London mayor Johnson / TUE 11-6-12 / Game in which orange ghost is named Sue not Clyde / Memorable 2011 hurricane / Jungle swinger / German philosopher who wrote true is wholeNuisance that keeps returning

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Constructor: Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Medium



THEME: SECRET BALLOT (1A: With 74-Across, voting system that affords anonymity ... or the theme of this puzzle?) — non-consecutive circles within each presidentialish theme answer spell out, OBAMA, BIDEN, ROMNEY, and RYAN (one name per theme answer)

Word of the Day: BAD PENNY (73A: Nuisance that keeps returning, in metaphor) —
"BAD PENNY -- The phrase usually is heard in this country (U.S.) as 'A bad penny always turns up,' meaning that a no-good person can be counted upon to come back again and again. The expression was originally English and the unit of currency referred to was the shilling. Sir Walter Scott, in one of his early nineteenth-century novels, whereto: 'Bring back Darsie? Little doubt of that. The bad shilling is sure enough to come back again.'" From "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988). (phrasefinder.org.uk)
• • •

This is pretty weak tea, as election-themed puzzles go, "weak tea" being a metaphor ... sort of like "BAD PENNY," with the big exception being that I've heard of (and apparently use) "weak tea." Why is the penny bad? Is it ugly? Erik tells me that Google tells him it's counterfeit. You took it, likek a schmuck, and now you can't spend it, but for some reason you haven't chucked it, so ... it keeps coming back. I'm sure we can all relate to this. But back to the puzzle—Nonconsecutive circles ... I've never been a fan. You can likely do this with any presidential race. At least all the theme answers are exactly 15 *and* have some election-oriented flavor, though honestly these theme answers don't really cohere well at the level of presidentialness. I do like the cleverness of the "?" clue on RIGHT ON THE MONEY, though.


Theme answers:
  • 17A: Song sung by a patriotic politician ("GOD BLESS AMERICA")—or, you know, there's this:

  • 36A: How a director of campaign advertising works (BEHIND THE SCENES)
  • 45A: Exactly ... like a conservative's plan to lower taxes? (RIGHT ON THE MONEY)
  • 65A: Religious belief of eight U.S. presidents (PRESBYTERIANISM)
Nice, fresh clue on BORIS (36D: London mayor Johnson) (turns out I didn't know this—somewhat embarrassing; looked like the answer would be BORAT there for a while). There's some pretty tired fill here and there, esp. in the east (from ALS to ONS and everywhere in between), but I have to give a sitting ovation to the MS. PACMAN / MR. SMITH cross (7A: Game in which the orange ghost is named Sue, not Clyde / 7D: James Stewart title character who goes to Washington). Can't remember ever seeing a MR. / MS. mash-up. Maybe MRS. would've been better, but *maybe* it would've been too spot-on.

It appears, by the placement of the candidates within the grid, that Mr. Agard is suggesting that OBAMA/BIDEN will come out on top. We'll see. Should be quite a RHUBARB (16A: Heated disputes).
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    68 comments:

    Gill I. P. 12:20 AM  

    Well, there are a few things I really dislike in my puzzles. One is telling me right off the bat to look elsewhere for my theme and the other is anything that smells of politics. Having said that, I LOVED THIS Erik Agard....
    No RHUBARBS SEZ this SASSY BAD PENNY. Fun puzzle for the dreaded Tuesday...Can we have more?
    P.S. LINDT intense Orange will make you go APE (or want SEX).

    JFC 12:21 AM  

    Did this with pen on paper since Across Lite wasn't working (please do not read anything in my using a pen because we have no pencils or other sharp objects where I live).

    Very disappointed in Rex not liking this puzzle (well, not that disappointed). I think it works for an election day and a Tuesday. Marks Mr. Agard's debut. I liked it, especially since I'm always referred to as a bad penny....

    JFC

    C. Ross Word 12:47 AM  

    Immediately plunked in 1a SECRET and 74a BALLOT combo. Saw the O in ELOPE was the first of five circles on line 3 and that the other lines with circles had 5, 6, and 4 respectively. Hmmm Obama (5), Biden (5), Romney (6), and Ryan (4) filled them all in and it was off to the races, no pun intended.
    Ironic (or by design) that OBAMA is embedded in GODBLESSAMERICA given the "Birther" pseudo-controversy; and RYAN, known for his stringent Catholic views is embedded in PRESBYTERIANISM. Also, just noticed that ROMNEY is an anagram of R MONEY (our money). Could that refer to the tax money he didn't pay by exploiting loopholes that he has no intention of closing but rather expanding? I have to GAG!

    Bretski 2:11 AM  

    Why not have the theme answers run up and down? Then the candidates could have been split left and right.

    chefwen 2:22 AM  

    C'mon guys, we have one more day. Let's leave the politics at the door.

    @JFC - Had the same problem with Across Lite, printed it out with the PDF format available, no problem.

    Thought this was easier than yesterdays which was super easy. Once you got 17A and filled in the rest of the circles, bah dah bing, bah da bang. Done deal! Nary a write-over.

    Evan 2:30 AM  

    Non-consecutive circles aren't my favorite gimmick either, but SECRET BALLOT is a pretty good revealer for it nonetheless. The clue for RIGHT ON THE MONEY is awesome.

    I give Erik a tiny demerit for the fact that while one of the theme answers (GOD BLESS AMERICA) has only one of each of the five letters in OBAMA's name, the others do not -- lots of uncircled E's and another N in the BIDEN answer; one uncircled E and an extra O in the ROMNEY answer; and one uncircled R in the RYAN answer. I think it would have been just a little tighter if the circled letters were not found anywhere else in the answers, though that might have made it really tough to find appropriate entries (especially ones that don't repeat the BIDEN and ROMNEY letters). Again, it's not a big problem with this puzzle -- just an aesthetic quibble of mine.

    Maybe it goes without saying today, but besides the theme answers, the fill packed quite a political punch: DEM, "Vice President Gore and others," TEA Party, MR. SMITH, "'This Week' airer," NSA, "London mayor Johnson," "Number of years between censuses," and of course they picked the Senators for the NHL clue. I'd throw the clue "Possible cause of brain freeze" in there as a politically-related answer too, but that's just me.

    Nostalgia alert! For any nerds out there who grew up playing all of the classic SEGA and Nintendo during the '80s and '90s, this video nearly brought me to tears.

    jae 2:30 AM  

    Medium for me.  Good election day  theme, but some cringy fill which I suspect is the result of the theme constraints?   I also liked Mr. and Ms.  SMITH/PACMAN.  Not bad overall.  Vote!

    Alex Vratsanos 3:29 AM  

    When I first saw that my recent puzzle was going to run on October 30, not Election Day, I surmised that Will had chosen something specific to 2012 for Election Day. Turns out I was right... and I say, what a great puzzle for Election Day!

    To be honest, I think Mr. Agard's use of circles in his puzzle today is better than mine a week ago! I say that because not only did Mr. Agard find a grid-spanning phrase for each candidate's name, but he also unified them with his clues. And if that weren't enough, he had SECRET BALLOT at the beginning and end!

    Way to go, Mr. Agard! And congratulations, as I see this is your first puzzle in the NYT!

    Ellen S 4:14 AM  

    I don't even care if this was a dumb puzzle (it must have been; took me no time to solve)-- I'm just delighted I managed to time-travel and landed here in real time, after my exile in syndication, where my penchant for doing that day's (5 weeks previous) puzzle at bedtime left me posting long after you folks had gone on to other things.

    I got "SECRET BALLOT" right away and nothing else impeded me. I always tell my doctor, "Here I am again, turning up like a BAD PENNY," but for some reason I never wondered what it meant. I do claim some intellectual curiosity, though -- wasted about a year in college trying to research "dead as a doornail." This was the same college that enabled me to figure out Queen Eliz. I's coronation year yesterday ... or, last week, depending.)

    Anyway, I'm taking a long time about saying hello. I've been loving this blog for a couple of months now, mostly because of the lack of flaming -- it can't all be Rex removing the offensive comments or there would be residue. I don't see much residue, only an accepting tolerance for differing political opinions, even during an election cycle where RHUBARBS are an understatement. Who knew I'd have to go to a crossword blog to find civil discourse?

    OTD 7:21 AM  

    Come on! I can't even escape politics with a NYT crossword! It's everywhere! Enough is enough. I'm ready for the nut house. AAGHGH!!!

    Easy puzzle. Didn't even pay attention to the theme. I guess I'm naive after filling in the 15 word clues Should have expected something political for election day.

    Z 7:21 AM  

    I did this in Across Lite last night. I still hate doing puzzles on a screen.

    Time to go stand in line. @Ellen S - we may be civil about politics, but you'll see a tasty RHUBARB or two about things that actually matter.

    Susan McConnell 7:59 AM  

    I think this was great fun...I can't imagine wanting anything more on an election Tuesday. And it was a debut? Kudos!

    Only snag for me was that I was unfamiliar with that use of RHUBARB.

    Have been seeing Romney referred to as RMONEY for months.

    John V 8:06 AM  

    Revealer was dead simple to get from SECRET. I mostly solved the NW with the downs. Initially thought we'd see the word BALLOT in the circles. Needed to write out the theme answers to see what was going.

    Fun the see Paul RYAN imbedded with PRESBYTERIANISM.

    I'd say easy for a Tuesday. Nice clean grid. Good work and nice debut, Erik.

    joho 8:15 AM  

    I sped through this from SECRET to BALLOT so definitely easy but also timely and fun, packed with theme.

    I liked Space CADET, HEADSUP, RHUBARBS, no stone UNTURNED, pickle JAR and BADPENNY. Loved the clue and answer for RIGHTONTHEMONEY.

    BAHAMAOBAMA is funny.

    Congratulations on your debut, Erik!





    Airymom 8:23 AM  

    Terrific puzzle for an important election day. I'm headed out the door to drive my 90 year old mother to her polling place. This is her 16th presidential vote, beginning in 1956, when she became a citizen. On the other end of the spectrum, it's the first time voting for my 19 year old son.

    Lots of important issues in Maryland, besides Obama vs. Romney: gay marriage, gambling, redistricting.

    Finish the puzzle and then get out there and vote!

    Blue Stater 8:35 AM  

    I don't understand 49A, "Possible cause of brain freeze," ICEE. Huh?

    Anonymous 8:35 AM  

    Hello, everyone! Been lurking for a while and was lured out by "bad penny" and "rhubarb."

    "to keep turning up like a bad penny"--a penny that is loaded so that it always throws heads is a bad penny, as would be one that always turns tails, but not such a nice pun.

    The origin of rhubarb, they told me in high school communications is that if you have a crowd of extras on the radio and they all say "rhubarb" over and over, it sounds like an angry, muttering mob.

    Thank you, Rex, for doing this blog. It is great fun.

    jackj 8:40 AM  

    As themed election puzzles go, this is certainly in the running for the easiest one of the Shortz era. The candidate names as the product of the circles is expected and all can be filled in without much thought but most troubling, there is a disappointing lack of artifice in the cluing of the puzzle.

    The only two clues that might give a solver trouble are “London Mayor Johnson” looking for BORIS and “Nuisance that keeps returning, in metaphor” for BADPENNY though a knowledgeable solver might very well conclude they are one and the same.

    Anyone who reads “The Economist” magazine knows of BORIS, the eccentric, headline-seeking, politically ambitious Mayor of London (he of the unruly mop of blond hair), if not for his flirtation with possibly supplanting David Cameron as the PM, then at least for his clownish antics.

    Notably, when riding a zip line during the recent London Olympics, dressed in suit and tie, sporting a silly looking blue air raid warden’s helmet, waving mini-British flags and apparently channeling Benny Hill, BORIS compounded the zaniness of it all by getting stuck in mid-air and having to plead with flummoxed by-standers to help get him down.

    On further reflection, maybe we could use a “BORIS” of our own in the U. S. political arena.

    There has been only one memorable election-themed NY Times crossword over the years and this one is not it.

    Anonymous 8:40 AM  

    What's with 'icee' as possible cause of brain freeze?

    MAKE SURE YOU VOTE 8:41 AM  

    I am totally amazed that some did not like this puzzle. Election day puzzles have the handicap they they have to be published on a Tuesday (duh), so they have to be quite easy to solve. Perhaps if that were not the case, the circles could be eliminated, making it somewhat tough to get the theme.

    I don't think it is easy to come up with 4 15 letter entries all involving politics that hide the 4 candidates name. Perhaps one can "likely do it with any presidential race" but not without some blood sweat and tears, so I don't think it proper to make light of Mr. Agard's achievement.

    Bretski's comment was great. Unfortunately, doing it with this puzzle would result in Obama and Biden being on the right.

    And to those of you whining about politics: lighten up. The humorous political comments are at most semi-serious, so have a laugh with the rest of us.

    Thalarctos Maritimus 9:05 AM  

    ICEE is so cold, it makes your head hurt.

    Carola 9:10 AM  

    Liked it. Appreciated the few minutes' distraction from my anxiety about how it's going to turn out. RIGHT ON THE MONEY - really good. Also liked TURN centered over the BAD PENNY that keeps turning up.

    chefbea 9:32 AM  

    Great puzzle and easy. Didn't know Boris but got it from the crosses.

    @Ellen S - welcome!! We have had some rhubarbs concerning another RED food.

    quilter1 9:42 AM  

    Easy puzzle and timely. My husband renewed my NYT puzzle subscription for my birthday--today! I hope that by the end of the day I will get the other present I want that matches the sign in the yard. A hint: I've been working for civil rights since age 15 and the current efforts to prevent people from voting makes me mad.

    I knew the BADPENNY reference and liked RHUBARB very much. I may have to make pie.

    Sfingi 9:45 AM  

    Lots of nice idioms.

    Easy -except Natick at BAHAMA crosses 2 sports things. Of course, I didn't know the Senator's org. was sports and never heard of Grand BAHAMA Island. I'll bet that's in one of those hot places that we harp seals avoid.

    On the ballot, DEMs are usually listed first; at least that's what I thought Agard was expressing.

    Pretty good for a debut!

    jberg 9:53 AM  

    Lots of fun, in my opinion - first, seeing that OBAMA is concealed in GOD BLESS AMERICA (if you doubt Nate Silver, this ought to confirm his prediction), and secondly in seeing BORIS Johnson - a politician I don't much like, but who is certainly fun - as was his predecessor, Ken Livingstone, who was more to my personal taste. (And for those of you wanting to memorize the names of all the mayors of London for future puzzle use, I've just given them both to you.)

    Sure it was easy, but lots of nice touches - and the central theme answer, BEHIND THE SCENES, can be regarded as another revealer.

    Milford 10:00 AM  

    Nice election day puzzle. Most entries were zippy. BAD PENNY saying is one I know, but maybe just from books, not one I hear people saying. Never knew the alternate definition of RHUBARBS. Cool.

    I think I liked this for it's wide spectrum of answers, from VIC Damone to MS PACMAN to today's election. Thank you, Erik!

    Already voted, so now I can get on with the rest of my day, which just happens to be my husband's and my 19th anniversary! First time it's landed on a presidential election. We will be spending a romantic evening watching election returns, *sigh*.

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:04 AM  

    A very good puzzle for today, IMHO.

    I must confess to one write-over: 40 D, was zipping along, put in COMET, while thinking that was a plausible answer to "One on the way up" but would draw complaints on technical astronomical grounds, was actually relieved when crosses revealed the correct answer, COMER.

    @Sfingi - I believe in most jurisdictions, ballot placement of the parties is determined by some random process.

    (I rarely quote captchas, but this one is geoNews!)

    MaryRoseG 10:14 AM  

    Fun, timely puzzle. So worried about getting gas (here on Long Island it is quite a challenge - watch the news ) that I didn't get it with the circles right away. At least I can walk to my polling place.

    Hopefully, the tankers that Cuomo has been promising will be here soon and get to all the stations, not just one, thus having 500 cars in a line.

    Prayers to the folks on the South Shore. (And my North Shore friends still in the dark.)

    Tita 10:19 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Tita 10:19 AM  

    Nice puzzle, didn't see the circles till coming here, so got an aha moment after all.

    So nice of @Alex to stop by, and be so gracious!

    @Bretski - a melding of Alex's puzzle and this one would be awesome!

    Leon 10:29 AM  

    Puzzle is missing FKQW. If you want to make circles throughout the puzzle, all of the President last names can be found,
    except:
    Jefferson
    Fillmore
    Garfield
    Taft
    Ford
    Jackson
    Polk
    McKinley
    Kennedy
    Quincy Adams
    Eisenhower
    Washington
    Wilson

    Bonus stuff: ABE and Al Smith (a candidate.)

    Z 10:49 AM  

    Speaking of random order on ballots, why is the alphabet in the order it is in? I like my place at the Omega end, but why am I there?

    Notsofast 11:19 AM  

    What an outstanding debut! Great fun. Slick. Sassy. PAC, TEAPARTY, GAG, ZIT! How could you not love it! Bravo!

    Sandy K 11:23 AM  

    Expected an election day theme, saw circles and figured they'd spell out the candidates, so it was pretty easy in that respect.

    Don't like when RIGHT off the bat, clue tells me to look elsewhere, but this one was cool- SECRET BALLOT!

    Liked all the nice touches- other politically-related answers, and perhaps hidden meanings in placements.

    Very substantive and timely puzzle- well done!

    mac 11:57 AM  

    Nice debut, and good election day puzzle. Rhubarb and Ms. Pacman were new to me, too.

    Finally got power back late yesterday afternoon. Soooo nice to be back online and having tv...

    When I voted this morning (b.t.w., republicans were mentioned first on the ballot), the scanner had broken down and we had to push the piece of paper through a slit into the box. Should I be worried?

    JFC 12:10 PM  

    Hey, @Z, you can add tiresome to the list. But nobody has topped Deb's moniker yet....

    JFC

    Anonymous 12:38 PM  

    "A bad penny always turns up" is the folk version of Gresham's Law: Bad money drives good money out of circulation. That is, if you have a bad penny (here in Seattle, a Canadian penny), you want to get rid of as soon as you can, so you spend it right away. That is, it "turns up" in circulation sooner.

    Howard B 12:42 PM  

    Also not usually a fan of the random-ish circle thing, but this I liked. Just a creative interpretation of the long answers into a theme context. Is it a perfectly tight, logical theme? Maybe not, but they don't all have to be. This one has a flair for creativity and pretty interesting fill, so captures the overall feel for the occasion.

    Maybe I'm just biased towards Ms. Pac-Man. X:).

    Nice one, Erik.

    anDre Carsales Mspacman 12:46 PM  

    Loved it!!!!!!
    the fifteens, the fact that 90% of the clues tied in to politics, the names in order...
    (Why do people think the circles are "random" when you have to get the names in exact order!!! People really are not appreciating great construction!!!!)

    Loved the crazy old-timey-ness of RHUBARBS, really felt like rollup your sleeves battle in out politics.

    Loved the MS/MR cross and like @Rex my first reaction was how nice that OBAMA came out on top!

    I started with the word BALLOT on the bottom and for BAHAMA had B??AMA and thought it was going to be B.OBAMA which would have been weird.

    I've been marveling these past few weeks that ROMNEY is an anagram of MONEY (R) and RYAN is AYN (R) and thought we'd get some sort of brilliant anagram puzzle today.

    (And as many of you know, PRESBYTERIANS is BRITNEYSPEARS which also never ceases to amaze me!)

    Wonderful, @Erik!!!

    Anyway, loved this from top to bottom.

    Hey, @jackj why didn't I get one of your write ups yesterday?!

    Anonymous 12:47 PM  

    I thought 'a bad penny..." was a metaphor for an obnoxious person that you just couldn't shake.

    Bird 1:31 PM  

    My first thought was, “Circles on a Tuesday?”, but I liked this one and admire the work needed to get this constructed without any really bad fill. Nice job Erik. I however, found this one rated easy as I got the theme early on, 1A and 74A were the first to go in, then filled in the circles. I too wonder if Erik thinks OBAMA/BIDEN will come out on top or if Will did some editing because the NYT is endorsing the incumbent.

    Learned that RHUBARBS are not just a food. No writeovers today.

    I always think that “memorable” has a positive connotation, and IRENE was definitely not a good thing.

    Too bad we can't vote while waiting on line for gas.

    Happy Election Day!

    Clark 1:52 PM  

    @Anonymous 12:38 gets it right. Whoever finds the BAD PENNY in her purse spends it before her good money. That causes the bad money to keep showing up in circulation.

    "[T]he full-bodied coins that are the pride of Athens are never used while the mean brass coins pass hand to hand." Aristophanes, The Frogs.

    John 2:01 PM  

    I've never ever heard of a dispute being called a "rhubarb". Is this a regionalism?

    quilter1 2:29 PM  

    @John This is a very old term for a fight. I believe baseball announcers pre-TV used to use it when the teams cleared the benches.

    jackj 3:02 PM  

    anDre Carsales Mspacman@12:46PM (wrote in part)-

    "Hey, @jackj why didn't I get one of your write ups yesterday?!"



    Out of circulation all day; I owe you one!

    Lewis 3:08 PM  

    jfc -- you ARE a bad penny

    bretski -- good point

    I liked the intersection of SEX and COMER.

    jfc -- just kidding

    Lewis 3:10 PM  

    quilter1 -- I think it was Red Barber who made it famous.

    miriam b 3:10 PM  

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhubarb_(1951_film)

    This was a funny book. Wish I'd seen the movie.

    why not a bad dime 3:12 PM  

    @Lewis - No, jfc IS a bad penny. That's why I skip over his comments.

    miriam b 3:32 PM  

    Red Barber's autobiography was titled "Rhubarb in the Catbird Seat". He also popularized "tearing up the pea patch". James Thurber's story "The Catbird Seat" is one of my favorites.

    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)

    Tue 7:54, 8:58, 0.88, 18%, Easy

    Top 100 solvers

    Tue 4:28, 4:41, 0.96, 43%, Medium

    Anonymous 5:44 PM  

    As I write this, a Canadian penny is worth 1.0077 US pennies. What's bad about that?

    - Foreign Exchange Guy

    Prowd [sic] 'Merican 5:58 PM  

    @Foreight Exchange Guy - It may be nominally worth more, but it's only good for buying beer and hockey tickets.

    Further on the downside, it's useless for buying medical care. Oh, you've got free mecidal care. Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned that.

    Sparky 6:45 PM  

    My first entry was ELAINE so I didn't see SECRET BALLOT till late. I was pleased and said Awww when it all played out. Congrats Mr. Agard on your debut. @JFC I printed PDF like @Chefwen. Happy bithday @Quilter1.

    Line long at polling place. One and one half hour wait. Good turnout.

    chefwen 10:28 PM  

    Happy Birthday quilter1. Hope you had a great day!

    sanfranman59 11:41 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 5:44, 6:46, 0.85, 2%, Easy (3rd lowest median solve time of 174 Mondays)
    Tue 7:57, 8:58, 0.89, 18%, Easy

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:28, 3:41, 0.94, 26%, Easy-Medium
    Tue 4:27, 4:41, 0.95, 41%, Medium

    Ellen S 11:48 PM  

    Polls closed here in California 45 minutes ago. Do the talking heads wait for polls to close in Hawaii before announcing the results? Is Hawaii a state? Is it even in the US? Above, I shouldn't have said the puzzle must be "dumb", i just meant it had to be easy for me to zip through it. But I was also so excited to be solving in real time. Last Sunday (for me, doing the syndicated puz) seeing Easterners writing nervously about preps for Hurricane Sandy, when I knew what was in store for them, was extra distressing.

    Spacecraft 12:51 PM  

    It does feel strange here in Syndiland when there's some impending "event" in real time. I wondered what would happen to all the air time after the election; I needn't have. It's Xmas season! As the Dukes said to their commodities pit trader: "Get out there and SELL! SELL!"

    Oh, "event" in quotes? That's what they call every CARSALE. The "Sign-then-drive" Event; the "December-to-remember" Event, etc. Curious use of the word. I wonder who was first--because all the other companies have copied it.

    Welcome to this side of the Pond, Mr. Agard. The dead giveaway? OXO as a kitchen brand. Do you miss your favorite PUB? And how is BORIS these days?

    Favorite entry: RHUBARBS. @anon 8:35: an amusing anecdote for the explanation of the word as a set-to. I simply thought it grew out of the extremely tart taste. And @Lewis: didn't notice the SEX/COMER crossing till you mentioned it; did you also notice that right under that we have "AAA!" One other funny cross--for me--was "pickle holder" JAR with GAG: what pickles make me do.

    A promising debut. It's accepted that 15s are going to cost some junk fill, but in this one it was the corner 8s and 6s that seemed to cause the most trouble. Still, with SASSY entries like HEADSUP in a theme-heavy grid: promising.

    Ginger 1:53 PM  

    Interesting reading real time comments about the election, and the angst it caused. So glad it's over. But now the 'fiscal cliff' negotiations (or non-negotiations) are filling the airways. AH ME

    @quilter 1 - Happy Birthday, 5 weeks late, and you did in fact get your Birthday Present to match the sign in your yard!

    The term RHUBARB has always meant a baseball bench clearing brawl to me, tho I guess I've not heard it lately. Surprised that so many didn't know it. Must be an age thing.

    Impressive and enjoyable, thanks Erik, keep em coming!

    Waxy in Montreal 2:15 PM  

    Speaking of political RHUBARBS, somehow it's appropriate that BATTLE CLOSER is an anagram for SECRET BALLOT. If only...

    And given the lengthy NHL lockout, perhaps 53D could be reclued as BUFFALO NON-PLAYER.

    When I yell FORE after an errant drive, HEADS DOWN would actually be a more judicious strategy for other golfers in the vicinity.

    So now that the election's done and dusted, syndiland can now look forward (and backwards) to US Thanksgiving and Black Friday themed puzzles not to mention Christmas in a couple of months. THO I'm not at all sure what happens if the Mayan calendar is/was right...

    Captcha=SCRODO, perhaps a Hobbit for an X-rated remake of Lord of the Rings.

    DMGrandma 2:17 PM  

    Guess it would help to check the puzzle date before solving. I didn't, and was momentarily surprised when the candidate names unfolded. The election seems a long time ago-though writers to the paper in my part of Syndiland, SDUnion, are apparently still campaigning!

    We took a quick trip north this week-end which gave a new appreciation for said, much criricized Union. I was surprised to find my old hometown newspaper, The SF Chronicle has been reduced to a disappointing shadow of its former self. At least it does run the Syndie Puzzle, but it includes the answers, spoiling the suspense of "am I right?". Was also stunned by the crass commercialism of Fisherman's Warf. It used to be a relaxed place to grab a bite of lunch and get a loaf of bread to take home. Now its buses and buses and blocks and blocks of t-shirts and schlock. The mighty dollar (money in today's puzzle) has destroyed a once lovely experience. Needless to say, we didn't stop. Since we were headed to a reunion in Marin County, we had lunch in Sausalito where saner heads have kept the bus masses at bay and saved their tranquility. Tourists welcome, just in numbers that won't totally stress the infrastructure.

    Had a Captcha I could read, and "they" changed it while I wasn't looking. Have to try again to find one this robot can solve! .....Spell check wants the new one to say "omit ego". Considering above rant, maybe it's trying to tell me something!

    Dirigonzo 5:09 PM  

    There were many complaints about yesterday's puzzle being too easy but I found this one to be easier yet - that said, I still thought it was a good election day puzzle and had fun finding all of the political bonus answers (and I think that given the post election scandal involving Patraeus ETAL, we can include SEX as another example).

    A transgender acquaintance whose name used to be Daryl now goes by DAL, so nice to see her in the grid.

    It's ironically appropriate or maybe appropriately ironic that @Ellen S on her first day in prime time has the final comment before the the blog seques into synditime.

    @Gil I.P. - Box of chocolates is in the mail.

    Gill I. P. 5:55 PM  

    @Diri: Thanks, I think...How do you like your APE?

    Dirigonzo 6:37 PM  

    @Gil I.P. - Like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2qkhaaibTU

    Nice to see you still lurk around long enough to see syndi-comments. We star-gazers will be out Thursday night/Friday morning to see the Geminids meteor shower - please join us!

    Unbelievable - captcha is swingj!

    Gill I. P. 7:55 PM  

    @Diri: YIKES! Those are some BOdacious Geminids.

    Dirigonzo 9:28 PM  

    @Gil I.P. - I'll give that comment a TEN and say "Goodnight, IRENE."

    Anonyrat 4:19 AM  

    @ MaryRoseG 10:14 AM - I'm out west, but I was worried about getting gas too; probably because I was having lunch at Taco Bell.
    @ John 2:01 PM - quilter1 (and others)is/are correct. It's not a regionalism, it's a baseballism.
    @ Spacecraft 12:51 PM - My first thought for "pickle holder" with _A_ I knew could not be possibly correct.

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