Weezer's music genre / TUE 11-30-10 / Toper slangily / Toper's back-pocket item / Climate-change protocol city / Corleone who broke Michael's heart

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Constructor: Kristian House

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: OPTS OUT — theme answers begin with OPTS and every possible anagram of OPTS


Word of the Day: DIPSO (26D: Toper, slangily) —

n. Slang, pl., -sos.
A person who has a compulsion to drink alcohol; a dipsomaniac.
• • •
Didn't care much for this one, mainly because the theme answers just aren't that interesting. I run through these anagrams in my head virtually every day as I depart the woods where I walk my dogs. For some reason, in that context, the little STOP sign at the exit of the parking lot really stands out, and I often think of all the words that can be made out of it. Never thought to make a theme out of them. Here's the one thing I really, truly don't understand: POTS OF MONEY? That's your theme answer for POTS? I've never heard that expression in my life. Is it even an expression? Wow, I see that it is an idiom. It's perhaps the stupidest idiom I've seen in a good long while. It appears to mean LOTS of money. But instead of LOTS, you get ... POTS. This theme answers clearly should have been POTS AND PANS. The fill seemed mostly OK, though there were a few weak spots (SSTAR x/w EER? ([Astronomical red giant] + [Suffix with slogan]) FUM?). No trouble SPOTs for me except at 51D: Wrap around, where I wanted many different answers before I finally settled on ENFOLD (ENROBE ... ENCASE ...)

I think my favorite part of the grid is ROSSINI (46D: "William Tell" composer) alongside VIOLIN (50D: Isaac Stern's instrument). I also like the ridiculous orgy of "toper" clues — FLASK (4D: Toper's back-pocket item), DIPSO, and BARTAB (9D: Toper's expense). As with much boozing slang, I learned TOPER from xwords.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Is ranked #1 (TOPS THE LIST)
  • 30A: Sign on a construction fence (POST NO BILLS)
  • 39A: Brief visit along the way (STOP OFF)
  • 42A: Declines to participate (OPTS OUT)
  • 48A: Dry cleaner's fluid (SPOT REMOVER)
  • 59A: Megabucks (POTS OF MONEY)
Bullets:
  • 5A: Yankees' "$275 million man," informally (A-ROD) — I used to hate him a lot more than I do now. Back when he slapped at Bronson Arroyo, or when Varitek hit him in the face. Good times. Mostly I just try not think about him now. No one can say he's not a great player.
  • 24A: Climate-change protocol city (KYOTO) — "The most notable non-party to the Protocol is the United States..." (wikipedia)
  • 2D: Folkie who sang of Alice (ARLO) — Really dislike the word "Folkie," though I'm sure it was common, once. Still, it sounds like a derogatory word. Like "Commie" or "Bushie."
  • 43D: Rhythmic humming sound (THRUM) — what a cool word. I never see or hear it, but it's at least vaguely familiar. The word even sounds like what it means. Rhythmic + Hum = THRUM. Cool.
  • 40D: Corleone who broke Michael's heart (FREDO) — "Godfather II"

  • 10D: Weezer's music genre (EMO) — Me: "That's not right." Googled [weezer emo]. Top results are mostly denials that the band is EMO. Which means clearly it's out there as an idea, but I have one of their albums, and EMO doesn't fit. But acc. to wikipedia: "A cornerstone of mid-1990s emo was Weezer's 1996 album Pinkerton." Seems their music changed to a more power-pop sound around 2000, which is roughly when this song's from:


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

77 comments:

D_Blackwell 12:28 AM  

This was nice. I like the little amagrammy ones okay. Like yesterday, it's really a themeless for me and I'm fine with that.

I would have much preferred POTS AND PANS. The grid is choked down pretty good, so I would think it doable. I wonder at what point the entry was 'fixed'? I've never heard of the POTS OF MONEY, but it has a high Google score.

A Tuesday record for me, and it didn't feel that fast. (Fast being relative - a pitiful poor 7:15) I burned seconds coming and going from 22D with TRAMP to STAMP to STOMP.

The gratuitous, alcohol abuse cluing at 4D, 9D, 26D,and 56A was an interesting choice. If you're going to go down that alley, littered with shards of broken bottles, reeking with the stench of beer and piss, the office of a runaway taking a smoke break by the dumpster, then might as well clue 28D to it as well. The NYT breakfast table always includes a fully stocked bar.

Anonymous 12:36 AM  

Wrong, Rex. POTS AND PANS is boring. POTS OF MONEY is fun and lively. It's a Britishism but it's reasonably common on these shores too. For me, the constructor made absolutely the right choice.

andrea teetotaler michaels 12:59 AM  

Six theme entries on a Tuesday!
I thought it was great...and the whole bar scene: DIPSO, ONTAP, FLASK, BARTAB, JAG was really sort of funny!

I'm surprised he didn't define 2D as "Woody's drunken boy" or AROD as Madonna's/Cameron's/Kate's (or whoever he is with these days) drinking buddy! That would have been funny!

I liked the double theme-iness of this and am surprised that Rex didn't dig it, seeing how often he refers to being tipsy, etc.

And...it's an X short of a pangram!
(I imagine the X's were implied as the cartoon eyes of the toper passed out in the bar, face down on his half finished crossword)

retired_chemist 1:01 AM  

Meh.

I looked over the puzzle twice to see if I wanted to comment on anything.

Nope.

SethG 1:05 AM  

The theme is fine, though I've seen it before. POTS OF MONEY is not fun and is not lively. I'm unfamiliar, but I'll buy that it may be reasonably common. POTSTICKERS would be fun, but you'd need to change the others to span words as well. I just found the toper stuff distracting. And I'm not a big fan of PEAS. (Not the answer, just the food.)

Weezer's lead singer is Rivers CUOMO.

Clark 1:06 AM  

POTS OF MONEY is familiar to me, though not particularly exciting. @Rex, your calling it "perhaps the stupidest idiom I've seen in a good long while" just touched my funny bone. I feel myself rising to a new plane of understanding the blog -- like the moment during a performance of Samuel Barber's Vanessa when I suddenly understood why that lady up on the stage was wailing, and from that moment on, I got it.

Dan 6:13 AM  

Aw, no Airplane! clip in honor of the late Leslie Nielsen? "Surely you ____" (56D) can't be serious?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0A5t5_O8hdA

joho 8:06 AM  

This seemed easier to me than yesterday's and not as interesting but I liked it way better than @Rex. I do agree that POTSOFMONEY didn't seem "in the language" to me but @anon 12:36 has advised us it's British term which means it's probably common to many.

I'm with @andrea teetotler that six theme answers is impressive. The funniest takeaway from this puzzle is the image of the passed out DIPSO with X's for eyes!

If TSAR had been plural it would have been an anagram for SSTAR which means nothing and doesn't in any way improve that answer.

KooKooKaChoo 8:12 AM  

Fi fi fo fum...I liked the folklore/folkie minitheme (lamp, arlo, doc). Didn't like socal. Always forget if the NYT likes czar or tsar or....but didn't take long to work out.

Super easy, I thought. Looking forward to Weds.

(Watched the whole Weezer vid waiting for those sumo guys to deck the skinny boys, but it never happened! Drat.)

SusanMontauk 8:34 AM  

I wanted pots of gold. That I've heard of.

mmorgan 8:40 AM  

I don't disagree with @retired_chemist, but the fact that there were two independent mini-themes/clusters was interesting. And I actually liked the fact that there was no "giveaway" clue for the OPTS anagrams. Never heard of a 'Toper' but it was clear enough what it meant. (28A: ONTAP could have been part of that cluster as well.)

KAMA HONDA has a nice ring to it.

efrex 8:41 AM  

Totally missed the "Opts out" theme. Had ANYHOW for ANYHOO (loathe that expression), but no other writeovers. POTS OF MONEY rings a bell in my mind: not thrilling, but acceptable. With the exception of SSTAR, I hought the fill was very well-balanced, with a nice mix of cultural references. THRUM and DIPSO are fun words to say out loud.

Between "Toper" this week, and SNOZZLED a couple of weeks back, I apparently have to hang out with more highfalutin' drinkers.

mmorgan 8:43 AM  

Then again...

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=2e6_1229509435

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

Heard of commie and Bushie, and, unlike Rex, am fond of those terms, but never heard of folkie; however, have heard of folksie and the wife spells her name Judie....

John V 8:47 AM  

Agree with @retired_chemist: not much to say here. Very easy for a Tuesday. Saw the theme as anagrams, but didn't catch opts out as its root.

@Rex, don't recall Varitek hitting A-Rod in the face; do recall Varitek shoving Posada in the face, though.

David L 8:58 AM  

POTSOFMONEY is not unfamiliar to me... Kind of a dull puzzle overall, despite the secondary booze theme.

One quibble: "Coming up" = ONTAP doesn't seem right to me. I think of ONTAP as meaning available, ready and waiting, etc, but without any implication that the thing on tap will actually be used. There if you need it but not necessarily coming up.

jesser 9:11 AM  

DIPSO? Never heard this term, although I've arguably been one for some time.

I love OCELOTS and GATOs.

Never saw the theme until OFL pointed it out. Gracias, el jefe!

No time for more. Glad to be back after a fabulous holidat hiatus!

Nolyi! (The way a DIPSO tries to convince you he's sincere) -- jesser

Tinbeni 9:15 AM  

FUN !!!

I looked over the puzzle and thought I had a FUN time solving it.

A toast to all at Sunset.

Cheers!!!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:35 AM  

One puzzle, two themes, no complaints: OK Tuesday.

OldCarFudd 9:40 AM  

Pleasant, especially with two themes. My mother was a child refugee from Belgium to England in WWI, and grew up speaking the King's English. She used "pots of money" a lot.

coers - What jesser and tenbeni are forced to drink when they can't get real beer

PlantieBea 9:45 AM  

An easy Tuesday. The greatest obstacle was trying to figure out the main theme; glad it wasn't spelled out.

Indigo dye used to be made from the natural source of indigo plants. We have remnants of old indigo plantations down here on the east coast of semi-tropical Florida. Part of the processing involved dissolving the finicky dye in vats of barrels of old urine. That had to be a tough business in the heat!

PuzzleNut 9:51 AM  

Hats off to Rex for his interesting early-week comments. Like many other posters, I have a hard time coming up with anything to add, so I normally just lurk until later in the week.

I was worried, but then Rex 10:00 AM  

...Didn't care much for this one, mainly because the theme answers just aren't that interesting.

... POTS OF MONEY? That's your theme answer for POTS? I've never heard that expression in my life. ... It's perhaps the stupidest idiom I've seen in a good long while.

...Really dislike the word "Folkie," though I'm sure it was common, once. Still, it sounds like a derogatory word. Like "Commie" or "Bushie."

After [pretty much] liking yesterday's, Welcome Back, Rex!

P>G>

fikink 10:01 AM  

@Clark, I love your meditation on Rex's sandbox. It wonderfully led me to an article on Barber's relationship with Menotti, of which I was unaware. Another reason I read Rex daily.

@David L, I agree with your sense of ON TAP and am wondering if the whole idea of "coming up" derived from TV anchors telling us what not to miss after the break.

@jesser, "Noly" - LOL!

Yes, agree with @retired_chem, @BobK and PuzzleNut: this puzzle is pretty bland. Off to get my buzz from BEQ.

Barry 10:02 AM  

Me at 10:30pm, 20 minutes after solving. "Hm, I wonder what the theme was? Oh, anagrams of STOP. Either the English language, or my personal voice, is inadequate in expressing disinterest, because I cannot fully express my disinterest in anagrams. At least he seemed to have gotten all of the possible anagrams in there. I could check I guess, but reference my disinterst. It's probably technical plus that he got all the anagrams in, in some minds."

Van55 10:04 AM  

Wow, I couldn't disagree more with Rex and the rest of the naysayers about this puzzle. Once I got past ARLO, I grinned through the rest of the solve. Loved the DIPSO mini-theme. Loved THRUM and ANYHOO. Enjoyed the POTS anagrams. I thought this was one of the best Tuesday puzzles of the year.

No objection whatsoever to POTSOFMONEY. No idea how an idiom is judged to be "stupid" or not. In this case, the idiom aptly paints a mental picture of "filthy richness."

Matthew G. 10:05 AM  

I liked this one well enough -- like D Blackwell, I thought it played more or less as a themeless. Two straight days now where I didn't really notice the theme at all until after I was done.

I did the down clues first, for the most part, so I had it in my head that the "toper" clues were the theme (and in a sense, it's hard to argue that they aren't at least a second theme). Didn't know the word "toper," but it was easy to figure out from context. Thought 28D (ON TAP, clued as "Coming up") ought to have been clued with a toper clue too, so there'd be four.

Never heard anyone say POTS OF MONEY, but it's merely limp, not unacceptable. Didn't know RUR, which is frustrating because I actually _did_ know that the word "robot" came from a Czech play, but I couldn't remember the name of the play. Now I see that RUR stands for "Rossum's Universal Robots," which makes the crossing of RUR with ROSSINI kind of nice.

Never heard of an Ulster COAT. Neat. Obviously was expecting some sort of reference to Ireland with that clue, so I enjoyed the misdirection.

I, too, hate it when people (usually annoyingly officious people) say "ANYHOO," which is exactly what made the clue and answer perfect here.

So I didn't really have much use for the theme, but it didn't impede the puzzle either, and on balance there was enough other good stuff in the grid that I liked this one for a Tuesday.

However, I would add that I had the same reaction as Rex to the Weezer clue. The reason it doesn't work is that only the second of Weezer's eight albums, "Pinkerton," can really be called EMO, and Rivers Cuomo has more or less disavowed that album as a mistake in the band's direction. I don't think one emo album out of eight releases qualifies it as the band's genre.

quilter1 10:06 AM  

It was OK, easy but dull. Liked the secondary drinking theme. Knew DIPSO and toper. I'm going to go and bake now.

Jim 10:14 AM  

JohnV:

Pretty certain it was that Sat afternoon game in July 04 at Fenway, just before the Sox traded Nomar, when Bill Mueller hit that extra-inning (11th, maybe?) Homerun off Rivera to win the game and begin to turn the season around. Anyway, earlier in the game there was a brawl, though I can't remember what prompted it, but Varitek stuck his meaty, cowhide-enveloped paw right in A-Rod's mug. As you can tell, pretty special moment in a beautiful season for us Sox fans. Don't recall anything similar with Fievel (i.e., Posada).

About the puzzle, meh. Tuesday DEFINITELY has a pervasive theme, which I have come not to like: mostly easy, but the difficult things, such as they are, are mildly infuriating and intended to be so.

THRUM...SSTAR,RUR, and, finally, POSTNOBILLS? What is THAT? Not saying it doesn't exist, but I can think of at least 200 signs more common at a construction site, on a fence or no.

If a Britishism we prefer, then I must say I've always preferred gobsOFMONEY. Doesn't fit the theme, I know, but it's evocative.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

You think Andrew Cuomo and Rivers Cuomo are related?

Two Ponies 10:35 AM  

I'm in the mood for Happy Hour!
I liked this one just fine.
A few interesting words and the whole thing works as a themeless if you want to ignore the anagrams.
Carrots again?
My only speed bump was misreading whip-cracker as whipper-snapper.
I just needed to slow down.
I haven't seen Post No Bills lately but I seem to remember it from old cartoons.
@ Dan, Good one. Don't call me Shirley. Adios Leslie Nielsen.
You will be missed.

William Forsythe Posters 10:35 AM  

@Jim - What I really HATE is that version of the sign which reads "Bill Posters Will Be Prosecuted."

Mel Ott 10:38 AM  

Not much to say......

Thought the drunken subtheme was more interesting than the main theme.

Jim 10:39 AM  

Oh, and about Herr Nielsen:

Wonderful, and ageless, comic actor (one of the ancillary benefits at going prematurely white: see Steve Martin). While I love the Airplane movies, the Naked Gun was more in my generation's wheelhouse. "Hey! It's Enrico Pallazzo!"

Didn't know he was in the Poseidon Adventure. Hmmm. Almost rather not have known that.

chefbea 10:42 AM  

Easy Tuesday. Liked the secondary drinking theme.

@Quilter - yes it's time to start the xmas baking. Yummm

balto 10:59 AM  

I thought I wouldn't like it because I don't know Toper -- I thought for sure I would have to cheat (google or seed answers from Rex), which I almost never do on Tuesdays. But I got what I needed with crosses (realizing at some point that Toper was a drinker) -- and was able to finish on my own, which made it a slower by successful Tuesday for me.

Two Ponies 11:01 AM  

In my amusement by the tipsy sub-theme I almost forgot my rant.
I really hate the Californication of Las Vegas and all of those stupid So Cal decals on cars.
In protest I have one that says
So Cal
So What?

Van55 11:02 AM  

BTW -- 21 proper names today by my count.

mitchs 11:21 AM  

POSTNOBILLS rang more falsely to me than POTSOFMONEY.

What the heck does it mean?

archaeoprof 11:46 AM  

I liked it, especially the drinking sub-theme.

Besides, any puzzle that references "Godfather II" is just fine with me. It's my all-time favorite film. Thanks for the clip, Rex!

Odile 11:46 AM  

I kind of liked the relation between the two themes---since STOP is exactly what everyone wishes a TOPER would do.

@David L. re: ON TAP---I'm not sure where it comes from, but "on tap" is used to mean "coming up". For example, the teenaged cousin helping me wash Thanksgiving dishes this year pointed to two platters and said "ok, this one's next, and then this one is on tap."

Matthew G. 11:51 AM  

@Mitchs:

POST NO BILLS is a sign very commonly seen on construction fences and scaffoldings in urban areas, where people tend to cover every square inch with flyers (also known as "bills") unless deterred from doing so. If you walk around New York City, for example, you will see many a blue wooden construction fence with POST NO BILLS spraypainted on with white stenciled letters.

Nothing odd about that entry at all. It was actually my favorite of the theme entries today.

Stan 11:52 AM  

Intended to comment on Weezer's genre but Rex and @Matthew G. have it covered. Missed CUOMO in the puzzle: Good catch, @SethG.

I'm with those who liked this more for the lively clues than the (perfectly adequate) theme.

Odette 11:52 AM  

@Odile - And by on tap he meant that it was there, ready to be used if necessary. In the specific case where you have a finite, discrete things on tap, they by necessity are coming up, but that's not what on tap means.

ArtLvr 11:59 AM  

I was making a shopping theme from the ends of the theme phrases! First the LIST, upcoming BILLS, needing MONEY, then being OFF budget, OVER my limits and OUT of cash!

Oh dear, Xmas phobia! Can I just get all the adults a bottle of wine?

∑;(

Sparky 12:03 PM  

I thought anagrams of stop. Why pick OPTS OUT as the guide? All the drinking all the time a bit icky. Toper old timey word like trencherman.

Also thought of Leslie Nielsen at 56D. Nothing special, but a pleasant start to the week.

JaxInL.A. 12:12 PM  

I'm with @Van55 on this one. Like it just fine, especially the clever cluing, though I am 100% positive that I have seen this exact theme in the past. Subtheme was fun, some unusual fill, what's not to like? I think it's a wrong side of the bed issue.

@Mitchs: the things that people stand on the corner trying to hand out are called hand bills. The loose, single sheets can be about anything including politics, but handbills are usually advertising. Temporary construction fences can be tempting targets and sometimes you will see one wallpapered with hand bills pasted over the entire surface.

So today gives us Rex's unique perspective, pop culture observation from @SethG (I know nothing of Weezer or Cuomo... Well I do now), insight and wit from @Clark and @AndreaTM, and a botanical lesson from @PlantieBea. Good day.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

It seems to me to be pretty obvious that there is just ONE theme, and our happy toper can't see straightas he staggers along and stop looks like .... Fun puzzle.

SethG 12:17 PM  

From today's paper: "Also on tap for the president: a meeting with Nobel laureates."

Earlier this week, from an article about Lindsey Vonn: "She quickly made amends the following weekend, winning two downhills and finishing second in a super-G at Lake Louise. Her highly impressive showing in Canada propelled her into the overall lead past Riesch, one she would not relinquish. The same five race disciplines — a giant slalom, slalom, two downhills and a super-G — are on tap over the coming weekends."

"It was clearly a poor effort from Eastern Washington University, which could use a victory in this one with Gonzaga next on tap."

These do not mean the laureates or the races or Gonzaga are ready to be used if necessary. They mean they're coming up.

quilter1 12:17 PM  

@chefbea, I'm actually baking for tomorrow. Every week I make the desserts for my church's noon concert/lunch. Today I made classic lemon bars and an orange scented oatmeal cookie with walnuts and dried cranberries--just took the last batch out. Pretty uptown for an oatmeal cookie.

Tinbeni 12:23 PM  

@chefbea
It just goes to show how different people have a different take on a puzzle ... and "so-called" themes.

I thought "Drinking" was the MAIN theme ... though you'll NEVER catch me drinkin' that AQUA.

'nough said.

Cheers !!!

Shamik 12:29 PM  

Easy-medium meh Tuesday puzzle. Solved correctly. But where is Mr. Happy Pencil? I only got a box saying the puzzle was solved correctly....without a Happy Pencil in it! Sitting around with my foot in the air for 3-1/2 weeks now....don't take away the Happy Pencil. Harrumph.

fikink 12:33 PM  

@SethG, I think you might have confirmed that the change in the meaning of ON TAP - or at least the broadening of it - did come from the media, as so much of our language has changed. Who thirty years ago would have used "defense" as a verb had it not been in the sports media. And just the other day it was in a NYT puzzle.

JaxInL.A. 12:36 PM  

By the way, thanks for yesterday's offer of recipes, @ChefBea. We have a surfeit of stuffing for reasons that are a little unclear to me. Multiple suppliers, mostly. Any suggestions? 

Other problems: salad and succotash. The rest got frozen. 

And Hanukkah starts Friday. Oy!

Really enjoyed discovering Liz Gorski's blog, which has loads of food references while talking about xwords, for some reason.

Rube 12:37 PM  

Learned RUR and Karel Capek from xwords about a year ago, but did not know that this was the first use of the term "robot" until now. (Wikipedia goes into all the details.)

Constructionwise did not like how the top and bottom halves were only connected by two words. Do not like the ostenatious ANYHOO. (Like most, I'll bet, had ANYHOw at first -- only writeover.) Too many 4 & 5 letter words. OCELOTS and ROSSINI are the only highlights.

I'd give it a C-, saved only by RUR.

Stephen 12:49 PM  

POTS OF MONEY: I've used that for decades. (Does my Canadian childhood explain that?)
DIPSO: never heard of it.
THRUM: oddly not raising my ire, but don't think I've ever heard it.
SSTAR: yukk. If you let this kind of arcane jargon into crosswords, you will really kill all the fun.
RUR: obscrure!
POST NO BILLS: it means "don't stick your posters up on my wall".
ON TAP: does not mean "coming up". (emerging errors notwithstanding, SethG) See http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/on+tap and several others. Maybe the cluer and SethG's misusers were thinking of "on deck"?
COAT: you gotcha'd me.
TOPER: never heard the word. That left POTS of clues rather meaningless!
WEEZER: never heard of it/them. And after watching the video, I believe most of us haven't.
ANYHOO, I finished. I passed the time. I going to do something useful now.

Andy 1:06 PM  

I actually lean toward thinking there were ELEVEN theme answers in this puzzle, because of the TOP in all the TOPer clues. I figured the theme was "mixed-up drunk" which tied the two themes together for me.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

Stephen, doesn't your link define "what's on tap for today?" as "What is on the schedule for today?; What is going to happen today?"?

And isn't one of the definitions of on tap in Merriam-Webster "coming up <other matches on tap - H.W. Wind>"?

syndy 1:22 PM  

Never heard of Weezer-thought i was being told i was older than dirt-so was pleased to find different.Also did not see the theme-a good thing i think

Matthew G. 2:17 PM  

@Stephen:

I'd wager that any solver under 40 has not only heard of Weezer, but, at a minimum, knows their first hit single "Buddy Holly" essentially by heart (Chorus: "Ooo wee ooo I look just like Buddy Holly / Oh oh, and you're Mary Tyler Moore / I don't care what they say about us anyway / I don't care about that."). That self-titled debut album, which also featured the well-known "Sweater Song" (Chorus: "If you want to destroy my sweater / pull this thread as I walk away"), went triple-platinum.

The video Rex posted, by contrast, is not one of their better-known songs.

Chris 2:46 PM  

Hash Pipe is definitely one of their better-known songs. It was the first, and biggest, single off the Green Album.

Van55 3:14 PM  

@Stephen -- RUR has appeared as an answer in the NYT crossword puzzle 52 times since 1994. It's hardly "obscure" as a puzzle answer. You should remember it for your solving future. It is a 1921 play by Capek about man vs. robots.

sanfranman59 3:31 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)

Tue 8:16, 8:56, 0.93, 36%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:32, 4:36, 0.99, 49%, Medium

Stephen 3:35 PM  

Thanks for the research Van55. I will take the advice to remember this crosswordese arcania.
I did not label the word as "obscure", however. Look again if you want a lame joke.

Anonymous 4:02 PM  

Stephen -- I'm shocked at your lack of familiarity with RUR! If Van55 is correct, let's say there are 365 puzzles times 15 years, which equals 5,475. If we divide that into 52 times, that means that since 1994 RUR has appeared 949772%, or less than 1% of the time. How can you call that obscure!?

Evgeny 4:08 PM  

Stephen: "WEEZER: never heard of it/them. And after watching the video, I believe most of us haven't."

Who is "us"? Although probably a vast majority of people my age know Weezer, i can imagine how some who are from, uhm, an other generation may have not been aware of them. However, to say "most of us haven't"... no.

Much more shocking was to see how a lot of those who commented on yesterday's puzzle never have heard of Cream, Queen or even all four bands. I mean Cream broke up 16 years before I was born and I still think they're pretty common knowledge, so it's not an age thing. is it possible that pop/rock music is the Achilles’ heel of many a nyt-puzzle solver?

Lurker0 4:18 PM  

Late from the Left Coast as always, so the good stuff has already been written and read.

So off-topic:

---

@JaxinL.A. said...

And Hanukkah starts Friday. Oy!

---

Actually Thursday. Yay!

Actually Wednesday night, with the lighting of 1 candle. On December 1. Count up from there. And it's far enough from Christmas to avoid a lot of the annual December Dilemma.

More off-topic stuff (non-sports people stop here):

Good news (of a sort): Cal Bears' deeply disappointing football season is finally over at 5-7, without a bowl bid for the first time since 2002.

Bad news (perhaps): Cal Bears' basketball season is beginning. The team scored five points (5!) in the first half of a tournament final vs Notre Dame last week, on 2 for 25 shooting. It's hard to go down from there.

Larry, the ever-hoping always-lurking Bear

George NYC 4:36 PM  

Rockefeller Center tree-lighting ceremony is tonight. Didn't I read somewhere recently that it was the first Wednesday after Thanksgiving?
Just sayin'.

Sfingi 5:22 PM  

I never noticed the anangram until I read Rex. Yet the puzzle was quick and easy.

I'm so glad that our NYT carrier, Wolfe News set aside yesterday's for me. Their truck broke down and several counties didn't get delivery. A Mr. Huckabee gets my special thanks.

I agree topers (drunks - it's also a Polish Surname) was the real theme. The mini-theme was stars.

I'm so old, I thought Weezer meant me! As a War Baby I might be one, but I've just barely heard of them, and only knew EMO from CWs.

@rex - I associate THRUM with crickets. If they didn't spend all night doing that, they could keep up with the ants.

@Dan - don't call me Shirley, Weezer, or late for dinner.

Anonymous 5:27 PM  

Cute puzzle, fun to solve. POTS OF MONEY = fine with me, too. In any case, the entry POTS AND PANS was used when this theme ran in 2002, about a week short of eight years ago, (minus OPTS). Statute of limitations may apply, as long as there are no repeated theme entries.

It's almost cocktail hour.

Rube 5:58 PM  

@Evgeny: I think that if you were to take a poll you would find that many of us on this blog are of a "certain age". There are even some of us who think the demise of Swing was the end of "civilized" pop music. I personally was in my teens during the "Great Music Transition" from Big Bands to Rock & Roll.

So, I ask you, do you really believe that someone who grew up listening to the Dorsey Brothers and then Buddy Holly or the Beatles could make another transition to KISS? To many of us, current pop music is so much noise. I might further add that my 30ish kids, and many of their friends, are quite familiar with "Classic" R & R from the late 50s, 60s, & early 70s, and find music from that era much more enjoyable then much current "pop".

In summary, whether it's "most" or "many", it's more than a few of us who know current pop bands/singers/performers primarily from Xwords, (or progeny), (or scandals in the newspaper), (or drug related deaths).

IMO.

CrazyCatLady 9:16 PM  

Not much left to say except I've never heard of a toper or a dipso. Pots of Money I have heard before. The Weezer video was disturbing.
@Two Ponies if you live in Southern California,it's just a lot easier to say SoCal. It's weird though, I've lived just outside LA for 19 years and I've never seen a SoCal decal. Haven't been to Las Vegas in over 10 years. The last time I was there I stayed at NY, NY. They probably sell SoHo decals.

ksquare 9:55 PM  

ROBOT is from the Russian or Slavic word RABOTA (WORK) or RABOCHEE (WORKER), and was probably first used in the play RUR.
The graffiti "artist" who encountered the POST NO BILLS sign must have thought the wall or fence belonged to Postno Bill!

Jake 12:00 PM  

Yesterday's Jeopardy! also used the word "folkie" in a clue for Arlo Guthrie.

Joe 4:08 PM  

Never heard TOPER before. Ever.
Didn't like some of the cluing, as others have commented.
DIPSO? What is this, the 1930s?
How many had BOWS OUT at first instead of OPTS OUT?

Not Such An Old Biddy 2:04 PM  

@Rube
I grew up listening to Buddy Holly too, in fact I was 17 when he died (I'm from Austin, by the way...he was practically local). In my late 20's, I hated current pop music...really atonal, in my opinion too much screaming and not enough melody...not much interesting to listen to or enjoy.
Upon reflection, I found out just how wrong I was. In 1970, I turned 28 years old...I had completely missed the Beatles because I didn't like "todays pop music".
I guess I would encourage you to explore the world of 'Today's Music' with more of an open mind. I was lucky enough to have married a man much younger than myself in 1973, and he completely turned my mind around about the music that I had ignored for years. Not just the Beatles and the British Invasion, but Sixties Soul and West Coast Jazz and Blues and so much more.

I'd be willing to bet that I am the only crossword doing, Rex Parker-commenting, Great-Grandmother who has been to a Wheezer show. I saw RUN-DMC with one of my grandsons in 1987...I saw Pearl Jam with another in 1993.

I learned through my dear late husband that noise is in the ear of the beholder. Just because the guitar got louder does not mean that the music got bad. One of my good friends (my own age) lived in New York in the 1950's and loved the Music of John Cage. Had I met her in 1958, I would have denied that what she was listening to is Music. Today, while it is not my cup of tea, you would have trouble convincing me that it is NOT music.

Give todays pop music a try. Some of it is OUTSTANDING...better even than Buddy Holly. If you happen to be in Chicago this summer, join me at the Concert in the Park. Two years ago I saw a band from Australia called the John Butler Trio. Tommy Dorsey would love him.

NotalwaysrightBill 2:45 PM  

Syndicated paper solver.

Vast void between a drunk's world and those commenting on it from outside. Drunks used FLASKs during Prohibition, according to period movies, but they're not serious props of the -ism today. Toper and dipsomaniac may be nice rehab and academic terms, but alcoholics in their cups definitely don't use them self-referentially. Even DIPSO: a little too Greeky Cum LAUDE for a drunk and the anagram OD PIS is neither ODD enough nor has enough SSSSSSS to it; might as well spell it PSOT.

THRUM was my friend's biggest criticism of my birthday poem of a dozen years ago, come four days. He didn't like it; but, like Rex, I do and did, so I kept it in.

Forty-five winters forth from the womb
And the solar year's spiral's still spinnin',
Inexorably keeping a date with a tomb;
So say, just what was and who's winnin'?

Spawning successive replicate helixes
Must be the horselaugh galactical,
And one's individual efforts to prefix
Through time his memorial AREN'T practical.

Still, "Ramming speed!," cants the pulse of the scrum
With "The rent's due!" and "High waters come!,"
And perhaps even death cannot silence that drum
'Til we're mad from its throbbing and THRUM.

"Come apart and rest awhile,"
Spoke the Master with a smile.

Post no SPOTREMOVER.

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