Queen of Chicago / TUE 3-24-15 / Newspaper publisher Adolph / Drenched with sudden flow / Vampire role for Tom Cruise / Mischievous Norse god / Country with kibbutzim / Downloaded video format / Xmas poem opener

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Constructor: Robyn Weintraub

Relative difficulty: Challenging (***for a Tuesday***) (time = roughly 4 minutes)

THEME: NIGHT (71A: Word that can precede either part of 17-, 25-, 38-, 54- and 63-Across)

Theme answers:
  • SCHOOL CLUB (17A: Debate team or Model United Nations)
  • LIFELINE (25A: Aid on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire")
  • TIMETABLE (38A: Commuter's reference guide)
  • SKYLIGHT (54A: Atrium feature)
  • STICK SHIFT (63A: It's not an automatic feature)
Word of the Day: PARAPET (48A: Shooter's position in a fort) —
  1. a low protective wall along the edge of a roof, bridge, or balcony. 
    "Marian leaned over the parapet"
• • •

I really thought the "word that can precede" theme-type had been retired, at least semi-officially. I realize that here we get the "both words!" variant of that theme, but even that is now a quite hackneyed concept, one that usually results in not terribly interesting theme answers, and a revealer that's more of a shrug than a revelation. This is a completely satisfactory example of this theme type. Biggish corners, with longish Downs, give the grid at least a little character. Fill is of average quality, and what junk there is (PIS, IAL, DELA, ADDL, etc.) is largely inoffensive. I think if you can somehow add a new twist to this theme type, it might become something more than just an old-fashioned place holder. When the revealer is just [the word in question], whatever that word is, the air kind of goes out of the whole thing.

Not sure why I was so slow today. SCHOOL CLUB (the least tight of the themers) required all the crosses before CLUB came into view. Couldn't remember how to spell PISTIL, or if PISTIL was even the right word (1D: Pollination part). Brain gave me "stamen and p- p- p- something." I don't think I know that definition of SLUICED (32A: Drenched with a sudden flow). For some reason I associate "sluicing" with a change of direction, not a soaking. My confusion could be the result of a deep aversion to the word "sluice" (it's in the same category as "moist" and "teats" for me…). I never remember that BAHAI is a religion (57D: Mideast religion), mostly because I know nothing about it, so that, combined with the TAX / SSN cross-referenced clues, combined with the somewhat tricky clue on STICK SHIFT (63A: It's not an automatic feature), managed to slow me down some more in the SE. Then the big sticking point was having SUNLIGHT instead of SKYLIGHT at 54A: Atrium feature. Started doubting PARAPET, which I'd been so proud to throw across the grid moments earlier (48A: Shooter's position in a fort). Anyway it wasn't difficult, just slower going (for me) than Tuesdays usually are.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter / Facebook]


    jae 12:06 AM  

    Medium-tough for me. About what I expect for a Tues.  Solid theme with some iffy fill and a couple of outliers...OCHS, LESTAT... A mild liked it or what Rex said.  

    @Nancy - you might want to try timing yourself on Mon. and Tues. to add a little excitement to the solve?

    wreck 12:16 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Steve J 12:20 AM  

    Appropriately Tuesdayish, meaning I forgot about this less than a second after finishing it. Nothing wrong with this one, but nothing notable.

    Clark 12:31 AM  

    Not having done puzzles as long as Rex or some of the other pros here among the commentariat, I enjoyed the theme. The reveal was an aha moment for me. As in, what in the heck is theme of this puzzle?

    There is a very beautiful Baha'i Temple just north of Chicago in Wilmette. I like to drive by it when I am in the neighborhood. That helps to keep BAHAI fresh in my crossword memory.

    Greg 12:38 AM  

    Dead in the water at the SANAA LESTAT cross.

    wreck 12:43 AM  

    It seemed to be harder than my actual time. The ipad app said I was slightly faster than my average Tuesday.
    I've given up trying to rate Tuesdays, as it appears that most of the solvers here always find them too easy or too hard "for a Tuesday." I guess Tuesday is the hardest puzzle to rate and still please the masses, so I guess this was just "typical."

    chefwen 1:15 AM  

    Started off on a bad note by filling in ivoRy at 1A. That obviously went nowhere. LEO and ATHLETE set me straight. Spelled PISTIL incorrectly twice, like Rex CLUB was a long time coming. REturn before REBATE at 56A. Took some time to get through (a hell of a lot longer than 4 minutes) but get through it , I did.

    I'm loving these harder early week puzzles.

    David Epstein 1:29 AM  

    First time poster here, but I've read the blog many a time. Got held up at the FEU/FARO cross. Very difficult words for a Tuesday, ones I've never really seen before. Also, this puzzle ::technically:: has an error now; as of yesterday, the capital of Yemen is no longer SANAA. The president declared Aden as its temporary capital!

    Jisvan 2:34 AM  

    I think SLUICED is a really good word. It brings to mind cold snowmelt sliding over warm granite boulders, the smell of summer pines, and the crouched figure of the 49er, working the SLUICE box in hopes of sifting a few flakes of gold from the river bed. No, I'm not really that old, but it was a common tourist attraction in the Sierras when I was growing up, maybe you can still try your hand at it. (It's not moist and teat-like, Rex, it's shockingly cold!)

    Carola 2:45 AM  

    Medium here. After the first three theme answers were in, I guessed that it was a "word that can go with" puzzle, as the theme entries on their own didn't seem that interesting and were all two-word phrases. I tried to come up with the magic word...but after "high" didn't work, I waited for the reveal.

    I agree with @Rex on its being "completely safisfactory," if not a PEARL of its kind. It would have been nice if the theme answers could have had a little more verve - or FEU. And I found much of the other prime real estate taken up with uninteresting processes - ENCODED, LEGALIZED, REZONED, and DIALING, and more grid DRYWALL than filigree. I liked AVARICE, SLUICED, and the old-time PARAPET over the modern SKYLIGHT.

    Thomaso808 4:00 AM  

    DNF because of LESTAT / SANAA. I think it's fair to say it's a NATICK.

    George Barany 4:15 AM  

    Even though this type of theme has been done many times before, it should not detract from the sense of achievement to actually get it to work. So hats off to @Robyn Weintraub! I am similarly in awe of @Rex for being able to solve this in about 4 minutes, yet to consider it challenging. I would be lucky to type in the answers of a puzzle in that amount of time, if I had the key in front of me.

    For those of you looking for more puzzling to get you through the rest of your Tuesday, take a shot at The Gang's All Here by my friend @Tom Pepper. The puzzle was created as a prize for the Enigma Variations crossword metapuzzle contest from a few months back, and it features several knowing winks to this blog, its host, and some of its followers.

    I will be an official at the upcoming ACPT in Stamford, and look forward to meeting for the first time and/or becoming reacquainted with any of you who plan to be in attendance. In case you are wondering what an official does, let me put it into terms that are more familiar to me: proctoring and grading. A busman's holiday, if you will ...

    pfb 4:43 AM  

    Pretty average time for a Tuesday; I liked how the revealer worked for both words in the themed clues. Good puzzle.

    GILL I. 5:26 AM  

    I so want to really love a Tuesday puzzle. Why are they so anemic?
    For some reason I felt like this was telling me to be a little 12 year old with answers like ASU PIS OCHS MPEG OTS IAL and my favorite ADDL.
    SCHOOL CLUB reminds me of band practice after P.E. even though I never did it. And creme DELA creme...really? How else is creme if not DELA?
    Who the hell is LESTAT?

    Danp 6:25 AM  

    Lestat and Sanaa a natick? Anne Rice novels are pretty common and Lestat appears in a bunch of them. And Sanaa (often spelled Sana) is a crossword staple. It's also in the news about as often as Justin Bieber.

    brd 6:56 AM  

    I had a lot of trouble with NIGHT TABLE and NIGHT LINE. It took me a bit to realize the first means night *stand*... Is that a regionalism? I'm still not sure about the second. Is there a news program called this?

    Anyway... Long time lurker. I enjoy this community and wanted to say hello.

    Loren Muse Smith 7:02 AM  

    I had a dnf on a Tuesday because of the MODE/MPS cross. That set of numbers rang no bell with me, and I have no idea what kinds of guys are running around the House of Commons. So CODE/CPS, NODE/NPS, LODE/LPS would have made just as much sense.

    “Pistin/net” but could have fixed that if I had thought about it.

    I also had “pave” before EASE.

    I, for one, am always grateful for the reminder on a 22lb frozen turkey (we buy big) to THAW the damn thing before putting it in the oven.

    General Ferdinand’s daughter, Roxie, marries Adolph’s son: Roxie Fochs-Ochs. She scandalizes the world in a daring gown. Headline reads Roxie Fochs-Ochs’ Frock Shocks!

    LEGALIZED feels rather current; pot is LEGALIZED in Colorado. Gay marriage is LEGALIZED. For me, gambling in Nevada is just plain legal.

    @David Epstein – glad you posted! I agree that the FEU/FARO cross will thwart some Monday/Tuesday solvers like my dad. Hope to see more from you. Interesting about SANAA.

    @carola – I always try to avoid looking at the reveal both to postpone the aha moment and to try to suss out the trick on my own.

    All in all – a fine Tuesday imo. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of this kind of theme. I’ll be listening carefully all day to people, playing around with other possibilities. This is starting off to be a GOOD WEEK.

    Glimmerglass 7:25 AM  

    A SLUICEway is an open passage to move liquid, usually water, with gravity. Often the sluiceway is there to move materials suspended in the water. Some times the passage is wide, such as below a dam or a watermill. Sometimes it's a long, narrow box with no lid, in which case it is the same thing as a flume. To SLUICE is to wash away [anything] with liquid. Nice word. Reminds me of my youth looking for gold at Fort Sutter in 1849.

    Mohair Sam 7:30 AM  

    Very nice Tuesday. Rarely do puzzles outside of our daily NYT so the theme didn't seem tired to us at all. Thought the doubling up of it was clever.

    FARO/FEU a natick in waiting here, but we guessed right.

    joho 7:50 AM  

    I remember how fascinated I was by LESTAT when reading "Interview With An Vampire" so that was a gimme.

    I had the same problem as @LMS at MPS/MODE as I thought it was PMS. But there is only one of those, right? So I guessed correctly hoping MODE was a mathematical thing.

    I thought this was a very dense theme well done!

    Thank you, Robyn!

    Lewis 7:51 AM  

    With @chefwen, I too am loving these early week puzzles that have been slightly upticked in difficulty, keeping them in line with the day (this is too easy for a Wednesday) while having some bite.

    Like @lms, I guessed at the MODE/MPS crossing. But now I remember what MODE is. And, @lms, it was a cheap gown and you need the word "schlock" before "frock". (It was still a great headline!)

    I liked the Mideast subtheme (ISRAEL, HALLAL, BAHAI, SANAA) and the clue for LEO. The puzzle had a zippy feel, like an Acme puzzle. Some of it was in the cluing, such as taking a plain word like EVER and cluing it with the Off To See The Wizard song. I like the sounds of CRAW and LATIFAH.

    A fun solve and excellent Tuesday puzzle. Thank you for that, Robyn!

    Lewis 7:58 AM  

    @nancy -- this one is worth doing!

    Aketi 8:01 AM  

    @ Jisvan, our family used to camp at a lake in the Sierra Nevadas as kids. sometimes we'd drive up to an area were you could see the erosion from sluicing, We'd always try thr more primitive method of panning for gold. at that time it hadn't yet become a tourist attraction,

    @ Nancy, thanks to your comment yesterday about solving puzzles on Mondays and Tuesdays, I decided to up my game and NOT check my entries. As a result the iPad gave my second gold star of the week. You and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum. I am a white belt to your fifth degree balck belt in puzzle solving.

    @ Leapfinger, in response to your comment yesterday I need to clarify so as to not bring eternal shame and disgrace upon myself. I am preoaring for my black belt test in MIXED Martial Arts, not Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The dojo started with Tae Kwon Do and then started adding in techniques from other disciplines. They offer BJJ as a separate clas, I am a lowly white belt (with three stripes) in BJJ. The difference between the two is like the difference between playing checkers and playing chess, or between a Monday puzzle and a Friday puzzle.

    Rhino 8:04 AM  

    Enjoyable, forgettable and over in less than ten minutes. Reminds me of...

    Bird 8:23 AM  

    A good puzzle that I DNF at FARO/FEU. All I could think of was T but figured it was wrong. Originally had ON THE at 14A (on the first day …) but PoSTIL was obviously wrong.

    Wrote in DRY WOOD at 43D off the DRYW and thought no way that could be the answer.

    How many ZEDS are there in the OED?

    jberg 8:29 AM  

    I think we had SANA as the capital of Yemen within the week. I guess you really can transliterate it either way, so I suppose that's all right -- capital of China: PEKING next.

    I got SCHOOL CLUB and thought I was looking at a bridge puzzle, with four suits. No such luck, though. I had to get the revealer to see what they had in common.

    REfund before REBATE was my only problem. I have no idea how to play FARO, but it was one of the popular games of the Wild West, as I know from literature. As for LESTAT, I do remember the name, but I got it from crosses and never saw it until just now.

    For those wondering (and many seem to be), MPs are Members of Parliament. It's what those ZED-users actually call them.

    AliasZ 8:30 AM  

    I like a Tuesday puzzle in which I encounter a few words I rarely -- if ever -- use: PARAPET, PISTIL, SANA'A, LESTAT, BAHÁ'Í, LOKI, ETC. Don't get me wrong, I use "et cetera" all the time, but not "etc". How do you even say that? Etk? Etcee? Eateesee? I also try to stay low-key, but it's never spelled LOKI. When I want to feel Louis XIV-esque, I even say "L'état, c'est moi" but never "LESTAT, c'est moi". And I have been known to say hi to SANA'A Claus at yuletide. Are my eyes deceiving me? PISTIL my heart, is that Sofia Scicolone? At one time I had a PARAPET in my household: two parakeet.

    But enough silliness. Let's get down to serious business. I enjoyed this puzzle. The five theme entries are all fair, and they become ten when you consider that NIGHT can be a STICK as well as a SHIFT, and LIFE as well as LINE, eateesee. It would have been awesome if the revealer were NIGHT AND DAY, where both NIGHT and DAY could precede both words in the theme phrases. The only such phrases I could come up with were TIME SHIFT and SCHOOL LIGHT. What's a school light? Uh, never mind... I am trying to step over the PIS. And the EDS, ZEDS, IAL, ADDL, and LEO. Let's see how many days in a row can we get LEO into the puzzle one way or another, zodiac sign, Saint, Durocher or Tolstoy?

    I was going to offer Stravinsky's "L'oiseau de FEU" or "FEU d'artifice", but decided against it. Maybe later.

    Francisco DELA Torre (c.1460-c.1504) was a Spanish Renaissance composer, born in Seville but active in the Kingdom of Naples. Few of his compositions survive found mostly in the collection "La música en la corte de los Reyes Católicos". They include one courtly instrumental dance, a funeral responsory, an "office of the dead" (prayer cycle), and ten villancicos (three sacred, seven secular).

    Enjoy your Tuesday.

    Z 8:39 AM  

    That FARO/FEU crossing is crazy. I think FARO was WOD here, once, so I got it easily. That's experience, not brains.

    Hard to call a natick with SANA'A in the news. LESTAT would be a nominee, it's been quite awhile since that vampire was all the rage, but I think the cross is fair. I wonder what LESTAT makes off all the younger, more popular vampires. Does he shake his head and wonder where the time has gone? @Danp - Didja hear that they're doing an Interview remake starring the Biebs and set in Yemen?

    9 minutes is average on Tuesday for me. Like the theme well enough. No Stleoii or Pewits to be found. I rate it a Full Feu Faro.

    NCA President 8:46 AM  

    Like others, the MODE/MPS crossing and the FARO/FEU crossing were major blocks. nODE looked reasonable as a series of points on an axis that got stuck at 6. You know, like a node. And I had tARO because I eat mostly food I can pronounce and rarely go to French restaurants (does anyone go to French restaurants anymore? I seriously can't think of one single French restaurant in Nashville...a couple of "bistros" but their menus are in English). Anyway, I had to spell check the puzzle to find the problems and then I just started guessing.

    And while guessing may seem as simple as just running the alphabet, when you have two crossings that are wrong by a single letter, that makes it doubly hard...or maybe exponentially hard. Perhaps modally hard. I don't know...it took a long time to get both answers right.

    Otherwise the dang thing was easy. Just those spots. Weird that Rex's spots were where they were...I pretty much breezed through all of those spots.

    Z 8:47 AM  

    BTW - Measures of central tendency include mean (aka "average"), median, and mode. For [3,5,5,6,6,6,7] the mean is ~5.43, the median is 6, and the mode is 6. It's always good, when someone tries to convince you of a fact using one of these, to ask what the other two are.

    Rex Porker 8:50 AM  

    Well, this was challenging *for a Tuesday*. (I always feel the need to add the "for a Tuesday" even though I've explained many times that I'm not going to insult my readers by adding "for a Tuesday" because after 75 years of this tiresome blog they should all know the difficulty I ascribe to a puzzle is relative to the day of the week. [But add it I will. It's my blog and therefore nobody should question or criticize anything I do.]) I finished in 37.24 seconds, which is .13 seconds slower than usual, likely due to my car being an automatic, and since STICKSHIFT isn't something I've experienced myself, I have no knowledge of it and it's therefore bad fill. Also, this puzzle has a theme, all of which have been done before, and it is therefore sub-par. Sub. Par. Was offended by STEALAWAY, as I don't think puzzles should be encouraging solvers to steal things, but perhaps that's just my own biases against immoral things, like moist teats.

    Hartley70 9:10 AM  

    I think this was a fine Tuesday. I'm not jaded by this trick at all and I had an enjoyable time trying to guess the magic word before I revealed it. Welcome @brd and I hesitated right where you did. For a minute NIGHTTABLE just looked so wrong to me and then I slapped my head.

    Unlike Rex, I'm fond of the word SLUICE and I enjoyed @Glimmerglass' explanation because it reminded me of "flume" one of the best words ever. Go to New Hampshire and see one! Take the kids! My parents did.

    Now @GeorgeBarany AND @CascoKid are going to be in Stamford! It makes me want to lurk by the curb in front of the hotel like a papparazzi. I hope there's a red carpet! Have fun, guys!

    OISK 9:12 AM  

    Was away watching basketball over the weekend, and so missed a chance to chime in on the idiot who upset the lovely Nancy. Glad she continues to post.

    My 3 week winning streak was broken Thursday on "My Sharona" , but worse than that, today's puzzle, which I finished pretty quickly, gave me my first DNF on a Tuesday that I can recall. I had Sinaa and Bahii, instead of Sanaa and Bahai. Just careless, and I have actually been to a Bahai temple, and LIKE geography clues, but there it is. DNF on Tuesday. I liked this puzzle anyway, thought the theme was well executed, and the difficulty was just about right.

    Tita 9:18 AM  

    LEO? I'd be happy just for Pisces and Aries to convince the weather gods to let spring arrive, much less summer.

    I must admit that the theme was ho-hum, but I did like lots of the words y'all are pointing out.

    DELA reminds me of Miss Brodie in "The Prime of" - might be the first movie I ever say with someone DENUDED.
    Her gairrls were of course "the crème DELA crème".
    What a career Maggie Smith is having...

    DIALING crossing STICKSHIFT - 2 things disappearing into the past.
    Though we'll be saying DIALING the phone for generations, much like we still say hang up.
    I am a STICKSHIFT snob - I hope that I can still be driving my stick till a) I cain't drive no more or b) driverless cars become a thing. Because driving an automatic is even more boring than driving a driverless car.

    @AliasZ - it woulda been LESTAT c'est moi, back before the French banished those pesky "S"s and replaced them with accents aigues!

    BAHAI is an anagram for the Brasilian state of Bahia - which must be why I think of it as an African-Brasilian religion.

    @lms, great headline. And let's meet for a squash match at the TWELFTH COURT OVER.

    Thanks Ms. Weintraub, for a slightly crunchy Tuesday.

    And a hearty welcome to the new folks!

    grammar nazi 9:22 AM  

    Hartley70: I believe that not only did you misspell "paparazzi," but you also meant the singular "paparazzo," did you not?

    quilter1 9:27 AM  

    Not to brag but flew through this while having breakfast. I only paused to ponder the spelling of LATIFAH. I liked it. Thanks, Robyn.

    RnRGhost57 9:45 AM  

    @David Epstein: first, welcome to the blog. Second, excellent call on Sanaa and Aden.

    Billy C 9:48 AM  

    There goes Barany again, using this blog to promote one of his works, in this case a puzzle in a contest he ran.

    JC66 9:54 AM  

    @Rex Porker - Hilarious

    @ Billy C - Boring

    Hartley70 9:55 AM  

    Probably. I'm looking ashamed right now and banging my forehead with my iphone in a Monty Python kind of way.

    Roo Monster 10:04 AM  

    Hey All !
    Fairly easy TuesPuz. Trouble with NIGHT TABLE as a thing, til @brd said it could mean NIGHT stand. Thanks for that. :-)

    @joho - Got a kick out of your 41D! Was it PM S, as in Prime Minister, or PMS, as in monthly ire for you ladies? :-)

    FARO a new 'un for me. pave for EASE, leer for GAZE, SunLIGHT for SKYLIGHT, jPEG for MPEG, misread 37 A clue as QED!

    Runtpuz clue for 22D, FUE - Ran out of Gas??


    TINY BUSCUS 10:04 AM  

    My problem in the southeast was not SANAA/LESTAT but SANAA/LATIFAH. I knew who she was. I could totally picture her on the Chicago poster. I just couldn't remember how to spell her name. LATIFFA? no... LATTIFA??? no.... the H threw me, and without the H I just couldn't get NIGHT. For SSN I had S___
    and what I wanted was INC or EXP (income or expense) or something! Anyway that last corner was tough, and since it held the key to the whole puzzle I was stymied.

    Roo Monster 10:06 AM  

    Oops, realized FEU, not FUE. Where's my coffee?

    How about - Short arguement??


    Leapfinger 10:30 AM  

    The first Robyn of Spring, Yay!

    A quick calc'n to see whether it was the Mean as well as the MODE; quite stylish, that.

    Agree with the Venerable @Glimmerglass about SLUICE, a word I particularly like because it sounds s'loose.
    But shame on @Lewis for verbizing upticking.

    @Aketi, thanks for the clarification, but you have to realize the reason I picked on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was so I could work in the 'Brazilian whacks'. Thanks for the second chance to harrow @NCAPrez' soul. ;D

    @AliasZ, thanks for your MODE-icum of silliness. I also had a PARAPETS, but they were twin Siamese cats. And you know I Love Loren.
    How many days in a row for LEO? Nine.

    NCAPrez, check out: Miel, Margot Cafe & Bar, Chateau West, Germantown, The Melting Pot, Tin Angel, Fleur de Lys Cuisine, Crepe a Diem, TABLE 3. All of them claim to include 'French cuisine' (beyond Fries and Toast),the bolded ones exclusively so. You're right to the extent that only 13 of 1,618 restaurants in Nashville self-describe as French. Tant PIS.

    Have used up my time allotment on replies, oy vey. Will have to try for a comeback, cuz I enjoyed this.

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:30 AM  

    My strongest reaction to the puzzle came at the clue for 25 A, "Aid on 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'", a surge of nostalgia for a show I watched with my lunch for many years until it was taken off, followed by a feeling of unease when I realized I have no idea what lifelines WWTBAM might be using now, and relief when I found that the answer was simply the generic LIFELINE!

    @George Barany - At your blog, in the information concerning the Enigma Variations puzzle, you say that the meta answer will be given in a midrash, but I've never found it. I don't Tweet or Facebook; will I ever know the meta answer?

    chefbea 10:37 AM  

    I agree - a little tough for a Tuesday. Of course knew pot-au-feu. But didn't understand mode...and still don't!!! Can someone explain it in lay terms.

    I posted last night that a couple danced to My Sharonna on dancing with the stars!!! Great song..great dance!!

    Casco Kid 10:40 AM  

    Easy-medium here. Sub 10 minutes, which is pretty fast for me. No problem with LESTAT/SANAA as we've see SANAA frequently, and LESTAT is a gimme. Ya know, sometimes it just falls . . .

    Stamford will be a blast. As long as my alias holds, I'll tell you all about it. But if I'm outed, then what happens in Stamford stays in Stamford.

    John Child 10:41 AM  

    > Oops, realized FEU, not FUE. Where's my coffee?
    > How about - Short arguement??

    @Roo: a perfect double ?? clue!

    Welcome to a couple of first time posters. We are an odd bunch but "mostly harmless." Come back and say more.

    Is Valdeemeer Pooteen around? There's a puzzle just waiting for him...

    Elephant's Child 10:46 AM  

    So @grammar nazi now covers two AXES of the AXiS. Next thing, s/he will be enlightening us on Japanese yowzitch.

    Sheila Bell 10:49 AM  

    Bloggers should be limited to 5 comments? Too many repeaters on a subject!

    Nancy 10:55 AM  

    @aketi -- Since I have always aspired to be a physically awesome wunderkind (even though I am no longer a kind), I would trade my puzzle-solving black belt for your jiu jitsu white belt (soon to be a black belt?)in what we, in my neck of the woods, call "a New York minute." Imagine, at only 5' tall, being able to wrestle a 300-lb male gorilla to a standstill, if not to wrest an actual victory. I watched the video and I STILL can't imagine it! So you go girl and take full pleasure in your remarkable physical prowess.

    @jae -- I can't write all that fast and tend to get short of breath when I do anything pleasurable while watching the clock. I'm sure I did this one quite fast, but I was not looking at the clock and have no idea how fast.

    @GILL I. I totally agree with you on this puzzle. @Lewis: you're an absolute love for cluing me in, but today I wasn't on the same page as you. My experience this a.m. is that, for me, reading the comments has been much more fun than solving the puzzle.

    old timer 10:58 AM  

    Now was that the *real* John Child?

    Slow for me, *for a Tuesday*. That's partly because, like Rex, I had Sunlight instead of SKYLIGHT. But mainly because I confidently wrote down "return" instead of REBATE. Thus, though I certainly wanted LATIFAH, it wasn't until everything else was done that I put in the correct word and Bob's Your Uncle, it was done.

    Rex considers all abbreviations to be inelegant dreck, I think. Me? I only resent those that are overused, and ETC and SSN were the only ones I see all the time. But I was very grateful for the SSN and TAX, very helpful to me to come up with my final solution.

    Oh. True, there are some French words where "es" is replaced by e with an accent aigu. But it is maybe more useful to the student to learn that the *circumflex* accent over a vowel indicates an "s" that used to be there. Thus, "hote" used to be "hoste", "hotel" used to be "hostel", etc.

    Joseph Michael 11:00 AM  

    Liked the theme and its abundance but wasn't crazy about the fill. Too many abbreviations and obscurities, especially for a Tuesday.

    Had lucky guesses for MODE/MPS and FARO/FEU. Had HELP LINE before LIFE LINE. Didn't know SANAA but got it from the crosses.

    Am trying to remember the last time I actually used DIALING to make a phone call. Anybody still have a rotary phone?

    Nancy 11:04 AM  

    Oh, and @OISK. Thanks so much for your incredibly nice comment! I've missed you, actually, was wondering where you'd disappeared to, and am delighted to see you back. Hope the basketball you watched was everything you dreamed it would be...and more!

    Z 11:23 AM  

    @ChefBea - Was hoping one of the math teachers would step in with a more elegant explanation, but here goes:

    MODE is the the number that occurs the most (so 6 in today's example because there are three of them in the set).
    Median is the number in the middle (also 6 today because once you order the numbers 3-5-5-6-6-6-7 you have the number 6 in the middle). Each tells you something different.

    Imagine a village of 31 people. 11 people make $9K a year, 10 people make $10K a year, 9 people make $11K a year, and the priest, who gets tithes from everyone, makes $29.8K per year. The Mean salary is $10,574/year. The MODE tells you that the most typical person in the village makes $9K/year because more people make that much than any other amount. Median tells you that someone making $10K a year has just as many people make the same or less as people making the same or more. The Mean salary is deceptive here, 20 of the 31 people make less, but one person skews the data.

    {italics for MODE, bold for Median, † marks about where the Mean is}

    Ludyjynn 11:32 AM  

    I liked LEGALIZED next to pot (au FEU).

    Came across the Queen LATIFAH film, "LAST Holiday" while channel surfing the other day. She had the ability to bring charm and humor to a less than stellar script/concept. No mean feat.

    Is DRYWALL anything like 'green paint'?!

    Liked the inclusiveness of HALAL/ISRAEL/BAHAI.

    No WOES here, I enjoyed it a lot.

    Thanks, RW and WS.

    Numinous 11:41 AM  

    @chefwen, CLUB was a long time coming for me too. I thought I saw SCHOOL begining to form but wasn't sure. When I was about half-way down the grid, I looked back up and reread the downs and it all fell into place.

    @Glimmerglass, didn't realize you were that old. Damned if I can recall seeing you around Sutter's Mill in those days. @Jisvan, I too spent many summers in the Sierra Nevada in the vicinity of Columbia/Sonora and further up around Pinecrest and Utica lakes. Gold rush history, SLUICE boxes and Three-Finger Jack are all part of growing up in Central California.

    Welcome, @David Epstein, nice of you to chime in. Excellent call on SANAA. It is very rare to call an error on a puzzle clue and actually be correct. Congrats.

    @Clark and OISK, When I lived in the Sydney suburb of Ingleside, I could see the dome of the BAHA'I temple from the front porch. Out of curiosity I went to services there several times. The have a choir loft which hides the choir completely from view and, as I recall, the choir was all female voices. While I'm not particularly religious, I found it to be quite a spiritual experience.

    Having lived in London for a while, I knew MPS straight off. But after typing ZEeS instead of ZEDS, I felt more fou then FEU.

    Old OATERS often referred to the game of FARO. It's just a big wheel with pins between numbers and a tab that clicks and acts eventually as a stop as the wheel slows. The odds are worse than roulette.

    My grandfather was always amused by the fact that in the south ONE mashes (for example) elevator buttons rather than pressing them. When pushbutton phones came into vogue, he entertained himself by mashing a phone number rather than DIALING it. I guess in his mind they wre "mashbutton" phones. Living in Georgia now, I've asked, "Would you mash three for me please?" And my fellow lift passenger would comply without batting an EYEPIT or raising a brow.

    Very nice Tuesday offering that didn't insult the intellect.

    chefbea 11:52 AM  

    @Z thanks...LOL

    mathguy 12:28 PM  

    @Rex Porker: Hilarious indeed!

    @Tita: Thanks for reminding me of where I first heard "creme de la creme." I vaguely remember a nude scene in the movie. I should Netflix it.

    A couple of days ago I compared this forum to a good party and said that it's not polite to insult the host of a good party. But it's OK to make fun of him.

    But going further, lately I rush through Rex's remarks to get here. It reminds me of PE class where we would suffer through the teacher's instructions before he would throw out the balls and let us play.

    Lewis 12:44 PM  

    Factoid: Because PEARLs are made primarily of calcium carbonate, they can be dissolved in vinegar.

    Quotoid: "A city is where you can sign a petition, boo the chief justice, fish off a pier, GAZE at a hippopotamus, buy a flower at the corner, or get a good hamburger or a bad girl at 4 A.M. A city is where sirens make white streaks of sound in the sky and foghorns speak in dark grays. San Francisco is such a city." -- Herb Caen

    Bomaka 12:53 PM  

    Fell into the same SunLIGHT/SKYLIGHT and REturn/REBATE holes as others. Confidently entered rAmparT before PARAPET.

    @Clark: fondly recall driving past the stunning BAHAI temple in Wilmette on my daily commute.

    @Lewis: liked the TREK through the Middle East with SANAA, Israel, HALAL AND BAHAI. You could also add the FAROs of Egypt, Mohammed ALI(S), and queen LATIFAH.

    Enjoyable, fairly dreck-free Tuesday-ish puzzle. Thank you RW!

    mac 12:57 PM  

    Sort of a classic puzzle, well-executed. Fine and easy-medium to me.

    My write-over was return for rebate, and I thought of "rampart" before parapet. Just last night I saw a map of Yemen with Sanaa on it.

    Never knew there used to be an s in the word before the accent circonflexe was added!

    mac 12:59 PM  

    @Casco Kid: it's a good idea to put your blog name on the back of your name tag, that way we can find you! Other thing to look for is Bob Kerfuffle's Hawaiian shirt. You'll have more fun when you are outed! See you there, hopefully.

    Masked and AnonymoUUs 1:03 PM  

    M&A's House of Pitiful Additional Themers:

    * TOWELSTAND. (some homophone work required)
    * FEVERVISION. (I once saw Elvis, while fightin a head cold)
    * SWEATHAWK. (will use in a sentence, below)

    Dandy puz construction, and a fun & feisty solve. Got MODE lickspit (NIGHTLICK? NIGHTSPIT? ...nah), becuz of my math background. And that made the Minstrels of Parliament pretty easy to nail down, at my house.

    Kibbutzim is a neat word. So is Zhivago. And definitely addl-ly PARAPET, even tho better clue = {One too many budgie??}; real surprised that the Shortzmeister didn't catch that -- must be busy, cluin up all them tournament puzs this week. Is @63 going to there? Time to update his numberplate?!!
    Another extra neat word: UROLOGY. Mostly beuz of all the cluin possibilities ... but I digress.

    That SE corner deserves some expert analysis and probin. It's tryin to accomodate a stack of long fillins, **plus ** two themers. Day-um. U gotta be a real sweathawk, to construct that corner successfully. Even then, glorious desperation ensues...

    * SANAA. This is the capital city, as pronounced by a baby goat that needs a urologist.
    * ADDL. Like this. It's... so... shapeless. {How to turn fue into something you can run with??} woulda saved the day, here.
    * IAL. Ah, yes. The Capp genus returns. Soothin.
    * ALIS. Plural names are almost always a crowd-pleaser. (Exception: BUSHS.)
    * BAHAI. I know what y'all are thinkin-- but, nooOOOo -- this religion is not dedicated to castin dispersions on cars that drive themselves.
    * SSN. The weeject with hardly any identity problems.
    * LATIFAH. Really cool, that this puppy could just drop right in there. Ditto, on schlocky LESTAT. Tom Cruise! Sure wish him good luck, now that he has started runnin for President.


    Bob Kerfuffle 1:04 PM  

    @Casco Kid: To follow up on @mac's suggestion, I would refer you to this Rex Parker post from 2011. (You can skip the words; just look at the pictures.)

    AliasZ 1:06 PM  


    I was going to enter into a monolog about the Gog Ray / Magog Ray twins yesterday but thought better of it. Thank you for your greeting late last night, I deeply appreciate it.

    It is rare that 1A right off the bat offers a musical reference. Here is a beautiful duet from the opera "Les pêcheurs de perles" (The PEARL Fishers) by Georges Bizet sung by Jussi Björling and Robert Merrill.

    As promised, let us listen to FEU d'artifice (Fireworks) by Igor Stravinsky, and let me finish, appropriately, with the finale of his ballet L'oiseau de FEU (The Firebird).


    GILL I. 2:08 PM  

    @Bob K...What fun to go back to memory lane and remember how happy everybody was at that time!
    I really miss @Tobias, @jesser, @JaxInL.A., @Shamick and the wonderful stories from @fikink....
    I think I had just started to post at that time so seeing pictures of the participants was a real treat.
    I hope we see more posted this year....

    M and Asu 2:13 PM  

    Yo, to @Alias-Z and @Roo, for all the subliminal inspiration. I let all the Comment Gallery text flow over me, then write and submit my take, then read em all again, to try to figure out why my mind was possessed to wander in its chosen directions.

    I remember wantin to explain MODE, but that someone had already done it. Woulda realized it was the Magnificent Beast (tshirt tm) @Z, if he hadn'ta already taught me how to hide his comments, lately. Nice job on both counts, @Z-meister.

    ASU Like It. Shakespeare!


    chefbea 2:19 PM  

    @Mac and all those attending the ACPT..we all want to see pictures of all the recites..and other famous people!!

    Joseph Welling 5:44 PM  

    I like the puzzle generally. The theme didn't matter much.

    My only quibble is that I would not use "figure" to refer to any sort of ID number like a PIN or SSN. I think of the word as a number you can do meaningful math with--if not some sort of measure.

    As for PARAPET, those of us who grew up watching F-Troop well remember Capt. Parmenter crying out, "To the parapets!"

    Leslie Anne Levine 6:25 PM  

    Fifteen years gone now
    I still wander this PARAPET
    And shake my rattle bone
    Fifteen years gone now
    I still cling to the petticoats
    Of the girl who died with me

    Teedmn 7:19 PM  

    A very nice Tuesday puzzle, Ms. Weintraub, and nothing to cringe about, per the constructor's comments in Wordplay, in my opinion.

    I brought a pot of Gerbera daisies into the house to see if I could keep them alive over the winter. I see I have four OAKTREEs growing in it now - darn squirrels. Well they didn't get those acorns, hah!

    How I Got My Ex Husband Back 9:47 PM  

    OMG!!,I am out here to spreed this good news to the entire world on how I got my ex husband back. My name is Natasha Johnson,i live in Florida,USA,and I'm happily married to a lovely and caring husband ,with three kids. A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my husband .so terrible that he took the case to court for a divorce.he said that he never wanted to stay with me again,and that he didn't love me anymore.So he packed out of the house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get him back,after much begging,but all to no avail.and he confirmed it that he has made his decision,and he never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my husband .So i explained every thing to him,so he told me that the only way i can get my husband back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for him too.So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow his advice. Then he gave me the email address of the spell caster whom he visited.{bravespellcaster@gmail.com}. So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address he gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my husband back the next day.What an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my husband who didn't call me for the past seven {7}months,gave me a call to inform me that he was coming back.So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster. So, i will advice you out there to kindly visit the same website { http://enchantedscents.tripod.com/lovespell/},if you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to "bringing your ex back. So thanks to the Dr Brave for bringing back my husband ,and brought great joy to my family once again. { bravespellcaster@gmail.com }, Thanks..

    Anonymous 7:54 AM  

    Holy Mackerel! What has happened to OFL??

    Clara jonez 2:53 PM  

    I will forever be grateful to a great spell caster who helped me to get my husband back who left me for 4 months and just on contact with this man everything changed and my husband came back to me just in a space of 48 hours its just absolutely amazing and i will drop his contact here for those in help to contact him via eduduzadsontemple@yahoo.com for any relationship challenge or financial distress...

    lee woo 2:03 AM  

    The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it. See the link below for more info.


    Mikaelson Family 12:16 PM  

    How do I get turned into a vampire" is answered on this page. That is why this page will tell you how to get turned into a vampire.
    This is also referred to as being changed into a real vampire.Only a real vampire can turn you into a vampire. Regardless of what some people and websites claim, being a vampire is a physical, medical thing. No spell, or ritual, or non-vampire can turn you into a vampire.To get turned into a vampire you need to do a simple exchange of blood with a vampire. Even just a 1/4 teaspoon of blood is more than enough blood to turn you into a vampire.connect with Mikaelson Family today if you wanna be a real vampire and have a chance to exchange blood with us. Email us via:mikaelsonvampirediaries@gmail.com

    Burma Shave 8:36 AM  

    I’ve been worrying all night as to if I’ve been reverse-psychologically-trolled. By complimenting me when - -oh, maybe it was just the opposite? Mockery!? Might I be shamed into nevermore posting where at least a dozen people, whom I’ll never, ever meet, might read my often off-color verse, crafted by using key answers from the NYT xword? Terrors! What to do? Is life still worth living? Alas!

    And now vampires to go with the spellcasters. Will it never end? Are there any answers to life’s deep questions? (apologies to Guy Noir)

    BS2 9:41 AM  


    “Throw me a LIFELINE and maybe a PISTIL,” he TOLD me and moaned,
    “Through city hall’s LEGALIZED AVARICE, my manse was REZONED.”
    “TWAS for removing some DRYWALL and installing a SKYLIGHT,
    now they’ll STEALAWAY my home, perhaps INTHE NIGHT.”
    “Their TIMETABLE is soon, they RELY on TWICE the ADDL TAXes,
    but I’ll protect the LAST of my IDEALS with that PISTIL and some AXES.”
    “From my PARAPET IN THE OAKTREE my MODE is to wait
    and keep DIALING city hall, EACH time requesting a REBATE.”


    rondo 11:18 AM  

    I thought this puz was solid – “especially for a Tuesday”. Very little detritus, lotsa theme, and longish words for fill. Sure this type’s been done before, but probably not as well. And many Tuesdays have been dreadful lately. (and 4 minutes, my @$$!, smell the roses)

    Need to brush up on mathy terms, only write-over was Mean for MODE.

    Has LARA ever been clued for Ms. Spencer? From Antiques Roadshow to GMA, yeah baby.

    Thought the abbr. should be CMDR, so maybe instead use a TECH clue for a certain disc?

    The air didn’t go out of it for me at the revealer, I was wondering all along until then. Among the recent Tuesday swine, I consider this a PEARL.

    spacecraft 12:10 PM  

    I agree with @rondo. Liked it, and actually had to start filling in the downs in the SE before finally arriving at the 21a moment: NIGHT. Loved @Rex Porker's hilarious satire. Keep those coming, please!

    I did take notice that OFL claimed a "roughly" time. C'mon, man. Why not to the second? Could it be your fourth minute, like the "day" in "Inherit the Wind," was of indeterminate length--say, about ten or fifteen minutes? Fess up!

    Was surprised that the usually brilliant @lms didn't know M (embers of) P (arliament)S, or the high-school algebra discussion of median, mean and MODE, so well explained by @Z.

    MPEG o' my heart, you were my only outlier today. More TECH stuff. *sigh* Yes, this theme Has Been Done Before; that does not "automatic"ally condemn it to mediocrity. As I said, the single missing-word revealer is fine if the SKYLIGHT to your brain opens as late as mine did.

    STEALAWAY evoked another poignant memory, from church camp. I used to know all the words by heart, but sadly, all I can recall now is the last line.

    I ain't got long to stay here.

    DMG 3:21 PM  

    Finally back on line after some kind of prolonged system glitch, and instead of looking at that stack of mostly trashable E-mails, here I am checking up on hte semantic world! At any rate enjoyed this one, even if I just had to accept SANAA with two A's. Emjoyed M@A's "extra answers"- particularly "night towels". see you tomorrow, I hope!

    9204 not worth waiting for!

    Z 3:34 PM  

    @Burma Shave 8:36 - How dare you write daily in such an entertaining way. Personally, I'd rather read about the vampire getting her husband back than lively creations using puzzle words. Such creative entertainment must be stopped. Stopped I say.

    Consider yourself double-reversed-psychologied.

    rain forest 3:58 PM  

    Per @Spacey, @Rondo, and others, I very much liked this puzzle, and @Rex Porker's satirical comment was brilliant/hilarious/spot on. Way more effective than just calling OFL names.

    If you consider geologic time, I did this puzzle in the blink of an eye, and the three potential Naticks were gimmes here.

    So gratifying to see ZEDS in there, as well as MPS. We need more British/Canadian usage, as well as cowbells.
    All in all, a fine Tuesday.

    208 the baccarat-unfriendly numbers continue.

    Anonymous 8:34 AM  

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    Silvia Jacinto 9:51 PM  

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