Tiny electrical measure / THU 6-3-10 / Puppeteer Tony / Pope with 27-Day pontificate / Utility's power-saving stratagem / TV over breakfast inits

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

Relative difficulty: Easy to Easy-Medium, somewhere in there?

THEME: ROFL — theme answers begin with words that express, in order, the real words behind the common online initialism ROFL (Rolling On the Floor Laughing) — circles highlight the letters ROFL

Word of the Day: MICROHM (9D: Tiny electrical measure) —

(electricity) A unit of resistance, reactance, and impedance, equal to 10-6 ohm. (answers.com)
• • •

When I finished I looked at the grid and thought, "... ... ???? ... ... *Oh!* ... huh, I thought it was ROTFL ... oh well ..." Maybe we'll see a LAUGHING / OUT / LOUD puzzle now. We probably won't ever see a LAUGHING MY ASS OFF puzzle, ALAS (1A: "Regrettably..."). I'd have circled the "T" in "THE" on this one. ROFL is very well attested, and possibly more widely used than ROTFL. I've just not seen it much. ROTFL looks familiar, ROFL looks like it's missing a letter. It's possible that I was deeply influenced by Weird Al's neologistic hybrid "ROTFLOL" from the song "White & Nerdy," but my experience with that song involves hearing the letters, not seeing them. Unless they are shown in the video. Let's see.

[Yep. There they are. Huge. Right behind Al and ... Donny Osmond]

Fillwise, I was a little disappointed with this grid today. Five partials. Five? The word count on this one is awfully low (72) for a themed puzzle. I'd have happily accepted a couple more words if the change in any way could've taken one of the following out of the grid: AN END, ILL AT, AS IT, IT NO, NOT IF (those last two actually cross). Then there's SCRAWLY (20A: Like doodles), which sounds like a pet's name more than an actual word. It crosses the section where I had the most trouble (due to unheard of MICROHM and mistake of ALKALI and figuring the Chekhov chick must be an IRINA or ELENA or something; MASHA? Those letters should exist in a row only if followed by POTATO) (9A: One of the sisters in Chekhov's "Three Sisters"). Between its sounding made-up and its gumming up my NE, I should have hated SCRAWLY, and yet I found myself laughing (though not ROFL) as I wrote it in. "That's a word!? Awesome." It perfectly describes my handwriting. Lesson: If you're going to put in marginal words, make them fantastically loopy. SCRAWLY actually made me forget the pain of the rest of that quadrant. I was actually grateful for SCRAWLY. That's some weird kind of puzzler's Stockholm Syndrome right there.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Utility's power-saving stratagem (ROLLING BLACKOUT) — a really great 15-letter answer
  • 25A: How oysters may be served (ON THE HALF SHELL)
  • 42A: Fully, in a way (FLOOR TO CEILING)
  • 56A: Kookaburra (LAUGHING JACKASS)
Theme answers were extremely easy to get, except the JACKASS part of LAUGHING JACKASS, which baffled me. I know the kookaburra as a funny-sounding bird. Missed the "JACKASS" part when I was learning about them. Anyway, the ease with which the themers went down helped propel me to a near-best Thursday for 2010 (came up a bit short). So I thought, "EASY." But between the MICROHM section and the tough clues on CAROM (33A: Have a reflection?) and LENIN (33A: Red head?)in the middle and the JACKASS at the bottom, it seemed like there were plenty of potential stumbling point. Add in the low word count, and I figured it might not be very easy for everyone. Easyish.

This puzzle raises the question: how valuable is an "X" to my puzzle? Everyone loves the high-end Scrabble tiles; they spice things up. But if the best thing "X" gets you is LUXOR (41A: Egypt's Temple of ___), a crosswordy bit of exotica, and you've got to take LEO XI to get it (30D: Pope with a 27-day pontificate), I say 'no.' Don't do it. *Nobody* wants to see LEO XI again, unless we're getting, say, ST. EXUPERY in the bargain. LUXOR is not enough weight on the scale. The fact that you need the very crosswordesey EOS (34A: Mother of the winds, in Greek myth) and SARG (35D: Puppeteer Tony) nearby to prop this "X"-crossing up only solidifies my point.

  • 21A: Locale of Osama bin Laden (CAVE) — Really? You know where he is? You should tell someone.
  • 38A: "Salute to the sun" discipline (YOGA) — OK, Sun salute I've actually done. Last time a YOGA pose showed up in a clue, I hadn't heard of it, and I semi-shouted at my (crossword-solving) yoga instructor (also my colleague and friend). Her using Sanskrit names all the time is not helping my crossword mojo at all.
  • 62A: When repeated, capital city of 11,000 (PAGO) — gimme. Only repeating geographical names I can even think of are PAGO PAGO and BORA BORA. Unless NEW YORK, NEW YORK counts.
  • 5D: Palindromic woman's name (HANNAH) — cluing a longish answer as "palindromic" is going to make it Very easy to get.
  • 7D: Hook alternative (JAB) — Me: "CROOK? SMEE?"
  • 29D: Essential part of a grand tour (FRANCE) — though I feel as if I've said it before, I thought "Grand Tour" was capitalized. It is on every site I'm seeing at the moment, but that's pretty cursory research, I'll admit.
  • 57D: TV-over-breakfast inits. (GMA) — didn't know it, but it's the first thing that came to mind and I put it in immediately. My TV-over-breakfast inits. are ESPN, ESPN2, and TDS on my DVR. Speaking of what I'm likely to see on ESPN this morning after I finish this write-up — if you missed the epic tragedy that was the Tigers/Indians game last night (and that's most of you, I'm guessing), well, it's really worth reading about if you're a baseball fan (and maybe if you're not).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Leslie 7:35 AM  

Odd to me to see PAGO PAGO for the second time, so soon. Not bad, just odd.

Loved seeing ROLLING BLACKOUT as an answer! My only write-overs were "a head" for AN END at 61A, and "alkali" for ALKANE at 10D.

You're killing me, Rex. Mr. Leslie and I were watching the game and were as drop-jawed as everyone else. This morning, we can manage to find an ounce of sympathy for Jim Joyce, who's going to have to go share bin Laden's CAVE for a while. I was going to say "until this dies over," but for him, it never will.

I'm "elvene" this morning--a little bit supernatural. Hope it's in a good way.

ArtLvr 8:02 AM  

Please explain GMA? Thx.


Leslie 8:04 AM  

"Good Morning America."

Ooh! And now I'm "bridola!" Spray this all over the bride-to-be on her big day!!

Echo 8:08 AM  

AKA AKA (rural district near Auckland, New Zealand), BADEN-BADEN (in Germany), BELLA BELLA (coastal town in British Columbia, Canada), BORA BORA (an island in French Polynesia), BUBUBUBU (a stream in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), BUDGE BUDGE (a suburb of Calcutta), DUM DUM (another suburb of Calcutta), FOFO FOFO (a town in Papua), GOONOO GOONOO (Australia), GRONG GRONG (a town in Australia), KIRAKIRA (Solomon Islands), KURRI KURRI (Australia), LOMALOMA (Fiji), MITTA MITTA(Australia), NENGONENGO (Fr. Polynesia), NGORO NGORO (a crater in Tanzania), PAGO PAGO (Am. Samoa), PAOPAO (Fr. Polynesia), PUAPUA (W. Samoa), PUEPUE (Solomon Islands), PUKAPUKA (Cook Islands), RABA RABA (Papua New Guinea), REKAREKA (Fr. Polynesia), SAVUSAVU (Fiji), SOMOSOMO (Fiji), WALLA WALLA (U. S.), WALLAN WALLAN (Australia), WAGGA WAGGA (Australia), and WOY WOY (Australia).

joho 8:10 AM  

Any puzzle with a LAUGHINGJACKASS, LOON and BOOBS that GOBANANAS makes a TON of fun for me.

I also had a write over from AhEaD to ANEND. And a big, fat mistake at sASHA/sICROHM. In fact, sICROHM was my WOTD!

I thought EOS was the goddess of the dawn. She must hold down two jobs.

My nickname for one of my very best friends is Kookaburra ... now I see this is something I need to rethink.

Thank you, Elizabeth C. Gorski for your upbeat creation that definitely brought a smile to my face.

dk 8:13 AM  

Ack (as Kathy of the comics would say)! Not only circles, bane of my existence, texting initials!! Double ack!

Dave Garroway and Muggs the chimp were the last TV I saw over breakfast. GMA = BFB (big fat baby) TV IMEAI (in my egotistical and irate opinion).

Up late last night with a book (a real book).

Man these cranky pants are tight, no PETITES for me, gotta resume YOGA.

Liz, great puzzle. MASHA was Sasha and I had no idea for MICROHM. We had a CAROM board as kids. So CAROM as reflection - IMISSEDIT.

*** (3 Stars)

ps. On the phone with my 83 year old mom last night. She does the x-word every day and happily measures her completion time in hours. @jesser I told her you are close by if she needs a hint.

pps. Whats up with OBIT and HAJI? Can't they play someplace else?

Cool Dude 8:24 AM  

ROFL is definitely much more common than ROTFL. It's also a lot more fun: ROFL admits the pronunciation "roffle". Were ROTFL the standard, we may not have such internet gems as:


foodie 8:36 AM  

I have such confused feelings about this puzzle. In part, it's because I'm hazy and woozy, having taken the red eye from LA to NYC, where the weather matches my brain. Also, I read ROLF in lieu of ROFL and wondered how the theme related to ROLFing? Then I got it! See the circles all standing up almost straight on one side of the grid! But one of them needs alignment! Oh how we can delude ourselves!

Like @Joho, I love the longer answers and the overall theme of over- the-top, exuberant laughter! I had no idea what Kookaburra was, but the answer was worth it. But then, I was annoyed by all the stuff that Rex noted which got in the way of a smooth solve. (At least LUXOR came easily enough, having spent a year of my life in Egypt).

I really would rather love or hate a puzzle. Ambivalence is a terrible disease.

Vincent Lima 8:40 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle.

True, by the time I got to 61A, AN END, it occurred to me that we have one partial too many; I hesitated to write in the "ES" of NIECES, scratching my head, wondering what "family reuners" means (I guess it is derived from reunion, though "family members" would have worked just fine); and the MICROHM-CAROM crossing was murder (this isn't Friday, after all). On the other hand, this puzzle had ROLLING BLACKOUT, ON THE HALF SHELL, BOOBS (!), LENIN, and PASTAS (nicely clued). So it was enjoyable. (Could have done without OBIT and SSTS again.)

Dorothy Biggs 8:44 AM  

i know absolutely ZERO names of puppeteers unless their name starts with "jim." so, a name like "SAAG" makes sense to me if he is norwegian or otherwise scandinavian.

i figured to "tweet" i had to "LOG IN" and there is an island semi close (?) to egypt called "LUXIA" on which a temple might have been built. i totally missed that whole little block.

otherwise, after i decided to give up 49D as "ANTE" by giving way to a "LAUGHING JACKASS," the SW came into focus. i actually got the jackass part first, vaguely knowing that kookaburras are mischievous...apparently to some, maliciously so.

i also had a little trouble with "SCRAWLY" because i didn't believe. but after erasing and refilling and re-erasing and refilling "ILL AT" several times, i decided to trust...and i finally saw that 12D was referring to a verb and not a noun.

19A would have been better as "ONEISH" IMHO.


ArtLvr 8:56 AM  

Thanks, Leslie! I meant to add that I really liked the puzzle, even if I didn't notice the circles till revisiting it this morning. The only hitch was a misstart with Agri- at 1D before AGRO!

Liz always has a lilt somehow, from GO BANANAS to LAUGHING JACKASS this time. And I mostly enjoy even the partials like "NOT IF I can help it"! crossed with "Pay IT NO mind".

@ foodie, I hope you recover soon... Would share some of my strawberry crop with you, wonderfully sweet this year!


Anonymous 8:59 AM  

Cute puzzle, but I wasn't fond of SW cross of "earn" and "Ernie.". On the other hand, I liked the side by side pairing of "petites" and "pastas.". Moby

Van55 9:02 AM  

Not one of Liz's best. SSTS = lazy. Too many partials. LUXOR/LEOXI cross. But the theme and answers almost atone.

fikink 9:31 AM  

Interesting discussion of the use of LUXOR, Rex.

chefbea 9:38 AM  

Never heard of ROFL or ROTFL so had no idea what the theme was til I came here.

Love oysters on the half shell.

Will someone explain 45A. why is it rag?

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

@chefbea- As in Scott Joplin's ragtime music-- Maple Leaf Rag and Pineapple Rag. This music was re-popularized in the soundtrack to "The Sting" in the 1970s.

I had some problems, e.g., alkyne, alkane, alkene, and now, microhm looks obvious, and thus, thought it was more of the medium/difficult ilk.(I freely confess I am no Rex Parker.)

As for the theme, "I MISSED IT," just like the ump in last night's game. I know he apologized, and Detroit's pitcher was classy about the whole thing. It's hard to believe that 3 perfect games- or nearly perfect- have been thrown so close to each other this season.

Dough 9:59 AM  

Well, I thought this was just a terrific little puzzle. Great entries. ROFL is definitely much more common than ROTFL. But Will could easily have circled the T if he wanted to, as it's right there. The full abbr., as I learned it, was ROTFLMAO, and Elizabeth gave us the A (ASS) as a tip of the hat to whole magilla. Kudos. Joyous fun.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:02 AM  

WMTP -- Where's My Thursday Puzzle?

CoolPapaD 10:12 AM  

I am kicking myself for insisting that the Russian girl's name was Pasha (sounds ethnic), and having a PICOHM as the measure! Pico is 10 to the negative 12th power, while micro is 10 to the negative 6th power - mine is smaller!

Overall this was fun - as long as ASS was in the grid, it seems that the whole phrase could have been worked in somehow (though, as a non-constructor, I can't comment further!).

@Echo - wow wow! Thank you, thank you!

The late George Carlin had a great line about "going bananas!" Can't repeat it here, but I'm sure it's easy to find.

JayWalker 10:17 AM  

Gee - speaking of "cranky pants" . . . . You guys are a lot more forgiving this a.m. than I am. I was just annoyed by this one today. I don't "tweet" so ROFL meant absolutely nothing to me and there was no reference to it in the clues (which often happens - right?). "MicroHm"? "Haji"? AGAIN? "Origin" for the math poser? Not a math person - so again - totally out in the cold. I too don't much care for the partials - especially this many of them. See? Just whine, whine, whine. I don't even like myself this morning!

Ulrich 10:31 AM  

I try to reconstruct what I posted an hr. ago, only to see it disappear into the cyber black hole (and yes, it showed after I published it--God knows for how long?):

@echo: Thx--I suspected that there had to be more repeat names in the S. Pacific, given how frequent this construction is in Polynesian languages.

I can live with this puzzle's theme, but sincerely hope it doesn't establish a precedent--we could have a full year with nothing but texting acronyms!

@archaeoprof: Happy digging! Will you miss the games of the FIFA World Cup?

Two Ponies 10:32 AM  

I ran hot and cold on this one.
I was right on Liz G.'s wavelength so I felt it was too easy for a Thursday.
I loved the long answers and the over-all funniness but ...
I don't text so missed the theme.
Why is the F out of line?
Haji again?
Microhm looks like it is lacking an O. Microohm is way too crazy to be right.
More plus than minus for this solver.
I can see the Luxor casino from my desk so a Vegas gimme.

retired_chemist 10:36 AM  

Mostly good stuff. Medium.

{cranky pants} MICROHM? Yes, it googles, but the term is MICROOHM, however ugly you think that is, with or without a hyphen.{/cranky pants} I was so sure of that that I started looking for a rebus, obviously to no avail and without much lost time.

retired_chemist 10:46 AM  

@ Two ponies - posts crossed in the blogosphere. Didn't mean to be cranky at YOU - just at the alleged electrical unit.

Briar Tuck (on tour) 10:57 AM  

Here we go again:

1608 - In 1608, a man named Thomas Coryate set off on a walking tour of Europe, then wrote a book about it, thus becoming the official founder of both the tradition of "the grand tour" and the travelogue.- [Related web pages

The Grand Tour was the traditional travel of Europe undertaken by mainly upper-class European young men of means. The custom flourished from about 1660... [wiki]

dk 11:04 AM  

Mercury Blues

I guess we can all sing along with this.

Zeke 11:14 AM  

Since MICROHMS isn't really a term whereas PICOOHMS is, MASHA became PASHA, SCRAWLEY became, well I can't imagine what it became. As PASHA is roughly equivalent to MASHA, PICOOHMS wins over MICROHMS hands down, and as SCRAWLEY isn't really a word either, I succesfully completed the alternate version of the puzzle.
I'll blame Jim Joyce for everything. In truth, above and beyond the epic miscall, there was more true sportsmanship in that incident than I've seen cumulatively all year in baseball. The batter tried his best, as he should have, but was truly regretfull for having got the hit, the pitcher who got screwed never said one word, the ump apologized, which the pitcher was accepted gracefully.

Sparky 11:16 AM  

Found it somewhat challenging. I espected a rebus. Also don't know tweet initials for things. But did finally see the first couple of words made a phrase. Had to look up Chekov's sister. Can never remember all three. Repeats of Yul and haji lately. In grammar school we sang a ditty, "Laugh Kookaburra" but it didn't mention the jackass part. @At NCA President: Yes, my puppeteers are Burr and Jim. But Sarg always in puzzles. I'm goingto look him up right now. Have a good day.

Glitch 11:18 AM  

Is it my imagination or are some of the ROFL complainers former STOL supporters?

Also, ROLF is NOT just for texting, it often appears in blogs, for example:

"@ CoolPapaD - ROFL re folding the monitor." [retired_chemist 24-Jan-10 3:50 PM]

..../Glitch ;)>

Tobias Duncan 11:49 AM  

I dont think Luxor can still be described as exotica now that a huge casino in Vegas has been erected in its honor.

Elisa 11:57 AM  

We are up to at least three yoga clues in the puzzle this year.

Surya Namaskar = Sun Salutes. I will never say this in English again.

You all should see Rex's sirsanana. So lovely; such balanced action.

Kelly 12:06 PM  

i came here to pick a fight about microhm vs. microohm, but i see that's already been taken care of! good work.

also, i saw the game, and as an indians fan, i absolutely wish they had called him out EVEN THOUGH it was detroit. terrible, terrible call.

Stan 12:07 PM  

Lovely long theme answers and minimalist circles that needed no explanation. Plus lively fill here and there. But then way too much time wrestling with crosses that never quite looked right (Scrawly? Misha? Tasha? Sasha?) I suppose I really should read "Three Sisters and "Little Women."

Clark 12:23 PM  

The kookaburras we used to sing about were gay:

Laugh kookaburra
Laugh kookaburra
Gay your life must be.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

shrub5 12:27 PM  

This puzzle took me quite awhile to finish mostly because of LAUGHING JACKASS. I mean I could see what was emerging and everything generating it seemed OK. Kookaburra is a bird so why is JACKASS showing up in the answer? Though it wasn't necessary, I HAD to stop and google right away...oh, OK....then continued on to completion.

Like others, I had trouble at the MASHA/MICROHM crossing. sASHA, pASHA? MICRoOHM missing an O? I had ante before TUNE (for 'get ready to play,say') Liked SALT for 'curer' as well as the clue for JIG (it's often said to be "up"). For someone who took a lot of math, ORIGIN for where the axes meet took me way too long.

Saw the replay of the blown baseball call several times on the news. Such a shame, but the pitcher Galarraga sure handled it gracefully. Bad enough that he didn't get his perfect game but to lose it on a play that he successfully made himself. Well, that's someone I would want on my team.

Loved this puzzle -- a TON of fun and LOL'd (but not on the floor) when I figured out the theme.

Tinbeni 12:49 PM  

BOOBS and ASS, damn I'm a Leg man.

Themes were a cinch, that NE a bitch.

Entered the "other" PAGO.

Masked and Anonymous 12:49 PM  

Guess I'm in the "WTF is ROFL" minority contingent. Which really slowed me down in understandin' the theme, but didn't stop me from fillin' in the grid.

@44: Liz wasn't tryin' to save the X with LUXOR, she was tryin' to save the (3rd) U! Ain't no other LU?OR words. QED.

Thumbs up. And Hi-Yo, ALKANEYULSKEE, away...

andrea scrawly michaels 1:04 PM  

"That's some weird kind of puzzler's Stockholm Syndrome right there."

The MASHA/MICROHM debate is a perfect example of literary vs scientific leanings (Tho I suspect this crowd tends to have both!)

I didn't blink at MASHA (Maybe non-Chekhov fans can remember it by Brady-Bunchesque MASHA MASHA MASHA)
but I had MICROHn and never understood CAROn...
Leslie? Car On? short for Carry on? I knew SOMETHING was wrong but didn't get what.

I think I've mentioned before that my understanding of many indigenous languages use the repeating word as their plural instead of an "s". So Minnehaha is many running waters, thus falls...or Walla Walla is double whatever a walla is.
That wonderful list @echo supplied is screaming for a puzzlepuzzle.
I'm sure Peter Gordon has done some variation in the NY Sun!

Shocked Shocked at all the partials, but I echo Joho that certainly BOOBS, JIG and GOBANANAS make up for them...
esp when you don't look at them in a puzzle (ugly) but say out loud "NOTIF I can help it!" feels happy and lively...
Maybe we can all just read the puzzles out loud and @JayWalker will feel happy!

Liz Gorski continues to have such original fun bouncy lovely puzzles! I admire from afar!

The bleedovers HAJI and OBIT are hardly the constructors fault... Maybe should be viewed as fun synchronicity (see how much therapy I've had!)

And if you look at just the ends of Ms Gorski's thimes, in case you MISSEDIT, she has
What a Cunning Linguist! ;)

Two Ponies 1:10 PM  

Oh Andrea!
Cunning Linguist! Now that is ROFL.
I also happen to be married to one.
What a guy.

Rex Parker 1:12 PM  


That's not how constructing puzzles works.

If you have a sub-optimal section, you GUT it. Here, gut everything south of SHELL and north of CEILING (not very much, frankly). *Then* see if you can do better. You don't stick with what you've got simply because swapping out a single letter is impossible. *You're the one that made it impossible.* So fix it. Or don't, if other options are worse. But the presence/absence of other LU-OR words in English is entirely irrelevant.


Rex Parker 1:14 PM  


This isn't any better, but very very quickly I made LEOXI into LEONI and LOGON into LOGAN. New grid. Totally workable. As I said, not better (LEONI is crosswordese herself), but utterly doable. That was w/o trying.

Ned Kelly 1:20 PM  

Here's what a LAUGHINGJACKASS sounds like.

Shamik 1:48 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: Re: WMTP...LOLROFLMAO.

@Echo: Thank you for your research, and you must really have tons of time on your hands!

I actually liked this puzzle and consider it in 7:04 an easy Thursday for me. And that's despite having tons of ins and outs:

LOGIN for LOGON (always my mistake)
LILIES for LILACS (which are in bloom in Alaska right now)

Least liked entry: ISLS

It give me my captcha: oungst

syndy 2:17 PM  

did the puzzle last night-had heard of rolf but not rofl but coundn't convince myself this was a chiropratic reference but WTF! thankfully the English dude had blogged.i think the wave function of the micro ohm may be collapsing

Rube 2:18 PM  

Had antE and LOGiN also, and didn't know what a Kookaburra was... only knew it had something to do with a tree, from the song that is. Had trouble with PETITES and LOATHED so the SW was my problem area. However, since I finished with no Googles, it was an abnormally easy Thursday puzzle for me. I guess I've seen ROFL, but it's not in my vocabulary.

Knew that MICROHM would raise a few hackles, figured that ECG was not tech savy, (read a liberal artsy-craftsy type), that she got this (mis)spelling from the web, gave my snooty scientific superiority snort, and moved on. (Don't get me wrong ECG, I love your puzzles.)

chefwen 3:16 PM  

I have never tweeted, but I also have seen ROLF many times on this blog and others.

After my struggle with HAJI yesterday, it was a snap today, nothing like a little repetition to help a puzzle along. Today my problems ran along side many others with MASHA/MICROHM. Got it done Google free, yeah!

nonra - not believing in the sun god.

Joe 3:40 PM  

This was another "meh" puzzle for me.

I'm crating a new rule: the Sarg Rule.

Any puzzle that uses "famous puppeteer Tony Sarg" as a clue gets immediately thrown down the Bad Egg shaft at the Wonkafactory.

The most famous puppeteer....that no one's ever heard of.
More people have heard of Senor Wences and he didn't even have a puppet. He was 102 years old and still talking to his hand.

Also, thumbs down in the NE corner: SCRAWLY, MICROHM, ALKANE. If we're making up
words today, I can make up my own.

'Meh' to ONETEN (why not ONEOTWO or TWELVEFIFTYTHREE?) as well.
And the clue for CAROM was not good. I think "Have a reflector" would have been better, if you insist using a form of reflect, but "Have a rebound" would have been best.

All in all, this rates a good, solid MEH!

sanfranman59 3:59 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)

Thu 14:12, 19:14, 0.74, 6%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 7:05, 9:12, 0.77, 8%, Easy

lit.doc 4:15 PM  

This just in from the shallow end of the miracle pool: I got through this extremely fun puzzle in half an hour, with no googles or errors. Fastest Thursday ever. And LMFAO at a bunch of the answers—you don’t see a puzzle with good T&A very often. Thanks, Ms. Gorski.

I’ve taught Chekhov enough that MASHA got me off to a good start in NE, but then I stepped in 9D. Was sure it had to be MILLI or MICRO, but it took ON THE HALF SHELL (which I filled in with no crosses) and CAROM (hell of a clue!) to get my brain to accept that one-O OHM. @Retired Chemist, thanks for your well-informed umbrage on that one.

john farmer 4:17 PM  

I just wanted to put in a good word for LUXOR.

It's not exactly an obscure place. It's a major city in Egypt, about 400,000 people, probably the largest city on the Nile south of Greater Cairo. It is historically significant, site of the ancient capital of Egypt, among other things.

It is also (as noted above) the name of a major casino in Vegas, with a landmark pyramid-style building. Luxor gets major promotion in the media, though that may be more true in the West than the East.

Anyway, if the mid-east part of the grid were redone, the word there I'd try to keep is LUXOR.

John Hoffman 5:38 PM  

This was an excellent Thurs for me. A challenge, but I could *do* it.

I think that TV-over-Breakfast is odd.

I had "bring to AHEAD" rather than "bring to ANEND".

My NIECE is named HANNAH. Some placement! Her twin sister is named AVILA also a palindrome. Her Mom said that he didn't realize the two palindromes until someone pointed it out later.


chefbea 6:02 PM  

@sundance I don't see AVILA as a palindrome???

David L 6:19 PM  

A late communication on the micro(o)hm question. I checked the Nat Inst of Standards and Technology website, because they are the people who Decide These Things. I couldn't find any official ruling on micro(o)hm, but the unit for one thousands ohms is officially kilohm, not kiloohm, and certainly not kilo-ohm. [See http://physics.nist.gov/Pubs/SP811/sec09.html, section 9.3] By analogy, microhm is permissible, and it is certainly attested in dictionaries.

OK, more than you wanted to know, but it's a slow evening.

ochnest: what a jubilant Scottish birdwatcher cries.

mac 6:35 PM  

This would have been a delightful Wednesday. I'm with Bob Kerfuffle: WTHIMTP?

No problem with Masha, but alkine and scribly, until slob just didn't fit right.

@Two Ponies: that might be TMI!

@Acme: Would a walla be an onion?

william e emba 6:54 PM  

I'm currently reading MASHA Gessen Perfect Rigor (a book only a mathematician could love), so I got the Chekhov sister quicker than I deserve. I think after 30-some years, I'm going to reread that play. It drives me nuts every time it shows up in the crossword, and I futiley stretch my brain trying to remember the play.

Is this a bizarre coincidence or what? LUXOR and ROTF together!

Citizen Dain 7:05 PM  

I have a bone to pick with SCRAWLY. [Case worker] did NOT translate into ATTY for me, so I was dependent on the crosses to fill 13d. My answer was SCRAWLs. Couldn't an argument be made that the clue is misleading, since it says [Like doodles] rather than [Like a doodle]? A scrawl is like a doodle, so I put in SCRAWLs. This seems misleading an unfair. I have less problem with the answer then I do with the clue.

Then again, I probably should have figured out ATTY, and I wouldn't be nearly as upset if it wasn't the ONLY SQUARE on the grid that I got wrong and was one square away from successfully completing my FIRST THURSDAY PUZZLE of my life. Arghhh. Have to keep trying next week, I guess.

SethG 7:44 PM  

David L, section 9.3 says

Reference [6] points out that there are three cases in which the final vowel of an SI prefix is commonly omitted: megohm (not megaohm), kilohm (not kiloohm), and hectare (not hectoare). In all other cases in which the unit name begins with a vowel, both the final vowel of the prefix and the vowel of the unit name are retained and both are pronounced,. [Emphasis added]

So kilohm is explicitly an exception to the general rule. Microohm is not, and both o's should be retained and pronounced. There may be another source which cites microhm as acceptable, but NIST's reference to the SI 10-2002 IEEE/ASTM Standard does not.

Citizen Dain, if a scrawl is like a doodle, then [Doodle] would clue SCRAWL and [Doodles] would clue SCRAWLS. But [Like a doodle] would be the adjective form, SCRAWLY, and [Like doodles] is no different.

PIX 7:57 PM  

I am late to the game but am I the only one who has a problem with 27D:{having harmony=tonal}...doesn't tonal imply a "key center" or tonic cord whereas "Harmony" implies simultaneous pitches tones, notes, or chords. {Wiki}...related ideas, but different.

Sfingi 9:56 PM  

@Rex - It was locale FOR, not OF, bin Ladin, as in a possible location. So, I liked that clue. He shall always be associated with CAVEs.
Don't gut that fabulous bird!

I found the CW difficult, but am glad I did it, since it's Thurs, and not impossible, and I learned stuff.

First, I had no idea what the circled letters signified.

There were 3 sports I had to Google for: SKEE, ELPASO, ERNIE. Blecch. But I also Googled for NELL, MASHA, ALKANE and SARG. MASHA is a nickname for MAriA which I'm sure some others had. I read all about the other 3 and learned something.

@Seth, David, etc. - I could not find this HM part of the MICROHM, so MICROH sat there. Thanx for lovely explanations.
How do you pronounce it? Like a YOGA thing? mikeROM, myCHROME?

Strangely, I got the JACKASS but not the LAUGHING, though I knew the Kindergarten song:
Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree.
Merry, merry king of the bushes, he.
LAUGH kookaburra, LAUGH kookaburra,
Gay your life must be, Ha Ha.

I didn't like ATTY, CAROM, TONAL, or GMA.

@Echo - Beautiful reduplication place names!

We have many garden statues of Mary ONTHEHALFSHELL in Utica.

@Joe - love Senor Wences. He worked until he was 103 and dead.
We used to put the wig on the hand and paint eyes and mouth - oh the games we had before China started grinding out gorgeous toys. Do you also remember Blabbermouth from early TV? Also do-it-yourself.

Avilaliva means have a long life in Palindromistan. Aviva lives there and drives aToyota. Saras Palin does, too, and the place is named after her royal heinees.

foodie 11:24 PM  

@Artlvr, thank you! Thank you! I love home grown strawberries. When I lived in Los Altos, Ca I grew them and they were wonderful. So many store bought ones look beautiful but taste like nothing. My favorites were ones we tasted in a little town in the south of France. I still remember my brother teaching my children how to smell the fresh strawberries before eating them.

@SethG, I'm in awe of your research abilities, and how you take things to the next level. Impressive.

@Andrea, that
"Cunning Linguist" at the end is genius.

lit.doc 12:04 AM  

@PIX, I think 27D was relying on the tonal/atonal distinction. Tonal music is harmonic, atonal is aharmonic.

sanfranman59 12:36 AM  

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

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

Mon 6:33, 6:55, 0.95, 38%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:31, 8:49, 0.97, 44%, Medium
Wed 10:16, 11:47, 0.87, 19%, Easy
Thu 14:19, 19:14, 0.74, 6%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:01, 3:41, 1.09, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:42, 4:31, 1.04, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:07, 5:47, 0.88, 18%, Easy
Thu 7:00, 9:12, 0.76, 6%, Easy

Anonymous 3:22 PM  

I looked up 3 Sisters and got Maria instead of Masha. Now that is just not right. I did enjoy LENIN as a Red Head, LOL.

chef Sun

Singer 2:52 PM  

FWIW, my Standard Handbook for Electrical Engineers uses the term "microhm".

jpChris 1:14 PM  

Will someone please explain 33A: "CAROM"?, please. I really just don't get it.

Pierre 2:19 PM  

@jpChris, re CAROM, Have a reflection? -- When a billiard ball or a hockey puck caroms off another ball or a wall, it is bounced back at an angle as light is reflected from a mirror.

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