Cousin of kvass / SAT 10-29-11 / Part of Buchanan High faculty / Wang Lung's wife / Attachable bulletin / Mottke Thief novelist 1935 / Title character is Manrico / Mushroom supporter

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Constructor: Barry C. Silk

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: xerostomia (20A: Aid in relieving xerostomia => GUM) —
Xerostomia [..] is the medical term for the subjective complaint of dry mouth due to a lack of saliva. Xerostomia is sometimes colloquially called pasties, cottonmouth, drooth, or doughmouth. Several diseases, treatments, and medications can cause xerostomia. It can also be exacerbated by smoking or drinking alcohol. (wikipedia)
• • •

Sometimes a guy just has to sleep (he says, as he begins typing his write-up at a much-later-than-usual 8:15 a.m.).

In terms of both quality of grid and cleverness of cluing, this is one of my favorite Barry Silk puzzles. I especially love the opening and closing Acrosses — thematically related and symmetrical. It's easy to love a puzzle when you get 1A: Coffee shop, often (WIFI HOT SPOT) instantly, and with no crosses in place. All those Downs (11 of 'em!) had their first letters in place right from the very beginning, which is like being jet-propelled into the grid (always helpful on a Saturday). And OK, so there were absurd obscure pop culture things like TEENA (11D: Mrs. Mulder on "The X-Files") and HONG (5D: "Wayne's World 2" actor James) and The NEW BEATS (24D: Pop trio with the 1964 hit "Bread and Butter," with "the") (none of which I'd heard of). In my mind, they were all made up for by MR. KOTTER, who is mainstream pop culture of the highest order and looks fantastic in the grid (36A: Part of the Buchanan High faculty). Also, he is culturally significant for popularizing the JEWFRO (a word that was in the NYT crossword puzzle once, so please, no offended letters).

[Dear lord, his voice ... I thought this was sung by a woman]

I have very little time left before this needs to be posted, so I'm going straight to Bullets—

  • 16A: Pianist Stein (IRA) — I'm surprised by how many things in this puzzle I just didn't know, given that I was able to finish it quickly, happily, with little struggle, in better-than-average time. Probably helps that my crossword literature muscle is pretty strong. ASCH and OLAN didn't even slow me down (53A: "Mottke the Thief" novelist, 1935 + 57D: Wang Lung's wife, in literature).
  • 60A: British big shot (NOB) — is this short of NABOB? They seem to mean the same thing.
  • 62A: Its title character is Manrico ("IL TROVATORE") — speaking of crossword muscle—I know very little about opera, but somehow this Verdi opera has come before my eyes enough times that I was able to piece it together from crosses without much trouble at all. 

  • 3D: Base in Anne Arundel County: Abbr. (FT. MEADE) — "FT" part was easy. After that, I just used crosses. Considered MEYER ... MEIER? ... MYERS?
  • 8D: Subj. of the Privacy Act of 1974 (SSN) — No idea, but SSN shows up in puzzles a lot, so why not?
  • 26D: Aircraft propellers without moving parts (RAMJETS) — yet another word I learned from crosswords.
  • 30D: Cake makeup for a feeder (SUET) — if it's in cake form or part of a feeder, it's probably SUET, a common crossword word.
  • 52D: Mushroom supporter (STIPE) — I weirdly struggle to come up with this. "It's not STEM but it kinda sounds like STEM ... STINT ... STAVE ...."
  • 63D: Italian TV channel (TRE) — a recycled clue, and a bad one. It's Italian for "three"—just clue it that way. Very few people in the U.S. watch *$&%ing Italian TV.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jberg 9:13 AM  

Wow, I got here first? Hard to believe, as this one was slow for me. I kept thinking it was impossibly hard, then something would pop into my mind - EARLY WARNING was the first - and a whole corner woulds suddenly appear in all its beauty. SW was the hardest - actually thought of HYDROXYl (with much aid from my partner the biochemist), but it seems strange without the final l. I'm told that's OK, though.

@Rex, it was that 1974 law that said they can't use your SSN on your driver's license, etc. And I think nabob has American Indian origins - but then, maybe it's East Indian. I always thought NOBS were the folks with big heads, but what do I know?

I wanted ST Louis instead of King STEPHEN, even though I've read all those novels about the Welsh detective-monk set during that particular civil war. Also wanted BORA bora instead of pago PAGO.

Brilliant juxtaposition of the NEW BEATS with Renee Fleming!

Tobias Duncan 9:25 AM  

@jberg, you are thinking of Knobheads...I love the Ricky Gervais show!

Rex if you need to sleep in on a Saturday once in a while,I think we all understand.Dont worry about your self imposed deadline, we surely can wait,there is no such thing as a crossword emergency.

Watched a whole bunch of NEWBEATS last night and they gave me nightmares, jesus the heads on those guys, they look like extras from "Mars Attacks".

I have a friend that gets paid to make RAMJET sculptures for Burning Man, they are very very loud, everyone has to wear earplugs to enjoy her art.

foodie 9:26 AM  


Is this a record for words that start with O?

Fun puzzle! Just right for a Saturday. I too liked the first and last answer. I learned about the outcome of the World Series from an ENEWS Blurb...

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

Airier is a bit ugly. Barry in most cases the rod holds the reel that holds the line. Really liked 47A, have seen several of these tyra clues lately. GBM

Tptsteve 9:56 AM  

Still waiting for Sweathog in a puzzle.

@tobiasduncan Best observation of the year. I almost spit my coffee when I read about the big heads

Bob Kerfuffle 10:04 AM  

I'm confused!

Until I read @jberg's comment, I assumed 40 D, King with revolting subjects, referred to Stephen King, who subjects include pets returning from the grave, murderous clowns, etc, etc. But a quick google shows there was a Welsh King Stephen with subjects who revolted!

Which was Barry Silk's intention?

Doris 10:20 AM  

Well, yes, in the video Hvorostovky and Fleming are singing the Count/Leonora duet (one of my favorite sections) from "Il trovatore," but (a) Manrico is nowhere to be found in this scene and (b) for people who don't know the opera at all, this is a concert performance and not a staging, so none of the actual look of the opera is presented. For Manrico himself, google the aria "Di quella pira," a touchstone and make-or-break piece for spinto tenors. Maybe there's an old Franco Corelli performance on YouTube.

GLR 10:24 AM  

Liked the top 2/3 of the puzzle a lot, but struggled with the bottom 1/3 and, ultimately, did not finish. Was not familiar with IL TROVATORE, and just couldn't make things out in the southwest corner.

Didn't care for 68A - is NYS a common abbreviation for New York State?

I read the clue for 49D as calling for a verb form answer, but have consulted two on-line and two dead tree dictionaries, and haven't found SCROD as a verb.

archaeoprof 10:41 AM  

What @Rex said!

The kids in his class always pronounced MRKOTTER with the accent on the final syllable.

Favorite clue: 25A. My older German friends confide that when they go shopping, they still mentally convert prices in euros back to marks.

mitchs 10:53 AM  

What GLR said said.

webster 10:58 AM  

probably from British dialect (Cornwall) scrawed, past participle of scraw, scrawl to split, salt, and lightly dry (young fish)
First Known Use: 1841

Rex Parker 11:08 AM  

It's the author STEPHEN King.

Ruth 11:14 AM  

I remember that "Bread and Butter" song from when it was current, but I always thought it was sung by an African-American man. I think a black guy could get away with this better.
Loved the quick shot of the totally-thrilled-and-into-it (not) audience.

joho 11:26 AM  

This was nowhere near Easy-Medium for me but rather slow going. At first I was totally stymied but just kept at it until it was done, correctly!

Because this was such a struggle for me, ending in success was all that much sweeter.

The SW was the last to fall and it was also the most fun when I figured it had to be STEPHEN King.

Thank you, Barry Silk, for a perfect Saturday puzzle!

quilter1 11:30 AM  

DNF as I had origins instead of ORIENTS and so could not suss out HYDROXY. Was there not an Oreo copy cat cookie called Hydrox?

I enjoyed the puzzle anyway, always enjoy Barry Silk. Liked AIOLI, BEEF JERKY, STEPHEN King, and EARLY WARNING. Have a great weekend, folks.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Uncle Google came to town/Riding on a monkey/Stuck bad weather in his cap/and called it mascarpone.

Couldn't have done it without ya, Unc!

prable--a short-form parable

David L 11:33 AM  

Medium-hard for me -- too many names I didn't know, including "mainstream pop culture" icon Mr. Kotter. (I plead ignorance on account of being an immigrant to these fair shores. Catching up on old TV shows was not part of the citizenship process).

The HYDROXY clue doesn't seem right to me. Citric and lactic acids both have hydroxyl groups in them (formal names 2-hydroxypropane 1,2,3-tricarboxylic acid and 2-hydroxypropanoic acid, since you asked), but the clue only seems to work if hydroxy is an adjective, which it isn't, as far as I know.

jae 11:41 AM  

My experience was closer to joho's than Rex's. WIFI.. took a while and the rest needed some effort so, med.-challenging for me. Which, is fine for a Sat. This is how I like them. Oddly, FTMEADE was a gimme. But, I went back and forth on the DC area direction clue. It had to be ENE or NNE and I went with the former which made EARLYWARNING elusive. Anyway, finally a Sat. with some teeth (for me at least for me). Thanks Barry!

JaxInL.A. 12:16 PM  

Mr. Silk and I do not share a wavelength. Too bad, since I appreciate his puzzles as well-made, but I don't think I've been able to finish one yet. Got through most of it with some help from Dr. Google, but ultimately it defeated me in the SW. Stupid, too, because it's three-letter words. But I was never gonna get the STEPHEN King reference. I don't think of his subjects as revolting, but horrifying which is different. Ah, well, had a very nice time with the L.A. Times puzzle.

mac 12:20 PM  

This puzzle was probably a medium Saturday level for me, but the ESE gave me some trouble. I was afraid the Buchanan Highschool faculty member had something to do with Glee, which I have only watched once.

I got Fr. Meade from the bottom up, which made it easier, I think. Do so (silly as it is) at 59D slowed me down a lot. Is there a problem with "land" above the Rio Norte and the answer being Spanish?

Had a last visit to Amsterdam this afternoon and have packed my suitcase. Back to snowy NY and CT!

syndy 12:40 PM  

Wow I also thought King STEPHEN was brother Cadfael's monarch during who's reign apparently God and all the saint's slept.(I bet barry was playing us)This is what a saturday should be-scary but doable.I broke out in the middle than spread out slowly like an ink stain into surrounding squares.We had seen the mushroom thingy before-so I knew that I didn't know it.My favorite thing is the PIGIRON?PIGOUT/IRONOUT but I feel cheated 'cuz #31 owes us some Cagney

chefbea 1:22 PM  

Haven't had time to finish the puzzle or read all the comments. Up late again watching the Cards take the world series...gotta find out why its called that as per @mac.

Lots of snow in Ct to welcome @Mac back home.

Martin 1:23 PM  

@David L,

"Hydroxy" is only an adjective.

Lactic acid, for example, is properly called 2-Hydroxypropanoic acid. It is an alpha hydroxy acid.

David 1:30 PM  

Zoomed through the top half, even with ASA instead of ISA for a long while (not simile, metaphor!). Got MRKOTTER very early with no crosses, which opened up the middle very nicely, ultimately resulting in BEEFJERKY, which slowly revealed the much tougher South.

IL TROVATORE took forever, I've seen it in print on rare occasion but, like Rex, know little to zippo about opera. Also took a while to figure out STEPHEN King, which then provided the balance of the SW.

Really liked all 11 letter answers in the NW, as well as DIRTYRAT - I had the IRT early on and just sat there, stumped. Thank goodness for BEEFJERKY, which gave me the Y. Interesting symmetry (?) in PIGS/IRON OUT, as they are reversible terms (Iron Pigs is a Black Sabbath album, I believe) and I think Pig Iron was part of an Iron theme a few months back.

ChemProf 1:38 PM  

@David L:
What Martin said. Pretty common to informally distinguish molecules by adding an adjective that refers to a secondary feature. Calling something a hydroxy acid wouldn't be that unusual. Same idea as amino acid.
I, of course, missed the word 'like' and was thus not looking for adjectives... :)

jackj 2:10 PM  

Couldn't figure out what Barry's anchor entry was, since nothing seemed particularly special, except for WIFIHOTSPOT, oh, and ICONCUR and, yes, maybe, SHOETREE and PIGSOUT, oh, yeah, and then there's DIRTYRAT, NUDES, BEEFJERKY, TEAMUP and...aargh!, forget what I said at the start.

This was a super Silk special!

Filled in pretty easily until I over thought the lower left because I was sure that no one would initialize New York, the state, as NYS. (Touche' Barry and/or Will).

This has been a banner weekend for we themeless puzzle lovers!

Lewis 2:29 PM  

@evil -- is this what you were talking about last Saturday, what a Saturday puzzle should be?

I'm thrilled to have gotten this in under an hour, not easy for me, but learned a lot, needed to Google. A fair amount of aha's. I do like that character Ado Annie from Oklahoma. I don't know if she appears often in crosswords; don't remember seeing her before.

evil doug 2:44 PM  

"@evil -- is this what you were talking about last Saturday, what a Saturday puzzle should be?"

Yep. Last week was a straightforward march from north to south, no real hangups, no need to jump around looking for a foothold, just a knife through butter. Today required strategy, tactical flexibility, giving up on suspected answers that I'd fallen in love with, a well-spent 90 minutes sipping coffee at Starbucks and chatting with the regulars there.

I like my beef jerky with il provolone.


600 3:26 PM  

@quilter 1--I don't know if it was a copy cat or not, but I do remember Hydrox cookies. I liked them better than Oreos. I actually went looking for them recently and was disappointed to realize they've disappeared.

I liked the clue for AIRIER; the answer fell in quite easily for me, but unlike Rex, I had to fight for WIFI HOTSPOT. Perhaps living in the mountains miles and miles from any coffee shops hindered me there.

I liked the puzzle. Found it a good challenge, but I never would have figured out SCRODS without the D from PARADE ROUTE. It was a little harder than medium for me, at least if my time is any indication.

One problem: I cannot figure out why "scored very quickly" is PRESTO. I mean, obviously I know the meaning of PRESTO is to do something quickly. But scored? Am I missing something?

Last point: I was busy, busy, busy yesterday, and didn't get to the puzzle until this morning. I hated not being able to get to the blog while it was still in motion. I wanted to say how much I appreciated Rex's poem posting, and how rare it is for him to post something like that (as opposed to a video.) I wanted to thank him for the Tracey Ullman video, which led me to spend way too much time on youtube watching more of her stuff.

I also wanted to comment on MO7's entry: "My skill level has improved considerably. The downside is that my enjoyment level is down considerably as a result. Knowing the answer is not very enjoyable. Learning new words, things, places, names, and ideas (and the mental machinations involved) is the real enjoyment. The comments and observations on this blog help make up for that. Thanks to Rex and all the people who post here for making this such an enjoyable place to visit.." I still feel like a rookie (been doing the puzzle maybe two years, commenting here way less time than that) and I completely agree--except maybe my enjoyment isn't down "considerably." Just a bit. Anyway, I really appreciate this blog.

Okay, this is the second time in a couple of weeks I've commented on something a day late. I hereby resolve not to do that again--at least not for a long, long time.

GLR 3:35 PM  

@600 - re: PRESTO - think of a musical score. Presto is the term used to indicate the music is to be played quickly.

glenbee 3:40 PM  

British big shots are the nobility or the nobles - hence "nob". Don't you Yanks know anything?

Sparky 3:49 PM  

Thought I had finished this completely last night around 2 a.m. Much joy. Today I see I left the G out of GUM/HONG. Phooey. BRAILLE happy surprise; PBS first entry. 1A took the longest. @GLR. I use NYS since the state is my ex employer and it is the preface to health plan and such.

Very enjoyable Saturday. Thanks Barry Silk.

@Lewis. Ado Annie used to show up often. Not so much lately. @Mac. Welcome back. Hope you had a good flight.

600 4:05 PM  

Thanks, @GLR. As usual when I finally see the reasoning, I now feel kinda dumb. I thought of scoring in basketball, football, etc., even thought of scoring meat with a knife. Never thought of music. Hanging my head in shame.

foodie 4:14 PM  

Within a few days of starting college, in an American university, I heard someone say:" that snob! " I thought he was saying : that's NOB...not that I knew what NOB meant either. It just sounded snooty.... Somehow, this error helped me today!

Re Hydroxy, where's Retired Chemist? I also miss some of the other old timers... Beyond Ulrich, who made a brief, miraculous appearance last week, Phillysolver, Edith B, Bill from NJ and Fikink. I hope they're all doing well...

CoffeeLvr 4:29 PM  

Too bad the slimy vegetable isn't spelled OKRe, then there would be a terrific word ladder in place in the middle: OGRE, OKRe, OKIE.

I did well for a Saturday, but not perfectly. HYDROse looked okay to me. Also had one letter wrong in the opera. And I was solving while watching the end of the World Series (Yea! Cardinals!) and cheated very early by using the Guide on the TV to look up PBS.

Clark 4:50 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clark 4:53 PM  

I got done in by too much stuff I had no clue about. Couldn't tell my ASCH from my NOB. Rats.

mac 5:06 PM  

@Clark: until I enlarged it I thought you were spoofing all the animal lovers and showing a picture of a lion! This little slim dog is beautiful!

captcha: cupett! good name for it.

Clark 6:05 PM  

@mac -- That is Roxie. She's a HON. One-fifth of our household if you count the people; three if you don't. (I got a new phone the other day which makes posting pictures easy.)

chefbea 6:22 PM  

@Foodie I think we should have a reunion. All the rexites who we haven't seen in a while have to attend. We foodies will provide the food!!!

Chip Hilton 6:41 PM  

ICONCUR with most everyone. This was a solid Saturday puzzle. Great way to pass the time as the creaking trees sagged under the weight of this awful CT snow. The winds aren't here yet - could be a fearful night. After 6+ powerless days after Irene, who needs this?

sanfranman59 6:48 PM  

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 6:21, 6:51, 0.93, 23%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:08, 8:52, 0.80, 3%, Easy (4th lowest median solve time of 123 Tuesdays)
Wed 10:10, 11:49, 0.86, 21%, Easy-Medium
Thu 12:01, 19:04, 0.63, 2%, Easy (2nd lowest median solve time of 124 Thursdays)
Fri 20:10, 25:40, 0.79, 14%, Easy
Sat 29:07, 30:02, 0.97, 46%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:35, 3:40, 0.98, 44%, Medium
Tue 3:55, 4:34, 0.86, 7%, Easy (9th lowest median solve time of 123 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:29, 5:51, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium
Thu 6:21, 9:19, 0.68, 4%, Easy (5th lowest median solve time of 124 Thursdays)
Fri 9:36, 12:41, 0.76, 13%, Easy
Sat 17:02, 17:08, 0.99, 51%, Medium

Anonymous 7:45 PM  

I got this, but it was hardly easy-medium for me (even for a Saturday). Can one person be "part" of a faculty? Or is this "part" as in a TV part?

Hydroxy is news to me.

favorite answer wifi hot spot

michael 7:46 PM  

not that it matters, but I am "anonymous" above.

Anonymous 8:35 PM  

Ditto on this being more "medium" than "easy".

And ditto on the comments about The NewBeats. I'm still not convinced that the falsetto was the product of that very white male with the pompadour!

Michaela 10:26 PM  

Mental image for never forgetting STIPE again: Michael Stipe sitting on a mushroom.

shrub5 11:24 PM  

@GLR: thanks for the PRESTO clarification.

@mac: have a safe arrival; sorry about the snowy greeting.

@Clark: Roxie is a cutie.

Finished puzzle except for a bit of the SW. Had to peek here to see TYRA, then finished 'er off. Eek, one error -- spelled it IL TRaVATORE/SCRaDS.

Initial misadventures:
1A greasy spoon before WIFI HOTSPOT
12D canyons before PIGS OUT

Anonymous 1:33 AM  

I just typed my comment. I worked out what I wantd to say and typed it. Now I'm getting a capcha and a blank field. Are you saying I now have to type it again? What crap software is this?

DianaLee 2:56 PM  

Help. 11D, Mrs. Mulder on the X-Files -- TEENA is driving nuts. I read the whole Wiki entry on the X-Files and could find no reference either to a Mrs. Mulder nor to a Teena. Can any one explain?

X-Files Wiki 3:31 PM  

X-Files Wiki

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Teena Mulder
Teena Mulder
ColonistAdded by Colonist

Elizabeth "Teena" Kuipers Mulder was the wife of State Department official William Mulder and mother to Fox and Samantha Mulder.

Biography Edit

Elizabeth Kuipers was born in 1941 Ohio (TXF: "Paper Clip"), and later married Bill Mulder. Around 1961, Teena Mulder had a brief affair with the Cigarette Smoking Man, a friend of Bill's. In 1965, she gave birth to Samantha Mulder. In November 1973, Samantha was abducted from the family home in Chilmark, Massachusetts, ultimately leading to her divorce. Teena likely knew more about Samantha's abduction and the Syndicate than she ever let on, but kept this information to herself, either to protect her son, or because it was too painful for her to bring up.

In 1996, she suffered a stroke. Thanks to a quick emergency call from X, paramedics were able to save her life, but she remained in a coma ("Talitha Cumi"). The CSM later convinced a bounty hunter to heal her. ("Herrenvolk")

Years later in 2000, Teena committed suicide after learning that she was terminally ill. Before her death, she subtly requested that Fox accept that Samantha was gone and move on with his life. ("Sein Und Zeit")

Red Valerian 12:33 PM  

Greetings from syndi-land. @600--why don't you be quite a bit more than a day late, and join us out here in the time warp?

I enjoyed the puzzle, but DNF on account of two errors. Not knowing what xerostomia is (in clue for 20A), and having, um, managed to avoid WWII (clue for 5D), I guessed tUM, which gave me HONt. I thought the singular of "tums" looked a little odd, and that Hont was a slightly strange name...

I also messed up my operas, and don't know nothin' about cooking fish, so had ILTRaVATORE (riffing on La Traviata) and SCRaDS at 62A and 49D. (This was after finally realizing that STalk could not be the mushroom supporter in question.)

Very enjoyable puzzle. I loved the 25D clue (what has made some people miss the mark?)

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

Spacecraft here--and I'm blown away by Rex's (or anyone's) instant get of 1a. How can you look at "coffee shop, often" and lay down WIFIHOTSPOT with any confidence? Even if you assume (and you know too well what Will can do to assumers!) the WiFi connection, why can't it be WIFIHANGOUT, for instance? I just don't know how you come up with that answer right away and know you're right.
But I dare say that even if I'd flown with that, I still would have had to wear out my Google link on this one--especially with those clues doing everything they can to lead the solver astray. Come on, NYS for "Clinton was its first gov..."?? Deliberately using a family in modern day news to reference an 18th-century guy who happened to have the same name--and then on top of it, use an abbreviation that is NEVER used?
Ah, but that's only the beginning. ACTSONESAGE is only true for "stops being infantile" if the actor in question is NOT an infant. "Band" for TEAMUP? I think you would have to say "band together" for that one; just plain "band" is not enough. There are at least 27 things "band" can mean.
I think the puzzle itself is a good one; I don't mind Googling on a Friday or Saturday. That's how you learn stuff. Of course, my start was pure dynamite: my favorite author crossing one of my favorite women. A weird wrinkle occurred when I was filling in the east central section: the first four letters I filled in for 22d were ___TYRA_!
NOB (cf. the American "SNOB") is indeed a "big shot" in Britain. In cribbage the term "his nobs" is used for the jack of the upcard suit. We know it better as "his nibs."
Today was spoiled by the too-deflective cluing. Guys, we're not ALL Mensa!

inginer: y'all know that'n: he's the feller that runs the trine.

Dirigonzo 9:50 PM  

Just dropping by to check in on RPDTNYTCP on this date in 2006:
- "Solving time: 36:41 (applet)"
- "OK, to a certain brand of mainstream nerd (not this brand, but a brand), that first one is a gimme . With that spelling, I'm surprised I haven't seen Counselor TROI more."
- "Once I figured out that 43A: Like some penguin feet was ORANGE (an answer that makes me go "ewwww" for some reason - would have liked "Blogger Reynaldo's handle" better) and guessed that Actor Charleson of "Chariots of Fire" was IAN ("three letters, probably British ... IAN. Why not?"), then the NE Downs eventually fell."
- "These little answers cross at the "A," which was the Very Last Letter I (desperately) entered in the grid. I have never heard of either term. Need a vowel. CAPO is something I've heard of, usually in relation to whacking people, not playing guitar, but when in doubt, enter something that you at least know is an actual word. MARE also is a word I know, though in relation to horses, not the moon."
- "I'll take "CHiPs" over "CSI" or "Law & Order" any day of the week. Fast, fun, cheesy, sunny - everything modern crime dramas are not, and without the hicksville heavy-handed morality and round-house kickery of "Walker, Texas Ranger." ESTRADA was having a good time, and you could come along for the ride. Or not. He didn't care. He seemed to understand his pop culture niche, and he embraced it rather than trying to escape it."
- "Side note: I read the first fistful of pages of that Eats, Shoots & Leaves book and immediately got that violent feeling that sometimes comes over me when I see pedantic people on their haughty high-horses. I'm all for modeling correct usage, but to advocate that people become "sticklers" and actually start correcting people, people they don't even know ... if you try that bull@#$@ out in the real world and get the @#$#@ kicked out of you, do not come crying to me because I will not care."
- There were 11 comments, 3 of them from @PG (then new to the blog) who had this to say: "I agree with you generally though - most nitpickers are merely 'looking' for something to carp about."

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