Astronaut Cooper informally / TUE 8-7-12 / Saturn's second-largest moon / Plotter against Cassio in "Othello" / Staple of IHOP booths

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Constructor: Mike Buckley

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging



THEME: punny quip —>


  • 20A: With 38-Across, a complaint (DOC, I'M ADDICTED TO / TWITTER)
  • 40A: With 57-Across, response to the complaint (SORRY, I'M NOT FOLLOWING YOU)


[this is "funny" because of the play on the word "FOLLOWING," which is what one does to other people (or companies, or other entities) on Twitter if you want to receive their "tweets"]

Word of the Day: LYDIA (8D: Neighbor of ancient Phrygia) —

Lydia (AssyrianLudduGreekΛυδία) was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minorlocated generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern Turkish provinces of Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian.
At its greatest extent, the Kingdom of Lydia covered all of western Anatolia. Lydia (known as Sparda by the Achaemenids) was a satrapy (province) of the Achaemenid Empire, withSardis[1] as its capital. Tabalus, appointed by Cyrus the Great, was the first satrap (governor). (See: Lydia (satrapy)).
Lydia was later the name for a Roman provinceCoins are thought to have been invented in Lydia[2] around the 7th century BC. (wikipedia)
• • •

Greetings from Gold Beach, OR, where my family (15 of us) are enjoying a weeklong vacation in a gigantic home overlooking the Pacific. The home belongs to a TV actor of some note, and his less famous actress wife. They were on TV shows in the '70s-'80s. One of those shows was "CHiPs." If this all sounds a little surreal, you are correct. Oh, and I just found out that my artist friend, Emily Jo Cureton, lives very near here, so I'm hoping to see her tomorrow. She did a series of drawings based on NYT crossword puzzles a few years back. They are legendary. Check them out if you haven't already.

As for the puzzle: Groaner. If you are someone who actually calls your physician "Doc," I'm guessing you liked this. As punny quips go, this is ... one. It's fine. Trying to make any kind of sense out of DOCIMADD wasn't too fun, but the play on "Following" is solid, if not particularly scintillating. Cluing and fill felt tough for a Tuesday, and quote puzzles generally play slower-than-average—hence the difficulty rating. I just asked my dad, a retired physician, if any patient ever called him "Doc":
Not really. Maybe a few times. Usually 'Doctor' or 'Doctor Sharp.' Calling your doctor 'doc' is more a military thing. You'd say that to your doctor in the military. Soldiers respect you as a doctor, and respect what you know, but they also see you as more of a peer and are less hung up or worried about rank around you, so that's why you have the informal 'Doc.' But in private practice, no, patients are generally more formal.

My dad is a smart, no-nonsense man. Now, he also told us, on our way to the store, that my sister *didn't* need more store-bought pie dough when she had, in fact, explicitly told him she *did* need more store-bought pie dough, so ... he does make mistakes. My sister and I agree, this is very much a dad thing, not an age thing. He's human. He's wrong sometimes. But I trust him on this 'doc' thing. Mainly because the whole "calling your doctor 'doc'" thing sounds so unlikely/olde-tyme jokey to me. A joke convention. Something someone who likes to tell jokes and thinks he's good at telling them would say. Doc.

I am on Twitter. I have something like 2100 Followers. People who aren't on Twitter often have hostility toward it, usually in inverse proportion to how much they know about how it actually works. I like Twitter because I can "follow" people/news feeds that I like and trust, and the rest of the noise of the Twitterverse never touches me. It's customizable. Brilliant. Useful. A huge time-suck if you're not disciplined, it's true, but overall, it's been a big plus for me. Whenever I sit down to my computer, I go Facebook, Twitter, email acct 1, email acct 2, done. I try not to spend more than 15 min. online any time I check my updates (this is because I already spend tooooo much time sitting at the damned computer). My family makes me feel like my computer addiction is normal. In fact, they make me look like a moderate user. There are so many laptops and iPhones and tablets in the house (which is full of 15 members of my family), that mine hardly rates a notice (though my nephew think it's cool—I'm on a MacBook Air, which is paperthin and light and lovely). But I (really) digress. [...] I need to cut to the chase because a. my family is wondering what's up with my antisocial, leave-the-table-to-use-the-computer behavior, and b. my nephew is hurling stuffed animals off the interior balcony in a way that is not conducive to my focusing on anything. Asked why he's throwing them off the balcony: "I'm just throwing them." He's kind of inscrutable.

I honestly don't know who Gordon Cooper is, so I sure as hell don't know GORDO (1D: Astronaut Cooper, informally). That made the NW toughish, esp. as I also had SLOTH for SNAIL (4D: Symbol of slowness). I was just thinking, earlier today (and I swear this is true), that one often sees AGIN but rarely sees FER in the grid. And now here's AGIN. Again. Had trouble seeing how a STAB was a [Wound] (31D: Wound for Cassio). If I had a knife wound, I doubt I would ask people to tend to my STAB. (I would probably be shouting all manner of profanity, truth be told. I do like the idea of my calmly stating: "Pardon me, could someone please tend to my STAB? I appear to be bleeding quite profusely"—but I think adrenalin would wreck havoc with my genteel fantasy persona). Also: I had BUOY for QUAY and decided to spell BROOCH as BROCHE for some reason. Also: Saturn's second-largest moon (RHEA)? WTF, Tuesday? Clues on IAGO (37A: Plotter against Cassio in "Othello") and DREAM (50A: Subject of a painting by Picasso or Rousseau) were no help, the first because of name confusion (Cassius for Cassio, which made me think "Julius Caesar" instead of "Othello," even though the clue Clearly states "Othello"...), the second because nothing about either of those artists says "DREAM" to me. At all. But I managed to remember Dean RUSK, so that's something (considering I was alive for only one month of the 1960s, and that month is, consequently, kind of hazy) (66A: 1960s secretary of state Dean).

I think my favorite part of this grid is the inclusion of both COVERGIRL (10D: Beauty on display) and GQMODEL (44D: Hunk on display). The clue on SYRUP—delicious, and accurate (54D: Staple of IHOP booths). I also like HANDMIX. I'd love to have some HANDMIXed whipped cream on the peach pie I'm about to consume, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to settle for the spray-on kind. It's a hard life wherever you go, I guess.

Once more from Oregon tomorrow, then a couple of travel days during which Puzzlegirl will do the write-ups (uh, hey ... Puzzlegirl ... I have something to ask you ...), and then it's back to Normal on Saturday.

One last thing—the Alzheimer's Foundation of America is holding a crossword-puzzle contest, with puzzle(s) created by the legendary Merle Reagle. You should get in on it, fer sure. Contest begins Sep. 30 at 3 pm Eastern.

Later.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

81 comments:

jae 12:35 AM  

Quote/joke puzzles always take me longer and are more of a slog as I try to fill in the missing words.  So, medium-tough, but the joke was sorta cute and "modern" as they say in crossword clues.  Plus, as Rex pointed out, GQMODEL and COVERGIRL are zippy...and, it's  Tues. after all.

GORDy didn't help so NW was last to fall.  Last entry was changing MaNET to MONET as OCELAT made no SENSE.

Agora Crocks M(a?o?)net? 12:37 AM  

Here's whythis puzzle is super important...at least to constructors...
Nine out of ten times , we get puzzles rejected because they "don't tickle him" (Will Shortz)
NOW we actually see a joke that must have tickled him...a rare glimpse into the enigmatic funny bone of the man who has the final say on what he finds amusing!!!!!!

Constructors can study this two liner line a runic stone and now know what to do!

MINSK? pINSK? I feel a Seinfeld excerpt coming on.

By the way, I call foul on both fill-in-the-blanks : Actor Robert De ____!
And it took me foreveh "On a(n) ___ basis". ..
Needs to know? First name?

retired_chemist 12:40 AM  

A new, gentler Rex Parker,it seems......

I thought the puzzle was on target for a Tuesday. No real trouble anywhere, typical Tuesday time. Helped by guessing OCELOT, else the NW would have been a slog.

Strategy was to ignore the theme until I had a good slug of crosses, at which point it came in loud and clear.

Oompa-Loompas was an answer on a Jeopardy! rerun we watched today.

Thanks, Mr. Buckley.

retired_chemist 12:45 AM  

@ Agora Crocks M(a?o?)net?
MINSK and PINSK.

You need to get more than halfway through, but it's worth a listen.

Clark 12:54 AM  

Agora Crocks Monet: Was that a request? Happy to oblige. "Announcer: A young woman's strange erotic journey from Milan to Minsk. It's a story about life, and love, and becoming a woman. 'Rochelle, Rochelle' now playing at the Paradise Twin." And here is Bette Midler singing about Rochelle.

I malapopped on 4D, thinking that a "symbol of slowness" might be SYRUP. That doesn't happen to me very often.

I can tell that my jet lag is gone because I can do puzzles again. Yippee!

chefwen 1:08 AM  

@Clark - Where did the gang go this time? I'm sure it was way more exotic than my biannual trek to the beautiful, exciting UP of Mich. C'mon make me envious.

The original fill of DOCIMADD had me scratching my head until I revealed TWITTER, then it all kinda fell into place. Never heard of of The Secret of NIMH at 57D and was sure I had a mistake somewhere in there. Little chewy for a Tuesday, but isn't the what Tuesdays are all about?

Up and onward.

pk 1:25 AM  

Stood FIRM instead of FAST for awhile, and would never have figured out "DOC" if it hadn't been for the C in PIECE.

Rex and his dad are right, no one calls their doctor "doc." Sorry. I call mine Jimmy. Or Honey. I sometimes refer to him as "Doctor B."

Charles in Austin 1:57 AM  

Penelope Gilliatt constructed the following palindrome:

DOC NOTE I DISSENT A FAST NEVER PREVENTS A FATNESS I DIET ON COD

She was okay with "Doc" for "Doctor."

Evan 2:05 AM  

While I'm not crazy about punny quote themes, I think one can admire the cleanliness of the grid -- with some minor exceptions (like ESAU, ERNO, and I suppose GORDO too), the grid is filled exceptionally well with very little short dreck. Here's one reason why: There are zero 3-letter words in the puzzle. That's rare for any day of the week, but especially so for a Tuesday.

My write-overs were BROnze before BROOCH, MaNET before MONET, and my favorite, "On an ADult basis" instead of AD HOC at 2-Down.

Brief report from Lollapuzzoola: I had to leave halfway through, but I still had a real good time, as I expected to. It was nice to meet some other devotees of the blog like @Bob Kerfuffle, @Sparky, @imsdave, @Matthew G, @Doug P, and @Tita for the second time, plus some experts like the substitute-Rex-for-a-day Erik Agard and the GHOSTFACE KILLAH puzzle maker Guy Tabachnik. I had some good talk with Brendan Emmett Quigley and Patrick Blindauer about a recent puzzle submission......I shall say no more on that for now.

And of course, when I spoke briefly with Will Shortz, I discovered that the true secret to getting one's puzzle published is actually quite simple: Just cross out the name of the constructor and write your own name over the byline!

syndy 4:09 AM  

I was surprised to see medium/challenging for this but when you throw in "I've never heard of Gordon "GORDO" Cooper" ! whoa no wonder.(HINT he had some of the Right Stuff)tuesdays:<

jae 4:11 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 7:09 AM  

GORDO? Oh well.

NEHI clued as "short stature" is kind of cute. And I do like seeing the egalitarian inclusion of GQ MODEL and COVER GIRL. I vote for beach volleyballers over the over exposed swimmers for GQ.

Otherwise, it's Tuesday.

John V 7:47 AM  

Tale of two puzzles: NW and everything else. Could not come up with GORDO so GAPS crossing got stuck at TABS even though I knew it had to be PIECE for 3D. So, a DNF on a Tuesday.

I enjoyed the play on word(s) for FOLLOWING. Fun puz, notwithstanding the DNF; was otherwise medium.

Purplepol 7:51 AM  

Please clarify for me. This puzzle is rated Medium-challenging. Is that in reference to Tuesday puzzles or all puzzles?

Geometricus 8:00 AM  

Liked this puzzle a lot! Fell crunchy and fast for me. Unlike some, I actually like quote puzzles. Maybe it's all those Cryptoquips I did as a kid, I can usually figure out words in the sentence from a few letters. But this time I didn't really need the quip, since the fill was Tuesday easy for me and provided most the 'complaint' and most of the 'answer'.

@Agora Crocks Monet, you still in Mpls? We're having some lovely weather here, bit of a break from all the heat. Love to play Scrabble with you sometime!

evil doug 8:03 AM  

You're right, Syndy---sounds like a lot of people here ought to read/watch "The Right Stuff". Gordo was kind of a forgotten man during the Mercury days and the Original Seven astronauts. But Tom Wolfe made him an amusing and endearing star in his own right (stuff).

'Syrup' next to 'toast' just lacked the French. I don't speak it, but I like to kiss that way....

Also: 'roasts' and 'crocks'.

Michael's probably right about my aversion to Twitter. But so far I haven't felt sufficient inducement to figure it out and use it.
**********************************
"Pardon me sir, did you see what happened?"

"Yeh, I did...half-time, I was just going down there
To get Ethel a snow cone.
Here he come right our of the cheap seats,
Dribblin'...right down the middle of the court.
Didn't have on nothin' but his PF's.
Made a hook shot and got out thru the concession stand.
I hollered up at Ethel, I said, 'Don't look Ethel!"
It was too late...She'd already got a free shot.
Grandstanded...Right there in front of the home team."

Ray Stevens, "The Streak"
*******************************

Evil

FAQ - click on it sometime 8:11 AM  

@purplepol - ratings are relative to the day of the week. So medium-challenging compared to other Tuesday puzzles.

evil doug 8:16 AM  

PF,s--for you youngsters---are PF Flyers, Keds' big competitor in those days. Keds---for you youngsters---were canvas gym shoes with rubber soles. When we reached the age where sports got more serious, we graduated to Chuck Taylor's Converse All-Stars---which, incredibly, are still popular among kids today in what must be an ironic retro thing.

And, O yes, it might be a record: Gordo, Erno, Niro, hero, mayo, Iago, aero, olio, Chico. Hard to believe no 'oreo' today....

Evil

The Bard 8:23 AM  

Othello > Act V, scene I

RODERIGO: I have no great devotion to the deed;
And yet he hath given me satisfying reasons:
'Tis but a man gone. Forth, my sword: he dies.

IAGO: I have rubb'd this young quat almost to the sense,
And he grows angry. Now, whether he kill Cassio,
Or Cassio him, or each do kill the other,
Every way makes my gain: live Roderigo,
He calls me to a restitution large
Of gold and jewels that I bobb'd from him,
As gifts to Desdemona;
It must not be: if Cassio do remain,
He hath a daily beauty in his life
That makes me ugly; and, besides, the Moor
May unfold me to him; there stand I in much peril:
No, he must die. But so: I hear him coming.

[Enter CASSIO]

RODERIGO: I know his gait, 'tis he.--Villain, thou diest!

[Makes a pass at CASSIO]

CASSIO: That thrust had been mine enemy indeed,
But that my coat is better than thou know'st
I will make proof of thine.

[Draws, and wounds RODERIGO]

RODERIGO: O, I am slain!

[IAGO from behind wounds CASSIO in the leg, and exit]

CASSIO: I am maim'd for ever. Help, ho! murder! murder!

[Falls]

[Enter OTHELLO]

OTHELLO: The voice of Cassio: Iago keeps his word.

RODERIGO: O, villain that I am!

OTHELLO: It is even so.

CASSIO: O, help, ho! light! a surgeon!

OTHELLO: 'Tis he:--O brave Iago, honest and just,
That hast such noble sense of thy friend's wrong!
Thou teachest me. Minion, your dear lies dead,
And your unblest fate hies: strumpet, I come.
Forth of my heart those charms, thine eyes, are blotted;
Thy bed, lust-stain'd, shall with lust's blood be spotted.

[Exit]

jberg 8:25 AM  

So, in real life you never see a rabbi, a priest, and a Shetland pony walk into a bar together, either. (I created the situation, the punchline is up to you.) Jokes have conventions - that's how you know it's OK to laugh.

Fortunately, I had DD-CT long before I had DOCIMADD (I couldn't figure out how to cross OCELOT with Sloth), so it was relatively to see that this was about addiction. The rest was easy.

But I'm with ACME - AD HOC is the worst fill-in ever.

@Rex - Welcome back, but I'm worried - already forgotten the first month of your life, and now you're promoting an Alzheimer's charity. That's how the memory goes, you know, one month at a time. I'm up to about 20 years now.

Milford 8:32 AM  

Took me a few more passes than a Tuesday normally would, NW was the last to complete.
I think of the Mrs. Frisby book for 57D, I guess there was a movie made about the book?
Maybe because I don't know the actual plot of the novel, but is Tarzan really a HERO?
Favorite answers were definitely COVERGIRL and GQMODEL.
@Rex - are you sure you can't give more hints about the CHiPs actors?

Tita 8:48 AM  

I knew I was old when the kid I was babysitting for, upon the 10th anniversary of the moon landing (over which I was major-excited), looked at me wide-eyed - "You mean people have been to the moon???!"
(Of course, "old" to me then was 22...)
It still stuns me, briefly, when someone doesn't know key details about the early space program, which mesmerized and inspired me as a kid.

Puzzle? I'm not wild about quips as themes, but the fill was good. Agree it was tough for Tuesday.
OLeO caused a DNF, since it made me guess geNSK, then teNSK, before I realized what was happening.

Welcome back, Mr. Parker. I shall put 9/30 on my calendar.

Today's NYT Science Section 8:59 AM  

In the 38 years since the Hungarian architecture professor Erno Rubik invented his cube, it has alternately been regarded as an object of fun, art, mathematics, nostalgia and frustration. Some credit its enduring fame to its universality — it requires no instructions or cultural context — and some to its complexity. What other child’s toy could so befuddle an M.I.T. grad student?

joho 9:03 AM  

I'm in the group who admired the COVERGIRL and GQMODEL the most in this puzzle.

And SORRYIM not tickled by the quote. I do appreciate the play on "FOLLOWING" but not enough to chuckle.

I do like seeing TWITTER as it's so contemporary.

jackj 9:17 AM  

Protecting a quote in a puzzle usually demands some accommodations for the fill and Mike Buckley does use some non-Tuesdayish cluing to keep this clever quote intact. There were hairier entries necessary like LYDIA and RHEA, INGMAR and ARISTA, GORDO and RUSK, but certainly nothing that wasn’t gettable (if only through the crosses).

The theme quote/joke is akin to what we might expect to hear from a seedy comic in a 21st century version of a lively Burlesque House, think Boston’s vaunted Old Howard Theatre, long-ago pride of Scollay Square, updated with pulsating strobe lights, zip lines, psychedelic backdrops and WIFI, say, (“All the better to tweet you with, my dear.”).

Wittingly or not, Mike played matchmaker on this one with the obvious pairing of “Beauty” and “The Hunk”, COVERGIRL and GQMODEL (excellent entries), while ALICE and CHICO seemed to be throwing X’s and O’s in the key of C at each other and ERNO was fussing mightily to jump that bundling board called NEAT to make nice with the lovely Miss ENID. (Methinks Will could have run this puzzle on Valentine’s Day).

A fun puzzle, Mike; more like this and you needn’t worry, we will be FOLLOWING YOU.

“Er, What’s up, Doc?”. Welcome back, 31*.

JFC 9:38 AM  

I liked this puzzle and I usually don't like quotes, etc. I'm always surprised when someone as intelligent as RP doesn't know the name of one of the original 7 but I shouldn't be. It's an age thing and I'm just old. One of the things I recall about their original writeups in the paper was how many were juniors. It was an observation the point of which I never understood. I suspect WS liked this joke because of its contemporary nature. It is kind of a funny punny one and a little corny but then WS is from Indiana....

JFC

Smitty 9:45 AM  

@Rex welcome to the Gray-t Northwest. I'm in the same fog bank 200 miles north of you.

As for GORDO - has it been *that* long since The Right Stuff? I guess it has. Your dad looks to be about my age. And speaking of dads, lots of people called my father DOC.

loren muse smith 9:48 AM  

This played a little hard for me for a Tuesday, but if it were Wednesday, I’m sure I would whine that it was too easy.

I had to guess GORDO (Sorry Syndi, JFC, and Duck), thinking I dnf because I was sure it was “but” I’M ADDICTED TO.

@clark - cool malaplop with SYRUP!

Early on I lightly wrote in “so sue me” for SORRY I’M.

Lots of Greco-Roman (and Cypriot?) stuff: THOR, IDES, TOGA, AERO, AGORA, AD HOC, ROME, (IAGO). . . And ENID, NIRO, ERNO and NEHI just look Greco-Romanish, too.

ROASTS crossing TOAST makes me think of all the rehearsal dinners I do at the club. They’re basically a bunch of tipsy groomsmen ROASTing the husband-to-be with their too long, not as funny as they think TOASTs. (Straight from the Protocol School of Washington – the three B’s of toasting: Begin, Be brief, Be seated. Yeah, yeah – that’s four B’s.)

OCELOT, MONET, DAHL, RUSK, MINSK, MINH, QUAY – all tough words for early week but were completely gettable with the crosses. That this ran on a Tuesday is IMHO an example of the deft editing on Will’s part. Spot on, scrabbly, chewy Tuesday.

@jberg – so I have my version of your joke but it’s lame:
A rabbi, a priest, and a Shetland pony back carefully into a bar, all pulling a big, heavy chain.
The bartender asks, “What are ya’ll doing pulling that chain in here?"
The rabbi answers, “Have you ever tried to push a chain?”

So glad you’re back, Rex. @JFC – I drink my coffee black, too.

chefbea 9:52 AM  

Though puzzle in the north west. And had a hard time parsing docim!!

Loved all the foodie stuff and especially the clue for ENID.

I don't twitter.

jesser 10:04 AM  

That was the funniest write-up from Fearless in some time. The inscrutable stuffed-toy-chucker comment about made me snort!

Before I get to the puzzle, I just want to say that getting to visit with @Tobias and @SantaFeFran last Saturday was just fantastic! I have decided we are all good people, this little group.

This one skewed way challenging (to me) for a Tuesday, but the crosses brought home all the weird shit, such as the inscrutable (to me) NIMH.

I don't do Twitter, but I got the joke. I'm with Rex (or his Dad, or both) about the 'Doc' thing. I've been a patient of Dr. Harry Bass (really) for 38 years, on and off, and I've never once called him Doc. It would never occur to me to do so. The man is ancient, but he's goooooooooooood.

Carry on!

hazel 10:13 AM  

@loren - your "not as funny as they think" applies not only to TOASTS but most TWEETS that I've seen!

I don't "follow" anyone, but occasionally when i'm bored i'll take a peek into the twitterverse - the phenomena itself interests me more than anything else. You can fit a whole lot of ego into 140 characters has been my general opinion to date.

I wasnt a fan of this oddball puzzle - just didn't hang together for me - except of course the matching male/female hotties.

Jeffrey 10:14 AM  

Perhaps the speaker is Snow White.

Liz Glass 10:17 AM  

My father in law is a doctor. My mother in law calls him "Doc". I won't tell you what I call him ;)

Geometricus 10:22 AM  

@Milford: Robert C. O'Brien's book "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH" was made into a Don Bluth("All Dogs Go to Heaven" and "Land Before Time")animated film in 1982. They had to go in and change all the instances of "Frisby" to "Brisby" after recording had already begun because of copyright infringement issues with WHAM-O.

quilter1 10:24 AM  

I knew most of the answers so I rate it easy. However on the topic of twitter, I don't. Being retired and on a fixed income I have the cheapest phone ever. It makes and receives calls, period. But, when my grandkids are old enough to have whatever is in vogue in four or five years I will spring for something with basic bells and whistles because otherwise I know we won't communicate. Even my Super Grandma book advises learning to text.

Two Ponies 10:34 AM  

Odd puzzle. Very modern theme with down-right ancient fill.
I don't twitter so the joke was sorta lost on me.

Re: Gordon Cooper. He is one of the astronauts brave enough to publicly discuss seeing UFOs.

Welcome back Rex. The subs can be fun but I'm ready to have you back.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

Fun puzzle. As to Twitter, I kinda stopped using it when I figured out it is mainly for celebrities who think they are the bees knees! I asked my 16-year-old son if any of his peers use it. Nope. He said, "Twitter's for old people, like you!" Doh!

Matthew G. 10:40 AM  

Oh, I liked it. Timely enough not to feel like a tired joke. I agree with Rex's take on Twitter itself, though -- unjustly maligned by those who are familiar only with the way it is used by fourteen-year-olds.

The NW corner of today's puzzle was pretty darn tough for a Tuesday.

Gill I. P. 10:44 AM  

I liked it because that's something totally inane that I would say. Nobody gets it - except my son....(five minutes later) and then he bursts out laughing like a hyena.
Some great words today but agree a bit tough for a Tuesday. Like RHEA, LYDIA, MINSK. They sort of fit in with COVERGIRL.
This is the only one I know: A rabbi, a priest and a minister walk into a bar. A short while later a Shetland pony walks in. The bartender says "why the long face?"
@Rex sounds like you're having lots of fun this summer. Love the "pics" of your dad and your nephew. Safe travels and we'll see you Sat.

Rex Parker 10:54 AM  

Liz, your mother-in-law doesn't see your father-in-law as a patient, does she? 'Cause that would be ... weird. Not as weird as calling him "Doc" during sex, but still, weird.

RP

Milford 11:01 AM  

Thanks, @Geometricus. I guess Frisby was just too close to Frisbee, eh? Maybe you also know why they changed the DAHL book title from Charlie to Willy Wonka in the film title?
Speaking of DAHL, maybe this quote helps appreciate today's punny theme: "A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men."

Lewis 11:10 AM  

I guess we're never going to see the end of OLIO, are we? Rex, have you ever employed this word in any of your puzzles?

ODIN 11:11 AM  

Thor - The Roman God of "It's too $(*&%)@ Cold for a Toga.

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

Oh, that Lydia :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4zRe_wvJw8

r.alphbunker 11:32 AM  

The astronaut nickname that first came to mind was Deke.

I signed up for a Twitter account because I was teaching a course on Web Programming and wanted to have the final project be a Twitter-like web app. The first couple of weeks I followed a old friend, Jeff, and Jeff was the only person following me. So using Twitter was like having a conversation with Jeff.

Then I told my students and all of a sudden I had 30 followers. That stopped my tweeting. I wanted a conversation tailored to an old friend, not a public announcement. Email is fine for me.

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

I've got nothing to say re the puzzle, just wanted to tell you you're in my favorite vacation spot. Although we're there in the fall and sometimes Christmas.

Carola 12:28 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 12:41 PM  

I like quote and quip puzzles, maybe because they're a little bit like acrostics, which I also like to do. This one was on the challenging side for me: when I had just DOCI, I couldn't imagine how it would go on, so it was fun to figure out.

@Milford -
On Tarzan as a hero - Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes was one of the handful books my parents owned when I was growing up (why that book, I have no idea), so I read it when I was quite young and definitely remember Tarzan as a hero. But I thought I should check a plot summary: Tarzan rescues Jane and some others from tight spots and in the end, "[i]nstead of claiming his inheritance [as the son of Lord and Lady Greystoke], Tarzan chooses to conceal his identity and renounce his heritage for the sake of Jane's happiness."

I hadn't noticed that TOAST is cozying up with SYRUP, but did see that it crosses with its twin, RUSK (in the sense of zwieback). Liked learning that the OCELOT is a New World cat and, well, basically just filling in all of the grid - lots to like.

@Rex, the family vacation sounds lovely. Hope you were able to choke down the Reddi-Wip :)

Scott 12:44 PM  

Re the STAB / WOUND thing, I think the constructor means stab as a verb. "I stabbed him"/"I wounded him" vs. "Tend to my stab"/"Tend to my wound".

nanpilla 12:49 PM  

@Carola - like your comparison to acrostics. I like those too.

Gordo Cooper was a gimme for me, since my brother just orbited with him 576 times earlier this year! They, along with 318 other people, including James Doohan(remember Tyler having trouble with that name in the finals?), were aboard the SpaceX flight that recently docked with the International Space Station. Well, a ceremonial amount of their cremains were, anyway. Although they were expected to orbit for as long as a year, the second stage of the rocket (where the cremains were) re-entered the atmosphere only a little over a month later. Meeting the families of the other participants before launch in Cape Canaveral was really interesting, and the memorial service was quite moving. Wendy Doohan, James' widow, spoke about how much it tickled him to have been an inspiration for so many aerospace engineers. He was always so honored that his character, Scotty, touched so many young people. The Milwaukee school of Engineering even gave him an honorary engineering degree.

Anyway, the puzzle was a fine Tuesday, and a nice change of pace, since the NYT doesn't do many quote puzzles.

Sparky 1:01 PM  

Also stumpped by the NW. Wanted roscoe for PIECE. DOC never occurred to me. Otherwise found it quite enjoyable.

Profesor Orr would say,:"Doc is for dentists." Or Bugs Bunny.

Lovely write up @Rex and pictures. Somehow I'm almost teared up.

Bird 1:45 PM  

Is that really Rex as today’s commenter?

This puzzle had a lot of “WTF, this is Tuesday” moments.

DNF with all the empty squares up in the NW territory. 1A – brain f**t. 14A – had ODIN (not OLAV?) 17A – on a Tuesday w/o decent crosses? 20A – my answer started with YOU’RE and even thinking. 23A – I don’t know what a “New World” is. 21D should be MONET did not give me any help. 1D – who? 2D – ANNUAL didn’t fit. 3D – drew a blank (no pun intended). 4D – had SLOTH.

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

Wouldn't have known Kubik's first name if I had not just read a NYT article about his cube in the Science Times section. Coincidence? Planned between puzzle editor and science editor?

JenCT 1:52 PM  

Yup, NW was blank for a while...

Just couldn't see PIECE or HAND MIX for a looong time.

@lms: love your take on toasts!

Same writeovers as already mentioned.

Welcome back, Rex!

Clueless in Texas 2:26 PM  

@nanpilla
there are cremation remains floating in space?! I understand the whole "burial at sea" for seafarers, but for astronauts it's space? Did not know that.... may not share this with my son who is already concerned about the amount of space junk out there since he saw the IMAX movie.... (Not at all suggesting that anyone's remains are space "junk", for they are sacred.)

@ two ponies
The very last fill was the "D" in GORDO and the complaint clue. Had never heard of "Gordo" the astronaut, so I looked him up. Pretty cool that he STOODFAST with his view that the government needed to stop covering up UFO sightings.

Liked the puzzle for reasons everyone else said. Except NW corner, fun to fill in.

Thanks for the write-up, Rex.

Sandy K 2:27 PM  

Thought the puzzle was easier than Rex did...was familiar with Gordon Cooper- so put GORDO right in.

Just came back from the dentist. Would never call him DOC...but have heard a few macho-type guys say "Hey Doc..."

@Jeffrey Loved your Snow White reference! Funny and makes a lot of sense.

Welcome back, Rex. Is that REALLY Rex?? Thanks for sharing your Dad pic with us!

Tita 2:33 PM  

@nanpilla...what an amazing story. At the next tournament, I would love to hear more about how that came to be. I am sorry for your loss. Though it was some time ago, that kind of pain is never gone. How wonderful to look up at the sky and think of him.

Doc John 2:39 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doc John 2:39 PM  

Um, hello? ;)
Actually, I get Doc quite a bit. Mostly from staff but sometimes from patients, too.
That said, DOC was so far under my radar (I was thinking of some sort of 3 letter abbreviation like LOL) that the NW took forever to fall. Finally, GAPS filled it in for me. How's that for irony?

sanfranman59 3:35 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)

Tue 9:37, 8:57, 1.07, 73%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:45, 4:39, 1.60, 96%, Challenging

I think this may be one of those rare Tuesdays where there's more than the usual number of DNFs among the usual All Solvers group. So the relative difficulty rating for that group may be artificially skewed toward the Easy end of the continuum. I'm guessing that the culprit is GORDO and his rather apropos crossing with Saturn's moon, RHEA or perhaps the crossing with OCELOT.

However, it's a little difficult to know what the new normal is for the number of online solvers these days. The numbers this year were already down considerably and I think the new pay structure that went into effect July 9 has only further reduced the numbers (my understanding is that dead tree subscribers no longer automatically have access to the Premium Crosswords service). To wit: For the period January - June 2011, the average number of Monday solvers was 878. For January - June 2012, it's 798. In the 4 weeks since the pay structure change, it's 684. And I don't think this is just a vacation season effect since the average number of solvers for the comparable 4 week periods in 2010 and 2011 was 830.

I hadn't thought that this would have much of an effect on my ratings. But if the people who decided not to pay the additional money for a crossword subscription are disproportionately slower and/or less proficient solvers (perhaps a reasonable assumption?), then the new norms may very well be different than the ones before the policy change. Sheesh! It sure is tough doing research in the real world, ain't it?

hazel 4:04 PM  

@sanfranman - yr stats remain so interesting!! I have been wondering about the effect of that policy change- because there was so much outrage here- and a lot of people said they were dropping it.

Anecdotally, i used to play against the clock until i got an ipad which wasn't compatible with that format - some of the initial decline may be a result of a shift to tablet solving?

Space Cadet 4:21 PM  

DNF because of Natick Central in the NW corner. GORDO, AD HOC, RHEA, OCELOT. And only Bugs Bunny would have come up with DOC.

Today is Tuesday, right?

Anonymous 4:22 PM  

@Loren - Interesting juxtaposition.

Milford 4:23 PM  

Thanks @Carola! You convinced me he's a hero. My Tarzan knowledge is limited to cultural references that probably have nothing to do with the real character.

Z 4:27 PM  

@sanfranman59 - any change in the standard deviation?

loren muse smith 4:43 PM  

@anon 4:22

Hah! Not so much interesting as ironic. Guilty as charged!

Mary 4:44 PM  

"Wreak" havoc?

Dictionaries 4:48 PM  

@Mary - Yup.

Two Ponies 6:21 PM  

two things I forgot earlier.
I really miss Ms. Cureton's drawings.

I watched Tarzan and his Mate (1934) just this past Sunday. Stunning underwater swimming by Johnny Weismuller and a tastefully beautiful naked Maureen O'Sullivan.

nanpilla 6:35 PM  

@Clueless in Texas
The cannisters containing the cremains(1gram each) are attached to the second stage of the rocket, which is separated shortly after takeoff. This "rocket body" then orbits until it reenters the atmosphere, at which time it is completely destroyed. I was able to follow where it was using this website:

http://www.n2yo.com/?s=25544

I don't know how to embed. The page is set up to watch the International Space Station, but can be set to follow many different satellites. It was fun to play "where is Rick now?", as he hurtled through space, circling the earth every 90 minutes.

If anyone is interested more, you can email me, and I'd be happy to tell you about it.

Clueless in Texas 7:44 PM  

@nanpilla
That is amazing! And very sweet that you could actually honor him in the way he would have wanted. After reading what you wrote above, I did tell my six-year old. "That's cool. That way he gets to always be a part of what he loved. And we get to protect the earth, too, because he gets to go back into space, or the universe, where he came from before he came to earth. And no extra stuff orbiting out there!" ;-)
Truly sorry for your loss, but what a beautiful memory to share. Thank you for doing so!

Sfingi 9:59 PM  

@Evil Doug - good detection.

I can never understand why anyone would call someone named Gordon GORDO, since it means fat. Especially an astronaut in obviously good shape.

Anyway, for once, I thought puzzle easy. When I have a continued sentence in a puzzle I jump all over the place until I "see" something.

acme 1:12 AM  

@Sparky
Roscoe??!! Just looked that up, runyon, it looks like. Cool.

My dad always told stories about his patients when they would say to him things like "Doc, am I gonna die?"
(He would tell them "we are all going to die"...not very reassuring at that moment)
And even in anecdotal telling, it never rang true.
I would think "Doc" is mostly reserved for storytelling, jokes, and slight irony. What's up?

sanfranman59 2:29 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 6:20, 6:49, 0.96, 22%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:49, 8:57, 1.10, 76%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:38, 3:41, 0.99, 46%, Medium
Tue 5:38, 4:38, 1.21, 95%, Challenging (9th highest median solve time of 163 Tuesdays)

@Z ... I can't calculate a standard deviation for an individual day's solve times because all I record is the median value. I don't know of a way to download all of the times posted on the Times Premium Crosswords site (if you do, I'd love to know how).

Sea Star 1:57 PM  

Actually you were at the home of 'Gonzo' Gates!

Spacecraft 1:58 PM  

My thoughts on Twitter are congruent with @quilter1's. Still, I appreciate the pun. I didn't have as much trouble as OFL today; easy-medium at best. Got confused by the clue for GQMODEL: a "hunk?" 'Scuse me, is GQ a gay mag? I don't understand. Oh, maybe we're talking a model in the ads. Okay, that makes sense, I guess. It's still strange, though to see them juxtaposed.

Just one other confusion; I STOODFirm before I STOODFAST. I liked the clues for NEHI and ENID. RHEA was unfamiliar to me but was easily gotten on crosses. My personal RHEA is Rhea of the Coos, a witch in King's Dark Tower book Wizard and Glass (and Rhea Perlman would be perfect for the role!).

Thanks to @Evan for noticing the total absence of threes: remarkable! Nice Tuesday, Mike.

Anonymous 2:55 PM  

Terrific puzzle, thanks to Mike Buckley. Don't really know why anyone thought this was challenging, including RP. Tues or Wed, meh! It seems Mr. P always has to get a slur in there.
Ron Diego

DMGrandma 3:14 PM  

A bit sticky in the NW for a Tuesday. Given my age, I should have just "known" GORDO, but I didn't, and played with the possibility of GOnzO (?) for a bit. The real slow down was the clue for 2D. Does anyone say "on an ADHOC basis"?

I recently looked up the home of one of the U S Open players, and it was Belarus, capital Minsk, so I felt confident that the totally unknown NIMH had to be right. Otherwise I'd have had a blank at the "m".

@Ginger. Maybe your and my favorites will do better next time around!

Just peeked, and there is nothing in the space reserved for Capchas. Now what do I do?

Solving in Seattle 3:16 PM  

With the exception of the stack of trite CWisms, ADHOC EWER OLIO, I thought this was a solid puzzle.

The only Tweater that I follow is Hope Solo, but I thought the pun was clever, and I was surprised to see it in the NYT. Good on ya, Will and Mike.

I hate to admit it but the Seattle sports teams suck.

Dirigonzo 5:24 PM  

Damn - Blogger ate my comment, that hasn't happened to me in a long time!

So as I was trying to say, having my New World cat at 23a be a cougar kept me from putting ADHOC, which I wasnted from the very first, in at 2d and so the NW corner remained a mystery for a long time. Eventually I kicked the big cat out, and the C gave me OCELOT and all was well with the puzzle. I don't tweet, twerp or twitter but I enjoyed the pun and the puzzle a lot.

Ginger 1:29 AM  

Well, it's so late I doubt anyone will see this post, but here it goes anyway. :) Another puzzle that found my wheelhouse. I think my (advanced) age helped. That and I've always been interested in all things aviation and space. Got GORDO off GO--O, and sailed on from there. My only writeover was degas/MONET. I guessed at the former because the clue sounded like French dancers, wrong. Don't know how I knew MINH, but into the old brain it popped.

I solved while waiting in a hair salon, and I laughed out loud at the punny quote. Got some funny looks from the other patrons.

@RP, Gold Beach is another world, serene and beautiful. (And, almost that hard to get to.) I hope you had a chance at the jet boat ride up the incredible Rogue River.

@DMGrandma, It seemed that everyone I was pulling for lost too soon. I hate to see Andy Roddick retire. He has always given it his best. I'm pulling for Mardy Fish to get well, even if he never plays another set. Who was it from Minsk?

@SIS glad to see you back, hope you were somewhere having fun! Yes, it's tough to be a sports fan in the Pacific Northwest.

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