Bendel of fashion / TUE 11-5-13 / Journalist Skeeter of Harry Potter books / Yale whale players / Fed procurement overseer / Like better active today than radioactive tomorrow sentiment / Historical subject for Gore Vidal

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Medium+



THEME: WISE CRACK (60A: Witticism … or, literally, a description of the answer to each of the four starred clues?) — theme answers have WI- on one end and -SE on the other, so WISE has been CRACK(ed), I suppose.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *Migratory flock (WILD GEESE)
  • 30A: *Singer Amy with six Grammys (WINEHOUSE) — really wanted this to be GRANT at first, sadly.
  • 36A: *Pegasus, notably (WINGED HORSE)
  • 42A: *"Regardless of the outcome…" ("WIN OR LOSE…")

Word of the Day: HENRI Bendel (16A: Bendel of fashion) —
Henri Bendel is an American upscale women's specialty store based in New York City that sells fashion accessories, cosmetics and fragrances, gifts and gourmet foods. The company currently operates twenty-nine stores: its flagship New York store, established in 1895 and currently located at 712 Fifth Avenue, and stores in Columbus (Ohio), Boca Raton, San Diego, Aventura (Florida), Troy (Michigan), Los Angeles, Dallas, Short Hills (New Jersey), Santa Clara (California), King of Prussia (Pennsylvania), Costa Mesa (California), Atlanta, Arlington (Virginia), Miami, Palm Beach Gardens, Tampa, Orlando, Chicago, Las Vegas (Fashion Show), Skokie (Illinois), Houston, Oak Brook (Illinois), Las Vegas (Forum Shops), Huntington Station (New York), Mall of America, Canoga Park (California), McLean (Virginia) and Cherry Hill (New Jersey). (wikipedia)
• • •

Not good. I see that there is, in a way, a "crack" in WISE … that has been filled with some letters. But it's less a crack than a full-scale break into two equal halves. I've seen this thing before a million times—FAST BREAK, maybe, or SPLIT ENDS or god knows what—and this one isn't done particularly well. Not particularly poorly, but not particularly well. Perhaps because I am a rube, I have never heard of SHUMAI or HENRI Bendel. Not being an "upscale" fashion consumer who TWEEZES and eats dim sum [wink], I was a bit lost at times in this definitely Not self-indulgent grid. Also had trouble with a bunch of stupid little abbreviations I can never remember, like GSA (Government … something something?) and OCS (Officer … something School?). Still can't figure out what 11D: Like a "Better active today than radioactive tomorrow" sentiment (ANTI-NUKE). The whole quote is being used adjectivally, which is awkward enough; then there's the fact that whatever slogan that is comes from before I was born. Also, I don't know what "active" means there. "Active" in the ANTI-NUKE protest scene? With that answer crossing unknown HENRI and abutting forgotten OCS, I had the most trouble by far in that corner. Rest of puzzle was pretty normal. No better or worse filled than most Tuesday grids, so far as I can tell.


Next!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

77 comments:

jae 12:06 AM  

Medium tough for me.  Had some of the same problems in NE as @Rex, so it took some extra effort.  ANTI NUKE and I REFUSE were not immediately forthcoming from their clues and HENRI was a WOE.

Two UPs and two TAIs?  Plus it seems heavy @MetaRex on the ESE.

I'm with Rex, this was not a top tier Tues.


Anonymous 12:06 AM  

ETUI is back in the game after a 2-year suspension. All hail ETUI!

Steve J 12:16 AM  

Average in terms of solving time for me. Average in terms of early-week quality, too. Not fantastic, not bad.

I also would expect WISE CRACK to imply a slight gap, but most of these were WISE chasms. But the theme fill was decent, which always helps, and outside the three-letter blocks (again - and again it was not good) the fill was mostly decent.

Wasn't wild about the clue for ANTI-NUKE, but from Google it looks like the phrase was a real thing. Aside for SIDE BET, I found the cluing in general a bit flat and plain, even adjusting for Tuesday difficulty.

Btw: GSA = General Services Administration, and OCS = Officer Candidate School

Sarah 12:20 AM  

Felt un-Tuesdayish to me, both in the cluing and choice of fill.

Would avoid on a Tuesday: GSA, ANAIS, ETUI, ARP, OBITS (very morbid clue), ERN, SHUMAI, ENERO, CHE, KIL, GOWEST (awkward), IPO, WIE, INDUS, HRE, CTS, OCS, and the IMBACK/IREFUSE dupe. Also probably would get rid of ANTI-NUKE (unusual, but not really what I think solvers are looking for).

Jisvan 12:23 AM  

I thought it was kind of Wednesdayish myself! Che quote, obscure opera...but maybe I'm just tired. Had a big weekend and back to work transition, will get some sleep and see what tomorrow brings!

Jisvan 12:27 AM  

Forgot to add, shopping at Henri Bendel after a lunch of shumai sounds very good to me! I would tweeze for that.

wreck 12:31 AM  

Kind of hard for a Tuesday for me -- but ultimately, fair. Tough does not always mean bad even though it is a Monday or Tuesday.

Questinia 12:33 AM  

The 3 B's of music: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms.

The 3 B's of shopping: Bergdorf's, Bonwit's, Bendel's.

Need an ETUI?
Go to HENRI!

Nice puzzle, Paula.

retired_chemist 1:04 AM  

"Word" to avoid in ALL circumstances: KIL. The abbreviation for kilometer is km. Definitely not KIL. IMO a major error. Pity, since a lot of this puzzle was nice and quite Tuesdayish.

Didn't see the theme on my own. The puzzle solves perfectly well as a themeless.

Thanks, Ms. Gamache.

Anoa Bob 1:14 AM  

Hmmm, 9A ANAIS, "'Delta of Venus' author Nin" followed by 9D AHH clued as "Yes...that's the spot...yes", a coincidence? I think not.

I guess it depends on the size of the CRACK one envisions whether the gap in the reveal matches the size of the gap between the WI- & -SE in the four theme entries or not.

Martin 1:16 AM  

KIL is a sucky entry, but it's in the M-W unabridged, which reduces it from major error to unfortunate and sucky.

Clark 1:39 AM  

Had some left over SHUMAI for lunch; enjoyed the memory of the older-lady receptionist at the office I once worked at, who used to be someone who mattered at HENRI Bendel, and who had a raspy voice that was about as low as mine (and I'm a bass); and opera—well, that's my baseball. So this was right up my alley.

Carola 3:46 AM  

I found it hard for a Tuesday, had to do quite a bit of skipping around. Last area to MOP UP was the ANTI?UKE x ?u? x SIDE?ET nexus. I misinterpreted the clue for "Better active today than..." as referring to the structure of the sentence rather than the content, so thought we were looking for some literary term, like maybe ANTIbUKE?. Just having Googled, I see that there is "antiphrasis." Anyway, finally saw that NUB made sense. .... This reminds me that my father-in-law was ANTIcUKE - hated them in salads.

Yesterday's CHARLEMAGNE gets his HRE today.

Didn't see WIE until the grid was full and had to check the clue. With yesterday's discussion of BEI and the use of German v. French and Spanish in puzzles still in mind, I wondered whether "How, in Hamburg" would be as easy/hard a clue as "Golfer Michelle." Is it as likely someone who hasn't studied German would be familiar with "WIE geht's?" - as I, with no Spanish, would know ENERO and POR?

MetaRex 6:43 AM  

Enjoyed getting bollixed up in the NW...couldn't get WING and the V formation of flying geese in Joel Fagliano's puzz a while back out of my mind...

Part of my problem in the NW was having GAO instead of GSA...hello, ESE!

So how was the overall ESE load? 52, which makes today's puzz the lightest in ESE of all the M through TH themers I've Eseometered. The list of words that Sarah posted--CTS, OCS, etc.-- includes 23 ESE points, but this puzz also has plentya long fill that got a zero and helped the overall count. The block count, which I don't include in the Eseometer but I spose ya could, is kinda high at 38, and the thematic density at 48 blocks is not so high. Yep, ETUI is a groaner...but the system says it's only 2 1/2 points.

Z 6:51 AM  

It's Tuesday. It was fine. When I crack my eggs I end up with two distinct half-shells (hopefully).

I see we have a Henri Bendel in nearby Troy. Troy is famous for exactly one thing: Big Beaver Road is Exit 69 off of I-75.

Z 6:55 AM  

Exit 69

r.alphbunker 6:58 AM  

On April 14, 1960 ETWEE was clued as {Box for small articles: Var.} This makes it hard for me to get too upset about ETUI in this puzzle.

I can imagine how Miles Standish would have felt if he had been transported 400 years into the future to Heathrow and had seen someone complain because their flight had been delayed an hour :-)

Regarding the appropriateness of "crack" please see
perfect egg crack

HTH

Anonymous 7:08 AM  

The theme was actually a hindrance to me. I got WILDGEESE and WINGEDHORSE early, so I thought it had something to do with animals. I thought I knew Amy WINEHOUSE but didn't put it in right away, delaying completion of the NE. Solved it as themeless

jberg 7:22 AM  

On the one hand, I thought the theme was less than ideal, because a) three of them were WIN... and the other two were ... not; and b) the varying number of words per theme answer (wpta).

On the other hand, I really liked that 49A was not clued as "Sea eagle (var.)."

On the other hand, I don't agree with the standard that says all answers should be things that are known to people who don't know anything at all. The GSA manages about a million government buildings - there's probably one in your hometown, even if that town is Troy (aka Collar City, and home to one of the highest paid university faculties in the USA, so it's famous for lots of things!)

As for the supposedly obscure opera - hey, it's been <A HREF="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0255014/>on TV!</A>.

So ZIP UP and get a grip, folks!

John V 7:27 AM  

Medium/Challenging for a Tuesday, here. Tad more crosswordese that one might prefer, but okay. Theme worked just fine for me.

retired_chemist 7:52 AM  

KIL is in the free dictionary online too. I didn't look closely enough last night after midnight. But bah. Not used anyplace I have ever seen, and most definitely not a legit SI abbreviation.

joho 7:59 AM  

I went on a WILD goose chase looking for the theme after I had completed the puzzle. Even though WISECRACK says it, I couldn't' see it! I don't blame this on the theme but on my being super slow on the uptake.

I wanted GSA to be the Girls Scouts of America.

I wish there were a Henri Bendel's in Cincinnati.

ETUI, EPEE and ERN are strangely dear to me, I think like seeing old friends again.

Loved SCREWY and ZIPUP.

I think the only thing this is missing is some real witticisms ... let's start telling jokes! (I am not serious!)

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

Hey, Rex, kinda whiney this morning, aren't we? Get up on the wrong side of your crib? There was nothing unfair or inappropriate that I saw in this puzzle.

Mohair Sam 8:10 AM  

Great catch @AnoaBob on the ANAIS/AHH crossing. I wonder what percent of NYT puzzles have either Anais or Oona in them - at least there are two Oonas - so the clue can vary just a touch.

Agree with Rex's comments, except GSA and OCS were pretty much gimmes here. And wondering why there are complaints about ANTINUKE and CHE. I never heard either quote before, but given the gimmes ANAIS, WINEHOUSE, and SISKEL what other answers would fill? . . . "Let's see, um, three letter revolutionary ending in E, umm, umm . . ."

Speaking of singing Amy's . . . I think Rex took a shot at the lovely Miss Grant. We're not happy campers here.

Michael Hanko 8:14 AM  

If something cracks, it falls into two pieces, right? I have tix to see Boito's Mefistofile tomorrow night at Carnegie Hall!

Susan McConnell 8:20 AM  

Seemed like a fairly easy normal Tuesday to me.

Amanda 8:23 AM  

So SHUMAI is a Japanese dumpling, and dim sum often serves many kinds of dumplings, so that works right? Only, of course, dim sum is a Chinese way of serving food. I'm sure there are inauthentic American dim sum places that serve a variety of Asian things and assume Americans won't know the difference, but I was sitting there trying to think of Chinese dishes that would fit with that clue, so it didn't occur to me to look for dishes from a completely different country. It wouldn't be okay to clue CREPE with Spanish tapa, so why is it okay to lump Asian things all together?

dk 8:49 AM  

@Amanda, Sosueme is a Japanese legal phrase: n'cest pas?

Also did not know the Dim Sum "dish" so I guessed and SNEAK seemed to be right.

Thought MOPUP was what you did with a spill and daub was what one did with a stain.

Had to come here to get the theme (as always) and once I got said theme I texted myself: WTF.

Some fun fill resulting in a pleasant romp.

Killing frost (great noir title or band name) here in WI with snow or sleet (my favorite) in the forecast.

���� (2 Stars) Thanks Paula

AliasZ 8:54 AM  

WIE geht's, everyone?

I love Paula Gamache puzzles, but KIL is a sure way to kill a perfectly fine grid. And OMG, OCS, GSA, IPO. ¡POR favor! However "GO WEST, young man" does not strike me as awkward. I also liked ALLURE, WINNIPEG, SIDEBET and quite a few others.

Having never shopped at Bendel, for HENRI I would have preferred Matisse, Dutilleux, Cartier-Bresson, Rousseau or de Toulouse-Lautrec.

I enjoyed the WI-crack-SE theme, and saw no particular reason to nitpick how many letters would constitute a crack and how many a chasm.

A good WIne purchaSE on my WInter cruiSE WIll cauSE the WItch's curSE to WIlt and loSE its effect. WIll adviSE. But the WIndow caSE in my cabin was improperly installed, resulting in an annoying WInd noiSE (or was that me?) while using my laptop's WIreless mouSE WIth eaSE, and WIping my noSE with my WIfe's blouSE.

My favorite WI-crack-SE is WIlliam PrimroSE (1904-1982), the Scottish violist, here playing Caprice No. 24 by Niccol├▓ Paganini.

Arrigo Boito (1842-1918) was a writer, poet and composer, best known for his libretti for Ponchielli's La Gioconda and Verdi's Otello and Falstaff among others, as well as for his own OPERA Mefistofele, which I wouldn't call obscure.

To all New Yorkers: vote early and vote often!

mac 9:05 AM  

Easy-medium for me, I'm always on Paula's wavelength, it seems.

The Anais/ahh crossing is fantastic! Don't believe it's a coincidence.

I didn't know the word "nub" so side set (music?) held me up. I've seen KIL in a puzzle twice in the last week, in real life it's km.

Milford 9:06 AM  

A little tricky for a Tuesday. The idea that we CRACKed the WI---SE in half was just fine with me.

@jberg - "I don't agree with the standard that says all answers should be things that are known to people who don't know anything at all." I agree completely! And I'm definitely too lazy to make of an exhaustive list of inappropriate fill.

Liked SCREWY, TWEEZES, and PHARAOH, always a tough one to spell.

@retired chemist - I agree that KIL is not a good abbreviation for kilometer. KIL could be kilo-anything.

@Z - my first visit to my Waterford boyfriend (now husband) parents' house, he made a point of driving me past the infamous Big Beaver exit. It's especially funny when you consider the chi-chi Somerset mentality of that area.

ArtO 9:18 AM  

If it's not in your wheelhouse, don't blame the constructor.

A bit chewy for Tuesday but not that awfully tough.ik

chefbea 9:30 AM  

I agree - tough for a tuesday. Loved zip up and burr.

Masked and Anonym007Us 9:41 AM  

Like the long vertical stacks.
fave fillins:
* SHUMAI - wanted MAITAI.
* TAIPEI - wanted MAITAI.
* TAICHI - wanted MAITAI.
fave weejects: Start with GSA, end with KIL. Weeject crack!

Fun solve. Put up a fight, for a TuesPuz.

Agent 007-U will return, in "View to a KIL".

George Barany 9:41 AM  

@questinia, To the three B's of music, should we add Boito?

@jberg and @michael hanko, and especially @aliasZ, thanks for opera appreciation 101.

"Mefistofele" covers much of the same ground as "Faust" with both based on the classic Goethe play. Boito's music is wonderful, and the title role was the signature of many great basses. I particularly remember watching the late Norman Treigle of the late New York City Opera prancing around the stage in a devilish body suit; click here to listen to some vocal highlights.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

If it's not in your wheelhouse, blame the person who accepted the puzzle. On Tuesday, every puzzle should be in almost every person's "wheelhouse". If it's not, it means the grid is bad.

DBlock 9:54 AM  

I thought there was a ladder thing going one wine to wing to wino but wild and wise didn't fit and then actually read the clue to the reveal--duh
fill kinda MEH, although Anais Nin and Henri Bendel in the same puzzle amuses me.

Gill I. P. 10:05 AM  

8Ps4US.
OK Paula puzzle.
I always know she will have some opera, some exotic food, an artist here and there and a complicated author or two. This one didn't disappoint.
WIN OR LOSE for some reason felt it didn't belong.
Liked seeing ATBAT above YANKS and CHE above KIL.....

Master Melvin 10:15 AM  

Re 52A: The hockey arena at Yale looks like a whale, so it is called The Whale or The Yale Whale. I think its real name is something like Ingalls Rink.

AliasZ 10:29 AM  

@jberg 7:22 AM, you forgot the close quote after the URL. Here it is:

As for the supposedly obscure opera - hey, it's been on TV!

Mike 10:37 AM  

Everywhere I've ever had dim sum has offered SHUMAI.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:39 AM  

Fine Tuesday puzzle for me.

Only change I might have suggested was to make the clue for 16 A, HENRI, "Le Chat Noir." I would have posted a link, but poor Henri has gone so commercial it is difficult to find his original, truly funny, videos.

quilter1 10:51 AM  

Felt easy to me although I never knew a thing about Amy WINEHOUSE until her death. A lot I didn't know but could get from crosses. I usually don't like Paula's puzzles, but this one wasn't bad.

gifcan 10:51 AM  

You would think that living in Canada I could spell WINNIPEG. I had WINNePEG which messed up my ELeS and ground me to a DNF. Maybe I was thinking of its nickname, WINterPEG. What a SCREWY ARP NUB I am!

M and Also 10:54 AM  

p.s.
Have had that little bowl full of apple vinegar and soap out on the kitchen counter for two days now. Ain't caught bug one. Finally tasted it. Seemed ok. A little tart.

Meanwhile, the fruit flies keep buzzin in front of us, while we're doin the puzs. Annoyin. One even landed on the SHUMAI entry. Meanwhile, they were all over the jackOlantern I carved up for Trickertreat (this year). So the puz and holiday decors are drawin more flies than the thing thats sposed to catch 'em. Bummer, dude.

Just saw one floatin in my h2o glass. If one lands on my cinnamin roll, it's war...

M&A

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Agree with retired chemist. Easier than average for me, overall fun (though I didn't get the theme) but KIL is simply not used.

Melodious Funk 11:35 AM  

I was once a guest speaker at a college music class in the mid '60's. I titled the class, The Three B's of Music: Bach Bartok and The Beatles.

I have no idea now how I related the three but it must have been interesting. There was no question on the final concerning the class but the kids seemed to enjoy it at the time; they took me to the student union for lunch.

dick S 11:46 AM  

Hard for a Tuesday. 'Kil' ????? 'Anti-nuke'???? "sidebar' for 'sidebet' was my own fault for not reading carefully.

I learned 'etui' from the crooswod many years ago and considered it rare. Now since I have been collecting fountain pens (mostly Pelikans), I have fourteen of them.

I do the xword with a fountain pen. On a bad day, the paper is pretty soppy!

LaneB 12:26 PM  

Tougher than usual for a Tuesday but got through it Google-free. Always a nice way to start the day.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

The theme answers were easier than the fill but I could not get the lower-right corner or the kicker. The fill is just terrible. POESY? MOPUP? ANTINUKE? SIDEBET was the answer? I had SIDESET. Not sure how NUB is derived. Look at some of the rows: ERN.SEN.SHUMAI, ELIS..ERIN.RBIS, SCREWY..ARP.NUB. Awful. Yesterday I had been saying this but I think it's more appropriate today: Now is the hour of my discontent...

-JN

Doc John 12:47 PM  

I agree with Art 9:18.
Lots of good fill in this puzzle- GO WEST (could have been given a Pet Shop Boys clue), SIDE BET, I REFUSE, HATED (maybe an In Living Color reference?), SCREWY, WINNIPEG, I'M BACK (maybe an Ah-nold clue?)
GSA is perfectly acceptable because it's an entity that's mentioned in the news quite a bit. OCS is also fairly common knowledge.
Unfortunately, I cannot defend KIL. Fortunately for me, I got that section on the downs so didn't even notice it until I came here.

Anonymous 1:07 PM  

OK I'll bite Mr JN:

Why is (in your opinion) MOP UP terrible fill?

-MAS

Acme 1:18 PM  

WINNIPEG is thte only place in Canada I've been to, as it's directly North of Minnesota, but that didn't stop me from misspelling it WINNePEG... As it's not MinnIsota.

And I didn't know what the Yale Whale is/was, so tough for me to see ELIS, I blame that on my strict Harvard education to block out all things Yale!

But I thought this was great... Five themes including the clever reveal... And since three of the four cracked words only had 9 letters, that is hardly a yawning chasm!!!
To argue over how wide the crack is/should be is teetering on the most ridiculous criticism yet!

Good to see HENRI as a girl-clue and not necessarily the go-to Matisse...after all, it reflects the super well-dressed and most glam of all the women puzzle constructors!

SHUMAI is perhaps of Japanese origin, but it is definitely at every dim sum place here in SF and the word definitely looks more Chinese than Japanese esp if it were SHU MAI.

@Carola, I liked the HRE bleedover, too!

Love Amy WINEHOUSE 's voice. Heartbreaking mess tho. When my Israeli raved about her years ago when her first album came out and said I must listen, I listened and saw the videos and told him she'd be dead before I had a chance to see him again.
He was so mad at me for even expressing that out loud. Sadly it was true. Look at the video @rex posted and you can already see it. Such a sad end to such a phenomenal talent.

Arby 1:27 PM  

Yeah - I don't like the word "POESY" much. Maybe it's just me.

Questinia 1:33 PM  

@ dick S, fountain pens are the only way to go. If I do one on paper I use my Churchman's Prescriptor with Noodlers Heart of Darkness or a Pelikan with stub nib and Tanzanite blue. Love the bleed.

@ MAS, if you wage war on the fruit fly just don't let happen what happened to Mr. Heisenberg on Breaking Bad. Try a yeast solution. I had to breed fruit flies in Genetics class and that's what we used to keep them happy.


Wiki Toady 1:47 PM  

Wikipedia, the one and only source for all human knowledge, has SHUMAI as being of Chinese origin, not Japanese.

Le Chat Noir 1:51 PM  

@M. Kerfuffle - Incomp├ętence incroyable! You cannot find my original video? Here it is!

Lewis 1:52 PM  

The gap between WI and SE never bothered me in the least. I just thought, "Oh. WISE is cracked apart. Cute."

I like AIRLINE crossing ZIP UP.

Puzzle was fun, and it felt like the right Tuesday bite.

Mini themes: Four words ending in two vowels, eight words with double letters.

Today's KIL is yesterday's BEI.

Bird 1:55 PM  

Had some trouble in spots, especially in the NE, so this ran difficult for me. Could not see OCS even though I’ve seen it a million times before. I started wondering if it was a new abbreviation such as INStitution or ACAdemy. When I relented and changed hUB to NUB, ANTI-NUKE jumped out at me which got me ANAIS and PACKET, then OCS.

In the end, meh.

@Questina – Don’t forget about Brooks Brothers

schmuzz 1:58 PM  

i don't feel so bad anymore…two others plus me misspelled winnipeg…

Nameless 2:03 PM  

C'mon folks, any felt tip pen will suffice when solving in the dead tree version (a ball point pen will collect fibers and eventually clog). Save the fountains for Clairefontaine or Rhodia.

KIL is awful and not used by any real scientists or engineers.

JustJoe 3:08 PM  

@M&A had a fruit fly infestation once...this worked. You will need tooth picks, piece of fruit as bait and a jar (glass or plastic) with a medium size opening with a lid (two if you want to maintain the trap 24/7). Pierce the fruit with 4 or five toothpicks so you it looks like a star. Place the fruit/picks near flie activity on a solid surface. carefully place the jar upside down sonto the toothpicks so the opening covers the fruit. Monitor the fruit and when plenty of flies are on the fruit, with the lid in one hand wave the other hand at the fruit to scare the flies. They should fly up into the jar. Place the lid on the jar securely and place in the freezer for a couple of days until flies are frozen dead. Use second jar to maintain trap if needed. I was dubious at first but it worked well and cleared up our fly problem in about a week's time.

sanfranman59 3:56 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 8:55, 8:15, 1.08, 71%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:29, 5:09, 1.06, 66%, Medium-Challenging

Benko 5:06 PM  

@acme--
I also made the mistake of spelling it WINNEPEG instead of WINNIPEG. Felt particularly stupid as I watched their Jets play my beloved Red Wings last night.
Had a lot of write overs for a Tuesday. Remember putting ANTIbomb instead of ANTINUKE and MAO instead of CHE, which I was sure was right, thinking it sounded like something out of his little red book. Oh well...

ahimsa 7:49 PM  

Cute puzzle! Thank you Paula Gamache for such a fun solving experience. I saw the WI at the start of each theme entry but not the SE on the ends. So I didn't figure out the theme until the reveal.

Thanks for the write-up, @Rex, but I gotta agree with others that WISECRACK seems just fine. Whether it's enjoyable is a matter of taste but I can't see any flaw in it. WISE is indeed cracked into pieces just like eggs or ice.

M&A, re: your "wanted MAITAI" comments, I hope by now you've had at least one. :-) These puzzles do seem to trigger cravings for food and drink. I, for one, get a chocolate craving every time I see Paula Gamache (mmmm... ganache...) in the byline.

My biggest problem was BURR crossing SHUMAI. Not knowing SHUMAI seems to be reasonably common. But for a second I thought, "Wait, Gore Vidal wrote a book about Raymond BURR?" (I'm hopeless when it comes to history) I finally remembered Aaron Burr as the "Historical subject" of the clue.

Blackeyed Susan 9:51 PM  

I have been coming to this site for nearly a year (since my new year's resolution to do the puzzle every day) and am achieving my goal of really getting better. The impossible are becoming doable, thanks to all I've learned from all of you. And I'm entertained as well - laugh out loud entertained even. But I just don't get Rex. What does he want from these constructors anyway? Today was clever and fun for most. I think he's crossed the line from edgy to sour. And what's the point of doing something that you no longer get joy out of and that irritates you besides? Does this happen to all good solvers? And if so how much longer do I have??

sanfranman59 10:39 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 6:18, 6:07, 1.03, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 8:56, 8:15, 1.08, 71%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:58, 3:46, 1.05, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:12, 5:09, 1.01, 53%, Medium

Mohair Sam 10:50 PM  

@Blackeyed Susan - My wife and I have been taking on the NYT crossword over breakfast for about 20 years now, and we've gotten pretty good at it (not like Rex and his contemporaries, but good). We still enjoy it completely - so you have at least 20 years to go before becoming a sourpuss like Rex.

ANON B 6:32 PM  

As usual, I just enjoy doing the
puzzle. I'm amazed at some of the clues that are given that I
would not have thought of.
Example:Tyler-I would never have
thought of that as a clue for CSA.
And in general, I in awe of anyone who can construct a puzzle.

J.aussiegirl 9:49 AM  

Oh yes, nice to see my hometown in the puzzle, but so many comments about mis-spellings (36D)!

@ACME 1:18 pm, you chose well......

Easy puzzle for me but my writeover was because of entering the answer for 9A in the space for 16A. Oops.

spacecraft 11:16 AM  

Wait, what day is this? TUESDAY?? Cluing OPERA with Boito??? Who outside of his (her?) immediate family knows BOITO? Yikes--or should I say OMG! Same with HENRI. A fair enough name, but Bendel?? I live in Las Vegas, home of the high-end shop--and I've never seen this one. Never heard of him either. And SHUMAI? This is supposed to be a Tuesday word?? Clearly, someone's raising the bar, and I'm too old to chin myself.

This one had three distinct personalities: the ultra-obscure as noted above, a cleverly presented and revealed theme, and a host of stale crosswordia: EPEE, ETUI, ERN, ELIS, SEN and our old friend ARP.

My SIDEBET was a SIDEBar, slowing me a bit there; PACKET isn't in that much use these days, and didn't come to me right away. And how do you take care of a fly? ZaPit, of course! Oh. THAT kind of fly.

Despite these flaws--and those hated YANKS being ATBAT, IREFUSE to totally pan a Paula. Some of the fill has much ALLURE. Say, one thumb in each direction. But as clued, it should have appeared on a Thursday.

GMG 1:13 PM  

A few odd words (SUMAI, WEI...), but, for me, a workable puzzle. Was embarrassed that I couldn't Immediately parse OCS as my Dad took the course In the '30's, leading to his military career. My DNF, however, was misspelling SISKaL, which sent me here to find out who CHa was! I sometimes don't understand my brain!

@Gimger, shouldn't we've getting some tennis soon? We dont get the Tennis Channel, and our newspaper seems to basically ignore the sport.

Cary in Boulder 1:39 PM  

For the most part this one was in my WINEHOUSE. I do so agree with ACME's assessment of Amy. Fabulous talent (and remember, I'm a music snob), but her life was a mess. Sigh.

Like the comments on the crossing of AHH with "Delta of Venus," but maybe OMG would've been better?

Thanks Steve J for the clarification of OCS. Guess I didn't know it cuz I was a Vietnam era C.O.

To Anonymous 12:44 PM: think "the nub of the matter."

I love SHUMAI. To those who've never heard of them or tried them, these dumplings are dee-lish.

Waxy in Montreal 1:55 PM  

Better half hailing from WINNIPEG, I'm not permitted to spell it incorrectly! Fun puzzle for a Tuesday providing much more crunch than usual. Glad SHUMAI was available from its crosses as it was a new term for me - sounds good, though.
Off to WInteriSE the car now as cold weather seems here to stay...

Dirigonzo 5:14 PM  

I have friends who are still adamantly and actively ANTINUKE.

The theme helped me with Amy's last name, and I needed all the crosses for several words (most of them Asian).

More puzzles like this, POR favor!

sdcheezhd 6:34 PM  

@spacecraft, check above re Boito, and @Michael Hanko, thanks for attending! My niece was in the chorus. She's in Brooklyn so got this timely, not 5 weeks later when we've all forgotten . . .

Solving in Seattle 6:44 PM  

Had to get SHUMAI and HENRI totally on crosses.

OMG, I need to ZIPUP and IREFUSE to MOPUP.

@Diri, how's the weather up there for your and your fellow YANKS? Hope you're keeping warm. Mother Nature is being SCREWY

Capcha: lyhemai. Answer from the TAIPEI immigrant when asked if he would or wouldn't tell the truth? (I know, it's a stretch.)

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