2004 film featuring Dustin Hoffman / TUE 10-22-13 / He-Man's sister / Instruction to play with bow / Old draft category for civilian workers / Allies of Trojans in Iliad

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Constructor: Kevan Choset

Relative difficulty: Medium for me, apparently harder for others...


THEME: MIDDLE EARTH (59A: "The Lord of the Rings" setting ... or a feature of 17-, 24-, 38- and 49-Across) — the letter string "EARTH" is embedded inside four theme answers:

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Overcome an unpleasant misunderstanding (CLEAR THE AIR)
  • 24A: Left-brain activity (LINEAR THINKING)
  • 38A: 2004 film featuring Dustin Hoffman ("I HEART HUCKABEES")
  • 49A: Reason to see a rheumatologist (ACUTE ARTHRITIS)

Word of the Day: HALAL (2D: Special-request flight meal option) —
Ḥalāl (Arabicحلال‎ ḥalāl, 'permissible') is any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law. The term covers and designates not only food and drink as permissible according to Islamic law, but also all matters of daily life. The opposite of this word is haraam. (wikipedia)
• • •

[This theme has been done before, relatively recently, in the L.A. Times. See that puzzle here.]

Tore through this one pretty easily, but the times being posted at the NYT site are definitely running high. I tied or beat people who are much better solvers than I, so I must've just had this puzzle's number. Lucky day. I do like the revealer on this one. The theme answers themselves seem fine. Reasonably tight. I think there are probably a lot of people who are not familiar with the film "I HEART HUCKABEES"—maybe that's part of the reason times are running slow. I never saw the film, but I'd heard of it, and had most of the middle crosses before I ever looked at the clue. Even though it wasn't the most popular film ever made, I think it's a reasonable Tuesday theme answer. But the fill—it's somewhat less reasonable. Or less pretty, anyway. Lots of rather icky stuff. DLI OID in the NW, ESA IN REM in the SW, and then, all over the place, INI ARR ANY TWOA STPAT SHA ENTR ISOK ARCO VSO OTERI CTA ... that's a lot of sub-optimal fill. Three of the four long Downs are quite good (I'll let you guess which one I didn't care for), but overall, too much short junk.


That's all I've got to say about this one. Talk to you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

74 comments:

jae 12:05 AM  

First, I thought this puzzle was fine.  Clever theme, nice reveal, fairly smooth grid, a bit of zip..DOO HICKEY, SHE RA, KEV, SKA, BEHAR, CORONA (great beer for sitting on a beach in Mexico munching on abalone tacos)... Liked it.

That said, this was a Wed. at best and more likely a Thurs.  The NW corner alone is all later week stuff with the exception of RATER. And, I HEART THE HUCKABEES is a pretty obscure movie.  I mean total box office was 20M and the thing cost 22M to make.  Not to mention ACUTE is not the first word that comes to mind when talking about ARTHRITIS. 

Knew the name for baked eggs, just not how to spell it.

Went through Olsen (yes, I know it's Ashley) and quEEN before TUDOR.

Tough Tues.! (for me).

MaharajaMack 12:22 AM  

Can you SHIRR a FUMET? Beats the hell out of me, because I don't know either of them.

wreck 1:05 AM  

Not complaining, but it took me 30 minutes instead of my usual 12 minutes for a Tuesday on the magmic app.

mathguy 1:08 AM  

Lots of gimmes but it still had enough grit keep me interested. I knew that Darth Vader's name was Anakin but not that he was called Ani. Was able to guess that CTA stands for Chicago Transit Association.

wreck 1:17 AM  

@mathguy

agree with your analysis -- but actually think CTA is Chicago Transit Authority. I only know that because the first "Chicago" album was "Chicago Transit Authority" :)

Ahora Cree Middleearth 2:44 AM  

Few people saw "I (HEART) HUCKABEES" but I'll bet a lot of folks have seen the outtakes of the director David O.Russell? Having screaming tantrums with Lily Tomlin who starred with Dustin Hoffman (whose character was based on Uma Thurman's father the famous zen teacher)

The movie is more interesting for all the trivia associated with it than the film itself.

DOOHICKEY! :)

Thought the MIDDLEEARTH theme was brilliant and really worked!
i only noticed the word ART and tried to anticipate what the theme would be...hidden works of ART? So
MIDDLEEARTh was wonderful fun surprise.

chefwen 2:58 AM  

Horrors, a DNF on a Tuesday thanks to the H in AHORA and HALAL. The rest I got done, but DANG! Couldn't pull it off.

Loved 41D - BART/BRAT. My best friends kid should have been named that.

gifcan 3:15 AM  

I have to commit those brandy letters to memory, received a DNF for missing the V (I had KEn).

Great job on the EARTHs!

Never heard of the THRACIANS but the crosses were fair enough.

Liked it KEVan!

Anonymous 5:28 AM  

Do you really think that anyone cares how fast you may or may not solve a crossword?

Gill I. P. 6:50 AM  

@chefwen don't feel bad. I too DNF. Couldn't remember THRACIANS, didn't know HALAL, never heard of INREM and what the heck is TWOA????
Except for SKA, I didn't like any of the 3 letter entries especially CTR, CTA, INI and ANI.
I guess CORONA will bring a smile to @Z and @LMS...Who in the world thought to stuff a lime wedge DOOHICKEY in the bottle?
On to Wed. I guess....

Carola 7:06 AM  

After the first two theme entries, I thought the reveal might have something to do with HEART (as an anagram) - never saw EARTH stariing right out at me. Had the same thought as @jae that the NW "starting" corner could be daunting to a newish solver.

Glimmerglass 7:20 AM  

I was lucky today, too. Nicely in my wheelhouse. Hard for a Tuesday, but I like that.

Túrin Turambar 7:35 AM  

Too bad 34d wasn't SHIRE. I do understand why it couldn't be done.

John V 7:41 AM  

Challenging here; fill, proper names that were new to me. But, a fun theme, cool revealer!

Mohair Sam 8:05 AM  

Tough Tuesday for us. DNF in the Northwest because we are non-Muslims who have not studied music or Spanish. AHORA, ARCO, ARR, and HALAL were all Greek to us. We felt our way to all but the "A" in ARCO/AHORA and guessed wrong there because I said "ARCO" would be clued for gasoline on a Tuesday."

Tough Tuesday even without that - ESA/SHERA cross tough for us, didn't know SHIRR. But we got the theme off 59A gimme and that helped a lot. Never heard of IHEARTHUCKABEES but guessed it off EARTH and just the AB by noticing that it was a Presidential election year movie.

Susan McConnell 8:18 AM  

Absolutely loved DOOHICKEY! Saw IHEARTHUCKABEES, so that was no big deal. THRACIANS? Ew. And Rex is right, lots of nasty little bits...the least favorite for me was ISOK.

Matty 8:25 AM  

Definitely more challenging than usual. Had MTA as that's local for me. And then was staring at ANMH going, "What?!" Nice revealer though for the theme...

schmuzz 8:26 AM  

i had the same problem with the NW...instead of HALAL,
i tried VEGAN, SALAD, and even PILAF...i was all over the place!!

Bob Kerfuffle 8:50 AM  

As I usually do, I threw in random answers as they struck my eye, but even though I sussed the theme early on, I would say I flew through the top half of the puzz and then slowed significantly in the bottom half, not sure why.

I was ready to praise an original theme, but it seems there is nothing new under the sun, even in Middle Earth!

loren muse smith 8:51 AM  

I'm joining @chefwen and @Gil I.P. in the dnf group. I didn't know THRACIANS or I HEART HUCKABEES, and ACUTE just did not jump out at me. Then pretty much what @jae said.

*However,* I did know HALAL. I once worked with a bride whose pet pewit would eat only stew prepared from HALAL FUMET. Seriously – I knew it because as an event planner at a club, you deal with all kinds of food restrictions. (I once had a twelve-year old sniff at me as I served her chicken, "I can't eat that. I'm a pescatarian."

I wonder if you can get a HALAL HALLS.

I knew SHIRR because I had SHIRRed eggs once, and they were so unbelievably good I remembered the word and think about them from time to time. Not many words end in RR - purr. Burr? But that's something that flirts with being a thingamajig.

HITCH two days in a row.

@Carola – I was thinking "heart" first, too! In fact, for CTA, I had "cha" for a while to work "heart" in 49A. You could also get an "inner ear" theme here, but they're all within one word with the exception of ACUTE ARTHRITIS. Hmmm. RICE A RONI, HORSE AROUND, DEFINITE ARTICLE, HOUSE ARREST, ANNE ARBOR. There you go. INNER EAR.

"Royalty payers" I completely overthought. And overthought wrong. So I had "licensers" until the bitter end. And now my husband tells me it would be "licensors" in any case. Sheesh.

RATER, SEERS. . .I'm cluing a puzzle and stopped when I got to my beaut EYER. It just hurts to clue that. I took a break and went and watched a rerun of Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles. Still haven't clued it. I'll probably JUST embrace the ERness and use "observer" or "ogler."

I don't watch SNL, so I know OTERI only from crosswords. (FWIW – OTERI is just two long a sounds away from "otearai" - Japanese for "restroom.") I'll tell you what, though, I just saw a movie with Kristin Wiig, and she is now my all-time favorite comedic actress. She is brilliant in her movements.

@Bob Kerfuffle – Uh, yeah. Yesterday I was just, uh, kidding about the SUPINE stuff. Seriously – I had no idea that there were distinctions among those words, but after your post, I realized I kind of knew that "prostrate" would be only face-down. But "prone" and SUPINE. . . I didn't know.

Today's puzzle was, unlike for Rex, just not in my wheelhouse. It seems like just recently I was dismayed at not finishing a Tuesday. THAT SHIRR HERMES MAI ASSAY!

MetaRex 8:54 AM  

Yep, a lotta -ese...but as OFL has reminded us a time or three, when the theme gives ya this many constraints that's what yer gonna get.

Would I like this better or worse if ya just had three themers and in return had unusually nice short fill?...lotsa BART and BASIC and HALAL and KEV and notta lotta
-ese? Are the subtle charms of pretty fill a match for the kapow of a well-executed dense theme like Kevan C.'s?

I dunno...

jberg 8:59 AM  

Medium for me, only because I managed to remember SHIRR. Actually, I've only ever seen it as a participle -- you don't SHIRR eggs in everyday speech, you cook some SHIRRed eggs. But that's fair enough.

VSO=Very Superior Old; even better, supposedly, if it's also Pale.

I never saw the movie, but I noticed the ads mostly because HUCKABEE was running for President at about that time.

THRACIANS, though -- fair enough answer, but horribly obscure clue. On a Tuesday, I'd stick to "ancient inhabitants of Bulgaria," or wherever it was, or "rivals of the Greeks." I needed the THR to see it.

45A, ANCHOR, could have been nicely linked to CORONA, and I never knew that Darth Vader began life as a blackbird! But it's nice to see the constructor getting into his own puzzle at 37D.

Anyone out there from Chicago? Do they really say "L" for those CTA trains in the Loop? I've always thought of it as the "El."

dk 9:12 AM  

The first edition Hobbit with the Tolkean cover (see Rex post) can be yours for $36,000.

Ethnology I have heard of but ETHNObiology nope. Not saying it does not exist. Just to say that after more than a few degrees this one escaped me.

@loren gets the Acme award for post length today.

���� (2 Stars) Kinda of ACUTE puzzle

off to Portlandia for a week -- have been shown several clips from the show. I cannot wait to order chicken in a restaurant to see if they bring out a bio for the bird

Z 9:14 AM  

Uh - yeah, if you need a CORONA to improve your puzzle, well, SO TO bed.

The Mexican Restaurant down the road has HALAL meats. Every Chinese restaurant in town advertises that they serve HALAL food. A local McDonalds had a little legal issue when it was discovered that its "HALAL" chicken wasn't. I'm pretty sure that the HoneyBaked Ham store offers HALAL hams.* Nevertheless, most Arab-Americans I know request vegetarian, not HALAL. Flying While Arabic is still a crime in many TSA workers minds.

AHORA/ARCO/ARR - AUUGGGGHhhh.

I shoot for 9:00 on Tuesdays, did it in 16, so definitely on the challenging end of things.

Beer Rating - Corona, with the lime but not the beach.

Anon5:28 - apparently you.


*Only the last line is a joke.

oldbizmark 9:14 AM  

DNF for me. Never heard of "SHIRR," had "MTA" for "CTA," and put an "E" instead of the "A" for "THR(A)CIANS" (which I also never heard of).

Otherwise, got the puzzle albeit a bit slower than most Tuesdays.

Besides the answers above, which I thought were a bit tough for a Tuesday, isn't the movie called "I "heart symbol" Huckabees?" Not a big deal but I do think that is incorrect.

mac 9:28 AM  

Took me longer than most Tuesdays, but no real problems. Looked for the theme only after filling in Middle Earth, so I'm not sure if it would have been a help.

I thought 14A Rater didn't have a great clue, and got into trouble at 28D where I had put an s in the last box.

Love Doohickey.

If you don't want to shirr your eggs, you might try to coddle them. Lots of food terms lately!

Questinia 9:29 AM  

SHIRR also is the gathering of fabric by means of elasticized threads into parallel rows as in:

My vintage '70's SHIRRed peasant-chic YSL blouson with the cinnabar DOOHICKEYs looks great with an HERMES burnoose. It's positively THRACIAN!

or,

THAT SHE RA at the bar dribbled SHIRRed eggs on her SHIRRed bustier before dropping her CORONA.

Fun puzzle for a Tuesday.

ArtO 9:54 AM  

Definitely challenging for a Tuesday. For all the reasons already mentioned

chefbea 9:55 AM  

Hand up for DNF!! too many things I did not know. Tried vegan for 2 down. Of course knew shirr..and @Mac know coddle.

joho 10:06 AM  

Fun theme hidden in a difficult Tuesday grid. This took me much longer than a normal for an early week puzzle. Not caring about speed, however, I just enjoyed the unexpected challenge.

I'll bet tomorrow's puzzle will be easier ... we'll see.

Dave 10:16 AM  

Don't like the fact the "earth" is not in the middle of the theme answers. Middle should mean middle, not somewhere in the answer. Just saying.

Steve J 10:29 AM  

I don't know that I've ever had a DNF on a Tuesday, until today. The SHIRRED/SO TO BED and IN REM/AIM AT crosses did me in.

The first one I get: It could also be GO TO BED, and GHIRR seems just as plausible a word (coming to us from Arabic or Celtic or something where they speak in the back of the throat) as SHIRR. I had IN REs instead of IN REM at first, and AIM AT was complicated by the fact that 62D could have been ESA or ESo. The ambiguity of two of the five letters left me unable to parse what was going on there.

Liked the theme and thought it was executed well (@Dave: It's not exact-center earth: EARTH is not either end of each entry, so it is in the MIDDLE). The theme answers were all solid. I saw I HEART HUCKABEES (ok, but not one of Russel's better efforts), so that came quickly, but I'm not surprised that many struggled with it.

NW was also slow, becuase I can never remember ARCO as anything other than a gas station. A HORA was relatively easy for me, as it's part of the Spanish you pick up by osmosis living in California for many years, as was HALAL. Lots of butchers in San Francisco point out that their meat's halal, even when their customer bases is not Muslim. Also, it'll be familiar to New Yorkers, as virtually every street corner in Manhattan has a halal food cart on the corner, dishing up shawarma, chicken and other goodies.

Fill outside the theme was much less satisfying, as many have noted.

@jberg: I used to live in Chicago. People say L or El, because they're pronounced the same. :) In terms of writing it, both are used. My anecdotal experience is that El is a bit more common and more likely to be used by natives. Bit of trivia: the whole system is called the El, not just the elevated bits and including the subways.

Two Ponies 10:34 AM  

DNF here too but for me it was He Man's (who man?) sister crossing a legal term.
@ jae is correct about acute arthritis. It is a common and irritating (to me) mistake. Acute does not refer to the severity but to the sudden onset. Chronic is its opposite.
The fill in this grid was just awful.

AliasZ 10:57 AM  

Announcement overheard in a college corridor:

Now hEARTHis. There is a dEARTH of good teachers, therefore BeatricEARTHur will be teaching ChinesEARTHistory today. She will not wEARTHe requisite smock, and she will not drink red wine which, in moderation of course, contributes to good hEARTHealth.

This ends my MIDDLE EARTH contribution of the day.

I liked the theme. The fill, less so. The SHE-RA, AIM AT, IN REM corner was not the most inspired, and even though Will liked ISOK, I didn’t. It sounds like footwear sold by Apple. I also found no pleasure in TWOA, INI, ANI (as in yesterday’s start of an Iowa cheer), OID, ARR, CTA, CTR, DLI, and some other crosswordese shorts either. ESA could’ve been clued as conductor / composer Pekka Salonen, and MAI as Swedish actor / director Zetterling, but that would’ve made it tougher than even a Wednesday.

The two pairs of long downs crossing two theme entries each were impressive. I especially liked THRACIAN and DOOHICKEY. I also liked the luxury leather brand HERMÈS, and tonight I’ll have a bottle of cold CORONA with a lime wedge in it. ¡Salud!

Milford 11:33 AM  

Harder than average for a Tuesday, but I'm pleased to have finished. @Z is right - in SW Michigan you can get almost everything HALAL. Unfortunately, up in the suburbs here, ignorant people think this is a bad thing.

DOOHICKEY and PEANUT OIL were good ones. Never heard of the THRACIANS. I agree with @oldbizmark that the title of the movie is actually "I (heart-shape) Huckabees". But I never saw it. Not a fan of CORONA, even with the lime, but ice-cold on a warm beach, I wouldn't turn it down.

Marge: Homer, if the baby's a boy, what do you think about the name Larry?
Homer: Marge, we can't do that. All the kids will call him Larry Fairy.
Marge: How about Louie?
Homer: They'll call him Screwy Louie.
Marge: Bob?
Homer: Slob.
Marge: Luke?
Homer: Puke.
Marge: Marcus?
Homer: Mucus.
Marge: What about BART?
Homer: Hmm, let's see. Bart, Cart, Dart, E-art... nope, can't see any problem with that.

Milford 11:35 AM  

That would be SE Michigan that I live in. Old habits die hard...

ahimsa 12:03 PM  

@Z said, Flying While Arabic is still a crime in many TSA workers minds.

I know what you mean. Actually we call it "flying while brown" because you don't have to be Arabic to be a suspect. I mean just look at all the different things Nina Davuluri was called after she won the Miss America contest. But on to nicer topics.

What a cute theme for a puzzle! Kudos to Kevan Choset!

This was a bit slower than your average Tuesday but I was able to finish, no problem. I was lucky that I recognized I HEART HUCKABEE.

I didn't even notice the EARTH in the MIDDLE of the theme entries until I got to the reveal. In fact when I first read the clue at 59 A ("The Lord of the Rings" setting) I thought, "New Zealand!" Hmm, not enough letters. (Anyone else think of where they shot the films? Or was that just me?) :-)

Uncle John C 12:08 PM  

@lms: three in a row for "HITCH" counting Sunday's. At least they're all clued differently. My prediction for tomorrow: "Psycho" Director's Nickname.

Lewis 12:19 PM  

What has happened to JACKJ?

Yes, as Rex says, a lot of schmutzy grid gruel. I was Naticked at INREM/SHERA. 19 R's!

For me, the crosses must have been fair (except for the Natick), because I got the words I didn't know. The theme helped me solve the puzzle quicker.

@dave -- "I'm in the middle of watching a movie" -- can be any time during the movie.

Reading across, I do like the BRA WITH SAYSO.

Milford 12:48 PM  

@ahimsa - hand up for starting to write "New Zealand" first.

Masked and Anonymo4Us 1:10 PM  

day-um. Dangerous crossins in this puz. Carlos Dangerous.

Hobbit-formin theme idea, tho.

Anoa Bob 1:12 PM  

Soto shera, mai arco aimat. Arr twoa ateit?

Ahi ini ani dli, oid oct.

Sao entr inrem. Vso ahora? Halal esa! Rea ctr uae cta ysl? Isok ska sha!

Z 1:18 PM  

@Anoa Bob - Esperanto?

FWIW - a beer rating of Corona would be a pan.

Ray J 1:26 PM  

Like @acme I saw the ARTs pattern but not the EARTHs, so had a nice surprise at the revealer.

In Econ 101 they taught us about the supply and demand of widgets. In scrabble a widget is worth 11 points -- half the value of DOOHICKEY’s 22 points. If you’re gonna trade in gizmos set your sights on the whatchamacallit market. They’re bringing in 30 points a pop.

Speaking of SITAR playing dudes, I heard on the radio the other day that Ravi Shankar was Norah Jones father. That was quite a surprise to me, I mean I don’t know who I expected to be her dad, but I never would have guessed it was him.

@Lewis – I’ve been wondering about Jack J too. Last time I can recall hearing from him he was fighting the flu. Hope all is well with him.

LaneB 1:27 PM  


Even after filling AHORA, CLEAR, OAR and LINEAR, I still had to guess ARCO, RATER and OTERI. HALAL? THink I'll try ordering it next long flight.

Nicer cluing would have made things a lot more pleasant: Sheet music abbr.? Instruction to play with the bow? How about gasoline brand and ???

The thing left me grumpy ,though I admire the construction and concept. Go easier on us Tuesday guys next time Kevan.

M and A also 1:36 PM  

@Anoa Bob. har. Uae nut. M and A.

Lewis 1:36 PM  

@anoa -- I love when you do that

Nameless 1:44 PM  

@Ray J - Thanks, but how much for the scannafranna

Bird 1:47 PM  

Just a tad above medium for me on a Tuesday and I didn’t care too much for this one. No real joy or likes, except for DOOHICKEY. Got hung up in the NE when I had DDI at 11A for the longest time and wondering what the hell 12D could be. Duh. Agree with @Rex on the fill.

Did not know 32D, but the crosses filled it in for me.

IMO . . .
- 56A should be plural. Loony = NUTS
- Clue for 28D should be Escaped injury
- Clue for 33A should replace pad with base (never heard the term pad used in that manner)
- POC ISAACS is ugly

Benko 1:49 PM  

VSO can stand for either "Very Special Old" or "Very Superior Old".
Thracians, I think, came from the Anatolian region of Turkey. If I remember my Herodotus correctly anyway.
@M & A: regarding PRUE, as you asked yesterday--there is an interesting definition for this word on urban dictionary. Apparently it means a beautiful girl who is always there for you.

gifcan 2:25 PM  

Very Superior Old, Very Superior Old, commit to memory, Very Superior Old . . .

ahimsa 2:28 PM  

@Bird, re: the 33 Down clue, "What pad Thai is often cooked in" (PEANUT OIL) you suggested that the word base would be better than pad.

I think the confusion here is that the pad in the clue is not an English word. It is part of the name of a noodle dish called pad thai.

captcha- npdayr, a day inside NPR?

I was a bit confused by the mixed capitalization in the clue (lower case p on pad combined with an upper case T on Thai? why? ) but I forgot about that detail until now.

ahimsa 2:32 PM  

LOL, about that last comment...

I meant to append my captcha comment on the end but I guess I accidentally typed it in the middle. Oops.

Eather Henry 2:32 PM  

I must be smarter than I think because I zipped through this in twelve minutes. Never had to think about the reveal.

Bird 3:16 PM  

@ahimsa - Thank you. I wasn't sure if pad also meant base or stock in culinary circles. And in the link, both words are capitalized Pad Thai. I don't know if knowing Pad Thai would have made it easier, because I saw PEANUT OIL after just a few letters and I do enjoy Thai food (though not as often as I like).

quilter1 3:44 PM  

I believe Spartacus was THRACIAN.

AliasZ 3:47 PM  

The Thracians (Ancient Greek: Θρᾷκες, Latin: Thraci) were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting a large area in Central and Southeastern Europe. They were bordered by the Scythians to the north, the Celts and the Illyrians to the west, the Ancient Greeks to the south and the Black Sea to the east, roughly in the area occupied by today's Bulgaria.

The first historical record about the Thracians is found in the Iliad, where they are described as allies of the Trojans in the Trojan War against the Greeks.

Thrace existed from approx. 1000 BCE to about 200 CE. After they were subjugated by Alexander the Great and consecutively by the Roman Empire, most of the Thracians eventually became hellenized or romanized. In the 6th century, some Thraco-Romans and hellenized Thracians (i.e. Byzantines) south of the Danube River made contacts with the invading Slavs and were later eventually slavicized. One of the three primary ancestral groups of modern Bulgarians are the Thracians.

Spartacus was Thracian.
Orpheus, the mythological musician and poet was king of a Thracian tribe.
Byzantine Emperor Justinian I was believed to be Thracian by birth.

M and A's Last Silver Pewit Fumet 4:14 PM  

@Benko: thanx. Crossword solvers are sure nice folks. That is real helpful, on the puz buildin front. Scores me another crucial U.

@AliasZ: Wow. Hystorical stuff.
Wasn't there also an original Star Trek episode called "The Thracian Web"? Had a buncha NIDI dudes in it.

@Lewis: yep. Got crossed-up, the same exact spot U did. Wanted to guess U there. Sometimes it's Halal if U do, and Halal if you don't...

M&A

Melodious Funk 4:19 PM  

Be honest now. Am I the only one on this group who has proposed marriage to Questinia? [bended knee and everything

JFC 7:39 PM  

This has some good fill in it (DOOHICKEY, .LICENSEES, PEANUT OIL), but all I will remember is I HEART HUCKABEES. I have never heard of this movie. Neither has the cruciverb database, which means not only has it never appeared in a Tuesday puzzle, it has never appeared in a puzzle, period. Not a mainstream puzzle, anyway. At least not in the past (roughly) 100 years. I’m THINKING how you make a Tuesday (easy) puzzle with an absurdity like I HEART HUCKABEES in it. It's not like the grid is demanding. LAZY doesn't even begin to describe it. I'd like to blame it on the stupid pangram thing (one of every letter in the grid! Amazing! (even though there is none)), but there are no letters in that answer that can't be found. So you have to really *want* I HEART HUCKABEES. Incomprehensible. I don't even know what to say anymore....

JFC

CLARA DOMB, M.A., M.Phil. 8:12 PM  

Is today Tuesday?

Anonymous 8:58 PM  

Had enough letters of "I heart huckabees" to think it was "The Art Hucksters." Never heard of either movie before. I'd like to see a movie called The Art Hucksters, maybe about an art forgery gang?

sanfranman59 10:04 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 6:31, 6:07, 1.07, 81%, Challenging
Tue 9:22, 8:15, 1.14, 82%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:56, 3:46, 1.04, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:42, 5:09, 1.11, 76%, Medium-Challenging

gifcan 12:18 AM  

Spewed tea on my keyboard reading Halal if U do and Halal if you don't. Funny people!

spacecraft 12:22 PM  

What a gut-wrenching plunge from the nearly pristine fill of yesterday to the sewage of today. With all due respect, Mr. Choset, keep searching for your calling. Crossword construction is not it.

I did manage to finish, guessing the H correctly at the 2 square: I don't speak Spanish, so I'm newly in the planet's minority. And what in blazes was HALAL? I was thinking sALAd for a while, but when CLEARTHEAIR locked in I had to discard that. Thanks, at least, to OFL for WODing HALAL. Sadly, I don't speak Arabic, either.

More WOEs: IHEARTHUCKABEES. I am a Dustin Hoffman fan of the first water; I consider him the best actor of all time. But this one? Ne. Vah. Heardofit. The crosses put it up, and I just stared. I should mention that I don't go to many movies any more because the sound is set so friggin' LOUD in those multi-theater complexes, which is all there seem to be any more. Hurts my ears, man.

The theme itself is fine. The key word is well embedded in the entries, and I didn't even notice it until after sussing out the revealer line--which took some crosses. But the fill charges WAY too much for that little aha.

Dirigonzo 2:24 PM  

I needed the theme to even come close to finishing as the movie title was a total question mark. Even with the help I got it wrong as I had LICENSErS payriing the royalties that they should be collecting from the ...EES. And gOTO bed - I had that, too so TWS on a Tuesday. But it's good to see the commenters keeping FUMET alive because in a late comment yesterday @Waxy (with an assist from YT) came up with a pretty good definition when it's used as an acronym.

J.aussiegirl 2:36 PM  

DNF as with others because of the INREM/SHERA cross. Needed a lucky vowel guess. Liked the theme though.

@Steve J 10:29 am, Using quote marks around 34 across "And ...... bed" I believe refers to the entries Samuel Pepys made at the end of each of his diary entries (1600s).

Go to bed was not used; it was always And so to bed, or some version of the same phrase. Some are quite funny.

Solving in Seattle 2:40 PM  

Left brain, right brain - never could keep what happens where straight. So, before I had all the crosses I'm figuring fINEARTHINKING and we have a rebus animal. Fine/art thinking. Finally I parsed LINEAR and saw HALAL and remembered it from a cwpuz from months ago. No Tuesday rebus.

Tough Tuesday Kevin & Will.

HERMES is only one letter away from an STD.

Capcha: eordays. Time spent with a Milne charactor?

rain forest 4:11 PM  

Liked it. Got the theme, which helped a bunch. Didn't see the movie, but remember the I (heart) Huckabees.

Actually the themers and the revealer were really well done, as were the long downs, and no, I don't give a day-um which one Rex didn't care for.

Learned that there is a draft category other than oneA and fourF. I even liked OID.

Ginger 8:10 PM  

Got it but didn't like it, and, like @LMS, I like almost all puzzles. As a violaist, I knew ARCO, but as I put it in I thought that only a string player would know that. HALAL is not a Tuesday (or Wed, or Thurs.) word. IMO, the NW is a Friday corner.

I always though CTA meant "Cover Thy A**".

Looking forward to tomorrow...it's got to be an improvement.

Gill I. P. 8:58 PM  

Hi @Ginger
I always read the syndies - syndy's - syndys'? and yours today had me wondering what a "violaist" is...?
Sounds interesting. ;-) I may want to become one!

Solving in Seattle 9:26 PM  

@Gil IP, since @Ginger hasn't replied I'll take a shot at it. Buy a viola and a bow and start sawing. You're a violist. Oh, and practice, practice, practice.

@Ginger, go Hawks!

Gill I. P. 10:05 PM  

OMGOSH....@SIS, thank you...That damn DOOHICKEY gets me every time.
Go NINERS!

Ginger 12:09 AM  

@Gill I.P. Always good to hear from the 'real timers', we Syndilanders seem to exist in a time warp, so I was happy to have you chime in! A viola is just a violin on steroids. BTW, the Niners did look good last night.

@SIS Thanks for picking up the bow, so to speak. And Yes...Go Hawks! Monday night should be a good game, (at least I hope so)

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