Company concerned with automobile history / THU 2-17-11 / Andy's dinosaur in Toy Story / Radioactive enemy of Captain Marvel / Cutesy in London

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Constructor: Mike Nothnagel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: WAR & PEACE (33D: What's broken out of the answers to the starred clues? & 40A: Opposite of 30-Down) — WAR is removed from familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style


Word of the Day: ASHLAND (4D: Henry Clay's historic Kentucky estate) —

Ashland is the name of the plantation of the nineteenth-century Kentucky statesman Henry Clay, located in Lexington, Kentucky, in the central Bluegrass region of the state. It is a registered National Historic Landmark. // The Ashland Stakes, a Thoroughbred horse race at Keeneland Race Course run annually since the race course first opened in 1936, was named for the historically important estate.

• • •

This was a lot of fun—best Nothnagel puzzle I've done in a while. Remove a letter string / Get wacky phrase = an old trick, but this had many wonderful things going for it: interesting and occasionally funny theme answers (especially liked FLASH FORD), clean and fresh fill, and a theme revealer that was not just the missing word (WAR), but a second word (PEACE) symbolizing the first word's absence. Having the opposites WAR and PEACE cross each other in the grid's dead center, as well as having the revealers combine to form the title of a Russian novel = icing. Choked a bit on EXACTOR (23A: Tax collector, e.g.) ... I think I had EXCISOR (?!) ... but otherwise experienced no feelings of unpleasantness. Loved the nowness of CARFAX (34A: Company concerned with automobile history) and "SEEN IT" (15A: Jaded response to a movie suggestion), the colloquialness of "NOT BAD" (69A: "I'm impressed"), and the deeply insightful intersection of SEXY (60D: Hot) and REX (67A: Andy's dinosaur in "Toy Story"). Truly NOT BAD.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: *Photogenic athlete from Cincinnati? (HANDSOME REWARD)
  • 22A: *Cozy rooms for playing? (GAME WARDENS)
  • 56A: *Social gathering for auction participants? (BUYER BEWARE)
  • 61A: *Diatribes from captured criminals? (ARREST WARRANTS)
  • 3D: *Commercial for a private school? (ACADEMY AWARD)
  • 35D: *Expose oneself to a former U.S. president? (FLASH FORWARD)

There were several answers about which I had no clue, but they fell easily from crosses. These included ASHLAND, which I know much better as the site of an annual Shakespeare Festival, and Lew AYRES, whose name I've seen before, but only in crosswords (53D: 1948 Best Actor nominee for "Johnny Belinda"). Love the way the puzzle steered around a partial at AND ... GO! (7D: "Start ... now!"). That could so easily have been [Touch ___]. It's funny how dated PRETEENS looks now (39D: Much of Nickelodeon's target audience). That word has been largely supplanted by TWEENS. They're the same group of kids, right? I'm not criticizing PRETEENS; it's a fine word. Just observing how quickly language can change.

Bullets:
  • 29A: Food made from fermented beans (MISO) — ugh, embarrassing how long this took me. Wanted TOFU, then had the M and S and wanted ... I don't know, MASH? I'm pretty sure we have a container of MISO in our fridge...
  • 43A: Indian city now known as Chennai (MADRAS) — I did not know that. CHENNAI seems like a word that wants to be in crosswords, but I've never seen it (to my knowledge). Got this answer easily from just a cross or two.
  • 24D: Halloween costume, maybe (CORPSE) — I don't get this clue at all. Even after getting CORP- I refused to write in the answer. A CORPSE is not a costume. A sheet—that's a costume. But a CORPSE? And plus, don't you mean "zombie?" A CORPSE would not be much of a costume. You'd just ... lie there. If you are animated (ambulatory, etc.), then you are not a CORPSE; you are undead. This distinction is important.
  • 25D: Cutesy, in London (TWEE) — got this right away. This was a word I had never seen or heard used before 2008, when I first encountered it as a genre of contemporary music.
  • 37D: Marked, as a questionnaire (X'D IN) — this answer looks wrong, but feels right, so ... I'll allow it.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

87 comments:

lit.doc 12:17 AM  

Wow, loved this one. Finished (rare) in under 30 (never), and thought the theme was wonderfully puzzling.

Had ACADEMY AD and GAME DENS at 20, then had my “Aha!” moment a couple of minutes later when I sussed WAR. And the symmetrical center crossing of PEACE/WAR—very elegant.

Worst “OMG am I gonna get stuck this late in the game?” resulted from having succumbed to CFS syndrome early on and slamming in EXACTER at 23A. And I’m an English teacher. Sad.

Leo 12:31 AM  

Happy solvers are all alike; every unhappy solver is unhappy in his or her own way.

Aaron Riccio 1:04 AM  

You nailed pretty much what I loved so much about this puzzle; not only was the theme great, but the crossings were superb. Every time I got stuck, I found another place in the puzzle from which I could work my way back in. That (and original cluing) is one of the most crucial reasons why we need *actual* constructors and not *computer* programs making our crosswords.

(Just as, say, Tom Snyder's handmade logic puzzles are better than regular KenKen/Sudoku.)

foodie 1:06 AM  

LOL re the "deeply insightful intersection of SEXY and REX"!

It took me a while to get that Aha moment, but it was fun when it happened and since the missing WAR site was not predictable, it continued to be fun till the end.

And what a great idea to get rid of WAR!

What a Thursday should be!

jae 1:22 AM  

Yes, an excellent Thurs. Clever and fun. Med. for me. Had RIDE before RISE and mixed up CARMAX and CARFAX, but over all pretty smooth. Thanks Mike.

jae 1:32 AM  

... and, upon further reflection, I first tried DEFUSE, PULLS for PUFFS and LOAN for LIEN. So maybe it was a tad on the hard side of Med. for me.

Octavian 2:25 AM  

Now that's what I'm talking about -- brilliant puzzle, beautifully executed. Love how hidden the missing letters were. Even after you cracked the "secret war" code it was still not easy to figure out where each one fit.

Makes up for the horrible Monday-Wednesday. Bravo, Nothnagel. A master at the top of his gaame.

chefwen 3:06 AM  

I see the cyber monkeys ate my comment. Lets try again.

Like @Foodie the aha moment was slow in coming and like @Octavian it was a bit tricky but fun to fit the war into the answers.

Like Rex wanted tofu before MISO, I the cook, should have known better.
Knew Rex would get a kick out of SEXY crossing REX.

Great puzzle, just what I love about Thursdays.

Anonymous 3:08 AM  

We have a puzzle that crosses war and peace in the middle and theme answers that omit the word war.

Is that all there is? I don’t think so.

Buried in 53D is AYRES.

Lew AYRES was perhaps best known in his portrayal of an American GI in WWI in All Quiet on the Western Front and as the original Dr. Kildare, though here he is clued as receiving an Oscar nomination for Johnny Belinda. I always liked Lew Ayres as an actor but there was a period when he was blacklisted in Hollywood.

In real life Lew Ayres was a man of war and peace. He was a conscientious objector in WWII and that is why Hollywood blacklisted him. However, he served as a medic with distinction in the war in the Pacific.

While filming Johnny Belinda, AYRES and Jane Wyman fell in love. Wyman won an Oscar for her role in Johnny Belinda. Wyman was then married to Ronald Reagan. Wyman left Reagan for Ayres.

Today Reagan is the only President ever divorced and Wyman is the only actress to have won an Oscar and be married to a future President. And Lew Ayres, well, he is a forgotten actor….

I skip M-W 4:04 AM  

@Sexy Rex, well one could WEAR a corpse as a Halloween costume, grisly though it would be. should have been clued with theme, as in "sight often caused by 33 D" or "unit often counted to assess progress in what's left out in starred answers' otherwise agree with everyone, good puz.
By the time I got to 29 A, had M, so miso was gimme.
Not sure why Academy has to be private, e.g., Naval Academy is public.
Don't know what a T-Top is.....Anyone?

andrea talkson michaels 4:32 AM  

Perfect.
Has there ever been anything else from Mr. Nothnagel?

Theme took me for-ev-er...
With AcADemyAD I thought it was going for AD-free, or taking something from the middle and ADding it again at the end...so it took me 2/3 of the puzzle to figure out what was what...

Definitely needed it to get the starts to BEE and RANTS.

I had COR_SE for the Halloween costume and kept running thru vowels only...CORoSE? CORiSE?

Tiny tiny WHA?: having THE DOORS and THE WASH.
But only nit in pure brilliance.

Early week bleedover: BALM.
WHAM, CALM, BALM reading down almost looks like a word ladder.

LOVED all the Xs, tried to make the ICESAW into ICEaxe just to have another, as tho 3 weren't enough!

SEENIT was my fave answer (despite actually living on NOB Hill).

NOT BAD! ;) Ha! It war wonderful!

jae 4:55 AM  

@I skip M—W -- First of all so do I. It's an increasingly successful effort to preserve domestic harmony. That said a T-TOP is a semi convertible car with a roll bar (T) over the front passenger compartment. Google T-Top for pix or maybe Burt Reynolds--that Firebird may have been a T-TOP.

jae 5:05 AM  

Did I say Firebird? I meant TransAm. Sorry Rex, 4 and out.

mmorgan 6:04 AM  

Fun. Really nicely done, thanks!

fikink 7:51 AM  

"The deeply insightful intersection of SEXY and REX" - colloquially, @REX, you "crack me up"!
Took me forever to suss BUYER BEwarE.
@Aaron Riccio, the re-entry points were there for me, too, and I felt EXACTly the same way about the human imprint on this puzzle.
@foodie, "And what a great idea to get rid of WAR! " - nice.
@jae, I had RIDE first, too.
@Anon at 3:08, thanks for the added texture.
@andrea, "it WAR wonderful" - you SLAY me :)

Topnotch puzzle, Mike Nothnagel!

joho 8:11 AM  

Brilliant puzzle, everything a Thursday shuld be.

Great write up, @Rex! You said it all.

I had China before CURIO and TALKSat/XDIt which I like better than the actual answers except then AERa makes no sense.

Fantastic job, Mike Nothnagel: more!

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

Loved it! Truly great.

Loved DISARM right next to ATOM

(One note... I guess the reason I'm never successful at ice fishing, is because I've been bringing my ICEDAW...)

Craig 8:36 AM  

Surprised no one remarked on wha crossing wham. I thought that was pretty ugly.

Jim 8:38 AM  

"Wha..."?! Unacceptable.
XDIN!?! Ridiculous!
DRAGS=PUFFS? In whose dictionary?
TALKSON? Lame.
I agree with the CORPSE-ZOMBIE argument.
PRETEENS strikes me as correct as it refers to anyone under 13 whereas TWEENS are thought of as beTWEEN kids and teens (10-12, say).
Had TABLOID for THEWASH at first which gave me ICEAWL. Couldn't get any crosses so changed to ICEAXE. I've been icefishing, and we also used an ICEAUGER but that didn't quite fit. Took me a long time to get the saw which is weird because I see them in old cartoons a lot.
All in all...NOTBAD. On a scale from MondayMorning-SaturdayNight I'll give it a 6AM Thursday.

JenCT 8:58 AM  

@Jim: DRAGS on a cigarette.

Stared at XDIN; always have seen it as XEDIN.

Loved WHA - first answer I wrote in.

HANDSOMERED took too long - started with BENGAL (football on the brain).

mac 8:59 AM  

What a great puzzle! Rex, Aaron, Foodie and Andrea said it all for me, and some of the anonymice made a great contribution this morning!

The wash and The Doors don't bother me at all, it would have if the thes weren't there.

Loved it that the theme was a little tough to suss out, kept me jumping around all the time. Last area to fall was the corpse-exactir-drew area.

Fantastic, Mike.

jesser 9:06 AM  

Wanting ICEaxe at 30D slowed me down more than I'm comfortable admitting. But aside from that, this was a great puzzle -- one that kept me hopping all over the place gaining toeholds and then using them to leverage answers out of my brain. Only other writeover was to correct kATE to CATE. I hesitate to contemplate what memorabilia would be stored in a kurio cabinet.

Cheers to getting rid of WAR and instead embracing PEACE!

Houtec! (the guy you call when your smart house goes all stupid on you) -- jesser

retired_chemist 9:09 AM  

The problems I had with this puzzle were of my own making. Could. Not. See. the theme until I had almost finished. My excuse: we had flown back about 11 PM from the Westminster Kennel Club dog show In NY and I was pretty tired. Lame. By the time I got the theme I didn't need it.

Also had an error: was so sure of CARMAX I didn't even look for alternatives to the M, even though MLASHFORD didn't make any sense vis-a-vis the clue. Parsed it in my mind as M. L. Ashford, whoever that is. Google apparently doesn't know either.

Anyway, it was a good puzzle, a well-executed theme, and an enjoyable solve. Thanks, Mr. Nothnagel.

Dirty Old Dude 9:16 AM  

Anybody else tempted by FLASH BUSH?

No?

What's wrong with you people?

nanpilla 9:24 AM  

@retired_chemist: thought of you while watching the dog show. Did you have a dog in the hunt?

Loved this puzzle. Only ugly fill was XDIN, and that's a small nit to pick.

I guess the asterisks were necessary because there were other 8 letter entries that were not theme answers. Style-wise, would it have been more elegant to make those into 7 letter entries? Not being a constructor, I don't know how that works.

imsdave 9:53 AM  

Great stuff. Seriously in the challenging range for me though - well over 20 minutes - not a good sign with the ACPT coming up.

I was also impressed by the deeply insightful intersection of REX and FLEA.

captcha is worth reporting as a shoutout to greene:

tampa

OISK 9:54 AM  

For once, I agree! Took me a while, but great fun, smiled as I finally got "Hike" to finish up. Best Thursday in a long time.

Adam 10:00 AM  

Re: how fast language changes? I was flayed publicly in grad school in 1998 for using "reference" as a verb. "Refer (to)", according to some d-bag at NYU, would have been the correct clueing for CITE.

Same deal with "experience".

Also: "Clue" isn't a verb either, according to my spellcheck. How quickly language changes, indeed.

Once a linguist tried to convince me that at this rate, all our irregular verbs are going to fall away in the next hundred years. Prepare yourselves for "I goed to the store and buyed some food which I eated."

retired_chemist 10:04 AM  

@ nanpilla - two. A golden and a pug. Nice comments but no ribbons this year, though the pug girl was the last one standing at the end NOT to get one. Thanks for asking.

christelb_devlin 10:05 AM  

I too took a little extra time when I insisted on bringing my ICEDAW to go winter fishing. I had RIDE for mount, as in a horse. I flung my ICEDAW into the CALM BALM of THEWASH, changed it to ICESAW, and was at PEACE.

deerfencer 10:19 AM  

Yes, we all know what a sexy flea Rex can be ;;;)))

Bravo, Mike Nothnagel, for a classic Thursday treat!

GenJoneser 10:26 AM  

War, what is it good for? Apparently nothing! Great fun today. Thanks Mr. Nothangel for a lovely happy birthday puzzle to me! I sailed happily through! Maybe it's the start of a good year for me!

aaron 10:29 AM  

I knew ASHLAND from looking up the origin of Ashland Ave in Chicago and being confused as to why they would name a major thoroughfare after some dude's house.

SethG 10:37 AM  

For a while, I had FLASH FRED. WAR turns out to have been well hidden in some of those base phrases. Nice work.

mitchs 10:38 AM  

"Handsome Rewards"? Never heard the phrase, but Google shows a catalog store. That's it?

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

Just one handsome reward, not many.

Matthew G. 10:48 AM  

War, huh! Good God, y'all!

That was a fun puzzle. Best of the last several weeks, easily. Didn't get theme until I had tortuously filled in all the theme answers (save the reveal) without it. Devilish but beautiful putting the reveal as a three-word answer in the middle of the grid, where I just didn't look for it.

I finally read WAR and PEACE about four years ago, and it went straight to the top of my favorites. I had always envisioned it as the ultimate long, drawn-out novel, but you won't find a faster and more engaging 1300 page read on the planet. I'm actually already eager to read it again.

Two Ponies 10:52 AM  

I'm gladly jumping on the bandwagon today. Great Thursday.
Getting the theme early helped some and parsing the phrases really added to the fun.

efrex 11:23 AM  

Nothnagel is by far and away my fave Thursday constructor. Tough, creative, and fair. Every time I thought I might get stuck, I found a way to crawl back in.

Would probably have done better in pencil, since I thought of WHA, SEENIT and a few others, but wasn't willing to commit to them in ink.

Writeovers: DEFUSE instead of DISARM, HUTT instead of HIKE (what WAS I thinking?), FADED instead of TIRED, HAIR instead of HIVE, and ENACTED instead of ELAPSED.

@Dirty Old Dude: have NO idea what you're talking about. Nope. None whatsoever. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

dk 11:41 AM  

"To war! To war! We are going off to WAR!" G. Marx

Only wince was XDIN.

*** (3 Stars) NOTBAD

quilter1 11:44 AM  

Made and corrected all the same mistakes everyone else made. Got the theme at the end with FLASHFORD. But I enjoyed the experience filling in little areas all over the place and then figuring out how to link them up. Good puzzle.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

No one bothered by 61A? Just doesn't fit the clue, imo. ARRESTEES' RANTS maybe. But ARREST?

Also, what's HIC?

r.alphbunker 12:07 PM  

Answers completed in 10 equally spaced intervals:
8, 9, 8, 12, 12, 5, 4, 8, 5, 5 = 76 answers total
So no major hangups.

REX/SEXY doesn't work for me. How about Doris DAY/ SEXY?

A good puzzle.

Greene 12:09 PM  

I can honestly say this puzzle threw me into a panic for the first minute or two when I couldn't get anything in the north. Finally just ran through all the clues and started with THE WASH and HEART. With this toehold I was able to steadily fill in the whole grid from south to north. First theme answer to fall was ARREST RANTS. I immediately got the gimmick, grinned, and headed north.

I loved this puzzle and was thoroughly entertained from start to finish (well, after the slow start anyway). Thanks Mike. Great job.

Sparky 12:11 PM  

DNF, no surprise. Thought of BUYER BEEware, but that didn't fit. CARmAX, where we bought the Honda. Had Wah cross ahah. Just a mess though SW filled in nicely. Enjoyed the write up from Rex and commentors. Happy Birthday GenJonser.

Mel Ott 12:17 PM  

Fairly difficult for me for a Thursday. Took me awhile to catch on to the theme. An admirable theme and an entertaining puzzle.

Working my way through the new biography of Henry Clay, so ASHLAND was a gimme.

@Anon 11:47: I forget the declension but HIC is one form of the Latin word for "this".

lit.doc 12:22 PM  

@Anon 11:47, for ARREST RANTS, think some version of "RANTS by perp's on the occasion of their ARRESTS".

Gil.I.Pollas 12:22 PM  

I'll probably get thrown off the roof since I didn't really like this puzzle.
I caught on to the theme early with GAMEDENS; looked at 61A ARRESTRANTS and thought what word is that? Oh, and what is a BUYERBEE?
Is WHA really a word?
I usually like Mr. Nothnagel but this one just didn't make me jiggle. (did I just make up a word?)

Kendall 12:25 PM  

I really liked this puzzle but I think got caught up more places than most everyone else. Had Defuse for DISARM, ICEaxe for ICE SAW, LoaN for LIEN (that was just stupid), kATE for CATE, and a few others. I fixed all of these before calling it done and ended with a mistake-free Thursday. A rarity for me.

I wasn't going to comment due to my busy day but when SEXY crosses REX, it almost seems a crime not to post my thoughts here.

Last thought... does no one else think WHA is just ugly? I guess I'm just weird, because I really didn't like that answer.

Stan 12:28 PM  

Solid, cool puzzle. Great comments today, starting with Rex's and continuing.

*Not* easy-medium for Arundel (Mrs. Stan) and me. Required total team-solving -- abnormal for a Thursday. We may need a hyphenated Blogger identity.

syndy 12:40 PM  

Not bad; maybe a LITTLE TWEE (having bush instead of FORD might have helped that yea to iceaxe,pull,tofu also stale for 11 down and argo for 36 down .also never Heard of ASHLAND rings no bells. HEARBY declare feb 17 SEXY REX DAY

william e emba 12:41 PM  

HIC is the Latin demonstrative pronoun (singular, nominative, masculine). The All-Time Greatest Comic Book Page Ever (at least for those who took four years of Latin in high school) was in Asterix in Britain. The Roman soldiers are trying to figure out which barrel (out of all the beer barrels in Londinium) contains the magic potion. So they go on a tasting frenzy, which quickly degenerates into a drunken party. The legionnaires start hiccuping. The occasional "HIC" word balloon mutates into "haec" (feminine) and "hoc" (neuter). This joke was not in the original French, since French make a "hips" sound.

Meanwhile, the All-Time Greatest Cryptic Clue Ever was "Puff! (6)". The answer, of course, is obvious from this puzzle.

I was about to put in Mr. Mind for the enemy to Captain Marvel, but he's not radioactive. But for sure, Mr. Mind is far superior as a bad guy nemesis than Mr. Atom could even dream. Frankly, Mr. Atom would be too obscure for a Thursday puzzle, except the name is too easy to guess, even without any crosses. (I'm almost wondering if the clue originally did not have "radioactive" and a comics aware tester criticized.)

Off of LIEN/MOSS in the SW, I guessed it was a Radio Cabinet. That kind of slowed me down.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

Can somebody help me understand 14A? I got it because of 1D, but without that I would have answered "sic".

fikink 12:48 PM  

The only joke I remember from Latin class:

Semper ubi
Sub ubi

(groan...Thanks, Mr. Zamzow!)

PuzzleNut 12:55 PM  

Had more trouble with this puzzle than Rex and others. Theme took a long time to get and really didn't help me by the time I did figure it out.
All in all, a very good puzzle, but I was just half a step off on lot of my first guesses. ICEaxe, miLd for CALM, sEder for MEDAL, vTen for TTOP, LoaN for LIEN. XDIN was my last fill and saw it had to be right, but still scrunched my nose at that.
Before I had any crosses for SEENIT, thought the answer might be I GUESS. Seemed like a weak answer and was pleased when the much better one unfolded.

Masked and Anonymous 12:57 PM  

Caveat: REX also crosses FLEA. Gotta take the good with the bad. Or maybe constructor was extending the WAR/PEACE juxtaposition with SEXY/REX?! Har.

Impressive construction. I am beginning to associate this fellow with dependably Top-Of-The-Line NYTPuzs. And NYTPuzs themselves are pretty much TOTL. Here he took a pretty common gimmick and really raised the crossword bar. Thumbs up.

Puz was precariously close to an "eliminate U from the puz" sub-theme. Hey! Constructors! Idea for yer next puz. Have a theme and a "SUB-theme". "SUB-theme" could be about U-boats. Got yer U's goin' from the gitgo. Solid gold. That's why they pay me the big bucks. Har.

Martin 1:08 PM  

"The most popular costumes last Halloween were Lady Gaga and Snooki." People actually talk like this. When the subject is costumes, "corpse" means "corpse costume."

Masked and Anonymous II 1:15 PM  

Almost forgot about CORPSE. I'm backin' up Sexpot-44 100% on this one. What's the deal? Julie goes trick or treatin' as a corpse? All night it's ring the bell. Get the candy. Drag Julie. Fun.

HIC/HIKE...another cool juxtaposition, for the Latin scholars.

lit.doc 1:48 PM  

@Anon 12:43, see comments above. It's Latin for "this".

Matthew G. 1:51 PM  

@Anonymous 12:43: HIC is the masculine pronoun for "this" in Latin. SIC, on the other hand, means "thus."

Masked and Anonymous's last silver bullet 1:53 PM  

Wonder how Watson (Jeopardy wipeout winner) would do, solvin' the NYTPuz? The Shortzmeister should issue a challenge to Big Blue.

chefbea 2:22 PM  

Took me a while and I still didn't understand all the theme answers. Didn't know where the war went.
51A ..The Wildcats are the wilmington high school team- but that wouldn't fit

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

Addendum to my 3:08 Post -- AYRES played a German soldier in AQOTWF, in a role which morally was very much consistent with his own pacifist views and consistent with the theme of the puzzle....

fergus 3:20 PM  

Well, I left in ICE DEW to go with my TELLS ON. Unable to decide which sort of Mount we had. And I allowed the Tigers of LSU to be Wildcats. So three squares wrong, five answers off, the latter of which I think gets the penalties in tournaments.

sanfranman59 3:32 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)

Thu 19:58, 19:06, 1.05, 67%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:42, 9:12, 1.05, 69%, Medium-Challenging

Joe 3:36 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe 3:37 PM  

I wouldn't call this "easy" but was able to slog through it.

Most interesting fact about Lew Ayres?
His CORPSE is buried next to Frank Zappa.
WHA?

Clark 3:37 PM  

I went to a costume party as a CORPSE once. Black and blue makeup, white shirt with stab wound. It worked just fine. Another time I went as J.D. Salinger, but don't get me started . . .

fergus 4:22 PM  

Interesting question about Watson. Hottest result comes from 1999 ACPT with Proverb, the Solving program.

(http://www.crosswordtournament.com/1999/art4.htm)

Surely there have been advances since?

Dr. Lecho Guave 4:29 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Neville 4:37 PM  

Leace in our Times?

Chamberlain 4:44 PM  

You meant Peace in our Times?

Mike Nothnagel 5:05 PM  

Hey everyone,

Thanks for the exceedingly kind words. Sometimes the stars line up in a puzzle, and I guess this was one of those times.

Until later,
MN

p.s. I'll never tell if SEXY / REX was intentional or not. :)

cw stewart 5:17 PM  

What else can I say? Truly a great puzzle and clever theme. Enjoyed solving and figuring out where the war was in the theme answers. Can I hang out with you at the tournamnet in March to see if any of your wit will soak into me?

Alan 5:23 PM  

Mike N, Will you tell us whether AYRES played the god of war? And if not, Y not?

mac 6:24 PM  

cw stewart: of course! We will superimpose our blognames on our id tags.

michael 8:42 PM  

I was wondering why a ceremonial presentation was a "pedal." sigh..

I always like Nothnagel puzzles and this was no exception.

Alpine Joy 8:48 PM  

Dear Rex,

I liked it, though I have my complaints about 10a, T-TOP -- I don't think it applies to only muscle cars.

But I guess it does, being a way for performance designers to retain stiffness in the body for handling, while still having some of the feeling of a convertible.

Thanks Rex!

sanfranman59 10:00 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 6:53, 6:54, 1.00, 52%, Medium
Tue 7:28, 8:56, 0.84, 6%, Easy
Wed 13:28, 11:47, 1.14, 82%, Challenging
Thu 20:13, 19:07, 1.06, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:47, 3:41, 1.03, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:02, 4:35, 0.88, 11%, Easy
Wed 6:34, 5:48, 1.13, 82%, Challenging
Thu 9:16, 9:12, 1.01, 63%, Medium-Challenging

shrub5 11:38 PM  

This puzzle took me forever, it seemed. Did it in fits and starts throughout the day. The good news is that I finished with no errors and no googles, but my grid is pretty messy with writeovers. Most have been covered by earlier posters and Rex. Had the Wildcats belonging to ASU for awhile but actually Wildcats are the mascot of U of Arizona (as well as the correct answer KSU.). Spent too long thinking that WAR would be at the beginning of a word (I had ARREST RANTS first) so did not get the max help out of the theme while scratching my head. Had no idea about ASHLAND so put in ASHwood early on. More dumbness prevailed when I had a 6-letter word starting with M for the Indian city now known as Chennai. Could only think Mumbai but thought 'how could I not know the name of Bombay has changed again?' Add mine to the chorus of kudos for Mike N.

inveniens 12:00 AM  

Great puzzle! Two over-ambitious mistakes on the first pass: "XIV" for 14A - "What this would be to Caesar" and "PAGE SIX" for 54A - "What dirt may come out in" The "P" in the latter caused the caterers to bring SPOONS rather than STERNO for a while.

cody.riggs 1:01 AM  

Excellent, excellent. The theme density is incredible. I don't even mind WHA for some reason, this time. Only quibble: I would have preferred a Shakespearian clue for ASHLAND, only because I'm an Oregonian.

I find X'ED IN to be a perfectly cromulent answer. It's the lack apostrophe that makes it look odd in the grid.

SE corner of the puzzle also brought back old memories of a buddy of mine who people referred to as "SEXY REXY".

cody.riggs 1:05 AM  

..of course I typed that incorrectly. "X'D IN" is what I meant to write above. Looks fine to me without the E, anyhow.

Jim 11:35 AM  

And me an ex-smoker!
Even so, most of us (ex)smokers, being (nit)picky would say that a drag is inhaled (Mr. President) and a puff is not, so they are not the same thing. One puffs at first so as not to inhale the sulphur from the match then takes the first, deep satifying drag.
But again, I disagree probably because I didn't figure it out.

Tita 11:18 PM  

Very late to the game this Thursday - was a DNF for me!!

Yes, I got the theme very early on - but missed the NW corner pretty badly...

It was a great theme - liked it lots!!

Only dislike...T-Top is not at all a feature that pops to mind for a muscle car...torque, horsepower, blower...but t-top?? Other than the vette, what '60s era muscle cars had one? NBo self-respecting GTO would...

But hey - I'm a ragtop kind of gal myself...

Thanks for a real challenge today!

Dirigonzo 4:22 PM  

MADRAS clothes were popular in the '60's. They were plaid and the colors ran when washed, so they had a little different look each time you wore them. Kind of cool.

@Gil.I.Pollas - "jiggle" is a perfectly good word - it's what any self-respecting lecher looks for when he sees a woman in a tee-shirt walking toward him (but you already knew that, didn't you?)

apropos that remark, captcha is nonbared

Anonymous 10:19 PM  

muscle car? TTop, only car I knew of that had a ttop was a vette. Didn't get the theme until I finished the puzzle, cute

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