FIctional airline on Lost / WED 6-23-10 / Time-consuming task for musketeer / Armpit anatomically / Morlocks victims H.G. Wells story

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Constructor: Alex Boisvert

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: SIGN ON THE / DOTTED LINE (50A: With 60-Across, ink a contract ... or a feature of 17-, 25- and 37-Across) — SIGNs of the Zodiac appear on DOTTED LINEs in three theme answers


Puzzle Note: In the print version of today's puzzle, some of the horizontal rules of the grid are not solid all the way across. They appear broken, for reasons relating to the puzzle's theme. Specifically, the horizontal rules under the following squares are not solid:

  • Row #3 -- under squares 5-7
  • Row #5 -- under squares 9-13
  • Row #8 -- under squares 6-10
Word of the Day: BIMINI (47D: Bahamas getaway) —
Bimini (pronounced /ˈbɪmɨni/) is the westernmost district of the Bahamas composed of a chain of islands located about 53 miles (81 km) due east of Miami, Florida. Bimini is the closest point in the Bahamas to the mainland United States and approximately 137 miles (209 km) west-northwest of Nassau. (wikipedia)
• • •

Even with my complete (initial) bafflement at the 1A: "Still mooing" clue (RARE), and my moment to say an exasperated "*&%$ you" to the puzzle for asking me to know some lame bit of trivia from "Lost" (32A: Fictional airline on "Lost" => OCEANIC), I still put this out of its misery in a very low time. Under my average Tuesday. There's just no resistance today. I guess the weirdness of the grid made it unsuitable in some way for a Tuesday, because this thing screams "Tuesday" otherwise. BIMINI is the oddest thing in it, and that's not that odd. L'CHAIM looks a little odd, but it's straight over the plate, as far as foreign phrases go (18D: Toast at a bar mitzvah). As for the theme — it's a clever idea in theory, but it can't be much more than anemic in execution, since only three signs are embeddable in this way. I mean, just try hiding SAGITTARIUS inside of a phrase. I suppose you could have thrown a Hail Mary and gone for, say, WICCAN CEREMONY or MEXICAN CERAMICS or INCAN CEREAL. I'm kidding; those are silly. LIBRA isn't broken between two words the way the other signs are, which is disappointing, but then again, how are you gonna break LIBRA (without being even sillier than the above "CANCER" examples)? GLIB RASTAFARIAN (hmmm, that is 15 ...).

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Tots (LITTLE ONES)
  • 25A: Make fine adjustments to (CALIBRATE)
  • 37A: "On the Waterfront" Oscar winner (EVA-MARIE SAINT)


Clues made things livelier than they might have been today. "Still mooing" really got me, and RELOAD wasn't much easier to pick up straight away (1D: Time-consuming task for a musketeer). I like that STENO is finally getting the "dated" cluing that it deserves (15A: Job made almost obsolete by voice recorders). I don't recognize the tagline from "MAD" magazine, but it's a good one (57A: "Usual gang of idiots" magazine). I learned a little something about PULSARS today (42A: Stars that exhibit the "lighthouse effect"), though while solving, I really saw was "Stars..." and I got the answer from whatever crosses I had. For those, like me, who don't get the clue: "Pulsars are highly magnetized, rotating neutron stars that emit a beam of electromagnetic radiation. The radiation can only be observed when the beam of emission is pointing towards the Earth. This is called the lighthouse effect and gives rise to the pulsed nature that gives pulsars their name" (wikipedia).

Bullets:
  • 66A: Substance (MEAT) — I had GIST.
  • 2D: Armpit, anatomically (AXILLA) — first word in the grid! A handy bit of anatomic vocabulary to know — learned it from crosswords. It'll come back on you.
  • 7D: Temporary tattoo dye (HENNA) — I feel like HENNA tattooing was a recent fad, though the practice has ancient roots. Maybe Madonna did it or something...
  • 9D: "Sending out an ___" (much-repeated line in a Police hit) ("S.O.S.") — not sure why the "hit" isn't named ("Message in a Bottle"). Is there a tie-in to "Lost" here too?


  • 27D: Winter fisherman's tool (ICE SAW) — yeah, I thought it was ICE AXE too. Wife exclaimed from next room: "AXE and ICE AXE in the same puzzle!?" My comment: "No comment."
  • 34D: Target for Teddy Roosevelt (TRUST) — He busted them. Nice Teddy tie-in at 22D: Mt. Rushmore neighbor of Teddy (ABE).
  • 37D: Morlocks' victims, in an H.G. Wells story (ELOI) — More MORLOCKS, Less ELOI (no, I mean "less," not "fewer," as I'm referring to the word itself and my desire to see it ... less frequently).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

85 comments:

PurpleGuy 12:34 AM  

Great write up again, Rex. It took me a long time to get the meaning of 1A, and I like my meat on the RARE side. Hand raised for ICEAXE, until I saw the SX combo in 42A. My Astronomy made PULSARS come easily.

Liked my shout out @ 21A-CAIN. My surname.
Rode the LIRR to work in NYC when I lived on Long Island(Mineola).

AXILLA was also my first entry, thanks to years of doing crosswords.

Over the hump day. Happy Wednesday to all !!!

Bob Cain/ PurpleGuy

Steve J 1:28 AM  

Love that you included the Lloyd Cole clip. The line from "Rattlesnakes" came immediately to mind once I hit 37A. Great song.

Flew through most of this. I had happened to look here to see if there was a pic of the grid once I saw the note on my iPhone version of the puzzle, but I think I would have gotten everything even without that. Probably filled in the revealer quicker, as I'm sure I would have needed more than just the one cross I had in place.

I would have breezed through this in Tuesday time if I hadn't gotten stuck in two spots. One was the NW, where "Still mooing" baffled me and I could not for the life of me remember AXILLA. A typo on 67A left me wondering where the hell RENP was. Finally sorted that, and finished in average Wednesday time.

Found ICESAW odd as well. Growing up in Minnesota, where people are so into ice fishing that there are numerous stories every year of idiots having their trucks fall in the lake or having to get rescued from their icehouse that's on a broken-away ice floe (if a lake can have a floe) because they're trying to get one last fishing day in in March, I never once heard ICESAW. Axes or augurs were the norm.

nanpilla 1:29 AM  

Thank you for explaining the dotted line part of the theme reveal. I always print out the puzzle. I saw the "signs" but simply could not figure out the dotted line reference. I never think to look to see if there is a note. Looking back, I see that there was one.

I guess it's better than more circles.

syndy 1:54 AM  

AXILLA_AXIS EXES_AXE_ICE SAW? Us union guys are darn mad and we're gonna wobble this dumb job!slowed down to calibrate my dotted lines; only counted white squares first time-still way too easy for wednesday-wanted a little more MEAT!ecocide icky

andrea still mooing michaels 2:19 AM  

@SteveJ
Another Minnesotan so in denial about ICESAW that it took me 23 guesses till I filled in the W as my final letter (including debating whether ICES Ax could be an acceptable answer!)

Did not see @Rex's note as I don't come here till AFTER solving so couldn't figure out the theme for the life of me without seeing dotted lines. Agree that "anemic" is the perfect word for only three signs of twelve! Twelve! Even more if you are Chinese.

Love Alex Bosivert tho.

Bleedover DIyourself

By the way, no longer blonde, it's the bat-in-the-office episode on "The Office" and I found myself naming every person in "On The Waterfront" despite having the _VAMA___INT
in place. All I could think of was VAMPIRE. I blame TV.

@Purpleguy
You are happy with a shout out as the "first murderer"?!?

Patrick_NYC 3:06 AM  

How about a shout out for the symmetrically placed INDIANAN and VIRGINIA? Now if only RENO to DALLAS were in the ENEasterly direction, I'd be doing cartwheels.

Wrote PLIADES for stars, thought "what an appropriate crossword word," and realized later to my horror that it's PLEIADES (making it an even more appropriate crossword word).

Had EVES for EXES, making an armpit of AVILLA.

Greene 4:45 AM  

I really liked this puzzle. Sure it was a tad on the easy side and kind of gimmicky, but I thought the basic idea was quite clever. While it's true there are only three zodiac signs represented, I'm not sure one could cram more into the puzzle and still have room for the theme revealer SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE.

I had a little trouble with the SE where WOBBLE was just slow to come to me. It wasn't until I finally saw BIMINI that I could even think of WOBBLE. LIRR looked weird until I figured out the abbreviation.

I watched the first season of Lost and part of the second until I finally gave up in frustration and disgust. Ugh! A stupid riddle wrapped in an even stupider enigma. And it's annotated? Oh, please. Still, enough for me to remember OCEANIC.

I really like On The Waterfront which has an especially fine soundtrack score by the late Leonard Bernstein. I think it might be Mr. Bernstein's only original contribution to the movies (I don't count West Side Story and On The Town as they are stage vehicles adapted for film by others) and it's a dilly. Nominated for an Oscar, but not a winner. Well worth a listen though.

Falconer 5:45 AM  

"Still mooing" has to be one of the top 10 clues of the year. That is hilarious.

It's your blog Rex but I don't know how you can object to "Oceanic" as a lame piece of trivia. LOST was a very popular drama for six years that just ended with a hyped finale, and the name of the airline is mentioned about 1,000 times, not to mention several times in the finale. So if ever there were a non-lame piece of current trivia, to me this is it. Personally I think you could even go so far as to legitimately use clues like "smoke monster," "Hurley" and "The Others".

It's kind of interesting to think about whether something current is actually trivia. E.g. we wouldn't complain about a puzzle that asked for the name of Mary's TV station boss in a '70s sitcom, and Ed Asner/Lou Grant actually appears all the time. Maybe the name of Mary's station would be too trivial (WJM) but crossworld is fixated on asking questions about her sidekick Rhoda, and bit characters in her spinoff.

Long way of saying I loved the Oceanic clue and think there should be more current pop-culture clues to counterbalance all the tired old clues about opera, Shakespeare, Orr & Ott.

shrub5 6:02 AM  

Agree with those who thought this puzzle was easy. Cruciverb version did not have dotted lines so thanks, RP, for the heads up yesterday. Had REPEAT before RETELL, WOBBLY became WOBBLE, hand up for the ICEAXE/SAW trap. Having both ONE and ONE A as answers not legit?? Liked the echo of 'Old flame(s)' clues for EXES and ASHES. (sounds like a country/western song title).

29D) ECOcide is timely....

Rex Parker 6:41 AM  

"Lost" is this century's "Ally McBeal."

Brendan Emmett Quigley 7:11 AM  

"Lost" is kind of like "Ally McBeal" in the sense that there's a whole lot of nonsensical worrying about having babies.

Falconer 7:21 AM  

If only "Lost" were to rise to that pantheon where "Ally McBeal" rules.

Best thing about that show was that it launched the careers of Jane Krakowski (Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock) and Lucy Liu (Alex Monday in Charles Angels; Cottonmouth in Kill Bill, and Master Viper in Kung Fu Panda).

Seriously though for all its faults "Lost" was probably the most intellectually stimulating drama ever to run six seasons. You could appreciate it (or hate it) on the level of its main plot or you could delve into its multilayer mythology. Pretentious on some levels, it also raised lots of deep questions about time, space and death in very subversive way.

There is a chance that English professors in 100 yrs will want to study Lost to understand our world view in 2010. It's easy to put down, but we have to accept our pop culture as it is.

Bottom line is that the airline Oceanic is more likely to be used as a clue in crossworld in 2015-2020, than, say, Ally's law firm (Cage, Fish).

Tinbeni 7:34 AM  

Still mooing brought on a grin when I finally got RARE. Great clue, though the head slap didn't get the vuvuzelas buzz out of my head.

BIMINI was my slam dunk, probably has a lot to do with being a Floridian.
Ergo, ICESAW is a complete unknown for my winter fishing.

ELOI and VIRGINIA got me EVA-MARIE SAINT. Also liked the Mount Rushmore ABE clue being thrown in. Though I would have liked them crossing.

ECO-cide is my WOTD, BP isn't making any points with the SIERRA Club folks.

AXILLA, armpit was the learning moment. Now I just have to figure out how I can work that into a conversation today.

Doug 8:11 AM  

Easy but fun and pretty clever, for my money. God knows about RARE. Maybe it is hip waiter-kitchen-speak in steak houses? If you don't watch much junk TV then OCEANIC is a problem, as it was for me, too.

joho 8:31 AM  

DORITOS go well with yesterday's BANDITOS.

For 31D "Attach with a click" I so wanted iNsert. Clever clue.

Liked LCHAIM, AXILLA, BIMINI, CALIBRATE and WOBBLE.

Read the note when I printed out the puzzle but had forgotten what it said when I finished. I still was able to see the theme answers without seeing the dotted lines. I don't think they were necessary, really. I agree with those who think just three theme signs is light. Tiny Italian jewel: GEMINI.

Tinbeni 8:45 AM  

Always like it when a TV Show is dismissed as
"junk TV."

I was never a "Lost" fan but @Falconer made a good case about the series.

For example: I see a lot of clues from "The Simpsons" (not a show I prefer) but over time, in crossword puzzles, I have learned the characters and don't bitch about them anymore.

Crossword solvers come in many forms, shapes, sizes, educational backgrounds, etc. with different life experiences, likes and dislikes.
My coffee may not be your cup of tea but it does work both ways.

I guess I'm just not pretentious enough to complain because I had to work out an answer via crosses.

chefbea 8:58 AM  

Easy puzzle but didn't get the theme til I got here...no dotted lines on the printout from across lite.

Favorite clue was sharp products for short.

David L 9:09 AM  

Like others, baffled by the theme since I solved using AcrossLite and (as always) didn't even notice there was a note, still less read it.

Quibble time: Don't like RELOAD, which I think of as a verb only. The task would be reloading. And ASHES for old flames really doesn't make any sense, even with a ? (An old flame would be, I dunno, hot air?)

Definitely agree on retiring ELOI. Also OLIO, ALOU, ELEA, etcetera. Someone invent some new vowelly four letter words, please!

jesser 9:11 AM  

When I think BIMINI, I think Gary Hart. But I am a political junkie.

I really really really wanted moose for 34D but the acrosses were having none of that. Similarly, I was confident of eDamS at 51D until the acrosses slapped me around like a red-headed stepchild.

Last night, I had dinner with the most recent of my EXES and his new wife. It's a complicated story involving citizenship, and I think it's a terrible decision for everyone involved, but I was STOIC in the face of their UNION.

Excuse me while I WOBBLE back to the world I live in. Happy Hump Day, Rexville!

Dessizen! (One, like me, who resides in the desert, and explores it, and revels in its magic.) -- jesser

rolin mains 9:12 AM  

coming from a state that serves steak as a side dish, "still mooing" to describe something just this side of tartare. my sister loves her steak done that way. eek.

"oceanic" is not just a "lost" phenomenon, it has a long history of being the world's most famous non-existent airline.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oceanic_Airlines

FWIW, i had to come here too to find out the key to the puzzle...since my acrossLite didn't show me the dotted lines.

tptsteve 9:27 AM  

I figured the dotted lines had something to do with a fold-in from the Usual Gang of Idiots.

JenCT 9:34 AM  

Solved online, so never saw dotted lines.

Never watched Lost, but OCEANIC was easy to get from the crosses.

"Still mooing" was the best clue.

Had TOSTITOS before DORITOS, plopped in MAD even though I wasn't familiar with the clue - it just seemed to fit.

Also liked "Home of the stars" for DALLAS.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:40 AM  

"Still mooing" indeed! When asked how I want my steak, I tell the waiter, "So a good vet could bring it back."

The dotted lines were quite clear in my paper version of the puzzle, but not the meaning until I got to the reveal, so I had the idea that something was happening with the letters both above and below the dotted lines. But there wasn't much I could do with LEO/CAI, nor LIBRA/OCEAN, though the latter was more promising.

One write-over: Had STAPLE before SNAPON.

@Falconer: I don't think raising questions about "time, space and death" and then resolving them with the equivalent of "It was all a dream" is very satisfying, and it had all been done before Elsewhere.

dk 9:56 AM  

Still mooing: RARE - LOL

BIMINI: Monkey Business - LOL

OCEANIC: Lost on me - LOL

DORITOS: BANDITOS - LOL

EVAMARIE: Hardly a Saint - LOL

MAD: Reading a dad-banned magazine with a flashlight in bed - LOL

ONEA: My lottery number (15) - sigh

*** (3 Stars) Alotta laughs

Going in late because I AIL: socceritis.

p.s. I saw Ally McBeal and Lost one time (not the same time). No way is Lost good-bad enough to compete with Ally McBeal. Lost just sucks. But I can appreciate the comparison.

retired_chemist 10:05 AM  

Easy. And fun. The theme is irrelevant to the solving experience, but so what.

The Kingston Trio (ca. 1959) taught me about Bimini.

In my book, 25A "calibrate" (which contains my sign) is improperly clued. "Make fine adjustments to" does not evoke the essence of calibration, which is the checking of an instrument for accuracy against a standard and making necessary adjustments if the instrument is inaccurate. It is irrelevant whether the adjustments are fine or gross.

My first answer at 46A was WOBBLY. Had to look very carefully to see that WOBBLE, not WOBBLY, is what actually parses correctly.

Thank you, Mr. Boisvert. Unless it is Ms. Boisvert. (I never could remember which of our married neighbor couple was Kim and which was Dale.)

Two Ponies 10:45 AM  

I did not find this one that easy. The clues of my printed version are all marked up so I could return for a second try. I have never seen Entourage, Lost, Heroes, Sister Act, and don't know this Kershner guy. It all got sorted out but I felt at a disadvantage.
@tptsteve, I thought the same thing about the dotted lines and actually was disappointed that I couldn't fold my puzzle for a Mad style joke.
I love my steak rare (also called blue abroad) but I've never heard
1A. It sounds like diner-speak to me. @Bob K, I like your line.

Ecocide is sadly too timely.

Do kids still learn to read via "Fun with Dick and Jane"?

I think the theme today was lamely executed. Not a single theme answer south of the equator. Yes, the revealer is but it just doesn't work for me. I got the revealer early and when I saw the
_EON (I know the N wasn't dotted but I'm myopic) of 17A I thought Neon sign and thought the rest would be like exit, dead end, etc. Sorry to ramble. Too much coffee.

Masked Anon 10:57 AM  

dk
If you only saw each show one time how do you come to the conclusion that Ally McBeal is better than Lost? or vice-versa?

Rex's opinion of exasperation at being asked for "Lost" trivia was honest frustration.
Yours reeks of being a sycophant.

Zeke 11:01 AM  

Come to think of it, boarding OCEANIC Airlines kind of dooms one, no? I mean, you get on British Air, you end up in England. Southwest Air, you end up in the southwest. Get on OCEANIC and you seem to end up in the ocean.

Stan 11:30 AM  

Reading the blog today, Mr. and Mrs. Stan discovered that they had both seen Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, many years before they met and a continent apart.

Congrats to Rex for remembering the line about Eva Marie Saint.

Two Ponies 11:32 AM  

@ Masked,
An axilla might reek but @dk most certainly does not.

Nighthawk 11:58 AM  

@Jesser I guess I am an older political junkie. When I think if Bimini, I think of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell. More monkey business.

Question about water pollution? Aquarius.

Don't follow NHL, so got Dallas from crosses, but made me think, when Bobby was shot, did they check his Pulsar?

Speaking of mythical Oceanic,
captcha: nesse

Masked and Anonymous 12:10 PM  

44 is spot on about ELOI. Shows up a lot. Then again, so does: ENE, SOS, EXES, OLE, INON, ARI, ANO, ALI, ONE, EST, ASEA, ONEA (har!, see...ONE showed up again already), ORE, AIL, EATIN, ABE, ECO, LOL, and ALVA (Arlo's rich cousin). Also the daily double crossin' of AXE/AXIS.

Why, y'all ask? Cuz they're part of the pot of glue that holds most puzzes together. Pretty grousy to come down hard on a puz cuz it's usin' what every other puz has to use, too. *Am* gettin' kinda tired of ELOI, tho.

Thumbs up on this theme...Alex B. tried somethin' different; good for him. Congrats on a fun puz, son.

Tip #1 for beginner solvers: If a clue doesn't make any sense at all for the letters you've got in an entry, go solve some other clue far away, then come back. Amazin' how many times that original clue has completely changed. It's cuz you were lookin' at the wrong $#@& clue in the first place. Do it more than I'd like to admit. Like today, for instance.

lit.doc 12:16 PM  

In today's episode of Flat Learning Curve Theater:

Act I: I'd read Rex's heads-up yesterday about AcrossLite missing a feature of the puzzle, but still didn't think to read the notepad.

Act II: Did the puzzle, spotted the theme, no problem. Then spotted and read the notepad.

Act III: Looked at my printout, looked at the numbers in the squares across the top row, and concluded that the squares indicated in the notepad were each off by one or two, give or take.

Act IV: Practiced counting to fifteen repeatedly, went to bed. Cut to commercial.

mac 12:20 PM  

Congratulations US!!

Very easy but fun puzzle to me. LOL at the clue to 1A! Like Indianan and Virginia in opposite positions. I got the theme when I got "sign on..., nice but not enough.

Had to look carefully to parse "reload" but I think it's a go.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Easy puzzle and one that I did not find satisfying at all. 1A is the only clue I'll remember months from now.

As for Lost, I actually watched the entire series and was terribly disappointed by not only the final season, but especially the conclusion. The series ultimately ended up being nothing but one MacGuffin after another in a pathetic attempt to keep the series going for six frustrating years. Knowing now how it all ends, it could have been said just as "well" in three seasons. I like to revisit certain shows after several years, but Lost will not be one of them. Having to sit through hundreds of hours of nonsensical plot devices that ultimately had absolutely NOTHING to do with the ending is just too unbearable. So there, a person that actually was with the show since Sept. '04 and also thinks it basically sucks. Good riddance to Lost and hopefully the Lost clues for a good while as well.

Masked and Anonymous 12:30 PM  

BTW, "Masked Anon @10:57" ain't me. Just sayin'. Other dude ain't got silver bullets, @dk.

Masked Anon 12:30 PM  

Two Ponies
He does when he makes ingratiating comments in a "suck-up" manner.

You see it all the time in this blog.

If Rex says HE doesn't like a clue a whole bunch of you can't wait to get on the bandwagon in agreement.

And it is the "Usual Suspects" all the time.

I'm not saying Rex doesn't make an overt preponderance of right calls. He does and in a clever, interesting and humorous way. But what is exasperating trivia to him may be, for someone else, their nugget of truth that day.

Evaluation of one show over another is all "personal taste" but after viewing ONE TIME dk said "Lost just sucks" an erudite conclusion on his part. Jeez, get real.

Anon 12:23 At least made a cognizant argument.

Alas, I think the "Lost" clues will be with us for years to come.

Shamik 12:32 PM  

Easiest Wednesday puzzle for me...ever...at 4:07. Saw "Lost" when they were doing a recap of first season episodes and my daughter was filling me in on who's who, etc. Could see it was easy to get sucked in, but it just plain wasn't interesting enough to me. That's what makes horse racing.

Still mooing...very common phrase. Only writeover was WOBBLE for WOBBLY. And glad to see the comments on why there are Stars in DALLAS. Should have called my hockey-playing nephew.

retired_chemist 1:22 PM  

Living near Dallas, I had no problem with 30A. But it clearly could throw someone who wasn't either a hockey fan or a Dallas area resident.

On reflection, I really like VINTAGE positioned between DALLAS (thinking of the old TV series) and EVA MARIE SAINT.

The Big E 1:46 PM  

I found today's puzzle easy, but enjoyable, but am absolutely KICKING myself for missing "Still Mooing!" Almost EVERY time I am asked by a waiter/waitress how I would like my steak, I INVARIABLY say "Still mooing" as if I am the most creative person in the world!
And yet when it came down to it today I was TOTALLY stymied for ages! :-)

Like others who play online, I didn't see the dotted lines, but got the clue "sign on the dotted line" immediately with no help - just seemed intuitive.

And on a TOTAL side note, can I ask that SOMEONE add "Landon Donovan" to an upcoming crossword puzzle? GO USA!!!

Greg

The Big E 1:47 PM  

oh yeah - can someone please tell me what an "ice saw" is? Couldn't I just use a wood saw?

Zeke 2:08 PM  

@Big E - Ice Says have at most one tooth per inch, usually much less than that ( 1 tooth per 2 or 3 inches). Wood saws have 8-22 teeth per inch. It would take you much longer to hack out a hole with a wood saw.

The Big E 2:20 PM  

@Zeke - thanks! now that you describe that, I think I recall seeing such saws on some show or movie or something. :-)

PIX 2:33 PM  

I was all set to agree with Retired Chemist (at 10:05)because calibrate usually means "to check an instrument for accuracy against a standard", as he said. But, interestingly, if one asks Google to define calibrate the very first definition they show you says: make fine adjustments or divide into marked intervals for optimal measuring; "calibrate an instrument"; "graduate a cylinder"...i.e. Google specifically begin with the words "make fine adjustment" but they are using calibrate to mean to mark up your instrument (so it can later be used for calibration?)...my gut feeling is that Retired Chemist is more correct but who am i to argue with the Gods?(aka Google.)

PuzzleNut 2:46 PM  

Easy puzzle. Never got the theme, but didn't matter. Not much of a television watcher, but nothing in this puzzle that created a problem. Also thought WOBBLy was correct, but I guess WOBBLE is OK as well. The RARE clue was probably the only memorable point in the puzzle.
Easier than the Houston Chronicle today, which is RARE.

Falconer 2:51 PM  

@Kerfuffle -- In "Lost" finale, the show's action was not revealed to be a dream. It was revealed to be a progression from life to death with a long stop in the middle for a very interesting view of purgatory.

Sure there were many bad episodes and bizarre plot devices but taken as a whole "Lost" presents a much more profound critique of reality than would be evident for anyone who just watched 1-2 episodes or even 1-2 seasons. It was a sort of "Unreality TV" that poked holes in the Judeo-Christian paradigm of a linear time-space paradigm.

Of course this was all done a lot more succinctly in 1969 by Firesign Theater with their great line, "How can you be in two places at once when you're not anywhere at all?"

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

Ice Saw = NOPE.

Add another Minnesotan in protest over this one. I've frozen my rear end enough to be an expert

If I neverheard of it it doesen't exist 3:21 PM  

Rather than grouch, check out http://icesaws.com/ and learn something, sheesh.

Tinbeni 3:42 PM  

Now this is a great example of why I come to this blog.

The opportunity to learn from other crossword fanatics.

@If I neverheard of it it doesn't exist
Thanks for the ICESAW connection.
Doubt I'll ever need this tool to fish here in the Tampa Bay area.
But when HELL does freeze over, at least I'll know what to bring.

BTW, just curious:
What was the final verdict on yesterdays BANDITOS?

sanfranman59 3:46 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Wed 9:32, 11:47, 0.81, 8%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:10, 5:47, 0.89, 21%, Easy-Medium

Based strictly on this analysis, this one would fall in the Medium-Challenging or Challenging category for a Tuesday.

Sundance 3:55 PM  

Fun puzzle today. Lots of words that i've never seen in puzzles. Words and cluing seemed extra original today. Except tired Steno.

I assume creator Boisvert is a nom de plume for Greenwood.

I'm cranky when puzzles need "notepads"!

1-across and 2-down are very clever clues!

JenCT 3:59 PM  

@Zeke - LOL on Oceanic Airlines

chefwen 4:07 PM  

Never saw an episode of Lost but Oceanic was kind of a gimme for me, a plethora of businesses here are Oceanic this or Oceanic that, so it was easy to get after filling in a couple of downs.

Only write overs were SAW over axe and ONE A over able.

Moonchild 4:10 PM  

This seemed like a new idea with the dotted lines in the puzzle.
As for the zodiac signs moonchild is another name for cancer and much nicer for the modern world.
I agree that the clue for rare was the highlight of the puzzle.
I also agree that learning stuff is part of the fun. Today it was an ice tool and why we call them pulsars. Cool. Well aren't I Miss Agreeable today :)
@ Tinbeni, I think the concensus among the non-purists re: bandito was Spanglish.

fikink 4:28 PM  

I can't decide if I am happy or sad that I've never seen an episode of Lost, but, liking my beef very rare, I have been known to chew on the odd cow in the field now and then.

ArtLvr 4:50 PM  

Poppimg in late, I'm surprised no one mentioned the 4th sign nearly there, VIRGO, in 38D VIRGINIA. Wasn't the state named for the Virgin Queen? They are from the same Latin root anyway.

Still laughing at "Still mooing"...

∑;)

fergus 5:03 PM  

Another Gary Hart BIMINI recollector and the 'Monkey Business.' I had ENTER for the answer to Opposite of "take out" since I can fuss over hyphenation. That's a subject where I have to give up and let the current testing standards dictate, at least when I'm teaching middle-schoolers. (And I could make a case for leaving that last one in, or taking it out.)

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

Gotta agree with the Falcon dude regarding his disagreement with kerf's assessment about Lost's conclusion being the equivalent of "it was all a dream." As much as I HATED the conclusion, I would not agree with that 'dream' assessment. Most of the series was in fact not a dream nor purgatory or the afterlife. Most of the events that occurred in the series, did in fact happen in reality.

SPOILERS. ;)

Steve J 5:15 PM  
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Steve J 5:17 PM  

A lot of people need to become familiar with the term "spoiler alert." And use it.

I've not seen "Lost." I have thought about getting the DVDs and watching it. Obviously, there's no need for me to do that now.

OCEANIC is a gettable, and fair, clue, imo. I've paid no attention to the show, I couldn't tell you the name of a single character or a single plot point beyond the fact they're lost, and I've heard of Oceanic. It's one of those that was reasonably easy to pick up by osmosis, as so much of the media hype surrounding the show when it first came on and as it ended kept referencing whatever became of Oceanic flight whatever.

And while I don't agree it's a cultural phenomenon remotely on par with a lot of potential other counterparts - I've noticed that there's a decently sized group that was fanatic about the show, and nobody else gave a damn; there was little to no middle - I think it's a fair clue.

As far as ICESAW, I'm not saying they don't exist. It's just that, at least in my little corner of the ice-fishing universe, it was never a term I heard. Therefore, it made it hard for me to pick up the answer. Never said it was an illegitimate answer. (Although, like Andrea, I wondered for a bit if ICESAX somehow would work.)

The Big E 5:21 PM  

To all those who have not seen lost:

Neither have I! But I am sure that one day I will watch, forget all about this little exchange on today's blog, and still be able to enjoy the ending after umpteen hours of watching several seasons worth of episodes on DVD! :-)

@Steve J - TOTALLY agree, however, that people need to use the term "Spoiler Alert" more.

JenCT 5:51 PM  

Or just don't be Spoilers at all.

Three and out.

william e emba 6:15 PM  

I too have never seen an episode of Lost. The clue seemed utterly fair.

"Still mooing" is official restaurant slang. The same glossary is in the book The Customer is Always Wrong. I have no idea who stole from whom.

I have to agree with retired chemist. "Calibrate" means set the scale, not refine it. The OED agrees. Yes Merriam-Webster allows the alternate meaning.

Anonymous 6:39 PM  

Some recent uses of "calibrate" in the NYT:

Doctors aided torture by helping to calibrate the levels of pain. Republicans preparing for the supreme court nomination said they would calibrate their fight to how liberal they perceived the choice to be. New insulin delivery devices would continually monitor glucose levels, calibrate insulin dosages, and then dispense the insulin.

It means more than just determining the graduation of an instrument.

dk 6:58 PM  

Dear @masked anon, I prefer the practice of "sycophancy" (raking up material for false charges). And, I thought I had cranky pants.

Re ICESAW - there is a book (name escapes me) on ice, refrigeration of ships,etc. The ICESAW figured prominently as they would harvest ice from NE lakes (Walden Pond for one) and ship it south (in the empty holds of sugar cane transport ships). The primary use of the ice was ice cream (Dolly Madison) and keeping drinks cool (Mojitos).

This book may shed some light on the ICESAW, at any rate it is a good read.

Shameless Plug

retired_chemist 7:51 PM  

@ anon 6:39 -

Yes, there are other meanings to calibrate. I accept the examples you offer. Unfortunately they fit the clue even more poorly than the definition I used. In fact, your post simply reinforced the case against the clue.

retired_chemist 7:54 PM  
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retired_chemist 7:56 PM  
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andrea spoiler michaels 9:00 PM  

Fie on the Masked bully denigrating @dk! He's only (occasionally) sycophantic to ME and I highly encourage that!:)

@retired chemist
I love the word CALIBRATE, am a fellow LIBRA and never noticed if was in the word, but sort of goes nicely with the whole balance thing, no? I am forever trying to name companies some variation of CALIBRATE and succeeded with one medical group now named CALIBRA and we also tied it into the CALI of California.
Btw, for you and @Sundance, Alex Boisvert is very much a man, does not use a nom de plume for his rather poetic French name (The NYT doesn't allow them).

Re: spoiler alerts:
I think on a crossword blog you should only have to do spoiler alerts about the puzzle, but not even that, bec the whole point is to come here after you've finished it. It's not our fault if someone didn't watch "Lost" in real time, is it? I mean, should we have to issue an alert if we want to mention that EVAMARIESAINT's brother (in the film, in case folks are being REALLY literal today) dies in case someone hasn't seen
"On the Waterfront"?

Spoiler alert:
*
*
*
*
Marlon Brando's character could have been a contender!

And speaking of con-tender, please stop eating meat! Let them still moo for godssake!

Sparky 9:01 PM  

Found it easy but DNF. Brain went dead with "Still mooing." Knew axilla from reading Lolita years and years ago. Still don't know EST as ballpark fig. All I know are RBI, MVP, and a couple of others. I'll Google it up. Be good, but not too good.

Inn Dawn 9:04 PM  

Relax, folks. Knowing what you know from this thread about Lost will not detract from your potential enjoyment of it in the future. What made the show great was the mythology and the characters, neither of which has been spoiled for you in this exchange. Did I like the ending? No. But I'll be damned if I didn't enjoy the ride for most of the run. Sorry for my Engrish. To stay on topic, easy puzzle. Insultingly easy for a Wed. Way to give the amateurs (like I) false hope, you crafty constructor you.

andrea not lost michaels 9:06 PM  

ps @greene
Recently saw "On the Waterfront" and realized I had only seen the famous scenes and never the whole film from beginning to end...but I've got to mildly disagree with you today! I found the score really loud and overbearing and intrusive! There wasn't a moment of calm in the whole film and always overwhelmingly telling you what to feel. I like Leonard Bernstein, but ick on this one...the music was almost like one of those late night commercials that are 30X louder than the film you are watching.

Sparky 9:09 PM  

Oh skit! Estimate. Doh! Sorry about that.

Anonymous 9:15 PM  

It is true that you have to be passingly familiar with one of the most hyped television shows of the last decade, but the airline name, OCEANIC, is not, in the context of the show, a "lame bit of trivia." Sorry, but it's not. It's a very prominent piece of information, discussed and mentioned constantly, including in the moniker given the first set of survivors, "The Oceanic Six."

Citizen Dain 9:52 PM  

Loved the theme. Doing the xword every day has really fostered a love of puns, and the literalness of "sign" on the "dotted line" made me very happy.

I don't know if he won an Oscar or not, but my first instinct at the "On the Waterfront" clue (after seeing that Brando and Kazan didn't fit) was BUDDSCHULBERG. Does this mean I know too much about old movies? Luckily EVAMARIESAINT was next when all the crosses failed.

And I saw the clue about "Putting out an ___" and the word "Police" and penciled in "APB". Realized after reading more carefully that this was pretty stupid...

The Big E 10:01 PM  

@Andrea Spoiler Michaels - I can't stop eating meat! Especially because "moo" is cow for "eat me rare!" YUM! :-)) (that is my double chin from eating too much meat!) :-p

sanfranman59 10:25 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 6:41, 6:55, 0.97, 45%, Medium
Tue 7:58, 8:48, 0.91, 23%, Easy-Medium
Wed 9:40, 11:47, 0.82, 10%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:36, 3:41, 0.98, 43%, Medium
Tue 4:08, 4:30, 0.92, 23%, Easy-Medium
Wed 4:55, 5:47, 0.85, 12%, Easy

Masked Anon 10:26 PM  

Anon 9:15
Your over your head here.

These elitist puzzle solvers are only interested in their "pop-culture" or their definitions.

They have the ability to see a show ONE TIME to pass judgement, or as dk said "Lost just sucks."

They find alternate definitions, then argue the clue/answer is still wrong.

If Rex said: "A clue jumped."
They would respond "How high?"

At least Rex gives a honest opinion.
They live to jump on the latest bandwagon.

Steve J 10:30 PM  

@Andrea: Agreed that spoiler alerts could easily be taken too far, but there's a certain amount of what seems reasonable (to me, anyway) restraint to consider on such things.

The last episode of "Lost" was only a month ago. And we're talking about the last episode, where everything's explained. It carries much more weight than any of the other episodes in that regard.

Especially in the era of DVRs, DVDs, Hulu, etc., it's not uncommon for a lot of people to lag behind the broadcast schedule. I'd suggest that things that are recent, and that give away the ending of said recent things, should be candidate for restraint. Especially if its not really cogent to the topic of the crossword puzzle. I had done a good job of avoiding anything that would tell me the ending of "Lost"; the last place I expected to accidentally stumble across it was a crossword blog four weeks after the show was done.

The Big E 10:36 PM  

@Masked Anon:

Point number 1: The word is "you're," not "your."

Point number 2: We all have the ability to watch a show "one time" and pass judgement. It's called "having an opinion." (which you certainly do!)

Point number 3: The issue of finding alternate definitions really leads to the question of "is it correct just because google or Merriam Webster (not the most respected of dictionaries, IMO) shows us that it is used in such a way?" Just because people say irrespective all the time doesn't mean it should be validated as a word, and CERTAINLY not ever appear in a crossword!

Point number 4: If you are SO annoyed, disgusted, irritated, nauseated, etc. by how the people on this blog converse and banter, then why do you read the comments? Stick to Rex's blog and find your own bandwagon! :-p

(not trying to be a total ass, just playfully bantering!)

Rex Parker 10:39 PM  

This little flame war (to which everyone appears to have brought safety matches, thankfully) is over. Thank you.

RP

Sfingi 11:30 PM  

Finally got to it, after a bad tooth day.

It turned out to be easy to fill in. No Googling, etc.

Didn't figure out the theme until all done. Thought the letters under the line were included in some sort of mixing up.

Like that name Boisvert. Never heard it before. Greenwoods?

I suppose the STARS are some sort of sports team?

Also, never heard of OCEANIC air lines, ALI Larter, IRVIN Kershner.

Had Main instead of LIRR. Thought I was at U Penn instead of NYC, I guess.

Mini-theme: Old flames.
EXES to ASHES and Dost Thou to Dust.

Now that I know how Thomas ALVA Edison treated Tesla, I cringe at the name ALVA.

Took STENOgraphy >45 years ago. Took first computer course >40 years ago at a technical school. Not given in colleges yet.

fikink 12:34 AM  

@Rex, at the risk of being accused a sycophant, THANK YOU!!!!

Waxy in Montreal 11:35 AM  

SynCity Quibbling: If a steak is indeed STILL MOOING (1A), BLUE would probably have been a more accurate answer than RARE. (A "blue" steak is very red and cold in the center, while a "rare" steak is red and cool in the center.) Also, in keeping with the flame mini-theme, too bad HOME OF THE FLAMES (Calgary) couldn't have been included in the puzzle perhaps instead of HOME OF THE STARS (Dallas).

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

ICESAW vs. ICEAXE- really?! Not so hard if you think about it. One is used for ice climbing (axe)- the other is used to cut holes in ice (saw). I wouldn't want to be on a frozen lake hacking into it with an axe. Still mooing and reload were my first two answers. I was stuck after trying to use ERA instead of EST for 4D. ELOI is very obsure and I was annoyed with all the "Lost" references too.

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