Chardonnay from Burgundy / SAT 2-20-10 / First Japanese infielder to sign with a major-league team, familiarly / The Pearl of the Orient

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Medium


Word of the Day: ran-tan (riot) —

A person or persons who makes extremely off-the-wall remarks on any subject matter.

(Urban Dictionary)

• • •

I gave this one a medium rating, but I bet we'll have a split of people who found it a cakewalk and people who found it, maybe not impossible, but not a cakewalk. I'd think this one and yesterday's should have been switched.

(By the way, have any of you ever actually been on a cakewalk? When I was a kid, the small town near where I grew up had a little community center that had a cakewalk diagram painted on the floor, and sometimes it would be put to use. It's very exciting when you're seven or eight years old to walk around that circle and see if the number you're standing on when the music stops is the one that wins the cake [more often it was a pie.] I don't know why "cakewalk" began to be equated with something very simple. It's not like everybody wins a cake in a cakewalk, or a pie either. Cakewalks are no cakewalk. Granted, if you're seven or eight and it's a little town where everybody but you is nearly a hundred years old, they usually make sure you get a cake.)

I'm not a good judge of the difficulty of this one. First, I'm tired and getting the flu. I had the bright idea earlier today that I wouldn't do a write-up but would do a little documentary about doing the puzzle--i.e., I would do a video of myself doing the puzzle with real-time commentary, edit it down to three or four minutes, throw in some gratuitous nudity, and call that the write-up. I actually gave it a shot. This is how far I made it:

You were hoping for the nudity, weren't you? You get that with the subscription service.

Second, I gave up sooner than I normally would have, since I don't want to be up til 2:15 like last night, and am not sure whether I'd have cracked this one on my own. (I got all of it done on my own except a chunk of the NW. Googling for KAZ got the rest of it.) I suspect I wouldn't have finished. I like PG's puzzles most of the time, and this one will probably have some big fans. As for me, this one this time is just too sporty and foreign for my tastes.

So yeah, puzzle, it's not you, it's me.

The people who found it a cakewalk will probably be those to whom 18A: First Japanese infielder to sign with a major-league team, familiarly (Kaz Matsui) was a gimme. As for me, it was bad enough when I saw "first Japanese infielder," and it got much worse when I saw "familiarly." "Familiarly" has risen up the charts to become my least favorite type of clue. I am almost never familiar with the way people are familiarly known.

Those same people probably also knew right away how to spell Usain Bolt (50A: 2008 Olympics sensation). I did not and in fact was misled for a long time by the opening "USA." That's probably what she meant to happen. (I'm not so sure, by the way, that that crossing with Irina [33D: ____ Spalko, Indiana Jones villainess] was fair.) I detest the Olympics, though I can stomach the track and field stuff better than I can stomach all the beautiful snow people. I'd like the Olympics better if they let more ugly people compete.

I did get Lebron (44D: James of the court) with little fanfare. I don't know squat about baskeball, but I know the name Lebron James.

The foreign and foreign-esque clues and answers also made the puzzle less interesting to me than perhaps it was to less xenophobic solvers. In that category are 24D: _______ Eireann (Irish legislative assembly) (Dail) [and is that fair to cross timbal (11D: kettledrum) with Dail?]; Nein (46A: ___ doch!" [German reply]) (Are there only about ten words in German? Judging from crosswords, there appear to be only about six letters. And German reply to what?); Stara (48A: ___________ Zagora, Bulgaria); Grazioso (3D: Elegantly, to Brahms); and Pouilly Fuisse (15D: Chardonnay from Burgundy), though I did know that one, having worked at a wine store in Austin back in my grad school days.

I'm going to get to some stuff I like, but first, we would be delinquent in our duties if we did not call our constructor out on the atrocity of 38A: I.M. not sent through AOL? (Pei). It reminds me of a joke my son told me a few days ago:

"Daddy, how do you spell 'i-cup'?"
"I've never heard of an i-cup. Do you mean eggcup?"
"No! How do you spell i-cup?"
"I don't think it's a word--"
"How do you spell it?!"
"All right then, good grief. . . . I-C-U-P."

Ensuing of merriment.

The punchline: My son is seven. He doesn't understand why Paul Simon or any man would divorce Princess Leia. This, however, is the New York Times Saturday crossword puzzle.

Here's some stuff I liked:
  • 17A: Like the drummer for rock's Def Leppard, amazingly (one-armed) — That's another one that will cause camp divisions. If you were under forty for any portion of the eighties, you probably entered this one immediately. The town where I was born has a dove hunt for amputees every year, billed as the "One-Arm Dove Hunt." I knew a bunch of one-armed men when I was growing up in the north Texas oil fields. It was rare for any man of my grandfather's generation to have all his digits and limbs. Granted, it was also rare for them to find success with hair metal bands. Most became county commissioners and drove around on road-graders all day drinking Schlitz.

  • 21A: Writer of the 1950 Tony-winning play "The Cocktail Party" (Eliot) — News to me that T.S. Eliot won a Tony. It's worth knowing.

  • 25A: Ran-tan (riot) — I'm putting this in the "stuff I liked" column for lack of a WTF? column. That Urban Dictionary definion is the only one I found, and it doesn't look too sanitary. Kate Bush has a song with "Ran Tan" in the title. There are several others in the WTF? column, if I had one, including ideality (2D: perfection) and the aforementioned timbal.

  • 7D: The Pearl of the Orient (Manila) — Again, something I did not know. I know it now, but upon further research, I don't really know what it is I know. I mean, says who and so what? I didn't know Manila was known for anything but its fine office supplies.

  • 19D: Copenhagen alternative (Skoal) -- My favorite clue/answer pair by a mile. This is the day the New York Times acknowledged that snuff-dippers exist.

  • 47D: Diminutive chthonic figure (gnome) -- Chthonic! If you're going to go to all the trouble of learning to speak, acquiring a vocabulary, and engaging in the dialect of the tribe, hell yes, by all means use a word like "chthonic" before you die.
Thanks to Rex for letting me play in his sandbox again--sorry for screwing up the formatting and getting lazy with the pictures today. I'm not sure who's doing the write-up tomorrow, but it was nice talking to you all again, and good to have met some of the newer folks. Hope everybody makes it home safe and with good stories to tell.

Signed, Wade

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


lit.doc 3:30 AM  

Hello again, Wade. Sorry to hear about the flu thing. Did the swine thing in the fall, no fun. Terrific write up nonetheless. And I’m certain that the full monty would be a money-maker. Totally agree re the Natickosity of some of the foreignese crosses—I was so patently hosed from the get-go that I didn’t even bother running the clock, and googled freely. File this one under Learning Opportunities. Lowlites follow.

I’m bad enough without encouragement from the “we’re too proper for anything nastier than ‘douche bag’” NYT. Question: What has seven arms and sucks? (My iPod testifies to this only being poor taste, not a musical judgment.)

The central cross was good for a laugh, whether or not intended. Hit me while looking at YO__ _LY IS OP__. Excessive consumption of POUILLY FUISSE could easily enough lead to such forgetfulness. Or so I hear.

54A Pet Peeve Post (re the too-oft unacknowledged editorial role of translation). The Prince might reasonably be viewed as a job application to the Medici (read the Discourses instead, the issue of Machiavelli’s maturity). Point here is that the infamous phrase “the end justifies the means” is a hatchet job by one particular hackademic. Doctoral minor was philosophy, and in a seminar with about half a dozen translations present (all of us being old enough to already own copies) the sentence was, in all but the one and with only minor variations, translated as “In the affairs of men, and especially of Princes, where there is no impartial arbiter, one must consider the final consequences”.

Last to fall (dragging me down with it) was SE, due in large measure to my ill-founded confidence in FIXES and FAIRY emanating from square 47. Imagine my consternation.

Disclaimer: if any of my terminal periods lack two trailing spaces, blame @Judith.

bolUSAt 5:20 AM  

My ROAD TO RUIN ran from A in DAIL to Z in KAZ. Brahms (a German composer) led me astray on GRAZIOSO (an Italian term). The TIMBAL DAIL crossing got me. I only know timpani and kettledrums. Leo Arnaud's BUGLER'S DREAM is the Olympic theme. It features the kettledrums before the brass fanfare (reminiscent of "O Canada") begins.

Elaine 6:48 AM  

What are you doing up at this hour?

KAZ? They call him KAZ? I could not even find his nickname on Google. I can't believe I knew MATSUI, not that it did me any good.

I got the NE pretty handily, though I was surprised to find that COPRA was called 'naja naja.' I was unable to get over TIMPANi....Thus the error.

I am over 40 and no, I did not know they had a one-armed drummer. He must be busier than a one-armed paper-hanger during concerts.

CLue for IOU (30A) was cute.
Then I actually got POUILLY FUISSE, (a surprise, as I prefer California Chardonnay.) In fact, I slogged out the middle, with FOAL and SOLARCELLS, and, and....

Hand up for MEDICI.... and for just giving up! I was using white-out by the time I threw in the towel. They should have saved this one for the #5 slot at ACPT.

Captcha is 'hangun'--but that's too good for Paula Gamache, I say!

edith b 7:16 AM  

I may be the only female in this group to whom Hart Crane from yesterday and KAZMATSUI were both neons. My husband had season tickets to the Yankees - a 12 game package as tickets to the Yankees are really expensive - and they had a Japanese player named Hidecki MATSUI and since I am more a word fan than a baseball fan, I was aware of another Japanese player named MATSUI in New York whose first name was Kazou. I thought it was interesting that two unrelated Japanese people with the same name both played in the same city. All this is a long way around the barn to say my opening salvo in this charming Paula Gamache puzzle was a long name in the NW. Unlike yesterday. unfortunatly, it didn't break open the section for me.

I knew the ONEARMED drummer and entered it with no crosses and this gave me what might be the seed entry for this puzzle POULLYFUISSE off just the OU.

Like a lot of people, I suspect, I struggled with all the foreign words in this puzzle but I used my old standby of seeing them as small abstract puzzles and attacked them via crosses.

Today, I was back to normal and spent a good 45 minutes on this one but it was an enriching 45 minutes. I knew, for instance, that "The Prince" was based on one of the Medicis but another neon USAINBOLT gave me a B so I was able to enter another famous Italian, BORGIA in that spot.

Sometimes not knowing something is a good thing and it served me well in this instance.

salo 7:37 AM  

"eyecup" is a word which kind of ruins the joke since it is another spelling of "relief".

mac 8:11 AM  

Haven't seen the puzzle yet, so I ignored the comments but I did check out Wade's video; very decent!

Found yesterday's puzzle pretty tough but good; I had hitman before slayer for offer, Montel for RuPaul, and bins for bays.
@lit.doc: Merl Reagle did puzzles for 17 issues of Playboy. I'm sure crossdressing came up once or twice.

Yesterday late afternoon imsdave, Karen from the Cape and mother and Nanpilla with sister and I got together at the Bar of the Marriott in Brooklyn. Lots of puzzle stars milling about, and Merl Reagle joined us and did his amazing anagrams and generally entertained us until we had to walk to an Italian restaurant for dinner. It's hard to get to the door when you are running into so many people you want to say hello to!

After dinner we all registered and got our id tags, and after that was a program organized by Will Shortz, Peter Berlin and Magnus Palk, a visitor from Sweden.

So much fun spending time with Andrea, Rex and Sandy, PuzzeGirl and her sister and to meet or at least see all the constructors who've now arrived: Mike Nothnagel, Doug Peterson, Matt Ginsberg, Merl, Paula Gamache and most of the others whose names we see almost every day.

Got to get ready to go out to Brooklyn; registration continues and the first puzzle is at 11. Email me if you're there and you haven't met up with any of us Rexites!

dk 8:48 AM  

@mac, I am so jealous. Give 45A a hug from me.

Wade, the sports fill was a challenge. And it is true that POUILLYFUISSE is the ROADTORUIN, or at least a MISSTEP resulting in a BANKERS LIEN.

We had cakewalks in Maine at my Grand Ps church suppers (aka bean suppers). The object was to win the cake baked by the one you were SOFTON.

My grandfather ran a small fleet of fishing boats and many in his crew were missing digits.

Tell your son I will save my picture of Leia chained to Jabba for his 14th birthday. For now, have him answer a series of questions with pea green soup,

What did you have for lunch?
What did you have for snack?
What did you have for dinner?
What did you do in your bed?

*** (3 Stars) Although as it had ACME in it I should give it 20.

Secret word: latifien

SethG 9:56 AM  

I liked the PEI clue. It was ridiculous. But you're right about Copenhagen/SKOAL.

Did you know that if you confuse your crosswordese you can wind up with TRET/TEAL/SEFTON? SEFTON is obviously wrong (though maybe not so what with some of the other "words" used here), but without being familiar with "soft on" it's not obvious how to fix it...

Nice having you around, Wade.

joho 10:19 AM  

@Wade, another fabulous write-up. Not even the flu can stop you from being funny. And I totally agree with you about all the beautiful skiers and winter warriors. Not an ugly one in the bunch.

I did the whole puzzle except the NW corner. Once I got MATSUI I was certain his "familiar" first name had to be mAt. That pretty much did me in as well as never seeing IDEALITY before. Or knowing Ran-tan.

Loved ACME as "Be-all and end-all."



This was definitely challenging for me and also interesting. Nice Saturday puzzle, Paula, thank you!

Would you believe my captcha is chthonic?

retired_chemist 10:26 AM  

Terrific puzzle and terrific writeup. Thanks to both Paula and Wade.

Slapped down BIG MAC instantly, thinking I was wrong because its a special sauce (as in two all beef patties,.....), not a secret sauce. But it had legs. Also slapped down SCREW UP @ 7A (Muff), breathing a sigh of relief that it was 7 and not 6 letters, because who knows what I would have done then. ELIOT, POUILLY FUISSE, MARMOT, USAIN BOLT, and several more just came to me, who knows why. Had to laugh at YOUR FLY IS OPEN and ROAD TO RUIN.

The NE and SE were complete at about the 14 minute mark (after MEDICI was corrected) and I figured it was going to be quick to finish, since the NW and SW were already about half filled in. A walk in the park. But NOOOOOOOO......

The W was a trek. The misdirection clues caught up with me. They were pretty neat in the E but I found them nasty in the W. 28A Bourbon and others is an obvious clue in retrospect but POUILLY FUISSE had my mind bent in another direction. Pitcher's charge - thinking baseball. Ran-tan and STARA Zagora - WTF? Class action is REUNES? Ick.

Anyway, finished with admiration for the constructor because of the wide variety of knowledge that the puzzle required and the cleverness of the clues. Also one error - KAN MATSUI/GRANIOSO. If I had been willing to go on the shady side of 30 minutes I might have sorted that out. I know another KAZ - he showed the toy poodle at Westminster that won the toy group. But my mind was mush, so I didn't.

Meg 10:26 AM  

10:00 and only 8 comments. I made my sister swear that next year she will fly out from San Fran and I will fly up from St. Pete and we will be rookies at the ACPT! I will have to learn how to solve with a clock. Somehow it seems an unwelcome addition to the puzzle, the sofa and a cup of coffee.

This was a typical Saturday puzzle and I agree it was a medium. Thank god for the wine expert husband!

I thought SKOAL and Copenhagen were brands of chewing tobacco, which is not the same as snuff, is it?

I case anyone is interested, NYT second Sunday is a HEX cryptic and the WSJ has a nice variety puzzle by Patrick Berry.

Wish I were in New York.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

the puzzle didn't do much for me. lots of stuff i didn't know -- worse lots of stuff i don't have any interest in. still it only required a few googles.

i don't think i've ever heard of usain bolt before

and forced words


oh well.

PlantieBea 10:37 AM  

Truly a Saturday challenge. My ROAD to RUIN included the sports figures whom I needed to google. And PEI...I don't get

We youngsters from rural parts of the Midwest used to sound the exposure warning "your barndoor is open", greatly humoring our out-of-state friends.

Nice puzzle,Paula Gamache; funny video, Wade. Thanks for the updates, Mac.

RodeoToad 10:40 AM  

Meg, you're sort of right and sort of wrong, and it's not your fault you're wrong. Snuff and chewing tobacco are not the same thing, and there are different varieties of each, but Skoal and Copenhagen and other "moist" snuffs are sometimes marketed as chewing tobacco. Chewing tobacco, however, is actually chewed. The full leaf is used, including stems, though chewing tobacco can be either looseleaf (Red Man), plug (Brown's Mule, Cannonball, Tinsley's) or"twist" (don't know any brands. That's old school stuff, and it's hard to find outside of Appalachian states.)

There is also powdered snuff, which is the stuff people used to sniff (and some still do) but was taken orally by my grandpa's generation. It wasn't/isn't limited to men. Those who use the powdered snuff (W.E. Garrett is the main brand) are dying out. It appears that the majority of users these days are old black women.

PlantieBea 10:51 AM  

Okay, I get it now: I.M. Pei, architect. Wade, your spelling story was entertaining.

Meg 10:52 AM  

@Wade: I forgot to say thanks for your write-up. I especially enjoyed your video.

I'm impressed that you know so much about chewing tobacco! Have you tried it? I know, nosy question, but since I haven't, I'm interested in whether that stuff people spit is really as disgusting as it looks.

Was powdered snuff just ground up dried leaves?

ArtLvr 11:03 AM  

This was one of the toughest I can remember in ages, even after I had POUILLY FUISSE and YOUR FLY IS OPEN.

MY ROAD TO RUIN was strewn with rocks and hard places in the bottom areas, but I got it in the end. I still have to look up USAINBOLT.

Loved the FRET as I was out yesterday with oldest grandson, finding him the perfect starter guitar!

Thanks to Wade for filling in so nobly even with Flu, the word I'd tried at first for the Catchy thing, NET. And thanks to @ mac too, for the initial tournament bulletin -- Hi to all, and good luck!


RodeoToad 11:08 AM  

Meg, I tried it for about 35 years, but in the end decided it wasn't for me.

Unknown 11:10 AM  

Some nice stuff here, but two embarassing muffs by the constructor: MISSTEP is not a muff. A muff is done with the hands. SOFTON does not mean liking romantically. It means not punishing as severely as might be justified, which is different.

Anyone think they could get away with IDEALITY in Scrabble?

PlantieBea 11:15 AM  

Oh Artlvr: After reading your post, I discovered an error in my puzzle. I had NIT (crossing FRIT) as the CATCHY THING. Ugh, I even dreamed about nits last night. How's that for the power of the puzzle?

Captcha: ingsomya (a condition resulting in NIT dreams)

OldCarFudd 11:16 AM  

Great puzzle, even if I did give up with most of the NW corner still blank. Too much to do today.

I filled in Usain Bolt from the crossings, wondering what event was called bolt that the USA did sensationally in.

I loved PEI, your fly is open, and pouilly-fuisse. Wade, thank you for explaining about the snuff and chewing tobacco; I got skoal from the crossings, but had no idea what it meant.

Good luck to all the Rexies in Brooklyn.

Elaine 11:18 AM  

(What DOES that mean?) I agree that 'sweet on' might have been slightly better, but SOFT ON was gettable-- once I got over SOTTED (as in besotted.)

Okay, here is a story about YOURFLYISOPEN: there are different expressions for this little contretemps, meant to be more delicate or the barn door one above.... So, this history professor at the Univ of Cincinnati was pretty well-known for being the epitome of Absent-Minded Professorial ineptitude. He always had his coat buttoned wrong or forgot to comb his hair; when he got to his office each morning he phoned his wife to report he had made it (five blocks, give or take.) Inevitably, he showed up in class with his fly unzipped--and it happened to be the sad day that Hubert Humphrey had died. The class was squirming and exchanging glances, and finally one brave young woman raised her hand and said, "Er, Dr. S., the flag is at half mast!" And dear old Dr. S said, "I know, but I don't want to talk about that now."

Make that two stories:

My husband and I were introduced by his friend, the director of education at the residential treatment center where I worked. After a little desultory chat, Don asked if I would like to go to the symphony with him, and I said yes, though by the next day when he phoned me it was to go see the new movie "Superman." (Yeah, this all happened a long time ago.) So we go to the movies, and I take off my coat and sit down, and suddenly this guy I've barely met is leaning in close with his lips to my ear! Egads! And then he whispered tenderly, "Your fly is open." And it was, too. Always with the great first impressions.....

The Bard 11:20 AM  

King Richard III > Act II, scene I

KING EDWARD IV: Is Clarence dead? the order was reversed.

But he, poor soul, by your first order died,
And that a winged Mercury did bear:
Some tardy cripple bore the countermand,
That came too lag to see him buried.
God grant that some, less noble and less loyal,
Nearer in bloody thoughts, but not in blood,
Deserve not worse than wretched Clarence did,
And yet go current from suspicion!

Unknown 11:21 AM  

Oh Kaz Matsui, how I miss the way Mets fans used to boo you.

I liked this puzzle and loved the sports clues. I know there's a health contingent of anti-sports puzzlers, but how many times are there opera clues? Please, more LEBRON and KAZ MATSUI and less TOSCA.

I also like how they were modern sports clues, I feel too often NYT skews toward octogenarian puzzlers.

Great stuff.

retired_chemist 11:21 AM  

2 FYSTMF - yes., Ideality is in my dashboard dictionary, which does not seem to have anything unusual.

SOFT ON - the phrase I thought of was SWEET ON. But actually validates the clue.

retired_chemist 11:26 AM  

The witticism of my youth was "You know flies spread germs, don't you?" followed usually by an uncertain "Yeah..... ?" This led to "So zip yours up!" and raucous laughter from the perpetrator.

Oh, well, you had to be there.....

Chorister 11:27 AM  

@meg I've never tried snuff or chewing tobacco, but my granddaddy dipped snuff, and yes, it is absolutely as disgusting as anything you've every heard or seen. BUT, if you get stung by a sweat bee, run up to the first geezer you see with a pinch in his lip and have him smear a little well-wetted snuff on it. Takes the stinging right away. Amazing.

My aunt swore this was a true story. She was on a train somewhere in TN to join her ex-GI husband at the university he attended on the GI Bill when she was attacked by her appendix. They took her off the train and to a hospital where the operation was successful, but she faced a week or two of recovery in the hospital (those were the days.) A local church found out about the pore lady in hospital who knew no one and had no kin about and they took to visiting her in turns. One lovely young woman with stained teeth came, and in the course of her visit offered Auntie a pinch of her snuff. Auntie said thank you, no, I don't dip. And the young thing said, "When'd you quit?"

foodie 11:31 AM  

Oh man, I needed that! I needed to laugh out loud, several times, after I got slaughtered by this puzzle! and the ones I like best is when I have to stop for a nanosecond and then it bubbles up... like after the last sentence about the Pearl of the Orient.

And Wade, there must be a humor gene that your kid inherited.

@Mac et al, good luck everybody! Sorry I can't be there to meet you all (not compete, I don't need more competition in my life). But I'm headed out of the country on Monday. Mac, I hope you will keep up your reports!

@45A I'm in line behind dk... Knock'em dead!

Rex, you could do what kings in "Thousand and One Nights" used to do-- hide your identity and walk around observing what the populace is doing, without "observer effect". Enjoy!

George NYC 11:34 AM  

You obviously haven't been watching curling.

slypett 11:36 AM  

From the start it was like entering the twilight zone, or, later on, getting caught in quicksand (which happened to me once; I don't recommend it). The only fun I had was putting the initial O in ORISON as my final entry.

REUNES was disgusting, with IDEALITY close behind. WTF Zagora was just nasty and I don't watch Indiana Jones movies. NEIN doch doesn't make it into a German-language database.

I don't usually whine when defeated, but I feel put upon.

Raul 11:42 AM  

Richard III

Clark 11:43 AM  

Now you all have gone and done it. Not so long ago there was general complaining about using a long verb when a shorter one will do just as well. (Can't remember what the word was, something like 'orient' vs. 'orientate'.) Well now Ms. Gamache has gone ahead and done it your way, REUNES instead of 'goes to the reunion' and you still aren't happy.

IDEALITY is an ok word. But it doesn't mean perfection. Is this a case of someone misreading the definition? "1 a : the quality or state of being ideal b : existence only in idea." (Merriam-Webster) 'Ideal' in that definition means 'existing as an idea rather than as something real.' It does not mean 'perfect'. (Or has the tide already come in on this one?)

Stan 11:53 AM  

Loved getting 31A and 40A and the other parts I could manage to ponder and work out. NW and SE were beyond me, even with my wife supplying KAZ Matsui.

@mac, thanks for the reportage. More please! Enquiring minds want to know.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

This may be too technical, but there is no "renege" in bridge.

Read the rules (yes there is a rule book) - the correct term is "revoke"

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

Cop stops a stumbling drunk on the street and asks him where he's going. Drunk says "I'm looking for my car, I think someone stole it." Cop says, "where did you leave it?" Drunk says "right at he end of this key" showing the cop the ignition key. Cop says, "move along, and get home" Drunk starts to walk away, and the cop says, by the way YOURFLYISOPEN." Drunk looks down and says, "Oh no, they got my girlfreind, too"

JayWalker 12:13 PM  

A snarky "congrats" to all of you who solved this puzzle. It killed me. I am lying dead on my floor. I hated this puzzle. Excrutiating for the pure sense of its own "excrutinality." Okay - I made that word up - but I don't care. From now on, every Gamache I see I'm running from!!!

chefbea 1:29 PM  

Tough puzzle. Had to google and then come here to finish.

A while back I use to have the recipe for the the secret sauce. I'll have to look that up.

Great write up @Wade. Loved the video.

@Wade I know someone who uses dip - puts it between his lip and gum. What exactly is dip???

RodeoToad 1:49 PM  

Chefbea, in your example, "dip" is being erroneously used to mean "snuff." It's a common mistake among the dipper-semiliterate. Dip is a verb, and you can say "a dip [of snuff]", but there is no such concept of "some dip" or dip in the sense of a collective noun. Of course, my commentary is limited to the SWDD (southwestern dipper dialect); there is a great range of terminology among the various dialectical regions. In the north, and in Scandinavia, for example, snuff is referred to as "snoos" or "snus," which are words that make me laugh. Even within the various regions you will find some sub-dialects, but that is rarer in the television-internet age. I did know an old man who lived on the river and called it all "gnaw-baccy." If you ran into him, he'd ask if you had any gnaw-backy, but first he'd ask if you had any beer. Once he asked my dad if he had any beer. My dad said, "I do, but it's not cold." "Will it burn your hand?"

joho 1:55 PM  

@slypett ...wash a BIGMAC down with some POUILLYFUISSE and perhaps you won't feel so put out.

@mac ... more reports please! I hope you're all having a great time. Good luck to everybody!

Auntie AnaGram 1:58 PM  


No, I just checked your (uninformative, incomplete) profile, and I see you've only been "on" for six weeks. It's too soon to swear off Paula Gamache, and you're too young to die. (I believe you when you say you are lying on the floor, but I am suspicious this is due to something other than a homicidal puzzle.)

In a Fifties show, wouldn't this be where your male role model tells you to take it like a man? You need to set an example here, you know! Your public is watching!

jesser 2:00 PM  

Wade, you are hilarious. I laughed out loud twice. And although I am a proud gay man, I was not hoping for nudity. It's not you, it's me. Nothing personal.

My first gimme was at 15A, and then again at 17A and the NE fell in record time (with the exception of the third square in 15D, which remained blank to the very end. Me and French = not good buddies). Crosses gave me DAIL, and I'll be dailed if I ever saw that one coming.

Soon, however, SOLAR CELLS led to YOUR FLY IS OPEN, which opened up the SE and SW, with the SE falling marginally quicker than the SW. Observation: REUNES is an ugly word.

And then I went to the NW.

And I got zip diddle. I was tentative about BIG MAC, because what's the secret of Thousand Island dressing? I was certain only of STS for the Bourbon. I wanted a badger for 4D, which confirmed (to me) that BIG MAC could not be right. I know doodly squat about baseball, so that Japanese fellow had only had the S_I at the end of his name, which Was Not Helpful. After easily 30 minutes of just looking at the NW and wishing Mt. St. Helens would burp up something for me, I gazed fondly down at REUNES and gave it a pass, and then I gave up. Ms. Gamache wins by a mile.

Nonsise! (which is what the NW was to me) -- jesser

P.S. @Wade, I hope you feel better soon.

treedweller 2:11 PM  

Still haven't finished today's puzzle, but I put up a contest update at my blog.

chefbea 2:16 PM  

@Jesser I beg to differ!!! Big Mac Sauce is Not thousand Island dressing!!!

jesser 2:18 PM  

One other thing: I don't watch the Olympics either, precisely because I detest the perfection of those people. I think pocket billiards* should be an Olympic sport so that a 60-year-old fat man could kick some 18-year-old, six-pack abs in the ass. Not that I'm bitter.

* Some people call it pool, but I don't, because I do NOT play on a Brunswick table, and my sources tell me that the word 'pool' is trademarked by Brunswick, which may or may not be true, but it makes for a good story, and 'pocket billiards' has more IDEALITY to it anyway.

Yes, I am a big fan of the occasional run-on sentence. Blame John Irving.

Scrifeco! (a move starring Al Pacino?) -- jesser

jesser 2:23 PM  

@ ChefBea: Well, that is what I remember it tasting like. That or something a badger has pre-digested for my 'dining' convenience.

When in the mood for fast food, I drive to Sonic for the green chile cheeseburger with fries, which tastes great and has the added bonus of making audible the otherwise faint sound of one's arteries clanging shut.

3 and out. I am jealous of the tournament people.

Nartomli (the secret ingredient in Badger bile) -- jesser

Two Ponies 2:48 PM  

After yesterday's cakewalk this felt like climbing a mountain.
Too things I just did not know.
I did enjoy the unexpected "your fly is open" and even got the long wine answer but I just could not call it a success.
Wade's write-up saved the Saturday experience for me.
All the fly, snuff, and Wade's cold beer story are keeping me happy anyway.
Yes, some fine office products come from the Phillipines ;)

Two Ponies 2:58 PM  

Ooo, almost forgot the fun of remembering Underdog!
I think Wally Cox might have been the voice. That really takes me back, what, forty or fifty years? Yikes.

Elaine 3:13 PM  

@Two Ponies

I never saw Underdog, but for a second I did try to see if Mighty Mouse would fit. Oh well. (I miss Huckleberry Hound. And Dudley Do-right. And Rocky and Bullwinkle. and George of the Jungle. Yes, I watched those shows into my Twenties.)

Treedweller's write-up is great! Do check it out!

kingraph--the biggest graph of them all?

chefbea 3:14 PM  

@two ponies yes it was Wally cox and here is the theme song

lit.doc 3:15 PM  

@Elaine, I'm pretty sure all the posts show EST, so it was only (?) 2:30ish. I'll check the CST/EST thingy when I post this.

Think that's bad? After posting, I spent another half hour doing the Saturday LAT. So I think the answer to what was I doing up at that hour would be putting off the mountain of grading I have to do this weekend. Sigh.

lit.doc 3:16 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doak 3:22 PM  

T.S. Eliot has actually won three Tony Awards, although one imagines he rolled over in his grave a bit for the two from "Cats."

CoolPapaD 3:32 PM  

Wade - insanely funny writeups.

@mac - keep the reports coming!

@joho - your captcha made me pee a little!

Off color remark alert- One of my fellow residents back in the day used to say that certain nurses were so homely, they gave him a 26D. OK - it was funny at the time...
Overall this was a gem, but I did have to Google in the NW because I only knew Hideki (?sp) and not Kaz.

chefbea 3:56 PM  

@jesser Have tried twice to answer your e-mail and it won't go through!!!

jesser 3:58 PM  

ChefBea and anyone else who feels an urgent need to communicate: Try or

asosec! -- jesser

jae 5:31 PM  

Very tough for me also. No googles but a couple of errors. I had GRACIOSO which gave me KAC (I've heard of Hideki but not Kaz) and flipped a coin on DAIL and put in an E where the A should have gone. Good puzzle but very hard!

lit.doc 5:50 PM  

@CoolPapaD, LOL. Thanks for sharing. THAT one I'll remember!

Glitch 6:28 PM  

*Reune* is just as good a verb as *scissors*, IMO.


Ulrich 6:47 PM  

Too late to say anything pertinent to any discussion--worked on the puzzle on and off all day and spent too much time inbetween looking up how our friends are doing in Brooklyn--except to say to

@slypett: I could come up, if a gun were pointed to my head, with a context in which a German would say "nein doch", but boy, is it ever a stretch, and IMHO way beyond what is legit in a puzzle, even one of the Saturday variety. And there are such nice ways to clue nein...

@wade: here's a sixth German word for you to memorize: FingerspitzengefĂĽhl

Phil 6:49 PM  

1: How f***in sick does one have to be to hunt one armed doves? At best they can fly around in little circles, but mostly they just sit there. Proably COOing, and some sicko shoots them.
2: Just 'cause Papa's away is no excuse to get getting all sorts of ribald here.

Stan 6:54 PM  

Ich kann kein Deutsch.

foodie 6:57 PM  

@ulrich where are you looking up how our friends are doing in Brooklyn?

sanfranman59 7:33 PM  

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

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

Mon 5:58, 6:54, 0.86, 16%, Easy
Tue 7:53, 8:42, 0.91, 26%, Easy-Medium
Wed 11:03, 11:54, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium
Thu 15:15, 19:28, 0.78, 9%, Easy
Fri 32:25, 26:13, 1.24, 93%, Challenging
Sat 35:49, 30:11, 1.19, 90%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:16, 3:40, 0.89, 20%, Easy-Medium
Tue 3:59, 4:27, 0.90, 23%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:43, 5:51, 0.98, 49%, Medium
Thu 6:44, 9:20, 0.72, 5%, Easy
Fri 17:06, 12:39, 1.35, 96%, Challenging
Sat 22:46, 17:24, 1.31, 95%, Challenging

Ulrich 7:47 PM  

@foodie: Look here. But as of this minute, the lists are incomplete; e.g. I could not find our fearless leader in any sort I did (and yes, I know his real name).

The 5th puzzle was apparently a killer--as it is always meant to be the point where older persons are separated from younger ones or, as they used to say in the old days, men from boys.

Moonchild 7:58 PM  

@ Wade, Through your eyes I see Texas as an alien world. It sounds like a fascinating place. Tobacco-chewing, schlitz-swilling, never-met-a-beer-I-didn't-like sort of place. But your camping trip with all of those tents and happy children followed by the hula hoop party make me believe that in between hurricanes you might actually live in LegoLand. I want to live there too.

jae 8:07 PM  

Glad to see this one came out challenging. Oh, and I meant to add myself to the MEDICI contingent.

treedweller 9:22 PM  

Another update: ACPT 2. I posted a comment about the nyt puzzle earlier, but it seems to have disappeared into the cheap-ass-gotta-pay-for-internet-in-the-room-hotel ether. Suffice it to say, I did better on #5 than on today's nyt, and dipping snuff is, in fact, really gross, and if you ever find yourself in the vicinity of someone who does it, you should be very careful about drinking from any cups that have not been continuously in your sight.

slypett 11:16 PM  

Ulrich: Danke.

foodie 11:29 PM  

@Ulrich, Danke from me too : )

I believe Rex said a couple of days ago that this year he would not be competing, he would be observing, interviewing, etc. I hope I'm not hallucinating this.

mac 11:47 PM  

@Treedweller: thank you for that great update!

It was a great day in Brooklyn: Just before the competition started I spotted Bob Kerfuffle, a charming man who proceeded to sit next to me (he is very, very good, not like a rookie at all) throughout the day. Puzzle 1 had a little more bite than we expected, 2 was easy, 3 gave me some trouble,
mainly in the NW, and then we had lunch with Doug Peterson, Nanpilla and sister Beth, Shamik, Karen from the Cape and mother, imsdave, Bob Kerfuffle and some friends of Doug's.

After lunch, number 4 was fine, and then came the killer 5. It was a BEQ, and to this moment I do not know what the theme was. I just didn't manage to fill in enough to find out..... Of course I might have if I had had a little more time, but that's not happening there. Six was fine, and after that we congegrated and were joined by Rex, Sandy and Treedweller, whom we finally located! Bob, imsdave, Treedweller and I went out to a great restaurant, Queen, where a large group of puzzle people were seated in the back making plenty of noise! Andrea was there, and PuzzleGirl, and many other people I got to know over the last two tournaments.

The games were so much fun this evening, and to my surprise even the sing-along game worked out great! No one left the room, and the presenters were actually asked for a few more clues. They would sing a few lines of a song, and we had to figure out which girls' name was in it. Several other quizzes also did quite well.

I've got to get up early tomorrow morning, the big Sunday puzzle starts at 9, the entertainment, awards and then the finals! It looks like a crowded field, so many outstanding solvers.....

Ha, my wv is "pings". That's my alarm clock 6 hours from now.

babslesley 1:15 AM  

Took the puzzle on the bus from Austin to Fort Worth and back, so had about 6 hours. Surely I would get somewhere. But, no. Had to keep putting it down and picking it up again. Got the NE and a very few others. A really painful x-word for me today.

Stan 1:50 AM  

@mac and @treedweller: Thanks so much for the boots-on-the ground reports! Much appreciated -- and have fun. We are all jealous.

@babslesley: I feel your pain. It was a tough puzzle today. But hang in there. Many of us here are only at about a Wednesday-Thursday level. It does get easier, though, if you keep trying and keep reading the blog.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

I have been away on a little vacation and returned to find a slightly new look to Rex's blog. When did that happen? Any particular reason?

JayWalker 12:24 PM  

Can somebody assist me? Aunt AnaGram "gigged" me for having an "uninformative" profile. PROFILE??? Who do one find dat? How can I make it better? How do I get there??? Halllp.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:16 AM  

Here it is Monday morning, but no one else seems to have had exactly the same problem I did, so I'll comment:

I was at the ACPT Saturday morning. I had met Mac (thanks for the kind words) and imsdave and was sitting with them at 10:30. Contest was scheduled to begin at 11:00, and with great hubris I pulled out the Times and said I would try to do the puzzle before we begin. One look and it was OMG! But I gradually worked my way through everything but the NW. I was burning to say something to Mac about the shout-out at 1 A, but didn't.

But I never did finish that NW, despite coaxing from imsdave. I didn't know KAZMATSUI, but I might have gotten him eventually except for Shakespeare. I had put in DEARER rather than NEARER at 14 A and it looked so right there was no way I would ever change it. To make things worse, this error gave me BAD. . . for 1 D, "it may lead to a seizure", and that fragment also looked too perfect to change. (Also wasn't sure if 3 D was GRACIOSO or GRASIOSO, let alone GRAZIOSO, but by that time it didn't matter.)

Doc John 8:07 PM  

OK, so I'm three or four weeks late but-
am I the only one who's upset because a BIG MAC has "special sauce" not a "secret sauce"?

Other than that, this puzzle killed me. Finally had to let my phone's app just tell me the answers.

Helen 11:51 AM  

Hey Wade- Copenhagen! I was just listening to REK this morning while working on this puzzle. Who new NYT Xword blog would acknowledge this tune exists?

@Doc John - Yes, special sauce! Also misled by that one...

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

We here in the Baltimore area have a time delay on the NY Times Crosswords--we get 'em in the Baltimore Sun,(sans titles I might add.)

And I could rant all day about trivia quizzes vs crossword puzzles--I too really hate the foreign clues, but the clue that really got me--and I figured it out pretty early on--was 2D: "Ideality"---boo hiss!

Having said that, after laying the puzzle away to ripen, I managed to solve almost all of it w/o any reference help. My hang-up came with 50A: Usain Bolt. I had actually filled it in using the down answers and thought it was a misprint. Tried to change it to "US in Gold", but that didn't work either.

So overall, I give it a big pppbbbbtthhh!!!

Cheers, Massugu

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