Eponymous engineer / SUN 3-28-10 / Follower of Christopher or Carolina / Six-time baseball All-Star Rusty / World capital 12,000 feet / Eggy quaff

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "WHAT MAKES IT ITCH?" — a puzzle, which is somehow not about dandruff, athlete's foot, or other, less speakable malady. "-CH" is added to the ends of words in familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style.

Word of the Day: TERNE (46A: Lead and tin alloy) —

Terne is an alloy coating of lead and tin used to cover steel, in the ratio of 20% tin and 80% lead. // Terne is used to coat sheet steel to inhibit corrosion. It is the one of the cheapest alloys suitable for this, and the tin content is kept at a minimum while still adhering to a hot-dipped iron sheet, to minimize the cost. (wikipedia)

• • •

An easyish, non-OGREISH puzzle (84D: Beastly), with hardly any sticking points. Simple idea, nicely executed. Very undemanding grid (just seven theme answers) allows for a generally interesting and mostly smooth overall quality to the grid. I noticed an error when checking over my grid. I had ENURE for 66A: Get used (to), which is *a* correct answer to the clue (that exact clue has been used for ENURE before). Sadly, the stupid [Old Japanese coin] is a RIN, not a REN, and so, today, INURE was the correct way to go. And here I thought someone had found an interesting new clue for that damned animated dog. No. Hey, REN is a dog. And the most common clue for RIN — RIN Tin Tin — is a dog. Interesting. Ish. Also, if you replace the "U" in "ENURE" with a "T" and then anagram it, you get the one word (besides RIN) I had *no* clue about today: TERNE. I know TERN as a shorebird common to North American crossword grids. As an alloy: new to me. Coincidentally, the non-bird TERNE crossed the birdy WREN (41D: Follower of Christopher or Carolina), which I also had some trouble getting. Luckily for me, SARA LEE (51A: Food giant based in Downers Grove, Ill.) and HELOISE (40D: Hint offerer) eventually helped me corral this section. They're surprisingly tough broads.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Problem for a crane operator? (NO-WINCH SITUATION) — one small issue: "operator" in the clue when OPER. is in the grid at 19A: Phone abbr.
  • 38A: Exceptional soldier on his only tour? (ONE-HITCH WONDER)
  • 68A: What kind, decent people wear? (MENSCH FASHION)
  • 98A: Hidden help for one who's trying to quit smoking? (PATCH ON THE BACK)
  • 117A: Instruction #1 for roofers? (GET A LOAD OF THATCH) — this and PATCH... are my favorites
  • 16D: Hit below the belt? (MAKE A BAD PUNCH)
  • 56D: Really angry group? (HOT CROSS BUNCH)
As is true on many days, today was a good day to have some Basic crosswordese under your belt. AGIO was a huge WTF?! to me the first time I saw it — now, a gimme (8D: Currency exchange premium). Same could be said for RIT. (42D: Slowing down, in mus. — short for "RITardando"), MRE (68D: Field ration, for short), ALETA (104D: Prince Valiant's love) and the TAFTS (58D: Ohio political dynasty). Of course I knew who President TAFT was, but it wasn't until after much crosswording that I realized that the family was an Ohio political dynasty.

Some enjoyable fill today. In graduate school, I studied and wrote about anti-MENDICANT (specifically, anti-fraternal) literature of the fourteenth century (it's true), so that word was an oddly nostalgic piece of cake (14D: Beggar). Other medium range fill that seemed original and interesting:
  • CIGAR CASE (47A: Cuban's home?) – thought this might be a theme answer at first. Then figured CASTRO was involved somehow. Wrong and wrong.
  • DESCEND ON (90A: Arrive unexpectedly en masse) — a great clue for fresh idiomatic phrase.
  • NEW HIGH (88A: Wall Street landmark?) — a bit of a stretch, perhaps, but I admire this answer's moxie, so thumbs up.
Lastly, I have no reason to put this in my write-up, but it made me laugh so hard that I'm going to anyway. It's not intentionally funny. It's just ... 1991. Dance Party. Straight out of Binghamton, NY. Thanks to my best friend from college for sending this my way. His quote: "I heard "Binghamton" in the first 30 seconds, so ... onto your [Facebook] Wall it goes." Mullets, gold chains, parachute pants, forgetting the actual names of songs ... this clip has it all.

  • 5A: World capital at 12,000 feet (LA PAZ) — was looking for LHASA, which is at ... 11,812 feet. You can understand my confusion.
  • 10A: Rugby gathering (SCRUM) — "Gathering" is a funny word for SCRUM. It's not a conference or a seminar.
  • 20A: With 21-Across, native Oklahoma group (OSAGE / TRIBE) — TRIBE seemed superfluous here. I mean, OSAGE means the "TRIBE." It's not like I needed the second half of the answer to make sense of it. Why not just clue 21-Across as [20-Across, for one]?
  • 62A: Motorist's no-no, for short (DUI) — first thought was "UEY," but that's only a no-no sometimes.
  • 73A: Grouchy Muppet (OSCAR) — you'd be grouchy too if you were green and lived in a trash can.
  • 80A: "___ Mucho," #1 hit for Jimmy Dorsey ("BESA ME") — why is this song so familiar to me? Did someone do a memorable parody of it? Here's a ska version by Elvis.

  • 107A: Eggy quaff (NOG) — a trifecta of horrible words, each of them at least vaguely nauseating to me.
  • 2D: Expo '74 city (SPOKANE) — I'm headed there in a little over a month — actually, I'm flying into there, and then heading over to St. Maries, ID for my grandma's 90th birthday party. It'll be a hard, fast, and (assuming all goes well) entertaining trip down memory lane. As longtime readers may know, my grandma is the first person I ever saw work a crossword.
  • 5D: Keepsake on a chain (LOCKET) — wanted RABBIT'S FOOT. Then wanted TRINKET.
  • 17D: Six-time baseball All-Star Rusty (STAUB) — I remember him as a thick, blond (red-headed?), power-hitting Tiger (though he played for a lot of teams). Interesting fact: in 1978 (acc. to wikipedia) "Staub became the first player to play in all 162 regular-season games exclusively as a designated hitter."
  • 81D: Home of Elmendorf Air Force Base (ANCHORAGE) — this reminds me of the book I just finished: "Game Change." In that ANCHORAGE reminds me of Alaska reminds me of Palin. Wish the book had been somewhat more substantive and less gossipy, but it was Very entertaining in parts.
And now your crossword Tweets of the Week — puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse:

  • @leathellin My morning plan would be working perfectly if I hadn't woken up hopeless at crosswords.
  • @aobehr Love that my wife will ask for my help doing the Post crosswords, then will belittle me for knowing the answer.
  • @Skinbro Watching morbidly obese, middle aged women doing crossword puzzles in a dainty fashion makes me happy.
  • @timpawlenty Ask me if you need help with 51 across in today’s NY Times crossword puzzle. http://bit.ly/aHpYpJ
  • @megchapin worst crossword puzzle clue ever: "will smith's music." answer: Rap. uhh... hardly
  • @CEDownes it's amazing how many crossword answers I get just from 20 years of watching the Simpsons
  • @jwisser "Burt's ex", as a crossword clue, immediately caused me to think "Ernie?".
  • @marcschaubjr Why is "LONI" still a crossword answer and "Burt's Ex" still the clue? What decade is this?
  • @aimeemann This health care bill thing has almost overshadowed my finishing the New York Times crossword puzzle.

[LOVE her]

  • @ElayneBoosler Ha! I'm 99 Down in this Sunday's L.A. Times Xword puzzle. U know every1's spelling it with an "i" and it aint working out.
  • @MrJoshEarl Justin Bieber starts every morning by ruining his Dads crossword by writing 'Balls' in the 5 down section #BieberFacts
  • @tomwp L-O-L: Sunday NY Times crossword has the clue "Sound while jerking the head" Will Shortz you perv

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Noam D. Elkies 12:42 AM  

Fun puzzle for the most part; thanks to Ed and Will! Thanks too to Rex for the writeup, particularly the explanation of Oscar's grouchiness and the tweets (any connection between Skinbro's obese solver and timpawlenty's offer of 51A:SARALEE help?)

My favorite theme answer was 68A:MENSCHFASHION. (Rex's favorites 98A, 117A with PATCH and THATCH aren't bad either; note the different kind of "th" in the latter.) Least favorite entry is Rusty 17D:NAIL, with 104D:ALETA a close second. Also guessed wrong with rin vs. 60D:REN, and at first also 79D:SINGLEGUY (I had "single man"). Yes, that one, as well as 14D:MENDICANT and 88A:NEWHIGH and 90A:DESCENDON (and of course all the theme entries), are new to xwordinfo, as are 108A:COUNSELS(!), 99D:TOPLIT and (not as happily) 57A:ONSTAR and 63D:UNBEND. A large number of other words have appeared only ones before, including some that Rex noted plus more memorably 9D:ZETAJONES.

Weird déjà vu moment: 27A:KAPOK, which some 30 years ago I picked out of the dictionary for a high-school English paper as a random word that would be hard to Anglicize, and probably haven't encountered since and thus needed all the (happily easy) crosses for. BTW I also noticed "sessa" in the same dictionary. It's an obscure and obsolete Shakespearean interjection. One would think "sessa" would be more useful in the grid than "kapok", but it's not been seen in 15 years if ever while "kapok" makes its fourth appearance in xwordinfo's database.

80A:BESAME mucho was parodied by Peter "Q." Schickele in The Seasonings as "sesamé mucho".

Somebody introduce 68D:MRE to Thursday's 6D:MRT :-)

Captcha "dentace" reminds me I must brush my teeth and then go to sleep. Good nightch,

lit.doc 12:59 AM  

Done in 72:40 with no googles, and only the REN and Stimpy error Rex mentioned. Progress isn’t always pretty.

When I read 55A “Hot dog topping”, I entered KRAUT while thinking “oh jeez, here we go again with the Hot Dog Purists thread”. At least one of the two was wrong.

[breakfast-test-fail warning] 87D “Felch”? I’ve just gotta learn to read the clues more carefully. Or get better glasses. Or grow up. Or not.

Only reality-based cavil was 75A, “Head turner” = BEAUT’. Aside from my extremely silly thought that LANA shoulda been the answer, the clue really ought to have signaled the slangy back-formation.

@Rex, OMG I haven’t seen that Cher video in like forever. Hard to think of anything reasonably tasteful to say except “thanks for sharing”. Ditto re @tomwp’s LMFAO tweet. And your dog-to-shorebirdy riff was amazing. Ish.

jesser 1:16 AM  

I'm gonna call this the Write Over Puzzle. At 2D, I had SeattlE, which meshed well at 23A with ... NOeINSITUATION. Much staring.

It just kept going like that. Or not going like that.
98A is where I finally figured out the CH theme and began going back with staccato ahas. So many write overs in the process.

I'd like to say I loved it. I'd also like to say that talk radio is a positive influence in American politics. Truth is, neither is true.

For instance, 65D, where the clue is 'included for free'. Past tense. You can't fit THROWnIN. To me, the N is critical. And absent.

SOAPY? Sure, the crosses are solid, but when was the last time you were soapy? At a sales convention? (Wait, that would be SOuPY)

Look, I will probably never construct a puzzle, so anyone who does it is royalty.

I'm just saying: COP? YAP AT? UTERI? (Dude! She had more than one! I had to buy six spongii!) And ACT II? I need whiskey and a wedge.

TERNE? "Dammit Junior, quit stickin yer kinfe in the butter. Yer gettin taters all over it. Wait yer dang TERNE!"

Finally, and against everything that is PC, let's talk 62A: DUI. Political hay and revenue river, period. Look at your town/city. Multiply every restaurant/bar that serves and assume two people at each drink enough to be legally impaired. Staggering number. But the vast majority get home just fine. The ones who get stopped play a system of politics.

True story: Worst injury I ever suffered in a car wreck (troopers said, "You should'a been on a cart.") was because a kid ran a red light while changing a CD in his truck. Broadsided me. I could have sued his family to Mars and back, but didn't. and won't.

So many COUNSELS called, but I refused to let them DESCEND ON that kid. Because driving is dangerous. And accidents happen. And I don't believe in playing the game.

Redpa! (my redneck dad, RIP) -- jesser

foodie 1:29 AM  

I found it surprisingly easy, in spite of several words I didn't know e.g. AGIO, KAPOK, TERNE. Still, an amazingly smooth solve, in around 30 minutes (which for me is quick on a Sunday). I think figuring out the theme from the title helped a lot.

Rex, I agree with so much of what you said, including your favorite theme entries, and the RIN/INURE micro-Natick. I think REN seems more plausible because of Yen.

Interesting about your feeling nostalgic about MENDICANT. To me, it's an extended form of the French MENDIANT, which means both beggar and a kind of chocolate, nuts and fruit treat.
(I also sometimes mishear it as another French word, MEDICAMENT, medicine).

fikink 1:46 AM  

Ah, and who can forget the wonderful lyrics to "I'm an Ordinary Man," from My Fair Lady.

A snippet:

But, let a woman in your life, and your sabbatical is through,
In a line that never ends comes an army of her friends,
come to jabber and to chatter
and to tell her what the matter is with YOU!,
She'll have a booming boisterous family,
who will DESCEND ON you en masse;
She'll have a large Wagnerian mother,
with a voice that shatters glass...

Unknown 2:58 AM  

I had the same ren/enure mistake; otherwise this one was fairly easy. I spent the longest time trying to figure out what people might put on a hot dog, since I've never eaten one. I wanted salsa!

@jesser, you've probably noticed by now but 65D is threw in, not throw in.

Elaine 3:59 AM  

Hand up for SINGLE MAN, too.

OLA? not HOLA? My Spanish does not extend that far. Also tried NAG AT instead of YAP; O NEGS instead of O TYPE; PUB instead of OTB; UIE instead of DUI (I am a pretty tame driver, I guess); and Thanks, Rex, for WOTD =TERNE ...now I don't have to look it up for myself.

If you click on the solution in WordPlay, there is a photo of Ed Sessa; he looks like a mensch, but it is a tad disappointing that he is a dog person.

chefwen 4:41 AM  

After a lengthy discussion with my kitty boy about the length of his nails (he won, I lost) I tried to squish oxymoron into 78A. Didn't fit!

I agree that the puzzle was fun and a mind rest after Friday and Saturday's brain cripplers.

Favorite long answer was HOT CROSS BUNCH, fitting, as Easter is rapidly approaching.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:28 AM  

Nice puzzle. My only problem was at the much-discussed RIN/INURE crossing. I had gone with REN/ENURE because I had no clue, and thought the REN in Japanese might be somehow related to the Chinese ren min bi (if that is the name!)

Eric Berlin 8:06 AM  

I know this puzzle had its merits, but it also committed what is, for me, the #1 sin of a Sunday Times puzzle: I gleaned the theme immediately from the title. Grrrr.

Parshutr 8:34 AM  

I just had so much fun with this! Nice Sunday respite after brutal last few days...I'm old enough to remember KAPOK, and CRTs, and BESAME MUCHO...I did put in SIAMESE instead of BURMESE, all the while thinking 'Cuddly?' Since when is cuddly a synonym for aloof?
One little complaint...the use of the word "Atriums" in the clue for 99 down. I was certain that the constructor was looking for some smartass mention of mispluralizing atrium, but nooo...
Of to the range, the season starts this Thursday. Maybe this year is my year to shoot my age for 18 holes; it does get easier as I age...

Parshutr 8:44 AM  

Oh, and I thought ONION was a better topping for a hotdog than CHILI.
@jesser...that was thrEwin, not thrOwin...if you had known BESAME, it woulda been easier.

Jeffrey 8:57 AM  

Like Eric, I got the theme from the title.

You remember Rusty Staub as a Tiger???? Youppi sheds a little tear.

SethG 8:57 AM  

I can't believe they didn't clue it with the dog given the ambivalent cross.

A few years ago FIFA banned international matches at altitudes over 2500 meters. Bolivia called a special cabinet meeting (at which Evo Morales wore an ugly sweater) and formally protested. FIFA backed off, and matches can still be held in La Paz (3600m). I also went with LHASA.

Jesser, the majority of children of mothers who took Thalidomide while pregnant were born with fully-formed limbs. The majority of people who worked with asbestos will not get malignant mesothelioma. But sometimes increased incidence is enough. Do you think driving while intoxicated should always be legal or just that the limits should be higher?

Ruth 9:08 AM  

Interesting that ZELLWEGER and ZETAJONES were both in "Chicago" and both are the same length with 3 letters in common positions. I saw the Z and instantly zapped Renee in there, and it was wrong. Come to think of it, maybe I've fallen into this trap before, and maybe it's been discussed. If so, sorry to bring it up again.

Well said, SethG

And yeah, I think it's HOLA.

Ruth 9:12 AM  

Oh dear. OLA is Spanish for WAVE. In the sense of physics, or surfing. Always in the spirit of posting BEFORE you look it up. . .

jesser 9:14 AM  

THREW! Aaaarrrrrgggghhhh.

@Seth: Point well taken. I guess my beef is 1) the tendency to litigate everything and 2) the creation of so many rules that make it so easy to litigate. My neighbor -- a good fellow, he -- got a DUI while NOT driving! He was asleep in his car, in a parking lot. But because the keys were in the ignition (he had the radio on), the rule applied. He was subjected to the full range of Stupid Human Tricks and then carted off to the pokey for having NOT driven. It happened recently, and it sticks in my craw.

THREW! (beats self with Nerf bat).

Rex Parker 9:45 AM  

@NDE, re: the Tim Pawlenty tweet — he was tweeting about a syndicated puzzle that featured his name as an answer.

I love the confusion I have apparently created. "So ... the governor of Minnesota is a snack cake aficionado?"


ArtLvr 10:41 AM  

@ jesser -- that was a stretch, poor neighbor, but how did he get there? I suppose in most states it's DUI (under the influence) -- but somewhere I first heard it as DWI (driving while intoxicated). Where?

Hand up for REN to go with sen and yen. Yuck.. And I thought the HOT CROSS BUNCH was great along with something to YAP AT.

"Cuban's home" was a devilish clue, hinting at a Casa rather than a CASE. And my other favorites were the EKG as "Ticker tape letters" plus "Hint offerer" for HELOISE. I haven't seen her column for ages...

I suppose nobody tried Spoleto as an Expo city! (Festivals yes, both in Italy and South Carolina, no Expo.)


JenCT 10:49 AM  

Liked this - almost, almost finished. UTERI and YAPAT were blank, since GET A LOAD OF THATCH escaped me somehow.

Why is a BURMESE a cuddly cat? All of my cats are cuddly...

Actually got INURE and RIN; go figure.

chefbea 10:58 AM  

Fun easy Sunday puzzle

hand up for single man which gave me nag at. Then a malapop when noodge turned out to be nag.

Didn't know scrum.

archaeoprof 11:22 AM  

My mother-in-law is visiting, and she looked at me dimly when I asked her if there is a pillow fill called KAPOK. She seems to think everyone should know KAPOK.

@Crosscan: Rusty Staub = Le Grand Orange.

SethG 11:46 AM  

One of my pet peeves is when people post to correct typos, as if they couldn't stand to have people think that they might not have just been typing quickly and that it's possible that they actually _don't_ know the difference between to and too or there and their and they're.

So I apologize in advance, but I couldn't stand too have you think I don't know the difference between 'ambiguous' and 'ambivalent'. I really do.

Since I'm breaking that (personal) rule, I might as well go all the way and say my captcha is imula. @someone: Good one! Does anyone know what TERNE is? Off to have some scotch and beets! LOL

Elaine 11:52 AM  

Some states call it one thing, some another, but it amounts to navigating on roadways while using substances that alter alertness, reaction time, judgment, or physical capabilites... hence, in Ohio, arrests of some Amish buggy-drivers; charges on people who are on prescription medications that make them sleepy, etc. It does sound like @Jesser's friend was more 'public intoxication' than anything else, but sometimes police are there to protect people from themselves. Had he awakened, would the neighbor have tried to drive home?

KAPOK used to be what was in your life vest, too, wasn't it?

So, another dog person? Cats are aloof or cuddly depending on how they are brought up. ALL of our cats were beautiful, affectionate, and unusually bright. (wink)

fikink 11:59 AM  

@SethG, you look mighty ambidextrous there with your personal rules all akimbo. Good thinking!

captcha: inieste

"inieste l-e-s, Nestle's makes the very best

Van55 12:02 PM  

I enjoyed the theme, with GETALOADOFTHATCH being my favorite. And yes, the "What makes it itch" made the theme transparent from the jump.

I know AGIO and ACTA only from crosswords.

And I too wonder why a BURMESE is a cuddly cat more than, say, a Siamese. My Siamese has cuddled in my bed for nearly 14 years.

I had REN/ENURE. It was a 50-50 shot given the obscurity or RIN as a coin.

I think the plural of COUNSEL is COUNSEL.

Legal Dictionary

Main Entry: 1coun·sel
Pronunciation: 'kaun-s&l
Function: noun
Inflected Form: plural counsel

Stan 12:05 PM  

My wife laughed at every one of the theme answers (read aloud), so that's a thumbs up from this neck of the woods. Our favorites are HOT CROSS BUNCH and GET A LOAD OF THATCH.

Kapok I know as a hard, buoyant life-jacket filling. It's also used for pillows, but I doubt it will be featured in the Martha Stewart Spring Collection.

CoolPapaD 12:28 PM  

This was some much-needed fun. I smiled as I did the puzzle, and then, like the past few days, went through a whole range of emotions as I watched the clip from Dance Party: laughter, tears, gastric distress... I pray there are no puzzle people in that clip, for they would bow their mulleted heads in shame!

Great theme answers - can't pick a favorite. I am raising my hand to SIAMESE, UEY, ONION, SINGLEMAN. The SADDLE area was tough - never heard of RIIS, MENDICANT, or DERR.

OK - I can't believe it - after some post-puzzle Googling, it seems that Prince Valiant is STILL running in over 300 newspapers! I have never seen it, and only know of it from puzzles.

Best clue / answer of the day: Centers of early development = UTERI.

treedweller 12:35 PM  

Well, AGIO is still a mystery to me, and my knowledge of world capitals could be better, so "Lapiz" seemed plausible enough. Couldn't find my mistake last night; finally gave up until I found it here.

@ArtLvr DUI v. DWI I think both are used in many places. In TX, it's DWI (Driving While Intoxicated). I'm not sure where it's DUI (Driving Under the Influence).

treedweller 12:38 PM  

"Prince Valiant" runs in the Austin newspaper on Sundays. It also used to run in the Fort Worth paper when I lived there. I read it once every year or two to see what I'm missing and still can't understand its appeal.

Deschanel 12:46 PM  

AGIO, ACTA, RIN, RIT, MRE, KAPOK, TERNE all gave me a tough time, completely unfamiliar. Ah well.

I don't fully understand "Exceptional soldier on his only tour." Is "hitch" slang for stint in the Army? And how can a soldier be exceptional on his first tour?

REally picky of me, but most nic patches go on the arm. And thatched roofs are excedingly rare even in places like Ireland- they are labor-intensive, high maintenance and expensive to keep up. Crabbiness over..

Unknown 1:13 PM  

@jesser: I'm new here, and it continues to surprise me how many people feel bad about write-overs. Is this some crossword puzzle contest nono?

To me, it's a given that I will have write overs (and I thank G_D for across lite, so my completed puzzle does not look like a mess.) I doff my hat to the purists who print this out and do it in pen - I'll never be in that league. Plus, my handwriting looks like a doctor's: even I can't read it at times. Especially when squeezed into little xword squares.

So this morning, for instance, I had singleman, siamese, the appalling salsa as something you put on a hot dog - I'm a furriner, what do I know? (Ok, I know scrum!) And lots of other bad first guesses. To me that's half the fun, finding my errors and going aha! (Or d'oh).

@van55: Although it didn't strike me as wrong when I entered it, I think you may be right on counsel being plural. Counselors, yes. Oh well, better to be lucky than smart.

@Ruth: You are correct. This is the second time ola has appeared in the NYT in recent weeks, and has led to pretty much the same confusion. A new entry to the crosswordese dictionary.

mac 1:38 PM  

What a class Sunday puzzle! Had a good time with it, just finding Ren/enure mistaken when coming here...

I also put Zellweger in before Zeta Jones. Seeing the title actually confused me a little, I thought all theme answers would have "TCH), so I put in a T at 24A.

@SethG: good reasoning.


Tinbeni 2:15 PM  

AGIO, along with adit, were probably the first crosswordese I ever learned about 40 years ago. Back then I just called them words I only see in puzzles.

Fave for me was NEW HIGH, a daily quest.
Hmmm, on a rainy Sunday, the CABANAS empty here in Tampa Bay, I wonder how I'll get that.

As to 62A,DUI ... Well you see all the adds:
Don't drink and drive.
DON'T DRINK and drive!
How the hell am I suppose to get anywhere?

caphcha - Barsopen

dk 2:30 PM  

@Rex, the Governor of Minnesota is a ginormous hypocrite (derided the current administration while using stimulus funds to balance the state budget) and rivals Ms. Palin in approximating the truth on the health care bill. I only hope he eats junk food.

Wasn't KAPOK the name of some character from some other world?

Idiotic stumper of the day was OMNI... and I used to get magazine.

Not excited about the theme (as always) but the fill was fun.

@sethg, My brother and I have taken to biking to the local watering holes. We even got Lurcat to offer valet bike parking (they added a chain to the bike rack). To my knowledge there is no such thing as BUI.

*** (3 Stars)

Secret word - dismssio feminine for daddio

Bob Kerfuffle 2:31 PM  

@jesse -

Although you didn't ask me directly (or at all, for that matter), I'll throw in my two cents on the subject of write-overs.

I don't know where you got the idea that people feel bad about them. Generally, if you have a write-over, it means that you realized you had an error and corrected it before coming to the blog or otherwise confirming your solution. I report my write-overs, and I believe others do also, to share those spots where the constructor has mis-directed me or hit a gap in my knowledge. We all think before entering (especially those of us who still use pen on paper), so it must be a mistake which withstood some initial scrutiny. Generally we will find that such a mistake is somewhat widely shared, which makes us feel better, or the other guy's mistake is humorous, which also makes us feel better. ;)

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

Fun puzzle, with only one mistake-

Can someone explain ACTA to me? (SARSLEE, which I ended up with, sounds like a respiratory illness)

defunt- host of de Candid Camera

archaeoprof 3:02 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: well said! Writeovers are a reliable measure of clever cluing.

jae 3:14 PM  

REN for me too. Other than that pretty easy. I also tried Renee at first and had ONION on my hotdog. Fun breezy Sun.

lit.doc 3:22 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, re @Jesse and write-overs, well put! Comparing initial missteps is an aspect of the daily blogfest that I really look forward to.

I've just been admonished to reazesse my position.

Bob Kerfuffle 3:32 PM  

@tptsteve -

Re: 33 D, Courthouse records - ACTA

Since I gave an off-hand and perhaps not entirely clear or correct answer the last time this came up, I will quote from my Merriam-Webster (sometimes I find the definitions given online to to be somehow lacking):

acta 1: recorded proceedings : official acts : TRANSACTIONS (the . . . of the conference) 2 : narratives of deeds (the Christian . . .)

(Does it tell us something when the auto spell check here underlines acta?)

Clark 3:33 PM  

@tptsteve -- best I can come up with on ACTA:

Random House Dictionary: official records, as of acts, deeds, proceedings, transactions, or the like.

Century Dictionary: Proceedings in a legal or an ecclesiastical court, or minutes of such proceedings (Century Dictionary).

Latin. Plural of 'actum' meaning, you guessed it, 'act'.

Unknown 3:44 PM  

@tptsteve: Acta: official records, as of acts, deeds, proceedings, transactions, or the like. (Dictionary.com).

Xwrdese fill. I see it often. Maybe two counsels ACTuAlly use the term. I've never heard it in real life except perhaps ""actaviolence."

@BobKerfuffle: That was interesting. It's true when I come to this blog, most everyone has the same problems/write-overs I have, as in today's rin/inure cross. I've never heard of a rin, and I know you can spell it inure/enure, but I went with the odds and lost.

Okay, I get the idea. It's not confession, it's just a sharing sorta thing.

You do this on paper in ink? Holy city?! (6)

joho 3:52 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle and thought I had it perfectly done, but no: REN it is!

As @Foodie said, makes sense because of yen. Can we declare this a true Natick?

Elvis' "BESAME Mucho" sounds like the music track from one of the old "Pink Panther" movies.

Bonga ... female bongo.


Rube 4:05 PM  

Had most of the noted problems, plus started with MAKEAlowPitch. Never heard of OCALA. In fact, never knew that Florida had a "horse country". Didn't know TERNE and probably forgot RIN.

How can you guys remember who is in what movie? I saw Chicago and should have remembered ZETAJONES as she is a 75A, but names from movies populate a big void in my mind. It must be something innate.

The only good thing I can say about most theme puzzles like this is that they are not quotes. They seem to me to be too contrived or cute(ish). Give me a good rebus anyday.

My favorite 59A bass got another entry. Made a superb Ciopino the other day with some striper. I'm going to finish it off for lunch right now. Was it @Chefbea or @Foodie that was complaining about a lack of food in our puzzles? We had STRIPER, CRAB, CHILI, and HOTCROSSBUNch today. (SARALEE doesn't qualify, IMHO.)

Unknown 4:06 PM  

@BogKerfuffle: Sorry - I missed your answer on ACTA.

@Deschanel: You nailed it. You hitch up for a stint in the armed forces. A one hit wonder is of course a singer who problably gets one tour.

Elaine 4:08 PM  

Well, here's the thing about ink: it doesn't smear like pencil. Also, if you try to erase too many times, you wear a little hole in the paper. I don't think you need to be in too much awe.

I print out on paper because I like to see all the clues at once. I seldom start at 1A, but instead go for blanks--often the easiest toe-hold. If I am unsure or know more than one possible, I write in lightly OR just write in the margin. I grant you that there are times my puzzle grid looks like who-shot-Lizzie, but oh well. I am at the point, though, where I need to print Sunday's large grid on its own page, with the clues on another. Not my favorite, but eye strain is making things difficult.

Unknown 4:16 PM  

@rube: I couldn't begin to find it on a map, but Ocala is my immediate entry for a five letter city in Florida. It must be the most popular 5-leter FL city in Xwordese.

Terne got me too. Thank goodness for crosses.

Seconded that SaraLee is not food!

lit.doc 4:58 PM  

The reason why a number of us had difficulty with TERNE is that it was poorly clued. 46A should have read "French shore bird suffering from heavy metal poisoning".

@Jesse, I solve online whenever possible, as it's much easier for me to see, and keyboard position is much more comfortable for me than writing position.

But I also print out the clues, like @Elaine, as it's so much easier to scan the clues, and also easier to jot solving notes on a copy of the puzzle.

I've often thought people acquire the habit of solving in ink from having learned to do CWs in the newspaper, which doesn't take pencil well and is easy to erase through. Personally, I find the idea terrifying.

matt 5:17 PM  

Between Noodge, Kvetch, and Mensch, lots of Yiddish in the puzzle today.

syndy 5:49 PM  

hi,brand new to crosslite;where do i get 4 didit code? Ho Chi Minh;my Burmese cat used to ride on my shoulder purring into my chin all the time,even riding in the car-a seriously cuddly cat

Unknown 6:01 PM  

Are you sure REN is not a Japanese coin?



After the Meiji Restoration in 1867, the Yen (JPY) was introduced as the national currency with the Yen divisible into 100 Sen or 1000 Ren.

Glitch 6:05 PM  

@Artlvr @Jesser

Many states use either DUI or DWI for the same offense.

However, in some states, the drunk driving laws differentiate between a DUI and a DWI, where the DUI is a lesser charge.

In these states, a DUI usually signifies a lesser degree of intoxication, which is determined by a person’s blood alcohol level at the time of arrest. Sometimes, states will allow the charges of a DWI to be reduced to a DUI with the help of a defense attorney.

In the case of a reduction from a DWI to a DUI, certain conditions typically must be met, such as the incident being a first offense, the defendant’s display of remorse for the action, and a blood alcohol level that was not drastically over the legal limit.

(@ArtLvr, FYI): New York State differentiates
between DWI and DUI by establishing a blood alcohol level of .08 as the legal limit for DWI.

If a person has a blood alcohol level of .07, the charges may be reduced to a DUI, which carries a lesser punishment.


fergus 6:06 PM  

QUITO seemed like a good crossword entry for the high capital ...

CARP instead of CRAB. Otherwise, a leisurely, unimpeded Sunday.

Glitch 7:04 PM  


Ren is, as you indicate, a coin, but so is Rin:

JAPAN Yr. 6 (173) I Rin, Y-15, Uncirculated - (Falsmouth Stamp & Coin).

Now, M-W indicates Enure is a variant of Inure. Since the clue doesn't indicate var., the correct answer should be Inure.

But for the var., this could be called a Natick, and maybe should be anyway.


Rex Parker 7:07 PM  

re: ENURE, "Var." is never used. Whether it should be or not is another issue.

bluebell 7:15 PM  

I learned that Bolivia had 2 capitals in one of my first crosswords. So today I thought of where there were high countries and the Andes popped up first. With a choice between LaPaz and Sucre, I already had Ash in place and voila!

But then I had to go and spoil it all with Rene Zellwegger until I realized that had to be wrong.

I badly wanted pewter for the alloy but IT WOULD NOT FIT. So I wondered if there was a rebus, but there wasn't.

No winch situation was my first theme answer. I still enjoy it.

I'm telling you about the fun spots. I'm not going to confess all my errors.

fikink 8:00 PM  

@bluebell, I had the exact same response to "lead and tin alloy" - Had to be PEWTER and must be a rebus puzzle!

Glitch 8:05 PM  


Xword Info database shows Enure clued var. 5 out 26.

Inure 0 for 39

"Never" is such an absolute :)


Rex Parker 8:24 PM  

The point is that this statement:

"Since the clue doesn't indicate var., the correct answer should be Inure."

is flat-out wrong.

Martin 8:25 PM  

There is no ren. Yen, sen and rin. Irritating but true.

Any ren on the internets is a typo.

Google gives you a "did you mean 1000 rin?"

Rube 8:31 PM  

@fikink & @bluebell, if you've ever done any plumbing with copper pipe or hands-on electronics, you'll know that the lead/tin alloy is solder. Actually "was" is the case now because they are doing away with lead in both industries for obvious reasons.

Back to taxes.

Tinbeni 8:42 PM  

I agree, in black ink on paper.
It slows me down a bit because it forces me to look at the surrounding clues before I enter.

Plus, how else can I get my occasional Rorschact "Inkblot Test" like last Friday?

It's a puzzle. If I mess up too bad, I get another one tomorrow.
Also it puts my old Auditor clipboards back to work.

Glitch 9:05 PM  


OK, if you say so.


Your argument is simpler.


fikink 9:50 PM  

@Rube, we built this house in 2002. All of our pipes are plastic tubing. You go down the basement and think you are in an ICU unit!
I wish I knew plumbing (and electrical for that matter).
At least we don't have to worry about pipes freezing with the infrastructure IVs hanging all over the place!

I'm in the process of building a forge where I hope to learn all the properties of various metals. There will be a sculpture of St. Fikink on the ridge some day! ;)

michael 10:16 PM  

This is the second puzzle in which I've confidently written in Zellweger (what else could it possibly be?), find that doesn't work and then remember zeta jones. I'll bet this shows up again.

Count me in for enure/ren.

ArtLvr 10:21 PM  

@Glitch -- if still there, many thanks for the detailed difference between DUI and DWI in NYS!


captcha -- inkers, of which I'm one, when not solving online!

fergus 10:30 PM  

MAKE A BAD PUNCH seemed like the worst of the theme answers; now it seems like the best.

lit.doc 11:33 PM  

@Tinbeni, "terrifying" because the squares are sooo small, my OCD is sooo undermedicated, and I make sooo many multiple missteps.

With a pencil and a proper eraser, I can change my mind repeatedly and still end up with a neat, orderly grid that lets me experience a feeling of closure.

I'm just not up to the level of committment demanded by ink.

DrGaellon 7:47 AM  

I graduated from SUNY-Binghamton in 1991 - though on January 5th, I was probably still home in New York on winter break...

your average blank 9:17 PM  

I recently began following this blog. Subscriber to NYT crosswords.
The write up and comments are very helpful; maybe eventually I will be able to do Friday and Saturday puzzles. Thanks

Amelie 3:12 PM  

I remember KAPOK as being used as stuffing for some of my stuffed animals, way back when ;-)

Zardoz 12:51 AM  

Weird coincidences blog today (last week?) & a lot of history. Incredible number of posts.

Thanks Rex, for the Cher video!!! What a morale (or other) booster for the military. ;-) Was so stunned when it first played that I forgot to hit RECord & never saw it again.

@Noam D. 27A:KAPOK I was on ships in the 50s & life-jackets were filled with that. Doubt that it's around now.
Re Sessa: Have an unresolved reference (personal thesaurus) to SASSARARA. Web links all point an old Websters (1913) entry which isn't much help. Anyone out there who can explain further?

@fikink Loved those lyrics. Ain't (sorry, 1a ISN'T) that the truth? Hence, now the SINGLE MAN.

@jesser ET AL Read the intro to "Super Freakonomics" re 62a DUI. Apparently, walking drunk is more dangerous! And don't get me started on idiots with cell phones. Have had 3 close ones with texters!

@lit.doc Beautiful clue for 46a! Megayuks. :-D

5a: LA PAZ. Of course tried Lhasa first.
56d: very appropriate as it's Easter.
78a: Why BURMESE? Had a regular tabby who was aloof when alert, & cuddly when sleepy. From a cat's POV, monkeys (us) are only there to open cans & provide laps.

Brad 2:37 PM  

Sierra is the plural.
Sierras is incorrect.

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