Classical name of Troy / THU 4-14-11 / David of infomercials / Commercial prefix with dyne / Gravlax ingredient / Wahhabi's belief

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Constructor: Pete Muller

Relative difficulty: Challenging [but, then again, I never saw the "note," which *might* have made things easier/clearer—the downloaded puzzle I used had *no* indication there even was a note. . . annoying]

THEME: UMBRELLA — "UMBRELLA" is the clue for four theme answers, only it's found not in the clues, but inside circled squares, which, when connected form an approximation of the shape of an UMBRELLA. All theme answers are clued only by empty brackets.

Puzzle note: (not visible unless hunted down under one of the toolbar menus in my software program): "Four answers in this puzzle are missing the same eight-letter clue - a single word that can be spelled from the eight circled letters. When the puzzle is done, connect the circled letters in order with a line, and you will get an outline of the object the word names."



Word of the Day: RADO (33A: Pricey Swiss watch brand) —

Rado is a Swiss manufacturer of watches, with headquarters in Lengnau, Switzerland. It is noted for its use of scratch-proof materials, a field in which it is considered a pioneer. Today the company produces about half a million watches a year with a staff of about 470 in total. [...] RADO watches vary in pricing according to model, age and materials but the core collection of RADO pieces will range from about US$700 to about US$28,000. Models that include pave dials of diamonds and baguette diamonds can cost approximately US $30,000 to $250,000. (wikipedia)
• • •

This took a while, and was not entirely pleasant. Creative and memorable, though, I'll give it that. The empty-set clues for the theme answers made the experience frustrating, which I guess was the point. Wasn't sure if TRAVELERSLOGO was TRAVELER'S LOGO or TRAVELERS LOGO, and in both cases the logos that were presenting themselves to my brain were wrong. Could think only of the haloed Good Samaritan guy you see on stickers on RVs, or else the bear from TRAVELODGE. SHADE PROVIDER = elm, of course. GENE KELLY PROP? Uh ... cane? Only with the HIT FOR RIHANNA did I realize what the puzzle was getting at. Never heard of RADO (33A: Pricey Swiss watch brand), did not know ORECK was associated with infomercials (29D: David of infomercials), forgot about ILION despite teaching Trojan War literature all the time (had ILIUM, which is also right) (12D: Classical name of Troy), never Ever heard of whatever TELEdyne is (40A: Commercial prefix with dyne), blanked on the Hebrew month NISAN (49D: Passover month), can't believe I had to deal with RANDR twice in one week (38D: Service break), and ... and then there's APISH! (10A: Imitative) Took me about 50% longer than my average Thursdays of late. But I got it, and mostly enjoyed the struggle. The UMBRELLA shape (created by the circles) doesn't look Terrible, except for the handle. What the hell? The distance between "U" and "M" is comical. That "U" should be where the second "E" in ELOPED is.



My favorite moment of the solve—wondering what the hell kind of temple features LAPDANCEs (40D: Temple performance). Turns out it's Shirley Temple, and actual answers is TAPDANCE. "Ohhhhhhh.... nevermind."



Cluing was tricky. Started out with clues about docks and pirates, and answers that had nothing to do with the ocean. I know ARIEL as a servant of Prospero and as a book of poetry by Sylvia Plath, not as a Durant (20A: One of the Durants who wrote "The Story of Civilization"). "Gumbo" comes from BANTU. Whu knu? ILLE Pu! (43A: Langauge from which "gumbo" comes) I know what a snow leopard is, but chamois? Isn't that what you use to clean your car? (66A: Where chamois and snow leopards live: Abbr.=>MTNS) Don't remember what gravlax is at all. Sounds like an OTC medicine: "For Serious Constipation: GRAVLAX." Twyla THARP is my homegirl (25D: "Movin' Out" choreographer) ... well, she attended my alma mater, and her last name is one letter (one step in the alphabet) off from my own (real) name, so ... good enough (yes, my real name is UHARP). Weird that I though TRAVELER'S LOGO was related to a halo and then got HALOS at 14D: Nickname for the Anaheim Angels. RADO / RADON intersection is at least mildly unfortunate (intersecting identical four-letter strings not being ideal). This puzzle is 16x15. The end.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

92 comments:

CoffeeLvr 12:19 AM  

Liked it, hated it, loved it. This is what I want from a Thursday.

Had AERO where TELE goes, but needed it elsewhere later. Had ILIaN, figuring the place name paralleled the poem's title, and this was the last theme entry to fall. Kept thinking a TRAVELER would take along an UMBRELLA, but couldn't find a way to make it fit. Only thing I could remember about gravlax is that you eat it; eventually, that was enough.

Thought the expensive watch was RADu, but close enough to get me there. APISH is ugly, but it was the first thing I thought of.

REAM out is pretty edgy for the NYT, don't you think?

retired_chemist 12:33 AM  

Nice writeup, Rex. LAP DANCE? ROFLMAO!

Hans up for ILIUM. Also for not reading the note (or even noticing that there was one) until I got within 3-4 letters of TRAVELERS LOGO, whence I figured that out, and also that the [] had something to do with an umbrella. Read the note and life improved. I still found it challenging, but it was nice that the note helped.

Non-puzzle wife has a RADO watch. They are very nice but, in our dog-filled house, not scratch-proof.

Put in APISH with no crosses - surprised myself at its staying power. TALIA, ARIEL, O'NEAL, and others - ditto except no surprise.

Made I_O_S into ICONS @ 1A. The dock is the place on the interface whence you launch your frequently used applications. Soon fixed, but I liked the fantasy that the Mac was finally getting some respect in Crossworld. Fun while it lasted.....

Anyway, a fun puzzle. Thanks, Mr. Müller. Have a free umlaut, which seems to fit.

Clark 12:44 AM  

Did not know this RIHANNA. I thought maybe he/she/it had a hat. Surely there have been characters with umbrellas for hats. Well, yes there have been. Jim Carrey. Veronica. Here's the guy I was thinking of. But I guess that is more like a coat hanger thingy on his head .

lit.doc 1:04 AM  

Figured out the missing-clue device once the theme answers were about three-quarters filled, but it didn’t really contribute to either the pace or the pleasure of the solve. Circled-letter puzzles work sometimes—the recent “Ode to Joy” melody comes to mind—but then, sometimes, meh. Kind of like concrete poetry.

I’m still hit-or-miss on Thursdays, so the fact that I finished is mildly surprising, and my solve time was very surprising. Nonetheless, I was struck by the same oddness/offness in the cluing that Rex remarked on. And another off-square puzzle. Unusual, this one.

jae 1:14 AM  

Tough, clever, tricky. That is, a fine Thurs.! I too finally broke down and read the note, which helped. Only negative is I wasn't impressed with the "connect the circles" result. Although, maybe I did it wrong?

retired_chemist 1:22 AM  

2 jae - you did it right, I expect; judging from the handle, the umbrella took some Viagra.

Robin 1:53 AM  

@r_c: I might need some help from Greene here, but was thinking about the exchange in Phantom -
"Here we have a note!"
"Let me see it"
Or something like that.
I never saw a note until you brought it up, so then I had to go back and look for it. Sneaky little bastard it was, too. Not that it would have helped me.
Got the umbrella idea from Gene Kelly Prop, which had the easiest crosses for me, but completely and totally in the dark for the HitFor Rihanna. *Sigh*

Rube 2:59 AM  

Blogger ate my comment and I'm most upset. It's too late to redo. Night.

chefwen 3:16 AM  

Almost gave up about three or four times, but kept plugging away like a trooper. Had a little help from my part time puzzle partner. He of (one can't have too many watches fame) came up with RADO, never heard of it myself and ORECK bec. he just recently finished a home remodeling convention in Oahu and the ORECK guy was across the aisle from his company, got a new vacuum cleaner out of it Woo Hoo! Can't wait for the big guy to try it out.

Got SHADE PROVIDER from downs and thought "that's nice" didn't mean a thing to me. Slowly, as we chipped away at this it came together. Rihanna, I know of but I wouldn't know one of her songs it it slapped me in the face.

UMBRELLA emerged as I wrote down the little circles and the rest was fun, but what a struggle.

Never saw the "note" but in the end, did not need it.

PastelLady 3:25 AM  

D'OH! I did not see the Note, which might have helped a little.

Then I guessed at the Hebrew month--wrongly--yielding 'HOOF OR RIHANNA' and spent way too long trying to think of a word that would link an unknown-to-me singer and a horse's foot. (SOUND DOUBLE seemed possible, as did ADDED.)

Thank You, Rex, for affirming ILIUM, as I was quite bothered by ILION. Likewise, I was thinking 'elm' and 'cane' and 'AAA' and it's way to late at night for these things. Usually I enjoy a little gimmick, but this one...meh, indeed.

Octavian 3:26 AM  

I love the RAIN at the top of the UMBRELLA -- so nonchalant, a lovely touch.

Awesome puzzle. Picked up the theme idea at HIT FOR RIHANNA, then saw the shape and SHADE PROVIDER made sense.

For long time had several mistakes but still finished, which is odd. Had SALT for my "gravlax" recipe (which is right but incorrect) and GLEN for "Vale" which is also right but wrong.

There should be a term for words that are accurate answers for a clue, and fit in the grid, but are incorrect ... if there's not one already. Could call it an "answerve."

Stared at ELLY PROP for a long time. JELLY? BELLY? ... Thought it had to be some form of Charlie Chaplin, another iconic umbrella man.

Anyway, cool theme plus much clever cluing, makes it an A+ for a Thursday in my book.

apish carla michaels 3:30 AM  

wow, word for word what @rex said,
(except for teaching classics and that whole UHARP thing!)
I mean, I was rushing to get here to ask what kind of Temple has a lAPDANCE, as that was my last letter fill! EERIE!

Started with Shana Alexander, as I am old and an ignorant slut.

We must be in NISAN right now, as Passover is on Monday. But I had to get it from the crosses, I only know ADAR.

I love the picture, but feel slightly cheated by there not being one JXQZ or even W.
(But @Masked and Anonymous will probably love UHURA/USURP, BANTU)

May I say "hmmm" on the RADO/RADON crossing, too, esp next to ILLE/SNEE? And unpierced eyebrow raised here too for REAM out!

O RECK!, my usual one letter wrong :(
I had DDDS for 6A.
I was going to come here for an explanation about how the Pittsburgh Pirates mascot was a stuttering dentist or something!

andrea again 3:44 AM  

@Octavian
"I love the RAIN at the top of the UMBRELLA -- so nonchalant, a lovely touch."

OHMYGOD, I totally missed that!
Thank you!

(And wouldn't it have been cool if Will had run this the day after that RAIN puzzle last week???!!!
April Showers, indeed!)

lit.doc 3:52 AM  

@Octavian, my label for the misstep you describe is “high-quality wrong answer”, e.g. 39A LONGITUDE initially where DEAR SANTA was needed for “Line that goes to the North Pole?” in yesterday’s puzzle.

@andrea JXQZW michaels, you might well say much more than “Hmmm” about that RADO/RADON xing were you not such a lady. Crossword Compiler’s Similar words utility lit that one up bright red, I should think.

I skip M-W 4:08 AM  

Fail!! I gave up in the SW, had Haul in for reel in. never saw any note. Where is it in across lite? NO idea about star trek, got Nisan, didn't think of anted, completely missed umbrella references, though did take a stab. Sad. But good puzzle. thanks for explication, @Rex

Gil.I.Pollas 6:59 AM  

Well, I didn't get the note either. Why does that happen?
Trudged through this and finally spelled out LLRAEUBM...What?
I always misspell Ltd. UHURA's name. I want Uhuru.
Love the word Usurp - it sounds like youburp.

DJG 7:14 AM  

Brutal, mostly due to the large amount of know-it-or-you-don't fill: LAMAR, SAMMS, ORECK, RADO, VALSE, etc. But, this is the byproduct of an ambitious theme sometimes.

Decent Thursday overall.

joho 8:05 AM  

April showers bring a puzzle with umbrellas in and on the grid! I loved it!

I never saw the note and got the theme at GENEKELLYPROP. After that it when down pretty quickly. I figured we were supposed to connect the circles and was pleasantly surprised to create such a nice umbrella ... the handle looks fine to me!

@Octavian, I, too, thank you for mentioning RAIN. That's a little bit of genious there.

Thank you Pete Muller for spreading a little sunshine in my morning!

Anonymous 8:07 AM  

I thought it would be a rebus at first... (MO VA D O).

As soon as TRAVELERSLOGO fell, I knew it would be an umbrella theme (didn't see note), but kept thinking there would be a Charlie Chaplin reference.

Oh, and I had HATFORRIHANNA... I need to turn on a radio once in a while ..(or an IPOD)

Jacknes 8:20 AM  

Solved it completely in about twenty minutes with some hesitations (Rado/Orick was a guess) and not much pleasure-- although I felt good when it was done. But skipped over the theme hint and I suspect it wouldn't have helped me if I'd read it. In fact I almost never pay attention to puzzle themes, even after I've finished. I wonder if anybody thinks this matters.

David L 8:37 AM  

ILION was new to me too, and I'm not convinced by SIEGE as a 'tactic for Napoleon.' Was Napoleon renowned for his use of sieges? Not that I recall. He tried it for Moscow, kinda, but that didn't work out tres bien.

Didn't know the HITFORRIHANNA, but at least I'd heard of Rihanna, so the answer made some sort of sense.

Smitty 8:47 AM  

Finished but... No Joy.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

The logo for Travelers Insurance is an umbrella, Gene Kelly danced with an umbrella for a prop, an umbrella provides shade...I don't follow pop music so I did not know of Rihanna's hit Umbrella.
Good challenge for a Thursday.

mmorgan 9:08 AM  

Good, tough, fun workout -- especially because I never saw the note either (till I got here)! But I'm not really sure whether or not it would have helped.

Some incorrect letters held me up... because of ILIuN at 12D, I just couldn't figure out what a TRAVELERS LuGO might be. And with TwARP at 25D (I stole the W from her first name), I spent some time pondering what on earth one would do with a SweDE PROVIDER. But finally seeing LOGO also showed me the umbrella pattern -- very nice!

Had APIng at first, and was also looking for Charlie Chaplin. And I very nearly had a run-in with @Andrea's stuttering dentists!! I had no idea who RIHANNA is but I think I've seen her here before and it looked right.

Really enjoyed this one. (LAP DANCE -- Ha ha!!)

jesser 9:13 AM  

I guessed the a in RADO, and was certain it couldn't be right on account of the close proximity of RADON, but then I came here and was able to be smug.

About guessing the A.

No smugness about the NE, which was my undoing. ILION? TALIA? APISH? ARIEL? Whatever. I had A TASTE and PARLOR and that was that. Went back and forth from APery to APing, and neither one would (obviously now) yield any assistance. Hello. Where am I? The geographical center of Natick? Thanks!

I never saw the note, or the circles. If I had, maybe I'd have figured out about the umbrella from the GENE KELLY PROP, but maybe not. Hard saying, not knowing.

I have engaged @ACME on Facebook Scrabble, but she's not responded. Out of kindness and pity for my soul, I suspect. :-)

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Andull! (ELTON's CB radio name, I presume) -- jesser

twangster 9:19 AM  

I feel a little better that I'm not the only person to miss seeing the note, but still kind of sore about it. I solved about 4/5 and gave up in frustration.

These notes do not pop up enough for me to think, maybe there's a note, and then check.

Here's a suggestion for the NYT: When there's a note, how about, after the last clue (where the next clue would go if there were one), putting an asterisk or that little note thingie that only shows up on line? That would clue folks that something's up, and eventually this would become known as the international symbol for a crossword puzzle note.

JimD 9:27 AM  

My only real difficulty came with Oreck/Valse. I thought Oreck was Orick and had no idea about Valse so 38A became Rein in (makes no sense.)

With Twyla Tharp I have now had the pleasure to meet three people who's names have been in the NYT puzzle. She joins Tanya Tucker and Randy Travis. Interesting company to be sure.

Been there 9:32 AM  

@Octavian & @lit.doc

I believe it's called a "writeover", or better, a "rightover".

P>G>

chefbea 9:45 AM  

No note on my printed out puzzle. Got Gene Kelly prop and then looked at the jumbled letters and got the theme. Don't know any Rihanna songs.

Matthew G. 9:53 AM  

So that's where the missing column from Monday's puzzle went.  Got it.

Anyhow, liked this a lot.  Would have had a _much_ better time if not for two valid-but-wrong answers: PUTTER instead of DRIVER and ILIUM instead of ILION.  The former in particular was costly, because I'm sure I would have seen TRAVELERS LOGO right away if I'd had TRAV instead of TRAT starting that long Across, and sure enough the puzzle fell quickly once I found DRIVER.

Never heard of David ORECK, ARIEL Durant, or RADO, and my theme-reaction was the inverse of Rex -- I figured out the umbrella theme early (after getting SHADE PROVIDER), but the one part that was obtuse to me was HIT FOR RIHANNA.  I've heard of her, but only just, and couldn't have named any of her songs for you before finishing this.  I actually tried HAT FOR RIHANNA first, thinking maybe it was part of her costume.  (No, I don't listen to much pop music.  How'd you guess?)

Bob Kerfuffle 10:01 AM  

Challenging, indeed. Finished correctly, but with more write-overs than I care to enumerate.

Thought I was off to a good start, with gimmes at ILLE, ARIEL, ONEAL, and . . . ILIUM.

Another near stranger to RIHANNA here.

I do note that in drawing the UMBRELLA, reaching the final A requires that the line be drawn through the previously used R, providing complete closure to the figure, the lack of which has been an issue in some previous connect-the-dots puzzles.

Lindsay 10:10 AM  

Little circles AND instructions. Uggh. Stared at the middle of the grid for quite some time before realizing that arDO should be RADO. I don't know my pricey watches, and wasn't expecting that to spell UMBRELLA one would have to skip over a letter (the "a").

Hand up for supposing Rihanna has a taste for oversize hats.

GLR 10:15 AM  

Found this challenging. Initially just had a lot of individual answers spread all over the grid. Picked up on the theme when I had about half the grid filled and recognized TRAVELERS LOGO (also had the U, M, B and one L at that point). Finally thought to go looking for the note, but it didn't really provide any further help. I solve with Across Lite, and agree with others that it would be nice if there were a more prominent indicator when there's a note.

Struggled with VALSE RADO cross, because I didn't know either one, and wanted the "E" in umbrella to be next to the "R."

Somehow, SHADEPROVIDER seems a little clumsy to me, but I liked the other theme answers.

TELEdyne is the company that makes (or used to make) Waterpik products, among others.

Howard B 10:26 AM  

I had no idea what TRAVELERS LOGO meant, and how it related to the theme. This did not help the experience. I vaguely recognized the logo after a Google lookup, but for some reason this was just one of those knowledge gaps; no, ravines actually, that you only discover through solving.

I don't think I've seen ads in my area for Travelers Insurance, though they are national. Or maybe I have, and my mind just turns to tapioca when it comes to remembering that stuff. Ah well. Cool diagram though.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

Loved the "hit for Rihanna" answer even though I've never heard the song and it took me a while to figure out how anything ending in "nna" could possibly be clued by umbrella. Always good to see the puzzle writers working beyond the Shirley Temple/Gene Kelly time spectrum.

Have just been through (or at least, hope it's over) the rain/wind season in NYC and can tell you that many umbrellas end up more bent out of shape than this one appears to be.

"Past ruined Ilion Helen lives,
Alcestis rises from the shades;
Verse calls them forth; 'tis verse that gives
Immortal youth to mortal maids . . ."

Walter Savage Landor (1775–1864)

lit.doc 10:41 AM  

@P>G>, "rightover"! Nice, I like that one. Thanks.

Two Ponies 11:02 AM  

This was one of those puzzles that I manage to complete without knowing a lot of the answers.
Halos is one example of many today.
I stared at the clue for 6A thinking "pirates take things, they don't make things."
That is one goofy looking unbrella.

The Missing Note ... 11:07 AM  

This problem with notes missing from the online puzzle has been going on for too long a time. I just sent a note to the Public Editor (or Advocate) of the Times asking him to find out why the Times lets this happen. Here was my email message.

"When a person subscribes to the online edition, that person should have complete access to the paper edition. There is a problem with the online version of the crossword puzzle. Refer to today's puzzle (April 14, 2011). Four clues are missing from the clue list. They are have the same clue, which (presumably to save space) is included as a note preceding the clues. The problem is this: the note does not appear in the version of the crossword that is accessible to online solvers. Since you have recently written a lot about the difficulties of the online version of the Times, I thought you might want to look into this problem. Try solving the puzzle online and you should see what I mean."

Hopefully he will persuade Shortz to correct the problem.

Nancy in PA 11:11 AM  

Thought this puzzle was very clever. Got HITFORRIHANNA before the other 3 theme answers but didn't know what it referred to until GENEKELLYPROP came in. Having middle school kids (and a great niece named Ella) means I know the lyric "Under my umbrella, ella, ella, ella," which will now run through my head all day. I associate an umbrella logo more with a Seattle bank, but considering a lot of insurance companies sell umbrella policies, the Travelers thing makes sense.

syndy 11:34 AM  

Both hands up for Rihannas Hat which was my one letter wrong! Write overs include ILIUMandLAPDANCE but saw the note got the umbrella from the travelers logo.I have read the story of civilization and remembered Dr Will's name but not his wife's..actually that whole corner with the hat was a problem almost wore through my computer screen erasing UHURA again and again!GOFREE is such an odd answer.

Arundel 11:42 AM  

Huh. I solve in Across Lite V2.0 (build 4002) and I definitely got the note. I can see how one could easily miss it (and I'm not sure it was all that helpful anyway) but I had a little yellow notepad right up there by the date. I do notice, though, that it doesn't print when you want to do a dead-tree solve.

I think this was one of those days where I was just lucky - not that there's anything wrong with that! I recognized ILION from driving the New York State Thruway (there's an exit sign for Herkimer and Ilion) and my grandfather had The Story of Civilization on the bookcase down at knee-level when I was a kid, so ARIEL was obvious. But having said that, I really wanted ANODE for 1a, although I couldn't imagine anybody who didn't hang around marinas would recognize that!

I think it's the weather again. Today is a great day for garden work and Puzzle-Spouse is already out there!

Simon & Simon & Garfunkel 11:55 AM  

Thanks for clearing up the Temple/TAPDANCE connection. I finished this puzzle except for a few squares where I had EPEE for SNEE and never parsed out RAIN/DVDS, but I was so brutalized I never questioned my autopilot brain's assumption that the fingertips drumming on the side of one's head were the "tapdance" on the temples the clue was looking for. Crossword puzzles make you stupid.

JC66 12:00 PM  

@The Missing Note et al

I do the puzzle using Across Lite for Mac OS X and the (small) yellow note icon appears in the upper left between the date and the author.

BTW, my preference is to read any notes after finishing the solve.

And thanks @Octavian for
"I love the RAIN at the top of the UMBRELLA -- so nonchalant, a lovely touch."

Never saw it.

I do see @Arundel beat me with her/his post

PuzzleNut 12:13 PM  

A pretty good puzzle, but I'm still not a fan of the circles. The "connect the dots" clearly must increase the construction difficulty, but, IMO, does nothing for the solving experience. Why not get rid of the circles and lines, improve the fill, and let the solver figure out the missing clue based solely on the answers. That's my rant and I'm sticking to it.
Plenty of gimmes to get a toehold just about everywhere. Like @BK had a number of write-overs, but nothing that couldn't be unraveled. Favorite clue was the Temple performance. LAP was certainly in the running.

Lindsay 12:13 PM  

Back in the 80s(?) Travelers had a commercial where the camera looked down on a dreary gray sidewalk filled with black umbrellas while a voiceover droned on about insurance. It stuck in my brain as the most pointless tv spot ever.

Years later I learned that the Travelers logo was a red umbrella. Who knew! One of the BLACK umbrellas had been RED! I'd been hornswoggled by watching a black & white televion a decade or two after color came on the market.

On the other hand, I will never forget the logo.

The Bard 12:14 PM  

Troilus and Cressida, Act V, Scene VIII

ACHILLES: Strike, fellows, strike;
this is the man I seek.
(Hector falls)
So Ilion fall thou next ! now ,Troy, sink down !
Here lies thy heart, thy sinews, and thy bone.
On , Myrmidons, and cry you all amain
'Achilles hath the mighty Hector slain.'

Mel Ott 12:18 PM  

Tough solve for me. Never heard of RIHANNA or RADO. Wasn't sure about either til I got here.

Knew NISAN, however. Passover, Holy Week, and Easter are all coming up.

It appears that ILION is the transliteration of the Greek name. For some reason I'm more familiar with the Latin name ILIUM, which doesn't make sense since the Iliad was written in Greek.

Moonchild 12:49 PM  

Pretty tough but I made it.
The puzzle was peppered with just enough gimmees to keep me going.
To all of you people who had lap dance What sort of temple has those?????

william e emba 12:58 PM  

I got the RADO/VALSE cross from spelling out U-M-B-R-E-L-L-A. I've had trouble with VALSE before--it was in the 1/17/11 puzzle.

I recall that instead of clues like "[ ]", the puzzle would have clues like "See note". Speaking as a pen-and-paper-only solver, I think that might be more helpful.

I've always wanted to read Will and ARIEL Durant's massive 11-volume history, although for some reason, I've never gone so far as to even acquire a set. I certainly remember it was frequently offered at a steep discount in some book club or other for new members.

JenCT 12:59 PM  

@ACME: You ignorant slut! (love that line from SNL) And you are not old!

Couldn't understand why Temple was TAP DANCE either.

Surprised by how many don't know RIHANNA. I prefer her original hit, "Pon de Replay."

Great write-up, @Rex.

Too tough for me (and I did see the note first!)

John V 1:09 PM  

So, I'll admit it, took me three hours, on and off. This was hard. SW was last to fall, as I am neither a Trekkie nor an Idol person. Had aping for 10A at the final bell, so a couple of bad letters in the NE.

I am an AL baseball fan but never heard of Halos as a nick for the Angels; had LALAS for a while, which while wrong, is pretty clever, if I do say so.

Ditto pop culture re: 26D: who the heck is Emma Samms?

Agree that cluing was tricky/hard all around.

Here's hoping Friday is a bit more gentle than today.

Nighthawk 1:11 PM  

@JC66 Thanks for that tip. I've seen it but never noticed it. A rollover with mouse reveals the note text, which is much easier than opening the tools menu of Across Lite.

I'll look for it from now on.

Not that it would have helped today, but nice to know.

mmorgan 1:12 PM  

I don't disagree with @PuzzleNut, but in my case, I did get a kick out of figuring out what the circles represented -- not having seen the note.

Nighthawk 1:13 PM  

erm, make that the "view" menu.

William 1:23 PM  

Delayed because I somehow had "Tralee/or/Sligo" where "Travelerslogo" should have been... (Thought I was onto something)

Then finished the puzzle without ever knowing what the gimmick was. Put the circled letters together and saw "album", figured it might be "album/art", but that didn't come close to working. No idea where the note was, nor do I care. As long as the right letters are in the right boxes I'm happy... :>)

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

Crossing valse and rado=bs. Natick.

chefbea 1:42 PM  

Temple and tap dance...Isn't it Shirly Temple??? On the good ship lolly pop...etc etc etc

skua76 2:06 PM  

The brutal week continued for me, both here and elsewhere. Monday was a DNF (until googling) and today showed up my deficiencies in certain segments of pop culture and other trivia such as Jewish months. Never heard of Rihanna, not on any radio I listen to, and after getting the theme I tried in vain to remember the artist with an "Umbrella" song. Sha Na Na? Santana? Rivanna? Even more confusing since I thought I knew Llanos. And I surmised they might do TEA DANCEs in some sort of Japanese temples. As for the software, it sometimes used to pop up a note "see notepad" where that yellow icon is now, never noticed the yellow icon, but now I always go to "View/Notepad" whenever I see circles, before I print the puzzle. Good writeup, Rex.

Oh well, yes, tomorrow is Friday.

quilter1 2:08 PM  

Busy morning so finished over lunch. Thought it was a good Thursday puzzle, had to think through the clever cluing and I'll never complain about that. I did know ARIEL, NISAN and pulled SAMMS out of some dim memory. I thought crossing GENE KELLY PROP with TAP DANCE was as cute as RAIN above the umbrella. Who can forget the Singin' in the Rain number from An American in Paris?

Got the TRAVELERS answer easily with a few crosses as a huge neon red umbrells hovered over downtown Des Moines for decades, and the centerpiece of a downtown public square is a huge sculpture of an umbrella, inspired by the neon one.

Once I had some crosses I could see RIHANNA although she is unknown to me, because she was on the cover of a Vogue magazine ("ow she really feels about her curves") in my doctor's exam room which I was forced to look at for 30 minutes while waiting. So something good came out of that after all.

acme 2:10 PM  

@Jesser
I only play Scrabble in person, but thanks for the invitation! (I didn't see THAT note either! Not too good with computers...and my laptop has crashed :( )

I have to admit, I don't know any Rhianna songs, and just knew her as the gal who had been slapped around by that awful Chris Brown. So "HIT" FOR RHIANNA seems like an alarming choice of words!!!

@OCtavian, @litdoc
Thanks again for YOUR note about RAIN, it really elevated the puzzle for me even more so by 83%!

And I know @Rex doesn't like created jargon that makes this place too clubby, but "Rightover" is the clever moniker Joho created when you take OUT a right answer, to put in another, only to go back to the original correct one...
To have an answer that is IYHO better than the right one was bandied about a few months ago and some were calling it favorite wrong answer of the day, etc. but it still seems open to clever naming, our host's preference for not coining insider-y things notwithstanding! (Personally, I liked your answerve!)

@Matthew G
I too had puttER for too long and went thru every conceivable club in the bag, even trying variations of somethingIRON before getting DRIVER...
Now that I see the RAIN atop the umbrella, I totally get why he had ILLE/SNEE etc. AND no longer care about the JXQZ-ness!

(Maybe being J-Z less is somehow a little RHIANNA snub to Beyonce!)

BRILLIANT, PETER!!!

Octavian 2:32 PM  

Financial trivia:

It was widely believed on Wall Street that Sandy Weill of Citigroup bought Travelers Insurance in 1998 primarily so that he could use the red umbrella logo for Citi. He was enamored w/ the "coverage" metaphor and the fact it was easily recognized.

When TRV was spun out from Citi as a separate company in 2007, it begged Citi to let it have its famous umbrella back. Citi was reluctant, but finally relented.

@acme -- tnx for the history on rightover. glad you like answerve.

jackj 2:35 PM  

Note? What note? I download the puzzles in Across Lite and print them out to solve with my trusty Bic and can attest that there was no mention of a note but, no matter; the puzzle came together pretty easily anyway.

The Shirley Temple clue for TAPDANCE was a master stroke. LAPDANCE? Oops, save it for the Onion puzzle.

The Travelers umbrella tv spots end with a massing of hundreds of red umbrellas covering, say, a neighborhood that their insurance will protect but, in fact, it looks like an attack by angry red insects. Guess it works for the Travelers.

Going from a Gorski puzzle yesterday to a puzzle by a Gorski pretender today gave us double the pleasure, double the fun. Kudos all around.

Kendall 2:43 PM  

Wow this puzzle was hard for me. Took me 4 hours to solve this beast (Not looking constantly, though).

In "No way!" does 18A translate to MY EYE for me. I think I get it, but I've definitely never heard anyone use that expression before.

Guessed PMS for 41A which was a nearly unrecoverable error for me. Had ISLAM not jumped out I never would have finished.

The circles are in the shape of an UMBRELLA? Really? If you say so I guess...

jeremy 3:08 PM  

Cute puzzle. Kept looking for Mary Poppins' umbrella too. An Eliz Gorski homage that seemed more like a Gorski than yesterday's Gorski. Nice.

CaseAce 3:14 PM  

If the rather dampish classic Gene Kelly film was released today as a remake in Bollywood, would it be retitled "Singhing in the Ranee"?

Gil.I.Pollas 3:33 PM  

@The Missing Note:
I went back to re-open the crossword and never saw the yellow thingie - but, thank you for addressing this problem.
I know I would have enjoyed this one had I read the "note."
Just now went back to read all the comments to see how everyone else fared. I'm pretty OK with jumble words and I play a mean scrabble so...I guess trying to decipher a word at 3:00 am rattles my already rattled brain.
Kudos to those that got "it."

Anonymous 3:42 PM  

Toughest Thursday in quite a while! Drew the figure wrong so no clue there. Couldn't get into it until I finally got "Gene Kelly Prop". From Singin' in the rain, of course! That gave me umbrella. Duh! Couldn't get Ilion - I "KNEW" it was Ilium - as in
"The topless towers of..."

Anonymous 4:13 PM  

Wow - that seemed very hard to me for a Thursday. But it was lovely. Great week. Is it my imagination or are some entire weeks harder than others?

sanfranman59 4:48 PM  

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

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

Thu 22:18, 19:07, 1.17, 82%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 10:59, 9:13, 1.19, 81%, Challenging

Anonymous 4:56 PM  

Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Didn't know about note until I came here. Had my aha moment with Rihanna. No errors. No googling. Lots of guessing and even more fun.

Ulrich 5:19 PM  

I'm late bc it took me quite a while to figure things out sans note--like anon before me, I'm the prouder for it.

And I'm glad I stopped by in spite of the late time bc it eliminated one qualm I had about the puzzle: If you list different uses of umbrellas, I expect rain protection to be high up on the list. But I just learned that the puzzle accounts for that in a very creative way, and for that to work, we need the connect-the-dots umbrella, long handle or not...bravo, PM!

Anonymous 5:20 PM  

Service break = randr???? Second time according to Rex. Don't remember the first time and don't get it at all this time.

JC66 5:31 PM  

@Anonymous 5:20

Think military service.

mac 5:41 PM  

I must be the only one who completely got stumped or naticked at the Southern end. It had a lot do to with not knowing how to spell Rihanna's name, although I knew the umbrella hit and the Saab. Mtns seems pretty generic for those animals!

Gravlax has a ton of salt and just a tiny bit of dill. Ream out was a new one for me.

Loved the rain above the umbrella, which I actually drew today.

I thought the pirate put out a cuss, slowed me down no end there as well. Spelling parlor with a u didn't help either.

mac 5:43 PM  

No note at all in the Intl. Herald Tribune.

chefbea 6:15 PM  

@mac I had salt at first for gravlox as well

prestrip=what you do before a lapdance

mac 6:21 PM  

@chefbea: of course, we've actually made it!

Anonymous 6:22 PM  

Thank you JC66. Now that I get it, I do remember it being in a puzzle recently. And that time, for some reason, it made sense. Maybe it was a more understandable clue.

Anonymous 6:35 PM  

I would have rated this puzzle as challenging except that I was able to complete the puzzle with the theme answers and the umbrella "drawing" without any googling. But I had a few wrong letters in the NE corner. ARIEL intersecting with ILION and HALOS forced me to guess.
I also had KIT FOR RIHANNA. I hate those Star Trek characters. Never interested in any of these shows.

Anonymous 7:25 PM  

I saw the note but still "had no clue" until I de-coded GeneKellyprop. Still don't understand how they wanted you to draw an umbrella!

acme 7:31 PM  

@Kendall
Draw it connecting the circled letters in order, starting with the U on the bottom and you very clearly get an umbrella! It's wonderful, really.

Also, MY EYE is super old-fashioned, probably not used here too often, but I know they say it in French too, they sort of tug down their eye and say out loud, or not, "Mon Oeil!" which sort of means "bullshit", or "I don't believe it".

CoffeeLvr 8:20 PM  

@Anonymous at 6:35pm, some of us were teenage girls when Star Trek took to the airwaves, or should I say when the Enterprise explored brave new worlds. We took all the characters very seriously, especially the men.

fergus 8:24 PM  

Half the magazines seem to have a picture of Rihanna and her flaming hair on the cover, at least those in the check-out aisles at the market. I don't know how you could fit a hat on that mane -- but that's what I entered too.

michael 8:29 PM  

I guess there are some advantages to doing the puzzle with pen and paper. Judging from the comments, I'm in the minority solving with an actual newspaper.

william e emba 10:18 PM  

In other news, Susan Lucci loses her job as All My Children is being cancelled. (Ellen Ripstein was known as the Susan Lucci of crossword puzzles--Google if you don't know the story. It actually made it into the New Yorker.)

Charles Dickens used the phrase MY EYE, with a sometimes different, sometimes similar, meaning in Our Mutual Friend.
===================================
'Say you haven't, Mr Riah.'

'Sir, I have,' replied the old man in a low voice.

'Oh my eye!' cried Fledgeby. 'Tut, tut, tut! Dear, dear, dear! Well! I knew you were a hard customer, Mr Riah, but I never thought you were as hard as that.'
===================================
Pulling at the bell again and getting no reply, she pushed the outer door, and found it standing ajar. No one being visible on her opening it wider, and the spluttering continuing, she took the liberty of opening an inner door, and then beheld the extraordinary spectacle of Mr Fledgeby in a shirt, a pair of Turkish trousers, and a Turkish cap, rolling over and over on his own carpet, and spluttering wonderfully.

'Oh Lord!' gasped Mr Fledgeby. 'Oh my eye! Stop thief! I am strangling. Fire! Oh my eye! A glass of water. Give me a glass of water. Shut the door. Murder! Oh Lord!' And then rolled and spluttered more than ever.

Hurrying into another room, Miss Jenny got a glass of water, and brought it for Fledgeby's relief: who, gasping, spluttering, and rattling in his throat betweenwhiles, drank some water, and laid his head faintly on her arm.

'Oh my eye!' cried Fledgeby, struggling anew. 'It's salt and snuff. It's up my nose, and down my throat, and in my wind-pipe. Ugh! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ah—h—h—h!' And here, crowing fearfully, with his eyes starting out of his head, appeared to be contending with every mortal disease incidental to poultry.

'And Oh my Eye, I'm so sore!' cried Fledgeby, starting, over on his back, in a spasmodic way that caused the dressmaker to retreat to the wall. 'Oh I smart so! Do put something to my back and arms, and legs and shoulders. Ugh! It's down my throat again and can't come up. Ow! Ow! Ow! Ah—h—h—h! Oh I smart so!' Here Mr Fledgeby bounded up, and bounded down, and went rolling over and over again.

The dolls' dressmaker looked on until he rolled himself into a corner with his Turkish slippers uppermost, and then, resolving in the first place to address her ministration to the salt and snuff, gave him more water and slapped his back. But, the latter application was by no means a success, causing Mr Fledgeby to scream, and to cry out, 'Oh my eye! don't slap me! I'm covered with weales and I smart so!'
===================================
'I'll make myself scarce. Are you comfortable now?'

'Oh my eye!' cried Mr Fledgeby. 'No, I ain't. Oh—h—h! how I do smart!'

The last thing Miss Jenny saw, as she looked back before closing the room door, was Mr Fledgeby in the act of plunging and gambolling all over his bed, like a porpoise or dolphin in its native element.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

To draw the umbrella, you have to connect the circles with [42A]"arcs."

Larry 6:26 AM  

I always do NYT and LAT crosswords in pen, which is OK for Monday-Wednesday NYT (LAT-all week in pen). By Thursday, it's pen, then Merriam-Webster's Collegiate dictionary, then pencil, then Google. Dictionaried gravlax, Wahhabi, googled "gumbo" language, "Moving Out: choreographer, Ravel's La Valse and Passover month and then it all fell into place. Is this ethical?

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle, but terrible diagram. "Connect the dots in line..." but the UMB don't look like a handle, the A isn't over the B, so the pole is crooked, and the ELL looks more like a pyramid than the top of an umbrella. And it's asymmetrical. And who ever heard of a Saab Aero?

Rick 1:05 PM  

i'm realizing more and more everyday how these worthless puzzles are tools of TPTBs to keep us distracted and thinking inside their box. the nyt puzzle has lots its luster....what a shame as i've been puzzling for over a decade.

tim 1:43 PM  

Took me a while and one error, but I liked this puzzle. Even more after seeing the comments about RAIN and ARCS.

But I see no mention here of SAMMS umbrellas. Didn't know about these until Google (apres solve) but it leaves me wondering how many other theme-related answers are hidden in there. Like it!

Cary in Boulder 2:31 PM  

Only thing I know about Rihanna is that her ex-boyfriend, Chris somebody, beat her up. Hmmm, maybe he should have been the clue. Otherwise this one beat ME up pretty good, even tho I saw the note and figured out UMBRELLA.

Dirigonzo 5:25 PM  

Syndicated puzzle appeared on May 20 and an actual headline on the front page of the the Portland Press Herald was "Sun expected back from vacation this weekend", so you know it's been raining for a while in Maine - this made the umbrella theme seem quite appropriate for the day.

@acme's closing parenthesis immediately following her "frownie-face" emoticon makes it look mildly obscene somehow.

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