1960 #1 Brenda Lee hit / TUE 6-11-13 / Six-sided randomizer / Czech Republic river / Pong purveyor / Got it in radio lingo / Watch with old slogan Modern Masters of Time / World capital whose name means victorious

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Constructor: Peter Muller

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (again, as with yesterday's puzzle, just a touch tougher than your average for this day of the week)

THEME: MIXED BAGS (62A: Assortments ... or what you'll find in 17-, 25-, 30-, 44- and 50-Across) — one of each of the permutations (or "mixes") of the letters BAG (excluding BAG itself) can be found broken across the grid's two-word (or, in the case of CRABGRASS, compound-word) theme answers

Word of the Day: ERGOT (29A: Plant fungus) —
Ergot or ergot fungi refers to a group of fungi of the genus Claviceps.[1] The most prominent member of this group is Claviceps purpurea. This fungus grows on rye and related plants, and produces alkaloids that can cause ergotism in humans and other mammals who consume grains contaminated with its fruiting structure (called ergotsclerotium).[2][3] Claviceps includes about 50 known species, mostly in the tropical regions. Economically significant species include C. purpurea (parasitic on grasses and cereals), C. fusiformis (on pearl millet, buffel grass), C. paspali (on dallis grass), and C. africana[4] (on sorghum). C. purpurea most commonly affects outcrossing species such as rye (its most common host), as well as triticalewheat and barley. It affects oatsonly rarely. (wikipedia)
• • •

A tight, if unexciting theme, not noticeable at all until until post-solve reflection. This is a straight-over-the-plate, solid puzzle, with bonus points for including every possible permutation of BAG in the theme answers. My first trouble spot today was the NE, where I misspelled LAPIS (with a "U" instead of an "I"), couldn't see LET ME GO (9D: Prisoner's plaint) or IN SIN (12D: Living ___), and thought N.Y.C.'s Columbus ___ was going to be something was less obvious (SQR?). I was just lucky to remember ERGOT (29A: Plant fungus), a word that blew up one of my puzzles in the early blogging days, and thus a word I have never forgotten. My other trouble spot was BIG BANDS. The trouble was partly that I was looking for a much more specific answer—some group, with a name, like Bill Halley's COMETS or Buddy Holly's CRICKETS—and partly because I'd written in ZEE instead of ZED at 35D: Final section of the OED, which mean I had BIG -ANES. Nearly went with MAAED (45D: Bleated) and BIG MANES, then caught sight of the ZEE problem (which I had mentally flagged earlier as a possible mistake), and fixed it, and thus finished. Didn't immediately know "I'M SORRY" (before my time, though I know the tune) (28D: 1960 #1 Brenda Lee hit) and thought ZENO (59D: Paradoxical Greek) might be spelled with an "X" for some reason (like the phobia?), but everything else was reasonably smooth. Time was in the 3:40s somewhere—a bit high for a Tuesday, but only a bit.

Heaven 17 - Let Me Go

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Reason for rehab (DRUG ABUSE)
  • 25A: Trail (LAG BEHIND)
  • 30A: Darts and snooker (PUB GAMES)
  • 44A: Sinatra backers, sometimes (BIG BANDS)
  • 50A: Groundskeeper's bane (CRABGRASS)
My main complaint on this one is the cluing, which is quite dull. Very straightforward, not a lot to it. Notable exceptions include the clues on CAIRO (60A: World capital whose name means "victorious"), and, to a lesser extent, SEIKO (52D: Watch with the old slogan "Modern Masters of Time").

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Evan 12:12 AM  

I had the BIG BANES/ZEE problem too. With OED I just thought, "Oh. Dictionary. Last section is ZEE." The perils of not reading the clue completely -- or maybe my latent bias for 'Murica.

I'd put this on the easier side for my Tuesdays, though. Didn't really see the theme at all but everything felt straightforward enough that I didn't get held up that much, except for the clue on I'M SORRY.

If I'm not mistaken, this is the same constructor who does Monthly Music Metas. I took my first shot at his latest one and unfortunately got humbled by it. Very clever the way it was designed.

jae 12:18 AM  

Medium for me and a tad more meh than yesterday's.   Plus I had a typo that took forever to see BATMAM.  I may go back to doing Mon. and Tues. on paper instead of the iPad.  I seem to be more error prone on a hunt and peck keyboard.


Stuff gleaned "only from crosswords": HOSEA, ERGOT, ONE O

There have been better Tuesdays.

travis 12:55 AM  

i got ZED, but tried SIs for SIB...

Benko 12:59 AM  

Thought it was easy except for ALANA Davis, who probably wrote some famous songs, but I don't know.
Read a good book about ZENO's paradoxes of motion, so that was in my wheelhouse.
TAGALOG and PERDITION were nice fill.

chefwen 2:17 AM  

11D was the one that caused me the most trouble I had Purgatory which I thought was perfect but went nowhere. Everything else, I whizzed through. Except ALANA Davis, that was obtained through crosses. Like @Benko had never heard of her. Will have to Google to get educated.

Good one Pete, liked it a lot.

One of my capchas is COOK'S, it's what I do.

Andre Corea Mixedbags 2:56 AM  

OK, ITSON, who is ALANA Davis????!

I got the ZED, but I had SIs instead of SIB, so couldn't see BIGBANDS either.

You had to have a British bent today to put in ZED instead of ZEe, and PUB instead of bar.
If you have barGAMES, then you think the clue for Conan starts with R, as in Redhead-er...

Very impressive that @Pete Muller got in 6 BAGS and all variations... I mean, wow! Who would have thought there would be words with the combos BGA, GBA, AGB that are nice clear unmangled phrases AND be the right amount of letters!!!!

@Rex, I too thought xENO, which was AKIN to a NONO.

r.alphbunker 3:20 AM  

Great revealer. I wonder if MIXED NUTS has been done.

You don't see TAGALOG very often. Here is how to pronounce it

Evan 3:58 AM  


MIXED NUTS has been done as a theme in the NYT twice, once in February 2008 and once in January 2009. The latter is the analog to this puzzle.

Gareth Bain 4:40 AM  
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Gareth Bain 4:42 AM  

Expertly realised puzzle with interesting answers theme and non!

Here's a Black-Eyed Peas song that's partly in Tagalog:

The APL Song

loren muse smith 6:32 AM  

Rex – your “big manes” made me laugh out loud!

After I changed “pergatory” (sic, stet?) to PERDITION (morning, @chefwen), and after TAGALOG fell, I started doing mental checks that, yes, it’s Tuesday. Despite those and the other fill mentioned, I had the same experience as @Evan and finished this with only a couple of hiccoughs:

sig band BIG BAND – me, too, Acme
xeno ZENO – with Rex and Acme
Miles ALANA – @Benko , @Acme, @jae, or @chefwen – anyone put that?
Liane LIANA- I was wondering why they didn’t clue it for Ms. Hansen

@Gareth- thanks for that clip. I enjoyed it. My first exposure to TAGALOG and Filipinos was in Alaska when I worked in a salmon cannery. I found them to be so warm and friendly, always smiling, even though they usually had the ickiest job there.

I didn’t fall into the “zee” trap; since it’s British and since I think I recently put ZED when it should have been “zee,” I immediately put ZED. I have that condensed unABRIDGEd version of the OED , and it’s one of my most prized possessions and I’m not crowing about that because I’m trying to pass myself off as some erudite OED owner but rather because I think that magnifying glass is NEAT and because it’s so NEAT that “nice” used to mean “foolish.”

Speaking of which, if words in the OED come to life and horse around while we’re asleep, I bet PEW gets snickered at a lot. It’s just a funny word.

I’ve said before – I cannot bring myself to say, “Pass me the DIE.” It makes me feel the same kind of silly as when I say something like, “Whom did you see at the mall?” I don’t care if it’s only one, Mom. Pass me the damn dice.

I just said last week – I’m starting to WARM TO anagrams. (SEIKO and SKIED are so close!)
PERDITION Diet or nip? If I had the money, I would most assuredly nip. I’M SORRY.
LET ME GO Ego melt. Memories of Kick the Can. I hardly *ever* got caught.

Nice job, Pete Muller, aka El Pert Mule, ATTABOY! Salamat po!

Z 7:25 AM  

Let us see how I made this hard on myself... barGAMES, RErun, xENO, DRUG a doSE (don't ask), and -----mole (Bill Murray is my groundskeeper). No mistake at ZED, though, so there is that.

Wrote in the incorrect -mole and wondered if whac-a- would pan out. Too bad.

I haven't sat in a PEW in years but HOSEA was still a gimme. Don't correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure ALANA was involved. Or maybe it was EDAM and EVA? I'm no ZEALOT, ERGOT, you may want to excuse me while I kiss the SKIED.

Thoracic 7:31 AM  

Liked this a lot. ZEE/ZED got me for a while. Had IMSO... For the song title and confidently popped in the rest as SAD, though I don't think I've ever heard of either song, so had some backtracking to do there. Can any one explain the ONEO in front of cat? I get one o'clock but O'CAT? Is this some Irish breed I'm unfamiliar with? Sure and begorrah, I'll be gettin the youngsters an O'Cat.

John V 7:37 AM  

Wanted ___GRUBS for 50A, so was stuck there until I realized it was ____GRASS. South pretty hard, XIN not the prettiest thing.

Just realized I had BANE instead of NONO, so screwed up the South pretty bad.

Challenging for a Tuesday.

Milford 7:40 AM  

Well, another harder than average puzzle day for me. Hand up for SIs before SIB and ZEe before ZED to give me a backup group called the sIGBANeS.

Thought maybe ZEus was the Greek in question, but it made the Texas area a mess.

Yesterday we had RLESS, today we flipped the unlikely letter pairs to LRON.

Liked BARBARIAN and ZEALOT. Didn't know TAGALOG.

Theme/reveal was hardly of help here, but it's a cool idea to get all possible combos.

Conrad 7:57 AM  

@Thoracic, I like the Irish feline interpretation of one-o'-cat, but sadly it's just a game somewhat similar to baseball (or base-ball). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Cat


dk 8:05 AM  

sIGBAND according to some YARNs is…. never mind.

Archetypical Tuesday: not too soft not too hard, but hardly just right.

The bane of my gardening existence is creeping charlie, give me ERGOT and CRABGRASS any day. Click on my little picture and send me any elimination ideas short of silent spring.

🎏🎏 (2 Carp Streamers) Just because.

Susan McConnell 8:08 AM  

ONE O'clock? Ok. But what the heck is ONE O Cat??? Or am I reading it wrong?

Thoracic 8:17 AM  

@conrad, thanks for the link. Best fact in the explanation was that you can get the runner out by whipping the ball at them and hitting them. Now THAT'S a sport!! In the same vein, I always thought golf would be more interesting if there were a goalie...

joho 8:28 AM  

I, too, had bar before PUB and sIs before BIG plus Edema before ERGOT.

I thought it funny to see ABRIDGE next to OED which ends with a ZED.

Loved learning how to pronounce TAGALOG today as I just recently learned that TAGALOG is my art director's first language. He speaks English impeccably and I believe also knows some Mandarin Chinese. Very interesting and super-talented guy. BTW I always see it a TAGALOnG first.

Dense theme, well done, Pete!

joho 8:30 AM  

"see it as TAGALOnG first."

jberg 8:38 AM  

Easy for me -- except for RErun before REAIR, and putting in the B of bar before noticing that it was probably PUB, everything went right in - I even remembered that tennis player's name somehow.

Xenophobia is being afraid of foreign things; ZENOphobia is being afraid of paradoxes, right?

I noticed the theme, in the sense of "hmm -- ABG in various combinations, how odd..." but didn't realize that they were MIXED BAGS until the revealer.

But I have to say (and don't get me wrong, I'm an atheist myself) that I am shocked by the decline in knowledge of religion, when solvers know the names of OT books only from crosswords, or think that Purgatory is the same as Hell. Anyway, I believe that Purgatory was abolished by Vatican II (along with Limbo); no one is sure what happened to the souls that were in them at the time.

Thanks for the clip, @Gareth, I really liked it.

B Donohue 8:52 AM  


I had all the hiccups, laggard tiles as Rex. Every single one. Granted, he finished in 3 minutes and me in 14 minutes, but it is reaffirming to know that my hold-ups were the same as his.

This is a great blog. It is a perfect way to start my morning as I arrive at work.

Thank you, Rex!!

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

Puzzle okay, theme revealer a yawn.

Mark 9:26 AM  

How embarrassing is it that I had NO-- filled in for "Something to avoid" and went with NOID?

mac 9:29 AM  

Good puzzle, some great words, my favorite "Perdition". Only nit that you don't see the plural of mixed bag a lot in the real world.

I also stalled at the Prisoner's plaint, didn't think he would want to get in. Although just before Christmas, some petty criminals in Holland tried to be incarcerated for a warm, comfortable, well-catered holiday meal.

Thanks for the Tagalog song, Gareth.

ArtO 9:33 AM  

Rating is on the mark for a Tuesday. Early week puzzle withTAGALOG, ONEO, ZENO, LIANA, ALANA and late week type cluing is not "easy."

Nice to see Brenda Lee get a nod. Old enough to have the tune come to mind.

Rob C 9:36 AM  

Crunchy Tuesday. Of course I made it difficult on myself with writeovers all over the place including barGAMES for PUBGAMES, take TO for WARM TO, juNO for ZENO and Columbus cir (circle) for AVE.

Great fill. Adequate theme. Straightforward clues

From Dictionary.com for those who had never heard of it (including me) -
one old cat - a form of baseball in which there is a home plate and one other base, and in which a player remains at bat and scores runs by hitting the ball and running to the base and back without being put out. (Also, one o' cat)

For the MadMen fans, Rex had a pic of Betty the other day, could have had ROGER today.

chefbea 9:55 AM  

Tougher than the usual Tuesday. Hand up for zee and bar.

Thought Tagalog would be WOD

@Susan I think One'o cat is a game. Learned it from Xwords

Susan McConnell 9:59 AM  

Oh great, an old timey baseball clue. *yawn*

Jonathan 10:04 AM  

In that album cover photo Sinatra looks like he's asking people to dance, the people being children in a school yard.

jackj 10:09 AM  

Blandness often rears its balding head and today we’re exposed to unexciting theme entries like LAGBEHIND, PUBGAMES and BIGBANDS, but in turn we’re treated to some interesting fill like BARBARIAN, PERDITION, CLUING and LETMEGO but, too bad, on balance those good fill entries aren’t enough to make the puzzle more than a MIXEDBAG(S).

But, of course, today is Tuesday and, no surprise, we have another unsatisfying Tuesday puzzle so some syllogizing seems in order (specious though it may be):

Tuesday puzzles are blah.
Today’s puzzle is blah.
Today is Tuesday.

Or, the less fun:

Tuesday puzzles are blah.
Today is Tuesday.
Today’s puzzle is blah.

On to Wednesday.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

One o cat sounds like a variation of cricket.

44 got me as I had a G for gig bands, which are the pick up bands used in each location when on tour - and sig as the abbreviation for significant other ie close relationship.

Eric 10:16 AM  
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Eric 10:19 AM  


"I'M SORRY, ANDRE, YER going to DIE!"

"NO! NOooooo!"

Bob Kerfuffle 10:25 AM  

I thought "Braun who married Hitler" was an odd choice for cluing 37 A, despite being a gimme. If you didn't want to enlist actresses like Mendez or Longoria, there is always "Brief spacewalk." Why bring Hitler into it?

evil doug 10:29 AM  

Because it's history, it's factual, it's different--and there is no breakfast test.

For that matter, why bring Longoria into it?


Gill I. P. 10:57 AM  

I personally think what makes for a good Tuesday is the cluing.
I like this just fine except for maybe AVE EVA UVA (UVA means grape in Spanish)and there are some good entries - BARBARIAN (read every single one of those books) and PERDITION but as @Rex and @jackj mention, the clues just fall a bit flat.
I mean "something to avoid" = NONO? huh? "Challenge accepted!" = ROGER? PEW.....

Bob Kerfuffle 11:06 AM  

@Gill I. P. -- ~ May not change your opinion, but you have confused 55 D, ROGER, with 56 D, IT'S ON! ~

Ernesto Arguello 11:08 AM  

"For that matter, why bring Longoria into it? "

Really? Hitler or Longoria - I'm going with Longoria every time.

Gill I. P. 11:09 AM  

@B Kerfuffle - YIKES...They're both bad....;-)

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

I guess I'm the only one who objects to eins being the answer for "__, zwei, drei..."? If you use the word, one, as a noun it's eins; if it's an adjective as in counting, it's ein.

Correct or no?

Two Ponies 11:46 AM  

Not too many stumbles but a solid, if a bit bland, puzzle.
I too was looking for something or someone more specific than big bands. My boss has that Sinatra cover on his wall and I agree with someone posting earlier that it's a creepy picture. Want some candy little girl?
Had a little trouble parsing the Brenda Lee song. I thought it was
I'm so ___ sad?

Carola 12:14 PM  

Nice puzzle! Agree with those who thought it was a somewhat tougher Tuesday. I needed the reveal - which I thought was great - to help me finish the NE, where all I had was LAPIS and Pandemonium - which unfortunately didn't fit.

I liked all the "extra" Bs and Gs we got - TAGALOG, TUGBOAT, ABRIDGE. Also liked BARBARIAN facing off against PERDITITION, which is what they often brought, I think.

I join @loren in being a big OED fan. I also have the book set with the magnifying glass, which these days I use more for deciphering other fine print, since I have access to the online version. Mark of a word dork - I consider this one of the main perks of being a university retiree. I especially love the extensive citations that show usage going back for centuries. Fantastic.

@Anonymous 11:20 - The German counting words are "eins, zwei, drei,..." but "I have only one book" is "Ich habe nur ein Buch." If "one" is used as a pronoun, as in "Do you have one?" the ending for "ein" will show gender (masc., fem., neuter) and case (subject, object). That tended to be where my students would throw in the towel.

Tita 12:35 PM  

Two puzzles for me - the first, about 70%, was just wonderful - I thought every clue and/or answer was so fabulous! Was realy enjoying myself.
The remainder, though, was dull and annoying.
Hmmm...for the remainder, I was sitting in a doctor's waiting room, immensely annoyed by the EON it was talking all of us to be seen.
So sorry, Mr. Muller...I don't think it was really your fault...!

I spent some time in the Philippines - learned about 3 words of TAGALOG. Beautiful place, kind, friendly folks.

@Thoracic - o'lol!
I never heard of ONEO cat either...

Hand up for creepiness of that Sinatra covre. Never wasa a fan. That image immediately freaked me out - a very early memory is of the Santa in the Bloomingdale's basement seeing me, and beckoning me over with that same glint, and that same finger...

Thank you, Mãe, for not being the kind of mom that pushes there terrified kids into the lap of some stranger, no matter how jolly!

(Now I wasn't an atheist then, mind you, I certainly believed in him, but I don't think I accepted his minions in the department stores as legitimate.)

PuzSpouse is in the kitchen as we speak making LEEK, potatoe, shrimp, and crab soup...

Ellen S 12:49 PM  

Thanks for the German lesson, @Carola. I'm afraid I won't remember it, but that answer didn't give me any trouble, anyway, thanks to my corruption of the Kerfuffle Principle, which I will now restate as, if it looks like the answer is anything like the correct one, and it fits, it's probably right. So, EINe, EIN, EINS, whatever letters you need, put them in. I did a puzzle once with GASPAR clued as one of the Magi. Who knew? Some names you can spell any old whichway if they make the grid work.

So, I did not finish. I mean, quit halfway--not Mr. Muller's fault; I was enjoying it. Started last night around 10:30 PDT, and couldn't bring up @r.alph's Gridfinger version. So, okay, I started it in AcrossLite and it was going along fine, but I fell asleep. This morning, AcrossLite won't recognize my external keyboard and I hate dabbing at those little letters on the side; it wouldn't bring up the internal keyboard either. The Gridfinger version was available by then so I could have just started over, but when I reached toward the screen it was acting hypersensitive, putting random marks in the squares, probably because I was already somewhat out of patience.

So I came here. @Jberg -- what you said. I'm a Jewish atheist, even if I were a believer, we don't have hell (but the orthodox rabbi father of my best friend in college told us when we asked about it, "Don't worry about it, we have a place for people like you two.") But I knew PERDITION. And I knew ERGOT from an episode of Ghost Whisperer where some ghosts from the Salem witch trials explained that they had been hallucinating because they had eaten ERGOT-contaminated rye. I know One O'Cat (though I didn't get that far in today's puzzle) as standard crosswordese. It does sound rather like cricket - a game even more boring than baseball, but apparently with better-fitting uniforms (or politer players--anyway, less underwear-adjusting).

@Evil, I like the way you think. But I don't know if you should take that as a compliment, given that I've just admitted to watching Ghost Whisperer.

Anoa Bob 12:55 PM  

I was living in the Philippines in 1986 when Marcos was overthrown by Corazon Aquino's People Power Revolution. So TAGALOG was a gimme.

There are many languages in the Philippine Islands, but only two are the officially recognized ones. TAGALOG is one. The other, also seven letters, is.......

It's taught in the public schools and everywhere you go, most folks will speak some English, and many will be perfectly fluent.

Loren, I share your impression of Filipinos as being warm and friendly. They typically have a positive, up-beat attitude, even when there's little material reason for being so.

Masked and Anonymo4Us 1:18 PM  

Pretty darn kewl. And a refreshing workout. fave fillins:BATMAN, ZEALOT, IMSORRY (Brenda Lee!) fave weeject: YER.

Wonder if that Pete mUller dude would consider a [something]bUgs puz? Or how'bout a MIXUPS one? Would also accept a MUDDLED MUUMUUS Sunday-sized dealy.

News release: "Fresh from his 15x15 no-black-squares, super-fresh-fill crossword masterpiece, the artist also known as M&A is rumored close to inking a gigantic puzzle book deal with Signon & Shooter. Working title for the non-awaited anthology is 'M&A Smokes the Crosswords' with working subtitle 'But Does Not Inhale'.

When asked for a hint at what else might be in store, M&A mused that the logical next step would be a 15x15 puzzle with no white squares..."

Bird 1:23 PM  

Finished in relatively good time. Only speed bump was in the SE region. I had LIKE at 65A, which gave me *EEO for 59D. Didn’t know ALANA or the term ONE O’CAT. Then ZEALOT popped into view and all was good.

Liked 11D next to 12D.

Only other write-over was BAR GAMES before immediately changing it to PUB GAMES as not too many BARS have snooker tables.

Lewis 1:27 PM  

Pete, you almost did something I don't ever remember seeing. Going from the NW to the SE corner it is all vowels except... for the last letter.

evil doug 1:51 PM  

Elaine and Puddy have gone to see a priest, Father Curtis.

Father Curtis: Let me see if I understand this. You're concerned that he isn't concerned that you're going to hell. And you feel that she's too bossy.

Elaine and Puddy: Yeah, that's right.

Father Curtis: Well, oftentimes in cases of inter-faith marriages, couples have difficulty--

Elaine (Interrupting): Whoa, whoa, whoa! No one's getting married here.

Father Curtis: You aren't?

Puddy: No.

Elaine: We're just, you know, having a good time.

Father Curtis: Oh, well then it's simple. You're both going to hell.

Puddy: No way, this is bogus, man!

Acme 1:54 PM  

I know, ONE O CAT is freaky... I first considered OrEO!

I thought there might be an OREO cat, who was black and white! There must be at least ONE crossword enthusiast who has a cat named OREO!

Carola 1:58 PM  

@Ellen S - I've had that same problem with AcrossLite not recognizing my external keyboard. Here's the fix that works for me: Turn the iPad vertically (I guess that's "portrait"-wise). A little keyboard picture will at the bottom of the screen. Touch it. Return the iPad to horizontal ("landscape, I think), and the external keyboard should work. I'm full of lessons today :) (Hope this one will work!)

LaneB 2:33 PM  

Lot of stuff I didn't know here and had to grind through. Used Google only to check my answers to avoid erasures ( actually I use a pen. ) Using PURGATORY really fouled things up for awhile but eventually I figured that it simply couldn't be right. Besides purgatory isn't supposed to be hell, just a stopping off place where one can burn his or her fanny off.

I also had sIGBANeS until I finally said "DUh!" And squared it away. Didn't notice the scrambled a', b's and g's until readings Rex

Pretty tough for a Tuesday by my lights. As a finisher I surely do LAGBEHIND.

Sandy K 3:20 PM  

My father's parents and 5 sisters and brothers were brutally murdered during the Holocaust.

My mother's only young brother was shot point blank in concentration camp.

My parents survived because they hid in a bunker for 2 years.

They suffered, and were never the same. Even after moving to America, they could never utter his name.

So excuse me if I prefer Longoria.

Anonymous 3:22 PM  

one o' cat??? Wonder how many folks have heard of that!

Top Cat 3:45 PM  

@Anonymous, 3:22 PM - Only every cool cat who has been doing crosswords for more than six months!

sanfranman59 3:48 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 8:12, 8:13, 1.00, 51%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:00, 4:54, 1.02, 57%, Medium

evil doug 3:50 PM  


Let me try to remain sensitive to your personal story, but still elaborate on the position I take on words.

While I would never question your desire to avoid being reminded of that horrible inhumanity, the fact is that if we try to anticipate every possible bad connotation a word may cause then eventually the grids might simply dry up because so many terms could raise similar emotions in each of us.

Let's look at just today's puzzle as an example:

'drug abuse' ("My sister died on the streets after a heroin overdose....")

'NOLA' ("My family's home was destroyed in the hurricane...")

'pub games' ("I'm a recovering alcoholic, so I don't see any humor in the connection of bars and games....")

'ergot' ("We lost our farm to creditors when our crops were lost to plant disease....")

'barbarian', 'perdition', 'die', 'steed', 'let me go', 'on edge', 'lag behind', 'eins' (perhaps another one that got to you?), even 'ameba'-caused deaths---I can come up with some scenario where each of those might offend someone.

My solution? To trust that they're not in the puzzle with malicious intent; to understand that the same terms (like Hitler) often have cause to appear in the other sections of the newspaper; and to allow myself to quietly, briefly take a moment to suffer the awful memory that some term might cause me--and then remind myself that it's just a puzzle, and they're just words, and I'm not going to let myself be held prisoner by them.

I'm sorry about your family's experience, and nothing I say here is meant to trivialize that. My father-in-law won't buy a German car because he flew B-24 bombers over Europe and saw many of his comrades die there. Me? I drive a VW....


David from CA 3:53 PM  

1st 8 down clues:
person's name
person's name
actual English word
language name
river name
partial wine designation
prophet's name
actual English phrase

THIS is "solid puzzle" ?!? Gag me.

Has any umpire in the history of BB ever said "YER OUT!"? Don't they just say "OUT!", or jerk their thumb back over their shoulder and don't say anything for that matter?

retired_chemist 4:06 PM  

Basically easy but I DNF. Had SIs for 33D and coud. not. find. my error. Even though sIGBANDS made no sense I had to check all letters, find where the error was, and go "D'oh!" My brain hurts.

Not exciting but good theme use - working all 6 permutations of BAG deserves kudos. Would like 24D to be clued as "One who sang "Desperado."

I thought ERGOT was one of the fungi that attacked grapes, but I can't find it via Google. Anyway in France they put rose bushes at the end of each row of grapevines because they are more sensitive that the grapes to such funguses. Sort of a canary in a mine thing.....

Thanks, Mr. Muller.

Anonymous 4:18 PM  

Again, an easy puzzle for me. I did it in around 10 minutes using only the across clues. Figured out the theme after "pub games". Had a bit of trouble inferring some of the down words, wanted to make it "Barbara Ann" instead of "barbarian" but of course it didn't fit. "Catalog" instead of "Tagalog". etc.
I don't have exact time because I don't do the puzzle online, rather the old school ink-and-newspaper. I liked this one because it had little "crosswordese" or made-up abbreviations. -skeptic53

Tita 4:37 PM  

@acme - our own @JenCT has an OREO cat!
He is a tuxedo cat, of course. I have two, but never thought about the name OREO - plus, I rescued them before I was at this level of puzzle obsession.
(I didn't use a TUGBOAT, though. Actually, I don't much think of a tug as a rescue boat - more as a guide the huge unmaneuverable ship into/outa tight spots, but, yes, they certainly do rescue whenever called upon to do so, as would a nearby catamaran...)

As long as I'm back, let me apologize for the dumb errors in my earlier post that I did not feel merited a post letting y'all know that I do indeed know my possesives, etc.

LEEK soup was delish, by the by.

Anonymous 4:42 PM  

Plenty of odpadky today, dem bad crossings


And most egregiously:

So lots of obscure fill. So what?
Here's what we get in return
- Unusual word forms + duplicate prefixes (RENAME, REAIR)
- Third-grade Partials(INSIN, ONEO)
- Variant word forms (AMEBA)
- Plural names EDS
- Foreign EINS
- Only seen in crosswords ZED and XIN
- Obscurities SEIKO, ZENO, ALANA, LAPIS (I think), EDAM, ERGOT, STEED......yikes!

Five stinkballs for this one I'm afraid. Too much crap, not enough Tuesday stuff.

Nameless 4:46 PM  

@David from CA -

person's name: well-known name and person
person's name: not as common, but gettable from crosses (that's how these things work)
actual English word: easy
language name: not quite as easy, but gettable from crosses
river name: well-known
partial wine designation: no problem
prophet's name: gettable
actual English phrase: easy

I don't see any problems

Anonymous 5:12 PM  

ANDRE AGASSI is fairly well known, but he's no Obama or Lady Gaga. More fuel for the NOLA fire (see below)
COREA: Nola's obscure
TAGALOG: Nola's obscure, OBIE's obscure
ELBE: Not as common as you seem to think. Recent flood's a bonus, that's all it's got going for it. See LRON as well.
CRU: See obscurity LRON.

Anonymous 5:13 PM  

I use the word obscure very loosely here to represent anything that less than 30% of the population doesn't know.

Anonymous 5:25 PM  

"of the population knows"

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

If anyone thinks EDAM and STEED are obscure,
then they might as well not bother solving
any crossword puzzles (and I mean any).


Sfingi 6:09 PM  

Loved this one! Never noticed the theme, but I guess I like easy clues.

Didn't know what MLB or ONE O CAT was, but they're sports. They, like ALANA, simply appeared. I Google these after solving to try to keep up.

Like Lane B - Had PuRgaTory before PERDITION, but chipped away at that.

COREA is at least part Sicilian.
TAGALOG - accent on 2nd syllable - is known to me because of brother-in-laws wife. So no other hitches.

Ellen S 8:04 PM  

@Carola, thanks for the tip on reactivating my keyboard for AcrossLite. What I discovered is, if the external keyboard is powered off, the icon is "live" to activate the built-in keyboard. If I leave that one exposed, and THEN turn on the external one, then the external one works. As long as I stand on one foot patting my head while rubbing my stomach. (@Tita, please don't make me do that tonight!)

DBGeezer 8:43 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JenCT 10:13 PM  

@Acme & @Tita: In honor of your comments, I've changed my avatar to my spoiled cat Oreo, who thinks it should always be nap time!

I'm meeting my new potential dog on Friday!

The puzzle? I ended up quitting before I was done...

Milford 10:28 PM  

@JenCT - fantastic news about your potential new dog - thanks for keeping us posted!

@JenCT and @Tita - I have one of those Oreo cats, but never heard the term tuxedo cat - love that name! Changed my avatar to match ;)

Nameless 11:24 PM  

NOLA obscure? OBIE obscure? Where do you live? In a cave? This is the New York Times. How much of the Greater New York population do you really think have never of either one?

I second Ken's motion

Tita 11:42 PM  

@Milford, @JenCT...great pics - Tuxedo cats rule...! I have two - Marzipan is already my avatar...Venus is a little less gregarious, and prefers jigsaw puzzles.

@Ellen S - you should be good to go...no need for unnatural acts with iPads or their keyboards...!

David from CA 12:44 AM  


I never said all those downs were obscure - I got them all with no problems; the point is that there is no word play in "know it/don't know it" proper noun entries. Does it really give you great pleasure to just be able to fill in a lot of names based on your knowledge from doing crosswords for N years? That certainly isn't what got me addicted to these things ~20 ish years ago when concentrated name fill like that was unheard of.

Mike Ben-Ari 4:02 AM  

@Evil: beautifully put, thank you for sensitivity and perspective

Naveed Ahmed 10:16 AM  

Even though I didn't try to solve the crosswords puzzles, but yet I was impressed by the simple layout of your blog knowing that it is worth being mentioned in "Blogs of Note".

spacecraft 11:44 AM  

Easy-peasy for me. Didn't make the ZEe mistake only because I happened to fill in OED first. Oxford = Brit = ZED. I liked this one, as it evoked two great old ballads, the Brenda Lee* one and another from further back:

"LET ME GO, let me go, let me go, lover" (can't recall the artist)

*I do vividly recall the night in '60 I was driving along listening to WARM--"The Mighty 590"--when the DJ (alas, I have forgotten which one) made the following speech:

"I love to turn records over and listen to the B side. Here's one I think you'll like, on the flip side of rocker Brenda Lee's big hit, 'That's All You Gotta Do.' She's trying her hand at ballads, and this is a pretty good one. It's called 'I'm Sorry.'"

Ginger 1:11 PM  

Must have been in my wheelhouse because I finished pretty quick (for me) with no write-overs. Enjoyed the anagrams which I didn't get until the reveal. Good one Pete.

Speaking of bags, I'm packing for a vacation. Will be gone for 3 weeks, and will miss you all, especially the Syndiland crew. See ya in August.

Syndi Solver 1:57 PM  

Very cute theme! Since I'm not a speed solver I almost always look for the theme while solving. I guessed gab at first but couldn't think of a reveal phrase to fit. Then I figured it out and skipped ahead to fill in MIXED BAGS. Luckily, it fit.

I was a bit worried at 11 D that the answer would be PuRgaTory. I'm not even Christian but I still thought, "That's not the same thing as hell, is it?" Luckily, the answer was PERDITION. This brings back memories, believe it or not. One of the steep hiking trails that I used to frequent was called PERDITION Trail. No joke, that was the official name!

The old-fashioned phrase used as a clue for IN SIN at 12 D is kind of stale for my taste ("Living ___") but that partial does look funny next to PERDITION. :-) So, I'll take it.

I also liked BARBARIAN. It's funny that when someone says Conan that's the first thing I think of, not the talk show guy or any other famous Conans. And yet I've never even seen the movies. (or books - isn't it from a comic book?) Who knows why that sticks in my brain?

I knew TAGALOG because I have a friend who's Filipino. But like several others I have no idea who ALANA Davis is. I'm off to look that up.

Has anyone mentioned CRU yet? (at 6 D) I thought CRUciverbalists would like that word.

Anyway, kudos to Pete Muller for a fun puzzle!

Solving in Seattle 2:59 PM  

@spacecraft, it was sung by Patti Page.
@Ginger, have a great vacation! I've been on short golf trips this month and have missed Rexville most days.
@Syndi Solver, as a kid I read all the Conan books by Robert E. Howard. What a great character. Then Arnold played him on the screen.

I know it's over a month after the RealTimers have posted to the blog, but I just have to say that @Evil's response to @Sandy was one of the most sensitive and intelligent posts that I have read on this blog. @ED, most of the time you make us laugh. Some times you make us think.

Dirigonzo 3:08 PM  

My first run through all the clues revealed lots I "didn't have a clue" on, but as I worked my way through the grid picking off the crosses I knew or could infer I discovered it was do-able after all. @Spacecraft didn't say it, so I will: BAAED should be a NONO.

Speaking of @sc, the song is By Patti Page, here.
(If the link actually works, thanks to @Tita for providing the tutorial on her blog.)

@Ginger - safe travels; I look forward to seeing your posts again when you return.

DMGrandma 5:42 PM  

A good Tuesday outing. I did have to correct RErunto REAIR. Didn't catch the "bag" thing until the revealer, and then went back to find out what it meant.

@Ginger: Enjoy your off time. Look forward to seeing you back by the USOpen which simply HAS to go better than Wimbleton did this year!

strayling 7:22 PM  

I had a different problem with ZED. At first I had IONISE, not remembering the US fondness for the letter in question, which gave me SED.

Mr. Muller laid a trap for people from both sides of the pond.

Waxy in Montreal 7:50 PM  

CLUNGTO NONOs CRABGRASE and SIGBANDS far too long because EINE and SIS made sense. Eventually did WARMTO EINS and SIB and all was revealed.

Strange puzzle partners today: XIN and INSIN, ONEDGE and ONEO.

Eva BRAUN always reminds me of one of the best lines from the classic BritComm Fawlty Towers when a concussed Basil Fawlty responding to an order from a German customer for a prawn cocktail says "Oh, yes. one Eva Prawn...".

Syndi Solver 8:24 PM  

@strayling, Re: "a trap for people from both sides of the pond" -- clever observation!

@Waxy, thanks for the Fawlty Towers memory. My Dad and I used to watch that show together back when I was in high school.

@Solving in Seattle, thanks for the info on the Conan books. I had no idea they were published so long ago (author died in 1936 at age 30, how sad).

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