Carmine's cousin / SAT 3-19-11 / Pitch setter / Rockling, e.g. / Basilica di San Nicola locale

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: easy-medium



THEME: none

Word of the Day: MASTIC (Resin used in varnishes) —
(Greek: Μαστίχα) is a resin obtained from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus). In pharmacies and Nature shops it is called "arabic gum" (not to be confused with gum arabic) and "Yemen gum". . . Mastic is used as a raw material in the production of some varnishes. Mastic varnish was used to protect and preserve photographic negatives. (wikipedia)

• • •
Hello, treedweller here. For those who may not be aware, this weekend is the ACPT in Brooklyn, so our regular host is occupied and he has given me another opportunity to sit in the driver's seat. Some of you may recall my previous outing was also on a Saturday and I got slaughtered. My saving grace that weekend was to give a little solace to all the other clueless (answer-less?) puzzlers who are routinely demoralized by Rex's comments in the vein of "I dropped in [something you never imagined was even a word] immediately with no crosses and was done in four minutes."

This time, I find myself discussing another Saturday puzzle. I've improved over the last year or two and no longer consider it a miracle when I finish a Fri/Sat puzzle, but I still fail as often as I succeed (yesterday, for example). Today, I actually finished without cheating in just over half an hour, which is not quite good enough for the ACPT but faster than most of the Saturdays I've completed. It's probably Rex-Easy, but I threw in the hyphen-medium to make myself feel a little better about my success*. Those of you who still can't even get a toehold on Saturday have my permission to rate it Beyond Challenging. Go ahead, have fun, it's just us kids today.

This struck me as a light offering for the weekend. It was definitely a tough puzzle, but seemed a little mundane. Saturdays, I expect to be quizzed on the moons of Jupiter or the operatic works of [someone opera people would know but I don't because the only opera I know came from puzzles]. This was all pretty in-the-language stuff clued Saturday Hard. As with most of my successful Saturdays, I got a smattering of answers, some of which proved wrong, and I was sure I'd never finish, but then I slowly picked up an AAVERAGE (57A: It's between 90 and 100) here and an AIR IRAN (47A / 48D: it stopped flying to New York in 1979) there, and before I realized it I was closing in on the final squares (*correcting my error at 28D: Pitch setter -- CLEF, as it turns out--more on that later). The most obscure trivia I see is BARI (52A: Basilica di San Nicola locale) and my word of the day, MASTIC (27A: Resin used in varnishes). Unfortunately for me, the latter tripped me up and I finished with an error.

Actually, the problem started with DEFIANT (40A: Unwilling to stay in line), where I got the 'D' and the ANT and confidently threw down "deviant". So when I came to 28D: Pitch setter (which, I must say, had me mystified for most of the time I was solving), I suddenly realized it had to be "elev", never mind there's no indication of an abbreviation in the clue. And so I spent a few minutes post-solve trying to figure out what "mastie" was. Some of you are probably saying, "How long has he been at this that he doesn't know MASTIC?" but it's a new one on me, or at least one I figured out once and promptly forgot.

Bullets:
  • 29D: Spirit of the Caribbean (JAMAICARUM)— I totally fell for the "spirit" misdirection, which contributed to the struggle I had in the SE until almost the end, and then realization dawned. And then I spent several seconds trying to figure out how to fit JAMAICANRUM in there. I'm still a little bitter about that, truth be told.
  • 38A: Strategy game with disks (REVERSI) — Started with Othello (and wondered why the play wasn't referenced in the clue), then briefly tried PACHISI, though I was grumbling to myself that there's precious little strategy in that game. Maybe this should have been W-O-T-D, since I am a game fiend and yet I have never seen, much less played, REVERSI. Oh, wait, a little googling reveals that it's just an alternate name for Othello. Which is, of course, just a simplified version of Go. Which will make it into precious few puzzles since it's only two letters. God forbid we ever see "gos" or "goes" (clued in this context). I might welcome an outlaw puzzle with two-letter entries, but it had better be pretty damn good.
  • 59A: To a very great degree (INSPADES) — This was one of those Saturday clues that revealed a very colloquial phrase. I like those.
  • 37A: Borderline fare? (TEXMEX) — This was an obvious ploy to me, in that I was immediately looking for food, but I still took awhile getting the right answer. I kept trying "tacos" and "enchiladas" and other yummy-sounding stuff that didn't fit. Being as I'm in / from Texas, this may be an example of the specialist struggling where the amateur has no problems.
  • 15A: Item removed before showering (TOUPEE) — FTW!
  • 56D: "Knots Landing" actress ___ Park Lincoln (LAR) — sounds like a car dealership to me--which reminds me--
  • 7A: They make vehicles very volatile (CARBOMBS) — I was quite pleased to quickly fill in "gas tanks" here, and a little disturbed to finally reveal the correct answer. Given the recent news from Japan, I had a similar reaction at 60A: Shake (TREMOR). I usually frown when the PC crowd starts trying to arbitrarily limit options based on personal concerns, and I am not lobbying to take these words out of the mix for future puzzles, but, nevertheless.
    I'm back again on Sunday. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to get it done without cheating. Good luck to all the competitors.

    Signed, treedweller,
    on behalf of
    Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

    61 comments:

    The Bard 12:45 AM  

    Romeo and Juliet > Act I, scene V

    TYBALT: Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe,
    A villain that is hither come in spite,
    To scorn at our solemnity this night.

    CAPULET: Young Romeo is it?

    TYBALT: 'Tis he, that villain Romeo.

    CAPULET: Content thee, gentle coz, let him alone;
    He bears him like a portly gentleman;
    And, to say truth, Verona brags of him
    To be a virtuous and well-govern'd youth:
    I would not for the wealth of all the town
    Here in my house do him disparagement:
    Therefore be patient, take no note of him:
    It is my will, the which if thou respect,
    Show a fair presence and put off these frowns,
    And ill-beseeming semblance for a feast.

    Anonymous 1:20 AM  

    You've got it right in the grid but in the bullets section you have REVERSO instead of REVERSI

    Greene 1:46 AM  

    Great job @Treedweller. How well I remember your last Saturday post. Loved your honesty and got quite a chuckle in return. We must be progressing at the same rate since I finished this puzzle in just under 30 minutes as well.

    Just returned from a lovely social session in Brooklyn which included drinks, dinner, and then more drinks. I've had more alcohol in one evening than I've had in the past year. Great fun with blog regulars IMSDave, Mac, Nanpilla, Bob Kerfuffle, and others. There are constructors and famous puzzle folk everywhere. Really amazing to be there.

    Rex Parker 1:49 AM  

    Yes, Easy-Medium for me too (10-something).

    Sadly, I will be solving tomorrow's tourney xwords *on paper.* I'm not even sure I remember how.

    What Greene said re: alcohol. And so to bed.

    RP

    jae 2:26 AM  

    Easy-medium works for me too. I also finished in thirty min. and change. My biggest misstep was ONAROLL which slowed up SW quite a bit. This for me was a solid Sat. I mean EUGENELEVY....

    davko 2:40 AM  

    After staring at a blank grid for several minutes, I gained a purchase with STOOD APART (1D) and never even come up for air. Seem to remember an entirely different experience with this constructor's last outing, but no such trouble this time.

    Liked the cluing for TOUPEE (15A), but winced arriving at CAR BOMBS (7A) and TREMOR (60) in times like these. And what's with the crepe craze? That's two helpings in two days -- and not of such ordinary fare, either.

    SethG 3:10 AM  

    Yup, relatively hard for me. I had a much easier time with the last one you wrote-up.

    D_Blackwell 5:42 AM  

    I want a ruling on REVERSO / REVERSI with ON A RAGE / IN A RAGE. Both games fit the clue perfectly and the RAGE crosses also fit the clue.

    A -1 seems a horribly unfair punishment for a perfectly reasonable and defensible selection.

    PastelLady 7:27 AM  

    I did wonder if competitors shouldn't be paper-solving AND also practicing on a big vertical board with clues in hands-- because you lose time when the medium/set-up is unfamiliar....

    Oh, the puzzle. DNF. I wanted to Google, but how can you Google 'cookware with low sides?' Failure.

    r.alphbunker 8:05 AM  

    False friends (thanks @davko)
    30D EVErMORESO-->EVENMORESO
    22A usS-->HMS
    21D EonS-->ERAS
    45A fete-->GALA
    39D oNARoll-->INARAGE
    javascript:void(0)
    Slow start, hit the wall in the 9th and then a strong finish.
     1 ***
     2 *
     3 *****
     4 ***********
     5 *****
     6 ***********
     7 ***
     8 *****************
     9
     10 ************

    I found this week's Friday and Saturday fairly easy. Hope this continues at the online ACPT.

    Anonymous 8:31 AM  

    Know what else fits in the "Spirit of the Carribean" letter boxes? CRUISE SHIP and CRUISE LINE. SE baffled me and I did not finish.

    Anonymous 10:01 AM  

    Nice job @Treedweller. It was very refreshing to read the guest writeup today. Not a trace of condescension towards the amateurs among us.
    For me this puzzle lived up to the reputation of a typical Saturday. Got a couple of words on my own and a few with Google. The rest remained blank...
    Looking at the completed puzzle I see a solid construction with minimum crosswordese. The clues were tough though and above my present pay grade. The beauty of the clues is that after you see the answers you say to yourself: "Aha I could have guessed that". Perhaps I should have persevered before going to Rex blog. Well next time. Very nice indeed even though.

    Cathyat40 10:06 AM  

    Finished in 31 minutes; honored to be in the same league as treedweller. Let's call it the AAA league.

    The NW corner was the only really tough part for me; I was misdirected by reading LEAD as the metal; had ShEaTH before SLEUTH. I finally saw EUGENELEVY and that broke it open for me.

    Enjoyed your write-up, treedweller, and look forward to seeing you here tomorrow.

    Frank 10:15 AM  

    Is the picture of Paul Reubens posted to illustrate 'deviant?' If so, it is a gratuitous and mean-spirited allusion. Most would say that his 'deviance' was exaggerated due to his celebrity.

    mmorgan 10:23 AM  

    Nice job, treedweller! (Poor Pee-wee...)

    CaseAce 10:53 AM  

    Try not being bitter, Rex, I feel Jamaican too much out of it!

    JFe 11:09 AM  

    @bard: Thanks for my course in Shakespeare via a crossword puzzle blog!

    Mel Ott 11:22 AM  

    I agree that his was kind of on the easy side of medium. Except for the R at the non-word cross of REVERSI/CTRL. Not sure about the I vs. O dispute at square 39. I had I.

    Some clever cluing, which I enjoyed.

    chefbea 11:24 AM  

    Good job treedweller.

    DNF. busy baking cookies

    quilter1 11:25 AM  

    Terrible. Me, not the puzzle. I couldn't get started and so just looked up the actresses, poet, grammy winner and singer to get a toe hold. Finished in about an hour, but did a couple of household chores during that time to come back with fresh eyes.
    Also wanted a cruise ship for JAMAICA RUM,tamale for TEXMEX, saute pan for CREPE PAN. Got the pan and the matchmaker's output by writing out the letters I had and turning on my Jumble solving brain. Wanted scratch PAD too. I've never heard of the game.

    I liked IN SPADES, winced at CAR BOMBS, sighed at TREMOR, but these things are constructed and submitted months to years before publication so we can't be too picky or too PC.

    Great puzzle, Joe, thanks.

    pizzatheorem 11:27 AM  

    Not having yet solved a Friday unaided, it's no surprise that I DNF. Had the whole east down cleanly except for having DEVIANT, and CLAV. This also forced TAXMEX which I somehow thought was a cute play on words. Also had ONAROLL and OTHELLO (and then REVERSO) down.

    My other fatal west mistakes were 59a. INSANELY rather than INSPADES and 17a. SEWERS instead of ORGANS.

    fikink 11:50 AM  

    Dynamite review, @treedweller! Keepin' it real.

    If I ever do get to ACPT, it will be to schmooz, not to compete, for I am not a speed solver. Usually Saturdays are done with the computer on my countertop while I cook breakfast, throw in a load of wash, let the dog run, talk FIL out of pop-overs for the third day in a row ...dipping in occasionally to get another clue to think about in my travels.

    Today's puzzle I finished in one sitting making this "Saturday" on the easier side for me. Although, the sit was more than an hour - so, @treedweller, you rock in my book!

    Loved the vernacular feel of this puzzle: IN SPADES, LORD IT OVER, A AVERAGE, EVEN MORE SO. Chunky blue dressing!

    Two Ponies 11:56 AM  

    Medium puzzle for me too ...
    except for the SW. I do not recall Air Iran (can't imagine flying with them). Clinging to saute pan gave me guns instead of revs although I tried both. On a roll? On a rant? In a rage?
    I was pleased to get in spades and loved that answer.
    Great write-up treedweller!
    The pub I frequent serves a drink called Belfast Car Bomb using Guinness, Bailey's, and Jameson's whiskey. More fun to think about than a real explosive.

    Noam D. Elkies 12:21 PM  

    Othello/38A:REVERSI is totally not a version of Go, simpified or otherwise. It's simpler for computers to beat humans at, because humans have a hard time of keeping track of which pieces have been flipped over after a handful of turns — and also because Go is played on a considerably larger board, yes, but Reversi on a 19-by-19 board is still nothing like Go.

    NDE

    Anonymous 12:30 PM  

    Mathematician weighing in here: 2, 4, 6, 8, ... is not a series, it is a sequence. The series would be 2 + 4 + 6 + 8 + ... (a divergent series).

    Eric

    joho 12:57 PM  

    So far nobody's mentioned CARBOMBS crossing with BOOM ... Yikes!

    @treedweller, what a lovely writeup! I look forward to your doing it again tomorrow.

    The SW did me in because I had REVERSo which led me to ONAROLL which did not end up with winning.

    Also, anybody else, ROSETINTED? Isn't it ROSEcolored?

    syndy 1:59 PM  

    Since I had EVER MORE SO stared at 40 across a very long time I had DE-PART and nothing fit!took out the "P" no help..but wait!Eureka.and exit makes so much more sense than expt (an odd way to abbr. expressway) was a little huffy about the easy but well yeah if I finished with out major cheating (googled ROCKLING )((figure if I don't understand the question notmuch chance)) Went to the L.A. tournament last year seems the speed solvers slow down alot without their computers ;I still don't see how the judges could read our scrawls!

    andrea claret michaels 2:04 PM  

    Hand up for finishing with an error: REVERSo :(

    Loved TEXMEX and JAMAICARUM...I suppose that with CREPEPAN and CLARET + SUPS and ATEINTO will give @jesser (and those who take their meal cues from the puzzle!!??!) something good to eat today!

    This was hard for me, had to do it in two sittings...
    My dad's wife gave me The C of MASTI? Which led to CL-- and she gave me CLEF which led me to DEFIANT otherwise I'd NEVER have finished.

    It was a sweet feeling bec she is not a puzzle doer at all...and it was my dad (who passed away a couple of weeks ago) who taught me to do puzzles on his knee on Sundays...so I felt a true connection suddenly.

    So, with that, I'm going to take a little break and pop down to the ACPT to see what everyone is up to.
    :)

    mitchs 2:19 PM  

    Thought this was a really good medium Saturday. I would have shaved several minutes had I not been convinced that 1D ended with NAME.

    Rex, good luck and please keep us posted!

    jackj 2:55 PM  

    Not the toughest of Saturdays, but there was a lot to like in Cakey's puzzle.

    The two biggest hang-ups came at 33 down, "Abbr. associated with certain shortcuts" which wanted to be ETAL until it evolved to CTRL and 29 down, the RUM clue had me trying BACARDI and even CACHACA until JAMAICA finally brought it home.

    The only LEVY in my storehouse is Achille Levy who founded that wonderful financial institution in Ventura County, Ca., "The Bank of A. Levy". Seeing that name in lights while driving up Rte. 101 to Santa Barbara always brings a respectful chuckle.

    Favorite entries included 5 down, "It may be hung on a board" for TEN, LORDITOVER and best of the bunch, AAVERAGE.

    Good luck to all at ACPT.

    Anonymous 3:06 PM  

    Didn't "A Mighty Wind" win the Grammy in 2004?

    Doc John 3:18 PM  

    Nice writeup, Treedweller.
    Good luck to you in the tournament, Rex.

    Overall, I enjoyed the puzzle. My biggest surprise came with EUGENE LEVY. I spent the whole puzzle trying to remember the name of the third member of Spinal Tap- not Michael McKean, not Harry Shearer, you know, the one who makes the movies and is married to Jamie Lee Curtis. I just now (as I'm typing this) remembered his name- Christopher Guest. Guess it wouldn't have fit, anyway. Well, congrats to Mr. Levy for winning a Grammy.

    Clark 3:40 PM  

    @anonymous 12:30 -- no one said that the clue was asking for the special mathematical term. "Series" does not only mean "the sum of a sequence . . ." it also has the meaning "a group or number of related or similar persons, things, or events coming one after another; sequence; succession" (Webster's New World College Dictionary). You're suffering from, recently discussed, expert blindness.

    @treed-well-er. Loved the write up. I also had an easier time with this one than with the last puzzle you so hilariously wrote about. And I think Pee-Wee has enough of a sense of humor to not be too put off by being the butt of an ok-how-does-this-relate-to-anything-in-the-puzzle joke.

    D_Blackwell 3:51 PM  

    Defending one's own question is a sure way to quickly find yourself a square peg being pounded into a round hole, but here goes:
    ...................

    I have a huge problem with the clue "Strategy game with disks". The 'correct' answer is REVERSI. I felt that I had heard of REVERSO somewhere and that is what I dropped in.
    ...................

    REVERSI

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reversi/Othello

    gameknot.com/pg/reversi.htm
    ...................

    REVERSO

    www.sporkle.com/games/reverso/

    itunes.apple.com/us/app/reverso/id334979538?mt=8

    www.dunasystems.com/reverso/

    "Reverso is a realization of the abstract strategy board game Reversi, also known as Othello, developed by Duna Systems for the iPhone and iPod touch. It is currently available on the App Store."
    ...................

    The 'correct' answer for the crossing clue "Burning up" is IN A RAGE. Clearly, ON A RAGE fits. I don't care for it is much as the former, but it is no less likely to be correct. Searching both versions, as a general match or as an exact match, returns millions of results.

    Stan 3:51 PM  

    Eugene Levy puzzled me too, so I fact-checked and found that he, Guest and McKean wrote the song "A Mighty Wind" (not the movie or soundtrack album) which won the Grammy. Also checked whether it's really correct to say that a CLEF sets PITCH. Answer: Yep, that's exactly what a clef does.

    Though nothing could surpass @Treedweller's previous Saturday write-up, this was also a good one -- very straight-ahead and amusing. Thanks for sitting in.

    Apparently, we're not even at the triple-A level of Minor League solving. Had to use "passive cheating" approach of making adjustments and waiting for Happy Pencil to get us out of the ELEV, MASTIE, DEVIANT quagmire.

    Best of luck to the ACPT participants. All news reports are appreciated!

    Anonymous 3:56 PM  

    Not a bad puzzle. Had me stumped last night after about 10 minutes. Came back to it this morning and finished in about 20 minutes more. Last letter in was the "L" at the LAR and CLARET crossing. Had no idea on the actor, and have never used "claret" as a color name - but I guess it must be similar to "burgundy."

    @Anon 3:06 - I think this came up in regard to an answer in a recent puzzle regarding Oscars. Levy's award was presented in 2004 for work that came out in 2003. From Wikipedia (if you take that as authoritative): "The 46th Grammy Awards were held on the February 8, 2004. They recognized accomplishments by musicians from the previous year."

    @Anon 12:30 - 2,4,6,8... is a series, it's just not a mathematical series.

    Stan 3:57 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    mitchs 4:02 PM  

    I was remiss in posting without thanking Treedweller for this peer-like commentary!

    Now, what does your name signify?

    Jainesy 4:16 PM  

    Super, super, super easy.

    JaxInL.A. 4:25 PM  

    It seems the cold I had turned into something more and now I have some meds that make me feel woozy. This means I can still (lamely) blame puzzle failure on external forces. Just could not get a toehold, even after a few google outings. I don't remember having this hard a time with a Saturday for some time.

    Love hearing from those at ACPT. Thanks for taking time to stop in. Thanks to Mr. DiPietro for a hard challenge. And thanks to @treedweller for keeping us going in Rex's absence.

    davko 5:43 PM  

    "I might welcome an outlaw puzzle with two-letter entries, but it had better be pretty damn good."

    You piqued my curiosity, treedweller; is there a rule about this? Also, compliments on the good work and looking forward to tomorrow's entry.

    Glitch 6:07 PM  

    @davko

    For the NYT, the rule is 3 letter minimum with all letters "checked" or crossing.

    But then, rules are made to be broken.

    .../Glitch

    sanfranman59 6:46 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 7:04, 6:55, 1.02, 62%, Medium-Challenging
    Tue 10:07, 8:55, 1.13, 84%, Challenging
    Wed 13:21, 11:44, 1.14, 81%, Challenging
    Thu 24:47, 19:11, 1.29, 89%, Challenging
    Fri 27:33, 26:15, 1.05, 61%, Medium-Challenging
    Sat 30:16, 30:40, 0.99, 50%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:40, 3:41, 0.99, 49%, Medium
    Tue 5:09, 4:34, 1.13, 86%, Challenging
    Wed 6:16, 5:47, 1.08, 78%, Medium-Challenging
    Thu 13:33, 9:15, 1.46, 96%, Challenging
    Fri 16:03, 12:55, 1.24, 89%, Challenging
    Sat 18:18, 17:28, 1.05, 70%, Medium-Challenging

    Jamie 7:23 PM  

    Good luck tomorrow, Rex!

    Shamik 7:53 PM  

    Just at the edge of easy-medium and medium for me on a Saturday at 19:16.

    @treedweller: very good write-up...thank you!

    And my heart? It's in Brooklyn while the rest of me is in Arizona. Wishing all those in Brooklyn a very fun time and lots of accuracy. Yes, in that order.

    Matthew G. 8:46 PM  

    Great write-up, treedweller! My solve was about the same as yours -- no cheating, but a little over half an hour. I got off to a pretty fast start for a Saturday -- my first entry was VERONA, and then I had IN A RAGE, CLONES, LANCED, DEAN, and ROSE-TINTED down in the first minute or so. The NW fell pretty fast after that, but then I slowed down considerably. Hardest parts for me were the SW, where I had POP instead of PEP for a while and resisted the double-A in A AVERAGE, and most of all the SE, where CLARET and LAR were a near-Natick for me but I guessed correctly (I knew that "Carmine" could mean the color red, so I just guessed the same was true of CLARET, which I know only as a wine, not an adjective -- glad I was right).

    Anonymous 9:06 PM  

    Sunday spoiler --

    Had FANG for "Werewolf feature" at 70D, which left me with 69A as TO KILL AS F?CKING BIRD. I felt pretty sure I had something wrong somewhere in there...

    Anonymous 9:19 PM  

    Carmine's cousin could also have been ARTHUR (as in Fonzarelli) or CHACHI. Like the anonymous guy above (who is also me) said, the SE was baffling.

    JFe 9:22 PM  

    @jainesy: wow, mega-super easy, wow!

    Sparky 11:06 PM  

    ACPT a ton of fun. Dinner with group last night Greene, imsdave, BobKerfuffle, MAC snd others. Bumped into Rex in reception area and said hello. Tried the Cryptics and totally at sea. The tournament puzzles today were challenging but it went easier than I expected. I must be learning and not know it. I've signed in as non-competitor. Feel like a lonely little petunia in a floribunda patch.

    Well done @treedweller.

    Today's NYT puzzle: got NE corner and a smattering of other words. I am pooped.

    Good luck to Rex and all competitors.

    acme 12:32 AM  

    @treedweller
    great write up, but pls delete the spoiler from Anon 9:06pm bec it REALLY spoils!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    After puzzle 5, Rex was in 40th after having left a square blank in puzzle 1!!!! otherwise he would have been in the top 20s maybe even in the final 3 for his division, and after puzzle 6 he is like 20something, but I'll let him tell it.
    Everyone is doing well, puzzlesisters, Doug P was like 18th, Patrick B 150th...we were all sitting back to back in the bar at one point, behind Mac and Nan pilla (Ulrich went upstairs to lie down, I was only there an hour or so so I missed him! :( )
    Bob kerfuffle in a very festive Hawaiian shirt, the Big E, others, I'm blanking...but I'm sure they'll write in.

    same folks as usual in top ten: Dan Feyer defending his title, Ellen Ripstein doing great, Howard Barkin, tyler, Francis Heaney, Trip Payne, Orange, Ann, Kiran, the whole cast of Wordplay...
    constructionwise, Everyone had a super tough time with puzzle #5 that had a super cute theme by Mike Nothnagel I believe. Pete Muller had Puzzle #2, Merl had puzzle #3, Judge Vic and Bonnie Gentry had #4, Maura Jacobson puzzle #6...tomorrow am is Ashish and his writing partner whose name I couldn't write pronounce or tell you if my life depended on it,
    luckily it doesn't!
    (I think they are all listed on Orange's blog)

    mac 12:58 AM  

    It's late and I have to get on an early train tomorrow for the 9 o'clock last big puzzle.

    It was a wonderful day in Brooklyn! The puzzles, except for the dreaded number 5, were good and doable. Number two just needed a little more time than they gave me....

    It's just so much fun to meet up with all the crossword people we read about and hear from all year. Met some new Rexites: JenCT, Sparky, Big E and some I can't remember now....

    After a long day of puzzles (and two meals) we had an evening of entertainment: a short play, then lots of puzzles that would take you to different locations, where you would be handed a new puzzle for a new location, etc., etc., sort of like the Amazing Race. It was amazing how most of the people got so into it, running around this huge hall trying out their passwords and getting on to the next puzzle!

    One more Sunday sized puzzle tomorrow, and then the finals. The top people all seem to have done very well, so it will be exciting. At this point it looks as if Rex is improving his former standing, he may become 33 or 22! Good luck!

    treedweller 1:05 AM  

    Thanks for the kind words--glad people enjoyed it. My inclination was to believe Pee Wee would enjoy it, too. If I was wrong, sorry Mr. Reubens.

    @acme I agree that spoiler spoils too much. Unfortunately, I can't find a way to delete a comment. Rex might be able to, but by the time he has a chance it will probably be pretty irrelevant.

    As for treedweller, it basically stems from my career as an arborist (see what I did there?)

    Willburg Will 8:00 AM  

    Great write-up. One small quibble: It's IRAN AIR not 'AIR IRAN'.

    Bob Kerfuffle 5:52 PM  

    Very late to the party because I was at the ACPT (about as close to heaven as I am likely to get) and just did this puzzle late Sunday afternoon.

    Not much to add, except that my sinking feeling at finding both CARBOMBS and TREMOR was intensified by one of my write-overs: working off the MI__, I thought 26 D was MINE, sadly a "Plowing problem" in much of the world, but I was relieved when it turned out to be MIRE.

    Bob Kerfuffle 5:56 PM  

    Meant to add, @treedweller - Your absence was noted and regretted at the ACPT. Our little group got a recommendation for a restaurant for Saturday night, and The Big E, at the time a Brooklyn resident, suggested the same venue where we had our Saturday dinner at the 2010 ACPT!

    We didn't know you were guest hosting the blog!

    treedweller 11:20 PM  

    @mac and bob
    I'm glad to know you were thinking of me. I really didn't know I was subbing, either, but it was fun to get the chance. I'll hope to see the whole gang next year.

    Peter 10:22 AM  

    Solved after my trans-Atlantic solving adventure of participating in the ACPT yesterday. Not surprised to see this counted as an easy one - I usually give up on Fri and Sat NYT puzzles but finished this one. Enjoyed the BLT and TOUPEE clues most.

    kateyule 12:13 PM  

    treedweller, Rex--
    not at all too late to delete that egregious spoiler; some of us are playing along weeks delayed, remember.

    Rex Parker 1:05 PM  

    @kate No idea what you're talking about.

    Marc 1:19 PM  

    I must really be a dolt, because I'd rate this puzzle as one of the toughest Saturdays I've seen in the last few months. It took me forever to get started and most of the day (off and on) to finish.

    I liked that there were not a lot of things that could be Googled, and some of the fill was really clever.

    Maybe I'm just having a bad week --- I had trouble with Thursday's puzzle, which is very unusual for me; and Friday's puzzle seemed tougher than usual.

    This one just did not fall into place for me. But I like puzzles that make me sweat blood, and even though I needed help with this one, I got a lot of satisfaction from all the answers I did get.

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