports, games, music, video, and maps (MapQuest). It also boasts interactive services such as e-mail and instant messaging. Its advertising-supported content business operates through units such as AOL Advertising (digital advertising), AOL Media (digital publishing), and AOL Ventures (new projects). In addition, the company still offers dial-up Internet access services for a monthly fee to some 5 million subscribers in the US.

Ruth 10:07 AM  

Grew up in Mt. Vernon, Iowa and diagonal parking was very much the norm on small town main streets. And yep, as a teen I treasured it because it was NOT the dreaded parallel parking. Which by the way is also a 15-letter phrase. Look for the next puzzle to have the cars parallel parked. . .
And @the Bard, thank you so much for a phrase that I will try to work into every conversation I can: If you can mock a leek, you can eat a leek!! LOVE IT!

Ulrich 10:26 AM  

@joho: Actually, I viewed the whole layout as a portion of a diagonal parking lot, with six cars in place. The center line marks the boundary between the two rows--one would have to drive around them clockwise to always hit (split infinitive--shoot me!) the spaces at the correct angle--that's what these lots look like, and that's why I admire the layout, and that's coming from someone who often doesn't like circles--not this time around! Kudos, PAC!

Still shaking my head about this leek thing--but I have to raise my hat to the Welsh--it takes guts, and lots of self-confidence, to stick to one's leeks...

dk 10:33 AM  

@not dead yet, Just how do I know your not one of the UNDEAD from the other day? As a test who did you (assuming you are somehow associated with, or just love, AOL) acquire in the 80's? Hint they were your primary competitor at the time.

@ruth in Keene NH we had diagonal parking and as I recall parking in the center of the street.

@oldcarfudd, we all know why you liked the puzzle -- all cars all the time :)

@rex, imagine being a New York Dolls fan living in Sweden. It was like being the ABBA record at your party.

Back to outlining event schemata (behavior scripts) for marketing creatives who do not appreciate the blurring of art and science.

SethG 10:36 AM  

I misread 28D as [Welsh national anthem], so I truly had no idea. REGIS/EGIS is cute; TAMO, not so much.

Reverse angle parking is the next big thing. In parking.

retired_chemist 10:45 AM  

Enjoyable and easy. Like others, I found the ALDO/NERDS crossing a Natick. However, the theme diagonal answer AUDI assured me that the D was correct. Don't usually get help from a theme, but this time it was necessary, not merely useful.

Had POOP BAGS for 49A. Much less cumbersome than SCOOPERS. Breakfast, anyone?

DIAGONAL PARKING is alive and well in WalMart parking lots here. It is actually more efficient than straight-in, in the sense of more cars per unit area, because the aisles can be a little tighter.

Does the Welsh pound still have the LEEK on the reverse? I'd bet....

Michiganians want to know why there is no GM car in the parking lot.....

Thank you, Mr. Collins.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:46 AM  

Forgot to mention: 59 D is either the best or worst Roman numeral clue ever -- but not sure which!

Tom 10:52 AM  

FLOW is definitely a component of rap, that was actually my favorite clue today -- contemporary without sounding like an old person trying to sound young.

A rapper can write really solid rhymes and then deliver them poorly, hence a weak flow. Kanye West has terrible flow; Lil Wayne has excellent flow.

retired_chemist 10:52 AM  

@ Bob K - coulda been "Get your kicks on Iter (Via?) _____"

Stan 10:59 AM  

A solid Wednesday, and a good choice for recent puzzle tournaments because most people could a) finish in time and b) check their answers against the diagonals in the grid.

I have monocular vision (one eye) which means I lack depth perception. This seldom comes up in daily life, except for parking a car, which I'm horrible at. Absolutely cannot manage parallel parking.

Once worked (indirectly) for AOL and have been to their campus in VA for training, etc. It's hard to imagine the era when "the Internet with training wheels" was the dominant New Media company in the world.

Two Ponies 11:01 AM  

Once again Rex and the rest of you saved the day.
I got the theme fairly early but it was no help whatsoever.

Poop bags is the correct answer. No one carries their scoopers with them. That's for back yard duty.

"In or out?" I ask my cat that question every single morning.

I still use AOL because I'm too lazy to change my e-mail address.

I wanted my garden dish to be a bird bath to go with my koi pond down there in the SW corner.

This sort of "vanilla" puzzle gives me time for all of the random thoughts above. Not bad, just nothing special. (not that I could ever come close to creating such a thing)

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

The place I ate breakfast at today uses diagonal parking. Two idiots, though, couldn't pull in parallel to the diagonal lines and occupied two spaces each. 2 cars occupying 4 spaces.

Maybe not easy for everybody.

foodie 11:06 AM  

Pete, you are such a Michigander! Car names, a parking lot, FLIPpin real estate, DROPping insurance... Home sweet home...

Bruce 11:15 AM  

I hate rap references. "I'M A Rocker"

retired_chemist 11:15 AM  

Anybody know if there is an AcrossLite or equivalent app coming for the iPad?

@ Stan - I have perfectly normal binocular vision and I still can't usually park a car well. Diagonal, straight-in, or parallel. Doesn't matter. My mind is fixed on when I learned to drive. Cars were smaller....

archaeoprof 11:18 AM  

@Jesser: ALDO/NERDS was a Natick for me too. Thank goodness an AUDI was diagonally parked there.

The PEEDEE river flows south to the Atlantic through the NE part of South Carolina. Natives refer to that part of the state as "the PeeDee."

Tony from Charm City 11:19 AM  

RON REAGAN looks like the guy who played Bud Bundy.

Decent enough puzzle for a Wednesday

As for diagonal versus parallel vs straight-in, I opt for straight-in whenever I can. I am so-so at parallel parking and I absolutely stink at backing into a space.

Tinbeni 11:21 AM  

@PurpleGuy: I will be toasting your mom at sunset. 102 WOW !!!
@RUBE: The Scotch will be NEAT!

Normally I do not like the circled letter thingy. The vehicles were easy fill. AUDI did get me the 'D' for ALDO/NERDS. As to the 'theme' reveal, DIAGONAL PARKING, got it, big whoop ...

Liked that PLUGS crossed into SEALERS.
The MOTTS & MOT.
And the "Command to Rex" SIT.

Noam D. Elkies 11:27 AM  

Third BCPT puzzle, and the last one to appear in the paper. Enjoyed it, though the circled extras only compensate for there being just one normal theme clue.

The color of a star reflects its temperature, according to the same physics principle that makes white heat hotter than red. Blue heat (on the other side of the spectrum from red) would be hotter yet, but is not encountered often enough on Earth to get its own term. Anyway, knowing that Rigel is a STAR I guessed the BLUE part correctly.

Captcha = contra. I thought it would defeat the purpose of captchas to use real words...

NDE

Masked and Anonymous 12:51 PM  

Liked the puz theme. Liked the puz grid fill, other than the var. varmint at 34-A. So a mild thumbs up, which is all I can muster, 'cuz the clues just sorta lied there. I mean, the only clues puttin' out any sparks at all were 46-A [which #44 did such a number on that you'd need a SCOOPER for pickup duty afterward -- har! French! serves 'em right!], and maybe 35-D, which I can relate to a lot. Could be 1-A trips your trigger, if you're into real estate.

There's just gotta be some better Wednesday-gusto clues for the likes of: DROP, DOLLS, OGRE, WEEDS, SIT, GEESE, YETIS, NEAT, PEELS, LURK, REVUE, FLOW(i.e., better than rap), SALAD, ... pant, pant ... aw, you get the idea. I'm no Shakespeare, but I've even got one:
"What mooners do with their trou". (You pick the answer from above.)

John V 1:05 PM  

Easy for a Wed. Also, Aldo's is a bakery on Block Island, which did (and still may) come around in a small boat in the Great Salt Pond, offering, "Aldo's on your boat"; but no shoes, IIRC

bluebell 1:12 PM  

I'm coming out of lurking because in spite of having absolutely no clue about Topps/Fleer or Aldo/Nerds (well I know nerds as socially awkward brains who do too many crossword puzzles, but not as candy) I did the whole puzzle without googling.

We diagonal park where I live, so that and the cars were easy (everyone knows Californians live for nothing but cars.)

I liked Peedee/geese/weeds, with peels farther down for good measure.

I too hope I remember that if you can mock a leek you can eat it the next time I make potato leek soup.

@Purple Guy. Congratulations to your mother. An amazing birthday to celebrate.

jesser 1:13 PM  

I am getting impatient waiting for Andrea to post!

To kill time, I'll take a leek.

Apologies, Bard and Welshfolk.

Masked and Anonymous 1:15 PM  

P.S. @PurpleGuy's Mom -- you're amazin', darlin'! Happy b-day and many more!

From the B List 1:20 PM  

A very nicely made, enjoyable puzzle. Cute concept. Excellent use of circles.

Lots of diagonal parking around here. Newish city planning concept is back-in diagonal parking, which is meant to improve safety.

Van55 2:02 PM  

I would have truly hated the Roman numeral clue/answer had it not been etched into my brain that the Battle of Hastings took place in 1066. I had DEA where ATF belongs at first -- only write-over.

Enjoyed the puzzle very much.

Not dead yet 2:25 PM  

@dk

Not associated with AOL, never used it personally (was a Prodigy kid). I am, however, pretty good at web searches.

From the AOL corporate site, in part:
1985
• AOL is formed, then called Quantum Computer Services

1991
• Quantum is renamed America Online, Inc.

1998
• AOL acquires CompuServe and ICQ

1999
• AOL acquires Moviefone and Netscape

2000
• AOL acquires MapQuest

As you can see, "America On Line" didn't exist until 1991, so, despite your hint, no acquisitions in the '80's ;)

Also, @Two Ponies is an AOL user per her post above.

v. 2:29 PM  

Ron Reagan is a frequent guest on MSNBC. (Chris Matthews) His reasoning is cogent and sensible, as he provides assists to the anchors of the network who are crying "Pants on fire!" as a response to the escalating rupertmurdochville-stoked rhetoric.
Ron is one of several people in progressive media who see a problem when people show up at a gun rally on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, with a sign that has on it this:
"Go ahead, Barry. Take our guns! Musket ends first."
Or, a congresswoman, so-called, who asks of her constituents that they be "armed and dangerous." Her office insists that the "armed" refers to a vote.
What do solvers think of the syntax?
That Ron Reagan could have evolved his thinking, despite being the son of a man who brought the country deregulation, that allowed the greed that brought on the meltdown, as well as so many other reaganomical/justsayno/ollienorth supplyingthe contrasfromtheW.H. basement & other assorted patriotic bull, while tearing down, not the wall, but the country is...a mystery.

mac 2:33 PM  

Another hand up for using AOL, and I have no problem with it at all.

CrazyCatLady 2:45 PM  

Found this puzzle to be much easier than yesterday. DIAGONAL PARKING is my favorite way to park since I have an SUV with a wide steering radius. Im a LEEK fan, but wouldn't want one as my national symbol. Like them in my Potage Parmentier though. How could I have forgotten FLEER. Knew TOPPS right away since my kid was an avid baseball card collector. Rigel and Spica were a total mystery to me. Had to google. Before RON REAGAN was a Pundit, he was a ballet dancer. Circles are kind of new to me, but I like them

Someone once gave our family a cockatiel. She told us it had been SEXED by the breeder and was a male. On Christmas day it laid an egg. The occasion became known as "Chirpy's Christmas Miracle.'

@Purple Guy - Happy Birthday to your mom. 102 Wow!

@Rex loved your write up. Totally understand why an ll year old boy wouldn't want an Abba album.

Sandy 2:45 PM  

I know diagonal parking exists, just, well, that's not what I'd call it. "Angled Parking," anyone?

CrazyCatLady 3:17 PM  

One more RON REAGAN factoid. He was expelled from the Webb Schools, a private boarding high school located in the town where I live in CA.

fergus 3:37 PM  

I used to play favorites with my pound coins: Spend the English roses first, then the Irish harp; then the Welsh leek if I was feeling flush or the Scottish thistle, if feeling stingy.

Yet another Yeti-sighting today. Poor old Sasquatch. The FORD actually helped me park in that corner of the lot.

sanfranman59 3:39 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Wed 10:11, 11:50, 0.86, 17%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:34, 5:49, 0.96, 45%, Medium

Online solvers are having an easier time with this puzzle than yesterday's (which matches my own experience). I'm not sure how to account for the difference between the two groups of solvers, but the numbers will probably even out somewhat by the end of the day.

Steve J 4:28 PM  

@dk, are you going for Compuserve? As @Not dead yet pointed out, that didn't occur until the 1990s. AOL wasn't really active enough in the '80s to make acquisitions (and wasn't branded as such till the '90s).

@retired_chemist, if you're just looking for an app to do crosswords on the iPad, there is a dedicated NYT crossword app, and there is an app called "Crosswords" (both originally iPhone apps). The latter lets you use your existing NYT subscription to access the puzzle. The former, from what I've seen, does not and requires its own subscription (which is cheaper than the NYT website charges). I use the dedicated NYT app to solve, well, the NYT puzzle. I like the interface better than the Crosswords one, but that's on the iPhone. I'm guessing the iPad's larger screen takes care of my biggest nits with the Crosswords app interface.

As to the puzzle: I actually enjoyed it, even with circles (that may be two weeks in a row; what's happening to me?). The theme didn't help me with anything, but if one's going to use circles, I thought it was fairly clever.

Got stuck-ish with BLUESTAR/PEEDEE, as well as STEN/EGIS. Sten was somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain, and I pulled it out. Which is notable only in that I'm finally getting able to pull out crosswordese when it's needed.

retired_chemist 5:45 PM  

@ Steve J - thanks for the info.

JenCT 5:48 PM  

PEEDEE crossing WEEDS and GEESE, PEELS crossing FLEER, and LEEK. Lots of double E words today.

@Rex, laughed out loud at your "stupidest national emblem" comment. Couldn't get FLOW for the life of me.

Lots of DIAGONALPARKING where I live, also.

Can we give YETI a rest already?

Anonymous 6:03 PM  

MISTAKE. Having worked for DOJ, I can tell you that ATF is part of the Dept of Treasury, not Dept of Justice.

a guy 6:29 PM  

MISTAKE. Having been aware of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, I can tell you that ATF is now part of the Dept of Justice.

Anonymous 6:45 PM  

@tptsteve
Canada's emblem is not floral. but faunal (is there such a word?) i.e. the beaver. The province of Ontario, however does have a floral emblem, the trillium.

Acer 7:17 PM  

@Anon 6:45 - A Maple Leaf isn't floral? News to me!

Sfingi 8:54 PM  

This puzzle and yesterday's should have been switched (yesterday's with a willow twig). Although I did not know ALDO, ATF, NES, TOPPS, FLOW, PEEDEE, NERDS, FLEER, REGIS (Does CO have universities? Oh, a cover for sports, no doubt) nevertheless, got them all.
I had Naticks at ATF crosses FLEER and ALDO crosses NERDS.

@Rube - Rex made up the name for what happened to us - Natick.
I didn't do the puzzle with Stretti in it, but this is in the song, La Spagnola. There are 2 versions, the man's and the woman's. Check out Gina Lollabrigida on YouTube, since it isn't in the man's version. And she's a purty gurl.

I didn't know about this Welsh symbol. Half my church is Welsh and all I know of their symbols is the Dragon Flag, which is painted on all the barns. Apparently they had to subsist on this onion for awhile.

@JenCT - No, we will never give the YETI a rest 'til one is captured!

@Anon1106 - People who take 2 spaces are pigs, not idiots.

I can't back-in since I'm so short and can't see over the headrest. I had a reverse parking camera, but the screen was stolen by some pig who thought it was a GPS.

Did anyone mention EGIS and REGIS?

@ArtLover - you make soup out of thistles - a little sorrel can be added, etc. - ask the Chef people here. Besides the Scottish form,there's a Jewish one that's common. I look forward to my milkweed buds soon!

@V - I'm with U, V.

Stan 9:06 PM  

So are the ATF agents now J-MEN?

@retired_chemist: Thanx -- glad to know others are parking-challenged. My wife suggests I get long flags (like on kids' bicycles) to put on the four extremities of the car.

@CrazyCatLady: Loved "Chirpy's Christmas Miracle."

andrea mot michaels 9:41 PM  

@tptsteve
Is the Fleur-de-lys the symbol of the French flag? Would that count?

@jesser
sorry for the wait, busy day!
No kick in the end, just sushi!
(Damn! SHould have had UNADON, however)

Is it too late to say I loved this puzzle? The cars all diagonally parked were fabulous.
Plus I needed the theme at least three times to help me solve:
the D in AUDI solved my AL-O mystery; the A in SAAB helped me with ARAM. And not having an -LY on DIAGONAL made me realize it wasn't YTOZ.

(Bec I started to write in DIAGONALly I briefly had YTOZ as the enc. volume and thought those were some crazy letters!)

Hand also up for ATF/FLEER pause.
I had been racing thru till then...

I put in pests for WEEDS so my 1A/1D was FLIP/FLOp and I got all excited...till I realized I was, um, wrong!

Agree with @Rex on so much...DOLLS being much more than accessories, not wanting to think about dog poop, etc. but I LOVED the construction on this...
Found it really fresh and original and I like circles and I fear everyone wants too much theme-wise these days...bec no way would I think of this theme as anything but super cool!

@BobKerfuffle
HA! I'm with you! Isn't that funny when you can't tell if something is the best or worst???!
What does that say exactly?!

ALso, side note, I can't believe "I SHOT the Sheriff" would be clued as Clapton not Jimmy Cliff!
Did Clapton write it? That can't be. Was Cliff considered too obscure? Wasn't it based on a true story in Jimmy Cliff's life?
Was it the name of this great little film I saw circa 1977 at the Orson Welles near Harvard Square? Could someone who remembers my life better than I do fill me in?

@dk
your FROPHY explication du captcha made me laugh out loud!

Tinbeni 9:49 PM  

@andrea mot michaels
I SHOT the sheriff was written by Bob Marley.

Stan 9:51 PM  

@andrea: Let me be the first to remember your life better than you... You saw "The Harder They Come," starring Jimmy Cliff, at the Orson Welles on Mass. Ave. "I Shot the Sheriff," is a Bob Marley song everyone was listening to around then, but it's not in the movie.

lit.doc 10:31 PM  

@Sfingi, I think you really put your finger on what put me in pissy mode in the early hours. If this had been a Tuesday puzzle, I'd have been delighted.

At this rate, can it be very long before we start seeing a slogan like "So easy, even a yeti can do it!"

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

No one else got cranky about "wished" turning out to be "bade"?? (29 down)

Anonymous 7:40 PM  

Nah, "we bade them a fond farewell" is the same as "we wished them a fond farewell". Same mot.

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