Best friend of Thomas Tank Engine / TUE 6-3-14 / Deli counter cheese brand / 3 or 5 series car in slang / Brand with tagline Established in Milwaukee 1844

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Constructor: Susan Gefland

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Tuesday*)

THEME: ALL THE TRIMMINGS (60A: What Thanksgiving turkey may come with … as suggested by parts of 17-, 22-, 38- and 51-Across?) — final words of theme answers are kinds of trimming:

Theme answers:
  • PABST BLUE RIBBON (17A: Brand with the tagline "established in Milwaukee 1844")
  • SPINAL CORD (22A: Part of the back)
  • LUNATIC FRINGE (38A: Extremist group)
  • ALPINE LACE (51A: Deli counter cheese brand)

Word of the Day: ALPINE LACE 
Alpine Lace® Deli Swiss Cheese is made with patience, passion and meticulous attention to detail in an area that's known as the 'Little Switzerland of the Rocky Mountains'.
The fertile Magic Valley of Southern Idaho, with its jagged mountains and lush, green pastures, has a climate and elevation closely resembling Switzerland.
It is here, in Magic Valley, where Alpine Lace® Deli Swiss Cheese is made following award-winning, cheese-making traditions. Deliciously healthy Alpine Lace® Deli Cheese is made with pure and natural wholesome ingredients. It is a premium cheese made simply and honestly. (some ad site I found somewhere on the internet)
• • •

I was loving this bouncy Tuesday offering until I got all twisted around in the bottom half of the grid, in and around proper nouns I simply didn't know (two of them, on a Tuesday—quite odd). Not having ever heard of ALPINE LACE before really, really slowed me down—to the point where I had ALPINE -ACE and made an educated guess at the RRN™ (Random Roman Numeral) there in the crossing (LVI). Never having heard of this answer all of a sudden made every answer around it harder to get. Thought the "Series" in [3 or 5 Series car, in slang] was some specific race, so needed many crosses to see BEEMER. Knew AINGE but went looking for a team name in the adjacent answer (55D: 54-Down was one), and without the themers, -A-ER really looked like LAKER (though AINGE played for the Celtics, so it didn't feel right—but olde-timey clue-crosswordese CAGER was not on my radar at that point). Had RCA for MCA for a bit (64D: Longtime record label). Things just got boggy. Still finished under 4, but  just barely—noticeably slower than normal for a Tuesday. I remain a fan of this puzzle—the ALPINE LACE part of it all just kept it from elating me the way it looked like it might early on. This has so much more zip than yesterday's. A very nice easy (-ish) puzzle.

Check out the nice, reasonably contemporary long Downs on this one. I mean, CYBERPUNK's been around for at least 30 years and ENCRYPTED a hell of a lot longer, but they both still *feel* very current. It's a very Scrabbly Tuesday, but with none of that pathetic straining after pangrammitude. Hence, the fill is tight and clean *and* entertaining. Even short stuff like TVTRAY and BULKY have a certain liveliness about them. I tried to watch "Pineapple EXPRESS" this morning, but about fifteen minutes in, a couple things happened: first, I got kind of bored, and second, I realized that I had this movie confused with "The Darjeeling Limited." I kept wondering when Seth Rogen and James Franco were going to stop getting high and get on the train already. I think the clue for PERCY was pretty brutal. Unless you've currently got young kids in your house, how in the world are you supposed to remember all of Thomas's damned friends. I can't even remember ALEXA, and she's in the puzzle every month or so.

Only "faults" I'd point out are S-STAR (69A: Relatively cool red giant) (dislike all letter-STARs; crutch fill) and REIN sharing the grid with REINE, which isn't even a violation. Just more shared DNA than you want in any two answers, ideally.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Heide 12:04 AM  

I was perfectly willing to accept the possibility that Nero lived in 1006 just to avail myself of the possiblity of purchasing some ALPINEMACE. You know, in case I ever run into som Nazi masher or something.

Anonymous 12:07 AM  

" . . . but with none of that pathetic straining after pangrammitude."

Yeah, you made it very clear yesterday that you didn't like yesterday's puzzle. Might be time to move on because you're starting to seem vindictive and whiny.

jae 12:07 AM  

Medium-tough for me too.  Some zippy theme answers (gotta love PBR) along with two nice long downs makes for a fine Tues.  Liked this quite a bit.  

nbaER before CAGER and @Rex rCA before MCA

SE could be tough if you don't know BBall players and Belgian painters.  Both of those I know only from crosswords.

Steve J 12:30 AM  

One of the tougher Tuesdays I can recall in a while. Tripped myself up with rCA instead of MCA as well (although that quickly corrected itself), and with a cHIN guard instead of a SHIN guard. Couldn't figure out what C_REW could possibly be, other than Rod Carew, who did not fit the clue at all. Finally erased the corner and got it back together.

Theme answers are all nice, even if I did not get the theme for quite a while even after I had the revealer filled in. I'm not a crafts person, so I didn't make the association of those the types of things you can trim stuff with.

A second consecutive good, solid, lively early-week puzzle free of any significant dreck. I like how the week's starting out.

Elle54 2:16 AM  

Alpine Lace is available here in Chicago. Not East Coast, maybe.?

SEC 2:49 AM  

Any puzzle that starts out with NRC at 1A gets a big thumbs down from me.

SEC 2:50 AM  

Ahem, NCR.

chefwen 3:12 AM  

A tricky little Tuesday that I thoroughly enjoyed. Asked Mr. Sports Authority about 54D and he refused to help me. This is when I learned that Monday and Tuesday is a competition and not a collaboration. News to me. I still won. Ha Ha!

Being a die hard cheese head, 17A was my first fill. Underage beer drinking is HUGE in WI, we used to say "don't forget to bring the PBRB". The beer of choice for us renegades. Ah, memories!

JTHurst 3:19 AM  

Wow, what a great puzzle. I feel sorry for those of you who could not get past the 'NCR' clue. It was like a Donnie and Marie song, a little bit hard and a little bit easy.

Of course PBR fell out of the puzzle immediately, I remember slogging a weekend pail for the 'old man' and combining with a 'po boy', allusions to turkey and swiss cheese with a 'TV Tray', and having a 'pee', no wonder there was a sloth clue. You add to that vixen or trans vixen, whichever your preference, coupled with screw and hyena, we are cooking' now. Throw in references to Kill Bill - II, Owsley Stanley, and One, Two, Three - Thomas Friends. Well then no wonder Lunatic Fringe is the center of this puzzle.

Way to go Susan, best puzzle of the month, its got 'all of the trimmings'. You are the "Reine".

Anonymous 3:42 AM  

I am getting bored with the predictable entries. Not on the long words, but the fill. Getting to be like old chewing gum. The puzzle too often feels edited to a tight vocabulary rather than a creative word game.

Danp 5:11 AM  

Alpine Lace is common all over. It's a trademark of Land-O-Lakes, but it's kinda like Dietz and Watson. You have to occasionally shop in that part of the grocery store to recognize it.

wislon 6:38 AM  

NCR crosses NAPES, and napes is clued very strangely. This left me perplexed. I had to cheat to get the N.

And I'm wondering, why not a V instead? Two great clues:

1A: Where to use old tape?
1D: Smokes inside, e.g.

r.alphbunker 6:38 AM  

Finished confident of LACE because it was part of the theme. Was on my own for 67A {Nat ___ (cable channel)} and had GEe/ENSeR at the end. It is obvious now that it is National Geographic's station.

Gill I. P. 6:45 AM  

AINGE who? ALPINE LACE what? PEE why? Yikes, I struggled with this one too...Some good stuff though especially CYBERPUNK.
Had BUmPS - left it and Thomas' best friend is now PEmCY.
PABSTBR is probably the reason I dislike beer so much. That stuff is vile. I remember drinking it and getting hiccups that lasted about 3 days.
Oh, was also glad that CALI wasn't an abbr. for California.
Good work-out and I learned about a cheese I didn't know...

George Barany 6:49 AM  

Susan Gelfand favors us with a strong theme and interesting fill. CAGER Danny AINGE brings back memories of his relatively brief career in major league baseball, as a phenom with the Blue Jays.

For those of you still looking for a crossword challenge, try Not the Retiring Sort. Although constructed for a special occasion, specific knowledge about its honoree is not needed to solve it [click here for a presentation in which this hint is not as obvious].

Anonymous 7:02 AM  

Hahaha, anyone who was ever parent of a boy who spent as much time playing with trains as mine did would never forget Percy. Don't know how I knew about Alpine Lace since I live in a Manhattan and only visit grocery stores when on vacation.

Rex needs to regain a sense of humor. Caustic can be entertaining when you are humorous, but sometimes he is just plain nasty as evidenced by his not getting over Monday.

Get a grip. Crossword puzzles are only a time wasting game. If you're no longer enjoying them they are other more productive things to do with your brain than fill it full of trivia to solve puzzles.

Glimmerglass 7:23 AM  

Why, Rex, does a long unknown word,or phrase keep the puzzle from elating you? That is exactly what makes a crossword fun for me. One has to PUZZLE out the unknown pieces. Not knowing something is not a reflection on your intelligence. No one knows everything. Is it a blow to your ego that you are not omniscient? ALPINE LACE happens to be a gimme for me (I often buy it). Does that make smarter/better than you? No, it doesn't.

Mohair Sam 7:36 AM  

Really liked this one. Reading the posts here (and Rex) it seems to have given resistance to different solvers at different places. Neat stuff.

Loved the POBOY clue, hand up from stumbling at rCA/MCA, and we wanted Lye instead of LSD.

I always thought "the trimmings" meant stuff like gravy and stuffing, not lace and a fringe. Learn something every day.

Clearly Rex (and others here) rarely stand in line at the deli counter in the local supermarket. ALPINELACE earns a front location in most coolers - I've stared at it for hours. Good cheese, btw, and we had no idea it was from Idaho. More new knowledge.

Z 7:38 AM  

My favorite was Mr. Conductor, played by Ringo Starr and the George Carlin. I did not remember PERCY, but it has been a long time since we watched Shining Time Station.

Was blowing through this at faster than a Monday pace until I ran into PERCY, the south was more Wednesdayish. Had rCA like everyone else it seems, ALEXA BURPS (coming soon to Comedy Central) were both WOEs, I fell for the hero misdirect, wondering how to fit Andrew Jackson into five letters, could not remember my over priced bottled water, and ENSOR is so close to ENdOR that I wondered if a certain moon was named for a Belgian painter.

Was a little shocked to see Rex trying to trademark my lazy coinage of RRN. I'll have to sue him for all the proceeds.

I see HELGA was clued by the now famous NC Wyeth's son.

@JTHurst - Great interpretation.

Billy 7:49 AM  

Tuesday??? wtf??! Big ATM maker is something I recall from other puzzles, and no matter how many times I see it, I'll never ever remember such a useless piece of info. Just have never had the desire to shop for atm machines, I guess. Never heard of ALPINE LACE, PERCY, or SSTARs.
Also, Rex, I wish you'd stop saying challenging **for a Monday/Tuesday**, everyone knows it's easier at the start of the week and it just sounds as if you're saying "it's not challenging for ME, of course."

Z 7:59 AM  

National Cash Register. ATMs seem a natural outgrowth for a company with that name. That's how I remember.

Susan McConnell 8:00 AM  

Cute theme and reveal. ALPINE LACE is very well-known here in CT, as is Danny AINGE. Fun Tuesday puzzle.

jberg 8:03 AM  

I didn't get the theme until I saw all the answers next to each other here, when it leaped out at me. Up to then, I'd been looking for hidden words -- I think it was that BLUE, which made me want pie.

Other than that, a fun solve; I had all the missteps @Rex did, plus kUdoS before BURPS for my pats on the back. And MINts before I figured out the TRIMMINGS.

I know the letters in the star sequence (Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me Right Now - Smack!), but not what each is -- so it was lucky I could get the S from SLOTHS, or I'd still be staring at that hole.

I didn't know ENSOR was Belgian, but he's worth knowing as a painter. Here is his self portrait, or so he claims.

crossvine 8:10 AM  

I had FANATIC FRINGE instead of LUNATIC FRINGE, which really tripped me up and held up my finish for way too long. Anyone else?

Got to keep my lunatics and fanatics straight.

My boys had watched Thomas the Train, but couldn't for the life of me remember Percy. Finally realized that the "Second of April" meant the second letter of April: Pee. That helped.

Other than that section and the southwest corner (need help with French pronouns), it was pretty smooth.

John V 8:13 AM  

Okay up until the SE, which is a perfect horror show, a four-way Natick. DNF 'cause of that. Two proper names in a corner is really pretty poor. Boo. Theme density run amok.

L 8:14 AM  

I really hate the ATM maker clue and wish it would be banned already. There - got that off my chest. Otherwise, I had the exact same experience as Rex in the SE corner. Not sure what to make of that.

Andrew Morrison 8:23 AM  

Interesting. I rated it easy-med and was surprised to see Rex's rating. It probably helps that I had ALPINELACE and PERCY as gimmes. Fun puzzle.

ArtO 8:43 AM  

Definitely a Wednesday in terms of difficulty. Cluing much tougher than normal Tuesday with numerous obscurities heretofore mentioned.

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

Sorry to be pedantic, but "beemer" is slang for a BMW motorcycle. The slang for a BMW car is "bimmer."

Casco Kid 8:59 AM  

This one was close to home on many levels. We have a Sunday morning concoction available at the finest dives here in Portland: the Munjoy Hill Mimosa. PBR and OJ. Hey, don't knock it til you've tried it!

CAGER took me back to my HS sports writing days, and reminded me that headline writers are probably natural grid solvers. I've used CAGER in headlines many times -- because it fit. But never in the body if an article.

ALPINELACE was hard to accept until the revealer, but the crosses pretty well demanded it. ENSOR is new. Had tAN for WAN until the SCREW turned, as I consider tAN colorless. I may be the only one.

My time was slightly longer than normal. But no googles, cheats or errors means it can't be tougher than medium, here.

@JTHurst captured the sense of the puzzle very nicely. @Z thanks for the NCR background and @jberg for the star series mnemonic.

joho 9:08 AM  

Two woman constructors in a row ... I wonder if this is going to be a whole week of women from Will? Hope so!

What I loved about this puzzle was that the theme answers were not at all related to Thanksgiving which was, of course, the obvious way to go. I love to be surprised!

LUNATICFRINGE was my favorite.

Thanks, Susan!

Everett Wolf 9:10 AM  

Great puzzle. More of a Wednesday for me.

Sir Hillary 9:16 AM  

Nice puzzle. Only STY and PEE do not cross at least one theme entry.

I don't get the objections to NCR, although given my tastes I would have preferred a C in the top-left corner. "Proud Mary" band, or thereabouts.

CYBERPUNK and ENCRYPTED look OHSO cool knifing into the gird like that.

Appreciate @Rex's link to "Leather and Lace" -- always thought that was a pretty song. However, as I did the puzzle, I was guessing he would post Red Rider's LUNATICFRINGE. That song was ubiquitous on rock radio for a few months in the early 80s. Excellent pedal steel solo.

Thank you, Susan -- you're a CHAMP.

quilter1 9:17 AM  

I guess I was just on Susan's wavelength today. It fell pretty easily. I guess you either know PERCY and ALPINE LACE or you don't. Good puzzle.

chefbea 9:26 AM  

fairly easy puzzle. Got some words from the crosses. Of course knew alpine lace.

No time to read all the comments. Getting ready to go to our good friend's house...Hoss Ellington - of Nascar racing fame and our dear friend, passed away a few days ago. RIP

Beaglelover 9:33 AM  

@cascokid: from what I remember of PBRB it needs orange juice to mask it's ghastly taste. It was sold in NY in the 50's.
I liked the theme, all the trimmings: ribbon, fringe and lace. Let's hear it for the seamstresses!!
I had to Google Percy and Alexa. Other than that, I loved this puzzle!


"Also, Rex, I wish you'd stop saying challenging **for a Monday/Tuesday**, everyone knows it's easier at the start of the week and it just sounds as if you're saying "it's not challenging for ME, of course.""

^^ CONCUR ^^

Lewis 9:42 AM  

@crossvine -- I too had fanaticFRINGE and was thinking "this is not a real phrase". The final answer is much better.

Never heard of ALPINELACE, and ended up having to run the Roman numeral possibilities for that L, but the L was the only one that made sense.

Rex -- I do like your trademarks

I count six answers that when read backward could be crossword answers, including WAN, but my favorite is EVIAN.

Fun and lively Tuesday puzzle! I like the second tier long down answers, TVTRAY and BEEMER (a close word relative to EMBER).

Post-puzzle puzzle: One of the answers, if you scramble the letters around, sometimes precedes the word "fly".

Bob Kerfuffle 9:43 AM  

Kept me guessing as to the theme until I got the revealer.

Agree SE was tough but doable.

Troublemaker 9:50 AM  

Rex Petty Parker. Er... can't hide, Sharp. Michael Petty Sharp, the whiner. Wah, Andrea got published. I didn't. Dug your own grave there, dude. Hang it up. Move on. Tedious. Insufferable. Irrelevant.

RnRGhost57 9:52 AM  

This one was fun. Mucho gracias Susan.

mac 9:55 AM  

Easy-Medium, too. Only almost-Natick was at Ainge/Geo, but I remembered National Geographic in time.

I've never eaten Alpine Lace, but by that time I knew the theme and it fell into place. Cute name for a swiss cheese.

mac 9:57 AM  

P.S. One write-over: Bimmer for Beemer. That's how this family pronounces and spells it.

Arlene 10:01 AM  

I knew the beer, the cheese and the sandwich stuff - but not the PERCY/ALEXA, AINGE/ENSOR names - so had to guess (50/50 success with that!)

I also knew HELGA - and that's an interesting story that's worth looking up. Wyeth used her as a model, painted portraits of her for 15 years, without telling anyone - not even his wife.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

Seems to be an abundance of snark in comments of late. If the site isn't to your liking, why not move on instead of going off on either Rex or other comments? Puzzles are for fun and brain exercise, let's not take it too seriously. For me, Rex gets a major pass for the effort of posting every single day before 9 AM (with or without assists).

dk 10:06 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 Moons) Very nice Tuesday puzzle.

Fill was all over the place but still solid.

Random firings:

Somewhere I lived or attended school in an old NCR building.

Big huh was ALPINELACE. And while much of my youth was spent in delis (e.g., Zabars) I have never heard of it…. must be in the IGA.

Ludyjynn 10:10 AM  

Medium Tues. or easy Wed, puzz. for me. There were some clues/answers I disliked, PEE, KIDDO, RHOS ,SSTAR, AINGE, but can't gripe too much about since they were all gettable from surrounding clues. The rest of clueing was quite nice, along w/ the theme.

Not a beer drinker, myself,(bring me a Jack on the rocks), but based upon others' comments about its poor quality, was it deliberate for the constructor to have PBR beer and BURPS and PEE in the same grid?! If so, clever.

Thanks, SG and WS. Good to see another female puzz. byline. Keep 'em coming!

Ellen S 10:22 AM  

I thought it was kind of medium for a Tuesday, until I got down to the south east where it turned into Saturday. I had trouble with some of the clues higher up but was able to get them on crosses (only ever watched one episode of Thomas the Tank Engine, but PERCY is a name so I got through that). Never heard the National Geographic channel referred to as NatGEO (is that the cable abbreviation?) so that was no help in figuring out AIN_E and ENS_R, neither of whom I have heard of and neither spelling is very common. And I was so pleased with myself because I did the whole rest of the puzzle without any cheating of any kind. Though I had plenty of corrections, more than I expected on a Tuesday.

I've been wanting to get here early enough not to be at the end of the line of posters because I found out something. Back in February when there was a clue "alternative to a Miata" and the answer was Boxster? Everyone who commented on that said how can the two even be compared? I mentioned that the other day to my son-in-law and he said "Oh, mom everyone knows a Boxster is a chick car, just like a Miata." Turns out everybody knows that except us. (Go ahead and ask strangers on the street, and you'll see that he is right.)

Finally I agree with @Gill and others, Pabst Blue Ribbon is vile. They actually did win a blue ribbon at the Chicago world's fair, and I am from Chicago and hate to think our taste is so degraded, but maybe Pabst changed the formula over the intervening century. It is a favorite with bike messengers, which I think is similar to being a favorite with underage drinkers. Going for cheap rather than drinkable.

pmdm 10:34 AM  

Coixt Records et al: One of the comments yesterday explained well why the qualifier is needed. It should not be needed - it does say "relative difficulty." Unfortunately, many do not seems to understand what the rating is relative to. Personally, I don't care that much for a difficulty rating - that seems a bit too subjective for something that wants ti be objective. I would welcome if "relative difficulty" morphed into "solving experience." Then, characterizations such as "easy for a Monday" or "average for a Tuesday" would be apt. Change is good when change is an improvement, and I really think this change, as well as stemming the complaints, would be a good change. And it would serve to emphasize that puzzle solving is an inherently subjective experience. I do hope our blog master seriously considers this humble suggestion.

There are a good number of comments toward the top taking some issue with some of what's said here. There is no question that if one reads the write-ups for a while one assumes the person writing the opinions is a very hard to satisfy person who continuously nit-picks the puzzles. (I think that's unfair, but more on that below.) These types of write-ups certainly attract others who harbor strong opinions and appreciate a platform on which to add their two cents. I firmly believe that it is better for people to express themselves accurately than bury and hide their true feelings within themselves (as long as their communication doesn't deteriorate into bullying etc.). [I suspect a certain sports team owner in the news recently would agree, and I honestly can't decide where I stand about that. And I don't know what precipitated ACME from departing (was it bullying?), but she may disagree.]

When you can observe a person talking, you add a lot of impressions about what's being said to the words you are hearing. Where the words by themselves may suggest that a person is pontificating, stating infallible conclusions, harping on insignificant trivial things, face to face communication could suggest otherwise. One thing comes across read when visiting this site: the blog master and most (if not all) of those who comment are very intelligent people. Which makes it all the more sad that many of the sentiments expressed herein could easily be reworded in a less vehement more level-headed manner, allow the expression of one's feelings without seeming to be an infallible critique of the puzzle.

While it isn't that relevant in this post, here's something a did some time ago to determine if one of my impressions was justified. I choose an arbitrary two week span (recent) and read all the write-ups. Each time the write-up had a negative criticism of the puzzle, I checked one column, and each time the write-up had a positive criticism of the puzzle, I checked the other column. The totals were very interesting. Try it and see if the totals you expect are the totals you wind up with.

AliasZ 10:37 AM  

Funny how yesterday's LUNATIC FRINGE became today's mainstream, and today's LUNATIC FRINGE will become tomorrow's mainstream. And such are the vagaries of history. I experienced this flip-flop at least four times in my life.

Once I knew a cultured flunky
Who was more than slightly chunky,
And frequented the sym-phunky
Of his own accord.
Each time, hearing the final chord
Has sent chills up his SPINAL CORD,
Only when played not off -- ON KEY.

He also visited the zoo
Where he played with his kazoo
And monomer thingy.
He stopped to entertain the gibbons,
And later had some PABST BLUE RIBBONs
Sucked in through his binky.

PERCY Aldridge Grainger (1882-1961) was an Australian-born British-American composer of much band music, one of the most familiar and loved example of which is Lincolnshire Posy.


Andrew Heinegg 10:52 AM  

Note to the Rex whiners(who seem to be out in force today): if you don't like his analyses, don't read the blog. This is not to suggest everything he writes is just wonderful but, he seems to have clearly defined standards and applies them to the puzzle write-ups. These ad hominem attacks on him appear to be evidence that the writers thereof are envious of Rex rather than have some disagreement with his work product. How about just agreeing or disagreeing and explaining why instead of personal attacks. This is a crossword puzzle blog not a psychoanalysis of the writer of the blog. Cheez!

Andrew Heinegg 10:55 AM  

Note to the Rex whiners(who seem to be out in force today): if you don't like his analyses, don't read the blog. This is not to suggest everything he writes is just wonderful but, he seems to have clearly defined standards and applies them to the puzzle write-ups. These ad hominem attacks on him appear to be evidence that the writers thereof are envious of Rex rather than have some disagreement with his work product. How about just agreeing or disagreeing and explaining why instead of personal attacks. This is a crossword puzzle blog not a psychoanalysis of the writer of the blog. Cheez!

gregg 11:01 AM  

My experience was about the same as @Ellen S's with the south-east corner being particularly challenging. I do not object to the inclusion of proper nouns except when three of them are crammed into the same corner.

Perhaps there should be an obscurity test for names that would require a minimum number of pages in a Google search before they can exceed a certain frequency in a puzzle.

Hartley70 11:25 AM  

Got PBR and Alpine Lace right off the bat probably from irritating memories of gazillions of tv commercials. That made the rest of the grid very doable. NCR is a gimme if most of your life was lived before ATM machines and you ever worked the register at the local pharmacy after school.

Leapfinger 11:59 AM  

@MohairS: The human mind is curiously perverse. For clue [Acid], I also looked at L__ and thought LYE.

@joho: Willful women? Willing women? lol

@Alias: Nice stormy sea, worthy of Homer, Winslow. But I go for Baroque. Your verse today has a nice POE-BOY ring to it, but ....Binky??? C'mon.

Enjoyed this solve alot, finding a number of off-the beaten-trackers, likes going from AXLES yesterday to AXL today. Tomorrow may bring AXOLOTL. Also saw some extra symmetry in the EVIAN-EMBER, RIDE [Kemo] SABE, CALI-FUJI and STY-PEE pairings. Dunno if ALEXA sings ON KEY, and doubt RABBI AINGE, so this symmetrical cis-TRANS thingy has its limits.

Most appropriate spatial orientation has having the NEUROsurgeon hovering over the supine SPINALCORD. Ready to operate on ONKEYlosing spondylitis, maybe. [Thinking that way is a problem, I realize that.]

Since childhood, RHOS hip jam has been my favourite, a luscious taste, not too sweet, slightly tart. My mother, who was born in a part of Hungary later Czechoslovakia now Slovakia, told me that wild roses grew in the hedgerows, and only the poorest of the poor picked the rosehips at the roadside to make preserves. Now it costs $5-8 a jar, imported from Switerland (Hero) or Austria (d'arbo).

When I had my first POBOY from the Empire Grocery in NO, I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven. Just walking through the doors of that place made the juices flow. Then ate it outside at the Cafe du Monde.

Knew about ALPINE LACE; my Mom ate it because it also came low-sodium. I remember it as being bland and plasticky, couldn't hold a candle to a good Emmenthaler or Raclette, or even a nice Körözött.

Meanwhile, back at the puzzle:
The REINE in Espagne
Stares mainly toward the Rhine.

Man, I didn't think this comment would be so stuffed, but once I start thinking about food... Must be time for lunch.

Bon appetit, and have dessert first.

jdv 12:09 PM  

Medium. I'm lukewarm about this puzzle. There's a lot of good stuff, but also a lot of non-words (abbreviations, acronyms,etc). Having NCR as 1a set the tone for me. Also, I agree with @anonymous on BIMMER vs BEEMER.

retired_chemist 12:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 12:25 PM  

@ COIXT - a year or two ago Rex started getting complaints about calling a Monday or Tuesday difficult, when it clearly was not as hard as, say, an easy Friday. Yes, some people couldn't get that Rex was rating relative to the usual puzzle on that day of the week. Hence the emphasis, cf. (*for a Tuesday*). It arose as a reader request - AFAIK it was not an attempt to massage his own ego.

Medium-challenging here too. Solved it successfully but slowly. Surprising since I got three of the the theme answers right off with a few crosses and the fourth with little difficulty (needed a lot of letters before I remembered ALPINE LACE). That usually means a fast solve, but in my sleep-deprived state (1 day old puppy, wife away for a few days, feedings every 2 1/2 hours) I suppose I should be glad for ANY finish.

Did downs from the top row and 17A was then _____BLUE______, which made it obvious. Lucky.

Never heard of BEEMER - slang for a BMW? SnailS before SLOTHS was a slowdown. Had Nero 50 years late for a while at cVI. When ALPINE cACE made no sense, then came a D'oh! moment.

Anyone else think Bub and KIDDO are kinda disjoint?

Enjoyed it. Thanks, Ms. Gelfand.

retired_chemist 12:30 PM  

@ leapfinger - you may well know this, but not all will. LYE is concentrated potassium hydroxide and a very strong base. Thus it is the direct opposite of acid.

Carola 12:35 PM  

S-stellar puzzle, fun comments. Like others, I found it easy at first, then tricky. For me, SLO was aptly placed, as I wanted my FRINGE to be "radical," and that just wasn't going to work. I also had to get LACE from the theme, as I'd never heard of the brand, despite living in cheese country.

I saw the TRIM(MINGS) theme after RIBBON, CORD, and FRINGE, but didn't foresee the delightful reveal. Inspired. Fun to have a theme that combines the arts of sewing and cooking.

From the Downs I had in place, I thought RIDE was going to cross REINs and was disappointed when I looked at the clue for REINE. However, REIN then did appear right below it. Keeping with the horse theme, Kemo SABE might have encounted the Pony EXPRESS in some episode or other..

@chefwen - Us kids (as we say here) grew up singing the "What'll you have?" song, except we couldn't read and so answered the question with "Pat's Blue Ribbon."

@casco - Back when I was a grade-schooler, it was big news in my small hometown when a high school basketball star was recruited to a big-name Division I school. I remember the page-one headline in the paper beginning, "Local CAGER...." and my dad explaining to me what it meant.

Steve J 12:44 PM  

@Casco Kid: Yep, CAGER is a headline writer's friend. I'm pretty sure the term persists as a synonym for "basketball player" only because of newspaper headlines. Otherwise, it's gone the way of the dodo.

And while beer and orange juice sounds vile, PBR is so awful that pretty much anything would improve it.

Moly Shu 12:48 PM  

@GlimmerGlass, I agree with you 100%. Knowing different things doesn't make one better or worse than any one else. It just makes you DIFFERENT, that's all, and I think that's a good thing.

@Rex, couldn't resist more shots at @ACME ? Which brings me to another point. Like @AndrewHeinegg suggested, it's @Rex's blog and he can write whatever he wants. If I don't like it, I don't have to read it.

Pontification complete, on to the puzzle. Liked it. Best clue was for POBOY. Kept singing The Battle of New Orleans in my head trying to figure out who the hero was. Colonel Jackson was all I could come up with. Oh, a sandwich, I get it. Knew the phrase LUNATICFRINGE, not what it meant, learned something. Somewhat embarrassed that I also knew PERCY.

Davidph 12:56 PM  

My biggest difficulty was the combustible heaps. Had __RES and wanted tiRES. then saw the Y and thought 'tyres'? British? Took me a while to see PYRES.

Sarah L 12:57 PM  

@Casco Kid and @Steve J: Please explain what basketball has to do with cages! (As opposed to any other sport, I mean. What the court, is supposed to be like a cage?)

I found the SE corner incomprehensible until I looked up the Celtic player, and then it all made sense. But I still can't for the life of me understand why napes are "pickup sites" -- what, you pick up your hair from the nape of your neck?

I thought this was clever and interesting, but I could not get the notion of "spinal cord" out of my head when I thought about the Thanksgiving turkey -- I kept imagining taking it out and using it as a trimming -- and that kind of bummed me out. That was completely mitigated, though, by vixen - I am always pleased when I get to put my knowledge of Santa's reindeers' names to good use.

Leapfinger 1:04 PM  

@retired_chem: Yes, had assumed that basic knowledge, but had myself been thinking only NaOH. Thanks to you, I now know it's also KOH. Apropos of nothing relevant, it seems that crystal Drano is no longer standard stock in supermarkets; wondering whether it's been taken off the market?

Had meant to reach out a 'pat on the back' about your post-C-section pup. It's never easy to care for a pet that isn't well, especially doing it alone. At least you know that, given a little time, she will heal.

Catherine 1:13 PM  

It was a fine puzzle. I loved PERCY, only because I have two boys ages 11 and 7 and so the world of Thomas is only a couple years back for me. I had a really tough time with the southeast, with those proper names.

BUT, the thing that really BUGGED me about this puzzle is that it's JUNE, people. Why are we talking about Reindeer and THANKSGIVING???

RUn it in November and it's a win. But in June, sitting here with the windows open and the sun shining, it's just wrong.

JTHurst 1:18 PM  

While some of the comments made concerning our inestimable blogger, Rex, are fun to read, I do wish some would adhere to George Orwell's comments made in his essay on "Politics and the English Language" of which I paraphrase:

MEANINGLESS WORDS. In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages, which are almost completely lacking in meaning in the sense that they not only do not point to any discoverable object, but are hardly ever expected to do so by the reader.
So Mr. Orwell’s rules were:
1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech, which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

retired_chemist 1:22 PM  

@ leapfinger - she is well, and thank you for caring. Pug pups just require a LOT of attention until they are perhaps a month old. Quite wearing on the caregiver (me). We also breed golden retrievers, and it is like night and day. Golden litters are almost fully taken care of by mom, and pug moms are just not attentive.

Haven't noticed about Drano crystals but they clearly provide a way to injure yourself or others if misused. Lawyers and common sense may have intervened.....

Mohair Sam 1:22 PM  

@retired chemist. Have been waiting for you on this one. Wife and I argued over Lye for that very reason - then she realized LSD and argument ended. I thought I remembered from somewhere that lye was not an acid, she remembered the scene in "The Prince of Greenwich Village" where Eric Roberts pops lye into a mob boss' coffee and gets a very acidic reaction from said boss. We were gonna look up lye, but decided to wait for you.


Mohair Sam 1:24 PM  

Ooops - "The Pope of Greenwich Village". On an error filled roll today.

Tom C. 1:49 PM  

BEEMER is totally wrong. Car nut here. It's "bimmer." Am beyond furious as I was doing very well at this puzzle until that moment...

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

@Sarah L - They used to hang netting around basketball courts, so that the players seemed to be in a cage, hence cager.

Pete 2:00 PM  

Don't know where all your bimmers live, but here on the east cost it's BEEMER

Casco Kid 2:15 PM  

@Sarah L. Yes, SPINALCORD stresses the breakfast test in the context of ALLTHETRIMMINGS. Ugh.

As regards CAGER, there was a time in basketball's nascency when the game was played on a court surrounded by a 12' tall metal fence or rope net. Think hockey-esque basketball with the ball never going out of bounds. And yes, there was much checking.

Caged basketball lasted for 30 years in New England. Other parts of the country never used cages.

My source is a Sports Illustrated article from back in ot-nineteen-ninety-one.

But I bet @SteveJ can out pedant me! You're up, Steve! :)

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

I read this because I don't understand it. People hate Rex. But they read it. People make comments then erase them. People like or don't like certain words. Everybody likes to brag about how quickly they solved the puzzle, sort of like golf or driving a long distance. Personally, I am glad I don't live near any of you, because you are all very weird. But I read it anyway. We all know what day it is, OK? We don't care how smart you are. Rex, you are a grouch. But your readers are funny and a little pathetic.

thursdaysd 2:32 PM  

I shop the cheese section of my local Whole Foods all the time (have to eat imported or organic cheese thanks to an allergy to the junk they inject into US cows) and I have NEVER seen Alpine Lace. Combine that with unknown sports person and unknown composer and I DNF a Tuesday. Grrr.

Fred Romagnolo 2:46 PM  

DNF because of the Southeast. National Geographic channel not available on my dish (Dish Network), and I don't follow basketball (I find the "bloomers" they wear ridiculous) FWIW when I was a young man, here in San Francisco PBRB was more expensive than locally brewed stuff; it came into the category of "Eastern" beer, like Schlitz. I didn't know PERCY, ALPINELACE, CYBERPUNK. It was pointed out a few puzzles ago that mama animals carry their infants by the NAPES of their necks. The way to date Nero is to remember that that Julian-Claudian line didn't make it to the second century. I also didn't know ALEXA.

Z 2:55 PM  

All you PBR haters - I assume you also hate Bud, Lite, Coors, Michelob, and Pilsner Urquell. They are all (very minor) variations on the same theme, with the biggest complaint being that corn/rice are used in the American brands. PBR is currently (or maybe just recently) a very hip beer. If you have to drink any of these, buy on price.

BiMMER? Is it pronounced like flim-flam? I have only ever heard BEEMER here in the mitten, and we do have more than our fair share of car enthusiasts in the neighborhood (BTW - if you need to be pedantic, this is the place).

I am shocked to discover so many people being forced to read this blog. If I find someone to be an insufferable writer I stop reading them (I'm looking at you Tom Friedman). Apparently Rex doesn't like everyone. To my knowledge, liking everyone is not required. Rex seems to be biased at times. I read the comments to get a more balanced view. Generally speaking, people who comment here have strong opinions, but don't usually reduce themselves to the sort of troll-like comments we've seen in the past couple of days. @ACME is beloved by many. Others who share her concerns might follow her example, say your piece in a calm voice and move on. Or, if you prefer, follow others' example, say your piece in a calm manner and remain generally quiet for long periods afterwards. Or follow @foodie's example and move to a different crossword blog. Or, when you think Rex is wrong, use reason and evidence to explain why rather than juvenile and unwelcome personal attacks. If none of these options are within your ability, I am sure I can point you to a political blog or 3,000,000 that will welcome you with open arms.

Karl 3:00 PM  

NAT GEO is not an acronym for "National Geographic" on my planet. And ENSOR? I did solve the puzzle (and when I say solve, I mean with no googling, etc.), but did not like that corner. Other than that, I thought much of the cluing was well done and entertaining.

Gill I. P. 3:01 PM  

@Z...I personally think a xanax and some of that fine PBR mixed with OJ might do the trick.
I'm looking at you @anony 2:30!!

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

I strongly concur with John V, Ellen S, and gregg about the SE corner. It has been said in this blog about names, that you either know them or you don't. I didn't know them and there was no way to infer them.

Sarah L, momma cats do in fact pick up infant kittens and carry them about in their mouths by the nape of the neck. Neat way to do it if you don't have opposable thumbs on your paws. Kittens weigh so little that it doesn't harm or hurt them.

Karl 3:14 PM  

I just wanted to concur with the post by Z. If you don't like Rex's opinions, don't read the blog. I don't always agree with him either, but that is part of my enjoyment of his comments. In addition, I want to commend RP for his tireless work. He doesn't miss a whole lot of days, and when he does, he has interesting folks filling in for him. Maybe some of the snarks should try establishing their own blogs...

Anonymous 3:36 PM  

A Beemer is BMW's motorcycle. A bimmer is the car. Ugh.

Benko 3:41 PM  

I think many readers have the same relationship with Rex that Rex has with the NYT crossword. They love to hate him. And, given the snarky tone of most of the reviews, it seems fair that people be snarky with him. He set the tone. Rex can say what he wants about the puzzles, and other folks can say what they want about Rex. Why fight any of it?

chefbea 4:08 PM  

@Z well put!!!

Casco Kid 4:08 PM  

I think we are all comfortable with vacant centers. Dick Van Dyke, Bob Newhart, Ray Romano, even Jerry Seinfeld. We think what we want is a bland straight man to turn on and off the lights so the real talent (that'd be us, the commentariat) provide character riffs, slapstick turns and high & low pathos.

Well surprise: Rex is the anti-vacant center. He has some of the nastiest, most damning, least accommodating opinions expressed here. But functionally, it doesn't seem to matter. He still turns the lights on and off, and we still show up for our vanity turns. That's because anti-vacant centers are just a flavor of vacant center, when they are done right.

Why does Rex's model work? Perhaps because we are on one page and he is on the other. Perhaps because he doesn't seem to read his own comments, so he really ISN'T here with us. Perhaps because he gets it. In any event, he is an operational vacancy. Hurray!

Rex's most intolerable transgressions have been when he does cross the page divide and comment, usually to disparage one of us. I recall a snide put down months back ("Occam called. He wants his razor back.") If he did that regularly, we'd all be gone. Fortunately, Rex is a pretty smart guy, so our little niche is safe -- from him. Indeed, it seems to be growing.

For my part, I usually read Rex last, after you guys -- and only if I have time -- since his principle value to me is YOU, which is really all a vacant center is ever supposed to deliver.

Oh, and I read Rex for his YouTube links. They are usually hilarious.

wreck 4:12 PM  

In the US, specialists have been at pains to prescribe that a distinction must be made between using Beemer exclusively to describe BMW motorcycles, and using Bimmer only to refer to BMW cars,[58][59][60] in the manner of a "true aficionado"[61] and avoid appearing to be "uninitiated."[62][63] The Canadian Globe and Mail prefers Bimmer and calls Beemer a "yuppie abomination,"[64] while the Tacoma News Tribune says it is a distinction made by "auto snobs."[65] Using the wrong slang risks offending BMW enthusiasts.[66][67][68] An editor of Business Week was satisfied in 2003 that the question was resolved in favor of Bimmer by noting that a Google search yielded 10 times as many hits compared to Beemer.[69]

Both pronunciations sound kind of yuppie/snobbish to me. ;.)

sanfranman59 4:17 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 8:51, 8:46, 1.01, 56%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:55, 5:24, 1.10, 73%, Medium-Challenging

Moly Shu 4:46 PM  

@Benko, well put.

@CascoKid, your take had not occurred to me. Interesting, and I like it. Also let me know when and if you upgrade the magmic app. I'm following your lead.

A word to the wise 5:15 PM  

Please stop feeding the trolls especially one with the handle "troublemaker"

Leapfinger 5:28 PM  

I think @Rex does what he does as a marketing ploy. After all, he's a sharp guy: stir the pot, people get all exercised and everyone chimes in with their two cents' worth. Numbers go up, interest goes up, everybody wins. And Rex, OFL, ROFL.

@Alias, late comment on Monday's board on Gundel Karoly cookery for U

Anoa Bob 5:40 PM  

This is the second time NAPE/S has been clued as a "Pick-up spot/s" in the last few days. I'm chagrined to say that the first time I didn't make the connection and had to rely on the kindness of a fellow commenter to point out that a momma cat picks up her kitten by the NAPE of its neck.

The main reason for my chagrin is that's the way I've always picked up cats, no matter what their age. Apparently the kitten's instinctive response to mamma's picking it up that way stays even into adulthood.

Gently but firmly grabbing the skin around the back of the neck will very often relax the cat so that I can then reach under the rib cage with the other hand and lift my feline friend with a minimum of protest on his or her part.

Vet and animal shelter workers call this "scruffing". As usual, You Tube has videos.

Pedicures for Everyone!! 5:52 PM  

I was prepared to leave a raging comment until I read the comments of @Z....nice work. Cooler heads may in fact prevail, but that will not ring true the next time ACME has a puzzle published....he as much admitted in his review that he is not objective about her work. He already has his review done for her next puzzle (or perhaps for her next dozen). Blah Blah Blah is not much of a review, especially when it is written months in advance.

I agree with the others about being reactive about Rex's hatred for ACME....she is a well respected constructor and commenter who (I can only assume) was bullied into absence by OFL....the fact that he has gone out of his way to be insulting to her a day later (in effect, reminding me that he dislikes her while commenting on someone else's puzzle) is evidence of why she is no longer here.

To deride her for pangrams while praising others for Scrabbliness makes no sense - especially when Monday's puzzle was not overreaching for a pangram.

We get it Rex, you don't like Andrea. Perhaps she is your ex-wife. Perhaps she stepped on you toes one time at the ACPT. I can only assume that the next time you call on her to get your daughter into a lecture by one of her heroes, she will do so with less vigor....I would bet she will get your daughter INTO the lecture (cuz it seems like Andrea is pretty nice that way and in no way would want to deprive children of fun experiences) and then tell you to go eat a bowl of dick and not mention it ever again.

and BTW, I agree with whoever it was yesterday that said that Rex should get guest bloggers the next time her puzzles appear....even Supreme Court Justices know when to recuse themselves.

BigStu 6:14 PM  

Liked it OK. Little trickier than usual for a Tues.
Had Fanatic Fringe instead of Lunatic.
Had to come here to get theme. Could have used "ends of" in reveal clue.

Alpine Lace brings me back to teen years in Chicago at Jewel or Dominic's grocery stores, deli counters, and "tastes". I still ask for a sample of roast beef, turkey, cheese, etc.

For Leather and Lace, I was hoping for a much better clip.

Please watch youtube with Will Farrell and Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters). It's funny, and will brighten up your day. Just google it (sorry I can barely post this, much less links).

Also, when my baseball season ticket group would meet to split tickets, I used to pick a lot of early weeknight games, and first game in a series. They joked "Tues-day is Stu's day"

Pete 7:13 PM  

You all know, if you actually read what @Rex said yesterday it's obvious what bothered him about the puzzle.

He stated it was a servicable puzzle, but that it lacked Andrea's cleverness of old. Have you never read a book review, movie review, where the reviewer bemoans the fact that the author/director kept mining the same vein? I certainly have, and it's a valid point.

This approach may not be 100% fair to each individual puzzle, but when the same theme modalities are used over and over, each and every one being a pangram, it's certainly appropriate to say enough - do something new and different.

That some of the commenters here haven't been around long enough to have witnessed exactly this progression doesn't make @Rex a Andrea hater.

Steve J 7:18 PM  

I hate to admit it, but the last couple days' worth of armchair psychoanalysis, counter-analysis and counter-counter analysis is kind of amusing. How many Rex Parkers can dance on the head of a pin?

@Casco Kid: No need for further pedantry on CAGER. You covered all the bases.

@Z: You're right: I also don't like Coors Light, Bud, etc. Pilsner Urquell is at least all-malt, so it's not as thin and watery as the others. And while it's a shadow of the beer it was before SAB gobbled them up, it's got discernible hops as well. But if I want a pilsner, I'd much rather go for the likes of Trumer or Victory Prima Pils.

@Karl et al.: Nat Geo is not only a common shorthand for National Geographic, National Geographic themselves use it all the time. For example, one of their cable networks is Nat Geo Wild, and their Twitter, Instagram, etc. handles are also Nat Geo.

The Raven 8:13 PM  

Beemer is just plain wrong and the succession of Natick proper names in the SE is totally unacceptable. Not a Tuesday puzzle--not even worthy of the NYT.

Andrew Heinegg 8:45 PM  

Ugh, what a miserable day of backbiting on the blog! Can everyone agree not to suck on lemons before commenting on tomorrow's puzzle?!

Darryl 8:49 PM  

All you "Beemer is just plain wrong" folks are no different than those who insist that a Porshe is pronounced porsha. They do this while wearing Porshe labeled driving gloves, sunglasses and a baseball hat hiding their pathetic bald spots. Folks whose cars I love to run over with my jacked-up dually.

Anonymous 8:54 PM  

Anoa Bob, do you suppose picking a cat up at the nape applies pressure to nerve centers, making the cat more docile? It's probably been researched (just about everything you can think of has been researched). I don't have much experience with handling adult cats.

Questinia 9:01 PM  

I know applying pressure to my nape makes me more docile. SPINAL CORD and ALL THE TRIMMINGS.

mac 9:14 PM  

@Darryl: it's Porsche. No a anywhere in sight, even in the pronunciation.

Don't touch my nape!

rini6 12:42 AM  

I just loved that they had James Ensor!

spacecraft 11:19 AM  

I can't believe it. Not a single blogger mentions tripping over an answer that looked so obvious to me that I didn't even question it: 34d "Unreadable without a key" with the EN and the T already in (I had jumped down to fill in ALLTHETRIMMINGS as soon as the theme came to light): let's see...that'd be

ENigmaTic, of course. Naturally I was thinking of the German coder ENIGMA, so famous in the War.

This came at a point when I was just whipping through this thing. NCR/NAPES/PABSTBLUERIBBON went in as fast as I could print them, and that pace continued--until.

That west central segment gave me fits; I didn't know from Spy Kids or Thomas' friends. But I got out of the local problem on my favorite RIDE: the EXPRESS.

Then the SE threw me another curve in the unknown ALPINELACE. Luckily I knew CAGER AINGE (one of the all-time dirtiest players in the NBA) and was able to infer LACE off the theme. ENSOR? TUE or Sat, he'd be just as "enigmatic."

Never heard of "bimmer;" we always said BEEMER, though in my mind I spelled it BEaMER.

So, easy-peasy with an "oops" here and a "who???" there. What OFL said about fill quality and overall thumbs-uppedness.

BTW, we don't--at least I don't--"hate" OFL. The man is for sure not in the same wheelhouse as I am, and is somewhat given to curmudgeonism, but I do admire his intelligence, and his commitment to this site. It can't be easy coming here every day and passing judgment on a puzzle, while carrying on a separate--and I'm sure busy--whole other life. For me it's a lot easier; I'm retired. Let's make the distinction: you can dislike what a person says (or does), but unless you've met him personally, you have no idea whether you like HIM or not.

558, a natural. I'm getting better at this.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

And not being able to afford either one is a bummer

ironlace 12:53 PM  

Brian Eno again ?

rondo 1:23 PM  

I've got an old one - it's a bomber. What a bummer.
4807 puts me on the number.

Shaaron AK 2:16 PM  

Wow.!! Such a long list of comments that this post may be a waste of time but...
I vote that Rex keep the "for a Monday"etc phrases. For many newer readers of the blog or puzzle solvers that can be important info.
After a while, of course, we know he rates them relatively for the day. So why do you complainers even notice the phrase?

rain forest 2:31 PM  

Great puzzle, period. What I really liked was that getting the theme revealer enabled me to get ALPINELACE, even though I have never heard of it. So, that SE corner was relatively cakelike, piecewise.

So, lots to love about the puzz, but not so much the comments. I will say, though, that @Rex is definitely *estimable* and probably a very nice man. Wonder if he drives a Bimmer?

Hold yer horses! Can you win this game with 5 cards?

44073 = 18 = 9

DMG 3:26 PM  

Another SE corner victim! A ballplayer and a painter named James crossing some TV Channel! I'm out! The few challenges elsewhere, PERCY, LUI. LVI fell from the crosses. Oh, did have to change cHIN to SHIN. For what it's worth, I drive a BMW, have loved it since a windfall allowed me to buy it new (my first, and last, new car) in 1988. We call it "the car", and it runs like a dream!

3920 = 5 Clearlynthis is not my game!

Dirigonzo 3:34 PM  

I guess I might as well toss my hat into the ring as one who didn't know the cheese brand, and I didn't know the CAGER or the painter either so that whole corner took some piecing together and like mlst others I got it done. The theme was no help because I never did figure it out before coming here - oh, that kind of "trimmings"!

@Pedicures for Everyone!! ended a heartfelt plea for @Rex to let guest bloggers review future ACME puzzles with this: "....even Supreme Court Justices know when to recuse themselves." No, apparently they don't.

Jeez, am I the only one without 9 today?

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