Small flycatchers / TUE 6-7-16 / Oxide in rubies sapphires / shapes of bacilli bacteria / yale affectionately / classic song that starts mid pleasurse palaces though we may roam

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Challenging (*for a Tuesday*) (still well under 5 min. so don't freak out)

THEME: NEEDLEPOINT (24A: Popular setting for 17- / 18- / 19-Across) — an attempt to depict a "HOME / SWEET / HOME" (17A: With 18- and 19-Across, classic song that starts "Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam") needlepoint, with a giant SLATE ROOF covering a wee THREE / STORY / HOUSE (47A: With 53- and 56-Across, certain abode).

Word of the Day: PHOEBES (40A: Small flycatchers) —
The genus Sayornis is a small group of medium-sized insect-eating birds, known as phoebes, in the tyrant flycatcher family Tyrannidae; they are native to North and South America. // They prefer semi-open or open areas. These birds wait on a perch and then catch insects. Their nest is an open cup sometimes placed on man-made structures.
They often slowly lower and raise their tails while perched.
The full list of species is:
• • •

It's not at all for me, but I can admire, at least somewhat, the ambition—the attempt to do something boldly visual and unconventional. But mostly I just thought "whoa, this is tough for a Tuesday," and, where the theme was concerned ... [shrug]. I googled [home sweet home needlepoint] and none of the results had slate roofs and none (absolutely none) of the houses were three-story. So on a pictorial level, the theme seems to have been forced, just a bit—that is, we get a SLATE ROOF (arbitrary) and a THREE-STORY HOUSE (arbitrary) because those make nice symmetrical little designs in the grid, *not* because they are exactly what one would expect to find on a "HOME SWEET HOME" NEEDLEPOINT (not "cross stitch"?). Further, "HOME / SWEET / HOME" is a "classic song"? If by "classic" you mean "once famous by now nearly totally bygone and erst and onetime," OK. I have no idea what this song is. I have a feeling that it contains the lyric "be it ever so humble, there's no place like home." I figured that was part of some shlocky poem, not a song. I've never heard it sung. If you google [home sweet home song] you get ... well, I think you know what you get:

If the double metal-umlauted Mötley Crüe had been in that clue, I'd be singing a slightly different tune right now. But "classic song" does nothing for me.

Also doing nothing for me: OLD ELI (??) (36A: Yale, affectionately). WFL (?!?!?!?!) (44A: 1974-75 pigskin org.). WtF(L)? What is the "W" for? "Women's"? Nope: World Football League. You're kidding, right? A short-lived nothing of a league from the mid-'70s that I'm only just hearing about just this second despite being an obsessive sports fan as a kid from roughly 1977 on? That's quote poor. Ditto plural ASHTONS and actually-a-plural-name-but-you're-trying-to-disguise-it-as-a-plural-bird PHOEBES. Also, REORG. Also, MEECE. Yuck. Love love love the long Downs, and kind of like FREE PR, even though the expression is actually FREE PRESS. Difficulty today came from most of the above, but also wicked clues on AISLE (35D: Dairy ___) (!?) and CEDILLA (38A: Façade feature). Further, I couldn't remember the exact name of DAMON's buddy, even though I'm pretty sure I played one or the other of those two guys in a school play in elementary school. I think I had PYTHEUS or some such.

And now a brief word about this past weekend's Indie 500 crossword tournament in D.C. It was great fun, as the smaller indie tournaments (like this one and Lollapuzzoola) always are, though both of those are getting increasingly not-so-smaller. Indie 500 had considerably more participants than last year and nearly maxed out the venue (a nice ballroom on the campus of GWU). There was a prom theme, with "couples" responsible for all the puzzles (plus a little prom photo station with balloons where you could take prom pictures). There was also pie. There is always pie at this tourney. Good pie. And, for the winners in various cateogries, tiaras (objects that are both prom- and crossword-appropriate). Roger Barkan won the whole thing (Roger is not to be confused with Howard Barkin, who won ACPT earlier this year). He had a cheering section, which was novel / amazing.

But the big news, of course, is that I won ... the Joon Pahk Award for Worst Handwriting. I now have Worst Handwriting Awards from two different tournaments ... and *still* don't have as many as Joon does (yet another thing he is "better" at than me). But *he* doesn't have a tiara. And I do. So there. Anyway, you can see a gajillion photos from the tournament here (at this Facebook album my wife created). Lots of first-timers there, all of whom seemed to be enjoying themselves. You should consider attending Lollapuzzoola 9 this August, if you are thinking about dipping your toes in the crossword tournament waters. It's a great, warm, fun, friendly place to start.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


George Barany 1:14 AM  

Thanks, @Rex for your SWEET writeup of @Peter Collins' Tuesday puzzle. Moi, away from HOME ... in fact, in Santa Barbara. Sailed right through this, though I had an amusing misstep with DAMON_AND_AFFLECK for 3-Down before righting the ship.

The 2016 primary season comes to a merciful close today, and my friend @Christopher Adams marks the occasion with the larger-than-life California Dreamin'. Enjoy!

Elle54 1:15 AM  

A couple of things: I'm surprised Rex has never heard Home Sweet Home sung! It was often heard in cartoons and they would play it on the loudspeaker at swimming lessons when it was time to get out and go home when I was a kid.
I don't think the WFL is at all obscure, and Im just a mom of boys.
It is Free P.R. As in Public Relations...I know because PR is my husband's job...trying to get news articles written about his clients.
I liked it, but agree it was hard for a Tuesday.

jae 1:29 AM  

Yes, tough for a Tues., partly because I'm still on an iPad, partly because I tend to ignore the cross referencing clues on early week puzzles and just try to solve with out reading them (did not work on this one) and partly because it was just tough...CIS crossing ISERE, ALUMINA, CEDILLA, PHOEBES, DAMON...I could go on...

Sure there are problems when you attempt something like this, but it worked for me, liked it.

Alby 2:46 AM  

I so wanted 3D to be DAMONANDaffleck.

Loren Muse Smith 3:44 AM  

Brilliant grid art. This thing screamed NEEDLEPOINT picture hanging in your living room. Screamed. I think I had only YET and ETHAN in place when I just filled in HOME SWEET HOME. I never thought to go back and scowl at its clue. And the THREE STORY HOUSE under a SLATE ROOF deal… I was so delighted with the visual that I didn't think too hard that it might not be so humble.

My only hiccough was "Queen" before AISLE. CEDILLA went right on in no prob.

Loved the clue "swinger's target at a party." My mind went straight to the gutter, but with that final _ _TA in place, I could only come up with "cheeta." And I guess that wouldn't be accurate anyway.

I liked MEECE, too. This is a conversation I overheard at Georgia Southern between my then Austrian boyfriend and his roommate, Wayne, from Ware County, Georgia:

Friedl: What is the difference between mouse and mice?
Wayne: A mouse is a big brown one and a mice is one of those little white ones.

I swear.

Wayne invited Friedl and me to his home to spend the night and tour the Okefenokee Swamp. I was brought up short when we arrived; his home was a tiny three-room, well, shack almost. Humble doesn't even begin to describe it. I think I slept on a cot behind some kind of sheet hanging from the ceiling. It's all vague now. I remember Wayne's mom made us breakfast – fried a pound of bacon in a cast iron skillet and there was no exhaust fan. The house was thick with bacon smell. And then she fried our eggs in that fat. All the fat - she didn't pour it into the metal bacon fat receptacle with the strainer thingy first like my mom did. The eggs were delicious. I remember that it was a Big Deal that we were visiting and that the day at the swamp was a Big Deal. Friedl and I were treated like royalty, and I was staggered both by the generosity and hospitality and by the utter lack of any kind of self-consciousness regarding their "poverty." I kept remembering that I used get off the bus in Chattanooga two stops past my actual stop because my house was smaller than some of my bus-mates'. To these Ware County people, my childhood home might has well have been a three story house with a slate roof. I felt ashamed of myself and my pretensions the entire weekend.

One of the highlights of the ACPT for me was finally meeting Peter Collins. I had been a little afraid because of all his startling profile pictures on XwordInfo. I thought he'd be irreverent and intimidating, too cool for school. Nope. What a nice guy. Not cool at all. A real socially-awkward dweeb, in fact. Hah! Just kidding, Peter. You da man, and I love your puzzles.

Charles Flaster 3:48 AM  

Agree difficult for Tuesday but learned some things--PHOEBES and ALUMINA.
CrosswordEASE--UTA, RUHR, and T TOP.
Liked theme a lot especially THREE STORY HOUSE.
TENANCY was nicely clued.
Thanks PAC.

No BS 6:52 AM  

When I opened my iPad app this morning the option was "resume " rather than "play" and the puzzle was half done already. How is this possible? Anyone else ever had this experience?

Lewis 7:05 AM  

I think that three story house is adorned with green paint.

What a Tuesday treat! I usually expect a zippy trice that perks me up and gets me going, but today there was some stutter to my step, where the puzzle says, "Not so fast, sonny", and draws me in to a delicious skirmish.

Terrific clues for ASSENT, PINATA, TIE, CEDILLA, and NEEDLEPOINT, and some answers that appealed to me: FREEPR, STOPTHEBLEEDING, and DRENCH. There is a mini-theme of double E's (7), and ACE high, a SWEET caddy-corner to GENTLY. And I like the other mini-theme, LIELOW, which is a down answer, and both LIE and LOW can precede "down".

What puts this on the tougher end of Tuesday are answers such as ISERE, OLDELI, ALUMINA, CEDILLA, PHOEBES, DEFIB, and DAMONANDPYTHIAS. This puzzle, I'm guessing, will keep beginners humble, and will separate the determined from the weak-willed -- a tough-love puzzle, and a good thing every now and then.

Not a "be it ever so humble" offering. A happy surprise and fun solve.

chefbea 7:58 AM  

Agree..dificult for a tuesday DNF
.Use to do a lot of needle point pillows but none said home sweet home. I still have some of my mom's pillows..they don't say home sweet home either

Big story in our paper this morning about the EMU that was caught here in NC

Z 8:24 AM  

Don't Fear the REAPERS

Interesting UTAH clue when crossing Ruhr, given the RUHR Valley's role in WWII. Subtle dig or coincidence? And then there is IDI AMIN and OLD ELI (hard to see much difference between the two 'tho no one ever complains about OLD ELI like they do about Ché or Mao).

A fine puzzle, but I feel like I should be in my rocker while solving a theme like this.

Tita A 8:25 AM  

CEDILLA/TIE were the last entries for me. After our recent accent-laden puzzle, I looked at Façade in the clue and remarked how I didn't realize the NYTimes style guide says to use the diacritic, all while trying to force MandevIllA vine into those squares. (My house has bougainvillea on its façade. Or rather, it would, were I ever to make a (cross stitch) sampler.)

I actually DNFd...the e.g. in 20D did not allow me to consider anything but an abbv.. Overall, a challenging Tuesday.

I really liked the idea, in spite of the minor architectural inaccuracies. Well done, Mr. Collins.

Oh...and the supporting cast of snug, comfy, tenancy, façade...even ETHAN Allen home furnishings, must not be entirely coincidental.
And FREEPR is most definitely the thing.

kitshef 8:50 AM  

Never heard of Patton OSWALT. Glancing at his resume, I'm forced to admit I have seen some of his work.

In Man on the Moon (fantastic movie), he played "blue collar guy". In Failure to Launch (NOT a fantastic movie), he played "techie guy". In a 1994 episode of Seinfeld, he played "video store clerk".

So, that's a sterling career right there.

Oops. I see he also played Roache in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, in a role so minor it does not make the first page of the IMDB Cast page. Another fantastic movie, by the way.

Watch Man on the Moon and Seeking a Friend at your first opportunity. Have a box of tissues on hand.

Went nigh on two months without a DNF, and now two in a four-day stretch. Today it was the CyS/ySERE cross that felled me. I did mentally flip between the y and the I, especially after having to change PSi to PSY moments before, but went with 'first instinct'.

Anyway, it turns out there is an Yser and an Isere, but no Ysere or Iser.

Also, given the clue, PeeweES would have been better than PhoebES.

lg 9:00 AM  

Definitely a challenge for me. Way slower that average. I got half to three quarters of everything before getting bogged down all along the east side of the grid. RODS, REORG, UTA, PIÑATA, CEDILLA...all three me off and took quite a bit of time to crack.

JB 9:19 AM  

Old Eli? Just wrong. Eli refers to students or alums, not the school, at least as far as this increasingly old Eli has ever heard. Nice tough Tuesday.

Roo Monster 9:25 AM  

Hey All !
Was about to lambaste the puz as making no sense, (even after reading Rex, I still didn't see the connection) but @LMS straightened me out! Thanks @Loren! Now it's clear as to just what in tarhooties is going on. So, moved from MT. WTF to Neat!

A while ago, submitted a puz I called Body of Work, which had as themers HEAD, NECK, CHEST, TORSO, (2) ARMs, HIPS, (2) LEGs progressively down the grid in a body shape using circles like in this puz. And they were "hidden" in longer answers. Ex: HIPS was in answer- HAND WHIP SUGAR IN, clued as Cake Direction. That was the one themer that Will said felt too contrived. Not to me...

Anyway, this was a harder than usual TuesPuz, with some odd cluing, like for ASSENT. Funny on the PINATA clue, I was thinking Swingers, as in sexually "open" people! :-) Did like the THREE STORY HOUSE together like it was. I'm a fan of shorter stacks like that. Liked the Down 15's.

Loved seeing MEECE! That's what I used to call my sister when we were growing up! She used to call me Moose! Har. So I went from a Moose to a Roo(Mon)ster!

Gynt stopped standing? PEER SAT

Nancy 9:39 AM  

I agree that this was challenging for a Tuesday; in fact, I found it pretty challenging, period. And I loved, loved, loved the surprise of 24A. I was looking for MOUNTAINSIDE or LAKESIDE or AT THE SHORE or something like that. NEEDLEPOINT wowed me. And the fact that I had SHERi, instead of SHERE at 4D means it took me even longer to see. I mean what in the world is NIE--EPOINT? In fact, I liked that answer so much that I'm willing to forgive the Korean performer, the comedian, and the arcade game. Never heard of PHOEBES either. But I enjoyed the challenge on a Tuesday.

skua76 9:43 AM  

Yes, a bit crunchy. Could NOT come up with CIS...had lEERED for 40D, and didn't see NEEDLEPOINT for the longest time, for example. But fun in the end. And thanks for sharing all of those tournament photos!

Nancy 9:45 AM  

Oops. Just realized, after reading the comments so far, that I DNF. I had WFL/DEBUG/GERT/UEDS instead of WBL/DEFIB/BERT/IEDS. So a big fat Natick for me.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

The World football league was enormous news in the mid 70's. They lured away big stars like Larry Csonka and Paul Warfield from the dynastic Dolphins. Ken Stabler of the mighty Oakland Raiders and even Calvin Hill, he of old Eli provenance (by way of the Cowboys, its true). They all returned to the NFL of course; you can't beat the shield. But the WFL was big news long after it folded owing to its effect on many things from player salaries, stadiums, and TV contracts, to the location of the NFL Pro Bowl ( look it up.
Anyone watching the NFL in 1977 heard plenty about it. Sorry Rex, your memory is simply faulty.

mac 10:07 AM  

Tough Tuesday indeed! Alumina, Phoebes, Bert?

Too many acronyms and prefixes for my taste, but the very au courant cis is a nice touch.

orangeblossomspecial 10:26 AM  

Here's a great version of the title song, 'HOME SWEET HOME' by Deanna Durbin

Stuart Hamblen did a classic about houses: 'This ole house'

Hartley70 10:36 AM  

I was delighted to see one of my little PHOEBE friends make an appearance today. They are the most delightful birds with a flicking tail and their distinctive phee-bee call. Most years they build a nest on top of an exterior alarm horn near our kitchen door. It is of course slippery plastic and quite small so their perch is always precarious. One year after a torrential rainstorm destroyed the nest, I had to take the kids to Wildlife in Crisis for hand rearing. Organizations that assist little critters are staffed by STEs.

I got wowed by this puzzle on a Tuesday. Visuals always please me, but this was outstanding. I really got a kick out of SLATEROOF. Those suckers are heavy and expensive, so this house was made of stone and not at all humble. We had one on the brick portion of our house for about the first 20 years after we bought it, but had to replace it with asphalt when repairs were necessary.

My mind went right to 1950's cartoons when I saw the house picture and HOMESWEETHOME also, and I was expecting the wolf to have trouble blowing this piggy's house down! I wish the wolf had made an appearance today, but that's my only disappointment. This was a great Tuesday!

Carola 10:36 AM  

My reaction was different only in that I thought, "Wow, tough Monday!" (Excuse: jet lag after losing 24 hours in airline travel). What a pleasure to solve, from the surprise of the NEEDLEPOINT setting to the HOUSE with its ROOF to the grid-spanning Downs to the treats of CEDILLA, PHOEBES, DRENCH.... Charming puzzle.

Joseph Michael 10:42 AM  

IDI AMIN and STOP THE BLEEDING makes me wonder just what kind of home this is.

Some impressive construction, but not a house I care to dwell in.

Terry B. 10:56 AM  

This seemed awfully easy for me except for Damon and (I could have sworn it is spelled PITHIUS) but hey . . . Even my spouse, a former diamond buyer, did not know ALUMINA but the crosses were easy-peasy. I'm surprised at the comments about OLDELI, I thought it was a gimme. Anyone else put in LAYLOW instead of LIELOW? BTW, are there THREE STORY HOUSEs anywhere besides San Fran and Pittsburgh?

IDIAMIN may have been a horrible despot, but I guess all those vowels make him IrrEsIstIblE to constructors.

jberg 10:57 AM  

Back home for most of a day before flying to DC tonight, fortunately they brought me the paper. Not sure I'll be back until Monday.

Meanwhile, the little house was fun, I know the song well (even if I can't actually sing it, or anything else), and my main problem was wanting PeeweES before PHOEBES. But the little house was cute.

I've always heard 'free media,' but then I'm not in the business.

the redanman 10:57 AM  

Learnt something new, despite listening to a 48 minute BBC broadcast on satellite radio at 3 a.m. (Driving on I-95 in North Carolina) discussing gender identity in the 21st century.

T'was filled by crosses - had to be right: CISSEXUAL(MS Word spelling doesn't recognise it)? [edited]

Higher on challenge (no errors, no sour grapes), lower on fun. Unfortunately that happens if its a Tuesday trying to be challenging.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 11:11 AM  

Home Sweeet Home was references in The Wizard of Oz, how much more classic can you get? My family sang it around the piano in the '50's, I can still sing the whole thing. Whereas the Motley Crew thing, however misspelled, I listened to it as I started reading this, it ended minute ago, I can't remember a thing about how it went.

It was an odd solve in that I put a lot of unconnected long answers in immediately and then had trouble filling in the short stuff. But fun and not that

Bark 11:38 AM  

HOME SWEET HOME is sung in the great musical "The King and I" just before "Getting to Know You".

KandRFenton 11:46 AM  

I was immensely relieved to come read "challenging" today--I kept thinking, "Either I'm more tired than I thought, or this is tougher than usual!"

Mohair Sam 11:47 AM  

@LMS - Nice story today, wonderful message - thank you.

This one played really tough for us, although we eventually survived. We'll confess to being Rexlike in not recognizing HOME SWEET HOME as a song. We did not know DAMON . . . as clued so we were searching for something like Affleck, what are PHOEBES? Who's UTA? ALUMINA we kinda know, CIS new to us, and I guess we should have known OSWALT (we've enjoyed his work) but we didn't - we were saved up there by old "-ese" favorite ISERE. Did remember the stupid WFL however.

Cruciverbalists can be thankful that when in 1973 Jersey Standard Oil and its partners and subsidiaries gave up their long fight with the Justice Department and dropped the name ESSO in the USA they did not do the same in Canada.

My brother-in-law in the building business will give you a list of reasons longer than your arm to stay away from slate roofs.

Disagree with Rex on MEECE, thought it was a neat entry.

Kimberly 11:56 AM  

There are times, @Rex, when your youth raises its head. If you're too young to have watched Lady and the Tramp or Arsenic and Old Lace or any of the other millions of movies, cartoons, and television shows which have featured this song in the last 100 years, you're just...young, darn it (although I suspect if someone hummed a few bars this song would tickle the furthest recesses of your mind. Try googling "no place like home" instead and you might find Glen Campbell's version). It was also one of the great rallying songs of the civil war. Even though it was writ by a Brit, it truly is an American Classic. Besides, anyone who can pull "Isere" out of their butt shouldn't be put off by "Home sweet home."

One of my little sticking points is that "needlepoint" isn't a setting. The setting is a "sampler." Needlepoint was the method of making it. It would be like calling a sweater a "knitting."

And dang, was thus puzzle hard. I felt dumb as a stump.

Leapfinger 12:09 PM  

Sorry to say, but I suffered some severe PSYchological nondisjunction (it might have been cognitive dissonance) with this PAC-puzzle

On the one hand, there's the COMFY HOME-SWEET-HOME NEEDLEPOINT and the heart-warming DAMON AND PYTHIAS; OTOH there's IDI_AMIN, IEDS and STOP_THE_BLEEDING. Yikes, I'm DRENCHed in Gore! Even the PINATA gets beat on! Jeepers FREEPRs, where'd you get those Grim REAPERS? Thank goodness there's an ER in BERT to help STOP THE BLEEDING...

OTOH, I did like the REORG Stephanopoulos, UTA-UTAH and the PHOEBE FREEbie. Look, that could've been a bOrrin NUThatch... Will assume that @Chaos thought first of the Red-breasted Thrasher.

Also (from Grade 3):
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
OSWALT mah chewing gum.

ISERE a man with soul so dead that never to himself has said: TE NANCY ASSENT ALUMINA THIGHS. I'll bet @NANCY has some juicy details there.

Have to admit I had trouble with the centerpiece: It's on me that, even with SLATE written in, I read it as SLANT ROOF. Because it was. Hot as it's been (pant, pant), 'PEERS I had TROUble thinking of TROU, and looked for a TOEhole in the shoe. I'd've liked the THREE STORY HOUSE to relate to THREE STORies, being as we already have DAMON & PYTHIAS, ETHAN Frome and Cakes & ALE.

The best part, finally, was being reminded of the wonderful embroideries my mother and aunt stitched so long ago, many of which I still have and treasure. And thanks, Sister Suzy, for teaching me cross-stitch and smocking when I was six. I haven't smocked since then.

A good puzzle for the DOH DERing codger crowd, and MAI I say, very nicely PAC-aged.

Masked and Anonymous 12:36 PM  

So far this looks like it's "Feisty Puz Week", at the NYT.

The chain of desperation used in buildin a 3-story home with a slate roof is flat out jaw-droppinly awesome. By the time I got to 40-A, I was willin to bet the circle-slate roof over y'all's head on PEEWITS, as the answer there. But, hey -- all worth it. U get a house that has a neat "+" sign over the door (whoever lives there is thinkin positive). Also, nice wide-ass downspouts on either side, + the house is situated on a kinda pedestal (evidently it is in a flood zone, right along the IDIAMIN ALUMINA River).

fave weeject: UNH. Knew 44-A had to be in {WFL, XFL, AFL}; so … had to wait out the first letter, from LIELOW.
fave word of mystery: CEDILLA. Is that like a big "+" sign over the door? [Post-research nope: It's one of them accent mark dealies. Shoulda remembered that, from another recent NYTPuz.]

Luv the east-west symmetry grid. And the near-record number of the circles. Great long downers ... Got DAMONANDPYTHIAS off the DAMO…? partial. Remembered Ward Cleaver tellin the Beav a moral story about those dudes. Learnt so much, at an impressionable age, from that show.

Decent post-tourney write-up. Looks like OFL wants to go with @Mr.Penmanship. Kinda long-feelin, tho, so … let's just take @IndieWHA out for a spin, for a while …

Thanx, Collins dude.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

worst puzwritin:

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

Tres difficile!

Nebraska doug 12:47 PM  

Not a Tuesday puzzle! I've done Friday puzzles faster than this one.

Sheryl 12:52 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle (and finished it), but found it significantly harder than a typical Tuesday - maybe medium Wednesday level.

I liked all the different levels of the theme. That was entertaining. Cluing was just so-so. No giggles. I enjoy clever cluing.

Masked and Anonymous 12:53 PM  

M&A had gone some fifty-plus years, thinkin it was spelled MEESE, not MEECE. Oughta go sorta like GOOSE-->GEESE, right? That's the trouble with alien word forms, I reckon.

Again, congratz to that Collins dude, for concoctin a puz with such far-out, but fun-to-decode fill. It was "puzzling" … a complimentary title almost as grandiose as W.H.A.



Mike Rees 1:03 PM  

I always thought MEECE was Canadian plural for moose. Maybe that's meese?

ANON B 1:21 PM  

Will someone please explain the reference to
slate roof so that even a dunderhead like me
can understand it.

RAD2626 1:30 PM  

Hand up with those who thought puzzle was just plain hard. But fun. Put HOME SWEET HOME in first so got off to a good start. Unfortunately got overconfident and thought the setting had to be a kitchEn wall since refrigerator did not fit. Got STOP THE BLEEDING next which got rid of the poor kitchen wall. ALUMINA was new to me and guessed at the i in CIS/ISERA although probably should have known one or both.

Always have trouble with Mr. Collins' puzzles, both cluing and answers. But always well constructed, clever and worth the extra effort they take for me.

Teedmn 1:30 PM  

A unique theme for a Tuesday with plenty of texture for all. "A few" writeovers (for SOME) - Edwin MEEsE was briefly a rodent and my ROOF was SLAnting along with @Leapfinger's. It took me until after I finished to see that CEDILLA was not referring to a frieze or pediment (D'OH) and like @LMS, I went all "Ice Storm" when I saw "swingers" in the clue for 34A. The P of UPC saved me there.

Thanks, Peter Collins, for a Tuesday challenge.

ANON B 1:31 PM  

Never mind about the "giant slate roof".
I just figured it out.

Charley 1:38 PM  

More like Thursday or Fruday.

Warren Howie Hughes 1:48 PM  

Rex, You called it "Challenging" for a Tuesday, just as I thought you would! We, the wife and I, certainly found it to be a considerable strain on our brains!

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

Home Sweet Home was easily the most popular song in the US in the 19th century. (That's not hyperbole.) But you're right, if it's written before 1980 it's not worthy of being in a crossword.

Warren Howie Hughes 1:55 PM  

Leapy Love, Almost as nicely PAC-aged as were Marky Mark's Calvin Klein billboard ads, back in the day? ;-)

Doc John 1:57 PM  

Anonymous already mentioned it but I will never forgive the stupid WFL for ruining my beloved Dolphins. Surely they would have gone to more Super Bowls had that mistake not happened.
As an interesting aside, I don't give a crap about any professional sports anymore. That light came on when I realized that Dan Marino couldn't care less if I had a bad day.

Crossword newbie 2:38 PM  

I always end up on the other side of the challenging versus easy discussion. When I find a puzzle to be impossibly difficult, Rex finds the puzzle to be easy. In the same way, when I find a puzzle to be easy, Rex thinks it's difficult.
As far as the WF L goes, I only knew it because of a program I recently watched about Trump's business failures.

Wm. C. 2:41 PM  

Yep, uncommonly difficult for a Tuesday. Felt like Thursday or even Friday to me.

One thing I had no problem with was ISERE off the RE. Didn't specifically know it as a river (though this was inferable for me), or even less that it went into the Rhone (sorry, don't know how do the diacritical O on Rhone). When we lived in France we had several skiing vacations at a friend's chalet in the Val d'Isere. Very lovely spot!

Chaos344 3:10 PM  

Late to the board here,but actually held off so I could read some of the early comments first.

ARRGH! Rex is grumpy again! Refuses to embrace knowledge for all things prior to 1950? Doesn't consider HOME SWEET HOME a classic? Does he consider MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME a classic? Same genre, same era. They sing it every year at the Kentucky Derby! Rex says he's a sports guy, but doesn't remember the WFL? Does he remember the AFL? That wasn't around much longer!

Great puzzle! Solve time was actually only about 3 minutes slower than a normal Tuesday. I purposely made a mental note not to pay any attention to the theme or theme clues. I ran through the across clues first,and didn't have much filled in for a typical Tuesday. Yet the little bit I had to go on turned out to be plenty for the down answers, which I though were much easier. Had no initial guess at 3D, but nailed 11D with only 4 letters in place. I thought that there were only 3 or 4 down answers that might present problems to even an average solver? By the time I had run the D clues, the theme answers were filled in enough to see the theme. Clean up took another few minutes.

Lets take a look at a couple of the WOE's mention so far:

CIS: Get used to it people! If it had two vowels instead of two consonants, it would stand a very good chance of replacing ENO (Brian) as the "go to" three letter fill in crosswords for the next 20 years!

Enter "types of genders" in your search engine box, and you will be amazed at what you find! The initials LGBT are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the issue of defining one's sexual "identity." According to the people who make the definitive judgement on such things,(and God forbid we should question their authority to do so) there are currently 51 different varieties! I'm sure they have Baskin & Robbins directly in their sights? All they need are a few more "special snowflakes" who want to invoke special status for a particular gender identity. Those individuals could demand victimhood "privilege" against anything they perceive as a microaggression! See where I'm going here?

Yeah, there were several toughies like maybe ALUMINA,CEDILLA,(Which should have been fresh in everyone's mind)PHOEBES,etc; but the crosses were easy. Having said that, I had to get 54A totally from the crosses.

Lets look at ISERE: Crosswordese 101 people! A European river with five letters and three vowels, two of which repeat. If it had been a four letter word it might have been YSER. Learn that one too!

Loved the clue for PINATA! I fired in COUPLE but that disappeared as soon as I started the D clues.


Aketi 3:55 PM  

What a nIce nostalgia fest. Long before Martha Stewart, my Mom and my Aunt sewed dresses and crocheted and knitted sweaters, scarves, and booties. They NEEDLEPOINTed samplers for wall hangings, toilet seat covers, Christmas stockings and door knobs. Sometimes they used beads and sequins deviating from the more classic cross stitching. They used glue guns to stick dried pasta to styrrofoam and spray painted their creations with gold paint. In fact, they spray painted lots of object found in nature and in fear markets. They wallpapered the walls and continued onto to wallpapering furniture. They also did crossword puzzles, consulting with my grandmother over the phone in the process of solving them. I'm sure this puzzle would have delighted them all.

As for the THREE STORY SLATE ROOFed HOUSE, I noticed one wall is an abbreviation for a hormone and the other wall a body part.

Chaos344 4:07 PM  

@Leapy: Easily the best post of the spring, and probably in the running for best post of the year! There was some "wordplay" in there that went right over my head, and I've been reading your prose for 10 years! I know the poem, but I'm salivating to know the hidden meaning of "TE NANCY ASSENT ALUMINA THIGHS." But, only if it wouldn't embarrass Nancy!

No one can hold a candle to you when you put your mind to it Leapy! You can even conjure up The Bard Of Quincy! Who else could entice the "Quintessential Quipster" from his lair? Do you use a "familiar" like
Kim Novak in Bell,Book And Candle? Does Pyewacket's offspring get you through to Owie?

The Thrashers have already arrived here, but I'm gratified to know that you'll always associate them with me. I thought you might have seen some earlier? Thought PEEWEES before PHOEBES. Funny how Anne Murray sung of Snowbirds but not PHOEBE SNOW?

Steve Reed 4:13 PM  

Patton Oswalt is actually quite a famous stand-up comedian who also had important roles in well-received independent movies (big fan, young adult), had amazing roles in King of Queens and justified, and voiced the title character in Ratatouille. He's been in a million things. You should get to know him better. Watch "the original comedians of comedy" as a start.

John V 4:22 PM  

DNF. 3D and 5D were awful. PSY? Truly? CIS gender is a thing, according to Google, but news to me. Not Tuesday bait. IMHO, Peter Collins is usually much more fun. This might have been a Thursday or on the cutting room floor.

Bah, says the cranky senior solver.

puzzle hoarder 4:28 PM  

For awhile I thought someone had dropped the week's puzzles and picked them up in the wrong order. This played more like a challenging Thursday for me. I didn't help myself with write overs like TIGHT for COMFY supported by GERBS for MEECE. The ese this constructor was forced to use really kept things moving. UTA is a classic. The same is true for CIS when stripped of it's new definition. That was an example of debut cluing we just had about two weeks ago. It's a little surprising that some people have already forgotten it. The definition seems tailor made for the NYT. There's a PC term for everything and everything under it's PC term.
Another slow down was using my Kindle. Besides from slowing me down online solving will tell me when I've finished and When I rely on it feels like a dnf. I'm not familiar with PYTHIAS or PSY. By the time I put in P after M,C, and N I may as well have googled the answer. Speaking of googling I have to go look up who DAMON AND PYTHIAS are.

Charles Flaster 4:29 PM  

Great story!!

Music Man 6:46 PM  

I believe you should've said batter at than "I" :)

This puzzle played way hard for me, I had about 10 squares left when I started revealed it answers left and right. My k-4 students just sang God Bless America as a finale for a USS themed concert, so I thought that's what it was referring to until I reread the clue. Interesting puzzle I must say

Z 7:27 PM  

@Chaos344 - Only 51? Leave it to Facebook to muck it up. Think of gender as like religion, intensely personal, even within the big "denominations" and "faiths" there are lots of variation in practice, and the best determinant of which "faith" one is in is what one says they are in. And, as in religion, those in minor sects have every right to believe what they believe despite whatever misguided attempts the major faiths might make to "convert" them. If anyone has a hankering for science fiction takes on the issue I recommend Triton by Samuel R. Delaney and the much more recent Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. Both are far better reading than wading through Moby Dick and trying to make sense of what is really going on on that ship (Pip? Seriously?) while neither is anywhere near as preachy.

Virginia 12:06 AM  

@NoBS at 6:52 a.m. wrote:
>When I opened my iPad app this morning the option was "resume " rather than "play" and the puzzle was half done already.
>How is this possible? Anyone else ever had this experience?

and the answer is, YES! This exact thing happened to me when I came back to the Crossword app after not playing for a year. The issue turned out to be that my own subscription to the Crossword app had lapsed, but I share my husband's NYT subscription for reading the newspaper on Safari and Chrome. Somehow my iPad decided to log my Crossword app into his account. It took some messing around -- I think I logged out of my Crossword app, then resubscribed via the App Store, then logged back in as myself -- but it hasn't happened since.

Hope this is helpful -- let us know if you solve the mystery!

--Virginia, who enjoyed the puzzle despite the fact that HOME SWEET HOME samplers are almost always done in cross stitch, not NEEDLEPOINT.

Hartley70 2:11 AM  

I second how great he was in "Justified."

Karlo Kitanovski 1:43 PM  

If you didn't partially solve the puzzle prior to closing the app the last time, someone else did. As long as your Apple ID was logged on, the puzzle will start where it was left off, even on other devices. I go from iPhone to iPad and then to my laptop all the time and it remembers where I left off.

As far as handwriting goes Rex, I believe mine is worse. Most of the time I can't read it upon returning to a writing. Well done though!

I agree on the challenging designation. This one took me a long time - much greater than my average. I can't brag about the numbers like you but they improve all the time (except this puzzle tanked my average). DAMON and who? I was very pleased when I got piñata. Cedilla? I learn something new everyday. Nice puzzle though.

christine georgenson 11:40 AM  

Anyone who took piano lessons in the last 5 decades would have played Home Sweet Home.

leftcoastTAM 2:01 PM  

Clever and challenging, almost Thursday or even Friday worthy. Certainly good enough to break the no repeat words rule (HOME_SWEET_HOME).

Liked the long downs, with crosses needed to get them. The UNH misdirect was a pauser, and who knew PSY is Korean? Not I. PHOEBES was new to me too. Dairy AISLE left me a bit cold.

Good having a lesson about diacritical and other marks like the CEDILLA in a recent NYT puzzle. (But I can't at the moment summon up the name of the wavy mark that goes above the N in PENATA.)

Some satisfying "aha" moments. I'm happy with this one.

Burma Shave 3:08 PM  


With their ASSENT EYELET in STRAYS who roam


spacecraft 3:39 PM  

I finally agree with an OFL rating (except for the "under 5" part), for all his reasons plus that Korean guy, all three of whose letters going in on crosses. At first, with -LATE slanting up the left, I thought it was PLATE (goes with "home," right?), but when I got enough of 3-down to recognize DAMONANDPYTHIAS I was pretty sure our "monster hit" performer wasn't PPY. As OFL said, AISLE was a bear to get but nothing else made sense. PSY is at least as believable as PPY, but who knew? Glad I don't have to name that "monster hit;" I haven't the foggiest. More, I don't care.

DOD is PHOEBE Cates, she of the dreamy pool exit in "Fast Times," resulting in the classic question "Doesn't anybody ever knock?"

Blogs will be late or absent for the next week; more family visiting. They'll also be apt to be short. Par.

Tom Morehouse 4:16 PM  

PINATA and tilde, of course.

Diana,LIW 4:47 PM  

There was a gorilla whose name was CEDILLA - and she's back!

@Lefty - the tilde? And dairy AISLE was green paintish.

A very satisfying solve. I always find PAC puzzles to be tough and doable. I only had one tiny error - CoS instead of CIS - obviously I need to study up on my German rivers and tributaries.

As ever, Rex cracks me up with his "never heard of this song." It's only been in hundreds of cartoons and many movies. Like the little-heard-of Wizard of Oz. Anna and the King. It is THE anthem of homesickness. Like the unknown Nova (lox) it's right under your nose. Just like your upper lip.

Had Uma for UTA for the longest time. Always get them mixed up. DOH! Finally realized that 20/20 was a TIE and not an eye exam measure.

I lived in a three-story house in Philadelphia. It was called a trinity, or Father, Son, and Holy Ghost house, as it had one room on each floor. (With an itty bitty kitchen and bathroom tucked into clever corners.) It was on a narrow cobblestone alley off of another alley. Quintessentially quaint. And quiet. In the heart of center city.

I knew BS would latch onto those THIGHS.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 5:23 PM  

OTOE OTOH UTAH UTA, TTOP TSHIRT, DOH! Having said that, this puz didn’t seem to take any longer than “usual” for me. Whatever that is.

Mr. Jinks would say, ”I hate you MEECEs to pieces.” To Pixie and Dixie as I recall.

The old saw on the golf course is that if MEN don’t hit it past the forward (ladies’) tees, you must drop TROU. If your course doesn't require a collared shirt, that could leave you in only your TSHIRT.

I don’t see any w/o in my grid so it couldn’t have been too tough, except DAMONANDPYTHIAS had to come by crosses. Better than many a Tues-puz.

rondo 7:58 PM  

@spacey if you see this, PSY performed Gangnam Style

BS2 8:17 PM  


PHOEBE'S NITE HAD been well spent,
she HAD BERT and ETHAN for just ASSENT.


Anonymous 10:02 PM  

Doesn't anyone care that a house with three levels is properly called a three STOREY house??

leftcoastTAM 12:51 AM  

@Anonymous 10:02--Check your Merriam-Webster or other authoritative source for "story" or "storey."

kathy of the tower 1:41 AM  

I had to laugh when M&A mentioned Leave it to Beaver. I got DAMONANDPYTHIAS right away, because I remembered it from that show.

I cross stitch, needlepoint and quilt, but I've never done HOME SWEET HOME. I think of those hobbies as my therapy, though I suspect Valium would be cheaper.

I enjoyed the puzzle, it went fairly quickly.

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