Vega's constellation / TUE 11-1-11 / Nutlike Chinese fruit / Suffix with Kafka or Zola / Weathercaster's pressure line /

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Constructor: Kristian House

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: SPLIT / HAIRS (23A: With 51-Across, nitpick ... or a hint to 17-, 37- and 60-Across) — three theme answers whose first and last letters spell out HAIR

Word of the Day: CAVA (19A: Spanish sparkling wine) —
Cava [...] is a Spanish sparkling wine of Denominación de Origen (DO) status, most of which is produced in Catalonia. It may be white or rosé. The macabeu, parellada and xarel·lo are the most popular and traditional grape varieties for producing cava. Only wines produced in the traditional method (méthode champenoise) may be labelled cavas, those produced by other processes may only be called vinos espumosos (sparkling wines). About 95% of all cava is produced in the Penedès area in Catalonia, with the village of Sant Sadurní d'Anoia being home to many of Spain's largest production houses. The two major producers are Codorníu and Freixenet. [...] The word cava means "cave, cellar" in both Catalan and Spanish. Caves were used in the early days of cava production for the preservation or aging of wine. Catalan winemakers officially adopted the term in 1970 to distinguish their product from French champagne. (wikipedia)
• • •

I was sluggish on this one, for reasons I don't quite understand, though I do recall staring at S-L-T and thinking "that can't be part of the theme ... what the hell word is that, SALUT!?" Maybe one too many Halloween candies... Didn't care much for the theme. The only interesting theme answer is HARLEM BOYS CHOIR. If you want to know why pangrams suck, check out the SW corner of this puzzle. That "Q" is awkwardly shoehorned in there, with resulting ugliness (e.g. both "Q" "words," ECRUS). ARGUE beats ESQUE (48A: Suffix with Kafka or Zola). By a million country miles. And if that doesn't work, pull out SULTAN. Whatever. There's just no reason for that "Q" to be there. Makes puzzle uglier than it could've been otherwise.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Do-it-yourselfer's activity (HOME REPAIR)
  • 37A: New York singing group that last performed in 2007 (HARLEM BOYS CHOIR)
  • 60A: Forum cheer ("HAIL, CAESAR!")
The one somewhat interesting feature of this theme is that HAIR gets SPLIT in a different place in each theme answer: after the H, then after the HA, then after the HAI.

  • 31A: Altogether it's worth the most bonus troops in Risk (ASIA) — blah blah blah Risk, four letters, done. 
  • 46D: Nutlike Chinese fruit (LITCHEE) — I think there are several acceptable spellings of LITCHEE, which is one reason I'm never too thrilled to see it in crosswords. 
  • 9D: Vega's constellation (LYRA) — Think I've seen it once before. Most of what I know about constellations, I know from crosswords. LYRICA is a prescription treatment for fibromyalgia. Haven't seen that in the grid yet.
  • 35D: Charlie Brown toy that's often "eaten" by a tree (KITE) — Wish ROCK were in the puzzle—would make for a more timely crossword clue, i.e. "I got a ___!" (repeated trick-or-treating exclamation from Charlie Brown)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Gill I. P. 12:23 AM  

Oh, I don't know, I liked this puzzle. I really liked the succession of the way HAIR was spelled out in the theme answers:
This puzzle couldn't have been easy to construct as well as keep it at a Tuesday(ish) level. I also didn't think the pangram was too forced. We've seen QANDA lots of times as well as ESQUE. They seem proper for the day of the week.
There are some fun words; all gettable: EPOXY, CAVA, RAHMA, COALESCE.
How many variations of a words do we get in this big bad world? What happened to lychee or litchi? Is this another spelling rule we have to memorize? Also,does anyone, anywhere, still wear hosiery?
Put me in the liked it camp....
Following up on Halloween...
My husband, who's dressed like a bum and passing out the goodies, opened the door to two of the cutest kids on the block. The seven year old was dressed as Maggie Thatcher - beautifully coifed in a life-like bouffant wig, sensible shoes,huge white pearls and her mom's blue (very old) suit. her older sister opted for Lady Gaga. We gave them lots of Milky Way's.
Cheers everyone.

foodie 12:24 AM  

At first, I shared some of Rex's ambivalence about the theme, but it's been growing on me. I too noticed the marching of the HAIR splitting--which is cool. I also tried to think of expressions that would fit the theme and it seems like there should be a lot, but I can't come up with any great ones. So, in the end, I feel this was a pretty creative literal take on a common expression. I just wish it had more of a gestalt... you know, stuff about hairdos elsewhere in the fill-- an AFRO, and UPDO, a CHIGNON, a BOB or even a SALON. The DAY SPA came close.

I've only had CAVA once. This makes me want to try it again... Mostly, it makes me want to go to Spain.

santafefran 12:29 AM  

I'm easier to please than @Rex--particularly liked how EPOXY STACKS UP over HOME REPAIR and DENY is followed by REFUSES. Favorite crossing was HAIRS/HEIRS.

Ditto the S_L_T puzzler.

ildemize--more likely than a healthy demize.

Tobias Duncan 12:29 AM  

Theme was just fine for me.
I was first exposed to litchis in my youth during a wonderful year when my roommates and I all managed to land beautiful ASIAn girlfriends.
I usually agree with Rex about pangrams but this one was pretty painless.The clue for ESQUE was snappy and ECRU always reminds me of the wonderful old Ken Nordine poem ...hmmm its unavailable on youtube.
At least they have green.

TomAz 12:34 AM  

I liked CAVA and COALESCE and JOCKEY and EPOXY. But mostly I liked the Pavement song.

Anonymous 12:41 AM  

Huh. I liked this one too. I think the Q made that corner much more interesting.

Joel 1:02 AM  

Enough with the rants on pangrams! Q AND A is an ugly answer now? Not only is it totally legit, I like it because the solver has to figure out the Q without a U trick. And I'll take ESQUE over most crossword suffixes, (ITE, ENNE, ETTE, ISM come to mind), because at least it has a Q. What I'm trying to say is, I don't get the personal vendetta you seem to have against pangrams. It seems like if a constructor achieves one, it's instantly a worse puzzle in your eyes. Which honestly makes no sense.

PK 1:06 AM  

Thanks, Rex. I solved the puzzle, but did not catch the split hairs until I came here. Doh! Right, it's Tuesday, we have a theme and all that jazz.

@Gill I.P.: Yes, some of us still wear pantyhose. Barely There may be a form of ecru, I'm not sure.

PK 1:07 AM  

Thanks, Rex. I solved the puzzle, but did not catch the split hairs until I came here. Doh! Right, it's Tuesday, we have a theme and all that jazz.

@Gill I.P.: Yes, some of us still wear pantyhose. Barely There may be a form of ecru, I'm not sure.

Clark 1:26 AM  

I think -ESQUE is an under-appreciated suffix. It's right up there with –wise in my book. "That's the way it crumbles... cookie-wise." There is nothing like a Rex-esque pangram panning.

puzzlero -- background music for puzzling by Ravel

North Beach 1:36 AM  

Like PK, missed the split hairs theme. A bit sloggy for me. On a roll of NG, so I'm happy.
Need a new word for a relative of the malapop, of which I am very familiar. Kudos to whomever came up with that - it happens to me all the time. But what about a topic, in this case CAVA, which comes up in your every day conversation and then turns up in the puzzle? Tonight had a nice Prosecco, talked about the various non-Champagne sparklers and then, Voila, look who turns up in the puzzle but CAVA? We even referenced Frexienet à la Rex.

@Tobias: I'm sure you and your roommates and your beautiful Asian girlfriends were all virtuous, yes?........

syndy 1:43 AM  

only ugly fill I saw (VIDI) was EPS.aside from that as smooth a pangram saw I never.The HAIR of different lenghts is kinda like a mullet!for me It all COALESCED just fine! Now it's a new month nand I'm waiting for the REVUE.

jae 2:49 AM  

Medium and add me to the liked it list.

An optimist is a parent who lends his kid the new car for a date.

A pessimist doesn't.

A CYNIC did.

Evan K. 3:03 AM  

I thought this was a nice puzzle. I caught on to SPLIT // HAIRS and the theme answers early on, which made for easy going throughout. The Marching Splits (what a great school band name!) were a nice touch.

I agree with santefefran: EPOXY over HOMEREPAIR was a nice touch.

foodie 6:59 AM  

@NorthBeach, our own Andrea (where art thou?) coined "malapop"-- Genius!

I give myself credit for "Rexville" "-- much less inventive but handy. But may be Andrea or someone else came up with it, and I just osmosed it and thought it was my idea. It happens...

Fikink, who has been quiet lately, uses the term synchronicity for what you're after. It's of course a real word but underused. I think it's a wonderful concept.

I had the same thought re CAVA, as I'd had a prosecco last night, but then thought it was not so remarkable since I have them often :). It's the champagne of the masses. Definitely need to enhance my repertoire and incorporate CAVA.

jberg 7:29 AM  

LITCHI??? I've never seen it spelled that way, always Lychee, but LITCHe looked even worse (I didn't know Joe PESCI), so I made the right guess. That was the only thing that slowed me down at all it this super-easy Tuesday.

The moving aplits were nice - even nicer would have been two more theme answers, one starting and one ending with HAIR, but that would have required a different revealer, and even more contortions than a pangram.

Regarding the latter, I'm agnostic - it's one more thing to look for when solving, and kind of fun to notice when it's there. Of course the ideal to strive for is a pangram that makes the fill more attractive, and where the first letters of all the clues give you a secret message, but come on!

dk 8:06 AM  

Dear Kristian,

Your theme (although I did not see it which is par for the course) was inspired. More important is the use of ISOBAR and COALESCE in the grid. Two great x-words that don not come around much.

Thank you.

**** (4 Stars) And a shout out to SETHg to boot.

Solvers of a certain age may remember NEEDLES and EPS. We used to call our friends 33 1/3 when they were a little slow on the uptake.

I am with the Q in the Southwest was just fine camp...frankly I think our dear leader may be a bit envious of this one.

SKI area where I freeze my ass to save yours is making snow and it will be 60+ degrees today. I am not sure how that STACKSUP. I shall check the millibar readings on the NOAA site.

d(I remember when the weathermen wore horn rimmed classes and ill fitting suits)k

dk 8:10 AM  

That would be "do not" instead of the auto corrected don not who was a Mayberry fixture.

Auto spiller your are my enimy and I shull avenge yur wrongs every chunce I git.

Raul 8:16 AM  

Earliest use of "Rexville" that I could find was Thursday, August 7, 2008 by @Foodie.

efrex 8:28 AM  

Noticed the "marching hairs" thing after I completed the grid; made for a nice bonus to the theme. HAYSEED is just a fun word, although I'm now going to have the Beverly Hillbillies theme running through my head all day.

My first exposure to the HARLEM BOYS CHOIR was their performance with Betty Buckley at the 1992 Stephen Sondheim Carnegie Hall celebration; a lovely medley of "Our Time" and "Children will Listen" - what a remarkably inspiring and talented group.

Not a fan of ESQUE, but not really hating it as much as our commander-in-chief. ECRUS, on the other hand, is pretty abominable. For a Tuesday, though, I'm very pleased with this one.

quilter1 8:49 AM  

I liked this puzzle even though I never watched Seinfeld and did not know SOUP NAZI and didn't get the theme until I came here. Some days I feel like I've missed out on some current cultural stuff and some days I just don't care as long as I can finish.

So sad about the HARLEM BOYS CHOIR. I have a CD of Quincy Jones' A Soulful Messiah that features them and it is terrific.

Making sour cream raisin bars today for the Wednesday concert/lunch. See ya tomorrow.

joho 8:53 AM  

Loved HAILCAESAR as a shout out to Patrick Berry's magical week of puzzles.

As Tuesdays go, this one was great with a fun theme, well executed and a pangram to boot! I really like QANDA and ESQUE is rather elegant. The "S" on ECRUS not so much.

SOUP NAZI is inspired!

Thank you, Kristian House ... there's soup for you!

evil doug 9:00 AM  

More annoying than pangrams are the people here who insist on going through the damn puzzles trying to discover if they're pangrams---whether to congratulate the creator as though it's some remarkable feat, or to comdemn them for their slavery to compulsive letter counting.

If answers suck, they suck---regardless of whether they fulfill pangram integrity. This, "Aha! They were obviously trying to complete the pangram and thus befouled the puzzle!" nonsense is impossible to prove and irrelevant anyway.

I could go with the Soup Nazi---that's how puzzle-makers get around the ridiculous breakfast test police on that word, I suppose---but the discussion on Asian women has me going in a different direction....


ELAINE: Donna Chang?

JERRY [is redialing]: Should've talked to her; I love Chinese women.

ELAINE: Isn't that a little racist?

JERRY: If I like their race, how can that be racist?


jackj 9:02 AM  

There is a lot to like in Kristian’s smooth as silk puzzle, starting with a simple but clever theme and supplemented by some wonderful fill.

Fill-wise, teaming up ESQUE with COALESCE in the bottom left corner brings an almost poetic lilt to the puzzle and for an even lighter touch you can drift on up to find the implicit question, “Boxers or briefs?” triggered by JOCKEY, in the upper right.

Then if you let your eye drift down to the SOUP NAZI, you’ll surely want to bring up a YouTube video and enjoy a hearty guffaw as he dishes disses with his dishes.

No nitpicks allowed today but, a comment on a quirk. We all have seen “THEUSUAL” as "a drinker’s order", countless times in puzzles, right? Wrong! This is the first time the full phrase, THEUSUAL, has appeared in a Times puzzle in the Shortz era. All the other uses were “usual” as the answer, coupled with “the” in the clue. Fancy that.

Tuesday puzzles are notorious stinkers but not in the able hands of Kristian House; this is a fine bit of construction!

Chris 9:04 AM  

Put me in the "like it" camp, too. Liked the hair/heir cross and I don't believe anyone has mentioned the Casesar/I saw cross. Nice!

jackj 9:08 AM  

My comment was shown at 9:02 AM then quickly and inexplicably disappeared so, here goes another try:

"There is a lot to like in Kristian’s smooth as silk puzzle, starting with a simple but clever theme and supplemented by some wonderful fill.

Fill-wise, teaming up ESQUE with COALESCE in the bottom left corner brings an almost poetic lilt to the puzzle and for an even lighter touch you can drift on up to find the implicit question, “Boxers or briefs?” triggered by JOCKEY, in the upper right.

Then if you let your eye drift down to the SOUP NAZI, you’ll surely want to bring up a YouTube video and enjoy a hearty guffaw as he dishes disses with his dishes.

No nitpicks allowed today but, a comment on a quirk. We all have seen “THEUSUAL” as a drinker’s order, countless times in puzzles, right? Wrong! This is the first time the full phrase, THEUSUAL, has appeared in a Times puzzle in the Shortz era. All the other uses were “usual” as the answer, coupled with “the” in the clue. Fancy that.

Tuesday puzzles are notorious stinkers but not in the able hands of Kristian House; this is a fine bit of construction!"

chefbea 9:08 AM  

Put me in the group that liked the puzzle. Found it very easy.

Loved the soup Nazi!!

John V 9:16 AM  

Typical Tuesday, 5 miles, Stamford to Greenwich, even having to fumble for the new November monthly. Happy Día de los Muertos to all E-RexTicians: no snow today, so life is good.

Re: pangrams: what @Evil Doug said; I never, EVER notice them until they've been pointed out here. They do not matter to this solver.

Wanted VINO at 19A, as was thinking of Vino Verde -- which is Porgugese. Bit of a quibble with 3D, Dinero dispensers, made me think the answer would have had some Spanish tie. Had about 700 different spellings until getting LITCHE with the HAIRS crossing. Was thinking ACRE for 47D, so the SE was a bit smudgy by the time I got done.

LOVED HarlemBoysChoir answer. s'bout from Wall Street.

John V 9:17 AM  

That would be "s'bout all from Wall Street."

M07S 9:20 AM  

@Raul (Or anyone else for that matter.) How does one search previous blogs for a string like "Rexville"? Surely you didn't call them up one at a time and and search them individually?!

A very nice puzzle. As I was doing it I thought it was so well constructed that @Rex would find little wrong with it. The "Three R's" reared their ugly head. (Rex's Rigid Rules) No pangrams, e pluribus unum.

Anyway, put me in the liked it camp.

Gill I. P. 9:22 AM  

@foodie and @North Beach: Mentioning CAVA and it's popular producer- Freixenet- brings back the memories.
If you were crazy enough to go to Puerta del Sol in Madrid on New Year's, you and everyone else would have a bottle of Freixenet in your hand. While evereyone else would be having "chocolate con churros" at 4AM the clean-up brigade would haul off the empties; something you could hear miles away.
Alas, nowadays, the Madrilenos have seemed to snub their noses at Freixenet; preferring Prosecco!!!!

JC66 9:33 AM  

Residents of Rexville, please consider the possibility that @Rex's rant about the pangram/Q is just his way of illustrating the puzzle's theme.

santafefran 9:34 AM  

The use of SOUP NAZI, which was great, brought to mind this quote I read yesterday from one of my favorite authors:

"I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism."
--P. D. James

Seems apropos of many discussions of words in crossword puzzles we have had here.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

The CAESAR/NAZI crossing is not half bad.

quilter1 9:44 AM  

Oh, and where would one go to buy phonograph needles nowadays?

John V 9:48 AM  

@quilter: At a disc-o-tech?

archaeoprof 9:55 AM  

Strong Tuesday. Clever theme, well-executed.

Re pangrams: I'm not agnostic; I'm apathetic.

@jae: LOL!

chefbea 9:57 AM  

@Quilter1 perhaps you could try a quilting needle??

Captsha = nosacha

telling the president's daughter she can't do something

hazel 10:09 AM  

@evil d - it looks like you officially have a linguistic libertarian ally in santafefran!! (me too, for that matter).

i thought that was a fantastic tuesday puzzle and I echo @Clarke's sentiments on the ESQE - it seemed to me a perfect use of that suffix, and I was delighted to see it - and completely oblivious to its sinister secret agent role. Liked all the hee-hee doubles people have been pointing out too. Good eye, @Rexville!

@d(bad speller)k - just turn that feature off on whatever device you are using! i just got the new iPhone (look at me BOASTING!) and i am going to figure out right now how to rid myself of that feature. it annoys the bejeezus out of me! On 2nd thought, your inquiring mind might like to see what chaos it comes up with every day? in that case, please ignore my imperative.

JaxInL.A. 10:09 AM  

I like writing the date today: 11/1/11. Random observation.

We have a huge LP (not EP) collection and need to buy a new device to play them, as the old phonograph gave out.  Probably going to go for a version that digitizes the music, though. Changing with the times. Any recommendations?

This is Mr. House's 7th puzzle since February 2009: 3 Tuesdays, 3 Wednesdays, and a Thursday. I liked it a lot, though I gotta say that I understand Rex more now.  I did the SW corner last. When it clearly didn't match the clean quality  of the puzzle's other 3/4, I thought immediately that the constructor must be going for a pangram.   My personal jury is out on the merits of this, but today's puzzle showed me more clearly  how a pangram can affect a puzzle's gestalt.    

According to,  COALESCE and JOCKEY appear for the first time today in the NYT.  It hardly seems possible.

@JohnV, as I understand it, today is All Saints Day and tomorrow is Day of the Dead. Big celebration tomorrow at 24 Street Theatre here in the 'hood.

Where IS @Andrea, anyway?

John V 10:25 AM  

Alas. Dead a day too soon.

VaEd 10:30 AM  

Many decades ago when I first began doing crosswords, I thought a puzzle wasn't worthy unless is was a pangram. I didn't know the word then, thought it was just using all the letters of the alphabet as in "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." It's still cool!

Also, some of you well remember that once you completed the puzzle you had nothing to do until the solution appeared the next day. No blogs. Oh my, what did we do with our time?!

Matthew G. 10:36 AM  

I liked this one. SPLIT HAIRS, with also some HEIRS hiding out. Did anyone ever see the movie "Splitting Heirs"? No? Good, it was terrible, but it was fun to be reminded of the scene where a whining Rick Moranis gets pinned by a moose head.

Like the CAESAR/I SAW crossing, especially just two weeks after they were his "crossing words."

Here In Franklin 10:36 AM  

"Teeing" is just ugly.

Two Ponies 10:42 AM  

I thought this was a great Tuesday puzzle esp. since this is the day that seems most difficult to please.
I would never take the time to check for a pangram but sometimes it is cool.
@ jackj, Great post today.
@ santafefran, Thanks for the James quote. I totally agree.
@ JaxinL.A., I am told that phonographs and LPs are making a big comeback in some circles so finding a new machine might not be as difficult as you think.

John V 11:01 AM  

Re: what did we do after we solved the puzzle: What I specifically did was to cut out the puzzle and compare my results -- particularly when I DNF -- to the solution grid the next day. If I had a mistake or was incomplete, I would -- and this was critical for me -- write in the correct answer, rather than simply read it. For me, this was the way I particularly learned the pre-Shortz crossword-ese. I still have the paper clipper that I used for this purpose. All of this, of course on the New Haven.

Mel Ott 11:08 AM  

Count me among those who like the suffix -ESQUE. Much more interesting than -ISH, -ANCE, -ENCE, etc. Couldn't care less about pangrams.

I would have liked to see SOUSE cross THE USUAL.

jae 11:13 AM  

@JaxinL.A. -- I picked up a reasonably priced machine at Best Buy a few years back when my Dual 1219 gave out. You will probably need one with built in amp as today's receivers lack a phono hook up.

The Month That Was 11:34 AM  

I found this puzzle inappropriate and offensive, and I'm surprised it was approved for publishing.
Shame on the NYT.

You know what's really offensive? SKORTS!

I am astonished that this group of people interested in words and their meanings could be so cavalier about the appropriateness of BOOBJOB.

And now I've lived long enough to see someone compare BOOBS to "nigger." Wow. What a world.

This would have been a perfectly acceptable Second Sunday Puzzle, pleasing all who like word games, while not wasting the time of those who relish a knotty, challenging crossword puzzle.
What a disappointment.

All you bright people showing off have just SPOILED the Blindauer puzzle for those who hadn't gotten around to it yet.

A rather sophisticated puzzle which might cause some consternation among the early-weekers.

Forgot to mention, I do my CWPs with a Pentel Twist-Erase 0.9.

I thought that this was one of least enjoyable Sunday puzzles that I have ever done. I slogged through it, but got no satisfaction. 

At age 80, I've been doing Times crosswords for 60 years or so, and have kept at it lately to fend off the gaga fairy. After this one, though, I think I'd rather have alzheimers.

@Sarah from Va - just pretend @Rex no longer writes up Sunday puzzles - and don't come and read them. Problem solved!

It is oddly comforting to see TV as an art form of the lowest common denominator.

Not only didn't I appreciate today's Snider clue, I also didn't appreciate your dismissive response to my post.

"Kenny overparticipates in discussion."

Please disregard my earlier question as it is idiotic.The answer of course is" its none if my business".Good lord I can be a condescending prick sometimes.I am glad my friends put up with me.

( haven't spoken French since I was a kid) which made it very mysterious and kept me guessing! I recommend you watch it in French, Rex ( or with the sound off) as it gives it an extra challenge. 

I skipped the meta-puzzle challenge; just couldn't care that much.
We had our first frost here this morning.

If I should ever publish a crossword of my own somewhere, I can only hope that I'll make one as good as Berry's.

And how the xxx am I supposed to print the .pdf from my iPad?

I'm TRAVELING, I don't have a printer. I suppose my hotel has one, but since I'm in a guesthouse in Mostar, Bosnia, I don't fancy trying to use it with the iPad.

So the technological troubles didn't affect me today. But sometimes if it rains my paper is wet.

I liked this one, very happy with the lack of sports.

I didn't look at the clue, just wrote what I thought made sense.

Really, it was enough to ruin this for me.Sports trivia is the lowest form of trivia.

It is not very often that I can finish a Friday and in less than an hour to boot. So there is real satisfaction in just finishing. Guessed A RUN FOR THE MONEY from the get go but needed some googling to get all the obscure proper names of sculptors, artichects and TV personalities.

YAZ could not have been clued with "Upstairs at Eric's"
Sorry about the yelling, just seems tough to get heard in a sports crazed culture sometimes.

To commemorate "The Month That Was Joon" please enjoy this classic selection originally posted summer 2008ish.

Joon 11:00 AM
rex, your rant about a-rod is really undignified. i'm not mrs. rodriguez or even a yankees fan, but any connection between a-rod and steroids is pretty tenuous at best. even the circumstantial evidence is pretty lacking; his body type is pretty similar to what it always has been, unlike the physiques of svelte-athletes-turned-hulking-brutes like bonds, canseco, or mcgwire. i realize it's fun to hate on the star players of rival teams (although i, like you, have always liked and respected mussina), but this is just mud-slinging.

600 12:04 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
600 12:07 PM  

Count me as one who liked the puzzle, doesn't really care either way about pangrams, and is grateful for the blog. Having to wait a day for the answers actually prevented me from ever trying. Well, that and I was busy (and happy--not complaining) being wife, mother, housekeeper, laundress, cook, teacher . . .some of you remember the drill. Now I'm retired. Aaaah.

I particularly liked ISOBAR, COALESCE, and THE USUAL. The crossing of CAESAR with I SAW was pretty darn good, too.

As for merits of the blog--big laugh today, thank you @John V 10:25. Agree with @Two Ponies that @jackj's post was great. In fact, much of the dialogue in Rexville today was lots of fun. Thanks, @foodie, for the term!

Wow, @Month! That was fun. I remember lots of those moments! (I especially like when Sarah from Va got schooled, Rex's reaction to the BOOBJOB discussion, and the gaga fairy.) Good times.

Big, big thanks to @Tobias Duncan. I never heard of Ken Nordine before; I loved the link so much I went hunting for ECRU. Found lots of mentions, no way to listen to or even read it (for free, anyway.) But I certainly did enjoy "Green."

Orange 12:10 PM  

Re: the last comment: Didn't I just read that A-Rod admitted that he used steroids when he played in Texas?

I think I know how Rex assesses pangrams. He doesn't start out counting letters. He starts out by asking himself, "What the hell is ECRUS doing in this grid? Ugh." Then he sees the Z, X, J, and K in other areas and the Q near ECRUS and wonders if ECRUS is there strictly in service of a pangram—because if he were making a puzzle and wound up with ECRUS in a corner that doesn't touch any theme entries, he'd tear it out and try again for sure.

Orange 12:10 PM  

(By "that last comment," I mean 11:34.)

evil doug 12:33 PM  

I'd never been to that Xword Info site, either. Hmmmm. Interesting. Turns out that "evil" has been in the puzzle even more than "acme". At the current rate of tiresome acme fill, I project that that should remain the case until March 17, 2012....

I am the 269th most popular NYT crossword in the Universe!

Gavin 12:47 PM  

"46D: Nutlike Chinese fruit (LITCHEE) — I think there are several acceptable spellings of LITCHEE, which is one reason I'm never too thrilled to see it in crosswords"

Which is why I threw a Natick penalty flag at 46D/66A. I know who Joe Pesci is, but I needed the cross to remember how to spell his name.

Two Ponies 12:57 PM  

@ Tobias Duncan, Thanks for the Ken Nordine. He's new to me but a comment below the video said he inspired Tom Waits.
Another comment said "This guy is a genius. I want to do this but all my poetry sucks, or is about sandwiches."
Thanks again @ The Month. Look forward to your post every time.

mac 1:12 PM  

Good Tuesday puzzle, especially the usual, isobar, coalesce and the Harlem Boys Choir.

Had some Cava at the wedding in Spain, but I don't like sparkling wines.

Oh, it was a pangram?

I think I coined anonymice. Not a hundred percent sure.

captcha: biles. Ugly plural.

mac 1:13 PM  

Thanks, @Month! Always so much fun.

Tobias Duncan 1:29 PM  

So glad some of you liked the Nordine ,you can hear ECRU and many others for free here

He is 90 and still at it.

I love love love the month that was but when my comments are taken out of context it makes me seem like some sort of sports hating ogre ...


I miss ACME :(

archaeoprof 1:46 PM  

One of my comments was in @Month!!
My life has meaning.

But then again, I miss ACME too...

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

Nice puzzle. My only peeve is when constructors use suffixes, prefixes and crosswordese - they don't belong in NYT grids.

Pangrams are a nice accomplishment as long as they aren't forced (by suffixes, prefixes and crosswordese).

How many people sang the song in their head to get DENY?

captcha - hallizin = Monty is in the building

Masked and Anonymousesque 2:20 PM  

ECRUS passes the Patrick Berry sniff test (he used it 7 Sept 2002). ESQUE doesn't, however. But sniff tests don't mean much, I suspect.

Why not have your pangram and kisses from 31, too? Use...
or somethin'.
Personally, I like what K-House used down there just fine, thankU; it has an extra U that the above WorkedMy AssOff AllMorning attempt doesn't. Maybe that's what he was *really* goin' for, anyhoo.

Let's not split hars. This puz was fun. It had lotsa U's. ThUmbsUp from M&A.

Oldactor 3:34 PM  


I bought a USB stereo turntable at Use it with your stereo setup or connect it to your PC and digitize your LPs. I love it

It's $159.95

Anonymous 3:42 PM  

@JaxinLA - Sounds great (pun intended)! Does it record each track as a file or are album sides recorded as one file?

captcha sieri: the mountain range in Californi

santafefran 4:03 PM  

@Tobias D, I didn't have time to check out your url to Nordine earlier, but I will echo the thanks of others here. Loved Chartreuse.

And yes, I sang the song to get DENY.

sanfranman59 4:13 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 7:17, 8:51, 0.82, 6%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Tue 3:55, 4:34, 0.86, 7%, Easy

FWIW, A-Rod fessed up to using performance-enhancing drugs a couple of years ago. He said he did so while playing for Texas from 2001-2003

Pete 4:49 PM  

As being "politically correct" is, at its heart, simply being well mannered and considerate, I can't really imagine why anyone would be against it. Perhaps it gets conflated with prissy nosy-bodies incessently correcting you, but that's the fault of priss nosy-bodies, not being well mannered. I'm reminded of the grammar discussion, there's nothing wrong with being grammatically correct as much as possible, it's the grammar nazis that are the problem.

As to P.D. James, I'm sure she hates PC, she obviously hates anything that resembles editing. Did she not, she might actually have an editor for her books who might inform here that words such as detritus and frisson should be used sparingly, perhaps once per book, and not in every single chapter of each and every book she writes.

Z 4:58 PM  

My initial reaction was "meh." That may have as much to do with having to get to work early as the puzzle itself. I missed the theme entirely, which is atypical for me, again because I had to get out the door. Looking at it now and having read the commentary, I like the puzzle more.

I agree with @Orange about how RP looks at pangrams. SOUSE, SULTAN, COALESCE are all great words, ECRUS and QANDA, not so much. The -AND- fill gets tired pretty quickly. I remember liking them at one time, now they seem like a necessary evil much like the IN- classical music clues. If the sole role they play is to make a pangram work, give up the pangram.

As to political correctness, the terms we use expose how are minds are working (or not working). Ann Coulter's "our blacks are better than their blacks" comments yesterday are a perfect example. That framing says a great deal about why the party of Lincoln have a hard time getting minority's to vote for them.

Masqued and Anonymous 5:14 PM  

Gee, I just flat out feel inexorably drawn to the Q AND A answer.
Definitely don't think of it as *bad* fill. Ah well, different strokes...

jackj 5:26 PM  

Two Ponies- Thank you.

skua76 5:32 PM  

I never saw SOUP NAZI :( filled in all the crosses instead.

And I too guessed wrong on the last letter in PESCI/LITCHI.

@JaxinL.A. I find it hard to believe that JOCKEY and COALESCE were never in a NYT puzzle until today. But the internet never lies, right?

I did enjoy Kristian's puzzle, although I must admit I started looking for a Q as I finished in the SW...

Sparky 5:46 PM  

Solved last night. Found it a bit meh. Like ESQUE and COALESCE. Neutral re panagrams. The clues 23 and 51 A tell you they hint to the theme, not that I'm nitpicking or splitting hairs. I still wear pantyhose when I wear a skirt with good shoes not sandals. What a lively blog today.

600 5:51 PM  

@Tobias Duncan--Actually, you are some sort of sports-hating ogre (although I wouldn't have used the word ogre) and therefore one of my heroes. Embrace it. I'm guessing there are other non-sports-loving solvers among us.

Also, thank you for the list. I loved lavender; I will now, as @santafefran recommends it, go listen to chartreuse.

@Pete--Nicely said. I completely agree with you that what some call being politically correct, I would call being thoughtful of others, therefore mannerly. Thanks for taking what these days seems to be a non-PC stand.

@M and A--LOL

evil doug 6:36 PM  


"As being "politically correct" is, at its heart, simply being well mannered and considerate, I can't really imagine why anyone would be against it."

You and 600 are totally misstating at least my often voiced case here against PC.

I believe in doing the right thing, the thoughtful thing, the gracious thing---the "correct" thing, just not the POLITICALLY correct thing. To me, that modifier makes correctness externalized, artificial and impossible to discern on a regular basis.

The problem is that there can be so many varied interpretations of what constitutes "considerate" and "well-mannered", that it becomes incumbent on each individual to decide for him/herself what is appropriate and correct rather than allowing some external individual/organization/group to make the "political" call for everyone.


Stan 6:41 PM  

Solid enough Tuesday, though not as jazzy a theme as Kristian's last, which had answers like G-STRING THEORY.

@Jax: I too am really excited about writing 11/1/11 today every chance I get. It's a 'mirrored' or 'glass-door' palindrome that would read the same in a mirror or from either side of a door, like 'bid'. It's also a 'rotational ambigram' that reads the same when rotated 180 degrees on its axis, like 'pod'. The next will be 11/11/11, next week.

michael 7:14 PM  

I thought this was an uninteresting theme, but otherwise enjoyed the puzzle. Liked that it was a pangram and think that "esque" and "qanda" are just fine answers.

Not enough sports clues...

chefbea 7:34 PM  

@stan we leave on our cruise 11-11-11

santafefran 7:50 PM  

@Pete--guessing you are not a James fan.



All I have to say is that this puzzle contains two excellent metal bands - Coalesce and Cynic. Thank you.

oldbizmark 8:08 PM  

thank you for reminding me how much i love that song and video, "cut your hair."

600 8:26 PM  

Hmmmm. Trying not to take the bait, but must ask, @evil. Just what external individual/organization/group is it that you perceive is making the call for everyone? I certainly wouldn't like that either, but I have no idea whom you're referencing. Of course we all make the call for ourselves, and some people insist on labeling our own individual calls as "political correctness." I'm the only one who can make that call for me.

By the way, Pete wasn't responding to anything you said. Why did his remark so rankle you? And I didn't notice any comments reacting negatively to SOUP NAZI. Did I miss something?

Anyway, that's it for me. Three and out.

Raul 8:41 PM  

Google: "Rex Parker" crossword rexville.

Go to last entry and repeat the search with the omitted results included.

Stan 10:05 PM  

@Raul: I'm curious. Is there a way to force Google to display results in date order?

Stan 10:07 PM  

Cchefbea: That's so cool. Bon voyage!!

Pete 10:34 PM  

@santafefran - She just really, really needs editing. There are good novels hidden within the bloat and idiocyncrasies.

foodie 10:52 PM  

The range of topics today was quite amazing-- from the puzzle itself (remember? HAIR SPLITTING?), to sparkling wines, the merits and demerits of pangrams, needles, music, numerology, PD James, political correctness, A-ROD and roids, the history of terminology in this hood, the month that was, and the leitmotif of missing Andrea...

Not a word about food, though! Shows some restraint on our part.

A fun cocktail party, Rexville style...

mac 11:48 PM  

Very good blog and comments today. No wonder after such a good Tuesday puzzle.

@Pete: I like PD James a lot and have read most of her books. Except for her last few (one of which was really questionable) I have found her work very solid. The writer who could use a good editor is John Irving!

sanfranman59 1:47 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 6:23, 6:50, 0.93, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:24, 8:51, 0.84, 8%, Easy (10th lowest median solve time of 124 Tuesdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:16, 3:40, 0.89, 7%, Easy (8th lowest median solve time of 123 Mondays)
Tue 3:50, 4:34, 0.84, 6%, Easy (7th lowest median solve time of 124 Tuesdays)

andrea coalesce michaels 11:55 AM  

the theme was fabulous executed...
I had HAlLElujahCHOIR, and got confused...
Then when I corrected to HA_LE___OYCHOIR
I considered HALL OF JOY, somehow conflating Mozart's Ode To JOY, etc. OY was right!

John O'Toole 2:17 AM  

I took considerable issue with the spelling of "LITCHEE" I have never seen that spelling before, and would be surprised to ever have. It makes no sense. There are two acceptable ways of transliterating Chinese into roman letters, and both are based on slightly different phonetics. Wade-Giles is a British system based on the sounds of Cantonese. Pinyin is a Chinese/American system based on Mandarin. The thing is, both this (and, to be fair, the most accepted spelling: "lychee" use both systems. In Wade-Glies, the word is LeeTchee, the "Li" is pinyin. The most accurate transliteration is LiQi in pinyin, and in Wade-Giles it should be LeeTsee. None of it makes sense. While "Lychee" is also wrong, it is an accepted spelling. This is just ridiculous. The constructor should have at least tossed in a "Var."

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Reading this blog was way more satisfying than solving the puz. Thank to all for the enlightened contributions.

Dirigonzo 4:24 PM  

Looking in from syndiland it appears that all the hairs have been split and every nit picked. so let's get right to the fun that was happening in Rexville (who coined that term, I wonder?) on 12/6/2006:
- "Solving time: 9:43"
- "I was also not so thrilled to see ESTEE's perfume counterpart, 3D: Perfume name (Coty), in the puzzle. In general, I don't like repeat clues. It's as if construction inelegance (two very similar items in same puzzle, e.g. ULNAS and RADII) is trying to pass itself off as intentional trickery. Feels cheap. Cheap like COTY perfume."
- "Here is the one part of the puzzle that bothers me. The proper term is GANGSTA RAP. Now, there is no question that GANGSTER RAP is, technically, legitimate fill, as I find many sources that list that term as a variant, but GANGSTER RAP is basically what white people who don't like, don't listen to, and don't respect rap in general will call any rap that scares them (which is to say, most rap). This is one of the reasons that the -ER bugs me. It smacks of white condescension."
- "There is at least one other word I can think of where the difference between an -ER and an -A ending can make a substantive difference in terms of meaning, but it's not a word this white man is inclined to put anywhere in his blog."
- "Best factoid about RAE: he at one point in his life accepted a position as surgeon in the best-named place on earth: Moose Factory, Ontario."
- "I have nowhere to go with this entry. It's more of a public service announcement to the informationally-challenged solvers of the world, such as myself. John RAE and Prime Minister RAO - tuck them away in your puzzling ruck sack for limited but possibly significant future use."
- Many of the 11 comments were from visitors new to the blog; RP said this in reply to one of them: "Thanks. Come back as often as you like. I'm happy to do whatever I can to get new solvers hooked and keep 'em hooked. Feel free to comment whenever and however you like."

Gill I. P. 5:14 PM  

Hi @Diri. How's life in beautiful Maine?
I'm pretty sure it was @foodie who coined the word "Rexville."
Keep smilin....

Dirigonzo 6:03 PM  

@GIP, thanks for coming back for a visit! You've made quite a transformation from "syndi-late" commenter to "Johnnie (Jillie?)-on-the-spot" early commenter - you were the first one to the blog today (5 weeks ago - you know what I mean)!

Who's the cute redhead in the photo?

Anonymous 6:13 PM  

Spacecraft here. @Jae: loved your definitions re cars to teens: one word: DON'T! I liked this puzzle despite the second appearance in a week of QANDA. Reminds me of a local law firm whose partners' names begin with P and A, and so their logo is replete with Ling-Ling wannabes. Put me in the camp that declares bad fill bad fill, pangrammar be damned.
Amazing that Rex slapped a medium on this one; I breezed through it in--oh, I don't know, maybe like, under ten minutes? I do not, never will, stopwatch myself. Too old for that crap. But for me, solving mostly during TV ads, it seemed easy peasy.
One other headscratcher: just what is a DAYSPA? No evening hours? Or is it a chain founded by good ol' Doris?
Anyway, with words like EPOXY and HAYSEEDS, this puzzle is not THEUSUAL. Good going, Kristian.

Gill I. P. 8:08 PM  

@Diri: That cule little "imp" is the latest "apple-of-our-eye" granddaughter. The evil eye look she gives she gets from me!
You know what good ole Ben used to say: Early to bed, early to rise makes a women....(feel free to fill in the blanks).
@Spacecraft: A DAYSPA (as opposed to the week-end jobs) gives you the hope that the gazillion dollars you've just spent, will transform your entire body and mind into a Jane Fonda clone at which point,you demand your money back. The AIRPORTSPAS are worth it though if you have a long lay-over.

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