1926 English channel crosser — FRIDAY, Nov. 27 2009 — Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of Shak / First U.S. computer to predict US election outcome

Friday, November 27, 2009

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (minus tryptophan and 12yo scotch, probably more like Medium)

THEME: TURKEY LEFTOVERS (59A: Post-Thanksgiving fare) — two other answers begin A WING and A LEG, respectively

Word of the Day: Gertrude EDERLE (48D: 1926 English channel crosser)Gertrude Caroline Ederle (October 23, 1905 – November 30, 2003) was an American competitive swimmer. In 1926, she became the first woman to swim across the English Channel. [as six-letter answers go, she's surprisingly common, though that didn't keep me from completely forgetting her today] (wikipedia)


I did this post-Thanksgiving dinner, post chocolate pie w/ fresh whipped cream, post-12yo scotch (birthday gift), so I was feeling good but Not moving through the puzzle very well. The whole top part made me feel lost, esp. the NE. I hate the word ARISTOS so much (in that I refuse to believe anyone actually says it) that it never occurred to me at 8A: British V.I.P.'s to Brits. Not thrilled at the "I" part — ARISTOcratS are "important?" Now? Bah. Never heard of DENTON'S (16A: Dr. _____ (infant sleepers)), so the NE was a slog. All I could do was poke at things (an EL AL here (6D: JFK-to-TLV carrier), a NOGO there (33A: Scrubbed)). Then put in DOGS at 5D: Things near Baskerville Hall (I've been reading some A.C. Doyle lately) and despite its wrongness it helped me get CONSOLE (15A: Place for buttons) and then a couple Down answers off of that, and then whatever meager combination of letters I had at 17A: Hope born of desperation got me A WING AND A PRAYER. At this point I'm still assuming that the puzzle is themeless (it's Friday, after all).

The top would remain incomplete and patchy for a while as I moved via BONER (31D: Blockheaded move) and DEAD (39D: Gone to glory) into the bottom half of the puzzle. DEAD to DADE to SENSES to TRESSES (confirmed by ARAFAT and STIR) helped me make short work of the SE, *except* ... I couldn't remember EDERLE (48D: 1926 English Channel swimmer) at all and by the time I had that corner done, the name I had in place was EDERSE. Who is this EDERSE person I've never heard of? Is that a last name? Or is his name ED ERSE (I may have to add that to my roster of aliases)? Never ever occurred to me that 63A: Site for a seal, maybe would be anything but AIRHOSE. Your AIRHOSE would need a seal of some sort in order to maintain proper airflow. Or if it ever had a leak or tear. I really don't understand how AIRHOLE work unless the clue is *trying* to refer to the fact that seals (the aquatic mammals) have AIRHOLEs. But they don't. Do they? No. Or do you make a seal against an AIRHOLE in order to breathe out of it? Oh, so ... this clue is somehow referring to the holes that seals (aquatic mammals) might breathe out of??? Clue seems atrocious to me. I eventually changed that "S" to the "correct" "L" because I suddenly remembered EDERLE, but ... god bless you ED ERSE, wherever you are. It should have been you.

I am told that a seal's breathing hole (made in ice) is called an AGLU. Now there's a word you pray never to see in your puzzle.

I hereby REPROVE (64A: Dress down) the "word" ORIENTE (62A: Where Japón is). LET 'ER RIP (37D: "O.K. ... go!"), on the other hand, is fantastic.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Hope born of desperation (A WING and a prayer)
  • 36A: Justifiable basis for one's position (A LEG to stand on)
  • 59A: Post-Thanksgiving fare (TURKEY leftovers)
Speaking of TURKEY LEFTOVERS, our refrigerator is filled with second and third and fourth Thanksgivings. Wife made dinner for eight. But there were only three of us present. This was calculated, as there are few things we love more than Thanksgiving leftovers. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and eventually, when we're close to losing our love of Thanksgiving fare, the rest of the (gigantic) turkey goes into soup, and we're done with it.


  • 1A: "Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of _____": Shak. ("slumber") — had S-UM-ER and still took many, many seconds to figure it out. "The heavy dew of STUMPER? Who's STUMPER?" The clue on this one made me laff — read aloud, it sounds like "Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of Shaq!"

  • 22A: 1950s-'60s NBC host (Paar) — should've been a gimme, but I figured it might be some Friday trick, so I didn't put it in til late. I actually went back and picked it up after I got LENO (54D: A successor to 22-Across) — awkward "A" in that clue because, of course, LENO was not *the* successor.
  • 28A: Running things (in control) — really nice (tough) clue. Figured the answer was a plural. DISHWASHE... oh it doesn't fit.
  • 1D: Garlicky dish (scampi) — I have decided I really like the look of the word "garlicky."
  • 2D: Figure on a totem pole, figuratively (low man) — torn here. Like the daring quality of the clue, but still found it a little wonky. LOW MAN doesn't stand alone very happily.
  • 3D: First computer to predict a U.S. election outcome (Univac) — I know ENIAC and UNIVAC *exclusively* because of crosswords.
  • 8D: Most populous county of Idaho (Ada) — Dumb luck — ADA county is in a clue in the breast cancer benefit puzzle I just released this week (see below). Would not have been a gimme for me otherwise.
  • 12D: Schroeder's instrument in "Peanuts" (toy piano) — true enough, and very easy to get off just the "Y".
  • 23D: Boxer's name holder (robe) — tricky. You would never actually *say* that the boxer's ROBE is "holding" his name, but the answer seems accurate enough on a literal level.
  • 44D: Lipped lab container (beaker) — not sure why, but I went looking for PIPET (PIPPETTE?).
  • 47D: Cinephiles often watch for them (cameos) — ??? Cinephiles watch movies for lots of things. They might notice or remark on CAMEOS, but I have a hard time imagining a group of cinephiles getting together to watch for them, specifically. Hitchcock movie watchers might watch for them (in that they're expected). Any other context doesn't ring very true.
For those of you who have been away for the past couple days, I want to draw your attention to a puzzle I wrote to benefit the breast cancer foundation of Christina Applegate (whose birthday was Wednesday). Please go HERE to read about it and download it or print it out, and please share it with anyone you know who likes puzzles (or breasts). I'm going to be promoting this puzzle for the rest of the weekend. Check it out, and then go here to get the completed grid and commentary (and to leave comments).

Also, Doug Peterson and Andrea Carla Michaels wrote a birthday puzzle for me — a verrrrry insidery puzzle all about this blog and the community of people who comment on it frequently. Really lovely work. Get it here.

Thanks — enjoy your Black Friday. My day = comics and pie.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

PS here's a recent Slate article by Matt Gaffney about how it is that two constructors might come up with virtually identical puzzles completely independently of one another — very informative about constructing issues.


The Bard on Tryptophan 8:16 AM  

Boy! Lucius! Fast asleep? It is no matter;
Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber:
Thou hast no figures nor no fantasies,
Which busy care draws in the brains of men;
Therefore thou sleep'st so sound.

Julius Caesar > Act II, scene I

Greene 8:26 AM  

I had a blast with this puzzle in that it seemed easier (for me, at least) than most Fridays and I was able to complete it in about 30 minutes. Granted, I wasn't drinking a fine scotch, but that sounds like more fun than doing a crossword. :)

I got into trouble in the SE because I misspelled APERTURE (don't ask) and that kept me from getting GETBY for the longest time.

Had trouble believing that ONEINTEN was such a longshot. I guess it depends on your point of reference.

It also took me forever to remember Jack PAAR. Even when I had P*AR in place I just stared dumbly at it. Sigh. Pass that Scotch, Rex.

Happy holiday weekend all!

Elaine 8:29 AM  

Oh, my. This was Challenging for me. Our feast was at noon, and we had turkey leftovers for a light, late supper. Double tryptophan!

Being Of a Certain Age, I found Dr. DENTONS was a gimme, as was PAAR. And I lived in Lakeland, FL, for several years, so YUBA City went in at 52A like silk, right? That was just the beginning of my troubles. IN COMMAND fit wonderfully, as did cross MOUSY for "shrewlike." And AOL is a Yahoo alternative... Sigh..not to mention that VanGogh did the Galette mill (but would not fit in the space...)

Eventually I did dig myself out of the holes I had managed to make by Googling the Shakespeare phrase.

I am SO old that I recall a book by SJ Perelman entitled, _Low Man on the Totem Pole_ (published in the Fifties.) Was the phrase already coined?

Ben 8:38 AM  

Medium-challenging? I.e., harder than the average Friday?

I'm with @Greene. This was no trouble. Kept waiting for it to fight back and it never did. Maybe my brother put brain pills into the turkey, maybe Rex ate too much before sitting down to this puzzle, but to me this was too easy for a Friday.

Liked the timely wing-leg-turkey leftovers theme.

Side (dish) note: Despite being a noted non-chef, I took a stab at making spinach mushroom puff pastries, which took me over two hours to make (recipe said 30 minutes). To my surprise they came out well and were a hit at our family's Thanksgiving meal. I'm no @Foodie so that felt good.

nanpilla 8:39 AM  

I actually began my day by looking up a guy named Ed Erse, and wondering why I hadn't heard of him before. I rechecked every letter, but couldn't find anything that didn't seem solid. Finally looked up English channel swimmer and got EDERLE. I laughed out loud when I read your write-up, Rex. I couldn't believe how closely our experiences meshed!
Like @Elaine, Dr. Dentons were a gimme. The rest of the puzzle actually fell very quickly for me, even though I was watching Barton Fink out of the corner of my eye at the same time. (Does anyone actually understand that movie?)

Leslie 8:40 AM  

Cute little puzzle. I keep noting how handy Y2K is for Roman numeral-ing. MMV! Punch punch punch!!

Parshutr 8:47 AM  

I got an obscene little thrill out of noticing A _ _ HOLE before looking for the clue. I'm 29 years older than Rex, so I remember PAAR and EDERLE and DENTONS. The long theme answers were all gimmes, so this one seemed easy.

CoolPapaD 8:56 AM  

Possibly my favorite write-up of the year today, and one of my favorite puzzles. Perhaps the key to doing well on Fridays is to consume one's weight in garlicky mashed potatoes beforehand! I finished in around 45 minutes, which is very fast for Friday, but did end up with Mr. Ed Erse on my grid, that now infamous swimmer of channels. AIRHOSE seemed perfect, though Rex's discussion of AIRHOLES was beyond priceless.

Got ADA from Rex's benefit puzzle, and knew LIPPI and GILT from puzzles in the not-too-distant pass. Favorite answer today: LETERRIP!

I'd have missed the theme had I not come here - made me love the puzzle and write-up that much more.

Please - how can I find meaning in the circled letters in King of the Blog?

Meg 9:00 AM  

Compared to most Fridays, this was a breeze. Like some previous posters, I had a pair of Dr. Denton's as a child (not an infant).

I live in St. Pete and would NEVER think of Dade City (56 miles away) as a suburb. My husband says New Yorkers have a looser idea of what constitutes a suburb.

I loved the totem pole clue and had to get all but 1 letter to get it.

And while tricky clues are more challenging, I was happy not to have to think too hard today. Nice, easy puzzle.

Ben 9:02 AM  

Given the clue "Site for a seal, maybe" and ____O__, I went with DIPLOMA before changing to AIRHOSE.

I second Rex's thoughts about AIRHOLE being a poor answer for this clue. An AIRHOSE likely requires a seal, and the whole point of an AIRHOLE is that a seal is broken. And seal, the animal? No. The seal is the site for the airhole, not the other way around.

CoolPapaD 9:24 AM  

@nanpilla - I second your thoughts on that movie. Not a clue...

Smitty 9:29 AM  

I agree with those who said it was easy for Friday and I'm with the oldtimers who got PAAR, DENTONS and EDERLE right off the bat.
The NW was the hardest for me. I had DOGS for the Baskerville clue (as in "Hounds of....)
Nice puzzle.

Meg 9:44 AM  


Read Orange's blog from yesterday. The answer to the circled letters is hiding there.

joho 9:46 AM  

So nice to be able to enjoy an easy Friday for a change, especially on what is planned to be an easy, totally unchallenging day off.

I think Ed Erse should become our term for a really bad (adverse?) clue such as "Site for a seal, maybe." What do you think?

I liked the TURKEY LEFTOVERS theme and was suprised to see one on Friday. What are the chances of that? ONE IN TEN?

@pednsg ... email me and I'll tell you. You'll kick yourself!

Thanks Ed Sessa for a fun, forgiving Friday!

dk 9:56 AM  

Two nits.

1. Ring girls hold the name of boxers and the rounds.

2. Moors surround Baskerville Hall, not bogs gosh darn it.

Great puzzle: **** (4 stars)

Black Friday adventures;


And, I am rereading the collected short stories of Raymond Chandler -- Trouble is my business.

Question of the day: What do the letters on the cross mean?

Rex Parker 9:59 AM  

ED ERSE is a private eye who speaks only Gaelic.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

@dk: INRI is an acronym of the Latin inscription IESVS·NAZARENVS·REX·IVDÆORVM (Jesus Nazarenus, Rex Judaeorum), which translates to English as "Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews."

PlantieBea 10:10 AM  

Nice Friday puzzle, Ed Sessa; funny write-up, Rex. I didn't see a theme until I came here. Certainly leftovers will be featured on our plats des jours with hot turkey sandwiches, enchiladas,as likelies.

My struggle was in the NW where I wanted "a song and a prayer", while husband was suggesting it should be "a hint and a prayer". I was fixed for a long time with the answer to "running things" being a noun (plural). LOW MAN (contemplated LOG MAN!), SLUMBER, and BOGS resolved these problems.
I did get AIR HOLE, thinking the seal animal breathes through air holes in the ice, but figured the cross was ED ERLE. My kids had Dr. Dentons when they were babies--dredged the name up somehow, while listening to Pual McCartney on the TV. He can still sing!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:18 AM  

Agree with most, fun, easy puzzle. It may help to do the puzzle in the cold light of morning.

I didn't recognize the name of Ed Sessa. I went to a (new?) extremely helpful list at Jim Horne's Wordplay site which shows that this is Ed's third appearance in the NYT, at the rate of about one a year.

Don't make us wait a year for the next one, Ed!

Greene 10:18 AM  

@Meg: I had YBOR City in the grid for a long time before DADE City came into view. I think most people would reasonably consider YBOR City to be a suburb of Tampa (but probably not St. Petersburg). Not only is DADE City a generous hike up I-275 from Tampa, it's not even in Hillsborough County (it's in Pasco County)! That's a pretty loose definition of suburb in my book. Oh hell, it's just a wonky clue. I do like YBOR City though. Great place to get Cuban food.

retired_chemist 10:27 AM  

Easy, despite the turkey and SO much more, incl. about a figurative firkin of Cabernet and Merlot and a gen-you-wine Texas dessert wine from San Martiño Vineyards (a mile down the highway from us).

First fill was DENTONS. Then MMI for Pope Benedict XVI, knowing that the I could become a V. Which it did,of course (UNIVAC). SCAMPI appeared, then PAAR, and soon EDERLE completed today's roster of geezer gimmes.

Hand up for IN COMMAND @ 28A. That and MOO for 32A made Colorado kinda rocky. (Did I actually WRITE that?)

@ Elaine - LOVED Low Man on the Totem Pole. Think it was the source of my favorite SJP quote: "...afflicted like the rest of us with bunions, flatulence, and presbyopia." Now THAT's a Geezer talking!

HudsonHawk 10:30 AM  

@Greene, I briefly considered YBOR when the grid was open, but was ready to call foul, since it's a district within the city of Tampa, and not a suburb. DADE City isn't much better, as Meg pointed out.

But still liked the puzzle. Loved the clue for VHS.

dk 10:52 AM  

Thank you @anon, another bit of information I can lord over (pun intended) a certain lovely wife who attended a "bible college" and can not answer any of the old testament clues. Kids these days.

Must have more turkey, the stupor has about worn off.

The Corgi of Mystery 10:54 AM  

I agree with those who said it was more easy-medium. Didn't actually see the theme before I came to the blog...I started in the south and wanted all sorts of things after TURKEY (sandwich-?? casserole??) before LEFOTVERS finally popped in there.

@nanpilla: I love Barton Fink, but I'm not sure I completely understand it either.

mac 11:08 AM  

Very nice puzzle and great write-up. We should all eat turkey more often, puts us in a mellow mood.

The last word I entered was slumber. Had dogs for 5D (had to read that book in English when I was about 14), a SONG and....., and it took a while to clear that up. The bottom part of the puzzle went very fast. Like that leftover theme.

I was a little uncertain of Renoir as well, know him more for rosy ladies than windmills..

@Meg: You may have a point. I live 50 miles from NY in Connecticut, but we talk about our towns as the suburbs, and that would be of New York.

retired_chemist 11:28 AM  

Oops - improper citation for the Perelman quote. It is in the intro to another hilarious book, John Train's Remarkable Names of Real People.

slypett 11:32 AM  

It was a veritable sweet zephyr, no, scratch that, a whirlwind sucking me into the center, where I could not move, because for 24A, "Wishy-washy response", I had IFFY and hung onto it for dear life. Finally, I managed to pry my fingers loose and enter the correct IMAY.

mccoll 11:32 AM  

This was the easiest Friday in ages. Under 30 minutes with no googles or errors.
@ Rex and Ben, one piece of information would be helpful. Seals, the aquatic mammal, have nostrils, not air holes. They spend most of their lives under sea ice in the Arctic. They have to maintain breathing holes in the ice or they would drown. (An air hose must have a seal-not maybe.)
My favourite drink at one time was 12 year old single malt liquor. Cheers and Happy Turkey Day.

Ulrich 11:33 AM  

Given that Salome is my favorite opera, I was very curious to see how Fra Lippi, known to me mainly as painter of lovely Madonnas, would deal with the theme, and this is what I found.

I tried to extend the theme once I saw it: The turkey whose leftovers are the focus of attention tried to survive on wing and a prayer, and after that failed, finds himself with only one leg to stand on--the other one being needed for leftovers.

Fine Black Friday puzzle, if a little harder for me since Ederle was the only gimme (she appears--with photo--in a sample paragraph on an educational CD text-book-writing non-puzzle wife and I produced 10 years ago.)

Clark 12:07 PM  

On the AIRHOLE thing, I was picturing a hole in the outer surface of some object, to which a hose might be attached running to the inside. Where the hose attached to the hole there might well be a seal. Easiest Friday ever, though I would say different if I had guessed wrong at the DADE EDERLE crossing.

The circles in the birthday puzzle are, well, puzzling.

Chorister 12:08 PM  

All you geezers keep insisting you knew Ederle, so I must not be as geezerly as I thought because when my little camel told me I had an error I COULD NOT FIND IT, being so sure air hose was correct and Ed Erse looked plenty fine (in the grid anyway, in real or imaginary life he may be a sorry specimen.) @Rex, laughed out loud about the PI

Those who didn't see the theme must have been on a real tryptophan buzz!

David 12:08 PM  

Once I stopped trying to fit AIOLI somehow for SCAMPI and TOPMAN for LOWMAN and AOL for MSN and... well, it began falling in place. LIPPI came from two P's.

LETERIP finally emerged when I let go of READYSET. LETERIP looks really ugly!

Happy post-Turkey (we had other fowl for a change of pace), and here's to guests who stay too long!

toad 12:09 PM  

Re seals comments. I didn't get it until I read Rex. Then it came in a brilliant flash. Navy SEALS. Need airholds. Et voila!

edith b 12:44 PM  

I've known Gertrude EDERLE for it seems like forever and approached the SE working down the Eastern Seaboard. I wasn't fooled by Beta beater and got *****LEFTOVERS from just the V. Actually, I wasn't fooled by much down South and worked up thru the MIdlands, cherry picking all the 3 and 4 letter neons until ALEGTOSTANDON appeared out of the mist.

It seems normal anymore for the NW to be the last stop in late-week puzzles. The double Ps produced LIPPI as I had no idea who painted the Herod piece. Like @Elaine being of a certain age helped me with PAAR and I remember the Perlman book which gave me the W in AWINGANDAPRAYER which closed out this puzzle.

I had an easy time of this because so many 3 and 4 letter answers were neons that produced the long acrosses.

Two Ponies 12:52 PM  

Fun and easy today.
After yesterday's feast on a rather smallish bird a wing and a leg is about all that is left.
Tree for gallows seemed too simple.
I've watched enough nature shows to have no problem with air hole. Besides, I was already thinking of the Arctic from totem poles in the NE. I thought perhaps this was a debut puzzle but thanks Bob K. for looking it up.
Ederle was a gimme but only because of xwords.
Why can I never remember if it's Paar or Parr?

william e emba 12:53 PM  

Just a medium puzzle for me. Then again, all I had to eat last night was a few hot dogs.

I recommend the Walter Jon Williams novel Aristoi, despite the fact that I can't recall any of it, even after reading the Wikipedia summary. WJW writes superior science fiction. Certainly that novel erased any American dislike I might ever have had for the Britishism.

The US Census includes DADE City as part of the "Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area", or what everybody else calls the "Tampa Bay Area". That's as close to an objective definition of "suburb" as you'll ever get.

Am I the only person surprised at seeing BONER in the puzzle?

UNIVAC did predict the 1952 election, but what is left out of the Wikipedia article is that CBS and Walter Cronkite refused to announce its results for several hours out of complete disbelief. Most traditional polling had given Stevenson the lead.

Today, of course, it's the other way around, and if some random garbage shows up on a computer, people treat it like gospel. Heck, I bet you all believe me, right? See what I mean?

treedweller 12:53 PM  

I assumed this one would be rated Easy, since I finished it (with a fair time). Perhaps those of us who have no chance to place at the ACPT should begin a 12YO Scotch campaign to submarine the crossword ARISTOS. Could anyone slip a shot or two into their orange juice(s) in Brooklyn?

Of course, reading the above comments, I realize there were several places where I considered wrong answers but guessed correctly, so maybe I'll just savor the moment and leave it at that.

One of my lucky guesses was (eventually) AIRHOLE, but I was going for Eberle for a long time. Eventually EDERLE just sounded right somehow. I never checked the cross, since my knowledge of Florida geography is about as deep as my knowledge of opera, but now I'm slapping my head for not seeing DADE as the obvious clincher.

I was a little disappointed when I recognized the theme but never managed to find a breast. Story of my life.

PS belated Happy Birthday to Rex and Happy Thanksgiving to all. I'm thankful to all of you for being a bright spot in most of my days.

jeff in chicago 12:56 PM  

After my first run through the clues I didn't think this was going to turn out well. Not many squares filled in. But 1A was Shakespeare! I should know that! Focusing on the NW downs I got MSN and ELAL. Guessed SCAMPI. UNIVAC popped into my brain and SLUMBER revealed itself. The rest of the puzzle just seemed to fill itself in.

I lived in Tampa for a short time and threw YBOR in despite knowing it wasn't a suburb. It didn't take too long to figure out it was wrong.

I wasn't expecting a theme on Friday, but ...LEFTOVERS made this ideal. Well done. Now...I think there's some pie around here somewhere....

ArtLvr 12:56 PM  

I was thinking Scuba equipment where you'd need a seal against water leakage in your air supply, but liked the other explanation too relating to an ice hole for critters.

Very happy with the puzzle and would include in theme words the ATE at the end of the longest down, center-positioned DEMONSTRATE. At dinner, all went down smoothly -- and ditto in the crossword!

Me too, wishing Rex Happy Birthday.


CoolPapaD 1:53 PM  

@ Meg - I could NOT figure it out - I thought one of the constructors was "signing" the puzzle, until joho kindly provided the solution via e-mail. Thanks, joho!

@ william e emba - from Wednesday - I TOTALLY remember that Mad Magazine cartoon: Back then, a picnic was ruined when someone forgot the church key. Now (~1975), a picnic is ruined when someone cuts themselves on the pull-tab! That is the ONLY time I've ever seen the term used as well (tribesman also!).

jae 2:09 PM  

Easy for me also except the NW where, in spite of getting SCAMPI and PAAR quickly, I slogged through the rest. Great day after puzzle!

@Two Ponies -- EDERLE was also a gimme for me from doing crosswords. My bride actually asked me about her about a week ago when she was doing a puzzle from a Mon./Tues. book, which reinforced my memory.

SethG 2:31 PM  

What treedweller said about EBERLE. (He said he had EBERLE.)

What mccoll said about aglus. (said that they're in the ice.) A picture, or National Geographic article.

And what Bon Jovi or Madonna says about a prayer, and what Rex says about 12yo scotch and breasts.

chefbea 3:01 PM  

An easier than usual Friday, and I never saw the theme (Friday's don't usually have themes.)

Didn't do yesterday's puzzle - did I miss anything?
Had fun doing the birthday puzzle. Again - happy birthday Rex

andrea loopy michaels 3:54 PM  

Dangnabbit, I had INRO and altho I questioned LOPPI, i had no one to tell me I was wrong!!!!!
so thank you @Anon 10am!

I also wasn't expecting a theme so missed the whole WING and LEG thing which I am loving loving loving!!!!
(Even tho I went to a big feast, my entire Thanksgiving meal consisted of two pieces of spanakopita and some spinach dip and whatever shrimps I could cadge from the appetizer plates that were put away too soon...)

Never considered AIRHOsE as I had AIRMAIL as my first guess!
(The only seal I had considered was a wax one and thought they probably didn't have airmail in King Arthur's time, and I'm pretty sure animal seals use pony express.)

Thrilled of course that Rex was happy with the birthday puzzle...
Doug is the ideal collaborator.

As for the circled letters, we are getting some marvelous guesses:
(and to balance that ecumenically, Rex himself found SPHERICAL HAM)

Then of course, some gave up after A MICHAELS, but seriously, let us not forget whom the puzzle is in honor of!!!!!!!

The only thing I wish we had done in retrospect was to put all the circles in one corner, save one or two irritatingly stray ones...I think that would have been hilarious!

And I echo Doug Swedish Sounding Peterson in saying trust us, if we could have gotten each and every one of you in the puzzle we would have...
Happy Birthweek RBIS (to Rex of Binghamton, King of the Jews.
Ooops, I mean Blog!!!!!)

sanfranman59 4:06 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)

Fri 21:31, 25:55, 0.83, 12%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 12:32, 12:27, 1.01, 56%, Medium

I find it interesting that the top 100 solvers are having a relatively tougher time with this puzzle than the masses. Similarly, I found this to be an easy Friday puzzle (any Friday puzzle that I finish in under 30 minutes--22:17 in this case--and don't need to Google is, by definition, easy), while Rex rates it as Medium-Challenging. Perhaps a tryptophan/carbohydrate (and 12-year-old Scotch?) hangover has a disproportionate adverse affect on the abilities of accomplished crossword solvers?

retired_chemist 5:13 PM  

And, speaking of birthdays, today is the thirteenth of Glengowan's foundation bitch Bree. Little did I know then what wonders she would bring to my life through her own personality, her performance, her offspring, and her great capacity for love for all her two- and four-legged family. She is the great-grandmother of the current litter of pups, and also the one to be whelped next week.

Luisa Massim 6:22 PM  

Thanks for the memories, Ed Sessa. Really enjoyed the puzzle, the colloquialisms, the childhood memories (Dr. Dentons, Paar) the college memories (Lippi, Shakespeare) and the general sense of fun. A nice look back as befitting the beginning of the holiday season.

mac 6:27 PM  

@The Bard: Thank you so much for your information on the source of the clue to 1A. I had already told my husband that I would be able to tell him what it was from by reading the comments! I was counting on you and I wasn't disappointed.

@William Emba: I am so sorry all you had were hot dogs, or is that part of your lie? You do sound as if you have a shortage of tryptophan.

@Acme: fantastic birthday tribute! I'm sure you had a lot of fun working with Doug to put it together.

@treedweller: sometimes having just a little information helps: Dade sounded Floridian enough to me, having spent some time in Miami.

foodie 7:30 PM  

Comment of the Day goes to @Treedweller:

"I was a little disappointed when I recognized the theme but never managed to find a breast. Story of my life."

It made me hoot with laughter.

I thought it was mostly easy except for the top two lines. The NE-- ARISTOS, DENTONS crossed with ADA did me in, and since I had DOGS in lieu of BOGS, like Rex, I had a hard time getting SLUMBER.

You know how leftovers can sometimes taste really good the next day? you don't necessarily expect it, and it feels like a little surprise gift. Today's puzzle felt the same way...

mac 7:33 PM  

@Foodie: I'm pretty sure I'm enjoying the leftovers more because I am not as tired... Hope you are having a wonderful time in NY.

PIX 7:51 PM  

@Rex: I found the information at:"a recent Slate article by Matt Gaffney about how it is that two constructors might come up with virtually identical puzzles" to be extremely informative and interesting. Thanks for sharing. Especially interesting where it states there is really only a small community of about 300 people that make the puzzles for the major outlets; any insight into their thought process is always welcome.

joho 8:51 PM  

@foodie ... I totally agree with your pick for comment of the day. Too funny. I wanted to say something but didn't and am so glad you did!

sanfranman59 1:53 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 7:13, 6:55, 1.04, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 9:49, 8:40, 1.13, 80%, Challenging
Wed 9:44, 11:41, 0.83, 12%, Easy
Thu 12:59, 18:19, 0.71, 2%, Easy
Fri 22:41, 25:58, 0.87, 18%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:41, 1.04, 68%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:07, 4:27, 1.15, 85%, Challenging
Wed 5:03, 5:45, 0.88, 16%, Easy
Thu 6:38, 8:51, 0.75, 7%, Easy
Fri 11:15, 12:24, 0.91, 22%, Easy-Medium

andrea slumber michaels 4:14 AM  

just had a flashback to wearing a pair of Dr Denton's with the little feet and a flap in the back!!!!

Dr Denton tho sounds like a dentist and I'll bet it's one of those made up "doctors" like in Dr. Pepper to make it sound more official than it is.

william e emba 12:27 PM  

My family did Thanksgiving maybe once or twice. As in, turkey pot pies or something, whooptiedoo. I guess I don't know what I'm missing.

For what it's worth, I'm an antifoodie. And between not liking long meals (I pretty much never ever go AWOL during such events.)

Waxy in Montreal 1:50 PM  

And for those of us in syndiland way ahead of (or behind) the curve in 2010, Happy New Year!

slypett 3:22 PM  

Thanks, Waxy.

LateMike 1:50 PM  

As per previous comments, was a little easier than average friday for me, even while having some adult beverages (which seems to be a common theme here... hmmm) my only error was LePPI for LIPPI, which is what I get for not checking my crosses...

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