Minor despot / MON 1-10-11 / Scottish hillside / Highway route through Whitehorse Yukon / Ancient Asia Minor region

Monday, January 10, 2011

Constructor: James Tuttle

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: Follow THE BOUNCING BALL — two 13-letter answers (KARAOKE SCREEN, PING PONG TABLE) are clued as places "to follow the object named in the circled letters"—circled letters spell out THE BOUNCING BALL, and form a series of arcs that looks vaguely like the path of said ball

Word of the Day: SATRAP (52D: Minor despot) —

Satrap (Persian: ساتراپ) was the name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid (Persian) Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires. // The word satrap is also often used in modern literature to refer to world leaders or governors who are heavily influenced by larger world superpowers or hegemonies and act as their surrogates. (wikipedia)

• • •

[It's pledge week here at the Rex Parker site (thru Sat.) —read my pitch for donations in the opening paragraphs of Sunday's write-up, here ... and thanks for your faithful readership (and the many kind messages I've received so far)]


This one played out like a slightly toughish Tuesday or a very easy Wednesday puzzle. Quick glance at the early times at the NYT puzzle site suggests that I wasn't alone in taking longer than usual. You don't normally see gimmick puzzles like this on a Monday, and it's possible that the gimmick (specifically, getting the bouncing ball pattern to work out), forced the fill into somewhat tougher-than-usual territory—and yet there's not really much in the way of non-Monday fill here. SATRAP, sure, and maybe ALCAN (40A: ___ Highway (route through Whitehorse, Yukon)), and maybe (depending on your purchase on popular culture) THE SIMS (49A: Computer game with virtual people). But everything else seems easy. The cluing seemed vaguer or tougher than usual. But then again I started by falling flat on my face with SERBS for SLAVS (1A: Many Eastern Europeans), which I erased after I realized that Pierre's state had to be ÉTAT at 1D: Pierre's state: Abbr. (S. DAK.) (I just ignored that "Abbr." notation, apparently). So I was way behind before I ever left the gate. But elsewhere, PICNIC ... what? Needed crosses to see AREA (11D: Outdoor eating place where you might lay a blanket). Couldn't remember SANTANA despite how massive that 1999 album was (29A: Artist whose 1999 hit "Smooth" was #1 for 12 weeks). GEEKS for TECHS (31D: Computer whizzes). No hope for IONIA on first pass (44A: Ancient Asia Minor region). Tough to get to HOG TIE from the vague clue 50D: Immobilize. SATRAP is a word I know, but certainly didn't get straight away from the clue 52D: Minor despot. All of this made for a time in the high 3s, Very high for a Monday.

[Warning: there's some profanity in here]

As for the theme, it's cute, but supremely thin (even counting the circled letters). As for KARAOKE SCREENs (odd phrase, not nearly as in-the-language as, say, KARAOKE BAR) ... do their balls bounce that way? That is, does the height of the ball change as much as it does in this grid's rendering? Just a question, not a criticism of the concept. Pics I'm seeing online feature text that changes color, not text with a bouncing ball. Never having participated in KARAOKE, I can't comment on the finer points of the tech involved. This puzzle feels a bit like editorial kissing-up, as Will Shortz is well known as a PING PONG enthusiast (not just in a rec room kind of way—he competes at a pretty high level, as I understand it). At any rate, it's nice to have a gimmick puzzle to shake things up on a Monday. Wasn't crazy about it, but it's at least far more memorable than a lot of early-week fare.

  • 6A: Air passage (DUCT) — botched this one too. Had VENT.
  • 24A: Hannibal ___, vice president under Abraham Lincoln (HAMLIN) — brain went immediately to LECTER. That's a mildly tough trivia clue. Pied piper clue deemed too remedial, Harry HAMLIN clue deemed too dated, apparently.
  • 54A: Old-fashioned paper copies (DITTOS) — whoa, I don't think I've seen or heard that word since elementary school.
  • 60D: WXY, on a phone (NINE) — my favorite number! And it's a telephone keypad clue?! Ted Williams is rolling over in his grave.
[Number nine ... Number nine ...]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


foodie 12:10 AM  

Rex, I agree with your rating (as does my Quick & Dirty Index).

I think part of the problem was that the theme was useless in solving. The circled letters are over a big part of the grid and one had to solve a big part of the puzzle before it could be deciphered-- and that would in itself be time consuming. This in addition to the words you noted that are not standard Monday fare.

What I liked was the path of the ball where the magnitude of the bounce decreased from left to right.

PESKY is one of my favorite words- the sound of it evokes exactly that feeling of annoyance.

34A 12:19 AM  

Every single thing that Rex said!
Every mistake he made! Every thought, (except I knew Santana, but was trying to think of the Matchbox40 guys' name, Rob? it seems equally/if not more his song...and of course the whole #9 thing)
Someone donate to his paypal for me!

n.t. 12:28 AM  

A friend and I tackled this in 2:40 - didn't seem that hard. Why do I never see DAMON clued as "Outfielder Johnny"?

Anonymous 12:42 AM  

I feel like I am at a movie theater with a warm-up, watching the boucing ball as we all sing along....

You never know about Mondays because they are the beginning of something new....

Go Bears

chefwen 12:45 AM  

I thought maybe I was just numb after that heart stopping, nail biting, Packer victory. Yesssssss!!!
I loved this puzzle but it was a little on the tricky side. No write overs but a lot of thought went into it. Last letter to go in was the S in SANTRAP and THE SIMS, a total guess that turned out to be correct, lucky me!

Excellent way to start the puzzle week.

Falconer 3:35 AM  

That was a tough but interesting Monday. It seems to me that there is an increasing level of difficulty in Mondays over the past couple months.

Hannibal Hamlin was from Maine and ardently against slavery. The first time he met Lincoln was at the inauguration in 1861. He was the VP who has often been quote as having said that the job was like being "the fifth wheel of a carriage." He didn't get along well w/ Mrs. Lincoln, and was marginalized.

In the next election, Lincoln made a surprising choice in Andrew Johnson of Tennessee. Johnson was the only southern senator not to quit when the secession began, and Lincoln made him military governor of "occupied Tennessee."

Hamlin was miffed at not being renominated as veep, but Johnson was seen as the right person to carry on the work of reconstruction once the Civil War ended.

As it turned out he was a weak leader, and most historians agree that the country would have been much better off had Hamlin taken charge after the Lincoln assassination. As it was, Hamlin went on to become a two-term senator from Maine, and the ambassador to Spain, and ended his days in a baronial home in Bangor.

There's a county in South Dakota named after Hamlin; population, 6,000. Hope they all enjoyed this reference in the puzzle.

Rube 4:48 AM  

Thx for the history lesson @Falconer. Always enjoy this kind of comment, particularly since my last letter was the M in the HAMLIN/EMAG cross. Didn't know Jacques TATI either although he may have been in a recent puzzle... (yes, Feb 24,2010). Only writeover was PESKY/PESts.

As is not uncommon on Monday, was 2/3 finished when I looked up and say the finished theme.

Always wanted to drive the ALCAN highway. Maybe one of these days.

Back to the Bay Area tomorrow. Good, enjoyable puzzle.

r.alphbunker 6:00 AM  

HAMLIN was a gimme for me because of a BEQ puzzle contest a while back. The gimmick was the fact that Hamlin's name was contained in Lincoln's, i.e, abraHAM LINcoln.

Don't ping pong balls usually bounce only once? But that is not important. The theme clues can be rewritten as "place to follow a bouncing ball." There no mention of the actual trajectory of the ball.

I bet WS gets lots of ping pong themed puzzles.

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

All smooth, until I was HOBBLED..

OldCarFudd 8:35 AM  

Odd how we all see things differently. I started in the NW as usual, had the BOU of the theme, looked at the circles, and wrote in the rest of the theme. Knew Hamlin, but not Santana or The Sims. Age and interests!

David L 8:39 AM  

Agree that it took a little longer than a typical Monday -- didn't seem particularly tough, but I spent a lot of time bopping around the grid from one place to another, so that my clumsiness with AcrossLite slowed things down.

Having never KARAOKEd, I don't understand where bouncing balls come into it. But since, as usual, I ignored the theme until the end, that didn't matter.

Also, DITTO for a paper copy is new to me. And yes, I am plenty old enough to remember when typed sheets were laboriously copied by means of a variety of stone-age technologies.

Cynthia G 8:45 AM  

TATI crossing OTOS on a Monday? That stumped me.

efrex 8:51 AM  

TATI crossing OTOS and ESPANA did me in on the south. Thought the theme was quite nice, and actually filled in the circled letters about midway through solving, which opened up some of the dicier areas. A few solid fills (PESKY, EMANCIPATE, ECHOED, SPIEL), but a few too many obscure/ crosswordese/ foreign words made this grid feel a bit half-baked. CES, AMOR, AMI, and BRAE all in the same puzzle? TEC on a Monday? (I don't like it any day, but it really has no business being in a Monday or Tuesday puzzle, IMHO). I've never heard of SNOOT as a noun before (managed to see the word length before I started to throw in SNOBS).

On the plus side, fun clues for EDDY and BLTs. C+/B- for Mr. Tuttle

SethG 8:52 AM  

Saw the circles when I started, solved the 13s with crosses, finished in below-average time, and looked back after I'd finished to see what the circles spelled. Made for a weird solving experience.

John V 8:53 AM  

Some unusual across answers, to be sure, but the crosses made a typical Monday, for me. Seeing Karaokescreen, Pingpongtable became obvious. Never even saw Satrap, as that just came with the fill.

John Nance Garner 9:07 AM  

In once-a-week music class in elementary school when the circuit-riding piano-playing music teacher came to Crestview Elementary, one of our favorite songs was always "My Baronial Home in Bangor." That and "Don Gato."

Another thing about Hamlin is he's the only vice president whose name spells out the middle of his president's name (AbraHAMLINcoln). I didn't think that up. Maybe I saw it here or maybe it's a Merl Reagle thing I saw. On historians' lists of great vice presidents, Hamlin usually ranks pretty high, often just behind Gerald Ford and just ahead of Schuyler Colfax. That's esteemed company, vice-presidentially speaking. I made all that up except the orthographic part, which I' pretty sure is a Merl Reagle finding, now I think about it.

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

I agree with Rex that this is a challenging puzzle for a Monday. It took me north of 14 minutes to finish which is more than 5 minutes above my typical time.
Had problem with the "S" in THE SIMS and SATRAP.

The theme is a bit forced and I didn't like the circled letters trick. You chase circled letters that are arranged in a scatter brain pattern. Perhaps a more elegant grid would have been to include THE BOUNCING BALL (15 letters) as a clue in the puzzle itself. But overall cute with not too many trivia based clues.

mmorgan 9:29 AM  

Liked it a lot. Also started with ETAT (also missing the "Abbr."), but no real bumps after that. Always like to see TATI (new animated adaptation coming out by Sylvain Chomet!). Clever way to insert The Bouncing Ball -- and connect it to two long answers -- without making it too obtrusive. Thumbs up, nice happy Monday!

Heading off on vacation for 12 days, no computers, no puzzles. Will make a contribution if I have any money left when I get back.

The Big E 9:31 AM  

Not being an ardent video-gamer as many people of my generation, I initially thought "Sim City," but knew that the answer was likely a different game I couldn't think of - quickly figured out The Sims, but overall I didn't find this to be particularly difficult - I did, however, ignore the theme entirely until finished, as the fill just fell into place.
However, like CHEFWEN, I had just finished watching that awesome Packers-Eagles game, and might have been on a total adrenaline rush!!!

chefbea 9:32 AM  

I agree - hard for a monday. Had several Naticks. Didn't know Slate was an emag. Did'nt know alcan

It's a blizzard here in Wilmington. Hopefully my check will make it to Vestal NY. Oh right...they deliver...neither rain nor snow etc etc

7thecow 9:35 AM  

Had MIMEOS for a while. Brought back memories of hand cranking the machine in grade school-the smelly fluid, the soggy fresh copies. I've been working on a 3-D replicator, inspired by B. Watterson. No real progress.

Doug 9:55 AM  

Hard Monday, for sure. Had a bunch of mark-overs, very unusual. Did feel like a Wednesday. Never did get the theme squares until Rex explained it.

joho 9:56 AM  

The only slow spot for me was at THESIMS/SATRAP, but having a vague memory of the later, the "S" went in pretty quickly.

Fun seeing KARAOKE and PINGPONG in the puzzle and I also liked the circled letters representing THEBOUNCINGBALL.

Thank you, James Tuttle, for an upbeat Monday to start the week!

Lindsay 9:59 AM  

Thanks James Tuttle. The Meow Mix song is now playing on an endless loop in my head.

Sparky 10:08 AM  

Dittos were those wierd purple things, I think. Yuk. Liked the puzzzle but completely buffaloed by "reading left to right." I didn't think vertical columns so had a scrambled bunch of letters. Natick at E-AIL and HA-LIN. We're off to a good start.

Van55 10:18 AM  

I thought as I solved this one that it was a bit on the difficult side for a Monday. I had no writeovers, but I resisted PESKY for mosquitoes as far too harmless. Mosquitoes, to me, are dangerous, not PESKY.

Also had MIMEO[graph]S in my head where DITTOS ended up.

Knew SATRAP immediately from previous puzzles.

Thought NEPALI, HAMLIN, SANTANA, ALCAN and THE SIMS might be offputting for a beginner Monday solver.

I enjoyed it, but agree that the theme is thin.

nanpilla 10:19 AM  

I guess I'm showing my age, but I kept looking for Mitch Miller.

Two Ponies 10:46 AM  

Nice start to the week. A Monday that requires some thought is always welcome. Someone here is solving puzzles with his students. Wonder how this one went with them.
Thanks @ nanpilla, I was trying to remember the singalong TV show.
Hamlin and emancipate in the same grid is a nice touch.
Matt Damon plays a fresh role in True Grit. Great movie.

quilter1 10:56 AM  

I don't time myself but this went down lots faster than usual,so easy rating for me. Stuff I didn't know (THE SIMS, Slate as an EMAG) were taken care of by crosses and lots of stuff was just in my knowledge base. As was mentioned, age and interests. I suspect I knew SATRAP from Maleska era puzzles as I can't recall ever seeing/using it anywhere else. Forecast is for heavy snow today but I'm not seeing it or feeling it in my joints. Fingers crossed!

mac 11:20 AM  

Tough Monday, thank you Mr. Tuttle. The hog tie took a little time with the --gt-- in place. Also wanted Sim City.

I consider Picnic area another theme answer, you are very likely to see a bouncing ball there (or a frisbee).

A propos of nothing, just read this morning that Santana has a shoe line.

archaeoprof 11:33 AM  

Caught in the same blizzard as @ChefBea.

No paper, so I solved with AcrossLite for the first time. Not bad.

Didn't even see the theme til I got here.

@Rex: PESKY and NINE could have been a nice Sox mini-theme.

Matthew G. 11:38 AM  

As Ralph Bunker correctly observes, it was BEQ, not Merl Reagle, who recently put abraHAMLINcoln into a puzzle. I might not have remembered Hannibal HAMLIN for today's puzzle if not for that. It's a fun piece of trivia.

Anyway. This was the hardest NYT Monday I can recall in quite some time. I've been in the middle of an extremely busy couple of weeks, so I've had little time to solve and less time to comment (I still haven't found time to do the Sunday puzzle). Thus, when I found myself going very slowly on today's puzzle, I thought my brain was fried. But no, it's just a hard puzzle.

I made the ETAT-instead-of-SDAK mistake myself. Had CHART instead of GRAPH, PESTS instead of PESKY, and AMA instead of HMO. Finding each of these mistakes drove my time way, way up for a Monday.

And I still finished with an error because I had a Natick at the crossing of TATI and OTOS. Never heard of the former and couldn't remember the latter.

I liked the theme. Although I would point out that these days the vast majority of karaoke machines use the gradual illumination or color-changing of words, not bouncing balls.

It's been a Challenging couple of weeks in Crossworld. I guess Will is planning on a robust 2011.

Wowser 11:51 AM  


On a very good day, with total concentration, I can approach 3:00 from the top.

Since it takes about 2:00 to just fill the grid when yoiu've worked the answers out in advance, I amazed at the 2:40 the TWO of you came up with.

For me, having help would lengthen my best times.

Please share your secret.


Shamik 12:06 PM  

Definitely knew ALCAN since Skagway, AK where we worked last summer is only two hours drive up the South Klondike Hwy to Whitehorse, YT. However, the name is no longer the ALCAN Highway. It's just called the Alaska Highway now. FYI

Agreed it was challenging for a Monday. Good puzzle, though.

Shamik 12:09 PM  

My first karaoke song: "The Banana Boat Song." Don't ask how much alcohol was involved. But I tell you, I was a hit.

Keep my puzzle husband in your thoughts as he's driving from High Point, NC to Cuyahgoga Falls, OH today...driving a bus and towing our pickup. In the snow.

Nowhere to go from here 12:10 PM  

I was particulary struck by the fact that the bouncing ball's amplitude was dampened, finally lying inert and useless at the final L. Seemed a metaphor for my life.

CoffeeLvr 12:11 PM  

Yes, harder than the usual Monday, but I second @Two Ponies, a puzzle requiring some thought is always welcome. Thanks, @Foodie, for mentioning how the placement of the circles mimics the pattern of a bouncing ball. I had only noticed that circles are round like balls.

I think I got @Jesser's Captcha:

jesesse (no kidding!)

Ted Williams 12:15 PM  

Uh, Rex - You know I'm not in a grave, right? My body is in an icebox in New Mexico, my head in one in California. I've got an empty can of cat food stuck to my head. Man, how I wish I were in a grave, this is friggin humiliating.

syndy 12:21 PM  

put in Geek for 31 d then wondered if the alean hwy was anywhere near the alcan! then whined about not having a "c" in bounce until at last the ball dropped! a little slow this morning! great job Mr. Tuttle

Stan 12:53 PM  

I was irked by some of the crosswordy fill (esp. TEC when we've already had TECHS), but in retrospect the VOCAB seems pretty good, really, with surprises like HOGTIE and EMANCIPATE, a Lincoln sub-theme, and a pork products group in SPAM, PATE, BLT.

The path of the bouncing ball looks like the mutual funds in my IRA lately.

@archeoprof: Good catch re: NINE and PESKY. Now if the SLAV had only been a POLE...

william e emba 12:59 PM  

Fooled by Pierre, I solved this puzzle bottom up. In fact, it wasn't until I had SDAK from the crosses that I realized what the clue was about! Nice trick on a Monday. On a Thursday or later, I'd probably think about what Pierre could possibly mean.

I got THE/BOUNCING/BALL off the first three letters. I think for me the puzzle was MEDIUM as a result.

Gimmes included KUALA, HAMLIN, THESIMS (even though I don't play any computer games), ALCAN, even SANTANA off a letter or two.

TATI is both famous and standard crossword fare. OTO or OTOE are common enough. Memorize them.

Only writeovers were I had filled in HBO by mistake for HMO, and AMACO at first for AMOCO.

William 1:23 PM  

Perhaps only NYT puzzle solvers will ever associate "slate" with "emag"

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

Or perhaps major publications will use the term.

fikink 1:46 PM  

@John Nance Garner, very funny, Wade!

@7thecow, with you on MIMEOS.

@Lindsay, meow, too!

@Van55, I, too, think of PESKY as being more annoying and bothersome than dangerous

@Shamik, keeping your puzzle husband in my thoughts. My SIL is trying to fly out of North Carolina today.

This puzzle went pretty smoothly for me, top to bottom. Got to the very middle at ALCAN and could see THE BOUNCING BALL; this allowed me to use the theme to finish, something I always enjoy.
With @TwoPonies and @CoffeeLvr, I appreciate the Monday morning jump=start, Mr. Tuttle. Thanks!

Ulrich 2:31 PM  

Liked the puzzle like many others did, and for the same reasons.

Never having been to a karaoke, let alone participating in one, I absolutely cannot visualize a bouncing ball in this context, and googling a bit for images also produced nothing so far...I hate having these unresolved issues hanging over my head as I go about my business during the day...

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

As Rex illustrated, karaoke does not always "follow the bouncing ball." I never tried it, so I don't know if it sometimes does. But I think you can see what was intended in this video.

Tobias Duncan 3:15 PM  

SATRAP has no place in a Monday puzzle. Every Monday and Tuesday morning I print out a stack of puzzles and pass them out at my local coffee shop.I have gotten a good sized group addicted to early week puzzles and it seems to be growing.I know from experience that SATRAP is going to be a big turn off to this crowd.The Monday puzzle first and foremost is the entry point for new solvers.
I agree with Rex that this is a Tuesday or even an easy Wednesday.It is as though Will just grabbed one from the wrong stack.

Ulrich 3:21 PM  

@anon at 3:01: Thx, yes--that looks about right.

Schuyler 3:35 PM  

John Nance, we sang that song, too! I can't remember much other than the first couple of lines:

Oh, my baronial home in Bangor
Where abalone gets thrown in anger
[Something something an old coat hanger]
Oh, how I miss
My baronial home in Bangor!

I can't find any reference to it on the internet. Did you grow up in an alternate universe, too?

sanfranman59 3:38 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 7:19, 6:55, 1.06, 75%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:55, 3:42, 1.06, 81%, Challenging

acme 3:38 PM  

Wow!!!!!!! That AbraHAM LINcoln seems more than cute trivia, that is astounding and freaky and amazing!!!!!!!

Why does that never come up in the whole Kennedy's secretary was Lincoln and Lincoln's secretary was Kennedy or whatever that thing is????

@Wm e emba
May I go one step further and rather than just telling people to memorize Jacques TATI bec he's frequently in puzzles to actually rent one of his films and learn something for the rest of your life for the puzzle AND get actual pleasure!

And I have to still agree, there were at least ten things in this not usually found in a Monday, but the circled letters mimicking THE BOUNCINGBALL rather than having the phrase THEBOUNCINGBALL read across is 93% more clever, no? And a real feat to have those letters placed the way they were.

First Monday of the month now here at Cafe Royale in SF Beatles karaoke!!! No screen, you have to read the lyrics from a book, or...gasp...know them by heart!!!

andrea awed michaels 3:46 PM  

ps does anyone else have a persistently PESKY vision of a SATRAP trying to golf his way out of a SAndTRAP?

Also, I think it bears repeating just for fun that KARA is "Empty" in Japanese...
So KARA (empty) + TE (hand) = KARATE
and KARA (empty) + OKE (like an abbrev for "Orchestra") = KARAOKE

I will now resume my search for a VP whose last name is DREAMI, but I will settle for REAMICH

Joe 3:53 PM  

I don't get it.
I thought last Thursday's was tough and this one relatively easy--you could get the relatively difficult ones from the fill.

And I'm sick of TEC. Never seen it used in context with a "sleuth." As far az I'm concerned, it can go with EZINE and ENOTE and EFART and the rest of them.

Two Ponies 4:19 PM  

@ Andrea, I also saw Sandtrap!
The bouncing ball was very clever.
Big points for being novel.

chefwen 5:02 PM  

Aloha @Rube, I will try to arrange for a little less rain for your next visit.

Look Up Guy 5:18 PM  

@Tobias Duncan & Others

SATRAP = been in 9 times, most often on Monday (3), Sunday (2) and once each on Wed., Thurs., and Friday.

Has the distribution of an early week word.

Go Figure.

Evgeny 5:41 PM  

pied piper wasn't deemed too remedial, imo... it probably was deemed wrong. He went to HAMeLIN.

Anonymous 6:44 PM  

Rex, Rex, Rex, what are we going to do with the absent-minded professor!? You spend practically a whole column on Saturday complaining about Will not consistently giving an abbreviation for REM and today you say you did not even notice the abbr. in the clue Pierre's state. I, too, first thought of E'tat but even with my bourbon-soaked brain I saw abbr. and immediately switched to SDAK. That's ok, Rex, I still love you....

Go Bears

Anonymous 6:45 PM  

Rex, Rex, Rex, what are we going to do with the absent-minded professor!? You spend practically a whole column on Saturday complaining about Will not consistently giving an abbreviation for REM and today you say you did not even notice the abbr. in the clue Pierre's state. I, too, first thought of E'tat but even with my bourbon-soaked brain I saw abbr. and immediately switched to SDAK. That's ok, Rex, I still love you....

Go Bears

Anonymous 6:45 PM  

Rex, Rex, Rex, what are we going to do with the absent-minded professor!? You spend practically a whole column on Saturday complaining about Will not consistently giving an abbreviation for REM and today you say you did not even notice the abbr. in the clue Pierre's state. I, too, first thought of E'tat but even with my bourbon-soaked brain I saw abbr. and immediately switched to SDAK. That's ok, Rex, I still love you....

Go Bears

Anonymous 6:53 PM  

And, Rex, to make matters worse, your blog posts my comment three tijmes to match the number of times I state your name. There are glitches in them thar programs....

Anonymous 7:11 PM  

Or in that thar commenter...

Anonymous 7:19 PM  

Anon 7:11 - That's beside that them thar point.... And ditch for captcha - almost got a twofer....

chefbea 8:02 PM  

what's going on????
@anonymous three and ure out

Sfingi 8:24 PM  

Very cute and smooth puzzle.Either I'm finally getting better or per my motto - OSWOB
One Sees What One Brings - included my kind of topics. Very happy when I "saw" the theme.

Falconer and Garner - interesting info.

Tati is worth watching. It's a strange "alternate universe" he creates.

william e emba 8:58 PM  

acme: I don't go the next step since I have only seen the one TATI film Mon Oncle and that was thirty years ago and my memory of it is kind of vague. (Unlike, say, chemistry professor FluteSNOOT, whom I remember crystal clear from Archie comics even forty years later.)

Chip Burdett 9:05 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle but I'm pretty new to crossworld still. My roommate and I had a good time working on it since we were snowed in. After checking the blog, most of my questions have been answered but for 48A (Sleuth, in slang) I eventually got TEC but my roommate and I had no idea with that clue.

Anonymous 9:46 PM  

CB - Tec - short for DeTECtive.


sanfranman59 10:03 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 7:32, 6:55, 1.09, 83%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:50, 3:41, 1.04, 69%, Medium-Challenging

mmorgan 10:18 PM  

I always love going to see a Tati film because the audience is composed of two distinct groups: Group A (who have seen his films many times) and Group B (who have no idea who he is).

Group A tends to start laughing loudly 30 or 40 seconds before something funny happens (because they know it's coming) and accordingly Group B tends to be utterly perplexed and confused.

It's quite interesting.

And I'm looking forward to the new animation...

Anonymous 10:33 PM  

If you're tempted to see a lot of Tati films, do what I did--just see Mr. Hulot's Holiday, and you'll never be tempted to see another. Such a time saver.

It wasn't the timing of the laughter so much as its existence that confused me.

dandy 3:38 AM  

When we print the online puzzle (so we can work separately and together), there were no circles??

retired_chemist 8:41 PM  

late to the party - my cold knocked me out yesterday.

I do not see this as anything but easy. Filled it in across starting at 1A and did 2/3 of the puzzle that way in the first pass. If I can do that it is easy.

Hand up for MIMEOS. That was one of my only two writeovers. GOIN' on down the road was my other. Like others, got the 13s from the crosses.

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

easily easy like Tu and Wed

so far easiest week in years

Dirigonzo 5:20 PM  

Nice to see the shoutout to Hannibal HAMLIN, one of the few politicians from my home state to rise to national prominence.

For some reason I wanted the highway in the dead center of the grid to be "can-am" so that kind of held things up in the middle for a while. Other than that, what everybody else said 5 weeks ago. I enjoyed it.

lodsf 10:41 PM  

(Syndication.) Liked the theme after I came here and had it ‘splained. Being a literal thinker, my ‘left-to-right’ circled letters spelled OBUENGHCNBLTAIL. Maybe I can use the excuse that it’s hard to see the overall picture while solving in paper on MUNI (aka “the Muni”). I knew Alcan & Mimeos but Satrap was hard for an early week solver (me). I ‘remembered’ crosswordese for the Queens sports stadium – always Shea, right? Wrong! I knew but forgot crosswordese Otos so had a DNF where Tati crossed Otos (guessed “T”). Thanks @r.alphbunker & others for the Abe VP memory cue (AbraHAM LINcoln).

Tanya 1:50 PM  

Syndicated, and I think the site I do it on is even more behind. I love this site to come check your opinions later. I am fairly new at this but was thinking this was not Monday-ish. Even though I've driven the ALCAN highway before it took me every cross to get it as I wanted ALASKA, but then went aha, Alaska-Canada=Alcan.

Didn't know TATI, wanted to guess T but iTOS didn't seem right, and I was blind to the fact I had written in PINGPiNGTABLE :) Oops. I blame lack of coffee. Also hadn't heard of SATRAP and the airline S_S I couldn't remember. Oh and I had PLANE for GRAPH. Wanted ETAT instead of SDAK but then couldn't think what Eastern Europeans would fit.

I thought the theme was cute though.

Anonymous 9:43 PM  

Scrolled through the comments and did not notice anyone mentioning the error this week. Yellowknife IS NOT a part of the NWT! Never has been!
It is in the Yukon.
A pretty dumb error considering the prestige of this puzzle.

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