French city in 1944 fighting / TUE 6-29-10 / Island near Java / Potential enamorada / Heroine of Verdi's Il Trovatore / 99 Red Balloons singer 1984

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: BLACK / AND / WHITE39A: With 41- and 43-Across, cop cruiser ... or a description of the five animals named in this puzzle

The animals:

  • SNOW LEOPARD (20A: Asian cat)
  • ZEBRA (13D: Equus quagga)
  • PANDA (30D: One of the 2008 Olympic mascots)
  • SKUNK (53D: Polecat)
  • KILLER WHALE (60A: Shamu, for one)

Word of the Day:
TOCSIN (35A: Alarm bell) —
    1. An alarm sounded on a bell.
    2. A bell used to sound an alarm.
  1. A warning; an omen.

[French, alteration of toquassen, from Old French touque-sain, from Old Provençal tocasenh : tocar, to strike (from Vulgar Latin *toccāre) + senh, bell (from Late Latin signum , from Latin, signal; see sign).]

• • •

Doing some of my solving on paper now, so not terribly certain of the difficulty ratings as a result, but this one felt somewhat on the challenging side (for a Tuesday) and a quick glance at the leaderboard at the NYT puzzle site shows slowish times for a Tuesday. My time would put me at 12th (out of 100 as of right now), which, considering I solved on paper (significantly slower method), I'm quite happy with. The theme ... was B&W animals. And there they are. Only thing I can say is that I did not know SNOW LEOPARDs were black and white. And I didn't know the PANDA had been an Olympic mascot (though 2008 Olympics were in China, so that makes sense). Difficulty lay first in the theme clues, which were vague / odd (esp. the ZEBRA one), and second in the NE corner, which is crammed with hardish stuff (including ZEBRA). Corner is hard to get into because of LEONORA (who?) (25A: Heroine of Verdi's "Il Trovatore"), and then METZ (and not ST. LO, as you suspected) (10A: French city in 1944 fighting), and then TIMOR, which is familiar enough, but not when you're trying to fill it in w/ no crosses (12D: Island near Java). Luckily MAI and ARIE and IAMB and TOR were gimmes, so with some fussing and erasing, it all worked out. Just bogged me down. Also, TOCSIN (35A: Alarm bell) is only dimly dimly familiar to me, so I had to come at the eastern part from below. Otherwise, my only problems were stupid mistakes. Writing in SCRAWL for SCROLL (44A: Form of many a diploma) — I think I read it wrong — and utterly blanking on ___ WHALE. Seriously. Just stared at it, imagining what specialized name an orca could possibly have ... [headdesk].

  • 1A: AARP or the National Rifle Association (LOBBY) — bad start. Wanted an abbr. because of "AARP" in clue. Spelled-out "NRA" should've clued me in.
  • 6D: Potential enamorada (SEÑORITA) — again, not a Tuesday clue. A fine clue, but more Thursday.
  • 8D: Like some exercises (NAVAL) — more vague/tough cluing.
  • 38D: "99 Red Balloons" singer, 1984 (NENA) — weird coincidence: just caught about five minutes of an old "Family Guy" episode, in which there is a very strange "99 Red Balloons" joke. And then I walked directly upstairs and did this puzzle. That was my second weird coincidence of the day. The first was watching "Spectacle" (fantastic Elvis Costello-hosted show about music) this morning, and learning from Costello's interview with Clinton (sax player) that Robert Byrd was an accomplished fiddler. Got in my car afterward, turned on NPR, and learned that Byrd had died—NPR not only mentioned his fiddling, they also played a snippet from his fiddle album of the late '70s!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


foodie 12:20 AM  

I agree that this puzzle was toughish for a Tuesday, especially that NE corner. And LOBBY! That was tricky. And thanks for making TOCSIN word of the day. I had no idea... I stared at it for a long time to see if there was something wrong with the crosses.

There was nice coherence to the puzzle, because of the theme density along with a couple of other entries that added to it, such as PROWL and BETE.

Peter Collins seems to have an eclectic style in puzzle-making. I don't look at the constructor's name when I start, and try to see if I get a vibe as I solve. I can definitely guess some, but not him.

I love the Byrd video. I always enjoy discovering areas where people excel outside their main line of work.

syndy 12:45 AM  

yup thats some amoroso! had klaxon for some reason but I looked at that equus quagga and said "Zebra" right off the I was surprized by the rating nice puzzle with snowleopards on the prowl and coy killerwhales swimming around

Steve J 1:01 AM  

Thought it was a bit tough for a Tuesday as well (and my time bore that out; I came in slower than my Tuesday average). Had a hard time the NE as well. I can never remember the names of Muses, and I had the same "Who?" reaction to LEONORA. Took some time to piece things together.

Slowed up by a couple mistakes: had CRAWL instead of PROWL, which left 42D and 51D looking completely nonsensical for a bit. Erased CRAWL and was able to pull things together. More damaging was misreading the clue for 36D over and over again. I just could not think of fight training equipment that wasn't a punching bag or the like. Finally noticed the L, SIMULATOR came quickly, which got me OMEN, which got me NACHO, which finally gave me enough in LEONORA to finally break down the NE.

Good meaty Tuesday. Found the theme simply ok, but everything else was solid.

chefwen 1:32 AM  

Slower than usual for me also for a Tuesday. I had the M and O at 12 down and plopped in Samoa. That was the only bit that I had to fix, and it didn't get fixed until the end.

Mentioned to the husband that there was a shout out to our Maine Coon tuxedo kitty, Paddy. He said "what was the clue, knucklehead?"

TOCSIN was my learning WOD.

Thank you Mr. Collins

andrea klink michaels 2:41 AM  

Mixed up the clues for 59A and 60A:
"Decorative pond fish" KILLERWHALE
and thought "wtf!???" till the bitter end!
That's some fish pond!

I too had craWL and, in re-reading yesterday's comments, no longer want to slap you! You are entitled not to have been wowed by a puzzle/theme!

So, what does a SNOWLEOPARD look like if not all white??? And how did @Rex know I suspected STLO?!

As I had 46A TAD I convinced myself that Bob Dole was some sort of Libertarian candidate for soon we/I forget.
(I also thought the NRA might be a hOBBY!)

Nice puzzle, Peter A. Collins!
I like that BLACK AND WHITE can be split up with black squares and not have to be written as one 13 letter phrase across. I'm going to steal that idea somehow some day.
(Did I say steal? I meant learn/incorporate)

Clark 2:56 AM  

Oh, @andrea, have a look at a SNOW LEOPARD.

acme 3:08 AM  

Thank you, sez lazybones, but that's black and white?

chefwen 3:17 AM  

Looks more like black and tan to me.
Don't say that in an Irish Pub.

redhed 3:46 AM  

Woke up and couldn't sleep, so decided to do the puzzle. Found that this one just zipped very quickly along until 35A and 38D. Had TOCSI_ and not a clue who sang "99 Red Balloons," altho I do recall the name of the song. Listed out all the possible letters to go with _ENA: d, g, l, m, n, ... finally left it blank and came here. Otherwise would have been a cinch. I, too, like the "black and white" running along the middle of the grid. Now the only problem is what will I do later today now that the puzzle is already done??

Greene 6:15 AM  

Thought the puzzle was toughish as well. Had most of the difficulty in that pesky NE corner where I quickly fell into the ST LO trap. Got IAM, TOR, and LEONORA quickly enought and figured 11D had to be ERATO, so out went ST LO. METZ was unknown to me, but came easily enough with the crosses.

I messed up the SW when I plunked in MYRA instead of KYRA. I know, rookie error, but it was late and I was tired after getting my butt kicked in the gym. I've done enough crosswords to know KOI, but could not see SKUNK because of my MYRA error. It all made sense in the end, but what a stupid mistake.

Did not know TOCSIN at all. Got it through crosses and had to look it up when done to see if it was a real word.

Seeing "La Bête" reminds me that the most anticipated production on Broadway this fall (for me, at least) is not a musical (gasp!) but the David Hirson straight play of the same name. It is a superb comedy written entirely in iambic pentameter, complete with rhyming couplets. A verse play on Broadway? Yes, please.

It died in its previous Broadway outing in 1991 where preview audiences loved it until the critics told them not to. It was an enormous critical success in its subsequent London production and has since been done by all the major regional theatres. Can't wait to see how it fares back on the Great White Way (where the casting of David Hyde Pierce will, not doubt, provide a bit of box office insurance).

Leslie 7:29 AM  

Mentioned to the husband that there was a shout out to our Maine Coon tuxedo kitty, Paddy. He said "what was the clue, knucklehead?"

Chefwen, send my husband home when you're done with him.

I'm so lowbrow that I was secretly all proud of myself for getting BETE. Ooh la la, me!! Do agree that this puzzle was harder than the usual Tuesday, but liked it a lot.

Today's word: diabirud. When you're sinfully impolite.

JenCT 7:31 AM  

Another one for a toughish puzzle - stared at TOCSIN for the longest time, thinking it must be wrong.

Saw a great program on Nat. Geo. (?) about trying to capture pictures of the snow leopard on motion-activated cameras - very interesting. Apparently, that cat is notoriously elusive. So, that was a gimme for me.

All in all, not a bad time for a Tuesday.

fikink 7:34 AM  

Don't think that quagga and TOCSIN are Tuesday level fare, but I enjoyed learning them.

Thanks for cluing me into "Spectacle," @Rex - gotta find it out here.

Did everybody see Clinton and Jagger at the Ghana game - too funny!!!

@foodie, agree with you about discovering others' talents beyond their employment tag. Crossword puzzles and this blog are particularly helpful in facilitating same. Thanks, once again, Rex!


@andrea & @Steve J, I started out with CREEP and went to CRAWL before PROWL kicked in.

@Chefwen, "black and tan" - LOL - hmmm,mmm good!

captcha: "hanshe" - an auditorium in Iowa City. Right, @Puzzle Girl?

fikink 7:37 AM  

Oh, and @Peter Collins, very nice puzzle! Solid and engaging, IMO!

CaseAceFos 7:45 AM  

To all of you Crosswordese wiseguys who were sure 10A simply had to be StLo, to you I say "Meet the Metz!"

retired_chemist 7:49 AM  

Nice to hear that Monday and Tuesday were, for some, more challenging than usual. I was beginning to suspect the onset of senility. Or worse....

ST LO here, as predicted. MAI @10D and TONGA @ 12D clued me in that ST LO was wrong. then IAMB and TOR nixed TONGA. I liked that corner a lot because of all this fun.

Nice to see Parker POSEY. Would have enjoyed a B&W TOON as the clue for 66A (Pepe le Pew? Sylvester J. Pussycat?).

Thank you, Mr. Collins.

mysol - a personalized disinfectant.

joho 8:30 AM  

@andrea klink michaels ... I, too, read the clues wrong and ended up thinking a KILLERWHALE is a pond fish?

I didn't know TOCSIN or NENA so guessed and "L" instead of the correct "N." Isn't this cross a Natick? Rex?

This was definitely harder than normal for a Tuesday but very enjoyable, just like yesterday's puzzle. We're off to a good start this week.

@Rex, thank you for the Byrd clip. I had no idea and loved seeing that side of him.

dk 8:32 AM  

So far this is the herky-jerky, EBBS and flows, wax-wane week.

No errors outside of spelling TIMOR with an e instead of an i, just erratic fill time.

I am in klaxon crowd. TOCSIN was new to me. I will see if I can mount one on my kayak. Cruising up the Mississippi tomorrow I understand there are some pretty big beavers. No KILLERWHALES, but KOI (aka catfish) can be the size of Paddy (aka knuclehead the cat).


I liked the Highway Patrol theme. Killer Whale is a hipster/gang term for what is also known as a PROWL car. Both of which are an OMEN of an introduction to the PENAL code. Oh yeah... watch out for the SKUNK wearing AWIRE.

*** (3 Stars) Nice work out.

jesser 8:54 AM  

In Las Cruces the cops drive dark blue Crown Vics, but I remembered Andy Griffith well enough to have no issue with BLACK AND WHITE as a PROWLer reference.

My downfall was at TOCSI_ and _ENA. The former looked like jibberish no matter what it ended with, and I don't know from love balloons so I named her lENA. TOCSIN? The hell ya say...

I certainly agree this was tougher than the Tuesday fare we normally see, and it makes me wonder what lies ahead as the week progresses.

Axidecu! (A black and white crustacean that keeps decorative ponds free of KILLER WHALEs. Why not?) -- jesser

David L 9:05 AM  

This was an easyish Tuesday me -- got TOCSIN from the T -- one of those odd words stuck in the back of my brain somewhere.

Didn't like LOBBY -- NRA and AARP are organizations that do lobbying, they no doubt employ lobbyists and go to the hill to lobby, but calling either of them a lobby seems to me a nonstandard usage.

According to wiki, Equus quagga is indeed the zebra -- but then I wondered, what's the latin tag for the quagga itself? Answer: Equus quagga quagga. Well, duh!

deerfencer 9:15 AM  

Agree the TOCSIN/NENA cross is a stinker and like others I left it blank. Otherwise fairly easy going and a solid fun puzzle--thank you PAC man!

Re "Spectacle," I seem to remember reading that this past season was the last, so catch the reruns while you can. Costello had some amazing lineups and is a great interviewer to boot.

chefbea 9:31 AM  

I too thought this was more difficult than the usual Tuesday puzzle. Didn't know, Posey, Kyra, Nena, equus quagga or tocsin

Does lady gaga have an equus quagga for a pet???

Van55 9:38 AM  

Simple answers with mensanized clues today: ZEBRA, LOBBY, ETAT, BALE, SCROLL, SENORITA and more. Definitely Thusday-ish cluing.

Sparky 9:46 AM  

Expected 3D and 36D to be theme but no. Found SKUNK and then ZEBRA. Thanks, Rex for the life/puzzzle coincedences. Years ago, in Provincetown, there was a place named "... Tocsin" which I had to look up of course. And here it is today. It's all still up there. Have a good day.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:54 AM  

I thought this was a decent puzzle without much punch, but when I re-read the clue for 39 A etc and found all five theme answers, my respect grew.

I always thought the song at 38 D was "99 Luftballons".

Very surprised at 13 D. Seemed to me like cluing "Sodium Chloride" for SALT.

One brief Oops!, had ALOES before SLOES.

JayWalker 10:08 AM  

I actually liked this puzzle a LOT, despite having "slowdowns" in just a few places. "Quagga" did throw me as a clue - but the crosses cleared it up very quickly. For whatever reason, I zipped right thru it. "Tocsin" was a gimme for me - because I have done a lot of Shakespeare and (altho I can't remember the play - I think it was "The Scottish" one) ole Will used it therein. See? You can always count on The Bard to getcha thru the tough times!

Steve J 10:21 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: It was originally "99 Luftballoon," but ther was an Anglicized version released that most US stations played. That became "99 Red Balloons."

As far as the Natick-ness of the TOCSIN/NENA crossing, I'd argue it's not a universal one. A lot of people probably will get stuck there, but if you're of a certain age (say, around 40, where both Rex and I are), NENA is automatic and gettable without a single cross. That annoying song was ubiquitous c. 1982.

jesser 10:32 AM  

@Steve J: At 51, I remember the song, but not the artist. In fact the damn song is now on heavy rotation in my cranium, and I'm going to put on a Warren Zevon or Bruce Cochburn CD to drive it out.

Two Ponies 10:33 AM  

Another early week puzzle with some meat to it. Loved it.
The symmetry of the theme answers along with the central panda added to the pleasure.

Posey Parker or Parker Posey?
No idea.
Tocsin/Nena was a lucky guess.

I find it interesting and amusing that we are still believe in the bad luck of the number thirteen that we skip it in our buildings.
There is no thirteenth floor where I work.

The way this week is going I'm afraid to think about Fri/Sat.

SethG 10:34 AM  

I don't know how it works, but the black and white can be difficult to focus on. I was riding my bike in the wilderness once and came across some zebras, standing in an open plain. I totally didn't see them until I was about 25 yards away.

I probably would have seen the snow leopard earlier, except that it wouldn't let me get that close.

DBGeezer 10:37 AM  

Like @David L, I got TOCSIN from the T. When I was 10 years old, we spent the summer on the Normandy coast. On the First day of September, we woke to hearing the bell in the local church toll solemnly every five seconds. This went on all day. We went to the church and discovered that on Aug 31, Hitler had invaded Poland, and a notice at the church said that every Frenchman between 18 and 40 was now in the armed services. We were told that that tolling alarm was called a TOCSIN.Our family made rapid arrangements to head back to the States.

CoolPapaD 10:39 AM  

Have to clear up an error from yesterday from loyal reader tptsteve: I most assuredly did NOT have a JEWFRO in my youth. I had thick, straight hair which I tried to wear parted in the middle and feathered back, leading to a disco-helmet look. As far as I remember, there were other brothers in the household!

Loved this puzzle. Never heard of the clue for SKUNK, though it was clearly gettable from the crosses / theme.
I stared at METZ for awhile before realizing that I took a day trip there 4 years ago, when I was visiting my SIL stationed in Germany.

Martin 10:41 AM  

Snow leopards vary in color with location and time of year. This beauty is a more classic monochrome.

And here's a snow kitten.

Tinbeni 10:48 AM  

Cockburn's "If I Had A Rocket Launcher" may zap those "99 Red Balloons."

TOCSIN never emerged, so this was A LOSS, on a Tuesday. DNF from the 'N' in NENA.

I saw that NatGeo show. Snow Leopard was a gimmie. Due to how high they live (above 9000 ft.) I know they'll never hunt me here in Dunedin (alt. under 100 ft.)

Zeke 11:04 AM  

Damn you Pete Collins! I remembered NENA from a minor aside here some time ago, otherwise that crossing would have been lost on me. I decided to listen to the song which, while presumeably well intentioned, totally ruined my day.

@Martin - I'll bet dollars to donuts (time to retire that phrase, no? Not really good odds these days) that the photo of the snow leopard has been seriously photoshopped. Everything but the eyes has been rendered monochrome, the eyes have had their saturation boosted at least 100%. Photos randomly posted to the web really can't be taken as documentary evidence.

SethG 11:19 AM  

Zeke, I'll bet that you'll win that bet. Ignoring the issues of answering a random web image with random web images, here's a before and after of that shot.

Oscar 11:36 AM  

Had a strange sense of deja vu while solving this, but I discovered why. It seems that today's constructor has run out of ideas and started stealing from himself:

The Grouch 11:56 AM  

@Oscar - You seem to be confusing yesterday's puzzle with todays author.

Tinbeni 12:11 PM  

"Twist and Shout" on 6/8/10 is not the same as "Black and White" today. If that is your point.

@The Grouch
Oscar's reference is to another Peter A. Collins puzzle earlier this month.
Not only are you a Grouch but all wet, too.

The Grouch 12:18 PM  

@Tinbeni - I know exactly what he was referring to, a Peter Collins puzzle from earlier this month, with an XAXA theme. The XAXA theme was yesterdays puzzle, written by someone other than Pete. Today's Peter Collins puzzle had no XAXAs.
Before you start calling people names, just think for a second, OK?

ArtLvr 12:18 PM  

Beautiful puzzle -- thanks, Peter Collins! I knew TOCSIN because (weirdly) I use it to remember the order of the consonants in Tucson, Arizona. I had a mental block at TIMOR though, with ARIE and TOR not familiar. Too bad...

I enjoyed the assortment of animals, especially the Polecat, and appreciated the extra tidbits about the PROWL car and the SNOW LEOPARD pix. I too once owned a gentleman Maine Coon Cat, much loved -- his name was Smoky.

RIP Sen. Byrd -- He kept civility foremost in the Senate: who can manage that now? And served under how many presidents? Eleven!


retired_chemist 12:25 PM  

I don't see the TOCSIN/NENA cross as a Natick. A true Natick involves proper nouns of no particular fame. NENA might qualify, but TOCSIN is a bona fide word, albeit apparently not as well known as I would have thought. The usual figure of merit is that fewer than 25% of solvers know either of the words. I'd guess this one isn't that obscure. I knew TOCSIN but not NENA, who would have been NENE had the crossworldly UMA not intervened. I am picturing the Hawaiian state bird and the AFLAC duck in a duet. Or possibly the clue's song being sung by a hispanic baby or a Brazilian NBA player in Denver...

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Priceless. I don't think that's what he was referring to.

Masked and Anonymous 1:17 PM  

One of my fave TuePuzzes in quite a while. Critters; always a crowd pleaser. Nice one, Peter and the Shortzmeister. Had some bite to it. In fact, bit down hard as a hungry snow leopard, in the upper right, as per 44.

Thumbs up on TOCSIN as word of the day, too. It was my one after-the-fact lookup of the day, before comin' here. Kinda like it. Next time the clock radio sounds off in the early am, can yell out "toxin!", afore slammin' down on the snooze button.

shrub5 1:21 PM  

Finished with TOCSIL/LENA, as TOCSIN and NENA were unknown to me. Hand up also for STLO before METZ. Favorite clue today: prominent features of Alfred E. Neuman.

Recently learned about Sen. Byrd's accomplished fiddling because of the biographical info shown on TV following his death.

@TwoPonies: Actress is Parker Posey, known for her work in independent films. She was nicknamed by Time Magazine as "Queen of the Indies." She also had a recurring role on "Will and Grace" as Jack's high maintenance boss at Barney's.

Clark 1:41 PM  

@ArtLvr -- Sen. Byrd would have strenuously disagreed with your claim that he served under eleven presidents.

"In 2007, at the unveiling of a portrait of Mr. Byrd in the Old Senate Chamber, former Senator Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland, a colleague of 30 years, recalled that Mr. Byrd had taught him how to answer when a constituent asked, 'How many presidents have you served under?'

'None,' was Mr. Byrd’s reply, Mr. Sarbanes said. 'I have served with presidents, not under them' " (NYT Obit).

Help me understand 2:44 PM  

@The Grouch (12:18) wrote:

I know exactly what he was referring to, a Peter Collins puzzle from earlier this month, with an XAXA theme. The XAXA theme was yesterdays puzzle, written by someone other than Pete. Today's Peter Collins puzzle had no XAXAs.

How does:

P.C.'s earlier this month ... XAXA theme.

Today's P.C. had no XAXAs.

Support @Oscar's original: It seems that today's constructor [ie P.C.] has run out of ideas and started stealing from himself?


Anonymous 2:47 PM  

This is so confusing. The puzzle Oscar referred to...did not have an XAXA theme.

Rex Parker 2:59 PM  

Please stop perpetuating a pointless argument. Thank you.


sanfranman59 3:14 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Tue 9:32, 8:49, 1.08, 78%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:13, 4:31, 1.15, 91%, Challenging

ArtLvr 3:23 PM  

@Clark -- I stand corrected!


joho 3:24 PM  

@retired_chemist ... I always forget that a Natick requires two proper names. So, of course, I couldn't cry Natick today. I'll just call it an impossible crossing for me.

CrazyCat 3:47 PM  

I definitely thought this was a tough Tuesday with tricky clues, but I really enjoyed it. Liked the BLACK AND WHITE theme. I started off with a bunch of dumb mistakes. Ohio instead of ETAT for 15A Layfayette's state, Horse instead of ZEBRA for 13D Equus Quagga and ST LO instead of METZ. Managed to get everything straightened out except for the cross of TOCSIN and NENA - both new for me. I liked the little French lesson today with SANS, ÉTAT, BÊTE and METZ.

fikink 4:24 PM  

@SethG, thanks for the photoshop tip-off. Dumb Debbie is so damn gullible! (Snow Leopard is Mac's latest operating system, for those of you who are on PCs and unaware of it. The image is all over our software. I been had!)

@Clark, love the Byrd anecdote- ain't it the truth!

@shrub5, I can no longer think of Alfred E. Newman without thinking of W. And I can no longer think of W without thinking of Curious George. The man was entertaining, I must admit that!

Oscar 4:34 PM  

They are variations on a theme, is all I meant. An XANDY theme.

PuzzleNut 5:03 PM  

Like @David L and @DBGeezer, TOCSIN was a gimme and the whole puzzle fell pretty easily. Didn't know NENA or POSEY, but the crosses were straightforward. My only issue with TOCSIN is that I can't remember if it is TOCSIN or TOSCIN. Same problem with TESLA and TELSA. Seems like after all these years I'd find some space in my gray matter to get these straight.

PIX 5:20 PM  

"The black and whites they cruise by
And they watch us from the corner of their eye"
Springsteen "Out In The Street"

13D Equus quagga... a genus and species name...these should be indicated in italics or underlined...equus implies the anwer will be an animal related to a a black and white animal puzzle, that leads to zebra....a lot more interesting then the two actors' names intersecting in lower California

Nighthawk 5:24 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nighthawk 5:27 PM  

Like, seemingly, all, I struggled with the TOCSIN/NENA bit. And felt much the same as most, fun, but a bit tougher for a Tues.

Interesting how we all have internal mnemonics, like @ ArtLvr using TOCSIN for the consonant arrangement in Tucson.

I missed the STLO trap only because, after a fairly famous person who had lived on my street moved out to a bigger and more famous place, a family with two twin redheaded daughters my age bought the place. Because of the former famous owner, invitations to the girls pool parties were, in the 6th and 7th grade crowd of the day, the hottest invites in town. "Did you get an invitation to swim at the METZ this Saturday?"

captcha: motedor -- stylish vanquisher of dust particles.

foodie 7:57 PM  

Sorry for the off-topic comment, but it was nice to hear Janet Bradlow, current Jeopardy champ, talking with Alex about crossword tournaments and Wordplay :)

There seems to be overlap between appearing on Jeopardy and NYTime puzzling (Hi Andrea!)

Two Ponies 8:16 PM  

@ foodie, I believe there is a connection.
At the contest in LA this spring one of the finalists was a previous five time champ!
His name escapes me right now but he was very nice.
Alex, Puzzlemate, and I have supper together nearly every week day.

joho 8:21 PM  

@foodie ... I don't think your comment is off topic. I just watched Jeopardy and was fascinated that Janet does crosswords and was in the movie "Wordplay" but cut from the final version. People have been telling me for years I should go on Jeopardy. My husband, who doesn't do crosswords turned to me tonight and said, "See, you do crosswords like Janet and you should be on Jeopardy." I promise it won't be me. But I will bet a lot of Rexites are ready and able.

Moonchild 8:39 PM  

Cool and fun Tuesday.
I had the same problem as everyone else with Nena/tocsin.
I have tried out for Jeopardy twice.
First time was a pencil and paper affair. It was fun and relaxed. The second try was on-line.
The on-line version was much harder.
By the time I had read the column heading and then the answer I was nearly out of time.
Both times it was just like the show in that it all depended on the topics. Sometimes it was right up my alley and other times I felt like a complete idiot.

CrazyCat 9:03 PM  

No ifs ands or buts - Bill Clinton and Bob Byrd are/were two cute guys. Just now had time to watch the video clips.

sanfranman59 10:01 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 7:11, 6:55, 1.04, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 9:32, 8:49, 1.08, 78%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:50, 3:41, 1.04, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:09, 4:31, 1.14, 91%, Challenging

dk 10:14 PM  
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dk 10:15 PM  

Late night deep thoughts,

Mostly I liked this puzzle because it had 4 Ks in it

I am changing my name from silly sycophant toperpetually pointless.

@pix, speaking of Springsteen we have been driving folks crazy with the Elmer Fudd version of Ridin in My Car

mac 10:55 PM  

Well, I know Nena and her neunundneunzig Luftballons, and must have gotten all kinds of fill in before writing down wrong answers. I found this one a true Tuesday. Tocsin was new, but I could not get around nacho, bad as it may be.

@chefwen and @Leslie: For a (longish) moment I thought your husbands addressed you that way! My apologies to them...

@Martin: love that snow kitten.

Riser for choir support is a mystery to me, but the crosses supported it.

Stephen 11:31 PM  

I had the same problem with the NE that others did, but I really liked this theme. It took a while to get BLACK AND WHITE, but once it was there, the five animals came soon enough afterward. It's great when the theme is both cute and has solving power. It provided my entry into the NE (not LEONORA).

The main WTF for me was 26D "__ cheese". Where have I been all my life? protected from cheesy cheeses I guess, because even after I got NACHO the clue did not make any kind of reasonable sense.

(Mac: a riser is a mutli-level platform on which a group stands to see and be seen.)

mac 11:34 PM  

Thank you, Stephen, and good night.

Stan 11:39 PM  

I really liked this well-constructed puzzle. The animals were very cool and PROWL (which wasn't easy to get) held together the two parts of the theme. 69A is a French word I actually know and can use in a sentence: "Je suis bête."

HudsonHawk 12:23 AM  

@dk, I believe the Springsteen song you're referring to is "Fire", covered very successfully by the Pointer Sisters. But the funniest version is Robin Williams channeling Elmer Fudd in a stand-up special from around 1982. Absolutely classic!

Sfingi 1:40 AM  

OK, everyone else is doing Wednesday's puzzle. But I was very busy, so there.

Beautiful puzzle, very visual, had to comment.

Thanks for that old time music.

Can't believe I got all the French.
Beautiful movie, Beauty and the Beast, B&W, 1946, Jean Cocteau.

TOCSIN - homophone for TOxIN, poison.

Wrong track unit - had "pAwS" for LAPS. To go with theme.

When I was a kid, swimming was closed down for Polio. Rather worse.

My Mensa friend used to work for SingerLink on flight SIMULATORs in Binghamton, where REX resides. I think it's gone.

Never heard of POSEY. Suzy Parker is more my speed.

SNOWLEOPARD. The one I didn't get to see from the monorail in the Toronto Zoo because he wouldn't PROWL out of his cave on the hottest day of the year. Smart.

Tinbeni 9:43 AM  

@Oscar 4:34
Thanks for the confirmation.

@The Grouch
Seems an apology is in order.

Dolly G. 7:32 PM  

I know its late in the day but I had to comment.
St o was my fiorst thought but I know a Mai Tai when I see one

Dolly G. 7:38 PM  

Well, as you can see, besides being tired I can't even proof my comment

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