Capacitance measure / SUN 8-11-13 / Strength of a solution / Berlin Olympics hero / Numero of countries bordering Guatemala / Subsidy / Part of a barrel / Eastern Mediterranean port / Moon goddess / Old ad figure with a big nose / Ancient Hindu scripture / Often-blue garden blooms / Birds' beaks

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Constructor: Dan Schoenholz

Relative difficulty: FAIL



THEME: "Added Satisfaction" — Add "AH" to familiar phrases. Wackiness ensues.

Words of the Day: FARAD (13A: Capacitance measure) —
The farad (symbol: F) is the SI derived unit of electrical capacitance. It is named after the English physicist Michael Faraday.


TITER (117A: Strength of a solution) —

A titer (or titre) is a way of expressing concentration. Titer testing employs serial dilution to obtain approximate quantitative information from an analytical procedure that inherently only evaluates as positive or negative. The titer corresponds to the highest dilution factor that still yields a positive reading. For example, positive readings in the first 8 serial twofold dilutions translate into a titer of 1:256 (i.e., 2−8). Titers are sometimes expressed by the denominator only, for example 1:256 is written 256.
(Wikipedia)
• • •

I despise this puzzle, let me make that clear from the start. 90% of it is fine, but there are a few answers here that make me angry. I was a liberal arts major, so science was not my favorite subject. Maybe you know TITER and FARAD. I have never heard of them, nor do I recall ever seeing them in print. The reason I have such antipathy toward the puzzle is that, by the time I had accepted that the northeast and southeast corners must be FARAD and TITER, I had given up on VOLTA (49A: Upper __)/COAT (34D: Slather).

My European geography is far better than my African geography, and therefore, the only geographical VOL_A I could come up with was VOLGA. The Volga is the longest river in Europe, and there is a region known as Upper Volga. So, I somehow rationalized that COAG must be .... I don't know. It was late, and I was frustrated.


Hi there, I'm Tyler Clark filling in for Rex who, along with other fun-loving puzzlers, attended Lollapuzzoola 6 yesterday. I desperately wanted to go but was unable to, so I'll be awaiting the home version, like some of you.
"Which puzzle would you like to do?" Rex asked me.
"I love Sundays," I replied.
Grrrrrr.

Theme answers:
  • AFTER ALL[AH] (26A: Where most things rank in importance to a Muslim?)
  • JUST SAY NO[AH] (42A: Webster's directive to the overly formal?)
  • HOOK[AH] LINE AND SINKER (62A: Equipment list for a hashish-smoking fisherman?)
  • LEFT B[AH]RAIN (86A: Departed from Manama, maybe?)
  • AUNTIE [AH]EM (102A: Niece's polite interruption?)
  • S[AH]ARA SMILE (25D: Welcome look from a Bedouin?)
  • HEAD TO T[AH]OE (52D: What many Bay Area skiers do on winter weekends?)

I thought the theme was okay. Fairly standard add-a-sound routine, so it didn't trip me up so much. Most came quickly, and HOOKAH... was so easy, it opened up a bunch of answers right away. Apparently "Sara Smile" was a Top 10 single by Hall & Oates in 1976. I've heard a few tunes in my day, but not this one. So, I had to puzzle out SAHARA from Bedouin, which wasn't too hard.
Cross-referencers:
  • POUND (19A: 16 23-Acrosses)
  • OUNCE (23A: See 19-Across)
  • SOT (66D: One who's all wet?)
  • WINO (80D: One type of 66-Down)

Memorize these:
If you're just getting into crosswords, you'll see these repeatedly and might as well commit them to a special place in your memory for quick recall.
  • LEI (76D: Hawaii's __ Day) — 3 letters, Hawaii in the clue... it's either LEI or UKE
  • AJA (10A: 1977 double-platinum Steely Dan album) — I've never, ever heard of this album outside of crosswords
  • ORC (28A: Foe of Frodo) — You'll see it clued a few different ways, all either related to Tolkien or Dungeons & Dragons.
  • RIATA (22D: Vaquero's rope) — Quite common
  • ITINA (85A: 1986 rock autobiography) — Tina Turner wrote I, Tina.
  • ERS (89A: Sounds edited out for radio) — I had EMS for a while, so this tripped me up a bit. A more traditional clue would be something like "Hospital triage centers"
  • AGA (12D: Turkish big shot) — Another word I learned from crosswords
  • ADOS (16D: Commotions) — When singular, you'll want TODO
  • JIB (42D: Foresail)
  • UMA (43D: Thurman of "Kill Bill") — Also clued from Pulp Fiction or The Producers (also look for her character in that, ULLA)
  • OKIE (58D: 1930s migrant) — Also clued in reference to Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath or Merle Haggard's "__ from Muskogee"
  • ATRI (100D: Italian bell town)

Bullets:
  • POESY (57A: Burns books) — Tricky without the plural possessive apostrophe. Think poet Robert Burns.
  • SUBTITLES (35A: Low notes?) — I had _UB_ to start this answer, to I penciled in TUBA, and it took me a long time to sort this out. But I like it.
  • PELT (74A: Hide) — Love the misdirection here. I was thinking verb.
  • ITER (78A: Way, in Pompeii) — Another Word of the Day candidate, this. Apparently, it's Latin for "road," which I did not know. I think it also refers to neural brain passages?
  • BAWD (51A: Madam) — Don't think I've seen BAWD without a Y on the end. BAUD, however, is another story.
  • STAVE (113A: Part of a barrel) — Another I did not know. STAVE, for me, is a musical reference.
  • FATTENS (13D: Prepares to eat, perhaps) — Love this clue. Just reread Roald Dahl's short story "Pig" this week. Highly recommended.
  • STUD POKER (35D: Game for those who don't like to draw)
  • ROSEN (45D: 1953 A.L. M.V.P. Al)
  • VEDA (49D: Ancient Hindu scripture)
  • LARKSPURS (50D: Often-blue garden blooms) — Never heard of it.
  • NEBS (65D: Birds' beaks) — Also not familiar to me.
  • OVER RATES (72D: Extends too much credit?) — Didn't like this.
  • ENOLA GAY (81D: Historic exhibit at Washington Dulles airport)
  • UTHER (92D: King Arthur's father) — Uther Pendragon. Just read The Once and Future King by T.H. White, so I filled this in as quickly as anything.
  • SIEGE (93D: Military blockade)
  • AMBER (97D: Insect trapper)
  • ACT I (105D: When Stanley cries "Hey, Stella!" in "A Streetcar Named Desire")
  • LUNA (7D: Moon goddess) — As a parent, I will always associate LUNA with "Bear in the Big Blue House"
  • NYNY (104D: "30 ROCK" setting, briefly)
  • LIE (86D: "A __ cannot live": Martin Luther King Jr.)
  • OWENS (79A: Berlin Olympics hero)
  • ACERB (109A: Caustic) — I love seeing this word, but I never manage to use it in conversation
  • REUNE (112A: Get the old gang together) — Is this legit? Have you ever used this?


Signed, Tyler Clark, Fan of CrossWorld

114 comments:

August West 7:23 AM  

Ah! So enjoyable! Grrrrrrrreeeeaaaat clueing throughout. Funny, "aha!" themed answers. STUD POKER, HOT DATES and FATTENS also outstanding.

UTHER? UMA. UMA? UTHER. (::..in best Homer..:: Sometimes I just think funny things.)

This thing couldn't be TITER. Well, belay my last. That Mid Southeast UHUH/NYNY/ETHYL/REUNE/ASHY block is a hot cheatin' mess. Still, best effort I've seen since our "astonishing" HOFer from a few Thursdays back. Lived one road over from LARKSPUR Drive as a kid. Never knew WTH a larkspur was. Now I do.

Loved it. Killed it. Great job, Dan!

mitchs 7:43 AM  

Liked it a LOT more than most Sundays - lots of great fill - for some reason I loved seeing UPHOLSTER. Enough tough cluing to provide a challenge.

chefbea 7:48 AM  

Heavens!!! I'm the 3rd poster. That never happens. I see now...Tyler just posted the blog half hour ago.

Did most of the puzzle last night and really didn't like it either,. Couldn't get Sahara smile. Never heard of that song.

Was not fun!!!

Glimmerglass 8:06 AM  

I passed. In fact, I aced it.

Thoracic 8:09 AM  

Loved it. Lots of clever cluing, theme answers tight. Of course there is some crosswordese. That's why it is called crosswordese- because it is frequently seen in crosswords! It's a Sunday- there is going to be some iffy stuff to go with the important/good stuff.
Great write-up too.

Susan McConnell 8:11 AM  

My experience could not be more different than Tyler's. I usually solve on paper, but instead of receiving the Sunday good parts in my driveway on Saturday morning like I usually do, I was treated to a copy of Korea Daily. Whoops. So, I did this last night on Across Lite and truly sped through it. Yes, we've seen the add-a-sound thing many times but I liked these...the theme answers were fresh and funny. The only downers for me were reading that Tyler was unfamiliar with Steely Dan's AJA album, and has never heard "SARAH SMILE". Now I get to spend the rest of the day feeling like the old fuddy duddy I clearly am.

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

I quail at the thought of perusing Tyler's music collection.

Noam D. Eahlkies 9:02 AM  

Ah, that was fun.

With 13A:FARAD already in the grid, 49A:VOLTA might have been clued as battery inventor Alessandro, which even a liberal-arts major ;-) could infer from "volt" plus the Italian -a ending. As for 117A:TITER (which is no worse than common pop-cult nonsense like ITINA), you must have heard your Chem or Pre-med friends talk about doing "titrations"; did you ever have the curiosity to ask them just what they were measuring? They wouldn't call it a "titer", but the description would be close enough to make the connection.

As for 51A:BAWD, surely you've run across examples in Shakespeare such as this from _Measure for Measure_: "you are partly a bawd, Pompey,
howsoever you colour it in being a tapster, are you not?"

—NDE

loren muse smith 9:08 AM  

DUDE – I’m at the beach and made a point to do today’s puzzle because you said it was be a “big” – M&Ark your words. I was certain you would be the constructor. Hah! I sure fell for *that* one HOOK, LINE, AND SINKER. Sheesh. Oh well. Dad and I did it together on the laptop, which made me feel all wobbly. (I’m always pencil and paper. Morning, @jae). We dispatched it pretty easily – Dad came through big with FLEA, AGA. I finally saw POUND and OUNCE.

“Batter” before HITTER and “iota” before MOTE. That latter messed us up mightily.

WOES – POLITY, AMBER, BAWD (morning, @Noam E).

I keep seeing I’M PEACHES.

I liked this just fine. Wasted an hour trying to come up with some clever copycat AHA moment line but gave up.

I knew the song; I just didn’t know the names, or the words, for that matter. Back then whenever I sang along, I must have been belting out some terrific mondegreens.

Danke, Mr.Schoenholz. Zehr schoen!

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

never heard of "Alfre" Woodward and never heard of aja; rest of puzzle fell in (not without some difficulty)

loren muse smith 9:22 AM  

Oh - I meant to add - Dad got FIRE SALE immediately. I had been staring at that forever.

@Tita - show this picture to your mom! He loves the board and he told me yesterday that those bookmarks she threw in are the best ones he's ever used.

Obrigado!

Robert A. Simon 9:25 AM  

I've always felt that an important qualification for any puzzle constructor or, more recently, puzzle commentator is an almost bottomless knowledge of pop culture, not just the ability to spit back synonyms and commonly used crossword words. Sure, everyone has holes in their knowledge, but when somebody admits they've never heard of the Steely Dan album Aja outside of crosswords, you'd think a puzzle expert would be curious about why the clue keeps showing up beyond the odd spelling. Rolling Stone (in 2003) ranked it t#143 in their "500 Greatest Albums: issue. It is well worth listening to if you're not too busy learning twelve new words for "smug."

Lindsay 9:26 AM  

Oh, come on (or c'mon as we say in Shortzville), I got a D- in high school chemistry, and TITER flew right into my grid.

ALFRE, on the other hand, is execrable.

Liked the theme answers. Dorfy, but they all made me smile, with the ironic exception of the Hall & Oates song, which isn't exactly stored in the front of my bahrain.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

I flew through this--and had no problem with "farad" and "titer", even though I'm the least science-y person on earth. Rex, a substitute blogger who rates a puzzle "fail" because he struggled with a few words is a real "fail"! Please don't have this guy back.

joho 9:26 AM  

Clever theme answers! My favorites were HOOKAHLINEANDSINKER and HEADTOTAHOE.

Clever cluing, too, my favorite being "Low notes" for SUBTITLES.

Plus it wasn't too easy.

At first I had AfFRE and couldn't understand why fOG would go in a mill. I happily rejected the sad answer, dOG and got LOG.

@LMS, I too, though M & A would be the author today. But he was just teasing. We'll never know who that masked man is!

Thank you, Dan Schoenholz, for a most enjoyable Sunday morning!

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

Not that hard and I enjoyed it-- 78th fastest out of 1450 or so when i finished, and zero cheats. Although I suppose a few of the clues were more Friday-ish than Sunday.

billocohoes 9:33 AM  

Michael FARADay, early developer of electromagnetism to create the earliest electric motor and dynamo.

Noam, thanks for titration, haven't thought of that in forty years.

Don't think I've heard of 'NEBS', had 'nibs', then just had to accept the cross of 'ever'.

Alfre Woodward - has won four Emmys (of eighteen nominations), SAG, Golden Globe, plus Oscar and Grammy noms.

Muscato 9:41 AM  

Well, maybe I liked because I've been to Ouagadougou, so VOLTA fell right into place and, on top of that, I've long adored ALFRE Woodard, having first seen her in a terrific movie called Passion Fish yonks ago. I finished in a good bit less than half-an-hour, so it wasn't the most challenging of all Sundays, but good fun from start to finish.

Carole Shmurak 9:44 AM  

Hard to believe so many people never heard of Alfre Woodard - she's been on every TV show from St Elsewhere to Grey's Anatomy, and been nominated for an Oscar, an Emmy, several Golden Globes.

As for titer and iter: iter is frequent crosswordese (I always want to put in via for Latin road, but four spaces means it's iter). Titer is also used medically, as when they do a titer for Lyme disease.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

"Anonymous Anonymous said...
I flew through this--and had no problem with "farad" and "titer", even though I'm the least science-y person on earth. Rex, a substitute blogger who rates a puzzle "fail" because he struggled with a few words is a real "fail"! Please don't have this guy back."

Another interpretation is that the reviewer is reporting that he failed to finish, which is the ultimate difficulty level, and not that the puzzle itself was a failure.

Casey 10:25 AM  

Ah me, what a delight!

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

I agree with Mr. Simon: It's not the puzzle it's you. Just because YOU don't know something doesn't make it the puzzle's fault. You sound like you're channeling Rex, only he seems really upset when he doesn't know something. Atleast you had a sense of humor.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

We enjoyed it, got some of the theme answers fairly early on...took a bit of time with some of the fill.

We are surprised that Tyler Clark's liberal arts major field of study would not have included Upper Volta and wonder which university he attended.

nurturing 10:40 AM  

Loved it! Only thing I rue is that it was over too fast. :) I finished it quickly, so would rate it as "Easy".

Thought of hydrangea before the poisonous larkspur, but that would have needed an "s".

Have used "reune" many times. In 2 years, I will reune with my high school classmates at our 50th reunion.

(Class of 1965 - the BEST year ever to have finished high school and gone to college. Who knew the history-making we would be part of?!)

Joe The Juggler 10:42 AM  

Overall, I liked it. I struggled with VOLTA, and clicked submit not believing it was right.

Minor quibble: FEAST UPON isn't really the logical equivalent of "Eat heartily". I think "feast" would be the equivalent, but the "upon" means you need something that indicates an object in the clue. I would say, "Feast upon the fatted calf," but I wouldn't say, "Eat heartily the fatted calf". I dunno. . . .

Gareth Bain 10:47 AM  

Really? You're ignorant so the puzzle is fail? Really!?

Joe The Juggler 10:48 AM  

"I agree with Mr. Simon: It's not the puzzle it's you. Just because YOU don't know something doesn't make it the puzzle's fault."

Amen.

For example, the VOLTA/VOLGA trap was legitimate, and it caught me for a time.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

I don't know if I am feeling superior or just old Larkspurs grew in my grandmother's garden, titer, and farad were recalled from H.S. chem. Modern refs came harder, but overall loved the puzzle.

Ray J 11:14 AM  

REUNEd yesterday with the LPs and turntable that I toted around the country in storage boxes for the last 25+ years. AJA and Pretzel Logic by Steely Dan are among the many old friends I’m delighted to see again. One problem though - no “phono” jacks on the new(ish) receiver. I tried plugging into some of the other umpteen ports but couldn’t get more than a whisper out of the speakers. It turns out that I need a pre-amp because the tuner doesn’t have this particular circuit. Now I’m anxiously awaiting the UPS truck so I can hook the thing up and listen to all those old favorites, scratches and all.

One odd thing about looking through the record collection was discovering five Styx albums in there. They are a fine band, I suppose, but I just don’t recall being *that* into them – very curious.

Enjoyed the puzzle but finished with an error. ETHeL was a Merman or a Waters, not an additive. Duh! Never looked at the cross there.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

I'm tempted to pull a grumpy old man bit and grouse about Millennials' ignorance, but that would be unfair to an entire generation. Tyler Clark, you're a petulant, and extremely limited, young man.

Ellen S 11:23 AM  

Well, I enjoyed Tyler's writeup even if he had trouble with the puzzle. I visited Michael Faraday's grave in Highgate Cemetery while I was there paying homage to Karl Marx and his family; I've heard of Faraday and FARADs, but got no idea what capacitance is actually. I'm a little more at home with TITER. I once had to titrate the dose of hormones to give my aged dog to allow her to sleep on the bed without peeing on my feet. I was to start her on a large dose, which fixed the immediate problem, then gradually reduce it just to the point where all the boy dogs in the neighborhood stopped showing up at the front door with bouquets, but the incontinence didn't return.

What I didn't like about the puzzle, aside from dumb crosswordese like REUNE, was OGRESS. Long time ago I read a short story where a guy realizes that we have long been colonized by aliens. They live among us, disguised. The larval form is paper clips. Have you ever noticed, he asked a friend, how when you open your desk drawer it is full of paper clips? And then one day you can't find any paper clips but you open the closet and find a zillion coat hangers? They are the next developmental stage of the aliens.

I'm thinking, in the CrossWorld, EELS have metamorphosed into OGRESSES.

Ellen S 11:29 AM  

So here's Anonymous at 11:15 calling Tyler petulant; not grumping about the entire generation, but concentrating all his venom on a single target. I won't say all old men are cowards, but Anon, would you like to say that without hiding?

Z 11:37 AM  

"Relative Difficulty: Fail" is not a hard thing to decipher. Let's learn to read people. Nice write-up, Tyler.

Aja went double platinum because of all of us liberal arts types bought a copy. This would include the liberalist of arts, Science!

jae 11:45 AM  

Well I had this at medium mostly because POLITY was a WOE which obscured SUBTITLES and JUST SAY NOAH for a while. Also, ACrid for ACERB caused some SE problems.

@lms -- me too for iota.

I admit to only knowing AJA from crosswords. Not because I'm pop culture deficient (if you watched Colbert this week you know the two "songs of the summer" for this summer, but what was "the song" of last summer...?), but because I was never that into Steely Dan. That said, as I've aged I grown more fond of their stuff.

@Ray J -- I know its too late but you can buy a new turntable with a built in pre amp.

I really liked this one. The theme was well done and the grid was very clean for a Sun. Plus, @anoa bob, the POC count seems to be quite low.

Ulrich 11:57 AM  

I would not like to be in Dan's shoes--anytime, someone will declare a fatwa on him for insulting Allah.

And how often do I have to say this: "Panzer" is short for "Panzerfahrzeug" (armor(ed) vehicle)--the German word for a tank, period. There is nothing WWII-ish about it--they were used then and they are being used today. Speaking about "Panzertanks" makes no more sense than speaking about Autocars on the Autobahn.

FAIL for sure!

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Cut Tyler same slack: we all get grumpy with slow (or no) finishes and he had to do the write-up this week!

But I agree with many above that titer, Farad, Aja and Volta were not tough answers...for us.

My personal brain lock was the subtitles/ Instyle region. Just couldn't see think of a word ending "yle"

Nits: I agree that "feast upon" and "eat heartily" are not grammatically equivalent. Neither are "Not so hot" and "meh" IMHO

Really, young-sters, listen to AJA sometime.

Steve J 12:13 PM  

DNL/DNF/DNC. (Did not like, did not finish, did not care.)

I could not get on the same wavelength at all with this puzzle, to the point I eventually gave up and didn't care that I was unable to finish (first time that's happened to me on a Sunday in a very long time).

The theme never clicked for me. Perhaps it was because there were several other ? clues, in at least a couple cases adjacent to actual theme clues, that I couldn't quite suss out where the theme answers were located (and the DNC part of my experience eventually led to my not caring enough to make the effort). I did get HEADTOTAHOE fairly early, but I didn't pick out the theme from there. Living in the Bay Area, it was one of those answers that was just obvious and didn't seem to have any gimmick to me.

The theme's ok for what it is. I don't think it works phonetically in parts, because of the inclusion of the hard H, but it works fine alphabetically/visually. Although, the clue for 42A is far below the quality of the others. It makes little sense on its face (how formally do people say "no", even when they're not succinct?), and it missed an opportunity to reference to what actually made that phrase famous. Something like "Webster's drug recommendation?" would have had more pop.

Evidence, Please 12:21 PM  

@lms, @joho, You confidently proclaim that today's constructor is Not M&A, because...?

Mike in ABQ 12:24 PM  

Tyler, you must be, what, 12 years old? Sara Smile, Aja, are both very well-known inside and outside the puzzle community. Never heard of Upper Volta or Farad? You need to expand your horizons beyond the limited world in which you dwell.

DSSinDC 12:25 PM  

Not a great Sunday puzzle, in terms of difficulty or cleverness, but not a FAIL either. Finished in under 30 minutes, and any puzzle that you can finish can't be that bad, right?

To chime in on the Tyler commentary, he seems about as grumpy as Rex usually is, just a little less eloquent and explanatory. Tyler, if you think the puzzle is despicable (or at least despisable), you have to argue your point a little better.

Also, FAIL does seem ambiguous. Is that Tyler's opinion of the puzzle, or his way of saying DNF?

Questinia 12:49 PM  

AJA is rife in the culture. From being piped into Marriott complementary breakfast rooms in Fresno to incidental music of the lighter variety in major motion pictures from Germany.

TITER is another word of the culture. If you had a blood test then you have had the opportunity to see the word titer. If you can remember "pipette" in chem class then titer demures right behind her.

Think what you wish of FARAD, although it too has been part of puzzles nearly to the point of erg.

Like @jae, @lms, stuck on iota which indeed caused more damage than one would think given its size and meaning.

A classic Sunday puzzle. Easy enough to include in one's non-chalant grazing activities that constitute Sundays. Challenging enough to not fully succumb to ADD.

Steve J 1:16 PM  

Regarding AJA, SAHARASMILE, Upper VOLTA, and how much it's bothering people that Tyler doesn't know them outside crosswords:

Those things are obvious if you're of a certain age. But remember that the most recent one of those - the change of Upper Volta to Burkina Fasso - occurred 29 years ago.

In other words, those three things are not going to be obvious to many people much younger than 40 (for reference, I'm 43, so I was 7 when Aja was released and 5 when "Sarah Smile" hit the radio). "Sarah Smile", while popular at the time, is hardly one of the most-lasting songs of the era, and many people know songs from Aja but couldn't identify the album (even people who are contemporary with its release). I knew all three, because I remember all three at the time they happened, but barely. Someone even five years younger than me wouldn't have had the same kind of contemporary recall.

In other words, they're not all obvious if you're under 40. Criticizing people for that gap in knowledge is a lot like the crossword kids coming in and mocking everyone 40+ for not knowing things that are obvious to them, like many of the more-current musical references that show up in puzzles (like Nas, Flo Rida, etc.). Do us middle age and older people need to "expand our horizons beyond the limited world in which (we) dwell", or do we simply recognize that there's a 70- to 80-year span in the ages of crossword solvers, and as a result we're all going to have contemporaneous items that are obvious to us and not so obvious to others?

Notsofast 1:26 PM  

SARAHSMILE is a favorite, and for many other reasons, I liked this puzzle a lot. Learned a bunch of new stuff, too. Tip o' the hat to Mr. Schoenholz.

Lewis 1:45 PM  

@stevej -- well put!

Melodious Funk 1:57 PM  

Mr. Clark is of an age when overstatement is de rigueur, I'm of an age when understatement is. I believe Mr. Clark makes an excellent fait-croire Rex, to coin a phrase. I believe the difference in our ages is pushing 70. Like I never even heard of Aja except in these puzzles because it turns up occasionally. ITina? Tina Brown? Tina Louise?

@SteveJ has it right it seems to me. Maybe a puzzle should both hit sweet spots and miss them entirely, that's what WS is probably aiming for.

I'm continuously amazed at the brilliance of these constructors to bridge eras, make grids entertaining, provide misleading wondrous clues. Fascinating to me, has been for at least 60 years. And Rex's teeth-gnashing is indeed amusing, the more bilious the better which is his reason d-ĂȘtre.

Carrion.

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

OK, team, your electronics tutorial for the day --

There are three types of passive electronics devices: Resistors, Capacitors, and Inductors.

1. Resistors dissipate electrical energy, whereas the othe two store it. Resistors operate according to Ohm's Law,
R (in Ohms) equals Electrical Potential (in Volts) divided by Current (in Amperes, or Amps). R = E/I
Georg Ohm, Allesandro Volta, and Andre-Marie Ampere were all European Physicists active in the early 1800s.

2. Capacitors store Electrical Potential in the form of Electrical Charge across plates. The amount of charge captured at a given voltage
is governed by the relationship. C (capacitance, in Farads) equals q ( charge in Coulombs) divided by Voltage. C = q/V
Michael Faraday and Charles-Augustine de Coulomb were also early 1800 physics experimenters.

3. Inductors store Current in a Coil.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

Continuing --

Inductance is the amount of Magnetic Flux created per Ampere, or L = Phi/I

Inductance is measured in Henry's -- Joseph Henry, another of those dudes.

Questions, class? ;-)

NitPicker 2:36 PM  

Read much, Tyler? The lacunae in your vocabulary would make me think not.

Brookboy 2:38 PM  

@Melodious Funk: "I'm continuously amazed at the brilliance of these constructors to bridge eras, make grids entertaining, provide misleading wondrous clues."

I've been thinking this for years myself but just never put it into the elegant phrasing of MF.

I enjoyed the puzzle and thought it about medium, at least for my puzzle-solving abilities, limited as they may be, I never got clued in to the theme until I had almost finished the puzzle, even though I got HOOKAHLINEANDSINKER (62A) early on.

Never heard of FARAD or TITER either, but I got them eventually through the crosses. Since that happens to me in virtually every puzzle, it doesn't really bother me.

I'm not sure about the FAIL rating. Does that mean you failed to complete it, or are you failing the puzzle? Either way, I did enjoy your write-up, Tyler. I don't always agree with Rex, either, but I do enjoy reading his write-ups.

Brookboy 2:39 PM  

@Melodious Funk: "I'm continuously amazed at the brilliance of these constructors to bridge eras, make grids entertaining, provide misleading wondrous clues."

I've been thinking this for years myself but just never put it into the elegant phrasing of MF.

I enjoyed the puzzle and thought it about medium, at least for my puzzle-solving abilities, limited as they may be, I never got clued in to the theme until I had almost finished the puzzle, even though I got HOOKAHLINEANDSINKER (62A) early on.

Never heard of FARAD or TITER either, but I got them eventually through the crosses. Since that happens to me in virtually every puzzle, it doesn't really bother me.

I'm not sure about the FAIL rating. Does that mean you failed to complete it, or are you failing the puzzle? Either way, I did enjoy your write-up, Tyler. I don't always agree with Rex, either, but I do enjoy reading his write-ups.

Gill I. P. 2:47 PM  

This puzzle was even better than the delicious Bloody Mary I'm sipping.
Wow, try coming up with something like this your self! I'm working on CAHOOTS/COOT and WAHOOS/WOOS and damn, it's really hard.
Despite, nothing in the grid really bothered. It did my husband though...@Ulrich, he too said that PANZER is just a general word for tank.....!!!
HOT DATES STUD POKER MOAN BAWD WINO IN STYLE. Loved it.
If there is one thing I can't ABIDE is anyone hinting that I'm ignorant because I don't know something that I should. I do really like learning new words but please, no tsking...

Nick 3:17 PM  

That was fun! (And I'm with Tyler -- never heard of "Sara Smile".)

joho 3:29 PM  

@Evidence Please ... at one point in my post I had written, "Dan?"
But then realized that if Dan were M & A, he wouldn't admit it!

JenCT 3:54 PM  

I've listened to "AJA" more times than I can count - I also have the DVD on the making of AJA; I highly recommend it - neat to see the "behind-the-scenes" effort that went into that album.

@Steve J: I dunno about your over 40/under 40 observation; Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin etc. - those were "before my time" but I'm still familiar with their music...

Loved plunking in ENCHILADA.

Ultimately DNF for me; few mistakes.

New avatar is my wonderful new service dog Justice! I completed two weeks of training up in Mass., got to meet the inmates who trained her, and we're settling in at home & making a great team!

OISK 4:03 PM  

I don't know Steely Dan from Brassy Mae, never heard of Alfre, and putting those together makes a Natick that should not be there. Most of the other clues that bothered others, Volta, Farad, titer, were no problem for me. Never heard of Sara smile, although I got the answer - not happy when one of the "special" answers makes no sense to me. I flew through Saturday and Friday, (both considered hard,) but had a great deal of trouble with this one. Some cute answers, like "Just say Noah," but all in all, not a pleasure for me. B- .

jburgs 4:20 PM  

Came to check my answers here thinking I had screwed up at the uther/cuatro cross but I had them right (Uther??). Pleasure was brief when I see in the commentary that I had OJA instead of the correct AJA answer for steely dan thus had oLFRE instead of ALFRE AT 10D.
So close.
I also got a D in high school chemistry in part due to my lab partner and I messing up the titration exercise. Still remember titer as a word despite no other exposure to it in 40 years or so.
Whenever I struggle with some of the foreign language clues I think back to an old Steve Martin routine. In it he talks about a trip to Paris. In a stereotypical ugly american tone and in talking about trying to speak to frenchmen he says with disgust, "These French!! It's like they have a different word for EVERYTHING!!!"
The puzzle was a fair and fun challenge. I enjoyed it as well as Tyler's write up.

Anonymous 4:24 PM  

Was there some crypto-Judeochristian allusion going on here, namely reference to ABRAM --> ABRAHAM?

Steve J 4:38 PM  

@JenCT: The point wasn't that people couldn't be familiar with music from an earlier era (I'm familiar with a ton of stuff that came out before I was born, as are many people).

The point is that all the shock and outright condescension many are expressing here about someone not knowing something they consider obvious can be very much a generational thing (as well as an interest thing). And everyone saying "I can't believe you don't know X" has things that many people could turn around and say "I can't believe you don't know Y" right back at them because they are obvious to people of a certain age/common cultural experience.

TackyJacky 4:46 PM  

I enjoyed reading these comments more than the puzzle! I admire Tyler for being able to admit he doesn't know a word. I am a coward....or maybe it just hurts my pride to admit it when I don't know a word...

... which brings me to the highlight of my week! Mondegreens, mondegreens....I had never heard this word before, and I am not ashamed to admit it! ( Well, maybe just a little.) Thank you @loren muse smith, for introducing me to this wonderful new word! I love your avatar today- Password to Larkspur Lane was one of my favorite Nancy Drew books as a girl.

I am satisfied to see that I make the same mistakes as many of you seasoned solvers- it makes me feel a little smarter.

I NEVER get most of the music clues, as I have never been able to enjoy music... Lucky for me my hubby does, so he helps me when I come across such a clue. It's a win-win for my dyslexic mate and myself.

Erasures Inevitable 4:52 PM  

I figured out the theme pretty quickly and found it to be pretty MEH, so I was hoping to be IMPRESSed by the fill. I wasn't.

IVANA say that it wasn't an ABSOLUTE SHAM of a puzzle because there were some good clues to ABIDE, but I do feel EVER-so-slightly CHEATed.

-Never knew that COWS could be intimidating.

-I have no IDEA how "fancy" is synonymous with IDEA. "Fancy" can either be a verb or an adjective, but I can only see "idea" as a noun. And they're still not related in any way I can see.

-REUNE was awful. All I could do was POUND my head and MOAN after seeing that.

-Don't like AID and ADE being in the same puzzle. Even if the constructor had revealed the homophonic relationship, I still wouldn't like it.

-As a WWII buff, I loved seeing PANZER in a puzzle. Same goes for ENOLA GAY instead of just ENOLA by itself, which you'll often see in crosswords.

I can't ATTEST that there was much to FEAST UPON here. I'm a BIG KID AFTER ALL(AH), so I would've appreciated a more challenging Sunday puzzle.

IM OUT.

Davis 4:57 PM  

Sorry Tyler, no sympathy from us science fans. There's so much liberal arts knowledge required of crossword solvers that's far more obscure than TITER and FARAD. Puzzles are already wildly skewed in favor of your background, so now you get to know what it feels like when you draw a blank on something other folks insist is straightforward. (And I'll note that FARAD is totally inferrable as long as you know who Michael FARADay is, and remember science units tend to be named after someone important in the relevant field.)

Z 5:09 PM  

@TackyJacky - good to hear from you again.
@JenCT - Nice avatar.
@Erasures Inevitable - look at the noun definitions - I think "idea" fits just fine. Also, I never erase, I just write over my mistakes.

okanaganer 5:10 PM  

With this puzzle, I wish only theme clues ended in question marks. On Sunday the others don't really need them, right?--in particular 35A ("Low notes?" = SUBTITLES) because the answer is perhaps long enough to be a theme. For example, 35D ("Game for those who don't like to draw" = STUD POKER) was more fun without it.

Jeremy Mercer 5:40 PM  

How to make a mediocre puzzle appear brilliant: let a guest blogger criticize it so the blog clique can stumble over themselves to lambaste said guest blogger and defend said mediocre puzzle.

I thought your write up was fine Tyler. Come back anytime.

Rob C 5:57 PM  

Medium Sunday for me. I thought the theme phrases worked. Noticed some of the junk that others mentioned, but not to the point where it was excessive.

For those who are dismayed by the lack of knowledge of the guest blogger or some of the posters, get a grip. Keep in mind that there's lots of things that these people know that you don't. One of the things I enjoy about this blog are the discussions as to what people know (and why) and what they don't. Interesting how many times it parallels age, geography, etc... The fact that people here aren't afraid to admit the things they don't know leads to this good conversation.

Dan Schoenholz = M&A?????

chefwen 6:00 PM  

All the streets in the business park where I worked in So Cal were named after famous scientists, my company was off of FARADay Avenue, so no problem there. It was fun to learn about all the scientists. Mr. FARADY is also in today's LA Times puzzle.

Caught on fairly early with HOOKAH LINE AND SINKER, finding where all the AH's fit in was fun.

Loved the clue for SUBTITLES.

Thank you for a great Saturday night workout Mr. Schoenholz.

P.S. @JEN CT - Sweet looking pooch!

sanfranman59 6:10 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:50, 6:09, 1.11, 87%, Challenging
Tue 7:23, 8:13, 0.90, 19%, Easy
Wed 8:57, 9:43, 0.92, 32%, Easy-Medium
Thu 20:27, 16:30, 1.27, 86%, Challenging
Fri 15:55, 18:52, 0.84, 24%, Easy-Medium
Sat 30:42, 25:40, 1.20, 89%, Challenging
Sun 27:21, 28:35, 0.96, 45%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:15, 3:47, 1.13, 89%, Challenging
Tue 4:42, 4:57, 0.95, 30%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:24, 5:35, 0.97, 42%, Medium
Thu 11:42, 9:30, 1.41, 90%, Challenging
Fri 8:48, 11:04, 0.80, 19%, Easy
Sat 20:02, 15:51, 1.26, 89%, Challenging
Sun 18:45, 19:51, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium

Stefi 6:38 PM  

Noone can compare w Margaret Farrer. Her puzzles were fascinating quips, quotes, designed to stimulate even the best brainiac. After u were lucky enough to complete one, you felt so appreciative of her talent.

Ray J 6:52 PM  

@JenCT – re the making of AJA – is your DVD from the Classic Albums series? I see Netflix has the series available for instant viewing. I think I’ll check it out tonight before Breaking Bad. Thanks

@jae – The preamp was pretty cheap so I went that route. I’m no audiophile – I just want to listen to the old records.

JenCT 7:27 PM  

@Ray J: yes, that's exactly the right one.

I'm a HUGE Breaking Bad fan!

coaststarlight 7:48 PM  

First of all, as a newer solver (only been doing the puzzle consistently since the summer began), thanks to Tyler for the "list of stuff to memorize that you will only ever use in crosswords." I'm sure there are other references but this provides a handy starting place for me to make flash cards.

Secondly, @Steve J -- a hyperbolic (as I guess is typical of my generation) THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING. I didn't like the theme of this puzzle, and couldn't express exactly why that Webster clue bothered me so much--but you say it perfectly. Putting drugs in the clue somewhere might have made it easier, but not necessarily if the cluing was done well. It bothers me that there's a disconnect between some of the cluing for the theme answers and the things to which they refer. I understand skiers would HEAD TO TAHOE but what does that have to do with "head to toe"? What does an unrelated polite niece have to do with "Auntie Em"? Couldn't she have been a Kansas-dweller? I'd chalk this up to my experience level, but HOOKAH LINE AND SINKER felt satisfying as an answer in the way others did not, I think because the clue refers to both the added syllable answer and the original phrase.

I also think, to continue to heap laurels on you, fine sir, you articulate the culture gap perfectly. I am one who fills in most music clues with abandon, but Steely Dan...is before my time. Will definitely give AJA a listen though and be glad for the learning experience, just like I was glad to google the difference between the Sansouci Palace and the Sans-Souci Palace the other day (what a thrilling dichotomy!). I'd also like to point out that it has been Burkina Faso for basically my entire life, so sniggering at someone who hasn't heard of Volta and perhaps suggesting said person is educationally disadvantaged (which is ironic, as I am exceptionally privileged in that regard), is a tad ageist, not to mention somewhat classist.

I adore my grandfather, who is 94 and just got an iPhone 5 because he wanted to learn about "these smart phones." (He also professed an interest in knowing what that "Gaga Lady" is on about). He is the wisest person I know because he has always recognized and celebrated how much there is to learn, and has never once denigrated me for how exceedingly stupid I still am. Not wanting to age you up, Steve J, but your comments make me feel you're cut from a similar cloth, which makes those lucky enough to be related to you very lucky, indeed.

M Rivers 7:55 PM  

I like reading both the commentators and blogs. I like learning what lights up or frustrates everyone else who is looking at, figuring out, and getting right or wrong the same thing I am. I rarely have the same experience solving as any of the commentators do, probably because I'm hopeless with today's pop culture and much of sports. (And my memory sucks.) but i sure do love words, puzzles, and new stuff. Someone want to use the word myrmidon in a puzzle (courtesy of Ngaio Marsh, another puzzle staple)? I liked today's puzzle; didn't need to Google ANYthing.

Jim D. 8:00 PM  

I found this puzzle to vary from ridiculously easy to ridiculously hard - Forget "titer" and "farad." But "Aja" is as easy as ti gets if you went to college in the 70's and the fact that Mr. Clark was befuddled by "iter" is perplexing. I've seen that clue many, many times. It belongs in the "memorize these" list.

LaneB 8:10 PM  

18;1itampoI'm with you Tyler! Too many strange clues and fills with no help from impossible crosses left me pissed, particularly after acing the Acrostic and finishing
Saturday's. An angry DNF.

Jean Gogolin 8:21 PM  

It always amazes me when you guys hate a puzzle simply because it's not (in Rex's phrase) in your "wheelhouse." I was a liberal arts major too, but I knew farad and titer.

Jim Finder 8:25 PM  

Seconding Steve J and Davis, among others. In high school, I was outraged (a little over the top, I know) that I was expected to study the multiple layers of "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," while no one else ever learned how their toasters worked. The Times puzzle feels free to ask us about Mr. Darcy's second cousin (whatever), but you object to farad. You're out of step with both reality and the NY Times.

Melodious Funk 8:30 PM  

Did anyone finish the Acrostic this week? Totally completely wonderful quote. It usually drives me crazy, but this one drove me insane! So many misspelled words, bad placements, silly guesses.

Clue: don't do these after three gins. A number of the squares are almost black with overwrites.

I'm interested in any of you who do these. Please don't respond if you find them easy.

Tom 9:03 PM  

Loved the puzzle. I only solve about 1 in 2 Sundays without a letter or two help, and this one was exactly challenging enough.

Masked and Anonymo12us 9:08 PM  

@M.Funk: I just finished the late July NYT Across-tick this mornin. Trick for me is gettin about six of the suckers to give, with nothin filled in. Then I write in those letters, and things usually go pretty smooth from there. Unless I got fooled on one of the first six. Then comedy ensues.

Be sure to check out Two Bits puz, in June 6 and June 10 comments. Those are the Across and Down clues. The grid is BYO: 15 square, with no black squares.

M.A.A.

p.s. y'all please leave Constructor Dan be. All I said was that today's puz would be a big (21x21) one. day-um.

PDG 9:16 PM  

Is it me, or is it Rex and his substitutes lately who seem insulted that clues and answers pertain to things they "haven't heard of", or that their "liberal arts" background didn't "learn" them. I thought the point of these things was to reward curiosity and general knowledge, and to provide delight when one found a new word that he / she didn't have in the word bag when the puzzle was begun. The phenomenon is particularly irritating when it reveals the writer to be ignorant of the simple benefits of a curious life as "farad", "titer", etc. I you guys get to throw your 5-minute solve times in our faces, we get to point our your supercilious arrogance.

PDG, Cleveland

paulsfo 9:17 PM  

I was in the college in the 70s and never heard of Aja (outside of crosswords). I just looked it up and also didn't recognize *any* of the seven track titles. However, when I listened to them (btw, how do entire albums manage to stay up on youtube?) I realized that three of them were part of the background music of my college years.
Regarding FARAD, TITER, UPPER VOLTA (it was a country!): I wouldn't publicize my ignorance of these terms.

joho 9:24 PM  

@JenCT, that is such great news about you and Justice! I wish you two many happy years together.

joho 9:25 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandy K 9:46 PM  

@Melodius Funk-

I did the acrostic.
I did not find it easy.
I had lotsa rewrites.
I loved the quote.
I had no gin.

Anonymous 10:40 PM  

"Sara Smile"? Give me a break. I figured out that was what it had to be, but I've never been an H & O fan (I like blue-eyed soul as much as anyone, but their music was blander than bland). "Titer" and "farad" didn't faze me: these are both crossword-puzzle-ese, just a little more abstruse than "itina," "uma," and their ilk. "Upper Volta" with no reference to the fact that that is now an obsolete name (that sub-Saharan African nation is now known as Burkina Faso) is about like referring to "Rhodesia" without mentioning that the nation has been known as Zimbabwe since the late 1970s. The "ah" theme could have been handled more elegantly; "Sara smile/'saharasmile'" was a bridge too far for my patience.

Anonymous 10:46 PM  

I also resent theme puzzles where the theme clues are presented as questions but there are also NON-theme clues presented as questions, e.g. 'subtitles,' 'hot dates,' etc. That is simply unfair. And can we please have a permanent moratorium on the word 'reune,' certainly one of the ugliest and most inelegant words in the English language? I know it is also common crossword-puzzle-eze, but even sounding the word in my head rather than out loud makes me cringe like fingernails on a blackboard.

Tita 11:13 PM  

@lms - thanks so much for that pic!
Mom will be so happy to see your Dad enjoying her work. I hope he finds a vast improvement in his puzzling ability! (I love those bookmarks too.)
It's great that you and your Dad do the puzzle together. Does he like Bananagrams? That is her current obsession - you cannot enter her house without being snookered into at least one game.

Oh - and STAVE - she paints barrel STAVES by the score - we used to buy them from a cooperage on Cape Cod.

Puzzle? DNF. By a lot.
Knew FARAD off the bat, never heard of TITER.

Finally got the theme at AUNTIEAHEM. I liked the theme a lot. It was lots of the fill that slayed me.
CUAATRO with a C?
And isn't it UnUH?

Liked FEASTUPON, and FATTENS, and that they cross.

Liked lots of what has already been said.

Oh - our mutt was named AGA - short for either AGApito or Agamemnon, depending on who you ask.

Really, folks - "Fail" categorizes the difficult level -= not the quality! Chill!


@JenCT - another great pic of Justice. I can't wait to meet the new pooch.
It seems like the wait was worth it. Congratulations.

Tita 11:26 PM  

And to all the newcomers - some new to Rexville, others new to puzzling - welcome!
My skill level went way up from reading the blog and the comments here.

OISK 11:35 PM  

I always do the acrostic, or diagramless, or whatever the special Sunday puzzle is first. The acrostic today was about average for me; I always finish them. My gripe with "AJA" is not just that I dislike pop music clues, since I never listen to it, and did not in college either, it is that if one doesn't know the album, then any three letters make equal sense, so the "down" clues should be pretty straighforward. But in this case, one ends up with _JA and _Lfre, and it is a pure guess.

Anonymous 11:43 PM  

Do yourself a favor and listen to Aja. It was the among the most important albus to come out in a time when music was still important and not compterized snarky drivel.

Business major 12:12 AM  

I am guessing that Tyler did not take Latin. Otherwise, "iter" would have more meaning. We use the word "reiterate" all the time, which literally means "to go over the same road." It is an interesting and sad commentary that liberal arts majors often do not take Latin or Greek. These languages were the basis of education for the scholarly class for hundreds of years.

Anonymous 1:11 AM  

@Melodious Funk 8:30pm:

Agree about the acrostic: many more erasures than usual, but the payoff is a fun quote.

The crossword wasn't easy for me, but neither the constructor nor I "failed".

ZenMonkey 2:11 AM  

Not the worst Sunday ever, but REUNE makes me want to stop solving forever. Apparently it's legit, but when perfectly good "reunite" is right there, and you have to back-form (sorry) "reunion" instead, I feel like the English language needs a hug.

Gary Simmons 11:07 AM  

When Eugene Maleska edited the New York Sunday Times Crossword Puzzles, his flair and aplomb would seep ever so slightly into a realm of quasi-realism. He never used a smarmy index of marijuana influenced retort or criticism like this fill-in substitute for Rex. No wonder Bezos bought the Washington Post

gifcan 11:17 AM  

Wasn't going to post but had to ask, why so hard on Tyler?

Agree with earlier comments by @Steve J and @ Melodious Funk.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

What about polity?

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

What indeed, Anon 11:43 am, what indeed.

"What do I think of Western Civilization? I think it would be a very good idea." - Gandhi

mac 1:39 PM  

I liked it fine, not too hard and even some of the science-y clues were almost automatic.

I spent many hours on planes yesterday, finished one book and started another, and in both books I came upon the expression "hook, line and sinker"!

Anonymous 5:52 PM  

I got kicked off the site a few weeks ago for demanding correct nautical usage. Here we go again with 42-D. A foresail ain't a jib; never will be.

Anonymous 11:18 PM  

I recommend a listen to Aja, which is time far better spent than scratching for clues like "foe of Frodo".

Anonymous 12:41 AM  

New here.

Aja OK but for the best Steely Dan, listen to Gaucho. Definitive.

Anonymous 8:20 PM  

As NY Times Sunday puzzles go, this one felt easier than many others. The one that tripped me up was Upper (I had Volga). I was thinking maybe coag was short for coagulate or something but couldn't imagine a connection between that and slather. I knew or figured out the other clues without much trouble but I've been doing these for about 20 years and you get better and better at it.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Before we figured out that it was UPHOLSTER, we had UnHOLSTER, and we thought that was the cleverest clue. (like in a Western movie -- cover me; get it?)

spacecraft 1:28 PM  

Seems like there's a sudden influx of newbies. Welcome all! @coaststarlight, themed puzzles often operate by adding (or subtracting) a group of theme letters to a series of familiar phrases, creating "wacky sayings clued ? style" (per Rex). The entry doesn't have to relate to the original saying. Hope that helps.

I kinda slogged through this one. Not that the theme gave me any trouble; as soon as I saw Muslim in the 26a clue I was thinking ALLAH. Put that together with the title--"Added Satisfaction--" and there's your -AH. The big central answer thus fell instantly. No, the trouble came from two sources: iffy cluing and total unknowns.

How are SUBTITLES "Low notes?" I just don't get it. Held me up in that area for a long time, because I am also not familiar with TOAD as "Contemptible one." IMHO, the clues to both of these were bad. I can ABIDE FARAD, POLITY and even OGRESS, but putting ATRI* next to UTHER* and DME* only a few lines over, that's a bit much. I mean, I did get them on crosses, but

*Ne! Vah! Hoidofem!

No problem with the very fine actress ALFRE Woodard (NO second W please, folks!). She did a hell of a great, though largely unnoticed, job in "Star Trek: First Contact."

Another iffish clue is "Game for those who don't like to draw" for STUDPOKER (which, amusingly, crosses IMOUT, "Folder's declaration"). I see that the cluer is making the distinction between two basic varieties of the game, STUD as opposed to DRAW, but even in stud poker you're "drawing--" just one card at a time (till the river). The clue should read "Game for those who don't like draw," but then that would be a dead giveaway, so he included "to." It makes for a poor definition.

BedfordBob 3:20 PM  

Well Anonymous 5:52 PM I raced sloop rigged yachts for 15 years. Everyone called the sails attached to the forestay, foresails and our foresails were either jibs or genoas

BedfordBob 3:22 PM  

Oh - and I loved the puzzle - great job

rain forest 4:18 PM  

@Spacecraft - subtitles usually appear at the bottom of the screen in foreign language movies, hence, "low notes".

Great puzzle with a nice mix of gimmees, as FARAD and TITER were for me, among others, as well as many answers that required some thought. I liked how the cluing varied from straightforward to shifty, as well.

Love AJA, Steely Dan, and the album Abandoned Luncheonette where Sara Smile first appeared.

Dirigonzo 5:55 PM  

WPP and I somehow ended up on the Upper Delta and the crosses never set us right, so total fail (for us, not the puzzle) on what we thought was an otherwise fun puzzle.

@spacecraft - 107d is "Beats by DRE" so maybe you finished with OWS?

@BB - I'm with you on the JIB/foresail issue.

Cary in Boulder 9:00 PM  

As usual, one of the last to post since I'm on paper and in the future. All I can say is: I finished, got the AH trick of Added Satisfaction from HOOKAH, knew AJA and ALFRE. But ... even though I'm old enough, I never heard of SARA SMILE. In fact, figured it must be a book or movie called Sara's Mile. And I agree with whoever said that Hall and Oates were a pretty lame-ass blue-eyed soul band. Give me the Righteous Brothers any day -- in fact they were the first group I heard that term applied to, on Black radio stations in Baltimore, no less. And if you're under 40 (50?) you can look them up.

paulsfo 9:38 PM  

@spacecraft: The second definition for TOAD, after the animal, is "a contemptible person." This might be an out-of-date expression but it's not obscure.

@Cary: I didn't recognize the title SARA SMILE either but, when I YouTubed it (new verb?), it was *extremely* familiar (I'm old enough, too). I bet you'd recognize it, too.

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Zardoz 8:53 PM  

I'd say PDG 9:16 PM summed it up the best, especially the last sentence.

"I don't know nuttin' but I can do the puzzle in 10 minutes." Right!

That would be a challenge even if you had the full grid & transcribed it to the on-line one.

Anonymous 8:40 PM  

As the Bedouin do not inhabit the Sahara what is their connection to the clue? Perhaps it would be more apt to clue it as a Tuareg smile.

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