THURSDAY, Jun 11 2009 — 1775 flag motto / Poker Champ Ungar / Film character played by full-blooded Cherokee

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Constructor: Alex Boisvert

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: uh ... Flag Day (Jun. 14)? — Puzzle Note: "After finishing this puzzle, color the circled squares blue, and color all the Across answers containing an "R" red, to reveal an image related to the puzzle's theme." That image = U.S. flag of 1777-95

Word of the Day: HUGGER-MUGGER (12D: Hugger-mugger => SLY) — n.

  1. Disorderly confusion; muddle.
  2. Secrecy; concealment.
  1. Disorderly; jumbled.
  2. Secret; clandestine.

v., -gered, -ger·ing, -gers.

To keep secret; conceal.


To act in a secretive manner.

[Origin unknown.] (

As is typical with puzzle notes, I didn't read this one until after I was done. I could see the flag concept early, but thought the circles were supposed to be the stars and wondered when it was that our flag had twelve stars. Turns out you have to color those circles blue and then (note doesn't mention this) imagine the circles away. The remaining white squares in that 5x5 section in the NW are the stars, arranged in a pattern I've never seen. Wikipedia (everyone's favorite "knowledge" cheat sheet) tells me that the stars on the flag were arranged in that pattern for almost 18 years (Jun 14 1777 - May 1 1795). How that particular flag relates to the earlier "DON'T TREAD ON ME" flag, or MOUNT RUSHMORE, or the song "AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL," I'm not entirely sure. I thought for a bit that the theme might be "Hyperbolic Patriotism." An ATOZ of Americana, maybe. I don't know. Normally I'm not a fan of the "do something crafty to your puzzle when you're finished" variety of puzzle, but this puzzle's coloring instructions highlight a very interesting and admirable feat of construction. Love the novel shape of the grid as well. A lovely, unusual Thursday puzzle.

Theme answers:

  • 30A: "Heads for the hills" locale? (Mount Rushmore) — not sure I get the quotation in the clue. I mean, I get that MOUNT RUSHMORE features "heads," and "Head for the hills" is a common expression, but is "Heads for the hills" a phrase I'm supposed to know?
  • 36A: Whence "Thine alabaster cities gleam" lyric ("America the Beautiful") — threw it across with just the first four letters in place. I don't know this lyric.
  • 49A: 1775 flag motto ("Don't Tread on Me") - Gadsden flag
This puzzle was far easier for me than yesterday's. The only hitch — spelling KILAUEA (11D: Hawaiian tourist attraction). I could hear the word in my head, but that first "A" was not a given for me. Hawaiian doesn't have that many consonants, but I know one of them is "H," and that letter seemed very plausible to me in the fourth position, especially considering the clue on the cross: 27A: Cultural org. No reason that couldn't be NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities). I actually wrote out KILHUEA / KILAUEA and finally decided that four consecutive vowels actually seemed more likely than an "LH" combo. Also, I reasoned that NEA is simply far better known to most people than NEH.

Lots of actors and acting-related clues today — maybe that's true of any day, but the preponderance of actors really jumped out at me today.

  • 35A: Actress Mendes (Eva)
  • 47A: Kilmer of "Batman Forever" (Val)
  • 56A: Actress Moran and others (Erins)
  • 58A: Lucy of "Kill Bill" (Liu)

Then there's the related:

  • 17A: Film character played by a full-blooded Cherokee (Tonto) - I'm sure it's just me, but the phrase "full-blooded" here seems kind of dehumanizing. He's a man, not a breed of dog. Is "Cherokee" really not enough?
  • 16D: "The Terminator" man Kyle _____ (Reese)
  • 32D: "Law & Order" spinoff, informally (SVU) - which, as I've probably told you all by now, I like to call "SUV." I've seen maybe one or two episodes of the entire "L&O" franchise in my life. And I'm a huge crime fiction fan.
  • 62D: "The Wire" shower - now this I want to watch. Still. Netflix queue appears to be moving slowly. Must watch more movies. Or quit moving "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" to the top of the queue.

What else?

  • 1A: Bikini blast (A-test) - A gimme that helped me get going. I knew it was blank-TEST, and that was enough to set me on my way.
  • 13A: Track branch (spur) - ??? ... a "SPUR track" is "A short side track that connects with the main track of a railroad system" ( I see... now.
  • 21A: Ferrari competitor (Lotus) - no idea why this make of car should have stuck in my head at any time in my life, but it did.
  • 26A: Trendy prefix (eco-) - Not sure I like the tone of this clue, but it's accurate enough.
  • 33A: It may be fired (tile) - uh ... in that way that anything ceramic might be "fired" in a kiln, sure.
  • 59A: Drunk's woe, with "the" (DTs) - the puzzle's lexicon of drunkenness is vast and colorful.
  • 68A: Pupil, in Picardie (élève) - because "Paris" would have been too obvious?
  • 1D: Hawk's home (Atlanta) - the ATLANTA Hawks are a (historically not great) basketball team.
  • 50D: Jazz's Peterson (Oscar) - musical interlude

  • 6D: "Air Music" composer (Rorem) - he is, for me, the official composer of CrossWorld. I learned his name from crosswords, and knowing it has been useful.
  • 31D: _____ Leon (Mexican state bordering Texas) (Nuevo) - guessed it off the "EV" and then confirmed it off the "U" (in STU - 34A: Poker champ Ungar)
  • 39D: Oil production site? (atelier) - cute clue. ATELIER = artist's studio, "oil" = oil painting.
  • 41D: Stately thing in Browning's "Oh, to be in England ..." (elm tree) - goes nicely with ELMER (56D: Whom Bugs bugs).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Oscar 7:11 AM  

I wish they would stop giving away the theme in the Notepad - let us figure it out for once! Not that it really mattered here, since the shape and the circles pretty much gave it away. Still, if you can't conceal the theme in the puzzle itself, find a new theme.

And why run this today? There's a rather prominent patriotic holiday less than a month away during which this would've made a helluva lot more sense.


joho 7:36 AM  

I did this late last night and, at first, was struck by the unusual shape of the puzzle. But upon solving discovered, shape or not, this was just way too easy for a Thursday. Unlike @rex I usually applaud puzzles I can draw on, but not so much this time. Plus, this also reminded me of that fantastic "dollar" puzzle not too long ago. I did manage to find USA three times in the white squares to add a little something more. But in the end I just can't wave the flag for this one.

nanpilla 8:13 AM  

I guess that since June 14th ( flag day) falls on a Sunday, and July 4th falls on a Saturday, this small themed puzzle wouldn't work on either of those holidays. It's difficulty level is a Wednesday at best, so why weren't yesterday's and today's puzzles switched?
Getting all of the Rs in every other row is quite a feat, and the puzzle wasn't compromised with a bunch of stupid fill. I liked that GO SOUTH was indeed going south. Had trouble with spelling KILAUEA, and never heard of hugger-mugger, so that little section took me the longest.
I'll be flying into Charles de Gaulle, not ORLY on Monday with my daughter to celebrate her graduation from college. We are doing an unguided horseback trek across southwestern France. So I won't be commenting for a while. I'm going to miss the puzzle almost as much as my husband!

PuzzleGirl 8:34 AM  

I think the reason this isn't a Wednesday puzzle is because Thursday is Gimmick Day. I didn't find it all that terribly easy either—just a little longer than my average Thursday time.

My solving experience sounds a lot like Rex's (only quite a bit slower, I'm sure). Started with [X]-TEST, which allowed me to fill in that NW corner pretty easily giving me the first four letters of AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL. I had the EV of the Mexican state and STU Ungar clinched it. Also never heard of hugger-mugger. Probably won't use it.

Didn't someone just mention SCRUM yesterday in the comments? That helped me today!

I enjoyed this puzzle a lot. I might even go color it now.

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

As I was doing this puzzle, I kept thinking "Rex will dump all over it." I was really surprised to find that you lauded it. I look forward to Thursday puzzles, but this one was a Monday. Sorry, Rex.

Alex S. 8:41 AM  

Had absolutely no idea that PIANO is not just an instrument but an adverb meaning "softly."

Wondering how the hell that could be right was really the only hitch in the puzzle.

PuzzleGirl 8:50 AM  

Oh, I forgot to ask. What kind of operator needs a BANDAGE?

SusanMontauk 8:51 AM  

I had sty for hugger-mugger and wait for cry--wait is not as good as wail, but it works for me and sty--well read the first definition. It seems to me either answer could be considered correct.

My problem with the coloring on this puzzle is that the circles are arbitrary and not significant in the puzzle. Much better if there had been an s in each of those spots (maybe impossible) or they spelled out something appropriate.

Denise 9:07 AM  

Maybe it was left over from Memorial Day, and too hard to be a Monday?

I spend the summer in Falmouth, MA, childhood home of Katharine Lee Bates who wrote the lyrics to "America the Beautiful." Our bike path is "Shining Sea" and we used to have a natural food store called "Amber Waves."

I am a Law & Order (all versions) addict.

I am thinking about planting an ELM tree.

Rex Parker 9:13 AM  

Wow. I love being in the "I Like It" minority. Unusual.

I'm not sure a. being easy and b. not being as good as PB2's *world class* dollar puzzle are very powerful knocks against this puzzle.

Biggest problem I had here was looseness of theme. But the puzzle is beautifully, smoothly filled, it doesn't look like every other puzzle, and I don't Really have to color it to appreciate the construction feat.

How are the circles "arbitrary?" The coloring instructions are tied directly to those circles... I'll admit they're confusing. But "arbitrary?"

Can you tell I wrote the blog betw. 2 and 4 a.m.? Awakened by renegade alarm in daughter's room (that somehow Didn't Wake Her), couldn't get (right) back to sleep, so decided to write. Very weird. I just woke up in fact. 9am! I feel like such a slacker.

chefbea 9:17 AM  

@puzzle girl A doctor operates on people and needs a bandage to put on the wound.

Piano means softly in Italian... where I am now as we all know.

Of course we know my most favorite answer in the puzzle!!! Had a salad for lunch today but there was nothing red in it

The puzzle : knew it was a flag the minute `i saw the shape. Thought it was pretty easy for a thursday.

Will probably be absent for the next few days. Graduation tomorrow and then to Todi which is in Umbria for the weekend


SusanMontauk 9:21 AM  

The circles are not arbitrary to the coloring scheme, but are not connected to the puzzle, just laid on top of it. Or did I miss something. The red stripes had an r in each answer.

But I take back the sty answer--it is in utter disorder, an adjective, not a noun.

DanaJ 9:27 AM  

Really enjoyed the words in this one, regardless of flag picture. Liked UTTER and STUTTER, OSCAR and ELMER, and SCRUM. Got a bit hung up in the south with ESTER (wanted "ether") and NW with ATEST (kept thinking "atoll" or "a-bomb"). It was more "medium" than "easy" for me.

Shamik 9:30 AM  

@PuzzleGirl: A very clumsy and inept operator, of course!

Easy puzzle today.

ArtLvr 9:36 AM  

Moi -- I wrote yesterday about loving the word SCRUM... What fun to have it pop up today. Noted our old friend the red vegetable too.

And yes, it's close enough to Flag Day to have an Early American Flag puzzle a few days early.

Wasn't SVU the Special Victims Unit? Anyway, i especially liked DON'T TREAD ON ME, but the Operator's BANDAGE not so much. Overall a very neat Thursday surprise.

p.s. Our PIANO was originally called Pianoforte, for soft-loud in Italian, and refers to the technical improvements (damper and sustaining pedals etc.) over the harpsicord...

Retak 9:36 AM  

Isn't "heads for the hills" the second person singular form of "head for the hills"? As in, "Stay tuned next week as our hero gets out of Dodge and (heads for the hills"? I actually liked this clue very much even though it took me a while to get it for various reasons (including incorrect cross answers and taking it a bit too literally despite the question mark).

As to why it was in this puzzle, being only somewhat loosely related to the theme, perhaps the constructor had been dying to use it and figured that this was as good a place as any...

For what it's worth, I liked this puzzle also; it was a nice refreshing variant and not too hard for my tired brain last night.

And I also would be quite content to never see another rapper clue, but then I like the baseball clues, so I guess I can't complain too much.

Leslie 9:38 AM  

From nanpilla: "I liked that GO SOUTH was indeed going south."

And from joho: "I did manage to find USA three times in the white squares"

I'm always struck when you guys notice things like this; I never do!

I enjoyed the puzzle because I'm a sucker for the artsy-craftsy "Color in the squares and see a picture! Oh, boy!" stuff. I'm all kinds of impressed when someone can not only construct a crossword puzzle that works, but have that extra layer. But yes, I was confused that it got printed on a non-holiday. (I'm sure nanpilla is correct on the reason for that.)

@nanpilla: (Obviously I've got you "lined up in the cross hairs" today!) "We are doing an unguided horseback trek across southwestern France."

Have fun, and be aware that someone in Michigan, whose biggest excitement right now is having the wallpaper in the foyer stripped, is thinking of you with wistful envy.

retired_chemist 9:39 AM  

Enjoyable, easy/medium for Thursday. Funny shape was not a distraction, and I saw after I had finished (and only then did I read the note) that there was a point to the shape. Flag day 3 days early.

Happy TO GET DON’T TREAD ON ME (49A) without crosses, as that is not my usual for long answers. Frustrated by 1D. ATLANTA needed 6 crosses. ☹ It is indeed the Hawks’ home, but it is debatable whether the singular possessive Hawk’s used in the actual clue is an inappropriate misdirection. Sure was a misdirection for me – I was looking for a 7 letter version of AERIE and having no luck, for good reason.

Could have reclued 64A as the Paris Métro, and had a French subtheme going with élève and Orly.

Very few overwrites today. AKITA (25A) was sure, TUNES was my first shot at 28A, but it could have been SONGS as easily. Loved 39D: Oil production site? – ATELIER. 40D: Operator’s need – BANDAGE was not so felicitious. Clumsy IMO. Agree with others that the bandager is not the surgeon.

ChefBea presumably wielded influence to get 66A into the puzzle.

@ RP – if you think “full-blooded” is dehumanizing, TONTO means “idiot” in Spanish. How’s that for demeaning?

TONTO was played by Jay Silverheels on TV, who IMO is the best-known Tonto. However, (a) he was Canadian Mohawk and (b) he did no movies. I suppose the TONTO referred to was Victor Daniels (Chief Thunder Cloud), who did the serials from 1938-39 that were still playing in theaters in the forties when I started watching. He is thought (but not definitively) to have been Cherokee.

retired_chemist 9:46 AM is the url. Don't know why the link I gave doesn't work.

joho 9:57 AM  

@nanpilla ... I hope you have a wonderful trip!

nanpilla 9:59 AM  

@Leslie: Thanks for the good wishes. People are either envious or think we are crazy. Each day you get up and they give you a map and compass and tell you that your next stop is about a 5 to 6 hour ride away. They provide lunch for you and the horses, and you stay at a different farm each night. They get your luggage there by car. It will certainly be a good bonding time for my daughter and I. (Or we may be ready to kill each other if we spend the entire trip lost!)

Orange 10:00 AM  

Is Doctor John lurking here? Or anyone who's spent time in the OR? I want to know if the surgeon (who uses "operator" to mean surgeon, anyway?) actually does any bandaging, or if that's delegated to surgical nurses, trainees, etc.

Lisa in Kingston 10:02 AM  

Rex, re "Heads for the hills," I think the constructor was aiming for a sly clue. Heads for the Black Hills of South Dakota, maybe?

jimweed 10:06 AM  

referring to SANA'A (the capital of Yemen) as "SANA" is the equivalent of referring to HAWAI'I as "HAWAI." boo. doesn't matter what google says. my first thought was SANAA but i ruled it out as soon as i saw the entry had only 4 letters. unforgivable crosswordese (that i someday might need to use in one of my puzzles).

edith b 10:15 AM  

The clue for 30A contains two significant pieces of information: Heads and Hills which aptly describes Mount Rushmore. A little (very little, true) play on words.

Patriotic theme for a not particularly patriotic occasion. And I do puzzles. I do not color them.

Jeffrey 10:18 AM  

I am usually the first to rave about these kinds of puzzles, but I'm not feeling the love today. Not sure why. It does have Montreal content (OSCAR Peterson). Could I be so shallow and Expos fixated that the NAT clue has put me off the whole puzzle? Do I see the American flag as mocking me about the movement of the Expos to the US of A? Is it because I somehow could not get any of the letters in WAIL?

I better go to my Commenter's Anonymous meeting.

My name is Crosscan and I am a serial commenter. Please help me.

Ruth 10:19 AM  

@Lisa in Kingston: I agree. Thar's heads in them thar hills!
@Orange: I am a surgeon (nobody generally calls us operators) and I put on bandages plenty of times. Just gotta get the work done, y'know? Plus I've known a few surgeons who declare "the patient only sees what's on the outside and judges you accordingly" and are therefore quite fanatic about their bandages--thus almost never delegate the task!
And I was interested in studying Italian to learn that "piano" more literally means "flat." Lots of Italian words stick in an "i" where English or French would have an "l", thus "piano" is like "Plane". They do say "piano,piano" when encouraging someone to speak more softly.

Elaine 10:22 AM  

Hi -- I also thought this was easy for a Thursday (and DEFINITELY easier than Wednesday's puzzle!) but I did like it. I do the puzzle on the computer, so I didn't get to color it in...:-(

"America the Beautiful" was a gimme, first time I've EVER been able to put in an "all the way across" answer with NO crosses. However, I then entered "Live Free or Die" instead of "Don't Tread on Me," but when none of the downs worked realized the right answer.

Happy soon-to-be-Flag-Day!

treedweller 10:26 AM  

Well, I enjoyed coloring in the squares and seeing the flag, but, man is my monitor a mess! (someone had to say it.) It's going to be an expensive activity, since now I have to burn the flag--look at those huge black splotches all over it!

My lack of travel experience hurt me again, since KILAUAEUAIA could have been pretty much anything, and "hugger-mugger"?! Bugger! But I am a plugger, and finally finished without cheating. [shrug{ger}]

Second day in a row we get a shout-out to our host (44 and BEET). This site really does wield influence on the puzzle!

I shared others' doubt about whether operators ever do the BANDAGing, but I'll grant that it may have been more likely in the era represented by the theme answers and early flag. I'm thinking of battlefield surgeons in the Civil War.

I got ATEST right away, since, like r_c, I assumed the home was an aerie. I already had it entered before I realized aerie would not fit. Fortunately, it worked.

I got STU from NUEVO, not the other way round.

@Alex PIANO in this sense comes through sheet music, where it means "play softly", in contrast to "forte", which means "play loudly".

@r-c TUNES also could have been "music", which held me up for a bit in that section.

I share Rex's confusion about how all these theme answers relate to each other ("Hyperbolic Patriotism" indeed). I also share his appreciation for the impressive construction without much clunky fill. Thanks, Mr. Boisvert and WS.

slypett 10:29 AM  

It was easy, perhaps easier than yesterday. Okay, if it had been any easier, we wouldn't have had to fill in the blanks. Alright, I'm exaggerating.

Ulrich 10:41 AM  

@Alex: Piano, the instrument, is short for "Piano-Forte", the original name of the instrument indicating that you could play softly and loudly on it, as opposed to the harpsichord.

Ah, the puzzle: To me, a candidate for the Xyro award (reverse Oryx, i.e. worst puzzle of the year), themewise. Come on, anybody can draw circles on a complete puzzle that have nothing to do with the letters in them to create any pattern you like--a complete cop-out in the NW as far as I'm concerned. Then, every word in a "red" row has exactly one r, except for Mt. Rushmore. Then, the long "patriotic" answers have nothing to do with the flag (except one). And since the flag is non-symmetric, this would have be the occasion for non-symmetric grid. As it stands, I'm looking for the circles in the corresponding corner, for formal reasons. Nothing is resolved or makes sense, from a design point of view, in my opinion.

retired_chemist 10:42 AM  

@ treedweller - re "man is my monitor a mess!"

Isn't this a variant of an Aggie joke? As I heard it, it involved the A&M typist who was correcting mistakes after having (laboriously) learned word processing....

Two Ponies 10:48 AM  

I felt just so-so about this one. The theme felt choppy.
I've spent a lot of time in OR's and the surgeon (I dare you to call them operators) has usually left the room long before the bandage (usually called a dressing now) is applied. Someone envisioned a field hospital setting and that works for me.
I hope the trendy eco- is much more than a trend.
Kyle who? PeeWee, now there's a Reese I know.
Scrum from yesterday and beet salad gave me a grin.
@ nanpilla I am a vivid glowing green at the thought of your trip. Happy trails!

DONALD 10:51 AM  

The completed crossword…

DJG 10:53 AM  

"Don't tread on me" is one of the few Metallica songs I really like.

So-so puzzle. Slightly below average solving experience for me. Very smooth fill, but I'm not a big fan of the whistles-and-bells type of puzzle.

Chorister 11:00 AM  

Now, obviously I am on a different wavelength from everyone - I thought and thought, and decided BANDAGE was a rather over-cute way of expressing bandwidth. As in a radio operator. Get it? Radio band. Bandage. Never mind.

Had Live Free or Die which gummed up the bottom til I figured that out. KILAwhatever, I resigned myself to being wrong about, and wasn't.

Having just seen (in March) the original Star Spangled Banner, I'm into anything flaggish, so I was bound to like this one.

Jim in Chicago 11:04 AM  

I had every letter for the "operator" answer except the second, and briefly considered BONDAGE as the answer. Blushed a litte, and said "oh, bAndage". I agree that this is a sort of awkward clue, especially since there are probably about a thousand other possible clues in this case.

I also filled in AMERICA... and DONT... immediately and the entire puzzle fell in no time.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

So, I get in late to work and dig through the unpacked boxes from the move 8 months ago looking for a part. One box had desk drawer junk, and in it is a box of crayons. Why the F**K do I have a box of crayons at the office? I write computer code for god's sake! I find it odd that I even have a pen or pencil, but crayons!

Now I know. Except that I'm not 8 years old and get my kicks filling in lines in a crossword puzzle.

Glitch 11:16 AM  

If a surgeon is an "Operator", is the patient an "Operatee"?

Comments seem about split as to if the physicians do their own bandaging. Not unusual for this crowd.


HudsonHawk 11:33 AM  

Fun puzzle, cool construction.

The Rainmakers were a critically acclaimed band from KC that didn't quite make it big in the '80s. This apparent non-sequitur helped me greatly with 12D.

From their single, Let My People Go-Go:

Jesus went out for a walk with his mother
The scribes and the pharisees plotting hugger-mugger
They locked him up and they threw away the key
He said why is everybody always picking on me?

dk 11:41 AM  

As a Neuroproctologist I use BANDAGEs all the time.

Any puzzle with ELMER Fudd and BEETs makes it up the flagpole IMHO.

And, Rex liked it to.

fikink 11:41 AM  

Rex, the FIL says, "Not sure I like your tone, Mr. Armchair General," but he really approved of your pin-up and Ray Brown on bass.

Once again, I enjoyed your writing more than I did the puzzle, since as soon as soon as I saw the grid, I saw a flag, Highlights-Magazine-like.

@treedweller, Ulrich - Yes! I remember learning PIANO from hearing Pablo Casals in rehearsal.

...and the Hawks will always be home in my own private Iowa.

Two Ponies 11:56 AM  

@ dk, does this mean I should call you the next time I'm told to get my head out of my a$$?

fikink 11:56 AM  

@Hudson Hawk!
Now you've done it. Your last post put the Coasters' "Charlie Brown" in my head - ear worm!

Thanks alot!

"Who walks in the classroom, cool and slow
Who calls the English teacher, Daddy-O"

(Sorry, Rex.)

archaeoprof 11:56 AM  

Run this puzzle up the flagpole, and I'll salute.

jae 12:03 PM  

I'm with the not really that impressed contingent. We were supposed to cruise by KILAUEA at night but the lava hitting the water created enough mist/fog to completely obscure the view.

Karen 12:31 PM  

Donald, thanks for the lovely coloring job. It's actually a very pretty flag.

I had to look up KILAUEA, and found this nice geological map that includes Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. Kilauea means 'Spewing' and "ranks among the world's most active volcanoes". It's the home of Pele (the goddess, not the soccer player).

I previously associated hugger-mugger with confusion, and never it's secondary meaning of sly.

Noam D. Elkies 12:46 PM  

Neat concept, perhaps not as fully worked out as the dollar-bill puzzle but enjoyable enough. It can't be easy to get two 4x7+5 stacks of common words with one side forced by a theme entry and all constrained by the R rule.

While the answer for 56D:ELMER goes nicely with 41D:ELMTREE, the clue recalls the clue for 9A:IRKS.

When did 6D:ROREM replace Arne as the "official composer of CrossWorld"?

And the number of black squares is ... oops, that's yesterday's theme.


George 12:55 PM  

@Ulrich: Yes, exactly my experience.
This puzzle left me cold because of contrived directions. I look forward to Thursday for a challenge. Not today.

foodie 1:00 PM  

A personal story about "America the Beautiful": Back in the 70's my parents visited me in the US for the first time and I took them to Disneyland. We visited an attraction called America the Beautiful that has 360 degree shots of the US, including MOUNT RUSHMORE. The narration ends and everyone starts to file out, except for my mother who stands in awe for a minute and then loudly proclaims in heavily accented English: "Yes! America IS Beautiful!" And claps. I wanted to die, except everyone else stopped, turned towards her, smiled and clapped along!

I loved the puzzle, although I did not find the North easy.

rafaelthatmf 1:02 PM  

Meh... I had to google just to make sure flag day didn't get moved. Kinda like throwing a surprise party the day before the actual birthday just to make sure the honoree really really has no idea. Belt and suspenders kind of thing maybe. Would have loved it on Flag Day - today not so much.

sanfranman59 1:16 PM  

I totally missed the note when I completed the puzzle last evening online and it wasn't until I read Orange's write-up that I realized the theme. By the time I finished it, I'd completely forgotten about the circled letters in the northwest. It seems to me that Will should have made today's puzzle a Wednesday and yesterday's a Thursday. So far, the average solve times bear that out.

@ Rex ... I learned a few years ago when I visited Hawaii that the language has no words with two consecutive consonants. There may be exceptions to the rule, but I've found it to hold up. That little tidbit would have helped you with your Kilauea spelling dilemma.

Re "The Wire" ... that show rocks. I watched it early on and then, for some unknown reason, didn't watch it again until it's final season last year. My cable system is graciously making all episodes available on-demand, although only about 6 episodes at a time. If you have on-demand, you might check there.

Jim 1:20 PM  

@Z.J. "I'm not a big fan of the whistles-and-bells type of puzzle"

a few constructors make fantastic bells-and whistles puzzles. I love these types of puzzles, but only if they're literate. The instructions were clunky, poorly written, in today's.

Doc John 1:32 PM  

@ Orange- for the most part, you are right. (At least in my experience.)

I'm surprised that nobody mentioned the obvious shout out with BEET salad!

PlantieBea 1:41 PM  

Okay fun, appreciate the construction, didn't bother to color in the directions which don't come with the puzzle printed from Across Lite. Flag day is our anniversary, so I always remember the date.

I don't know ROREM, so I struggled with the first letter in the hills' locale. Thought for a while that the answer might be COUNTRY SHMORE, with SHMORE some nickname for rural digs.

I smiled at BEET and in honor of ChefBEA and her Italian adventure, made a light pasta lunch with tomatoes and basil from the garden which is about to expire in this tropical heat. I'm envious of the gelato. Try rum raisin (Malaga?; one of my favorites.

@Nanpilla, the horse riding to the SHMOREs of southern France sounds like the perfect vacation for my daughter and me (both riders). Have fun--I'd love to hear about it.

@chemists everywhere: enjoyed the olefin metathesis side conversation of last night. I was inspired to dig up my Principles and Apps of Organometallic Chemistry (Collman and Hegedus). I used to eat and breathe this stuff.

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

PlantieBea: that sounds a little toxic. . .

nanpilla 2:29 PM  

@plantie bea and joho : thanks again for the good wishes. If you are interested, this is the web site for the trip we are taking: I don't know how to embed it!

I must admit to spending an hour looking up old chemistry professors after the discussion last night. I've been out of the field of synthetic organic chemistry for 28 years - boy have things changed! Those young guns at the chem dept at Penn have come a long way.

mac 2:43 PM  

Call me greedy, but I liked finding a bigger puzzle. It was a smooth solve, almost literally like Rex's write-up. I messed the A-test for a second by having "not in" for 5D. Had to laugh at the scrum and the beet, and loved the clue for "atelier".

@HudsonHawk: couldn't believe those lyrics...

@nanpilla: Hope you have a wonderful time! I have friends who have done similar things on bikes, on barges and walking. The trips are usually very well organized. Is it the Camargue, Thierry la Fronde country, you're going to?
I think he was my first crush.....

Lisa in Kingston 3:06 PM  

Gee, @foodie, your story brought tears. Thanks (really).

Charles Bogle 3:23 PM  

Thank you @retired_chemist for sleuthing out the Jay Silverheels/TONTO Mohawk-Cherokee info

I knew Jay was Mohawk and so missed the upper NW. Had no idea about the other fellow. Seems like an overly-tough, possibly trick Q

I like the Flag Day theme but the difficulty of this one maxed me out...I also ended up w blanks for three four-letter rows in the upper mid. I wanted to put ORLY and NEA and kick myself for not going w my instinct

Thank goodness my wife was here to give me DUVET!

John Hoffman 3:44 PM  

NW Corner, with Scrum and Spur had me stuck. Also I don't know who is this Reese actor. Whole area was hard for me.

retired_chemist 4:21 PM  

@ Charles Bogle -
Jay Silverheels was a fascinating character. Born Harold J. Smith, excellent boxer and lacrosse player, horse breeder,etc. I read somewhere he was elected posthumously to the Ontario lacrosse hall of fame.

Also I erred - he WAS in two Lone Ranger films.

ChemProf 4:35 PM  

@PlantieBea: glad to have been of use. ;)

I'll tell Lou (Hegedus) you liked the book next time I see him. :)

chefwen 4:42 PM  

Kilauae is also a little town about 14 miles north of where we are on Kauai. It has a very cool lighthouse and is also where our errant doggy Toby had his famous sleepover with the Ben Stiller Family.

Started the puzzle last night after sharing a couple of bottles of wine with a friend and realized that was never going to work so had to set aside and continue this morning (afternoon to most of you)where it proved to be a lot easier than it seemed last night.

Anonymous 4:47 PM  


Kyle Reese was the character played by Michael Biehn, who came back from the future to try and stop the Terminator from killing Sarah Connor.


Orange 5:01 PM  

@Chefwen, I loved your doggy sleepover story! I've told it to several other people who also got a kick out of it. I don't know why I was picturing Connecticut instead of Hawaii, though.

@Ulrich, I love the Xyro concept! But I wouldn't, I don't think, publicly label something the worst puzzle of the year. (Only in private.)

@HudsonHawk, hey! I've heard that song. It's possible my husband has played/sung it around the house.

@Dr. Ruth: I'm sorry I'm calling you "Dr. Ruth." But a surgeon! Named Ruth! Can't resist. Sounds like you're one of those meticulous surgeons, unlike these other ones who skedaddle after their last suture's in. You know, I once saw a journal article that said "the patient was previously surgerized." Bandage or don't bandage, but for the love of god, don't massacre the English language like that!

retired_chemist 5:07 PM  

@ Orange et al. - I thought "surgerized" was what Dubya did to Iraq.

fergus 5:21 PM  

I'll get to the Commentary soon, but the southwest of my grid found LIVE FREE OR DIE working all sorts of unusual and strange complications where DON'T TREAD ON ME should have lain. Maybe a slow New Hampshire driver had come into town?

PlantieBea 5:37 PM  

@ChemProf: You may indeed tell Dr. Hegedus that this former group 4, highly reduced carbonyl chemist enjoyed his book very much and doubtless found it quite influential to her chemical interests once upon a time:-)

@ anon 2:11 Probably very toxic, but it was truly difficult after years in a synthetis/chemistry lab--even working in ventilated spaces or isolated spaces such as dry boxes and vacuum lines to avoid the occasional (most certainly unintentional) sniff of chemical. And then the solvents we distilled with lumps of sodium and potassium right next to our desks...that was what it was like in the olden days of graduate research.

@nanpilla: thanks for the link--I think it looks wonderful. I'll keep my fingers crossed for your "horse meeting".

andrea kilauea michaels 5:54 PM  

I have so much confidence in Alex Boisvert and Will that I actually thought, "Oh! I didn't know today was Flag Day! How unusual that the holiday falls on a Thursday!"

(I thought maybe it was like Veteran's day and held on the actual date June I say bully bully, Boisvert!")

Lucky you!!!!!!!
Maybe ELEVE, METRO and ORLY will figure in some how...or you will ride thru a BOIS VERT!

what a sweet sweet story...
that totally makes up for all the scary redneck type of patriotism.
Also brought a tear to my eye (like that one running down the cheek of that turned-out-not-to-be-an-Indian guy in that pollution commercial)

on that note,
I flinched when I saw "Eco" being described as "trendy"...not to bring up the whole bias thing, but ick.

I too thought BONDAGE and also considered bandage/bandwidth...

I too thought CT for the shaggy dog story! And Yay for Dr. Ruth chiming in...

who has a 15 for the middle and we can do a Monday together?

fergus 6:03 PM  

Foodie's anecdote is a warm epistle of the genuine affection that I and many others hold for the USA. But haven't we seen this sort of image exploited many times before? Flag-waving patriotism has momentary merits, but seems sinister when used as a front for economic manipulation. I hold the esteemed One, as Maureen Dowd calls him, to account as much as messengers of Ronald Reagan's glorification.

This puzzle does make one think about national loyalty. Maybe Crosscan can figure out a plan to embed a Maple Leaf for the July 1st puzzle?

HudsonHawk 6:17 PM  

@mac, the Rainmakers were pretty irreverent, and often with some tongue-in-cheek lyrics. And Orange, they had some success in the Midwest and certainly made the airwaves in Chicago in the late 80's.

@Andrea, I don't suppose you could use two more 13s?


fergus 6:29 PM  

And are there any others in the esteemed Commentariat who have participated in the game of Rugby? I cracked a rib while holding the ball too long in 1989, close to the playing fields of Eton (though I think that was Esher), but we all celebrated afterwards and I took an extra ribbing for being an American and not fully knowing the rules.

For which I meant to say that a SCRUM is a very poorly Clued way of saying a 'scuffle.' It is contested like a jump ball in basketball, yet with virtually everyone involved. For other similarities, see the McPhee essays in recent New Yorkers, where he compares Lacrosse to many other sports.

Scuffle, of course, works. But it's not a very accurate Clue.

Jeffrey 6:44 PM  

@HudsonHawk: also thought of GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH and emailed to @andrea as my web wasn't working.

@fergus: Also thought of a Maple Leaf puzzle.


Anonymous 6:57 PM  

Seemed like a Joe Krozel puzzle didn't it? Turns out it kinda was:

retired_chemist 6:59 PM  

@ all the closet chemists I didn't know were here! What fun!

The old days didn't kill so many of us but I bet the lab rats of today don't wash radioactive benzene ( also vented into the lab atmosphere without benefit of a hood) off their hands with chloroform.

ChemProf 7:02 PM  

@retired_chemist: nice touch that it was radioactive. :)

I ran columns in chloroform out on the bench (and had sodium stills nearby), but you've definitely got me beat. ;)

Noam D. Elkies 7:17 PM  

@Andrea: make it a Fri/Sat puzzle and you don't need any more theme entries — just intersect those two 13s in the center of the grid at their common middle E :-)


mac 7:24 PM  

@Foodie: that's a lovely story about your mother, and the US is a very beautiful country. My father used to visit and he'd be so pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the people. He never did like extreme patriotism or nationalism, though.

fergus 7:26 PM  

Beta decay,

Some of the half-lifes for manipulated elements seem too long in the text book. Weren't all these trans-Uranics meant to disappear in a glimpse? For example, I've got Fermium, element 100! lasting half-way for 3.00 days. Note the decimal points.


Rex, there's a puzzle therein that works.

joho 7:44 PM  

@andrea ... how about for a 15: BRAVE AND THE FREE?

3 and out.

retired_chemist 7:52 PM  

@ ChemProf -

We monitored kinetics of tritium exchange of hydrocarbons with solvent in a highly basic medium (organic amine solvent with amide salt)in a proportional flow counter - on a GC which was not vented to a hood. NICE experiment technically - but the relatively low sensitivity of the flow counter meant my syntheses involved MILLICURIE amounts. Thank God it was tritium, with relatively low E beta decay.

Four T half-lives later, I have NO liver issues so I suppose all is well.

PuzzleGirl 8:03 PM  

I'm bored.

mac 8:11 PM  

@PuzzleGirl: too much chemistry, and not enough....

PlantieBea 8:13 PM  

Well fellow chemists--I am relieved to have had no exposure to radioctive compounds in the lab; and we couldn't use carbon tetrachoride because we were reducing everything. I'm glad I didn't work in your labs!

But, to synthesize metal carbonyls I had a line of CO piped to my open bench (bubbled through Hg of course), lots of experience with reducing agents like Na in liquid ammonia or caesium (napthalenide), and the experience of synthesizing lovely stabilizing ligands containing arsines, phosphines, etc. Although my group 4 metals starting materials were extremely well behaved, the "babies" were almost all air sensitive, pyrophoric, and in a few instances shock sensitive. They were beautiful though :-)

I guess I'm definitely a closet chemist these days; I've traded in lab skills with the vacuum line for a cooking passion on the kitchen stove; the chromic acid/NaOH bath needed to clean stopcock grease for a dishwasher; JACS for cookbooks and Rex Parker...

mac 8:29 PM  

@PlantieBea: good choice, the cookbooks and Rex.

Unknown 8:29 PM  

@andrea patriot michaels


Each a patriotic statement.

I salute you.

Ruth 8:31 PM  

@Orange: yes indeed; Dr. Ruth, teehee. The name is part ice-breaker, part curse. Just to be clear, though--I DON'T do sex problems. So don't ask.
(insert emoticon denoting overly delicate sensibilities here)
And surgerize, yes, is despicable. Really only every hear it said as a joke.

Rex Parker 8:34 PM  


I know many of you think the three-comment limit is a joke, but in the interest of keeping the blog from seeming like a private hang-out, in the interest of encouraging different voices to participate, I'm going to issue a plea that people once again heed the rule. Minor overages here and there, from time to time, really don't matter, but in general, please limit your comments to three.


andrea sana'a michaels 8:36 PM  

@Hudson Hawk
Good thinking...Thank you!
some probs with repetition and splitting the phrases
and it's sort of the same as LIVEFREEORDIE...
but I have thought of a 15!!!!
Let's see if I can make it work, submit it, have it accepted and then get it to run some Monday after Fourth of July, 2010!

Thanks for SPUR-ring me on!
That was a new word for me, by the way)

@Anonymous 6:57pm
That was really interesting! Thanks for posting that link!

Lisa in Kingston 8:39 PM  

Rex must be asleep, or he's enjoying the chem-geek-speak. I TA'd chem in college, but my career was R&D tissue culture in bench-scale bioreactors. Fortunately we had some strict safety guidelines in place (no heavy lifting, etc. j/k!).
However, I did work with methotrexate on a regular basis and I'm glad it was in the fume hood.

Ruth 8:40 PM  

Also meant to comment--doesn't Erik Satie have some legitimate claim to being one of the foremost composers of Crossworld? He's come to the rescue many a time. 3 and out for me!

andrea unnerve(d) michaels 8:47 PM

@PhillySolver, HudsonHawk, Joho:

Thought of GODBLESSAMERICA 15...

Drat, checked the cruciverb database and it's already been done by the Estimable Mel Rosen on Sunday 7/4/04


Rex Parker 8:48 PM  

@NDE (&Ruth),

Yeah, whatever happened to ARNE. He was everywhere, and then, lately, not so much. SATIE is also a good candidate. But I'm sticking with NED (he's got last and first name cred, though I guess SATIE does too).


retired_chemist 9:13 PM  

I apologize for my part in the ChemFest, Rex - it was a true surprise to me the number there are. To all who participated, or closet chemists who were silent, if you send an e-mail to I will put a list of the 4 or 5 of us together. We can share reminiscences/ comment on puzzles as chemists, etc., without distracting the blog from its main purpose. AND keep our 3 and outs here on track, as we should.

fergus 9:30 PM  

A full kick in the joints may be requisite due to my reply.

(Is it the fourth time?)

Immanuel Kant could display the logic. But I much prefer the way more tedious English writers carve their significance.

And then there's Byron
who has no such interest
except for the carnal

or Keats, supposedly, of
the mind-fuck of tweeting
nightengales, greek urns,
and a belle dame sans merci.

sanfranman59 10:05 PM  

Here are this weeks's numbers. The number in parentheses is the number of solvers.

Mon (all) 6:55 (856)
Mon (Top 100) 3:43

Tue (all) 8:09 (878)
Tue (Top 100) 4:06

Wed (all) 14:33 (626)
Wed (Top 100) 7:26

Thu (all) 14:08 (613)
Thu (Top 100) 6:45

This week's Thursday solve times are somewhat lower than last week's (median time < 1 hr this week = 13:30, last week = 15:36) and also lower than yesterday's times. There were fewer solvers than yesterday, but almost 100 more than last week's Thursday puzzle.

foodie 10:22 PM  

@lisa, andrea, mac and fergus, thank you! My late mother would have been so happy to hear that you liked that story. She would have taken your responses as yet another sign of not only the beauty of this country but the warmth of its people. Now I will have to remind my dad of this story and tell him of your reactions.

@sanfranman59 thank you for keeping this up! A real pattern is starting to emerge, I'm beginning to imagine multiple curves with error terms... the joy of data : )

Stan 11:56 PM  

Ned Rorem, Erik Satie, Thom Yorke, Dr. Dre, ELO, Yma Sumac -- they're all good (to the best of my knowledge).

Someone should do a crossword top-ten...

chefbea 2:56 AM  

I agree - rex and cookbooks!!!!

PIX 9:29 AM  

Since it's already Friday, I know no one will ever read this but: am I the only one that notice that the American Flag and all the patriotic theme clues are topped by the ATEST. This is brilliant political commentary: America's number 1 claim to greatness is now its nuclear arsenal. Or, maybe I am over-interpreting a bit.

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

The Lotus memory must stem from the Roger Moore era James Bond movies (The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only). A 007 theme puzzle is something I'd like to see.

boardbtr 3:24 PM  

And then 5 weeks later, the St. Louis Post Dispatch chooses to print the overall puzzle as square and "squashes" the individual cells. That somewhat dulls the flag image.

Waxy in Montreal 4:03 PM  

@boardbtr - as did the The Montreal Gazette. IMHO squashing also diminishes the overall tactile experience of completing the hardcopy version.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

I find it hard to believe that more of you aren't musicians. In written sheet music, piano means "softly".

I generally agree that this puzzle was not as satisfying as most, but it had its moments, although 'hugger-mugger' wasn't one of them!

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