Tennis winner's declaration / MON 4-18-11 / Distance on Erie Canal in song / Conqueror of Valencia in 1094 / Theater backdrop / Rod-shaped bacteria

Monday, April 18, 2011

Constructor: James Tuttle

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: GAME SET MATCH (57A: Tennis winner's declaration)— theme answers begin with tennis scores: LOVE, FIFTEEN, THIRTY, FORTY, ending with GAME SET MATCH!

Word of the Day: SIVA (58D: One of the Hindu trinity) —

Shiva ([...] meaning "auspicious one" ) is a major Hindu deity, and the Destroyer or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. In the Shaiva tradition of Hinduism, Shiva is seen as the Supreme God. In the Smarta tradition, he is regarded as one of the five primary forms of God. Followers of Hinduism who focus their worship upon Shiva are called Shaivites or Shaivas (Sanskrit Śaiva). Shaivism, along with Vaiṣṇava traditions that focus on Vishnu and Śākta traditions that focus on the goddess Shakti, is one of the most influential denominations in Hinduism. (wikipedia)
• • •

Did this untimed on the couch during commercials while watching DVR'd Thursday sitcoms. Felt easier than usual, but with a handful of specialized answers and a couple odd theme answers to give it a tiny bit of bite. It's a cute little theme, though FIFTEEN MILES isn't great as a stand-alone answers. FIFTEEN MINUTES (unit of fame) or FIFTEEN PERCENT (common tip) would've been great, but those are both 14, and 14s are Hard to make work, especially in a five-theme-answer grid. Other answers seem fine, and FIFTEEN MILES is certainly gettable (if you know the old song), so no big loss. STELA (23A: Inscribed pillar), SIVA (58D: One of the Hindu trinity), and SCRIM (55D: Theater backdrop) are slightly advanced, as Monday fare goes, and THANE was clued in such a way (56D: Feudal baron) that I needed several crosses to see it (no "Macbeth" clue today). Think of Hasbro and Fisher-Price as TOY companies or TOY brands. Think of elves as TOY MAKERs (speaking of elves, Will Ferrell was in "Elf," and Will Ferrell was in the episode of "The Office" I was watching while solving this puzzle—top that for meaningless coincidences!).

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Tricky romantic relationship (LOVE TRIANGLE) — I think of a TRIANGLE as involving at least two relationships, plural.
  • 28A: Distance on the Erie Canal, in song (FIFTEEN MILES)
  • 38A: One approaching middle age (THIRTY-SOMETHING) — how in the World was this not clued as the '80s/'90s TV show???
  • 46A: "Arabian Nights" band (FORTY THIEVES) — clue makes it sound like we're looking for a musical group that had a hit with the song "Arabian Nights"

  • 9A: Karate schools (DOJOS) — Yes. Yes. Not TAI chi schools (21D: ___ chi (martial art)). Karate schools. Glad that's clear now.
  • 19A: English P.M. William and others (PITTS) — this seems a slightly advanced Monday clue as well. This one is Pitt the Younger.
  • 25D: Conqueror of Valencia in 1094 (EL CID) — had -LCI- and filled it in without looking. Risky? Not very.
  • 31D: Rod-shaped bacteria (E. COLI) — I did not know rodlikeness was its distinguishing characteristic.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


foodie 12:07 AM  

I thought it was grainier than usual for a Monday. I'm guessing more of a Medium.

THIRTY SOMETHING is approaching Middle Age! Man! That's quite an eye opener!

Off to bed!

aaron 12:15 AM  

I feel like ADVIL and ALEVE were rare or nonexistent in the NYT puzzle until recently, and now they're everywhere. Maybe it's my imagination.

chefwen 12:16 AM  

Super easy for me today. Don't know too much about tennis, husband and his buddy were number 1 doubles players back in high school so I guess I absorbed something.

Only two write-overs STELe before STELA and TOYbrand before TOY MAKER.

Thank God he got DOJOS right, I was worried for a while.

Matthew G. 12:33 AM  

Well above-average theme for a Monday. I love it when an early-week theme isn't immediately obvious from the first entry. After LOVE TRIANGLE I assumed we were going for shapes, so I cast my eyes over the remaining crosses looking for SQUARES and PENTAGONS. Was happy that it wasn't so simple.

Good show all around! Though I kind of hate this puzzle for 38A. I didn't need to read that after turning 35 last month!

operapianist 12:42 AM  

@Matthew G-- I hear ya man. Turned 35 back in Jan and was shocked to learn I'm apparently approaching middle age. Though the fact that I actually watched the TV show back in the day probably says as much.

Did this in a shade under 5 via computer, so this was a bit above-average difficulty on my end. Today the short words got me: TAM, LAN, MAE(MAC?), ELM, ENV. With crosses all became apparent, but I initially tried this puzzle doing only downs. Not such a nice Monday to try that way.

Erik 1:02 AM  

"Game, set, match. Point. Scott. Game over. End of game." -Michael Scott

Rube 1:12 AM  

This was a pleasant quickie. Like @Chefwen had a writeover at STELe/STELA, otherwise a smooth solve.

Thirty Something is so long ago that I can barely recall it. Never watched the TV show.

Knew of Shiva as "The Destroyer", but did not know of all the different ways to spell the name. Tx Rex.

Admired the two long downs each crossing three theme answers. Clever construction.

atari creak michaels 1:24 AM  

i think almost a perfect puzzle (for a Tuesday)!

Totally a Tuesday, no? But that's what I think every time I write one!
(eg PITTS/SSS, STELA, SCRIM, SIVA, THANE, THROE in the singular...that always throes me!)

May I make one tiny constructive criticism? Rework ROC/TOS/ECOLI
(altho E-O-I only gives you ECOLI/or EBOLI)

Thanks for pointing out the downs crossed three theme answers, lovely. (ECOLI does too)

And if THIRTYSOMETHING is approaching middle age, what the heck is fifty?????

retired_chemist 1:50 AM  

What Rex said.

Had PENNS @ 19A, and it cost me about 30 seconds finding the error. Had MÉNAGE À TROIS @ 20A. Maybe not Mondayish, but still....

DJG 2:06 AM  

Flew through it in typical Monday fashion, except for the V at the SIVA/AVON junction, where I was genuinely at a loss. Naticked on a Monday -- that's a rare occurance. Somehow SIVA and the clue for AVON (Stratford-upon-huh?) slipped through the cracks of my knowledge.

I know PITTS from the classic Simpsons softball episode where Barney and Wade Boggs get into a fight over who was England's better prime minister. One guy has Lord Palmerston and the other has Pitt The Elder -- hilarious.

Robin Over Thirty-Something 2:22 AM  

Okay, James Tuttle, teenager that you may be, let's get over this idea that "thirty-something" is appropriately clued as "approaching middle age." Maybe it's not your fault. Maybe Will is to blame here, but he's way over thirty-something himself, I believe.

Otherwise, a very clever and fun Monday puzzle, although I agree completely with ACME - it's really a Tuesday.

Also, you may not install any animal heads of any variety in MY den.

Greene 4:15 AM  

Just got back from a 4-day weekend in NYC so I'm behind on puzzling and commenting. Still only 3/4 through Saturday and haven't even looked at Sunday yet, but I'll catch up eventually. Was in the city to watch my daughter's college a capella group compete at the ICCA finals at Lincoln Center. They didn't win, but it was certainly thrilling to listen to all these gifted young people sing. I was floored.

Okay, the puzzle: very much enjoyed it. Mostly Monday easy, but with a little bit of grit. I liked how CREAK and GONER add to the sense of middle age angst brought on by the THIRTY SOMETHING clue.

LOVE TRIANGLE reminds me that I took in a new musical at Lincoln Center yesterday called A Minister's Wife. It is a beautiful reimagining of George Bernard Shaw's classic triangle comedy Candida concerning an energetic, admired Socialist clergyman, Reverend James Morell, his strong-willed and beautiful wife, Candida, and an idealistic young poet, Eugene Marchbanks, who, infatuated with Candida, aims to win her love. It is impeccably cast and sung with a score I can only describe as stunning. Theatre music is rarely this gorgeous. If in NYC, just go.

foodie 7:50 AM  

@Greene, thanks for the review! There's no critic I'd trust more than you! Now I really want to go see that show!

@RC, I once knew a menage a trois-- literally one guy, a wife and a girlfriend living together. Even in LA in the 70's it was metastable...

joho 8:08 AM  

Well, it's bad enough to learn that THIRTYSOMETHING is approaching middle age but it's downright scary when I see STAB JO in the top line and GONER at the bottom!

Other than that I enjoyed the theme. Although IHOPE this puzzle isn't ASIGN for me!

mmorgan 8:34 AM  

I'm not a tennis fan, but this is my idea of a yummy monday!

Hand up for thinking that if THIRTYSOMETHING is approaching middle age then I'm screwed.

Pick The Nit 8:53 AM  

If you accent the *approaching* part of THIRTYSOMETHING, middle age becomes further off.

That way, *forty something* can be *nearing* middle age, and *fifty something* middle aged.

Wish middle age was more then a distant memory from here, but my way puts it a bit closer.


dk 9:16 AM  

I read something lately that 60 is the new THIRTYSOMETHING.

Full disclosure I just wrote that note to myself.

This puzzle was NICE in that date with your mother's friends daughter who they know is perfect for you way.

Or, in they way the deer feels hanging out in your DEN.

I did the puzzle in average time for a Monday and actually liked the FIFTEENMILES fill. Thumbs up for Sal (the mule).

** (2 Stars) Go Bean Town Marathoners.

Lindsay 9:22 AM  

Whoa. Tennis. No idea. Sitting here scratching my head thinking gotta be a theme gotta be a theme, it's Monday for crying out loud.

And I'm conversant with sports .... just not this one, I guess.

OldCarFudd 9:27 AM  

I thought this was a tough Monday. Toy store before toy maker. Never heard of scrim.

At 74, I'm approaching middle age.

quilter1 9:29 AM  

Easy Monday.
Atari creak Michaels: when I turned 50 I knew women in my family live a long time so I thought of it as the first year of the second half of my life. It has served me well.

I also know the daughter of a menage a trois. Her dad also selected her first husband for her at 16. Yeah, she was messed up.

mendu: menudo without the tripe.

GenJoneser 9:29 AM  

What is our fascination with age and categorizing our ages? Must every news story (or almost any story real or fiction) classify the characters by age? Does it really matter that, "the robber, aged 35, took three hostages at the bank ranging in age from 25 - 50?" Perhaps in an obituary we would like to know how old the person was, but come on. Age is relative. It's what we do with our time here that matters not some arbitrary number. My rant for the day...easy puzzle.

GenJoneser 9:30 AM  

BTW, @Rex nice music selection today. Made my bad mood lighten...Thanks.

Emily D. 9:36 AM  

Was anyone else taken aback by 49 down?

Elm trees do not produce helicopter seeds, I'm surprised that got through -- maple trees do.. and some other species. Elm seeds are "flutterer-spinners" but they don't "whirl like helicopter blades" .. close but no. Their seed is in the middle of the "wing" so the action is different. Maybe there are elm species I don't know about that technically produce helicopter seeds but I don't see that, and something tells me this person assumed one tree's seeds to be another's.

quilter1 9:40 AM  

Speaking of meaningless coincidences, the LAT puzzle has a number of answers in common with NYT today.

Kurt 9:53 AM  

Instead of "One approaching middle age", how about "One barely out of diapers"? Works for me.

David L 9:58 AM  

@Emily D: I thought the same thing. For me the classic helicopter seeds are those of the (English) sycamore.

Well, this is the NY Times. Shortz probably hasn't seen a tree in decades.

Also, the concluding tennis phrase is normally GAME, SET, AND MATCH.

Arundel 10:10 AM  

Thank you, @Emily D. Being woefully ignorant about trees while owning a lot of oaks and pines, I was really wondering about 49d. In a post-Dutch Elm disease New England, I couldn't believe that could be where the helicopter seeds come from!

Mondays are frequently letdowns, but this was a good Monday with a bit of crunch. El Cid, ASCII, and appropriately clued dojos. Not bad at all!

jackj 10:13 AM  

No pesky serves; none of those irksome volleys; no points to opponent so, no deuce, no ad in, no ad out; not a lob or a smash in sight; no lets; in fact, no returns by player X at all; no rackets; no ball; no net; no court; oops, no player X; just LOVE, FIFTEEN, THIRTY, FORTY, GAMESETMATCH.

Sounds like Bobby Riggs is playing, not Roger Federer.

santafefran 10:14 AM  

Yes for G,S, AND M.
GAME,SET, AND MATCH--also the title of a 1988 TV series based on the spy trilogy by Len Deighton: Berlin GAME, Mexico SET, London MATCH

Nifty little puzzle I zipped through in a flash. STELE to STELA, STAGE for SCRIM, GAWK for GAPE, all easily corrected with crosses.

In the meaningless coincidences category: we went to see the traveling production of Fiddler on the Roof Saturday and when we turned on the TV last night it was playing FOTR on the station that came on.

@dk--I like that 60 is the new 30!

@chefbea hasn't commented today or yesterday. Hope she was not a target of the deadly tornadoes sweeping her corner of the world.

Sam 10:16 AM  

I'm not 100% sure, but I would be hesitant to call a Tai Chi school a dojo, as the art is Chinese and the term is Japanese. Hope that clears up your objection to the 9A clue.

chefbea 10:28 AM  

@santafefran I'm alive and well. No tornadoes in Wilmington, just a lot of very gusty wind.Went to an air show yesterday which was unbelievable. Loved it. was gone all day that's why I didn't comment here.

Oh the puzzle - very easy and of course I saw a lot of jets yesterday.
Good old St.L again and lots of food related words

What is ascii??? never heard of it

GLR 10:29 AM  

Didn't see the theme until the grid was complete - and then it still took a while for me to see it. Not much trouble completing, regardless. After I saw the theme, I did appreciate the fact that the scores appeared in the proper order.

To all of the thirty-somethings who are surprised (or dismayed) to be approaching middle age, just wait until you turn 49 and the annual membership invitations from AARP start showing up in the mail!

JC66 10:34 AM  


I'm 71 and right with you.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:52 AM  

I took as Proof Positive of my Non-Sports Credentials the fact that my one write-over was GAME AND MATCH before GAMESETMATCH.

I thought @Greene might have objected to 55D, SCRIM, as Theater backdrop, since the defining property of scrim is that it hangs both in front of and behind performing spaces, but if it's OK with him, OK with me.

Agree re: 49 D. Before seeing how many letters, I thought "Maple."

To play a bit on the format of yesterday's puzz, re: THIRTYSOMETHING: I'm not looking forward to turning 65; I'm looking back at it!

quilter1 11:09 AM  

@ChefBea: ascii is a computer language. When we first began to send documents via e-mail and I was writing for a magazine my editor would *ask* me if I sent it in ascii. My response, HUH? But it all worked out.

santafefran 11:10 AM  

@chefbea--glad you are alive and well!

exacciza--a new exercise fad requiring very accurate movements

Anoa Bob 11:13 AM  

Intelligent, nicely clued Monday puzzle methinks, even with the inevitable three-letter clunkers you get with a 40 black square grid.

Detected a mini theme of sorts at 5A STAB "Attack with a knife" and 22A GUN "Item in a holster". But I guess those come in handy if you're going to decapitate an animal and hang its head in your DEN (45A).

Sparky 11:14 AM  

Sped through. Didn't see tennis theme. Thought, oh, numbers. STELe for STELA. @EmilyD: had same thought re elm seeds. @David L: Plenty of trees in NYC; c'mon down. The magnolias are out right now.

At 33, in hmmm, I was the oldest teeny bopper living in The Village. Oh, those bell bottoms and love beads.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

Sorry to be a downer, but I always thought that one's thirties were part of middle age. Certainly 35 and up.

Emily D. 11:18 AM  

Ok glad it wasn't just me re: 49d. @David L. I love sycamores but only know the American Sycamore. The English sounds lovely. Perhaps I should seek a tree blog.

retired_chemist 11:21 AM  

@ chefbea - ASCII is a scheme for encoding characters for digital devices.

Two Ponies 11:25 AM  

Very enjoyable puzzle.
Nicely done.
Maybe @treedweller will stop by and set things straight about the elm seeds. I remember them as almost circular with the seed in the middle.
I loved seeing stela in the grid.
I'm listening to an Egyptian history course and stela is mentioned frequently.

archaeoprof 11:58 AM  

Tried tennis once. Ball wouldn't hold still long enough for me to hit it.

STELe got me, too. Wrote it, moved on, and never looked at the cross.

And I'm currently taking a karate class...

syndy 12:04 PM  

Not exactly a Ladymondegreen but I thought it was THIRTEEN MILES with my mule sal!Oh well.Also thought that all bacteria were rod shaped,no?And @SAM;sweetie read REX's remark again.

mac 12:25 PM  

Hah! I guess Will Shortz knows dead trees only! Sadly, with so many elms gone, I don't even know what their seed pod looks like.

Good, crunchy Monday puzzle with only the stela/stele write-over. I also started looking for squares, circles, etc.

How can 30-something be middle-aged now, when people tend to produce off-spring in that time of their life? Of course you can turn that question around and upside-down.

My problem was with the clue to 57
A: no tennis winner would say anything like that answer. The umpire does.

acme 12:55 PM  

Not to encourage stalkers, but Will Shortz lives in a very beautiful leafy area outside the city and his street name even has the word "Oak" in it!
I realized I offered mild constructive criticism without stating an example...Instead of ROC/TOS/ECOLI (ie semi- obscure crosswordese/awkward/unpleasant) I'd have tried RIB/TIS/EBOLI. EBOLI is hardish, but Christ stopped there!

retired_chemist 1:10 PM  

@ fellow geezers - I like to think of myself as 46 (hex).

imsdave 1:53 PM  

@chefbea, retired_chemist covered your question, but if you ever need to know about EBCDIC (for other digital devices), I'm your guy.

Very nice Monday here. Close to 4 Amy stars.

Gil.I.Pollas 2:10 PM  

Hand up for a big huh on THIRTY SOMETHING approaching middle age.
The 30's for me were the time of my life. I had our daughter at 40 and spent my 50th birthday partying all night in Cabo. I haven't a clue what the "new" middle age might be.
I gauge the Monday puzzles by newbie daughter's rating. She found this difficult. Words like STELE, ASCII, PITTS were ungetable for her. Still she plugs away at the NYT and we always have something to talk about.

CoffeeLvr 2:15 PM  

Nice to be starting the cycle of another week of puzzling and reading the blog.

I actually looked for the theme after the solve, and thought hmm, something with numbers? Don't care for tennis as a participant or spectator.

A little surprised to see MAY and MAE both in the grid.

Stan 2:33 PM  

The quirky scoring system in tennis makes just enough theme for a Monday.

When Al Gore turned 59 he said to a reporter "It's the new 58."

Sfingi 2:36 PM  

Here in Upstate NY, we always sing Fifteen years, not MILES, on the Erie Canal. I actually have never heard MILES. So, I looked it up, and it was originally years in 1905, then changed to miles by such as Pete Seeger. Since I started with years, I had the UN worker as emPLOyee, not DIPLOMAT, but this sounded lame, and I finally figured it out. For Hubster, a mule named Sal would be Salvatore. Go figure.

Didn't know PITTS. No comment on Brits. Except LITRE.

In NYS prisons and in The City, singleton cigarettes are sold as "loosies"

@Foodie - 30 is the new 20. 90 is the new 80, and everything in between.

@Acme - Some have noted that we name streets after the trees we knocked down to build them. Also, "Christ stopped at Eboli (Cristo si e fermato a Eboli)" suggested that he didn't quite make it to Eboli where the inhabitants are backward, tribal and pre-Christian.

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Exchange)is pretty old. We used it in the '60s. It allows for alpha, numerica, and symbols in 8 bits.

Is this the Tuttle of comment fame? Nice puzzle!

ksquare 2:43 PM  

As the current life expectancy is somewhere in the seventies, middle age must be somewhere in the thirties. It's way too late for me to be approaching it.

miriam b 3:12 PM  

Can't we stop fretting and just approach middle age asymptotically (too late for me to do that)?

Greene 3:21 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle:

I have no problem with the clue for SCRIM. I see them used as backdrops and show curtains with almost equal frequency.

For those who don't know about the theatrical use of scrims, they are a gauzy type material which can be either diaphanous or opaque depending on the ambient lighting. When lit from the front a SCRIM is opaque and provides an excellent surface for projections or painted images. When lit from behind one can see through a SCRIM and it lends a hazy quality to the stage image. They are ideal for "reveals" because in a split second an object, actor, or entire scene can appear on a stage with just a change of light.

One of the most memorable uses of a SCRIM I can remember was in the finale of the musical 1776 which dealt with the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In the final scene, as the liberty bell tolled, each member of Congress had his name called and stepped forward to sign the historic document. While this happened, a scrim came down from the flies (almost unnoticed) in front of the actors, which lent an ethereal effect to the entire scene. Then as each character stepped away from the signing table, a somewhat familiar tableau began to form. As the music swelled and the bell incessantly tolled, the audience suddenly realized the emerging stage picture was that of the famous John Trumbull painting. At that very instant of recognition the actors were plunged into darkness, the tableau vanished, and the audience was left gazing at a huge image of the signed Declaration of Independence (spanning the entire stage opening) which had appeared, as if by magic, on that very same SCRIM. It was breathtaking, highly dramatic, and gave a sense of history to the events of the evening previously enacted.

sanfranman59 4:23 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:13, 6:53, 0.90, 17%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:23, 3:40, 0.92, 19%, Easy

This felt Easy to me and I had one of my better Monday solve times, but I can accept the argument that some of the content is more Tuesday-ish. The online solve times will probably remain at the high end of the Easy range. Although life-expectancy is creeping higher, it's currently at about 76 for men and 81 for women in the US. So this 50-something must reluctantly agree that a 30-something is indeed approaching middle age.

retired_chemist 4:33 PM  

@ Greene - I was thinking there might be a relationship between SCRIM (as used in this puzzle) and scrimshaw. I can't find one. Do you know whether the etymologies are related?

andrea stelllllllllllllla michaels 4:44 PM  

I can attest it was Easy for San FranMan59!
I was walking out of a Starbucks today (in search of an SF Examiner bec I think I'm in the syndicated version today, but with all the cutbacks, you can't even find them in streetboxes any more :( even tho they are a free paper!)
and thru the window I noticed a man on a fancy laptop
speedsolving the NY Times.

I stood outside staring over his shoulder watching how it was done...didn't want to interrupt, waited till he was finished, and sure enough it was @SanFranMan59!!!

I went back in, we laughed and chatted; I convinced him as to why I thought it was Tuesday-esque, and then had to run off to therapy...
Meanwhile, (way-no-longer-approaching-middle-aged) woman next to him reported to him that I had been outside watching him, which she found highly suspicious and felt a need to alert him!

JenCT 5:26 PM  

Only holdup for me was the SIVA/AVON cross - no idea. Otherwise, would've had one of my best Monday times.

@Emily D: I'm with you regarding the ELM seeds - technically, elms, maples, and sycamores all have seeds known as samaras, or winged seeds, but I've only seen maples fall in a spinning-helicopter-blade kind of way.

Shamik 5:50 PM  

How cool is it that ACME ran into SanFranMan! That is so fun!

Meh. Easy. 3:19. Enough has been said about the middle-age question. It's simply not chronological anymore. It's more about mental outlook and and physical condition. Ok, I guess enough hadn't been said...thus, my two cents.

chefbea 5:54 PM  

@andrea stellllla - yes your puzzle was the syndicated one today. I did it again!!

thanks everyone for the explanations of ascii

Kendall 6:09 PM  

@Andrea Stellllllllllla Michaels, thanks for the good laugh on the name!

THIRTY SOMETHING middle aged? I still have nearly a decade.

@chefbea, you're question about ASCII was mostly answered, but if you'd like a little specifics it's basically a scheme to encode computer language (0s and 1s) into human readable language (or vice versa). Fun computer fact of the day: ASCII is not used anymore and is actually part of Unicode (in fact it is the first half) as it proved too small to include characters from other languages. Maybe I'll include that in a crossword I create.

@retired_chemist - Managé A Trois in a NYT puzzle? That would make for an interesting theme.

As per the puzzle itself, loved it! Thought this was especially well done for a Monday. Got a little tripped up in the middle but all else went well.

jberg 6:11 PM  

I never saw the theme until I came here, but it was easy anyway. I did have STELE at first - they mean the same thing, don't they? But everything else was smooth.

Isn't middle age the age when you are no longer a callow youth? It was so long ago that I can't remember too well, but when I was young it meant the age of my parents -- originally in their thirties, but continually receding over time (like my hair).

quilter1 6:18 PM  

@sfingi: I learned it as fifteen years on the Erie Canal, too.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:25 PM  

@retired_chemist - Since my Merriam Webster's says of both Scrim and Scrimshaw "[origin unknown]", I'd say you are welcome to make up your own etymology!

Greene 6:37 PM  

@retired_chemist and @Bob Kerfuffle:

I always thought SCRIM had a Scottish origin, but I can find nothing to validate this online. No idea about the origin of scrimshaw or even if the two words have some kind of common origin. Interesting to think about though.

@Jberg: Your remark about callow youth now has me humming "Try To Remember" which is, I suppose, the national anthem of middle age.

Stan 6:57 PM  

I like this blog as a place to IDLY TELL IDEAS.

andrea: Great story!

CoffeeLvr 7:50 PM  

@Greene, I am still laughing about "Try to Remember." Love the song, was in a summer stock Fantasticks as a teen, then saw it in NYC the next summer. Now I will have an ear worm all night, but a good one.

@Stan, IDLY TELL IDEAS indeed.

MGTopAgent 9:38 PM  

For your non-science types - there are two shapes for bacteria - rods and cocci (round) - that along with whether or not they are gram postive or negative are the broad basis for identifying bacteria in the lab, such as when you get a throat culture.

sanfranman59 10:23 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

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:21, 3:40, 0.91, 16%, Easy

SFPD APB ... Dateline April 18, 2011 ... All units be on the lookout for a beyond middle-age woman stalking crossword solvers at Starbucks. The perp may claim to simply be confirming the singular form of the noun THROE. Approach with caution. Although she may try to convince you that she only solves puzzles in ink, the suspect may be armed with sharpened pencils and an unabridged thesaurus.

retired_chemist 10:27 PM  

@ SFMan59 - LOL!

Waxy in Montreal 11:59 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Waxy in Montreal 12:00 PM  

From syndicationland - must be approaching middle age from the reverse side since I vividly recall the ASCII-EBCDIC format battles of the mid-60s. EBCDIC was created independently by IBM and introduced (along with the term "byte") with their hugely successful IBM System/360 line of mainframes, blindsiding the rest of the mainframe makers (UNIVAC, NCR, Honeywell, Burroughs, etc.) who were firmly in the incompatible ASCII camp. As with all wars, peace eventually broke out once the combatants were exhausted.

Lurking, Just Behind You 4:24 PM  

@ ACME & SanFranMan

I have never seen a day in which my screen name is more appropriate.

As a secondary note, I would LOVE it if you would lurk behind me....I would consider it an honor...and I don't live far from you either (in the Presidio)

micat - I still miss him so.

Dirigonzo 4:25 PM  

A very nice Monday puzzle made even better by @Rex posting an Adele video to enjoy - she was introduced to me on this blog and now I am hooked.

How do I get @acme to stock me?

My wrong answer that should have been right was at 4d, "I'll do it Manana"! Needed all the crosses for SCRIM.

NotalwaysrightBill 9:46 PM  


IDEAS aren't necessarily "creative." Favorite oxymoron: "popular imagination."

The Erie Canal runs 363 miles. The original lyrics to the song about Sal talks about "FIFTEEN miles . . . " because (from WIKI) "The popular song "Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal" was written in 1905 by Thomas S. Allen after Erie Canal barge traffic was converted from mule power to engine power, raising the speed of traffic above fifteen miles per day." Gives me to think that "FIFTEEN miles" was the traditional distance covered daily by mule driving. Maybe that was just going uphill (toward the Great Lakes), though, since the first full-length trip was made in ten days, going the other way.

Heard today that New York City is banning smoking at all public parks, sidewalks and beaches. Guess the NYT xword is the only place where a CIG is still allowed.

Wonder if the person on a set who works with a SCRIM is called a scrimshander?

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

Where is "Duece" in the tennis scoring puzzle

Dirigonzo 4:22 PM  

@anony 3:39PM - Your question was answered before you asked it, by @jackj (10:13AM in prime-time). One of the (dis)-advantages of commenting from syndication-land is that most of the questions have already been addressed.

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