Actor Gerard of Buck Rogers / WED 10-22-14 / Mikado maiden / 007 film of 1981 / Biotechnology output for short

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Constructor: Patrick Blindauer

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: smiley face — Black squares in the grid form a smiley face / jack o' lantern image. A few of the Across answers relate to eyes:

Theme answers:
  • PEEK-A-BOO, I SEE YOU (17A: Words to a baby)
  • FACE / TIME (32A: With 33-Across, meeting with someone in person)
  • "FOR YOUR EYES ONLY" (59A: 007 film of 1981)
Puzzle note:

Word of the Day: LEON Czolgosz (65A: Czolgosz who shot McKinley)
Leon Frank Czolgosz (Polish form: Czołgosz, Polish pronunciation: [ˈt͡ʂɔwɡɔʂ]; May 5 1873 – October 29, 1901; also used surname "Nieman" and variations thereof) was a Polish-American former steel worker responsible for the assassination of U.S. PresidentWilliam McKinley.
In the last few years of his life, he claimed to have been heavily influenced by anarchistssuch as Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. (wikipedia)
• • •

There's an oddball quality to this one that I kind of like, and PEEK-A-BOO, I SEE YOU indeed a great answer, but overall, we seem to be somewhat south of normal quality (normal NYT quality, normal Blindauer quality). A lot is now riding on the meta payoff. Well, nothing is actually riding on it—unless you've hatched some kind of nerdy betting scheme —but since all the puzzles have felt Off in some way so far, and the fill has seem oddly compromised in inexplicable ways, it'll be hard to see how it all was worth it if payoff time doesn't pay off. Now I didn't think today's puzzle was bad, by any means. But again it was weirdly harder than its day of the week would suggest, and the theme was really Really loose (face answers? first and last are about eyes, middle … isn't … ?). The cross-referencing continues apace, for some reason. The triple-cross-ref involving OZONE (and DIOXIDE and OZONE) has to be one of the least exciting reasons for having to move my eyes (!) back and forth and back and forth that I've ever seen (!) in a crossword. Again, Xs are crammed into places in ways that compromise fill (XER not great, XOO tuh-errible). I look at a short abbr. like GMO, which is, to be fair, a thing I can, in retrospect, define (genetically modified ingredient), and wonder why it and proper noun TIMON are even there when that little upper-lip section can be filled So much more cleanly, w/ about 5 seconds work (that's how long it took me). But, again, the fill is not, overall, bad. There are delightful areas—like the chivalric stand-up comedy in the SE (LANCELOT and his ONE-LINERs) and the zaniness of CARL ORFF's YUMYUM NEWSROOM in the SW.

ROZ Chast gets a mention—her fabulous memoir about her parents, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, just got short-listed for the National Book Award in the nonfiction category, where it is competing with books about the Taliban, China, and evolution, which I'm sure makes sense somehow. I resented being forced to remember "Scent of a Woman" (28A: Emulated Pacino in a "Scent of a Woman" scene => TANGOED); I assumed the answer was ORATED or BLOVIATED or CHEWED THE ***** SCENERY. There were names I didn't really know, but that happens—a GIL here, a LEON there. Having KARATE for KUNG FU really mucked me up for a while. I seem to have transposed "Li'l Abner" and "TIMON of Athens" at 22A: Another time, in "Li'l Abner" (AGIN), as I calmly and wrongly wrote in ANON. I would read a Shakespeare-ified "Li'l Abner" (or a Dogpatched Shakespeare … maybe something about taking up arms AGIN a swamp o' troubles … you get the idea).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jberg 7:55 AM  

Hey, @Rex, where ya been?

I'm late, have to run -- but just want to say that cluing DIOXIDE as an OXYGEN compound is like cluing "WOOD FLOOR" as "variety of floor."
It's the same word, fellas.

Z 8:06 AM  

I had UNfURL crossing fARLORFF at first. Maybe he is aLISA and RaHM's cousin?

Otherwise, not much to say other than that is a rather creepy face staring out at us. Well, there are the observations that TIMON on POT is AWRY, while MONET on OZONE leads to ARTE. Hmmm, still going with 42.

Danp 8:11 AM  

FINNS has me confused. There aren't fjords in Finland. Was there some era when Finns were exploring Norway?

Leapfinger 8:11 AM  

So. The PauerRanger has turned caricaturist! But not your usual smiley-face! Looking orff to his left (your right), and with rather a devilfish grin. Can't blame a smile in a mouth full of SANGRIA and POT... in a chocolate brownie, I'm guessing. YUM YUM.

otoh, that U-shaped grin could be a HaYley Goldesque homage to @M&A.
Hey, @GIL, you're No.1!! D'you think that AMFM radio was a rapid-response nod to the redoubtable Mme Sophronia? And we almost see @ CArOLA

re the solve: smooth, requiring thought in some places, like 17A. Had to dig for the second half, as it's been a while since I've been on PEEKABOO Street. Also did a double-take at the emerging PFF, which then proved helpful, leading me to TANGOED. The only TANGOED SAYINGS I can think of are 'Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow'. Perhaps the TANGO TIMing ties into

The theme, which now has moved [obviously] to FACE TIME, with a concentration on the EYES. Maybe the meta (hi, @NCAP) really will be a clock FACE, or maybe tomorrow we'll just find TIMON our hands.

Not 100% sure about the eary placement of UNCURL and SCROLL, but I do suspect the earlocks of Orthodoxy. Also noted and filed for future reference:
AWRY look at a SLUM POT Millionaire
Iconic actor Boris CARLORFF
The FU Brothers, KUNG and TO

Vous avez RAISIN if you suspect all this parLANCELOT of MOOING SOUNDS: I recently did something till the cows came home.

A good MOOING to all, and a great day to follow!

(Only one cuppa, @Roomie, and only half of it drunk!)
Obviously, I had lots of TIMON my hands waiting for @Rex. Hey Rex, maybe you could get some backup, instead of getting peoples' backs up? You're probably right on the Jack-o-lantern.

Then again, AGIN is usually 'against'.

joho 8:17 AM  

I absolutely loved PEEKABOOISEEYOU! FORYOUREYESONLY is great, too. And FACE TIME perfectly represents the grinning pumpkin that commands the grid.

What does all this mean? Is it pumpkin carving TIME? TIME to get out our scary costumes? I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

dk 8:18 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns)

Jack O Lantern my eye. Totally missed that and this AM I had to solve on line as the paper never showed up.

This was a whimsical romp and well done. Misstep was trying to fit Diana or Bobby into 3d as I….. well messed up and had no idea who GIL is.

Annual Barbie shoot in Utah is all set. Anyone have some old Barbies they may want to sell or donate. They will be treated with the utmost respect until… well… they are not. Here is the link to the video.

Mohair Sam 8:36 AM  

Played as a challenging Wednesday for us, and we enjoyed. UNfURL for UNCURL until we figured there probably is no one named fARL.

Didn't know FINNS had fjords too, but will trust Bindauer/Shortz/NYT on that one. First gimme was SPINACH thanks to a wonderful tour guide in Florence years ago.

I see @jberg's point, but don't want to get into any O vs. O2 argument. We've a couple of chemists here to resolve that one.

Fun Wednesday solve, meta or not.

Susan McConnell 8:48 AM  

This didn't seem all that un-Wednesday-ish to me, but given that this week is a bit special, what with the meta and all, perhaps Will is relaxing the rules a little.

In our house, GO PFFT is usually blamed on the dog.

Dean 8:52 AM  

FINNS in fjords falls flat. Finland isn't Norway. What next? Canadians in serapes and sombreros? Turks in lederhosen? Yodelling Sicilians?

Leapfinger 8:53 AM  

@danp, there may well be a historical Lapps on FINNS in fjords, but I slander if I deign to argue, since it fills the grid so swedely.

@dk, what a blast! No license, no limit, right?

RnRGhost57 9:02 AM  

Fjinns drive fjords as they fjord fjords, or some such fjoolishness.

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

Actually, @RnRGhost, fjew of them dju. :-D

[EFin duc said]

Anonymous 9:19 AM  


Monica 9:21 AM  

If doing your bosses wife, thereby destroying the model government of the ages, constitutes chivalry, then why all the uproar about me? Why!?

Charles Flaster 9:21 AM  

Enjoyed so much more than yesterday.
EZ in 12.
Liked clues for THE, KUNG FU and PONIES.
Just noticed that would be a good name for a sixties rock group.
No crosswordEASE so the overall fill was nicely written.
(EYE, AYE,AY, I) never META puzzle I didn't like. ( well maybe a few).
Thanks PB.
Expecting a metacognitive puz tomorrow.

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

@Anon 9:07
It's probably on account of the fjool economy.

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

Am I the only one who tried to cram in HOOAHED for 28a?

Also I go "pfft" to GOPFFT

wreck 9:28 AM  

I have been paying attention to any grid artwork this week, but this was the first one I saw anything that was discernible. The first couple of passes through this puzzle, I had a lot of white space. The third time through, it started to fill in pretty quickly. Hands up for unFurl at first.

Whirred Whacks 9:32 AM  

This META PUZZLE thing is taking on its own Hitchcockian mystery quality. Every word you look at you think "Is this the special clue? Does it have a meaning beyond this puzzle? And is that face in the grid mocking my simple attempts to grasp its significance?"

Too much fun.

By the way, an anagram for META PUZZLE is


Maybe that helps.

chefbea 9:33 AM  

saw the face right away. The north east was awful...DNF. Loved the sangria was yum-yum

Steve J 9:48 AM  

Man, the meta better be one hell of a payoff. Because on their own, the individual puzzles are getting progressively more boring and awkward.

As far as fjords: The word is Norwegian, but the geological formation is far from exclusive to Norway.

Hartley70 9:48 AM  

Very happy to learn that SPINACH was a fave of Catherine. I can drop that nugget at my next dinner party. THIS is why I do the NYT puzzle. I thought the theme and clues were cute, but I'm looking forward to a rebus please.

Z 9:50 AM  

Regarding Finnish Fjords - There's Finnmark, but I have no idea if anyone calls the people who live there FINNS. According to the New World Encyclopedia Finland does have one fjord. The clue is technically correct but the strain is definitely showing.

And now, something completely different.

Arlene 10:00 AM  

I immediately saw that face smiling at me - and it's starting to feel like some murder mystery going on!
I was expecting to get stuck, but didn't - solved quite fast, actually.
I put in PEEKABOOISEEYOU pretty early in the game, which made me feel as if the puzzle was taunting me - considering the meta challenge coming up.

Oh - and of course I had UNFURL before getting to CARLORFF.

Whirred Whacks 10:08 AM  

@Z 9:50

Most excellent, your Zness!

imfromjersey 10:11 AM  

Pure Meta speculation, seeing more Xes in the puzzles and this is the 2nd puzzle this week that we've seen XER show up as an answer. Has to be SOMEHOW related to the meta. interested to see how this plays out.

Have to try really hard to get drunk on it 10:11 AM  

SANGRIA is NOT strong punch. As a general category, can anyone think of an alcoholic punch that, on average, has less alcohol than SANGRIA? Or does just the fact that it has alcohol in it make it "strong?" Weak clue.

NCA President 10:15 AM  


Bob Kerfuffle 10:16 AM  

TWO - In-your-face Moo-cow answers in two days.

ONE - Write-over: 50 D, BANANA before CANOLA.

ZERO - Ideas on what any of this will have to do with the meta.

Lewis 10:18 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Captain Obvious 10:20 AM  

Did the FINNS explore fjords? Probably. Norwegians explored Briton. Italians explored North America. Italians explored China. The clue didn't imply that Finland had fjords, just that Finns explored them.

Lewis 10:22 AM  

Like Monday, this felt like a puzzle made with confidence. I guess one fix to GMO/TIMON would be to change the M to E. I liked the clues for NEWSROOM, SANGRIA, XER, and KUNGFU, and this puzzle had 11 double letters - anything over 10 is high (but neither good nor bad).

Riddle: Why do we need to pay SAYINGS more?*

Not knowing GIL, LEEANN, and having forgotten OBE, that NW was tough for me. I would have liked the word SCROLL to go the other way, so we would have a scroll down. 61D is one up. And this puzzle was a whole lot of fun to solve -- I refuse to look for things I don't like!

* Because it's overTIME.

Carola 10:24 AM  

Wa-a-ay more fun for me than yesterday's - starting with that mischievous smiley face. Love the PEEK-A-BOO eyebrow line and the SANGRIA mustache.

Agree with @Rex on medium-challenging (and on the Al Pacino take!). Found it fairly unyielding on the Acrosses - I think I had only FRAU, SLUM, TOFU, and ARTE on first pass. Fortunately, enough Downs dropped nicely into place to open it up. Wonder if there's a hidden comment in the joining of OMS and MOOING SOUNDS.

hoo hah 10:28 AM  

Count me in as a "hooahed" attempter before TANGOED. And I agree--SANGRIA is pretty weak punch.

LHS 888 10:39 AM  

This one was easy until... it wasn't. Natick (shorthand for dagnabbit or #^+~€<^%!!!) on TIMON/GMO. I'm embarrassed to admit the only TIMON I know of is a Disney character voiced by Nathan Lane. I first wanted TItus, but crosses resolved that to TI?ON. I ran the alphabet and went with TItON/GtO for a DNF. Aarg!

Had a near-Natick (I forget the name of that town) at UN-URL/SE-/--RLORFF (WOE to me), but was finally able to suss correctly sans confidence.

I may be alone in knowing who GIL Gerard is. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was my favorite show when I was in high school way back when.

I filled in PEEKABOOISEEYOU off of the opening PE. I filled in FORYOUREYESONLY off if the last Y. LANCELOT went in off the first L, but the answer to that clue should really have been GALAHAD (IMO). So, the puzzle was virtually finished in ~15 min. Then I spent 45 min trying to figure out why no Mr. Happy Pencil. (Insert more teeth gnashing here.)

Lots to love in this puzzle. Wonderful long answers. Liked clues for NEWSROOM, ONELINER, NAE. Didn't like, but appreciated, clue for SEA. Favorite word: SANGRIA

Thanks, PB / WS.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Thank you!

Lewis 10:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
quilter1 10:43 AM  

I rated this one medium. Kind of circled the grid filling in and finished in the NE. Was it Catherine who said a woman needs only three baths in her life--the day she's born, the day she marries and the day she dies. I guess everyone smelled so bad in those days they didn't notice.

Lewis 10:44 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonym007Us 10:45 AM  

So, the tumblers are tumblin into place:
* All three puzs mention the TIME concept in their theme.
* MonPuz had witches.
* TuesPuz had humvees. And/or anal tieups. Still a little fuzzy, on this link in the chain.
* WedPuz has jack-o-laterns, and almost left-right symmetry, except for the eyepits.

Clearly, the "sign of the times" deal relates to Halloween symbology. Symbolness. Keep it symbol.
Anyhoo... Ghosts would be the easiest symbols to pull off -- they're conveniently invisible. Invisible Halloween Meta! Nothin there. Use yer own imagination! Epic.

M et A

Didn't quote no odds today, as looks like @63 has decided that's nerdy.

Lewis 10:46 AM  

Factoid: Auld Lang SYNE may be translated into English literally as "old long since", or more idiomatically, "long long ago","days gone by" or "old times". Consequently "For auld lang syne", as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as "for (the sake of) old times". (Wikipedia)

Quotoid: "Violence and smut are of course everywhere on THE airwaves. You cannot turn on your television without seeing them, although sometimes you have to hunt around." -- Dave Barry

Jim Quinlan 10:46 AM  

This puzzle kinda creeped me out (in a good way though). Like it was a clown staring at me.

The NW I found difficult because so much of it was *on the tip of my tongue*- lot of erasing and re-entering- Had UNKINK crossing KARL ORFF which I felt confident in, but it didn't work with my confident KARATE (instead of KUNG FU). And never saw the movie "Scent of a Woman," so there's that. That corner alone added significant time to my solve...

Also, found the cross referencing in the NE odd... anyone else?

The meta obviously has to do with failed operas from the 1930s... duh.

RooMonster 10:59 AM  

Hey All !
Well now, it's beginning to look like the meta is [redacted], as evidenced by [redacted]. Then again, [redacted] could be it. Puz has lots of [redacted], but my theory is it will [redacted].

Hey, wait a tic, who keeps censoring my post??

Found the puz to be easy-medium. Hand up here for UNfURL, which led me to fARmORFF (thinking just last name),which led to SmUt for SLUM. Also, missed the GMO, TIMON, POT section. Not up on the old bard. Otherwise, nice puz. Agree GOPFFT is a stretch. Liked clue for KUNGFU, also Anchor's place clue, was thinking What room does an anchor sit in??


Gill I. P. 11:12 AM  

The comments today are making me get the hiccups from laughing.
@Leapy SLUM POT Millionaire almost made some coffee come out the nariz.
@Susan M: Yep, our dogs are the GO PFFT type and they're always surprised that they can do that.
I'm in the @Carola camp. I thought this was lots more fun than yesterday. Although, to be honest, I'm liking them all so far.
A bit of something here for everyone: Arts, Science, Music and Food...YUM YUM
Did any one else misread 10A as "mediators" instead of "Meditators"? that screwed me up for a while...
@Z...Hah, this time you didn't fool me but I still had to check.
That's a grin pot eating clown if I ever saw one!

AliasZ 11:12 AM  

Honestly, with the TI___ in place already, how many of you entered TITUS? Yeah, me too. Turned out I was in the wrong country.

@Leapy, the first thing that popped in my mind was Olympic skier Picabo Street.

"In east Sweden, the name fjärd is used in a synonymous manner for bays, SOUNDS, bights and narrow inlets on the Swedish Baltic Sea coast, and in most Swedish lakes. This latter term is also used for bodies of water off the coast of Finland where 'Finland Swedish' is spoken. In the Finnish language, a word vuono is used although there is only one fjord in Finland." - Wikipedia

Huckleberries would have been a better clue for FINNS.

I will avoid CARL ORFF, YUM-YUM, "Die FRAU ohne Schatten" (The woman without a shadow) by Richard Strauss, and it's too early for a NOEL. Instead, this breathtakingly beautiful impressionistic depiction of IBERIA by a Frenchman, played by an American orchestra conducted by an Alsatian, will have to do.

I have nothing else to say, except for this ONELINER:

The early bird gets the worm, but the tardy mouse gets the cheese.

If you heard this one, keep in mind that there are no old jokes, only old people. To a newborn every joke is new.

mathguy 11:13 AM  

Lots of amusing comments today. The Dave Barry quip was sweet. Whatever @Leafinger had for breakfast, I want some.

Ludyjynn 11:35 AM  

I spent three college summers working at a factory which manufactured Aqua Velva (55D clue), Geritol, Sominex and Femiron. It was a closed union shop (Teamsters), which meant GREAT pay (covered my textbooks, spending money at school), albeit a 'Lucy in the chocolate factory' crazy-fast assembly line environment. If you couldn't keep up, out you went. One of my favorite jobs was putting glass AV bottles on the line, 10 at a time! Clink-clink; I was very fast.

In those days, during lunch break, a lot of my co-workers spent the time either taking a NIP or smoking POT in their cars and came back to work a TAD under the weather. As a result, more than once did the operator of the giant box stapling machine accidentally staple his or her thumb instead of the box and mgmt. would SEND 'em to the hospital. The stapler became my personal favorite job and I am proud to say the entire TIME I worked there, I managed to stay injury-free!

This one fell med. for me, significantly trickier than Mon and Tues., w/ some nice clueing, esp. the Downs.

Thanks, PB and WS

OldActor 11:42 AM  

You say Carmina and I say Carmana

You say Barina and I say Carmana

Carmina, Carmana

Barina, Barana

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff

OldActor 11:46 AM  

Of course that would be

You say Barina and I say Barana

Noam D .Elkies 11:47 AM  

Know your TLA's: 44D:GMO = Genetically Modified Organism. "Genetically modified ingredient" would be GMI.


RooMonster 11:53 AM  

Ooh,ooh! TLA=Translucent Library Asssistant! Like in Ghostbusters!

Also ties in with M&A(M et A) thoery about the meta ghost!

Or am I in @Leapy's mind frame... :-D. :-D

andy 11:53 AM  

Have to give the kudos when they're due... Impressed Rex didn't GOPFFT all over GIL as fill simply because he hadn't heard of him. And this might be the first blog I've seen where Rex almost likes the puzzle.

Like yesterday with aLISA/RaHM, I guessed wrong on ECLAs/sIMON - what crappy fill! ;-)

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

For non-experts like me who struggle with Friday and Saturday, this week is no fun at all.

neild 12:10 PM  

I really really really hated it.

As has been noted, SANGRIA is NOT strong punch, and Sir LANCELOT is hardly a model of chivalry. The cluing for DIOXIDE and OZONE was strained and barely scientifically accurate.

I don't like the self referential clues for MOOING, SOUNDS, and OMS. I would have liked a funnier ONELINER.

I'm bad with people's names in general so CARLORFF, LEEANN, and GIL... but that's just personal preference.

Teedmn 12:10 PM  

Even after entering FACE at 32A, I still wrote over for Karate (actually I had Karati, doubly wrong). Finally got UNfURL and realized it was KUNG FU.

Because of all the Xes in play, I was convinced GOPFFT was going to be exPire. Maybe 20A was going to be ilsa? I can never remember the British awards so that didn't help and didn't know LEEANN to GIL (which I finally Googled, sigh, on a Wednesday).

OMS/OXYGEN cross gimmes made 11D and 12D fall but the cluing was confusing. I've read enough Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman to know GMO so no problem there, but no thanks to my indepth knowledge of Shakespeare.

I, too, would like some of @Leapy's Wheaties - more clever ideas in one morning than I get in a month, if I'm lucky!

Moly Shu 12:16 PM  

Better than the last 2 days, but still not feeling it. Easy again, and maybe that's part of the problem. I'm told that I am hard to please. Knew GMO, so no prob with TIMON. Did like the FF echo, hi @Lewis.

@Hartley70. Other than being able to get this weeks puzzles, I see no benefit to the update. Don't much care for it, but I've been told ....

@Leapy, sorry to disappoint yesterday, I'm telepathically tryin to get on yer wavelength.

Vive Le @NCAPrez!!!

jdv 12:24 PM  

Challenging. Too many abbreviations and cross-referencing. Didn't notice the smiley face. Had NEWSDESK before NEWSROOM. So far, the braille o's spell out RICK ASTL

mac 12:37 PM  

I must have a gory mind, I was convinced Catherine ate something much more objectionable at every meal. I could easily do that too.

Hand up for thinking mediator.... That corner was the last to fall.

Why is it Finns with two ns when it is Finland? I (there goes the mind again) had visions of Pacino sniffing or dancing. Uncoil was my choice, maybe because I knew Carl Orff.

Roz Chast's memory of life with her parents is one of the most moving things I've read in the last couple of months.

M et Also 12:39 PM  

Got it.
It's all over.
This Meta is hereby toast.

Gaze ye, mere mortals and @63, upon the first letters of each 1-A and 1-D clue, in sequence over the past three contested days. They spell:
T-E-A-T A-D.

Please save yer applause, until the end of the week...

M et A
"Not Bad, For A Runt Mind"

Andrew Heinegg 12:39 PM  


wreck 1:49 PM  

Just a note to the old magmic users -- your old magmic subscription price is still valid until it is time to renew. You can switch at no charge. Luckily, I still had 11 months to go at the old $17.99 price.
I originally balked at the new price going up to $40, but if you do the puzzle everyday (like I assume 99% of the people who come here do) -- it works out to about 11 cents a day. For that you also get the ability to solve on your PC at the NYT site, or on a tablet, or phone along with an archive that now goes back like 30 years or something!

ANON B 2:41 PM  

Oxygen and dioxide are not
the same word.
A dioxide is a compound with two oxygen atoms such as sand
which is silicon dioxide.
One of the two forms of naturally
occurring oxygen is O2 where
2 is a subscript. It is not called dioxide, just plain oxygen
as opposed to O3 which is ozone.

ANON B 2:51 PM  

M@A at 12:39(or whatever your name is):

Can you translate your comment
into English, my native

Mohair Sam 2:54 PM  

@LHS 888 - Framingham, you had a framingham.

LaneB 3:04 PM  

'Medium" and easier than yesterday. E
Buoyed finishing in a quicker time than usual. Still don' know what a a meta is.

Fred Romagnolo 3:34 PM  

I agree that LANCELOT's son Galahad is the greater example of chivalry; LANCELOT slept with his boss's wife. I figured arsenic for Catherine's diet, as a preventative (Renaissance-Baroque
Italians). The SANGRIA I got in Tahiti tasted like overly sweetened fruit juice, not like an alcoholic drink. The play is TIMON of Athens. Agree with @Rex, Pacino over-acts in everything since the Godfather.

Fred Romagnolo 3:38 PM  

BTW: in re yesterday: it was The Shays Rebellion, not Shay's; Shays was his name.

Fred Romagnolo 3:40 PM  

or was that Sunday's?

Fred Romagnolo 3:42 PM  

one last one 'cause I love looking at my pic on the blog; it's somewhat different now after my surgery.

Anonymous 4:03 PM  

@ANON B 2:51 you sure have a way about you. You're like the turd on a birthday cake

M and A Help Desk 4:04 PM  

@ANON B: et = and. I think everything else is English. Yer (your) is kinda backwoodsy, maybe. People's results do vary all over the map, of course, as to whether M&A's comments make any sense in regular English. Sorry, if you ended up on the "no comprendie" end of the stick. I was probably mostly hallucinating, anyway...

@LaneB: A crossword META usually means that there's an extra word or message for the solver to find, after the normal crossword puzzle is solved.
Example: I remember once a puzzle that had several people's names as its theme answers. The meta puzzle's question asked the solver to think up an extra theme answer, also a name, that was an tony-winning director and would have fit in with the other published theme answers.
Turned out, all the published theme answers contained exactly one each of all the vowels AEIOUY. There was only one tony-winning director with such a name, and so the meta question's answer was her name *.

This week, we don't get to see the meta puzzle question until Saturday. And it evidently will somehow pertain to all the week's Monday thru Saturday puzzle answers.

M and A Help Desk
"We Got Mostly D's In English"

* the director's name was Julie Taymor. Her name has exactly one of each vowel. I think she won for directing "The Lion King".

Teedmn 4:35 PM  

I just signed up for the NY Times puzzles at the $40 price. At first blush, said "Yikes", then did the math and thought it was a good deal.

LHS 888 4:45 PM  

@Mohair Sam - Framingham! That's it!! I knew there was an "ingham" component, but the "Fram" was filed away in recesses too deep for access... like so many things these days... ^_^

Questinia 5:04 PM  

We've had time, and now oxygen. TIMON AGIN.
The meta is:

The Big Bang, life, death, black hole Big Bang etc...

Looking for the black hole....

Z 5:14 PM  

@Gill I.P. - Today's is my personal favorite, and I've never even watched Mad Men. Now I will have to find either a Star Wars or Lord of the Rings version. Be Ware.

jae 5:18 PM  

Easy-medium for me.  I saw the FACE in the grid and FACE TIME in the center and sorta figured out the theme which is what it sorta turned out to be. 

Liked it but I'm giving the sorta theme the meta benefit of the doubt.

ANON B 5:57 PM  


Rex has told me that he doesn't monitor. If so, I'm sure he would have dumped yours.

M et A @4:04:

Since et is Latin I didn't
expect it to be "and",
especially since meta- is the
kind of puzzle we're getting
at6 the end of the week.
What I wanted to know is
what is the significance of

Anonymous 6:15 PM  

@ANON B: Perhaps nothing, but TEAT AD or TEA TAD could be the start of some secret message.

Mr. Grumpypants 6:26 PM  

There is no symmetry to the grid. Isn't that a five-yard penalty?

Mr. Grumpypants 6:27 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ANON B 6:29 PM  


And I'm supposed to understand
that, assuming that you are
And, if you are, what does
it mean?
And you're the guy who thinks
I'm a turd on a birthday cake?

And I'm the guy who starts
sentences with "and".

Mohair Sam 6:53 PM  

@LHS 888 - Framingham. Years ago when I lived in Syracuse I had customers I would visit monthly in Newton, Worcester, and Natick, MA. I would stay at a hotel in Framingham because it was not too far from Worcester and Newton, and near Natick. You can imagine my delight when someone on this blog (I forget who) named a near-natick as a Framingham. Only wish I could take the credit.

Anonymous 7:21 PM  

Can someone explain the solution is "sea" to the clue "body in a bed". Yeah, I get seabed. Still don't see it.


Whirred Whacks 7:48 PM  

Here's another clue!

Z 7:57 PM  

@7:21 - A "body" of water like the Aral SEA is in a SEA bed. Yeah - too clever by half.

@Sangria-is-not-a-strong-punch-people: a) You ever have the punch at a middle school dance or a church social? b)Who is making your SANGRIA? Here is a basic recipe. If four shots of brandy isn't strong enough for you go for the gusto and make it 6 or 8. My guess is someone foisted on you some concoction of bad wine, simple syrup, and fruit, leaving out the brandy.

Hartley70 8:12 PM  

Got me! And I loved it ;-)

Hartley70 8:18 PM  

It's way too blue for my taste, especially in the middle of the night when zi'm at my crossword best. I am pleased that I can get the archives because I thought they weren't available in the upgrade. Where do I have to go to get a happy pencil? I'm trying to be content with "congratulations" and a party hat. :(

Hartley70 8:25 PM  

You and Renee Zellwegger, Fred. But you are looking like a DUDE in that pic!

wreck 8:29 PM  


No Happy Pencil, but you can change the appearance by clicking on the cog wheel in the upper left corner.
If you are used to the old app, it will take a few days to get used to it and set-up the way you like it.

wreck 8:32 PM  

uhhhhh .... right top corner. This might not go well tonight!! ;)

Colby 8:36 PM  

I don't understand how XOO is a losing line in tic-tac-toe. It would be a Cat's Game I would imagine. XXX or OOO would be winning/losing.

OISK 11:42 PM  

Pfffooey! Go PFFT? That is an answer? Since I never heard of Gil Gerard, and never associated Finns with Fjords, and never heard of Leeann Womack, (although I think she has been in the puzzle before) I had no shot at the NW. The clues for Finns, sangria - just bad. I had no trouble with Mon. or Tues., but I probably won't even bother to look at the Saturday puzzle. Bad. Go Pfft yourself. (hoping that no one reads this at 11:45…)

sanfranman59 12:16 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 5:44, 6:02, 0.95, 26%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:18, 7:54, 1.18, 88%, Challenging
Wed 13:57, 9:30, 1.47, 98%, Challenging (6th highest ratio of 251 Wednesdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:55, 4:04, 0.96, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 6:23, 5:22, 1.19, 91%, Challenging
Wed 8:11, 6:12, 1.32, 96%, Challenging (11th highest ratio of 251 Wednesdays)

spacecraft 11:41 AM  

This was a toughie for a midweeker. W/O's include misspelling Ms. Womack's name as LEanNe, and my natural assumption (you know what THAT does) that any vote for independence would be ayE.

The former held me up in the NW for some TIME. I still don't know whence I pulled GOPFFT--what an entry!--but that epiphany served to UNCURL the section.

What a down row for M&A: KUNGFU YUMYUM! Gotta love it. All I had to do for the Bond flick is run thru titles till I found a 15er. Did I mention my dismal timeline handicap?

I am convinced now that the meta has something to do with the placement of those X's. Why else would PB2 include a second dose of XER? That spoonful of sugar better be mighty sweet.

Both FF entries are really oFF the wall for a Wedensday, and rightly put this one in the m-c category, in line with OFL. I did finish, though...wait a TAD. What is "SLARS?" I just saw that. Something's wrong. Lessee: FINNS, TANGLED, FACE, UNCURL, SANGRIA. What??? Shoots up. Okay, I never saw "Scent of a Woman," so maybe...but what else goes in TANG_ED? OMG! He didn't tangle, he TANGOED! And spacecraft SOARS across the finish line!

980: bedebedebedebede, thanks, Buck.

rondo 12:14 PM  

Had the UNfURL as so many others, but after the crosses figured out the C. Didn't notice the face gimmick until I came here. If that's a jack-o-lantern maybe my Halloween meta theory is back in play; or is something AWRY? MONET reappears from just recently. Lots of OXYGEN floating around this puz in different forms. Enough hot air from me. Found this one relatively easy - maybe too many 3s again - maybe things just clicked for me today.

4048 - NAE, not good enough

Waxy in Montreal 1:03 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Waxy in Montreal 1:07 PM  

Not my fav Wednesday by a long shot. Had no idea there was a theme, let alone a face in the grid until arriving here - still having difficulty making it out.

"Fjord explorers?", presumably a pun based on "Ford Explorers?", is a really convoluted clue for FINNS. And how well known are GIL & LEEANN anyhow?

Share the comments earlier concerning the multiple appearances of OXYGEN as well as the re-use of XER - guess syndisolvers could PEEK ahead to Saturday to see if it's meta-related but I'll resist.

Writeovers - NEWSDESK before NEWSROOM, 471TANGLED before TANGOED and UNCOIL before UNCURL.

471 --> 3. NAE, FAT chance!

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

Hey, I really liked this one. It was right up my alley and didn't have to research anything. I'm calling it Easy/Med. I luckily knew Carl Orff so that wasn't a problem. The hardest for me was the NE with the mooing and xoo et. But, it worked out.

I must admit my pencil was all over the grid, putting in a letter or two, before finding the complete word.

I give this three Yums up.

Ron Diego, CA no numbers

rain forest 2:03 PM  

Kinda liked it. Found it challenging until I theorized that Finns are perfectly capable of exploring fjords. Since I entered FACE TIME early, KUNG FU came readily. More theorizing: time, x, moo.

Even though DIOXIDE is not a 'type' of compound (the oxide of silicon is silicon dioxide), I let that pass.

4840 Take it @Spacey

Dirigonzo 3:38 PM  

I fixed karate and NEWSdesk, but UNfURL escaped my notice and so stayed in. CALC/COS is a nice tip o' the hat to math geeks.

431 - looks like spacy gets the POT.

DMG 4:52 PM  

Once again a NW corner with too many names! Not helped by starting with rocKAByebaby only to find it didn't fit. While I finally worked that out, couldn't get enough Downs to figure out what Mr. Hoffman did. Wonder if he shared his skill with my composer, fAROFFMAN? On to Thursday, when the puzzle might have to take a back seat to getting the turkey in the oven. Younger daughter is coming to do the heavy lifting, and I expect we'll be doing more talking than puzzling. So, Happy T'Day in advance!

2150 Think tthat's a tie with @Spacecraft?

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