Original host of Breakfast at Wimbledon —SATURDAY, Sep. 5 2009— Housemother to Tootie / Company that provided equipment for reality show The Contender

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Constructor: Mike Nothnagel

Relative difficulty: No Idea

THEME: none

NOTE: "This crossword was the playoff puzzle at Lollapuzzoola, a crossword tournament directed by Brian Cimmet and Ryan Hecht, held in Jackson Heights, Queens, on August 22. The winner, Dan Feyer, of New York City, finished it perfectly in 7 minutes 10 seconds."

Word of the Day: SEA MONKEYs (15D: Pet for which you can buy an Aqua-Leash) Sea-Monkeys are a variant of brine shrimp or Artemia salina, originating in salt lakes and evaporation flats. They are members of the phylum Arthropoda[1] now called Artemia salina × nyos. In the United Kingdom in the 1970s they were called "Artful Arties". [...] The key ability of unhatched "Sea-Monkeys" to be packaged, shipped, and handled is that, in certain environments, they enter cryptobiosis, a natural state of suspended animation. When released into the prepared aquarium they leave this state and emerge from their cysts. The genetic variant of brine shrimp, the Sea-Monkey, was given the term "instant life" to reflect the instant hatching seen when the cysts are added to the saltwater medium. (wikipedia)

As the note says, this was the playoff puzzle at "Lollapuzzoola II," the tournament in Queens I went to two weeks ago. Figured I'd soar through it (since I'd done it already and seen it solved on stage), and I did, but not nearly as quickly as I'd have thought. My problem, it turns out: I'd never looked at the "Express" clues (the harder clues used for the top level of the Finals). I'd solved along with the "Local" finalists (the tournament's second-tier or B Division), and their clues were substantially easier. So I'd filled in this grid before, but not with these clues, and since I've done probably fifty to seventy-five puzzles since then, this one did not come back to me with great ease. I *believe* the clues in today's published puzzle are the "Express" clues, but there may have been some alterations; this may, in fact, be some hybrid, third incarnation. I'll ask around. (NOTE: found my copy of the tournament puzzle and "Express" clues appear to match today's NYT puzzle clues exactly, or almost exactly)

I got to sit on the stage after the Finals and talk to the puzzle's constructor about how it all came together. He may or may not drop by later and give you a little insight. I know that MAJOR AXIS was the seed answer (3D: Line that passes through both of an ellipse's foci) — like several constructors I know, Mike is a mathematician. I think the most enjoyable answer for a lot of people at the tourney was EVIL TWINS (2D: Bad copies?). The only grumbling I heard was for E-SIGN (29A: Endorse on a Web site maybe) — that grumbling was coming from me — NEED ASAP (17A: Note on a time-sensitive document), and, oddly, SEA MONKEY, if only because no one ever owned a *single* SEA MONKEY. They are almost inherently plural (this didn't bother me — I'm just reporting what I heard). If I remember correctly, Mike was unaware that the tennis clue at 14D: Original host of "Breakfast at Wimbledon" (Enberg) might reasonably cause people, especially after a few crosses were in place, to try EDBERG (as in Stefan, as in the former world #1 men's tennis player). These clues did not feature the trap I fell into when I first solved this puzzle. I forget what the "Local" clue for SEL was (here, it's 22A: Poivre's counterpart), but I know that I wanted MER [the clue was 22A: Fleur de _____ (sea salt from France)], and with that in place, whatever the clue for REPEL was [it was 12D: Fend off] led very easily to DETER, so I was stuck for a good while with MER/DETER in that NE corner. Not pleasant. I think that was the hardest corner for me by far.

I was very excited about PAPELBON (56A: Pitcher who struck out the final batter of the 2007 World Series), and Mike said that was just good luck, nothing planned. When he worked his way down into that corner, he saw the possibility for PAPELBON and threw it across, then built the corner around him. Nice, of course, that PAPELBON intersects another, greater pitcher in Warren SPAHN (46D: Braves pitcher who won the 1957 Cy Young). Also great to have the called STRIKE ONE over there in the other southerly corner (31D: Call at home). All in all, a quirky, enjoyable, toughish puzzle.


  • 13A: First monarch to be crowned Tsar of All Russia (Ivan IV) — like all tsars and popes and many kings, I filled it in by feel, groping along with the crosses until everything looked solid.
  • 16A: 1997 Demi Moore movie with the tagline "Failure is not an option" ("G.I. Jane") — along with PAPELBON, one of a only a few gimmes in the grid.
  • 21A: It's classified by the U.S.D.A. as red meat under cooking guidelines and as poultry under inspection standards (emu) — probably the longest clue EMU ever got.
  • 58A: 1978 King novel rereleased in a "Complete and uncut" version in 1990 ("The Stand") — not a gimme, but close. I remember the "rerelease" from college.
  • 59A: Winner of the 2002 Academy Award for Best Original Song (Eminem) — man, I was really looking for a song title here.
  • 6D: Company that provided equipment for the reality show "The Contender" (Everlast) — boxing equipment. There's a rapper called EVERLAST, which I know Mike knows ... but test-solvers (and probably Mike himself) declared the rap clue just too tough. Would have been a gimme for me. Rap-haters, count yourselves lucky.

[mmm, early 90s rap]
  • 25D: Took a lot of punches? (tied one one) — despite appearances, NOT a boxing clue. Punch here = spiked punch. Rum punch. Etc. On this go 'round, this answer was the very last one I got (at the "D" of "DIE OF shame," 39A).
  • 7D: Needed a coating of heated propylene glycol, say (iced up) — "say," HA ha. Yeah, people "say" that all the time.
  • 11D: "Gigantic (_____ of Two Johns)," 2002 documentary about They Might Be Giants ("A Tale") — wow, what a weird, wacky clue for "A TALE." Screw you, Dickens! I have warm, hilarious, nostalgic feelings about They Might Be Giants. My sister and I listened to their first two albums incessantly when we drove up the western U.S. to visit our aunt/uncle/cousins in Sun Valley one summer in the late 80s. This was my introduction to the crosswordy town of ELKO, where we failed to secure a hotel room because of the glut of senior gambling junkets overrunning the town. We ended up in a the diviest motel I've ever stayed in in my life to this day. Somewhere in Wells, NV. We called our mom from a corner payphone in the middle of the night and told her we were just fine, the young prostitutes with the boom box on the sidewalk outside our room seemed very nice.

  • 33D: Housemother to Tootie, Natalie, Blair and Jo (Edna) — ooh, another gimme. Charlotte RAE (who played EDNA) is in the puzzle not infrequently.
  • 43D: Garment that's often reconstructed before each wearing (turban) — good clue.
  • 44D: Food used as an antiseptic during World War I (garlic) — it's good stuff. I try to eat some every day.
  • 47D: Structure made from poles and hides (tepee) — that's pretty easy.
  • 50D: Cry from the accused ("Who, me!?") — for some reason (maybe the clue I had was different) I had WHY ME!? (and I wasn't alone).

[mmm, early 90s rap]
  • 53D: Mrs. Lovett in "Sweeney Todd," for one (alto) — this one had me wondering when Julia Roberts was ever in "Sweeney Todd" (I know, she's not Mrs. Lovett now, but she was).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Anonymous 8:33 AM  

I started in the NW and noted the DEMI in 1A and then the GI Jane and started looking for Bruce related fill. I couldn't figure out the NEED A SAP fill. I also read it as TEAL EAVES which would be a house decorators dream, I suppose. I need to learn more American argot. I thought this was a super Saturday test, but 7 minutes is pretty amazing from Dan F.


toothdoc 8:36 AM  

1st Saturday NYT completed with no mistakes and no googles. Good way to start a long weekend. Had INCREASE for 14A for awhile which gave me SEAL and ASAGA in between correct downs. That along with WHYME in the southeast held me up for a while.

Love that this blog brings me back to earth. Moments after bragging to my wife about finishing this puzzle (and in 40 minutes) I see that it is completed in 7 minutes - I'm just going to have to accept that I'm SLOWER because of ATROPHY from having TIED ONE ON too often.

Elaine 8:36 AM  

One too many sports clues--even crossing one another!-sigh.
The NW came together quickly, but between the Oscars, the World Series, and things like METONYM and ESIGN, all of my entries looked wrong to me.

I Googled the pitchers and tried to find the Best Original Song--and unfortunately for me, Randy NEWMAN fit, even though it interfered with DEMS. I guess I had typed in the wrong year.

I've reached the point that it feels like a defeat if I Google...but I was NEVER going to get SEAMONKEY. (And you're right, Rex: NObody gets just ONE!)

See you guys in a few weeks!

SethG 8:38 AM  

For some reason I tried CATCH instead of TRAWL, and then TONIC crossed perfectly in SINEW's spot and threw that corner off for me but good.

And, and I'm _so_ embarrassed here, BIJECTION for the math. I didn't remember what the ellipse thing was called, and bijection is mathematical so it seemed rock solid. Ugh. I know what a bijective function is. I _know_ it. Some coach I am!

BIRD'S nest instead of WASPS', looking for a fur term for farrier, and DIRTY shame also helped make this thornier than it should have been. In any case, a nice Saturday workout.

My first guess for EMU: ham.

nanpilla 8:51 AM  

Hey, I'm back from the Keys to a couple of great puzzles. Did Friday at the airport yesterday and this one after I got home last night. I would rate this one medium-challenging. Guessed right with the SPAHN,PAPELBON crossing, the A seemed like the only likely letter to go in there, but I've never heard of either of them.

Took the girls fishing on Tuesday and caught a 7 lb. mutton snapper -dinner for three. On Wednesday, we went diving and brought back 4 lobsters - yum! Then a relaxing day for pedicures and reading.

Karen from the Cape 8:54 AM  

I could remember Papelbon's name because of the story of his dog eating the game winning baseball. That's the kind of sports story that I like. I wanted RECEIVED for the time sensitive material, but I also really wanted REPEL at 12D.

I liked the third rap song. I was hoping to some secret element connecting all three videos, but instead just found a chain of jumping in the first two vids and puppets in the last two.

Brian Cimmet 9:01 AM  

Hey Rex, I wanted to pipe in here to say that ESIGN isn't Mike's fault -- it's mine.

Because this puzzle was part of a tournament, I tried to skirt around using the same entries in more than one grid.

Mike's original crossing there was VSIGN/VASE -- and V-SIGN was a theme entry in another tournament puzzle. We couldn't change the theme entry, but we could rework the area in Mike's puzzle.

I'm not a huge fan of E- words like that, but it seemed like a good switch for this situation, especially since "reworking" the section only required changing ONE letter.

Jeffrey 9:02 AM  

PAPLEBON is a running joke on Ryan and Brian's podcast, so regular listener Dan Feyer would have had a slight edge there. Not that he needed it.

("PAPPLEBAUM as Crosscan spells it" is another running joke; you need to listen to understand.)

With my Lollapuzzoola completed version in hand, I did this in AcrossLite in 1:10. Record Saturday.

I was expecting to use this puzzle as a unique opportunity to compare original clues to Will's changes, but he left them alone! It is an excellent puzzle, as were all at the Tournament.

imsdave 9:05 AM  

Nice Saturday. I had a pretty typical solving experience. Got the west in about 15 minutes, froze up, set it down and did the LAT (smooth, if a tad easy for the day). Came back, and went through AMEN - CODA (that hurt as it was half right) - and finally TADA. Medium-challenging for me too.

Tadpod 9:10 AM  

Eminem won in 2003. Newman in 2002 which was clued in the puzzle....had an out of body experience on that one...did it slip by Will?

John 9:10 AM  


Had to google the baseball clues. Not much of a sports person.

58 mins, not bad for me on a saturday.

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

Crosscan...1:10 for a Saturday! Way to go dude. BTW, are you the winner of the contest?

Smooth puzzle, but V-sign is nicer because I was wondering if you make a mistake in an E-SIGN if you E-ERASE?

Alex S. 9:14 AM  

I was very proud of myself for remember PAPELBON once I had the -BON. Unfortunately I remembered his name as APPLEBON. I think APPLEBON would be a very good idea for Cinnabon to sell, certainly better than their pecan cinnamon rolls.

It is good to be reminded that Eminem has more Oscars on his mantle than John Barrymore, Cary Grant, Charles Chaplin, and Peter O'Toole combined (I know, there's some honorary lifetime achievement ones in that list, but still).

joho 9:17 AM  

What is it about the NW corner this week? I slowly made my way to this thorniest part of the puzzle for me. I hae Peter I, armor, snare until I finally saw IVANIV, SINEW and TRAWL. I wanted GIJANE from the outset but didn't trust it. Changing Peter to IVANIV got me EVERLAST and helped me finish the corner.

I have never heard of PAPELBON, but knew it had to be SPAHN, "A" being the only letter that made sense there. But I thought the other pitcher was PAP ELBON.

I also had NOTME for a while.

Had a reright at MTM, which is stupid because it had to be MTM.

EVILTWINS is brilliant!

Thank you, Mike Nothnagel, for a challenging and rewarding Saturday puzzle. Loved it!

fikink 9:31 AM  

I cannot imagine doing this puzzle in seven minutes! (Dan, I hope you come by and comment. I DOFF my hat to you!)

Much goodness in this puzzle: DEMISE, ATROPHY, SWAY, TRAWL...Delish!
Didn't know the baseballers, but got them from crosses which were very fair.

And "Whatever" - When I say, "Whatever," I am usually saying, "Go to hell!" It was SO hard to uncouple that clue from attitude.

@Clark, didn't you explain METONYMs to us a few months ago?

Thanks, Mike! (Shave and a haircut - two bits!)

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

I just happened to know many of the answers that others had problems with (SPAHN, SEA MONKEYS, MAJOR AXIS). I spelled PAPELBON wrong ("PAPLEBON") at first, which is a little embarrassing because I follow the Red Sox.

Eminem won an Oscar for the song "Lose Yourself." It was in the film 8 Mile. Technically, he won when the Oscars were held in 2003; but the film came out in 2002. I knew this because that song is great and probably the coolest thing ever to win an Oscar.

Finished the puzzle in 30 minutes.

CoolPapaD 9:38 AM  

Like toothdoc, I was also brought down to earth after bragging to MY wife about finishing this in about the same time - unlike him, I had one error (MEET ASAP never sounded quite right, and I should have rechecked my answers instead of roaring in triumph and then going to bed)! I watched "Breakfast" so often growing up, and knew Dick's name so well, but didn't know how to spell it. Count me among the "WHY ME" folks!

So many favorites today, and I loved the cluing - "Took a lot of punches?" (25D) was terrific, as was "Indicator of freshness?" SEAMONKEY went down with only the K, but I initially wrote RETRIEVER- who else would have an Aqua-Leash?).

Seven minutes and ten seconds in sick!

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

I found this on the medium/challenging side and could not solve it without googling 3 or 4 answers. My toughest areas were the top right and the bottom right. Some of the answers I should have got in retrospect but at the time I just had too many blanks to get anything going.

Kurt 9:57 AM  

I loved this puzzle. PAPELBON, SPAHN, STRIKE ONE, EVIL TWINS, SEA MONKEY, MAJOR AXIS, TEA LEAVES and on and on. This is the best Saturday puzzle I've seen in a long, long time.

Thanks Mike Nothnagel.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Very tough puz!
When you think about it, Will wouldn't have made any changes in the clues, because then you couldn't fairly compete with Dan's published time of 7 minutes 10.


JC66 10:12 AM  


You should be a big Warren SPAHN fan, since he played for Boston...the Braves, that is.

From "Around The Horn"


A poem in The Boston Post in 1948 by sports editor Gerald Hern led to the famous phrase about the Braves’ two terrific pitchers and had commentary in it about the rest of the staff:

“First we’ll use Spahn, then we’ll use Sain, Then an off day, followed by rain. Back will come Spahn, followed by Sain, And followed, we hope, by two days of rain.”.

The battle cry of the 1948 Boston Braves “SPAHN AND SAIN AND PRAY FOR RAIN” is one of the more famous language gems in a sports that has had many.

BTW, it didn't rain and the Braves lost the series.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 10:22 AM  

Congrats Mike on the 100% his clues in a Saturday no less. Take another bow.

Kinda hated the two cheaters in the first and last rows, but had ZERO problem with the fill. And just saying: the first two They Might Be Giants records are essential listening.

slypett 10:26 AM  

Well, hell, I actually thought this was easy! (I don't mention my time, because by the standards here, it is obscenely long. Okay, 1:15.)

Did anyone else have TELEPATHY for TEALEAVES? Talk about logjams!

Have a great trip, Elaine! May all your quilts be forgiven!

ArtLvr 10:28 AM  

No, no, and no! I died in the SW and balked at googling. I clung to ADMIT for COP TO at 45D, Don't deny, with ATL at 45A for (10?) Atlantic States, and TWO TON instead of ONE at the bottom. After all, there was already a ONE in TIED ONE ON -- and another in STRIKE ONE!

I was so happy with the rest of it, except for my EDBERG, but PAPELBON crossing SPAHN? Pfui.


retired_chemist 10:37 AM  

I'd call this one hard. Easier if you are a baseball fan.

The SW killed me. Got SPAHN (gimme) but PAPELBON was a mystery. With all but the first P I could not get it. {whine}Is he famous? Not to me. Certainly nothing so far to deserve a cross with Warren SPAHN IMO.

Did not like the cluing for 45A - there are actually a lot of states that are partly in the central time zone, so I was hung up on MST - just about 10 there counting the partials. Exactly 10 in fact, except a small chunk of western Kansas makes it 11. Counting partials, it is 21 (!) for CST - so I got hung up on M. Tried PST but no go. MO?TO or PO?TO got nowhere. So googled to get PAPELBON, then CST was obvious.

Also in the SW, the clue for 40D IN HAND seems a poor fit for the answer. IN HAND deals with immediacy, not command, and it was INHA?? for much of this time. Add that to not knowing 58A THE STAND (which, at least, consists of plausible words), and it was a frustrating end {/whine}to an otherwise pretty satisfying challenge.

Count me in the NOT ME crowd @ 50D, and slow on the uptake @ 14D ENBERG and 6D EVERLAST. 15D SEA MONKEY is my web browser of choice. Put NIX @ 28A, thinking it might change, but that gave me MAJOR AXIS so it stayed. Choice of NORTE or OESTE @ 30A was easy since the O of the latter gave me HO?? -> HOOF for 26D.

Overall enjoyable except for the SW.

retired_chemist 10:43 AM  

Also by truck standards a ONE TON (60A) hardly qualifies as a "rig." Is there another sense to the clue?

Stan 11:19 AM  

I'll cop to Bird's Nest and Edberg, but once I finally climbed over SEAMONKEY one letter at a time, I got from West to East.

Loved PAPELBON and EMINEM in the corners.

EVILTWINS complements AMNESIA from a few days ago (perennial soap-opera devices).

Great puzzle!

Leslie 11:20 AM  

This was tough for me, since I know zip about baseball players, but got through it without googling.

I really wanted the eaves thing to be a "down spout," then a "water pipe" when the "w" came into view. WASPS NEST finally came to me and helped me with those doggone ball players.

GI JANE surely had to be the answer, but "blahblahblah ellipses" had me convinced that my math-phobic selve would never come up with the answer. MAJOR AXIS was reassuringly plausible once NIX came into view.

I'm boggling that someone could have gotten this whole thing in seven minutes and ten seconds, especially with a more difficult set of clues. Wow!

fikink 11:28 AM  

@retired-chemist, Around here the farmers refer to their "big rig" pickups. They are kinda rural life-crisis balms (as opposed to, say, the urban fire-red sports cars).

Speaking of which, I was thinking in terms of cars for the longest time on the "spoiler" clue.

Anyway, this definition of rig fits:
an apparatus, device, or piece of equipment designed for a particular purpose

Chip Hilton 11:55 AM  

PAPELBON was fined this week for working SLOWER than is allowed to deliver STRIKEONE to the plate. Too busy trying to intimidate batters with his glower, I guess.

Speaking of slower, I was about 52 minutes, 50 seconds behind Mr. Feyer. And, quite satisfied.

Brian Cimmet 11:59 AM  

The pre-NYT editors of this puzzle (i.e. me and Ryan, hosting Lollapuzzoola) are big baseball fans. We should have taken that into account when looking at the PAPELBON/SPAHN crossing.

These two names are household to any baseball fan, and relatively recognizable to a decent percentage of people. Spahn's in the Hall of Fame (most wins ever by a lefty, to boot), and Papelbon is a three-time All-Star, has won a World Series ring with Boston, and to most of the northeast at least, is quite well known because of the over-documented Red Sox/Yankees rivalry.

That said, the crossing is a rough one if you have to guess. :(

Leslie 12:10 PM  

the crossing is a rough one if you have to guess. :(

Hey, Brian Cimmet, no worries! Now I know two more ballplayers' names for future reference. :-)

And it's actually very cool that those two are in the same corner, with STRIKE ONE so close by.

Rex Parker 12:13 PM  

Hey Brian, thanks for coming by and, uh, filling us in. That SPAHN / PAPELBON crossing is juuuuuust fine. Warren SPAHN, as you say, is superduper HOF famous, and I can't see how anything but "A" can go in that cross, even if you are AT SEA where bb is concerned.

Looking forward to your tournament next year. Hoping I can help in some small way to (at a minimum) double your already impressive attendance numbers.


Greene 12:30 PM  

Great puzzle! Nice to be able to actually complete a Saturday puzzle (and in about an hour, which is terrific for me) -- TADA!.

Like many sports ignoramuses, I had some trouble with the SW because of the SPAHN/PAPELBON cross. Finally had to guess the "A," but I got it right. As Rex rightly points out, it could hardly be anthing else. Briefly had NELL instead of ALTO for Mrs. Lovett (I believe her name is Nellie Lovett in the Sondheim version of the tale), but THE STAND quickly fixed that gaff.

My biggest problem was actually the SE where I just made error after error starting with Randy NEWMAN instead of EMINEM. After pulling that out I tried NO BIGGIE instead of NO MATTER (I really hated to give that one up). Later, I had NOT ME and WHY ME until WHO ME came along. Also briefly had YOU"RE SAFE instead of STRIKE ONE. Yikes.

I like the combination of EVIL TWIN and BAD APPLE in the grid. Very devilish.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

At 8D,"finish line," I really think TATA fits better than TADA. TATA is Brit-speak for "bye-bye" whereas I would use TADA as a fanfare for entering in triumph. With TATA, the note on the time-sensitive document comes out as MEETASAP, which is a little odd but not downright ridiculous. Other than that one square, I made it through the whole puzzle without googling, in a time too prolonged to mention.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  


That's what I meant about TADA vs. TATA!

retired_chemist 1:23 PM  

@ fikink - I think "big rig" in a trucking sense refers to a semi - maybe your farmers mean it metaphorically, with wishful thinking. A case of piston envy.....

I agree with the definition you posted but fail to see how interpreting rig in that sense evokes "ONE TON."

Dan 1:30 PM  

PAPLEBON [sic] is a running joke on Ryan and Brian's podcast, so regular listener Dan Feyer would have had a slight edge there.

Agreed! And that slight edge was all I needed, as Francis Heaney (not a listener) finished only seven seconds later.

I wrote up a little more about solving the puzzle at my site.

still_learnin 1:54 PM  

There's a pitcher named PAPELBON, huh? I've got to start following sports more often. OTOH, Warren SPAHN was a gimme. Anyone of a certain age who played Little Leage baseball probably owned a Warren SPAHN mitt. I wonder if they still make them? Of course, all this was waaaaay before my time. :-)

Loved EVILTWINS since I have one. Also thought the EMU clue was great. OXE, anyone?

A typical Saturday for me, lots of blanks staring me in the face and then a mad rush to finish in under an hour.

crosscan 1:57 PM  

Sic! Eye spelledd
PAPELBON rong againn

jeff in chicago 2:14 PM  

Good puzzle. Tough but doable. At least for me.

GIJANE, THESTAND and TOLOVE were my immediate gimmes. Guessed TEALEAVES with the V and had a good start in three corners after GIJANE begat DIGS which begat DEMISE. 45D had to end in TO, which begat ONETON, which begat TURBAN. The bad news is I had EDBERG and TATA, giving me DEETASAP, which I stared at a long, long time before deciding it must be some strange corporate-speak and I stopped the clock.

Love They Might Be Giants. But saw them in concert a few years ago and it was by far the worst show I have ever attended. I was stunned how bad they were. In other TMBG news, I sang "Istanbul" at karaoke just last night. Yes...(sigh)...I'm one of those karaoke people. It's the actor in me; I can't not get on stage!

dk 2:15 PM  

Ya know ya get SEAMONKEY and not TURBAN. I quess thats why they are called puzzles.

I am in the whyme side of the WHOME/whyme debate.

And, my Texan pals will tell you if it is under ONETON, it ain't a truck.

I had the same numbers in the solving time as Mr. Feyer just in different places.

Barry 2:53 PM  

Lollapazoola sounds like fun. Brian/Ryan, one way to increase tournament enrollment is to diversify,and invite women constructors to make puzzles. I've read that the ACPT has never invited women compilers to make the final puzzles.

If I were a tournament director, I'd pulverize that glass ceiling and make history. Men who include women in leadership roles are, as my wife says, "babe magnets." It's hip, cool, sexy, modern, all that... while it may be too late for the old guard, younger guys are comfortable sharing the stage with smart women.

jae 3:15 PM  

Medium for me. First thing I put in was EVERLAST followed by GIJANE so things went pretty smoothly. Only hang up was staring at TYLOVE knowing it was wrong, but it took a few minutes (probably around the same amount of time it took Dan to finish half the puzzle) for the light bulb to come on. Great puzzle, thanks Mike!

andrea pssts michaels 3:23 PM  

Don't be silly! Math, sports, baseball clues one after another after another!
What more could a girl want?
Love Mike Nothnagel and to my credit, I solved the whole puzzle in half the time as yesterday's! (I didn't say correctly, mind you...)
Bec I didn't think of EITHER sports figure EdBERG nor EnBERG, I had READASAP which left me with ASSANATE!
(I changed SLAP to SNAP thinking Tupperware...that's the girl in me!)
(Just noticed SNAP was already the answer for 23D which I never saw)

(I only got SPAHN bec it rang a distant bell as a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars", but that was Warren someone else...

I also tried PAPABELL bec Peter Gordon once put him in a BALL, BELL, BILL, etc. puzzle I made, which was a low for me to have a theme entry in my own puzzle that I didn't even know. Made me PSSSTS off.
(Not really...Peter improved the puzzle about 867%)

I'm sure EVILTWINS could have been clued baseballically by an ALER or NLER whichever it isn't!

Sarek 3:46 PM  

Spock's Evil Twin

Torbach 3:52 PM  

Hey, I was able to solve the puzzle this time around - and with nothing changed? At Lollapuzzoola I was prepared to delve into the "local" clues when Mike came around and asked which clues I had and, when learning I hadn't opted for the tougher "express" clues basically shamed me into switching! Well, there's a reason I'm in the "local" solving lane, Mike! Between watching the contestants and fear of the constructor looking over my shoulder I think I got about half the thing filled before the event was over and local and express solvers were complete and thinking about dinner and the best route home. Still, I really enjoyed the puzzle, then and again today - terrific fill, as always, and from one of the nicest people in the world of crosswords.

Stan 3:55 PM  

@Barry-- Great post!!

chefbea 4:04 PM  

@ Andrea it was Warren Sapp on dancing with the stars.

Tough puzzle today. Lots of googling and then came here to finnish.
Off to a cookout....and I'm not bringing a thing!!!

mac 4:52 PM  

@Barry: There was a woman constructor at the ACPT this year -
she was seated close to me and left the hall when we got her puzzle! Also, at Lollapuzzoola we were handed a puzzle on coming in (to keep us occupied and out of trouble) made by a woman. I'm drawing a blank what their names were, but I'm sure one of the in-crowd will let you know.

I loved the puzzle then and now, but of course I remembered too much to give an accurate account. Just one thing I filled in wrong differently from the rest of you, it seems: "click" instead of e-sign.

fergus 4:58 PM  

No idea about my time either. Had to take a few breaks and change pens. IT'S WAR and time to ESCALATE. NEED ASAP wasn't helping when I required some sympathy in that corner, when it was taking forever. Thankfully, the BAD APPLE, perfectly Clued, finished things off.

The Green Mantis made an extraordinarily entertaining digression about SEA MONKEYS some time last year, but I'm possessed with a better memory than internet search skills.

treedweller 5:03 PM  

A pitcher crossing a pitcher? Ewer kidding me, right?

But seriously. 'Tis true, only one plausible sounding guess there. I still was on tenterhooks waiting to see if it was right.

But it was, and I finished faster than any other Saturday. I think the other two I finished may have been Nothnagels, too. Nice to have the wavelength now and then.

fergus 5:16 PM  

A pair of identical girls, each wearing a t-shirt declaring "My sister is the evil twin" when they were at two different schools. Their similarity and stark differences made me realize why social scientists so highly value identical twins.

Brian Cimmet 5:17 PM  

Re: women constructors for Lollapuzzoola

We invited people who were familiar with us, our blog and our podcast to submit puzzles to be considered for the tournament. Almost all the submissions were from men. The best puzzle we saw from a woman was from Joanne Sullivan, and she turned her own puzzle into some awesome mosaics - which were our grand prizes.

Women are regularly represented at the ACPT, though. Hasn't Maura Jacobson had a puzzle in every ACPT? And this past year, Andrea Carla Michaels had a puzzle as well.

Campesite 5:20 PM  

Those pitchers are located low and inside, but definitely over the plate (or over THE STAND, in this case).

Mike Nothnagel makes a mean puzzle, and I was kicking its butt except for DEEDASAP.

Istanbul not Constantinople and Triangle Man are TMBG goodies.

archaeoprof 5:36 PM  

I would like to lodge a formal protest about the clue for 16A. Yes, that line was in the awful movie "GI Jane", but it first appeared in "Apollo 13," in a memorable scene featuring Ed Harris.

Otherwise a fabulous puzzle, especially the SPAHN/PAPELBON crossing.

Elaine 5:50 PM  

THANK you! That line has been nagging at me ALL DAY because I never saw GI JANE (just the icky ads for it) but I could hear the line!
Ed Harris was Gene Krantz (sp?)--in charge of the mission control in Houston....
I watch "Apollo 13" every time it comes on because I remember watching and listening...B&W TV, of course.

Sex Porker 5:50 PM  

Felt like napoleon working his way across russia, first northwest, then due south and then east across the mighty gila-sippi, only to get bamboozled in the northeast...cant take credit for what little/lot i did as i was talking to my son ,who was out of sight at the time about the steven king clue, and he comes up with the stand and then i ask him did he use his internet phone for this, he said yes, it feels tainted like barry bonds et al..

fergus 6:01 PM  

Confirmed that rig and pickup truck are quite dissimilar. My little truck is an amusing possession, since people are are always wanting borrow it, and offer lavish compensation for the exchange, which I would have offered freely.

Saw a bumper sticker on another pickup the other day that said,

"No, I Won't Help You Move"

sanfranman59 6:09 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:16, 6:55, 0.91, 26%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:15, 8:30, 0.97, 47%, Medium
Wed 10:25, 12:18, 0.85, 16%, Easy
Thu 22:25, 18:41, 1.20, 93%, Challenging (6th most challenging puzzle to date relative to the day of the week)
Fri 24:32, 25:58, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium
Sat 31:23, 28:12, 1.11, 79%, Medium-Challenging (on the cusp)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:19, 3:40, 0.90, 24%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:14, 4:22, 0.97, 49%, Medium
Wed 5:24, 6:01, 0.90, 22%, Easy-Medium
Thu 11:46, 9:08, 1.29, 96%, Challenging (4th most challenging)
Fri 11:32, 12:08, 0.95, 42%, Medium
Sat 15:52, 15:50, 1.00, 54%, Medium

This is by far the biggest percentile disparity between all solvers and the top 100 in the 13 weeks I've been tracking solve times. I wonder how many of the top 100 were at Lollapuzzoola?

Anonymous 6:24 PM  

I had some problems with setting for 10 U.S. states, abbr -- CST. I got the answer quickly, but thought that surely there are more than ten states in the central time zone. After doing some web-checking, I concluded that are only ten states entirely in the central time zone. But there are a number of other states partly in the central time zone so I still don't like this clue much.

An easy Saturday for me (baseball and math clues) and I got it all right without google, but my time was still five and half times slower than Dan Feyer's.

Michael 6:24 PM  

I'm the previous "anonymous."


Like others, I had trouble with the NE. Sea monkey was beyond me, as well as the Dick Enberg clue. It might have helped if I had gotten "It's war". Since when has that been a battle cry? To me, that evokes the chicanery that accompanied the Spanish American war, as well as the Gulf of Tonkin. Remember the Maine? Yes, those were headlines used to rally/bamboozle a public into war. Battle cry? Maybe. I would have placed a question mark after battle cry since this is misleading.

I loved the Spahn/Papelbon corner, but since I'm no fan of Stephen King, I had no idea about The Stand. Why should I even care about this? As a fluent German speaker, I was annoyed at the capitalization of Lieben. Capitalized, lieben is NEVER an infinitive! The only instance I can think of using Lieben is in the phrase "Lieben Genossen" Dear colleagues. Since I was a Why Me chooser, I was baffled to a certain extent till "No matter" came to me. Whatever!

For Everlast, I would have used the clue "rock/rap composer of title music to Saving Grace" or something along those lines. Who cares who supplied equipment for the Contender? Who cares about boxing even if I'm too punch drunk to tie one down? Eccck!

Bad apple? I had bad title for too long! Oh well!

In the event, how on earth does anybody complete this puzzle in 7 minutes. That's awesome!

mac 6:50 PM  

@KvanderGraaf: every clue starts with a capitalized word.

Anonymous 7:29 PM  

A KMD reference! Thank you.

foodie 8:19 PM  

It's been a rough week but I got around to solving this puzzle. I really liked it although the baseball crossing was a definite Natick for me.

I was totally confused for a bit about the "runner up" clue for SLOWER. I kept thinking about beauty pageants runner ups and wondered whether they really ever cared about intelligence. Then realized it's my own intelligence I need to worry about.

I can read the future not by using TEA LEAVES, but by looking at the patterns in Turkish coffee demi-tasses turned upside down. The fine grounds that settle to the bottom are swirled and make the coolest patterns on the wall and sides-- better that Rorschach ever created.

@sanfranman59: I guess I'm not totally brain dead because I predicted, before coming here that there would be a discrepancy today due to some people who had already done the puzzle, which would result in unduly fast top 100 scores. Made me happy to see it : )

Anne 8:54 PM  

Having a hard time getting back into the groove after being away. Started late. Finished 90 percent. Took a loooong time. A good day for me! (It's all in your perspective.)

Bob Kerfuffle 9:12 PM  

Did this one at the beach today, and came here with one mistake in the finished grid: TARTAN for TURBAN. Of course that was only possible because I overlooked the New England school at 48 A, and PAPELTON seemed perfectly valid, since the clue might as well have been "Uzbeck Minister of Culture, 1934". (I was thinking of a kilt being a wrap sort of thing; probably completely wrong on that, too.)

One write-over worth mentioning: Early on, looking for just anything to put on paper, I threw in THETOWER, only to change later to THESTAND for the Stephen King work.

Anonymous 9:28 PM  

@Barry: I can tell you without hesitation that Ryan and Brian have no problem inviting women to contribute to Lolla, constructionwise. In fact, they were kind enough to ask me to contribute, but because my deadline load is a bit heavy right now, I was thrilled to be able to take part as a judge instead. Less work, better snacks.

Elaine 10:03 PM  


If it helps, I myself had CHARGE as Battle cry. I think that was much superior to "It's war."

Maybe if it had been, "This means war!" ...but no. We're right--
that was LAME! (Somehow, though, I do not think anyone cares.)

Obviously, enough of The Right People got it...
and at the end, I had "ExerLast" for 6D. Who knew which IVAN was Tsar of ALL the Russias? (or cares?)

A murrain seize Ye Nothnagel!

Turn Off Computer......

andrea whatever michaels 10:31 PM  

I to had "Charge!" then "Banzai!"
(altho come to think of it, I may have spelt it "Bansai!"...maybe that's a battle cry against the Japanese lumber industry...if there is one)

Hey, when scouring for a middle name, I just noticed ONE ton and tied ONE on in the grid...and "Mrs. Lovett...for ONE" in the clues.
Hmmmm, that may be ONE too many.

I can't wait to tear apart my own puzzle Monday!

fergus 10:58 PM  

Let's say I have a dozen close friends, or maybe even twenty, but not a single one of them does Crossword puzzles.

It's been said before, but thank you Rex, on behalf of our associates who don't want to hear the minutiae, since the odd solver considered it all with meta-friends online already.

Clark 11:18 PM  

@fkink -- I could not have been the one explaining METONYM to anybody. I figured it out, but it did not feel crossword familiar to me.

@pednsg -- I had MEET ASAP also. It’s true that it didn’t feel quite right, but the crossings seemed solid (since I had absolutely no fricking clue who ENBERG was).

Not knowing any baseball folks (except a handful that does not include SPAWN or PALELBON) made the SW really hard. But once I tried THE STAND and ONE TON, COP TO, SPAHN and TEPEE fell into place. Friday and Saturday without googles. Yipee! (Even if I had a couple mistakes. That's enough to make me happy.)

@andrea whatever, @Elaine, et whoever -- I tried Banzai! and then I even tried Ishtar! All I know about that sequence of six letters is that a friend of mine had a part in a movie that went by that name and it totally bombed. OK, I see that Ishtar was goddess of war to the Assyrians so that isn’t totally and completely ridiculous.

foodie 11:47 PM  

@Fergus et al

Here's the post from Green Mantis about SEA MONKEY, from June 25, 2008. Very her : )


Who is this Rex person you all keep referring to?

So speaking of mail order pets (weren't we?), I just ran across an ad for sea monkeys, and they are described in the fabulous cartoony order form as a "bowlfull of happiness." Sic. I don't know about you, but that sounds like something I need.

The sea monkeys are depicted as Seussian-type characters who, among other qualities, are "eager to please" and can be trained to obey commands.

I'm not completely clear on what commands a brine shrimp could obey, unless it's "Be." Or maybe, "Drift aimlessly until I grow tired of you."

edith b 12:08 AM  

I've mentioned here before that, as a young teen, I was the unofficial host of my father's regular Wednesday Night Poker game and a lot of sports information I know to this day came from the lively discussion among the guys who attended those games. I remember the saying "SPAHN and Sain and pray for rain" as being something that was in the language among those gents in the late 50s - early 60s and prompted me to begin looking at the sports page on pretty much a regular basis in those days because of the colorful nature of the language itself. I develped an interest in baseball that held me in good stead when my husband had access to his company's tickets to baseball games beginning in the 80s and I went with him to the games.

I enjoyed those games as much from my memories of those Poker games my father had than from anything else.

edith b 12:08 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 12:31 AM  

HI:nice to meet you!

Thanks to friends all over the world to Taiwan to help the flood of support and also wishes everyone peace and happiness!













Anonymous 1:09 AM  

@ pink, Get out of here and don't use this site for crap like that. Thx but no thx.

fergus 2:48 AM  

foodie, thanks for digging that up. She's such an entertaining writer.

william e emba 2:57 PM  

It might have helped if I had gotten "It's war". Since when has that been a battle cry?

When children play the card game? I don't recall saying CHARGE! or BANZAI!

My initial guess for the "10 state region" was CSA. Wrong (11 states), but hahaha that got me COPTO and SPAHN!

Fortunately I have never heard of either EDBERG or ENBERG, so it was impossible for me to fool myself.

Mike Nothnagel 11:53 PM  

Hello everyone.

Well, I'm a couple days late (sorry...very long day out of town on Saturday), but I wanted to drop in and say thanks for all of the kind words.

Rex's recap of our on-stage chat is right on the money: MAJOR AXIS to start, PAPELBON as serendipitous fill, etc.

I went on at length on Ryan and Brian's blog about this, but watching the finalists solve my puzzle on stage was pretty darn amazing. Watching Will Shortz solve it in the back row of the audience was no less amazing.

Until next time --

Alamogordo Dan 10:18 AM  

Last time I counted (5 minutes ago) there were 17 states in the Central Time Zone, not 10. Would somebody please explain that clue to me?

Singer 11:31 AM  

@ Alamogordo Dan

There are 10 states that are entirely in the Central Time Zone. 5 additional states are partly in Central and partly in Mountain and 5 more are partly in Central and partly in Eastern.

I am surprised no one commented on PSSTS as 'secret words'. PSST isn't a word, it's a sound effect.

The BOBSfan 6:35 PM  

Well, I think this is funny, because having read all of the previous comments, it turns out that ENBERG and SEAMONKEY were the very first items filled in for me!

You DON't want to know my time (it wasn't good!).


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