Cartoonist Browne — MONDAY, Nov. 2 2009 — Jetsam's partner / Rochester's beloved governess / Head of a major toy outfit

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Constructors: Andrea Carla Michaels and Kent Clayton

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "BELIEVE IT OR NOT" (51A: Ripley catchphrase that's apropos to 20-, 34- and 42-Across) — theme answers are all holiday-related creatures that adults trick kids into believing are real

Word of the Day: DIK Browne (23A: Cartoonist Browne)Dik Browne (August 11, 1917June 4, 1989) was born Richard Arthur Allan Browne in New York City. He was a popular cartoonist, best known for writing and drawing Hägar the Horrible and for drawing Hi and Lois.

A simple and lovely puzzle. Was thinking as I moved through it that a. the fill seemed solid all round and b. there seemed to be some kind of kid/toy theme going on. I was going too quickly to catch the theme, and with HASBRO (9D: Owner of Scrabble) and THE EASTER BUNNY already in the grid I hit the odd clue 42A: Head of a major toy outfit and had no clue what to do with it. "F.A.O. Schwarz!?" Had to get the theme and then come back to it. I like that this puzzle has ACTOR in the NE (16A: Thespian), as any of the theme answers a child might actually have seen in his/her life would have been played by one. I also like the way HASBRO is clued, as at least one of today's constructors is a competitive Scrabble player.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Spring egg distributor (The Easter Bunny)
  • 34A: One who leaves money under a pillow (Tooth Fairy) — problem here: you've given EASTER BUNNY a "THE," but failed to give one to TOOTH FAIRY. Either they both get one or neither gets one. This is the only real flaw in today's puzzle, but it's kinda big. Really really surprised that kind of inconsistency was allowed to fly.
  • 42A: Head of a major toy outfit (Santa Claus) — does not need a "THE," thankfully.

There were perhaps one too many partials today, especially since they were likely unnecessary (i.e. in little corners of the grid where constructors would have had a lot of leeway with fill). EYE ON, TO AN, AN OUT ... I wouldn't want more than one partial in my Monday grid unless there were really, really good cause (brilliant fill that couldn't be pulled off any other way, for instance).


  • 30A: Jetsam's partner (flotsam) — one of several wonderful answers today; also in the group are HASBRO, KARACHI (44A: Largest city in Pakistan), ABDOMEN (43D: What situps tighten up), and FROTH (30D: Possible sign of rabies), though the clues on the last two felt a bit off, somehow. I'd say ABS or ABDOMINALS in response to the 43D clue, and while "frothing at the mouth" is certainly a rabies sign, simple FROTH feels like an odd fit. There's FROTH on my cappuccino.
  • 8D: _____ Best of the pre-Ringo Beatles (Pete) — Andrea loves her Beatles, so we'll end with this.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


mac 11:25 PM  

Lovely puzzle, as Rex said! A surprise by Andrea.

Hasta over actor: we all know who that was. Bahai was new to me, needed the crosses since Zoroastrian didn't fit.

Funny to have Hoo smack in the middle. Bet she has a little story for us about that.

Phil 11:26 PM  

Like I believe Kent Clayton is a real name. Clearly one of Andrea's pookas.

Very nice Monday.

Unknown 11:32 PM  

Short and sweet; perfect for a Monday. "Gobsmack" (11D) was a delightful and vivid clue.

retired_chemist 3:16 AM  

A fun puzzle. Just right for a Monday.

For those who are interested, here are puppy photos taken Oct. 28 - Nov. 1.

Greene 5:06 AM  

Ah, ACME. How I love to see your byline. Another playful Monday construction. Excellent way to start the week.

Rex raises an interesting question about the use of "the" in a theme answer. This was clearly a concession to symmetry, but it didn't bother me much. It makes me wonder about poor old SANTA CLAUS though. I mean, where's his indefinite article? We always say THE Easter Bunny and THE Tooth Fairy, but it's never THE Santa Clause (unless one is referencing the 1994 Tim Allen film). Is this because Santa is a real person, say more real than The Tooth Fairy? And hey, where's The Easter Beagle and The Great Pumpkin for that matter? Don't they rate a puzzle? Okay, I'm just rambling at this point.

Loved the puzzle, Andrea. Happy Monday, all.

Elaine 5:19 AM  

Hand up for trying to put in THE with Tooth Fairy; needless to say I ran out of room...
This went in smoothly--just enough "Better check the crosses" to make it interesting (instead of like taking dictation.) I tried STOOP for the catcher (Darn those Yankees!)

Thanks, Andrea The Michaels and Kent!

Oscar 6:47 AM  

Fun puzzle - fastest Monday I've ever done, but that's not a bad thing. I didn't even read 95% of the Down clues, tho.

Gobsmack is a great word, but maybe not so great when GOB is in the grid.

The Blackhawk 7:18 AM  

Complaining about the "the" is like complaining that the tooth fairy and Santa Claus are humanoid figures while the Easter bunny is an animal figure. It's no big deal. Not even a little deal.

This was an awesome Monday puzzle that will delight inexperienced solvers while at the same time amusing veteran solvers with its light touch and good humor. Bravo, Andrea.

ArtLvr 7:28 AM  

Lots of whimsy and plenty of scrabbly letters too! It was a SNAP, much fun. Thanks, Acme & Kent.

Power outage over the weekend cured now, but I loved yesterday's puzzle too, and all the comments as well...

@ r_c -- Congrats on your cute little puppies!


joho 8:22 AM  

Delightful, whimsical, fun and FROTHy puzzle ... just what I needed on a cold, Monday morning.

I noticed the lack of "the" in front of TOOTHFAIRY, something I never would have before this blog, but it didn't bother me at all.

POLE, POLAR, NODS, ABDOMEN and ALIT (as on the roof) were all shout outs to SANTA CLAUS, no?

Thank you Andrea and Kent!

@retired_chemist ... oooh, the faces on your pups! Too cute.

Jeffrey 8:38 AM  

Nice puzzle but...they're not real????!!!!!

Denise 8:44 AM  

Believe it, or not. Great theme to begin the week.

Jim in Chicago 9:00 AM  

@Crosscan: To restore your faith, I suggest a quick viewing of "Miracle on 34th Street". All will again be right with the world.

A perfectly fine Monday, although anything would be hard after the glory that was yesterday!

slypett 9:03 AM  

Charming little amusement gave me my best Monday time. A nice way to start the week.

Thanks Andrea!!!!!! and Kent.

And thanks Rex for the Beatles fillip.

Cute pups r_c.

Ruth 9:04 AM  

Like Oscar said, really never read any of the down clues (except to confirm CYAN) and I felt sorta let down when I went back and saw what fabulous words & clues were in there. Wow--acquittal, tenacious, Hasbro, Cheney? They all just fell in--and I almost missed them. Not meant to be a complaint! Loved the puzzle.

Stan 9:34 AM  

Excellent Monday, elegant without being pretentious. As words, I liked SQUAT, FROTH, SCOUR and OOZE.

T. Tooth Fairy 9:41 AM  

Rex is merely playing devil's advocate. Part of believing is standing firm against the naysayers. Don't give in!

sillygoose 9:49 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, of course, but so did my 6 year old son. When he saw SANTA CLAUS and THE EASTER BUNNY he started to laugh his head off. He asked me to read all of the words out loud to him, both across answers and down, which is when I realized that the down answers really sing. I almost missed them. TENACIOUS and ABDOMEN and ACQUITTAL and OOZE and even poor old TONYA.

Tooth Fairy didn't bother me at all because we take turns in this house playing tooth fairy, so there isn't really a "the" for us. Any old tooth fairy will do, preferably the highest bidder (grandma).

addie loggins 9:50 AM  

Lovely puzzle, Andrea. What a nice way to start the week.

Leslie 9:53 AM  

Agree with all on the lovely puzzle and great fill.

My now-grown daughters were prime Disney age when "The Little Mermaid" came out. They play-acted that movie in our basement, with their friends, for at least a year.

"Flotsam, Jetsam, now we've got 'em, boys--the boss is on a roolllllll--those POOR UNFORTUNATE SOOUUULLLLS!!" gotta love that Ursula the Sea Witch.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

A great way to start the week. I think of a gob of gum as a wad, but I don't think the reverse. I do love the word "cyan" in teh puzzle. Not only is it a tranquil sounding word, it's also the name of a great Three Dog Night album.

PIX 10:12 AM  

Fun puzzle.

People associate rabies with dogs, but cats, raccoons,skunks and especially bats are more of a problem in this country.

THE Easter Bunny and THE tooth fairy are probably from THE Bronx.

Heather 10:14 AM  

Loved this puzzle, and got my best time ever for a Monday!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:28 AM  

Brava, Andrea! (And Bravo to you, Kent.)

Two Ponies 10:28 AM  

HOOray Andrea and Kent.
Just enough to make me think and plenty to make me grin.
Shiv is a cool word. I wonder where that comes from.
Nice start to the week.

John in CT 10:39 AM  

Fun puzzle. I flew through it. I thought it was more easy than "medium."

Have a great day!

dk 10:54 AM  

Waking up with Andrea.... sigh who could ARGUE with that.

Great start to the week. Loved the smell of old chestnuts permeating this puzzle. STP, CYAN and EZRA where have you been.

BELIEVEITORNOT last night's conversation explored our tendency to celebrate the dead rather than the living. Happy to see fantasies like E. BUNNY, T.FAIRY and S. CLAUS who are alive and well.

Favorite word: SQUAT

Thanks Andrea and Kent.

Charles Bogle 11:02 AM  

I echo comments of @twoponies and all others: really nice, fun puzzle, terrific start to week and very good fill and theme. Nothing not to like here. Especially liked: SQUAT, TENACIOUS, ACQUITTAL, @mac, I too had no idea about BAHAI..very glad to be in such good company!

archaeoprof 11:05 AM  

All hail the Queen of Mondays!

Glitch 11:25 AM  

@Two Ponies

A shiv (from the Romani word chiv) is a slang term for any sharp or pointed implement used as a knife-like weapon, including knives themselves. However, the word in practical usage is frequently used when referring to an improvised bladed weapon. ...


Unknown 11:47 AM  

fastest monday ever for me. fun puzzle.

chefbea 11:52 AM  

Fun Monday puzzle. Thanks to THE constructors Andrea and Kent - they are real!!

@R-C cute puppies

the puzzle is a J and a W short of a pangram

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

just curious, what happened to the puzzle images? they look so much worse now. i hope this is a temporary change

Mike Lewis 11:57 AM  

Fastest Monday ever for me too. And by quite a bit, too. I rarely have that "never saw this clue" experience, but CHENEY is the only Down I even looked at in the entire south. KARACHI is the only word that seems tough for a Monday, and even that's not bad - plus the crosses on that are almost all gimmes.

Two excellent puzzles in a row - the bar is set high for Tues.

Geezer 12:03 PM  

I enjoyed a good fast Monday, and with zero googling for a change.
I certainly enjoy reading the comments of you regulars! Thanks !

PlantieBea 12:06 PM  

Fun Monday Andrea and Kent! My only hangup was trying to write in THE tooth fairy. I solved this while sitting in the eye doc's office this AM where my husband was being treated for a scratched cornea. I wish the puzzle had taken longer to do.

@retired_chemist: very cute puppies.

des 12:10 PM  

As soon as I realized I had to use THE with EASTER BUNNY, I said to myself, "Oooh. Rex is going to be angry" - and I was sure of it when I got to TOOTH FAIRY and the THE was missing (I guess we need another Fairy to come at night and fill in the missing THE's!).

The only thing that made this puzzle medium for me was the crossing of KARACHI and BAHAI. The I at the end could have been E and I would have been just as happy and none the wiser. Sigh.

jeff in chicago 12:14 PM  

A fun, fresh, smooth start to the week.

I like that at the bottom we have:
(Keep your) EYEON (the) SPAM TOUR

and along the east coast we have an

(I don't know why I always look for these?!?)

Rex Parker 12:26 PM  

FYI I'm back in Firefox now, so little glitches in formatting that have been occurring of late will likely be taken care of starting next post.

Andrea should be here later this evening to give you the lowdown on the puzzle's construction. Very interesting story.


Anonymous 12:33 PM  

I thought this was super easy, even for a Monday, given that most people could fill in 2 of the 3 theme answers from the start. I broke my record for solving time, and my wife, who isn't much of a puzzler, solved the whole thing.

Shamik 1:03 PM  

Lovely Monday puzzle all around, regardless of THE. But my relative times on Monday compared to later in the week are phooey. Yes, a medium for me by time, but barely. Is it because I just woke up?

And the Beatles clip? Always love a Beatles clip, but this one seems too close to break-up time and they look miserable, not sleepy. Very sad. Damned ONO.

Feeling curmudgeonly today.

MikeM 1:04 PM  

2 real enjoyable puzzles in a row. Loved Sundays and loved todays. My only problem was the cross of KARACHI with BAHAI.
My daughter lost a tooth yesterday and started on her Christmas list for Santa... somewhat of a foreshadowing of todays puzzle.

Clark 1:14 PM  

I loved the way this puzzle unfolded Monday smooth. And while I noticed that THE EASTER BUNNY got a definite article and the TOOTH FAIRY did not, this did nothing to disturb my Monday groove -- I figured there would be some way to think about the different clues that would make sense of it.

After finishing I noticed that the puzzle was brought to us in part by Andrea Ion Michaels. Then I set out to find a defense of the wavering article situation. I couldn’t come up with one, really. But it did occur to me that, for all I know, there might be multiple tooth fairies (I see some support from @sillygoose on this) but only one Easter bunny. That would do it, I think. And it means that only someone with secure knowledge of the special metaphysics of these entities is really in a position to criticize the article situation. I must say, this kind of theme wavering doesn’t bother me at all. One answer could have the definite article and does; another could have it and doesn’t; another can’t have it.

(My dear @PlantieBea, your name conjures up a comforting mixture of Aunt Bee (from the Andy Griffith show), Aunt Beast (from A Wrinkle in Time) and some character that is always found at work in her greenhouse, available for heart to heart conversations and the offering up of words of wisdom. I had a scratched cornea once. It hurt like crazy, but it healed up very fast. The doc squirted some kind of opiate in my eye and I almost kissed him.)

Smoky T. Bear 1:45 PM  

Re the:

Ulrich might remind us that in German it is best to learn the noun with its definite article. Kind of a sterile exercise in English though.....


PlantieBea 1:47 PM  

@Clark: I had forgotten about Aunt Beast :-) My husband's scratched cornea is the result of a plant accident suffered late yesterday while weeding (at my suggestion) a bed of sword shaped liriope. Currently I'm doting over him--he'll be off work today and tomorrow because of this; he's wearing a patch over a medicated eye and theraputic contact lens, and I'll be taking him back to the ophthamologist tomorrow, but I'm sure he's silently cursing me as the plant BEAst.

william e emba 1:49 PM  

This puzzle hits on a pet peeve of mine: cluing MENSA as an organization for "geniuses". They've always struck me as having way too low standards. I think of them as an organization for the functionally literate.

Ulrich 1:50 PM  

Very fast Monday for me--filled in SANTA CLAUS w/o even looking at the clue--too bad, b/c it would have given me a few seconds of pause...

The entire puzzle is a sustained argument against doing puzzles by acrosses--or downs--only: You may be missing half the fun! (I know I know--sour grapes on my part).

Now I'm waiting for Andrea to give us the skinny on this one, especially on who's hiding behind "Kent Clayton"--is he a clan toy?

Winnie T. Pooh 1:59 PM  

@Smoky T. Bear -- Nothing like a definite article to mess up your name! (Have you heard the joke: What do Winnie the Pooh and Attila the Hun have in common? Their middle name!) Are you aware of what those pompous EE-Yores at Wikipedia are saying about you?:

Smokey Bear
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Smokey Bear (often unofficially referred to as Smokey the Bear) is a mascot of the United States Forest Service created to educate the public on the dangers of forest fires. Smokey Bear's message, "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires," was created in 1944 by the Ad Council. In April 2001, Smokey's message was updated to "Only You Can Prevent Wildfires."[1] According to the Ad Council, Smokey Bear and his message are recognized by 95% of adults and 77% of children in the U.S.[2]

Smokey's correct full name is Smokey Bear. In 1952, the songwriters Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins had a hit with "Smokey the Bear". The pair said that "the" was added to Smokey's name to keep the song's rhythm. This small change has caused confusion among Smokey fans ever since.[3] Note that, from the beginning, Smokey's name was intentionally spelled differently from the adjective smoky. The Forest Service emphatically denies that the name was ever "Smokey the Bear"; however, in the 1950s, that variant of the name became very widespread both in the popular imagination and in print, including at least one standard encyclopedia.[4] The campaign to remind the public of the correct version of the name is almost as old as the Smokey Bear campaign itself.

The fictional character Smokey Bear is administered by three entities: the United States Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters, and the Ad Council. Smokey Bear's name and image are protected by U.S. federal law, the Smokey Bear Act of 1952 (16 U.S.C. 580 (p-2); 18 U.S.C. 711).[5][6]

Ruth 2:03 PM  

@PIX--yup, likely from THE Bronx but with roots in THE Ukraine. (lots of Ukrainians around here, and they are generally adamant in not wanting the THE. Ukraine will therefore gladly bequeath a THE to our Tooth Fairy and settle all the consternation)

Unknown 2:05 PM  

Fun puzzle -- my only nit is that 9D should have been "Owner of Scrabble in the US and Canada". Mattel has the worldwide rights and licenses to Hasbro for those countries.

retired_chemist 2:35 PM  

Where is Treedweller to remind us how important the "The" is to The University of Texas? I am sure Larry will speak re UC when he comes on....

chefwen 2:49 PM  

@dk - Boy, you've got it bad. Andrea, you need to quit teasing that poor man.

By the way, loved your and Kent's fun Monday puzzle. Thanks!

dk 3:06 PM  

@w e emba, The biggest toad (amongst a school (actually it is a knot of toads) of same) in my grad school croaked on and on about his membership in MENSA. A few of us took the test and got our membership cards (no decoder rings gosh darn it) and through the miracle of a photo lab (no photoshop at that time) created membership card with wording suggesting a super group within Mensa. Linda, by far the most attractive of us, girded her loins and sat next to the toad king and casually let her card appear. King Toad (who was always eager to empress) picked up the card, stating "I am a member..." and stopped mid-sentence. "What is this!" he exclaimed. Linda demurely asked for the card back saying she was not really suppose to talk about her membership but she was told that dk and pk were also members of this subgroup. The effect was better than expected. King Toad was on the phone and writing letters asking for an entree into this super group. He came back to the 3 of us angry as Mensa told him no such group existed. Linda, ever the wily fox, said "Well you saw my membership card and I told you it was secret so I do not know what else to say." Suffice to say we never heard about Mensa again and I guess you do not have to be that smart to get in.

dk 3:11 PM  

@chefwen, nah I got it good!

3 and out.

treedweller 3:51 PM  

@ R_C
I thought it was just The University.

Sfingi 3:53 PM  

Hip-Hip-Hurray for forum-mate (dare I say) Andrea!

Never heard of gobsmac, but guessed. I suppose it could be some kind of Apple equipment.

Those of the B'hai are being persecuted in Iran.

Another clue for 19A - Winnie doesn't know SQUAT. Such a goofy word, There's a restaurant on Rte. 20 called (gulp) The Squat and Gobble. I guess I'll name mine The Full Bladder. Don't worry, I don't cook.

@Greene and all who followed that line of thought - is it hospital or The hospital? Is it MIT or The Massachusetts Institute of Technology?

@Glitch - didn't know about the Russian connection. When I taught in NYS prison, cons would fashion the shivs from anything they could for stabbing, mostly, each other. When we had our first real riot since Attica they used aluminum baseball bats on COs. I never could understand why the bats were there. Why not teach pole-vaulting?

@I'll bet the opiate was cocaine. Eye doctors, including Freud use to keep it within reach.

sanfranman59 4:00 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)

Mon 5:41, 6:57, 0.82, 13%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:09, 3:42, 0.85, 16%, Easy

Congrats to Andrea and Kent! They've constructed an elegant Monday puzzle that appears destined to remain in the Easy category (and I doubted that it could be done!). The median solve times are the fastest for both groups of solvers in the 20 weeks I've been tracking the data and they will probably remain so come days end.

Hobbyist 4:01 PM  

Mensa is for wannabes what aren't. I know.

Van55 5:17 PM  

Funny, I would have rated this one as on the challenging side for a Monday puzzle. It fell for me without outside help, but didn't know BAHAI or KARACHI (at first). Didn't like the clue for ARGUE.

william e emba 6:09 PM  

Here is an article that unintentionally explains why MENSA sucks. At the bottom is a list of about a dozen high-IQ groups, with Mensa being the dumbest. I suspect they all suck. (I can believe that most of the members are pretty decent people, but the few who take their societies seriously are the real problem.)

Over 20 years ago, I received e-mail from someone I didn't know who saw an article by me in his high-IQ (top 99.9%) genius society's newsletter. He was puzzled, since I wasn't on their membership list. He kindly sent me a hard copy of the newsletter, and there it was, a ripped off USENET posting of mine explaining some stuff of Hawking, in between three other articles by members and a vocabulary list (SAT level). These self-proclaimed geniuses were writing on why IQ is important, and they apparently needed something weighty (ie, science, which none of them understood) to round out their issue. Well, maybe not ripped off, maybe someone asked permission in e-mail and I just said sure and didn't think twice of it and it was too trivial to remember.

Either way, my opinion of these high-IQ groups went from very low to all round bathetic. The society that reprinted my article seems to have disappeared or at least mutated. Good riddance.

Ragland T. Tiger 6:18 PM  

The T stands for THE.

Martin 6:22 PM  


Cocaine is not an opiate.

retired_chemist 6:24 PM  

Never ever thought MENSA would be interesting. A group that is formed for people to meet in celebration of their supposed high IQ brings to mind the adage: those that can, do; those that can't, talk.

Phil 6:28 PM  

This has been bugging me for a year or so now - Who is William E Emba really? I've found him to be the most interesting voice here, yet he only seems to appear anywhere on the net as a commentor. I'm beginning to suspect a mad scientist kind of thing.

PIX 6:29 PM  

@DK...great story.

@Sfingi...cocaine is not an is a local anesthetic (think novaCAINE, lidoCAINE,coCAINE etc.) Unique among the local anesthetics it causes the blood vessels to constrict (so less bleeding). It would be a very useful drug but security issues have limited its use.

An Andrea Carla Michaels 7:43 PM  

This is the note I wrote to Rex last night...(and I will respond to blog directly below)

You sir, are a genius...
(worthy of @dk's MENSA secret inner group!)
Aha! You noticed the fatal flaw...

I had made the puzzle with EASTERBUNNY 11
with the punchline MYTHBUSTERS 11

Hunky guy across the hall wanders in and I say to him "Kent, I'm
working on this puzzle, blah blah blah...have you heard of
MYTHBUSTERS? Would you get that if it were the punchline?"
He sort of knew "Mythbusters" (it's shot here in SF) but he said "How about BELIEVEITORNOT"?

I thought that was perfect and brilliant and SO much better than
MYTHBUSTERS...but now the problem becomes that it's 14...
so I had to change Easter Bunny to THE Easter Bunny to make it 14...

And I fretted that it was a Catch-22...bec if I gave THE Easter Bunny
the THE I would have to give the THE to tooth fairy...but then I'd
have TWO THEs and one not...
and I need either THREE THEs..or no THEs....but if I add THE to THE
TOOTHFAIRY that is 13 letters...and I can't have THE Santa

SO what the hell, I held my breath and thought Will
a) might not notice
b) like it anyway
C) there is ONLY one Easter Bunny but there
might be many tooth fairies, running around, bec that is a nightly thing, whereas the Easter Bunny only makes one big appearance
and BELIEVEITORNOT was too good to pass up.

So I offered to give Kent half credit, half money, half of everything I own and my first born.
In the meantime, I now had to start the grid from scratch and two 14s and two 11s would be tough, so Michael Blake put it in the grid compiler computer thingy, but couldn't get credit, as Will allows for two.
(altho he gets half of Kent's half or dinner...)
And it's his use of some program that came up with that great fill
like FLOTSAM and KARACHI, etc.

Really, the whole thing was cobbled together by elves!!!!

Anyway, Kent is now enthused to try another where he actually does the whole thing with me, start to finish. Which is great bec I just don't want to be that "cool older chick across the hall" (his words) who has to watch the parade of women coming in and out for the past three years while I silently lust after him, (in that older-by- 20-years-Mrs-Robinson sort of way) so now, what the hell, we are
"co-constructors"'s part of my evil plan!

Seriously, why not give credit where credit is wasn't like he just said THEGREATPUMPKIN
(altho I wish he had! That's 15!!! And of course we had no idea it would come out at Halloween!)
it was for just one entry, but my
feeling is perhaps the puzzle wouldn't have been accepted without the final line that bests MYTHBUSTERS by a mile!

Speaking of BESTs...thank you for that Beatles clip!!!!!!!!!!!
And yes, I do love me them Beatles...
I gave said Kent, young Southern hunk across the hall (did I mention he is a musician with a James Taylor voice and demeanor? But North Carolina/Austin vibe/charm) all my old albums EXCEPT the Beatles and a few Dylan, Reggae, and my Woody Allen standup record that I was not ready to part with in my dotage...

So thanks for ending on that note...literally! (Insert John whistling here)

Anonymous 7:47 PM  

I find that Emba fellow to be more than odd. Even the name lacks verisimilitude. Mensa, another odd bunch, surely wld. welcome the likes of him.

JannieB 7:50 PM  

@ACME - loved the puzzle, loved the story - but please take pity on poor DK. You are torturing him - and several others, I fear. Rock on sister-friend, but have a heart!

croccan 8:08 PM  

Crossword puzzle blog commenters vs. Mensa! Who needs Yankee/Phillies?

crosscan 8:08 PM  

Crossword puzzle blog commenters vs. Mensa! Who needs Yankee/Phillies?

sanfranman59 8:09 PM  

Hmmm ... I wonder if hunky Kent reads crossword blogs?

Seeing MythBusters (a very cool show, btw) put into the mix reminds me of what I'm told my reaction was when Dad broke the news to me about Santa Claus. Presumably, I said something like, "Hmmm ... OK ... well gee ... this doesn't mean that there isn't an Easter Bunny, does it?"

Two Ponies 8:10 PM  

@ Phil, Our esteemed Mr. Emba is a bit of a mystery to me as well. I think he has mentioned something about mathematics in his background. My personal mental picture is along the lines of a professor at Hogwarts. I mean that as a compliment. Maybe his name is an anagram or something. Sorry to speak of you in the third person William. I always read your comments with interest.

@ Andrea, Thanks for the inside scoop! The juicy details are great. Don't give Mrs. Robinson another thought. Younger men are wonderful! I have mine beat by 10 years and it really works. However across the hall is convenient but has a potential for awkward moments.

Great Mensa story dk!
I have only known one member and she did the same thing as the guy you knew. Her membership managed to ooze into every conversation. Gaak!

@ PlantieBea, I feel your husband's pain. I once scratched my eye on a paper towel! I laid in the dark, heavily sedated for three days. I would rather have shot myself in the foot than endure that.

crosscan croccan 8:10 PM  

Blackberries. Sigh

PIX 8:11 PM  

@Andrea Carla Michaels...great story...thank you for sharing it...(and yes BELIEVEITORNOT is much better).

Anonymous 8:37 PM  

@ dk, You're starting to creep me out. You are beginning to sound like a stalker. When you're not mooning over Acme you are a fun and cool guy. Don't wreck it, man.

Sfingi 9:20 PM  

@Pix and Martin - Thanx Cocaine isn't an opiate. Heroin, morphine, opium are. Not being a user of the stuff, but having read lots about Freud's problems with it, and his attempt to use it to replace other addictions, I mixed up. But, it was an anesthetic for eye operations, and apparently for noses.

@Andrea - what sort of place do you work that you get to sit around writing puzzles? A newspaper? I like both Mythbusters and BELIEVEITORNOT. There's a museum of the later in Niagara Falls, NY. But, I haven't met a museum I didn't like.

@dk - nice story. I know one Menser, and she's OK. Shes an Asperger Menser.

@Anonymous - you creep me out because you're anonymous.

Elaine 9:22 PM  

Weirdly, I once received some postcard or such inviting me to apply to Mensa. I couldn't account for it-- yeah, I had nice GRE scores, but aren't those private?--and the other thing was that, as a special ed teacher, I was generally of the opinion that a person's IQ was not the most important thing about him or her.
So I go to quilt guilds instead. But I wish I were a crossword constructor, now that I see the fun Andrea Cougar Michaels is having!

Anonymous 10:15 PM  

@ Sfingi, Being anon. is cathartic fun. I love the internet!

retired_chemist 10:27 PM  

I had thought that the Emba after Wm. E. stood for Executive MBA. perhaps he will confirm or refute that sometime.

Bill from NJ 10:31 PM  

Thank you, Andrea, for the insight into the puzzle's construction. I always enjoy when constructors weigh in at the blog.

As usual for ACME, a smooth as silk puzzle on a Monday. The number of foks who reported very fast times while praising the construction is a very extraordinary thing.

mac 10:37 PM  

@Bill: we get consistently good puzzles from Andrea, and we love her!

Stan 11:08 PM  

@acme: Thanks for another great episode of "As the Blog Turns."

Also, loved the Mensa anecdotes today in the comments. Sorry to be arrogant, but we are all so much smarter...

Anonymous 11:28 PM  

@retired_chemist said...

Where is Treedweller to remind us how important the "The" is to The University of Texas? I am sure Larry will speak re UC when he comes on....


Never one to disappoint ...

Any true Texan will let you know that that should be "The University of Texas at Austin." As with "The University of California at Berkeley," all the other many UT and UC pretenders (including especially The [much overrated] University of California at Los Angeles) are poor imitations, barely worthy of the name.

(It is universally accepted that Bruins are just undersized Bears; that UCLA's colors -- baby blue and piss yellow -- are pale imitations of the Blue and Gold, and that they have even co-opted Cal's fight song. Grrr!)

More interesting (to me) is this question:

Most of the universities in this category seem to be called "The University of whatever-state." Exceptions that come to mind are Indiana University and New York University. Anyone have others to add to this short list?

Larry the Bear

sanfranman59 11:50 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 5:48, 6:57, 0.83, 15%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:07, 3:42, 0.84, 15%, Easy

sanfranman59 11:50 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 5:48, 6:57, 0.83, 15%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:07, 3:42, 0.84, 15%, Easy

andrea messy michaels 12:04 AM  

It's called non-employment, (ie working from home!) But actually I name things "for a living"...
Shivs and prison riots it is not...
So I'm with you on "Squat and Gobble" worse name for a restaurant EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We have two here in SF.
I'm always tempted to offer to rename it for free/food...but I can't even bring myself to walk in...

What's a pooka? Ah, if only he WERE a clan toy! But as @Two Ponies wisely pointed out, the potential for awkwardness outweighs all (mostly)harmless fantasies! (Altho he IS moving out in 2 months...)

Good gob catch! I am gobsmacked!

May I frame your comment?!

CHENEY snuck in there, as OBAMA wouldn't fit.

@Chefbea...yes about the J/W believe me I tried to sneak in the word JEW just to have a pangram!

@anon 8:37
It's only stalking if the attention is unwanted! Otherwise it's sort of romantic and all in fun! His comments make my day and his stories are fabulous...what more could a gal want?!

puppies and cocaine! I LOVE this blog!!!!!!!!

fergus 12:06 AM  

Oh Larry, don't go all Mensa about our alma mater. A dash of oblique smugness ain't bad, though.

Half the time I'll do the puzzle without noting the author. No surprise in noting after filling in the last square that this elegant effort was from Andrea and friend.

Anonymous 12:17 AM  

@Andrea A pooka is a figment of your imagination - Think Harvey the rabbit. Have no idea what Ulrich was refering to.

slypett 12:28 AM  

This may have been one of the great days of this blog! The stories and comments were fabulous!

andrea pooka michaels 1:54 AM  

@anonymous 12:17
Ulrich was reffing to my /neighbor/collaborator/pooka as a "CLAN TOY" (which is an apropos anagram of CLAYTON.)

Maybe I'll start calling him "pookie" and see how far THAT gets me!

Thanks all!
GOod night!

College Dropout 6:57 AM  

@Lurker0, 9:28 PM -- Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (usually referred to as Rutgers University), is the largest institution for higher education in the state of New Jersey. It was originally chartered as Queen's College in 1766 and is the eighth-oldest college in the United States. Rutgers was originally a private university affiliated with the Dutch Reformed Church and admitted only male students, but evolved into and is presently a nonsectarian, coeducational public research university that makes no religious demands of its students. Rutgers is one of only two colonial colleges that later became public universities. (The other is the College of William and Mary.)

Rutgers was designated The State University of New Jersey by acts of the New Jersey Legislature in 1945 and 1956

Glitch 9:24 AM  

@Larry T Lurker

New York University (NYU) is not part of the state system. I believe the NY refers to the city.

The State University of NY (SUNY) is the state system with many locations e.g SUNY at Albany.


william e emba 11:07 AM  

The University of Pennsylvania is the best known of the private universities with an official state sounding name. Called Penn for short, the university's unofficial slogan is "Not Penn State!"

Elaine 9:00 PM  

The University of Georgia was the FIRST land-grant university in the United States.

Nullifidian 10:13 AM  

From syndication-land:

I'm always surprised and pleased when I breeze through a puzzle Rex rates as "Medium". That was the way I did it this morning. For some reason, I was getting every clue immediately, both down and across. I probably spent longer on today's "easy" sudoku puzzle. In truth, it probably was easy, but I deliberately make sudoku harder by dropping an arbitrary numeral at the start, only filling it in at the last moment.

I like taking my time to solve puzzles of all kinds, and lingering over this crossword with a bagel, hot tea, and Anton Bruckner's "Romantic" Symphony in the background was a perfect way to start my morning.

I smiled at 9D's "Owner of Scrabble" as a clue that appeals to the word-lover in me. I don't play the board game much anymore, but I play it online as Literati.

I also liked 54D's Villa d'ESTE, not as a clue in itself, but because it put me in mind of Liszt's gorgeous "Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este" from the Troisième Année (S. 163), played here by the great Soviet pianist Lazar Berman.

Anonymous 4:07 PM  

the only thing i never seem to understand is how you can rate a monday puzzle like this one as a medium (when really, this was an "easy", a 10-minutes-or-less solve for a regular NYTer), but some thu-fri's get "easy" ratings. you didn't need to know any of the obscure stuff in today's puzzle if you got enough crosses...

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