Soft drink since 1924 — THURSDAY, Sep. 3 2009 — Twin Tony whose #6 jersey was retired / Counterpart of Thanatos in Freudian psychology

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Constructor: C.W. Stewart

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: BOTTOMS UP (20D: "Cheers!" ... or a hint to answering this puzzle's five starred clues)
— theme answers are two word phrases in which first word is a synonym for "bottom"; further, all theme answers are entered into the grid upside-down (i.e. "BOTTOMS UP")

Word of the Day: Coventry PATMORE (1A: English poet Coventry _____, who wrote "The Angel in the House") Coventry Kersey Dighton Patmore (23 July 1823 - 26 November 1896) was an English poet and critic best known for The Angel in the House, his narrative poem about an ideal happy marriage. (wikipedia)

PATMORE is one of the worst 1-Acrosses I've seen in a loooooooong time. What a dismal way to kick off your puzzle — with some horrible know-it-or-you-don't nobody from more than a century ago whose name is only in the grid because you couldn't make anything decent work. Really, truly ugly. The theme of the puzzle is clever. I got the basic idea early, but misinterpreted it and thought just the "bottom" (i.e. second half) of the theme phrases would be upside-down. Didn't notice until very late that there were synonyms for "bottom" everywhere. Wanted TAILGUNNER for the never-before-heard REARGUNNER (even though "tail" is in the damned clue) and wanted FUNNY GIRL for FANNY BRICE. Last thing to fall was SEAT COVER because I had written in MERGER instead of MERGES (40A: Tricky highway maneuvers), which left me with RE-TCOVER for far, far too long. MERGES aren't "tricky" unless you are a horrible driver. They are ordinary, everyday driving events; it's just that people are often TERRIBLE at executing them. "Oh ... cars are coming ... should I stop, or ... why aren't you letting me over [glance, glance, weave]." Take a bus.

Theme answers:

  • 6D: *Auto accessory (REVOC TAES) - seat cover
  • 12D: *Crewman on the tail of a bomber (RENNUGRAER) - rear gunner
  • 28D: *1968 Barbra Streisand starring role (ECIRB YNNAF) - Fanny Brice
  • 35D: *Beef cut (TSAOR PMUR) - rump roast

Cluing seemed amped up, difficulty-wise, today. NINE is 55D: Highest score in baccarat?? News to me. "NINE" is the next Tim Burton film, or Ted Williams number, or my bin number at the comic book store. Baccarat? Coventry PATMORE (god, his name alone makes me want to punch him) probably played baccarat. And whist. And wore a MONOCLE (4D: Item on a chain). Actually, Bond plays baccarat, so maybe it's too cool for PATMORE. Wanted OZONE for 44A: Where a hole may develop (elbow). If you have a hole in your ELBOW, for god's sake see a doctor. Didn't know what to do with 34A: Profitability, for a business (aim). GOAL seems more apt (can't bring myself to write "APTER"). Also, don't some businesses AIM to lose money from time to time, for various reasons. And there are such things as "non-profit businesses." Etc.


  • 37A: Popular newspaper columnist who writes for Good Housekeeping (Heloise) — "writes," present tense? Jeez, how old is she? Seems like she's been around an eternity. Or maybe "she" is just a name that various writers assume.
  • 46A: Counterpart of Thanatos, in Freudian psychology (Eros) — Death drive v. sex drive. Couldn't see it at first because I had some version of TAIL or REAR giving me a wrong letter in the cross.
  • 57A: World capital known locally as Krung Thep Mahanakhon (Bangkok) — always nice when you have the -KOK in place (!) before you ever see the clue.
  • 5D: Twin Tony whose #6 jersey was retired (Oliva) — shame on me for forgetting this. I kept thinking OJEDA ... couldn't get OJEDA out of my head. OJEDA was a baseball player. Just not the one I needed.
  • 9D: Soft drink brand since 1924 (Nehi) — did you know there used to be a soft drink called "Wink?" If you lived in the 60s, you probably did. I only just discovered it via a blog I enjoy, "A Touch of Tuesday Weld." Check out some ads.

  • 10D: Liquide clair (eau) — what I drink, mostly.
  • 38D: Kansas town on the Neosho River (Iola) — crosswordese of the highest order.
  • 54D: Goddess who restored Osiris to life (Isis) — she's hidden in his name. Easy.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


JannieB 8:00 AM  

Hated Patmore - vow never to read his poetry. I had Petmare and that seemed perfectly fine by me. Aliva sounded as good as Oliva, and buck "eroo" looked fine too. Yuck!

Surely there have been many better ways to clue easel than "black marker holder" - that crossing with "elbow" was my black hole in this puzzle. I solved it but never understood it.

Got the theme with the gunner, but never realized the synonymous aspect to it. Thanks, Rex. I like the theme of this one but the cluing left me cold.

HudsonHawk 8:08 AM  

Started with BANGKOK and worked my way north. Knew something was UP when I kept getting strange vowel strings (__AO__ and __AE__). And I really enjoyed the puzzle until I got to the NW.

As JannieB said, I'm pretty sure I've seen both EROO and AROO. Tony OLIVA was a gimme, so I finished with PETMORE. It sounds better than PATMORE anyway. Ugh.

Eric Berlin 8:09 AM  

There are actually TWO movies called "Nine" coming out this year -- one spelled out, and one that's just the digit. Should make for some interesting marquees if the first lasts long enough in theaters to overlap the second.

VaBeach puzzler 8:14 AM  

Boy, did I mess up NW first time around! I had manacle for MONACLE, warm for PACK ("have heat") and, a sign of my very weak geography, Monaco for KOSAVO. Never saw the posterior side of the cluing but I have to admire a double-edged theme. I enjoyed the challenge!

Jeffrey 8:14 AM  

Yeah, PATMORE/AROO here too. Really a minor issue, except for being at 1A.

Take the bus! LOL


Greene 8:18 AM  

I just got killed with this one. It took me a good 35 minutes before I discovered the gimmick. After that it went down quickly, but I was really sweating through the beginning -- especially when I couldn't make FANNY BRICE work. I kept thinking there must be a rebus in play, but no.

I've never heard of PATMORE, but fortunately I spelled AROO correctly, so I didn't fall into the PETMORE trap.

I think HELOISE is either dead or retired and the current writer is a relative; daughter perhaps?

I really like the word BEANERY which I first learned through the old Rodgers and Hart song "Mountain Greenery":

And if you're good, I'll search for wood,
So you can cook... while I stand looking.
Beans could get no keener reception in a BEANERY
Bless our mountain greenery home!

Elaine 8:21 AM  

Got it, though not w/o a struggle.
I thought the cross of PATMORE and OLIVA constituted a Natick Offense. Why would we know either Patmore or his mawkish poem about saintly wifehood? (I looked it up later. ick) I ended up with a Patmare? Patmire? Patmere? Grrr.

And I had LOSER for "black marker holder"-- like, if you drew the black marble, or got The Black Spot, you know? And what's an ERBOW?
Other than NW, I really enjoyed the puzzle and the gimmick (PMUR...finally tipped me off.) I tend to work from right to left or bottom to top when solving.)

Test question: is KOSOVO a "Balkan Land?" Because Serbia (or Bosnia) were my first guesses, and Serbia says Kosovo is still a province, not independent at all, and Kosovo begs to differ. So, if a "republic" is recognized by the NYT Crossword Puzzle, does that mean it has diplomatic status as a Land/country?

Yep, Heloise is dead. Her daughter carries on the column, but not all Hints are created equal--not completely reliable.

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

@REX I think you made a typo for the Kansas town it's IOLA, not Iole.

Alex S. 8:58 AM  

I just now finally figured out what "TENS PLACE" is (assuming it is referring to the second digit left of the decimal in a base10 counting system). Though I did get it on my first try because PATMORE and PAYMORE were the first two things I plans to try for that square.

Other people may develop holes at their elbows but I don't think I've ever had an article of clothing wear at in that spot.

IOLA is suckiness of the highest order. A podunk town (6,000 people; it's "history" on Wikipedia stops at 1910) from a podunk state (my extended family is from Kansas, but still...) clued via a minor river (it's a tributary of a tributary of the Mississippi. Fortunately the crosses were fine (even if ST LO is only an easy reference in crossword puzzles).

I would have fallen into the TAILGUNNER problem but I already had ON EARTH when reading the clue so had tried REARGUNNER in the normal orientation.

Michael Leddy 8:59 AM  

Rex's "Challenging" makes me very happy about finishing this puzzle pretty quickly (<12 minutes). I've never read "The Angel in the House," but for English major types, "Coventry" is a dead giveaway. I took it, but I do agree it's odd for I Across.

Re: Wink: if I remember correctly, Soupy Sales used to do hilarious commercials for Wink on his television show, with lots of close-up winking into the camera.

fikink 9:16 AM  

Went with PETMORE, too, possibly because the cat was suggesting same.

Matty 9:16 AM  

@Elaine: I agree with you about the PATMORE - OLIVA crossing. But how about the HELOISE - IOLA cross?! I've never heard of HELOISE and was also at a loss for the high end crosswordese (according to REX) that is IOLA. Could've been anything as far as I was concerned. HELONSE - NOLA looked good to me as did HELOOSE - OOLA or HELOSSE - SOLA :).

des 9:22 AM  

If you count "District 9" which is in theaters now, there are three "9" movies this fall. I actually think that NINE was one of the easier clues in the puzzle because of James Bond.

I totally agree about ELBOW -- and PATMORE. I always think something is wrong when the theme is easier than the rest of the puzzle, and as soon as I got REARGUNNER (my first), the others fell into place.

In terms of ELBOW, I gather it is a reference to the expression of having a hole in the way one is positioned, but I'm still not sure.

And PATMORE - if it wasn't for the crosses that would have impossible. Ugh.

This on whooped me 9:31 AM  

Started very late, and at 2AM I discovered the rebus, 8A = [IN]HEAVEN, 8D = [IN]HABIT. At 4AM I quit.

This on whooped me 9:31 AM  

Started very late, and at 2AM I discovered the rebus, 8A = [IN]HEAVEN, 8D = [IN]HABIT. At 4AM I quit.

ArtLvr 9:34 AM  

Stunning, very tricky! I wondered at first if I were coming down with a syndrome of some sort, after figuring out AMNESIA crossing ADD. Thank heaven for the VESSELS in the SE.

As for the NW, nuts! I had AREOLES, then put in Aristas for a bit before reverting. I saw PACK and KOSOVO okay but never quite got the PATMORE.

Great fresh fill, from CONNIVE, OBSESS, HOARDS, SHUNNED and EVASIVE, to DEFAMES, DUELING and TERROR. A tad Nightmarish -- could give one the SHAKES?

Au fond ("bottom line") I loved it, however.


Anonymous 9:38 AM  

I gave up on this one, and I wisely went to Orange's blog -- she solved it in an incredible 4:53! (I'm glad I didn't torture myself any longer than I did.)

Even with the gimmicked answers in place, I found it very difficult.

Thank you, Rex, for finding this one "Challenging".

Good grief.

Charlie Brown

John from CT 9:41 AM  

Nope, didn't like it. Not at all.

Tony from Charm City 9:44 AM  

I picked up on the theme early on, but still took nearly 10 minutes on it.

I, too, hated PATMORE, and left it for the very end.

I also didn't like MERGES, and for me, they are only tricky when you have drivers who believe that merely signaling, they can merge (or, more accurately, cut off) without looking.

CoolPapaD 9:46 AM  

Among the best write-ups in a while. I think I just woke up everyone in the house after reading "Coventry PATMORE (god, his name alone makes me want to punch him)....."

I did not fall into the EROO trap in the NW, but I finished with the "T" in PATMORE blank, after running through the alphabet three times. I think TENS place is suckiness of the highest order (to quote Alex). Like Elaine, I had Serbia and Bosnia in place, before settling on KOSOVO.

Am I the only one who will never learn to spell BANGKOK? I thought HIM was a perfectly fine Kipling novel.

Overall, I did like the puzzle, and hadn't realized that the the first words in the theme answers all had a similar meaning until coming here - very clever. This should teach me that, if I have so many blanks after two run-throughs, there is some freaky theme going on!

Susan 10:07 AM  

I fell into the PETMORE/EROO trap too! At least I wasn't lonely.

@ fkink, if your cat starts suggesting things other than crossword answers, don't listen to him.

@Rex, great write-up. I laughed out loud at your "merges" comments. I admit it: I am a terrible driver, but merging is one skill I have mastered. Wish I could take the bus, by the way, but we don't really have any here...

PIX 10:13 AM  

@15A. Areoles should not be confused with areolae, which is standard medical terminology to refer to parts of the human anatomy that would not pass the “breakfast test”. In fact, Google Images makes no distinction between the two.

Fun puzzle….sort of continues yesterday’s discussion about “the one beer to have...”

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

This took me forever but I managed to solve it, except for a blank square in the third letter of 1-across. I was trying to guess what _ENS Place might be: Ken's, Len's or Ben's seemed like they might be from a movie or a comic strip. DENS and FENS are places. ZENS could be a spiritual place. I don't think I gave TENS serious thought.

retired_chemist 10:25 AM  

Nice puzzle, which I was not very efficient on. BOTTOMS UP theme was fun - didn't think that the starts were synonyms for bottom until I came here. I kept making typos in the theme answers and not catching them, so my time was not very good.

Got some right off: BANGKOK (57A), RENNUG RAER (12U – got the theme quickly from this one), then PU SMOTTOB (20U), IOLA (38D – pure crosswordese), ST LO (45A, ditto), VETS (43A, ditto ditto), DONEE (49D), CACTUS (22A), ISIS (54D), HYDE (14D), ON EARTH (8A).

Put OSU for 24A – decided O SEE was not a good 24D, so O -> I. 19A was SERBIA, then BOSNIA, and then REVOC TAES @ 6U straightened me out. California was the toughest part for me, mostly because ECIRB YNNAF was ??I???NNAT @ 28U (T typo) and I couldn’t see the name, which I knew well, for the longest time. Wondered if the woman in The Way We Were was TANNER somebody. No.

Most hated MERGE behavior, common it TX: you merge cautiously, only to find some idiot just behind you decides to take the spot in the oncoming lane you eyed and speeds around you, forcing you to move right or get hit.

retired_chemist 10:27 AM  

@ PIX re AREOLAE - depends on how old you are whether it passes the breakfast test - if < 1 year, it is breakfast.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Wink soda was not your common soda -- maybe part of the reason it wasn't a keeper. An in-your-face taste. I enjoyed it -- but only occasionally. It was advertised as a grapefruit (? maybe citrus) drink, but I suspect it didn't get much closer to fruit than the inside of a chemistry lab.

Noam D. Elkies 10:37 AM  

Yes, a neat and challenging Thursday, marred by the unfortunate NW — both the O and the E of 1A:PATMORE were guesses (7D could have been SSE for all I knew) though I did guess correctly. For a long time all I had for 19A was the O of 2D:AROO, and guessed BOSNIA, which helped somewhat with 3D:TENS but delayed the rest of the corner. Given 1A and 5D:OLIVA I'd expect a more direct clue for 3D:TENS. At least it's almost symmetrical with 55D:NINE.

20D:"!PU SMOTTOB" was also the title of a Sunday puzzle that ran a number of April Fools ago, where the theme was a 4x21-letter verse of doggerel ending with "Here comes the April fool", entered backwards into the grid!


Orange 10:40 AM  

@retired_chemist at 10:27 wins.

I wonder which is more accessible to the typical NYT solver: HELOISE as in "Hints from..." or HELOISE as in the lover of the medieval theologian Abelard.

Blue Stater 10:46 AM  

What Rex (and just about everyone else) said. Lame puzzle, full of Naticks and mistakes. The gimmick was easy and very tired. Orange makes a nice point about Heloise (who i'm always confusing with Eloise and the Plaza Hotel). Oh well. On to Friday.

JC66 10:50 AM  

If a "NATICK" is two obscure words crossing each other, a "PATMORE" could be an obscure word crossed by two words that each have two possible spellings (i.e. AROO/EROO and SSE/ESE).

Otherwise, a great puzzle.

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

I looked in the mirror and was relieved to see that i didn't have a hole in my elbow. Whew! I thought I might have a hole in my STORY though.

jeff in chicago 10:58 AM  


Anonymous 11:00 AM  

I agree with many of the criticisms, but I have lots of old shirts with holes in the elbows!! (Maybe I have pointy elbows, or I ignored my mom when she said to keep my elbows off the table!)

dk 11:09 AM  

@retired_chemist, Cheers and LOL

As a neuroproctologist I found much to like about this puzzle.


Thanks C.W. this one had me goin.

Two Ponies 11:09 AM  

This theme seems as stale as amnesia in a soap opera.
So many odd clues. Besides the ones already noted I hated the clue for Goo. Of all things we get handed fake blood?? And why pick a skate to clue lace? The most that easel is doing is holding a black marker? I'd rather stay home than go anywhere in a sack dress!
The only entertainment for me was Rex's write up.

joho 11:14 AM  

I feel better now for two reasons.

1. I was not the only who's derriere was kicked by the flawed NW.

2. Rex's hilarious writeup.

I got the theme very quickly with REARGUNNER and found the rest easily. That's why I was so disappointed with that *&%$*@! NW corner of confusion.

Eisenhower McSteele 11:29 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eisenhower McSteele 11:31 AM  

Add the indie "$9.99," and that makes four movies that will have been released this year featuring the number NINE. Rob Marshall's "Nine," based on the stage play based on Fellini's "8 1/2," is probably my most highly anticipated film that's coming out this year. Can't wait for it.

Elaine 11:32 AM  


Now, is your #1 a winking reference to our endless Punctuation Picking from the other day? Cute!

@Two Ponies
I had a first answer for "SACK and others"-- missed that it was not SACKS and thought OLIVERS. As soon as the second S entered the scene, I knew DRESSES because (get this) I remember when it was The New IN Thing--even before people said, "IN" for "fashionable." As with HELOISE, perhaps there is a slight advantage simply in having lived through a lot of fads, crazes, periods, eras, presidencies, and maps of the world....

JannieB 11:33 AM  

I just occurred to me that Coventry Petmore would make a great name for a Bond girl.

John Hoffman 11:37 AM  

I was happy to be able to finish this puzzle. I rarely can finish thursdays. I tried FUNNYGIRL and FUNNYLADY but they don't fit. FANNYBRICE had a big conflict with Bangkok which i knew was right, so i thought it was BRICEFANNY, and that was going to be the theme of the second word before the first. But I finally got it.

Agreed with other folks that there's too much obscure fill here. DEFAMES = Runs Down, FEEL = Bleed (for), TINS = ____ place.

Beanery is my word for the day. I think I'll head off to the beanery now.

PIX 11:43 AM  

@Retired_Chemist at 10:27...Best one liner I have seen in a long, long time!!!

slypett 12:01 PM  

Slogging. Slogging. Checking and rechecking my answers, because the theme wasn't coming. In fact, had REARGUNNER frontwards before abandoning it for crosses. At last, I noticed that my entries had all the right letters for RENNUGRAER.

On the subject of merges: In my twist of the road (north of Boston) there are several on-ramps on 128 and 1 that are nearly perpendicular to the highway. Try your bravado there!

poc 12:04 PM  

@Noam Elkes and @Elaine: I agree with you both. PATMORE/OLIVA is a Natick Offense (and IOLA/HELOISE is another). Otherwise I wouldn't really call it Challenging, especially for a Thursday.

It's pity about the Naticks because otherwise this could have been an excellent puzzle.

BTW, the guy's full name was Coventry Kersey Dighton Patmore (yes, of course I looked him up :-). Does that make anyone less likely to want to punch him? I think not.

Rex Parker 12:10 PM  

Everyone knows PATMORE's full name, or should, as I included it in my write-up. Right up top, for your convenience.


laura linger 12:14 PM  

You're a doll.


Campesite 12:18 PM  

I just did a spit-take with my water just now while reading "his name alone makes me want to punch him." I see nobody is coming to Patmore's defense or talking about the commenters being a tough crowd: 1A blew.
But(t), I liked the theme answers.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

I just envisioned Rex jumping up and down in glee, until I re-read the name @12:14. My original reading was Laura Linney. So close Rex, so close

PuzzleGirl 12:24 PM  

My favorite wrong answers of the day: COACH for EASEL and KOKOMO for KOSOVO. My least favorite wrong answer of the day: PETMORE. And I actually remember a few lines from The Angel in the House: "If there was chicken, she took the leg. If there was a draft, she sat in it." Sounds like an ideal marriage me too, who's with me girls? *sheesh*

Nick 12:37 PM  

Yeah, this was downright abusive for a Thursday. I eventually had to resort to IMDB for the Streisand film, and even then ended up with a couple errors.

"Tens place"? Never heard that phrase before. At least give me a hint that we're talking math.

And I guess you could develop a hole pretty much anywhere on your body, but it doesn't mean that it's common.

Greene 12:41 PM  

@Eisenhower McSteele:

I'm still looking forward to Rob Marshall's film version of Nine, although my enthusiasm for the project dropped some when Javier Bardem withdrew and was replaced by the very American Daniel Day Lewis. Can he even sing?

Now I hear that Maury Yeston has written 3 new songs for the film (which is all to the good), but they are cutting a least five others: "Simple," "Be On Your Own," "Grand Canal," "Nine" (the freakin title song for heaven's sake), and "The Bells of St. Sebastian's."

I haven't seen this much music hit the cutting room floor since...well, Sweeney Todd I guess. I loved Sweeney so I'll give Marshall the benefit of the doubt, but Nine without "Simple" and the title song just seems diminished somehow...more like 8½.

Denise 12:43 PM  

I have just spent a week MERGING onto freeways in the Golden State (north, thank goodness). I did the puzzles but didn't check the blogs. Arrived home late last night, and did this puzzle speedily and correctly!

I was shocked when the applet accepted my solution. Maybe we should all MERGE onto freeways more! It's good for the brain.

The current HELOISE is around 60 yrs. old, has long, flowing silver hair, and has been doing "Hints" for many years. Her mother was the first HELOISE.

Anyway, this old English major had "heard" of PATMORE, and at least knew his name well enough to change EROO to AROO and ALIVA to OLIVA.

The theme was great.

Glad to be back!

Eric Bibb 12:52 PM  

@PG - The tears didn't start rolling down my cheeks til we rolled into KOKOMO

Karen from the Cape 12:57 PM  

It's been a while since I've had to google on a Thursday, and I had to do it twice, once for PATMORE, and again for FANNY BRICE. I liked the theme. Except for the one I didn't know. But ugh.

I can now remember that it's switchEROO and buckAROO and I've been okay.

The preview for the Tim Burton 9 looked interesting.

mac 1:25 PM  

I ran into the same problems as many of you in the NW, ending up with Pe-mors. I got Kosovo, but had collude for a bit, which complicated things even more.
Ten's place and sacks for dresses are pretty weak IMHO, but I did like the theme, which I found with 12D (or up). Those answers were filled in easily, but the spelling of some other ones was tough.
Duel(l)ing? El(l)oise? I liked the clues for vets, obsess and abed, and I was glad with "dab" for a change from "tad".

Oh, yes, I thought ozone as well....

Pretty good time with it, though, just a little too much of it.

capesunset105 1:29 PM  

I'd like to thank my boozy Aunt Fran for teaching me to play baccarat, come to think of it, right around the age of nine.

Tussled my way through but ultimately paid the price for PATMORE and had to bail on the NW corner with only patchy fill.

And merging is a very dicey maneuver in Massachusetts, particularly on the Cape.

Greene 1:45 PM  

Before anyone comments: I know Daniel Day Lewis is not American. He was born in London and has both English and Irish citizenship. I've got There Will Be Blood on the brain today. My point was merely that he is not nearly as continental appearing as Javier Bardem.

SethG 1:56 PM  

Theme fine, fill cluing was ugh-lee. Most have been mentioned, and LACE wins a close one over YON for my least favorite of the others.

Jim in Chicago 1:56 PM  

I first decided that the elbow/hole combination was a plumbing reference, since the elbow of my sink trap is always the first place the pipe will disintigrate - but I like the shirt reference better.

@retired_chemist. In related news, there are reports about mothers who are breastfeeding their children as long as age 7, and how some physicians think it is a good idea. Umm - that'd be a "no".

I agree that if you think merging is tricky you shouldn't be driving.

Does HOWTO for "purchase by Mr. Fixit" bother anyone else? I don't know of anywhere I can go to buy a "How to". A how to BOOK, yes.

jae 1:57 PM  

Liked the theme. Did not like NW. Had to double check with my bride on AROO vs. EROO (I had both at different times and couldn't make up my mind). Really liked Rex's write up. And, I second Two Ponies on the clue for GOO. I though more people would be miffed by that one.

Clark 2:02 PM  

Thursday is my favorite day, and this one didn't disappoint. I liked it even though I had three mistakes in 1A. My poet was PALMERS. I figured I just hadn't heard of LEN'S place or the baseball player ELIVA and who ever knows these directional answers? Fanny Brice broke open the whole down-side-up thing for me. I knew that had it to fit in there somehow. Nice.

I should have gotten TENS place -- it is a thing after all. It just couldn't compete with all the things that must surely occupy that gaping hole that is all I do not know. Sometimes you don't know less than you think.

@This on[e] whooped me 9:31, Oh you of the imaginary rebus. You are to be congratulated for a very creative solution, even if it didn't work out.

andrea 9 michaels 2:15 PM  

I guess you'll have to treat your aunt AS A SOT instead of your nephew!

LOVED this theme!!!!!! Can't believe anyone thought it was tired!
Bottoms up and FOUR ways to say ASS?
What is not to love?????!!!!


Well, I have the third letter blank too after running thru the alphabet at least six times!
and I had SSE and put both A and E in teh second space, so a puzzle with no writeovers (except SHAFT had to become SIGHT at some point...oh, and HEAVENS had to evolve into biblical of me!) but 1A remained Pa/e_MORs.

(Oops, one more...I just realized I have the L in STLO penned over to make the more plausible IONA!)

Very excited about this whole 9, Nine, $9.99, District 9 confluence.
But is it the devil's bottoms up?

granted, I'm from Minnesota and the first time I ever subbed for Rex I told my woeful story of Kevin Baglien threatening to beat me up in 6th grade if I couldn't name 5 of the '69 Minnesota twins, of which Tony Oliva (and Dawn?) was one...
(Harmon Killebrew, Craig Nettles in his rookie year, um...)

But despite 1A kicking my tushie,
I loved this!

Now I'm going to have that BeachBoys Kokomo song in my head all day! You are too funny.

Glitch 2:30 PM  

Ok puzzle, but marred by poor clueing for Tens, Easel, Merges, How to, Feel, etc (as covered above).

Adding another --- 12U: One is IN the tail of a plane, not on.

The gunner ON the tail of your plane is IN the fighter behind you.

Being "sports challenged", the O in PatmOre was MY Natick.

I always thought the the leather patches on the elbows of tweed sport coats were evocative of the repairs made to underpaid professors' jackets --- back in the "Jackets Required" ages.

Just never thought to question why they wore out the elbows.


Elaine 2:31 PM  

I am using up my LAST post just for you. TENS PLACE refers to our number system. We use ten numerals (0123456789) but they can mean something different depending on the in: 9....90...900...9,501. (Ninety might also be named as "nine tens.")
Zero may act as a "place holder" so that you know, for example, the 5 above means five HUNDREDS, not five TENS. It is actually a very useful, even elegant, system.

I will tell you, first I put MOE'S, then got _ENS and was thinking "BEN'S? LEN'S?" so PA-M-ORE just sat and sat. Finally the nickel dropped, but I felt annoyed with myself for not noticing that it was small p, not capital P. And you won't believe how many terminally confused students I worked with on getting PLACE it shoulda been a gimme for me.

@Jim in Chicago
Yeah. My immediate thought was plumbing, too! LOL To everyone who thought about a HOLE in a PERSON'S ELBOW--ewwwww.

archaeoprof 3:18 PM  

Hilarious write-up today, Rex! I, too, laughed out loud at the line about wanting to punch him because of his name.

But count me in with @Andrea 9 Michaels. I think this was a strong Thursday puzzle.

@Orange: I'm betting on Abelard's lover. Every time I read their letters I want to punch him, and not just because of his name.

fergus 3:45 PM  

It was so hard to leave my TRAMP, but then discovered my FLAME. Now I have AMNESIA.

Excellent puzzle yielding still more observations ... . Fine theme, but so many more ghostly connections among the other words.

william e emba 3:47 PM  

For Mr Fix-It's purchase, I was looking at ---TO, so I knew to immediately fill in XACTO from last week. That didn't work out too well.

HIM is actually a play by E E Cummings.

"Hints from HELOISE" cannot be a Natick. Her column is/was very widely syndicated. I seem to recall growing up that my local paper had it in the comics!

And similarly, Tony OLIVA is not a Natick. He was justly famous in his day as a baseball player. Heck, I recognized the name, even if I couldn't place it. (It perhaps helped that I too incompetently attempted "Olivers" for "Sack and others".)

In the end, I actually got PATMORE correctly off the crosses. Woohoo!

Is AMNESIA really an "overused" soap opera plot device? I wouldn't know, but I have the impression that everything in soap operas are overused plot devices.

I only found this puzzle medium, maybe medium-easy, in difficulty. Yes, it was annoying as hell with the PATMORE--I went through the alphabet several times before I decided TENS place was the only fill-in. But my time was at the bottom of my average Thursday range.

I also find it disappointing, in reading the comments, that STLO is considered crosswordese. It really was an important WWII site. A source I recommend is also one of the most beautiful literature books in the world: Eoin O'Brien The Beckett Country, taking the reader back to the Ireland that no longer exists, along with an extended chapter on Beckett's post-war volunteer work helping rebuild St Lo.

capesunset105 3:52 PM  

i know a Tony Oliva in real life, so I kept filling it mentally with Oliva and then reprimanding myself saying "that can't be right, stop thinking of that Tony!" Lo and behold, Tony Oliva it is. FRUSTRATING!

retired_chemist 4:08 PM  


XACTO here too. Didn't work out any better for me that it did for you.

ST LO is indeed of historic WW II importance, but it is still common in crosswords and pretty much THE answer to a 4 letter W II site.

LOL re soap opera plots - I agree.

retired_chemist 4:15 PM  

@capesunset105 -

Baseball is real life. Just ask Rex, Crosscan.....

Recent name confusion myself:

A Jeopardy question showed a comic strip MD and asked the contestants to identify him. Non-puzzle wife shouted out (the correct) Rex Morgan MD, while I simultaneously shouted out:


I need to get out more.

capesunset105 4:23 PM  


In my world "Rex" is a verb.

My darling boyfriend and I work on the puzzle simultaneously in our respective workplaces and once we have gone as far as we can go with any given puzzle, we will check in with each other asking "did you Rex the puzzle yet?"

He has pervaded our worlds.

sanfranman59 5:05 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Thu 22:25, 18:41, 1.20, 93%, Challenging (6th most challenging puzzle to date relative to the day of the week)

Top 100 solvers

Thu 11:55, 9:09, 1.30, 96%, Challenging (4th most challenging)

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

OLIVA is a big fat NATICK!

No, seriously-- not a national figure, and if you are not from that region...
.... I'm a baseball fan from way back-- and he is not in the forefront of my brain. Even as a fan, HATE sports clues that have no tie-in, just there for lack of another idea!

Anonymous 6:02 PM  

I agree that Patmore is one of those "you know it or you don't" things. Victorian Britain is my field, so I knew him and actually was misled into thinking today's puzzle would be an easy one. I'm certainly don't want to defend Patmore's poetry or his social philosophy, but why is he any worse (as a clue) than this Oliva guy?

Wink is still around, by the way. I found it in a small South Carolina grocery store last month. It turns up in unpredictable places, when I'm not looking for it. I always buy it when I see it.

retired_chemist 6:05 PM  

crossword Shandy - half and half Wink and Schaefer.

treedweller 6:10 PM  

I had to google for PATMORE before finishing the NW. Didn't know OLIVA (and kept trying to make it Avila), SSE could have been ESE, and TENS was a stretch, IMO.

Then I ended up with an error at LACE/FLAME (I put an "R" in there--race made some kind of sense, and I chose not to dwell on flame).

But I say "thumbs up" because there's a TREE and it isn't related to genealogy, plus a "dwell" in a clue.

Sfingi 6:52 PM  

1A Both Coventry Patmore and Coventry Petmore are great names for cat twins.

3D Tens place is a common expression in jr. high math classes.

@Glitch You are right about the professors. Originally, they wore out the 44A elbows of their Harris tweeds sitting in their easy chairs doing professorly things. Then they patched them with leather ovals. Finally, jackets were sold with the patches in place.

In any case, I would be working on this puzzle all day and night if it weren't for Rex!

Shark 7:26 PM  

Loved the theme - very cool and right up my alley. Would have hit Tuesday times but for the harder clues.

fergus 7:29 PM  

Back in his era Tony OLIVA had the stature similar to what maybe Manny Ramirez or David Ortiz have today. It's sort of like knowing who Eugene Ormandy or George Szell were ...

andrea gags michaels 7:48 PM  

@anonymous 5:09pm

I'm not completely sure what you meant by "lack of another idea".
Do you mean change the fill to something non-sports?
I guess CW Stewart (who is a woman, right? Did we establish that last time?) could have made the word OLIVE. But then it would be CECTUS...but I guess you could then change CECTUS to RECTUM...
Maybe MONORLE could become a variant spelling of for OBSEMS, well, now, that's hard!

Charles Bogle 7:50 PM  

"Challenging" was an understatement for poor me. I threw in the towel once I couldn't get Fanny Brice to fit. Had no idea there was such a thing as upside down or backwards words at least not on a Thursday. How about saving these gimmicks for fri or Saturday. At least I knew NEHI-Radar's pop of choice

michael 8:18 PM  

Hard for a Thursday -- more like a Friday for me. I eventually got it all except for the PA__MORE _ENS which I missed despite going through every letter in the alphabet before _ENS. Should have gotten it. Tony Oliva was a gimme for me, but Coventry Patmore??? You can see how I've spent my time...

Glitch 8:21 PM  

It's a little disappointing that the "neon for me" has often turned into "everyone should know" today.

To paraphrase someone we all know, "I know what I know, and that's all that I know, ..."


mexgirl 8:47 PM  

Hey Rex! I love that you thought of my last name, OJEDA, before any other. That was Bob Ojeda, if I'm not mistaken, you were thinking of.

Cheers and good night!

Stan 8:59 PM  

How did I hate that NW corner? Let me count the ways...

@XMAN and @capesunset105: My recollection of Massachusetts driving is that when two vehicles are merging, the one with the most body damage has the right of way.

Unknown 9:29 PM  

8D should have been "OBTUSE". Like this puzzle. Too many headshakers for me. "OBSESS" should be the answer to "Dwell on". "MERGES" are not always tricky, especially here in Seattle where drivers are polite. Having a hard time seeing how "Runs Down" gets us "DEFAMES" -- it's a stretch, as is how "Profitability, for a business" gets "AIM". So what? Definitely a Challenging.

Bill from NJ 9:31 PM  

I had to laugh at Coventry PATMORE. When I was in college in the 60s I had an English Literature professor who was fighting a rear-guard action about Feminism "destroying the fabric of society" and cited just this poem as an example of the damage that "libbers" were doing to the institution of marraige.

The feminists were after his scalp and the right-wingers on the Arizona State campus were backing him up. Ah yes, a good time was had by all. Can you spell NEANDERTHAL?

I certainly made a mess of this puzzle. I had REARGUNNER and SEATCOVER in place, couldn't figure out why nothing else fit. I was scratching my head looking at what I had for the tie-together clue in the middle. Obviously I'd done something wrong with the theme so I went after this one from just the fill and finally, finally! saw it at FANNYBRICE. I straightened it all out - thank God for Across Lite - what a mess I would have had on paper! It took me forever to get it done but I'm not a speed solver anyway

sanfranman59 10:29 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, 23%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:15, 8:30, 0.97, 49%, 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)

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, 23%, Easy-Medium
Thu 11:46, 9:08, 1.29, 96%, Challenging (4th most challenging)

I'm in the Oliva gimme/Patmore no clue crowd. I'm guessing there aren't many Oliva gimme/Patmore gimme folks out there.

@Fergus ... I don't think Oliva's quite up to Manny Ramirez's (albeit drug-enhanced) standard. Tony O is just a notch below Hall of Fame level and Manny should be a HOF lock (even with the performance enhancement cloud over him). The comparison to Ortiz is more apt, but I think there's a much better HOF argument for Oliva, than there is for Ortiz.

slypett 11:43 PM  

Goodness! that's not the way the law reads!

slypett 11:55 PM  

Ey, Sanfranman59, one guy's Oliva is another guy's Patmore, and vice versa.

fergus 12:00 AM  


I hope you and Andrea catch a ride together across the Bay Bridge to Alameda, and then she admonishes us for dwelling too much upon statistical deliberation. Actually, I don't hope for the second clause, yet if that were to happen, one can defray the mathematics, and concentrate upon the art.

(Giving functional form to a cultural phenomenon, with some sort of econometric mojo or juju, seems to be an artful calling I may have lost.)

fergus 12:06 AM  

And just to be an insistent guy for the records, do the Conductors I cited correspond to Ballplayers?

Anonymous 3:00 AM  

There should be no contest between buckAroo and buckEroo. Mr. Google says 1,280,000 to 61,700, or about 20 to 1. Case closed!


Anonymous 3:21 AM  

You made a good point... I know all the conductors--a jillion hours of NPR-- but truthfully there are many fewer maestros than baseball players (even if you include only those with high name recognition.) I think more people would know Pete Rose and Mickey Mantle than Seiji Ozawa or Raphael Fruhbeck de Burgos. Tony Oliva? not so much.

Well, @Andrea
I'm not saying the NW would be fine with a simple OLIVE branch --the whole thing would have to be reworked. I don't care if the constructor and editor have to work overtime; I hate sports clues! It's a no-chance roadblock for most solvers, to have that Patmore/Oliva cross. made ME cross...

You're right-- I've NEVER seen "buckeroo"...ALWAYS buckaroo. glad someone finally said it! Misspell the answer and you goof up your puzzle, pure and simple!

But on to Friday's puzzle!

indycolt 2:50 AM  

rex- very funny today.
wink was a perfectly awful drink foisted upon the unsuspecting.

Nullifidian 1:10 AM  

In late from syndication-land:

As I said on the previous (09/02/09) day's message, I'm only just getting around to this puzzle because I found it while cleaning up.

I wish I hadn't.

I absolutely hate, loathe, detest, revile, and execrate puzzles with backwards, upside-down, or scrambled answers. Not only that, but the solution that was meant to reveal the theme was upside-down too, for extra cheesiness.

I totally agree with you about 1A. The first thing I said to myself about the clue is that I have no idea who the poet is, but the title of the poem is one which is calculated to make me nauseous. I read it and vomited a little in my mouth. Then I read your description, and without reading it I know that my initial reaction was entirely justified.

Never heard of Tony OLIVA, so pairing him with Coventry PATMORE (Christ, what an awful name!) struck me as a violation of the Natick Principle.

NINE was one of this puzzle's gimmes for me. Perhaps I know too much about card games, but I have long known that the highest point number you can get in baccarat is nine. If you get cards that equal more than 9 when summed, then the tens digit is ignored (e.g. a six and seven would only come to three points). Because of this, face cards are worth zero. I believe it may be the only casino card game where you can have a hand with zero points.

IOLA was one of my gimmes as well. The Neosho River may be a minor tributary of a minor tributary of the Mississippi, but the Neosho County Community College is in Iola, and I used to pass it every time I drove through Iola south out of the state. I lived in Lawrence, and at the time I-70 was the Kansas Turnpike, and would cost me around $8 to drive from Lawrence (in NE Kansas) west into Colorado, so I drove on State Highways 59 and 169 south into Oklahoma, where I caught the I-40 going west. Every time, I passed through Iola on this route.

Nevertheless, I can recognize that it and HELOISE are probably Naticks for many solvers.

Despite the terrible theme and ridiculous clues, I didn't have any write-overs, but I still didn't enjoy the puzzle.

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