Staunton of Harry Potter movies / WED 9-25-13 / Sayers portrayed in Brian's Song / Selena's music style / Early IBM PC standard / Puzzle inventor Rubik / Coastal backflows / directive repeated in aerobics class

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Constructor: Victor Fleming and Bonnie L. Gentry

Relative difficulty: Easy



THEME: LINE (58D: Word that can follow each part of the answers to the six starred clues) — just what the clue says

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *Deep trouble, informally (HOT WATER)
  • 65A: *Felon's sentence, maybe (HARD TIME)
  • 3D: *Low-lying acreage (BOTTOM LAND)
  • 34D: *Fruity loaf (DATE BREAD)
  • 9D: *Deep-sea diver's concern (AIR SUPPLY)
  • 30D: *Campus transportation, maybe (BUS SERVICE)


Word of the Day: EREBUS (7D: God of darkness) —
In Greek mythologyErebus /ˈɛrəbəs/, also Erebos (GreekἜρεβος, "deep darkness, shadow"), was often conceived as aprimordial deity, representing the personification of darkness; for instance, Hesiod's Theogony places him as one of the first five beings to come into existence, born from Chaos. Erebus features little in Greek mythological tradition and literature, but is said to have fathered several other deities with Nyx; depending on the source of the mythology, this union includesAetherHemera, the HesperidesHypnos, the MoiraiGerasStyxCharon, and Thanatos.
In Greek literature the name Erebus is also used to refer to a region of the Greek underworld where the dead had to pass immediately after dying, and is sometimes used interchangeably with Tartarus. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hey, I found Tuesday's puzzle. Two minutes faster today than yesterday. That is, for me, a massive statistical anomaly. Despite a bunch of answers that struck me as potentially tough (e.g. IMELDA, EREBUS), this one came in well under my Wednesday average. Open corners (fed by interlocking theme answers) should've made this one tougher, but I guess the cluing was just too transparent. Having your first Down be a massive gimme like 1D: Frome and others (ETHANS) sets the solver up with the first letters of All the Acrosses in the NW, right off the bat. I had some trouble seeing EBB TIDES and I wanted THE COPS (too short) and THE POLICE (too long) before eventually hitting on TROOPERS (just right). There wasn't much else that slowed me down as I moved in a pretty regular clockwise motion right around the grid, finishing up with EXUDED in the SW (69A: Radiated, as charm).


As for the theme, I kind of wish constructors would stop making these. This is an ancient theme type that rarely yields very good / interesting results in the theme answers. Today's theme answers are mostly adequate; BOTTOM LAND is not a phrase I know at all, but the others are tight enough. Just not very ... interesting. A puzzle like this may as well be a themeless for all the thematic pleasure it gives. I got to LINE near the very end, having (at that point) no idea what was tying any of this together. LINE was jarring anticlimactic. Oh. LINE. OK. You can make puzzles with this type of theme using any number of different words (and many, many constructors have). BOY. You could probably do BOY. I don't know. All I know is that the theme-type has been Done To Death. Results are not terrible. But not inspired either. Another day another puzzle. This one at least has an interesting theme answer layout. I do appreciate that.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

72 comments:

Anonymous 12:07 AM  

Best fill I've seen in the NYT in months. This really should be the benchmark for future puzzles.

I really liked this one. 38A, great clue!

jae 12:09 AM  

This was a reasonably acceptable Wed.  for me. A tad too easy perhaps,  but mostly fine. Not too much junk (TABOOED stands out however along with RECOOK) and a solid if familiar theme.  My problem is pretty much the same as Rex's --  it was really boring. Yesterday's evoked memories of a film classic, this one was just a zipless time killer.  So, meh.

WOE: EREBUS

Erasure: SLush for SLEET

NYer 12:19 AM  

Finished this faster than Ted Cruz' filibuster. Oh, he's still at it...

Steve J 12:21 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 12:26 AM  

To Steve J:
Hated is an anagram of death. I thought that was a pretty clever clue.

mathguy 12:26 AM  

19 gimmes made the going pretty smooth until I came to "Hated to death, say?" I thought that "Some are personal" was IDS leaving me with INAGRAM which made no sense. It took me a while to see it was ADS and ANAGRAM. Like Rex, I didn't care for the theme much and I finished the puzzle before getting the key, LINE.

The clue for ANAGRAM was pretty neat.

Steve J 12:27 AM  

Definitely played like a Tuesday for me, too, finishing just above my average Tuesday time. Cluing felt pretty easy across the board, and the chunkier fill was easily gettable off of the crosses.

Theme was fine in that there was nothing clunky - something that seems hard to come by lately - but I'm also not hugely excited by this kind of theme. But I'll take ok theme competently done any day compared to all but one or two of the alternatives (and I recognize great themes excellently done, or even competently done, are just not going to happen every day).

So wanted 2D's answer to be A MOVE.

So wanted TABOOED to never be allowed near any puzzle ever.

To me, cooking is not simply applying heat, so RECOOK fell flat. Especially since, at least in my experience, everyone says they reheat leftovers. The cooking's already done; you don't need to cook more.

That said, if that's all the bad fill on a given day, it's not a bad day. (My bigger nits were with some of the bog-standard cluing, like for 37A and 43A.)

Finally, I'm having a bit of a dull moment: I don't get 38A. Can someone please flick on the lightbulb hanging above my head?

Steve J 12:28 AM  

@Anon 12.26: Thank you. I knew I was just being dense. It is a good clue. (And apologies for my deleting my original post to edit something ends up creating apparent out-of-sequence posts.)

Evan 12:31 AM  

I generally like the concept behind themes like this, simply because it's tough to come up with enough solid phrases that fit the bill and fit symmetrically -- though I guess as Rex points out, the downside is that the actual word that does the preceding/following usually isn't that exciting. I think if you had a puzzle where a word could precede and follow each of two words in familiar phrases, that would be spectacular (and I imagine extremely difficult to pull off).

BOTTOMLAND is a little weird to me, but I think the rest are fine (I sorta wish AIR SUPPLY had been clued as the band, even though I'm not really into their music). I absolutely love the clue for ANAGRAM.

Didn't care so much for ETHANS (plural names, eh), RECOOK, TABOOED, and wondered what on earth EREBUS is (not very Wednesday-friendly), but I think this grid is otherwise pretty clean.

**************************

Happy 7th birthday to Rex's blog! Here's to many, many more. You're exactly 23 years younger than I -- yeah, I did the math and it checks out. I guess that makes me 30 today.

Now's as good a time as any to announce it: My name on the NYT puzzle -- it's happening pretty soon. I can't ask for a better birthday present than that!

Benko 1:05 AM  

I just thought to myself...there has to be a death metal/black metal band named EREBUS. Turns out there are several.

Anoa Bob 1:52 AM  

When I was growing up in Tennessee everybody knew that BOTTOM LAND was a good place to plant crops. The run-off of rain water would not only bring nutrient-rich top soil down to the lower lying area but also would increase the moisture level of the soil to make it more drought resistant.

chefwen 2:05 AM  

Recook??? The only time you recook something is when you mess it up the first time and have to start all over.

I was going to agree with the consensus that it was a little bland, but looking over the finished product, I did quite like it. (Other that RECOOK) Loved 38A.

chefwen 2:09 AM  

@Evan - Looking forward to you puzzle. Congratulations and Happy Birthday!!!

chefwen 3:03 AM  

I think YOUR puzzle would be correct!

dk 6:27 AM  

The crossing of ATEUP and SUPS made my morning. I had estuary for 1A as that is correct and EBBTIDES is not. Spent much time in Eastport Maine and on the BAy of Fundy so I know my back water. Also had Tidal Basin for 3D as opposed to BOTTOMLAND.

In sum several do overs in the NW.

This one barely cleared the Wednesday bar IMHO. It was cute in the you are taking your cousin to the prom kinda way.

���� (2 Stars) Thanks Victor (aka Clyde) and Bonnie.

Rob C 7:47 AM  

Easy Wed. Open corners allow for interesting medium length fill. Clue for 38A was pure brilliance. Mini bus theme with EREBUS BUS SERVICE. Liked the crossings of SECRET ASSAIL SMEAR heading into election season.

I've always liked themes like this. They're very straightforward, but I don't necessarily equate that with boring. And as a result, they're easy to grasp for newbies - perfect early week theme. I remember being very impressed with this type of theme when I first began solving. To me, these types are like the simple foundation that more intricate themes are built on. No doubt, some have moved on from appreciating simple yet solid themes like this - just a matter of taste.

Mohair Sam 7:52 AM  

Agree with @Rex, this was a Tuesday for sure. Had to fill EREBUS and IMELDA, but neither was difficult. Loved the "hated to death" clue, had AGRAM filled before the aha moment - good stuff.

Surprised that Rex lives up in the sticks and hasn't heard the term BOTTOMLAND. Very common term among farmers. Usually the richest soil, and wettest part of a farm or area.

Nakitab 7:53 AM  

Testing to see if os7 update will allow me to post

jberg 8:08 AM  

I'm with @Anoa Bob, BOTTOM LAND is well known if you grew up anywhere near a farm. I'm always kinda amazed how people have done so. As for EBB TIDEs, the clue specifies the flow -- which an ebb tide is. Backwaters are the result of the flow (or something), not the flow itself.

I made the same iDS/iNAGRAM mistake, only I didn't notice it (I mean I did, but I was sure of IDS, so I left it there), so finished with an error. Drat!

EREBUS is a mountain in Antartica - I thought it was the highest, but Wikipedia says Mt. Sidley is higher. So it could have been in there Sunday.

I never heard of AERIE for any bird but an eagle, but apparently it's the location that matters, so that's OK.

@Evan, I'm looking forward to your puzzle!

joho 8:20 AM  

I'm fascinated about how puzzles are constructed and appreciate the crosses at BOTTOMLAND/HOTWATER and BUSSERVICE/HARDTIME creating a lot of theme in a little amount of space. Add them to DATEBREAD and AIRSUPPLY, throw in a reveal with LINE and you've got a great early week puzzle.

Definitely easy. My only writeover was EREBoS before EREBUS.

I so wanted RECOOK to be warmup.

I liked it, thanks, Victor & Bonnie!

Milford 8:24 AM  

Speedy Wednesday, didn't really use the theme at all. I do like the word play of these types of puzzles, but they rarely help with the solve.

Liked INTERCOM, RUPTURE, and AS A RULE. The ANAGRAM clue was indeed very clever.

We have a fantastic haunted house that runs in the fall in Pontiac called EREBUS - so the word was at least familiar to me.

Agree that RECOOK is not correct - cooking is a one-time process, and then you are only reheating, or over-cooking.

@Evan - Happy Birthday and congrats!

Susan McConnell 8:35 AM  

Happy birthday, Evan.

Puzzle was a typical Wednesday. Other than the great ANAGRAM clue, not much stands out.

loren muse smith 8:43 AM  

Pretty easy here, too. Like Rex, I immediately filled in ETHANS, but that was it for a while there in the northwest. I jumped over and put in "usually" and "reheat" for AS A RULE and RECOOK. I guess that is a problem with leftovers – the time in the microwave does often RECOOK them rather than just reheat them. I remember growing up (pre-microwave era) that on Leftover Day, Mom got out all the meats in the morning to bring them to room temperature by SUPper time. She never reheated them lest they COOK further. Somewhere along the line in her family, someone had TABOOED RECOOKing meat for leftovers. Speaking of her family, her mom and sister always made some mean DATE Bars at Christmas. They were always quickly ATE UP.

"Gets ready to use an appliance" – PLUGS IN. Yep. If my mother-in-law has been visiting, I usually have to plug all the appliances in again after she leaves.

@dk – agreed – SUPS/ATEUP is a great cross.

I echo the admiration for the clue for ANAGRAM. FWIW, HARD TIME ANAGRAMs to "armed hit." BOTTOM LAND ANAGRAMs to "land bottom." Just sayin'.

@Anoa Bob, @jberg,@Evan, @Mohair Sam -To get to our farm from civilization, you have to drive quite a while on, uh, ahem, Country Roads. Invariably as we pass this one pretty spot, my husband says, "What a nice BOTTOM." (Never BOTTOM LAND. That was a first for me, too, and I grew up in Tennessee.) I *always* tell him he *always* says that and then immediately feel all snarky and think about that TV commercial where the wife snipes to her husband, "You just said 'I eat France.'"

I agree with @Evan and @Rob C – themes like this one, albeit workmanlike, please me because it must be really hard to come up with phrases that work. Funny, just the other day I watched the end of that cinematic treasure, Drumline, and was vaguely kicking around this very theme with both drum and LINE. I didn't get anywhere, eventually forgot what I was thinking about, and went and unplugged all my appliances.

@Evan – somehow I remember a puzzle where the word could precede and follow each of the words. . .?

Hey, Judge Vic – I'm always happy to read more into the grid than you probably meant: RULE, HARD TIME, SUES, HOT WATER, PEN, TROOPERS, (and if you squint your eyes and try really hard, DETER, BIO, EARN, DOSSIERS, and SERVICE).

Bonnie, Vic – thanks for the puzzle and may your GALEs never involve SLEET.

Z 9:10 AM  

Fastest time of the week despite having to fix REheat and uSualLy in the NE, so definitely more of a Tuesday.

Grew up in semi-rural West Michigan, where glaciers, not mountains, were the main instrument of land formation. No BOTTOM LANDS here. No TROOPERS here, either. We have sheriffs and State Police. Nevertheless, breezed THRU with only the one hitch.

I did find it oddly appropriate that the AIR SUPPLY video was playing above the WOD, EREBUS.

@Evan- Congrats on both making another circuit around the sun and getting published. Publish or Perish, right?

chefbea 9:40 AM  

Fun yummy puzzle. Agree with our other @chef...you reheat leftovers. Lots of food related words...Tbsp, ate up, sups, preheat, recook, date bread.

Loved ANAGRAM. but Tejano...never heard that word . thought it might be WOD

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

If you have ever seen the movie "Sergeant York" with Gary Cooper, you will know what bottom land is, the first act of the movie is almost entirely about it.

A nice easy puzzle like this is always good to boost one's confidence going into the latter part of the week

retired_chemist 10:09 AM  

BOTTOM LAND has been described to death so I won't. What Anoa Bob said. Deb Amlen also drew a blank on it, Too, a while ago we had a similar discussion about the same answer. Xword Info has that as Dec. 15, 2011 (Jim Hilger).

Liked the puzzle. RECOOK is ugly but not much else. ANAGRAM made up for it. 41A was TURNS ON to start. Considered SEINE, LOIRE,and RHONE for 26A but 1-2-3D gave me SOM__, so there it was.

EREBUS I knew, IMELDA I didn't. Ignored it, forgot it, got it all bu crosses, then noted the answer. Still forgetting I had ever seen the clue,I thought it has to do with Ms. Marcos and never looked at it again until Rex commented on it. Now I agree it is pretty obscure, at least to me.

Thanks,Mr.Fleming and Ms.Gentry.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Easier than yesterday.

Will anyone be posting the solution to Sunday's and an explanation of how you could read it in Braillr?

Rexite Emeritus 10:15 AM  

Do you "recarve" a turkey before or after you "recook" it?

(Old timers should appreciate the question)

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

I. E. Braille.

gifcan 10:16 AM  

Loved the clue for ANAGRAM.

Was a little put off by TABOOED and RECOOK. Why is it campus transportation? Isn't BUS SERVICE a fairly general term?

My new word is TEJANO. I am more familiar with Tex-Mex as the name for the style. TEJANO is a lovely term but I'll have to look up the origin.

Two Ponies 10:46 AM  

@ Rex, I was doing a Simon and Schuster puzzle book yesterday and came across this clue
Puzzle blogger Parker.
The book was published in 2009.
Did you know about that?

Way to go Evan!
@ Rexite, Yeah, I get the joke. Good one.

Questinia 10:55 AM  

BOTTOMLAND trees turn colors earlier and BOTTOMLAND biota are moisture loving and lush.

I read Frome as Fromm so had Erich briefly, although I love the story of the sledding ETHAN heading toward the BOTTOMLAND.

"Jarringly anticlimactic" @Rex, is the perfect description of the dysphoric pang I felt when LINE was the the unifier.

@ jae also SLush ere SLEET
agree with @ dk re estuaries vs EBBTIDE.
RECOOK only if you don't know how to cook.
@ Steve J, TABOOED is thus far this week's RETABS.
@ lms, your vignettes are so evocative. I will never look at a Rolex the same again. I might even sneer a little.

Happy B-Day and congrats to @ Evan. What a great present!



Twangster 10:59 AM  

One of Lyle Lovett's best songs is "Walk Through the Bottomland," featuring Emmylou Harris on harmony vocals:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvN29Xv_a-Q

r.alphbunker 11:01 AM  

This kind of theme is okay with me. I like the way that the revealer brings together seemingly unrelated answers.

Here is an algorithm for easily creating some puzzles of this genre.
1. Search xwordinfo for puzzles with answer NOT
2. Clue NOT as {What needs to be put in front of the starred answers}
3. Scan the other answers in the puzzle for words that can be negated.
4. Write clues for those answers that describe the negation of the answer. For example, if the answer is HONORED, clue is as {* Disgraced}
5. Add your name after that of the actual constructor.
6. Send puzzle to NYT and see what happens.

PS
EEL could be clued as {Ellen's favorite answer}

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Mistake (I say) in the puzzle today. "Early I.B.M. PC standard." Their untutored answer: MSDOS. Sure, MSDOS will work on a PC, even an IBM PC, but IBM's standard for the PC was PC/DOS. MS/DOS was a competitor, a copy of IBM's Disc Operating System by Microsoft to be used on IBM PC's and clones. It eventually supplanted the now forgotten original from IBM: PC/DOS. They'd be okay if they had said "early standard for IBM PC's." But not "IBM...standard." Quibbling with literalness, of course, but that's right in their wheelhouse. That's what defines their puzzles. They should get the clues and answers exactly right. Didn't do their homework, and, most likely, never owned an original real IBM back in the day or they'd know. (No wonder, only early adopters did 30 years ago and at $5,870 in today's dollars, it was pricey and could be bought only directly from IBM.)

Steve J 11:24 AM  

@Evan: Congrats on another year and an NYT byline. Looking forward to the puzzle.

@Questinia: Love the comparison to RETABS. Tougher to riff off a song with TABOOED, though. Mildly amusing that this week's best clue/answer combo (38A - I understated the quality once I had it pointed out to me; it's a great clue) and worst single item of fill come from the same puzzle.

Ray J 11:26 AM  

I always cringe a bit when I see Judge Vic’s name on a puzzle. I must have a guilty conscience because I worry that he’ll throw the book at me. Actually, I think he stumped me once with some legalese.

Anyway, I mostly enjoyed this one except for a few oddballs that others have mentioned. Definitely on the easy side for Wednesday.

Happy B’day, Evan and Rex’s blog!

Off topic – Team Oracle USA has tied the KIWIs in the America’s Cup after being down 8 to 1 in the best-of-17 competition. Winner takes all today at 4:15 PM eastern time (unless the wind is blowing too hard in SF Bay). I know it’s kind of a billionaire boy’s club thing; and that the US team has an Aussie skipper and a British tactician, but it’s all about cool boats.

Carola 11:32 AM  

I'm in the "like" column for this sort of theme - impressed that the constructors could come up with 12 LINEs that could be made into 6 common 2-word phrases and then fit them so nicely into the grid. Pleasing. I think DATE and AIR are the only ones that have a different meaning in their two uses. Or maybe HOT, too.

Here's Frank Sinantra's "Ebb Tide."

Notsofast 11:38 AM  

TABOOED and RECOOK killed an otherwise okay puzzle.

Paul Keller 11:45 AM  

Agree with Rex that the crossworld would be a better place if these types of themes were never used again. Who would bother to actually use the theme here in the sense of thinking about different types of lines to help suss out an answer? If nobody would, that why is it here in this puzzle? Should we be oohing and aahing at the constructors' cleverness?

Disagree that 1D was a gimmee. My brain came up with ERICAS, then ESTUARYS. I noticed the spelling was probably wrong and that ANUBIS didn't fit . . . In the NE, I started with REHEAT and USUALLY. In other word, I found ways to make it not so easy.

quilter1 11:47 AM  

BOTTOMLAND was a gimme. Enjoyed the clue for ANAGRAM. I had REheat and aManDa before IMELDA. But overall a good puzzle, fun to do and agree that it was easy.
Congrats, @Evan. Great accomplishment and b-day present.

Masked and Anonymo007Us 11:52 AM  

Only 31 black blocks. Cute, almost themeless-lookin, grid layout. Cute, almost themeless-lookin, theme. Nice little mess of U's.

And the coop-de-gracie, TABOOED. thUmbsUp, for the sublime desperation of convertin an unsuspectin noun to a verb on the fly, alone. Someday, when M&A makes the big leagues, he's gonna use QEDED in all his puzs, as a sorta trademark. Or birthmark. Or scar. Or somethin.

Happy B-day to the @Evan-meister. I have shirts older than U. My fave one has a logo written on it: "I am a professional. Do not try this at home". snarf. But I digress. Mucho Congrats on the puz, too -- unless it has TABOOED or PEWIT in it.

Happy 007th B-day to this blog. 007. The number of U's in this here puz. The number of Sharp puzs in the NYT. The age of M&A's newest shirt. Has a logo on it: But I Digress.

Agent 007-U will return, in "Dr. ERNO"...

M&A

Lewis 12:08 PM  

REheat before RECOOK and I think it's the better answer. TABOOED -- no thank you, ever. The theme didn't help my solve; just something to appreciate after. A minimum of grid gruel, amen.

One person's time killer is another's time enricher. For me, this was the latter. Not a slog at all.

Evan 12:23 PM  

Thanks, all.

@Anonymous 10:12:

The solution to the Sunday puzzle is here.

Rob C 12:49 PM  

On the xwordinfo site, none other than W Shortz himself says:

" "Word before" and "word after" sorts of themes have become overdone, I think." I don't care, they're still ok by me.

PS - Jeff Chen has done a great job with that site. If you don't already, you may want to consider visiting it.

PPS - congrats on all counts Evan

Rob C 12:56 PM  

One more thing. On the xwordinfo site, Mike Selinker, the constructor of Sunday's Braille crossword mentions a neat email he received from a 'Lewis'. I was wondering is that our @Lewis?

LaneB 1:10 PM  

Did Will get his weekdays mixed up? Today's was so much easier than either Monday's or yesterday's. Still satisfying to go quickly thrOugh it and get on with my day. Thank you, Fleming and Gentry!

chefbea 1:45 PM  

@Evan and @Rex's blog Happy birthday!!! I'll send you each a cake.

Tom Atta 1:50 PM  

PLAY DOUGH
LOWDOWN
HOMESCHOOL
BEACH BALL
COWBELL
NEWSPAPER (I can already hear the boos)

jae 2:16 PM  

OK - In the temperate light of day "time killer" was a bit harsh. Truth is solving puzzles (even boring ones) is at the top of my list of stuff I'd rather be doing (I even have a book of very tough puzzles in my car to work on during long lights). But, this was way too easy for a Wed. and did not have much zip...TEJANO maybe, which we discussed in detail a while back. Now maybe if 24a had been clued "Cough diagnosis"...

ahimsa 2:23 PM  

Impressive puzzle! Kudos to Victor Fleming and Bonnie L. Gentry!

I didn't like TABOOED at first but it grew on me. And the other blah fill (RECOOK, ETHANS) was worth it for the theme density.

Did anyone else have a typo in the clue for 41 Across, “Gets ready to use, an an appliance”? Shouldn’t that be as an?

ANON B 2:39 PM  

The nit pickers are at it as usual.
When I saw the definition at 18A
and had the first two letters., I
immediately thought cook or heat.
I have used both and so have others
without considering whether is
a technical difference.
The constructors had recook in
place and had to think of a clue.
No crime was committed.

Anonymous 3:35 PM  

@Anonymous at 11:23 got it exactly backwards. In the 1970s a very young Bill Gates wrote an operating system, MS-DOS, to run on the home computers of the day. (They were called microcomputers back then.) When IBM came out with the PC in the early 80s, they licensed MS-DOS from Microsoft (Gates) and re-branded it as PC-DOS.

Anonymous 3:40 PM  

Thanks @ Evan for the lead to the Sunday solution and Happy birthday. Look forward to your puzzle.

mac 4:26 PM  

Everything has been said already. It was a good Wednesday puzzle to me.

Rex has been doing this for 7 years! That's incredible. Still love coming here every day. I'm sending him a birthday present.

I didn't know the term bottom land, but we did just decide to plant some trees that don't mind damp feed at the bottom of our property. Lost a huge tree on the higher part, right in front of the house, so sad.

mac 4:30 PM  

@Evan: congratulations, happy birthday and see you Friday.

sanfranman59 4:47 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)

Wed 9:03, 9:44, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:41, 5:36, 1.01, 57%, Medium

Unknown 4:56 PM  

Thanks for the nice comments! I love to recook things, even when someone has tabooed it. A few clunkers are the price one pays for six theme answers, with two pairs crossing, plus a reveal-twist that brings 12 additional theme units into play. Judge Vic

sanfranman59 10:05 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 no data
Tue 8:22, 8:12, 1.02, 59%, Medium
Wed 9:01, 9:44, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon no data
Tue 5:29, 5:09, 1.06, 66%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:20, 5:34, 0.96, 39%, Easy-Medium

Anon Too Late 10:48 PM  

anon 335 didnt correct anon 1123 correctly. gates did not write msdos, he copied (or "bought") it. i remember pcdos and i dont strongly disagree with the clue, even though i winced a bit. if OFFER is the same as BID (which i do not stipulate), then pcdos=msdos. at least we can say that the NYT is consistent in its inconsistent treatment of the quantitative world - both here and on the editorial page.

ANON B 10:55 PM  

Online dictionary

cook:to subject (anything) to treatment with heat

spacecraft 11:24 AM  

How about "After the auditors left, he had to RECOOK the books." Just sayin. TABOOED is another story. Yeah, it's a verb; I looked it up. Who knew? I sure didn't.

For an interesting take on BOTTOMLAND, read Toni Morrison's "Sula." A rose by any other name...

Don't we speak a fascinating language? Hot line, water line, HOTWATER. And there's enough of these to make a puzzle theme, which means sets of entries with the same number of letters. OFL is somehow tired of this; I think it's amazing.

SSR, TBSP, NTSB...Hey Pat, can I buy a vowel? I'm a little more ENAMORed of the theme achievement than OFL--and less so of the fill. I did enjoy one bit: for so long relegated to the clue section, JAI finally has its day in court--or, fronton, to be precise.

Captcha = sixcuml: wotta night!

Ginger 1:41 PM  

My solving is not time-sensitive. I prefer to savor it, like fine wine, to enjoy the experience. I often delay an entry, until I've 'confirmed it' with a cross or two. Fewer write-overs that way, which is good since I use the pen and dead-tree method.

Love the clue for LITTERS, and the mental picture it brings. Wanted TEJANa, (Selena was female), but DaSSIERS wouldn't fly.

DMG 2:18 PM  

Pretty straight forward puzzle. Had to replace REheat and IMHomE, and needed the crosses for EREBUS and IMELDA, but aside from wincing at TABOOED, that was it. Seems like the Blogworld had much the same experience. More fun with the Captcha which I'll try not to take too personally: endlosit.

Solving in Seattle 3:01 PM  

Read this comment with a German accent: "Vee half a DOSSIER on you und you vill do HARDTIME."

Someone should do a rebus xwdpuzz about the god of darkness.

Loved TABOOED. Especially with Halloween tomorrow. taBOOOOOed. Scary, huh?

@Spacy, also loved your post. Too much weekend pill?

Capcha: obasink. New nickname for the Afforable Health Care Act?

Dirigonzo 3:14 PM  

I usually (ASARULE) fill in the grid free word association style, plugging in the first word elicited by the clue (if it first, of course) so no write-overs is a rarity for me. Today I must have mind-melded with the constructors because my completed grid is pristine. JAI-ALOU could be the name of a knew sport - I guess it would be pronounced "Hi, Lew!"?

@spacecraft - remember, if it lasts more than 4 hours seek immediate medical help.

DMG 4:45 PM  

@sis: love your Captcha. Let's hope it's not prophetic !

DMG

Actually my new one has possibilities: datednay. These things open up a lot of fun ideas, tho I am too shy to comment on @spacecraft's!

Ginger 6:18 PM  

@DMG - We don't need to, @Diri did it for us.....and a good job of it too!

Dirigonzo 6:40 PM  

@ginger & @DMG - when rude, crude and/or obnoxious (which coincidentally are the nicknames I have given my 3 dogs, in no particular order) is called for you can count on me to say out loud what others were probably thinking. But I should point out that @SiS fired the first volley (credit where credit is due, after all).

Solving in Seattle 6:53 PM  

Whoa, whoa, whoa, @Diri, not so fast. The string of slightly blue (pun intended) comments started with our honorable NY friend, @Spacecraft.

BTW, like your dogs' names.

@Ginger & @DMG, let us know if we're crossing any lines here.

Dirigonzo 8:04 PM  

@SiS - yes it was @spacecraft who opened the door but I wanted to give you credit as the first one to walk in. But upon further reflection, and another few sips of bourbon, I realized I had not given your comment sufficient props - not only was it elegant in its understatement but it incorporated a discussion from an earlier puzzle where the answer was, I believe, CIALIS. That kind of subtlety is what sets your comments apart from the RC&O stuff that I am likely to post. As to the dogs' names, I was being literal as that pretty much describes them "to a tee" (as we sometimes see in the grid).

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