Folk rock singer Straw / SAT 11-27-10 / Moose Drool Trout Slayer / Old China essayist / Old dirk / Bond girl player Green / Tony winner Caldwell

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Constructor: Xan Vongsathorn

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: WELTER (15A: Confusion) —

  1. A confused mass; a jumble: a welter of papers and magazines.
  2. Confusion; turmoil.
intr.v., -tered, -ter·ing, -ters.
  1. To wallow, roll, or toss about, as in mud or high seas.
  2. To lie soaked in a liquid.
  3. To roll and surge, as the sea.

[From Middle English welteren, to toss about, as in high seas, from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch, to roll.] (wikipedia)

• • •
This started out very rough, but it turns out I was just looking at bad starting answers. Once I finally stumbled into a couple little easy pockets, this thing opened right up and I was done in better-than-average time. Today's puzzle feels balanced—not overly contemporary, not overly old-fashioned. This is possibly because Mr. Vongsathorn is quite young, but more likely because Mr. Vongsathorn is just good. Feels very up-to-date, language-wise, in a way that most people of all ages can appreciate. While I don't care for the show itself, "THE BIGGEST LOSER" is a fresh answer (32A: Show in which many pots disappear?), and though the intersecting 15 doesn't do much for me (FIRST ONE TO BLINK feels slightly jury-rigged—7D: Defeated contestant in a face-off), I really like the Acrosses in the NE and SW, plus SENIORITIS (22A: High-class affliction?) and BOBBLEHEAD (47A: Bounce in a sports stadium?). STEEL JAWS is too gruesome for me (31D: Features of some bear traps), but I kind of like how animal cruelty is offset symmetrically by the more animal-friendly FREE-RANGE (6D: Like some chickens).

Started with SLUES (9D: Turns sharply) / SNEE. Anyone else? Anyone? [Old dirk] just screamed SNEE, and terminal -ES on 9D screamed SLUES. Please note that you can hear these screams *only* if you do a *lot* of crosswords. Other screams: four-letter Nabokov title (PNIN). Four-letter British institution (ETON; 26A: Historic institution near Slough). Four-letter District in southern Kazakhstan (ARAL). Three-letter constellation (ARA; 53D: Neighbor of Scorpius). Four-letter essayist (ELIA; 36D: "Old China" essayist). These are all answers that a constant solver is going to be able to suss out fairly readily. I had some other gimmes, but they were accidents of knowledge (e.g. JERI Ryan (51A: Ryan of "Star Trek: Voyager"), SYD Straw). Had some name trouble with and ZOE (21A: Tony winner Caldwell) and EVA (49A: Bond girl player Green) (whom I now realize I've seen before), as well as DRE (whom I *know* I've never seen before), but I worked it out via crosses. Got my first real bit of traction from ETON / SEPT / ETCH. From there I eventually got SENIORITIS, and the grid opened up in all directions from there.

  • 40A: Moose Drool or Trout Slayer (ALE) — never heard of either, but educatedly guessed it once I had the "L" from ELIA in there.
  • 4D: "Quickest way to Harlem," in song (A-TRAIN) — Ella's version is the one I know best.

  • 12D: Alternatives to Triscuits (RITZES) — I submit that no one calls them this. "Do you want some Triscuits? Do you want some Ritz? ... somehow, colloquially, that "Z" does double duty as a plural ending (grammar be damned)
  • 34D: Dinar earner (SERB) — I think there are many countries that have the dinar as currency, yet somehow I got this quickly, off just the "S"
  • 42D: Adjective-less language (NAVAHO) — Very easy to get when you have -AHO already in place before you even see the clue.
  • 50D: Setting of Mozart's only clarinet concerto: Abbr. (A MAJ.) — I listened to Mozart's Clarinet Quintet only yesterday—a birthday treat.

  • 56D: Folk rock singer Straw (SYD) — far less famous than she should be. I own two of her albums. Love her style. Here's a cut from an album I played all throughout my college years.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


D_Blackwell 1:40 AM  

RITZES, as a practical matter, exists only in crosswords.


SNEEZE or RED EYE for WHEEZE for a while.

I liked the JAIL / BAIL cross.

Overall, I did not like the puzzle because I Xed quite a few clues as sucking.

Anonymous 2:43 AM  

NE took forever as I had open Range before FREE Range and sour NOTE and Foul NOTE before FLAT NOTE finally dawned on me.

I was reminded by the STEEL JAWS bear trap of my youth. As a young boy my mother would faithfully haul me to Kildare Avenue Baptist Church every Sunday, attending both Sunday school and the main service. One day the preacher invited a guest minister to add to the service. The guest minister needed a volunteer. I was barely school age at the time but somehow against my will I was picked as the volunteer to assist him. Well, to make his point he had a bear trap, which he set and then asked me to put my hand in it. Of course, as young as I was I nonetheless was reluctant to go near the damned thing. He insisted it was perfectly safe and repeatedly implored me to put my hand on the trap. So, after numerous times telling me it was okay and safe and encouraging me, being the young sap I was, I put my hand on the trap, which instantly snapped shut, locking my hand. The guest minister was totally surprised because he apparently never expected me to do it, even though he repeatedly asked me, telling me it would be perfectly safe. Suffice it to say he had fixed it so there was no damage to my hand. I don’t remember his point other than he wanted to show what little faith there was in people. I think I spoiled his sermon. In any case today I am a Pantheist or Pagan or something like that (and I bet you thought the P in WASP only meant Protestant)....

jae 2:45 AM  

I wrote Easy-Med. in the margin of this one so it's nice to see Rex agrees. I too tried SNEEZES for too long which slowed me down a tad. (OK, I also had CORVETTE for a nanosec.) Rex is spot on about the screaming gimmies for the folks who do a lot of xwords. My only problem is that I've filled in PNIN and forgotten it more than I want to admit. Thus, my last fill for this one was the "P." I liked this one, breezy Sat.

SethG 3:00 AM  

There was some low stuff, but the highs were really high. Several great entries, and frequently fantastic cluing. XV's definitely one of my favorite constructors.

ARF ARF in 1A is the new black.

Ben 8:13 AM  

What SethG and Rex said. Fresh, interesting fill and clever cluing. Very nice Saturday. Great job, Xan.

Started slowly but finished fast.

Ben 8:13 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 8:44 AM  

I started with the "small wheel" ROULETTE, then SNEE and SLUES. ZOE Caldwell crossed nicely with ACT ONE. Good beginning, but the rest was slow!

I thought the longest down at 7A was WORST ONE TO something, for a while. Thus I made my way all around the rest of the puzzle -- then came back to the NE to find WHEEZE and FAST DRAW, so my last entry was FIRST!

Loved Poe's old poem THE RAVEN, which I could once recite through all 26 stanzas, plus SENIORITIS to indicate that I can't any more. Aging establishment as a WINERY was a hoot, and the ALE clue new to me! (Moose Drool? Eeww.) Something for everyone?

Listening to Mozart as I write: super. Thanx, Xan!


Bob Kerfuffle 9:10 AM  

Saw Xan's name and thought this would be very good but very hard. Turned out to be very good but not so hard.

Agree with Rex about all the useful crosswordese (PNIN etc.), but one worked against me, as for the longest time I considered 17 A as possibly EUCHRE (card game, six letters, starts with E - does it have tricks? who knows?).

Actual write-overs limited to 41 A, had SPLIT before ENDIT; 60 A, SENSED before SEEMED; and what I'll guess is the most common, 14 D, SNEEZE before WHEEZE.

Leslie 9:10 AM  

Loved this puzzle although I most certainly did not find it easy or even medium! I've never heard of ECARTE and was trying to fit in "hearts" or "euchre." Wanted "the weakest link" instead of FIRST ONE TO BLINK, even though that answer comes up a square short. PNIN is well-known crosswordese? Okay, I guess . . . to everyone but me. At 50D, I was sure "name-of-a-note minor" would fit in better than "name-of-a-note MAJ," so didn't see SODA JERK for a while. Didn't know EVA Green, JERI Ryan, ANITA Diamant . . . I guess I need to get out more.

Anyway, I did finish, but this one put me through the wringer on the way. Loved BOBBLEHEAD, WINERY, THE BIGGEST LOSER, and SENIORITIS.

mitchs 9:12 AM  

First answer was The Biggest Loser (love those [?] clues) and then the top fell pretty quickly. The bottom, not so much.

Thought it might a personal best time, but not to be. Love Bobblehead and its clue.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

Trout Slayer and Moose Drool are both from Big Sky Brewing Company in Missoula, Montana.

Pigeon-Infested Quinn 9:37 AM  

I don't share the love for this one, starting with ARFARF and continuing down with FLAT NOTE, which I don't think is a crossword-worthy phrase. Flat tire maybe, sour note maybe, but "flat note" is just two words together like "giant closet." FIRST ONE TO BLINK isn't really that snappy of a phrase either. All in all this puzzle hit kind of a sour note for me.

It's redeemed a bit with SODA JERK and CALIMARI down below, and holy shit!, finding out Navajo has no adjectives. Man, the limitiations are endless! Did they just not want to describe anything? "We're in the goddamn desert, what more you wanna know? Here, have a rug. No, I don't know what color it is."

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Remembered Gilbert and Sullivan line, "...snick a snee".

glimmerglass 9:42 AM  

I started with "Tab" for 1D (misreading "struck" as "stuck"), crossing "bridge" for 17A, so the NW was a complete loss. Went on and finished the rest, came back and erased what I had and started again. FREERANGE and RETRO gave me ARFARF (second in about a week), and the rest was easy enough.
I was sure SEZ (31A Buzz) was wrong, but gave up trying to make it something else. Now I see that it's correct, but I still don't know why. "Buzz" as a verb is an infinitive or a plural; "sez" is neither. "Buzz" meaning "news," "kiss," or "fly low over" doesn't yield "sez." Anyone help me here?

Aleman 9:45 AM  

Wow Moose Drool makes the puzzle. Always in top ten of unusual or cool beer name lists. Some others:

McQuire's I'll Have What The Gentleman On The Floor Is Having Barley Wine

Ridgeway Brewing's: Santa’s Butt Porter and Seriously Bad Elf.

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

The "easy" clues shouldn't be sniffed at, as they give the solver welcome footholds to help suss out the answers to overly difficult clues which otherwise would make the puzzle uber-challenging, indeed.

Terrific work by Xan; solvers should hope he doesn't become sufficiently famous to be included as a crossword answer. XANVONGSATHORN? Wow!

My Eyes Failing Too 9:49 AM  

@glimmerglass - This happens to me all the time - You have your clue numbers seriously mixed up! 31 A, Casual remarks (as, slangy way of saying "remarks") is SEZ, and 27 A, Buzzes is/are ADOS.

glimmerglass 9:55 AM  


Leslie 10:07 AM  

"We're in the goddamn desert, what more you wanna know? Here, have a rug. No, I don't know what color it is."

Love this. And I did wonder at how you can have an adjective-free language. "The cactus flower that is the color of the sun as it sets." There needs to be a shorter way to say "red."

Matthew G. 10:10 AM  

Can't believe Moose Drool showed up here. The only place I was ever served that brew was in a tiny saloon in Austin, Nevada (pop. 300).

Loved the puzzle. Reeeeeeealy wanted 32A to be "The Deadliest Catch," but it was a letter too short. (The crab cages they throw in the sea are called pots) First entry was A TRAIN, last square filled was the E in SEZ.

Both the cluing and the grid were just great. Knew some random stuff today by luck, such as JERI Ryan, which was immensely helpful because it gave me the J in STEEL JAWS. And it was one of those days where blind stabs paid off --- somehow guessed RITZES with no crosses, perhaps from all the times I've stared into the pantry and saw them right next to the Triscuits (by the way, does anyone actually like Triscuits? They have the texture of dried wool, IMHO). Also got SODA JERK off just the S. Some days it all just works. After my miserable performance Friday, an easy but sharp Saturday puzzle was a delight.

Hard to pick a favorite clue/answer today, but SENIORITIS, GELD, and ARF ARF were especially good. Re: THE RAVEN clue: I did not know that! though once I got it, I thought, "of course."

One of my favorite puzzles in a while. Great construction, Xan!

PlantieBea 10:20 AM  

Nice Saturday and I agree with the easy/medium rating. The CALAMARI corner was completed first; I was watching Zorba the Greek (and this movie, supposedly regarded as a celebration of life, SEEMED creepy btw) , so Mediterranean was on my mind. I'm sad to say, after reading Rex's write-up, that the SNEE/SLUES crossing with ROULETTE was the last, not-so-easy entry for me. And I had an ugly error in spelling the French seven SEIT.

Now let's make fun of Hebrew 10:25 AM  

... Because Navajo has a complex grammar, it is not nearly mutually intelligible enough with even its closest relatives within the Na-Dene family to provide meaningful information, and was an unwritten language, Johnston saw Navajo as answering the military requirement for an undecipherable code.

"Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima."[12] Wiki


joho 11:03 AM  

I had many of the initial mistakes already mentioned. One I haven't read is tHeINn for the iconic building ... you know, like there's no room at The Inn. I finally fixed that when I got SALEITEM.


This was a fresh, fun Saturday solve ... thank you, Xan!

Jim 11:03 AM  

Still can't count on finishing a Sat, but as far as DNFs go, this was fun.

Started with JAIL, BAIL and EVA (Ms Stephanie Broadchest), and the rest of the SW fell, along with THEBIGGESTLOSER. Alright, here we go! Eh, not so much.

The non-Dr DRE gave me all the foothold I needed in the easy NE, but FIRST...FIRST...FIRST...petered out.

West was OK, and on into the NW, where sourNOTE prevented harmony there. Don't like FLATNOTE. And what the hell is a TARE? Flatnotes are often intended (I.e., no disharmony). Sour notes are, by definition, unintended. Bad answer.

Nabokov novel? If it's not Lolita...ahdunno...Coast Guard?

Middle was too populated with crosswordese and SE I just wasn't feeling. BOBBLEHEAD felled me, as I had pOintguarD (although stadium in the clue gave me pause...usually basjetball teams play in arenas, or gardens or whatever. Stadium suggests outdoors). Had STEELJAWS originally but took it out. What's with the 'some' in the clue? Completely messed me up! What, as opposed to all those bear traps with the looped rope on the ground tethered to a coiled rubber tree? Gimme a break.

quilter1 11:13 AM  

My first entry was ATRAIN. Also misread 1D as stuck and had tab for a long time. Went away and came back and voila! I was struck with AWE. Confidently entered basketball at 47A and then struggled with the crosses until I proved myself wrong. Luckily I knew JERI and ANITAS so didn't suffer long. I liked this puzzle because even tho it had lots of xword gimmes, the longer answers were fresh and gettable.

Mel Ott 11:38 AM  

Easy but fun Saturday puzzle. So much good stuff I could overlook the return of ARFARF: FAST DRAW, IDLE RICH, A TRAIN (thx Rex for the Duke-Ella clip), BOBBLEHEAD, SODA JERK to name just a few.

Slowed only in SE because of the stack of odd proper names. SALE ITEM & SHRINES cleaned up that corner.

SYD's a she?

capcha = alish: like Moose Drool. Ick.

TimJim 11:44 AM  

Easy and enjoyable, especially after yesterday's struggle. Had BOOB sted BOZO and SENSED sted SEEMED, which slowed me down, but figured it out eventually. Loved BOBBLEHEAD. Didn't know "Biggest Loser" or ECARTE but got 'em. And thanks, Rex for the links to some terrific music!

Tobias Duncan 11:51 AM  

Tried to start this last night after dancing and drinking to the wee hours. Buggered myself by putting in euchre.Even half drunk I was able to get THERAVEN with no crosses(thanks granddad!) but just could not really get anywhere so I went to bed.
Got up this morning,popped in NAVAHO and I was off to the races!
Late week puzzles have been working me over for a while now, felt great to really get a hold of one.

fikink 12:03 PM  

Thanks for the Ella, Rex.
Last time I did one of Xan's puzzle's I had my butt kicked big time. So I was mightily pleased I finished this in fairly short order.

Anon@2:43, that would turn me away from church, too. (FIL turned his back on the Episcopal church when he was told dogs don't go to heaven.) I like the bear traps that are just big oil drums for relocating our furry friends.

@jae, my last was the P in PNIN, too. Somehow I cannot think of Nabokov without thinking of Sting.

@Sethg, "the new black" LOL!

@BobK, I long had EUCHre, too, and then HEARTS, @Leslie.

@Aleman, love Seriously Bad Elf! (The name, I've never tasted it. Stuck on Fat Tire at the moment.)

@Matthew G - good thinking on the crab pots. I was sure it had to do with poker to begin with.

@P>G>, nice rejoinder. thank you.

@quilter, thanks for the Iowa rah yesterday. "By and large, we are a mahhhvelous sex!"

JaxInL.A. 12:18 PM  

This is just not my (long) weekend for puzzle success. Got AWE and ATRAIN and the rest of the NW remained stubbornly empty. I knew the long down answer had something to do with blinking, but got stuck thinking the phrase would be configured "one who didn't blink" or some such.

Finished the SE after an initial flirtation with BOBBysoxer (they might bounce in a stadium, right?). On reflection that Mr. Vongsathorn was WAY too young to have any such association with a fifties icon, BOBBLEHEAD just popped up.

Got SNEE, got PNIN, even got ELIA (pen name for Charles Lamb, whose tales from Shakespeare was my 10-year-old entry into a life-long passion). But SLUES stayed hidden.

The funniest thing was that the clue for "working class anti-thesis" had me trying to remember a song from Finian's Rainbow, but I couldn't get it and couldn't think why my brain was trying so hard to call it up. I came here and realized that the first line of the song is "when the idle poor become the idle rich...". Then I thought that "high class affliction" would somehow relate to IDLE RICH. Sigh.

Epic fail but mostly my own fault.

Two Ponies 12:28 PM  

Today was nearly a repeat of yesterday. Full of names I did not know but still somehow got by ...
almost. I should have remembered Pitt but the novel was a total unknown.
I still had fun. I learned a few things along the way so good puzzle for me.
But why are the turtle's eyes a slit?
Good clue for geld. Sorry if it made you men wince.
I'll have to Syd Straw a listen.
I only know Syd Barrett.

OldCarFudd 12:39 PM  

Good fun. Loved The Biggest Loser and first one to blink. Sensed before seemed, sneeze before wheeze. Knew Moose Lips (there used to be, maybe still is, a watering hole by that name in Vermont, near Sugarbush and Mad River).

Other grand old beer name: Old Frothingslosh, A whale of an Ale (for a Frail Pale Male).

My two favorite names for currently available beers are a couple named for me: Old Peculier, from the UK, and Arrogant Bastard Ale, from the west coast.

Benz was my gimme. First gasoline car, 1886.

Masked and Anonymous 1:10 PM  

Started with 1D=TAB [misreading clue's "struck" as "stuck"] and 17A=BRIDGE. Thought I had that puppy nailed. Then things got sort of . . . wobbly, in the NW. Dumb, I know ... but hey, I thought yesterday was Saturday, so waddayah expect?

So, got real desperate-like and went huntin' for bones, and got a nice one at 59A=SODAJERK. Soon the SW was history.

Then noticed yada-yada-LINK at end of 7-D, plus had an S up higher in it from SNEE; immediately thought of FIRST[something]TOBLINK, and assumed something=ONE. Hats off to SNEE; pure crosswordese, but saved my bacon. Got nothin' at all against crosswordese bein' in a crossword; seems like the place for it, IMHO.

Got VongsathornPuz cornered in the NW without too much further ado. Bein' bull-headed, couldn't let that TAB/BRIDGE crud go. Finally went to and checked for usages of BRIDGE in NYTPuz's. No Nov 27 2010 entry. Uh-oh. Then re-read 1-D clue. Then slapped BOZO self on head [I alternate sides, to keep wear-and-tear to a minimum]. Then soon done.

Fun stuff. Thumbs up. More U's, please.

Shamik 1:27 PM  

Loved this medium-for-me puzzle! Had BRIDGE and then HEARTS which really stymied the NW.

I'm a minor beer snob, so loved MOOSE DROOL and TROUT SLAYER as a clue. And have tried them both. Put me in the SNEEZE for WHEEZE column.

What I'm really curious about is what the gimmes say about my brain:


Just an odd assortment that struck me today.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

FIRST ONE TO BLINK crosses with THE BIGGEST LOSER. The FIRST ONE TO BLINK was the catch phrase of the day in the aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis. I don’t know how many here lived during those few days (obviously not Rex) but it was probably the closest the world came to nuclear war. When the missiles were discovered, JFK ordered a naval blockade of Cuba to keep the USSR from importing any more. Nobody knew whether or not the USSR woukld try to run the blockade, which might have meant World War III. When the USSR started to dismantle their missiles on Cuba, the crisis was over and the JFK Administration’s Talking Pont was that Khrushchev was the first one to blink. Later it was revealed JFK had agreed to dismantle the US missiles in Turkey aimed at the USSR and agreed never to invade Cuba in exchange for the USSR removing its missiles from Cuba. In any event it was the Biggest Blink in history and I will leave it there for others to figure out who was THE BIGGEST LOSER. One consequence of that crisis was the installation of the red phone in the White House for direct communication between the President and the USSR leader to avoid any misunderstandings in the future that could result in a nuclear exchange....

fikink 1:51 PM  

After that, there was Seven Days in May, Fail Safe, and the hilarious Dr. Strangelove. I love how we used to digest things in this country!

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

@ fikink you forgot the best of all -- The Mancurian Candidate -- which was released then, from Wikipedia: The central concept of the film is that the son of a prominent, right-wing political family has been brainwashed as an unwitting assassin for an international Communist conspiracy. The Manchurian Candidate was nationally released on Wednesday, October 24, 1962, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Now where did I see Obama's birth certificate....

Masked and Anonymous and Can't Read Worth a Sou 2:25 PM  

@glimmerglass: Just noticed in re-reading some comments that you also started out the NW like I did [w. TAB/BRIDGE]. Makes me feel less alone in CrossWorld. Thx!

While I'm here again, best clue nominee:
"Reaction from one who has a bone to pick?"
Love those "?" clues. Like solvin' riddles within an enigma. Not sure I've seen a dog pick at a bone; usually they go more all-out than that. Maybe "pick" = "select" here? Hence the "?". Almost worth a "??". Har.

mitchs 3:24 PM  

One of my favorite details about the Cuban missile crisis is that Kruschev (sp?) originally sent a letter that was somewhat concialatory - I think it was along the lines of that which was finally resolved. Then, as tensions increased, he sent a second letter that was much more bellicose. The Kennedy's were in a quandary. What to do? Ignore the second letter and respond to the first! Quite possibly their finest owahh.

PuzzleNut 3:29 PM  

Easiest Saturday in a long time. Even when I wasn't sure of an answer, my first guess was almost always correct.
Two write-overs - dOdO/BOZO and abcdE/EENIE. Neither one created much damage, but I was so confident after nailing the LOSER, BLINKer, SODAJERK, ARFARF that I figured I was invincible today.
Guessed that the cracker was a RITZ, but wouldn't put it in at first because of how ugly RITZES was. Wanted Euchre, like many others, but R?U didn't cut it. Normally wouldn't have liked the JAIL/BAIL cluing, but it turned out to be a gimme.
Remember liking the clue for WINERY, and snickered at SENIORITIS.

Anonymous 3:45 PM  

"I don’t know how many here lived during those few days (obviously not Rex) but it was probably the closest the world came to nuclear war."

Hardly. We seem to forget that the closest the world has come to nuclear war is actual nuclear war, started by the United States. Roughtly 200,000 Japanese died when the U.S. dropped nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

chaos1 3:58 PM  

I haven't read all the posts here yet. I'll most likely get back to them, but just for the halibut, I'm going to " cut and paste " my entire submission on today's Wordplay. I know there are a lot of crossover posters. I did put a modicum of effort into my rendition of a poem originated by KarmaSartre @ Wordplay. For those of you who don't crossover, I thought you all might get a chuckle out of it? Having said that, I obviously have way too much time on my hands. Still, I had fun with it. Here is the post in it's entirety, from my comment on Wordplay:

Once upon a morning cheery, with eyes like SLITs, and slightly bleary,
I pondered o'er a certain theory, concerning rhyming words for "ORE"

While I plotted, neatly mapping, crossword ken was overlapping,
as neural synapses were zapping, my hippocampus of prior lore.
Even though my brain was cluttered, " Tis Dr. Suess " I muttered,
accessing clues long since shuttered, shuttered in my cranial fore.

Ah, distinctly I remember, twas near the end of bleak November,
and each Marlboro cast a dying ember, from a SLUE of ashes on my floor.
Doggedly, I sought the answer, toiling like a necromancer,
neurons pranced like a sylvan dancer, deep within my memory's core.
Such a simple clue won't beat me, nor a forgotten poem defeat me,
soon the poet's name will greet me, that guy who likes to rhyme with "ORE" !

57A screams " Fill Me ! " I will not let this Xan guy kill me !
MHP awaits to thrill me, I will not take it in the Shortz !
My dura-mater's close to leaking, now the sylvan dancer's shrieking,
" No Fair, No Fair peeking ! , you can do this, he exhorts " !

Finally, the revelation ! The dancer ends this great frustration,
assuages pent up aggravation, " Yes you dope, it is The Raven ! "

Mr. Poe, what were you thinking? I suspect you had been drinking ?
Or perhaps, and more appropriate, your brain was clouded by an opiate?
It must have hurt to lose Lenore, but just because she rhymes with " ORE ",
does that give license to have penned, a bazillion homophones at each end ?

Well, that's what poems are all about, and you were brilliant, there's no doubt.
Poking fun was just in jest. As poet's go, I love you best !
You'll be remembered in crosswords galore. THE RAVEN rests above your door.
Will I again, attempt this chore? Quote THE RAVEN, " NEVERMORE ! "

With all due homage to Edgar Allan Poe, 1809-1849.

KarmaSartre @ 5: Once again, well done ! I wasn't trying to upstage you my friend. Your entry was superior to mine, because you kept within the Wordplay theme of including as many puzzle answers in your poem as possible. I just couldn't attempt to go there. Our styles are a bit different.

I apologize for any errors in my post. I did proof it to the best of my ability, but I really wish I had the " Review Comment " option before submission. If Rex's software can handle it, why not the NYT ? Maybe someday?

Geometricus 3:59 PM  

I knew when I finished in only 1 hour 23 min that I would come on here and read comments like "easiest Saturday in a long time". Last Saturday took me 2 hours. This week I cheated much less though: no Googling, and only pressed the "hint" button to highlight errors 2-3 times instead of dozens of times, and not until I was almost done.

NW fell last for me, I too had SOUR NOTE. Last to fall was the W in WELTER.

Anonymous 4:04 PM  

@Anon - I forgot that the United States started WWII. But Japan was THE FIRST TO BLINK and THE BIGGEST LOSER....

PlantieBea 4:10 PM  

Bravo chaos1, to which I reply, "Encore!"

quilter1 4:26 PM  

I went to get a haircut today and got myself a present--a crossword themed pen! As I haven't caught up with syndication yet (except Sunday) I did the five weeks ago puzzle with my new pen. It didn't make me smarter, but I did finish.

Dbg 4:44 PM  

Have not posted in years but could not resist today. In Newton, Mass. (suburb of Boston) for a family affair. On the drive yesterday looked up just in time to see the sign for Framingham/ Natick. Soon after passed the Natick service area. Don't think this will ever be associated with anything but this blog.

Leslie 4:50 PM  

Chaos 1, WOW!!

mitchs 5:00 PM  

@chaos 1: wow inded! (thanks for taking my mind off anon 3:45.) 3 and out.

OldCarFudd 5:06 PM  

Chaos1: That's astounding! Give us more!

Van55 5:29 PM  

19 proper names by my count.

I think the clue for bobblehead is way off.

Mr. Vongsathorn is a genius.

sanfranman59 6:09 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 6:24, 6:56, 0.92, 22%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:01, 8:57, 0.90, 21%, Easy-Medium
Wed 13:11, 11:40, 1.13, 81%, Challenging
Thu 17:22, 19:02, 0.91, 41%, Medium
Fri 27:47, 26:18, 1.06, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 28:57, 30:39, 0.94, 34%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:24, 3:42, 0.92, 16%, Easy
Tue 4:17, 4:36, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium
Wed 6:19, 5:44, 1.10, 79%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 8:50, 9:11, 0.96, 51%, Medium
Fri 15:25, 12:51, 1.20, 88%, Challenging
Sat 14:48, 17:29, 0.85, 21%, Easy-Medium

chaos1 6:46 PM  

@ Anonymous 2:53PM : A truly horrifying story! Your psyche could have been scarred for life, not to mention your arm. Had the spring not been altered, you might have only one arm now. A steel jawed bear trap is a truly insidious devise. The assumption that the preacher didn't think you would do it, was no justification for his actions. You should have kicked him right in the balls !

jae @ 2:45 AM : I got burned on PNIN sometime during this year, and vowed that I would never forget it. I'll admit that the clue is better than ADA.

ArtLvr @ 8:44 AM : Mightily impressed, that you could once recite The RAVEN from memory. I used to be able to do the same thing with the Gettysburg Address, but that was easier. Hope you liked my send-up on The Raven. It was all in fun.

@ Anonymous 9:17 AM : Loved that clue! Moose Drool. My kind of ALE. Kina reminds me of Old Frothingslosh !

@ Pigeon-Infested Quinn 9:37 AM
Priceless ! ROTFLMFAO !

@ Jim 11:03 AM : Nope! Most bear traps today, at least in populated areas, are steel conduits with trip gates at both ends of the bait. Personally, I'd prefer a .338 Winchester magnum. No room for error there!

@ fikink 12:03 PM : I'm not a believer, but if dogs don't go to heaven, I want to go where they go. I've met very few people whom I've loved more than my dogs.

@ Anonymous 1:33 PM : Yes, I remember that only too well. Khrushchev had said, " We will bury You " at a U.N. meeting prior to the crisis. He accented the point by banging his shoe on the table. Those were scary times.

@ Anonymous 3:45 PM : Valid point, but most if not all historians agree that an invasion of the Japanese mainland would have been much more devastating in terms of American casualties, and off the charts for the Japanese. The collateral civilian deaths were actually minimized. Japan had three days between Hiroshima and Nagasaki to surrender. Shame on Hirohito, or his minions. Hindsight is always 20/20 vision. Still, it was a terrible thing, and perhaps the collective understanding of it's consequences will insure that it never happens again?

Thanks to PlantieBea, Leslie, and all others that have, or might comment on my poem post. It's the first time I have ever had a post highlighted in the NYT. I am humbled, but it was an undeserved accolade. It's easy to plagiarize or paraphrase a great poet or author's work. This will be my swan song for the day, but I do appreciate the kudos for my attempt at entertaining all my friends on the blogs.

Have a great Sunday all !

andrea carlamari michaels 8:29 PM  

I wrote at 3 am last night, what I'm sure was a dazzling post! Doesn't seem to be here when I checked in to read everyone else :(

All I can remember of it now was loving SODAJERK being on thebottom line, all those little Js and Zs clusters :)

And vague memories of commenting on the guy across the street who was banging on the door, calling on his cellphone, in the rain to someone who may or may not have been intentionally not letting him in...
As my therapist no longer lets me intervene, I guess he was THE BIGGEST LOSER.
Woke up to him still knocking.

In response to whoever didn't think ORZO was a side dish yesterday, I don't think of CALAMARI as an appetizer, but had lots of fun thinking of thousands of Mediterranean appetizers I do like. Tzatziki being the number one, if only bec of the spelling.
Babaganoush is the most fun to say tho.
Yay, XAN! The most fun constructor's name to (try to) say. Right up there with Ashish's erstwhile puzzle partner.

treedweller 9:10 PM  

I DNF, in no small part because right up to the end my face-off loser ended in "ICERINK".

mmorgan 9:34 PM  

@Chaos1 -- I am in awe (pronounce to rhyme with ORE ;-)

Just finished Sunday, folks -- it's a doozy!!

Anonymous 9:45 PM  

@Chaos1 - Wow, 2 today and yesterday you were wondering if anyone missed you. Right on!

@ Andrea Whatever Michaels - Calamari is always an appetizer even if it is also an entree, but it's like an entree because it is so filling.

@ Whatever Quinn - Isn't godammit an adjective? Try: "That desert. Godammit!"

fikink 10:05 PM  

@chaos 1 - your poem, a tour de force and your ideas about dogs, sacred. Gus says you are the real deal and FIL is just happy to be alive and safe. God bless Jerome (FIL's dog we toast to nightly)!

Stan 11:47 PM  

Love Syd Straw... And once said to a vet's assistant -- who had transcribed my cat's name as 'Sid' --"No, it's like Barrett or Straw, not Vicious!"

FoodFixer 11:06 AM  

Any musicians who put CLAMNOTE? And I didn't appreciate the H over the J in NAVAjO. Otherwise enjoyable with tough misdirecting (for me).

PS: You gotta love the folks who essentially say that dropping two nuclear weapons on civilians was a good thing. As though there wasnt an implied message to the Soviets...

Sallypurry 5:25 PM  

The way I see it, in this case (31-A), remarks is not the plural of a noun but a present-tense verb, the casual version of which would be sez. So I don't see anything gramatically wrong with it. In fact I liked the clue, once I finally understood it.

Sue 1:10 PM  

MOOSE DROOL and TROUT SLAYER are Montana beers. We were introduced to them in GLacier National Park, after a day of hiking and watching REAL moose drool in the wild!

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