Ancient Roman censor / TUE 1-29-11 / Bygone Tunisian VIPs / Degrees of separation in Hollywood parlor game

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Constructor: Aimee Lucido

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "MONEY, MONEY, MONEY" (59A: 1976 Abba song ... or a hint to the starts of 17-, 23-, 38- and 50-Across) — first words of theme answers are all slang for "money"

Word of the Day: CUNEIFORM (10D: Writing with wedges and such) —
  1. Wedge-shaped.
    1. Being a character or characters formed by the arrangement of small wedge-shaped elements and used in ancient Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian writing.
    2. Relating to, composed in, or using such characters.
  2. Anatomy. Of, relating to, or being a wedge-shaped bone or cartilage.
  1. Writing typified by the use of characters formed by the arrangement of small wedge-shaped elements.
  2. Anatomy. A wedge-shaped bone, especially one of three such bones in the tarsus of the foot.
[Latin cuneus, wedge + -FORM.]
• • •
A deeply unoriginal theme with interesting theme answers and slightly above-average overall fill. If the song were "MONEY, MONEY, MONEY, MONEY," I might have somewhat more admiration from it, since in that case it would at least be literally accurate. I am only too familiar with the game of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" and yet had no idea that the phrase "BACON NUMBER" was a thing, let alone a thing that people are supposed to know. CUNEIFORM, STRAGGLER (3D: One finishing a marathon in eight hours, say), and LABYRINTH (35D: Feature of the ancient palace of Minos at Knossos) give the puzzle needed oomph. I'm also a fan of BREAD CRUMB TRAIL. Decidedly not a fan of OMBRE (44A: Card game of Spanish origin), or any other card-game-only-heard-of-in-crosswords. Also not a fan of PANDAs being called BEARs, though obviously the term "PANDA BEAR" is very much in the language.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Like some stickers (SCRATCH-AND-SNIFF)
  • 23A: Enemy of Spider-Man (GREEN GOBLIN)
  • 38A: Navigation aid for Hansel and Gretel (BREAD CRUMB TRAIL)
  • 50A: Degrees of separation in a Hollywood parlor game (BACON NUMBER)

  • 67A: Bygone Tunisian V.I.P.'s (DEYS) — there's no reason for sickly crosswordese such as this to exist in such a small, easy-to-fill section of the puzzle. None. Horrid.
  • 18D: Often-impersonated diva (CHER) — interestingly vague clue. I haven't seen a good CHER impression since ... well, the '90s, i.e. the last time CHER was musically relevant.
  • 57D: Self-referential, in modern lingo (META) — I think I liked this clue the first time I saw it. I don't think I like it much any more. META is a prefix. It's definitely used in the way the clue describes, but ... it's a prefix. That's what it is.
  • 39D: Ancient Roman censor (CATO)CATO the Elder, to be exact. According to Wikipedia, during the Third Punic War, his motto became "Carthago delenda est" ("Carthage must be destroyed"). I'm thinking of adopting that as my motto as well.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Tobias Duncan 12:13 AM  

Exact same time as yesterday for me, or my Acrosslite timer is stuck.Honestly not sure which it is.
I live in an adobe house that I designed an built myself.In my part of the world its hard to imagine a better building material.My three foot thick walls absorb heat all day long from the passive solar gain and radiate it back to me all night.
It works so well that even though I am 15 min from a ski resort that opened this week ,I have not had to turn on my heat yet.
If you retire to the southwest,go adobe.

foodie 12:17 AM  

I'm of two minds on this one. SCRATCH AND SNIFF was a fun theme answer to encounter first, and following that with GREEN GOBLIN kept up the playfulness. BREAD CRUMB TRAIL still kept me guessing at something in the realm of kids' entertainment... May be this was all due to the memory trace of grand children's visit during Thanksgiving. Then BACON NUMBER seemed like a 90 degree turn. By then, I was suspecting the MONEY reveal and was disappointed. It felt like opening a beautifully wrapped present and finding-- a toaster.

I come from the neighborhood of the CUNEIFORM invention, so that was great to see. I only heard of DEY from crosswordese, but DIWAN, which is the group that assisted the DEY is the origin of DIVAN. I assume it is the same idea as someone being a CHAIR of a committee... in this case a group becomes the Sofa. Weird how human brains work similarly across cultures and centuries!

jae 12:31 AM  

Medium seems right. Pretty good grid even with the extra MONEY. Good motto Rex!

BACONNUMBER sounds like part of an IHOP order.

meta4 12:45 AM  

So meta appears in the puzzle again. Meta is what brought me into real time this past weekend. I had spent last week completing Patrick Berry’s amazing meta-puzzle series in syndication 5 weeks behind the times. On Saturday I was most perturbed to find another puzzle had been substituted for the expected finale to that series. But i held out hope that the blog community would come through, and sure enough -@pauer had posted a link for the folks in syndication land.
My husband also recently told me to treat myself to an online subscription as his birthday gift to me. Thankfully I didn’t do it right away or I’d have missed the whole -Julius Caesar –The Die is Cast series. But now here I am in the same time and space as the rest of you. I have been reading the blog for a couple of years, and feel thankful to be able to share the enthusiasm for crosswords –sometimes you just have to share but no one but another crossworder would understand.


retired_chemist 1:30 AM  

@ meta4 - welcome!

The puzzle - easy-medium I guess. A couple of uninteresting writeovers.

17A SCRATCH AND SNIFF is what our dogs do. 59A is what we spend on them. 50A would have them salivating.

Thanks, Ms. Lucido.

Clark 1:49 AM  

@meta4 -- Nice to have you aboard.

@fikink -- Yeah! You're back. Pretty soon a road trip would have been in order to try to locate you and see if you needed assistance of some kind!

Puzzle was ok for a Tuesday. I think Tuesday is the hardest day to make interesting. I agree with Rex that some of the long stuff today was very good.

acey culpa moneys 2:18 AM  

thought it was incredible that there are 3 15s and 2 11s, that is a very sophisticated grid!

LABRYINTH going down is really beautiful.

Disclaimer: I was semi-mentoring Aimee last Spring and suggested MONEYMONEYMONEY as a reveal, back then there was only 3 Moneys...
(Ive used it in one of my own upcoming puzzles, that now I fear will take years to appear!)

I shall take ACEY as a shout out, as well as the bleedover TOMB.
I feel proud to have our puzzles appear back to back.

i think this has a totally fresh vibe, what with BACON NUMBER, GREEN GOBLIN, IPHONE, and, yes, META!

STRAGGLER and CUNEIFORM seems really eye-catching...and I love AMOK in the lower corner, tho the word BONER, no matter HOW defined always makes me uncomfortable...
but in the hands of a young woman

(hmm, how to rephrase that!)

I am happy to see it used confidently!

AIMEE (which was used 3 times last week as a fill) is one of those super Brown kids who are up-and-coming, and I dare say with this, she has arrived. Brava!

chefwen 2:26 AM  

@meta4 - Welcome to the family.

@Tobias - Pictures please.

@fikink - Welcome home, we missed you.

I almost chipped a tooth on 10D, pretty crunchy puzzle.

After my SIL heard the story of our dog being rescued by Ben Stiller she called me and said "I've been thinking about degrees of separation and you were 1 degree away from sleeping with Ben Stiller" My husband replied "to hell with that, I was 1 degree away from sleeping with Christine Taylor" He's got a point there.

capcha - zocat I want one of those, sounds cool.

plumpy 2:36 AM  

Bacon numbers are nowhere near as cool a Bacon-Erdős numbers:

syndy 2:53 AM  

I think I like the TCBY balancing the BYOB, and Cato saying MEA CULPA.In the LABYRINTH is the writing on the wall in cuneiform? Who's baby was Bowie tossing around in that Movie?Thumbs up for Ms Lucido!

Rube 3:03 AM  

CUNEIFORMis the high point of this puzz. BACONNUMBER? Is this supposed to go down in xwordese as comparable to, say, AvogadrosNumber? I'm also having a hard time correlating CHER with diva.

My Blackberry is dying. I require a keyboard and am vacillating between another Verizon Blackberry or a Droid. Anybody have any helpful, non IPHONE, opinions?

Gareth Bain 4:05 AM  

Pandas are bears so why not call them panda bears?

Eejit 4:17 AM  

My subscription ended today and it made all my previous unfinished or yet to be started puzzles unavailable. Not that I wasn't going to to renew anyway, but still, I paid for those already didn't I? Harumph. Oh well, I bought another 6 months worth.

@Rube I've been pondering phones too, my iPhone is old and slow. To Android or not to Android? That is my question. They are more "open" and flexible, the iPhone more pasteurized and homogenized, but perhaps safer as a result. I went to the AT&T shop the other day and fooled around with various phones and the HTCs seem nicer than the Samsungs, less flimsy. Get one with LTE if you can.

The Windows Mango OS phones seem decent too, and Nokia has come out with a really nice one, but I don't know when it will be available here in the US. Worth a look. Good luck.

kirble 5:45 AM  

Rex, yes, META is traditionally a prefix, but in modern lingo its a word unto itself, e.g. "That's so meta."

dk 7:24 AM  

Thanks to 68A, 50A is the fill that shall not be chortled.

And, I am walking completely away from 17A.

We are off to a great start this week. Tuesday (the red headed step child of the puzzle week) comes off without a hitch. Rex the Sacker of Puzzles even struggled. Andrea's touch is evident as we have a solid theme with a SLEW of supporting fill (e.g., SAFE, OWE and SLEW as in a slew of cash).

I can see the King and I is the musical d'jour.

**** (4 Stars) Tuesday rises like a... Phoenix. Thank you Ms. Lucido.

Z 7:53 AM  

@dk- I am truly impressed. @acey culpa moneys puts BONER "in the hands of a young woman" and you are chortleless. Your will power is simply astounding. My inner Beavis won't shut up.

I like this puzzle. Lively long fill, the short fill is crisp, and the theme seems especially relevant with all the media focus on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

captcha - uless, 'tis the season to spend.

jberg 7:56 AM  

I didn't know the Abba song (don't know any of them, actually), but didn't need to - only paused a moment over whether it was money 3 times, or something like "Money, Honey, Money."

I enjoyed the time-spanning quality of this puzzle, from CUNEIFORM up through CATO, the DEY of Tunis (I loved that title when I first learned it in high school), on through OLDS up to IPHONE.

On the other hand:

-I was brought up with the deeply instilled belief that pandas were not bears. Apparently, I'm wrong - or rather, somewhere along the line somebody or other (probably the people who demoted Pluto) decreed that the Giant Panda is not a panda, but rather a bear. But that doesn't justify 32D - We don't say "Poodle Dog" and we shouldn't say "Panda Bear."

-ADOBE is a building material, not a building made out of bricks.

-Prefix or not, I've never seen META used to mean "self-referential." It means "on a higher or deeper level of abstraction"

It's been a long time, but I can remember that CARTHAGO DELENDA EST would mean "Carthage is destroyed." I think "must be" would be "esse" instead of est. Blame Wikipedia.

Boy, am I grouchy this morning. Have to get more sleep.

Glimmerglass 8:01 AM  

Wrote in MOD (as in "The Mod Squad"), looked at DEYS, and said, "That can't be right -- an arab chief is a bey." Wrote over B, then looked at "mob." I guess that could be a fashion, but not in the '60s. Finally settled on DEYS. OMBRE is the card game played in The Rape of the Lock. Okay by me. Decent Tuesday puzzle.

Z 8:11 AM  

@jberg - Not just wikipedia. Carthage must be destroyed

Also, Grizzly Bear, Brown Bear, Teddy Bear, so Panda Bear is okay IMHO.

evil doug 8:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 8:23 AM  

Deys: Partridge player Susan and others.

Re Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, this from the news last week: "A theory stemming from an experiment by social psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s claims every living person is connected to any other through only six friends. According to a recent study, Facebook reduces the six degrees of separation to only four, meaning the world’s largest social network makes the world even smaller (figuratively)."


SethG 8:30 AM  

I settled on BEYS.

Golfballman 8:35 AM  

A little help here please. How many states allow byob? GBM

OldCarFudd 9:03 AM  

The whole (not very long) time I was solving, I was telling myself: "What a neat puzzle for a Tuesday!" When I got done, I stll felt that way, so I'll say it again: "What a neat puzzle for a Tuesday!" Nice job, Aimee.

quilter1 9:04 AM  

I really liked it and found it easy. Good long answers and no boring short fill. Good job, Aimee.

Welcome, @meta4. I got my subscription for my birthday as well, after decades of syndication.

Pete 9:06 AM  

25 years or so ago I was sitting in my office doing the crossword puzzle when my office mate, reading the rest of my NYTimes, tossed over an article stating that Italy and Tunisia finally signed a treaty formally ending the Third Punic War.

Cato may now finally rest in peace.

Tita 9:21 AM  

My car was hired for a photoshoot in Soho yesterday, which kept me from blogoland. They never actually used it, but gave me the MONEYMONEYMONEY, though I think I need REHAB after the drive in and out - EGAD!

@foodie - So you are Urspreunglich, literally? German for 'original' - literally, sprung from Ur, where, coincidentally, CUNEIFORM is from... This was a gimme for me too - what a beautiful writing style it is!

@retired_Chemist - priceless!

@Rube - Android with Swype as the text entry system. You may forego the keyboard.

Liked the puzzle very much. Only dislike that I Cher with Rex was with her as target of impersonations. (groan)

retired_chemist 9:27 AM  

@ GBM - Texas does.

joho 9:30 AM  

I looked up BACONNUMBER and sure enough it does exist. But just for fun I changed it to BACONBURGER which created BONNY, ARTY, TONG, DAN and the dreaded ORT.

SCRATCHANDSNIFF was my favorite.

Thanks, Aimee, I look forward to more!

efrex 9:33 AM  

Hey, if Ms. Lucido can get famous enough, we'll finally have another Aimee besides Mann (whom I only know as the backup singer on Rush's "Time Stand Still"). Far as I'm concerned, she's well on her way with this one. Great long fill in every corner (I have no problem with PANDABEAR), and only a tiny handful of "ugh" moments (OMBRE being the biggest one for me). Finished with ONTHE/SET, which felt like a better-than-average self-referential clue. Zipped through even faster than yesterday's, and enjoyed greatly.

jesser 9:34 AM  

Amen to what @Tobias said about ADOBE houses. My sister is raising the fourth generation of our family in the ADOBE house my grandfather bought in 1925. It was built in 1888. It has the 3-foot ADOBE walls, and it holds heat and cool like a thermos. I remember my Dad telling a story about shopping around for insurance and being told by one company that they "didn't insure mud houses." My Dad guessed his mud house would outlast their urban corporate headquarters, but I don't know which company it was, so I can't verify.

Son Daniel is a compulsive SNIFFer. That boy takes a whiff of just about everything presented to him. Mystifies me. Had he grown up in the age of SCRATCH AND SNIFF ads and products, he'd have been decidedly in his element.

I have never heard of BACON as a metaphor for money. I still love BACON. In fact, Son Daniel says my house smells like BACON, because I cook it so frequently. I trust him on this.

Andrea can probably make a word for this: I had no writeovers, but I flew through this and didn't check crosses. It wasn't until I was reading the writeup that I looked back at the cleanly filled grid and realized that I threw in SLab at 37D and never confirmed 44A or 49A, resulting in a DNF. What a BONER!

mallsic! -- What most people are by now. -- jesser

Shamik 9:47 AM  

@jberg: Pandas became bears? I thought they were in the same family as raccoons...or something like that. The Pluto demoters must be at work, as you said.

Fine puzzle, Aimee...but going to call this an easy one for a Tuesday. Loved LABYRINTH even though I had a mine hiccup and couldn't remember how to spell it. Thank goodness for crosses!

John V 9:50 AM  

Fun puzzle, more medium Monday/easy Tuesday here.

Revealer for me was 38A. I had only had the U from 33D but looked at it and immediately knew it was BREADCRUMBTRAIL. First time a 15 fell that quickly. I have no idea why. Liked LABRYRINTH and CUEIFORM on a Tuesday. BREADCRUMBTRAIL leads to LABRYINTH: cool. Note that BONER intersects KERR but is a long way from CHER; what's up with that?

One write-over, 29A, had SAT initally, forgetting Rex' rule that one should read the **actual** clue, and not imagine HS where Col. goes. Read the clue; what a concept.

So, we META KERR once again this morning? Glad it was not a cur.

@rube and @tita, I'm on a Motorola Droid X as well, on Verizon, acquired in February. My text entry is Swift Key X. I absolutely love the phone. HUGE screen, fullGoogle/Gmail/Google Caledar/Google Contacts integration. The open platform was important to me. Heck, within a couple of weeks, I built and uploaded the Android app equivalent of "Hello World" to my phone and it just works. All dev tools are open source, Java, Android SDK, etc. I run DropBox on it, have all my files/word docs at my fingertips. Only thing not so good is posting to blogger; really clunky. Okay for reading RexWorld after finishing the puzzle. Highly recommended.

jackj 10:05 AM  

Aimee Lucido has taken that exemplar of woebegoneness, the Tuesday puzzle, and given it a healthy dose of respectability.

STRAGGLER stumbles in to help launch the puzzle’s other goodies and we rapidly are given delightful bits of Brown(ish) cluing like DEYS for Tunisian VIP’s rather than the expected “LA Law’s Susan and family” and META gets a lively contemporary spin as “Self referential, in modern lingo” or, as Urban dictionary notes, “Dude, that’s so meta”.

OMBRE might have been more fun as, maybe, “Cockney amigo?”, but then there's CUNEIFORM, that long lost descriptor of a Sumerian wedgie, to help wrap things up.

The only stumble seemed to be TOMB for “Tut’s resting place” (unless Aimee was hoping for the solver to think Tut must be in residence at the TATE) and BONER has some titillating iffyness surrounding it but, in truth, it only makes me think of modifying Ben Stein’s memorable Bueller bit to …BONER?…BONER?…BONER?

Good show, Amy!

chefbea 10:07 AM  

Love ABBA!! Thought the puzzle was great. Never heard of Bacon number.

@Meta4 welcome. Glad you joined us

jackj 10:07 AM  

Aimee!, Aimee!, Aimee!

Now, I've got it.

Lindsay 10:14 AM  

I'd call DEYS basic US history, rather than "sickly crosswordese." Back in the 1780's Thomas Jefferson declined to pay tribute to (bribe) the Dey of Algiers and unpleasantness ensued.

As for the theme, I'd put ante-diluvian slang for "money" in a time-out along with bowling and poker.

***etente --- electronic diplomacy

Karen M. 10:14 AM  

Can someone please explain the modern-lingo usage of the word "meta"? I don't know what this word means when it's not a prefix. How does one correctly use it in a sentence??? (Sorry if I'm not up on modern lingo)...

Bob Kerfuffle 10:20 AM  

@jesser - "I have never heard of BACON as a metaphor for money." -- Not even the expression, "Bring home the bacon"?

retired_chemist 10:22 AM  

@ Karen M - it IS a prefix IMO. But, in a sentence, "I never META man I didn't like." (Will Rogers)

Scusi - too good to pass up.

John V 10:24 AM  

@Karen M. I would not know how to use META in a self referential way. I use it in general to characterize an layer of abstraction, e.g. meta-information=information about information. There are "Urban Dictionary" definitions as to the self-referential usage, but that feels spurious to me. This sort of thing:

A term, especially in art, used to characterize something that is characteristically self-referential.

"So I just saw this film about these people making a movie, and the movie they were making was about the film industry..."
"Dude, that's so meta. Stop before my brain explodes."

Feels icky to me. YMMV.

Two Ponies 10:28 AM  

Great Tuesday.
Loved the vocabulary.
I know a Key West cab driver who took his dog with him to work. The dog's name was Boner. The tourists loved it.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

@Karen M - Some modern literature is referred to as Meta, where the narrator is aware of him/herself as the author.

Calvino's "If on a winter's night a traveler" opens as:
You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's novel, If on a winter's night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. ...

It's become something of a cliche, as Paul Auster seemingly hasn't writen an novel where he doesn't refer to himself, repeatedly. Meta in this case is more of a put-down than anything else.

hazel 10:41 AM  

@Lindsay - antediluvian - excellent word! Going to try to use that today.

@Karen M - re: my take on META, I think of it as self-referential in the sense of the sacred week of P berry's meta puzzles, which @meta4 (welcome!) talks about. Also @dk's post today, you can't really get it unless you knew why he was banned from chortling on the site. So his post is self-referential and also an abstraction, in a way, satisfying (at least in my mind) both the clue's meaning and @jberg's! QED

@ret chem - good one!!
@fikink - i too echo @clark's sentiments and welcome your return!!

As to the actually puzzle, not feeling it the way y'all are. Did like the theme, but the cluing on much of the rest of the fill was blah.. Didn't have the trademark @acme zing.

Anonymous again 10:41 AM  

@Karen M - Sorry, you asked for a sentence. Here you go:

That's just another teen-age Writers Workshop META POMO (post modern) self indulgent piece of crap.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Yes, we didn't always think of pandas as proper bears...but that debate is settled. If anyone needs to redirect their distaste, there is an easy target: koala bears.

John V 11:00 AM  

@Anonymous 10:41 That sentence is is a thing of beauty!

Stan 11:05 AM  

Besides the long downs, I liked the pairs ONTHE SET and ARM LIMB.

Maybe the fourth theme answer is 'extra' money.

Gill I. P. 11:53 AM  

I think @foodie said it best...."a beautifully wrapped toaster."
I did learn two new things today though. I never heard of BACON NUMBER and I didn't know self-referential means META... I've only heard it as a prefix like @Rex said but, Google gives a ton of definitions - all of which gave me a headache. In Spanish it means GOAL.
@Tobias Duncan @jesser re ADOBE: Not only do I love that word, but the architecture has always fascinated me. My great-uncle, Phil Zimmers, was an adobe architect that literaly built Twentynine Palms in California back in the early 1930's. He built a beautiful adobe home for my great-aunt Irene that, to this day, still stands in all its splendid glory. It's lovingly repatched with local mud and straw when needed. Gracias por las memorias.
@meta4...Welcome to the "I too got a NYT subscription for my birthday" crowd...

Lewis 12:20 PM  

A solid Tuesday puzzle, with some freshness, some crosswordese; overall, a satisfying solve. I enjoyed seeing CUNEIFORM almost as much as I enjoyed seeing GALUMPH yesterday. Keep it up, Aimee!

r.alphbunker 12:28 PM  

A word without an repeating letters is called an isogram. META is an isogram. So is isogram. Actually that should be So is "isogram" but if I can't leave out the quotes in a crossword puzzle blog then where can I? Unfortunately "pangram" is not a pangram. Our host is not impressed by pangram puzzles. My guess is that he would not be impressed by a puzzle that is an isogram either. What is the meta with him?

Actually Peter Gordon once published a puzzle that was an isogram. AFAIK Will Shortz never has.

DigitalDan 12:28 PM  

A bygone Tunisian potentate, at a carnival, stumbled from the carousel and was immediately eaten by the second of three hungry sheep.

A bystander admonished: Middle lamb, you've had a dizzy Bey.

And Rex think it's only crosswordese!

r.alphbunker 12:34 PM  

And since "acme" is an isogram, @acme could in principle create a self referential isogram puzzle. BTW, the Peter Gordon puzzle was self-referential.

archaeoprof 1:31 PM  

A so-so puzzle on a Tuesday. Who knew?

@JBerg: Latin update. "Carthago delenda est" means "Carthage must be destroyed." The "must" is in the gerund "delenda."

"Carthage is destroyed" would be "Carthago deleta est."

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

I'm running my first marathon on Sunday, and was demoralized by the straggler clue. Have no idea what my time will be- I only hope to be a finsher.

acme 1:35 PM  

maybe the disgruntled pandabear crowd can discuss why catfish aren't cats and spidermonkeys aren't spiders!

you have pased the test with flying colors...not that you need MY permission, but pls resume all impulses to chortle, otherwise you may implode!

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

Pandas belong to the family Uridae. They're bears. That's it. It doesn't matter if you're a fan of it or not. When you are not dealing with domesticated animals or breeds, and instead are talking about species and sub-species, then something like panda bear is perfectly proper. Superfluous maybe, but proper.

Arby 1:47 PM  

If we can say "Grizzly Bear" then certainly we can also say "Panda Bear".

CoffeeLvr 1:56 PM  

Love, love LABYRINTH; it all goes back to freshman English Lit. A close second in my affection for this grid is CUNEIFORM.

SCRATCH AND SNIFF was great, the missing MONEY in my ear worm not so much. Overall, a very fine Tuesday.

@BobKerfuffle, thanks for providing an example of BACON as money. I couldn't remember one, yet I suspected it was my faulty memory and not misuse.

John V 1:59 PM  

Anonymous 1:39 Re: Uridae rule: That might be a Bear Mizvah?

Book of Eli 2:13 PM  

One minute less than yesterday to the second... thanks for the 'Morphine,' Rex!

quilter1 2:52 PM  

@jesser & Tobias on our way to California with the grandgirl this summer we spent a day in Taos. She fell in love with adobe architecture. "Look at that one! Look at this one! I want to live in a house like that." And she's only 8. She didn't want to go home.

r.alphbunker 2:55 PM  

Panda Bears
What Jets fans do to Chicago's football team?

foodie 3:07 PM  

My mea CULPA is that I'm feeling guilty about my toaster analogy ...

I should not post after a long hard day, it makes me too critical. I should have thought backwards... If money is your theme, then these are really fun theme answers!

dk 3:08 PM  

Acme, no time to chortle I have to tuna fish.

Meta4, as you may see the bar is set pretty high for commenting. Welcome in from the cold.

Note: META POMOs use pen

Jimmy Legs 3:16 PM  

Absolutely love that the long downs each cross three theme answers, and are adjacent in pairs. As for Ombre, I understand not being a fan, but as was pointed out above, it's the game in The Rape of the Lock, so is decidedly not a just-in-crossword game, Rex's lack of knowledge notwithstanding. In fact I think the clue should have mentioned the poem instead, in which case everyone would have to admit it's fair game (pun not intended, but I'm not getting rid of it) for the Times, whether one knew it or not.

sanfranman59 3:35 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)

Tue 8:30, 8:52, 0.96, 44%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:35, 4:34, 1.00, 57%, Medium

Masked and Anonymous 4:53 PM  

@31: "Musically relevant"? You mean, like Justin Bieber? or like Elvis?
Yep, if only the ABBA song was called "Money, Money, Money, Bacon". Then it would have had a high BACON NUMBER (?), to boot.

Long fill was somethin' else in this puz. thUmbsUp, just for that (and 50-D), alone. Puz was easy enough, but wanted VINYL and MOVIE/SET right out of the chute, so had to back into that NW corner from elsewhere.

Surprised that young Aimee knew about 45's and LP's. Maybe that clue came from you-know-who-eltz.

Anonymous 5:08 PM  

Poor excuse for a puzzle. Miserable south and other random excuse for fill. Puke.

Z 5:27 PM  

Regarding META, I think the third definition in the Urban Dictionary is how I have heard it used most often by the under 25 crowd that I know:

"When you create new layers of abstraction between the thing or event, you are becoming more meta.

For example: A footnote that is needed to explain another footnote is meta.

The problem with being meta is that if you add sufficient layers of abstraction or complexity between the original event and the convenient abstractions you create to clarify or explain it, you eventually lose all connection to the original. Generally, you need no more than two or three levels in writing.

'Too much meta in your writing leads to meta fog.'

'In writing, this means your writing sucks.'

'Man, I need notes to explain the notes to my notes for my thesis!' - 'That's very meta. Perhaps you should rewrite it?'"

Gill I. P. 5:57 PM  

@foodie - I thought your analogy fit perfectly. Besides, if I got a Dualit toaster, I'd be happy as a clam.

mac 6:11 PM  

It felt like a good Tuesday to me. I loved Cuneiform, labyrinth, scratch and sniff (it's not Scratch 'n Sniff?) and straggler especially.

Nobody complaining about "tag"? All on facebook? Good for you.

fvigeland 6:12 PM  

Agree with @Z above completely, but then again I fall right into that under-25 crowd.

If anyone's seen Ocean's Twelve -- Matt Damon's character keeps commenting on how Julia Roberts' character, Tess, looks like a famous movie actress. Eventually, to get the heist done, they coerce Tess to pose as Julia Roberts to obtain a private viewing in the museum they're robbing. Near the end of the movie, the rival thief tells her, "You don't look like her at all." The last line of the acting credits is "and introducing Tess as Julia Roberts."

That's meta. Besides all my friends, I've had professors (and my parents) use the word in this regard many, many times.

william e emba 6:20 PM  

Aristotle's final book is known in Greek as τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσικά. It is a separate word in Greek, but also a prefix. It entered English as the prefix. I believe the rise of META as a standalone word in English comes from "metamathematics" and the geeks who were aware of (and sometimes even with understanding of) Gödel's self-referential proof of his incompleteness theorem, famously popularized thirty years ago in Hofstadter Gödel, Escher, Bach.

PS: there's a day late comment for yesterday's constructor.

The Bard 6:21 PM  

Julius Caesar > Act III, scene I

ANTONY: O mighty Caesar! dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
Shrunk to this little measure? Fare thee well.
I know not, gentlemen, what you intend,
Who else must be let blood, who else is rank:
If I myself, there is no hour so fit
As Caesar's death hour, nor no instrument
Of half that worth as those your swords, made rich
With the most noble blood of all this world.
I do beseech ye, if you bear me hard,
Now, whilst your purpled hands do reek and smoke,
Fulfil your pleasure. Live a thousand years,
I shall not find myself so apt to die:
No place will please me so, no mean of death,
As here by Caesar, and by you cut off,
The choice and master spirits of this age.

fikink 6:24 PM  

Can't add too much to all the wonderful comments on the puzzle but must poke my head in to say you good folks continue to delight and returning to Rexville was truly like coming home for Thanksgiving! I am so utterly grateful for all of you!

Chip Hilton 7:21 PM  

There's a guy on Jeopardy named Kiran Kedlaya who finished first runner-up in the national crossword championship in 2006. Anybody know him?

mac 7:30 PM  

@Chip Hilton: yes, it was mentioned by several people on facebook, including Joon. Those crossword people.....!

foodie 9:35 PM  

@Gill I. P. Thank you:) I've been meaning to ask you: Who's that really cute red headed baby in the picture? Adorable!

@Tita, I never knew I was Urspreunglich! That sounds amazing.
And what a cool word origin!

Meta4: What a wonderful name. And there was something META about your post.

sanfranman59 10:07 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 6:34, 6:50, 0.96, 34%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:32, 8:52, 0.96, 45%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:38, 3:40, 0.99, 50%, Medium
Tue 4:30, 4:34, 0.98, 51%, Medium

Anonymous 11:05 PM  

Not to be meta about it, but loved the puzzle and really enjoy the comments.

Gill I. P. 12:41 AM  

@foodie: Always a pleasure to assist a food lover.
That little red headed baby, who's giving the evil eye, is our granddaughter. She takes after me!

Chris 2:07 AM  

I'd like to say the following to all who've left comments here. I do the NYT crossword only infrequently (and, alas, I'm rarely able to solve the entire puzzle Wed. onward). I did the puzzle today then checked to see Rex Parker's comments (which I enjoy). For the first time ever, I looked at the readers' comments.

I just wanted to say how impressed I am by the comments here. Usually the comment sections found on the Internet are filled with angry screeds that are more often than not unintelligible, profane, mean, and pointless. However, the comments I've read here are SO CIVILIZED: almost uniformly intelligent, well-written, kind, witty, and quite often downright hilarious. What a great bunch of people you seem to be.

There. Just wanted to get that off my chest.


Tita 8:15 AM  

Why Chris, you DO know how to make a blog community blush...

Thanks for pointing that out - you are so right about the "usual" comment sections. I've taken that for granted around here.

Read both blog and comments daily - I now amaze myself that I can finish even Saturdays some weeks (w/out googling, of course), and it is directly related to learning fdrom this bright bunch.

mac 9:52 PM  

@Chris: welcome and thank you very much! You are so right about so many other sites. I am often afraid to even look at comments.
This is a wonderful blog, and we all learn every day and laugh a little.

Bottom line: puzzle people are so nice.

download unikey 10:06 PM  

@Chip Hilton: oh yeah, it was mentioned by several people on facebook, including Joon. Those crossword people.....!
Best wish for you, ok?

Red Valerian 2:54 PM  

Greetings from the time warp.

I thought this an excellent puzzle--fun to learn what a Bacon Number is! (I suppose I should be embarrassed for not knowing in the first place.) I think I've seen TCBY, but only in crosswords. Looked it up after the fact, and it seems they are here in Canada, too.

In this morning's Vancouver Sun, Andrew Coyne has his inaugural (in syndication--he's been a columnist at the G&M and NP) column. It's about writing columns. Last line of second to last paragraph: "I was going to make the contrarian case against contrarianism here, but things have got meta enough as it is."

Ditto to comments above about loving the blog and the comments. But what, I ask you (except for @Gill I.P. and @foodie, who clearly don't share the view), is wrong with red-headed children??!?

Gill I. P. 4:27 PM  

@Red V: Where have you been hiding?
Good to hear you're alive and well albeit 5 weeks in netherland with @Diri et al.
Red's rule!

Anonymous 5:33 PM  

Spacecraft here. One contribution and I'll be done: I never met a mucil I didn't like. Now to puzz.
I followed the CUNEIFORM LABYRINTH down the BREADCRUMBTRAIL (alas, no reception on the IPHONE), and found..
well, you know. Marvelous words, not that terrible fillers (just some overworked ones like TCBY, AMOK and ONEA--but at least that last was not clued for spelling, as "Unusual feature of Elvis' middle name"--along with the ubiquitous STLO), and an imaginatively treated theme. Is this a new name in constructors? I've not seen Ms. Lucido's name before. If this is a first effort, very well done!

tiotic: talk about your LOUD Christmas neckwear!

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