Walsh NBA executive / THU 7-29-10 / Chan portrayer in film / Hoopster Mourning / Battle Blue Licks fighter 1782 / Enchanted world in Return of Jedi

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: MIDDLE / SCHOOL (3D: With 44-Down, educational stage ... or a hint to the contents of 18-, 22-, 47- and 53-Across) — four "schools" can be found in (roughly) the "middle" of four theme answers:

  • SANDRAKES (18A: Golf groundskeepers' tools)
  • MILEHIGHSTADIUM (22A: Broncos' home, once)
  • CENTERICECIRCLE (47A: Place for an N.H.L. logo)
  • STAYALERT (53A: "Keep your eyes open!")

Word of the Day: DONNIE Walsh (2D: ___ Walsh, N.B.A. executive) —
Joseph Donald Walsh Jr., better known as Donnie Walsh (born March 1, 1941 in New York City) is a former professional basketball coach, and currently the president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks. [...] Walsh's first major signing came on July 8, 2010, when he signed Amar'e Stoudemire to a five-year, $100 million contract. (wikipedia)
• • •

There are a few high points in this puzzle, but they aren't enough to overcome a clunky, awkwardly executed theme. "MIDDLE" is a misnomer, for starts. Absolutely none of the "schools" are truly centered. Second, why these schools? What do they have in common? Were they the only ones that could be fit in the (putative) "middle" of phrases? Who knows? Lastly: CENTER ICE CIRCLE!?!? The term "CENTER (or CENTRE!) ICE" is incredibly common. I've literally never heard "CIRCLE" added to the mix. I have no doubt that there is a circle there in which one might find an NHL logo, but CENTER ICE CIRCLE is such a horrifically tin-eared answer, so outside common usage, that the vibrancy and coolness of the phrase / concept is just lost. Killed. The robots pretending to be humans would call it "CENTER ICE CIRCLE." Reminds me of when Apu tries to make himself seem as "American" as possible to keep from being deported, and so starts up a conversation with Homer about baseball; in a flat, Indian-accent-free, voice, he says: "What do you say we take a relaxed attitude towards work and watch the baseball game? The NY [he pronounces it "nye"] Mets are my favorite squadron."

I wonder if anyone else got MIDDLE SCHOOL and then got MILE HIGH STADIUM and thought "middle" words in theme answers would be kinds of schools, e.g. HIGH schools ...



Clear ambition toward Scrabbly letters today, though many are packed into the threes in the middle of the grid (not terribly impressive). Love QUANDARY (35D: Bind) and YUKS IT UP (11D: Has some laughs) and WENT SOUR (8D: Fell apart, as a deal). Did not know DOMINICA was a place (51A: Roseau is its capital). Is it related to The Dominican Republic? Apparently not—it's a small island in the Caribbean, only 291 sq. miles and a pop. of around 73K. Lots of random people who aren't that famous. Some guy whose middle name is TER!? (5D: Dutch painter Gerard ___ Borch). The guy who played Charlie Chan a million years ago (10D: Chan portrayer in film => OLAND). And then DONNIE Walsh, whoa. Weird to expect most people to know him, or even have heard of him. If I hadn't been following free agency news this summer, I sure wouldn't know him.

Bullets:
  • 17A: Enchanted world in "Return of the Jedi" (ENDOR) — forest moon where Ewoks live. I didn't read clue closely enough at first and wrote in NABOO :(
  • 32A: Rural musical instruments (JUGS) — First (possibly only) time I saw someone play a JUG was in The Country Bears Jamboree at Disneyland.
  • 37A: "The Basement ___" (1975 Dylan album) ("TAPES") — Don't know the album, but that's a really familiar phrase. Perhaps someone else borrowed it ... Whoaaaaaooa. *This* must be how I first heard the phrase. How funny / sad / flashbacky:


  • 40A: Flying Tiger Line hub, for short (LAX) — wrote in LAX only because of "hub," not bec. I have Any idea what Flying Tiger Line is (appears to have been a cargo line bought out by FedEx in the late '80s)
  • 43A: It came out of Cicero's mouth (VOX) — Latin for "voice."
  • 55A: Battle of Blue Licks fighter, 1782 (BOONE) — never want that guy to be anything but 19th-century. I think I'm getting him confused with Davy Crockett. Yes. Yes I am.
  • 9D: Casino chain founder William F. ___ (HARRAH) — no idea. I mean, I've heard of HARRAH's, obviously, but never considered there was an eponym.
  • 31D: Titter in a tweet (LOL) — Read it as [Twitter in a tweet], which makes no sense.
  • 37D: Shout made with a raised arm (TAXI!) — first answer: TADA!


  • 40D: "Mi Vida ___," gritty 1994 drama set in L.A. ("LOCA") — fans / enemies of Ricky Martin could simply intuit this one.
  • 49D: Sorceress on the island of Aeaea (CIRCE) — AEAEA = evidence that some words have too many vowels even for crosswords (i.e. I almost never see AEAEA).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

93 comments:

retired_chemist 12:54 AM  

What Rex said. Schools not centered. Is it enough to have the commonality be that all are private? Don't think so....

Georgetown (see 9A)is another. Wonder if the four schools in question ADMIT RAW HOYAS, presumably as transfer students?

Slowed down a bit by having QUAGMIRE @ 35D and VOILE @ 14A.

ADOZE? OLAND? Really?

Anonymous 1:32 AM  

lousy puzzle. gave up (which I never do, even on a wicked Saturday), out of annoyance

CoolPapaD 1:34 AM  

Sorry to disagree with our host and r_c, but I really loved this one, mainly because of the loud "aha moment" I had when I saw LEHIGH almost instantly in the middle (yes, it's not on the ends, so it's in the middle) of MILE HIGH STADIUM, and caught on to the theme. Maybe it's a blessing that I know nothing about hockey, because I thought that CENTER ICE CIRCLE was perfectly valid.

CISTERNS are little "pockets" of cerebrospinal fluid within the nooks and crannies of the brain - I've never heard the word used outside of neuroanatomy. Then again, I don't get out much.

Loved Bath suds? and Plain homes? the best.

This has been a really nice puzzle week, IMO.

Steve J 1:34 AM  

Very similar thoughts as Rex on this one. Liked quite a bit - some great cluing with "Titter in a tweet" and "Cow cover" - but also found CENTERICECIRCLE to be one of the clunkiest things I've seen in a while. I suppose someone might say it to distinguish from the other faceoff circles, but even then people just say there's a faceoff at center ice.

Couldn't figure out the theme as I was doing this. Precisely because I was looking for something in the middle. Didn't find anything there. Tried looking vertically as well, if there was perhaps something going on vertically. Maybe I was being too literal - the schools clearly aren't at the ends, and colloquial use of "middle" doesn't necessitate exact positioning (e.g. "I'm in the middle of something") - but it does feel off.

D_Blackwell 1:56 AM  

Well, I cracked the crossword, but didn't come close to cracking the theme. Do I declare success or failure?

HIGH threw me off, as intended I reckon. Then I shifted gears and went way off course, deciding that SAND RAKE could be Q School, and STAY could be obedience school.....oy. If I'd looked at it correctly and found YALE or RICE..... All in how you look at it I guess, though the revealer or hint didn't give much.

Only an F missing from a pangram which could have easily been achieved with WENT SOFT, COL, CFO, DETOO.

chefwen 2:33 AM  

As D_Blackwell did - got the puzzle finished but never got to the schools. I'm still declaring it a success.

Had a few thing earmarked to Google to get a toe hold but our damn server was down, so I poured myself a big glass of wine to take out to the lanai and struggle with the puzzle and before I knew it, I had the puppy finished.

Messed myself big time at 1A by putting in alter, fixing that was my last chore, but fix it I did .

The CLYDE river was a gimme for me, lived very close to it for five years when I was a wee bairn.

Another good puzzle from Mr. Collins, thank you.

jae 2:59 AM  

Me too with Rex on this one, plus with ret_chem. on QUAGMIRE. Medium seems about right but NW took me more time than it should have. A step down from yesterday.

Miss Jugs 3:19 AM  

VOX Rex, VOX populi

syndy 4:08 AM  

more okays than ahas for me-given the list=drake=rice=lehigh=yale-probably woundn't have quessed schools anyway.one awful lot of junk fill. never heard raw bar and even thou I know nothing about hockey center circle seems dumb now repeat after me -abutaollaxloarpmvoxsat-just sad

Jesse 7:20 AM  

What Rex said, plus I had a total natick at ALULA/OLAND.

Never got the theme, and now that I see it, think it was poorly executed.

I was sure center ice circle was wrong - came here to see WTF it was meant to be.

We're supposed to know the capitals of countries that obscure??

Meh.

SethG 7:45 AM  

The NY Times review of Baudolino made me want to read that book less than any book I have ever heard of before. I did learn 23 new words while reading it, though.

I finished the puzzle, found the theme, looked some more to see if that was actually the theme because I couldn't believe Drake would be one of the schools. It's in Iowa. Turns out, I can spell neither QUANDARY nor YUKS.

joho 8:09 AM  

When I finished and got the theme I saw HIGH first and wondered why that would be part of a MIDDLESCHOOL. Then I saw YALE, added the LE to HIGH and circled RICE and DRAKE. The fact that the schools are not in the middle really bothered me. Maybe the theme should have been PRESCHOOL or POSTGRADSCHOOL.

Jo 8:11 AM  

Got a foothold in lower left, worked my way up from there and got stymied in the top, left and right. Never heard of HOYAS, nor DONNIE nor HARRAH, nor ALULA ending Be-Bop for which I had BERIBA as per Garrison Keeler's rhubarb pie. Had HIGH STADIUM but could not get to MILE. All all is ignorance of names, sports, etc. BLLLLLG.

GlennCY 8:19 AM  

I play hockey - and use the term center ice circle regularly, its a common phrase in the game.

David 8:22 AM  

The Washington Capitals - alas, from best to worse in the playoffs - introduced me to "CENTER ICE CIRCLE." It's real, and flows anyway once "center" emerges.

But "ADOZE?" Made me think of NoDoze....

Finally a relatively easy Thursday, not great but attainable.

Gravelle 8:24 AM  

A Mephistophelian Karloff sings a nice aria in Charlie Chan at the Opera. The opera written by Oscar Levant.

Oscar 8:27 AM  

Wow - this guy must be Will's favorite. Next to Paula G., he has the most puzzles so far this year.
http://www.xwordinfo.com/AuthorByYear

Van55 8:47 AM  

Theme sucks. Fill inhales sharply for the most part. Liked YUKSITUP and, a Georgetown grad liked seeing HOYAS and ALONZO.

tptsteve 9:02 AM  

I was looking for kinds of school, after I picked up 22A and the Middle School answers right off the bat. The actual theme was way off my radar. Mis-direction is one thing, but there's got to be truth in advertising.
That said, I liked the fill, and finishing was a challenge and fun, and you really can't ask for too much more.

But

dk 9:08 AM  

** (2 Stars) Wanted SANDworms.

Had tada for TAXI and balm for TALC.

Only got CENTERICECIRCLE through the crosses and I will defer to the pucksters amongst us as to its validity.

Umberto ECO is not one of my goto authors and as @Sethg is smarter at math than me I will take his review at face value plus one.

The rest is typical Thursday some interesting, as noted above, fill.

@Rex's domination of the puzzle world is becoming clear as his favorite restaurant is now in every day. Watch for -- blogger breakfast: pigsinablanket.

archaeoprof 9:13 AM  

So-so puzzle. Never knew that ABUT could mean "rest on." In archaeology we use that word to describe two walls which meet but do not interlock.

jesser 9:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 9:20 AM  

Thought "Middle" was going to appear as in CENTER(icecircle)-type answers, so I never saw the embedded schools even as I got the answers (as in, "What's so 'middle' about STAY ALERT?"). Some fun stuff, mostly humph.

jesser 9:21 AM  

No time. Any puzzle with RAW BAR in it is gonna be hard for me to dislike. When I lived in Baton Rouge, I had a favorite RAW BAR just across the street from Jimmy Swaggart's sprawling Campus of Prostitution and Evangelism. (Sorry to be redundant.) Doug was the shucker and sauce boss. That man was genius.

Really wanted I fOld at 4D, but it was not to be.

Bleef! (I bleef I'll have another dozen, Doug!) -- jesser

Zeke 9:24 AM  

I saw RICE and DRAKE and thought that the theme might be kind of cakes. Ok, no I didn't. I didn't see anything. I blanked out the fact that there was a theme reveal, and just stared at the two 15s wondering what the hell it could be. Then looked all over, and still got nothing. I think that this is a circle puzzle which at least had the decency to attempt not to be a circle puzzle, but was denying its true nature, as it needed to ba a circle puzzle, therefore something which shouldn't exist.
I loved The Name of The Rose, at least the 25% I could actually read and understand, i.e. the sections not in Latin or archaic Italian dialects, and the parts which relied heavily on these sections. Made me want to love ECO. Turns out, only "The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana" is readable, and even that does you no good, as you will insist that the book is entitled "The Mysterious Flame of Queen Latifah" when discussing it, making you look like an idiot and/or poser. I shall now move Baudolino further down my reading pile.

mitchs 9:26 AM  

Hand up for being led astray by HIGH, QUAGMIRE, TADA (but what phrase ends in CARCLE?) and, if it's possible, an emphatic "meh" upon discovering the erratic theme.

Anyone else looking for a "TH" rebus after coming upon WENTSOU_?

Miss Muddle 9:37 AM  

Had adopt for admit, Toler for Oland (I admit it...I'm and old movie freak), I'm out for I lose, toule for toile. That left me muddled. Once these were fixed, got the theme easily. Oh yes, and I did not have a problem with the schools being not exactly in the middle.

chefbea 9:54 AM  

Did not like this puzzle!!. Got middle school and kept looking at all the long answers but could not see the school names.

Had toque again!! and Endor

Sparky 10:13 AM  

I got SCHOOL first. Then espied YALE and kind of guessed MIDDLE. But confused as yale is a university. Ah well. Oland was an old favorite in puzzles at one time. ENDOR and HOYAS both in just recently. DNF--stuck in NW. Had raLEHIGH and adopt which I erased and left blank. RIODE (diode?) stopped me briefly but I spaced it out. The blog has helped me a lot with seeking different slants and spacings on words. Thanks Rex and you all. Onward to Friday.

Jayke 10:13 AM  

Shout made with a raised arm (TAXI). Rex had TADA. I had TORO. Who knew there were this many words beginning with "T" that one shouts with a raised arm.

Howard B 10:27 AM  

CENTER ICE CIRCLE is completely valid from a hockey point of view, yes. Not as much in the language outside of that, so tricky.
- Also thrown completely off by HIGH. Did not grasp the theme until after solve.
- Also had TADA before TAXI. (D'oh!)
- Also had QUAGMIRE for QUANDARY with QUA---R- in place. Confidently entered, and completely wrong. Love those :).
- Can never remember LUX. (DUX? DUZ?) Always trips me up.
Just a thorny one today, a lot of things not in the old ken (SAND RAKES. Huh.). Liked the bonus Qs and Xs strewn about.

chaos1 10:49 AM  

I'm with those who thought the puzzle was O.K. Granted it wasn't great, but I completed it with no help in under half an hour. That's pretty quick for me on a Thursday, so I am more disposed to overlook some of the clunky stuff.

Didn't really get the theme until the end, as I finished in the NW. 22A went in almost immediately, and I knew 47A was going to have something to do with CENTER ICE. Adding CIRCLE to the phrase didn't sound right to me either, but someone who plays the game says it's used all the time by players, so that's good enough for me.

I'll admit that being older helped in the NE, but complaining about Warner OLAND is weak. That name has been in dozens of puzzles. It's synonymous with Charlie Chan and I thought it was considered a gimme by hard core puzzlers? I can see where a natick at OLAND crossing ALULA might have been an issue for some.You have to know 50's Do-Wop, or guess at the L.

After I finished in the NW,I wasn't sure I had solved correctly. I guessed at the R for 5D, only because ENDOR was known from witches, but not Star Wars.

Finally figured out the theme. I saw the colleges, but couldn't figure out how they could be called Middle Schools? Then I realized they were between the first and last letters of the clue. O.K; they weren't centered! I guess that's a legitimate bitch, but as someone else pointed out, middle doesn't have to be dead center. If I stand between two people and the person on my left is four feet farther away than the person on my right, an I not still in the middle? Just Sayin !

O.K. I've run my mouth long enough!

JC66 10:54 AM  

@mitchs

Hand up for initial wentsouTH rebus. Much more in the language, IMO.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:57 AM  

Somewhat challenging for me, but finished with no write-overs, and I did get the theme, although I Never Heard of DRAKE.

Re: 49 D: . . . the island of Aeaea. I also never heard of Aeaea. Is there any other word in English that consists of five vowels, no consonants? Are there any longer such words? Please, help!

Two Ponies 11:05 AM  

Considering all of the sports stuff I'm surprised that I finished except for the L of Oland/Alula. The NW took the longest. I tried adopt for 1A and it almost worked. Didn't know Donnie from Adam and since we just had Endor yesterday I couldn't believe it showed up again today. I never saw the Jedi movie so it made that corner tough. Middle finally came to me so then the search for the theme was on but I have never heard of LeHigh.
All-in-all a disappointment.
Adoze?

PanamaRed 11:05 AM  

Had TADA first, then forgot to proofread, and finished with one letter wrong (TADI anyone?).

I still have a 45rpm record with Gene Vinvent's Be Bop A Lula, so that was easy.

Started with SEA BED before RAW BAR.

School names not being precisely in the middle is a nitpick, methinks.

Overall fun solving.

JayWalker 11:20 AM  

Very difficult, convoluted solve for me. Strongly disagree that this was a "Medium" puzzle. "Annoying" would be more to the point. Pointless difficulty at every turn. Too many 3-letter teeth-grinders. I finished it with one stupid error ("mist" for Whiff at 24D) so ended up with "tapet"????? Had no clue and didn't catch it. Finally - what kind of "fly" is a "sac???"

Mel Ott 11:21 AM  

YALE and Rice are not precisely in the middle, but they are more or less centered, so I don't mind them. LEHIGH and DRAKE are very much to one side or the other. If middle is part of your theme then please put the theme answers somewhere towards the middle. The issue is the quality of the construction, not the relative difficulty of the solving experience.

JayWalker 11:23 AM  

Oh yeah - and I forgot to mention: (and I'm giving away my age here) 37D - shout made with raised arm? My immediate response was: Heil!!! Ugh!!!!

Mel Ott 11:30 AM  

Re the use of proper names in puzzles. I was able to throw down most of today's proper names because a lot of them are sports oriented. I'm pretty good with sports names and historical names. I'm hopeless with names from show biz and popular culture and usually have to get them from the crosses, which is fine as long as the crosses are fair, and particularly when the names don't cross each other. Other solvers will do great with pop culture names and be out to lunch with sports names.

But if I had my druthers we would have a lot fewer proper names of any stripe. I prefer crossWORD puzzles to crossNAME puzzles.

Seth Brundle 11:31 AM  

@Jay Walker - Sacrifice fly.

Ulrich 11:35 AM  

@CoolPapaD: If I translate back from the German, Joseph was kept in a cistern by his brothers before they sold him, and Jokanaan was kept in one, too, before Salome had him briefly hoisted up and then let down again, where he was later decapitated. So, CISTERN always has a morbid connotation for me--didn't know these things were actually in my brain.

and @Miss Jugs: It's "Vox Regis, vox populi" for you!

Alice in SF 11:37 AM  

Oh, boo, to this puzzle. I agree with JayWalker that it was annoying, absolutely annoying. Didn't know 42D (couldn't figure out how to answer with the short of Miami Dolphins) which meant I had no clue to 40A , 40D and finally no to 43A.

No Right or Wrong 11:40 AM  

Everyone's opinion can be supported:

Definitions of middle on the Web:

-center: an area that is approximately central within some larger region; "it is in the center of town"; "they ran forward into the heart of the struggle"; "they were in the eye of the storm"

-in-between: being neither at the beginning nor at the end in a series; "adolescence is an awkward in-between age"; "in a mediate position"; "the middle point on a line"

-an intermediate part or section; "A whole is that which has beginning, middle, and end"- Aristotle

-center(a): equally distant from the extremes

P>G>

syndy 11:42 AM  

@jaywalker yeah i had mist at first too i'm thinking sac must stand for sacrafice aka a pop up FLY ball-maybe?

Meridith Wilson 11:53 AM  

[signs that] "Ya Got Trouble":

....Never mind pumpin' any water
'Til your parents are caught with the Cistern empty
On a Saturday night and that's trouble,
Oh, yes we got lots and lots a' trouble...

Musical theater haters need not respond.

The Music Man

des 11:59 AM  

I'm not sure what the problem with CISTERN is - it is a perfectly reasonable word, one that is used in both rural (yes, as in "Music Man") and urban areas (up on the roof).

Since I got MILE HIGH STADIUM right off the bat from the clue, the top half was easy. But I kept expecting the answer that was CENTER ICE CIRCLE to be a similarly specific locale, not a generic one. I do agree with Howard B. that it is a common term in hockey.

Vector Analysis 12:00 PM  

@ Meridith Wilson: Are you related to Meredith Willson, the guy who wrote The Music Man?

jmorgie 12:11 PM  

Once again we have ignorance masquarading as knowledge -- spreading disinformation across the web.

A Vector is *not* a heading. the whole point to a vector is that incorporates both magnitude and direction -- an airplane vector denotes both the speed [magnitude] and the heading [direction] of the flight.

As for Flying Tiger Airline -- when my brother flew for them back in the 1980s they hubbed out of Ontario and not LAX.

finally -- if you believe in omens -- the jibberish word i have to type in down below here is 'challsh' which in hebrew means weak which is what this puzzle was!

Jim 12:15 PM  

Rex:

It's better than that. Apu suggests he and Homer "watch the baseball match". Great scene. Great episode. I particularly enjoy contemplating Hank Azaria, an American, doing an impression of an Indian doing an impression of an American.

I must be getting more used to the prospect of ill-conceived phrases in the puzzle as I had 'cle' at the end and, once I realized 'faceoffcircle' wouldn't fit, that they'd crowbarred in something less than artful here. Once 'talc' fell into place, 'centericecircle' revealed itself.

Ugh.

As Apu might have said, "the baseball match ended when the baseman touched home plate pentagon".

Martinette 12:22 PM  

@jmorgie - Or, we have pedantry masquarading as explanation. Multiple dictionaries limit the definition you gave for vector, as having a magnitude and direction, specifically to mathematics, leaving direction only to such things as airlines. There are also biological definitinos, etc.

hazel 12:29 PM  

Dominica (pronounced DOM-i-Nee-ca) is a beautiful island with a boiling lake in its middle, and lots of waterfalls elsewhere. I've been there but had forgotten its capital, as its the worst part of the island (think cruise ship disgorgement/swarm of fire ants). I'm guessing many houses there have CISTERNS.

Thought the theme reveal was a bit of a ho-hummer, but liked much of the fill.

Like ADOZE - adding to my vocabulary.

InnerChild 12:43 PM  

The undying high school sophomore in me wanted the clue for 15A to apply to the answer for 32A.

leighroi 12:44 PM  

Rex doesn't know "The Basement Tapes." Sigh... I grow old, I grow old.....

Tinbeni 12:51 PM  

Really liked the YUKS IT UP and the LOL because today I finished PDQ.

Never heard of the Dutch painter Borch. Am I really suppose to know his middle name, TER? (all crosses).

The four Across themes were pretty straight forward. CENTER ICE CIRCLE a gimmie.

@Chaos1, I agree with your comments re: The SCHOOLs not being centered. They look to be in the MIDDLE (not on the ends) to me.

All-in-all a FUN Thursday solve.

retired_chemist 1:05 PM  

Just realized I have a square wrong: ENDON(R)/TEN(R). If TEN is a legit prefix in a Dutch surname I whine, "Natick!" From Google I think it is.

Mac?

Shamik 1:17 PM  

Medium-challenging, but correctly solved. Put me in the category that thought it would be kinds of schools, not names of schools and didn't get the theme 'til I red Rex's write-up.

Thank you to Seth Brundle for explaining the SAC fly. That, for starters, helped make this puzzle suc, "for short." [sic]

John V 1:20 PM  

Well, apart from having 32A as MUGS, all fell into place. Thought it a tad more difficult than a typical Thursday. Cannot abide in 58A ADOZE, though. Just bad fill/neologism, IMHO.

As to the theme, I got 22A right away and saw HIGH, so expected (say) grammar, college, etc; didn't see lehigh until @rex pointed it out.

Rube 1:29 PM  

I also have a few issues with this puzzle. Never heard of the DRAKE in Iowa and like @SethG feel it certainly is not in the same league as the other three universities. There is a Sir Francis DRAKE high school in Marin that is about as famous, at least around here.

Had the same Natick as @Jesse at the OLAND/ALULA crossing... guessed ObAND. Since we've had this guy a couple of times recently, will add him to my crosswordese list.

Had the same first thought as @Jaywalker re "heil". Too many WWII movies in my case.

In case you wanted to know. After the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906, the city fathers installed large underground CISTERNS at the intersections of many streets during the rebuilding of the city. The real problem after the earthquake was the fire that destroyed the city primarily because there was no water to combat the flames. These CISTERNS were supposed to address that problem.

Love the word ENDOR... Star Wars, biblical witch, witches of, and most of all, ENDORa of Bewitched.

hazel 1:42 PM  

@leighroi - i shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

Why do people keep talking about seeing OLAND all the time? He hasn't been in the puzzle for like 10 years.

Dictionary.com 2:01 PM  

@John V : ADOZE was a neologism ca. 1845 - 1850.

chaos1 2:10 PM  

@Anonymous said: Perhaps he hasn't been as prevalent in the NYT recently, but his still pops fairly frequently in many other daily or weekly newspaper puzzles. I will admit that he isn't clued as often as he used to be, so maybe newer puzzlers aren't familiar with him.

Doug 2:24 PM  

I thought this was a pretty hard puzzle, took me all day back and forth to finish. The theme was kind of so so, but I didn't care. Thanks for Eight Miles High -- a great Byrds/McGuinn tune.

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

Damn. 40A I had LAG(uardia) which give me same teal-wearing team (JAGs).

------> Joe in NYC

alan 3:04 PM  

Had mist for miss. Had yaksitup for yuksitup.Otherwise easy puzzle. Finished in under 15 minutes.

JenCT 4:00 PM  

DNF for me, too - stuck in the NW.

Never got the theme, even though I got the theme answers.

Had MOIRE instead of TOILE.

AWASH, ADOZE, ABUT in the same puzzle?

Meh.

tedequity 4:13 PM  

Like JayWalker and alan I had "mist" for 25D. How is whiff related to miss???

JenCT 4:20 PM  

@tedequity: When you swing and miss the ball completely, that's a "whiff."

Nhart1954 4:43 PM  

DNF for me in the north. Hand up for QUAGMIRE and looking for types of schools after getting MILE HIGH STADIUM.

Never got the theme until I came here and was still trying to figure what Drake, Lehigh, Rice, and Yale have in common...uh, all colleges, right?

I'm a newbie but ADOZE was awful even though I got it. I did like quandary and clue for PDQ

Meridith Wilson 5:01 PM  

@Vector Analysis,

No, no relation.

Also, we spell our names differently ;)

Mary 5:02 PM  

CISTERN was a gimme but probably because we lived in England. Our house in Surrey had a CISTERN in the attic as the source of water for the house, as did the whole neighborhood of houses built in the 1930's. Unfortunately, the water pressure for the shower was simply the force of gravity from the attic to the second floor (U.S.), first floor (England). It's a common situation there, and booster pumps are sold for that very purpose. Otherwise the water just trickles down. People must have taken more baths than showers the first half of the 20th century.

foodie 5:17 PM  

I've been missing Sanfranman. I'd love to see his analysis of the difficulty level on this one. My quick and dirty index said it was Easy-Medium, Rex rated it as Medium and my solving experience said it was rather challenging. If I read the numbers correctly, the majority of solvers found it on the easy side of medium.

I just could not get a toehold for a while, then I solved it in fits and starts. Figuring out the theme was no help at all, since the number of possible universities seems infinite, and as Rex pointed out there is no basis for selecting them-- a sports league or Ivy league, etc. And I agree that the "middle" is defined rather loosely...

PIX 5:27 PM  

I agree with Foodie...where is Sanfranman?...who said he could have the summer off??...i really miss his statistics.

Basement Tapes: Made by Dylan with the Band after his motorcycle accident, literally in the basement of a house in Woodstock NY. Either marks the end of Dylan's most brilliant folk/rock period or shows that he was such a genius that was able to transcend the folk/rock categories that everyone else was stuck in, thus beginning a several decade-long exploration of countless different styles which continues to this day. Take your pick. Either way, an important album.

mac 5:58 PM  

Usually I love Thursday puzzles.

sillygoose 6:03 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle and solved it in my normal time but could not figure out the theme for the life of me. I was misdirected by “high” but that was the least of it - I’ve never even heard of Drake.

My last letter into the puzzle was the J in JUGS/JAX, mostly because I am very sports impaired, and I gave serious consideration to other possibilities, like bUGS, as in a chorus of crickets? Or mUGS as in, what is the difference between playing a mug or a jug?


I’ve heard of Benny Binion, but William F. is a new one for me.

SethG 6:06 PM  

We don't have the full range of his percentiles, but we can get a good sense for where the numbers would stand anyway.

The current median solve for all solvers is 17:03, which compares to his most recently reported Thursday average of 19:10. This gives a ratio of .89, which is likely in the Easy-Medium range. (A .92 ratio put the July 1 puzzle in the 42% among Thursdays, barely Medium.)

The current median solve for the Top 100 solvers is 8:33, which, compared to his most recently reported Thursday average of 9:10, gives a ratio of .93. Again, probably in a similar range. (A .91 ratio put the July 1 puzzle in the 42% among Thursdays, barely Medium, though note that the median solve time for the Top 100 will surely fall a bit by the end of the day.)

foodie 7:28 PM  

@SethG, yeah, I go through something like what you did in his absence, although you did it more thoroughly.

My own Q&DI relies on the very early returns, and I'm trying to more rigorously compare my numbers to his, in order to validate it (I know, I need a life). But I guess we'll let him take a vacation. Wherever he is,I hope he's YUKingITUP...

Sfingi 9:46 PM  

Dreadful for me - Too, too many sports clues - at least 8.

A Googly bore. Googled 11 times.

@JenCT - thanx re: MISS= whiff.

@CoolPapa - cisterns can be just large tubs to collect rainwater. It's better than nothing, as per @Mary's description.
But, can you imagine trying to do this puzzle w/o sports vocabulary?

But, of course, I got TOILE - and have shown JPGs of it here before, so will spare you.

Also, never heard of Roseau, DOMINICA (sounds nice); how to spell French word for 5; Flying Tiger Line.

Couple of palindromes to calm me - Aeaea, Harrah.

Yes, vectors have 2 qualities, or they are carriers (biology). The idea of being not 1D.

des 9:55 PM  

For those of us to went to college in any part of Iowa, DRAKE is a well-known school, if for no other reason then it is in the "big city" of Des Moines. Some of us even knew it before then because of the Drake Relays, one of the nation's top track and field events. This year was the 100th anniversary of the Drake Relays.

eva 10:17 PM  

Somehow finished with no errors, but it was an awful slog. The theme was pretty straightforward but still took me forever to figure out. CENTER ICE CIRCLE convinced me that the theme was a pun on MIDDLE SCHOOL/MIDDLE'S COOL and would be phrases with cold things in the center. Clever, huh? Yeah. Too bad I already had STAY ALERT and SAND RAKES in place - I probably wasted five minutes trying to figure out how the heck they were "cold."

I'm surprised so many people had never heard of BE-BOP-A-LULA! Is it because I'm too old or too young?

Rube 11:40 PM  

@des, The Drake relays, of course! (Head slap & pound head on table.)

andrea yuksitup michaels 11:42 PM  

@joeinnyc
I too had LAG at first, but La Guardia is actually LGA! Probably some namer didn't want them to be relentlessly teased about LAG time.
(Speaking of LAG time, I wound up in Atlanta yesterday for an extra FIVE hours thanks to Delta :( got home at 5 am!)

I loved that there was that cluster of three Xs, two words ending in Q and another thrown in (QUANDARY is a fabulous word!) and that J and YUKSITUP...
where the F- was the F???

Don't think it has to be exactly centered to make it work...the schools were super arbitrary, but it was a very cool idea overall.

(Insert my usual complaint of the uber-Sportsness of Peter C's puzzles: ATEAMS, DONNIE, ALONZO, HOYAS, MILEHIGHSTADIUM, CENTERICECIRCLE, JAX, SAC, etc..
thing is, for MISS Peter/Will didn't have to make it the baseball-y "Whiff" on top of it all...)
I mean it IS summer, and it's very "take me out to the ball game", but I'd prefer SOME of the ball game be taken out (of my puzzle)!

That said, I think he makes awesomely constructed puzzles, and that center Scrabbly-ness takes away most of my annoyance about names like DONNIE and ALONZO.
(Again, other non-sports ways to clue DONNIE, no? Or is Osmond with a Y?)

ALULA is super fun. And there is a puzzle waiting to happen with AEAEA and EIEIO...others?

@Rube
I feel better now that I know there are CISTERNs lurking about my city...loved learning that!

Hmmm, my captcha is dullesse... a five hour plane delay in DC?

aeaea carla michaels 11:54 PM  

@Sfingi
if you are still up and reading this, I posted something to your comments about peewee reese yeaterday.

william e emba 2:25 PM  

The Latin genitive of Aeaea is Aeaeae, prounounced aye-aye-aye.

Yes, VECTOR is used as a synonym for heading. I am a mathematician, and I have absolutely no qualms that this is done so.

I am astonished that anyone found the cross O-AND and A-ULA a Natick. I had no idea what the actor's name was, but how else are you going to complete Be-Bop-?????. The B-B alliterates, so it must be matched with L-L. Or so I guessed (P-P alliteration sounded highly defective.) And what do you know, Be-Bop-A-Lula is famous. Not that I ever heard of it before.

a-pat 2:37 PM  

You make up a completely arbitrary explanation for why your guess might be right, and you're "astonished" that everyone else couldn't come up with the same "logic"?

Astonishing.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

C'mon Rex you never heard of the Flying Tigers....the American fly- boys who tried to save Burma from the Japanese? It's a fantastic story.
Not just the pre-Pearl Harbor heroism that took place but how they later parlayed the whole thing into a hugely succesful air freight operation.

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

58 Across is driving me crazy. How is "aired" related to "napping"? This was the only answer I could not get.

perry3israel 1:59 PM  

I don't think Ter is the "middle" name; it's part of the last name (like "de" in de Broglie or "van" in Van Gogh).

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

That's one of the most bizarre quibbles I've seen for how Rex can not know something.

That's not 58A.

Anonymous 5:02 PM  

Arrgh!! You're right. I'd inked over the numbers and didn't count across. (And a "6" looks like an "8" at That Time of The Morning.
Thanks. This was eating me up.

Anonymous 6:52 PM  

@Anon 12:54

The answer to 58A is ADOZE.

Anonymous 12:00 AM  

I think this is the single worst NYT crossword I've yet seen. Irritating from start to finish.

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