1997 Nicolas Cage thriller / TUE 9-3-13 / In Valley of 2007 film / Suffix with road hip / Onionlike vegetables

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Constructor: Dan Schoenholz

Relative difficulty: Medium


THEME: We — Clues are all homophones of "We"; answers are all definitions of those clues

Word of the Day: "CON AIR" (43D: 1997 Nicolas Cage thriller) —
Con Air is an 1997 American action-thriller film directed by Simon West and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, producer ofThe Rock. It stars Nicolas CageJohn CusackColm Meaney and John Malkovich. The film borrows its title from the nickname of the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System. While scanning a newspaper article, ScreenwriterScott Rosenberg first learned of the special program, then visited its Oklahoma City base "to get an eyewitness perspective of the incredible operation, which quickly formed the genesis for Con Air." (wikipedia)
• • •

This one not so great. Not a big fan of the definition-for-answer thing to begin with. Then there's the fill, which is just dead. Just .. lying there. Not interesting, well below average in overall quality. Exhibit A: -STERS. I don't really need other exhibits, I don't think. Plural suffixes are the lowest form of crossword life. The rest of the grid is mostly crosswords and yawning. Also, I don't say the initial consonant in "Whee!" the same as I do all the others. I'm very aitchy with 'whys' and 'wherefores' and 'whatnots.' I just noticed that ASST is sitting on top of ASSETS and now I'm a little sadder than I was ten seconds ago. It's like a little bad answer sitting atop a bloated version of The Same Bad Answer. ELAH? (15D: "In the Valley of ___" (2007 film)) Is that right? This just isn't working on any level. That "?" clue on AGEIST does not work at all (44D: Like the philosophy "Out with the old, in with the new"?). I mean, you have to lean on the "?" pretty hard, and even then, it's not funny, cute, clever. Just weird. I do like RANGY, though, I'll say that (10D: Long-limbed). I had LEGGY ... which I also like.


Theme answers:
  • 17A: Wii (XBOX RIVAL)
  • 23A: Oui (FRENCH FOR YES)
  • 36A: We (PERSONAL PRONOUN)
  • 46A: "Whee!" (CRY OF DELIGHT)
  • 58A: Wee (MINIATURE)
Onward.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    P.S. Great article on speed-solver Erik Agard in the Washington Post today. Check it out.

    83 comments:

    jackj 12:02 AM  

    Unless one grew up alone in a corner in a pile of dust, they likely had their cute little tot’s toes tweaked while the tweaker lovingly recited the nursery rhyme ending with “Wee wee wee all the way home”.

    Enter Dan Schoenholz and today’s very clever and intelligent puzzle with a reminder that if you don’t get the theme from the answers, look at the clues.

    Homonyms of “We” are what we get and it makes for five different words and five excellent answers, the best being PERSONALPRONOUN (and if Dan and Will had wanted to be really aggressive they could have stirred the pottie by changing the “Wee” answer from MINIATURE to reflect a toddler’s likely reference to a certain nine-letter bodily function).

    Likes included CAMEONTO, SLIMES, ASABC, (supplemented later on with the scale notes of CDE) and AGEIST, (as so cleverly clued using the old saw quoted in the puzzle) and then the colloquial cluing of BUST and the nasty tinge of the NAST clue were both nicely done.

    But, not every bit of the fill sang “Whee!”, as Dan was forced into using entries such as what seems to be a grudgingly accepted compromise entry for OLDFILES, an obscure partial film title for ELAH and the dreaded STERS, (should have hit the RESET button for that one).

    But, all in all a very well thought out puzzle, (especially for a Tuesday).

    August West 12:04 AM  

    What Rex said.

    Yup.

    retired_chemist 12:11 AM  

    Meh. Not offensive. not great.

    Only overwrite was WISE for pert @ 62A, which took me forever (almost 2 min.!) to find when I checked. Not sure "Impudent" is a very good Tuesday clue for WISE anyway. It's legit, but IMO barely. Also to me "Out with the old, in with the new" evokes housecleaning or New Year's. Nothing AGEIST about either.

    Tossed a coin and ended LEONI with an I instead of an e. Lucky.

    Thanks, Mr. Schoenholz.

    Noam D. Elkies 12:14 AM  

    They five words don't just rhyme: they're homophones. (Which happens to mean that they actual don't qualify as rhymes, for much the same reason that I'm not my own brother despite having the same parents as myself, but whatever.)

    Evan 12:25 AM  

    I'm back from Portugal, and I'm all caught up on all the NYT crosswords that I missed! Now I just have to catch up on all my schoolwork that I've been neglecting. Priorities first.

    Like Rex, I don't really care for themes like this. The theme answers often look like arbitrary phrases, and today is no exception. XBOX RIVAL, FRENCH FOR YES, and CRY OF DELIGHT just don't seem natural. It's like the theme answers and the clues got switched for those ones, whereas PERSONAL PRONOUN and MINIATURE are much more in-the-language. If all of them had been solid, everyday phrases with the corresponding homophone clues, I'd be more into it.

    I had OLD FILMS before FILES -- had it been the former, it woulda been somewhat neat to see that next to CON AIR (which I file under BAD FILMS, but your mileage may vary).

    Questinia 12:40 AM  

    I refuse to accept AMEBA as some sort of stream-lined version of itself, losing its O through vacuolar exocytosis or something and singing gospel.
    It's amoeba.

    Otherwise I like the puzzle but also choose to humorously participate in the gleeful Rexironic smack-down.

    Thanks constructor and thanks Rex.

    Steve J 12:48 AM  

    During my first pass through the across clues, I thought to myself, "This is essentially yesterday's theme in reverse". I wasn't terribly impressed with yesterday's theme, so being impressed by its mirror wasn't really in the cards. (Yes, I get that the rhymes/homophones are all spelled differently, which is either a neat trick or an indictment of English's horrendously irregular spelling, depending on one's point of view. I just don't think it's enough to hang a theme off of.)

    Perhaps this could work if the clues, er, answers were zippy and lively. They weren't.

    Unlike yesterday, where I liked the puzzle while not being excited by the theme because the non-theme fill was pretty sharp, this one was just there. Wasn't much of anything that jumped out as noteworthy, while there was a healthy dose of crosswordese and blah (or is that ELAH?) fill.

    (Speaking of crosswordese: I could be happy never again seeing AMEBA. I know that in American English we've pretty much eliminated the "oe" digraph, but "amoeba" is one case where it's pretty much always used, even if we don't use the œ ligature. At the very least, in an early-week puzzle, it should arguably be clued as var., for the benefit of more novice solvers.)

    Ellen S 12:48 AM  

    @Questinia, in xword puzzles, words can be spelled how the constructor (and/or editor) want. I advise you to get used to it. I've screamed myself hoarse over the years, but somehow, my newspaper would just sit there.

    So, AMEBA (which I did notice, but only flinched a little) wasn't the worst of it. The theme, as per usual, I didn't get until reading @Rex's post. But so what, knowing the theme wouldn't help with the answers, which is what I usually want from a theme. But so what, again: except for not knowing how many are on a beach volleyball team without filling in a few crosses, I didn't need any help with the answers. I try not to be cranky about the puzzles, but honestly, this was as close to the "easy" puzzle in the in-flight magazine as I've seen since the last time I found myself with nothing to occupy me except the in-flight magazine.

    wreck 1:22 AM  

    There was a theme??

    Anonymous 1:27 AM  

    " in xword puzzles, words can be spelled how the constructor (and/or editor) want."

    Yeah, there are things on horrific things on this earth that exist only in crosswords. We should hope they never escape the box that holds them.

    Contrived Roman Numerals light my fuse; random letters for which the weakest possible case for their existence has to be accepted as good enough.

    I would like to see some construction conventions tossed out. You listening BEQ? Raise the bar, dude.

    jae 1:35 AM  

    Thought the theme was fine.  It's Tuesday after all.

    I agree with @Ellen S, this was an easy Tues. 

    STERS was definitely cringe worthy.

    Only erasure was AS pie to AS ABC.

    This seemed pretty light on proper names...four (not counting ERMA which should be a gimme) of which ELAH and LEONI (a more Tuesdayish clue would have been Spanglish) were the most obscure. 

    Not awful for a Tues., liked it better than Amy and Rex did.

    Anonymous 1:37 AM  

    " in xword puzzles, words can be spelled how the constructor (and/or editor) want."

    Sorry, but that info is complete BS.

    -MAS

    Charles in AUSTIN 3:48 AM  

    The theme was clever enough for me.

    Except for STERS, there are things in the crossword world that aggravate me far more than anything in today's puzzle. Like, as noted above, contrived Roman numerals. And compass directions, four-letter river names, and the two words OGLE and LEER.

    r.alphbunker 4:35 AM  

    Had to think outside the "box" to get the theme and that was fun. Going really outside the box and to another country. I found another personal pronoun in [Tu]esday.

    The best compass direction clue ever was in a recent Matt Gaffney puzzle. It was something like {Least common answer for a compass direction in xwords}. You should be able to make an intelligent guess at the answer without knowing any of the crosses!

    r.alphbunker 4:52 AM  

    A clue for COMPASSDIRECTION could be {We cannot be in the middle of it}

    Keith H 5:24 AM  

    I really enjoy this blog, and this is not meant in any way as a complaint, but I've found that several times I've read your comments, and the comments of posters here, and wondered how a given puzzle or region could have been done better.

    Is there any chance that you could either include suggested fixes or allow commenters to do the same? I think it would be a novel and valuable addition to this or any other crossword blog.

    Puzzle construction is fascinating and hard, and when I've hated a puzzle I've often tried to reconstruct the parts that I hate but never been able to do it well.

    There are a number of talented constructors here, including the author of course, and I'd be fascinated to see how they would fix problem areas.

    Too Old to Care 5:38 AM  

    LEICA is the camera. E. LEITZIS THE MAKER.

    Too Old to Care 5:41 AM  

    Correction

    LEICA is the camera.E. LEITZ is the maker.

    loren muse smith 6:03 AM  

    I couldn’t disagree more with some of you; to see the set of

    wii
    oui
    we
    whee
    wee

    was well worth the price of admission, and I'll take the definition that accompanies each clue. This is why puzzles DELIGHT me – they spotlight our language and show me phenomena I have never noticed. So danke, Herr Schoenholz. I loved this.

    Because I had “one” before ANY, I almost didn’t finish and couldn’t for the life of me see FRENCH FOR YES. The obvious Y finally lead the way.

    @jackj – the alphabet soup doesn’t end with ABC and CDE. We also have DEES, A ONE, X BOX, QED, MPS, and, well, A GEE!

    @Evan – I’m actually a bit embarrassed to say I recently watched a CONAIR rerun and enjoyed it. But the whole last part on the ground in Las Vegas was just too much, imho.

    Are there RAVENs in an AVIARY? I never visit those in zoos. You’ll find me in the Reptile House.

    @Keith H – there have been many times that commenters here suggest alternative areas. One example – on July 1, 2013, @Evan redid a corner.

    Thanks to Anoa Bob’s stories from yesterday – “emu” before ELK. Sheesh. Also “pie” before ABC – I knew you would do that, too, @jae.

    @Steve J – I liked that you used the word indictment in “which is either a neat trick or an indictment of English's horrendously irregular spelling.”

    This was scrabbly enough that I went back and made sure there was no Z or J.

    I remember reading a few years ago that some kind of famous person – Arianna Huffington maybe? – sent out engraved invitations that read “Your Invited.” When I’m in a hurry (which is USUAL), I can easily catch myself making the same mistake.

    Again – thanks, Dan, Will. Perfect Tuesday.

    mathguy 6:29 AM  

    It would have been more fun if the clues for 17A, 23A, 36A, 46A, and 58A were all the same: WE. Then after getting a couple of these entries, we could have had an little aha. Figuring out these acrosses wouldn't have been too hard because 36 out of the 76 clues were gimmes. The only clue that I enjoyed was "Org. for Wizards and Magic."

    Wes Davidson 6:42 AM  

    Agree with @LMS...and don't even have a problem with "sters."

    Michael Hanko 7:06 AM  

    And, Wes, with a change in pronunciation, your name could be the name of this puzzle.

    Susan McConnell 7:33 AM  

    Not my favorite. Never saw the theme :-/

    Mitzie 7:55 AM  

    I basically agree with @LMS. I get what the naysayers are saying, but this puzzle worked well for me. It actually played very much on the easy side, which to me means that the blah fill was at least fair.

    And really, a lot of people here prefer (demand?) blah, fair fill to sparkle buttressed by crap. Schoenholz/Shortz delivered that. The ideal, of course, would be 100% sparkle. Not always possible.

    dk 8:04 AM  

    so when everI see wee I think of the Japanese Utube where TWO young girls strapped a Wii around their respective hips and competed. The goal was to fill a bowl with some yellowish liquid without spraying any on the floor (as if that ever happens).

    Thus though out the solve I was chuckling. My chuckles were unrelated to the presenting event but when you are old people expect that.

    This puzzle was fine except for the oft panned STERS and the one celled animal who lacks a protopod and is often misspelled.

    ẀỀ ŴḚ (2 Latin wes) I would wee wee all the way home but you get arrested for that.

    Wes Davidson 8:18 AM  

    Most Brits say my name as "Wez" for some reason.

    Z 8:31 AM  

    Looking at OLeFeLES I knew something was amiss. Fixing LEONe was easy, but the singular CeE to the triplet CDE, especially with AS ABC already in the puzzle, took a few beats.

    "...losing its O through vacuolar exocytosis" made this Typical Tuesday worth it.

    joho 8:36 AM  

    I did this late and didn't get the theme until reading Rex's write-up which is unusual for me.

    I think what bothers me about this kind of theme is that because the clues are the answer and thereby the stronger part of the theme, the theme answers seem arbitrary and not really phrases that are in the language. This is not a flaw in the puzzle, it's just how this type of puzzle works.

    I like @Loren's sunny take on the fun of seeing all the different versions of "we." But CRYOFDELIGHT is the only theme answer I really love.

    I also wasn't crazy about ELAH either but all the crosses were easy and fair, no harm no foul.

    Truth is, the more I look at this the more I appreciate the concept!

    Imfromjersey 8:45 AM  

    A bit off topic, but there was a nice article about Erik Agard in today's Washington Post, which included a quote from @rex http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/shy-marylander-is-nations-top-teen-crossword-puzzle-solver/2013/09/02/4d330c2c-100c-11e3-bdf6-e4fc677d94a1_story.html

    Having met Erik a few times, he is pretty much exactly as described, very nice and unassuming. And a heck of a fast solver.

    jberg 9:06 AM  

    Yeah, some lame fill, and the CON AIR/LEONI crossing was just a lucky guess for me. But it was OK (after I gave up trying to fit "English for nous" in at 36A and saw what the theme actually was).

    Am I the only person who wanted a Jean Redpath related answer for 58A? (Sorry, I couldn't find it on YouTube, the link is just the lyrics.)

    Also -- is a bugle a HORN (27D)? I shouldn't have thought so.

    chefbea 9:28 AM  

    Put in French for yes right away without any letters and the rest was pretty easy.

    It did seem just like yesterday's. Never heard of the valley of Elah

    mac 9:30 AM  

    A quaint little puzzle.

    It always surprises me that the German Leica is with a C, not a K. @Ulrich?

    Lewis 9:30 AM  

    Though not a wow, not an ugh either. I enjoyed the solve. Would have liked STER more than STERS. Actually haven't thought about SHEA for a while, so happy for that reminder...

    Carola 9:34 AM  

    I thought the puzzle was a nice complement to yesterday's "A'S" puzzle, and enjoyed the "aha" of seeing that early on. However, phrases like PERSONAL PRONOUN and OLD FILES didn't exactly elicit a CRY OF DELIGHT. Maybe I was thinking of file drawers full of my grammar worksheets.

    @loren - I was so concerned about the EAGLE snared in the AVIARY that I didn't notice the RAVEN!

    @Rex - Same here on "whee."

    Steve J 10:16 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Steve J 10:22 AM  

    @mac: "Leica" gets a C rather than a K because it's an acronym of sorts: LEItz CAmera (the original company name was Ernst Leitz GmbH). Now, why they used the C spelling for "camera" rather than the German "Kamera", I can't say, nor can I find any info. Perhaps Leitz had early export ambitions.

    quilter1 10:30 AM  

    It was easy for me. Stuff I didn't know came with crosses and there wasn't much. But I have new bifocal glasses and kept reading imprudent for impudent which kept me guessing for a couple of minutes. Agree on the pronunciation of whee. Said that quite a bit with the grands this summer.

    Anonymous 10:31 AM  

    Come on! You had to get a kick out of wee and No. 2 in the same puzzle!

    MetaRex 10:34 AM  

    For those of us who didn't like today's theme: How about "Wheeze" as the reveal?

    Personally, I liked the "Monday's theme inside out" nature of today's puzz, as noted by Steve J...am fond of shout outs to recent puzzes, like yesterday's ONE SEC echoing Sunday's...yet another solving edge, fair or otherwise, that we in CrossWorld have over RealWorlders.

    My good mood about today's puzz perhaps has a little something to do with finishing only one second behind sanfranman59 and 15 seconds ahead of my better tushnet.

    Good to have Evan back from Portugal! Got the new semester blues myself...

    Sandy K 10:35 AM  

    I USUALly speed thru a Tues-puz, but this one had me saying "WHAT?" a few times.

    The theme was fine and FAIR, but I had to think twice for LEIkA or LEICA iRMA or ERMA? AS pie or AS ABC?
    The clue for 33A? Harry Potter or sports? And WHAT the heck is ELAH doing here on a Tues?

    Hand up for learning it was AMEoBA, not AMEBA, but with puzzles you never know. I just go with the flow.

    Nice catch @Carola- for EAGLE in the AVIARY!

    NYer 11:04 AM  

    Only writeover was EASYASpie, so not too hard for me.

    Kim 11:07 AM  

    Thank you, Rex, for the School House Rock video! You're showing our age, but that's how I learned The Preamble.

    Puzzle: DEE.

    Sandy K 11:14 AM  

    PS.

    Interesting comments today!

    Thanks @Steve J- for explanation of LEItz CAmera. Now I'll remember it's a C not a k, but will I know it's EI not ie?

    And to type slower so I don't leave out all my ??s

    Milford 11:35 AM  

    I liked this puzzle as sort of a complement to yesterday's, just having fun with the language. But then again, I don't pronounce the "h" in Whee!

    Bunch of similar writeovers: AS pie before ABC, CeE before CDE, legGY before RANGY. Also FRENCH yesses (a word?) before FOR YES.

    I thought the NBA clue was quite good.

    Weejector General 11:51 AM  

    Would swappin DEERS for STERS help anyone out? Either that, or please meet my old Russian dude friend, YOURI. Cuz no fair messin with those nice U's down there.

    Fun puz, Constructor Dan. Thanx.

    M&A

    Aviary Carte Miniatures 12:15 PM  

    I like how FRENCHFORYES sort of looks like FRENCHFRIES spelled crazily, but maybe I'm just hungry.

    Gotta agree with @rex and @joho that the downside of these sorts of puzzles is that the theme anwers seem somewhat arbitrary and not in the language enough, esp XBOXRIVAL.
    Tho i liked seeing XBOX????? And awaited a crazy Scrabbly theme.

    But five WEs is interesting, tho there definitely already a puzzle with the WII, etc in the puzzle. It was MICHELLEWII, OUIMONSIEUR, AREWETHEREYET, etc. I'll try and find it.
    So this was a reverse.

    For future constructors of early week puzzles, this is a good example how similar sounds (Ays of yesterday) are Monday fare, but this reversal of theme-in-the-clues is Tuesday fare.
    But caveat:
    This kind of theme is easily missed or even disliked as many have commented.

    Odd once again I didn't even see the most controversial word...ELAH ( which I'd not have known... Was that the one about the mormon wives who tried to escape?)
    But it goes to show the crossings were easy/ fair.

    Rob C 12:15 PM  

    Med Tues for me. I thought the theme was fine. Agree with @Steve J that it was yesterday's in reverse. What I didn't particularly care for was, like @Evan siad, the arbitrary nature of the phrase XBOX RIVAL. Way too contrived. The others were passable. Other than that, ok Tuesday.

    For 38D (scholarship criterion), I had NE_D for a second. NErD would have been funny there.

    "They aren't returned" for 61A ACES was nice.

    Liked the Schoolhouse Rock vid Rex posted. My 12yo daughter is involved with the community theater and last year they did a Schoolhouse Rocks performance. Turns out, Bob Dorough, one of the writers/directors of the original series of shorts from the early '70s lives in the area and brought his grandkids to the show. So I got to chat with him and get an autograph on the program. Neat!

    By the way, years ago, we bought the Schoolhouse Rocks series DVD. My daughter loved it and the lessons really sank in.

    Questinia 12:17 PM  

    Ameba Makeba singing Wiiwheeweoui Will Overcome. Someday, as a Protista song against Eukaryotsters.

    Anonymous 12:28 PM  

    Found it, Monday February 2, 2009 NYT
    Damon j GULCZYNSKI
    (a name to make my Scrabble heart aflutter)
    http://www.cruciverb.com/data.php?op=showpuzzle&puzzle_id=13487
    In the grid was:
    NINTENDOWII 11
    MAISOUI 7
    SHALLWE 7
    MICHELLEWIE 11

    Only 36 theme squares, but impressive that there were four phrases and they matched in length

    Acme 12:29 PM  

    Oops, that anon 12:28 was me

    John V 12:52 PM  

    Fun, easy, liked. Kept misreading 37d as, "....ACHIEVED" Hate when that happens.

    Carola 1:16 PM  

    @Sandy K - re: "...will I know it's EI not ie?" Yes! Since LEICA sounds like "like-uh" and not "leek-uh," it has the same "EI" sound as in "Einstein." The rule is that in German EI sounds like English long I and ie like English long E. It's the second letter in the pair that signals the English long vowel sound. So German Wein is our wine, while Wien is Vienna....and a Wiener somebody from there. Anyway, I think "Einstein" is a good mnemonic, because everybody knows how to spell it and how the EI sounds. And then you are one when you get the ei v. ie question right every time :)

    ANON B 1:30 PM  

    I never could understand why the
    dictionary pronunciation of "what"
    is "hwut". I have never heard it
    pronounced that way.

    Bird 1:32 PM  

    It’s rhyming week at the NYT! OK puzzle with decent theme answers and pretty good fill. Only nit is the clue at 63A does not indicate the suffix is plural so I paused at writing STERS(which is bad enough itself, but that’s already been covered). Needed to correct DEM to SEN and VEEP to ASST.

    retired_chemist 1:54 PM  

    @ Anon 12:28 - Damon J GULCZYNSKI used to post here. As I recall it is an anagram of the man's real name. I think he is/was a mathematician at U. of Md. but I don't see an appropriate name on the current Department faculty roster.

    @ Carola - For the same reason, I cringe whenever I hear it pronounced Anthony WEENER instead of WINER as Weiner should be pronounced. Actually, however it is pronounced he makes me cringe.....

    @ Questinia - keeping the O in AMOEBA is a losing battle. Dictionaries list both spellings and constructors seize upon that.

    Anonymous 2:34 PM  

    I found ELSES to be a bit sub-par.

    Ray J 2:37 PM  

    Fine by me, tho a bit heavy on the ees… LEEKS, NEED, DEES, RENEE, EERIE. @M&A, yer deers for STERS swap would give us RESEE. Yikes!

    LASE makes me wonder if the lays, laze, leis thing has been done yet. How many themers are required?

    wreck 3:07 PM  

    I guess my problem with this type of "theme" is that it does not help you with the solve. I thought the "theme" should give you a hint at the answers. This puzzle is reversed. - JMO

    Sandy K 3:20 PM  

    @Carola

    Thank you for that great explanation of the EI vs IE! Your students must've thought you were an Einstein of a teacher/professor?
    You're definitely my go-to person on the variety puzzles. : )

    Altho I do hesitate on the correct spelling, I am familiar with the pronunciation- since my father's greatest wish was to own a LEICA camera- and he did! And I knew it sounded like Laika- the Soviet space dog...

    As for Anthony Weiner, I had heard that he didn't want to sound like a 'whiner' so he preferred the Other pronunciation- which at this point, shouldn't be a big surprise to anyone!

    Not Bill Gates 4:05 PM  

    For 1/2 a second 23A looks like FRENCH FOUR EYES. I guess you clue it as geek from Paree?

    Steve J 4:07 PM  

    @retired_chemist: You're not alone at cringing at the "wee-ner" pronunciation of Anthony Weiner's name. You're exactly right it should be "wine-er"; I seem to recall ranting about this myself a few weeks back.

    @Anon B: The dictionary lists "hwut" as a pronunciation of "what" because, in many dialects, there's a distinct H sound at the front of that and other "wh" words. I'd have to look up where it's most common; I know it was uncommon in the area I grew up (Minneapolis suburbs).

    Sandy K 4:15 PM  

    @Carola- Both of my parents spoke German fluently, as well as Hungarian and Slovak. Me, not so much...

    Einstein Is a good pneumonic- I could've used it when I commented on LIEbfraumilch- now I don't have to google the spelling!

    Doesn't our constructor's name mean 'good/beautiful woods or forest'?

    @retired_chemist- agree- both make me cringe!

    sanfranman59 4:41 PM  

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

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

    Tue 7:39, 8:15, 0.93, 26%, Easy-Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Tue 4:46, 5:01, 0.95, 30%, Easy-Medium

    Masked and Anonymo4Us 5:47 PM  

    Hey, @Ray J. yep. RESEE kinda sucks. But are there not distinked levels of suckativity? RESEE is at least pretty much almost a real word. People (and 4-Oh) were actin like non-word STERS sucked the chrome off a trailer hitch.

    I've fought hard to come up with a redeemin clue for STERS. "Short steers?" "Headless asters?" "Sternless sterns?" A hard ride down a long, dry road, dude.

    Fave RESEE clue: "___ Witherspoon (Watch Clueless again)" Day-um... a really wacko constructor could build a whole puz theme out of that there kinda stuff...

    M&A

    retired_chemist 6:31 PM  

    @ Sandy K - beautiful wood. Forest is der Wald.

    Carola 6:49 PM  

    @Sandy K, @retired_chemist, @Steve J - After I posted above about getting the "ei" v. "ie" question right every time, it occured to me that I should have added a parenthetical "unless you're Anthony Weiner." Interesting to hear about his reason for the pronunciation! I've read that Leonard Bernstein reacted to "Bernsteen" by asking whether people would say Gertrude Steen or Eensteen.

    Speaking of the classroom....now that it's the beginning of the semester, I was actually "rehearsing" in my mind my first day of lit class, as if I were actually going to be teaching...that hasn't happened since I retired in 2010! I do miss the grappling of ideas with students.

    @retired_dhemist - Please forgive the teacher (or pedant) in me for adding that "Holz" can also mean "ein kleiner Wald" - a small woods.

    Dave 7:30 PM  

    Considered leggy and lanky for rangy. Slowed me a bit in the NE because I wanted "carte" across the top.

    "Ameba" was like fingernails on a chalkboard.

    ACME 7:36 PM  

    @Ret_chemist
    FWIW, Damon J Gulczynski is not an anagram, nor a pseudonym (the NYT does not allow them)
    He was a student at U of MD in engineering but graduated a while back.

    Ray J 8:25 PM  

    @M&A, I suppose STERS was clued as well as it could have been with “Suffix with road and hip.” Coulda been worse. Dare I say it? Suffix with mole. Breakfast test is for sissies.

    Whether STERS or RESEE, I think that corner was doomed to peg the suck-o-meter.

    Admirable clue for RESEE, sir.

    bigSteveSF 8:46 PM  

    I know Scott Rosenberg. We all hung out -- him and his room-mates -- in LA.
    I used to regale them with tales of my father as a private pilot.
    One they liked was the story about when my sister and mother were in a plane which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. My father was the pilot. Bader Field at Atlantic City. Made the front page of the local paper on a July 4th weekend.
    Everyone was OK, but the (rented) plane was a loss. Marty or "Crash", as we then called him, ran off the edge of the runway, and the plane tipped over as it hit the water.
    While my father waited for FAA and for plane to be towed out, he told my mother and sister to go the Boardwalk.
    They went to the taffy and T-shirt shops and to eat.
    At every store my mother told the sales people "I bet you wonder why my money is all wet." And told them the story. They comped her burger at a diner.
    Scott named the airport in Con Air after my father.
    I got the envelope/prop as a souvenir.

    bigSteveSF 8:48 PM  

    And ACMe has met the famous pilot !!
    He got a kick out of her.

    Anonymous 11:18 PM  

    Is anyone else experiencing Magmic losing their subscription tonight?

    August West 11:46 PM  

    @11:18: Yeah, I got that notice tonight, too. But, when I clicked the Subscriptions tab and entered my AppleID, as prompted, it did confirm that my subscription is valid for some months to come, and will auto-renew on the expiration date unless I change that option in settings. When I closed out of the Subscriptions page, I was able to access tonight's puzzle, albeit after Xing out a marketing come-on.

    sanfranman59 2:39 AM  

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

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

    Mon 6:06, 6:06, 1.00, 49%, Medium
    Tue 7:37, 8:15, 0.92, 25%, Easy-Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:44, 3:48, 0.98, 36%, Easy-Medium
    Tue 4:34, 5:01, 0.91, 15%, Easy

    DatingOnline 6:14 AM  

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    spacecraft 10:20 AM  

    Not a big fan of Jeopardy!-style themes, where the clues and answers change places. The idea was clever enough, though I agree that to set up any kind of challenge at all you'd have to title the piece "Wheeze" or some such, and just put dashes in the theme clues. It could have been saved with quality fill...but no.

    IMHO, Dan should have aborted this one and gone back to the drawing board. Where to start? ASABC is just awful. I'm guessing I would not be excited to receive the entire box office take for that film classic "In the Valley of ELAH." CDE, at least, is clued as something more than "B-F connection," which I loathe. And how can you clue ANTS with "Antenna users?" That's a flag, fifteen yards for having the answer in the clue. There's a gaggle of tired crosswordese-isms: ANON, SRA, AGEE, RAE, RESET, EERIE, ERST. And the awkward (because it can't be clued ANY other way) possessive ELSES.

    Also I agree with others about 50d: the addition of the word "maker" makes the clue just plain wrong. LEITZ is the maker; LEICA is the brand name, or, you can say, the camera. Grading this, I'd trot out one of my DEES; I'd even add a minus to keep PepperMINT Patty company.

    Solving in Seattle 3:18 PM  

    Do you suppose the Tamil girls sit around and do the NYT puzz between calls? Then shout "Whee!" when the phone rings?

    I was AGap before being AGOG. Terrible CLUE..

    I must have skipped the philosophy class on AGEISM.

    Do guys ever, ever use the term CAMEONTO? I think that's strictly a chick term.

    OK, enough piling on. Dan, I did get a kick out of your WIIouiwewheewee theme.

    Capcha: gazaow. Whee, in Mandarin?

    Dirigonzo 3:38 PM  

    Silly me, I went looking for the theme in the grid and there it was in the clues, hiding in plain sight the whole time! So no "Whee!" upon discovering the clue but overall I enjoyed doing the puzzle.

    Shout-out to @Waxy in Montreal at 1d, which makes me wonder where he's been lately - long time, no post here.

    @spacecraft - how in the world do you arrange for all those exotic women to introduce you every day?

    Waxy in Montreal 6:01 PM  

    @Diri, thanks for your concern. Actually, I did post here on Thursday & Friday last week on my return from the left coast but late at night each time - still on Pacific time, I guess. And shout-out or not, WHAT is EERIE is that my last entry into the grid was WAXY!

    Who would have thunk there would be so many crossword-worthy words than begin and end with X: XBOX, XEROX, XANAX, XY-MATRIX(?),...

    Solving in Seattle 6:55 PM  

    @Waxy, how was the drive from Vancouver to Salem?

    Waxy in Montreal 7:48 PM  

    @SiS, other than a traffic tie-up in Portland during rush-hour (go figure), no problemo. (Of course, the fact I was a passenger in the back seat of a pickup truck both ways made the driving really easy.) And kudos to your Washington I-5 rest stop volunteers who provide free coffee to travelers - great service. BTW, enjoyed a brief visit to the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, especially since I live in the Montreal suburb of the same name.

    Solving in Seattle 8:57 PM  

    @Waxy, too funny! I actually live in Kirkland. Would have been nice to meet.

    Waxy in Montreal 9:15 PM  

    @Sis, So syndi-synchronicity strikes once again! Maybe next time...

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