Sif's husband in myth / THU 8-1-13 / Greek night goddess / Old D&D co / Diurna daily Roman notices / Old A.C. Gilbert toy / Tolkien's Dark Lord of Mordor

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging


THEME: PHYSICS FORMULAS (60A: What the three sets of circled squares in this puzzle represent) — In familiar phrases, "Pressure" "Speed" and "Density" are represented visually in the grid by their formulas (FORCE over AREA, DISTANCE over TIME, and MASS over VOLUME, respectively); thus:


Theme answers:
  • 17A: With 22-Across, fail to cope with difficult circumstances (CRACK UNDER [FORCE/AREA])
  • 27A: With 35-Across, highway sign meaning "slow down" (REDUCE [DISTANCE/TIME])
  • 45A: With 51-Across, Monace has the world's highest (POPULATION [MASS/VOLUME])
Word of the Day: NYX (68A: Greek night goddess) —
Nyx (Ancient Greek: Νύξ, "night") – Nox in Latin translation – is the Greek goddess (or personification) of the night. A shadowy figure, Nyx stood at or near the beginning of creation, and was the mother of other personified gods such asHypnos (Sleep) and Thánatos (Death). Her appearances in mythology are sparse [emph. mine], but reveal her as a figure of exceptional power and beauty. She is found in the shadows of the world and only ever seen in glimpses. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is both very clever and not that appealing to me. Just one of those puzzles that I recognize is reasonably well constructed, but that I just don't care for. Something about it seems oddly flat to me. Maybe it's that the base phrases are so dull. The gimmick is formulas ... structurally, this is very interesting, but it's interesting only structurally. There's no word play and nothing cool at the level of *meaning* ... again, I fully acknowledge that this is a matter of taste. There's just not that much that's entertaining or playful about the words that are in the grid. It's a wonderful technical achievement. But it left me cold the way most things merely technical do.


The fill is OK—oddly weak in the places that *aren't* seriously compromised by theme density (the ACTA (20A: ___ Diurna (daily Roman notices)) and ESSA and NORI sections). The Z and X are pretty gratuitous, but no real harm done. I probably wouldn't use the relatively obscure NYX (68A: Greek night goddess) just to squeeze an X in there, but that word does liven up an otherwise mostly pedestrian grid, so I can't complain. Let's see where I dropped the ball today ... wrote in LOKI at first (?!) where THOR belonged (10D: Sif's husband in myth). Wrote in OREOS instead of ORCAS—the price of not reading the clue well enough (1D: Black-and-white threats — not "treats"). Is DE TROP a thing in English? Thankfully, I've never heard anyone try to squeeze it into a non-French conversation (64A: Too much). I've never heard of CECIL Day-Lewis (41A: British poet laureate ___ Day-Lewis), but I'm guessing he's some relation to Daniel. Yes? Yes. CECIL was his father. CECIL is also the name of the Pomona College mascot. CECIL the Sagehen. True. Story. Chirp chirp.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    PS my wife just reminded me of the horribleness that is ENVIRON, which I clearly repressed (44D: Form a ring around).

    110 comments:

    JFC 12:04 AM  

    Rex, the bad news is that completely agree with you. There is no good news.

    JFC

    jae 12:05 AM  

    I'm not usually fond of circle puzzles but this one I liked.   I'll take physics over linguistics any day.  Medium for me and appropriately tricky for a Thurs. 

    DE TROP was a major WOE.  I was sure I had a DNF.   NYX was also a WOE. 

    @Rex me too for misreading  1d and putting in OREOS.

    There was some cheesy fill...NIC, OBS, CMI, MPs..., but this was a fun Thurs.

    If you are interested in another fun circle puzzle click on AV Club link on Rex's site and do this week's puzzle.  You may need to subscribe first?

    Danny 12:15 AM  

    Oddly enough, I found this both easy AND enjoyable. Rarely do I disagree with you, Rex, on both criteria. Whatever floats one's boat, I suppose.

    retired_chemist 12:19 AM  


    Medium here.

    Hand up for OREOS. I was sure it was a misprint and that the clue was supposed to be "black and white treats."

    In fact, the whole NW corner gave me a lot of grief. The U in SAURON was a guess, and since I had RAm @ 14A and SmAT_E for 3D at that point I was at sea.

    The theme - didn't see it until I had finished. Just kept putting in physics quantities as the crosses dictated and it all worked out. Once I sat back and thought, I realized this was pretty cute.

    Did not like 29D/4D. if you are going to use cross-referencing for a theme let it be the only cross referencing in the puzzle.

    Re DE TROP and NYX - thank God for crosses.

    My terse invitation was BYOB at first.

    Thanks, Mr. Polin.

    captcha ouiUnit - fits the puzzle.

    Kris in ABCA 12:34 AM  

    Score one for the enineers! Loved it! Played quite fast for me, though like @jae I had to get DETROP and NYX from crosses. By no means does the ingenuity of this one leave me cold. Liked it much better than I usually do for a puzzle with cross-referencing clues.

    Anonymous 12:35 AM  

    "Black and white threats" got me for a long time too. A funny slap in the face to the 'pros'. I hope that it was a gotcha for a lot of us.
    ...................................

    I liked it. But I like liking crosswords. I wish we had better alternatives. No action at Amy's. Bland and dull at Amlen's. "Why does he even bother" at Rex's.
    ...................................

    Thursday: "not that appealing to me."

    Wednesday: "it's not much of a puzzle."

    Tuesday: Yep, those songs sure do line up symmetrically. Now that we've all observed this coincidence ... on to Wednesday's puzzle.

    Monday: "The problems with this one should be obvious to you all by now. First, the theme—"

    Sunday: "This puzzle was very easy and very loose. There's no real revealer, just a lot of theme entries that are confusingly cross-referenced. I guess HENRY FORD is the closest thing to an anchor in this puzzle,"

    Saturday: "Well this was a pleasure."



    Questinia 12:41 AM  

    Anyone who mixes PHYSICS FORMULAS with a flaunty Rive Gauche DE TROP is my cruciverbal hero. Loved the ERG in the center.
    Excellent puzzle, Mr. Polin!

    Steve J 1:03 AM  

    Had a very odd experience solving this one. Throughout, I felt like I was struggling, especially with stuff like NYX/SMEARY (really?!?), RANI/ENVIRON (rarely, if ever, do I encounter that as a verb and without an S), etc. Yet I ended up finishing this in a rather fast time compared to my Thursday norm (in easy-medium, if I had a time scale).

    For 98% of the puzzle, I was also hating it. The theme was making no sense to me at all. I quickly got the PHYSICSFORMULAS part of it, recognizing that the circles (X over Y) formed formulas. But the three long theme answers were making no sense to me at all, because I was taking them literally (said out loud when I got the first theme answer: "Where the f___ does anyone have a sign that says 'reduce distance time'?"), until all the sudden as I filled in the last one I got (POPULATION density), I had an Archimedes moment. MASS over VOLUME is density! Eureka!

    Once the formulas sunk into my English-major head (although I actually loved physics in high school and was good at it until I rebelled against the calculus parts), I found this both clever and fun. Agreed that the rest of the fill ain't great (although I liked ERECTORSET), but I found some of the clues quite good (1A, 25A, 2D). In fact, the NW corner had some fun Thursday-worthy twists (1A, 2D and 3D)

    Hated ICETEA (it's iced tea, dammit), and the clue for TYRANT was weird (fist-pounding is pretty low on the list of negative qualities of tyrants). Would have liked to have seen a seaweed/sushi clue for NORI, instead of the pedestrian (for a Thursday) clue it got.

    August West 1:17 AM  

    Pretty much loved it. Loved the clues for BARCAR and STATUE up in the NW; was in sync with Mr. Polin and dropped them in without any crosses. I vowed to remember TSR the last time "D&D company" reared its stupid head (which wasn't that long ago, IIRC) and, tonight, I did, making movement across the top fluid and quick. Never read Tolkien or saw more than half of any one of the movies, so SAURON was lost on me, but had to be right on dropping easy fill. Had already appreciated the formulaic gimmick with force/area, so distance/time, mass/volume and the great reveal pretty much filled themselves.

    Loved the tip o' the cap to Arnold Palmer. My maternal grandfather was a scratch golfer and worshiped Arnie. He'd drink ICETEA & lemonade ritually when he'd visit in the summer and commandeer our television to root on his hero. My brother and I dreaded grandma and grandpa visits in the summer because it meant one thing: if there was a golf tournament on the tube, it was going on the tube, John "The Hammer" Milner and Wayne Garrett and Jon Matlack, et. al, be damned.

    Groans: SMEARY (blecch) and DE TROP (more F'ing French, that isn't, apparently. Still, sucks ass). Only erasure: WORn/E. In at 7:06, and thinking about my beloved grandpa. Thanks, Tim, for an easy and enjoyable Thursday!

    Anonymous 1:32 AM  

    Brilliant theme, discusting fill.

    AKA terrible solving experience

    Area Cecil Masses 1:51 AM  

    Hand up for OReoS, even AFTER I re-read the treat/tHreat clue!

    Didn't understand the PHYSICSFORMULAS
    but now guess it's FORCE over AREA = Pressure, right?
    Fun!

    REDUCE SPEED
    POPULATION DENSITY

    OK, I see @Rex explained it but I didn't understand his explanation... got lost in the morass of negativity. (Is there a formula for that???)

    @SteveJ I think it's more referring to a bad boss/petty TYRANT, not on the IDI AMIN scale.

    NYX is why things are named NYQuil and SomiNEX.
    Kali Nykta is how you say "Good night" in Greek, which gives us our word NIGHT, I imagine.
    And the Latin NOX gives us NOCTURNAL...
    which is the opposite of DIURNAL.

    I liked how smart this puzzle was...Latin, Greek, Physics...and even ERECTORSETS, toys for smart kids.
    Even tho I didn't understand it during the solve, I felt smart just trying to solve it!

    CECIL, coincidentally, is also the name of Daniel Day-Lewis' character in "A Room with a View". Anyone interested should read more about Cecil/Daniel Day-Lewis' day... He is why DD-L (Only winner of three Best actor Oscars) is half Irish, half Jewish...
    used to get beaten up as a result which led him to imitating local accent, etc. which he credits leading him to acting. Love me Daniel Day Lewis.

    chefwen 2:46 AM  

    O.K. for me, PHYSICS FORMULAS not high on my interest list, but I managed to get through it with only one write-over at 11D worn before WORE, no biggy. Loved BAR CAR, that's the first place we head for when boarding a train. I also had a great friend name RANI so it's always a pleasure to find her in a puzzle.

    @retired_chemist - Laughed out loud with your BYOB. That's the least they can do, right?

    syndy 4:12 AM  

    The Formulae were cute,the cross referencing was annoying the bottom fill was kinda rancid.Groucho was Master of the double ententre and I need Mr POLIN to use ENVIRON in a sentence

    jae 4:47 AM  

    @lms -- Just to be clear, that linguistics comment was a wheelhouse preference....see my late post from yesterday.

    Gareth Bain 4:48 AM  

    Me thirteen for OREOS! Biggest speed bump in this fantastic puzzle!

    loren muse smith 6:25 AM  

    Ok – so Gareth counted – I’m fourteenth to sign up for the “oreos” club. Group hug.

    @jae – I read your comment last night. Thanks! Funny how something so intuitive for one person can be not as clear for others. I think the closest I ever came to a physics class was “Physical Science” in eighth grade. It was the Physics For Non Physics-ers class that I struggled mightily with. We probably did a lot of coloring, and it was still hard. ERG!

    @Rob C – I am so jealous that you thought of “schwa de vivre.” Really, really good one. And here this French major didn’t even parse DE TROP properly until I came here. I, too, thought I had a dnf for sure.

    Mercifully, “plowman’s command” didn’t designate “left” or “right;” we all have too much else to do today.

    I don’t know – it seems that many, many language learners’ goal in this country is just to get through the %$#& class and hopefully never speak another word of the language. My daughter would cheerfully walk athwart burning coals rather than speak Spanish with someone from Latin America – this after six years of Spanish. FLUENCY has never been on the table for her. I could pull up a soapbox here and tell you all why this is – why language teachers (I was guilty, too) are at fault, but I’ll save that as my project as First Lady when my husband becomes President. Right. (@Carola – email me!)

    I got PHYSICS FORMULAS, got DISTANCE over TIME, and went off looking for the word “velocity.” And then “space.” And then “centripetal force.” And then I just went and lay down for a while ‘til I could COME back and see the ERE of my ways.

    @Questinia – ERG smack dab in the center *has* to be on purpose. Great catch!

    Since I don’t want to fold laundry, I considered ACTA, AFTA, AREA and then THOR, THOU, ALOU kicking around word ladders - A FIRST for me. They’re hard! I didn’t get anywhere.

    Nice job, Mr. Polin. I’m glad I didn’t CRACK UNDER pressure when I saw the theme!

    squirrel1.1 6:32 AM  

    I must say, I did find this enjoyable. Second Thursday in a row (double feature) that had the best puzzle of the week.

    mac 6:48 AM  

    Smart and fun puzzle. Raced right through it until the last, southernmost inch. That just went a little more slowly, and I wrote in Nox for Nyx. The ugly smeary solved that.

    Another write-over, since I'm not that interested in mixed drinks: after getting the c and the t at 43A, of course I filled in Scotch.

    Hathor 6:53 AM  

    Was I the only one bothered by the fact that two of the theme items were literal (the signs do want you to reduce the amount of DISTANCE you go in a given time, and Monaco does have greater population MASS per unit of VOLUME than any other place on earth), while the other was not (people who are giving into stress are not literally affected by FORCE over AREA). I think going with non-physics use of the theme terms would have led to a more interesting puzzle. There's certainly plenty of phrases with SPEED and PRESSURE in them that don't refer to the literal ratios. The third would be more difficult. I can't think of anything other than "My DENSITY has popped me to you," which woudln't fit in a daily grid, but presumably that's why they pay the constructors the big bucks.

    Danp 6:57 AM  

    Loved the puzzle, but somehow I never heard of AFTA, so detrop was de trop.

    Mohair Sam 7:30 AM  

    100 percent with Rex. Clever but just not enjoyable puzzle. Easy-Medium here for a Thursday . . . but still, I'm going to ENVIRON this one as DETROP.

    Slagger 7:53 AM  

    You've never heard of Cecil Day Lewis? Oh......

    Steve Finnell 7:56 AM  

    WHAT DID THE FIRST CHRISTIANS BELIEVE?

    THE CHURCH OF CHRIST HAD ITS BEGINNING ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST 33 A.D.. WHAT BELIEFS AND ACTIONS DID THE THREE THOUSAND CONVERTS TO CHRIST HAVE IN COMMON? DID GOD APPROVE OF EVOLVING BELIEFS, DIFFERENT REQUIREMENTS FOR SALVATION? IF THAT WERE TRUE, THEN WOULD IT NOT BE FOUND IN THE NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES?

    Acts 2:41 So then, those who received his word were baptized; and there were added about three thousand souls. Acts 2:47....And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

    All three thousand believed the apostle Peter's message and were baptized in water. Then they were added to the Lord's church by the Lord Himself. The Lord did not add the unsaved to His church. They had to believe and be baptized in water prior to being added to the body of Christ.

    1. Acts 2:22 Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know---

    All three thousand believed Jesus was a miracle worker.

    2. Acts 2:31-32 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.

    All three thousand believed in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    3. Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ---this Jesus whom you crucified."

    All three thousand believed that Jesus was Lord and Christ.

    4. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    All three thousand repented in order to have sins forgiven. (repentance meant that they made the commitment to turn from their unbelief and sinful lifestyle and turn toward God).

    All three thousand were baptized in water in order to have their sins forgiven.

    All three thousand received the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit after they believed, repented, and were baptized in water.

    5. Acts 2:40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, "Be saved from this perverse generation!"

    All three thousand were saved after they believed Peter's message: They believed, repented, confessed, and were baptized in water. (Mark 16:16, John 3:16, Acts 3:19, Acts 2:38, Romans 10:9-10, Acts 8:35-38) THEN THEY WERE ADDED TO THE LORD'S CHURCH! (Acts 2:47)

    WHAT THINGS DID PETER NOT PREACH AND WHAT THINGS DID THE THREE THOUSAND NOT BELIEVE.

    1.Peter did not preach that men were saved by grace alone.

    2.Peter did not preach that men were saved by faith only

    3.Peter did not preach that God had selected a few to be saved and that all others would go to hell.

    4. Peter did not preach that water baptism was not essential to salvation.

    5. Peter did not preach that Jesus was just one of many Saviors.

    6. Peter did not preach that once you were saved, that you could continue in a sinful lifestyle and still be saved.

    7. Peter did not preach that God did not have the power to give us an inerrant translation of the Scriptures.

    8. Peter did not preach that God would provide hundreds or thousands of different Christian denominations, and that they would teach different ways of being saved.

    9. Peter did preach that you had to speak in tongues as evidence that you were saved.

    AS BELIEVERS IN CHRIST, MEN SHOULD USE THE BIBLE AS THEIR GUIDE FOR SALVATION. Looking to man-made creed books, Bible commentaries, denominational statements of faith, and church catechisms, is looking in all the wrong places for the absolute truth!


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    Glimmerglass 7:56 AM  

    @Steve J. Yes, it's iced tea, damnit. For some reason, I wrote in DE TROP off just the DE. Maybe I'm one of those phony types that says, "It's just too too. . . ." I guess speed is the same as rate, but my Algebra one class trained me to think R=D/T, not S=D/T.

    Milford 7:56 AM  

    I liked this one, for the science theme and the fun construction. I thought it had a great nerdy vibe, which was demonstrated by @Rex's chosen bullet-point clues up top.

    Last physics class I had was a required physical chemistry class in college, learning PV=nRT.

    Loved FLUENCY, near SPEAKING TO.

    Almost DNFed, at the MPS/DE TROP cross. Lucky guess.

    I amazingly read 1D correctly, so no Oreos, but I did initially have Op-eds for the black-and-white threats, even though it felt off.

    @Hathor - I'm not bothered by the discrepancy (I hadn't noticed it), but it is an interesting point. It makes me think how we use physical terms like FORCE, pressure, temperature (hot-temperered), tension, breaking point, cracking, etc to describe emotions.

    @retired chemist - I like your BYOB for terse invitation - it works!

    Michael Leddy 8:03 AM  

    Maybe the best "de trop" in English:

    You're a rose,
    You're Inferno's Dante,
    You're the nose
    On the great Durante.
    I'm just in the way,
    As the French would say, "de trop."

    Cole Porter, "You're the Top"

    evil doug 8:05 AM  

    I thought this WAS the Christian blog....

    When American kids get fluent in English then I'll worry about Spanish fluency....

    Enjoyed the auburn and brown suffixes---lack of caps abets the deception. Also 'hazes' crossing the 'edu'.

    Thought this was pretty good

    bang
    buck

    Evil

    chefbea 8:15 AM  

    Did not like the puzzle...never studied physics...DNF

    I too read1 down as treats and put in oreo

    Norm C. 8:30 AM  

    SMEARY?
    Really?!
    Dear me!

    I thought the physics aspect was clever and fun to figure out. But the fill? Not so much.

    Susan McConnell 8:34 AM  

    Like the theme with its formulas and clueing. The fill...not so much. Things like NYX, SMEARY & CMI...EGAD.

    joho 8:37 AM  

    @Milford, I, too, popped in ORCAS right off the bat and thought, "What a new and clever clue!"

    I so wanted ahovel for AFIRST.

    As mathematically challenged as I am, I was surprised that I actually got it. That would mean this puzzle is fairly constructed even for those of us who've never had a physics class. Huge plus.

    I knew DETROP and NYX had to be correct by the crosses. So again, fairness abounds where ignorance does also.

    Cute crossing of golfer IAN and ICETEA in an Arnold Palmer.

    This was very different I give it mucho OLES!



    Carola 8:42 AM  

    The most fun I ever had with PHYSICS. Refused to complete CRACK UNDER _ORCE _REA as it made no sense to me, so went on. Saw the light with DISTANCE/TIME and went back. ENclose instead of ENVIRON kept me from seeing VOLUME for a minute.

    Also liked ERG in the center. And THUD - what the apple did on Newton's head.

    THOU next to HYMN is nice (as in, say, "How great Thou art").

    Wrote in ORCAS right away, probably because they were just featured in Tuesday's Science Times. Perhaps can be viewed from SLOOPS.

    @loren - I'd say many of my students were interested in fluency rather than grammatical accuracy. One textbook author I liked lamented that the emphsis on communicative skills led to their speaking "fließend falsch."

    Z 9:00 AM  

    I convinced myself that OReoS are a threat to my diet, so I can't even blame misreading the clue....

    Love the puzzle despite EEL next to a very RRN.

    @LMS - some people have a schwing for schwa.

    @Evil - I speak American, not English. My mom had utter disdain for people who thought they spoke Spanish but really spoke some odd Spanish/English patois. Me, I'm just happy when I can more or less understand people.

    @mac - just to be clear, the church social is still a very real thing in Holland, Michigan, where the Netherlands sent a great number of its religious fanatics back in the early MDCCCs. I find it completely plausible that the Dutch pig-in-the-blanket is the original.

    Joe The Juggler 9:12 AM  

    Danny said...
    "Oddly enough, I found this both easy AND enjoyable."

    Ditto for me. I finished in about my fastest ever Thursday time, and that includes a full minute staring at DE TROP before deciding that it must be right even though I obviously don't know it.

    I loved the theme.

    dk 9:13 AM  

    (Questina+Rex)/Evil Doug =dk

    ����(2 Stars) As lackluster week comes to close my expectations are duly managed for the remainder.

    Hey how about a puzzle done in symbolic logic?

    ⧠⦰→ ♢⦰ (Whatever is necessary is possible)

    Purists will note the hash marks through the circles are running in the wrong direction -- sue me.

    Shamik 9:13 AM  

    I never took physics except what was in elementary school science. Yeesh. Felt like a slog, but came through at medium time for a Thursday. Has FLUENCY been in a puzzle of any recent memory? That struck me as fresh.

    Notsofast 9:19 AM  

    Fairly easy once I kenned what was going on. Don't like ICETEA as an "ingredient". To me, it's a "component". DETROP is ugly. NYX is nice. News to me. The description sounds like Stevie NICKS. Coincidence?

    John V 9:26 AM  

    I liked this one a lot. Took a bit of sussing to see what was going on with the formulae, if you will, but I had a fun aha moment.

    Hand up for assuming I'll have fun with a puzzle. That is why I do them. I find discovering technical feats to be fun, too; Senor Krozel pushes this a touch too far from time to time though, but, whatever.


    SE last to fall. Wanted SURLLEY or some such for 48D. NYX? Don't they play in the Garden? Or is that the lead singer for Fleetwood Mac? SMEARY? Hmmmm. With three theme answers converging on that corner, pretty tough to keep the CAP away; 8 of 17 letters for the theme. Ergo, all's forgiven, for my taste.

    oldbizmark 9:30 AM  

    tripped up on "a first," "outs," and "card" but otherwise, i thought this was an easy, and boring puzzle. totally agree that it felt flat. too many plurals made easy outs for the constructor without adding anything substantive.

    jberg 9:31 AM  

    I never wrote in OReoS, but like @Z I considered the possibility of a threat to my diet - somone should use that! And this puzzle should have used 'sushi wrap' instead of 'me neither' for NORI.

    I found it a little too easy, once I got the theme. My only real difficulty - and it was just me, not a fault of the puzzle - was that I was trying to think of a formula for POPULATION density, which is defined as numbers/area, not MASS/VOLUME. As I said, not a fault of the puzzle, since the formulas clearly apply to the words, not to their contexts; just a little mental tic that kept me from seeing the answer. Fortunately, the gimme DE TROP led me to ENVIRON and thus to VOLUME, when it all fell into place.

    But the really good thing about this puzzle is ERECTOR SET, coming in the midst of the latest Anthony Wiener todo. If you haven't seen it yet, go look at the cover picture on the lates New Yorker right now.

    Lojman 9:36 AM  

    Ran as a fast Wednesday or medium Tuesday for me - I parsed the theme quickly and had few bumps. A pretty stark contrast to last Thursday's puzzle which Rex rightly summarized with the single word "Astonishing." This was certainly cute (thank you retired_chemist et al), but not a towering achievement by any means.

    NYX crossing SMEARY (SMEARY??? Really?!?!) was strange. DE TROP was completely (...wait for it...) foreign to me. At what point does a non English phrase need to be clued as such (e.g. Too much, in Toulouse)? I'd argue that DE TROP rises to that level, given its lack of use. Period. It's complete and utter lack of use. Anywhere. Ok, except France. And Canada.

    Cheers,
    Lojman

    Tita 10:08 AM  

    Liked this very much.
    Love a them based on physics/math - I was an astrophysics major at NYU - (with a minor in the Classics, though I don't remember ever yearing of NYX).

    Hand up for WOE on DETROP.

    Same hilarious misread at 1D - was pre-disposed, having just signed up for a walking tour of Chelsea that starts at the Nabisco factory where OReoS were invented!

    Loved the nostalgia of riding the BARCAR on hte New Haven line back in the day - all the sinners were there- smokers and drinkers. What fun we had!

    And loved FLUENCY - a target I strive for, but never feel I achieve - even when my Berlitz teacher asked me "why are you here" - I shoulda told here I won't consider myself fluent until I can do a French crossword puzzle.
    Hats off to the Rexvillians who can... (I'm talking about you, @Gill, @Ulrich, @mac...)

    @acme - NYX also explains why the word for night is similar in so many languages.

    THanks @Questinia for pointing out ERG - missed it as part of the theme. (It is my Mom's proudest puzzle moments - college son going for engineering degree was doing the puzzle - asked "3 letter word for unit of work" - when mom answered correctly, he said "Not bad..." with sheer amazement.

    Thanks Mr. Polin for giving us geeks some air time.
    (Now, who is going to get to work on Americans achieving FLUENCY in science??

    Two Ponies 10:39 AM  

    Way too dry and thus no fun.

    Who let the screaming bible-thumper in at 7:56?

    Gill I. P. 10:46 AM  

    I too was taking the theme answers literally. When I penned in PHYSICS FORMULAS I ran upstairs and completed all the little circles.
    This was fun. It was different and you did not have to know any physics to complete. So there!
    @mac: I too had SCOTCH..Same BARCAR memories as @Tita. I always had Dewars on the rocks - smoking Winston lights and making friends...!
    @Z Spanish/English patois! Stay away from Miami...My favorites: "Cierra la window que esta reinando" or
    "Voy pa la marqueta a comprar porkchoppers."
    Nothing wrong with DE TROP in my libro.
    Gracias Timothy Polin for something different and clever.

    Ellen S 10:47 AM  

    i have never seen DE TROP in anything French, not that I've read anything French since college. But snooty British girls in novels set in the 30s use it all the time. Maybe I've seen it in Agatha Christie mysteries, or Evelyn Waugh. Anyway, a gimme.

    Not so much luck with SAURON. First I had SArgON (is that some kind of bath oil?), but fixed the U and left it as SAUgON.

    Didn't misread 1D but took forever to get it -- needed OR_AS before it came to me. And same experience as @Steve J with getting the theme. What kind of street sign says "Reduce Distance Time", and then I thought "Reduce Velocity"? Not that either. (though in a world where ENVIRON is a verb, maybe highway warnings would say Reduce Velocity). So I filled them all in and didn't know what I was looking at until the punch line. Then went back and enjoyed the answers.

    The EEL didn't bother me. It's only when there's an epidemic of them.

    My c

    John V 10:50 AM  

    Okay, so we're outing all the BARCAR habitues: New Haven Line, 5:53 from Grand Central to South Norwalk, most of the '80s, or at least that part that I remember.

    One barcar regular was a German born woman, English her second language, who absolutly tore through the puzzle, got all the American idioms, etc. Sooooo annoying :)

    We had a ball, is what I'm saying.

    Anonymous 10:55 AM  

    You are not alone in trying OREOS. As for Cecil Day-Lewis, i am surprised you do not know him. Interesting fellow, poet laureate, communist, father of Daniel Day-Lewis and thorn in the side of the British establishment.

    Sandy K 10:55 AM  

    Thought this was a very clever theme and constructed well- exceptions beings MPS, DE TROP, ENVIRON, SMEARY, CMI, ONO another EEL! EGAD!

    gifcan 10:56 AM  

    The very last time that I dropped acid I was at a Jimi Hendrix concert. Big mistake. His guitar took over my body and I barely got out of there alive.

    I had a similar experience with this puzzle but did not get out alive. LSD was my first mistake. I sensed it was too easy but I stuck with it forever.

    My son helped me with SAURON and he noticed STATUE as well. I asked my wife to rescue me from the circle thing and she quickly put it together.

    When I should have been taking physics I was taking LSD. What a woeful experience, this puzzle.

    I did learn one thing - trust your gut. When the puzzle was finished and I reveiwed the answers, I kept repeating - I thought that was the answer.

    Licking my wounds.

    600 10:58 AM  

    @Steve J--It IS iceD tea, dammit.

    @acme--I did not know that about NYX, and I kind of pride myself on knowing that kind of trivia. So thanks.

    @John V--Love the PUNS, especially for Stevie.

    I came here certain Rex's rating would be easy. It was for me, even though I'm an English Literature devotee. The last time I was in a physics classroom was 1964. Ugh. Anyway, I'll feel good about finding a medium-challenging puzzle easy for the rest of the day. (And by easy for a Thursday I mean around 15 minutes. Absolutely not in Rex's category.)

    John in Philly 11:13 AM  

    Since when is "environ" a verb? I held on for dear life with "envelop" and forced a DNF in center south. Hard work with little payback.....

    retired_chemist 11:15 AM  

    @ jberg and Anthony Weiner fans everywhere - Should 63A have been clued as"Terse invitation from AW?"

    Steve J 11:28 AM  

    The discussion of NYX sent me looking a couple things up. That one traces back much further than Greek; it goes all the way back to Proto Indo-European, the hypothesized source language for major language branches that cover the bulk of the goegraphy from norther India and Iran through Europe (Slavic, Greek, Latin, Germanic, etc.). The PIE word was liked "nokts" or "nekts", which sounds and looks like an awful lot of contemporary words for "night". In fact, looking through some comparative tables, "night" seems to be one of the words that's gone through the fewest phonetic shifts over the course of 5,000-6,000 years.

    Anonymous 11:34 AM  

    John in Philly asks:
    "Since when is "environ" a verb?"

    Since before Shakespeare's time. "Environs" is the
    noun.

    -MAS

    Evan 11:35 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Z 11:37 AM  

    Well, if we're going to write topical clues: 10A: The real Anthony's wiener.
    14A: The real Anthony Weiner. 67A: The result of AW's one handed typing {okay - that's a bit much}.

    Bob Kerfuffle 11:37 AM  

    OK puzzle.

    One write-over, at 18 D, "Stitch", working off _ar_, I had DART before CARD. I knew DART was something from sewing, but even now I don't know what.

    I think I have only seen DE TROP in lists of different ways of representing the long O sound in English. The following is the right idea but not exactly what I had in mind:

    oh curacAO pharAOH cAOUTchouc mAUve chAUD-froid [comme il] fAUT fAUX bEAU platEAUEd gatEAUX yEOman sEW sEWEd HAUteur HAUTboy milo wHOA gO OAk hallOAEd bOATswain tOE colOGne OH fOLk brOOch de trOP fOREcastle apropOS depOT depOTEd escargOTS sOUl dOUGH furlOUGHEd lOW OWE

    Evan 11:37 AM  

    This gave me a good a-ha moment. I remember liking physics back before I went the humanities route, so I appreciated how the formulas fit together here.

    People have already commented on the poor fill, but what I thought felt flat was the revealer. I know that a PHYSICS FORMULA is a thing, but the phrase itself seems like a bit of a stretch. Back when I took physics classes in high school and college, we just called them "formulas." If there were an equals sign, we'd just call them "equations." Tacking on PHYSICS at the beginning....I dunno, there's something awkward and over-specific about it. Kinda like if your clue were [Corolla, e.g.] and the answer were [TOYOTA MODEL] -- yes, that's what a Corolla is, but would you use that phrase to describe it? Wouldn't you just describe the car as a Toyota Corolla, or simply say, "The make is a Toyota, the model is a Corolla"?

    I didn't have the OREOS mix-up as it seems many others did, but I'd argue that I had a worse mistake: I put in MAITAI before ICETEA. Brilliant idea, Evan. An ingredient in one cocktail is another cocktail.

    @retired_chemist:

    I think that would be [Terse invitation from Carlos Danger].

    Rob C 12:17 PM  

    Really liked this one. Almost challenging enough to throw in the towel. Had no idea what was going on for a long while but I persisted and as @Evan said, great aha moment. A physics puzzle-gotta love it!

    The fill, sure it suffered a bit in places. Not too bad though considering 72 theme squares-wow!

    Disagree wholeheartedly with Rex that the fill suffered in places that *aren't* seriously compromised by theme density. The one example he gave was ACTA, which cuts across 4 words that cross 2 theme answers each. If he meant NYX to be another example, that cuts across 3 words that cross 3 theme answers. In fact, most of the downs cross 2 or 3 themers. Unfair basis for your criticism.

    And we get EEL River. I suppose there are a lot of river eels that live in the EEL River, but not many SEA EELS (from last week)

    PS - agree with those who are peeved by ICE TEA.

    Rookie 12:24 PM  

    @Evil Doug: thanks for an out loud laugh about this being the Christian blog. Funny on so many levels.

    @ACME: thanks for the lesson on NYX.

    re: DE TROP. A gimme; however, I should have gotten this as a French major, but I think Cole Porter was my inspiration. (cf someone's previous post for the explanation.)

    Not in the Oreos crowd but struggled for the answer, nevertheless. Finally saw it.

    Evan 1:00 PM  

    @Rob C:

    I think you might be missing Rex's point about the fill being compromised. He's saying that the fill didn't have to be as poor in the ACTA and ESSA and NOR I sections because there were probably better options in those spaces, since the theme answers (even with 72 theme squares) don't cause as many constraints there. For instance, I might have tried INVERTS before ENVIRON. I haven't checked it, and maybe the constructor did try it, so it's possible that the end result would be worse. But when the current result gives you ENVIRON/AFTA/DE TROP, I'd consider refilling that section until you get rid of them with better alternatives.

    Delaware 1:30 PM  

    I hated this puzzle. I really dislike cross referencing so there was that. Didn't like environ or detrop or alou (how many times???) or ice tea (pet peeve!) or a first. But I'm not usually critical. Something about this was difficult for me and just rubbed me the wrong way. Not enjoyable today.

    Anonymous 1:30 PM  

    The ORCA -> OREO misdirect is really irksome. It's designed only to trick, not entertain.

    Beautiful puzzle though. I agree that the non-theme fill is somewhat flat for a puzzle with (relatively) less theme density, but I guess stacking the theme entries makes it more challenging than I realize. Still, excellent idea, brilliantly executed. Bravo!

    Rob C 1:34 PM  

    @Evan - My disagreement was with his statement that those places *aren't* seriously compromised by theme density. My point is THEY ARE seriously compromised by crossing 2 and 3 themers.

    I suppose one could argue degree of compromise (seriously as opposed to significantly or somewhat). I'm not sure how official these scales are ;)

    I acknowledged that the fill suffered a bit and agree there MAY be better fill.

    Virginia 1:34 PM  

    Yeah, well we hate you. We were supposed to be first, but no, you had to sneak in. Then you believed, and continue to believe, you were/are a real, significant state yet your only export is chicken waste and by-products. Then you gave us Joe Biden.

    Virginia 1:35 PM  

    Oops, that previous post was directed at @Delaware

    Steve J 1:57 PM  

    @Anon 1.30: What ORCA/OREO misdirect? People misreading the clue is not a misdirect.

    Rob C 1:57 PM  

    Sorry to ramble on about this, but just a bit more.

    The implication of saying that those areas were not seriously compromised by theme density, is that the weak fill was the result of poor or sloppy constructing.

    I wanted to offer that, since those areas were compromised by multiple theme answers, it was not necessarily poor or sloppy constructing.

    Just wanted to present a different view for consideration.

    retired_chemist 2:23 PM  

    Carlos Danger it should be.

    Evan 3:00 PM  

    @Rob C:

    I hear what you're saying, but I'd argue that all weak fill is poor constructing. It doesn't mean the entire puzzle is poorly constructed, or that the puzzlemaker is a bad constructor (I know Tim isn't, since he had a fun Twenty Under Thirty grid). It may even be worth keeping a few weak entries around because the surrounding fill is really lively -- just about every puzzle has at least a couple clunkers. But weak fill is still weak fill. It's why we call them out, and I guess it was a little more than what Rex was comfortable with.

    For what it's worth, I did a little fiddling with the grid, and found that you can at least get rid of DE TROP by replacing it with BETTOR (and NOR I becomes NOT I). You can also replace ENVIRON with INVERTS, but it gets a little more complicated there, since you'd almost certainly have to move a couple of black squares around and get rid of ERECTOR SET and SPEAKING TO to get it to work.

    efrex 3:09 PM  

    As noted by others, us science geek types deserve our moment in the sun. Quirky Thursday theme, and, to my mind, just enough fill bite to overcome the sub-optimal stuff.

    Hands up for considering OREOS before ORCAS, and only knew DETROP from "You're the Top" (there are some really racy alternate lyrics to that song too, btw). No crossouts or Naticks, so I can't complain.

    Much obliged, Mr. Polin!

    Tita 3:10 PM  

    @bob K...
    A dARt is indeed a sewing thing...though it involves many stitches, not just one...
    You probably have a few emanating from teh waistband in your trousers...
    Women's blouses and skirts very often have them. They add shape to an otherwise flat piece of cloth.

    Basically, you pinch the fabric together by as much as you want to attain the right shape, then you sew it down to nothing. Voilá!

    (I am quite certain that you really wanted to know this, and that secretly, so did everyone else here. You're welcome...!)

    ArtO 3:25 PM  

    Do not notice a complaint about CRACKUNDERFORCE which, as clued, I think would have related to a person and as such the usual phrase is CRACKUNDERPRESSURE. Nevertheless, a clever construct and fun solve which went quickly.

    Lewis 3:25 PM  

    @stevej -- agree about NORI clue, and liked the clues you liked, and ERECTOR SET. I haven't thought about "A.C. Gilbert" in a half century, and it felt good to activate that neuron again.

    @syndy -- great post from beginning to end!

    Do we have a term for when so many people misread a clue????

    @ellen -- my jaw dropped when you said that EEL didn't bother you. One of the mores of this community is that Ellen hates EELS.

    I did love the theme idea and execution. Not because it was physics (I'm not a math/science person), but because it was clever how the formula answers completed the phrases. Rex said the phrases were dull, but the combination of the formulas on top of the phrase beginnings was fun and impressive. The aside from the construction feat.

    Analogy: you can have a dull answer in a puzzle but if it was clued cleverly enough, it all comes to life.

    Grid gruel (too much, I'm afraid): OBS, ACTA, ESSA, SAURON, EGAD, ONO, RANI, OLES, DETROP (imo), ERE, NYX, PCP, EDU, LODI, AFTA, TSR, OST, ENVIRON (as used), MPS, ALOU, CMI, SMEARY (please!).

    I like PCP crossing THUD!

    sanfranman59 3:57 PM  

    Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

    Thu 16:43, 16:29, 1.01, 58%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Thu 10:21, 9:30, 1.09, 65%, Medium-Challenging

    Clark 4:17 PM  

    NYX looks weird; νύξ not so much.

    Bird 5:00 PM  

    Late to the party today . . .

    I liked the theme (though I would have preferred to see FORMULAE, but not so much the fill as already pointed out.

    Love ERECTOR SET. I had one as a kid and played with it, and Legos, all the time. No wonder I got my degree in mechanical engineering.

    No OREOS in my grid, but SHOVEL before A FIRST.

    Why can’t all foreign language answers be clued as such?

    ahimsa-NYT 5:04 PM  

    The science nerd part of me loved this puzzle! Kudos to Timothy Polin!

    But thank goodness for MASS over VOLUME because I would never have gotten 44D, ENVIRON, without that V. And then I kept trying ENVelop, in spite of it not quite matching the clue.

    And I loved ERECTOR SET. I had one as a kid.

    The biggest WOE for me today was DETROP (de trop). I may have seen that word used once or twice but did not recognize it at all today. I came here partly to see what I had done wrong. Nope, it's correct! How about that. :-)

    ahimsa-NYT 5:26 PM  

    I thought I'd add that ICE TEA vs. iced tea doesn't bother me at all. It seems in the language. After all, "iced water" is now "ice water" and "iced cream" is now "ice cream." So, why not ice tea?

    Of course, if you're in the south, just order "sweet tea" and you can avoid the whole ice vs. iced problem.

    jae 6:00 PM  

    As @August West mentioned an Arnold Palmer is not a cocktail. It's an ICETEA and lemonade combo that is quite refreshing after finishing 18 holes.

    Rob C 6:14 PM  

    @Evan - I don't really agree that all weak fill is poor constructing. Sometimes it's the necessary price paid for an ambitious theme or other good fill. As you said yourself - it may even be worth keeping a few weak entries around because the surrounding fill is really lively. I'd add to that by saying an ambitious, dense theme like this is worth keeping a few weak entries too.

    Which circles back to my original point. That small area has two theme answers running through it, so I think Rex is incorrect when he says that the area isn't seriously compromised by theme density. It is.

    I actually think we agree a lot more than we disagree on this, we're just stating it differently.

    The bigger point is what a great blog that you can have a conversation like this with people who take their puzzles seriously, but not too seriously. Thanks Evan. And Rex.

    oops - 4th post.

    Anonymous 8:08 PM  

    Two sullen comments: The shaded squares are RATIOS, not physics formulas. And, population density is persons per unit area -- which is NOT mass density. Bah!

    retired_chemist 8:50 PM  

    @ Anon 8:08 - you are missing the point. MASS over (i.e. divided by) VOLUME is DENSITY, and that is the way the answer ends: POPULATION density, with the density expressed in the formula. Similarly with the other two cases.

    nna 8:50 PM  

    @gifcan .... Lol

    Being a Caltech grad I just loved this puzzle!!! Give me PHYSICSFORMULAS any day. Put me down in the OREOS before ORCAS camp, along with the LSD is bettr than PCP folks. While I breezed thru this one, at the end I could not get DETROP. Ended up with DETTROP (NOTI cross instead of NORI) and just couldn't figure out what I'd done wrong. Many kudos to our constructor.

    sanfranman59 10:01 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 6:01, 6:04, 0.99, 47%, Medium
    Tue 8:49, 8:13, 1.07, 70%, Medium-Challenging
    Wed 8:35, 9:43, 0.88, 24%, Easy-Medium
    Thu 16:43, 16:29, 1.01, 58%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:46, 3:45, 1.00, 49%, Medium
    Tue 5:29, 4:57, 1.11, 76%, Medium-Challenging
    Wed 5:02, 5:35, 0.90, 26%, Easy-Medium
    Thu 9:59, 9:30, 1.05, 61%, Medium-Challenging

    Merle 11:57 PM  

    I'll throw in my usual comment -- we know what we know, whatever is in our cultural frame of reference wheelhouse. I found the puzzle easy and intriguing. I was a very poor science student -- in fact, it is a stretch to say I ever was a science student, I just registered for classes and showed up and stopped thinking -- but I found the physics theme fun and accessible. The answers just fell into place.

    That orca-oreo kerfuffle is no big deal. I had the first o and the r, saw the black and white in the clue, read the threat correctly, and knew it couldn't be oreo. Well, if oreo was a red herring, then free association from herring led to orca. A black and white four letter red herring is an orca.

    I believe the first time I came across the French phrase de trop may have been in "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott. I'm about to turn 71 next week, so it's been a while since I reveled in the book. Nonetheless, I think I remember that Amy March had a host of little girl pretensions, and one of them was a proclivity to scatter French phrases into her conversations -- phrases such as de trop.

    I heard of Cecil Day-Lewis before I heard of Daniel Day-Lewis. If anyone is collecting famous Cecils -- Rex rattled off a mascot named Cecil -- do not forget the Cecil the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent of the 1950's cartoon "Beany and Cecil".

    Nyx was a gimme. And I love the n-y-x combo. Useful for both puzzle constructors and solvers.

    So, all in all, a delightful puzzle. Thank you, Timothy Polin!

    Elle54 12:38 AM  

    Hahaha! I got Oreos too! Can't believe others misread it!
    Just finished the puzzle cuz I've been playin Candy Crush all day

    ANON B 6:13 PM  

    Rex:
    I appreciate that you're an
    English professor but could you
    please have mercy on poor dopes
    like me (or is it I)?
    It took me ten minutes to figure
    out what you meant by:
    struggle + aha=awesome
    and
    struggle+ "that's a thing?"=shrug

    Anonymous 11:52 PM  

    So, this evening (Friday) was working on this puzzle while listening to the LA Philharmonic concert on WFMT. First piece on the program was a new composition by Esa-Pekka Salonen called "Nyx", based on a shadowy mythological figure.
    I would never have gotten 68 Across on my own, but while the piece was playing I was able to solve it from the crosses. Don't know how to even think about such an obscure coincidence. Just have to smile, I guess.

    August West 12:06 AM  

    Bang. Boom. Done. This thing was smoother than, um, Silk. If you've ever found yourself hypnotically playing one game of Windows solitaire after another, you've probably encountered that one magical deal that allows you to WINOUT in, say, 46 seconds instead of 1:03. That was this puzzle for me. Typed without stopping from beginning to end. My only erasure was at 1A, where I incorrectly began with atT. Moving vertically along 4A got things cookin'. Notre Dame grad? Bang! ELKHART. Nearby DUNNE was a gimme, along with SNL and RENTAL (pure hunch; just a correct guess). HABERDASHER then stared back at me and I suddenly couldn't get Nigel Tufnel out of my head. Boom! HISMASTERSVOICE went in off the H, and the entire East, from top to bottom was just...vaporized. Almost put rAMA for our arrow wielding god, but KNEW KAMA was the kid. Ol' pal ANSEL confirmed ALES, and ROYALFAMILY spooned nicely up against BASK/BALK, which begat TABLET (to be completed shortly thereafter). ORLY and GAIL were also gimmes, confirming Paul Blart, MALLCOP, OATEN and GENE. With TORME and WOUK already in place, the triple stack 11s of the SW were DONE, in an instant. That provided an express elevator back upstairs to the NW along TOAFARETHEWELL, which gave up WHO, who gave up OHPLEASE, which is what I said, along with "D'OH!," as I changed my beginning letter to my last and smile, smile, smiled!

    http://youtu.be/naub344xEBE

    Auggie 12:08 AM  

    Oops, @Rex, feel free to delete the 12:06 above. Blogs with Saturday's post. Mae culpa.

    A 12:24 AM  

    Um, *Belongs* with Saturday's post. DYAC! Mea culpa! Make me look good. Deep-six these last three. TIA

    Anonymous 1:09 PM  


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    spacecraft 11:30 AM  

    The spellcasters are fighting back! They now lead the escorts 15-9! But wait! Here comes the Jesus freak! Get off the field, dude; they have to finish their game first, then you can play the winner. Better yet: ALL OF YOU get off the furschlugginer field!!

    To today's eminently clever puzzle. To be brutally accurate, of course, "pressure" is better defined as FORCE over VOLUME--but we can't have two VOLUMEs in one grid, now can we? That would violate the, um, "density" rule. So we'll give a scientist poetic license. Wouldn't be the first time.

    And now would someone please explain to me how on EARTH the word "CARD" can be defined by the word "stitch." Of all the THOUsands of ways I might define CARD, "stitch" just is not included. There must be some utterly obscure artsy-craftsy thing where that applies, I guess, but I'm throwing the flag, and I'm making it a 15-yarder. Thus the concurrent penalties--five-yard minors for ENVIRON and SMEARY--are picked up.

    Major hodup in the NW with RAm: how about that! TWO three-letter Chinese-year animals that both start with RA! Go figure. Couldn't make sense of the downs at 3 and 18; knew there was something wrong. When the aha! of RAT led me to STATUE, I still had the natick at SAU_ON/CA_D. Nothing but the R made any sense at all--but the R didnt either! Still, I left it in with a shrug. Stitch=CARD; I'm still shaking my head.

    Z 11:37 AM  

    @Spacecraft- That Tina Fey is such a STITCH, she cracks me up every time. That Tina Fey is such a CARD, she cracks me up every time.

    Fair warning, I had the escorts flooding my in box this morning. It looks like every blog for the next few weeks.

    Waxy in Montreal 1:46 PM  

    Loved the theme answers today, very clever. Not so much some of the fill, especially DETROP and NYX.

    Thanks @Z for the STITCH/CARD explanation above. Had PURL from SAURON before CARD evolved from its other crosses. Also had FLEETS (from FLUENCY) before SLOOPS which helped REDUCE my DISTANCE/TIME of solving considerably.

    As well, had HIP before HEP which I'd situate, ahem, squarely in the '40's, the HEPCAT era.

    Cary in Boulder 1:51 PM  

    I thought I was gonna be so clever to report my OREO/ORCAnfusion. Instead I'm maybe the 99th one to do so. Will and Timothy must be chuckling in their beards. Anyway, seemed right when the R got me (incorrectly) to RAM. All was eventually sorted.

    Anyway, I enjoyed this one even though I barely scraped through high school physics and was given a gentleman's pass in calculus only because it was my senior year and I was in an advanced college prep class and already accepted into college. In fact my lasting memory of physics class is getting busted for listening to the World Series with an earplug running up my shirt from a transistor. So I never got the ratios/formulas thingie until I got here. Just thought they were clunky phrases. I liked being able to work my way through a Thursday, given that I was apparently the only one who was totally DNF stupefied by last week's Double Feature rebus.

    When I saw AC Gilbert, I immediately thought CHEMISTRY SET, one of my very favorite childhood toys, given to me by my grandma.

    @Merle: Hand up for Beanie and Cecil, one of my earliest TV memories.

    Could NYX be an airport? The East Coast equivalent of LAX?

    Cary in Boulder 1:54 PM  

    Transistor radio, that is.

    Solving in Seattle 2:20 PM  

    My OReo was laced with lsd.

    Having learned a new French phrase (I'm up to three now) I vow to use "de trop" at least once in a sentence every day. I wonder how it's pronounced.

    Do you ever wonder who picked the Chinese animal lineup? Obviously someone who wanted to be born in the year of the tiger, or maybe the dragon. I'm a ram, and that's what I put in 14A.

    Liked THOR crossing FORCE/AREA. His hammer created lot's of pressure.

    Timothy, on several levels this was quite HEP, not the least of which were the comments the puzzle generated.

    capcha: centeve. The last day of a century?

    Solving in Seattle 2:21 PM  

    email

    rain forest 2:49 PM  

    Completely disagree with OFL on this one. How often do we see creativity like this, DAREIASK? I started in the NE and pretty soon had the word AREA beneath -ORCE. Wtf? So I noodled around the due North and NW and got a few letters to let me see CRACKUNDER, then the AHA?, pressure, or FORCE over AREA.

    Btw, @Spacecraft, pressure IS correctly defined as force over area. Look at the units: lb/sq. in.

    CARD for stitch didn't hold me up, and I've seen ENVIRON used as a verb, somewhere, although I might not ever use it that way. Just a bit DE TROP, (pronounced de tro, ie, no 'p' sound).

    Neat puzzle.

    Anonymous 2:56 PM  

    I'm glad I am not the only one bugged by "ice tea" instead of iced tea. Same with wax paper, as it says on the Cut-Rite box. The paper is waxed, it is not made of wax, and the tea is not made of ice.

    Solving in Seattle 3:07 PM  

    @rain forest, thanks for the pronunciation of de trop.

    Btw, is this thing SCHWA related to feng shui?

    rain forest 3:25 PM  

    @SIS - Like feng shui, which I've frequently heard pronunced fung shui, the schwa, and discussions around it, are usually limited to those who environ this blog. Certainly not for the petty bourschwa.

    Solving in Seattle 3:40 PM  

    @rainy, I think you underestimate the far flung interest in the SCHWA. You might not be a golfer, but even the Champions Tour has a Trophy for the player who wins the most money during the year, and it's named for our unstressed central vowel: The Schwab Cup.

    rain forest 4:37 PM  

    @SIS - funny!

    Hey, I like @rainy. I AM a golfer, well, I really should say I play golf, or something close to it. Later this month a group of my buddies and I will be heading out for our annual Fall Tour in Chelan where we will play Desert Canyon and Bear Mountain Ranch. I believe you once mentioned you have played Desert Canyon.


    "Schwa" sounds very much like the sound of my attempted flop shot in long grass when the club slides underneath the ball without hitting it. Closely followed by "bullschwa!"

    boardbtr 5:05 PM  

    @Z's explanation of stitch/card didn't make any sense to me. I googled the word stitch and as close as I could come was "in stitches" meaning laughing.

    Dirigonzo 5:24 PM  

    It's Thursday after all, so I expected something might be afoot. I was certain it was CRACKUNDERpressure and when that wouldn't fit I just waited until the PHYSICSFORMULAS gimmick appeared and all was well with the grid. Well almost - I had NOtI for "me neither" and so wound up with DETtOP as too much.

    @boardbtr - "Card" and "stitch" are both slang terms for a funny (as in ha ha) person - @Z gives a perfect example of how the words can be used interchangeably.

    Solving in Seattle 6:08 PM  

    @rainy, yes, I'm familiar with both Desert Canyon and the flop shot.

    I understand that SCHWA was first linguistically acknowledged by a Schwabian prince of Germany following an Easter dinner.

    capcha: foeukin. A question from the sentry?

    AquilaAquilegia 7:57 PM  

    Would've been here sooner, but I've been watching my next-to-last monarch larva turn into a chrysalis. Had three all the same age, missed the first two by inches (ONO!), caught this one just after the skin split. (Or should I say CRACKed UNDER (PRESSURE?)) Looked like a large, freakishly twitching, green worm. ERG. Twenty minutes or so later, it's still twitching some and still lumpier than the other two, but it's coming along. Our first two butterflies have already hatched and flown, so POPULATION (DENSITY) is dropping in the lab.

    Enjoyed this thing, eventually. ICE TEA and ENVIRON, not so much, but you can't have everything.

    I used to give my black cats (almost all of them girls) cool Greek star names -- NYX was on the list -- but other people named our last two, and now we're mostly tortoiseshells which, once again, other people named. (Who in the world would name a cat 'Velcro'? Or 'Precious,' which she isn't, which is why I call her 'Twee'.)

    Chrys is now almost completely, well, a chrysalis. Must go feed my last larva before he gets impatient and starts crawling out of his cage.

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