Former Miss America host — SUNDAY, Aug. 16 2009 — Ballet set in Rhineland / Holders of body lubricating fluids / Exactly right in British lingo

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Constructor: Randolph Ross

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: "Let's Talk About Me" — uh ... OK, let's see. All theme clues are spoken phrases ending in "me," while all the answers are familiar phrases that end up being plays on words in relation to their respective clues. Unclear, I know. Sorry.

Word of the Day: THI (28A: Summer comfort stat) temperature–humidity index—(Abbreviated THI; also known as discomfort index, effective temperature.) An index to determine the effect of summer conditions on human comfort, combining temperature and humidity. Several equations have been used to calculate the index, dependent on the data availability:

where Td is the dry-bulb temperature in °F, Tw is the wet-bulb temperature in °F, Tdp is the dewpoint temperature in °F, and RH is the relative humidity in percent. In the equation, RH is used as a decimal; in other words, 50% relative humidity is indicated as 0.50. Studies have shown that relatively few people in the summer will be uncomfortable from heat and humidity while THI is 70 or below; about half will be uncomfortable when THI reaches 75; and almost everyone will be uncomfortable when THI reaches 79. There are portions of the United States in which the THI has reached values around 90. (Glossary of Meteorology)

This puzzle was about as enjoyable as someone who talks about himself all the time. Had to struggle to understand what it was getting at, and when I figured it out I didn't care. Got ERROR MESSAGE and though maybe the "ME" in puzzle title had something to do with the "ME" in MESSAGE. But no. Well over halfway through I had no idea what the theme was all about, ans shortly thereafter I realized I *did* know, and that knowing wasn't making it any better. "So all the clues have 'me' in them ... that's it? O, man." Further, some of the theme answers are indeed tight, familiar phrases (e.g. PECKING ORDER), while others ... what's a TENDER OFFER? If I offer you legal tender, is that a TENDER OFFER. Oh, never mind, I just found out that it's a term from corporate finance describing a kind of takeover bid. Huh. FILM DIRECTION is clear but utterly unsnappy. I think FREE RESPONSE is a type of writing assignment??? Anyway, it was a slog all around, very light on the snap, crackle, or pop. No "aha" moments. Instead, a bunch of "oh..." moments.

I had THI at 28A: Summer comfort stat and was convinced I had an error. Never seen it. When I found out it wasn't an error, I looked up THI via "google." Nothing. I mean ... nothing. Very weird. So I hit up Twitter and several of my Followers had the explanation to me within minutes. But even knowing "Temperature Humidity Index," I was still confused. Is this any different from what I (and several others, I'm guessing) know as simply "The Heat Index?" Second hit on google search for [temperature humidity index] is the Wikipedia entry for, simply, Heat Index (HI). In fact, my first guess at what THI meant was "The Heat Index." THI is crap fill never before used by the NYT in the Shortz era, and barely used at all (only Stan Newman and the LAT appear to think it's OK, and even then, not very often).

Theme answers:

  • 23A: "Pardon me" (error message)
  • 29A: "Save me" (mass appeal) — is this what happens at mass? I've never been.
  • 38A: "Feed me" (counter plea) — waitress should throw coffee in your face if that's how you talk
  • 54A: "For me?" (receiving line) — that works
  • 75A: "Shoot me" (film direction)
  • 92A: "Lean on me" (tender offer)
  • 101: "Make me" (cross words) — mmm, ingratiating
  • 107A: "Kiss me" (pecking order) — also a TENDER OFFER, potentially
  • 16D: "It's on me" (free response)
  • 60D: "Write me" (book proposal)

I actually enjoyed the harder-than-average cluing on this Sunday puzzle. I just wish the theme had made more sense to me or been more entertaining to figure out. There were more very tough clues/answers in this puzzle than I've seen in a Sunday in a long time. I tripped hard over all of the following, for varying reasons:

  • 16A: One of the Big Three, for short (FDR) — are the others Churchill and Stalin? Aha, yes, they are. I almost went with GDR here, thinking there was some Soviet bloc assoc. I hadn't heard of. Of course the clue was trying (I think) to make you think of an auto manufacturer. Or else Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, or Ray Allen.
  • 27A: North Carolina town that's home to Appalachian State University (Boone) — just didn't know.
  • 41A: Exactly right, in British lingo (bang on) — had BANG UP, which caused many problems.
  • 69A: 1993 TV western starring Kenny Rogers and Travis Tritt ("Rio Diablo") — ... really? That's a valid answer? A TV movie from 1993? I can't even find a clip (or hint of a mention) on youtube. I did find out that the movie also featured Naomi Judd.
  • 79: _____ Dubos, humanist who said "Think globally, act locally" (René) — don't know him. Got him confused with writer Andre DUBUS.
  • 96A: Herd of whales (gam) — I know POD.
  • 99A: Former Miss America host (Ron Ely) — another answer I was sure was Wrong, mainly because I was reading it as one word, RONELY. Even so, he hosted for just two years (1980 and 1981) — the immediate successor of the legendary Bert Parks. Here's the unlegendary Gary Collins and clearly the most talented person ever to win Miss America:

  • 116A: Bank bailout acronym (TARP) — wanted FDIC. Recognized TARP eventually, but didn't know what it stood for: Troubled Asset Relief Program.
  • 2D: Balloon or blimp (aerostat) — nope. "stat?" from the Gr. for "standing air," it's simply a lighter-than-air object, or so it seems.
  • 12D: Holders of body lubricating fluids (bursae) — the clue alone was enough to make me a little nauseous. I must have seen the word BURSA somewhere before (maybe Miss McHenry's Life Science class in 7th grade), but I haven't seen it recently.
  • 38D: Arcangelo _____, Italian violin master (Corelli) — pieced it together eventually. Sounds familiar, but my xword violin knowledge gets thin after AMATI and STRAD.
  • 42D: Daytime talk show starting in 1987 (Geraldo) — and ending ...? Nothing good was "starting in 1987" except my college career.
  • 47D: Ballet set in the Rhineland (Giselle) — never heard of it. Name of a famous model (in one "L," it turns out), so I went with it.
  • 49D: Word that led to the "Why a duck?" routine by the Marx brothers (viaduct) — almost made me laugh. I'm not familiar with the routine, or most Marx Brothers work in general.
  • 84D: Flapdoodle (tommyrot) — would never use either. This puzzle definitely has an olde-timey feel to it (Kenny Rogers telepics aside).
  • 92D: Mechanic (tooler) — really??? OK.
  • 102D: Resident of the Land of Cakes (Scot) — man, I lived there for many months and never once heard it called that. I figured this would be some figure from children's literature.

So ... that's a lot of ignorance for one day. But it was all gettable, in the end, and most of it seems fair enough. Again, the main problem for me today was the (to my mind) joyless and convoluted theme.


  • 25A: Late 1920s to around 1950 (radio era) — this was just an answer in another puzzle, so no problem. Lots and lots of vowels; surprised I don't see the answer more often.
  • 35A: "My best soldiers," according to Douglas McArthur (WACs) — wow, unexpected and interesting quotation. From
No contingencies were developed to maintain the existence of the Women's Army Corps for service in the postwar Army or future conflicts. This was immediately recognized as an oversight by many senior Army leaders, to include Generals George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, and Dwight Eisenhower, who had come to depend on the WACs assigned to their commands. General MacArthur called WACs, "my best soldiers," adding that "they worked harder, complained less, and were better disciplined than men." After many years of public debate and in response to a worsening international environment, Congress finally approved regular and reserve component status for women. On June 12, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Public Law 625, the Women's Armed Services Integration Act.

  • 51A: Modern trivia competition locale (pub) — surprising (though perfectly accurate) to have "modern" cluing "pub."
  • 57A: Irishman who was a Time magazine Person of the Year in 2005 (Bono) — slow year?
  • 85A: Fearsome foursome team (Rams) — learned from xwords and somehow remembered.
  • 113A: Where Jean-Claude Killy practiced (Alpes) — before my time, but not before my dad's. Why I associate Killy with my dad, I don't know. He must have mentioned him or parodied him or something on one of our ski trips when I was a kid.
  • 1D: Where many commuters live, informally (The 'Burbs) — also, a Tom Hanks / Carrie Fisher film.

  • 24D: Classical rebuke (et tu) — knew this, but kept second-guessing it because it provided the "T" in the mysterious THI.
  • 77D: Singing brothers' surname (Isley) — excellent.

And now, your Puzzle Tweets of the Week — I did a bad job of culling these this week. Distracted by many things. So here's all I got.

  • arleigh on my dad's laptop right now. I just discovered that he cheats to do the NYT xword puzzle. I'm very disappointed.
  • SoCalVixen @ladieENTICIN crazy ass wants 2 broadcast us live...I'm hella sittin here doin crossword puzzles lol
  • Noy2222 Mom (doing crossword): Planet, 5 letters. starts with "Pl". Me: Hmmm... Nope, can't think of a planet that fits. Thank you stupid scientists
  • Mom101 D'OH. crossword asked for carpenter of note. It was Karen. I wrote Jesus.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

PS, ah facebook. I knew there was a reason I was on you. Here is recent video of the man who introduced me to serious crossword-solving ca. 1991. He was one of the smartest and funniest people I knew in college. Then in the summer of '91 we got a cat, and then I failed to get a pet-friendly apt. in Michigan, thus leaving him with the cat, about which situation he was not amused ... and we haven't really spoken since. When I write it out like that, it sounds silly. Anyway, it was good to see him again, if only in video form:

[better than me at crosswords and most other things]


Crosscan 9:06 AM  

I found this hard.

Heading out east today. Looked up the weather - the term humidex is used. Tomorrow the humidex will be 104F. THI stands for:"what kind of idiot travels to Toronto in August".

Chico Marx: VIADUCT? Vy-a-no-fish?

My mother was a WAC.

RONELY one word to me too until you told me.

HudsonHawk 9:08 AM  

Didn't love it.

Also never heard of THI. I wanted BTU, but that just wasn't going to work there.

Riddle-me-REE and RADIO ERA were in Thursday's and Friday's grid, respectively.

In my ears, it was alway B.U.A.C., so my lone write-over was changing 98A to B.O.A.C.

Michael Leddy 9:17 AM  

101A is another theme clue: "'Make me,'" and it's where I messed up. I had CROSSWIRES, which makes no sense, I know, but it was the only word I could figure out that worked with 87D, "Ready for a drive?" For that, I had ONCE, which I thought must be some strange term people say when golfing. Wrong sort of drive.

joho 9:22 AM  

BANG ON write-up, @Rex.

I totally agree with you about the theme. And, yes, the puzzle was not easy and it wasn't a lot of fun.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:27 AM  

Ahem, The Big 3 from the Celtics were Bird, McHale and Parish. Just sayin'.

Count me as another one who had BANG UP. Funny story: one time whilst boozing heavily at a pub in London, I told one of my Limey friends I was banged up. She politely told me that meant I was pregnant.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

H: Now, right over here...this is the residential section.
Chico: Oh, people live there, eh?
H: No, that's the stockyard. Now, all along here, this is the river front. And all along the river...all along the river, those are all levies.
Chico: That's the Jewish neighborhood?
H: Well, we'll Passover that. You're a peach, boy. Now, here is a little peninsula, and, eh, here is a viaduct leading over to the mainland.
Chico: Why a duck?
H: I'm alright, how are you? I say, here is a little peninsula, and here is a viaduct leading over to the mainland.
Chico: Alright, why a duck?
H: I'm not playing "Ask Me Another," I say that's a viaduct.
Chico: Alright! Why a duck? Why that...why a duck? Why a no chicken?
H: Well, I don't know why a no chicken; I'm a stranger here myself. All I know is that it's a viaduct. You try to cross over there a chicken and you'll find out why a duck.
Chico: When I go someplace I just...
H: (interrupts) It's...It's deep water, that's why a duck. It's deep water.
Chico: That's why a duck...
H: Look...look, suppose you were out horseback riding and you came to that stream and you wanted to ford over...You couldn't make it, it's too deep!
Chico: Well, why do you want with a Ford if you gotta horse?
H: Well, I'm sorry the matter ever came up. All I know is that it's a viaduct.
Chico: Now look, alright, I catch ona why a horse, why a chicken, why a this, why a that...I no catch ona why a duck.
H: I was only fooling...I was only fooling. They're gonna build a tunnel there in the morning. Now is that clear to you?
Chico: Yes, everything excepta why a duck.
H: Well, that's fine...then we can go ahead with this thing. Now look...I'm gonna take you down and show you our cemetery. I've got a waiting list of fifty people down at that cemetery just dying to get in it, but I like you.
Chico: Yeah, you're my friend.


JC66 9:46 AM  
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JC66 9:48 AM  

Could be a generational thing, but although I hit some of the snags you did, I found this a medium.

I think I was in high school when they "invented" THI, so it was a gimme for me.

When I was finished I had to google RONELY to find out how it's parsed.

Overall, a good Sunday for me. (-;

retired_chemist 10:02 AM  

Hard. Took me forever. Didn't like the theme any better than Rex did.

Originally had MUCOSA for BURSAE @ 12D. Still think it's a better answer.

BEQ has the right Celtic big 3.

Got RON ELY from RO??LY without having any idea it was true. Seems from Wikipedia that he has done a lot without being very well recognized.

Asked non-puzzle wife if THE VIEW had been on since 1987. Apparently not, based on the roll of her eyes. Eventually GERALDO appeared @ 42D.

Gimmes: BOONE (Why? Don't know), NIELS, CARLY, UCONN, UTAH, UTA, CORELLI (is anybody else of note named Arcangelo?), ONE-LS (which I know only from crosswords), LAST CALL (with a cross or two). WTF's: none. Stuff that took a lot of work: too much to mention.

More fun to do than this sounds like. Thanks, Mr. Ross.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

Agree with Crosscan alright... I never go to Toronto in August. It's one big sauna. I always go in the spring when the THI is tolerable.

I got Ron Ely, former Tarzan, right?

Had "teed" for "ready for a drive." Looked good, I thought.

Love the Marx dialogue (especially the cemetary part). Thanks for that! Thanks too, to Rex!

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

From aerostat and carotene to earlap and biennia: utter tommyrot.

Would rather have lanced a boil.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

More common for a brit to say "spot on." Puzzle was no fun at all.

Smitty 10:37 AM  

Oh well - at least I just post-googled and never had to pre-google.

Stephan 10:43 AM  

I really did not enjoy the theme

Sam Donaldson 10:44 AM  

RON ELY was a gimme for me as a long-time game show fan. Ely hosted a short-lived "Name That Tune" derivative called "Face the Music." About as campy as they come, but it was a fun way for a 12 year-old to learn some older show tunes.

Turns out Ely was one of very few gimmes for me in this one. I'm glad to see the "Challenging" rating.

Tim 10:47 AM  

Add me to the "Didn't Like It" column. "Tooler" for mechanic? No. If I called any of the mechanics I know, and I know several, a "tooler" I had better have a running start.

Hey, even Spell-Check hates "tooler".

Kate 10:56 AM  

ugh, too humid to bother with

Ulrich 11:04 AM  

I agree, totally, with all the above w.r.t. the theme. It's so incoherent that it actually slowed me down terribly in the NE. I was still trying to make sense of it--was the clue a description of the answer (like PECKING ORDER describes what "kiss me" means), or was it something that could be "said" by a part of the answer (like the BOOK in BOOK PROPOSAL could say "write me"), and then there was CROSS WORDS, in a league of its own. This is inconsistency writ large, and no, I'm not looking for a "foolish consistency" famously panned by Emerson.

I tend to be, on average, more positively inclined towards a puzzle than the majority here, but not today--I'm with you, all the way. If anything, I'm more negative than the rest--several times, I was ready to just give up when nothing made sense--only what puzzle wife calls my "completion complex" made me persevere, sort of.

John 11:10 AM  

Lackluster theme, Insipid(for the mostpart) fill, Too much of a slog to be enjoyable. Meh!!

Rex Parker 11:10 AM  

Ah, yes ... now even Ulrich is succumbing to my amazing powers of persuasion. Soon my plans for complete puzzle mind control will come to fruition! BWANAHAHAHAHA...


Norm 11:17 AM  

What Rex said. Many "oh, okay" moments; no "aha, laugh to self" moments. More of a chore than a pleasure. I almost packed it in to watch Liverpool & Tottenham instead, but I guess I just can't not finish a puzzle. Cheerio, spot on write up Rex.

Meg 11:20 AM  

A ONE L is a first year law student. New one for me. My first entry was BOAC "All the way the paper bag was on my knee". Great song.

Maybe a FREE RESPONSE is what you say when something is free, like "It's on me" Too lame?

I thought ONCD was kind of cute. I was going for a golf term.

Overall not a fun puzzle, but certainly challenging.

retired_chemist 11:26 AM  

@ Canadians who think Toronto is hot and muggy in summer - try Houston sometime. We have a show there next week. Only plus is that it is almost as bad here in the Dallas BURBS, so we won't notice it so much....

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

A boorish egocentric theme.

Ruth 11:38 AM  

I had a (to me) funny misread of the clue for "Tubal Ligation" (a somewhat non-breakfast-test topic, I thought). I read "______LITIGATION" and decided to come back to it later. Then when I saw TUBAL emerging I went back to the clue, and lo, it said "___LIGATION" which I assume is what it said all along. The reason this is funny to me--I am never-endingly amused at the way people spell the name of this operation on their medical history forms--the commonest is TUBALIZATION with various spellings of it (tubliation, tubalation)--and recently a patient did actually write out, in very nice handwriting, TUBAL LITIGATION. I hope there wasn't some sad story behind that. . .(sad for whom? Perhaps for the patient, perhaps for the doctor. NEVER sad for the lawyer)

dk 11:48 AM  

Random firings

@ulrich in your blue robe (as seen in your Dansk/deck photo) you bare a strong resemblance to Papa Smurf.

I apologize for fostering Rex's megalomania.

Last nights Woodstock tribute was rained out: fitting.

Wet Bulb and Dry Bulb sound naughty to me. TOOLER is down right pornographic and 107A shall not be mentioned.

TARP in a puzzle cannot be good.

101A cool.

RADIOERA is popular these days.

I remember Ron Ely as the tidy Tarzan (he was the 15th).

And any puzzle that refers to the Marx Brothers is fine by me. Off to shoot an elephant in my pajamas.

chefbea 11:54 AM  

Hated the puzzle. Made no sense!!! Glad I'm leaving for the Tar Heel state tomorrow. Maybe we will be near Boone.

Oh - of course I knew Uconn.

See you all next week end

archaeoprof 11:58 AM  

I enjoyed too much cabernet last night, so this puzzle was tough for me this morning.

But, Rex, I will resist your powers of persuasion. Even Ulrich and Chefbea have given in, but to me, this puzzle was hard, but not unfair.

Answers like ELKO, RONELY, FARAD, TOMMYROT, and EARLAP were weird, but gettable on crosses.

twangster 12:02 PM  

I agree this puzzle was a real slog (no fun at all). After the great puzzles on Friday and Saturday I guess we were due for a stinker.

pednsg 12:20 PM  

Wasn't crazy about this one - like most of the above, the theme didn't feel tight to me. I did like NAPE and ONCD (I also had TEED)once I figured them out. I got crushed by refusing to change ENCIRCLE for 82D - much better than ENGIRDLE. I've seen EARLAP in puzzles before - I still think it's lame.

On a positive note - after yesterday's puzzle, I wanted to read more about Ambrose Bierce, and was able to download "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Very cool (and free)!

Two Ponies 12:25 PM  

If anyone is interested, our constructor from yesterday stopped by for a late commentary. I love it when they do that.
I'm off tonight on a red-eye flight to Florida for two weeks.
No doubt I will be well aware of the
THI there! Living in the desert we have plenty of T with very little H.
If anyone is looking for me I will be that greasy little puddle on the beach.
Puzzle? Was there a puzzle today?

jeff in chicago 12:30 PM  

Ugh. This was not much fun.

Not familiar with the Marx Brothers? I may have to leave this blog!!!!

And Rex...I assume your friend is the "conspiracy theorist" and not the host? Funny clip!

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

All I can say is I made it to the end (with two breaks). When I finally finished, I thought "it actually wasn't that hard, but it WAS that hard!" (if that makes any sense.) I got the theme at 23A, did it help? Not really. No confidence boost today, just a not very enjoyable slog.
Googled 93D: EARLAP Another name for an EARFLAP. OK, I guess. Dictionary says so.
The THI here is 64F/94% - dark, rainy day (just like yesterday).

Rod from Binghamton 12:47 PM  

"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" via the Twilight Zone.

treedweller 12:52 PM  

I'm with Rex on "pod". Never heard of GAM except as slang for legs. That plus "warm" for FIRM and some blind spots left the SE mostly blank last night. I figured it out this morning fairly quickly.

What I didn't get was BOAC/ONCD. I came here for the C. I finally accepted TENDEROFFER even though I never quite understood what was so TENDER about it. I guess it all depends on context, but most of the other theme answers were spot on, I thought, and I couldn't make sense of this one.

A recurring pet peeve is ELM clued as hardwood. I mean, it's basically true, but I have never heard of anyone making lumber from an ELM. I would consider ELM inferior firewood. The right answer is always oak, and it almost never fits.

But, overall, I didn't think this was any more of a slog than most Sundays. Marx Brothers brought back fond memories (you really should watch them, Rex), as did Geraldo. I don't understand all the VENOM toward it.

@yesterday I came up with another way to clue ARETOO: "Nickname of a Star Wars droid (var.)" Retorts don't look so bad now, do they?

Greene 1:03 PM  

@Jeff in chicago: Don't get your Horse Feathers all ruffled up! Here's some of The Cocoanuts to calm you down. The "Why a Duck" sequence begins around the 3:39 mark.

This puzzle had a theme? Who knew? I went to the LAT today looking for a theme too. Guess what? No theme. OKay, so I'm exaggerating just a little bit. Where's Elizabeth Gorski when you need her?

pednsg 1:04 PM  

@Rod from Binghamton - thanks for the link - will have to wait until much later to watch it. I hope I don't have nightmares tonight - that show would FREAK ME OUT as a kid, and I haven't seen it in decades!

Glitch 1:08 PM  

Today was different for me, I was in sync with the puzzle and out of sync with the comments!

I found the puzzle fairly easy, cought on to the theme early, and filled in the rest of them with only a couple of letters.

Sure, a few answers will a bit obsure, (Rio Diablo), but they fell with the crosses and I deemed them plausible.

I don't object to answers I get from crosses rather than *knowing them*, as long as they come out *correct*, that being what the constructor intended.

Once done, I then go back and look at the construction and quality. Could this one have been better? Sure. Were there some forced areas? Yup. Deep analysis of theme implementation reveals inconsistancies? Probably.

This was one of my faster Sunday times.


chefwen 1:19 PM  

I thought this puzzle was a slog and a half. Got PECKING ORDER first and thought "oh, this is going to be cute" NOT!! I was just happy to be done with the damn thing after what seemed to be hours, oh yeah, it was hours.

@Chefbea - Have a trouble free move.

H.G. Wells 1:24 PM  

Riddle-me, riddle-me,
Perhaps you can tell
What this riddle may be:
As deep as a house,
As round as a cup,
And all the King's horses
Cannot draw it up.

Leon 1:51 PM  

Thank you Mr. Ross.

Thanks RP for the THAT LADY (1973) clip, here is the 1964 version.

mac 2:05 PM  

I thought it was the jet-lag...

@Rex: were you thinking of "Corelli's Mandolin"? And did your father have a "Killy" parka? Those must have been popular in the late 70's, my husband had (has?) one.

Never heard of the Isley brothers, and only know Ron Ely as Tarzan from crosswords.

"Earlap" makes me laugh. OK, smile.

@Chefbea, safe trip!

ArtLvr 2:06 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 2:08 PM  

Oh dear, as Ruth noted I was reading "litigation" before I went back to try again. I also clung to "Spot on" for too long, a much better answer than BANG ON as far as I'm concerned.

Also, I think "tennis elbow" has to do with inflammation of the BURSAE for that joint... Feeling achy just thinking about it!

It was all gettable, but I wish I'd saved it for a long winter's night rather than a balmy summer day... Pfui.


chefbea 2:27 PM  

@chefwen not moving yet. Just going for the closing. We'll pack up later after we hopefully sell our condo

Anne 2:35 PM  

I'm out of sync today because I liked it. I thought it was difficult with a lot of interesting clues/answers - in other words, perfect. I also like it when the theme doesn't give the whole thing away. My only error was in Boac/Oncd - I came here for the C.

And I love viaduct - it keeps running through my head now - viaduct - vi not - viaduct - vi not. Thank you, @anon at 9:29 for the dialogue. And @dk - you gotta get that elephant out of your pajamas.

Thanks also to H.G.Wells at 1:24 for the poem. I always wonder where that comes from and I never look it up.

@Matt - Re Pillars, unfortunately my husband liked it too and gave it to me to read. (And fortunately Two Ponies agreed with me.) I read some reviews on-line after I threw it to the side and people seem to either love it or hate it. And so it goes.

edith b 2:39 PM  

I assume "tight" means the relationship between the clues to the theme and the theme itself is strong which obviously is not the case today. I struggled all through the puzzle.

I even had a problem with some of the fill although I tend to disagree about "Rio Diablo". Even an obscure TV movie from 15 years ago is fair game if the constructor comes at it from the rights direction. Any movie that has Kenny Rogers with top billing is bound to be obscure ( and not so good to boot). Then again a French New Wave film from the late 50s fits this bill too and must be well clued to be gettable.

As someone wiser than me has noted before ONE PERSONS NEON IS ANOTHERS WTF.

MadWoman 2:49 PM  

Dullsville, almost as boring as the incessant Woodstock rehashing. I'd even prefer one of those town meetings.

Mike 2:59 PM  

Didn't hate it, but agree with the dislike of the theme. Never heard of GAM. Pulled RON ELY out some synapses that could probably be put to better use. ONCD was the best fill of the puzzle - even after filling it with the crosses, I puzzled over what it meant for a bit.

Originally had JONAS instead of ISLEY. That's my daughters' influence, I guess!

PlantieBea 3:02 PM  

A very low enjoyment factor today on this one for me too. Too much work and just not enough fun with the answers. Got this without googling, but it took me too long, especially in the top section.

My teen kids think Bohemian Rhapsody came to us from an alien world. I have not heard of THI, and we live in the thick of tropical humidity and temps. We usually get a heat index report that says it's hotter than it feels--of course. We're keeping our fingers crossed that tropical systems A, B, and C spin themselves out in the middle of nowhere.

fikink 3:06 PM  

@Ruth, artlvr, did the exact same thing, read, "Litigation" and had to come back to it.

@pednsg, Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is another film you should see; too bad you know the ending.

@treedweller, I don't understand all the VENOM either.

@JC66, Crosscan, guess I didn't drink the koolaid, after all. I thought the puzzle was fun and smart. But maybe that is all related to the rain that is keeping me inside today, wanting to ponder a less straightforward puzzle.

Randolph Ross, it was good for me.

jae 3:15 PM  

Rex pretty much captured my experience with and feelings about this one. So, there is nothing much to add.

@pednsg - I also had ENCIRCLED but ORDER made me give it up.

edmcan 3:20 PM  

It is so comforting to come here and read all this stuff after struggling with this stupid puzzle.

Just goes to show that misery does indeed like co.

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

Worst puzzle in months especially the East section (MidEast?) Ross is no Brit. "National Grandparents Day is a secular holiday celebrated in the United States and Canada on the first Sunday after Labor Day and is celebrated in the United Kingdom ON THE FIRST SUNDAY IN OCTOBER." OCT in 78A messed me up for a long while. Also had SPOTON for 45A, then BRILLY, which made 2D AEROSTR? and 45A S?NER?I? SYNERGIC? For 70D couldn't stop thinking of "hamper" as a verb, but BAN made 75A FAR?DIRECTION. FARM? Made about as much sense as the rest of the weird, twisted answers. Especially the themes, which should be witty, not a painful, joyless stretch toward the overly obscure. This one gets the booby prize.

XMAN 3:49 PM  

The whole thing was WTF (What's This Foolishness). Between this and the tougher-than-usual Acrostic I wasted hours--and I don't say that lightly.

Had 'spoton' for 41a, and was loath to give it up. Thought some of the theme answers were stretched. There was no warning that 'Alps' was to be spelled French-style. I thought RIALTO was a common name for a movie theater, not a (114a) "Theater area." (Haven't looked that up yet. Perhaps I'll seem foolish. Won't be the first time!)

NewsDeskGuy 3:55 PM  

Nonsensical, tedious exercise. We ditched the puzzle away 1/4 of the way through. The puzzle editor thinks this worthy of the NYT magazine? Scary.

Stan 3:56 PM  

Glad it was rated 'Challenging'. Was beginning to think my IQ was dropping inversely to the THI.

Screwed up the 'Rio Diablo' section (please, Will, do not make Made-for-TV movie titles a regular thing!)

Did like GEL, BOAC, RENE Dubos and NO NUKES.

santafefran 3:58 PM  

@green mantis
Perhaps your were thinking of Maxfield Parrish with the sunsets and gauzy women?

Count me in as a fan of Pillars of the Earth and its sequel World Without End

Anonymous 4:06 PM  

Rex said...

38D: Arcangelo _____, Italian violin master (Corelli) — pieced it together eventually. Sounds familiar, but my xword violin knowledge gets thin after AMATI and STRAD.

Indeed, because AMATI and STRAD(ivarius) are violin makers, while CORELLI is clued as a violin master (i.e. virtuoso). Which indeed he was, but only known now as a composer (too many great selections on Youtube to pick any one out).


@Mike said...

ONCD was the best fill of the puzzle - even after filling it with the crosses, I puzzled over what it meant for a bit.

Well, Mike, you're far from the only one who was puzzled, because the unhinted abbreviated answer is "ON C.D." Grrr...

C'mon, folks, am I the only one offended by this cluelessness??? I thought it was a big deal on this blog.



Lili 4:13 PM  

Ouch. This was not enjoyable. I knew a lot of the non-theme answers -- BOAC, Corelli, Turow's first book, "One-L." Even Ron Ely was familiar to me, because I'd seen, back in the dark ages, a Tarzan movie in which he appeared. However, I didn't know he'd ever had anything to do with the Miss America Pageant.

But the theme took a while to make sense. I got "Mass Appeal" first, and "appeal" helped me get "plea" and "proposal" and "direction," but the first words in the theme answers were sometimes long in coming.

And then I had to cheat and look up "Rio Diablo." I hate to do that, but I was stuck on that section, and there was no way I could possibly have figured out the title of the film.

And after all that, I felt no sense of satisfaction, because of the cheating. I repeat: ouch.

joho 4:16 PM  

@Smitty & @santafefran ... great looking dogs!

jim in chicago 4:31 PM  

My oops for the was missing RIODIABLO by a mile. Based on the first RI and the I from CORELLI, I confidently filled in RINTINTIN. LOL

obertb 5:07 PM  

Don't have time today to read all the comments above, so forgive me if I repeat what someone already pointed out, but "violin master" Arcangelo Corelli was a composer and violinist, not a violin maker like Stradavari and Amati, and thus not really comparable.

Also: GAM for herd of whales--haven't run across that since the Maleska era! Minus one point for that!

Otherwise, a moderately difficult Sunday. Not too excited about the theme, either.

Roger in Bklyn Hts 5:15 PM  

Rex.....having worked the counter at a diner i have served folks with the "feed me" caveman 'tude. As unpleasant as today's nonsense puzzle. i'm unimpressed by the crossing themes because they're neither funny nor interesting.

i felt compelled to write in because we spent five dollars for the Sunday NYT. Not worth it!

Karen from the Cape 5:56 PM  

I mussed up with ELDEST/OLDEST in the SE corner. I forgot that ETS is Educational Testing Service. Plus I couldn't get the BOAC/ONCD cross. Meh.

Ulrich 7:21 PM  

@dk: It's those slippers, I know. In any case, if I had had a red hat, I'd have worn it, not to mention pajamas with elephants in them...

thebubbreport 7:48 PM  

Really hard, because the non-theme theme didn't help with the tough clues. I don't know my violin people or Miss America hosts besides Bert Parks. I was so thrown I could not even come up with CARLY Simon - all I had to offer was Duran Duran's Simon LEBON ;)

The only Kenny Rogers movie references that should be allowed in the NYTimes crossword need to have the words "GAMBLER" or "SIX PACK" in them.


PuzzleGirl 8:27 PM  

I don't know. Just didn't seem that bad to me. I came at it from a different perspective than usual though. I helped Sam with some technical issues over at Orange's blog before I had done the puzzle and, therefore, saw some of the clues/answers. So when I sat down to solve the puzzle I thought, I don't know, it would be easier? And it was still hard, but, didn't seem that much harder than usual. I even got a kick out of the theme.

That said, though, I'd bet quite a bit of money that I'm the biggest Travis Tritt fan on this board and even I hadn't heard of that movie.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:03 PM  

I guess I'm the only one who is totally clueless regarding sports: For 31 A, Seeding org., I put in NCAA before crosses lead me to USTA.

I completed this puzzle at the beach today, which means no Googling, with very few write-overs, but count me among those who found it thorny and not much fun.

Glitch 9:10 PM  

Continue to be bemused by those complaining "had to get it from the crosses". Naticks excepted, I thought this was the point of a crossword puzzle.

Also, complaining "never heard of..." (ie Gam vrs Pod) just shows a narrowness of thinking, perfect for a constructor's exploitation.

Just because it's not what you expected doesn't make it "bad". I wonder how many GAM objectors actually looked it up then filed it away for future refrence.

When a clue seems obscure, look for patterns. Italian names often end in I or O, a Rogers and Tritt TV title is probably southwesternish. RIO DIABLO seems reasonable without ever having heard of it.

If the word is at the bottom of a couple of columns, guess one with lots of e's and s's. Try to think like a constructor.

Having to use across's (acrossi?) certainly will slow down (and thus annoy) speed solvers, but I don't have a problem unless I'm running out of coffee in MY timer.

But as I said, speed solvers have a diffrent agenda.

I had fun today, too bad so many of you didn't.


Anonymous 10:52 PM  

DSO (Distinguished Service Order )is British; DSM (Distinguished Service Medal) is American

Anonymous 10:52 PM  

DSO (Distinguished Service Order )is British; DSM (Distinguished Service Medal) is American

michael 10:58 PM  

I didn't find this hard, but agree with most of you that this wasn't a great puzzle. Not much of a theme.

For what it is worth, I got THI quickly and knew what it meant. I wonder when the term was invented and if it's not used so much anymore.

HudsonHawk 11:30 PM  

@Glitch, I think it's unfair to characterize those of us that didn't like the puzzle as speed solvers. I'm definitely not in that category, and I didn't think this was a very good puzzle. I know many others that have had negative comments are also not speed solvers.

I love learning new things from the puzzle, but that didn't happen today.

Anonymous 11:57 PM  

I agree with Glitch. I enjoyed the puzzle and found it quite clever.

If you don't like puzzles don't do them, find a new hobby. The complaining and whining gets old.

XMAN 12:02 AM  

@Anonymous (whatever time, you all tend to run togethjer in one runny mass): Your triumphalism is not any better.

edith b 12:21 AM  

Thank you, XMAN. I was about to respond to Mr Anonymouse as I find the sniping at a remove gets old in its own right.

Anonymous 12:25 AM  

People forked over money to solve that mess. They deserve something
better. They have a right to complain.

Elaine 3:25 AM  

Wow, am I glad to see "Challenging" and "Hate it" comments here! Usually Sunday's puzzles are fun. This took me literally all day--a lot of breaks for lengthy chores, etc.--and I still had some empty single blanks that never clarified. I did not Google anything, but wish I had!
The Heat Index (which was wrong) worked for me, and I even got Ron Ely (though thought only of Tarzan)...but the big disappointment was the disjointed "theme." I even complained to my non-puzzler hubby at some length while we floated around in the swimming pool --(THI very high today!) He is the guy, so he is supposed to give me Sports answers; today--nuthin'!

Glitch 8:50 AM  


(If you check back)

Didn't mean to imply all the negatives were speed solvers.

To clarify: I can understand speed solvers dismay, others just bemuse me.


HudsonHawk 11:18 PM  


I love your posts, so I hope I didn't convey otherwise. I just didn't love the puzzle, and I'm generally very forgiving in my commentary. About the only thing I learned from this one was that Kenny Rogers and Travis Tritt starred in a crappy TV movie called RIO DIABLO. Not exactly a watershed moment for Sunday fare.

Anonymous 1:07 PM  

I too found this hard and not fun. I live in England (I get the Herald Tribune each weekend to satisfy my NY Times Sunday crossword addiction), and have never once heard Scotland referred to as the Land of Cakes (when I saw the clue, though, I thought, 'Oh boy, I want to go there!').
Obviously had no clue about the Kenny Rogers thing, and the theme & its answers made no sense to me either. I had 'pod' at 96A forever, until I worked out the rest of the section and realised it was wrong. Harrumph.

nurturing 4:21 PM  

re Rex: "never heard of it" about "Giselle"

If you click through to my blog, you'll find my reviews of four Giselle performances by American Ballet Theater in February, with different principal dancers. ABT also did a whack of Giselles during its NY season.

It's only THE quintessential romantic ballet, perhaps the third most well-known ballet after Nutcracker and Swan Lake.

swimslikeafish 7:42 PM  

While I agree with most that this was very hard, and some of the clues a fair stretch, I still liked it and felt victorious when done! Unlike others, I thought the theme was more interesting than most. When I figured out that the second word was always some kind of "talk" -- message, appeal, words, order, direction -- while the first word was a pun on the clue, it wasn't exactly easy but it was quite pleasurable.
Smart puzzle, despite the awful holder of bodily fluids. In desperation, I had both "nurses" and "purses" at that one for a while. Yuck.

Terry 9:09 PM  

Sorry, but this was no fun at all. Simply not rewarding.

jamie 11:15 PM  

Final straw!! We've noticed years of bias towards publishing puzzles created by men. My daughters will some day join the work force, and as NYT shareholders, we notice when women are excluded. Sunday after Sunday, it's another *guy* puzzle, like this unrewarding tedium. i work for a national social justice agency and expect progressive practices from The New York Times.

thanx Rex, great blog

Fran 9:18 AM  

Perhaps the most joyless NY Times Crossword I have ever done. Figuring out the theme didn't help me one iota. Resorted to internet cheating.

Every comment of yours was spot on.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

I cannot believe that this boring - make that boorish- puzzle actually made it into the Sunday NYT. While one cannot expect Patrick Berry every week, some constructor somewhere must have submitted something more clever than this. One of the least entertaining puzzles I have ever seen.

nurturing 7:09 PM  

Poor Randolph Ross!

I didn't think it was so bad. It certainly took me all evening, compared to the usual two hours or so - I am NOT a 10-minute solver, and would hate to be. I enjoy the pleasure of the puzzle, my favorite pen, a clean unwrinkled page, a beverage and lots of leisure time, often interrupted by family needs - which made me all the more pleased when I finished it, completely without googling (which I never have to anymore).

Anonymous 1:43 AM  

I became addicted to NYT crosswords when I lived in NYC in the 60's - in the East 70's. 50 years later, and retired in beautiful Vancouver BC, I still devote my Sunday mornings to the best puzzle in the world. (We get it a week later). I say the best puzzle in the world until this week.
Arghh! What a disappointment this ridiculous puzzle was. Bad theme, bad clues - bad, bad, bad! A waste of time!

L.G. 9:44 PM  

I was convinced that it was "spot on" not "bang on" and it really screwed me up in the beginning.

gourmande 3:24 PM  

ugh... and I still don't understand 112A Draft status: ONEA ... huh?

tubal reversal 1:28 AM  

This article definitely provides correct information opn tubal ligation and tubal ligation reversal. Another great thing about my baby doc Reversal Center is that they provide accurate and truthful statistics. Others do not provide this information.

What a wonderful option for women out there who are desiring to have more children after a tubal ligation.
The suggestion are highly appreciated

Sue Osborne 11:04 AM  

First time I haven't been able to finish the Sunday puzzle in months. Ugh.

Anonymous 9:27 PM  

This puzzle was a poser for sure. I try not to reference my friend google, but my curiosity got the better of me. I look forward to this challenge every week and have never been disappointed. Baffled yes, befuddled always!

nurturing 10:19 PM  

"gourmande said...
ugh... and I still don't understand 112A Draft status: ONEA ... huh?"

Read it as 1A.

nurturing 10:19 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
nurturing 10:25 PM  

Further, in case you don't understand the 1-A U.S. army classification:

1-A means "available for unrestricted military service."

O.K.? ;)

tubal reversal 3:55 AM  

This does not surprise me with the laws. I know of a state where a couple wanted to have IVF treatments to have a child due to a previous tubal ligation and the physicians would not do it because the couple was not married. Which the woman ended up having tubal reversal surgery performed at mubabydoc Tubal Reversal Center which was outside of the couples home state. Not only was it cheaper but the pregnancy success is much better.
There are people that change their minds but they should be the ones to make the decisions and not the government.
I would start by asking the physician if there is anyone else he/she can suggest to contact. If this does not work then I would be searching quite a bit. The answer is out there somewhere.
The suggestion are highly appreciated

tubal reversal 3:56 AM  

This does not surprise me with the laws. I know of a state where a couple wanted to have IVF treatments to have a child due to a previous tubal ligation and the physicians would not do it because the couple was not married. Which the woman ended up having tubal reversal surgery performed at mubabydoc Tubal Reversal Center which was outside of the couples home state. Not only was it cheaper but the pregnancy success is much better.
There are people that change their minds but they should be the ones to make the decisions and not the government.
I would start by asking the physician if there is anyone else he/she can suggest to contact. If this does not work then I would be searching quite a bit. The answer is out there somewhere.
The suggestion are highly appreciated

marie 12:28 PM  

I agree. This one was obscure without being interesting. I have heard of Rene Dubos, but no more than that. I've been to Boone, and I've seen the ballet Giselle. Once I changed walk-ons to walk-ins, I got vise and then viaduct--the best answer in it. Gam, I looked up, because I knew it was in Roget's list next to pod. TARP I never found by trying to look up. Gave up the whole puzzle.

marie 12:35 PM  

I figured out THI. 50 years ago, Bob and Ray called it the "unbearability index." They said "When the temperature plus the humidity reaches 150, it's unbearable. I live in California now, and no longer care.

tubal reversal 3:40 AM  

yup its really a critical condition when the temperature goes up day by day. As far as the scientific knowledge is concern about the atmosphere is that the temperature goes rise just because of the destroying of the ozone layer so all the harmful rays directly hit the atmosphere.
because of the rise in temperature humidity also increase with the same ratio.
the main problem that occur due to the increase in temperature is the miscarriage so we should try to reduce the pollution and try to get the knowledge about the precaution that must be taken by a pregnant women during the days of pregnancy...

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