Quadrennial soccer championship / MON 10-11-10 / Showy cock's object of affection / Dwellers on Mount Olympus / Storied isle near Java

Monday, October 11, 2010

Constructor: Robert Fisher

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Tableware — theme answers end with PLATE, SAUCER, CUP, and BOWL, respectively


Word of the Day: Aria da CAPO (13A: Area da ___) —

The da capo aria was a musical form prevalent in the Baroque era. It was sung by a soloist with the accompaniment of instruments, often a small orchestra. The da capo aria was common in the musical genres of opera and oratorio. // A da capo aria is in ternary form, meaning it is in three sections. The first section is a complete musical entity, ending in the tonic key, and could in principle be sung alone. The second section contrasts with the first in its musical texture, mood, and sometimes also tempo. The third section was usually not written out by the composer, who rather simply specified the direction "da capo" (Italian for "from the head") - meaning from the beginning, which meant that the first section should be repeated in full. (wikipedia)

• • •

Pretty simple theme, but the theme answers are decent, the NW/SE corners are interest, the long Downs are pretty lively, and the fill is generally solid. Thumbs up. It felt like I got hung up more than usual on a Monday, but my 2:50 time is pretty normal for Monday, I think. Maybe even a tad fast. Stumbled right out of the box by not understanding 1A: Close with a bang (SLAM). I was taking the "with a bang" part metaphorically, and couldn't come up with a good answer in four letters. Had to work Downs before answer became clear. Also, the FIFA part of FIFAWORLDCUP did not come easily. Had WORLDCUP but just blanked on what first four letters could be. I'm likely not the only one that happened to, as most Americans are probably familiar with the WORLDCUP, but not sooo much with the sponsoring organization. No big deal. Lastly, I just flubbed the SW corner a bit for reasons I don't quite get. Couldn't get my regulatory orgs. straight to answer 59D: Prescription safety org. (FDA), and couldn't be bothered to focus on 63A: "I bet you won't go bungee jumping," e.g. long enough to figure out what the hell that sentence was getting at. I figured there must be a joke or pun involved. But no—it's just what it looks like: a DARE.


Theme answers:
  • 19A: Shifting piece of the earth's crust (TECTONIC PLATE)
  • 33A: Extraterrestrial's transportation (FLYING SAUCER)
  • 40A: Quadrennial soccer championship (FIFA WORLD CUP)
  • 55A: Los Angeles Philharmonic summer venue (HOLLYWOOD BOWL)
I really don't have much else to say. I don't know why the clue at 34D: Dwellers on Mount Olympus (GODS) isn't phrased [Mount Olympus dwellers]. Concision! Also, 53A: Showy cock's object of affection (PEAHEN) keeps making me laugh every time I look at it. I am currently trying to get #favrescock to become a Trending Topic on Twitter, to little avail. If you don't know why, go here, but do NOT watch the video if you don't want to see, well, #favrescock (too be fair, I should say #allegedlyfavrescock)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS AcrossLite users will likely rejoice today at the introduction of the Unlocked Puzzle! Yes, you can find out instantly if you got the answers right from now on! If you finish correctly: Mr. Happy Pencil pops up (!). If you can't finish, just click "Reveal All" or whatever the menu selection is and Bob's Your Uncle, there's your completed grid. If this means that you'll no longer be coming here to get your answers any more ... you will be missed. [Cue "Taps"]



[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

73 comments:

Brian 12:32 AM  

I would have refrained from this comment/question but since you have become so snide I'm not. Do any of you out there feel like the RP blog somehow diminishes one's experience of the NYT puzzle? You used to be able to know with satisfaction that you have solved it without looking at the back of the book, or you have resorted to the odd goog. And he always finds it easier than you thought But knowing that RP is out there before you pick up your paper in the driveway, is a downer. Why do you think RP strives to do it before anyone else? And why even bother getting the wicked pleasure of googling? - just go to RP and really cheat.
Come and get me RP groupies.

Anonymous 12:49 AM  

Frankly, Rex, I'm too drunk to give a damn. I like your blog, with or without Mr. Pencil. This one was easy, not e-m and if you think I come here for the answers, that is very sad. Have another Manhattan....

PurpleGuy 12:56 AM  

Children, settle down, or I'll take away your crayons.

@Brian, we come here mainly for the joy of chatting with each other, and finding out if we made the same mistakes. It's the camaraderie that brings me back.
If you're gonna prowl these parts with your snide comments and mean spirit, we'll run you out of town!!

Enjoyed this puzzle. Still have no idea what FIFA stands for. The A was the last letter to be entered.

Thanks for a good start to the week.
Good writeup, Rex. Thanks for your input each day.


Happy Monday, all.

Shanti -
Bob/PurpleGuy

fikink 1:01 AM  

Perhaps your most idiosyncratic review yet, Rex - from Slam Bradley to Somalia to Brett's cock. Makes for a wicked re-entry into the work-a-day world. Thanks, Doobie!

Anonymous 1:20 AM  

I like it. Mad Men is fighting for its existence the same time Rex is fighting for his. Rex, have another Lucky....

chefwen 2:02 AM  

I'll ignore Brian's comments, because I can. We all come here for exactly what PurpleGuy stated, the camaraderie.

Found the puzzle also easy to medium, there were a few words that are not normally found on a Monday. Thought the theme was rather clever too.

My Godson has the best t-shirt.
Green Bay Packer colors with Brett Favre's picture on it, underneath - We'll never forget you BRENT.
Priceless.

Steve J 2:07 AM  

@Brian: No, I don't feel that in the least. It's enhanced it, as I've learned a ton from both Rex and the posters here.

@PurpleGuy: FIFA = Fédération Internationale de Football Association or International Federation of Association Football, "Association Football" being the original name of the game to distinguish it from other football codes (e.g. rugby, Australian rules, American, Gaelic, etc.). Also, I'd say that even tongue-in-cheek, it probably isn't terribly productive to say people who don't like the way things are here will be run out of town.

Anyway, regarding the puzzle itself:

Quick, easy, typical Monday. The best parts were in the downs: CHOKER, ANJELICA, the entire NW. Agreed that the fill was pretty good, without any bad crosswordese to speak of (some common stuff, though, but it's Monday). Did find some of the cluing awkward: the aforementioned Olympus clue, as well 8D. I'm pretty sure pride is not an emotion stags, or any animal, exhibits; even if they did, I'd guess they're viewed as quite utilitarian. It'd be like taking pride in one's elbow.

I'd say it's a mark of a solid Monday if the only nits left to pick are over slightly odd clues. Nicely done.

andelica carla michaels 2:54 AM  

is it bad to say I don't even understand what the first commenter is commenting about? Doesn't everyone come to read an amusing column, add their own take, compare mistakes, commiserate on bad corners and make up a new middle name daily?

WEAL is interesting for a Monday...
In general things were smooth but required actual thinking. That was nice!

I realize I left the g in ANgELICA and forgot to check the cross, thank GOD this isn't a contest! ;)

r.alphbunker 3:03 AM  

Mr Happy Pencil isn't enough. I also need its evil twin Mr Grumpy Pencil. Thats why I come here. :-) If I feel that a write up is unduly harsh, it makes me think about why I liked the puzzle. It brings things into focus. I also enjoy reading the comments of other readers.

BTW I recently gave students in a computer security class an across lite puzzle that was locked and asked them to unlock it. It was easy to do. There is software available that can try all 10,000 possibilities in a matter of seconds.

Anonymous 3:31 AM  

Question: now that we have Mr. Happy Pencil, how will they check the grid for rebuses? Will we know it's a rebus when there is no "reveal all" button? Or is there some rebus feature that I am unaware of?

chefwen 4:15 AM  

@andelica carla - I did the same thing with angelica until I figured out the agar was not something left slightly open but a thickening agent.

Falconer 4:37 AM  

I thought the purists would complain that that all of the theme entries are metaphorical except for FIFA World Cup, which really is a cup.

Peacocks and peaheans are bizarre birds, they really are. And the national bird of India! What's weird about them is that they nest on the ground but roost in trees. Unlike most birds they eat almost anything, including any part of a plant, as well as insects, newts and frogs. ... There are feral populations of peacocks in the oddest places too, including the mountains of central Nevada, the Coconut Grove section of Florida and parts of Hawaii. Not to mention, of course, the Punjab and all over India.

ArtLvr 7:19 AM  

@ Steve J, many thanks for expanding on the FIFA.
@ Falconer, ditto re peacocks' odd characteristics!

I felt the puzzle was very well done -- and the new reveal of successful completion is a welcome bonus. I liked the inclusion of a few rarer words like WEAL (polity!), SUMP and INHERE in spots where their crossings would be of help, and hometown CHI (which I never use).

My only misstep was guessing ANJELInA, until the FLYING SAUCER corrected that spelling error... Thx to Robert Fisher for a smooth and colorful Monday!

∑;)

ArtLvr 7:28 AM  

p.s. the auuthor might have linked CAPO and Scarface CAPONE with CHI, but I'm glad he didn't though Aria da CAPO was hardly a Monday phrase!

∑;(

joho 7:49 AM  

@andelica carla & @ArtLvr ... written in my margin are the words: WEAL, INHERE and SUMP. I, too, thought these were unMondayish but not unnessarily unwelcome. Well, maybe SUMP is.

FIFA was totally new to me but easy to get.

My only writeover was WagS before WITS.

I think ATE is part of the theme, isn't it?

A. All of the above 8:08 AM  

Hey, Brian, I hear ya, man. It's like when I go to that site, ESPN, and it's a bunch of sports stuff! Pisses me off! Don't they know I hate sports?

KooKooKaChoo 8:20 AM  

Wow. I'm awake now. First the nasty comments, then that nasty video. Who knew the NYT crowd could be so raunchy? Showy cocks, indeed!

FIFA was my gimme. I thought the puzzle was super-easy, interesting, and fun. But still, I come here for what I miss on my own. Didn't even see "weal." Love the aria da capo explanation.

Ready to start my day (as soon as I wash my eyes out w/ acid).

dk 8:22 AM  

Todays puzzle and post are very very naughty. All this talk of happy pencils, showy and Farve c*#Ks. I only wish our lead post was from Johnny Wadd instead of some guy known only as shorty.

My inner 12 year old skipped the innuendo and began chucking over FLYINGSAUCER as it reminded me of the church of the flying spaghetti monster.

Fun fact: Yesterday's date 10/10/10 when converted to a decimal is 42 which is the meaning of life according to the Rat's computer in The Hitchhikers Guide.

I am sad that you can check your answers. Google's ad revenue will suffer as well. No offense Mr. Happy Pencil.

*** (3 Stars): Fast Monday with great fill

Returning to the gym today after a hiatus of many (25) years. I have been convinced to box in a league consisting of older gentlemen. I expect I will die of a heart attack from the workout or be beaten senseless by a 17 year old sparing partner. I do think 60 is the new mid life as I anticipate this decision will prompt a crisis.

mmorgan 8:26 AM  

Ah, how nice to have a non-polysemic puzzle after yesterday! Quick and pleasant, though (given the hour I finished it last night), I completely missed the Tableware theme.

Ditto to ACM about why to come here -- but it's always so much more fun when you've already had a visit from Mr. Happy Pencil!

@Steve J, thanks for clearing up FIFA. I'm not a sports fan, but I always thought it stood for the Federación Internacional de Futbol Asociación.

foodie 8:27 AM  

@Brian, I appreciate that you did not hide behind an anonymous label. I think it is true that with blogs about the puzzle (Rex's is not the only one) it's a lot easier to cheat. So, I subscribe to the notion of layers of cheating-- with looking up the solved puzzle being the cheatiest of them all. And I try to control myself--it builds character : )

But the other issue you raise is that you feel your achievement is diminished because of Rex's stellar performance. I think the secret there is to suspend competitiveness and be impressed. I work in a very competitive field, so in all other facets of life I try to squash any spirit of competitiveness and simply do things for myself while admiring the accomplishments that are way beyond me. So, I put Rex and Orange and other brilliant solvers in a category with other great talents- in math, dance, cooking, thinking in 3D, you name it. Stuff I'd love to be able to do, and either can do a little bit or not at all.

And then there is what everyone else said- the very lively, from the gut, daily write up by Rex, the camaraderie, the information everyone shares, and the different kinds of people one "meets". All terrific.

hazel 8:47 AM  

this puzzle was hard to do last night, in the aftermath of the bonecrushing defeat of the Braves almost singlehandedly by a guy who made 3 errors. 6 letter word for inept = CONRAD. I'm about ready to give him some HGH myself. KIDDING!! not trying to open that can of worms!! Sorry, @rexblog - i needed to VENT.

Anyway, I found the puzzle to be pretty quintessentially Monday- not particularly wowed by the theme, but it was not an autopilot-solve so thumbs up from me. PLATE TECTONICS is much more common usage than TECTONICPLATE. The plates are usually just referred to as plates, in my experience.

P.S. Have added Bob's Your Uncle to my vocab. Replacing QED.

mac 8:52 AM  

Great Monday puzzle, with a lot of, to my mind, wonderful words. Bemoan, lament, inhere, morph....

I too had Angelica with a g, and laughed at the showy cock/pea hen. Stayed at a small hotel in Wales once and suffered the incredible noise of the peacocks.

Only negative: oohs. Too bad.

@Foodie: thank you. If I knew how, I would now insert your last paragraph.

Jim 9:39 AM  

I go into Mondays wondering what could possibly merit 80 or so comments, but there always seems to be a strain that Rex starts, so as a provocateur, my kudos.

Don't get the implication of AcrossLite, since I solve on paper. And, to me, cheating has always been possible, in decreasing order of difficulty: waiting for the next day's paper, the dictionary, Google, sites like Rex's, and I guess now, the new 'Reveal' option for computer solvers. It reminds me of Chris Rock's routine on men cheating on their wives. To me, quite a linear thinker, cheating is cheating and it's not all that tempting to do so. After all, why do we do puzzles?

On to the puzzle: still baffled at 1A and 22A. Anyone up for explaining? Stymied for a couple minutes, as I thought of Geronimo as some Italian guy I didn't know,and Cochise his partner (though Cochise summons an hirsute, oily 70s half-a-wiseguy with a bad moustache). Then I was like, 'Oh right, the INDIAN Geronimo!'. Aaanyway.

Loved PERT. Seems very British to me, at least in this context. Favorite tool to describe desirable breasts in 'Coupling', episode-for-episode probably the most brilliant, funny TV shows in my catalogue.

Cheers!

Jim 9:46 AM  

At least the first three seasons, that is

John V 9:48 AM  

Drop dead easy for me. Add me to the list of not knowing FIFA, but the crosses made it simple.

PIX 9:54 AM  

@Brian...are they forcing you to read Rex's blog against your will???...I sort of assumed that we were all here on a voluntary basis and those that did not enjoy it could simply stay away.

Fine, easy Monday puzzle.

mac 9:58 AM  

Fifa is correct, of course, but in soccer-loving nations it is called THE World Cup.

mac 10:01 AM  

P.S. The world cup trophy is not a cup....

Lookup Guy 10:05 AM  

@Jim

1A: SLAM the door with a bang.

22A: Definitions of inhere on the Web:

•be inherent in something
wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

•To be inherent; to be an essential or intrinsic part of; to be fixed or permanently incorporated with something; to cleave (to); to belong, as attributes or qualities
en.wiktionary.org/wiki/inhere

•Inherence refers to Empedocles' idea that the qualities of matter come from the relative proportions of each of the four elements entering into a thing. The idea was further developed by Plato and Aristotle.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inhere

Jim 10:26 AM  

LookupGuy:

Thanks a lot. Don't now recall what I was actually thinking of, but it wasn't the intended meaning. Now, seems obvious though, on a Monday, wouldve expected ', as a door' for the more obtuse among us.

INHERE is brand new to me. Makes intuitive sense and I like it. May try to use it in future.

balto 10:28 AM  

This will probably sound like crossword blasphemy -- or is it apostasy? -- but I'm not a xword junkie, and I do use Rex's answers to help me finish the puzzle.

I only have a certain amount of time to do crosswords, and I'm pretty bad at them. My best time on a Monday is around 5 minutes, usually it's 7-8 -- on Mondays and Tuesdays I do it entirely myself (no cheating off Rex and no googling) 99% of the time. As the week goes on and the puzzles get harder, I google more, and if that doesn't work, I use Rex's answers to seed the puzzle for me.

I haven't been doing xwords that long -- I used to zone out on the basic Windows games like Spider Solitaire during breaks, but got sick of the feeling that it was giving me nothing.

So, thanks Rex, for helping out a newbie. Honestly, even with the help it still takes me over an hour to do the Sunday. And it's not like knowing Rex's answers are out there "makes" me cheat -- I only reach for it when I'm going over the time I've allotted. And I probably wouldn't do the NYT puzzle every day if Rex wasn't there helping me out.

I could care less if anyone thinks that it's wrong in some way -- for me it's learning and entertainment, not competition or some aspiration to greatness. If you're a purist, that's your issue, not mine.

Van55 10:28 AM  

Easy, easy, easy for me. No crap. Great puzzle.

reniekk 10:36 AM  

WTF?? Whatever happened to our peaceful harmonious forum? @Brian..go home, take a time out...heck, just boycott! But don't slam the door on your way out. @chefwen..tee hee 'Brent' @dk..good luck at the gym. @joho..ditto. @foodie..ditto ditto. @anon4dought...whazzup wichoo? Rex is the Makoto Nagano of crossword Ninja Warriors! And there are many more (this description does NOT apply to rp) sanctmonious, smug speed solvers out there...try An Englishman etc.etc. To the puzzle..copier broken for the moment, so Brit husband had the pleasure of solving solo today..he' new @ this, and solved in 15 min., well pleased with himself. And that is the point..it is supposed to be fun and amusing and somewhat edifying, especially if you're not acculturated (word?). So, as has been said you're harshing my whatever with all your carping. Nuff said

Two Ponies 10:43 AM  

Nice above-average Monday.
Hey, the table's set, let's eat!
Nice non-Monday words in weal and inhere. Funny to me because we are much more accustomed to saying/hearing wealth and inherent.
@ dk, I have a FSM sticker on my car of a T-Rex eating a jesus fish.
Did not know capo by the clue.
For some reason I liked the clue/answer for rafted.
I don't know what Brian is ranting about and don't care.
I was away from the 'puter Sat. but was surprised that no one objected to three of the 15's used "one's" in them.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:47 AM  

Not the first (or 2nd, or 3rd) to note this particular slip, but my one Oops! was ANGELICA before ANJELICA.

Tinbeni 10:48 AM  

Rex, Thank you for another amusing write-up.
We may, at times, disagree about the puzzle or a clue but inevitably you do make me laugh.

WOD - CAPO, another opera learning experience I'll probably forget by noon.

@Hazel, Good luck with tonights game.
MOI? I'm in the land of the crazies.
Bucs match last years win total. Rays fans chomping at-the-bit to play my "Evil Empire."

@PurpleGuy, You, 102yo Mom, and everyone (but @Brian) get my toast tonight at sunset.

PanamaRed 10:50 AM  

Happy pencil or no - I'll keep coming here - I like the blog, and all of the comments.

Echo other comments regarding Brian - if he doesn't like it, why is he here?

Captcha: rethin - another diet?

Steve J 11:15 AM  

@Falconer: FIFAWORLDCUP is still metaphorical, since the trophy is not a cup.

The only quibble - and it's minor, since the puzzle did use the full name - I had with FIFAWORLDCUP is, like mac said, nobody other than Fifa itself and the TV networks broadcasting it refers to it as the Fifa World Cup. It's just the World Cup amongst most fans.

archaeoprof 11:30 AM  

Merle Haggard! OKIE from Muskogee! Country music!

It's going to be a good day.

fikink 11:32 AM  

@dk, Indeed, 60 is the new 40, but, Darling, do wear a helmet. Such precaution is necessary, just like my steel-toed boots when I'm at the forge. Anyone want to buy a fireplace poker?

@foodie, aren't layers of cheating like being a little bit pregnant? But I do hear you as far as Googling only those things which you don't care to retain (e.g., Lindsey Lohan's parole officer's name) or to solve the odd personal Natick.

My fascination with Rex's blog is his unique ability to describe at which intersection his thinking is in the reticulum that holds us all.

@Hazel, love "Bob's your uncle." There you have it.

@mac, you are right about the noise of peacocks. Theirs was the only sound we could not readily identify when first we got out here...then we discovered that our neighbor, two farms down the road, was raising them.

@balto, Spider Solitaire is the perfect thing to have on hand when someone has gotten ahold of you by phone and you are a captive audience.

@reniekk, acculturated is a very fine word, and yours was a lovely use of it.

@twoponies, I want your sticker!

I love this community.

Sparky 12:01 PM  

Hwavens to Betsey. Syracuse can't be that bad, Brian. Good Monday for me. Had ALaRm but then ALEC fixed that and ESoS but CAPONE came along. I run through across first and then downs with the occassional fill-in-the-whole section like NW today. I come to the blog because it's fun. Sometimes I think "Oh, I'm so smart" and sometimes I think "Oh, I'm so dumb." There are enough different people, in addition to Rex, to find a fellow sufferer no matter what. Lots of times I learn something. Let's all go down to the seashore and have a picnic. @PurpleGuy; that's a lovely picture of you and your mother.

chefbea 12:06 PM  

Easy Monday. Loved the dish ware!!!

Love Rexville also!!!

The Hag 12:33 PM  

I kinda don't get the idea that you can "cheat" on a crossword. It isn't homework. People should do the puzzle in whatever manner is most enjoyable for them. Use or eschew whatever tools necessary to achieve that outcome. The Crossword Police will not come and arrest you.

As for Mr. Happy Pencil, he can kiss my hard copy. I'm old school paper and pen all the way, be-beh!

PuzzleNut 12:33 PM  

@foodie - your levels of cheating brought back memories of the time before Google (and the internet). My crossword skills were much less developed and I often had to resort to using the dictionary to complete puzzles. Never thought of it as cheating - just a way of learning more. In those days, it took a lot of hard work, luck, and some skill to figure out how to find an answer in the dictionary. Often had to just read word definitions that might jog your memory. Not at all like googling today where you usually can get just about any answer with a modicum of effort.
There is something to be said for being able to zero in immediately on the answer to any question, but I think I learned more when I had to flounder around.

foodie 12:38 PM  

@fikink, here's Jimmy Carter's take on layers of cheating, from his 1976 Playboy interview:

"Because I'm just human and I'm tempted and Christ set some almost impossible standards for us. The Bible says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Christ said, I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery. I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times.... This is something that God recognizes, that I will do and have done, and God forgives me for it. But that doesn't mean that I condemn someone who not only looks on a woman with lust but who leaves his wife and shacks up with somebody out of wedlock. Christ says, don't consider yourself better than someone else because one guy screws a whole bunch of women while the other guy is loyal to his wife. The guy who's loyal to his wife ought not to be condescending or proud because of the relative degree of sinfulness."

Is lusting in one's heart the same as shacking up? Is looking something up in a dictionary, a la @Puzzlenut, the same as sneaking a peak at the solved puzzle? Who knows... or it it irrelevant, as @The Hag said?

May be it's all in what we tell ourselves.

edith b 12:54 PM  

I enjoy critical essays of all sorts and this is only one of the reasons I read Rex's blog. It never occurs to me to resent him because he is faster than I am. Life is too short for that kind of envy.

When I was in college I knew a girl that positively hated movies by Elia Kazan and had seen them all. Now this was in the 60s when it was difficult to do that. I never could understand why she devolted so much of her time to something she disliked. Some one quoted the comic Brother Dave Gardner on that subject: Everyone to their own kick. I guess so.

Clark 1:02 PM  

Years ago I was playing a piano recital in a village in Germany. Just outside the concert hall (which was a barn that had been beautifully renovated and transformed by a local architect) there was a garden/plaza in which peacock roamed. I never heard those birds make a sound, except, during my concert, while I was performing a particular piece, there arose an incredible racket of shrieking and squawking in the courtyard. The piece? Liszt's Saint Francis of Assisi Preaching to the Birds.

Shamik 1:23 PM  

Easiest NYT ever for me and I finally solved my first NYT puzzle in under 3 minutes!

crossword police 1:26 PM  

we'll tolerate the dictionary, slap your wrist for minor googling, but really throw the book at you for cadging from others' solved grids or googling too liberally. Don't make me come over there.

Stan 1:29 PM  

I too enjoyed the lively clues and somewhat chewy verbiage, especially in the context of a simple Monday theme.

It's nice to be at work today and have time to actually read the blog (only during my legitimate OSHA-guaranteed breaks, of course). The movers come tomorrow and I've been obsessed with box-packing and related trivial chores (what my wife calls "Windexing the toaster"). This seriously interferes with a normal puzzle schedule!

Vega 1:30 PM  

I, like others here, changed the g to a j in ANJELICA -- and suddenly, up pops Mr. Happy Pencil. *Freaked* me out. I'm not rejoicing; on the contrary, it's a let-down for me. I don't want him. Happy Pencil "diminishes my experience of the NYT puzzle," which is to say, has the exact opposite effect on me from this blog and these comments.

Super-easy Monday for me, yet (or because?) very smooth.

acme 1:41 PM  

@clark
You see! THAT"S why I come here! Great story!

@dk
interesting typo...perhaps a spar(r)ing partner is one that goes easy on you?

Mr. Happy Pencil 1:42 PM  

@The Hag and Vega.

Whatever. You think I'm gonna be doing this for the rest of my life? Giving you all external validation is just my day job. Soon as my novel gets published I am so outta here.

fikink 2:09 PM  

@Clark, a wonderful music-of-the-spheres story!

@puzzlenut and @foodie, exactly the juxtaposition of FIL and me solving the crossword puzzle.
We sit across the breakfast table from each other: I, with my computer in front of me; he, with a stack of dictionaries, a thesaurus, Leonard Maltin's current movie guide, etc.
I have brought today's NYT puzzle in large print for him.
When our discussions are stymied, we go to the texts first and google last.
Sometimes he looks at me askance when I contribute something particularly stupid.
Recently, I did so (@GeorgeNYC)" thusly" :
...FIL is doing a puzzle while I make dinner and asks me what position Mark McGwire plays.
I said, "He was a batter."
I got the hairy eyeball.

(I am often reminded of Steve Goodman's rendition of "The Dutchman.")

Van55 2:18 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Van55 2:20 PM  

@Brian-- To answer your questions, no, I don't think for a second that the existence of this blog diminishes my enjoyment of the puzzles. I am not a speed solver, and I don't care a whit how fast others solve the puzzles. Timing myself would, I think, greatly diminish my own enjoyment and appreciation of solving.

Moreover, I often disagree with RP's assessment of relative difficulty. This goes both ways. Today, for example, I thought the puzzle was distinctly easier than he estimates. I would guess that he rates a puzzle easier than I would more often than the other way round, but who really cares? As I have said, a puzzle's degree of difficulty is very much a product of the individual solver's sphere of knowledge. I don't know the Simpsons, opera, or the geographic direction from one city to the next (in most cases). There's plenty of stuff I do know, including much of the arcania from the Maleska era.

I think RP does the puzzle early and posts his blog review before midnight because he enjoys the challenge and because he enjoys the attention the blog draws. So sue him

JaxInL.A. 2:20 PM  

Love this space. More laughs than a barrel of peacocks today. Great story, @Clark.

@Mr. Happy Pencil, good luck with that book. Clippie is probably waiting in the wings, so don't think you are indispensable.

Question for all fellow solvers: still hoping for advice on best way to get the LA Times xword on the iPad. This new gadget has changed my life, letting me solve in bed and other comfy spots. Got AcrossLite so I can do the Houston Chronicle/WashPost puzzle, subscribe to the NYT puzzle through Magmic as required by Apple, and now I'm only missing LAT to fully feed my puzzle habit. Any help?

By the way, yesterday's Merl Reagle puzzle on the theme 10/10/10 was great fun. Sorry to comment on another puzzle here but I liked it much better than the (I'm sure unexpectedly to the constructor) controversial NYT Sunday puzzle.

Rex Parker 2:24 PM  

Then there's the basic logic of solving early so that the write-up comes out in a timely fashion. Yeesh.

And @Jax, as long as you don't Spoil one of Merl's puzzles, you can sing his praises all day long as far as I'm concerned. He's a legend, and a supremely nice person to boot.

rp

chefbea 2:42 PM  

I meant to mention earlier...Do you think the dish ware in today's puzzle was the crossword dish ware that is for sale at the NYT store as mentioned yesterday??

hazel 2:54 PM  

@Tinbeni - I'm leaving in a few hours for the game. Toast everyone else tomorrow. Toast Bobby Cox tonight!! And Brooks Conrad!! Maybe that's all he needs to get right with the baseball gods. A little toast.

I am reserving my own peacock story for next time. (When we bought our house, it came with a "wild" peacock.) But @Clark's story is entirely too tough to follow.

@JaxinLA - go to Cruciverb.com and register (for free) then you can download LATIMES directly to ipad - it will ask you if you want to open with your crossword app. I just got that app last week after Amy mentioned it on her site and it is downright AWESOME!!

andreath carlath michaelsth 3:31 PM  

I finally figured out what bugs me about WEAL...It NEEDS that TH!!!
It's sorta the opposite of when someone adds the +H to HEIGHT and says HEIGHTH and my skin crawls...but WEAL without the TH is making my skin recede or something.

OK, three and out as today I'm going to walk across the Bridge (And no @Brian, I am NOT going to jump!)

sanfranman59 4:58 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:01, 6:56, 0.87, 7%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:25, 3:42, 0.92, 19%, Easy

It seems to me that if this blog were diminishing my enjoyment of doing the NYT crossword, I'd stop visiting this blog.

Rube 5:05 PM  

WEAL I am familiar with, but INHERE did not raise any flags until I came here. Thus, INHERE is my WOTD, something which does not usually happen on Mondays.

Add me to the long list of those who misspelled ANJELICA with a "g". That and ESoS/ESAS were my only writeovers.

Thx @Rex for the write-up today. I enjoy write-ups that stay "on topic", i.e. solving the puzzle.

BTW, if you'vew ever coached soccer, even in the USA, FIFA is a gimme. Of course, it is called The World Cup, everywhere, unless it's called The FIFA World Cup, (or La Cuppa Mondial, etc.)

Love how the different personalities here pick up on different words. One guy gets turned on with PERT, the next guy with OKIE, and of course the geologist with TECTONICPLATE. I'm staying out of the PEAHEN argument, except to say that there seem to be fewer wild roosters on Kauai this year.

Doc John 5:14 PM  

Not much to add other than that's one heckuva coaster in the background of the Mt. Olympus sign. The lift hill isn't until about 1/3 of the way into the ride. It drops right out of the station and twists and turns its way to the lift. After the lift is a long, dark tunnel under the parking lot, a turnaround, and back through the tunnel again. Not a bit of straight track in that tunnel, either. In fact there are 90 degree banked turns and one outwardly banked turn. FUN!!!

r.alphbunker 5:42 PM  

@JaxInL.A

It is possible to download the LA Times puzzle to your iPad. Here is how I did it just now. You will need your own web site to do this.

0. Get the Stand Alone Crosswords app from the app store

1. Open www.cruciverb.com and save the LA times to your local drive.

2. FTP the puzzle to your web site. To respect the copyright, put it in a directory that has no links to it so that a Google search won't find it.

3. In the Stand Alone app tap the little four-square crossword icon in lower left corner.

4. Then tap the + icon on the tab bar

5. Then tap the Other... button

6. Type in the URL of the **directory** where you stored the puzzle.

7. Stand Alone will display links to all files in the directory. Click the link for the LA Times puzzles you uploaded in step 2.

This is not as complicated as it sounds. I follow these steps to do the Peter Gordon FireBall puzzle on my iPod and it takes less than a minute.

Let's hope that Alex Boisvert ports his Crossword Butler to run as an iPhone app soon.

Good luck

Anonymous 8:02 PM  

The timer in Across Lite should be eliminted -- none of the times listed are honest including those who are not "competing" -- it's a sham and patently absurd. Get rid of it and stop gobbling your food like hogs in the stye!

Anonymous 8:04 PM  

And before the first snide comment occurs I don't give a damn about my spelling!

chefwen 9:09 PM  

@Rube - re. Kaua'i chickens, I think you are just getting used to them, they're EVERYWHERE! Of course, our dogs do their part every spring to thin out the crop, but it's a losing battle.

@Clark - Great story, I loved it.

mmorgan 9:23 PM  

@fikink -- yes, I love this community too. I just lurked and skimmed for a very long time (partly -- just partly -- because every time I tried to set up a Google idenity, something got screwed up, so I started by posting some as Anonymous and I didn't really like that). Now I post with more regularity, and Rex even kinda indirectly yelled at me yesterday, which was cool. ;-) But too often I only have time just to quickly skim the postings, which I find frustrating, especially as they evolve during the day.

@puzzlenut -- How well I remember the days of dictionary hunting, and the immense satisfaction I'd get when I'd actually find an answer there. Kids are so spoiled today...

@jim-- since I often can't read my own writing, puzzles have taken on far greater levels of pleasure thanks to AcrossLite!

@anon/8:02PM -- the new Across Lite includes a timer but just click on it and -- Bob's your uncle, it's off!!! And I usually do turn it off, since I'm more interested in savoring a puzzle than in racing through it.

nanpilla 9:30 PM  

@chefbea: I saw my sister for lunch today, and she gave me the mug and the cereal bowl from the NYT crossword dishware collection. I laughed and said "chefbea just mentioned these on the blog yesterday!".

Sfingi 9:31 PM  

Smooth and easy.

I can't believe I know what FIFA means and others don't! Me, the original sports retard (sorry retards). I guess, because Hubster's Sicilian. And his cousin is a big wheel in national AYSO.

@Falconer - interesting.

I remember Katie Couric saying she's trying to work to prevent the word PERT from ending up on her gravestone.

@Brian - Just turn the dial.

Ben 11:52 PM  

Exactly what @Fikink said. My first time finishing a NYT puzzle in under 3 minutes. 2:58 to be precise. It just flowed more easily than usual.

Dirigonzo 4:16 PM  

Hey, I may solve in syndication but I love a Monday puzzle with a porn subtheme as much as the next guy (or gal, I guess.) PERT breasts, showy cock (didn't watch the video, sorry) and nobody's even mentioned stag's pride (8d). Something for everybody!

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