Cartoon villain who sails Black Barnacle / FRI 10-14-11 / Ozone destroyers / Player of Duke Santos 1960 / Artist whose moniker is pronunciation of his initials

Friday, October 14, 2011

Constructor: Caleb Madison and J.A.S.A. Class

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none


Word of the Day: A.J. CRONIN (41A: A. J. who wrote "The Citadel") —
Archibald Joseph Cronin (19 July 1896–6 January 1981) was a Scottish physician and novelist. His best-known works are Hatter's Castle, The Stars Look Down, The Citadel, The Keys of the Kingdom and The Green Years, all of which were adapted to film. He also created the Dr. Finlay character, the hero of a series of stories that served as the basis for the popular BBC television and radio series entitled Dr. Finlay's Casebook. [...] The Citadel, a tale of a mining company doctor's struggle to balance scientific integrity with social obligations, incited the establishment of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom by exposing the inequity and incompetence of medical practice at the time. In the novel, Cronin advocated a free public health service in order to defeat the wiles of those doctors who "raised guinea-snatching and the bamboozling of patients to an art form." Dr. Cronin and Aneurin Bevan had both worked at the Tredegar Cottage Hospital in Wales, which served as the basis for the NHS. The author quickly made a number of enemies in the medical profession, and there was a concerted effort by one group of specialists to get The Citadel banned. Cronin's novel, which was the publisher's best-selling book in its history, informed the public of corruption within the medical system, planting a seed that eventually led to necessary reform. Not only were the author's pioneering ideas instrumental in the creation of the NHS, but historian Raphael Samuel has stated that the popularity of his novels played a substantial role in the Labour Party's landslide 1945 victory. (wikipedia)
• • •

With the notable exceptions of FACEBOOK PROFILE (38A: Where to see the writing on the wall?) and KRISTEN WIIG (17A: Co-writer and star of "Bridesmaids"), this puzzle didn't seem very original. Themelesses thrive zingy long stuff, and it just isn't here. I wonder if a class that is just learning to construct should be doing themelesses (which, in my experience, are much harder to pull off than themed puzzles). When the fairly obscure proper nouns like CRONIN and "PETULIA" (which I still can't believe is right ...) (40D: 1968 Julie Christie movie set in San Francisco) upstage your good stuff, and you have to rely on so much ordinary-to-weak short stuff to hold it all together, you have something of a problem. AAU? I'm just noticing that answer now (25A: Sports org.). What the hell is that? Amateur Athletic Union ... I feel like I've complained about this answer before. Bah. Anyway, from GEER to GEAR to GORE, not a ton of joy here today. Wait, I forgot to give love to OFA. OFA is terrible fill, yes, but that is one good clue, I must say (16A: What may come between two friends?).



Flew through the top of the puzzle, and struggled in normal Friday fashion through the middle. The struggle was due almost entirely to CRONIN and (really?) "PETULIA." Also SEA HAG (47D: Cartoon villain who sails the Black Barnacle), which is a cartoon character I somehow missed (this from someone who at this very moment is wearing a Mighty Mouse t-shirt). She's an enemy of Popeye, it turns out. Seems like I should've known that. There are few words I dislike as much as I dislike DECOCT (45D: Extract the essence of by boiling), but the weird thing about really disliking a word is that you get pretty familiar with it—you gotta be familiar to have strong opinions—and so I strangely threw DECOCT down with hardly any crosses in place. Seeing ONTARIO (15D: One side of the Detroit River) in a puzzle (even the crosswordese abbrev. version, ONT) always gives me mild pangs of NOSTALGIA (11D: It "isn't what it used to be," said Simone Signoret) for my days living in southern Michigan, very close to the Canadian border. Speaking of which, go Tigers.

Bullets:
  • 14A: Player of Duke Santos in "Ocean's Eleven," 1960 (CESAR ROMERO) — also player of The Joker in '60s "Batman"
  • 26A: Coal-rich valley (SAAR) — important crosswordese that I always forget. I wanted RUHR.
  • 60A: Peabody Museum patron, perhaps (ELI) — this is just Caleb secretly showing off that he's an Ivy-Leaguer now. 


[absolute insanity]

  • 64A: Playwright who became a president (VACLAV HAVEL) — I should be more impressed than I am by this answer. I feel like I saw him in a puzzle not too long ago, so my reaction wasn't "wow," but "oh, you again." Strangely, it's been sixteen years since this exact answer has appeared in the NYT, so I don't know where I saw my HAVEL. Maybe I'm getting him confused with LECH WALESA (I think I do that).
  • 1D: Official in the Clinton White House (ICKES) — thumbing through the first pages of Terry Teachout's bio of H.L. Mencken today, I noticed the name ICKES and thought "that appears in crosswords sometimes." That particular ICKES was Secretary of the Interior under FDR, not Deputy Chief of Staff for Clinton. Hey, whaddyaknow—they're father/son.
  • 6D: Father of Harmonia, in myth (ARES) — the only way I was able to spell KRISTEN correctly.
  • 13D: William ___, 1990s attorney general (BARR) — don't know him, but I have a distinct feeling I've not known him before, because his name eventually came to me without much assistance. He's Bush I, I think.
Happy birthday, Sandy.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

73 comments:

syndy 12:31 AM  

WOW I did not find this easy at all.AEOLIAN HARP I mean I bet it's cool but I'll go llok it up. Top fell okay but the bottom kicked my butt around.I wanted VACLAW for some reason,and I wanted BLUTTO!I still don't understand OFA-33 down LIKING/PARTIAL TO doesn't seem to parse-can't Caleb turn out some MEEKER cruciverbalists?

foodie 1:34 AM  

I liked it. I really really liked it. May be because it has some of my old and current neighborhoods-- SYR and my neighbor to the South (Yes) ONTARIO. I enjoyed that very polite crossing: SHALL WE? IF YOU WILL, next to the slangy I DIG IT. And AEOLIAN HARP on top of VACLAV HAVEL, CEASAR ROMERRO on top of KRISTEN WIIG! Very impressive... Nothing wrong with MATING CALL.. The great clue for NOSTALIGA, and for TERRA. For a while, I wanted the writing on the wall to have to do with the Vietnam Memorial, but FACEBOOK PROFILE emerged right in the middle. Excellent!

Actually, I did not pay attention to the constructor's name before I started and partway through I thought: This is so cool, looked up and saw the authors, and thought I would just ADORE to be in this class!

Andrew 1:52 AM  

Ugh! I flew through the top 2/3 of the puzzle in record Friday time, leaving only the SE after 4 minutes. Unfortunately, got stuck there for 15 more minutes, poking and prodding and generally being angry at uninferrable crossings. AEOLIAN HARP and VACLAV HAVEL (neither of which I believe I've ever heard of) crossing the truly obscure PETULIA and the obscure-to-me MALLE made for some bother. Didn't help that with MATIN- in place I figured I was looking for some French term meaning "morning song". Maybe I should have known this stuff, but I didn't. And it was quite irksome, especially given the ease of the rest of the puzzle.

jae 2:19 AM  

Like Andrew, I found most of this very easy. Got slightly hung up in NE with ASYOUWILL but got it fixed. The mid SE, however, was a bear. Vaguely remembered AEOLIAN and MALLE but it took a while. So, easy-challenging for me.

I'm with foodie on liking this one for pretty much what she said. BTW, if you haven't seen the movie Paul it's worth it for WIIG's performance alone. One of the funnier movies I've seen in quite a while.

Don Byas 2:33 AM  

Had the first letter of quite a few words because ITALIA, ABET, NIB, CPA, CFCS and NAVE were clued at a Wednesdayish level. SANER and RARER were also gimmes.
Did this in record time. Tried Lech Walesa because I hadn't yet seen the NAVE clue. Not enough resistance from this one. Hope to see a punishing Saturday puzzle!

SethG 2:46 AM  

Sandy!

Flew through the top in record time, and actually closed the deal. My fastest non-themed Friday by two minutes; under 10.

Lots of stuff I didn't know, especially in the SE, but the cluing on other stuff? So straightforward! [Co-writer and star of (a current hit film)]? [More reasonable], [Lou Gehrig's disease, for short], [The Stars may play the Blues in it, briefly], [Abbr. after several examples]? On a Friday? Thank god for OFA!

Looking forward to a long string of complaints about too many proper names, because those are super fun.

aeolian calif michaels 3:04 AM  

I spent over half an hour trying to figure out the theme!!!! I forgot what day it was and thought I was solving a Thursday.

Close as I got to discerning a theme were double letters: WIIG, SAAR, BARR, CesaRRomero, but that didn't pan out.

So, yes, Seth, there WAS a lot of name stuff:
ICKES, KIRSTENWIIG, Simone Signoret, GEER, BARR, CESARROMERO, DEBRA Messing, Louis MALLE, ERTE, ALGORE, PETULIA (I join Rex with "????!"), ARAM Khachaturian, AJ CRONIN, VACLAVHAVEL,
(Nice reminder that Europeans get to have intellectuals as Presidents while we had Bush; and three Vs in one name is nothing to sneeze at.)

But is that a good way to make a themeless? I mean, not a lot of wordplay in the clues for people who are people.

I mean you could keep KIRSTENWIIG, DEBRA Messing, Will GEER, and the Julie Christie film, not to mention BRAVO as a cable channel, change BARR clue to Roseanne and the SHALLWE to "SHALLWE Dance", ALS to Grandpa Munster Lewis and "Married with Children" role and resubmit this to People/TV Guide!
(Tho you would have to cut off the bottom three lines of the grid!)

Was positive that the Peabody Museum is at Harvard. Wait, it is!!! So, either Yale has one too or that's a major mistake.

(OK, googled, Yale has one too, but did Young Caleb not know about the Harvard one? Was that intentionally misleading? Did any of the checkers know about Harvard's Peabody Museum? Joon?)

I also had one mistake: ARiS. I conflated ARES and ERIS...new god:
ARIS!

I just hope the RABBIT's not dead.

chefwen 3:27 AM  

Wow, medium/challenging at this compound. Too many unknowns for me. Never heard of that crazy, vowel rich HARP, like @syndy will have to look it up. I've been cooking for a lot of years, never mind how many but a lot, and I have never heard the term DECOCT, it's not even in my Food Lover's Companion book which has just about every cooking method and terminology known.

Still don't get 16A OFA, I'm sure someone will explain and I will have to do a double DOH!

jae 4:21 AM  

@syndy & chefwen -- the way I parsed the clue for OFA was the phrase "friend OF A friend." This could be wrong?

Also, "I'm liking (PARTIAL TO) s'mores as a campfire treat." I agree, it's a tad forced.

Hat Karaoke 4:45 AM  

Thanks so much for creating it. Please keep us updated.

shrub5 6:14 AM  

Hacked away at this off and on for more than an hour. Couldn't believe that AEOLIAN HARP and VACLAV HAVEL were right, but was unable to pinpoint any mistakes in the surrounding areas (although DECOCT was under suspicion.) So I resorted to google and, lo and behold, they were both right! Got the proper names I didn't know (BARR, CRONIN, ARAM, SAAR) relatively easily with crosses. Liked the RARER/more bloody clue.
All in all...a nice workout!! BRAVO to Caleb and the class.

Gareth Bain 7:25 AM  

I did battle in general with proper names, but not AJ CRONIN, "The Citadel" is a great novel!

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

Somebody please explain "OFA."

joho 7:53 AM  

Like others, easy until the bottom where I ended up with one error with SEAHoG which is stupid because I know HAVEL. Very impressive to have AEOLIANHARP over VACLAVHAVEL.

I had the most writeovers at STilTED, STiNTED, STUNTED.

Loved seeing KRISTENWIIG who is my favorite on SNL.

Congratulations to Caleb and his class on a puzzle well done!

Jim 8:05 AM  

I was delayed, but ultimately not DECOCT by the middle south, the only part of his puzzle to offer resistance.

Otherwise, really pedestrian puzzle.

Glimmerglass 8:34 AM  

I don't get OFA either. Somebody? Rex? PETULIA was a wonderful little movie that didn't get much notice in its time. If you run across it on TCM or can rent it, have a look. One of Julie Christie's very best roles.

jberg 8:39 AM  

@anonymous 7:47 - "She's a friend OF A friend"

Drat! I didn't know KRISTEN WIIG, so thought it must be WInG, and that ERnE was some obscure town in Maine, where the city Presque Ile is. So I finished with an error.

There are Peabody Museums all over, I guess; the real one is in Salem MA! - but with 3 letters it had to be ELI anyway.

Must say I loved AEOLIAN HARP & VACLAV HAVEL. Walesa was a shipyard worker, not a playwright! It just took me too long to start thinking outside the USA. Fortunately, Eisenhower was one letter too short.

I did think, after the NW, that this was going to be actors' names for all the long downs.

One peeve was STAGE ACTOR. Who says that?

Rob C 8:39 AM  

@Glimmerglass and Anon 7:47

friend OF A friend

jackj 9:05 AM  

I’m told that the negotiations as to what is included in the J.A.S.A. puzzles are where all the action is. Case in point, it seems that the distaff members of the group were adamant that FACEBOOKPROFILE be the lead entry in this puzzle, while the men where equally determined to make VICTORIASSECRET the signature bit.

After difficult and prolonged discussions, the men finally traded their position on Victoria’s Secret for an agreement to include KRISTENWIIG in the puzzle, (which they claim was their goal all along), while the lady constructors slipped in CESARROMERO to even the score, (but neither side claimed ownership of MATINGCALL).

As with all the group efforts led by Caleb this one was a particular delight. Not really Friday difficult but with such a rich offering of fill, (VACLAVHAVEL crossing PETULIA and SEAHAG, for example), it is a feast for a weary mind and IDIGIT.

Keep 'em coming JASA; let's see what Caleb's successor, Ian Livengood will inspire this accomplished group to produce.

Tobias Duncan 9:17 AM  

The amount of stuff in this puzzle that I have never heard of was... well it was just brutal.WIIG ?Thats a name?Top fell ok but the bottom was just too tough for me, big fat DNF.
I cant believe Rex called this easy/med.

John V 9:35 AM  

Hand up for WIIG (had WING, my only error) and OFA which was my WTF moment. Thanks for the help on this one, folks.

DECOCT? Really? Wrote in DECANT, of course and couldn't believe decoct to be a real word. Sounds like something SEAHAG might have done, is what I'm saying.

Overall, save for WIIG/ERIE cross, easy/medium to me, but needed all 38 miles, Stamford to Wall Street, to get it. Maybe I need a longer train ride on Friday -- NOT!

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

I think your photo is of the wrong Cronin?

Lindsay 9:43 AM  

Came to the blog a bit peeved at the naminess of the grid but your comments have amused me, so I won't be peeved any more.

Despite knowing AEOLIAN HARP, seriously considered AEOLIAN HAwk, as I had filled in RAwER rather than RARER at 53D.

chefbea 9:45 AM  

Lots of names I didn't know!!
Hand up for not knowing ofa...thanks for the explanation.

I have never, ever used the term decoct or have ever heard of it. I'm surprised no one has mentioned a meaning that would not pass the breakfast test!!!

Rex Parker 10:44 AM  

If the "comment" function is not working for you, you aren't alone. I can only assume it's some stupid Blogger glitch that will clear itself up.

Two Ponies 10:46 AM  

Easy? Really?
Never ever heard of the Vaclav person. I toyed with the notion of Cesar Chavez to have a Cesar theme.
Yes, @SethG, too many names.

PuzzleNut 10:48 AM  

Started in the NW with a bang, but eventually slowed way down as I moved south.
CRONIN, MALLE and PETULIA were my bugaboos, although I should remember MALLE. DECOCT came quickly from somewhere deep in my brain, but I was pretty sure it was wrong. Eventually, it fit. The AEOLIAN HARP was wonderful!! Spelling for VACLAV needed a lot of crosses.
Nice puzzle overall.

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

The museum in Salem, Mass. is the Peabody-Essex. Nobody calls it the Peabody.



teathor--Do I have to draw you a picture?

Gill I. P. 11:02 AM  

Well, everything was going swimmingly until I was faced with CESARROMERO, KRISTENWIIG, CRONIN, GEER, DEBRA, PETULIA, my best friend VACLAHAVEL and of course Mr. DECOCT.
Venanzite sounds ominous and I'm not sure I would take a vitamin with the word Nutrilite in it.
I did enjoy the words AEOLIANHARP, MATINGCALL and like @foodie IF YOU WILL and SHALL WE?
Dare I say BRAVO?

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

@Big A: The Peabody is Yale's natural history museum.
ELI doesn't make much sense otherwise.

jp 11:19 AM  

Absolutely hated this puzzle. I could not get much before needing to google. CESAR ROMERO,KRISTEN WIIG, AEOLIAN HARP, VACLAV HAVEL and similar obscurities that I absolutely refuse to remember. The only answers that made me smile a bit were FACEBOOK PROFILE and MATING CALL.
Definitely not my kind of puzzle.

Ted Kerwin 11:20 AM  

Re: Havel, I thought it was the answer to a drank beer with the president clue recently. But I could be wrong.

quilter1 11:20 AM  

I liked it. I once heard an AEOLIANHARP on my classical radio station. It is a beautiful sound. CESARROMERO was my mom's teenage heartthrob. I believe I saw PETULIA as I was a big Julie Christie fan. I thought at first the playwright/president was Ianescu (sp?) but knew HAVEL as well.

I also liked all of what @foodie liked. I'd call it medium for a Friday and all morning I kept thinking it was Saturday!

Mel Ott 11:45 AM  

Challenging for those of us who don't know show biz names very well. Probably more so for those who don't know the historical/political names either.

I'm pretty good with the latter so I got VACLAV HAVEL with no crosses. Don't know of any other playwrights who became president of anything. He was quite notable as an early Czech president after the fall of the iron curtain.

BTW, I don't know quite how you get from one to the other, but VACLAV is the Czech version of William.

Stan 11:55 AM  

With Kristen Wiig, Debra Messing, and Vaclav Havel, the theme could have been: People Whose Names I Recognize, But Don't Know How to Spell.

Facebook answer was great, especially after wrestling with ideas like BOOK PROFITS and BOOK PERFUME for a while.

Nice balance of old and new. Good job, Caleb and class!

hazel 12:37 PM  

Had a bit of trouble in the NE and SW but I'm definitely in the IDIG IT/PARTIAL TO/BRAVO camp. I think its kind of cool the way they worked the ESE in with some interesting cluing. Seems like a class just wouldn't be a class without learning about - and incorporating - the crutches that help hold a puzzle up. I'd like to see them take on ASTA with an interesting clue.

VACLAVHAVEL and KRISTENWIIG are awesome offsets. New Yorker ran a profile on KW before Bridesmaids came out, which was v. interesting. Haven't seen the movie, but I remember her vividly.

LR 12:38 PM  

If there were a contest for "worst partial," I think "friend OF A friend" would win handily. Booo!!!

Anne 12:48 PM  

On one of my favorite sites - The Dish, Andrew Sullivan is discussing "The Economics of Hot Stewardesses" - if anyone is interested.

KarenSampsonHudson 12:54 PM  

I agree, LR. Enjoyed most of the other clues but not that one!

Nick 1:07 PM  

AEOLIAN HARP over VACLAV HAVEL? Fork this puzzle up its stupid pretentious asp.

Chip Hilton 1:29 PM  

The crossing of VACLAV... and DECOCT stumped me. That word, DECOCT, is really ICKESounding.

Surprised at the number of people unfamiliar with KRISTENWIIG. Wonderfully funny, if overused on SNL.

Gotta run, late for AEOLIANHARP practice.

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

gee, i miss those days when one blogger would attack another blogger. can't we all just stop getting along?

Anonymous 1:38 PM  

I agree, anonymous 9:38 - looks like an early picture of Hume Cronyn, A. J. Cronin it ain't!

quilter1 1:51 PM  

I knew DECOCT but remembered it as DEdOCT so had a writeover there. Either way an ugly word.

oblenist: a reed musician who plays well with others

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

I suspect that Mel Ott @ 11:45 is using a pseudonym

Sparky 2:24 PM  

DNF wee hole NE. Missed NIB, OFA. Thanks for clearing that up @jae and others. Had WInG. Have given up on SNL. Asleep by then. Although definition of DECOCT implies cooking, I belive it's used more in chemistry.

Liked AEOLIANHARP. We just had the R. T. clue someplace so that was handy. Apse before NAVE. Definitely Hume Cronin, not A. J. I like the idea of a class puzzle. Clearly picking the day of the week is tricky.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Sandy.

edmcan 2:38 PM  

I didn't like this puzzle either. 'I Dig it' for "Gotcha" is pretty poor. The rest of it just sounds like they're showing off. Definitely not easy-medium for me. :-p

Lewis 2:39 PM  

I liked OFA -- thought it was quite clever.

I think the difficulty level of this puzzle would be a function of one's knowledge bank...

sanfranman59 3:16 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Fri 21:11, 25:43, 0.82, 19%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 11:02, 12:43, 0.87, 26%, Easy-Medium

North Beach 4:13 PM  

@Anon 11:02,
When I was a wee schoolchild in Mass., we would take field trips to the Peabody Museum in Salem. Turns out it changed it's name in 1992 to the Peabody Essex Museum. Still, don't call me nobody.

Oldactor 4:21 PM  

re: jberg
Who says Stage Actor? I do. I am one.

Martin 4:40 PM  

George Peabody endowed museums at Yale and Harvard at the same time, with the same endowment. Harvard's Peabody Museum is the archeology museum attached to the wondeful Natural History museum. I can't resist the latter when I'm in Boston because of the super-amazing Glass Flowers. Since the Harvard Peabody is free on the same ticket, I've been there a few times.

George Peabody was born in South Danvers, MA, which is now called Peabody, MA. That's a lot of philanthropy.

chefwen 5:32 PM  

@jae - Thanks for the exp. make perfect sense now. I'll just give myself one DOH! cuz I wasn't alone.

baja 6:17 PM  

@Martin - Thanks so much for the Glass Flowers link

Cheerio 6:57 PM  

I really enjoyed this one and not just because it was easy. I thought a lot of the obscurities were sufficiently intriguing to look up after, and often I don't think that. Like Simone Signoret. Great name, and sharing the puzzle with Louis Malle?(FFF could mean Fan of French Film.) And wow -that Julie Christie movie looks to have a very strange plot. May have to see if Netflix has it. Hmm. May have to sign back up for Netflix in the mail. I had to play Kachaturian piano pieces as a child. I can't believe I have never known his first name before. I used to think his last name was similar to Chicken Cacciatore.

Rube 8:08 PM  

I too found this one tough... HTG. Got CEESARROMERO & KRISTENWIIG with a few crosses but most of the other names were total unknowns. Thought I had Janet Reno nailed only to find out it was the other 4-letter-last-name-attorney-general, BARR.

Have heard of an AEOLIANHARP, but needed most of the crosses to dig it out of the attic. DECOCT???

Tx for the explanation of OFA. Now I need to connect STAGEACTOR with blocking... can only think football.

mac 8:32 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, but it helped that I knew who worked on it! Great job, Caleb!

Was I the only one who started out with "nee" at 16? Is that too romantic??

Hume Cronin was in the seat across from me years ago from Westport to NY. Of course I knew Vaclav Havel. Had a hard time figuring out the part after Facebook at 38A. The NE was the toughest for me.

Stan 8:47 PM  

@Rube: (From New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts website)

STAGE ACTING TERM: BLOCKING
Blocking is the term used to describe where and how an actor moves on the stage during a play. Most playwrights incorporate basic blocking into their scripts. Since stages come in different sizes and may have different special needs, the director will draft out his/her own blocking before rehearsals begin. Blocking includes elements such as where an actor takes his place at the beginning of a scene, “crossing,” when an actor moves across the length of the stage to another actor or part of the set, and any action that asks an actor to employ the use of a prop.

sanfranman59 12:33 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 6:17, 6:51, 0.92, 19%, Easy
Tue 8:03, 8:53, 0.91, 23%, Easy-Medium
Wed 9:19, 11:50, 0.79, 8%, Easy (10th lowest median solve time of 119 Wednesdays)
Thu 17:31, 19:09, 0.91, 39%, Easy-Medium
Fri 21:31, 25:43, 0.84, 20%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:25, 3:40, 0.93, 23%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:15, 4:35, 0.93, 30%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:14, 5:51, 0.89, 27%, Easy-Medium
Thu 8:47, 9:20, 0.93, 43%, Medium
Fri 10:28, 12:43, 0.82, 21%, Easy-Medium

+wordphan 3:16 AM  

My dog died, so everything hurts, including this puzzle. Are we clear on the OFA? Triple DOH! I was ok until I hit the SE corner, then pfft. Be good to your dog and other sentient beings; you never bloody hell know.

Justin 2:39 PM  

That's not A.J. Cronin in the first picture but the actor Hume Cronyn, who incidentally acted in the film of Cronin's novel, "The Green Years". "The Citadel" is a superb novel!

yaakovm 3:51 PM  

What did the clue "Little middle?" mean? I know the answer is tees, but what the heck is that?

Cheerio 4:30 PM  

The middle letters of the word LITTLE are tees.

yaakovm 4:45 PM  

Ugh! Thank you, Cheerio.

Anonymous 11:11 PM  

@wordphan, Sorry you lost your dog, yeah, it makes everything hurt. Been there too. Life's so tough sometimes. Try to remember all the great times you had with that pup&the love you shared ( which will always be yours). Take care.

edmcan 3:39 PM  

@wordphan-can't add anything to what anonymous said. I can share your pain.

Stan 12:35 AM  

@wordphan: Just want to express sympathy and support for you at this time.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

Please excuse this late entry. I get the Nyt xword in Vancouver a month after publication in NYC. While checking your comments I noticed a picture of Hume Cronyn the actor in place of AJ Cronin.

Bones 12:33 PM  

Geer Gear and Gore.....weak! Aeolian harp, are you serious? Replace the "e" with an "h" and it describes the authors.

Red Valerian 5:25 PM  

@wordphan--condolences from syndi-land. I hope you are feeling brighter now. @Anonymous 11:11pm is right, of course, about thinking of all the good stuff. If it weren't so great to have pets, it wouldn't be so awful to lose them.

Really enjoyed the puzzle. That is possibly partly because I finished it, despite never having heard of Kristen Wiig (guess I don't get out much). Finishing a Friday always makes me happy, even when it's an easy one.

@Anonymous 11:05am--I advise reading the blog before you post. And remembering that Rex has a quirky sense of humour.

captcha= morkin... impersonatin' Robin Williams

Dirigonzo 8:58 PM  

@+wordphan - 5 weeks is not much time to get over the loss of a loved pet, but I hope you are starting to take comfort in your memories of your faithful companion.

As to the puzzle, I totally deconstructed in the SE corner of the grid. I appreciate that many found this easy but I'm with @Nick 1:07PM - although I would have said it more gently.

Let's see how Rex was doing on this date in his rookie year:
- "Solving time: I don't know ... 25-30 minutes, maybe."
- "Saturday puzzles should be difficult, but I want to feel like my struggle was worth it - I want to say (in my head, usually) "Aha! Damn ... that's good." That did not happen much today"
- "Saw Happy Feet yesterday. I do not recommend that you do the same. Unless your idea of a good time is a. listening to sexualized penguins sing sub-Moulin Rouge pop medleys, b. having scary animated predators lunge Directly At You over and over and over and over and over again, always with the accompanying cheap loud music explosion, or c. listening to Robin Williams imitate Mexicans and / or evangelical preachers." [Ironic theatrical note: Happy Feet 2 premiered this week in 2011]
- "1A: Interviewer in some mock interviews (Baba Wawa)

Great - this is what I'm talking about when I say that I want to go "Aha!" after struggling with an answer. Still, will there not be a lot of solvers out there going "WTF!?!?" after seeing this answer? The answer comes from one (albeit recurring) bit on one TV show from about 30 years ago! I know that Gilda Radner's imitation was very famous at the time. But still. And yet. Am I complaining or celebrating? Well, I get it, so I am celebrating"
- "But IHOP is so much better, if only because, as many of you know, IHOP is the closest thing I have to a Church. I look forward to going there on Sundays (or Saturdays) and Adoring the Pancakes, especially during this, the season of Thanksgiving (I was excited to see that there was an International House of Prayer, but then found out that there were no pancakes involved and quickly turned away). In fact, on my birthday (8 days left, people!) I plan to go to IHOP and worship like crazy."
- " There aren't many letters that could have gone there, and I certainly had "P" as an option, but having Never Heard Of either "agouti" or its alleged "cousin" the PACA, I had no help from the cross. So I guessed "V" - because VOCO sounded like it might be Something, musically, and VACA was, I believed, a cow, so could possibly be the cousin of some imagined French cow named the agouti. To quote yesterday's puzzle, SO IT GOES."
- "Dammit I always misspell this guy's name thusly: LEHR. Always. It's ridiculous. You see "Garland" and "1939" in the same place and you know the clue is about The Wizard of Oz, and you see the four letters, and you think "Oh that Cowardly Lion guy ... I can see him .. Burr... Barr ... Behr ... LEHR! Yes, awesome." Wrong. LAHR. Bert LAHR, to be exact."
- The 15 comments consisted of much bantering between Rex and the growing number of Rexites, including this from @Orange: "I mosey. My friends and relatives mosey, too. What sort of horrible repressed upbringing did you have that you think moseying is only for cowboys? Go ahead and try it out—you can even mosey to IHOP. But good gravy, who needs all-you-can-eat pancakes? I can finish a short stack and that's it."

Alex 10:53 PM  

Just came across this puzzle and thought it was relatively difficult. The one clue that left me blank was 16A (Answer: OFA). Researched it to no end until I finally Googled it.

From reading the previous comments, I must conclude that all are familiar with this term which I have never heard of. I wonder why!

Alex
11/26/2011, 7:42 PM

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

@Alex: think "friend of a friend"

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