Erma, Eric, Ezra, Enos & Ethan/SUN 06-30-13/Andre? No, Carlo Rossi/Genoa Hams

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Constructors: Alex Vratsanos and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: EASY

THEME: Matching Wits — Two-word answers starting with M & W, as well as an M and a W composed of black spaces at the center top and bottom.  Also, since there are two constructors, it works as a nice description of their working relationship, perhaps.  And, it also may reference a resource (Merriam-Webster) that some might have consulted in completing the puzzle.

Word of the Day: MUKLUK (91A: Eskimo boot) —
Mukluks are a soft boot traditionally made of reindeer skin or sealskin and were originally worn by Arctic aboriginal people, including the Inuit and Yupik. The term mukluk is often used for any soft boot designed for cold weather and modern designs are often similar to high-top athletic shoes. The word "mukluk" is of Yupik origin, from maklak, the bearded seal.  [Wikipedia].

• • •

Hello, all, this is Cuban Pete, sole surviving member of the Desi Arnaz Fan Club, coming to you from the Nation's Capital, where the fireworks started early this year.  This is my first time guest blogging, for Rex or anyone else, and I kind of feel like that first time I went to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show, scared and excited and hoping no one would hurt me.

How in awe am I of Rex now?  I am in awe TO THE MAX (47A).

To do this day in and day out makes him a Rex Star, a Rex Symbol, a Rex of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  He has zoomed to the top of my list of Rexes:

1.  Rex Parker
2.  Rex Smith
3.  Wreckx-N-Effect
4.  Rex Harrison
5.  Simon Rex (maybe I shouldn't go there)

I hope Rex is enjoying a nice in-flight cocktail served by Connie Sellecca at this very moment, although one of his recent Tweets leaves me fearful that the showing of his own Oregon Trail may have landed him in the local jail.

Theme answers:
  • MUDDY WATERS (2D: "Hoochie Coochie Man" singer)  Ranked No. 17 in Rolling Stones' 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, right between Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye.
  • MODERN WARFARE (6D: West Point subject)  Make love, not war.
  • MONEYS WORTH (17D: Bang for one's buck)  Oops, just saw this themed answer, right when I thought I was done with the post.  Perhaps I guzzled too much of the ANDRÉ, especially after that bottle of Carlo ROSSI.
  • MIRACLE WORKER  (30D: 1962 movie for which Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke won Oscars, with "The")  Here's something I didn't know until very recently -- Anne Bancroft's son wrote World War Z.  That's almost as impressive as the fact that Patty Duke's son was on Facts of Life.
  • MAKING WHOOPEE (52D: Euphemism used often on "The Newlywed Game")  I did not like The Fabulous Baker Boys.
  • MINIMUM WAGE (58D: Money raised by members of Congress?)  Fellows, you know that is not going to happen any time soon, right? 
  • MALT WHISKEY (68D: Dewar's product)  Perhaps Rex will follow his in-flight Sidecar with a whiskey?  [I don't really drink all that much, so I don't know if drinking whiskey after a Sidecar is even allowed.]
  • MINUTE WALTZ (64A: Piece longer than its name suggests)  Will gave us a Waltz-y weekend, providing the music to Friday's BOX STEP.

I didn't get the theme until I finished the puzzle and tried to figure out the theme.  I did notice that there was something going on with the two big figures in black spaces, but I wasn't sure whether they were 3s or Es or just a big coincidence.

  • [10A: _______ Franklin, Grammy-nominated gospel/R&B singer] ERMA — I initially put in KIRK and was so sure of it, which made that little area the last part I completed.  Shout out to Erma Franklin, sister of Aretha and original interpreter of "Piece of My Heart."  Also, ERMA started off the E names in this puzzle, to be joined by ERIC, EZRA, ENOS (what, no Dukes of Hazzard clue?), and ETHAN.
  • [83A: Seat of Dallas County, Ala.]  SELMA Funny how these things work.  All those E names had me thinking of a friend's son, Elijah, who is about to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah at a historic synagogue in Selma, Alabama.  (Okay, I also thought of Selma Diamond from Night Court.) 
  • [103A: Disobeyed orders, say]  WENT ROGUE  —  I don't know if I will ever be able to look at the word ROGUE again without thinking of Alaska.
  • [106A: Dewy]  MOIST Why do people hate this word so much?  To me, it conjures up thoughts of Duncan Hines cakes.
  • [4D: They may be shot at basketball games]  TEE SHIRTS — I have to admit my first thought was the woeful WASHINGTON WIZARDS, but, of course, it didn't fit.  You know what they shot at a Wizards games I attended?  Chipotle burritos.  I didn't catch one, but I've always wondered if there was really a burrito in that foil missile that was aimed at the 10 or so fans in attendance. 
  • [38D: Still dripping?]  BOOZE — This was one of my favorites, because it was simple but clever, and it was the second Dukes of Hazzard-themed feature. 
  • [48D: Peruvian volcano El ________]  MISTI — I love geography, and I had never seen this answer in a crossword, so I was glad to add it to my knowledge.
  • [86D: Some baby sitters]  AUNTIES This was a tricky one for me.  First, I thought NANNIES.  Then, I remembered Britney Spears and tried MANNIES. 
    It wasn't working, so I tried  PANTIES (awkward), before settling on the correct answer.
  • [100D: Bimetallic Canadian coin]  TOONIE —  Our neighbors to the North got two clues (EHS).  I'd never heard of a TOONIE, but the word itself evokes Canadianness, somehow (is there a term for such a word, sort of like onomatopoeia gone country?).
A few other general thoughts I think this was a very well constructed puzzle.  I am grateful that it was on the easy side, as I needed all the extra time I could get.  But, a good easy puzzle is probably a hard thing to construct.  I've read much about poor fill on Rex's blog and other places.  I think I know what they are talking about.  I didn't see poor fill here.  There were a lot of short answers, but none was a stretch or inartful.  [The only one I had reservations about -- 76D, They're beside the point: Abbr., CTS -- was a result of my own lack of knowledge.  I had thought CTS was being used as an abbreviation for centers and thought that didn't quite work.  It took me a while to figure out it was meant to be an abbreviation for cents.  Mea culpa.]

So, thank you, Alex (go, Fightin' Blue Hens) and Jeff for taking me on this adventure with you.

And, Rex, thanks for your generosity and (perhaps misplaced) blind faith in me.  Babalu.

Signed, Cuban Pete, Asylum Seeker in CrossWorld

UPDATE:  Bonus, tennis-themed puzzle in the Sports section.  Second serving of fun.


retired_chemist 1:00 AM  

Fun puzzle - medium here.

Had LOONIE for 100D - wrong. HEATH bar fixed that and I reasoned (correctly, as it happened) that TOONIE was a $2 CDN coin. The LOONIE is $1. Not that I remember seeing either one.....

Didn't get the theme until I had finished. didn't see the big M and W in the grid until I came here. All that kinda left me unenthusiastic.

My thesis that the crossword calendar in Spanish has only one month, ENERO, continues to be validated today.

Is an ESP TEST a kind of driver's license for clairvoyants? Do they have to take a course and pass a test of some sort, set by the State Board of Seances, before they can hang out their shingles?

TANGRAMS was my WOTD. CTS wasn't obvious and I had to pull TANGRAMS from somewhere deep, deep down in the subconscious to get Mr. Happy Pencil's smiling face. Maybe it was my ESP TEST. Wanted PANGRAMS but those puzzles have 26 pieces.

Anyway, Messrs. Vratsanos and Chen, thanks.

jae 1:26 AM  

First thought was intriguing grid.  Nice reflection of the theme. Easy-medium for me.  Only erasure was GRES for GMAT which made NW tougher.   Liked the MAKING WHOOPE/MALT WHISKEY pair, SEAMY?

WOE: TANGRAMS.  The CTS cross could be tricky. 

ANDRE always make me think of The Princess Bride.

Liked it.  Clever construction and a pretty smooth grid.  Nice one guys and you too Cuban Pete!

John Child 1:33 AM  

Objection! Only an American would spell whisky with an "e." Dewars emphatically does not. They make and sell MALT WHISKY

Google says: Your search - whiskey - did not match any documents.

Otherwise a fun solve and very clean. Thanks Alex and Jeff!

Anonymous 1:38 AM  

Probably a lot of people will have to put their faith in the HEATH bar. I did.

I also had to trust TASER, because I really wanted WHOOPIE with two Es.

The biggest gamble was on the SADR / TOBOGGAN cross. That cross could take a out a lot of people.

I didn't care for this one. Not saying its bad, just doesn't do much for me. I liked Krozel's puzzle yesterday, though, so don't be taking cues from me.

Anonymous 1:47 AM  

WHISKY is correct. The added 'E' is an american bastardization - debasement - of the right and righteous. I surely hope that Mr. Shortz apologizes to Dewar's.

Benko 2:04 AM  

Actually, the English spell "WHISKEY" with an "e", unlike those Scots.
Like @jae, ANDRE makes me think of the giant. I once saw him at an airport as a child, and was super excited.
Anybody else notice how every guest blogger gives the puzzle an easy rating? Methinks they are showing off.

Anonymous 2:25 AM  

Need some help from another puzzle.

Clue: Act like it

Aanswer: Seek

Don't get the answer here.



jae 3:49 AM  

@Dodo -- Might the answer be SEEM?

Bob Kerfuffle 5:00 AM  

I always try to be optimistic and appreciative, but this puzzle really left me flat.

The odd grid called attention to itself immediately, and the title suggested potentially high-level word play.

But after dutifully filling in all of the mostly very straightforward answers, I sat back and asked myself, "What is the theme?" I caught on, though only after a few minutes study, and was very disappointed.

It leads me to ask, is it possible that all the theme answers are so much "in the language," (that Holy Grail of some bloggers and commenters), that they vanish into the wallpaper? Maybe a theme should have some blatant inventiveness to it. Except for the grid design, which, again, sorry, to me, was neither helpful nor attractive, this could have been a Wednesday puzzle.

John Child 5:30 AM  

@Benko Quite right - the English add the "e" to whisky when they refer to American, Canadian or Irish spirits. But The Times, for example, always spells Scots whisky such as Dewars products without the "e."

loren muse smith 6:51 AM  

Make way for a terrific collaboration by two deft grid builders and theme thinker uppers. I loved it but found it a lot harder than the “easy” rating. Some of the cluing was dastardly: SAY AH, BOOZE, NYET. Those made me smile.

I like grids that are pictures like this. I’m still limited to whatever grid Crossword Compiler offers. (Short little fat skis). Sometimes it seems that these talented constructors just wave their magic wands and *poof* - a viable, cool grid materializes. It’s AWING.

Huge goof that really threw a monkey wrench in my solve: early on I misread the number for AUNTIES and put “nanas” for LEONE.

Mouth-watering entries: HEATH, ROLO, HAMS, STEW, FLEA KILLER (mornin’, M & A). I prefer Skor and Milky Way bars, in case anyone is getting ready to send me a care package. And bottled mineral water.

So who was MOUTHIER – BETTE Davis or Mae West?

STEAM BATH crossing MOIST. Nice. Ever sat in a SEAMY STEAM BATH? I actually have. Check *that* one off the bucket list.

A married woman who has spent some time in maternity ward, my eyes keep wandering over to the southwest, seeing BOSOM over ANKLE, and panicking a bit at how the distance between the two is shrinking.

SOLOS is a palindrome. I just saw that.

I own a pair of MUKLUKS. Love’em. Possible extra themer: Elmer Fudd’s pair crossing “went to.” The thought of a word like “mukwuks” cheers me up somehow. “Wookie! A wittle wabbit! Wet me get on my mukwuks so I can wun catch him!”

I ASSERT that is is one fine puzzle, Jeff and Alex. My word! Thanks!

lymank 6:52 AM  

I thought CTS may have been a basketball reference; I don't know enough about the game to be confident, but there are point guards and centers in basketball. Do the centers stand next to the points??
Two basketball references in the same puzzle (Teeshirts for 4D) would be a nice touch as well.
Just my two CTS (cents)...

chefbea 7:42 AM  

Easy puzzle. Had it almost finished last night, Googled a couple of things this morning. Didn't see the M and W in the grid until I came here..thought they were E's .

Saw Andre once at the Hyatt in Greenwich years ago. A little boy went up to him and asked for his autograph. Andre yelled at him and told him to go away.

Love heath bars and of course, Dewars is my booze of choice.

Anonymous 8:07 AM  

Easy half hour, which is good for a Sunday for me. Theme left me cold, as I didn't get it until I read the blog. Wanted elegance, didn't get it. CTS not well clued in my opinion. Why create a Natick when you don't have to?

As to Dewars, why not clue this entry with a classic single Scotch malt, like Talisker or Glenfiddich, or a fun one like Sheep Dip?

Glimmerglass 8:09 AM  

Excellent Subday puzzle. No bad fill and a few clever clues ("still dripping" stumped me for a while). I'd rate it "medium" for me. Never saw the big M and W (mea culpa, I thought they were E's), but I don't know that that would have helped much anyway. The Canadian $1 coin has a loon (that's a bird) on one side -- a "loonie." The $2 nickname TOONIE is just "two loonie" conflated.

jberg 8:21 AM  

Wait a minute - are you telling me that at basketball games they have little cannons that shoot TEE SHIRTS into the crowd? At least the answer makes sense that way, it sure puzled me.

Anyway, as @Bob_Kerfuffle said, the theme answers were so in the language that I only noticed three of them before I came here -- I even missed MIRACLE WORKER, somehow. And I spent five minutes looking! Now that they have all been pointed out to me (Thanks, Pete!), I like this puzzle a lot better.

Bonus theme: MOT and TOM in symmetrical positions (though MOT and tow would have been even better).

"Contested" would have been a better answer than RARE for 75A, "Like a sighting of an ivory-billed woodpecker."

Very fine writeup!

Norm C. 8:29 AM  

An easy but joyless slog.

Who knew the Three Stooges were short-wave radio operators?

wordie 8:35 AM  

This puzzle left me flat. So many three- and four-letter answers, yech. I did finish it, but I attribute this to a need to escape from stress, not to enjoyment. Also to withholding judgment until I see the whole puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:07 AM  

@jberg - I would never have guessed at the T-shirt cannon except for this article which was in the New York Times Magazine last week.

Nick J 9:21 AM  

As a 25 year old who does the puzzle every day and checks this blog, I'd just like to say: thank you Cuban Pete for a nice, upbeat, and modest recap of a puzzle. You are a rare beacon of enthusiasm in a dungeon of grouchy elitists. Keep fighting the good fight and showing us younger folk that it's possible to do crosswords without complaining all the time!

Bunny in Pa. 9:22 AM  

bueno Cuban Pete

joho 10:10 AM  

Yesterday a butterfly, today MW. Both puzzles exemplify the constructors' ability to create amazing grids. And I like seeing what these guys can do.

But I miss the snap, crackle and pop of word play in the theme answers. Especially on a long Sunday, I'm looking for ahas and laughs along the way.

I did get that today with the cluing which was MostlyWonderful!

I wondered if there's such a thing as an ESPTEST. Come to think of it, I think there is one with cards or something.

I parsed it TRI-PLEX instead of TRIPLE-X. What they shoot porn films in a TRI-PLEX?

In the end I liked it and wished I were as much a MIRACLEWORKER with the grid as these two.

@Cuban Pete, loved your refreshing write-up!

YontifSadie 10:11 AM  

I think...
When you play hide and SEEK one of the players is IT, as in "You're it!".

I found the puzzle to be a clever challenge though I still don't understand how Still Dripping? is BOOZE.

joho 10:13 AM  

@YontifSadie, the liquid dripping off a still is BOOZE.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

Fun puzzle.

Thanks for the fun, if somewhat, ahem, tangential, YouTube clips.

I didn't get the theme until I logged in here. Never saw the M or W in the grid either. I suck at figuring out obscure themes.

CTS was a bad, bad clue, especially cross with TANGRAMS.

Susan McConnell 10:20 AM  

@jberg, yes, that is what they are telling you.

I thought this was a fun puzzle, even though I didn't notice the MW in the answers until the second to last one, and then it helped me to get the very last one. *head slap*

EBON for SOOT held me up for a while.


jackj 10:34 AM  

When Jeff Chen is involved in constructing a puzzle there should be a warning such as “Beware, imp at play” and one should expect tomfoolery at every turn.

Today’s trickery though was self imposed, not concocted by Jeff and Alex, beginning with a grid that deceptively hinted that MATCH WITS meant they had split the grid in half and were doing a “Dueling Banjos” puzzle while declaring “Anything you can do I can do better”.

Since nothing seemed to be flowing at the start and thinking the worst, I convinced myself that the gospel/R&B singer must be ARETHA Franklin which meant somehow squeezing a rebus ETH into the works.

And that ETH then had me trying to somehow rearrange the ETH into THE to develop an answer for “They may be shot at basketball games”, (THREEPOINTERS?), but finally, in search of reason, I left that quadrant to seek calmer WATERS.

And, praise be, there was cleverness galore around the grid with wonderful cluing for the likes of REPO, TOTHEMAX, TWOFACED, WENTROGUE, BOOZE and my favorite, for “Opening words?”, SAYAH.

But then, after buttoning up the bulk of the grid, it was time to slip into some MUKLUK(s) to head back to the Alaska area that had initially left me COLDASICE, to try and make some peace.

First, the WATERS of “Hoochie Coochie Man” fame had to concede it couldn’t be ETHEL, (as part of my misguided ETH rebus caper), it had to be MUDDY and then it was time to do battle with the most vexing piece of the puzzle, the b-ball clue, now that a rebus was out of the picture.

Somehow, a vague memory of PR men with bazooka-like air guns shooting promo pieces to fans at pro basketball games turned things into an “Of course!”, as a salvo of TEESHIRTS came flying in, apparently the work of AMPED AUNTIES, intent on MAKINGWHOOPEE.

And so this episode of Chen Jeopardy ends with thanks to Alex and Jeff for a fun puzzle; a bit SEAMY perhaps but still fun.

M-W? Indeed!

600 10:42 AM  

I agree this puzzle was easy, and yet there were answers I couldn't puzzle out. I mean, I got them right, but I didn't know why.

First, thanks Cuban Pete--fun write up, PLUS you answered two of my questions. I have never heard of a TANGRAM, and the clue for CTS made no sense till you told me your reasoning. I just guessed well. (Though maybe that basketball point/center thing works too.)Also, like @jberg, I had no idea TEESHIRTS were shot at basketball games. I needed almost all the crosses for that.

You didn't clear up BOOZE for me. But @joho just did. Love this blog.

And I don't get SHAPE for Women's Health competitor. The magazine? Really?

I didn't understand POST for Writing on the Wall or, for that matter, SAYAH for opening words until I started to type my question, and then I got them. Love those AHA! moments.

An awfully nice misdirect at bridge position, CHASM. I had north, then south, before I figured it out.

And finally, what's even cooler is that Patty Duke's son is Samwise in The Lord of the Rings movies. Different son, of course.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

Read a Dewar's label---it says:

Whisky" ---case closed---the puzzle is in error.

Kris in ABCA 11:07 AM  

I am always the one who never sees the theme, but I picked up today's after MUDDYWATERS and MIRACLEWORKER.

@LMS - loved the Elmer Fudd mukwuk dialogue - made me smile!

jackj 11:30 AM  

You say “WHISKEY”, Dewar’s says “WHISKY”:

But the NY Times, in their “Manual of Style and Usage”, (to which the Times crossword must adhere), says:

“whiskey(s). The general term covers bourbon, rye, Scotch and other liquors distilled from a mash of grain. For consistency, use this spelling even for liquors (typically Scotch) labeled “whisky”.”

So sayeth The Grey Lady.

Brookboy 12:48 PM  

I found this puzzle to be more medium than easy, and, like everyone else, I was struck by the grid design, even though I had no idea what it signified until I read it here. I didn't get the theme, either, until Cuban Pete explained it. (Thanks for a very nice write-up, CP.)

So while I didn't really care for the theme (because I didn't get it), I enjoyed solving the puzzle in my leisurely way, stopping every now and then to chat with my wife or watch some baseball or tennis on TV. The Sunday puzzle is a weekly highlight for me.

Don't get 24A (Most Common Elements): MODES. I took a guess that the Three Stooges clue meant HAMS (HAgS? HAhS? HAnS?, etc...), got lucky.

Also not sure about 35A (What whalers may bring back): YARNS. Seems like an odd clue to me, but perhaps I'm missing something.

Loved learning the origins of the Canadian coins loonies and toonies. ("Toonie" is the only word my wife uses when she's talking about martinis.)

All in all, a very enjoyable puzzle for me and an enjoyable recap from Cuban Pete.

Carola 1:03 PM  

I liked the puzzle a lot - the unusual grid, all the long Downs, the tricky cluing. But as I was doing it, I wondered if the title was taunting me, as for the life of me I couldn't see the theme and definitely felt outmatched in the wits department. Finally got it with my last entry (going you one "head slap" better, @Susan McConnell :) ), which was MUDDY WATERS. Didn't see the grid's M and W until coming here. 1:16 PM  

@Brookboy -

The Mode

The mode in a list of numbers refers to the list of numbers that occur most frequently. A trick to remember this one is to remember that mode starts with the same first two letters that most does. Most frequently - Mode. You'll never forget that one!


Find the mode of:
9, 3, 3, 44, 17 , 17, 44, 15, 15, 15, 27, 40, 8,
Put the numbers is order for ease:
3, 3, 8, 9, 15, 15, 15, 17, 17, 27, 40, 44, 44,
The Mode is 15 (15 occurs the most at 3 times)

M and A and would also accept W 1:40 PM  

Liked the puz, but it kinda scared me. Kept bein relentlessly, inexplicably, irresistably drawn to fillin in all the squares inside the M&W prongs, first. Brrrrr.

mornin back at yah, lms. R U buildin a puz what has FLEAs in it? PuzEatinSpouse and I enjoyed mimosas this a.m., with our SunPuz. That keeps the buggers away just fine.

Larrupin good clue: "Still dripping?" A-Plus a-har moment.

Gripped onto the theme idea pretty dern quick.
Disadvantage of that: wanted MODEMWOLF and MINTWAGON, early on, within them there prongs.
That was after a coupla mimosas, I'll grant.

M and A also 2:03 PM  

p.s. @Cuban dude: primo lists. thUmbsUp. U ever heard the song "Babalu's Wedding Day"? Great doowopper. Organ grinder's monkey steals the money for the weddin, or somesuch... I've got to think. ...Too many mimosas...

mac 2:16 PM  

This was a medium for me, with the NW my trouble spot. They shoot t-shirts? I

All the way at the beginning, at 10A, I thought we were in for a rebus when Aretha didn't fit. The theme didn't come to me until very late in the game.

At 50D, with F-O in place, I wondered if Flo from Mel's Diner was called Schwartz.

I think we like puns better after all.....

mac 2:17 PM  

Thanks, Cuban Pete, nice write-up!

loren muse smith 2:20 PM  

Hey, M & A – you’re onto something! A BURIED FLEA puzzle!


Evan 2:23 PM  

Cuban Pete, you mean to tell me you forgot Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender?

Solid, easy Sunday. I thought a lot of the non-theme stuff like WENT ROGUE, STEAM BATH, TO THE MAX, TWO-FACED, TRIPLE-X, COLD AS ICE, and TOTEM POLE was fun. I sorta agree/disagree with @Bob Kerfuffle on the "in-the-language"-ness of the phrases. They're all good M-W answers though maybe the clues were a little on the easy side.

@Nick J:

I'm only a few years older than you, so I too count myself among the younger folk. I enjoyed both today's puzzle and Cuban Pete's write-up. I did not enjoy yesterday's puzzle as much and gave my honest assessment of it. That's what I and just about everyone else here do every day. There's nothing "grouchy" or "elitist" about that.

Evan 2:25 PM  


I understood YARNS to mean that whalers would return home with entertaining tales of their whaling adventures.

meta4 2:27 PM  

After the $1 loonie and the $2 toonie, one April first a radio station announced the introduction of the foonie ($5). Thankfully, I hasn't happened yet.

retired_chemist 2:46 PM  

There should be a multivalue coin. You buy it, probably at a premium, and its value increases with the rate of inflation. Kinda like the US Forever stamp.

Could be called a moonie.....

Masked and Anonymous's Last Silver Bullet 2:49 PM  

Yep. There yah go.
Put FLEAFLICKERPLAY (=15) down the center, for yer big revealer, and there's yer rodeo.

Vaguely recall that the bride's full name in the song was Oskie Babaleena.
Check it out, on You-tube.
Babalu, babalu-u-u, Babalu, babalu-u-U...
instant earworm, man.

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

Several posts above compare the loonie ($1) to the toonie ($2). The loonie is so named because there is a loon (waterfowl) on the obverse. More far-fetched, although possible, is that in Quebec it might resonate as the diminuitive of "l'un", or a "one".

Anonymous 3:23 PM  

Act like "it" in a game of hide and seek.

BocaBoy 3:58 PM  

According to my dictionary, The New Oxford, the plural of ALTO is not ALTI, it's ALTOS. It's what Rex would call a "cheap fill."

Brookboy 3:58 PM Thank you for your explanation. Seems to me, tho, that if you are correct, this clue would be a natick. But thanks for clearing it up for me.

@evan: Thank you for your response. I thought of that, but I didn't see why whalers in particular would be spinners of yarns any more than, say, novelists, or cowboys, or truckers, or fishermen, etc. I got to wondering if there might be an obscure definition of "YARNS" that applies particularly to whalers.

Mohair Sam 4:10 PM  

Great write up Cuban Pete. Rex take note.

To those confused by the TEE SHIRTS clue - attend a 76ers game. They shoot the things at the crowd with a Gattling gun, and later drop them on us with tiny parachutes. I haven't bought a TEE since 1997.

syndy 4:33 PM  

SO ALTI don't do SOLOS? Do ALTOS do SOLi? I got Naticked at CTS/TANGRAM and thanks @ JOHO for BOOZE explanation -what a great clue;too bad it went over my heart like a teeshirt shot from a bazooka. I thought the grid was somekind of sit down table tennis.

Steve J 5:04 PM  

@jackj: I believe the style guide applies to the clues of the NYT puzzle, but not necessarily the fill (someone please correct me if I'm wrong).

The mystery of the superfluous E was enough to mess me up in the SE for a good long time, as MALTWHISKY clearly would not fit. Finally, it occurred to me that the NYT was, indeed, misspelling Scotch whisky, so I begrudgingly put it in.

(The answer can be seen as doubly wrong from a certain perspective: in the world of Scotch, "malt" has a very specific meaning, and Dewar's does not fit it. Dewar's is a blend, not a malt. That said, the clue/answer combo is technically correct in that Dewar's is a whisk(e)y and not a gin or a vodka, nor is it made from, say, corn or rye, as opposed to the malted barley it does indeed use. But it clangs like a poorly-timed cowbell to anyone who's a connoisseur of good whisk(e)y.)

While that part left me a little grumpy, the rest of the puzzle would have left me so even if a different answer had been in that spot. I didn't get the theme (I'm not sure why the repeated M & W fill didn't click for me, but it didn't), so I just stumbled my way through it. No significant flaws here; it was just one of those puzzles where I was not on the same wavelength.

Ellen S 5:11 PM  

Nice writeup, Cuban Pete. Maybe more original than the puzzle, though I really liked parts of the puzzle (and all of your writeup).

Uncharacteristically, I got the theme early on, after trying to put Cab Calloway as the "Hootchie Cootchie Man" singer. Stung with shame, I noticed every letter of MUDDY WATERS, including the "M" and "W". Noticed that the grid looked ... creative, but didn't recognize the pattern as "M" and "W" until reading Pete's write-up.

Liked most of the puzzle -- nice thing about Sundays is, there's plenty of room for both clever cluing like "Still dripping" and "Opening words", and clunkers like RRN MMI, OTTOS, ENERO, AGRA, TNUT, etc. I didn't realize WHISK(E)Y was misspelled (I like Jamesons Irish Whiskey and haven't got the knack for single malt Scotch; tried something unpronounceable once--it tasted like turpentine.).

Had to have my brother explain to me about TEESHIRT cannons. I'm not sure I wanted to know. But maybe I don't have much standing to complain: I didn't like GMAT, thought the clue made it sound more commonly taken than I assume it is. I'd have thought GRE would be a more likely college srs. test. But my meager education ended with my BA, which probably explains why I DNF, with a big, sad empty space at the intersection of TANGRAM and CTS. Sigh.

Still, I had fun getting there. Even if it did take all day.

Ellen S 5:20 PM  

Oh -- the Liquor Mart website has a page headed "Dewar's Aberfeldy 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey." So it appears that Aberfeldy is marketed under the Dewar's label, but in small letters. And is an ingredient in the blends. The writeup spells it Whisky in the body and Whiskey in the header, apparently hedging its bets.

chefwen 6:23 PM  

I played Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker when in high school. Husband (boyfriend at the time) told me they were type casting.

Got through the puzzle O.K. but like @joho missed that snap, crackle, pop that I enjoy in a big 'ol Sunday puzz.

LaneB 6:56 PM  

Here it is almost 4pm PDT and I'm just winding the thing up.Lots of erasures and cursing with admiration over some of the clues. Finally figured out ERMA after flailing about with Kirk [also a gospel/R&B singer]. Never made the connection to Aretha until much too late. Lots of obscure stuff for the real x-word junkies, lots of 2-word fill. Thank heavens for the M and W theme words or I'd still be doing this one.

Anonymous 7:30 PM  

Ellen S.....where is the RRN?

Anonymous 7:36 PM  


Delaware 7:38 PM  

Thanks to a few of you for the explanation of "booze". Puzzled over that forever.Also question the answer "rare" for the ivory billed woodpecker. My husband is an avid birdwatcher and has a shirt with a picture of said bird and a big "Found" on the back. Mostly disproved now, however, as false sightings. Sadly, it seems to be definitely extinct. Tangrams bring me back to my 5th grade teaching career. A great fun way to teach lots of critical and creative thinking. We used them all the time.The puzzle left me a little flat today. I look for something with more humor and pizzaz.

Elle54 7:39 PM  

Is Ann Bancrofts son also Mel Brooks'son? I'll have to google.
Liked the write up, CP! Hooray for BABALOO!

sanfranman59 1:17 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
Wed 10:54, 9:44, 1.12, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 13:25, 16:47, 0.80, 15%, Easy
Fri 21:08, 20:54, 1.01, 57%, Medium
Sat 13:29, 25:16, 0.53, 1%, (ridiculously) Easy
Sun 24:07, 28:59, 0.83, 20%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:27, 3:49, 0.91, 6%, Easy
Tue 5:39, 4:57, 1.14, 83%, Challenging
Wed 6:22, 5:38, 1.13, 81%, Challenging
Thu 8:25, 9:37, 0.87, 23%, Easy-Medium
Fri 12:45, 11:56, 1.07, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 8:12, 15:08, 0.54, 1%, (ditto) Easy
Sun 16:40, 19:15, 0.84, 21%, Easy-Medium

Ellen S 4:58 AM  

Sorry to be so late: @Anonymous 7:30pm, it's 57D: Year the iPod came out.

spacecraft 11:21 AM  

I'll call this one mostly easy with a few spots of medium--plus a NW corner that was hard. So, medium.

"Most common elements" = MODES? That's a transition I can't make. I hope someone can shed some light on that one. Then we have to grok SAY AH out of "Opening words," possible but far from easy. And now what is shot at basketball games? I had __ES_I_TS (the frist S inferred by a plural clue). Had no clue about GMAT. Finally I hit on SAYAH and seemed to come up with _EESHIRTS. TEE? T-shirts shot at...well, I suppose the players' shirts (some wear tees under their uniforms) would certainly be "shot," as in dire need of laundering, by game's end. Only after reading @Cuban Pete's blog did I realize they're talking about the practice of catapulting souvenirs into the crowd with air cannons--a practice begun after the last time I attended a game.
This makes the second time this week that I've been unduly confused by goings-on at these events. TEE for TWO!

Understand: I went to a Sixers-Celtics game years ago. After Larry Bird bricked two free throws to ice the game in the final minute, the Sixers got the rebound and went upcourt for a chance to tie--but the Celtics forced a jump ball. This was tipped to Dr. J, who put up a three-pointer as time expired--and sank it, giving the Sixers a 95-94 win!! After that, I deemed that there was no use my ever attending another basketball game: it just doesn't get any better than that! And I never did.

Yes, I, too, was expecting more from up Mr. Chen's sleeve than simply M/W phrases. They are very good, though. And I note that with the (ANDRE the) giant M on top, including TOTEMPOLE, and W on the bottom, with SHAPE and BOSOM, we have...our mind in the gutter. Sorry, folks, guess I WENTROGUE there.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

@spacecraft I know just what you mean by never wanting to experience another [whatever] because the last one I experienced was so good it could never be topped. I stopped having sex for the same reason. Makes perfect sense!

Rick Beauchamp 1:05 PM  

Well done Cuban Pete!
We love our toonies and loonies up here, eh!

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

Most common elements = MODES? Anyone?

Dirigonzo 2:12 PM  

It takes a mighty tricky clue to hide BOOZE from me for any length of time - "Still dripping" was such a clue. Great misdirection - loved it! I actually noticed the m-w theme fairly early so I just plugged an "M" into the in initial box of every long answer and looked for a place for the "W", which was very helpful. I never did get the CTS connection to being beside the point (until I came here) so I reasoned that a military Command Post might be beside the point of the advance (they're not, they're in the rear so the officers aren't in any danger) so went with CpS even though I knew it was probably wrong.

Favorite comment is from loren muse smith: "A married woman who has spent some time in maternity ward, my eyes keep wandering over to the southwest, seeing BOSOM over ANKLE, and panicking a bit at how the distance between the two is shrinking." TMI perhaps, but still funny!

Those of you looking for an explanation of MODES should check out 1:16pm in the prime time comments.

That is all.

spacecraft 6:07 PM  

@anon 1:01: Now, wait just a minute. Basketball games and sex? If there ever was an apples-vs.-oranges comparison, that would be it. I mean, it was a real fun afternoon and the experience was memorable, but, um, the earth did not move. Sorry, Dr, j. You're good, but THAT good you ain't!

Of course, MODES is perfect for most common elements. I just didn't move my brain into math class, is all. Duh! [headslap]

Anonymous 12:37 AM  

No one will see this now as i work on the already weeklate puzzle then read comments...

But it's a TWONIE!!! it's our two dollar coin!!! and that's my way to spell it and my excuse!

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

When the one-dollar coin came out with a loon on the obverse side of the coin, it wasn't long before they were commonly referred to as "Loonies".

So when the $2 coin was issued, there was some speculation as to what it should be called. There was "Bearie" (heaven forbid!) and Toonie/Twonie, but my favourite was "Moonie" - because it had the Queen on the front with a bear behind (^_^)

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP