Goliath's master of old TV / FRI 10-26-12 / Actress Hubbard Akeelah Bee / Mahon is its largest city / Dark reddish brown / Competition series with versions in over 30 countries / Two-time Italian prime minister Giuliano / Sitcom mom Cheyenne kyra / Lyre holder of myth

Friday, October 26, 2012

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Medium



THEME: none

Word of the Day: "DAVEY and Goliath" (18A: Goliath's master of old TV) —

Davey and Goliath is a 1960s stop-motion animated children's Christian television series. The programs, produced by the Lutheran Church in America (now a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), were produced by Art Clokey after the success of his Gumbyseries.
Each 15-minute episode features the adventures of Davey Hansen and his "talking" dogGoliath (although only Davey and the viewer can hear him speak) as they learn the love of God through everyday occurrences. Many of the episodes also feature Davey's parents John and Elaine, his sister Sally, as well as Davey's friends; Jimmy, Teddy, and Nathanial in earlier episodes; Jonathan, Jimmy, Nicky (who looked a lot like Teddy) and Cisco on later ones (all were members of the "Jickets" club). (wikipedia)

• • •

On the tough side for me, but not for the rest of humanity, I think. Just wasn't in sync with it, though I did have my second root canal appointment a few hours ago and my face is still pretty numb, so maybe some of my relative slowness can be attributed the residual effects of the stress / drugs. Who can say? This is a fine-looking grid, though it didn't excite me much. Trying to guess what the seed answers were and not having a very easy time of it: THE X FACTOR, I'd imagine (27D: Competition TV series with versions in over 30 countries)—that's long and fresh; maybe ROBOCALLS—also modern, and, this month, timely. I don't see anything else that would make me say "Man, I gotta put *this* in a puzzle. Maybe TOP KNOTS (40A: Kewpie doll features). I like that, though I apparently don't really know what Kewpie dolls look like, because I didn't know TOP KNOTS were a feature. I think I was imagining Troll dolls. I know TOP KNOTS as a gang in "Watchmen." Wait, no, those were the KNOT-TOPS. Nevermind.

Fill is both smooth and Scrabbly, a nice combination, and one you can pull off when you go toward the high end of the word-count spectrum with your themeless (this one is 70, max is 72). As I've said many times, I prefer the higher word counts and nice fill to the lower word counts and barf. I didn't struggle mightily with this one, but I struggled often—had at least a little trouble getting into every section. Opened very weirdly by kind of traipsing across the middle of the grid. ST. PETE to EIGHTY to HERR to REBA to LATE, jump to RSVP, then VOID, then ODOR. Then OMIT at 37D: Let pass (OKED). Mistake 1. Mistake 2 was CRUX at 28A: One hanging in una iglesia (CRUZ). Mistake 3 was GOLDEN AGE instead of GOLDEN ERA (62A: Heyday). Mistake 4 was HOMER, though, to be fair to me, I doubted it as soon as I put it in, suspecting that HOMER was too obvious and knowing that TATER would also work (63A: Four-bagger). So I just waited for crosses to work their magic. No idea about cities in MINORCA (38D: Mahon is its largest city). No idea about POODLE CUT (though I was able to work out the POODLE part, eventually) (59A: Short, curly hairdo). No idea who ERICA Hubbard is (16A: Actress Hubbard of "Akeelah and the Bee"). I do, however, own a beat up Jerry Rice jersey, and I was the only kid growing up in Fresno in the '70s who was a huge Seattle Seahawks fan, so that EIGHTY clue was up my alley x 2 (25A: Number retired for Steve Largent and Jerry Rice). All in all, a reasonably enjoyable outing.

Bullets:
  • 24A: Santa Maria's chain (AZORES) — did the ship land there? (no). Is Santa Maria an island in the chain? (yes). I thought maybe "chain" meant restaurant. IHOP?
  • 30A: Truncated parlor piece? (TAT) — Interesting, though "?" usually work best if they use a zig phrase for a zag answer. [Parlor piece?] for TATTOO would be a good example. The "Truncated" part here (to get the abbrev. TAT) is just odd.
  • 35A: Sitcom mom of Cheyenne and Kyra (REBA) — educated guess. She's the most common four-letter sitcom mom in crosswords.
  • 38A: "I have had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it" (MARX) — Little-known fact: Karl MARX was Hi-Larious.
  • 48D: Thing placed during a political campaign (SPOT AD) — this is different from an AD how? I don't know this phrase.
  • 56A: Two-time Italian prime minister Giuliano (AMATO) — puzzle really wants to know my Italian PMs this month. Not gonna happen.
  • 58A: Filler of some cavities (GROUT) — please. Ixnay on the cavity talk. I've had it with tooth talk (or apparent tooth talk) for a while.
  • 11D: Lyre holder of myth (ERATO) — nice fat gimme: the muse of lyric poetry. And also crosswords. (sorry, Melpomene)
  • 41D: Dark reddish brown (OXBLOOD) — it's a color? Wow, apparently it's the "color of the moment" (per this fashion article published just today at HuffPo). News to me. Do oxen have different colored blood from other, uh, ruminants?
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

87 comments:

optionsgeek 12:13 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ahsieh 12:40 AM  

Is that you in the football picture? (That's an interesting montage effect. Was it a double exposure?) I miss those days...things were so much simpler back then, heh.

Aqua Cruz Minorcas 2:19 AM  

2 Q, 2 X, 2 Z, a J...fun! No W

Plopped in SQUAREPEG without thinking so everything fell into place, one fun letter after another.

kewpie dolls is old as are POODLECUT and being ONAJAG. Throw in lots of geography and Groucho and BEDIM, GEST and MAYEST I say it sort of has an old timey feel.

But I prefer that to Peter's usually overly abundant sportsy puzzles, so happy customer here.

I think EYEHOLES is very Halloweeny too.

Speaking of EYEHOLES, my only problem was making OPTHO into OCULO.

Will never forget Survivors having to drink OXBLOOD in Africa. Directly with a straw into the body. No Lemon squeezed into it.

chefwen 2:38 AM  

@Aqua Cruz - Eeewwww!!! I don't remember that scene, thank God.

Kinda difficult for me, especially up in the NW corner. Looking at it now, I have no idea why, it just seemed to take me forever. Maybe because I had dent in at 5D, other than the T none of the other letters were going to help me out.

Acme - was thinking of you the whole time I was ticking off the letters to see if we had a (Rex's favorite) pangram.

Thank you Peter A. Collins, any Friday that I can complete is a good Friday.

jae 4:22 AM  

Medium seems right.  Didn't struggle but didn't breeze either.  Like Rex, CRUx and homER, and oKay for OKED.  And me too for denT @chefwen.  Call me a sycophant,  but I'm going with "reasonably enjoyable outing."   I mean QUICKIE crossing PIOUSNESS is a BEDAZZLING juxtaposition.  Nice one Peter!

The Bard 7:24 AM  

The Comedy of Errors > Act II, scene II

ADRIANA: Ay, ay, Antipholus, look strange and frown:
Some other mistress hath thy sweet aspects;
I am not Adriana nor thy wife.
The time was once when thou unurged wouldst vow
That never words were music to thine ear,
That never object pleasing in thine eye,
That never touch well welcome to thy hand,
That never meat sweet-savor'd in thy taste,
Unless I spake, or look'd, or touch'd, or carved to thee.
How comes it now, my husband, O, how comes it,
That thou art thus estranged from thyself?
Thyself I call it, being strange to me,
That, undividable, incorporate,
Am better than thy dear self's better part.
Ah, do not tear away thyself from me!
For know, my love, as easy mayest thou fall
A drop of water in the breaking gulf,
And take unmingled that same drop again,
Without addition or diminishing,
As take from me thyself and not me too.
How dearly would it touch me to the quick,
Shouldst thou but hear I were licentious
And that this body, consecrate to thee,
By ruffian lust should be contaminate!
Wouldst thou not spit at me and spurn at me
And hurl the name of husband in my face
And tear the stain'd skin off my harlot-brow
And from my false hand cut the wedding-ring
And break it with a deep-divorcing vow?
I know thou canst; and therefore see thou do it.
I am possess'd with an adulterate blot;
My blood is mingled with the crime of lust:
For if we too be one and thou play false,
I do digest the poison of thy flesh,
Being strumpeted by thy contagion.
Keep then far league and truce with thy true bed;
I live unstain'd, thou undishonoured.

JFC 7:27 AM  

My favorite Karl Marx line was: I wouldn't want to join a club who would have me as a member.

I never could understand his bother Harpo though....

JFC

Susan McConnell 7:37 AM  

@acm Was gonna say the same thing about the letters. I kept scanning the grid willing a W to appear.

Natty, fashion forward hubby informs me he recently acquired an oxblood pair of shoes and belt. Did not know that term was used for a color, but if it's in the puzzle it must be true.

Ps...on 4th try entering Captcha

jackj 7:51 AM  

My problem with Peter’s puzzles has always been that he gets carried away with his themed offerings and will use ten entries when four would have sufficed, thus my oft repeated lament that his modus operandi seems to be “nothing succeeds like excess”.

But, Peter is also a clever wordsmith and, so, when I see his name attached to a Friday or Saturday themeless puzzle it is almost certain that he’ll give us a fluid, intelligent, fun puzzle and today’s is no exception.

Let me say “Boo to BEDIM” right up front and get beyond my biggest gripe of the puzzle since I come to praise Peter not to, (well, you know).

First, just think of Peter’s prescience in cluing TATER for “Four-bagger” (a home run for the uninitiated), on the day after Pablo Sandoval (AKA Kung Fu Panda) of the SF Giants hits three round-trippers in the first World Series game of the season.

Or, take POODLECUT and think back to the 1950’s and Lucille Ball’s flaming red example of same or, staying in the salon mode, enjoy the TOPKNOTS on the typical kewpie doll (and on women of all ages) and remember that the inspiration for this popular hair style comes not from some famous hairdresser but directly from those rotund glamour guys, sumo wrestlers.

So, thanks to Peter for a fun Friday; when early on you get a clue looking for someone who deals with overactive bladders, as in UROLOGY, in the same quadrant as Michelangelo’s PIETA, you can expect that an interesting solve awaits you.

Good show, Peter!

Thanks.

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

Help me out here. Got TAT But Huh?

wordie 8:06 AM  

Well, I found it difficult, and ended up googling to finish and learn. Too many proper nouns for my taste. I thought Minorca was Menorca, which had me doubting FIT. What others said re OPTHO. that's not what I think is meant usually by QUICKIE but I'll say no more. Guess I'm just not having a super quick day. I loved the episode of Davey and Goliath. I watched that show on Sunday mornings as a kid, with my twin brother. I still like it, including the opening music. Sigh, those days are long gone.

Susan McConnell 8:19 AM  

@Anonymous 7:59 TAT is truncated form of tattoo which one would get in a parlor (see Rex's write up).

loren muse smith 8:20 AM  

The whole northwest is terrific; ST/ PIOUSNESS/ PIETA, TURQUOISE crossing AQUA, and the other Q – love SQUARE PEG.

With RSVP so close, I keep seeing “regrets” for EGRETS.

I like the French TETE A TETE crossing EAU with ECLAT right next door.

“Hot” TEAS, “okay,” and “age” before ICE TEAS, OKED, and ERA like others.

Very, very nice puzzle, PETE. You FLEXed your constructor’s muscles and delivered a TKO!

PETER 8:38 AM  

I'll just stop by for a QUICKIE between classes. Thanks for the kind words. TATER is indeed a sore subject for me now that the Tigers are down 2-0 in the Series. &%#@$ Panda!!!

My clue for POODLECUT was "Dog do?". I guess that ended up on the cutting-room floor. Probably just as well ...

- Pete Collins

Sir Hillary 8:45 AM  

@Pete Collins -

Thanks much for this one. That NW corner is a beauty.

And "Dog do?" is phenomenal!

mac 9:07 AM  

Great Friday puzzle! Easy-medium for me this time. Only write-over was rust for dent.

Tater and spot ad are new to me, and even my baseball crazy husband did not know that term for a homerun. I vaguely know what a kewpie dog looks like because of antiques fairs, but I thought it had a cowlick. That would have put a W in the puzzle!

Loved aqua(marine) crossing turquoise, some of my favorite stones to work with.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

@Rex - If that is indeed a picture of you in the Seahawks uniform, the ethereal, disembodied, horizontal people floating above your head as you're trying to enjoy a normal American passtime explains a lot.

JC66 9:32 AM  

@Rex

TV ads bought locally (early news, late news, etc.) are called spots.

chefbea 9:50 AM  

Found this to be easy at first but then had to google a bit to finish.

Waiting to see what Sandy is going to do to us - I think just heavy winds and some rain. Good luck to all you New Yorkers and Connecticans waiting for Frankenstorm

Tobias Duncan 10:04 AM  

OXBLOOD has been a favorite in the interior design world here in the southwest for over a decade.

I had never heard of DAVEY and Goliath but I have seen the brutally vulgar adult swim take off.Neat to see the inspiration.

Milford 10:06 AM  

Lovely, very medium puzzle for me. The NW was uncharacteristically the first area to fall for me - love having two Qs in there, especially AQUA crossing TURQUOISE - so many vowels! (My youngest daughter's middle name is Aloise, just missing the U. I had hoped it was spelled Alouise, but we wanted to be true to our family namesake.)

Speaking of kids, as infants we used to comb their wispy hair into a mini-mohawk, and that's what I thought a Kewpie doll's hair-do was. I really didn't think there was a knot or bun involved.

Had denT before RUST, and thought SPin AD sounded as much like a thing as SPOT AD.

Serendipitous moments of this puzzle: Maybe 30 min before I did this puzzle, my brother posted a FB link to an episode of SQUARE PEGs that guest starred Bill Murray as a substitute teacher. And the other day at a semi-upscale clothing store my daughter bought a bag, and the clerk helping us was gushing about how OXBLOOD was *the* fall color to have. My daughter and I were staring at her like hicks, thinking, "It's just dark red, right?" Now we are calling everything red we see, OXBLOOD.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

In English, East Germany was the German Democratic Republic (GDR). If you're going to clue DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republic), indicate somehow that it's in German.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

Damn it, that should be Republik!

Tita 10:17 AM  

Nearly finished. Liked the puzzle - just ornery enough.
I think of OXBLOOD as a deep, dark red - not at all brown.
Loved TETEATETE,
BEDAZZLING is one of my favorite words.
Having worked in software my whole career, I often term some great new bell or whistle "The Bedazzler".

Please don't tell my born-and-early-raised AZOREan sister-in-law that I first wrote in rosary.

Oh - and saw the PIETA last week at the Vatican - stunning.

A side note about Rexville - with little time to devote to puzzle appreciation, y'all are invaluable in pointing out all these great juxtapositions and other noteworthy subtleties - thanks!

(Sigh - Dog do? is awesome...)

Notsofast 10:19 AM  

A good Friday puz (truncated) that was fairly tough for me. That's what I want! Loved Groucho's quote and all the x's and z's. And "tater" always brings a smile. Good one, Mr.C!

edwords 10:28 AM  

Actually, JC66, I believe Spot Ads are ads that are bought as one-offs, rather than a full, pre-scheduled buy (ie, I think you can buy Spot Ads nationally as well) -- most advertising is bought in a mega-schedule well in advance, while spot ads are added later, when a time slot in a station's advertising opens up or is made available.

John V 10:37 AM  

Hello. Very challenging here, big time DNF. Got some things here and there, but no breakthroughs on any crosses. Got none of the 9s. I typically have a hard time with Peter Colins' puzzles; today was no exception. Good puzzle, just not in my wheelhouse.

imfromjersey 10:39 AM  

Don't know if this was intentional, Peter, but my favorite Giants receiver, Victor (28A) Cruz of the NY Giants also wears #80. Very nice puzzle, had a LOT of trouble with the NW until I got SQUARE PEG.

Sandy K 10:39 AM  

@ PETER

The STATURE of your clues and fill was TOP-NOTch!

Too bad "Dog-do" was not OKED!

Two Ponies 11:07 AM  

@ Rex, The dental drugs might have slowed you down but they also enhanced your sense of humor.
Great puzzle today Peter, thanks for stopping by. Pity about dog do.
Bedim made me groan until I saw it cross bedazzling. Then it was great.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:09 AM  

Fine Friday puzz.

Two write-overs: As noted by Rex et al, GOLDENAGE before GOLDENERA, but also, 14 D, MAYHAP before MAYEST.

Rex Parker 11:17 AM  

@Susan,

"see Rex's write-up" made me LOL. Thank you.

RP

JFC 11:40 AM  

@ Susan - I think Rex was loooking for a tit for a tat.

@JFC 7:27 - So that's why you come here....

JFC

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

Got lost inthe NW when I put "terrorism" in for Iranian export. I thought it weird buti had 4 good crosses for it.

acme 11:47 AM  

Another fabulous reason for a blog, we get to hear the constructor's original clues (Dog do!!!) AND he gets to throw in a sports comment!
SF is going a little nuts right now, glad this next game is away. (Fewer drunks on the BART trying to "GO GIANTS!" highfiving me by force)

By the way, I'd never have gotten TENACES without last week's discussion about the term.

jberg 11:57 AM  

DNF in a big way - wanted GDR before DDR, glory days instead of GOLDEN ERA - and even when I saw the GOLD, thought "Golden years are'nt you heyday, are they?" Two other problems - I read "might" as "strength" in the clud for 14D, so did not see the otherwise-obvious MAYEST, and confused the "..." for the "___" in 52A, so I was looking for words to begin the phrase rather than end it. The result: complete fiasco.

Is a home run a TATER because batters used to get a TAT in celebration?

syndy 12:10 PM  

@ S MCCONNEL what did you think the term OXBLOOD refered to? I though this puz was DAZZLING!Studded with flashy shining bits of stone.And so colorful-RUST AQUA TURQUOISE GOLD . Nobody ADDRESSED the LGA/LPGA thingie.This is from Peters golden era!

Masked and Anonymo8Us 12:23 PM  

Wowzers. SQUAREPEG, TURQUOISE, QUICKIE.

PIOUSNESS, UROLOGY, TETEATETE.
BEDAZZLIN', TOPKNOTS, OXBLOOD.
THEXFACTOR, EYEHOLES, BYOB/RSVP.
Do not try this kinda stuff at home.
Throw in eight U's, for the M&A factor.
That's yer themelessthUmbsUp.
QED.
Dang, 31. U is really havin' to put yer money where yer mouth is. So sorry.

Mel Ott 12:24 PM  

I prefer that my abbots exhibit PIETY.

I remember smearing OXBLOOD shoe polish on my shoes when I was a little kid. Ugly color. Ugly shoes.

@Acme: one more reason not to watch Survivor.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

You know why one would need a third root-canal? Because at least on of the previous two were performed on the wrong root, or the wrong tooth.

Not to worry though, because the most certainly will not charge for the third, as it was necessary only due to their mistake. Right? That's the only honorable thing to do, right?

captcha: eeldwi Noteable because there were hundreds issued in McCovey cove last night.

Speaking of McCovey cove -- Tim McCarver - For the love of god, please retire. Last week. When someone makes a comment about Giants fans being used to chanting Barry, Barry, it wasn't about the recent Barry Manilow concert, but about Barry Bonds. Once you've made that mistake, just move as quickly as possible to The Home for Senile Baseball Announcers.

M and A moreover 1:10 PM  

p.s. Almost forgot POODLECUT. Great fillins. Regretful, PC, that yer clew didn't make the cut. Bet there's some interestin' clews out there for QUICKIE, too.

"Dog do" and "Deed done undoggedly".
Now there's yer kennel show.

Carola 1:33 PM  

I found the puzzle to be a real pleasure CRUZ. I enjoyed revisiting each quadrant and claiming a little more territory each time. As others have pointed out, lovely words, lovely crosses and juxtapositions (sticking with the "cruise" idea - the AZORES chain crossing the middle of EAU).

Did not know TATER, pictured sacks of Russets.

@acme - "ophtho," tho. :)

@Peter Collins - Thanks for another great puzzle!

Bird 1:55 PM  

Impossible for me and didn’t like it. Not my cuppa. Too many clues and/or answers that were too obscure. Too much that I don’t care to know about. The internet was no help.

How is 15A not PETROLEUM and 59A not PERMANENT (Dog do is a much, MUCH better clue)?

BE DIM and BE DAZZLING at the same time?

SPOTS are ADS. ADS are SPOTS.

Bud Abbot was pious?

TGIF!

Sparky 1:59 PM  

Finished about two thirds. Hand up for omit, crux, optho, homer. First two resolved. BOYB and RSVP again. Liked SQUAREPEG, TURQUOISE (my birthstone), and TETEATETE. Going great guns (FLEX?) till I hit the south.

Had a version of the POODLECUT once, briefly. The hairdresser called it The English Boy but it went away as soon as the humidity hit.

I think of the Kewpie with googly eyes.

A good Friday all in all. Thanks PAC. Gee, Rex, I hope you finish and feel better soon. Dental work a primo horror to me.

Anoa Bob 2:08 PM  

Tough solve but very enjoyable.

Quibble with 32D LATE being clued "Fashionable, some say". Being LATE in and of itself isn't necessarily fashionable. What if you were LATE for a UROLOGY exam? Or worse, LATE for a QUICKIE? Would that be fashionable? I think not.

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

i think the endearing feature of the kewpie doll is its googoo eyes so i was stumped there. also had optha for ocula. the eyes did me in.

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

Looks like Rex has a teacher's pet.

None of my comments, be they sychophantic or not, have ever been deemed worthy of an LOL from Rex- let alone a 'thank you'.

Gee whiz- depression ensues.

PS. And I'm not even really anonymous!

Lady and Tramp 2:31 PM  

@M&A: Dog day afternooner?

JC66 2:58 PM  

I can't believe it. I just got an email from Will telling me that I am a contest winner.

Yippee!

KarenSampsonHudson 3:04 PM  

Disputed point of grammar: "At about" is a dubious phrase. "Around" is preferred, or simply "about". Yeah, call me nit picky, but I don't use "at about".

Not nit picky 3:26 PM  

I was there AT ABOUT 9:00 in the morning when I saw the lady come out of the salon with a POODLE CUT.

ANON B 3:44 PM  

It looks like I'm the only one who
doesn't understand
dog do=poodle cut. Help!

Vidal Sassoon 3:57 PM  

@ANON B - A "do" is a hair style, as in hairdo.

lawprof 4:20 PM  

A struggle for me -- just the way I like a Friday to be. Had to put it down and come back to it to finish.

At 38A had just _ _ R _ and put in goRe, thinking that's what he might have said when the Supreme Court handed down its (overtly political) decision in Gore v. Bush, giving the election to the latter. (Don't get me started).

Metaphysical Grammarian 4:21 PM  

Prefered by whom? A random one side of a dispute?

James Cameron 4:27 PM  

@Sparky - What happened to your Avatar?

Anonymous 4:30 PM  

Did anyone else put VOID for "let pass" at 37 down before realizing it was the answer for 36 across? (It tied in with the urology theme!)

sanfranman59 4:36 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)

Fri 22:27, 24:25, 0.92, 36%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 13:58, 12:10, 1.15, 76%, Medium-Challenging

I've begun looking at how changing the calculation of a "normal" median solve time might affect the ratings that I post (see my first blog comment of Monday of last week (10/15) for details of what's prompted me to reconsider my approach). To date, I've defined each day's "normal" in each group of solvers as the mean median solve time among all puzzles for that day of the week in my spreadsheet (the data I have go back to June 2009). This is what the "average for day of week" represents in the above numbers.

However, since "normal" may change over time and seems to have systematically changed as a result of the NYT changing its subscription policy at the beginning of July (again, see my 10/15 comment for more details), I've tried calculating the ratios using the median median solve time for just the previous 16 weeks as the denominator (i.e. the number of weeks since the Times changed its policy). One of the downsides to this approach is a less stable denominator that is more susceptible to bias by extreme values. So I decided to use the median rather than the mean median solve time in an attempt to reduce this potential bias. Using this method, today's puzzle rates as Medium-Challenging in the All Solvers group (66th percentile) and Challenging in the Top 100 group (89th percentile). My preference is to have a larger sample than 16 puzzles for calculating the denominator. But since the idea is to reduce the effect of the billing policy change, it doesn't make much sense to include puzzles that predate the policy change. The Medium-Challenging and Challenging ratings better reflect my own solving experience with today's puzzle. My solve time falls in the middle of my Friday Medium-Challenging range. So the Easy-Medium All Solvers rating seems out of whack. The reason for the big difference between the All Solvers ratings with the two approaches is that the median Friday median solve time since the policy change is 21:07 vs. the 24:25 mean median solve time for all 173 Friday puzzles in my spreadsheet.

(I hope I haven't thoroughly confused everyone by now!)

Tobias Duncan 4:44 PM  

@JC66
Congratulations!!
Of course now the rest of us know that we did not win so you may not get many pats on the back today.


In honor of today's puzzle I am going to dye some beige slacks of mine OXBLOOD. It is an easy color to mix. Start with a brilliant fire engine red and add blue,black and a hint of yellow.
If they come out well I will post a photo.

lawprof 4:50 PM  

Should be Bush v. Gore. I'm still mad.

Pete 4:54 PM  

@Sanfranman - Why not split the difference and use a rolling 12 month (or 10,8 or 6) average?

Why don't you say "if you think you're so damned smart, why don't you do this yourself, Pete?"

jae 5:41 PM  

@Sanfranman -- So what happened as a result of the policy change is that a significant group of slower solvers bailed, which made the top 100 times have more influence on the All Solvers mean median times.

Have you ever considered breaking the sample into two separate groups, the top 100 and the rest of us? That would provide a more realistic mean median time for non speed solvers?

mac 6:16 PM  

Congratulations, @JC66! Our own Miriam Brown also will receive a calendar.

miriam b 6:51 PM  

Two winning Rexites? I'm still in shock. What are the odds?

sanfranman59 6:56 PM  

@Pete ... That's more or less what I plan to do, but because the change in policy seems to have had a fairly dramatic effect on the composition of the sample, I don't really want the rolling period for the current puzzles to include puzzles both before and after the policy change. So the rolling period I'm using at the moment is the 15 weeks it's been since the policy change. Of course, that means that the calculations for the previous 14 weeks ratios include puzzles both before and after the policy change, so that's a bit of a bugaboo. I think I will do some experimenting with different rolling periods to see what happens.

@jae ... I already do calculate different statistics for each group of solvers, although you're correct that the Top 100 is a subset of the All Solvers group and now comprises a larger proportion of the All Solvers group than it did before the policy change. Are you suggesting that I make the two groups the Top 100 and the 101st through nth fastest solvers each day? That's a good suggestion, but I don't think it would address the problem of the sample changing as a result of the policy change. Keep in mind that I don't have access to the raw data in a way that's practical for me to keep track of each individual solve time each day. I simply scan through the list of solve times that are posted online each day and record the 50th fastest solve time (the Top 100 median) and the middle value for the entire list of online solvers (e.g. the 200th fastest solve time if there are 400 total solvers). I also record how many solvers there are each day, which is why I know that the number of online solvers has dropped significantly since the policy change.

Thanks for the input!

Susan McConnell 7:03 PM  

@syndy...well, I didn't think think the shoes were *made* of OXBLOOD, I just assumed hubby was making up the name of the color, or trying to fake me out, as he does at every opportunity.

I made Rex laugh! Yay! Plus I found out today that I'm one of the lucky fifty getting a calendar. It's a good day :-)

mac 7:36 PM  

@Susan McConnel: congratulations! Amazing, three winners from the blog, so far.

M and A 7:43 PM  

@L&T... Thanx for the offer, but I'm already licensed and on a pretty tight leash. har

@sanfrandude...
If sample size has shrunk from x to y, then perhaps your two sample groups should shrink proportionately (by a factor of y/x). So instead of a top 100, maybe a top 75, or some such. Then maybe old and new category comparisons would be somewhat more apples to apples. Unless yer premise is that smarter solvers don't like to spend extra money to do puzs online as much. In which case, I got nothin'.

jae 9:08 PM  

@Sanfranman -- I believe my suggestion would increase the mean median for the slower solvers. This may not completely fix the reduced sample size problem (which @m&a seems to be the result of fewer slow solvers) but I posit it will provide a a more realistic estimate of non-speed solvers times. I understand the way you generate data. Your are correct in that to do this you would need to record the 50th fastest time and then the median time for the remainder of the sample i.e. the mid-point between 101 through the slowest solver. I know it would take a while to to get enough data to be useful, but it might be worth a try.

sanfranman59 10:11 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 6:45, 6:47, 1.00, 56%, Medium
Tue 9:35, 8:58, 1.07, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 12:49, 11:50, 1.08, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 19:18, 18:48, 1.03, 59%, Medium
Fri 22:39, 24:25, 0.93, 38%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:52, 3:41, 1.05, 80%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:21, 4:40, 1.15, 87%, Challenging
Wed 6:48, 5:57, 1.14, 85%, Challenging
Thu 10:19, 9:22, 1.10, 75%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 13:20, 12:10, 1.10, 69%, Medium-Challenging

The final ratings using the alternate method I described in my midday post are Medium-Challenging (69%) for the All Solvers group and Challenging (87%) for the Top 100 group.

Thanks again to those of you who chimed in with your ideas.

JC66 10:35 PM  

@edwords

Re spot tv

http://www.ehow.com/facts_5275582_spot-tv-advertising.html

JMack 11:43 PM  

What a great puzzle! Clever clues and answers. At least one long answer I had no idea of. One of those great puzzles, for me, that sends a twinge of "I don't know any of this stuff!" before unfolding.
Nice!
Jon Mack (Reflections In a Cracked Glass)

JMack 11:47 PM  

Oopa. Though I did like Friday's quite a bit, it"s Joon Pahk's Saturday puzzle I just referred to.

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

Why is ice tea shaded?

Spacecraft 1:46 PM  

I hate it when a clue uses verbs like "let," "put" or "set," etc. that don't change when "put" in the past tense. The target word, of course, is ALWAYS spelled differently depending on tense. Hence OKAY for OKED, one of several writeovers.

Another, a double, went from SSR to GDR to, finally DDR--and I should know, I was there. But as the bartender in "Irma la Douce" would say: that's another story.

TATER was homER at first, and MINORCA used to be MorOcCo. Betcha didn't know THAT. And my denT had to age and accumulate RUST.

So my grid looks messy (wife keeps saying "Nobody told you you had to use ink." Poor thing, she just doesn't understand.) but it's all correct, and no help. A bit south of medium for me though. I can still see 80 on Jerry's back--that's the only side of him most cornerbacks ever saw--so that was my entry, and like OFL I cut a swath through the middle. I remember OXBLOOD being a shoe color in my youth; had to find polish to match.

The NW/SE corridor filled first, then the SW after fixing the mistakes, and then the NE, at which I stared for a while. Even with TETEATETE in place I couldn't get in. Finally I thought, with all those other big-count letters, what about BEDAZZLING? It worked! Last letter was the second T of TAT. I was HUH?? till I saw OFL's mention of a TAToo parlor. Ohh, THAT kind of parlor! Trick-ee!

This puzzle is kind of schizophrenic. On the one hand we have Q's, X's and Z's--and on the other long strings of low-counters like TETEATETE and ADDRESSED. Tell you what, (ST)PETE. You want a pangram? Stick a W west of #25. Then you'll have a WEIGHTY grid!

rain forest 1:58 PM  

Interesting experience completing this puzzle. For 1A, I thought "either ROUNDHOLE or SQUAREPEG". Going with the former, I thought, UROLOGY, NILE, DENT for 3,4,5D, but couldn't make anythng else work, so SQUAREPEG it was, and then whoosh, I was off. One of my quicker efforts, for a Friday, ever. I think if something is really brilliant, it is "dazzling". BEDAZZLING almost sounds like using irregardless, when regardless is correct.

Will all the Canucks show up again today? Certainly not the hockey variety.

Yes--where IS Evil Doug? Did he have another run-in with Rex as per a couple years ago? I don't miss his descriptions of his air force career, but he always added a twist to conversations.

I currently have a pair of oxblood shoes, btw.

Ginger 2:07 PM  

@Sanfranman - Your posts today show the extraordinary effort you put into your stats for us, and I find them intriguing. I enjoy comparing my personal solving experience with your conclusions. Thank You!

@PETER Don't know if you'll see this coming all the way from Syndiland, but thanks for stopping by. Dog Do would have been a great clue, especially since the answer starts with POO....;-)

I'm a long time BB fan, but have never heard a homer called a TATER, though I've heard announcers say "He really Tatooed that one".

A couple of interior design type words today, OXBLOOD and GROUT. Right up my alley. My OCULO started out as Optio (My daughter is an Optician)

@Anon 1:37 Read the FAQs at the top of the page

DMGrandma 3:07 PM  

One unfinished corner again! Got everything but the NE, even it meant I had to assume TATER was correct! But the NE!! With a misspelled CRUx, two unknown proper names, and I just couldn't think of BEDIM and thought Santa Maria must be a mountain. Thus I wasn't BEDAZZLED and had no ICETEA-I tend to squeeze my lemons into reamers, so that was another hold-up. Wonder if I'll do any better with the Captcha. Had to cycle through a dozen or so to find one where the numbers were even "seeable".

Red Valerian 3:52 PM  

Wow--I absolutely flew through this one. I mean, I don't time myself, but it sure felt fast. Loved all the 'U's, partly becaUse that caUsed Us to hear more fUn contribUtions from M&A.

ROBOCALLS was an unwelcome reminder of the scandal in last year's Canadian federal election. argh.

Did not know TATER, and I think of the drink as ICEdTEA, but those didn't slow me down.

Anyhow, really loved the puzzle--mostly in my bailiwick or wheelhouse or something. Thanks, @Pete Collins, for showing up.

Longbeachlee 3:52 PM  

Go figure. I have never before finished a Friday puzzle in a half hour-ish and never thought I would. Last weeks easy mediums took me all day, so I thought this one would be rated ridiculously easy. Have I crossed some mental plateau? Was my ESP mojo on? Was this a geezers only puzzle? My wife thinks I'm as dumb as ever.

Anonymous 6:43 PM  

May Will Shortz's shorts bind and gag him for changing the clue for "poodlecut." Doggy-do would have been just perfect. Thanks Mr. Collins for a great fun puzzle.
San Diego Sam

Waxy in Montreal 7:31 PM  

@rain forest, almost FORGOT but have now shown up GEST as requested.

Saw the Pietà at the 1964 New York World's Fair. As I recall, you stood on a moving sidewalk with a host of other folks so only a brief view was possible - not much PIOUSNESS associated with the occasion. Certainly no time for a TÊTE-À-TÊTE (wanted to FLEX my circumflexes here).

Echo @Red on the negative use of ROBOCALLS in the last Canadian election. Many alleged dirty tricks involving them still under investigation.

Had LACE before LATE (what do I know about fashion?, though OXBLOOD is one of my fav hues) which kept TOPKNOTS from appearing for the longest time. Also SLATES before SPOTAD and GOLDENAGE before GOLDENERA which gave me as much trouble with the SE as @DMG had with the NE. But had no EGRETS.

Dirigonzo 9:47 PM  

WPP and I practically breezed through this with only the SE corner offering any resistance and even that was short-lived.

I now find myself skimming the prime-time comments to get to the syndi comments more quickly - it seems a community of kindred spirits is developing back here in the hinterland of Rexville.

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

Am I the only one that doesn't get 28A: One hanging in una iglesia (CRUZ)?

Dio 1:07 PM  

@Anonymous 12:54--Si.

Señor Wences 1:23 PM  

Anon 12:54, an iglesia is a church while a cruz is a cross.

(captcha is spictv - I kid thee not. Shouldn't they be reported to an anti-defamation league?)

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

Gracias, Señor Wences.

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