Henry Higgins's creator —WEDNESDAY, Oct. 7 2009 — Laura's 1960s sitcom hubby / Botanical angle / Dendrite's counterpart / Richard Petty's racing son

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Constructor: Tim Wescott

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: BASEBALL DIAMOND (57A: Setting for a 20-Across ... as represented by this puzzle's circled letters) — circles form approximation of a BASEBALL DIAMOND, and at each corner, they spell out the base in question, i.e. FIRST, SECOND, THIRD, and HOME. 20A=WORLD SERIES GAME and 42A: Center of 57-Across = MOUND

Word of the Day: ALMA Kruger (54D: Actress Kruger and others) Alma Kruger [...] was an American actress.

She had a long career on the stage before appearing in her first film while in her sixties, These Three (1936). She then proceeded to act in over forty films in the space of little more than a decade. Among her notable roles was Nurse Molly Byrd in the popular Dr. Kildare film series, appearing in all but the first two of the sixteen movies. She also portrayed Empress Maria Theresa of Austria in Marie Antoinette and the would-be mother-in-law of Rosalind Russell's character in His Girl Friday. Her last film appearance was in the 1947 Twentieth-Century Fox production of Forever Amber.

In 1960, Alma Kruger died in Seattle, Washington at the age of 91 from natural causes. (wikipedia)


Didn't notice this puzzle's best feature til I was done — the circles actually DO something today. Hurray. As I was solving, I was thinking a. this is a really choppy grid and b. @#$#ing circles. I thought the circles were simply providing a diamond shape. If that had been their sole purpose, I would have booed this puzzle off the MOUND. But the spelling of the bases = WIN, and even if WORLD SERIES GAME feels kind of arbitrary (yes, it's October, but no, the World Series isn't on yet — why not hold the puzzle a couple of weeks!?), and even if the puzzle does have an ungodly 42 black squares, and even if some of the fill is a tad unpleasant, I really do have to give this thing a thumbs-up.

The high black square count (which I experienced as "a choppy grid") can be excused for two reasons. First, it's always hard to build a workable grid when your theme is dense, and in this one, theme squares are Everywhere. Second, in order to build the MOUND in a visually convincing manner, you really do need to isolate it pretty strongly, i.e. border it with black. As for the less-than-pretty fill, the main issue for me was the absured plurals: ALMAS and EMMAS (5A: Austen and Flaubert heroines) and IANS (40A: Writers Fleming and McEwan), for starters. And the there's LOAMS (68A: Farm soils). But when your only real problems are ugly plurals, you're doing pretty well. I had one minor hold-up in this puzzle, in and around AALTO (54A: Finnish architect Alvar _____). I had the -TO and knew / remembered that his name started with "A," but once I had AA-TO, I had to wait out that final letter (as the Shakespeare quotation would not come quickly — 56D: "Thou _____, most ignorant monster": Shak. (liest)). Stumbled over the finish (not Finnish) line with SHOE where SIZE was supposed to be (59D: 9 1/2 narrow, e.g.). I have a feeling this grid might skew Easy for most solvers, but it was pretty close to a normal Wednesday for me.


  • 1A: Sailor (swab) — once again, trouble out of the gate. The first answer I got up here was WACO (?) (2D: Home of the Dr Pepper Museum).
  • 16A: Ask (pray) — trouble here as well...
  • 24A: One likely to lend a needed hand (pal) — and here ...
  • 35D: Chipped part of a statue, maybe (toe) — and here. Just not firing on all AXONs somehow (58D: Dendrite's counterpart).
  • 39A: Dominican-born player in the 600 club (Sosa) — out of place here on first base, as he never played a WORLD SERIES GAME.
  • 45A: When repeated, statement after an explosion (temper) — I can't imagine this "statement" being said in any way that would not make the addressee want to punch the speaker.
  • 64A: Botanical angle (axil) — or a profitable marijuana-growing business; that could also be a "botanical angle"
  • 13D: Richard Petty's racing son (Kyle) — couldn't rekall him. Needed that "K."
  • 31D: _____ Maples Trump (Marla) — tried to make IVANA fit :( It's a name-heavy day today, it seems. I like how "MARLA Maples" goes with Shelley's "ODE to Naples" (38D).
  • 41D: Referral for further information (see below) — my favorite answer in the grid. A common phrase that I've never seen in the grid. Plus, it really is BELOW (i.e. it runs to the bottom of the grid).
  • 49D: Laura's 1960s sitcom hubby (Rob) — Oh, Rob! Great, pioneering sitcom.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Anonymous 8:01 AM  

Please explain 57D "cake with a kick". Baba?

Elaine 8:06 AM  

As you predicted, EASY is how I would rate this puzzle. Although I started with SALT and had to backtrack to SWAB (would SWABBY have seemed better?) almost all the answers went in w/o hesitation.

Bird's home...I was putting in NEST and muttering, then had to over-write TREE. Neither is very accurate. Birds move about constantly except when raising young, after which the nest is abandoned (usually permanently, or in the case of some species, until the next breeding period.) Unimaginative clue, besides being nit-pickable....

But I thought it was seasonable, and the gimmick was entertaining.

Elaine 8:06 AM  

Baba au Rhum (multiple possible spellings)....the kick is provided by the alcohol.

JannieB 8:06 AM  

Baba's usually have liquor in them - especially rum!

Never looked inside the circles - just assumed this was an architectural puzzle. Thanks Rex, for showing me the finer points of interest. Elevates my opinion of this puzzle.

The Aalto/Lies crossing was my only error - must bone up on Finnish architects.

Michele Humes 8:17 AM  

I had major deja vu with this grid. Really feel like I've seen this exact theme before, or at least something quite similar.

Yes, SEEBELOW was nice. And I'm always happy to see GRITS.

Can't get that damn Kirsty MacColl song out of my head now. The video's pretty awesome.

John 8:17 AM  

Great Puzzle! Really a fun solve.

"His Girl Friday' is one of my all time favorite movies. Snappy Dialogue all over the place!

dk 8:21 AM  

Or more simply put BABA=Rum cake

Was it a bad idea when I went to an interview yesterday to tell the people who were all wearing Twins shirts and stuff that I was a Yankees fan?

Laura and Rob put New Rochelle on the map.

I liked this one, however, like JannieB I need to memorize those drafting Finns.

Thank you Mr. Westcott

Greene 8:23 AM  

A pretty straighforward Wednesday puzzle for me. Haven't we had baseball diamonds in the grid before? I caught the gimmick right away as soon as I saw all those black squares and the circles making the diamond shape. I could see the center MOUND section causing problems because it's so walled off from the rest of the puzzle. Fortunately all the fill in that box was easy.

I had a bit of trouble with the AALTO/LIEST crossing and the L was my last entry in the grid. I had to run the alphabet twice before I got the L. I think I was stuck because I'm accustomed to seeing LIEST as LY'ST. Is this quote from The Tempest?

Overall, I have to agree with Rex and give this puzzle thumbs up. Excellent work Mr. Wescott.

Karen from the Cape 8:24 AM  

I wanted 'Thou DIEST, monster.'

Are there any other sports you could grid a crossword around? Did we see a cricket puzzle recently? Most sports seem too symmetrical to diagram interestingly.

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

I was pretty sure that ignorant monster DIEST, and that AADTO Alvar designed his mausoleum.

Another vote for F$%#$*n circles, oh, wait, they spelled the bases, great circles.

spyguy 8:42 AM  

I just have one thing to say abou this puzzle:


joho 8:44 AM  

One mistake in that I, too, wanted the monster to "diest." Who wouldn't want a monster dead?

@dk ... yes, that was a bad idea.

I actually did this puzzle while watching the Twins game which made it even more enjoyable. Now I'm in a dilemma because I support both the Twins and the Yankees being from both Minneapolis and NYC.

Thanks, Tim Wescott, you hit a homer!

Hungry Mother 8:47 AM  

Lots of names I didn't know today, but somehow got it all right anyway. I picked up the two theme lines without any crosses at all.

Doug 8:47 AM  

Blitzed through it except for southwest corner which had me stumped forever. Clever theme and somewhat timely, despite being a couple of weeks premature.

The Bard 8:49 AM  

* Caliban. How does thy honour? Let me lick thy shoe.
I'll not serve him; he's not valiant.

* Trinculo. Thou liest, most ignorant monster: I am in case to
justle a constable. Why, thou deboshed fish thou,
was there ever man a coward that hath drunk so much
sack as I to-day? Wilt thou tell a monstrous lie,
being but half a fish and half a monster?

* Caliban. Lo, how he mocks me! wilt thou let him, my lord?

* Trinculo. 'Lord' quoth he! That a monster should be such a natural!

* Caliban. Lo, lo, again! bite him to death, I prithee.

* Stephano. Trinculo, keep a good tongue in your head: if you
prove a mutineer,—the next tree! The poor monster's
my subject and he shall not suffer indignity.

* Caliban. I thank my noble lord. Wilt thou be pleased to
hearken once again to the suit I made to thee?

* Stephano. Marry, will I. kneel and repeat it; I will stand,
and so shall Trinculo.

[Enter ARIEL, invisible]

* Caliban. As I told thee before, I am subject to a tyrant, a
sorcerer, that by his cunning hath cheated me of the island.

* Ariel. Thou liest.

* Caliban. Thou liest, thou jesting monkey, thou: I would my
valiant master would destroy thee! I do not lie.

Act III, Scene 2, The tempest

Jeffrey 8:54 AM  

Go Expos! Oh, yeah, never mind.

This was like a great movie with a lousy ending. Liked everything until the bottom, where AXON/AXIL led us downhill and we slid into an out at AALTO/ALMAS. Aren't EERO and PEI enough. Do we need another architect with an unusual name?

Living in Saanich, I'm ok with AAs, but AALTO can reappear tomorrow and I still wouldn't know him (her?).

I call a balk on Home framed by HOMIE.

YELL crossing CALM is nice.

PIX 9:02 AM  

Shakespeare's "Liest" crosses with "Loams" which could remind one of Hamlet's concern about being turned into Loam (Graveyard scene)and used to plug a beer barrel:
HAMLET: ... as thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried,Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth; of
earth we make loam; and why of that loam, whereto he was converted, might they not stop a beer-barrel?

Fun puzzle; well constructed.

Denise 9:02 AM  

How about "Thou DIDST!" The cross between the Finnish architect and the old movie star was UNFAIR BALL.

It took me an extra minute to plug in letters until it fell into place.

Other than that . . .

Glitch 9:22 AM  

As I recall, the last baseball diamond puzzle had the base names running as diagonals, not the prettiest.

If you're going to do circles as a "diamond",this is the way to do it!


I'll see @Elain's TREE nit and raise "Added muscle ..." = TONED.

You TONE up what you have, perhaps BULKED up better reflects "added".

In this case, "Firmed muscles..." might have been better.

.../Glitch the untoned

slypett 9:26 AM  

By the time I was done, I'd forgotten about the circles, so pleased was I at finishing in nifty time.

Nice puzzle.

In the video, the dancers formed a CONGA line. Fun way to start a drizzly day. Thanks, Rex.

dk 9:27 AM  

@joho, wish you LIEST. I tried to cover up my gaff by dithering that I only cared about baseball when the Yankees were in the World Serious... I think that made it worstest. Perhaps I will have a side order of beets with my other foot.

Here in Mpls there is post new baseball stadium (open air) psychosis as pundits drone on about the soon to be extinct Dome (catchy name dontcha think) and wonder if outdoor baseball in the nation's icebox is a good idea.... Snow in the forecast for this weekend.

edith b 9:45 AM  

Over the years I have seen more baseball puzzles than you can shake a stick at. I liked the way the black squares walled off the MOUND and sort of elevated it. Nice touch.

The puzzle has been name heavy of late - not that I am complaining - but: ALMA Kruger? I know my actresses but Alma Kruger?

I was careful in the SW at the crossing Xs and solved this one pretty quickly. Although the theme is kind of hackneyed, this one was nicely presented

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:52 AM  

Totally okay puzzle. Fine construction, good use of the dreaded circles. And I'm not trying to take anything away from it, but didn't we just do this puzzle?


CFG 9:57 AM  

The NW was oddly difficult, which made for a frustrating start. Couldn't decide between SALT and SWAB, and I thought Henry HIggins was a Beverly Cleary character! (And I couldn't place the Dr. Pepper museum, either.)

But that eventually came together, and the real trouble came in the SW where I had to leave A X of AXIL blank.

I agree with the grumbling about "toned." Firmed up would have been a much more accurate clue.

But very impressive theme!

joho 10:06 AM  

@dk ... I really needed a good laugh today: thank you.

mac 10:19 AM  

Good Wednesday puzzle with a lot of detail and 4 K's. Sosa was almost automatic, as was Aalto. We had a discussion about him last year. I have a couple of "his" vases, very beautiful.
Surprised we all accepted De Novo without instructions. Only rewrite: spyglass for eyeglass.

I'm now planning dinner around baseball games..... My husband is so into it (Yankees) that he returned from London last night, dead tired, but he stayed up to see the end of the Twins game!

@PIX: just read the review of "Hamlet" with Jude Law; not great, apparently.

PlantieBea 10:25 AM  

I had to come here to appreciate the theme outside of the diamond shape. I had trouble with the south and the whole HOMIE, KAHLO, ALMA, LIEST, AALTO mess.

My favorite words today reminded me of HOMIE in the midwest: SACK (poor Aaron Rodgers, happy for Favre), World Series (Twins? :-), LOAM (don't have that here in sandy land), OHARE (almost always fly through), TREE (should be peak colors by now), LOON.

foodie 10:57 AM  

I shocked myself by finding this very easy, since what I know about baseball could fit in a thimble. But past experience with a similar concept helped a great deal...

Neurons again today, with dendrites and AXONS! Be still my heart. And Rex, I totally loved "Just not firing on all AXONs somehow". I cannot tell you how perfect it is, scientifically speaking.

Now I can face the rest of my complicated day with a smile.

Two Ponies 10:59 AM  

Pretty good for a stunt puzzle.
Even the baseball-impaired like myself could piece this together.
Funny that Rex tied axil to pot growing because the 15A raid in my grid pertained to a different sort of roach!
Agree with ebithb on Alma Who?
Bleed over from yesterday's Noah is Arks today (a little different, I know.)
My favorite answer was spyglass.
My hand is up as well on the D or L and the architect. Probably a gimme for Ulrich.
I see that last night Andrea posted youTube links to the Dinner Impossible episodes. I'm glad someone asked. Thanks.

jeff in chicago 10:59 AM  

Yay! A sports-theme puzzle that required almost no actual sports knowledge. (Even I know SOSA!)

And the bases aren't merely spelled out, the letters appear in order as you run the bases. Nice!

The AALTO/ALMAS cross got me. That A seemed both logical and unlikely. Go figure.

ArtLvr 11:38 AM  

Huge number of names! I knew most of them, and found only a few through crosses. Who were Laura and ROB?

One bit of fill which could have been a tougher name: BOK -- though he was clued as a Chinese green w/ choy! Edward W Bok was a Dutch-born author who settled in Philly as editor of the Ladies Home Journal. He won a Pulitzer for his 1920 autobiography, "The Americanization of Edward Bok". With his wife, he left lasting philanthropic legacies such as the Bok Singing Gardens in Florida, now part of the National Park system.

Oh yes, the theme? Easy, well done...


ArtLvr 11:53 AM  

p.s. I remember now, the Dick van Dyke show with Laura and Rob...

Geezer 11:55 AM  

I was able to fill in the W early, and 57A BASEBALLDIAMOND fell in soon. Then I caught on, filled in the rest of the circles, and that made the rest of the puzzle go smoothly and easily.

PlantieBea 11:59 AM  

@artlvr: Bok Towers, now a national landmark, has a beautiful carillon tower. The gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted of Central Park and Smith College fame. Gorgeous place.

Clark 12:09 PM  

@mac, I too have an AALTO vase. I bet everyone has seen one once, they have a wavy shape and are otherwise hard to describe (like a weird bedpan that had a severe growth spurt?). AALTO is Finnish for ‘wave’. AALTO entered his vase in a competition at the 1936 Paris World’s Fair under the pseudonym ‘Eskimo woman’s leather breeches.’ (That's what AALTO.com says anyway, from which you can purchase said vase. Finnish glassblowing elves are apparently producing them continuously.)

I totally missed the HOAMIE at Home. Thanks for EXPOsing that @Crosscan.

“Thou LIEST, by this head!” says Huckle the shepherd in the popular English translation of the Oberufer medieval shepherds play. Made it a gimme for me.

Hobbyist 12:21 PM  

Laura and Rob Petrie were part of the Dick Van Dyke tv program of yore. Their son was Ritchie, named after Mary Tyler Moor's own real life son. As Rex said, this a one of the pioneering TV sit-coms. Many funny subsidiary characters too. Jerry and Millie Helper, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam et al.
We still say "ingredaments" thanks to the show.

treedweller 12:27 PM  

I saw SECOND forming early and filled in all the circles. I probably would have finished faster if I hadn't bothered, but it felt like some kind of accomplishment.

And add me to the "diest" list, despite having read "The Tempest." I was all ready to cry about the obscure AALTO, but then remembered the last time he appeared. I even photoshopped a picture of an AALTO sax with a triple bell. I'd repost it, but it's on another computer.

An impressive accomplishment, even crossing SECOND with a long theme answer. I was like BEQ, wondering why we were getting a virtual repeat. But there's nothing new under the sun, so I'll go thumbs-up.

Greene 12:36 PM  

@Mac: The reviews appear to be mixed on Jude Law's Hamlet. Ben Brantley in the NYT was mixed, while USA Today and Associated Press were favorable. The Daily News gave it a rave. Only Variety panned the show. Go here to see clip of the show (about a third of the way down the page, on the left). C'mon...a gender-twisting, barefoot Hamlet in a cardigan (?) bellowing "To a nunnery go"? How can you stay away?

MikeM 1:00 PM  

Entered ACHE instead of AGUE initially. Never heard of Ms Kruger and could not get Lisa Kudrow out of my head. Alvar AALTO - how's that for a name?

Loved the theme. These constructors amaze me... never in a million years could I construct something like this. Great puzzle Tim. Play ball and Go Yanks!

Van55 1:00 PM  

"the whole HOMIE, KAHLO, ALMA, LIEST, AALTO mess."

Aptly described. Needed to googla Alvar to clean up the mess. I am surprised no one has referred to Rex's "Natick principle" with regard to the AALTO/ALMAS crossing. Unfair.

deerfencer 1:06 PM  

Ok puzzle but I diest as well when I should've liest down.

Carl Reiner set the DVD Show in New Rochelle as that's where he was living at the time he wrote the pilot.

Re the Twins impending new open air stadium--hurrah! And death to all wretched domes--or at least the unretractable ones.

Separately, when is Tampa Bay going to put their pathetic ballpark out of its misery? Nothing says quality quite like old faded Astroturf in Florida--not. The field oughta be fined by MLB.

Harmon Killebrew 1:06 PM  

Despite being huge baseball fan, i found this puzzle a total bore. Could barely even stand to finish it.

Just seemed very lackluster. And spelling out the diamond didnt even make me smile. It was a drag.

Booo. Bring in a reliever.

bluebell 1:12 PM  

I confidently started with salt/Shaw, a juxtaposition which is rather apt. But of course I was wrong and had to change salt to swab. El Norte was a gimme, since I still remember the film--wrenching. Had to cry uncle on axil/axon/aalto/alma. But even for a non baseball person this was fun--thank you to the mind that could devise such entertainment.

retired_chemist 1:43 PM  

Thumbs up for Two Ponies for pointing out the nifty ambiguity of 15A Raid target (ROACH).
I enjoyed it. After reading Rex's analysis I am even more impressed by the construction.

AALTO was not at particular risk here because I remembered enough of The Tempest to know that Caliban did not die.

Google notes that there is a "Harvard Eggs Feed & Produce" in Harvard IL. One can only assume that Derek Bok Choy runs it.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:46 PM  

Not much to say about the puzzle (What is this "baseball" of which you speak?), but having the names of the bases run counterclockwise was a masterful stroke.

Thanks to the Bard at 8:49 AM for the Tempest outtake. [Enter ARIEL, invisible], taken literally, gives [exit, pursued by a bear] competition as the best stage direction ever.

mexgirl 1:49 PM  

I feel like BEQ. It seems we just did this puzzle not too long ago. In fact, I feel there's a baseball puzzle every other week....!
(Though the circles spelling the bases is quite an accomplishment!)
I don't dare complain since I know I'm probably in the minority here.

sanfranman59 1:51 PM  

In spite of a personal Natick at the intersection of AALTO and ALMAS, I completed this one much faster than my usual Wednesday solve time (7:09 vs my 9:25 Wed average). It didn't help that I had a typo in NOMAAM (namaam??? doh!) and diest instead of LIEST. Such are the advantages and disadvantages of completing the puzzle online. I knew the AALTO/ALMAS cross had to be either an A or an E. But when I tried both and neither solution was accepted (thanks to my typo), I needed to look up AALTO in Wikipedia.

As a big baseball fan, I appreciated the theme, although I don't think it helped me much. I didn't even notice that the bases were spelled out in the circles until I finished. Extra points in my book for NORTE in the north, SOSA leading off first base, HOMIE at home plate and AUTRY (the founding owner of the team now known as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim).

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

Gene Autry used to own the California Angels. Fits in the theme, although maybe the clue should have been related.

andrea loon michaels 2:03 PM  

Too bad 32A (Socrates letter clue) wasn't R-H...E!!!
My heart skipped a beat when I started to fill it in...
Plus, had it been RHE it would have been another theme answer.

Wow, all you have to do is marry Donald Trump and have a baby named Tiffany by him and you get your name in a NY Times puzzle???!!!
Why didn't I think of that!

I have to say, when forced to use plurals for names, I LOVED the two EMMAS and the two IANS both being literary!!!!!!
If only there were two ALMAS who were actresses, that would have been cool...
instead, near Natick for me with the first A.
I got LIEST, but I thought it was a reference to IAGO...and I was once even in a college NOH production of "The Tempest".
(Yes, it sounds as good as it was! I think my own parents walked out!)

Great call about HOMIE...esp it being a variation on top of everything else, but the circles are pretty magnificent, even tho I think this whole crossword constructor/baseball obsession has gotten out of hand.

Make that an un-silent minority!
I'm sure SanFranMan could do some wild stats on this...how many baseball themes there have been, how many baseball players mentioned on a daily level, how many baseball initials real and forced, how many baseball metaphors in the commentary, how many complaints about all of the above...

On another less rant-y note,
TEMPER was the hardest clue for me to figure out and I LOVED it when I got it and I love Rex's punchintheface comment.

(That also goes for being told to CALM down.)

SIZE for Shoe was my only writeover. "If the shoe fits...be careful!"?

The Old Dick Van Dyke Show is probably my favorite show of all time. I had hoped that would be what it would be like to write for a sitcom.
I can only do three passable impressions:
Katherine Hepburn claiming "The Callalilies are in bloom again", Peter Lorre's collar-grabbing plea "Ric, you've got to hide me!" and MTM's "Oh Rooooooob!"
(I wish I could embed a video!)

Charles Bogle 2:36 PM  

Had reactions similar to cynthiag and bobkerfuffle/ agree w RP don't know why they couldn't have held this puzzle a few weeks until Series starts, also, too many silly plurals for me...only Kruger actress I knew was Diane from Inglorious Basterds..who knew about ALMA? My favorite: OHARE for "Bear's landing place". What a hoot!

chefwen 4:02 PM  

Loved this puzzle and figured out the bases half way through and that helped with the second half. Hand up for diest, my only mistake.

Don't want to hear anymore about SACKs after that pathetic show the Packers put on Monday. SOB! Was watching said game with a Viking fan, double SOB!! Really wanted to do some face punching.

sanfranman59 4:02 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)

Wed 10:49, 11:46, 0.92, 33%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:35, 5:48, 0.96, 42%, Medium

Anonymous 4:49 PM  

How has 6D MOOER slipped by without a Booer? (South African trekker [var.])

As for 26D OHARE, surely a clue more in keeping with the baseball theme would have been "Cub's landing place?" The Bears land in SFO! (Oh, you mean Da NFL Bears? Doh!)

Larry THE Bear

Elaine 5:16 PM  

I would like Sanfranman to check how many clues/entries involve MEL OTT....for a long time, the only baseball answer I knew. Honestly, he's been in one or another puzzle at least twice a week since Hector was a pup! Since crosswords were invented! Since the Dawn of Time!

Anyone else think names are TOTALLY getting out of hand as the easy way out of a jam? I was guessing on AALTO/RITA, but RITA seemed reasonable, and I didn't bother to go upstairs to the GoogleMachine! ALMA wouldn't be such a BOO-HISS entry if only (a) it were not pluralized, and (b) it was an ALMA we'd reasonably know. This minor actress was dead before Rex was born, wasn't she?

Andrea Loon Michaels, please rant more!!

Stan 5:44 PM  

Since my paper was soaking wet, I printed this using Times Reader (an online thingie free with subscription) and there were no circles! But that just made for a pleasant bonus afterwards.

Always appreciate Kirsty MacColl...

Go Sox!

Glitch 5:50 PM  


OTT has benn in about 111 puzzles since 1993.

Ranges from once in 1996 to about 12 in 2000. So far this year 6 times.

It is the 298th most "popular", ERA first at 346 tops the list.


Two Ponies 7:11 PM  

@ andrea, I had to get to a Mac to view the youTube clips but your presence really livened up the show. You seemed very comfortable on camera. I was very amused that you bucked what might have been a production stereotype. You were the only woman on the show and you didn't know how to shop or peel a potato??? Too funny. In my mind you saved the show from hopeless nerdiness. Now I know why Mrs. mac asked if you were for real! (In a good way of course!)
Thanks for showing another side of the puzzle solvers.

mac 7:39 PM  

@Two Ponies: that was Mrs. Crosscan!!

andrea onset michaels 7:54 PM  

@Two Ponies
Thanks!!! I'm hoping they will rerun that show till I'm 80...what with the residuals just pouring in!

(Insert rant here about how the 8 hours of labor was totally unpaid with no breaks or food!)

Thank you for thinking I was simply breaking stereotypes as opposed to it simply showcasing the thousands of things I know not how to do!
(Watch her change a tire! Let's get Andrea to sew a button! Hey, how about opening a bottle of wine! Wait, let's ski!)

Actually it was a totally fun surreal experience (retroactively, of course)

David B 8:29 PM  

I agree with Michele...this theme is a repeat of one done several months ago. In that one, the bases were spelled out in diagonal squares. I was quite surprised to see a theme repeated. What's up Will Shortz?

Two Ponies 9:07 PM  

@ mac and Crosscan, So sorry for the mix-up! Yikes. I swear I know better and actually try to pay attention.
@ andrea, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt since you seem to be faring fine on your own even if you can't change a tire. What's AAA for anyway?

foodie 9:22 PM  

@Andrea, I can imagine you totally nailing the "Oh Roooob!"

When I first came to the US, I watched situation comedies obsessively because this is how I could learn everyday American, rather that the formal academic English I knew. And MTM was my favorite both in the Dick Van Dyke and the MTM shows.

@dk and Clark, I too have an AALTO vase. Not always easy to arrange flowers in it, but tulips look great! I remember going to Finland many moons ago and being very impressed with their design. Check out iitala glass. In general, I liked the fact that shops in Finland displayed photos of the designers of various objects, furniture, jewelry, wallpaper, clothes and textile. Appreciation of great design seemed to permeate the entire culture!

sanfranman59 10:05 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 7:13, 6:59, 1.03, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 10:40, 8:34, 1.25, 95%, Challenging
Wed 10:49, 11:46, 0.92, 33%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:45, 3:42, 1.01, 60%, Medium
Tue 4:58, 4:24, 1.13, 83%, Challenging
Wed 5:28, 5:48, 0.94, 35%, Easy-Medium

MIT Girl 10:34 PM  

If you want to get on friendlier terms with these architects whose names keep popping up in crossword puzzle land, swing by the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA., to see two wonderful buildings by Eero Saarinen (the chapel and Kresge Auditorium) and one by Alvar Aalto (the serpentine dormitory, Baker House). They were part of what attracted me to attend MIT. You can also see an interesting Frank Gehry building, an IM Pei Building, a colorful Sol LeWitt floor and a lot of great public sculptures.

retired_chemist 10:50 PM  

@ MIT girl - Who knew? Baker House done by Aalto? Cool! Thanks for info.

retired_chemist V '61

andrea anew michaels 2:23 AM  

@greene is teaching me to embed:

if this works, he's just created a monster!

acme 2:26 AM  

hmmmm. the world is still safe.
Add it to the list of stuff I still can't do.

liquid el lay 3:15 AM  

MOOER made me laugh.

(Hungry cow, maybe) !

mac 8:05 AM  

When we moved to Hamburg, Germany I would watch soaps and other series on TV to learn colloquial German - it worked vry well!

There is a catalogue, I think it's called "Design within Reach" that also shows pictures of the designers, who are from all over the world. Wonderful classic modernist pieces, plus the latest in interior design.

Singer 11:43 AM  

Post from syndication land where the Damn Yankees have won it all again!

It was pleasant to see rp rate a puzzle as medium that I found easy, but then I realized I actually completed the puzzle wrong. Darn! I had AnON / AnIL instead of AXON / AXIL. Got snagged by confusing my crosswordese anil:axil. And I know what a dendrite is, too.

Had trouble in the usual places, shoe for SIZE being the biggest. Had to guess at the AAL*TO / *IEST cross and guessed right with an "L".

I was a bit annoyed with the theme, the wierd grid and the easiness of the puzzle (despite the impossible bind at AALTO / LIEST) and the possible Natick at AALTO / ALMA. But the way that the diamond was drawn with the circles and the fact that the circles actually spelled the names of the bases in the correct order and in the correct direction - now that is a masterwork of construction and all the flaws are forgiven. Now if only the Rockies had won the series...

Wade Bogged Down 2:20 PM  

I could not see the bases for the world, making my nom de plume a boggle and me a bozo, or at best, a meek beginner. Pray, thou do not yell, I liest not and aver to start anew the 'morrow. P'raps I'll have aced it yet. Give me an F on this one. Letsgo.

Waxy in Montreal 5:14 PM  

For a comedy combo of the baseball and Shakespearean themes, check out -
Wayne and Shuster Youtube

slypett 6:22 PM  

Waxy: LObloodyL!

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