* Institute California retreat center for alternative education / TUE 1-29-10 / Crimson Tide familiarly / Young starlet's promoter maybe

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Constructor: Zoe Wheeler

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: NAME OF THE GAME (35A: Essential part necessary for fulfilling a goal ... or what 17-, 25-, 48- and 57-Across all have?) — circled squares within theme answers spell out the names of GAME animals: BOAR, DEER, HARE, and QUAIL, respectively.

Word of the Day: ESALEN Institute (46D: ___ Institute, California retreat center for alternative education) —

Esalen Institute is a retreat center in Big Sur, California, United States, for humanistic alternative education and a nonprofit organization devoted to multidisciplinary studies ordinarily neglected or unfavored by traditional academia "in subjects ranging from meditation to massage, Gestalt, yoga, psychology, ecology, spirituality, art, music, and much more." Esalen offers more than 500 public workshops a year in addition to invitational conferences, residential work-study programs, research initiatives, and internships. Part think-tank for the emerging world culture, part college and lab for transformative practices, and part restorative retreat, Esalen is dedicated to exploring work in the humanities and sciences that furthers the full realization of what Aldous Huxley called the "Human Potential". (wikipedia)


[I think this video takes place at the ESALEN Institute]

I won't go on about how I don't care for this sort of theme (circled words made out of non-consecutive letters). You all know that. The play on words at the heart of it all is cute, and the big corners in the NE and SW are a nice Tuesday treat, but overall I found the puzzle slightly disappointing. Too much cheap short fill (incl. four plural abbreviations, ATA, AST, ESE, etc.), cluing that felt off (esp. on the theme-revealer ... torturous *and* redundant-sounding), and big, bad answers like BAHA MEN (39D: "Who Let the Dogs Out" group) and ESALEN (two answers no one on God's green earth would put in a grid unless she were desperate and stuck). I did the thing I appear to be doing now on Tuesdays, which is falling straight into a hole of my own making. Started by putting WINNER in at 2D: "Everyone's a ___" and followed that up filling the neighboring 3D: Procrastinator's response with "IN A SEC!" (instead of the apparently correct MAÑANA). There are two Spanish words not clued as Spanish words in this puzzle, which is at least one too many (see also 52A: "So long" -> ADIOS). This may be the first time that I was ever rescued from a hole by SCARABS (28A: Beetles sacred to ancient Egyptians), but that's what happened here. After getting out of the NW, the rest went down in relatively normal Tuesday fashion, with the big corners perhaps adding some time (if not outright difficulty) to the solving experience.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Bird watcher's accessory (BinOculARs)
  • 25A: Tide or Cheer (DEtERgent)
  • 48A: Symbol of life (HeARtbEat)
  • 57A: Cheesy Mexican snack (QUesAdILla) — if I had to pick a favorite from this exceedingly common bunch, this would be it.

Four animals, but no sign of MAN ... The Most Dangerous Game


  • 1A: #1 position (acme) — would never have matched this clue with this answer. I can see how it works, metaphorically, but I think of ACME is a pinnacle, the top of a peak, and not a ranked position relative to other (#2, #3, etc.) positions. I also think of ACME as a mail-order store from which Wile E. Coyote orders merchandise.

  • 19A: The Crimson Tide, familiarly ('Bama) — National Champions, as of a couple weeks ago.
  • 34A: ___ d'Ivoire (African land) (Côte) — what other answer could this be? Do you really need the "(African land)" part? You know this is a country or you don't know it at all; the parenthetical information does nothing to cue the answer. See also 60A: Knievel on a motorcycle (Evel). Oh, *that* Knievel ... Thanks for the clarification. Without it, it could've been *any* Knievel. Knievel in the kitchen, Knievel in Parliament, Knievel of Côte d'Ivoire, etc.
  • 64A: Wuss (sissy) — had the -SSY and very nearly put in an entirely different answer.
  • 11D: Young starlet's promoter, maybe (stage mom) — the third time I've seen this answer in the past two weeks. Weird.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Bob Kerfuffle 8:06 AM  

Help! I am missing something!

I came to the blog ready to complain that the revealer was redundant, as Rex notes: "Essential part necessary for fulfilling a goal", as well as not really making sense (Do I really need to knows the name of the game (pun acknowledged) to meet my goal?)

But Rex also says, "The play on words at the heart of it all is cute." Does that mean just the pun, or is there more to it?

CoolPapaD 8:17 AM  

Still liked it, though the write-up was more entertaining than the puzzle. I fell into a hole with SHAPES for 6D, and it took too long to come up with SOLIDS. Also wanted COMEDIAN badly for 2D, especially after getting the C.

FAZE and PAZ were the last two answers filled - the Z just wouldn't come to me, and I had to run through the alphabet several times to get it. Didn't care for BIO LAB, something no one ever says!

ACME - congrats on 1A!

fikink 8:22 AM  

"Everybody's a WINNER," reflects your charming optimism, Rex, in contrast to the CRITICs' half-empty glass. It is a delight on a grey, misty morning such as this.

joho 8:23 AM  

My only writeover was SMaSHES before SMUSHES.

I liked seeing the word QUESADILLA in the grid. HELL NO is nice.

Unfortunately I am in the camp of circled letters being the theme as boring.

Loved the shout out to ACME!

Elaine 8:32 AM  

I had a wee Natick moment at BAHAMEN with AST...why would I know the time zone for Bermuda? and I am famous for not knowing bands, rock groups, and the like... A was my best guess for that square, which turned out to be correct. Why not BAJA, though?

Was surprised to see HELL NO... and ESALEN seemed like a "blast from the past" kind of thing. Haven't heard anything about it for decades! including when I lived in California...

Can't wait for Wednesday...
Oh, and THANKS, Rex, for the filter thingie below. Will have to go elsewhere for tips on what stock to buy, I guess.....

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

STAGEMOM again??

edith b 8:47 AM  

I had a love-hate relationship with this puzzle, only part of it having anything to do with the puzzle itself.

I love the fact that it was constructed by a teenage girl - long over due - but I have to wonder it it would have been accepted if it was created by a middle-aged man, for instance.

At the risk of being a ranter about short fill, there was just too much of it in this puzzle plus abbreviations and partials.

Plus, all those circles made my eyes hurt. Does anybody else try and look around the circles?

I really think that this one was settled on rather than accepted on its own merits. This, of course, is IMOO. j

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

im not sure the otoe were the first group of indians lewis and clark met either.i always thought it was the sioux - specifically the yankton who then warned them about the teton sioux or lakota sioux.

Ulrich 9:06 AM  

Rex implied some weeks ago, if I remember correctly, a rule to make "random" circle placements more tight. If I may extrapolate: If W is a word whose letters appear in sequence in an answer A, the nth letter in W should not appear in A before letters 1,... n-1 have appeared; i.e. no needed letter is allowed to sneak ahead. The answers in today's puzzle comply for the first letters with aplomb--they are actually the first letters in the answers. The other letters also comply except, ach, for HARE, where an E precedes the first A in HEART BEAT. I wonder, since the puzzle comes so close to complying with the tighter rule, if that was in fact the original intent. Had it succeeded, I would have made total peace with the theme.

And the Côte d'Ivoire is considered by many experts the best of the African teams competing in the upcoming soccer world cup and may be the sleeper team of the tournament.

Mike Lewis 9:34 AM  

I didn't care for this theme either, but I blew through this in Easy time. I've been trying to remember where else I've seen STAGEMOM recently - I don't think it's been all NYT puzzles. Never saw several of the clues, including the one for COTE.

I'm mildly surprised to see HELLNO show up in the puzzle, particularly one not written by Brendan.

ArtLvr 9:44 AM  

More amusing than the puzzle as is was hunting for other animals here, like the Crab in SCARABS.


MikeM 9:45 AM  

Easy puzzle. Though I think MANANA needed som sort of Spanish indication.

Jeffrey 9:56 AM  

This puzzle had me at SMUSHES. I don't know how you can review this puzzle and not mention the coolest word in it.

While COTE and EVEL may have Olavesque clues, don't forget it is Tuesday.

This was fun. And that's all that counts.

Elaine 10:08 AM  

I thought Lewis and Clark met the Mandans first-- a large, peaceful nation that was literally wiped off the face of the Earth due to disease and other hazards of exposure to European expansion. Council Bluffs was a site of (duh) a group meeting with (I think I am recalling) a number of tribes... Well, it's been a long time since I read that book. We need a cross-wording American historian on this blog. Rex? know anyone at SUNY-B'hampton?

mccoll 10:23 AM  

The extremely excessive redundancy could have been made very much greater. "Required essential part necessary for fulfilling a goal." However,perhaps that is over-doing it somewhat too much.
Just kidding,Zoe.If you are a teen-aged girl, more power to your elbow. Anyone who can devise a puzzle has my admiration.
Teehee. She said, "Hell."
This was a typical Tuesday for time.
Thanks for the puzzle,Zoe and the comments people.

slypett 10:25 AM  

This puzzle perfecly fits this blog.
Everyone's a CRITIC is, verilly, the NAMEOFTHEGAME here.

MANANA and ADIOS are pretty much in the American vocabulary, so required, in my opinion, no extra cluing. Hmmm.
I did briefly consider BANANA, but, shucks, that's Spanish, too.

retired_chemist 10:37 AM  

I liked it. Fun. About right for a Tuesday. MAÑANA and ADIÓS not clued as Spanish words didn't bother me.

@ CoolPapaD - our students say chem lab and bio lab, the first almost all the time and the latter sometimes. Physics lab isn't shortened - phys lab sounds kinda stupid.

QUESADILLA - fabulosa! Also agree with Crosscan re SMUSHES.

Even non-puzzle (but very much into pop music of several decades) wife was stumped by BAHA MEN. But it was easy via the crosses

retired_chemist 10:38 AM  

Hey, the verification thing is cool! I will miss translating the mail order bride ads though....

Charles Bogle 10:38 AM  

@edithb: how do you know the constructor is a teen? If true, my hat's off to her...keep going!

For me, though, the theme was too clever by half

Generational signs: DR DREA, BAHAMEN, EYO, ATM (instead of GAS) for "Sign at convenience store"...if these constructors keep getting younger I'll be in serious trouble

Judith 10:45 AM  

@Elaine I too had a Natick with Bahamen and AST. Took me way too long to figure it out.

PlantieBea 10:46 AM  

No GOAT HERDS today. Even with the circles, I thought the puzzle was cute. Lucky GEESE are exempted from the hunt in this puzzle. I finally spelled EVEL correctly the first time around. Yay.

xyz 10:52 AM  

ACME OK by me, too many ABBR & 3-letter drivel, need crosses for 3 letters? meh

ADIOS over ALOHA (first thought correct)
SMUSHES over smashes (already had esteem)
but ... ESALIN looked like the wrong spelling - "alternative education" is being kind to thes ZANY (to be kind) folks

BINOCULARS, DETERGENT QUESADILLA all greenlights, but I have a real problem with HEARTBEAT as a symbol of life - HELLNO - it's an indicator, hardly symbolic.

Medium only becasuue of ugly SW.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

@REX, everyone's a winner? don't tell Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh that. Champions of the dumbing down of america

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

Bob K -- Probably you already get this, but just in case here's how I see it:

"Essential part necessary for fulfilling a goal" is synonymous with "name of the game"

This comes up with sports cliches, e.g., someone will say, "In football, a good quarterback is important, but defense is the name of the game." In other words, you can't win without a good defense.

Kelly 11:22 AM  

@CoolPapaD - people say BIO LAB all the time if you're in the right environment....

dk 11:28 AM  

What @crosscan said x 2. This puzzle has it all for a Tuesday. To list just some

- International flair (28A, 42A, 43A, 52A, etc.)
- Favorite TV show from the 60s (35A)
- Favorite constructor and heart throb (1A)
- One mans meat (ASPER EB White) at 51A

Zoe you go girl. Excellent and original fill.

**** (4 Stars)

ps. In search and rescue triage if you have no HEARTBEAT you get a black toe tag. That is not a good thing.

PAZ, dk

OHT 11:48 AM  

Wow, I never even noticed the circles even when tring to find names of games in the theme answers.

Tinbeni 11:57 AM  

Personal embarassment: I knew it was the BAHA MEN. (Damn!)

OK, I'll say it. I did want to put in pussy at 64a, but my BRAIN wouldn't allow it.

ESALEN came up in the LAT a couple of weeks ago.
STAGE MOM, again! Ugh!
EVEL is a gimmie.
SMUSHES is the real word of the day.

NAME OF THE GAME with the circled answers, have to admit I liked this theme.

ACME - #1 position? that should have been BAMA!

hazel 11:58 AM  

Thanks @twangster - I was in the dark with @BobK about the inner cuteness of the theme - which is not to say that I didn't like this puzzle. Thought it had a lot of flair - for reasons succintly itemized by @dk (well not the heart throb part)...

Go Zoe go!!

Doug 11:58 AM  

Naturellement, I threw in ADIEU instead ADIOS.

The theme was like an over-the-hill stripper busting old moves in a slow club: There in body, not in mind. (Not to be sexist) the theme was like a grey-haired, creaky bartender, mixing his 10,000th martini and asking the same meaningless questions: There in body, not in mind.

Some nice fill though, you have to admit. Kinda hard for a Tuesday, I thought.

Luke 12:04 PM  

I definitely enjoyed this puzzle and got a lot of the clues a younger generation person would get; I didn't even blink on BAHAMEN! I felt as if there was plenty of nice new fill that wasn't standard crosswordESE to make up for the standard amount of crosswordESE. Tripped up at in the NW because I've never of MANANA before. I guess it's an American thing. An enjoyable Tuesday for me.

edith b 12:11 PM  

@Charles Bogle-

Read all about it over at Wordplay.

I guess my opinion has been rejected. I suppose that is why they play the games.

jeff in chicago 12:25 PM  


Dave in California 12:44 PM  

I kind of liked this, although the theme was kind of irrelevant, by the time I filled in NAMEOFTHEGAME I didn't need the clue or the other answers because the crosses were mostly filled in. Living in CA, Esalen was easy. I held off on both WINNER and SHAPES, and was rewarded when the crosses confirmed them wrong. I did have ADIEU at 52A, but when REILS did not turn out to be a cousin of J. Geils, I switched it. Biggest complaint--another STAGEMOM? Too many in any 14-day period.

Rube 12:47 PM  

I so wanted 10A to be AGIs, just so I wouldn't have to look at SSNS again, but no, (sigh). On the other hand, the positive here is that all those Ss started words this time, rather than making funky plurals.

BeHAMEN looked perfectly good to me, despite having spent time in Bermuda. But that was 40+ yrs ago.

Rube 12:48 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Parshutr 12:51 PM  

Agree on STAGEMOM again and again. I doubt that Dr. Leary ever went to Esalen. Too mild and touchy-feely for his taste.

Rex Parker 1:07 PM  


You are quite wrong about Leary/ESALEN.


lit.doc 1:12 PM  

Slightly slow Wednesday time for me. I'm starting to think the mouse and keyboard may be slowing me down. Happily, though, I'm still enough of a neophyte that I enjoyed the theme.

Me too what Rex said about the clues, especially " #1 position", "African land", "Essential part necessary for...", and the two unclued foreign words. I groused just yesterday (on the LAT blog) about the editor's emendations not being identifiable on CWs, for just these sorts of reasons.

@Doug, me too re ADIEU.

@Tinbeni, I actually *did* put that in at 64A without blinking. I've gotta learn to eyeball at least one cross before writing (or keying). Also, I guess I should know by now that Will Shortz wouldn't allow an answer like that (though of course "douchebag" is just fine).

@Elaine, me to re near-natick in square 42. Once I had all the other crosses, I guessed A correctly, but still...

Best puzzler moment of the day for me was slamming OTOE without a moment's thought. No actual knowledge behind it, just emerging CW reflexes.

CoolPapaD 1:33 PM  

@Kelly and retired_chemist: If you say so, I believe you! They certainly don't say it in any hospital setting, but I guess on campus, etc, it could be used ("I can't play frisbee - I have bio lab this afternoon.")... OK - I'll buy it, and stand corrected!

mac 1:41 PM  

The puzzle worked for me on Tuesday, and looking at the filled grid there is a lot to like in the answers. I think the clues could have been better, more sparkly.

Love scarabs, and use them (carved out of semi-precious stones) in my work quite a lot. Agree with Crosscan, "smushes" is the neatest word!

Good debut, Zoe!

Unknown 1:43 PM  

No circles on the on-line version.

Noam D. Elkies 1:43 PM  

Not bad for a Tuesday puzzle; no complaints about the theme, and bravo for the precocious debut.

I could have done without 39D:BAHAMEN/42A:AST, but the theme entries make it hard to fill that corner at all. BEHAVER for 39D and ROSSO for 49D works but is hardly an improvement. One might do better by changing 35D and 36D too.

I too like 44A:SMUSHES and 45D:HELLNO, but I wonder if it's legitimate to have "not" in a clue where the word "no" occurs in the answer.

Re 64A, nothing wrong with "pussy" as long as it gets a feline clue. "Purulent" would fail the breakfast test.

I had hoped 34A:CÔTE would cross ENTREPÔT, but no such luck. As it stands, 34A:COTE and 51A:GEESE flock with the theme QUAIL.


P.S. Thanks to Rex for the RoadRunner clip. Presumably the booby trap at the end was set by W.E.Coyote earlier in the cartoon?

SueRohr 1:54 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle and thought the theme was quite clever especially with the play on the word "game." I also thought it would be baja men and kept thinking pussy but knew they wouldn't do that! I'm a little tried of SSN and otoe but thought this was an appropriate difficulty for a Tuesday.I also liked "Hell no."

retired_chemist 1:55 PM  

@ CoolPapaD - that's exactly right. I believe you that it is a campus-specific term. Maybe also in HS - true, Zoe? May come from pronouncing the usual course prefixes CHEM 101, BIO 101 etc. We used to use VART for the Visual Arts courses until somebody pronounced it.

Meg 2:08 PM  

Technically A DUE means "for two", so it means "together" if you only have 2 instruments.

As game goes, I don't think BOARS are very common, but I guess there are people out there shooting them somewhere.

Perhaps the BAHAMEN will come out with a rendition of "Pants On the Ground". Can't wait to see who uses that as a theme entry.

@dk: Just out of curiosity, what other colors (besides black) do toetags come in?

OK for Tuesday. Not thrilling, but all right.

Karen from the Cape 2:12 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, laughed at HELL NO, thought the clues ranged from usual to inspired.

I hadn't realized before that BAHA MEN was a play on Bahaman.

chefwen 2:18 PM  

I liked this puzzle, theme and all. The only write over was SOLIDS over shapes. Was scratching my head over ESALEN and STASIS for quite a while, had not heard of the school and I don't think I've seen the word STASIS before, had to look it up when finished.

Three cheers for SMUSHES.

turnip guy 2:33 PM  

Agreeing with @Crosscan, @dk, and @chefwen on the bright, lively fill. Also enjoyed the descent from ACME to NONE in the corners. Rex is right that some of the clues could have been better.

Good one, Zoe!


fergus 2:39 PM  

I wonder when we'll see ASPER Clued as an odd job -- Reptile minders for Egyptian queens?

Found this puzzle pretty lively and kinda complicated. I have to admit to questioning MA, NA NA ... as if the procrastinator were tired of his mother nagging him.

Steve J 2:48 PM  

I had a brief moment of sheer delight, which came crashing down a second later. I had the GIT filled in for 22A, and I read the clue: "2, for one." Immediately, MC Hammer popped into my head, and I saw that LEGIT would indeed fit.

And then I noticed I would have had to have a rapper named Dr LRE to make that work. Damn. (Not that I ever liked Hammer or the song; hated both, in fact. I just thought I'd seen something really clever.)

I didn't mind this overall, even though I generally dislike circles, especially when executed somewhat randomly. But there was a reasonable challenge here, which is nice early in the week (I came in slightly above my typical Tuesday time, probably slowed by the same ADIEU fill that others mentioned, as well as reflexively spelling it BAJAMEN).

Oh, on the two Spanish words: I would argue that ADIOS is so widely known and used amongst American English speakers that it doesn't require a foreign-language designation. MANANA, however, is not as widely known (at least one poster here already noted that, and it's not something in common, widespread use) and probably should have gotten an indicator.

sanfranman59 3:14 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)

Tue 8:49, 8:47, 1.00, 56%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:56, 4:30, 1.09, 79%, Medium-Challenging

This one seems like a straight down the middle Medium to me. I'm not buying into the Medium-Challenging rating for the Top 100 solvers. The distribution of solve times is a little quirky so far with a big gap between 4:39 and 4:50 by the 42nd and 43rd fastest times. I'm guessing to Top 100 median will come in close to 4:30 come day's end.

ACME 3:23 PM  

How can I not love a puzzle that starts with ACME and has NAME (OFTHEGAME) as the central answer??!!!

You go, girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

EMO, SOLID (was the first word yesterday), and of course, the dreaded STAGEMOM (Well, maybe dreaded if she is the BAHAMEN's ma.
Thanks @Karen at the cape, I didn't get that till now, either!)
But STAGEMOM is inspired fill, it's just too bad that it fell the same week, otherwise we'd love it. As with all bleedovers, certainly not the constructor's fault, I note them bec I think it's curious.

I also agree with @Rex that the clue for ACME was off... I even put in AONE first.

Am I alone in not having heard of AST?

Maybe MA, NA NA can open for
SHA NA NA or the BAHAMEN and sing "Mama told be not to come".

Hugs and SMUSHES, Zoe!

Clark 3:29 PM  

I put in puSSY. Nothing wrong with that word. (My cats, Obi and Gracie, concur.)

Jeffrey 3:31 PM  

AST is also the time zone for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI. There is also NST, for Newfoundland Standard Time, which is one-half hour later than AST (no, we don't know why either).

Let's get SMUSHED!

Jey City Gambler 3:38 PM  

I thought this puzzle by Zoe was pretty cool, especially with BAHA MEN and SEATTLE symmetrically placed. In 1995, the Mariners had a great season coming back from 13 games down in August to win the division in a one-game tiebreaker to go to the playoff for the first time and then defeated the hated Yankees in a five-game series after being down 0-2.

During that season we had a young rookie SS that showed some promise named Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod liked the at-bat song of backup catcher Joe Oliver "Who Let the Dogs Out" and adopted it as his own. It became very popular as the theme song for the 1995 M's, blasting at full volume from the Kingdome speakers a dozen times a game.

BAHA MEN is a gimme for any Mariners fan. As I recall, the Mets adopted the song as their own the next year, except they had the BAHA MEN record a new version "Who Let the Mets Out".

Bob Kerfuffle 4:15 PM  

@Twangster, 11:04 AM -- Thank you for your explanation of "name of the game". I had not thought of that idiomatic usage, but I can see that you are completely correct! And everyone else saw it too? However, I still think the clue contains a redundancy, although maybe I could be talked out of that also.

But I did finish the puzzle with the correct letter in each box, and in crosswords, that's the name of the game. (Did I get the idiom right?)

Rube 4:25 PM  

@Meg: Surprisingly enough, wild boars are a problem on Kauai. I have a friend who can't go into her backyard because of them. Her bananas and passion fruit are rotting on the trees. She hired someone to get rid of them, but he didn't get them all and the boars came right back. @Chefwen?

Van55 4:26 PM  

Mixed bag for me.



Not keen on ESE, either but at least it wasn't clued as "Pittsburgh to Altoona dir."

If its accurat that Zoe is a teenager, my hat's off to her.

sanfranman59 5:19 PM  

@Jey City ... "Who Let the Dogs Out" wasn't released until 2000. According to Wikipedia, that was the year that the M's PA announcer used it as intro music for Joe Oliver (as a joke, since he was the back-up catcher). After that, AFraud requested it as his intro music. The song was also very popular with the Giants in 2002, the year they lost to the Angels in the World Series ... it was a fave of Bonds. I was sick of hearing it by the end of the season and even now, have a visceral reaction to it.

Re bleedovers ... I sometimes think there's a conspiracy amongst crossword constructors since some answers like STAGEMOM seem to come in bunches. Could there be a muse that whispers into constructors' ears?

Elaine 5:50 PM  

I don't know how quick the turnaround is on crossword puzzles-- but sometimes it seems like we see an awful lot of the same clues. ASPIC comes to mind--and is just about as palatable as a STAGE MOM.

chefwen 6:38 PM  

@Rube - Yes, the wild boar are a huge problem here. They are mean, fast, and have no problem dispatching pets. We had a mother and her baby in our semi-fenced in back yard at our first house here, scared the liver out of me as the dogs charged at them. Thought she would turn on them but I guess they got scared enough and they retreated down to the river where they had come from. They are also very destructive to the delicate vegetation and are raising havoc in the rain forests.

Not one of the favorite creatures here on "the rock".

Meg 6:57 PM  

@Chefwen & Rube: Boars sound a lot worse than the gators we have in South Florida. You can outrun a gator (I've heard you should run in a zig-zag pattern, but that may just be a myth). Of course if people would stop feeding them, they might stop coming into people's yards. There are horrible stories of people walking their little dogs near the pond....

Is there a "boar season" for hunters? Can you eat boar meat? In some restaurants here you can get gator nuggets. Just deep fry it and somebody will eat it.

Ulrich 7:03 PM  

@Clark: Perhaps, when you tell your cats that archaeologists just unearthed a temple in Alexandria, Egypt, dedicated to the cat goddess Bastet, they will act al little less blase than our cats when I told them ("What else is new?")

BTW Do you all also get verification letters to fill in even when you signed in as google blogger?

PlantieBea 7:09 PM  

@Meg: Wild boars are a huge problem here in Florida, too. They're pretty nasty and destructive with their extreme rooting habits. And they are definitely hunted down here. Here's one of many links...http://www.ronsguideservice.com/boar.htm

I'll keep the gators around any day.

Meg 7:25 PM  

@PlantieBea: That was some link! Thanks for the education; it was not boaring. Sorry.

Doc John 8:07 PM  

Hm, my comment never got posted!
Didn't really have much to add anyway, just said that I pretty much agreed with what Rex had to say.

Tinbeni 8:31 PM  

I enjoyed your Florida Boar site also.
Did notice it was in the Everglades. Bet there was one great Bar-B-Que after the hunt.
Would love to join in the fun, but that first rule eliminates from the hunt (damn!).
There are many boars I want to kill.

You and I are both in Pinellas. Our peninsula has some deer up here near Lake Tarpon, and a lot of Gators (yummmy) but only a few boars.

PlantieBea 8:46 PM  

@tinbeni, meg: plenty of boars left here in Orange although the problem populations are clustered in the east side of the county where it's less developed. Even so, the largest one I saw was outside the back entrance to Disney property, on the west side of Orange. Practically hogzilla. It had met a car. Quite the sight.

sanfranman59 10:04 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 6:47, 6:54, 0.98, 51%, Medium
Tue 8:56, 8:47, 1.02, 60%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:39, 3:40, 1.00, 54%, Medium
Tue 4:28, 4:29, 0.99, 54%, Medium

As I anticipated, the Top 100 median solve time ended up at just about the average. By the numbers, definitely a Medium Tuesday.

Sfingi 10:33 PM  

Had a hard time getting on-line because the Mass results came out - the Republicans won.

@Ulrich - good point. Beyond that, this so-called theme was just annoying since I still think the expressions should have some connection. That's just me, I guess.
Your second post - yes this verification thing is new.

@SanFranMan - we covered that conspiracy stuff before and were told we're flaming idiots.

@Luke - MANANA, to be pronounced
muhn-yah-na, since the first N is an enya is an American thing in that several Spanish words are definitely in the language. In 1947 it was the name of a song ("Manana is soon enough for me") written by Peggy Lee. I believe it's a mambo.

It was easy enough. The only thing new was the name of the group behind "Who let the dogs out?" I asked one of the young aids at the Home, and I actually have wanted to know, since it's a good ex. of words fitting tune.

I had to go elsewhere for actual new words. The History Channel gave me one - "yardang" - one of those mushroom shaped sand things formed by wind and sand in the Sahara.

That boar thing is interesting. They and goats were introduced to the West by Europeans and had no natural predators. I hear there are upper-class Germans who love to hunt the wild boar and will pay to do so. This could be a tourist attraction.
@Ulrich Whadaya think?

Tinbeni 10:41 PM  

Your last comment helped me remember a friend of mine who hit a Boar on I-4 near Disney while driving (about 30 years ago). His MGB was TOTALED!

Had he run over a HARE, well it still probably would have been totaled, the MGB. The hare would have hop, hop, hop away.

@Sfingi - re: conspiracy I have only one word this week.
MAKO ...

Clark 10:55 PM  

@Ulrich -- Thanks for the link to the cat temple. I find all thinks ancient Egyptian fascinating. I did tell the cats. They were completely uninterested. They are interested in the food that will be coming their way in five minutes.

fikink 11:43 PM  

@Ulrich, Clark, I asked my snowshoe, Oz, who was eating at our place tonight and Oz responded, "Me, et. al."

Who's Al?

Mykl Bykl 2:40 AM  

60A: Knievel on a motorcycle (Evel). Oh, *that* Knievel ... Thanks for the clarification. Without it, it could've been *any* Knievel. Knievel in the kitchen, Knievel in Parliament, Knievel of Côte d'Ivoire, etc.

I've been following your blog for a while. That made me laugh out loud. Thanks. -Michael

Scarlet-O 3:05 AM  

LOL @ "Oh, *that* Kneivel"! Hahaha and @ Mykl Bykl "Knievel of Cote d'Ivoire, etc"..

That WUSS/--SSY clue apparition seems to stare me in the face monthly, it's a poltergeist!

Kind of reminds me of one they ran in the paper in Ireland once- "Definitely female (-UNT)."

No joke.

Ulrich 3:07 AM  

@sfingi re. wild boars: two things come to my mind when I hear them mentioned: (1) "Hannibal", the book and the movie; and (2) my cousin telling me years ago that when he was in the army and returning late after a night on the town through a forest, he heard a boar near by, making attacking noises, which forced him up a tree, where he had to spend the night, waiting for daylight to make it back to base.

Hunting in boars in Germany as tourists? I don't know. There may be enough left--their meat (of the boars, not the tourists) does appear on the menu in restaurants (steaks, ragout)--so there must be people out there hunting them. But I've no idea about the chances for organizing hunts for cash.

poc 12:34 PM  

MANANA (instead of MAÑANA) would be less objectionable if the cross also had an Ñ, but it doesn't. In other words, the usual excuse that American keyboards can't write Ñ (I'm using one right now by the way) doesn't wash in this case. One or other of the answers is simply wrong.

Happy New Year everyone :-)

MikeinSTL 9:35 AM  

I was expecting Rex to post a video of the Muppets doing "MANAMANA", but once again I pre-guessed wrong. My only other peculiarity was having COTE before seeing the clue and expecting it to be clued as "home for pigeons" or something like that.

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