Winter autobahn hazard / MON 3-21-11 / Joint woe afflicted Benjamin Franklin / Underground vegetable edible greens / Bottle-throwing occasion

Monday, March 21, 2011

Constructor: Patrick Blindauer & Steve Salitan

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Absolutely!" => the clue for six theme answers


Word of the Day: John TESH (32D: John who once co-hosted "Entertainment Tonight") —
John Frank Tesh (born July 9, 1952) is an American pianist and composer of pop music, as well as a radio host and television presenter. His 10-year-old 'Intelligence for Your Life Radio Show' reaches 14.2M listeners/week, and is syndicated by Teshmedia on 400 stations in USA, Canada, and the UK. 'Intelligence for Your Health' (with Connie Sellecca) was launched in 2010. Tesh has won 6 music Emmys, has 4 gold albums, 2 Grammy nominations, and an Associated Press award for investigative journalism. Tesh has sold over 8 million records. His live concerts have raised more than $20 million for PBS. In 1995 Tesh sold 50% of his record company, GTS, to Polygram for $8 million. Tesh then created Garden City Records, which he still owns today. He is also known as the longtime host of the television program Entertainment Tonight. He has previously worked as a sportscaster for the Olympic Games, a news anchor and, a reporter. [his main genre of music: NEW AGE (50A: Enya's kind of music)] (wikipedia)
• • •

A fine Monday puzzle, with nice theme density. I wanted a "YER" at the beginning of "DARN TOOTIN'," but other than that, all the theme answers felt very natural. Non-theme fill is no great shakes, but given the structure of the grid (very high on 3- and 4-letter words), that's pretty much to be expected. If you want to accommodate that many theme answers *and* make the puzzle an easy early-weeker, then there's no real way around the preponderance of short stuff. Don't have much else to say about this one, which is probably just as well, as I am dead tired after two days in Brooklyn and a bus station / bus ride experience that I wouldn't wish on anyone—hours standing in Port Authority with hundreds of other people waiting for buses that never came, with no official information to be had except by a few people who ventured out and back ... all of whom got conflicting information (no buses upstate at all until tomorrow? all the buses are actually here, they just can't get inside because a half-marathon is obstructing their path? Etc.). Very nice but overworked man at Port Authority nearly got into several altercations trying to keep people from jumping the line. All in all, an adventure I'd just as soon not have had—unlike my American Crossword Puzzle Tournament adventure, which was fabulous. About which, more later (when I wake up and have more energy). The short version: I am the 31st Greatest Crossword Solver in the Universe. Also, I am the 2nd Greatest Crossword Solver in New York State (outside NYC), and I have the *hardware* to prove it. Here's a picture of me shaking Will's hand after hearing my name called by Roz Chast:

I had no expectation of winning anything, so I was laughing out loud as I walked up to get my trophy. Best part was walking up to Will, shaking his hand, and having him ask, "Now ... what did you win?" I then panicked and thought I had walked up there mistakenly (that trophy he's holding was Not for me), but it turns out Ms. Chast had just been reading names faster than the trophy wranglers could set them up, and so ... confusion. My trophy is a bit smaller than the one in the picture, but no less trophyish. Overall, the ACPT was super good fun. Got to see lots of top constructors and lots of blog readers and other really friendly people. Had dinner last night with half of today's constructing team, in fact (the Blindauer half). Ate too much. Drank too much. Played iPhone-APP "Celebrity" too much. But again ... more later, when my wits are more about me.

See final results from the tournament here.

  • 1A: The Stones' "Sticky Fingers" and "Tattoo You," e.g. (LPS) — Neither this nor PROBE (2D: Exploratory spacecraft) (nor LOYAL, for that matter) came immediately. Had to pull out and back my way back into that corner.
  • 27D: Joint woe that afflicted Benjamin Franklin (GOUT) — a little trivia for you on this Monday morning (Sunday evening for me). Clue could just as easily have stopped at [Joint woe], but no—you get a little edification with your GOUT.
  • 37D: Underground vegetable with edible greens (BEET) — I could've sworn I had some this weekend, but I think I just *talked* about the fact that I had an "heirloom BEET salad" (delicious) the *last* time I was in Brooklyn for ACPT.
  • 44D: They're worth twice as much as fins (TENNERS) — wanted TEN SPOTS. Wouldn't fit. TENNERS was my next guess—one of two Down answers in this puzzle that run through three different theme answers.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. a huuuuuuge thank-you to treedweller for covering for me on Saturday and Sunday. I had stupidly forgotten to arrange for a substitute, so his last-minute offer to step in and cover for me was an invaluable gift. I love writing the blog, but at ACPT, I want to spend time with people, not my computer.

P.P.S. biggest Fail of ACPT awards ceremony was the non-announcement of D and E division winners.

D Champion was Jeff Stacey
(overall finish: 115) (Caleb Madison was 2nd!)
E Champion was Joseph Longa (overall finish: 159) (Marion Strauss, who comments here as @mac, was 11th!).


Anonymous 12:07 AM  

Congratulations on your continued progress...

Anonymous 12:14 AM  

Either you're tall or Will's, well, not.
This probably is a much better puzzle that I experienced, due to my aversion to the phrase in 17A. Things like that ruin my evenings.

PurpleGuy 12:18 AM  

Way tro go Rex. Congratulations.
A trophy is a trophy !!!!!

I thought this was a rather easy puzzle. Seemed to blow through it without much hesitation. One of my faster times. The theme answers seemed to come right away to me. Guess I was on the right wave length.

Happy Monday all.


Tobias Duncan 12:29 AM  

Good lord Rex is enormous.
Loved the puzzle but I am hungry for ACPT info.Please post any videos, tell us about these regulars you ran into, and let us know how the math would have worked out had you not left a square blank.
32nd? Not too shabby Rex, not too shabby.

foodie 12:31 AM  

Fantastic, Rex! Congratulations! I was wondering if you'd met the new 44?? Should we invite him to a blog tea party or something? Do you feel some sort of kinship to him?

@Anonymous 12:14, I've never met Rex in person, but I've been hanging around this blog a while and learned he was pretty tall.

The puzzle was cool. Had to work a bit here and there (for a Monday) but it made it all the more interesting.

Looking forward to hearing more about the tournament!

fikink 12:45 AM  

@anon, 12:14, BETCHA don't like the expression "backatcha" either.
Speaking of that, is "GET BEAT" grammatically correct?

Congratulations, @Rex, 32 is impressive.

Good Monday, easy, breezy Covergirl puzzle.

p.s. I wanted TENspots, too.

SethG 1:00 AM  

I had BEETS Friday night, and entered TENNERS first. Wanted AIN'T that THE TRUTH, but IT works fine there.

Congrats on your performance! I think next year I'll aim for #2 Midwest Rookie, trophy category or not.

CoffeeLvr 1:33 AM  

Great news on your tourney results, "Rex."

Nice, smooth Monday, for me. Liked seeing ANKHS in the grid. Other than skipping over the theme answers until some crosses were in place, the only place I slowed down was 38A, as I only know tidbits of Spanish.

There's a shout out to one of the regulars here at 37D.

JaxInL.A. 2:31 AM  

Hearty and sincere congratulations to all who survived the tourney, and esp. to those who improved their standings or got one for the first time.

You mean that Rex is NOT standing on a platform above Will? Wow.

I'm delighted that Rex overcame an initial DOH! moment (leaving a space blank--reminded me of the moment in Wordplay movie when Al Sanders finishes first then realizes he left two blanks) to become 32nd best in the universe. Is it churlish to note that somehow 32nd is inexplicably less elegant as a number than 44th? But clearly it's higher and therefore better. I like @foodie's idea of asking the new 44th to stop by.

Fun effort by @pauer and Salitan today. Six theme entries on Monday is a nice treat.

What happens to the tournament puzzles now?

chefwen 2:37 AM  

Congrats Rex, YOU RULE!!! Can't wait to get more info on the tournament. Pics would be great also.

YOU BETCHA and DARN TOOTIN took me right back to my many years in Wisconsin, that's a hoot is another Midwestern favorite. Love those people.

Super easy Monday puzzle, only write over was because I confused my ents with my ORCs.

PastelLady 3:28 AM  

Natnl news reported that NY state police were making random stops and inspecting buses for safety; a number of serious violations were found, and some drivers were barred from continuing their trips. Maybe Rex got caught in that situation?

Looking forward to more ACPT reporting!

Jamie 7:06 AM  

I thought Rex was the 31st??

Smitty 7:15 AM  

NIce work Rex! And Roz Chast - what an honor.

joho 8:01 AM  

Loved the upbeat theme, a positively perfect beginning to the week. Thank you Patrick and Steve!

Congratulations, Rex!

Am looking forward to hearing more about the tournament from any and all who attended.

Rex Parker 8:09 AM  

I am now 31st. Because of last-minute scoring corrections, people's rankings often rise and fall slightly on the days after the tournament. We'll see where I end up after the dust settles. . .

Reader @imsdave had a *great* showing, greatly improving his former ranking. Young Caleb Madison (who is doing a drag performance of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" today for some fundraiser...) place just outside the top 100. I *think* @nanpilla won the award for best handwriting! I'll let other users tell their own stories.


jesser 8:32 AM  

Congratulations, Rex! 31! Woot! Woot!

Great puzzle. I liked that it was SASSY. Only writeover was at 68A, where goT UP made a brief appearance before SAT UP squashed him like a bug.

Gaect! (Not a str8 ect) -- jesser

JenCT 9:13 AM  

Had a great time at the ACPT this weekend - nothing like Brooklyn pizza and bagels! Really enjoyed meeting everyone.

Full disclosure: I totally froze during some of the puzzles, leading to an embarrassing score, even worse than last year's. I'm still trying to get over it. I've realized I don't do well on puzzles under pressure and I'll never be a speed solver, but I still enjoy them anyway.

Again, very glad to meet fellow Rexites, and to watch the finals with Rex.

chefbea 9:18 AM  

Congrats Rex on being #31!!

@coffeelvr of course I got 37 down right away..Gosh we haven't seen that red tuber in quite a while

Knew 48D right away - Puzzle daughter has just written an App!! called Eat Rome. All about the great neighborhood restaurants in Rome.

The puzzle - was very easy and a fun Monday. Looking forward to hearing more about the tournament.

Anne 9:18 AM  

Congratulations, Rex. Good job! I've now into my third year of doing (or at least attempting) the puzzle every day and I think I'm going to attend the tournament next year - just to observe! It sounds fun and interesting. Today's puzzle was fun to do even with those two awful words.

Rex Parker 9:19 AM  

Yes, I had the privilege of watching the finals with JenCT. We sat way over on the side of the ballroom, away from the crowds, and heckled people (not true—she's far too nice). She owns chickens! And bees! Also, her husband and son came by a bit later and offered me one of the hamburgers they'd brought along for lunch. Seriously, ridiculously sweet people at the ACPT. It's unreal.

Also, shout-out to John Dunn, a nice guy, fine constructor, and homophone of my favorite poet. Great talking to you. Hope you're back again next year, John.


Orange 9:24 AM  

Shoot, I forgot to revel in the fangirlness of "OMG! Roz Chast has said my name after all those years that I've said her name!" I love love love her cartoons and wish I'd had a chance to meet

OldCarFudd 9:25 AM  

Congratulations, Rex!

The picture of Rex and Will reminds me of the time, many years ago, when a short fellow in our department was retiring. The head of the department, who was a goliath at least 6' 9" tall, was due to give the presentation. I asked the retiree whether he'd prepared his retirement speech. He said no, he was just going to look the chief right in the navel and say: "Thank you very much!"

Orange 9:28 AM  

P.S. Those second-place regional trophies are the best! The first year they gave them out was the year Tyler Hinman had moved to my region, so I still got a trophy. Then he moved away, but my fellow Illinoisan Anne Erdmann started competing and whups me every year. Besides Rex and me, other second-place regional trophy winners include my pals Crosscan and Al Sanders, so I feel like My People are well suited to these EMINENTLY distinguished trophies. I mean, who wants first place, amirite?

quilter1 9:34 AM  

Nice work, RP! I'd like to go to the tournament some day. Do you think they will ever offer it at different locations around the country so more of us can attend every second or third year?

Today's puzzle was easy and good. Nothing wrong with it except I finished so easily and quickly that I was still craving a solving experience. So I printed out a BEQ puzzle about Tyler Hinman's plan to win ACPT. On with Monday!

efrex 9:42 AM  

Congrats #31!

Liked the theme for today and the density. Got a big kick out of the range of musical performer references (Dean Martin, the Stones, ABBA, Lady GAGA, Enya, John TESH... *there's* an interesting PBS fundraiser concert for ya... :) ).

One too many crosswordy foreign words for a Monday, IMHO (ENERO, EIS, *and* BESO?), but all gettable from crosses.

Writeover: had IRKS instead of IRES.

nanpilla 10:06 AM  

Embarrassingly enough, my trophy IS as big as the one in Rex's photo!

Talk about damning with faint praise - best handwriting, indeed!

I don't know if they do the statistics this way, but I would like to believe that I would at least be in contention for most improved. I moved up 102 places, from 247 to 145 this year!

This was due to a confluence of factors that are never likely to be repeated. If it wasn't so much fun to go every year, I'd just retire right now!

For those of you who don't attend, Puzzle 5 is affectionately called "the bastard". The clues are probably about a Saturday level, but there is always an additional "trick" which adds to the difficulty. This year, I was lucky enough to "get" the trick early, and due to an eclectic knowledge of music, actually managed to finish the puzzle, and three minutes early at that! You have to understand, last year it was a huge deal for me to make it into the C group ( top 40%). This year my goal was to have my puzzle number 5 graded in yellow. Normally, the wrong answers in the grids are corrected with yellow highlighter. But last year they decided that it would be easier with *certain* grids to mark what was correct in blue, rather than what was incorrect in yellow. Having only finished 1/3 of puzzle#5 last year, I had the embarrassing distinction of being marked in blue.

So my hand was shaking as I lifted it to signal the judges that I was done early. Looking around, I realized that most people were still working away. The man next to me, who finished 40th last year, did not finish it!

So, after puzzle 5, I was at #103! After solving the final two puzzles in my normally barely above average time, I dropped down to #145, which is still way outside my league. But I'll always have 2011.... AND my huge handwriting trophy!

Seriously, from hanging out at the bar, going out to dinner, crazy puzzle games on Saturday night, the goofy talent show on Sunday morning, and the excitement of the finals, this is one of the first things that goes on my calendar every year. It makes no difference what your skill level is, everyone is ridiculously kind and friendly.
It is March 16th to 18th next year - so mark those calendars!

jackj 10:08 AM  

Terrific theme for today's puzzle! The theme entries covered about 40% of the white squares which seems like it might be a record.

It may or may not be a consequence of the strong theme emphasis but the accompanying fill seemed especially bland.

Kudos to Rex as he works his way up to a turn at the white-boards.

imsdave 10:15 AM  

Puzzle first - this is amazing contruction - 66 theme squares on a Monday, and still minimal crud and appropriately easy. Kudos.

ACPT - I cannot say enough about the experience. I did move up 30+ places this year to 132, and that would have been closer to 110th had I not had a personal Natick in puzzle 7 (dang!).

It is a blast to "know" so many of you in cyberspace. I am astonished at how much better it is to be with these folks in person. A partial list of cyberfriends/tournament buddies/constructors I got to share time with over the weekend, in no particular order:

Greene, Mac, Bob Kerfuffle, JenCT, Pauer, Deb Amlen, Ben Bass, The Big E, Ulrich, Jan O'Sullivan, Peter and Debby, Sparky, DougP, KarmaSartre, PuzzleGirl, PuzzleSister, Rex, Sandy, Tony Orbach, Karen from the Cape, Nanpilla, Beth(Nanpilla's sister), Merl Reagle, Lindsay, Bob Klahn (not an evil ogre, a teddybear), Barry Silk, Dan Feyer, Brian and Ryan, ACME, Pete Mitchell, Orange, Alice Dutton, Vic Fleming, and (I have to get back to work), about 50 other really fun people. My sincere apologies to anyone I missed (and I'm sure there were a couple of important ones), but my memory ain't what it used to be. Thank you all so much for making my favorite weekend of the year the best ever!

Bottom line - please come to next years ACPT - I can guarantee you will have the time of your life!

chefbea 10:16 AM  

Forgot to mention earlier re:height
When I went to the ACPT a few years ago I met Rex and he was chatting with IMSDave and a couple other tall gentlemen. I am 5' and after talking to them for a few minutes I had a very stiff neck.!!!

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

@ACPTers - Quick question - I thought that all the puzzles had different clueing for the different sections, but the site says that's true only for #7. Which is true, and has it always been that way?

Elaine2 10:22 AM  

I also liked today's theme. Agree that the fill was a bit bland, but did like the cute clue for 66a.

Congrats to Rex on moving up!

nanpilla 10:25 AM  

@anonymous 10:20 : The only puzzle that has three different sets of clues, is puzzle #8, the championship puzzle, which is only solved by the top three people in groups A,B and C. The first 7 puzzles are the same for all attendees - that's how they separate the women from the girls!

santafefran 10:35 AM  

Kudos to Rex and the rest of our blog family who made such a great showing at ACPT!

Every year, during and after the ACPT I always resolve to attend the next one, but then I find lots of reasons that I can't manage it--too far and too expensive, my husband would kill me if I left him with the sole care of our 5 cats and 4 Shelties--but perhaps I just have cold feet.

Seems like most of the c-word tournaments are on one of the coasts so I would like to officially invite everyone to consider Santa Fe as a possibility for a Southwest gathering. Then there would be no excuses. I am sure Tobias and Jesser would get on board with that.

@chefbea--Planning a trip to Venice and Rome in Sept/Oct and just downloaded that App on Saturday!

Oh, the puzzle--I liked it except for the first theme answer which has been forever tainted.

Nancy in PA 10:37 AM  

I too had a great time at ACPT (Except for puzzle 5, which was indeed marked with the right answers highlighted in blue, not the wrong in yellow. My husband saw the scan online and asked what all the white spaces meant--he had never seen me not finish a puzzle!) Improved 113 slots from 2009 to 2010, and 46 slots from 2010 to 2011. I am happy, though my goal of getting into C division was not quite realized.

As for today's puzzle, I loved it (but I love them all). I went to high school with John Tesh. My sister once went into a record store and asked the clerk to recommend a good jokey, nobody-wants-it CD for a Yankee Swap present exchange. He said, "How about a John Tesh CD?" This lives on in family lore. We all felt a little let down when he left straight news reporting (his early career) for gossip-land.

Two Ponies 10:42 AM  

Very pleasant Monday puzzle.
Did not like the clue for whale.
You betcha reminds me. unfortunately, of Caribou Barbie.
Ain't it the truth reminds me of the Cowardly Lion.
Darn tootin (actually durn) reminds me of Yosemite Sam.
I thought the fill was fine and this should be fun for new solvers.
Sounds like the tourney was fun and successful.
I'm not surprised that Rex elevated his ranking. If I recall correctly he did not compete last year. So with a two year hiatus and several published puzzles under his belt it was bound to happen.

CoffeeLvr 11:05 AM  

Thank you, thank you, to every one who took the time to comment here about their tournament experiences, whether solving or social. I took great vicarious pleasure in your accounts, and look forward to more.

I am decidedly not a speed solver, but I am tempted to plan to come to the "big show" next year. That would give me a year to practice, right?

CoffeeLvr 11:13 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sparky 11:22 AM  

Congratulations Rex. Well done.

The tournament is amazing and a bit overwhelming. Enjoyed meeting people from this blog, an enthusiastic band. Rex and Sandy nice people. What can I say? My head is still spinning.

My paper delivered in Miami so printing puzzle out the night before. This was pretty straight forward. Mix up ORCs, efts and ents. Need a mnemonic device there. Shout out @chefbea. Hi. @treedweller did a great job. Week off to a good start.

Back to Miami tomorrow.

Matthew G. 11:25 AM  

Congrats to Rex and all others on their improvements at the ACPT.  I thought about attending this year, but ultimately decided that I needed one more year of daily NYT solving under my belt before I could hope for a non-humiliating performance (I've been an occasional solver for years but a daily solver only since last July).  I hope to meet a lot of you in 2012.  I live in northern New Jersey, so it should be easy for me to make it.

Enjoyed today's puzzle.  My only stumbling point was IRKS insted of IRES.  One thing that's never quite clear to me when I see "Angers" as a clue for IRES is whether they're meant to be plurals or transitive verbs, and I don't especially like IRES in either form, but oh well.  I agree with the Medium rating -- I finished in what for me is a perfectly average Monday time.  Felt Easy-Medium until the bottom third of the grid.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:28 AM  

Reporting from the solid center: Last year, my first ACPT, I finished 217 out of 643. This year, I managed 202 out of 655. Last year, I had one letter wrong out of seven puzzles; this year, I had no errors in six of the puzzles, but was devastated by #5, only filled in half the grid before running out of time. Unlike nanpilla, I have a very limited knowledge of popular music, and also talked myself into some early errors that guaranteed my failure.

But socially, as imsdave has detailed at length, it was absolutely wonderful, meeting familiar and new faces from the blog, and all the stars of the crossword world. Is it worth going to the ACPT? YOU BETCHA! BY ALL MEANS! RIGHT ON, BROTHER! AIN'T IT THE TRUTH! DARN TOOTIN'! SURE THING!

Um, I mean, yes.

hazel 11:32 AM  

Nice palate cleanser of a puzzle after the rigors of the weekend.

I solved the tourney puzzles on-line (its only $20 for the whole set) and am very impressed by the outstanding showing of so many familiar names. I might have given @nanpilla a run for her money with the handwriting award, but otherwise, well, I'd rather not talk about it. Today's BEQ is the 2010 Puzzle 5 - if anyone wants to take a shot at an ACPT bear for free. Am happy to say I finished - but If there had been a timer, there would have been a lot of blue....

@treedweller - forgot to mention yesterday that I loved your writeups - you set the bar pretty high with that first Sat. - it remains one of my all-time favorites....

Lindsay 11:32 AM  

Back home and very tired, but had a great time! I'm not extroverted and mingly, but everyone was super-friendly and welcoming.

My goal for the weekend was to avoid last place, and I ended up in the top half, so I am simultaneously ecstatic about the result, and kicking myself for stupid errors. I had a blank on the first puzzle too.

Most important, thank you to Rex and the other posters for talking up the ACPT in advance. I had never heard of the tournament until seeing chit-chat about it here, so I owe the opportunity to have participated to all of you.

Thank you!

Rex Parker 11:35 AM  

My wife finished in 478th place. She does not appear to have been "humiliated" by the experience. My point being that if you are a crossword fan (esp. a NYT crossword fan), you will be in good company whether you are acing the puzzles or the puzzles are acing you. Hardly anyone is there for the trophies. I sure wasn't.

It's kind of a wonderful thing to walk out of a room after a puzzle and hearing So Many experiences that were exactly (or nearly so) like your own. "Who the hell were the Roman household gods?" "Violinist who?" "What kind of soda???" Shared experience of struggle / failure is part of the experience.

I've never heard of anyone regretting having come to ACPT.


Torbach 11:35 AM  

Just lost my long-winded comment so am trying again: Congrats to Rex! He is indeed a tall gentleman, but I think the perspective is distorted a bit in the photo. If we use movies as a barometer, and Jon Stewart in "Wordplay" says Shortz is "the Errol Flynn of crosswords" (or some such) then must we make Rex Andre the Giant in "The Princess Bride"? Discuss ... That increased stature of his might have worked to his advantage when battling through the Port Authority though (condolences on the challenging end-game of your otherwise successful trip!).

Extra big congratulations to my buddy Steve Salitan. I loved this fun Monday puzzle which absolutely negated the snow (!?) currently falling in Gotham. That Blindauer character needs all the help he can get, too...(to you uber-serious readers? I am joking!! Extra exclamation points? Shout out to ACME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As ever, great to see you - and twice in one month? Fantastic!)

Finally, a note on John Tesh and high school: when he was a 20-something, serious newscaster he was dating a wildly attractive junior from my high school. I cursed that guy every day in gym class - and for many days over the next 35 years!

Great to see so many of you at the ACPT - here's to a good 2011 for all.

Tony O.

Rex Parker 11:55 AM  


I'm taking a break from listening to an ITUNE* to echo this sentiment:


Seeing her was so special that it almost seemed like a separate experience, hence my failure to mention it so far. Such a dear person.

Also, apropos of nothing, I believe Ashish Vengsarkar (co-constructor of a tough Puzzle 7) to be perhaps the kindest, most decent person on the planet. And not just bec. he bought me liquor.

Sorry to gush well over my 3-comment limit. It's just hard to believe that someone as crankily opinionated and occasionally sharp-elbowed as me has so many genuinely kind and generous (not to mention smart, funny, etc.) friends and acquaintances.

Sparky (talk about lovely...) is right about "overwhelming," in one way at least—I don't get to spend nearly as much time with everyone I know and admire as I'd like. That's why just sitting off to the side of the room and watching the finals with JenCT was such a treat—just some ordinary chit-chat time with an extraordinary woman. My great good luck.


*solve the CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge from 3/20/11 to see what I'm talking about. I think ITUNE will be my new nickname for @Tony, if only because it's somewhat snappier than OREMINER.

syndy 11:59 AM  

So is Will going to give the rest of us a chance at the tourney puzzles?? We got last years LA ones.#5 does sound like something one should do in private! Don't know about having tourn in New Mexico have it on good authority they eat strange there

lit.doc 12:11 PM  

@santafefran, a big yes-vote for a middle-of-the-country puzzle tourney, and I can't imagine a finer place than Santa Fe.

I would add, for all the Classical music buffs I know are out there, that Santa Fe is the premier off-season opera venue in the country. Check it out online.

Then imagine a few days of puzzling, socializing in really terrific restaurants, and an opera or two or three in the famous, open-air opera house.

I'm jus' sayin'.

lit.doc 12:15 PM  

@syndy, LMFAO at your comment re #5. And yeah, you can find Strange Food if you want, but there's no shortage of high-quality Normal Food as well.

Ms Hart 12:16 PM  

@TonyO - So, a 20-something dating a 16/17 year old? As if I really needed another reason to find Mr Tesh unsettling.

Shamik 12:16 PM  

Long comment just not accepted by Blogger. Bastards!

The short of it...everyone, just budget it in and go next year. My sighing and wishing to be in Brooklyn drove my husband crazy this weekend.

@nanpilla: congrats on being Miss Congeniality of the ACPT. Actually, it's very difficult to be legible and fast. You go, girl!

Congrats to all who increased their placings and especially to all the rookies.

If you think you're not good enough to compete, you're probably right. Very few are there to win. You go to have fun, to see where you'd place, to see people from here and to know you're part of a tribe and not just someone your family thinks has a strange obsession.

Oh and today's puzzle? Very easy. My 5th fastest Monday at 3:11!

santafefran 12:20 PM  

@syndy and everyone else: you should be so lucky as to eat our strange and wonderful vittles--especially our red and green chiles!
I don't think we have catfish carpaccio on the menu--yet.

conis--strange food you might get at that NY Island amusement park.

Howard B 12:32 PM  

@nan - congrats! Handwriting trophy is one I would never win given infinite time and practice :).

@JenCT, @BobKerfuffle, @imsdave and many others (sorry if I forgot) - Great to meet you all for the first, second, or umpteenth time! I echo the comments about the puzzle community here - you're great people, and this is the reason I return each year, not for free puzzle swag and a shot at little trophies and such (although also nice ;) ).

If you can attend, no matter what your level, please do - it's worth it!

Rex - congrats! Very nice to see you and your wife once again. 'Til next time...

KarenSampsonHudson 12:35 PM  

Rex, you are the "first greatest" crossword blogger in the world!

mac 12:42 PM  

Excellent Monday puzzle with its dense theme volume and pretty decent fill. As someone said before, this should be a lot of fun for a beginner.

@JenCT: I had that same "frozen" feeling last year and the year before, but much less so this tournament. As I said on facebook last night: I enjoy the apres-puzzle in Brooklyn at least as much as the competition! Don't really care much for standings at my level, although I found out I made two silly mistakes in words I knew well and thought I had nailed... That actually makes me more optimistic for next year!

KarenSampsonHudson 12:45 PM  

Anyone else wondering about the "word before maiden name in wedding announcements"? I filled in "nee" but I've never seen it used in wedding announcements. Would this refer to the maiden name of the bride's or groom's mother?

Torbach 12:47 PM  

Rex, thank God you were able to find something snappier than OREMINER: that makes one of us!


sugar michaels 12:48 PM  

Fabulous upbeat puzzle...six entries!!!!!!!!
I still think totally Tuesday, but what do I know?

AND it's Steve Salitan's debut, lest that get a bit lost in all the ACPT love :)

When I talk about a puzzle you can HEAR, this is exactly what I'm referring to! Of course I'm extry proud of Patrick and Steve, RIGHT ON BROTHERs!!!!!!

And I'm not exaggerating when I say I could not be living my life without this blog. I honestly wonder what I did the first 50 years!

Had a dream last night where I was renamed Sugar, and I'm loving it! Sugar Michaels! Good stripper name, as my dad's wife just pointed out! But I like to think of it as my boxing name! Like Sugar Ray Michaels!
altho you are not allowed to nickname yourself (I never even achieved one on Brian and Ryan's podcasts!) I'm going to give it a whirl, at least for today!

And once again Patrick/Steve...your puzzle was SASSY and I'm all AGLOW!

Stan 12:48 PM  

Good theme for a Monday? DAMN STRAIGHT!

Thnx for the Tournament comments.

Torbach 12:55 PM  

...and Ms Hart? Be more unsettled, please! 16/17 is being kind: I'm thinking it was more like 15. "Tesh Tesh" doesn't have the ring of Humbert Humbert, but I could see it catching on.


Moving onward and upward,

imsdave 1:20 PM  

@Howard B - an excellent example of my fading mental capabilities - amazing you continue to remember me every year.

Tobias Duncan 1:21 PM  

I am green with jealousy,I wish I could have been there this weekend.@santafefran and @jesser:A get together of any kind in Santa Fe would be wonderful even if its just lunch at the Rooftop Cantina or El Farol.If any of you regulars here find yourselves on business in NM, alert the green chile crew and perhaps we can meet up!

Are there any youtube videos of the tournament up yet?

Doc John 1:26 PM  

Congrats on your improvement in standing, Rex!

I'm wondering how you'd feel about "trophyish" if you saw it in a puzzle. Just sayin'

Ms Hart 1:49 PM  

@TonyO - I suspected, but wasn't about to accuse him of a Class A felony without documentation. But it was a Class A felony if as you described.

Vega 2:02 PM  

I don't even have anything to say but just wanted to join the love. ACPT 2012, here I come!

Wait, I do have one thing to say: it's time to reclaim YOUBETCHA.

dk 2:20 PM  

Now I know how to spell NANU.

Congrats to all.

*** (3 Stars)

Now, If I could just get the daily NYT delivered. Weekends are making it.

JenCT 2:30 PM  

@mac: glad to know others have experienced that "frozen" feeling - it's very unsettling when it happens! (and watching the timer count down just makes it worse)

@Rex: thx for the kind words - and for reminding me that the weekend is about much more than how one places in the rankings.

Lindsay 3:29 PM  

Just got my courage up and looked at the scans. Turns out I fibbed earlier. I didn't have ONE blank in the first puzzle, I had THREE blanks! Despite solving with a hot pink felt-tip marker! How is it possible to miss blanks if the grid is hot pink?

Plus plus plus, my Russian rulers were "stars". I've never been dyslexic before in my life! What a great time to have my body snatched by a moron.

Apologies to those who are here to discuss today's NYT puzzle. I'll go away now and lick my wounds.

hazel 3:40 PM  

Go Sandy! I checked my score against the rankings and we would have been quite close, although your score was a bit better. And I don't feel humiliated either.

I may go live in 2012, knock wood!

Gil.I.Pollas 3:42 PM  

YAY Rex and all who attended and had fun because I really wish I had been out of northern California and having a drink or two and meeting everyone.
I love 31. Three and one are my favorite numbers.
Loved, loved this puzzle. Every answer made me smile and I like that.

jdstacey 3:56 PM  


Thanks for the mention! It was great talking with you over the weekend.

Class D isn't prestigious, but it is something!

Jeff S.

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

Wow - 31 is very impressive. Congratulations!

Never have heard "fin" before. Wikipedia says:
The $5 bill is sometimes nicknamed a "fin". The term has German/Yiddish roots and is remotely related to the English "five", but it is far less common today than it was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

So, maybe it's archaic by now. I guess the German is "funf" so maybe I could believe that is the origin.

sanfranman59 4:23 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:31, 6:55, 0.94, 27%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:38, 3:41, 0.99, 45%, Medium

Anonymous 4:58 PM  

I made beet soup last night because Whole Foods had some interesting looking golden beets on sale. Really, I'm not lying. The recipe included a topping that involved pureeing the greens from the beets with a little of the soup and drizzling it over. I did that, but don't recommend it particularly.

chefbea 5:19 PM  

@anon 4:58 Yummm!! Sounds really good. Could you please send me the recipe?

Kendall 6:10 PM  

Congratulations to Rex and others who competed and did well in the tournament!

I liked this puzzle a lot, especially since it is my new fastest ever recorded time. This coming off of not doing any puzzles for 10 days on account of being in the Florida Keys was a nice start back into my regular life.

Looking forward to more info about the tournament!

pauer 6:51 PM  

Thanks for all the nice words about my latest collaboration.

This theme arose from Judge Vic's "Uh-uh" puzzle a while back, but we took a more positive approach. Steve was a super collaborator, and has a handful of xwords in the pipeline. During the lunch that this puzzle was birthed, Steve's lovely and linguistic wife, Valerie, came up with the best answer in the grid. Luckily, she didn't want to fight us about who would make the puz (beef stew puts people in such an agreeable mood)!

@acme Actually, Brian does give you a nickname during the last episode. I didn't want to ruin the surprise, but you've forced my hand. I hope you're happy. :)

CaseAce 7:30 PM  

So Rex, is a bit of a stretch, however, is he so tall that fashionable mens apparel doesn't come in his size?

mmorgan 7:47 PM  

Amazing energy here today -- congrats to Rex for moving up the ladder!

Nice puzzle today, too!

Anonymous 8:43 PM  

I get the feeling that ACPT is a combination of March Madness and Revenge of the Nerds, but, whatever, Rex, Congrats on your effort. The trophy will help remind you of an experience that you will always remember and enjoy in your rocking chair....

CrazyCatLady 9:46 PM  

I haven't commented here in a while, but I just wanted to say I loved this puzzle. So much better than the LAT today. Congrats to Rex and others who participated in ACPT. Sounds like a great time. Apparently Rex has grown about a foot since last May. Must be the camera angle :)

Sfingi 10:44 PM  

@Rex - is that like the 32nd degree in Masons?
Hubster once won a prize for his '69 Porsche 912 (a money guzzler). It's rusted away somewhere in the universe, but he still has the trophy.

Do you have to compete if you go on these crossword weekends?

Isn't beet soup borscht?

@Chefbea - When I was teaching, I had them lower the blackboard one foot.

Captcha: jurtsmop - a hopeless device, since the floor of the yurt just turns to mud.

I would have thought fin had something to do with some Irishman named Finn.

The puzzle was cute.

sanfranman59 11:07 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

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:29, 3:41, 0.94, 31%, Easy-Medium

Cissy Strut 1:30 AM  


And many continued thanks for your online efforts.

Dirigonzo 4:33 PM  

I'm a syndicated solver so by the time I completed the puzzle the buzz over the ACPT is long over (but still, congratulations to all, especially #31) but the puzzle has not lost its charm. It was an enjoyable romp.

As we are reminded at 35d, Freedom ISN'T free - but only a very, very few of us, i.e. the armed forces and their families, pay the price. Most of the rest of us just enjoy the benefits of their sacrifice and go on merrily with our lives. There is a new initiative, Joining Forces, (the web site is at .Gov) to assist in finding ways to support military families. I encourage everybody to check it out and get involved in the program - "You don't have to support the war to support the troops and their families." (Jill Biden)

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