Start to grunt / WED 8-20-14 / Runoff conduit / Game in which pieces can be forked / Name that's Old Norse for young man / Wasabi bar snack / Autograph seeker's encl / Start of magic incantation

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: The FREE "Wheel of Fortune" letters (55D: Like the initial letters of the answers to the six starred clues, on "Wheel of Fortune") — initial letters of the six starred clues are a stand-alone R, S, T, L, N, and E, respectively

Theme answers:
  • R RATED MOVIE (17A: *Fare for those 17 and up)
  • S STAR (22A: *Astronomical red giant)
  • T ROWE PRICE (28A: *"Invest With Confidence" firm)
  • L FRANK BAUM (48A: *Best-selling novelist who wrote the children's poetry volume "Father Goose")
  • N*SYNC (54A: *"It's Gonna Be Me" group)
  • E STREET BAND (60A: *The Boss's backup musicians)
Word of the Day: Hedy LAMARR (6D: Hedy of "Ecstasy") —
Hedy Lamarr (/ˈhɛdi/; 9 November 1914 – 19 January 2000)[1] was an Austrian-born American actress and inventor.[2]
After an early film career in Germany, Lamarr moved to Hollywood at the initiation of MGM head, Louis B. Mayer, where she soon became a star during MGM's "Golden Age." Max Reinhardt, who directed her in Berlin, called her the "most beautiful woman in Europe," having "strikingly dark exotic looks", a sentiment widely shared by her audiences and critics. She garnered a degree of fame and notoriety after starring in the Czech director Gustav Machatý's Ecstasy, a 1933 film which featured closeups of her acting during orgasm in one scene, as well as full frontal nude shots of her in another scene.
Lamarr was also notable as co-inventor, with composer George Antheil, of an early technique for spread spectrum communications and frequency hopping, which paved the way for today's wireless communications and which, upon its invention in 1941, was deemed so vital to national defense that government officials would not allow publication of its details.[9] At the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Sixth Pioneer Awards in 1997, she and George Antheil were honoured with special awards for their "trail-blazing development of a technology that has become a key component of wireless data systems." (wikipedia)
• • •

I've seen variations on the initial-letter thing before, but not this variation. It's interesting, though none of the resulting themers are particularly remarkable, and two of them are so common and crosswordy (SSTAR, NSYNC) that they either disappear into the grid or outright detract from the theme, depending on how generous you're feeling. You have six themers, but it feels like four because of those two short dull answers. The upside of those short, dull answers is that the grid is less crowded with theme, which allows for a pretty interesting overall grid. The shorter fill isn't great, but the abundance of solid longer stuff, esp. in the Downs, is impressive. RHAPSODY, TEA KETTLE, GREW WEARY, CLASS ACT—all wonderful. The clue on the revealer, though—it seems incomplete. I mean, there is one, specific context in which RSTLNE are free: at the end, during the showcase or whatever it's called. Right? I mean, they don't just give you those letters during ordinary turns, do they? So the clue there should be more specific. Much more. But it's not like the answer was hard to figure out, so no harm done.

I crushed this puzzle—half minute faster than yesterday's, and not a Wednesday record, but well below my average time. But my experience appears to be slightly anomalous today (based on posted times), so I've adjusted the difficulty rating accordingly. I was lucky enough to catch the letter thing right away—which brings me to another criticism of the theme execution. For elegance's sake, I wouldn't have any answers *besides* the themers that had single letters within them. Acronyms and initialisms are fine, but HARD G? … I'd've tried desperately to ditch that if I could've (1A: Start to grunt?). I got it immediately (not always the case with those SOFT / HARD letter answers), which may have been the key to my starting quickly. Then I was confronted with an initial RR- in the first themer, which made that easy to uncover as well. Once I got T. ROWE PRICE, the theme concept was obvious, and things got even easier from there. I had a few hiccups. STARES for GLARES, ESTOS for ESTAS, some flopping around in the TMS / NOMEN / ESSES section … but overall, piece of cake. Only thing that I didn't know, in the end, was what it means for a piece to be "forked" in CHESS. But I don't play, so that's not surprising. Here's a definition of Fork (Chess) for you, from wikipedia:

In chess, a fork is a tactic whereby a single piece makes two or more direct attacks simultaneously. Most commonly two pieces are threatened, which is also sometimes called a double attack. The attacker usually aims to gain material by capturing one of the opponent's pieces. The defender often finds it difficult to counter two or more threats in a single move. The attacking piece is called the forking piece; the pieces attacked are said to be forked.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


wreck 12:08 AM  

I think Rex's review was spot on. I too was slightly faster than yesterday. So far, a pretty enjoyable week (I'm including Sunday, thought it is probably technically from last week).

wreck 12:22 AM  

P.S. - "Dazed and Confused" was purported to be from the Summer of '76 (my own summer before my Senior year of High School.)This was so "spot on" from my own suburban Texas/Oklahoma City background! Too funny!

Steve J 12:48 AM  

If I focus on the theme, I don't much like this. Incredibly flimsy idea for a theme, with the problems Rex noted. It doesn't help that I find "Wheel of Fortune" insipid.

If I look at this as a themeless puzzle - which is essentially how this filled out for me - it's pretty good. As Rex noted, short fill's not great, but there are many good longer answers: RHAPSODY, TEA KETTLE, CLASS ACT. There were a couple really nice clues, especially for TRYST (also a nice bit of fill).

Accordingly, I'm choosing to look at this as a themeless. The theme's barely there anyway, so that's hardly a stretch.

(Interesting coincidence seeing L FRANK BAUM showing up the day after a "Wizard of Oz" puzzle theme.)

chefwen 12:57 AM  

@Steve J - I'm with you on insipid, if it happens to come on by accident Jon will say, quite loudly, TURN THIS SH#T OFF.

Wow, C.C. has been rather prolific of late, Sunday LA Times, Tuesday LA Times and here on Wednesday, when does that little girl sleep?

Like @Rex, wasn't thrilled with the reveal. Other than that, O.K. puzzle. Had a little slow down in the SCENE/NOMEN/FREE section.

Love ASIAGO cheese.

jae 1:00 AM  

Me too for faster than yesterday's (no erasures and no WOEs) so easy-medium works for me.   Clever theme that I didn't see coming except for the first initial part.  Needed the reveal to make sense of it as I don't watch Wheel.  Liked it  in a luke warm sort of way.

Mark 2:08 AM  

Yogi Berra said if you see a fork while you're playing chess, take it.

manitou 3:51 AM  

not to mention SIDE A

mac 4:53 AM  

Pretty good Wednesday. The hard G did slow me down in that area.

I like Asiago, but I never grate it. Amazing woman, Hedy Lamarr.

Loren Muse Smith 4:53 AM  

An unabashed lover of insipid TV (and movies), I have nevertheless missed becoming a Wheel watcher, so I didn't even really know those letters were free. If you think about it, Wheel would be the quintessential game for crossword solvers, right?

I always enjoy CC's puzzles, and I found this fairly easy. And I agree – GREW WEARY, TEA KETTLE, and CLASS ACT are all lively. And TRYSTS is just a cool-looking word.

Mini DEEP space theme with ALIENS, LIFE, and S STAR.

Gotta get in early this morning to teach myself how to use a #$&^% protractor. Then I can turn around and figure out how to wow a class of boisterous eighth graders with its wonders as we rotate triangles.

Joey/Cartesian update – I was stunned that no one was impressed, let alone interested, in learning about Descartes and his méthode. I wisely regrouped and tabled the Pascal talk. But. . .I told Joey he was famous because I talked about him here, and that I was going to dedicated a one or two minutes each morning to a "Joey lesson" (snippet not involving math). He seemed very pleased.

@M&A – your "Keeping up with the Cartesians" comment made me laugh out loud!

CC – nice job, as usual. Keep'em coming!

Gill I. P. 5:40 AM  

Aside from L.FRANK BAUM turning a couple of people into lesbians yesterday, I want to ask: Did you ever see a lobster ride a flea?
@Loren...I almost wish you had been my math least I would have laughed in math class. I might have groaned at the protractor though.
@Steve J...Insipid? You're too kind.
I like Ms. Burnikel's puzzles and this Wed. of hers didn't let me down. She always comes up with good ideas and knows how to make them flow with ease. Loved seeing ESL sitting atop of DIA and the AMISH sharing ABHOR and R RATED MOVIE and then you have SYRIA nudging ALLAH.
RSTLN...Pat, I'd like a Q.

Jack Lee 5:55 AM  

"Work tables?"?!

Glimmerglass 6:56 AM  

"Work" is a verb (as at a restaurant). I don't watch Wheel, so the F in FREE/FIST was my last letter. The revealer didn't reveal anything to me.

neoclassicist 7:03 AM  

My favorite clues were:
Org. With a no-shoes policy (TSA)
Plain People (AMISH)
Top of a platter (SIDEA)

Danp 7:15 AM  

So why did Dorothy want to go back to Kansas?

Mohair Sam 7:26 AM  

I'm with the apparently large contingent here that doesn't watch "Wheel" hence played this as a themeless. As a result our last letter was first E in FREE.

Come to think of it - I did see Wheel once on YouTube when they screwed some guy out of $1 million. Insipid indeed, @Steve J.

60, 66, and 69 across all pretty much gimmes here so never saw the clue for BUS until I got here and somebody questioned. Work tables? - great clue.

AnnieD 7:43 AM  

My last fill was TMS...took me awhile to figure out what TMS was...I know TMI is too much information, so I figured TMS was too much sugar?

No, no...but perhaps it should've been...

Lewis 7:47 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 7:49 AM  

It felt like a Tuesday puzzle. I don't like all the hooplah that has to come with Wheel of Fortune, but I do like solving the puzzles as fast as I can. I liked the clue to SIDEA, and there was some zip with UPSTAGE and CLASSACT.

Good blue collar solve.

John V 8:06 AM  

The theme was completely lost on me. Took forever to parse the revealer and the South. Did nothing for me as I've never seen Wheel of Fortune

pmdm 8:11 AM  

I am, like Loren Muse Smith and Mohair Sam, not a watcher of Wheel of Fortune so I had absolutely no idea why the letters were free. Granted, there are few of us in existence. (I would not be surprised if we were the only ones.) But it brings up a question. With this type of theme, which presumes specific knowledge of the solver to understand it, shouldn't the Times be nice and include an explanation with the following day's answer. Every now and then, for extremely cryptic themes, that does happen.

Interestingly enough, even though I didn't understand what the theme was about (other than single letters beginning answers, I enjoyed the puzzle. Themes just don't affect me that much (unless they are terrifically good or terrifically bad). What I do enjoy are other answers which could be interpreted as variants of the theme. So I really liked HARDG and SIDEA because those two answers invert the requirement to start the theme answers with a single letter. (The only good reason for using those two horrible - in my opinion - entries.) Would have liked more of those.

AliasZ 8:15 AM  

Other theme entries I found in this puzzle:

S-IDEA - The nineteenth most successful solution
A-BRA - Top-rated supporter
S-EWER - Astronomical red jug
H-ARM - Nuclear weapon branch
N-OMEN - The ultimate harbinger
I-FEAR - The latest Apple product that induces terror in competitors
C-LASS ACT - Something a not-so-hot Irish girl would do

Good one, CC.

My TEA KETTLE is whistling. Gotta go.

Tita 8:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tita 8:28 AM  

@Mark - lol!

Those kinds of clues for HARDG are starting to '

Is TEAKETTLE another side-theme outlier?
@Alias - lol too! O rats - you beat me to the punch...

We do often watch Jeopardy. It is a mad race for the remote before we hear the chant "Wheel. Of. Torture!"
I'll watch it with my mom, who loves solving just about any kind of word puzzle. Actually, what she loves even more is co-solving - that is, turning it, or crosswords, for that matter, into a team sport. It keeps her young!

Puzzle was pretty fun, even if theme GREWWEARY. Thank you.

Carola 8:37 AM  

Similar experience and reaction as @Rex's. After I finished, I was struck at how many of the entries are anagrams of other common crossword words: estas, loess, dia, rag, egos, map, sewer, side a, tsa, rim, erle, life, free, nose, edys, bus, ucla, stes, amy, dot (on Fri/Sat).

AnnieD 8:45 AM  

Reminds me of the story about hedging your bets. The big prize requires you to solve a puzzle in a short period of time. The category was thing...the word was:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

They give you RSTLNE for free, so the contestant got the following:

_ _ _ R _ _ _

Then they let you guess 3 other letters so she guessed M C letters matched so she was still stuck with

_ _ _ R _ _ _

They set the clock and she immediately guessed


and won. When asked if she knew it was paprika, why didn't she guess A or P. She replied, if she had and it wasn't paprika, then she'd get no more help, but if it was, she knew they wouldn't be there!

NCA President 8:57 AM  

TMS/NOMEN crossing at the M was hidden from sight for a very. long. time. NOMEN is, I take it, latin for "name?" Ah, so.

@Alias: this is why I come here to read the comments. Once I'm done with a puzzle, I'm done with it. It's interesting to see how deeply the theme appears to run, even if ZB hadn't intended it to be so. Reminds me a little of my days analyzing Brahms. Motifs abound much so that you can't believe he intended all of them. I personally believe he had extraordinary intuition, but the case could be made that he was a freaking genius.

I only know TROWEPRICE from listening to All Things Considered. They seem to get regular shout outs as corporate donors for that show.

I'm just curious if there are any muslims commenting here that might take offense at the use of ALLAH in the puzzle this way. I thought, (and I could be wrong), that that name was thought of differently in Islam than the more generic use of the word "God" in's more like YHWH for Jews, in that it is a special name that is kind of above being placed in a puzzle like this. Admittedly, the only things I know about Islam I learned by reading Huston Smith and what I've read in the NYT, but seems to flirt ever so slightly with offending some people's religious sensibilities.

So truly, I'm just curious if I'm being to critical of the use of the name.

Bearasgar 9:05 AM  

Nose fora aroma?

Z 9:10 AM  

Mr. Sourpuss here, but I've been seeing Ms. Burnikel's byline a lot and they are becoming puzzles to skip. I offer you this: EDS-ESSES-ESTAS. That's an 13 letter line with four E's and 6 ESSES. Toss in a D from an -ED ending and what you have is dross across the bottom. There's more tired fill to not like here (random star classifications, record SIDEs, ESL, SAE, ERLE Stanley Gardner, I'M OK). I'm thinking fewer puzzles with more polish might be nice. We have seen better. It's not that I ABHOR this puzzle, more like this is the Goodbye Cruel World period for Burnikel.**

UPSTAGE - Are we going to get an UP rebus tomorrow?

**In the re-RELEASE liner notes, Elvis Costello wrote: "Congratulations, you have just purchased our worst album!"

Leapfinger 9:12 AM  

After RRATED MOVIE and SSTAR, I thought I had the theme figured, so was surprised when 28A wasn't TTOWE BROZ JOSIP. CC what I mean?

Thin theme, good fill. NOMEN were harmed in the construction of this puzzle.

Z 9:22 AM  

@NCA President - Muslims are as varied in their beliefs and attitudes as Christians. You will find as much difference between Muslims as between the AMISH and a Unitarian Universalist. I've never run into a Muslim Arab-American who would take offense at ALLAH being in a puzzle, but I wouldn't be too surprised if some did. I would be a little surprised if the kind of individual who would take offense were also the kind of individual who did the NYTX.

bswein99 9:26 AM  

You KNOW a puzzle is easy when you breeze through it and have no idea what the theme means. Definitely easier than Tuesday's.

Hedy LAMARR was from a very wealthy central European Jewish family that married their brilliant and beautiful daughter off to a big industrialist who she hated so much that she fled with her jewelry to Hollywood. You know the phrase "she's pretty but no rocket scientist"? Well, she was (sort of) a rocket scientist as well as lovely. Not much of an actress, though.

RooMonster 9:30 AM  

Hey All!
Seemed a neat puz, fairly easy to solve. I caught onto the theme at the second "inital" answer I got. I see another UP, although this one is common!
@Alias Z, ya missed one! A-LIENS-Top notch mortgages.

EWE could say this puz was a CLASSACT. No HARM, ASI solved with NOSHED of tears. My NOSE sniffed out answers OFNOTE, and I GREWWEARY of nothing. I FORESEE no WEAK parts, IFEAR weekday puzzles are getting easier! Maybe I just got LUCKY!


RooMonster 9:38 AM  

Oh, and I wanted to add, why CC as initials for this constructor? I guess I'm not one of the cool kids on the inside of things. :-) But, IMOK!


chefbea 9:38 AM  

tough puzze for a Wednesday!! So what is TMS in coke and pepsi?? and why is aroma=nose???

Love asiago cheese and of course tea kettle

Doug Garr 9:42 AM  

I couldn't figure out asiago until the end, even though I buy this cheese all the time. The theme was a little iffy, and when I was solving I thought, uh oh, Rex is going to tee off on this. But then I smiled at all the long downs and their clues -- nifty, I say! -- and then figured the review would be objective and fair. The usually cranky Rex was spot on, as the first commenter put it.

wreck 9:49 AM  


TM = Trade Mark

NOSE = term for the "aroma" of wine

JC66 9:53 AM  

@ chefbea

I think TMs refer to Trade Marks and oenophiles refer to a wine's aroma as NOSE.

JC66 9:55 AM  

That's why I comment so rarely.


Zed the Answer Man 10:00 AM  

@RooMonster - Ms. Burnikel's byline everywhere else is C.C. Burnikel. I presume one gets CC from Zhouqin the same way you get Dick from Richard. She has done many puzzles, including yesterday's LAT (a better puzzle than today's NYT IMHO).

@JC66 - I've been waiting for someone to beat me to this answer. Watch - right before I hit submit someone will.

jberg 10:08 AM  

Everyone seems to be saying this was easy - me too - so @Rex didn't need to adjust his rating. I've sometimes watched Wheel, but had no idea about the free letters -- so for most of the puzzle I was trying to make some other sense of the theme. At first i forgot Price's name, and went with rROWE -- leading me to think the revealer would be about railroads. But no.

If you care about soils and feeding the world - and you should - you should watch this documentary about China's Loess Plateau.

quilter1 10:59 AM  

Pretty easy for me. I solved from right to left, picked up the theme at ESTREETBAND and raced to the finish. I had many Muslim co-workers at the hospitals and don't think they would object to ALLAH in the puzzle.

Encounters Nepal 11:18 AM  

Everest Base Camp Trekking often touted as one of the most beautiful of trekking trips in the whole world and rightly it is. Located at the lap of world's highest peak, Everest Base Camp (EBC) is rewarded as the best trip Nepal has to offer. Since 1920, Mt Everest has captivated intrepid men and women. There were some exploits of legends like Sir Edmund Hillary, George Mallory and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa to put the mighty mountains on the map. Thousands of adventurers followed them making huge sacrifices. EBC Trek is designed to fulfill the dream of many people to experience the historic route to the base of world's highest peak. Since the beginning, Everest Base Camp Route has gained massive popularity and a lot of appreciation. The highlights of Everest Base Camp Trekking are the stunning views of Mount Everest, legendary Sherpa culture, wonderful Namche Bazaar, Tengboche Monastery, the best viewpoint of Kalapatthar, and beautiful Chhukung valley among many others. We gradually ascend through the wonderful Sherpa villages enjoying the magnificent Himalayan scenery, wildlife and visit a number of Buddhist Monasteries. EBC Trek culminates with a fine opportunity to trek to both EBC and nearby peak of Kalapatthar (5545m) for spectacular views of the Everest. Savoring the high mountain views with the unique and life defining journey, EBC trip can be combined with Gokyo Chola Pass Trek, or Everest Three Passes packages as well, making the journey bit more challenging and rewarding too. Encounters Nepal has carefully devised an itinerary with a number of rest days that offers an exceptional way to acclimatize safely. Having had hit the Himalayan Trails since so long, we have learned never to rush a trek to altitude in the Himalaya. Taking an extra few days makes all the difference to really being able to enjoy the trek and trekking in Nepal.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:19 AM  

My 27 D (bar snack) started as a Wasabi PEAR before it became Wasabi PEAS. Guess I should get out to bars more often!

Probably only I will understand this mixup, but I had filled in 65 A, NOMEN, largely from crosses, but in looking over the grid etc. I read the clue for 66 A, "Like the number 8, to the Chinese," and thought it referred to NOMEN. I knew from the Latin that it had to refer to some kind of name. Wow, that's going to get some comments for obscurity, I thought, but I can see how it is correct; after all, consider Jennifer 8. Lee,

Casco Kid 11:32 AM  

I'm not a Wheel watcher, either, but unless I'm mistaken "Pat, I wanna buy a vowel" is very much in-the-language. So, the E in ESTREETBAND is. not. free.

Somebody, help me out here.


chefbea 11:49 AM  

@Casco Kid the final Jeopardy question...r-s-t-l-n-e are givens. The contestant then picks 3 more consonants and one vowel...Hopefully he will have enough letters to guess the phrase, person etc

And on another note..I met Vanna years ago when I tried out for Jeopardy. I passed but did not get picked because I did not jump up and down and scream loud enough when I got the answer

Masked and Anonymo3Us 11:56 AM  

I have watched Wheel. In the bonus round, those letters are "givens", and are revealed, upfront. Then U get to pick three more consonants and one more vowel. But U ain't gotta pay for any of those, so I'm not sure "free" is, strictly speakin, the official Wheel rule book terminology. But, hey -- I just tune in mostly to watch Vanna, so whatevah. RHAPSODY and CLASSACT were primo. Wanted ROBOTS for 49-D. Really liked the clue for BUS.

@muse: PROTRACTORS are kewl. Have class try to trisect an angle, usin just a compass and ruler, for a while. Then hand em one of those gizmos. They'll be more protractedly PRO-TRACTOR than Johnny Deere, after that.

Can I buy a U?


Lewis 12:14 PM  

@carola -- Not to mention: esl, weak, sstar, fist, estas, abra, ewe, ifear, aliens, peas, redtag, glares, and ohm (fri/sat).

RooMonster 12:17 PM  

Hey @chefbea, I also met Vanna here in Las Vegas, I drove her and Alex Trebek to the airport. Vanna was real nice, Alex seemed very full of himself! I asked her where Pat Sajak was, and she said he was still in LA.


Pat Sajak 12:24 PM  

I have to ask: does it make you feel intellectually superior to call Wheel insipid? Does it quell, or quash, some underlying feeling of inadequacy in yourselves to denigrate people who actually enjoy it? Yes, it's simple. We encourage enthusiasm. Perhaps that's the problem, not post modern ennui on display. But people enjoy it. Kids enjoy it, perhaps it's their first chance to experience word games. Your parents enjoy it. Perhaps it's their last chance to enjoy word play. Shame on them.

I've done this for over 30 years and unfortunately due to illness, will probably not have the chance to do it for very much longer. We've provided wholesome fun this entire time, no more, no less. Yet the game, Vanna & I get routinely denigrated. No, I'm not like that douchebag Trebek who assumes the pose that he knew each and every answer, condescends to explain where people went wrong in their replies. I simply treat the contestents with respect, win or lose, right or wrong. Trebek never published pieces in reputable journals as have I, yet he's adored among the pseudo-intellectuals, I am ridiculed.

I hope whatever gain you receive by calling Wheel insipid is significant, it has to be to overcome the feeling of shame you should feel by insulting a broad swath of your fellow Americans.

M and Also 12:41 PM  

p.s. @muse...
For demo purposes, 90-degree angles work nicely.
Have Joey build the class a 90-degree angle, usin just a compass and ruler, as a simple prelim round demo. Then, let the tri-sectin attempts begin...


chefbea 12:50 PM  

Also meant to ask...Is Edys ice cream really called Dreyer's in the west??? I know Breyer's. Maybe it was a misprint??

Chris 12:50 PM  

Ooh. Do I get to be the first to point out that we had Edy's two days in a row in the same place on the grid?

M and Also Also 1:02 PM  

Actually, there is a pretty darn cool way to trisect a 90-degree angle without the protractor. But, I'd be mighty impressed, if Joey figures it out, this early in the ballgame...

But, I degreess...


@Roo... I wish I were ridin in a limo with Vanna, and Trebek had a wart on his nose.

jae 1:10 PM  

@chefbea - Yes, it's Deyers here in CA. Beyers is another brand with different (black I think) packaging.

And the same thing happened to me when I tried out for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Passed the test but no cigar. I don 't think geezers were the demographic they were looking for.

LaneB 1:16 PM  

Marched steadily through today's with some trouble finally getting NSYNC, LOESS,NOMEN and SAE. WHat is SAE anyway? A good Wednesday, so thanks Mr. Burnikfel.

@Pat Sajak
Interesting comment and a point well taken. Your show is enjoyable and little attention should be paid to the so-called intellectuals who for some reason feel compelled to denigrate it. But what is it with the Alex Trebek rant? Is there something many of the rest of us don't know?

Numinous 1:19 PM  

I hope @Pat Sajak really is. I wouldn't be surprised if that were true, but . . . . Still, he makes a pretty valid point. Years ago, I used to watch Wheel and Jeopardy. It seems that "pseudo-intellectuals" were selected as contestants for the latter while a fairly average cross section of the population were selected for Wheel. In reality, though, they had to test higher than average, they were required to try to figure out an answer from limited clues while under pressure of time and all the distractions of spinning the wheel. Jeopardy, on the other hand, is merely a tricked out trivia challenge. Either you know the answer or you don't. You go, @Pat Sajak, whoever you are.

@NCA President: NOMEN was the ancient Roman name of the Gens, the equivalent of a surname. Gaius Julius Caesar was a menber of the Gens Julii. the basic naming convention was, Praenomen, Nomen, Cognomen.

I liked that RRATEDMOVIE crossed LAMARR. Amazing to see what the censors of 1933 found shocking and controversial. Heddy swimming nude was very tame by modern standards and the orgasm where both participants remained fully clothed was all visual symbolism that has now become cliche.

As I've said before, I like puzzles that get me thinking tangentally. This did that for me so, I liked it. Yeah, I may have some of the same criticisms mentioned above but, overall, I gained from doing this.

Good one, CC

Numinous 1:27 PM  

@ChefBea and @Jae:
Dreyers Is the original brand from Oakland California. Dreyer invented the first generally available ice cream that wasn't chocolate, strawberry or vanilla. It was Rocky Road. He used his wife's sewing scissors to cut up marshmallows small enough to be used and the original nuts were Pecans instead of almonds. Edy's was a candy store in San Francisco around the same time. Dreyer and Edy combined to create confection based ice creams. Dreyer's and Edy;s are still the same brand, Edy;s east of the Mississippi and Dreyer's to the west. My grandmother used to take me to Edy's on Union Square when I was small for ice cream sundaes. Not sure which of us liked it more.

LaneB 1:35 PM  

As a fellow rejectee whose submissions (there have been 3) did not excite Will Shortz, I also have wondered why several constructions have been accepted. I guess it helps to have established a track record a la Steinberg, Chen, Livingood et al. Let's keep trying in any case.

James Hanson 2:21 PM  

RHAPSODY was OK, unfortunately we just had that answer this past weekend and the word is printed prominently in the 'Jeopardy Clue of the Day' section right next to the puzzle, for the print version anyway. Made it easy to solve after getting that first R.

Everett Wolf 2:37 PM  

Was thinking what @Pat Sajak said. My bro was head writer for the short-lived Sajak show, and although it had some incredibly funny stuff and my bro said Pat was a genuinely great guy, he doesn't mention it much because of the ridiculous -- I'll-informed -- reactions he'd get.

Some people just need to feel superior to something, I guess.

mathguy 2:50 PM  

@Numinous: There was an Edy's candy store in San Francisco around the corner from where I grew up in the late thirties and early forties. It was on California between 21st and 22nd avenues. We called it a candy store but it was much more. It had a fountain where we would buy cherry cokes and ice cream sodas and milkshakes. It had a big comic book stand. There was a pinball machine in the back. The owner would book bets on the horses. I don't recall that they sold bulk ice cream. My mother would take me to the union Square area often but I don't remember an Edy's down there. We used to go to The Golden Pheasant where they served ice cream. It was on the SW corner of Geary and Powell.

RooMonster 2:50 PM  

Lol! @LaneB! I do just keep sending ´em in!

@Numinous, wow! What an awesome plethora of knowledge you are!


Arlene 3:11 PM  

I do watch Wheel of Fortune on occasion, as it's on right after Jeopardy (and being of a certain age, I watch programs at the time they're actually aired!) So this puzzle was quite cute - enjoyed solving it.

Note, though, that BIG BANG THEORY reruns are on at the same time as WHEEL, so that's usually my preference, no matter how many times I've seen them.

crossvine 3:14 PM  

I don't watch Wheel of Fortune, but I was surprised at the criticism of it. I mean, it's a word game. And don't we all love word games. OK, it a commercialized word game, but it's far better than most of the dumbed-down, shoot-em-up video games out there.

I say it's a great thing that there's a large audience who is entertained by guessing what words fit the clues and the spaces. Just like we do on a crossword puzzle.

So thanks @Pat Sajak.

Numinous 3:31 PM  

I'm thinking of slightly later than you, late 50s to early 60s. It was called Character Candies by Edy's and was on O"Farrell and Powel. The facade was bright pink. To be sure, I looked it up and found This photo.

Now I'll behave, third and last post of the day.

Anonymous 3:32 PM  

I just remembered why I stopped reading this blog. Who cares what any of you think about WOF?

Anonymous 3:42 PM  

Liked this one. Wish Rex had included the following in his brief bio of Hedy Lamarr: "That's Hedley!"- Harvey Korman as "Hedley Lamarr" in "Blazing Saddles" (1974, directed by Mel Brooks).

Anonymous 4:05 PM  

I still don't get why E is free. You have to buy vowels dont you?

sanfranman59 4:14 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)

Wed 9:10, 9:16, 0.99, 48%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:05, 6:06, 1.00, 49%, Medium

Pat Trebek 4:23 PM  

@Anonymous 4:05 - It has already been explained, but perhaps this scene will help in understanding.

The RSTLNE are all given free at the beginning of this final puzzle.

Anonymous 4:39 PM  

In the grand finale you get a RSTLN & E for free.

Z 4:40 PM  

I did not find any comments denigrating the viewers of WoF (unless you want to say that all the attributes of a show are also the attributes of those who watch - in which case I want all Game of Thrones viewers arrested). I also find the show insipid, but I know smart, engaging people who love it. I find @Pat Sajak's comments either mildly offensive or mildly satiric. If it is the first these definitions might help to explain my reaction:

Insipid - Lacking vigor or interest.

Inferiority Complex - an unrealistic feeling of general inadequacy caused by actual or supposed inferiority in one sphere, sometimes marked by aggressive behavior in compensation.

chefbea 4:41 PM  

I explained it earlier

OISK 4:47 PM  

Much easier than yesterday's for me, which was a rare Tuesday DNF. I like Pat Sajak, but don't watch Wheel. I don't watch Jeopardy as often as I used to (used to watch every evening) either. So the theme didn't do anything for me despite realizing early on where it was going. Still, I enjoyed the puzzle, with answers like estreet band, nsync, that I knew only from having done the puzzles daily. Like others, I started to write Dio, ( 19 across) but quickly changed it . grazie a Dio..

mathguy 4:59 PM  

@Numinous: Thanks for the picture of Edy's taken in 1963. I seem to remember it.

Pete 5:15 PM  

@Z - Insipid isn't a mere adjective, it's an insult. For someone to say they don't find WOF interesting is one thing, to label it as insipid does in fact call into question those who watch it. Similarly, to say GOTs is violent and sexually explicit is one thing, an objective analysis. To say that it is rape-porn does, in fact, call into question those who watch it.

But you knew all this.

Steve J 5:33 PM  

@Pat Sajak: I merely said I find the show insipid. I didn't say it objectively is, and I certainly didn't say anything about the people who watch it.

wreck 5:49 PM  

Is there any one group left in the world that hasn't weighed in on feeling persecuted?? I really wasn't expecting the WOF anti-defamation league today. It's just someone's opinion - get over it. I'm not fond of peas (my deepest apologies to farmers).

jae 7:29 PM  

@numinous - thanks for the info on EDY's and Dreyers which I think I left an R out off. Also missed the R in Breyers.

jae 7:36 PM  

I also just left the ' off of Dreyer's.

Mohair Sam 10:44 PM  

@Steve J - well, I guess you hit a nerve.

sanfranman59 1:47 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 6:45, 6:02, 1.12, 88%, Challenging
Tue 8:58, 7:54, 1.14, 81%, Challenging
Wed 9:14, 9:18, 0.99, 49%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:36, 3:57, 1.16, 93%, Challenging
Tue 5:36, 5:21, 1.05, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 6:04, 6:05, 1.00, 48%, Medium

Andrew Heinegg 12:30 PM  

While Alex Trebek does act like he knows all of the Jeopardy answers/questions, it is only because he does because of show preparation so that he can act like he knew the answers/questions as part of his shtick for the show. Why Sajak had to attack Trebek in defending WOF is perplexing. Perhaps being a Tea Party guy in the liberal world of show business has made him a bit paranoid.

DMG 2:04 PM  

What a tempest in a teapot over a TV show one can chose to, or not to, watch! As for the puzzle, got it all with a sheer guess on the T for TPRICEROWE, but then realized that TSA is the nosey group at the airport. Haven't flown in a long time, so never met them. Thanks to whoever "decoded" BUS.

Ah the memories of growing up in SF! Anyone else recall Awful Fresh MacFarlands, candy stores with the signature package of candy in a farmhouse with all sorts of country bumpkin type decoration. Lived right around the corner from one on Geary near 23rd Ave and spent a fair amount of time with my nose pressed against the window. Being depression days, that was as close as I usually got to it!! What a digression!

181: no treats there either!

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

Pat Sajak is right on. My wife and I also tire of Alex Trebek's uppity comebacks to the contestants. Sometimes he treats them like they are idiots and the answers are obvious. He is growing a bit old for this show and should retire. Rant over.

Anonymous 6:40 PM  

Well said! Pat, you're a class act! You treat everyone with respect and humor. I hope your health malady will improve. You bring joy to so many. As far as the "insipid" comments go, word games don't have to be intellectual games of prowess! They can be fun and due to the longstanding fabulous Pat and Vanna, they bring joy and familiarity to the lonely, mental stimulation to older folks and family friendly fun! Back off of Pat, Jack!!!

Dirigonzo 7:21 PM  

About 24 years ago my brand-new mother-in-law won a Caribbean cruise from a WOF call-in contest. She gave the tickets to my bride and me and it turned into a lovely, unexpected honeymoon. Pat Sajak and Vanessa White joined the cruise for a couple of days and mingled with the vacationers - they were both very nice and it was all great fun (but I think I'm still paying the bar tab).

I came here expecting to read a HARDG rant from @spacy but he's not here - I do hope everything is OK.

I completed the grid with no write-overs and no mistakes - a rarity for me, even on a Wednesday. Didn't know NOMEN, so thanks to whoever explained that.

2322 - unless my math is faulty (again) that's a natural!

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