2011 title role Chris Hemsworth / SAT 4-23-11 / President after Ten-Cent Jimmy / Cultural org with HQ Beverly Hills / Sulker's expression

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Constructor: Mike Nothnagel

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: H.P. LOVECRAFT (31D: "The Call of Cthulhu" writer) —

Howard Phillips "H. P." Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction. // Lovecraft's guiding literary principle was what he termed "cosmicism" or "cosmic horror", the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. As early as the 1940s, Lovecraft's work had developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a series of loosely interconnected fiction featuring a pantheon of humanity-nullifying entities, as well as the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore. His works were deeply pessimistic and cynical, challenging the values of the Enlightenment, Romanticism, Humanism and Christianity. Lovecraft's protagonists usually achieve the antithesis of traditional gnosis and mysticism by momentarily glimpsing the horror of ultimate reality and the abyss. // Although Lovecraft's readership was limited during his life, his reputation has grown over the decades, and he is now regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century. According to Joyce Carol Oates, Lovecraft — as with Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century — has exerted "an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction". Stephen King called Lovecraft "the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale." King has even made it clear in his semi-autobiographical non-fiction book Danse Macabre that Lovecraft was responsible for his own fascination with horror and the macabre, and was the single largest figure to influence his fiction writing. (wikipedia)

• • •

A very nice, very easy Saturday offering from Mr. Nothnagel. I plunked down "UP HERE!" and "UPDOS" instantly, which immediately made me think "uh oh ... it's a trap," especially after I figured 3D: President after Ten-Cent Jimmy (HONEST ABE) had to be TEFLON RON (now *that's* a trap, and a good one). But little by little the crosses worked out, which gave me confidence, which then sent me tearing through the grid like it was Wednesday, until I hit the AMPAS section and came to a brief grinding halt. Also couldn't figure out the clue on TARTS (43D: Some shells and their contents). The shell itself is a TART, *and* the contents are a TART? Could this clue work for TACOS? Or SNAILS? Seemed convoluted and inelegant to me, though ultimately gettable (much more easily gettable if it hadn't been going through the mysterious AMPAS, which turns out just to be the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). Anyway, that tiny southern section caused a bit of pondering, but the rest just said "yes, sir" and got out of the way.

My comment to a procrastinator (let's say, myself) would never be as encouraging as "IT'S NEVER TOO LATE" (55A: Comment to a procrastinator). It would be something more like "Hey *#&$#$, get off your ass!" But that's just me. Loved STOCKING STUFFER (which I got from -FFER) (58A: Little something in Santa's bag) and "DON'T MOVE A MUSCLE" (which I got from "DON'T M-") (17A: "Freeze!"). Lucked into a few answers. My aunt lives in MARIN County (53A: It's south of Sonoma). I have spent lots of time in comic books stores and around comic book people, many of whom know not just their Marvel superheroes (THOR!) (20A: 2011 title role for Chris Hemsworth) but their weird fiction as well (LOVECRAFT!) (31D: "The Call of Cthulhu" writer). I've got a book by Leigh Brackett called "something something Alpha Centauri," and I know a little Latin, so I pieced together PROXIMA CENTAURI that way (14A: Second-closest start to Earth). I watch a little football, so GIBBS was no problem (he owns a racing team now) (29D: Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Joe). I know and love ENSOR, whose work I once saw at the Getty in L.A. (46D: Expressionist James) The only answer in the puzzle that I had never seen before (besides AMPAS, which I'd probably seen before, somewhere), was ONE-SUITER, and I inferred that from just the ONE-S-, so, as I say, definitely breezy. And enjoyable.

Some of the clues were very clever, without being overly cute or terribly tricky. Had to think a few beats at 49A: A shark may carry one (CUE), and many more beats at 52A: Cubbie, e.g. (NL'ER), which was in that damned AMPAS section. 22D: Inclined to strike out (TESTY) could've gone any number of directions. First thoughts were that the clue was related to baseball or exploring. Wanted III for 33D: What may come after an heir? (-ESS). I don't think of ANVILs as particularly "rural," though I do think of them as pre-modern, so ... from a time when most of the world was "rural," so OK. Interesting clue (48D: Rural block).

Can't believe I only just now noticed the clue on STU (9D: Afro-sporting character on "The Simpsons"). A clue custom-made for me and I don't even see it.

  • 22A: Difficulty increaser in diving (TWIST) — I was thinking deep-sea, not Olympic, so ... SHARK?
  • 41A: Team that has won the World Series three times while based in three different cities (BRAVES) — Boston (1914), Milwaukee (1957), Atlanta (1995)
  • 12D: 1950s sweater material (ORLON) — Congress having outlawed the use of ORLON in sweaters on ENERO 1, 1960
  • 25D: Terra ___ (pulverized gypsum) (ALBA) — this was word of the day earlier this month, I think. Not that I remembered.
  • 26D: Sch. that awarded the first civil engineering degree in the U.S. (RPI) — Do you need to abbreviate "school" in this clue if you've already got "U.S." in it, or is "U.S." simply too common an abbrev. to be a real abbrev.-tipper?
  • 40D: Olympic even since '88 (SUPER G) — Kenny G, Ali G ... (this is what it looks like when brainstorming for a potential puzzle theme goes nowhere — I mean, maybe if you had one more ___ G, you could then make wacky phrases by merging them with phrases that start with "G", i.e. KENNY G FORCE, SUPER G RATED, ALI G-SUIT, etc... still, I'm not convinced that theme's going anywhere. See what you can do).

  • 44D: View espoused in Thomas Paine's "The Age of Reason" (DEISM) — God as watchmaker. Lots of meditation on this idea in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen (I told you I spent a lot of time around comics).
  • 53D: Sulker's expression (MOUE) — a truly dumb word. I can barely look at it. It's like a mouse that lost its ESS.
  • 57D: N.H.L. Senators, on scoreboards (OTT.) — any new clue for OTT is good.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
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imsdave 7:16 AM  

Nothnagel + Saturday = 15 minutes? Doesn't add up. First thing I wanted in the grid was EXTS, but thought I'd try and confirm it on the 'X' crossing. Yep. Knew PROXIMACENTAURI, and that gives you a lot of traction.

pauer 7:48 AM  

I wanted RUSTY for TESTY and had the most trouble in the SE, but still pretty easy for a Saturday. Some very fun clues, though, and ITSNEVERTOOLATE reminded me of this ditty from "The Boyfriend" (I played the Boyfriend in summer stock many years ago):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6zNFxS48TQ&feature=fvwrel

joho 8:43 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
joho 8:46 AM  

Ended up with two mistakes: dOG for COG and AMfAS for AMPAS. I was thinking of AMfAr I guess and thought SUfERG was Swedish for something you suffer on an ice-berg like course.

I can see how this was rated easy for a Saturday, though, and I enjoyed it. Loved the clue and answer ZOOMLENS.

mitchs 8:47 AM  

Easy huh? Well shoot, I'd hoped I was getting better. I had exactly the same reaction as Rex when immediately filling in 1A and 1D on a Saturday. I stumbled the longest on BRAVES, wanting ROYALS but knew STAX wasn't STYX.

Fastest Saturday AND fastest Nothnagel I can remember.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:56 AM  

As Rex has noted on other occasions, often 15s are an easy opening to a puzz, and today, as did imsdave, I knew PROXIMA CENTAURI right off the bat, and STOCKING STUFFER came with a few crosses, so all went easily.

Two write-overs, ALOE before SLOE (I always mix those up) and POUT before MOUE.

Also, agree with Rex, wasn't sure what was so "rural" about an ANVIL.

GLR 9:06 AM  

Not easy at all for me. Finished with a couple errors in the southwest. I didn't know ENSOR, and was trying to figure out a spelling for E-I-E-I-O from Old MacDonald for 51A (but of course, that's not the start, anyway).

Liked the clues for ZOOMLENS and ENERO.

@Rex, I think AMPAS is just Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (no American).

Re: the "G" theme - how about KEY OF G-MAN? I suppose it should be a single word preceding G, but...

Andrew 9:33 AM  

Stuck for two minutes at the end wondering where the error was before finding the PROBiSCIS/SiS crossing, but other than that, flew through. I figured the Mamma Mia song clue was disguising crosswordese, but picked the wrong crosswordese...

Andrew 9:38 AM  

Also, @GLR: I learned ENSOR from a very educational song by They Might Be Giants: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFiNAGP1KlY

You may remember TMBG from the 'With "The"' puzzle not long ago.

duaneu 9:46 AM  

It felt like two separate puzzles for me. Zoomed through the top half in minutes, unlike any previous Saturday. The bottom half was more the normal Friday/Saturday slog.

Pete 9:48 AM  

@Rex - When you didn't post by 1:00AM, I thought I would get up at 6 this morning to post my complaint about the clueing for ITSNEVERTOOLATE. Then I said screw it, maybe Mr. Nothnagel's right, and slept in.

nanpilla 9:58 AM  

Thanks everyone for all of your kind comments yesterday. Vet coming back out today to see what he thinks can be done. Probably corrective shoeing is next.

Speaking of which,
the first thing my farrier gets out is his anvil. He sets it up with a loud grunt on a sturdy little portable table, and gets ready to go to work. I guess I figure farriers are the most common users of anvils, and they mostly work in rural areas.

Although my daughter lives just down the block from where the carriage horses live in Philadelphia- and I'm sure they need their shoes done often, being on paved surfaces all day.

I knew this would be rated easy when I could finish it so quickly. I did try giAntS before getting BRAVES from crosses.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

@Rex re tarts: The complete shell and filling is called a tart and the shell alone is a tart, but the filling alone is not a tart.

Cathyat40 10:10 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle and the write-up; especially "mouse that lost its ESS"; and "any new clue for OTT is good."

jackj 10:27 AM  

There was a long ago ad campaign which asked, "Which twin has the Tony?".

Looking at yesterday's and today's puzzles, one could play off that promo to ask, "Which one was the Friday?"

Both were great fun, with clever cluing and fill, but neither one was of that mind-bending intensity we look for, (hope for), in Times weekend themeless puzzles.

Today's puzzle did bring out a few grumbles, with STU as the Simpson's character (when this non-Simpson watcher only knew APU, of the "U"men) and THOR may be Chris Hemsworth's claim to fame one day,but he's not ready for a People cover yet.

Lovely, if gentle, misdirects for SRO, CUE and YOS, (which wanted to be IMS).

ONESUITER started out as an OVERNIGHT bag (no complaints) but LOVECRAFT? Gimme a break!

Maybe it should have been clued something like "Clunky alternate name for old-time amusement park ride".

All in all, a fun Friday, er, Saturday.

mmorgan 10:32 AM  

What @Rex called a "very nice, very easy Saturday" was to me a "very nice but NOT very easy Saturday." Started off gangbusters with UPHERE and UPDOS and got DONTMOVEAMUSCLE with just the D, and the second O! Also knew LOVECRAFT and TEATRO and STOCKINGSTUFFER and DEISM and BRAVES and more, but huge chunk of the rest were essentially Naticks for me. Had Tacos for TARTS (43D), never heard of SUPER G, and not knowing my Simpsons at all, had apU for 9D. Etc....

Big DNF for me but I really liked it and appreciated its nifty misdirects.

GLR 10:48 AM  

@Andrew - thanks for the video link. Bet I never miss ENSOR in a puzzle again!

I do recall TMBG from a recent puzzle, but didn't take the time to check them out. If this is typical, I like their sense of humor.

r.alphbunker 11:01 AM  

33% faster than Friday but had two Rex Parker's before I got the Will Shortz.
The culprits were GIBBa/AMPAa which was just carelessness and
tELIAC instead of CELIAC

False friends
19A boDy-->OLDE
9D apU-->STU
53D pOUt-->MOUE

1  ***
2  *
3  ******
4  *******
5  **********
6  ******
7  ********
8  ********
9  *************
10 ******

JenCT 11:03 AM  

Two UPs next to each other??? Got them immediately but then stared at them, thinking they must be wrong.


Remembered ALBA from Rex's WOTD in a previous posting.

After much TLC, my two remaining chicks are thriving. Turns out, the humidity in the incubator was too low, resulting in the deaths of the other chicks. I'll know better next time. :-(

Connie A 11:12 AM  

@ Rex: re OTT - Having learned Mel, I'm quite happy with him...

hazel 11:17 AM  

Kind of hard for me, but maybe not so hard for a Saturday. Lots of mad-at-myself headslapping, very little self-satisfied ahaing. For a while, the only thing i had for sure was BRAVES. Had MIT (husband's alma mater) before RPI (daughter's).

Any sports fan out there (@tobias? ACME?) know the only player to play for the Braves in all 3 cities?

Go Braves!

quilter1 11:18 AM  

After getting UPDO & UP HERE I thought we'd get similar construction in all the corners, but no. Briefly had tacos for TARTS and soccer for SUPERG. SuperG just isn't on my radar when I watch the Olympics. But I hope I remember next time.
Agree with @Anon 10:09 about tarts. Liked ZOOM LENS, and LOVECRAFT used to give me chills. Also DON'T MOVE A MUSCLE came immediately when I saw the clue and, like Rex, worked the star out from crosses.
Good, satisfying Saturday, Mr. Nothnagel.
Mom's coffee maker died this morning, so off to Target and the rescue!

parsech: Hebrew measure of distance in outer space

hazel 11:20 AM  

actually, she's my stepdaughter, but I think of her like a daughter.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

2 Saturday's in a row! No cheating! Who!

lit.doc 11:25 AM  

Wow. Disclaimer: this is not a gripe about the puzzle. But something has gotta be wrong with the karmic balance when I can fill a Saturday grid in under half an hour.

The solve was challenging and fun, the stacked 15s were intimidating as always, the “Is it POUT or MOUE?” problem was normal, the difficulty of parsing SU_ERG into something non-French was to be expected, the parallel cluing for EMO and SKA was nice, and I will never again mumble vile imprecations under my breath when I see RPI in a grid. Though I would still like to know how to pronounce the R part.

I sent Mr. Happy Pencil on a beer and pizza run before I started, so I’ve got time to check my entries. Hope I find any errors before he gets back.

Got it. CFS syndrome connived with “Var.” to let PROBOSCUS / KUBBITZ survive the initial solve. Hey, 34A’s got one U and one I, so why the hell not? Oh, happy happy joy, MHP now tells me that was my only slip. Wow.

@Rex, was greatly relieved to hear about Orlon being outlawed. If only congress had acted with such alacrity on the leisure suit situation in the ‘70s.

David L 11:36 AM  

Easyish for me -- I got S_PERG and struggled to see the last letter. Not convinced about the TARTS clue -- various online definitions (not to be entirely trusted, I know) describe 'tart' as an open, filled pastry shell. I've never seen it used just for the shell alone. But I am no baking expert.

SKA as a modern music genre -- well, yes, if 'modern' includes mid 20th century. Ska has been around longer than I have, by a few years. Ergo, not modern in my book. Maybe Nothnagel is extremely old.

Mel Ott 11:36 AM  

Wow! A hockey clue for OTT! When do we get a baseball clue for ORR?

Excellent puzzle with some fresh cluing for some of the 3-letter fills: OTT, SOS, CUE, SRO, EKE.

syndy 12:11 PM  

Like @DUANEU felt like two puzzles -top fell with light speed (knew about alpha and proxima centaurii)then died at KIBBLES!in desperation threw in TORRE for joe enen though I KNEW it was the wrong sport.WTH is SUPERG?does it involve a carosel?stocking stuffersgave me POUT and CARPETBAG and I was at a DEAD STOP!BUT it WASN"T TOO LATE? so I'm calling it easy/difficile

Masked and Anonymous 12:28 PM  

After filling in 1-A and 1-D early on, thought "it's an UP theme!" Had dreams of millions of U's.

Nope. But had lucky 7 of 'em, anyhoo. KIBBITZ ain't in my dictionary. Not even as a Var[mint]. KIBBUTZ is, tho.

Not as easy an outing for me as for 31. I panic, when I try to speed-solve a SatPuz, I guess. Still had fun. Got PROXIMACENTAURI right off the bat, which helped. Thanx to Mr. Sagan.

And thanx to Mike and Will. Extra good Rex-write-ups this weekend, btw.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

"it's never too late" would be better clued as a comment FROM a procrastinator!

Two Ponies 12:43 PM  

I had no idea who the sports Joe was.
Combine that with a striped python and that little intersection was a mess. The rest was easy but still fun.
Proboscis as my favorite answer.
Anvils have a very distinctive shape so calling it a block seemed odd.

skua76 12:46 PM  

Good fun puzzle and writeup, except for my late start, power outage this morning. I too got the top part first...in the SE I had MARIN early so ended up with MOPE for 53D before MOUE. Only mistake was 28A, I put in CELIAL for 16D. Then thinking that PEON might also be an adjective (which it isn't, I looked later) I had LOW for 28A. Didn't know Mr. Gibbs so he ended up WIBBS.

jae 12:53 PM  

I did yesterday's and today's faster than I did Thurs. Smooth easy Sat. I too tried TACOS and MIT but those were minor blips. Another fun puzzle from MN.

Keith 1:32 PM  

I thought Sol was the closest star to Earth, making Alpha Centauri the second closest, and, Proxima Centauri the third closest.

Mel Ott 1:40 PM  

@Keith: I was thinking the same thing. Perhaps one of the scientists among us can help us out.

foodie 1:41 PM  

Rex, this was one of your very best posts since I've been reading this blog. I was trying to think why I liked it so much...

WOD very informative (I did not know that!), comment on the comment to procrastinator is right on (my sentiments exactly, self-referentially), and your little flight of fancy around SUPRER G was a lot of fun.

The whole thing had just a great rhythm, a mix of information and lightheartedness. It emanates a good vibe.


And the puzzle was great! Put me in an excellent mood, may have done the same for Rex. Thanks Mr. Nothnagel!

David L 1:56 PM  

@Keith, Mel Ott: In fact, Proxima Centauri is the next closest star after the Sun. It may or may not be part of triple star system including Alpha Centauri, which is itself a binary star.

Because these stars are moving relative to each other and to us, Proxima Cen will lose its nearest-neighbor title at some point -- thousands of years, though, so nothing for crossword constructors and puzzlers to worry about for the time being.

David L 1:57 PM  

P.S. I don't know whether it's called "Proxima" because it's close to us or close to Alpha Cen. The latter, I think.

jberg 2:02 PM  

I finished with an error, TESTS(22D) crossing SOS(39A). Neither made sense to me, but then neither did SUPERG. I echo @Syndy's question on that. Unlike everyone else, it seems, I had never heard of an UPDO, and had UP MORE for 1A, so the NE took too long.
I no longer have trouble with the SLOE/ALOE thing since seeing Athol Fugard's play "A Lesson from Aloes" - when you see it, you'll realize they are not at all plum-like.

@Keith, I believe Proxima Centauri is closer to Earth than Alpha Centauri, hence the name Proxima rather than the usual Greek letter. According to Wikipedia, it's sometimes called Alpha Centauri Centauri C on the unconfirmed theory that it is orbiting around Alpha Centauri A and B.

JenCT 2:38 PM  

SUPER G is short for the Super Giant Slalom ski race.

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

This was almost my first time to finish a Saturday but I could not get through the Gibbs, one suiter, Lovecraft, outboxes section. I was very proud of myself to get Braves, but there is just no way on Gibbs. I am not a sports knower. One suiter seems a little unfair. Has that ever been a term in use? I thought pistons must be wrong because I wanted overniter for one suiter. But still - lots of fun. So close!

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

For a while I thought outhouse might be the answer to temporary storage for completed work. I figured it was too low brow for the Times, but would have been funny.

ANON B 2:51 PM  

How many people out of 100 have ever heard of Cthulhu? I haven't.
I can't even pronounce it. If
I never see it again that will
be too soon.

I skip M-W 3:18 PM  

Isn't SUPER G a ski race? therefore part of the Winter Olympics? Just Wiki'd and, yes, it's short for Super Giant Slalom. Pretty inflated name. Soon, no doubt, they'll come up with Humongous Super Giant S. (further research reveals it's super from having the gates that make it a slalom further apart than giant, which has them further apart than plain slalom. I guess HSGS might be just straight down.)

Alpha centauri takes its first alphabetic position from being the brightest star in the constellation; Proxima, invisible to the unaided eye, is called that from being closest star to Sun.

Why is KIBBITZ considered a variant spelling? However it's spelled, the English is just a transliteration from Yiddish, which is written with Hebrew characters and probably has no "official" spellings anyway.

@Rex, I like Ensor too. Did you catch the exhibit at MOMA (NYC) a couple of years ago? He was extreeemely eccentric.

I had an orlon sweater back in my early teens when I admired the Nebbish cartoon characters, saying "Next week, we've GOT to get organized."

Jenny 3:19 PM  

News to me: KIBBITZ is a variant spelling (apparently of "kibitz") and has a meaning other than "to talk/chat (in a group)." Interesting. (Kibbutz(im) are unrelated as far as I know.)

I spent several minutes trying to glue some other Greek letter onto CENTAURI, mostly epsilon.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu! Good times.

jackj 3:32 PM  

hazel@11:17 am-

The Braves broke my young heart when my favorite team, (and favorite player, Sam Jethroe), left Boston for Milwaukee and I haven't followed them since they left in that fateful winter of 1953.

Still, I vaguely recall that the only player to be a Brave through all the moves was Eddie Mathews.

Chip Hilton 3:48 PM  

@Mel Ott: The Phillies have a second baseman named Pete Orr so there's hope for a baseball clue in his honor. All he has to do is keep Chase Utley off the diamond and establish himself as a player worthy of crossword inclusion. Yet to be seen...

davko 3:53 PM  

@ Mel Ott: The Phillies' second baseman Pete Orr is no household name yet, but is hitting .375 this year. If he keeps that up, maybe he'll earn a place in a NY Times crossword someday.

Loved this puzzle for its traps, "aha" answers (like SUPER G), and referential winks (i.e., ALFA/PROXIMACENTAURI; BRAVES/NLER). Didn't care for the two UP- prefixes crossing in the NW, nor the "comment" to a procrastinator, but otherwise Nothnagel really delivers, as usual.

Query: for all the times SRO shows up in puzzle after puzzle, has anyone actually seen such a sign in theatres (or, for that matter, TEATROS)? I, for one, never have... not even at sellouts.

mac 4:33 PM  

Excellent puzzle! Most of it went very smoothly and exceptionally fast for a Saturday, but then I needed twice as much time for the middle section.

In the end I had two wrong letters: son for cog. Probably though scion instead of peon.

Agree that you should NEVER say that line to someone who is already a procrastinator, and a tart is a shell with filling. The shell, when bought ready-made, is a tart or pie bottom.

chefwen 4:34 PM  

Like @joho I was missing the C in COG and thought of dOG, so I Googled dog peon and up pops Dog Peon Cartoons and Comics. The first comic is a must read for all Rexites.

Any Saturday that I can complete is reason for celebration. Had a couple of write-overs like DYES over tans, but all in all pretty darn clean.

joho - glad your little puppy avatar is back, I was missing him the last few days.

Tobias Duncan 4:44 PM  

So is next week going to be just brutal???

hazel 5:19 PM  

@jackj - right you are! i won a night of free drinks from a bartender in Princeton for getting that right.

And for the Pete Orr fans, he was a utility infielder for the Braves for a few years. Though he's a hustler, he's got his work cut out for him before he's a household name...

JenCT 5:41 PM  

@I skip M-W: LOL - although, I think what you might call the HSGS is just the Downhill.

If anyone watches the Winter Olympics, they say "Super-G" all the time, as in "Bode Miller won the silver medal in the men's Super-G," or "Lindsey Vonn took home the bronze in the women's Super-G."

Two Ponies 5:54 PM  

davko, Good question about SRO.
With fire codes today I doubt they can sell more tickets than seats.
Perhaps our teatro guru @Greene can give us his observation.
It was a novel clue for a frequent answer.

chefbea 6:02 PM  

just wanted to check in. busy all day. No time to finish the puzzle or read all the comments. Hopefully I can do the puzzle tomorrow.

captcha..reted=soaked flax. Gosh how did I remember that???

sanfranman59 6:05 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 6:14, 6:53, 0.91, 17%, Easy
Tue 6:53, 8:55, 0.77, 2%, Easy (2nd lowest median solve time of 96 Tuesdays)
Wed 10:04, 11:45, 0.86, 21%, Easy-Medium
Thu 17:19, 19:06, 0.91, 37%, Easy-Medium
Fri 24:43, 26:11, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium
Sat 24:31, 30:29, 0.80, 8%, Easy (7th lowest median solve time of 89 Saturdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:21, 3:40, 0.91, 16%, Easy
Tue 3:53, 4:35, 0.85, 6%, Easy (6th lowest median solve time of 96 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:11, 5:47, 0.90, 28%, Easy-Medium
Thu 8:57, 9:13, 0.97, 56%, Medium
Fri 10:55, 12:53, 0.85, 23%, Easy-Medium
Sat 13:01, 17:21, 0.75, 7%, Easy (6th lowest median solve time of 88 Saturdays)

Shamik 7:05 PM  

Wow...only 4 hours of sleep...no wonder I'm rating this one a medium and it seemed easy at the time...only to find everyone saying how easy it was. Oh well, just happy to see Mr. HP. Great write-up, Rex. You've been less curmudgeonly of late. Happy spring!

fergus 7:06 PM  

Not the least surprised by today's Easy, but I did Yesterday's today too, and that seemed an order of magnitude more difficult -- twice as hard on a logarithmic scale.

michael 7:20 PM  

Got it, but would not call it easy (even for a Saturday). Actually, I found Friday's considerably easier, but cam see that I'm the minority.

I don't why, but I'm still sometimes surprised by this group I was going to write something about Pete Orr, obscure, seldon-used second baseman for the Phillies, and saw that several people had already done so.

andrea kibbitz michaels 7:30 PM  

You were kidding, right? I mean I almost had a heart attack with all the sports stuff (some of my mistakes: giAnts/BRAVES, aLER/NLER, sTl/OTT, and worst: bIBBS/GIBBS as I had CELIAn/nOb for Peon...)

Throw in SUPERG, THOR, and PROXIMACENTAURI, apU/STU and I cry "Boy puzzle!" (DUSTMOP be damned!)

That said, the musical/theater SRO, TEATRO, AMPAS, EMO, SKA, sort of balanced things out a bit for me...and, of course, KIBBITZ is my middle name!

RPI I learned from Young Tyler, as it's his alma mater and I've seen "Wordplay" at least 5 times.

When I see ANVIL I think of Wile E. Coyote and ACME, of course!

Toughest part for me by far was 3Down! I had HONE----- I tried HONEyfitz (wasn't that JFK's dad's nickname?) HONEybear (I thought maybe a nickname for GHW Bush, so thoroughly have I erased Reagan from my cortex) and I even considered HONEycomb. I need to HONE my skills, clearly.
(MOUE face here)

Don't mean to be Scrooge-like, but I get weirded out seeing Xmas clues (STOCKINGSTUFFER) in April.

As for Kenny G., @ Rex, I have an idea!!! Sir, I pick up your gauntlet! Wanna work together?

chefbea 8:20 PM  

@andrea I too had Honey Fitz at first

stan wagon 9:12 PM  

Hair-splitting I guess, but I think Proxima Centauri is only PROBABLY the closest star to the sun. There might be something closer -- already named Nemesis. See


Ross G-Whiz 10:29 PM  

sorry, AMPAS / GIBBS / SUPER G is like a tricorn Natick of specialized, tunnel vision knowledge to me. otherwise, A-OK

Bill from NJ 11:32 PM  

I used to work with a guy who claimed to be a "devil worshipper" but he was just an odd duck who read H P Lovecraft. He pronounced
CTHULHU ca-'thoo-loo. FWIW.

Jace Harker 9:00 AM  

Hey, all! First time poster, long time reader here. Posting because this is the very first time I've finished a Saturday! I had to do some research to get some of the answers (like the sports answers), and got stuck a bit in the south, but finally finished it!

A little disappointing that it's considered an "easy" Saturday, but I figure now that I have one under my belt, the rest will come easier. Yay!

tim 11:47 AM  

I breezed through al the dweeby esoterica (Proxima Centauri and H.P. Lovecraft are no-brainers for former nerdy 12-year-old boys) but was utterly stymied by that repulsive "NLER" "SUPERG" knot. Both of these looked like nonsense words to me and still do. I found the explanation for "SUPER G" in the comments section but I still don't understand what "NLER" could mean, much less how it relates to "Cubbie". Can someone help me out here?

JenCT 2:29 PM  

@tim: Blogger ate my previous comment, so I'll try again: NLER is National Leaguer; Cubbie refers to the Chicago Cubs.

Anonymous 11:46 PM  

BILZ80 said...
Post Rex et al, I thought 14A was more ingenious than credited: Proxima Centauri (lit. Closest STAR to EARTH in the Centaurus Constellation) is actually second-closest because our own SUN is also a STAR at 91 million miles versus < 4 light years for Proxima.

Jainesy 9:34 PM  

It's May 14th and I just finished this. And sports clues are easy for me. And I knew a bunch off the bat , like Lovecraft whom I read obsessively in younger days.

Sudsy in Chicago 9:48 AM  

Agree with all who thought it a fun puzzle -- fresh cluing and fun answers.

Had a total mental block at 44A ("turns brown, maybe") and could only come up with AGES. DYES? Who in the world would ever dye something brown??

Of course this left me with AEISM instead of DEISM for 44D, but I figured maybe AEISM is the belief that words spelled with -ae plural endings are annoyingly academic. Made sense to me!

And totally agree on the dumbness of MOUE . . .

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