Textile city of north-central England / MON 4-26-10 / Widespread language East Africa / Early Fords that put America on wheels / Bygone love interest

Monday, April 26, 2010

Constructor: Lynn Lempel

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "PLAYING WITH FIRE" (37A: Doing something risky ... or a hint to the last words of 18-, 24-, 49- and 58-Across) — theme answers end with LIGHT, HEAT, FLAME, and SMOKE, respectively


Word of the Day: LEEDS (50D: Textile city of north-central England) —

Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the wider West Yorkshire Urban Area, which at the 2001 census had a population of 1.5 million, and the Leeds city region, an economic area with Leeds at its core, had a population of 2.9 million. Leeds is the UK's largest centre for business, legal, and financial services outside London, and according to the most recent Office for National Statistics estimates, Leeds is the fastest growing city in the UK. [...] Leeds has a diverse economy with employment in the service sector now far exceeding that in the traditional manufacturing industries. In 2002, 401,000 employees were registered in the Leeds district. Of these 24.7% were in public administration, education and health, 23.9% were in banking finance and insurance and 21.4% were in distribution, hotels and restaurants. It is in the banking, finance and insurance sectors that Leeds differs most from the financial structure of the region and the nation. The city is the location of one of the largest financial centres in England outside London. Tertiary industries such as retail, call centres, offices and media have contributed to a high rate of economic growth. In 2006 GVA for city was recorded at £16.3 billion, with the entire Leeds City Region generating an economy of £46 billion.
• • •


Solved this one very differently than I normally do — opened it in the kitchen and called out the Across clues to my wife as she was cooking. Together, we tried them all in order, without looking at any of the Downs. Shockingly (to me), we got every single answer that way save one — AT STAKE (44A: Being risked, as in a bet). We also misguessed MODEL AS instead of the correct MODEL TS (28A: Early Fords that "put American on wheels"). Wife came up with PACK LIGHT (18A: Common advice to travelers) almost instantly, and I did the same for DEAD HEAT (24A: Race that finishes in a tie), and from that, we inferred PLAYING WITH FIRE, and from *that* we got OLD FLAME (49A: Bygone love interest) as well as (after much thought) the most recalcitrant of the Acrosses, HOLY SMOKE! (58A: "Omigosh!") We had to look at the the Downs only to get crosses for AT STAKE, and only needed the first two to figure it out. I don't know if this would have played any faster than usual if I'd been solving normally, but it really felt astonishingly easy, even for a Monday.



The theme seemed pretty rudimentary. Proceeded along fairly typical lines, i.e. take a familiar idiomatic phrase, and then use it as the basis for a handful of theme answers – here, linked loosely by last word. FIRE gives off LIGHT, and HEAT, and SMOKE ... doesn't really give off FLAME. It is FLAME. But close enough for ... whatever the expression is. I want to say horseshoes, but that's a different expression ("close only counts in horseshoes and hand gernades").



Bullets:
  • 3D: Adorable zoo critters from China (PANDA BEARS) — "Adorable" seems pretty subjective / unscientific. Are they really any more "adorable" than the AGOUTI? (OK, yes, they probably are, but I just wanted to say AGOUTI because I can't get that animal out of my head since I began reading "Swiss Family Robinson" with my daughter — the AGOUTI is one of a shockingly large number of exotic animals killed within the first two chapters of that book — a dog devours a monkey, the dogs and boys absolutely destroy a handful of jackals, the youngest boy clubs an unsuspecting penguin in the head, gives it to his mom to cook, and then saves its feet and beak to show his dad and brother, etc. It's all horrifically, hilariously brutal).
That's all.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

72 comments:

Clark 1:21 AM  

I have finally caught up. On the road, staying with non-wi-fi dead-head family in Morro Bay, I got behind, but had fun doing it. Took me a while to do Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Happy belated birthday Puzzle Girl; hope you're feeling better Jesser. Fun smooth Monday puzzle. Nice to solve without brain strain. Looking forward to a special week -- I won't say why. Yet.

andrea kookla michaels 2:27 AM  

Wow, @Rex, you could do this without the downs?!!
Maybe I should have tried it that way bec I did my usual get a word then do the down off those letters, so the whole SE corner was a mess with tails instead of MANES, EXtol/EXALT
so AMANA was -- AIT for a bit.

I can never decide between plot and plan but it was actually PLAN + PLOT = PLAT!

I'm not sure I entirely understand this theme, but I like that PLAYINGWITHFIRE is a 15...But I think I would have liked the answers to actually play WITH fire, like have each phrase begin with or be followed by fire. I don't know, I'm half-asleep.

Also I wanted PACKLIGHTly. So I thought it was a rebus or something. Is the phrase PACK LIGHT? I am a terrible overpacker, so maybe that's why, maybe I don't even know the correct phrase!
I don't have much but I like to take EVERYTHING I own and then have a choice...plus shoes shoes shoes. And what if I need "X" (you can subsitute anything lying around on my desk, in my room, kitchen for that)
I have even packed cans of tunafish and cereal for no good reason.

Anyway, @Rex...I needed all four crossings for HOPI!

49D ONKEY looks like a headless DONKEY or MONKEY to me.

And of course, I hardly need to elaborate my shock to have HOLYS---- and not be able to come up with the answer without all the downs...I was lucky loon and KOOK both accidentally have double OOs.

chefwen 2:28 AM  

Super easy Monday, no write overs, no mistakes, no nuttin, just breezed through it.

PACK LIGHT is my number one motto. Just entertained a couple visiting from Oahu who had a suitcase that our two medium sized dogs could have fit into. ????.

Gubdude 6:29 AM  

Thought this was a very easy one. Didn't really stop moving throughout the puzzle.

My only holdup was not being able to see the K in KNEED. I just wanted a vowel as the first letter. Other than that snafu, no problems.

jesser 6:47 AM  

I did the puzzle just fine and then came here to find the carnage of agoutis, jackals, a monkey and a defooted penguin! They cut off his GIO! I may have to have bourbon before breakfast.

The puzzle: It was easy, but also sparkly. Mr. ASHE and the ANISE herb are a little well-oiled in cw world, and the AMANA corporation must pay for a regular mention, but this one was otherwise delightful in most every nook and cranny.

Highlights: FRINGE, YOKEL, KOOK, HOSED, MRIS, ACES, MODELS Ts and SKYS.

The theme held together for me, and I loved the Batman moment at HOLY SMOKES! If you didn't catch Adam West on Jay Leno the other night, you missed a treat. Love that hokey old KOOK!

My only holdup in this whole puzzle was 53D, SHUL, which I did not know (pleads guilty to Methodist upbringing), but the crosses rescued me easy-peasy. I learned URDU from crosswords, or I might have Naticked over there. I grin every time I see Alan ALDA. Loved his swan song in The West Wing. I'm sure the Swiss Family Robinson would have garrotted the swan.

Thumbs up from pre-dawn N.M., where I'm feeling well enough to resume my work schedule. Thanks to Clark and everyone else who wished me well. Your wishes worked!

Dolty! (What Adam West adorably was on 60s TV) -- jesser

dk 7:38 AM  

I would have been an all across contender except in a moment of weakness I filled extol only to find I erred. A oneway ticket to palookaville... sigh

Fine Monday fare.

Speaking of movies -- Took the step twins to see Kick Ass on Sat. We are still laughing.

Swiss Steak Making of all Rodents Family Robinson -- I do not remember the characters but I do remember the tree house and visiting same at Disneyland. How did the Penguin get to the tropics? Does the DTRAIN run there?

** (2 Stars)

tptsteve 7:58 AM  

I, too found it easy, but unlike our fearless leader, I needed some of th downs. I read the clue for 9A as a verb, and needed the downs to anser; same with 44A.

Shul was gettable, but probably not a Monday word.

@AKooklaM- no Fran or Ollie?

PIX 8:12 AM  

Leeds is most famous-at least to many of us- from the famous "The Who, Live At Leeds Album"...thought for sure Rex would have a song from the album featured.

joho 8:14 AM  

I'll add hot candle WAX and bright SKYS to the theme which I found odd.

I still enjoyed PLAYING WITH FIRE and am waiting for somebody to say that he/she crashed and burned.

Elaine 8:24 AM  

@Rex
Just wait til you get to the ONAGER further along...

This one was indeed Easy, but it seemed like a lot more fun than the usual Monday.

Still in 'recovery mode' after our trip (Fri-Sat-Sun.) Vicksburg managed to dodge the bullet, but we saw the tornado's path as we headed back home, and we passed ten electrical crews from Arkansas crossing the Mississippi on their way to assist with the devastation. (The TV news keeps saying 'damage,' but that word is not nearly big enough.) Husband successfully celebrated the big Six-Nine Birthday, and we enjoyed the visit with our daughter.

OldCarFudd 8:43 AM  

Easy but fresh and pleasant. Any puzz with a shout-out to Model Ts has to be OK.

Ruth 8:58 AM  

Boy, the Rolling Stones video sure shows how far the art form has come! Who on earth thought it was a good idea to have all five of them sitting there doing NOTHING while Mick mouthed the words? I did note Brian Jones' lips move (as if involuntarily) on the chorus during the latter half of the thing. Breathtakingly dull.

Cute puzzle, no groaners.

chaos1 9:03 AM  

@Elaine: Well, I guess that means the Blue gills are officially off vacation right ?

mac 9:15 AM  

Easy but very good. I'm adding FUEL to the theme, and how about burning at the stake? Ash(e) and logs?

I am always admonished to "pack light" but I've given up trying. I always use the same medium size suitcase and fill every inch of it. It is heavy. Shoes!

There seemed to be a good number of fresh medium-sized words, like (weak)-kneed, on key, exalt and hosed. It just generally felt crisp. Another good Lynn Lempel.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:30 AM  

I was surprised to see LEEDS as the Word of the Day, but only because I hadn't even noticed it as I did the puzzle. I've done my share of travel in Britain, but never passed through Leeds; really just posting so I get the follow-up comments emailed to me!

chefbea 9:43 AM  

Easy Monday. Was finished before first cup of coffee.

Last night I made the sorrel that I bought at the farmer's market the other day. Did not like it.

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Close enough for government work.

Chefbea, you cooked a horse?

nanpilla 9:50 AM  

@mac: Took the bonus theme words right out of my mouth! Also put WAX candle in there.

@old car fudd: thought of you immediately with MODEL T.

Made me think about STARTING FIRES
as a theme with things like:
BURN NOTICE
FLASH MOB
ASH BLONDE
MATCH MAKER
CINDER BLOCK

too bad I could never write one of these things.....
that's why my....

Hats off to Lynn for a smooth Monday solve.

addie loggins 9:53 AM  

My fastest Monday since I've been keeping track -- a nice confidence builder before the LA Tournament.

I agree with ACME that the gramatically correct phrase would be "pack lightly," but also agree with Lynn Lempel that the common advice is "pack light." I also agree with ACME that it's questionable advice -- I tend to pack heavy myself.

hazel 10:04 AM  

Snappy little puzzle.

Panda Bears are in fact adorable - we've had 2 born in our zoo here, and they created quite a stir with their adorableness - when they're born, they are the size of a stick of butter. I have heard pandas are not adorable at all in the wild - as in they are shy/irritable/vicious and really don't like anything but their bamboo shoots, and occasionally each other.

Either way, I'm always telling everyone setting out on a vacation to PACKLIGHT!!! I taught myself to pack lightly by getting rid of wheeled luggage. One rather smallish - might hold 30 pounds - backpack and one carry on. No more than 2 pairs of shoes!! and the iPad gets to come now.

We've just decided we're going to Slovenia and Croatia this year (sorry Mt. Lassen, maybe next year?) - so if anyone has any tips, suggestions on that area, please email me!!

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

It shouldn't be "pack lightly." In the phrase, "Pack light", the word "light" isn't an adverb modifying the manner in which you pack (i.e, the act of packing); it's modifying the suitcase (or bag, or whatever). The phrase "pack light" is just an idiom that shortens all that ("pack a light suitcase" becomes "pack light".) No one literally means "the manner in which I pack is light."

Rex Parker 10:13 AM  

"Government Work!" Thank you.
rp

Van55 10:15 AM  

Fine Monday fare with almost no crap fill. Well done!

Two Ponies 10:32 AM  

I enjoyed this "bright" little Monday puzzle.
I got beat to the punch by some of our regular posters (inc. Anon 9:47for govt. work) but enjoyed the little hidden theme answers.
Leeds Castle is worth the stop if you are in the area. It has a great shrubbery maze.
After years of backpacking I truly am the queen of packing light. I can go anywhere in the world for weeks at a time with only a purse and a carry-on. Life can be very simple that way.
It sounds like Disney did some serious story editing on SF Robinson. Big surprise.
Secret word - loophy. Pet name for your bath sponge?

foodie 11:08 AM  

Rex, I wish you hadn't said that! Agouti, I mean. I'm having to really bite my tongue not to tell you about a very interesting gene called Agouti which affects not only the color of fur but appetite. No Agouti? The critter is blond and really fat. Nuff said.

"PACK LIGHT"is my motto and I've turned it into a science. I've lost way too many suitcases, especially on overseas flights that I try to take the essentials on board and limit the damage with the rest.

The puzzle was easy, one of my very fastest. It felt like a very smooth solve. I liked it but did not love it.

Tinbeni 11:16 AM  

This YOKEL found no FLAW in this easy Monday.

Though the thought of some OLD FLAMEs did cause me to pause and enjoy some memories of my bygone days of PLAYING WITH FIRE.

archaeoprof 11:21 AM  

I think I know why this puzzle was good, but did not delight.

It doesn't have any references to country music!

Aside from that, I thought it was kinda spunky.

jesser 11:33 AM  

@archeoprof; You kiddin' me? You have a YOKEL LYING AWAKE crying about his OLD FLAME and thinking of PLAYING WITH FIRE by spending a HALF DAY pursuing her. HOLY SMOKE! This KOOK is really under her SPELL!

It's practically a Merle Haggard concept album!

jesser 11:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
lit.doc 11:36 AM  

Ok, so two rabbis walk into a bar and order mitzvahs...

Hey, it’s Monday. And the puzzle was perfectly Monday—straightforward clues and just a bit of basic crosswordese. Only bump for me was the cross of SHUL and URDU, and that only because my brain has cross-wired ERDU and URSE for some reason.

John V 11:36 AM  

@Rex, also stumbled on 44A, had plan, not plat and couldn't see it. Grrrr.

Otherwise, as easy as they come.

Sparky 12:11 PM  

First time on blog. Hello. Easy today, no complaints. Use Erasable pen. Used to do all across first, then all downs, then fill in blanks (one hoped). Enjoy the blog tho I'm a total dunce with the computer. I'm not even sure this will register. Any rood, I'll be back.

lit.doc 12:25 PM  

@Sparky, hi! I find the computer very dunce friendly, as I can change my bad guesses repeatedly without wearing holes in the paper.

There's erasable pen for newsprint?

Rube 12:38 PM  

My only writeovers were EXtol/EXALT and PLAn/PLAT, and I'll argue about the latter as developers may use a Plat for a subdivision, but a builder only needs his building Plan. Besides... yes, Wikipedia says that Plat is American while the same thing is a plan in Canada.

Remarkable to have a WOTD in a Monday puz: SHUL. Easy and enjoyable. A pleasant way to start the week.

archaeoprof 12:56 PM  

@Jesser: it's good to know there is a kindred spirit out there.

bluebell 1:09 PM  

I too thought plat was the layout of the subdivision land--but I suppose a builder has to consult that too. At any rate I was caught and had to change my n to a t. But the change helped me get at stake, so all is good.

I didn't know shul, but fortunately got it from crosses.

A good start to Monday.

andrea holys---- michaels 1:40 PM  

@bluebell
It should be "I didn't know FROM Shul" but that would be a paradox, bec if you knew THAT phrase you'd probably know SHUL...

(@Jesser
as a methodist, you can ignore that attempt at a little Jewish humor!)

All said, SHUL is a bit hard for a Monday, but now that everyone has pointed out the myriad hidden extra theme answers, I am much happier with the puzzle.

SHUL I believe is where we get the word "school", as the whole concept behind Jewish temples are places of reading the Torah and studying...that might help folks remember...plus "Rabbi" means teacher.
This has probably been discussed.
I think Conservative and Orthodox Jews call their places of worship/study SHUL and Reform Jews call it Temple.

@dk
No shout out? Have I become an OLDFLAME already that has been dowsed? ;)

Extra puzzle alert!
For those who need yet another puzzle fix (in addition to this one and BEQ's and the LA Times, etc.) and who don't ordinarily do the Saturday puzzle,
@Rex has generously provided a link to another puzzle at the end of his Saturday write-up.
(Doug "Swedish-sounding" Peterson, Addie Loggins and I threw it together to honor our gal PuzzleGirl)

Stan 1:48 PM  

Pleasant, breezy Monday. Nice avoidance of crosswordese, which I'll bet is harder than it looks.

Greatly admire people who can pack light but I'm in the opposite camp. How can you know what you'll need before you get there?

fikink 1:48 PM  

Yipes! How old is Mick in that video?!

Jeez, remind me never to read Swiss Family Robinson.
Hand up for EXTOL first.
PACK LIGHT is as off to my ear as "Drive safe."
@lit.doc - I always want to spell URDU with an initial "e" for some reason, too.

@Rube, in rural areas, a builder definitely needs the PLAT.

mac 2:04 PM  

I'm probably going to have a do'h moment, but what is this about "Government work"?

@Sparky: did you ever work in a dentist's office?

Zeke 2:20 PM  

@mac "Close enough for government work" was the phrase Rex was looking for in his write up when musing about the appropriateness of FLAME as a theme word.

jesser 2:30 PM  

@Andrea: Thanks for the disclaimer. For the record, I was raised Methodist but decided in my 20s that organized religion is patently evil and divisive, so I do not subscribe to any of them. I'm one of those hippie 'One Human Family' types. Fortunately, the New Mexico desert is festooned with windmills. Wild Hair and I do our share of tilting. HUGS!

@Archaeoprof: Come visit the Robledos Mountains with me and I'll show you some world-famous fossil beds. We'll listen to Merle, Willie, Waylon, Tompaul, Jessie, Johnny, Jimmy, etc., on the way to the site. Wild Hair loves country!

Three and out!

Bob Kerfuffle 3:13 PM  

Re 33 D, "Builder's map" and the discussion of PLAN vs. PLAT: I think most commenters are taking too narrow a view of the word "Builder." An organization like Toll Brothers calls itself a builder, but as they say in their promotional material, they build communities, not just houses.

(I do not live in a Toll Brothers community, and I have no financial interest in the company. It's all just words to me.)

Elaine 3:41 PM  

@Chaos1

Well, tonight is vegetarian, but I admit that Sunday night we had brown rice topped with crispy little bluegill tidbits and fresh garden asparagus. Now I have to go weed my asparagus bed and look for a few red worms :0)

@Rex
That's 'Close enough for gubmint work,' actually. Generally said with toothpick in mouth.

Joe 3:51 PM  

OLD GODS ALMOST DEAD

Excellent Stones Bio from 2001.

sanfranman59 3:56 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)

Mon 5:55, 6:54, 0.86, 16%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:20, 3:40, 0.91, 28%, Easy-Medium

chefwen 4:31 PM  

@Stan - That's why God invented stores.

Sfingi 4:37 PM  

Easy. USA Today was harder.

Chefbea - How did you prepare the sorrel?

Shul is from German Yiddish, Hochdeutsh, even.

Leeds has a pretty good University, I hear.

I always thought the words to My Old Flame were stupid:
My old flame,
I don't even remember his name.

Nutcase Helmets

tptsteve 4:41 PM  

@bluebell- How ironic that you got shul from the crosses

Luke 4:42 PM  

Back in 2001 when people were still getting used to this hip thing called the internet, I got a Hotmail account. I needed two words to form an e-mail address. I got one of those vocabulary books they give you in elementary school and went to the index and picked two random words. One was YOKEL. It's been a favourite word of mine ever since.

Also, easiest Monday I've done in a while. I consider it easy if I get sub-10 minutes but today was sub-7 minutes. Things just clicked.

foodie 4:47 PM  

@mac, re "close enough for government work" implies that the standards are lower... (I think).

We try not to think that way, given that we get government (NIH) money for our research. But just this morning, I was struggling with formatting a grant report and was being perfectionistic, and then told myself to stop it, it was surely cefgw...

chefbea 4:49 PM  

@sfingi I sauted the sorrel in a little olive oil along with some onion and garlic. Ten added some chix broth and it turned into horrible slime.

Rube 5:29 PM  

@tptsteve, you gave me the best chuckle of the day.

Sparky 7:23 PM  

@lit.doc. PaperMate EraserMate works just fine on newsprint. @max.Not a dental tech. A bureaucrat most or worklife. My father nicknamed me after Sparkplug, Barney Google's horse. I'm an old gal who will remember WW II trivia. I'm so touched people responded that I'm tearing up. Thank you.

CoolPapaD 7:43 PM  

@tptsteve - That was pretty damn funny, but....

@ACME -Your "I didn't know from shul" entry easily wins funniest comment of the day.

@Sparky - welcome! This blog is the source of much knowledge, laughs, and motivation (after hearing how people finish a Saturday in less than an hour....). You are now officially hooked!

michael 7:45 PM  

Agouti seem adorable enough...I regret to say that I've eaten agouti more than once, in both Peru and Belize where my hosts served them to me and it would have been rude to refuse. The taste was unmemorable....

PuzzleGirl 7:47 PM  

Fastest Monday so far this year. But I felt like it had enough interesting entries to keep it, um ... interesting. Sorry, it's been a long day.

THANK YOU belatedly for the birthday wishes over the weekend. I wasn't online much over the weekend, but I did read the comments and, of course, solved the unbelievable puzzle Andrea, Doug and Elizabeth made for me. I'm verklempt!

I'm pretty sure the original phrase was actually musically oriented: "Close enough for jazz." Then it turned into "Close enough for rock and roll" (as in the John Mellencamp song). Not sure when "Close enough for government work" came along but I'd bet it was later. Of course, I could be totally wrong.

Welcome, Sparky!

michael 7:49 PM  

Queen Elizabeth was also served agouti (locally known as "gibnut") when she visited Belize. It caused something of a furor in Britain.

Elaine 8:16 PM  

@puzzlegirl

Oh, for sure 'Close enough for gubmint work' came before any modern rock n roller or jazz musician used the phrase. I think it originated in Ancient Rome, possibly.

mac 8:19 PM  

@Zeke and @Foodie: thank you. I really had no idea.

Welcome, Sparky, to a great site!

sanfranman59 8:23 PM  

FWIW, according to Wiktionary, the phrase "close enough for government work" "Originated in World War II. When something was "good enough for Government work" it meant it could pass the most rigorous of standards. Over the years it took on an ironic meaning that is now the primary sense, referring to poorly executed work." Unfortunately, as with all too much information on Wikipedia, whoever entered this information didn't include a source.

Stan 8:53 PM  

Maybe the phrase should be "close enough for Wikipedia."

archaeoprof 8:53 PM  

@Sparky: welcome! Do you like country music?

Sfingi 8:58 PM  

@Chefbea - I've only had sorrel as a garnish or straight out of the garden when I'm pulling weeds. It's too bad it turns slimy. That's why I hate okra - only ok for crosswords. I do swear by milkweed buds, boiled in water with the water changed 1-3 times. It has its own signature veggie taste.

@Sanfranman - sounds about right.

fikink 9:30 PM  

@Elaine, et. al., "close 'nuf for gubmint work" is just too cynical in my estimation. But what do I know, I am just a YOKEL.
Nice sneering!

sanfranman59 10:15 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

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:19, 3:40, 0.91, 26%, Easy-Medium

In spite of the Easy-Medium rating in the Top 100 group, this puzzle has the 5th fastest median solve time of the 45 Monday puzzles in my spreadsheet and the 3rd fastest for the All Solvers group. After I have a year's worth of data, I plan to start reporting percentiles that are specific to each day of the week rather than using the ratios of all puzzles as the basis for the percentiles. For example, while the Top 100 ratio for today's puzzle places it in the 26th percentile of all 261 puzzles in my spreadsheet, it's in the 11th percentile of the 45 Monday puzzles (5th out of 45 = 11th percentile). This method will better control for the floor effect for the fastest solvers in early week puzzles (i.e. a human can only read puzzle clues and key in answers so fast).

foodie 10:23 PM  

We the people of Rexville could write to Freakonomics the blog and ask them (Fred Shapiro) to research the origin of the government work expression. They love to do that, and keep an ongoing column on the subject of expressions and their origins.
(although I agree that what Sanfranman describes sounds plausible).

@archaeoprof, I think you're channeling @chefbea. Except she used to ask newcomers if they loved beets.

@Sparky, do you eat beets while you listen to country music, as you're solving the puzzle?

Anonymous 10:26 PM  

as she was packing, i suggested,"holly go light!"

Tinbeni 10:56 PM  

@Sparky
Welcome to the party, gal!

I toast you with my avatar.
Pinch, snifter, neat.

Cheers!

edith b 12:37 AM  

@sparky-

Nice to welcome another woman to the crew. I really like the fact that this blog is ecumenical in scope.

A very lovely puzzle from the Queen of Monday although nice to see acme checking in. I'm not Jewish but I know from SHUL.

Elaine 3:47 AM  

@Sfingi
(Leaping to the defense of okra) Try it pickled! No 'sliminess' at all, plus delicious. (Actually, I love it in all forms and grow a few plants of a 'burgundy' variety. Yankee husband won't touch it, so it's all just for me. It turns green when I cook it--a light saute in butter. Goes well with bluegill. :0) )

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

pandas are not bears!

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