Parting words from von Trapps / MON 5-17-10 / Mount where Noah landed / Fully focused attentive / Suffix with labyrinth

Monday, May 17, 2010



Constructor: Jay Kaskel

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Parting words... — theme answers are famous "Parting words" (which are the first words of every theme clue)


Word of the Day: SAXE-Coburg-Gotha (31A: ___-Coburg-Gotha, former British royal house) —

Saxe-Coburg and Gotha or Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (German: Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha) served as the name of two duchies, Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Gotha, in Germany. They were located in what today are the states, Bavaria and Thuringia, respectively, and the two were in personal union between 1826 and 1918. The Duchy came to an end in 1918 with the other German monarchies, and the Free State of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was merged into the new state of Thuringia two years later. // The name, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, also may refer to the family of the ruling House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. This family played many and varied roles in nineteenth-century European dynastic and political history. (wikipedia)

• • •
Hey, everybody. I got in very late last night (1:30am) and now it's 8am-ish and I'm running on reserve battery power, and precious little of that. So this will be brief, and I'll regale you with tales of my weekend trip to Idaho (for my grandma's 90th birthday) tomorrow. Lots of pictures, many of them crossword-related. Here's the short version: I saw the whole of my mom's side of the family; everyone was lovely; my grandma is beyond awesome and I'm not sure I believe she's actually 90 — her little house is filled with arts and crafts of her making, all of it legitimately appealing and not just "pretty good for a grandma with spare time on her hands." And her scones. Dear lord, those things were tasty. I was going to ask my wife why they were so delicious and before I could get the question out of my mouth, she said "butter." "Mmm, butter." OK, I'm drifting away into random anecdote land now, so I'll get to the puzzle and promise you slightly more coherence tomorrow.

Oh, one last thing — perhaps my favorite moment of the weekend was seeing my grandma at her 90th birthday. I crossed the room to say 'hi' and 'happy birthday' and give her a hug, and I didn't even make it within hugging distance before she exclaimed, "Take that cap off! I don't allow that." Thus, caught somewhere between embarrassment and laughter, I said "OK" and walked penitently to the outer hall, where I hung the offending item of apparel with my coat, thinking "man, grandma does not &*$% around." No wonder her whole family (excluding me, apparently) turned out so incredibly kind and polite and generous and well-behaved. Decorum will be observed! Seriously, my grandma is a force of nature, and a tough broad, and I have incredible respect and love for her.

[Did I mention she also enjoys giant margaritas?]

As for the puzzle — didn't much care for it. I think the theme is a really cute idea, but it's also really inconsistent. Some of them are real "parting words" ("HIYO SILVER AWAY!" / "I'LL BE BACK"), one is part of a longer parting ... song ("SO LONG, FAREWELL..."), one is involves a metaphorical parting of an abstract concept ("BYE BYE, LOVE") and the last has nothing to do with the speaker's parting. Trump is firing *you* — he's not going anywhere ("YOU'RE FIRED!"). Bigger problem was the fill, which was really subpar. Lots and lots of tiresome short stuff. The gangly crosswordese of ECARTE (28A: Card game for two) over SAXE was the epicenter of bad, but the bad spread all over, especially strongly from the OER/AER crossing down to the far SW corner and the plural of the word no one likes in the singular: ADES. I would list all the bad short stuff, but I haven't got it in me right now. Trust me, it's there. All over. Look in every corner. Search every cranny. Climb every mountain. Etc.



Theme answers:
  • 17A: Parting words from the Everly Brothers ("BYE BYE LOVE")
  • 23A: Parting words from the Lone Ranger ("HIYO SILVER AWAY!")
  • 34A: Parting words from the Terminator ("I'LL BE BACK")
  • 49A: Parting words from the von Trapps ("SO LONG, FAREWELL...")
  • 57A: Parting words from Donald Trump ("YOU'RE FIRED!")
Bullets:
  • 62A: Claudia ___ Taylor (Lady Bird Johnson) (ALTA) — I'm sure I've seen this clue before, but I completely forgot the answer. I know ALTA better as Sp. for "high" or (related) a ski area in Utah.
  • 11D: Homer Simpson type (SCREW-UP) — I've been watching the show for 20+ years and still needed most of the crosses to get this. It's apt enough, but it's not a word the show uses. Plus, while he's a SCREW-UP, he's also remarkably successful (he has a beautiful house and family ... and a Grammy ... and he's been to outer space with Buzz Aldrin ... etc.)
  • 40D: Fully focused and attentive (ALL HERE) — huh. I don't like this. ALL THERE, sure. ALL HERE ... lost a "T." But then again I've only had 4 hours of sleep and am currently jet-lagged, so perhaps I'm not ALL HERE myself.
  • 47D: Mount where Noah landed (ARARAT) — this makes me laugh, as it makes it sound as if Noah landed on a horse (see "not ALL HERE," above).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

63 comments:

chefbea 9:17 AM  

Easy fun puzzle except for the X in Saxe and yaxis. Never heard of that word.

Glad a good time was had by all at the 90th birthday bash. Can't wait to hear more about it and see fotos

PurpleGuy 9:20 AM  

I have to say I enjoyed this more than yesterday's debacle.
Agree with Rex about the ugly fill, although I still had an easy time with it.
Rex, I think your grandmother and my mom(102) would get along famously. Both of their PSYCHES seem to be from the same era.
Glad you're back and had a good time.

Have a good day all !

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

Thought it was Hi *ho* silver away....?

@chefbea - it's "y axis" lol

Cathyat40 9:21 AM  

@chefbea It's two words: Y AXIS

Enjoyed the puzzle, the blog and the Leonard/Judy duet.

jesser 9:22 AM  

Welcome back, Rex! Sounds like a hoot of a trip, and your grandmother sounds like a lady with style!

I didn't post about yesterday's puzzle because your grandmother -- and others -- would not have approved of what I would have said, so I just stayed quiet.

Liked this one, especially with the shout-out to Rexville at 44D. Only write over was at 60D where I immediately wrote ddE only to immediately change it to IKE as soon as I read the clue to 57A and knew what that had to be.

Loved the clue/answer combo at 11D. He's a lovable SCREW UP, that Homer! Dunno about SCREW UP crossing ORGY, however. Homer at an ORGY is a mental image that I Did Not Need. I need a 'delete file' button on my forehead.

I ate breakfast and solved the Saturday puzzle at NELLIE's Restaurant on Hadley Street. Best damn green chile on the planet, I tell ya.

I'm glad I know what MESHUGA means. I doubt I'll remember, but still...

Last letter in the grid was the X at the SAXE/H AXIS crossing. I have only heard of the X and Y axes, so this H AXIS was new to me. I am not mathematically inclined.

Must do work now. Thanks to all the guest bloggers for a funny, wacky weekend!

Ingler! (Your goal when you're at the ORGY and Gler is the most attractive person in the pile.) -- jesser

Wiki Says 9:32 AM  

Departing on his white horse Silver, the Ranger would famously say "Hi-yo, Silver, away!" as the horse galloped toward the setting sun.

Not to be confused with 9:34 AM  

Hi Ho Steverino --- a "hello"

JayWalker 9:35 AM  

Despite my error at "Hi 'H'o Silver" - I can't for the life of me see this as a "Medium" puzzle. It was easy to the point of boredom. Didn't get my NYTimes delivered yesterday so I'm out of the loop on "yesterday's fiasco" ???? Wish I wasn't. I don't want to read the write-up cause I'm still hoping to find an errant copy of the Magazine and give it a shot. Soooo intriguing. As opposed to today's puzzle which was soooo boring.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

Sunday PDF available at http://www.nytimes.com/pages/crosswords/index.html.

jesser 9:45 AM  

It's HI YO?!?! DOH! I should have trusted what I did remember about those damn axes! -- jesser, not at all used to a failure on a Monday.

dk 9:49 AM  

Well I thought it was HIHO as well. The rest of the puzzle was cute in that well pressed khaki pants and polo shirt on a five year old way.

** (2 Stars)

Here in the land where severe weather says: ILLBEBACK. Six inches of rain in 2 hours yesterday morning.

Very interesting to be at ground zero and listening to the oil spill spin. News from the front line: They are making it up as they go along! Sad to say there is no plan and it seems there never was.

Off to photograph the Katrina trashed and abandoned Six Flags in East NOLA. For some reason the effected beaches are closed to photogs, I am sure it is for our safety.

foodie 9:55 AM  

Rex, I loved hearing about your grandma. She sounds wonderful! I want to grow up to be like her, Margaritas and all. Just last night, my daughter was saying that when she recently went to visit her grandma (puzzle husband's mom) grandma did not recognize her, had no clue who she was. It was really sad. So, to have a grandma who ALL HERE and full of vim and vigor, what a gift!

Re the puzzle--I have this little rule, probably unfair, a kind of prejudice, but here it is anyhow: if 1A is an abbreviation, my hopes for the puzzle sink. It's like you have one chance to make a great first impression, and you choose an abbreviation? I too liked the concept and some of the answers, but a little lip gloss would have helped.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:56 AM  

Mild irony (in the non-technical sense) that we are welcoming Rex back while the puzzle is saying Good-bye.

My only question, already addressed by Rex, is why the rather non-Monday cluing of ALTA?

Re: 35 D, I saw the fully restored version of "Metropolis" just last Wednesday. Won't go on about it, but it does go on for more than 2 1/2 hours. I liked it; person I saw it with thought maybe those missing scenes had been cut for a good reason!

chaos1 10:02 AM  

I'm sure I would love your Grandma Rex. My mom will be 84 in Sept. and my dad will be 89. Folks that age truly are from the "Greatest Generation"!

As for today's puzzle, a snap. One question though. In regard to Anonymous @ 3, below is a query I posed on the Times blog:

Warren Howie @ 6: Your post got me to thinking. Isn't there a word or phrase, to describe the phenomenon of having mispronounced a word or phrase for all your life, and then finally seeing the correct usage in print and realizing you've been wrong all along? I know I've seen that explanation somewhere before, but I can't remember it.

Example: Jimi Hendrix singing Purple Haze. Is the lyric:
"Scuse me while I kiss this Guy" or "Scuse me while I kiss the Sky"?

Anyone care to weigh in on that?


@Andrea Carla Michaels on Sunday's blog. I apologize for my sexist rantings regarding the comments of your nubile visage. I'm blaming it on the single. When I read you last post this A.M., I immediately went and poured soap and water in my ears. I doubt if it will clean my filthy mind, but maybe it will show the deity that I am truly repentant for having had such impure thoughts about a 15 year old?

I'LL BE BOK !

Bob Kerfuffle 10:07 AM  

@chaos1 - You're thinking of a Mondegreen.

chefbea 10:08 AM  

@anon 9:21 and @cathyat40 doh!! of course y axis

Guess my catchpa describes me = dombril

chaos1 10:12 AM  

OOPS: That didn't come out right. The sentence in my comment to Andrea on the last post, should read, "I'm blaming it on the single malt scotch." Don't want anyone's mind to go wandering around for something else to use after single. Note to self: Proofread more carefully!

chaos1 10:21 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle:

Thank you so much! Mondegreen was indeed the word I was looking for.I believe it was discussed in a Times blog a while back. Very interesting word.

archaeoprof 10:28 AM  

@Foodie: I really like your 1A rule.

22A BLESS: this week in a paper on the film "Gran Torino" a student wrote that after hearing his confession Father Janovich told Walt to say five "Our Fathers" and ten "Bloody Marys."

tptsteve 10:30 AM  

Agree with the comments re inconsistency with the theme answers, and had to write over HIHO.

@RP- thanks for the Leonard Cohen/Judy Collins clip. Saw him in concert last October. Incredible show, particularly for a guy who's 20 years younger than your grandmother.

Van55 10:38 AM  

I agree with Rex that much of the fill in this puzzle was bad/obscure. On the other hand, I can't join in criticizing the theme for inconsistency. All the theme answers are sort of "famous last words" from any perspective. The theme works fine for me.

Tinbeni 10:43 AM  

@chaos1
Apparently that Purple Haze in your brain, blamed on the single malt scotch, induces memory block of lyrics ... it is "Sky."

I always hate it when someone blames their faux-pas on the Avatar.
Hell yes, I've been drunk. but never stupid. Unknowledgeable is another subject.

@dk
I suspect they don't want you to photograph the area
IN OIL.

HI YO SILVER AWAY has come up so often, and discussed, in the LAT that I will never forget it.

captcha: miata, time to drive away in it.

retired_chemist 10:56 AM  

While I liked this puzzle better than Rex did, I see his point.

Was fooled @ 17A - when BYE BYE BIRDIE didn't fit I figured it was some kind of trick theme. That made the rest of the answers non-obvious until YOU'RE FIRED told me I was a SCREW-UP. D'oh! BYE BYE BIRDIE had nothing to do with the Everly Brothers.

Big problem @ 56A , where OTOE started me off. OASIS made it OTOS, and I figured MESHOGA was a variant spelling. Hey, it could be.... I finished the puzzle, went back to stare at ALL HORE, and D'oh! again. My forehead hurts.....

opliz - a Joan Rivers line.

CaseAceFos 10:56 AM  

What's not to like about this Monday puzzle by that rascal, J. Kaskel!
More meaty than most, and to seal the deal, it had SAXE in the Griddy!
bye bye loves

CaseAceFos 11:06 AM  

Rex, old top, having read your blog, caught a glimpse of your granny, looking so natty at ninety, I'd say it's "HATS OFF" to her, too!

joho 11:07 AM  

I liked the theme as it's more interesting than many Mondays but I agree about the fill.

I wondered what an H Axis is but didn't change it. Just figured it to be a mathematical term I didn't know ... which would be all of them.

@Rex, your Grandma is a kick! That is so great you went to celebrate her 90th birthday. I wish her many, many more! And, by the way, my mom would have said the same thing about your cap so I got a chuckle out of that.

dk 11:27 AM  

@tinbeni, you made my day.

syndy 11:42 AM  

hands up for h axis-also hands up to rex's nana. Bye bye love; Bye bye sweet caress,hello loneliness;Bye bye my love goodbye! And how old am I

PuzzleNut 11:50 AM  

Hi y'all,
I've been following Rex's blog for several weeks, have started posting a few comments, and thought I'd introduce myself. This seems like a really good group of fellow puzzlers and I look forward to getting to know you better over time.
I used to think I was pretty good at crosswords - NYT Sunday is a snap and I can usually finish Saturday without googling. Then I saw the movie Wordplay and I was humbled. You professionals (which I gather many of you are) blow me away.
Friday and Saturday are my favorites as I usually can kill a lot of time, slowly working my way through what often starts out as an impossible puzzle. The real pleasure for me is getting that first answer and then watching things eventually fall into place.
I work from home now and love just about any type of puzzle. Crosswords are still my favorite, but KenKen is pretty good and Sudoku is OK. Love Scrabble, but my wife has pretty stopped playing with me, even with handicaps.
Currently live in Houston, but we have a place in northern New Mexico that we hope to call home some day. Three kids still in school so that ties us down for now.
My other passions are woodworking and skiing in NM.
Look forward to improving my skills and reading the comments and enjoying the comaraderie of other nuts like me.

Ulrich 11:53 AM  

As one who really, really loved yesterday's puzzle, this one came across as a monumental let-down--nothing new under the sun--probably not fair, but that's what scheduling can do to you.

@foodie: Like archaeoprof, I totally subscribe to your 1A rule! Wish it would enter WS's code.

@fikink (as per last night): Solving an xword puzzle in the bathtub is one of the great joys in life for me and a very strong argument for doing the paper version. I still remember my own Heureka! moment when years ago, on a Wednesday(!), in a bathtub, I finally discovered that the last Sunday puzzle could only be solved by writing more than one letter in one square--i.e. I discovered the rebus concept (w/o knowing the name, of course)

@dk: This non-existence of a plan keeps on haunting me--how could this be allowed to happen? Well, I know how, but that's just too depressing to even contemplate...

chaos1 12:29 PM  

@Tinbeni: Well said Sir! One should never attempt to use alcohol as a legitimate reason for "Letting one's alligator mouth overload one's hummingbird anus."

That being said, IMHO, I believe that your reference to the lack of knowledge vs. stupidity has nothing to do with " Mondegreens"

I must share this link with members of this blog, because I believe it would be selfish not to do so. All the credit for finding it, belongs to Mitch from Chicago at post #23 on today's Wordplay blog.In the interest of saving myself time, I have Cut and Pasted the pertinent parts of my Wordplay post. Hope you enjoy:



Re: Mitch @ 23. OMG !!! That link was hysterical. I am forever in your debt. They say that laughing excessively has been clinically proven to actually improve your health. If so, you just added several years to my life. That Pearl Jam - Yellow Ledbetter video with subtitles, actually made me lose control of my bladder momentarily. While I am getting a tad long in the tooth, I'm still a long way from \" Depends \" so the video was a definite tour de force for it's creator. I hope you won't mind if I share it on Rex's blog. I will certainly credit you, and I am saving the link on my external hard drive. It's priceless ! Once again,THANK YOU for sharing!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLd22ha_-VU

fikink 12:35 PM  

I echo @Foodie's wish to emulate your grandma, Rex - Class to an aging woman is like honor to an aging soldier; the way we want to go out.



The puzzle was Monday easy, but Rex makes good points about it being so uneven. Kind of a collage of words rather than an themed essay. 



@chaos1, I don't have a word for it, - ah, MONDEGREEN - thank you, @Bob Kerfuffle! - but I have another example: All his life, Mr. Fikink thought Harold Hill was singing "the sadder, Budweiser girl for me..." and, of course, I never let him forget it.


@ulirch, so glad to connect with another tubber! Thought I might be being indiscrete mentioning it last night. You rank up there with the enlightened males who admit to liking cats, many who frequent this blog, and includes our host.

Not sure if this is a Mondegreen in reverse, but I used to think that the "Sazerac Sling" - a drink famously mentioned in a song from "Company" was a hammock-like apparatus employed in Tantric sex... now, THAT is indiscrete, Deborah!

"coginge" - I am not touching it!

Clark 12:58 PM  

Welcome @PuzzleNut.

A friend of mine went to see a Lone Ranger film in Germany that was dubbed into German. Upon hearing the Lone Ranger say, "Wie geht's Kemosabe?" he started laughing so hard he had to exit the theater.

I thought the puzzle was a delightful little ditty. 5 parting lines + one G'DAY.

Clark 1:08 PM  

Oh, I guess it was Tonto, der das gesagt hat. While I'm on the subject, here's what Gary Larson had to say about Kemosabe.

Tinbeni 1:29 PM  

@Chaos1
Mondegreen is a great example of unknowledgeable. It is so common with lyrics that it has produced a "You Tube" cottage industry. BTW, yeah, that clip lopped off a few months.LOL

My pet peeve are those who blame the avatar as in:
"I had so much last night I can't remember what I did or said."
Wish that were true, but I remember exactly what happened. Generally don't give a "rats ass" but blame the avatar, my one true love, that would be stupid.

At sunset, Cheers!

William M. Felix 1:34 PM  

Lol this is quite brain ticking. And one more. Never get bored with homer... mmmhhh... donuts... ;p

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

Didn't like 7D - French fries should be fried in fat not oil. But easily corrected

The Palin 2:05 PM  

Todd was so different from any kid I'd ever known. He made all his own decisions, from finances to future plans. Not only was he one of the only kids in town who owned his own ride—he owned two, the Mustang and a 1973 Ford F-150 long-bed pickup that he used to haul a pair of Polaris snowmachines. By the time I met him, he had honed an independent spirit and a sterling work ethic that drew me like a magnet, and would help define me and clarify my life's priorities more than anything else.

Anonymous 2:09 PM  

one great thing about the NYT puzzles is the up-to-date lingo. but 22D temporarily threw me. i think of pal as gender-neutral, not necessarily "bro." nunyo.

chefbea 2:17 PM  

@puzzle nut welcome and thanks for telling us all about yourself. You did leave out one important thing...Do you like beets???

imsdave 2:25 PM  

@Clark, and with a wink to DK:

Tonto and the Lone Ranger are making camp. All of the sudden, a rattlesnake leaps up and bites the Ranger in a very awkward place.

"Tonto, ride into town and ask the doctor what to do"

He rides furiously into town, reaches the doctor, asks, getting this response:

"Make a small incision between the fang marks the suck the poison out."

Tonto rides furiously back to the Ranger.

"What did the doctor say faithful friend"

"Doctor says, you gonna die"

Oldie but Goodie 3:04 PM  

@imsdave
good one!

@Clark
that cartoon used to be on our fridge til it disintegrated! I still mourn Gary Larson's retirement.

CrazyCatLady 3:23 PM  

I did this puzzle last night after I looked at the Sunday offering for a few seconds and decided immediately to move on. Thought this was fun. What I really liked about it was seeing MUSHUGA. When we lived in NY a friend of ours used to refer to my spouse MUSHUGA Steve. It was a reference to the now defunct Crazy Eddie stores. He was in the electronics business at the time.
As @Tinbeni said the HI HO, HI YO question has been discusssed to death on the LAT blog. HI YO is what the Lone Ranger and Ed Macmahon said.

@Clark and @Imsdave - great story and great joke! Had me LOL.
@Puzzlenut - HI
@Rex Your grandma sounds like a hoot. You're lucky to have been able to celebrate with her. Love the picture with the margarita. And yes, butter makes everything taste wonderful.

PuzzleNut 3:35 PM  

@chefbea - Haven't caught on to the beet reference yet, but I'm solidly in the meat and potato camp. Only person I know who likes beets is Dwight Schrute.

Steve J 3:35 PM  

Never warmed to this one, especially the theme. I initially had the same misgiving about YOUVEBEENFIRED as not parting words, but a send-off, I realized later that BYEBYELOVE isn't really said by someone leaving, either.

The bigger problem was that the theme answers were way too easy, even on a Monday. Three of the four were filled with nary a cross, and the only reason there were any crosses in place on BYEBYELOVE was because I started in the NW corner and had some downs in place already.

Although, I was momentarily tripped up with an H-AXIS as well. This is literally the first time in my life I've ever encountered HIYO instead of hi-ho. Learn something new every day.

@Anon. 1:58: I thought the same thing about fries at first, too, but almost every restaurant has been frying them in oil for the last 20+ years now, so it works. They are much better in some sort of animal fat, though. (I'm particularly fond of duck fat for fries. Then again, I'm fond of duck fat in pretty much any context. People who think bacon makes everything better need to try everything with duck fat, and bacon will become a second thought.)

Captcha: "suplad". What a Scottish gangsta says instead of "'sup, BRO."

Van55 3:47 PM  

By the way, I kind of like the notion of a "No ABBRS. at 1A" rule.

chaos1 4:02 PM  

@Tinbeni: Enough about Mondegreens.I think both of our points are well taken.

I agree with your school of thought, vis-a-vis using alcohol as a scapegoat. I learned a long time ago, that saying "I was too drunk to remember" wears thin quickly. One must learn to accept the embarrassment of any alcohol induced faux pas. Apparently,you and I share the same mistress? It would be nice to compare notes someday.

Gratifying that the link I passed on,shaved a couple of months off your dirt nap.

@CrazyCatLady: Crazy Eddie? You must be INSANE!

@PuzzleNut: Welcome aboard.

@imsdave: Classics are the best!

Sfingi 4:16 PM  

Easy puzzle - but I did have SOLoER before SOLVER, not knowing anything about bowling (Gee, I guess I'm presidential). My WOD is Mondegreen - wow! What a word.

@Kartoffle - I had always heard Lady Bird was Italian and knew her full name. But, I just read that she was a Sephardic Jew, which makes more sense.

@I'msDave - one of Hubster's favorite jokes, but in a new context.

@Chaos1 - I'm a dreamer, Montreal.
Sam and Janet Evening.
(In case you're too young, that's "I'm a Dreamer, Aren't we all?" and "Some Enchanted Evening.")

@Anon158 - don't worry. Nowadays fries are made from extruded re-hydrated potato flakes, anyway.

There could be an H-Axis. In a dimension we can't see. It might be the alternate reality my 90-year-old mother lives in. Bless you, Rex.

@Puzzlenut - some of us are not professionals. I couldn't do a puzzle in 5 minutes with a copy of the answers in front of me.

SethG 4:27 PM  

I think foodie's general concept about making 1A shine is good, but I think good cluing can redeem almost any entry. [Listings in a dr.'s calendar] is blah, but if I found something like [For short, for short, for Shortz] at 1A on a Monday I think I'd be delighted to fill in ABBR.

sanfranman59 4:33 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 6:38, 6:55, 0.96, 41%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:40, 3:41, 1.00, 55%, Medium

mac 4:42 PM  

@SethG: good one!
I have to agree with the critics, I'm afraid. Was so proud to know Hi Ho Silver, away!

@PuzzleNut: HI YOU!

@Bob Kerfuffle: thanks for the mondegreens. I had one as a child: having to repeat the story about Adam and Eve as a 5-year old, I told the other kids in nursery school that God made Eve from a reep of Adam's. Reep is the Dutch word for chocolate bar. What, God could do anything, right?

@Clark: the dubbing of other languages is something you need to get used to! Especially when Japanese or Chinese actors speak German.

@Steve J: I just had duck fat fries for the first time on Mothers' Day at Raoul's in NYC. Fantastic. Almost as good as truffle oiled ones.

Now I'm hungry again. Better peel those roasten beets.

CrazyCatLady 5:08 PM  

Excuse my misspelling of MESHUGA. You can tell I'm a shiksa.
@SteveJ - Fries in duck fat are the best as long as I have some Prilosec on hand.

SoupkitchenMan 5:19 PM  

The X-axis is the horizontal axis on an xy plane. The Y-axis is the vertical one. High School algebra.

retired_chemist 5:25 PM  

And then there is the hymn about "Gladly, the Cross-eyed Bear."

a guy 5:30 PM  

Finding anything related to beets, scotch, captchas, or Shakespeare anywhere in the puzzle makes me want to skip the comments for the day.

John Towle 6:06 PM  

Hi Rex,

I really like your comments on the daily puz of any consequence in the contiguous 48

I hear you celebrated your grandmother's birthday in St. Maries, Idaho. FYI I was a forest fire fighter & blister rust guy in the summers of the late '50s/early '60s in the St. Joe National Forest. Worked out of Clarkia & Red Ives, mainly & slogged around the Little North Fork of the Clearwater & Elk River on many a fire. Hot dirty work but the beer (Oly Pop & Lucky) was always cold in St. Maries & Elk River. First time I've ever heard of anyone as famous as you;-)) hailing from there. Great country even though I saw most of it from under a bleeding sun & through the miasma of white pine & doug fir smoke.

Best,

john towle
Salinas, CA
gtowle839@sbcglobal.net

Sfingi 7:57 PM  

@Guy - stay home for the week.

One of the Larson cartoons (Roy doomed the Earth...) reminds me of what Stephen Hawkings just warned about. Lay low, don't mess with aliens (the kind that come from outside our solar system).

Saw Judy Collins once at our beautiful Stanley Theater.

Idaho looks like nice green country.

@Mac - and how do you pronounce that, hmm?

mac 8:44 PM  

@Sfingi: I think you know. It's rape.

fikink 9:22 PM  

@Clark, "Wie gehts Kemosabe" has now entered the Fikink repertoire - too funny!

@puzzlenut, the FIL (at 88) is in the process of imparting his woodworking wisdom to me as he is passing on his workbench and tools. He is an excellent cabinetmaker and I am still in the "awesome" stage of learning what particular gizmos can do - including a plane specific to making molding with about a bajillion different blades!
It all comes in handy when solving crosswords.
Allowed me to fill in KERF one day without hesitation.

Sometimes I think crosswords should be renamed "crossworLds."

Steve J 9:28 PM  

@mac: If you liked both duck fat fries and truffle-oil fries, you should try one of my absolute favorite things ever. Popcorn popped in duck fat and salted with truffled sea salt (as in little bits of truffle mixed in with sea salt). Absolutely fantastic.

mac 10:03 PM  

@Steve J: that sounds amazing... I want that salt. Where do you get it? Tried to reach you off-blog, but there is no email address. Sorry everybody else.

sanfranman59 10:09 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 6:39, 6:55, 0.96, 44%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:34, 3:41, 0.97, 48%, Medium

Pretty much a straight-down-the-middle medium Monday puzzle today. One oddity in the numbers is that there were only 813 online solvers posted. That's the 5th fewest of the 48 Mondays in my database (mean number of Monday solvers = 916). Typically, there's an inverse relationship between the number of solvers and the median solve times (fewer solvers = higher solve times = more challenging puzzles). But apparently not today. I don't know how to account for this anomaly. Maybe there was some problem with the online interface and posting solve times?

Karnak 11:06 PM  

@sanfranman59 - To explain the drop in the number of online solvers, go back to the comments on Wordplay yesterday. All the online solvers who were really pissed off by the odd grid may have quit.

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