Moravian capital — SATURDAY, Oct. 17 2009 — Matricidal figure of myth / Belgian balladeer / Klaxon-sounding occasion / Track speedster beginning 2000

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Constructor: Chuck Deodene

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: BENTHIC (23A: Of the seafloor) — Occurring at the base of bodies of water: lakes, oceans, and seas. Benthos refers to life attached to the bottom or moving in the bottom mud. (Geography Dictionary)


A nice little workout. Found it (no surprise) vastly easier than yesterday's puzzle, though I still had to fight my way through many spots. Seems slightly unambitious for a Saturday. The SW corner is beautiful (especially like TAX DODGE — 36D: Bit of trickery on the schedule), but the rest is kind of blah. Two zingers today (i.e. a word I'd never seen and could not infer in any way shape or form): BENTHIC, which appears to mean "of or relate to the writings of Jeremy Bentham," but doesn't; and HEL (25A: Underworld goddess). What the HEL? There's a goddess named HEL? Indeed there is. I teach about HEL(L) all the time in Virgil, and Dante, and Milton, and yet somehow Ms. HEL has eluded my notice all these years. She now joins TYR in the "Norse Gods I learned from doing crosswords" category. My ignorance of HEL led to my favorite mistake of the day...

I had the most trouble (by far) getting into the NE corner. Even with the two potential points of entry, I got stuck. Had everything from ROVE (29A: Drift) down (i.e. the last three letters of ever Down up there) and made a good, solid, and ultimately correct guess at AGE LEVEL (12D: What pupils are separated by), and then just sat there for a bit, unable to work anything else. Finally, off -OPE, I decided that 11D: Offered a way out could mean only one thing: GAVE ROPE. And it worked! Got SUGAR (9A: Crystals used for dishes), then SUMAC (9D: Cause of a rash response?), and then a few seconds later I was done ... well, sort of. REL? There's a goddess named REL? I just couldn't accept that. Then I could. Then I couldn't again. Finally I decided to test other letters in R, E, and L's places, pulled the "R" and "H" popped right in. I am now totally in love with my wrong answer. I meant GAVE ROPE in the sense of "throw someone a lifeline," but now all I can imagine is someone saying "hey, I can offer you a way out ... hang yourself with this rope." The diametric opposition of my answer and the right answer is fantastic. Good Halloween-time morbidity.


  • 1A: Through the efforts of (thanks to) — oddly, I started this puzzle by simply writing in the TO in this answer. Figured that would have be how the phrase ended, since the preposition "OF" was in the clue. Off of "TO" I immediately got ORESTES (8D: Matricidal figure of myth — which I could have gotten w/o crosses, frankly) and TETON (7D: County in Idaho, Montana or Wyoming). I should say that I got so excited by the mythology clue that I instinctively wrote in OEDIPUS before remembering that he killed his dad, not his mom. He did something else to his mom. ORESTES killed Clytemnestra for her role in killing ORESTES' (asshole) father, AGAMEMNON. This is all dramatized in Aeschylus's Oresteia (named after our boy here).
  • 14A: Sputnik launch time (Soviet Era) — well, you knew it wasn't going to be something like "TEN A.M.," so you think Bigger period of time. Had the "ER" in ERA already sitting there, so piece of cake.
  • 19A: Pooch in panels (Odie) — other options? OTTO. DAWG. That's all I can come up with right now.
  • 21A: Track speedster beginning in 2000 (ACELA) — I learned this train name from crosswords, and had no idea it was so (relatively) new.
  • 44A: Minute (bitsy) — yuck.
  • 56A: Moravian capital (Brno) — I've been Brned by BRNO bfore. Never again!
  • 58A: Get some quick lodging (rent a room) — not sure why this is "quick."
  • 60A: Sen. Bayh's senior counterpart (Lugar) — R-IN. Nice counterpoint to SUGAR in the NE.
  • 61A: Guard against drifting (snow fence) — that's a thing? OK.
  • 2D: Hip-hop top (hoodie) — just 'cause it's got "'hood" in it doesn't mean it's hip-hop (though, yes, you can see HOODIES aplenty in hip-hop videos, I suppose). LOTS of people wear hoodies, just as lots (and lots) of people wear NIKE (4D: Brand that may be worn with a 2-Down). The NIKE tie-in feels really weak to me. ANY brand may be worn with a HOODIE.
  • 5D: The New Yorker writer Auletta (Ken) — Never heard of him. I read Harper's and (for now) The Atlantic. Once The New Yorker dropped its cryptic (a decade ago?), I had no use for it.
  • 13D: Klaxon-sounding occasion (red alert) — KLAXON was just in the puzzle, wasn't it? I thought it was an instrument, a horn you might blow on to signal the entrance of the king or something. But no, it's a trademark (!?) for an electromechanical horn or alerting device (wikipedia).
  • 31D: He said "If Attila the Hun were alive today, he'd be a drama critic?" (Albee) — easy. Had the "AL," and ALBEE's up there with AGEE in grid frequency.
  • 32D: Fusty greeting (Dear Sirs) — Oddly, my first guess. Didn't exactly trust it, but cross after cross proved correct.
  • 41D: Fishing weapon (trident) — I thought this was mainly just a symbol for Neptune. You actually fish with it, eh? Cool.
  • 46D: BP competitor (Sunoco) — wanted Conoco at first. That's something, right?
  • 50D: Piazza de Ferrari setting (Genoa) — just wait for recognizable Italian city to show up. Once you've got the "G," no problem.
  • 56D: Belgian balladeer (Brel) — as in Jacques. Learned him from crosswords. As Euro balladeers go, I prefer Yves Montand. Let's compare.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


imsdave 8:52 AM  

Took a long time, but I really enjoyed it. NE was my bugaboo too.

BYOB was my first answer in the grid (a little sad, no?). I tried September for SOVIETERA. Also tried BUNT/OBITS before SNAG/ELEGY.

Medium-challenging for me.

Jeffrey 9:20 AM  

Slow and steady but I finished the race. Used pen and paper for a change and I count about 50 write-overs.

GRAB A ROOM, GUN RACK were two I kept way too long.

Exactly what I look for on Saturday.

Elaine 9:20 AM  

Well....hand up for OEDIPUS; can't believe I fell for that, but it WAS 1 a.m. It became apparent at once that it was a mistake. For 46D I had VALERO, CONOCO, and finally, finally SUNOCO. I was also slowed by 37A, for which I tried GUN-CASE/SAFE/RACK/and even MOLL, before BELT corrected OTHER wrong entries.... Oddly, I knew BRNO (and not from Xwords), but tsk on AXEMEN (hey, it was the Tower of London--you know what goes on there!)

I do question 38D Lumps= NUBS. Really? NUBS are short, stubby ends or remainders. "You wanna draw back a bloody nub?" is a good standard "Back off!" when someone is helping himself to your popcorn, for instance. LUMPS cannot be substituted; therefore I cry Foul.

Not a quick solve for me, but interesting and with some tricky clues. Thanks, Chuck!

P.S. Is there such a thing as a Deodene?

SethG 9:25 AM  

This puzzle skews a bit harder if one can't, say, enter ORESTES from the O. I learned it from you, and finally remembered it from ORESxxx. In the beginning, I had just about nothing until IVAN Drago saved me--started with DATED for CHOSE, but I trusted OVERHAUL and built out from the SW.

I often wear HOODIEs, and no one's ever accused me of being too hip-hop. For example, I have a favorite ad-hoc query tool. Golden, from BENTHIC software.

a-pat 9:35 AM  

here's a fun challenge: try to find a dictionary in which none of the definitions for nub is "a small lump". "draw back a bloody nub" is maybe the most dated expression i've ever heard.

twangster 9:48 AM  

For whatever reason, this was on the hard side of challenging for me. I got the top left fine but the rest was a disaster.

I was sure the Bayhs were from Utah, so I went back and forth between ORRIN and HATCH a few times.

chefbea 9:54 AM  

Tough puzzle. Needed lots of googling.

Can't believe i couldn't get sugar!!! Had radio at first - are there radio crystals in the TV dishes???

Bob Kerfuffle 9:54 AM  

NW and SE - easy. This was one of the few Saturdays when I could confidently put in 1 A and work from there. And BENTHIC was a gimme for me.

NE and SW - medium. My key to cracking the NE turned out to be one of my Most Hated Crosswordeses - APER. Key to SW was just staring at it long enough, mentally trying out varieties of TAX______.

dk 10:01 AM  

Todays puzzle is brought to you by the letter B. So no a(fill in the blank) fill, thankfully.

PINOCHLE (not a clue, even as I got it in the crosses) and REDALERT (I had allhands) slowed me up.

BENTHIC, BATHTUB, RENTAROOM (Hi Acme) and TATTLEON (Acme, hope no one does ;0) were my first fills. SOVIETERA came after trying fifties, sixties etc. for far to long.

Challenging for me as I could not get in Mr. Deodene's grove.

I wish I could be a certain someone's birthday party tonight. Best wishes on turning 30 Monday constructor who must not be named. I shall raise a glass to you.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

@DK - Did you mean you wish you could be at someone's birthday party, or did you really man that you wish you constituted the party itself? Or both?

Unknown 10:21 AM  

A bit on the hard side for me as well as like Crosscan, many of my first guesses proved to be close (but no cigar). Hel is Loki's daughter and she spelled her name H E single stick.

The corner stacks of three both down and across (with one exception) are compounds and made for an interesting post solve review. I've seen Mr. Deodene's puzzles in the LA Times and they are almost always a bit difficult for me because of the tricky cluing.

ArtLvr 10:25 AM  

I didn't have to google, but this was a challenge! I started with BY DINT OF rather THANKS TO, plus WROTE DOWN instead of TOOK NOTES, and IN A SENSE for AS THOUGH. Only KEN swimming into my ken got me back to square one!

Then I managed to tease out all the rest except the NW, where I'd had USAGE and took it out, as it might not fit with the only driver I knew, UNGAR. Ha. DIS was the deity I wanted for HEL, no help!

I finally tried ROVE, which led to AGE LEVEL, HEL and RED ALERT -- but I had a last snag to overcome even with USAGE in place again. I badly wished for some QUARTZ crystals! Not plain SUGAR, surely? Yes, and SUMAC. So "tearful" was in no way SOPPY, just MOVED. Whew.

Thus it went, well done Mr. Deodene! I noticed that nobody mentioned the THRONE today (yet).


Orange 10:27 AM  

I use my TRIDENT for solving crosswords, personally.

ArtLvr 10:31 AM  

p.s. re Rex's struggles with the icing yesterday -- I just saw a quotation from Mother Teresa: "Facing the media is more difficult than bathing a leper!"


Denise 10:32 AM  

When you are with two people who are nuzzling and "all over one another," the thing to say is GET A ROOM (like, for a "quickie").

Thanks for Brel.

I think the Hip Hop culture started calling hooded sweatshirts HOODIES.

I made many errors, but finished, and, at 10:30 last night I was #8 (out of 18) in the time list. I will enjoy that feeling for many days to come!

Denise 10:35 AM  

Right now -- 10:35 EDT, I am 47 out of 193. No Amy, but -- hey -- not bad.

PlantieBea 10:49 AM  

The whole left side of this puzzle fell without too much difficulty, but the right side, especially the NE was a challenge. I stuck with GUN CASE for way too long. In the SE, I ended with an error--burned by BRNO and didn't get BREL. Thanks for the BREL clips, Rex. Maybe I will remember him next time.

Florida 4-H came to the rescue again. I knew Benthic from my kids' marine ecology project where benthos live on the bottom.

Thanks to all for the b-day wishes and a Happy Birthday to Andrea!

Susan 10:50 AM  

I am wearing a hoodie right now. Watch out! No, but really, HOODIE clued that way is entirely fair. They are definitely part of hip-hop fashion, even though other people wear them too.

@Elaine and (Oedipus) Rex, yes, me too on Oedipus for Orestes. How embarrassing...

Also embarrassing: my husband is a marine scientist who has on more than one occasion attended the Benthic Ecology conference and it took me at least three crosses before I got it.

However I did finish! Slowly but without googling.

Elaine 11:00 AM  

Watch out, ArtLvr! You are NOT taking my title of "Most Dated Expression User" BY DINT OF SOPPY old Al UNGAR! (Yeah, that was the track I was thinking of, too.)

(Whippersnapper a-pat seems to think that just because things are old, they should be discarded. Possible future on a Death Panel?)

OOps, time for my BenGay treatment--and then it's off to Bingo at the Senior Center!

slypett 11:11 AM  

I, alone, did not finish. I was flummoxed by the NE.

Can anyone explain cast<>HOE?

Rex Parker 11:15 AM  

Yeah, I can explain it. It's wrong.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

Cast = hUe

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

@Xman think color cast = hue

Two Ponies 11:34 AM  

What a delicious puzzle.
Clever misdirections, tricky plurals and past-tenses like hadn't. took notes and chose.
I thought about Bayh's father Byrch (sp?)until Lugar appeared.
After yesterday's disaster this was genuine fun. Plus I learned a new word, benthic.
I'm not sure what I'm doing tonight but I'll bet Andrea's party would be more fun. I wonder how the cake will turn out?
@ artlvr Great quote!

Greene 11:39 AM  

Fun puzzle, though it took me well over an hour last night. First entry in the grid was ALBEE. His quote about Atilla is one of many famous (to me) barbs about drama critics. Of course, this is balanced by another famous saying attributed to Albee: "You gotta have swine to show you where the truffles are."

Major errors for me: DOO RAG for HOODIE. DOO RAG just seemed more hip-hopish to me (yeah, like I know anything about hip-hop culture). Didn't help that it sorta worked, what with SOVIET ERA and TOOK NOTES fitting in nicely. This error also led me to enter GRIM instead of ODIE for the pooch. My wife reminded me that Mother Goose's dog is spelled GRIMM. Arg. I also had HOLSTER for GUN BELT. Oh, and TAX FRAUD for TAX DODGE. Whatever. I got there eventually and without Google which is always a plus for me on Saturday.

I'm in Tallahassee for the weekend visiting with my daughter at FSU. The campus has been under construction renovation since I can't remember how long. Maybe they'll finish...someday. In the interim, it's still a beautiful campus and a beautiful fall day.

Oh, @Orange. Love the new avatar!

miguel 11:40 AM  

I know this puzzle better than many since I just spent an hour with it. Yesterday's early error making me think of a taxdodge junction shows up to day as an answer.

Oedipus and Orestes would have made a lovely partnership. A family get together might have been stressful though. XMAN may have a new insight on the term Hoe Down. Gotta go, I have a reservation on my THRONE.

hazel 11:41 AM  

Is "it's wrong" REALLY an explanation, which is defined as "a statement made to clarify something and make it understandable"?

Rex - go get yourself a piece of cake - might sweeten you up a bit this morning.

The puzzle - another tough one for me, crashed and burned in the NE like many others. The rest was no picnic, however - and there weren't any ants to warn me.

Happy B'day @jeepers - your post yesterday much funnier than anything I've ever heard Paula Poundstone say, by the way. Live it up!

slypett 11:42 AM  

Thanks all. Now I'm so embarrassed that I just want to mispell everything, but I'm so inhibited that I can't. Surely, a black beginning to a partly sunny day.

Anonymous, Too 12:06 PM  

What Hazel said, Rex.

Not many more keystrokes required just to enter a phrase such as, "Sunlight through stained glass, giving her face a rosy cast...."

Revisit Friday's blog to experience humility; it'll make you more patient.

HudsonHawk 12:11 PM  

Rex and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum for the second day in a row. Yesterday was Easy-Medium for me, while today's was Challenging.

The SE fell pretty quickly, but everything else was a slog. The NW was my Waterloo, largely because I had OTTO crossing ECKO, which really is a hip-hop brand. As a result, I really wanted SPACE RACE for 14A. Big 'ol mess. But I persevered, Google and ERRor free.

Ulrich 12:13 PM  

A Saturday I can finish w/o googling is always a treat, no matter how long it takes--two sessions in this case, one at night, one in a certain place this morning. Plus, Cologne won--the weekend looks bright, even if it's rainy outside.

Can someone provide a sentence in which "lacked" can be replaced by "hadn't"? I had "had no" until I had to give it up...

@Clark as per late last night: Keep me posted please!

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

@ Ulrich, Rex would have answered you but hadn't the vocabulary.

mac 12:26 PM  

I crashed and burned in the SW: bunt/obits, let be instead of hadn't, overedit for overhaul, etc.

Had some trouble in other areas as well, but those I could sort out without outside help: mohawk for hoodie (friend Pam doesn't like hooded shirts, feels as if she is being chased), harpoon for trident, gunboat for -belt), zero hours for the soviet era, and I also had Oedipus before remembering he killed his father (didn't do his mother much good, either). We came by the Tower of London yesterday on our way to Greenwich, but this morning I could only think of ravens and beefeaters. After I got the -men, yeo did seem the only option, though.

I had to do this puzzle online, and once again I found it much less fun than on paper; no choice, though, they put the Sunday puzzle (beautiful grid!) in the Saturday Herald Tribune.

@Greene: I've been worrying about your daughter for the last two days!

HudsonHawk 12:33 PM  

@mac, I also thought about OBITS and BUNT down in the SW, but waited for some other options.

mccoll 12:39 PM  

Too tough for me today. This is the first one I couldn't solve without coming here, and that isn't really a solution! To those who managed it, "Kudos."I went from NW down to SE without trouble but I couldn't fill the other two corners, therefor I had to Chuck Deodene.

edith b 12:47 PM  

Started with BATHTUB and moved South through ALBEE - the only neon in the whole puzzle for me. I was able to guess POTABLE at 34A and it turned out to be the only thing I was able to get in the SW till the very end.

I thought STOLE was too simple for Saturday but I was able the build the NW on the strength of the T and, as Elaine is fond of saying, the nickel dropped for SOVIETERA which allowed me to neatly sidestep the Oedipus trap.

Doing crossword puzzles for a long time prepared me for BRNO, a good lateweek clue, and I was able to cherrypick my way up the East coast, taking down the RABBI/APER cross on the way and INPUT helped me see GUN**** and to guess at AGELEVEL for 12D which eventually brought down the NE through USAGE crossing SUMAC and USOC.

I haven't seen a late-week puzzle so devoid of specificity in a long time. It was definitely outside of my strength area. I have learned quite a bit from Rex about wordplay techniques in the year or so I have been coming to this blog.

This was just the kind of puzzle I failed to finish in the past and I thank Rex and my fellow commenters for my continuing education. I spent the better part of an hour on this one but it was time well spent.

When I finally changed BIRCH to LUGAR at 60A and was able to see PINOCHLE, I ocmpleted this one without outside assistance.

Thanks, Rex and guys.

dk 12:57 PM  

@anon AT 10:05 AM, Discretion is the better part of valor.... At least I have heard that said.

@PlanetBea, happy birthday to you and how on earth did you learn of Andrea's birthday secret???????

Off with the stepdog to explore glacial moraine.

PlantieBea 1:06 PM  

"how on earth did you learn of Andrea's birthday secret???????"

@dk: I always try to read the RP blog and all of the comments carefully :-)

MsCarrera 1:20 PM  

I see that many of you get the puzzle a day early. Where do you find it? Thanks.

Susan 1:30 PM  

@MsCarrera: I have a subscription to the on-line puzzle. It comes up at 10PM Eastern. You can print it and solve it on paper or do it on line.

slypett 1:42 PM  

Ulrich: It's a rare locution. He hadn't cakes, e.g. (Less rarely: He hadn't any cakes.)

joho 1:51 PM  

Well, I get an "A" for picking the word of the day. I actually did get that one right. But the NE killed me. I would not let go of EYELEVEL ... c'mon, two people looking at each other with their pupils are eyelevel, aren't they? Upon further consideration, if one is 6' tall and the 5' not so much.

I couldn't complete the NE without help and since I no longer Google I circled U N C L E in the grid and made that my theme for the day!

sanfranman59 2:17 PM  

As I predicted yesterday, solving this one was a very humbling experience. It probably didn't help that I was attempting to solve it with my eyes half closed last night. Apparently HudsonHawk and I have similar spheres of knowledge as I also found yesterday relatively easy and today very challenging (although I cheated and he didn't). Too many multiple word answers (14!) for my liking. Some day, I'll get through a Saturday without cheating ... er, Googling, but that day certainly wasn't today.

Early returns on solve times are that this one's at about the same relative level of difficulty as yesterday's for the top 100 solvers and more challenging for all solvers. Hopefully, I'll remember to check the solve times before they disappear at 3:00 today (I usually forget or am not near a computer at that time on Saturdays).

edmcan 2:52 PM  

Can someone please explain the clue for 'sugar'? I just don't get it.

Southern Cook 2:59 PM  

I use sugar crystals to prepare our favorite dishes, such as pecan pie.

Does that help?

EM 3:02 PM  

@Ulrich===Does "He hadn't (lacked)the funds to contibute to her campaign" work?

fergus 3:30 PM  

NE problems as well, since I was MOPEY and chose to ROAM.

In some confusion in the NW I almost went with BOOKNOTED. I wonder what it's called when you compress Bookmarked with Footnoted?

Vox populi 4:01 PM  

Re: Danger: High Tweetage!
Twitter Updates

* My own Comments section is a foreign world to me now. about 3 hours ago.

If you don't like us, just disable the section.

PuzzleGirl 4:08 PM  

Flew through the NW and thought I was on my way to a personal record. The rest of the puzzle ... not so much. I really enjoyed it though. I also had trouble in the NE and, like Bob Kerfuffle, APER finally saved me.

I used to have two hoodies that I wore around the house all the time. PuzzleHusband threw them away one day because he hated them and finally decided he'd had enough. He's not against hoodies per se, just ugly hoodies. So I co-opted a nice Calvin Klein hoodie I found on his side of the closet and wear that now.

Ulrich 4:10 PM  

@anonymous, XMAN, EM: Thx, I really got it now!

Rex Parker 4:12 PM  

I have several hoodies and love them all. Make me warm and happy. But much as I love hip hop, hoodies are pretty much instantly de-hip-hoppified the instant they touch my body.


retired_chemist 4:32 PM  

Fail. 44 minutes and one error - 25A AEL. 40A BATHTUB was ARMOIRE, then ETAGERE until I slogged through enough crosses to get it right. 37A GUNBELT was GUN CASE, then GUN RACK. Had OTTO (cf. Beetle Bailey) for ODIE @ 19A.

TEENY @ 44A was eliminated hastily because I didn't think the Editor would let NUTS stand as lumps @ 38D.

Knew OEDIPUS was wrong @ 8D but was tempted. Never heard of ACELA (21A) or KEN Auletta @ 5D, but had no problem with BENTHIC and only a little with BRNO (mostly a problem of faith and confidence).

57A HAD NO screwed up 49D; 33A AWER screwed up 11D until I realized I needed to use the question mark.

But it was a long slog and was mostly white for a LONG time. (But so was Congress....)

Thanks,. Mr. Deodene. I will be better armed next time we meet.

andrea brel michaels 4:58 PM  

Just saying hi!


Jacques Brel was the only album I took from my grandfather's collection when he died...

I JUST saw my 97 yr old Grandma, Maidie who introduced me to his music and used to croon,
"Cute cute cute in a stupid ass way..."

Easier than yesterday and word for word Rex again! Including CONOCO!
Scary...but in a happy way!

Ohmygod, my party's starting!

Clark 5:01 PM  

@Hazel, @Anonymous Too -- It may not take many keystrokes, to answer, but think game theory. If @Rex responds in this one case (where the questioner didn’t check the answer before asking) he will then be encouraging many others to ask without first checking their answers. A bit of humiliation serves a prophylactic function. (None of us is immune from the occasional mistake, of course, and Rex knows that, so cheer up @XMAN.)

I was close to defeat in the NE, but I had a breakthrough. I had zip for 'Natl. athletics supporter' and just ___BI for 'Literally, "my master".' I was thinking that both answers had to be words I had never heard of and couldn't possibly think of. 90% of the time, when I think that, it turns out to be a word I really should have been able to come up with. So, I chanted "I think I can" a few times (learned from the first book I ever owned, "The Little Engine That Could," given to me by my Great-Great Aunt Kit), USOC and RABBI came to me one after another, and the NE fell.

Clark 5:04 PM  

Oh, and a big hug and round of Happy Birthday to you @andrea libra michaels.

HudsonHawk 5:09 PM  

C'mon, M.C. Rex, you know you've got street cred when you don the hoodie.

Happy birthday, ACME!

jae in Santa Fe 5:44 PM  

Like HudsonHawk I seem to be on the opposite side of Rex for the second day in a row. This was medium-challenging for me while yesterdays went pretty smoothly. NE was tough (started out with SALTS) and SW was tricky as I was iffy on spelling PINOCHLE (2 Cs?) and had trouble seeing HADNT. Very good/enjoyable Sat. challenge.

Happy birthday Andrea!

Anonymous, Too 6:04 PM  

@ Clark

Hmm, okay, good point... but it IS possible just to do a mini-rant and not be mean-spirited @ a particular individual. Other people posted, too, when just a bit of cogitation might have brought the explanation to light.

Look at some of the snarkier posts this week and ask if they really did anything to build a sense of community or to raise the level of discourse... so, just a plea for some restraint when tempted to snap at a hapless solver.

sanfranman59 6:08 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 8:10, 7:03, 1.16, 82%, Challenging
Tue 9:49, 8:38, 1.14, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 12:30, 11:49, 1.06, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 13:05, 18:51, 0.69, 3%, Easy
Fri 29:58, 25:42, 1.17, 85%, Challenging
Sat 34:52, 26:46, 1.30, 97%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:30, 3:45, 1.20, 88%, Challenging
Tue 4:45, 4:25, 1.07, 75%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:50, 5:48, 1.01, 60%, Medium
Thu 6:22, 9:08, 0.70, 2%, Easy
Fri 15:00, 12:03, 1.25, 93%, Challenging
Sat 19:26, 16:32, 1.18, 86%, Challenging

Of the 104 puzzles I've tracked, only 3 have been more challenging for all solvers (relative to the day of the week) than today's.

hazel 6:18 PM  

@Clark - "Isn't it pretty to think so?" Jake, The Sun Also Rises

Regardless, all I was saying was that cake is good for the soul! Noone can argue with that!!

PuzzleGirl 6:23 PM  

If we've learned anything here I think it can be summed up as "One person's gimme is another's WTF?" And I think this can be applied to the comments too. I love the snark. If there was no snark here, I wouldn't enjoy it at all. But I almost never interpret it as mean-spirited, so that's probably the difference.

foodie 6:24 PM  

I'm with the birthday girl in loving Jacques Brel. When you listen to the lyrics, no other french-speaking singer can compare!

OMG, is this what RABBI means? The actual pronunciation must be "Rabbee". In Arabic, Rabbee means "My God". Never knew its origin, but it must mean my master as well, and it diverged to different religious meanings in the two languages. So cool!!!

I made many of the errors described by others, including the colorful HOE... And a unique one-- "Soon to be up": BENT in lieu of NEXT! You know, you can't stay bent for long, sooner or later you gotta stand up

BRNO: If in Brno, visit Mendel and his peas (a patch of sweet peas is still there were he tested his).

Andrea, I hope they're playing Brel at your party!

pauer 6:37 PM  

Happiest of birthdays, dearest ACME. Call when things settle down, won't you?


miriam b 6:43 PM  
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miriam b 6:43 PM  
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miriam b 6:43 PM  
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miriam b 6:49 PM  

As a Tom Lehrer fan, I found ORESTES a gimme. After all,

"There once was a man named Oedipus Rex
You may have heard about his odd complex
His name appears in Freud's index
Cause he loved his mother."

I like Brel, also Aznavour. And Charles Trenet. Happy birthday, Andrea

ArtLvr 7:06 PM  

@ Ulrich -- "I hadn't the gall to respond more forcefully"... (lacked the gall). But I see you got it: I just like the word "gall".

@ Elaine -- I was really happy with BY DINT OF... One of these days it will be brought back from the mothballs. Ol' Geezers and Biddies will love it!

I had one more thought: PINOCHLE isn't a full double-decker, as some cards are left out.. I know, the clue did have a question mark and the answer wasn't hard to see, but it was tricky! Still loved the puzzle.

Stan 7:35 PM  

Somehow I've always preferred the House of Atreus to the House of Thebes. They just seem to have better stories. But as Rex says, it's all a matter of personal taste.

Same with puzzles: I enjoyed yesterday's can of ass-whoop more than today's.

michael 7:51 PM  

I thought this was a really good Saturday puzzle -- challenging but (barely) possible for me. I was surprised when I got it completely right. Stuck for along time with "Allen" instead of "Albee" and "lobster" instead of "bathtub". (Do lobsters even have "feet?" Aren't they called "claws" or "appendages" or something?)

shrub5 9:13 PM  

Re: the birthday cake from yesterday --

If someone made me that cake, I'd be so touched that I'd probably burst into tears. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

Happy, Happy Birthday Mrs. RP

Elaine 9:23 PM  

You know, while I was trying to crank the ole flivver, I was just thinking how long it's been since I played a hand of pinochle.
Well, actually, I've never played a hand of that game, but I accidentally bought a deck of Pinochle cards, and you should have seen the disgusted looks on my kids' faces; they just wanted to play Go Fish!

You have just posed some disturbing questions. Um, well, there are TWO claws...and some pedipalps, and, um...You know, I am not really Up On arthropods. I am allergic, and I just avoid the whole bunch.... and now I am afraid to get in the bathtub.....
with those dreadful CLAWED FEET...Oh, wait! Did you notice the -ED at the end of CLAW?
How wonderful! (cue rainbow and Bluebirds of Grammar!)

See you guys tomorrow!

Clark 10:17 PM  

Oh, @Hazel, we could have had such a damned good time together.

slypett 12:02 AM  

clark: Rex is not called upon to respond to all or any gaffes. That's for openers. Second, humiliation is not salutory. Third, I'd made it clear in my penultimate comment that I was quite embarrassed, but that my life would go on. Address other comments on this matter to my attorney, Dougie Whipsnide.

slypett 12:13 AM  

michael: Lobsters have two claws, which they use for tearing theur prey and fighting, and, Six or eight (funny, after many years of eatin' 'em I don't know) legs. (Whether these legs have 'feet' is a matter of learned debate.)

Aviatrix 12:23 AM  

I did this one this afternoon in a way-too-hot airplane, on my iPod touch. I too GAVEROPE and misfit OEDIPUS. I also wanted to somehow get "nose" in to separate pupils.

I am very familiar with snow fencing. It is usually made of orange plastic that can be rolled up outside of snow season, but communities with serious snowdrift problems might have a steel snow fence. When I was in Baker Lake theirs was the pride of the town.

Martin 12:38 AM  

Lobsters, crabs, shrimp, etc. are decapods. They all have 10 appendages. Subtract two for the claws and lobsters have 8 legs. If you go with a decent sized lobster, 1 3/4 pounds or up, the morsels in those legs are some of the best eating on the whole animal. My wife and I usually get a three-pounder at the market, split it for dinner and have plenty left for lobster salad lunches.

mac 6:06 AM  

@Anonymous 5.19: you have a spoiler in that comment. Please erase! Agree with you. Now I'm going for a real walk in the (Hyde) Park.

FloridaAG 3:54 PM  

The clueing on Rabbi is off in my opinion - by far the most accepted translation of the meaning of Rabbi is "my teacher" not "my master" -

jau 2:05 PM  

Agree with most everything good and bad but would add that HADNT without any indication that it was a contraction or abbreviation just isn't NYT fair. 1D said "brief" and added a question mark, for example.

Also, just for the record, Sunoco is not a BP rival (not even sure if it registers on the radar in the UK) but Conoco is, big time.

MikeInSTL 3:17 PM  

Ugh! I only had one letter wrong -- had AREL crossing ARNO (figured it was just some disguised crosswordese). I always think of Jacques Brel as "Alive and well and living in Paris" (A film which I haven't ever been high enough to apreciate, I think)... Otherwise, it was easy-medium for me. A couple early stumbles were SPACEERA (although that would be a little too, um, unspecific) and GUNSAFE (which would make sense, but the final A on the down didn't look good)...

bigcracks 8:09 AM  
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