Richard of Rambo movies / SUN 6-9-13 / Star in Swan constellation / Hybrid musical instrument with shoulder strap / Charlene who played Lucy on Dallas / Mort who said my life needs editing / Lauro hijacked ship of 1985

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

Relative difficulty: Easy



THEME: "Fast One" — a puzzle about SECRETARIAT (64A: 95-Across who made the covers of Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated in the same week). Note accompanying the puzzle reads:


"ABOUT THIS PUZZLE: Complete the puzzle. Then connect the circled letters alphabetically from A to S to get an image related to the puzzle's theme." 


Theme answers:
  • 31A: Like 64-Across, in sports annals (CELEBRATED)
  • 13D: What 64-Across holds in the three legs of 46-Down (ALL-TIME RECORDS)
  • 46D: What 64-Across won on June 9, 1973 (THE TRIPLE CROWN)
  • 37D: Straightaway for 64-Across (HOME STRETCH)
  • 95A: Time and Newsweek's cover description of 64-Across (SUPERHORSE)
Tacked-on, non-symmetrical "theme" answers:
  • SIRE (98A: Bold Ruler, to 64-Across)
  • WREATH (90D: Victory wear for 64-Across)

Word of the Day: KEYTAR (15D: Hybrid musical instrument with a shoulder strap) —
keytar is a relatively lightweight keyboard (with or without a built-in synthesizer) that is supported by a strap around the neck and shoulders, similar to the way a guitar is supported by a strap. Keytars allow players a greater range of movement compared to conventional keyboards, which are placed on stationary stands. The instrument has a musical keyboard for triggering musical notes and sounds. Controls for, but not limited to, pitch bends, vibratoportamento, and sustain are placed on the instrument's "neck". The term "keytar" is a portmanteau of the words "keyboard" and "guitar". The term "keytar" might be considered slang or referenced from pop culture, as none of the major manufacturers of this style of keyboard had ever referred to this type of keyboard as a "keytar" in any printed material (model names, equipment manuals, advertisements, websites, etc.) for over 30 years. (wikipedia)

• • •

An interesting anniversary/tribute puzzle. The Belmont Stakes is this weekend, right? (Yes; it was today; Palace Malice won) I don't follow horse racing, and neither does anyone else anymore, frankly. People pretend to care once a year, when the Kentucky Derby rolls around, and then there's talk of "maybe this year" for a Triple Crown winner, then it doesn't happen, then people go back to not caring. Horse racing is like boxing, in that it used to be a big deal, but is now a niche "sport." And a relic. I love horse racing and boxing—in my film noir. Many of the best movies in that genre center around those sports, largely because they feature gambling, and thus are the sites of incredible corruption. But be all this as it may, the puzzle is neatly put together, and though I'm no fan of the "make a picture with your grid" puzzle, at least this connect-the-dots produces something that actually looks like what it's supposed to look like.

I wonder about the wisdom of going for the extra theme answers (the little, non-symmetrical ones). I mean, that SE corner is clearly the weakest one in the whole grid. I can't see how WREATH is worth having to endure PETRO, SORBIC, NBAER, ACHS, SOREST, and the overused ASSETS. There's absolutely no reason for the little corner to be that weak, unless WREATH somehow forced the issue.


There is some nice fill in this one, and some makeshift fill, and some nice makeshift fill. Both PET DOGS (44A: Lassie and Marmaduke, e.g.) and WIGMAKER (10D: Expert with locks?) feel somewhat slapdash, but I really like the latter. I don't recall ever seeing it—and it's certainly a real thing, so why not? CARPACCIO is an elegant answer (60A: Raw meat dish). The puzzle has the usual amount of crosswordese and partials—nothing noteworthy or egregious. I would've had an error–CAMINO / MARE instead of CASINO/SIRE—but the SHRINERs saved me (80D: Certain templegoer). I blew through this in under 10. Anything under 10 gets an "Easy" from me.

I managed to recall a *bunch* of 30-yr-old trivia today, from Richard CRENNA (60D: Richard of Rambo movies) to Charlene TILTON (77A: Charlene who played Lucy on "Dallas") to the ACHILLE Lauro (19A: ___ Lauro (hijacked ship of 1985))—all names from my sweet spot, i.e. my adolescence, i.e. the '80s. Also managed to remember DENEB (52A: Star in the Swan constellation), which remains a constellation I've only ever seen in crosswords. That answer helped me get the cleverly clued SIDE B (33D: Backtrack?), which makes a nice companion piece to PLAN B. I had DOG for 114A: Hardly a knockout (HAG) at first, and thought "wow, that's kind of harsh."

That is all.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    77 comments:

    jae 12:05 AM  

    Easy for me too.  My only erasure was hobos for CHEFS.   My problem with this is that it's pretty dull.  I know, it's a tribute puzzle.  Still, it's dull enough that I had no desire to connect the circles.  Instead I did the Peter Collins Sat. LAT puzzle which had a fair amount of zip.   Now if Craig Ferguson's horse had somehow....

    retired_chemist 12:28 AM  

    Easy here too. A lot of stuff I only know from crosswords. Didn't like it as well as Rex did, but it was OK.

    Once you get SECRETARIAT the rest of the theme falls right in place. Then it's just a matter of filling all the answers in, which is less fun than sweating over a bunch of it. Not even any interesting wrong answers.

    After I was done I had a flight of fancy about one N. BAER who played for the Bulls or Celtics.

    Thanks, Ms. Gorski.

    ps - we have two newborn pug boys after a C section today. Huge for pugs - 8.4 and 8.7 oz. at birth. Strong and doing well, although we need to bottle feed until mom's milk comes in. Hopefully soon.....

    Anonymous 12:40 AM  

    Liz Gorski....two weeks in a row...wow....plus my best finish... im happy

    John Child 12:57 AM  

    I bet I spent a quarter of my time looking at the intersection of PICOTS, ITHACA and ROCS. Never heard of a picot and couldn't see either of the other answers for a loong time. Southeast was miserable; all else pretty straightforward and fun.

    Ellen S 1:26 AM  

    Jeez, @John Child, picots are so common in crosswords you could make a tablecloth out of all the little loopy things. Your choice whether to make the loops by crocheting, knitting or tatting. Keep that in mind, since the method is often part of the clue or answer.

    Me, I bought into ugly stereotyping and put PriorS for "Rap stars often have them." I am glad that was the wrong answer.

    Thank you Ms. Gorski; I always like horse puzzles. Once, many years ago, there was a grid with all the Triple Crown winners. Another one included the name of the Duke of Wellington's horse. We're now all trained on the Iron Duke -- Arthur Wellesley. But his horse? Surely he had more than one but I guess there was a favorite. It remember it was some weird long geographical name, "City of Pittsburgh" or "Greater Metropolitan Boston" but turns out it was just a city name: Copenhagen. (One article Google found for me starts out, "everybody knows the name of the Duke of Wellington's horse...")

    Benko 1:28 AM  

    @Jae--Also was reminded of Secretariat on Craig Ferguson's show. I bet a lot of his viewers were.
    @Rex--They never call the constellation the Swan outside of crosswords, only the Latin Cygnus.
    I thought this was mostly easy with only a few tough answers inferable from crosses. Not a bad puzzle in my view.

    pmdm 1:38 AM  

    This puzzle seemed to me to be the easiest Sunday puzzle for a very long time, perhaps the easiest ever for me. I suspect the easiness for me was due to a dearth of [obscure to me] proper nouns. But a most enjoyable puzzle. Much, much more enjoyable than encountering all sort of names that I really don't care about. My enthusiastic congratulations to Elizabeth Gorski. A wonderful prelude to my vacation this week in Watkins Glen going around and sampling wine in the 100+ wineries in the Finger Lakes region.

    Perhaps its just my wild imagination, but does anyone else see the picture as a sitting dog. It reminds me of my friend's recently deceased black lab.

    One other thing impressed me. Except the line segment from A to B, the lines avoid going through black squares, which I consider quite a feat considering the density of themed answers in the puzzle. That just had to have been planned. Bravo.

    dmw 1:44 AM  

    Under an hour for an amateur with only one error means it was easy too.

    I thought some of the cluing was really clever, so fun.

    chefwen 2:20 AM  

    Liz Gorski, circles, drawing on my puzzle and for Gods sake it's about a horse. Does it get any better? A know more than a few commenters here that are as happy as I am right now.

    Other than NBAER I can't find anything to gripe about.

    @Ret_Chem - Good luck with your new babies. Mine are growing in quantum leaps.

    @Ellen S. - Yup, they are both little (not so) girls.

    Martin 2:46 AM  

    If you've never seen Cygnus except in crosswords you can't have seen many constellations. It's a huge cross in the sky, directly overhead for most of the summer in New York. Deneb is one of the three stars (with Vega in Lyra and Altair in Aquilla) of the Summer Triangle, which is the first stargazing thing you teach a child.

    C'mon. Go find Cygnus. It'll make you smile.

    Bob Kerfuffle 4:10 AM  

    Puzzle was OK until I connected the dots - then it became fantastic! This is no martini glass or other angular shape, but a striking picture of a horse. Not only does the outline not pass through any black squares, but the black squares within the lines appear to be an integral part of the image! (The colors are reversed, but compare to this image.

    Of course I had to Google KEYTAR post-solve, but that's a clever word, too.

    chefwen 4:29 AM  

    Oops! Maybe "I know" would have worked better than a know. Watch where the fingers hit the keys little one.

    Anonymous 5:25 AM  

    Please explain ADV!

    - Billy

    Too old to care 5:43 AM  

    To all I say, "curb your enthusiasm". Too easy = boring. It might have been a little more interesting if it appeared a month ago at the start of the triple crown season?

    @Ellen, PRIORS is very clever for that clue. POSSES may resonate with rap fans, but isn't a connection that graybeards would spot. Crosses gave it to me.

    Bob Kerfuffle 6:01 AM  

    Specifically @Billy, 5:25 AM - 72 A, "Now or never: Abbr." are both ADVerbs.

    In general, to anyone with a question about short answers: You can save everyone a lot of grid-searching if you specify the clue number!

    chefbea 7:59 AM  

    Great puzzle!! Started it last night and outlined the horse's head..then finished this morning. Had trouble with the northwest cuz I didn't know palp.

    Guess you can just call me a pan-handler!!

    Milford 8:18 AM  

    Easyish Sunday, didn't really think about the connection of letters for the picture until the end, but it did help verify that DENEB was correct.

    Little hang up in the Oregon area due to having aTHens before ITHACA.

    @Martin - honestly, I've never had Cygnus pointed out to me ever. The Dippers, Cassiopeia the W, and Orion with Sirius are really the only ones. But now I'll look this summer!

    @too old to care - this puzzle is aptly placed today because of the 46D clue.

    Easy, breezy Sunday, and the picture is pretty good, I agree!

    Tita 8:30 AM  



    @Rex - Look up.

    @Ellen S - PriorS - Hall of Fame material! Hope I can get to updating it before I head out this morning...

    Could see the image in the grid before starting, and noticed a headline int hte NYT about Palace Malice, and connected those 2 dots. So puzzle was real easy. And fun.

    Favorite word - INKLING.

    When I was a kid, the family 2 houses down had a dumbwaiter btwn the basement and kitchen. I was mesmerized by it, and kept looking for places where we could install one at our house.

    Thanks for that memory, and a pleasant Sunday, Liz!

    Here is the Connet-the-dots picture of my grid.
    (I solved on paper, but went back to me app to add in all the extra theme answers and to draw the image.)

    Tita 8:36 AM  

    @Ellen - updated the Epic Wrong Answer Hall of Fame to reflect your contribution.

    Now it's out to the garden to get some more poison ivy rash. (Seems that's what I'm best at in the gardening department...)

    ae548d8e-d103-11e2-8b10-000f20980440 8:54 AM  

    Fun Sunday puzzle - and a good day for everyone to finish quickly and get on with the rest of the day. :)

    Anonymous 9:01 AM  

    If you have PLAN B, can you also have SIDE B? Perhaps it is not technically a repetition, but it doesn't feel right.

    jberg 10:05 AM  

    17A is also theme related, via the clue, and 23D could be. I like that sort of thing, but I agree it might be worth giving it up to get rid of NBAER.

    The TILTON/CRENNA intersection was a guess for me, but the N was the most likely choice.

    Many other nice features: IN ORBIT next to NEWTON, the unlikely thought of Mort SAHL at a USO SHOW-- and, of course INKLING and HITHERTO. So I liked it, despite its easiness.

    Writeovers: WIGsmith before MAKER, HereunTO before HITHERTO.

    I'm very puzzled by 41A, "Frankfurt's river," though. The full name of the city is Frankfurt am Rhein, isn't it? Is there an Oder river in Kentucky, or some evern more obscure Frankfurt? Or could this be an actual mistake?

    Oh, OK -- I had looked up Oder, to no avail, but now I looked up Frankfurt, and there's another one in Brandenburg -- I guess that's why the bigger version has the river added to its name. Pretty obscure, but OK in this otherwise easy puzzle.

    jackj 10:15 AM  

    Graphic art puzzles that provide a satisfactory theme, interesting fill and a credible, solver drawn image, are complicated undertakings that require the constructor to have a large dollop of derring-do in their DNA in order to even attempt one.

    The ending of Longfellow’s nursery rhyme says it all for the success or failure of these efforts:

    “When she was good,
    She was very good indeed,
    But when she was bad she was horrid.”

    Today’s is “very good indeed”, and when I was solving it yesterday afternoon, it was augmented by my television concurrently relaying the running of the third leg of horse racing’s TRIPLE CROWN, (The Belmont Stakes, won by Palace Malice, a 13 to 1 long shot), while my pen was rapidly filling the grid with SECRETARIAT memories, knowing a drawing representing this extraordinary horse was also lurking in Liz’s circles.

    This was a puzzle that was dominated by 3, 4 and 5 letter answers, a necessary process to allow for the precise placing of the circles, (in order to create a visual that looks like a gallant horse and not a giraffe) but with Gorski’s skill, she gave us fill, that was very, very good, naught (save OMER), horrid.

    One of the simplest entries to strike my fancy was the clue for SAHL, seeking the answer to “Mort who said, “My life needs editing””; then, a more confusing clever beauty of an entry came from the separation of SAUER from “Braten” (when joined, obviously, we have the treat of German pot roast) and a strong third pleasure was “”Slightest idea” for a wonderful word that’s fun to see and fun to say, INKLING.

    Many more treats await the solver; there’s no DEARTH of fun in this puzzle, as Liz has delivered us an EPIC tribute for a deservedly CELEBRATED equine all-star and an artistic turn that reminds us of LeRoy Neiman’s sporting art.

    Liz wins in a romp!

    Anonymous 10:19 AM  

    My only erase was "priors" - shame on us, Ellen!

    Z 10:33 AM  

    The backSTRETCH was where I lost the race.

    Between fixing the middle section and having to piece together CARPACCIO the puzzle was more medium to me.

    Regarding DENEB, does not knowing you are looking at it mean that you've never seen it?

    Where is my beautiful sunny day going? Solved in sunshine, now the clouds have rolled in.

    Gill I. P. 10:36 AM  

    Started this last night before heading out to Barbara's Fish Trap. After a full belly of sea food and wine, I completed it and thought OOH I do love me a horse theme. (Hi @chefwen)
    I too thought it was on the easy side but I still marvel at Ms Gorski's ability to make easy fun and smooth.
    The only thing that really kept me back was that I wrote in Seattle Slew at first (which fits) but HOME STRETCH saved the day.
    I didn't get a note that said to draw in the horse head but it really was obvious. I used to draw horses of every size shape and color when I was about 7. We grew up with those critters. To this day, I still love the smell of horse manure.
    @Tita from yesterday. You'd better give me a heads up when you visit the upper left side - otherwise I'd be tres enfadada if you didn't.....
    Off to breakfast and a nice hike on the coast where its COOL....

    ed wallace 10:43 AM  

    Always delighted when I see the Sunday puzzle is by "Elizabeth Gorski." This one did not disappoint.

    Thanks Ms. Gorski!

    Rob C 10:56 AM  

    Very easy Sunday. The fill was very good for the most part. The horse really looks like a horse too.

    NBAer was a stretch. CELEBRATED is a fine word, but meh as part of the theme.

    83D in last Sunday's puzzle (also by E Gorsky) was 'Nickname for Secretariat': BIG RED - where the RED was part of the red/blue/purple theme. Interesting she didn't work it in here too. So is there a name for when a theme answer fits perfectly with 2 consecutive puzzles by the same constructor, even though it wasn't used in one? Well, there shouldn't be.

    Notsofast 10:57 AM  

    E.Gorski never disappoints. A fun, easy Sunday. Love Ben Folds. My sister was once his baby-sitter.

    retired_chemist 11:05 AM  

    @ jberg - Frankfurt am Main is the bigger Frankfurt in Germany (>700,000), and is what most would mean if just saying "Frankfurt." Frankfurt an dem Oder is smaller but not obscurely so. About 60.000 (Wikipedia).

    The name tells you that the Main and Oder rivers have different genders, which I find interesting.

    Merle 11:11 AM  

    Pleasant, easy puzzle, and yes, discovering the outline of the horse was fun, and actually served as a great theme clue, helping me solve the puzzle. Re 114 A, "hardly a knockout", "hag", yes, harsh, especially coming from a female constructor! Also dangerous, tempting fate -- if Medusa learns about this, she can show you what a knockout a hag can be!

    I guess we have to reiterate, it's all about what's in your wheelhouse. Am I as old as "too old to care is"? I'm about to turn 71, I'm a big girl now, and "posses" was a gimme -- I'm not a hip-hop/rap fan, but I sure know "posses". I don't give a "rap" -- could have said I don't give a fig, but my posse says, say rap! -- about racing, but of course I know about Secretariat. And circa 1970, Secretariat's big win, is easy to call upon.

    Achille Lauro, 1985 hijacked ship, is sadly remembered for the terrorist murder of a man in a wheelchair!

    Many cultural references just fell into place -- Shirley Temple, Ithaca as Odysseus's 'hood, unit of force newton, could have been a fig newton, right -- but not a rap newton.

    Keytar is a fine new word for a crossword puzzle. Now we're all prepared when we see it again.

    Mohair Sam 12:04 PM  

    Super easy Sunday. But that's OK, the weather is beautiful and my mother always wanted us to play outside - so we will.

    Got SECRETARIAT on sight and ran from there.

    Compensates for the brutal Friday - but it rained that day, and gave us something to do.

    Fun cluing - loved INKLING, and @Ellen had the best answer for 57D for sure.

    Anonymous 12:10 PM  

    @pmdm: As @Bob Kerfuffle suggested, if the line from A to B is drawn to avoid black squares, the picture actually looks more realistic.
    See this

    wa 12:15 PM  

    Extremely easy but I never remember omer which should be followed by impson.

    Like Rex, wigmaker was a bit of a stretch.

    Carola 12:19 PM  

    The picture made the puzzle for me - that and @Ellen S's alternate names for the Iron Duke's HORSE. My interest in horse racing is at the DEARTH level, so was lucky that SECRETARIAT is the only TRIPLE CROWN WINNER I can name. That allowed me to proceed APACE to the finish.

    I wondered if TAMERS was also theme-related - or maybe a thoroughbred never needs one...unless it REARS all the time?

    Opera programs often credit a WIG MAKER.

    @Sandy K - Nice diagramless, I thought. "What's the theme?" kept me guessing until the reveal, and even then I had to think about the "halved" part. I liked the flora in 43D, 54D, and especially 37D. Also liked the 8D, 11D, and 14 D series and the neighboring 45D and 61D. I got into trouble with the non-fashionable dresser - I had the wrong word but three of the letters worked with the Downs so was flummoxed there for a while (SPOILER ALERT: synonym for "hobo," rhymes with "stamp"

    Tita 12:28 PM  

    The Musee Rodin in Paris is a mansion built for a WIGMAKER, back when tehre was big money on that, back before they chopped off so many of those WIGbearing heads.
    It is a spectacular house, garden. and museum.

    Rodin made a deal with the French state - you can have all my artwork, I can live here the rest of my life.
    Such a deal!

    Benko 12:30 PM  

    @Tita--
    I was doing an older NYT puzzle yesterday and had an answer possibly worthy of inclusion..
    The clue was "They're Good At Hits". The correct answer was "turnouts", but I wrote in "burnouts".

    Sandy K 12:31 PM  

    Enjoyable 40th anniversary tribute puzzle to SECRETARIAT!

    Theme and answers were pretty easy.
    Wasn't sure about KEYTAR and CARPACCIO, and had skid MARKS before TIRE MARKS, but my solving time might've been an ALL-TIME RECORD for a Sunday.

    I had fun connecting the dots- I'm one of the few who liked the picture of the TITANIC in last year's puz too. UH HUH...

    @Carola- Finished the Diagramless-but revealer says answer has 'been halved'. Am I missing something?

    Sandy K 12:48 PM  

    @Carola- My comment went in w/o seeing yours...I'm a slow typer.
    I still do not get the 'halved' part!?
    The theme is a 4-letter fruit and I found it hidden in 4 answers. So what the heck is halved??

    Would've liked grid to be a 'sorta' picture of the fruit.

    syndy 12:49 PM  

    Have Denebian Slime Devils made it to the NYTCWP? I was worried that Rex and the Rexites would fail to recognize SHIRLEY TEMPLE.... I was naticked at KEYTAR/OMER but always a LaLiz fan

    Miette 12:51 PM  

    You don't "tame" a horse. You "break a horse.

    Carola 12:56 PM  

    @Sandy K - (SPOILER ALERT for Diagramless solvers) - Look at, say, 1D and draw a line to separate the two words of the answer - presto! you've cut your fruit in half. I especially liked the way this worked in 37D, as you get half a fruit within a whole fruit.

    Sandy K 1:09 PM  

    @Carola- Duh!! I got it now- thank you!!

    Yes, 37D was the best example...and LOL for your non-fashionable dresser- a good possibility as 3 letters were correct! : )

    Helpful Guy 2:03 PM  

    @Miette
    You should "close" your quotations.

    Brookboy 2:35 PM  

    My first Sunday puzzle in about three months due to a hospital stay, so it was enjoyable for me on a bunch of levels. Great way to spend time on a lazy Saturday. Thank you, Ms. Gorski (and you too, Mr. Shortz). The puzzle was on the easy side, but thoroughly enjoyable to me.

    Got the Secretariat theme right away, which made the puzzle all the easier.

    Got stuck big-time on 10D: put in WIGMAvEn, then could not get that out of my head until this (Sunday) morning. Once I finally got WIGMAKER the crosses made sense.

    joho 3:25 PM  

    I nominate this puzzle for best picture of the year!

    Ms. Gorski takes win, place and show with this one. So much fun!

    I've been gone all day at a car show benefitting juvenile arthritis in Ault Park in Cincinnati. Oh, the cars are spectacular! And I actually saw a Porsche Targa ... TARGA being in the puzzle recently.

    I digress. Back to this wonderful puzzle. As I said, the drawn picture is perfect and especially each ear. NOTE: 113A = EAR!

    Thank you, Liz, your puzzles are remarkable!

    mac 4:40 PM  

    A real Sunday puzzle, easy but not too. I enjoyed even the drawing! That's a great horse. I also spent a lot of time drawing horses when I was little.

    @ret_chem: that's interesting. It is "die Elbe", but it's Frankfurt am Oder (der Oder).

    retired_chemist 5:28 PM  
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    retired_chemist 5:29 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    retired_chemist 5:30 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    retired_chemist 5:32 PM  

    http://krautblog-ulrich.blogspot.com/
    @ mac - Ulrich and I had a discussion of the genders of rivers on KrautBlog a while back. I don't recall the dates and a quick scan of his archive didn't help.

    Although an Anglophone, I have no problem with rivers having a gender in another language. However it puzzles me why they are not all one or the other.

    Carola 5:42 PM  

    @retired_chemist and @mac - Same thought here on why rivers don't all have the same gender - after all, in German the word for river is masculine (der Fluß), so why not river names, too. But no, quite a few are feminine. One of the many difficult things I found about learning German.

    One of the feminine ones is die Oder and the name of the city is Frankfurt an der Oder - "der" here, because it's the feminine dative case, showing location.

    I missed the post about rivers on Ulrich's blog - would definitely be interested in reading it.

    Miette 5:47 PM  

    I'm having trouble with some of the keys on my blackberry. It messes up when I hit the ALT key sometimes. Apparently that happened there.

    retired_chemist 5:49 PM  

    @Carola - Ack - yes, der not dem as I first posted. A tough typo to find.

    Anonymous 5:58 PM  

    Could someone please explain:

    "This comment has been removed by the author".

    Who is the author and how do they remove the comment?

    Thank you.

    Bob Kerfuffle 6:24 PM  

    Just back from a day at the beach, which is why I haven't commented earlier.

    @Anonymous, 12:10 PM -- As one who has made a point in the past of giving credit where due, I must apologize to @pmdm, who made the original observation (at 1:38 AM!) of the beauty of the lines not passing through black squares - I meant to give credit but forgot in my haste to get out the door.

    And @Anonymous 5:58 PM, if the comment has been removed by the author, that would be the person who posted it, using a name, not anonymously, who will see a trash can icon (which no one else sees) which can be used, usually to remove a comment and replace it with one which has been grammatically or factually corrected by that same person. On some blogs, you may see a comment that a post has been removed by a blog administrator, or it may just disappear without a trace for the same reason. That would only happen if a comment so completely upsets the blog moderator that it is unacceptable to remain.

    Anonymous 6:41 PM  

    @Bob Kerfuffle

    Thanks for answering, but I have never seen a trash icon as an option. Where would it be located?
    I don't usually post anonymously, but I have never seen it.

    Bob Kerfuffle 6:50 PM  

    Just to the right of my avatar, at the top of my comment, is:

    Bob Kerfuffle 6:24 PM [trash can icon]

    I tried copying and pasting, but the icon didn't come through.

    Bob Kerfuffle 6:52 PM  

    Well, the time and icon are at the top when I look at one version of the comments section, but it also sits at the bottom left in another version of comments!!!!!

    Z 6:56 PM  

    @anon and @Bob Kerfuffle - I believe you have to sign in with an account to get the ability to delete your comment. If you use the Name/URL option you won't be able to delete. I don't know what happens with the OpenID option.

    Anonymous 7:10 PM  

    @Bob Kerfuffle and @Z

    Thank you both for the info. You've been very helpful.

    sanfranman59 8:03 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 5:58, 6:09, 0.97, 35%, Easy-Medium
    Tue 8:25, 8:14, 1.02, 59%, Medium
    Wed 9:44, 9:54, 0.98, 46%, Medium
    Thu 12:31, 17:11, 0.73, 7%, Easy
    Fri 28:18, 21:35, 1.31, 94%, Challenging
    Sat 21:46, 25:16, 0.86, 19%, Easy
    Sun 23:27, 28:47, 0.81, 15%, Easy

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:37, 3:46, 0.96, 23%, Easy-Medium
    Tue 4:52, 4:53, 1.00, 49%, Medium
    Wed 5:34, 5:40, 0.98, 46%, Medium
    Thu 7:21, 9:49, 0.75, 8%, Easy
    Fri 16:35, 12:19, 1.35, 91%, Challenging
    Sat 12:45, 15:08, 0.84, 20%, Easy-Medium
    Sun 14:43, 19:39, 0.76, 7%, Easy (6th lowest ratio of 89 Sundays)

    OISK 8:54 PM  

    Rex, there are still racing fans out there. Try to get a seat at Saratoga in August. I was at Belmont when Secretariat won. Twice a Prince ran second; I hit the exacta. I also was there to see Affirmed just nip Alydar at the wire -my dad used to take me every year. Wonderful idea for a puzzle. Easier than usual, it is true, but still great fun, and cleverly clued. But who or what is Steely Dan? A person, or a group? ( I recently learned that "Santana" is both). And what did "AJA" stand for?

    Susan McConnell 9:46 PM  

    Loved this. I normally don't care for circles puzzles, but this was fun, and at the end I had one fine horsey to show for it! Yay!

    mac 10:11 PM  

    @Carola: I've seen several "Frankfurt am Oder" mentions, in fact no "an der Oder" ones at all. I have no clue why.

    nurturing 10:45 PM  

    I appreciated the shout-out to Petro-Canada. Getting one's gas from Petro-Canada stations (whose logo employs the image of the Canadian flag) means paying a little less for it than at, say, Esso or Shell.

    There was one on my corner when I lived in T.O. There are none in the small Ontario town where I now live and where Ultramar and Esso reign alongside smaller gas providers whose names one doesn't necessarily remember.

    nurturing 10:46 PM  

    (My trash icon is on the bottom left, to the right of the timestamp.)

    long suffering mets fan 12:03 AM  

    A too easy Sunday

    Agree with @jae, Peter Collins' Sat LA Times was a challenging winner

    Art is not my forte, my horsey looks something like Dolly Parton sunbathing on a catamaran

    LaneB 2:29 AM  

    Couldn't spend the time today but agree with the "easy" designation and will finish up tomorrow. A doubleheader.

    SamK 9:34 AM  

    Easy one for me. Just got around to it this morning. I misspelled "Defoe" which was my only issue.

    jburgs 2:26 PM  

    Does anyone not think that at 18A the clue should have read Louis` rather than Louises Agree with you Rex about interest in horse racing and boxing these days.See you at Roller Derby on Thursday. Rosie the Ratcheter is back after her suspension. Know you `re a fan

    Anonymous 1:51 PM  

    still can't see Sunday's 18a "ROI" answer. What am I missing...

    nytcrossword.com 2:10 PM  

    18. One of several Louises : ROI
    Louis XIV is perhaps the most famous of the kings ("rois") of France and was known as the "Sun King" (le Roi Soleil"). Louis XIV was king from 1638 to 1715, a reign of over 72 years, which is the longest reign of any European monarch.

    spacecraft 12:35 PM  

    Nice tribute to one of the most astounding athletes of all time. To watch him run was to feel your jaw drop. My paper edition did not carry the extra note; I don't draw those pictures because they usually look like a drunk mapped them out, and the puzzle can stand on its own. Geez, a Gorski should, at least!

    That said, I agree with OFL that one should indeed hang a WREATH on the SE, declare it dead, and redo--leaving NBAERs to duke it out in the finals. They, and all the other "-ers," do NOT belong in crossword puzzles.

    A few other entires in need of some Febreeze (WOOERS? Really?) plus some endweek clue obfuscation made this easy-medium for me--a bit of a slog--and a qualified thumbs-up for me. Say, thumbs at 3/4, only because 21x21s are tougher to fill.

    rain forest 2:24 PM  

    I didn't find this easy, and it took some time, despite the fact that all the SECRETARIAT answers came quickly. What a horse that was! Not too often does an animal capture the fancy of an entire nation, but his run from last place in the '73 Kentucky Derby not to mention his astounding race in the Belmont are examples of extraordinary athleticism. Of course I connected the circles. Btw, even though that SW corner contained a couple of dogs, I was proud of PETRO-Canada, and thought there was nothing wrong with SORBIC acid. All in all, I liked this one even though I took longer than I do on some Sundays.

    Dirigonzo 3:47 PM  

    Well I decided that Lassie and Marmaduke were probably sETDOGS, as in being on a TV- or movie-set (weren't they both in one or the other?) so finished with OWS on that count. I also knew with certainty that the Steely Dan album was AJA, but I decided uRI sounded decidedly more Hebrew than ARI (isn't that a shortened version of ARIstotle, a Greek name?) so I ended with TWS just out of stubborness.

    Re the discussion about the trash can icon, I should probably use mine more often but sometimes the typos are the most interesting part of my posts, so I just leave them in.

    Anonymous 6:35 AM  

    I'm a horse owner/rider, and an all year round horse racing follower so this puzzle was a welcome, albeit mainly easy, treat. Now for a puzzle about Man O'War...

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