Nickname of Haiti's Duvalier ousted in 1986 / TUE 4-30-13 / Huckster's pitch / First capital of California / Stimpy's TV pal / Itchy dog's woe

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Constructor: Lynn Lempel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: NO TWO SOUND ALIKE (40A: What's odd about the ends of the answers to the four starred clues) — last words of the theme answers all have the last same three letters, yet are all pronounced differently:

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *Triumphs, but barely (WINS BY A NOSE)
  • 21A: *First capital of California (SAN JOSE)
  • 54A: *Nonfatal amount of radiation, say (LOW DOSE)
  • 64A: *Huckster's pitch ("YOU CAN'T LOSE")

Word of the Day: BABY DOC Duvalier (18D: Nickname of Haiti's Duvalier, ousted in 1986) —
Jean-Claude Duvalier, nicknamed "Bébé Doc" or "Baby Doc" (born July 3, 1951) was the President of Haiti from 1971 until his overthrow by a popular uprising in 1986. He succeeded his father, François "Papa Doc" Duvalier, as the ruler of Haiti upon his father's death in 1971. After assuming power, he introduced cosmetic changes to his father's regime and delegated much authority to his advisors, though thousands of Haitians were killed or tortured, and hundreds of thousands fled the country. He maintained a notoriously lavish lifestyle (including a state-sponsored US$3 million wedding in 1980), and made millions from involvement in the drug trade and from selling body parts from dead Haitians while poverty among his people remained the most widespread for any country in the Americas. (wikipedia)
• • •

An interesting observation turned into a puzzle. Why not? This puzzle is solid. So solid it's almost dull. Last two theme answers are interesting, and PEJORATIVE is a nifty-looking word (11D: Disparaging), but not much excitement elsewhere. But on the plus side—no dreck either. Fill is so real and unforced that there's hardly anything to talk about. There were hardly any candidates for "Word of the Day." The whole thing reeks of competence. Actually, the fill isn't entirely without interest—there's a big shot of TEQUILA (24D: Margarita need) right in the middle. I'll take it.


What is there to say about this one? No rough spots, no tough spots, all familiar answers. The only remarkable thing I see here is the clue on SAN JOSE. I grew up in California and had no idea it ever had any capital but Sacramento. Wait wait. Wait. So dogs have LICE (which I suppose is true, though I associate LICE much more with people). And then you LOUSE UP or [Botch] something? Those words are, uh, related, aren't they? If not identical? (singular vs. plural). Yes, one is figurative. Still.

OK, that's all I got. Goodbye.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    83 comments:

    Jack Lee 6:24 AM  

    Am I missing something? Why does NOSE sound different from DOSE? Don't they rhyme?

    Anonymous 6:35 AM  

    Most people pronounce NOSE with a Z sound and DOSE with an S sound.

    Anonymous 6:43 AM  

    Ugh...please someone tell me you had cupie doll not cutie...gotta love the English language though...

    Glimmerglass 6:56 AM  

    @Jack. No. NOSE has a Z sound. Dose, an S. Easy puzzle -- only mildly interesting.

    Z 7:00 AM  

    NOSE is closer to doze than DOSE.

    Is SEA SALT "natural" since it has to be processed? Any more "natural" than any other table salt we buy these days?

    I went to the ball game last night and stopped by the Michigan Craft Brew stand. Kevin BACON is the food theme. BACON on a stick, grilled cheese and BACON sandwich, deep fried BACON. Too many meals there and you won't be a CUTIE anymore.

    An AFRAME with ELK, a CAT, and LICE. Probably picked up the LICE on a NATURE WALK.

    Other than NINA sailing in again, a very nice puzzle.

    Jack Lee 7:07 AM  

    Oh, yes, silly me. Thanks for the responses.

    JenCT 7:09 AM  

    Got hung up on LICE - was thinking flea? tick?

    Found this puzzle to be kind of a snoozer - sorry, Lynn Lempel

    Got here around 5 a.m. but the blog wasn't even up yet...

    loren muse smith 7:13 AM  

    LoOSE bleedover from yesterday: erOSE!

    I love being shown stuff like this. A lifelong observer of language, I always find lists like this *amazing* (truly ”amazing” – not the amazing that’s thrown around People magazine – “she’s an amazing mother. . .” Seriously. How could I have missed this very cool list of OSEs that don’t rhyme? I guess prO SE, goOSE and purpOSE don’t really fit, but I immediately went there just for fun.

    I bet someone out there has a really funny TEQUILA/SQUAT/BUST/SOT story.

    In Chattanooga we had a male cat named SUE. Great guy.

    Kewpie has one more letter than CUTIE.

    @Z – I’m so headed down that Bacon path. Like a moth to a FLAME.

    Working with Jeff Chen has made me look for, appreciate, aim for excellent non-theme long downs: NATURE WALK and PEJORATIVE.

    Simple, fun, elegant. I can’t be my usual verbOSE self today – too much to do. Thanks, Lynn.

    John V 7:17 AM  

    TEQUILA for breakfast! Thanks, Lynn!

    English is so odd in so many ways.

    Interesting to see the theme answers stacked on each other. Otherwise, very easy for a Tuesday.

    mac 7:18 AM  

    I'm afraid my pronounciation of nose and dose are very close....

    Papa Doc before Baby Doc, otherwise smooth sailing.

    Our last Koninginnedag in Holland. I'm watching the coronation of the first king after a woman regent and three queens in a row. Then it's party time, with open air concerts all over the country.

    Mitzie 7:26 AM  

    1. LICE and LOUSE in the same puzzle = silly. Easily fixable.

    2. "Family chain" (26-Across) = strange/made-up term.

    3. Lempel = awesome.

    OTD 7:34 AM  

    Easier than Monday. Went through it like the proverbial knife through butter.

    Easy, quick, done in almost record time. Not one erasure, which is odd for me.

    Loved TEQUILA, PEJORATIVE, BABYDOC. Didn't we have TIKI recently?

    Rob C 7:58 AM  

    Easy-medium for me. Solid, tight theme-good for a Tues. Also, enjoyed the long downs as others have mentioned.

    Only one writeover, NATUREhike for WALK, but quickly corrected with crosses. Given the news these days, DRONES has a current vibe to it. On the whole, the cluing was very straight today.

    joho 8:01 AM  

    @Rex: "The whole thing reeks of competence." I would replace "reeks" with "shines" or "sparkles."

    What an interesting idea! And what wonderful wordplay! It was fascinating to repeat the theme words and find them so different. No cookie cutter puzzle here, it's a true original.

    Loved SOTS next to TEQUILA.

    With Lynn Lemple YOUCANTLOSE!

    jae 8:16 AM  

    Easy clever Tues.  The theme was zero help, but it was fun sounding out the answers especially after yesterday's discussion of MOORE vs. MORE vs. MOOR. vs. ...

    So, a pretty much dreck free grid with some zip...TEQULIA, LOUSE UP, BUST, SQUAT, PEJORATIVE (great word), DENCH (just saw SKYFALL, even if you're not a Bond fan it's a worth seeing for DENCH's performance)... Liked it a lot!

    Susan McConnell 8:18 AM  

    Well, what a bummer to have created such a smooth Tuesday puzzle that it can be perceived as dull. I think it's just right! Theme answers that rhyme to your eyes but not to your ears. No crosswordese. A speedy solve and for me, no write overs or fat fingering - YAY!

    dk 8:19 AM  

    Lynn, This is what a Tuesday puzzle should be. Solid, workman (workwoman) like. Kinda like baby bear's bed… just right.

    The theme is in a word: dumb. But who cares the fill trumps the theme.

    Had tics for LICE and opined what the poop is a tOWDOSE and what is a sLK. Nevermore.

    �������� (Four Noses) �� Thumbs up for a great Tuesday.

    Off to Wash DC tomorrow to talk about how one can use profiling to identify individuals at risk for a major health event (hospital admission) as we prepare for the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. I often open with how we used profiling techniques to identify the Hillside Strangler(s), then show how the same approach can cause you untold grief as you try to make your flight and now is used in healthcare to predict who may be sick. The idea is to intervene and attempt to prevent the event (e.g., heart attack).

    I close with how I used statistical modeling and text analysis to demonstrate that Tuesday is the least favorite x-word day. By this time the Z sound found in NOSE is quite audible…. wait just one more chart.


    Anonymous 8:26 AM  

    "Ugh...please someone tell me you had cupie doll not cutie...gotta love the English language though..."

    And the problem is that a SOP is also a drunkard, just as a SOT is.

    Really poor.

    Anonymous 8:34 AM  

    dk-My day will be nothing like yours tomorrow, but I applaud appropriate efforts to fix our health care system. As a Vermonter, I live in a "healthy" state that already has community rating and guaranteed coverage for health insurance. We are on a path to single payer in 2017.

    Oh, yes, the puzzle. Smooth except for SE. My dog had fleas, ticks, and lice. The ranger led a NATURE TALK. Fortunately IRA and CAL got me back on track. Very Vermont clues, as Silent CAL from Vermont and IRA Allen one of the Green Mountain Boys and brother of Ethan Allen.

    Great Tuesday.

    MetaRex 8:45 AM  

    MR feels about 3 x 3 boxes the way Ellen S. feels about EELS...but I gotta admit IRA CAL ELK in the SW and POE END JUG in the NE are good of kind. Think this one is a lot better for casual solvers than for insiders...reasoning at WIN PY AND SE

    NYer 8:47 AM  

    Oh, is that why you say "my nose is froze"?

    Joe The Juggler 9:13 AM  

    "I'm afraid my pronounciation of nose and dose are very close...."

    If you close the door, is the knob close to the jamb?

    I hope you don't pronounce pronunciation the way you spelled it! ;)

    Carola 9:13 AM  

    Puzzle and comments a treat in playing with words. Opera fan that I am, I liked ARIA next to THE MET. Had a double-take moment when I read the clue for 20 A, then looked at the grid where I already had SEAS filled in - thought that "seasoning"-->SEASALT was nice word play, too.

    @jae - Agree about Judy DENCH in Skyfall - I had to see it twice.

    jackj 9:16 AM  

    Memo for Ms. Lempel: Baseball catchers have to contort their bodies sufficient to assume a most awkward position for half of all the innings played in a baseball game; “talk” with complicated, rapid, bilingual, waggling finger signals to the pitcher; suffer being struck by foul balls or baseball bats; while all the while putting up with the umpire shouting “Ball!” when the pitch in question clearly was a strike and further, being exposed on any given play to an opponent’s dangerous TAKEOUT slide.

    As a consequence, the BPOMLBCUF (Benevolent and Protective Order of Major League Baseball Catcher’s United Forever) has decreed that in order to preserve the precious dignity of all catchers, at no time is their normal catching stance to be called anything other than a “crouch”. Accordingly, they have decreed that anyone calling the “crouch” a SQUAT has ipso facto acted in a PEJORATIVE manner and is subject to severe penalties at the discretion of the BPOMLBCUF, so don’t LOUSEUP again please, dear lady!

    An interesting theme today, with it’s disparate “OSE” entries that begin with the letter D, J, L or N with the reveal of NOTWOSOUNDALIKE and as an offshoot of that corollary we can posit that every other legitimate “OSE” word not used in the puzzle sounds only like NOSE, (hose, pose, rose, even Bose and Vose, if we include proper names).

    Lynn’s fill is so lively, (as always), it’s tough to single out favorites, but clearly TEQUILA, BABYDOC, NATUREWALK, GOYAS, STYLUS and DRONES merit a nod.

    It is interesting that this is the seventh time THEMET has appeared in a Times crossword, but always clued as the opera, never the other (THE) MET, otherwise known as The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Humph!!

    A wonderful Lynn Lempel offering, as ever!

    chefbea 9:16 AM  

    Great puzzle...especially after all the talk yesterday about words sounding alike.
    Hand up for papa doc at first

    @Mac have fun celebrating the first King in hundreds of years.

    Bob Kerfuffle 9:25 AM  

    As usual, everything already said, so I'll just say Happy 75th Birthday, Bugs Bunny!

    (And, oh, yeah, another hand up for PAPA DOC before BABY DOC.)

    Norm 9:28 AM  

    jackj: Kruk & Kuip often say "Buster in the squat" when announcing the Giants lineup. Totally legit.

    rex: I shudder the think what your grade in California history was. Benecia and Vallejo were also capitals. :)

    Eric 9:41 AM  

    THE MET (opera house), not to be confused with THE MET(ropolitan Museum of Art), not to be confused with the MET(s...NYCs "other" baseball team).



    Maybe if <a href="http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/_/id/6035/david-wright>David Wright</a> busted out an ARIA during the seventh inning stretch, more people would go to Mets games. Just a thought.


    jberg 9:47 AM  

    Easy, fun puzzle. I got WINS BY A NOSE and was looking for body parts, but 40A set that straight. Only minor nits to pick -- or rather lice. That was one; the other was that "A FRAME" is not the "shape of many a chalet," it's the construction method for many a chalet. The shape of those chalets is -- A.

    Without 14A, 15A could mean either the opera or the museum; guess that doesn't matter.

    As someone pointed out "cupie" is not the right spelling. Anyone know where KEWPIE comes from?

    @jackj, congratulations - you have now joined @Rex in the ranks of those whose jokes are taken as serious.

    Jon Stine 10:05 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Sfingi 10:15 AM  

    Beautiful, smooth puzzle. Only unknown to me was USTA, which, being sports, I still don't know. Unique theme, good fill. I don't think I've ever seen PEJORATIVE in a crossword.

    One possible minus, though I'm sure others disagree, is that THE MET is and abbrev. for The Metropolitan.

    @Rex - I also know many more human lice (or louses) than canine lice. The inclusion of LOUSE and LICE is fine, IMO, since they have different meanings here.

    quilter1 10:24 AM  

    Yes, easy and fun. I echo the delight of many others who enjoyed PEJORATIVE, LOUSE UP, TEQUILA and other fine answers. Good idea well executed and in no way dull. Thanks, Lynn.

    Gill I. P. 10:24 AM  

    Pretty impressive. A reminder of every learning English speakers woe. And there, almost in the middle, is ESL.
    TEQUILA tastes like rusty nails to me. Every year when we'd go to Mexico City for our annual convention there would be party's galore and every.single.one. would include TEQUILA. The higher ups would get drunk so that provided much amusement for those of us on the lower rungs. Ay, Ay Ayay...canta y no llore.....
    Thanks Ms Lempel. This puzzle is as good as it gets for a Tuesday.

    Two Ponies 10:33 AM  

    Great Tuesday. This theme makes me appreciate people who learn English as a second language. Quite a feat. Some even go so far as to do crosswords in this crazy language. Looking at you @mac. Enjoy the party.

    According to Wiki kewpie is derived from cupid. Makes sense.

    retired_chemist 10:37 AM  

    What everybody said.

    Yes, dogs do get lice but they are not as readily communicable as human lice, which are actually quite different. FWIW I have never seen lice on a dog in twenty years of owning and breeding. Would have used FLEA for for 54D if I hadn't had the L already solidly in place.

    Lived in SAN JOSE for a year without knowing that it was once the capital of CA. Tried FREMONT briefly.

    Surprised to find that CUPIE doll googles - I had only seen the apparently standard spelling KEWPIE. So the 37D/44A cross has two acceptable letters. First time I have seen that in in a NYT puzzle.

    Thanks, Ms. Lempel.

    retired_chemist 10:43 AM  

    Link showing that dogs do get lice didn't come through. Blogger now strips the entire link if it is incorrect html (in my case, hred instead of href). Used to give you an error message and let you correct it, which I would have preferred.

    loren muse smith 10:50 AM  

    @Gill I.P. - Have you seen the T shirt that says, "One TEQUILA, two TEQUILA, three TEQUILA, floor." ??

    Funny choice on what TEQUILA tastes like to you: a "rusty nail" is a cocktail! Scotch and Drambuie!

    Andrea Laura 10:51 AM  


    It is nice to see an article dedicated to this important topic. Thank you for sharing.

    Title Search

    Sandy K 10:56 AM  

    One of the better Tuesday puzzles IMHO. Liked the THEME(T) and when one WINS BY A NOSE, YOU CAN'T LOSE!

    Not a thing could LOUSE UP this one- just a LOW DOSE of EEG, USTA, CPU, ESL, ETC. But TEQUILA, PERJORATIVE, STYLUS, ARIA at THE MET, and Judy DENCH made me LIKE it.

    CUT(I)E Tuesday.

    Benko 10:57 AM  

    @mac:
    Mooie Koningindag! Ik gewoonde daarbij Amsterdam voor vijf jaren. Vandaag is de beste!

    loren muse smith 10:59 AM  

    Ok. I *really* can't let go of this fun theme.

    @jackj -"we can posit that every other legitimate “OSE” word not used in the puzzle sounds only like NOSE, (hose, pose, rose, even Bose and Vose, if we include proper names)."

    How about this: Whose goose chose those loose adipose comatose moose?

    Mel Ott 11:01 AM  

    The great Red Smith once observed that the fact that so many big league managers are former catchers is proof positive that man thinks best in a SQUATting position. :-)

    AliasZ 11:29 AM  

    Lynn Lempel never disappoints. It's a perfectly fine, light and airy Tuesday fare.

    According to Merriam-Webster, the first known use of LOUSE UP is from 1934, while LOUSE as a verb, meaning "remove lice from," dates to the 14th century. Louse (n., pl. LICE) the parasite has been in use since the 12th century.

    No doubt in my mind that the origin of LOUSE UP is the parasite, but in this case I had no problem with it.

    Is JOSE pronounced "ho-say" or "ho-zay"?

    John 11:32 AM  

    Only one word of crosswordese, ELAND. Impressive.

    Carola 11:45 AM  

    @loren - Those loose adipose lactose-intolerant moose?
    [lactose  (ˈlæktəʊs, -təʊz): Collins World English Dictionary]

    Bob Kerfuffle 12:00 PM  

    I'm possibly the last to see this, but anyone who cares about the ACPT and is further out of the loop than I am can follow rex's link to the Wordplay blog, and scroll down to one of the April 28 entries to voice your opinion on the question of Brooklyn vs. Stamford.

    LaneB 12:10 PM  

    CAD for "rogue" stopped me and error compounded by spelling TEQUILA with a first A. This made ETC hard to figure. Otherwise a fairly easy day.

    Sandi K 12:24 PM  

    Correction: Judi DENCH

    Dame Judith Olivia DENCH spells it "Judi" not Judy- my mistake.

    This Dame deserves to have her name spelled correctly. (Tho she doesn't seem the type to use the CUTEsy i )

    Notsofast 12:26 PM  

    An unusually good Tuesday. Agree that DENCH has no PEER.

    Lewis 12:37 PM  

    Gareth -- want to weigh in on how common lice is in dogs?

    Rex, you were absolutely right when you said no dreck in this puzzle, and that is a Lempel hallmark. That makes this puzzle perfect for a Tuesday, bringing in new solvers, and giving beginners something do-able and enjoyable.

    Ellen S 12:55 PM  

    @Eric, your link didn't come through, but (pls note @Retired_chemist) it wasn't stripped either, just sat there, incorrect.
    David Wright should work ...

    I lived in San Jose almost 25 years (as an adult so I never got to study California history), so I knew it was the first capital, and I dimly recall seeing references to several other locations before settling on Sacramento, which is where I have also settled. Is there a pattern here? I skipped Benicia and Vallejo because I didn't remember them, plus other, more compelling, reasons..

    @AliasZ: "Jose" is pronounced all kinds of ways by the gringo population. However, it usually manages to have two syllables, and usually we manage to pronounce the "J" as "H". "San" is often pronounced with an "a" like in "Day-um." It's closer than "Loss Anglees".

    Now to see what happens to the HTML.

    Ellen S 12:57 PM  

    Wow. The same incorrect HTML that shows up in Eric's post, which I copied and pasted, got stripped off in mine. With no error message. Is this a bug or a feature?

    Ellen S 1:00 PM  

    Hmmm. My version of @Eric's link looks like a link but doesn't go anywhere. Oh, well.

    Oh, the puzzle! Liked it a lot. Seemed literate without being snobbish, but I'm on the wrong side of that divide to be able to make an accurate assessment. PEJORATIVE is one of my favorite words, but maybe it's an acquired taste, like TEQUILA.

    syndy 1:06 PM  

    I was plicking so fast I had NATUREcall before I could think about it..

    Sfingi 1:06 PM  

    @Mac - My maiden name is Drees, so I'm following the new koning.

    @Anon834 -My mother's side is New England,and I took my son to VT when he was young. His reaction was, "There's nothing here." He lives in Los Angeles now, and loves it. Whatever.

    @Alias - thought it was DElouse. And lice seem pretty clever, and aren't known for lousing up their own goals.

    Utica used to have a Kewpie "restaurant," with a large Kewpie doll twirling over the front door, and waitresses on roller skates. Now, only Lima, OH has one.
    @JBerg - The Kewpie Doll was from a Rose O'Neill cartoon. Then came the toys, etc.

    ksquare 1:25 PM  

    In Brooklyn the S in DOSE with the Z pronunciation is how they say THOSE.

    ksquare 1:27 PM  

    So it rhymes with NOSE.

    Anonymous 1:57 PM  

    In Brooklyn, a low DOSE rhymes with close, EROSE, gross.

    Those ridiculing the Brooklynese accent, say Dese, Dem and Doze.

    In Brooklyn, Latinos usually use the correct Spanish pronunciation for JOSE- Ho-Say, and the more 'Americanized' tend to say Ho-Zay.

    jackj 2:20 PM  

    loren muse smith@10:59AM wrote:

    "@jackj -"we can posit that every other legitimate “OSE” word not used in the puzzle sounds only like NOSE, (hose, pose, rose, even Bose and Vose, if we include proper names)."

    How about this: Whose goose chose those loose adipose comatose moose?"



    No quarrel from me on those you listed but I am working from an assumption (that I believe to be correct) that Lynn Lempel's theme considers only 4 letter OSE words.

    chefwen 2:38 PM  

    What everybody else said. Loved it but finished too quickly, no time to savor.

    Read the clue for 16A, already had THE in at 15A and wrote in THE END, my only write-over. Darn old eyes playing tricks on me again.

    Benko 2:43 PM  

    I like the word PEJORATIVE a lot, but it trips me up. Because of how some people pronounce it, and the word "perjury", I always think it's spelled PERJORATIVE.

    retired_chemist 2:56 PM  

    Eric's link just left the second double quotation mark off but is otherwise correct. 'Tis a puzzlement why some get stripped and some not.

    Tita 3:14 PM  

    @jberg - my reaction about A-Frame too.
    Friends, who are both engineers, engineered the floor of the wrap-around deck to unfold while being pulled up by a cable, to cover the floor-to-ceiling triangular windows.
    Amazing - we love watching the "transformer house".

    @Bob K - thanks for the Bugs bday link...
    And, importantly, for the Brooklyn vs Stamford link - I'm there as Sonata, my alter-ego.

    Oh - puzzle - liked it fine. NATUREWALK was fun - the rangers in Cape Cod are so passionate, and give some of the best ones around.

    Masked and Stillunfamous 3:33 PM  

    Road tour's pretty much over. Only event of note: first time, ever, that the truck's -- er, tour bus's -- message display panel thingy read, "Day-um. Change this lousy oil already, will yah?" har. Guess it was a bit overdue, after that recent trip to Yosemite and all.

    Hard not to end up with interesting puz fill, when you got nine gorgeous U's swimmin around in the grid. An entire lineup's worth. YOU CAN'T LOSE. thUmbsUp. This L&L gal is one of my latest fave instructors.

    Best combos:
    ARIA.THEMET
    ELAND.SQUAT
    LOWDOSE.LOUSEUP

    Fave intriguing clue: [Get right to the honeymoon, say]. Wow. A top one list comes to mind...

    Most intirguing combo that'll never happen: If POE had published some crosswords. He had one real good submission, but couldn't pass the weeject test with his USH entry. And then tried nevermore. Almost true story; close enough for CNN.

    M&A

    M and A and still jet lagged 3:39 PM  

    p.s. In first msg, "instructor" is clearly meant to be short for something else, involving the crossword constructor population.

    sanfranman59 4:12 PM  

    Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

    All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

    Tue 6:35, 8:09, 0.81, 3%, Easy

    Top 100 solvers

    Tue 4:11, 4:47, 0.87, 10%, Easy

    ante cutie mesas 4:45 PM  

    Love Lynn Lempel!

    Just when I was admiring that BATS had a nice non baseball clue and ANTE was nowhere near poker, I stumble across SQUAT right in the middle!

    PEJORATIVE is super fancy (I think I thought it was spelled with an R too)

    Learned something too about SAN JOSE.

    And I too fell for CUpIE till I realized it is spelled Kewpie. Also curious about the origin. Maybe short for Cutie pie and it was changed to K to make it coined. Who knows? But as a namer I'm curious, I guess I'll go look it up.

    @dk
    Since you generally don't even notice themes, I don't think you should make PEJORTIVE comments about this particular theme!
    The theme is not "dumb". It's an interesting examination of the quirks of English pronunciation...a variation on the Enough/Through sort of thing GHOTI/Fish. FRESH. (Even tho admittedly kinda straightforward).
    That said, safe trip, CUTIE/SOT.

    The only thing off for me was the Flea/LICE clue. It is impossible to tune one's ukelele with "My Dog has LICE". Twaaaaaang.

    Anonymous 8:54 PM  

    "quirks of English pronunciation"

    No, "San Jose" is Spanish, it's not English.

    Tita 9:35 PM  

    In Portugese, José is pronounced with the J sounding like the z in 'azure'...jhoo-zai.
    Maybe you professional linguists out there can tell me the right way to portray that.
    My dad was José Maximiliano.

    But, the point is. San Jose is a city in the United States. Totally legit in the puzzle.

    I miss entering '42' for all those street numbers... Now I actually have to pay attention? Am I at least being crowd-sourced for the sei-altruistic purpose of improving the free online library of classic books?

    Tita 9:37 PM  

    *semi* - not sei

    sanfranman59 10:01 PM  

    This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 6:28, 6:14, 1.04, 73%, Medium-Challenging
    Tue 6:35, 8:09, 0.81, 3%, Easy (5th lowest ratio of 178 Tuesdays)

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:59, 3:44, 1.07, 82%, Challenging
    Tue 4:08, 4:47, 0.86, 8%, Easy

    retired_chemist 10:18 PM  

    @ Tita - 42 still works for the word; the gibberish is the real captcha.

    Anonymous 8:13 AM  

    "As someone pointed out "cupie" is not the right spelling. Anyone know where KEWPIE comes from? "

    Right, but please to explain WTH a 'cutie doll' is? Google each of the phrases and explain the legitimacy of 'cutie'.

    Zed 8:41 AM  

    @anon 8:13 - DOLL and CUTIE are terms of endearments, synonyms rather than a phrase.

    ANON B 3:42 PM  

    It doesn't conform to the theme, but if you read it clockwise
    it's "lie around" which is a
    semi-common phrase.

    spacecraft 11:53 AM  

    Not much to add. Agree it was all smooth; you can tell Lempel is a veteran. When you have to go to NNW as the worst fill, that's pretty darn clean. I don't even mind THEMET; that's what it's very widely called, almost as if THE was an integral part of the name.

    But @jackj: about all other -OSE words sounding like NOSE? Not even close.

    Syndi Solver 2:08 PM  

    I loved the puzzle. I'm amused by the idea that any puzzle that's too solidly constructed is boring for Rex. Not for me! I have nothing PEJORATIVE to say.

    I really liked the pairing of the first entry, WINS BY A NOSE, with the last entry, YOU CAN'T LOSE. (WIN/LOSE)

    Kudos to Lynn Lempel for a real CUTIE of a puzzle!

    Regarding the comment by @jackj about -OSE words, I think he meant only 4 letter words because that is part of the theme. With that restriction I do think all the other -OSE words rhyme with NOSE (HOSE, POSE, ROSE) including the names that come to mind (BOSE, MOSE). But maybe there are 4 letter words/names out there (from another language, maybe?) that I'm missing.

    Regarding LICE and LOUSE UP, I think they are so different (literal noun vs. phrase that's a figure of speech) that it's just fine.

    DMGrandma 5:28 PM  

    Another fun, easy outing. My only hesitation was SANJOSE. This native Californian always thought Monterey was the first capital. Turns out that was where they held the constituitional convention and chose SANJOSE, followed by Benecia and Vallejo before Sacremento. Learn something every day!

    Dirigonzo 5:52 PM  

    @Syndi solver - my cousin's last name is Vose, which rhymes with none of the above. Does that count?

    The DETEST/DRONES crossing seems appropriate to this hippy peace-nik.

    "Opposite of SSE" is the Monday clue for NNW. Tuesday should be "Direction from Freeport to Lewiston" or some such.

    "The whole thing reeks of competence." Damning with faint praise, or praising with understated admiration? Only Rex knows for sure.

    Red Valerian 7:15 PM  

    My dear dog (avatar at left) had lice this past winter--first time ever. (For me, I mean, and I hope for her, too.) Took her to a new groomer mid-December, then about a week later, she was scratching a lot. I couldn't see anything, even using a flea comb. Took her to the vet, who found one. They bathed her and apparently she was swarming with them.

    Canine lice do not jump to humans or even to cats, so it was a short-lived infestation. The new groomer denied they were the source, as they treat that sort of thing very seriously, blah, blah... Maybe it dropped off a passing coyote. Well, maybe.

    Way more than anybody could want to know.

    @Diri--how does "Vose" rhyme with "none of the above"?

    Perhaps that "reeks with competence" is some sort of passive/aggressive thing?

    Dirigonzo 7:50 PM  

    @Red Valerian - nice to see you here; it's been a while, n'est pas?
    Vose rhymes with:
    a. Nose
    b. Jose
    c. Dose
    d. Lose
    e. None of the above
    But you knew that. Sorry to hear about your pet - I presume you'll be changing groomers (or avoiding passing coyotes)? And yes, I'll go along with "some kind of passive/agressive thing (I know a little about that, too.)

    magnas ginsyme - where's @SIS when you need him?

    Red Valerian 8:09 PM  

    @Diri: yes, it's been a while. Though I do lurk now and again.

    The dog is fine, and we won't be going back to that groomer. But it's hard to avoid crossing paths with a coyote these days!

    Our osprey have sensibly set up one piling over, so they are hard to see. But they are there. Don't know if they have any young, but they act as though they are in nesting mode, going berserk when one of the resident bald eagles flies nearby.

    Bet there's a story or two to the "I Know a little about that, too"! Hope it's mostly ancient history...

    One of the captcha's has gotten easier. ???

    Syndi Solver 10:46 PM  

    @Dirigonzo, I laughed at your list of words that don't rhyme with Vose. But it still does not tell me how to pronounce the name. It reminds me of "Neti, neti" in Hinduism ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neti_neti )

    So, are you going to share the pronunciation of Vose that you know? Or is it more fun to make us wonder? :-)

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