Boon's Animal House buddy / WED 7-27-11 / Indiana Jones accouterment / Visigoth king who sacked Rome / Eerie 1976 movie / City at confluence Ouse Foss

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Constructor: Bill Thompson

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: NOELS (37A: Seasonal songs ... or a hint to 17-, 25-, 46- and 59-Across) — theme answers are familiar phrases where -EL has been removed from end of word in the phrase, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: ALARIC (62A: Visigoth king who sacked Rome) —

Alaric I (Alareiks in the original Gothic) was likely born about 370 on an island named Peuce (the Fir) at the mouth of the Danube in present day Romania. King of the Visigoths from 395–410, Alaric was the first Germanic leader to take the city of Rome. Having originally desired to settle his people in the Roman Empire, he finally sacked the city, marking the decline of imperial power in the west. (wikipedia)
• • •

After I got the first theme answer, my thought was "Ugh, NOEL, not this theme again." But when I was done, I looked NOEL up on, and couldn't find a single puzzle that had used NOEL as a theme answer. This seems impossible. Why do I feel like I've done some version of this puzzle not just once, but many times? Weird. Anyway, not much to say about this except the theme feels pretty tired. Half the theme answers are cute (bottom half), the others, not. With so many -EL words out there that are also words (or names) without the -EL (e.g. BARREL, LAPEL, LABEL, CAMEL, etc.), not sure why those first two theme answers aren't better—or why this wasn't a Sunday-sized theme. Fill on this one is interesting in parts—NEAR THE TOP (27D: In second place, say) and RATIONS OUT (11D: Distributes stingily) are interesting phrases—but there really is far too much dreck. ALARIC over RESEEK (!!?) crossing OLE OLE and multiple WANDAS (48D: Stand-up comic Sykes and others) is super-ugly, as is the multiple OCHERS and REALES (9D: Old Spanish silver coins) crossing the never-lovely EDUCES. But, on the plus side, it's a great puzzle if you're a fan of the word "THE" — three appearances!

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Groom? (WEDDING CHAP)
  • 25A: Verbal exchange about a harsh review? (PAN DISCUSSION)
  • 46A: Demand during a roadside negotiation? (THROW IN THE TOW)
  • 59A: Stylish Lionel? (MOD TRAIN SET) — "LIONEL" = yet another word that could've been de-EL'd
Strangely, the toughest clue for me was 1D: Things to draw (BOWS). Got it all from crosses and still had no idea how the clue fit the answer. It was only as I was about to google [bow draw] that I realized, "Ohhhhh. *That* kind of bow" (i.e. the kind that shoots arrows). Also had a lot of trouble with BOWS's symmetrical counterpart, MTNS (57D: The Dolomites, e.g.). I know Dolomite as a blaxploitation hero. I couldn't tell you what continent they're on, let alone what country they're in. I'm gonna say eastern Europe / western Asia. . . aha, northeastern Italy. Well, that's eastern Europe-adjacent, at any rate. KAHLO is a kool name for krosswords (36D: Mexican artist Frida). SCRAG looks cool, but it's a word I've never seen anywhere *but* crosswords (41A: Skinny sort). Cheri UTERI would be a great theme answer, though I'm not sure for what theme (29D: Gestation locations). I think of moonshine or hooch when I think of the bottle marked "XXX"; I do not think of ALE (30A: Bottle marked "XXX" in the comics). Everyone knows SOOEY is used for calling piggies; less well known is the fact that UIE is used for calling ELANDS (49D: Safari antelopes).

  • 1A: Univ. with the cheer "Roll Tide!" ('BAMA) — obvious even without the long-running ESPN College Gameday ad built around this "cheer."
  • 40A: City at the confluence of the Ouse and Foss (YORK) — "Ouse" looks distinctly French, and Foss I've never heard of, so this took some work.
  • 50D: Boon's "Animal House" buddy (OTTER) — completely forgot this. Luckily, I got it all from crosses and never even saw the clue.
  • 10D: Trademark forfeited by Bayer under the Treaty of Versailles (ASPIRIN) — Bayer = German company.
  • 61A: Leandro's love, in a Handel cantata (ERO) — Like HERO but with an ELISION (21A: Will-o'-the-wisp feature)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Many bad choices 12:17 AM  

My Mama: You're doing your PhD in the history of the Ostrogoths? Are you serious? What job do you think you'll get with that?

25 years, later, Mama was right. If I'd focused on the Visgoths, I'd still be an unemplowed guy, but at least I could have finished this puzzle.

retired_chemist 12:18 AM  

Crunchier that most Wednesdays IMO. Enjoyable solve. Easy-medium.

Liked FEDORA, ALARIC, the French lesson, and the theme answers inter alii. RESEEK and REROOFS, not so much.

Thank you, Mr. Thompson.

lit.doc 12:44 AM  

Slower-than-usual Wednesday for me. Mostly CFS syndrome this time, though.

Had RIIS and LIN cold, finally, but still hung up on the KA?LO problem. "Which var. of UEY or whatever is it tonight?" also slowed me down. And Rachael RAE didn't help.

Also had REALITY = "perception" before SCIENCE. Geez, I hate philosophical idealism.

@Rex, your emendation of the clue for 29D was hysteral. And thanks for the hint re UIE--my beloved eland had been missing for days.

lit.doc 12:56 AM  

Uhhh...make that "hysterical", not "hysteral" (don't ask), or even the regrettably etymologically related "hysterectomy".

Tobias Duncan 1:22 AM  

I have a heart full of hate for any puzzle that starts with BAMA.

chefwen 2:06 AM  

Rex, why is the finished grid half blue and half black, or are my eyes going all wonky?

Got off to a slow start but quickly gained speed after getting NOELS early on. Had umbERS at 8D and Apart at 12D which did not help at all in the NE. Had a few things marked off to Google, if necessary, but ended up not having to move my arse off the couch. Hate to Google, especially this early in the week, so that felt good. ALARIC and KAHLO were obtained only from crosses. Loved, loved, loved Lamb Chops when I was a child so SHARI Lewis is never a problem for me.

Sure hope Run Around Sue will not be an ear worm for me tomorrow.

syndy 2:20 AM  

I had REIS/LEN and only fixed it when Puzzle pencil did not go happy! sigh,but I've never heard of either of them! The puzzle lacked elegance-and no pangram to blame it on-all I can say is Fooey!

andrea oohlala michaels 2:21 AM  

Yeah, I feel ya. My Rachel RAe led to eddas going down (Thinking weirdly that maybe bec Paul Bunyan is from Minnesota that he descended from Scandinavian myth...long way around to make my mistaken E work.)

THROWINTHETOW is very nice and WEDDINGCHAP is very non-tortured and not even wacky, which, in my book, is a good thing.
And MODTRAINSET reminds me of my good pal/sometime-collaborator/current boss of sorts
(I'm temping at his firm) Michael Blake...whose office is adorned with non-mod train set.

Some possible crazy spellings for those first braving mid-week: RIIS, HSIA, UIE, SOOEY.

I think ALARIC had killed OSRIC and all would be well with the world.

Just a mere JQXZ short of a perfect pangram, led me to guess MaxI :)

SCRAG new to me, seems rude. Like a conflation of a skinny skanky dorag.

21A ELISION could count as a theme hint. (Sounds like an operation to remove an EL)

Will's idea of Christmas in July continues. Cool!

CoffeeLvr 3:04 AM  

Pretty enjoyable puzzle for me, odd since the add or drop one or more letter genre is not my favorite, not by a long shot. Really liked the ASPIRIN trivia.

Slowed down by some typos, strictly finger goofs, not mental.

SCRAG is completely new to me, sounds like a description of a Meth addict. I have seen ALARIC, but can't claim to know him; relied on crosses. He is a much more interesting WOD, thanks, Rex. I know Frida K, but needed crosses for the exact spelling.

Sort of a mini theme going on: FENCES IN, RATIONS OUT, SITS BACK.

SCIENCE has come a long way since Plato.

NittyGriddy 3:05 AM  

What Rex said, in spades. God, what a lot of dreck in this one! I mean, with just four normal-length theme answers this is a pretty motley list - educes, tor, nae, reroofs, scrag, Riis, Uie (at least the other spelling, Uey, looks like a word), ero, Alaric, reseek, avec, midi, duc, ochers, reales, uteri, Lin, ole ole, Arie, Hsia, aeon, tre, etc. And the one theme answer I like, THROW IN THE TOW, is not like the other three: Its EL-dropping word changes pronunciation. With so many -EL possibilities like CHAP (chapel), PAN (panel), and MOD (model), a fourth one couldn't be found? Also don't see why this puzzle is running in July instead of December.

Again, what Rex said and then some. (Feeling crabbier than usual.)

88CalBear 4:22 AM  

Not a big fan of this puzzle. The good news and bad news is that I finally figured it out without a clue about the theme.

Am I the only one longing for a Roll Tide/Mike Price clue and answer? That would throw most non-sports fans for a loop, though that story made some tabloids.

How soon until a Former CNN host/Morgan clue/answer?

SethG 5:37 AM  

I didn't know SOOEY is used for calling piggies.

Rex, maybe we were both think of this, and I know I've done at least one other.

shrub5 6:56 AM  

I had trouble with 1D, too. With BO_S, I ran the alphabet and settled on BOOS. Also didn't know how to spell SOOEY (sooie, sooee?) Went down the wrong path on the will-o'-the-wisp feature trying to find some characteristic like emission (didn't fit) - resulted in a forehead slap when I realized it was about the word not the phenomenon.

I wanted to put NESTS for gestation locations but I had already used it at 32A homes for some colonies! Thought of poison first for the bottle with XXX; my cartoon days are too long ago.

Yeah, ____ Peppermint Pattie would have been a more Wednesdayish clue than a city on those two rivers.

I liked the puzzle with its twists and (UIE) turns.

efrex 8:05 AM  

I suppose that everyone has his or her "grr" fill. For me, it's UIE (or UEY). If that word is in the puzzle, the theme better be over-the-moon great. Not really the case here, although WEDDINGCHAP and THROWINTHETOW are cute enough. EDUCES crossing DUC is pretty ugly, though, as is much of the previously-critiqued fill. This Original Series Trekker (there is only one Enterprise, and Kirk is her captain) loved the clue for NAE, though.

Overall, a slightly harder-than-usual Wednesday, but finished in one sitting, so I can't complain too much.

evil doug 8:13 AM  

If I can solve a puzzle in my head as I freeload the Times at Starbucks, I won't buy the paper. If I struggle, I put down my two bucks, pull out the pen and get to work. Both Tuesday and now Wednesday the puzzles have cost me, and may the trend continue.

Appreciate a puzzle with Otter and Runaround Sue references:

Otter: "Flounder, you can't spend your whole life worrying about your mistakes! You f***ed up... you trusted us!"

And you can't beat lyrics like this street-corner harmony:
"Hayp hayp
(Whoah ooh)
Bum da hady hady
Hayp hayp
Bum da hady hady
Hayp hayp
Bum da hady hady hayp"

Still wrestling with your 42D "grammar" comments the other day, Michael. If we don't correct our kids at home, who does? Well, the teachers. And I can tell you my 8th-grade English teacher wife could use a little better family preparation in the kids she's trying to educate. Even the (mostly) freshmen I was teaching at NKU needed a lot of work in basic English. Do you correct your students? Then why not your daughter?

Our teachers are already loaded up with new pressures associated with the residue of NCLB, the confrontational Michelle Rhee approach, over-emphasis on test scores and questionable teacher ratings; if we parents don't provide them better raw material to work with, it's going to get uglier.


jackj 8:32 AM  

I enjoyed the theme but the fill had me thinking Santa left only coal in my stocking. (See @NittyGriddy).

You say UIE, he says UEY, I say banish it to the Hall of Shame.

Not all is lost; any puzzle which remembers Frida KAHLO gets a fond nod from me.

Brian 8:59 AM  

I found the theme elusive for a good while but it finally hit me after THROWINTHETOW and I did a "doh!"

There is some unfortunate fill as has been pointed out (the worst possibly being RESEEK followed closely by REROOFS) but I'm going to highlight Mr. Thompson's cluing, which I found refreshing.

A quote from Scotty? Way cool.

"Fa-a-ancy!" is fu-u-un.

"The problem with these clue?" produced a chuckle.

"I tawt I taw a putt —" Ha!

And the clue for ASPIRIN.

The grid had some disappointments, for sure, but the clues were bright point, I thought.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

Agreed with 88calbear, this one had way too much cruddy fill. The south in particular (what Rex said), two terrible RE- "words", bad plurals... even the long phrases are relatively uninteresting plurals (FENCES IN, RATIONS OUT). Theme is completely standard and the resulting phrases not that exciting. This one didn't do it for me.

Lindsay 9:21 AM  

The Boston Globe ran a NOEL puzzle the Sunday before last Christmas. The theme was in the form of a quip along the lines of "This crossword is a pangram except for Noel."

Still that was enough to give today's offering a retready feeling for me. 37A was my first answer in.

John V 9:22 AM  

Highlight of this puzzle was fixing SCRAG, which I had as SCRUB while standing on the number 4, waiting to pull out of 14th Street. Managed to not stab myself or anyone else with my own Mr. Kinda-Happy Pencil. So, this was a two train puzzle, New Haven and the Lex.

India Arie? Huh? Alaric? Huh?
Frida Kahlo? Huh? Thank God/Will for crosses, is what I'm saying. My WOTD: EDUCES=crappy on-line poker hand.

Played med-ish b/c of scragg.

joho 9:24 AM  

I just saw Will Shortz in a great piece on the "Today Show." He did a fantastic job and it absolutely made my morning to see crosswords represented so beautifully. One thing he said really struck me was that people who attend their first crossword tournament feel like they've found a "lost tribe." That's how I felt when I found this blog of fellow crossword puzzlers. Which prompts me to say, thank you, Rex, for creating this community.

I enjoyed this puzzle and thought the theme answers were fun.

dk 9:27 AM  

I am with you @evil doug. If my mom had taught me how to spell I would have known GRAMMAR ends in AR not er.

Wish David Lindley's El Rayo X was in the grid. It would have got Acme closer to her pan thing.

What a morning! First I get the WSJ instead of the NYT. Here in Western WI it is a one hour drive to the nearest NYT. Then my x-word iPad app crapped out, and as I have installed Lion no across lite. Woe is me.

Then after all of the getting started issues the puzzle barely clears my Wednesday bar. I liked 50% of the theme fill (25a and 46a), the fives (a&d) and ALARIC for my daily dose of new stuff. The rest of the grid seemed oddly forced.

I was very happy to fill in AEON as one of the posters schooled me last week that AEON was as good as an eon.

** (2 Stars) Keep away from runaround Sue.

Bleed over from my yester-ramblings SCRAG was a name used to taunt sisters back in the day. The source may have been a Sargent Rock comic or some similar paragon of literature.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

I still want to put rum in a bottle marked XXX

hazel 10:00 AM  

too many names, characters, song people to make this very enjoyable. much of it seemed like an exercise in crosstrivia, which is just not for me.

@litdoc - me too on reality
@jackj - me too on Frida KAHLO.

Frida K features prominently in a recent novel by Barbara Kingsolver (The Lacuna), which I wish had been better. The parts on Frida K, Diego Rivera, and Trotsky were at least interesting.

JaxInL.A. 10:18 AM  

@Andrea Oohlala, I had an equally tortured trip in the NE corner. Doing downs first, I drew LOTS, and my skirt was a MIdI, which gave me a tEnDING CHAP which I saw as a sort of groom.  

Only when all was done did I realize that a lAMA will never make up a rolling tide. 

@EvilDoug, The setting, the tone and the underlying relationship can mean the difference between viewing a correction as humiliating chastisement or as something to prevent embarrassment. My 13-year-old daughter has a huge vocabulary and she uses it pretty fearlessly at home, partly because she knows we will (in private) correct her when she goes astray so that her public usage is accurate. I doubt, though, that kids with poor grammar have parents who know but don't bother to guide their use of language. Many different ingredients go to make up the raw material that parents send to school for your wife and other teachers to work with. I agree with your comments about NCLB.

Matthew G. 10:18 AM  

Didn't like this at all, and expected Rex to be even more critical than he was. I liked only one of the theme answers: MOD TRAIN SET. The rest were either dull or serious reaches. I'm not sure what qualifies RATIONS OUT or NEAR THE TOP as interesting fill, but all I really noticed was the junk.

Pretty much the only thing I really liked in this puzzle was ELISION and its clu'. Oh, and learning that bit of trivia about ASPIRIN.

JaxInL.A. 10:23 AM  

ALOOF and AEON both appear in today's L.A. Times puzzle, too.

Scott 10:27 AM  

I'm pretty new to crosswords - what exactly qualifies a clue/answer as "dreck" or "ugly?" I see this kind of criticism just about every day but I really don't understand it. Does it mean it's used too often in other crosswords, that it's too hard for the day in question, or something else?

slypett 10:42 AM  

It was hard getting started, and, once I got my Reo on the road, it was cobblestones all the way.

There should be a new designation: GC (grammatically correct). I would much rather be GC than PC. I suppose one could be both PC and GC at the same time, but what would be the point?

pethrum: pethrolated rum. Yum!

mac 10:55 AM  

Not great, but an acceptable Wednesday puzzle. I got the trick almost immediately in "wedding chap", which is my favorite of the theme answers.

I had OTCer for 50D, really stared at that one until I remembered the speech impediment...

Sooey? Never heard of it. Is this about toes or pigs?

@ACM: love that "Elision" find!

Two Ponies 11:03 AM  

Slogging through all of those proper names was not worth it.
The theme answers were lame.
I really dislike Frieda-of-the-unibrow Kahlo's work.
Well said @evil doug.

Karen 11:06 AM  

I had "The XMen" for the movie for too long!! Didn't think there was a Mexican artist named "Kahlyx"... found the puzzle yukky for a Wednesday. For you technical types, that means "not much fun". The theme was ho hum and the fill wasn't particularly elegant or clever. I'm also glad to have found my long lost "tribe".

jp 11:12 AM  

Either I am dense or the theme is very lame. But after solving the puzzle (with some google help in SW corner) I did not see the theme until I got here.
Much too many trivia type questions to enjoy this puzzle. Some of the answers could be inferred from the cross clues. But still not a very enjoyable experience.

Pete 11:12 AM  

@Scott - As an example, RESEEK. Have you ever used, or heard it used, in your life? I would guess not. It's in some dictionary somewhere, standards of English permit one to guess that it's a word, but no one would ever use it. Dreck.

@Rex - While we're at it, I'm of the opinion that you let your daughter stay up too late, eat too many sweets, and I'm not to happy about the friends you let her keep. Not that I know about any of these things

Glitch 11:15 AM  

SOOEY --- Skip the first contestant


Masked and Anonymous 11:24 AM  

Deduced SCRAG from having heard stuff like "scraggly mutt" before. Always exciting to see how OOHLALA and UIE get spelled in any given puzzle. These are words where all forms are "Var.", IMO.

@31-My eyes must finally be goin'. Half the letters in your grid look blue and the rest black. Also, your last "bullet" entry looks mighty generic. Confusin' to M&A. It don't take much.

ksquare 11:26 AM  

Lil Abner's girlfriend's name was Daisy Mae SCRAG(G), but she was not so skinny.

syndy 11:32 AM  

My understanding is that pigs are extremely intelligent-which makes that clip disturbing on SO many levels! @SCOTT also random strings of letters that have been reverse engineered into some lame meaning (UIE) captha BURRADHO-the portugeese variety

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

I've got a lot of patience. I don't mind difficult or unusual words as Rex sometimes does - in fact, unless they are foreign or made up I kind of relish them; I don't particularly whine when we get modern pop culture instead of that suitable for my age.

But I do get cheesed off with the pretend words that could be spelt seven different ways. Uie, uee, uye, uey; souee, sowie, souey; perhaps even nae, nay and oh/ooh/ohh la la

I'm sure you agree, too. So, can't we use either Rex's heft in the crossword universe (or our collective heft)to do something about it?

chefbea 12:00 PM  

Did this while at the eye doctor. Now my eyes are so dialated and hurt I'll have to read all the posts later.

one Natick..the i in Arie and Elaric.

Reroofs...give me a break

Anonymous 12:00 PM  


What is a barr?

Bob Kerfuffle 12:07 PM  

EDUCES (Draws out) always reminds me of my well-loved Latin I teacher in High School, who pointed out that the word shares a Latin root with EDUCATION; thus, to draw out from the student. Unfortunately, I don't personally subscribe to that theory. I believe a lot has to be inserted into the brains of students, or what will be drawn out will not be meaningful.

jackj 12:42 PM  


Since you say you are "pretty new at crosswords", as you become more involved, you will fall back on the immortal words of Justice Potter Stewart, "I know it when I see it", to help you identify "dreck" and "ugly" in crosswords.

jberg 12:55 PM  

@Rex, nice work finding a pictue of Ms. (Or is it Srta.) Kahlo on which someone has drawn a BOW.

@EvilDoug - how can you call yourself evil if you don't just love Michelle Rhee?

The one thing that bugged me with the theme is MOD TRAIN SET. In every other theme, dropping the el changes the meaning to a considerable extent, but here we're still talking about a train set, and probably a modern train set, just saying that it's stylish (or would have been in the 1960s) Didn't work for me.

I really stuck with Rachel RAe for a long time, confusing her with her sister Norma. I almost came here to ask how eARNS related to Paul Bunyan, but as so often happens noticed YARNS at the last possible moment. (Often doesn't happen, as well!)

andrea cara michaes 12:57 PM  

I think your Latin teacher (mine too!) meant to draw out (lead out, really, so e (from)+ duce = lead, thus also giving us il duce for Mussolini and seduce for...@dk?) in the sense of their piecing things together and inferring things and coming to a full understanding of what you are teaching...not drawing out what they already know (which as you say, might not be much yet).
It's about educating/leading by having students make connections not just filling the students up with memorizing stuff and then regurgitating what they already know.
Just like crosswords!!!!

mac 1:11 PM  

@Glitch: thanks! LOL! That folded-nose was very realistic.

Rube 1:15 PM  

I always thought FEDORAs were felt. Looked it up on Wiki and they agree, but searching "leather fedora" gave me lots of leather FEDORAs as well as straw ones. So, learned something new there.

Like Syndy and others, had ReIS and LeN. Didn't know either so technically DNF.

After staring at it for a while, I figured that BOWS referred to drawing a (e.g. violin) bow across the strings.

@JaxinLA. In case you didn't realize it, those were "spoilers" for those of us who haven't yet done the LAT puzzle.

baja 1:17 PM  

@joho well said. I use scrag in reference to (mostly my) hair. my hair seems scraggy today i.e. thin wispy messy

D. Duck 1:30 PM  

To all my non-feathered friends: SOOEY and UIE are the long-lost members of my quintuplet nephews and brothers of Huey, Dewey and Louie. There's no truth to the rumor that it was actually a sestuplet, with Phooey being the sixth.

lit.doc 1:54 PM  

@D. Duck, LOL! I feel much better about the puzzle, understanding its factual basis much better now.

600 2:10 PM  

My first DNF on a Wednesday in months! I came here to see Rex take on the Naticks that did me in (E_ISION and REA_ES; AR_E and ALER_C) and instead discover he's rated it EASY-medium! Oh, woe is me!

I hope someone decides if it's UEY or UIE pretty soon. On second thought, I'm with efrex and jackj and the rest. Let's just get rid of it. It's ugly either way.

About teaching children to speak properly: my experience is that parents who speak properly produce children who also do. The opposite is almost always equally true. Though he certainly doesn't need my approval, and he's wisely staying out of the discussion, Rex was right this time--modeling works. Corrections rarely do.

Neither do high stakes testing, the NCLB, nor the Michelle Rhees of this world.

Nighthawk 2:12 PM  

Scraggly, sure. Well worn. SCRAG? Still in the box, wrapped, with the BOW not yet drawn.

Masked and Anonymous, Part B 2:29 PM  

At first I sorta shrugged this puz off, but upon further review, it's starting to gain my affections.

72 words and 34 black blocks. That produces lots of long words and pretty fresh fill! I guess some of that "fresh" fill is considered weak; for instance: REROOFS, RESEEK, OCHERS, ,WANDAS, SOOEY, OOHLALA. So be it, but that stuff sure didn't slow my solve down much. SOOEY reminded me of 31's HOGCALLS, a true golden oldie.

Also, there's a bunch of fill hard not to appreciate, like: KAHLO, RATIONSOUT, SITSBACK, GRAMMAR, THEOMEN, SCIENCE, ASPIRIN, FEDORA, ADDEND, ABRAHAM.

Theme is rock solid. NO-EL'S reveal is clever. Granted, maybe the whole idea didn't blast my socks clean off, but that's OK. Wouldn't want to start gettin' cold feet at this point, anyway, because I'm going...
Thumbs Up!

Now, about this "No REALES" pledge, that I'm asking every Republican constructor to sign...

CoffeeLvr 3:03 PM  

@D.Duck, Phooey indeed. My daily chuckle.

I suspect we all agree that we support giving our children "guidance" in grammar and pronunciation (and spelling, if homework is made available.) The real question is what we mean by "correction." When my son erred in a way I felt was inappropriate for his stage of development, I repeated what he meant with corrected grammar/pronunciation. Now is that "correction" or "modeling"? Or both? These days he is more likely to correct my use of slang.

The Today show clip left me remembering why I don't watch the show.

Now to check out the hog calls.

sanfranman59 3:54 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 13:28, 11:53, 1.13, 81%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:55, 5:52, 1.18, 90%, Challenging

foodie 3:59 PM  

I'm with @Hazel on this one. Also, I happened to solve from the bottom, got NOEL early on and totally did not dEDUCE the removal of EL, so it took a while...

I really have to work on my appreciation of wackiness.

foodie 4:01 PM  

On the other hand, the first comment today made me laugh.

Victor in Rochester 4:40 PM  

@lit.doc: Interesting history to "hysterical". The root word hyster indeed means uterus (pl. 29D uteri). Hysteria used to be thought to be a woman's disease exclusively, and was due to a "wandering uterus" which had become detached from its moorings and roamed about the body. So hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) and hysteria (a form of craziness) have the same origin.

fergus 5:02 PM  

Not surprised at SFman's Challenging. Even getting the idea left me with too many odd possibilities of where to elide the EL, and I guess the Cluing was trickier than that of a typical Wednesday.

When it comes to "correction" with either friends, child or students, I take the middle ground and sometimes pose a polite question?

JenCT 5:25 PM  


Can never seem to remember TOR, or how to spell KAHLO.

Nice to see a different clue for TAT.

Frida 5:40 PM  

I drank to drown my sorrows but the damned things learned how to swim.

Stan 7:01 PM  

I liked this quite a lot. The theme worked, and the clues seemed fresh and interesting (fun facts!) Did not mind the Natick-y moments, but maybe just because in this case I figured them out.

I have 'Wrong!" written in the margin next to ALE, but I'm not going to hold it against someone if their bottle-recognition skills aren't as advanced as mine.

Z 7:44 PM  

Comments more fun than the puzzle. I do believe that Phooey is the black duck of the family.

Regarding education and correcting our children, Ye Olde Deluder Satan Act of 1647 would be a much better alternative to NCLB or the SCRAGgly thinking of the Rhees, Paiges, and Arne Duncans of the world.

sanfranman59 10:05 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 6:44, 6:51, 0.98, 48%, Medium
Tue 8:36, 8:55, 0.96, 44%, Medium
Wed 13:32, 11:53, 1.14, 83%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:40, 3:40, 1.00, 51%, Medium
Tue 4:12, 4:35, 0.92, 24%, Easy-Medium
Wed 6:18, 5:52, 1.07, 73%, Medium-Challenging

deerfencer 2:04 AM  


Uninspired dreck with a very weak/lame theme IMO. Nothing inspiring here. Let's move on.

+wordphan 3:18 AM  

Bama. Otter. Visigoths. This one was wanky, if ever there was. Bumpy, too. Good to see Rocky Peak and Eland; both old friend clues from the day, as in back in.

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

Cheri O-teri I know...but Cheri Uteri?

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

An out-of-season theme and a lot of bunk fill. If you can't finish the crossword in the morning, it isn't the coffee, it's the bunk.

Waxy in Montreal 1:16 PM  

Not knowing Rachael RAY, had RAP, PAENS and TOE in the extreme northeast. Seemed reasonable at the time...

Interesting that Bayer retains the TM for Aspirin here in Canada. Since we fought with the victors in WWI, not sure if the Treaty of Versailles clue represents the entire yarn. Perhaps it too is nothing but perception?

Dirigonzo 5:53 PM  

From syndiland, LeN/ReIS and ALEReC/AReE spoiled my grid as I could see any vowel being right in those crosses, and I guessed wrong. There were some other names I didn't know but the crosses worked things out.

BAMA struck me as missing something until ALA came along and completed it.

The AVEC/SANS pairing strained my high school French to the limit, but apparently Miss Baker made enough of an impression that at least some of her lessons lasted for almost 50 years.

stche - When did they make him a saint?

Anonymous 7:48 PM  

@many bad choices: what a brilliant "typo!" Unemplowed! I love it! To the puzz.
This is the second or third time in recent days that the constructors have felt it necessary to repeat the word OLE in an entry. Okay, maybe the crowd does often do it double--but it's still yucky. I did like the originalish clue for RAY, bypassing many more common others, as well as for SCIENCE.
I do wish, though, that some time, the clue for that might be "Blinding agent for Thomas Dolby", and one might use "Unscraped tablets for Albert" for ASPIRIN. I look forward.
No need to repeat the redundancy of the re-words, or the other crapola. 'ERO? Can't help it, I have to put that apostrophe in. 'e's 'ALE and 'earty, 'e is.
Once again we have OOHLALA (why did I know what Andrea's middle name would be today, even before I saw it?) Let's give that one a break.
Stuff I did like? The fresh SOOEY crossing YORK, a not-that often mentioned city; the AVEC/SANS twins; and the fact that UTERI is located in the exact center of the grid's "body."

arcen: crime of a firebug who likes to "C" his work.

Pippin 8:13 PM  

I struggled with this one and had to return to it in order to finish (hence the very late post).

I did NOT enjoy this one at all and when I read @Nitty Griddy I realized why.

@D.Duck - you made my day! Best comment ever. PHOOEY!!!!!

Anonymous 10:42 PM  

So a PAN is a harsh review? I had never heard of that. Or a MIDI skirt.

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