Former congresswoman Bella / MON 4-9-12 / Synthesizer designer Robert / Quantum mechanics pioneer Robert / Mattress invaders / Deadly 1966 hurricane with Spanish derived name

Monday, April 9, 2012

Constructor: Nancy Kavanaugh

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: Tasty — theme answers begin with categories of taste:
  • SOUR GRAPES (17A: Negative reaction to failure)
  • SALTY LANGUAGE (23A: Sort of words that sailors are famous for) —whoa, is that the etymology? A sailor can be a "salt," so ... swearing = SALTY LANGUAGE??? If that is true, I did not know that.
  • BITTER ENEMIES (47A: Feuding families, e.g.)
  • SWEET TOOTH (57A: Sugar craving)
Word of the Day: GELID (18D: Icy cold) —
adj.
Very cold; icy: gelid ocean waters. See synonyms at cold.


[Latin gelidus, from gelū, frost.]


Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/gelid#ixzz1rUpj9J1w
• • •

What, no UMAMI phrase?


Not much to this one. First words related. I like SALTY LANGUAGE quite a bit. Everything else is just fine. Wife had never heard of GELID. I said it's one of those words I only ever see in crosswords, so I assume that's where I learned it. Nothing else in the grid seems out of the mainstream. I really don't like POLISH OUT (32D: Remove, as scratches on an auto), though it's clearly a real phrase. I'd've tried to make that POLISH OFF, though those Fs are hard to handle in a tiny corner like that. WINGSPAN (31A: It's about six feet for a turkey vulture) provides an interesting coincidence, as I am watching "Wings of Desire" tonight as part of my year-long Screening 1987 Project, wherein I watch nearly every movie that came out in 1987. Another movie that was part of this Project: "Superstar" by Todd Haynes, which tells the story of Karen Carpenter entirely with Ken and Barbie DOLLS (42A: Ken and Barbie). Also, I'm just finishing Patrick Rothfuss's "The Name of the Wind," which has featured at least one SMITHY that I can remember (46D: Horseshoe forger) (it's a big book).


No one should ever put "30 Rock" and "2 Broke Girls" that close together (including me) as they have nothing in common, funny-wise (40D: "2 Broke Girls" and "30 Rock"). Which is to say one is funny, and the other ... isn't. I know Bella ABZUG mostly because she makes a cameo in a Woody Allen movie, I think (22A: Former congresswoman Bella). I know NIELS Bohr (50D: Quantum mechanics pioneer Bohr) and INEZ (44A: Deadly 1966 hurricane with a Spanish-derived name) and MOOG (29A: Synthesizer designer Robert) and AMOS (2D: "Famous" cookie man) from years of doing crosswords. Actually, I know INEZ from my grandma (it's her name). BEDBUGS is creepily timely (10D: Mattress invaders). Wait ... are they still a problem? Haven't heard much about them since 2010. OK, I think that's all folks.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

93 comments:

jae 12:12 AM  

Taste buds well done!  Very smooth grid.  Only erasure was WELSH for NORSE.   Easy for me and a touch of zip... SPRITZ, BEDBUGS, SALTYLANGUAGE....

Nice one Ms. Kavanaugh !

And I really hope it's 30 Rock.

Anonymous 1:01 AM  

A smith is a horseshoe forger. A smithy is the place where a smith works. Bad clue.

PurpleGuy 1:36 AM  

Anonymous 1:01 - A person who works with and shapes metal objects can be referred to as a smithy.
The 2nd definition for smithy according to Wikipedia.

This was rather easy. Quite fast for me. I did know the origin for SALTY LANGUAGE,growing up on Long Island.

I liked the many Z's in the grid.

My brother has always been involved with antique automobiles, so I also knew POLISH OUT. I've watched him do just that many times.

Not much else to say.
Happy Monday all.

Shanti -
Bob/PurpleGuy.

mac 3:07 AM  

I was also looking for umami, that fascinates me.

Easy and quick, no write-overs, but I also paused at smithy, know it only as the place. Didn't see the clue for deist, it looks odd in the grid!

Capsize is beautiful! Nice puzzle.

Avia Casa Moocows 3:43 AM  

I swear to god, at first i thought the theme was "same first three letters going across/down":
CASk/CASa, AMOs/AMOo, SOUr/SOUp...and at the end SWEET/SWE

THEN i saw SOUR/SALTY...WING...and thought "wha?"

Liked the 3Zs (nice!) and that fun X as the last letter in the puzz

I loved SPRITZ, CAPSIZE, and ABZUG rhyming with SHRUG.

Not crazy about AMOO, GELID, and the abbrevs KOR/SWE in the same puzzle, but maybe I'm just BITTER not being included in this parade of women constructors!

Anonymous 3:44 AM  

Abzug!?!?!?

Giant WTF for a Monday. Maybe she was in the news a lot in the 70's or something and thats why she's in this puzzle but that's a hella obscure answer.

Rest of the puzzle was easy and alright enough for a Monday.

chefwen 4:16 AM  

Super easy typical Monday. One inane write over at 8D HEre YE before HEAR YE. DOH! I did like all the different taste buds going to work.

Made a terrific Chocolate Nut (pecan) Torte for our Seder which all the SWEET TOOTHed participants truly enjoyed.

loren muse smith 7:18 AM  

I haven’t been on this site very long, but as I finished this, I knew GELID would be the word of the day and that @jae would have the first comment. Feels like I’ve come home!

@Acme – you’re the one unpredictable one – sometimes really early, sometimes really late, sometimes not at all, but always cool posts. I had to go back and look at the CASK/CASA-same-first-two-letters-across-down thing. Great observation. Oh, and I liked AMOO.

Spot-on, smooth Monday, and it felt scrabbly enough that I found myself vaguely looking for a “q,” but then noticed no “f,” and Evil, no, I don’t think I’ve become someone obsessed with such things; I’m just so proud to have learned what a pangram is (and to throw around the word "scrabbly"). Feels like I’ve arrived, as it were.

@Chefwen – since you admitted “here” for HEAR, I’ll fess up to “soop” for SOUP, only because I was talking to someone while I was filling. Jeez Louise – I teach people how to use soup spoons! (There is a correct way to eat soup at a state dinner. Just let me know if you're headed to the White House, and I can give you a crash course.)

Fun consonant clusters with SPRITZ, SHRUG, and SHRED. WINGSPAN and BEDBUG were fun, too. Wonder what a BEDBUG’s WINGSPAN is.

After I finished, I stared at SIEGE forever, thinking I had goofed and it was “seige” as in “seize.” I really struggle with E I E I . . . OH!!!!!! Maybe I need more caffeine.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

Abzug was hard? Really? That was one of the biggest gimmes of the grid, I thought. She's been in the news a lot more recently than the 70s. Come on!

AnnieD 7:48 AM  

I remember Bella Abzug growing up. A gimme for me. She was well known for her boisterous style and always wearing hats.

see her on cover of Life mag here


Grumblegrumble...reading the captchas is one thing...having to rewrite them because the iPad wants to make real words out of them is another....grumblegrumble

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

But then again, I'm well versed in feminism, so maybe that's why it was a no brainer for me. Seriously though, a fun and easy Monday. Faster than my average, fifteen or so seconds over my fastest.

evil doug 7:51 AM  

Barbie? As Karen Carpenter? Must have done some heavy breast reduction surgery with an X-Acto knife. Or maybe they used Ken---closer to the right look. I would have started with one of those rubber skeletons I hang at Halloween, and applied a thin layer of rubber cement---Voila!

From the 'Wingspan Trivia Dept': Distance of the Wright Bros. first flight? 120 feet. Wingspan of my old 757? 124 feet.

Evil

Aristotle 8:06 AM  

I don't know about the rest of you, this one left a bad taste in my mouth.

joho 8:10 AM  

Easy, breeZZZy Monday with a cute, lipsmacking theme! But am I only who thought CAPSIZE near SIZE one SIZE too many? Or am I just picky?

Regardless, I liked it, thanks, Nancy!

Sue McC 8:12 AM  

Ack. Is getting ABZUG right off an age indicator? Ouch.

Fun, sassy Monday puzzle. Liked it very much. Only thing that would have made it better was an UMAMi appearance.

joho 8:12 AM  

Wow, didn't proof and should have, that's "But am I the only one who thought..." More coffee please!

JenCT 8:17 AM  

Fun puzzle, first thought was Hatfield/McCoys for 47a - that was, before I got the theme.

@loren: no useful wings on BEDBUGS (only vestigial ones) thank goodness!

ABZUG a gimme for me, too.

jberg 8:38 AM  

Easy and mostly fun - but I thought SWEET TOOTH was a little out of taste, the only theme answer where the flavor was literal rather than metaphorical. A very small quibble, though.

Even smaller - ERNS must be a variant spelling, surely? Usually we see ERNE. In any case, there oughta be a rule that you need to come up with a new definition, not the same old "sea eagle." You know, "fishy raptor," something like that!

As for Bella ABZUG, not only was she famous, but she's in puzzles all the time, bith that name - so learn her!

Orange 8:50 AM  

There's that opera aria about the cold hands. Rent? I mean, La Bohème. Che gelida manina, meaning "what a cold little hand." (I believe this song is about me.) Link goes to Pavarotti singing it.

But of course I learned GELID from crosswords and not from knowing Italian or opera.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

i absolutely loved the movie about the carpenters using barbie dolls. saw it at the museum of the moving image in NY and the movie is mesmerizing and unforgettable, emotionally involving and a tragic bio. it's amazing how the dolls become real as you are involved in the film. stood next to bella abzug at the village halloween parade years ago. she was outspoken. always wearing big hats. a ny character. nice monday puzzle.

JayWalker 8:54 AM  

Oh Rex, Rex, Rex - grumble, grumble, grumble. One does not "polish off" a furniture scratch. One "polishes out" a scratch. One "polishes OFF" a meal, for example. It means (in my lexicon) to finish something completely. One could "polish off" an enemy; a honey-do list; or a pint of sour mash. But not a scratch. You young'uns. I swann.

jesser 8:55 AM  

My writeover was worse than HEre YE. I had SAN at 39A and slapped in SANteria. Really? D'oh!

Back in the 70s, Las Cruces had a radio station with the call letters kASK. It was located on the 7th floor of what was then the First National Bank building, and when you'd drive anywhere nearby, the signal would wipe out any competing signal. Very annoying. So I was unhappy at 1A, but by the time I made my way down to the river STYX, I was less crabby. kASK played a lot of STYX. They also played Joe WaLSH. Love that guy.

I remember Bella ABZUG, so hands up for membership in the Old Farts Club.

P.S. I liked the weekend puzzles, although DIASPORA gave me fits on Saturday for a while. Sunday's circles were completed while watching Bubba Watson's improbable but beautiful win at The Master's.

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

i absolutely loved the movie about the carpenters using barbie dolls. saw it at the museum of the moving image in NY and the movie is mesmerizing and unforgettable, emotionally involving and a tragic bio. it's amazing how the dolls become real as you are involved in the film. stood next to bella abzug at the village halloween parade years ago. she was outspoken. always wearing big hats. a ny character. nice monday puzzle.

chefbea 9:02 AM  

Under the village chestnut tree, the village smithy stood. I think I had to memorize that way back when. I I sure can't remember who wrote it.

I also remember Bella and her hats.

Love chowder.

jackj 9:13 AM  

A solid if unspectacular Monday from Nancy Kavanaugh who returns to the Times after a 3 year hiatus with a theme designed to tickle our taste buds and a puzzle hoping to testing our intellect without being bland.

The theme answers were obvious and appropriately Monday level except for SALTYLANGUAGE which is the only one not in everyday use and which seems a mite strained. (Would a SALTYDOG, say, have been better here?).

The non-theme cluing was especially zippy, (emphasis on the “Z”), with 6 zed words, the best being SPRITZ, tieing to CAPSIZE and then ELIZA making nice with the indomitable Bella of ABZUG, the ever charming distaff answer to Ed Koch.

Another favorite was POLISH OUT which is certainly in the language but is better spoken than written. Why, a wag might even infer that that was what the butcher told his helper when he said to get rid of the kielbasa and bring in the linguica.

Thanks, Nancy and welcome back!

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

Early on was convinced it was going to be a pangram. K Z X W V. Turned out not really close to one. Too bad.

Wood 9:21 AM  

Has anyone ever eaten at Umami Burger in L.A.? Best burger, hands down, that I have ever eaten. Run, do not walk.

Knew ABZUG. Famous for big floppy hats. And being bosom buddies with Shirley MacLaine. Saw them together at a Broadway play once.

I knew GELID because I love adjectives ending in -id. There are so many interesting, uniquely descriptive words in that category. And many have interesting pairings with nouns that end in -or. Although I don't think GELor is one of them.

Tita 9:27 AM  

I have a Z in my name, so liked all the ZZZs...

Speaking of which, I not just CAPSIZEd, but turtled, one crisp fall day out on our lake...I sure was GELID...

@jberg - I too thought Rex would chastiZe SWEETTOOTH as being out of place... "I'd've used ___HEART..." ;)

WINGSPAN - a Turkey Vulture dropped her roadkill priZe almost in my open car when I startled her while driving top-down last year.

@jackj - SALTYLANGUAGE sounds totally in the language to me...I think some of it was used by my valiant rescuers while righting my boat. (Even though it was a freshwater lake...)

Perfect Monday.

chefbea 9:49 AM  

Here ya go

http://www.wockyjivvy.com/poetry/acclaim/hwl-vill.html

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 9:50 AM  

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 1807–1882

59. The Village Blacksmith

UNDER a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms 5
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can, 10
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge 15
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door; 20
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And watch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church, 25
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter's voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice. 30

It sounds to him like her mother's voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes 35
A tear out of his eyes.

Toiling,—rejoicing,—sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close; 40
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night's repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life 45
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought!

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

@JayWalker - Rex's preference for polish off in lieu of POLISHOUT would have been accompanied by a different clue, perhaps even one of yours. The point was that POLISHOFF was more in the language, more suitable for a Monday, than POLISHOUT.

I'm a poet, and know it 9:55 AM  

You know, in my poem the SMITHY is the shop, the smith is the blacksmith. It supports the contention that SMITHY, as clued, is incorrect.

HWL

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

I know BELLA ABZUG and AVA GARDNER-and I'm not an old fart...

Two Ponies 10:32 AM  

I really enjoyed this one.
Great words like Sanskrit on a Monday make for a better-than-average grid.
Learned something about Welsh as well. Bonus.
@ dk, That Superstar movie has your name written all over it.
Now off to learn something else new since a couple people have mentioned umami and I have no idea what that is.

oren muse 10:40 AM  

I was enjoying today’s puzzle, breezing through and feeling proud of myself. Didn’t foresee any problems. Then, as always, I ran into a couple of trouble spots.

It’s amazing that these puzzle authors always throw in a “gotcha!” area or two designed just for me. I stumbled in the northeast because not being a movie buff, I didn’t know ELIZA, so the ELIZA/ABZUG part I didn’t get. Also, down south, since I had “smitty” instead of SMITHY, I just couldn’t see WELSH.

Since I’m still a beginner, I’m proud that I thought today’s (with those two exceptions) pretty easy. I really like Mondays and Tuesdays, which allow me to start the day knowing I’m not a complete idiot.

Thanks, Nancy. And thanks to all you out there who post. I enjoy reading your comments.

AnnieD 10:40 AM  

Two Ponies,
Umami married Upapi and that's where U came from.
:)

Sorry...not enough sleep last night....

Mel Ott 10:44 AM  

First time I've ever heard Bella ABZUG accused of being obscure!

She was an important political figure for a number of reasons, one of which was that she showed that an aggressive woman could be successful in politics. At least in New York.

Male chauvinist right wingers despised her. William Buckley et al. used to say her name with nose and mouth twisted as if there were a bad odor in the room. Much the way male Republicans talk about Nancy Pelosi today.

Sparky 10:46 AM  

Bella ABZUG was my Congresswoman. Easy. Pleasant. Liked old clues, new answers: 27a clue: CAPSIZE rather than goape; and 60a clue: SEAM rather than hem. And full name, TSELIOT.

Nice clean Monday puzzle.

syndy 11:13 AM  

Anon @ 2;02 ....look again.I like a little feistiness in my Monday puzzles and this one proived!nothing hard but not so very bland.I also liked the geography quiz but fF being Norse??

the redanman 11:13 AM  

Absolutely groundbreaking! Well, actually rather predictable Monday NYT stuff start to finish. At least no Anatomic structures were mis-conveyed in this puzzle.

Where's my post Masters golf puzzle or at least a BUBBA clue?

Cheers ...

the redanman 11:16 AM  

reading the comments .... [heh-heh, heh-heh]

c'mon people ABZUG? Seriously It's the yellow times for goshsakes! LIBERAL and FEMINIST a two-fer; Double sainted ...

:-)))

Mighty Nisden 11:18 AM  

Sea Eagle ERNS was the first bit of crosswordese that I ever learned. That was way back when I used to pick up and try a puzzle or two a month.

Now I'm a crazed weekday puzzle fiend. (Weekends I'm too busy.)

Enjoyed watching Bubba Watson and his amazing ability to curve a small white orb in the Masters.

Rex Parker 11:22 AM  

Yeah, if it were POLISH OFF, you'd change the clue #obviousthings

Andy 11:33 AM  

Another vote for POLISHOUT, and there's nothing un-Mondayish about it. In fact, easier than usual, even for a Monday.

John V 11:52 AM  

Overslept today. Driver called and woke me 10 minutes after we're usually on the road. So, made it to CLT okay on time, chaos notwithstanding. Sheesh. 25th segment since Jan 9. Aw, poooor John.

So, apart for not understanding what in world POLI SHOUT means -- maybe a yell at a POLI SCI class? --, I would think POLISH OFF refers to an Eastern European military officer, no? Very confused.

My hazy start made this feel a bit Tuesday-ish. I thought that the across fill was more lively than not, e.g. names starting with Ff; thought we were maybe heading for a non-PC rift on stuttering.

Too bad I'm not on the New Haven these days, or I could have made some faux-spiffy comment on AB ZUG, but, hey. Good Monday puzzle, Nancy. Thanks.

chefbea 11:55 AM  

@AnnieD that was good LOL

Martin 12:13 PM  

I have not found an American dictionary that doesn't support the smithy clue. Does anyone have one? Or is this one of those "I don't care what the dictionary says" moments?

Rob C 12:19 PM  

@Wood

You're right. I live a squalid existence, in a barely lucid stupor, with my vapid mentor.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

i absolutely loved the movie about the carpenters using barbie dolls. saw it at the museum of the moving image in NY and the movie is mesmerizing and unforgettable, emotionally involving and a tragic bio. it's amazing how the dolls become real as you are involved in the film. stood next to bella abzug at the village halloween parade years ago. she was outspoken. always wearing big hats. a ny character. nice monday puzzle.

loren muse smith 1:09 PM  

@Jen CT - I'm jealous that you know how to use the word "vestigial."

@two ponies - I had to look it up, too. Shame on me!

@Rob C (and Wood) - what a vivid confessor you are. I trust you're not engaging in any sordid behavior with that mentor!

Rob C 1:40 PM  

@ LMS
She was a torrid suitor.

This is fun! But for the sake of everone else, no more. It's @Wood's fault.

Acme 1:47 PM  

Can I be deposed "Queen of Mondays" for a moment?

If this had been my puzzle my thoughts WOULD have been that ABZUG was going to be too hard for a Monday for anyone under 40, which is a whole lotta folks...

I would have kept it in, as I'd have like the rhymes with SHRUG BEDBUG and the Z ...and more women than men would no it, more NewYorkers than Minnesotans, more politicos than sports buffs.

POLISHOUT would have felt too tough for typical Mondays or newbies, and I'm totally with @Rex that I'd have tried POLISHOFF as I even did whilst solving, despite it's needing a different clue.

GELID is way hard for a Monday...and SMITHY prob should have been clued the other way, but I enjoyed the poem...

Really, all one has to do is sit on a plane next to someone and do a crossword together with someone new to it, as I did yet again on Southwest this week coming back from Mpls.
It was an "easy" BEQ and it was a humbling experience to see what was tough for a bright 27 yr old State Department worker with a degree in Forensics and Psychology from Chicago...born in Taiwan.
I mean every constructor or wannabe constructor needs to really do puzzles with nonregular solvers and you'd be amazed what is tough, obscure, very inside crosswordese, etc.
There is zero doubt in my mind that the stumbling blocks mentioned here today are wildly valid and it would have been nigh impossible to get GELID, ABZUG, ELHI, MOOG and maybe even CASK...esp at 1A.

That said, strongish theme-wise puzzle, esp if you subbed @tita's suggestion of SWEETHEART for TOOTH.

Ok, I'm going to POLISHOUT my tiara now

Two Ponies 1:48 PM  

I meant to confess earlier of my Doh moment. While reading the clue for smithy I thought for a second counterfeit horseshoes? Why would someone do that? Doh indeed.

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

Actually, a farrier is a horseshoe forger. Blacksmiths do other ironwork. Agreed though, bad clue.

Wikipedia 1:50 PM  

Smith (metalwork), sometimes referred to as a SMITHY, a person involved in the shaping of metal objects

Bob Kerfuffle 1:52 PM  

@Martin - Your challenge, to find "an American dictionary that doesn't support the smithy clue" puts us in the difficult field of proving a negative. However, I do have before me Webster's Universal Dictionary of the English Language, 2024 pages in two volumes, published in 1936, certainly not abridged nor looking to save space. It defines "smith" as "One who forges with the hammer; one who works in metals; as, a goldsmith, a silversmith; when used independently, it is generally applied to a blacksmith." "Smithy" is defined as "The shop of a blacksmith; a forge." (Period.)

I don't have the resources to find when "smithy" was first applied to the man; I have always assumed it came about from a misunderstanding of the first line of the Longfellow poem by generations of school children.

Those who know, please either correct or support me.

Merriam-Webster 1:55 PM  

Definition of SMITHY
1: the workshop of a smith
2: blacksmith

PS. Captcha was fferat vendo. Welsh vending machine company based in Dallas, TX?

Bird 1:55 PM  

Nice easy start to the week. Nancy, thank you.

Hand up for y-less SMITH and think 14A should have been A MOO MOO as the animal sounds are always repeated in the song.

Two corrections: ERIN before EIRE and ICING before ONICE.

@Jesser – Knowing Bella ABZUG is not automatic membership in The Old Farts Club. This was a gimme for me and I am not old. I fart, but I’m not old.

Lewis 2:01 PM  

@loren -- I've got it from a valid source that the behavior is tepid (one is frigid), although the relationship is acrid (this discussion is making me torpid).

Martin 2:11 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle,

Interesting about that dictionary. My Funk & Wagnalls from 1895 (also two volumes, 2318 pages) has the second sense for smithy, "A smith."

Since this is still fifty-some years after "The Village Blacksmith," we don't have definitive proof but I doubt that it was merely a misreading of a single poem. I'll do some more digging into earlier citations, but the F&W is the oldest American dictionary I have here.

In any case, the second sense of "smithy" has been American usage for a while. I haven't found a contemporary dictionary without it and perhaps should have been clearer about the challenge.

jackj 2:12 PM  

@Lewis-

You asked me on 4/8/12, “Do you write about crosswords in a blog and then copy it here? Just curious.”

No, whatever I am writing is posted only to this blog. For the past 15 years I have been commenting on the Times puzzle in a variety of outlets starting with the long gone but fondly remembered “Cru” website.

Since day one of my commenting, I have written what I like to think of as mini-critiques which means trying to capture the essence of the puzzle in a Reader’s Digestian 200 words or less while still being of interest to a reader.

They don’t always reach lofty heights but it sure is fun trying for this inveterate scrivener.

Thanks for asking.

evil doug 2:20 PM  

Anonymous at 8:52, 8:57 and 12:43,

Did you happen to see that movie about the carpenters using barbie dolls? Was it mesmerizing and unforgettable, emotionally involving and a tragic bio?

Evil
That little garbage can means you can erase your own errant posts. That little garbage can means you can erase your own errant posts. That little garbage can means....

Hard of hearing 2:24 PM  

@Evil - You could say that again.

Lewis 2:31 PM  

@jackj -- thank you for the reply, and your posts are fun to read.

@evil -- thank you. And very funny.

JenCT 2:53 PM  

@loren: I'm jealous of those hidden-wordie-things you do...

Masked and Anonymous 4:11 PM  

@31: Wow! "Bad Taste!" Great Peter Jackson schlock flick. Primo selection, vis-a-vis 1987. Might I also recommend: "Surf Nazis Must Die", of similar vintage.

@Nancy K.: Great to have you back in town.

IMDb 4:19 PM  

Surf Nazis Must Die (1987)

"When the grandson of a gun wielding woman is murdered by neo-nazi surf punks in the post-apocalyptic future, this grandma hunts them down for some bloodthirsty revenge."

Masked and Anonymous 4:21 PM  

P.S. @31: Oh! Oh! ... Must see also "Redneck Zombies" (1987). Vintage schlock -- slightly tart taste, with a strong, woodsy bouquet. Har.

IMDb 4:21 PM  

Bad Taste (1987)

"The population of a small town disappears and is replaced by aliens that chase human flesh for their intergalactic fast-food chain."

IMDb 4:25 PM  

Redneck Zombies (1989)

"In the back-woods of America live a very special kind of people. Friendly, decent, hard-working dirt farmers. When they accidentally drink a barrel of nuclear waste they turn into tobacco chewing, flesh eating, cannibal kinfolk from hell. Meanwhile, seven sophisticated city slickers on vacation get lost in the woods and encounter a nightmare world of these illiterate, and extremely insensitive, undead. While the tourists hikers use all their wits and courage to stay alive, more and more "down-home" types imbibe the nasty brew until Redneck Zombies are everywhere. What started as a scenic nature-hike turns into a bloodbath of dismemberment and cannibalism."

retired_chemist 4:26 PM  

As easy as they come, for me - this Old Fart knew Bella Abzug instantly, had the N and K in 39A and instantly knew SANSKRIT, and found NO other clues even passably challenging. (Except A MOO, which I deferred until I had three crosses.) SMITHY - that's what it had to be, whatever you lexicologists hash out.

And still it took me more than 5 minutes. I am not sure I can ever beat 5 minutes by more than a few seconds in AL.

loren muse smith 4:28 PM  

@Lewis, RobC, and Wood Who Started It All - just be sure all those shenanigans are behind a closed door. And better make sure it's solid.

@Evil - I need to stop reading this post whenever I'm drinking anything. You're going to ruin my laptop.

@Bob Kerfuffle - "proving a negative" - we were faced with this a lot in theoretical linguistics, and my very lucid professor ;-) would always say, “You can’t prove a platypus doesn’t lay eggs by taking pictures of a platypus not laying eggs.” I always liked that.

@JenCT – maybe, a la Ulrich and Liz from the other day, we should “look at each other for a few seconds in mutual admiration.”

retired_chemist 4:28 PM  

@ IMDb - Deliverance on steroids.

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

I worked for Bella Abzug back in the 70s when she ran for major of NYC. She was a trailblazer. Her mailing list was a who's who of that time. Loved seeing her name in the puzzle today.

Tita 4:37 PM  

@JenCT - how are those baby chicks?
(They're not playtpus chicks, are they??)

JenCT 4:41 PM  

Still in the eggs! 1-2 more days, if things go as planned. I left you a message on yesterday's blog...

Masked and Anonymous 4:46 PM  

@IMDb: Nope. "Redneck Zombies" was definitely 1987. I just replayed the credits on my DVD copy. Says "Copyright 1987". Also says "Any similarities to real events, or people living, dead or undead is totally coincidental". Theme song written and sung by Cletus Tripe. [TMI, M & A.]

sanfranman59 4:55 PM  

I just went to check the online solve times for the day and can't bring up the leaderboard or the puzzle online. Anyone besides me having this problem? I hope it doesn't have something to do with the new "10 free articles per month" restriction. Surely they're not restricting puzzle subscribers to 10 per month?

sanfranman59 5:43 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)

Mon 6:12, 6:49, 0.91, 15%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:22, 3:40, 0.92, 16%, Easy

Nevermind ... apparently there's some kind of problem with Firefox and Java on my computer. I'm able to run Java apps (like the NYT crossword) in Internet Explorer, but not in Firefox.

Anonymous 7:06 PM  

Five basic sensations of taste buds. Sweet. Sour. Bitter. Salty. AND pungent. More of a Sunday puzzle word.

michael 8:01 PM  

The reactions to "Abzug" sure show how fleeting fame is.

I've never been interested in speed solving, but just out of curiosity I glanced at my watch after barely pausing while doing this one. Somewhere between 3 and 4 minutes.

Anonymous 8:23 PM  

The majority of dictionaries cited here do not support "smith" as a possible definition of "smithy".

Z 8:45 PM  

I, of course, loved the puzzle.

@Annie D - For you

sanfranman59 10:24 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

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:19, 3:40, 0.91, 12%, Easy

Karl 10:27 PM  

I dunno...this one left a bad taste in my mouth...

Anonymous 11:18 PM  

Just getting to this before bed. All well and good, but stopped at the finish by ELHI. Knew Eliza, had the other crosses, but is this a regionalism? Never heard of this here in the South.

oren muse 10:02 AM  

I was a little surprised that Rex called this one medium challenging. Of course it was hard for me, but usually the ones he calls anything but easy I can’t get anywhere with.

Again, Gregory knew my weakness –RANDB, KDLANG?? I guess because I’m not up on more recent music, my age allowed me to put down PSHAW with no trouble.

I was surprised to see milkmaids still have jobs given that my (embarrassing) electronic milking device eTEAT from a while back might be in use.

Solving in Seattle 12:11 PM  

Great RT posts, with ED in rare form. ACME, too. It's like watching a high brow SITCOM on a daily basis. Liked the posit of a BEDBUG's WINGSPAN. Nowhere else could you find the "how many on the head of a pin" discussion as to the SMITHY clue.

Good stimulating Monday CW, Ms. Kavanaugh.

80 in Seattle today! Hydrate and sunscreen PacNWers.

Capcha: ontrysti dessidet. An awkward maneuver with a bathroom appliance.

rain forest 12:58 PM  

So I met up with Jack Smithy, a forger of horseshoes for Bella Abzug, and from the neighbouring field we heard here a moo, there a moo, in fact, everywhere a moo (moo). Other than that, it was a gelid encounter, Jack being a rather tepid raconteur. Then along came this fella from Arkansas who graced us with big smile. That is one sweet tooth!

Spacecraft 2:52 PM  

Good one today. Nice, snooth fill; no alphabet sequences or "SILENT-" whatevers. OK theme, but with interesting stuff like SANSKRIT and BEDBUGS, I give two thumbs up.

Here AMOO, there a MOOG, everywhere AMOOMOOG... aw, just ribbing. Even that I thought was kinda cool.

Dirigonzo 2:58 PM  

I needed a lot of crosses for the hurricane, the poet, the Quantum mechanics pioneer and the names starting with Ff, but they all fell smoothly into place and I finished with no mistakes and no write-overs - highly unusual for me and a tribute to the construction and cluing.

I learned the poem as, "Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village SMITHY sat, amusing himself by..." - never mind, that might be a different poem.

@rain forest - that is one sweet post - very funny!

Texas Solver 3:20 PM  

Woo Hoo! My first ever solve with no write overs. @rex should have rated this easy peasy. I had no problems with anything . . . other than gelid!

Now back to work for me!

Ginger 7:51 PM  

Salty language, indeed, and sweet etc too. Umami is new to me, so I looked it up. Sounds delicious.

Got ABZUG with just the b&z, then checked the clue. I guess I'm one of those old farts :-) because I remember her well, and I'm west coast.

Good week to all

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