Former Saudi king / TUE 10-16-12 / Alcindor : Abdul-Jabbar :: Clay : ___ / Gucci rival / Mural surface / Teatro ___ Scala / Location of Mount McKinley / Buddy of "The Beverly Hillbillies" / Weelwright's tool / ___ the Lip (major-league nickname)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Constructor: Bill Thompson

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Interior designer — names of fashion designers are hidden inside phrases that could potentially be said by people

Word of the Day: GESSO (Mural surface) —
Gesso (Italian:ˈdʒɛsːo "chalk," from the Latin gypsum, from the Greek γύψος) is a white paint mixture consisting of a binder mixed withchalkgypsumpigment, or any combination of these. It is used in artwork as a preparation for any number of substrates such as wood panels, canvas and sculpture as a base for paint and other materials that are applied over it.
• • •
If the first four Across answers in your puzzle are DORMI, FENDI, ADZ, and EPEES, try again. As a rule of thumb, if your 1-Across is a New York Times crossword debut, try to make it something fun and current, or at least try to avoid it being a partial from a lesser-known Verdi duet. Lame words are fine when they serve as support for stellar banner entries, but ISAO AOKI (whose AO-AO train is admittedly pretty fun) and FARM ANIMALS aren't quite shiny enough to allow for DORMI, EPEES, DEFANG, GESSO, and NUL to all get a free pass. And the ADZZAGRIA has no excuse in a 3x3 block that fillable.  I was convinced the reason for all this was a pangram (unnecessary Z, showy Q and J) until I saw that there was no X in sight, or W for that matter.

How was my Rex Parker impression? Pretty good, right? I bet you didn't even realize it wasn't the king himself until I told you. But I'm actually Milo, or, as my friends call me, "Milo."  I filled in once over the summer but had previously only shown up in guest star roles. Today, Rex is "behind on [his] work" so he asked a college student to fill in at the peak of midterm season. Rex has yet to learn that "behind on work" is a way of life—I have a Math midterm and a Culture & Belief midterm on Wednesday, a French project due tomorrow, a Gov project due today, a Music project due yesterday, and a Math problem set due last Wednesday (oops). In any case, this form of forced procrastination is greatly appreciated.

So, the puzzle. It's a puzzle. Tuesdays tend to be pretty hit-or-miss, with a batting average consistent with the MLB analogy. (Unless we're talking about Raúl Ibañez's post-season batting average this year. That guy's insane. P.S. The Yankees are gonna rally, just you watch.) There's no prototypical Tuesday puzzle, just Monday themes that turned out too messy to be clued at a Monday level and Wednesday themes that turned out so smooth and nice that they got pulled into the Tuesday slot. Since it's a lot easier to fill a grid poorly than well, we get the former a lot more than the latter. This grid falls decidedly into the former category.

Let's start with the theme.

Theme answers:
  • FARM ANIMALS (17A: Cows, pigs and chickens) — contains ARMANI, definitely the seed entry
  • ALASKA RANGE (24A: Location of Mount McKinley) — contains KARAN, which I'm not familiar with; I (post-solve) Googled SKARAN and ASKARA optimistically first to no avail
  • RADIO REPORT (54A: A.M. or F.M. news dispatch) — contains DIOR
  • ANKLE INJURY (63A: Sprain, say) — contains KLEIN
  • FASHION DESIGNER (38A: One can be found in each of the answers to 17-, 24-, 54-, and 63-Across)
For starters, why the snappy 8 / 8 revealer INTERIOR / DESIGNER wasn't used is beyond me. When I saw the mundane central answer, I went to and searched for phrases with "designer" in them, and the perfect answer jumped right out at me. The constructor could have taken the time to do the same so that I wouldn't have to.

Next, if your theme answers are real things (rather than wacky things) then make them fun real things. ANIMAL FARM is a fun theme answer. (Yes, I know it doesn't fit the theme. It's an example.  If your theme doesn't give you good answers, throw it out.) FARM ANIMALS is a little mundane. SARAH PALIN'S ALASKA (if it weren't so long) would be a great theme answer. ALASKA RANGE is a thing, yeah, but that's all it is. RADIO REPORTs happen. One could get an INJURY on one's ANKLE. These are all things. Moving on.

But I'm being a bummer. Blame it on lack of sleep. There was fun stuff in this puzzle. I love BABY GAP, and how often do you get to see both faces of ISAO and AOKI at the same time? And some stuff that I didn't appreciate was probably appreciated by others, as is expected of someone whose mother qualifies for the youngest age category of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. FAISAL is just some dude's name for me (his death having transpired in the year 20 B.M.) and I tend to skip to the next clue as soon as I see the word "Verdi," seeing as the only opera I know much about is R. Kelly's hip-hopera.

(Warning: foul language, offensive plot twist, terrible music and writing)

So anyway. This was a puzzle.

  • It's 12:52am
  • I have a lot of work to do
  • You were probably going to skim the bullets anyway
  • Let's call it a post
Signed, Milo Beckman, acting regent of CrossWorld


J.T. Fales 1:21 AM  

Nice write up! And yes, your Rex impression was very convincing. The only telltale sign was the slightly different puzzle screenshot. Good luck with all your work this week!

Evan 1:39 AM  

Well said, Milo, and well done on the Rex apery. INTERIOR DESIGNER would have made for a much more apt theme revealer. I actually like ANKLE INJURY okay as a theme entry, but it was probably the best of the bunch and I think there might have been better choices for hiding "Klein," like BUCKLE IN or A WRINKLE IN TIME (a book I read at the same age as another you've got depicted in the post -- "The Phantom Tollbooth"). Obviously one would have to rework the lengths of other answers in that case, but that's worth it for improving theme quality.

Leaving aside the problems with the fill, I generally prefer that the substance of the theme and that of the fill remain separate, so I don't really like the fashion designer FENDI sitting at the top, not hiding in a theme answer like the others are. Maybe the White Stripes' song OFFEND IN EVERY WAY would be a good answer for that, were it not one letter too long -- then again, there's no prohibition on 16x15 grids, so if it were stretched out, INTERIOR DESIGNER could fit as a corresponding grid-spanner too.

Evan 1:52 AM  

Just to continue on that thought, I hadn't even noticed another non-theme fashion designer hiding in the grid, YSL. A few possible theme answers for that:

DADDY'S LITTLE GIRL -- again, 16 letters
MURPHY'S LAW -- "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."
GRAYSLAKE -- a suburb about 40 miles north of Chicago (yeah, probably not too well-known for most of the NYT-solving's a regional thing with me)

alien cherry morass 2:20 AM  

Young Milo,
Your INTERIORDESIGNER thing is spot on...but then maybe someone would have carped they are fashion designers, not interior designers!

Too bad they weren't all women, then you could have DESIGNINGWOMEN
(14, damn!)

I'll bet you do know KARAN when it's more spelled out, as in Donna Karan, or DKNY.
It's a chick thing :)

Loving New Orleans, but ready to go home. A few extraordinary moments, besides the films: Finding two one hundred dollar bills same day, 6 hours and 20 miles apart...and James Franco attending the screening of the film I was in!
(Ok, it was the short, before the documentary he actually came to see...but still!)

Milo Beckman 2:26 AM  

Ah—DKNY. That rings more bells than KARAN did.

chefwen 2:33 AM  

Definitely not a slave to fashion, but I did know all of them here. Noticed ARMANI when I filled in FARM ANIMALS and slapped down FASHION DESIGNER with just the ER in place at 38A. Lucky start to a puzzle that took me longer than usual for a Tuesday, but that's O.K.

Finally remembered how to spell ISAO AOKI without having to ask Mr. Sportsman. 'Bout time!

I'm in the "liked it" camp. Thanks Mr. Thompson.

Nice write-up Milo.

Bob Snead 5:13 AM  

All in all, this was fun to solve, despite the obvious weaknesses. The masses will probably be fine with it. There was a nice aha moment for me, all I can ask of a Tuesday.

Anonymous 6:12 AM  

I think you're asking for a little much with the theme entries. "If your theme answers are real things... then make them fun real things." The constructor had to find phrases that contained very specific letter sequences, and it's damned impressive that he found the ones he did. As long as none of the theme answers are awkward or contrived, I don't see the problem. The fun *is* the fact that there are these names hidden in the entries. You then give examples like ANIMAL FARM and SARAH PALINS ALASKA as great theme entries (debatable, since Palin's show isn't even on anymore and will be a total WTF for solvers in ten years), but they don't fit this theme, so how are they relevant to the discussion?

Rube 6:14 AM  

Definitely a tougher than normal Tuesday. Had a tough time getting AQUEOUS because MEME made no sense, and it still doesn't. Had AQUatic at first, but it wouldn't work because ISAOAOKI is a CWP solver's gimme.

I'mnopt sure about FENDI, but that's just me.

Anonymous 6:25 AM  


loren muse smith 6:47 AM  

I feel a little DUB here (sorry – I have a head cold). This was pretty hard for me. “Satires,””sum up,” “scare,” and “mit” before SENDS UP, RUN TO, ALARM, and RPI gave me one hot MORASS for the longest time.


KOBE/NBA and ALARM/FEAR crosses – nice. BABY GAP – nice.

ALLA , DORMI and the RHE/ARTURO/CARRE area – tough for a Tuesday.

The two “Manta” clues threw me. I didn’t know there was a t involved, so I was uNSURE.

I guess I don’t have the right INSTINCT, but if I had filled this grid, I would have been really, really pleased to work in FENDI and YSL. I liked them. Why do you like to keep the theme and the rest of the fill separate, Evan?

Thanks, Bill. Scrabbly, crunchy Tuesday.

Mike, Class of (19)85 7:01 AM  

Great writeup, Milo. Fight Fiercely!

Milford 7:15 AM  

Pretty difficult Tuesday, took me about twice as long to complete. But it was a good workout to detangle those 4 corners.

Enjoyed the AQUEOUS/OPAQUE crossing.

My favorite pair of bib overalls for my kids were indeed from BABY GAP. The place is a wee bit expensive, but those overalls were indestructible. And cute.

Relieved when I realized the Mt. McKinley mountain range was simply ALASKA. (Are we still calling it McKinley?)

I knew the TV peopie and clues (EBSEN, Otto) and all the designers, but FAISAL, ISAO AOKI, and LEO were all educated guesses. My last square filled was the O in the Japanese/Italian cross of AOKI and GESSO.

I have zero construction insight, but the solve, while a bit challenging, was fun for me.

Go Tigers!

chefbea 7:27 AM  

Tough for a Tuesday...but then I've been very busy packing and moving. Not much time for puzzling. I'll be out of the loop for a few days at the end of the week, til cable comes to hook everything up.

@DrLee77 from yesterday...welcome. Hope you become a regular

Z 7:33 AM  

Nice Rex impression - you had me wondering about the screen shot.

I'm a Men's Warehouse sort of guy for suits, with a strong preference for jeans and tee-shirts, so this is almost as far out of my KEN as Verdi Duets.

I must admit that we have been LEO/OLAF/RRN/RCD free for quite awhile, so the fill could have been worse, but I FEAR that this is damning with faint praise.

The issue for me with the theme answers is the straightforwardness of the cluing. I resisted FARM ANIMALS because that seemed too obvious. Once it had to be, the other three themes were easier to put in.

Hand up for Satire, and not liking SPHERIC. I'm also wondering if OPIATES are sedatives, because I think of them as over-prescribed addictive pain-killers, not a class of substances used to sedate.

As for the Yankees making a comeback, it sure could happen. But the likelihood of them beating the Tigers was pretty low before the ANKLE INJURY, and now I don't see how the NY boys can fill that NUL. Look for me waving from section 114 tonight.

captcha - ciaorly - saying goodbye from Paris.

Z 7:35 AM  

I missed LEO the Lip since it wasn't a random Pope.

John V 8:02 AM  

This was thee most challenging Tuesday in recent memory. This opera junkie thinks that crossing an obscure Verdi duet with MEME and ISAOAOKI -- in a corner no less -- is a bit much.

Theme was fun, but I did have to stare at ALASKARANGE for a bit to see KARAN.

27D clue, "There's one for curly hair", seemed more Friday/Saturday level.

Congrats to Bill Thompson for two puzzles in less than two weeks! Bill brought us the eclipse, Thursday the 4th. For a fun time, look at that puzzle at xwordinfo to see what an eclipse really looks like.

dk 8:24 AM  


My sum up (initial fill for 55d) of the puzzle. Some of the fill was strained (a mild injury (initial fill for 63a) and that always makes me wonder: "Why not themeless and good vs. themed and lame?"

Troy Donahue went from Surfside Six to the Godfather (2) and as rumor has it a ton of coke. Now a memory and a SENDUP on the Simpsons.

GESSO always elicits a chortle as once an art reviewer commented "the artist's work was nothing a good coat of GESSO would not cure." Must have been Rex in another life.

So another Tuesday oozes past.

🌟🌟(2 Stars) Thank you Bill.

Susan McConnell 8:30 AM  

Didn't like. To me it was just blah, blah, blah... And as someone pointed out having FENDI & YSL hanging out there fitting the theme but not really theme answers seemed unpolished.

loren muse smith 8:43 AM  

But, Andrea - they are "interior" designers! LOVE your DESIGNING WOMEN idea. And DELTA is in the grid.

@Z - too funny about LEO.

@Milo - I always forget to thank the pinch-hitter - nice job! Good luck with your schoolwork.

Thanks, @chefbea for reminding me -@DrLee77 - please join the fun!

joho 8:55 AM  

@alien cherry morass, I would be the one carping that the theme answers aren't interior designers! That's a whole 'nother group of people. James Franco: wow!

Nice write up, Milo!

I liked the inclusion of FENDI and YSL -- random as they are they do add to the theme.

I'd love to see the MORASS Collection!

jackj 8:59 AM  

Bill Thompson self-identifies as “Joe College” in his XWordInfo photo, with a sweater emblazoned with the word “College” across his chest. And, after solving his puzzle today, it’s clear he is a Phi Beta Kappa (crossword chapter) constructor to boot.

He had me at OPAQUE and cemented it further with ISAOAOKI and AQUEOUS and we hadn’t even left the upper left quadrant.

The theme entries were clever and the reveal was unexpected and imaginative, giving us a Women’s Wear Daily Hall of Fame line-up of FASHIONDESIGNER(s), ARMANI, KARAN, DIOR and KLEIN with FENDI and YSL, not credited as theme answers, but acceptably prominent in the grid.

The fill was above and beyond and in addition to those I already noted, the excellence continued with SPACY, INSTINCT, BABYGAP and BOOERS, even GENE as the answer to “There’s one for curly hair” was Head and Shoulders over the 85 clues for GENE that came before.

The totality of the puzzle is especially aggressive for an early week solve, (though, of course, I’m sure most people know “Madre, non DORMI?” means “Mother are you not sleeping?”), and while some will feel put upon by the difficulty, those who stick with it might agree that this is one of the better Tuesday puzzles of late.

Thank you, Bill Thompson!

Milford 9:24 AM  

@Z - re: OPIATES, "Poppies will put them to sleep. Sle-ee-p."
Have fun tonight!

jberg 9:24 AM  

I suppose there are designers named YANG and LEO somewhere, too, even if I've never heard of them. I think bonus theme entries need to be either plentiful or symmetrical - but that's not a rule, just personal aesthetics, in the same category as pangrams: good or bad? (Which reminds me: great Rex imitation! You had me.)

My wife didn't know KARAN, didn't know Donna Karan, but recognized it once I got to DKNY. It certainly surprised me that I knew it and she didn't - shows what crosswords will do for you.

Answers to random questions: a MEME is like a gene, only in the realm of ideas. And you have AQUEOUS humor in your eyes (a phrase which can also refer to hitting someone with a water balloon and then LYAO).

Now for the real question. My understanding (and again this is subjective) is that a theme answer or revealer has to make sense one way, but not every way. So since these folks are DESIGNERs, and they are concealed in the INTERIOR of entries, INTERIOR DESIGNER would be completely legitimate - just as FASHION DESIGNER could apply to any kind of designers' names made into anagrams. But that's just me.

@Milo, I hope we hear from you again!

Norm 9:29 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 10:05 AM  

Liked it very much. Found it amusing that the high-class designers are hidden in the mundane theme answers, especially ARMANI among the FARM ANIMALS. With the footwear some of the models wear on the runway, you wonder how often there's an ANKLE INJURY. Nice nod to those of us whose clothes don't come from Milan or Paris with BABY GAP. Speaking of international fashion, as a child I was very impressed with King FAISAL's splendid white robes and headgear.

@Milo - Thanks for the fun write-up!

Cathyat40 10:18 AM  

Nice write-up!

Had KmG crossing DIm :(

Amy Khoudari 10:26 AM  

Loved your write up Milo. Hated this puzzle. Not right for a Tuesday.

JayWalker 10:37 AM  

Am I the only one who doesn't think that "chickens" aren't "animals"? I cry: FOWL!!!

Two Ponies 10:48 AM  

The only entertainment I got from this grid was imagining watching nude Olympians.

John 10:50 AM  

How about "Sarah Palin's stove?" for "Alaska Range"?

Masked and Anonymo9Us 10:55 AM  

DORMI/MEME/Tuesday. NoNo.

Nice U-count.

Lewis 10:58 AM  

Tougher than usual Tuesday, but no quibbles! Liked the writup Milo, er, "Milo".

Whoa -- my captcha is RATEDF

Mel Ott 11:05 AM  

LEO the Lip (Durocher) was referring to my namesake when he was quoted as saying, "Nice guys finish last."

Airymom 11:09 AM  

Good luck Milo from a Harpur Grad, class of '77! Glad to read you're taking a French course, since that was my major. Puzzle was meh. Your write up was hilarious. And what's with this R Kelly opera? Scary how some folks get so well known and rich with so little talent. Oh well, enjoy the grand opening of Chipotle.

Liz 11:13 AM  

My poor 82-year-old mother, who has long been a NYTimes crossword afficionado, IN PEN, no less, has just about given up the ship. So many references to current pop culture has left her stymied. And to see "meme" today makes me expect a phone call at any moment. You can almost hear her rasping "These youngsters today ... !" She does love DKNY though ... and perhaps the fact that Buddy EBSEN made an appearance will calm her temper. But another Bart Simpson word and she might crash her HoverRound.

jae 11:14 AM  

Tough Tues.! What Milo said.

Evan 11:38 AM  


Personal preference. If you had a theme where ONE, TWO, THREE, and FOUR were hidden inside longer theme entries, I wouldn't want some other number like NINE sitting somewhere else in a random, non-symmetrical position in the grid, unless it served some purpose to the theme itself, where there's some obvious connection between the first four numbers and the number nine. But here, it's just a set of designers with no other connection besides the fact that they're all in fashion, they're in non-symmetrical positions, and YSL isn't a great piece of fill to begin with.

I also like to keep the theme and fill separate because, in my experience, adding in a bonus theme answer provides an unnecessary constriction. The fill around FENDI and YSL isn't too bad here, although if you're not familiar with either FENDI or FAISAL, then that becomes a rather tough cross.

Davis 12:10 PM  

I thought this had a couple of bad crosses that have no place in a Tuesday. I couldn't remember ISAO's first letter (I had aSAO), and the DORMI cross doesn't help — if you're not an Italian speaker, it seems like there are a few vowels that could work there. The FAISAL/FENDI cross is even worse; the ?AISAL part definitely triggered my memory for a former Saudi king, but I couldn't remember that first letter; I've never heard of FENDI, so at that point it was basically just guessing — my INSTINCT was to try 'b'; I ended up Googling rather than wasting my time trying every consonant until the iPad app gave me the all-clear.

I don't think these were inappropriate by any means, but on a Tuesday you need to have crosses that actually check the more difficult/obscure fill.

Aside from those irritants, this was a "meh" puzzle for me. Aside from those two squares, I breezed through this, but neither the theme nor the fill brought a smile to my face.

John V 12:33 PM  

I thought 14A could have been clued as, "Irritant that may be spread via the internet", which would have crossed nicely with MEME.

Just sayin'

Susan McConnell 12:41 PM  

So glad I came back to read more comments. Carola, you gave me a new appreciation for the puzzle with your nuanced insight re: ARMANI in FARMANIMALS and the ANKLE twisting idea.

And @John @10:50...that brought a big grin :-D

acme 12:46 PM  

I think "bonus" answers are just that! Bonus! Shouldn't have to be symmetrical...they are little extra dollops of fun, sometimes elegant!
They add to the "atmosphere" of the puzzle. Perhaps the constructor had tried to work them into the puzzle (@evan, your MURPHYSLAW is brilliant!) but the letter count didn't work or he didn't want to use initials where the others had been full name
(eg @Milo and others being more familiar with DKNY than the name KARAN by itself)

I would have fought against this when I first started out, but when I collaborated with Ashish Vengasarker on a puzzle with fishing phrases (GONEFISHIN', etc) he had two long downs like UNDERTHESEA which I had objected to initially...but in the end, they added wonderful atmosphere and had a sort of gestalt effect.

So FENDI and YSL, a) can't be symmetrical if they tried... but b) adds to the total "design", in my opinion.
And the fact that it was written by a guy, all the more pleasing!

(p.s. @Loren, If he had needed a 12 letter reveal I would've gone with FASHIONPLATE.)

@anon 6:16 am
Except for the sort of lost-in-internet-tone ending to the post, I totally agree with you! Perversely, I'm glad (sometimes) when people criticise and bring up alternative suggestions for theme answers that totally miss the point, bec it gives a chance to reinforce looking at the puzzle more closely and having a retroactive appreciation for what the constructor DID do!

miriam b 12:48 PM  

The ELM blight steered me to FENDI before I could fill in my first thought, Prada. Loved this puzzle; on completion rewarded myself with a spritz of my go-to fragrance, YSL's Rive Gauche.

mac 1:35 PM  

Crunchy Tuesday! A little late to add to the discussion, but I enjoyed the solve overall.

The bib overalls reminded me of the most durable of them all, OshKosh! Didn't know there was an YSL fragrance called Parisienne; I gave away my "Paris" because my husband thought it smelled like dead roses.... I thought 27D would be comb, but the right answer is great.

Oxycodone certainly feels like a sedative to me.

syndy 1:42 PM  

Lord Protector, the screen shot did indeed give you away- otherwise dead on! too many -see clue no ** clues! too much sports clued see blah blah. too little pizzazz from the theme. I liked the downs better than the acrosses!

Erizo 1:49 PM  

I think this crossword is perfectly fine. Sure there is 'meh' stuff - there always is. Always.

I'm fine with FENDI and YSL. In these situations I would often go with 'reverse cluing', flipping what would be a theme entry into the clue and letting the 'bonus entry' come from that. That type of clue would have been awesome with today's theme. But what do I know. The next puzzle that I have accepted will be the first.

Bird 1:57 PM  

Nice puzzle from Bill Thompson. But . . . good thing I’m a golf fan. Otherwise I would have had to guess at the intersection of 1A and 5D. The other possible Natick intersection is 6A and 6D (I needed a moment to choose between VENDI and FENDI). Corrected EERIE to ALIEN, OBOE to TUBA and SCARY to ALARM.

Agree that INTERIOR DESIGNER would have been much better. Especially so if the folks were actually interior designers. Minor hiccup. Did DESI Arnaz do any designing? And where is Vera Wang?

ECRU has had a busy week so far – how many puzzles is this?

Loved RHE. Took a while for me to figure out because there is no MLB team with those initials.

Nice write-up Mr. Beckman. Good luck with your projects.

Go Yankees! I do see a rally coming as the bats will awake from their slumber.

JC66 2:20 PM  


The principal 2:42 PM  

@JC66 - pass

Anonymous 3:30 PM  

@acme: I remember that fishin' puzzle, one of the best in memory. Kept singing "Under the sea" when I was done.

More in the pipeline?

Anonymous 3:50 PM  

GESSO was word o' day last year and it is not obscure, it is art 101.

Puzzle awkward & rag gick

Andy Warhol 4:20 PM  

Okay . . . who here has taken Art 101? If you are/were an art student you need not respond.

Tyler 4:21 PM  

Awful puzzle. Nice write-up!

loren muse smith 4:25 PM  

@Evan – thanks for the explanation. I see what you’re saying, especially the number example. Maybe closely-related-but-not-theme entries are better? For this one, say, a PURSE or a BELT and call it a day? FAISAL was unknown to me, so I guess without going for the FENDI that area might have been just a bit more accessible.

But still. . . I come down more on the side of ACME and Joho.

@Two Ponies – you made me laugh!

sanfranman59 4:29 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 11:39, 8:58, 1.30, 98%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:41, 4:40, 1.22, 95%, Challenging

ebgb500 4:56 PM  

While your Rex-pression was pretty good, I cannot believe you skimped on the bullets?!?! The bullets are at least 75% of the reason I come to check this blog. I could really care less about the jibber-jabber of whether the puzzle was difficult or the fill contrived. I come for an explanation of those few particularly confusing/interesting/totally random clues in the puzzle.

Sandy K 4:58 PM  

Got a real late start today, but I enjoyed reading everyone's comments!!

I, too, noticed something was amiss by the opening grid that is not like Rex's...but the blog itself was a great SEND UP of our leader.

I'm with those who felt this was harder than a Tuesday. OK, it was NOT an easy-ARMANI-zy puz...

I liked it- liked the theme and the hidden designers- YES YES! Even the assymetrical FENDI and YSL.

Only ALIEN words to me were DORMI and CARRE. I only know John La Carre- don't know if I spelled it right?

I'm glad when commenters point out the positives because I feel the constructor worked hard and even tho there are crappy puzzles, I always look forward to doing them and appreciate the effort that went into them.

Sandy K 5:14 PM  

Correction: John Le Carre

Sparky 6:09 PM  

DNF. PRADA went in and I never changed it leaving me with AQUatic, NiL and some blanks. I enjoyed finding or predicting the names once I caught on.

Nice job, Milo, aping the Master's style though when I saw the different grid I figured something was up.

sanfranman59 12:25 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 6:00, 6:47, 0.89, 6%, Easy
Tue 11:33, 8:58, 1.29, 98%, Challenging (5th highest median solve time of 173 Tuesdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:40, 3:41, 1.00, 53%, Medium
Tue 5:33, 4:40, 1.19, 92%, Challenging

Waxy in Montreal 11:09 AM  

From syndiland: not sure what all the BOOERS were carping about 5 weeks back. In keeping with the fashion theme (meme?), thought this puzzle actually was cutting-edge in nature. Only difficulty I had was a personal neddick at the FENDI/NIA cross where, probably because my neighbor's first name is DIA, had FEDDI/DIA.

Interesting factoid about Buddy EBSEN who most of us recall (if at all) as the grizzled old coot in Beverly Hillbillies - in his youth, though, he was apparently an extremely talented dancer. As such he was the original choice to play the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz film but suffered a severe allergic reaction from breathing the aluminum dust used in the character's makeup and had to be replaced by Jack Haley.

Spacecraft 12:35 PM  

I felt as though I was stepping into an ALIEN MORASS (apologies, @acme) today. To begin, a total Nedicks at #4. The WAY-lesser known Verdi duet crossing...what? _EME? WTF? I wound up putting an M in there because it looked better than S or a vowel. Later, after uncovering YESYES (No! NO!) I thought I was in an echo chamber.

This whole thing felt awkward. Two of the themers are fine as stand-alone names (ARMANI, DIOR) but the other two really need something besides the bare surname. No one ever says, "This is a KARAN," or "That's a KLEIN." You use the full name, or DKNY if you must.

Hand up for Satires--but then I parsed the clue as a noun and changed (because of LEO) to SENDups! Had BABYG__ and still had to finish that one on crosses. There's a Baby Gap? Good grief!

More strangeness: some of you falling all over yourselves in praise of the GENE clue: "There's one for curly hair." Yeah, okay, GENE. Duh. Monday clue. Gimme. What's so great?

FENDI was no problem for me--simply because there it is, on the side wall of Bellagio, staring at me every time I'm waiting for the bus in front of Caesar's. Been in the store? Could recognize anything FENDI? Nah! (Nor any of the others, either.) As far as theme answers appearing in non-theme grid sites: I think it's a plus. But the whole thing today was just a little too SPACY for me.

rain forest 1:00 PM  

Nice stuff about Buddy Ebsen, @Waxy in Montreal. My first memory of Ebsen was his role as Fess Parker's sidekick in Disney's Davy Crockett ("give 'em what fer, Davy").
Milo captured the pompous, pedantic tendencies of Rex very nicely, but I don't really appreciate the "here's what the constructor should have done" tone. What the consructor did do was to produce a nice puzzle with the added touch of FENDI and YSL (as bonuses), and some pretty nice fill. The cluing kept it at a Tuesday level. If you knew ISAO AOKI, and FENDI, which I happened to, this was medium, and I liked it.

DMGrandma 2:24 PM  

Finished with an error where the duet crossed the golfer-had an "e". Not the only place I hesitated. From obscure opera to RHE and strange phrasing (who says RADIOREPORT?) this puzzle seemed more '"later in the week-ish), not aimed, as I had always believed Monday-Tuesday are, at the tyro, hoping for some success. That said, I enjoyed working my way through it.

@Liz. As your mother's contemporary and equally long time solver, I second her feelings. Incidentally, there's nothing special about solving in ink. For me, it is easier to see on newsprint. Instead of erasing, you write over, and you soon learn to write lightly where you are hesitant.

Solving in Seattle 2:50 PM  

@Waxy, thanks for the Buddy Ebsen story. Interesting, and probably very disappointing for him. He would have made a great Tin Man.

This puzzle was, for some reason, a difficult Tuesday for me. I was not on the same wave length as the cluer. I don't speak French, thus NUL and CARRE came only on crosses. AQUAOUS is not in my vocab. Also not an opera buff.

Really my first toe stub in a while.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. (A bit late for our Canadian friends.)

Dirigonzo 5:03 PM  

I vow to never again forget ISAO AOKI's name again; I should have known GESSO too, but I guessed wrong so the cross of the two did ne in. Buy still I have no quibble with the constructor as I think this was a pretty good Tuesday offering. Major writeover for the Location of Mouny McKinley which I thought would be something Alaska, and the two "A"s appropriately placed seemed to confirm that, so in it went. Total (at 55d) went in as addup and AQUatic preceded AQUEOUS, all of which made for a messy grid. FARMANI MALS would be a good name for an Italian punk rock group.

SharonAK 9:08 PM  

@ Jaywalker
Of course chickens are animals.
They are not mammals, but they are animals as are ants and slugs and we.

Ginger 12:28 AM  

It's been a long time since I DNF a Tuesday, but I was totally naticked at DOR-I/-EME. I thought DORMI was a golf term, in match play. That's a long way from an operatic duet! That said, I liked the puzzle, though I thought it was too difficult for a Tuesday.

It's quite late and most likely this will not get read, but wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all Syndilanders.

LorettaP 7:46 PM  

This puzzle appeared in the Seattle Paper on Tuesday November 20 - and it was still too messy for a Tuesday. I learned only one thing of use from this puzzle. The "No. 1016" on the top right of the puzzle tells me the date it was published in New York. I used that information (from another xword site) to find the puzzle on Rex's site. I never did finish it and after reading this here decided not to bother. A truly crappy piece of work.

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