Pugilists' org. / 7-10-10 / Artist's place / Looney Tunes animator Friz / London weekly, with "The"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Medium


THEME: None

Word of the Day: INFRA DIG (33D: Beneath one's self-respect) —

This derives from the Latin infra dignitatem, literally - 'beneath (one's) dignity'. It is first recorded by William Hazlitt in Table talk; or, original essays on men and manners, 1822 …. The first person to put the shortened infra dig. version into print was Sir Walter Scott. He uses it in his 1825 novel Redgauntlet …. It is now more commonly written without the full stop. Even most of those who realize it is an abbreviation now consider it to be well-enough established not to require it ….

[The Phrase Finder]
• • •
Hi, everyone. PuzzleGirl here with you for this week's Saturday puzzle. Rex is off, I don't know … doing something somewhere. Who cares? The important thing is that we're here and there's a puzzle to talk about.

As you might know, I'm always nervous when I cover for Rex late in the week, because it's not a sure thing that I'll even be able to finish the puzzle. And as much as I know it's nice once in a while to read someone who's, ya know, mortal when it comes to puzzle solving, it still feels like a big drag to me to have to admit my failure so publicly. Fortunately, I didn't have too much trouble today. Yay, me! I mean, I wasn't 100% sure FRELENG (30A: Looney Tunes animator Friz) and INFRA DIG were right (HAha! Just mistyped INFRA DOG), and I still don't get why OTC is 23A: Share letters?, but the crosses on all three of those words looked solid so I put my pencil down and called it good.

This was a typical late-week solving experience for me. First time through the clues, I only had a couple I was sure of: like ALE TAP (12D: Fixture in a pub), OVATION (24A: Big hand), and FIN (43A: 1950s car feature). I built from those few gimmes and plugged away long enough to put it all together. Sure, I mistakenly entered wise men for THE MAGI (49A: Storied gift givers), metals for STONES (14D: Precious ones, possibly), and WBA for IBF (33A: Pugilists' org.), but that all worked itself out eventually. (Just in case you're interested, I did not have that kind of luck with today's L.A. Times puzzle. The post on that puzzle — which, as of right now, I haven't written but I'm sure will be completely pathetic — will be over on my blog. Damn you, Doug Peterson!)

Favorite answers in the grid for me were SOUP BONE (1A: Stock maker's addition) and FAKE TAN (20A: You might have one after spraying yourself). I thought SOUP BONE was going to be some kind of barn or ranch … field or something. (Is there such a thing as a ranch field? It looks pretty dumb now that I've actually typed it out.) And when I got SOUP BONE I thought to myself, "Now there's an awesome 1 Across answer." You know what else that would be awesome as? A blues musician's nickname: Walter "Soup Bone" Hutchins. (I just made that up, but it sounds pretty good, right?) And FAKE TAN makes me think of The Ohio State University wrestling team, which I'm sure no one reading this blog understands or cares about at all. (Let's just say that there's not enough sun in Columbus, Ohio, in the dead of winter for those boys to be that toasty looking.)

Bullets:
  • 9A: Field's pair (OSCARS). I assume this is Sally Field. I'm kind of surprised she only has two.
  • 15A: Site of a college stadium that seats over 100,000 (ANN ARBOR). I thought this might be referring to the stadium at Penn State (which I've seen and is massive), but ANN ARBOR's is twice as massive. Wow! Oh wait, that's wrong. Beaver Stadium started out at under 50,000, but has been renovated since then and is now the third largest stadium in the world. Michigan Stadium has room for about 200 more people. So I was close! (Also: Hi, foodie!)
  • 17A: Not taken in (YET TO SEE). I have YET TO SEE "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," and the second movie in the series is already out, so I believe I'll get my butt in gear and see it this weekend.
  • 41A: Big pistol maker (BERETTA). I misspelled this at first as BaRETTA. Which reminds me: Sammy says "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."
  • 51A: Detective's question (WHO DID IT). For some reason, this really tickled me. I was thinking "Where were you …?" "Can you describe him …?" "Did you notice anything unusual …?" But WHO DID IT? That's a little on the nose, don't you think?
  • 4D: "Ah, But Your Land Is Beautiful" novelist, 1981 (PATON). This is an anti-Apartheid novel by South African Alan Paton. Sounds interesting.
  • 6D: London weekly, with "The" (OBSERVER). Tried Guardian first.
  • 10D: Upset (SHAKEN). Not stirred.
  • 22D: Artist's place (ATELIER). I distinctly remember learning this word from Gertrude Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.
  • 42D: Extremely (EVER SO). Does Dorothy use this phrase in "The Wizard of Oz"? Because whenever I see it, in my head I hear it in her voice.
See you back here tomorrow!

Love, PuzzleGirl

[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

P.S. If you live in the D.C. area or are close enough that you would consider attending a puzzle tournament here, please pop over to my blog and participate in the poll I've just added. It will only take a second — the poll is right at the top of my sidebar. Thanks!

58 comments:

andrea moaner michaels 1:13 AM  

Hi PuzzleGirl!
OTC is Over The Counter, I guess how you can buy shares. Ok, now you tell me what IDF (WTF?) is!

I too did the BaRETTA thing and then changed it to BoRETTA, thinking "Extremely" is oVERSO, no?

Had to google PATON when I came to a standstill...but only half-kicking myself bec I knew it was South African, and got it when I saw just the name Alan, but I was trying to come up with Nadine Gordimer.
I mean doesn't "Ah, But your Land is Beautiful" sound like "Cry, the Beloved Country"?
(Oh wait, just googled THAT and it's also Alan PATON...wow. I guess he has a naming style.)

FAKETAN was my first answer, so I had high expectations.
But in the end, I didn't actually like this puzzle, but I can't tell you why. I suspect lack of X, Q, Z type letters, so when I was in a corner, I just saw lots of common letters and so I felt any answer could have been anything.

I mean the grid looks cool, but too much RETAGS, TAPETO, ESTERS, GOESOVER, RISEN, NOES for my taste.
Does that make me a KVETCH? And shouldn't even that be a KVETCHER?
oy.

re: "Hi, Foodie!" I'm going to make you radically jealous by announcing I get to see her when she comes to SF this week!

Greene 1:39 AM  

Medium? MEDIUM? Zoiks, this puzzle just kicked me to hell and back, Puzzle Girl. I spent two hours struggling through this! Two hours!! I need a stiff drink and one of those 52A ESTERS thingies. It is a pretty amazing grid though. Well worth the effort expended, I think.

Should I be embarrased that my first entry in the grid was Friz FRELENG? An admission to way too many hours spent watching cartoons. Second entry into the grid was THE MAGI. So far, so good. And then the errors started coming fast and furious.

I had The GUARDIAN before The OBSERVER, NSAIDS before ESTERS, THOU before THEE (that one was really hard to let go of), QUARTO before OCTAVO, and most annoying WHINER before MOANER (making SAYS MORE impossible to see). There were many, many others. I can't even remember them all now. Thank goodness I solve online or I would have erased multiple holes in the page.

Strangest Answer: INFRA DIGS. (WTF?)

Strangest Looking Answer: A AVERAGE. It's actually a pretty cool entry, but the collision of double As looks weird in the grid.

Most Irritating Conversational Answers: YET TO SEE, TAPE TO, GET A LINE, SAYS MORE, ONE TO TEN, and WHO DID IT. (Does any detective ever actually ask WHO DID IT? I can't imagine any criminal is going to step forward and say IT WAS ME. Ooh, we should have had IT WAS ME in the grid too! Or maybe IT WAS I or TWAS I or some such nonsense).

Absolute Favorite Answer: FAKE TAN, although TIN EAR was a close second (with an especially tricky clue).

I'm not even going to attempt the LAT until I get a good night's sleep. You've already made me nervous about it PG! Thanks for all your great comments here, but I'd still rate this puzzle @&*&$* HARD!

chefwen 2:08 AM  

Roared through the east coast like a house a fire and came to a screeching halt on the west coast, especially in the southwest, AGAIN! I may never visit my beloved second home of San Diego. Sniff!!

Another DNF.

C'mon Sunday, let's have some fun.

Clark 3:11 AM  

Mr. REE, detective, was thinking over the night’s events. “WHO DID IT?”, he asked himself. Niece Rhoda was dead, surely the FAIREST of the guests that evening. The BERETTA that did her in belonged to Mr. Perrin -- no doubt about that. But as much as he disliked the man, with his FAKE TAN and that ubiquitous SNEER, he knew he coudn’t have done it. REE had just passed the wood shed earlier when he heard the voices of Perrin and Artist George coming from the Pagoda. That George was a real MOANER, and he and Perrin seem to have worked things up into a real FEVER. REE was just stepping into the Pagoda at exactly ONE TO TEN when he heard the shot. Perrin and Artist George, quite SHAKEN, BROKE OFF immediately. “God Lord, man, put that SOUP BONE away!” cried REE, as he dashed to the house. Niece Rhoda lay in a pool of blood in the Orchid Room. Had Aunt Cora finally AVENGED the “accidental” death of her husband? That old woman had some STONES on her. The idea of revenge had GNAWED AT her for years. The fact that she had joined the NRA and learned to shoot SAYS MORE, thought REE, than all of her holier than thou ways. She emerged from the Blue Room, looking EVER SO composed, the very idea of speaking with the detective being so obviously INFRA DIG . . .

Parshutr 7:02 AM  

@andreamoaner...the only IDF I'm familiar with is the Israeli Defense Forces (Army). And no, a kvetch is both the complaint and the complainer.
BAretta...me too.

imsdave 7:02 AM  

Challenging, yet again, but I finished. I love it when I can plop 1A right in. MIREPOIX. And so it went. Nice word of the day PG - that cost me an extra ten minutes as I just didn't believe it.

Good day all - off to the links.

redhed 8:07 AM  

This one kicked me majorly in the shins and ran off laughing. DNF -- not even close. No fun for me! Like Chefwen, looking (hopefully) to tomorrow.

JayWalker 8:26 AM  

I just Love Joe DePietro puzzles! He always kicks my butt but I have such a good time getting hammered! I had one mistake - "nots" for "noes" - which I should have caught, but I have yet to see "yet to see". Beats me what I thought it was, but not that. I finally just gave up and gave in. But the sense of satisfaction in sort-of finishing a DiPietro?? Intense. Good way to start a Saturday.

Armourer 8:30 AM  

M: Armourer! (to Bond) Take off your jacket! Give me your gun.Yes, I thought so. This damn Beretta again. I’ve told you about this before. (to Boothroyd) You tell him — for the last time!

MAJOR BOOTHROYD: Nice and light — in a lady’s handbag.
No stopping power.

M: Any comments Double-O Seven?

JAMES BOND: I disagree sir. I’ve used a Beretta for ten years — I’ve never missed with it yet!

M: Maybe not, but it jammed on your last job and you spent six months in hospital in consequence. If you carry a Double-O number it means you’re licenced to kill not get killed. And another thing. Since I’ve been head of MI7 there’s been a 40 percent drop in Double-O operative casualties, and I want it to stay that way. You’ll carry the Walther — unless of course you’d prefer to go back to standard intelligence duties.

JAMES BOND: No sir. I would not.

M: Then from now on you carry a different gun, show him armourer.

MAJOR BOOTHROYD: Walther PPK 7.65 mil with a delivery like a brick through a plate-glass window. Takes a Brausch silencer with very little reduction in muzzle velocity — the American CIA swear by them.

Cathyat40 8:35 AM  

@Clark - LOL!

Finished in one hour with SEVENTEEN incorrect squares! That's a new low for me. Of course, I knew some of it was wrong, or else there was some kind of strange theme going on that resulted in several answers that looked wrong :) like wNFnADIG instead of INFRADIG.

bigredanalyst 8:52 AM  

IBF (not IDF) is International Boxing Federation.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:52 AM  

I thought this was a good, solid Saturday puzzle. Took me an hour, but finished correctly with the only scribbling over at most of the letters of YETTOSEE (Thank you, Puzzle Girl, for parsing that for me.)

As did @Greene, I put in Friz FRELENG first. I have a vague memory that when I was in college, everyone would cheer at Freleng's name at the beginning of Roadrunner cartoons at the Saturday movies.

Leslie 9:13 AM  

Whew. Got it, liked it, but my paper copy does Not Look Good. Had "wrote off" instead of BROKE OFF at 5D, which made me want some kind of cooking wine for 1A until I finally got "The OBSERVER." Had "docile" instead of DOVISH at 39D, but once I remembered BOGART--love ya, Bogie!--that gave me AVENGED, which cleaned things up.

Jo 9:39 AM  

Dnf. Thought if I googled a few of the names (the stadium, looney tunes animator) I would get there but still no go. Had WHINER for MOANER, BARETTA of course for BERETTA, did not know SHORTO or ESTERS. Ended up frustrated and think will take some of those ESTERS. Only for sure thing was PATON, whose books I have read, and SE came in pretty quickly. Otherwise, BBLLLGG!

rolin mains 9:41 AM  

if this were my first NYT puzzle, i would never do them again.

from "SHORTO" to the clue at 38d (Balls with bands) to 17a (Not taken in...is YETTOSEE?? if you're not taken in, you SEE and are not fooled by it) to "INFRADIG" (which gets a huge WTF? from me).

too many weird twists and turns effected my trust in the puzzle to even carry on to finish it.

bru.tal.

CaseAce 10:06 AM  

Thanks go out to "Joltin Joe, DiPietro" for this weekender mindbender that has me FRELENG good!
Not that I came anywhere close to solving this nutcracker, you understand! hahahahaha

nanpilla 10:17 AM  

NOT TAKEN IN could also mean that you haven't been able to understand it yet, but that's a stretch.

Thought this one was challenging, but finished with no errors. Had to do it in the paper this morning, and there are quite a few thin spots in there - lots of erasing. Having quarto and adhere in the northeast really slowed that corner down. Finally just erased the whole corner and started over.

joho 10:34 AM  

Well, I went with the United Boxing Federation as uNFRADIG looked good to me. That's my one error and I'm happy to have done that well. I had writeovers all over the place. NOno before NOES and SWAle before SWARD were two.

@Clark ... good job!

@Andrea Moaner ... I'm jealous that you and Foodie are getting together again!

Joe DiPietro ... you're evil! But in a good way!

Smitty 10:38 AM  

Is there a DNS-(did not start)?
Mean tricky puzzle with way too many alternative answers that got me into quicksand without a single gettable reference to cling to.
to all who rated it medium... I am not worthy.

CaseAce 10:52 AM  

I say, CLARK, whether you be male or female, I thoroughly enjoyed your mystery format recap of today's puzzle EVER SO much and I strongly recommend you look into taking some evening Creative Writing courses on "WHO DID IT" novels!
Of course, I'm just kidding, you're undoubtedly way beyond that and are making a nice living at this craft?

Juicepit 11:03 AM  

OTC is the old way of saying NASDAQ stocks. There were "listed" meaning, NYSE listed, and "OTC"... that nomenclature's gone the way of the dodo tho.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

"Ever so" is a repeated phrase by Marilyn Monroe in either Gentlemen Prefer Blondes or Some Like It Hot. It's her voice I hear when I hear that phrase. Did Judy Garland use it in Wizard of Oz too? Anybody know for sure?

CaseAce 11:13 AM  

Look here, PuzzleGirl, always a pleasure to see you here filling in for Sir Rex, and don't ever sell yourself short when attempting to tackle late week Xwords, although, I must say, this particular entry by Mr. DiPietro, is considerably beyond
your rating of "Medium" challenging.
And in closing PG "You keep coming back like a song" as the lyrics go, I believe?

mitchs 11:13 AM  

As an Ohio boy, I confidently put in Columbus for the stadium clue after getting the "B" in OBSERVER. (Considered Pasedena before the B fell.)

Finally fixed that after a long me vs. puzzle staring contest.

Guessed right at INFRADIG.

Great write up, PG, but beg to differ on "Medium".

ArtLvr 11:13 AM  

@ rolin mains, You may have TAKEN IN a film someone mentions, whereas I have YET TO SEE it. I know that's not as common as the sense of "being fooled", but it's in the language. I first went with RELEASED, for "not arrested" or taken in by cops!

In fact, I struggled as much as Greene and others but finally got it done. The NW was definitely the hardest, needing to give up ROSEMARY for the SOUP BONE. Darned funny in retrospect...

∑;)

HudsonHawk 11:21 AM  

Will be interested to see sanfranman's rating, since I also felt this was Challenging.

And like many others, I can't believe INFRA DIG was right. WTF? indeed...

David L 11:21 AM  

Almost abandoned ship after getting the middle and southern sections, then finding myself stuck with COLUMBUS and QUARTO and a whole lot of white space -- but I kept adding and deleting words until the light dawned, and finished in a so-so time. SOUPBONE and OSCARS were the key discoveries... Nice cluing, tricky fill. As it should be.

womindis: well, hey, maybe yours do, but mine are all sweetness and light!

mac 11:32 AM  

Good morning everybody!
Got my Herald Tribune this morning and found the Sunday puzzle.... Too bad, I guess this was a nice, chewy one.

Yesterday it was as hot in Holland as it was in NY last week, but unfortunately there is not a lot of AC.... Everything is orange here, houses are decorated, stores have all their orange wares in the front, pastries have orange glaze, even saw a dyed baguette. So much excitement, and the mood is fantastic!

Wish us luck tomorrow!

Van55 12:13 PM  

Penn State's Beaver Stadium has a seating capacity of 107,282. U. Mich's stadium in Ann Arbor has (as of 2009) a seating capacity of 106,201.

Tough, tough puzzle for me today. DNF.

PuzzleGirl 12:13 PM  

Hey, everybody. I just wanted to pop in and say that I always hate picking a "relative difficulty" for the puzzle. It's just so subjective, right? The reason I chose medium for today is because I was able to finish it. I figure on a late-week puzzle if it's any more than medium, I'm going to be DNF. From the comments here and elsewhere, it looks like this is more in the hard/challenging range and I was just lucky. I guess we'll see what the numbers say!

Merriam-Webster 12:23 PM  

C'mon, folks! infra dig was the word of the day just three days ago!

joho 12:24 PM  

Hey, PuzzleGirl ... loved your writeup! And you're right, the rating is so subjective. I think you were on Mr. DiPietro's wave length, for sure. I definitely found it challenging.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Face it, PG, you're just a better solver than the other bloggers. You're also a more entertaining writer but that's another story.

HudsonHawk 12:42 PM  

PuzzleGirl is being modest. I've sat near her at the last two ACPTs and last year's Lollapuzzoola, and she pretty consistently finishes before I do.

XOXO, PG...

Bob Kerfuffle 12:45 PM  

By the way, as a leading member of the Failing Eyesight Division of Rexville, I kept reading 31 D, "Badminton dinks" as "Badminton dRinks" and puzzled mightily over the question of whether such "drinks" were related to the geographic location of Badminton, England (After finishing the puzzle, I looked it up; there is such a place.) or if there is some drink associated with the sport of badminton as the julep is associated with the Kentucky Derby!

(Blogger says it had a problem -- has this comment posted?)

foodie 12:59 PM  

My first day back from grandma duty and what do I find in my Saturday puzzle? My home town as a big fat gimme!! A hello from PG!!! And then a sweet comment from Andrea!!!! How cool is that? Is there such a thing a Supra DIG? Although Andrea, you have it backwards, my dear. I'm positive they're jealous of me! Let's ask DK, for example.

My quick and dirty index says that this puzzle will be on the challenging end, although my index is work in progress. We shall see. But I too found it medium for a Saturday. I think a lot depends on having one's gimmes in strategic spots.

I wanted FAUX TAN, since FAUX seems FAKER than FAKE. For Aspirin and such I wanted NSAIDS. And I stared for a while at TAKE TO crossing CAKER, until I went through the alphabet in search of that P.

Hi mac! I hope you're enjoying home.

jae 1:18 PM  

Me too for SWALE joho, and FAUXTAN foodie. This was way easier than yesterday's for me. I had it at easy-medium with SE being the reason for medium. The first thing I put in was SOUPBONE and was off to a faster than usual Sat. plod. Nice puzzle. My only gripe is that 54A maybe should have had a "?."

jfiddler 1:23 PM  

I was sure 15A was Pasadena, site of the Rose Bowl. Who knew there were multiple 100,000+ college stadia (not stadiums!) in locations with eight letters?!

jesser 3:20 PM  

No time. Definitely challenging from this end, and INFRADIG may as well be a captcha. Writeovers were at 23A (where I wanted Our), 12D (where I wanted keg TAP), 22D (where I wanted the exquisitely wrong garrett) and 33A (where I wanted ABA, because I know squat from boxing). I then came here to learn that I did not learn a new word (aVERSO), and I cannot spell BeRETTA. So much for my A AVERAGE! Happy Saturday, all, and thanks PG for the funny writeup!

ireashn! (We'd had too much to drink but we still wanted more, so this is what I told my buddy as I extended my arm toward the unopened bottle on the top shelf.) -- jesser

PuzzleNut 3:22 PM  

Big fat DNF. My NW was nothing but write-overs. I actually had a few answers correct at one point, but never got enough crosses to confirm anything.
Seems like I had just about every wrong answer listed by other commenters. Figured ?BF had to be either A, I, U or W and none of them made sense with ?NFRADIG, so I figured I must have some mistake in there.
Liked AAVERAGE as that had me stumped for the longest time. I had the AA and was trying to fit AAMILNE or AABATTERY in there (makes no sense and doesn't fit).
Had the OBSERVER and confidently threw down columBus and never recovered. Finally saw that it had to be wrong, but now michigan didn't fit. AARGH - my son lives in ANNARBOR and went to school there - how could I have missed that. Other wrong guesses included swOreOFF, mattER, byo (for OTC). The worst part is that after checking here, all the answers up there are gettable. Oh well, some days the old brain just is not in sync with the puzzle.

Greene 3:24 PM  

@Puzzle Girl & Anon 11:09

Dorothy never says EVER SO in The Wizard of Oz. She does repeatedly use the exclamation "Oh!" so maybe that's what's ringing the memory bell for Puzzle Girl. Marilyn Monroe repeatedly uses the line "Thank you EVER SO!" in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes where it's used almost as a character signature for Lorelei Lee. She does not use the line in Some Like It Hot, although Jack Lemon (as Daphne) lets loose with a "Thank you EVER SO" shortly after first appearing in drag, mostly because it's his idea of how a lady would talk.

Since Hot was released about 6 years after Blondes, I've always thought that Lemon's line was an inside joke and sort of a tribute to Monroe's star turn as Lorelei Lee. I have no idea if that's true. It might just be a coincidence.

Anonymous 3:44 PM  

Whodidit is a good answer to 51 Across IMO, because of the echo of Whodunit. There is the whole genre of detective fiction that are Whodunits.

So Whodidit seems slyly apropos to me for Detective's question.

Leon 4:11 PM  

Dorothy uses the term "ever so" twice in Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz:

Chap 4 : "No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home."

Chap 5 :"He isn't heavy a bit," said Dorothy eagerly, "for he is stuffed with straw; and if you will bring him back to us, we shall thank you ever and ever so much."

JC66 5:05 PM  

Help, please.

I just got a MacBook Pro and when I download puzzles they open in Black Ink instead of Across Lite. How do I reconfigure so Across Lite becomes the default app?

Thanks.

Jerry

michael 5:15 PM  

Not a good puzzle for me -- missed the northeast completely except for aaverage.

Could someone explain shorto? Even after googling, I don't get it.

JC66 5:31 PM  

@michael

I think it'sparsed short o.

Two Ponies 5:54 PM  

Some of this puzzle rocked and some of it really stunk.
@ micheal, Your question is a good example of the stinky stuff. The answer "Short O" has nothing to do with chemistry but relates to the pronunciation of the O's.
So much ambiguity in the clues.
My NE corner was a complete mes of write-overs. Glue to. take to , etc.
Swards never occurred to me.
Plans, llanas, swales all were tried.
Totally agree with @jesser that infradig was gibberish.
Mostly I came to post so I could cheer on @mac and her countrymen.
We have our day planned around the game. A brunch of cheese and mushroom omelettes with Bloody Marys since the game starts at 11:30 a.m. is the front end of the plan. Who knows what the back end of the party will be.
I'm really glad the US is not in the final game. The Cup belongs to a country where they actually care.

Tinbeni 7:04 PM  

Well this is interesting.
I finish the NYT on a Saturday and get
my ass-kicked by the LAT.

As for the "relative difficulty" rating by PuzzleGirl of Medium. On a scale of ONE TO TEN, I'd give this an 8.5, maybe a 9 ...

Now the PuzzleGirl write-up?
That was a 10 !!!

sanfranman59 7:53 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 no data
Tue 8:14, 8:48, 0.94, 36%, Easy-Medium
Wed 16:06, 11:49, 1.36, 96%, Challenging
Thu 13:19, 19:08, 0.70, 5%, Easy
Fri 31:39, 26:40, 1.19, 82%, Challenging
Sat 38:52, 30:47, 1.26, 94%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon no data
Tue 4:11, 4:31, 0.93, 25%, Easy-Medium
Wed 7:42, 5:48, 1.33, 96%, Challenging
Thu 6:10, 9:09, 0.67, 2%, Easy
Fri 14:15, 12:57, 1.10, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 24:20, 17:33, 1.39, 96%, Challenging

After seeing PG's Medium rating, I'm relieved that the statistics place this one in the Challenging category. It certainly kicked my butt all over kingdom come. In fact, only Tim Croce's 4/16/2010 and Bob "The Wrath of" Klahn's 11/6/2009 puzzles have higher Top 100 median solve times among the 48 Saturday puzzles in my spreadsheet. I'm a little surprised that no one else has commented on the use of CAPER as a verb form. I think of the word as a noun (i.e. a prank or an escapade). I don't think I was aware that it could be a verb.

Dmitri Mendeleev 10:20 PM  

@Michael and @Two Ponies -- Since 64 A, Element of radon or xenon, refers to two chemical elements, they clearly cannot have an "element" in common in the chemical sense, so the clue must refer to the words as words.

This type of clue is fairly common; it is hardly the stuff of rare earths.

foodie 10:27 PM  

@sanfranman, so glad to see this rating, as well!

I agree with the CAPER as verb being odd-- never heard of it before.

Has a man ever uttered "EVER SO"?

@Clark, I really loved your tale. For a while, I read British mystery stories assiduously and you have definitely captured that mood.

HudsonHawk 11:50 PM  

@sanfranman, thanks for confirming what most of us knew: This puzzle was brutally tough, and PuzzleGirl is smart and stuff. 96th percentile for the top 100 solvers is definitely well above the A AVERAGE cut-off.

Ben 1:51 AM  

Tough puzzle, good writeup, Bass out.

Ruth 7:55 AM  

I'm pretty sure Mark Twain had the Duke and/or the Dauphin "capering" in their show as they scammed their way along the lower Mississippi.

Anonymous 2:19 AM  

Catching up after a 3 day layoff over the weekend.

I too started with mirepoix, and things went downhill from there.

captcha: submen - they who live INFRADIG?

CoffeeLvr 10:30 AM  

Hi, I am testing from Syndi land.

CoffeeLvr 11:12 AM  

Hello, again, still testing. Next step, subscribe to the puzzle online!

Jeff 1:44 PM  

Agree "caper" can be used as a verb. Good call on the Huck Finn reference and I think Shakespeare uses in in Twelfth Night and elsewhere.

Tough puzzle, but it's what Saturdays are all about for me. Never feels right if it's too easy and I fly through it. I like the hour or so spent puzzling and parsing it all out.

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