Object of Teddy Roosevelt's busting / TUE 1-26-10 / What bronzers simulate / Jill's portrayer Charlie's Angels

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Easy

"KEEP" (57D: Hang on to ... or a word that can precede either half of the answer to each starred clue)

Word of the Day: SALINAS Valley (10D: California's __ Valley, known as "America's salad bowl")

The Salinas Valley is the Central Coast region of California, USA that lies along the Salinas River between the Gabilan Range and the Santa Lucia Range. It encompasses parts of Monterey County. [...] Agriculture dominates the economy of the valley. In particular, a large majority of the salad greens consumed in the U.S. are grown within this region. Strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, and spinach are the dominant crops in the valley. Other crops include broccoli, cauliflower, wine grapes, celery, and spinach. Due to the intensity of local agriculture the area has earned itself the nickname, "America's Salad Bowl." [...] The Salinas Valley was the home of the Native American people today known as the Ohlone (Rumsen and Chalon), Salinan, and Esselen. The City of Salinas was founded after Mexico seceded from Spain in 1822 and began granting rancho lands. Named for a nearby salt marsh, Salinas became the seat of Monterey County in 1872 and incorporated in 1874. The Salinas Valley is the setting for several John Steinbeck stories, including East of Eden, Of Mice and Men, and Grapes of Wrath. // Promoters call the Salinas Valley "The Salad Bowl of the World" for the production of lettuce, broccoli, peppers and numerous other crops. The climate is also ideal for the floral industry and grape vineyards planted by world-famous vintners. (wikipedia)
• • •

This was a palate cleanser. Fine, but bland. PACE OFF felt slightly wonky to me, but I can't really explain why. Maybe the fact that I can't imagine saying it, and that it sounds a lot like "FACE OFF," is throwing me ... off. Anyway, there are few points of interest today. Theme answers are mostly forgettable, apparently unrelated phrases whose thematic unity you discover once you get to the bottom right. As revelations go, it's not much of one. Stuff I enjoyed most in the grid = NEATNIK (56A: Slob's opposite) (a kooky word I got off the initial "N") and SALINAS, but only because I grew up in California, my parents live near there, and I can't remember seeing that name in puzzles before (though surely I have — those letters are just too common). This might have been my fastest Tuesday ever. Certainly my fastest of the new year (by a full minute). Told myself that (since I'm solving around 5 a.m.) I should just take it easy, don't try to rush. Just solve. It's too early to rush. And yet I was done in the low 3's. Hesitated once at DICE (41A: Backgammon pair) — had the "DI-" and thought "??" and put an "S" at the end and moved on — and again at "LARS" (63A: "___ and the Real Girl" (2007 film)), which I've never ever ever heard of. That hiccup was the only real resistance the puzzle offered, and it wasn't much. Clues were very straightforward. The end.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *Mark the transition from an old year to the new, maybe (count down)
  • 11D: *Period of contemplation (quiet time)
  • 37A: *Measure with strides (pace off)
  • 33D: *Reverse a position (back track)
  • 60A: *New neighbors event (open house)
  • 1A: This plus that (both) — OK, I hesitated here too. "... THOSE?"
  • 19A: Restaurant owner in an Arlo Guthrie song (Alice) — saw "Alice's Restaurant" recently. Odd and depressing and kind of aimless. Hard to believe same guy directed "Bonnie and Clyde."
  • 51A: Neighbor of Macedonia and Montenegro (Serbia) — part of the world where my geography is most hazy, but I had S...IA before ever seeing the clue, so no problem.
  • 3D: Object of Teddy Roosevelt's "busting" (trust) — also, bronco, but that's another story...
  • 4D: Millennium Falcon pilot in "Star Wars" (Han Solo) — his crossword cred is very high. His name, front and back, is very grid-friendly, and he can be used as a clue for LEIA (as he was ... Sunday, I think). Here's part 3 of the 7-part "Phantom Menace" review:
  • 8D: What bronzers simulate (tans) — another hesitation I forgot about. "Bronzers" = ... people who bronze things? People who win bronze medals? Forgot "bronzer" was a skin application.
  • 22D: Name widely avoided in Germany (Adolf) — as opposed to the rest of the world, where it remains tremendously popular.
  • 26D: "Death Be Not Proud" poet (Donne) — New semester starts for me today. My17th-century literature class will eventually be reading this and a mountain of other DONNE poems. Because he is great.
  • 39D: Jill's portrayer on "Charlie's Angels" (Farrah) — her (famous) poster hung on my step-brother's wall when I was growing up. That is how I picture her whenever I see her name. Not a bad way to be remembered, I guess.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


lit.doc 7:02 AM  

[drafted soon after the NYT posted online CST] If wonderful puzzles like this continue (yeah, I know, Thursday cometh, but), I’m gonna to morph into Mr. Happy Pencil. Went so smoothly for me (context is 11:44) I was almost solving faster than I could key and mouse (is that a verb?).

And totally no crap fill that I could spot. Or step in. Or whatever. Tuesday-not-Monday for the several unsurprising missteps, e.g. TOUCH before REACH, CELEBRATE before COUNTDOWN, and EXCUSE (married folk *must* understand this one!) before DENTED. Even fill that offered a bit more resistance than the rest was crossed with straightforward stuff: VAUNT, ADELE, OTOES, and BOCCE caught my attention (the last two are pure “learned from CWs” for me).

All that and a nice theme. That I didn’t see till nearly done. But, still. And 39D made me wonder if there are *any* then-teen males out there who don’t remember The Poster.

OK, back at 5:50 a.m. CST (yeah, I’m a teacher, so, yeah, I’m up this early). @Rex, thank you ever so much for providing “The Poster” I ref’d above. Puzzle rated as I expected, and your time, though astonishing to me, was also expected. Will now take time to let the coffee suffuse while watching your as-always wonderful video embeds.

fikink 7:18 AM  

Nifty puzzle.
Almost a pangram.
Nice seeing the word VAUNT.
Aren't the usual expressions, "Stay down" and "Stay back"? Is KEEP DOWN good English? Kinda like the interchangeable "let" and "leave."
Is it "Let me alone," or "Leave me alone," or does it matter?

Alice's Restaurant is a memory. Thanks, Rex.

I still call Mr. Solo, "Hans." sheesh!

And from the far reaches, a JOKE from my childhood:
Knock, Knock.
Who's there?
ADOLF who?
ADOLF ball hit me in da head.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:29 AM  

I noted a shout-out to ACME: 5 D, MIDAIR. Wouldn't that make a great name for an airline serving the center of the USA?!

Also, those tribal names of the Native Americans which Rex found in the SALINAS Valley! I could imagine constructors everywhere latching onto "Esselen" or "Ohlone". Such useful collections of common letters! And pure Naticks for all of us!

Hoping for more of a challenge tomorrow.

lit.doc 7:31 AM  

This is like totally self-indulgent, I know, but. Graduated from high school in '69, and me & all the guys I knew drew numbers under 100 in the lottery. I flunked the physical, but other friends not so lucky.

Point is, I didn't know this footage even EXISTED. Thank you Rex! It soooo captures that dreadful moment in time.

What, like there was a downside for getting busted for being effing capital-S stoned when that sadistic corpsman drew our blood? Cf. any documentary of the carnage for the altenative.

OK, everybody, let's do the FISH cheer one more time.

David 7:33 AM  

Not very memorable puzzle - but maybe I should "keep" my thoughts to myself?

But..."LARS and the Real Girl" - what a wonderful movie! When Ryan Gosling received a Golden Globe for his performance, I put this movie on our Netflix queue. (Netflix makes this so easy!) And when it came in the mail, it proved to be a quirky tearjerker.
LARS should have been the word of the day, instead of Rex's homeboy choice!

dk 7:45 AM  

@lit doc, back in the day I used to treat people who talked about Mr. Happy Pencil.

Since @fifkink opened the door, One former client was a 12 year old boy who had under gone a severe psychotic break. He generally did not speak except to share his joke: "I wish I was a plumber so I could fix FARRAH's faucet." I never really got the joke but my client's peers (also generally mute, disoriented, etc.) would laugh like crazy (no pun intended).

Which brings me to this puzzle. A pleasant, if somewhat disoriented Tuesday. My knowledge of INUIT culture and language continues to grow, along with mid-east geography thanks to puzzle land.

SALINAS=Me and Bobby Magee to this one time patron of Alice's Restaurant.

As always Ms. Paula a TIPTOP Tuesday.

*** (3 Stars)

lit.doc 8:05 AM  

@dk, LOL. My late wife was a clinical psychologist in private practice, so I know that there are waaaay worse things than suddenly realizing that you're Mr. Happy Pencil. :-)

BTW (this is the first question my wife would have asked, I'm certain), is your avatar doll anatomically correct?

joho 8:22 AM  

I was really impressed that Paula could come up with five compound words with both front and back working with KEEP to form ten new phrases. And then make it all fit elegantly into a crossword puzzle.
Brava Paula!

@fikink ... I was thinking it's like, "He couldn't KEEP DOWN that awful gruel." Gross, I know.

@Bob Kerfuffle ... As in MIDAIR collision? Yikes! Actually "Where trapeze artists meet" was one of my favorite clues and answers today. I can just see them up in the air.

Today my word is "cardemis" ... a skin disease contracted from too much shuffling.

Tinbeni 8:50 AM  

Aaah, a puzzle with a '60s-'70s appeal from your write-up.

Only problem, did not know the poet, DONNE, but the crosses got it.

One Mug-of-Coffee, rating 'too easy.'

CoolPapaD 8:53 AM  

@lit.doc and dk - I actually had to Google "Mr. Happy Pencil" to see what you were talking about - I guess my mind is in the gutter!

I almost lost it when I filled in the bleed-over from yesterday, PAR - enough golf for the week (or year)! Please, give me baseball names!

I enjoyed this, but I'm not too crazy about KEEP DOWN, KEEEP OFF, KEEP BACK, or KEEP OPEN. They don't seem to be much more than, say, KEEP BOTH or KEEP STEP. I thought for sure that Rex was going to embed the timeless Brady Bunch video with these priceless lyrics:

We're gonna keep on, keep on, keep on, keep on dancing all through the night.

We're gonna keep on, keep on, keep on doing it right

We're gonna keep on, keep on , keep on movin

Gonna keep on, keep on, keep on grooving

Keep on singing and dancing all through the night

Great day, all!

matt 8:54 AM  

This was such a smooth, enjoyable puzzle that I actually laughed when I got to PAR on the bottom.

dk 8:55 AM  

@lit doc, avatar is a part of my Barbie and Ken series. It is Skipper. Step twins accuse me of creating doll porn, but when I told them about Mr. Happy Pencil they said I look good in comparison. I told them it was Rex's fault. Please note, lovely wife is an english prof.

Doug 9:05 AM  

This felt like a Monday puzzle. I solved it so quickly that it reminded me of the old days in Times puzzles, when you didn't know whether it would hard or easy, and if you finished it quickly, you just thought, "I'm on the constructor's wave length."

Zeke 9:09 AM  

How do you guys get Mr Happy Pencil? Mine doesn't show up unless I unlock the solution, and the key only appears a day late. Am I stuck in some time warp or something? Or is there Mr Happy Pencil in the applet also?

slypett 9:16 AM  

A nice puzzle, like a nice corned beef deli sandwich on rye should slide down effortlessly, with no resulting heartburn. Pickle anyone?

PlantieBea 9:28 AM  

A very fast Tuesday for me. Favorites: BOCCE, HESSIAN, ESSENCE, ESQUE, and QUIET TIME. Palate cleanser, fitting description Rex.

A. ROLF 9:45 AM  

OK, OK - I can't even find out what/who Mr. Happy Pencil is by Googling. How about a brief explanation or a link?

Puzzle - OK. Not as much fun as PG's usual. HESSIAN, NEATNIK, and SNERT were gimmes. SALINAS should have been, but I didn't read the clue to the end and started with SILICON. Then carelessly left the I in. SILINAS gave me VIUNT - WTF. Took a bit of time but easily fixed.

My post fender-bender fender was RENTED to start, but I realized in the final check that A. ROLF didn't seem particularly to be avoided except that it sounds, well, dorky to the max. But I bet that's enough to make Germans avoid it anyway, so there is a second solution of sorts for you.


Elaine 9:48 AM  

Ya gotta read the comments, Friend.

Really? Aside from KEEP DOWN breakfast (think early pregnancy,) what about war movies and cop-show shoot-outs?

PACE OFF....you've never paced off an impromptu volleyball line, horseshoe distance, croquet court? Some folks just MUST get out more! That said, I will have to Google Mr. Happy Pencil, as I apparently had the same kind of thought as CoolPapaD. tsk.

Donne...HS English literature, college world literature... Wouldn't be the same without him. Maybe you know his works and the name just wouldn't come up...For Whom the Bell Tolls...does it ring a bell?

Troilus' nickname?

Judith 10:04 AM  

Easy Peasy! Needed this after last week's challenges....

Anyone who hasn't seen Lars and the Real Girl should really watch it. If you don't like it, maybe you don't have a heart.

Unknown 10:07 AM  

Whenever I hear Arlo singing "Alice's..." I think of a cookbook in my collection,"The Cookbook of Alice B. Toklas," Gertrude Stein's partner. One recipe calls for 70-something tablespoons of butter for scrambled eggs. Wow, that's almost as good as Nero Wolfe's cookbook.(published in '73)
@Rex: Three Cheers for J. Donne. Lucky you to be teaching him.
Lucky students to have you teaching him.

Van55 10:26 AM  

A fery nice Monday-ish puzzle. I didn't think the theme was great, but who needs a theme, anyway?

DB Geezer 10:31 AM  

I ahve to brag. This was the first puzzle in a long time that I was able to complete without googling. No TV shows or movie references.
I put king in first for backgammon pair.

I presume that avatar is the little picture that some of you have on your comment site. How do you put it there, please?

Charles Bogle 10:36 AM  

Favorites: TABOO, VAUNT, NEATNIK, TIPTOP, ADHOC....any time I can latch onto the theme fairly early and actually deploy it to crack a puzzle is a great day for me! Thanks Ms. Gamache--and particularly refreshing after yesterday's debacle-

btw...I read somewhere that the Farrah poster is the best-selling of its kind of all time!

fikink 10:41 AM  

@Elaine, @joho, YES! KEEP DOWN as it pertains to food. Absolutely! Didn't think of it.

@Elaine, cop shows, shoot-outs, not so much. I go with "Stay down!" but it may be a regionalism.

ArtLvr 10:42 AM  

@fikink -- KEEP BACK was a euphemism for making a student repeat a grade, also a synonym for concealing info... And you can't KEEP DOWN a person determined to get ahead, or a truth that will out!

I thought Paula did an outstanding job here, even if it was slightly bland overall, a bit like PBJ. I liked the ending -ESQUE, and the TABOO burping in public... As for taboo names, we had a Berliner ADOLF in our family tree way back but his son, a junior, was known as Great-uncle Ted!


Two Ponies 10:43 AM  

Smooth and pleasant solve today.
I enjoyed going through the theme answers in the end.
As Bob K. noted, I hope no one uses those tribe names. Never heard of them ever.
The Teddy R. clue reminded me to thank whoever recommended "Mornings on Horseback" recently. It just arrived and looks promising.
Speaking of books and Inuits, I recommend "The Terror" about the search for the Northwest Passage.
While all of you young boys were drooling over Farrah some of us girls wanted to be her. Love that hair and dazzling smile.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Solid Tuesday, IMHO. Alice's Restaurant is a classic, and I love my LP. Saw Arlo on the 40th Anniversary Tour a couple of summers ago, and saw him again this summer with Ritchie Havens.

Since I do the puzzle in the paper on the train to work, I have no idea who/what Mr. Happy Pencil is.

It's a sunshine day

ArtLvr 10:50 AM  

p.s. KEEP IT DOWN too, means STOP IT -- or turn down the volume!


retired_chemist 10:52 AM  

@ DB Geezer - you need a Blogger account to set up an avatar. Go to iGoogle and it will give you useful link(s).

Zeke 10:56 AM  

@Elaine - I've read the comments, usually repeatedly, every day for probably the past two years. I still don't know some of you seem to be able to get the notification of a correct solution on this day's puzzle. From reading these I know there are sites which can provide the Answer Key to this day's puzzle, beyond that I can't recall ever seeing the answer to my question.

To all paper solvers - When you do a puzzle in Across Lite, when you correctly solve the puzzle (in some cases) you get a popup, which has a pencil with a grin on its face, telling you of this fact.

Fred the Fireman 11:07 AM  

For those who doubt the phrase KEEP BACK, here's a view of the tail end of our fire engine.

Masked and Anonymous 11:34 AM  

This puzzle definitely has a more shapely and complete feel to it than Monday's edition.
(In a way, have to like Monday's, too, just because it was so..."bent". Hope Holden B. keeps crankin' 'em out -- "bent" can be good, man!)
Paula G. always does good work, with a smooth, polished feel.

Back to "bent"... that "Phantom Menace" review is a real hoot! Keep expecting a big moth to hover across the screen; haven't finished it yet, so will keep looking. Ewww... word verification is going to make me type "canks" in order to publish this. Sounds pretty gross.

retired_chemist 11:39 AM  

@ Zeke et al. - I solve in AL but never see Mr. Happy Pencil. I imagine it only comes after the answer key is activated, some 24 hours afterward. Actually if I do an archived puzzle online correctly, I get a congratulations screen, and I think there is a pencil on it. I presume this is what you mean andf it cones at some point for an AL solve too.

Sfingi 11:42 AM  

Nattick at LARS x SNERT. Otherwise, like falling off a log.
I started in the South and feared another golf puzzle.

Liked RUTH and ROTH.

No paranoia, but LA had "Uncle" and "die" and NYT had UNC and DICE. I have a single fuzzy die hanging in my car. Some say it's a trap for people who dare ask why I have only one "dice," so that I can correct them. Some say I'm a misanthrope, but "No man is an island."
Actually, it was the only green die in the dollar store.

@2 Ponies - Teddy Roosevelt, another cousin. Sadly, I just found out that after the 1891 lynchings of 11 Sicilians in New Orleans, his reaction was "Good riddance." Mornings goes up to 1895, but doesn't mention that.

Stan 11:57 AM  

Exemplary Tuesday. Easy (balm for the ego) but with some nifty words and an unforced theme locking it all together.

6D (IDONT) was cute.

Once saw bluesman Howlin' Wolf at Alice's Revisited in Near North Chicago. I think the place had the same owners as the Stockbridge restaurant.

Lars and the Real Girl: recommended (but don't read the plot summary--it sounds stupid).

PJ 11:57 AM  

@Two Ponies - Trust me, while we boys were drooling over that picture, we too wished all you girls looked like her.

Noam D. Elkies 12:22 PM  

Hey, where's my variety grid? I feel cheated!

Nice Tuesday theme, even if some of the component phrases (both in the grid and in combination with 57D:KEEP) are marginal.

@DB Geezer: it would be nice to have zero TV/movie references, but this puzzle doesn't quite get there (4D:HANSOLO).

10D:SALINAS did show up six times in xwordinfo's memory; three of them were clued as Steinbeck's birthplace, including the most recent one, also by Paula Gamache, two years ago. 5D:MIDAIR was last seen eight years ago, and four times before that, with two "Kind of collision" clues and one trapeze.

22D:ADOLF also has five earlier hits; two acknowledge the 31A:TABOO as "First name in W.W.II infamy", the others clue the name fia chemist von Baeyer and violinist Busch.

And while I'm at it, the full name 4D:HANSOLO has eight precedents, including three in a row from BEQ.

Yes, I too looked for "those" for 1A, and liked the 6D:IDONT clue.


chefbea 12:25 PM  

Easy fun Tuesday puzzle. I too laughed when I saw PAR

@fikink Did you get my e-mail yesterday about St. louis Arch?

xyz 12:30 PM  

Puzzles leave a lot to be desired lately, trying too hard and it shows. Theme answers clunky. Average Tuesday time, theme clunky, don't quite work. Better than yesterday, that wasn't too hard to do.

CoolPapaD 12:32 PM  

@ tptsteve - Pretty funny!

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

I enjoyed this solid puzzle with some fun clues (5D, e.g.) and fresh-seeming fill. One of my faster solves.

I also second (third? fourth?) the recommendations of "Lars and the Real Girl". Well worth watching.

Mary in NE

Tinbeni 12:39 PM  

Oh, that Donne ...
I admit I was having such a quick solve, I didn't need the down clue.
Looked at it, seemed right and went on.
H.S. English Lit. class was 40 years ago, must have been hiding in a brain cell I killed with my Scotch.

Thanks, I do these on paper in ink. Mr.Happy Pencil ... well I thought it was a sex or drug ref. LOL

Ulrich 1:17 PM  

Before hitting 57D, I was wrecking my brain trying to think of a piece of machinery or software for which DOWN/BACK/OFF/TIME/OPEN were buttons or commands--to no avail (if you're not speed-solving, you have time to let your mind go on tangents like that, which I enjoy). So, the hint at 57D came as a revelation and was very much appreciated...

.. and I agree, "keep both" and "keep step" isn't that more far-fetched than some theme answers, which endears the puzzle more to me, not less.

I remember that the first time the declining popularity of "Adolf" in post-WWII Germany came up here, I learned that "Benedict" has suffered a similar fate in the US.

mac 1:29 PM  

Paula Gamache's typical elegant puzzle. Easy but with dense theme, I had no problem with any of the expressions. As usual I like her clues, especially 6D, and Hessian, -esque, vaunt and bocce. I actually have a pair of bocce shoes, don't ask.

I ran into a little temporary trouble because I plunked down an s at 42 without having the full word. Other write-over was pace out instead of - off. I have seen the name Adolph in puzzles clued with "Ochs).

@joho: that would be carditis or dardosis.

@v: I don't think that was really supposed to be a cookbook.

@Bob Kerfuffle: don't give the constructors any ideas. Already forgot those tribes....

Bob Kerfuffle 1:36 PM  

@Noam D. Elkies - In your listing of the prior appearances of MIDAIR, you missed the 12/21/09 (a Monday!) occurrence of MIDAIRREFUELING, which elicited the story from Andrea Michaels, which was the basis for my first comment this morning.

foodie 2:15 PM  

I liked it. I actually particularly like the way it underscores the "modifiers": Keep OFF, Keep DOWN, Keep BACK, (not mentioned: Keep in, Keep out, Keep up, Keep to, etc...). It's one of the features of the English language that's hardest to grasp if you're not a native speaker-- the extent to which prepositions can transform meaning when used in this way. I find that my foreign students continue to struggle with those nuances way after they have mastered many other aspects of the language.

In doing this puzzle, you get the sense that the constructor loves this facet of the language-- the combinatorial logic of words and the way it enriches meaning.

dk 2:38 PM  

@two ponies and others, Do you think FARRAH TANS with bronzer? @pj if you stare at her thighs for a really, really, really long time I think you will agree: bronzer.

Google Mr. Happy Pencil -- No way, he is way to cool for google. And the legend begins.

Gotta go, created a Severus Snape paper doll for lovely wife's birthday (she loves him, alas who can compete with a potion master) and need to get this printed off. I am sure I will make the Kinko guys day. I will find out if he has recovered from the Barbie targets I had printed up for my sister.

ps. the word verifications we have to type these days make great cuss words.

d(down in 3)k

Glitch 2:44 PM  


Re: Alice's Revisted --- Different "Alice's":

"We had no liquor license, true, (our landlord at the time was a church), but we were hardly a coffee house." This quote is dedicated to the memory of Norm Wagner who took over the management of Alice's Revisited in 1972 from the original owner, Ray Townley who started the original location of Alice's as more of a coffee house further south on Lincoln Avenue. (wiki)

As for the original, from Arlo's lyrics:

"This song is called Alice's Restaurant, and it's about Alice, and the restaurant, but Alice's Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant, that's just the name of the song, and that's why I called the song Alice's Restaurant.'

More at Alice's Restaurant , if you want to know ..... the rest of the story.


joho 2:44 PM  


Shamik 2:58 PM  

Good solid Tuesday puzzle. For my own comparisons, my time was easy-medium...but my time would't have been in the top 100 today :-(. Ahhh...I remember the days when puzzle solving was merely fun. LOL

chefbea 3:01 PM  

@mac played Bocce years ago. Had I known you then I could have borrowed your shoes

And who makes up these words we have to enter?? Did Andrea get a new job!!!

Anonymous pastead 3:04 PM  

NDE refrained from suggesting that the Brandenburg clue for 1D is now only about 85.7% correct!

"pastead" is malappropriate for a captcha, right? The point is to *stymie* spammers who would "paste ad" texts here...

Clark 3:07 PM  

For some reason my so-called mind read 63A as ["___ and the Real Girl" (007 film)]. When the crosses filled in LARS I wondered how I could have missed a James Bond film. (I once set out to watch them all -- three, four, five a week. Bad idea.)

@foodie -- These phrases have always fascinated me too, where something that looks like a preposition (but isn't functioning as one) can move about the sentence. Kind of like the separable prefix of a German verb. 'Never end a sentence with a preposition' always seemed like a lot of nonsense to me.

Doc John 3:22 PM  

I also thought that the puzzle left me kind of blah today. Maybe it's just because of the morning I've had, though. Also kind of blah. Did it in under 5, though, I guess a Tuesday record for me. Nice to see I'm not the only one who thinks of East of Eden when thinking of Salinas.

As for PACE OFF, I've seen old footage of Walt Disney actually pacing off areas of Disneyland right through the orange groves. So I wasn't bothered by it at all.

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone for their virtual condolences yesterday. Interesting, I never met the man or even saw one episode of Trapper John, M.D. (because I was busy with my own medical training at the time). But having the real nickname of Trapper, knowing what Mr. Roberts' sensibilities were like and looking somewhat like him (but not nearly as handsome- judge for yourself), I felt a certain connection to him.

Steve J 3:27 PM  

I realize the NYT tries to be all prim and proper, but public burping a TABOO? Impolite or rude, certainly, but hardly anything worthy of some sort of scarlet letter (which is what I tend to think of with things that are taboo: they're so far out of the norm that they cause people to become outcasts).

Breezed through this one, finishing it about a minute faster than my average Monday time. Only hiccup was a hesitation in the NE, where ES_UE and VA_UNT just weren't coming to me. The theme revealer actually helped me get the QUIET part of 11D, and metaphorical Mr Pencil was metaphorically happy.

Even if I didn't live in Northern California, SALINAS would have come easily to me, probably due to more than my share of John Steinbeck reading back in the day.

Overall, OK puzzle. But honestly, I was borderline ecstatic that there wasn't some sort of stupid grid gimmick again.

Steve J 3:30 PM  

@Clark: the admonition against ending sentences in prepositions is, in fact, a bunch of nonsense. It comes from an ill-sighted attempt a while back (I want to say 19th century, but it may have started in the 18th) to get English to conform to Latin grammatical rules. Bad idea, and no serious linguist will pretend there's any such rule applicable to English. As Winston Churchill is alleged to have said, "That is something up with which I shall not put!"

Meg 3:35 PM  

"Lars and the Real Girl" is, in my opinion, an odd movie, along the lines of "Fargo", "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Napoleon Dynamite". Odd can be really good....or not. But I recommend you take a look.

Easy Tuesday. Nothing to whine about.

@Lit. doc: What's that spell? Love that FISH cheer!

My captcha is ROMAM (Italian-Chinese noodles)

mac 3:35 PM  

I was just testing all of you, spelling Adolph in my comment differently than in the puzzle! Not. Went away for a few hours, glanced at the puzzle and realized my mistake....

@Doc John: you're at least as handsome, keep the avatar!

Two Ponies 3:38 PM  

@ dk, Even as a (slightly jeolous) woman I can tell that those thighs are not bronze. They are solid gold.
I'll bet those guys at Kinkos fight over who gets to do your printing.

sanfranman59 3:47 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 7:11, 8:44, 0.82, 11%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Tue 3:53, 4:28, 0.87, 17%, Easy

This one's on course to be the easiest Tuesday puzzle for both groups of solvers since I began tracking online solve times last June. It seems that Will got his Monday and Tuesday puzzles backwards this week. He's almost always spot on, but perhaps not this time.

chefwen 3:51 PM  

A nice, easy, and as @Mac said, elegant puzzle. My only pause was at VAUNT, you don't see that too often and my only write over was ENGEL over engle.

Thanks Paula G.

lit.doc 3:56 PM  

@everyone who's actually puzzled about the Mr. Happy Pencil thing, just go the the NYT website, open up an old puzz, click on Reveal Complete Solution, and Mr. HP will smile for you. Then go read up on Freud and it'll make even more sense.

@Elaine, I'm confused by one of your comments. "For Whom the Bell Tolls" is by Metallica. What's the connection to this Donne fellow?

@Clark, not ending with a preposition (ditto splitting an infinitive) is one of several not-really-a-rule rules floating around. The grammar-geek equivalents of urban legends. Famous quip by Churchill when corrected for ending with a prep., "That is one type of nonsense up with which I will not put".

foodie 3:59 PM  

@Doc John, I agree with mac on both counts.

It's weird that even the position of your hands is similar! You seem more approachable, though.

@Clark and Steve J, yeah, the word preposition always gives me pause, because it sounds like it should come BEFORE the term it modifies, but of course it doesn't always do so. I really like that Churchill saying. For English, that rule is absurd.

lit.doc 4:00 PM  

@Steve J, You posted re the preposition question while I was keying same (though I think your memory of Churchill's words is more accurate).

Stan 4:13 PM  

@Glitch: oops -- that's what I get for not fact-checking my own comments. It was something that I heard at the time, just completely wrong. Thanks for the info.

LetsRevisitRex'sItwasn'tAPoemRant 4:15 PM  

C'mon Lit Doc, we all know that the phrase "for whom the bell tolls" was originally from a poem by John Donne

fikink 4:39 PM  

@lit.doc - and here I thought you were referring to the artist Cam de Leon. I even emailed him this morning!

Tinbeni 4:56 PM  

@Lit.doc., Steve J. & Clark
re: the preposition ending thing.

Reminds me of the joke about the guy from the South who walked up to group at Havard and asked;
"Can you tell me where the library is at?"
Well, one preppy turns to him and says;
"Here at Harvard we don't end a sentence with a preposition."
And he replied;
"Oh, excuse me. My mistake.
Can you tell me where the library is at, Asshole?"

Meg 4:56 PM  

PACE OFF is an example (in ESL terminology) of a "phrasal verb", which is really more like an idiom. Looking up PACE and OFF will not give a non-native a very clear idea of what the expression means.

KEEP DOWN, KEEP BACK and KEEP OPEN you could probably guess, but try CHECK OUT, CHECK INTO, CHECK UP etc. There are dictionaries written just for phrasal verbs and they are liberally sprinkled throughout our language.

lit.doc 5:30 PM  

@fikink, wow! Thanks for pointing me in that direction.

@LetsRevisit..., yes, we do all know that.

dk 5:48 PM  

@lit doc and @elaine, I have to listen to the Metallica Version whenever the lads plug ipods into the car radio.

And, @lit doc sometimes a pencil is just... happy.

@Doc John, I was sad when Parnell Roberts left Bonanza. I never saw Trapper John MD, but reading his (Roberts) obit I wish I had. Cannot comment on your appearance as the Farrah "Poster" post is right next to the "Leave your comment" box, strangely I am humming the Jaws theme.

@elaine, at Kinkos I printed out an extra copy for the little girl who said "Mommy what are paper dolls?" I think the mom wanted them as well, what is it with these potion masters?

whoops, over the line

Glitch 6:34 PM  


As was posted yesterday (@R_C?), "...imprecision, even when well-intentioned, never makes it through THIS august group!" ;-)

[If it wasn't R_C I'll hear it!]


Stan 7:16 PM  

Yes :-D

3 and O-U-T spells out.

LetsRevisit..., 7:24 PM  

@Lit Doc - I wasn't implying that you, and most everyone here, didn't know of John Donne. The comment was based on the fact that quite some time ago, before you became a regular poster, Will clued DONNE the author of the "poem" referenced here. This inspired in Rex a spirited reply that it wasn't a poem, but was quite explicitely prose. Rex's response was spirited, and accurate, enough to warrant a correction in the Times.

edith b 7:37 PM  

Very nice puzzle after the last few days. Rex was rignt about this one being a palate cleanser. Nothing like a Paula Gamache or an ACME puzzle for what ails you.

I guess we are officially back on track from the foolishness of the last few days. When it comes right down to it, I don't much care for all those bells and whistles. I like plain vanilla puzzles.

John Donne 8:39 PM  

Please read my Meditation XVII. But if you have recently imbibed in alcohol, fugettaboutit.

Elaine 9:24 PM  

I feel like I woke up on the back of a very ill-tempered mule and got throwed-- (something like being thrown, but more violent.)

You want to impress ME with a mere 40-yrs-ago-lit-class in HS? ha, ha, ha! I GRADuated before your lit class.

and @lit.doc
it should be beneath YOU to try and torment me with Metallica, since you gotta know I have no clue what that really is-- (band? heavy metal, given its name? or just a bondage fetish group?) And you've had your fun, per the poor anony-person....

Did you mix me up with someone who commented on your dollies? No matter how disturbing I think it is, I swear I have been quite, quite silent on that matter. Least said, soonest mended. Or so I hear.

Well, all of youse can have yer fun, and I will be waiting when you recover from the hang-overs...
Dear, dear!

carac----missing the "as"

joho 9:26 PM  

@Doc John ... I was sorry to hear that your avatar died. I remember him from "Bonanza." I never watched "Trapper John." He was a good looking man, but you, most definitely are, too! Thanks for sharing that great photo of you. I'm thinking you don't wear that outfit while riding all those roller coasters!

Anonymous 10:09 PM  

@Elaine, Dude, what IS your problem?

sanfranman59 10:23 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 7:18, 6:55, 1.06, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:21, 8:45, 0.84, 12%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:40, 1.04, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 3:48, 4:28, 0.85, 15%, Easy

Today's median solve times are 10 and 15 seconds faster than the previous best Tuesday times. The numbers are almost identical to yesterday.

Tinbeni 10:40 PM  

I'm only impressed that I am still alive 40 yrs after H.S.
How much crap from then, and college, I forgot I always attribute to the Scotch.
As to John Donne, dead poets, who were not published during their lifetime, are the first to go.
Is that the Shakespeare syndrome?
Oh well, time to kill some more brain cells.

@Anonymouse 10:09 your view as the non-lead dog is apparent.

foodie 11:50 PM  

@ Meg, "phrasal verb"! Wow! I've been looking for a special name for this construction before I knew it existed. Thank you!

Such an erudite group!

andrea adolf michaels 4:25 AM  

Do you think ESALEN took its name from the Esselens mentioned in TWOTD?

@Bob Kerfuffle
Thanks for saving me hours trying to create an avatar. AND for remembering one of my stories!
Adolf was also on the short list for the airline...

I know for a FACT that it was Princeton that joke took place at!

maggiejiggs 5:51 PM  

You should see Lars and the Real Girl. Fun movie.

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