Talk to Me singer 1985 — SATURDAY, Nov. 28 2009 — Borscht flavorer / Singer/songwriter Sands / Pathology pioneer Sir James

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Constructor: Karen M. Tracey

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: PTARMIGAN (29D: Fully feather-footed flier)n., pl., ptarmigan, or -gans.

Any of various grouses of the genus Lagopus, inhabiting arctic, subarctic, and alpine regions of the Northern Hemisphere and having feathered legs and feet and plumage that is brown or gray in summer and white in winter.

[Alteration (influenced by the spelling in Greek words like pteron, wing) of Scottish Gaelic tarmachan.]


Fell asleep before 10pm last night! Two days of near-constant tryptophan intake finally took its toll. Dinner last night were fried patties made of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and stuffing, topped with wife's astonishingly good gravy (we calculated that we each had about a cup of that stuff yesterday, all told). I'm getting tired just writing about it. So today I awoke just after 5am, refreshed and ready to hit the puzzle. I do Not like doing the puzzle in the morning, esp. on a Saturday. Nighttime is solving / annotating time, morning is writing time. Solving in the morning can make me feel anxious and rushed. But today, no such problem. Pure joy from stem to stern — Karen Tracey is about as on-my-wavelength as any constructor; I find her puzzles not only highly doable, but highly entertaining. A good chunk of the proper nouns were Right in my wheelhouse, esp. STEVIE NICKS (5D: "Talk to Me" singer, 1985). That song is "hello, high school!" I could hear Mike Myers's voice in the clue for SHREK (4D: Title film character who says "Donkey, two things, O.K.? Shut ... up!"), so no problem there. That "K" in "SHREK" was absolute gold, as it made RIKKI TIKKI TAVI a piece of cake to figure out. And when you give away that many "K"s on a Saturday, the puzzle's going to open right up. "K-T" was all I needed to get KATE WINSLET (25D: Six-time Oscar nominee with a 2008 win), and all of a sudden I've got action going in nearly every part of the grid. That SW was about the only part that looked like it might be daunting, but then high school French came to the rescue once again at 51A: _____ froid (be cold: Fr.), and I was done. Faster than yesterday.

NW went down instantly with ERRS to SHREK to ETCH to TACH etc. Only HOVE (20A: Hoisted, as a sail) was at all mysterious to me, and crosses took care of it. RIKKI TIKKI TAVI made the N (via BROOKLET, 8D: A little running water?) and NW (via NEGEV, 12D: It comprises the southern half of Israel) easy to untangle. As I made my way down the grid, I noticed and liked the clues on SCOTTIE (35A: One with a hard, weather-resistant coat) and TEE SHOT (37A: Round opening). Ambiguous, yet accurate. (Speaking of TEE SHOT ... what the hell is going on with Tiger Woods?)

29D: Fully feather-footed flier (ptarmigan) presented the first real problem for me, as I did not know that I knew any words or phrases that started PTA- beside, say, PTA BOARD, PTA MEETING, PTA BAKE SALE, etc. Apparently I thought PTARMIGAN was spelled TERMAGANT, but a TERMAGANT is a "quarrelsome, scolding woman; a shrew." Anyway, I had to abort my downward progress at the "A" in PTARMIGAN and enter the lower portion via KATE WINSLET. Had URCHIN for GOBLIN (45D: Little mischief maker), but OTBS (52A: Some parlors, for short) set that right and the south went down quickly. SE was a little harder, as I went with TOLL BOOTH at first, and then HA HA (and later HO HO) at 63A: No mere chuckle. Once I entertained the "O" in HOHO and guessed "M" as the first letter in MLX (46A: When France's Philip I took the throne), I had THE M----O for 32D: "Pooh-Bah" source, and "THE MIKADO" seemed (and was) the only possible answer. Who knew that OKLA had the redbud as one of its symbols (53A: The redbud is one of its symbols: Abbr.)? Who knew what a "redbud" was? Who kept reading the damned word as "rebud" and wondering what the @#@! that could be? Not me, not me, and me, respectively.

Biggest hitch in the whole puzzle ended up being two little adjacent letters — the "S" in EINS (38D: One abroad) and the "L" in LOBAR (50D: Kind of pneumonia). Had EINE for the first and had never heard of the second. This made seeing PERMISSION SLIP difficult, bordering on impossible. -----SSIONE-IP for 47A: What a student might not go without? Curious. Anyway, I had to work the SW in order to get the front end of PERMISSION, which then allowed me to change E-IP to SLIP. Done and done.


  • 27A: Outdoor signage option (neon lamp) — got the NEON part fine. Wanted only SIGN for the second part.
  • 56A: Borscht flavorer (dill) — Blogger is underlining "flavorer" in red. I haven't had borscht, to my knowledge.
  • 57A: Deity worshiped with much sensuality (Baal) — "Post-Exilic allusions to the cult of Ba'al Pe'or suggest that orgies prevailed" (wikipedia)
  • 58A: 18-season Mariner Martinez (Edgar) — another name that was right in my wheelhouse. He was a prominent ALER in his day (54D: Any pro designated hitter, briefly).
  • 59A: Singer/songwriter Sands (Evie) — Neeeever heard of her. Let's see ... seems to have had Far more success as a songwriter than as a performer. Here she is on the Johnny Cash show ...

  • 47D: Pathology pioneer Sir James _____ (Paget) — Didn't know him. This "G" was the last thing to go in the grid.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Thanksgiving Weekend Bonus Puzzles:
  • 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.


JannieB 8:01 AM  
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Jeffrey 8:24 AM  

THE MIKADO was a gimme. Otherwise, same as Rex all down the line. Karen Tracey is usually trouble for me but not today.

Ruth 8:44 AM  

Of course I immediately put in BEET for borscht flavorer. Shoulda realized it was too obvious, and of course beets are the borscht BASE, rather than a "flavorer". Nice little medical toeholds with PAGET (there are two different things called Paget's disease, and probably more I haven't thought of) and LOBAR. Nice to feel smart for a little while till Rex rates the puzzle as EASY. Thanks, Ms. Tracy!

Elaine 8:46 AM  

It appears that Karen M. Tracey IS trouble for ME. I am taking her name! She didn't have a PERMISSION SLIP.
At least I happen to know what a REDBUD is! Just got OKLA by accident, since THE MIKADO was a gimme. Fooled by getting the SE and a long answer early...
I knew RIKI TIKI TAVI--obviously, I needed more K's in there, and it just went downhill from there. Turned to Google and looked up Callaloo-- and none of the recipes featured OKRA. Didn't know the movies, the actress, the singer, the song-writer, or French.

Rate this one FAIL for me, since that is all the time I had to give to it. Onward.

chefbea 8:47 AM  

Found this much easier than the usual saturday puzzle. Never hear of that bird.

when I saw the word borscht I put in beet. Had that for the longest time

Making turkey soup today yummmmm

PGubanc 9:13 AM  

The northeast corner, Oteri and Plano, specifically, forced me to resort to Google. [sigh] I always feel "unclean" when I have to google any answers. Otherwise, fairly easy romp. Happy Saturday!

edith b 9:56 AM  

I got RIKKITIKKITAVI, oddly enough, off the V in NEGEV and was able to run down the East Coast in short order as the NE was full of odd neons for me. My college roommate was from PLANO Tx and I remember flying into Love Field for Christmas one year to spend the holidays with her and her family and Cheri OTERI us the only actress i know whose name ends in I.

I had KATEWINSLET crossing the Jungle book story and all the East Coast right away but resistance stiffened at that point. I managed to piece together the NW a word at a time and found this one to be a real challenge.

I enjoy Ms Tracey's puzzles but often have a hard time with them as I tend to be weak with what I call Inspired Wordplay that oftentimes dominate a KTM puzzle and today was just one of those days. I managed to finish, yes, but it was not one of my finest moments

Smitty 10:04 AM  

I'm with you PGubanc. The NE got me. Up til then, I'd rate the puzzle "Easy" only for members of Mensa (I'm not one)
I had ANNIE LENNOX of the Eurythmics for singer of "Talk to me"
Had STRIP for cruise place, which I like way more than the correct LINER
The only time I've heard HOVE (past tense of heave) is in the expression GOING HOVE TO (keeping the boat pointed into the wind in a storm). More common parlance for hoisted is HEAVED.

foodie 10:07 AM  

I oscillated between thinking it was very easy and feeling like I was taking stabs in the dark that miraculously turned out to be accurate. In looking at my completed puzzle, I can see whole areas (NE, SW) with no writeovers. Rare for a Saturday.

So, far, I feel that Will is being a great host this holiday weekend, providing delicious fare, with a little DILL on top.

Rex, I have to try these patties of yours! And I enjoy all the tryptophan talk -- makes me realize how that bit of scientese has gotten into the mainstream.

Rex Parker 10:14 AM  

MENSAns love STEVIE NICKS, it's true.

joho 10:14 AM  

Lots to like in this puzzle. Love RAZORBACK next to RCAVICTOR.

Was definitely an easy Saturday but also entertaining with lots of fresh words, PATARMIGAN being one of them!

Get write-up @Rex and so nice to see you in such a great mood. Your turkey, gravy intake has done you good. Also thanks for the wonderful STEVIENICKS clip.

@chefbea ... I, too, am making turkey soup today for dinner tonight ... can't wait!

Oh, and thank you Karen M. Tracy!

PlantieBea 10:14 AM  

Oh jeez, I thought it was easy and found an error when I came here. Had ELIE/UNITILE in the EVIE/UNITIVE spot. If I had spelled the Jungle Book story RIKKI with two K's off the bat, instead of RIKIE, etc., it would have been that much easier. In other areas, I first tried LOBAL for the pneumonia, HESS for ESSO, BAHL for BAAL, BEET for DILL. I knew the REDBUD because they are native here--beautiful pink flowers.

We live very close to Tiger W. Helicoptors hovered ALL afternoon and into the night over his house; newscasters set up trucks outside the entrance to his subdivision. Doubtless they'll be back today. Why? All to photograph a displaced fire hydrant and a tire track on a neighbor's lawn. This was headline news on this morning's BBC report and naturally the Orlando Sentinel. Reporters, leave the guy alone! He was obviously heading out to the early Friday AM sales, right?

Thanks for the puzzle Karen Tracey, and again the excellent write-up, Rex.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:15 AM  

Medium at least for me - or maybe that was because I was on the phone half the time.

Just two write-overs: Had PEER before CZAR (too lazy to look it up, but surely a Czar outranks a Baron by a few levels?) and, as others, tried BEET before DILL.

I understand STYX as Final course?, but somehow it seems to call for a tiny bit more specificity.

Ruth 10:22 AM  

Is turkey not meat?
But then, where do vegetarians go for a tryptophan fix?

Pooh-Bah 10:26 AM  

Don't mention it. I am, in point of fact, a particularly haughty and exclusive person, of pre-Adamite ancestral descent. You will understand this when I tell you that I can trace my ancestry back to a protoplasmal primordial atomic globule. Consequently, my family pride is something inconceivable. I can't help it. I was born sneering. But I struggle hard to overcome this defect. I mortify my pride continually. When all the great officers of State resigned in a body because they were too proud to serve under an ex-tailor, did I not unhesitatingly accept all their posts at once?

Leslie 10:28 AM  

I was stuck, stuck, stuck in the SW, since I impulsively wrote in "ptarosaur," thinking maybe "Callaloo ingredient" would somehow go French on me and I'd have to change OKRA to "okre" (yes, I know I'm inventing faux-French words), thus making a valid "pterosaur" entry. Okay, I admit I was desperate.

On the east coast, I held on to "toll booth" for far too long. Wanting "viral" instead of LOBAR made that SE corner slow to appear. Also, "The Mikado" would NOT enter my mind. I was determined that the source for "Pooh Bah" must be Kipling, because of RIKKI TIKKI TAVI!

And, just to round out my embarrassment, I wrote in EDIE Sands, and came here to find out what the heck "unitide" means.

So. Not covered with glory this morning. But I did enjoy the puzzle. My favorite answers were RAZORBACK and SCOTTIE.

retired_chemist 10:36 AM  
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retired_chemist 10:44 AM  

Not easy for me. Medium-difficult but worth it in the end. I am not one of those on KMT's wavelength.

Spent a lot of time looking at vast white areas. Had hoped I had left that behind when I moved south to TX.

Speaking of which, I lived in Plano for 25 or so years and didn't fill it in until I had the N from NEGEV. (TMI - There were Allen, Wylie, Lavon, Heath, and MORE to consider...)

The answers emerged slowly in ways similar to the above. 5A BOAR, 56A BEET, 57A EROS, and 48D ELUDE had to be fixed with crosses.

50D BASAL ditto, but I was prepared for the crosses to dictate LOBAR. That gave me Florida, which made THE MIKADO and TOLL PLAZA gimmes. (Did THE Beatles ever do THE Mikado? Wanna see THAT!)

Finally, with a few more crosses, RIKKI TIKKI TAVI, PTARMIGAN, and PERMISSION SLIP emerged, which picked up the pace a bit.

Thank you, Ms. Tracey. You challenged me and I enjoyed battling you to what I consider a draw.

mccoll 10:49 AM  

Aha! Great puzzle Karen Tracey! Filled with misdirection such as PRELIM, ETCH, and SHAKE. Still very gettable(?) The NE is a bit of a Nattick for me with PLANO, ASANA and OTERO but French came to the rescue with ETAGE (and AVOIR) No googles and no errors.
Thanks RP and all. Seems Turkey Day goes on and on.

Two Ponies 10:54 AM  

I suppose this one was Medium for me because of a slow-down in the NE.
Thanks Smitty, That's the voice I was hearing too.
Very fun puzzle.
Funny how one man's gimme ....
Mine were ptarmigan and RCA Victor. However toll booth instead of plaza and eine instead of eins made permission e??b.
Oh no, not another dreaded e-word please! But it got sorted out.
The NE had a French word, two proper names, and a place in Israel. Pulled Negev out of thin air and somehow I was done.
Time in Jamaica taught me that there is no set recipe for callaloo. It's tropical stew. Throw in whatever is on hand. Sort of like the turkey soup I, too, will be stirring up later.

Leslie 10:54 AM  

@Retired Chemist: What's up with the pups? Are they all spoken for now?

CoolPapaD 10:56 AM  

Anytime I can finish a Saturday without Googling, it automatically goes into my "loved it" category -I really did love this one! Like @Leslie, I had VIRAL first, and I also fell into the "ANNIE LENNOX" trap like @Smitty.

I'd have finished sooner if I got rid of TUITION PAYMENT sooner.

I did finish with one error, ELIE/UNITILE, but if PlantieBea did the same, I'm in fine company, and it's still a wonderful day!

Ben 11:09 AM  

Not difficult for a Saturday but enjoyable.

A Gore 11:31 AM  

TOTALLY easy for a Saturday. Unless of course you get all sorts of nit-picky about actually having a correctly filled out grid. Florida was a mess of LUBAR/UCLA/MICADO/?? Never did like Forida. Seriously, I truly hate Florida. MFers can't even count. We should cut them loose, let them form a confedaration with Puerto Rico as our cousin country. Anything to get rid of Florida.

Greene 11:45 AM  

Hard for me today, and I'm not sure why as I look at the completed grid. I started out so well too with three almost immediate answers: SHREK leading to RIKKI TIKKI TAVI leading to KATE WINSLET. With traction like that, I should have been able to devour this beast. Sadly no...just lots and lots of staring. I did get it finished eventually, but my what a struggle. At least I see no errors in my grid (and I didn't Google). Sure hope the LAT is a little easier for me today.

Stan 11:50 AM  

Completely struck out on this, but enjoyed reading the correct answers ("D'oh!"), the write-up and the comments.

And it's always welcome when Al Gore posts -- hey, thanks for the Internet!

ArtLvr 11:54 AM  

This took much time and cogitation this morning, along with coffee breaks, but it came out right in the end. I think of HOVE as in "hove into view", not the "heave ho" of hoisting sails, but will LET IT PASS.

Guessed at the year Philip I "the Amorous" became titular king of France, at age seven, with mother as regent until he was 14. He sired the needed heir with his first wife but pulled off a switch anyway, then had exconmmunication problems throughout his long reign, which he shrugged off to the end. I guess he was UNITIVE in a very narrow sense!

Many thanks to Karen for an excellent workout, and to Rex the Blog King for the amusing write-up.


p.s. As Johnny Cash was mentioned today, I'd note that I just saw a bit of him on TV last night singing "train keeps rollin' down to SAN ANTONE"!

slypett 12:03 PM  

Whatever Elaine says is okay by me.

Now, Rex, about that Evie Sands clip. She has a brilliant blues voice and fine guitar style. I wonder what held her back from the bright lights.

Manoj 12:07 PM  


I think there is a mistake in the puzzle. Kate Winslet won the Oscar in 2009, not in 2008.

Andrew R 12:31 PM  

Winslet received her Oscar in 2009, but the ceremony that she won at was the 2008 Oscars. Yeah, it's a little confusing.

There is a surefire error in the cluing, however. ALERs are definitely *not* the only DHs out there. Hello, interleague play? Or in the World Series, when the American League team is at home, the National League team can use a designated hitter. The clue should have read something like "any pro designated hitter, usually."

Good puzzle, though. I usually struggle mightily with Tracey's puzzles; I think my 15 minutes was about the quickest I've done a puzzle from her.

Meg 12:35 PM  

We took mother-in-law to the airport and my reward for surviving was today's puzzle, which was NOT EASY! I couldn't get The Flintstones out of my head for "Pooh-Bah source". The Mikado is a perfect example of a musical I've never seen, but whose music I know.

I had THE BELL for "Round opening", which I thought was pretty cool until it was wrong.

I certainly wasn't thinking of a dog with a "hard coat" and my hand is up for BEET and BOAR.

This was a wonderful challenge! Thanks Karen.

retired_chemist 12:42 PM  

@ Leslie - one female puppy left. Waiting list for the boy. We are keeping back one more or a show home but we will not evaluate for that for 2 more weeks.

Clark 12:45 PM  

I totally crashed in the SW. Had TRILL for 'shake' and BLAST for 'time of one's life'. Didn't see PTARMIGAN or PERMISSION. Forgot that in Fr. you have cold rather than being it. As my punishment I will take on the task of explaining the award thing. Oh, I see in Preview that Andrew R beat me to it. It's gonna be one of those days.

SethG 12:52 PM  

Tougher for me. I entered SPEED TRAP with no crosses, then I had the TOLLBOOTH. And VIRAL, and EINE. Not "rebud", but "rosebud".

SW almost killed me, too--I had EVADE/ROUGE and EDGAR, but then nothing else. Couldn't get GAUGE, never heard of AIRER for a drying rack, then add in a doctor I don't know, some Fr., and PTARxxxAx? Yuck.

TV Guide once called Razorback "Arguably the best movie ever made about a large, man-eating hog."

Anonymous 12:52 PM  

That was fun, but at least a medium for me. Opposite of Rex re yesterday and today - thought yesterday was much easier.
Got "Talk to Me" singer off the crosses, but then could not believe it. The song that was in my head was definitely not a Stevie Nicks song. Maybe it's listening to too much Cleveland radio, but around here "Talk to Me" means Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. It's also a much better song, IMO. The audio is at the top link on this search.

treedweller 1:08 PM  

Since I cower at the sight of Ms. Tracey's name, I didn't spend a lot of time staring at this one before I turned to google. As it happened, I only needed to steal a couple of answers (including STEVIENICKS, who I definitely should have known, but I just couldn't place the voice in my head--now if I could only replace it).

Hand up for "beet" instead of DILL. When I found EPISODES and looked at D__T, I considered "dirt" (no fan of beets am I), but I knew that would not be it.

My biggest regret was when I had to remove "pay toilet" for "where the going rate is charged." I wasn't surprised (probably could have heard people shouting "Breakfast test!" all the way down here in TX), but I was still disappointed.

Oh, and hand up for knowing what a redbud (Cercis canadensis) is. But then, you probably knew that.

nanpilla 1:19 PM  

I was intimidated when I saw the constructor's name, then was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it filled in. Would have been faster if I hadn't put in annie lennox right off the bat. Also had to change uniting to UNITIVE. Also started with rascal for GOBLIN.
@treedweller : pay toilet absolutely cracked me up! That is perfect for that clue, and would have made the whole puzzle!

Anonymous 1:21 PM  

A nice Saturday jaunt- great write up. UNITIVE??!! Bah Humbug

mac 1:25 PM  

An easy-medium for me, but I enjoyed every minute of this workout. I also found out I had a mistake with Elie/unitile (where is the accent in unitive?), and had some false starts with addle for evade and beet for dill.

I really liked episode, prelim, RCAVictor and razorback. Never heard of asana, but that corner wasn't a problem otherwise.

"Talk to me" immediately put "Poetry Man" by Phoebe Snow into my head, not a bad thing, but Stevie took a little longer because of it.

Thanks Karen Tracey, beautiful themeless!

edmcan 3:04 PM  

Definitely not on my wavelength at all. I had trouble with this @#*! puzzle.

andrea ptermagent michaels 3:19 PM  

I had to Google TWELVE times. 12!

I am mistaken for Annie Lennox twice a day..."Talk to me, like lovers do,
TALK TO ME..." and she fits! and she has an X!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
and it's like the same year!!!!!!!

Pooh-bah=Flintstones for me too.

And I was so proud when I put in F*^king BEET, SINAI, and knew SCORSESE had been nominated umpteen times before winning...

Apparently I have never read a book, seen a musical, listened to a song, nor gone to a film with a K in it. :(
Pooh! Bah!

I hope A. Gore is getting some residuals!

fergus 3:23 PM  

Oops, another ELIE. Whole streets lined with Redbuds here, though they all come out with purple flowers.

Criterion and GAUGE took a while to admit, but cannot complain. And now that I know that I smooth, as well as trim with my ADZE, there's yet more work to do.

Meg 3:33 PM  

I saw Rex's EASY rating and felt disappointed. How could this be EASY? Not even MEDIUM? But I feel much better now after reading all the comments. Sometimes a puzzle just fits your "knowledge set". Today I struggled through.

@treedweller: Really, PAY TOILET is excellent!

joho 3:40 PM  

@Seth G ... I hope that movie about the man-eating hog wasn't just the best, but also the only!

Of course, that was the reviewer's way of being nice, I'm sure. Or totally snarky in the guise of niceness. Whatever, it's funny: thanks!

George NYC 3:42 PM  

I too was convinced Annie Lennox was correct for the longest time, for all the reasons you state (except for the mistaken-for part). Great clue, dammit!

Van55 3:54 PM  

One has to imagine what must be going on in the puzzle-maker's mind. "I'm stuck with a random Roman numeral to complete the grid. How should I clue it? I could use a little arithmetic problem, but that's annoying. So I will make it a year and look up what happened in -- in this case -- 1060. Aha! That's the year Philip I became king of France. Perfect!"


Also, I thought the consensus is that ALER and NLER are bogus answers.

Steve J 3:56 PM  

Glad to see I wasn't the only one who kept reading "rebud" and wondering what the hell a rebud could possibly be.

I also went down the Annie Lenox trail for a while (which is nothing like "hiking the Appalachian Trail"), even though it didn't feel quite right (which proved to be right when I later remembered the line is from "Here Comes the Rain Again"). (And I cannot for the life of me remember the Stevie Nicks song, even after the You Tube clip. Which makes no sense, as I was in high school in '85. Maybe I'd already started my no-top-40 snobbery by then.)

imsdave 4:20 PM  

I wanted to comment earlier in the day, but was hesitant. It's a rare Saturday that I ace the puzzle (sub-15 in this case). Suffice it to say, for me, this was the day a 160 bowler rolled a 280.

I believe this falls under the blind squirrel theory.

foodie 5:04 PM  

@Treedweller: It's now two days in a row that you made me ROAR!

@Seth G, I thought of your love of French as I did this : )

@Ruth, lots of tryptophan in spirulina... I guess it doesn't taste great with cranberry sauce.

Finally did Andrea and Doug's puzzle for Rex!! Fun-tastic!

Doc John 5:16 PM  

I did 3/4 of the puzzle handily enough but had to put it down and come back later to do the SW. (It wasn't even PTARMIGAN that caused the problem- I knew that from a ski run at (I think) Aspen.) Finally got EVADE and the puzzle fell.
Made all the mistakes listed above including how to fit The Flintstones into too few squares.
And Ruth beat me to the medical explanations but I don't think I knew that Dr. Paget was a pathologist.
Finally, what's this about a SCOTTIE having a hard coat? They seem soft enough to me!

retired_chemist 5:23 PM  

@ Ruth - I suppose vegetarians buy their tryptophan as such at health food stores. Forgot I was going to say that earlier.

Elaine 5:32 PM  

I feel SO much better knowing that Andrea (Termagant + Ptarmigan?--I think that's a new word!) Michaels had to Google. If I had had time, no doubt I would have googled 12 times! Now I am home and salving my wounded spirit by reading about others who were crushed by the puzzle!

I have a small redbud that I need to transplant OUT of my herb garden, in case anyone would like to drive to Conway, Arkansas. A REDBUD is a lovely tree that flowers in spring before the heart-shaped leaves erupt; and the buds are not red, but rather a bright fuchsia shade of pink. If you try to cut the new tree instead of digging it out, by the way, it will REBUD.

Joe 5:40 PM  

Enjoyed it a lot. It was a little easy, but the South challenged me quite a bit.

My real reason for commenting, though: Ditto Doc John! I'm still scratching my head about the SCOTTIE with the hard coat..... Can someone enlighten me?

Hudson Viewer 5:40 PM  

This is the first time I used Rex's page and found it wonderful. I'm not in these bloggers' league but I try.

I was a little confused by the use of the word "the" with Mikado. I know that it's the name of the operetta but I thought the word was generally not used in puzzles. For example, should we expect to see "The" Caine Mutiny? Just a technical observation.

As for the song "Talk to me," I confess I immediately went back to the Frank Sinatra rendition which was much different than the Stevie Nicks version. I struggled with
Stevie and thought Stevie Wonder might be my solution. That certainly didn't work.

Also, neon "lamp" is pretty unusual usage. I opted for "lite."which was not helpful.

I don't think I ever really had a chance on this one but the blog gives me hope for the future.

Rex Parker 5:47 PM  

Dear Hudson Viewer,

Welcome. To answer your question, no, "THE" is not forbidden. Not terribly common, but not forbidden, esp. where titles are concerned. Phrase has to need it to be complete, though. THE MOB is a thing. THE CAT isn't.

Coincidentally, just had an exchange with a constructor about his puzzle, in which he has chosen to play a little fast and loose with articles (sometimes there, sometimes not) — to Great effect, but I have this thing about consistency ... :)

retired_chemist 5:50 PM  

@ SCOTTIE fanciers:

From the AKC Scottish Terrier Breed Standard:

"General Appearance

The Scottish Terrier is a small, compact, short-legged, sturdily-built dog of good bone and substance. His head is long in proportion to his size. He has a hard, wiry, weather-resistant coat.....:

Two Ponies 6:07 PM  

@ r_c, As a dog fancier myself I did not blink at the "hard coat" clue and I'm sure you did not either. Thanks for looking it up for us.

sanfranman59 7:00 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 7:13, 6:55, 1.04, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 9:49, 8:40, 1.13, 81%, 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
Sat 29:03, 29:35, 0.98, 49%, Medium

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, 21%, Easy-Medium
Sat 15:58, 17:09, 0.93, 36%, Easy-Medium

I was surprised at Rex's Easy rating and I feel somewhat vindicated that the masses found this puzzle to be more in the Medium range.

Like others, I just couldn't get the Eurythmics "Here Comes the Rain Again" lyric out of my head. That period's not quite in my wheelhouse, but it's certainly in the strike zone. Being unilingual, I don't care for my English language crossword puzzles having more than one non-English answer that's not part of the common vernacular (no problem with EINS, not so much with ETAGE and AVOIR). I also had a minor nit to pick with the clue for CPU (40A: Hi-tech heart). A CPU is more akin to a brain than a heart.

Tetu 7:29 PM  

OK, I had many of the same mistakes as others but almost finished. Ptarmigan was the gimme for me as was rikki tikki tavi after I figured out how to spell it. But, what is OTBS? and how is it "some parlors"?

SueRohr 7:56 PM  

I've been lurking for a while and now have the confidence to write as I see that I am doing as well as at least some of the people here. My problem is I'm slow! I often get the puzzle done, but it's put it down, pick it up repeated several times over. Anyway to Tetu: OTB stands for off track betting which takes place in what are referred to as parlors.

jae 8:07 PM  

Easy-challenging for me. I had many of the same missteps as REX (e.g. EINE) but got killed in the SW. Didn't know the bird, the ball player, the French, or the doctor, so I finally took PTARM to my dictionary and found the bird and slowly finished. Good Sat. workout and a fun puzzle!

fergus 8:19 PM  

Liked the Rex B-Day puzzle, too. Especially the ostentatious random circles (though I did eventually understand).

Tetu 9:00 PM  

So, I did the birthday puzzle and don't understand the ?random? circles--and I can't find a place where the answers are. But, then, maybe today is just a slow-brain day!

chefbea 9:04 PM  

@tetu unscramble the circles

Schmidtenor 9:07 PM  

Only stumble for me was confusing ETAPE (stage in the Tour de France) with ETAGE. Had no clue about NEGEV, so NEPEV looked just as likely. Oh well, coming within one on Saturday is pretty good for me.

mac 9:59 PM  

@SueRohr: welcome! You need to know that we all started this way.

B_4 10:00 PM  

Evie Sands is such an inspired entry! She 's a legend in her own time. Check out her 1999 album WOMEN IN PRISON! and check out her work with the Adam Marsland Chaos Band....THEY ROCK!!!! The lady, Evie Sands, is amazing!

dk 11:16 PM  

Got the left side and middle, failed on the right. Had the THEbell for round opening... punch drunk I guess.

And, thats all i have to say.

*** (3 Stars).

Stan 12:31 AM  

@B_4, @Schmidtenor, @Tetu, @SueRohr, @Hudson Viewer, @Joe:

Great to see some new (to me) names on the blog!

Interesting comments, all.

andrie lennox michaels 1:59 AM  

I guess we should post the answers to the bday puzzle somewhere? But NOT the answer to the circles!!!!
They'll have to work for that ;)

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