90s-00s Britcom / TUE 10-23-12 / Menu item often accompanied by wasabi / Biblical land on Arabian peninsula / Roman sun god

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Constructor: Jules P. Markey

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium



THEME: USPS (5A: Org. suggested by the starts of 17-, 31-, 41- and 62-Across) — beginnings of four theme answers are types of MAIL (70A: 5-Across's business):


  • FIRST-CLASS CABIN (17A: Pricey accommodations on a ship)
  • REGISTERED NURSE (31A: Ward worker)
  • PRIORITY SEATING (41A: What disabled people are entitled to on a subway)
  • EXPRESS CHECKOUT (62A: Quick way to pay)


Word of the Day: ANENT (25D: Regarding) —
prep.
Regarding; concerning: "This question remains a vital consideration anent the debate over the possibility of limiting nuclear war to military objectives" (New York Times).


[Middle English, from Old English onefn, near : on, on; see on + efn, even.]


Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/anent#ixzz2A5TSsdkN
• • •

Far too much stuff happening tonight for me to give this puzzle the time it probably deserves. Debate, Game 7 of NLCS, Monday Night Football ... never mind the "work" I allegedly do for a living, which I am way way way behind on due to recent dental happenings. So: this puzzle was fine. Nothing exciting, nothing offensive. I'm not really familiar with all the different echelons or tiers or varieties or whatever of USPS MAIL—are they finite? Are these all of them? These themes tend to work best / feel tightest when the set that appears in the theme answers is complete, or nearly so. I can't think of many other types of MAIL, which is why I ask the question. OVERNIGHT? NEXT-DAY? REGULAR? CHAIN? Anyway, all the answers are 15s, which is cool. Beyond that, I don't have anything interesting (or otherwise) to say about this theme.


I do have something to say about ANENT, though. Man, I hate that word. I am prejudiced against it, as I see it as a pretension, something that only the most faux-scholarly person would say or write. I remember seeing notes one of my grad school advisers had taken on some article, and she had something like "Oh come on" written in the margin next to where the author had used the word ANENT. So, to be clear, a medievalist thought the word was preposterous. If a medievalist thinks you are being preciously archaic with your language, you probably are. If I had to clue ANENT, it'd read something like [Enemy of an orc].

Bullets:
  • 6A: Roman sun god (SOL) — see, this is weird, 'cause I read a bunch of Roman writing, and there were lots of gods in it, and SOL was not one of them. I imagine he is Jove's younger brother and his name is pronounced "Saul" and he owns a garage or something.
  • 4D: Menu item often accompanied by wasabi (SASHIMI) — well now I'm hungry. Thanks, puzzle.
  • 1D: '90s-'00s Britcom ("ABFAB") — No love for this answer, but would love to see BRITCOM in the puzzle.
  • 35D: Hitter's stat (RBI) — Misread this as [Hitler's stat]. Not an answer I really wanted to contemplate.
  • 50D: Biblical land on the Arabian Peninsula (SHEBA) — Isn't this also a girl's name. "Come Back Little SHEBA?" See also SHEENA and SHE-RA, not to mention SHEB Wooley.
  • 55D: Rhône feeder (SAÔNE) — double-screwed up in this section, with SEINE here and EVADE in the adjacent answer, where ELUDE was supposed to go (56D: Avoid). 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

53 comments:

Cindy Lou Who 12:22 AM  

PARCEL POST is missing. I would put it in the top four shipping options. There are a surprising number of lesser known options, e.g., MEDIA MAIL.

REGISTERED is a little loose. I am fine with that - don't think it diminished the theme at all - but REGISTERED is an add-on service that isn't a 'method' to itself. It can be added to FIRST CLASS, PRIORITY, or EXPRESS . . . .

These days they are pushing hard at getting directly into the physical spam business with their Every Door Direct Mail scheme.

I know way too much about the USPS. Enough that had I the power, I would shut it down completely in a five year plan given the opportunity.

These capchas are BS. F... this.

Anonymous 12:32 AM  

Anent ANENT: A favorite word of Dan Meyers. 'Nuf said.

Aruba Cuban Mails 12:48 AM  

Would have swapped this with yesterday's...
I liked nice solid 15s across, tho not a ton of room for wordplay or having the words be redefined in a different context...
PRIORITY is priority, EXPRESS. Is express...
But it was nicely straightforward plus USPS/MAIL.

Also misread Hitter/Hitler...@rex is hilarious about that, and yesterday and today...so also pleased he's feeling better.

Tonguetwister for this month "SASHA's SASHIMI" 3 times fast.

jae 12:55 AM  

Hey Rex, the bottom third of this was tough.  Elves ( for ASSTS),  Utes (for OTOES)  and (like Rex)  Seine didn't help but TEXAS, ESPYS, BAYER, ACTA, and SHEBA did not quickly leap to mind ("quickly leap to mind" is what should mostly happen on Tues.). 

Got to agree with you on ANENT.  It was, of course, a gimme, but only because I've done X thousands of crosswords. 

Other than that a relatively smooth if uninspiring Tues. (or what Rex said). But then it's Tues.

How about BOOKRATE?

travis 2:01 AM  

Isn't 90s-00s BRITCOM a little random for a series whose most recent episode was 3 months ago? Or is that allowed? Can we clue DRWHO as 70s-80s British series?

chefwen 2:03 AM  

@Rex - AN ENT brought a loud audible HAH from me, startled the dog, the one that can still hear.

My dad (Wisconsinite) thought we couldn't get good cheese here. Found some on sale at his local food mart and Parcel Posted it to me, a rather poor choice as it took almost a month to get here. Needless to say it was pretty green and the dogs even turned up their collective noses at it. The thought was there.

Nice puzzle with only one write-over at 8D SASHA over malia, should have checked my crosses first

Evan 4:23 AM  

Finished with a funny mistake: My "Little helpers?" were ASSES. I didn't really read the clue before answering and never checked the cross, so whether I interpreted it to mean the animal or the derriere, I have no idea. But I like my answer either way. Then again, are ASSES not a big help rather than a little one? Ah, life is full of mysteries, ain't it?

Speaking of, I finally got around to solving the mystery of the Sunday puzzle hunt. Clever idea! A bit surprised by how many commenters here reacted negatively to it -- nothing necessarily wrong with that, I just thought it was a unique challenge that really spruced up the usual Sunday routine.

syndy 6:11 AM  

this was a tuesday puzzle. I wanted SHEBA for WTD.I was of the school that placed SHEBA in Ethiopia but according to wiki nope they are pretty sure now Yemen! It must be such an exciting time to be an archeologist.

Z 6:49 AM  

Bodice RIPPERS is the all-time best genre name.

Bob Snead 7:08 AM  

Agree with @jae re: the bottom third. The middle section just doesn't need to include ACTA or OTOE. Easily rewritten to include ACNE and ONUS (maybe there are those who don't think that's better?).

Bet we could find a way to eliminate SAONE and ANENT, too.

But whatever.

Milford 7:10 AM  

A little disarming to have the theme at 5A, but it didn't really spoil the fun.

Not really any memorable words for me, maybe RIPPERS and EPSOM, again clued without being the salts. I never even saw ANENT, the dreaded WOTD.

Last entry was for hang/dash IT ALL. Do I use these two phrases?

37D was possibly the weirdest clue for EGG that I've ever seen.

Anonymous 7:39 AM  

Bodice RIPPER! Egad. Haven't heard that word in ages and I'm OTD (older than dirt). Nice Tuesday puzzle. Hung up a bit on the bottom third, but made it in average time.

@Rex - AN ENT, (chuckle, chuckle)

Susan McConnell 7:58 AM  

@jae, BOOKRATE is now called MEDIARATE, and so the lower rate applies to the shipment of CDs, tapes, etc and not just books.

@Evan The e in ASSES was my last letter entered :-) I liked it, but when Mr. Happy Pencil didn't show up to congratulate me I had to make the correction.

A crossword puzzle about MAIL. Huh.

loren muse smith 8:07 AM  

Too bad CERTIFIED LUNATIC is 16.

@Milford – my last entry was IT ALL, too. And I had “rat” before EGG.

I ESPY now that I actually dnf because I never cleaned up the mess created in the SE with my “bayre” instead of BAYER and ridiculous huge writo (written typo?) of “rippeer” for RIPPERS. I eschewed enough André Gide and Natalie Sarraute in college for Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodwiss that you’d think I would have gotten that one right! Sheesh.

Four fifteens plus the symmetrical USPS and MAIL. Nice!

ETE crossing SETTE, ALOHA/BARISTA/SASHIMI. Poor PAPA (POP).

It’s a final A party – VOILA, BARISTA, SHEBA, ORA, SASHA, ACTA, BORA, SODA, ARUBA, PAPA, ALOHA, NEA, AAA!

Thanks, Jules – GNU, clever theme.

joho 8:48 AM  

It's been a while since we've seen 4 15's on a Monday so I appreciated that. Of course I know it's not Monday, but seems like it should have been @Aruba Cuban Mails.

I wondered if the progression from FIRST to EXPRESS is in order of cost? Trying to add another level to the theme.

Bodice RIPPERS is fun.


jackj 9:13 AM  

How strange to learn that someone has actually crafted a puzzle honoring the United States Postal Service!

The answers put forth as the theme clues that suggest the Post Office include FIRSTCLASS, REGISTERED, PRIORITY and EXPRESS but, if this were a 21x21 Sunday puzzle, the perfect descriptor for the USPS would have been a clue for BROKEBACKMOUNTAIN with BROKE being the operative (inoperative?) word.

Despite the oddity of the theme, Jules Markey has some strong fill with FACTION being a SOLID answer and, then, “Bodice-RIPPERS” and Hang ITALL combine to give the puzzle a nice double dose of quaintness.

SASHIMI and BARISTA , everyday words “adopted” as English and the cleverly clued FOCAL and ATTIC are also nicely used in this Tuesday puzzle.

Lots of three letter words in the fill, (all rather familiar), but one that will send shivers up the spines of our bloviating classes, namely politicians, who will certainly take umbrage at having their revered peers serving as Senators described as “Statehouse worker: Abbr.” for SEN. Oh my, the indignity!

Thanks, Jules, for a most interesting puzzle!

(And, I’ll be sure to tell Jeff, my regular mailman, that someone out there likes him).

orangeblossomspecial 9:15 AM  



One of Elvis' later hits was U S Male, a great pun on 70A. Here is the version by the composer, Jerry Reed.

JC66 9:27 AM  

Express Mail®
Priority Mail®
First-Class Mail®
Parcel Post®
Media Mail®
Library Mail
Commercial Prices
Express Mail
Priority Mail
First-Class Mail
First-Class Package Service
Standard Mail®
Parcel Select®
Media Mail
Library Mail
Bound Printed Matter
Parcel Return Service
Periodicals

John V 9:29 AM  

Easy. No marks on any of the clues. Surprised that FACTION is a debut word in the Times puzzle.

Hand up for mis-read of 35D.

SAONE? Really?

Minor quibble: Since the state abbreviations for 48A are four letters, I would think the answer, Wisconsin, should have been four letters or vice verse, no?

Just fine for a Tuesday, Jules.

chefbea 9:40 AM  

Told puzzle husband what the theme was so he helped me...and her never does crossword puzzles. So it was a great shoutout to him.

@joho -PH thinks that the themes are in a price progression

Notsofast 10:02 AM  

I thought this was pretty easy. And it had TWO baseball referenced clues. I think constructors do this so that solvers will think..."Hey, Markey ( or whomever ) is just a regular guy!" and not some nerd.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:14 AM  

One write-over, 19 D, SHAPE before SOLID.

Fine puzz, but, as @Milford says, it was a bit deflating to have the theme revealed at 5 A. Might have been better clued, as @jackj suggests, something like "Govt. op. threatened with bankruptcy," and save the reveal for 70 A, something like "item whose varieties are suggested by the beginnings of . . ." That would have kept the typical top-to-bottom solver guessing throughout the solve.

Sandy K 10:15 AM  

Very SOLID Tuesday. FIRST CLASS 15s in my opinion- IT ALL was pretty much AB FAB.

This is not the first time that 35D has made me cringe...

@loren- Bodice-RIPPERS brought back memories of Kathleen WoodiWISs.
I thought of Shanna and Rouark...

Wade 10:20 AM  

Mildly interesting facts about Sheb Wooley:

1. Co-starred in Rawhide
2. Had hit with "Purple People Eater"
3. Wrote the them song for "Hee Haw"
4. Taught his fellow Erick, Oklahoman Roger Miller his first chords on the guitar
5. Is the voice on the famous stock sound effect the "Wilhelm Scream"
6. Played the principal in "Hoosiers"

Cheerio 10:28 AM  

Ooh - I love that word "anent." OK, so I'm not a lawyer, but I work with them, and I think they should adopt it. In fact, I tried to get a few to adopt it, but they looked askance. But the alternatives "in re", "regarding", "a propos,"... I mean, they get very boring after a while.

In fact, I so enjoyed learning the word "anent" in a previous crossword that I started keeping my own list of crosswordese. And in fact, this effort has very sadly made me read this blog less often because there really is only so much time one should devote to cross words....

Two Ponies 10:40 AM  

Very nice puzzle on the day that is hardest to please.
I'm glad the crosses were easy for Saone, anent, and acta.
In line at Barnes and Nobles the other day I couldn't help but notice the display of "bodice rippers". Appropriate name indeed.
@Wade, Thanks for the Sheb Wolley trivia. He had much more influence than I ever knew.

quilter1 10:41 AM  

Hand up for the Seine/evade error but otherwise smooth sailing. I found this to be fresh and fun to do.

mac 10:44 AM  

Very good but easy Tuesday, Andrea is right. Solved it from the NW to the SE, always a sign it's not hard. My only slowdown was at 61A it all and alude.

Favorite words were bodice rippers and faction.

That Sheb was a busy guy.

mac 10:45 AM  

elude, of course... For my punishment I have to get the captcha again.

miriam b 11:02 AM  

Sheba (in Come Back, Little...) was a dog.

I had a pseudo-intellectual aunt who couldn't ABIDE HOI polloi and who used ANENT frequently, much to my annoyance.

Carola 11:25 AM  

I also thought that the puzzle did a good job of describing itself with "SOLID" - with the TASES-RIPPERS stack adding some adrenaline. This was a slow Tuesday for me. Did not get the 5A reveal until half done - didn't understand the "Droid" clue, resisted SOL as a god, and didn't know which _A_ _ A Obama girl to write in.

ALOHA, BARISTA, VOILA, SASHIMI - nice demonstration of English absorbing words from other languages.

Liked the LET'S SEE IT ALL - CHECK OUT cluster.

@loren - Love "writo" - I do that way too often.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 12:00 PM  

Clue of mystery:
42-D. "Part of i.o.u.".
Why not capitalized? Ain't I supposed to be capitalized, anyhoo? Confusin' to the M&A. And the U should be capitalized in any case, of course. Show some respect.

And howcum Abbr. gets a capital A, then, in clues? Inconsistent. The abbreviation police (c/o joon pahk) will be notified. snort.

Off now to find a safe puz path from u.s.p.s. (?) to MAIL.

Anonymous 12:14 PM  

ALCS?

Sam Scott 12:34 PM  

I'm sure the USPS welcomes any love they can get to offset the daily reminders of their days enabling drug pedalers...

60D Court records eludes me even as I stare at the answer.

Lance Armstrong 1:18 PM  

@Sam Scott - "enabling drug pedalers.."

Darn it, stop picking on me!

Bird 1:38 PM  

This was quite challenging, in two spots, for a Tuesday. It is still a good puzzle though with four 15s as themes and harldy any crappy fill. Nice job Jules. The NW was difficult with a foreign city crossing a foreign TV program. I call foul. Mark off 5 yards, re-edit and start over. I was pretty sure about BORA, but no idea about ABFAB. The other trouble spot was the SE. Never heard of hang/dash IT ALL and do not recall ever hearing/reading/solving that river. The A was an educated guess.

Same misread and reaction as @Rex on 35D. What the?! Also misread clue 24D as “body part”.

40A was originally SIT and 7D was originally BOTS. ELVES morphed into ASSES (huh?) then ASSTS.

Is PRIORITY SEATING the actual term?

Spheres and pyramids are not always solid – basketballs and Pharaohs’ retirement homes are not solid.

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

Yeah, is "i.o.u" a NYT thing. I'd never put it that way.

Rookie 2:43 PM  

If it helps for future reference, I used to teach my French students that the Rhône met the Saone at Lyon. All rhyme due to the long O sound.

(rone, sone, leeone ... Only sort of because you don't pronouns the N in Lyon because it is nasalized.

Nevertheless, the mnemonic helped them with their French geography.

Zeke 3:04 PM  

@Wade - Thanks ever so much for those facts about Sheb Wooley. Unfortunately, I will not be able to express neither the extent nor depth of my gratitude until after I get over my raging resentment towards Rex for having made me aware of Shep Wooley in the first place.

BigSteveSF 3:24 PM  

Had sections instead of FACTIONS.
For IT ALL, would have preferred "dang" or something similar in clue.
Otherwise SOLID Tues. except for SAONE.

Rex,
I think you meant Game 7 of NLCS.
Go Giants. Watch Pence's bat hit the ball 3/4 times in one swing.

JFC 3:29 PM  

@Chefwen - Moldy cheese or the color of the Packers' uniforms?

Da Bears now enter the tough part of their schedule and I stll think you will win....

JFC

Sparky 3:54 PM  

Was trying for Helios in 6D, so thought 70A might be utIL, 5A being an acronym for a utility. It all straightened itself out with a couple of passes A and D.

Hand up on 35D at first. Said, "Ah, no" and reread. Some trouble with 20A. Maybe the typeface needs serifs?

Nice Tuesday for me. More pleasant to work than yesterday.

sanfranman59 4:55 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 9:29, 8:58, 1.06, 69%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:28, 4:40, 1.17, 90%, Challenging

Anonymous 5:10 PM  

I'm so friggin bored I just read the article in the times on the em-dash.

Anonymous 6:17 PM  

Where is Sundays answer posted? It is now 6:16 pm EST on Tuesday

Anonymous 9:35 PM  

Can anyone explain ACTA to me [60D: Court Records]? I assume it is plural for the latin "Actus"? I am confused whether this is referring to judicial courts or regal courts or basketball courts or what.

sanfranman59 12:36 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 6:45, 6:47, 1.00, 56%, Medium
Tue 9:35, 8:58, 1.07, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:52, 3:41, 1.05, 80%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:21, 4:40, 1.15, 87%, Challenging

staydetuned 2:25 AM  

Been following this blog for a little while now and felt it was time to chime in finally, for one reason in particular.

I too could not, for the life of me, figure out: "Hitler's stat."

That simple clue really made the imagination wander. And it took a long time, and finally a good 20 seconds of staring intently at the wording, before i realized what was happening. Funny what we see sometimes...

Also had SEINE and EVADE...

Enjoyed your response to this puzzle, especially the short, snappy sarcasm that comes from having a lot of other things you could/should be doing. ANENT!! Haha.

PS - Yesterday's NLCS game 7 WAS fun to watch; I'll be working tomorrow at Tres, a Mexican tequila bar a block away from the Giants' stadium. Let's go Giants!

staydetuned

Ginger 12:49 PM  

I question BARISTA, (one who knows his beans), since the clue refers to 'his', should it not be BARISTO?

Why would I command my dog to BEG, since I've worked so hard to get her to stop it?

Hand up for ASSeS, love that word ;-). SODA cold have been clued 'what Bostonians call tonic', though that would not be a Tuesday clue.

Enjoyed this fun solve, thanks Jules Markey

Spacecraft 2:32 PM  

Like @Ginger I was puzzled by the "his" in the clue for BARISTA, also for the dog/BEG thing. Seems to me they do a great deal of that with no training at all.

Hang/dash ITALL? Where are we, in 19th-century London? No one talks like that any more--west of the Pond, at least. That plus SAONE (really? How obscure can you get for a flippin' Tuesday?) and the always perplexing "is-it-evade-or-ELUDE?" choice--akin to scab vs. scar--made the SE knotty and rather unpalatable. That corner should definitely have been redone before submitting.

The rest of it is...SERVICEable (2nd S of USPS). I note that EPSOM has enjoyed repeated appearances in recent grids. I was there, to see one of the most remarkable horses in U.K. history--an Irish-bred named Santa Claus--come from dead last around the final turn to win going away in the Derby. It was as if the other horses were going backward! Never forget it.

Dirigonzo 8:49 PM  

WPP and I laughed a lot (mostly at ourselves) while solving this which is always a sign of a good puzzle. For the life of me I can'r figure out why we thought FIRSTmateSCABIN might be pricey accommodations - I guess it was because it validated the cross with botS (Droids,e.g. 7d).

I have a soft spot for the USPS and happen to believe that everyone would miss them greatly if they were gone. It would be nice if Congress (who would miss them if they were gone?) would get out of the way and let them run the operation like a business. And no, it's not a waste of taxpayers' money because they don't get any.

Anonymous 12:08 AM  

I was confused by the [60D: Court Records] clue for ACTA. It is defined as a plural noun, (often initial capital letter) official records, as of acts, deeds, proceedings, transactions, or the like. I also found acta defined as official texts of ancient Rome, written or carved on stone or metal. Usually acta were texts made public, although publication was sometimes restricted.

So I would say the clue refers to records of a judicial or magistrate-type court, right?

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

Have to say, I hated this one. Lots of BS words that nobody knows unless they do crosswords all the time. The aforementioned ANENT, plus OTOE, ACTA, ORA and ETE. Who ever said "Hang IT ALL?" And what kind of clue is "Hmmmm .."? Hate that kind of nonsense.

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