French pantomime character / SUN 5-5-13 / Sleep problem to Brits / Priest in Ogden Nash poem / Defense grp that disbanded in 1977 / George W. Bush acquisition of 2008 / Sportscaster Collinsworth

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Medium


THEME: "Crunch Time" — abbrevs. of the days of the week are "crunched" into single squares inside familiar phrases:

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Early entrepreneurial efforts (LeMONade stands)
  • 28A: Florentine attraction (StaTUE of David)
  • 43A: Food to go? (SteWED prunes) — [ed. Breakfast test: failed]
  • 69A: Birthplace of Harry Houdini (BudapesT HUngary) — my friend Matt says this is an error—that when Houdini was born there, it was Budapest, Austria-Hungary. He appears to be right.
  • 93A: Big name in feminism (Betty FRIedan)
  • 110A: Just makes the 7:47, perhaps (CatcheS A Train)
  • 118A: Does spy work (GoeS UNdercover)

Word of the Day: RED DEER, Alberta (18D: Alberta's third-largest city, named after an animal) —
Red Deer is a city in Central Alberta, Canada. It is located near the midpoint of the Calgary–Edmonton Corridor and is surrounded by Red Deer County. It is Alberta's third-most-populous city – after Calgary and Edmonton. The city is located in aspen parkland, a region of rolling hills that is subject to oil, grain, and cattle production. It is a centre for oil and agriculture distribution, and the surrounding region is a major centre for petrochemical production. According to the 2011 municipal census, the population is now 91,877. (wikipedia)
• • •

30 seconds into this puzzle and I was audibly groaning and ugh'ing. My wife had to come in to check on me. When she saw that I wasn't actually ill, that I was just solving a puzzle, she said, simply, "I'm sorry." It's not that the puzzle is so terrible. It's just that it feels old, dated, fusty. Over-reliant on crosswordese, seriously lacking in imaginative / fresh / contemporary fill, etc. Etc. Got the theme early and thought "Haven't I seen this ... a lot. Seems like a very common, predictable core concept—something that would've been innovative, like, 20 years ago." Shortly thereafter got a note from a constructor friend that said simply "I made this exact theme for [redacted publication] ... and it was 15x15." And at 15x15, with solid fill, I'd've been impressed. But here, it was just a slow (or, rather, unenthusiastic) slog to the finish. My spirit was broken before I ever got out of the NW corner. PIERROT ... again (2D: French pantomime character). ORIBIS ... the crosswordesiest of antelopes (30A: Small African antelopes) [note: "AFRICA" is in the grid at 88D]. And the clue at 3D:How trout may be prepared: Var. is a howler. That may have been what put me over the edge. Of all the Var. clues (which, much to Will's credit, you hardly ever see anymore), this is one of the stupidest-sounding. OCTADS ... ESNE ... YSER ...  it's not a Horrible puzzle, it's just not nearly what I expect of the allegedly best puzzle in America. It's running-on-fumes stuff. Filler. Theme has some weaknesses of execution, too. Level of difficulty is not high for a rebus, so those day abbrevs. should really *all* break across words. But only three do. And CATCHESATRAIN? Is that really the best you could do for SAT? Pretty makeshift. Not ALMONDINE makeshift or APNOEA (!?) makeshift, but makeshift nonetheless (102D: Sleep problem, to Brits).


I wasn't the only one put off very early in my solve. One of my Twitter followers wrote: "I got ALAR! Then gave up. Spoiled by beautiful Saturday puzzle." That's kind of an overreaction ... but I understand. I really do.

Bullets:
  • 59A: Priest, in an Ogden Nash poem (ONE-L LAMA) — as far as I'm concerned, this Nash poem exists only to get absurd fill into the puzzle. And yet this is one of the most imaginative things in the grid today.
  • 122A: George W. Bush acquisition of 2008 (SON-IN-LAW) — my favorite clue of the day. Really tricked me. Very clever.
  • 101A: Ogre, to a kid (BEASTIE) — As I write this, it's the one-year anniversary of the death of Adam Yauch aka MCA of the BEASTIE Boys (5/4/12). So I'm going to play BEASTIE Boys now because that will make me happy. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

63 comments:

jae 12:08 AM  

Medium for me too.  The theme seems familiar and nothing really stands out, so, ho hum.

Biggest problem was misreading stuff... arguments for augments, preserved for persevered... dyslexia is not fun!

Anonymous 12:08 AM  

Completely agreed. I hated this puzzle in a way not felt in some time.

jackj 12:16 AM  

This Rebuzzle was a professional piece of work from long-time constructor Alan Arbesfeld and, I suspect, one that will be liked or disliked by solvers largely along generational lines. Gen Xers and Millennials who fancy Will’s Young Turks will likely hate it; Boomers and Silent Generation folks should find it more to their liking.

But, from whatever angle one approaches it, there clearly is some good stuff for cogitating, not the least of which are some wonderfully clever theme entries such as STA(TUE)OF DAVID that also has its VIR(TUE)S or STE(WED)PRUNES that might very well have meant that one BO(WED)OUT of an engagement post-prunes.

(Of course, there’s a bit of late Boomer/Early Silent Generation humor in the cluing for the prunes as, “Food to go?”; the kind of vaguely off-color joke an elderly maiden aunt might tell at a family get-together after imbibing her favorite Pimm’s Cup, while blushing behind a face-covering hand).

Continuing with theme entries that deserve recognition there is the “Houdini birthplace/ Nursery gift?” pairing that ran along the puzzle’s Equator for BUDAPES(THU)NGARY and its clever vertical crossing of GREEN(THU)MB.

The fill was lively, from NUBIA to KNISHES; SMILEYS to TIRADES; IDECLARE to GOSH to NOSIREE (for the pre-Silent Generation members among us) and an especially cute one for YOUR, “Something said before grace?”.

Whenever a puzzle looks for a six-letter plural for an African animal beginning with “O”, it is automatically OKAPIS, but a precise reading of the clue shows this time he is looking for an antelope and it is the other “O” African animal, ORIBIS. (Curious about okapis, I learned from Wikipedia that they are short-necked giraffe family members especially noted for having a tongue long enough to wash its eyelids and clean its ears, inside and out.) Wonderful, what these puzzles can teach us.

Thanks, Alan, may the HOTDOGS not be SKEPTICS by defining this as an OLDLINE puzzle.

Ellie 12:44 AM  

I liked it!

Pete 1:18 AM  

Rhetorical question: How can you not like a puzzle with STEWEDPRUNES as an answer?
Inappropriate response to rhetorical question: Easily.

I quit 1/3 into it.

okanaganer 1:36 AM  

I had STEWED PRawnS. Then I felt stu-pid.

Until I realized SAT was missing, I had 110A: CATCH E-TRAIN which made 105A: RuDI and 106D: simply aTLAS. Why not?

And then there's OCTADS... could be OCTALS, OCTETS, OCTANTS, OCTAVES. Why are there so many 8-nouns?

Numinous 2:06 AM  

I must say I hated this one. Maybe a little too OLDLINE for me and I'm old. Took me a long time and I never noticed the days of the week until I got here.

The only saving (YOUR)GRACE for me was that in the app, folks who usually post times of a minute twenty seconds were in the high six minute range.

IDECLARE, How can those HOTDOGS get a Thursday puzzle in 1:23?

chefwen 2:30 AM  

Wowzer, I'm in the minority, yet again. I loved it! Husband cracked it with STA (TUE) OF DAVID and we were off to the races. I thought it was fun to find the other days of the week. It was way past breakfast, so STE (wed) prunes brought a big guffaw.

Great one Alan Arbesfeld, ignore the naysayers.

syndy 2:36 AM  

I didn't hate it.It had a whole lotta crosswordese but to offset that it had a rebus! I'd rather have crosswordese that rappers or b level sport figures.I wanted OYEz in the worst way-so that got me a big AHA when I figured out what a doofus I was.For a short while I had 66d as 'oNeL' which was amusing on many levels.

Thoracic 5:47 AM  

Ecuador did not fool me this time!! I was not suckered into equator like the other day. I too figured the trick at STATUEOFDAVID but really wondered about the title-- Crunch Time -- not especially revealing other than a rebus of some sort was in the offing. All in all, I thought it was a decent puzzle, though my time was pretty slow for me. I did learn a lot of new crosswordese.

MetaRex 6:13 AM  

Yay for Alan Arbesfeld and to Will for going w/ this. No, I don't want to see ESNE YSER ALAR as much as we used to, but this is a good puzz w/ a nice theme. I prefer a puzzle ecosystem that has some old school puzzes like this...just as a Joe Kroziel superstack puzz can irritate some of us but is a nice part of the mix, so too w/ this Maleska-redolent puzz. More here

Bob Kerfuffle 6:27 AM  

Amen, @Thoracic, no problem spelling ECUADOR this time!

But I did have a write-over, @okanaganer, finding the correct path through the eight-fold way.

And while acknowledging my stumbles, had 17 D as ATE AWAY before ATE INTO.

P.S. Don't mind that the puzzle runs from Monday to Sunday, but, darn it, I'm an American, and I expect my calendar to run from Sunday to Saturday.

mac 6:30 AM  

That was a lot of work. Got the "mon" very quickly, but didn't realize until the Tue that it was about days of the week.

Favorite clue: food to go.

loren muse smith 6:51 AM  

SCHMOS/KNISHES, TAPA/PESO, AFRICA/CAIRO, NOT SURE right above SKEPTICS – nice!

I had STEW PRUNES before I caught the trick and didn’t question it. I guess STEWED PRUNES would make some people want to HURL. Mom used to make us eat them, so I can abide them.

@jackj – “okapi” is always my go-to O African BEASTIE. . .“they are short-necked giraffe family members especially noted for having a tongue long enough to wash its eyelids and clean its ears, inside and out.” GOSH. I don’t know what to say. I’m going to try to work that little factoid into a conversation today. That and the word SPATE.

@Rex - BUDAPEST austria HUNGARY could be a different rebus puzzle. Home game advantage, after hours. . .

@okanaganer – STEWED Prawns made me laugh! I also liked CATCH E-TRAIN! Greight question about all the OCT words. Don’t leave out octopus and octothorp. And Octomom.

I’m always really careful to let Chef at the club know just how very smart I am that I spell it Sole Amandine. I didn’t know ALMONDINE was a variant. I’m also careful to show my extreme sophistication with Espresso and not Expresso and always correct our menus by adding an s, to the vert in Haricots Verts. I know I’m tiresome.

Bleedover for most of you from yesterday: MAUVE. (My “agave” stood firm and proud.)

IN A STATE, STATUTE, STATUE, ESTATE, ETATS UNIS (poor dad), US ATLAS – they’re probably not all from the same root, right? I was never into etymology.

ABUTS ON surprised me and sent me scurrying off to investigate whether or not ABUT is transitive or intransitive, but I quickly lost interest. Jury’s still out because, really, who cares?

I always like a rebus and don’t remember a theme like this one, so I enjoyed this. I can’t imagine constructing a rebus (alone – Erik – we still on?), but I think I would have tried first to get something like “last hurrah” or “eat humble pie” crossing BUDAPEST HUNGARY because I really loved that the TH-ness was so disguised in that!

Thanks, Alan. Nice Sunday romp.

Mohair Sam 7:48 AM  

My wife works in an assisted living facility and I had to fill STEWEDPRUNES for her. Go figure.

Don't let the you-know-whats get you down Alan Arbesfeld. It was a fine puzzle. It lacked the Harry Potter/ current TV type gimme's that "young guns" fans lean on - hence their annoyance. And yes, "Food to go?" was a great and chuckle-worthy clue.

Jeez Rex, after your happy blog yesterday you've turned into a grouch - Austria-Hungary? Pick, pick, pick.

OTD 7:50 AM  

Are we running out of good puzzle fill?

This one seems old to me--I've seen this theme more than once in my puzzle solving career, so why again?

How much old crosswordese can we stand?

Anonymous 7:57 AM  

About the people who usually finish the puzzle in a minute-- I find it hilarious that anyone derives satisfaction from cheating in order to gain a high ranking in some anonymous online setting. Those folks are obviously in a competition to see who can copy (someone else's) solution from one device to another in the shortest time. And yeah, they're remarkably quick at it, but it's not a skill I find as impressive as, say, being able to do a puzzle on one's own. Anyway, obviously, the, figuring out how to cheat the rebus entries took them a few minutes. Hilarious!

retired_chemist 9:08 AM  

I don't do well on rebuses. This was no exception. The fill has its highlights (as pointed out by others) and lowlights (as pointed out by others). What does "Crunch Time" have to do with the theme? Abbreviated days of the week? Lame, IMO, if so.

Difficult here, but an OK puzzle. ANISTON before LEBLANC, Hand up for STEw PRUNES/BOw OUT before getting the theme at BETTY (FRI)EDAN.

The Ogden Nash poem is one of my favorites in that genre.

e.a. 9:36 AM  

yes

Carola 9:37 AM  

KEPT AT IT? Yes. NOT SURE? Often. ALL OK? Finally! I thought this was a great Sunday puzzle. I got the theme early, but even knowing, after MON and TUE, that I was looking for days of the week, I found it plenty challenging in spots.

Struggled in the OYER/HURL area, and Houdini's birthplace eluded me until the last, partly because I'd misspelled SMILEeS and was totally confused by the ENOL/LEON- URIS clue. And even knowing which of Nash's LAMAs is a priest, I looked at ONELL_ _ _ and wondered, "Father O'Nell...???" Anyway, just the right amount of work and fun for me in this one.

I liked all the commotion going on in the background with a SPATE of SPATS, TIRADES, French CRIS with an English CRY, and someone IN A STATE, perhaps having something to do with that HOT DOGS and STEWED PRUNES combo, both NONOS in my book.

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Really enjoyed it! Very medium, very engaging, very clever!

Tita 10:06 AM  

Psychipop- yesterday had read a syn-city post complaining about PIERROT as French pantomime character.

ASneeded fits the clue way better than ASSOONAS, which is fairly specific.

I'm almost always happy with puzzles, and adore a good rebus. This was actually hard for me - in fact, had to cheat to finish the area around the Austro-HUNGARian empire. Had BeD_, so was never gonna grok BUDAPEST.
I'm OLDLINE, but I never heard that term.

Thought STArOFDAVID, and wondered how that would work out with a time-related hint.
Also, was looking for hour/minute kinda time.
When I ask for a meeting suggestion, it's "give me some days/times that work for you"... I guess I can just say "Give me some times..."

Beautiful day here - off to pick some weed. (Tip o' the hat to chefbea?)

joho 10:18 AM  

I'm off for a walk but before I go I want to say that I liked this one. Probably because I love a rebus and also found this more difficult than usual for a Sunday, which I appreciate. I had to work at it.

Fun! Thanks, Alan!

ArtO 10:19 AM  

More med- chall to me. Have never seen ORIBIS before. Kudos to AA for a clever, tough Sunday. Loved GASCAP.

chefbea 10:30 AM  

Got the theme right away. Had trouble with 110 across. Loved stewed prunes!!

Was at Parris Island the last few days so no puzzling.

Now up to Ct. for a week. Can anyone e-mail me the PDF version this week since I don't think I can access it on my daughter's computer. Let me know

Sandy K 10:54 AM  

Was NOT SURE of the rebus til BETTY (FRI)EDAN. That helped me fill in the other days post HASTE.

I liked the theme answers tho crunching the days of the week seems OLD LINE.

Knew Houdini's birthplace- same as my grandmother's. I could still break out the HUNGARian, esp the NONOS, if the occasion AROSE.

Would've liked more ADORABLE clues eg Jobs in technology, George W acquisition, and Food to go?

Enjoyable, but easy OkapIS-y before ORIBIS-Y Sunday.

retired_chemist 10:57 AM  

Tita said - "Beautiful day here - off to pick some weed."

Thought you lived in CT, not CO. :-)

billocohoes 11:00 AM  

Austria-Hungary was a dual monarchy, Hungary was a kingdom for over 900 years. To complain about 'Budapest Hungary' is equivalent to insisting Rod Serling was born in Syracuse USA.

Erich Weisz (Harry Houdini) was born only a year after Buda and Pest merged into one city.

Norm 11:02 AM  

Cranky, cranky, cranky. This boomer had a good time. Thanks, Alan & Will.

David 11:18 AM  

The one-l lama,
He's a priest.
The two-l llama,
He's a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn't any
Three-l lllama.

-- Ogden Nash

Carola 11:32 AM  

@Sandy K - I thought today's acrostic was APTER than most, for us crossword-doers. Found it harder than most, though, too - feared for a while that I would "suffer humiliation" (from a clue) by not being able to finish.

Mohair Sam 11:32 AM  

@billocohoes: Yes, thank you. I have yet to meet anyone who claimed to be austro-hungarian.

As a former Syracusan I loved the Rod Serling example, btw.

Gill I. P. 11:40 AM  

This was a perfectly fine Alan Arbesfeld Sunday puzzle. And, I like his name.
Had no trouble figuring out his gimmick what with LEMONADE STANDS being my first entry. Like @LMS I've never seen it spelled ALMONDINE and spell check doesn't like it either. Even so, if we can have words like APNOEA, why not add a few new letters here and there...I GAS is a certain supermarket? NOSIREE, no STEWED PRUNES sold here, only HOT DOGS...
Off to gorge on guacamole, some TAPAS and lots of carne asada...Hapy Cinco de Mayo! ole ole..

chefbea 11:49 AM  

Be sure to check out the mother's day menu in the NYT magazine section. It includes a yummy salad!!!!!

JC66 12:21 PM  

Maybe it is an age thing, but I agree with @ Gill I. P. this is a fine puzzle.

I've only seen it spelled ALMONDINE and didn't understand the var. in the clue.

Sandy K 12:57 PM  

@Carola
You finished already?! I'm having trouble with this one. Don't want to google...
Oooh the pressure!!

sallie 1:07 PM  

Enjoy rebus puzzles and liked this one a lot. Disclaimer: I am old tho.

retired_chemist 1:23 PM  

I too have only seen ALMONDINE, and Google doesn't indicate another spelling. What do those of you who think this is a variant spelling believe the real spelling is?

Sandy K 1:40 PM  

@Carola
Whew! Just finished...I had trouble A-PLENTY spelling D. and E.
cuz I'm no W.

Very apropos quotation for us! Don't know if constuctors would agree about the 'not about anything' part. : )

chefbea 1:59 PM  

From Allrecipes.com:

amandine The French term meaning "garnished with almonds." It's often misspelled "almondine."

retired_chemist 2:13 PM  

Thanks, @chefbea. I finally made Google ask if I meant amandine trout when I asked for almondine trout. Reverse the words, and no dice. Go figure.

Anoa Bob 2:40 PM  

I know I should have KEPTATIT, but that passel of POC's (Plural Of Convenience) coming out of the gate in the NW ATEINTO my resolve and I BOWEDOUT. To wit:

SPATS, SALOONS, OCTADS, ORIBIS(!), NONOS, and even a theme entry POC at LEMONADESTANDS.

Oh well, it could have been worse. Instead of ORIBIS, we could have been affronted with the likes of ANOAS. So I guess in the end it was ALLOK.

triggerfinger 3:03 PM  

Thanks you David for the one-l lama poem...saved me a google.
Enjoyed the puzzle alot.

Carola 3:21 PM  

@Sandy K - Yes, a workout for sure. Compounded for me by what seemed to be a high level of brain OPACITY, as in thinking for the longest time that D was the hero in a cape with an S on his chest, instead of the writer--that I even used to teach once in a while!

Anonymous 3:45 PM  

Too bad it couldn't have somehow been BOWEL'ED OUT.

jordan.wright 4:10 PM  

What the blast is USLAS @ 106 Down?

Bob Kerfuffle 4:12 PM  

@jordan.wright - It's one of the rebus answers: U. S. Atlas, with 50 pages, one for each state - a just barely plausible answer!

chefbea 4:13 PM  

@jordan.wright uSATlas...U.S. atlas. the sat is from the across

jordan.wright 4:28 PM  

Y'all are too kind.

Doctor Colonel Mark 4:39 PM  

I thought that it was a rule not to include debatable political questions as clues. 52 across? Tried to make Kenya fit. Oahu hasn't been proven and it's a question to leave to historians. Leave it out of the puzzle.

Sandy K 4:40 PM  

@Carola- LOL at 'mental picture of' D. Me too!

Working backward from grid was the only way I got that, V, first-half of U, and who knew that G was a verb?

michael 4:46 PM  

I liked it and had to work a bit at it. Not the first time I've disagreed with Rex and certainly won't be the last.

sanfranman59 6:04 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)
Wed 11:36, 10:07, 1.15, 83%, Challenging
Thu 19:51, 17:17, 1.15, 75%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 15:06, 21:35, 0.70, 7%, Easy
Sat 23:01, 25:19, 0.91, 30%, Easy-Medium
Sun 34:19, 29:29, 1.16, 84%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:59, 3:44, 1.07, 82%, Challenging
Tue 4:08, 4:47, 0.86, 8%, Easy
Wed 7:18, 5:59, 1.22, 93%, Challenging
Thu 11:18, 10:01, 1.13, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 9:18, 12:19, 0.75, 11%, Easy
Sat 13:20, 15:22, 0.87, 24%, Easy-Medium
Sun 23:30, 19:58, 1.18, 78%, Medium-Challenging

jberg 6:30 PM  

A struggle for me, up into medium/challenging. beRAtES before TIRADES, noel before URIS (I misread the clue, thought we wanted the first name there). And SMILieS before SMILEYS. Worse, I finished with an error -- had ORyxeS, than figured ORIxeS must be a variant. Just before coming here I figured out that BOWED OUT was a lot better than xOWED OUT -- but somehow that kept me from seeing that OYER was better than OvER, so I ended up with ISPV for 32D, finishing with an error.

PABSTS was really a stretch for 'Blue Ribbons and others.' I guess they did make some other beers, but I've never heard of them -- and I grew up 100 miles from Milwaukee.

I still enjoyed it, just feel bad about the error.

lawprof 8:44 PM  

About 90% of the way through I was running late for another engagement, so had to lay it aside and pick it up this afternoon.

Caught the theme early (at STATUE OF DAVID). I assumed that the abbreviated days of the week were (1) in order and (2) symmetrically placed, which helped with the fill. But still found it slow going in the Pacific Northwest because I couldn't locate MON and WED for the longest time. Had to slide them back and forth and up and down before they fell into place - and then it was like, "doh."

Had CHOO choo before PUTT putt, which induced some SMILEYS.

Really enjoyed this one (which I found challenging) despite being naticked at AILEi/SiD. Just guessed wrong.

momdabomb 10:28 PM  

I'm an old boomer who's fairly new to puzzling - so I loved solving it! Maybe you longtimers have "seen this before" but I sure haven't and it was a thrill to me to finish it. I feel kind of sorry for some of you who seem so jaded - not many puzzles can measure up to your high standards. I've learned a lot reading this blog but maybe i'd better stop reading it before I get so good that the thrill is gone...

David 10:31 PM  

Hungary was separated from Austria before Houdini was born. They shared a ruling family but had separate legislatures and were legally separate entities.

Anonymous 12:12 AM  

When I was in medical school I learned that fade county Florida had the highest per capita prunen consumption in the world
A

LingerGalthrope 11:31 AM  

Not give a rap?

I've heard of not give a rip, but not give a rap sounds like it's made up or it's out of a Victorian novel.

C'mon!

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

My first thought was that everything would contain UN from crunch. I like rebuses but this was frustrating. Caught on with goesundercover since I start at the end.hated not give a rap. Should be crap.apnoea gave me a headache as did esne, mres, soo canals, beastie.and no one in Brooklyn would say nosiree.fuhgeddaboudit.and stewed prunes was a stretch for anyone under 85.

Spacecraft 11:33 AM  

GOSH! I DECLARE! This baby was tough But take a pill, @Rex, it wasn't THAT bad. Casting about for a foothold, I finally got under way in the NE, with ONEON and LABFEE, which led to the first of MY rebi, TUE. And figuring it was the second long across, the rest of the days would show up in order. Thankfully I was right on that.

From there it went clockwise, down the east and back across the south, etc. The north central was brutal, and the last to fall. "Turning point at the station?" for GASCAP is a SAT. clue for sure, and it took me too long to think of the xwordese OCTADS; I was trying to work "eights" in there, obviously without success. A nit here to pick: "Start to give trouble to" does not lead, IMO, to ACTUPON. Surely not parsed as "act upon," but even if it's "act up on," I still frown deeply. I've never heard of "acting up on" anybody; the offender simply acts up. Bad clue.

And why is ALMONDINE a "var."? That's how it appears on the menu: "trout almondine." I've never seen an alternate spelling. What's with the "var."? Oh, and SALOONS: uh, didn't those fellers take their gunfights outside, mostly? Could you shoot "High Noon" inside a saloon?

OK, last nit: an ogre might be a BEASTIE to Mr. Burns and compatriots, but not to a kid. I don't believe I've ever heard a kid say "BEASTIE--" and I don't think I ever will.

These matters aside, I did enjoy the solve, despite one too many STATES in the NE. Loved the SCHMOS gobbling down the KNISHES. And that great "Mission: Impossible" word, DISAVOW.

This blog will self-destruct in five seconds.

Dirigonzo 5:25 PM  

When I read the title I made a mental note that a rebus was possible; unfortunately I totally forgot about it when I got fully involved in the solving process and none of the "crunched" answers was so obvious that it jumped out at me. I was about an hour into the puzzle and starting to get a headache when VIR[TUE]S proved to be "Good qualities" in the literal sense by reminding me of the title and the rebus. Knowing what letter sets I was looking for and where to look was a big help.

@Spacecraft - I was going to go for a walk but my ankle started to act up on me, so I stayed home.

Unknown 2:44 PM  

Thank you, jackj. Rex annoyed me AGAIN.

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