TUE 6-25-13

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Constructor: JOEL FAGLIANO

Relative difficulty: EASY-MEDIUM

THEME: WORDS WITH FRIENDS... This is a Scrabble-esque game for your iPad, iPhone, etc., and each theme answer starts with a word that can be followed by "friend."

Word of the Day: ARIOSE (64A: Melodic)
Adj.    1.    ariose - having a melody (as distinguished from recitative)
songlike, melodic, melodious, musical - containing or constituting or characterized by pleasing melody; "the melodious song of a meadowlark"
• • •
Greetings, Crossworld! I’m Catherine Park, filling in for for Rex this fine day. I’ve heard he’s in Oregon, so I suspect he’s drinking shade-grown organic dark roast and getting crossword-related skin ink in the “city where the young go to retire.” I’m so impressed that he managed to work his actual vacation location into his Friday NYT puzzle. Like he’s on a plane flying west to Portlandia at the very moment the world is doing his puzzle with that beautiful 10-letter answer running right down the west coast? Knowing the pace of puzzle publication over at our favorite Grey Lady, he must’ve charted this confluence like two years ago! Or, seeing as that’s literally impossible, is it some sort of special wink from Will to Rex? (And what's all this about that being Rex's "last puzzle"?)

As to today's puzzle, I'll be frank: meh. Last night I did it when it first posted. I warmed to GOPRO (1A: Lose one's amateur status) at once. But then I put in BAN (6A: Prohibit) instead of BAR and things started to get weird. I guess I just wasn't in the mood for it, but I felt manipulated by the two "mountain top" clues, like the puzzle was jerking my chain with all this literal and figurative back and forth. (9A: Mountain top? SKICAP, 16A: What may be under a mountaintop ORE). I just got the sense that the puzzler and I weren't connecting somehow. Did anyone else feel this way? Or was I just being petulant? 

Theme answers:
  • FACEBOOK STALKING (18A: Being an online creep in a way) -- Now, see, this is what I'm talking about. "Facebook Stalking" is a concept, but it's not a really a common term. I would never say, "Hey, I've been Facebook stalking my ex-boyfriend all week." It sounds like something a non-native speaker of English would say. It's unnatural. And it goes without saying that I would never do it either. Facebook stalking is tacky.
  • BEST DOCUMENTARY (24A: Oscars category) : Again, sort of annoying because with this clue it could really be any number of things and it was all about the crosses.
  • IMAGINARY NUMBER (49A: Square root of -1, e.g.) : This only saddened me because I'm so bad at math. Something I should've asked my brilliant ten-year-old son, but I really didn't know it myself. Crosses again. Sigh.
  • WORDS WITH FRIENDS (56A: Popular app... or a hint to the starts of 18-, 24-, and 49-across) : The big reveal. Whatevs. This bummed me out even more, because.. serious confession... I didn't know about it. Dang! This really made me feel dumb. I think this puzzle was specially designed to damage my self esteem. I mean, I'm a word person, and I do play RUZZLE from time to time, but I've just never come across Words With Friends, a game that I take it has long-since peaked. Maybe this is because in its prime years I was up to my elbows in young children. I admit to certain, um, gaps in common knowledge. But this fell flat for me. I can't really blame the constructor for it though. I get it. I blame myself.
So that's what I'm talking about. The theme answers, looked at as a group, are seemingly random, and each one has some sort of issue. I don't hate it, per se. But I don't love it either.

  • THE MAMBO (39A: Tito Puente speciality) -- Is that how we roll now? We can just go around putting "the" in front of things whenever it's convenient? 
  • THE ANSWER (34D: Nickname of basketball's Allen Iverson) — See above. Okay, okay, special props for getting the THEs to cross perfectly. Also, let's face it, it's a cool nickname. 
  • RARA— (46A: _____ avis) -- I wish I had known this, because I like it. You probably knew this, but it means "an unusual, uncommon, or exceptional person or thing [Latin: rare bird" Bonus! You get two words of the day! 
  • EDEN PRAIRIE — (25D: Minnesota city SW of Minneapolis, so named for its fertile soil)-- You aren't going to believe this, but I'm actually from Minneapolis and I couldn't get this without some crosses. I've been to Eden Prairie many times. I think the problem was I'm geographically challenged-- I didn't know it was SW of Minneapolis. I would've thought more SE. Also, calling it a "city" is quite a stretch.  
  • OGRE -- (26D: The giant in "Jack and the Beanstalk," e.g.) Can we talk? Giants and ogres are two different animals, my friend. One is about size. The other is about hideousness, stench, and the ability to kill flowers by just walking by them.  

Signed, Catherine Park, serf of CrossWorld... normally found toiling www.fineyoungfauves.com


jackj 7:45 AM  

When the beginning of the reveal is WORDSW……… and you smugly fill in WORDSWITHFRIENDS, (but then not so smugly realize that you’ve never used the app and know of it only because you had read that Alec Baldwin was booted off an airplane for refusing to stop playing it when ordered to do so), it’s clear why the puzzle was a bit of a struggle; dinosaurs who tackle it do so at their own peril.

But, this dinosaur isn’t ready for extinction (even if he doesn’t know FACEBOOKSTALKING from NYLONSTOCKINGS) and Joel’s puzzle turns out to be a special treat, made most especially pleasing by the likes of IMAGINARYNUMBER, COINAPHRASE and SKICAP.

“Person whose books make a killing?” was a clever clue, signaling an equally clever answer but when JOHNGRISHAM or HARLANCOBEN didn’t fit the grid, the pedestrian, obvious, CRIMEWRITER proved one of the puzzle’s few disappointments (DOG being another, but that was trumped by ARI).

But then, when you get the answer ORBITZ only because you know CADIZ and you’re able to complete TMZ only because of your familiarity with ITZHAK Perlman it’s back to dinosaur status and time to just relax and sort out and enjoy the wonders presented by a superb young mind (but IMFINE and happy that Pete SEEGER was a gimme).

Exquisite puzzle, Joel!

evil doug 7:51 AM  

"Or was I just being petulant?"



Z 7:57 AM  

Two Zs?!? How could I complain?

Actually, this is a fine puzzle, even more so for filling the dreaded Tuesday slot.Ii had a couple of rough spots, BAn, IM okay, and aBu before IBN. I also needed lots of the crosses before getting Oscar. Still, it is a CROSSword puzzle, so no complaints there.

As for IMAGINARY NUMBER, I've always loved that some person came up with the notion of i. Wow. There is an aspect of the artistic that is beguiling to me.

K9doc 7:57 AM  

How is words with friends a hint to the starts of the 3 across answers that the clue references?

Evan 7:59 AM  

Ooh, I was a real fan of this one -- thought there was some really brilliant fill and was amazed that Joel managed to squeeze all those cool long downs in there, to go along with other fun stuff like ORBITZ and a great clue for INBREED. Okay, yeah I could do without stuff like ARIOSE and IBN and RARA, and that CADIZ/COIT crossing was a toss-up for me (didn't know if it was a C or a K but I guessed right). Still, I got a real kick out of solving this.

Then again, it's possible that this was just in my wheelhouse in a way that maybe it wasn't for Catherine (thanks for the write-up by the way). I've heard of WORDS WITH FRIENDS but have never played it, and although I didn't understand the reveal when I first got it, I looked at it again after solving and got a delayed, post-solve a-ha moment. I've heard of FACEBOOK STALKING but more in an endearing sort of way -- like, if you meet up with a friend of yours whom you haven't seen in many years, s/he might say to you, "Okay, I noticed you're studying history at Temple....sorry, I like to Facebook stalk my friends." And I remembered my pre-calc days with IMAGINARY NUMBERs, which was actually right around the time that Allen Iverson went to the NBA Finals with the 76ers, so I remembered THE ANSWER too. Of course, I've been living in Philly for a while, so I've heard that all the time (and I think he's more popularly called AI).

By the way Catherine, your puzzle picture has a mistake in it -- 15-Across is INFER, not INVER.

Evan 8:00 AM  


Facebook friends
Best friends
Imaginary friends

Milford 8:01 AM  

Nice Tuesday, a little chewy. I have heard of WORDS WITH FRIENDS, never played it personally. My oldest kid did for awhile,but it's a little past it's peak obsession now.

@Catherine, nice write-up. If it makes you feel any better, I didn't exactly get the theme after solving (the "types of friends" thing).

Not familiar with the terms SKI CAP, IBN, nor the COIT building, so that cross was a lucky guess.

THEMAMBO is perhaps a dance one does after figuring out the THEMe of a puzzle?

Liked COIN A PHRASE (what's the origin of that? Have to go look it up.), SPARE RIBS, and RESCUE PARTY.

Everything I know about Minnesota cities, including EDEN PRAIRIE probably, I learned from "Fargo".


@K9doc - FACEBOOK friend, BEST friend, and IMAGINARY friend.

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

Um, shouldn't 3D PFC cross 15A INFER, and not PvT with INvER? I admit to PVT being being my entry before PFC, too.

Hey, the grid is 16 squares across!

Norm C.

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

Facebook friends, best friends, imaginary friends

Catherine Park 8:08 AM  

Sorry, all! You're right about the INVER/INFER thing. I was working fast this morning because my alarm didn't go off. Making matters worse my kid woke me up repeatedly last night. My husband was infusing me with coffee but I still was a little groggy when I filled that out. Should've checked it. Rookie mistake!!

Catherine Park 8:10 AM  

Also I was trying to load this adorable GIF, but had technical difficulties. http://gifb.in/E8bV

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

Facebook stalking is defintely definitely an in-the-language phrase... as least among younger/more tech-inclined people.

I hear it said all the time "i met this guy/girl last night and went home and facebook stalked them"

think people who do facebook / words with friends a lot will really like this...others not so much.

fvigeland 8:27 AM  

Joel's puzzles are usually on my wavelength since we're about the same age, but I loved this one. FACEBOOKSTALKING is totally in the language for me. As Evan said, it's often somewhat endearing, or at least something people readily own up to ("You're dating somebody new? What's their name so I can Facebook stalk them?"). And WORDSWITHFRIENDS was sort of the first of those instant-fad social/game apps.

Thanks for the writeup, Catherine, but with a fresh take on an old theme and so much exciting (and long!) fill, I quite liked this one!

joho 8:29 AM  

It took a few beats for me to see THEANSWER to the theme reveal. Because FACEBOOK is the first word in the first theme answer I thought I was looking for places you go to chat with your friends.

I also thought that Tito Puente's specialty was THEliMBO.

Plus a big WTF at WTO.

But as Ms. Park (thank you for your write-up!) has pointed out the crosses cleared everything up pretty easily.

Lots and lots of 3 letter answers due to grid shape. But also lots of zippy scrabbly letters.

I love that I have a BEST FRIEND from high school who lives in EDENPRAIRIE!

I also really enjoyed the interesting long downs.

All in all a fun Tuesday, thanks, Joel!

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

This is NOT an easy-medium puzzle!!
Golfballman and Flowerlady9

dk 8:47 AM  

Harvey (the big pooka) has asked me to convey his joy with the imaginary theme.

Again the comments are skewing positive. I know you want to know.

Pretty good Tuesday. I could carp but then I risk being "Red Ducked" 😉

🌟🌟 (2 Stars) Off to stalk asparagus

Note to a certain someone: The second agreement is don't take anything personally. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you will not be the victim of needless suffering.

loren muse smith 8:52 AM  

Nice puzzle, Joel! I was expecting some kind of stuunt shenanigans, letter manipuulations, so youu suurprised me with suuch a straightforward theme – very enjoyable solve.

And how impressive the long downs are. Many times I start out with grids with long downs like that, feeling all confident and Jeff Chenlike (to COIN A PHRASE), but I invariably resort to breaking them up with sad little black squares. :(

My sister had an IMAGINARY FRIEND – the little green man. Remember, Mom?

Liked TIPTOE sharing the grid with PIGGY. I used to be secretly proud of my TOEs/feet – they were fairly pretty. Now I’m dismayed at how ugly and lumpy they’re becoming. EROSe. Seriously. OGRE PIGGIES.

“Ban” before BAR probably like thousands. And that CADIZ/COIT cross was tough, but I guessed right.

Ellen S – your beloved EELS are hiding here.

I bonded once with a workman at my house over a KNOT discussion – mainly the beauty of a bowline. Great KNOT. I practiced that KNOT all summer when I worked on a boat. And the one time toward the end of the summer the skipper threw down a big line and yelled, “Tie a bowline around that post fast!” I completely choked and couldn’t do it. BOO. IT WAS not my proudest moment.

I love the word "petulant."

I DOFF my SKICAP to you, Joel. FINE work.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:58 AM  

(Yes, BAN before BAR.)

I expected that the THE/THE cross would get called out as a 4 D, a REEL SIN. :>))

BTW, do I recall correctly that ACME said she was playing WORDS WITH FRIENDS with Alec Baldwin at the time of that famous incident?

Im 9:01 AM  

Nice puzzle. Noticed PELOSI showed up again, this time as Boehner's predecessor, a few days ago as Hastert's successor.

Susan McConnell 9:04 AM  

Loved and connected with Catherine's puzzle, much more than I did with the puzzle. Didn't we have the identical PELOSI clue just a few days ago? And THE MAMBO? What next, THE HBO? Just didn't do it for me.

Captcha words are: his goFirm

Susan McConnell 9:05 AM  

^Catherine's write-up.

Catherine Park 9:32 AM  

Thank you Susan. In retrospect, I really think my brain seized up. It's hard filling in for The King.

Carola 9:33 AM  

My thought was "elegant puzzle" - really enjoyed solving it. It kept me guessing at the "just right" level for a Tuesday.

I smiled at WORDS WITH FRIENDS because it seemed to fit so well with all of us commenting on it here.

I'm in the grandma generation, don't have a FACEBOOK account or the app, but it was easy enough to get STALKING from the crosses, and my BEST friend told me about playing the game online with her grandson, so you didn't have to be among the young set to have fun with this one.

Favorite neighbors: ARK next to RESCUE PARTY. Also smiled at TAM sharing the grid with it's often used clue LID.

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

Check your grid, 3 down should be PFC not PVC

mac 9:45 AM  

Good, crunchy Tuesday to me. Not a words with friends player, but I certainly know about it. Just don't need something else eating my time.

Hand up for ban for bar, and ice cap for ski cap, but ilk had to be it.

Hot and humid in CT, better plan some indoor activities.

chefbea 9:47 AM  

Great puzzle since I just started playing Words with Friends and Scrabble on my computer.

Hand up for Ban

Love spare ribs..especially from St. Louis

Best clue was for ear!!!!!

Scott 9:58 AM  

Couldn't disagree more about this puzzle, I loved it. Nice theme, solid theme answers. FACEBOOKSTALKING is as in the language as you can get for me, must be a generational thing I guess? The puzzle definitely skews young, but not so several that I would think it is a big impediment.

As for THEMAMBO, I have no problem with it. Puente was known as "King of the mambo" and had an album by this title. I imagine the presence of the definite article in this phrase comes from attempts to faithfully translate from Spanish, where the definite would be quite ordinary here (cf. "La Bamba"). The phrase -- with the definite article -- is also seered into my head from the Manu Chao song of the same name). It's a little unfortunate it crosses THEANSWER, but this doesn't bug me personally.

Beyond the theme, nice fun long answers like EDENPRAIRIE, COINAPHRASE, SPARERIBS, ITZHAK, etc. make for a very fun puzzle imo.

Questinia 10:07 AM  

Wonderful write up, Catherine. Love your micro geographical association re Portlandia.
Anything with a science/ math grace note makes it hard for me to dislike any puzzle. So imaginary number and its clue made the puzzle for me.

I have no problem with the idiosyncratic associations of our puzzle constructors and the occasional "WTF did they get that from?" We're not consciousness clones. Don't know how pertinent that remark is to this puzzle but just in case it is.

I put bar before ban but pvt before pfc. Loved Cadiz/ Coit. Kind of a spiky puzzle with very easy and some
medium answers.
Eden Prairie sounds divine, hopefully it is devoid of strip malls.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Catherine, you did fine with the write-up, though i liked the puzzle better than you did. Thanks for filling in.

Sandy K 10:13 AM  

Didn't we just have the End of "A Tale of Two Cities"? and now the opening words at 49D...

This puzzle felt fresh and IT WAS fun to solve. I liked the theme and its ANSWERs a lot! (Made famous by Alec Baldwin's games on a plane)

@Joho- had to smile at your Tito Puente specialty! Picturing him trying to do the limbo...

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

I've been Solving for about a year and read this blog daily. This is my first time posting. I feel compelled to point out that a a soldier with one stripe is a PV2. A PFC has a one stripe with a rocker ( a curved line attached to the bottom)

wordie 10:31 AM  

Susan, there is a letter to the editor in the NYT today that I thought was from you, but I see her last name is O'Connell. In it she reacts to David Brooks's op Ed on humanities studies (I've stopped reading his stuff for the most part but did see his topic). She refers to the many ways her education helps her enjoy life, including when she does crossword puzzles. I always enjoy your comments.

My older son had two imaginary friends, Chani and Go. They finally fell into a hole and couldn't get out, and that was that.

quilter1 10:32 AM  

I'm with Catharine, although I'm probably 40 years older than she is. Although I finished the puzzle I didn't know the theme answers but got them all from crosses. So I didn't enjoy this one much, but I still have Monday's BEQ to finish so its all good.

Paul Keller 10:34 AM  

If Tuesdays are going to remain easy, I hope we see a lot more like this one. With answers like CADIZ, ITZHAK, and ARIOSE, this puzzle had a lot to it, but it was still by and large an easy solve. The one sticking point for me was the TORI-RARA crossing.

Two Ponies 10:44 AM  

Considering how many things in both the clues and answers were totally unknown to me it was easy.
And enjoyable.
Of all of the things Ed Asner has done what is Up?
Don't watch Nickelodeon.
Who is Allen Iverson? What an odd nickname.
Figured there was a commercial tie-in to the tower in SF but Voit was the only brand name I could come up with. Luckily I remembered Cadiz.
So despite all of my head scratching it was a breeze.
Thanks for filling in Catherine. It can't be easy.

Gill I. P. 10:49 AM  

Catherine, I too felt a disconnect so no, I don't think you're alone in being petulant.
GIF ONA PFC were my first entries then on to BAR ARK and I just started groaning.
Never been to Minnesota so am not familiar with their fertile soil...EDEN PRAIRIE took way too long to show up for a Tuesday.
I got bored so I put the puzzle down.
Started it again this AM and it began to grow on me. FACE BOOK STALKING was new to me, couldn't remember how to spell ITZHAK and kept thinking Apollo went to MARS (duh). It all got straightened out. I sat back, looked at some of the words and thought ok, fine, but not a Tuesday puzzle.
@Milford. I meant to ask you the other day - did you study at Schiller when you were in Madrid?
Thank you Catherine Park for filling in. I'm glad we were off like minds.

Larry 11:10 AM  

I, too, felt a disconnect. That's not petulance, it's a statement of fact. It's not a critique of the puzzle, it's an accurate depiction of my solving experience.

jae 11:13 AM  

Yes for BAN and yes @dk for skewing positive. I thought this was a pretty impressive Tues. Great zeitgeisty theme answers and some fine long downs.

Medium for me and I liked it a lot.

K9doc 11:14 AM  

Thanks for all of the replies. Big bruise on my forehead after smacking myself for not seeing it.

retired_chemist 11:20 AM  

I enjoyed it. Easy-medium here.

@ Sandy K - Also noticed the reappearance of A Tale of Two Cities. Starts on Tuesday, ended last Saturday. Isn't PELOSI getting a good run these days too?

PVT is not a one-striper - a no-striper, yes?

No BOOS from here. Thanks,Mr. Fagliano.

Captcha was eeñons - I put the tilde in and it didn't match. No chance to go back and see if it would have worked without the tilde.

jae 11:37 AM  

And, thanks for the write up Catherine.

Ellen S 11:46 AM  

Catherine, nice job of Creative Non-Fiction! You totally earned your MFA. (Is it "Blog Stalking" if I read your personal stuff on your public blog?)

My question is really about the concept of "FACEBOOK STALKING" -- I always think of stalking as something that is unwelcome to the stalkee. Seems to me if a person doesn't want the world to know where they went to school they shouldn't post it on Facebook, or at least not in a publicly available way. But then maybe I'm just being petulant. I enjoy reading what people share, or at least if they write well and don't share stupid stuff.

@Loren, Huh? Where are the EELS? They are a RARA AVIS in this puzzle as far as I can tell, but as with EELS, I find "Rarae Aves" themselves just a little too common. Pvt/PFC BAn/BAR just like everyone, but enjoyed the puzzle. Thank you for providing it, Mr. Fagliano; and thank you, Catherine, for the writeup.

Keith H 11:59 AM  

Like yesterday's, this was totally solvable using only the down clues for me. It took a bit longer at 10 minutes. I disagreed with some of the write-up today, but I thank Catherine for filling in today.

FACEBOOK STALKING is completely in the language among my friends (20- and 30-somethings). So much so that I filled it in with just FACEBOOK_T_L__N_ (and without reading the clue, since I was solving using the down clues only).

THE MAMBO is the name of the dance. Many dances have "the" in front of them, and are rarely mentioned without the article. The robot, the hustle, the watusi, the stanky legg, and THE FRUG (which made the 20 December 2008 puzzle in that form) are a few examples.

I agree that the clue for BEST DOCUMENTARY is not specific enough. I'm not sure why it was done this way -- it seems pretty easy to clue it with a Tuesday-level winner of that Oscar. I also agree that Jack was a Giant Killer, not an OGRE Slayer.

Catherine Park 12:00 PM  

Ellen, thanks. I've been feeling all morning like i wanted a do-over! Plus I keep thinking of and finding awesome things I should've included.

No, please, read all you want at my blog. You're right about the "stalkee" not liking the stalking... Isn't that part of the point? ALso I live on Facebook, but I just usually hear people say, "I'm stalking so and so on Facebook," rather than saying, "I'm Facebook stalking him."

retired_chemist 12:06 PM  

Don't get the complaints about BEST DOCUMENTARY. Assuming you don't have the categories memorized well enough to know the other 11 letter ones (if any), it's still just a matter of a few crosses.

Lewis 12:08 PM  

@ellens -- 4d

Rob C 12:13 PM  

Medium-Challenging Tues for me. Big slowdown at FACEBOOK STALKING. Never been on Facebook - no plans to either. Was more in the meh camp, mostly for that theme answer. Didn't like the two THEs either. Not sure I've ever heard ARIOSE. Though, looking back, there was a lot of good medium length stuff also. So more appreciation for it now than when I was doing it.

Lots of ERs. asnER and seegER should avoid using their edgER and augER.

@Ellen S - At 4D, rEELS in.

oldactor 12:20 PM  

@Susan McConnell

One watches HBO (or not) but one does THE MAMBO.

One doesn't watch THE HBO, and one doesn't MAMBO.

Loved the puzzle but never heard of Eden Prarie.
Isn't WTO the World Trade Organization? Just a guess.

Lewis 12:23 PM  

Unaffected, bright writeup -- thanks, Catherine.

I've played WORDS WITH FRIENDS with my son; it's a knockoff of Scrabble, with the board a bit different and some difference in letter counts and points. But it uses the same brain muscles.

I loved all the long downs except EDENPRAIRIE, which I never heard of (population about 50K). It does have a cool name though. I dropped in TMZ, and I still have no idea how I know this term. I believe THEMAMBO is as legitimate as MAMBO -- depending on the sentence, either is correct. I like that THEANSWER is the answer.

Happy neighbors include: That loony SKICAP PELOSI, a BAR of ORE, in answer to the question "How you doing, idiot?" we have the answer I'M FINE, INBREED, there are NATO SPARERIBS, the ARK RESCUE PARTY, the ODD OGRE, and while there are no snakes on a plane, we do have a GIF ON A PFC.

No meh this puzzle for me. Thank you Joel.

Lewis 12:26 PM  

@oldactor -- one does MAMBO. "Jack can mambo with the best of them."

loren muse smith 12:31 PM  

@Rob C – I INFER, then, that you would want the WRITER of a puzzle to use a smaller NUMBER of ERs in a grid? Fair enough. And dammit, I couldn’t fit ANSWER in that sentence without being, well, just stupid.

Also - @ Bob Kerfuffle – I noticed that THE/THE cross and meant to mention it.

Also also – I think my daughter says she’s “creeping” on someone on FACEBOOK. Maybe that’s different from STALKING?

Lastly, think Joel kicked around “Fair weather fan” (14) at some point?

John V 12:38 PM  

Quite challenging, owing to the six proper names in the downs. Wanted ARIOSO and the cross from 34 down was no help. I concur that the clue for PFC is incorrect; that said no harm done 'cause the NW acrosses were obvious. Nice theme, too many pop proper names. Okay Tuesday, but only that.

Mitzie 12:46 PM  

Really liked this, very good for a Tuesday.

(But I shuddered at THEMAMBO).

Not bad!

John in Philly 12:55 PM  

Dnf on "the answer" - what is iverson the answer to? Otherwise, good puz for a tuesday.

EdFromHackensack 1:06 PM  

I think this puzzle was Medium or slightly above. I Facebook Stalk all the time. Old girlfriends, highschool friends etc etc. The more unique the name, the easier of course.

I played Words With Friends when it first came out and enjoyed it. All of you would be great at it, trust me. The problem was that there is a WWF cheat site. I discovered this while playing against my sister who was magically pulling rare words out of the air for big points. Later she admitted she was using the cheat app. Even when I played against "random opponents" I could tell they "cheated", some admitted it. Takes the fun out of it

Rob C 1:07 PM  

@John in Philly - Why haven't the Sixers won an NBA Championship since the Dr J era?

@ loren musER - was it a mini theme maybe?

Colby 1:13 PM  

As a millennial, I really enjoyed this puzzle.

I appreciate FACEBOOKSTALKING and WORDSWITHFRIENDS. Very contemporary.

Also liked GOPRO and THEANSWER. This puzzle seems to speak to all of the 20 something guys out there.

loren muse smith 1:20 PM  

@Rob C – HAH! And we missed EROS. But RE NUMBERs seven. . .

Catherine Park 1:26 PM  

Maybe that's my problem. I'm a 40-something woman, not a 20-something guy. But, you know, something for everyone, etc. Live and let live. It just wasn't my thing.

Rob C 1:29 PM  

@LMS - actually, most of them weren't EROCs (ERs of convenience), i.e., random verb + ER. So, they were just fine by me. just something I noticed.

The X The M and A Ibn 3 Us 1:51 PM  

thUmbsUp for the debut of the square root of -1. I always admire things that aren't quite all there.

har. 34 three-letter words. It's weeject bonanza time.
Top weeject picks...

* IBN - Has that subtle fragrance of desperation, that M&A so cherishes. Even better than THE crossin THE. Soooo... Arabs would say "Ibn a gun!"? Learned me somethin, there.

* KAL - Not real familiar with this dude. Is he Kal Ibn Kan?

* WTO - Ibn a gun, these are good, today. WTO is, of course, also famous for bein the imaginary root of two, T-squared.

* PFC - Actually, PFC's get a stripe, plus an under-arc dealy. PVT's get just the stripe. So, INVER and FATEBOOK, it is.

* dr-E sr-I gr-E to-I fr-O - Well, hey -- there's yer farm vote, right there.

* HAH - Ok. Soooo... if this means "Told you so", then, logically, UAR , Ibn of U and HAR, must be somethin really special. I've got to think...

But I am digressin petulantly. This was a mighty feisty TuesPuz. Keep 'em comin, Joel.



Bird 1:52 PM  

Nice puzzle, but I finished with an error. Damn! I had HADIZ / HOIT, after originally putting in HOYT for the famous SF tower, because I didn’t know the Spanish port Joel was referring to. I like the long downs, but did not like 45D. Other corrections include TUB before LID and SAT before GRE.

@Catherine – Nice Write-up. I had many of the same reactions during the solve.

Sandy K 2:00 PM  


Yes, it 'ended' with GUILLOTINE, but someone posted the quote-
"It is a far, far better thing..."
which enticed me to google the quotes from "A Tale of Two Cities".

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." and what follows is considered one of Dickens' best work.

Even tho I was forced to read it in school, it was one of the few required books that I actually loved.

When I saw the Dirk Bogarde film version- sorry, Ronald Coleman fans, Sidney Carton emerges as the exemplar of pathos, true love, sacrifice, and he sure had a way with words!

Milford 2:03 PM  

@Gill I.P. - I was at the Instituto International. It was on Calle de Miguel Angel, across from the Guardia Civil. I had some very good times in Madrid - great place for a 20-year old to be!

M and A also 2:25 PM  

That last, hangin splat sign was a mistake. Sorta like a DOG sayin AFR.

Ok, let's GIF ONA with this, piezano...

* NEG NAG - Together, what 4-Oh can get on, sometimes, while doin the writeup. M&E, I prefer to accentuate the positives.

* UAR - Definitely the highlight entry of the puz. In fact, I aim to elevate it to Sainthood. From now on, any puz with double-digit U's gets a hearty UAR.

* SSR - no litter of weejects would be complete, without this popular puz closer/EDGER. Well crafted.

0.3 UAR's. Please try again.


Susan McConnell 2:57 PM  

@wordie, thanks for thinking of me :-)

@oldactor, I meant that somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Maybe it's just my weird family, but someone will often feign stupidity or ignorance of pop culture by using the term "the HBO", or "Walmarts".

I think I've mentioned my work feeding Hartford's homeless here before. In case anyone is interested, CBS News did a spot on the man I work with. I think they did a nice job. I don't know how to embed, but you can watch the clip here:


LaneB 3:11 PM  

An enjoyable, reasonably fast "medium" . Had played WORDS WITH FRIENDS but still did not make the theme connection until the end . Getting to like seeing RHO, ORE, EROS, OGRE, TAM, the military rank abbreviations a d the French pronouns.. Constructors often have little choice but to include them somewhere (for which I' m happy.) Look forward to Wednesday. I'm hooked!

retired_chemist 3:16 PM  

@ Sandy K - the TOTC quote poster was me.

Sandy K 3:41 PM  


LOL! Thought it might be, but wasn't sure. And so glad you did- brought it all back to me, and probably others.

A great quote can inspire!

@Susan McConnell- Didn't George W call it 'the internets'?

Sfingi 4:08 PM  

Got IMAGINARY NUMBER immediately (I was a math teacher), but do not have an iPhone. Is FRIENDS an app? Don't know who KEL, MOORE or Iverson are. Don't know what TMZ stands for.

Took me a very long time, but no Googles. After all, it's only Tues.!

So are eBooks IBN ISBN - son of book?

It's hard to keep up with e-stuff, but I'll always have the square root of minus one.

Visited COIT Tower before you were born (high probability).

@Loren - how about ANSWERer, inferer - or better yet - (betterer) reANSWERer, etc.
@Sandi - love Dirk Bogarde (another cousin).

sanfranman59 4:19 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 9:33, 8:19, 1.15, 82%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:46, 4:57, 1.16, 86%, Challenging

M and A's Last Silver Help Desk 4:21 PM  

@Sfingi - TMZ = Tee Militarized Zone. No tee(shirt) with a half-decent logo on it, no service.

retired_chemist 4:32 PM  

Here is how Allen Iverson came to be called The Answer" for the Philadelphia 76ers. Wikipedia tells the complete story of the fabled franchise, but in a nutshell:

After winning it all in 1983, the Sixers went on a long downhill spiral, with the darkest hours coming in 1992-1996. They had the first pick in the 1996 draft and selected Iverson as "The Answer" to their problems. As it turned out, he wasn't.

Sandy K 4:38 PM  


What do you mean another cousin?
Always had crush on Dirk Bogarde- in "Darling" and had to go by myself to see "The Night Porter" due to subject matter...
He played Roald Dahl on tv in the "Patricia Neal" story- and looked just like him at that age.
Also starred in "Death in Venice".
He was a wonderful actor!

Harvey Levin 4:52 PM  

@Sfingi -- Actually TMZ is Thirty Mile Zone

John in Philly 6:00 PM  

Thanks for this entry. It explains iverson clue for today very nicely.

Sara 6:09 PM  

I really liked this puzzle! Don't know what everyone is complaining about. I thought there were some tricky, trendy, and interesting clues for a Tuesday. I went straight for the long ones and got Wordswithfriends and Facebookstalking right away. Would have really liked to see the other two tie in though.

BTW, what crossword fiend doesn't utilize their skills to annihilate their friends and family at WordswithFriends and Scrabble????

Auger Cadiz theMambo 8:08 PM  

THEANSWER should hang out with THESITUATION and solve World (meta) Peace, or something!!!

So much to love about this puzzle, mostly how perfect and literal the reveal was!!!! WORDS that go WITH FRIENDS!!!
Fabulous, contemporary, fun fun fun!

If i said that I was joking...prob tongue in cheek response to those who razz me for being a Scrabble loving name dropper!

This really spoke to me, not just the Scrabble, but COIT Tower and the Minneapolis references! Sitting in the airport as I write this...having survived the tornado, blackouts and mosquitos... I have re-earned my Minnesota roots cred!!!
Nothing better than walking around the lakes tho with a borrowed Yellow lab...
Where did you grow up, Ms Park?

Was excited to learn the derivation of EDEN PRAIRIE as I had been last trip when I learned that a Scotsman had named EDINA for his home Edinborough, which never occured to me...
But NO WAY should folks know EDEN PRAIRIE!!!! But I loved it anyway.

Anyway, for every RARA Avis in this puzzle there was TIPTOE...for every UAR there was PIGGY or ORBITZ.
So overall, quite fabulous!!!

Thanks, @ Joel...you rock!
Your IMAGINARY friend

jberg 8:12 PM  

I had connection problems all day, finally found a different computer to come here. Put me among those who liked it (but Catherine, you sound half won over by now--nice writeup, anyway!)

I've been at the Coit Tower, love the murals inside - I still have one on a refrigerator magnet. I didn't go with BAN, as I had the R already, but I did write in ARIOSo -- much better word!

Katha Pollitt's memoir "Learning to Drive" has a great chapter on her internet (not only facebook) of her ex after he ran out on her.

And yes, @Bob, ACME did say it was her. Has she been here today? I didn't see her as I scrolled down 77 comments.

I hope to be earlier tomorrow!

michael 8:25 PM  

I'm 20 years older than Catherine Park and got Words with Friends and Facebook stalker and the rest of the puzzle without difficulty. Just a regular Tuesday for me. Not sure what this proves other than we all know different things...

Rob C 8:40 PM  

@Susan McC - wonderful heartwarming story - thanks for sharing it.

joho 8:47 PM  

@Acme ... I grew up in Edina and was always told it was an Indian name ... you know, like Minnehaha and Minnetonka. Scottish? What a revelation!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:15 PM  

@Anonymous Auger Cadiz theMambo (and @jberg) --

:>)) You know I have only the deepest affection for you, but I must report that on December 8, 2011 there appeared the following comment:

Amoebic coo-cow michaels 2:30 AM

I'm with the FROLIC-ers...
Howdy cavorters and prancers!
Also put in ALEc, but i blame Alec Baldwin who was on my mind for getting thrown off the plane mid-Words With Friends game with me!
Puzzle was not ABREEZE but liked it a lot!
* * *
Not that I ever wanted to "even the score," but I do recall that you had expressed disappointment when you learned (Spoiler Alert!) that "Bob Kerfuffle" is not my real name. So you are not always exactly as you seem, either, eh?

With the greatest respect,

Bob K. :>))

sanfranman59 10:03 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 5:42, 6:12, 0.92, 13%, Easy
Tue 9:21, 8:19, 1.13, 78%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:27, 3:49, 0.91, 6%, Easy
Tue 5:39, 4:57, 1.14, 83%, Challenging

mac 10:28 PM  

Andrea was way ahead of the rest of us with the prancing in 2011!

Catherine Park 10:53 PM  

I grew up on Nicollet Island until I was about 12. you know the "donkey lady"? yeah, that's my mom. Then I split my time between there and my dad's in Powerhorn Park area. I love Minneapolis dearly-- going back there in a week for a visit.

Catherine Park 10:58 PM  

I posted a blog entry about the experience of guest blogging here at my real blog, fineyoungfauves. It's a blog about a blog, very meta.

sanfranman59 12:49 AM  

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 5:42, 6:12, 0.92, 13%, Easy
Tue 9:21, 8:19, 1.13, 78%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:27, 3:49, 0.91, 6%, Easy
Tue 5:39, 4:57, 1.14, 83%, Challenging

K 6:22 AM  

Having lived in the U.k. for 40 years, I'm always a bit out of the loop, but found this particular puzzle tough for a Tuesday. Enjoyed all the comments.

BedfordBob 11:55 AM  

I really liked this puzzle for a Tuesday but also thought it was a comparatively difficult one for so early in the week.

I'm an engineer so IMAGINARY NUMBER WAS A snap but i had 2 natikas (sp?) COIT/IBN and MOORE/ARIOSE. I guessed right but it as just a guess. Was odd for me to have to make 2 guesses on a Tuesday.

Nice writeup Catherine.

spacecraft 12:39 PM  

I'm with @Bedford Bob. This was a nice (though not-so-easy; my eyes begin to glaze over just seeing the word "app") puzzle that belongs squarely in a Thursday slot. I say this not because it wasn't in my wheelhouse but because of the level of cluing. Example: of all the ways to clue MOORE, Alan who wrote "V for Vendetta" does not belong in a Tuesday.

Hand up for being bothered by the THE/THE crossing; it'd be fine if one of them was an integral part of a word, like, say, THEMATIC. THEANSWER is OK; that's the nickname (as a 76er fan I wish he HAD been!). But THEMAMBO? I have to disagree with @Scott and @old actor: this doesn't pass my "THE" test. Flag on the play! Five yards for gratuitous THE-ing.

Aside from that, as I said, it's a nice puzzle. Liked the use of both Z's; I'll wager all four of those entries occur rarely in grids. LOVED "word with bank or back:" PIGGY. HAH! Good one, Joel, but as a Tuesday entry a bit challengingish.

Solving in Seattle 1:18 PM  

Could be because I'm out of practice, but this puzzle seemed a bit tougher than a Tuesday.

BAn before BAR and sat before GRE, so it took awhile for nESCUtPARTY to get fixed.

Chuckled that INBREED was in the Deep South and crossing with FRIENDS.

THE/THE and IN/IN crossing a tad lame.

Capcha: lepacid. A new med from Pfizer?

Carlos Danger for mayor!

CaliTina 1:24 PM  

Totally in my wheelhouse this morning, if not the most exciting. RARA avis is a bit of Latin I've picked up from crosswords. IMAGINARY NUMBER jumped straight from the back if my mind to the page without a conscious thought. I really liked the parallel answers of WORDS WITH FRIENDS and FACEBOOK, many players' way of getting to the game. Last letter: R in 8d; I was convinced of BAn for 6a and could not let it go.

DMGrandma 1:30 PM  

Oddly, with so many computer age terms I didn't know 99% of this puzzle fell easily enough! (Thanks to all who explained how the theme worked with the clues, or I'd still be wondering.) Where I fell down was in spelling the great violinist's name ITsHAK! So another one square DNF for a fun solve!

Captcha leads me to wonder, what is a nadnest?

Sharon AK 2:54 PM  

Thought I would never get donw to the posting by San Fran with the relative difficutly scores.
I thought it was decidedly difficult for a Tuesday, So relieved to find that the mass of solvers agreed.

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

I agree with the solver. It would require a mind reader to arrive at the same answers that the constructor did. Who ever heard of "sus out?" The word is not in the dictionary. I know about Words with Friends, but didn't have a clue what was meant in the clue. Also "facebook stalking?" How would you know from the clue. Not a good puzzle!

rain forest 4:08 PM  

I don't do apps, and so the revealer(?) was not easy to get, especially since some of the down crossings were also unknown to me. Other than that, the puzzle seemed medium-ish, and was lively and fresh.

Regarding the THE/THE deal, THEANSWER is essentially a single word--that was Iverson's nickname, and so the THE is not a THE in the normal sense. As for the across answer, does one say that Tito Puente's specialty is MAMBO or THEMAMBO? @Spacecraft, maybe on further review the penalty could be overturned. I think it's a close call.

Liked this one.

Not-quite-quotidian Dad 4:08 PM  

guess i'm the only one who thought that @root(-1) is an IRRATIONAL NUMBER and not an imaginary one? like 'e'? anyone? bueller?

Dirigonzo 4:11 PM  

I was certain IBN was wrong but it was right; on the other hand I felt TMi/ITiHAK had a 50-50 chance but it was wrong.
@SIS - It seems to me that to INBREED does not involve FRIENDS (cousins, maybe?) (I'll leave the outrage over the regional aspect of your comment to Deep Southerners.) "Carlos Danger for mayor!", indeed - of Seattle, maybe, but he's sagging badly (well, his ratings are, anyway) in NYC.

Dirigonzo 4:18 PM  

@N-q-q Dad - Look here.

Anonymous 4:40 PM  

Eden Prairie not a city? the puzzle is in the Minneapolis paper today Catherine. I think you'll be getting a lot of negatives about your comment about Eden Prairie from Eden Prairie people today. Eden Prairie for your information has over 60,000 people and was rated by Money Magazine as a number one city in the whole United States of America.

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