SATURDAY, Dec. 13, 2008 - Frank Longo (Thimblerig thing / Killer of Greedo sci-fi film / Alternative to Best Buy Circuit City / 1961 hit song Angels)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

This is a lovely puzzle that was marred for me by my own stupidity or "slow brain" or whatever you call it when you should have seen something very early on but instead you puzzled and turned and twisted and took out letters and put in letters and ran through the alphabet, etc. Ugh. The embarrassing fact of my experience with this puzzle was that I ran completely aground for what felt like several minutes in the SW. The entire corner was missing. Everything west of EDENS (45D: They're pristine). I was nearly certain about GRETA (43D: Anna player in "Anna Karenina," 1935), fairly certain about I'LL PASS (61A: "No thanks"), and 50/50 on RAMOS (44D: 1990s president of the Philippines). Good start - and yet over the next few minutes, I would manage to tear out each of these, at some point, in order to see what new possibilities I could come up with, all because I couldn't imagine what could be the first word in _____ OF FACT. I had ----EMENT OF FACT, and still didn't see it. Problem: I was giving that first "E" syllabic value, as in the second "E" in "TENEMENT." Didn't imagine it was silent, and so kept trying to think of words that ended -EMENT, and kept failing. The only familiar phrase I could hear in my head was MATTER OF FACT.

Then there were those three-letter downs, which whipped me around. Had ALL (57D: Each, in scores), but the original clue was [Tied], and though "15 ALL" means that the score is "Tied," you can't swap out "Tied" for "ALL" very effectively, if at all, so I kept putting it in, taking it out, putting it in, etc. Had the -TON in KILOTON, but kept hearing the -TON as if it were pronounced like the -TON in PHOTON, PROTON, NEUTRON, etc. Not the short "u" sound in the unit of weight "ton." SKI (55D: Boot attachment) wouldn't come to save my life - was looking for a suffix, obviously (SKI-DOO?). "TIL" could have been "TIS" for all I knew. "TIM?" Tried thinking of girls' names in three letters starting with "T" - and failed. "TIA?" Ugh. Wanted TOP for 58D: Eclipse, which is right, but again, not sooooo right that I wouldn't happily remove it and try other things. Now, all this struggle took maybe five minutes. Maybe. I don't know. I haven't been timing myself for a while now. But it's rare that a puzzle brings me to a Deader than Dead stop. And it's superrare to be brought to a stop by an area where I actually know every answer (well, not "TIL," but everything else). Longo!

The rest of the puzzle seemed very doable, as puzzles with many 15s often are - crack a fifteen with only a few letters in place, and it's a bonanza! A windfall! Keys to all the crosses. All of today's were very basic phrases. Almost bland in their basicness. I mean, STATEMENT OF FACT? Who doesn't love one of those!? Then there's ACCRUED INTERESZZZZZZZ... (17A: Payback factor). Anyway, I was grateful for the ordinariness of the fill, as it made the puzzle very tractable. Had most trouble in the corners. Problem Corner #1, you've seen. Problem Corner #2 was the NW, where ROYAL WE (15A: What I may become) seemed overly obscurely clued. More regal specificity, please. Again, the blandness problem. Blandness is not always your friend. Sometimes you need oomph. Then there was the deliberate deke of 1A: Like icing (illegal). Ugh, more hockey. Clever clue, but most unwelcome after yesterday's puzzle. I think 3D: Biker's wear (lycra) should have been [Cyclist's wear]. When you try to be clever, that's fine, but when you try so hard that you stretch the plausibility of the clue, then I start to get annoyed. Mildly, in this case.

Problem Corner #3 was the NE, where COMP USA (8A: Alternative to Best Buy or Circuit City) was practically if not completely unknown to me. I got an email late last night from another crossword blogger complaining about this clue - apparently COMP USA has very few stores (23). Astonishingly few in comparison to the other stores mentioned in that clue (700 Circuit City, 1500 Best Buy). Thrilled to guess OCTAD right off (though I may have had OCTET at first - 9D: The planets, e.g.). Never heard of either of the CONORs, so that was hard. But gettable, ultimately. All in all, a fine Saturday effort. Solid. Memorable only for my massive, inexplicable failings in the SW.

The Rest:

  • 21A: Bloomingdale's rival (Nordrstrom) - we used to Love to go to big malls in the 80s (my family, esp my sister and me). Bellevue Square was an annual destination, as we have relatives who live there. I think that's where I encountered my first NORDSTROM.
  • 20A: Tony's portrayer on "NYPD" blue (Esai) - gimme gimme gimme. Learn this clue, as it appears to be the most common way to clue this fine actor these days. "Portrayer" also appears to be the noun of choice, ugly as it is (OK, not CRAFTER ugly, but ugly - 60A: Tradesman).
  • 38A: Bathroom buzzers (electric shavers) - cute. I had to sit there and imagine possibilities. It didn't take long, honestly.
  • 30A: Desert storm defenses (patriot missiles) - these and SCUDS were all over the news in '91.
  • 40A: Fort Worth's _____ Carter Museum (Amon) - who what where? Here. I was wondering what Jimmy Carter was doing with a museum in Fort Worth...
  • 41A: Thimblerig thing (pea) - no idea. None. Ah, "thimblerig" is a shell game. Three shells and a PEA. OK.
  • 62A: Killer of Greedo in a sci-fi film (Han Solo) - that's Saturday for you - no indication of *which* sci-fi film. GREEDO would be a gooooood puzzle answer.
  • 12D: "_____ Grosse Legume" (Orson Welles novel) ("Une") - a comedically grotesquely gargantuan clue for so basic an answer. A gimme that I've never heard of. Weird.
  • 18D: Nigerian native (Ibo) - old skool. Learned this from fellow blogger Orange, I think. Not sure in what context. I just associate her with native Nigerians.
  • 27D: Tenor Schipa (Tito) - again, no idea. "Tenor" anybody is going to throw me most of the time. Not into OPERA (24D: Work with choruses).
  • 32D: Sitting Bull's tongue (Teton) - another I didn't know exactly. Lots of inferrable stuff today.
  • 34D: Year in which Middle English began, by tradition (MCL) - I have a Ph.D. in This Specific Subject, and I didn't know this, exactly. "Tradition!" There's very little extant Middle English writing until the 13th century, and the real boom is the 14th, particularly the late 14th (Chaucer, Gower, Langland). Periods of English obviously don't have definitive start/stop dates. "Hey, Bob, what's that language you're speaking? Sounds different from how you was talking yesterday."
  • 46D: German magazine article (ein) - wanted "DER." See, "magazine" is here only to try to confuse you as to the meaning of "article" (unless there is a famous German magazine with "EIN" in the title, I guess). Don't like that kind of cluing. Confusion is good. Adding superfluous word for the sole reason of creating confusion. No. [German article] is the clue you want here.
  • 49D: Calliope relative (Erato) - an xword staple.
  • 50D: Gradually quickening, in mus. (accel.) - more inferring on my part. Mus. clues are the ones that usually get the most persnickety commenters. Classical musicians and hockey fans. Not to be riled. The mail I got yesterday, ugh. "How could you ... You should know ... Everyone knows ... Mon Dieu! ... Zut Alors!"
  • 53D: Marsh bird (sora) - I know I have talked about not knowing this before, and yet here I am, not knowing it again.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 9:03 AM  

Had enough hockey for the week, Rex?

imsdave 9:07 AM  

A one who has sacrificed both ACL's to tennis, I would have preferred a knee clue for MCL. I struggled with the SW also - MEGATON really slowed me down. Also had OCTET for too long.

Nice way to start the day though. Very fair and much easier today than yesterday.

Alex Greenberg 9:16 AM  

Someone please explain Longgreen (or Long Green) to me.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

CONOR Oberst is talented indie singer/songwriter, best known for his project Bright Eyes. He recently released a self-titled cd. If you like his stuff, also check out David Dondero, who was Oberst's inspiration.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

@8%!# I can't remember how to sign on as myself again. Sheesh.

Anyway, at least the two music clues today make sense to a musician. I don't usually complain on here because I'm JUST TOO MAD when they botch one. Why don't they have a creative consultant or something, you know? Maybe I got ACCEL fast (hahaha) because I've been trying to teach it (and what it's not) this very week.

@AG - I think Long Green is money, as in Moolah. I learned it from crosswords.


Rex Parker 9:26 AM  

The local hockey reporter here where I live ... is named Michael Sharp.


Anonymous 9:29 AM  

And furthermore, CompUSA went out of business here. I thought they had everywhere. You do not want to hear the story of the defective item I had just bought from them and how I got my long green back.


Anonymous 9:29 AM  

COMPUSA has closed most (if not all) of its don't think it's a vialble alternative to the others. Was certain that 1A contained SUGAR as the G worked with GLUE. AMON was a gimme-lived in Ft.Worth briefly. Also has GARBO for GRETA for too long. Was pleased to get ELECTRIC SHAVER right off. Music and superheros do me in everytime, though.

Unknown 9:44 AM  

I cry foul on 3D "Biker's wear". Bikers ride motorcycles; cyclists ride bicycles. To see the difference google biker and then google cyclist. Then picture a biker wearing lycra.

BTW Long green is slang for money, as is "jack."

Unknown 9:51 AM  

I saw some of Emperor Qin's terra-cotta soldiers from Xian at the Amon Carter Museum some years ago thus linking two challenging puzzles for me.
I see some are reporting this one was easier, but I had similar struggles with the corners and shorter fill. HANSOLO I figured out first without knowing Greedo (thought that was Investment Bankers), COMPUSA fit in second, but I too thought they were bankrupt. ILLEGAL reminded me of the discussion on Penalty Box from a few months ago, but the SW was a train wreck for me starting with putting in Garbo for GRETA despite the language of the clue.

Orange 9:52 AM  

I went to the CompUSA site and learned that the business isn't extinct, but they're down to a few handfuls of stores in a handful of states. I thought they'd perished altogether.

Rex, you do too know Conor Oberst, because his Bright Eyes project has the same name as two words in that Bonnie Tyler song I hate so much, and that SethG loves to tell his crazy-coincidence anecdote about. Cabdriver in Uganda?

Yes, I have an IBO neighbor. She told tales of the horrible violence and crime that her family was subjected to back home in Nigeria. Now, I don't know if Ibos were targeted for home invasions or if that was just coincidence.

JannieB 9:53 AM  

So very proud to finish this one - had many of the same trials that Rex reported - the SW was the last to fall. The center section and the entire east coast cam pretty easily - but the NW and the SW took forever.

Had so many re-rights that slowed me down. Glue & awed - that LW just looks so wrong! And I kept trying megaton too. Ski was the last entry.

What a great workout and a good confidence builder!

Orange 9:54 AM  

P.S. I love the [Biker's wear] clue. Only cyclist nerds refuse to apply the word "biker" to people in Lycra shorts. Hell, I married a guy who was on the college cycling team, and I call people traveling in the bike lanes on Chicago street "bikers."

evil doug 10:21 AM  

Lots of good violence-suggesting stuff today: Kiloton (megaton would be even better!), Patriot missiles, torpedo boat, earpiercing, messy, penal, riled, Alamo, irate, bear (for you youngsters that was a metaphor for Russia in the good old cold war days). Then a national holiday after we win! Woo-hoo! Longo's clearly a war-monger.

Glad I got you to finally put away your stopwatch, Rex. Now if I can convince you to do puzzles in Starbucks with a Pilot 301 on real newsprint, you can be a poser just like me....


Anonymous 10:30 AM  

Re CompUSA--Yes, they've closed nearly all of their stores, but they are trying to reinvent themselves as an online retailer, like Amazon. I didn't consider them at first, either, because they were off my radar, but that's Saturday for you. They do still exist, so they're fair game. (I had a CompUSA return nightmare myself, and never bought anything else from them again--it was a satellite radio that didn't fit anywhere comfortably on the dashboard, and they wouldn't take the unopened thing back after 21 days--I wound up giving it to someone else to use.)

ckeating9 10:40 AM  

I'n with mr Greenberg here - 'long green'? 'jack'?? as in slang for money it turns out, but jeeeezzzz.

kept trying to cram 'long homer' in there once i had the 'long' bit, as in 'he really jacked that pitch', but knew that answer was kinda ridiculous. only got green from the crosses, and still had to google it to figure out what on earth in meant...

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

I forgot that Pluto got took me most of the puzzle to fix THAT mess.

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

Never heard of LONG GREEN and with so many possible meanings for "jack", that was a tough one. SKI threw me too.

Speaking of COMPUSA competitors, in early November Circuit City filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11. Over 150 stores are closing, including five in the (San Francisco) Bay Area.

foodie 11:14 AM  

This one was very doable, except for the Southwest where, I was totally stuck with AS A MATTER OF FACT.

The rest had some false starts:

ALOHA instead of ALAMO (Bowl)
IRATE instead of RILED (Malapop!!!)
MARCH instead of NOTCH (for "Step")

And an error that remained until I came here:

"Thing to shoot for": BAR instead of PAR (as in setting a high BAR..)
I wondered what they were thinking when they named the store COMBUSA!

This feels very solid but it did not elicit emotions in me like yesterday's where I felt first severe frustration followed by real appreciation (I posted a "poem" about that late last night). Today, no such inspiration.

Off to do some Christmas shopping... guiding motto, and best word of the year: "Frugalista"!

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

Wow, more hockey right there at 1A... COMP USA is kind of a lame answer, but it's also kind of a lame store. [sigh]

Right with you on OCTET for OCTAD; reminds me of a Sunday puzzle a while back that included the eight planets hidden in longer answers, with PLUTO as a verb for "demote" crossing NEPTUNE at the U. I've been looking for a way to use Pluto as a verb in that sense.

chefbea 11:38 AM  

Toughest puzzle I've done in a long time. Couldn't finnish til I came here.

Comp usa closed here several years ago.

Icing illegal??? I can't ice my xmas cookies??

Tried to fit in an instrument for calliope - had piano for a while.

Wanted jack to be tire related.

Back to my baking

Unknown 11:47 AM  

@foodie @ chefbea
You are both in good form today. Thanks for the laughs. Forgot to mention I had germanuboat for the Destroyer target early. I thought the Western Mountain range Grand Tetons were named as an inside joke by the early Mountain Men. Now there is a language named after it???

Glitch 12:13 PM  

Got through all the clues with only a couple of iffy non-intersecting, entries --- usually a sign that a rebus or something was afoot. Then the SE fell as *standard* and I managed to make my way back up towards the top.

Last to fall was where, initally, Sitting Bull was commenting on the Aloha Bowl in Sioux. Finished with the AMON / TETON cross, figuring the mountains were named after something indian or vice versa.

Might have given up earlier on Aloha if I had paid more attention to *Only an Game* :-)

As to COMPUSA; Once a major chain and a viable alternative to the others,it has been reduced, as already pointed out, to a mere shadow of itself.

However, if you and Mr. Longo live in a neighborhood that still has a COMPUSA you might not have noticed the others went away, thus the clue becomes more regional, but still OK.

I wonder if the stores in Ditmars and Natick are still there?

Unknown 12:21 PM  

CompUSA is (or was) fairly common in California. Out here we feel similar irritation with clues such as "tiny suburb of Schenectady" or "impossibly obscure island in Lake Ontario".

HudsonHawk 1:00 PM  

Whew! Finished without googling, but had to put the paper down once and ended up finishing in the SE, which seems to put me in the minority here. I came to the site today expecting a full-on hockey rant, but RP was nicely restrained.

My mis-starts included ALOHA, then once corrected to ALAMO, I had AMOS for AMON and OTC (thinking of stock listings) before ETC. Once those were corrected, LONG GREEN dropped in (I was on the right wavelength with Mr. LONGO there) as did EAR PIERCING.

My last entry into the grid was HAN SOLO, as I assumed the sci-fi film would be something a bit more obscure. Nice.

TITO! Where's acme's Venn diagram? Could we do a four-way with tenors and Mambo Kings?

mac 1:02 PM  

Not more hockey!

This one was a little easier for me than yesterday's but I had the same problems in the SW as Rex. I wanted Merle (Oberon) instead of Greta, Aquino/Acino? for Ramos, and lap for 58D. Of course I had music scores on the brain for 57D .... Wouldn't artisan look a lot better at 60A?

@chefbea: yes, also thought 1A might be piped on.

The middle was done first, which looked very strange, then the entire top, the SE and then I slowed down considerable. Finally had to peek at the finished puzzle here for long green, and the rest fell into place. I would have stuck with it if I had a little more time, but people seem to be throwing parties around here earlier and earlier...... A wonderful Saturday puzzle.

I don't want to try a visualize bikers in lycra!!

jae 2:00 PM  

My take on this one is the same as foodie's, very solid and enjoyable but no LUCYVANPELT like zing to it. For me this was easier than yesterday's and kinda like an oreo cookie. Easy creamy center but crunchy on the top and bottom. I didn't have a real problem with SW but I did have to fix MEGA (as well as OTC and LURED). LONGGREEN was a gimme (when you play pool for money you run across a lot of slang). Last to fall was NW where I hesitated on IRATE, GLUE, and AWED because they seemed too easy for a Sat. In all a fine effort by Mr. Longo. I really like his syndicated Sun. puzzles, they are deliberately easy but very clever/funny.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

@Orange: I believe Ibos were definitely targeted during the attempt by Biafra to secede from Nigeria. Much like what we continue to see today. Rwanda. Darfur.

Pythia 2:21 PM  

Count me in the solid-but-no-zing camp. Super easy to solve. A lovely, competent bit of constructing, but, with the exception of TRIVIA BUFFS, not very interesting, either in vocabulary or in cluing, especially in the comparison to yesterday's humdinger.


Unknown 2:47 PM  

I have never posted here before, but I read and enjoy everyday. But, I have a question many of you may answer. Why does my local paper (the Syracuse Post-Standard) have a NYT crossword that is not the same as in the actual Times? Weekdays is no problem, I get the NYT at work, but on Saturdays/Sundays I just get the local paper. Their Sunday puzzle is the same as in that days NYT, but the rest of the week is not. Are they cheap, and only pay to post previous puzzles?

Also, as a hockey fan I am enjoying those clues. But then again, they are in my wheelhouse.

ArtLvr 2:52 PM  

Very similar to yesterday's experience -- it all came out correctly in the end, sans google, but felt like slogging through molasses at times!

I had to laugh at the Icing clue, having no idea why it was ILLEGAL. Around here, everything is still iced up -- both dangerous and pretty, but not contrary to laws of nature!

@sharpelbows -- we have the same in Albany NY, i.e. puzzles from the Star Tribune syndicate Mon-Sat but NYT on Sundays.


Anonymous 2:53 PM  

Today was one of those days I was trying to figure out what Rex would even comment on!

Love Frank Longo but today he put the zzzzz in puzzzzle.

Found the blog once again much more fun than the Crafter-like solving.

Put me in the camp that didn't know LONGGREEN.
(Does that mean I don't know Jack?!)
At one point I mused that perhaps it was LORN(E) GREEN and that was his character's name on Bonanza!

Venn diagram! Venn diagram!!!!


Two days ago I was walking by an Asian tourist trying to ask the Hispanic doorman (inexplicably dressed as a Beefeater) where COMPUSA was.

Total Abbott and Costello

Tourist: COm-pus-a, com-pus-a???
DOorman: COmputer??
Tourist: COm-pus-a! COmpusa?
DOorman: COmputer? You want a computer?

(Ok, not exactly "Who's on First" ...)

I walked by and said "He wants COMP USA" and kept walking
(not knowing myself where it is but now realizing maybe it had gone out of biz and that's why he couldn't find it)

God I love this blog!!!!!!

jae 2:54 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 2:57 PM  

@sharpeelblows -- read the subtitle at the top of Rex's blog or click on the FAQ link on the top right side, it will explain syndication.

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

@foodie: I experienced the same malapop with IRATE and RILED.

@rex: the SW was almost my Waterloo. I wrote in ILL PASS immediately only to question and erase. Once I changed Megaton to KILOTON the "K" gave me SKI which again gave me the "I" in ILL PASS, my re-right for this puzzle.

This was easier than yesterday's puzzle for me as I finished with no googling.

I wish 4D's clue was "What is done to wear a stud."

Good job, Frank Longo!

Unknown 3:02 PM  

@jae -- I feel much dumber now. DOH! Good thing I only do the one syndicated puzzle a week. The reruns would just overly boost my ego.

Ulrich 3:18 PM  

It seems I made every mistake reported above--that's why this took me so long. Especially, I did not want to give up GARBO b/c I knew I was right--only after flailing for ever in the SW did I finally reread [!] the clue.

I agree with Rex re. EIN--I have no idea what the "magazine" does in the clue. This is another reason why this took me so long: I know "DIE Zeit" and "DER Spiegel", and therefore comitted to the D. If there is a German magazine with "ein" in the title, it's unknown to me. I'm not sure I buy Rex's attempt at an explanation.

Orange 3:29 PM  

There are articles (ein, eine, der, das, die, etc.) in the German language. There are magazine articles that we read in magazines. A grammatical article in a German magazine would be the same as in a German conversation or book—so this [German magazine article] clue is trying to dupe us into thinking about magazine articles in German periodicals. I love Saturday misleads. Rex calls it "adding superfluous word for the sole reason of creating confusion"—I say bring it on! [German article] is too ridiculously easy and dull for a Saturday puzzle.

chefbea 3:43 PM  

@sharpelbows welcome to our friendly group. If you subscribe to the new york times - either the daily or just the weekend - you are entitled to get the Times Digest delivered to your in box every day free. You can then print out the puzzle.

Anonymous 3:54 PM  

I wandered around for a while in this one before I discovered Hal Solo and solved it from the bottom up...

In the original '77 Star Wars film, Solo fires first at Greedo after he sits down at the table. He's quite a cold-blooded bastard. In the re-issue, it was edited so Greedo fireas first (and misses) before Solo kills him.

I recently read that more than 90% of ELECTRIC SHAVERS are sold in December.

green mantis 4:04 PM  

Mm, delicious Saturday doability. Only real yuck was Crafters, because I apparently refuse to admit Sora into the marsh bird family and Crafters is really pushing it.

Trying to mentally snare an in-the-language phrase just beyond but somehow related to the one you want "something something matter of fact" feels a lot like trying to remember a dream: The color red...maybe a forest...somebody had a briefcase...STATEMENT OF FACT!!

Anonymous 4:40 PM  

ICING is not always illegal. It's a common penalty killing method when a team is shorthanded. Perfectly legal.

fergus 4:52 PM  

Misread the 28 D Clue by subconsciously adding a C.

The whole top third felt very tough, since I figured TITANIC was the answer for vast. At one point I even inked in GIGANIC in some gesture of desperation. TORPEDO BOAT still doesn't seem quite right.

Gotta remember to get my Muses straight.

Anonymous 4:57 PM  

I will reiterate Orange's comment: biker is totally legit among bicycle racers and serious lycra wearers. See, for example, this dictionary.

Good puzzle today!

George NYC 5:05 PM  

There was a huge COMPUSA on the second floor of the Newsweek building near Columbus Circle. People were constantly coming into the Newsweek lobby and asking how to get to COMPUSA, despite the HUGE store sign over its proprietary entrance. Things only got worse when the store closed, of course. "Isn't there a COMPUSA around here?"

I think it's a legit clue, though, as all three stores kind of suck.

PlantieBea 5:32 PM  

Wow. I just finished with no cheating (googling) other than having my son tell me that 62A Killer of Gredo was so obviously HANSOLO. Post puzzling, I also looked up LONGGREEN since I didn't know either the word, or the clue jack were money. I too had AS A MATTER OF FACT instead of the required STATEMENT OF FACT. Got COMPUSA but had WALMART in first.

TORPEDO BOAT reminded me of the African Queen! Wanted ELECTRIC RAZORS instead of SHAVERS, but couldn't come up with the extra letter.

As a whole, a fun puzzle that I am happy to have completed.

Anonymous 6:55 PM  

Rex, loved your "west of Eden" remark!

fergus 7:04 PM  

There are probably quite a few reasons why Saturday commentary is comparatively dull.

With odd defiance, I'm going to stroll down to beach, wearing a trench-coat and a fedora, to face the gathering storm.

SethG 7:25 PM  

I swear I wasn't gonna tell my story again, Orange. Really, I wasn't. But now...

I'm still not.

BY ELEMENT OF FACT? Had that for a while.

I filled in ROYAL WE without any crosses. Built the top from there, used NORDSTROM to get into the middle (though I had TREBEK for a while instead of TRIVIA...), then OF AN and BUFFS to get the SE. Not sure how I ever got the SW, and I really wanted the slangy I'M A PASS 'cause I figured the music thing was ALA.

Instead of Bright Eyes, the ERATO clue has Manfred Mann's Earth Band stuck in my head. All. Day.
Thanks, FL!

Anonymous 7:39 PM  

@GeorgeNYC: Best Buy does not suck.

fikink 7:42 PM  

Was I the only one who thought icing referred to killing someone? Didn't gangsters "ice" people?
(often for their ice,
Had I known it referred to hockey, I would have STEELED myself for Rex's annoyance.

Michael Chibnik 7:43 PM  

I got through this one, but not quickly. After getting the answers, I often thought I shouldn't have been so slow. I was misled by the German magazine article clue after proudly remembering Der Spiegel.

My one mistake was compuha/his. I thought his (as in his and hers) had to be right, but knew that compuha had to be wrong. But I've never heard of comp usa and sis didn't occur to me.

I enjoyed this puzzle more than many of the commentators -- a fair, challenging Saturday I thought.

PuzzleGirl 7:56 PM  

I hate trying to post when I'm not at home. This is my third try. I had a funny little story to tell you, but I'm fed up so I'll just say this: love Nordstrom, love the puzzle.

Anonymous 8:18 PM  

Too busy to do the puzzle this morning. Good thing cuz I would have gotten nothing done - this sucker took me forever! I certainly won't use the word elegant to describe it but did enjoy the solve.
Anon@4:40 - Icing is indeed always illegal. There is however no icing when your team has a player in the penalty box. Semantics I know but still...

Doc John 8:48 PM  

So I guess I'm the only one who put in I'M A PASS. I mean, Tim and ALA seemed OK to me!

@jae- I guess I ate the Oreo inside out because I ended in the middle.

At any rate it was much easier than yesterday's which I just finished today. Heck I did this one on my iPhone on a plane (this time on the way back to SD)!

Speaking of yesterday's, did anyone comment on TEABAG in relation to the John Waters film, Pecker?

dk 9:38 PM  

This was a pick it up and put it down then every missing answer just appears puzzle for me. I was stuck on RADIOSOURCE, had megaton and Peron instead of RAMOS.

Lovely wife gave me HANSSOLO.

@evil d, I use Foray pens from Office Depot and order a double short soy latte, The pseudo posers quake with fear as I crease the art section, draw myself to a well postured seating position and solve.

Sometimes I hum The Man Who Liberty Valance as I solve just to keep them in line.

No complaints with the puzzle, hard enough, new enough and ya gotta love TRIVABUFF and EARPIERCING.

Warm enough to bike today, but my lycras in the shop.

dk 9:50 PM  

That would be the man who SHOT liberty valance,,

maybe those poser are not quaking with fear maybe they laughing.... off to find a quill (fine nib), inkwell and blotter

Unknown 10:06 PM  

I'm the one who insisted on the biker/cyclist decision and yes I'm a cyclist, but it never occurred to me that being called a biker would be a bad thing. It's just a matter of standard usage. When someone refers to a biker, I think motorcycles and when someone says cyclist I think bicycle. I repeat: just google the two words. You'll see the usage is well established.

green mantis 10:45 PM  

I'm half a martini and one citrus rum situation to the wind, thanks to Andrea (got your umbrella?), but I have also been wondering about the slowdown on Saturdays.

Maybe the thicker with challenge the puzzle, the fewer the brain cells left to go tangent-y? Early week puzzles are like a children's playground; you run and jump and get all loose. Late week puzzles are like trying to do the thing with the rings that strong actual athletes do; it takes every bit of bicep just to pretend to hold for a half second, and then you collapse in a heaving heap. It's not less interesting; it's just that one's power has been divided unequally, this time to the grid.

Also, semicolons.

JannieB 11:05 PM  

@greenmantis - interesting premise. I've noticed the same thing. Perhaps it's just because the puzzles are better that we have less to carp about. With no theme, the tangential references aren't so readily apparent. Or maybe it's just because it's the weekend and it's harder to take ourselves away from our families than it is to take a few minutes break from work. Interestingly, the biggest puzzle usually gets the fewest comments. Hmmmmm

green mantis 11:13 PM  

It's probably the latter, that people are just busy. But I always look forward to Friday and Saturday the most, and so am sort of surprised that the reception is so low key.

My own excuse for having less to say late week is that I'm pleasantly satisfied with the experience and don't feel as much a need to create more drama around it. (Drama in this instance not a bad word.)

Unknown 11:40 PM  

Will someone please explain 15A: what I may become-royalwe. I still don't get it.

mac 11:46 PM  

@Jannie B and Green Mantis: I suspect it's because we are busy with friends and family; when the puzzle is really outstanding on a Saturday, we all do come out and rave about it. When it's just a good but not exceptional one, we just don't take the time.

We have had a nice few Sundays lately, wonder what tomorrow will be like. I'm not looking until after breakfast!

mac 11:47 PM  

The queen will use the royal "We" instead of saying "I".

fikink 11:48 PM  

The royal we:
The use of “we” instead of “I” by an individual person, as traditionally used by a sovereign : Queen Victoria once remarked, with British understatement, "we are not amused."

jae 12:34 AM  

I always thought that it was because fewer people do the weekend puzzles.

Anonymous 5:17 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle. Was baffled by some of it. Had to resort to googling but that's fine.

Rex Parker 7:27 AM  

What the hell are you people talking about? Today, the reception is a bit "low key," I guess, but if you go back in time, you will see that is not always, or even usually, the case, and late-week puzzles get at least as many comments, if not more, than early-week puzzles. Sundays have had 90+ several times recently.

Traffic to this site is heavier late in the week, not lighter.

If you're going to pontificate and muse, try to get your facts straight, at least.

Maybe the other commenters are not the ones who are "dull." You might have considered whether your comments on dullness did Anything to alleviate it.


Michael Chibnik 8:31 AM  

My observation -- which I have not statistically tested -- is that the comments on Friday and Saturday tend to more puzzle-oriented and less about tangential subjects which are not directly related to the solving experience (e.g., the merits of beets).

Alex Greenberg 11:04 AM  

I looked it up. There is no person named Thom McAn. It is a brand of shoe named after a golfer named Thomas McCann. I call foul.

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

I have to wonder about the word malapop. Is it the new version of malapropism? If so, then putting riled instead of irate is not, I think, a malapropism.

foodie 2:26 PM  


It's a word we made up on this blog. It was suggested by Andrea Carla Michaels (a namer by profession). It is a play on word based on Malapropism. But it means that a word (a correct English one, so not really a malapropism) "popped" up in your mind as an answer, but to the wrong clue in the same puzzle. So, I put IRATE where RILED belongs (both are correct words), and then IRATE showed up elsewhere in the puzzle.

We've noticed that Malapops happen a lot, it seems more than chance. My own hypothesis is that both we the solvers and the constructor share common word associations. So, the constructor has drawn from the "irritated-irate-riled" file more than once, and I have responded from the same pool of words but in the wrong spot. Hope this all makes sense.

Anonymous 6:32 PM  

Rex, you crack me up. Thanks for alleviating the dullness.

Anonymous 8:58 PM  

Rex, thanks for the Holst "clip". Made for pleasant listening while reading through the blog!

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