Disk-shaped sea creature / TUE 5-4-10 / Poet who originated phrase harmony in discord / Battlefield doc / Horseshoers' tools

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Constructor: Doug Peterson

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: All About the Washingtons... — theme answers are phrases that end in words for a one-dollar bill

Word of the Day: MARIANAS Trench (39D: ___ Trench (deepest point on Earth's surface)) —

The Mariana Trench is the deepest known part of the world's oceans, and the lowest elevation of the surface of the Earth's crust. It is located in the western Pacific Ocean, to the east of the Mariana Islands. The trench is about 2,550 kilometres (1,580 mi) long but has a mean width of only 69 kilometres (43 mi). It reaches a maximum depth of about 10,916 metres (35,814 ft) at the Challenger Deep, a small slot-shaped valley in its floor, at its southern end. [One problem: I'm not seeing the "S" on "MARIANAS" anywhere except in some band's name... oh, wait, I'm seeing a few "S"-versions of the actual Trench now ... weird that it is apparently acceptable in "S" and Non-"S" versions]

• • •

Back home in NY and up at my normal ungodly hour so I'm jetlagged as all hell. Thank god I already did this puzzle this past weekend, as the second puzzle at the "Crosswords L.A." tournament — this means that I basically pre-blogged it in my head while I was sitting there in the judges' room, and so don't have to do much original thinking this morning. Plus, I was smart enough to jot down all my notes last night, when I actually (re-)did the puzzle, so I'm about to go onto something like autopilot. Forgive me.

Really liked this one — it's Tuesday-easy, but with a pretty solid five entries and great long, open corners in the NW and SE. I can tell you that the most common errors on this puzzle in the tournament were UHOH instead of OHOH (14A: Anticipatory cry) — an understandable error, but one that a simple checking of crosses should have taken care of. RUSETTA Stone? No (1D: Stone discovery site => ROSETTA). The other sore spot was the far NE, where all kinds of devices got shoved into the grid where CAMS (10A: Video recorders, briefly) was supposed to be. Mainly VCRS, but also some DVDS, I think. VCRS at least gives you a semi-plausible answer at 11D: Pretty good grade (A MINUS) — I guess a C MINUS is "pretty good" if you've, say, spent most of the semester getting high, or never done any of the reading. Otherwise, people mostly finished this one successfully. I don't know what the deal with the "S" in MARIANAS Trench is — no one said a word about it at the tournament, but the more accepted name appears to be just MARIANA TRENCH. Discuss.

Oh, one other issue. SOFT SHELL ... CLAM? Many, many people (including yours truly) had never heard of such a thing and instinctively entered SOFT SHELL CRAB in that slot. However, a simple check of crosses revealed the actual answer in short order. Mercifully, there is no such thing as a thunder CRAP (34D: Sound of thunder => CLAP).

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Disk-shaped sea creature (SAND DOLLAR)
  • 24A: Shift blame to another (PASS THE BUCK)
  • 35A: Chowder ingredient (SOFT SHELL CLAM)
  • 49A: Hit that just clears the infield (BLOOP SINGLE) — I had POP-UP SINGLE here at first, as that is what "-P SINGLE" suggested to me. BLOOP is much better.
  • 58A: Auto-racing designation (FORMULA ONE)

  • 1A: Dudley Do-Right's org. (RCMP) — Had to stop and think about the particular letters and their order here. RCMP (for "Royal Canadian Mounted Police") doesn't exactly trip off the tongue.
  • 65A: Horseshoers' tools (RASPS) — honestly, I don't know what these are / do. Apparently, "In farriery, rasps are used to remove excess hoof wall from a horse's hoof." (wikipedia) — I really wish "farriery" had been in the clue (not a Tuesday word, I suppose).
  • 8D: Union with 3+ million members, in brief (NEA) — would prefer if clue was topic-specific. Easy enough to get, but kinda dull (though, to be fair, I'm not sure how you spice up a clue for NEA).
  • 45D: Poet who originated the phrase "harmony in discord" (HORACE) — I may just be learning this phrase today. I read HORACE's "Ars poetica" once. It's more famous for giving us the term "in medias res."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


OldCarFudd 7:24 AM  

Puzzle tournaments are good even for those of us who can't go, as they seem to produce better published puzzles the following week. This was a good one. Knew RCMP. Had never heard of soft-shelled clams. Definitely better than an A-minus.

The Mariana(s) Trench goes down further than Mount Everest goes up!

joho 7:25 AM  

It was nice seeing Doug Peterson's name at the top of the puzzle after seeing his picture with @Rex and @PuzzleGirl yesterday.

I thought this easier than Monday and a lot of fun. Only blips for me were aHaH before OHOH and aFlaMe before ABLAZE plus I wanted DVRS for CAMS.

I wonder if 10D is a shout out to Doug's fellow constructor, CALEB?

My only quibble is SOFTSHELLCLAM. I've never heard of one which definitely doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but crab is a better answer. @Rex CRAP of thunder:LOL.

Thanks, Doug!

dk 7:35 AM  

On the crab side. SOFTSHELLCLAMS generally occur after a red tide and are to be avoided.

Had VCRS for CAMS, but because I have a PHD and a few AMPEREs running through my little gray cells I knew c minus was not a pretty good grade. I am as deep as the MARIANAS trench dontcha think.

I have bored you all before with my MENSA story, suffice to see seeing the word always makes me smile -- Hi Linda.

The rest of the puzzle -- what Rex said.

*** (3 Stars)

Bob Kerfuffle 7:39 AM  

I was zipping along through the puzzle (a good one to be sure), composing in my head my "This is easier than Monday's" comment (well, except for having had HTTP before I was guided to HTML -- just ignorance), when I hit the SW.

Like Rex, I had POPUPSINGLE before BLOOP, and also ZACK Braff before ZACH, which really slowed me down.

I await futher explanation on SOFTSHELLCLAM.

JannieB 7:45 AM  

Loved this puzzle - really solid theme and interesting fill.

I think "thunder crap" is a very descriptive phrase, when needed. Enough said.

Tom 7:45 AM  

While there may not be "thunder crap," recall that Mick, while training Rocky, stated that Rocky was going to "eat lightening and crap thunder." So is that "thunder crap??"

jesser 7:58 AM  

I had many of the same BLOOPs that Rex and the rest have pointed out, BLOOP SINGLE being right up there. I have never read or heard this term, and if not for the Downs screaming at me that pop up Was Not Right, I'd have never come up with it.

I loved 1A, because I loved Dudley Do-Right as a kid. He saved me from uttering bad words at writeovers all over the damn place: CrAb gave way to CLAM only when the MARIANA Trench had to go in at 39D. Like Rex, I've never heard the 's' used, and I used to live in the Philippines, so to make it fit, I spelled it MARIANna Trench. The PEST set me, well, not straight, but you know what I mean.

Things I loved: GRR, DUPE, MENSCH, AMPERE, TONIER, CLIMAX and GUM UP. If not for Dudley Do-Right, you all would be subject to my tirade about the spelling of 32D.

I thought the theme was pretty cool.

And that will be all. Busy day ahead in Jessville.

Dedase! (What you get when you sit too long without moving) -- jesser

Mary 8:06 AM  

Soft shell clam? Clams don't shed, the shell grows with them. Boo hiss.

Horace 8:27 AM  

Quid velit et possit rerum concordia discors

What the discordant harmony of circumstances would and could effect.

Book I, epistle xii, line 19

Nancy in PA 8:45 AM  

Maybe you have to be from New England to know soft shell clams, also known as steamers. They just have shells more brittle than those of Quahogs--not actually soft as in molting crabs. They are delicious though the digging is hell on the hands (if you use a rake you break them).

mac 8:48 AM  

Very good puzzle, with only one piece of discord in the harmoneous whole: most clam chowder recipes I know use cherrystone clams, or other hardshell clams, chopped. Soft shell clams are steamers on the coast of CT.

@Rex: thanks for the hilarious write-up! My husband thinks I'm nuts laughing at my laptop....

Smitty 9:04 AM  

TONIER? What's that?

chefbea 9:07 AM  

Good puzzle Loved all the $ names. Love clam chowder and of course Stan the man

What in the world is tonier??? Never heard of that word???

PIX 9:12 AM  

Many Sat. nights my wife and I will go to the local fish restaurant and have a big serving of soft shell clams (= "Steamers") with butter and some cold beer. Delicious. Rex, if you are ever passing through Massapequa NY, its my treat! Problem is the hard shelled clams are the ones usually used in a chowder.

SethG 9:12 AM  

When [Soft-shell clam] was the clue for STEAMER in the December 30 LAT, I researched and found out that "Soft-shell clams have thin, brittle shells, a longer siphon, and a siphonal gape on the posterior end. ". Today, I remembered.

I imagine that TONIER means "more tony". My only slow-up was the spelling on the trench-with-the-extra-letter.

Smitty 9:18 AM  

GOOGLE dictionary
tonier comparative; toniest superlative
If you describe something as tony, you mean it is stylish and sophisticated. Adjective US
Synonym classy
...a tony dance club in Manhattan.

umm,,,, if you say so...I guess...

chefbea 9:31 AM  

So if you are invited to a tony/posh party...do you have to get a perm????

Tinbeni 9:47 AM  

"CRAP of Thunder" is that last sound the golfer, who was struck by lightning, heard.

@SethG: I remember that LAT and looking up SOFT SHELL CLAMs, steamers, at that time, also.
Always like a payoff.

This was FUN.

Not going to PASS THE BUCK on any temporary miss-steps.

Megan 10:17 AM  

So I *think* the deal with "Marianas" is that the trench is named after the islands (which resulted from the subduction occurring at the trench; geology two days in one week is great!), and because there are many islands in the chain, "Marianas" is acceptable. However, Wiki lists the islands as either Mariana or Marianas. And of course Wiki is never wrong, so... maybe that's just something to watch out for.

Zee Rocks 10:22 AM  

TONIER is what I put in my COPIER. :)

BTW< The New Scientist magazine uses "Marianas Trench."

mexgirl 10:23 AM  

I know the group of islands as "las islas Marianas", so MARIANAS TRENCH seems only logical, since it refers to the trench that's below the whole group, not just one Mariana island.
Fun puzzle, this one!

hazel 10:27 AM  

Great puzzle - had to check my crosses (twice!) before I finished. My mom used to call dollars/money semolians - it was always associated with a "pile", never just a few. I hope it doesn't have some horrific origin. as in semolians are a people somewhere. I've googled, to no avail, so I still don't know how the word came to be. It seems unlikely they are a people, though.

I think I heard both Marianas and Mariana in grad school - either seemed plausible. I did a little research, and it was President George W. Bush who proclaimed the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument a United States National Monument in 2009, which doesn't really clarify anything.

Goodbye rain! Finally! Hello garden!

@Megan - I'm with you on the geology!! Both my husband and I are geologists!! I'm looking forward to seeing pahoehoe one day!!

DBGeezer 10:27 AM  

Apparently there is a song entitled MARIANAS TRENCH

Luke 10:33 AM  

I had MARIANA for a while and saw a missing letter. I went to Google to check if I had spelled it wrong, but nope, I was right. I've heard of the Marianas Islands but not the MARIANAS trench. Oh well. Was easy enough to get on the crosses.

1A was a cinch for me being a Canadian.

Despite being a huge Scrubs fan (own all the season on DVDs) I still spelt it Zack Braff.

Scrooge McDuck 10:35 AM  

@hazel -

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Simoleon may refer to:

* a slang term for a dollar.
* Simoleon (currency), the basic unit of currency in many Maxis games, including SimCity, The Sims and The Urbz.

Michael Quinion 10:39 AM  

@hazel -

Here is the history of the word "simoleon."

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

Great write up and ok puzzle. My hand's up for thunder CRAP.

Isn't tonier the stuff you put in a copier?

hazel 11:01 AM  

@Michael Quinion - thank you so much!! That is EXACTLY what I had been looking for. Awesome site too.

@Scrooge - Thank you also - I had seen the Wikipedia stuff, but my mom is 78 and was using the word long before there was an internet, much less a computer game!! It is v. interesting to see that those games have adopted simolean as their unit of currency.

Thanks again to you both.

jesser 11:06 AM  

I'm with @Hazel. I'd lava to see pahoehoe show up. AA, too!

I am patting myself on the back for not having commented on 62A. Just so everyone knows. :-)

Martin 11:23 AM  

So much clam trap here. I did chuckle at the notion of a clam molting.

Softshells are a species of clam and they are usually called "steamers" in the northeast. In New York as well as New England, steamers are consumed by the gallon as a first-course in fishhouses. They have thin shells that don't quite close completely and are fragile and almost papery, so that can be easily broken with the fingers. For West Coasters, they look a lot like tiny versions of our geoduck. (For New Englanders, a geoduck [pronounced gooey-duck] is a gigantic clam that looks like a four-pound softshell, and makes very tasty sushi when sliced paper-thin.)

Softshells are also fried in Ipswich, MA and environs and produce one of the great meals from the sea that way.

Most chowder in New England is made clam with the familiar hard-shelled clam (mainly because softshells are too good steamed or fried to chop up for chowder), but a very luxurious chowder made in southern New England uses softshells. In most of New England, the larger hard-shelled clams used for chowder are called quahogs. Family Guy viewers know how to pronounce it.

I suspect very few New Englanders and few New Yorkers were surprised by this entry.

heron237 11:24 AM  

I am from Cape Cod and have been "quahogging" for many years and make my own chowda. I can tell you that you NEVER use soft shelled clams for chowder. One uses hard-shelled clams for that purpose (the quahog). The answer to the clue in this puzzle is plain wrong.

Retired_Chemist 11:24 AM  

FWIW a geoscientist colleague of mine at UT-Dallas does/did a lot of his research on the Mariana trench. His scientific publications say "Mariana Trench," but in some of the popular press his work is described as on the "Marianas Trench." One of the latter was in the Marine Corps Times, interestingly. Whichever, it wasn't a solving problem.

CAPTCHA = thine. Shouldn't be a word...

Enjoyed the puzzle - medium indeed. Wanted AH HA! for 14A first. Filled in BLOOP SINGLE without a cross after realizing that TEXAS LEAGUER has one too many letters. Also thought it would be SOFT SHELL CRAB (not CLAM) but had MARIANAS already, so no. Otherwise I would have had thunder CRAP and 39 D would have been a B??????? WTF. Other gimmes: RCMP, AUEL, MENSA, AMPERE, OREIDA, ZACH, UCLA, AMEN, ETD, etc.

Interestingly, these are all acrosses and probably gimmes for many others of us. If the puzzle were rotated on its main diagonal, the answers would be same but the acrosses would be downs and vice versa. I wonder if that would have turned an average Tuesday into a medium-challenging Wednesday for the (many?) across-first solvers like me, since the longer downs were harder.

Anyway, thanks to Mr. Peterson.

Noam D. Elkies 11:25 AM  

Nice Tuesday theme, with even some longish Down stacks in the corners.

Re 35A: "thunder crap" is funny, but anyway the theme excludes "soft-shell crab".

39D:MARIANAS Trench I knew (though I needed a few crossings to bring it back to mind; only now do I notice the crossing with 41A:ANAS). Not so bloopin' 49A:BLEEPSINGLE. Fortunately all the crossings were easy, at least once I got away from "trees" for 36D:TRAPS...


Two Ponies 11:34 AM  

This was the puzzle in L.A. that made me most aware of the timer.
I was blanking in the SW because I could not remember the Scrubs guy, I've never been to Turkey, and don't ask me about baseball.
I did know Stan but he's famous.
Favorite word was cosmic but I wasn't too fond of the clue.
It was nice to meet Doug Peterson.

Martin 11:38 AM  


Here is one chowder recipe that calls for softshells. I have lots more. As I said before, softshell chowder is unusual but very tasty.

Steve J 11:40 AM  

Back (here and doing the NYT daily) after a bit of a break, and it's been a nice return. Both Monday and today came easily for me, but they were both solid, fun puzzles. I certainly don't mind ones that are easy for me when they've got quality as these have.

I did hesitate a bit on MARIANAS, but somewhere in the recesses of my mind I recalled seeing it that way (after briefly considering that maybe there was an extra N I wasn't aware of). Having grown up in the Midwest (where the thunderstorms can be so severe, I'm surprised they didn't crap on occasion) and spent half my adult life on the West Coast, I'd never heard of SOFTSHELLCLAMs, but crosses (and the theme) made it clear.

My one amusing hesitation came with HTML. I read the clue too quickly, and thought it was WWII code. When I filled in the crosses, I was quite perplexed, as I know I'm older than HTML, and certainly not as old as WWII. Had to reread to figure out what was going on.

Here's hoping Wednesday continues the trend of high quality fare.

Dough 11:42 AM  

Meet the Clam Family

I believe the hair product Toni is so named to give it a touch of class (by ref to the word tony)

Good solid puzzle today. You get your money's worth!

Doug P. 11:44 AM  

I remembered learning about the MARIANAS Trench in grade school, so I was a little surprised to see that MARIANA was also an option. But I found solid support for both spellings, so I figured it was cool.

It was lots of fun to score this one at the LA Tournament & see which "traps" were tripping up solvers. The best alternate answer for CAMS was BETA.

@joho - 10D is indeed a shout-out to wunderkind Caleb Madison.

@Rex - A+ for the Mariano picture!

poc 11:46 AM  

Nitpicks for today: 1) shouldn't INFO have been clued as an abbrev.?, and 2) a CAM is not a video recorder, it's a camera. Lots of recorders are not cameras, lots of cameras are not recorders. Debatable I know, but still.

retired_chemist 12:01 PM  

@ Doug P - thanks for dropping by. My CAMS was first VCRS - obviously wrong in retrospect, since the clue would then have been People Mag level/style. Wouldn't need to be a MENSA member to see that.

Masked and Anonymous 12:05 PM  

Gotta go thumbs up for all the puzzes this week, as they were provided gratis to the LA charity tourney.

No grid trouble for me today. Like most Tues-Puz offerings, clues are pretty darn straightforward. "Short smoke?" put out a few sparks, at least. M&A not-so-Tues clue for WATER: "What comes up in the spring?"

Watched "At The Earth's Core" lately with the French subtitles on, so we are now armed, masked, AND dangerous, if Shortz plays the French card again...

Doc John 12:17 PM  

I've always thought of it as MARIANAS and that's the way I've heard it pronounced on the various science TV programs in which it's been featured.

mac 12:17 PM  

@Martin: a few weeks ago I had a small order of fried "belly" clams, the best fried clams I've ever had, and 1020 Post Road in Darien. I just looked it up and they are steamers! Thanks for your always thorough info.

Zeke 12:38 PM  

For the, probably, thousands of you out there who really care about farriery, the most important use of a rasp in shoeing a horse is to level the hoof sole prior to nailing on the shoe. The hoof is first pared with a knife of the 1/8 to 1/4 inch of sole, and then leveled with the rasp, as depicted in the picture. Without the leveling, the bumps left by the knife will result in pressure points, likely resulting in corns which will render the horse lame. The final step is to remove some of the hoof wall so smooth it out with the outline of the shoe itself, and to round off the edges of the hoof. Important, but not nearly so much as assuring a flat hoof sole.

william e emba 12:55 PM  

I've got you all beat! I put in "Texas" SINGLE before I noticed Texas was all wrong. I was, I now realize, thinking of the phrase "Texas leaguer", which happens to be a synonym for BLOOP SINGLE.

I don't think I've actually encountered the phrase "Texas leaguer" since childhood. Yet it popped in, sort of, instantly, whereas the phrase that I most definitely have heard repeatedly, BLOOP SINGLE, never occurred to me until I had several crosses.

Otherwise, a pretty easy Tuesday.

Van55 1:09 PM  

Enjoyed this puzzle thoroughly. Finished with no false starts or write overs.

I had never heard of soft shell clams, but see that they're steamers by another name. I also had never heard of crab chowder (vice crab soup), so opting for CLAMS was easy for me.

Steve J 1:20 PM  

@poc: "Info" is a common word in colloquial English. I don't think it requires an abbreviation marker anymore than radar or laser (both of which are acronyms) do, since the usage of the shortened form is so common.

As far as CAM, I've never heard "cam" in reference to a still camera (and I'm a still photography geek). I'm sure it's occasionally used as such, but it's used frequently as shorthand for a video camera.

Speaking of video recording devices, my first instinct when I came across that clue was to enter DVRS. I haven't even owned a VCR for about eight years now. That actually helped me, as I left that one blank until I started getting some crosses, since I had thought either DVRS or VCRS could go. Good thing I did, else I would have gotten stuck for a moment.

Clark 1:34 PM  

I remember learning MARIANUS with the 's' in grade school. I remember, because the nun who taught us (don't remember which one) was very enthusiastic about this bit of knowledge, and her enthusiasm was infectious. The idea of vast deep valleys under the surface of the ocean just seemed very cool to me. But, I had absolutely no idea last night whether it was -AS or -US -- until the crosses cleared it up.

On the subject of thunder CrAPS, it has always seemed to me that we are very fortunate that what falls from the sky when it rains is just water. @Rex, you have added a hilarious new wrinkle to that reflection.

chefwen 1:43 PM  

I swear to God that this is not a reflection of my lifestyle, but I put in hit at 53A first. Hand up also for pop up and httm.

Fun Tuesday puzzle, thank you Mr. Peterson

poc 1:44 PM  

@Steve J: laser and radar are not abbreviations. Info is certainly in wide use, so I guess it's a grey area.

Also, I said nothing about still cameras. In fact I was thinking about web cams when I wrote that. CCTV cameras would also count, possibly also studio TV cameras. None of these record video in themselves but at least some of them get to be called "cams". Again, it's a nitpick, not a full-throated complaint.

bluebell 1:44 PM  

The last letter I filled in was the g in single, because I was parsing it bloops in blank le. I gave up and read the science section, then came back, and there was bloop single, clear to the mind's eye. I could do crossword puzzles much better if I were a baseball fan.

I wrote in soft shell clam without a second thought. I'm a west coast person born and lived, and it seemed perfectly natural to me.

archaeoprof 1:48 PM  

The most famous BLOOP SINGLE of all time: Joe Morgan, Cincinnati Reds, top of the ninth, game 7, 1975 World Series.

As Carlton Fisk said, the Red Sox won that Series, 3 games to 4.

Martin 2:01 PM  


The only entry that will always be signaled an abbreviation is one that is normally printed with a period and is not prounounced as written. We say "appointment" and "Friday" when reading "You have an appt. next Fri." so these are true abbreviations and will normally have a signal in the clue.

Words with dictionary entries, like info, are not abbreviations and should not be clued as if they were. Anagrams and initialisms like TGIF and NASCAR are not ordinarily given an abbreviation signal, but could be early in the week. There are some grey areas, but the black-and-white rule is "signal it if it's expanded when recited."

Sfingi 2:55 PM  

@NancyPA - good description.
To comment further, people like steamers because they're fishy, so if you like mussels, you'll like 'em. They can also be steamed in beer. There is a special rake, too, and people make their own rakes. Even commercial diggers have to do it by hand. So far, I don't think there are any laws limiting them, as there is with lobsters. softshell box-style rib-rake

Had a Nattick at BLOOPSINGLE (sports) crosses ZACH, as far as I never heard of either.
Wrote Inuit before ALEUT.

I have a special problem with the MARIANAS Trench in that I don't believe Jacques Piccard ever went down 7 miles in the bathyscaphe with US Navy Lt. Don Walsh at the rate of 5 hours down and 3 hours up, in 1960. The pressure would have been too much. I believe he was jealous of his father, Auguste, and other family members who broke ballooning records, or he was just nuts. He phonied it up. No one else has claimed half that in a manned craft. Walsh is 80, now. Can anyone convince me?

jesser 2:59 PM  

@Sfingi: I don't think USS Enterprise Capt. Jean-Luc Picard ever visited the Mariana Trench. That was probably Jacques Cousteau. Then again, who knows with that 'beam me down' business. ;-)

3 and out!

Shamik 3:08 PM  

Subjectivity is a dangerous thing. Thought I was breezing through this one only to find it in the medium-challenging range with one wrong letter. Again...when will I learn to check my crosses? Otherwise, enjoyed the puzzle.

deerfencer 3:13 PM  

Great puzzle! SOFTSHELLCLAM was a gimme (I'm from from CT; Martin is dead on) and one of my favorite answers. All in all a very clever, zippy, and imaginatively themed solve. Bravo Mr. Peterson!

Tinbeni 3:20 PM  

Sfingi never quotes B/S.
If you google Jazques Piccard and Don Walsh you'll learn about the January 23, 1960 feat they claimed. Yet no one has come close to.

Enjoy your lame joke.

Steve J 3:29 PM  

@poc: Good point on the cams. As I alluded to, I have a strong bias toward still photography (it's a big hobby of mine), so that's where my mind jumped. You're correct that not all cams record, but many do. Personally, I think the clue is fair, much in the way cluing, say, OTOE as a Plains resident doesn't mean to indicate they are the only residents of the Plains or that they live only there.

As far as radar and laser, they are acronyms. In the most literal sense of the word, they are not abbreviations (although people frequently use abbreviation and acronym interchangeably). But they are nouns that shorten up the full name of each device (RAdio Detection And Ranging, and Light Amplification by Simulated Emission of Radiation). My point in referencing them was not that they're literal abbreviations, but that certain shortened forms become words in their own right, and that INFO fit into that category.

JenCT 3:39 PM  

Always learned it as MARIANAS Trench, so no problem there.

Haven't heard the term BLOOPSINGLE. (Football fan here, not baseball.)

Never thought of MENSCH as a stand-up guy; only makes me think of Woody Allen.

Hand up for DVRS before CAMS. Liked ANECDOTE.

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)

Tue 8:38, 8:51, 0.98, 47%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:19, 4:31, 0.96, 43%, Medium

edith b 4:18 PM  

My husband's firm gave baseball tickets to it's employees and my husband and I went to 10-12 games a year. I always found Yankee Stadium to be a relaxing place which may sound odd coming from a woman of a certain age. My husband and I had matching Walkman radios we used to listen to the play-by play from our seats so I was familiar with the expression "bloop single" and when I saw it in the puzzle I thought it must have been constructed by a baseball fan ,and, of course I was right as Doug Petrson always has a baseball reference or two in his puzzles.

I learned about the MARIANAS Trench from class trips I took when I was in school. Always saw it with an S.

And last, I don't think it was a mistake that the wrong answer SOFTSHELLCRAB produced a vulgarism in the puzzle as Doug Peterson is too skilled a craftsman to let that happen. 'Nuff said.

CrazyCatLady 4:28 PM  

This puzzle was a DNF for me at the tournament because of those two long theme answers that had to do with baseball and car racing, BLOOP SINGLE and FORMULA ONE, both somewhat foreign subjects to me. Hand up also for VCRS. It was nice to do it again at a liesurely pace and get to finish. Very nice puzzle and cool theme. Thanks Doug Peterson.

jesser 4:34 PM  

@Tinbeni: The whole point of the winkicon at the end was to say, "I'm just joking." Lameness notwithstanding, it was just a stab at a grin, and an opportunity to trot out some Star Trek TNG imagery. I'd be astonished if Hazel were offended by it. I bet she GOT the joke. Anyway, let's have a drink and forget it. You decant a bourbon for me and I'll return the favor with some scotch for you. Deal?

hazel 4:42 PM  

@Jesser - i can't imagine being offended by you, but i was the pahoehoe chick, not the marianas trench submersible(?) sceptic.

Irregardless (just kidding!) I still thought your joke was funny!!

While you're pouring - I'll take a cold Terrapin Rye Pale Ale.

Sfingi 4:52 PM  

@Jesser - I thought it might be a joke. Not Jean-Luc Picard, who's part of silly Startrek (I think). Jacques Piccard (2 Cs or cees) who is part of a famous French air-ballooning family. (They don't balloon the air, they fly in air balloons.)

@Tinbeni - Thank you for your faith. I'm not one for conspiracy theories. I read about this as a kind of odd thing that I had never heard of, spent a day with a pen and calculator and decided their lungs would collapse.
So, how? Equipment could be set up to make phony readings, they could land on a shelf, since they had complained about not finding a low spot. Don Walsh could be out of the loop, since he was chosen much to his surprise (Life Mag 2/15/60). All parts of the Trieste Bathyscaphe are gone, etc. If it's so great, why do so few know of it.
Why? TinTin portrays him as a nut case. I'm still researching. If nothing, else, it would make a good novel.

Let's all kiss and make up.

lit.doc 5:06 PM  

Hand up for thunderCRAP. Also VCRS. And so many good laughs in the posts today!

@ Zee Rocks, thanks for reminding me to get a new TONIER cartridge for my printer.

@chefwen, still laughing about, uh…what was it…huh? Oh, yeah, “Short smoke”.

@Steve J, me too misreading “WWII code”.

@sfingi, glad to hear I wasn’t the only person out here who had never heard the term BLOOP SINGLE before.

@Jesser, I’m simply not as good a person as you, so I can’t resist. Is it like in movies, where the uncut version is longer? (Hi, @Tinbeni!)

Tinbeni 5:17 PM  

You're a very funny guy,
most of the time.
Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.
But, hey, that's OK. All in good FUN.

I do hope you googled those guys.

I'll stick with my avatar, I hope you enjoy your bourbon.
I say that because I do have the Scotch (never acquired a taste for the bourbon).
Oh, and @Lit.doc. I think you should have a Jameson Irish Whiskey with us. LOL

Actually I thought it was very interesting.
Learning something from a puzzle (and the comments) is a priority of mine.
Plus I know you aren't much of a Sci-Fi TV fan.

Cheers !!!

Elaine 5:31 PM  

@Steve J
Don't forget SCUBA--another acronym!
This was apparently an acronymious puzzle, with some semi-acrimonious comments.

While we were living in Hawaii, the USS Thresher (submarine) experienced a catastrophic event; its dive could not be stopped, and finally the pressure crushed the hull, (obviously, with the loss of all hands.) It is very difficult to believe the claim of a 7-mile-depth dive in 1960, given the status of technology fifty years ago.

Stan 6:43 PM  

Fun puzzle, and I liked OldCarFudd's comment that tournament puzzles must be chosen for their high quality and overall fairness.

Weighing in on chowder (in Maine it's practically the State Food), "Steamer" would have been more synonymous with SOFT SHELL CLAM (since most chowder is made from hard shell clams), but the clue is not wrong. You can make a chowder out of anything you like (as long as you start by pan-searing some form of salt pork) and the steamer variety sounds yummy.

Odd that two kinds of clams (Quahogs and Geoducks) are pronounced nothing like how they are spelled.

I did know BLOOP SINGLE today, but previously SEEING-EYE SINGLE and HIDDEN BALL TRICK were completely new to me. Baseball has great lingo.

newspaperguy 8:55 PM  

Excellent puzzle. Got off to a solid start because my son is in the RCMP--world's best dress uniform--and cruised from there, having a pretty good idea that even if soft-shelled clams might lead to a thunderous crap, it wasn't gonna happen in this puzzle.

sanfranman59 10:00 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 6:57, 6:55, 1.01, 57%, Medium
Tue 8:45, 8:51, 0.99, 51%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:51, 3:40, 1.05, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:15, 4:31, 0.94, 38%, Easy-Medium

Anonymous 2:13 AM  

perhaps the earth's possession in clue 39D alludes to MARIANAS.

crow 5:12 PM  

Fortunately, I had clap before writing crab, and was also sure thunder doesn't crap.

I was thinking Mariana the whole time and looked it up to make sure, so wrote it in anyway and left the last letter blank, cause I was pretty sure of cig, dam, and stan.

some liberty with that trench methinks.

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