Rock bassist Weymouth / THU 3-24-11 / Muckraker Tarbell / Camp historic Mormon expedition / Ruth chaser 1961 / TMZ twosome

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: JETS — single circle opens each of 4 long theme answers; these four circles spell out JETS, which, in turn, is the clue for every long theme answer (all of which are clued [See circles])

Word of the Day: TINA Weymouth (55D: Rock bassist Weymouth) —
Martina Michèle "Tina" Weymouth (born November 22, 1950, Coronado, California) is an American musician, best known as a founding member and bassist of the New Wave group Talking Heads and its side project Tom Tom Club (co-founded with husband and Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz). (wikipedia)

• • •

Circles, clueless answers, and answers that are really clues (here, with the "answer" in every case being JETS) are all things I tend Not to like in my puzzles. The last category especially bugs me, as the resulting fill is usually somewhat forced and not totally natural-sounding. That said, this puzzle was executed about as well as a puzzle of this type can be. Circles actually add an interesting twist (and an interesting limitation on the theme answers). All theme answers are exactly 15 letters long, and, with the slight exception of ENGINES ON A PLANE, feel like very believable crossword clues for JETS. DANO was a mystery to me (36A: Paul of "There Will Be Blood"), but everything else felt very familiar, with only the clues providing difficulty (this is a good thing). So, despite moments of exasperation, I liked it fine.

Had no idea how to get to YEAGER from the clue: 48D: Flier of the X-1—no idea what an "-1" is. Also no idea (until I had just one letter left) what [Keen] could possibly be if not SHARP (my first answer). SWELL? So it's dated slang, like NEATO. Argh. That little region roughed me up a bit. Clue on TRAPS was good but vicious (19D: Green surroundings?). I had no idea. TRACT? TRAIL? Weirdly, I wanted SAHIB (35A: Title of respect) from the get-go, but wouldn't put it in because TRA-S didn't seem plausible as a potential answer for 19D. Thought clues on LUTE (16A: Subject of a lesson for Katharina in "The Taming of the Shrew"), SHAW (65A: The 1999 comedy "She's All That" is based on his work), and ZION'S (18D: ___ Camp, historic Mormon expedition led by Joseph Smith) were all pretty hard. On the other hand, I had good luck with ATELIERS and PIE PLATE (39D: Makeshift frisbee), putting both of them in right away (once I got a cross or two to confirm them). West gave me perhaps most trouble of all. END AT just sounded wrong as answer for [Finish on], and ALOHA shirt (41A: ___ shirt (colorful short-sleeved attire))??? In America, we call them "Hawaiian shirts" (I feel as if I've written that exact sentence before). And DANO, as I say, is no one to me.

I almost made a stupid mistake at 66A: Unveiled, writing in BORE as if it were the past tense of "bare," when of course it's the past tense of "bear." Luckily, I love Talking Heads and knew TINA Weymouth, who gave me the "A" that showed me that [Unveiled] was an adjective, not a verb=>BARE.

  • 23A: Muckraker Tarbell (IDA) — pretty much the top of the IDA list.
  • 43A: Ruth chaser in 1961 (MARIS) — one of the few very easy clues in the puzzle.
  • 32D: Kindle download (E-BOOK) — got slightly confused here, as I thought that EBOOK was a specific format that Kindle did not, in fact, handle. . . but E-BOOK is just a general term for electronic book, and in that sense, this clue is fine. I mostly use my Kindle to read the NYT (I pay for the privilege, so all this new paywall stuff is just noise to me right now). Read a bit more of "Count of Monte Cristo" on my Kindle today, in fact. It was a snow day (lousy Smarch!) and family was home, so not a lot of work happened. Mainly, this happened:

And a little bit of this:

Could've been worse.

See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. though she won't see this today, probably, all my love and best wishes to my good friend (and fellow crossword junkie) who underwent major surgery yesterday. Just got notified that all went well. Can't wait to have you back, sweetheart.


Pete 12:17 AM  

Ah, the NY Jets - the only team in any major sport whose fans seem genuinely proud that they can spell the team name. I mean seriously, even the Mets' fans seem to take that for granted.

I've decided that I'm a themeless guy. You could and a fascination with anagrams to your list of things Not to like in puzzles and you'd get closer to my list. It takes a really good Circle/Asterik/Self Referential puzzle to make it worth it, and this one just barely met the mark. Perhaps because I could pull out my Jets joke.

She's all that = Pygmalion? Dunno 'bout that.

chefwen 12:19 AM  

I would like the one that looks like a cheeseburger please. I've been on a SLIDER kick lately.

Here in Hawaii we call them Aloha shirts, we also have Aloha Fridays.

This one was on the tough side of medium for me. I had cups in at 51D which really screwed me up, so it took me forever to get the JETS theme. Canada 51A sure didn't help matters either. Finally got it sorted out but not without breaking a sweat.

PurpleGuy 12:29 AM  

Damn blogger lost my comment.

I enjoyed this puzzle.The downs came fairly easily and made getting the long crosses gettable.

Hawaii is a state in America, so ALOHA shirts was a gimme. Would be redundant to call them Hawaiian shirts in Hawaii. I have quite a collection, having spent many Christmases and summers there. Turtle Bay on the north shore of Oahu would even save a room for mom and me each Christmas. Fond memories.

If you turn the puzzle sideways, the circles are in the position for ENGINES ON A PLANE. I liked that.

JEZEBELS crossing ATELIERS made me smile. Sometimes I just can't help myself ;)

Nice writeup and pictures Rex. Thanks.

Have a wonderful Thursday all.

Shanti -

PurpleGuy 12:33 AM  

Being an English major, as well as a retired teacher, I apologize for the lousy wording of my opening statement above. It was much more coherent in my original post. Frustrated at having to remember all that I had said before it disappeared.

Thanks for understanding ;)

foodie 12:45 AM  

I solved this one from the bottom up. So got TEAM FROM NEW YORK and determined it must be METS. That M at the top sat there for the longest time confusing the works.

Even after I worked around it and wound up with JACUZZI the NE was a mystery that took a while to untangle. EMERY was plain evil.

Lovely pics, Rex :) Gorgeous daughter, and the colorful cookies match the hat stripes!

Anonymous 1:03 AM  

Rex, you continually amaze me. You know so much and yet so little at times, when it comes to CW puzzles. Chuck Yeager is the original astronaut, not because he went into space but because he was the original test pilot of jets and rocket engine planes (X-1) who had the right stuff. Forget about Alan Shepherd and John Glenn, because Chuck Yeager was the pilot who led America into its space program. He was America’s last great space cowboy.

syndy 1:03 AM  

More circles!!! pretty sure an x-1 is any untried jet plane and that called for Chuck Yeager!! Must have been in my wheelhouse cuz I found this one easy for a thurs.and less than exciting: but man those are some SWELL looking cookies!!

CoffeeLvr 1:17 AM  

Rex, your day was very well spent! Good that you took some pictures to save the memories. Your daughter is lovely.

I was held up far too long in the Mid-Atlantic; "Don't be A jERk!" was in place for quite a while. SAjIB seemed a reasonable variant, but I had confused the title with the name. I know YEAGER from "The Right Stuff," so when I could remember him [on the next pass through the puzzle], YORK forced the very appropriate HERO. It took guts to sit on top of a rocket. Yes, the X-1 was not a jet; it had one rocket engine, and had to be air launched from the bomb bay of a B-29. (Refreshed my memory with Google.)

(Finally) saw the theme with the SHARKS' RIVAL. So I was not expecting any other NY TEAM as I worked my way back up the grid.

I hope I can sleep tonight. Time to go try. I see Anonymous @1:03 and Syndy have also sung Yeager's praise, while I wrote my post.

lit.doc 1:45 AM  

32 minutes is encouraging, compared to the sneering red 99:99s I was clocking on Thursdays a year ago. But I’d feel better about it if almost a third of my time hadn’t been spent making sense of five squares in central N. Worse, the fill seems so obvious after the fact. Maybe I should get some sleep.

I’ve never seen Boston Public, so JERI Ryan was a stranger, though I should have seen JEZEBELS a whole lot sooner. Paul DA?O was also a snag, despite having seen the movie a couple of times. A name-challenged evening.

And I soooooo wanted more squares to work with on 1A.

Ah, good, I see Rex has posted. Me too re ALOHA shirts. ALOHUH? If not “Hawaiian” I’ll accept “parrot-head” shirts (a Jimmy Buffet residuum), but ya don’t wanna disrespect obnoxiously loud, tasteless shirts. Of which I have a closetful.

@CoffeeLvr, I wasn’t gonna say anything, but, since I’m apparently not the only one, me too stuck for a long time with SAJIB crossing “Don’t be a JERK”.

DJG 2:19 AM  

"O, memSAHIB, Bart. Rabbi has memo." --Kid in genius school to Bart Simpson.

Solid puzzle today. I enjoyed it.

JaxInL.A. 3:16 AM  

Where's the grid?  We get _two_ songs from an obscure 80s pop family just because they called themselves The Jets, but no grid?  (That is meant to sound playfully cranky, but on re-reading I realize that I can't manage that level of subtlety in a blog post. Sorry.)

Did not get a chance to post Wednesday so I sat and read Rex's unusually chatty, yet almost poetic, write-up and all of your delightful plays on words (in English and Latin, how cool is that?) all in one go. What fun!!!!! (to quote @acme)!!! Even the captchas made me laugh. Everyone here delights in playing with language, and your cleverness, erudition and good humor make my day every time.  

And speaking of time, I had one of my fastest Thursdays on this Livengood puzzle, coming in well under half an hour! No precise time because of helping with homework, chatting with homestay student, etc. while solving, but the timer said 31 and change, so I'm claiming it.  I share @lit.doc's feeling of accomplishment in improvement.  

Doubly so since I got all the way to IDA before I made a single mark in the grid.  I groaned a bit when I saw the constructor, and again when I saw the self-referential clues. I usually hate those. But as Rex said, he handled it very well. Like @foodie, I ended up solving from the bottom up, and nearly had a Natick in the NW because I gave JACcuzI two Cs and one Z, which made that Mormon expedition impossible. And I loved the clue for ATELIERS, though it was my last entry and nearly stumped me.

Can't wait to see what @The Bard decides to post today. Sorry for running on a bit. Better get to sleep. 'night.

jae 3:53 AM  

I liked this one. Got the theme early and it helped, hence this was on the easy side for me. Yes for YEAGER = x-1= Right Stuff. DANO was also a ? for me and I've seen the movie. Smooth Thurs.!

Muskrat Ramble 4:11 AM  

Scrabbliness of JEZEBELS is awesome, but the clue, WICKED WOMEN, should be tossed out the window. Alliteration in deference to misogyny is no virtue.

eze666 7:16 AM  

Paul DANO = sullen mute teenager from Little Miss Sunshine & played opposite Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood. For once I thought this puzzle was easier than Rex did.

Greene 8:10 AM  

"How long does it take to reach the moonaroonie?"

This strange query was to have been the first line sung by The Jets in West Side Story. Those who know the score can probably instantly place it with the appropriate melody from the opening Prologue. It's hard to believe that all that complex music was originally intended to be sung, but ultimately Jerome Robbins decided he could say the same thing better in dance, so all the Sondheim lyrics were discarded.

Found this to be an incredibly easy puzzle, but any puzzle which features the "schmusical" Jets is naturally going to be in my wheelhouse. Not usually a fan of "answers as clues" puzzles, but this one really crackled. Loved it.

The Mormon clue for ZION'S camp put me in mind of a show I saw last week while in NYC circling the periphery of the ACPT. (I just went to meet friends. Nowhere near competition level am I.) The show is called The Book of Mormon and is written by the South Park boys Trey Parker and Matt Stone with music by Robert Lopez (of Avenue Q fame). It is the most blasphemous, profane, and outright hilarious musical I have seen in 40 years of theatergoing. It opens tonight and should get socko reviews. If in NYC or environs, by all means GO!

joho 8:15 AM  

Yesterdy PEE. Today PEE.

When I did this late last night I was at first frustrated with the circles and cross referencing. Happily I found the puzzle pretty easy so the frustration didn't last long.

Original theme, I don't think I've seen it before. And just a Q and an X short of a pangram.

Thanks, Ian Livengood!

nanpilla 8:35 AM  

Since the ACPT, ALOHA shirts will always bring @Bob Kerfuffle, our "all around nice guy" award winner, to mind.

Yesterday it felt like
IGNORED AT REAGAN would have been an appropriate theme entry, but there is no I in JETS. (Sounds like something a coach would say...)

I liked this puzzle a lot, and I'm not usually a fan of circles. This one kept it to an elegant and simple foursome.

christelb_devlin 8:42 AM  

"Would they let me?" is not properly answered with COULD I. It should be MIGHT I.

This is further proof that Jets fans are illiterate.

Mals426 8:46 AM  

I never heard the term Hawaiian shirt until I came to the east coast for college. Couldn't figure out what New Englanders were thinking calling a perfectly good Aloha shirt a Hawaiian shirt.

mmorgan 8:47 AM  

Took me forever to remove SNAKESONAPLANE -- with that and ___ FEATURES in place, I first thought we were having a movie theme here.

Then it took me a while to go from SWEet (after all, "keen on" = "sweet on") to SWELL at 44D. Also had VINS at 67A for a bit. But all was fine in the end.

Again with PEE?

I admire the execution, but this was not the most pleasant solving experience.

quilter1 8:50 AM  

PEE again!

I rated this one easy, and while I don't time myself it seemed to me I went right through pretty quickly.

I enjoyed leafing through The Taming of the Shrew in my mind to find LUTE. Liked the West Side Story allusion; we recently borrowed it from the library. Did you know Richard Beymer (Tony) now resides in Fairfield, Iowa, and is a follower of the Maharishi and transcendental meditation? Poor JEZEBEL, if only she had had a better PR secretary.

Up early, busy day with appointments, I'll check in later. Have a great day, all.

begrat: fathered rodents

quilter1 8:59 AM  

Meant also to say beautiful girl, RP, you do nice work. Nice cookies, too. Snow days are good, but I'm with Danae in Non Sequitur: it is spring. No more snow please.

retired_chemist 9:01 AM  

I liked it too. Several wrong trials kept me slow: TAD @ 29D, GRASS @ 19D, SMART and the ever-popular SHARP @ 44D, and more. A couple of typos also didn't help.

Put in END AT (24D) and SAHIB (35A) with little confidence, but they were right.

Thanks, Mr. Livengood.

jesser 9:02 AM  

@ lit.doc: It's Jimmy Buffett, with two Ts. And I, too, have a closet full of those shirts, as well as 18 concert tees collected through the years. He'll be 65 this year, but he's still rocking hard, and if you haven't been top a Buffett show, you owe yourself the favor.

The puzzle: I rate it challenging for a Thursday. I got the theme pretty quickly, but the cross-referencing of ONE AM and SLEEP did not come easily At All, especially when I had ENGINES Of A PLANE, which tortured the 23D parsing for a while.

I love the word DREAMT. I can't tell you why. I just do. I do not love anything about the clue or answer for 1A. They raise my 8D.

PEE again. Seriously?

And that will be all. Happy Thursday to all the Rexians!

Aftewart! (Presumably a cream to apply after the freezing process) -- jesser

retired_chemist 9:05 AM  

I presume this was constructed before this year's ACPT - 44D thus HAD to be SHARP. Anything else would be, well, not the shout-out we would like.

The Bard 9:08 AM  

The Taming of the Shrew > Act II, scene I
[Re-enter HORTENSIO, with his head broke]

BAPTISTA: How now, my friend! why dost thou look so pale?

HORTENSIO: For fear, I promise you, if I look pale.

BAPTISTA: What, will my daughter prove a good musician?

HORTENSIO: I think she'll sooner prove a soldier
Iron may hold with her, but never lutes.

BAPTISTA: Why, then thou canst not break her to the lute?

HORTENSIO: Why, no; for she hath broke the lute to me.
I did but tell her she mistook her frets,
And bow'd her hand to teach her fingering;
When, with a most impatient devilish spirit,
'Frets, call you these?' quoth she; 'I'll fume
with them:'
And, with that word, she struck me on the head,
And through the instrument my pate made way;
And there I stood amazed for a while,
As on a pillory, looking through the lute;
While she did call me rascal fiddler
And twangling Jack; with twenty such vile terms,
As had she studied to misuse me so.

OldCarFudd 9:24 AM  

The X-1, piloted by Chuck Yeager, was the first aircraft to break the sound barrier in level flight. To my mind, doing this took even more guts than flying a rocket-propelled aircraft. That had actually been done in Germany in 1942 by the astounding female test pilot, Hanna Reitsch, who damn near died doing it. Aircraft were having terrible problems getting to the apparent "wall"of compressed air that built up ahead of them as speed increased. There was fear the plane might disintegrate, and there were reports of control reversal. The right stuff, indeed.

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

@Bard Uh, I think that the 'lute' here is a euphemism.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

They might be called the New York Jets, but they are not from New York. They are from New Jersey.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

DANO above ALOHA brought memories of Jack Lord's final comment on most Hawaii Five-Oh shows, "Book 'im Dano."

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

Re: 15D - I thought it was "yada, yada, yada" (with one "d" per).

chefbea 9:50 AM  

Had Mets for a while. Then when I got sharks rival it all fell into place.

@Rex yummy cookies and your daughter has really grown up!!

Yes Pee 2 days in a row...that would be pee pee.

Cathyat40 9:52 AM  

Had very little trouble with this puzzle; except for Sharp, no, SWift, no, SWELL!

Wondering how many others found out about Mr. & Mrs. Rex Ryan's foot fetish videos by googling "Rex" to get to this blog.

captcha: steleve - what I say to my cat, Steve, when I want him to stop pouncing on me and let me sleep late

jill brody 10:03 AM  

More and more these puzzles are puzzles and not crosswords--like today's--with less emphasis on knowing anything other than pop culture and more on being clever. A few puzzlers are still creating those that cater to us old timers, and those are always a gift.

Matthew G. 10:35 AM  

As a New Jerseyan, I feel obliged to piggyback on what Anonymous said and say ... New York can have the Jets.  Go Giants!

Anyhow, I think this may have been my fastest Thursday, but I won't know for sure until I get home tonight and check my logbook.  In keeping with my tendency to solve from the bottom up, I got SHARKS RIVAL GANG, noticed the three circled letters, and everything else was a breeze.  This is my first week of solving on the iPad (it came in the mail on Monday), so I'm adjusting to the new interface, but I think it will prove to be the fastest solving method for me.

Also, since I haven't had time to read the blog in several days because of work, I wanted to reply to Rex's response to my comment Monday about wanting more time to practice before participating in the ACPT.  I didn't mean to suggest that a low score at the tournament would be anything to be ashamed of in any external sense, or that I suffer from delusions of someday being a dominant solver, though I can see how my comment might have been taken that way.  All I meant was that I know I'll enjoy the tournament more myself if I go into it feeling like I have a decent chance of satisfying my own internal benchmarks, and I think next year is when that will be.  I will not be a contender for any trophies in 2012 or any other year!

archaeoprof 10:35 AM  

Blank squares all over until I got TEAMFROMNEWYORK.

Enjoyed the clues for EMERY and ATELIERS, and the crossing of SLEEP/ONEAM.

"To err is human: to forgive, divine; to persist, devilish."

JaneW 10:52 AM  

Note Rex's last photo, the blur of motion that is the happy dog's tail!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:01 AM  

The clue at 5D, Wicked women, caused me to think of a possible someday clue, "Wicked dinner accompaniment" . . . .

Re: 39D, Makeshift Frisbee - According to everything I've ever read, the ORIGINAL Frisbee was a pie plate, so it may be a bit odd to clue that as "makeshift."

Embarrassed to note I had YAEGER before YEAGER.

. . . . which would be "candle."

PuzzleSister 11:09 AM  

The right side of the puzzle fell first, which caused me no end of trouble because i had ______ONAPLANE and _________FROMNEWYORK, so I figured it had to be some variation on catch phrases "Snakes on a plane" and "Live from New York" notwithstanding that there was one too many blanks for snakes (which i assumed was part of the trick). Once I got _______RIVALGANG (and I had the K), it all made sense. I guess starting the puzzle in the bottom right corner, ala Tyler in the finals this year, would have been a good strategy for me on this one,

JaxInL.A. 11:12 AM  

@PurpleGuy, Blogger ate my posts so often that I developed the habit of Always copying my text before pressing Publish. It has saved me hours of frustration, as I can just paste in what I wrote if Blogger gets cranky.

Forgot to thank Rex for sharing the joy of his snow day.

88CalBear 11:30 AM  


I thought that the "could I" clue was good. I would ask my parents, "Could I stay out an hour past my curfew tonight?" I wouldn't say, "Might I..."

The back-to-back "pees" really p___ed me off, but other than that, I enjoyed this.

I still have issues with an ex-girlfriend who would say, "Gotta go pee now." That's so not hot. At least she could have said, "Could I go pee now?"

Arundel 11:35 AM  

Ooof! This one didn't fall easily. The mid-continent was just not right, and locating Mr. Happy Pencil took some doing. I had the jets and the basic answers. but a sticky o-key and a tendency toward letters left in the wrong squares had me befuddled for way too long.

@Bob Kerfuffle - here in Maine we'd say that clue is wicked good!

It's almost April and it's still snowing. Haven't we suffered enough?

william e emba 12:09 PM  

Of course the JETS are FROM NY! They moved to NJ in the mid-80s.

I did not know DANO. For that matter, I did not know TINA or JERI. But of course I knew YEAGER was the X-1 flier. Fair trade, as far as I'm concerned.

Off of -UT-, I thought Katherina's lesson might have been dUTy. For "pitch", I had pLANT, not SLANT. For "cause of shouting", off the final E, I wanted evE at first.

Shamik 12:09 PM  

I hate Blogger. It ate my oh-so-witty comment, too.

efrex 12:54 PM  

Not feeling the hate on this one. Took a lot of work, but puzzled it through, except for a Natick at the DANO/NEALE cross. Mostly strong fill, and working back and forth between the long crosses and getting the theme was enjoyable for me. Never heard of an ATELIER. Probably would've finished faster if I'd used pencil: lots of early guesses turned out to be right, but I wasn't willing to commit to 'em.

First Thursday in a month that didn't chew me up completely, so I'm grateful for that.

Dough 12:58 PM  

@Rex, it seems to me you are enjoying the puzzles more solving on paper, rather than online. I find that true for myself, as well. Don't know why. The medium is the message? I think I find solving on paper happier, less time-driven, more enjoyable and leisurely. Do you agree? Thoughts, anyone?

John V 1:14 PM  

Blogger is a censor, too? Ate my "pees be with you" witticism (not). Curse you blogger!

Andy from Jersey 1:15 PM  

Flier of the X-1—no idea what an "-1"

Chuck "I broke the sound barrier" Yeager is a national hero. The X designates an experimental plan "-1" was first in the series.

The X-1 was a jet powered plane

aloha carla michaels 1:22 PM  

Wow, very cool that the JETS went down, were all the first letters of the clues AND all 15 across (4 are hard!!)

Many props to Ian! (Or is that Prop engines? I also count YEAGER as a theme bonus!!! Tho I too wanted to spell it YaeGER, which I'llbet was the original spelling, prbably with a J even!)

Yes, another PEE bleedover, or should I say, "leak" over?!

We should TEAM up as the LAST entry I had was TEAMFROM NEWYORK, I had TEAM FROM NEtwORK!!!
THo StELL was not SWELL!

As for ALOHA shirt, @Rex could have reprised the photo from two days ago! :)

There were two big NY Shoutouts I want to make before I finally fly home tonight:

One is that I saw a fantastic "Taming of the Shrew" that is still playing at 52nd between 10th and 11th by the Guerrilla Shakespeare company and it's FANTASTIC and not a lute in sight, so I had JUST seen the play one week ago and had no idea!!!
The actors are phenomenal, it's a funny, clear, wild production.

The other shout out is for a wonderful picture of TINA Weymouth with Fab Freddie at the Music 3.0 exhibit currently at the MOMA (2nd floor). The picture which I wish I could embed here is one of ten photographs by my friend Laura Levine who also took that wonderful pic of Young Caleb that appears on this blog from time to time. She was a rock photographer (mostly punk) in the 80s and is at the F*^&ng MOMA!!!!! And yet when I arrived at her exhibit she bragged about MY being a NY times puzzle constructor, how crazy is that???!!!

Anyway, thos ein NY, pls check out both the MOMA and the Shakespeare play, neither will disappoint!
And it will take some of the sting from the Shrew/JEZEBEL combo from young, fab Ian today!

Anoa Bob 1:37 PM  

DNF in the middle left. Didn't know NEALE or DANO and didn't know GENOA was a salami option. JEZEBELS crossing JACUZZI FEATURES was the high point for me.

First time I saw Ian Livengood as a byline I thought it was a pen name, a play on "I am living good".

BigSteve46 1:55 PM  

Much more enjoyable doing puzzle with writing instrument than on-line, IMHO. I have elevated myself to using a felt-tip pen - to increase the difficulty level a bit. Doing a x-word puzzle sitting at a computer just doesn't feel right, although probably just more neo-Luddism from me.

jackj 1:58 PM  

One might think the prepubescent titters were all played out with yesterday's "pee" but, no, we get it again, this time with a risque touch by referencing the nautical toilet, "head" in the clue.

Hopefully this silliness has played itself out and we can get back to grown-up puzzling.

My gripe aside, I thought the theme was clever but the puzzle was much too easy.

Sigmund 2:00 PM  

@anonymouse 9:25 a.m.:

Sometimes a Cigar is just a Cigar.
Otherwise, I don't know what you are
alluteing to.

John 2:02 PM  

A lot of people would say that the Jets are a team from New Jersey.

Anonymouse 9:25 2:31 PM  

@Sigmund - The fact that you found it necessary to specify that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar kind of proves that the rest of the time a cigar is a "Cigar". As is occasionaly a "Lute". In fact, they're the same thing.

Jus Sayin.

jae 3:28 PM  

@Dough -- I got an IPAD for Christmas and started doing the puzzles on it. I couple of weeks ago I switched back to paper for the end off the week puzzles for all the reasons you mentioned.

Doctor E 3:39 PM  

I can't resist piling on: in Hawaii and California--both parts of the United States--we DO call them aloha shirts.

Rex Parker 3:41 PM  

Grew up in California. Lived there til I was 21. Never heard of "Aloha shirt."

Stan 3:41 PM  

Great understatement in the theme (just four circles, with minimal explanation). NICE solid puzzle, Ian.

Andrea, we've seen your friend's work at the Portland [ME] Museum of Art -- in an exhibit called "Backstage Pass." She had eight photos and an essay in the catalog! We'll try to catch the MoMA show...

sanfranman59 4:05 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 15:55, 19:09, 0.83, 22%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 7:34, 9:14, 0.82, 23%, Easy-Medium

FWIW, I've lived in California for 15 years and been to Hawaii several time. I don't recall ever hearing the term "aloha shirt". Then again, I don't really keep my ear to the rail fashion-wise.

jackj 4:11 PM  

@jill brody 10:03 AM-

You are not alone in your wish to have constructors create crosswords, not puzzles.

Octavian 4:13 PM  

Super-excellent puzzle -- loved it a ton. I love clueless answers and thought the JETS conceit was fantastic.

Was in a daze as to the theme until seeing SHARKS and then GANG ... and then noticed the J of BAJA (first answer) and then ... oooohhhh ... i get it .... so put JETS in the circles ... and it all started to make sense.

This was great, the very definition of the PERFECT THURSDAY PUZZLE.

P.S. -- BOOK 'EM DANNO. That is a hilarious subtheme. And moreover, I should add, the new HAWAII 5-0 is great.

Bill 4:19 PM  

Monday 3/21: 5:02
Tuesday 3/22: 6:02
Wednesday 3/23: 9:50
Thursday 3/24: 8:57
No googling needed on any of this week's puzzles

Noam D. Elkies 4:21 PM  

Neat puzzle. 60A:SHARKS_RIVAL_GANG gives a West Side Story reference and the best Rex can come up with is some generic r*ck from a band that decided to call itself the Jets? Feh. Thanks to Greene for the Sondheim tidbit.

All I knew of 46A that they were a TEAM_FROM_SOMEWHERE but the concluding .....RK left little doubt. Guessed the g*lf clue for19D:TRAPS quickly; 43A:MARIS, on the other hand — random b*seballer from 50 years ago, 45D:YADDAYADDAYADDA...

NDE (captcha = canes, which again partly defeats the purpose...)

Anne 4:51 PM  

This was much harder for me than most everyone else. I had to put it down and come back later and never did see jets. However I did finish eventually with no mistakes and I thought it was fair and fun.

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

Roger Maris - Random baseballer? The man holds one of the most important records in baseball*, America's sport. No interest in baseball, fine, but Maris certainly wasn't random.

* Most single season home runs unaided by steroids

Jon88 5:09 PM  

Very odd, that TEAM FROM NEW YORK, given that TEAM IN NEW JERSEY is also 15, and less in need of justification.

JFe 5:10 PM  

@acme: I'm going to MOMA tomorrow for a lecture; thanks for the recommendation!

william e emba 5:37 PM  

Zora NEALE Hurston is one of the great American writers of the 20th century. Memorize the name--she shows up quite often in the puzzles, and is never a Natick.

I thought Sammy Sosa held the record for most single season home runs unaided by steroids? Oh, wait, he's also been fingered. Never mind.

Jim in Chicago 5:42 PM  

I got SHARK... fairly early and since I also had BAJI, that gave me J..S for the major clue. Based on SHART I decided it must be jAWs - which then gave me endless trouble. A classic misdirect for me.

D_Blackwell 5:59 PM  

jill brody said...
"More and more these puzzles are puzzles and not crosswords--like today's--with less emphasis on knowing anything other than pop culture and more on being clever. A few puzzlers are still creating those that cater to us old timers, and those are always a gift."

jackj said...
@jill brody 10:03 AM-
"You are not alone in your wish to have constructors create crosswords, not puzzles."

The old NYT and similar crossword fuddy-duddy people just don't get it. The very definition of 'crossword puzzle' is changing. The 'new new wave' of constructors is here, and more of them are operating as independently as possible of the blah-blah-blah mass market outlets.

Shortz is doing (by far) the best at keeping up (though I think his age is showing (and perhapspriorities)).

I think that a lot of the old guard aren't even trying. The Maleska era died for good reason - so will the current era. Especially when new constructors with programming skills start to develop software as awesome as their ideas.

Let's face it, even a (the) total revamp of Across Lite and similar will still suckity-suck-suck. The possibilities of what technology offers 'crossword puzzles' is inspiring.

Anonymous 6:04 PM  

Nice puzzle. The only hiccup was the NE corner. Guessed HALO instead of AURA in 10D and UMPS instead of REFS in 7D. But googling got me JERI and IDA and that resolved everything.
My ability to solve the entire puzzle with just two googled words places this puzzle firmly in the easy category. But it was fun to solve it.

mac 6:25 PM  

Delightful puzzle! Had a hard time getting toeholds, but Jets appeared and then everything feel into place.

I also never heard the term Aloha shirt, but I have a little tidbit for you: Bob Kerfuffle's shirt isn't Hawaiian, it's Costa Rican!
@Bob: funny wordplay!

For 9D I wanted haridans, also because I don't know Jeri (or Dano). Like that word, and I don't think I've ever seen in a puzzle.

@Dough: I solve the NYT on paper, any other puzzle I do online. I find I get a much better sense of it on paper.

@ACM: I bet you are right re Jaeger. Maybe even a Jaegermeister! Travel safely.

steve re 6:44 PM  

Mr. Rex, the Bell X1 was the first aircraft to exceed the speed of sound and caused the first sonic boom. Developed by North American Aviation and the pilot, Chuck Yeager became the first person in the world to break the sound barrier.

The Big E 7:01 PM  

First off, it was AWESOME meeting so many bloggers and Rex himself at the ACPT this past weekend! If I am a little late in writing that, it is only because I have been getting myself situated in Washington, DC, having just moved down from my apartment three blocks from the ACPT Marriott hotel! :-)
Loved today's puzzle, but as a lifelong sci-fi geek, would prefer to see Jeri Ryan clued with a "7 of 9" or Voyager reference!
Hope all is well with everyone, and happy blogging!

Give-It-Up 7:23 PM  


It would be very inefficient to run a dictionary attack on captchas on the off chance that the [pseudo]random characters actually spell a word at the time you need it "decoded".

That's why the captcha specification doesn't bother checking, CANES is as random as NESCA for the purpose.

And what % of the time do you see a dictionary word anyway?

Remember, the captcha is only valid for a limited time, 2 minutes by default, not much time for those bothering to attack.

Better off attacking passwords, they're not such a moving target, and the "reward" is greater.


Anonymous 7:33 PM  

I was a bit taken aback by Rex's comment "Here in America we call them Hawaiian shirts." Maybe in your America out there on the East Coast, but out here on the West Coast, and in Hawaii, we call them Aloha shirts. And we like to think that we are part of America.

Tita 7:45 PM  

@Dough - Pencil and Paper for me!
a) the ultimate in portability, and the batteries don't run out.
b) I usually do the puzzle at night in bed - I really don't need to haul a smart phone, pad, or any other electronic device to that room - still don't have a tv there...
c) My internal inference engine works loads better when I can doodle in the margins (I print the puzzle on regular paper.
d) I just love the tactile feel of mechanical pencil on paper. Sometimes the doodles are unrelated to the puzzle, but are tangents made in my own mind, not courtesy of google being just a window away...
e) MUCH less temptation to cheat!

D_Blackwell 7:48 PM  

Best to attack passwords to computers to which you can get 'random' access (low likelihood of identification). It should only take a few minutes to access every username, password, and relevant website. Whether dedicated files (likely poorly hidden or protected) or pitifully weak browser add-ons or built-ins, you can own someone's life in a few minutes.

If time is an issue, use a high capacity micro-drive (new, never used) and clone the entire system or selected drives or directories (including hidden directories. Then peruse the data at your leisure, especially if you do need to crack any passwords along the way.

It's not worth getting into, but captcha attacks are pointless, and not at all hard to sidestep. Defeating them directly isn't even worth the effort - but very doable with dedicated video add-on.

Noam D. Elkies 8:34 PM  

@Anon 5:05 - Well it's still "America's sport" in that it was invented (or at least popularized) here and relatively few people outside the USA care much about baseball. But nowadays it seems that ever fewer people in the USA care much about it either, at any rate not nearly with as much passion as they would have 50 years ago. When even talk-show hosts can joke that baseball needs not slo-mo replay but fast-forward, it must mean that Americans are losing patience with the game in droves. Good for them, say I.

@Give-It-Up 7:23 - I'm not imagining an exhaustive dictionary attack, but rather something like what humans do with fuzzy or garbled text. If an anti-captcha program, or a human with bad eyesight, can't make out the precise letters but can narrow down the word to say 100 guesses, then choosing a dictionary word can greatly increase the odds. I haven't kept track of how often I see a dictionary word here but it must be way more than random for a 5-7 letter sequence.


ArtLvr 8:47 PM  

@ BigSteve46, I enjoyed seeing your reference to neo-Luddism, and recommend a delightful article "King Ludd's War" to all -- it's in the March 2011 issue of the Smithsonian magazine and celebrates the beginning of Luddite protests 200 years ago this month. No such person existed, and the protesters were fine with machines but wanted better machines run by decently paid workers!

The author notes "The Luddites' enduring reputation depends less on what they did than on the name under which they did it. You could say they were good at branding." Some of their edicts were signed "Ned Lud's Office, Sherwood Forest... Invoking the sly banditry of Nottingham's own Robin Hood suited their sense of social justice."

Alpine Joy 9:01 PM  

Dear Rex,

Thanks for all your great vids of the Tom-Tom Club and Tina Yeager (I mean Weymouth).

I'm happy for you that you moved up in the rankings. I, me myself & I, am the 1,359,123 greatest puzzle solver in the world. It's nice to rub elbows with you.

I find 50a, "Person's Head" [PEE] very annoying, although now I'll remember it for next time. I DON'T LIKE spelling out the names of letters! As far as I'm concerned, "P" is spelled "p"!

Imagine snow, just when it was turning so springy. Your cookies look great. The cookies that my friends have made seem to melt into shapeless stuck-on messes on many a baking sheet.

BTW, @Blue Stater, and all as well, NY Times Customer Service has begun to email me back re: the snafu we both reported re: Sunday's Puzzle download on Times Reader.

Thanks, Rex!

PastelLady 9:41 PM  

Never heard of ALOHA shirt?

Maybe never paid attention!

Term dates WAY back. Before you were born.

sanfranman59 10:05 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 6:30, 6:55, 0.94, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:50, 8:55, 0.99, 54%, Medium
Wed 13:09, 11:45, 1.12, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 16:25, 19:09, 0.86, 24%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:29, 3:41, 0.94, 31%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:32, 4:34, 0.99, 52%, Medium
Wed 6:26, 5:47, 1.11, 80%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 7:19, 9:14, 0.79, 22%, Easy-Medium

Geometricus 12:03 AM  

Had JACUZZIFEATURES first and thought that meant "bubbles" as in that's what the circles depicted. So then I wanted windowSONAPLANE because in my mind they were also circles. But I couldn't figure out what was circular with a shark ... maybe SHARKattacksign? (Circling its victim?)
Finally after an hour I went to IMDB and got DANO. The rest fell in about five minutes. Oh, the letters that go in those circles actually spell something, Einstein! Color me sheepish.

william e emba 1:06 PM  

As far as I'm concerned, "P" is spelled "p"!

Except when it's spelled "rho"?

NotalwaysrightBill 1:01 PM  

Syndi-late papler NotalwaysrightBill signing in with a Google account because the thing won't let me sign in in my usual way. Maybe it's just as well.

"Take me to the river
Wash me in the rumsumsum . . . "

I personally have something of a problem with PEE being in the same Thurspuz as JACUZZIFEATURES, though it's arguably the original JETStream.

I otherwise greatly enjoyed much about this "Wicked" offering. The world would be adorned far less delightfully were it not for oiled-up ATELIER JEZABELS.

Thanks @TheBard for the "Shrew" reference. Didn't think that "Pluck yer magic twanger, Froggy" could be improved on; but leave it to the Dude from Avon to demonstrate his paygrade with the right term: "twangler." It's too perfect!

Been trying to psycho analyze this part of @Rex's write-up: "Weirdly, I wanted SAHIB (35A: Title of respect) from the get-go." Weirdly indeed. Why not BWANA or WHITEFATHER or any of the other GREATANDPOWERFULOZ terms of colonialism (and ya KNOW that the Munchkins were callin' 'im a horse of a different color behind his back). Or, rather more to the point, why not a term less tainted? RABBI? SENSEI? COACH? M'LORD? Why SAHIB so readily? Never mind, it's probably me reacting to the claptrap of today's big shit royal wedding. Do you believe they're expecting some two billion people to watch that, some INHD? Anyway I won't be one of them; and it's not just out of jealousy for not having been invited. It's because nobody'll be wearing an ALOHA shirt.

Dirigonzo 4:20 PM  

The YEAGER clue left me with a strong sense of deja vu so I checked the comments from yesterday's (+/- 5 weeks for prime-timers) comments and sure enough, there was @Anony 12:16PM expounding on Check Yeager breaking the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 in 1947 - weird.

I liked today's puzzle a lot once the JETS gimmick revealed itself. I did not know beforehand that Calvin Coolidge was born on the 4th of July, and I probably won't remember it. Had to look up ATELIERS post-solve.

@D_Blackwell seems to know a lot about how to mount a cyber attack.

@NarB - are you suggesting that @Rex is guilty of un-PC thinking?

NotalwaysrightBill 7:41 PM  


Re: "@NarB - are you suggesting that @Rex is guilty of un-PC thinking?"

Naw, it's just that with the ascendancy of hate crime legislation I thought I'd practice a little friendly neighborhood thought police-style vigilanteism. Who knows, if I get good enough I might go pro! Been studyin' up on my "1984" methodology and I must say I find that rats-in-your-face technique riveting! No, no, @Rex is an academician: he's safe, doubtless. No diversity there. I mean deviance. You know what I mean. But the amateur hate crime sleuth handbook says how ya have to learn to follow up on anything out of place. Like when all the other bloggers had a bit of trouble sussing out SAHIB, why would it come so effortlessly to @Rex? I would have thought a little gratuitous torpidity would have been in order, if only for form. Would it have been so inconvenient to have a blank stare for a few seconds, like everybody else? Not saying that less solving time for such a clue/answer is a capital crime, yet, but anything short of five or six seconds is surely suspect and ought to be looked into for possible un-PC explanations. "Saw [35D Title of respect] and SAHIB rose instantly to mind" doesn't meet the dumbed-down lockstep test. Very well might have another dangerous "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" contestant loose and at large if extreme care isn't taken to prevent it. Naw, just practicin'. Guessin' he ate some curry chicken for lunch. Or what's in them cookies anyway? Heh heh, there I go again . . . .

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