Self-assembly retail chain / WED 4-28-10 / Foot to zoologist / Holders of some pipe joints / Cardholder's woe

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Constructor: Andrea Carla Michaels and Peter L. Stein

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: SPOUT (66A: Teapot part ... or a two-word hint to 16-, 25-, 43- and 59-Across) — "SP" is taken "OUT" of familiar phrases, leaving wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: KATO (28D: Green Hornet's sidekick) —

Kato is a fictional character from The Green Hornet series. This character has also appeared with the Green Hornet in film, television, book and comic book versions. Kato was the Hornet's assistant and has been played by a number of actors. On radio, Kato was initially played by Raymond Hayashi, then Roland Parker who had the role for most of the run, and in the later years Mickey Tolan. Keye Luke took the role in the movie serials, and in the television series he was portrayed by Bruce Lee. // Kato was Britt Reid's valet, who doubled as The Green Hornet's unnamed, masked driver and sidekick to help him in his vigilante adventures, disguised as the activities of a racketeer and his chauffeur/bodyguard/enforcer. According to the storyline, years before the events depicted in the series, Britt Reid had saved Kato's life while travelling in the Far East. Depending on the version of the story, this prompted Kato to become Reid's assistant or friend. [...] On June 4, 2008 Sony Pictures announced plans that they are going ahead with plans for a feature film of the superhero. Set to be released on December 17, 2010, the film is to star Seth Rogen, who will take on writing duties along with Superbad co-writer Evan Goldberg. Stephen Chow had originally signed on to play Kato, but then dropped out. Taiwanese actor Jay Chou replaced Chow as Kato for the film. (wikipedia)
• • •

A type of theme we've seen many times before and will undoubtedly see again. Even as we speak, aspiring constructors are scrawling down all the -OUT (and -IN) words they can think of. TROUT, FLOUT, STOUT, GRIN, CHIN, TRAIN, etc. I feel like Andrea Michaels herself did the SPIN version of this theme not too long ago ... and I am correct. I liked the puzzle OK, but only RING CHICKEN seemed sufficiently funny for this kind of theme. IN THE BOTTLE, on the other hand, does absolutely nothing. Just lies there. Not surprisingly, that section (the west) took the longest for me to uncover. I was looking for something more lively in the theme answer — and then MASSLESS just wouldn't come (40A: Like a photon), and I didn't (and still don't) think MOST could be a "kind" of anything (33D: Kind of votes a candidate wants). I can't think of any situation where "MOST" would be the answer to a "what kind of ...?" question. ELON (36A: North Carolina's ___ University) and ELAN (32D: Zip) just need ELIN (Woods) to show up, and they could have a nice little party. Hey, ELIN — there's the basis for your next puzzle theme right there!

Theme answers:
  • 16A: Attila, for one? (ACE INVADER) — I guess this means he's good at invading?
  • 25A: Cowardly boxer? (RING CHICKEN)
  • 43A: Where to find a genie? (IN THE BOTTLE)
  • 59A: Holders of some pipe joints? (ELL BINDERS) — no idea why this answer wasn't ELL-BINDING, a play on the more common, all-purpose word "spell-binding," and one that gets rid of the pointless plural
Revelation of the day: Tyler and Taylor were WHIGs!?!?! (21D: Taylor or Tyler). I had apparently completely blocked out the fact that that was *ever* a viable American party. This may be partly due to the fact that I taught Jonathan Swift's "Description of a City Shower" yesterday, which has the lines:

Here various kinds, by various fortunes led,
Commence acquaintance underneath a shed.
Triumphant Tories and desponding Whigs
Forget their feuds, and join to save their wigs. (39-42)

So in my mind, at least for yesterday, WHIGs were a purely London phenomenon. I was actually considering whether I knew anyone named Tyler WHIG.

  • 1A: Appetite arouser (AROMA) — Looking for an AMUSE-BOUCHE or the like. I never get AROMA when clued this way, or as a "lure" of some kind.
  • 37A: Jefferson's religious belief (DEISM) — Why some contemporary Christians believe he was one of them, I just don't know. He took a razor to his bible to extract the "supernatural" stuff (you know, the Resurrection and all that).
  • 47A: Polite reply that may be accompanied by eye-rolling (YES, DEAR) — Yeah, your wife *is* a bitch. (i.e. I do not like this clue)
  • 4D: Like towelettes, typically (MOIST) — there's a word I'd be happy never to see again. [Shudder]
  • 28D: Green Hornet's sidekick (KATO) — With the movie coming out later this year, Dynamite Comics has launched a *ridiculous* number of "Green Hornet" titles. Five of them, I think. I am reading only Matt Wagner's "Green Hornet: Year One." Wait, maybe I'm reading the Kevin Smith-penned series as well. It's a little alarming that I don't even know what's being pulled for me at the comic book store each week any more.
  • 37D: Cardholder's woe (DEBT) — was thinking of a different kind of card (playing).
  • 42D: Foot, to a zoologist (PES) — yay, Latin.
  • 45D: First pope with the title "The Great" (LEO I) — boo, random pope who's here only 'cause he's 75% vowels.
  • 54A: Self-assembly retail chain (IKEA) — "Self-assembly" sounds weird — like a robot that somehow builds itself.
  • 60D: "If I Ruled the World" rapper (NAS) — Here you go:

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Anonymous 7:23 AM  

The abuse and misuse of the "Kind of ___" clue is, far and away, my biggest nitpick with the cluing in the Times. Today's example absolutely takes the cake, eclipsing even "Kind of degree." (Answer: NTH.)

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

Wasn't crazy about Tyler (John) and Taylor (Zachary) either, but the Whig party was a major party in the US from 1828 to 1860.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

Kato is the word of the day? Over Arrau? I don't ever remember pretending I was Arrau when I was eight.

joho 7:52 AM  

Wow, I totally disagree with @Rex today! I loved this puzzle. Especially because I didn't get the SP trick for quite a while. I went back and had my aha moment at (SP)ACEINVADERS. I thought the theme was clever and fun!

Thanks Andrea & Peter!

Bob Kerfuffle 7:56 AM  

I liked it, and I would like to think I would have liked it even if I hadn't looked at the constructors' names. (It was hard to miss the self-referential shout-outs at 18 A and 31 D.)

Puzzle even tricked me into one write-over, 61 A, had ANTE before OPEN.

@Rex - Shouldn't even Jonathan Swift get a mild rap on the knuckles for rhyming "Whig" with "wig"?

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

Cannot believe that Will allowed a cross of Elon and elan? Ruined the whole puzzle for me, the NYT's is better than this.

jesser 8:10 AM  

Man, I was zipping through this one, enjoying myself, until I came to a grinding halt in the SE, where ARRAU was a WTF, and I didn't know the word 'nimbi' in the clue to 63A. And rappers? No clue. Further complicating was the WTF spelling of TYDBOL. It's really spelled that way?

Took easily as long as the other quadrants combined to make that area come together.

I thought the theme was grin-inducing, especially (echoing Rex) RING CHICKEN.

Other things to love: ABACI, RECON, CHA, ROUGHAGE, DEMUR, DEMI, SHOT and HIPS.

Today's writeover was at 12D, where I first put acTS, before Groucho's cigar showed me the light, despite its disgusting AROMA.

Always fun to see Andrea's name up at the top! You go, girl!

I once said YES DEAR (or something along those lines) and rolled my eyes. It was a bad idea.

I've never known an actual dog named FIDO.

Hijec! (too easy) -- jesser

Sandy 8:13 AM  

TYDBOL?? Never heard of it (can I put that down to being foreign-born?) so ELLBINDERS eluded me. Really wished it had been ELLINGBEES!

dk 8:16 AM  

Well I think I have been clear INRE Andrea so without a doubt I liked this puzzle.

However, it was a little like a whoopee pie (think big Oreo). The cake was the typical Wednesday (e.g., DEMUR, WHIG) fill and the sweet filling typical Monday (e.g., AROMA, SHOT).

I agree with @joho the theme is cleaver and fun. MASSLESS was my favorite and ELLBINDERS was my WTF moment.

Is SOSO here to stay.

My vote is for more Andrea and Peter puzzles. I see great potential. And, Wednesday s my favorite puzzle day so I want greatness, and I want to play 43A with a certain constructor.

*** (3 Stars)

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

I liked it, and thought it a little tougher than the usual Wednesday. I'm glad I didn't start it last night.

Had 'as to' for 'in re' initially, and had never heard of aurae or the rapper, so I had to guess. I missed. Otherwise, I was on to the theme early, after picking up the second theme answer- I was thinking Hun-something for a while with 16A.

Nice to see Claudio Arrau is a puzzle- he was a superior pianist.

ArtLvr 8:34 AM  

Andrea's co-constructor Peter L Stein got short shrift in Rex's write-up, but fun notes from him can be found on Jim H's NYT crossword blog...

I found this wacky work quite amusing, and didn't tumble to the theme device until the very end. I also scratched my head over TY-D-BOL because I could say it, but didn't recall the spelling. Amy/Orange cleared that up. Yes, there were a few rough spots, but what the ELL?

Mostly very enjoyable -- thanks, Andrea and Peter!


Parshutr 8:36 AM  

Here's what I didn't LOVE about this puzzle:

Rex Parker 8:37 AM  

No one got "short shrift." I mentioned Andrea once, and only bec. she'd been involved in the SPIN puzzle.

jesser 8:48 AM  

Such a funny word, shrift. If it were used as fill, could it be clued ANY other way than "Short ____"? I can't recall ever having heard it used without that singular adjective.

I'll cut back on the caffeine now.

nanpilla 8:55 AM  

This one took a little longer than an average Wednesday - that SE was thorny! I liked the UNSHAVEN PREACHER image.
This theme has sooo many possibilities - it must have been fun to decide which ones to use.

ARK NOTES : Noah's log book

OILER ALERT: warning to Houston players

END THRIFT : stop saving

My only quibble was with the clue for 66a: I think it should have read two-part not two-word. I don't think SP is a word even in Scrabble.

mexgirl 8:57 AM  

What in the world is ROUGHAGE??

edith b 8:59 AM  

I'm a little teapot,
short and stout,
here is my handle,
here is my . . .
I'll be damned
I'm a sugar bowl!

My father used to run this little ditty past my mother and I every year or so when I was a little girl until I left for college. We always found it 47A.

I have a taste for British humor and silly things in general. ACEINVADER . . . RINGCHICKEN Thank you Andrea and Peter.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

for a time i thought the sp came before and the out after as in
(sp)ace (out) and (sp) ell (out). while i completed the puzzle i found the wacky phrases to be lacking wit.

chefbea 9:04 AM  

Easy puzzle but didn't understand the theme til I got here.

@mexgirl roughage is all the salad stuff we eat

What are carry-on checkers=tsa???

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

@jesser..a shrift is a penance imposed by a priest. when the person had a short time, i.e. before a hanging the priest would give him a short penance.

joho 9:17 AM  

@chefbea ... TSA = Transportation Security Administration

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

@nanpilla good,sp isn't a word!

fikink 9:19 AM  

Amuse-bouche, opining on the much misunderstood Jefferson, an aversion to the word MOIST! Yipes, @Rex, this puzzle was a real Rorschach for you. Be careful, @dk will put you in a study.

I thought the puzzle was Andrea-witty and would like to know more of the collaborative efforts with Peter. Just some dynamite fill: DEMUR, ROUGHAGE, CRAVEN.
Really meaty for a Wednesday!
Nice work, guys!

retired_chemist 9:27 AM  

Enjoyable - medium. Spent about 2 minutes checking because I didn't get the theme until the very end. I had some very strange fill until then. Agree some of the theme seemed a bit of a stretch. Had TJ's belief as DEIST, which made 24D CHUT. Fixing that was my last square.

Remembered it as TI-D-BOWL, which (a) was wrong and (b) didn't fit anyway.

Regardless, solving this one was a nice way to spend halftime of the Mavericks - Spurs game. Thanks, Andrea and Peter!

dearsod - a highly insulting salutation in a letter from your British friend.

Elaine 9:38 AM  

Claudio ARRAU was a child prodigy of such talent that the Chilean legislature voted to fund his studies. He performed well into old age. We treasure our recordings (vinyl, reel-to-reel, etc.) NPR often features his performances from time to time. Not to be missed!

I enjoyed the puzzle, but the clunkiness of ELL BINDERS is rather jarring. I had the good fortune to recall that Lincoln was a Whig before helping to form the Republican first I was trying to come up with actresses' first names.

Did not know KATO or the rapper, so I welcomed the presence of Senior ARRAU and the ROUGHAGE.
@mexgirl-- actually any high-fiber food contributes roughage to your diet and promotes um, intestinal health.

captcha: fooding Good idea!

Smitty 9:48 AM  

Ok maybe I need more coffee but I still don't get it;
Can someone please explain the theme?

Smitty 9:49 AM  

Ok - just got it. I thought -in or -out were the missing links.
In the words of Rosanne Rosanadanna "never mind"

addie loggins 9:59 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, which seemed to be taking longer that usual but was actually about par for a Wednesday. Perhaps because my mind associates ACM with Mondays, I expected to blow through. Did not happen.

This was one of the very rare puzzles where figuring out the theme really helped me. I was having all sort of mind freezes in the SE, but worked through the theme to figure out ELLBINDERS, and that opened things up.

Only 8 three-letter words? That's impressive to me. Lots of good stuff -- ROUGHAGE, CRAVEN, SHIVA, DEISM. I got AROMA right away -- I think it was clued as an appetite arouser very recently (within the past week?).

Nice work, ACM And Peter. An enjoyable way to start a Wednesday.

addie loggins 10:00 AM  

@smitty You mean Emily Latella.

But, as Rosanne Rosanadana would say, "It's always something."

Ulrich 10:10 AM  

I don't know about ELL BINDERS, really--never seen them, never heard of them before. Would have preferred "remains of old flame" (URNED LOVER)--as wacky, but with more zip, no? "Questionable garage job" (IFFY LUBE) doesn't have the required no. of letters on the other hand. I wonder if Andrea will READ MY WORD...

tes918 10:22 AM  

Was stuck at ell...... then figured out the sp and ell fell into place. Always happy to complete Wednesday with Thursday looming. As always thanks Rex.

joho 10:25 AM  

@Ulrich ... URNED LOVER -- clue and answer = ausgezeitnet!!!

Van55 10:34 AM  

I'm on record as having said that any puzzle that resorts to SST or SSTS and/or a random Roman numeral arithmetic problem is a failure, no matter what. (I know that's too extreme, but what the ELL?)

Now let me go on record as saying that any puzzle that includes TYDBOL is a winner, no matter what. Hilarious!

Loved YESDEAR as well.

Droll, enjoyable puzzle. Thanks Andrea Shiva Michaels.

Colleen 10:36 AM  

Re: "moist" .... classic example of word aversion. Check it out:

dk 10:41 AM  

On the subject of TYDBOWL. Son reminded me that when I was teaching him how to hit the center of the bowl we used to draw pictures of the ty-d-bowl man and his boat on the circle tear out from the sani-seats (liberated from random mens' rooms. And, who are these mens?) and float them in the aforementioned bowl. The idea was to sink the boat and drown the man. A bit harsh but almost as much fun as when we used Ronald Reagan's image.

secret word is dines - a real word OMG

Beepa 10:42 AM  

Some Christians claim Jefferson because he wrote in a 21 April 1803 letter to Benjamin Rush: "I am a Christian...." This was near the time when he cut extracts from two copies of the New Testament in order to collect what he deemed the true sayings of Jesus, pasting them onto sheets for his own use, not discarding them as Parker states. See ,i.Jefferson's Extracts from the Gospels,i. (Princeton, 1983).

fikink 10:42 AM  

@Ulrich, URNED LOVER - hahaha, very good, especially with the flame of cremation play!

David L 10:45 AM  

This fell into place quickly, so was about the same as yesterday for me. I also don't like MOST for 'kind of votes,' and strictly speaking the name of the dance is CHACHA, not CHACHACHA (I believe there's a well known CHACHA tune with the refrain CHACHACHA, which may be what the constructor had in mind).

@Mr Kerfuffle, on rhyming Whig and wig -- depends where you're from. Most Brits and a significant portion of Americans don't aspirate the 'WH' sound, in which case the words are true homonyms.

Two Ponies 10:45 AM  

Very nice to see Andrea's name on a Wednesday.
Interesting fill with a chuckle or two. What else can a Wed. give us?
Some suggestions posted here would have made it even better esp.
@ Ulrich. Fantastic clue and answer!
The SE was toughest for me. Bewtween the unknown pianist and the crazy commercial name I slowed way down for a bit.
Craven was a great word but wasn't what I was expecting for that clue.
Nice job Peter and Andrea.

Two Ponies 10:52 AM  

@ dk, Love your toilet game!
Very funny and clever.

foodie 10:54 AM  

I thought this was a smile-inducing puzzle. MASSLESS is great! Such an unusual concept that applies to so little in nature. And there was a lighthearted feeling about the whole thing. Beyond the theme answers, there was the PEAL of laughter, the RIOT, the swinging HIPS, and the oddly named TY D BOL. I thought that the cluing for MOST was purposefully tongue-in-cheek and I liked the word echos-- ELAN/ELON and AURAE/ARRAU. Puzzles are about playing with words and this is a kind of wordplay.

The combination of Attila and YES DEAR reminded me of a guy I know who called his wife "Attila the honey". I think may be she's ex-wife by now...

Thank you Andrea and Peter. I think you're a great team.

PS. @Ulrich, I love your suggestion!

lit.doc 11:06 AM  

So like twenty minutes in (a not-unreasonable Wednesday time for me) I’m staring at a filled grid. Except for square 63. @Andrea vorpal blade Michaels and @Peter Stein, you beat me with that one cross. A really obscure sense of nimbi crossing a know her/him or don’t.

On the bright side, the “Out, damned ‘SP’ot!” theme was very cool, and I enjoyed the solve. Except for that damned spot in the deep south that was sooo much harder than the rest of the grid.

And FWIW, I’ve been an avid DIYer for years, and if “‘L’ binder” is a plumbing term actually in use on this planet, I look forward to being corrected.

archaeoprof 11:09 AM  

Apropos of nothing, AROMA is the name of the most successful chain of coffee shops in Israel. They ran Starbucks out of the country a few years ago.

But in Ramallah and Bethelem, one can go to "Stars and Bucks" coffee shops. The logo looks so familiar!

@Ulrich: ACME & Peter should bring you in on their next puzzle!

syndy 11:11 AM  

@peter l i think thats the point.Rhyming to(the love is still showing) and two would not fly.loved the puzzle ;suspect rp is trying to avoid appearance of favoristism and being unduly harsh.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

Re; Kato, Japanese invasion of Manchuria on, and (sp)urious ethnicity (I know, I know ... I just wanted to use (sp)),

Read under RADIO

Bzzzzzzzzz (The Flight of the Bumble Bee)

syndy 11:17 AM  

wow that didnt come out right micalar-my balloon

Clark 11:18 AM  

Just a quick note, cause I’ve got a breakfast date with ACME. Yeah! I just wanna say that MOST is beautiful just because it is so wrong in just the right way. MOST can’t be a ‘kind’ of anything but in the puzzle it is a kind of somethingS. It determines not a singular vote but a group of votes. The clue clues the strangeness of it.

Martin 11:19 AM  

I'm with Anon 7:23.

I call them "sea anemone" clues (a SEA is not a kind of anemone). I understand that it's a convention -- "kind of" is shorthand for "word that is used to modify" -- but American crosswords shouldn't involve the solver knowing special conventions. It seems counter to their philosophy.

The only other kind of clue that I can think of that is arguably conventional is the "verb it" clue, like "Eat it" for DINNER. I don't like those either, for the same reason. "Eat it" does not define DINNER. The solver must know that the object is being clued, according to a convention. In other words, part-of-speech equivalence is sacrificed since the desired entry corresponds to "it," not the entire clue. I am not fond of these at all.

HudsonHawk 11:36 AM  

I thought it was a solid Wednesday puzzle. My quibble is with 49D. ENERO is not a summer month in some parts of South America, since a good chunk of the continent is in the northern hemisphere.

For my friends in the airline industry, TSA=Thousands Standing Around, or Toothpaste and Shampoo Authority...

HudsonHawk 11:40 AM  

Oh, and another chunk of the continent speaks Portuguese, not Spanish, and that month would be Janeiro...

Rex Parker 11:40 AM  

Jon Meacham, "American Gospel" (2007):

"[Jefferson] once spent a few evenings in the White House going through the gospels with a razor, excising passages he found implausible in order to arrange his own version of Jesus' teachings." (4)

Jefferson also called the concept of the Trinity "the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves priests of Jesus." (4)

Unless you think Meacham is a lousy historian, and that William F. Buckley Jr. would blurb a book with such egregious errors.

daisy 11:51 AM  

Thanks Rex and CHUMs. I'm really getting the hang of these puzzles thanks to you lot. And I LOVE the songs. Never heard of Nas. Love the Genie song -- Now i'm in a groovy mood - til tomorrow a.m.
pip pip

Texas School Board 11:54 AM  

Here in Texas we have banished Thomas Jefferson from having been one of the founding fathers. Separation of Church and State - aethistic drivel.

lit.doc 11:54 AM  

@HudsonHawk, laughed till I cried when I learned what TSA actually stands for.

Enrque Jorrin 12:09 PM  

@ David L - Cha-cha-cha is the name of a Latin American dance of Cuban origin. It is danced to the music of the same name introduced by Cuban composer and violinist Enrique Jorrín in 1953. This rhythm was developed from the danzón by a syncopation of the fourth beat. The name is onomatopoeic, derived from the rhythm of the güiro (scraper) and the shuffling of the dancers' feet.

foodie 12:27 PM  

@Clark, breakfast with Andrea, heh? Are you all in LA? I hope someone will report

@Martin, I see what you mean about the solver needing to know special conventions. But I wonder whether that in fact runs contrary to their philosophy. You provided a couple of great examples and I believe there are more. I only started solving regularly a couple of years ago, and at some point I realized that this type of stuff was precisely what I needed to learn-- beyond crosswordese, a number of strategies that the NYTimes uses to allude to established phrases that could, at times, be construed as misdirection. I got from being unable to finish a Tuesday to solving Saturdays (more or less) by learning a whole different way of reading clues. May be it is not their conscious philosophy but I'd venture to say that it might be part of Will's idea of requiring a high degree of mental flexibility on the part of the solver.

David L 12:46 PM  

@Enrique -- thanks for checking in and telling us about your music! According to Merriam-Webster, chacha is the English name for the dance that Spanish speakers call cha-cha-cha. Didn't know that. I guess that clue was secretly asking for a non-English answer....

andrea no SPring chicken michaels 12:48 PM  

Hi! Just popping in for a second bec I'm meeting @Clark for breakfast (he's en route to the SF airport) and he's stuck on the bridge!

I'm chuckling over @Anon 8:03 am
bec that was Will himself who put that ELAN/ELON cross in!
We had SPOUT where DEMUR is now...
and he felt (rightly) that SPOUT should be the last word of the puzzle.

After TWO failed attempts by me to rewrite the SE corner (We had ELLCHECKER ("Building addition inspector?" where ELLBINDERS (?!) now resides... Will or some other god (Does DEISM cover that?)
provided the fix. It must have been a lot of work for someone to rebuild that whole I appreciate that instead of tossing out the baby with the bath water.

ELLBINDERS surprised Peter and me, but the decision to have SPOUT as the last word seems right in the end...literally!

And @Rex is dead right...Michael Blake and I did indeed do the SPIN puzzle in Oct '08, which inspired Peter Stein, (an old dear friend who is this genius who makes me redundant as he can do EVERYTHING better than I can! My only solace is I can beat him in Scrabble. And for a time he had yet to have a puzzle published! Uh oh, better study my J words...)
Peter was indeed inspired by the SPIN to try SPOUT, and came to me with the idea, so those fun entries are mostly his. (Maybe ALL his, I will have to check the notes, as we created this years ago)

Anyway, I laughed at @Rex's list and just MAY try to make a puzzle with every one of those! (I particularly like TROUT!) ;)
Just trying to expand beyond Mondays and love the whole collaboration thing!!!

And if it's any consolation, I kind of don't get the kind/MOST clue either!

Rube 12:49 PM  

I thought this was a great puzzle, with just the right level of difficulty for a Wednesday. I had lots of holes in the East when I fell asleep over it last night. Had to work at them, but finished without Googles this morning.

Would have sworn that the Latin root for foot was PEd. Checking up, see that it is indeed "Pes Pedis", masculine. Along the same lines, I didn't know nimbi, but thought it may be the Latin plural of nimbus or clouds (it is) which are the AURAE around saints in paintings, giving me the A for the middle name of some rapper who I've never heard of and don't want to hear of again.

Like many here, the W in square 21 was my last letter. Got fooled by "summer month in So. America". Wanted Junio or Julio. Then reread the clue. Didn't like DIDUP, and NAS of course. Thought the clue for MOST was great crosswordthink. Have no objection to MOIST and can't see why anyone would object... at least in this context.. must be some subconscious fetish.

tomwp 12:52 PM  

Thought this puzzle was absolutely brutal for a Wed. TYDBOL crossing PEAL, AURAE crossing ARRAU, that SE corner was a nightmare. Terrible. I'm furious now. Day ruined.

Martin 12:54 PM  


Good point. I should have been more careful to draw a distinction between these clues absolutely being part of WS's philosophy (he uses them consciously and they are not errors) and my objection to them seeming to be outside the "rules of engagement." British crosswords require you to know conventions of clue construction. American crosswords are not supposed to. They require you to know some obscure words and navigate some wordplay, but in the words of WS:

No matter how tricky or misleading the clues, they will always follow a fairly strict set of rules. Most important, a clue and its answer will always be expressed in the same part of speech and as a rule must be interchangeable in a sentence, with the same meaning each way.

I argue that these clues suspend Will's rule of interchangeability, although in a predictable way signaled by the form of the clue.

I find exceptions inelegant. But I recognize (and I encourage all solvers to be on the lookout for) these signals and admit they add some richness and complexity to the experience, albeit at a cost in elegance.

retired_chemist 1:04 PM  

I vote for Martin as the Founding Father to replace Jefferson in Texas textbooks. Thinks broadly and expresses himself well, which is more than I can say for the Texas School Board. At least Don McLeroy will soon be out.....

bluebell 1:17 PM  

I didn't do well today, but have had such fun reading the blog that it has all been worthwhile.

Isn't the result of Jefferson's razorblading called the Jefferson Bible?

MikeM 1:19 PM  

MOST Votes? Kind of bogus. And missed a perfect opportunity to mention Ralph Malph of Happy Days - played by Donnie MOST

Joe the Plumber 1:26 PM  

@Martin - C'mon, just say it. You know you want to. You can do it - it won't kill you to be one of us. Say it - The cluing for MOST sucked! There, you did it. Let's go for a brewski!

Two Ponies 1:30 PM  

@ Colleen, Thanks for the link re: moist hatred. Evidently Rex is not alone. There must be something about that particular diphthong because goiter and ointment give some people the same reaction.
Although a moist cake is a good thing,right? Go figure.
Also thanks to Anon. 9:09 for the lesson on shrift.
I learn so much on this blog from the tangents the puzzles create.
Andrea, you took the mild critizism with grace and good humor. No big surprise.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

And [Arctic floaters] are ICE ISLANDS, and [Dense fog on display] is LIT PEA SOUP. Given ELL CHECKER and these, BINDERS? And yes, MOST is not a kind. What was he thinking?

todd 1:45 PM  

I take issue with the "Tyler or Taylor" clue and its answer "WHIG." John Tyler was in fact a lifeline Democrat-Republican. He ran as vice-presidential candidate with W.H. Harrison in 1840 on the Whig ticket--his placement on the ticket was a shrewd political move on the part of the Whigs. When Harrison died after a month of office, Tyler Democrat-Republic nature was unleashed and clashed with the Whig Congressional majority.

I therefore think this clue and its answer are erroneous.

Masked and Anonymous 1:48 PM  

@Andrea SP Michaels: Really cool to have both a SP-in and SP-out NYT puz published, IMO. Kinda like a matched set. Congrats and thumbs SP-up to you and Peter Stein.

your average blank 2:45 PM  

@addie beat me to the punch with Emily Latella.
Do you know Roseanne's boyfriend's name?
Great puzzle and write up.

andrea whigged out michaels 2:45 PM  

I'm loving the other entries this is in--iring!!! Esp @Ulrich URNEDLOVER!

@masked and anonymous
Maybe I will go for SHIN/SHOUT!
Who wants (sh)in?

@Clark is the delight you would imagine he would be...He even explained to me why the MOST clue worked! AND we discovered our bdays are but two days apart!

Were all your collective ears burning? Long discussion on what this unique community @Rex has created means to us...

archaeoprof 3:11 PM  

While we are discusssing the norms for cluing, we might notice that the clue for 37A ("Jefferson's religious belief") was _very_ well-constructed.

DEISM was/is a religious belief, not a religion.

jesser 3:20 PM  

Country music, on the other hand, IS a cult. I drank the Kool-aid!

lillian 3:32 PM  

I agree: moist is such a horrible word!

archaeoprof 3:37 PM  

@Jesser: amen, brother!

Three and out...

sanfranman59 3:48 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 12:10, 11:50, 1.03, 62%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:18, 5:49, 1.08, 77%, Medium-Challenging

Kudos to Andrea & Peter on a delightful puzzle. I'm pleasantly surprised that this one's looking like a Medium-Challenging rating. I posted my 5th fastest time of the 47 Wednesday puzzles I've tracked. I guess it was just one of those days when I was on the constructors' wavelength. I fully anticipate being shot down in flames with Thursday's puzzle.

bookmark 3:50 PM  

@bluebell: Yes, it's called the Jefferson Bible and is available in bookstores and from Amazon.

Tinbeni 3:55 PM  

@Rex and apparently @lillian
What is so wrong with the word MOIST?
Would you prefer that your towelette was clammy, dank, drippy, or soggy? geez.

@andrea whigged-out michaels
I liked your puzzle today but I must admit the one you DIDUP for @PuzzleGirl last weekend was more fun.

VENI, vidi, veggie!
I came, I saw, I had a salad!
Need a little ROUGHAGE with a SHOT of my avatar.

syndy 4:07 PM  

If Mr. Tyler was elected VP on the Whig ticket I'm content to call him a Whig no matter how he quacked later.WasnT Aaron Burr founding father of TExas

mac 4:26 PM  

Thank you, SanFranMan, for the rating: I had at least three thorny areas, and it took me longer than the Wednesday usually does! Like that!

I needed the spout to get the theme, so I stared at the ell binders for a bit. Is "did up" a Britishism? Are there any demi-deists?

I laughed when "most" became clear, thought it was punny, and TYDBOL was a great answer, and also. Nimbi was the little rubber cartoon character until I realised it was a plural, and "pes, pedis" I recalled from Latin.

@Archeoprof: London has a chain called "Aroma" and it always feels sort of Italian to me.

@Clark: so that's what you meant earlier in the week! I'm sure you had fun.

@Andrea: can we expect a Thursday soon?

fergus 4:46 PM  

Another idea for you, Andrea:

LIT INFINITIVES -- Inebriated basic verb forms? This has the double IN along with the SP out. And has the added frisson of irritating grammar cops.

JenCT 5:08 PM  

RINGCHICKEN - the fate of old hens?

Liked the puzzle, but DNF - got hung up at AURAE, ARRAU, and had TIDBOL instead of TYDBOL. Also thought the answer was PED, not PES.

Don't have a problem with MOIST - when I bake, I hope that the cupcakes turn out that way, and not dry.

retired_chemist 5:21 PM  

OK - it's 5 o'clock somewhere.

OILSPORT - catching greased pigs; also see

OILS OF WAR - Martial arts?

ARSE MATRIX - a rectanguar grid decoration on underpants

IKE TV - Mr. Turner's (or Gen. Eisenhower's) old network

READ-EAGLE - description of Don Henley's autobiography

LINE FUNCTION - "y = mx + b"

INNING WHEEL - odd device for keeping track of baseball games. SO SO bad - time for another glass of Shiraz.

JenCT 5:25 PM  

Just read all the turkey responses from yesterday - glad to see there's so many turkey stories!

I think they're so funny-looking that they're cute. "Mine" is really enjoying the chicken scratch that I put out for her.

Glitch 6:27 PM  

ACM & PLS - Congrats!

No, not for the puzzle (tho I liked it), but for an even greater accomplishment.

RP rated it a *medium*, early SanFranman59 returns indicate *Medium-Challenging* and no one (unless I missed it) kvetched *It shudda been a Thursday*!

A rare achievement --- a Wednesday with a grarly SE on a Wednesday, with little or no D-of-W objection.


Stan 6:39 PM  

Nice balance between DEMURe wit and UNSHAVEN ROUGHAGE.

@blog: Great alternative themes.

Historical note: The SHORTZ RIFT occupied much of the theological world in the era of LEO I.

chefwen 6:44 PM  

And what could be better than a nice, MOIST, roasted turkey.

Loved the puzzle but had to resort to a couple of Googles, which is something I loath to do esp. on a Wednesday. I figured out the theme early in the game and it was a big help.

Thank you for a fine puzzle Andrea and Peter.

Sparky 7:41 PM  

No timing for me today. Worked hard. Thought ancient invader with every other letter left out but that didn't pan out. Lots of interruptions. Friend in for lunch. Finally came to blog which was informtive and amusing. I don't think sp out is two words though. If anything, it's three. So combo good Wednesday but a bit annoyed. You are right, it's always something.

Anonymous 8:22 PM  

glitch: What is D-of-W objection?

Anonymous 8:23 PM  

glitch what is D-of-W objection?

mac 8:45 PM  

@anonymouse 8.23/8.22: I think he means day of the week objection. We tend to complain about the suitability of the puzzle to the day...

Beepa 9:15 PM  

Re the Jefferson reference in Parker's bullet notes, the point is he extracted from his bible verses that he wanted to save for continued study and reflection. He did not discard them. Meacham meant to write "plausible" instead of "implausible," thus creating the impression that Jefferson tossed what he cut out. Later in life, he compiled another version of these verses, and that is often published as the Jefferson Bible. The first compilation is not extant, but has been reconstructed by using Jefferson's notes and the two bibles he cut from. All of this, as well as every letter he ever wrote on the subject of religion, may be seen in JEFFERSON'S EXTRACTS FROM THE GOSPELS (Princeton, 1983), now out of print but available in most academic libraries.

Sfingi 9:49 PM  

The puzzle was good but above my ability. Did not know what a Norris Trophy was, or ARRAU, KATO, NAS or ELON. Had "Duke" for ELON and never let go of it. Didn't know what a "pop" was or whether ROMe or ROMA was wanted. Chose ROMA, luckily. Had "Marzo" and not ENNERO. Had "Paw" before PEd and never got PES. TY-D-BOL has dashes, so I didn't see it. In any case, despite a gettable theme, had a mess in the middle west and southeast.
Wait 'til next year!

@Mexgirl - more on roughage - pronounced ruffage, is good for you as it cleans out your "standines" as the Italians say, and prevents colon cancer.

@Jesser - shrift is from shrive - to hear a confession. (Some say to cofess, but they are wrong.) It is what the priest does. Thus, Shrove Tuesday, shriving time: shrive shrove , has shriven. Appears in S.
"Rather he shrive me than wive me."
Merchant of Venice. I know it's in Romeo and Juliet somewhere, too.

@Ulrich, Nanpilla, RetChem - love it! These are difficult. lashboard - Navy punishing tool. I can't do any better than that!

@Edith B - like that one, too.

Moist - isn't that what a harelipped pig says?

sanfranman59 10:05 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 6:00, 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

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

fikink 10:07 PM  

@fergus, "frisson" - lovely use of the word!

captcha: hensping - predicting consequences

Donald 10:22 AM  

Kato... prior to WWII, Kato was Japanese, but when Pearl Harbor happened, he was changed to Filipino. I think his name also might have been changed from Cato to Kato.

Masked and Anonymous 10:45 AM  

@Andrea SH Michaels--Nah! Go for the trifecta, darlin'! Do one of them letter substitutions this time. Like sub "M" for "SP" (or viceyversa), and have a reveal answer of SPASM?

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP