MONDAY, Mar. 2, 2009 - L Lempel (Poet Gelett Burgess wrote that he never saw one / Antelope with a hump and twisted horns)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: Colored animals ... or animals of color, if you prefer - five theme answers, each one a color followed by an animal

Word of the Day: PIKER -

  1. A cautious gambler.
  2. A person regarded as petty or stingy. (
WARNING: If you are planning on solving this year's ACPT puzzles at home this year, do not read on, as I discuss one of the answers to one of the puzzles at the very end. Actually, I don't discuss the answer at all; I discuss my wrong answer. Anyway, be warned.

This puzzle took me well over five minutes on paper, which means it's far tougher than the average Monday, or I have a massive puzzle hangover from the tournament this past weekend. Or both. Wife just called out from the other room, "Did this seem harder than usual for a Monday?" Yes. Yes it did. PURPLE COW is at the heart of the problem, literally and figuratively. I do not know the poet or poem in question. "One-Eyed One-Horned Giant Purple People Eater," I know. "Purple Rain," I know. "Black Cow," I know. Is this the poem that ends "I'd rather see than be one?" If so, I have "heard" of it. Barely. When I was 9. Maybe. This theme is ... a theme. I am ambivalent about those seven-letter answers in the NE and SW. Love the dual literariness. Don't like that they're so short, and hiding in odd places. They aren't the best known works by either author, by a longshot, so they added to the difficulty level of the puzzle.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Inspector Clouseau movie, with "The" ("Pink Panther")
  • 35A: Poet Gelett Burgess wrote that he never saw one (purple cow)
  • 56A: Lewis Carroll character who's late (White Rabbit)
  • 11D: Edgar Allan Poe story, with "The" ("Gold Bug") - two "With 'The'" clues in the theme answers ... ?
  • 40D: John Steinbeck book, with "The" ("Red Pony") - three? That's some kind of record. I thought the ideal was to have theme answers be completely self-standing as much as possible. Not so many "With this" or "With that"s.

TRAMP, TROMP, CLOMP, STOMP, STAMP - all those damned words are roughly equivalent in my mind. Today's, TRAMP (6A: Walk with heavy steps), did not come quickly at all, as my Def. 1 of TRAMP has nothing to do with heavy walking. AIR WAR (18D: Combat with fighter-bombers) is the opposite of GROUND WAR, I guess. But do people have AIR WARs any more? Seems very WWI. See also 49D: George M. who composed "Over There" (Cohan). I blanked on BRUCE Lee (31A: Martial arts actor Lee), wanting only ANG. Even now, just now, I actually typed out [31A: Martial arts director Lee] - that's how bad I want ANG. I'm willing to change the clue to make ANG right. I also thought the "gratings" in 26D: Decorative gratings referred to the byproducts of the act of grating, e.g. grated cheese. GRILLES was not on my radar - not for a while, anyway.


  • 14A: What a cowboy may use while saying "Giddyup!" (spurs) - nothing about this clue says "plural" to me, so even though I wanted SPURS (off the initial "S"), I didn't write it in at first.
  • 16A: Brit. resource for wordsmiths (OED) - O, Ed! Here's a great clue from A Division final puzzle - [In the U.S. and Canada, it starts with O]. 6 letters. The way I just used "O" should probably give you a big hint. Speaking of O, on Puzzle 1 of this weekend's tournament, I briefly refused to believe that we ever had a president whose name started with O. "What president starts with 'O' ... did we have an Irish president that I missed?" That was at 1-Across on Puzzle 1! Thankfully, things mostly got better for me over the course of the weekend. More later.
  • 29A: Air that makes you go [cough, cough] (smog) - [Air that makes you cough] seems perfectly adequate. I don't "go [cough, cough]." In fact, I hardly ever "go" anything with a comma in it.
  • 53A: Antelope with a hump and twisted horns (eland) - one of crossworld's many antelope species. See also GNU, ORIBI, and ORYX.
  • 65A: Rocker Bob with the Silver Bullet Band (Seger) - "Silver Bullet" reminds me of Coors, werewolves, and Bob SEGER, in that order. I will always conflate the spellings of Bob SEGER and Pete SEEGER. Doesn't help that they're both singers.

  • 5D: Jock's channel (ESPN) - I am not a "jock" and I watch a Lot of ESPN.
  • 35D: Cheapskate (piker) - best word in the grid, by a mile.
  • 12D: Its brands include Frito-Lay and Tropicana (Pepsico) - also added to the difficulty level of the puzzle. The fact that all the short Acrosses in the NE there were abbrevs. didn't help.
  • 37D: Ninth-inning relief pitcher (closer) - I think I actually said "Always Be Closing" out loud to my wife today. I have no idea why. I so rarely address my wife with quotes from "Glengarry Glen Ross." The more relevant quotation, for today's purposes, is "Coffee is for closers!"(warning: profanity ahead)


I'll do a tournament write-up some time tomorrow. To be brief - I had a blast, the puzzles were uniformly good and occasionally great (shout-out to BEQ and Mike Shenk in particular), the Food Network filmed an episode of "Kitchen: Impossible" around the Awards banquet (Andrea will have stories about that, as she will be featured Heavily in the episode), and the A Finals was about the most exciting non-Red Sox event I've ever attended. It was epic. Highs, lows, failures, and, finally, last-minute success! I (and hundreds of others) literally leapt to our feet and cheered when it ended. I think I actually raised both fists in the air like Rocky. Talk about closers. Congratulations, Tyler.

More tomorrow.

Oh, one more thing - despite making one comical, colossal error, I somehow managed to improve my ranking to 42. As for the error: apparently there is no such Philippine peak as MOAPO. So sad. I want to start using MOAPO as a word meaning, roughly, "the state of deep regret and shame one feels at having knowingly, consciously, and perhaps even confidently embraced an answer that is, in retrospect, manifestly wrong." Had OARS instead of TARS in the cross. Trust me, it made sense.

Signed, Rex "Moapo" Parker, King of CrossWorld


Ben 12:23 AM  

Hey Rex, nice to see the King of CrossWorld back in his throne.

I can empathize with your MOAPO moment. I got MTAPO, but tasted that deep regret in puzzle 3 when I changed the straightforward SKED to STED, a word I didn't like, and away from an obvious pun in OINKMENTS, after Merl R. lulled me into a mistaken belief that there was one and only one pun per themed answer (this despite the fact that his instructions actually said there were seven puns; apparently Merl was trying to trip up the Trips, but instead caught in his net the likes of this Bass).

At least your error was defensible. Changing a right answer to a wrong one, due mostly to a frantic race against the clock that I shouldn't have been in in the first place, was a classic rookie mistake. Still, I surprised myself by finishing in the mid-100s. Congrats to you on the high finish.

Of greater consequence, I enjoyed the hell out of my maiden voyage at the ACPT. Meeting so many smart, interesting people was a great time, you guys included.


p.s. Given your better half, should we consider calling you not Rex, but another kingly name: Odysseus?

Unknown 12:28 AM  

Glad this was deemed challenging. I had a Tue/Wed type time and was not very confident with my fill. The Down colors and the across colors must be from Lynn's alma mater from her multi-school academic life because four mammals and a bug can't be the theme, right? Or maybe it is a math formula (4x4)+6 = 22 legs. The nice thing is the week will get easier.

I am glad you made it back from Brooklyn okay. The snow is really coming down here.

santafefran 12:30 AM  

Welcome Back and Congratulations,Rex!

I for one, really enjoyed "watching" the festivities from the sidelines. Thanks to everyone for all the updates and congratulations to everyone who participated.

Just a few months ago, I would have been in total ignorance about the whole process but the last day or two I have been checking the results frequently. Thanks for opening the door to another great experience.

Liked this puzzle quite a bit and finished it with no real problems.

retired_chemist 12:30 AM  

Congratulations to Rex for moving up to #42.

This was quite enjoyable and an easy Monday for me, by which I mean 8 minutes - I have no illusions of being in the league of Rex et al.

PINK PANTHER and PURPLE COW were gimmes, which helped. A lot. See
(or for the Purple Cow poem and a cool bit of derivative Ogden Nash doggerel.

Lots of proper names in the acrosses but few in the downs, interestingly. The names are un-Naticked and thus gettable. My bride should be proud of me for getting SEGER with no crosses. Wouldn't have happened before our late-in-life marriage in 2007.

Doug 1:01 AM  

W00t on being #42!

I've been in Australia without quality time to catch up on the blog--It's nice to be back. In LAX this morning I was listening to NPR "On Point with Tom Ashbrook" and someone called in from "Natick, Massachusetts." I didn't realize it has a hard "a" as in "NAY-tick", and just always pronounced it in my head as "NAT-tick."

Looking forward to the write up of the ACPT and the sizzling final.

Anonymous 1:13 AM  

Rex, for what it's worth, you're not alone in blanking on the O president. I scoured my brain for a minute, then had to look it up on Wikipedia. I'm blaming it on the late hour...

jae 2:19 AM  

Yep, a bit tougher than usual. But, delightful. You gotta love a puzzle with PURPLECOW in the center.

jae 2:48 AM  

Oh, and this is for those of a certain generation who were expecting White Rabbit.

+wordphan 2:50 AM  

Rex! Well done, buddy. I watched "Word Play" Saturday night in honor of the Contest in Brooklyn, and noticed the former President had at least one "write-over" so that means he definitely had a moapo-moment. Is that redundant?
And, by the way, your site looks GREAT!

Anonymous 3:14 AM  

"Moapo" is a perfectly cromulent entry.

Jeffrey 3:34 AM  

Had such a great time in New York that I don't want to leave. Snow storm has cancelled my flight until Tuesday. Much more later as I'll be stuck in my hotel room all day.

Anonymous 5:04 AM  

Thanks to Ret._Chemist for the Purple Cow link... That verse and another were among the lore my mother enjoyed passing along to the very young. The second one had more of moral to it:

"The gum-chewing girl and the cud-chewing cow,
What is the difference? Oh, I see it now --
It's the thoughtful look on the face of the cow."

Congrats to Rex on his promotion in ranking and to all who made it to the tournament. It sounds as if it was great fun, with a neat nail-biting finish! Too bad about the March storm's untimely arrival, like the Proverbial Lion...

Blogger is now requiring me to re-register with less than a day's grace of reinstatement !


joho 7:32 AM  

I liked this puzzle. Before coming to this site I would have just noticed the colors, not that they were describing animals.

My only brief mistake was unroot for UPROOT but that was easily changed.

I liked that the answer for 47A was SEXY not slim. Fresh.

Rex, congratulations to you for moving up to #42, very impressive. and Orange, wow!

KMB 7:51 AM  

Since NYC schools are cancelled, I am commenting! I had PIAZA for PLAZA and STUDS for SPURS. I had never heard of The Gold Bug or The Red Pony.

Hungry Mother 7:53 AM  

I thought it was Tuesday level, but still easy enough for a hack like me. The answers made more sense to my age group.

dk 7:54 AM  

42 great work.

Amy now that you are a star Andrea will start dropping your name all over the place.

Andrea our own TV personality.

It was great to see all the names form this blog on the ACT standings.

Todays puzzle was fine for me as I remembered the PURPLECOW answer from somewhere. ELAND came in the crosses and ASHBIN is a stretch but it works.

Welcome back and I happy the food group ruled (at least for attention seeking behavior) at ACT as well as on this blog.

Kurt 7:56 AM  

I liked this puzzle a lot and apparently had an easier time with it than Rex et al. Hungry Mother may have it right. It's likely an age group thing.

Congratulations to all who participated in the ACPT. I think that I'll take the plunge next year.

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

Congratulations, Rex, good job. I find all of your word adventures to be reassuring as I have similar ones as I do the daily puzzle.

As for today, I thought the puzzle was really easy and zipped right through it. Either Rex is tired or these Saturday puzzle forays are helping me a lot.

White Rabbit crossed tea which I thought was nice, and eerie crossed esp which was nicer.

Mondays are like palate cleansers after F, S, and S. I look forward to them.

chefbea 8:50 AM  

It's really a blizzard here in Connecticut, but beautiful. Think we have about 10 inches so far.

Easy puzzle today. I had heard of all the animals and one bug.

Forgot to mention 2 rexites in my comments after the ACPT yesterday - Hudson Hawk and Karmasartre(sp?)

Did any one notice that with all the wonderful food we had at lunch yesterday there was one crossword puzzle food missing?????

PlantieBea 8:54 AM  

Congrats to Rex and to all of you who competed!

In the spirit of Rex's encouragement of yesterday, that anyone who reads this blog could compete, I resolved to buzz through today's puzzle; it was a tad bumpy, so I'm glad others felt the same. I liked the theme for a Monday. I've heard of all the themed answers except Poe's Gold Bug. Wanted grains for BREADS which threw off my ASH BIN for a moment.

Parshutr 9:15 AM  

No horseman would even try to use one spur. Unless he was doing a crossword puzzle, that is.
And cluing "If I Had a Hammer" singer to mean Trini Lopez was awful...the song was written by Pete Seeger in the 40s, and revived and made popular by Peter, Paul, and Mary in the early 60s. I mean, it would have been just fine to clue TRINI as "Singer Lopez" or "Slang name for Trinidadian".
Much to love in this grid, especially the stacked 3-letter abbrevs. in New England.

JannieB 9:20 AM  

Welcome back Rex. Congrats to all who competed and did so very well.

I had no trouble with today's entry. Finished in my normal Monday time. I guess it is an age thing - I always have more problems with my keyboarding skills than I do with the early week puzzles.

Wasn't too excited by the theme but it was fine for a Monday. Some of the cluing was definitely better than we've been given lately. Nice.

Howard B 9:27 AM  

Congrats, Rex! Don't moapo about your mistakes. You're just saving up a little good karma for next year. Trust me.

It was also great to meet many of you at the tournament... Philly, Crosscan, Karma, and many, many others that I will think of just after I post, I'm sure.

Whattaya say, all, same time next year?

RodeoToad 9:28 AM  

It's good to have everybody back. It gets lonesome in this big old house without you kids around.

I thought this was a real splashy, fun puzzle, Monday or otherwise, though I suppose my time is more like my typical Tuesday time.

Both "The Red Pony" and "The Pearl" were required reading in 8th or 9th grade. Steinbeck's reputation as A Great Writer lasted at least up til then (early 80's). I tried reading him a few more times over the years and found him insufferable--ham-fisted in his themes, wooden in his prose, black or white in his characterizations. His heroes were always so noble you just wanted to slap them.

I agree that the Trini Lopez clue didn't feel Monday-level. But I don't know how else she could have been clued, since I have no idea who she is (I'm thinking of the woman who wore bananas in her hat).

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

Great to meet you this weekend, Rex, and congratulations on your impressive showing!

I was so glad to see you rated the puzzle challenging. For a moment there I was afraid I fried all my crossword puzzle-solving brain cells in Brooklyn. Definitely felt like a Wednesday to me.

I moved up about 50 places, but still have a long way to go. The good news is that I get at least one more year in the E division :)

I agree that PIKER was the best answer on the grid. The word's first definition is the operative one here in Reno, though, and I didn't know it had a broader meaning. Something new every day, etc., etc.

Congrats to all (esp to PuzzleGirl for her nearly award-winning showing in Class D).

chefbea 9:34 AM  

@wade that would be carmen miranda!!! and isn't Trini Lopez a man?

joho 9:36 AM  

@wade: hahahahahah, of course you know who Trini Lopez it!

@doug: I forgot to thank you for the correct pronounciation of Natick. I, too, wasn't hearing the AY in my head.

imsdave 9:43 AM  

@Parshutr - totally with you on Lopez - i would have used "Lemon Tree".

Really nice puzzle, but it was either more Wednesdayish or my brain is fried too.

I want everyone of you to come next year - don't worry about the competition - come enjoy the amazing people.

Glitch 10:05 AM  

Looks like most of those agreeing with the challenging rating were recently involved in some event or other in Brooklyn over the weekend.

For me, it was at worst a medium, a 1 1/2 cupper, rather than the usualy Monday 1 cup [of coffee].

As said above, no horseman would use one spur, unless he wanted to go in circles, kinda like someone wearing pant being only half dressed.

And as far as the Jock / ESPN relation, I took it as where you tune to see 'em.


retired_chemist 10:09 AM  

Dog lover's mnemonic re pronouncing Natick: just say NAY to TICK(s).

re 8D ASHBIN - we have a dog named Ash, and a vet who puts the species after the pet's name on prescriptions: (CAN) (FEL) etc. So we sometimes call her ASH(CAN) as her prescriptions are written.

ACPT viewed from afar is awesome - I gotta go next year. If only NY weather in Feb. were more copacetic......

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

@JAE: thanks for the White Rabbit clip!! I was shocked Rex didnt have it...must be a generational thing...brought back great memories, even if some of them are a bit foggy...

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

Adding my congrats to Rex for his advancement in the puzzle world!

Today was pretty easy for me, too -- I agree that it must be an age thing.

Happy Monday!

mac 10:58 AM  

I got back to CT just before the storm started, and we are still snowed in. We're supposed to fly to Miami tomorrow morning, hope the wait at the airport will not be too bad.

This was Tuesday/Wednesday level for me, with an ashcan and the far Northeast posing a little problem. The theme actually helped me with the "Gold" bug this time!

I'm so glad I decided to go to the tournament, and recommend it to all of you, no matter how experienced you are in crossword puzzling. I was just looking at the foto's on the Wordplay site, and it brought back all the wonderful moments we had this weekend. I'm already looking forward to next year.

I hope we will be told when to watch Andrea on TV!

Parshutr 11:00 AM White Rabbit...if you can remember the 60s, you weren't there!

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

Rex, thanks for making me feel better about Moapo. I still thinks "oars" makes more sense than "tar."

I had to miss the finals because all the late afternoon and evening flights to Atlanta were cancelled. Ended up sitting on the plane for eight hours waiting for the weather to clear. We got out just before the storm hit the NYC area.

The ACPT was great fun as usual. It was particularly nice to meet Karen's Westport friends.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

You told me to "always be closing" because my goal this year is to finish the late week puzzles, even if it takes me days. I think that will be the secret to my success in Brooklyn 2010.
I am planning to get a clipboard and carry the puzzles around with me. If it worked for PuzzleGirl, maybe it will work for me.

mac 11:18 AM  

Just double-checked puzzle 6: I did Moapo/oar, too!

Orange 11:32 AM  

When he has asked for cookies, I have told my child "Cookies are for closers."

I had MTIBO for a good long while in the MOAPO slot, but I managed to untangle that before it was too late.

I have it in my head that "ride the red pony" is slang for having a period. Did I make that up? Did Steinbeck?

HudsonHawk 11:43 AM  

As I proved this weekend, I am definitely not a speed solver (#259 with a bullet!). But I did notice this one took me slightly longer than the average Monday. Maybe Glitch is right.

I love the word of the day and have a strong recollection of the first time I heard it. I assisted my parents as they hosted a dinner party back when I was a teen, serving as the busboy. After the fact, my parents were discussing what to pay me, y'know, for the effort. My mom suggested $5, to which my dad said, "boy, are you a PIKER". The meaning was quite clear (and he went with an Andrew Jackson).

Thanks to MOAPO, I was able to top Rex on Puzzle #6. As for the other five, you can guess how far behind I finished. It was great to meet all the Rexers this weekend and I will echo the "anyone can enter" sentiment. Y'all come!

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Do the ACPT puzzles turn up eventually as daily puzzles in the NYT? Just wondering if I should "send for them" and see what all the fun was about.

Rex Parker 11:50 AM  

a. No, the tournament puzzles will not show up as NYT puzzles.

b. Getting them through the mail is a great idea, but it won't give you a good idea of "what all the fun was about." For that, you gotta go.


HudsonHawk 11:50 AM  

Er, other *six* puzzles, actually...

Two Ponies 11:52 AM  

Mondays seem to be more of a challenge these days and I welcome the trend. Epitome and a few others were not typical Monday fare.
Sorry I couldn't join in on the tournament but I hate traveling by air nowadays so if my passport isn't involved I can't justify the hassle. I am looking forward to hearing the details.

edith b 12:01 PM  

Note to Sandy-

I was determined to do the late week puzzles and that was my approach to them- "Never give up!"

Since I come from the pre-Google era, when I reached the point of no return I went to dictionaries, and encyclopedias and whatever other resources I could find to "puzzle" out the answers.

I am never going to be speed solver but I do remember the first time I Got the Friday puzzle on my own.

I've been at this 30-some years and am proof positive that with a reasonably agile mind, you, too, can do it.

Shamik 12:05 PM  

CONGRATULATIONS to Rex on #42. Even more congratulations go out to all of you who competed...especially the rookies. Bravo!!!!

@ santafefran, I also "watched" from the sidelines. No matter what my income is or isn't next year, it's now a personal goal to get back east for ACPT 2010.

@chefbea: What? No b--ts at the luncheon? For shame!

@Glitch: I agree with you that those who found this puzzle medium to challenging are just tired from the weekend. Was totally surprised to read the write-up and comments 'cause I found today's puzzle very easy at 3:38. But then I'm out here in the hinterlands...rested...nursing a sunburn.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

"Combat with fighter-bombers" doesn't imply that both sides have planes in the air. Seems to me that air wars are still very much with us.

Congratulations to all you tournament hot shots!

Doc John 12:13 PM  

Congrats on your improvement, Rex!
Congrats to everyone else who attended, too! Maybe one of these years I'll make it... *sigh*
Nice to see all the Steely Dan references of late. Keep 'em coming.
Interesting puzzle- How now, PURPLE COW?
There's an Alan Parsons Project song called "The Gold Bug", likely based on the Poe story. (Seeing as how they earlier did a whole album of Poe based songs.)

Chip Hilton 12:16 PM  

42 and climbing: well done, Rex!

I wasn't in Brooklyn and found this a normal Monday puzzle, timewise. Apparently, shoveling about 10 inches of snow from the driveway is not as mentally exhausting as a puzzle-filled weekend.

jeff in chicago 12:26 PM  

Zipped right through this one. Liked PIKER, OYL, BEANBAG, PEPSICO. PURPLECOW was easy for me and made me smile.

Alec Baldwin does Always Be Cobbling. Always makes me laugh. year I go to the tournament. It looks like too much fun to miss. I tip my hat to all who went.

@Doc John: "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" (the Poe album) is a favorite of mine. "(The System of) Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether" is a great tune. I've read that Alan Parsons only ever planned to make one solo album, thus it was his "project." But sales were good, and then the second album, "I Robot," really took off, and prog rock had another star.

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

No lie, the purple cow was our college mascot. There must not be any other Ephs out here! We all learned that poem at some point.

I had a great time at the tournament. Although I finished a little worse than last year, I completed six out of seven puzzles with no errors. Now, if I can just conquer puzzle #5, the bastard.

I'm taking a week off from solving puzzles myself.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:32 PM  

Speaking of "age things," I would love to have seen 42D, BEANBAG, clued as, "Finley Peter Dunne might have said, 'It ain't politics.'"

But maybe that would be for a Friday or Saturday.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  


Glad to know I wasn't the only competitor who had OARS for TARS. Sharing an error with you makes me feel smarter, strangely.

I also blanked on 1A of puzzle #1 -- the answer seemed too obvious to be correct. It was a changeup pitch, I'm sure.

On top of that, my nerves were overtaking me (first tourney), I was anxious about puzzling in pencil for the first time, and I had unwisely applied hand cream only minutes before we began. But I guess if that hadn't ruined my writing grip, sweat would have.


Chip Hilton 2:01 PM  

@Anonymous at 1:33 (Alby?)
Still laughing at your post. The Joy of Anxiety!

Doc John 2:27 PM  

@ Jeff- Every song on that "Tales" album is a winner!

Also, was I the only one who was trying to fit in Nabisco where PEPSICO ended up going?

retired_chemist 2:32 PM  

@ Doc John - I never saw 12D until I had PEPSI?I. Pretty easy at that point to fix it. PEPSICO made my LOGIN into LOGON too.

Two Ponies 4:06 PM  

@ Doc John, I tried Nabisco first as well.

Anonymous 4:07 PM  

I heard that the Dinner Impossible episode that will feature ACPT will air the first Wed. of May (5/6/09), so set your DVRs now! ;)

Congrats to all those who participated over the weekend; it's been said before but you won't find a nicer group of folks around. From top to bottom of the rankings, everyone is friendly, approachable and loves talking about puzzles. You get so used to being around people with similar interests that it takes a few stares from your S.O. or coworkers when you start talking about puzzles to realize you're not in Brooklyn anymore.

It also serves to remind me how lucky we are to have these blogs to tide us over until next year...

nanpilla 4:20 PM  

I am finally finshed with snow blowing and shoveling, so I can tell everyone how much I loved the ACPT. My sister accompanied me, and we met so many wonderful people, who all made us feel like we had been attending for years. My goal was to finish in the top half, but I just missed the cut, so I have to go back next year! It is so nice to have faces to put with so many of you here! Rex is right - the finals were as exciting as they could get - and the crowd DID go wild. For a crossword puzzle! Hundreds of people who all take this as seriously as we all do, and are fun to be with. What more do you need? I hope that Rex posts some of the pictures that were taken at lunch. I highly recommend it to you all. Thanks to everyone from this blog who encouraged me to go.

Oh, and about the puzzle. Dressage riders do frequently use just one spur at a time to ask for a particular movement. We are always WEARING both of them, however!

fikink 4:30 PM  

@nanpilla, thanks for the interesting tidbit on Dressage.
@imsdave, "Lemon Tree" is the only thing I think of when I hear Trini Lopez's name; granted, that is not often these days.

Anonymous 4:53 PM  

For those who competed, the scans of your puzzles are up at Put your contestant number in the box on the left upper sidebar to see what you did.

Doc John 5:19 PM  

@ Rex: congrats again on the 42- the answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything!

Anonymous 5:40 PM  

so much fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The most bizarre moment tho was hours after it all over, I was heading over to Patrick B's in Queens...was starving and had been up since 4 am
(The Food Network literally had me working from 4:45 am till right up to the banquet peeling potatoes, etc. By the way the show is called Dinner: Impossible)
had been too excited to eat at the actual banquet, so I asked PB2 if I could pop into this Greek Restaurant and get some tzatziki and babaganoush to go...

So i walk into Uncle George's and the chef Robert Irvine and his biz partner were coming out!!!!!!!!!!

OF ALL the gin joints in all the world...

I mean, this was three hours later, in Queens, not Brooklyn, neither the chef nor his partner nor I had ANY reason to be in Queens, and yet, there we all were!

We all hugged and he apologized for giving me nonstop shit (he said he thought I could take it, I was too in a sleepless stupor to have given much of anything back...)
and the partner said he got a TON of stuff I said under my breath, that my mike had been on the WHOLE time!!!!!!

I am now in semi-hysteria, frantically trying to think of anything that might have come out of my tend-to-be-unedited mouth
and am hoping for the first time in my life to end up on the cutting room floor!!!!!!!!!!!

But the synchronicity (If it had been two minutes later I would have missed them) must mean SOMETHING, I just don't know what.

Anyway, I feel terrible for crosscan (crushed can?) he should call!!!!!!!! (Crosscan, if you have my card, call, we'll come rescue you!)

more on everything else later!

treedweller 6:01 PM  

Well, shucks. Until I read Rex's writeup, I didn't realize I had a mistake in #6 (yes, MOAPO). Thought I'd pulled off 6 for seven perfect solutions. MOAPO looked funny, but what do I know about them Filipinos and their mountains? (ans: not much)

And how is it that I so often have the same sticking points as Rex, and the same highs and lows, yet he ends up 198 places higher than me? Oh, yeah he finishes in half my times and no doubt had a correct entry for puzzle 5. I guess I need to delve into the Saturday archives before my next competition.

Just reviewed the leftover comments from the other night. Sorry I didn't meet the gang--couldn't ever get up enough gumption at the opportune times. Never was much good at introducing myself to strangers (though I probably know a lot of you better than a lot of people I've met face-to-face) and it seemed even more absurd to introduce myself by a pseudonym. Anyway, I promise to kick myself in the ass next time and say hello.

My favorite outside-the-puzzles joke of the tournament came at the Game Show Night. When WS asked for team names, one was Team Etui. Shortz made up a headline about the name (I can't remember), and they came back with, "no, it's 'Etui Grows In Brooklyn.'

Today's was a fine puzzle, IMO, but speaking of hard, did anyone finish that World's Hardest that came with the registration packet? I saw Orange (who sat nearby on day 1) and friends had made a pretty good start. I got 1A and thought, "Wow, I can do this", then never filled another square with any confidence. Even after staring at it for a looong time on the plane going home.

chefwen 6:06 PM  

I guess it's really is an age thing, I too thought the puzzle was easy.
Although I tried to squish nabisco in it just would not work. Only other goof I had was ashcan but that was easily fixed.
Sounds like the tournament was great fun, but New York in February, Yikes, too cold for my thin blood. Move it to So Cal and I will be there in a heart beat.

Glitch 6:14 PM  

@Doc John

... and he didn't throw in his "towel" after his "mostly harmless" mistake.

After all, he did put a good Dent in the puzzles, and nearly came out as Mr. Perfect.

@Rex, et al, Congrats,


chefbea 6:18 PM  

@treedweller - a shame we didn't get to meet you. I was standing with Mac at the table in the lobby and every time we saw someone near the table she would say "do you think that is treedweller?" Next year you have to join us. We are a fun group.

xyz 6:22 PM  

Congrats, Professor on your improved ranking to #42, exactly my former SSS draft number (Lottery by birthday for the young-uns).

As for the puzzle - since the way you wrote about solving the puzzle is how I do it every day, this was a typical Monday and pretty easy for relative newbie me. In fact the only thing slowing me up was talking on the phone to someone while I am in Charlotte, NC in the USAir Club thanks to the snow. About 8 mins in AcrossLite, would have been 4-6 on paper with my morning coffee, which I usually do on Monday.

It's all relative.

HudsonHawk 6:34 PM  

Very nice Glitch, but isn't that Mr. Prefect? ;)

Jeffrey 6:57 PM  

I'm ok, acme. Thanks. I am rebooked on an extremely early flight out Tuesday morning so its an early bedtime for me. By contractual obligation to RexCorp, I'll wait with my detailed Tournament comments until Rex has spoken.

I will note that I am the 2nd Greatest Crossword Puzzle Solver In the (non-USA) Universe, and have the trophy to prove it!

(and no MOAPO here)

Leon 7:02 PM  

Moa Po.

fergus 7:39 PM  

Wow. I count 15 separate write-overs in my grid today, probably tripling a previous record if I actually kept track of such things.

I did go for the Catch a tiger by A TOE because I learned this rhyme differently. Even when I was a child, some enlightened families had switched to a Rabbit or a Tiger.

fergus 8:00 PM  

Oh yeah, Wade, while we've disagreed on American literature before, I'm totally down with dissing Steinbeck. Even though I'm right next door to "Steinbeck Country" and there's some local loyalty, the kids and the teachers seem to have realized how overblown he could be. Still, The Grapes of Wrath was pretty good for a High School book. But that Travels with Charley, or however the dog was spelled, was enough for the Nobel committee to have demanded their money back.

edith b 8:07 PM  

I guess you have to be "of an age" to remember the music of Trini Lopez as we have this discussion, two or three times a year, whenever his name comes up. I suppose he had a sliver of popularity in the quasi-folk genre.

"The Gold Bug" was the first Poe story I read after his poems. Since the story had a "Treasure Island" feel to it, as a little girl, I was attracted to the romance of pirates snd loved all that stuff.

And being of that age, I had little trouble with this on although it did have a Wednesday-ish feel to it

Anonymous 8:09 PM  

Congratulations to the 42nd Greatest Crossword Puzzle Solver in Life, the Universe, and Everything :-)

I didn't even notice until coming here that 11D:GOLDBUG and 40D:REDPONY were theme entries; I'll claim as my excuse that the gold of The Gold Bug is the material, not the color, unlike the pink, purple, and white of the Across entries. (That and of course the fact that there are seven other 7-letter Downs.)

The Poe story might be a bit more familiar to puzzlers than the general literary population, because the key clue is a cryptogram and Poe explains at some length how to decrypt such codes. Wikipedia reports that the story won a $100 prize, "likely the largest single sum Poe received for any of his works", and "was an instant success and was the most popular and most widely-read of Poe's works during his lifetime" and "also helped popularize cryptograms and secret writing." (More popular than The Raven!?) To my surprise, A.C.Doyle's The Adventure of the Dancing Men, a Sherlock Holmes story with a similar device, is fully 60 years later.


P.S. Did anybody else here first try "agora" or "arena" for 62A:PLAZA? I went through both before finding the intended answer; the confirming 59D:TAR didn't help...

Orange 8:37 PM  

@Treedweller, that World's Hardest Crossword from 1965 really isn't a fun thing. I only added a handful (or maybe two handfuls) of answers to the grid—what Trip Payne had was the combination of his efforts, Jon Delfin's, and Jon's Googling. Mind you, Trip and Jon are both multi-year ACPT champions, with three and seven victories apiece. The grid was still a good quarter or third empty the last time I saw it.

It was only a few weeks ago that I found out Trini Lopez wasn't a woman. It's a name I know only from crosswords, and actress Trini Alvarado's female, so...

janie 8:44 PM  

doc john and other left-coasters -- the tourney *was* tremendous, but don't despair if you weren't able to come in for it. voila!

and for those of you in and around beantown...

lynn's puzzle today was lively and lovely with its genuinely "colorful" fill!



Doc John 8:53 PM  

@ Janie- cooooooool!

Anonymous 9:35 PM  

So did anybody else love 46 across "Emperor who fiddled around?" ie are there any other major classical history nerds out there like me? For those of you who didn't get it, Nero apparently played a violin during the Great Fire of 64 AD in Rome (as he apparently/allegedly started it). I loved it...

Anonymous 1:31 AM  

A shout-out to Karen and all the other Ephs out there--I loved seeing "purple cow" in the middle of the puzzle today.

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