Reggae artist Paul / TUE 9-25-12 / Fungus that affects cereal / Game piece on Stratego board / Miserly Marner / 1999 Frank McCourt memoir

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Medium



THEME: NESSIE — circled squares (or gray squares, depending on your solving medium) spell out "NESSIE" and appear to represent, in their layout, the figure of the LOCH NESS MONSTER (38A: Subject of this puzzle) as depicted in the famous "SURGEON'S PHOTO" (20A: Supposed evidence of the 38-Across); NESSIE, like Sasquatch and the yeti, is a subject of interest in the field of CRYPTOZOOLOGY (51A: Field of study that includes the 38-Across). Some think NESSIE is REAL. Most (I assume) think FAKE (66 or 67A: What some consider the 38-Across to be)

Word of the Day: DOWSE (50D: Search for water, in a way) —
intr.v., dowsed, also doused, dows·ing, dous·ing, dows·es, dous·es.
To use a divining rod to search for underground water or minerals.


[Origin unknown.]


Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/dowse#ixzz27RdNbFSZ
• • •

First thought: "Oooh, a grid with a tiny chimney. How adorable!"  Next thought: "Six highly disconnected gray squares? Oh, this can't be good." In the end, it was just a fairly straightforward LOCH NESS MONSTER puzzle with the added little bit of visual interest in the grid's attempt to approximate the famous Nessie photo. I've looked at the photo. I've looked at the grid. The likeness ... isn't great. Therefore the gimmick feels a little forced. But the head-peeking-above-water bit, with the extra square up top, is a nice flourish, and the grid is reasonably clean, so my overall feelings about this one end up somewhat on the positive side.


Took me Forever to get that first theme answer: SURGEON'S PHOTO. It is really, really hard to parse when you have no idea what the context is. "A SURGE ... OF? ... something?" Also had a lot of trouble seeing BAR GRAPH (4D: Chart in many a PowerPoint presentation), even with BAR- solidly in place. But since it's an early-week puzzle, I didn't spend a lot of time struggling (the earlier in the week it is, the less time I spend trying to get unstuck before moving on). I just jumped to the next section over and restarted there, and that sent me off like a shot. Would've gotten held up at ERGOT, except ERGOT is my old friend ("Hello ERGOT my old friend ...") (32A: Fungus that affects cereal)—it absolutely wrecked one of my grids many years back, so I've never forgotten it. Not that it's good fill; it isn't. Neither is the plural D'OHS. I love Homer, but that's an ugly plural.


I can see how this might've played somewhat tougher than your typical Tuesday puzzle (though my time was only a few seconds off of normal). Leaving ERGOT aside, there are several clues requiring rather specific knowledge of niche cultural categories, like board games (SCOUT) (24A: Game piece on a Stratego board), reggae (SEAN) (6D: Reggae artist ___ Paul), and olympic swimming (THORPE) (27D: 2000 and 2004 swimming gold medalist Ian). To make up for this, there are a bunch of literary gimmes: SINCLAIR (40D: Upton who wrote "Oil!") and SILAS (26D: Miserly Marner) and 'TIS (29A: 1999 Frank McCourt memoir), to name three. Speaking of literature—you should get Salman Rushdie's Joseph Anton and read it now. It is a gripping and moving and inspiring account of his life in the wake of the publication of "The Satanic Verses" (1988). Like most memoirs, it is no doubt in some ways self-serving, but the occasionally righteous tone seems fitting, understandable, justified. Plus (and it's a Big plus): dude can write.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

69 comments:

Evan 12:08 AM  

I didn't have circles or shaded gray squares in my puzzle, but it's possible that my printer is responsible for that. Either way, I feel like I missed something in the reveal, except for N representing Nessie's head at the top of the grid.

Still, this was a good puzzle for today, my 29th birthday. It played really tough at first, but got much easier when I caught onto SURGEON'S PHOTO. I had real difficulty even reading the correct clues for the Down entries because I misread their numbers (and I blame the creatively numbered 0-Down for that). I put in AHA at 11-Down instead of BRA because I thought it referred to the clue for I THOUGHT SO. What it says about me that I said AHA when it was really a BRA, I don't know.

jae 12:12 AM  

Delightful!  My only ISSUE is that this was more Wed. than Tues.  DOC, ERGOT, SCOUT, ODER, THORPE, SEAN... are more the stuff of late week puzzles the way they are clued.  And, I wonder how familiar the typical Tues. solver is with CRYPTOZOOLOGY?  No  matter, an excellent puzzle!  Zippy theme with a photo image depiction  (this is how circles/shaded squares should be used) and a very smooth grid.   Glad I read the note and printed out the PDF.  Normally I do Tues. online which would not have been as much fun given the AcrossLite grid I saw.

Tobias Duncan 12:15 AM  

Many people in my small town... people that I love... think dowsing is real.
I have watched them at work, in fact I watched my next door neighbor tromp through the empty field between my house and the RC Gorman estate for two hours with an old man brandishing a "fork-ed" stick. He ended up drilling his well in just about the dumbest spot you could find in 1.6 acres.

Taos is a not an easy place for a skeptical person to grow up...

thursdaysd 12:23 AM  

I solve on an iPad, so when I saw the note I figured I was going to be in trouble, but no. I had circled squares and despite not knowing Rex's cultural niches it felt pretty easy.

I liked encountering DOWSE, although unlike Tobias I've only read about it. AIDA, ETRE and HRE seem tired, and I've never seen IDYL spelt that way, but otherwise this was a nice, fast, exercise.

Gill I. P. 12:36 AM  

This was a big fat HUH
I got the NESSIE thing - even drew her out - but where's the head?
SURGEONS PHOTO goes back further than SEX ED or is it SEXED... and I'm wondering if anyone remembers that guy. Peckish means hungry in my neck of the woods and does Streisand really let people call her BABS?
NESSIE's CRYPTOZOOLOGY was a COOLOGY because when I fall dead asleep, I cONK out.
There were some fun words and I eventually got it all but this did not feel at all like a Tuesday.

Anonymous 12:52 AM  

PECKISH means slightly hungry, except apparently to enough people who think it means annoyed, or were they simply annoyed by the fact that they didn't know what PECKISH means and PECKISH came to represent exactly that annoyance?

I don't think the circles match the picture, but does that really matter, given that the picture is a fake?

Today is a day where nothing means what it means, or represents what it represents. Just as GB Packers.

Anoa Bob 1:38 AM  

Fourteen of the fifteen squares in that top row are black soley to allow the fifteenth square to be the first "N" in an arbitrarily scattered bunch of circles that spell out NESSIE, on a backward slant, when NESS is already part of the central grid-spanning theme entry? Oh my.

If you're seeing an intimation of NESSIE in this grid pattern, you're smoking something better than what I have. I'm jealous.

retired_chemist 1:52 AM  

29A TESTY (peckish) was my only complaint today. As @Gill. I. P. pointed out, the clue and the answer are not synonymous. Peckish is (some level of) hungry. Didn't know 'TIS and so _ESTY sat for some time because I didn't believe TESTY was correct and going through the alphabet (obviously) failed to produce anything that made even that much sense.

As usual did not see any of the graphic features @Rex referred to. Does it help to smoke something first? Do you get the munchies or just get peckish? Or even TESTY?

Or maybe just go for the ERGOT. "The neurotropic activities of the ergot alkaloids may also cause hallucinations and attendant irrational behaviour...." (Wikipedia). Ergot actually contains lysergic acid and ergotamine, which are NOT LSD even though close relatives.

Not many curves thrown in the cluing. 45D Bust figures (NARCOS) was about as close as there was. Except of course the SURGEON'S PHOTO, which was eminently gettable from crosses even though if you didn't know the story it made no sense at all.

Good puzzle, Mr. L.

Aida Crypta Monsters 1:53 AM  

Wow, so much going on in one little puzzle!!! Fabulous!!!

Totally in sync with @Rex...SURGE what? BAR what?
Ugly DOHS, but positive!

Plus sneaking in a famous IAN (coulda gone with Jim! You go, Livengood!!!)
And two longies, fun word CRYPTOZOOLOGY, REAL/FAKE, circles, Cute little extra square. LOVEngood! What a rich, creative puzzle!

Didn't know the guy who took photo was a SURGEON, is that to give it more legitimacy, than say WILSONPHOTO?!?
I mean the ZAPRUDER film isn't called LADIESDRESSMAKER film. So there is some sort of snobbism going on.

As for DOHS, i had the good fortune last week to attend a table reading of the Simpsons!!!
I had gone down to LA to see my grandmother (holding steady at 100 years old and three months).
Several friends from college (who are not astrophysicists) seem to be comedy writers.
So I was invited to hangout at Fox for the morning.

It was a fullcast readthru of the upcoming Halloween episode.
Fascinating that Bart, Nelson voices are women, and watching Hank Azaria switch from APU to 5 other voices...and the guy who does Burns who looks nothing like youd imagine.
.Sometimes since the man who does Homer also does Moe, he sometimes talks to himself. (maybe it wasn't Moe, but it all happened so fast) D'OH!

And the Marge and Lisa voice actresses are SO thin, like even if you are just doing voices you have to subscribe to the mandatory Hollywood starve actresses to death phenomenon.

And they are being paid millions an episode. I'm not sure, but if I were being paid millions I'd be really fat. I'd eat all my favorite stuff all day long.
I'll never know, luckily,

retired_chemist 1:55 AM  

@ Anoa Bob - great minds smoke alike.

Axis Cairo Memos 2:02 AM  

PS @Evan Happy 29th, belated wedding congrats! Big year for you...now watch "Casablanca!"
(Still think you're too young to know who Mel Torme is/used to be! May all your fogs be velvet)

Rube 2:08 AM  

When I was at Loch Ness some years ago, I stared at the water for about an hour with my camera at the ready. Then it started to rain, (again), so I continued on my journey. Being of Scottish heritage, I felt obligated to try.

I remember having a pocket comb in my back pocket when I used Brylcream and had hair. All dim memories now.

CRYPTOZOOLOGY is a great answer, despite being a "later in the week" word. I had slight trouble in the cluing for STPAT, IHOP and THORPE area, but easily worked it out. If you're a sciencey type or have to give frequent presentations, BARGRAPH would be a gimme, given BAR__.

I agree with "Medium", but it is doable with no writeovers... just some extra thinking.

I'm on my 6th try!! This is getting ridiculous.

chefwen 2:48 AM  

Happy B-Day @Evan, hope it was/is a good one. I'm not sure I even remember 29.

Puzzle was so crunchy for a Tuesday I thought I had chipped a tooth. Made it through w/o a cheat, but it took me a lot longer that your usual Tuesday. Growing up not too far from Loch Ness made this fun.

Much more fun than Monday Night Football where the Packer dip was the only highlight of the evening. God forbid that I lose my bet to @JFC two years in a row, but it ain't looking that good for the Cheeser.

Eejit 3:17 AM  

Nothing even vaguely Nessie-like shows up on the hapless Magmic iPhone app, but that's ok. I don't feel like I missed much.

Speaking of which, it's time to dump my aging iPhone 3GS, and I'm not buying another Apple product ever. Is there a NYT Crossword app for Android available?

loren muse smith 5:50 AM  

Yeah! I thought this was easy peasy for a Tuesday.

@Evan - Happy Birthday!

@Gill I.P. – me, too, for “conk” before ZONK.

INTUIT/VIBE, PERP/NARCOS, TERSE/TESTY, COO/YELL – nice.

Secondary suspicious ISSUE – DOWSing – REAL or FAKE? @Tobias -I’ve had the peach branch in my hands, the DOWSEr’s hands over mine, and I swear I’m not making this up – that branch torqued very powerfully and pointed down. Really. It was creepy eerie. It torqued for my son with no helping hands, and he had to go inside and lie down he was so creeped out. In Wirt county, WV, they call it “witchin’ for water.”

@Rube - I accidentally put Brylcream on my toothbrush once in the bathroom of a houseboat we had rented for the week. I was just in a big hurry to get out of there. It doesn't take long to figure out that you're not brushing your teeth with toothpaste.

The existence of NESSIE is a big ISSUE, and that word is smack dab in the middle of the grid!
Thanks, Ian. Nice ToREAT!

Oscar 6:42 AM  

Meh. It would've been more interesting if Bob Klahn hadn't done the same thing already for Groundhog Day (tho it was some years ago).

Z 7:26 AM  

Putting in CRYPTOZOOLOGY off the Y says something about me, I just don't know what.

I think the grid is much cooler looking in the paper. The N sticks up just behind Ian's name, no black BAR GRAPH uglifying the above the top row area. My only ISSUEs were I Told you SO before I THOUGHT SO and wanting to spell my Spanish money PESaTA.

No issue with PECKISH until I came here. Then you all sounded correct. Merriam-Webster has "crotchety" as the second definition. I guess that's AARP speak for testy.

Happy birthday @Evan. It seems to me that marriage and CRYPTOZOOLOGY have many similarities. Keep looking for NESSIE and it'll be good.

It seems that the time for random numbers has passed. If the number is readable, the robot detector wants the number, now.

John V 7:57 AM  

Gotta love CRYPTOZOOLOGY! Medium, at least, for a Tuesday. I GUESS I saw the tail/head/proboscis from the shaded squares. Took a couple of passes through to get it all, but all's well. Fun!

I see the the Across Lite version has different numbering for the clues; sort of takes away a bit of the puzzle whimsy.

Captcha = thenloc 19. Honest.

Glimmerglass 8:07 AM  

A solid "medium" for me. Some of the cluing was end-of-the-week hard. Add me to the list of people who didn't think/know that peckish can mean TESTY. I wasted a lot of time trying to find an error in the crosses. I've had breakfast, but I'm still feeling a bit peckish.

Milford 8:27 AM  

A medium Tuesday, some harder words for sure. Didn't really know IDYL or NARCOS, nor peckish as meaning TESTY. I was thinking hungry and ended up with TaSTY. I guess if you're hungry you are also crabby. Also confused by DOWSE, thinking of douse, getting water dumped on you, so why would you have to search for it? My bad.

Still don't see the outline of NESSIE really, but I liked the theme, and getting CRYPTOZOOLOGY into any grid is quite an achievement!

@Acme- very cool to get to sit in on a Simpsons read-through. Mr. Burns is exactly what I think he would look like because he is Harry Shearer. They are all incredibly talented, but Shearer is the one I would have been staring at in awe.

@Rex - Rushdie was on Bill Maher this past weekend talking about this book. Sounds like a fantastic read.

dk 8:27 AM  

As a voracious reader, former swimmer, science major and sometimes statistician this one was center in my Venn Diagram.

I am reading the Republic of Suffering (Finished Telegraph Ave) where I learned the phrase Snake in the Grass was a term used by Johnny Rebs to describe Union snipers as they dressed in green. Telegraph Ave taught me that Oakland's black population is largely a result of George Pullman's railroad. The NESSIE theme is somehow related to snake in the grass in my jumbled neurons (aka little gray cells).

I like this puzzle as it extorts the use of a PEN to solve. Stabilo (solving PEN of choice) has come out with black version of their formerly orange Worker pens. I solved this CRYPTO in red. I know you want to know that.

We have more than one cryptic figure in the grid with STPAT and the BLOB along with some eerie words like WEBS, SCOUT, VIBE. All together this one is an enjoyable as a tub of candy corn. Although I do wish constructors would stop pandering to REX with IHOP.

������ (3 Snakes alas no NESSIE Emoji). Thanks Ian.

jackj 8:42 AM  

The NESSIE theme was perfectly fine for a Tuesday but the forced excitement with the “print out the grid in PDF format” instruction, the shaded squares, the asymmetric grid, the “0” square sticking up, (Nessie’s head, I suppose), even the mystery hinted at by the clue for 0 down amounted to nothing worthy of such hype.

SURGEONSPHOTO, CRYPTOZOOLOGY and the LOCHNESS cluing for the theme were okay, the lame sinuosity that was NESSIE was a bit embarrassing (and hardly Gorskiesque), while the fill was satisfactory if mostly obvious.

I think the problem with Ian’s puzzle is that it never should have been offered as a Tuesday level construction. It should have gone full bore, with horns blowing, strobe lights flashing, fireworks exploding, hurricane winds stirring waves in the Loch, NESSIE infiltrating the grid as a dominating graphic, all in a 21x21 Sunday puzzle that could accommodate the embellishments that would make it fun and memorable.

Think Gilbert and Sullivan, Ian; they knew the value of campiness!

Sue McC 8:47 AM  

Easy Tuesday for me. I solve in Across Lite and when the note popped up about the features I got overly excited...I was looking forward to a fun reveal, but it ended up being just kind of meh. I don't know anything about the SURGEON tie in but it was easy enough to get from crosses. I had forgotten all about the circles until I came here and read Rex's comments. Had to open Across Lite again to see if they were really there, and yup, they were. NESSIE looks so small, I wish that NESSIE was an answer and LOCHNESSMONSTER was revealed in the circles, giving more of a representation of the photo.

Blue Stater 9:24 AM  

I saw the MW second meaning for PECKISH, but I'm still not convinced. I've never seen PECKISH used to mean "testy." Has anyone else? And in any case, why use this (at best) marginal definition? Doesn't anybody edit this stuff? Oh wait....

mac 9:26 AM  

Nice puzzle! Several theme layers and some great words. I too stared at Loch Ness for a long time on a grim, dark day. Nothing.

Narco surprised me, I had only seen it as narc. Narco sounds like someone suffering from narcolepsy.

I saw some dowsing rods at my aunt's last week. When she told me what it was I thought she was kidding me! There is water all around in Holland.

mac 9:28 AM  

P.S. Peckish as testy was another weird one, but maybe related to picky?

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

I always have thought that peckish meant faintly nauseated. Certainly not hungry.

Very pleasant puzzle, but meh for the Nessie depiction

chefbea 9:35 AM  

harder than the usual Tuesday.

I too had cryptocoology and conk

Rex Parker 9:41 AM  

"Peckish" = "slightly hungry" in this household, but dictionary confirms validity of clue.

Happy birthday, @Evan

rp

Gill I. P. 9:49 AM  

@jackj. You pretty much said what I was thinking after I finished. I think you're right in that had Ian gone "full bore" and added some strobe lights this would make a fun Sunday.
@Aida Crypta: Great, funny story and dang, I'd be fat too!
@retired_chem HAH.!..can ERGOT be smoked?
@Evan Happy 29th....and I'll echo ACME - see Casablanca and sing along with "I'm Just Wild About Harry" and "It Had To Be You."

Bob Kerfuffle 9:56 AM  

Wonderful puzzle, I thought as I was solving. Pretty good puzzle, I thought when I was finished.

Isn't this at least two Tuesdays in a row that were above average in construction?

I have my own (questionable) photos of the Loch Ness Monster. Unfortunately, they are from a visit in 1984, so (a) they aren't digital and (b) where the heck are they now?

jberg 10:01 AM  

I was feeling bad when I read about the note, as there was none in the printed paper, but I gather the note just said to print it out, so I didn't need it - and I got the advantage of that single-square sticking out. I never heard of the SURGEON'S PHOTO, but it was easy to get from crosses.

39A, "_____ gritty" has to be the easiest partial ever.


We're having a run of ST. PAT, and an even longer run of SEMIS. Is that Will winning a bet?

quilter1 10:02 AM  

I've been to the Loch but Nessie was not to be seen. But I really enjoyed this puzzle. Thanks, Ian.

Put me in the peckish=hungry crowd.

Happy birthday, Evan. Gosh, 29. I barely remember that.

notsofast 10:17 AM  

The gray squares were so faint, I didn't notice them; but I thought this was easy and fun. A good Tuesday.

Two Ponies 10:46 AM  

I loved this one. Nessie's head peeking above the surface was great fun.
Just a few days ago I read that Siberia's Lake Labykyr is supposed to have a Nessie too. Local legends now supported by sonar. Cool.
Andrea, How lucky you are to witness the reading.
@ Loren, Great dowsing story. Reminded me of a book called (I think) Water Witches.
@ Rex, Thanks for the book recommendation.
And thanks Ian for another winner.

Carola 11:07 AM  

Delightful theme and layout with the extra square for Nessie's head. Nice that THORPE the swimmer is crossing the LOCH. The ARK seems to have sunk below its surface Also like AXIS running down the center.

@chefwen - Thanks for the recipe, sounds delicious! Basically dairy-on-dairy, very appropriate for a Wisconsin team :) And - TESTY describes how I feel after last night's travesty of a game. Talk about having an ISSUE with that call!

Two Ponies 11:29 AM  

@ Tobias, I forgot to ask but did your neighbor find water?

Mel Ott 11:44 AM  

The dead tree version has the 'N' in NESSIE peeking above the grid. A little more visually pleasing. But the rest of the shaded squares don't evoke the photo for me at all.

Lake Champlain has its own monster, named CHAMP. He's not as well marketed as NESSIE.

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

@Loren: if you'd like to make a million dollars all you have to do is stand in a field with a bunch of canisters, some of which are filled with water. Consistently do better than chance at finding the ones with water with your rod and James Randi will give you a million dollars. You won't be the first to have tried. But if you succeed, you'll be the first.

Rookie 12:41 PM  

FWIW .... PECKISH meaning hungry? Never ever heard/seen it used that way. I guess that makes me the outlier in this crowd. I wonder why. For me it means irritable or testy. My American Heritage dictionary gives the TESTY definition first. In second place, it indicates that the HUNGRY definition is British. Maybe I don't watch enough Sunday night PBS?

ANON B 12:42 PM  

Rex:
The numbering in your grid doesn't match that of the Times in the first Across column.Then it catches up in the second Across
column. In the Times the "n" in Nessie's head is square 0,then
the first Across column starts
with 1, as usual.

Doc John 1:31 PM  

What? No mention of your obvious IHOP shout out?
Also, can anyone explain the note in the Across Lite version that says it would be better solved on paper? Is it only because the gray squares weren't there?

Bird 1:43 PM  

Like @Rex, I saw the grid and thought chimney, but wondered how the shaded squares (print version) were going to be connected. In the end I thought it was a fine puzzle. Same experience at 20A. I had SURGENONS PH and thought PHONE, but decided to move on and come back later.

I don’t know how many poetic contractions there are that end in EER (which would make completing the grid difficult), but because I remembered the monster’s name I was able to use my 35D and write N at 0D.

We always had kegs at my Frat parties, but BEER is in the kegs so no big deal.

Nits at 62A (I have an In-Box), 8D (I think a lawyer would argue that Ian forgot the word “alleged” in the clue) and 45D (they are NARCS in my book).

Hand up for thinking peckish means hungry, not that I use that word anyway.

@Anoa Bob and @Retired Chemist – It’s 4:20 somewhere.

KarenSampsonHudson 1:57 PM  

Seemed more like a Wednesday to me.

Sandy K 2:08 PM  

I'm getting really paranoid now!!

I posted my comment at about 10:30ish and now it's GONE!! As far as I know Rex did not delete it-

It had the usual- liked the puzzle, easy- CRYPTOZOOLOGeezy stuff...

And I wished Evan a happy birthday- 29is a wonderful age. I know, I've been it forever.

I know it got posted, cuz I saw that I goofed and realized 'there was no r in birthday'...

So how did it disappear??

Acme 2:11 PM  

@milford
You're right, but Harry Shearer wasn't there, some other person was subbing for him.
(only other absence was Matt Groening, but Jim Brooks was present, laughing away....he apparently is the only one in Fox history who insisted no notes from executives/suits and was granted it!)

And correction to my earlier post, Moe is voiced by Hank Azaria, so it was he who had to argue with himself at one point, but Homer also was Krusty, all slightly confusing as I've probably only seen ten to twenty episodes total...but I tried to take notes for Simpsons freaks!

@rookie
I'm with you...I've always thought peckish as TESTY and thought hungry was a Britishism...so maybe it's a NEW England thing.
Surprised it's swinging the other way in this crowd.

Sort of agree that circles seem scant but if the NYT had shaded in the whole LOCHNESSMONSTER phrase, which it might have been initially conceived that way, for all we know, it would have appeared like a fuller picture.

No need to save for a Sunday Gorski treatment...it's fabulous Ian got this entire thing into a Tuesday!
(with that cute little box that does look nicer on paper)

And altho NESSIE has "easy" letters, that's no mean feat to get them in order and placed like that!!!
( so light slap upside the head for those that criticised they went from right to left or that NESS/NESSIE were both in the puzzle!!! )

Side-note about comparing constructors or making it a competition instead of an appreciation: Ian is a constructor who is so multitalented in so many directions/days of the week, why compare Ian to Liz...or other constructors with phrases like "this was good but he/ she is no Patrick Berry"?!?
I even cringe when someone compares another Monday to one of mine...we are all unique doing our own thing, room for everyone...it is not a competition (hmmmm, except for Will's attention, I guess, and that there are only so many Monday/Tuesday slots in a year).
Or, ok, if it is valid to compare one constructor's style with another, as true in other art criticism, let's make it nondismissive...no need to put down one while praising another.

And, by the way, for Ian Livengood fans, he's just released his first book of easy puzzles on the new ebook Puzzazz site (love that name!)

JFC 2:13 PM  

@Chefwen, I feel your pain....

JFC

fergus 2:42 PM  

Love dk's typo about the puzzle's extortion ....

sanfranman59 3:01 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 9:14, 8:56, 1.03, 64%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:31, 4:39, 1.18, 91%, Challenging

Today's numbers and ratings may be skewed in some unpredictable way by the note in the online app suggesting that people print it out and solve it on paper. This means that the sample of solve times submitted online may not be typical of a Tuesday.

jae 3:54 PM  

First let me say that I am a major skeptic. However, I apparently married some one who was once a teenage water witch. In an experiment conducted by a science teacher she was able to locate a known underground water source that fed a local pond. She subsequently helped a number of people in the area identify drilling sites for wells (including her own parents). She has no idea why she could at one time do this nor was she ever paid for the service. My best scientific guess is that she is very sensitive to vibrations. We live in SOCAL and she was always the first to feel an earthquake. She would of course fail the Randi test as standing water doesn't really vibrate.

Sparky 4:18 PM  

Happy Birhday Evan. Many happy returns.

I can't see the photo of Nessie either. Ran through dog and cat before RAT. Still annoyed by ST PAT. Show some respect, dagnabbit. Agreed with several of the points above but basically had a fun time.

Onward.

Lewis 4:21 PM  

Missing @Evil.

Ian, would like your take on this -- how much was your original puzzle changed?

rjbrunner 4:22 PM  

Google the Salem Witch Trials and ergot. While teaching "The Crucible" and offering the possible role that ergot may have played, one of my students asked, "Where can I get this stuff?"

Sfingi 4:32 PM  

cOOLOGY, bOOLOGY, kOOLOGY, huh? What is ZONK?

The theme was easy for me.

Wanted the 7 Series to be something baseball.

@Sparky - STPAT bothered me first time I saw it. Now, it's a yawn.

SEXED as a verb - checking hamsters for which sex they are.

In the bad old days, ERGOT was used for abortions.

Bob Snead 6:50 PM  

1) Clue for OCEAN was deceptively simple.

2) I recently moved to a small town in Vermont that is home to the American Society of Dowsers. They have their own building, book store, and instructional classes.

So...THEY seem to think there's something to it.

Tobias Duncan 7:06 PM  

@Two Ponies they did indeed find water.
Same depth as my well.
Same depth as every well in the neighborhood.

It is very rare to drill a dry well here.

Job security for the dowser.

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

i made a mess of this despite seeing nessie and lochness monster...hand up for conk instead of zonk and sear for char, wanted i told you so, etc. and i thought it was wednesday.

+wordphan 11:35 PM  

AIDA threw me off, heading toward Egypt, not Scotland. Very Thursday; now I have to reset my CLOCK!

sanfranman59 11:59 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 6:12, 6:48, 0.91, 15%, Easy
Tue 9:18, 8:56, 1.04, 66%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:37, 3:41, 0.98, 44%, Medium
Tue 5:28, 4:39, 1.17, 91%, Challenging

Acme 3:24 AM  

Challenging? ITHOUGHTSO!
I think REAL FAKE refered to LOCHNESSMONSTER, DOWSING, STPAT and whether or not peckish = TESTY.
Where was WWF?

Pa Ul 5:48 AM  

Interesting post to read. I was wondering about three reasons why you should join Artsia.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

I use Shortyz for Android, works great, and will auto download from NYT. Shows things like the circles in this puzzle just fine.

scott davidson 3:15 AM  

How are we looking at the paintings of Mark Rothko these days?
Is he old hat, replaced in America by more contemporary concerns? Looking at his minimal canvases and their enticing floating squares of subdued paint live at the MOMA recently, I had to stop to wonder whether he still communicates to a modern and younger audience.
Wahooart.com, the site that sells good canvas prints to order from their database of digital images, has many Rothko prints. I ordered this one, Blue and grey, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8BWU7F
, that I have now hanging in my study. I can spend a long time looking at this elusive image that takes me to some other place not in this world.

DMGrandma 2:21 PM  

A fun Tuesday that fell easily enough once I replaced Barb with BABS. Seems there are "Nessies" everywhere. We looked in vain for Ogopogo (have I remembered that name correctly?) in British Columbia. No critter, but they make incredible jam in that valley.

i join those who used peckish to mean touchy or, as defined here, TESTY, even though I had English Grandparents and my mother was Canadian-so much for dictionaries.

Been watching the weather news as Sandy has ravished the East Coast,and note that, while Rex posted a solution for today's (Oct 30) puzzle,there is no word from our Eastern Syndies. Still have my fingers crossed.

Now to the Captcha which seems to be a salute to MRegnif, whoever he is!

DJ Stone 4:16 PM  

First, a question for others in SyndiLand, then a comment.

I used to come here nearly daily, then left, and have very recently returned. I've noticed that the Syndicated Solvers link at the top of Rex's page is inaccurate. For instance today, it took me to Sunday, October 21st. (My computer has the correct date and time.) Is this an issue for everyone, just peculiar to me, or an old issue that everyone knows about?

Comment: Mark Rothko was a modern art con job to make money off suckers. Take a look at his "abstract" subway paintings. They were abstract because he had no real drawing/drafting skills. So, he did the next best thing. Just painted rectangles and let dealers convince buyers and critics that they were profound. Whatever.

jon boyter 4:33 PM  

DJ, I guess, with the power outages cause by mega-storm Sandy, Rex has probably been unable to update the blog. Or has more pressing business at hand...

DMGrandma 5:43 PM  

@DJ Stone. I've also had problems with the "conversation" part of this blog page. The "newer" link seems to have stopped working correctly-this has been the case for several weeks now. It has a real tendency to keep going back to the last Syndie Sunday puzzle. Solution, Google Rex and ask for the date shown as a No. before the day's date.

I have also been having a lot of grief trying to keep the blog column in focus, it jumps in and out of blurry to less blurry, and if I'm lucky becomes readable. This blog is the only place I have this problem. Even the rest of Rex's site is crystal clear. Does it matter that I use an Ipad? Not for solving, for that I'm pen on paper.

Both these problems arose weeks ago, long before Sandy existed. i don't know much (anything) about how all this magical Internet functions, but I suspect the problem exists with whoever sends these messages on to us--maybe the Captcha guys really do have it in for us???

Linda 9:37 PM  

As a syndicated solver who checks the blog almost every day after finishing the puzzle, I've found that the link to the syndicated puzzle works most of the time. When it's off, I go to the correct one by clicking on the archived puzzle on the right side of the blog page.

On my iPad, I find it gets fuzzy if I accidentally enlarge the type as I'm scrolling down. It clears up right away though.

ben linus 6:09 AM  

Happy B-Day @Evan, hope it was/is a good one.The NESSIE theme was perfectly fine for a Tuesday but the forced excitement with the “print out the grid in PDF format” instruction, the shaded squares, the asymmetric grid, the “0” square sticking up, (Nessie’s head, I suppose), even the mystery hinted at by the clue for 0 down amounted to nothing worthy of such hype
Regard's,
Ben Linus,
radiografisch auto

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