Summer Triangle star / WED 4-6-11 / Stereotypical glass fillers / Yellowstone foragers / Carrier renamed in 1997

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Constructor: Gareth Bain

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: DOUBLE HEADERS (34A: Once-common baseball events and a hint to 16-, 24-, 46- and 57-Across) — theme answers are two-word phrases where both words can precede "HEAD" in familiar phrases.

Word of the Day: ALMA, MI (18A: Michigan college town) —

Alma is the largest city in Gratiot County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 9,275 at the 2000 census. It was incorporated as the Village of Alma in 1872 and became a city in 1905. // Alma's claims to fame include the annual Highland Festival which brings members of Scottish clans and interested onlookers together for a weekend of Highland dancing, bagpipes, kilts, and camaraderie. The Highland Festival is held each year over Memorial Day weekend. Alma College, a small liberal-arts institution of approximately 1,300 students, is located in town and focuses on multidisciplinary learning in a residential setting. (wikipedia)

• • •

A familiar theme type. There are approximately one billion words that can precede HEAD in familiar phrases, so options here were probably plentiful, allowing for two-word theme answers that are completely natural and unforced. Not a very exciting or interesting or funny theme. Just ... a theme. Fine. OK. Sadly, there's not a lot of interesting fill outside the theme, so the whole thing ends up feeling a little flat. Very choppy grid with lots of short fill and a bit more crosswordese than I normally want to see. Check out xwordese xorner down there in the SW, with AROD over REUP over ASTI ... and ELIOT and USAIR (49D: Carrier renamed in 1997) and SSRS just across the way. Not sure why four cheater squares were needed to make the grid work, but there they are (see FAQ for def. of "cheater squares"). There's really not a lot to say about this one. The theme is what it is. The fill is ordinary at best. The end.

Found the cluing off in a couple of places. DENTURES are [Stereotypical glass fillers]? "Stereotypical?" "Oh, you know how DENTURES are, always ... being in glasses..." They're often found in glasses, or often depicted in glasses, but "stereotypical" just feels like the wrong word. I get that you were going for misdirection on this clue, but "stereotypical" is taking it a bit far. And "Beat it!" for "GO HOME!"? If I tell you to beat it, I am not telling you where to go, I'm just telling you to get away from here. There is nothing, zero, in "beat it" that suggests "home." I have a giant "NO" written next to that clue.

Puzzle went down pretty easily, though I certainly screwed up in a number of places, starting with (shocker!) GO HOME, which I had as GO AWAY. I then had EVADED for ELUDED (3D: Got away from), and, later, SEEP IN for SOAK IN (39A: Absorb thoroughly).

Theme answers:
  • 16A: Thor, for one (THUNDER GOD)
  • 24A: Ones often marrying in a hurry (WAR BRIDES) — why? I didn't know haste was involved. Is it because the men are being shipped back home? The wikipedia page on war brides doesn't mention haste as a factor.
  • 46A: Calypso instrument (STEEL DRUM)
  • 57A: It's undeliverable (DEAD LETTER) — I had never heard this term until R.E.M. released an album in the late '80s called "Dead Letter Office.

  • 14A: Language that gave us "kiwi" (MAORI) — my non-war bride is a "kiwi," so no problem here.
  • 4D: Summer Triangle star (DENEB) — Never heard of "Summer Triangle," but learned DENEB from crosswords a few years back, so at least the answer was familiar once I saw it. If you've never heard of DENEB, it really looks nuts.
  • 10D: Yellowstone forager (MULE DEER) — do they look like mules? Hmm, wiki says they get their name from their large, mule-like ears. Huh. Interesting.
  • 48A: Walks like a tosspot (REELS) — "Walks like a tosspot" being the far less successful SIDE B of "Walk Like an Egyptian"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Anonymous 12:09 AM  

I thought of a war bride as primarily one who marries their guy just before he ships out, so haste may be relevant. Wiki had no such notion. One reason not to trust Wiki.
Why do people so like to refer to drunks tosspots?

Tobias Duncan 12:14 AM  

That was about as fast a Wed as I have ever done. Beat yestedays time by... well quite a bit.
Plane Jane for sure but I had fun.
WARBRIDES = definitely connotations of haste for me.

Anonymous 12:30 AM  

Just got in from the Rod Stewart/Stevie Nicks concert. Needed my puzzle (don't go there) and found it delightful since I'm in the state of delightful. Rex/ your write-ups and always come away with learning something. Good thing. Sweet dreams all.

retired_chemist 12:43 AM  

Alma MI's OTHER claim to fame is that my non-puzzle wife lived there for about two decades and taught at Hillcrest Elementary for most of that time. We were married in 2007 (by the Alma College chaplain emeritus) and she then came to TX. She returns regularly to see friends and family. So, thanks for the shout-out you didn't know you gave, Rex.

Oh, the puzzle - liked Monday's a lot better. Other than having to sort out the debris from having first made 19A MAMMAL and having put WED for 26A, not much to it. I suppose one might imagine a projection of A STRAW, but Mr. Happy Pencil was unforgiving.

lit.doc 12:50 AM  

Looked to be a way easy Wednesday puzzle. Then there was the SW. Mostly done in just over ten, and then SW sucked up another 8 minutes. Laughed like hell when I finally saw 34D. Fun clue and answer, though Rex makes a very good point about “stereotypical”. Main hang up down there for me was the apparent correctness of BONGO DRUM. And beer n + 1 perhaps.

Theme was fine for Wednesday. But by the time I got it, it it only “confirmed” ____DRUM, thus lending undue credibility to my BONGO misstep.

Fav misdirection was the clue for 44D, “Set right” for INDENT. Nice.

CoffeeLvr 12:52 AM  

Very smooth easy solve for me. I agree with Rex, nothing spectacular about it.

I did not see how WAR could precede head, until I consulted Google. Then I remembered the sour candy from the days my son was in middle school.

Thanks for being here Rex and crew.

Mr. and Mrs. Masked and Anonymous 12:59 AM  

New approach here tonight. Spouse and I worked it together, alternating back and forth, filling in two answers each. (Except one time, spouse got excited as she headed for the bottom line, and kicked some extra behinds.) Didn't take long. No writeovers. We were in the zone. Remember we had G?H???, so GOHOME was my quick fill-in at 2-D.

MER?/SU?RE was our puz's last stand; spouse thought MERC sounded reasonable for "mercantile". And done.

Seemed like puz had a thick helping of abbreviations, or partial abbrs like DNALAB, USAIR. 14 sound about right? Pretty healthy U-count, tho; nice. Not too scrabbly (K, 2W's?), but sometimes that just leads to trouble for everyone, anyhow.

Theme was pretty smooth -- it didn't really help us much during the solve, tho. Godhead and steelhead made engine lights come on, but there they are, in the dictionary, so ... OK.

chefwen 1:02 AM  

Another super easy puzzle for me this week, are we going to get slammed later?

Write overs were at 35D, had dined OUT before ORDER OUT, never think of ordering out as no one delivers here in the boonies. OHO over aHa (as usual) and RODENT over RODaNT because apparently I can't spell worth a s#t*. Makes it kinda of hard to do a puzzle.

CoolPapaD 1:13 AM  

OK - I've looked at least twice - maybe it's because I have an old computer (doubtful), but I cannot find the FAQs, and I still do not know what a cheater square is - I'm not going to be able to sleep....

I liked this puzzle, but I've never heard of a God head - I did follow the Dead around for a bit in the early - mid '80s. Much fun, that.

CoolPapaD 1:14 AM  

OK - never mind. Just found the FAQs....

andre classes mascara 2:50 AM  

wow! I have nothing to say! But that's never stopped me before!

Oh wait! I don't know what the following are:
Thunder Head, brides head (revisited?), steel head or drum head.
Am I a stupid head?

Anonymous 3:16 AM  

Even Rex can be confused about cheater squares. Rex spotted the four around the outside but there are either six or eight, depending on how you count them. In the top half, the black square to the left of 29 is a cheater. Or if not, then the black square above 36 is. They can both be cheaters but, oddly perhaps, not both at the same time because if one is removed, the other must stay to preserve the word count. Same for the two equivalent ones in the lower half.

AV 4:22 AM  

@Anonymous 3:16 am: I count only two cheater squares (+ their symmetrical counterparts) - i) block next to PDAS and its counterpart and ii) the block next to OBESE as you point out (and its counterpart).

Rex hits the nail on the key issue - these cheater squares are not needed. You can remove all these cheater squares AND get a nice fill.

Note this is a debut and it is likely the constructor does not have a sophisticated database so the above is forgiven! :-)

Overall, though, despite Rex's broad brush that there must be hundreds (or billions) of other such combo words, this is a great debut .. so congrats to Gareth!

Gil.I.Pollas 4:30 AM  

Wow. THUNDER,WAR,STEEL,DEAD ? And Why does Cary Grant look like he's wearing my grandmother's wig?

Anonymous 5:09 AM  

A cumulonimbus cloud might be called a 'thunderhead' as they are usually stormclouds. A steelhead is a fish, much sought by anglers. Brideshead is from the title of the novel, I assume. And the surface of a drum is called the drumhead...rum pa pum pum. But you'd never be a stupidhead.

It is sad that Rexie learned names of stars from crosswords. If you go outside at night, Rexie, and look UP, see, there are these little points of light....

Rube 5:42 AM  

I really should make my comments here before doing the LAT puzzle. The only two circled clues/answers were ALMA and DENTURES, both easily gettable from crosses.

Otherwise, a quick, enjoyable, and easy puzzle.

Rex Parker 6:12 AM  

There are four cheater squares. You cannot count the squares around a central theme answer.


Greene 7:06 AM  

Found this much easier than yesterday and finished much more quickly. Last two letters in the grid were the L in ALMA and the C in SUCRE, both guesses and both correct. Yeah, me!

Nancy in PA 7:23 AM  

I actually liked REUP because it's a word that is in use, rather than yesterday's RETABLE or some made-up convenience like REIRON never to be heard in real conversation.
My mother was a war bride, marrying in such a hurry (on my dad's short home leave) that she wore my aunt's dress from two years before. Then I wore it 40 years later, though I married at leisure. My daughter tried it on the other day and I could see her wearing it 10-15 years hence.
Congrats on a good debut, Gareth Bain!

Matthew G. 7:31 AM  

Last letter entered was the E at the crossing of SOLE and DENEB. Having never heard of either the star or sole amandine before, I had to try each vowel to get it to submit. After filling it in, I thought "sole amandine" must be some kind of gemstone, but no, it's apparently a way of cooking the fish known as sole. Never seen it on a menu.

The theme was at least partly lost on me -- I guess today was my day not to know my fish, since I didn't see how STEELDRUM fit with the theme, but now I see that a steelhead is a kind of trout. Also didn't know that the membrane on a drum is called a drumhead!

A serviceable puzzle, but nothing that grabbed me. Average Wednesday time, not counting my technical DNF on account of the last square.

SethG 8:02 AM  

Didn't know godhead or drumhead. Like the plural BRIDES/Brideshead match.

mmorgan 8:19 AM  

Breezed through it but the SE took longer, despite having BLONDE and DEADLETTER in place.

Theme was irrelevant in the solve; even when I was done I was baffled by it. (Another stupid head, @Andrea!) Coming here, I see it's one of those "Oh. Okay." themes. And puzzles.

Joe 8:36 AM  

Kinda hated it. Got DOUBLEHEADER almost immediately and rolled my eyes. "Why oh why are xword people such baseball freaks?" Personal pref. But now I get why some are annoyed by constant Simpsons references. My big gripe is that I just don't get the theme. I get that each theme answer has two words that can precede the word "head." But, to me, "Double Header" doesn't describe that at all. Just me? It felt forced.

quilter1 8:39 AM  

I liked all of the theme answers, plus SOLE amandine is delish. The theme answers with "head" were all familiar to me so I guess it is just a matter of knowing what you know. Often I learn a lot from the puzzle and hope I remember it later.

Yes, Cary is wearing a wig. That movie is hilarious. He's an Englishman who married a WAC and needs to accompany her on a ship to the states. Only there's a glitch because he's a man and so can't be a "war bride." So his wife disguises him as a WAC to get him on the ship. As I recall, the wig is a horse's tail. A funny and sexy movie without a single swear word.

whael: what I do when the restaurant is out of sole almandine

joho 8:46 AM  

@AV ... I don't think anything in any published NYT puzzle should be be forgiven for being less than stellar, especially a debut puzzle as E.J. Masicampo demonstrated yesterday.

@Rex, I totally agree with your write up today.

fikink 9:17 AM  

I am intrigued by the real news in the puzzle: CUR SUES BLONDE.

Gareth Bain, you buried the lead!
But it was a nice debut, after all. Keep them coming.

OldCarFudd 9:20 AM  

I must have drunk some kindness juice for breakfast, because I liked this way more than most of y'all did. All the theme words do what they're supposed to do, they're all in the language, and there are some good fill words (mule deer, dentures, mascara, dimple, indent). I'm one of the folks who don't give a hoot about cheater squares. Nice puzzle in its own right, only a little more so because it's a debut. Don't get discouraged, Gareth; come back!

chefbea 9:21 AM  

Found this easy but didn't get the theme. Thanks Anon 5:09 for explaing to Andrea. I had the same questions.

Love sole almondine!!!

@Quilter1 - tried to post last night but blogger wouldn't let me. Love your new avatar. I should really take up quilting

JenCT 9:44 AM  

Didn't know the phrase DEAD LETTER. Not crazy about DUDES or DENTURES clues or GO HOME answer; agree w/Rex. Only got DENEB from crosses.

Also think INDENT was the best answer.

It's Husky-mania around here - congrats to UConn!

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

Is BRIDESHEAD an actual word, or simply the name of a fictional manor house in Waugh's novel? Because all the rest are real things.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

It seems weird when there are "hints" to answers that are easily solved from the clues, or, if not, impossible to solve from the hints.

For example, say you never heard of Thor, and someone said, "I'll give you a hint: doubleheaders."

Would you say, "Oh yes, of course. Thunder god."

I submit you would not.

Maybe instead of "and a hint to" the puzzle writer should have said "and bearing a rather obscure relationship to."

Still, a fast but enjoyable puzzle. Good to see "wanton" in play.

Lindsay 10:01 AM  

Just think. If MLB still scheduled double headers, the Red Sox could lose twice as often.

santafefran 10:34 AM  

What--no love for WANTON??

solae--sole without the amandine

JC66 10:41 AM  

Per On-line Webster

Definition of WAR BRIDE

: a woman who marries a serviceman ordered into active service in time of war
: a woman who marries a serviceman especially of a foreign nation met during a time of war

Bob Kerfuffle 10:50 AM  

Ah, nostalgia . . . 16 A, a real THUNDERGOD, but Ryan and Brian are no longer blogging to appreciate him!

Two Ponies 10:50 AM  

Not the cleverest puzzle but good enough. If I had written it I would have been proud of myself.
I really dislike amoeba as spelled in the grid.
Being unaware of what or who Deneb was I thought Summer Triangle was one of the thousands of TV shows/movies I have never seen.
Who's the stupid head now?
Me, evidently.

nanpilla 10:59 AM  

solved the puzzle just fine without figuring out the theme. Then I looked at the reveal and tried to figure out how each of those answers could start a phrase ending with DOUBLE. After getting the gimmick, it still seems that a better reveal would be something like HEAD STARTS.

Sparky 11:05 AM  

Found it easy. Like @Andrea and @mmorgan, couldn't see theme. Stuck on trying to see if Thor had two faces or heads like Janus. Ah well; AMEBA, amoeba? Felt kind of old timey with WARBRIDES, DOUBLEHEADERS, DEADLETTER, my generation. Truit almondine did not fit. @Rex: Walk Like an Egyptian, tee hee.

Agree with @chefbea, beautiful new quilt @quilter1. I liked the flying saucers, too.

CoffeeLvr 11:08 AM  

@quilter1, I too noticed your new work. Just stunning. Very intricate, I am so not the type to quilt, but I can appreciate!

Hand up for being a stupid head. I later recalled that WARhead can refer to a missile, not just candy. Dr. Google mis-prioritizes based on commercial value. One can buy candy on line, but not WMD.

JaxInL.A. 11:09 AM  

My favorite clues were the already-noted "Set right" for INDENT, plus "Pair on a couch" for armrests.  Went through it pretty easily.  My experience of the theme was just like @nanpilla's, and I agree with @TwoPonies that if I had created this and gotten it published in the NYT, I'd be justifiably proud. .

@Rube, I also find that I enjoy the write-ups better if I have the puzzle clearly in my mind, and if I do two puzzles in a row and then come here, I get the two a little muddled.  This is especially true when puzzles share clues/answers. 

Since I'm getting faster at this, I find I can usually fit in solving two puzzles a day. Sometimes M-W I might get through NYT, LAT and CS (only early week, though). But I gotta come here first.

@chefwen, after three quick puzzle days in a row, I'm waiting for the boom to drop too.

@JenCT, congratulations, not only on the men's win, but on that spectacular women's semi-final, even if Notre Dame took it in the end. Does it help that the Aggies took out the Irish last night?  

Women's basketball is the only sport I pay any attention to at all.  According to NPR's Tom Goldman, last night's women's final was the best national championship game of the week, which is saying something.  And yet they had empty seats in the arena.  

quilter1 11:12 AM  

Coincidentally, I read a quote from Julian of Norwich this morning that contained the word godhead.
Thanks for the compliments everyone.

Look Up Guy 11:41 AM  

It's a toss up in the NYT Puzzle:

AMEBA = 36

In *common* usage, most dictionaries list AMOEBA as an alternate spelling of AMEBA, but generally, not the reverse.

OTOH, a not insignificance number of preferences for AMOEBA can be found.

As usual, Google *Hits* are meaningless.

Arundel 11:44 AM  

For a Wednesday, this just seemed too easy. The west was very smooth, but the east (with the exception of the lovely FURL and WANTON) just seemed flat.

As to the theme? Pfft. I just slapped down those doubleheaders without seeing any of their relation to each other. Yeah, now I get it, but it didn't really add much to the puzzle.

And, while waiting for the Red Sox to lift themselves out of their gawdawful early season slump, I'm shifting my allegiance to the Portland Sea Dogs!

JaxInL.A. 11:55 AM  

My family is from the Caribbean, so I liked seeing STEELDRUM in the grid.  For those who don't know, a STEEL DRUM is not just a drum with a steel body.

A steel drum, or pan, consists of a (usually 55 gallon) metal oil drum cut to some depth (depending on desired tonal range), with the flat top pressed into a concave shape and then dived into sections which are hammered, tempered and tuned to give a wide range of notes when struck with short, rubber-knobbed mallet.  Much like a xylophone, it is possible to play any type of music on these percussion instruments, and classical music takes on a sparkly quality when played by a STEEL DRUM orchestra. 

You can hear a variety of styles of music played on pans here.

Casual Browser 11:58 AM  

Considering all the complaints regarding online vs. printed format of some puzzles over the years, I would direct the attention of the technically well-informed to the post on Diary of a Crossword Fiend (easily reached thru the link Rex provides) immediately following today's DoaCF, regarding the future of Across Lite and the .puz and .jpz.

Maybe you could tell the rest of us what it all means.

jackj 11:58 AM  

As a debut puzzle, we might cut a bit of slack for the constructor but, that aside, this was an easy Monday, not a gnarly Wednesday.

The only thing that needed to be wrestled with was the theme's meaning and try as I might to want it to be more than simply the theme entries creating new words by adding "head" to each one, it seems that that's all there is.


mmespeer 12:01 PM  

Finished the puzzle but didn't get the theme till I came to the blog, but that's not unusual for me and one of the reasons I so appreciate this site and the contributors. I especially look forward to the daily appropriate name of today's "andre classes mascarara".

Howard B 12:15 PM  

It's pretty amazing to hear a 6 or 8-piece steel drum band, playing intermixed melodies and rhythms. Amazing the sounds you can get from those things.
Hearing that always makes me wish I was in the Caribbean again on vacation.

Anyway, kind of liked this puzzle. A few rough spots (GO HOME especially), but just my gut reaction, without any in-depth analysis. Thought the theme was solid and worked well, though I did have to examine it all post-solve to appreciate it.

Greene 12:22 PM  

Thanks so much for the link to the steeldrum webpage. I'm completely fascinated by the range of the instrument. I had no idea steeldrums could be played with such agility and the sound of the steeldrum orchestra is entirely unexpected -- so silvery and light. Not at all what I expected. Now if there were just a visual. I'd love to see what a steeldrum orchestra looks like.

Anoa Bob 12:29 PM  

I agree with Nancy in PA on REUP. For me it's the opposite of crosswordese. It's a term I heard often in the military, but I think this is the first time I've seen it in a crossword. I think that makes it realwordese.

And I was watching a Yankees game the other night and guess who hit a go-ahead home run. Yep, A ROD. That's what the announcer called him.

Nice work Mr. Bain. Plenty of good fill and nice cluing. I think you should reup for another tour of puzzle making.

Mel Ott 12:32 PM  

@Jax: Another CT resident and Husky fan here. No, ND's loss does not help. I usually root for the Big East team against anyone but UConn. Sure happy about the guys, tho.

You are right about STEEL DRUMS and classical music. During one of my early morning walks at Fisherman's Wharf some years ago a street musician was playing Bach's "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" on a STEEL DRUM. Hauntingly beautiful.

william e emba 12:48 PM  

Finally! A Peer Gynt clue that I could get without thinking!

There is no issue with GO HOME being clued by "beat it". Both are idiomatic phrases, and trying to parse them as literal requests is pointless. I imagine the scene in some movie with the junior scamp pestering some fellow, who says either "scram" or "beat it kid" or "go home kid" or the like. Protesters at an American embassy waving a placard "Yankees go home" are not actually concerned if the Yankees in question don't return to the US but go to some other foreign country.

I did not grok the theme until I got here. I kept trying to squeeze the word DOUBLE into each theme half.

ACME: your comment reminds of the joke about two Jewish mothers kvelling about their sons. The first says to the second, "my son is a professor, and he can talk about anything at all for an hour". The second responds to the first, "my son is a rabbi, and he can talk about nothing at all for two hours!"

JaxInL.A. 12:50 PM  

I went to to get the LAT and CS puzzles (yeah!) and ended up reading a totally engaging, long interview with Merle Reagle.  check it out!

@Casual Browser, thanks for the referral to @Orange's article on the future of online access to puzzles.  I've linked to the article only, for those who don't want to see comments on puzzles they haven't solved yet.    

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

"There are four cheater squares. You cannot count the squares around a central theme answer."

Ridiculous. Your own FAQ doesn't even note "Except when I subtract the ones I don't want to count." The constructor could have found a more challenging central theme answer or scrapped the theme entirely.

There are 6 cheater squares.
Xword Info

Noam D. Elkies 1:18 PM  

...In other words, each of the four 34A:DOUBLE_HEADERS becomes an example of last Sunday's "triple bond" theme if we append HEAD: thunder/god/head, war/brides/head, etc.


syndy 2:08 PM  

I did wonder if Brideshead was the item that didn't match.The theme came into play for me at the last making dead letter a gimmee.I had hoped rex would adorn his blog today with a taste of GARY MULE DEER but twas not to be!Spent some time last night pondering the circumstance that a porcupine is a rodent but a hedgehog is not!? finally @LINDSAY don't be hating!

KarenSampsonHudson 2:34 PM  

I found this fun and not at all difficult---just the thing for a day when I'm wrestling with piles of papers for tax forms!

Sfingi 2:57 PM  

HTG for SUCRE and DENEB. I guess Bolivia's capitals are a double header.

Despite my having got the theme answers, I didn't really understand the theme, since I thought they all had to be DOUBLE HEADERS, and only the common use of 2 or more STEEL DRUMS seemed to work. Or, did Thor have 2 heads, like Janus? Oh well.

Had nOrMs before DOGMA and thought MASCARA was going to be nASCARs.

The worst is, I got PAR crosses PDAS wrong, since I had cAR crosses cDAS (file extensions). I'm far from with-it.

DENTURES doesn't pass the breakfast test. Hubster just got a partial implant. Way to go, but pricey.

@Anon1230 - Wow! did you actually time-travel?

Glad it was the feminine BLONDE rather than BLOND, one of the few words for which we differentiate.
(Also, brunette, brunet)

@Emba - if you haven't, you must read Peer Gynt!

Stan 3:26 PM  

Wait a minute, I don't think we're giving the theme enough credit. The addition of 'head' doesn't just make new phrases but new words: thunderhead, godhead, warhead, etc. I was thrown off by Dead Head (usually two words) but 'to deadhead' is common in gardening.

@fikink: Funny!

Joe the Trucker 3:32 PM  

@Stan - "Deadhead" in gardening? Huh? To deadhead is to bring an empty truck back to the terminal, no cargo, not making any money.

jackj 4:29 PM  

Stan and Joe the Trucker- You're both right; this is the M-W entry for "deadhead" as a verb:

Definition of DEADHEAD

intransitive verb
: to make especially a return trip without a load
: to deadhead a plant
transitive verb
: to remove the faded flowers of (a plant) especially to keep a neat appearance and to promote reblooming by preventing seed production

sanfranman59 4:31 PM  

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

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

Wed 9:59, 11:44, 0.85, 21%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:00, 5:46, 0.87, 20%, Easy

The median solve time for both groups of on-line solvers is lower than yesterday's.

Deborah 4:38 PM  

The FAQ link is along the top of the webpage above the big "Rex Parker" banner.

David from CA 4:42 PM  

To be totally unnecessarily pedantic, by the definition in FAQ there are 6 cheaters, since they are defined purely as a grid feature. The ones on either side of double headers are certainly necessary once you've added in the theme to the equation.
Or perhaps the definition is just incomplete?

Kendall 4:45 PM  

Dropped in DOUBLE HEADERS without a single cross which was the highlight of this puzzle for me. My first reactions were "What is a GOD head or a BRIDES head?"

Agree with Rex about the crosswordese but I've seen all of those words so I was able to fill them in. Felt *blah* about them but it's done with.

The thing that gave me the hardest time initially starting out was AMEBA, which I've only ever seen spelled as AMoEBA (unless these are different things? - I doubt it).

JC66 5:38 PM  


If you go to Youtube and enter *steel drums* you'll be able to view numerous clips of steel drum bands.

BTW, thanks for the tip on The Book of Mormon. Because of you I was able to get great seats the day before the show was reviewed.

David from WA 8:39 PM  

Why isn't the square above 45 a cheater?

David from WA 8:41 PM  

Oh, and Droids and iPhones are smartphones, not PDAs.

Stephen 8:55 PM  

Like several others here, I had to finish before I appreciated the theme. This is the sort of theme that is stock Xwordese, but flat; it's much more fun when you get useful clues out of the theme.

Let me repeat the whine regarding AMEBA! gag me with a spoon. I got the right idea from the clue, but just could not believe anyone would spell it that way... had to wait for all crosses before I was willing to leave it there. Crosswording is a culprit in the dismemberment of language because constructors all always under temptation to use bastardized spellings.

In my world, the only meaning of B.O. is Body Odor. I had to google it to find out somebody had the bad taste to refer to a box office that way.

Let me repeat the praise for "set right".

And finally, is an IMAC not a Personal Computer? What I consider non-Politically Correct is to use anything from Microsoft.

bigSteveSF 12:00 AM  

@David from WA said...
Why isn't the square above 45 a cheater?
Because that would be a violation, Hanging/Orphan Letter, used in only one word.

I liked overall, but didn't like GO HOME clue. Nite all.

Tita 9:57 AM  

If you got REDSHIFT last week, you knew DENEB today...

Raced through this Wed, even though I neveer got the theme till I got here...

And now learned about cheater squares - thanks everyone for the banter and the daily pearls o'wisdom...

solasoletta 1:11 PM  

I always thought "ameba" was spelled "amoeba." To each his own.

jberg 5:31 PM  

Ah, these are innocent times - I see there really are candies called warheads, but before they were candies they were the bombs carried by intercontinental ballistic missiles, as in MIRVs - Multiple warhead Independently targeted Reentry Vehicles.

Puzzle was easy, but I didn't get the theme until I read the blog.

Cary in Boulder 1:01 PM  

Love the picture of what looks like my namesake as a war bride, but more likely it's Bob Dobbs in drag:

I, too, got all the theme answers and was scratching my head until I got here.

NotalwaysrightBill 1:24 PM  


And if any puzzle makes allusion to BRIDEShead again, I won't mind if I don't even show up. What the heck is one anyway? No apparent relation to maidenhead, which was my first guess. Best I've been able to gather so far is that it's a fictional placename or a placename that's only known since being fictionalized or something. But even if it's a real placename, whatever does it mean??!??! Does Bluebeard have something to do with this grisly ghastly horrid horrid word/name/bit of nonsense?

Other than that, I enjoyed the solve. Especially liked the reference to Thor. I dig Thor. Not for the usual reasons though. Oh, Mjolnor is way cool and the way He sasses the Ice Giants and occasionally outfoxes Loki is great and all that. But the real reason I find Thor fascinating is because He ran around in a goat-drawn chariot. It's the goats. Just don't see it that much any more, goat-drawn chariots, even in Hollywood. Maybe when we're finally one big happy Green world again we'll all be falling over each other to pimp out our thunderous goat-drawn chariots. Shit'd be better'n Ben Hur!

Dirigonzo 8:49 PM  

Does no one remember why My LAI, Vietnam is a familiar name? Seems to me it's deserving of at least a passing comment here.

On a lighter note, my cat's name is THOR - if I can get some video of him in a goat-drawn chariot my fame and fortune are assured.

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