WEDNESDAY, Apr. 1, 2009 – E Stein P Gamache (Ford Failures / Drop ___ (moon) / Pea, for one)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Relative difficulty: insultingly easy.

THEME: Hidden crosswordese entries – four entries with old standby fill entries in the middle of other entries: (EDS, ADO, RYA and ZEAL).

Word of the day: ARIL – n. an exterior covering or appendage of some seeds (as of the yew) that develops after fertilization as an outgrowth from the ovule stalk

[probably from New Latin arillus]

I blew through this one fast, but once again, I did it on paper and forgot to time myself. If it wasn't for the fact I was also helping my wife out do some preliminary work on her W-2 while I was solving this, I probably would have broke the 4:30 mark. Seemed especially easy considering that many of the clues were older-than-dirt riddles that I've heard time and time again. 47A: From what animals do we get catgut? is a perfect example. Everybody and their brother knows the answer is SHEEP, duh. I mean, are they trying to be cute here? Probably a few too many of those types of clues in this puzzle, now that I'm thinking about it. Nice to see The "L.A. Crossword Confidential" uber-blogger Amy Reynaldo, a.k.a. ORANGE (3D: What color is the black box in a commercial jet?) make a cameo. And Lord knows anybody who's seen my March Madness brackets knows I know enough NCAA trivia to tell you that there's ELEVEN (49D: How many colleges are in the Big Ten?) Big Ten teams. I suspect Ed, Paula and Will were trying out some new kind of cluing, but the jury's still out on this, um, “innovation.”

Theme answers:

  • 18A: Where was the Battle of Bunker Hill fought? (breEDShill) – I have a “I fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” t-shirt
  • 37A: In what country are Panama hats made? (ecuADOr) – Never been
  • 41A: What is George Eliot's given name? (maRYAnn) – who?
  • 59A: From what country do Chinese gooseberries come? (newZEALand) – never been there either, but speaking of China, check out this outrageous Chinese dating game show.

Broke in immediately with ALL SIZES (40D: Nobody too big or too small, on a sign). As they say, there's a fat kid in every group and if you don't know who he is, it's because it's you. Seeing as I was the fat kid, this one was a gimme. I worked my way over to the SE corner saying hi to old friends Ogden NASH (57D: He wrote “If called by a panther, / don't anther”) and EMILIO (46D: Actor Estevez). I would have preferred it to be former to be former two-time NBA MVP Steve NASH, maybe had the Suns won a title things would be different. Had SIDE B for a while instead of SIDE A (65A: Deejay's interest, typically). Most of my DJ friends wouldn't touch the A-side and would definitely prefer the eski/grime/dubstep/what-you-call-it remix that would be on the flip side. Typical to what? Wedding receptions? So that slowed me down a bit. I even did talk myself into RDBS for a while instead of RDAS (58D: Nutritional amounts). Recommended Daily Breads? Butters? Burritos?

But one section that didn't slow me down at all was the SE. Aside from the aforementioned ELEVEN, TILDE (55A: Part of Sao Paulo) offered little resistance, as I'm sure most solvers will put down the old standby TIETE river. I also didn't fall for the HIDEHI (48D: Cab Calloway phrase) trap versus the more common entry HIDEHO, but I was having a Vulcan mind meld with Ed, Paula and Will on this one. Nothing was going to stop me.

Almost everything at the top seemed pretty-much by the numbers. I AM NOT (2D: “You are so!” preceder), CHEAPO (8D: For next to nothing, in slang), and MAHOGANY (10D: Reddish brown) were all gimmes, and when you're writing down all those letters in the long entries, the rest fell quick. Even Hieronymous BOSCH (5A: “Ship of Fools” painter) didn't pose much of a challenge. Then again, I did take a Renaissance Painters art appreciation class, but I got docked a couple of grades for pronouncing Titian with the second T hard. Titty-an. Oh man. What a class. Anyway, here's World Party singing “Ship of Fools":


  • 12A: Slate, e.g (emag) Great timely entry. I can't wait till I stop calling this a blog and start calling it an e-mag. Can I tweet that? Have you followed me on Twitter yet?
  • 43A: Queens's ___ Stadium (ashe) Is this where the Mets are moving to?
  • 6D: Bruins' retired 4 (orr) I really wanted Joe CRONIN. I had the right retired number and the right city, but mixed my Boston sports teams up.
  • 9D: Brick carriers (hods) We just bought an 18” hod at Home Depot. It'll be great for when we're building the outdoors kiln this summer.
  • 11D: Clay, today (ali) This one still makes me laugh, even after the millionth time of running that clue. You see, his name was Cassius Clay. Get it? I think L. L. Cool J even referenced that in “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Brilliant.
  • 19D: ___ Na Na (sha) that SHA WASHO crossing was a bit on the brutal side (22A: California Indian tribe: Var.).
  • 26D: “M*A*S*H” star (alda) Never heard of him or the show. Apparently his first name is Allen.
  • 41D: Fraction of a tick: Abbr. (msec) Had PSEC for an m-sec (hah) then I realized my mistake. Course the "psec" is short for psectarilaneriam, which we all know is the dorsal part of the bloodsucking insect. Which is why this is a great clue. I was thinking entomology, but instead, it's about time. Anybody know what the “M” in m-sec stands for anyway?
  • 36D: 1974 Mecedades hit (eres tu) There's this cool software that allows you to change MP3s into ringtones so whenever I get around to figuring that one out, this is going to be my first ringtone.


Brendan Emmett Quigley

(Oh, were you expecting Rex? He's over at my site)

P.S. Festive LA Times puzzle today - Rex's write-up here.
PPS NYT puzzle featured on "Jeopardy" tonight. Do not watch unless you want your Thursday puzzle spoiled. Maybe you can TiVo / TiFaux / DVR it


Jeffrey 8:43 AM  

It is tough to write a blog 365 days a year. Too much, in fact, for one person to handle. That is why, to ease the daily burden, Rex has started using Blogger-Roboto©, which automatically generates his posts every Tuesday and Thursday. In fact, the LA Crossword Confidential site is exclusively done by Blogger-Roboto.

It can also be a strain commenting daily. So I’m thrilled to announce that I recently got a beta copy of a Blogger-Roboto spinoff, called Commenter-Roboto. I will be using it three times a week to give myself a little rest from the daily grind. I promise you won’t notice a difference in my comments.

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

Today’s puzzle was IONIC. The grid was ECUADOR. All answers had at least three HOOTS and crossed. Rex is the RUDEST CHEAPO SHEEP.

Jeffrey 8:45 AM  

Yikes. A little trouble with the software. Bear with me.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

Today’s puzzle was Wednesday and completed in 1.245698745 seconds. I AM NOT ORANGE. FREE NEW ZEALAND! I love beets. Brendan doesn’t know his ALAS from his EDSELS.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

I kinda thought the theme had something to do with April Fool's. A lot of the clues were like not what you would think they would be - or something like that. 3D - what color is the black box (orange), 18A Where the battle of Bunker Hill was fought (Breeds Hill).

It bothers me how easy and kinda blah today's and yesterday's puzzle was because I just got a rejection letter from Paula on one of my puzzles that I thought (obviously perhaps) was much better than either of these. Oh well.


Jeffrey 8:49 AM  

Oh boy. Let me try this…hmm, it’s not responding. Wait! Don’t do that!! No!! Help!!!!! AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!Splat!!................................................

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

SAP Crosscan has been removed from the system. HIDEDI. Have a nice day in April for Fools. Click.

mexgirl 9:00 AM  

Hahahahah! Crosscan, you're too funny.

And I got so confused at first by reading Rex asking if the Mets were moving to Ashe stadium and that Alda's first name was Allen....until I figured it wasn't him but BEQ's write-up.
Good April fool's joke, guys.

Have a good one!

retired_chemist 9:05 AM  

I'm with Anon 8:46 - I thought the theme was just the many April Fool's-ish answers. Bet many of you had SHEA for 43A before you had ASHE. Not sure what to say about Stewart Granger, but I think that's one too. Wanted Charlestown first for 18A but, alas, it was one letter too long. Got TILDE (55A) w/o crosses. Had AGGIE for 25A, bit soon figured that out since Ness et al weren't I-MEN. WASHO? I have this strange urge to say, "Gesundheit."

As a lifelong beefivore, I say RARE (14A) was clumsily clued as Pink. Medium/medium rare is pink. Rare is red. Unless there is another meat I have been missing out on....

retired_chemist 9:12 AM  

@BEQ or whoever - msec is millisecond, one one-thousandth of a second. Not to be confused with microsecond: µsec, one one-millionth of a second, often written usec to avoid confusion with msec. Or was that question another April Fools?

Unknown 9:14 AM  

You missed the other two themes...OOT and OSC from the Maleska ERA. Very entertaining write up and a fun puzzle.

janie 9:25 AM  

oh -- i'm so glad i came here for enlightenment about the theme. i completely missed it!! but -- how about the entirely overused EVE in the midst of ELEVEN?...

once again: headslap!!

thx, beq --


Adam 9:27 AM  

puzzle was kinda eh, but i think everyone missed the theme, if you connect the "O"s you get a really neat serpent

joho 9:29 AM  

This was the most amazing Wednesday puzzle ever published!
OK, you got it: April Fool!!!

Actually it was just plain dumb.
STEWART was the worst. But I guess if that was the theme, it succeeded.

Jeffrey 9:31 AM  

Where am I? What is this horrible place? Where did Commenter-Roboto banish me to? There's a sign-no! Anywhere but that! I'm in NATICK!!!!!!! Help!!!!!

dk 9:40 AM  

@crosscan, I got a call from some Carlos Roboto guy whose nick name is Hal. He only said one thing: "Dave."

And then some Yul Brenner guy came on the line and said" "Nothing can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong."

Lastly a Dr. Fraunk N. Stien shouted: "It's alive, It's Alive."

You all missed the theme of the week first it was UTEREI, then SPERM and today BREEDS and you can't tell me @adam's snake is a coincidence. These puzzles are the RUDEST.

Thank you BEQ when the first written word on this blog was insulting I was suspicious.

Kids rubber-banded the spray nozzle on the sink this AM... there is hope for the youth of America.

Sandy 9:43 AM  

Someone get Crosscan a trank.

Glitch 9:46 AM  


Look hard, you should be able to see Okemo Mt from Natick --- it's covered with snow and very bright.

Head towards the light.


Anonymous 10:10 AM  

Even though this most of this one was easy I'm embarrassed to say I couldn't quite solve it on my own. I got loused up in the top middle section. Never heard of HODS. Thought 5-down might be MOWS and the painter MONET. Blanked on ORTHO. Didn't know BREEDSHILL or STEWART. Anybody else?

william e emba 10:13 AM  

You forgot the old standby, VOC, hidden inside AVOCADO. Really, really old, that is, as in Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie. The Dutch East India Company went out of business, what, in 1800? Yup, really, really old standby.

Oh, and RDBS are Relational DataBase Systems.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:16 AM  

Thanks, Ed and Paula, for the shout-out at 5 D, and for 69 A, my quasi-alma mater.

Jeffrey 10:19 AM  

I feel better. That trank I got from Doc in Sandyland did the trick.

Wow, navigating Natick was horrible. Those crossings! What a Mulct! Three letter land was the worst. All around me, ORC and ARC, EEL and ERA, NEE and ROE.

Ok, what now. Oh yeah, follow the 15-letter lemon-colored byway. The Wizard of OKEMBO will save me. Can I get there? Yes I KenKen!

John 10:38 AM  

That picture Rex picked out for the whipped cream, looks like Dijon m Mustard!

dk 10:43 AM  

@crosscan, click your heels together and say Will's Shortz

mac 10:51 AM  

I thought it was a no-no to have ADO in the puzzle twice!

I also blinked at INSULTING. Can't imagine using "drop trou" in a sentence any time soon.

@Crosscan: glad you worked your way out of Natick. What a workout this morning...

Anonymous 11:01 AM  


slypett 11:05 AM  

Did anyone else misspell ECUADOR? It could happen to anyone. Honest. Also, had no idea who the Mocedades were. It was like being on another planet--not a friendly one.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  


Doug 11:32 AM  

@crosscan, for a senior government tax guy you sure have a hell of a lot of time to kill during this month of hell for the rest of us little people. You're starting to sound like our version of Seinfeld postal worker Newman ... Now go audit someone and collect some revenue for B.C.!

As I read the review I thought Cdr. Rex was sounding more like his students than his normal self. Nice writeup BEQ--April Fool on me! And if BEQ was in bed with Rex's wife they must indeed be very close buddies.

My kid set our clocks back an hour this AM. I was out the door and ready to bike to downtown Vancouver at 5:30AM -- Little prick! But a good joke and I can't complain.

evil doug 11:35 AM  

I love everyone here, and I love every comment ever posted.


Jeffrey 11:41 AM  

Good morning all. I had the strangest dream. I was in a strange land where evil Doug was sweet and Vancouver Doug was snarky.

By the way, there's supposed to be a computer virus today. Keep an eye out for anything weird on your computer. See you tomorrow!

chefbea 11:47 AM  

Good April 1st puzzle. Didn't see all the crosswordese words.

Glad we had the other recipe verb today. And lots of food - lesgumes, avocados, gooseberries, Borsch. Oh sorry that's bosch!!!

Ulrich in Tora Bora 11:48 AM  

So I get to Tora Bora and get whisked to this cave in the middle of Gott knows where -- rugged desert all around but not a beach or palm tree to be seen. Great Internet access, though. So I solved today's puzzle, but I feel obliged to complain that 55-Across has a tilde but the crossing entry 36-Down, though in Spanish, does not have a tilde. Ach, Scheiß'!

Now to figure out what happened to my hotel reservation...

--Ulrich (somehow logged in as NDE)

grandsonmike 11:50 AM  

First, please do not comment on puzzles the day they are printed. Further, many across the country get today's puzzle next week, so you shouldn't give away the fun for them.

Second, many of the words you are objecting to are entirely familiar to anyone who has solved puzzles even relatively briefly.

Your criticism that some of these words are not familiar to all people generally is an unfair criticism. Like any pastime, this one has its own world, and that includes stars with interesting names, animals familiar to those who watch the Animal Channel, etc.

This blog is just a bad idea.


xyz 12:02 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug 12:05 PM  

As BEQ subbed for RP, I'm subbing in for Evil today. It's liberating.

@mike If you don't like this particular blog, the internet offers just a FEW alternatives that you may find interesting. Like many things in life, if you don't want to know the score in advance, DON'T LOG ON. If you are compelled to log oin, close your eyes and SCROLL DOWN to your desired puzzle and take a moment to read the notice for SYNDICATED PUZZLE readers.

I'm off to Starbucks to meet some other retired pilots, opine about the state of economy, and shake my head at the youth of today. How can you afford $5 for a caramel double-shot latte, and what is with the piercings?

Rex Parker 12:11 PM  

grandsonmike = best comment of the day. Thx for that.


allan 12:25 PM  

My fastest time ever. .35 msecs, and that was on paper (which I manufactured myself). And you all misses the real theme. It's another Obama puzzle. Just spend the rest of your day searching for all the hidden Obamas.

Orange 12:25 PM  

Is it bad that I prefer Brendan's parody of Rex to Rex proper? I laughed my fool head off today.

fikink 12:36 PM  

Evil Doug, anyone who calls his kid a little prick is close to my heart.

Sweet Doug, backatcha! xox

Rex, Mr. Fikink wants you to elaborate on the Carolingian method. He can be elsewhere emailed.

@Orange, It takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry.

dk 1:44 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
dk 1:45 PM  

@fifink, TRANKS and OPIATES help stop the crying. Lets give some to grandsonmike he likes everything: Hey Mikey!

When you read the real Rex (so we are lead to believe) post you will see it is he who has been making all the food posts. Carolingian - bleh - you just STIR.

Sweet Doug? I am in bizzaro world!

@allen, does your time include making the paper?

My girlfriends used to laugh at me and say little pri*k... does that mean something bad?

Anne 2:34 PM  

Oh, you guys, I'm dying here. This is all too funny for words.

Doc John 2:59 PM  

Lots of names and some Natick-y stuff but somehow I even pulled the D in HODS out of somewhere (don't ask, we docs know of lots of sacs and pouches in the body).
Fun writeups, Rex and BEQ, thanks!

Ellen 3:20 PM  

Reading today's blog and going, "WHAT??" (and why are those letters in red, and doesn't he remember top 40 radio DJs, and what exactly is catgut anyway...?) I was all set to write a bunch of comments, until I got to the end (oh wait a minute - alda, msec, oops it's Brendan).

Curses, fooled again!

(Reading the comments... Sweet Doug, now that is funny)

allan 3:25 PM  

@dk: Yes.

@doug: Admit it. You are really Alec Baldwin.

George NYC 3:32 PM  

Can someone please explain what "LOL"
and "IMO" means?
And what about "xox"?
I'm confused.

PlantieBea 3:44 PM  

Best April Fool's spoof ever. ROTFL. Ha, find that in a crossword. The letters are all there. And I thought we had entered the twilight zone yesterday. Thanks to all HOOTS for SIDE A humor.

fikink 4:12 PM  

I think the Conficker Worm is more virulent than we'd guessed.

chefbea 4:28 PM  

what is ROTFL

mac 4:32 PM  

I think: rolling on the floor laughing or something like that.

Did you do Rex's puzzle at BEQ's place yet? It's great.

jae 4:52 PM  

I refuse to comment!

jae 5:06 PM  

Oops. I meant "No Comment."

jae 5:06 PM  

Drat that should have been --

This post has been removed by the author.

PlantieBea 5:22 PM  

@chefbea--yes, ROTFL is rolling on the floor laughing. I guess you're a crossword nerd when write-ups and comments do that :-)

@mac--I did do Rex's puzzle and I agree, it is very good.

Glitch 5:34 PM  

I'm disappointed.

Being April Fool's day, I was expecting unusual, if not funny.

What did I get? Same old same old, on two blogs no less.

... and nary a mention of the Simpsons.



chefwen 5:42 PM  

@crosscan - Where'd ya find the big fatty to smoke today?

edith b 6:19 PM  

@george nyc-

LOL = Laugh out Loud

IMO = In my opinion

see also IMHO and IMOO which is humble opinion and obnoxious opinion

mac 6:25 PM  

@Ulrich! Just got your joke... doh' or how ever you spell that....
Hope the accomodations are better!

I'm confused, because at the BEQ site where Rex's published puzzle is, they don't seem to discuss the puzzle at all.

chefbea 6:41 PM  

That was a great puzzle Rex!!! and no Simpsons in that either

Glitch 6:44 PM  

@georgenyc, Chef b, Orange, pseudo Urich, et al

Believe nothing you read here today, [including this comment]


Glitch 7:20 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glitch 7:24 PM  

oops, that deleted comment was mine, saw Rex's pps after I posted.


Anonymous 7:26 PM  

I expected someone to object to STEWART being both in the clue and in the answer.

Stan 7:27 PM  


Postmodernism has taken over the blogosphere. I love it.

Michael 7:35 PM  

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that the Big Ten logo has an 11 in it.

Literal Mike

John Hoffman 7:50 PM  

I liked that today's puzzle wasn't so difficult. Wednesday gets difficult for me, but I can usually get through. Here in San Francisco, an extra butch lesbian might self-identify as a bulldogger. Don't ask her to drop-trou.

Orange 8:54 PM  

@Mac, if you're looking for a review of Rex's puzzle, check out Diary of a Crossword Fiend. I've been reviewing all of the puzzles at Brendan's blog for a few months now. At Brendan's blog, people may be too overwhelmed by cravings for whipped cream to think cogently about the crossword. (I blogged the puzzle before I read the exegesis of whipped cream instructions, which accounts for why I was able to focus on the puzzle.)

Anonymous 10:02 PM  

Maybe I have no sense of humor but I hate April Fool's Day. Today someone told a colleague that she was being fired -- and she cried.. ha ha, some joke. The puzzle was okay though close to impossible. The blog was idiotic. I look forward to April 2. Can't believe EVERYONE else thought it was funny -- IDIOTS! Off to watch LOST.

Kelly 10:29 PM  

so sneaky today!

re: the theme - there's another one in my world. the american physical society's officially titled "april meeting" is may 2-5. sheesh.

t. pynchon 12:01 AM  

You all just stole the idea for my next novel. Should have go the Copy right earlier.

+wordphan 2:05 AM  

A friend called and said Robert Duvall was in town doing a movie at the local carwash & since I live near the carwash, I should check it out. Remember, this is Macon, Ga.

Finished this one fast; missed Jeopardy though and Robert Duvall. Happy A.F.'s, y'all.

Tim Gillam 3:37 AM  

pretty easy, but i can't believe you missed the theme. you said you did this on paper? All of the theme answers (as others have mentioned, the oxymoranic "what color the black box is") are italicized in the print version of the NYT. Even without that hint, it should have been easy to get the true theme. The Times is famous for tricksy puzzles om 4/1, but this wasn't nearly tricksy enough. Also, Stewart in he question and answer is poor, poor, poor. I don't know how I'd clue it and remain on theme but maybe just leave it out of the theme if you have to do it that way.

liquid el lay 12:52 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
dugglesmack 9:29 AM  

Since I get the syndicated 5 week old version I am usually fooled by date related puzzles. I have GOT to start looking at the date code BEFORE I tear into these things!!! It wasn't until I came here to see what everyone had to say about the puzzle that everything snapped (however loosely) into place!

btw - It's a little off-putting that any comments made after the original puzzle date are not accompanied by a date as well as a time. I sorta feel like I'm just throwing a comment out in the bit bucket....
Anyway, thanks to all of you for the enlightenment and education I continue to receive from this site!

TimeTraveller 12:36 PM  

@dugglesmack -- you get a date code? Not in the stupid Vancouver Sun you don't! You get today's date right under Will Shortz' name.

Remember the Twilight Zone? I started getting that "Da da DA da, Da da DA da" just after the "theme" statement.

Great blog(s) even 5 weeks late!

syndakate 3:02 PM  

You guys are hilarious.

Just thought I'd remind everyone in syndicationland that tonight (May 6) is the Dinner Impossible episode filmed at the crossword puzzle tournament.

Crosscan 3:27 PM  

Hey syndicate land! What was I thinking 5 weeks ago?

Anonymous 11:25 PM  

hey @crosscan, it's more what were you smoking back then...

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

@dugglesmack - I agree that having the date included with the time would be nice especially for us late posters.
@RP - can you do anything about this?

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