Mr. Spock's forte — TUESDAY, Oct. 20 2009 — Leopold's 1920s co-defendant / Dame who's a hoot / Pastry sold at pizzerias

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Constructor: Gary Cee

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: SHIFT GEARS (61A: Make an abrupt change ... and a hint to this puzzle's theme) — consecutive circled squares in each theme answer contain scrambles of the letters in "GEARS"

Word of the Day: CARLA Bruni-Sarkozy (CARLAS = 12D: France's Bruni-Sarkozy and others) — Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (born Carla Gilberta Bruni Tedeschi, 23 December 1967) is an Italian-born, naturalized French songwriter, singer, and former model. She is the wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy whom she married on 2 February 2008. [...] [she] was born in Turin, Italy, and is heiress to the fortune created by the Italian tire manufacturing company CEAT, founded in the 1920s by her grandfather Virginio Bruni Tedeschi.


Must be quick today. Big ho-hum for this puzzle. An uninspired concept that I am virtually certain I've seen before, although I could be confusing this theme with any number of gearshift-related puzzles I've seen over the years. Maybe if the theme answres were snappy, but CHIVAS REGAL is the only real winner here. Thought initially that the theme was going to be olde-tyme comics artists — E.C. SEGAR created "Popeye" and finds himself in the grid a lot, so maybe you had the same initial thought. Maybe not. No matter. Finding out there was no comics theme actually took away from the impact of CHIVAS REGAL. "Oh ... some kind of anagramming ... great."

Theme answers:

17A: View from the Oval Office (Ro SEGAR den)
25A: Premium Scotch whiskey (Chiv ASREG al)
37A: Event featuring sports stars of yesteryear (Old Tim ERSGA me)
52A: Pastry sold at pizzerias (sau SAGER oll)

SAUSAGE ROLL and TOFFEE-covered apples (50D: Chewy coating for an apple) took my wife aback, as these are foods familiar from her NZ childhood that she didn't think we had much here. We have caramel-coated apples (at least that's the more familar coating to me) and that one answer (TOFFEE) gave me more trouble than most. Also balked at STOP AT (33D: Visit while on the road, as a motel). You STAY AT a motel, you don't just STOP. Boo. Also went instinctively with stay-at-home MOM instead of DAD at 23A, and for some reason couldn't dredge up HERALD Square (43A: New York's _____ Square) without considerable help from crosses. That said, the puzzle was still a piece of cake. WEILL was a gimme at 1A: Composer Kurt, and I hardly paused in my writing (yes, did it on paper this time) after that.


  • 15A: Dame who's a hoot (Edna) — went looking for word for female owl. OWLETTA!?
  • 35A: Tandoori-baked bread (naan) — delicious. Our local Wegman's recently put in an Indian food bar alongside the Chinese food bar, and so I'm eating NAAN a lot these days. Too much, maybe.
  • 56A: Safety device eschewed by the Flying Wallendas (net) — bonus points for using "eschewed," which I like but would never use (like another SAT word of my youth, "plethora").
  • 40D: The rest of the U.S., to Hawaiians (mainland) — what is up with all the Hawaii stuff lately? I know it's the 50th anniversary of their statehood this year, but I'll be happy when we're in year 51 and the puzzle goes back to, you know, NENEs and other basic stuff. Let's Remarginalize Hawaii! Who's with me!? (Dear Hawaiians, I'm only kidding — when you inevitably go to war with Alaska over the rights to the title "Best Non-Contiguous State in the U.S.," I am totally going to support you guys)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]



If you hate crossword puzzles so much, why don't you just stop doing them?

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

Ditto on stay at home MOM for 23A and STAY AT not STOP AT for 33D.

yes, a lot on Hawaii lately ... a veritable plethora. But anyway, in the upcoming war for Best Non-Contiguous State in the U.S. for the record I am going to go w/Alaska.

joho 8:31 AM  

@Rex ... definitely agree with you about the theme. I, too, thought cartoons when I saw SEGAR. And since SAGER is a word I was looking for the others to be words, but no. If you take the first letter of each theme answer you can spell out SASE! Hey, I was trying to find ways to entertain myself.

I don't agree with your comment about STOPAT. I think it works because when you stay at a motel you have to be driving something to get there, therefore a car would have to stop for you to stay.

Nice shout out to ORANGE!

Now I think I'll take a stroll through my ROSEGARDEN, savory SAUSAGEROLL in one hand, CHIVASREGAL neat in the other.

treedweller 8:37 AM  

A quick solve marred by not checking the crosses; I put in "classy" for CLASSA and it took a full two minutes to find the mistake. Otherwise, this took just slightly longer than yesterday.

I was one who thought SEGAR was the beginning of a name theme of some kind. I thought the lame circled anagrams were redeemed slightly when I got to the revealer. Very slightly.

Jeffrey 8:43 AM  

What is it with Tuesday? Do puzzle quickly, forget puzzle. Wait for Wednesday.

chefbea 8:50 AM  

I too thought all the circled letters would spell different names.

Loved the C&H sugar commercials..I remember them well.

Didn't like Doc for the Holiday clue

And finally... I'll take Dewers with a splash

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

If there is going to be a war today, I think it will be fought over STayAT & STOPAT.

While @joho has a point, IMHO you STOPAT an attraction, like the 2nd largest ball of twine in 'National Lampoon's Vacation', but you STayAT a motel.

One other quibble - I hesitated to put in NIP off the clue 'Sip from a flask', because I did not think the answer would share 2 of 3 letter with a word in the clue.

Otherwise an okay puzzle, nothing special - but what do you want from Tuesday.


Van55 9:05 AM  

Pretty bland, but no Roman numeral and no compass direction redeem this one. Fine light fare.

deerfencer 9:07 AM  

J'agree with Rex--big "meh" to this one--it just about put me back to sleep.

Thanks for the Carla Bruni video--it helped wake me back up ;-)

Jim in Chicago 9:07 AM  


We love crosswords, we just dislike ones that don't sing, sort of like this one. By the time I was finished I didn't care enough to go back to sort out the theme. Just didn't care.

The clue of CHIVAS REGAL is wrong in so many ways. First, it is a "self-proclaimed" premium beverage (it says so right on the label.) Second, it is disdained by true Whisky lovers as a blend, and not an especially good one at that. Finally, the clue is SPELLED wrong, look at the label in the blog - the word is WHISKY - without an "e". So, the only way to accept this clue as valid would be to think the author meant to quote from the label, but that's not correct since the clue is then spelled incorrectly.

Here in the midwest we eat Taffy apples not Toffee, and indeed we mostly eat "affy tapples", a certain brand.

The Corgi of Mystery 9:09 AM  

Agree with Rex on the most part; I do like puzzles that end with a Z though. Also: broke 3 minutes on a Tuesday for the first time today. Whee!

CoolPapaD 9:17 AM  

Well, I liked it! What's not to enjoy? Solid Tuesday, with the exception of the playground retort (this also applies to many adults in the real world, by the way!). ASSTDA was just in a puz I did recently - can't remember if it was here. Good day, all!

Glitch 9:20 AM  


I felt better about DOC when I noticed the clue was HoLLiday :)


Orange 9:21 AM  

LOL @Daniel.

@Jim in Chicago, I miss the Affy Tapple factory on North Clark. (The NYT style guide mandates the Irish-with-an-E spelling "whiskey," even for Scotch whisky. A Food & Drink section article about whisky will spell it whiskey.)

@Rex & Sandy, I need to hear more about these toffee apples in New Zealand. Is there crunch? Are there almonds? Is the toffee buttery and delicious and remarkably toffeeish? Do they still sell them there? I may have to take a very long flight to investigate this.

@Rex, there is no such thing as too much NAAN. Is bread not the staff of life?

ArtLvr 9:41 AM  

The law is that you can't spell it "whiskey" unless it's made in Scotland! Otherwise, an okay puzzle.


Denise 9:41 AM  

Never heard of C & H Sugar. Were there child labor laws in Hawaii?

Made the CLASSY/CLASSA error.

Other than that, . . .

Shifting the letters of GEARS just creates an odd assortment of letters.

retired_chemist 9:55 AM  

My favorite part was Rex's writeup today. Puzzle - meh.

Second favorite was 35A NAAN. Oh, wait, that was a fun part of the writeup. Almost went to get Indian food for lunch yesterday - non-puzzle wife, who hates it, was busy, which provided the opportunity. Closest decent Indian restaurant is 25 miles away, so I didn't. Must make the trek soon...

Stan 10:01 AM  

I liked the "15 minutes of fame" clue. Applies to *so* many celebs.

Karen from the Cape 10:06 AM  

I'm on the STOP AT side. (Is this a regionalism? Today put me on the southeastern side of the country.) I would STOP AT a motel rather than drive all night.

slypett 10:07 AM  

After I finished and remembered there were circles, I racked my brain for a full thirty seconds before I gave into the joys of a random scramble. After all, we're the product of zillenia of random mutations, so why shouldn't our entertainments be so also?

Martin 10:11 AM  


Remember, Will Shortz's clues must answer to a higher authority.

chefbea 10:14 AM  

@Glitch thanks. Never saw the 2 Ls

Bob Kerfuffle 10:20 AM  

I thought this was decent for a Tuesday puzzle, even if the theme was somewhat familiar. Looking on the bright side, all the theme scrambles spanned two words. And we have a classic confrontation at 49 A (CAT) and 38 D (MICE)!

The first two, ... or three, ... or four C&H commercials were fun, but six minutes is a long way to go, mainly, I assume, for the confirmation (at about 4:30) of "shave ice".

JannieB 10:22 AM  

@Stan - I also loved the "15 minutes" clue. When the new cast of "The Celebrity Apprentice" was announced, someone commented that the definition of "celebrity" is now "mammal". Cracked me up.

The write-up was more fun than the puzzle which lacks originality and sparkle. That's what I like - regardless of the day of the week.

JannieB 10:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Two Ponies 10:38 AM  

Puzzle was just OK.
My word of the day was in a clue.
I don't know what a busby hat looks like.
Hadn't thought about blotter acid in awhile. Remember the ones printed with Mr. Natural?
If it isn't Emo Phillips I don't know emo at all.
Van55 - good point and certainly a redeeming factor.
Jim in Chicago - ditto on the apples and agree that Chivas is neither Class A nor a premium.
I'm with chefbea, make mine a Dewers!

dk 10:42 AM  

DOC Holliday had a rule: He never sat with his back to the door. The one time he did he was shot in the back and killed.

Come on this puzzle is just fine. Setting aside the fill in the circles and unscramble the letters part, the fill and clues were solid Tuesday fare.

The boy band's (thank you again sethg) working name is KENKEN and the Kastrati (it is a hollow weenie costume after all).

foodie 10:49 AM  

CARLA Bruni is beautiful. But can she sing? I literally couldn't finish listening to the clip that Rex posted... Maybe it's just me.

Naan and other flat breads are wonderful, especially when fresh out of the oven. One of my first childhood memories is watching the baking and then smelling and tasting freshly made flat bread. I think it made me love good food for the rest of my life-- too much, maybe (to quote Rex).

Bill from NJ 10:56 AM  


I think you mean Wild Bill Hickock who was shot in Deadwood. Doc Holliday died in a Colorado sanitarium of TB.

imsdave 10:57 AM  

The Macallan, straight up, preferably in a brandy snifter.

Oh yes, about the puzzle:

archaeoprof 11:09 AM  

Another stay-at-home mom here.

Plus another "Chivas Regal is a premium scotch?"

@Bill in NJ: wasn't Val Kilmer a perfect Doc Holliday in "Tombstone"?

Hobbyist 11:13 AM  

Well, at least Uncle Fester made an appearance in honor of the death of Vic Mizzy who created the opening number for his show.
Pretty snappy timing.

Two Ponies 11:18 AM  

This thing about spelling whisky or whiskey got me curious.
A brief scan of the liquor cabinet tells me that Dahlwhinnie, Macallan, Oban, and Johnnie Walker all are spelled with no E.
(Yes, we love our Scotch around here.)

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Boy, the reward must have all been for the constructor.

Hidden anagrams of gears isn't much for the fan.

Bill from NJ 11:24 AM  


I loved it when Kilmer said "I'm your huckleberry." Great work!

Glitch 11:30 AM  

@Two Ponies

More insight into your "nom de blog"?

shot glass: a small glass adequate to hold a single swallow of whiskey.

.../Glitch :)

PlantieBea 11:38 AM  

Okay Tuesday. I too went with stay-at-home MOM. Funny about Hawaii, again. Loved the old sugar adds; nasty crop, that sugar cane. My son wants to take a trip to Hawaii, not to see volcanos or to surf, but to go to a paper making class (Origamido). I don't think I've ever seen a sausage roll; was thinking of a pizza dough. Off to tend to my black bean/tomatillo soup.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

NZ toffee apples are bright red in colour and are hard and crunchy with no almonds or anything extraneous. I have never seen sausage rolls sold in a pizzeria?

And all Scottish whiskies are spelt without the "e" and Chivas Regal would not be considered a whisky by real Scotch enthusiasts (my late husband being one), no ice, no water, straight up. Oh and can we please spell Dewars whisky with an "a" not Dewers. Thanks

Jim in Chicago 12:04 PM  

Does the NYTimes style sheet extend to exact quotations? My reading Chivas clue led me to believe that the words were pulled directly from the label (despite the lack of quotes) since it is word for word exactly the same (except for the 'e', of course.)

Rebecca Soble 12:14 PM  

@Rex: Which is your local Wegman's? Or is that TMI? Ours is Canandaigua NY. I don't think we have an Indian Bar yet, but now I want one!

mccoll 12:18 PM  

Easy and OK for a Tuesday, but it inspired a "So....?"

@Two Ponies A busby is tall black hat worn by the Palace Guard. They are traditionally made of black bear fur.
I once was an expert on whiskeys- mostly on the drinking of them. There is a tremendous difference between a blended whiskey like Chivas and the single malts favoured by many Scots. These are made in small batches in Scotland and Ambrosial is not an over statement.
Also, most "12 year old" blends have only a small amount of 12 year old scotch in them, the rest was made last week.

retired_chemist 12:23 PM  

Whiskey, whisky, - To e or not to e? only the NYT editoral staff knows for sure....

I am reminded of the story of the New York Herald's editorial policy to put the Herald in italics whenever it appeared in a news article. Sure enough, one Christmas a sentence something like the following appeared:

The carolers began their concert with "Hark, the Herald Angels sing."

Steve J 12:30 PM  

Typical practice is that American and Irish whiskey is spelled with the "e", while Scottish whisky is definitely not. The Canadians also tend to spell it without the "e". Although there are variations to those trends (i.e., there are some bourbons spelled without the "e").

However, I've never seen a Scotch whisky spelled with an "e". Yes, the NYT has a style guide (which does some things wrong, such as using apostrophes to pluralize acronyms), but good editors should know that sometimes you have to break it in order to provide understanding. For people like me who are big fans of whisk(e)y, a little detail like that can thrown us off in the wrong direction.

DeptofRedundancyDept 12:39 PM  

Hey - Anyone know what's up with the "e" in Whisk(e)y?

Two Ponies 12:45 PM  

@ Glitch, Good one! Not a bad guess but that refers to a different hobby.
@ Mccoll, Thanks for the busby info. And now I know why I don't like blends. The J. Walker is only around for a friend who likes it and his DewArs.

Martin 12:45 PM  


As you can see from the slings and arrows poor Eric Asimov was forced to take by the Style Guide Police, consistency trumps all at the Gray Lady even if it is clearly wrongheaded in the eyes of most of the English-speaking world. From the perspective of the Manual, "whisky" is a foreign spelling and has no more right to be in an American newspaper than "flavour." Thus, the OED editor is dismissed as speaking to non-American usage. Imagine Asimov's frustration! And probably Shortz's.

Could Will have gotten away with [Its label says "PREMIUM SCOTCH WHISKY"] as the clue? Possibly. Would it have been a better clue from any perspective than properly spelling "whiskey"? Could the astute solver complain that the wording, clearly used to allow the "foreign" spelling that the Times would not normally allow, signals a Gaelic answer? Since "Chivas" is an anglicization of the gaelic word "seamhas" (narrow place) and "Regal" is English with Latin root, that could be called an error in itself. Sadly, there is no signal for "clue constructed to circumvent the Manual of Style and Usage." Sometimes even a good editor is between a rock and a hard place.

Unknown 1:33 PM  

What is a Nodoz?

sanfranman59 2:00 PM  

@Jess ... caffeine tablets

chefwen 2:00 PM  

@Jess - A brand of OTC drug to help you stay awake.

DAD over mom - hand up.

Speaking of spelling, saw someone on the news last night holding up a sign saying "we must protect our boarders" had to back it up a couple of times to make sure I was seeing it right. Are we protecting people who wear board shorts or carpenters? Pretty funny.

Liked the puzzle O.K. but pretty easy, looking forward to tonights.

mac 2:01 PM  

Yes, I also thought the theme would be about cartoon names after finding "Segar", but that was put straight at Asreg. After that I didn't care much anymore. I was more bothered by the thou, deps, orig, lt.gen and Ath.

I know very little about toffee or taffee apples, but sausage rolls are popular in Holland all year round, and in England a friend always makes a batch at Christmas time.

Last Friday we went to an Indian wedding celebration, where the naan was not as good as it usually is; I think Foodie is right, it has to be straight out of the oven. (She's also right about Carla Bruni, very light pop voice).

We seem to use that Andy Warhol term about 15 minutes of fame a lot when we watch the news....

Charles Bogle 2:03 PM  

Rex's "ho-hum" conclusion and janniB's "lacking originality and sparkle" work for me as assessments. Liked: TUSSLE, STRATA. But heinous Bobby LOEB seems to be cropping up a lot...when I finished I honestly had no interest in looking at what the circles might mean...personally; for second day in a row, the LAT puzzle was much more satisfying and enjoyable

Meg 2:34 PM  

The only thing I got out of this puzzle was the five-minute conversation I had with myself about whether it's "Your 15 minutes ARE up" or "Your 15 minutes IS up." I decided that grammarians have made too many rules.

Without the circles and the hint at 61A, this could have been more interesting....trying to figure out the common element.

But it's early in the week and we have to keep it obvious.

Was I the only one who tried ITS A DATE in error?

bluebell 2:39 PM  

I've eaten naan and like it very much, but can never remember how to spell it. Had Naam and therefore missed orange. Also had arel for orel and therefore totally blew Doc which I should have known. D'oh!

Most of my generation at college pulled their all-nighters with the help of Nodoz.

mac 2:48 PM  

I forgot the Asst.D.A.

I love "Fester" and am happy it was clued the way it was. "Europe" as an answer to "Chunnel's home" is like saying Lake Erie is in the USA.

George NYC 3:01 PM  

I'm waiting for the NY Times to print a story about the Toronto Maple Leaves.

Susan 3:13 PM  

@Meg, I had IT'S A DATE too.

Any puzzle with whisk(e)y in it is ok by me.

sanfranman59 3:49 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)

Tue 7:47, 8:35, 0.91, 28%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:09, 4:25, 0.94, 35%, Easy-Medium

@Meg ... I'm in the ITSADATE camp. I also had classy for CLASSA at first.

@Jim in Chicago ... This is one Midwestern boy (born and bred Buckeye) who had never heard of TOFFEE apples (or taffy apples/affy tapples) until last evening/today. Perhaps it's a Chicagoland term?

Clark 3:57 PM  

Hands up for STOP AT. When I was a kid we used to pile into the station wagon and move about the country. My dad would have a million reasons for not stopping. (Mostly I think he wanted to get more miles travelled today so there'd be fewer to travel tomorrow.) Visiting a motel was always about "C'mon, dad, can we STOP AT this one?!"

Anonymous 4:06 PM  

Thanks to Mr. Cee for introducing me to Dame Edna. I checked her out on Wikipedia--she really is a hoot!


Mike Lewis 4:15 PM  

Record time for a Tuesday for me. I would have preferred this puzzle if the circles had been omitted; I know it's early in the week, but we don't need quite that much hand-holding.

As a former stay-at-home DAD myself, I left that one until I had a cross.

We had a "fall festival" (read: Halloween party) with our church group last weekend, where a sign proclaimed that "carmel apples" were offered. I asked my wife if she thought the apples had the caramel put on before or after they made the trip from California. So when I hit the six-letter 50D, I thought that maybe carmel was an accepted spelling after all, and I was not only being a dbag, but a dbag that was wrong!!!

Imagine my relief to find that, nope, I'm an accurate dbag.

SethG 4:43 PM  

Rex, I was...delayed. Dadaing to, and it'll be off da hook. Sorry.

Naan can be nan. Weill is a medical center. A rose is a rose, is in a rose garden, and every one has its thorn. Europe is The Final Countdown. Miso sounds like 2 Live Crew, but it's not.


mac, or CANADA. Maybe Lake Michigan. dk, I'm gonna go with "G-Town".

Stan 5:20 PM  

@JannieB; Funny quote. You're invited to serve with me on the "Your 15 Minutes Are Up!" Panel. ("Jon and Kate, it's been wonderful but now it's over.")

Elaine 5:42 PM  

I did this one around 4 a.m., then went on with the day...Just now visiting the Comments.

Hand up for MOM instead of DAD, at least til I started the down clues...and I wanted PAPAYA instead of ORANGE, because I read the clue as "Tropic fruit"...Well, it was early.
I had AWOKE for 31A, and since I didn't know the Munsters or the Sarkozys I had my own personal Natick going with Uncle FESTEW and CARLAK...finally corrected.

Hand up for STOP IN...and also for a puzzle rating of "Meh," since I had no interest in random non-anagrams of GEARS. Enjoyed the write-up and the Comments, though!

Elaine 5:47 PM  

What the heck-- I'll leave another Comment.

I meant to say "Tropical fruit"...which was my mis-reading of "Tropicana fruit"....

And C&H sugar--California and Hawaiian...because there were NO refineries in Hawaii. The cane was grown and processed up to a point--large golden-brown crystals--and then shipped to the Mainland for refining into white, white, white sugar. I am not sure how much sugar cane (or pineapple) cultivation still occurs in Hawaii, but when I lived there I loved seeing the different greens of the plantations on the distant hills.

foodie 5:58 PM  

Re the STOPAT war, I agree with @Joho and @Clark that STOP AT has this unplanned sense that people who take long road trips would recognize. Driving from the West Coast to Michigan, we stopped at practically every Residence Inn we saw (we like their kitchens... It's all about food : )

@ sethg and mac, I feel that Great Britain barely classifies itself as European, so the clue was particularly unsatisfying-- the point of the Chunnel is to link GB to Continental Europe...

mac 6:14 PM  

@SethG: I thought of using Canada and one of its straits, but it is so huge that I was afraid I was going to be called on it...
I did want to use a body of water, though. You're absolutely right, Lake Michigan would have been better, or my first idea, the Erie Canal.

@Foodie: I think most Europeans think of Great Britain as part of Europe (it's on the European plateau, after all), but it's the English who always talk about the rest of Europe as a separate entity, The Continent.

dk 6:40 PM  

@Bill from NJ, dk has a rule always fact check before you post and the one time....

I stand corrected.

slypett 6:40 PM  

foodie: The Brits would say it's the other way 'round! Remember the great Times (I believe) headline of many years ago: Heavy Fog. Continent Isolated?

Meg: If you hyphenate 15 minutes (15-minutes), you create a singular noun. No way to distinguish it in speech though.

Anonymous 6:45 PM  

Only one comment about the LSD clue? Either this group isn't as hip as I thought or you're too afraid to admit experimenting in the past. Sugar cubes are more stereotypical but blotter paper was more durable and less obvious. Those were the days.....
T. Leary

K Kesey 7:01 PM  

@Timmy L - Or maybe it just went without saying. Miss seeing you Dude

Glitch 7:04 PM  

@Mac & @Sethg

If you are going to use Lake Erie, its probably better as "Lake Erie: North America as Chunnel:Europe", at least both the latter are continents.

Then there is the Sault Sainte Marie Canals ;)


While traveling, I may STOP AT many places for a VISIT, including the fleabag I may eventually "stay at" overnight.

Operative word = VISIT

@Anon 6:45p (T. Leary)

…or, it was as much as a “given” as 71A, nothing special.

As to whisk(e)y, off to uncork some wine to salute the day this blog returned to [primarily] discussing the puzzle!


PS: That last comment is meant as a tribute to the puzzle, not a criticism of the scintillating comments of the last few days :)

Anonymous 7:30 PM  

Ken, What are you talking about man?
I'm standing right next to you.
Dr. Tim

retired_chemist 7:33 PM  

@ Glitch - I would join you in happy hour, but I have a sleep study tonight which means I can't drink.

Bill from NJ 7:43 PM  


That is a road well travelled, sir, one I have found myself on before.

The one time . . .

Ain't it the truth.

Sfingi 8:57 PM  

@Daniel - bend over for your bamboo lashing.

Love that video. Never heard of C&H, but, the answer to Why Hawaii? is Obama.
I remember taking the subway in the '60s (pre-graffiti, straw seats) with little kids fresh from the South sucking on sugar cane.

@Bluebell - my generation used something else, before they called it meth. One night = 3 credits in economics. Sho wuz nice.

@Icculus - Mount Carmel is a place in the Holy Land with religious connections. Many US churches named Our Lady of.

@Elaine - thanx for California and Hawaii. Bofum.
@ McColl- thanx for busby.
GOTTA learn something everyday.

Tim and Ken - No offense, but thought you were dead. Or was I tripping? As Einstein said, there's no such thing as time.

Double Dewars on the rocks. As a kid, thought it was double doers (extra-maritals) who were getting divorced. Mine was a non-drinking family, so I was a booze idiot. Also, check out the 2 plurals of whiskeys/whiskies in (haha) Wiki. Whisky is apparently Gaelic for aquavita or water of life. So, how to spell a Gaelic word?

Though I got the theme items, and saw the clue, I never got past thinking Popeye. My theme blindness. At first, had hassle for 13D TUSSLE and Esau for 16A EZRA. And stopat for the before-mentioned STAYAT. Speeding on my part.

Finally, sausage roll is not a pastry - the dough hasn't enough fat and no sugar. But, sho iz nice.
Give me a hit of that.

Miss L 9:08 PM  

The whole stay at home dad thing is so pukey politically correct but what can you expect from a turd of a newspaper like the Times.

fergus 9:41 PM  

Most partial to Lagavullin, and the other smokey Islay malts. Saw a single malt from New Zealand the other day while recreationally shopping. Do they have peat bogs down there?

sanfranman59 10:08 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 6:21, 7:00, 0.91, 27%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:56, 8:36, 0.92, 31%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:25, 3:44, 0.91, 26%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:07, 4:24, 0.93, 34%, Easy-Medium

fergus 11:30 PM  

How much would I like to have Ms Green Mantis commenting again? A lot. Been texting with her just recently, and while we didn't even touch upon Xwords, I sense that she could be drawn back into play on this blog. I know she has many other adherents who appreciate the writing style, so as long as this missive isn't overkill, I hope we get her public voice back.

fergus 12:05 AM  

I tried LSD once when I was 17 and it was brilliant. Not in a sugar cube, nor on a piece of blotter paper, nor that supposed window pane delivery by the eye. Yikes. We've been through all that acid trip on this blog before -- thankfully mine was a magical completion of the curiosity I harboured in 1975. Not to be square or anything now, I'm still open to Ecstasy, given appropriate circumstances. That's probably passe by now ...

slypett 12:29 AM  

Sfingi: I grew up on those woven seats. I rode in the last of the old cars as late as the late 70s on the LL, which was (maybe still is) a BMT-line train that runs from Union Square into the bowels of Brooklyn. Compared with today's sterile rolling-stock, those were models of comfort and representative of a certain lost civility.

Fergus: Speaking of Islays, I had a yenning for Laphroig (peaty, rich, delicious), back when prices were reasonable. Now it's $50/bottle.

foodie 12:44 AM  

@sanfranman, I was thinking about your concern that easy puzzles early in the week hit a floor effect, and you cannot tell easy from easy/medium. I understand the issue and your desire to keep things simple by avoiding additional measures like variance.

In watching the results of the online solvers, I think a key indicator is the number of people who can solve at incredibly high speeds. So, Orange might be in the 2-3 minute range until thursday, but few others are. The medians creep up because fewer and fewer people can approach those high speeds as the week progresses. So, in the end, I think this reflects the difficulty level and is rendered nicely by the median measure you've chosen. It all works out! I don't think there's any cause for concern, unless you get a hundred people who can all hit the 2 minute mark.

fergus 1:00 AM  

Xman, now I have a yearning, too. As a pretty direct Scottish person the yen for the (water of life in the Gaelic) arises. The origins of the term are so clouded. I don't really care about the spelling -- I care about the finesse in the taste that leads to a profound reflection.

fergus 1:35 AM  

... which comes from the odd chemicals percolating from the bog

mac 7:39 PM  

HAH: this morning I thought you ended with "the blog"

Tim 1:36 PM  

We have an old C&H refinery up the road from me in the Bay Area. But as someone who's spent time with the locals in Hawaii, I have to ask: where did they get the kids in those ads? I've never heard a kama'aina speak without a very strong accent. Kudos on the lip-syncing!

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

Boring Tuesday Hawaii Trifles:
It's the only state where coffee can be grown.
It's the only state with the Union Jack as part of its state flag.

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