Root used in some energy drinks / TUE 4-13-10 / One-named Nigerian songstress / Unforgettable duettist Cole / Climber's chopper

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Constructor: Alex Boisvert

Relative difficulty: EASY

THEME: KIND OF BLUE (58A: Classic Miles Davis album ... or a hint to the start of 17-, 22-, 37- or 45-Across)— theme answers all start with a KIND OF BLUE (POWDER, SKY, BABY, and NAVY, respectively)

Word of the Day: DAMON and Pythias (CLUE) —

In Greek mythology, the legend of Damon and Pythias (or Phintias) symbolizes trust and loyalty in a true friendship. The use of Damon as a first name derives from this Damon. // As told by Aristoxenus, and after him Cicero and others, around the 4th century BC, Pythias and his friend Damon, both followers of the philosopher Pythagoras, traveled to Syracuse. Pythias was accused of plotting against the tyrant of Syracuse, Dionysius I. As punishment for this crime, Pythias was sentenced to death. // Accepting his sentence, Pythias asked to be allowed to return home one last time, to settle his affairs and bid his family farewell. Not wanting to be taken for a fool, Dionysius refused, believing that once released, Pythias would flee and never return. // Pythias called for Damon and asked him to take his spot while he went. Dionysius agreed, on the condition that, should Pythias not return when promised, Damon would be put to death in his place. Damon agreed, and Pythias was released. // Dionysius was convinced that Pythias would never return, and as the day Pythias promised to return came and went, Dionysius prepared to execute Damon. But just as the executioner was about to kill Damon, Pythias returned. // Apologizing to his friend for his delay, Pythias told of how pirates had captured his ship on the passage back to Syracuse and thrown him overboard. Dionysius listened to Pythias as he described how he swam to shore and made his way back to Syracuse as quickly as possible, arriving just in the nick of time to save his friend. // Dionysius was so taken with the friends' trust and loyalty, that he freed both Damon and Pythias, and kept them on as counsel to his court.

• • •

A very ordinary concept redeemed by a very nice theme-revealer. The Miles Davis title, "KIND OF BLUE," really is a theme-revealer waiting to happen, and now it has. Happened. Though I own the album, I confess that my very first thought was "BITCHES' BREW," and I scanned the opening words of the theme answers to see if they might be plausible ingredients in something a witch might cook up. POWDER, maybe, BABY, sure, SKY ... nah, that doesn't work. That moment of reflection on the theme was about my only hesitation in this whole puzzle, which basically seemed to fill itself in. I was doing it on paper in bed, but I'm sure if I'd been doing it on computer I would have come in with a solid Monday time. With the SK- in place, I briefly considered some kind of SKI activity where SKY-DIVING was supposed to go, but otherwise, just constant writing, no write-overs or erasures.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Place to freshen up (POWDER ROOM)
  • 22A: Sport involving a chute (SKY-DIVING)
  • 37A: Britney Spears's debut hit ("BABY ONE MORE TIME")

  • 45A: Elite military group (NAVY SEALS)
Not much to say about this one, frankly. The shakiest part of the grid for me — the YO HO (23D: Start of a pirate's chant) / ORNE (31A: Caen's river) / WHYS (33A: Tot's repeated questions) part — managed to hold in place the puzzle's very best answers — MOJAVE (10D: Desert with Joshua trees) / GINSENG (21D: Root used in some energy drinks) / DRY RUN (24D: Practice go-round) — which is really the only reason shaky fill has for existing: buttressing the good stuff. The rest of the grid is without interest, but it's Tuesday, and considering the train wrecks I've seen on Tuesday from time to time, this will do just fine.

  • 14A: Climber's chopper (ICE AXE) — perhaps the longest X-containing piece of crosswordese there is.
  • 25A: "Unforgettable" duettist Cole (NATALIE) — man, "duettist" is a stupid-looking word.
  • 4D: One-named Nigerian songstress (SADE) — she sells huge numbers of records and yet manages to remain a very private person. Read an interesting "New Yorker" article on her recently (still no idea who gave me a "New Yorker" subscription for Xmas ... anyone?)

  • 27D: Forbidden-sounding perfume (TABU) — instinctively wanted this in another part of the grid when I saw I had a four-letter "U"-ending answer (which ended up being SITU)
  • 33D: Subj. of a U.N. inspection, maybe (WMD) — in my head, when I hear this abbrev., it's always plural, i.e. WMDs. I guess that's because inspectors (and everyone else) are usually concerned about more than just one.
  • 48D: Like Abe Lincoln, physiologically (LANKY) — I think I'd have liked [Unlike Taft, physiologically] better.
  • 52D: Early Jesse Jackson hairdo (AFRO) — weird choice of example, but true enough.

[now *that's* an AFRO (via "My Mom, The Style Icon")]

  • 58D: Spectra automaker (KIA) — KIA is a crossword stalwart, taking its place alongside SAAB, EDSEL, ALERO, REO, XKE, OPEL ... as an oft-recurring car brand/type.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Hungry Mother 7:16 AM  

Nice puzzle this morning.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:42 AM  


jesser 7:43 AM  

With the notable exception of 44A, I really liked this puzzle. It felt fresh throughout and induced regular grinny moments, like LANKY and SPORK.

I would like to be a fly on the wall when anyone in Rexville decides to disassemble a model airplane, because I'm betting I get to watch you come UNGLUEd in the process. I've never heard of UNGLUing.

Back before the earth cooled, I was in a youth organization known as DeMolay. We had to memorize the story of Damon and Pythias as part of some rite. Thank you, Rex, for sharing that story with your minions! I think it's a cool story, indeed!

Back in the 70s, Jimmy Buffett recorded a song titled, "Miss You So Badly," and the final verse had the line, "I hope Anita Bryant never ever does one of my songs." At the last concert I attended (in '08), he updated it to: "I hope li'l Brittany Spears never ever does one of my songs." Ergo, 37A gave me beeg beeg greens.

Ditto 15A, because man, what a golf tournament that was! Go Lefty! Where's Pancho? Paging Merle Haggard!

Enough of this silliness. Thanks Alex for a breezy puzzle, and thanks Rex for a delish write-up!

Gawfeup! (What you do with your ALEVE pill if you don't take it with water) -- jesser

fikink 7:45 AM  

Pretty straightforward, but solid and interesting for a Tuesday, which seems to be so difficult to niche.

MEWL and DRY RUN made it most interesting for me, in addition to the really cool theme.

captcha: priams - Who Paris was.

Doug 7:48 AM  

Great personal attachment to this puzzle. I'm a D-licensed (expert) skydiver, and the universal sign-off among its practitioners is "blue skies." Also, one of my closest friends in the sport, another old timer, was a member of the first Navy Seals team. For the record, the preferred spelling of skydiver is not hyphenated.

dk 8:04 AM  

Hand up for B-Brew for the Miles Davis album. Catchy name Davis. Don't you think... or don't you? Last sentence stolen from the National Lampoon Radio hour which I had taped (old school for burned) and listened to as I drove across the USA one summer.

Solid Tuesday. NATALIE and JIMI both played with Miles Davis. A nice touch would have been Duke Ellington's Mood Indigo. Or Acme's fav Chris Isaac's Forever Blue.

Again, I quibble (MEWL) over TBAR as I do not know of a single ski area that still has one. Perhaps if it was clued as forgotten way up. And, who would UNGLUE a model??????????

The city of Mpls was agog and alive yesterday. Opening day for our outdoor baseball field. The field coupled with our renewed love for street cars (light rail) may save downtown. Oh yeah and the sky was blue.

** (2 Stars)

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

Any puzzle centered on Kind of Blue gets a big thumbs up from me. It's hard to believe that classic is more than 50 years old. If you've never listened to it, put it on your bucket list. In addition to Miles, it features John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb.

Bernie 8:32 AM  

You want to know what's embarrassing? I tried both of the following for 37A, all having the same number of letters:

There's a puzzle I'm sure no one wants to make.

Rex Parker 8:43 AM  

Please do not post unidentified links. I will assume they are spam and delete them. Thank you very much.


joho 8:47 AM  

I agree, nice theme, but for some reason, for me, the puzzle felt KINDOFdull.

It did inspire me to write a really terrible poem, though.

Wore my skort
Like a dork
To eat pork
With a spork
In New York

Elaine 8:53 AM  

AERATION is [treatment with carbon dioxide?] I'd like to see how an aquarium would fare under such treatment. Carbonation wouldn't fit...

Had to use crosses to get the Britney and Miles answers, so feel fortunate it was Tuesday cluing!

Hey, this puzzle was 'BLUES clues.'

upsimbla--the percussionist's motion after clashing the cymbals?

OldCarFudd 9:11 AM  

Thoroughly enjoyable, although, having built many model airplanes as a kid, I'm blowed if I know how I'd unglue one. T-bars are still in use, especially in Europe where there are some scary ones (along with some of the most sophisticated lifts I've ever seen). Doug, I envy you; I have many hours of flying time in airplanes and sailplanes, but I've never had (and never will have) the guts to step out of a perfectly good one.

dk 9:15 AM  

Rex, Being as I am an unidentified link does that mean I can no longer post?

Joho, I should stick you with a fork. That was the best worst poem ever.

Attorneys General Groupie 9:20 AM  

WMD = Weapon(s) of Mass Destruction


WMDs = Weapon(s) of Mass Destructions

but I'm not saying it's wrong.

Parshutr 9:23 AM  

another hand up for Bitches Brew! Oh, and for you constructors, here are some more clues for ORNE
Dr. Martin___________ (1927-2000}
Hypnosis researcher
Was Anne Sexton's therapist, started her writing poetry.
For me, this was a totally enjoyable puzzle for a Tuesday. Easy, but hardly boring.

joho 9:26 AM  

@dk, ouch!

treedweller 9:58 AM  

I worked across the top, then down the right side, giving me ___ORETIME for the Spears song. I wondered what might precede the "wh" I wanted to put in there (and it only has to drop down one box to be there--a little editorial comment by the constructor?). That's about as much interest as I mustered for this one. Well, not quite--I did like SPORK. "Kind of Blue" is a great album, if not all that exciting as xword fill.

JC66 10:01 AM  


FYI, the Aspen/Snowmass complex still has a number of operational TBARS. They're used in both the novice slopes at lower elevations and at the top of the mountain to get to otherwise inaccessable terrain.

Stan 10:06 AM  

Second puzzle in the Boston tournament, and most solvers did well on it. Not an elaborate theme, but very smooth and pleasant to discover.

Bought "Kind of Blue" last year when I was trying to learn a little more about modes (I'm kind of a music-theory dunce). Amazing that these guys in the '50s were listening to Schoenberg and Bartok and Middle Eastern music and transforming jazz with what they learned. And it still sounds great.

SethG 10:11 AM  

I still spell Mojave with an 'h' every time. Fied that quickly. Turns out, it's the Guarana _seed_, not the root, used in some energy drinks. Fixed that less quickly.

It was still smooth enough that I unwound those to finish in solid Monday time, unless you're one of those who think the concept of "finish" requires that it be "correct". It took me over 2 minutes to find my error: MADD is not MAAD, and AAMON is the wrong spelling of the wrong classics dude.

Two Ponies 10:30 AM  

As is so often the case, I was right there with @ jesser. I like your use of unglued better than the clue.
That's my only quibble with this tasty Tuesday.
Spork is a funny word. @ joho, Your poem was terribly amusing ;)
@ Rex, Thanks for the cool friendship story.
Listening to Britney makes my ears bleed but Miles Davis made it all better. And yes, Davis is a cool name.

Two Ponies 10:37 AM  

I forgot to ask
Is this another debut puzzle?
I don't recognize the name.

retired_chemist 10:41 AM  

Nice puzzle, albeit of Mondayish difficulty as others have noted.

Got to where several of words were so obvious from crosses I didn't bother to look at the clues. Had NO overwrites. Either is unusual for me.

@joho is now our poet lorkeate. Pop the cork for a toast!

Long Time Reader . . . 10:58 AM  

@Two Ponies --

No, Alex Boisvert has 6 + 1 NYTs to his credit. Full info is available as always at Crossword Info, Jim Horne's site, which I hope is here clearly labeled so Rex won't delete it.

chefbea 10:59 AM  

Fun puzzle and love sporks!!! My mother had sterling silver sporks which we always used for icecream and cake.

chris crocker 10:59 AM  

Leave Britney alone!!

Bubble Bubble 11:22 AM  

@Rex - Do your witches use the POWDER as a dryrub for roast BABY, or POWDERed herbs in BABY stew?

Noam D. Elkies 11:29 AM  

This nice puzzle was used this past weekend at the BCPT. Will missed a golden opportunity to reclue 23D:YOHO as "Harvard fight song" (whose title really is "Yo Ho", not Yo Ho Ho).

Thanks for the reminder about Damon & Pythias. Also for the opportunity to share a factoid: even this eighth appearance of 14A:ICEAXE only ties with, believe it or not, DONQUIXOTE — one of the most common ten-letter entries, tied with EVENSTEVEN and ITALIANICE, and behind only ONEATATIME and OPENSESAME with 11 each.

captcha = adveist = somebody who'se not sure if they're an Adventist or an atheist?


Rex Parker 11:34 AM  

Seven more ICEAX hits, and that's just in the NYT.

Cruciverb has:

ICEAX(E) = 39
DONQUIXOTE = 9, with *6* of those being theme answers

Steve J 12:15 PM  

Really, really enjoyed this one. Definitely easy for a Tuesday (finished at about my average Monday time), but I liked pretty much every bit of this. I actually got the theme reveal pretty late, as I had the top two-thirds of the puzzle filled before I got to that clue, but it was a good payoff (and a true revealer, as I hadn't noticed a connection yet). And "Kind of Blue" is very justifiably a classic. Phenomenal album.

I also liked a lot of clever and fresh cluing to some of the common fill (like AFRO - I like the very fact that Jesse Jackson is an odd choice for cluing that), and I loved "Prefix for star and bucks" for MEGA. And I'm always in favor of SPORK in a puzzle.

I did raise an eyebrow at AERATION (my dictionary says it's simply introducing air, which does contain a small amount of carbon dioxide, but given how the purpose of aeration in the cases I know is to introduce oxygen, it seems an odd clue). UNGLUES as well. As I know from frustrating experience trying to build models as a kid (much like food, the real thing never looks anything like the photo on the packaging), once that glue hardens, the only way you're taking anything apart is to start snapping plastic.

Small issues in what was otherwise the most enjoyable early-week puzzle I can remember in a while.

gih 12:30 PM  

I still love Britney..

Noam D. Elkies 12:48 PM  

Well if you allow the 5-letter ICEAX then xwordinfo has ESSEX(51), RELAX(31), ANNEX(24), ROLEX(20), LATEX(19), INDEX(18), TELEX(14), SIOUX(11), and five more with 9 or 8 before we reach ICEAX(7).

I didn't check how many of the DQ's were theme entries. In any case it's somewhat remarkable that an entry with both Q and X would appear as often as that (probably because constructors like to use such strikingly Scrabbly entries when they can).


Sfingi 1:19 PM  

@Jesser - I'm with Jimmy Buffet.

Never heard of BABYONEMORETIME, and thought, did the little WH-ORE do a cover of Baby Love, My Baby Love"?

After attempting to listen to (What we in the '50s called a hoor)'s hit, was so glad to hear Sade. I must get that new CD.

Did now KINDOFBLUE, but the puzzle went too fast to analyze the other parts of the theme. Actually, not a bad theme.

Sports: Didn't know SKYDIVING had a chute. Thought the sports organization on tour was the Harlem Globe Trotters.

I remember a girl named Naomi with an AFRO in the '50s, way ahead of her times. I think she was from CA. I still like them. Natural. No greasy kid stuff.

@Steve, OldCarFudd - agree on airplane glue. It cannot be undone. (Don't sniff.) It could have been worse - UNGLUEr, reGLUEr, UNGLUiEst.

Easy puzzle, but tight.

@Doug - interesting and impressive.

@Joho - nice poem! Here's a worse one:
O'Rourke got borked,
Torqued his cork.
No more work.

@Rex - Question: What's an unidentified link, and how does it get posted?
Oh, and what's wrong with Taft, physiologically? I resemble that remark.

archaeoprof 1:19 PM  

The musical theme extends to 40A, STU Sutcliffe.

Does TERI Hatcher sing??

DFW Club 1:22 PM  

@Parshutr - Being Anne Sexton's therapist can't be a claim to fame.

andrea aly michaels 1:29 PM  

Loved this puzzle too...

I had all sorts of trouble with ALY as I think I wrote in AGA to begin with...then wanted ALI.

Didn't know the name of Miles Davis' album so I had to work hard for final theme answer.
In the end it rang a bell, and I love the title. Totally feeling it.

In honor of NAMEDROP from yesterday and all the new folks on the blog, I will mention being in the audience of "Star Search" back in the day (1987?), cheering on a fellow comedian.
I was sitting in front of Miles Davis. (Luckily not behind him or someone with a giant 'fro!)

(The comedian was Evan relation as he's kind of white. Now I see coincidentally EVAN is in the grid too!)

For some odd reason Miles was there, I think his wife was a special guest
(The phenomenal actress who played Miss Jane Pittman and used to be in everything and seems to have disappeared, including from my memory at this moment, tho I see her face)
Anyway, MD was very frightening looking, he really looked like an alien who was part giant ant and very unapproachable. I think even the ushers were UNGLUEd by him.

It was a strange incongruity of his even being at a "Star Search" taping. Almost as strange as his appearing in the same puzzle as Britney Spears.

Moonchild 1:32 PM  

I liked this smooth little number.
I always hesitate at Samson and want to spell it Sampson.
Also, where does this Prince Khan guy get off spelling Ali with a Y?
Hybrid utensil - Sport Utility Fork
Why is the plural of ox not oxes?
I'm OK with the CO2 clue as I was thinking of draft beer.

HudsonHawk 1:35 PM  

@ACME, Cicely Tyson?

Elaine 1:37 PM  

Cecily Tyson @Andrea

We agree on that AERATION business!

Also, someone on WordPlay pointed out that LANKY would be anatomical, not physiological...though 'physically' would have worked.

Sfingi 2:16 PM  

@Moonchild - Words from Anglo Saxon, or other Germanic sources sometimes hold onto the original plurals. For instance, mouse-mice is a sign that there was an umlaut in the original. Umlauts change the vowel sound, they aren't just decorative. Other Northern ways of pluralizing are "en" or "er." A good dictionary will indicate OE for Old English rather than OF for Old French and even go back in time with Teutonic (Deutsch, Tedesco) or the various Scandinavians, ON for Old Norse, etc.

@Andrea - Cicely Tyson divorced MD shortly after you saw them. I think he went schizo. There were stories of his coming to performances and not facing the audience or not even playing.

joho 2:34 PM  

@archaeoprof ... yes, TERI Hatcher does sing. I was surprised to see her perform on some TV show not too long ago ... she really belted one out. (Sorry, it was not a country western tune.)

ArtLvr 2:56 PM  

@dk -- yes, I wished for an INDIGO too...

re WMD, I always thought it was a particularly silly phrase, having to be spelled out. Better suited to induce the cringe reaction would have been "Weapons Having Achieved Maximum Mass Annhilation On Earth", thus called for short WHAMMOES. (Maybe @acme could improve on it?)

The ubiquitous posting and broadcasting of yellow or orange alerts, as in airports, was annoying too. What was one supposed to do -- run home and pack a parachute, or just stay home? Anywhere else these would have been cited as a form of psychological warfare against a civilian population. We still see the effect of deliberate agitation today!

Never mind, it was a very good puzzle otherwise.


Anonymous 3:02 PM  

You didn't know SKYDIVING had a chute?

mac 3:03 PM  

Very good, tight Tuesday puzzle. I just noticed that I wrote Simson instead of Samson, that Simpson stuff has gotten into my brain....

I followed advise this time and went straight for the theme explanation, and it panned out a few times. I think I wrote down Navy Seals before even looking at the clue, just with the v.

Love Miles Davis's music, we play it all the time. A client just left me a check and I found out her maiden name was Davis! It's more interesting as a first name, though;-).

sanfranman59 3:51 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 6:35, 8:49, 0.75, 7%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Tue 3:34, 4:30, 0.79, 11%, Easy

It looks like we got a bonus Monday puzzle this week ... and a relatively easy one at that. Maybe Will's cutting us some slack after last week's slog.

Tinbeni 3:54 PM  

Nice easy Tuesday offering.
Confidence returning from last weeks whoopings.

At the time Jimmy added that Anita Bryant line there was a hugh confab here in Florida because she was the Orange Juice spokeswoman in ads and made anti-gay comments.
The juice growers got rid of her but not quick enough.
Like his new line, too.

Liked that UNITES was above UNGLUES. Reminds me of a subliminal thought I have whenever I go to a Wedding. When is the divorce?
(Yup, always the cynic.)

@Rex Great write-up, as always, but I took a pass on the Brit. clip.

nanpilla 3:58 PM  

@sfingi: wouldn't want to try skydiving without a chute!

@moonchild : like the sport utility fork

Liked this nice, easy breezy Mon... er Tuesday.

mitchs 4:10 PM  

@Rex re tweet - Doubt if you're old enough to remember, but Betty White used to appear regularly on her husband's show "Password", which incorporated some of the same skills and crossword solving. She was a whiz at it.

Martin 4:13 PM  

"Aer-" can apply to any gas (think of "aerosol").

Aerate 3 is the sense used in the AERATION clue. While 3a is the most straightforward match ("=carbonate"), it's chiefly British usage. (But note too that the wikipedia article on Aerated water has no British usage noted.)

3b, "to make light or sparkling," has no British usage note either. We speak of a cake as being "airy" when the action of yeast-produced carbon dioxide is maximized. In fact, this is called aeration by bakers.

Would "Treat with oxygen" have been easier for a Tuesday? Probably. (The easiest clues, referring to "air" would clearly be unacceptable.) Did this one sparkle more? By definition.

Doug 4:19 PM  

Skydiving actually has two chutes; only an idiot would jump with out a reserve.

Clark 4:54 PM  

I just resaw WALL-E the other day. He brings home a SPORK to add to his collection of stuff. He waivers between putting it with the pile of spoons or the pile of forks, finally placing it on the shelf between them. Sweeter than it sounds.

@joho -- I'm quite sure that YOHO was a shout out to you. Variant spelling you know.

Elaine 5:58 PM  

Wait-- you put yeast in cakes? I hope not. Baking powder and baking soda, yes, or, more elegantly, beaten egg whites folded into the batter will produce a good cake. Yeast would not perform. But we get your point.

I don't think 'carbonating' is more Brit than American, though; I've sure heard it all my life.

For what it's worth, I read the clue and was looking to see if some form of 'anaerobic' would fit.

Martin 7:07 PM  


Good catch. I shortened my post, which had talked about aeration of both breads and cakes, as mentioned in wikipedia. No good deed goes unpunished.

A week after Passover, I'm still celebrating the return of the yeast.

Sorry about the other confusion. Brits tend to use "aerated water" for "carbonated water" more often than we do.

JenCT 8:19 PM  

Back from a long weekend in the scenic Adirondacks - love that area.

Enjoying some easy puzzles after last weeks' beatings.

Also questioned AERATION. Got KINDOFBLUE, since we have that CD.

Sfingi 8:27 PM  

@Anon302, Nanpilla, Doug - By CHUTE do you mean parachute? I was thinking, like luge or lions eating Christians or pinball. Something comes racing out. My sports knowledge is only as much as it has to be and less than you've imagined. In any case, I'd never try it for love nor money. Scrabble doesn't have a chute. Yet. I'm picturing one, now. Tiles come down right into your tray/rack as you need them.

@Martin - don't the Brits have mineral waters at Bath? Like Saratoga? With carbonation or sulfur or some fun natural additive.

@Tinbeni - I remember her. A jerk.

I tell friends that I drop off at the airport, "Hope the plane don't crash." It's kind of a good luck thing.

BTW - what is the proper way to pronounce Quixotic - Kwik zot ick or Kee ho tick. I can't stand how Brits refuse to try other languages - like Don Joo-in for Don Juan.

I'd love to see the source algorithm for the captcha.

3 and out.

JenCT 8:31 PM  

@Sfingi - kwik-SOT-ik

Sundance 9:10 PM  

I didn't know that word mewl.

Martin 10:11 PM  


The Romans built the baths at Bath. They're spectacular but no longer used for bathing. A girl snuck in in 1979 and died of a horrible amoebic infection five days later.

I don't think the waters there were ever gassy. They were hot baths and "soda springs" are usually cold at the surface.

A day or two touring Bath is highly worthwhile. Just don't drink the spa water.

sanfranman59 10:23 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:44, 6:55, 0.97, 48%, Medium
Tue 6:40, 8:49, 0.76, 7%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:34, 3:40, 0.97, 48%, Medium
Tue 3:32, 4:30, 0.79, 11%, Easy

These solve times handily beat the previous fastest Tuesday times of both groups of solvers. The previous low for the All Solvers group was 7:21 and that for the Top 100 was 3:48 (both posted for Paula Gamache's 1/26/2010 puzzle). It seems that Will's difficulty detector failed him this time around ... an impressively rare occurrence.

mac 10:26 PM  

@Martin: the Brits I know call it fizzy water.

@Sfingi: I have a friend who always tells me not to fall in the water when I travel to Europe (I'm leaving Thursday for 2 weeks).

liquid el lay 2:49 AM  

I thought the puzzle itself was a pretty enough piece..
but that the cluing was off.

Everything everyone else said, plus yams are not sweet potatoes- one's new world, one's old world.

And, skydiving is a sport?

Had fun sharing the puzzle. Everyone wanted a piece of it, so I'd ask them their area of expertise and lob them a cremepuff:

Rick the studio hair dresser was pleased to offer up STU;
Andrew, the bartender/guitar player gave BABYONEMORETIME and disavowed knowledge of the ouvre; And Buzzy the big wave surfer was quite pleased to provide AFRO.

Thanks. It was fun.

tim 4:58 PM  

Just my two cents about AERATION. For editors who might read this (does anyone check/read comments from solvers in syndication??), I think this should have been clued as a British usage. My understanding is that the American usage means exactly the opposite. The wiki aeration article says it's used to **lessen** the amount of carbon dioxide in water.

Waxy in Montreal 6:22 PM  

From SyndCity:
Another YOHO which could have been clued is the Canadian National Park in the Rocky Mountains along the western slope of the Continental Divide in southeastern British Columbia. It's adjacent to the more famous BANFF NP in southwestern Alberta.

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