Wall Street Journal ___ / Gang woman / Naughty Goose and Moose Drool / The Allegheny and Monongahela join to form it / CBS series for 17 seasons / Something of interest to Miss Marple / Cy Young's was 2.63, in brief

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Constructor: John Guzzetta

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging



THEME: A Twenty Dollar Bill — Four long answers describe... stuff about a $20 bill.

Word of the Day: CLEW (6-D: Something of interest to Miss Marple) —
noun
1.
clue def. 1 .

2.
Nautical either lower corner of a square sail or the afterlower corner of a fore-and-aft sail.
3.
a ball or skein of thread, yarn, etc.
4.
Usually, clews. the rigging for a hammock.
5.
Theater a metal device holding scenery lines controlled byone weighted line.
• • •
Hello everyone! This is us:


The two supercool kids in that picture up there! You know Caleb Madison because he's had like a million amazing puzzles in so many publications He can't even remember them all. And you WILL know his BFF Alex Blum because he WILL have a million puzzles that'll be okay somewhere. Just kidding. He has already had a puzzle accepted to Ben Tausig's 20 Under 30 Contest. We are both in Yale's most crosswordy improv group, The Viola Question

But enough about us. On to the puzzle! We're young folk, so this puzzle was a bit of a struggle for us. We assume that our word of the day CLEW is referring to an archaic form of the word "clue"... but who knows? Perhaps Miss Marple is a closeted sailing enthusiast? Either way, Alex put it in not quite believing it was right. Caleb put it in because he knows there's no such thing as a DUNT... yet. Also, CONJ. (7-D: "And" or "or": Abbr.) isn't our favorite and CADENT (5d: Rhythmic), while accurate, isn't particularly familiar. A version of that section with more proper nouns and fewer unsavory entries would look something like this:



That said, it's really hard to construct a puzzle with four 13-letter entries, because you need to put those big ugly blocks around two of them. This leads to less-than-ideal grids that force solvers through the middle (in this case, the only connection between the top and bottom halves is that cross of EMPTY (29d: Evacuate) and HYPER (35a: Overexcited). Nevertheless, the fill had some bright spots.

SHAKES (9d: Drinks with straws), for instance, got us really excited because a Shake Shack just opened in New Haven and we've been there more often than we'd like to admit.





                                                     [A window into our futures.]


Theme answers:
  • 20a: On the front (ANDREW JACKSON) - yes, yes it is.
  • 27a: On the back (THE WHITE HOUSE) - well spotted.
  • 43a: On both sides (TWENTY DOLLARS) - true fact.
  • 51a: 20-, 27- and 43-Across locale, slangily (DOUBLE SAWBUCK) - ...................................................................................................................

Not the slang we use. We just call it a twenty.

Bullets:
  • 38d: Establishment that might sell 9-Down and 53-Downs (SNACK BAR) — We've never been to a snack bar, but it sounds fun! And we liked the cross-referencing and the consonant cluster (c.f. WIDTHS (14d: C, D and EEE)
  • 23d: White dwarf, e.g. (STAR) — Alex is taking an Astronomy class called Life in the Universe so this was right up his alley. Shout out to Debra Fischer.
  • 62a: The thought that counts? (IDEA) — We see where the clue is coming from, but it seems a tad forced. However the clue for EMPTY (29d: Evacuate) was super tricky. Total aha moment after staring at E ____ for a bit.
  • 44d: Not stable (WOBBLY) — what a fun word! And a potentially misleading clue! We kept thinking INSANE, VOLATILE... or BARN. This song Caleb likes has WOBBLY in it [caution: NSFW]:

Thanks for letting us do this. We can't wait for our fearless harsh dictatorial despot to return.

Signed, Caleb Madison and Alex Blum, SLOBs (9a: Neatnik's opposite) of the CrossWorld

P.S. If any readers are in the New Haven area, they should come to the Viola Question's Parents' Weekend Show this Saturday, October 13th, in the Davenport Common Room at 8pm!

74 comments:

dmw 12:24 AM  

Pretty easy for Tuesday. Never had a Moose Drool (fortunately) so had to guess at the MOLL/ALES crossing. And CLEW, next to CADENT? Ugly.

Evan 12:48 AM  

This theme just didn't do it for me. Yeah, it was a little amusing to solve each side of the $20, but the theme revealer was not for us young 'uns, I don't think. I ain't never heard of DOUBLE SAWBUCK as slang for a $20, either. According to Wiki, which cites a book called Who Put the Butter in Butterfly? on this:

"The twenty-dollar bill in the past was referred to as a 'double-sawbuck' because it is twice the value of a ten-dollar bill, which was nicknamed a 'sawbuck' due to the resemblance the Roman numeral for ten (X) bears to the legs of a sawbuck, although this usage had largely fallen out of favor by the 1980s."

Make of that what you will, but it seems pretty outdated as the key for a puzzle in 2012.

And completely agreed with Caleb and Alex on that ugly northern section. Theirs is much better. DENT crossing CADENT? Meh. I'll take a couple of extra proper nouns over the triple-C triforce of CADENT/CLEW/CONJ any day, to say nothing of the old-school triple-C CCCP crossing each of them. Anyone who hasn't heard of those old initials for the Soviet Union will likely get pretty stumped up there.

jae 1:08 AM  

Clever and smooth!  I liked the way the theme emerged from the crosses. Just  about right for a Tues.  Medium for me.  My only problem was in the north center where I had to erase ussr and CLue.   Apparently, I had some company there (nice write guys, although you lost me a little with the technical stuff in the middle).  Nice one Mr. Guzzetta. 

WOE: ROSE of Sharon.

Aura Cadent Maoris 1:49 AM  

I have nothing to say that the boys didn't say in a more concise and amusing way.
CLEW MEWL were a little crazy and practically anagrams.

@Evan
I guarantee you noone has said DOUBLESAWBUCK since TRUMAN. But at least it was a slangy fun phrase and not as bland as just listing elements, which is what the other theme answers were.

Weirdo CLEW for ASIA, I must say. A fill inthe blank and a WSJ ref??!

CCCP is extra tricky, because those are Russian initials, which are sort of transliterations on top of it, no?
(in other words, annoyed I had to erase USSR!)

After Patrick Blindauer's brilliant visual dollar bill puzzle a few years ago, this one almost seemed a step backwards in some way , but gotta love iguana's DEWLAP!

I also loved WOBBLY SHAKES and SLEUTH.

retired_chemist 1:53 AM  

CCCP always bothers me since these are Cyrillic characters. The CLEW wants SSSR or USSR IMO. Also preferred Caleb and Alex's version of Minnesota.

Agree that the theme is underwhelming, but an enjoyable Tuesday exercise nonetheless. Nothing standout, although the iguana's DEWLAP was pretty cool.

chefwen 2:25 AM  

I had DENT in/out/in because of the crazy CLEW/clue.

I was describing our new renter as Felix Unger vs. our old renter who was an Oscar Madison type 9A, the kid had no idea what I was talking about. I have a hard time relating to someone who was born in the 90's. I'll have to get the movie for him.

Super easy for me, easier than yesterdays.

Anonymous 5:07 AM  

If monday's (super awesome) puzzle was harder for you than today's then I'll say you're probably over 40.

If today's was a slog just to fill in with no particular enjoyment compared to yesterday than you're probably under 40.

loren muse smith 5:37 AM  

LASSIE, TRUMAN, SLEUTH. . .Being *way* over TWENTY, I blue threw ;-) this one pretty fast. I thought I hadn’t finished because my big WOE was CLEW. And CRUE so close! Kind of funny, no?

I agree with our bubbly writer-uppers (great job!) – WOBBLY is just a great word. I like MEWL, too, but I always spelled it “muel.” Yeah, yeah enough on that.

Agree with Andrea – odd clew for ASIA but gettable enough.

PSST - FLOATERS in between two bodies of water. . . what in TARNation?! (Definition of “reintarnation” – being reborn as an, um, Appalachian American.)

I wish I had a RASPy voice.

Nice puzzle, John. ROI ROI!!

Jeremy Mercer 6:32 AM  

Any Agatha Christie readers out there? Does she actually use the CLEW spelling in the Marple novels and short stories? I am assuming this must be the case, but the first 20 or so hits on Google for 'clew and Miss Marple' all refer to crossword puzzles ...

Matty 6:47 AM  

Being a young(ish) solver myself, "sawbuck" probably would not be a familiar term, were I not also a Seinfeld enthusiast. In the Festivus episode, Elaine bets a "sawbuck on Captain Nemo in the third at Belmont." Had to look it up, and I've remembered it ever since.

Z 7:15 AM  

Most has already been said. CCCP is just wrong, CLEW is iffy at best, CADENT/DENT seems like a no-no. Like the kids, EM--- crossing ---ER wasn't doing much for me. It took HEN to HYPER to EMPTY to get across the Mason Dixon Line and unite the north and the south.

I'm way over TWENTY, and pretty far over forty, and SAWBUCK was archaic when I was a kid, as was "fin" for a $5 bill. C-note, Benjamin, Jackson, dime, dead presidents - these are the slangy phrases for money I've heard.

Milford 7:20 AM  

The Agatha Christie's I've read were Poirot, so I have no clue about CLEW. I'd love to know if anyone didn't put in ussr before CCCP.

Not sure why the young/old divide is chosen as 40, but as one who is barely on the "old" side, I found this slightly more difficult than Monday, just as it should be.

Never heard of DOULE SAWBUCK. But I knew what a single one was, so easy enough to figure out. The only slang for a $20 bill I've heard is "yuppie food stamp".

I liked WOBBLY and DEWLAP, and the clues for IN-LAW and ALE. FLOATERS (to me) sound more like the people who fell off the raft and drowned.

Really wish my crossword app let me enter CRÜE properly.

Thank you, Caleb and Alex!

Aleman 7:30 AM  

Moose Drool was used in the 11/27/10 puzzle.

John V 7:34 AM  

Tricksy fill, meh theme. Blah morning at LGA C38.

John V 7:42 AM  

Do I count right? 44 blanks?

DaveS 7:43 AM  

Clew has a second meaning: a ball of thread, yarn, or cord which goes with Miss Marple since she knits,IIRC.

dk 7:50 AM  

Wanted dead presidents for 51a.

Country club where the young dk hung out had a SNACKBAR with a Juke Box that played 45 RPM records recorded by the likes of Booker T and the MGs (Green Onions).

The secret underlying Cocaine them of this puzzle is disturbing. Fill like WHITEHOUSE, SINUS, HYPER, SHAKES and DENT (slang term for what a snort of coke up a TWENTY puts in your head) do not make it past this Officer of the Court.

I got your number Guzzetta.

Oddly entertaining Tuesday puzzle. I have even seen CLEW in a sentence.

����(2 CLEW finders)

Rob C 8:10 AM  

@dk
...and now we have your number

The Bard 8:18 AM  

Othello > Act V, scene II

OTHELLO: I kiss'd thee ere I kill'd thee: no way but this;
Killing myself, to die upon a kiss.

[Falls on the bed, and dies]

CASSIO: This did I fear, but thought he had no weapon;
For he was great of heart.

LODOVICO: [To IAGO] O Spartan dog,
More fell than anguish, hunger, or the sea!
Look on the tragic loading of this bed;
This is thy work: the object poisons sight;
Let it be hid. Gratiano, keep the house,
And seize upon the fortunes of the Moor,
For they succeed on you. To you, lord governor,
Remains the censure of this hellish villain;
The time, the place, the torture: O, enforce it!
Myself will straight aboard: and to the state
This heavy act with heavy heart relate.

[Exeunt]

Glimmerglass 8:20 AM  

I liked the symmetrical switch in CLEW (unexpected British spelling) and Motley CRUE (ridiculous spelling). I myself used the phrase DOUBLE SAWBUCK just the other day -- but of course, I'm older than dirt. Mostly easy puzzle, with just a few little zingers. Appropriate for a Tuesday.

Susan McConnell 8:22 AM  

CLEW, MEWL, anDREWjackson, THEWhitehouse...for a while there I thought there might be more to this. It was fun for a TEWsday.

Susan McConnell 8:24 AM  

Add DEWlap to my list....

WA 8:26 AM  

Not many people know this, but Miss Marple was in a band called Motley Clews.

It was an easy puzzle but he did he put a theme clew on 20 across.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

Finally, an answer to the age-old question "Is that a rod in your hand or are you just happy to see me?"

jackj 8:45 AM  

Part of the fun in solving John Guzzetta’s maiden puzzle for the Times comes by not looking for the reveal when the confounding “On the front” appears as the first theme clue.

Curiousity will kill the cat and here it will also sap the fun from a clever scheme that seems to defy logic, even as the theme entries become eminently solvable. It’s John’s “What the…….?” puzzle and a nice surprise awaits on this usually disappointing puzzle day.

Along with the clever theme, (all you wanted to know about a DOUBLESAWBUCK but were afraid to ask), there was also a surfeit of fill guaranteed to please the most demanding solver as CADENT, DEWLAP, TARN, SLEUTH and CLEW made things much knottier than expected.

Then, there was also a sub-theme of sorts as Chez Guzzetta showed it had a beer and wine license to go with its common victualler status and made SODA, SHAKES and ALES, (“Naughty Goose and Moose Drool” only), available at its SNACKBAR at a cost of only TWENTYDOLLARS a head.

Lastly, a note to the constructor, FLOATERS aren’t paddlers shooting whitewater rapids, they are those little black spots that maddeningly flit around in one’s vitreous humor, looking like the 1,000,000 or so bats that shoot out from under Austin, TX, Congress Bridge as they go hunting FLIES in the summer.

Kudos, John, this was a lot of fun. Congrats on a successful debut!

Milford 8:48 AM  

Wait a minute. Are the young ones from Yale packing heat? Maybe it's a CLEW.

joho 8:52 AM  

I was kind of fascinated by the fact the John Guzzetta could make a theme out of staring at a twenty. I've never heard of a DOUBLESAWBUCK either but it wasn't too hard to figure out.

Like @Aura Cadent Maoris and others I loved DEWLAP. I did not know that as an Iguana feature. Fun fact.

@WA, Motley CLEW ... good one!

Fantastic write-up Caleb and Alex!

Old Guy 9:02 AM  

CCCP is far less a random series of letters if you're of an age where the Soviet Union competed in the Olympics with CCCP emblazoned on the backs of each and every one of their uniforms.

jberg 9:04 AM  

I thought CLEW was just the British spelling -- therefore used by the British tec Jane Marple. I could be wrong, though. And all the Christie novels I've read were US editions, with the spelling adapted to the market.

On the other hand, even Archie Goodwin (to cite another SLEUTH) never said DOUBLE SAWBUCK, as far as I can remember. Sawbuck, yes; finif, yes - but DOUBLE SAWBUCK? I really don't think so.

Ideally, this should have been a Thursday, and the CCCP should have been used as SSSR in the down answers, with the same phenomenon repeated in a couple of other places. It might be hard to find an English word with SHCH, though.

I'm with the over-15 (no, no, not 'over-the-hill') set who found this one easy.

orangeblossomspecial 9:15 AM  

In the old days, 38D was a malt shop rather than a SNACK BAR.

chefbea 9:39 AM  

Fairly easy for a Tuesday. Couldn't spell HARE...had
Hari. Wanted pasta for macaroni...but then it all got straightened out.

Great debut puzzle and great writ up

Notsofast 9:43 AM  

A fun and well-crafted puzzle. Good job, John. But a "clew" is something Inspector Clouseau would find. Not Miss Marple.

quilter1 10:11 AM  

I thought the use of Miss Marple in the CLEW was to direct us to the British spelling. I hope John weighs in today. I've read all of Christie and have seen CLEW before so this didn't throw me. Rated it easy and I liked it. Along with others, DEWLAP was my favorite.

jae 10:33 AM  

@chefbea -- me to for both HARi and pasta.

Matthew G. 10:47 AM  

I had my worst Tuesday time in many months. CLEW? SAWBUCK? And lots of very opaque clues for common words. I felt like I needed a fedora hat and a gin & tonic at hand to get through this puzzle.

Other than CLEW, though--which is just horrible--none of it was bad, just out of my wheelhouse.

@Milford: I correctly guessed CCCP on the first try, but only because I'd already guessed CLue crossing it. As a former Russian student, the clue makes me vaguely uncomfortable, since those "C"s are really "S"es, and the "P" is an R ... but the clue (clew?) does get you to the right answer.

New crossword term: CLEW -- an approximately correct clue that also suffers from a glaring weakness. E.g., pretending that the Roman letters CCCP are equivalent to their Cyrillic lookalikes. The words "wade in" often appear in clews.

Carola 11:09 AM  

Liked it! Not knowing CADENT and having CLue kept me from seeing ANDREW JACKSON for quite a while, so the theme remained a mystery. Meanwhile I enjoyed SLEUTHing around in the non-theme areas and encountering LASSIE, TRUMAN, a MOLL, a WOOBLY DEWLAP and a MEWLing CAT.

@Jae - My childhood years of Bible reading made ROSE of Sharon a gimme: from the Song of Solomon: "I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys." Also, in Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, Rose of Sharon is the Joad's daughter.

@loren - Yew always make me laugh!

@Evan, thanks for the SAWBUCK derivation. That "X" shape will help me remember it.

@milford - A qualified yes on CCCP - I verified the crossing CONJ and PETA before i wrote it in. Interesting to hear the input of the Russian speakers on this.

@Caleb and Alex - In the ye olde days when I was in college, we hung out at the SNACK BAR, in slang "the snackie." Really enjoyed your write-up - thanks!


Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Took me twice as long to solve this as yesterday's puzzle.

@milford: a $20 is a yuppie food stamp? Too funny!

@john v: are you a pilot?

John V 11:43 AM  

@anonymous 11:25. Not a pilot, but commute LaGuardia to Charlotte every week.

Masked and Anonymo6Us 12:10 PM  

Cool debut puz. Six U's. thUmbsUp to new blood with good taste in vowel selection.

Must be tough bein' a constructor, and reviewing another constructor's work. Tempting to rewrite sections of the puz, evidently. Rule #1 on that: If you hafta offer a rewrite in the write-up (!), put some U's in that puppy.

Like this, maybe?...
APSO
CRUS
COBS
EWJA
N***
T
I mean, I know I suck at this, but that's just a quickie example, for the Viola Question set's benefit, since they are constructors. Which brings up rule #2: never do the Heimlich maneuver on a dude who's holdin' a gun.

Lewis 12:42 PM  

@chefbea -- was it the puzzle or the macaroni that got straightened out?

I have never said 'double sawbuck' in my over-40 life.

Lewis 12:44 PM  

p.s. -- what's the clue for EWJA?

Lewis 12:45 PM  

oops - figured it out. Three and out.

mac 12:47 PM  

Good debut! Had clue before clew, but it looked familiar. I must have read all AC's book and I've seen quite a few incarnations of Ms. Marple. Margaret Rutherford!!

Nice little bit on the other meaning of clew. Sounds like the Dutch word kluwen, a skein of yarn.

Noam D. Elkies 12:52 PM  

Why Viola Question? Is one (or more) of you a violist? Will you tell viola jokes? Or did I just violate an unwritten rule?

NDE

syndy 1:16 PM  

I had a whole lotta writeovers and miss spellings for a tuesday! PASTA! HARi! USSR!(but @Milford, if it looks THAT much like a duck and Quack?)SAnta! I liked CADENT,present participle it works for me.Nice write up young Elis! when is the old slacker coming back?

Bird 1:53 PM  

This was a difficult Tuesday, for me anyway, but still a good puzzle. Never heard of DOUBLE SAWBUCK, but I guess it’s legit.

I did not like FLOATERS as I hope that people shooting down whitewater rapids in RAFTS are doing more than going along for the ride. They better be paddling in order to maintain control of the vessel.

CLEW was a big WTF for me. I kept staring and checking the crosses.

WOBBLY was good.

PASTA before TUBES and PRAM before DRAY.

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

On the whole, this one didn't thrill me, but I do (somewhat)admire a puzzle that uses exactly reverse spellings of "clue" (British spelling "clew") and "crew" ('80s hair metal band Motley spelling it "crue"). To have this in the same puzzle was, to my mind, rather clever and witty. Otherwise, not thrilled with this at all, especially "cadent."

Texas Momma 2:03 PM  

19A Wall Street Journal: ASIA

Seriously??? Wall Street Journal is a Tuesday clew for ASIA?

retired_chemist 2:52 PM  

@ jackj -


Had the same thought re FLOATERS. I bet the bloggers and their contemporaries had never heard of those. Mine seem to have settled down somehow - I seem to have many fewer than I did 10 years ago.

acme 2:53 PM  

@texas momma
I know...but it was a fill in the blank clue...awkward, imho. not that Wall St Journal per se was the clue. It is referring to their ASIA edition, but that's crazy. You'd have to be in HOng Kong or somewhere AND subscribe etc. but maybe it had some secret connection to the constructor? who knows?

@John V
yes, 44 black squares, still the outer most limit...would be ok, but if it's that noticeable, maybe not great. But with 4 13s what are you gonna do?
There were two "cheater" squares (hate that term)
he could have made SLEUTHS and rewritten the bottem with STRAY, but that would have wreaked havoc up top with WIDTHS, etc.

By the way, I'll be in New orleans Oct 10-16 for the film festival. Anyone on this blog live down there and want to meet for a beignet?
(Pls write to me off blog...my name as one word . before the m@gmail)

Anonymous 2:55 PM  


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retired_chemist 3:17 PM  

Thanks, Anon 2:55. I expect you and your ilk have now made our captchas impossibly hard again.

jae 3:29 PM  

@Carola -- Thanks for the info. I somehow never got around to reading Grapes.

sanfranman59 3:58 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 8:51, 8:57, 0.99, 54%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:22, 4:40, 1.15, 88%, Challenging

2nd Grade English Teacher 4:10 PM  

@Anon 2:55 - Is English your second (or third) language?

jackj 4:14 PM  

retired_chemist wrote-

"I seem to have many fewer than I did 10 years ago."

Thankfully, same here!

Tita 4:55 PM  

@glimmer - thanks re: symmetry in -EW -UE.

@mac - loved learning why CLEW means skein of yarn...thx

Starting my third week in Latina, 45 minutes south of Rome. Have done only about 3 puzzles since getting here. I suppose that touring the endless historyartculturearchitecturefoodwine, and all that as secondary to the fascinating new venture, does in fact take priority, but this was a fun puzzle to jump back in with. Thanks Mr, Guzetta!

BTW,
@Rex - do you know that blogger kept forcing me to rexwordpuzzle.blogspot.it??? I finally had to set up a vpn to fool the Googlers into thinking that I was back in the USSA.
Are there many crossword pirates waiting to steal your precious content and broadcasting it over the peninsula?

John in Philly 5:20 PM  

Puzzle annoyed me. Now I'm supposed to known Russian language acronyms CCCP? And archaic Clew with no indication of var.? And dewlap? Missed that lesson in elementary school.... Yes, DNF with sour grapes ....

loren muse smith 5:42 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
loren muse smith 5:45 PM  

@Milford – yeah, but do you like a WOBBLY DEWLAP?! I do, but I just can’t eat a whole one by myself.

@Susan McConnell – all the EWs.! Tew funny!

@WA – loved your Miss Marple’s being in the Motley Clews.

@jackj and retired_chemist – count me in the FLOATERS-in-the-eyes club. Bugs me to death.

@Tita – Great to hear from you! Eat a gelato for me!!

Sparky 6:10 PM  

For what it's worth, perhaps John Guzzetta was going for the knitting meaning of CLEW since that is particularly something Miss Marple does all through the books.

I threw in USSR, STAT and pasta on first pass as I was doing the acrosses. Each one fixed with downs; PETA for example.

My grandfather. Patrick, was a DRAYman for AbrAham & Strauss Dept. Store in Brooklyn. It says so in the 1920 census. My parents were born in the 19th Century. Holy skit, I really am a dinosaur.

Stephen 7:39 PM  

Gotta bitch about CLEW, even though many others have already covered the territory. Spelling is a convention, and it is sometimes hard to establish widespread conventions, and it behooves us all to try to do so. Crossword constructors presumably love language and for sure love that language is so rife with stable conventions; they should not be breaking convention by using spellings that have finally been purged. Aaarrrrrrgh!

sanfranman59 9:21 PM  

I confess that I've not read through all of today's comments and perhaps this has been beaten to death by now, but there's nothing wrong with CLEW as clued. One of Jane Marple's pastimes is knitting (as is gardening). A ball or skein of yarn is a CLEW. We can argue about whether that clue and answer combination are at the Tuesday level of difficulty, but IMHO, this is not a mis-/alternate/unconventional/British spelling issue.

Bob Snead 9:38 PM  

It's hard for me to think of SHAKES as drinks. To me, if a shake is a drink, then so is a bowl of tomato soup or a bottle of ranch dressing. They're just liquid-y foods.

retired_chemist 10:27 PM  

@ Bob Snead - I think you are in the minority re SHAKES. if it's served in a glass and sipped through a straw, it's a drink.

Stephen 11:54 PM  

Here is a lesser whinge: a RASP is defined in wikipedia as "a tool used for shaping wood or other material". It goes on to list a few examples of other materials, but never mentions metal. Generally, rasps are a lot coarser than files, and thus cannot make much useful progress in attacking hard metallic materials. Metals need tools that make much smaller cuts -- hence the separate word "file" for them.

sanfranman59 12:07 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 6:08, 6:47, 0.90, 14%, Easy
Tue 8:57, 8:57, 1.00, 58%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:39, 3:41, 0.99, 49%, Medium
Tue 5:13, 4:40, 1.12, 84%, Challenging

NM Robin 10:03 AM  

I found this puzzle to be a medium. I'm at least three times the ages of Caleb and Alex and have never heard of DOUBLE SAWBUCK.

@Orange - I agree on the Malt Shop. Used to stop by on my way home from school.

@Retired_chemist: Floaters. I have one large one that looks like a dragon fly with wings and all. Problem is that it is in my right eye - the one I use for far vision. Bummer.

Had PASTA but changed immediately because of STY.

Good honest puzzle Mr. Guzzetta.

Spacecraft 11:52 AM  

Welcome to the fray, John Guzzetta! And may you come back often!

I do not understand the detractors of this gem. The cluing was a bit off-center, even from what we're used to.

____of Sharon-->ROSE
Evacuate-->EMPTY
Readied tp play-->CUED

These are a few. Not obscure (well, those ALES are not widely popular!) or by any means unfair, just...off center. Compassion is a wonderful definition for HEART--I'm just not used to seeing it clued like that. It's a fresh approach, and anything fresh: me likee!

The theme was well enough disguised that I had to do a little work first. Admittedly, when the aha! moment came, all those theme squares filled themselves, YET ("for the present:" what a great off-center clue!) it wasn't readily apparent from the get-go.

Absent the unavoidable PSST, the fill here is pretty solid. I guess a better puzzle could be made, but it would be a challenge for even the veteran gridmaker. For a rookie: dude, you hit it out of the park! Let's have MORE!

DMGrandma 3:46 PM  

I always page through the Captcha list before I start commenting. Today it took about 20 tries to find one where the numbers were clear enough to see. What gives?

As for the puzzle, a neat Tuesday. I had to replace Sewer with SINUS and pasta with TUBES. Fortunately ALES filled itself. Moose Drool??? As for CLEW, I've read tons of Christie, and while I can't remember it ever appearing there, I just took it as looking for an English spelling. As for the CCCP, part of the solution to Murder on the Orient Express involved Poirot realizing that the C on the Countesses handkerchief was really a Cyrllic initial. so it ties in!

Rats, I didn't pass the Captcha after all! One more try.

Dirigonzo 4:53 PM  

I did both Mohday and Tuesday puzzles after work today (with a short nap in between) - my Monday grid is nearly pristine, Tuesday's is a mess by comparison with the same write-overs as most others. For some reason I saw the theme early-on and DOUBLESAWBUCK is a familiar term (I have no idea why) so the long answers went in easily. TARN was new and needed all the crosses and maybe I've seen MEWL before but it's another word I got only from x-words.

@DMGrandma - If your sewer is a common blockage locale, you need to call a plumber!

@NM Robin - nice to see you back!

rain forest 6:55 PM  

I'm with @Spacecraft on this one, finding it just a little delightfully different in the clewing and some of the answers. I saw quickly that any -SSR wasn't going to work, and put in CCCP immediately. American money is not in my bailiwick, but I've heard the term "double sawbuck". The theme was, again, different and fun to work out.

Ginger 7:22 PM  

Started in the NW and worked across and down, and with lots of blanks, thought 'there's somethin' funny goin' on'. Took a pause at 27A to re-assess. AHHH

I wish every Tuesday was this much fun. Crunchy...I envision an iguana staring out with his DEWLAPs WOBBLEing in the air.

Shooting whitewater rapids in a RAFT is exhilarating, but you do look forward to the quiet stretches of water where you can just float for a while.

Thanks to the Viola Question (a violin on steroids?) for the write-up, and Thanks to John Guzzetta for a real Tuesday Gem.

DMG 7:53 PM  

@Diri.Thanks for the tip, but., but there are no sewers at my house. Learned about blockage from my daughter whose lines were blocked by tree roots and took days to open again. What we have is a man who, smoking, for obvious reason, a huge smelly cigar, pumps out our accumulated gunk every couple of years. When that (septic) system backs up, it's head for the hills.

Failed the Captcha again. I'm close to giving up on them!

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