Famed batter in 1888 poem / WED 4-11-12 / Muckraker Tarbell / TV host with college degree in speech therapy / Radical Mideast group / Rangers on sports ticker

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Constructor: David Kwong

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium



THEME: Three Strikes — Clue [Strike] is used for three answers, with a tie-in to the poem "CASEY at the Bat" (38A: Famed batter in an 1888 poem) and the phrase "NO JOY IN MUDVILLE" (from the poem's penultimate line) (58A: Result of three strikes for 38-Across)


Word of the Day: PLEB (32D: Commoner) —
n.
A commoner; a plebeian.


[Short for PLEBEIAN, or perhaps back-formation from PLEBS.]


Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/pleb#ixzz1rh8HWm4E
• • •

Well I didn't care for this at all, but at least it's a passable puzzle. Coherent theme, plausible answers for [Strike], semi-interesting revealer. I was briefly confused when I got the revealer and thought "strike out? But strike is in the clues? Is something being taken out? ... no, I'm just making that up." Definition answers are always dull, and the fill and clues in general here are particularly dull. Maybe if the pangram (a pointless, joyless goal) hadn't been so important, things could've been punched up a little. There's CHICKLIT (4D: Women's fiction, slangily) and then ... the rest. Anyway, this puzzle happened. Tomorrow is another day.


Strikes:
  • MILITARY ASSAULT
  • LABOR PROTEST (I had PROBLEM at first)
  • BOWLING SCORE
Scintillating.

Bullets:
  • 11D: One in a mint? (UNUM) — this is my favorite clue (though not my favorite answer), and the one part of the puzzle that slowed me down. I somehow went with REDO over UNDO (16A: "Go back," on an edit menu) at first, and that didn't help matters up there.
  • 33D: TV host with a college degree in speech therapy (LENO) — still not funny.
  • 59D: Muckraker Tarbell (IDA) — Crosswordese royalty. I do like the word "Muckraker."

  • 25D: Religious mosaic locale (APSE) — I had no idea APSEs were known for their mosaics. I don't spend a lot of time in APSEs. Or QUAINT Disney shops, or ZALES, for that matter.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

92 comments:

pk (aka the Billingsgate Pheasant) 12:18 AM  

What? No joy in Rexville? After yesterday's "adequate to unfortunate" experience, I thought this was a breath of fresh air.

Was a little jarring to encounter Hamas at 1D, but after that, smooth sailing.

Had "How did I know that?" written in the margin for 59D - thx Rex for explaining how I did.

jae 12:27 AM  

Easier than yesterday's for me.  Only erasure was PEON for PLEB.  Zippy theme.  Unlike Rex I liked it.  Any puzzle with NOJOYINMUDVILLE gets my vote.

The  LENO clue seems vaguely familiar.

And, what qualifies as CHICKLIT??  Is it limited to bodice rippers or does stuff like Clan of the Cave Bear and Hunger Games count?   

Tobias Duncan 12:47 AM  

This has to be my fastest Wednesday. I beat my Monday time by almost 20 seconds.
To give you some idea how long I have been a sports hating jerk, I will tell you as briefly as I can about the first time I heard Casey at Bat.
It was grade school and we had a substitute teacher who thought it would be a treat to stray from the lesson plan and read us his favorite poem. About the only poetry I enjoyed back then was Shel Silverstien and Kipling.
This tool knew the entire poem by heart and proceded to give us the hammiest rendition ever foisted upon an unwilling group of children in history. Apparently I must have been rolling my eyes or something because he asked me when he was done why I looked so bored. I remember unleashing a tirade about like the ones I deliver here and his face just fell.
I remember feeling bad about it but also being so angry about that crappy poem that I could not stop myself.
I think some of us are born just about fully formed with no hope of change or growth.

pk 12:53 AM  

@jae - I was also (mildly) offended by "Chicklit" - WTH does that really refer to, after all? Then again, my house backs up to a men-only golf course. Can you even believe that such a thing exists in these United States? Guess they are Augusta wanna-bees.

litionic ferpoi

Evan 1:46 AM  

@ Tobias:

I too smashed my personal record for a Wednesday. It felt way easier than either yesterday's or Monday's installment. I even had one of those moments where I started filling in a theme answer without reading the clue -- as soon as I had NO JOY in 58-Across, I just threw down the rest and checked it afterwards. I didn't think any other answer could plausibly work there except for the one I knew from "CASEY at the Bat."

This almost felt like two puzzle themes jammed into one. Three long theme answers were definitions of the word "strike," which I thought would be a replay of a 2011 NYT puzzle in which the theme answers were different definitions of the word "bolt." But then the middle CASEY appeared, and then it became a play on the popular baseball poem.

Speaking of which, my first exposure to "Casey" wasn't from the original poem at all, but rather the 80s-era "Tall Tales & Legends" TV special adaptation starring Elliott Could, Carol Kane, and Howard Cosell.

@ Rex:

Your glib note on LENO brought back to mind the Leno/Conan fiasco which for some reason I've been thinking about a lot lately. I couldn't help but notice that despite NBC's ultimate preference that Leno be given back the Tonight Show, it was Conan who really had the public behind him, not to mention the support of a far more loyal fan base. I can recall seeing plenty of colorful "I'm with Coco" signs passed around on the internet during that time, but how many of us can say the same for Leno? It's not even a question for me which of the two is funnier -- Conan in a landslide -- and even if TV ratings suggested that Leno had a wider audience than Conan, it's pretty clear to me that Conan's audience is a lot more passionate about Conan than Leno's audience is about Leno.

Anoa Bob 1:51 AM  

Theme felt jarringly inconsistent with the first three entries being simple definitions of "strike" and then the fourth switching to "three strikes" to set up a line from a poem that is referenced elsewhere in the grid.

Am I missing something or did this puzzle change horses in midstream? (Or would that be latestream?)

Thought 4D CHIC LIT had some sparkle so had hopes for its counterpart at 40D, but FUEL LINE brought NO JOY. And I'm a gearhead.

The highlight tonight is the first word in the captcha, "foructed".

Analyze Caruso Messy 1:54 AM  

Oh! Didn't realize it was a pangram, thanks for pointing that out!
Contrary to M. parker, I'd argue CHICKLIT, QUID/QUAINT, ANALYZE/ZALES, ONYX/TEX and NOJOYINMUDVILLE (15!) is the best part of this puzzle!

I think he's still moody about yesterday, because three STRIKES + CASEY + NOJOYINMUDVILLE is a fabulous idea, well-executed and holds together!

My only blech is reading down HAMAS, PLEB, ANOS but I've got to say this puzzle, if not a homerun, is a solid double or triple!
(Whew, I'm exhausted trying to come up with an apt baseball metaphor.)

And, @ Tobias, I'd almost suggest this puzzle could have stood a few more baseball references...where are the ALOU brothers and Mel OTT today???!!!

And i liked the more contemporary cluing of CARUSO, since it could have skewed old...thaaaat's all YOLKS!

Octavian of Oslo 1:58 AM  

I like almost every puzzle but this one left me cold.

Unless I am missing something, I don't understand why 58A is a "revealer." It doesn't reveal anything. There is no connection between the three types of strikes, and no connection to baseball.

The three theme answers are dull as dirt and the only interesting misdirection was ONE IN A MINT.

Let me suggest a new way to clue OLAF/OLAV:

-- ''King who was a member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg'' (OLAV V)

-- ''Royal born in the UK to King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway.'' (OLAV V)

-- ''King who started 400 years of rule of Norway from Denmark at age 5.'' (OLAF II)

Maybe a clever constructor could create a "ladder" puzzle consisting solely of OLAFs and OLAVS and OTTOS and LEOS of various vintages and numbers. Potentially ending with the Mexican favorite along these lines, clued "Bullfight ring shouts," OLES!

Ooh la la, Olay, oho, oh dear.

chefwen 2:37 AM  

Have to go with Andrea on this one, I really liked it. STRIIKE, STRIIKE, STRIIKE, yer out CASEY. Thought it was clever and cute, then again, I am easily amused.

Two minor write overs - inre before ATTN at 25D, serf before PLEB at 32D.

Thank you Mr. Kwong for an enjoyable solve.

These capchas are not so enjoyable. Grrr!

retired_chemist 3:50 AM  

My religious mosaics started in ACRE, which for all I know has some despite Wikipedia's not mentioning them.

An adequate but unmemorable puzzle. Didn't like the clue for FATS (40A). Molecularly, some are saturated, some not. No fat is "sometimes saturated." Now a FATSO may be sometimes saturated, but that's a different story.

Trying to download Lion (OS 10.7.3) from the App Store before 6 AM CDT when my free download period expires. Touch and go whether I make it. Didn't last night.

Deb 3:52 AM  

Another hand up for Andrea's take. Loved it. I'm sure that's at least partially due to the fact that my Dad read a lot of poetry to my sister and I as kids. I don't recall Casey at the Bat being part of his repetoire, but when I endeavored to emulate my father with my own kids, it became part of mine.

Tobias, I think perhaps you're letting your own rigid definition of yourself interfere with your ability to just relax and take things as they come. I find sports incredibly boring, too, but there is much to appreciate about the joy and carmaraderie they foster in a community. (Full disclosure: My husband is a die- hard Bronco's fan, so I was forced to become more open to the culture.)

Still haven't seen a captcha I can define, but tell me there's not something inherently scatalogical about this one...
Mplage nyingomp

JaxInL.A. 6:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wreck Sparker 7:37 AM  

@pk said "I was also (mildly) offended by "Chicklit" - WTH does that really refer to, after all?" Try reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Then you'll understand the meaning of CHICKLIT. Wildly popular with women but I doubt any man has managed to finish it.

John V 8:12 AM  

Liked it, too. Like@Acme, liked the theme, which was fun and worked well. Great fill, esp with such theme density. Brilliant pangram: no forced fill to make that happen, which is terrific construction.

Favorites here: 37a Carnival follower, had me thinking the usual suffix trick, so great indirection and great answer, Lent (Mardi Gras); 50A Whites countepart, YOLKS, great clue/answer combo.

So, pretty easy for a Wednesday, felt like a challenging Monday at most, but a whole lot of fun and a great piece of construction. Congrats and thanks, Mr. Kwong.

dk 8:12 AM  

Here in Wisconsin we spell it CHICLIT. Sigh brings back memories of the Beech-Nut plant in Canajoharie, NY and the ad line "Buy Beech-Nut Buy Gum."

Also for years you could not buy OLEO here as we are the dairy state -- don'tcha know.

TEAT yesterday and BRA today - perhaps the theme of the week is support networks, time will tell.

This puzzle is a fine Tuesday puzzle. How about we just take the lot of these easy but fun Wednesday and just demote them one day? It would bring joy to Puzzleville. Anyway:

⚾⚾ (2 Baseballs) Nice one David but if Tobias' fastest Wednesday is a sports themed puzzle...

foodie 8:18 AM  

This one made me smile. Lord knows I'm no sports lover, but NO JOY IN MUDSVILLE is a great expression that I use in my head once in a while, so it has to be very common in the US. And it was a great bit of expectation switcher if you solve from top to bottom-- the very neutral, bland definitions of "Strike", none of which involving baseball BTW, and THEN the baseball meaning of strike embodied in CASEY and the revealer. Fantastic!

And CHICKLIT was great. It made me stop and look for the name of the constructor and give a silent applause.

@ Tobias-- your statement "I think some of us are born just about fully formed with no hope of change or growth" made me smile. Actually it reminded me of a quote I use in talks at times: "We are all born mad. Some remain so" (Estragon from Waiting for Godot). Not that I think you're mad, as I agree with you :) Just the part about remaining the same type of person. It does seem to be truer for some people than for others.

Sue McC 8:21 AM  

Just a big old MEH, that's what this was.

John V 8:28 AM  

@Foodie and @Tobias: My first piano teacher introduced me to the adage, "People don't get older, they only get more so." Scares me to death when I look in the mirror :)

jberg 8:35 AM  

I liked it fine. For those who don't seem to see it, the theme is three strikes, which constitute a strikeout - what Casey did. So it all hangs together, and any Alous, AROD, Otts, etc. would have diluted it.

As for the pangram - I like them as much as the next person, and more than Rex, but in this case it would have been lovely either to have all the letters but K (the symbol for strike, for you sports-haters), which would have made it 'strike out.'

Of course, X is the symbol for strikes in bowling, but this is a baseball puzzle after all.

@DK I grew up in Wisconsin (1945-1964), and we could buy OLEO, it just wasn't butter-colored. You got this white stuff and a little packet of food coloring you had to mix in yourself. Eventually my parents found a way to smuggle it in from Michigan by the case. Today I wouldn't touch the stuff.

joho 8:47 AM  

Loved NOJOYINMUDVILLE and especially how it made the otherwise mundane strike-related answers turn into a complete and sparkling theme. So much fun!

I also didn't notice that this was a pangram until @Rex mentioned it which supports the fact that the fill isn't forced to make it happen.

Great job, thank you, David Kwong!

Matthew G. 9:01 AM  

Loved it. Admittedly, I'm a sucker for anything baseball, but I thought this was pretty good even aside from that. Monday-through-Wednesday themes rarely shine, and so I think define-the-same-word-multiple-ways themes are as good as any others. They probably lead to better entries.

Got NO JOY IN MUDVILLE with no crosses and a big grin on my face. Thumbs up!

jesser 9:10 AM  

This one was more difficult for me than others found it. Like Rex, I had reDo before UNDO at 16A, but I also had diaS before ANOS at 53D and Peon before PLEB at 32D, thereby making muck of the Left Coast before the crosses began to force me back to re-ANALYZE those answers.

Once I fixed those, it fell reasonably easily, and I liked the reveal just a whole lot.

I gotta scoot to do radio shows. If you're online and bored, go to 101gold.com, and you should see me walk in shortly before 8 a.m. MST.

Happy Hump Day!

Gill I. P. 9:11 AM  

I'm wondering if omitting the J and making this a Tuesday might have made this more likeable?
QUAINT/QUID is wonderful to say and it looks good right up there and not too far from BIB/FATS.
I have no problem with CHICKLIT since I've read many in my day. One of my favorites was the "Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette."
I like LENO in the new Burger King commercial where he drives inside with his corvette.
A fun Tuesday pangram (yay) puzzle Mr. Kwong.

jackj 9:18 AM  

Something is definitely amiss at puzzle headquarters when a lovely Monday crossword like todays is submitted to us as Wednesday difficult.

Beyond the “strike” theme answers, (which are not overly scintillating), there are some lively entries like QUAINT, QUID, BUYUP, LOGOFF, ANALYZE and the headliner of the puzzle, CHICKLIT.

But then, as the ambidextrous economist said, “on the other hand”, there are far too many familiar crossword regulars like OLAF, BRA, APSE, SOS, OLEO, ARNO, ENE, etc, etc, etc. which, when coupled with entries like FUELLINE and ZALES, don’t add much extra sparkle to the puzzle.

(Also, HENCE and HERETO make one wonder if David Kwong is an attorney and, if so, why is he promoting punishment using the dreaded CANE?)

On balance there was JOY IN this solve, (if not IN MUDVILLE), but, sadly, without even a hint of a struggle it’s only mid-week comfort food.

(But props for kicking off the baseball season with a tip of the hat to one of the games great literary traditions).

chefbea 9:22 AM  

Thought the puzzle was great.

At first had coin for 11D. Didn't we have oleo yesterday?

@poster at 7:37 love your name!!!

Z 9:29 AM  

As I was one of the (reported)21,000 people watching the Tigers win in snow flurries yesterday, as well as taking in an Asheville Tourists game this past Friday while in NC, I appreciate baseball themed puzzles. The three theme answers did lack sparkle by themselves, but tying them together with CASEY in the center and NO JOY IN MUDVILLE is a nice piece of construction. Add that this is a pangram with nary a forced answer and my appreciation grows.

Lindsay 9:48 AM  

Really really like NO JOY IN MUDVILLE. I am quite certain that if free agents had existed in 1888, the Red Sox would have signed Casey.

@Tobias --- my born-fully-formed memory is getting tossed out of a kindergarten gym class because I refused to curtsy to a boy in some @#$%^&* line-dancing exercise.

Howard B 9:50 AM  

Pretty harsh on the puzzle today, Rex. Not saying right or wrong, because that would be ridiculous and pointless. It's all subjective. But pretty harsh nonetheless :).

I didn't think it was so bad. Nice little reveal at the end.
My trouble was mostly just making inane typos throughout the whole thing (Of course HAAMS is a Middle Eastern group!).

archaeoprof 9:56 AM  

Who could possibly not like this delightful puzzle?

I guess some of us are just born that way, and get more so...

Rob C 10:12 AM  

Based on today's write-up, I think Rex was born more so and is becoming even more so.

karl 10:12 AM  

meh...perhaps the constructors are collaborating on a 5-day homonym theme..."weak week"

orangeblossomspecial 10:13 AM  

Whenever I see 8D, I think of 'Harper Valley PTA', the classic about prejudice.

Thanks to @Octavian for the alternative clues for 62A. Here's another: 'You ought to hear OLAF laugh'.

Harry Owens composed numerous Hawaiian classics, including 'To you sweetheart ALOHA' (14A).

loren muse smith 10:20 AM  

I liked this puzzle, and I can see why people feel like there are two themes going on here. But with @jberg’s “the theme is three strikes, which constitute a strikeout - what Casey did. So it all hangs together...” I think I buy into that.

@ Joho -right – the fact that it doesn’t scream pangram demonstrates its elegance.

@jackj – I, too, wondered if Mr. Kwong might be an attorney with HENCE and HERETO.

Hand up for “reDO” before UNDO. Never seen PLEB, just as I’d never seen BRONC.

I think my introduction to “Casey at Bat” was in a poetry book Dad had. We read “Casey,” I think, but we read “The Face on the Barroom Floor” and “The Kid’s Last Fight” a lot more.

Loved CHICKLIT and didn’t object to it. I dare anyone to underestimate someone carrying around one of those "Ya Ya Sisterhood…" books (can’t remember the title) or "The Nannie Diaries" or the like. (I don’t think I would count it CHICKLIT, but if you haven’t read "These is my Words" by Nancy Turner, run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore to get it.) And I know book titles should be underlined or in italics. And I know people here have told me how, but I can't seem to remember.

quilter1 10:22 AM  

I liked it.
If Leno has a degree in speech therapy, why does he still lisp?

Two Ponies 10:36 AM  

Okay puzzle but I am very distracted at the moment. I leave in the morning for two weeks in Belize. I'm very excited. Monkeys and parrots!

treedweller 10:42 AM  

easy-easy here. My only real slowdown was trying LOGOut at first.

OB nit: It's been said before, but LOAM denotes the size of soil particles, not the richness of said soil (which relates to organic matter content).

@Gill I.P. Ugh! I was here planning to say Leno now has a commercial where he drives into a restaurant, and it also is not funny. Maybe our difference of opinion is because I was diving for the remote as soon as I saw his chin coming and had the sound off before the "funny" part.

Z 10:46 AM  

@lms - less than sign, "i" or "u," greater than sign (just like it shows underneath the box where you type your comment) followed by the text you want italicized or underlined, followed by less than sign, slash, "i" or "u," greater than sign. TaDa.

loren muse smith 11:01 AM  

@Z I tried doing that, and these are the mean, hateful red words I received:

Your HTML cannot be accepted: Tag is not closed: I

I enjoy demonstrating my ineptness in such a public forum.

JenCT 11:07 AM  

@treedweller: that's a true definition of LOAM, but it's also a common definition that LOAM refers to a rich, friable soil, good for growing plants.

Liked this much more than @Rex.

Loved the clue/answer combo for Whites' counterparts/YOLKS.

Proud that I plunked FUEL LINE in right away (okay, so that wasn't that hard...)

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

Really surprised at the number of people who didn't seem to get the first strike -- second strike -- third strike connection.

Lihowis endibute

(isn't that one of Hermione's spells from Harry Potter

evil doug 11:12 AM  

Loren,

That's God's way of telling you not to mess around with small details like italics or boldface.

The 'u' for underlining didn't work for me either....

Evil

santafefran 11:12 AM  

Like @Tobias, I must be one of those fully-formed from birth sorts. I grew up in a family where Dad and brother constantly had baseball on the radio and my brother was an avid baseball card collector but none of it rubbed off on me. I hate baseball! That said, I like "Casey at the Bat", HENCE this puzzle was fine by me. I also like "Take me out to the ball game..." Go figure.

@Deb, count me as another wife married to a diehard Bronco's fan and general football junkie. I have absorbed way too much football info just through osmosis, I think.

Mad all the mistakes @jesser referred to but like him, sorted them all out.

captcha words out of season:
eighnoth icinis

Mighty Nisden 11:20 AM  

Absolutely loved this one.

@Tobias I am one of those who know this poem by heart. After watching a bit by Penn and Teller where Teller (I think he is the silent one)had to hold his breath in some wierd contraption while Penn recited Casey at the bat, I set myself to learning it. Comes in handy when you want to embarrass your kids somewhere. Which is well worth the effort.

Small nit where ISON and SATON cross. Two ONs? Same word not only in the same puzzle but crossing.

My spelling still kills me as it took forever to get ASSAULT as that U just didn't look right.

Have seen CHICKLIT a lot. Trying to sell a book (not CHICKLIT) and that word is used to describe a genre.

Leaving for a four day golf trip tomorrow! Woohoo!!

Mel Ott 11:23 AM  

No surprise that I loved this puzzle. Nice timrly theme - really well-executed.

The poem is corny of course, but James Earl Jones' rendition is really good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-2lXQQcXb8&feature=player_embedded

loren muse smith 11:38 AM  

@ Evil -

show off

@Z -

Thanks

Tobias Duncan 11:41 AM  

@ACME You are breaking my heart... :'-(

@ Lindsay No human should ever be forced to curtsy

@Mighty Nisden I am a HUGE Penn and Teller fan. So much so that I spent about ten minutes talking to him on the phone for an internet call in show about a month ago.We talked about our mutual love of Tim Minchin.


@santafefran I knew there must be a good reason why I like you so much.

jesser 11:53 AM  

I wish we had a 'like' button for individual comments. I'd be wearing that sucker out today.

Mighty Nisden 11:58 AM  

@Tobias - Very cool. I watch them whenever I can... which is not often enough. It always seems I just miss them or see the last couple of minutes.

Masked and Anonymo7Us 11:59 AM  

@31-san: Really highly liked your bullet choices:
- UNUM: U-heavy, bolstering puz's U-count to 7. Tough to do, when also hitting for the A-Z cycle. Outstanding clue.
- LENO: Agree. I'm a Letterman dude.
- IDA: Part of the Icoulda Iwoulda Ishoulda declention. mUckraker Is a gritty word. @IMDBud: Wasn't it also a Bond flick? (Also: Ever seen a schlock flick called "Idaho Transfer"? Weird to the max. Not 1987, unfortunately -- sorry, 31.

Not my fave kind of puz theme here, but the NOMUDINJOYVILLE punch line was quite nice, altho pretty predictable, post-CASEY-get.

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Pretty decent I thought. The clues and the reveal were decent.

Sigmund 1:28 PM  

@Tobias, @Foodie @al I've experienced, and seen, people making profound changes in their lives, not just the facts of their lives but the nature of their lives. The salient point is that it's a difficult thing to achieve, and the perceived benefit must vastly outweigh the difficulty.

So, say you don't like sports. What would liking sports get you? It would make ten of the one hundred channels on your TV viable options when you just want to sit in front of the tube and be amused. It would add to your repertoir of inane conversations you could have with strangers. Neither of these seems to be enough of an inducement to need to change, and since not liking sports hurts you not in the least, why change?

Say you're an obnoxious jerk who has a reflexive need to disagree with everything and everyone, and this has left you disliked by everyone who's ever spent five minutes with you. Clearly, the benefits of not being such a person are there, but is it enough to scale the bar which caused you to be so in the first place? Can you dig up enough humility to recognize your flaws? For many their narcissism and arrogance is to great, for others not.

It's all a cost/benefit proposition, where the greatest cost is one's natural unwillingness to change.

jae 2:09 PM  

@Sigmund, foodie, Tobias et. al. The phase "natural unwillingness" seems to favor the "nurture" side of the debate. I believe the evidence is currently trending more to the "nature" side (foodie?). Id Est, some people are born a**holes and there is not much short of a brain transplant that they can do about it. I've been trying to explain this "hard wired phenomenon" to my grandaughter who has a very close friend who becoming an "obnoxious jerk" as she enters her teenage years.

Wood 2:25 PM  

Another record today. Something is going on. Either I'm getting better or Mr. Shortz is getting laxer. (LAXER heretofore only seen in crosswordese.)

Allow me to now come out of the closet as a sports-indifferent male. It feels similar in angst and gravity to coming out of the closet as a homosexual or an atheist (both of which I also am -- but I busted down those doors a long time ago).

It really is a handicap -- sports is one of the very few areas in which men can easily connect when they otherwise have nothing in common. When I find myself groping for topics of conversation with someone new (which is often), I wish with all my heart that I cared about sports. But I just don't, and I can't make myself. The passion spent on dissecting this or that aspect of this or that sport or team or player is just unfathomable to me.

I'm with @Tobias... it feels like the dominant culture values us less because we are missing this particular gene.

IMDb 2:30 PM  

Masked and Anon - The Bond film is "Moonraker" released in 1979 starring Sir Roger Moore as Agent 007.

"James Bond is back for another mission and this time, he is blasting off into space. A spaceship traveling through space is mysteriously hi-jacked and Bond must work quickly to find out who was behind it all. He starts with the rockets creators, Drax Industries and the man behind the organisation, Hugo Drax. On his journey he ends up meeting Dr. Holly Goodhead and encounters the metal-toothed Jaws once again."

However, there was a TV Movie in 2006 titled "Muckraker!". No further information is available other than the tagline, "He's The People's Michael Moore"

Bird 2:33 PM  

Nice smooth puzzle with just two corrections (STET for UNDO) so a positive change from yesterday. Great theme and use of it without a lot of forced, artless fill (I dislike ENE, and all the other directional combinations). Thank you David.

When I saw 56D, my first thought was ACER (as in tennis player). My second thought was oh boy, everyone’s gonna bitch about that. Nevermind. My other nit is the use of directions as fill

Of course Leno is funny, but a different kind of funny than Conan as each appeals to a different demographic. Conan’s got the younger and more animated crowd following him, hence the more vocal support. But IMO Letterman beats them both.

@Octavian – what do you mean when you say 58A has no connection to baseball?

The clue for 43A reminds me of Trading Places. Hilariously funny movie.

Happy Hump Day!

Louis Armstrong 2:52 PM  

You say OLAF, I say OLAV
You say OLEO, I say OLIO
You say ALLA, I say OLLA
You say AMEOBA, I say AMEBA
You say PLEB, I say PLEBE

Let’s call the whole thing off!

alan 3:58 PM  

Please explain 52down-emery.e

sanfranman59 4:06 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)

Wed 8:32, 11:49, 0.72, 2%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 4:36, 5:52, 0.78, 5%, Easy

Two Tuesday puzzles this week.

dk 4:15 PM  

@alan, so you take this here nail file or emery board and you....

@jberg, I stand corrected. You know a New Yorker moves to WI and, well as a know it all...

I am not even going down the behavior change path.

@two ponies, imagine standing in knee deep surf (maybe a little buzzed) you cast your line and a bone fish hits it. 5 minutes of excitement and you remove your barbless hook, drink a beer and do it again. I am jealous.

John V 4:15 PM  

@alan 2:50 Emery refers to emery board, a type of nail file. So, filing one's finger nail tip with an emery board reduces the tip.

jackj 4:30 PM  

Wood@2:25PM & Tobias, et al-

Roberta Smith in a recent "Critic's Notebook" column in the NY Times wrote-

"The obsessions of others are opaque to the unobsessed and thus easy to mock. Nascar, jazz, baseball, roses, poetry, quilts, fishing. If we're lucky we all have at least one."

Those sentiments keep me from railing about rap stars, operas and Star Trek characters. Perhaps they'll help others unhappy with sports clues.

oren muse 4:30 PM  

Very elated with my progress working today’s puzzle. However all the comments relative to the difficulty incurred in completing the puzzle – “should be a Monday or Tuesday”- took a bit of the wind out of my sails.

Since I played baseball most of my young life, I naturally liked the theme. After getting CASEY and NOFUNINMUDVILLE, the answers just started falling in. My only real trouble was the UNUM/AIMEE combination.

I really liked CHICKLIT once I understood the clue better.
Loren just explained to me what a pangram is. The things I’m learning here. . . Thanks!

Sparky 4:38 PM  

I'm with @acme, Deb, chefwen and all the others who liked it. When I saw 58a clue, hopped right up to 38a and both filled in. I use the themes to help solve. Since I am in no hurry I can roam around the grid. Of course the ultimate line, "Mighty Casey has struck out" gives you the three strikes.

Had LABORPROblem before PROTEST. Didn't notice panagram, never do. Don't like sports but have absorbed a huge amount over the years. Love sleeping with golf or baseball on the TV ZZZZZZZ.

Have good trips @TwoPonies and MightyNisden.

mac 4:47 PM  

Boo!

mac 4:49 PM  

Ha! It worked!
I don't know where it came from, but No Joy in Mudville just flowed out of my pentel.
Nice but very easy Wednesday, beautiful unforced pangram.

Anonymous 4:55 PM  

Easy Wednesday...more like a Tuesday. However, as a native Spanish speaker, I hate clues that omit the tilde...53D Calendario units, as it stands, means anuses in English NOT years...the correct Spanish word is años..what a difference a tilde makes and that's why answers utilizing them in English puzzles should be avoided....it should be a nono (not a ñoño which means something totally different)

foodie 6:25 PM  

@Sigmund, Tobias, John V, Jae-- Interesting discussion. Jae, let's see if I can respond without making you regret asking :) I'm very interested in understanding the brain biology of temperament. I believe there is a fundamental set of characteristics that we're born with that are not easy to change-- e.g. the propensity to be shy or anxious vs. adventuresome and risk taking. And that in turn affects how people, even our own mothers, interact with us, the kinds of experiences we seek (jumping from a helicopter?), and how these experiences shape our brains (exhilarating or terrifying?). So, it's impossible to disentangle nature from nurture on that one, as the innate tendency colors the way the environment impacts us.

But these general tendencies are not specific to anyone behavior-- hating sports or loving CHICKLIT... So, I agree that if a given behavior is not costly to the person, or is even reinforced, it will maintain or even become "more so". But if it is costly and painful, people can find ways around it. And I agree that it is demanding to learn new habits of mind, but people can rise to the occasion and feel great for having accomplished it.

In fact, in our research, we are very interested in opportune time windows during development, particular conditions, and even molecular interventions that can change those innate tendencies that may be particularly painful to some individuals-- such as vulnerability to high anxiety or severely depressive behavior. And there is hope!

Sfingi 6:50 PM  

DNF NE corner. Thus, I won't buy the NYT tomorrow.

Did not know AIMEE or UNUM, nor had any idea Disney would be QUAINT.

I absolutely can't stand watching Conan. I can listen to him from another room, but to watch his gyrations is impossible for me. He obviously secretly thinks himself handsome.
LENO is liked by everyone, but not loved. So, I catch the monologue.

@Sparky - I also sleep to golf on TV. They speak softly, if you wake up you see the stretch of the savannah, and they move very little. If it wasn't played in the sun, I might try it.

BTW - Bodice rippers (romance novels) are not CHICKLIT. I don't read either genre.

Sigmund 7:19 PM  

@Foodie - I was wrong ever so long ago and in doing so started all psychology down the wrong path.

Most of what I named as "mental disorders" are not so, they are remnants of our primal past in conflict with civilization. Your examples of shy & timid vs brave and outgoing aren't personality types per se, they are adaptations to living within our primal ape-like groups with one alpha male, one alpha female and a bunch of subservient offspring. We're born with these dicotomies ingrained within us, then try to live in a civilized world where they are, at best, of limited utility and, at worst, are counter productive.

Jae's grandaughter's nemesis is simply an alpha-female wannabe, given free reign to act out because there's no actual alpha-female around to smack her down. Primal instinct vs civiziled behavior breaks down from time to time.

santafefran 7:28 PM  

@Tobias:

"@santafefran I knew there must be a good reason why I like you so much."

And the fact that I like science fiction! :-)

Two Ponies 7:35 PM  

@ dk, That sounds so good. First week is the water and second week is the jungle.
@ Sparky, thanks for the good wishes.

acme 7:38 PM  

After many many many years of therapy and studying psychology for a time, I feel like I can attest to the fact that we totally view the world through our own take and color it and project it to match our individual "personalities" regardless of the environment we've been brought up in.
We can, however, modify, adapt, learn strategies to cope, surfacely change to ward off ill-consequences, etc. but i'm in the camp to think we are pretty hardwired and everyone filters whatever thru whatever prism.

So, @Tobias, don't mean to break your heart...I am not against sports, never have been...I'm against all-male clubs, assumptions about what is knowledge, obscurities where enlightenment exists, exclusion, and having to bump up against others' undealt with issues on a daily basis!

I applaud people like @foodie trying to understand the very root of cognitive processes so self-destructive or depressive behavior can be lessened...and suffering alleviated.

Having studied with BF Skinner, who unfortunately used his little time left on earth to chase me and other female students around a desk, (causing me to abandon thoughts of graduate school and graduate without honors in my department), I'm more Jungian than Freudian, and more Lennonesque than McCartneyed...
"Love love love, love is all you need..."
(and a puzzle with a nice theme!)

JenCT 9:02 PM  

@acme: I just came here to post my new avatar (of our day-old chicks), but that harrassment story makes me mad!!!

It sounds like you've more than made up for having skipped grad school. :-)

Anonymous 9:02 PM  

So, @Acme, I get everything you said, except why are you against all-male clubs. I don't begrudge all-female clubs. What I really dislike is all-hillbilly clubs....

JFC

Tita 9:21 PM  

What a terrible day to have no puzzle access except from my android...there was absolutely no joy in solving on this tiny screen...missed whatever joy did exist...and can certainly glean but little from the pensive comments here...
Maybe I'll have time to reread on a decent screen...

Why on earth would anyone solve on a phone!?

chefwen 9:57 PM  

@JenCT - Cute chicks, love the drop paper. Don't know who Kip is but I really love that you named one Sparky and another Tita. They will adore that, sweet.

JenCT 10:02 PM  

@chefwen: thanks! Kip is the name @mac suggested.

Yes, the fate of old crosswords...

foodie 10:03 PM  

@andrea said "everyone filters whatever thru whatever prism." I like this. I have not used the prism concept but it's really a good way to put it.

Yes, that Skinner story is pretty upsetting. I'm glad such behavior has become clearly unacceptable, though I wonder how many lives it has changed.

Still, Andrea, I definitely see how you use your native intelligence and perceptiveness coupled with your training in psychology in so many ways... from your sense of what is funny, to writing critiques that are substantive and thought-provoking yet kind, constructive and hilarious, to your creativity in naming. I watched you help my daughter in a naming challenge, and that was actually quite amazing to witness. You elicit so much by asking strategic questions and being both engaged and yet not controlling! You allow people to make their own discoveries. To me, that's the ultimate in generosity.

@Tobias, do you see where you took that NO JOY IN MUDVILLE discussion?

sanfranman59 10:49 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 6:16, 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)

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)

Lois 11:46 PM  

I'm glad someone defended Leno. I like him better than Conan or Letterman, and I do watch him. But I surely do agree that the whole affair was a fiasco, with everyone coming out of it worse than before although some were richer. My husband and I are over 60, and it's true that we can't bear to watch Conan any more, and have trouble with Letterman.

Also contrary to Rex, I liked the puzzle, though it was a bit too easy. Good, I was busy today.

Solving in Seattle 1:12 PM  

Anytime I solve a Wednesday NYT with no writeovers and no help from Rabii Google while eating my Grape Nuts, I say nice puzzle Mr. Kwong!

I liked the theme, and I like the RTers continuing discussion of sports themes.

What else I liked was @Z 9:29...

and @IMBd's answering an earlier post question about Muckraker/Moonraker. LOL! Good thing for James that Dr. Holly didn't have sharp teeth and iron Jaws!

The psychology discussion was intriguing. What do you suppose Evil Doug was like as a toddler?

@ACMe, you should have locked B.F. in a box.

@Mighty Nisden, hope the trip is to Bandon.

I realize this post to the Real Timers are like the tree falling in the forest.

Already on record as a Letterman fan. Something about Leno... meh.

Capcha: untrigne yrcsit. Something I did in my high school math class.

Ginger 1:47 PM  

Re Late Night Hosts...I often check out the guest line up and choose accordingly. I'll pass on the 'cute young things' promoting a movie. Some of the schticks they use are (to me) repulsive; like Leno's 'man in the street'. It seems he's making fun of ignorance. On the other hand, Jimmy Fallon had Obama on recently. Well worth staying up for.

@Diri - Speaking of BB...your Bosox are making baked beans of the hitless Mariners. BTW I saw a game at Fenway several years ago. Classic! Absolutely electric atmosphere.

@SIS Okay, we Syndilanders may be the stepchildrean here, but hopefully we are a viable and growing group of posters and lurkers too. You mentioned Bandon, I hear it's a great links venue, especially if you like a little wind.

Z 2:33 PM  

@SIS - Seeing as the Mariners kicked my Tigers around again this year, I can see why you like my comment. It seems to me that our troubles with Seattle go all the way back to 1984, when the Tigers 35-5 start was followed by getting swept by those PITA Mariners.

Spacecraft 2:49 PM  

When I saw today's puzzle I immediately thought "Poor Tobias." I hadn't realized what an impression his loathing of sports had made. Then I read his remark about being "fully-formed, with no hope of change," and I thought: self-criticism?

But he should know that this poem is a satire on the "importance" we have imprinted on the outcome of sport. To deprive a whole town of "joy" just because their team lost one game is ludicrous. That's what Thayer is showing us in this marvelously written cartoon (don't you picture cartoon drawings rather than flesh-and-blood guys when you read this?).

I think the theme is nicely done, and the fill is pretty lively. @Rex needs to take an anti-Grinch pill: creating a pangram is NOT a sin; rather, FORCING one is. This doesn't feel forced to me. Lighten up, Fearless One.

Solving in Seattle 2:54 PM  

@Ginger, I've been to Bandon twice now. Michael Keiser has truly created a world golf destination. And, yes, if you don't like to play in the wind, don't go. He sure has made Oregon proud.

Dirigonzo 3:09 PM  

Well, Mr. Kwong certainly got the prime-timers out in force to ANALYZE his little "3 strikes and you're out" puzzle (and themselves). I liked it just fine although I have a hard time viewing anything associated with Disneyland as "QUAINT".

Lobsters are best eaten while sitting on the shore, wearing as little as the sensibilities of your company will allow - BIBs are never appropriate as any errant spray can be washed off with a quick dip in the ocean.

As to Late Night Hosts, I don't watch any of them because they are on so, you know, late. (But I watch Jon Stewart on-line the next day).

@Ginger - your "absolutely electric atmosphere" can be viewed through another prism (I learned that from the comments above) to produce an image of rowdy drunks misbehaving in the bleachers. At least that's the view from the cheap seats.

@SiS - see, some prime-timers do read our comments and pop in to say hello from time to time.

Solving in Seattle 3:25 PM  

@Z, we Syndies are honored by the presence of a Real-Timer. As for the Mariners, Detroit seems to be one of the few positive road destinations. Who can figure?

@Diri, I agree about lobster - on the beach with clams, corn and cheap jug wine.

Z 4:08 PM  

@SiS - Just finished a sci fi short story about a colony ship that set off for Tau Ceti with a max speed of 1% C. Upon arrival 1200 years after leaving, the captains wake up from cyrogenic sleep to discover that humans are already at Tau Ceti. People had developed the technology to travel at 90% C. The captains decide not to wake the other colonists, choosing to take a faster ship and head for the Andromeda galaxy.

Some of the tension from the story is that the late arriving colonists are viewed as heroic by the inhabitants of Tau Ceti while feeling extreme disappointment at not getting to Tau Ceti first.

Honored? - I'm sure that displacement in time is not reason enough to feel "honored" by real-timers responding to comments. Now, can you get your Mariners to do to Cleveland what they did to the Tigers

Ginger 5:24 PM  

@Z and @SIS Oh (ouch) would that the Mariners could do to Cle, but alas, history is not on your, or our side.

Long suffering fan

Solving in Seattle 5:32 PM  

@Z & Ginger, I'll never forget the playoff? game about 10-12 years ago when the Mariners were at Cleveland and were leading by about 12 runs when the Indians scored like 14 runs in the bottom of the ninth and beat us. It's been awhile for us. Crowds at Safeco are down to ~20k per game.

Capcha: ulstF yerdat. A Danish playground insult.

Texas Solver 9:01 PM  

Probably no one will read this - tree/woods and all - but this is my first no google no cheat Wednesday. AND Rex rates as medium/easy. Woo hoo. ; )

Dirigonzo 9:43 PM  

@Texas Solver wrote: "this is my first no google no cheat Wednesday." Congratulations - if you hang out here for a while you'll be finishing Saturday puzzles before you know it!

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