Dame Myra of piano fame / TUE 5-22-18 / Compound in synthetic rubber / Constellation next to Draco / Sheik's land in poetry / drain decloggers

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Constructor: Jeff Stillman

Relative difficulty: Medium, sliding toward Medium-Challenging (*for a Tuesday*) (3:58)

THEME: BIG DIPPER (9D: Part of 17-Across ... and what the circles from A to G depict) — themers related to big dipper and connect-the-dots gives you a kind of replica of said dipper:

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Constellation next to Draco (URSA MAJOR)
  • 34D: Thing located in the night sky by extending a line from circle F past circle G (NORTH STAR)
  • 64A: Another term for 17-Across (GREAT BEAR)

Word of the Day: RONDEL (47D: 14-line verse with only two rhyme sounds) —
rondel is a verse form originating in French lyrical poetry of the 14th century. It was later used in the verse of other languages as well, such as English and Romanian. It is a variation of the rondeau consisting of two quatrains followed by a quintet (13 lines total) or a sestet (14 lines total). It is not to be confused with the roundel, a similar verse form with repeating refrain.
• • •

OOF. The theme would've been OK, I guess—it's got issues, which I'll get into, but it does what it does and some people like drawing on their puzzles, so, whatever, fine—but when you throw in the fill, this one just slides down enjoyment mountain into the valley of OOF. Let's start with the theme. It's all over the (star) map. It's main purpose seems to be to create a connect-the-dots puzzle that allows us / forces us to envision the BIG DIPPER. But the revealer is in this weird place, and it's clued as *part* of some bigger constellation, which is in the puzzle ... twice (once in Latin, once in an English form that no one ever uses). And then there's NORTH STAR ... which is also called Polaris, but you don't see that here. Also, Polaris is not in the BIG DIPPER or anywhere in URSA MAJOR (it's in the minor bear). So it's conceptually interesting, somewhat ambitious, but rough. And then the fill, come on, can we get this stuff cleaned up. Editors should be sending MTW puzzles with fill like this back to constructors with a "please improve this" message. You know at ARABY that things aren't gonna be great. And then bang there you are with all of ESO BESO which causes you to pause for a stunned second ORSO (!) like some kind of DODO. But OOF, EENY EMO NEG ANOD (!?), ASEA TERI LAO INURE ELON ENOLA (sans gay) SERE ILSA LYES *and* RYES (rhyming unlikely plurals!) ... and that's not even touching the longer unpleasantness BUTENE and RONDEL. This thing is Out of the Past, except "Out of the Past" is one of the greatest movies of all time, so scratch that. It's just stale.

I don't really stop to read and figure out long cross-referenced clues if I don't have to, and I'm certainly not consulting circles unless absolutely necessary, but the theme answers were pretty gettable without much time spent mucking around trying to figure out the exact relationship of the stars in space. Difficulty came from fill. In and around BUTENE, in and around RONDEL—that was all my puzzle drama. Didn't know if it was gonna be ENURE or INURE (16A: Habituate) and stupidly (and mostly inexplicably) wrote in PADUA for 9A: Noted tower setting (BABEL). I was probably thinking PISA, but there were five letters, so ... PADUA! Had trouble with ON DOPE because ... what year is it? Also DODO because DOLT DOPE etc. (36D: Numbskull). And there's ORBIS, dear lord, why? It's Tuesday. What does the "?" in the clue even mean? Is "Caesar's world?" some kind of expression? A pun? ORBIS ... honestly, that answer alone should've prompted a rewrite request. Really hope you know Latin or else are *certain* about the whole ILSA / ELSA thing (which I still botch like half the time ... including today). Do better, puzzle!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


dennis ladnier 12:03 AM  

Yep - felt like a Wednesday and a half and not a Tuesday

TomAz 12:33 AM  

I did this in 2.51 Rexes. Hard for a Tuesday. Much of what Rex objected to was ok (sorta) but ORBIS, ESO BESO, blech.

RYDER quit renting trucks in the consumer market a while back (20 years ago according to wikipedia!). They sold the whole lot to Budget, I think, and Ryder limits itself to professional trucking. So not really a "U-Haul alternative". "In June 1998, Ryder decided to focus on commercial truck rental and leasing, and exited the "one-way" business arena; which it sold to Budget Truck Rental."

puzzlehoarder 12:41 AM  

I was hoping the review wasn't up yet. I'm not quite as sleepy as last night but close. This one is in keeping with the ramped up difficulty of yesterday.

It was mostly due to little glitches. I misread the CLUE clue as a cross reference rather than a self reference.

On the BABEL clue I was thinking of modern cities. I'm not sure how to spell ARABY. The only reason I knew GODDESS needed two Ds was because something had to go in that middle square.

BUTENE? I had a NOOSE/LASSO write over. Given half a chance I'd spell LASSO with one S. ORBIS needed some crosses. HESS was all crosses. TREATY went right in but I struck out on the clues for 46D and 47D. I didn't attempt to spell 48D so I back filled the SW from the bottom.

All these little problems added up to a Wednesday time. Why all the TMI? Probably boredom.

JC66 12:42 AM  

I don't always agree with @Rex, but I sure do today. This puzzle was sub-prime.

Anonymous 12:55 AM  

I don't know why Rex doesn't like the NORTHSTAR clue. The last two stars of the BIGDIPPER point at it exactly as the puzzle says. That's how I've always found it. Otherwise I found the comments on point.

Larry Gilstrap 1:01 AM  

Agree with OFL that the quality of some of the fill was less than stellar. I've at least seen the word RONDEL, but BUTENE and rubber and I'm thirteen years old again. That ORBIS/ILSA cross makes me feel stupider, even though we will always have Paris.

Hey, I dig the night sky and spend much of my year in a designated IDA (International Dark-Sky Association) community. As featured in the puzzle, a line extended from the cutting edge of the Big Dipper sorta points to Polaris, the NORTH STAR. In this puzzle that line points to Will Shortz, but why not? In the desert, it becomes obvious that the star pattern of the cosmos seems to rotate around the ever-fixed mark from Sonnet 119, which is not a RONDEL, rather Shakespearean.

The language barrier created at BABEL is a curse. Exhibit A: a bunch of tourists crowded around a ticket booth in Italy trying to determine why the trains are not running. On the other hand, I love to hear the Spanish greeting of choice in our town, HOLA! Sweet and simple.

Clark 1:13 AM  

I wasn't liking this puzzle so much, but I figured the constellation next to Draco, while it could have been a lot of things, was probably URSA M _ _ OR. Then when I saw what the circles were going to be, my star gazer self smiled and got on board.

Draco, Polaris, the bears, the dippers, the north star. Nice.

Fill Schmill.

JOHN X 1:37 AM  

This puzzle was great!

The theme was awesome and I used it three ways to solve across the grid. All the theme elements complement each other perfectly. And the clue for NORTHSTAR is exactly how you're taught to find it, by looking down off the end of the BIGDIPPER.

Everyone should learn basic celestial orienteering using the NORTHSTAR (aka Polaris or the Navigation Star). Using just your fist at the end of your outstretched arm you can easily determine your latitude and compass direction. Works on land or sea, and in the air too. No electricity needed.

There's nothing to complain about here.

Harryp 2:01 AM  

Some very un-Teusday words, ORBIS, BUTENE, but not a hard solve. Got ODONNELL from the crosses. 2.93 Rexes.

chefwen 2:43 AM  

A tad bit tough for a Tuesday, but as Martha Stewart would say “It’s a good thing”.

Love drawing on my puzzle and circles are always fun (for me). Every time I see circles appear I envision @Nancy grimacing.

DOLT before DODO got me again, easy fix one I figured out TTP didn’t mean much of anything.

Loren Muse Smith 3:40 AM  

I never mind drawing on my grid, but I’d rather have some wordplay. Hey, but I learned something: how to find the NORTH STAR. My problem is that I don’t even know how to find the BIG DIPPER. Stars just never floated my boat (sorry, @Clark). Other things I should enjoy looking at but just don’t – birds (sorry, Gareth Bain), plants (sorry, Tracy Gray), and abstract paintings. OTOH, I stood transfixed this weekend when I saw a huge black snake next to my house. I could never be a birder, but I sure could be a snaker. Or a spiderer.

I had a dnf ‘cause I forgot to go back and guess the HESS/SEGEL cross. Honestly, I hadn’t been considering the S. Dumb.

Liked GAL crossing LASS.

And, yeah, ARABY was a woe. I would’ve thought arabie or arabe would be more poetrysome.

@Larry – “stellar” – good one! Also – I kept going back and reading your sentence, “… and spend much of my year in a designated IDA (International Dark-Sky Association) community.” Do what? International Dark-Sky Association. Hmm. What do y’all do? This is very interesting. I watched a documentary on why we’re scared of the dark and learned the term Bortle scale. Do you live in a place with a really high Bortle scale rating?

Possible headline: TWEETS SCORNED O’DONNELL.

Jeff – I got a kick out of DOJO DODO sharing the grid. I had this honor back in grad school when I decided learning Shotokan karate would be cool. I. Stank.

Evan Jordan 5:55 AM  

When a Monday puzzle and Saturday puzzle from 1978 love each other very much...

BarbieBarbie 6:25 AM  

@LMS, google on something like “New Yorker cartoon Matisse pollack” to see a great joke about abstract art. Might help to know that Pollack put his canvas on the floor and then painted a solid object above the painting to create its outline in splotches.

Most people who do look at stars wouldn’t bother searching for the Big Dipper, because it jumps out at you like Orion’s Belt. OTOH you have to find the NORTHSTAR somehow, and that’s how, or anyway how to verify. I have no clue how people who “aren’t interested in stars” know where North is. And yes, @Rex, you ethnocentric rascal, more than one culture in less light-polluted times or places sees the GREATBEAR instead, and it’s bigger.

Fun puzzle. Many Rex-units for me, mostly because I misspelled ILSA.

My pleasure in yesterday’s Gorskipuzz in the NYer is dimmed today because I followed Deb Amlen’s link to another which turned out to have a lot of overlap. Five year separation, so no mud, just bummed.

'merican in Paris 6:25 AM  

OOF is right! I did this one on paper (Mrs. 'mericans took the iPad with her this week), and I think I was already at 10 Rexes when I finally gave up.

Got as far as AR_AN (32A), and ES_BE_O (20A), didn't get the hint at 23A ("Part of a gig"), which now that I see it is, IMO, too clever by half, as I can only imagine that "gig" is a slang term used by techies for a gigaBYTE. Also Naticked at the HES_-_EGAL crossing. And, having never watch "The View", and having entered SCOffED for 60A, I failed totally in that corner.

Like many others, I too wanted a modern location for 9A, and wondered at one point whether the answer might be eifEL.

Other grumbles: I don't understand 19A: I would never say "GOT AT" for "subtly suggested". And although I can imagine ordering several RYES (as a drink), I would say "I'd like two loaves of RYE bread", not "RYES". And LYES for drain decloggers? No.

OTOH, I did like the theme ... very much. Once I got far enough to see what was going on, I found all of those answers easy. I'm not sure I understand @Rex's complaint about NORTH STAR. The clue for 34D is "Thing located in the night sky by extending a line from circle F past circle G", which indeed how to locate Polaris. Stellar, indeed, @Larry.

Lewis 6:32 AM  

I liked the bite of the puzzle, and where wordplay is one of my great sources of puzzle joy, I like having themes not based on it every once in a while. I like the mini theme of words ending in o (9!) and a very mini theme in row 8 of words that contain the letters L, A, and O. And I like how this puzzle flung me back to my childhood brain, what it felt like when I would stare at the night-time sky with fascination.

HESS/SEGAL was a Natick for me; I think it would have been better if that crossing S was an H. But overall, the constellation of things to like in this puzzle easily won me over. Thank you, Jeff!

Hungry Mother 7:00 AM  

Sweated a bit over this one. Overthought GREATBEAR and always have a problem with INURE.

Alix F 7:08 AM  

My friends in West Africa call Ursa Major “The Camel”.

Alix F 7:13 AM  

And the Milky Way, which points more or less north in the dry season, is The Road to Azawak (a pasture region used then).

kitshef 7:31 AM  

Utterly, totally disagree with Rex today. The theme was first rate and the fill was just fine. I have no idea why he would pick this puzzle to savage.

Bikini before SPEEDO slowed me down in the East, but my bigger problem was happily putting in 'thE plough' instead of GREAT BEAR. Entirely on me … the plough is the equivalent to 9D, not 17A.

Definitely feel like LEO is a bug not a bonus today.

The ‘B’ at DISOBEYS/BYTE should have been a double-B rebus, given that there are two stars there.

kitshef 7:32 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith - nice reverse-DOOK avatar. Do we have a word for reverse DOOKs?

Anonymous 8:04 AM  

@LMS - have you ever learned spider sniffing? You go out at night - indoors or out, just as long as it's dark - with a flashlight. Press the back of the flashlight right between your eyes so it shines out from right there. You will see lots and lots of tiny jewels shining in the light, green, ruby red, blue, purple. Every jewel is the light of your flashlight reflected back from the eyes of a spider.

Birchbark 8:22 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap (1:01) -- I read Sonnet 119 ("What potions have I drunk of Siren tears") and am wondering if it's what you meant to reference? No orbs in sight, and in their place anxious musings over good and ill.

@John X (1:37) -- I like your suggestion for what sounds like a human astrolabe of sorts and will try it. In return: how to use cricket chirps to determine the exact temperature (Fahrenheit): count the number of chirps over a 15-second interval, and add 37. If it chirps 10 times, for example, the temperature is 47 degrees F. More accurate than an analog thermometer, especially when temperatures are changing rapidly.

SJ Austin 8:28 AM  

More than twice my average time for a Tuesday.

I often don't get the point of themes until after I have finished puzzles, but this one? I'm not sure I get it even now. Super convoluted if you ask me. And apparently ambitious enough so as to make the fill subpar.

Drop-In 8:32 AM  

Anybody notice the circles are in order ABCDEFG?
Wouldn't help you solve and I wonder why they are there.

QuasiMojo 8:40 AM  

Since I still listen to Ethel Merman singing "I'm the Shiek of Araby" I had no problem with that bit of fill today. In fact I liked it. Not so much "A NOD." Am I alone in thinking that random fill-in-the-blank clueing is unexpected in a puzzle that is supposed to be the best in the country? We're getting a lot more of these questionable answers beginning with the word A. Come up with something better guys (and GALs.)

Growing up I preferred movie stars to those in the sky. I think it was MGM that coined the phrase "More stars than there are in heaven." Give me Ava Gardner (GODDESS); Conrad Veidt (ARYAN), although he was actually Jewish; Winona (RYDER); Aldo (RAY); (LEO) J. Carroll; and of course Ingrid Bergman (ILSA). C'mon Rex, ILSA is in the puzzle every other day. The character's original name in the play on which Casablanca is based was LOIS.

kitshef 8:43 AM  

Sonnet 116 (I figure 119 was a typo):

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Space-X, the View, "I Love You, Man" all seem current enough.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

I actually agree with many of Rex's criticisms today, but I draw the line at:

Really hope you know Latin or else are *certain* about the whole ILSA / ELSA thing (which I still botch like half the time ... including today). Do better, puzzle!

I don't think a constructor should have to build their puzzle around your lack of knowledge on one of the most famous movie characters of all time. It's way OK to have a blindspot like that, just don't expect a constructor to somehow anticipate that and defer to your ignorance.

Z 9:14 AM  

Not all puzzles are written for me, this is one of them, and that's fine. Yet, I don't know much about stars, but I know all this stuff so it struck me as Astronomy 101, or maybe even Remedial Astronomy. I'm with Rex on the fill. IDES? Crossing EMO and SERGE? Definitely a harbinger. At least LEO is star-based and not pope-based today. A theme that didn't thrill me with fill that felt musty and esey. Pretty meh here.

Speaking of EMO, anyone else read Sonnet 116 with either Dashboard Confessional or Coheed and Cambria as musical artist? Shakespeare: the original EMO artist.

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

Teri and Elon are no good now? When did they get on the list?


GILL I. 9:20 AM  

I love stars. My brother was really into them. He taught me how to look for the BIG DIPPER and all kids of interesting things which I've forgotten. What I do remember was that he managed to find a black sheet of some kind - probably made of BUTENE. He draped it over the ceiling lights. He had made pin-holes perfectly aligned with the shape of Orion. The ceiling light was next to his bed and he would flick the light on and off all night long. You know, getting the twinkling effect. Did I mention he was a musician?
This was just fine. Except I still do't know why ORBIS is Caesar's world? What did I miss.
CHE crossing HOLA. Except I'm pretty sure he never once said HOLA to anybody. More like "te voy a matar, cabron.....My thought for the day!
Oh...If you're ever in Tahoe in the winter, find some spot in the mountains - late at night - and peek up into the sky. It's truly magical. I've never seen anything like it. Made me believe in Santa Claus.

Nancy 9:32 AM  

Didn't connect any dots. Knew Rex would do it for me. And if he hadn't, that would have been all right too.

Okay Tuesday fill, with unimaginative on-the-nose cluing. Nothing especially challenging, except for maybe BUTENE. My one nit: I thought "Took the cake" was going to be ATE. WON????In what kind of contest do you win a cake? You get a prize or a ribbon or a trophy or a big check. Maybe if you win a baking contest? I don't know; I've never entered a baking contest. The only time I've heard the expression "takes the cake" is as a put-down of a really boneheaded idea or statement: "That really takes the cake!" Other than that, no complaints.

Mohair Sam 9:34 AM  

@Rex blows the opportunity to link Bill Deal and the RhONDELs. Sheesh.

I'm with @Z and @Loren - don't know a thing about the stars, so I missed the fun. In about fourth grade we were taught the constellations. I looked up that evening and couldn't put them together - you've kinda gotta ignore a lot of other stars to make those things work. But that's on me. Everything filled fairly enough so no complaints

@BarbieBarbie - Liked the Gorski puzzle too, but got defeated by the PP fest in the NE.

Pete 9:37 AM  

As flawed as I found the puzzle, I was truly POed about URSA MAJOR / GREAT BEAR - Same name, different language. They couldn't have had Odin's Wagon (or Helleswagen) (I know, letter count, but it's just an example) as a substitute for one of the bears? Other cultures have their own names for the constellations, why not do some digging instead of using just one in two languages?

Dad 9:40 AM  

This puzzle sucks, I'm not angry at the difficulty level but the obscurity of some of these answers is hrbl (in my best Charles Barkley voice), if these answers showed up in a Sat I'd still be like WTF!?

David Retford 9:43 AM  

Can someone explain “orbis”? Sorry if I missed it above.

Nancy 9:54 AM  

I was going to beg you, @GILL, to always add a translation for us non-Spanish speaking people whenever you include a Spanish phrase in your comment. But when I made the effort and went to Google to look up "te voy a matar, cabron", I see why you didn't in this instance. The surprise is delicious.

@Quasi -- No doubt about it. ILSA is a great improvement over LOIS. Just as Scarlet is a great improvement over Pansy. And what was Atticus's name originally?

Bark 10:16 AM  

“Orbis Latinus” is a Latin phrase for the ancient “Latin world” , a Latin synonym is “Romanus”. The earth is “Orbis terrarum”.

Whatsername 10:30 AM  

A perfectly fine Tuesday with a fun theme. I did think 35 across ( hopped up/ ON DOPE) was weird. As Rex mentioned, that’s a pretty antiquated term, and I’ve never heard anyone use the expression “hopped up” to imply getting high. My only real complaint though is 57 down/ORBIS. Even after referring to google and Wikipedia, I still don’t know how it relates to Caesar.

kitshef 10:32 AM  


This may be too rural or southern for you, but there is a type of contest called a 'cakewalk', in which the winners receive a cake. It's popular at county fairs and such, and is basically a form of musical chairs.

Amelia 10:36 AM  

Myra Hess was famous for playing at the National Gallery for the masses during WW2. It had been emptied of paintings for their safekeeping and she played weekly, I think.

Actually looked it up. All concert halls were blacked out at night. So she organized 2000 lunchtime concerts over 6 years. "Hess began her lunchtime concerts a few weeks after the start of the Second World War. They were presented on Monday to Friday, for six-and-a-half years without fail. If London was being bombed, the concert was moved to a smaller, safer room. Every artist was paid five guineas no matter who they were. In all, Hess presented 1,968 concerts seen by 824,152 people. Hess's lunchtime concerts influenced the formation of the City Music Society."

I know all this because it made a great impression on an entire generation, and there is no book written during or about this period that doesn't mention it.

That said, the fill was awful, as Rex deems. He's absolutely right.

Darryll 10:54 AM  

@Nancy - You can take kitshef's reference, or like actually look up the phrase "take the cake".

Oh wait, I did it for you:

take the cake. ... Originally, to take the cake meant to win a prize or a competition — people as far back as the ancient Greeks used the word cake to mean "a symbolic prize." Over time, it grew to have a more negative, sarcastic meaning in English: "I can't believe this mess. It just takes the cake."
take the cake - Dictionary Definition : Vocabulary.com

Darryll's Law:

Life's ever so much nicer, easier - flat out better for all concerned if when you're presented with an idea you think is wrong you take the time to see how it may be right rather than railing about how it's wrong.

Suzie Q 11:05 AM  

Thanks @Amelia for the Dame Myra info. I had no idea. The only Dame that came to me straight off was Dame Edna!
I liked the misdirect of gig for byte. Of course I was thinking of a musical gig.
I learned butene, rondel, and some finer points of Latin to keep me on my toes. That along with some star-gazing made for a better-than-usual Tuesday.
Is there some hidden agenda to having the circle letters in alphabetical order? I don't see one.

old timer 11:36 AM  

I went camping for six weeks the summer I was seven, and my favorite cousin was in my cabin, so I was not lonely. There, or maybe even earlier, I learned about the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, the pointer stars in the Big, and the fact that the end of the handle or tail of the Little Dipper was the North Star.

The highlight of the session was camping out on an island in the lake -- one night only, at least for we littlest campers. I still have a strong memory of laying awake most of the night looking up at the stars, and seeing how the entire sky was rotating slowly around Polaris. Back home in LA, we could not see half the stars in the sky, but at the lake, we could see them all. The memory has lasted all my life. So this puzzle was not much of a puzzle at all, for me. I had a far faster time than yesterday, that's for sure.

Malsdemare 11:38 AM  

I ended up over 4 rexes because of the iLSA/ELSA confusion. I wanted DOpe instead of DODO, but knew that couldn't be right, what with ONDOPE right there. The S in the HESS /SEGEL cross could have been anything, but luckily I guessed correctly. I agree BUTENE is un-Tuesday and so, maybe, is RONDEL. But it’s all just an excuse to come here and see what my friends are up to.

So the puzzle was okay but the constellations, as always, triggered a memory. In the Navajo cosmos, Whirling Man (URSA MAJOR) and Whirling Woman (Cassiopeia) revolve eternally around the Hearth Fire (Polaris). The traditional message is that man and woman belong together in the hogan but that's morphed a bit into the value of balance and family. First Woman put the stars in the sky, at least these first ones, to reinforce the family message, until Coyote came along, became impatient with her great care, and shook the blanket on which the stars were carefully arrayed, scattering them into the heavens. There's a much longer, and bawdier, story that precedes this that I'll save for another day. Can't wait, can you? But when I look into the night sky from our not-quite IDS back yard, I see the Navajo cosmos and smile.

@LMS, crazy teenage dog was barking up a storm in the yard the other morning, and when I went to investigate, saw he'd found a very large, quite adult, pissed off fox snake doing its very best imitation of a rattler. I removed Mr. Fox to the other side of the fence so he could continue his rodent dining undisturbed. We have more than a dark sky here in the boonies outside the boonies.

jberg 11:47 AM  

I admired the complication of the theme, especially when I saw the bit about getting the letters A to G into the appropriate squares. I got to 34D before I'd figured that out, so "from circle F past circle G" was perplexing; and by the time I had filled in all the squares, what with writeovers and bacon grease that had got onto the paper from the back of my hand, I couldn't actually see where the circles were, although I figured I knew what they drew -- so thanks for providing that diagram, @Rex!

I was going to complain about having to guess between RONDEL and rondeau (which we've seen recently, I think), but it turns out there's a clear difference, clearly clued -- rondeaus (rondeaux?) have only 13 lines.

Cluing the ENOLA Gay as "1945 bomber" is a little too much understatement for me. At least this didn't run on August 6.

@Loren, I'm stumped, and the "reverse DOOK" hint isn't helping. I'll keep pondering it, though!

jberg 11:51 AM  

I almost forgot to post this link to the famous tower of Padua.

Whenever I'm in Chicago on a Wednesday I try to get to the Dame Myra Hess concert at lunchtime -- so thanks, @Amelia, for more info about her connection to lunchtime concerts.

Nancy 12:05 PM  

Just think, @Daryll: if I hadn't given my spontaneous, non-Googling reaction to "took the cake", you wouldn't have had anyone to make snide, down-putting remarks to -- remarks that obviously make you feel quite superior and deeply, deeply pleased with yourself. But I am not remotely impressed with your predilection for Googling. Any grade school child can Google. FWIW, I don't come here to research a puzzle; I come here to express and share my first and most visceral reaction to a puzzle. That's what I enjoy seeing in other people's posts. That's what, to me, makes the blog come alive. You may like to see different things in people's posts. Everything vetted before typing. Mistakes of fact or interpretation headed off at the pass. Everything verified beforehand. Seems quite bloodless to me, but if that's what you like, then those are the posts you should read, Daryll.

Joseph Michael 12:38 PM  

Connect-the-dots can be fun now and then and the BIG DIPPER is nice reward for the effort. However, if the puzzle is visual, I would have preferred the NORTH STAR, or something representing it, to be in its proper place above the BD instead of dangling below it.

GOT AT makes its second appearance this week and keeps reparsing itself as GO TAT, as in opt to have some ink added to one of your body parts. Meanwhile TEN ANTS could be CLUEd as a minor nuisance at a picnic.

And, GEE, if you're a chronic LAIR, you can use TWEETS to spread LYES to the ORBIS.

Dick Swart 12:39 PM  

The Roundel
by Algernon Charles Swinburne

A roundel is wrought as a ring or a starbright sphere, [A]
With craft of delight and with cunning of sound unsought,
That the heart of the hearer may smile if to pleasure his ear
A roundel is wrought. [A]

Its jewel of music is carven of all or of aught—
Love, laughter, or mourning—remembrance of rapture or fear—
That fancy may fashion to hang in the ear of thought.

As a bird's quick song runs round, and the hearts in us hear
Pause answer to pause, and again the same strain caught,
So moves the device whence, round as a pearl or tear,
A roundel is wrought. [A]

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

Urbi et orbi,
Rex has an appalling lack of education.
Thanks for the fun puzzle Mr. Stillman.

Mohair Sam 1:06 PM  

Good ol' @Nancy(12:05) - she takes absolutely no shit from anybody.

oldbizmark 1:11 PM  


Larry Gilstrap 1:11 PM  
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Masked and Anonymous 1:22 PM  

@RP- Cool "Fill Bad" list. Of the 22 that seemed to be on yer list, 11 had Patrick Berry Usage Immunity, tho. [PB1 List includin OOF.] [PB1 List not includin BUTENE, ORBIS, ARABY.]

Thing located in sky "by extending a line from circle F past circle G" in printed version is Jeff Stillman's name. Also, the line just misses one of the two U's, so that's also a primo target possibility.

staff weeject pick: LEO the constellation. Themer wannabe.

HESS/SEGEL area slowed m&e down a small jug's worth of nanoseconds, but somehow "S" seemed like the best crossin choice. All in all, "Medium-Feisty" seems about right, for a TuesPuz. Mostly becuz of some challengin vocab.

Thanx, Mr. Stillman. A few more little dippers* also could help make for a pleasin, heavenly sight. Just sayin.

Masked & Anonymo*UUs


Anonymous 1:24 PM  

Maybe Rex is moonlighting at Publix.
Google Publix and graduation cake and see what lack of even the most basic Latin gets you.

Teedmn 1:27 PM  

I'll buy @Rex's Medium-Challenging rating for this puzzle but I certainly don't feel any of the vitriol he levels at it. I didn't like the HESS/SEGEL cross because they are both unknowns but my guess was successful.

Much of my angst in solving was self-inflicted. I had ARABY in but BYTE wasn't lending itself to anything involving a gig for a band (duh, that one eventually came to me). I wrote in NOMo at 15A because I wasn't paying attention so I had a momentary hitch trying to find the twilled fabric, SoR__.

I love learning about the stars. I didn't care about them at all back when I lived in southern, rural Minnesota and could have seen the entire night sky with no effort. But later, I was at a show at the Planetarium in Minneapolis and afterwards they gave a brief outline of the major constellations which is when I learned to find the NORTH STAR by drawing a line between the BIG DIPPER and Cassiopeia. Orion, of course, I recognize and the Pleiades and Leo, Gemini, Sagittarius. Unfortunately, I live north of the Twin Cities so anything south of me is lost in the urban glow. I have a friend going to Peru this week and I told her to be sure to check out the stars in the Southern Hemisphere - going south of the equator is on my bucket list, so I can see some new constellations.

So thanks, Jeff Stillman, I liked your puzzle. (As a LEO, I'm always glad to see my star sign in the grid.)

Charley 1:29 PM  

No idea who Odon Nell is. And what’s Orbis? Seriously, a Tuesday?

Pete 2:05 PM  

@Jberg - My preferred, and crossword's official, tower in Padua.

Anonymous 2:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Suzie Q 2:44 PM  

@ Anon 1:21, I didn't have to Google cause I saw it on the news.
For those who didn't see it Publix refused to write "Summa Cum Laude" on a graduation cake because their profanity filter was triggered by the word Cum!!!

JOHN X 3:16 PM  

@Birchbark 8:22

Thanks for the temperature tip! That's pretty slick!

For the fist astrolabe, your closed fist at the end of your outstretched arm is approximately 10°. This works for everyone, young/old/big/small. To calibrate your fist astrolabe, look at the horizon (or even a horizontal point indoors). Line up the top of your outstretched fist at the horizon; this is "zero." Now put your other fist on top of the first and keep doing this until you are pointing straight up. It should have taken 9 fists or 90°.

Now, find Polaris in the night sky. Do the same thing and count how many fists Polaris is above the horizon. The answer equals your latitude North. If you were at the North Pole then Polaris would be directly overhead (or 9 fists) and is thus 90°N latitude. As you move south Polaris gets lower until it meets the horizon at the Equator (0°). Los Angeles is at latitude 34°N, and Polaris is about three-and-a-half fists above the horizon.

This method of navigation is as old as the invention of the boat, although it only works in the Northern Hemisphere. Ancient Polynesian mariners had their own cool tricks for the Southern sky.

Darryll 3:25 PM  

@Nancy - I appreciate a good rant as much or more than the next guy, but you do realize you're advocating for ignorance, right? There's a perfectly good (and warranted) rant about how "take the cake" hasn't been used to simply mean WON since Orbis Latinus was the know world. I just saying that it's better to, you know, actually know what you're talking about. A rant about how that usage hasn't been used in 1000 years is better than a rant about how it is just plain wrong. For the reasons I mentioned, i.e. factual accuracy. Be as visceral as you want, but correct is better than incorrect, no?

Larry Gilstrap 4:11 PM  

What if six turned out to be nine? - Jimi Hendrix

Hi, @Loren. Our little town, Borrego Springs, sought and was awarded status as an IDA designated dark-sky community. The effort involved the elimination of most extraneous outdoor lighting. The area provides an excellent window to the sky with vast horizons, dry conditions, temperate climate, open space, tourist amenities, and relative proximity to large population centers. Around new moon it gets dark enough that you can't see your feet, but other times of the month the moon lights up the place. No porch lights necessary. Our local natural history association offers monthly star gazing events with scopes and expert interpretive programs. I run an old 6" Dobsonian scope for things like the Orion Nebula or the Andromeda Galaxy, but there is lots to see using binoculars or the naked eye.

Fascinating to observe the star pattern of the cosmos revolve around Polaris, a sight not readily visible in most populated areas.

Amelia 4:20 PM  


Your snide response to Nancy reminds me of what the head of the ACLU once told me about free speech. Everyone thinks their speech is protected. It's the other guy they're not so sure about.

You think you always know what you're talking about. It's all the other guys falling down on the job. You decided that the only rants that are reasonable are yours.

And you have a typo in this latest one.

sanfranman59 4:34 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 5:19 4:24 1.21 86.6% Challenging
Tue 4:34 5:26 0.84 16.6% Easy

No erasures and a 16 second maximum stare time (I know this thanks to stats generated by Ralph Bunker's fine crossword app). It's nice to get back on the beam after yesterday's unnecessarily slow solve.

I love to star-gaze, so fun theme. It would have been really cool if the BIG DIPPER (9D) somehow pointed to the NORTH STAR (34D). I needed a lot of help with RONDEL (47D), but the crosses were easy, so that didn't really create a problem. ORBIS (57D) and BUTENE (11D) also came completely from crosses. ARABY (4D) might be tough crosswordese for some. Unlike some (e.g., OFL), I don't really mind these more arcane words in early week puzzles as long as they're fairly crossed. It sometimes teaches me something new.

Johnny 4:51 PM  

Wow @Darryll 3:25 you're really blathering. That's okay I like it.

Birchbark 5:03 PM  

@JOHN X (3:16) -- Far out. I'll definitely try it when the stars are out.

pabloinnh 6:16 PM  

I think we all know those people who, when you tell them you like to do the NYT xwords, always take a certain satisfaction in telling you that they have a friend who always does them--in ink!

Well this morning I was in a Paris airport with the international version of the NYT, which includes comics, I discover, and I did the puzzle. In ink! Take that, all you people with your clever friends.

And now I'm home in NH and wiped out, but happy to once again get on the blog and see what the regulars are up to. Bonne nuit, and to Gill, buenas noches.

t-dawg 6:30 PM  

I liked the theme, possibly only because I live in Alaska where Ursa Major is somewhat of a state icon, it being on our flag and all. So I also had heard the term "great bear." Also NORTH STAR didn't bother me since most people find it using the Ursa Major (rather than knowing it's in Ursa Minor). Two missed opportunities on the cluing:

- Not making the connection between NOME (15A) and Alaska/state flag (maybe kinda a stretch)
- Not making the connection with ORSO (22D) -- which is Italian for bear!

John Whitaker 6:50 PM  

I rented a Ryder truck in September 2009 in Atlanta and moved furniture to my son's apartment in Chicago and left the truck in Chicago. Sixteen foot box truck.

BarbieBarbie 7:41 PM  

So for those of us without a horizon at 0 deg, I guess we hold our arm out level and just say that’s the horizon. Cool. If it ever stops raining I’ll try it.
So jealous of anyone who can say “Sagittarius, of course.” Even at our mountain cabin you have to know that one to be able to find it in the light-haze. (And I do, but my dad always called it the Coffeepot because of the Milky Way steam coming out of its spout.)
@Larry, wow, Borrego Springs? GREAT town. Friendly people. Wildflower capital!

DCE 7:59 PM  

When do you genuinely *like* a puzzle?

I found this utterly delightful! I immediately wondered if it struck you simlarly, only to run into your OOF. Feels like you often find the NYT puzzle a bit lacking. As a longtime lurker, I’m genuinely curious: what makes a great puzzle for you?

Anyway, I caught the theme early and enjoyed much of the full - particularly the sorta celestial sounding ORBIS (Caesar’s world?) in the corner.

Anonymous 9:29 PM  

Wow that was rough!! DNF in multiple places. Several words/names I never heard of. Not at all a Tuesday. More like Thursday.

Larry Gilstrap 9:36 PM  

Flower displays were very subtle this season in the desert, because rainfall was around 1". Last year was Flowergeddon. By comparison, this year was touristy enough for me. Don't forget that soon it is going to get very hot, every day. Nice town and friendly people is a correct assessment.

newspaperguy 11:41 PM  

Is it only in the crossword puzzle world that people who can't spell (words or names--Ilsa/Elsa for example) fess up but blame it on the constructor? Such a sad lot.

dp 12:27 AM  

TIL: it's spelled ENMITY and not EMNITY.

Doc John 12:43 AM  

And I came to this expecting OFL to be bursting out of the seams because of ARYAN and yet not a peep.
As for GREAT BEAR not being in use, check this out.

Burma Shave 9:27 AM  


TERI said to LEO,
“GEE, you’re a TOP ARYAN stripper,


thefogman 10:30 AM  

Yes, some of the CLUEs were a little clunky. But there's no need for such ENMITY. I INUREd the OOF, EENY, EMO, ANOD ASEA et al. GOTAT it. ERASED very little, SLEW the NW corner and WON with EASE - and SPEED(O). Why so NEG? I hope Rex LETSGO. Maybe he just needs a GREATBEAR hug.

thefogman 10:45 AM  

My only real objection was the cluing for 50D (Flavorers for some pies and ice cream) PECANS. Flavorers should have been replaced by ingredient in my opinion.

spacecraft 11:45 AM  

Naticked at 54, but the most reasonable guess, S, was correct. Those two PPPs were among a SLEW of NHOs; too many for a Tuesday. BUTENE? Sure, butane, but BUTENE? Come on. Thank GOODnESS there's no such thing as a GODDaSS. Wait, there IS Roseanne...

Ah, but the GODDESS is found right underneath, DOD TERI Garr. Yes, I know TERI was yesterday's--but a different one. I wouldn't mind seeing either in a SPEEDO.

I didn't have too much trouble with the rest of this, though the circles were so faintly drawn in my paper that I didn't even see half of them. I ignored them, and waited for OFL's drawing. Not bad, if astronomically inaccurate. The theme was very ambitious, which led to some of the fill woes.

I kind of like the "Rex factor." I generally finish in about ten ORSO Rexes. A SPEEDO I am not. And now I have BABEL-ed enough. Par.

Thanks for the B-day wish, @rondo.

leftcoastTAM 2:35 PM  

Good graphic, with clues and answers tying it all together. Adds up to a stellar piece of work.

Include some outlying fillers like RONDELL, HESS, ARABY, and BYTE (a bit of misdirection there), and we have a winner.

Nice work, Jeff Stillman.

leftcoastTAM 2:55 PM  

Oops! Naticked at ESOBESa/DOJa cross.

rainforest 3:01 PM  

There's something compelling about the stars. Is there life out there? Kind of the question that comes to mind when I read some of the real-time comments.

Hey! Happy Birthday, @Spacey. 78 looks/sounds good on you.

Teri Garr!

My Chemistry background came in handy with BUTENE. Elsa is the cow, or possibly Lanchester, dammit.

Oh yeah, I liked this puzzle for the reasonable depiction of The Big Dipper and the general theme. Note to self: must try to see the Great Bear constellation.
The fill wasn't a problem for me,

rondo 3:14 PM  

Well, apparently BUTENE is the same as butylene, which I’ve heard of, as in butyl rubber; got it right, but looked at it sideways for A SEC. And I guess that Roy ORBISon translates to: Roy, son of the world? If that CLUE for 38a LAO isn’t straight from Will’s mouth I’ll eat my hat, if I had a hat.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I have a pair of SPEEDO brand swim trunks; they go nearly to my knees, so not to worry.

I sometimes still call our pro hockey club the NORTHSTARs.

One From the Heart, ANOD to GODDESS TERI Garr, yeah baby.

This puz wasn’t astronomically great, but neither did it BYTE.

Diana,LIW 3:23 PM  

I, too, was with OFL as I was sli...sli...sliding - oh no, Mr. Bill - into challenging. For a Tuesday. So that part of his review I agree with.

Then..."I don't really stop to read and figure out long cross-referenced clues if I don't have to, and I'm certainly not consulting circles unless absolutely necessary," is a classic example of why I don't solve like @Rex - going for time instead of fun. I mean, I don't give a fomenting fart how long I take, I wanna have some fun with words. And you can't do that, at least not as well IMO, if you're concerned about speed.

Not that I'm crazy about cross-referenced clues, but I do take the time to read them - the constructor took a lot more time to figure them out!!!

And I agree with @Spacey about the NHO/PPP factor. I've said it before - make a crossWORD puzzle, not a trivia game show.

But I ended with success, which was the answer to a clue in a puzzle I did last night. Now you know.

Diana,LIW 3:25 PM  

And happy b-day to @Spacey. I abruptly left my last post as my comment box was doing unusual things - most likely user error caused by hitting an unwanted button. Which is my wont.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, but not computer errors

strayling 7:35 PM  

I was disappointed that The Plough didn't get a mention. Or would that be The Plow?

Either way, it would have been a good themer.

thefogman 11:44 PM  

What did the inn keeper say to the Big Dipper when he asked if he could rent a room?

Sorry this is only a four star hotel.

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