Monday, July 21, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Add an "N" after an "S" - in familiar phrases, resulting in wacky phrases, which are clued

Do not try this at home. Only the best constructors should risk such a tired, worn-out type of theme (in this case, addaletter). Ms. Lempel fills her grids with smooth peanut-buttery goodness. No owies, no cracked teeth to deal with. Gorgeous. Smooth. Perhaps not memorable, but about as good a Tuesday as I've seen for a while (see Wade's comments last Wednesday about Tuesday - the black sheep of the crossword family ... speaking of which, I saw a black sheep today ... but back to puzzle). Five theme answers, some of them amusing. A couple of cool features (including fraternal twins THEDA (6A: Film vixen Bara) and THETA (31A: Letter between eta and iota). Can't ask for much more from my Tuesday.

[I call this one "Man With Weird Hat Points At Mountains While Adorable Girl Ignores Him"]

Theme answers:

  • 18A: Competitive noshers' event? (sNack race)
  • 23A: One cured of a sleep disorder? (sNore loser)
  • 35A: Sarcastic comment? (sNide line)
  • 48A: Brushoff from the Ottomans? (Turkey sNub) - best of the lot
  • 53A: Terrible-twos tantrums? (baby sNits)

Speaking of terrible-twos - have I mentioned that we've spent the past three days in the presence of a not-quite-two-year-old? It's true. Check it out:

The tall one is our daughter, while the short one is my wife's ... sister. It's true. In a way. Wife's stepmom adopted Brittany because Brittany's mom (in the extended family) couldn't take care of her. So my wife has a sister over forty years younger than she is. A stocky, curious, beaming, adorable sister, I might add.

Today was much more WINTRY (4D: Cold and raw) down here in NZ than it has been of late, which basically means that it rained aggressively for a few hours. Now it's semi-lovely again, and still far warmer than our winters back home. Did you know there's a kind of OWL (59A: Round-faced flier) called the "morepork"? I pointed to its picture in a NZ bird book and asked my wife "You know what this owl wants?" My wife grinned at me like I was an 8-year-old in need of being humored.

I love the art of ROY Lichtenstein (58D: Pop artist Lichtenstein), but today ROY is kinda freaking me out. Like ... he's only in the puzzle once, but because of the weird R-O-Y traffic jam up in the NW, it feels like he's all over the place.

The Rest:

  • 17A: "2, 4, 6, 8 - Who do we appreciate?," e.g. (chant) - wanted CHEER. Last time I heard this CHANT chanted to its conclusion, I was 11 years old and on a soccer field.
  • 22A: Iraq's second-largest city (Mosul) - amazing what a war will do to the puzzle viability of a city.
  • 33A: Pupil surrounder (iris) - OK, we need a word for the horrible "-er" words that appear only in xword clues (i.e. "surrounder"). I am going to make a push soon for the use of SPOOR as substitute for "crosswordese." SPOOR is perfect for a number of reasons - it's crosswordese itself (or at least borderline). And, like crosswordese, it helps you reach your goal but it's basically shit.
  • 37A: Glad rival in the kitchen (Ziploc) - second time we've seen this answer this month, I think. It's a great little 6-letter word. Later in the week, this clue would not have included "in the kitchen."
  • 57A: Hole-making tool (auger) - not a word I ever use. Where "hole-making" is concerned, I tend to rely on the AWL. I confuse AUGER and AUGUR (unsurprisingly).
  • 60A: Daisylike bloom (aster) - Beautiful spoor. Suffixing "-like" to words is also a very crossword cluey thing to do.
  • 61A: Low-tech office recorder (steno) - I started watching "Mad Men" (TV show) on the plane over from S.F. I think there are STENOs on that show (it's set in the advertising world of the early 60s).
  • 64A: On edge (testy) / 48D: On edge (tense) - traveling while sick can make you either one of these. Somehow, we have all survived with a minimum of testiness.
  • 2D: Biofuel option (ethanol) - Still seems like a mythical fuel to me. If we use all the arable land to feed cattle and cars ... what are we going to, you know, eat? Besides cattle. And maybe cars.
  • 5D: French composer Erik (Satie) - gorgeous music. I like to plug him every chance I get.

  • 9D: Remodeler's planning (decor) - I had COLOR :(
  • 44A: Newspaper columnist Goodman (Ellen) - I know her name. I don't know why.
  • 11D: Like some tickets and Western pioneers (scalped) - one of the more outlandish clues in recent memory. Gruesome. Funny.
  • 19D: Fraternity recruit (rushee) - one of those idiotic words that ends -ee when it should end -er. My college roommate rushed a frat. Didn't that make him a rusher?
  • 21D: Church official (cleric) - I had something else here at first, and now I have no idea what that could have been.
  • 23D: Parts of P.O. labels (sts.) - possibly the worst thing in the grid.
  • 24D: Roman poet banished by Augustus (Ovid) - banished to Tomi on the Black Sea for "crimen et carmen" (crime and song). He somehow degraded the emperor's daughter ... it's all very hazy. I love Ovid this much (my hands are spread Wide apart).
  • 25D: Acapulco agreement ("Si, seƱor") - more outlandishness. Good stuff.
  • 31D: Sherpa shelter (tent) - such a simple answer; yet I had YURT.
  • 34D: Headgear fit for a queen (diadem) - TIARAS would have fit
  • 36D: Tap mishap (leak) - I was imagining Fred Astaire taking a terrible spill

  • 37D: Last of 26 (zee) - down here: ZED
  • 49D: Moonshine ingredient (yeast) - Not what I would have guessed. Had no idea this was true. You know what also contains yeast: VEGEMITE (delicious). I'm a total convert. We'll be bringing big jars back with us to the states. Vegemite and manuka honey and apples are all I've been eating for breakfast here. Dreamy.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS following up on the video SethG posted yesterday, re: crazy NZ potato chip flavors, here is a photo of my daughter enjoying one of the featured brands, which she stumbled onto completely by chance in her kids' meal box at a local cafe:

PPS A New Zealand music triptych. I had some silverbeet tonight (it's like swiss chard, I think). Anyhoo, it reminded me of an album of the same name by The Bats, a Dunedin-based group I listened to a Lot in grad school (thanks, Kathy):

Split Enz featured Tim and Neil Finn. Neil went on to found Crowded House (a hugely underrated band - "Temple of Low Men" is one of my favorite albums, ever). Their songwriting is wry and thoughtful and sometimes funny, and their sense of melody is unparalleled in pop music. Here's an early Split Enz video - "Six Months in a Leaky Boat" (it's got a LONG nautical intro - be patient):

And here's Neil doing "Don't Dream It's Over" live:

And here's Anna Coddington, who seems to be the Next Big Thing in NZ pop music. Here's a radio interview and in-studio performance. I find her incredibly charming (in the interview there are references to Bic Runga and Anika Moa, both very big singer-songwriters down here).


Anonymous 3:40 AM  

wow, i had to post, just bec it's midnight here in SF and it's prob Wed already in NZ and everyone is asleep in NY, the city that never sleeps, so I get to be first for once!

Damn! I wish I had something to say about this puzzle...

um. Maybe you had CURATE before CLERIC, I did...

I can't stand answers like BABYSNITS.

ok. I got nothing. Happy Voyage!

Anonymous 4:50 AM  

Technology problems belied almost everything I just tried to post ... which said Yippee! I'm also very excited. I'm a Phnom Penh puzzler, usually get only the Wednesday puzzle in the daily paper, about sixteen years behind, and have hithertofore only been able to post anonymously and way out of sync, because of dodgy connections. Now I have a wonderful connection and can stay up to date with both puzzles and blogs. What an enormous relief for everyone.
Sadly, nothing to say on my first Tuesday puzzle. Nice. Easy. Nervous about my first weekend ...

Barry G. 7:02 AM  

Morning, folks!

Fairly easy puzzle for me as well. A few missteps (CHEER for CHANT and YURT for TENT), but those took care of themselves quickly enough.

I was surprised that nobody balked at 44A (ELLEN Goodman). I know who she is since I'm a Boston Globe reader and she's a Boston Globe columnist. Is her stuff syndicated elsewhere, or do you guys just really know your Boston Globe columnists?

Anonymous 7:41 AM  

Ellen is a great columnist and I've read her for years in the International Herald Tribune.

Anonymous 7:48 AM  

Give me a "S" Give me a "P" Give me an "O" Give me an "O" Give me a "R!" What have you got? SPOOR!!!

Parshutr 8:12 AM  

Most fun on a Tuesday morning possible (with clothes on). This puzzle had only a couple of groaners, and crosswordese (a perfectly good word...we don't need to misuse SPOOR or we'll never track down the right answers) like AERO (nautical leader)...but even that was lovable, since I never saw the clew. Or clue.

CY 8:35 AM  

What's with all the SPOOR hatred? I don't know half the words that come up in these crosswords, including SNEE, SKIRR, OYER, SMEWS, OBOLS, etc., just from Sunday's, but "spoor" is a fairly normal word to me. I've seen it (outside crosswords) quite a few times.

This one seemed easy for a Tuesday: I found it easier than Monday's.

PS- Your daughter is very cute.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

I had lots of trouble, starting with CHEER for 17A, ORATION for 3D, SANDS for 15A, YURT for 31D, and OAKLIES!? for 11D. Eventually I got a rhythm, but not one of my best.

Orange 9:16 AM  

That's a cute picture of you cuddled up on the couch with your sister-in-law. Do the Kiwis know what your Red Sox shirt means?

Unknown 9:17 AM  

I Wonder why I did enter zed for ZEE, but it was a lot easier to fix than cheer for CHANT. You know a dvd also has a rpm, but we no longer care about these things. I just realized that cds and dvds are about to become as old hat as 78s, LPs and 45s. Which reminds me of a true story of a friend who had to rent a truck to haul some supplies for a DYI project. He asked his 12 year old daughter to roll down the window as they headed out. She gave up after a minute and he had to explain a hand crank. She exclaimed. why would they do it that way? A button is much better.

Does anyone else know what a THETA burger is? That one may even stump foodie and chefbea.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

RE: "11D: Like some tickets and Western pioneers (scalped) - one of the more outlandish clues in recent memory. Gruesome. Funny." - Absolutely agree! Loved this clue.

Jeff 9:40 AM  

I found this to be a most enjoyable Tuesday puzzle. The theme was just right. Satie, Goodman, Lichtenstein, Kazan and Bara are folks one is likely to have heard of (Ellen Goodman is syndicated in the AZ Republic). Looking back over the fill, there are some nice fresh words (AZTEC, ORATORY, WINTRY, SLEAZY, ENAMEL), and even a new one for me that was gettable from the crosses (DIADEM). I think the only thing I didn't really care for was STS (is that STampS? STreetS? STickinesS? SomeThingelSe?)

A+, Lynn!

janie 9:48 AM  

look forward to your eventual return home, rex, but in the meantime am lovin' the posts and pix from down under! sounds like this has been a superb trip giving you all the rejuvenation-type benefits a real change of pace, environment, etc., can provide.

re: ellen goodman. for *many* years (no longer now) she was also syndicated in the baltimore sun, my hometown newspaper.



p.s. "thank you for the music" -- so to speak!

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

78's and 45's also have speeds measured in rpms. A better clue might have been "record speed" but maybe too tough for a Tuesday?
Thought there would be complaints re the political correctness of "scalped." But no.

JannieB 9:55 AM  

I must confess that there have been other puzzles by Ms. Lempel that I've enjoyed more. When I finished this one, I was cranky - but it was my own fault, Initially, I thought the theme was one of those replace the vowel/ladder type puzzles but when we got to the turkey snub that idea turned south. And yet, on second glance, only two of the "SN" words share a vowel. It just seemed sort of garbled until I came here and saw what she was really doing.

As always from this constructor, the cluing is fresh and the fill is reasonably spoor-free. Loved the clue for "meows" and "steno". I already had oratory so didn't get caught in the cheer/chant trap. I've heard of Ellen Goodman too, but just don't remember the context. The other names were all old friends.

Definitely an above-average Tuesday.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

@jeff STS is the abbr for STATES, which is certainly not often seen as a plural abbr - usually ST is used as part of a clue.

Nice puzzle that moved pretty smoothly after one glitch in NE - originally had BASRA instead of MOSUL crossing just off the S, and having seen both answers often enough I just went with my first instinct. Getting ENAMEL resolved that.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

Really, aren't we all 8 year-olds in need of being humored? At least we men?

PuzzleGirl 10:37 AM  

I zipped through this puzzle faster than a typical Monday and was feeling pretty good about myself. Then I remembered that you just never know what you're gonna get with Tuesday. I think my only misstep was AUGUR for AUGER. I'm with Rex, though -- it's all AWL for me (...y'all). The theme actually helped me, which is odd. Usually I don't pay any attention to the theme on Monday and Tuesday.

I'll be chuckling all day about the picture of Rex pointing at the mountain and his daughter ignoring him.

The Schwab 10:48 AM  

Your local fraternity rush chair here. We just call them rushes. The technical term is PNMs (Potential New Members).

-The Schwab

Two Ponies 10:57 AM  

Besides adoring the clue for scalped (it ties in with my blog nickname) I also liked the clue for bow. Every once in a while the Tuesday child behaves properly.
@ Wade How's the office coming along?
Thanks Rex for the travelogue. NZ is officially on my short list of destinations.

Shamik 10:59 AM  

I must so not be awake because this one took me longer than my usual Tuesday times...or else I'm dawdling just because I can.

I don't know Ellen Goodman, but then it's been awhile since I picked up a newspaper.

YURT instead of TENT. ANTSY instead of TENSE. And RENEGES was like trying to make a word with kids' blocks and you keep turning the block over and over and over again to get the right letter.

No googles. No wrong letters. But it was a decent Tuesday-er.

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

I really like the wacky, juvenile humor of today's theme. For me, there is a Lewis Carroll feel to it.

My personal favorite is BABYSNIT. I can almost see it. And hear it.

The theme answers also remind me of the word "fnord" from The Illuminatus!Trilogy.


Anonymous 11:06 AM  

@Philly re Theta Burgers: Sure, I know what they are...since you defined them last night chez JimH!

JannieB 11:08 AM  

Couldn't the P.O. labels also mean Streets???

Bill D 11:20 AM  


Aha! No sooner do I mention the dreaded "ones where they slip two letters into a 'common' phrase to make a cutesy/lame answer! (tm)" yesterday than we get same, albeit with only one added letter, today. I hope Omnie paid attention. As noted, the better ones have five answers associated with all five vowels; Lynn missed this by the "E" (two "Is"). The best have the five vowels in alphabetical order.

I did this one Downs Only, so I had "PLEDGE" in place of RUSHEE for a long time - much better answer, I think. Doing the puzzle this way means you have to deduce the theme, as the vast majority of puzzle themes run across only. In fact, if the theme does run down, it makes filling in the grid solely on downs more difficult because you have fewer hints. Once I got SNIDE LINES, I looked for other places where "SN" would fit. SNACK RACE finally abused me of "PLEDGE" for 19D, along with peeking at DEEDED.

I will re-register my complaint about similar word pairs being included in the puzzle that are not part of the theme - THEDA/THETA & MAC/MAD (I'll give ya ELLEN/ELIA) but in general the grid had some excellent entries - ETHANOL, LUCITE (although it is not always clear; Rex, they likely call it "Perspex" where you are), ORATORY, PLIABLE, PRUDENT, SCALPED, SLEAZY. Too bad she couldn't get "MAX" in place of MAC, then clue MAD & "MAX" together (would remove my above complaint), or "ROB" for MOB over ROY - it's never too early to start drinkin' in NZ!

Jeffrey 11:20 AM  

Pretty good for a Tuesday. I mean that in a nice way, not as a SNIDE LINE.

BABY SNITS sounds like some sort of candy. When you're not hungry enough for full-size snits.

Never heard of Ellen Goodman but the name appeared pretty easily.

There is something sinister about this puzzle - ILL, SLEAZY, TESTY, SNIDE, SNUB, RENEGE, MAD, MOB, SCALPED, TENSE.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

This went fast for me, in spite of a long drive back to Albany NY from Crystal Lake near Frankfort MI... I enjoyed the silliness of the theme answers too! Just right for a Tuesday, with uncommon fill like LUCITE, and yes, we get Ellen Goodman in the Times-Union.

The last few days felt like a living crossword a couple of times -- My son and grandkids found the right Portage Lake for a quick trip to watch a young friend in sailboat races from the spectator boat, after initial confusion with another Portage Lake also in Michigan but much farther away. Watchers happily won a free SNACK RACE as well... But yesterday we were briefly scheduled to pick up a bargain Butterfly sailboat in Grand Rapids MI, until it became clear from detailed directions that the seller was in Grand Rapids MN. Win some, etc. but no SNORE LOSERs or BABY SNITS: we're still looking.


Bill D 11:49 AM  

@artlvr - Ah, The Albany Times-Union. Reminds me of a story (lucky you!)...

I attended college in Troy and one day a pair of brave youngsters canvassed our student housing trying to sell subscriptions to The Troy Record. Since college kids of my day were reluctant to spend money on anything they couldn't get drunk on, and weren't up to any extra reading, I wasn't about to subscribe to a newspaper. But I wanted to let them down easy, so I told them I was interested in The Times-Union, not The Record. One little guy, crestfallen, lowered his head and turned to go. The other, brain clearly in gear, suddenly starting jumping up and down blurting "We Times-Union! We Times-Union!" I've often thought that second kid probably made something of himself; maybe a sub-prime mortgage broker.

SandyB 11:55 AM  

Thanks for the photo of the morepork owl, I thought it was another invention of Terry Pratchett. Reminds me of your car name photos, twenty years ago a friend from NZ explained that a Ford Prefect was a car (for Hitch Hiker Guide to the Galaxy fans).

miriam b 12:02 PM  

@crosscan 11:20: I can't wait to see what Emily concocts with some of these sinister words.

@rex: Swiss chard and beets are in the same family.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

I had clergy for cleric which doesn't really work but was the first thing to pop into my head

chefbea 12:13 PM  

Easy tuesday puzzle and fun what with snack and sub.

@philly solver I googles theta burger as I had never heard of it. Sounds yummy and just so happens a frien of mine is in oklahoma city right now visiting her mom. I'll have to tell her to bring some home.

Ellen Goodmans column is in the Greenwich time every once in a while

Luke 12:15 PM  

@Bill D

I couldn't figure out your comment till I read your reply yesterday. HA!

A nice Tuesday puzzle that kept me at it for about 30 minutes. This one was full of lots of words I've never heard that I will keep in my repertoire.

I have to admit my favourite clue is the violinist one; I think it's cute.

Hmm, let's see. Diadem I've never heard before but I like the ring of it. I'm going to try and sneak that one into a conversation somehow. Ditto for auger. I normally just call it digging-thing.

Word that I'll use next time I'm playing cards to sound smart award goes to renege.

Only one clue I don't get and that is the 'like some tickets and Western pioneers' which is scalped. I get the ticket part but no idea about the pioneers. Did they have their scalps removed or something?

Luke 12:21 PM  


Ah, up further googling (it takes time for my googlefu to warm up in the morning) my hunch was correct.

In hindsight, I think that is my favourite clue given how uncrossworde it is. I'm amused.

Joon 12:39 PM  

liked this one a lot. lots of nice fill. the theme was fine--none of the answers made me sit up and snort my coffee out my nose, but they were pretty good for the most part.

yesterday i was joking about YMA and YMCA; today we get THEDA and THETA. speaking of THEDA, the crossing T was part of [Super bowl stat] for TDS. i believe that's the only egregious violation of the "abbr." rule that i've seen in the times this year; usually they only leave out the abbreviation hint if it's a word that's more commonly used in its abbreviated form anyway (like ATM or DDT). but "touchdown" is definitely more common than TD, so i don't know what's going on there. is "stat" supposed to be short enough to clue us in on the abbreviation? to me, "stat" is like "ad"--very much its own word now. (as evidence of this, in the previous lynn lempel puzzle three weeks ago, STAT was clued as [Rebounds or assists], again with no brevity indicated.)

RodeoToad 12:46 PM  

Rex, the mountains/water/sky backdrop in the picture of you and your daughter reminds me of driving scenes in old movies where obviously the actors are sitting in a stationary car and the road is moving behind them--it's surreally . . . something.

I'm with Cy on SPOOR. It's not an everyday word for me, and I don't know that I've ever actually pronounced it, but I've known it for a long time outside of crosswords. I read a lot of "living off the land" books when I was a kid (I was obsessed with "living off the land"), and the writer couldn't write sh*t, so SPOOR was usually the choice.

Anybody else do the "Si Senor, your pants are tore, better go home and get some more" playground taunt when you were kids (or still)?

YURTS were one of my fixations a few years ago. A turt seemed like the answer to everything. My wife was unconvinced.

But I really am building an office in the garage! Rather, my dad is, and sometimes during commercials I'll come out and rail at him for messing up my life. Got the ceiling up this morning, so we're on the homestretch.

More Finn! More pork!

jeff in chicago 12:48 PM  

A fun Tuesday. Would have liked it a bit more if all the theme had the N added in the first part of the answers. Also not a fan of spelling out letters (ZEE). BEE is a buzzing flower hopper, not the second letter of the alphabet. But I will probably laugh when someone works DOUBLEEWE into a puzzle. (Just checked...Cathy Millhauser apparently did it back in 98.)

Loved the clues for SCALPED, MAC and BOW.

Still smiling over Rex's "morepork" gag. I guess we all have a little 8-year-old in us.

mac 12:54 PM  

Thanks, Miss Lempel, great Tuesday puzzle.

Good to see diadem instead of the tired old tiara, and I like some of the sharp clues. Got the theme after solving the first one: snore loser, so it actually helped me out a little. I do like babysnits and turkey snub. Just read through the puzzle again, and had to take a second look at sisenor, looks weird out of context.

The baby looks good with you, Rex! Daughter is very photogenic, as is NZ.

P.S. I once saw many sheep, all different breeds, at some country show for tourist on the North Island. Some of the sheep seemed to be trained to lead the others. There also was a sort of speed shearing, but you probably won't see that in the winter.

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

@joon--I think you answered your own question by the end of your post.

@jeff--How about, for Zee, Tappan ____? Zuider ____? Too obscure? What about Tappan or Zuider?

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

@ Bill D -- Enjoyed your story from RPI, where my ex is proof emeritus (no-no, prof is the word)... Both kids went there too, (a not inconsiderable faculty perk), though my daughter may have created her own drama major and just scraped through required higher math with teams of tutors tugging her through every step of the way... My son has ended up teaching math -- go figure (pun).

Loved your tale of the budding entrepreneurs. My favorite story had to do with an intrepid local TV or newspaper's sports reporter interviewing students at random on their reactions to a major sports win -- He was stunned to happen upon my daughter who in turn was stunned and drew a total blank, unaware of the surrounding fever pitch ("the who? the what") -- We were all much relieved when this was not included in his coverage!


dbg 1:13 PM  

While I have lived in NY for most of my life, I did spend 3 brutal years (way too cold) in Minnesota. Got my first look at ice fishing there. The holes in the ice are dug with augers. One of those bits of trivia just stuck in my brain that probably prevent me from remembering the important stuff. And just as an aside, I don't think anyone would want to dig that hole in the ice with an awl.

Anonymous 1:21 PM  

I wouldn't have known Diadem if it wasn't for the 7th Harry Potter. That's so raven(claw).

Bill D 1:50 PM  

@artlvr - your daughter may have me beat - I've always said I was the only RPI attendee whose English SAT score was higher than his math; now I may just be the first. Nice accomplishment for the two kids, who I assume did not employ my patented six-year plan.

Getting back to the puzzle, sort of, I think TDs is pretty common. The nature of abbreviations always seems in flux. Many years ago a British aviation mag I subscribed to never used periods after abbreviations: Dr, Mrs, Dipl Ing (ask Ulrich) - no periods. I loved that so much I adapted the same convention for all my writing.

Tying it all together (Troy, TDs, daughTers) do you remember the Capital District sportscaster Liz (I think) Smith? Looking at the current NFL commentator Shelley Smith is like seeing into the past. Do you know if Shelley is Liz's daughter? Unusual mother/daughter career choice if she is.

Bill from NJ 1:52 PM  

We're back to the old style Tuesday puzzles that we have been missing for the last month or so. Avoided the CHANT/CHEER trap and tipped to the theme early.

I, for one, like the THEDA/THETA style mini-theme. I think it jazzes up an early week puzzle a little.

Was glad to see Roy Lichtenstein appear. When I was in school, I really enjoyed Pop Art and he was one of my favorites

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

Feeling slightly guilty for starting today's discussion a bit negatively.


I loved the BOW clue (Lynn or Will?)
and would love to see a whole puzzle with a theme like that.

(The gauntlet has been thrown down!)

STILL chuckling over MOREPORK and the finger-pointing picture 11 hours later...

Joon 2:14 PM  

sure, TD is a common abbreviation, but that's not the point, is it? we get the abbr hint if the abbreviation is much more common than the full version. and it's obviously not. to cite a related example, "NFL" is a very, very common abbreviation. but saying "national football league" is also common, and thus NFL has never been clued without an abbr hint, even in saturday puzzles.

steve l, i really didn't answer my own question, because i pretty much concluded that "stat" is not short enough to be an abbr hint. if it were, then when STAT appeared in the grid it would need to have its own such hint--and it often doesn't.

not sure why i'm going on and on about this. it didn't affect my puzzle-solving experience in the least. (indeed, i never even saw that clue.) it just surprised me quite a bit when i looked back over the completed puzzle.

Unknown 2:21 PM  

Next time I'm in the presence of one of those tantrums, I'll remember that it's only a BABYSNIT, though if the tot in question knew that her tantrum was being downgraded to a mere snit, she would not be amused.

Good puzzle, with terrific Tuesday clues.

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

Bill d. Many british house styles dictate no period on abbreviations if the last letter of the abbreviation is the last letter of the actual word. Some do not. It is fun to be a transatlantic editor.

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

PLIABLE, LUCITE, DIADEM... Oh how I love these words!
I learned diadem from reading a dictionary. Anybody else do that or am I that nerdy?

Black Sheep is a terrific NZ horror/comedy movie about mutated, blood-thirsty sheep... of course.

PRUDENT always reminds me of Dana Carvey...

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

Bill d. Many british house styles dictate no period on abbreviations if the last letter of the abbreviation is the last letter of the actual word. Some do not. It is fun to be a transatlantic editor.

Roo 2:31 PM  

i am having more problems than foreseen with my new internet line. Double posting owing to mad sparks from the modem. forgive me and blame it on troops on the cambodia thai border

jae 2:35 PM  

Easy - Yes
Delightful/Clever/Nice Tues. - Yes
Slower than it should have been -Yes

Fell into the CHEER and ZED traps and like Bill d had PLEDGE which I tried to fix with FRESH something. I finally stopped trying to zip through it and looked at the theme which helped quite a bit.

I've heard of ELLEN but am not sure how. I don't think she's in the San Diego Union-Tribune but I could be wrong. Doc John??

Bill from NJ 3:07 PM  


In the Old West, when people were settling the territories, the Indians tha lived in those areas, sometimes attacked the settlers and removed their hair, ie scalped them.

This in no way implies they were the only group of people who involved themselves in this kind of behavior but it figures into the mythology of the Old West as countless movies portray this kind of thing happening.

chefbea 3:11 PM  

forgot to mention Roy Lichtenstein - He was a friend of ours back in the 60's when my then husband had an art gallery in New York. We had many of his paintings along with other pop art.

Anonymous 3:34 PM  

I just wanted to say how much I love "Mad Men." Got the DVD not too long ago. It's such a gorgeously shot TV show.

Doc John 3:37 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle but and will leave it at that.

AUGER seems to be making a comeback with loud TV hunk Billy Mays shilling for some sort of garden tool called the Amazing Auger or something like that.

I initially entered "Mosra" for the Iraqi city- a combo of the two cities. Also considered "tiaras" but knew that "teeded" wasn't right.

When I was a RUSHEE for my fraternity (Phi Delta Theta) I had to learn the Greek alphabet so the THETA clue was especially easy for me (not that I really even needed that knowledge- by the time I got to the clue, all that was left was the T).

@ jae- You'll have to ask someone else because I don't read that right-wing rag! ;) Plus, I'd never heard of ELLEN, anyway, and got it from crosses.

Not thrilled with the STS cluing. How about "Cadillac model" instead?

I loved Rex's take on [36D. Tap mishap]!

imsdave1 4:16 PM  

I thought this was a perfect Tuesday. Silly theme well executed.

@markus - you're not a nerd (unless everyone else on this site is) - on second thought, let's let that one skip further examination.

Bill from NJ 4:23 PM  


I used to read the dictionary when I was a kid and, yes, I got a lot og grief for doing so by my family.
I didn't think I was the only one but kept it to myself because of the reaction I got from my people.

Doc John 4:28 PM  

I didn't read the dictionary but did read the Guinness Book of World Records (usually in the loo). Does anyone else know who Ethel Granger is? (No googles allowed)

PuzzleGirl 4:34 PM  

I didn't read the dictionary either but once on a family vacation when I was a teenager I met a boy who did. And I thought that made him Really Cool. I think that must be its own special category of nerdy.

Jeffrey 4:40 PM  

I read the World Book encyclopedia, circa 1960 edition.

Rex Parker 4:55 PM  

Wow, I thought Ellen Goodman was super well known.

Rainy and gray and dreary here in NZ today. Still heaps better than most places I've been. Need a HUGE walk today because of all the "pudding" (i.e. dessert) I've been eating, not mention the huge slabs of toast with vegemite or honey.

Off to see if my host will make me a flat white. See you all again in a few hours.


Rex Parker 4:59 PM  

PS Anon 1:21, your "That's so raven(claw)" would have made me spit coffee if I'd been drinking any. I love crap pop culture references that are lost on the vast majority of humanity.

SPOOR is a fine word, not bad in and of itself. But I would not know it were it not for crosswords, and the "droppings" + tracking (i.e. solving) factor makes it an ideal substitute for crosswordese, which, despite what Parshutr says, is a terrible word. Too many damned syllables. Economy of scale + funny-soundingness =>SPOOR


Anonymous 5:27 PM  

just talked a college pal of mine into donating to your website...
we were going on and on about how much we love you...
(even tho my last puzzle commentary was usurped by a new puppy)

but he doesn't have paypal and wanted to know if he could trust you with a credit card #!!!!!!

(I told him to wait till your NZ jaunt was over!)

Rex Parker 5:33 PM  


Thanks for shilling for me. Your 10% is in the mail. I provide a snail mail address (via a link Right under the "Donate" button), so if your friend just sends a check (or cheque) there, that would be fine. More than fine. Amazing.

I'm now thinking of new ways my life can upstage your next puzzle, Andrea. . . maybe I'll get a third dog? A second wife? I'll think of something.


imsdave1 5:34 PM  

@andrea - i didn't have paypal until contributing to this amazing website. It's very easy to sign up, and also has contributed to some of my baser pastimes, to my benefit.

imsdave1 5:49 PM  

I hope you all understand that I meant poker by that remark.

Three and out.

Anonymous 7:14 PM  

Doesn't everybody read the dictionary? And come on people, let's get Rex his new word for crosswordese ... let's spoor him on.

Anonymous 7:23 PM  

I was trying to figure out the BLUBBER clue. Was it CRY or FAT? Checked 11 down and my jaw dropped when I realized it was SCALPED. Loved the puzzle after that and will add to the admiration for the double pleasure of the BOW clue and tricky parsing of SISENOR. Good stuff!

Rex Parker 7:23 PM  

Better that you SPOOR me on than that you SPOOR on me.

2.5 hours til Wednesday puzzle....

Can't wait to tell you all about the local Quiz Night I attended last night at the Lake Hawea Community Centre...


green mantis 7:24 PM  

Doc John--
Was Ethel Granger very small? That's my dim partial hit when dredging that name from my own Guiness era brain.

Anonymous 8:55 PM  

I remembered SPOOR from a family game years ago, our own form of Dictionary -- in which we took turns trying to stump/awe others with rare words' definitions (I guess we were all nerdy). I thought "spoor" had to do with a scent to follow, but a cousin prevailed with animal "track". I wish I'd known then about the "scat" aspect! Ha.

@ Bill D -- I recall Liz Smith fondly, but I don't know if that's her daughter you mentioned...


chefbea 9:00 PM  

@rex cant wait to hear about quiz night. might have to stay up for a couple of hours

miriam b 9:13 PM  

This constant harping on SPOOR brought to mind Sir Pellinore's pursuit of The Questing Beast in The Once and Future King. What the knight followed - and collected - was (or were) fewmets. Now I'd like to see that word in a puzzle some Saturday.

Anonymous 9:43 PM  

Great "fewmets", miriam b! (Whew!) Again, re Sunday's puzzle where SPOOR crossed the even more obscure SKIRR, I thought at the time that the latter must be connected to "scurry"... However, the old dictionaries at home aren't any more help, just offering scurry and scamper as synonyms for "skirr", but no etymological link. I was delighted with the "SKIRR" quotes from the Bard though -- the Rexperts always come through! Many thanks to all...


mac 9:45 PM  

@rex: I know nothing about that lingo, so tell me why it shouldn't be raven/talon?

chefbea 9:56 PM  

@artlvr - love the word rexpert

signed a rexite

JannieB 10:49 PM  

@atlvr - my online dictionary posits that skirr may come from scour - I think scurry makes more sense

jae 10:56 PM  

My A to Z Crossword dictionary has scour as an entry under SKIRR.

Doc John 12:14 AM  

Ethel Granger- world's smallest waist. 13 inches, I believe.

Anonymous 1:45 AM  

split enz!!

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

@mac -
It's a reference to the Harry Potter novels... Ravenclaw is the name of one of the houses at the school attended by the young wizard (et al.)

Rick 2:18 PM  

Newish reader, never posted before. I'm one who gets the puzzle 5 weeks later. Do any other "late" solvers post here?

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

Rick, I am one to sign on even if doing the puzzle later.
There is a hymn with the line "Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all."
Like "bow" and "sleazy" in particular.
Was surprised by "scalped."

Rick 4:10 PM  

I feel like a later-arriving guest at a party, where most of the people have gone home and the lingering conversation has passed its relevancy date, but I'll dive in anyway. I guess I'll see how many read this blog at the later date.

I'd rate myself as an above-average solver; I rarely get stumped on anything before Saturday, and most Sat. I can solve without aid. But occasionally I do miss the mark there (I'm looking at YOU, Byron Walden).

What I lack is speed; expert solvers can wipe the floor with me, time-wise. And I'm not sure I ever want to be a speed-demon as it takes some of the enjoyment out of savoring the clues and such as I go along.

I'd like to try my hand at constructing as well, so I take comments about the puzzles seriously, although I find some criticisms to be a little harsh.

Ok, I went on too long. If the "syndicated solvers" are free to comment on the puzzles, I'd love to join the fray.

Waxy in Montreal 9:00 PM  


In fact, many of us live out in syndicationland and the Rexpert does read our comments. So keep the discussion alive...

Anonymous 6:54 AM  

@Rex -
BTW, I don't see how RUSHEE is "idiotic", and "should end -er". The RUSHER is the one who rushes, just as with any normal English usage. The RUSHEE is the target, which though less common in application is still the normal usage. The recruitER is the rushER, the "recruit" is the rushEE - but perhaps to be parallel with "recruiter/recruit", he should be the "rush"???

Rex Parker 7:38 AM  

If my roommate is going to "rush" a frat (and he did), then he should be the RUSHER, just as someone who is going to "rush" the football is a RUSHER and someone "rushing" through the mall is a RUSHER.

People say "I'm rushing such and such a frat," not "I'm being rushed." But you must know that.

I sort of understand your logic, but not really. I have no idea what you're doing with "recruit," as I never made that comparison.


Rick 8:35 AM  

The thorniness of "rushee" arises from the now accepted, but incorrect use of the verb "rush." Students say they are "rushing" this frat, but technically the fact is the frat is rushing the student. The meaning of rush in this case is "to entertain, or court." The frat is courting the student (hazing aside) so the student is the rushee.

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