Role in Bizet's Pearl Fishers / WED 3-9-11 / Massey of old movies / Selective high-school org. / Hall-of-Fame hoopster Dan

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: TAILING OFF (59A: Waning ... or a hint to what is found by circling all the Ts in the completed puzzle) — circles spell out and form the outline of a KITE; circling the Ts in the grid provides the KITE's "tail"...


Word of the Day: Dan ISSEL (39D: Hall-of-Fame hoopster Dan) —

Daniel (Dan) Paul Issel (born October 25, 1948 in Batavia, Illinois) is a retired American Hall of Fame professional basketball player and coach. [...] Issel accumulated over 27,000 points in his combined ABA and NBA career. At the time of his retirement the only professional basketball players to have scored more points than Issel were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Julius Erving. He currently ranks #8 on the all time combined ABA/NBA scoring list.
• • •
Circles! Four of them. Well, nine if you actually circle the Ts ... which are "OFF" how? I didn't quite see how TAILING OFF was a "hint." I mean, I get the TAIL part, but the "OFF," not so much. Is the expression "TAILING OFF" related to a kite's tail? I thought, briefly, that the "OFF" was related to the fact that the *circles* had been left "OFF." Whatever, the reveal works well enough, I suppose. Not a very satisfying puzzle for me, but after yesterday's, it looks almost solid. Biggest issue was the center, where I took a long, long time to drop the "G" from "BLOWING" to get "BLOWIN IN THE WIND" (38A: Bob Dylan song ... or a hint to the object found by connecting the four circled letters in a diamond). I thought briefly that it was "BLOWING 'N THE WIND." Downs in there weren't immediately clear to me either—I'm talking about DRIEST (Least sweet, as wine) and HYATTS (25D: Some hotels), and especially NHS (36D: Selective high-school org.), which I only just now figured out—it must stand for National Honor Society. I have never seen that abbrev. in a puzzle. Ever. Appears to be a first-ever NYT appearance. Sometimes "fresh" is terrible. Rest of puzzle is mediocre, but nothing's terribly objectionable. Maybe a few too many crosswordy names like LEILA (26A: Role in Bizet's Pearl Fishers) and ILONA and HEDDA and NALA and RAE and SELA, and weird geographical partials like YORBA and ILE DE.

FLYING HIGH (17A: On cloud nine) has got "CLOUD NINE" stuck in my head, which is not so terrible.


The album "KITE" (1987) by the late, great Kirsty MacColl, is one of my favorite albums of all time. Should be much, much better known. Wall-to-wall awesome.


Not much else to say. Moving on.

Bullets:
  • 21A: Commercially prized ducks (EIDERS) — I had no idea. I didn't know the down was rare enough to be "prized."
  • 51A: Discontinued Chevrolet model (COBALT) — so COBALT goes the way of the ALERO ... I don't expect its afterlife to be as pronounced.
  • 4D: Anti-honking ordinance, e.g. (NOISE LAW) — just had exchange with another puzzle blogger who didn't like this one. Seemed fine to me, but that may just be because the last two mornings, our (uh ... let's say "OCD") neighbor has been up before 5am, snow-BLOWING. The best part was when I looked outside and the snow blower was idling (loudly) while he cleared off his car. Nuts. So nuts that we don't even get mad anymore. His need to CONTROL his ENVIRONMENT is like a disease. Oh, and he Hates us, but that's another story. Anyway, we're pretty sure that running your snow BLOWer before 5am is against local NOISE LAWs, but we weren't about to call Code on him (as he has on us, multiple times, for stuff like ... chipped paint near a side attic window that No One but he can see; but, as I say, that's another story...).
  • 52D: Letter before Peter in an old phonetic alphabet (OBOE) — alphabet used by U.S. forces in WWII, apparently. In "Peter and the Wolf," the OBOE is ... the duck, right? Yes! Memory!


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

79 comments:

conomist 12:07 AM  

Meh. All around.

That is all.

Jaunty 12:10 AM  

I liked it a lot. At first there was some disappointment that the theme was "done" once I had finished the top half. Then I get to the bottom and, surprise, there's a tail! And it even incorporates the "T" in the last theme answer. Now that's a magical little reveal. Good stuff. My only issue was with the west's LEILA/ILONA/NALA ugliness, but not a big deal. A charming, clever puzzle.

PurpleGuy 12:10 AM  

Much better solving experience than yesterday. Thought the puzzle was easy-fun.
The revealer - a KITE ? Big Woo !!!!!
You want me to circle "T"s for a tail ???? Meh !!!!

Stupid gimmick, IMHO.

Glad to see the shout out to our formerly missing ACME and her relatives ;)

Knew the Dylan song. Have a 45 copy of it.

Happy hump day and Ash Wednesday all !!

Shanti-

Bob/PurpleGuy

lit.doc 12:35 AM  

Felt so little resistance as I worked through this one that I was lulled into complacency—which allowed me to (almost) screw up S Central. 48A BESTS (high-quality wrong answer) had given me 49D STate SeNator (forgetting that Lincoln had bowed out of that race to support a more viable candidate). That, in turn, gave me 59A SAILING AWAY, which I’ve seen kites do, and 63A NORBA Linda.

Puzzling has already so inured me to reeelly terrible abbrev’s, questionable theme answers, and city/river names I’ve never heard of that when Mr. Happy Pencil stood me up I was actually surprised. Worked that suspect sequence again and finally saw BEATS. Done.

I’ve got nothing against circled-letter puzzles as such, but file this one under Why Even Bother.

Robin 12:44 AM  

I have a rosebush in my backyard named "Ile De France" and I still did not recognize it in the grid, even tho it was correctly filled in (thru crosses). So thanks for that, Rex. I always find out something I did not know when I come here.

Sorry about your OCD neighbor. Hope he doesn't have a vicious dog.

I did not do any circles or tails or anything extracurricular to the actual solve. I am just grateful for that when it happens.

ACMEs 1:03 AM  

What @Jaunty said, almost word for word, tho s/he left out love for ACMES.

Loved circling to make the little tail, as I had wondered where it was...
(and it helped me undo my BEsTS/secY/CONAL?e mess)

Something inexplicably sweet about FLYINGHIGH/BLOWININTHEWIND and getting to draw a KITE!

Oh, AsIAN slowly became AVIAN
and OkapI had to evolve into an ORIBI.
Which reminds me, no ORYX awards from last year?

davko 1:04 AM  

Too many crosswordy names was bad enough, but jamming them all in one section where they cross? Ugh. Also didn't care for the fabricated NOISE LAW (4D). Nice try, but it's always been "noise ordinance" for as long as I can remember, unless I'm unaware of some regional usage.

Cluing ATTY (49D) by way of Lincoln was clever; otherwise, nothing really grabbed me about this one -- least of all its theme.

Peter Ustinov is probably the best "Peter and the Wolf" narrator of all time, though David Bowie's take on the part is worth a listen.

Rube 1:27 AM  

If your crosswordese vocabulary includes ILONA, LEILA, and NALA, then this would be a medium. If not, then you HTG. It's also possible to get ISSEL from the crosses if you decipher DEANS as "Auburn heads", a Thursdayish clue IMO, and accept the ugly NBAERS.

The "kite with a tail" theme ws cute, particularly since I added an extra "T" at the end with Terra Linda, Calif., a town a few miles north of me.

The central West of this puzzle was at least Wednesdayish to me.

LOVE Kurosawa movies. Have most of them on DVD.

Almost forgot the NE where I never heard of SLAM as a poetry fest or AGER as "wrooying". Definitely Wednesday Medium+.

chefwen 1:32 AM  

Even the puzzle is welcoming ACME back into the fold, Yeah!!!!!

Another semi-easy one, but I had fun drawing my little KITE and its tail on the puzzle. Said to my part time puzzle partner "Rex is going to hate this, he can't stand drawing on his puzzles", but he kind of liked it, go figure. 17A also fit into the theme with FLYING HIGH.

Had AsIAN flu in first, I know a little bit about golf and I was pretty sure that EsEN PAR was not the right answer, so that was pretty easy to fix.

Not up on my NBAERS so ESSEL was my last fill, never heard of the Chevrolet COBALT but what else could it be?

capcha - hello - Aloha everyone!

SethG 2:23 AM  

Not sure I understand why FLYING HIGH had no reference to the kite, where the bow is, why the ELBA/ABLE pairing was pointed out once instead of nonce or twice, why the L section is so ugly, why I can never remember the word LOGE, or why the word SAGGY exists. But I liked the theme, and sometimes that's enough.

And yeah, I know nonce doesn't mean that, but it really should.

Greene 4:32 AM  

Fun puzzle. I solve on-line so I didn't get the pleasure of drawing in the kite and tail, but I could see the general idea.

The whole collision of proper names in the northern California section of the puzzle gave me fits: LEILA crossing with ELLIE and ILONA. Wow, that really took the wind out of my sails, or made the tree eat my kite, or some such metaphor. Speaking of kite-eating trees, wasn't there a LEILA character in Peanuts? Nope, I'm wrong. I'm thinking of LILA, the little girl who was Snoopy's original owner. Still, a Peanuts reference, however tangential, would have made a fun addition to this puzzle. Love that whole kite-eating tree business.

Last entry to fall was the fiendishly clued ATTY. Could not see this for the longest time since I had BESTS for BEATS and SAILINGOFF for TAILINGOFF. Not knowing ISSEL and COBALT did not help matters.

Finally got it all worked out, but those 2 problem areas made this sort of a humbling Wednesday for me. Serves me right for working the puzzle ABED.

Oh, agree with others about 14A. You simply can't have enough ACMES in the grid. :) Great, now I'm going to have Sondheim's "Multitudes of AMYS" running through my head all morning, except I'll be hearing "Multitudes of ACMES."

Matthew G. 6:07 AM  

DNF because of the central west. The crossing trio of obscure female proper names -- LEILA, ELLIE, and ILONA and their respective clues are all unknown to me -- did me in. Got through the rest of the puzzle in respectable Wednesday time, but after ten minutes of banging my head against the west I gave up.

That didn't stop me from completing and enjoying the themed part of the grid, which I enjoyed, though I share Rex's sentiment that TAILING OFF is a so-so reveal.

joho 7:57 AM  

Loved finding the TAIL! I'm also one who is tickled by drawing on my puzzles and finding flying kites and such. The theme was like a fresh breath of air.

Only stumbles were at NOISEbAn before LAW and the aforementioned AsIAN before AVIAN. @Rex, thanks for the WOTD, I'm surprised I didn't know ISSEL after learning of his amazing scoring record.

Thank you, Peter!

retired_chemist 8:56 AM  

Medium and meh. I'm not a fan of these gimmicky puzzles. Did not associate the T string with the kite tail until I read it here.

SW was my greatest time problem - put down IMPALA @ 51A and 62A as TART. The squares filled in but the downs were of course garbage (IATH, MBAE, PLRR, NBAETS). And I didn't check that section until late in the game. With BESTS @ 48A, I had Mr. Lincoln as a SATY. Teachable moment: if you fill in a section from only the acrosses, be suspicious and check it immediately.

ONE OVER @ 54A also didn't help.

captcha obist - almost the player of 52D.

efrex 9:04 AM  

Cute enough theme for me, and NOISELAW and NBAERS are just fine in my book. Side sections were just ugly, though, with the combined proper names (LEILA, ELLIE, ILONA, HEDDA) and crosswordese (OLLA, ORIBI, RAE). Those parts messed up an otherwise enjoyable puzzle.

@Greene: Thanks for the obscure Sondheim reference. "Company" is one of my all-time favorites, and while I like the song, I'm glad they cut it from the show.

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

The puzzle was easy enough for me. But too heavy on crosswordese. The theme answers were OK but the kite and tail gimmicks seemed to me a bit forced. Also having to "connect the dots" detracted from the enjoyment and added time. Finished in under 20 minutes though. Did not bother checking on Google. So had ISSEN on 39D and had no idea what COBANT meant on 51A.

Leslie 9:08 AM  

I'm on the liking-the-drawings bench. Biggest difficulty was NBAER and the actual NBAER himself.

Rex, your neighbor sounds absolutely awful and a little mentally off. (Brings to mind Sartre's definition of hell.) Is this guy equally obnoxious to ALL his neighbors, or are you the designated scapegoat?

mmorgan 9:11 AM  

Luckily, I only had a 'G' in BLOWIN['] for a nano-second.

But I didn't know ISSEL and that messed me up on both 44A and 45D. Oh well.

This felt like 3 or 4 different puzzles. But I liked the trick much, much more than yesterday's.

Agree with @efrex on the song, but glad to have a multitude of ACMES here!

foodie 9:19 AM  

I like it because it's evocative. The fact that you have to stop for a second, discover the KITE, FLYING HIGH and it's TAIL BLOWIN IN THE WIND, it makes a picture, both mental and physical. And given that we're in the dregs of winter, thinking about a summer day with flying KITEs makes me smile.

The last letter I entered, ironically, is the L in LOBED... True enough about brains, but not the way I think about them. Another example of what Rex has called "Professional Blindness"!

chefbea 9:19 AM  

Had Asian before avian also. Thought the clue for Elba was really stupid.!!!

jesser 9:23 AM  

Circles didn't print, so thanks (once again) to Rex for explaining the reveal. Puzzle went down with no resistance and only one writeover, where I wanted BEsTS at 48A, but Honest Abe gently prodded me to what you Across Lite people would call Happy Pencil Land.

Rex, I feel for you about your neighbor. I have one of those. He even tried to get a petition going about my property. I found out about it from all the neighbors who called to say he asked them to sign it and they said no. Effing jerk.

Omerse! (With a long e at the end, it's about all you can say about asshole neighbors) -- jesser

Bob Kerfuffle 9:39 AM  

Solved the puzzle, failed the meta. Had to read Rex's blog to understand why that little squiggle of T's constituted TAILING OFF.

Actually, as I did the puzzle I thought it was one big joke, with 38 A, 59 A, and 54 D all unconnected (and the last worthy of consideration only because long-winded clues usually relate to the theme), only four circles appearing in the printed grid, and the add-your-own-circles requirement. Of course, in the end it all makes sense, so I count it as weird but worthy. (Just too clever for me!)

hazel 9:56 AM  

I feel for you guys and your mean-spirited neighbors. I would have a permanent stomach-ache being surrounded by such ill will. The 5 a.m. snowblowing would add a daily headache to that. We're surrounded by holy-rollers here, one of whom occasionally makes a racket blowing leaves, but they're always praying for us, so we let it be.

I went back and forth on whether or not I liked this puzzle, but came down on the like side. A lot of obscurities, but I think kites are cool.

Kurt 9:57 AM  

Liked the puzzle. Seemed like a solid Wednesday to me. But I had a problem with the ORIBI/AKIRA crossing. I've never heard of either. ORIBI has been in the NYT puzzle four times in the last five years. AKIRA is a little more popular, but not by much - eight times in the last five years. I'm not calling a Natick, but that crossing surely was tough for me.

Thanks Peter Collins.

Kurt 9:58 AM  

Liked the puzzle. Seemed like a solid Wednesday to me. But I had a problem with the ORIBI/AKIRA crossing. I've never heard of either. ORIBI has been in the NYT puzzle four times in the last five years. AKIRA is a little more popular, but not by much - eight times in the last five years. I'm not calling a Natick, but that crossing surely was tough for me.

Thanks Peter Collins.

Kurt 9:59 AM  

Liked the puzzle. Seemed like a solid Wednesday to me. But I had a problem with the ORIBI/AKIRA crossing. I've never heard of either. ORIBI has been in the NYT puzzle four times in the last five years. AKIRA is a little more popular, but not by much - eight times in the last five years. I'm not calling a Natick, but that crossing surely was tough for me.

Thanks Peter Collins.

jackj 10:09 AM  

Oh, look!

Pete and Will have made a kite!

Let's fly the kite!

Oh, look at the kite soar; flying high and blowin' in the wind.

Isn't kite flying fun!

Oops, the kite is dropping, is the kite tailing off?

Can you make a kite? Will it fly like Pete and Will's kite?

Yes it will! It'll be fun!

Let's make a kite!

CoolPapaD 10:30 AM  

Loved this puzzle. My sentiments echo those of @foodie (weird how often that happens)! Blowin' in the Wind and Peter and the Wolf evoke vivid memories from 4th grade music class.

Few things in life are as amazing as seeing the smile on a young child's face the first time he or she takes control of a high-flying kite, getting slowly pulled along the beach.

connie a 10:30 AM  

@ Rex: Oh, so I see that after one Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin is rubbing off on you w/ "nuts." So cute.
But you bring up a good point: where is the awareness of the social contract and neighborliness these days? I live next to people who have a Koi pond...in NYC. This makes going out in the garden between May and November impossible: the mosquitoes are as big as Stealths, relatively speaking.
North Pole, anyone?

Two Ponies 10:30 AM  

Nice Spring theme. An appropriate follow-up to yesterdays big snooze in that there are no other T's in the grid except the kite tail.
Eiders are indeed highly prized. They are protected by law and, last I heard, the feathers could only be taken from abandoned nests, never directly from any duck.
Rex, Your neighbor sounds like a nightmare. Hopefully Karma will take care of him. Confronting such people seems out of the question for fear of revenge.

Lindsay 10:42 AM  

No. It's Noise Ordinance. Not Noise Law. Case closed.

Rex, I feel your pain. I have an ICU in my backyard.

CoffeeLvr 11:05 AM  

Posting before reading Rex or others' comments (will be back later.) I realize this is really, really rude - I am implying my thoughts are more important than yours. Not true, just in a hurry to get out of the house, and if I don't post right after solving, I can't remember my thoughts about the puzzle.

Well, if yesterday was perhaps easier for keyboard solvers, today was definitely not, at least for the inexperienced AcrossLite solver. I did use the "Pencil" function to turn all the T's a different color, but it wasn't much help.

Biggest problem: the long clue for 59A was in such a tiny font that I read "waning" as "warning" and ran the alphabet in my head twice for the initial letter, with no success. I was stuck on BEsTS for BEATS, so kept trying to parse Lincoln's role as a ST (state) something. Unsure of YORBA Linda, vs. something else. So that whole center south was a MESS. Also was stuck on AsIAN flu, instead of AVIAN and couldn't figure out more than PAR in the golf response.

I liked seeing "poetry fest" crossing "sonnet subject" in square 10. My grandmother loved Burl IVES, but I couldn't remember him on the first pass through. Perhaps I am worrying too much . . . if the clue for 11D is true.

Captcha: cussem, what you do when you feel IRE for the constructor and editor.

quilter1 11:13 AM  

I didn't mind it. I've been missing doing the puzzle while away and I was pleased this was so easy. I've already printed out the last five days and look forward to solving and reading the comments.

Our anniversary trip was great, the games were good and the Delta Queen was charming. Not so charming was having left Chattanooga sunny and 50's we drove into Iowa in the rain which turned into a blinding snowstorm. Whew! got home safe but stressed.

We have nice neighbors and we are all just fine with a little benign neglect.

Hello, Andrea. You have been in my prayers.

archaeoprof 11:20 AM  

Briefly caught the Asian flu today too. And I discontinued the Chevy Impala before the COBALT.

@Parshutr: is it true that only about 1% of golfers ever shoot EVENPAR?

mac 11:21 AM  

Good Wednesday, with a cute theme. Plenty of kites in my childhood on the North Sea coast, including the boxy one we never managed to get up. The ones we made ourselves worked much better.

Atty for Lincoln happened to be a gimme because husband just finished a huge biography of Lincoln and he has been showering me with lots of facts about him.

I also had to rewrite at tart, Asian and Yorba, where I thought I had to find a space for an h in Loma.

Awful to have bad neighbors.

PuzzleNut 11:30 AM  

This is my last diagramless of the week, so the circles and theme didn't mean much to me.
Same write-overs as ACME. Wasn't sure if the song had a G or not, but working in from each end cleared that up.
My other ongoing problem is ILONA vs ILENA, IRINA, ILENE, IRENA, etc. Probably would be helpful if I could find some brain cells to store that info.

Picky Guy 11:31 AM  

There are local noise ordinances controlling things such as not operating a snow blower at 5AM. There are state NOISELAWS controlling such things as no honking in a hospital zone.
It's just the way it is.

Masked and Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Puz was flyin' high early on, but tailed off a mite at the end. Blessings on line 14 -- it knows what I'm talkin' about.

Overall, fun solve for me. Always like those cutesy circle pictures.

Har to 44's OCD story. Old nylon fishin' line (accidentally dropped in the snow) works pretty good on early mornin' snow-blowhards. Works even better with an old stick tied onto the line. Paint chips on stick are optional.

Or...Could get 44's neighbor hooked on doin' the NYTPuz the night before. He won't get up as early then; plus, he'll come to be in awe of livin' nextdoor to a crossword wiz.

JenCT 11:40 AM  

I had BESTS also, and just couldn't give that up. Never did see the smiling pencil.

@hazel - LOL! Does all that praying do anything?

Ah, neighbors up early in the morning. Maybe you could blast some Ozzy Osbourne their way tomorrow morning???

Hiram 11:41 AM  

So-so theme & execution today. Rex is right though; it almost seems good after yesterday's fiasco. Does Will Shortz realize (or care) that on many days the L.A. Times puzzle is better than the N.Y. Times puzzle? And is Peter Collins a Will Shortz pseudonym? Inquiring minds want to know.

Sparky 12:09 PM  

There is something inexplically sweet about an ACME in tne puzzle and on the blog.

I enjoy this sort of thing. Drew in the lines and circled the Ts but missed two of them, oops. Always thought "tail off" meant to veer off in a half baked way so doesn't really fit. But what the hay? it's a puzzle. I have got to the point where if I see a clue for a Russian ruler, I say to myself, "Well how would he like me to spell it this time?"

Natick on ISSEa/COB_AT, so DNF.

Run, jackj, run.

mmorgan 12:27 PM  

@CoffeeLvr: In my version of AL, if you type an * in any square, you get a circle. It did a lovely job with those T's!

lit.doc 1:31 PM  

@mmorgan, may the gods of special characters smile down upon you for that techtoid! Works like a charm. :)

Clark 1:45 PM  

*mmorgan -- thanks. The asterisk thing works!

I'm with those who thought it was sweet. Four squares up in the corner that turn into a kite. Then a tail gets sketched in later with a few strokes of the calligrapher's pen. It conjured up early Spring, trying to fly a kite before all the snow is melted, Bob Dylan soundtrack . . .

Doc John 1:47 PM  

And that, my friends, is why I choose to add on to my house rather than move to another neighborhood. I am very lucky to have great neighbors!

Add me to the "meh" list, too.

Noam D. Elkies 1:51 PM  

In Australia/NZ/... the four circles might have shown the Southern Cross. Kite, OK, but not as interesting. Wasn't there a "fly a kite" song in Mary Poppins?

Note that the constructor had to not only put T's in the desired pattern but also avoid putting that very common letter anywhere else in the grid.

NDE

Gil.I.Pollas 2:04 PM  

Well, Boutros Boutros by Golly, after yesterday, I enjoyed this puzzle. However, I must say my favorite part was seeing Rex post the Temptations and Kirsty MacColl.

Pete 2:06 PM  

I thought about this a lot yesterday, and was saddened to have to think about it again today.

Any time you restrict your palette, as was done yesterday and again today, you of necessity force yourself into making suboptimal choices. Lots and lots of suboptimal choices. The reason for restricting your palette had better be one that results in a greater good than the series of suboptimal choices you've made, otherwise you've just made a series of bad choices for no overriding good. Yesterday's puzzle was an example of one where the bad didn't outweigh the good. Today's, I'm not so sure.

mmorgan's pointer helped a lot though.

mary poppins 2:16 PM  

@noam
Yes! You are exactly right about avoiding T's anywhere else and how hard that can be!

Warning: potential earworm below:

Mr. Banks:
With tuppence for paper and strings
You can have your own set of wings
With your feet on the ground
You're a bird in a flight
With your fist holding tight
To the string of your kite

Oh, oh, oh!
Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height!
Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let's go fly a kite!

Bert:
When you send it flyin' up there
All at once you're lighter than air
You can dance on the breeze
Over 'ouses and trees
With your first 'olding tight
To the string of your kite

Londoners:
Oh, oh, oh!
Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height!
Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Let's go fly a kite!

hazel 2:20 PM  

@JenCT - I like to think so!

sanfranman59 3:25 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)

Wed 10:45, 11:43, 0.92, 34%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:48, 5:47, 1.00, 56%, Medium

Stan 3:41 PM  

An okay puzzle that seemed more clever in retrospect. Drawing the kite was fun.

Strong agreement with Rex on Kirsty MacColl. Must get a copy of "Kite" (we've also been looking for "Tropical Brainstorm").

Look Up Guy 3:57 PM  

Definitions of noise law on the Web:

•Noise regulation includes statutes or guidelines relating to sound transmission established by national, state or provincial and municipal levels of government. After a watershed passage of the United States Noise Control Act of 1972 Public Law No. 92-574, 86 Stat. ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noise_law

ksquare 4:02 PM  

Often I see MEH in the comments. As I am a more recent follower of them, would someone please spell it out for me?
Iconicedr also miss ACME's witty contributions to them.

ksquare 4:04 PM  

Sorry! I don't know how conicedr got in there after I.

fergus 4:07 PM  

As a kite enthusiast it's hard not to be delighted by this one from Peter Collins. The KITE shape seems too elongated however, and the tail too short -- it would probably do one of those corkscrew dives and smash K-long into the ground.

Wiktionary 4:10 PM  

@ksquare -

meh

1. Mediocre; lackluster; unexceptional; uninspiring.  

2. Apathetic; unenthusiastic.  

Interjection

meh

1. (slang) Expressing indifference or lack of enthusiasm.

“What do you want for dinner?” — “Meh. I’m not really hungry.”
“That film was awesome!” — “Meh. I’ve seen better

Clark 4:20 PM  

@ksquare -- There are some 273 definitions of 'meh' at urbandictionary.com. The first page of definitions answers your question. It includes a good simple definition, a picture of Tiger Woods doing a 'meh' and an excerpt from a Simpsons episode which may be where the word comes from.

You really should have urbandictionary.com bookmarked.

william e emba 4:32 PM  

I have no knowledge of LEILA, ILONA, NALA (although I have probably seen the last one in the puzzles), but I had absolutely no trouble guessing the missing letters. Heck, ELLIE of "Dallas" means nothing to me either.

Maybe because I had DEANs in mind, I had trouble with 9D. I kept wanting to use Dizzy Dean speak: "he slud into third!"

For the flock's locale, off of P---, I first wrote in POND.

How many times must a man spray with Ban/Before he doesn't offend?/The answer, my friend, is BLOWIN' IN THE WIND/The answer is blowin' in the wind. In preparin' for Purim, I'm rehearsin' my extension of the above MAD magazine classic. Yuppity, even though this was a music question, I got it, and I was not even fooled by the missin' G.

Sfingi 4:39 PM  

@Rex - sounds like your neighbor has more than OCD problems. Some aggression issues with humans, I'd say. I'm OCD, but I'd be embarrassed if I were called out. Of course, I use a little orange plastic shovel, but then, again, it was 4 AM.
This is a guy and might kill you.

Caught Naticks at LEILA crosses ILONA, NALA crosses ELY and DEANS crosses both NBAERS and ISSEL. The last clump was sports. In my little world, Auburn is a Maximum NYS Correctional Facility. I had to read the whole article on this ISSEL character to find out he was eventually NBA rather than ABA. I thought ILONA was a picayune bit of info. If it were Raymond, that would be different.
@Jaunty pointed out that these areas were ugly, too. (Like the doctor's second opinion.)

@Pete - may I quote you, thus? "Anytime you restrict your palette you, of necessity, force yourself into making suboptimal choices." Great! Can apply to so many things.

@PurpleGuy - so true, big woof. I must say, the tail had a bit of an S-curve, though.

One word I'm tired of is ABED with its clue "not up" or "not awake." Too bad Abraham Lincoln wasn't a prankster. You could say, "I was ABED!"

CoffeeLvr 6:04 PM  

@mmorgan, thank you, the * does indeed work, faster and more effective than the "pencil."

@clarke, @ksquare, I learned the expression "meh" from my collegiate son a couple of years back. Still don't really like it, but have learned not to be offended (Mom: did you like x? Son: meh.) I am surprised to see it appear so much in this forum of late.

For Fri or Sat 6:07 PM  

Burl Ives middle name(s):

Burl Icle Ivanhoe Ives (June 14, 1909 – April 14, 1995) was an American actor, writer and folk music singer.

santafefran 7:01 PM  

@mmorgan you are a wizard! How do you come to know such magic? XX00.

Went sailing through the top half and struggled in the bottom. Went for OVERPAR since that is how I play the game, but that made WAKINGUP hard to see because I didn't have the W for WIND yet.

Also hung up with BESTS and SAILINGOFF.

More love for ACMES.


minglog--a tiny drink

Stephen 8:03 PM  

I need help with DEANS as "Auburn heads". Anyone?

lit.doc 8:15 PM  

@Stephen, school or department heads at schools such as Auburn, as in "Dean of English", "Dean of History", etc.

Jenny 8:24 PM  

The theme brought to mind Kate Bush's 'Kite' (had to look up what album it's from: The Kick Inside).

I liked SLAM. Agreed with RP about NOISELAW, but see that there's evidence for this being as acceptable as 'noise ordinance.'

And, yeah, pre-5am (or pre-7am, for that matter) snow blowers are just horrid. Not that I have run-ins with such folk since moving to Austin. Leaf blowers are right up there, though, in the Evil category. Any time of day. Check out the Leaf Blower song by the Asylum Street Spankers, an Austin-born band currently on their last tour together: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qh3o1_whqu4&feature=fvwrel
And this rendition includes with Tuvan throat singing! (Tuva doesn't show up very often in xwords, does it?)

captcha: plorkf
Is that some yet-undiscovered hybrid eating utensil?

michael 8:46 PM  

@lit.doc Dean of English? Dean of History? Not at most universities in the U.S.. Or maybe I'm a Dean of Anthropology without knowing it.

Deans are administrators higher than department chairs.

Anonymous 8:47 PM  

I should have said ex-Dean of Anthropology!

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 6:55, 6:55, 1.00, 53%, Medium
Tue 7:15, 8:55, 0.81, 4%, Easy
Wed 10:48, 11:43, 0.92, 38%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:32, 3:41, 0.96, 34%, Easy-Medium
Tue 3:42, 4:34, 0.81, 2%, Easy
Wed 5:33, 5:47, 0.96, 42%, Medium

Yahswe Sukuyugi 10:01 PM  

That's a great performance.

smoss11 1:33 AM  

I was hoping to see the famous palindrome:

"Able was I ere I saw Elbe"

smoss11 1:36 AM  

Sorry - typo

"Able was I ere I saw Elba"

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

NHS is what my National Honor Society pin has on it from 1969, Rex, if it isn't your ROTE, it doesn't exist or have legitimacy, does it? Thus was like a Monday to me who never gets a Friday, ever. Sheeeeeeesh :-)

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

Not so selective, apparently...

Dirigonzo 3:10 PM  

As a syndicated solver I was FLYINGHIGH until I came to a screeching halt at ORIB? crossing AK?RA. Could be "I", could be "A", I had nary a clue so left it blank.

Still had a lot of fun drawing the circles, though, and the prime time comments were enjoyable as always.

Waxy in Montreal 4:04 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Waxy in Montreal 4:07 PM  

I must be channeling lit.doc who 5 weeks back said "48A BESTS (high-quality wrong answer) had given me 49D STate SeNator. That, in turn, gave me 59A SAILING AWAY, which I’ve seen kites do, and 63A NORBA Linda." Made all the same errors.

NotalwaysrightBill 5:59 PM  

Syndi-late paper puzzler.

Pretty unremarkable: circle four otherwise-unrelated-but-correctly-placed letters and tell people to draw lines from one to another to make a kite shape; and then have THEM circle the four letters that make up the tail. I like kites as well as yer average bear, but the next time that Collins or another constructor thinks of acting on this sort of idea, I hope (s)he'll go FLY a kite instead. Nothing of noteworthy fun here, maybe SLIDIN somewhat excepted. Vee obviously need FUN lessons: VHERE'S the CANER?

SAGGY is pretty sucky, for the same reasons that SUCKY SHOULD be; but the language does what it does: reckon I'll see it in xwords again but thankfully never hear it in real life.

More concerned about NBAERS. Seeing alot of this pretty ugly but equally inevitable sort of word-making. Next step will be calling what NBAERS do on a basketball court NBAing. I'm PMSing just thinking about it.

Maybe we should have a whole government department of making-the-culture-and-especially-the-language-hold-still-except-if-Congress-agrees-to-a-change, like the French do. Right: so if ya can't say it right, don't say it at all (if ya can't be French CORRECTLY, don't be French at all). Wonder what people will opt for? So how's all that veil-banning-in-the-name-of-cultural-central-planning thing working out for ya, Pierre? Really? GHALI (a la Gomer)!!!

lodsf 9:52 PM  

[3/9 syndic. Apr’11] Enjoyed the kite & tail 5 weeks later. Like seeing the Bob Dylan song – know right off it was BLOWIN’ (saw Bob Dylan once when it was “Joan Baez With Bob Dylan” – now there’s an ‘ager’ indicater!). Have an eider down comforter that was a wedding present to my parents – it’s really (really) warm. Glad to see ACME and glad to see Acme’s comments re-appearing here. Thanks for the puzzle, Peter A. Collins.

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