Coleridge's sacred river / TUE 9-28-10 / Foil-making giant / Fabric dealers to Brits / Bushel of Boscs / Homer Simpson's Indian friend

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Constructor: Michael Torch

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Puns on PARA- words — Four different "Pair" homophones lead off four different punny phrases ...


Word of the Day: NO PAR (41A: Like some stock) —

adj.
Being without face value; having no par value: a no-par stock certificate.
• • •

This didn't work for me. It's like a bright idea that should've gone nowhere but was forced into becoming the basis for an entire puzzle. PÈRE AMOURS (29D: French father's affairs?) and PARE A PHRASE (58A: Edit?) don't take their original phrases into different semantic universes the way PEAR AMOUNT (11D: A bushel of Boscs?) and PAIR A GRAPHS do (20A: Two charts?). But the biggest problem by far is PAIR A GRAPHS. PAIRA? PAIR-A? PAIR A'? Has anyone anywhere ever written "Pair of" in that manner. LOTTA = "lot of," sure. But PAIRA? PAIR O', maybe. Maybe. None of the other theme answers involve *imaginary spelling*. Total fail. Some ideas, however cute at first blush, need to be put aside until they're fully ripe. Or else thrown away.

Then there's the rest of the fill, which is dull at best (ORE x/w ORAN (28D: Algerian port), ADIA (60D: 1998 Sarah McLachlan song) x/w ADDA, etc. etc.), with the exception of a few of those longer answers — "HOP ON POP" (27A: Dr. Seuss title), WINGSPAN (5D: Bird spec), RIP APART (42D: Shred) and HIT HARD (25A: Severely affected) are all just fine to quite good.

Bullets:
  • 19A: What to "Come see the softer side of," in a slogan (SEARS) — is that slogan still active? It's Very familiar to me, but I don't remember hearing it for years and years.
  • 53A: Danced at Rio's Carnival, maybe (SAMBAED) — the more I look at this word, the uglier it gets. Sitting underneath the awful ARRS. isn't helping it any (49A: Some airport data: Abbr.)
  • 56A: Homer Simpson's Indian friend (APU) — "Friend" is accurate enough, though his main role is snack food provider.


  • 3D: Coffee shop convenience for a laptop (WIFI) — It's a "convenience" for the laptop *user*...
  • 45D: Fabric dealers, to Brits (DRAPERS) — My favorite Draper is Don.


  • 47D: Coleridge's sacred river (ALPH) — I always want this to have an "X" in it, probably because of "Xanadu" in the opening line of "Kubla Khan." ALPH is in the third line of the poem:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea. (1-5)
  • 54D: Foil-making giant (ALCOA) — Foil-in-five=>it's this 60%-vowel answer.
  • 63D: Prominent features of a "Cats" poster (EYES) — Possibly the most go-out-of-your-way-to-be-off-putting clue for EYES ever. Not sure I've ever seen a show clued via its poster (?). Here's a "Cats" poster where the only "prominent" thing is ridiculousness.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

81 comments:

CFXK 7:48 AM  

A quibble: the phrase "across the pond" (52 down) refers specifically to the "special relationship" between the UK and the US. Using it as a literal reference to the body of water between North America and Europe stretches and distorts its meaning, I think.

Evgeny 7:54 AM  

was hoping that there is some explanation for PAIRAGRAPHS that i didn't get. if not - how can this pass the editing?

joho 8:02 AM  

Everything @Rex said is right on.

If SATIN had been clued as a fabric there's a mini theme with WOOL and DRAPERS.

Thank you for the Don Draper SNL clip!

r.alphbunker 8:16 AM  

I think most mathematicians would say two graphs. It sounds more precise. And they do like numbers :-)

dk 8:25 AM  

First I thought the constructor was using Rex's pulp fiction PI name.

Then I thought, this is easy for a Tuesday.

How about heavenly place: Pair-a-dice.

** (2 Stars) Inclusion of the BIPED fill was very fine.

mmorgan 8:28 AM  

Well... I really enjoyed and appreciated this one. The four different "PAIR" homonyms, all normally pronounced like PAR in PARENT, with the NO PAR right in the middle -- very clever. All four theme answers were fun to say as they were revealed. Zipped through most of it, but was stuck awhile on HOPONPOP (didn't know it), ARRS (had trusty old ETAS), CARB (had CORE), and CORER (had MOUSE - duh).

Maybe Rex needed another Manhattan?

KooKooKaChoo 8:33 AM  

Also thought easy for Tuesday, but I loved it. I laughed at "pare a phrase." Guess I'm easy to please, since I like Cats. (The costumes! The make-up! T.S. Eliot! The exclamation points!)

Had "ariv" for "arrs" for the longest time and couldn't for the life of me figure out why the Brits call their fabric dealers "diapers." (Or...what a "vea" was...)

David L 8:46 AM  

The theme confused me as I was solving, and continued to confuse me after I was done. Glad to see RP had the same reaction.

@CFXK: I've never thought of 'across the pond' as being specifically a US-UK thing -- just an antiquated cliche that I hope I never use. I have US/UK citizenship, so my word on this is final.

Aunt Hattie 8:58 AM  

Rex, lighten up! This was really clever and amusing--pareaphrase, indeed. I think doing the puzzle is for fun (and brain practice for us elders, so they say, so I don't dig too deeply.

nanpilla 8:58 AM  

My first thought as I was doing the puzzle was " I hope Rex puts in a Don Draper clip". John Hamm was also very good in The Town.

Wasn't as bothered by this one as Rex, probably because I'm no expert, so I'm easier to please. Did seem easier than yesterday's.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

After going to see Da Bears beat the Pack Monday night, came home and did the Tuesday puzzle with a Manhattan on the rocks sans vermouth. The teams played in their retro tone 1940uniforms. Da Bears scored a pair of touchdowns, a pair of PATs and a pair of field goals to win 20-17....

SethG 8:59 AM  

My first two answers were SILK and EBON. SAMBAED bothered me even more than PAIR A did.

If you wanna count NO PAR as part of the theme, it's not accurate.

HOP ON POP always reminds me of a chain email I got once.

Jim 9:01 AM  

Hmmph. I actually &iked this puzzle...a lot. Didn't comment yesterday due to the anniversary-themed quality to all the (largely banal) comments. But today really POPped for me. Nice ___-clues and synonym-orific stuff, up top especially, to get started. Then came the theme answers.

OK. Technically, PAIRA- is incorrect. But did this throw anybody or stick in many craws at the time? Doubtful. Further, the rest of the answers are quite cleverly clued and conceived. C'mon! PEARAMOUNT? That's funny!!

Hesitated for a second on SAMBAED. Looks weird. Really? -ed? Well, I suppose the alternative would read SAM-BAD, evoking the late, great Phil Hartman.

And DOSED? Now that answer should be sold with a crowbar. "Doctor, Mr Flanagan's impetigo hasn't cleared up yet". "Really, I dosed him some Ketoconazole last week."

ArtLvr 9:06 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Likes to look things up 9:06 AM  

Prepositional phrase across the pond

1.(idiomatic) From one side of the Atlantic Ocean to the other.
We flew across the pond.

Usage notes: The phrase usually implies the North Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe, and is most often used to describe travel between the United Kingdom and the United States or Canada.[wiki]

2. TransAtlantic; referring to a country on the opposite side of the Atlantic from the country where this is said. E.G. in America, saying "across the pond" would usually refer to England, and vice versa. However, it could also refer to Africa or continental Europe.[Urban Dictionary]

P>G>

John V 9:11 AM  

Liked this one, found it a tad harder than usual Tuesday.

Always intrigued at how I can look at a clue, mis-read it, and take forever to get it right. Today, looked at 46A, which is clued as, "Retro photo tone" and my mind saw, "Retro PHONE tone". Took me a good 10 minutes to see what was actually written. Grrrr.

Rex Parker 9:12 AM  

Thanks for all the convincing defenses of PAIRA ... (tumbleweed) ... (wind whistling through trees) ... (cough) ...

Sadly, even NO PAR is a lie, as SethG points out.

ArtLvr 9:13 AM  

Yes, NO PAR wraps it all up as the theme revealer! We see it so often as negligible fill that the idea of four theme answers starting with what normally is spelled PAR but pronounced PARE was clever.

No, it did turn out to be hard to construct well in practice, especially the first one as everyone says, but I expect most of us got it anyway! PAR for a Tuesday?

I don't really want to "rip aPARt" a long shot...Nice try, Michael Torch...

∑;)

jesser 9:23 AM  

I didn't hate it, but I found it to be a bit of a stretch. And I was more put off by PEREAMOURS than PAIRAGRAPHS. No writeovers, so I rate it easy, but not much joy along the way.

Today will be a long day, so that will be all.

Missne! (If I do drag this Halloween, I'll make this my name.) -- jesser

Jim 9:25 AM  

What indication is there that NOPAR was intended as the theme revealer? It's not clued as such.

chefbea 9:30 AM  

Liked the puzzle and found it easy.

Several cooking terms = pare, corer, pear,recipe step. Getting to be apple pie season yummm.

Also the shout out to Rex at 64 across.

Glitch 9:32 AM  

@SethG

Just wonderin', are you saying NO-PAR is not part of the theme (I agree), or that it is not an accurate stock term (I disagree)?


What Does No-Par Value Stock Mean?

Stock that is issued without the specification of a par value indicated in the company's articles of incorporation or on the stock certificate itself.

Most shares issued today are classified as no-par or low-par value stock. No-par value stock prices are determined by what investors are willing to pay for them in the market.[investopedia.com]

.../Glitch

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

You got the wrong cats poster, Rex. Try this one. The one was a gimme.

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/3/3e/CatsMusicalLogo.jpg/600px-CatsMusicalLogo.jpg&imgrefurl=http://mists-of-autumn.blogspot.com/2008_09_01_archive.html&h=600&w=600&sz=18&tbnid=1bp_5mOs3XIVgM:&tbnh=135&tbnw=135&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dcats%2Bmusical%2Bposter&zoom=1&q=cats+musical+poster&hl=en&usg=__ycZUdLlmCTQAe9XEDNDAJDBxGSs=&sa=X&ei=We-hTNqAN4yisAOh562cAQ&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q9QEwAw

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

I always thought that NOPAR was one of the King brothers, along with NOSMO.

Van55 9:43 AM  

What I liked:

I'm always a sucker for puns, so I enjoyed the theme, despite the defective PAIRAGRAPHS (I'm going to allow some literary license to that). Loved PAREAPHRASE.

Liked WINGSPAN and DRAPERS

What I disliked:

APU/ALPH cross.
ARRS
ADDA
Cross referenced DUAL CARB
Random NNE geographical direction

Tobias Duncan 9:51 AM  

Pairadocs?

mitchs 10:01 AM  

I really liked this one from the start: ______ happens? Four letters? Hmm.

PAIRAGRAPHS didn't bother me at all, just took it for a punny homonym.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:03 AM  

As soon as I got to 20 A, PAIRAGRAPHS, I said to myself, "The first time I saw this joke, I laughed so hard I fell off my dinosaur."

Got better from there; the other three theme answers seemed original and more grammatically sound. All in all, OK for a Tuesday.

JaxInL.A. 10:06 AM  

Had to look up what I had wrong in the center of the west coast. Dual core vs. Dual carb. Could not figure out barb for cutting remark.

Made this otherwise easy puzzle a groaner. Or perhaps my brain is still fried from record 113 temps in L.A. yesterday. And it never did cool down last night like it usually does. Still hot this am at 6:30am. Ugh.

CaseAce 10:07 AM  

As of 9:05 A.M. Central Time, only 4 lousy comments over at WP...what, praytell me, is the freakin problem with them?

PuzzleNut 10:20 AM  

Didn't hesitate entering PAIRAGRAPHS, but definitely the weakest answer. Thought PAREAPRASE made up for any other weaknesses.

Two Ponies 10:20 AM  

Aw, what the hell. It's a Tuesday so Pair of Graphs gets a pass.
Like @ dk, I was expecting Pair-a-dice. Here in Vegas it is an over-used pun but I suppose the tourists like it.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

"NO PAR" as a theme clue?

Um, then what about PAReaphrase?

Three of the four themed answers add a letter to the "P-A-R" start of the actual word, creating the pun. But that trick doesn't even hold on "pereamour."

Jim 10:30 AM  

3rd at bat, so here we go:

SethG, I reread your comment and it makes NO SENSE!

If you're suggesting the constructor was saying there was no 'PAR' (spelling) in any theme answer, obviously, there is!! It's in the first damn one! What, is Mr Torch an idiot? He constructed a far better puzzle than I could ever hope to.

Or do you mean that no theme answers would be pronounced like 'par'. Well, why would they? Only one is spelled that way I could just as easily claim a NOWAY answer in the middle was a reveal. Why not? None of the answers is pronounced 'way', so my argument, while specious, is technically accurate.

I think Occam's razor applies here. You are making unnecessary assumptions, then using that conclusion of a flawed theme. If this is a habit of yours, it must be maddening to argue with you.

Mel Ott 10:37 AM  

Meh. I admit I'm prejudiced against puns.

However, I loved HOP ON POP. Loved to read Dr. Seuss to my sons in late 60's early 70s. This was a favorite. One day the boys decided to act it out. Great rollicking (there's a great word) fun. Wouldn't work now tho. They're each about 250 pounds.

OldCarFudd 10:49 AM  

I appreciate puns, groans and all, so I liked the puzzle.

Dual carb would have been better clued as "type of engine, once". Carburetors have been obsolete for 20 years or so. Computer-controlled fuel injection is the only way (currently) to combine smooth power with low emissions.

fikink 11:10 AM  

Like @Tobias, I was anticipating the two physicians.
Thanks for the SNL clip, Rex.

Rex Parker 11:15 AM  

@SethG wrote: "If you wanna count NO PAR as part of the theme, it's not accurate." — plain as day, and perfectly correct. We have to take "PAR" as a letter string (since there never was any "PAR" —pronounced golf-wise— in the pre-pun base phrases). And yet there are *multiple* "PAR" letter strings, both inside and outside the theme answers. Thus NO PAR fails.

If the editor doesn't trust the NO PAR theme connection enough to clue it as a theme answer, that should tell you something.

Notice how I was able to make an argument without hypothesizing about or impugning the character of someone who thinks differently. (It wasn't that hard)

rp

Masked and Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Sometimes you just gotta say "it's silly theme time", and groan with it . . . or not, in 44's case. Pair-a-whatever was OK by me, so my engine light stayed off and I finished the trip with feathers unruffled. But can see why the mighty Rexosaurus might find some cause to snarl (and snark).

Had some minor stalling around the HOPONPOP neighborhood, due to being clueless about most Dr. Seuss titles. Otherwise stayed on TuesPuz full throttle cruisin' speed. Puz coulda used a few more G's, tho.

Tinbeni 11:27 AM  

1D is CARP and I see a lot of that being done today.

For a Tuesday, I thought this was a FUN puzzle. More than OKAY.

@dk, it didn't have "Pair-a-dice" but I like the way you think. And it did have EDEN.

@chefbea, what about KNEAD?

Jim 11:33 AM  

rp:

Fair enough. Perhaps the problem here is there is some unstated 'rule' about themed puzzles of which I am not aware.

Must all theme puzzles have a reveal? If so, absolutely, my bad. However, if they don't, it seems the assumption that NOPAR is indeed that 'attempted' reveal seems no more than interesting speculation.

Alph the sacrilegious 11:35 AM  

Hm, I've seen "a" for "of" in colloquialisms like "bunch a cr*p", but "pair-a-graphs" does feel very strained. Didn't even think of 41A:NOPAR as a theme answer; not much of a loss, though...

Rex writes "[66A:]ADDA, etc. etc."; he meant "ADDA, yadda, yadda."

27A:HOPONPOP always reminds me of "Hop On Mom" (contained in a list of books Seuss never wrote, such as this one).

ℵ [a.k.a. NDE]

archaeoprof 11:44 AM  

The north started off well, with unusual answers like WOOL, INKY, BIPED, and WINGSPAN. But things kind of fizzled after that, didn't they.

Everybody seems to want to RIPAPART this puzzle today.

fikink 11:45 AM  

@masked, did you get into G's while I was gone? Thought you were a U man - or am I (gasp!) in error ;)

G's are cool.
Somebody around here is into K's - that you, Rex?

Masked and Anonymous 12:21 PM  

@fikink. . . Occurred to me just today that I needed some under-appreciated consonant to root for. So now am a GU-man. G is around 17th in NYTPuz usage. Yet G has same 2-point Scrabble score as D (10th in usage). So about as far into the Dangerfield scale as U (15th in usage).

Some might question my stats, since they are based only on the random samplin' of about 100 NYTPuzs. Hey. . . woulda ciphered-up all the puzs, but my significant other happened by and said, "What the $$$ you doin' -- git out there and mow the lawn!" That's howcome statisticians have to just rely on samplin'.

CaseAce 12:26 PM  

A nice Tuesday Puzzle, pair to say!

Dan 12:28 PM  

Some day, I want to see "Homer Simpson's Indian friend" or "Simpson's shopkeeper" or the like, and have the answer be NAHASAPEEMAPETILON...

K Kahn 12:38 PM  

ALPH was sacred me, not to that heathen Cooleridge. Get it right!

Van55 12:43 PM  

I have to agree with Jim. I never thought of NOPAR as a theme reveal or as a theme answer. Of couse it's in the dead center of the grid, so one would naturally consider the possiblity, but there's no logical connection (to me) between NOPAR and the theme answers. Trying to fathom one and then deeming it a failure is specious, I think.

Why should NOPAR be any more related to the theme than RIPAPART, which also has "PAR" embedded in it?

Tinbeni 12:52 PM  

Van55
RIPAPART ... IS the theme reveal.
The constructor Michael Torch knew he would be underfire here.

M&A
I like your idea of rooting for an "under-appreciated" consonant.
I think I'll root for "J" ... there's something about it.

Masked and Anonymous's last silver bullet 1:07 PM  

@Tinbeni. . . J's are cool. And they get pitifully little respect in the NYTPuz. Around 25th in usage frequency. {My entire Dangerfield scale below. Some positions were real horse races, tho.]

Hi-Yo, EASOTRINLDPMCHUBGYFWKVZXJQ, away . . .

asad 1:10 PM  

5-letter foil clue isn't necessarily ALCOA. Could also be ALCAN.

Clark 1:14 PM  

I liked it. If you don't like PAIRAGRAPHS, I bet you don't appreciate a good elephant joke either. And SAMBAED was my favorite. It looks so wrong; but how else are you going to write the past tense of samba? Everyone loves to samba!

Rex Parker 1:45 PM  

"Joke" works when spoken, Fails when written.

andrea parla michaels 1:55 PM  

@Clark
I'm with you! SAMBAED looked so wrong it made it right! May I have this dance?!
(Plus I had in the grid
- - - - A E D and thought "uh oh" before I even read the clue)

Can't believe there are 50+ comments by the time I'm just waking up...

I actually liked the theme a lot, and I liked RIPAPART, DEPLETED and SAMBAED in all its freakiness!

My guess is that NOPAR was not only not a theme revealer, it was just this coincidental mass of Ps
(Massapequa?) in the center:
POP, PIPED, SEPIA, RIPAPART

Now that G, U, K and J are spoken for, perhaps someone wants to grab the Ps!

(And I not only forgive ADDA, I think I'm going to steal it!)

tptsteve 2:12 PM  

Haven't posted in a while, but here's my 2 cents-- it was a nice way to pass some time on the train this morning. No more, no less.
Remember, it's only a crossword puzzle.

Are two MD's in a hallway a paradox?

John V 2:31 PM  

@tptsteve: Apparently

protege01 2:47 PM  

Actually liked this one better than yesterday. Even felt easier, too. Really like HOPONPOP although it took me forever to get.

I like the theme but PAIRAGRAPHS really is no good. Come up with something that is good English at least.

There's an airspace fix called ALCOA that flights going to/from Hawaii from the Bay area fly over so it was weird to see that in a puzzle.

Overall not bad.

CoffeeLvr 2:54 PM  

@Jim, Years ago I DOSED my young son when he was prescribed medication. After my (minor, thankfully) surgery last fall, he returned the favor and DOSED my narcotics. Took the bottle away and timed the dosages. He noticed how much the IV morphine agreed with me.

Nothing new to say about the puzzle.

sanfranman59 3:19 PM  

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

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

Mon 10:07, 8:55, 1.13, 87%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 5:24, 4:36, 1.17, 91%, Challenging

J 3:22 PM  

This puzzle was sludgy. Completable, yes, but like a car revving to get into second gear, but stuck in first.

It was like it was trying to para-lyze you.

Couple of fibs?
PAIRALIES

Jet City Gambler 3:59 PM  

I thought that this puzzle was kind of an homage to Alan Sherman's One Hippopotami from My Son the Nut. It was a little clunky, but I didn't hate it as much as Rex did.

"And when Ben Casey meets Kildare
They call it a paradox."

Van55 4:25 PM  

Someone at wordplay hypothosizes that NOPAR is, in fact, the theme reveal in that the letters "PAR" in each theme entry have been replaced by PERE, PEAR, PAIR and PARE, respectively. That's conceivable, I suppose. Kind of a stretch for me, though.

Glitch 5:01 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glitch 5:02 PM  

@Van55, You're too kind ;)

"Replacing" PAR with PARe?! Nah. Maybe if it were an add-o-letter puzzle.

.../Glitch

PS: @RP, I missed your WOTD when I made my earlier post.

.../g

Sfingi 5:46 PM  

Never heard of ADIA or HOPONPOP, though all came easily.

I like puns and expressions, but this time I agree with just about everything Rex said.

@Protege - what is an airspace fix?

Liked pairalies, pairadice and pairadocs additions from youse guys. Sometimes having fun with the puzzle is more fun than the puzzle.

As @Andrea pointed out - Awful lot of Ps. I circled 15, but no pattern - almost a long diagonal in the middle.

@Anon937 - your embed didn't work, but I looked it up. It's the one with just cat eyes on a black background, called the Cats Logo.

There's a website called Study across the Pond which offers courses in Britain. Another is Across the Pond Vacations, which are in Great Britain. The BBC refers to "across the pond" in relationship to various topics, especially Hugh Laurie.

Stan 6:28 PM  

After a while sitting on the fence, I am finding myself very much pro- this puzzle. As summed up in @Van55's revised comment, the theme (in which the "par" sound in paragraph) is replaced by the 'pear' sound (in 'pare a phrase') is perfectly logical. On the level of spelling, it's not (as Rex and @Glitch point out) but on the level of speech, it makes sense to me.

Also, for a pun enthusiast, the overall fun factor was high.

SethG 6:47 PM  

Wow.

Roe 8:39 PM  

I hate Wade.

Glitch 8:41 PM  

@Stan

Not wishing to open the usual "I pronounce it ..." thread, but pear, pair, and par-agraph start with the same "sound" around here --- PAR otoh, as in Jack Paar.

Thus doesn't work for me either way.

.../Glitch (3/3)

foodie 10:47 PM  

I'm starting to think that my accent is really more horrible than I had ever estimated. I say the A in PARAGRAPH closer to the A sound in Panel than in PAIR. I think it's because I learned English through French from an Irish Nun (!) I happened to be having dinner with an Irish friend tonight and asked him how he pronounces PARAGRAPH or PARAMOUNT, and he agreed with me. So, at least I wouldn't be weird in Ireland. All day long, I was wondering if anyone was going to suggest that these pronunciations were not so invariant?

Needless to say, most of these puns sounded wrong to me: ) So, you all can forget about this puzzle, but I will be forever self conscious about a whole class of words, from Parasites to Paraphernalia.

Stan 11:43 PM  

@foodie: There is just no 'correct' American pronunciation (especially when it comes to connective vowel sounds) so don't worry about it. As a New Englander, I apparently speak like your Irish nun -- differentiating between Mary, marry, and merry. Most of the U.S. doesn't. Still, we all understand each other. I actually don't even hear the difference when I'm travelling.

foodie 11:55 PM  

@Stan, thank you, both for the reassurance and for differentiating those Mary, Marry and Merry vowels! My husband can never hear the difference between the names of our co-worker Ginny and our daughter-in-law Jenny. To me it's really evident, at least the way I say them. Anyhow, today was very educational!

fikink 11:58 PM  

God bless you, @Stan.
This is all getting quite absurd.
@Foodie, see you on the other side of sanity - I will be wearing the bonnet...we will talk empathy.

sanfranman59 1:20 AM  

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 7:23, 6:58, 1.06, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 10:16, 8:55, 1.15, 87%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:59, 3:43, 1.07, 83%, Challenging
Tue 5:08, 4:36, 1.12, 85%, Challenging

efrex 3:42 PM  

mitchs said...
I really liked this one from the start: ______ happens? Four letters? Hmm.


Especially when you find the last two letters in the crossing clues first... I must've spend three minutes thinking "no way..."

Jet City Gambler: Thanks for invoking the immortal Alan Sherman: I was afraid that I was the only one thinking about it: "A paramecium/ is not a pair/ a parallelogram/ is just a crazy square!" Always brilliant.

I actually got SAMBAED and EYES right off the cuff; NOPAR, on the other hand, was a real pain in the you-know-what...

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

Reading the above comments in syndication land, I was struck by the fact that anyone would doubt that no par was the theme! Take paragraphs and lose the "par" and replace it with pair. Take paramount, lose the "par" and replace it with pear. Take paraphrase, lose the "par" and replace it with pare. Take paramours, lose the "par" and replace it with pere. The theme doesn't need to be spelled out to us. To me it's more fun to discover the theme and have that "aha" moment. I thought this puzzle was well done.

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

"Whilst the Caesarians sambaed,
The Maestros were subpoenaed".
- a neologistic pareaphrase of Coleridge's sacred doggerel

NotalwaysrightBill 3:43 PM  

Syndicated puzzler. Whole lotta shakin' goin' on. All this about the theme reveal: what with SAMBAED today (which works just fine) and yesterday's rhumba, I'm smellin' a little Latin rhythms thing happenin' this week, and if y'all come by I'll show ya it revealed, chachacha. Found PARA, PAIRA and PEARA all pretty homophonic, but the Frenchie PEREA--not so much with the little dh sound plus almost glottal stop at the end of the French pronunciation of pere. PAIRAGRAPH quibble seems to me to be really more about social register than anything else. After already noting "Lotta," why doesn't "Paira" stack up? It's only a matter of degree of irregularity, after all. Yes, the A stands in for the O of OF, but it's pronounced A, as in GET A PAIR. Preference for PAIRO betrays an insistence on a certain social register correctness, even in dialect contraction spelling, the literary trying to pull the oral into its world instead of reflecting real speech. There's a place for that, but it's a different, probably more professorial, social register. In a xword meant to be jusplainfun, leave 'er be.

Dirigonzo 3:48 PM  

I found this one to be fun - I knew I was going to love it as soon as PAIRAGRAPHS came into view very early-on. Easy puns = right in my wheelhouse.

On a related note, yesterday's (11/1) "Lola" comic strip had Cecil presenting Lola with a pear that he had been growing for quite a while because, "Two years ago at the senior pingpong tourney, I was whining about how I played. You told me to grow a pear." Hah!

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

I agree with efrex: " ____ happens" and I already had the "_ _I T." Time stopped for me until I got past the "they really wouldn't do that, would they?!"

NOPAR has been used in other crossword puzzles, so was familiar to me. But not much of a theme, I'd say.

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