Officemate of Don Peggy on Mad Men / THU 11-14-13 / Ersatz cocoa / Eponymic Dutch city / Pat Nixon's given name / Island that's home to world's largest lizard

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Constructor: Tom McCoy

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: self-referential — theme clues / answers refer to themselves:

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Like 20-Across (PRONOUNCEABLE) 
  • 28A: Like 28-Across (UNHYPHENATED)
  • 43A: Like 43-Across (TWELVE-LETTER)
  • 52A: Like 52-Across (PENTASYLLABIC)
Word of the Day: KOMODO (25A: Island that's home to the world's largest lizard) —
Komodo is one of the 17,508 islands that compose the Republic of Indonesia. The island is particularly notable as the habitat of the Komodo dragon, the largest lizard on Earth, which is named for the island. Komodo Island has a surface area of 390 square kilometres and a human population of over two thousand. The people of the island are descendants of former convicts who were exiled to the island and who have mixed with Bugis from Sulawesi. The people are primarily adherents of Islam but there are also Christian and Hindu congregations. (wikipedia)
• • •

Easy. So easy that I didn't really fully comprehend the theme by the time I was through. I somehow imagined that the answers referred to the *clues* rather than the answers themselves. Why I thought this, after having gotten UNHYPHENATED, I don't know. "28-Across" is clearly hyphenated. Oh, I know—because "Like 43-Across" is, in fact, TWELVE-LETTER (as is the answer, TWELVE-LETTER). But then when I was done and counted out the syllables in "Like 52-Across" (6), I knew I was missing something. Took me all of a few seconds to realize what. I think this theme is clever, though a. it's a Wednesday theme, and b. PRONOUNCEABLE is just absurd. You can do better than that. Any word is PRONOUNCEABLE. Not Specific Enough. There is a smattering of crosswordese, but none of it is particularly offensive, and it's nicely unclumped (except maybe the AGAPE/AGORA and ERA / ERAT crossings). Favorite answers are VIDEO TAPE and, despite its ultra-common letters, TELL-ALL. Something about the combo of those two answers gives the puzzle a much-needed touch of titillation.


The only real trouble I had with this one came in and around PENTASYLLABIC (a word I couldn't parse until the Happy Pencil came up and I was like "???? … oh, it *is* a word). That SE corner was patchy and PENTASYLL- looked like FANTASY-something … gone wrong. Would've been done a good chunk of seconds faster had it not been for the (to my mind) terrible cluing on "LET GO!" (62A: "Gimme it!"). The "it" is my problem. You don't put the pronoun in there unless you've got some corresponding, parallel unit in the answer, which, in the case of "LET GO!," you do not have. The correct clue in this case is "Gimme!" (which is, of course, a contraction of "give it to me"—"it" included, if you really want the "it", which you shouldn't, for reasons I just explained). Precision!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

85 comments:

JFC 12:06 AM  

I waited all night to learn whether or not I should like this puzzle and I still don't know....

JFC

jae 12:13 AM  

Easy weird Thurs. No erasures, no WOEs, and no, I did not like it.

phage 12:14 AM  

While I agree "Gimme!" is a better clue, that word is, of course, most definitely a contraction of "give me," not of "give it to me." Precision!

Steve J 12:17 AM  

I can't figure out whether I think the theme is clever or inane. I like the idea of self-referential clues, but at least a couple of these seem off. Like Rex said, any word is PRONOUNCEABLE. Otherwise it wouldn't be a word. And I also thought that 28A as clue clearly is hyphenated.

And I wanted something - something - that tied the theme clues/answers together other than the self-reference.

Maybe if I look at it as a themeless that happens to have some related clues ...

Liked VIDEO TAPE (which seemed timely, with the announcement this week that Blockbuster is closing all its stores - never mind my response when reading that was, "There are still Blockbuster stores?"), INTERPLAY and KOMODO. TRYST was fantastically clued.

But, overall, the puzzle and I just really weren't in synch. I didn't feel like I had a good AHA moment.

(Aside @Rex: Twice this week you've called out answers teeming with common letters. I don't get why that's an issue. Especially since you've (rightly) criticized Scrabblef**king before. I don't get why a quality answer is problematic based on the letters that comprise it. The letters shouldn't make a difference, only the quality of the fill. At least from my perspective.)

Evan 12:19 AM  

Had the same reaction with PRONOUNCEABLE. I sorta wish the theme answers were entirely unique to themselves -- like, UNHYPHENATED doesn't have a hyphen but the others (like TWELVE-LETTER) do. Barring that, perhaps each theme entry could have some relationship to another one, like the fact that both UNHYPHENATED and PENTASYLLABIC are unhyphenated and pentasyllabic, though there's no such connection between PRONOUNCEABLE and TWELVE-LETTER except that they're both pronounceable (which, as mentioned above, would be a weak sorta connection).

One of my easier Thursday solve times, so there's that. A pretty clean grid too, so there's that too. I probably would have finished faster if I hadn't initially written in PEN before HEM, BEMUSES (?) before BEMOANS, and QUEENING (?!!!) before QUESTING. Yeah. That mistake actually happened.

Evan 12:25 AM  

Also, a small nit: the clue for UGH is a bit strange. If it were in brackets or quotations marks it would make more sense, because then it would be clear that you're going for a sound. The way it's clued makes it look like it's identical in a sentence where it isn't, as in, "I give this movie a big thumbs down." You wouldn't say "I give this movie an UGH." Well, maybe you would, if you were a critic whose shtick was rating movies by UGHs and YAYs, but here it just looks bizarre.

Anonymous 12:47 AM  

Did any of you know that SPELLABLE was spellable?
That READABLE was readable?

Pete 12:59 AM  

After solving this puzzle I have a strange urge to purchase a ticket to Moab, buy a Barbie outfit and pray that DK shoots me.

Agora Carob Modems 1:39 AM  

Same problem with others that PRONOUNCEABLE seems a bit arbitrary and vague and I needed one more overall arching theme to tie things together rather than it's just a meta-thing.
Feel like I've seen self-referential ones that were more clever.

Like @Rex, I also thought faNTASY when I had just
--NTASY------, was shocked that it was something else.

Rarely feel this way, but this was more UGH than AHA for me.

Tho I liked the Dentist saying OPEN crossing AGAPE (right, @Carola?)

Two writeovers oleO for MAYO, RIP/REL.
Bothered by REL/TEL crossing and TEL next to TELLALL.


Liked learning about KOMODO tho, didn't know it was a place. Reminds me of Sharon Stone's Ex, pompous SF Chronicle publisher getting his toe bitten off by one.

ESP 1:51 AM  

I appreciate the playfulness of this theme but don't think it was taken far enough.

How about throwing in some misdirection by cross-referencing the themers with other grid entries rather than themselves? Or have them all cross-reference each other like a mobius strip?

okanaganer 1:53 AM  

Got PRONOUNCEABLE early on, and thought oooh!..this is going to be a fun and clever theme. Something to do with PRONOUNS or OUNCEs? Or maybe all the theme answers will link up to make a haiku riddle, or something. Because, as y'all have pointed out, PRONOUNCEABLE in itself is just... well... nothing

Are there words that are not pronounceable? Well some Hungarian city names are pretty close. "I would like a ticket from Hódmezővásárhely to Hajdúböszörmény, please."

John Child 2:11 AM  

Theme did nothing for me, in all senses. I did not find this interesting, and I didn't find it easy due to the four long answers that were without clues - Friday time for me on a puzzle that wasn't much fun. Blech.

Davis 2:44 AM  

Rex, I feel the need to point out that "Like 43-Across" is not TWELVE-LETTER. It's ten letters and two numbers.

Carola 2:55 AM  
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Carola 3:06 AM  

Like others, SIR Carola spent much fruitless time during a fairly long HIKE through the grid QUESTING for an AHA. At the TWELVE-LETTER point, I got the idea that the entries were self-referential, and I liked PENTASYLLABIC for the sound and look of it. Also thought TELL ALL, SNEAKERS, DEMUR, and BEMOANS were nice. Like yesterday's recipe, I appreciated having a "different" theme (not remembering any previous self-referential ones) but somehow didn't find this one so much fun to solve.

@acme - Nice! I hadn't seen that.

@Davis - I think the idea is that the entry itself (not the clue) has twelve letters.

@Steve J - I know we're not supposed to be political here, but do you think there's a hidden message in the backwards-running EXEC ROMNEY: UGH sequence? (Just kidding - sorry, couldn't resist!)

D'oh 3:11 AM  

@Davis.- but TWELVE LETTER is 12 letters.

Jisvan 3:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Davis 3:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Davis 3:29 AM  

@Carola and @D'oh — I realize that. But look what Rex says in the post:

Oh, I know—because "Like 43-Across" is, in fact, TWELVE-LETTER (as is the answer, TWELVE-LETTER).

Rex claims that the phrase "Like 43-Across" is also TWELVE-LETTER, but that only works by counting numbers as letters.

Anonymous 4:22 AM  

Rex no longer likes anything. Lighten up, man!

Masked and Pronounceable 5:41 AM  

Woke up in middle of the night, stewin about that there PRONOUNCEABLE themer. Just don't see it -- like so many other fine solver folks here. Seems kinda like an entry of HASFIVEUUUUUS would be stronger, somehow. Yeah, that's the ticket. Or maybe ENDSWITHPEWIT. Nope. Like my first choice better. MUUMUULICIOUS, perhaps...

Fun debut, but weirder even than yer average Headless Dude crossword. Weird is good, cept when you wake up screamin. Ude needs his beauty sleep...

M&A

Danp 6:19 AM  

I also thought the answers referred to the clues. If the editor had left the hyphen out of 28-Across, that might have been true. But then "Like 43-Across" had to be twentyletter, and I'm still left wondering why the "like" sometimes is needed and sometimes is not. 52-A is pentasyllabic, 43-A is 16 letters and needs the like to make 20. Still that was where I had trouble finishing.

loren muse smith 7:12 AM  

I couldn't let go of "jousting" for QUESTING and hence had a big dnf because of the dead center. I don't think I've read Willa Cather since required reading in middle school with Mr. Lackey.

I still knew "jousting" was wrong because I had the four themers. It took me a while to get it, but this one really grew on me.

PRONOUNCEABLE, agreed, is the weak link here. UNHYPHENATED is just a bit better, but TWELVE LETTER and PENTASYLLABIC are way cool the more I think about them. How about

SPELLED OUT
HAS FIVE VOWELS
COMPOUND NOUN
FRANCAIS


@Re – I missed the "it" in "gimme it," so I plopped "leggo" right in.

I think I've seen a "rack locale" or some sort of kind of clue/entry from BEQ with a very different take. (Last Thursday in his and Joon's "Taking the Fifth" puzzle, they had a brilliant clue for ERECT, by the way. 52D.

@Acme – me, too, for wanting "fantasy." I have never heard PENTASYLLABIC and then I switched to thinking PEN as in "penultimate."

Hey - PENULTIMATE could have been the next-to-last themer.

@Evan – I noticed that other problem, too – aside from the fact that they all could have been clued "like 20A" – 28A UNHYPHENATED could have also been clued as "like 52A."

Tom – impressive debut. Congrats. I'm going to ponder this theme for the rest of the day. That's the sign of a good puzzle IMHO.

NYer 7:21 AM  

Since I finished with one of my fastest times for a Thursday, I rated this easy.

Everyone should take a clue from Jeff Chen (xwordinfo.com) on how to critique a puzzle.

Nice debut, Tom McCoy. Thanks!

Mohair Sam 7:31 AM  

@rex and @phage: A third contender for "gimme", It could be a contraction of the term "Give it me" commonly used in England. More precise, actually.

Nice puzzle but a day late (just like yesterday). Maybe Will Shortz took Veteran's Day off?

And yeah, let me join the grumbling group on PRONOUNCABLE.

Carola 7:51 AM  

@Davis - Ah, I see. I should have read more carefully.

r.alphbunker 8:18 AM  

A word that describes itself is called autological. A word that does not describe itself is called heterological (for example "long" is heterological). The Grelling-Nelson paradox ponders whether "heterological" is heterological.

BTW, our old friend OLDE is autological.

Gill I. P. 8:22 AM  

Well, at least this was different.
Hand up for fanTASY [something] and not knowing KOMODO was an island.
Would someone please tell me how you pronounce Joe BTFSPLK....
@Pete - haha. Wouldn't you rather go as Ken?
@LMS...I had Duelling (I'm not sure that's a word) Never heard of PENTASYLLABIC and didn't know THELMA.
At one point I thought 007 might be the themer.
HEY, speaking of, where is @chefwen. She and @Tita have been AWOL.....

cascokid 8:25 AM  

My PET peeve was QUESTING, a gerund of a verification. I resisted it for style until ILLS appeared and GEMS was just sparkly enough to force it on me. The south shore was a 30 minute excavation, by itself.

The self referential theme was self evident, self conscious, and self absorbed. It felt like standing in line next to a raging egoist of modest actual merit. Sadly for me, the line was 30 minutes longer than necessary.

joho 8:26 AM  

Oddly I got the "theme" at PENTASYLLABIC. I dutifully counted the syllables and, yep, sure enough, there are five. Check!

Same drill at TWELVELETTER. Counted the letters and, yep, check!

Nothing to count at UNHYPHENATED except the missing HYPHEN.

Wait a minute! PRONOUNCEABLE is PRONOUNCEABLE I know because I PRONOUNCEd it! Check!

I guess in the end I really like the attempt to be fresh and different but I missed the glue that didn't hold this theme together.

Did love BOND/ALIAS, TELLALL next to TRYSTS and LIEDTO, the QUESTING SIR and yes, @Carola, I was going to say take your pick next to ROMNEY, either EXEC or UGH!

I admire the originality of this one but think it fell a little short.

Congratulations on your debut, Tom McCoy!

Alex Vratsanos 8:28 AM  

Hey everyone. I realize this is a little late, but I have a puzzle for a very series date here: http://www.chem.umn.edu/groups/baranygp/puzzles/getseries/.

And guess who?: http://www.chem.umn.edu/groups/baranygp/puzzles/guesswho/.

Hope you enjoy these,

Alex Vratsanos

P.S. Kudos to Mr. McCoy, as it may not have been easy to find good self-descriptive entries like these.

baja 8:30 AM  

Call this a 3 am puzzle. Thing seem funnier/wackier at 3 am. I can't think of an idea, so lets go for literal. Pronounceable is pronounceable but barely.

Susan McConnell 8:34 AM  

Loved the first two comments by JFC and jae, have to agree with them both. Best part of this pretty-easy-for-a-Thursday puzzle was reading Evan's comment about "queening"...>snort!<

AliasZ 8:37 AM  

I love a clever self-referential theme, and this was not one of them. A better answer to 20A would have been UNINTERESTING. It fits too.

Since speech came way before writing, every word ever written down anywhere on any medium from clay tablets, vellum, parchment and computer screens, is PRONOUNCEABLE. In that sense, pronounceable is also PRONOUNCEABLE, along with all other, perhaps hundreds of millions if not billions of, words ever spoken by humankind since the appearance of homo sapiens on earth.

For me World Wide Web is less PRONOUNCEABLE than @okanaganer's Hódmezővásárhely and Hajdúböszörmény, or Berettyóújfalu and Püspökladány. One has to assume then that "to an English-only speaker" is to be inferred because this is an English language puzzle.

In my mind, the theme was not Thursday-worthy. But I liked the PENTASYLLABIC INTERPLAY QUAYS, the QUESTING KOMODO VIEDOTAPE SNEAKERS and the demure DEMUR.

PostPONE is what comes after johnnycakes.

In closing, let's listen to this beautiful piece by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, Valse TRYSTS as it should be heard, and as only maestro Stokowski can do it.

Davidph 8:44 AM  

My favorite non-trivial example of a self-descriptive word is 'euphemism'. It's a nice way of saying 'lie'.

I've liked self-descriptive words ever since reading Godel, Escher, Bach many years ago. Hofstadter uses them to illustrate paradoxes: is 'non-self-descriptive' non-self-descriptive? Well, if it is, then it isn't; and if it isn't, then it is; and OMG I'm such a nerd.

OISK 8:49 AM  

Played more like a Wednesday for me, especially the top half. Wrote "oleo" instead of "mayo" down at the bottom, which held me up for a while. The theme doesn't do much for me, and we have had far more amusing, interesting Thursdays, but overall a fine puzzle. Well done, Mr. McCoy, and not a SINGLE "wha??" answer. ( which for me includes just about any reference to any popular music written after 1970)

Z 9:09 AM  

Uh...Wow?!?

@r.alphbunker - thank you. Nice to know that the themers are all "autological." That word does sound vaguely Fifty Shades of Grayish though. I had never heard of Grelling, Nelson, or Weyl before today, so I learned something.

I came at PENTASYLLABIC from the rear end so wondered which prefix meaning "six" would fit. I also wondered (very very very briefly) how a remake titled THELMA and ROMNEY would do on VIDEOTAPE. Or maybe it would just be released as a cellphone video....

Beer Rating - Mead.

BTW - Litsoft posted about the "2" problem the other day. Someone forgot to tell the software that there was going to be a rebus it seems.

Norm 9:22 AM  

Pointless is pointless, and so was this puzzle.

@Pete: Thanks for the laugh.

Jim in Chicago 9:25 AM  

Worst...week...ever. This is a Tuesday puzzle at best.

John V 9:40 AM  

Fun, okay, very easy, easy week. Congrats on the debut, Tom. Thanks, Will, for a different look on s Thursday.

chefbea 9:56 AM  

It's all been said!!! Think I'll go spread some oleo (had that at first) on my Johnny cake and heat it up on the rack. And of course have some cocoa.

r.alphbunker 10:02 AM  

@AliasZ
It has been noted that the abbreviation for World Wide Web, WWW, has six syllables which is three more than the phrase it is abbreviated. But WWW is easy to type which is what is important.

lawprof 10:09 AM  

For those who think that EVERY word is pronounceable, just try driving through Wales and reading the road signs.

jberg 10:10 AM  

OK, not great puzzle - ultimately, I didn't like the theme. It's so hard that it becomes easy. That is, I doubt if anyone looked at 52A and thought, "hmm .. I wonder if PENTASYLLABIC would fit in there ..." No. So you have to get the theme answerw from crosses, and by the time you have enough crosses to get them, they are very easy (at least, if you restrained your self from writing in 'fantasy' prematurely). So it's kind of clever in finding the words, but needs some better way of using them.

My problem with "gimme" is that I thought it was cluing "LEgGO!" I spent too much time trying to make sense of ABEgS before I figured that one out.

I don't think real knights spent much time QUESTING, but I guess we are dealing with King Arthur here.

Z 10:20 AM  

If this had been published on a Tuesday my beer rating would have been appreciably better.

Speaking of beer, I've had chocolate stouts (yummy) but never a CAROB anything. Considering that even jalapeño has found its way into beer, I'm a little surprised.

Isn't our old crossword friend e coli a danger if you leave MAYO out in the kitchen.

captcha - soolver - O'Leary's cow?

Bob Kerfuffle 10:36 AM  

Reminded me of a Sunday puzz of a few years ago (someone may be able to pinpoint), where every theme clue was "This one . . .", and the answers included RUNSFROMLEFTTORIGHT, HASHOWEVERMANYLETTERS, and many others, better but I can't recall.

My one write=over today puts me in the OLEO/MAYO group.

Two Ponies 10:36 AM  

Congrats on the debut but I'm sorry Tom, this was joyless.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:38 AM  

Of course, that would have been THGIROTTFELMORFSNUR.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:40 AM  

Or READS FROM RIGHT TO LEFT, written backwards! Too confusing!

Ellen S 10:44 AM  

What everybody else said, except I had more writeovers. I enjoyed PENTASYLLABIC.

@chefbea, take a look at @Susan McConnell's new avatar. I think yours might be in danger if you don't put it up out of reach.

quilter1 10:46 AM  

Oleo before mayo but otherwise sailed through. I won't repeat all the comments/opinions already given. On to BEQ.

retired_chemist 10:59 AM  

Meh. Not much to learn, not a lot of excitement in answers or clues. Bot on balance OK.

Thanks, Mr. McCoy.

Steve J 11:00 AM  

@lawprof: And yet Welsh speakers seem to have no problem pronouncing the words on those signs.

(Again, by definition, all words are PRONOUNCEABLE. They may not be pronounceable by all humans, but they're all pronounceable by speakers of the language from which the words come.)

@Carola: Heh on the ROMNEY/EXEC note. I'm obviously (well, I hope it's obvious) cool with those kinds of observations; it was just the silly, unproductive back-and-forth that was going on a couple nights ago that I had issue with.

I see a lot of people had OLEO for MAYO. I had a writeover there that I'm pretty certain was unique to me: WAYO. Because I for some reason thought HEW was the right word at 56D. It's not quite as weird as Evan's QUEENING (maybe the knights played a lot of chess?), but I'm guessing it's as unusual.

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

Rex, you're getting cynical. Take some time off please!

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

@r.alphbunker: WWW is a real mouthful in Britain - double-u double-u double-u....

MetaRex 12:11 PM  

The ESE count today is an average 58 1/2, compared to yesterday's low 47 1/2.

That's interesting, considering the comparative mellowness of OFL on today's ESE and his fieriness yesterday.

So...which puzz is ese-ier? The MetaRexian line (which steals from Bill James and his baseball stat stuff) is here...

Rgrant50 12:15 PM  

So easy I feel cheated. I want my Thursday puzzle.

dk 12:33 PM  

I always ask: "What would Charles Portis do?" when I consider contractions and then I do not.

When I see fill like 52A I do say: 21D.

My wish is I could spell KOMODO without a T.

This one is very easy for a Thursday -- but I was spared one of those gosh darn rebus things.

♜♜ (2 rooks in support of @Rgrant50)

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

Interesting, high level theme. "Self-referential" is more technically called "autological" - an adjective that refers to itself. "Heterlogical" adjectives (such as "deadly") don't refer to themselves: The adjective deadly is not a deadly thing. These definitions are used in a "lite" version of Bertrand Russel's famous paradox in set theory (which I won't go into here). The paradox is, is the adjective "heterological" autological or heterological. Think about it...

Bird 1:47 PM  

Sorry, but I did not like today’s puzzle. The theme is more silly than clever and I agree with Rex on PRONOUNCEABLE. Took a long time to get the theme answers as I didn’t know all the crosses (tough/vague cluing, obscure stuff I didn’t know or even care to know). In the end I stopped trying to solve as the joy was gone.

Too many write-overs made the paper a mess. Especially in the SE: OLEO/WARE/MAYO (even tried to complete *ANO as I had INTEL PLAN, if that’s a thing, at 33D).
Does anyone say “The Series”? I don’t.
I didn’t know QUESTING was a word. I thought they went on a quest.

Dubya 1:48 PM  

WWW is pronounced dubya-dubya-dubya

gringa 1:49 PM  

Hello all. My first post - late out here on the west coast.

I agree with Rex. This week has been wretched. Very few smiles or giggles all week.

One consolation is that reading the blog and all of your lunatic rants is usually at least as fun as doing the puzzle.


For example:
Yesterday, you all demonstrated that you clearly have way too much time on your hands but I was so happy to get the cake/pizza cutting quandary solved once and for all.

gifcan 2:11 PM  

Plop, plop, plop, the answers went in easily for me. Tuesdayish.

Liked the clue for TRYSTS.

Shouldn't there be an 's' at the end of TWELVELETTER?

Gimme it suggests LEgGO.

Still, thank you McCoy, I'll pick no feud with you.

D'oh 2:42 PM  

@Davis -- D'oh! Sorry.

chefbea 2:47 PM  

@EllenS thanks for the warning. Maybe I should go back to the beet avatar!!

Lewis 3:09 PM  

I liked the last two theme answers, but the first two are just too inclusive -- they could apply to any answer in the puzzle. I would have scrapped this puzzle (sadly) if I couldn't think of better answers, and started something new.

I found many of the clues hard -- the kind of hard that comes from not being on my wavelength rather than not remembering or knowing a piece of information. For instance, it took me seemingly forever to get GEMS from "sparklers". "Some trails" took a long time too, and there were others.

@acme -- good catch on the OPEN/AGAPE cross!

I like the rhyming crosses PETE/METE, SPUR/DEMUR.

Lewis 3:11 PM  

Well, TWELVELETTER and PENTASYLLABIC can be hyphenated but don't have to be, IMO.

DigitalDan 3:44 PM  

I like any puzzle with QUAY in it. Such a great word.

sanfranman59 3:46 PM  

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

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

Thu 12:31, 16:44, 0.75, 9%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 7:48, 9:43, 0.80, 15%, Easy

retired_chemist 4:05 PM  

@ Lewis - make that SIR/SPUR/DEMUR

Zuleika Dobson 6:33 PM  

Thank you, Tom McCoy for a refreshingly different Thursday, i.e. doable for a novice. Some interesting
GEMS, such as Shakespeare as ACTOR.

A must-read: Bryson On Shakespeare. Charming. It's so good that when you finish it, you turn back to page one and start all over again.

Some solvers want 'their Thursday back.' I say, fine to have a bit of a relaxing solve on a Thursday.

@Dubya...WWW- beg to differ, no it ain't. wrote a poem in 2000 on behalf of poor "W" the letter, defending its pronunciation.

@ Carola- "I know we're not supposed to be political here..." ?
In a blog that has as it subjects everything under the sun, as well as political answers: DEM, president's names,nicknames, IKE, ABE, HST, and today,ROMNEY, a political post is out? Makes no sense. Although I did not follow @ Steve J's apparent dust-up, why not skip over political comments the same way some of us must try awfully hard to bypass the overly sentimental, self-infatuated and constant self-reverential diaries, pogo-stick eulogies and all? Hi Mom, hi Dad.

Unless Rex decreed it, and how would such a broad-minded, educated individual put a hold on any open dialogue on his great blog, where he introduces any and all music, food, science, and all other topics of interest. What is so verboten about being political?

I say, now more than ever...

And, I don't know about you, but I absolutely have to write down all my TRYSTS, to keep track...

@ August...I always love a gentleman who knows how to tender a decent apology. You can apologize to me anytime, and I will accept.

ZD

name left blank 10:36 PM  

Unsatisfyingly quick for a Thursday and quickly unsatisfying. Might have been interesting if the theme answers were words like SELF-REFERENTIAL, AUTOLOGICAL, or even UNHELPFUL CLUE (willing to live with the paradox here). As it was, figuring out the theme did not in any way help me to arrive at the theme answers.

sanfranman59 10:52 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 6:03, 6:06, 0.99, 45%, Medium
Tue 7:59, 8:15, 0.97, 39%, Easy-Medium
Wed 8:31, 9:44, 0.88, 22%, Easy-Medium
Thu 12:31, 16:44, 0.75, 9%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:46, 1.01, 54%, Medium
Tue 4:46, 5:09, 0.93, 21%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:09, 5:37, 0.92, 27%, Easy-Medium
Thu 7:17, 9:43, 0.75, 9%, Easy

Ellen S 1:01 AM  

@Zuleika Dobson, I didn't recollect that you actually had any TRYSTS, at least not that resulted in anything worth writing down. Except the denouement, but didn't that all sort of happen at once?

Sigh. I'm afraid I'm going to get all overly sentimental and self-infatuated here. My father made me read your story, or, rather, "strongly urged me". Not too many years before that he had even more strongly urged me to get some kind of makeover that would result in my looking "groomed" and sophisticated like Grace Kelly. (I couldn't ever have looked like Grace Kelly if I had the whole MAYO Clinic working on my case.) So all of a sudden, maybe 40 years later, it occurs to me maybe there was a message in his recommending your story, dear Zuleika. If I had only combed my hair better, I could have drowned a whole college rowing team. Darn.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:28 AM  

Kind of a science guy here. Would you literary types believe I had never, ever heard of Zuleika Dobson? Number 59 on the list of 100 greatest novels!

Once more, the wonderful things that can be learned from this blog!

Thank you.

John Updike 9:07 AM  

So sad ....does no one else remember "The Komono Dragon Show" and Bob and Ray?

andy 12:30 PM  

you guys are too kind. The theme is like 6-down, ALOSER

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

Man, this is a tough crowd. I thought the puzz was neato, interesting and fresh. Easy? Yes, but why not. Are there certain laws which demand an almost unsolvable creation on Thursdays? Were there any mistakes in today's puzzle? Yes, but so what. Is anyone or anything perfect??
Gimmee a break.

Ron Diego 7:30 AMPST 12/19/13

spacecraft 10:58 AM  

Not feeling well this AM, so it'll be short. I thought the whole idea was silly. Fill was OK, I guess; there just seemed no point.

Not sure if both ALIAS and AKA appearing in the same grid deserves a flag, but I won't bother. See you guys tomorrow.

rain forest 1:39 PM  

The easy week continues with a different sort of "theme" which, ultimately, I like. When I realized the answers were autological, self-referential, or self-descriptive, I admired the effort. No smile or snicker, but I don't need that.

I thought the fill was pretty good, and I really didn't notice much crosswordese. I'm not sure I would consider 007 to be an ALIAS, though.

Btw, 'ophthalmologist' may be PRONOUNCEABLE, but few people can prove it.

@Spacey Get better, and no flagging. You don't want to be under the weather for Christmas.

Dirigonzo 3:48 PM  

I'm too lazy to be bothered with counting letters or syllables so it wasn't until I arrived here that I learned the theme clues applied to the answers in the grid, not the clues themselves - although I was a little troubled by UNHYPHENATED, I was willing to blame that on an error in printing the clue. How did THELMA Nixon become "Pat", I wonder?

@spacecraft - I'll add my get-well wishes for a speedy recovery. I'll have a hot toddy on your behalf.

Ginger 4:19 PM  

Once again, spelling (or lack there-of) messed me up. KiMOri, KOniMI, ah, alas. In the end, all is well.

@Spacey, hope you feel better.

On to the weekend, where I usually get my come-up-ence.

DMG 6:11 PM  

Listen up! What a bunch of grumps. Someone writes a nice puzzle and offers it for your enjoyment, and how do you respond? Not very nicely, I'm afraid. How many of you could create a puzzle of this quality? I know I couldn't.

As for the puzzle, I liked it, and thought the theme answers said just exactly what the clues stated, tho I did have trouble with PENTASYLLABIC, wanted one "l" until it just had to be two.

@spacecraft: hope you feel better soon.

Captcha is all numbers, some of which look bigger than the rest. Capital numbers? Here goes.....

Cary in Boulder 7:43 PM  

Eyjafjallajökull. Erupted in 2010.

That's al I have to say (if I could say it).

Solving in Seattle 1:33 PM  

Did the puz on Thursday but no tome to post... so, hope the theme didn't make @Spacy feel bad. And you were just the excuse @Diri needed.

I did it, but didn't really get it. I think each of the four long dudes were exclusively self-referential. If there was more than that, and they were part of a common second dimensional theme that only Mensa types understood, then leave me out of that bus.

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