Agave fiber / SAT 7-7-12 / 1982 Donald Fagen hit subtitled "What a Beautiful World" / insect pupa sold as turtle food

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Constructor: Tim Croce

Relative difficulty: Definitely Saturdayish for me but that young punk Caleb Madison slayed it so maybe Fridayish for others, but I could totally see it flirting with impossibility for others. IN SUM, medium-challenging.



THEME: None

Word of the Day: WUSHU (Chinese martial arts, collectively) —

Per Wikipedia, but not the entry on wushu, "Chinese martial arts, also referred to by the Mandarin Chinese term wushu and popularly as kung fu or gung fu, are a number of fighting styles that have developed over the centuries in China." Remember, karate and judo are Japanese, not Chinese, and they're the ones with senseis and dojos. Kung fu gives you Keith Carradine, implausibly.

Hello! It is I, Amy Reynaldo, formerly known as Orange, longtime crossword blogger. Rex and I used to talk about writing each other's posts and mimicking one another's style, but it just seemed too much like we would be savagely parodying each other rather than demonstrating our mastery of writing in another's voice. (Wait. Is there a difference?) Anyway, I have taken Jeffrey's instructions to heart. I was going to refuse to use the word "wacky" but did you see what happened? Croce done gone and put it in his puzzle! [Like the Three Stooges], they're WACKY all right, but I bet a lot of pencil-and-paper solvers will declare them WACKO today.

Two consecutive Saturday NYTs by the same constructor is a little weird to see, right? I really did not find the wavelength in this puzzle. All sorts of things just looking foreign to me. Like 23d, [1982 Donald Fagen hit subtitled "What a Beautiful World"]. I.G.Y.?? What the...? I was a big consumer of pop and rock in 1982 and this thing, I've never heard of it. Ever. Just sort of an alienating experience. We've been talking a lot the last few days at Diary of a Crossword Fiend about (pop) culture and individual wheelhouses, and this puzzle mostly eluded me.







Mind you, there was a gimme that let me break into the grid. That was 16a: [Title bandit in a Verdi work], ERNANI. And I know this exclusively from crosswords, so it's less fun to fill it in. There may be those among you who think it is fun to have squares you can fill in right away because you've done so damn many crosswords already but that's just sick. And not the sort of "sick" the kids talk about these days, meaning "totally, like, rad and phat." I mean the sick sick.

Before I go all ranty, let me outline what I liked just fine in the Bullets:
  • 1a. [If ya get what I mean...], WINK, WINK, nudge, nudge. Didn't quite read the clue and had trouble finding the answer, but when the crossings put it together for me, I liked seeing it.
  • 27a. AS GOOD AS GOLD ... but not as good as platinum.
  • 42a. [1980s gangster sobriquet], THE TEFLON DON. Not, as it appears in the grid, The Tef London. Love the word "sobriquet." As in "Kingsford is a charcoal sobriquet."
  • 56a. OLD NORSE! I'm fond of English words with Old Norse roots. Here's a list of them. The sleuth went berserk and ransacked his client's house. Awkward!
  • 61a. Cute clue. [Complement from the chef?] is a SIDE DISH. Whereas a compliment from the chef is "Hey, baby, you're looking fi-i-ine tonight."
  • 30d. WUSHU! [Chinese martial arts, collectively] is what that means. Good, because I've been wondering every time I drive past that Chicago Wushu joint. See? Crosswords really are educational. Don't call them up and ask if they can deliver the wushu pork.
  • 57d. DUD is [One not going out with a bang?], as in a firecracker that refuses to blow up. Really, isn't that a gift? Those yahoos in San Diego who ruined the fireworks show this week by igniting three barges' worth of pyrotechnics in a matter of seconds could have used a few DUDs to interrupt their big "oops."
There were, alas, more entries in the debit column.

I've never said "IT'S A NO-GO" (17a). STERE (41a) and TESLAS (43d) deliver one more Unit I've Never Used in Real Life than I like to see in a single puzzle (or maybe two more). ISTLE (2d: [Agave fiber]) is hardcore crosswordese. Burn that stuff in your ingle, yo. (Ingle is an archaic word meaning "fireplace." No habla ingles.) ISTLE makes APSES (49d) look fresh as a daisy. KNOWS ONE'S ONIONS (8d) is one of those phrases I've never heard anyone say and never read in a book. ENA (13a: [Disney doe]), meh. I wish S.DAK. (26d) would go away; we all just use "S.D." or "SD," let's be real. This LENS HOOD (37d: [Preventer of photographic glare])? Never heard of this thing and I can't say it sounds particularly exciting. Who is this Len fellow, anyway? He looks like a dork.

Signed, Amy Reynaldo, All-Powerful Creator and Goddess of CrossWorld

98 comments:

jae 12:44 AM  

Tough puzzle and my first DNF in quite a while.  Chose WACKo over WACKY by using the NATICK solution strategy described by @Evan on Tuesday...i.e. IGo made sense and I.G.Y. did not.  I actually had a Y in the square and erased it.  And no, I'm not blaming Evan.  I had all SORTS of other problems with this one.  Wanted rangeROVER and briefly thought rebus, KNOWSONESONIONS was not on the tip of my tongue, had ASONE for 23a for too long, and more...

I did mostly like the puzzle.  Zippy 13s... and challenging.

Nice to have you here Amy. Excellent as usual!

Noam D. Elkies 12:44 AM  

I've heard 43D:TESLA(S) used in conversation (scientific conversation, to be sure); I'm with you on the obscurity of the others in that ¶. I suppose that's what Saturday crosswords are for. And I don't think I've seen or heard "ingle" a single time outside word puzzles, though "inglenook" feels familiar.

Thanks for guest blogging,
—NDE

Tobias Duncan 12:56 AM  

I spent 6 months of my life in absolute terror that I would be sent to Ellsworth AFB. If you are a B1 bomber guy there are not many places they send you and most of my peers went there.
I was so grateful that I was sent to Abilene TX that I never even complained about being stationed in the middle of the bible belt.Turned out to be a fantastic place for an atheist with a strong desire to proselytize.
I loved that town!
Puzzle was slow going for the most part but steady.
I often dont finish Saturday puzzles so I doubt this one was more than a medium.

syndy 1:40 AM  

yeah! medium-challenging if by challenging you mean the brutal sw.I took F O R E V E R to bring up GABLER and without that-whew!YEESH! had a few gimmees the triumverate of ENA ALICE APSES helped!all the pressure did not.A nice saturday puzzle with a SIDEDISH of onions! thanks mr CROCE thanks MS orange but don.t go breakin our hearts with young Caleb M!

r.alphbunker 2:20 AM  

Had "know it inside out" and "know top to bottom" before getting KNOWSONESONIONS. Gridwise, there was something nice about "know top to bottom" that made me reluctant to get rid of it.

Like @jae finished with WACKo/IGo using the same Natick Resolution Algorithm.

Anerobes Catnap Michaels 3:58 AM  

@jae
Who are you, me?!!?
All your mistakes...WACKo, IGo, wanting rangeROVER, ASONE in 23A, till it appeared at 15A...
So finished with...ONE SQUARE WRONG!

(hmmm, maybe that should be the name of my own crossword blog)

I don't mind SDAK as I grew up in MINN back in the day that you could have more than two letters in your zip code. Look at 55D and you can find another one!

So much i didn't know, even tho I finished: OSMOTIC, ERNANI, ANTEGG, STERE, TESLAS, WUSHU, Angel Clare...so felt cognitive dissonance and not much joy.

One thing I did really like is the seeming impossibility of getting CATNAP/SLEPT from such vague clues...
(SLEPT seems a bit heavy for a CATNAP I tried dozed, plus it has a Z)

So, Do I have to look up Fat Monday myself?

In any case, thanks Amy. Nice to have a sub who KNOWSherONIONS. INSUM, long-AWAITED.
WINKWINK.

retired_chemist 7:37 AM  

Hand up for WACKO/I GO. Similar reasoning to everybody else. Also had trouble with Lundi GRAS VS, LUNDI GRAN. Both are (I think) grammatically correct and I didn't know what either meant. Great Monday vs. Fat Monday? WTF. Obviously I didn't know my AFB geography either.

So, a couple of Naticks, one of which I guessed right, just as statistics predict.

TESLAS and STERES were fine here. I thought there was a small difference between 1 liter and a cubic decimeter (.001 STERE). There was when I went to college but they fixed it in 1964.

42A was THE DAPPER DON for too long. I bet I am not alone..... Who is THETEF LONDON? :-)


A nice challenging puzzle, well worth the effort to solve. Thanks,Mr. Croce.

Leon 7:39 AM  

From Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep :

"Somebody’s counting on that. It’s the easiest way to fool them. That or the police. Geiger can collect on these notes, unless you can show fraud. Instead of that he makes you a present of them and admits they are gambling debts, which gives you a defense, even if he had kept the notes. If he’s a crook, he knows his onions, and if he’s an honest man doing a little loan business on the side, he ought to have his money. Who was this Joe Brody you paid the five thousand dollars to?"

know one's onions Vrb phrs.: Knowledgeable and competent in one's task. E.g."I'll say one thing for Craig, he knows his onions when it comes to repairing car engines."

Glimmerglass 7:41 AM  

Hand up here for I GO and WACKO. One square wrong. As I was doing this, I felt it was difficult -- lots of headscratchers (an ANT EGG isn't really an egg? Fat Monday?)-- but I finished in a half hour, which is very fast for me on Saturday.

GLR 8:49 AM  

IGY was one of the first things to go in the grid. I liked the song, but didn't realize it was Fagen solo and not Steely Dan. (IGY, by the way is International Geophysical Year).

Thought this puzzle was pretty challenging overall, and I finished with one wrong letter - the crossing of ERNANI and ENA (don't know my Verdi or my Disney).

KNOWS ONES ONIONS was also a new one for me.

Ruth 8:53 AM  

Thank you for including the link to Jeffrey's effort of Sunday past. It was a day I didn't get around to looking at the blog, and it would have been a dreadful shame to have missed it. It needs to go in some sacred archive of the RP site. Hilarious!

orangeblossomspecial 9:05 AM  

For some reason, Fagen's 23D hit didn't make it to the review's videos, so here is IGY.

4D KNAPSACK recalls a famous German folk song. This is a version in English - The Happy Wanderer.

As @Leon at 7:39 points out, 8DKNOWS ONES ONIONS was a popular phrase in the 20s and 30s. This is one of several recordings of "She knows her onions".

joho 9:07 AM  

I happily join all the other WACKOs here! The O made sense so too bad it was wrong. @Acme, OSWC = One Square Wrong Club ... I qualify to become a proud member.

@Amy, loved your write up and you stole my mUSHU pork line! Very funny!

My favorite answer by far was WINKWINK and YEESH is fun, too.
But there were a lot of scratch- your-head answers in this one including KNOWSONESONIONS.

Well, that one pesky square means DNF but because it was a struggle I liked it. Thank you, Tim Croce ... when it comes to puzzle construction you are ASGOODASGOLD!

Bill from FL 9:17 AM  

After such a struggle, it's rewarding to see Orange rate this Saturday as medium-challenging.

One quibble: I think JUTS should have been clued "protrudes," not "extrudes."

evil doug 9:19 AM  

Tobias,

My best buddy from pilot training was assigned a KC-135 to Ellsworth. An outdoorsy type, he spent his free time hunting mule deer and loved it.

I, too, spent my tour at Dyess in Abilene, in one of 3 tenant C-130 squadrons on your SAC base. Your B-1 must have shown up about the time I was signing out in 1979---all Buffs and old tankers back then. I knew the base information officer, and every time they launched he'd look out his window and say a prayer that they'd somehow get those heavies airborne before they ran out of runway so he wouldn't have to come up with some dreadful press releases....

When I started there in '75 you had to brown-bag booze or join a private club. They passed a liquor referendum---contrary to the wishes of that heavily churched community---and that really marked the beginning of Abilene as a great little city. Got my master's (in Human Relations and Management---yes, I know, the Human Relations apparently didn't take, right?) at Abilene Christian University. I was sort of like you---smoking on campus, promoting the liquor referendum and otherwise openly derisive of the strict religious rules---but that wonderful school ended up having a much bigger influence on me than I on it....

Evil

Z 9:24 AM  

Vidalia, Green, Red, Spanish, White, Shallots -I guess I know my onions.

jackj 9:36 AM  

Very often in solving, guesses that are wrong can turn those errors into things that are right such as thinking the key word in 1 across was (...something)THINK which got NAGANO and IMO and an assumed “K” at the end.

And, from that “K”, I was reminded that early on in business I worked for a guy whose ultimate expression of praise for someone was “He knows his onions” and sure 'nuff, KNOWSONESONIONS fit the answer like the proverbial glove.

As the puzzle unfolded, there were a host of answers, phrases especially, that called for aggressive guessing and for once things worked out with the likes of PASSAS, ITSANOGO and ASGOODASGOLD heading me in the right direction.

THETEFLONDON reminded me that about 15 years ago I saw a newspaper mention that John Gotti’s daughter Victoria had written a book called “Senator’s Daughter” and, being certain it was a “dese, dem and dose” extravaganza, I bought a curiosity copy and was pleased to find out she had actually produced a reasonably well-written mystery novel.

Finally, it seems that Tim Croce’s puzzles always set me to thinking in strange ways and seeing Woody Allen’s trademark, but predictable, NEUROSES in the puzzle had me thinking that Tim and Will might have coined an alternate 8 letter word that also fit and called it ANGSTISM.

Another good puzzle from the clever Mr. Croce.

Lindsay 9:37 AM  

I had planned to grouse about the WACKo/IGo crossing, but I see 12 of the previous 13 commenters have beaten me to it.

Only Dnald Fagen song I know is Steppin' Out, which is now going through my head. But that's OK. I like the song.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Back after a google, during which I discovered that Steppin' Out is actually Joe Jackson. Aren't crosswords grand? Learning something every day!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:38 AM  

Guessed right on the WACKY/IGY cross, though I was ready to complain about it.

But then I come to the blog and find that, having solved pen on paper, I had a mistake at 17A, had ITSANONO, never bothered to look at 7D!

Wade 10:06 AM  

Seeing Amy over here reminds me of how weird it was as a kid to see the characters of one TV show appearing on another TV show. I think Magnum PI helped Simon & Simon solve a crime one time and it was explained through some bullshit back-story like Magnum and AJ were in a band together and dated sisters or something.

Abilene is one of those places people who've never been there feel qualified to talk about like they're experts. (We have a lot of those places in Texas.) Abilene's a fine little town. I grew up about eighty miles east of there and had various school functions there as a kid and went to Hardin Simmons for a semester. ACC had a bad-ass pole-vaulter when I was in high school--Billy Olsen. He'd come to some of our track meets and hang out and generate awe, at least among pole vaulters, of which I was not one.

The puzzle was tough for me but not as tough as yesterday's. I went with the O instead of the Y in WACK and don't feel like that counts against me.

jncody 10:08 AM  

This was paaaaainful for me but Amy's write up made it all worthwhile and Z's comment made know ones onions better too.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

Thanks, Amy, for medicating Acme's PMS...or menopause, whichever....

JFC

mitchs 10:12 AM  

Confidently plunked down DAPPERdon, which led to some delays.

Tobias Duncan 10:22 AM  

@evil doug By the time I got there, the whiskey flowed freely and I whiled away many a Saturday night dancing at a goth bar downtown called the Upstairs Club.The Sexual revolution had just arrived (about ten years late) and was in full swing.
ACU was one of three Christian colleges that averaged about 80% female enrollment. Many of these women were sent there by overbearing parents who where terrified that their little girls would have sex if they went to a normal school.It was at Abilene Christian that I learned that the intense passion of a spirited ontological debate could be ... well it could be redirected at about 2AM. I eventually fell in with a group of gay guys that were pretty keen to hear that I did not think they were going to hell and all. In exchange they were only too happy introduce me to their female friends.
On base there was heavy drinking, hard work and deep camaraderie.I dont remember ever going to sleep.

Orange 10:23 AM  

@JFC, I don't know what your problem is (I read Rex daily but seldom have time for the comments), and PuzzleGirl didn't grant me the power to delete comments. Perhaps you will delete your comment yourself?

Norm 10:30 AM  

IGY/IGO and WACKY/WACKYO equals one big Natick and one big raspberry from me. Other than that (and YEESH -- is that really a word?), it was actually a nice tough puzzle

Tobias Duncan 10:39 AM  

@ Orange, Anons are unable to delete comments. Just one of the many reasons to come out of the closet and create a profile.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

Strike that last comment. I feel bad for making that bad joke, even though Acme couldn't resist another back-door slam on past volunteers. It should only read

Thank you, Amy, for medicating Acme....

JFC

Shamik 10:49 AM  

You had me at WINKWINK.

Found it to be a fun and easy puzzle in 14:07. Well, that's only because I'm a Naticky WACKO and a dyslexic STLIT/POTS. The latter looked ok in my review of the puzzle when Mr. Happy Pencil didn't appear. Still...always nice to do a puzzle the same day it appears.

Sir Hillary 10:54 AM  

Struggled with this one. Liked the long answers, especially THETEFLONDON, but overall this was a slog. I happen to be a Donald Fagen fan so didn't get caught up in the WACKO/IGO trap, but I can see how that could definitely be termed a Natick. For me, the Natick was the ERNANI/ENA cross, which I never completed. To me, when you have to rely on crosswordese in both directions, that's as bad as relying on knowledge of Donald Fagen.

Carola 10:57 AM  

Liked it a lot - many of those nice Aha! moments when the light went on - SKYPE, SIDE DISH, DECIMAL, IT'S A NO GO, TESLAS.

I got started in the NE with those two miscreants, the DEALER and ERNANI, and was doing fine until I got stuck at the grid's WAIST, around the left hip. I had to do quite a bit of alphabet review (or, rather, apply the Natick Resolution Algorithm - thank you, r.alph bunker!) until I thought I was GOOD AS GOLD with WUSHU, JUTS and WACKo/ IGo. So yeah, me, too - DNF, rats.

Amy, loved your write-up, @Tobias Duncan, loved your post.

Tita 11:04 AM  

Was thinking how great I was doing for a Saturday as I got 3/4s through - but SW totally slayed me, even with googling and Rex. Strangely glad to be back to tough Fri's & Sat's!

Re: DUD - friends who watched lots of war movies had a big old gray parrot, who learned to make bomb bursting noises...a long, arcing whistle, punctuated by the explosion. Every so often, he would parrot a DUD.

@JFC- - really? And uh - I'm quite sure you know how to delete comments, were that truly what you wanted...

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

Extrudes does not mean juts. Protrudes does. Poor

joho 11:21 AM  

@Isn't it odd how some people crave attention so much they don't even care if it's negative?

Deb Amlen 11:35 AM  

I still think Crossword Bwana would have been a good title.

Two Ponies 11:38 AM  

I'm in the One Wrong Square Club too but it is a different place.
I agree with others that extrudes is a bad clue. I went with "gets" and "gunky". The NCAA clue was meaningless to me as was the martial arts. Despite that little region I really enjoyed this one.
Thanks for sitting in Amy.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Must agree about JUTS - extrudes? It's a no-go...

Z 11:48 AM  

Sheryl Crow with Willie Nelson performing Abilene. I think she knows her onions, too.

Mel Ott 12:14 PM  

Include me among the WACKOs. I also thought PUNKY/PUTS made marginally more sense at the other Natick. JUTS makes absolutely no sense to me for 'Extrudes'.

Except for the two Naticks the rest of the puzzle was tough but solveable. (Is that a word? Soluble? A tad pretentious, I think.)

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Eeny meeny miny mo
I-G-Y or I-G-O??
Which word for 3 Stooges
should I choose?
All I can think of
is that they were JEWS...

(reference to a previous puzzle cringe)

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Easier than yesterday which is not saying much. Still a long solve for me. Had in unison for as one man. Try straightening that out. Oh well a couple hours well spent.nit really was a good tough Saturday test

JenCT 12:58 PM  

Too tough for me; DNF.

@sanfranman: I'm sure you've addressed this, but I can't seem to find it: Does the difficulty rating get skewed on harder days because the solvers are maybe better? For example, if a large percentage of people solve, say, a Monday as opposed to a small percentage who solve on a Saturday, and those Saturday solvers are better at crosswords, what does that do to the rankings?

Sorry for the long post, but hopefully my question makes sense???

Oh, and Amy: Great writeup!

And @Z: LOL different onions; also leeks, pearl, and WallaWalla

Gill I. P. 1:00 PM  

Just back from a long visit in San Diego.
@Amy if you really wanted to see "Bombs Bursting in Air" and not the firecracker kind, San Diego was the place to be. After the first 20 seconds of nothing, you could hear the wailing of every single soul north of the Tijuana border - and they weren't singing "La Cucaracha."
I really enjoyed getting back into my crossword WUSHU. I started very late last night and finally just finished. Never heard of YEESH and for 34A I had GUNKY, SUCKY, YUCKY PUCKY and just kept making up words. That was my DUD.
There's only Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) I guess every day leading up to Lent should be referenced with "Gras."
@Z HAH! You forgot Walla Walla, Cocktail, Pearl, Maui, Scallion, Egyptian and leeks and they all cause ANAEROBES to be fruitful and multiply.

Lindsay 1:08 PM  

@Tita ---
Black type (as opposed to blue type) comments can't be edited or deleted once they have been submitted.

For example, there's a dumb typo in the comment I left earlier, but nothing to be done about it now.

Clueless in Texas 1:21 PM  

YEESH! Big time DNF without the aid of Google. Feel like I was cruising all week and then hit a wall... of should I say "DUD" given the week started off with the Fourth of July bang... oh, well.

Abilene for me is and always will be the town in the Abilene Paradox, where (in a nut shell) four bored Texans who are sipping tea on a scorching hot day decide to take a drive to Abilene even though none of them wants to go--but no one speaks up, so they all end up there... return home still bored and hot, but now frustrated as well as well for having done something no one really wanted to do. Example of how bad decisions are made in business because, despite people knowing the decision is bad, no one speaks up. That's all.

Really enjoyed the write-up. the picture of LENS HOOD and the comments made me laugh.

dk 1:37 PM  

Punky for JUNKY as I grew up with boats. But Puts works for JUTS as I struggle, in vain, to deal with an epic fail.

*** (3 Stars) 2 weeks in a row YEESH-k-bibble!

hazel 2:02 PM  

@JFC - still not funny. Just a mean-spirited swipe that can only be intended to make someone feel bad - and has nothing to do with the puzzle to boot. Good grief.

This was a beyond category 1 climb (for Le Tour fans) for me!! Lost my legs early on, and basically struggled the whole way. Just didn't feel it. Although i am now curious to go look up the origin of KNOWSONESONIONS - which seems like it would be a pretty simple area to "master"!

I think @dk's YEESH-k-bibble might sum it up for me too.

Cat fancier 2:14 PM  

Hand up for CATNAP and SLEPT.

Lewis 2:20 PM  

I did need a couple of Googles, after which things flowed well. This puzzle was high quality, IMO.

My dictionary says a STERE is one cubic meter. Can one put 1,000 liters into a cubic meter?

Lewis 2:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zed 2:37 PM  

@Lewis - A liter is 1/1,000 of a cubic meter, so yes.

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

This puzzle was asinine. "IGY"? "Teflon Don" rather than "Dapper Don" for John Gotti? I have one word for this faux-clever pile of wacky junkiness: yeesh!

Carola 3:13 PM  

On JUTS for "extrudes" - also a doubter, I checked the OED. Turns out it's okay, if "rare":

"2. intr. for refl. To protrude out. rare.
....
1865 'Umbra' Trav. 18 The great fount, the basin of which..extrudes like a large boil from the plain."

Some imagery!

Carola 3:15 PM  

Sorry, could have been clearer above that I was looking up "extrude."

mitchs 3:37 PM  

How about an intialism or portmanteau or some such for anonymice who "hate this puzzle", cause it's the "worst puzzle ever" or "asinine", and/or abuse this open format for personal attacks on other bloggers?

"Anonymouse" seems tame to me.

mac 3:39 PM  

Wacko, alright. And I gave up on juts (which sounds so wrong) and whu-.

I enjoyed the rest of the puzzle a lot, medium challenging most of the way with some cute moments. Especially liked the neuroses, side dishes, the teflon don and wink wink! There was a clue in a puzzle the last couple of days in which I wanted wink.

Thanks, Amy!

Glaucon 3:52 PM  

I only know my onions because of the Shins' song, Know Your Onion.

JohnV 3:57 PM  

Here's the good news: ERNANI was a gimme as I've sung it. Here's the bad news: that was the ONLY entry I was sure of. DNF. @amy, put me in the impossible camp, after two hours.

chefbea 4:19 PM  

Too busy today preparing dinner for company. so DNF. But did get wacky!!

I DO know my onions..sometimes have them as a side dish but never make them in a teflon pan!!!

Sparky 4:49 PM  

Draw a veil on my misery. Had only the SE corner, WAIST, ALICE, ENA and RIP. Please don't get rid of Bambi's aunt now that I can remember her. Gave up completely.

Finished Sunday. Working on L A Times. Thanks Amy for a nice write up.

pk 4:51 PM  

Anybody else squint at 23A answer IN SUM and 10D Clue Form of "sum?"

Otherwise, fun puzzle. Learned lots of "stuff" about onions, wushu, and stere.

Deb 5:00 PM  

Hell froze over an hour or so ago when I found myself belatedly agreeing with JFC's comment on Wednesday's blog, and now I've apparently fallen down the rabbit hole because I am utterly non-plussed that @Orange et al think he should delete today's comment while giving @acme a pass for her second "mean-spirited swipe" at the guest blogger for the PIXAR puzzle. Oh, well - at least she did a bang-up job of proving my point about insincere apologies...and now I know to guest blog anonymously (from a SOLVER'S point of view!) when my turn comes up.

As for the puzzle... ACK. It killed me. Hand up here for really disliking JUT as a synonym for EXTRUDE. Not EVERY friggin' clue needs to be difficult on a Saturday, dammit.

Anonymous 5:27 PM  

Aw deb, give it a rest

JenCT 5:29 PM  

@Sparky: "Draw a veil on my misery." Is that Goethe? I like that!

Acme 6:02 PM  

@deb
Can't wait!
I stand by everything i say, including my apologies!

I no more want jfc to be censored than I would want to be...
He shows himself daily for who he is, as, I hope, do I.

I do, however, want to offer my sincere apologies to the sweet folks who feel they have to waste their valuable, insightful, witty posts defending me against cranky acmehaters who seem to feel they are intimate enough with me to know what's in my heart and where I am in my menstrual cycle!

lawprof 6:04 PM  

This weekend approached on a total bummer. Thursday's (SHIFTKEY) puzzle was a huge DNF. To make matters worse, many of you characterized it as easy, fun, fresh etc., which suggested that I was suffering an episode of Middleheimer's.

But then Friday succumbed without a fight, and Saturday seemed not much harder, with only one writeover (31D ANAEROBic/ANAEROBES) and two minor corrections (wrote in a terminal "s" at 44D and 48D, which were clued as plurals, but ended in "i").

There was much to love in this puzzle, in particular the complement/compliment reference to the chef at 61A. While John Gotti is (was?) sometimes referred to as the Dapper Don, THETEFLONDON (42A) occurred to me first. Never even thought of WACKo, so avoided the Natick at 23D/30A.

One quibble: I'm familiar with the expression "knows his/her onions," but KNOWSONESONIONS (8D)seems a bit strained.

Wonderful puzzle. And I feel much better now.

Anonymous 6:24 PM  

Agree: extrudes is wrong clue. PROTRUDES is correct. Otherwise enjoyable puzzle.

dictonary.com 6:28 PM  

EXTRUDE - (v.intr.) - To protrude or project.

You don't have to like it, but it's not incorrect.

chefwen 6:58 PM  

Anybody else unable to download Sunday's puzzle?2

hazel 7:12 PM  

@chefwen - I cant get either. Looks like the link to it is broken....

loren muse smith 7:16 PM  

@chefwen - every time I clicked "play," I was directed to another place. I had to use the pdf version.

@jae - ick! Not my routine!

chefwen 7:43 PM  

@hazel - Per loren's hint I was able to get it print it out using the pdf version. @loren muse smith - Thank you so much I wouldn't have thought to go that route. DOH!

retired_chemist 8:23 PM  

AL Sunday link still broken. Bah.

Gill I. P. 8:32 PM  

@Deb: Here's the difference....ACME has been contributing to this blog for many years. She draws ones attention to details that make me smack my head once I "get" it or "see" it. @Rex does the same but many times he's not on my wave length and won't always bring up the little nuances that makes a crossword really great - or not. I, and I'm sure many on this blog have learned a ton from her input - not to mention the humor and her infamous background stories.
JFC on the other hand, just wants a rise out of anybody who'll respond to his crassness. Misspell a word or use a semi colon instead of a comma and you can bet your bippy you'll hear from him. Are we having fun yet?
Hell never freezes over; some people just have some good old fashion manners, and other, well they never had lernin.
In Spanish (Cuba actually) there is a saying that goes "Toma chocolate, paqa lo que debes."

jae 8:34 PM  

@loren -- Rather than ponder this I gotta ask -- What routine??

Dirigonzo 8:37 PM  

I finished with a blank square at the ERNA_I/E_A cross because any random letter could have gone there for all I know. I also had WACKo and ITSANOnO so I didn't quite qualify for ACM's OSWC, but I came pretty close.

Saturday is my only window on what is happening in Rexworld in "real time" as I solve the syndicated puzzle every other day of the week, so I am glad to see @ACME posting here again - I will reactivate the ACME Fan Club on my blog forthwith.

Dirigonzo 8:45 PM  

@Gil I. P. - "Toma chocolate, paqa lo que debes." Does that translate to something you can share here?

Nina 8:48 PM  

HELLO - As a commenter wrote at NYT blog today, this week's misogynist series continues. ASONEMAN today does not = generic unity. Earlier we were treated (?) to TIEATIE, with generic "you" = men. Then, MAILMAN, ADMAN, and AREAMAN pop their ugly heads.
C'mon, folks, wake up! We need to speak up about these way-out-of date, offensive fills.

retired_chemist 8:57 PM  

@ Dirigonzo - Eat chocolate and pay what you owe.

Dirigonzo 9:20 PM  

@retired-chemist - Thanks, I think. Knowing @Gil I.P. as I do (from her posts here) I was expecting something a little more "colorful". How are the pups?

MaryRoseG 9:32 PM  

John Gotti, The Teflon Don because charges wouldn't stick to him. A big gimme for those of us from Long Island.

Joe The Juggler 9:43 PM  

The Wiki article cited seems to have gotten its Carradines mixed up. Kwai Chang Caine was David, not Keith.

Gene 11:12 PM  

19A - anyone else think the "an" should be "a"? Or the clue should be reformatted so both the clue and clue/answer combo are grammatically correct?

Tita 11:34 PM  

Link to Sunday puz seems to be working now...

sanfranman59 12:16 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:56, 6:50, 1.01, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:18, 8:57, 0.82, 5%, Easy (8th lowest median solve time of 158 Tuesdays)
Wed 14:09, 11:47, 1.20, 91%, Challenging
Thu 17:52, 18:54, 0.95, 44%, Medium
Fri 22:05, 24:43, 0.89, 30%, Easy-Medium
Sat 29:04, 29:29, 0.99, 50%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:27, 3:41, 1.21, 97%, Challenging (5th highest median solve time of 157 Mondays)
Tue 4:06, 4:38, 0.89, 15%, Easy
Wed 6:47, 5:53, 1.15, 88%, Challenging
Thu 10:54, 9:21, 1.17, 82%, Challenging
Fri 10:58, 12:15, 0.90, 33%, Easy-Medium
Sat 15:26, 16:43, 0.92, 38%, Easy-Medium

@JenCT ... I don't think the varying number of solvers each day has much of an effect on the numbers and ratings I post. This is because I compare each day's median solve times (in each group of solvers) to the mean for that day of the week among all of the puzzles in my spreadsheet. So each day (in each group) is kind of serving as it's own control group (in research-speak). It's true that tougher puzzles tend to have fewer solvers submitting correct solutions. But it's also true that the solve times for the tougher puzzles are higher among those who do submit correct solutions.

Having worked with these data for more than 3 years now, it seems to me that the All Solvers ratings are more reliable for assessing the difficulty of the easier early week puzzles, while the Top 100 Solvers ratings are probably better for tougher late week puzzle. Here's my reasoning:

The early week puzzles are so easy for the fastest solvers that they are doing them pretty close to as fast as is humanly possible. So there's not all that much difference in solve times among this group for an Easy Monday puzzle vs. a Medium or even a Challenging Monday (the median solve time that is currently at the high end of the Easy range is 3:25 and the low end of the Challenging range is 3:54). Solve times for easy puzzles in this group of solvers are clustered at the low end of the solve time distribution. Less variability means less discrimination. Since the All Solvers group's times are more spread out, they're probably better for evaluating the difficulty of easier puzzles.

The reason I think the Top 100 Solvers median (i.e. the 50th fastest solve time) is better for evaluating more difficult puzzles is because the more difficult the puzzle, the less likely it is that an average solver is going to submit a correct solution at all. This has the effect of artificially lowering the All Solvers group median because solvers who would ordinarily have posted higher times aren't posting a time at all (because they don't finish). The Top 100 median solve time is not affected by this kind of bias.

Make sense?

JenCT 4:02 AM  

@sanfranman: Thanks! I understand it now.

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

Did anyone else notice the error at 87D, "Extrudes"? Jut means to PROtrude. Extrude is when you force something through something else, like cookie dough through a press.

Thinking of Leaving Rexville 8:30 AM  

@Anonymous, 7:55 AM --

Yes, actually, that observation has been made about fifty times already. Doesn't anyone read posted Comments before writing their own?

Is that a rude question? If so, it seems to fit the tenor of the blog!

JaxInL.A. 1:05 PM  

Amy, you made my morning by NOT rating this easy, as I feel Rex always seems to do with puzzles I can't finish. The SW was brutal, but so was the center where I never heard of THE TEFLON DON and though I know onions, I never heard that phrase. In fact, my solving mirrored what Amy wrote (though I have actually heart Beethoven's ERNANI) (a fine opera but not worth going out of your way for).

This puzzle has 6 Us and 5 Ks. Is that K-count unusual?

Acme 1:13 PM  

@Z, @gill ip
You two should collaborate on a puzzle using your respective lists as the first part of phrases with the reveal KNOWSONESONIONS 15.
(Esp now that folks have learned that phrase or have been reminded of it. )
And if you need help, I can help!

Sharon NYC 7:57 PM  

Found this one very hard to break through at first--very few gimmes for me--, but then once I had a handful of clues, the rest came. The whole puzzle took some thought, but it was fun.

I'll confess: when I first started, I got NILE, VIA and a few misbegotten guesses (e.g.,"as sure as," instead of "AS GOOD AS" or "as one" in place of "IN SUM"). Though I was inclined to pencil in the correct AWAITED, and vividly remember Tara Lipinsky's Olympic skating win, for the life of me I could not remember the city in which the games took place. Soooo....I looked up NAGANO.

From there, I was, er, as good as gold, able to get through the rest of the puzzle w/o outside reference. It took some work--enough to keep it interesting, but without frustration.

Getting to TESLAS was a proud moment. Thirty years ago, I was an abysmal failure at college physics. I liked it, and worked very hard at it, but just couldn't get through an exam alive. Something stuck though! I was able troll through blurred memories of electro-magnetism and make an actual educated guess.

That word unlocked a load of important clues...I was able to leave London, as it were, and get to Gotti's TEFLON DON nickname (as a NYer, I too know this one from real life).

Amy: a lens hood is a metal piece that screws on to the lens of an SLR camera, and hangs a bit past the lens. Essentially, it works just like a visor. Fairly standard piece of equipment for an avid amateur or pro photog.

Answers/Clues I loved: Nuclei, for scientific research centers. Lovely! Side dish, Wink Wink...actually, as I peruse the puzzle, there's a load more. So, all in all--nice job, Tim Croce!

Sharon NYC 8:02 PM  

Forgot a shout out:@Amy Reynaldo, the photo of the Sherwood Forest-like guy for "Len's Hood" is HILARIOUS. Thanks for that!

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

From Syndication Land

How is provider of some light fare "Pops"?

Bob Kerfuffle 4:12 PM  

Like the Boston Pops Orchestra, say.

Spacecraft 4:38 PM  

@ anon 3:17: Presumably Mr. Croce refers to the Boston POPS Orchestra, which typically plays not-quite-so-longhair material.

@Lindasy: I still remember the first time I heard Joe Jackson's Steppin' Out--and thinking, at last! A really original piece of music! Loved it and still do.

Does anybody think that 27 S's are a bit much for a 15x15? I do, and I also didn't like some of the clues. "Mardi____" would be a Monday clue, but "Lundi____?" Woo, that's a nevah-hoidofit. Others on that list include KNOWSONESONIONS. I had all but the last three letters of that in, and simply could not think of any word or two-word expression that starts ONI___ except ONIONS. I suspect I never heard of that one because it makes no sense at all. What does it mean to know one's onions? Mushrooms I can believe; so you know which ones are inedible and so on. But onions? Bah. No wonder nobody ever says that.

Hand up also for the protrudes vs. extrudes clue. And that little "Oh, O.K." doesn't accurately convey SURE, the clue seeming to contain reluctance while the entry certainly does not.

And I wouldn't exactly call the NILE a "stream." Well, despite all this, I got down to the natick in the NE. Guess, or Google? It was all done but for that, so I guessed N. Hooray! But then I discovered that the perfectly plausible WACKO|IGO was wrong! IGY? Really? IGY????? You have GOT to be kidding me!

DMGrandma 5:24 PM  

I knew today's puzzle would make me pay for acing yesterday's! With 8D KNOWSallabout it trying, unsuccessfully, to cross 27A Withoutfault, I had a logjam that I never solved. Particularly upsetting as I had walked through the NW corner.

There were a lot more snags. On one of many cross country transfers, some sixty or so years ago, my Dad took us to lunch at the Ellsworth O. Club, and I was sure that was in Utah. In fact, I would have said I've never been to SDAK. STERE, I learned from puzzles, is a measure of firewood, so hardly, to me, a liquid measure. Agree that JUTS is overly obscure in the proffered sense. Had WACKY, but couldn't parse I-Y. Thanks to this blog I now know it means International Geophysical Year. But, how do you write a song about that??

Thanks to Amy for a great write up. She explained a lot without making me feel totally hopeless.

Dirigonzo 6:14 PM  

The Perseid meteor shower peaks tonight/tomorrow morning with up to 60 meteors per hour expected, so if the sky is clear in your part of syndiland I hope you can get out and marvel at the majesty and wonder of the universe! It's a beautiful world we live in. See you back here tomorrow.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

I am flummoxed by those who said this puzzle was easier than Friday's. I had my fastest solve time ever yesterday. Today's was 3 times longer, and had an error at the Ernani/Ena cross. To each his own, I guess.

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