Friday, May 9, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Very late start this morning - I fell into a black hole of puzzle constructing last night and didn't get to sleep til late. I sat there in bed very inefficiently working and reworking and reworking a corner of a grid. Useless, pointless work that couldn't really go anywhere definitive without my being able to use my computer ... and yet I couldn't tear myself away. It's like some horrid sickness. I'm not sure I want to start constructing. Time just disappears in ways that I have experieenced since a. I used to play video games, and b. I used to troll used bookstores in Ann Arbor. It's a disturbing obsession. Do you know what it's like to have a corner of your puzzle worked out perfectly ... only to realize that you've got DVO as a three-letter "word"? And the D and V and O all run through 7-letter words, so changing any one of them destroys your grid? I'm sure I'll get better at it, but right now I just feel defeated. I was ready to make the entire corner out of words ending in -ERS, just to have Something even remotely passable. As of this morning, I'm not even sure what I have.

Today's puzzle - just right. Tough enough that I had to work for it, but not so tough that I fell into the black pit of Despair. The top remained blank for disturbingly long time. I had ITES (3D: Plural suffix with urban) and TESLA (19A: Weber per square meter) right off, but not much else. I correctly guessed SO SAD (8D: "Such a tragedy") then GALA (20A: Certain fund-raiser) then IMAGE (7D: Something to project) and was still in the dark about those long crosses. I figured the -MO- in 15A: One might have a stunt double (action movie) had to involve MOVIE, but I'd only ever heard of actors having stunt doubles, not entire MOVIES. I don't like the phrasing on that clue at all. I do, however, love the answers on top of and beneath ACTION MOVIE - in fact, the three of them are a nicely themed triad. ACTION MOVIEs can, in some instances, I suppose, be HAIR-RAISERS (1A: Terrifying tales), and they most certainly can involve SHELL CASINGs (17A: Bit of ballistic evidence), my favorite answer of the day.

NE went down quickly - solved all the long Downs from the bottom up, guessing SMALL HOURS after WEE WEE HOURS wouldn't fit at 12D: Predawn period, and then hacking at crosses. I don't even remember seeing the clue for DARK SECRET (13D: Potential reputation ruiner), and I'm not familiar with the term SUBSYSTEMS (14D: Secondary arrangements), though it seems fairly self-explanatory. The only iffy things about this quadrant are the gag-inducing PALSY (24A: Buddy-buddy), which I have only heard in a phrase followed by WALSY, and MAU (16A: Egyptian _____ (cat breed)), which I don't think I've ever seen. Had no clue about PASA (24D: Simon & Garfunkel's "El Condor _____"), but it all came together from crosses.

The central 15-letter answer was remarkably easy to get - or, I should say, the TEMPERATURE part was easy to get. My understanding of ROOM TEMPERATURE was that it was in the high 60s. Here's this strange and completely unverified bit of information from Wikipedia:

"For human comfort, desirable room temperature greatly depends on individual needs and various other factors. According to the West Midlands Public Health Observatory,[1] 21 °C (69.8 °F) is the recommended living room temperature, whereas 18 °C (64.4 °F) is the recommended bedroom temperature."

So when I saw 36A: The lower 70s, say, I didn't know what that first word could be. My guess: COOL. Now, this is silly, of course, as ... how could it be higher than ROOM TEMPERATURE and yet be defined as cool. I grew up in hot, hot country, and the lower 70s would have been considered quite COOL for much of the year. I'm just sayin' that ROOM wasn't on the table for me. And, of course, conveniently, ROOM and COOL share some letters, so it took me a bit to figure out my error. I would have had a Very terrible time in the SW if something AROUND hadn't been the only phrase my brain wanted for 26D: Rummage. Got the Ricky Nelson song easily (39A: "IT'S Late"), then figured out that the phrase in question was ROOT AROUND, and everything came together from there. I think I finished the puzzle in this quadrant.

Stem to stern:

  • 12A: Org. that called '60s strikes (SDS) - a very common crossword answer. Other xword stalwarts included ARB (18A: Market figure, briefly), TESLA, EELERS (23D: Trappers with pots), and OREM (41A: Home of Utah Valley State College). My Crossword Catch of the Day was PACA (53D: Cousin of a guinea pig), which longtime readers will recognize as an answer that took my head off more than a year ago. I haven't seen it since, but I caged that pseudo-guinea pig quickly anyway.
  • 21A: Organization originally called the Jolly Corks (Elks) - ELKS often appears in the grid as BPOE ... but you knew that. I think that in the history of name changes, this has to rank as one of the wisest and most dignified.
  • 25A: Where many lives are expended (arcade) - a flat-out genius clue that drove me crazy for a while. I was trying to think what kind of morbid answer this could be - COAL MINES? WAR ZONE? But no, it's an arena I've entered many times in my life - and where the lives expended are, thankfully, electronic, not human. In most games I can think of (back in the day) you would start out with three lives, and then you could earn more lives by scoring points. Pac Man and Donkey Kong, and possibly Frogger, worked that way (if memory serves, which, as always, it may not).
  • 29A: Bat shapers (lathes) - such a weird clue, but instantly gettable.
  • 35A: The 10 in 10/20: Abbr. (Oct.) - this is one of those clues that often throws me, but I had the "O" in place, so no problem.
  • 40A: Builder of a hanging nest (oriole) - my wife swears she saw one of these yesterday. She had me looking out the window trying to see into my across-the-street neighbors' trees. No luck. Just a bunch of uppity robins strutting around my lawn (as they have been for days - what are they up to?). I like that ORIOLE and ORIEL (46A: Projecting bit of architecture) are in the same puzzle, and so close together.
  • 47A: Jib used to give a boat more speed (genoa) - the "????????????" answer of the day. Seriously, you want me to know multiple kinds of jibs? I barely know what JIB is.
  • 57A: "Oklahoma!" bad guy (Jud) - all crosses. This guy needs his other "D" back. I love that "Oklahoma!" has an exclamation point built into its name. "You Must Shout Me!"
  • 42A: Kir ingredient (cassis) - crème de? Or just CASSIS. What is CASSIS? "A Eurasian current bearing blackberries." The word "Eurasian" makes me laugh. "Eurasian!" "No, you're Asian!" I haven't seen the word in forever, and then yesterday, I had the weird experience of seeing it twice.
  • 5D: "Doonesbury" journalist Hedley (Roland) - I blanked on this, but then when I had a few crosses, this guy's goofy face came instantly to mind.
  • 10D: Actress Morelli of "The Leopard," 1963 (Rina) - How many RINAs can you name? I could name none. Until today.
  • 25D: Yellowish-orange spread (apricot jam) - this sounded gross, like some kind of new-fangled fruity oleo, but no, it's pretty ordinary.
  • 28D: One passing notes? (ATM) - ATM has to be one of the most frequently tarted up answers in recent crossword puzzle history. It's such a boring box of thing, that constructors / editors (not just at the NYT) go out of their ways to hide it, clothe it, cross-dress it, whatever. The whole scene is vaguely amusing. [One passing notes?] is better than [Long green box?], IMOO.
  • 29D: 1960s TV western ("Laredo") - if you're going to give me second-rate TV from nearly half a century ago, at least make the clue sparkly.
  • 56D: Flying piscivores (erns) - My people! CAW! "Piscivores" is an awesome word. I am a piscivore, though not a carnivore. Or a chickenivore.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 9:09 AM  

CASSIS was Google inducing today.

Wasn't CASSIS KIR the former name of Muhammed Ali?


Orange 9:17 AM  

Those robins aren't strutting on your lawn—they're using their feet to pick up tiny seismic tremors from earthworms beneath the grass so they know where to be vermivorous (which I totally did not know was a real word, but it turns out to be one).

64° is far too cold for a bedroom because it becomes too daunting to crawl out from under the covers.

Unknown 9:26 AM  

I do enjoy the writing style and helpful review I find here. I wanted the JAM to be cheezwhiz again. Slowed by choosing hip over HEP. I am a big fan of Creme de Cassis, which is a black current liquor produced in France. It makes a pretty drink when mixed with white wine (usually Aligote) but is a stunner when mixed with champagne to make a Kir Royale.

The NY, London and Paris subways have one thing in common...a troupe of Andean pipe players doing El Condor Pasa...I'd rather be a sparrow than a snail. Oh, yes I would, if I only could.

You can see a Genoa sail on most lakes where sailing is loved and even on the Charles River in Cambridge. It hangs from the first mast on a two masted ship. The reason they make a ship go faster has been one of the most researched items in sailing.

Morgan 9:28 AM  

Is it wrong that I validate my own performance based on how you rate the puzzle? I rarely do as well on a Friday as I did on this one--I had the NW and SE within about 4 minutes, and I solved all but 4 letters in the NE. I'm glad to see you said it was a medium, and not an easy. :-)

I agree on the puzzle constructing. I submitted my first puzzle about a month ago and I'm waiting to hear back before I submit a GREAT Thursday puzzle I wrote. But I could easily spend 3 or 4 hours just staring at one section, only to find the best I can do for a 3 letter answer is OOO (which is better than DVO).

Barbara Bolsen 9:37 AM  

Utterly defeated by this one, even after a googlefest, couldn't get the mis south and SE. Phillysolver, I too wanted cheezwhiz for yellow-orange spread!

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

The first word I got was OCT, and worked through the east coast with some difficulty (had MOI instead of TOI [because I'm an egotist, I suppose] but there ain't no TEMPERAMURE. Unlike Dr. Parker, I guessed DARKSECRET and got SMALLHOURS from crosses.
Very enjoyable Friday puzzle.
Back to Le Grind, the j o b.

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

Some ideas:

Clue #__: New Age group, Hip-hop style? (A: D-VO)

Or you could go the obscure abbreviation route:

DVO Data Voice Outlet
DVO Davao, Philippines - Mati (Airport Code)
DVO Decimal Voltage Output
DVO Defense Visit Office
DVO Delaware Valley Opera
DVO Deployed Vehicle Operations
DVO Diffuse Viewing Only
DVO Digital Vision Optics
DVO Direct View Optics
DVO Diversity Office
DVO Domestic Violence Order
DVO Downtown Ventura Organization (Ventura, CA)
DVO Driver, Vehicle and Operator
DVO Dynamic Variable Ordering
DVO Dependant Value Object
DVO Digital Video Organizer
DVO Digital Video Output
DVO Distributed Virtual Object
DVO Dual Vga Output

janie 9:49 AM  

this one took a few passes and the over-night treatment but was utterly worth it!

musical-theatre trivia: original title for oklahoma! was (brace yerselves -- it's about as generic as they come) away we go..., based on the lynn riggs play green grow the lilacs. of the three, oklahoma! definitely gets my vote!

and yes, rex, do understand the constuctor obsession thang... gives me a whole new respect for the folks who do it on a daily basis and get the things published. yeow!



Anonymous 9:50 AM  

er...acronym. Acronym. Dang these uneditable blogger comments!

Parshutr 9:50 AM  
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Anonymous 9:58 AM  

jen went googling as all constructors do these days and got the on-line dictionary -- the one DVO that is most acceptable is Data Voice Outlet (DVO. You won't get there on your existing information, so do as the Romans do. Or did in DVI.

JannieB 10:01 AM  

Enjoyable puzzle - Got hairraiser off the two 'r's and was off to the races. For some reason I get the longer fills much more quickly than the obscure 5-letter stuff. I was really in the zone today - last fill for me was the cat - mainly because I had "still hours" for way too long. But even then, I have never heard of that breed. Much like the NW, the long fills in the SE have a loose connection - the electrician who installs the home theater in front of which we'll enjoy some snacks while watching an action movie. Very nice.

JannieB 10:04 AM  

Oh and Rex, add Rena Sofer to your list. She's an actress (Heroes, General Hospital, and a few other tv roles).

Wendy Laubach 10:11 AM  

I found this difficult but enjoyable, especially all the lovely long words. "SHELLCASING" was very nice.

I knew "JUD" from the terrific "Oklahoma!" number "Pore Jud is Dead," my favorite as a kid.

I had to google jib to get "GENOA." I was stuck on "TATTY" for lacelike, implausible as that now seems. It gave me "COLA" for the designer, but his name still doesn't mean anything to me, and "GETOA" for the sail, which didn't sound quite right. All I can say about "GENOA" is that it may ring the tiniest bell in the sailing context. Obviously I'm no sailer.

"ROOM TEMPERATURE" in "the 70s" was no problem here. The temperature outside is almost always higher than that, so for me to enjoy indoor temperatures of 68 degrees during the day and 64 degrees at night would require amazing expenditures of energy for air-conditioning.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Rex, just stick with the DVO entry and send it to the S'trib. C.C. and those guys'll eat it up like a pack of ravished dogs.

Is it cheating if you use your calculator to go through the various multiples of 151 until you get to a three letter Roman numeral equivalent? Never mind, you don't have to answer--I flunked the puzzle anyway. I stuck with STILLHOURS and never considered anything else, which wrecked any chance of me getting MAU, ARB or the prefix to ____SYSTEMS in the NE. And in the SW, for some reason I had FORT instead of PORT and ARIEL instead of ORIEL, which had me looking for AFRICAN something-or-other instead of APRICOTJAM. It's not the puzzle's fault, it's mine. I can accept that now. Actually it can probably be traced to my parents. They really screwed me up, man. My mom used to beat me with a coathanger if I missed any of the word-finds. So much pressure, man!

My favorite Roland is not Hedley but rather Warren Zevon's Headless Thompson-Gunner. (I never did get "Doonesbury." Is it actually funny?)

opustwotoo 10:42 AM  

I thought I was going to have a good time (like, on my watch) with this puzzle, but got killed in the NE. I haven't been puzzling long enough to have ever seen SDS, MAU, or ARB, so I was struggling with CHILLHOURS? BUPSYSTEMS? (perhaps an acceptable contraction of backup systems) and a few other inane choices.

I also struggled with RINA Morelli, (whom I've never heard of) and somehow though we were talking about RITA Moreno. Salvageable nonetheless.

I'm a sailor and the boats go in the lake this weekend, so I jumped on GENOA quickly, but if I were constructing I might be tempted to make it still sailor-related but a lot less technical by cluing it 'Home of Christopher Columbus'. Failing that, 'Kind of salami' might also work.

And living in Canada, many people have learned to save on energy costs by allowing room temperature to change by season. 21C (70F) in the winter and 23C (74F) in the summer means your furnace and airconditioner get a lot more time off.


opustwotoo 10:47 AM  

Oops. Sorry for the re-post. Not intentional.

Oops. Sorry for the re-post. Not intentional.

jae 10:48 AM  

Medium was my experience also. Got NW quickly with HAST, ROLAND, and IMAGE. SW was also smooth with HIP being my only misstep. A 50s Sinatra album gave me SMALLHOURS and DEISTS, OREM, TEMPERATURE and OCT gave me DARKSECRETS. Had CASA for PASA for a while because CLOSE seemed to fit for Buddy-Buddy. My problems were in SE where ROOM was hard to come up with for Rex's reasons. Also had TOPICINDEX off and on which caused me to erase ITS and PORT. INE and TINT further complicated the area. Liked this one a lot, you had to work it but it was quite doable.

Rex, if you could change DVO to EVO Bolivians everywhere would applaud you.

Bill D 10:49 AM  

My kind of puzzle - no obscure crapola, very little crosswordese, no ticky-tacky multiple two-letter words making up long answers, interesting and appropriate long answer pairs, clever cluing - full marks to Mr Page today!

I really tore through this one, a very fast Friday for me. Got a little too cocky on the long ones, immediately put in "Defamation" for 13D, but LATHES quickly set me right. Also had "...Demographic" at 36A for a bit. Toss-up between "Hip" and HEP at 58D. I have a good friend who calls all of his good friends, in a half-mocking tone, "PALSY", so I wanted it although I was reluctant. Last letter to go in was the "P" in SPATE/PACA; after running through the alphabet three times, I finally just stabbed it in - I'd heard of a Pica but not a PACA.

Great to come away from the puzzle humming Ricky Nelson tunes rather than "Red River Unger and the Saddlesores" from yesterday. Nice cluing for HRS (home runs) especially after our discussion earlier in the week. GENOA came to me after a while; nice clue alternative to the city. Is a SHELL CASING actually ballistic evidence? Wiki says gun ballistics is the study of weapon projectiles, and the casing is not strictly part of the projectile, but I guess the popular understanding of CSI-type "ballistics" includes casing analysis.

HOME THEATER, ELECTRICIAN, and PARTY SNACKS stacked at the bottom could be seen as related, similar to the top three long ones.

Blogging has really improved my solving - saw "Trappers with pots" and immediately wrote in EELERS, eg.

@Wade - I'm with you on Roland, The Headless Thompson Gunner, some of the greatest lyrics ever. As for "Doonesbury", yeah, it's funny, just not in Texas.

JC66 11:03 AM  

I was able to work through the whole puzzle from NW to NE to SE pretty quickly, for a Friday. But, having lived in NYC most of my life I loved
MILDTEMPERATURE too long. Then, after figuring out ATM, I replaced MILD with WARM and just stared at the puzzle for what seemed like an eternity until ARCADE came to light and the rest fell from there.


Thanks for the brief lyrics clip. I'll be humming the sog all day.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

I don't know about that Egyptian cat -- is it a mouser? Or unable to meow properly? Would rather have seen "half of" MAU MAU, the anti-European secret society in colonial Kenya... It would have gone nicely with DARK SECRET. And PALSY was weak without the other half, as Rex noted, not to mention NETTY was nutty for "like lace" -- I didn't like that.

But I was most irked by the clue at SW bottom: "multiple of CLI". Why not just "a month" for OCT, if one is going to allow such vagueness? ICK. On the other hand, I liked the LEICAS for "some cameras", and enjoyed the GENOA jib! Not so much GOMER as "TV marine", and PORT would have been more pleasant as a drink or cruise destination than as a dull "computer connection".

Sailed through it, anyway.. thanks to little gimmes like "pore" JUD, EMI and PACA. I'm not sure who cares for COLA as a "mixer option" these days though, -- just a twisty bit of misdirection? These were very impressive long stacks, anyway.


RodeoToad 11:14 AM  

Bill d, lucky for you I'm not bright enough to detect when I'm being insulted.

I think I meant "famished" in the earlier post, not "ravished."

Barb in Chicago, I just saw your late post to yesterday's puzzle, and I must say I'm hurt. Don't you know by now to come to me with all your questions and searches for personal fulfillment that are Willie-Nelson-related? It's pretty much all I was put on this earth for.

Mainly I'm trying to see if I can get back to the blue/orange world and, if so, whether it will give me greater freedom of typography. Typing in this little postage stamp drives me nuts.

chefbea 11:21 AM  

@wade I too used my calculator for 62A
I remember in high school having a science teacher whose name was Judd. At the end of the year when the seniors had skit day we sang "Poor Jud is dead, a bunsen burner lights his head"

Lets all get together for a gala. I'll supply the party snacks

Joon 11:31 AM  

strange puzzle for me today--tore through it, relatively speaking, but at the end of the day i had (let me count) eight bad crossings! yowzers.

STILLHOURS? yup. (TAU? IRB? i guess. i probably should have thought of ARB.)

EDGEIN? anybody else get caught there? that gave me GE_OD for the jib, and i was just guessing, so... TETTY, sure. i don't know if NETTY is much more of a word. it also gave me G_A_E for rush, and i had No Clue on _ACA or _EAK. i believe i filled in GOAPE/OACA/PEAK. at least i amused myself.

last but not least, i decided that "word in a CROSSINDEX" was NEE, and wasn't bothered by the fact that CASNIS meant nothing to me. i didn't really think about CASSIS, which does mean slightly more than nothing to me.

can't remember finishing a puzzle and having eight "mistakes" before. that's gotta be some sort of record.

things that were totally obscure to me included:

PACA/TEAK/MAU/GENOA, as mentioned.
LEICAS. huh?
RINA and ROLAND. if you say so.
PALSY... um, no, not even if you do say so. likewise NETTY.
ORIEL. i had to guess on the E. based on the letters, though, this looks like a good one to tuck away for future reference.
ANC. does this stand for "ancient"? really? african national congress, yes. ancient? color me SKE.

George NYC 11:32 AM  

How does one go about constructing a puzzle? Is there a place that randomly produces a grid and you fill in words and clues from there? I have some time to waste while watching the Players Championship golf this weekend....

Doug 11:36 AM  


If you are using Windows and IE 7.0, hold Ctrl when you click on the Comments link. The postage stamp becomes a whole new tab, full screen. Did we not have a whole day of geeky discussion on this a few months ago. (Hint, let's not do it again.)

Had just googled some IT terms and read about the NODE, which I "nailed" as a newly annointed tech god. Of course it was PORT and the SW was like swiss cheese afterwards. Think CROSSINDEX would have opened it up, but I have filled BOX where inDEX should have been, etc. etc. you know the story....

Bill D 11:58 AM  
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Bill D 12:01 PM  

@Wade - hey, you catcha on quick...

No insult really intended - I was just going for the laugh line, and Texas is such a big target; bit of a cheap shot, I admit. In truth, I don't guffaw at Doonesbury too often. My daily prints it on the editorial page as they feel it's not as funny as "The Born Loser", our local-favorite comic according to polls.

BTW, I think you meant "famished" too, but I loved "ravished"!

Ladel 12:16 PM  


I always thought robins found their buried food by looking for tiny motions in the grass, now that I know that they use their feet too, I understand why they always get the worm.

Use your charms to tell Rex to stop beating up on himself, constructing is a whole different realm from solving, and plotted on graph paper they may never intersect.

RodeoToad 12:21 PM  

True, the early bird gets the worm. But the second mouse gets the cheese.

Mike 12:40 PM  

@George in NYC
If you just want to try your hand at construction, just open an old puzzle in across lite, clear your answers and fill from there. (I'm sure this violates the constructor code but for me it's a good place to start.)

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

Can someone please explain how 10/20 = OCT

Tim Gillam 1:43 PM  

I got room temperature with only one cross (the A). I thought 72 degrees was well known as the optimal "comfortable" temperature indoors, and Google backs me up.

Anonymous 1:44 PM  

Are the WEE WEE HOURS the time when those guys in the Flomax ads have to get up in the night?


dk 1:44 PM  

SUBSYSTEMS (seems odd) and CASSIS (wanted cherry or rasin or..)caused a delay.

I had mildtemprature then warm and then ROOM. The indepensible ATM was the give away.

@orange one word: vermacelli

"LATHES reminds me of a book by La guin" Tom said dreamily.

The NW and SE, and OREOLES came in a flash. I would love to know how Jolly Corks morphed to ELKS.

My vote: one fun puzzle. Thank you mr. Page.

Manoj 1:46 PM  

Rex, Phillysolver,

I hate to be picky, but surely for cassis, you did not mean current, but currant.

dk 1:47 PM  

@rifka - Think date as in: October 20th

miriam b 2:04 PM  

I scanned the clues quicxly before starting this puzzle, and, cat person that I am, filled in MAU immediately. A beautiful feline.

Then I tried for a while to put GRIMMsomething into 1A, but could see that this was folly. I hopped all over the puzzle pinball-machine fashion, and despite a few snags finished in good shape. The only Kenneth designer that came to mind was LANE(jewelry designer) which gave me LOLA as the mixer alternative. I thought, What's she doing at that mixer, anyway? She's supposed to be at the Copacabana. Pretty soon COLE came out of nowhere to replace LANE. And that was that.

JUD's last name was Fry, or Frye.

Bill from NJ 2:18 PM  

Had the strangest experience with this puzzle . .

For the clue HEDLEY, I filled in . . . HEDLEY! It prevented me from getting this puzzle until the next morning because I knew the answer was right.


I blew thru the Midlands like a knife thru warm butter and veered off into the NE, where the LATHES/PASA crossing gave me PALSY (ick) which helped me break open the triple stack.

I slogged thru the South and called it a night.

Halfway through my second cup of coffee, I discovered my HEDLEY problem and was able to solve this in about half an hour.

Nice symmetry with the stacks in the NW and SE

Anonymous 2:32 PM  


"But I was most irked by the clue at SW bottom: "multiple of CLI". Why not just "a month" for OCT, if one is going to allow such vagueness?"

Not vague at all. In fact, that's the Only possible answer that can fit in 3 spaces. Try it:

/opus2 (blogger won't let me log in)

JannieB 2:36 PM  

@miriamb - "pinball fashion" is a wonderful image - it describes my solving style, especially on Klahn days! Thanks!

JannieB 2:36 PM  
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Anonymous 2:36 PM  

I really liked how challenging this puzzle was, bec when things finally fell they fell hard.
However for that computer thing, I went thru (in this order) PLUG, WIRE, CORD, PORT...I felt like I was doing one of those laddergrams, bec at one point or another any of those words had at least one letter that was right!

APRICOTJAM was the most difficult for me, partly bec I had NED.

I corrected RETTY to NETTY sort of last second, thinking maybe GENOA was a sail bec it was maybe somehow referring to or named after the types of sails on Christopher Columbus's ships?

Knew PACA from Scrabble, but not before I had tried a one-l LAMA
(insert Ogden Nash poem here!)

I think you would recognize EL CONDOR PASA if not by name but by subway as Phillysolver pointed out. Not to date myself but love that S & G song as a child...

Maybe that is why LAREDO was my Mrs Miniver Moment last night!

RodeoToad 2:38 PM  

bill from nj, you made milk come out my nose.

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

ps I also did a laddergram for COOL than GOOD before getting ROOM.

As for constructing, yes, keep those tales coming so even Monday constructors can get some props!
THAT is precisely what makes it so hard, is that EVERY three letter word has to be totally gettable!
Change one letter, it can change 8 words!

PuzzleGirl 3:04 PM  

I was very happy for a Google-free Friday, but did end up with one wrong letter. I originally had FALSE for "buddy-buddy" and when I changed the E to Y for SUBSYSTEMS, I didn't notice that FALSY didn't make sense. Damn.

SE fell first for me. I thought to myself, "No way ELECTRICIAN fits, it's too easy." But it did, and away I went. Northern California was a little tough, I had the JAM part, the AROUND part, and the INDEX part, but had to work for the rest.

Anyone else notice that we got to see Tesla, Rush, and Poison in the puzzle today? And I think I'll just call the constructor Jimmy Page. Heh.

@wade: Looks like you're blue and orange now. Congratulations. And I meant to tell you yesterday: If your need for a secretary evaporated when you learned how to print out your own envelope, I really hate to tell you this, but you probably never had a Really Good Secretary.

Unknown 3:05 PM  

@ andreacm

GENOA is near the place (and named regatta) where Dr. Curry proved that an overlapping sail to the jib created a faster ship. Some say it should be called a Curry, but it seems the name was too spicy.

SethG 3:17 PM  

D'Oh! /opus2 stole my glory--I was all set to point out that only MDX would work. I understand why it's not true for most people, but know that some of us could enter that immediately. Now "Literary monogram", those clues are truly vague...

I really enjoyed this puzzle, and it's my own fault for starting when I was exhausted last night that I had to continue it this morning. The last thing I remember before falling asleep was trying to figure out why DEISTS wouldn't fit when I had xExSTS. Oh.

Liked jae's suggestion to change it to EVO, especially if we could clue it via his sweater.

Never had problems before, but Blogger swallowed my comment yesterday. Trust that I was brilliant as ever, and you all are a little worse off for missing my sparkling contribution.

Barbara Bolsen 3:22 PM  

@Wade, I bow to your Willie-related expertise. The Red Headed Stranger album holds a special place in my heart.

Bill D 3:30 PM  

Andrea - I watched the Shortz movie and saw some constructors on TV showing me how easy it was to construct a puzzle, with everything falling into place so neatly. So I tried making a puzzle for my aviation magazines, and found it impossible. And we have access to a whole lot of three-letter combos (AAM, EDO, PBY, PZL, RWD, TBF, etc) that are mundane to us but would never pass muster in the real world. (Sorry, Rex, no DVOs, but interestingly REX would work for us.) So, Andrea, kudos to you and all your ilk!

mac 3:36 PM  

Great work, Mr. Page, it was a great puzzle. I had a hard time getting a toe-hold, eelers ended up being my first word. after that it went fairly smoothly with hold-ups like hath - hast, mild - room, Leikas / Leicas. The 9 top letters in the NE were the last to fall. The clue for 62 could have been Acura, and what kind of a sail is a spinnaker, isn't that also attached to the first mast?
I think I haven't used Google at all this week, but I'm sure I'll pay for that tomorrow....

Unknown 3:58 PM  

@ sethg

We did miss you and your changing icon. I am now worried about imsdave1. Perhaps the orange and blue universe has sprung a black hole. Noam are you there?

Anonymous 4:13 PM  

Who blogs the Sun puzzle? You say I should know this. I tell you I do not. Until this week, I did only the NYTimes x-word and contributed only to this board--hell, I sold my house and moved onto this board. But today I did the Sun puzzle, and we are not amused with 59 across. Thus, I ask you, who bloggeth the Sun?

And I'm giving up on that orange/blue nonsense. It keeps telling me my password's wrong, then it tells me to type in some wavery letters. It's like a freakin' DWI test.

PG,I'd respond elsewhere but can't find an alternate way to do it on your blog site. So I have to defend the honor of my past secretaries, all three of them top-notch and deeply loved and sorely missed and often-consulted, here.

Ulrich 4:42 PM  

After my usual martini before dinner (gin--of course; straight up--of course; stirred or shaken--I don't give a @#$%^) and some Malbec during dinner, I was in no shape to tackle this one last night--had to try it between chores today and managed to complete w/o googling inspite of various unknowns: this is really a great method if you do not go for speed!!

And if you know your Roman numbers, 62A was almost a gimme--took me a minute to figure out with pencil and paper. I guess I'm in a good mood today--sober, too.

Bill D 4:45 PM  

Wade - Ya gotta admit it was a constructor's challenge to get today's Sun 59A to fit. I wanted SUBMARINER until I realized that was Marvel...

As for your question, Montgomery Burns once blocketh the sun - maybe Rex knows who bloggeth it...

As for the orange/blue thing, if I don't go the Google Blogger Sign-In first I can't even get this site to load! Sheesh!

PuzzleGirl 4:56 PM  

Wade: Pete Mitchell blogs the Sun puzzle here.

Unknown 5:02 PM  

At the next ACPT, I will hold a class on sailing. Lesson I will be a review of the following sail types and their uses:
Course . Driver · Extra · Genoa · Gennaker · Jib · Lateen · Mainsail · Moonsail · Royal · Skysail · Spanker · Spinnaker · Spritsail · Staysail · Studding · Topgallant · Topsail · Trysail . Moonraker . Skyscraper . Flanker . Lugsail . Ringtail . Ringsail . Turbosail . Rotorsail and a number of others I don't remember right now.

...and manoj is correct, the current spelling is currant.

Anonymous 5:02 PM  

@bill d
on behalf of my ILK, thanks!

The other problem of course is working out ALL the kinks, submitting it and getting back a link to a copy of one that is now in the database from 1997 from some obscure publication where 2 of the four themes are marginally similar and being told no thank you even if half the fill is from things from the present century!

And don't get me started on my HELLO KITTY story! (semi-inside joke to Rex)

SethG 5:30 PM  


Just be glad I don't mess with people by doing something like this!

Sorry if my changing icons confuse anyone--Blogger doesn't let me have different profile photos for commenting here than I have for my own blogs, so sometimes you guys get stuck with decisions I've made elsewhere.

I usually read Rex by reading the individual page for each day's entry (click on the entry title to get there...), which shows me the entry and all comments on a single normal-sized page. That page doesn't show profile photos, but does show the proper capitalization of commenters' names. (So I know joon is Joon, mac is mac, and (W/w)ade can't make up his mind.)

(who knew 59A in the Sun, didn't stop to think before spitting out MDX, and is thankful for the crosses he knew for ORIEL)

Unknown 6:15 PM  

Rex, where do I report identity theft!!!

Sethg... as always, entertaining.

fergus 6:55 PM  

I asked in two classes today, and none of my students had heard of Gomer Pyle. I was quite agog -- how could a generation of kids grow up ignorant of Gomer and Sgt. Carter, Miss Bunny and LouAnn Poubee?

Rex Parker 7:10 PM  


Weird ... I had Gomer PYLE in the grid I'm constructing today, until about an hour ago, when I had to reconstruct the entire corner he was in. I finished the grid and then found that I had repeated a word! Actually, I had [WORD] and [WORD + other word] both in the grid. I could have reclued [WORD], but that would have been putting lipstick on a donkey, so I tore the damed [WORD] out and started that quadrant over from near scratch.

I'm happy to say the rewrite was more than worth it. Grid is being given its first critical once-over as we speak...


JannieB 7:15 PM  

Did anyone watch ER last night? A rare appearance by our favorite Rae (Charlotte). Nice to know she can still find work, other than the big royalties I'm sure she gets for her many xword appearances.

janie 7:16 PM  

>If you are using Windows and IE 7.0, hold Ctrl when you click on the Comments link. The postage stamp becomes a whole new tab, full screen.

this is true for firefox on both mac (option for a new window) and pc (new tab) as well. fwiw.



Leon 7:17 PM  

Thanks RP for the ERN card, it came in today's mail to my alter ego James. I am happy to support a site that has improved my crossword skills and brought so many smiles.

@Byron- LOL at the Flomax comment. I'll never think of Sinatra and Wee Small Hours again without chuckling.

Michael Chibnik 7:41 PM  

Nice puzzle -- just the right degree of difficulty for a Friday, The few answers I never heard of (e.g. mau, genoa) were gettable by fair crosses. I had "gas" for "fill up on" for a while, but it never seemed quite right.

Unknown 8:04 PM  

Did anyone else fill in UPTOWNMANHATTAN for 36 across (north of 59th is the 70's)? I thought it was a great clue, and was frustrated upon realizing it was the prosaic ROOMTEMPERATURE. Devilishly, the answers share 3 letters.

mac 9:13 PM  

Thank you Philly, I can't wait for the seminar. I'm sure I will be so nervous about the tournament I won't retain a lot....
Rex, how exciting to be constructing. How long do you think it takes an experienced constructor to put a Thursday or Friday puzzle? It must also be tough to hear from Will that there will be some editing.
@ jannie b.: I spotted Charlotte, and I want her kitten.

mac 9:14 PM  

How come my tree disappeared?

mac 9:18 PM  

There have been a few other odd things going on on this site. I just noticed a lot of other pictures faded away, and now they are back.

Anonymous 9:34 PM  

rex parker, you da man.

Anonymous 11:10 PM  

Damn it, I tanked the NE because of those three wee words whose last letters I didn't know, leaving me with ___systems, which I parsed as ___sy stems, because, "arrangements." Get it? So secondary arrangements are pansy stems, like some kind of consolation prize bouquet you present when you really can't be bothered to give the very best. But then I felt offended on behalf of pansies, which while small and weak as flowers go, are pretty cute, and look like monkeys. Up with pansies, I said to myself, and refused to finish the grid.

fergus 12:28 AM  

Green Mantis, I like your uniquely interpretative solving style. I can see how you think when you write.

fergus 1:18 AM  

Rex, crisscrossing a fine connexion

Glad to be of happenstance help. I mess around with construction, too, yet I usually move on to water color or fountain pen when it is time to b productive.

xwd_fiend 5:20 AM  

Improved on last week's effort - 46 mins, with two letters wrong - I'd decided that lace was "natty" and had no clue about the TV Marine or designer - so went for the US/French "GI mer" as a 'hit and hope' answer. Might make a good team with Rex, as PASA and GENOA were two of my earliest answers. Enjoyed seeing through 'flying piscivores' and also thought of 'something cheese' before jam.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

meanwhile, back in syndication land...
Hedley was the first thing I entered, not that it helped at first. This stuck me as hysterical because I read through the Dilbert thread from the sidebar yesterday.

I meander when I solve, and tho I always start in the NW I can quickly find myself in the SE with only a scant trail of breadcrumbs to mark my way.

Apricot jam is my fave, so I thought it was wrong - what do shrinks call it? transferance, or something.

Speaking of syndication, I know I could do it, no pun intended I think, on the computer and start yesterday, but I'm an old fashioned girl and like to curl up with my newspaper and a cup o' joe to start the morning right. I never complained until I started coming to this blog.

Had to LOL several times today. The spawn have deserted me for the summer, so no one to think I was nuts for it.


PS - we used to have pyracantha(sp?) bushes in our front yard when I was a kid. The robins would arrive every year, eat the berries and get drunk as lords. Lots & lots of robins. The word must have been out where to find the party.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

@Rex - if your puzzle problem can take EVO instead of DVO, a clue for it could be "Dog Food." Innova EVO is a recent high food value one that a lot of my friends like.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

I also have to do it in my newspaper with my cup of coffee - and in pen. It's just my thing.

I like to come up with my own rating and compare it with Rex's We're usually in agreement, but I thought today's was super easy. Just on that wavelength, I suppose. I immediately thought of HAIR RAISERS and was off and running, though I had a brief slow-down in California.

I was glad my state bird (and favorite team) is the ORIOLE(s). Otherwise I might not have known they have hanging nests.

Oh, I also didn't like the cluing for ACTION MOVIE. I wanted Action Hero.

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

Maybe its because math is (was?) my field, the Roman number clue was easy. CLI ends in"one"-what times 1 can equal something ending in 0? Obviously 0 is the only possibility, and 10 times CLI is the first possibility-and it fit 3 spaces. Did I make this sound too hard-it only took about 2 seconds to do!
Can't understand the problems opening up the Comments-on my Mac I simply click of the word, and there I am-nice new window I can expand to my heart's content.
Happy puzzling, Rex.

embien 7:44 PM  

6 weeks later:
Not that anyone cares at this late date, but this was the hardest puzzle I think I've ever done and completed successfully (no Googles, no bad crosses).

My first solve was CASSIS, since I used to drink kirs when I was in France installing a computer. Still have most of a case of Cassis left in my garage.

It took a while, but once ARCADE revealed itself to me (my Mrs. Minniver moment), the SW fell (I initially wanted CALICO...something for 25d: Yellowish-orange spread, as I was thinking of calico cats). Blame it on Chairman MAU.

And who is this RINA person? And what, pray tell, is "The Leopard"? I was going to movies in 1963 but I've never heard of either the actress or the film in that clue. Totally gotten with crosses.

RodeoToad 7:51 PM  

Embein,I'm betting your library fines are astronomical.

embien 11:34 PM  

Sorry, I'm a bit dense. Library fines? I don't get it.

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

Haven't you ever used

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