Alternative to Putinka briefly / THU 4-12-12 / Go farther sloganeer once / Actress Veronica who was model in last cigarette ad show on US TV / Judiciary checker / 1929 #1 hit Now he's gone we're through / He is more antique Roman than Dane / When doubled vitamin deficiency

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Constructor: Michael Shteyman

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: AMERICAN / RED CROSS (26D: With 21-Down, humanitarian organization) — other answers include CLARA BARTON (20A: Founder of 26-/21-Down, who died on April 12, 1912) and BLOOD DONORS (55A: Some 26-/21 Down volunteers), and there's a (non-) RED CROSS formed by the black squares in the middle of the grid

Word of the Day: XEROSIS (44D: Abnormal dryness, to a dermatologist) —
n., pl., -ses (-sēz).
  1. Abnormal dryness, especially of the skin, eyes, or mucous membranes.
  2. The normal hardening of aging tissue.

Read more:
• • •

Happy death day, CLARA BARTON!

One of my readers is a bigwig at the RED CROSS, so I know at least one person who will like this.

A pretty thin theme mildly enhanced by 1. intersecting theme answers and 2. a shape in the middle. Honestly, I couldn't even see a theme until I was nearly done. It's not like I haven't (many times) seen grids with crosses in the middle of them. When I got the adjacent Xs, I thought maybe there was gonna be some weird "cross" / X / something theme. But it's just RED CROSS. Actually, theme is probably CLARA BARTON, since it's her death day and all, but CLARA BARTON isn't in the middle of the grid, so too bad for her. I thought maybe LAB COAT (32A: White jacket, often) was supposed to be part of the theme, but it's symmetrical with LEXICAL (42A: Vocabulary-related), which surely isn't.

Surprised at how good my time was considering how much floundering there was, starting with CIA at 1A: Govt. org. (really, do they both need to be abbr.?) whose logo depicts an eagle standing on a key (NSA). Was annoyed at having to know some random model until I realized she is a common crossword answer—just normally clued as a "Hill Street Blues" actress (4A: Actress Veronica who was the model in the last cigarette ad shown on U.S. TV). Annoyed by clue on PINE TAR, since it helps you get a handle on only one, singular, thing (that I know of) (24A: It helps you get a handle on things). Also annoyed by clue on BADNESS (9D: Cool quality, in modern slang), since it's most commonly used —slangily— as a synonym for "Cool!" i.e. adjectivally. See also "money" (looks like a noun, used —slangily— like an adjective). I'm guessing [Initial feeling?] gets you ESP because E and S and P are ... initials? Terrible. Never heard of Putinka (2D: Alternative to Putinka, briefly)—meaningful to the constructor, no doubt, but do most U.S. folk know it? Not that STOLI was hard to get. I mean, what else happens in Russia besides drinking and political assassinations, right? (please send offended mail to: "I'm kidding")

You can have all these back: BERI, ORNE, PASA, OREAD (ugh, I booted that one—went with DRYAD), ONE C (really!?), ABU.

  • 46A: Judiciary checker: Abbr. (EXEC.) — I like this clue. It's interestingly awkward.
  • 39D: 1929 #1 hit whose title follows the line "Now he's gone and we're through" ("AM I BLUE?") — rough for me. First, when I hear that song, a man is singing it. Second, I thought the song was a man's name, so I was like "AMI ... AMI who? Who the hell is named 'AMI'?"
  • 4D: He is "more an antique Roman than a Dane," in literature (HORATIO) — Alas, the "Dane" part made this easy(ish).
  • 52A: Capital of the country that's alphabetically first in the United Nations (KABUL) — I went through a brief "capital memorization" phase. I didn't get far. I *did* get to KABUL, since I was proceeding through the atlas alphabetically.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS SYNDICATED SOLVERS (i.e. May 17, 2012 solvers)! These puzzles are Fantastic. All $$ to charity. Get 'em.

P.SFor anyone with an interest in solving the puzzles from this year's Crosswords LA tournament [which just happened this past weekend], they're now available online at

For $5, you get six tournament crosswords (by Donna Levin, Aimee Lucido & Zoe Wheeler, Todd McClary, Trip Payne, Brendan Emmett Quigley, and Byron Walden), two bonus crosswords (by Andrea Carla Michaels and Doug Peterson), and a clever team game (by John Schiff). As always, proceeds from puzzle pack sales are donated to charity.


The Bard 12:04 AM  

Hamlet > Act V, scene II

HAMLET: Heaven make thee free of it! I follow thee.
I am dead, Horatio. Wretched queen, adieu!
You that look pale and tremble at this chance,
That are but mutes or audience to this act,
Had I but time--as this fell sergeant, death,
Is strict in his arrest--O, I could tell you--
But let it be. Horatio, I am dead;
Thou livest; report me and my cause aright
To the unsatisfied.

HORATIO: Never believe it:
I am more an antique Roman than a Dane:
Here's yet some liquor left.

HAMLET: As thou'rt a man,
Give me the cup: let go; by heaven, I'll have't.
O good Horatio, what a wounded name,
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me!
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart
Absent thee from felicity awhile,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,
To tell my story.

jae 12:13 AM  

Tribute puzzles are often on the easy side and this was no exception.  Not bad for the genre, but nothing really stands out.

@foodie -- I pretty much agree with all that you said yesterday.  I do think it's  possible to overcome some "hard wired" stuff, but it is very difficult and explains why we need the term "relapse."

Also from yesterday, after discussing CHICKLIT with my bride over diner I realized I had no idea what it was yesterday.  I'm slightly more informed today.

Anonymous 12:20 AM  

Rex, if you could only make all your snarky reviews that funny, I might give you a GET OUT OF SNARK card. I am impressed that you know something about vodka, being a Manhattan man and all. There was also a Yeltsinka brand of Russian vodka but that was run over by a tank.

Thought this was a Wednesday and then relaized Clara died on Thursday, which made this a Thursday.

FDR also died on April 12 and I will be staring at this puzzle all day Thursday, while sipping Putinka vodka, trying to reconstruct the theme....


chefwen 12:22 AM  

I really wanted 9D to be BAD ass and was going to say "O.K. NYT, now were talkin" unfortunately it didn't fit.

Took me a looong time to get rocking, but once I did I was moving at a decent pace, that is, until I got to the LEXICAL/XEROSIS area, finally had to Google the skin condition. Technically a DNF for the short one.

May we have a rebus next Thursday please?

Onan 12:22 AM  

On the pettiness scale, where 0 = Mother Teresa and 10 = well, me, exactly how petty is it to bitch to one's self about how they wasted the best puzzle day of the week on a stinking tribute puzzle even though the puzzle was honoring Clara Barton?

BTW, you can use pine tar on more than one thing. In my explorative teen age boy years I used it in a very unusual manner. I should have been eating more Graham Crackers back then.

Peter 12:32 AM  

How is EXEC a judiciary checker? I get that it means the executive branch, but in what jurisdiction does the executive branch have the ability in any way check, i.e. to modify a decision of, the judiciary branch? Some judges are appointed to terms by the executive branch, but the EXECs can't modify their decisions or remove them once appointed.

Cuteness is appreciated, but reality should intrude somewhere, no?

Anonymous 12:39 AM  


The government teacher in me says that EXEC is being thought of broadly. After all, the head EXEC. appoints members of the federal courts, including the Supremes.
That's a pretty big check on judicial power.

santafefran 12:40 AM  

A shout out to ACME with QTIP.

@ chefwen, LOL at BADASS--much preferred over BADNESS. I had the same trouble with XEROSIS--wanted psoriasis or eczema but neither one would fit. Tried THRIFTS before THROATS. Not a lot to love here except CLARA BARTON.

Anonymous 12:54 AM  

@Chefwen, the rebus next week will be pineapple. You will be pleased to know that my Chicago son took his family to the Dells for a few days and bought my grandson a cheesehead hat. I told the little brat that he was not allowed in my apartment with that mousebait on his head....


Evan 1:04 AM  

I thought the puzzle was a pretty impressive work of construction, considering that it has more 7-letter answers (18) than 3-letter ones (10), all while constraining itself with a big fat cross in the middle and, as Rex said, intersecting theme answers. I imagine that the vertical stacks of 7-letter answers, particularly the LEAD-INS/EXED OUT/XEROSIS bunch was probably pretty tough to fill, especially with the two X's sitting there and limiting one's options.

Of all things to slow me down, 10-Down really had me for a while with IBN, which is basically the opposite of what I wanted, because that means "son of" in Arabic. That made the northeast corner much more difficult than it needed to be. Fortunately, that didn't stop me from getting some of the other answers up there right away like ABORT, BRAS, ESP, and QTIP.

A hand-up for a few more write-overs: HEIR at 27-Across, and that led to EURASIA at 5-Down, which when you think about it is a pretty dumb guess since the clue is asking you to pick one side, not both (Europe and Asia) at the same time.

Also, I initially refused to write in NEV at 60-Across because I thought that each state had only one particular nickname of that variety, and I knew Nevada's was the "Silver State." So now that the door has been opened (in my head at least) to giving states more than one nickname, I propose that we add our own state nicknames to the record. Play nice, now. I call Minnesota the Canada Junior State. Feel free to fire back, Minnesotans.

pk 1:28 AM  

Circled the April 12, 2012 and the 20A clue, but had no idea who died 100 years ago today.

@chefwen - same wish for badass - NYTimes will get there someday. Certainly is "in the language."

Margin notes:
38A Clearance sites? "Yuck"
42A answer Lexical "Whew"
66A answer ADD "Yes!"
44D answer Xerosis "Shut the front door!" Yes, I seriously wrote that in the margin of the puzzle. So glad Xerosis was WOTD. The PK would have had difficulty carrying on had it not been.

chefwen 1:55 AM  

@JFK - Did they ride the Ducks? I doff my cheese-head to your son and grandson. If they ever get to Kauai I will make them the best BADass CHEESE cake they could dream about.

Loved the clue/answer at 6D.

Anoa Bob 2:36 AM  

Always good to learn something from a puzzle, especially when its in an area where I thought my knowledge was already bad ass---things nautical---and it's 8D LEE TIDE, "It flows with the wind".

What the heck is 29D ONE C? I get that "sawbuck" is (extremely outdated) slang for $10 and ten of them would be $100, but have never heard nor seen ONE C. Google doesn't help.

Liked 44D XEROSIS, partly because I pieced it together form the prefix "XER-", meaning "dry". and the suffix "-OSIS", meaning "medical condition of".

Really liked the SW with 39D AM I BLUE leading into that crunchy corner. No ENNUI there.

Anoa Bob 2:41 AM  

Tried to link AM I BLUE to a youtube Billie Holiday version. Failed.

Alabama Clara Minarets 3:03 AM  

Quit Taking It Personally!!!

Could NOT get it forever because i couldn't figure out if it was BBQUE, BBCUE, BARBY ( yes, i tried that!) ..
Finally BARBQ which is the last way I'd ever spell it, unless I knew someone named Barbara Quinlan, aka BARB Q.

Nice sprinkle of KZQXX, my kingdom for a J!

Did CLARABARTON go down on the Titanic??!!

So many nice words...ENNUI, HORATIO, MINARET, XEROSIS...
Plus very middle eastern with ABU, KABUL, DUBAI, MINARET, UZI
And ALABAMA looking across the ATL at Casablanca!

In this puzzle, the NCAA seemed to be related to NAACP...and that RSVPD was trick-y!

Enjoyed the challenge, Michael Shteyman!

retired_chemist 3:26 AM  

@ Anoa Bob - A C-NOTE is a $100 bill., so 10 sawbucks - ONE C. OK, we don't have to like it.

Liked the puzzle. The cross in the middle added a nice touch.

LEXICAL, XEROSIS - nice words. CLARA BARTON symmetrical with BLOOD DONORS also pleasing.

PECS preceding LATS was my only writeover.

Thanks, Mr. Shteyman.

Clark 6:54 AM  

I'm with @Peter on the whole EXEC being a judiciary checker thing. About all the exec can do is threaten a bad ass court packing plan, and that has historically been less than successful. Well, FDR did get his switch in time, but it was pretty costly politically. Not much of a check if you ask me. Anybody else have any ideas?

Glimmerglass 7:36 AM  

This an unusual puzzle for me. Getting the theme early actually helped. There is a lot of difficult, arcane fill. I think this would have been very hard for me without Clara. (I was held up for a while with fLOOD DONORS (Duh!).

AnnieD 8:04 AM  

I went through the whole puzzle pretty neatly, filled the NW last, but didn't get Mr. Happy Pencil. Rats. Turns out I don't know my Putinka (Putin's child? How you fill a fountain pen?) from my pupek.

LOL at the QTIP acronym!

evil doug 8:06 AM  

This over-reaching president is about to find out the inverse is also true.

Red Cross, white lab coats, olive toothpicks, Am I Blue, black awards....

Wikipedia: "An NAACP Image Award is an accolade presented by the American National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to honor outstanding people of color in film, television, music, and literature." Not sure what colors are allowed, though. Yellow? Red? Bollywood Brown? Oh, well. Yay! We're the best non-whites at something, as chosen by other non-whites! We're number 1 in our minority! We're number 1 in our minority!

A Barbie-Q is when you take old dolls and toss them in a bonfire. Often they look like Karen Carpenter when they're done.

"(please send offended mail to: 'I'm kidding')": Uh, oh, Michael; sounds like "Just sayin'", "No offense intended", or {;-) to me.

No pasa nada,


John V 8:22 AM  

North (HAMEL, etc) was challenging, last to fall, so, medium Thursday I suppose.

The cross in the middle of the grid gave me the 26-/21-Down theme answers pretty quickly. Don't recall that sort of thing happening before, so that was cool -- or was it bad. Whatever.

51D "Answered": shouldn't the clue have said Abbr.?

@Evan re: state nicknames, when Governor John Rowland went to jail, we in CT referred to our state variously as Corrupticut or Patheticut.

It is colder in Charlotte than Norwalk. What's up with that?

Sue McC 8:24 AM  

Did this last night for some reason, when I should have spent those extra few minutes in bed. Yawn.

jberg 8:34 AM  

I hope someone else posts while I'm writing this - otherwise I'll be right next to @Evil Doug, and I fear I may be singed.

That aside, this one grew on me. Started with all kinds of deliberately obscure clues, but eventually it all made sense. I didn't notice the central cross until the end, though. I guess the STOLI was in there to make it red.

The conventional view among us political scientists is that the three branches check and balance each other. Originally the Supreme Court was the weakest, but modern medicine has given the President less leverage - those stubborn old judges just don't die as often.

One thing puzzles me, though - why does a secret agency have or need a logo?

jberg 8:35 AM  

Forgot to ask - whose middle name is that at 3D? I wanted ALLAN right away, but couldn't figure out why.

jackj 8:41 AM  

Today’s constructor, Michael Shteyman, showed up at the Cru web site sometime back around Y2K as a teenage immigrant from Russia and told our group that he had constructed crosswords for a newspaper in his former home town of St. Petersburg, Russia and looked forward to continuing his avocation in the United States, once he mastered English. Now, 43 Times puzzles later, he certainly has mastered English and the sweet skills of American cruciverbalism.

The tribute to CLARABARTON seems natural for a John Hopkins grad whose chosen career is medicine and with the BLOODDONORS entry we have a not so subtle reminder of the continuing need for a clean supply.

The non-theme entries are lively, led by a reference to a favorite of mine, TV’s lovely, elegant, intelligent female lead of “Hill Street Blues”, Victoria HAMEL and, continuing in the Hollywood vein, we’re treated to a memory of Gloria Swanson, chewing up the scenery as Norma DESMOND in Billy Wilder’s “Sunset Boulevard”. (An interesting note, the only other time DESMOND appeared in a Times puzzle it clued Bishop DESMOND Tutu; now there’s a contrast of epic proportion).

BADNESS, MINARET, THROATS, LEXICAL and the obligatory baseball clue for the stickum used to improve ones grip on the bat, PINETAR, were all exceptional but the best misdirect of the day goes to the answer for “Georgia’s on its side” which just had to be ARMENIA until Michael used a little reverse English and gave us ALABAMA.

Thanks, Michael; nice to “see” you again.

SethG 8:45 AM  

The pretty theme thin seemed more than that to me--the ARC does a lot, and to pick out just BLOOD DONORS, especially when they started working with blood donation long after Clara Barton left the organiztion, feels completely arbitrary.

Thought the SE was really tough. Martin, how many of your dictionaries support ex as a verb?

Z 8:46 AM  

"Interestingly Awkward" pretty much sums it up for me. I got the four theme answers off of the C in NAACP, but I struggled a little to a lot in just about every region except Maine and SoCal, with the entire SE coming very slowly. I had nothing but SCOOTER, BLOOD DONORS, RESTS, and ADD down there for the longest time. Battle born for NEV? I was thinking WVA made sense, but that W didn't seem likely for a Pacific Ocean name. Then I questioned the DONORS part of the answer because samoA had the right number of letters and the M had possibilities. AERATOR finally appeared from somewhere and I had enough to piece together the rest. LEXICAL seems perfectly obvious now, and would have been a big help if it had occurred to me earlier rather than at the end.

Elementary school social studies - Three branches of government set up in a system of checks and balances. EXEC is a perfectly reasonable answer.

@Evil - I am far less concerned about the over-reaching President than the Over-Reaching Five of Nine. Strip Searches? I really want the Washington PD to pull each of the Five over for a traffic stop and strip search each of them. I don't want them to QTIP - I want them to be subjected quite personally to the effect of their ruling.

joho 8:54 AM  

@jberg, Edgar ALLAN Poe I believe.

@Alabama Clara Minarets, "Did CLARABARTON go down with the Titanic??!!" LOL

I loved the scrabbliness of this one and as tribute puzzles go, it's good.

The only thing I really didn't like was ONEC because it sounds made up to me.

Thank you, Michael Shteyman, fun Thursday!

ArtLvr 8:56 AM  

Never mind the Titanic - that anniversary is April 15th...Talk about spine-tingling: I saw a news report earlier this week on the American History channel (C-span3) — and it was about the discovery of a boarded-up third-floor office in D.C. in a block scheduled for demolition. The GSA carpenter who was checking out the building for the last time had paused to gaze out the second-floor window, when he felt a tap on his shoulder twice. No one was there, but it led him to spot an envelope over his head, caught in a trap door. After grabbing a ladder to check out the letter, he made his way into what turned out to be CLARA BARTON’s Missing Soldiers Office — as she’d last left it in 1868, complete with lists and correspondence from bereaved families seeking lost relatives, plus amazing artifacts like bloody socks saved to be recycled. It even had the original sign which had hung outside the door to the building. The carpenter was able to get the discovery checked out by a very skeptical Park Service higher-up in time to prevent the demolition, and it will become D.C.’s newest museum next year after restoration! Hair-raising true tale… (And she did die in MD at age 90 of TB on April 12, 1912, while the Titanic went down three days later.)

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

I do not like abbrs. Too many in this puz. OW, it was OK.

quilter1 9:12 AM  

I read a biography of Clara in middle school and have admired her ever since. I liked the puzzle, getting a foothold in the south and working my way up. Nice and crunchy.

New avatar is one I completed in Dec. and gifted to a niece. It is a kingsize irregular ninepatch (a good crossword answer) with a flying geese border.

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

Acme, I don’t know about Clara Barton, ,Rose DeWitt Bukater, played by Kate Winslet, went down on the Titanic, but survived when the Titanic sank....


chefbea 9:54 AM  

Noticed the cross in the middle right away and wondered if it had anything to do with the puzzle. Had the 2 esses at 21D and put it all together.

Was a tough solve but eventially finished.

@JohnV..freezing here to. I think we finally reached 42. You coming to Wilmington this weekend for Azelia festival?

Larry 10:02 AM  

@ED - You convince me that even one African American or Hispanic actress was seriously considered for the lead in, say, The Hunger Games movie and maybe you've got a leg to stand on in the anti NAACP Image Awards argument.

archaeoprof 10:05 AM  

NW took me down memory lane. Thirty years ago, Russian friends introduced me to STOLI. Back then I also had a serious crush on Veronica HAMEL.

Still prefer STOLI, but have gotten over the crush.

@Quilter1: beautiful quilt!

@ChefBea: very cold here too this morning. But our azaleas and dogwoods are over and done.

JenCT 10:10 AM  

@quilter1: nice quilt! How long did it take you, if I may ask? I've made just 2 & was surprised at how long they took...(newbie here)

Too many abbreviations, I thought. Same feelings as @Rex.

New avatar are my 3 new chicks!

I kept looking for a rebus today.

Best Business Brands 10:12 AM  

Come and share our daily lives with us, we welcome your company ... We've spent the last 8 days in the Midwest enjoying a spectacular Spring. ....

orangeblossomspecial 10:16 AM  

Thanks to @Anoa Bob, here is Billie Holiday's version of AM I BLUE (39D).

Here is the original version sung by Ethel Waters.

The definitive 5D ALABAMA song has to be Lynyrd Skyyard's, whether in live or studio version.

Here's a cute version of 10D ABOU Ben Adhem.

Z 10:17 AM  

@Best Business Brands - You have been assimiliated.

Norm 11:13 AM  

Per Marbury v Madison, the judiciary checks the actions of the executive (and legislative) branches, not the other way around. To call the appointment power a check on the judiciary is a real stretch. My opinion.

Tita 11:36 AM  

@JenCT - love your new avatar...(though I love your pic of that big lug of a dog with his xword neckerchief too...)
Do I have a namesake there? Wow! I'll have to arrange to pick up a dozen eggs once she(?) gets started...

Puzzle? Nice to salute Clara Barton. Maybe there could have been more Red Cross-related fill?

Liked ABU/DUBAI, Forage storage...

But that NW corner - how many abbvs is too many? Has anyone ever constructed a puzzle with nothing but abbvs??

Old Al 11:41 AM  

That's weird. I am a syndicated solver and so, when I called up this web site before going to my puzzle, I was amazed to see that 1 Across was what I had just filled in for the syndicated puzzle of March 8.

John V 12:01 PM  

@Chefbea: 34 in Charlotte this morning. Playing tennis in CT Saturday and looking forward to that.

Mel Ott 12:08 PM  

Is it asking too much of the constructor to put at least one real word into the NW corner? It's one proper name plus a bunch of abbreviations, mostly initials. The other corners are pretty bad too.

I think he's mixing money slang. $100 is a C-Note. $1000 is One G. Not ONE C or a G-Note.

One good aha moment at XEROSIS. Oh I get it - the prefix in xerography means 'dry'. Nice.

Thanks, @Z.

sam 12:11 PM  

Anyone else notice the cross in the middle of the puzzle? Nice addition.

acme 12:20 PM  

Doncha know that Minnesotans would no more "fire back" than they would take the bait on an Evil Doug roiling!

@annie d
Words to live by! It's changed my life...and cleaned out my ears.

Crazy cool Clara Barton story! That's what I always hope for on this blog!

Also, I'd immediately buy stock in Best Business Brands if they have figured out how to read the capchas with their spambots! That's a company worth investing in!

Yup, Someone did 12:23 PM  

@Sam - Right next to the picture of Clara Barton in Rex's writeup:

"A pretty thin theme mildly enhanced by 1. intersecting theme answers and 2. a shape in the middle. Honestly, I couldn't even see a theme until I was nearly done. It's not like I haven't (many times) seen grids with crosses in the middle of them. "

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

Tho' the ESSENCE of this one was LEXICAL
Some thought BARBQ and ONEC nonsensical
Rex said "Who's AMI BLUE?"
And "Ugh!" to ORNE, OREAD and ABU
But that's just Rex being Rexical.

Happy Birthday to David Letterman who is 65 today!

Masked and Anonymous 1:10 PM  

Wanted a Letterman theme.
Like the grid layout. Too bad they can't do color. Maybe once they get fully automated.

Fave row: 14th. Vowel-extravaganza.
Fave column: 15th. Vowel-conservation.

David 1:50 PM  

Like @archaeoprof, had the hots bigtime for Veronica HAMEL back in my teenage days watching Hill Street Blues. Although she is the only Veronica actress I know, I still held off on writing her in until about 3/4ths of the way completed.

And like @Evan, also tossed in IBN before ABU, a mistake I hope never to replicate now that I know definitively what both mean. Also wanted RADNESS for BADNESS at first, but once DUBAI became clear in that toughish NE corner I was all set with what was a fun puzzle with lots of solid 7 letter answers overshadowing some bleah 3 and 4 letter entries.

Bird 1:53 PM  

Big DNF today. This was not in my wheelhouse. I got the theme, 2 corners and nothing else. Did someone say the fill was ARCANE? I also say it was U-G-L-Y and ain’t got no alilbi. A lot of the clues were too vague for me to know the answer right away and the neighbors were of no help.

At least tomorrow is one more day closer to the weekend.

@JenCT – Adorable. Have they started reading CHICKLIT yet?

@Best Business Brands – Any relation to the Better Business Bureau?

Happy Birthday David Letterman!

Masked and Anonymous II 1:53 PM  

P.S. @JenCT: Only 1 out of 3 chicks is lookin' at the crossword today. QED.

jae 1:59 PM  

The robot test makes it tough to preview on my iPad so I'm mostly just posting. This is my excuse for not spelling dinner with 2ns.

dk 2:06 PM  

@jenct, does this mean puzzles are chic lit.

✚✚ (2 Crosses) Can't make them red.

Sparky 2:10 PM  

It all fell into place with AMERICAN. NW corner annoying. Had CIA before NSA, shORT before ABORT, BADNEwS. As always, they work themselves out.

Beautiful quilt @quilter1. Tip of the hat for QTIP @Acme. Thanks again. @JenCT. Warm fuzzies from Aunty Pat. @Rex. If you would watch "Sita Sings the Blues" you would see wonderful animation and hear Annette Hanshaw sing "Am I Blue" in her non Betty Boop voice.

Thanks Mr. Shteyman for a tribute to a great woman.

quilter1 2:13 PM  

@archeoprof: Thanks!
@JenCT: cute chicks. This quilt took about two months to complete the top, but I didn't work on it everyday. I know I have over 100 hours in it. And it is a relatively easy pattern. I had it machine quilted as it is so large. Then did the binding myself. Niece was thrilled.

JenCT 2:38 PM  

Thanks everyone - "Chick lit," I like it!

@quilter1: nice job!

@Tita: fresh eggs, made daily - c'mon up, anytime.

Lewis 2:50 PM  

Had a tough time with this one. For a long time had SPRAYER instead of AERATOR, learned OREAD, had FLORIDA before ALABAMA, put TOPCOAT for LABCOAT, and it just felt like a slog. Eventually worked it out with a bit of cheating.

But don't get me wrong -- I do like a challenge and thus liked this puzzle. It's good to be reminded of CLARA BARTON every once in a while! I did like the clues for 38A and 27A.

That is a gorgeous quilt, Quilter!

Tita 2:51 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tita 3:05 PM  

@quilter1 - indeed, that is a beautiful quilt. What a wonderful talent you have.
I should hope your niece was beyond thrilled!!

Al Gore 3:40 PM  

Late to the party, but I just needed to add my two cents. Yes, the executive branch has multiple and viable 'checks' on the judiciary branch of government.

Say there was a contested election and the Supreme Court decided to step in to skirt the protocols for determining the true winner. Hell, the President just steps in an over-rules the Supreme Court!

Worked real well for me.

Renoite 3:53 PM  

Thanks Rex for the Tom Waits video - the essence of American badness (I so wanted badass'd) who undoubtedly knows a bit about Stoli and the last cigarette ads on TV... ah, if he'd only tour again soon!

RE: 60A, we teach our students that Battle Born is the official nickname of Nevada, as it joined the union in 1864 during the civil war, on the North's side, but it is AKA the Silver State for obvious economic reasons.

Our pet peeve: that people east of Oklahoma refuse to pronounce the state with it's short a sound (like valley, vantage, valedictorian, vary, vacuum), instead choosing the open ah (vaunt, vonage, volley) which sets our teeth on edge. Fine, if you want to pronounce the entire mountain range in Spanish while rolling your R's in Sierra, and making the v sound like b and the d like "the" when saying Nevada, then by all means use the ah sound as in father. Otherwise, short a! Thanks kindly.

mac 3:56 PM  

@ArtLvr: what a wonderful story.
@quilter: what a beauty.
@JenCT: how's my godchild doing?

@David: hand up for Ibn and radness, but not for long. This puzzle seemed easy to me, so much so that I didn't really notice the cross or the theme. How sad is that.... I did enjoy some of the clues especially, though.

sanfranman59 4:00 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)

Thu 16:06, 18:56, 0.85, 22%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 8:40, 9:19, 0.93, 41%, Medium

Masked and Anonymous's Last Silver Bullet 4:07 PM  

@quilter1: PuzSpouse says nice quilt. She observed that there were lots of "flying geese" in it. Me, I don't speak quilt -- but thought it pleasingly colorful.

Over at xwordinfo, they've got a pinkish cross on today's grid. Looks mighty good.

Anyone mention that this puz was a 72-worder? Always a challenge to produce, for a themed jobber.

Maybe all 3 chicks are working the puz, but 2 are consulting Google. So, better cancel my QED.

Curious 4:23 PM  

@Renoite - In pronouncing Nevada, which 'a' is short and which 'a' is open?

And how do pronounce your name? Like the black gold Old Jed found in the ground or like an Italian sounding wine? (I know it's parsed as Reno-ite, I'm just messin' with ya)

foodie 6:06 PM  

@Artlvr-- I love your story!

ArtLvr 7:02 PM  

Thanks to acme, mac and foodie! Ir's a haunting tale...

Renoite 7:38 PM  

@Curious: reno-ite like dyn-o-mite :) tho I love good Old Jed!

Good call on which "a sounds" go where - oops! I was concentrating on the first a being the short a... but there are NO open ah sounding a's anywhere in Nevada.

Out here we pretty much say:
- Nuh VAD uh (1st a short like cat and rising, 2nd a like amount) rhymes with "nun had a"
- instead of Nev(ahhh)dah which rhymes intifada or empanada

So goes another Thursday...
The sun had a
rug pad, the
nun's sad - huh -

michael 8:49 PM  

Glad to see that I am not alone in wondering if Clara Barton was on the Titanic....

Dog E Style 10:36 PM  

Kristoff has me off eggs. My cholesterol level will thank him at next check.
-NYT junkie

sanfranman59 1:08 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 6:16, 6:49, 0.92, 17%, Easy
Tue 8:59, 8:52, 1.01, 61%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 8:33, 11:49, 0.72, 2%, Easy (3rd lowest median solve time of 145 Wednesdays)
Thu 16:26, 18:56, 0.87, 24%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:19, 3:40, 0.91, 12%, Easy
Tue 4:36, 4:35, 1.00, 58%, Medium
Wed 4:33, 5:52, 0.78, 3%, Easy (5th lowest median solve time of 144 Wednesdays)
Thu 8:33, 9:18, 0.92, 40%, Medium

Lola505 2:19 PM  

Yikes! I agree with Rex on today's puzzle. Should I be worried? (Just playin' with ya, Rex).

I was a volunteer for the American Red Cross for 14 years, so this was a good one for me.

Too many middle eastern clues for my comfort zone, but I did manage to work 'em out.

Purchased the puzzle pack from the Crosswords LA Tournament, so I'll have some fun for the weekend. Anyone else?

Coach Metress 2:21 PM  

Love the Waits video makes doing the puzzle extra special.

Solving in Seattle 3:07 PM  

@ACMe, I don't think Clara Barton went down at all.

@Evan 1:04am, OK, I'll rename Washington "BajaBC."

All you Real-Timers, 46A may be the abbr. for "EXECutor." My legal take on the clue.

My first fills were the theme answers. I don't know why, but they jumped out at me. Got hung up in Maine, just like @ACMe. Wanted 9D to be catNESS. (Just loved "The Hunger Games.") Got XEROSIS on crosses, he said puffing out his chest. Only question to Rabii Google was DESMOND, so I guess I cheated.

Capcha: oionica Infinduc. Latin for dude, you got serious halitosis.

Cary in Boulder 4:28 PM  

@AC Minaret "Did CLARABARTON go down on the Titanic??!!" No, she just gave it a hand job. OK, smack me. I just couldn't resist.

Kept looking to make sure this was really Thursday. Expected some knee-buckling rebus to throw me off. It all fell pretty easily except for the hairball I coughed up in the NW. Is AOL still a giant? Do you know anybody who still uses them? Govt. alphabet soup stumped me. TSA? MIA? WTF? Had MED as a possibility for ATL. No idea about Putinka (though the suggestion of Putin's daughter is great). But the worst was having _ _NETAR in place and no idea what could precede that. La de dah.

Dirigonzo 5:08 PM  

I just returned to being a regular blood donor after a medical hiatus so the theme was timely for me.

Fenway Park opened on April 20, 1912 - can hardly wait to see if it got a puzzle of its own.

I inexplicably had tSA at 1a and so finished with an error - no idea why I didn't see that mistake; perhaps it was because I imagined that Casablance overlooked Italy (iTL), which produced tiACP and that seemed like a plausible group to give Image Awards.

Dirigonzo 5:12 PM  

@Cary in Boulder - I meant to add that I just wrote a post on my blog yesterday wondering about AOL - I kind of miss that "You've got mail!" sound.

Spacecraft 6:03 PM  

Strange that today's offering--NOT a pangram (no J)--seems much more forced than yesterday's. I hate EXEDOUT to begin with, but actually, all the high-count Scrabblies look out-of-place. Viz:

In the NE we have BAR written out followed by the last two letters of BBQ, the usual abbreviation. That, crossing the hackneyed QTIP.

Then in the SW there's a drive-by Z sighting: the car ISUZU, the gun UZI. Weird.

And finally, The aforementioned abomination at 43d, crossed by EXEC clued as "Judiciary checker: abbr." And juXtapositioned with that is another X!


connie in seattle 7:53 PM  

Clara Barton went down on the Titanic while eating an Oreo.

Solving in Seattle 9:54 PM  

@Connie, I get the email updates of postings and I was sipping a glass of wine when I opened your post and spewed, thankfully, white wine on the table. Too funny!

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