Colonnaded entrance / TUE 7-8-14 / Duettist with Elton John on 1976's Don't Go Breaking My Heart / Former Israeli president Weizman / Bankrupted company led by Kenneth Lay

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Constructor: Bruce Venzke and Gail Grabowski

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: BARS (67A: Signs of cell service … or a word that can follow both parts of 18-, 23-, 36-, 52- and 58-Across):

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: EZER Weizman (9D: Former Israeli president Weizman) —
Ezer Weizman (Hebrewעזר ויצמן‎, 15 June 1924 - 24 April 2005) was the seventhPresident of Israel, first elected in 1993 and re-elected in 1998. Before the presidency, Weizman was commander of the Israeli Air Force and Minister of Defense. (wikipedia)
• • •

These are a couple of constructors whose work doesn't appear in the NYT very often, but who are very prolific, with their (individual) bylines appearing on CrosSynergy (syndicated) and Newsday puzzles all the time. Today's offering is a pretty standard theme-type: BWCF (Both Words Can Follow) (see also BWCP, i.e. Both Words Can Precede). I think "standard" is probably a pretty good way to describe the whole thing. Themers and/or fill really have to sparkle in order for an oft-used concept like this to work well, and there's not much sparkle here. That's one of the problems with the theme—you're pretty tightly constrained. In fact, it's a wonder you can get give theme answers to work at all. But OPEN SPACE isn't going to rock anyone's world, and I had to look up what a COFFEE ROLL even was. Fill is mostly adequate, though it dips into ugliness perhaps a bit too often. DOI and RUEDE are rough, and ONCDS (plural!?) feels very forced. Then there's your standard (that word again) spate of uber-familiar but not particularly lovely stuff like SPYS and STS and REUPS and EZER and REATA. The PORTICO / YOGA MAT pairing is pretty nice (11D: Colonnaded entrance / 12D: You might sit cross-legged on one), but most of the rest of the grid is just OK, at best.

  • 3D: Duettist with Elton John on 1976's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (KIKI DEE) — 1976 is the summer I first started paying attention to pop music, and this song (along with "Afternoon Delight") are seared into my memory for that reason. I remember moving into our new house, which had an intercom system (!?) (which never got used ever as far as I remember), and it somehow could also play the radio, and so … yeah, you're 6 years old and you move into a new house and you fiddle with the crazy gadgets on the wall and there's KIKI DEE and Elton John and also a song about mid-day sex that you have no idea is about mid-day sex, but then again you are six and you think "making love" means "kissing on the couch" (the couch, for some reason, is crucial), so no one is surprised that "Afternoon Delight" is over your head.
  • 9D: Former Israeli president Weizman (EZER) — I've been putting this guy's name in the puzzle for years, but never knew who he was. His dates (very recent) startled me. I think … I think I don't know what an "Israeli president" does. Prime minister, familiar. President … ?
  • 47A: Fashion designer Gernreich (RUDI) — someday this name will stick. Not today. But someday.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Steve J 12:18 AM  

Pretty decent overall, but agreed that this didn't have much flare or zip to it. Did like AIRSHIP, PORTICO, YOGA MAT, JIFFY (especially crossing GUFF). But those were nice, not particularly noteworthy. Tired of seeing ERG, IRA and ORAL clued in the context of an exam. Agreed that ON CDS feels forced (for whatever reason, the expression "on " is typically said in the singular).

Theme phrases felt natural and unforced (other than COFFEE ROLL, which is not a term in any of the regional vernaculars I'm familiar with; I do know coffee cake, which also would fit the theme), which is always a good thing.

Other than that, nothing much of note.

wreck 12:20 AM  

Pretty standard Tuesday fare -- last to go in was the ARROZ EZER cross (had to google that -VERY rare for a Tuesday puzzle).

jae 12:58 AM  

Easy for me and easier than yesterday's.  Very solid and reasonably smooth Tues.  Only erasure was I to E in REATA. 

Pretty low pop culture count: KIKI DEE, KRUEGER, DOH, and RAP.

My expectations aren't that high for Tuesday's, if it doesn't suck I like it and it didn't and I did.

rini6 2:16 AM  

Senhora? That's a word?

Moly Shu 2:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moly Shu 2:27 AM  

Easy and adequate. Didn't like SRS and STS in the same puzzle (probably don't like them individually either), did like HUSK and JIFFY. Only hangup was the NE, where ScanS held me up before SKIMS. What's a nut bar? Is it like a pecan log? Or maybe a Payday?

Elaine2 2:47 AM  


rini6: Senhora is Portuguese (hence "Lady of Brazil" as a clue)

@rex: PM in Israel is the Head of Govt. President is the Head of State. Mostly ceremonial duties.

chefwen 2:55 AM  

Medium for me. Thought it was kinda crunchy for the food items.

ENERGY BAR, SALAD, NUT, the COFFEE ROLL must have been stale.

Cute puzzle, I always like Bruce and Gail's combined effort.

Only one write-over @27A. Like Moly Shu, scans before SKIMS. O.K. make that two, someday I will learn that it is MEIR and not MieR, I do not know when that day will occur, I can only hope that it will be soon.

Anonymous 2:57 AM  

Found that Uriel/Arroz/Ezer collision to be pretty brutal for a Tuesday.

Anonymous 3:06 AM  

The OnCDs clue at least gave me an opportunity to learn that obsolete and obsolescent are not synonyms, which of itself makes the clue acceptable to me. When I read the clue, I developed this gnawing annoyance that also develops when I see 'utilize' or 'conversate,' but I was pleased to learn a new word instead.

jae 3:17 AM  

@chefwen - you are not alone. I did guess right this time. Maybe it's finally sinking in?

Gill I. P. 4:58 AM  

Cute and fun Tuesday puzzle.
Had to pause a few times with GUFF (where did sass go?) and I've never heard of NAVEL gazing. For some reason I can't imagine staring intently at ones NAVEL. How do you do that? Do GAPERS do that?
I always get my Hoity TOITY mixed up with hoi polloi. They both sound sort of snooty. Oh, and ENRON sure gets a run for its money. Next we'll see it clued with the Sarbanese-Oxley act.
Thanks BV and GG. This SENHORA likes lots of foreign words in my puzzle and you did indeedy provide them.

Danp 5:13 AM  

I see that several dictionaries define ARK as a place of shelter, but is it ever used to refer to anything other than Noah's boat or the Hebrew sacred chest? Is it used generically like, "We'd better find (an) ark before it rains"?

James Dean 6:25 AM  

Nine minutes of my life I'll never get back. Next.

mathguy 6:41 AM  

I liked the theme very much. Finding five pairs of words that each can precede BAR and which fit together to form something familiar is quite an impressive feat. And figuring out the theme helped me over some of the rough spots. A very nice puzzle.

loren muse smith 6:46 AM  

You said it, Rex - "In fact, it's a wonder you can get give theme answers to work at all." This type of theme always has me at "hello." Seriously. Sometimes I get an idea like this to kick around, and I get absolutely nowhere.

@Gil i.P. – "omphaloskepsis" use to be my go-to term for NAVEL gazing, but of late I've come to feel a bit of a taedium vitae with Greek phrases. Right. My first thought on NAVEL gazing would be standing around with my sisters after *being forced* (hi, Mom) to pick wild blackberries up in the woods (in The Haunted Pine Patch Where There Was, I swear, the Ghost of a Blue Lady in a White Dress) and looking at our belly-buttons to see if we had any chiggers we needed to dab clear fingernail polish on. (Put that sentence in your parse pipe and smoke it.)

Agreed – RUE DE feels a bit desperate, but looking back at it, it pleases me enormously. RUEDE looks like it could be some kind of inferior suede copycat that offends. Reminds me of this vest I had once. . .

I've always wanted to live in a house with a PORTICO. "Just pull up under the PORTICO and TOOT. RUDI will come out and deal with your car while we sit in the PARLOR and have some COFFEE ROLLS." (@M&A – FWIW – I had an honest-to-gosh Cinnabon at the airport, and it was sinfully delicious. I wanted to go back and buy another one, but the guy surely would have remembered me because I thanked him in Amharic and yes I'm totally bragging that I can say thank you in Amharic. Sigh.)


Enjoyed the puzzle!

Mohair Sam 6:47 AM  

So for the second time in 3 days I agree completely with Rex. He must be getting smarter.

Embarrassing dnf Tuesday because we don't know the Spanish for rice and we know Weizman only phonetically, hence we plopped an "s" where a Z should be. Can't even claim being naticked because I assume over 25% of crossword solvers can spell EZER.

@Rex showing his age with links to James Taylor with hair and the Starland Vocal Band. Loved 'em both, btw, thanks Rex.

Susierah 7:30 AM  

21 minutes, with no errors on a Tuesday. Pretty slow. Uriel? I dredged up arroz from somewhere. So lucky or educated guesses there. Senhora? New word for me. What is navel-gazing? Is that a common phrase. And shouldn't reata be clued as a variation?

Susan McConnell 7:50 AM  

Agree with Rex about the lack of sparkle. I picked up on the BAR thing pretty quickly but that was the high point for' REUDE comments :-)

Beaglelover 7:57 AM  

They did a lot of navel gazing on the Seinfeld Show!!
I sailed along with this one until I came to a French street, French money and an Israeli president, cmon!!

L 8:15 AM  

I had sass before guff, whichade the SW corner a mess for me today. I didn't like jiffy at all and I don't really like arks as a safe haven either - ark is really too specific for genetic safe haven. Otherwise, nice Tuesday puzzle.

Anonymous 8:21 AM  

Agree with mathguy -- maybe the puzzle overall had limited sparkle, but finding five word pairs that precede BAR and fit together well is a darn nice trick.

Never heard of Kiki Dee.

dk 8:21 AM  

🌕🌕 (2MOONS)

Random reactions

At least I did not have to look up COFFEEROLL!

Will always remember RUDI for his topless suits that appeared in Sports Illustrated or some such magazine that may or may not be in print.

I was 26 in 1976 and can assure you that Afternoon Delight did not make me think about mid-day sex --- bubble gum maybe. Of course I was in LA listening to The Suburban Lawns and their mega hit Gidget Goes to Hell. Those days saw the rise of spontaneous clubs. One would rent unused warehouse space, run a club for about 3 weeks until you were shut down by . Permits, permits, we don't need no stinking permits. Of course as a DOD employee at the time I knew nothing .

I also like the mini SPYS theme… but I would.

Oh yeah the puzzle: I liked the fact that we got some new fill as in variety. As has been posted this one could have used some RAHRAH or a TOOT.

Thank you Bruce and Gail

AliasZ 8:25 AM  

If there is tea biscuit, there must be COFFEE ROLL, although I never had one, and it's a phrase I never used. Come to think of it, neither is COFFEE BARS any more than AIR BARS and SHIP BARS (cruise ships actually have bars, don't they?). COFFEE shop or COFFEE house yes, not bar. Espresso BARS, yes. ARROZ con pollo, yes.

CANDY COLOR - Bright and gaudy
WET SAND - Tide leftover
TOOL HANDLE - Hammer grip
DOUBLE TASK - Cooking and cleaning
CROW SNACK - Road kill
PARALLEL DIVE - Synchronized Olympic event
HORIZONTAL SCROLL - The most annoying TV program feature ever invented

I RUEDE day when I decided to engage in NAVEL gazing. But que SERA, SERA.

"URIEL funny."

Gotta RUNOFFS now. TOOT aloo.

chefbea 8:41 AM  

Lots of un-tuesdayish words!! Senhora, uriel.CGI - what does that mean?-reata,ezer. DNF

But a lot of foodie yesterday.

AnonyMitzvah 8:47 AM  

Hey, @Rexifer! I do believe the 'standard', when making an 'A vs B' statement, is to first sort out which is which. What we have here are BWCP (Both Words Can Precede), not BWCF.

You also missed the PERN BAR.

@James Dean
News Flash. You won't be getting any minutes of your life back. Better try to enjoy them.

Z 8:53 AM  

@DK - Bubble gum? I don't know... I watch that video and wonder to myself how any band can make a nooner seem so Amish.

Biggest surprise of the morning, the number of people who have not heard of NAVEL gazing. I think of it as a sort of procrastinatory narcissism, a period of very shallow 'reflection.'

@DanP - Sometimes a clue goes from specific to general, sometimes general to specific. ARKS are example of "Safe havens." Clue is fine. ARKS are a recurring motif in Science Fiction... Something ruins earth and the remainder of humanity leaves on a space ark, our last safe haven - drama and or hilarity ensues.

Speaking of HIGH ENERGY COFFEE ROLLs and Amish sex - wowzer. Good to know that Clinton didn't invent the genre. Gives a whole new meaning to "Teapot Dome."

joho 8:57 AM  

@AliasZ ... always love your post puzzle creations!

I enjoyed this theme which was well done in my book. It's definitely harder to pull off than it looks.

RUEDE made me think of Duane Reade.

@Rex, knew you'd like YOGAMAT.

I'll be back in an ITSY JIFFY is a fun phrase.

Loved the clue, "Is for more than one?" for ARE.

Thanks, Bruce and Gail, for an entertaining Tuesday!

Ludyjynn 9:14 AM  

Meh, meh, meh.

Thanks to Rex for the best part of the puzzle: "Afternoon Delight". While you were pushing mysterious buttons on the wall in 1976, some of us were having our buttons pushed, so to speak, to the tune of this song. And yes, it was mid-day on his couch! BTW, the video was a hoot. I

Arlene 9:20 AM  

So the consensus is that this puzzle is a bit more risque than first thought?

Seeing Rudi Gernreich's name immediately brought to mind his topless bikinis - quite scandalous in the 60's, as it probably would be now as well. Well worth Googling to see the pictures, folks! :-)

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

How does this compare to today's LA Times puzzle?

Casco Kid 9:21 AM  

A Slightly slower than a usual Tuesday here. I figured STEAK would be its French equivalent, so held up on that.

Ten bars, and look how different they are: threshold, credenza, establishment (2), snack (2), editorial layout, vehicular safety device, computer key, liquor hosting strategy. Such conceptual diversity is more impressive than your average Tuesday theme fare. Nice work!

jberg 9:36 AM  

I had to come here to realize that a NUT bar is candy, not some place where all the loonies drink. That sounds like a business opportunity, though.

I think I've had a COFFEE ROLL, or at least part of them. If I've got it right, they're group-sized -- a roll of dough is would in a apiral, glazed, and baked(or maybe baked and then glazed); then you cut it up to serve it.

Yeah, I guess you have to be old enough to remember RUDI and his topless bathing suit.

I finished with an error, though -- didn't know KIKI DEE, so I figured that the safe haven must be ARmS, as in your mother's, for example. I could argue that a 'haven' is a harbor whereas an 'ark' is a ship--but truth is, I never thought of it.

Interesting subthemes: words/abbreviations for 'street' and Israeli politicans.

John V 9:45 AM  

Just felt a bit clunky to me. Thought the corners were not the most wonderful, what with RENOIRS (POC), PORTICO, CGI, SENHORA (really?, RENOIRS crossing SERA. I mean, I got it all, but, meh. I do take @Rex' point that theme density of 47 really ties things up.

Lewis 9:47 AM  

I like the three ST-starting words in the last column, and NAVEL gazing on the YOGAMAT. I guess I don't set my enjoyment BAR too high - I liked the solve, as usual. Blue collar puzzle. I keep looking at TOITY and thinking Toity Rock.

POST PUZZLE PUZZLE (PPP): In line with our theme, can you think of a word that starts with BAR, then cut the letters that follow BAR and paste them in front of BAR to make another word?

I'll post the answer later this afternoon (and often Ralph posts it on runtpuz). If you wish to post an answer just put down the number of letters of the word, so as not to give the entire answer away.

loren muse smith 9:54 AM  

@Lewis - cinq?

Norm C. 9:59 AM  

If a COFFEE ROLL is a type of bun or donut accompanying a cup of coffee, wouldn't that be a "breakfast item" and not "dessert?"

Sir Hillary 9:59 AM  

I'm with LMS. The fact that constructors can even think up these BWCP/BWCF entries is remarkable to me. That bewilderment mitigated what was an otherwise ho-hum puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:12 AM  

Kept me guessing as to what the theme was until the end, which makes it a good Tuesday in my book.

The Oxen of the Sun 10:13 AM  

I don't really see how TRURO can upset people yesterday when it's solvable by all the crosses, but MEIR/KIKIDEE and EZER/REATA don't get people wildly upset. DNF for me because of those two.

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

Not surprised Rex hasn't heard of the Israeli President before. A little Israeli Government 101 for anyone who may be interested - Israel is a parliamentary democracy, so the head of government and chief executive of Israel is the Prime Minister (leader of the majority party in the Knesset). The President is a largely ceremonial head of state (kind of like how the "head of state" of the UK is still the royal family), that is usually some elder statesman type appointed to a 7 year term by the Knesset.

As a side note, beyond basic Israeli military and political history, Ezer Weizman didn't do anything particularly notable on the international stage. His main claim to fame seems to be that his first name is good crossword fill. :)

Carola 10:22 AM  

I'm with @loren, @joho, and @Bob Kerfuffle - I like this kind of theme and enjoy trying to figure out what the "goes with" word is. Thought this was a good one.

I liked the RAHRAH and SPORTS NUT pair, on the day of one of the World Cup semis. That will be me in my #11 Klose jersey. Also liked the sort-of echo of RUE DE and RUDI.

Horace S. Patoot 10:23 AM  

Every teenage boy I knew, including myself, was excited to hear about Rudi Gernreich's fantastic new invention. We scoured all the magazines for photos of the topless swimsuit. Alas, the only photos were from behind, or with a bikini bra worn underneath, or with a clothed woman simply holding it up, such were the standards of the time. What a crushing disappointment!

It's a very different world today.

Numinous 10:26 AM  

I have a nit to pick, something I don't often do. When I saw 56A Ones "over there" that WWI song popped into my head. I realize that "over there" isn't capitalized but it is inclosed in quotation marks. The Ones over there were Doughboys. According to Merriam-Webster, the term GI initially stood for galvanized iron and was first used around 1935. Gradually it came to also be an acronym for government issue. It was not used refer to military enlisted personnel until 1943. It's a small thing, I know, but now I can't get this out of my head:

Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word over there
That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming
The drums rum-tumming everywhere.
So prepare, say a prayer,
Send the word, send the word to beware -
We'll be over, we're coming over,
And we won't come back till it's over, over there.

I think of bolos as the basic tool of Gauchos, not REATAs which, to me, are more properly in the provence of vaqueros. Did you know that in the south west, a vaquero would use la REATA to snag a steer. American cowboys adapted that into "lariat". For some reason, that FACToid has always struck me as quaint.

RUDI popped into my head faster than ELISHA did.

I usually like Gail's puzzles, This one, not so much. Not sure I've noticed her paired with Bruce before.

@Anonymous, 9:21. Re the LAT puzzle, I do it from the .puz file. I do puzzles on my iPad and prefer across lite versions. The puzzle app on the LAT page is a nnD Acronym for nuisance: PITA. There hasn't been one on cruciverb since June 30. Is there a problem we don't know about?

@ Casco, re yesterday. I don't twitter and barely use Facebook. I'd encourage you to use my email which can be found on my profile page.

I'm sure I'll think of something else to say later on.

retired_chemist 10:32 AM  

Ignored the theme as usual. Hand up for ScanS and sass, both easily fixed by crosses.

Pretty standard Tuesday fare. Didn't find it clunky or uninteresting. Jus not memorable.

Thanks to the constructors.

Leapfinger 10:46 AM  

@Lewis, I get a funf like @loren, but that gives me a rearranged phrase rather than a rearranged word.

'It's only me from over the sea'

Two Ponies 10:52 AM  

Puzzle was OK but I was distracted by the misspelling of riata. And trench is a perfectly good word. Why make it a silly shortened name of a coat???

Gill I. P. 11:11 AM  

@AliasZ: Me thinks you've once again been eating ACHEs and YEN for breakfast.
Does one get a rubberneck from gazing at ones NAVEL?

Andrew Heinegg 11:20 AM  

When constructing, you need to have the answers not be incorrect. While I never heard the term coffee roll, I was able to get the answer from the crosses. But, as already noted, it is not a dessert. It is a breakfast pastry. I have never heard in conversation, in movies or seen in writing a trench coat referred to as a trench. Because the word can have other meanings, shortening the phrase to the single word would be a bit odd. It was fun to have the Portugese word for lady in the puzzle on semis day for Brazil. Rex is right that, if you insist on the connection to the ends of answers type of puzzle, you need to make it clever, amusing or crunchy. The constructors of this puzzle were not able to accomplish this.

mac 11:55 AM  

OK Tuesday for me, with my hardest area in the SW. Am I the only one who never heard of GUFF? Also not knowing CGI or the baked goods, I considered Toffee roll. In the end I decided on CHI / huff, so one wrong letter. On a Tuesday!

AliasZ 12:09 PM  

@Lewis, the only one I can think of is two letters that can be attached to either end of BAR to make a French word or a reinforcement. Unless you want to consider BARAK and AKBAR.

In the last quarterfinal game Team Orange, if memory serves, hit the crossBAR twice. What are the odds? Which gives me another theme entry: DOUBLE CROSS.

[Double bar (music): two single bar-lines drawn close together, separating two sections within a piece, or a bar-line followed by a thicker bar-line, indicating the end of a piece or movement.]

Here is TOOT Thy Horn Hunter by English composer William Cornysh (1465-1523).

And this one's for you @Leapy, In the FEN Country by you-know-who, and for everyone else in need of blood-pressure reduction.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

CGI-computer generated images

OISK 12:33 PM  

Add me to those who have no idea what CGI is, and who considered "Toffeeroll" since coffee roll is not a dessert, as far as I know. Finally settled on CHI, so no DNF (on a Tuesday!) for me, but this brings up an issue that cost me a DNF last Sunday, because I never heard of GNC. Three letter corporate abbreviations should be used VERY sparingly, since to those who don't know them, every letter can by anything at all. Started out with EZRA instead of Ezer, but that was the only erasure. Much slower than the usual Tuesday for me, but that's fine. "It certainly entertained the gapers. My ways were strange, beyond all range, paragraphs got into all the papers." (Gilbert and Sullivan)

Susierah 12:48 PM  

I don't know if anyone has posted, but cgi stands for computer generated image, a technique used in movies for special effects. Almost all action movies, think transformers, use cgi.

SenorLynn 1:49 PM  

@chefbea--CGI is what all those Transformer movies you've seen so many times are about. ;-)

If everyone is so World Cup-crazy, why not everything-Brazil, senhors. e SENHORAs?

Speaking of Transformer movies, there's a whole new universe of names for puz makers. My 9yr grandson could be my secret solving weapon!

LaneB 1:52 PM  

Blew the NE corner w/PORTICO, TOOT and REATA. Thus, a Tuesday DNF to go with a lousy golf game. Hope the World Cup makes up for a very poor start to the day.

chefbea 2:17 PM  

@SenorLynn I should have asked all my grandchildren!! I am sure they could have explained CGI to Grammy

chefwen 2:41 PM  

@Numinous - I was able to get the L.A. Times off of Cruciverb today.

Numinous 2:51 PM  

@Casco, I'm terribly sorry, I thought my email was posted. I have remedied that now so I am contactable.

Anoa Bob 2:56 PM  

I'm becoming less and less amused by themes and more and more focused on the quality of the fill. Yeah, all those words crossing one another.

Seems to me like the trend in xwords these days is the opposite. Or maybe it's always been that way.

I agree today's theme was "standard" (damnation by faint praise?). There were a couple of goodies in the fill, such as KIKI DEE & YOGA MAT, but this was offset by an ERG here and a EZER there, and, of course, my albatross neck pendant, POCs galore. A few were necessitated by the themers, but all the others?

Maybe seeing them all together will help make my point:


Or not. Your results may vary.

Numinous 2:57 PM  

@chefwen: Yay! After reading your comment, I went and checked and it was there and so was the archive for the past week or so. Both have been missing since June 29. I will not, however, be discussing them with the sicko fantastic West Coast.

mathguy 3:05 PM  

@Numinous: Nice catch! And I enjoyed being reminded (maybe for the first time) of the lyrics to Over There.

I revived an old memory the other day when Samarra came up in the news. Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara is one of my favorite novels. The title comes from this folk tale.

A servant came to his master in a frantic state. "Master, I was just in the marketplace and came upon Death. He glared at me. I must flee. I will go to Samarra this very afternoon!" Later, the master went to the marketplace and encountered Death. "Why did you frighten my servant this morning?" "I didn't mean to frighten him," Death said. "I was just surprised to see him. "I have an appointment with him tonight, in Samarra."

mathguy 3:06 PM  

@Numinous: Nice catch! And I enjoyed being reminded (maybe for the first time) of the lyrics to Over There.

I revived an old memory the other day when Samarra came up in the news. Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara is one of my favorite novels. The title comes from this folk tale.

A servant came to his master in a frantic state. "Master, I was just in the marketplace and came upon Death. He glared at me. I must flee. I will go to Samarra this very afternoon!" Later, the master went to the marketplace and encountered Death. "Why did you frighten my servant this morning?" "I didn't mean to frighten him," Death said. "I was just surprised to see him. "I have an appointment with him tonight, in Samarra."

mathguy 3:06 PM  

@Numinous: Nice catch! And I enjoyed being reminded (maybe for the first time) of the lyrics to Over There.

I revived an old memory the other day when Samarra came up in the news. Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara is one of my favorite novels. The title comes from this folk tale.

A servant came to his master in a frantic state. "Master, I was just in the marketplace and came upon Death. He glared at me. I must flee. I will go to Samarra this very afternoon!" Later, the master went to the marketplace and encountered Death. "Why did you frighten my servant this morning?" "I didn't mean to frighten him," Death said. "I was just surprised to see him. "I have an appointment with him tonight, in Samarra."

sanfranman59 3:18 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 8:00, 8:33, 0.94, 31%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:36, 5:25, 1.03, 60%, Medium

Leapfinger 3:29 PM  

Thanks, @Alias. I've been off 'n' back on errands all day, and have been tuned in but w/o commenting, since my fingers are too big not only for flea sweaters, but for tiny typing also. You fooled me again; I thought you'd chop in with a BARcarolle. I'm gradually opening up to the Recreational VolksWagen.

Re yer C-in-C: Excellent crescendo from 'road-kill' onward; ISO like a LUMBAR curveball! 'URIEL' funny? Andre Rieu too!

Aren't you also surprised we haven't had ANY BAR from George? Mi az?

Lewis 3:31 PM  


BARRE (horizontal rail that ballet dancers use in practice and warmup) becomes REBAR (fortifying rod in concrete).

If you came up with something different, I'd love to hear.

@loren -- I'm guessing you got it, and quick!
@aliasz -- You definitely got it.
@leapfinger -- I'd love to hear what you found!

Anonymous 3:55 PM  

I thought Obsolescent meant not used anymore. Like wax cylinders or 78rpms.

Leapfinger 7:37 PM  

@Lewis, I didn't want to make it too easy for myself, so I was thinking of longer words, like BARnacle. I figured if there's such a thing as a 'clean house', then there's such a thing as a 'clean BAR'. [Obviously, I thought you wanted the number of letters added to BAR, and that the letters needed to be anagrammed...facepalm. I plead distraction.]

@jberg, interesting idea about NUTBAR. Opportunity knocks, eh?

@Gillip, I like what you did with Hoity TOITY, made it much more polloity. Hoi vei!

@loren, dittoid on the RUEDE/ SUEDE business, but havenue wondered why 'rood' instead of 'raid', and why 'swayed' instead of 'sood'?

NAVEL gazing no problem with RUDI's monokinis, and generally also becomes much easier about the 6th month of gestation, when the formerly reticent innie suddenly turns quite extroverted. Never mind about that, however: I do my best NAVEL gazing when the fleet is in...Those white uniforms and rakish caps make most every sailor-boy look cute.

ITSY BITST SPADE BARS sell trowels, I think. Some marked Him, and some marked HER.

otoh, ants don't find much of a 'safe haven' in aardvARKS....

OG LED his small band of Neanderthal hunters through the canebrake, to where the HERd of TRENCH Ants were sleeping in OPEN SPACE. (Modern TRENCH Ants are similar to Argentine Ants, except they dig ditches instead of making hills; prehistoric TRENCH Ants were not only bigger, but also much meatier.) Hunting had been poor, and if no food was found soon, the clan would starve. Even their rude weapons had been lost; they would have to attack with only their bare hands, and whatever they could find in the canebrake around them. OG saw what they would have to do. He growled his orders: "Cave men, cane 'em!"

Obvious that I can find almost endless amusement in very little, but I did find the variation on an old theme clever, and enough clever fill to last me the day.

Thanks, guys, I got my money's worth.

Leapfinger 7:52 PM  

@Lewis, now I'm thinking small; how about BARt and t-BAR? [t as in t-test or time, abbrev]

Anyone else notice the nods to BAR@Carola and @George BARany? Any one?

Went over by one; shall debit from tomorrow's allotment.

Anonymous 9:07 PM  

Rex: you have revealed your age. I find it hard to believe how young you are. I suppose because of all your crossword wisdom I imagined you as much older.

Gill I. P. 10:17 PM  

@Leapdedo...What can I say? Laughter is so good for the sole.

Sfingi 10:31 PM  

Rough for a Tues., what with RUEDE cross EZER.

Had COFFEE cake, first as the most common; sass before GUFF.

Otherwise, did't notice the theme.

AnonyLeap 11:24 PM  


I couldn't agree with you more, she said archly. But you must stop calling me @Leapdedo, or no-one will take me seriously. Too close to 'whoop-de-do'. You have a choice between pulgar and indice.

sanfranman59 1:48 AM  

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 6:27, 6:02, 1.07, 80%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:50, 8:33, 0.92, 23%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:11, 3:55, 1.07, 80%, Challenging
Tue 5:28, 5:25, 1.01, 53%, Medium

Gill I. P. 6:26 AM  

@Anonyleap...Would jetepinky do?

spacecraft 1:43 PM  

DNF. Double-natick with A_RO_. Plus, fatal error kept me out of the NE: ScanS for "Reads quickly." Of course. SKIMS just never occurred.

Are we actually SUPPOSED to know what Spanish rice is, or that U-angel, or EZER???? ON A TUESDAY, yet???????????

Bah. 1213, if anybody has a natural, bah again. Humbug.

DMG 1:52 PM  

Couple of hard spots in this one. Unfamiliar with EZER and REATA spelled with an "e", but they came from the crosses. Had a bit of a slower time in the SW where I eventually has to rework "sass" into GUFF. Not helped at all by CGI, just knew it was some "word" that has been used in other puzzles. But, I got there even if i had to guess that COFFEEROLL must be some regional thing. So a bit slow for a Tuesday, but, hey, look at that Captcha!

7740 and out!

Dirigonzo 3:16 PM  

If I were to register a quibble it would be with crossing the Israeli PM with not one or two but three foreign words - there must be a word for that. I got it, but jeez Louise.

414 - it does not get any sweeter than that!

rain forest 4:11 PM  

When I finished this, I thought that for sure Rex would like it. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and thought that it did *sparkle*, but I guess my standards are lower than some people's.

However, in Baccarat, my standards are rather higher, and today I have
18! Take that.

Waxy in Montreal 7:36 PM  

Only STRESS was the ARROZ/EZER crossing. A HIGHENERGY moment certainly was remembering RUDI Gernreich's much OGLED SENHORAs wearing monokinis featuring loads of OPENSPACE leading to GAPERS and SPYS galore.

Congrats to @Diri and @rain for their Baccarat prowess today. Unfortunately, my captcha was all text so am hors de combat, as they say.

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