Subject of documentary Smart Television — WEDNESDAY, Dec. 16 2009 — Partner of jeweler Van Cleef / Leggy wader / Crusading journalist Nellie

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: HEADs and TAILs — theme answers originating on left side of the grid have first words that can follow "HEAD" in familiar phrases, and theme answers that terminate on the right side of the grid have last words that can precede "TAIL" in familiar phrases

Word of the Day: Salomon ARPELS (31D: Partner of jeweler Van Cleef)Van Cleef & Arpels is a French jewellery, watch, and perfume company that was founded in 1896 by Salomon Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef. They opened their first boutique in 1906 at 22 place Vendôme, Paris. Van Cleef & Arpels are renowned for their expertise in precious stones and have won particular acclaim for a groundbreaking gem-setting procedure known as the Mystery Setting. (wikipedia)


Wow, this is pretty impressive. I can't say it was the most enjoyable solve of my life, but at least some of that is due to the fact that I solve on-screen and my software doesn't allow me (easily) to see very long clues, and so with both HEAD (10D: Apt attachment to the starts of 14-, 17-, 35- and 43-Across) and TAIL (51D: Apt attachment to the ends of 30-, 37-, 59- and 62-Across), I had no clear view of the whole clue and assumed I could safely ignore it and get what I needed from crosses — it's only Wednesday, after all. Plus, I was reading "Apt" as "Apt." in the clue, and wondering what it was one could possibly attach to one's apartment. Yeesh. The one huge downside of Black Ink (solving software, which, in many ways, I love) is that the clue window can only be resized so much and you have to hover your cursor over a long clue in order to see all of it, and that action is *not* instant at all and so I rarely bother. But enough about software weaknesses. The puzzle was just Harder than normal. The clues on GARR and TOLSTOY are good examples of how the difficulty seems to have been deliberately ramped up. I could name ten Teri GARR films and never name "Dumb and Dumber." I could name ... well, two Tolstoy novels and never name "The Cossacks." I'm not faulting, just remarking. I really think this is quite an impressive puzzle — it's like two puzzles in one, and makes me never want to do another "words that can follow" / "words that can precede" puzzle again (sad, as I've got one sitting here that I finished just last night, HA ha).

Theme answers:

  • 14A: Othello, for one (BOARD game)
  • 17A: Help for a pioneer (LAND grant) — went with LAND GRABS, initially. Seemed ... apt.
  • 35A: Offering from the front desk (ROOM key)
  • 43A: Unable to hear (STONE deaf)

  • 30A: Experiment subject (guinea PIG)
  • 37A: Classic Steinbeck story, with "The" ("Red PONY")
  • 59A: T-shaped pullover (polo SHIRT) — didn't like clue. Can't see the "T" without hurting brain / lying to self.
  • 62A: Animated TV character with buck teeth (SpongeBOB)
The one bad answer in the puzzle is comically bad, and thus I forgive it: THE PO (9A: It flows through Turin)! If your river doesn't fit, just put "THE" in front of it! Instant new answer. You could change ONALOG (13D: How a bump may appear) to ANALOG and clue 9A as [Husband of the ma] — results would only be slightly sillier. My biggest trouble in this puzzle came at the ARPELS / LAS / LION nexus. LAS would've been a gimme, but I had always heard "ARPEL" — at least that's what I was hearing in my head — so I just made the answer ARPELL. Stupid silent French terminal "S"! That had me wondering if there was a VAL Palmas (no, no, all kinds of no), and well, forget about seeing LION for 49D: Brave one. Just wasn't on the radar. Had to crush that part of the grid by gaining momentum from the opposite (west) end. WALLOPS helped me do the crushing — WALLOPS (41D: Heavy blows) and ERROR-PRONE (11D: Likely to slip) are the big Win answers of the day.

  • 26A: Milne hopper (Roo) — why did this make me think THUMPER?
  • 54A: Four-time platinum album of 2001 ("J-Lo") — looked at the answer I had here and wondered how I'd missed an album called "GLO." Some day I will learn to spell JIBE correctly (54D: Be in accord). Oh, wait, GIBE means JIBE ... Never mind. I'm doomed.
  • 16A: Leggy wader (heron) — Gonna see if I can't find a pic of a different kind of leggy wader ... here we go. This lady appears to have found a shell while she was ... wading.
  • 6D: Subject of the documentary "Smart Television" (Paar) — again, as with GARR and TOLSTOY, Bizarro Cluing.
  • 8D: Half brother of Ivan V (Peter I) — with the Russians I just figure it'll be IVAN or PETER + some Roman numeral. I just wait it out.
  • 9D: Active ingredient in marijuana: Abbr. (THC) — also the future Marijuana-inspired TV station: The High Channel. Or was it The Hemp Channel? I forget.
  • 56D: Gambling venues (OTBs) — Off-Track Betting ESTBlishments (57A: Foundation abbr.)
  • 58D: Crusading journalist Nellie (Bly) — such a great, old-fashioned, adventurous name. A swashbuckling name. Best known for traveling around the world in record time and pretending to be insane in order to write about a mental institution from within.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Elaine 8:06 AM  

Is everyone sleeping in or something?

I rate this Medium bordering on Easy, actually. But I solve on paper with pen, which def helps given the travails of software (apparently. I've never tried.)

I thought the phrases were slightly less common, therefore more interesting; the clues were fresh; and I enjoyed this. The last to go in was K in KARLA, which turns out to be wrong. Personal Natick? Hmmm, why do you people know the active ingredient in marijuana??? Tsk

Eels eat frogs? Herons do, but eels? Eeewwwww.
Thanks, Mr. Kahn! Thanks, Rex!

David 8:29 AM  

Yes, I'm with Rex on the JIBE/GIBE quandary. JLO is only slightly more understandable to me than GLO as something to be on a recording - does anyone who does Times Crossword puzzles listen to JLO?

And for some reason I just wanted HERON to be HURON - which made me speculate about adding HUAC (of the McCarthy era) as a front to Board, Line, etc.

It is Wednesday after all....

P.S. Thanks to ArtLvr for his amusing way to tie Isao to Aoki yesterday.

bko 8:54 AM  

I'm with you Elaine- I thought this was mighty easy for a Wednesday puzzle. It was "old-fashioned" in a NYT x-word puzzle kind of way- very few pop culture references. Is there a pattern emerging here? I'm beginning to think that what older folks find easy, younger folks find harder, and vice-versa. (No offense meant if you are a youngster, Elaine.)

Denise Ann 8:56 AM  

Just came by to say thanks so much for the daily blog -- I haven't had time for the comments section, but I will return!

Happy holidays to the crossword community.

I am glad that this puzzle was listed at m/c because it took me a while.

nanpilla 9:10 AM  

It's two, two, two themes in one!

This annoyed me last night, because it felt like two themes squashed into one puzzle. Then I took the time to circle the theme answers, and noticed how the HEADS clues were left justified, and the TAILS clues were right justified, and I thought "cool!". Would have been even better if it had a central answer that fit both categories, like room fan or something. On second thought, that's not a very good one, so maybe there wasn't anything that worked as well as what is there.

Like HEAD next to THC.
Don't like REOIL.
Hate that I can make niether head nor tail out of gibe, jibe. I'll never be able to figure out which one to use.

retired_chemist 9:11 AM  

Medium-challenging here. A couple of minutes slower than expected. Theme was well done. Overall a fun solve with more to think about than the usual Wednesday puzzle offers.

As an organic chemist I have perfectly legitimate reasons for knowing that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the stuff that makes pot pot. :=)

Re 9A - too bad the term eponym is not derived from a famous onomastician named T. H. EPO.

Wondered why I had never heard of the Steinbeck story, The RED PONT. D'oh - TDS could be YDS....

Thanks, Mr. Kahn. More please.

PIX 9:12 AM  

Did not seem that hard for a Wed. (but I am of an older age group)

I couldn't believe I never heard of a river in Italy called Thepo, until you explained: The Po (as Rex noted, a bad answer)

@ 64A: "Guinness suffix" = est...does est mean "established" and if so, does that really make it a suffix?...i thought a suffix had to be part of the word, but I guess not.

ArtLvr 9:17 AM  

Rex says "Oh, wait, GIBE means JIBE" -- but to me a Gibe would be a snide or pointed Goring remark with the G, while JIBE is a Joining in agreement with a J -- or a sailing manoeuvre Just the opposite of "coming about" (I didn't look it up, though). Having a SEND-UP in there too was fun.

I wasn't sure of the French First Lady, so I ended up with CARLA as Darla -- darn it. Maybe I should have remembered both CARLA and THC but I just said no, not a Marla. I was doing this in the wee hours, with the anniversary re-airing of Gone With the Wind on, so I was more ERROR-PRONE. Woe.

I did admire the double theme with eight theme answers, not overlapping -- if you were using BOARD in BOARDGAME, then you weren't using GAME as part of the theme, etc. How'd Kahn PULL that off? SLYLY, with your tugs on a PIG Tail or PONY Tail earning you WALLOPS...

Fabulous puzzle, all in all -- I did know THE PO, as ARNO was a no-go, and I didn't even mind the SPONGEBOB. Kudos to Kahn!


@ David -- I'm glad you enjoyed my mnemonic. The rest of it involved fitting in the consonants from Saki, in order... ISAO AOKI.

Parshutr 9:19 AM  

For some bizarre reason (perhaps because I work for Michigan State University) LANDGRANT just jumped into my head, as did BOARDGAME, STONEDEAF and POLOSHIRT. So I'd go with PIX and call this Easy/Medium.
One caution: when I studied Attic Greek 55 years ago, I learned that HOI=THE and POLLOI=MOB. So it really frosts me to hear or read "The Hoi Polloi".
End of rant.

Parshutr 9:21 AM  

@retired chemist. I too have a legitimate reason for knowing that THC makes pot pot...I can read and I did inhale.

ArtLvr 9:23 AM  

p.s. thanks to R_Chemist for the Cannabis hint! "THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)"


The Corgi of Mystery 9:26 AM  

Medium for me. I didn't read the theme revealer carefully while I was solving either and thought that both HEAD and TAIL could precede all the theme answers (HEADBOARD/TAILBOARD seemed to suggest that). The real theme was, of course, much better. Fill was also pretty good considering the theme density.

Glitch 9:30 AM  


Think "Guinness [Book of World Records] suffix"


dk 9:34 AM  

@retired_chemist, same problem with Steinbeck until lovely wife leans over and sez: "Pony!"

I liked this puzzle ALOT. I have no problem with THEPO and no problem with our blog-meister, and erstwhile constructor, writing: "now if I had done this one."

The frogs did not have a chance in this puzzle. EELS, HERONS and lab experiments all equal DEAD, and confirm its not easy being green.

SPONGEBOB, as you might imagine, holds a sacred place in the dk household. Last year artist brother created a last supper scene replacing the original heads with cartoon character heads. SPONGEBOB had the place of honor. We expanded, after a fair amount of nog, the offering to include Snidely Whiplash as Pontius Pilate and Marge Simpson as Mary but our Mom made us stop. Younger sister is an Evangelical and she was laughing so hard Champagne was coming out of her nose. Just goes to show anyone can enjoy a paddle on the river Styx.

**** (4 Stars) Perfect Wednesday.

Thank you David (Aga) Kahn

Bart Simpson 9:35 AM  

Tell Spongebob to stay out of my puzzle.

mac 9:37 AM  

A very good Wednesday, an interesting Medium for me. The guinea pig and the gay apparel gave me a little trouble (nice that Guinness was in the puzzle as well, with its answer "est" (@PIX: the Guinness Book of Records "est).
I had tds for yds as well. Teasel is a cute new word for me.

@David: P.S. Artlvr is a lady!

duaneu 9:47 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 9:48 AM  

Thanks, Mac -- You wouldn't believe the tons of emails I used to get offering porn, because of the "ArtLvr"! Must be a male mail thing...


Judith 9:50 AM  

Thanks for enlightening me on the est answer for Guinness. I just kept thinking of the beer. When you combine that with the fact that THC was a gimme, I guess I misspent my youth, middle age, whatever...

duaneu 9:51 AM  

I loved seeing the picture of the stone pig in Avila. I have picture I took from almost the same spot when I was in Spain.

OldCarFudd 9:53 AM  

Two interlocking themes? No crappy fill? (I don't mind an occasional "The Po" if it makes a great puzzle work.) Mostly fresh fill? On a WEDNESDAY??? WOW!!! I thought one was brilliant.

Hand up for GIBE/GLO - I wouldn't know a platinum album if they melted down the platinum and turned it into nose rings. Can "slily" be an acceptable alternate spelling for "slyly"? 'Cause Tolstoy is sometimes spelled with an "I", and this crossing could work with either spelling, which is very unusual.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:59 AM  

Very impressive puzzle, but, as noted, even more so with hindsight. I knew THEPO would get a mention, but that was a small price to pay for the overall result.

I finished pen on paper with one mistake, GLO for JLO. One write-over, working on the "L" from LEOTOLSTOY, had OWL before EEL.

I had assumed that 18A was a shout-out to Andrea What's-Her-Middle-Name? Michaels. :)

Just recently we had a clue that suggested landing on PayDay was the only way to collect $200 in Monopoly, and today 46 D suggests that every time you round a corner in Monopoly you have PASSedGO!

slypett 10:17 AM  

When I finished, I said, "Wow! What an easy Wednesday!" It was a lively solve that had me bouncing gleefully from clue to clue (I'm not a straight-ahead bee, but go from flower to flower haphazardly).

dk: Entertaining story. That's quite a family you have!

Bart Simpson: You have every right to be good and mad.

joho 10:23 AM  

Oh, what a wonderful Wednesday! Just what I was hoping for yesterday. Thank you, David Kahn! the HEAD/TAIL theme was new and I'm sure, not easy to pull off.

My only bump was RANsom before RANGED.

When I was done I did wonder though, was PETER I STONEDEAF to PLEAS from the Hoi POLLOI?

Doug 10:28 AM  

How refreshing to not have ALGA in the puzzle for a change. And chalk up another RED PONT for this poorly read puzzler.

Nice lead in puzzle for the rest of the week!

Two Ponies 10:33 AM  

Hand up for THC gimme.
Great theme execution Mr. Kahn.
I did notice that Head can go with both parts of 14A so I was a little confused for a moment. Head board and head game.
With only two letters in it's name that river can only appear in a crossword with "the."
I did not know that eels ate frogs so we got a fresh clue for a frequent answer.

Two Ponies 10:35 AM  

P.S. I hate that Steinbeck story.

PlantieBea 10:36 AM  

What a great puzzle. Loved the theme and the way the themed answers were arranged left and right. Thanks David Kahn.

I didn't know TEASEL, and found from Wikipedia, "Dipsacus is a genus of flowering plant in the family Dipsacaceae. The members of this genus are known as teasel or teazel or teazle. The genus includes about 15 species of tall herbaceous biennial plants (rarely short-lived perennial plants) growing to 1-2.5 m tall, native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa." Apparently it's not a native, and I don't think I've seen it growing here.

I finished this one in the GUINEA PIG/ GAY apparel area. The G inthe GARR/RANGED crossing was surprisingly slow to appear.

archaeoprof 10:59 AM  

@Elaine: an EEL doesn't eat the whole frog. Just the legs.

I was impressed to see EDGERS where it was (5D). Doesn't that word typically appear on the eastern side of a puzzle, especially the SE?

Greene 11:00 AM  

Add my voice to the chorus of praise for this puzzle. I found it a bit harder than most of you, but I finished without any errors which is always satisfying.

There must be something irrestable about the life and times of journalist Nellie BLY since she has been the subject of at least 3 musicals (by different authors) that I know of. Perhaps there is something sweepingly romantic in her "Round the World in 72 Days" journalism tour or maybe it's just the sheer guts of feigning madness and being committed to the horror that was Bellevue Hospital so she could write an expose, from first-hand experience, about the abuses heaped on the mentally ill.

Whatever the attraction may be, her charms seem to defy musicalization, since all three projects have come to grief. I think the real problem may be that top drawer writers have simply not found Miss BLY's exploits to be stageworthy, so lesser lights have been writing her songs. Of course, it's also possible that "Ten Days in a Mad-House" is just not good subject matter for song and dance.

Who's to say? I saw Next to Normal last summer and that entire musical was built around the heroine's crippling bipolar condition. It was pretty good too (and some parts were extremely funny), so maybe there's hope for old Nellie after all. I wonder if Stephen Sondheim knows about her?

Van55 11:02 AM  

I too had GLO where JLO should have been.

Solid, very enjoyable puzzle.

Elaine 11:11 AM  

Oh, yes, teasels are found in the US. We had a lot in Ohio on our 8 acres. The head is green, vaguely thistle-like, and the little flowerets bloom from bottom to top; butterflies love them! Then they dry and look nice for winter interest in the landscape, but (warning) are very prickly at that point. Some people wild-gather and sell the long stemmed dried stalks-with-heads to florists.

Methinks you are pulling MY leg

You must be new! Welcome! and I am officially an Old Codger (Codgerette?) Are you one of the Young Whippersnappers?

Quote for the day: Youth is not a matter of age. (Pablo Picasso)

SueRohr 11:12 AM  

Add me to the gibe-glo crowd. Otherwise found it interesting and quite easy. Teasel is also new to me. Is anyone familiar with that plant? I think stone deaf is not politically correct anymore but I'm not sure.

SueRohr 11:13 AM  

Oh thanks Elaine. You wrote at the same time as me!

mccoll 11:23 AM  

Easy for me! Maybe those of us nearing octogenarian status have some advantages after all. I did this one last night even though I was exhausted.
LRON crossed with JLO was rather interesting fill and it straightened out the VLTS that I had at first.(Video Lottery Terminals- the bane of the poor.)
@Parshutr - If memory serves HOI POLLOI equals the mob or the people. The opposite being HOI BARBAROI - all the others or the outsiders. It also bugs me when people use Hoi Polloi to mean the elite. It doesn't mean that at all.
Thanks for the comments everyone. I'm glad I got up late.
Thanks for the puzzle DK.

CFG 11:37 AM  

Enjoyed today's puzzle, but just one little irritation: Shouldn't the clue for ONALOG be "Where a bump may appear"? Can a location be an answer to the question "how"? Doesn't seem right to me.

Joe Basalt 11:47 AM  

Thank you one and all for your sensitivity. I'm so sick and tired of common courtesy being dismissed as "Political Correctness" when in fact it exists solely to make our fellow beings feel comfortable and engaged as opposed to alienated and dismissed.

I know I'm going out on a cliff edge here, but permit me to speak for all stones everywhere in thanking you for recognizing that we don't like to be dismissed as deaf.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:14 PM  

@mccoll - Without looking it up (i.e., could be totally wrong), I thought the opposite of Hoi Polloi was Hoi Aristoi.

Geezer 12:23 PM  

I started with RIO PO in 9a, and was a little annoyed at the THE. Would one ever answer THE HUDSON for It flows through New York?

Ulrich 12:24 PM  

8 theme answers, flawlessly arranged--enough and then some to forgive REOIL.

The Po is the place where German kids (used to) get spanked on (from Latin "podex"--close in meaning to our Spanish friend "ano")...

Judith 12:51 PM  

My daughter had to do an oral report for school dressing up as a famous woman from history. I encouraged her to be Nellie Bly and her teacher didn't know who she (Nellie) was! Nellie should get a lot more press as her accomplishments were at least as great as Amelia Earhart.

alice in SF 1:09 PM  

Loved the puzzle. After reading the blogs, it finally sank through that it's a bump on a log. My mistake was The Pi not The Po. Duh!

I'm a print media person. Have to have newspapers to read with my morning tea (already the contrarian) . Good thing because I cannot do puzzles on the computer. I get so frustrated when I can't see a puzzle in its entirety as I tend to solve all over the page, filling in whenever I see a clue that I can answer easily.

dk 1:10 PM  

@darkman, Thanks. Our motto is "We put the fun in dysfunctional."

@Joe Basalt, What?

To all, I like glo better than JLO

@two ponies, I suppose if the story was titled Two Pony you would like it :)

Flanders and Swann 1:14 PM  


The fellow who captioned this video ran short of commas, but here is "Pee, Po, Belly, Bum, Drawers".

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

This one fell on the difficult side for me. THEPO gave me fits, and I misread Milne hopper for mine hopper. UGH! When I finally stopped banging my head against the wall and looked at the clues, it finally began to fall into place.

I never read THE RED PONY, but I remember watching the movie in 7 or 8 grade. If I remember right, the music was by Aaron Copeland (I didn't know that back then.

I'm away until the New Year, so Happy Holidays, everyone.

@CoolPapa D- no googling

Victor in Rochester 1:33 PM  

Great puzzle, allows forgiving of THEPO and REOIL, which was clued badly anyway. A lube job uses grease, not oil, although in the days when cars needed lube jobs they usually were done at the same time as an oil change.

Also had GLO for JLO and had to find out who JLO is.

Thanks, David Kahn!

SethG 1:46 PM  

It'd be sweet to have THE PO and THE PO-PO in the same puzzle. If you're old, feel free to assume I'm referring to this. When I make my April Fools puzzle, SLYLY will be clued via Stallone.

I found this a bit tricky largely because the resulting theme phrases _weren't_ that familiar. Land, room, and stone aren't exactly the first HEAD things that come to mind. I do like how TAIL isn't just a word that can follow the last words of the theme answers, it's literally an apt attachment to the ends of a few of them.

chefwen 2:05 PM  

Hand up for RED PONt, figured I just didn't know all his books. DOH!
THE PO wasn't a problem for me, sister in law lived in Turin for a few years.

TEASEL was a gimme for me, I have a cute little Christmas decoration made from a part of the plant, they stuck legs on it and made it into a little reindeer. I think I got it in Santa Fe.

I had satire in first for 33 down, still don't quite understand SEND UP. Anyone?

Jeffrey 2:11 PM  

Very cool theme and execution. I tried SHEPO.

mac - thanks for welcome back yesterday.

bluebell 2:33 PM  

Apparently I don't know my frog predators--I had egret which I had to change to heron, and owl, which of course had to become eel. Did not know that eels enjoyed frog legs. Did not know what eels ate at all. Do not want to know any further.

Hands up for changing glo/gibe to jlo/jibe. As remote as I am from popular culture I do know who jlo is, so the change made sense. Didn't know otbs; thank you for explaining.

I enjoyed this puzzle even if I didn't do it perfectly. I did think today would have been a good day for "Fur Elise," since it is Beethoven's birthday. 2:38 PM  

@chefwen -

  /ˈsɛndˌʌp/ [send-uhp]

an entertaining or humorous burlesque or parody; takeoff: The best skit in the revue was a send-up of TV game shows.

Also, sendup.

1955–60; n. use of v. phrase send up, in sense “to parody”; cf. earlier Brit. academic usage “to mock, scoff at”

fergus 2:56 PM  

Didn't want to do it but wrote in SATIRE for the Parody Clue. Having gone over the differences many a time, I guess I didn't have as much faith in Will today as I ought to have had. Almost went for L'OPERA Garnier, which I thought was even apter.

Masked and Anonymous 2:58 PM  

Gotta be that David Kahn really liked THE PO. It does give PO a chance to debut in the puzzle, I guess. There are other possible fills for that corner that will preserve GUINEA PIG and ERROR PRONE, and I'm sure he must have found some of them. (I found one, and no way I am in his league.)

Fabulous puzzle; keep THE PO, it actually gives the work more character, I think.

Church Lady 3:09 PM  

@Masked - THEPO just starts us down a slippery slope to perdition. Next we'll have "It flows through Olympia" for THEHO. Just a different river, right? But once THEHO is legit, well you know where that will lead - BEQ Land.

Meg 3:20 PM  

Glad to see I wasn't the only one who read "Apt" as "Apartment". I did this several times before slapping myself upside the head.

@Cynthia: I totally agree about "Where a bump should appear". I mean both are adverbial, but it's hard to get a location out of "How".

I loved the clue "no more" for DEAD. I thought maybe it was LESS.

Van Cleef and Arpels I know from some long ago TV game show. I just can't remember which one.

For a Wednesday, this was a good, solid, interesting medium.

sanfranman59 3:32 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)

Wed 13:11, 11:53, 1.11, 78%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:10, 5:50, 1.06, 74%, Medium-Challenging

My own solving experience with this one places it in the medium category for a Wednesday. So far, the online solve times are skewing more to the challenging end of the spectrum.

I didn't understand the answer for 64A: Guinness suffix until I visited the blog this morning. ARPELS is making its first appearance in Jim Horne's Xword Info database and was new to me. Like Rex, I didn't care much for THEPO.

Steve J 3:33 PM  

And a third who kept reading "apartment" for "apt," which was really messing me up. I had -EAD and T-EPO, and couldn't figure out what a HEAD had to do with apartments, so that blank sat taunting me while I tried to think of what obscure little stream could be running through Turin that was dwarfed by the Po. (Or was it some misdirection? What's the Italian word for "tempo"? Wait, the clue says "Turin," not "Torino," so the answer must be in English. Such was my inner dialogue.)

I thought for a while I was going to crash and burn in the SW: nothing came to me, and there's only one little sliver of light into each that and the NE corner. Finally LEOTOLSTOY came to me, and I was able to start chipping away (after wondering for a while if owls ate frogs).

Really good Wednesday overall. Perfect amount of challenge without feeling like I'm working on a lost cause.

Glitch 3:48 PM  


You reminded me of one of my favorite cartoons from either "The New Yorker" or "MAD" magazine (I get them confused):

In the alley behind "Chez Ritz" restaurant are a group of legless frogs with tin cups, on crutches.


When I was a NY City resident, it was always THE Hudson.

How a comment may appear? On a blog.

54A: Approaching from the across, album, 3 letters, ELO. Getting to the confirming downs, with _ibe, hadda be a J.


Aaron Riccio 4:03 PM  

About my average time (11-12 minutes) for a Wednesday. But Rex, I do believe that's a hat she's holding, not a shell.

Misunderstood THE 4:06 PM  

Some days I just can't win.
I show up today to give poor little Po a chance to have his 15 minutes of fame and get drummed out of town.
I skipped the day Beatles appeared and all hell broke loose then too.
Sigh and a shrug.

andrea teasel michaels 4:14 PM  

loved the puzzle, LOVED the write up, and am loving the blog today!!!
EVERY single comment has made me laugh...even the serious ones!

@Bluebell, @Steve
I too had OWL for EEL otherwise my only (Speed) bump on a log was that I put in PCP
(I guess I need a new dealer)

@Aaron Riccio
Not to over-analyze the pic, but really, how does @Rex know she is leggy when she's cut off at the knees?!

It took me SO long to correct PCP that I never made the connection between CARLA and my own name!

I count ONALOG as a bleedover from ANALOG...but don't worry I won't post my digital changeover scream again! (Thank you @r_c for yesterday)

As for G or J, if it's a crossword go for the J!

Opposite of you...bec I didn't know TEASEL, even the rest of the puzzle flowed like THEPO, I looked at R_OIL before I saw the clue and thought "Uhoh, I must have a mistake bec no letter in the English language could go there!"

also had ARPELL and briefly considered BAL as is Bal Harbor.

I think I'd still like to join your family...should I marry your brother and REALLY add to the dysfunction?

Anyway, brilliant puzzle by dk, funny commentaries by the real dk (Two Pony, ha!)

andrea slyly michaels 4:32 PM  

ELO/JLO seems the making of some sort of puzzle...

It's great that everybody loved this puzzle, otherwise the fill was ripe for negative comments along the lines of "I couldn't make HEAD or TAIL out of this...I suppose PASSGO is better than PASSGAS...I was ERRORPRONE, below PAAR, etc."

Can't get this Xmas song out of my head...
"Now we don our GAY ARPELS-O

Stan 4:42 PM  

Coming in late, but yes, a fine Wednesday puzzle -- not too hard and not too easy. Plus funny stuff in the write-up and blog.

I wanted "Lee and Van Cleef."

Elaine 5:00 PM  

@Aaron Riccio
The OTHER hand, dear.

@Andrea Doria Michaels
I left you a late, late note on yesterday's blog... and I started with OWL, too, but then decided, No, owls do not go for frogs.
I will arm-wrassle you for rights to be in dk's family.
I make a terrific eggnog that will get everyone tipsy twice as fast.)

More teasel trivia:
supposedly teasels are used to brush the cloth upholstery in Mercedes Benz cars.

Leslie 5:08 PM  

"Now we don our GAY ARPELS-O

Grooaaann! (Not really.)

Yeppers on "owl" for EEL, but I do pat myself on the back a tiny bit for knowing CARLA. She gets a fair amount of press.

Parshutr, my better half also teaches on the banks of the Red Cedar.

Anonymous 5:28 PM  

Hi !.
You may , probably curious to know how one can manage to receive high yields .
There is no need to invest much at first. You may commense earning with as small sum of money as 20-100 dollars.

AimTrust is what you haven`t ever dreamt of such a chance to become rich
AimTrust represents an offshore structure with advanced asset management technologies in production and delivery of pipes for oil and gas.

It is based in Panama with structures everywhere: In USA, Canada, Cyprus.
Do you want to become a happy investor?
That`s your choice That`s what you desire!

I`m happy and lucky, I began to get real money with the help of this company,
and I invite you to do the same. If it gets down to choose a correct companion utilizes your money in a right way - that`s it!.
I earn US$2,000 per day, and what I started with was a funny sum of 500 bucks!
It`s easy to join , just click this link
and lucky you`re! Let`s take this option together to feel the smell of real money

edith b 5:29 PM  

I liked the way the theme laid itself out but some of fill left something to be desired. EERIER? THEPO? REOIL? And ERRORPRONE didn't seem to be "in the language" so much as Accident prone. I stumbled over the French prime minister's lady one fine Sunday so I made it a point to commit the name to memory.

I had the same feeling as others did about the clues being deliberately racheted up. I expect that on Friday and Saturday but not on Wednesday.

Glitch 6:27 PM  

@Andrea [whatever] Michaels

Then there was the "Playboy" cartoon picturing (apparently) tranvestites "dressing" in front of an xmas tree, captioned "Don we now our ..."

DISCLAIMER: This item presented only as an historical refrence to humor acceptable in pre-PC days.


chefwen 6:36 PM  

Thank you, my Webster's wasn't that informative re. SEND UP.

Seems to me that when I bought that teasel ornament there was a blurb about it saying that that was the incentive behind the invention of Velcro. Could be wrong, that was many moons ago

Dreamliner 6:37 PM  

@Aaron Riccio :
There's a tiny shell in one hand and a hat in the other.

chefwen 6:37 PM  

OOPS, I meant parody,

Stan 7:14 PM  

@Misunderstood THE: Please let me welcome you to the blog. You are truly the mos' definite article!

william e emba 7:24 PM  

The definitive legless frog cartoon was by Sam Gross, and it originally appeared in the National Lampoon. The rights were eventually sold to the New Yorker. Meanwhile, the idea was ripped off, and variants have showed up since. But the original is still the best. Gross himself used it for the cover cartoon of his collection How Gross!

Ben 7:42 PM  

I came here to talk about crossword puzzles, but I am transfixed by @Anonymous 5:28pm's generous offer to teach me how to receive high yields. Thanks! Do you know any exiled Nigerian princes with cash flow issues while you're at it?

@Rex, don't hate on THEPO because you're still mad about MOAPO. :)

@Rex, I was momentarily baffled by JLO too until I remembered we saw more or less exactly this same clue and answer in the past few months... didn't we?

Note, it's possible that I saw it in either a Matt Gaffney puzzle (the only other xword I do) or in a NYT from the past few years that I recently solved. Since joining the NYT puzzle site about 10 months ago, I have been working my way backward thru the Friday and Saturday puzzles in the NYT archive; I'm done with 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006.

@Two Ponies: I was going to single-pony tweak you but someone else beat me to it.

@Andrea Martin Michaels: How is your tenant uprising going?

Two Ponies 8:23 PM  

Of course I could not resist commenting on a story title so close to my avatar. Thanks to those who noticed. (I wonder sometimes if anyone even reads what I write.)
Besides that, however, as a young girl I was truly traumatized by that movie.
@ nanpilla, Do not watch it!
Everyone has been very entertaining today. Sign of a good puzzle day.

dk 8:30 PM  

@andrea, I spoke to my brother about you, we agreed that my sisters place in Mexico will be far warmer than the Open Arms of Fong. Its BYOB (bring your own barbies) we will cover the ammo.

@elaine, I thought I heard the sound of a glove dropping.... A nog off at 5 nutmegs.

@bluebell, getting to know your frog predators: Priceless!

@anon at 5:28, I think a better investment is sending me $1.00 and I will have my sister pray for you. Me, I will use the the money to buy a better grade of rum. Shranking you kindly in advance.

d(lost Prince of Valiant now living in Forest Primeval)k

Squeek 8:37 PM  

@ w e emba,
Thanks man! That's the one I remembered as soon as archaeoprof said "legs" but couldn't recall from where.

retired_chemist 8:38 PM  

I am thinking, based on the tenor of several of the after-5 posts, that we (many of us anyway) have slid into happy hour without notifying each other. I know I have... but NO THC....

Squeek 8:50 PM  

Oh yes, happy hour.
Nicotine, alcohol, and... THC.
I've got it all tonight.

Sfingi 9:32 PM  

@Elaine and RetChem - you don't need to know anything to smoke ganj. As a matter of fact, it helps if you know nothing. And after a while you do (know nothing). (Sorry plant, but you know it's true.)

@BKO - I'm old and I found it hard.
Of course, this is still my first year.

@ArtLvr - when I first went on the internet, I got GAY porno ads for trying to order Art Deco Bath Towel Racks.

@2Ponies - I read you loud and clear.

Even though I got the pretty good theme, I totally messed up the puzzle. First and worst - "BugsBunny" for SPONGEBOB. Then, "cheats" for CONMEN, "random" for RANGED, "Teri" for GARR, "cactus" for TEASEL, "rule" for PULL, "satire" for SENDUP. My favorite cartoon, Bugs, sat there the whole time, carrot in mouth.
@JoeBasalt - But I also couldn't believe Mr. Khan wanted STONEDEAF. You think I'M un-PC? DEAD was a bit gross, too.

What on earth is ARD?

Vermont is a LANDGRANT College, as are parts of Cornell.

VanCleef and Arpels advertises regularly in the NYT.

Whenever I see EEL, I think of the scene in the movie version of the TIN DRUM. The movie is at least as good as the book.

Grammarianster reminds all that A LOT is 2 (two) words.

Also hated THEPO and REOIL. Of course, Po wouldn't be allowed on a real cwp with only 2 letters.
@Glitch - if they did use the article, as in the Hudson or the East Rivers, and I believe they do, it would be il Po.

@OldCarFud - SLILY is an alternate sp. for SLYLY, and TOLSTOI is an alternate for TOLSTOY. Everyone's a winner.

@Geezer - rio is Spanish; fiume is Italian for river. One of the few, like dog, that deviates wildly.

mac 9:33 PM  

@Two Ponies: we read your every word, every day.

@OldCarFudd: I had the same thought at Tolstoy/slyly.

ArtLvr 9:40 PM  

@ Bluebell -- I returned to say Happy Beethoven's Birthday to go along with STONEDEAF, but see you beat me to it!

@ wm e emba -- Wow, many thanks for the Gross cartoon. I did have a dish of frogs' legs once. Never again!

@ andrea -- would love to see you in your GAY ARPELS... do you wear with YSL?

@ two ponies -- yes, the RED PONY is a downer. I thought of you too.

@ r_c -- Hoo-boy, I'm ready to slide along and join all in Happy Hour. Great idea! Tomorrow is Get-the-Brakes-Tightened day before I slide down my little hill again on an icy morn.

I think Chefwen was right about the TEASEL-inspiration re Velcro...


Dullard 10:03 PM  

@Sfingi -

That's Dullard, not Dull-ard.

You said, "if they did use the article, as in the Hudson or the East Rivers, and I believe they do, it would be il Po." Does that mean an Arab would call it ALPO?

sanfranman59 10:05 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:38, 6:56, 0.96, 40%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:39, 8:39, 1.12, 79%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 13:21, 11:53, 1.12, 80%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:28, 3:41, 0.94, 39%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:51, 4:26, 1.09, 81%, Challenging
Wed 6:01, 5:50, 1.03, 66%, Medium-Challenging

Unknown 10:26 PM  

Wait, I just realized that a male child from Milan might be a Po Boy!

Sfingi 10:56 PM  

@Dullard - Wow, I was so way off today, the word describes me. I was trying to make it into some sort of matte.

Don't know anything about Arabic except the few words that entered English in trade and Chemistry/Math by necessity because they were all new concepts. For the latter, thank King Fred II of - Sicily! And, yes, many have the Al in front of them: algebra, alchemist, albacore, alcohol, almanac, etc. The Arabs didn't get that far North, otherwise, whose nose?

Anonymous 11:56 PM  

finally algae spelled the way I know, almost threw me off. teasel is new to me but if it fits wear it. fall site was I thought a great clue

andrea al michaels 2:50 AM  

is al-gae arabic?

I have a frozen shoulder, so you would win an arm wrestling contest (hands down?) today you are much more amusing. I'm sure dk has enough family to go around...or we could all move to Utah and Big Love it.

A Sophomore 8:04 AM  

@Anonymous, 11:56 PM -

Welcome to the wonderful world of crosswords, and bless your innocence!

Your next assignment had two parts:

1. Go to Jim Horne's X-Word Info site and review the clues for the previous 246 uses of EDEN.

2. Devise your own clue which you feel to be superior to the standard "Prelapsarian Prime Minister?".

You will not be graded on originality, spelling, or clarity of handwriting. We only take this course for fun!

Joseph Brick 4:59 PM  

I put REDCOLT in for REDPONY, and unfortunately all the downs worked: ARCELS instead of ARPELS (both gibberish), LIA instead of NIA (both names), TDS instead of YDS (both gridiron stats). Three errors for a WED. Pretty bad!

JB 10:31 AM  

Nothing infuriates me more than struggling with a puzzle (or giving up in disgust), and then finding that Rex has graded it "Easy". Ohhhh, that makes me so mad.

Puzzles like today's, which for me was an easy fill-in-the-blanks-without-needing-any-crosses, are my revenge!

paul in sw 11:13 AM  

Same mistakes. GLO/Gibe. Couldn't get Arpels, and had Parla for Carla. Enjoyed the theme. Happy to see Red Pony; saddened to see Spongebob, even tho it clued me to the theme. Had cactus before teasel.

Singer 5:16 PM  

I thought this was a fresh theme - I enjoyed it, and it actually helped me to solve the puzzle (I usually ignore the theme until I am done). I never heard of teasel - had cactus for awhile until STONE DEAF arose. Had TCP for marijuana - which gave me crane for the wader. HOI POLLOI did away with both, then I remembered it was THP, which gave me Parla for the prime minister's unhappy wife. It stayed that way until I got here, so I didn't really solve the puzzle because I had that ugly P where there should have been a C.

I didn't have any problem with THE PO. Don't understand why THE PO is bad when BEATLES (no the) is bad. Seems a bit inconsistent to me.

BTW gibe and JIBE are not equivalent in meaning - JIBE means to agree, gibe means to tease.

Unknown 5:45 AM  

Online gambling games have many bonuses.

Royal1688 Simple gambling games. For gamblers who like to gamble, but do not have time. The player has a device that can connect to the Internet. The ipad iphone mobile phone smartphone version. The player has to play our game every day, our gambling games. There are many players who are popular in playing online casino.

The online casino is open to gamble gamblers every day with the willingness and a lot of bonuses and bonuses for the players to win every day. The convenience of the player to come to our gambling games without the need to leave home to waste time. To play gambling games far away.

The player who comes to play our gambling games and love to play our games every day. For those who are interested in gambling games, we apply for membership with our online casino to play gambling games 24 hours a day, I also rushed to play the game to win a bonus. Goldclub Slot

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP