THURSDAY, Oct. 15 2009 — Early tower locale / Relative of a husk / English princess after whom Virginia county named

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Constructor: Victor Fleming

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: HAWAII (43D: Theme of this puzzle)

Word of the Day: 'IOLANI PALACE (34A: With 36-Across, only official residence of a reigning monarch now in the United States) — ʻIolani Palace, situated in the capitol district of downtown Honolulu in the U.S. state of Hawaiʻi, is the only royal palace used as an official residence by a reigning monarch in the United States and is a National Historic Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Two monarchs governed from ʻIolani Palace: King David Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani. After the monarchy was overthrown in 1893, the building was used as the capitol building for the Provisional Government, Republic, Territory, and State of Hawaiʻi until 1969. The palace was opened to the public as a museum in 1978.


No time to write this morning. Overslept. Must take daughter to school, prep for classes.

Haven't disliked a puzzle this much in a loooong time, so it's just as well I have not time to dwell on it. A bunch of random !@#@ about HAWAII. How Does This Qualify As A Valid Theme??? Ugh. I guess more than a month has gone by since BARACK OBAMA has been in the grid, so something had to be done.

Found this one relatively easy EXCEPT — I had never heard of either 'IONLANI PALACE or the ALDENS, so total personal NATICK moment for me at that "L" — two unknown proper nouns crossing at a place where many letters seem possible = a total guess. I have a feeling the whole world knows the ALDENS, as I have always been particularly averse to Mayflower history, for whatever reason, but some people love it, and Lots of people probably had to learn about it in grade school. Missed me entirely. I had ASTINS for 31D: Priscilla and John. I was at least half right.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Entertainer born 12/1/45 in 25-Across (Bette Midler)
  • 25A: Capital whose name means "sheltered bay" (Honolulu)
  • 34A: With 36-Across, only official residence of a reigning monarch now in the United States
  • 44A: Measured base to peak, the world's tallest mountain (Mauna Kea)
  • 54A: Politician born 8/4/61 in 25-Across (Barack Obama)

Lots of less-than-great fill today, like PCPS (really, in the plural?? 49A: Some hallucinogens, for short), DEAR ANN (38D: Start of a letter to Landers), GINNED (60A: Went out, in a card game), SEAMED (42D: Like pant legs). Grumpiness at the theme is making me see non-theme fill less generously than I otherwise might have. Not that fond of ABLOOM (8D: More than budding), or SONDRA, whom I know only from "Bronco Billy" and other and whatever else she did when she was with Eastwood, and who spells her name weird (37A: Actress Locke of "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter"). No idea who princess AMELIA is or why the county in Virginia is important, but she wasn't too hard to bring down (2D: English princess after whom a Virginia county is named). Just not a lot to rave about today. Premise of the puzzle is loose and weak, and the non-theme fill is OK at best.


  • 59A: Barrett of the original Pink Floyd (Syd) — important, as there are not too many SYDS in the world and sometimes you get in a tight spot and need one to fill your grid.
  • 16A: Post-shot syllable? (hic) — that's sort of cute.
  • 46A: Los Angeles fossil site (La Brea) — LA BREA tar pits = gimme.
  • 52A: One talking in a forest, maybe (macaw) — the ones in the forest talk? I thought just the tame ones you trained to talk could do that.
  • 11D: Innocent-looking (cherubic) — CHERUBIC is a nice word. Perhaps the nicest word in the grid.
  • 13D: German warning (Achtung) — I know this word only from the 1990s U2 album "ACHTUNG Baby"

  • 29D: Year Caligula was assassinated (XLI) — your random Roman numeral of the day.
  • 48D: Early tower locale (Babel) — once again, the Bible is clued as historical fact. I like the clue, but it feels like, technically, there should be "According to Genesis" somewhere in it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Greene 8:24 AM  

WANTED: Thursday NYT crossword puzzle for longterm platonic relationship. Must be challenging and mentally stimulating, preferably with a rebus. Clever wordplay a plus. Lame-themed entries (i.e. random facts about Hawaii) and arcane fill need not apply.

Oh, Thursday puzzle wherefor art thou?

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

Agree on NATICK of ALDENS/IOLANI. I guessed AuDENS/IOuLANI, and thought it a reasoable possibility for a Hawaiian word.

Quick start at 54A. My 6 year old thought my birthday was only 1 day different from the President, but when I checked I realized we are a year and a day apart. 5A was another gimme for a Jet fan who can actually remember their one moment of glory.

Strange feeling to be older than the President - I guess it had to happen eventually, as long as I kept up my end of the bargain.


Jeffrey 8:32 AM  

Too easy for a Thursday. I have no problem with the theme.

BFKAHT 8:39 AM  

My guess was ArDENS/IOrLANI. I'm guessing we're going to hear of approximately 20 different guesses here today.

ArtLvr 8:41 AM  

Nice one, Greene. You and Rex have ONEUPPED us all....


Sara 8:44 AM  

SONDRA and Davenport?

Alex S. 8:51 AM  

I like trivia themes so I'd have been fine with it. Even if I didn't once live in Hawai'i making every theme item other than Bette Midler a gimme.

So I don't know if I lucked into it being a really easy Thursday or if it was anyway.

PlantieBea 8:58 AM  

Puzzle saved by hints of U2 and Pink Floyd in each corner. And I managed to plunk in the correct letter for the IOLANI/ALDENS crossing. This Thursday seems not to belong in the same group as the rest of this week's offerings.

Danny Williams 8:58 AM  

Stamp to celebrate 50th year of Statehood

Dough 8:59 AM  

Wasn't thrilled with this one. Agree that "Cherubic" is a beautiful word in a puzzle. I am aghast that so many here don't know John Alden. It's not only history (how I know him) but also Disney (how it seems everyone else knows anything else). Ah well. I don't think you can consider something you *should know* as a natick. IMHO. That should be reserved for crossings of things you really have no reason to know.

hazel 9:13 AM  

I liked learning random facts about Hawaii, which is an aswesome place to visit, esp. Kuaui - where we plan to hold my 50th birthday party in a few years, knock wood.

The puzzle seemed to have its own unique brand of symmetry, which I also liked. It did skew on the easy side, based on my own Thursday averages, but that didn't take away from my pleasure in solving it.

I find it somewhat charming that so many puzzle constructors want to honor our president. Has a reigning president ever been so honored with as many puzzle mentions?

joho 9:15 AM  

My favorite parts of the puzzle were CHERUBIC and ACHTUNG!

Did not like the theme. Especially did not like AWEEK and SEAMED.

@Fikink ... I don't know where you live in Iowa but IOWACITY should still be a shout out to you!

Elaine 9:27 AM  

Hmm, well, I rated this EASY. In my mind's eye I can see the 9th grade Lit textbook with a long poem (Longfellow?): "The Courtship of Miles Standish"--self-regarding captain sends his underling John Alden to plead his case with the lovely Priscilla, who famously replies, "Speak for yourself, John." A basic of American literature, in other words, and probably a gimme to others here.

I was in 6th grade at Wheeler AFB (Oahu) on the day Hawaii was voted statehood, and the next year the statehood ceremony was held on the grounds of Iolani Palace (which was already a museum.) The artillery officer in charge of the 50-gun salute was my dad. In episodes of "Hawaii 5-0" you can see the grounds were paved over and many rooms converted to offices (a travesty that was possibly corrected later?)

Well, that's my trivia contribution for the day...and I learned that Bette Midler was born in Honolulu! Hoping for a challenging Friday....

dk 9:35 AM  

When you work on a puzzle is it known as asolving, asked dk CHREUBICly?

Pre-lovely wife I would spend a couple of weeks every year with an old flame (MAUNAKEA) in Pahoa making the HAWAII theme a trip down fond memory lane.

We all know Jersey Joe and the divine Ms. M.

I liked BABEL (APTLY) and GINNED, SEAMED not so much.

LODI reminded me of the CCR Stuck in LODI again so here it is:

Overall I thought the puzzle was easy for a Thursday. Early on I looked for a rebus thinking MAKEHAY maybe makehapPEN with pen being the hidden word, etc.

Whoops starting to BABEL.

MikeM 9:35 AM  

@Elaine - Yes I always took Bette to be a Brooklyn gal. She's dynamite. THE only time I ever shed a tear watching TV was when she was the last guest on Johnny Carsons' Tonight show and performed "One For My Baby (And One More For the Road)"

@PlantieBea, also shades of CCR in another corner, 61A.

I wonder how many terms it'll take me to learn it's BARACK and not BARACH.

Cheers all,

duaneu 9:39 AM  

Never been to Hawaii, but learned about Iolani Palace from watching old episodes of Hawaii Five-O...filled it in without any crosses.

HudsonHawk 10:02 AM  

I thought about dropping in ArDEN, but ALDEN seemed better, especially considering R isn't one of the eight Hawaiian consonants (those are H, K, L, M, N, P, W, and 'okina).

foodie 10:05 AM  

I thought it was easy and I liked it, maybe for the same simple-minded reason: I love Hawaii!. But I understand the point that it seems like a random theme, unless it was aimed to air either on the occasion of the state anniversary or the President's birthday.

Susan 10:06 AM  

I knew the Aldens not from history, not from grade school, not even from Disney. I knew them from The Brady Bunch. Alas.

I thought the clue for GINNED was off and old-fashioned. The expression "to gin up" came back into vogue a few years ago, as in "FBI Pressured to Gin Up Iraq-al-Qaeda Links" and now it's used all the time. I find it a colorful, if now overused term for "exaggerate."

Susan 10:07 AM  

Oh, I didn't know IOLANI without the crosses, but I knew what the clue was referring to because of, say it with me, The Brady Bunch.

slypett 10:08 AM  

It wasn't quite the spider in a corner that Rex saw, but it wasn't very good (especially themewise), and it was easy.

Half the country is west of Davenport.

hazel: If nothing else, Obama is vowel-happy.

The Hawai'ian monarchy was overthrown with the help of the U.S. Marines, who were conveniently stationed offshore. The insurrection was fomented by haole businessmen.

fikink 10:19 AM  

@joho, Indeed, IOWA CITY was what redeemed the puzzle for me. My alma mater, My Redeemer. Don't know who the hell else would care what is west of Davenport.

@Greene, clever and true. Would rather have read a boatload of your bogus ads than done this puzzle this morning. Feh!

On to Friday.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

Two Naticks for me: "Actress Locke" was a complete unknown, as was the first letter in the Hawaiian royal palace; those put "Priscilla and John" and "west of Davenport" up for grabs. I decided that Pris and John might as well be ALIENS, and I elected "K" as most-popular Hawaiian consonant.

edith b 10:34 AM  

I may be showing my age but I learned all about John and Priscilla Alden at the same time I learned about George "I cannot tell a lie" Washington and his cherry tree: in the 2nd grade in what I like to call the Myth of Early Americana or History Class.

Later I think they stopped presenting the Mayflower legend to gullible school children and may be why Rex missed it. Like Elaine, I remember the Longfellow poem.

And Like Rex, I do not believe that miscellaneous facts about Hawaii a theme makes. Thank you, Greene, for artriculating all one needs to say about this one.

CoolPapaD 10:35 AM  

C,mon, Rex! This was a fun puzzle. Everyone learned a few things they didn't know, little in the way of crap fill, and a few near-Naticky areas.

Anyone else fall into the Mauna Loa trap?? I know you did!

@hazel - Can't wait for your party! It's my favorite spot on earth!

Ulrich 10:46 AM  

@Hazel: I spent a glorious week in Kauai a few years ago and can only applaud your choice. That was also the occasion when I learned that Hawaiian had no r, which helped me resolve the Natick, for me, at the crossing of Alden and the Iolani Palace.

The quote Rex listed about the end of the Hawaiian monarchy is a classical example of the use of the passive voice to hide an unwelcome fact: How convenient it is to say "the monarchy was overthrown"--no need to mention who did the overthrowing, which did not escape the ever-alert Elaine, though...

..and learning that the divine BM was NOT born in NY was worth the entire puzzle for me!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:49 AM  

Sorry, I liked this puzzle. I saw early on that the theme was going to be about Hawaii (seem to remember that HONOLULU meant sheltered bay), and thought it was a nice place to visit on a dreary morning in New Jersey. My only worry was spelling those Hawaiian words correctly, and I left the NE for last, especially since AMELIA, TITTER, and ATTAR were not immediately obvious. I was afraid that the entertainer at 17A would be a surfer/hula dancer/ukulele player with name composed of an impossible combination of those few Hawaiian letters, so imagine my surprise when it turned out to be BETTEMIDLER!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:51 AM  

Meant "left the NW for last", of course.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:57 AM  

Spoke too soon! Here is the Divine Miss M in a grass skirt.

Two Ponies 10:57 AM  

I imagine this puzzle was a slam dunk for chefwen.
I enjoy thinking about Hawai'i any old day but this puzzle was rather flat except for the fact about Mauna Kea which caught my attention. Cool factoid.
Maybe a Hawaiian puzzle appeared because Father Damien got his sainthood this week.
Like Rex I wondered about macaws and mynahs as well. I doubt that the wild ones talk but the clue was just trying to be cute. Although a mockingbird in my neighborhood has learned to imitate a car alarm! That's almost like talking for a wild bird.
Enough of the a-words! Yesterday aswarm and now abloom and aweek. Yuk. Can we make any word that way like all of the e-words that keep showing up?
Who is Robt. Donat and why should I know him? We might not remember Sondra from that film but it is a great, if depressing, movie.
Nice misdirection on the jockey clue. Who was trying for a horse's name? I was... for a second.
Overall too easy for a Thursday but between Rex and Greene I managed to have some fun.

Aaron Riccio 11:03 AM  

Boring puzzle, and one that was much too difficult for me, given how much of the puzzle was devoted to proper names and geographical facts. For me, this wasn't even a "puzzle" so much as it was a regurgitation of data; where was the wordplay? Where was the Thursday gimmick? Not a single thing jumped out for me.

treedweller 11:39 AM  

I did not know Hawaiians did not use R's, but managed to guess correctly on the L anyway. Finished three minutes faster than yesterday even though I did it at the office and wasn't fully focused on the puzzle. Still found it a little dull. I did like MADEHAY, though.

I'm agoing to be awork now.

Elaine 11:47 AM  

@Two Ponies
Now, you KNOW a horse can only run once in the KY Derby! (Maybe Ponies do not realize this Horse fact?)
I myself was trying to fit in D. Wayne Lukas or some other trainer, but moved quickly to the crosses.

The ever-alert Elaine reminds you that it was the well-informed XMan who brought up the Marines! Let's hear it for the passive voice!
My best example of still another approach is our daughter's excuse for forgotten lunch: "It didn't get itself into my backpack." Perhaps those tricky Hawaiian Islands got themselves annexed?

I would have enjoyed use of an alternate (earlier) spelling of Hawaii: "Owhyhee," or a previous name: Sandwich Islands...would have made it more Thursdayish.

Hobbyist 11:54 AM  

Robert Donat was the hero in the excellent 1930's version of Hitchcock's pre Hollywood film,The Thirty Nine Steps. Also played Mr. Chips. Died youngish as a result of asthma. I thought he was a good actor.
Dullish but easy puzzle today.

Karen from the Cape 11:57 AM  

New fastest Thursday for me, but I enjoyed the puzzle. I enjoy fact collecting, they all seemed interesting facts, and I was in a good mood when I solved it. I loved seeing the full MAUNA KEA in the puzzle. Too bad we didn't get a NENE. In conclusion, I love macadamia nuts.

Charles Bogle 12:03 PM  

Overall agree w greene, edithb, RP--didn't really care for the theme and a good amount of the fill BUT any Thurs or Fri puzzle I can score 90 percent on or more for accuracy (don't ask me about time) is a moral victory. Liked: DONAT as noted by hobbyist, BABEL

Chip Hilton 12:06 PM  

ATTAR brand new to me. Otherwise, an easy Thursday without a lot of joy.

obertb 12:26 PM  

The Divine Miss M was the last person I thought would have been born in HI (other than Mr. Obama, of course). Thus, for the BoneHeaded Answer of the Day, I had BETTE MIKLEW! The K from misreading the tense of 7D (and so: MAKE HAY) and HAW for 10D (Guffaw syllable). In my own defense I got MIKLEW entirely from crosses, so didn't pay that much attention. Just figured she was some weird Hawaiian person I'd never heard of.

Puzzle was pretty easy for a Thursday. More like an LA Times Thursday. Ouch!

retired_chemist 12:26 PM  

Nice puzzle. Given time to savor, I imagine that Rex would have not been so pessimistic. Although I agree with him about PCPS. There is only one AFAIK.

@dk - Jersey Joe is Walcott, Namath is Broadway Joe.

Hand up for AOLANI PALACE to start - remains up for not knowing SONDRA, and (shoulder getting tired now) also for IOWA CITY being more trouble than it should have been as a consequence.

My excuse: our girl ASH (41A) had puppies last night. And a bonus one this morning about 5. Did the puzzle at 2 AM when we thought the festivities were all done.

Lost one puppy - stuck in the birth canal, the placenta separated, and she went blue (loss of oxygen). If you ever think you want to have a litter to show your kids the miracle of birth, don't. You will also quite probably show them something like this. Oh, and BTW, I won't be selling you a puppy you can eventually breed if that is your purpose in breeding.

Anyway, the remaining 4 girls and 1 boy are doing well. Photos not yet available.

fikink 12:40 PM  

@Retired Chemist, Congratulations on your new arrivals. I am looking forward to the pictures. Let us know when they are up.

Clark 12:52 PM  

Guessed the L of ALDENS/MAUNAKEA and the O of LODI/ARCARO (horse? jockey? could have been any combination of letters for all I know). Yes, the theme was a bit of a let-down for a Thursday. (But I thought the blahness of the theme was offset by the boldness of the NYT taking a position on the location of 54A's birth. :) )

I want to speak up for 29D. Everybody seems to get down on Roman numerals. I kinda liked this one. It's not just some random number. I had to figure out when Caligula might have lived (doesn't narrow it down much for this history slacker) and that had to get crossed with the limited number of possible characters (trying to remember whether 50 is D or L, something I always forget). Seems like ok fill to me. I don't have a general theory of Roman numerals in crosswords yet; I just plan to take em one at a time.

(@mac -- Ragdolls are definitely sweet. @sfingi -- Here's to three-year-old cats named Gracie. Gracie is also a Gray-C(at), though I hadn't noticed that bit of word play before. She is actually a mitted lynx seal point, but that includes a lot of gray.)

retired_chemist 12:54 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 12:55 PM  

per yesterday's discussion, I should have worded "Given time to savor, I imagine that Rex would have not been so pessimistic" differently. Needs to be "I imagine that Rex, were he given time to savor, would have not been so pessimistic." I hope the Syntax Police will let me off with a warning.

Van55 12:56 PM  

As always, I consider any puzzle that has to resort to the "random roman numeral" to be a failure. Who knows the date that Caligula was assassinated off the top of their heads? Ick.

Otherwise, I didn't hate this one as much as RP did. Agree with Iolani/Aldens as a Natick though.

John from CT 1:00 PM  

My big problem with this puzzle is IOWA CITY. It just shouldn't be in a Hawaii-themed puzzle. It's lazy, random, and I don't like it.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

Don't be so hasty to cry Natick.
I think some of the Mayflower gang is fair game, assuming you remember your grade school history.
If Priscilla made you think Presley then you got fooled and that probably was the intent. Given the restrictions of Hawaiian words narrowed it down quite a bit.

Blackhawk 1:10 PM  

For once I agree w/ Rex -- terrible puzzle, made worse that it appeared on a Thursday. What were they thinking. No cleverness, no amusing cluing, no rebus, no interesting trivia. (However the Wednesday puzz was so cool, we can just say they got mixed up this week.)

Note to constructors: Unless there is some twist, full names of overly exposed people are just not fun. .... Let's say the clue for BM was, "Wager on 25A native?" then maybe. But only if it was a wacky first name/lastname combo theme.

So despite being a huge fan of the islands, this was my least favorite puzzle of the year. Aloha.

mac 1:18 PM  

I probably was asolve way before you all got up...

This one was so easy that I got suspicious and started looking for a rebus. I didn't know about de Divine Miss M. and Hawaii, but I also didn't know the palace, and the L was so much a pure guess that it caused me to explain the Natick principle to my husband. Then Rex used the same words in his write-up!

Cherubic and "made hay" are my favorite words, but abloom is not too pretty. Never heard of Donat, that sounds vaguely obscene to me.

When we lived in Boise, Idaho we could see some mountains in the distance that had snow on top 10 months out of the year. The story we were told was that they were called the Owahoo mountains because the guys who named them had been to Hawaii and couldn't spell.

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

To ClarK: Claiming that B Hussein O was born in Hawaii is not bold--it's the typical knee-jerk reaction of liberal media like the NYT.

Same goes for B. Midler--she was actually born in a remote region of what is now known as Tajikistan.

JB Birther

Stan 1:20 PM  

No one's going to mention that PIPELINE, on the North Shore of Oahu, is one of the world's most famous surfing spots?

Now if only Pete Sampras and Syd Barrett had been Hawaiians...

SethG 1:27 PM  

Until I see Bette Midler's certification of live birth, I'll continue to think she's from Milan or Minsk.

I was out with my friend Jeremy Alden last night, and this morning I drove past him as he walked from his car to his office. I got the answer, from 'IOLANI. Pete Sampras!

John 1:41 PM  

alt clue for 60A "Processed Cotton"="GINNED"
Goes Well with, "MADEHAY" as a mini theme.

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

Seth... Milan?

Smitty 1:45 PM  

Good to see you, Eddie ARCARO - A sign it'll be a good day.

bluebell 1:46 PM  

This one had the right blend of gimmes crossed by unknowns that were ultimately gettable. I'm in the Aldens as gimmes camp, for all the reasons already given. Some of the fill I've learned in these crosswords. I knew Syd because "Dark Side of the Moon" is a favorite of mine. Didn't know Iolani or Sondra, but Iowa City became obvious so they were gettable. Barack Obama's birthday is going to join those of Washington & Lincoln as part of the lore every school child knows!

Jeffrey 1:49 PM  

@obertb - I love BETTE MIKLEW, especially her Winter Olympic hit song Rink Beneath My Rings.

Doug 2:09 PM  

If I couldn't begin with ARCARO and NAMATH, two great athletes, I would have been lost. Everything else was a struggle to finish. I thought it was a reasonable Thursday but probably a tad too easy for most. Once you got the mountain and the politician, the rest kind of flowed.

Doc John 2:16 PM  

I liked the puzzle! There, I said it. Some interesting things about Hawaii. And I did know that The Divine Miss M was born there, it's right there on page 3 of the gay handbook!

I'll join in on the criticisms of PCPS and random roman numeral but don't think there were any Naticks. If you look at that name A-DENS and then at the cross, there's really no other letter than L that fits as well. Remember, too, that the Hawaiian language has only a few consonants (nine, I think) so that limits one's choices, too.

sanfranman59 2:35 PM  

WS must have an excess of Tuesday puzzles in his bag. Based on the solve times, this is the third Tuesday puzzle of the week (Monday, Tuesday and today). Before this week, I've been amazed at how well he slots the puzzles each week. I must say that I'm surprised that ALDEN was such a problem for people (per, ALDEN has been an answer 16 times and ALDENS 3 times since November 1993, but are less common in recent puzzles). Still more evidence that one person's gimme is another's potential Natick. An idiosyncrasy of the Hawaiian language that can be handy to remember is that words never (rarely?) have consecutive consonants, never end in a consonant and, as HudsonHawk pointed out, there are only 8 of them.

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

Having gotten back from Kaua'i last night, I found this puzzle spooky and very enjoyable.

@Hazel, check out the Kiahuna Plantation... it's marvelous.

@Dough: I agree with you entirely. Your comment about different people's knowledge and the theme remind me of an old joke about a luau, with the punch line, "One man's meat is another's poi, son".

@Two Ponies: Mocking birds are amazing, but can get to be obnoxious in the Spring.

As a tyro to this blog, (and from Marin), I don't get here until about 10 Pacific time. I wonder, do you East coasters read our later West coast entries?

I'm having trouble publishing this so I'll try Anonymous.


Clark 2:46 PM  

@SethG -- I heard that the Divine Miss M was born while her mother Rochelle was on a strange erotic journey. "You never stopped hoping, now you're in the Pinsk Rochelle Rochelle."

chefwen 2:55 PM  

@Two Ponies - yes, this was a great puzzle for me, like a leisurly stroll through Ala Moana Park.

@Hazel & Pednsg - I know a lovely two bedroom, two bath rental unit right on the ocean on the south shore that is available, heck, I'll even cater the event for you.

Iowa City was also a gimme as husband and FIL went to college there.

hazel 3:33 PM  

@chefwen - now that's an offer!! first, though, I have to make it to age 50, and second I'm going to need a much bigger house - as its going to be a "this is your life" sort of party....

i heard todd rundgren rents his place out in Kauai and that it can fit a bunch - that's going to be our starting point, assuming/hoping everything goes according to Hoyle, of course.

sanfranman59 3:54 PM  

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

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

Thu 12:51, 18:51, 0.68, 1%, (super) Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 6:39, 9:08, 0.73, 3%, (super) Easy

Based solely on solve times and relative to the day of the week, today's puzzle is the easiest for all solvers of the 102 puzzles I've tracked over the past 3 months and third easiest for the top 100 solvers.

PC 4:01 PM  

I guess it's an age thing. Answers that were unknown to some came easily - Donant, Bette Midler, Sondra.

And back in the day, we all learned that Myles Standish asked his friend John Alden to propose to Priscilla for him and her response was "Why don't you speak for yourself, John"? That phrase was as common in grade school as "Give me liberty or give me death" or "The British are coming, the British are coming."

Then an answer like Syd - totally unknown.

Anonymous 4:04 PM  

For the first time in my memory my name, spelled correctly, was in the puzzle! Then I'm told by Rex that it's a weird spelling. :)


Bob Kerfuffle 4:14 PM  

@Rube (2:44) - Not sure if you are aware that if you check the box that says

Email follow-up comments to

below the comment box, you will have all subsequent comments delivered to your inbox.

Personally, I read all comments that come in, including those from solvers who get the puzzles in syndication, five weeks after they are published in the Times, and I believe most others do, too.

slypett 4:19 PM  

Elaine: Thanks for keeping the record straight. It's just so hard to get properly recognized in these tough times!

Michele Humes 4:42 PM  

I was excited to do this--been so busy that this is the first crossword I've done all week, which is pretty unusual for me--and it just fell flat on its hideous moon-face.

Oy, getting stuck on obscure words is fair game; getting stuck on obscure proper nouns is just irritating, and this puzzle, as has been said 60+ times before me, relied entirely too much on them.

What a bummer.

joho 4:47 PM  

@Doug ... loved your "the rest kind of flowed" as in lava.

@Stan ... good point about PIPELINE.

I'm trying to get into this puzzle so I can say Mahalo ... but ... well ... @sanfranman59's data says it all.

@Two Ponies ... I once, too, had a mockingbird outside my window that did an exact imitation of a car alarm. It was fascinating and extremely irritating at the same time!

chefbea 5:04 PM  

I agree - easy for a thursday. I knew the Aldens but have never heard of the palace.

@Rube I go to the blog first thing in the morning to read the posts I missed while I was sleeping

jae in santa fe 6:18 PM  

I'm with those that a. kinda liked the theme and b. thought it was way to easy for a thur. (confirmed by sanfranman).

My only problem is the one I always have with NAMATH--I seem to want to put an E or two in there.

For anyone who went to grade school in the 50's ALDEN should be a gimmie.

Anonymous 6:43 PM  

A link to "The Courtship of Miles Standish":

It's well worth the read.


michael 8:39 PM  

It isn't often that the place I live (Iowa City) shows up in a puzzle. Perhaps out of place in a Hawaii-themed puzzle, but pleased me.

sanfranman59 9:36 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, 83%, Challenging
Tue 9:49, 8:38, 1.14, 79%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 12:30, 11:49, 1.06, 65%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 13:05, 18:51, 0.69, 3%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:30, 3:45, 1.20, 88%, Challenging
Tue 4:45, 4:25, 1.07, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:50, 5:48, 1.01, 58%, Medium
Thu 6:22, 9:08, 0.70, 2%, Easy

fergus 10:42 PM  

Crap Thursday puzzle. But there's a ballgame going on

slypett 12:00 AM  

Rube: Harumph! Many of us take this blog seriously, seriously, way too seriously and attend to every wrinkle and crinkle.

I say this in all fondness.

Are YOU still reading?

andrea nene michaels 12:17 AM  

Well, I was gonna recuse myself bec a)Victor Fleming is a of the nicest men you'll ever meet AND is my some-time editor for Random House puzzles...
so, um, let me think what I liked...

oops, nope.

Maybe on the blog?
First visions of you on a throne, now you evoke "the Divine BM"???! Achtung, baby, indeed!!!!!!!
I'm still trying to recover from the puzzle's classiness going down the toilet earlier this week.

(and r-c, descriptions of dead puppies? Jesus, I'm going back to bed!)

There were SEVEN LONG theme entries:
but really "theme" of this puzzle could have been place names:

There were nine of those:

OR better yet, random people:
There were 12!!!
(Landers), HERA, AMELIA, (Robert) DONAT, and ARCARO
(I just learned was NOT a horse, thank you, blog)

And it's certainly impressive that there were three FULL names.

re: Sondra Locke...she is amazing in "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" and there is a bit of a kerfuffle right now over a theatre version where they've cast a hearing actor in the deaf character's role.

NAM/NAMATH: discuss

I envy you!
My 50th is THIS weekend, forget about beaches in Kauai (my fave place in Hawaii during my tour of duty as a "Dating Game" chaperone), I'm only making it about ten blocks down to North Beach!!!!!!!

I dream of having a "This is your Life"-type of party, but at this point I'm keeping fingers crossed there will be at least one roast-worthy toast!

Your "I have to make it to 50 (knock wood)" reminded me you haven't been 100% and it's a sad, wonderful, gentle reminder not to take anything for granted.
I've been freaking about 50, on the other hand, many of my closest friends never made shame on me. I have my health = I have my everything...

AND I have a good suggestion as to how to have made this a Thursday puzzle:

A) I didn't realize it was the 50th anniversary of Hawaii...50th state in it's 50th year! That should have been mentioned in the puzzle and it would have been better.

B) Better yet, why not ONLY use the letters that exist in Hawaiian????
THEN it would be a Thursday...
If I were super clever and had a good collaborator (kollapolata) I would have done it!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sfingi 12:46 AM  

Easier than yesterday, but never heard of Brit Princess Amelia or Syd. So much to learn.

I actually liked learning some of the Hawaii facts. The only thing I know about HI is that my cousin was in prison there for guarding marijuana; hard to believe they have prisons in Eden. Haole idea, I guess.

Aladdin is from Arabia? We learned:
"Alladin was a lad from old Baghdad.
He had a lot of luck with a lamp he had.
Aladdin rubbed the lamp, a man came flyin'
Served him up some Ballantine."

Had Lsd for 49A PCPS for a while. My age.
Mini theme: 1A, 11A crunching of #s.

Priscilla and John Alden were featured in cousin Longfellow's poem, the Courtship of Miles Standish. It turns out he is descended of them, but also of the marginal John and Priscilla Howland (his and my common ancestors). Alden was a "Saint," belonging to the religious sect, and Howland a "Stranger," someone they had to hire to complete the trip. In his case, he was a ship's carpenter.

Sondra Locke won 7 million from what's his name. Asked for 1 million. God bless her!

I love Iowa City. Wish my sister lived there instead of Fairfield.I gave her my old Taurus wagon because it wouldn't go up real hills. They have none in IA.

@Anonymous 2:44 Love them puns!

Of course, a horse can't win the Derby more than once - must be a 3-yr-old (horse, not cat). So it was Edie Arcaro - who worked with my husband's "connected" uncle in Cuba back in the day.

Anonymous 2:05 AM  

@pednsg said...


Anyone else fall into the Mauna Loa trap?? I know you did!


The only way there can be a "Mauna Loa" trap is if you insist on guessing at all the Acrosses before dealing with any of the Downs. (Some speed-solvers [Rex?] who do it that way. I think the online programs facilitate that. I use paper and pen and take my time.)

Just put in MAUNA__A and wait for the Downs to fill either of the two blanks, and voilà. No trap. Sheesh!!!

Larry the Bear, rooting for the Cal Bears to beat the UCLA Bruins on Saturday...

Waxy in Montreal 11:44 AM  

Had TOE-IN (the door) as my marketing device rather than TIE-IN which prevented ARABIA from emerging for the longest time. And having discerned HAWAII as the theme, was disappointed in IOWA CITY. 34D would have been much better served with a Hawaiian geographical locale. IMHO, puzzle just not up to usual Thursday standards - will virtually deep-six it in the Zasu (sorry, LABREA) pits.

Singer 12:06 PM  

From syndication land:
I didn't have the negativity towards this puzzle as most, although I think it really was a Tuesday puzzle, or maybe a Wednesday, but way too easy for Thursday.

Aldens shouldn't have been that hard based upon either knowing who they were from school or Disney, or knowing the Hawai'ian alphabet's limited number of consonants.

PCPS was lame, as was AWEEK. 'IONLANI was gettable from crosses. Didn't know Bette Midler was from Honolulu, so learned something trivial.

And finally, SONDRA Locke has a great crosswordy name. I would expect to see her again. And I think she is well know enough that she shouldn't be ever considered to be a Natick.

Paul 12:48 PM  

The theme and answers were pretty obvious but it still was difficult to remember the name of the palace or the mountain on the Big Island. Never been there, but also just got back from Kauai, where wikimapia has Bette's home marked. Thought the knowledge, as HudsonHawk and others had, that there were limited consonants would help, but not really. Had the exact same problem with obertb with Bette, and had a good laugh at SethG's comment whether Bette really was a born there.

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