Honshu city devastated by 2011 tsunami / SUN 11-18-12 / Summer ermine / Tentacled Spider-Man meanie / Department north of Paris / Deposer of Milton Obote / Late comic Richard / Stripped-down laptop / Canonized Norwegian king / Moniker for Netanyahu / Subject of 1982 best seller on sexuality

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Medium



THEME: "Star-Crossed Lovers" — theme answers are "famous" couples from the movies. Each character name in the couple is "crossed" by the "star" that played him/her. ("Famous" is in quotation marks because CECILIA AND ROBBIE are not famous)

Word of the Day: OLIN (113A: Ammunition giant) —
The Olin Corporation is a major manufacturer of ammunition (through Winchester Ammunition) and chlorine and sodium hydroxide (Olin Chlor-Alkali Products). Based in Clayton, Missouri, it traces its history to two companies, both founded in 1892: Franklin W. Olin's Equitable Powder Company ofEast Alton, Illinois and the Mathieson Alkali Works of Saltville, Virginia into which Olin merged, although keeping the Olin name first. After being headquartered for many years in Stamford, CT, it is now headquartered in Clayton, Missouri. (wikipedia)
• • •

If aptness of title were the sole criterion of puzzle greatness, I'd give this five stars. In fact, the puzzle Must have been built around that phrase. It's a decent idea for a puzzle, but the problem here is that the answers are either too obvious (legendary movie couples like ILSA AND RICK, SCARLET AND RHETT) or they are CECILIA AND ROBBIE, which belongs in this puzzle about as much as giraffe belongs in an aquarium. Who? Who? Four legendary film couples and ... two people I've never heard of (No, I haven't read "Atonement" ... I read "On Chesil Beach," mostly because it was short, and I liked that, but that's all the McEwan I've read) (And I didn't even know there *was* a movie version of "Atonement") (And I have no idea who JAMES McAvoy is). The severe outlier status of that answer is a massive distraction. Also made that NE corner very interesting ... much tougher than any other part of the grid (CRIB SHEET, HOOKAH, and DRAKE'S all took a while to turn up) (10D: Pony + 33A: Kind of bar + 21D: Coffee Cakes maker). There are a couple of obnoxious, fake past participles in here (BERRIED? TSKED?), but the rest is at least solid and occasionally exciting (SMART ASS! DOC OCK! MOB BOSS! GET THIS!).


If you want to amuse yourself, just re-parse DOCOCK (55D: Tentacled "Spider-Man" meanie). And you thought G-SPOT was edgy ... (99D: Subject of a 1982 best seller on sexuality)

Theme answers:
  • 3D: "Doctor Zhivago" (LARA AND YURI) — YURI definitely slipped my mind.
  • 24A: "Atonement"(CECILIA AND ROBBIE)


  • 64A: "Casablanca" (ILSA AND RICK)
  • 67D: "Titanic" (ROSE AND JACK)
  • 105A: "Gone With the Wind" (SCARLETT AND RHETT)
There was some interesting cluing for otherwise familiar fill today. Love the clue on IDI / AMIN (when's the last time anyone said that?) (69A: With 8-Down, deposer of Milton Obote), and if you're going to use KREME, this clue does very nicely (16A: Doughnut ingredient, commercially). Also, while NUS isn't great fill, the toughish clue made it at least mildly interesting (112D: Lowercase letters resembling v's). In the unfamiliar fill department, there's SENDAI (35A: Honshu city devastated by the 2011 tsunami). Seems like a stretch that anyone would know that. Weren't lots of cities similarly devastated? I can see how an -AI-ending city would be very valuable to a constructor, but this one seems a stretch.

Bullets:
  • 14A: John O'Hara's "Appointment in ___" ("SAMARRA") — nearly bought a copy of this today in Ithaca. Pulled a lot of vintage paperbacks out of that bookshop, but ended up leaving O'Hara behind.
  • 79A: Canonized Norwegian king (ST. OLAV) — had the "V" and figured it was somebody the IVth or Vth. 
  • 108A: Late comic Richard (JENI) — I don't think I knew he was "late." Haven't seen his name in the grid for a while.
  • 110A: Stripped-down laptop (NETBOOK) — nice, modern answer. See also TTYL (106D: Texter's "ciao").
  • 7D: Vindictive one, in myth (HERA) — seems like it could've been any number of people "in myth" ... and yet I knew exactly who the clue meant.
  • 34D: Department north of Paris (OISE) — Ugh, French department clues ... I had ORNE here at first.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

66 comments:

Gill I. P. 12:21 AM  

Well, I thought this was fun. Just the way a Sunday should be.
I've seen all five of the theme movies - some of them more than once. I saw Dr. Zhivago in Spain and it was one of the first films that hadn't been dubbed. I was in heaven because I couldn't imagine YURI (AKA, the man of my dreams) saying anything but in English..."Tonya! can you play the balalaika?"
And then there's Ian McEwan, Atonement..."Falling in love could be achieved in a single word....a glance." Pass the HOOKAH, Rhett!
And, GET THIS, it is my TACIT opinion that G SPOT has nothing to do with TITS (Hi @Z)
And so, since I'm BERRIED in the SAUCIER, I shall take this opportunity to bid all TTYL.
Good job Timothy Polin.

Emily Litella 12:27 AM  

So, I was a little abashed at 53D - SMARTASS, but I held off on my angry letter to Mr Shortz. I then got to 55D and was outraged that DRCOCK would ever appear in the NYTimes puzzle, and off went the outraged e-Mail.

Now that I see your grid, and that maybe RSX isn't an operating system, I feel slightly foolish.

Never mind.

jae 12:54 AM  

Easy fun Sun.  I took my time but never had to stop.  Lots of names, but, as Rex politely pointed out, with the exception of "Atonement", these are all iconic movies, so no WOEs or Naticks.  Nice one Tim Polin!

Anonymous 1:29 AM  

@Emily - So, DO COCK is preferable?

Michaela 2:39 AM  

To say nothing of GSPOT crossed with TITS.

Evan 2:40 AM  

@Emily:

What, no angry letter about TITS crossing G-SPOT? Those are star-crossed lovers if ever I saw them. They didn't even have to DO COCK.

@Z:

Sorry if I stole your TIT-related thunder for the second straight day.

paulsfo 3:03 AM  

I agree about the too-obvious theme answers, especially because each one was *three* obvious answers.
I've never heard of (intentionally) taking a SLED over a jump, and never heard of a CRIBSHEET being called a pony.
Thought it was too easy to be much fun (though I still had a few errors; go figure).

Arras Coterie Mobboss 3:06 AM  

Side note to @Rex not having seen Richard JENI in a while...Richard Jeni was a funny, complicated guy who sadly killed himself in 2007. He was bigger in the late 80s, around the time I was performing. I would think save for the spelling of his last name he might be a bit obscure for the puzzle. If I saw just "Comedian Richard" I would think LEWIS or PRYOR. I'm surprised there wasn't some more info like "Platypus Man" or
The Mask" actor...some sort of credit, otherwise that is asking a lot.

Anyway, he died same year that James McAvoy was in "Atonement"...so maybe 2007 you were just gone!
AND McAVoy played IDI AMIN's doctor in "The Last King of Scotland", so you see, it all ties together!

But I agree, re: "Atonement"...despite having read the book AND seen the film, I'd never have been able to come up with Cecilia and Robbie. If forced, I'd have guessed they were the couple in "Twilight".
Must have been a numbers matching thing.

connie in seattle 3:08 AM  

I lost the link to the crossword tournament in Seattle this afternoon at Barnes & Noble; does anyone know if that is still happening?

Evan 3:09 AM  

And then @Michaela stole my thunder by one minute. CURSES!

Joking aside, I can appreciate the novelty of the theme -- it certainly couldn't have been easy to come up with famous movie couples and then find space to cross them with the first names of the man and woman in each one. But there's a little too much in the way of fill I'd rather not see: SAMARRA, PSS, YOND (more common as "yon," I think), RHUM, ELOI, YECH, I LOSE (no one says it in the present tense), SEATERS (hate those [verb + ER] = One who [verb]s answers), DTEN, BERRIED, TSKED, partials IN A and A DEEP, ARRAS, IRRS, OISE, CREEL, ERTES, STOAT, TRS, and NUS.

I'm surprised the NYT went with the ARIA/JANE ROE cross instead of ADIA/JANE DOE. I usually expect them to pick the letter with the highest Scrabble score in a legit crossing. In fact, I almost went with the D myself because Jane Doe is the obvious anonymous female name -- I just didn't think that Dame Joan Sutherland (whoever she is) was all that famous for doing a cover of a Sarah McLachlan song.

At first I didn't realize that all of the theme answers were structured as ladies-first, so when I made an initial mistake with VIVIaN at 80-Down, I threw in RHETT AND SCARLETT. The Double T's on both of their names made it really tricky to see that I screwed the order up, but getting ELECTRONS helped me sort it out. There has to be a malapop-like term for the rare instance when you have the right answer for an "X AND Y" entry but you fill it in as "Y AND X." Going cross-eyed?

Doris 5:45 AM  

@Evan—I guess the roof has fallen in when someone hasn't ever heard of Dame Joan Sutherland. She wasn't THAT long ago! Look her up (and listen) on YouTube, or whatever.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:24 AM  

Major meta failure for me - I filled in the grid correctly, but by jumping around so much, I never noticed that each character was crossed by the actor's name. That's the kind of thing that gets me killed doing Matt Gaffney's puzzles.

Stephanie Roy 7:26 AM  

Jane Roe? Since when is that an anonymous female? Don't understand how that isn't an error? Can someone enlighten me?
S. Roy

Stephanie Roy 7:33 AM  

Never mind. Just looked it up and enlightened myself. Sry!

Anonymous 7:36 AM  

@Stephanie Roy

Roe v Wade

Sandy

The Bard 7:47 AM  

Romeo and Juliet | Act 1, Prologue

PROLOGUE
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

Unknown 7:48 AM  

Couldn't get 5-Down, just couldn't find 99-Down and played around with 116-Down for a while [rim shot please]

Glimmerglass 8:20 AM  

As someone who has used both, I can tell you that a CRIB SHEET is not a pony. A pony is an English translation of a school text, usually published. Mine was of Cicero, and I'm still convinced that no real person can actually read Cicero. You didn't bring it to class, but you used it to shorten homework time. (Teacher, "You're riding that pony pretty hard, Mr. Glimmerglass.") A CRIB SHEET is something else entirely -- a piece of paper small enough to be concealed during a test or exam.

loren muse smith 8:26 AM  

Just off the TTYL (actually, the TT only because I thought it could be TTFN maybe), I guessed SCARLETT AND RHETT. I was kind of crestfallen, thinking the theme was just one-dimensional, listing famous couples. Then I saw the VIVIEN and CLARK crosses and loved it!! What a great title and great idea!

I think it would have been nice to have the actors’ names be the *only* names crossing the couples – LOSE OPIE, JENI, AMIN, HERA, and BIBI. But if that’s impossible, I’ll take this one anyway.

I agree that Atonement is a lot less accessible than the other movies; I have neither seen it nor read the book. Other couples that would have been more inferable for me:
Mary Jane and Peter
Bridget and Daniel

@Emily Litella - I was thrilled to see SMARTASS’ debut! I love puzzles that include in-the-language entries. I’m not one to swear a lot, but I have been known to label someone a SMARTASS and have regularly been accused of being one myself. I understand the Maplethorpian kind of problem here, though.

(I have a puzzle that will never be published because of the irreverent theme, and it has BADASS –“he does what he wants, when he wants, where he wants, why he wants, and how he wants.”)

I liked AT SEA crossing OCEANIA and DTEN under SNORE – I always thought Battleship was boring. And @Evan – I do say I LOSE – all the time- when I play chess with my daughter.

Liked the alliterative clue for TERRORS. Why is SNOOD such a YECHy looking word?

@Evan and @Michaela - don’t forget the SAUCIER HOOKAH in NYLONS BERRIED in the grid! And ERECT!

Great job, Timothy. This was good fun.

OTD 8:44 AM  

C'mon! A CRIBSHEET is a PONY? Since when? In forty years of teaching I never heard that one.

Did enjoy the puzzle. A few problems here and there. Surprised about SMARTASS and GSPOT crossing TITS.

Unknown 8:54 AM  

Did anyone else have trouble printing the puzzle from the online version? The grid is tiny, and the down clues are missing between 86 and 100, and spilled onto a second page. It printed fine before the "upgrade"!

Imfromjersey 9:10 AM  

79A - started with Olav IV, eventually got Mob Boss and stared a bit trying to decide if there was really a king named Stola V, until I realized it was St Olav.

Mohair Sam 10:07 AM  

C'mon Parker. Ceciliaandrobbie stopped this cleverly themed puzzle from being just too easy. Maybe you needed anthonyandcleopatra to slam dunk the entire grid. Atonement is a recent flik which was nominated for 7 Oscars and the couple was certainly star-crossed. And yes, McAvoy is a big enough star - he has actually starred in some of those wonderful comic book movies you reference. I have never seen or read Spiderman but am not a bit angry at the Doc Ock clue (last letter I got was the "O" in OSX).
If we're going to protest all references we haven't read or seen let's get Will to ban all Harry Potter clues (17D. Manufacturer of the silverware at Hogwarts). Puzzling will become much easier for me.

jackj 10:11 AM  

This was a pretty easy theme to decipher, the only one needing help from the crosses being “Atonement”(s) JAMES McAvoy.

For an AMPED up puzzle that featured such aggressive entries as SMARTASS and GSPOT, the constructor missed a chance to go all out and feature some truly star-crossed lovers, Ennis and Jack of Brokeback Mountain. (Of course that would have meant dropping the TITANIC mentions that include a JACK but, c’est la vie).

The fill seemed to vacillate between the good, the bad and the ugly with more falling in the latter two categories. For the good we have GETTHIS, TERRORS, TARNISH, COTERIE and CAVILS for example.

The bad weigh in as HOOKAH for “Kind of bar”, DOCOCK that is the nickname for Doctor Octopus of “Spiderman” fame (an entry that can obviously be fashioned into a Times verboten obscenity with little imagination) and ADEEP and GOMAD seem apt for this “bad” grouping as well.

The ugly are, well, ugly. SEATERS, TSKED, BERRIED, (berried, as in “we berried blueberries”? YECH!), CREEL (cluing a “Lobster trap”, a usage never before seen or used by any self-respecting Massachusetts lobsterman) and the ultra obscure “Pony” for CRIBSHEET that would be a fine mind-bender for a Saturday but doesn’t merit a place in this Sunday puzzle.

But then there is KEIRA, lighting up the screen presently as Anna Karenina, and the mere mention of the lovely Miss Knightley is enough to make this puzzle at least vaguely memorable!

Z 10:13 AM  

SCARLaTT looked less wrong to me than VIVIEN, and I never noticed AdIA, so two errors today.

The problem with solving in the morning is that much of the SAUCIER fun is already posted. @Evan - @Gill I.P. was first.

Did not know that ROBBIE the robot was in Atonement. I guess he would be the quintessential "star-crossed" lover.

Carola 10:45 AM  

Fun to remember favorite love stories and great movies on a Sunday morning. I was delighted when I realized the actors' names crossed with their roles. Nice! Was AT SEA for a while on the East Coast, with veNT instead of RANT, but finally remembered that KATE played ROSE. I thought the GET THIS x GSPOT x TITS was kind of a SMARTASS move that, for me, clashed with the starry-eyed romance of the theme.

@Glimmerglass - Thanks for the pony vs. cribsheet explanation, did not know.

@Evan - While Maria Callas was known as "La Divina," Joan Sutherland was "La Stupenda." I was lucky enough to hear her perform way back when the Metropolitan Opera toured to the Midwest - made me an opera lover forever.

DB Geezer 10:58 AM  

Could someone please translate TTYL? I assume it's an acronym for something.

quilter1 10:59 AM  

Good idea, but I didn't know the Atonement couple, nor that a CRIBSHEET can be a pony so DNF. Had fun anyway.

J. D. KaPow 11:06 AM  

Is it safe to assume that this is the first time TITS and ASS have appeared in the same NYT puzzle?

J. D. KaPow 11:09 AM  

DB Geezer: TTYL = Talk to you later.

jberg 11:15 AM  

This was a brilliant construction - two pairs of cinematic lovers, one across and one down, with each lover crossed by the first name of the star who played him or her. However, it was more fun to observe afterward than to solve, as most of the theme answers were so blindingly obvious as to make the theme irrelevant. For example, 87D, "Gable who played half of 105-Across" could have been clued as just "Gable" with little increase of difficulty. And then we have 104-A, the new record holder for most random letter number combination ever.

In other words, I didn't mind the lesser fame of ATONEMEMT - it was the only one that required a little thought to get the actors.

Troublesome writeovers here at first: Holy rolleRS before TERRORS, SAUteER before SAUCIER, EbOLa before E-COLI, sAMBa before MAMBO, aLARm before FLARE. All sorted, eventually.

So it was a little boring - but it WAS a brilliant construction.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

TTYL: Talk To You Later

JohnV 11:30 AM  

I thought this was the most boring,lame uninteresting puzzle in a very long time. I had no clue on virtually any theme answer as, for the little film I watch, I've only seen Tiatanic, and that gave me a headache. Bah.

Sandy K 11:32 AM  

Loved the theme of Star-Crossed Lovers and since I've seen all the movies, thought this would be a cinch...

But got naticked by DOCOCK and OSX! YECH!

Had Adia before ARIA- but reasoned that it must be John Doe and JANE ROE as in ROE v Wade.

Agree that CECILIA AND ROBBIE do not SOAR to the same G-SPOT (Gettable-SPOT) as the SAUCIER couples.

Thought I was COOL knowing this new Norwegian king- STOLAV, til I came here and saw AHA- forgot to parse! HUMPH!

I really enjoyed the lovers theme as well as the double-entendres, Mr. Polin!

chefbea 11:42 AM  

Thought this was a great puzzle even though I DNF. Never heard of Atonement or the people in it.

Our son-in-law is a saucier!!

Dreary day here...lots of rain.

lawprof 12:05 PM  

A bit disappointing that the original star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, did not appear in this puzzle. The 1968 movie version directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey was a more-than-creditable screen adaptation.

Immediately after I took Anne to see the movie we went to a coffee shop for dessert; I proposed, she accepted and 44 years later we're still lovers, although not star-crossed. Is that cute, or what?

Sandy K 12:18 PM  

@Carola

"I thought the GET THIS...clashed with the starry-eyed romance of the theme."

Upon re-reading, I feel that I too readily accepted those words, and now I agree with your assessment!

Too often, we hurriedly skim over comments to get to our own. But then we can miss some really thought-provoking gems.

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

Needlework for short? TAT? Why can't I figure that one out? I'm sure it will be an AHA for me once someone enlightens me!

chefbea 1:01 PM  

@anon 12:54 tattoos are done with a needle

blockhead 1:06 PM  

Liked it a lot. On the subject of theme, how about AHAS calling out to be replaced by ALAS, thereby requiring the following substitutions: KRONE/KREME, LORA/HERA, and ANIN/AMIN?

OISK 2:05 PM  

Two naticks for me. Never saw all of "Titanic," so had no idea who the characters were, and never heard of Jeni Richard. I had "Mack" and Meni. ( Should have realized that Jack and Jeni was more probable) The other one was OSX and DOCOCK. There was no way I could have guessed that one. Bad cross. That objection aside, a clever and enjoyable puzzle.

Davis 2:12 PM  

@Anon (12:54): TAT="tattoo".

I really liked seeing SMARTASS in a grid. It surprised me a little because I think of the NY Times puzzle as prudish, but given the current state of the language I have no patience for anyone who would clutch their pearls over that entry.

GSPOT was a bit more surprising, but I'm also glad that one made it in.

Overall I thought this puzzle was pretty easy, though I had a bit of a muck-up in the W, where entering MEal instead of MENU made several entries nonsensical. Aside from that, the fact that I hadn't seen most of the films in question gave me surprisingly little trouble. Though I agree 100% with Rex about CECILIA AND ROBBIE.

Anonymous 3:28 PM  

"A bit disappointing that the original star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, did not appear in this puzzle. The 1968 movie version directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey was a more-than-creditable screen adaptation."

It's pretty easy to see why that didn't happen. The clue would have been "Romeo and Juliet" and the answer would have been the same. Well, no, actually it would have been JULIETANDROMEO because in this puzzle the woman's name was always first. Still would have been a repetition of the clue.

jackj 4:24 PM  

TAT-

You can actually choose your definition as:

1)short for tattoo as noted earlier or

2)as the process of making lace, which is called tatting.

When you make lace you TAT, using a needle.

syndy 4:51 PM  

As I often BlueBERRIED summers in New England I had no problem with that! ROBBIEANDCECILIA rescued the puzzle from being way too easy !DOCOK not only looks dirty it made no earthly sense to me but it was in so whatever.SEEDPOD however lame! The puzzle was a little SAUCIER than usual but alls fair in love ain't it?

Susan McConnell 5:59 PM  

I liked this a lot. I especially loved the clue for TAT because of the two meanings. I also much prefer this clue for KREME to the much-maligned one earlier this week. I held off on DOCOCK for the longest time, parsing it correctly but just not believing it was in the NYTimes puzzle. Had to giggle when others pointed out GSPOT crossing TITS. It's amazing the amount of stuff you don't see, even though you filled it in with your own hand.

I read and saw ATONEMENT and could remember ROBBIE but couldn't call up CECILIA without crosses. I recommend the book! Ooh that little sister Briony!

LoriS 6:46 PM  

Any puzzle that has themed answers that I can fill in by just reading the clues is way too easy. Yes, the play on words in the title was clever, but again - the first names of the stars were just as obvious, and just as straightforward, as their roles. I kept solving in hopes that there would be some other trick or gimmick, but alas, no. Not my cup of tea.

Ellen S 7:03 PM  

So happy I finished this without Google or TSKing from AcrossLite. Obviously it wasn't terribly hard, but challenging enough, fun and satisfying (references to TITS, GSPOTs, etc aside).

A doctor of mine was so appalled that I had never seen "Titanic" that just to shut her up I rented the damn thing. @JohnV, I'm with you on "Titanic", though it helped fill in this puzzle, so .... worth the experience. Cheaper than my college education. As for "Zhivago", it was the first movie my father went to in 10-20 years of better use of his time. He reported, "If someone ever tells you a movie has beautiful photography, run as fast as you can the other direction." I sorta stay away from all James Cameron on that principle.

Never came closer to "Atonement" than reading the reviews -- which kept me from the movie, but eventually I got the lovers, and sort of knew who the stars were. (Mercy, I really am a snob, huh?)

I remain puzzled about taking a SLED over a jump, but heck, I grew up in Chicago, where "Suicide Hill" on the lake shore north of Belmont Harbor was about 15 feet high with barely enough angle to get a sled moving. So what do I know from sleds?

More ignorance--I was perfectly happy to believe a pony is a CRIB SHEET. Maybe that's why my grades were so mediocre -- I never got the Cliff Notes for anything. I do refer to Shrinklits reductions and Mad Magazine parodies, however. (See "sled" above.)

@chefbea and @davis, thanks for the clarification about "TAT" -- I was thinking about the lacemaking craft, which also uses needles, or can use needles, and why was that an abbreviation? I watch enough cop shows (instead of good movies) so "tattoo" should have come to mind.

cheeseguy 7:04 PM  

A safety squeeze does not always result in an RBI. It could, but the runner could stay on third (safety vs. suicide) or the runner could be thrown out. -- poorly worded clue to go along with an overall poor puzzle.

crossnoob 7:56 PM  

Not that this puzzle was perfect or something, and not that the names Cecilia and Robbie are particularly memorable in the way Rhett and Scarlett are, but you not really thinking about Atonement as a movie is sort of your own cultural failing. It was nominated for 7 oscars, one of which it won and one of which was Best Picture. It's also a beautiful book and the title of the puzzle is "star crossed lovers", not "famous star crossed lovers." Just sayin'.

Tita 9:11 PM  

SENDAI is, alas, very known...

@Emily Latella - har!

@LMS - Battleship boring? No! That kept many a CARTRIP fun - we made our own with graph paper. Kept us from hjte kinds of shenanigans you described on yours!!

@jackj - TATting is doen with a shuttle, not a needle. I was just going through some of my Mom's lace and ribbons, and she showed me again some lace that her mother had tatted - she used to do so when riding the tram in Lisbon. Having corrected you thusly, I thought that the lace TAT was the one being clued, until I came here!

Laughed at all the non-NYT style fill. Theme was clever.
Thanks Mr. Polin!

Tita 9:16 PM  

@jackj - I stand corrected - there seems to be a form of tatting that uses a needle. But clued "for short?" can only be TATtoo...

Which reminds me too... this puzzle also has TITS for TAT.

sanfranman59 10:07 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 6:17, 6:46, 0.93, 23%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:44, 8:58, 0.97, 50%, Medium
Wed 12:49, 11:49, 1.08, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 13:29, 18:47, 0.72, 7%, Easy
Fri 18:03, 24:22, 0.74, 11%, Easy
Sat 27:10, 29:03, 0.94, 36%, Easy-Medium
Sun 28:22, 32:43, 0.87, 29%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:43, 3:41, 1.01, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:06, 4:41, 1.09, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 7:01, 5:57, 1.18, 89%, Challenging
Thu 7:12, 9:23, 0.77, 17%, Medium
Fri 9:43, 12:10, 0.80, 18%, Easy
Sat 18:51, 16:31, 1.14, 81%, Challenging
Sun 18:59, 20:55, 0.91, 48%, Medium

acme 4:03 AM  

James McAvoy is also the actor who said kissing Angelina Jolie in a film they starred in was " awkward, sweaty and not very nice, said the Scottish actor.

"There was angst involved in that, as always.

"I don't think Brad Pitt felt threatened for one moment.''

I think he was commenting on his own nervousness, but publications have been quoting him without the self-deprecation and making it sound like he is dissing her.

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

Second Posting:
Eugene Maleska would NEVER use Jane Roe....the correct lawyer usage is Jane DOE. Go back to Games Magazine...Mr Smarmy Shortz

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Any east coaster knows Drakes Coffee Cake, as do they know Natick, a town with a rest stop on the Mass Pike right before Boston. Theses puzzles appear in the NY Times, after all.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

Jane Roe as in vs Wade

Jeff Samin 3:13 PM  

Not sure if they are actually called 'ponies' but a small sheet for a child's crib can be called a pony crib sheet (Google it)

Dave 12:50 AM  

In defense of "berried", we in flyover country would go berrying during the season - primarily for raspberries - around the fourth of July weekend in southeastern Ohio if you care.

Spacecraft 12:17 PM  

A remarkable effort considering the theme density. Sure, there are some fill stinkers (CMAJ, DTEN, etc.), but some of that is unavoidable if you want to "star-cross" your lovers. Much of the other fill is pretty damn good, IMHO.

Along with the oft-mentioned mini-theme in the SW corner (plus 5- and 55-down), how about SITARS/RAGA? Or even MOBBOSS/GESTAPO? There's a lot to like in this entry, enough to overlook SKIHAT (cap or mask, OK, not "HAT") and ILOSE (we losers naver say that; it's our EGOS: we say "You win." I know, it's the same thing...but it isn't. Only a loser knows this).

I do not recognize the name Timothy Polin. If he's a seasoned contributor (seems likely), my bad. If this is a debut, I would say it is a most promising one. In either case, I haven't seen enough of his work.

Red Valerian 4:46 PM  

I briefly considered reX for 47D (' ___ Americana'). Turns out that was not insane (although it was wrong). India took a big interest in the 2004 US election, and that was a sort of tagline. Rex Americana

But PAX Americana was also in the brain somehow. Bit of a scary concept, that. If you don't mind me saying so.

Thought the puzzle very witty, though all those doomed couples made me rather sad. I LOVED the book "Atonement," though it is very sad. Or maybe because it is very sad. Didn't see the movie.

Must dig up by gladioli this afternoon. They're sort of hardy, but not completely. DAHLIAs--phhbbt. too much work.

@Spacecraft--hear, hear!

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

I only know James McAvoy as Mr. Tumnus. Despite an optimistic start when I discovered the interesting construction, that soon turned to frustration and ended in several blanks (CRIBSHEET?).

Dirigonzo 1:51 PM  

The NE corner was in a shambles when I finally called it quits last night, but a little re-thinking today changed PAstOrS to PARSONS and HOOKer (hey, it fit right in with a lot of other entries)to HOOKAH, which produced CRIBSHEET (although I had no idea what it had to do with "Pony" until I came here), and all of a sudden all was right with the world again. Love puzzles with lots of AHAS.

lene 3:42 AM  

Loved it after I got it, but must admit I started with Doe. Agree about some obscure & contrived fill, & didn't know #@% about Atonement, but otherwise really enjoyed myself. Which is what it's about, rite?

Lisa 12:13 PM  

Seems Will Shortz was a little risque this time, but I had fun figuring it out.
"Double bridged instruments" (sitars),O'Hara's "Appointment in Samarra", and the Honshu city "Sendai" were the ones that stumped me.....

Lisa 12:15 PM  

Also....I never knew "pony" was a word for "cribsheet"....I kept thinking along equine lines or "pony up".....

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