Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: NUCLEAR FAMILY (36A: Members of this can be found in the centers of 17-, 24-, 51- and 60-Across)

A wonderful little puzzle. Felt like I was tripping all over myself trying to solve it last night, so when I saw my time (5:12) I was a little surprised. That's significantly faster than my average Wednesday, I think. I struggled in several different parts of the puzzle, which I'll discuss below, but apparently my struggle didn't last too long. Felt like an eternity while it was happening, though, I assure you. I tend not to solve on the NYT applet (where you can measure your times against others) because I don't like the (self-imposed) pressure, but I decided that with the tournament coming up in a few days, I should start acclimating myself to a little pressure. I'm just grateful that the tournament-solving is on paper, because I have Horrible keyboard technique. Very fast, very inaccurate. I'm especially bad at controlling the cursor. I was actually expecting a "Your puzzle is incorrect" message the first time I clicked "Done" last night, so ragged was my solving experience. Lucked out. I don't expect such luck to hold under tournament conditions. Lesson for the tournament: don't spaz out. Be methodical and calm. Good things are more likely to happen that way. Breathe. Slow down. Imagine yourself coming in 600th place. See that world does not end, sun still rises, gravity still functions, etc.

I'm going to post a message later in the day asking tournament attendees to identify themselves. Several of you have asked me to do this, so check back in if you are curious about who's going to be there.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Make tracks (skeDADdle) - what a great answer. I had SKED- before I read this clue and thought "Nothing starts with SKED-!" I was, happily, wrong.
  • 24A: Sources of ready cash (pawn BROkers) - sputtered a bit here, as I could think only of the phrase PAWN SHOPS, but then the right answer broke free.
  • 51A: Turkey insert (therMOMeters) - clue = gross. Thankfully, I never saw it (how is that possible?). Wife misread clue as "Turkey insect."
  • 60A: Got by (on) (subSISted)

Please note the bonus thematic answer ATOM (37D: Bit to split), which intersects the NUCLEAR in NUCLEAR FAMILY. Beautifully done.

My first hold-up came right off the bat, when I could come up with none of the Acrosses at the top of the puzzle - well, I guessed ASK TO (9A: Invite for), but was not confident enough to write it in at first. I don't remember what I had at first for 14A: _____ ease, but it wasn't ILL AT and it somehow made sense. I finally got a roll going when I switched to the Downs and DIS (1D: Talk trash about) (now you're talking my language) came to me instantly, then ELK (2D: Lodge member), then BLESS YOU (3D: "Gesundheit!"), and on from there. Got slowed down right around the REPO line (34A: Defaulter's loss). Couldn't see REPO, and nothing below it or around it was falling into place (including BREF - 26D: Concise, in Cannes - which is odd, given that my 7+ years of French should have made that obvious).

Had to reboot in the SE, where I was helped considerably by having NEMEAN (42A: _____ lion, beast slain by Hercules in his first labor) be a flat-out gimme. I do love my Herculean labors. After I teased out the annoying prefix OMNI- (50A: Directional lead-in), I dropped the lovely LEMON TEA (39D: Sore throat soother) down into the SE and polished off the bottom of the puzzle fairly quickly. I went through the SW corner like a hot knife through oleo, using OSHA (44A: Dept. of Labor branch) to get every Down answer in quick succession, one right after the other. That's a lot of squares filled in a matter of seconds.

Last stand was in the Nevada section of the puzzle, where a lot of odd answers come together. Had LLB for LLD (32D: Foreign law deg.), which is mystifying, as I don't even shop at L.L. Bean and so don't have that as an excuse. The Vietnamese name was unknown to me, and I put in the "D" for DUC (28D: Vietnam's Le _____ Tho) only after I decided that the unfamiliar last name in question in the cross had to be BOYD (27A: Cassidy portrayer of TV and film). My least favorite answer of the day: I WOULD (31A: Words of willingness). These sound more like words of excuse, as in "I WOULD help you cook, but as you can see, I'm watching TV, so ... you know ... my hands are tied."

Answer sampler:

  • 20A: Mead study locale (Samoa) - could make no sense of the clue until I had the answer. Margaret Mead is of course the famous anthropologist who wrote Coming of Age in SAMOA.
  • 21A: Chips that one might "muncha buncha" (Fritos) - some people decry the use of commercial names in the puzzle. I, on the other hand, can't get enough of them.
  • 41A: Flash drive filler (data) - the B from the erroneous "LLB" screwed me up here.
  • 56A: T. Boone Pickens, for one (oilman) - all I could remember about this guy is a. he had been in the puzzle before as a 15-letter Across answer, b. he was rich for some reason, and c. he had been on the cover of Time magazine (I used that cover in my blog write-up of him). Sadly, I could remember nothing pertinent about him, but since he was an Across in the SW, it hardly mattered. Got him from crosses in no time flat.
  • 6D: Time to crow (at dawn) - actually entered MIDDAY and then immediately erased it.
  • 7D: "That's funny!," in an e-mail (LOL) - see also 38D: Chat room shorthand (IMO - "in my opinion"). Another great pair in the puzzle is EMS (53D: Ambulance letters) complemented - in lovely symmetrical fashion - by DOA (18D: Beyond paramedic aid, in brief). One of the few times you are ever likely to hear DOA described as "lovely," I'm sure.
  • 21D: Short order cook's utensil (fry pan) - had the FRY, so wrote in the PAN, but only tentatively. Wife insists that short order cooks use large griddles, not actual FRY PANs. I suggested maybe they used to use them in the olden days. We then got into a discussion about what "olden days" meant, with her imagining ... I forget, either classical Rome or Little House on the Prairie, where I was just thinking "Your grandfather's time." Such meandering and ultimately pointless discussions are not infrequent around here.
  • 8D: Antietam leader (Lee) - Wife just taught me how to pronounce this the other day. "Antietam," I mean. I know how to pronounce LEE.
  • 44D: Best Actor nominee for "Venus," 2006 (O'Toole) - me: "It starts with "O," so ... O'TOOLE!" That, right there, is the key to solving crosswords reasonably. It's way more about instinct than it is about hardcore knowledge.
  • 47D: Loser of 1588 (Armada) - helps that I just discussed this in class the other day. God helped Elizabeth fend off the Spanish by creating storms that wrecked much of the Spanish ARMADA all along the coast of Ireland. That's where the anthem "God Save the Queen" came from. It was originally "God Saved the Queen" (I'm not serious, so please, no letters).

Thanks for an entertaining puzzle, Lee.

Off to take Sahra to school (1-hr delay means she's still here, watching ... something brain-rotting, I'm sure ... nope, I'm being told it's "Curious George" on PBS, so that's not so bad). Oh, I forgot: wife said she's going to take Sahra to school. Sweet. OK, so I'm ... off to make coffee then.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS though you might not recognize it, my site has recently been updated and thus made far more easily navigable. Individual entries can now be pinpointed from the Blog Archive in my sidebar. I could not have done the updating without the industrious and virtually unpaid help of Dave Sullivan. Every annoying problem I'd had trying to update to the newest version of Blogger, he was somehow able to fix. And all I have to do is buy him breakfast in Brooklyn. That's win-win for me. Thanks, Dave.


Anonymous 9:09 AM  

Rex, love the Sixteen Candles picture of Long Duc Dong (sp?). Makes me want to rent the movie.

My college roommate told me recently that everything is exactly the same in her life as it was in college (mid-1980s), except now she no longer tucks her pants into her socks!


Anonymous 9:53 AM  

So I hope there's an IHOP in the Brooklyn environs...

Bill D 10:03 AM  

I concur - a great little puzzle! Working off downs, I blitzed through the top half in jig time - loved SKEDADDLE which I dropped in immediately; slowed down a bit in the bottom half (didn't have Rex's O'Toole AHA! moment) and also couldn't extract T Boone Pickens from the depths of my memory. [I thought he was another dreaded Pop Culture Clue, and somehow the Cassidy thing tripped a western connotation in my mind, but I think somewhere in there T Boone Pickens, Slim Pickens, and T-Bone Anybody are all jumbled up!] Nevada was last to come for me too; worked it pretty much the same as Rex. NARRATE down the middle gave me the most unexpected trouble - I just couldn't see it. Still, a very quick solve for me for a Wednesday without the letdown of feeling the puzzle was lame.

Loved SKEDADDLE, LEMON TEA, FRITOS, SAMOA, ASTRO, ATOM, LOL & IMO; loved having TWO lions make an appearance (a record?); liked seeing a Russian "O"-city that was NOT Orel (ODESSA); noted reappearance of REPO, NEEDS, LENDL, BUD/PAL and the back end of Mt St HELENS [apparently Mt St IS the Shortz form!]. Only one mild gripe - is the parenthetical clarifier necessary in the clue 60A: Got by (on) [SUBSISTED]? Or is it just a Wed helper?

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

Overall, I agree, this puzzle seemed a little on the easy side. Except, the BOYD - DUC crossing which required an educated guess for me. Seems like that's often the MO on Wednesday's -- mostly straight-forward, too(?) easy fill with one or two stumpers thrown in to the mix. The stumpers don't sit right with me. Would rather all the cluing be slightly harder, but leave out the one or two crossings where you just have to take a wild stab.

Oh yeah, NEMEAN is a gimme? Yeah, maybe for a college history/lit(?) prof, but not for a handbag salesman.

Finally, FRYPAN as a utensil? Something about that does not sit right. Forks, knives, spoons, even tongs and spatulas are utensils in my mind, but a frying pan, less so. I'm sure that is just me though.

Cheers, Deion

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

Will someone please explain how ALL is Part of "snafu"? had me totally stumped.

I even knew about LEE/Antietam, but was still trying to make ALZ/ZEE (maybe they were passing out paper towels in the civil war?)

I, too, loved skedaddle - it was a word I read recently in "The Glass Castle" but I thought author Wells spelled it "skeedaddle"

And despite having 2 teens and a tween in the house, I'd never heard of IMO.

Have a great day!

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

To me, this was a perfect puzzle. It had the feeling of the "old days" or maybe the early days of my puzzling that some puzzles don't have - elegant and unpretentious, clever crosses, enough of a challenge for a Wednesday, but seamless and unforced. Example: one way to be in love/madly Just perfect.

Muncha buncha... the power of advertising. OSHA... I just opened a clinical laboratory, so this has been on my mind. Tried to fit lozenge in for lemon tea. Can't wait for DST for sunset surfs! I always think it odd that words will show up in a few puzzles in a row (or close together), such as repo and Odessa recently.

Blessyou, Lee, for a deadon puzzle. Even got your moniker in there, eh?

I'm off to brush up on my Herculean labors. All I remember is some queen's girdle and mucking out some stables.

@Hollyhmc snafu is an acronym for "situation normal: all f***ed up!

Orange 10:25 AM  

Holly, SNAFU is short for "situation normal: all fucked up" (or fouled"). IMO = "in my opinion," but Rex here coined IMOO, adding "obnoxious."

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

SNAFU is WWII era acronym/slang for Situation Normal All F***ed Up.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

This puzzle just left me cold, as about 1 in 10 do. I got stuck in Nevada, and just didn't care enough to slog my way through it, so here I am, I don't know whether this is cheating or giving up.

Anyway, about pressure at the tournament. Sure, the sun will still come up if you come in 600th, but you'll have to change 166th to 600th in your banner. And maybe your wife will come in 599th. The pressure's on man.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

Got it! Thanks!
Now that I know it's semi-naughty I like it that much more.
The bad Catholic girl in me.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

This puzzle is full of positive answers. My favorite is DOTS the movie treat I find so annoying that it is fun much like FRITOS. All brought to mind William (I thnk) Boyd Hopalong and Topper.

Howdy Partners!

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Noted an economic recession sub-theme: repo, pawnbrokers, debts, subsisted...I was thinking IMOO meant the more benign "In my own opinion" - now I know.

Ladel 11:25 AM  

Orange, for a lover of chocolate you have a very salty crust. In addition to the WW11 acronym in today's puzzle, another beauty is FIGMO. This was usually chanted by a redneck G.I. who had just received shipping out orders to a better place, it stands for: Fuck, I, Got, My, Orders. If you were "FIGMO," it was understood that you were not to be messed with as you were leaving shortly.

wendy 11:36 AM  

"Beyond paramedic aid, in brief" is one of the funniest clues, with its DOA answer, that I can recall in a long time. I actually guffawed.

I am also in awe of myself that I got NUCLEAR FAMILY off of one letter, though I can no longer remember which one.

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

Another famous, naughty, WWII acronym was FUBAR: F***ED UP BEYOND ALL RECOGNITION. This was a superlative to SNAFU.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Le DUC Tho was the North Vietnamese general/politician/diplomat who negotiated the Paris accords with Henry Kissinger, and he was the co-winner shortly afterwards of the Nobel Peace prize, which he declined.

I'm old enough that I thought it was a gimme.

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

Holly, I'm squirrely over bad Catholic lassies, so here's another acronym from the same era: FUBAR, fucked up beyond all recompense.
Also, I have to add that this was an amzingly codger-friendly puzzle. I was born before Pearl Harbor, so SNAFU, BOYD, SKEDADDLE,NARY, and LENDL were familiar. Had to guess TRIBE, Survivor experience/interest.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Please somebody explain why "RBI" is the answer to "one of four in a grand slam"--and i apologize for my denseness.


Anonymous 12:33 PM  

Anonymous 12:26, RBI stands for "Run Batted In", a grand slam would be a home run with the bases loade, so four runs would be "batted in". I actualy wrote in RUN for this answer, which threw me way off since I was another one who didn't know BOYD.

Other than that, I enjoyed this puzzle. I actually finished it at the breakfast table. My routine is to read the times over coffee, including the rest of the Arts section. I then fold the paper over the crossword and it goes in my pocket for working on the bus. But, or course, I just have to look a little during that process. Today, I just filled in the entire top half, thought "this is a Monday" and then got completley bogged down in the middle for some reason. It was all a bit of a struggle from that point one, with the RUN vs. RBI thing contributing to the problem.

genevieve 1:07 PM  

I couldn't come up with AMAIN last night, so I kept submitting guesses, and I remember AMAIN being an early guess. The rest of my puzzle was correct (I checked again today against Rex's), but the site kept saying my submitted puzzle was incorrect. Does anyone know how many times one can submit a puzzle before it stops accepting them and gives the "incorrect" message for anything (if it in fact does this at all)? I know you can do it at least once and re-submit the puzzle to get on the "finished" list, but am not sure about multiple times.

Rex, I'm a librarian and was tickled to see your Chronicle article arrive in our serials department last week. I love how you'd like to see crossword-puzzling as an accomplishment to be talked about, rather than to get the minor self-satisfaction of finishing a puzzle, then having no forum to discuss it.


Ladel 1:17 PM  

SNAFU & FUBAR, have a close relative in FUBB, by now you should be familiar with the FU, so the BB means: BEYOND BELIEF. I served in the USAF from 1962-66, and the above acronyms were a daily and apt description of military life, but always in a good hearted tongue in cheek manner.

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Please give me the date on the Chronical article and I'll dig it up somewhere sometime. Or, is it available on-line?
Sorry if asked and answered already.

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

OMG I misspelled Chronicle. Aaaaggggh!

PuzzleGirl 1:30 PM  

jim in chicago: I understood the connection between RBI and a grand slam, but after reading your explanation I now wonder if the clue was correct. Seems to me a grand slam contains three RBIs and one, um, R. ???

PuzzleGirl 1:34 PM  

Nope, a grand slam is really four RBIs. According to Wikipedia, anyway:

"(a) The official scorer shall credit the batter with a run batted in for every run that scores
(1) unaided by an error and as part of a play begun by the batter's safe hit (including the batter's home run) ..."

Learn something new every damn day.

miriam b 2:11 PM  

Emily's latest cartoon is a marvel. Fortunately, I'd had breakfast hours before I looked at it, which is a Good Thing.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

Beautiful puzzle, it fell fast and smoothly. Had a little trouble with the all/Lee spot, and how do we pronounce Antietam?
Lots of fun and luck in Brooklyn, all of you. I was too chicken to sign up, maybe next year. Please report every step of the way, we cowards want to know!

Gene 2:20 PM  

My first intro to the "IMO" genre was "IMHO", where the H stands for Humble.

I had an annoying experience with the applet (not really the applet's fault), as I've doing other on-line puzzles where the applet, when you get it right, pops up with a "congratulations", etc. And when I finished the NYT, and didn't get a popup, I spent a long time looking for errors (mostly at AMAIN, also), before I remembered that I had to press "DONE!" Grrrr!

emilyjo.c @ gmail dot com 2:20 PM  

love this puzzle!

Eric Selje 2:38 PM  

Perhaps overthinking, I put "Egg" in for "One, in a grand slam," thinking they meant the Grand Slam breakfast at Denny's. Then I put in Run before settling on RBI, which didn't help me with Boyd as I had "Hewn" for "Freshly Cut." But besides that part of puzzle, all else went well and was quite fun.

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

I too found this delightful. The only place I got slowed down was SE and central where I had INN for SPA and had trouble seeing SUBSISTED. Had the opposite gimme/stumper experience that Rex had with BOYD as my gimme (I watched the show frequently in the 50s) and NEMEAN as a stumper until I remembered IMO.

BTW nice to see Rex and many of you found last weekends puzzles difficult. I did them on the cruise with a little help from fellow passengers. No one I talked to finished them and several took one looked and passed.

The Big E 2:57 PM  

Flew through this puzzle with no hangups! Also liked the couple of baseball clues, though I would have liked 18 across to be something related to Cleveland so we could have had an Astro-Tribe clash!
I also had to make an educated guess on Boyd and Duc, though that was because I watched "Good Morning Vietnam" recently, and the young boy who becomes friends with Cronauer becomes unmasked as a Vietcong terrorist named "Phan Duc Tho" (sp?)
so I had that on the brain and it worked!
Also, I'm not sure I like the clue "has star power" with an answer of "shines." Many actors shine in roles, but their performance does not necessarily indicate that they have Star Power. Tom Cruise has Star Power, but doesn't always shine in his roles (and hasn't in a while, imho).
Good luck to everyone at the convention this weekend!

Anonymous 3:11 PM  


Real stars shine. So, things that shine can be said to have "star power."

The Big E 3:20 PM  

Thanks Puzzlemensch, though I still think it is a stretch - while our sun is a star, we do not refer to the power harnessed from the sun as "star power," but as "solar power." I just think it is somewhat of a poorly worded clue - my nit-pickiness (to use yesterday's puzzle).

PuzzleGirl 3:43 PM  

@greg: I'm with you. I think the clue should have had a question mark. It's question mark-y.

Anonymous 3:45 PM  


Really appreciate your blog - a life saver when trying to check my puzzles via blackberry on the bus in the A.M.

Don't know if perhaps all puzzlers think alike but I laughed at the pic of Long Duc Dong - I had no idea who Le DUC Tho was but some instinct called up that same pic in my head and led me to the answer before I found it on your blog.

Similar think-alike phenomenon for "foreign law deg." - I went with LLM right out of the gate and then couldn't figure out what fills up a flash drive that begins with "M."

Oddly, I'm a lifelong, avid baseball fan, yet 22D - "One of four in a grand slam" had me thinking "USO" (for the U.S. Open) before I saw the light.

Anonymous 4:09 PM  

I thought it was "Nuke-u-ler Famly."

Fool me once shame on. . .don't make me go through that again. [Laughs like Muttley, of Dastardly & Muttley.]


Doug Garr 4:22 PM  

Fry pan sort of sucked. Nobody ever uses that, not even short-order cooks. Had fry and thought pan for the whole puzzle.

Squash's Mom 4:23 PM  


BOYD and NEMEAN were hard for me. And I, too, had INN instead of SPA for a little while. Still I enjoyed this puzzle.

Off Topic:

I know last year you wrote about American Idol. I haven't heard you mention anything about this season yet. I noticed last night (yes, I watch it, but only through the DVR where i can ff over most of the fluff) that the contestants were revealing something people might not know about themselves. One of the contestants said he liked to do crossword puzzles. I thought you might like that.

Got to go SKEDADDLE to the store to buy some FRITOS (I have a sudden craving.....)

Anonymous 4:55 PM  

@douggarr -- fyi there are FRY PANs in the Viking Cookware, All-Clad, and Bourgeat catalogues, among others.

Doug 4:58 PM  

I thought I was quite a cunning linguist today when I nailed ATMMACHINES (sources of ready cash)and BREADCRUMBS (turkey insert.) Perfectly goods answers...and I got them BOTH wrong!

Gotta loves RP's usage of a Japanese American actor playing a Chinese teen for the pic of a Vietnamese national! Great quotes Long Duck Dong that I haven't forgotten from 16 Candles:

"Hey Fred, there's your Chinaman. He's six sheets to the wind."

"Sexy American girlfriend, no more yankee my wankee. Donger need food."

"Beeg water...beeeeg water. Car--Boom!"

Anonymous 5:24 PM  

Talk about "star power" and recent Oscar gala -- who was the author of the Pulitzer-prize winning book from which came the Oscar-winning movie "The Age of Innocence"? (The Oscar-winning star Day-Lewis was a presenter this year.)

Right: Edith Wharton... and her home, The Mount, is on the National Historic Register too, just completely renovated -- but now facing the auctioneer's block! For the sad details see


PhillySolver 5:25 PM  

Back from a long day in Brooklyn. Basic reconnaissance achieved though. Enter the Marriott main door and take the escalator up to the lobby. Check in on the far right of the lobby.

Fun puzzle with NARY a problem. Off to Trivia tonight and then a late night struggle with Thursday's pre-tournament puzzle rumored to generate lots of comments.

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

I wanted JERK instead of YANK, but otherwise few problems.

Squash's mom, I saw that on Amer Idol too...I liked that he called himself a 'word nerd' (and then Simon attacked him for being too boring! Boo.)

Anonymous 6:16 PM  

Antietam is pronounced "Anteetum," with the accent on the second syllable. Or at least it was when my grandmother lived there.

Was surprised, like Rex, when my puzzle was accepted on the first try. I had a smattering of spaces I just had to drop letters into without really being sure, like the "t" in dots (don't know this candy, and I'm pretty well-versed in theater candy) and "m" in a amain--don't really have a hold on this word, but the m felt workable. Even with those uncertainties, the puzzle felt really easy, though.

Anonymous 7:00 PM  

I had "run" instead of "rbi" for awhile. Fry pan was a bit odd .. had fry then put in pan but thought it was .. odd. Star power seemed similarly a bit odd, more descriptive of a Hollywood person than a celestial object. But overall it felt like a nice puzzle with lots of good stuff in it.

Shanti11 7:04 PM  

Green Mantis and Rex have commented on their puzzles being "accepted". I'm confused. I've been using Across Lite to solve, thinking that was the only online method. Are you guys referring to a program inside the NYT site that tells you right away if your answers are right? Across Lite won't tell you that until the next day, when you input the answer key.

James F 7:09 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, and found it, with one exception, to be interesting and fair. The one exception to "fairness"--to me an agreement (however obscure) between the clue and the answer--was 31A, which also bothered Rex. "I would" is a reply of unwillingness, as in "I would, but my sock drawer needs tending." Even the tense isn't quite right. "Sure, I can" is how I say that I am willing.

Although I am fine with it, it is good crosswordese to have "DEAD ON" and "DOA" (dead on arrival) in the same set of answers?

Gene 7:11 PM  

Catherine - if you click the "Play Against the Clock" button, rather than the "Play the Puzzle Now" button, you'll see the on-line applet, which is harder to use, but allows you to time yourself against others.

Anonymous 7:22 PM  

Mmmmmm, DOTS and FRITOS. I love balancing sweet and salty snacks. All I need is a beverage (preferably carbonated and caffeinated) to wash it down.

Rex, you may have to put up a "Mature Readers" only notice, if everybody keeps dropping the F-word so liberally!

Not much to add, but I really enjoyed today's puzzle, too.

Would that I could be with you all in Brooklyn this weekend. Maybe next year...

Anonymous 7:59 PM  

Not much to add to what's been already said but...

Although I also found FRY PAN to be sort of niggling, I do recall that the cooks at Waffle House use fry pans for preparing certain dishes.

Also, although I've been in marching bands and play in a wind ensemble now, I've never hear the word TABORS. I was thinking tom toms but it didn't fit.

@ Rikki- maybe the weekend will be as beautiful as today and you can go surfing then!

Michael Chibnik 8:29 PM  

I got this one completely right , but had to guess on the cross of imo and nemean. I knew imho and thought that perhaps imo was also ok. "Nemean" lion was new to me.

I agree with others that this was a fine Wednesday puzzle. When the answers were crosswordese (not too many), the clues were good.

Anonymous 9:01 PM  

"NEMEAN" a gimme? All I can say is if that's a gimme, that's why you are the 166th best crossword solver! I only got it because of crosses and still have never heard of it. I can usually find a faint trace a something in the deep recesses of my memory, but NEMEAN is a total blank.
But, everybody knows different things, sometimes I'm amazed at what I consider are science gimme's that stump Rex and others (and I'm not a scientist - not even close.)

Little Lj 9:39 PM  

I made a list when I was about 16 of my favorite words of all time. SKEDADDLE was in the top 10. Made me very happy to see it today.

Almost as happy as I was when I saw the Long Duc Dong picture!! 'What's happening, hot stuff??' Haha!

Anonymous 11:03 PM  

Same as for everyone - a fun puzzle
two comments:
a) although I got "narrated" from the crosses, I was a little thrown off by the term "soundtrack." Since we are well past the silent movie era (and even silent home movies era), soundtrack nowadays almost always refers to music - so it was jarring to see it in this context.
b) James F - In answer to the question "Who would be willing to go to the game?" "I would" is certainly grammatically correct and can be described as words of willingness.

Anonymous 11:09 PM  

Happy today to see that I was able to beat Rex's time... by a whopping 7 seconds!!! Of course I was using Across Lite which is my method of choice (I can solve with a keyboard much more quickly than I can with a pencil - which unfortunately does not bode well for this weekend.)

I had different struggles with this one than most of the rest of you did today. My only hiccup was in the SW, where OSHA, OILMAN, OTOOLE, ARMADA, and ONEAD (at 59A, my favorite clue/answer of this puzzle, incidentally) proved obstinate to me. I left this section for a while and came back to it at the end. After a brief moment of bemusement I finally noticed that OSHA would fit with ARMADA, and that crossing M brought to mind OILMAN - and the rest came out easily.

Having been a huge mythology buff in my 20s, NEMEAN was no trouble for me today either. I can see how many would have found it a stumbling point though. I'd also seen Le Duc Tho in enough crosswords that I was able to guess it right first time. BOYD I didn't know, but it fit, and sometimes that's enough.

I have to say that I found this to be a very satisfying puzzle! Great fun.

Anonymous 11:32 PM  

Green Mantis, thank you for your help on the pronunciation.
Tabors was a new word for me, too; it makes me think of the old Dutch word tambour, a military drummer.
I'm sorry now I will not get to put faces to so many of Rex's followers....

Anonymous 11:53 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, too. I've been flying through all the _NYT_ and _NYS_ puzzles this week--I guess I'm peaking right before the tournament! :)

Anonymous 11:58 PM  

@Nebraska Doug, if you've ever heard the phrase "a Herculean task" it refers to the 12 Labors of Hercules (or originally Heracles in the Greek). As the story goes, Hera made Hercules lose his mind temporarily and he killed his wife and children. Pretty gruesome so far. When he came to his senses, he was overcome with grief and asked the Oracle at Delphi for advice. He was given ten tasks to perform for penance. He had help with two of them so he was given two more, thus 12 of them. Because they were so outrageous and difficult, he was not only forgiven, but gained status has a hero. So here they are:

1. Slay the Nemean Lion and bring back its hide.
2. Slay the 9-headed Lernaean Hydra.
3. Capture the Golden Stag of Artemis.
4. Capture the Erymanthian Boar.
5. Clean the Augean stables in a single day.
6. Slay the Stymphalian Birds.
7. Capture the Cretan Bull.
8. Steal the Mares of Diomedes.
9. Obtain the Girdle of the Amazon warrior queen Hippolyte.
10. Obtain the Cattle of the Monster Geryon.
11. Steal the Apples of the Hesperides, which were strictly guarded by a 100-headed dragon called Ladon.
12. Capture Cerberus, the guardian dog of Hades, using no weapons and bring him back.

Probably in the more-than-you-asked -for category, but you may run into another of them in another puzzle sometime.

Unknown 2:54 PM  

While I loathed 'short order cook's utensil', I got it (FRY PAN) with crosses eventually. In my mind a utensil is a fork, a spatula, a whisk...a tool in other words. FRY PAN, while toolish isn't a tool in my mind...though I have a hard time coming up with a more apt 'family of objects' that FRY PAN would fit in. "Device" perhaps...but that's just another word for "Tool"...essentially. Ugh.

That said, if it were GRIDDLE instead "short order cook's surface" would be relatively nifty...perhaps. Or at least I would have gotten it without crosses ;)

Love the Blog

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

yay rex

Aviatrix 3:00 PM  

The new navigation system makes it more difficult for syndicated solvers to find the puzzle, if we don't do it the very day it's published.

In the old system I could click the syndicated link, and then the week before that would be in the sidebar and I could just look for mine and click it. Now I have to do the math to determine which date it would have originally appeared, and navigate to it.

I know the world is not arranged for my convenience, however, so this is just a comment, not a complaint.

Rex Parker 3:04 PM  

The whole site is way, way easier to navigate with the system set up the way it is. If you hit the syndication link, you can see what date it is ... and every prior date is pinpointable from the sidebar. There is no reason this should be inconvenient.


Anonymous 10:54 AM  

You all crack me up! Between the SNAFU and FUBAR (I only knew the latter); and "Sixteen Candles" (hilarious movie!), you have me literally LOLing.

Unknown 11:05 AM  

8 down should have been "Sharpsburg leader" as Antietam is the Northern name of the battle and Lee was a Southern general.

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

CAlady said:
'Fry pan"--where I come from it's a "frying pan"-and I would regard it as kitchen equipment, not a utensil, tho it fits the strict definition of "an implement for practical use"!

If anyone six weeks out is still watching, I download (right term?) the whole month at once, save this and, starting at the bottom, advance one day at a time. The original date for the puzzle is given right before the current date. Thus today we have #0227, 04/09/08. Of course, Sunday puzzles are on a different schedule, so you have to skip by them and look on the main blog. I hope this will help someone.

Anonymous 6:45 PM  

I can attest to the "I would" as words of willingness, at least in some parts of the world. I am a computer programmer, and my dept was outsourced to India. When this first started, the offshore team would send emails asking for advice about how to proceed in a particular situation. My reply was something like this: "Instead of the way you have coded it, I would define a variable for (blah blah blah)" and then the offshore team would be surprised that I hadn't actually done it for them. They understood "I would" to mean "I will" and expected it to be done.

Anonymous 6:42 PM  

I do the puzzles in syndication, so I did this one yesterday. In one of those weird coincidences that all statisticians know are not that rare, I had suggested naming a new kitten Duck Toe two days before seeing this puzzle!

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