Two-time president of Romania / THU 11-22-12 / Pastry in Sweeney Todd / So-called African antelope / Fictional locale five miles from Jonesboro / Seinfeld character with catchphrase Jerry Hello / Early explorer of Southwest

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium



THEME: Initial initials — familiar phrases are reimagined (via "?"-cluing) as wacky phrases wherein the first two letters stand alone:

L.A. DIES FIRST (18A: Cackling cry from a mad scientist before unleashing havoc on southern California?)
R.A. IN CHECK (33A: Dorm V.I.P. having to move his king?)
B.A. BY BOOMER (39A: Proud academic achievement of football star Esiason?) 
B.O. ON DOCKS (50A: Evidence of longshoremen without antiperspirant?)
P.R. IS ON BREAK (64A: Why the press release has to wait?)

Word of the Day: E. J. DIONNE (70A: Political commentator E. J. ___) —
Eugene Joseph "E.J." Dionne, Jr. ( [...] born April 23, 1952) is an American journalist and political commentator, and a long-time op-edcolumnist for The Washington Post. He is also a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a University Professor in the Foundations of Democracy and Culture at Georgetown Public Policy Institute, a Senior Research Fellow at Saint Anselm College, and an NPR,MSNBC, and PBS commentator. (wikipedia)
• • •

What a weird and clever theme. Feels like the kind of theme that could go on and on (given how many two-letter abbreviations there are in the English language), but the fact that we could all come up with other answers doesn't take away from the pleasant wackiness of this set. I tore through this puzzle, with most of my time spent trying to get a handle on the theme in the NW. Once I figured it out, I found the theme answers all remarkably pliable (esp. if you know who Boomer Esiason is), and I ended up getting through this in a pretty normal time, which is actually a fast time given that the grid is extra-wide today (16x15). I feel like the potential for trouble was probably greatest in the NE, where ILIESCU holds many spelling perils (13D: Two-time president of Romania), where VAN DYKE is a feature that doesn't necessarily leap to mind with Lenin (14D: Vladimir Lenin had one), and where even HUSKIES (12D: Big East team) wasn't very intuitive (when asked for a team, I tend to think of the school name, not the mascot). I took an embarrassingly long time to get PIGLET; wasn't til I got the "G" that that answer became (painfully) obvious (31A: Hundred Acre Wood resident). Hesitated some at 29D: Not survive (DIE OF) because I read the "survive" as an intransitive verb; thus I wanted DIE OUT or DIE OFF, neither of which would FIT. But otherwise, there wasn't much bite to this one (though I'm seeing some longish times at the NYT site, so I wonder if I'm missing some potential pitfall). I didn't know (or didn't recall) DIONNE, but beyond that, everything else was somewhat-to-very familiar.


The SHIV / SHIVER duplication I could do without, but most of the rest of the grid, I liked. There are some pretty inventive long Downs in the grid today—specifically UNCLE LEO (24D: "Seinfeld" character wit the catchphrase "Jerry! Hello!") and BIKE TIRE (40D: 26" rubber band?). I was thrilled to learn some OKAPI trivia (57A: So-called "African unicorn"), the OKAPI being by far my favorite crossword animal. It's weird that it's called the "African unicorn"—is this to distinguish it from all the other "unicorns" out there? Also love the clue on the overly familiar TARA (63A: Fictional locale five miles from Jonesboro). My first thought was "pfft, how should I know?", but at just four letters, guessing the correct answers wasn't hard. It's good to add at least a little spice to the clues of the oft-appearing short stuff.

Anything else? No. Happy Thanksgiving!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

65 comments:

Anonymous 12:05 AM  

Great theme!!! Bravo to the creator.

Terry Bradshaw 12:09 AM  

I realize most of you folks don't think of a BA as any great achievement, but take my word for it, for BOOMER it was huge! You've no idea how hard that guy worked for it. See, he's the dumbest man you've ever met, or ever would want to meet. I swear, he couldn't spell cat even if you spotted him the c and the a.

Oh wait, that's me!

Anonymous 12:18 AM  

Very fast Thursday for me too, though I didn't care for the theme. At least it was only wacky clues and not a double-wacky. The entries were fine;just didn't enjoy getting to them. Would much rather have seen it clued as a themeless.
.....................

Yep, ILEISCe did me in. I certainly didn't know him. For the cross, "Go a-courting", I first thought of WOO, then went with SEE. Surprised not to see a ? on that clue, though it probably would have bit me anyway and will probably take out a whole lot of people.
.....................

Noticed but didn't mind SHIV and SHIVER

jae 12:22 AM  

Easy-medium for me too.

Erasures: woo for SUE, APIng for APISH, esposAS for SENORAS.

WOE:  DIONNE.  Never heard of the person either.

I' m with Rex.  I really liked this one.  The theme answers were genuinely funny. 

Random puzzle related thought:  Never realized UNCLE LEO had a catch phrase.  Newman's was the reverse--"Hello Jerry"--  said with a certain amount of contempt.  Any insights ED?

Tobias Duncan 12:42 AM  

Way too sports heavy.
A rhino is just a fat unicorn.

ALLCAPS!!! Coronado Meaies 1:43 AM  

Loved the theme and the reparsing and the way to think about words and language. Fun!!

What was not fun for me was the ramped up sports vibe:
HUSKIES, NLEAST, BOOMER esiason, NBASTAR, METS.

(I await the inevitable fan making some METS/SCUM comment)
Surely at least the HUSKIES could have been given a clever canine clue?!

Even LADIESFIRST feels lightly sexist and parsed into folks dying.

But all quite gettable, even tho Winnie the Pooh before my time and Harry Potter after.

SHIV / SHIVER not only didn't raise an eyebrow, i think it's cool. They are probably unrelated linguistically and ending a four letter word with a V is fancy!!!

Hand up for woo/SUE.

BIL Keane like EDD Hall and WIL Shriner can thank their parents that their name will live on in crosswords, long after their fame in their chosen professions.

Btw, my NYT print out had no bottom line on the puzzle and no lines at all for the letters in 14D and 49D, so until I got the theme, there was no way to tell that it was yet another NYT puzzle website messup and not some weird cool theme for the puzzle.
I thought maybe it was a think-outside-the-box grid..
But now that it's been pointed out that it's a 16 x 15 grid, i guess the last extra column wasn't counted on in the programming.

Anoa Bob 1:53 AM  

Wonder why 1A wasn't clued "Dubya in the morninig?".

Very imaginative theme concept. I'm guessing BA BY BOOMER was the seed entry because of the 16-wide grid being needed to accommodate a single, 10-letter answer in the center. With the standard 15-wide grid, you need an entry with an odd number of letters there.

Not to single out this very fine puzzle, but I've noticed a recent trend of mixing languages rather cavalierly in the clues. Today we get "Married mujeres" for 35A SENORAS. I say keep the entire clue in the same language---married women (in Spain) or mujeres casadas---or follow conventional practice and put the foreign word in italics.

And yes, there's that pesky issue of SEÑORAS but not BAD SIGÑ.

chefwen 2:29 AM  

Part time puzzle partner and I had a great time with this one. Got the theme right away with L.A. DIES FIRST, pretty gruesome, but it got us on the right track. Sportsman got B.A. BY BOOMER and we were off and running.

Great Thursday puzzle, thanks Joel.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

My thanks for this blog and all its contributors, you all make my days a lot more special.

Clif 2:43 AM  

Iliescu was a three term president of Romania, not a two term President. I suppose all three term presidents also have two terms, but that is pretty crappy cluing and would let you have FDR clued by "one term president."

Anonymous 6:13 AM  

Iliescu was a two term president. Kind of like saying Obama will be a two term president.

Anonymous 6:15 AM  

1. LOVE this kind of theme.

2. HATE the incongruity of the first and last theme entries.

3. THANKFUL that none of it matters, really.

Danp 6:34 AM  

I had Scud for thing on a tank, which made the team Detr, which made the sore loser Rulked. Ugh! Just couldn't imagine how to fix that. And no, I'm not a big baseball fan or a military genius. But I knew rulked was wrong.

loren muse smith 6:53 AM  

Though I delight in alternative parsing, it took me forever to suss this out – even after BABY BOOMER and PRISON BREAK. When RAIN CHECK finally fell, I had my aha moment. Joel is quickly becoming one of my favorite constructors!!

Like others, “Woo” for SUE, “esposas” for SENORAS, (and ridiculously “dyes” for DIES) mucked up a lot for a while.

Like @Rex – PIGLET just wouldn’t emerge. I kept flirting with “owlet” which just never fit.

@Anoa Bob – good one about AM BUSH! How about 32D clued as “Oh no, another grad student instructor!”

I didn’t notice SHIVER/SHIV problem but was expecting some grumbling on DIES/DIE.

And the last across is CLOSER! That had to be deliberate.

I HOPE you all have a NOISY, DECENT, MEAT PIE-filled Thanksgiving. And get some REST.

Really, really fun, Joel. I’m thankful for this site and for all the gifted constructors out there who deliver day in and day out.

Jim Walker 6:59 AM  

Good Thanksgiving Morning to all. Today I am thankful for many things including this little community created by Rex. Have a great day, all and travel safely.

Z 7:15 AM  

I went quite far before the "aha" moment. I actually had LADIES FIRST filled in before the light flickered on. That made it easy to go back and fill the rest of the themes and complete the puzzle. R.A. IN ---- held me up for a little longer because I was thinking that R.A. had to move her king bed.

E.J. DIONNE strikes me as someone only left of center political junkies would know. I see he also guests on NPR, so maybe centerist political junkies might know him, too.

I put in eeyore without hesitation. APISH SLOB fixed that area. I'm thinking the APISH SLOB is the HERALDED longshoreman who has B.O. ON DOCKS. Odoriferous sections like this really should be TABOO.

MaryRoseG 7:27 AM  

I had my favorite 100 Acre Wood Denizen, Tigger, in there which held me up for awhile. Fun puzzle. Actually hit myself in the forehead when I got it!

Off to wrestle with a turkey. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Anonymous 7:29 AM  

Liked it, but I too got the G in Piglet first and confidently put in TIGGER. Took a while to get that out.

Had WOO for SUE but wasn't so confident of that one so it it came out easily.

What held me up more than anything was I so sure there'd be something Thanksgiving-related about the theme that even once I saw LADIES FIRST had to be the fill I wasn't able to see how it fit the clue.

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

No one else has commented that the PR in the answer is given in the clue as Public Relations? That slowed me down as I tried to think of another abbreviation!

Happy Thanksgiving and I think of all those who do not have a warm and safe home and 3 meals every day.

nancy 8:04 AM  

I thought the theme was quite obscure, but the puzzle went fast. I had trouble only in the southwest corner. i had to cheat on boondocks and then, voila, done.
Love Thursdays
Nancy

dk 8:16 AM  

Here's looking at you puzzle pals.

Think yams, maple syrup, chilies, oranges and butter. The ratio is up to you but start off light on the chilies... Just sayin!

Two fine days in a row.

**** (4 Stars)

Making whoopie pies (Maine treat) for Mom and others in the center. Alzheimer's and dementia cause you to lose a lot but not the memories associated with childhood. And, I cannot tell you how much fun it is to ask the storekeeper for a tub of lard.

Make nice to a stranger today. Wish the person in the toll booth a happy t-day.

Milford 8:23 AM  

Figured out the theme early on with LA DIES FIRST, and soon after got BA BY BOOMER. Then knew that it would be RA something (like @Z, I thought there was a bed move involved). So that kind of set me up to think that an A was involved (and that 64A would be PA something). Finally worked it out, though. Fun theme!

Many the same writeovers here: woo, espOsA, eeyore.

Had fun teasing out the downs in the NE - VANDYKE and ILIESCU especially. NBASTAR and ENPLANE - less fun.

Laughed at the ALL CAPS, as it drives me nuts to receive texts or emails like that.

Anyone besides me watching GWTW last night while writing in TARA?

Many things to be thankful for, among them this blog, the clever and erudite posters, the lovely Rex for his valued opinions and for maintaining this site, and his patient family.

baja 8:45 AM  

Loved this! Who a looks at baby and sees b.a. by? Very impressive. Like the expression all caps - I do my crosswords in all smalls - all caps is jarring.

Carola 9:13 AM  

Fun theme - my favorite was the cackle of "LA DIES FIRST!" Slow going for me in the in the East until I got rid of WOO and finally got that it was PR, not AP, that was on BREAK.

Thoughtful that a SHIV is provided for the PRISON BREAK. Wonder if it makes PIGLET SHIVER to be crossed with MEAT PIE.

@Anoa Bob and @loren - Nice bonus entries!

@Rex and all - Happy Thanksgiving!

chefbea 9:19 AM  

Had no idea what the theme was til I came herer. Wanted a Thanksgiving puzzle today with all sorts of good food!!! Will get the good food later

Gobble Gobble to all!!!



jackj 9:19 AM  

Joel Fagliano holds back on offering paeans to cornucopias or brickbats to green bean casseroles today, just giving us clever phrases where the first two letters represent an abbreviation that, when read alone, dramatically change the rest of an original phrase, producing gags of varying success.

For example, the clued BOONDOCKS, (“Evidence of longshoremen without antiperspirant?”) breaks away the beginning BO, allowing the clue to be answered as B.O. ON DOCKS.

The other theme bits have predictable gimmickry with the beginning initials of LA, RA, BA, and PR all representing exactly what you think they represent and all converting the full entry into humorous phrases that accurately respond to the puzzle’s individual clues.

The fill had something for everyone with UNCLELEO for Seinfeldians, ILESCU for students of world affairs, MEATPIE for Broadway patrons, CORONADO for homesick San Diego folks this Thanksgiving, ROBERTS for the GOP to hiss at (or DIONNE who will sing the praises for) the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision.

There’s more of this stuff sprinkled around the grid, HUSKIES, NBASTAR, METS, NLEAST for sports fans, SHILOH, for Civil War groupies and even VANDYKE for Gillette fanciers. Want more of Fagliano’s Fun Facts? They’re there for the solving.

Not much of a challenge, (which is unusual for this constructor), but it was clever, fun and fitting for a wordy feast. Who could ask for anything more?

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

jberg 9:53 AM  

I got PIGLET right off, but then put in wOl instead of ROO for 67D. I also had the APIng writeover, as well as thinkng 50A would end with Odor. It all came right in the end, though, and the theme was really great.

Odd what people know and don't know. EJ DIONNE is a pretty big-time columnis, on TV a lot, etc. - but if you don't follow politics, I guess he's as obscure as BOOMER Esiason is to me. That's what makes puzzles fun!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, I have to go peel some potatoes.

lawprof 9:54 AM  

Casey Stengel once described a pitcher as "fast but slow." That was me today: fast fill, slow theme recognition.

Such a strange sensation to fill in a theme answer that had absolutely no relationship to the clue, yet seemed to work somehow.

Only after finishing did the light come on, and then just gradually like one of those lamps with a rheostat rather than a simple on/off switch.

evil doug 9:59 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 10:00 AM  

How is CTS related to small change?

evil doug 10:03 AM  

7:37---The clue said 'press release', not 'public relations'.

E.J. Dionne is unwatchable. Another example of a good writer who doesn't translate well to live TV.

Some people's "lightly sexist" is, to me, one of the last bastions of simple politeness. I still hold the door, pull out a chair, assist with a coat---and I notice when men don't---and yet can still manage to support gender equality. But I guess some would feel offended if, say, the Italian captain had been last to leave his ship instead of pushing his way to the front of the evacuees---sure can't accuse him of being "lightly sexist"....

*********************************

(George tells Jerry of his gutless run to safety after a small kitchen fire breaks out at the birthday party his girlfriend is throwing for her son:)

JERRY: Did you knock her over too, or just the kids?

GEORGE: No, her too. And her mother.

JERRY: Really? Her mother.

GEORGE: Yeah. I may have stepped on her arm, too, I don't know.

JERRY: You probably couldn't see because of the smoke.

GEORGE: Yeah. But it was somebody's arm.

JERRY: So you feel "women and children first," in this day and age, is somewhat of an antiquated notion.

GEORGE: To some degree.

JERRY: So basically, it's every man, woman, child, and invalid for themselves.

GEORGE: In a manner of speaking.

JERRY: Well, it's honest.

GEORGE: Yeah. She should be commending me for treating everyone like equals.

JERRY: Well, perhaps when she's released from the burn center, she'll see things differently.
********************************

Speaking of which: Quite right, jae; the order "Jerry, hello!" is strictly Leo territory.

Evil

chefbea 10:20 AM  

@anon 10:00 cts=cents

John V 10:34 AM  

This was fabulous! Got it at RAINCHECKS. Bit of a snag @ 22A, as I wanted TIME for showstopper.

EJ DIONNE is dead obvious from EJ and well known to New Yorkers as I believe he was on the faculty at Fordham for some time.

Good job crossing stuff that not all would know, e.g UNCLELEO, Dark ARTS, fell okay, even though I've never seen Seinfeld or read Harry Potter. Last to fall was PRISONBREAK.

Bravo, Joel and thanks, Will for this new sort of Thursday.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and a continuing thanks to @Rex for this community.

joho 10:35 AM  

Super creative and original, thank you, Joel Fagliano!

Happy Thanksigiving to all!

the redanman 10:43 AM  

ENPLANE is somehow O.K.? [THAT'S CRAPPY]

Otherwise fine

Sparky 10:58 AM  

Hand up for woo and Tigger. DNF. Had about 75% but parts of the east wouldn't sink in. Thought of HiLo for 17a. My friend's father helped found the barefoot football team in Hawaii.

Since I never caught on to the two initial letter thingy the answers were pleasant but made no sense. Ah well. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

Welcome back Evil. GBM

Tyler 11:08 AM  

I was expecting a Thanksgiving theme of some kind and grew hopeful after MEAT PIES. Ended up finishing the whole puzzle, rereading the theme answers, and still having no clue what the theme was until reading Rex's write-up. Disappointed.

David 11:23 AM  

Shame on me, I forgot all about PIGLET until the crosses gave it to me. Sorry, Piglet!

And I really have to start reading the clues more carefully. I spent all morning thinking "When did Putin have a Van Dyke?". He's clean-shaven in all the Google images. I finally reread the clue. Oh yeah, it's Lenin. [self-administered dope-slap]

Ellen S 11:23 AM  

Hand up for woo/SeE/SUE. Oh, well, at least with AcrossLite my writeovers don't get all illegible.

BOOMER Esiasen is one of the few sports figures I know with a non-3-letter name. Another, coincidentally, is Terry Bradshaw, although I never actually saw or really heard of him as a Steeler -- right? Once he was a guest host on Saturday Night Live. Next time I saw him was in a low-impact exercise video for geezers. What I remember is "Breathe in through your nose and slowly out through pursed lips." I later was told by a young fitness center instructor that you breathe in through your nose so cold air will have a longer way to travel and thus warm up before reaching your lungs. The Steelers, or their fans, also have that towel which I never understood but since we're reparsing words again today, maybe it's allowable to remember yesterday's HANDSIN. Or maybe it's related to Towelie from SouthPark (my favorite character.)

Enough of that. I am a left-of-center person interested in politics but didn't know E.J. DIONNE. I'm not even proud of that ignorance.

@Evil Doug, thank you, really, for your take on chivalry. I was and am a feminist, but could never bring myself to be offended by politeness. I always appreciate having somone hold a door open for me, but think it is a courtesy that is best extended to anyone. When I get to a door first, I open it, and hold it if there is someone behind me regardless of sex or age. If there's a man behind me I don't think I should stand there waiting for him to open the door for me. I noticed when I was pregnant that everyone scurried to help me with doors, chairs, etc. Once my daughter was born and my hands were full with infant, stroller, diaper bag, it was like I was invisible. So I think some kinds of "courtesy" are as blind and unthinking as shoving everyone out of the way to get to the lifeboats.

And now I'd better get to my rice/quinoa salad. And take the dogs out before it rains. Have a wonderful day, all, and especialy thank you @Rex for giving us this space.

Mr. X 11:24 AM  

I was tripped up by GO A-COURTIN. Had SEE instead of SUE. Excellent theme, though!

mac 11:26 AM  

I think I got the theme at raincheck. I loved this one, very clever and fun.

I woo-ed first, too, and I wondered where Lenin stole that Van Dyke piece...

Happy thanksgiving. We have a lot to be thankful for, with the pumpkin pie in the oven and family coming in a couple of hours. Just two blocks from here is a long foodline. Not just today, they were being served yesterday as well.

Sarah 11:43 AM  

I never realised how many residents of 100 Acre Wood have 6-letter names: not just PIGLET but also Tigger and Eeyore (which, of course, I ran through before getting the right answer)>

P Dub 11:53 AM  

Great comment by anoa bob & wonderful seinfeld mention by evil doug.

For RAINCHECK, I wanted a clue like "Pitcher Dickey struggling."

Happy TG all.

DigitalDan 11:56 AM  

ACME: Winnie the Poo should not be before ANYONE's time. It's not too late to enjoy the Poo books or (even better) A. A. Milne's wonderful ageless poetry -- "When We Were Very Young", "Now We Are Six."

Too much knowledge is dangerous tho -- had EEYORE and TIGGER before PIGLET.

DigitalDan 11:57 AM  

Pooh, that is.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 12:20 PM  

Oh, man. thUmbsUp+.

When I first saw the clue "Cackling cry from a mad scientist before unleashing havoc on southern California", I knew we were gonna have a puz to be mightily thankful for. Clever. Different. Deviant. Primo. You rule, Joel dude. Couple more U's, and youda been bound for glory.

Hapnin' TurkeyDay, puzbloggers.

Norm 12:36 PM  

Brilliant! I was totally done with the puzzle and was still completely befuddled before I got the theme. Love it!

Merle 12:40 PM  

Never got the theme until I checked in with Rex. Not impressed. Puzzle defeated me. Didn't even bother checking in on Tuesday and Wednesday, the puzzles were so easy, and then this one lost me -- I don't have the right frame of reference. Got really screwed up when I tried Piglet and watched it stack next to Esposas. Esposas actually would be a better answer than Senoras. But of course, that GP at the end of 3D would be a "Bad sign". Bad sigp. Yes, like others, had woo before sue, and sue does make the clue clever. Don't get the 50A clue and answer -- yes, docks relates to longshoremen -- but WTF does boon have to do with a lack of antiperspirant? Don't get it. Not an enjoyable puzzle. Unsatisfying beginning to a four-day weekend. Ah well. Such a minor problem. On to the real deal, family Thanksgiving, wonderful family, wonderful food, and surprisingly wonderful East Coast late November weather.

syndy 1:03 PM  

I Wooed Tigger before I SUED PIGLET and went Rhino/Oland/Okapi. Finished the puzzle before I understood the theme-DOH!

Michael Hanko 1:32 PM  

I initially thought the maniacal laugh/Southern California thing was going to involve Baja ha....

Rob C 1:51 PM  

Just had to add to the praise. Great theme. Fun puzzle. Day with family. Good food. Who could ask for anything more.

Happy Tanksgiving all

Airymom 2:06 PM  

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who comments and especially to Rex who keeps us entertained, challenged and enlightened. Thanks also to Rex for being the answer man when we're stuck (Saturday, especially)!

I am thankful that for the past 35 years I have had the opportunity to do the NYT crossword. I have learned history, mythology, Latin phrases, weirdly spelled three and four letter words and a whole lot more, while having tons of fun. I truly believe it has kept my mind sharp (and my pencils, too.)

Best wishes to everyone and my hope to my fellow NY'ers that things will be back to normal soon.




Lewis 2:35 PM  

Clever clever theme and enjoyable puzzle. I was tempted several times to check for incorrect letters, but successfully fought the urge, and was rewarded with a solve.

I've been trying to come up with other answers of this theme's genre, and have been unsuccessful. How about some of you?

So I guess our only holiday theme this week is the parade puzzle. Wishing all a happy Thanksgiving.

Anonymous 3:34 PM  

@merle

It's B.O. ON DOCKS
No anti-perspirant= Body Odor

Clever and funny!

Sandy K 3:42 PM  

Loved this puzzle!

Happy Bird Day to you!

M and A's auditor 5:08 PM  

p.s. Hey now. One more U than I gave this great puz cred for. Wrong again, M&A breath.
(Had SeE, not SUE. Got confused. So, sue me -- or see me.)

This puz really must've had a pretty complete set of themer answers. Nobody's bringin' up any extras for a vote. All the old M&A brain egested was:
[Part of the Patriot Act that covers babies spitting up]
= USURPAUTHORITY

[pardon] Bon appetit.
M&A

Lois 5:26 PM  

I agree with loren muse smith, although she just put in in terms of how Rex might react. There is a bit of a problem with "L.A. dies first" and "die of," obviously, but I guess people didn't care because of the intricacy of the theme. There is no problem with "shiver" and "shiv," as they are not related. The similarity is only part of the fun, as pointed out by Acme.

The puzzle was very good, but it was tough for me, partly because of the sports clues (some of which were easier than expected). Got there eventually, which is to the credit of the puzzle.

Anonymous 7:34 PM  

Superb puzzle -- one of the best in a while. All of the theme answers brought wide smiles as they fell. Great work.

EJ Dionne is especially good in his weekly discussions with David Brooks on NPR.

sanfranman59 10:00 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 7:08, 6:46, 1.05, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 8:18, 8:57, 0.93, 37%, Easy-Medium
Wed 11:11, 11:49, 0.95, 39%, Easy-Medium
Thu 17:02, 18:47, 0.91, 34%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:09, 3:41, 1.13, 91%, Challenging
Tue 4:41, 4:41, 1.00, 56%, Medium
Wed 6:49, 5:57, 1.14, 85%, Challenging
Thu 9:57, 9:23, 1.06, 67%, Medium-Challenging

Oscar 7:22 AM  

It was ok. Seen this sort of theme before, but these were good examples even if they weren't totally consistent in form.

DIEOF/L.A. DIES is unfortunate, but since nobody gives a rat's a$$ about repeats over at the NYT, guess I should stop caring, too.

Red Valerian 11:12 AM  

Well, that was cute! Must have been hard to think up those theme answers. No new ones are occurring to me.

Was thinking ft---- for Civil War battle site (11D), but waited.

Feel double time-warped, given that it's just after Christmas in syndi-land, and Thanksgiving in Canada is in October.

Happy New Year, all!

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

I finished the puzzle completely and quickly but didn't get the theme until coming here. The S.D. Union-Trib never prints a theme clue like "Initials, Initials." So some of us are at a distinct disadvantage. Oh well, the rest of the paper has also gone to hell. The L.A.Times has got to be the best rag west of the Mississippi. So sayeth this self-proclaimed People's Pundit.
Ron Diego 12/26 8:25 AM

Spacecraft 12:05 PM  

Nice theme, and even if done before, this one was very well crafted. I got it at RAINCHECK. Sussing the theme helped a lot, because of tricky cluing for a lot of the fill.

Said fill being at least DECENT, IMO, though I question whether "Honorable" is a good synonym for it. There's a Venn diagram in there, I'm sure.

@acme: are you trying to say you're out of TP? ("Meaies") I hate when that happens.

I didn't notice it was 16 wide; I never do. No PIGLET problem, though; I was working up from the center and so had the ET in place. Gimme. Also not confused by 38a: -ESCU is a typical Romanian name ending, like -IAN for Armenia.

CTS, one of the few BADSIGNs of fill today, is an outdated abbr. for "cents." Wanted ANAP for 71a, and was bothered by HUSKIES being in the Big East--Washington? really?--till I remembered UCONN. Sorry, guys. Another school with the same mascot is my alma mater, Bloomsburg U. Yeah, I guess this one has an awful lot of sports stuff, particularly with NBA and NL in the same corner, but that's a minor (league?) gripe. Thumbs up, Joel--and that doesn't mean "Yer out!"

Dianne 1:23 PM  

I'm a political junkie here in DC so I know EJ Dionne. We go to the same dentist, and I watched with some amusement as he tried to impress the receptionist that he goes by "EJ" and not "Elliot"

DMGrandma 6:38 PM  

Got the gag, got most of the puzzle, but bombed in the NE. Just couldn't accept HUSKIES which I associate with the the northwest, Washington, so figured something else must be wrong. It turns out that "king" was not a bed, and the
Russian was not Putin, and NOISY escaped me entirely. All those blanks after getting unknown sports and radio people!

I sympathize with @Red Valerian, I have enough trouble with one time warp!

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