Jazz trumpeter Sandoval / THU 5-17-12 / Mr Ellington in 1977 song / 1960s teaching focus / First satellite to transmit phone call through space 1962 / Peter Annette of film / Nog flavorer

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: spelled songs — three 7-letters songs are spelled out in the grid as a succession of unchecked letters:
  • DIVORCE (It's spelled out in a Tammy Wynette hit)
  • RESPECT (It's spelled out in an Aretha Franklin hit)
  • TROUBLE (It's spelled out in a Travis Tritt hit)

Word of the Day: IASI (50D: Former capital of Romania) —

Iași (Romanian pronunciation: [jaʃʲ]; also historically referred to as Jassy or Iassy) is one of the largest cities and a municipality in Romania. Located in the historical Moldavia region, Iași has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Romanian social, cultural, academic and artistic life. The city was the capital of the Principality of Moldavia from 1564 to 1859, then of the United Principalities from 1859 to 1862, and the capital of Romania from 1916 to 1918.
Known as The Cultural Capital of Romania, Iași is a symbol in Romanian history. The historianNicolae Iorga said "There should be no Romanian who does not know of it". Still referred to as The Moldavian Capital, Iași is the seat of Iași County and the main economic centre of the Romanian region of Moldavia. (wikipedia)
• • •

I actually liked this theme a lot, but that doesn't mean I didn't feel the sting of dreck like ITOS (11D: Midor and Lance), ARTUROS (17A: Jazz trumpeter Sandoval and others), O'TOOLES (18A: Peter and Annette of film) (three plural names?!), ATONERS, SETTS, ENTWIST, ASSISTON (!?), ST. ELMO'S (too long for a partial) and especially IASI, which looks like something someone pulled out of the crosswordese machine when they were cleaning it. But there were several nice answer to compensate a little (i.e. NEW MATH (19A: 1960s teaching focus), SIR DUKE (34D: Mr. Ellington, in a 1977 song), EGO SURFS), and, as I say, the theme is nifty. Lots of write-overs today because of ambiguity (or bad clue reading on my part)—WENT APE for GONE APE; BEAR CUB for LION CUB; ONE IRON for TWO IRON (8D: Club not seen much nowadays); SETES for SETTS (forgot how to spell this word, which I know only from crosswords) (28D: Small paving stones); and RESHOD for RESHOE (there's the bad clue reading) (7D Do some farrier's work on). All of these mistakes were pretty easily fixed. No major hold-ups today. The SE threatened to be tough at one point, but folded after "ESO BESO" showed its hoary mane (54A: Paul Anka hit with a rhyming title). Never heard of MERIDEN (!?) (43A: Connecticut city on the Quinnipiac River) but didn't need it, as I knew all the crosses. Even the NE, with two significant write-overs, didn't put up too much fight—ONE didn't work, I switched to TWO; BEAR didn't work, I switched to LION. Easy enough. Probably the toughest part was getting started. Somehow got Lake Victoria confused with Victoria island and wanted CANADIAN at 1D: Like part of Lake Victoria (UGANDAN). Ended up having to back into that corner via RESHOE (luckily the wrong RESHOD was right in all the right places, NW corner-wise).

  • 8A: Afghan power (TALIBAN) — the reason I changed BEAR to LION. Thanks, TALIBAN!
  • 9D: Class for budding painters (ART I) — Thought answer might have something to do with flowers. It didn't. 
  • 37D: Asian land where French is widely spoken (LEBANON) — always a deliberate mind%&^$ when Middle Eastern countries are clued (correctly, but no-one-would-say-that-ly) as "Asian."
  • 32A: First satellite to transmit a phone call through space, 1962 (TELSTAR) — learned it from crosswords. Still sounds like a cheesy corporate name, possibly for a telecommunications giant in some dystopic future.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.SFor anyone with an interest in solving the puzzles from this year's Crosswords LA tournament, they're now available online at http://alexboisvert.com/xwla/. They are certified Fantastic—I test-solved all of them.

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.


retired_chemist 12:17 AM  

Lost time because I wanted to connect the spelled word to the clue in front of the /(next line) at first. Nope.

Not much to complain about. I have never seen a puzzle like this one, so it was interesting. Most of the fill was fresh, Rex having pointed out some notable exceptions.

40A was ASSIST UP/IN/ON in that order. 52A (It's not for big shots) was MINICAR. Oh, THAT kind of shot.

Thanks, Mr. Krozel.

jae 12:18 AM  

Easy-medium again for me.  Tried Iowa for the straw poll, started off my golf round with (like Rex) a oneIRON and ENTWINEd before ENTWISTed, but that was about it for erasures.  Oh, I also had MINICAr before CAM which made STELMO tough to see.  

All crosses required for DEUM and IASI.

I liked the puzzle.  I'm looking for something a tad different on Thurs. and this fit the bill.

Pete 12:20 AM  

I looked at this and wondered if "I INSIST" was the b-side of DIVORCE, or ONEBASE was the b-side of DIVORCE. I got disabused of this notion, and disapointed, when this proved not to be the case. Not that there was any reason that it should be so, other than the awkwordness ( TM RP 2012) of the clueing (two clues on one line) necessitated by AL.

The puzzle would have been epic were it so.

Re Pete 12:22 AM  

Oh, "It's not for big shots" was a MINIBAR.

MaryBR 12:41 AM  

Also had to write over iowa and MINIbAr. Found the SE to be pretty brutal for a Thursday. Even after getting GENESIS and ESOBESO and MINI still had to stare. ENLACES just really didn't want to come and IASI? Please.

Anonymous 1:47 AM  

The online edition was differently numbered/clued than the print/PDF edition. The Rex graphic shows the online version with the three spelled words not having a clue number assigned. Not sure why the online edition couldn't be like the print edition.

Since I did not know any of the three songs/lyrics, you might say I was as clueless about the clues.

Hard to like a puzzle when you are clueless about the clues. I did figure out that those blank spaces were words. Now I'm trying to figure out what DIVORCE, RESPECT and TROUBLE have in common (other than songs). I fear only Joe knows....


chefwen 1:49 AM  

Started out challenging and slid into medium about half way through.

Don't know how I came up with MINIvAn, but I did. EGO SURFS was a new one for me. Did the same as Rex with went APE before GONE APE which threw a monkey wrench up in the North West. Lioness at 10D wasn't much of a help either. Took my way too long to figure out what the blank squares represented but once I got TROUBLE (a very depressing song IMO) but it did produce a cute ad with that little doggy trying to find a safe place for his bone. After that I slid into medium.

IASI and MERIDEN were total cheats, so a DNF in this camp. Better luck next time, little one.

chefwen 1:52 AM  

Took me, not my. Doh!

Anoa Bob 2:17 AM  

What a contrast! After yesterday's 8-themer with 64 theme squares, and those triple stacked 8's crossing triple stacked 6's in each corner, we get a three-themed, 21 unchecked theme square puzzle? And the clues for the three themes are gratuitously piggy-backed onto other clues that have nothing whatsoever to do with the theme? That's it?!

Nah, can't be. I know there's some diabolical hidden meta theme that Mr. Krozel has slipped by me, and I suspect that our fearless leader is complicit in the chicanery.

Oh, Oh! I think I got it! The key is at 19A NEW MATH. All those theme squares and not a single number assigned to any of them! Hah! Of course! It's so obvious now. If we apply the MERIDEN (43A) equation in its pentagonal form to the ordinal position of each theme letter, the grand design is geometrically revealed in all its glory! Beautiful!!

Or maybe my medication has worn off and I've GONE totally APE sh*t.

Assiston Caravel Minicams 2:20 AM  

Hand up for MINIvAn to MINICAr...
So the USEDCAR made me keep looking for the right word!
How tragic if Will/Joe had defied the two CAr rule! THAT is exactly why there are rules...and they help!!!

How cool to spell out words from songs...as I didn't know two of the three songs, they came slowly,
but loved guessing that Tammy apparently didn't stand by her man.

And gotta love the crazy IINSIST.

Also, thank god/Will for an easy clue to RISE, bec without that S, ESOBESO would never have surfaced from the far reaches of my mind.

EGOtrips took a bit to sort out
(THis weird google alert led me to EGOSURF today and I found that fanclub @Dirigonzo has started for me!?! Members: one!)

Very cool, save the triple name plurals...on the other hand, it's neat that there are two famous ITOS, two famous OTOOLES, but I guess only one famous ARTURO?
Why not Sandoval and
I mean, c'mon, I feel like I've even dated at least three ARTUROS.

Oh, before I correctly had
R-E-S-P-e-C-T, thought
Matches = SEtS...so 26D was SEtS and 28D was SETTS! And I thought that was neat-o. Neat-o, but wrong-o.

Plus, for the record, that no one is keeping, AfricAN has the same amount of letters as UGANDAN.
Even tho technically BOTH sides of Lake Victoria are AfricAN.

(Speaking of Africa/blog crush/fan clubs, I want to hear full story of @Campesite's motorcycle trip from Cairo to South Africa. WRITEME!)

Mike 2:35 AM  

JFC, as far as I know, the only thing the songs have in common is that they spell out the key word in the lyrics. Aretha sings R-E-S-P-E-C-T one letter at a time, for example.

Tough one, but once I got DIVORCE, it went faster.

I had minibar. Assist on seems really awkward. I had an S early and wanted things like reseats, but nothing fit. Enlaces took every cross.

Gareth Bain 5:46 AM  

"AfricAN has the same amount of letters as UGANDAN." So does rwANDAN (and it fits nicely with wentAPE!)

@JFC et. al.: The problem is that the online software used - applet and Across Lite - are unable to see that those (not really) unches are an across answer. The bracketed clues are a compromise. The JPZ format is capable of having those read as defined answers; it's not in use by the NYT... (Of course, I've never found it as intuitive to solve in)

Critter 6:35 AM  

Wrong "trouble" the song in quesrion's chorus is " I smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E" a mich more upbeat song... However equally depressing since it's country

orangeblossomspecial 6:41 AM  

The puzzle got easier once I changed LIONess to LIONCUB and figured out that 8D Club referred to a golf club rather than a weapon.

Here are some of the song references @Rex didn't include:

33A Aretha Franklin's RESPECT.

34A TELSTAR was actually a big event when it was launched, and it merited a song complete with satellite sounds.

45A Travis Tritt's TROUBLE.

dk 7:37 AM  

In 1962 we visited the TESTAR site. We got a private tour. It was a big white dome in Andover, Maine. Very hush hush. It was about this time my brother and I got the idea that Dad's "research job" may be a little more than the boring number crunching he made it out to be.

A link:


This was not the first of our family geek vacations but it was a highlight.

This puzzle was fun even thou some of the fill was straaaaaaaaaained. GONEAPE and HOTNESS for two. Oh yeah and penning in Vietnam over LEBANON caused me no end of TROUBLE.

🚗🚗 (2 Used cars) On to Friday

jberg 7:48 AM  

I loved it! But then, I solve it in the actual paper, tossed recklessly onto (or near) my porch from a speeding car every morning. So the theme answers were clearly clued as nos. 21, 33, and 45. It was seeing that 21 in the grid that let me get the theme; and once you get it, the puzzle is beautiful.

BTW, both @Rex and @Anoa Bob refer to the theme squares as "unchecked," but are they really? Every one of the 21 squares is part of both a theme answer and a down - the theme answers are simply downs with black squares in them, as good a way as any to indicate that these are pronounced letters, not just words.

I know MERIDEN only from various exit signs on the highway from Boston to NYC, but that was enough for me. And there were a lot of great answers: NO TELL motel, EGO SURFS (new term to me, but instantly comprehensible!), NEW MATH, I INSIST - and, for me, ST ELMO'S clued as firestarter.

One write in: Ellipse before E STREET for what runs near the White House.

@Acme, it could have been "Sandoval and Toscanini," but maybe that's too easy.

SethG 7:50 AM  

Nice looking grid, and nice puzzle, especially when the unchecked letters turned out to be checked and not just gimmicks. I did consider ENSHOES for RESHOES, because I'd just gotten ASSIST ON and IASI and, well, Krozel, but I gotta have faith.

Assumed IASI was a currency, but I knew Rwanda doesn't border Lake Victoria so I can retain at least some geography cred.

evil doug 7:52 AM  

Loved the double I. Usually it's a WWII type deal.

Minicars? Minicans? Minibars? Minicabs aren't for big shots, either. That's a beautiful clue, when there are so many legitimate possibilities.

Nearly put 'sternos' for the firestarter, but couldn't understand why it'd be plural.
Nice surprise. Used to see St. Elmo dancing all over our windshields, especially flying in storms.

"EGOtrips took a bit to sort out
(THis weird google alert led me to EGOSURF today and I found that fanclub @Dirigonzo has started for me!?! Members: one!)"

ACME? Egosurfing? Gosh, what a surprise....

Genesis: Worst band in history. Phil Collins is a hot mess.


Oscar 8:02 AM  

Crap-tastic! That guy should quit while he's behind. Maybe one day he'll learn to use more words so the one's he does use aren't terrible.

The only good thing about it was getting "Sir Duke" stuck in my head.

Sue McC 8:33 AM  

Despite agreeing completely with Rex's dreck list, I loved this. Once I had the D-I-V filled in, I popped in the rest of the word before even having seen the clue, and then tried RESPECT below it , and had to giggle when it worked. Never heard the TROUBLE song, so had to work for it. Not as challenging as I usually like for a Thursday, but the fun factor made up for it.

joho 8:40 AM  

First thing I thought was, "weird grid." And I've got to remember to print out the PDF version of the puzzle. If I had the the cluing would have made more sense. But, on the other hand, while it took longer, finally figuring it out was really fun. I like a quirky Thursday and this one fit the bill!

I did have IASI?????? in the margin and was glad to see that as the WOTD.

Joe Krozel, you are an innovator! Love it!

jackj 8:41 AM  

First thought, written 5/16/12, 11PM:

This puzzle is easy for me to categorize—hated the gimmick, loved the fill.

If you know the songs I suppose this puzzle is a piece of cake. If you don’t know the songs and don’t understand the awkward cluing, (e.g., “Young partner” has nothing whatsoever to do with the Travis Tritt song title), you’re probably in for some frustrating moments before you are finished.

Update, written 5/17/12, 8AM:

After checking the crossword in this morning’s NY Times, clearly, for those of us who print out the puzzle in AcrossLite and solve it on paper, the Times has dealt us a dirty blow by not alerting us that the clues were misleading because of AcrossLite limitations. (A referral to a PDF printout would have eliminated the problem).

The clues for we unsuspecting pencil and paper, AcrossLite traditionalists read, for example, for 20 Across:

“Response to a polite refusal /
(next line) It’s spelled out in a
Tammy Wynette hit”

Then, try the clue for 41 Across:

“Young partner /
(next line) It’s
spelled out in a
Travis Tritt hit”

Awkward? Indeed! Outraged? You bet!

A good puzzle spoiled!

John V 9:20 AM  

Fun! Looked at the grid and though, what tha? Looked at the constructor's name and said, yep, this should be good. I had TROUBLE with this, esp the East, ESPECIALLY EGOSURFS, a neologism if ever there was one. Liked the onomatopoeic quality of the theme answers created by the embedded blanks. That is really, really cool!

Had all the missteps of @Rex. This is a classic Thursday. Congrats to Maestro Krozel.

@ED re: Genesis/Phil Collins, to paraphrase Mark Twain about Wagner, I always thought Collins to be better than he sounds.

loren muse smith 9:28 AM  

I liked this puzzle, but I share a little with @jackj’s and others’ frustration that the theme clues have nothing to do with the spelled-out words. Still, I’m happy with it and enjoyed solving it. Thanks, Joe!

I had TWO IRON first, but when I filled in ART I, I immediately erased TWO IRON because of the double Is. Terrific “aha” moment when I saw I INSIST.

All of you with write-overs for LION CUB can feel better about your reasonable tries when I tell you mine was “leopard.” Jeez.

@dk – I wanted Vietnam there, too.

With ENLACE and ENTWIST, (but only one RESHOE), maybe the prefix EN is shoving the recent darling RE aside?

Tita 9:35 AM  

Different and fun! Only song I actually knew was RESPECT, so that is what clued me in. But I thought there were plenty of obscurities, so this was crunchier than the usual Thursday.

One ENTWISTs when one endeavors to ENLACE. (Not one, but two not-words in the grid, but at least they are related!)
Mean Saturday-style clue for LEBANON.

Having to ferret out what those weird doubled-up clues meant was part of the fun.

quilter1 9:43 AM  

Liked this and thought it easy. I am just "puzzled" as to why lion's dens appear so frequently. I'm no expert, but I thought, from watching many National Geographic and Wild Kingdom programs, that lions hang out on the veldt and in trees, and hid in the underbrush to have their cubs. Bears do have dens. Shoot, am I going to have to look this up?

MountainManZach 9:43 AM  

My favorite answer was "That's all ASS, HE wrote."

Norm 9:43 AM  

retired_chemist and jackj captured my feelings exactly, so i won't bother to say more and will just hope for a better puzzle tomorrow.

chefbea 9:44 AM  

Haven't read the posts yet. Will do that later. Busy day ahead.

Liked the puzzle. When I first saw the grid..I saw two 2's. So thought the theme was going to have something to do with 22. Anyone else??

retired_chemist 9:52 AM  

I agree with those who say the R E S P E C T etc. squares are not unchecked, and also with those who say the AL version was awkward at best as a consequence. It threw me for a while but I figured it all out.

GLR 9:59 AM  

I knew two of the three songs, but couldn't for the life of me figure out how they each linked to the previous "across" answer. I liked the puzzle much more after I looked at the print version and discovered that most of my troubles were due to AL.

I've solved using AL for the past several years, and have been tripped up a few times before by this type of issue, so maybe I should have been suspicious. It does seem as though they should have been able to come up with a way to make it clearer what was going on - maybe state in the clue itself, "see print version of puzzle."

In the end, I got all of the theme answers, but finished with open squares in the southeast - didn't know IASI and couldn't parse ST ELMOS.

ArtO 10:05 AM  

A fun solve (not easy/medium for me). Really love the grid. Really, really clever. Good job, Joe!

loren muse smith 10:09 AM  

@Chefbea - I saw two 2s, too.

foodie 10:10 AM  

I found it on the more challenging side because I had no clue re the spelled songs, except RESPECT.

But also because of various, unmet, expectations. The first was the one already discussed-- the apparent link between one clue and another, so I thought the spelled word would somehow relate to the one preceding it. So, after I INSIST, for example I wanted something indicating perseverance. But then DIVORCE emerged and disabused me (in a way, it's the opposite of I INSIST, more like I GIVE).

Then, having done mostly the NW, I thought may be it has to do with things that are either split apart OR woven together. This was evoked by the pattern of the grid (impressive!) and by DIVORCE, NEST and ENTWIST... Just read too much into the visuals.

I liked the clue for LEBANON. It's my second country of origin and yes, French is still spoken there intermingled with Arabic. I have always bee interested in linguistics (studied it at one point). I was fascinated by the impact of thinking in one language vs. another on connotations of abstract concepts. LEBANON was a good place to ponder that.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

@foodie - I can't think of LEBANON as being a good place to ponder anything but sadness.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

Nothing bad with the concept but the execution wasn't to my liking. I don't really care about the songs, so I really don't care about the theme answers. When I looked at the grid before solving, it looked quite interesting. After solving, I wasn't upset, just disappointed.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

FWIW, a MINICAM is equally adept at taking "big shots" as is any other camera/video camera. The mini refers only to the size of the camera, not the focal length of the lens, which is the only way "big shot" can relate to video/photography.

Two Ponies 10:38 AM  

I knew the first two theme songs but I dislike modern country so that one took awhile.
@ evil doug, Genesis only sucked after Peter Gabriel left. I'll bet Phil Collins is an egosurfer.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Sometimes I reread a previous day's comments to see if a great post appeared after my initial read. There was a late post (about 100 entries down) by the author of yesterday's [mostly reviled] puzzle. Make sure you read it. The primary response by acme is wonderful also. Those two entries should (in my opinion) be forever posted at the top of this blog.

archaeoprof 10:52 AM  

Country music!

NE was hardest for me, as I fell for the iowa/AMES mistake at first.

BTW, Travis Tritt also did a song called, "Here's a Quarter, Call Someone Who Cares."

r.alphbunker 10:56 AM  

@Anonymous 10:41AM

I totally agree. If Kevin emails his version of the puzzle to rbunker [@] crucimetrics.com I will post it on my site for people to download.

Regarding today's puzzle when I saw the grid I immediately thought Krozel and I was delighted to discover that I was right. I love the way that he plays with the rules.

John V 11:14 AM  

@Anonymous 10:41. Thanks very much for the pointer to Kevin's comments of late yesterday. Required reading for all. @Acme -- the class act of all time, is what I'm saying :)

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

Anon @ 10:41 - I agree. Rex could have a separate column. He should hold a contest for naming the column. Here are a few suggestions:

Pride of Authorship
Pride and Prejudice
Write and Wrong
Throw Papa under the Bus
Designing Men and Women... et alia (and so on)....


Anonymous 11:17 AM  

Breaking the rules -- fine. Breaking the rules and completely compromising the fill in order to do so -- not fine.
Think of this as a themeless.

600 11:32 AM  

Still lurking, rarely commenting (by the time I get to the puzzle, everything I want to say has usually been said!)--but had to say two (okay, three) things today.

1. Two 2's? What am I missing?

2. Thank you so much, Anonymous 10:41. That was indeed a post not to be missed . . . actually two posts. ACME's also not to be missed.

Okay, three. ED. Why ya gotta be so mean? (Never rise to the bait, never rise to the bait, never rise to the bait . . .)

Bob Kerfuffle 11:33 AM  

I grew up in an area where farmland was transitioning to non-farm uses. One day in (1962 - 1963?), in a field across the street from my house, where previously only kohlrabi had grown, the TELSTAR Diner sprang up.

@quilter1 - Until 1967, a ten-year-old Cub Scout would have been a Lion, and a member of a den, a sub-set of his Pack.

600 11:35 AM  

@John V--I was typing as you were posting, apparently. You said exactly what I wanted to say about the posts I'd have missed without the anonymous tip. Class act, indeed.

So I guess I didn't need to post. But wait . . . two 2's?

John 11:36 AM  

Had "Minutae" instead of "Minicam" which messed me up a bit, but I knew all the songs and wrote those in immediately which gave me a good head start. I, too, wanted Canadian instead Ugandan and briefly had Vietnam as the Asian French speaking country--good misdirect.

Mel Ott 11:37 AM  

I thought I was going to hate this when I first looked at the grid, but I really liked it.

The only song I knew was Aretha's but the others were easy enough to figure out. Who can forget Aretha's performance of the song in "The Blues Brothers"?

I live in CT but did not know the Q River went all the way up to Meriden. Must be a tiny creek up there because it's a smallish river to begin with.

joefrombrooklyn 11:46 AM  

Am I missing a theme here? If it's just a bunch of spelled out song lyrics, what's the point? Why are they randomly attached to the clues that proceed this? It feels like those clues should be connected.

If I'm not missing anything, my opinion is that this puzzle is absolute dreck. The clueing is mostly easy but little of it is satisfying. There's too many names (O'tooles, TelStar, Ernst, Meriden, Ito, Ames, St Elmo, Lebanon) and if you don't know Travis Tritt of Paul Anka the SE is difficult (although I should remember Eso Beso from crosswords by now). Plus two additional music clues (Eso Beso & Sir Duke) feel pretty excessive.

I really hope tomorrow's is a good puzzle because mid-week has really disappointed.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

The city Victoria is on Vancouver Island.

Masked and Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Primo grid layout. Looks like it got machine-gunned. Standing O to Joe K, for discovering three 7-letter spelled-out hit songs. A puz worthy of R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Fun solve.

Tense moment: DE?M/ART?ROS. Decided it had to be U.

Fave fill: IASI. Mostly cuz @31 found it while cleaning out his crosswordese machine. Har! Entry needs a feistier clue, but I got nothin'... Maybe: "Me like me"? Naa.

Don't actually know the TROUBLE song... did Elvis do a version of this? I've got to think.

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

guess I'm one of the few who remember Telstar; I remember going out to look for it as it passed over use in Seattle.

All you young'uns: Those were the days!

Tita 12:25 PM  

@600...squinch your eyes while looking at the grid - SORTA looks like 2 | 2.

@M&A - yup - I loved the imagery of "pulling something out of the crosswordese machine while cleaning it..."
@Rex - LOL!

Noam D. Elkies 12:27 PM  

Weird-looking grid, some questionable fill, and the payoff is just three pop songs with spelled-out 7-letter names? B I G D E A L.


P.S. 8D shouldn't be ONE_IRON given 31A:ONE_BASE.

Charley 12:49 PM  

Asian country where French is spoken? Vietnam. Lebanon is a middle-eastern country.

Sparky 12:49 PM  

@chefbea and Loren, I saw two twos too. Actually at first tried to make it a dollar sign. So much for that.

Aretha easy. Didn't know the others but they filled in eventually. Like NOTELL motel. That's where all the trysts and elopements take place. You can receive ASSISTance on a train, place or automobile. We had Toscanini and ESOBESO only recently. WentAPE, MINIvan/car. STELMOS took a while.

I enjoyed working on this but am still confused by the 22.

M-A-S-K-E-D and Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Was just workin' on a couple of Real Olde NY Times puzs last night. Talk about funky stuff gunking up the ol' crosswordese machine. Feast yer eyes on these:

- KRA: "Long-tailed ape"
- AMBO: "Church lectern"
- ARADA: "Tilled land: Sp."
- AIS: "Sloths"
- DEDANS: "Inside: Fr." Snort.
- ATRO: "Black: prefix"
- KOLN: "Rhine city: Ger. sp." Not so bad, other than looked like they wanted a German-Spanish word. Plus, they had it crossing "Monetary unit of Laos" (KIP)

Man, those were the good old days, huh? Makes me want to stop my whimperin', and salute IASI.

P.S. Elvis Did record "T-R-O-U-B-L-E", in 1975. He also sang a different song, called "Trouble", in 1958.

ksquare 1:12 PM  

Hasn't anyone else noticed that the grid breaks a basic rule of NYT puzzles i.e. every letter must appear in both a down and across word?

M and A and all in 1:14 PM  

P.S. Better clue for IASI: "Pronoun visualized to be a Roman numeral, instead". Know how @31 likes his RRN's.

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

MERIDEN is about 100 miles SW of NATICK
- Aaron

treedweller 1:31 PM  

When I was a scout, we started at Bobcat. A quick scan of the BSA site reveals today's scouts start at Tiger. I guess bobcats might seem a little too gay to the right wingers who took over the organization a few decades back. Anyway, I was baffled as to where LION came from until I saw Bob Kerfufle's post above. Seems to me the clue required an indicator such as ", once." though I suppose it might have been meant as a straight clue with no reference to BSA.

This was just one place I got stuck in the NE. I plunked n and pulled out a lot of guesses before finally giving up and googling a couple to get going. Seems easy enough now. Go figure.

retired_chemist 1:47 PM  

@ ksquare - the unchecked letters to which you refer are actually checked since the spelled-out word itself provides the check.

earshmpr oiewspi?

Anonymous 1:53 PM  


Donna Summer.

Queen of Disco.


John V 1:58 PM  

Annoymous 1:22 re: MERIDEN/NATICK. Too funny!

Matthew G. 2:20 PM  

Of the three theme songs, the only one I know is RESPECT, but I still thought this was a nice theme. Most of the short fill didn't bother me much, although IASI and ART I are awful, and A POT felt pretty lame. Like a few others, my time was slowed down a bit by thinking I needed to read the unchecked letters in a continuous phrase across all three lines.

EGOSURFS is surprisingly timely compared to much of the puzzle.

acme 2:24 PM  

@Masked And Anon
That's interesting about Elvis singing T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

I don't know it, but it might have made it easier for some rather than have two country songs out of three. This way there would have been country, R&B, and Rock and Roll, something for everyone!

But it really is incredibly neat that there are three songs where they spell out the word AND are seven letters AND fit so nicely across a grid in a wonderful and original way!
Joe keeps pushing the boundaries and seems to be getting more and more delightful each time.
Breaks my heart that it was screwy on the AcrossLite version and made the concept confusing.

(Just like @Kevin A's late night comment. I did try to shed some light, so thanks @JohnV, anon 10:41, @600, ET ALIA...
fwiw, I was EGOSURFing (a term I just learned yesterday...I thought it was self-googling... bec I had received an alarming email offering to send ME a way to find out my complete name, address and phone # online, so I went checking to see what was out there when you put in my name.
Checked YOUR blog profile to write to you offline, but no name, address, email there (!) (I see we have a ton in common!)
As to your sweet defense, thank you...
On a generous side, I would like to think that ED just tries to keep my ego in check as I get an awful lotta love on this blog (which has made a tremendous difference in my life, btw). I try to just post unselfconsciously and to not take the bait, but he really can be a sh*t!

jazzmanchgo 2:37 PM  

Lebanon is "Asian," eh? Hmmmm . . . I always thought that TRAVAIL had more to do with suffering or discomfort than mere "hard work," but maybe I've always misused it. Never heard of "EGO-SURFING," either. (What do they use for surfboards?) I'm originally from Connecticut, so MERIDEN slid in pretty easily.

By the way -- in case anyone missed it, TELSTAR fit in with the hit-song theme: it was the name of a nifty li'l pop instrumental (by a group called the Tornadoes) back in the early '60s. I'm not sure, but "Telstar" might have been the first popm tune to use a synthesizer.

evil doug 2:41 PM  

"I try to just post unselfconsciously and to not take the bait, but he really can be a sh*t!"

Who loves you, Andrea? When you helped Loren get a puzzle accepted, who gave you great credit? True, I will call you on it when I see you spending too much time in the mirror. But you also know when you get a compliment from me, I mean it.

"On a generous side, I would like to think that ED just tries to keep my ego in check as I get an awful lotta love on this blog (which has made a tremendous difference in my life, btw)."

Exactly. Look, you're the most beloved/admired/stalked/lusted person here. Someone has to do the heavy lifting, to courageously rein you in so that you don't cross the line into outright vanity...again, I mean. I have boldly accepted that vital responsibility. You're welcome.

Besides, read the posts here lately and it's clear that I'm one of the nicest guys around these days....


jazzmanchgo 2:46 PM  


Mel Ott -- Didn't Aretha sing "Think," not "Respect," in that movie?

quilter1 2:53 PM  

@BobKerfluffle: in '67 the Scouts weren't on my radar. Something my baby brothers did. As @treedweller said, it might have been Scout related or not. If it was it should have been clued more directly connected to scouting.

Jesus 3:11 PM  

Come unto me, all ye that TRAVAIL and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.

And that includes Evil "Someone has to do the heavy lifting" Doug.

BTW, even though there may be more bears than lions sleeping in dens these days, it is Daniel in the Lion's Den that people remember. When Daniel was, I am. (Yes, it gets complicated!)

acme 3:26 PM  

When I called ED a SH*T of course that was just shorthand for "Someone Has To" (do the heavy lifting...)
I guess it's his cross to bear.

Hitler 3:38 PM  

Man, if I could only substitute my opinion of myself for everyones opinion of me! Then I might not be the most hated person in the world, and become viable for the NYTimes puzzle!

Anonymous 3:41 PM  

I’m trying to think which couple ED and Acme remind me of:

James J. Kilpatrick and Shana Alexander

Ralph and Alice Kramden


Albee’s George and Martha....


lucasjackson 4:12 PM  

originally had "one iron" as well... they are seen quite a bit less than two irons, i would say. still made me think of one of my favorite quotes by lee trevino when asked about what he'd do in stormy conditions... "i'd take out my one-iron and point it to the sky... because not even god can hit a one-iron".

Lewis 4:42 PM  

Just right for a Thursday -- creative, unusual, with spark. I had a fair amount of writovers, but all worked out eventually.

Going to Atlanta this weekend -- son and daughter-in-law graduating from law school. We are celebrating the graduation AND the fact that they went through law school together and are still married!

sanfranman59 4:48 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 21:04, 19:00, 1.11, 75%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 10:29, 9:22, 1.12, 76%, Medium-Challenging

Anonymous 4:59 PM  

Hard for me and once again the proper names didn't help:
Meriden, Arturo, new math, eso neso, estreet. As to the theme lol who even saw that there was one. I do online so maybe it's that or maybe it's that I'm relatively stupid. Easy medium? I don't agree.

Anonymous 5:22 PM  

I slogged through the whole thing and finished with a few errors. Sternos for fire starters - saw stelmos and thought - what's a stelmo? Duh...

foodie 5:26 PM  

@Anon 10:12, yeah, the whole situation in the Middle East is so sad. But I try to think about the good stuff as well... @Charley, true, LEBANON is in the Middle East, but part of the Middle East is in Asia and the other part is in Africa, no?

@ ED, we appreciate your sense of civic responsibility and determination to keep egos in check (yours included?).

re last night's discussion from Kevin and Acme-- I have to say that I am stunned at the NYTimes editorial liberties without input form the constructor. I'm no lawyer, but having published my share of scientific articles and edited books, I thought I knew something about intellectual property. I find the "editing" process here really baffling, in both directions. Meaning-- a) changing a puzzle dramatically and not letting the author know about it prior to publication, and b) having someone in the background doing some heavy lifting (for better or for worse) without being acknowledged.

To me, a name on a piece of work (whether a book, a painting or a statue) should stand for something. It means the work represents you, and that you take responsibility for it. I feel that attaching someone's name to a piece of work without respecting their ownership of the content is just plain wrong. I hope the New York Times re-thinks its approach.

quilter1 6:46 PM  

Daniel's lions den was manmade.

skua76 7:14 PM  

I had a bit of a problem with TELSTAR (32A) since the first phone call via satellite was made with Echo 1 in April 1960, 2 years before Telstar.


I remember watching one of the first calls documented on TV. But the clue is technically correct since Echo was just a silver reflecting balloon and did not TRANSMIT the call, just reflect it.

Since I'm now living in Boulder I've started starting these puzzles the night before...guess I should have looked at the PDF, like @joho, (or waited for the dead tree version showed up the next morning) since I too thought from the Across Lite version that the "unchecked" square clues were related to the previous clues. The clue numbers were completely different in the PDF and ACL versions (!)

JenCT 7:20 PM  

Easy-medium? Easy-medium????

This puzzle took me forever; I couldn't see MERIDEN, and I live in CT!

Makes me think of the line in the movie Airplane, "I picked a bad week to stop sniffing ______" (insert various chemical substances)

Z 7:45 PM  

Another early morning meeting, so I barely got started this morning. I ahd to come back and finish after dinner. Every mistake mentioned - I made it. oneIRON, MINIbAr, vietNam, bearCUB, iowa, africAN, "what's a STELMOS?" Toss in science before NEW MATH for good measure. Still, every single one of those seems a fair enough misdirection, so a great puzzle in my opinion. Of course, the songs have numbered clues in the paper. I can see how the limitations of AcrossLite would have hurt the puzzle.

600 8:00 PM  

@Tita--Thanks. I see the two 2's now.

@acme--I thought my email was available. Just now tried to fix that, but probably failed. This is the only "blogging" I do, so I'm not good at it. Anyway, I'm touched you found my defense sweet. I'm going to go and make the membership in that fan club two.

And I kinda hope ED is tossing his cookies over the sweetness now.

Anonymous 8:15 PM  

agree the post last night was great, but not the first time a constructor wrote saying his puzzle was altered!!

sanfranman59 10:23 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 6:49, 6:50, 1.00, 54%, Medium
Tue 9:00, 8:52, 1.01, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 11:09, 11:50, 0.94, 39%, Easy-Medium
Thu 21:11, 19:00, 1.12, 76%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:40, 1.04, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:02, 4:35, 1.10, 80%, Challenging
Wed 6:04, 5:53, 1.03, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 10:04, 9:22, 1.07, 70%, Medium-Challenging

mac 10:37 PM  

A long, busy day, but I liked the puzzle a lot. Had lioness, minivan/minibus and sternos for a moment. What's the likelihood of entwist and enlaces in one puzzle as FILL?

Can't believe I was grateful for eso beso.... No tell motel was my favorite.

Tita 10:51 PM  

@Jen - that is one of my all-time favorite movie lines!!!

JenCT 4:14 AM  

@Tita: me too! There are so many great ones in that movie:

Rumack: You'd better tell the Captain we've got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.
Elaine Dickinson: A hospital? What is it?
Rumack: It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now.

Marc 8:15 AM  

I grew up in MERIDEN and refused to accept that it would actually be in the crossword, but when I finally gave in and tried it every just fell into place.

Spacecraft 12:34 PM  

Out here in Synd City, numbers were included for the theme answers, so no confusion there. There was some elsewhere, though:

As @Gareth Bain mentioned, I weNtAPE with rwANDA, not knowing my African geography that well, but crosses led me to the right country--and voice.

Had brEAKER, certainly an electrical device that may blow, but finally found MESH and EXPO.

MIMImuM isn't for big shots, either. I wondered if ENLAmES could be a word; IuSI looked every bit as good (?) as any other letter in that obscure old city. But after I got MESH, I figured my 40d had to be wrong; that's when the aha! of MINICAM hit me.

And finally, when there were too many letters for ONBASE, I went with ONFIRST, a much better answer for the clue. You don't get to wander about the diamond and pick out a base you like; you have to trot on down to first.

Wasn't TELSTAR actually named by the Russians?

Solving in Seattle 1:25 PM  

@Anon 3:41, as descriptors for ED and ACME you could add "Pearls Before Swine" characters Rat & Goat. Figure out who is who.

@Lewis 4:42, congratulations on the law school graduation of your son and daughter-in-law, who, I guarantee, would not still be married if only one of them had gone to law school.

As for the puzzle, I didn't see the theme or even notice the 21A/33A/45A clues until I came to Rexville. Can't explain why. Just solved around them.

Nit with cluing LEBANON as an "Asian land." Had vietNam.

Nit with a walk getting you ONEBASE. I can just hear the ump calling "Ball four, take ONE BASE, not two." Or, "Go to BASE ONE."

Otherwise, Mr. K, enjoyed your puzzle. Like impressionist art, I do not seek hidden themes. As Freud (or was it Bill Clinton?) would say, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

Capcha: tsunsigh. What one does following a tsunami.

rain forest 1:56 PM  

Liked the puzzle a lot. Even "atoners" was just fine courtesy of a zippy clue. "Setts" are actual things (I have used them), so Rex's problem with the word is just that. Iasi is the former capital of my mother's mother country, so I was happy with that. Pluralized names aren't so bad since at least you get the "s" every time. Very creative and appreciated grid.

As @SIS hinted, both ED and ACME are correct.

DMGrandma 2:09 PM  

Somehow managed to do the puzzle without seeing that the spaced out words had clues. For me the words just spelled themselves out from the acrosses. Just as well, as I've never heard of the songs in question. On the other hand, ESOBESO was a no brainer, not because I knew who did it, but because it rhymed! Finished with a blank because I couldn't parse STELMOS, wanted "sterno", even though I sensed it was wrong, so ended with MINIC__. Maybe tomorrow??

Anonymous 4:59 PM  

What, no Tom Lehrer video?

Anonymous 5:16 PM  

When I woke up this morning ACME was on my television peeling potatoes. Slowly.

My only writeovers in this puzzle were BREAKERS, which stalled me for a while in the SW, and STERNOS which is just wrong but I see I'm not alone in making that error.

Put me in the 22 Camp as well. I was hoping for a Will Clark tribute. Or maybe a Lost In America

Anonymous 6:58 PM  

I don't understand the nitpicking over ONE BASE. Guy walks: ONE BASE. Steals second: ONE BASE. Takes third on a fielder's choice: ONE BASE. Tags and scores on a sac fly: he's just gone around the diamond ONE BASE at a time.

By the way, two rules I'd like to see changed: Intentional walk in baseball: two bases.

Dunk in basketball: one point.

Dirigonzo 7:58 PM  

All of the mistakes I initially made have already been documented by others, except I like my Nog flavored with brandy, thank you. And not being a golfer I thought maybe there was such a thing as a Ten iron (I blame the TALIBAN).

@SIS, I'm pretty sure that Bill Clinton did not regard a cigar as just a cigar (or maybe that's just me?).

Captch is downpar - surely that's a legitimate golf expression!?

terisned 7:11 PM  

I put in flowers instead of atoners for "sorry bunch". Nothing like flowers to say you are sorry.

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