English Channel port town / MON 8-18-14 / Cable TV's Heartland formerly / Suffix with Oktober Ozz / Avian Froot Loops mascot / War-torn part of Russia / Trash hauling boat

Monday, August 18, 2014

Constructor: Ian and Katie Livengood

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

THEME: A FISH OUT OF WATER (40A: Misfit … or what you get after the sequence described by the ends of 17-, 21-, 57- and 63-Across) — ends of the theme answers create the sequence BAIT, CAST, BITE and REEL

Theme answers:
  • OSCAR BAIT (17A: Film designed to attract Academy Awards consideration)
  • COLORCAST (21A: Like most TV shows starting in the 1960s)
  • UNDERBITE (57A: Problem with teeth alignment)
  • MOVIE REEL (63A: Projection room item)
Word of the Day: POOLE (16A: English Channel port town) —
Poole Listeni/pl/ is a large coastal town and seaport in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England. The town is 33 kilometres (21 mi) east of Dorchester, and Bournemouth adjoins Poole to the east. The local council is Poole Borough Council and was made a unitary authority in 1997, gaining administrative independence from Dorset County Council. The town had a population of 154,718 according to the 2011 census, making it the second largest settlement in Dorset. Together with Bournemouth and Christchurch, the town forms the South East Dorset conurbation with a total population of over 400,000. (wikipedia)
• • •

Wow. It's rare I don't enjoy an Ian Livengood puzzle, but this one rubbed me somewhat the wrong way. In a puzzle like this (Ends-of-Answers puzzles), the rationale needs to be good and the sequence (if, like today there is one) tight. But there is no sequence here. Or, rather, there is no parallel construction here, so it's just four words associated with events that happen in a sequence. You BAIT the hook, you CAST the line, you … see, here's the problem: you don't BITE anything. Either you *get* a BITE, which makes it a noun, or the *fish* BITEs, which disrupts the logic of the sequence, since up to that point, *you* (the fisher person) were doing things, not the fish. The fishy words could all be nouns, but that wouldn't make sense as a sequence—REEL really needs to be a verb for the FISH OUT OF WATER thing to work. So I appreciate that there's a general fishiness to all the endings, the "sequence described" just isn't one. That clue lies.

Then there's COACHES UP. What? I would say 75% of the resistance in this puzzle came from my trying to figure out What In The Hell was happening with that clue. It googles not that well, *and* where it does google decently is the realm of *sports*. This vague [Instructs] clue hardly works. If COACHES = [Instructs] (And It Does), how do you "informally" get an extra word (i.e. UP). I guess "wife" can, informally, be "old lady," which is longer, so "informal" doesn't *have* to mean "shorter," but adding UP to a phrase to make it mean The Same Thing … baffling. I see that it has some sports currency, but feels terribly makeshift. I love slang, and I love sports slang, but this … I don't love. It feels very much like an answer you make up when you're staring down a Down that runs through three themers, i.e. when you're staring down --AC---U-. I guess REACHES UP was deemed too pedestrian and COACHES UP seemed new and edgy? I don't know. Maybe I just have personal antipathy to it as a dumb, redundant phrase. Anyway, bad taste in my mouth.

  • 29A: Cable TV's Heartland, formerly (TNN) — the other answer that added difficulty to this puzzle. Is "Heartland" the name of an actual cable channel??? Never heard of it. I had no idea if it was a slogan or metaphor or a show or what.
  • 14D: Chemical formula for sodium hydroxide (NAOH) — More dislikes—chemical formulae. I'll grant you NACL, but after that, booooo. NAOH is a typo of NOAH, at best.
  • 23A: War-torn part of Russia (CHECHNYA) — depressing as that name is, it's the best thing in the grid by far. Feels fresh, interesting, timely(ish), relevant. I also like BLACK EYE and POLICE VAN, and especially like that they cross. 
I have to go process "Boyhood," which I saw earlier this evening (short review: it's great). Also have to  continue calming down after coming home and finding back door wide open and one dog missing. Daughter seems to have forgotten an important element of leaving the house, i.e. shutting all the doors. Anyway, I found the dog relatively easily. Half-circled the block, doubled back to stay close to home (where I figured she might gravitate), and there she was, on the sidewalk halfway down the block and across the street. I called her, and she looked at me like "who the hell is talking to me?" Then she realized who I was and came Sprinting toward me to tell me all about her neighborhood exploration shenanigans. She's had a full weekend. Yesterday she picked up a woodchuck and swung it like she was competing in the hammer throw. Again, traumatic for me, but pure joy for her. I'm just glad that at 12 years old, she's still so full of life. And glad she didn't run in front of a car. She's a perfectly trained, obedient dog, but leave her outside unattended, and it's Hop The Fence To Adventureland. So, yeah, gonna drink a little to settle my nerves, and toast her continued pulse. Good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Steve J 12:12 AM  

I thought, for this type of theme, it was executed reasonably well. I get what Rex is saying regarding BITE, but I also think it's overthinking things a tad. It's the right general sequence of things, and the phrases are mostly decent (OSCAR BAIT definitely being my favorite, COLOR CAST being the most awkward - to me, a color cast is what happens when you have an image that has a faint blueish (or reddish or greenish) tinge throughout).

COACHES UP is weird. I had COACHES, then erased it as I noticed I had two letters left. Crosses quickly showed COACHES had to be in there somehow, though.

Otherwise, perfectly acceptable Monday.

Mark 12:16 AM  

Much harder than an average Monday. Usually Monday goes in lickety-split with few skips; today there were many skips and re-runs.

Fugu 12:25 AM  

Downs-only report: getting much better at this. Finished today with a normal Tuesday time! SPARred with TOUCANSAM at FLOSSFEST, then threw down STATEFLAG, corrected to STATESEAL by the awkward --FK- from certainly correct KENO. NAH similarly corrected to NAW when the grid gave me, well, FLAK. POLICECAR and SSRS or POLICEVAN and SSNS? Was happy to see the more correct-feeling answer confirmed by MOVIEREEL. Good clue on LIMOS. BLACKTIE quickly became BLACKEYE (that escalated quickly). The whole SW plus OSCARBAIT evokes a tabloidian red carpet fiasco. Fun times!

...Has anyone ever said COACHESUP?

Casco Kid 1:03 AM  

I've seen SCOW before. Once. I knew to expect an unusual word. Finished with HOTLY for WETLY; teACHESUP for COACHESUP; ieNo for IONE; StOh for SCOW. Oh well.

Would the constructors care to use COACHESUP in a sentence?

Half hour. Lots of wrongness.

Anonymous 2:12 AM  

It's perfectly normal for a fisherman to say "I got a bite"

chefwen 2:23 AM  

I'm with Rex on this one. Didn't really blow my skirt up. I usually love Ian's puzzles but not this one. Jon beat me time wise on this one, so of course, he loved it. Let the strutting and crowing begin.

@Ellen S.it looks like your EELS are making an emergence. Let's celebrate.

I have a neighbor who greets me with a WETLY kiss, I have learned to avert my face. It's kinda of like a guppy kiss. I hope he doesn't read this blog

Ellen S 3:04 AM  

@Chefwen, it's okay to get WETLY kisses from your neighbor if it's a dog, or even @Rex's dog. Or even a cow, I guess. But not so much if it's a human. We are going to celebrate the return of the EELS? Sounds like part of a horror movie franchise. I suppose they taste like chicken...

Other than the EELS and what everybody else said, my only problem with this puzzle was Puzzazz is misinterpreting a lot of the letters I attempt to write. So after I get the red "sorry your answer is incorrect" message at the end of the puzzle, I have to go hunting for where I tried to put him in an "A" and Puzzazz inserted an "M". Can't take your eyes off this technology for even a minute!

Gill I. P. 4:10 AM  

I'm agreeing with @Rex and @chefwen's comments on this puzzle. I didn't mind the BITE sequence so much (actually, I didn't notice how it felt out of place until @Rex pointed it out) its just that it didn't seem to have the pop, crackle and snap that Ian usually delivers.
@Rex, so glad your puppy adventure had a happy ending. Reading your story and seeing STATE SEAL reminded me of when I lost our little dachshun/poodle on the sands of San Diego. I was napping in the condo we were renting and our little imp managed to scratch her way out through a back door. I nearly had heart failure. I took her brother with me to help find her and sure enough, he made a beeline to this very dead washed up SEAL. Inside the carcass you could see her romping around and happy as a clam with her new found treasure.....
Oh, I did like TOUCAN SAM.

George Barany 4:44 AM  

Ian Livengood is one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet in the crossworld, and he seems to have already figured out, early in the game, one of the secrets to a long and successful marriage. Partner with someone who has common interests, and co-construct crosswords! Congratulations, Ian and Katie both!

The chemist in me has to stick up for sodium hydroxide = NAOH. Ninth appearance in the New York Times during the Shortz era; the first was by Peter Gordon, the fourth by another married couple, the Byron's, and the penultimate by Ian's J.A.S.A. Crossword Class. On the other hand, the dyslexic spelling as NOAH is closing in on a hundred appearances, usually clued as the Biblical patriarch Ark builder, with an occasional Webster or Wyle thrown in for good measure.

CHECHNYA is a debut word, and (given its spelling) rather difficult for a Monday. Plus, some might say it fails the breakfast test.

I can relate to D_STUDENTS, another debut word and one that caused a slight hiccup in my solving process from staring at DST?????? Where I teach, grades of D are given out few and far between (only grades of D+ are given out more rarely). The official criterion: "achievement that is worthy of credit even though it fails to meet fully the course requirements." I sometimes quip that the reason our scale is A-D, plus F, is that those students whose achievement might warrant a hypothetical grade of E probably are so disconnected from reality that they might think it stands for "Excellent."

Anonymous 5:02 AM  

Didn't mind the theme as much. "I've got a bite" is a commen fishing phrase. And "reel" is a verb ("I reel the fish/line in").

I also had teCHESUP for a while.

Liked the proximity of TSK and TASKS

17:12 and an enjoyable ride. Interestingly I finished my first pass at across clues and only had a few answers I was sure of. But after a pass at the downs tge puzzle was nearing completion.

Loren Muse Smith 5:30 AM  

Rex – so glad your dog was safe and happy. When I'm feeling especially sloppy and sentimental, I marvel that the relationship we have with a pet is one of life's miracles.

Pretty tough here for a Monday, but I really do like the reveal and how it works. (For most fishermen – my son and his friend have failed to bring lots of fish in after the REEL step because some fish can just. flat. fight. FWIW, he recently landed The Fish of One Thousand CASTs – that mean, grumpy, thirty-eight inch long muskie with all those teeth.)

Agreed that the list of steps isn't 100% tight, but I'll take it. And look at all those 9s! Four theme 9s and then six down 9s – all overlapping in pairs. Add BLACK EYE and CHECHNYA – good stuff.

@M&A – loved your math suggestions to teach Joey! Har. We're starting basic graphing today. Around here, they just call'em "x y graphs," so I'm guessing maybe a little introduction to Descartes is in Joey's immediate future. I think. Therefore, I am about to bone up on my philosophy so I can COACH some eighth graders UP.

Ian, Katie – pretty hard but doable Monday, and I liked taking the idiomness out of the reveal. Nice job!

mac 5:30 AM  

Toughish Monday, but a cohesive theme, no problem with that. I like the idea of a couple constructing a puzzle together.

Nice account, Rex, with a great outcome!

Lewis 5:48 AM  

It was crunchy for Monday, but too easy for Tuesday, I think, and I like that it didn't just automatically fall. COACHESUP, as Rex says, doesn't Google well, but, in Google it is a thing (whether redundant or not), and maybe the Livengoods thought it was a hip, coming expression.

Yes, Boyhood is a very special movie, almost three hours and never feels long. Feels like you just dropped into someone else's life. It stuck with me for days.

I didn't have a problem with the theme's ending words -- they tell a story. You do three things (BAIT, CAST, and REEL) and the fish does one (BITE), and that's how a story is told.

I found three words that are part of a rhyming two-word phrase: LOW (low blow), OAT (oat groat), and PELL (pell mell).

Also, there are some famous people anagrams:
NAOH -- can't help but see this
WETLY -- (as in writer Eudora Welty, who we lost in 2001)
FLAK -- (as in actor Peter Falk, who we lost in 2011)

Anonymous 6:21 AM  

All the comments so far would have you think there was only one name on the byline. Congrats on the debut, Katie.

Danp 6:34 AM  

NE corner was easy, but POOLE is half a natick to me. Never heard of it, and nothing in Wikipedia makes me go, "Of course."

Questinia 6:42 AM  

For a FISH to be OUT OF WATER there needs to be actions on part of fisherman and fish. BAIT, CAST, BITE, REEL are all verbs to reflect the cooperation between both parties to achieve A FISH OUT OF WATER.
The *logic of the sequence* is preserved if you truly look at the goal... getting the FISH OUT. That it doesn't follow logic because it doesn't adhere strictly to the fisherman's POV or contain a particular syntax shows Rex is under-thinking this. The revealer does not *lie*.

The Livengoods done good.


James Dean 7:24 AM  

COACHESUP is a trifle obscure for a Monday. It comes from the "old ball coach " Steve Spurrier, head football coach at the University of South Carolina, who after a loss has been known to say "We gotta coach em up better."

AliasZ 8:02 AM  

I like to sit out on a DECKCHAIR early morning gazing into the colors of the sunrise above the ocean, with a cup of coffee and a NYT puzzle. My ideal summer vacation. The only sound is the rhythmic splashing against the breakwater, the incessant seagull chatter and the occasional distant barking of a STATE SEAL.

The coach sometimes is viewed as a savior and called the COACHESUS. It made as much sense to me at the time as any other made-up version of the word.

Don't you love the UNDERBITE of the English bulldog or the boxer?

Whene'er thou becomest hot in the noontime summer Sun, take a swyme in ye olde POOLE.

I loved this fishy puzzle despite its being tougher than the usual Monday, or maybe precisely because of it. Kate and Ian, if you have the time, I've got some fishing stories for you about the one that got away.


Mohair Sam 8:12 AM  

Some of you have a problem with COACHESUP? Must be a coach/manager here in the Philadelphia area uses it a lot, because the term is common to me. Maybe it's a Charlie Manuel thing. Anyhow, it has a certain country twang I kinda like - "I know the rookie misses the cut-off man, but we'll coach 'im up a little and he'll be fine."

I know @rex is right in his criticism of the theme, but I had no problem - methinks Rex overthunk this one.

That's a fine looking dog there Rex, looks lean and mean for a twelve-year-old. Glad you found her.

Anyhow - a fun and slightly tough Monday, thanks Ian and Katie Livengood.

pmdm 8:29 AM  

If I wanted to tell someone where they could find examples of overthinking something, I would probably point them towards this blog. Not that I don't do it myself. But for whatever reasons the analysis of crossword themes seems to push many people in that direction.

chefbea 8:33 AM  

pretty easy except for coaches up and everything else that has been said. Never heard of Pell or Poole.

I keep getting the same captcha Camiocam with a cute dog. I should really check out the ad.

RAD2626 8:38 AM  

Had Dimwitted at first for the bad students although that seemed a bit harsh for NYT and like many others started with teaCHes and STATEflAG. I think if a few clues had been punched up, it would have been a good Tuesday puzzle. Thought theme with the correct temporal sequence to get the fish landed was fine. Double my typical Monday time.

joho 8:44 AM  

@Rex, great write UP! And so happy you got your dog home safely!

I agree with you about COACHESUP but not so much regarding the tightness of the theme. The sequence of BAIT, CAST, BITE and REEL would surely work to get AFISHOUTOFWATER.

I liked ASH next to DIE and DSTUDENTS who would be needing services of someone who COACHESUP. I still don't like that phrase, though, even when I'm trying to make sense of it.

Other than CHECHNYA this was an easy Monday with a cute theme.

Congrats to Katie and Ian ... how wonderful to see a husband and wife team!

dk 8:45 AM  

OOO (3 mOOOns)

Grandfather called my restored wooden row boat a SCOW. That was ok as it was his old boat along with the Johnson Sea Horse motor that never ceased to fail halfway home.

Rex, I installed door closers after son and former spouse failed to comprehend that a logical sequence was open - close. Saved a lot of dog & cat hunting--reduced the in home insect population as well.

The puzzle did not seem that Monday-hard to me. 5D was strained but not abby normal. See Cinema Paradiso for a good REEL reference.

Ahem! pmdm, one function of a blog is over thinking otherwise why we be here.

Now the 10 step commute: HI HO HI HO its….

dk 8:45 AM  

OOO (3 mOOOns)

Grandfather called my restored wooden row boat a SCOW. That was ok as it was his old boat along with the Johnson Sea Horse motor that never ceased to fail halfway home.

Rex, I installed door closers after son and former spouse failed to comprehend that a logical sequence was open - close. Saved a lot of dog & cat hunting--reduced the in home insect population as well.

The puzzle did not seem that Monday-hard to me. 5D was strained but not abby normal. See Cinema Paradiso for a good REEL reference.

Ahem! pmdm, one function of a blog is over thinking otherwise why we be here.

Now the 10 step commute: HI HO HI HO its….

Fred Smith 9:06 AM  

Agree on "coaches up" objections, and that @Rex is overthinking the sequence.

But on lost dog stories ...

Monty was our deaf-and-nearly-blind elderly Sheltie, who we discovered missing at 11pm, hours before our 5am pickup for our trip to the airport. We scoured the area around our house, calling (without effect, of course) loudly.

After about a half-hour, a motorist fortunately heard our yelling and stopped, saying that he'd seen a small dog on the loose about a half-mile back on the road. We immediately drove there and found the bewildered little guy, shaking. A memorable experience, and thank God for the concerned motorist!

Z 9:18 AM  

3rd person POV? Not overthinking, mis-thinking. At first I was agreeing with Rex, but about three quarters of the way through I started thinking, "hey, this is pretty decent." After sitting back and looking at the completed grid I've decided this is a top-notch Monday. It also took me about three beats to figure out why Rex's theme criticism is wrong.

COACHES UP relative absence from the interwebs is an interesting research topic. I am fairly certain it precedes Steve Spurrier. To my ear it has gone from having an overall positive connotation to occasionally having a sarcastic connotation, over-coaching. Not always, but sometimes. At any rate, hardly new, so the reason for this phrase not googling well is a curiosity.

bswein99 9:20 AM  

I thought the theme was fine but "coaches up" was absurd, even if it does exist.

Pete 9:40 AM  

Change UNDERBITE to ONTHEHOOK and you get a sequence of verbs all actions by the fisherman.

It's not over-thinking something to try to see if it could be better. It's looking for excellence rather then acceptability. That's not a bad thing.

johnny stocker 9:47 AM  

Yeah, Coaches up is an pretty common term in sports parlance. I didn't even pause at that one.

Casco Kid 9:57 AM  

Sorry guys. I'm not sure what over-thinking is. Pushing analogies past breaking points? Or maybe that's just called being silly.

The first rule of criticism is to analyze what's there in terms of its own (or commonly agreed upon) assumptions, rather than what isn't there, or using other assumptions of dubious sourcing. Perhaps what is called over-thinking is simply a violation of this rule.

quilter1 10:01 AM  

Easy for me and no objections to anything. On to BEQ.

Arlene 10:02 AM  

This was a bit more effort than a usual Monday. I'm pleased that I could fill in a clue that involves chemistry - seems I'm better at that than rap stars!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:08 AM  

Liked the puzzle overall, but share the feeling of thumbs down on COACHES UP.

Whirred Whacks 10:11 AM  

Liked the puzzle -- especially COACHES UP. That answer has the modern "with it" lingo feel -- more so than any rap lyric or rap clue I've seen in the past month.

Citizen Dain 10:19 AM  

I feel like COACHES UP very much exists -- I didn't hesitate for a second when I saw it, and it felt like a familiar phrase to me -- but I think the mistake is thinking of it in sports terms. My understanding of the use of the term is that it is for non-sports uses and refers (usually pejoratively) to somebody being told what to say. For example, if the police were interviewing a witness to a crime, but the lawyer had gotten to them first and instructed them as to what to say, the police would lament that they wouldn't get anything out of the witness because they had already been "coached up" by the lawyer. The episode in the American version of "The Office" in which Michael has to testify against his executive girlfriend Jan is a perfect example -- the whole first half of the episode is him being "coached up" before the questioning (and then of course it all falls apart once they get in the room because he is not a very apt learner).

Is anybody else familiar with this usage?

Leapfinger 10:22 AM  

Idiomness? Very groaty. Amin to say, what's better than a little meditation, right, @lms?

Curtsy-back @Ques-T.

Sealed and De-Livered
[that latter being for @Gilly's pup]

Livengoods even better pluralized.

Z 10:26 AM  

@Citizen Dain - Yes.

@Casco Kid - "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate" is the classic enjoinder against "over-thinking." Why - because you end up in more rabbit-holes when you do.

evil doug 10:31 AM  

I've heard of married up. I've heard of felt up. I've heard of coached. But I've never heard of coached up.


RooMonster 10:35 AM  

Hey All!
So, :-), I thought this was fairly easy, I zipped through it quite easily. Nice grid, liked the 6 long Downs (Hi @Loren!), and it had minimal dreck. I'm one of the. COACHESUP not great answer leaner, but after reading the comments, I can see how it could work. CHECHNYA was nice on a Monday.

OMAN, this puz was fun, although ATAD easy. I SLEW it. IAM TOAD not to SNEER at fill like COACHESUP.
IAM MALE, hear me REED on the SOFA! Bad wordFEST, I NAOH! ADIEU


wreck 10:45 AM  

I'm in the camp of liking "coaches up" - both in the the sports vernacular AND how @Citizen Dain used it. I think both are fairly common usages.
The puzzle was a tad longer than a normal Monday - I liked it.

jberg 11:11 AM  

I breezed through this one. Maybe it's because I put in teACHES to right away, and got a bunch of crosses off those five correct letters. Plus I remembered reading about garbage SCOWs in NYC, so the error didn't last long.

I like the sequence, as many have said, the contemporary (since 60 years ago) thing in short stories is multiple POVs. So you could call this a Rashomon puzzle.

With the DECK CHAIR next to the SOFA, this one felt kind of lazy!

Carola 11:23 AM  

I thought it was an unusually good Monday, with a cute theme, a great grid-spanning reveal, very nice long Downs, and a number of creative, original entries..  Overall, I didn't think it was necessarily harder than a normal Monday puzzle, just more interesting.

After BAIT and CAST, I saw what the puzzle was angling for, so I was able to write in the misfit with no crosses.  Got snagged on Dover before POOLE and STATE flag.  

You can also get A FISH OUT OF WATER with a SEINE net.

COACHES UP sounded fine to me, but it got me thinking about other verbs that are used with "up" and whether and how the "up" changes the meaning.  "Bundle up" is different than "bundle," but is "finish up" really different from "finish"?  Verb list aka time waster here.

R. Akutagawa 11:25 AM  

There are no multiple points of view in Rashomon. It's a simple story of two people, and how far one can sink.

Master Melvin 11:26 AM  

UConn (men's) basketball fans frequently use the term "COACHES UP" to explain why UConn has at least twice as many national championships over the past 2 decades as teams like Duke, N. Car., Kentucky, Kansas, which typically have 7-10 McDonald's HS All Americans on their rosters.

The staff COACHES UP less heralded recruits, so that they can compete successfully with all those blue chip recruits.

This is a common sports phrase.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 1:34 PM  

@muse: With potential future Fields Medal winner Joey in the class it is essential that U stress to them all the importance of always "Keeping Up With The Kartesians."

Hard to beat MOVIER EEL and EELS and METE and MEETS all in one rodeo. Not to mention ASS and ASSET and ASAP. newlywedsthUmbsUp. And congrats & best wishes from M&A.

fave spinoff theme: COACHES SUP, COACHES PUP, COACHES CUP, COACHES YUP. Get ready to write that there sweet rejection letter, Anna Shortzmeister...

@Lewis--Loved yer runtpuz idea. Inspired my newest one, over at the usual site. Thanx.


M and Also 1:57 PM  

p.s. Great Writeup, @63. Keep the dog stories acomin. What's her name? Looks like a "Wagmar", to m&e. Dogs are the best.


mathguy 1:58 PM  

@Carola: Like you, I was thinking of two-word phrases ending with "up" where "up" doesn't contribute to the meaning like "finish up." @evil doug had "felt up." "Ate up," "beat up, and "fed up" also occurred to me. The "up" in "marry up" is different. I have a friend who when introducing his wife sometimes says that she married up.

I print up the puzzle at 7 pm here on the west coast and do it on a clip board. I'm usually watching TV with my wife while I'm doing it so I don't keep track of how long it takes us. But we were busy last night and I just printed it up this morning. Just for fun, I gave it my full attention and timed myself. It took me 15 minutes. I didn't have any real snags. Two or three times I went to the clue for an entry where I didn't have any letters. I wasted a minute or so looking at the theme out of curiosity -- it didn't help in the solving. The point? It takes me about ten minutes just to write in all the letters.

Poocho Sphere 2:20 PM  

How far can a Wagmar chuck a woodchuck, if a Wagmar would chuck woodchucks?
But, I dogress...

SenorLynn 3:01 PM  

@Rex--Amen to Boyhood. It stands on its own, & then you realize Linklater had this vision that spanned 12 yrs!

SandySolver 3:10 PM  

Am not so fond of Paddy Wagon, it being an ethnic slur and all.

Anonymous 3:46 PM  

I found the puzzle to be fun and enjoyable, but I, too, had an issue with BITE, which I thought should be HOOK. Also, when the "reveal" is in the center, and, in this case, so easy to get, it doesn't have the same impact as when it comes at the end.

Punch 4:01 PM  

“There is the bait, the bite, the cast, and the reel … a sequence that leads to a fish outta water.” All nouns, it works for me. I don’t see a problem, but I’ll keep thinking about it. Hey now, doesn’t A.S.A.P. mean “As Soon as Possible”, which is not “immediately.” Whatever STET stands for — I think it means “now”.

@R. Akutagawa, Wait a minute, the story (not the film) “Roshoman” is written by someone with the name you signed on with — if you’re talking about the story, while everyone else is thinking of the film … then perhaps you are trying to add “multiple points of view” to this discussion?

sanfranman59 4:37 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 (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:50, 6:02, 1.13, 90%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:45, 3:57, 1.20, 97%, Challenging

Lewis 4:49 PM  

@m&a -- Wow and I mean wow! How did you do that, that is, find the right words? That is amazing. It is one of your top tier. People, you need to see m&a's latest runt. It will be worth. Your. While.

Z 4:54 PM  

@Punch - since @R. Akutagawa died in 1927 he never had a chance to complain about the movie. Nor did he have a chance to learn about the Rashomon Effect. Generally speaking, the POV of dead guys can be ignored.

Tita 4:58 PM  

@Rex - so glad for the happy ending. And really so well told.
So many other stories here attest to the experience being a sadly common one.
@Gill - you beat my most recent dogscape close call...
When my sister's 2 insane black labs bolted out the door, I assumed of course that they made that bee-line straight for their beloved mistress, who was walking on the beach. That's where I started to run, until a nice neighbor pointed me inland... I had to tell my sister that they love rolling around on, and eating, a day-old dead seagull more than they love her.
What a stench that was - I can only imagine your pup's!

I think of DECKCHAIR as a piece of steamship furniture.
I did raise an eyebrow at Paddy wagon, a tad surprised that in this age, it would make it past the PC editors. Maybe it's one of those terms whose origins are no longer known by most. Anyone know if it refers to the cops or to the robbers...?

Overall liked the puzzle alot.
Thank you to the Livengoods.

Tita 5:06 PM  

@Lewis - thanks for the reminder.
@M&A - awesome! Thanks for another 4:04 minutes of "creative avoidance".

As long as I'm back, yes to over-thinking on OFL's part. That's why I come here.
It's part how I learn about puzzle construction and solving.

OK - back to work now.

Outlaw M and A to reply 5:43 PM  

@Lewis, Tita--- Full disclosure: I'm not near that amazin. Please see note at


Lewis 6:18 PM  

@m&a --oh, you are amazin, but so is the person who came up with this. Made my day to see it.

Joe Dipinto 6:34 PM  

@Pete at 9:40 am -- a problem with ONTHEHOOK as an answer is that the whole phrase relates literally to fishing ("I've got one on the hook!"), although it can be used metaphorically too. SALESHOOK (clued,e.g., as "Marketing strategy") would work better.

I too was baffled by COACHESUP, but the large number of imaginative answers for a Monday puzzle more than made up for that and the slight inconsistency in the theme. Bravo and Brava to the Livengoods!

Unanimus 10:40 PM  

Silliest thing I ever heard, that little old Q-T gal got it right. If the fish don't bite, that dude can keep on hookin' all day long, won't catch nuthin'.

'I never heard' don't cut it. Works as an observation every time, never does as a valid argumint.

So mathguy sez he printed up the puzzle. Howcum you print up but write down?

Gotta go overthink that some more, look where underthinkin' got me...

sanfranman59 11:15 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 6:45, 6:02, 1.12, 88%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:36, 3:57, 1.16, 93%, Challenging

jae 1:00 AM  

Yup - Tough Mon. for me too.

I agree with Questina about the theme.

COACHES UP seemed vaguely familiar, but may be a tad tough for Mon.

@mathguy - West Coast, 7pm print out, clip board, TV, wife... I am that guy!

Post from my iPad in Vancouver enroute to Victoria Island.

evil doug 4:57 AM  

If there's a "coaches up", is there also a "coaches down? " No. Because what coaches do is try to improve their athletes (or, now that the term has spread beyond sports, their students or colleagues or whatever).

So "coaches up" is simply an unnecessarily redundant way of saying: Coaches.

AnonAnon 5:14 AM  

Some coaches coach down to the wire.

Wha' hoppened to Tuesday?

AnonAnon 5:17 AM  

Tell us more about necessary redundance, Evil D.

evil doug 6:31 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 6:42 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 6:49 AM  

See? I applied my unnecessarily redundant use of the language to draw your attention, thereby rendering my unnecessary redundancy quite necessary and non-redundant.

Glad I could coach you up on that...


Sandysolver 8:01 AM  

Irish cops, that's the stereotype paddy wagon depends upon.

spacecraft 1:31 PM  

Hand "up" for COACHESUP. Silly. Is COLORCAST a thing? I got it only because it ends in CAST, a fishing activity. I assume it meant "broadcast in color," but the compound word is brand new to me.

I'm with OFL on this one; the LINE is not exactly taut. We'll call this one easy-medium, and give it a C+.

603 starts my week off with a BITE!

DMG 1:39 PM  

Enjoyed the fish story. Had trouble accepting COACHESUP and, while I knew it, had to spell CHECHNYA from the crosses. Otherwise, smooth sailing. I've grown up,knowing paddywagon, thinking the "paddy" part referred to the police! Also know the vehicle as the black mariah with no idea where that came from.

Only 50 today!

rain forest 1:43 PM  

COACHES UP is *both* redundant and silly. Also for we Canadians who don't know from PELL grants, we simply have to put in the only letter that works for the silly phrase and hope that works.

I thought the theme represented a sequence of events, whether verbal or nounal, quite accurately. I don't know what "overthinking" means. You either think, or you don't think. I know I sometimes indulge in the bad way of thinking, but at least I'm thinking, I think.

Oh ho, @Spacey, not so fast.
207. double or nothing?

Dirigonzo 4:31 PM  

I just let COACHESUP go in on the crosswords, and since I always misspell SkOW it took me a second or two of head-scratching to realize my error. I just noticed that I had the reverse error in PEcOE/DECcCHAIR but that I was able to spot and fix instantly. I think the theme holds up quite nicely as is. It would be interesting to watch a husband and wife co-construct a puzzle, I think - many marriages wouldn't survive the ordeal, I suspect.

1333 - can I discard one?

Anonymous 6:39 PM  

Coaches up is F'd up!

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