Gyro inventor / THU 7-8-10 / Bygone pitching star Johnny / Tropical avians / Venice premiere 1853 / Employer of Clouseau

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Constructor: John Farmer

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: EVEN (49D: Like each answer in this puzzle — also each word in each clue — in length) — just what it says.

Word of the Day: Johnny SAIN (6D: Bygone pitching star Johnny) —

John Franklin Sain (September 25, 1917 – November 7, 2006) was an American right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball who was best known for teaming with left-hander Warren Spahn on the Boston Braves teams from 1946 to 1951. He was the runner-up for the National League's Most Valuable Player Award in the Braves' pennant-winning season of 1948, after leading the National League in wins, complete games and innings pitched. He later became further well-known as one of the top pitching coaches in the majors. (wikipedia)

. . .
Technical achievement 1, solver's enjoyment 0. (Coincidentally, the score of yesterday's World Cup semifinal—tough luck, Germania). OK, maybe solver's enjoyment wasn't quite 0. Can I get a half point? Puzzle was not a total waste of time, but this theme-which-is-not-one left me shrugging. Knowing the theme does nothing for you. Zero. It's a curiosity. Nothing more. Take the grid on its own merits—It's a themeless. And yet it's too dull to be a proper Fri/Sat themeless. So it just sits here. 62 words (impressive), EVENness everywhere (impressiveish), but a big "so what?" in every other respect. In fact, the puzzle is essentially done once you get EVEN—there's just Nothing left to do but dutifully fill in the adequate grid. Hard to understand the appeal. If the grid were more sparkling, then maybe this exercise in counting by twos would be worth it. But it's not. So it's not.

Theme answers:
    There aren't any ... or, they're all theme answers. You decide.
What's more the puzzle was really, really easy. I wanted ADIDAS right off the bat at 1A and couldn't really believe it was right. But then DEEMED, ERE I, SPUMANTE, it all fell together, and the avalanche was on. Had minor hold-ups in the relatively secluded NE and SW corners, but nothing that a little persistence / erasing couldn't fix. Had URNS at first for 14D: Liquor containers, which means I clearly misread the clue ("liquid," perhaps?). Also had COAL CAR at 8D: Transportation on tracks (CABLE CAR), which was the real culprit up there. And which, also, you'll notice, doesn't fit, so lord knows what I was thinking. Once I got JUGS in there, I was able to get JUAREZ (14A: Sister city of El Paso), which told me which Scrabble 10-pointers I was dealing with (Z TILES), and then all was well. In the SW, I was saved from a weak start by the fact that I knew FLENSE (53A: Remove skin from, as whales). I thought it was spelled differently, but went with the (correct) A-less spelling because it fit. Smart move. Finished the puzzle off with SPERRY (46A: Gyro inventor), whom I simultaneously "knew" and didn't know. He just felt right. But I don't think I know him, as I couldn't tell you his first name and I keep wanting him to be an Admiral. Turns out Elmer Ambrose Sperry invented the gyro(scope). I was imagining the (auto)gyro. Totally different animal.

  • 16A: Bygone Chrysler (IMPERIAL) — my first tropical avians (ANIS) were AUKS, so I wanted this to be something having to do with the K-platform. KCARS ... something.
  • 33A: "Who's Next?" singer/songwriter/satirist (LEHRER) — was sure this would have something to do with The Who, until I noticed the "satirist" part.
  • 12D: Venice premiere of 1853 ("LA TRAVIATA") — Got this with just a couple crosses, and I know next to squat about opera. I did see Terence McNally's "Lisbon TRAVIATA" when I was in college, so the title must have stuck.
  • 30D: Rudy Giuliani turf (BIG APPLE) — this is a good clue, with the slangy "turf" cuing the slangy answer. Not sure the "Rudy" is necessary, though maybe that's adding to the air of informality in the clue wording.
  • 32D: Punk facial decoration (NOSE RING) — NOSE was easy, but for some reason I was thinking TATTOO (?). NOSETATS?
  • 42D: Employer of Clouseau (SÛRETÉ) — detective branch of civil police force. I didn't know this, but I know enough French to know that SÛRETÉ is a word, so ... buttons.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


PurpleGuy 12:24 AM  

The cranky pants from yesterday are off. Agree with Rex about the theme that is not a theme. I really breezed through thins one though. Surprised that it was a Thursday.

Stared off with ADIDAS and the downs of ANIS and DEEMED, and it was off and running from there.

Had keGS for JUGS, Until I realized there wasn't a Mexican town I knew that started with a K.

With this record setting heat, even for AZ, we could all use some GELATI.
@Rex, I'm impressed that you saw "Lisbon Traviata."
Good play. LA TRAVIATA is my all time favorite opera. Would be on my desert isle. Wish you had posted a Maria Callas clip with your writeup.

My only gripe was when "not gay" didn't work for 17A. That word is anathema in my vocabulary.

I did smile at FELLASLEEP crossing FEELWARM and OPENLATE. ;)

Fun solve for me.

Happy Thursday all !!!

colma- what you get when you cross a colon and a comma ! Bob/PurpleGuy

Robin 12:45 AM  

44A Danl...Really? Pleeze

48A Faint and Die didn't fit, but what about Falls Out? I just don't think that "feel warm" conveys the true experience.

Kudos to Rex for knowing Flense (53A), I'll have to look that up. Or not. Sounds pretty gross.

My favorite was 50D Mr. Ed.

Bill from NJ 12:46 AM  

Ah, Johnny Sain. He was the righty to Warren Spahn's lefty on the old Boston Braves before they moved to Milwaukee in the 50s. They were so good that the old saying went "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain." Baseball is full of such colorful things.

syndy 12:55 AM  

Actually the theme reveal did do something for me-made me feel used.Yuck, oh they're even are they! all in black too? gee whiz and how hard did you have to tweak the answers to make them fit? Feelwarm-is that what rex has done this week?testings ? danl? so much crap so little reason!!

Anonymous 1:27 AM  

If "desserts in Rome" is gelati (not dolci?), would "desserts in the US" be ice creams?

Seems like a "frozen" is needed in there.

Otherwise, I liked this puzzle.

chefwen 2:21 AM  

O.K. Wednesday and Thursday were switched again. Theme or lack of was just meh! Zipped through this puppy in record time, only one write over at 56A NESTED over meshed. Thought of ADIDAS immediately but like Rex paused for a minute, thinking "that came too easily", but sometimes you just have to believe in yourself.

Love BONSAI trees, took a course in growing and shaping them, very interesting.

I'm hanging on to my cranky pants until Friday and Saturday are finished, just in case.

retired_chemist 2:39 AM  

Agree it was too easy for a Thursday. I like themeless puzzles. I don't have a problem with this one, but the fill is not stellar. Kinda meh plus.

Enjoyed the Tom Lehrer reference - a favorite of mine when I was in college. Here, from You Tube, is Who's Next. Links to several other Tom Lehrer songs on YouTube are at the end.

Falconer 2:40 AM  

Theme a little odd but still a very enjoyable puzzle w/ lots of interesting words. I would give it a solid 9. Not really a Thursday. Kind of a half-Wednesday/half-Friday. Well, maybe that averages out to Thursday.

Any puzzle w/ the great JOHNNY SAIN in it cannot be all bad. The history books all remind of his greatness as a trivia answer: Last hurler to pitch to Babe Ruth and the first to pitch to Jackie Robinson.

The full text of the Boston Post sports editor's poem was:

First we'll use Spahn
then we'll use Sain
Then an off day
followed by rain
Back will come Spahn
followed by Sain
And followed
we hope
by two days of rain.

Anyway once again the puzzle provides a trip down memory lane and stretches the brain. Maybe a new poem in the making.

andrea cablecarla michaels 2:57 AM  

What @rex said...

Plus, I didn't know till today that I didn't know how to spell MARACA.

Thanks for the explication de la SURETE. I honestly wondered if that was a region of Switzerland or something.

retired_chemist 3:10 AM  

SÛRETÉ <=> SAFETY or SECURITY. I think Rex is joking but I didn't get it.

jae 4:32 AM  

I'm with chefwen on this one (Wed. and Thurs. switched) plus, I too had MESHED at first. I also tried ILTRAVIATA confusing god knows what language.

Bottom line, an easy themeless with not much oomph.

Greene 5:27 AM  

My word of the day was FLENSE. I've never ever heard of this. Just kind of stared when the letters all appeared and then had to google to make sure I wasn't just making up words again. I don't recommend reading about this in too much detail. Yuk.

Add NEWELS to that list of words that I swear I'm going to remember the next time they appear, right after ESME. I didn't know SURETE either and while everything fell into place with crosses, I still can't quite call this puzzle easy. Oh, and like @Andrea I was surprised that MARACA is actually spelled like that. It looks right now, but not when I filled it in. Thought it needed another C or R or something.

I can't think of LA TRAVIATA without thinking of Terrence McNally's bitchfest of a play The Lisbon Traviata. Well, at least the first act is a bitchfest as two gay men comically obsess over a pirated recording of the divine Maria Callas in LA TRAVIATA. The second act unfortunately morphs into a somewhat banal domestic drama not really worthy of what came before.

I mostly remember this play because it was the first time I ever saw Nathan Lane on the stage. I don't think he had really become "Nathan Lane" just yet, but even way back then he had "star comic turn" written all over him and he had us convulsing in hysterics. I never laugh like that in a movie or even in a comedy club. For me, humor that derives from character and situation is the funniest and there is something about live performance that just cannot be equaled in any other medium.

Lane has since gone on to become the star comic of the American theatre and having just seen him yet again in The Addams Family on Broadway this past spring, I was reminded yet again of how finely honed his comedic gifts have become. The musical itself is a stinker, but you'd never know that when Nathan strolls onstage as Gomez, all arching eyebrows, indecipherable cartoon Spanish accent, and slicked back hair: fencing with an animated curtain tassel and flaunting comic timing so impeccable that he merely has to glance painfully at the audience to set us aroar.

Oops, I'm off on another theatrical tangent again. Please excuse me Rex. And now back to the puzzle...

fikink 6:43 AM  

Isn't the theme just the result of mathematics, ratios, the logical result of the placement of the black squares? @Noam, where are you?

This was my fastest Thursday for sure (I don't actually set the clock.) I felt it was more a Tuesday or maybe,Wednesday level. It could have been made a Thursday with more cryptic clueing, imo.

Learned Sûreté and FLENSE today.

Many years ago, we played tennis with a German couple. His name was Bodo. One day, he showed up in an ADIDAS T-shirt. Forevermore, he was called, "Bododidas."

@Rex, "nose tattoo" recalls "The Rose Tattoo."

The Bard 7:30 AM  

Othello > Act V, scene II

OTHELLO: I kiss'd thee ere I kill'd thee: no way but this; Killing myself, to die upon a kiss. [Falls on the bed, and dies]

JayWalker 7:35 AM  

Rexie Baby, I'm with you! Boring. Especially after this week's Monday and Tuesday puzzles. No ooomph. No sex appeal. No nuttin'.

Jo 7:45 AM  

After yesterday grateful for easy puzzle but did feel more like a Tuesday. A lot I didn't know fell in place through crosses. Reading a lot of police thrillers gave me the SURETE pretty quickly. Knew JUAREZ and GELATI which gave JUGS. Why or how is DANL a relative of THOS or WM? Who are these people?

CaseAce 7:52 AM  

Thanks Rex, for taking us on a trip down Manilow Lane...that was indeed, Barry, Barry, good of you!

joho 8:16 AM  

@Rex "so ... buttons" is a better theme than this one. I was going to say the clues and answers were tortured but they were really just flat ... lying there in all their evenness.


Looks like those cranky pants have found their way to my door today.

Van55 8:17 AM  

"Theme" here is pointless self indulgence by the constructor. The rest of the puzzle isn't bad IMO.

DAN'L, THOS., and WM. are common abbreviations of men's first names. JOS. is another.

nanpilla 8:31 AM  

I think MARACA looks funny because we always see it in the plural, Maracas. There, doesn't that look better?

Couldn't believe that was all there was to the theme. Tough to construct, I'm sure, but disappointing to solve.

Would have preferred boat shoe or topsider for Sperry (both are even)

JC66 8:32 AM  

@ Falconer

Per Wikipedia:

The poem was inspired by the performance of Spahn and Sain during the Braves' 1948 pennant drive. The team swept a Labor Day doubleheader, with Spahn throwing a complete 14-inning win in the opener, and Sain pitching a shutout in the second game. Following two off days, it did rain. Spahn won the next day, and Sain won the day after that. Three days later, Spahn won again. Sain won the next day. After one more off day, the two pitchers were brought back, and won another doubleheader. The two pitchers had gone 8–0 in 12 days' time.

What's omitted is the fact that the Braves lost the 1948 World Series (for which the poem was written) to the Indians 4 to 2 with both Spahn & Sain each winning 1 and losing 1.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

If the theme is all answers are even, and all words in answers are even, how do you get:

Big Apple and
Red Grave


redhed 8:44 AM  

The puzzles in terms of difficulty have been really unEVEN all week. Would irritate me more except that the weather is so hot, it seems to kind of fit the week in terms of trying to get things done outdoors. We've brought siesta back to our house lately: work in the yard early am and then indoors for several hours, back outdoors after the shade comes back in the EVENing. Will be interesting to see what tomorrow's puzzle will be like.

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

i wanted CHAS. in place of DANL. which seems a more common abbreviation.

otherwise, ever since i've begun doing these and i learned that each day was harder than the last (mon-sat) and that sunday's puzzle was like a thursday, i marveled at how will (or the constructor) would know a monday from a tuesday, or a wednesday from a thursday, or that long sunday was similar to a thursday. to me, that's the biggest intrigue of the NYT puzzle and i am continually amazed at the consistency.

but today's puzzle definitely felt like an earlier week puzzle while yesterday's felt a little later. can someone quantify why this is? is it the cluing? the answers? the grid layout?

Ruth 8:52 AM  

@Greene, exact same reaction to FLENSE, including the Yuk.
I listened repeatedly to a Mike Nichols/Elaine May comedy album as a kid which included the one where he loses his dime (!) in a pay phone and keeps having to talk to a series of relentlessly unhelpful operators, one of whom is checking the spelling of his name (Kaplan) as "That is K as in Knife, a as in aardvark (etc)" ending with "N, as in Newel post, Kaplan?" So I'll always know newel post.

fikink 8:57 AM  

from A Chorus Line's "Dance, 10...Looks, 3"

Tits and ass!
Where the cupboard once was bare,
Now you knock and someone's there.
You have got 'em, hey.
Top to bottom, hey!

It's a gas!
Just a dash of silicone.
Shake your new MARACAS and your fine!
Tits and ass can change your life,
They sure changed mine!

jesser 9:16 AM  

Any puzzle with son DAN'L's name in it is gonna be a win for me. Poor kid. Every time his name appears as an answer, I save the puzzle and give it to him. He's off to Vegas and LA with his fiance and her family. I am spotting him the cash he needs. I wish I was going along for the fun! (and shame on you @syndy, for calling my son 'crap fill'.)

FLENSE is just gross.

JUAREZ feels like a huge shout out to me and MexGirl. We both live within a stone's throw. I miss being able to amble over there and waste a Saturday night. Sigh.

I plopped in piercINGS at 32D, which slowed down that region, but it was my only writeover once BONSAI set me UNBENT.

And now, my FEEL WARM story of maybe the decade. Close readers will recall my Jeep excusion of a couple weekends ago. It was great fun until the dreaded 'check engine' light lit up. I limped Wild Hair home and made an appointment with my favorite mechanic. Took WH in yesterday. Mechanic Kevin looked around a little and frowned thoughtfully, then said, "Let's try something." He told me to drive over a curb. "Drive over a curb?" Yes. So I did. Then he has me cut off/restart the engine. Damn light went off. He said, "These things have oxygen sensors, and you obviously got some mud on one. You just jarred it off. Always try this before coming to a mechanic." That man could have charged me God Knows What and I would have paid. Instead, he educated me. That there is some IMPERIAL service!

Surreni! (When Reni does you wrong, you sue the bastard) -- jesser

CaseAce 9:21 AM  

As for 53A, my friends, all I can say is "no skin off my (Hump)back!

chefbea 9:26 AM  

I agree..too easy for a thursday.

I thought the theme was going to be Italy..
Desserts in Rome
2 Venice clues

But no theme

ArtLvr 9:34 AM  

@ Greene -- I'm enjoying your theater comments, as always... I thought you might have mentioned "Georgy Girl" star Lynn REDGRAVE's recent death May 2, so sad.


Bob Kerfuffle 9:37 AM  

Looking desperately for something good to say . . . well, at least there were no three letter words.

@Anonymous, 8:34 AM - "Red Grave"?? Didn't he play for Notre Dame in 1918? (Actually, 49 D says "Each answer", not "every word in each answer.")

Dough 9:45 AM  

Well, I'll just have to disagree with many folks here. I thought it was a truly fun puzzle. There were nice Scrabble letters (in addition to the self-ref on the Z) and the EVEN gimmick caused me to raise an eyebrow in appreciation. To @Falconer, thanks for sharing that poem. Very clever! Right up there with Tinker to Evers to Chance. Anyone who knows about flensing, please don't share your experience. Anyone who doesn't know Tom Lehrer, buy or download his records — they are just fabulous and so wonderfully darkly funny (his line, "sliding down the razor blade of life" still haunts me).

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

My father was a Boston Braves fan and his favorite saying was... Spahn and Sain and pray for rain.

CaseAce 10:05 AM  

Our favorite Farmer, eventhough he possesses a one tract mind, tilled and toiled over this themeless effort and despite almost having come-a-cropper, he did, nevertheless, manage to get his goods to market on time!

Smitty 10:12 AM  

The Vatican Rag, Poisoning Pigeons in the Park, the Masochistic Tango, gee it's good to see you Tom Lehrer.

archaeoprof 10:28 AM  

Even if the NW was pretty good, this puzzle was just too dull for comment.

But there IS the World Cup to talk about. 1-0 indeed. That damned octopus was right again. My 8-year-old godson Benedict cried his heart out. Actually in German they say "heulen sich die Seele aus dem Leib", which means (literally) "cry your soul out of your body."

Jeff Chen 10:34 AM  

Hmm, I'm torn on this one. On one hand, it's nice to get a low-word count exercise on a Thursday. On the other hand, FLENSE. Bah! And is FEEL WARM kosher? Does this open the door to FEEL HAPPY, FEEL SLEEPY, etc. (not a reference to the seven dwarves, mind you!)?


misterarthur 10:36 AM  

Summer (even) drinks (odd) ?

What 49D really says 10:36 AM  

To anonymous above:

49D says the number of spaces in each answer are even, not the number of letters in each word in each answer.

I was not impressed with the theme. If all the words in each answer contained an even number of letters, I might have been a little impressed.

David L 10:37 AM  

Generally blah, as most everyone says.

I really don't like TESTINGS. In what circumstances would anyone refer to a lab session as a TESTING? Would you ever talk about having to do lots of TESTINGS? Can anyone can come up with an idiomatic sentence using either the sing or pl form? Nope? Didn't think so?

jiket: What New Zealanders wear to a smart restaurant...

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Didn't know SURETE even though I lived in Belgium for years and was pretty fluent in French, and didn't know RENU because no one in my family uses contacts, so I had a total Natick moment at the U.

Howard B 10:40 AM  

Andrea, I do like how you made your name fit the 'theme' today.

Next time we have a constrained-clue puzzle, how about all clue words are 15 letters long, just for the heck of it? Not suggesting that the grid matches this, as that would be rather impossible.

You can send this idea to the "Island of Misfit Themes", where some USA Today puzzles spend their retirement.

Two Ponies 10:44 AM  

I can't recall a puzzle with this theme before so I say okay. Looking at the clues they are, indeed, all even letters as well. That must have taken some time.
Taken on it's own merit the puzzle didn't sparkle as a whole but did have it's bright spots.
I'm calling Greenpeace right now about that flensing.
If @ Mexgirl shows up she might point out that the Mexican city is Ciudad Juarez.
I thought 46A might be some Greek guy who invented yummy lamb sandwiches. No such luck.
It sounds like our East coast friends would say "feel warm" was an understatement.
The SW is our own little physics corner today with that Sperry guy then both Ergs and Dyne.
@ Greene - Nathan Lane as Gomez??
I was sure you were going to say Uncle Fester!
@ jesser - That is one great mechanic you have. Glad WH is OK.

That's odd 10:47 AM  

@misterarthur said...
Summer (even) drinks (odd) ?

I count 6 letters in D-R-I-N-K-S.

Isn't 6 still an even number?

(see Pluto)

Tinbeni 10:47 AM  

What I did while solving.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

@ misterarthur, You're going to feel silly when you count the letters in *drinks*. Six?

chefbea 11:44 AM  

what am I missing??? drinks has 6 letters!!!

PuzzleNut 12:14 PM  

Agree completely that the "theme" required a lot of skill from the constructor, but did nothing for the solving experience. That said, I was a little surprised at the unusual grid layout and now see that it was more difficult to design it with all even numbered answers than I first imagined.
Two of my early gimmes were JUAREZ and FLEN?E, while LEHRER, SAIN and REDGRAVE were unknown to me. Always interesting to see what trivia is lodged in each others brains.
@chefbea - thanks for the GUERRA/PAZ help yesterday. I would have known PAX from my church Latin, but didn't know PAZ. I assume that is Spanish.

Cathyat40 12:27 PM  

Hand up for missing the U in the SURETE/RENU cross, even though I am a former contact-lens-wearer and took two years of French in college.

Greene 12:28 PM  

@Two Ponies: Nathan Lane as Gomez (as seen on Letterman while the show was still in previews). If only the rest of the show was as good as the opening number.

Masked and Anonymous 12:37 PM  

The puz felt somehow kinda...I dunno...uneven. Maybe it was that U-count bein' = five...

I'll give the puz-makers points for tryin' somethin' odd...well, no...

Well, at least they had an even number of theme answers, if you can count 0 as even... unless you count EVEN as a theme answer, like 44 don't...

I'm kinda dazed and confused and masked and anonymous. Think I'll lie down a spell and work on the LAT puz...

shrub5 1:09 PM  

An impressive construction feat but made no contribution to solving or enjoying the puzzle, so....

Wanted CANOLI before GELATI....because I wanted a canoli.

@Greene: Thanks as always for the theater comments.

Shamik 1:45 PM  

FLENSE? Really?


Too, too easy.

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

Got a kick out of EGOS (38A) crossing Rudy Giuliani (clue for 30D)

Masked and Anonymous 2:01 PM  

Back from my laydown & doin' the LAT puz. Thanx to Dan Naddor, got my theme fix today.

Just kiddin', Farmer, John, etal. Stuff bein' EVEN can be a theme, too. Always gotta look on the bright side a life... at least the stars is in alignment today, cuz 44 ain't no odd character, neither...

Stan 2:36 PM  

I liked the movie subtheme (REDGRAVE, RENFRO, and REVIEWER) but agree that the EVEN theme doesn't add much to the solving experience.

Yes, we sure do FEEL WARM on the East Coast!

miriam b 2:57 PM  

BO RING (even # of letters). I was hoping that the puzzle would distract me for while from the oppressive hear. The humidity makes me FEEL WARM and also sticky. I know it's going to be a hot day when I awake to find Dewey (one of my cats) asleep in my bathroom sink.

miriam b 3:02 PM  

Wish I could edit. I meant of course oppressive HEAT

Sparky 3:10 PM  

Gee whiz. I thought it was a neat puzzle. Fourteen eight letter answers and two 10 letter. No 3 letter as noted. Wasn't that difficult? Anyway, La Traviata just jumped into my heat addled brain. 103, phew. Knew flense from Moby Dick. Had a friend who signed his name Danl. Surete in mystery novels. It all falls into place. I'm leaving for Florida on Saturday. Want to go where it's cooler. I think I'll try the puzzle on the computer there. Enjoy yourselves.

George NYC 3:20 PM  


Pretty subtle use of last night's Colbert Report screen shot!

Rex Parker 3:30 PM  


I remembered the "Even Steph/ven" bit from years ago on "The Daily Show." Complete Coincidence that it was revived for a single last night on Colbert (i.e. I did the write-up before watching Colbert).


George NYC 3:33 PM  

Wow. Amazing memory. Amazing coincidence.

Unknown 4:19 PM  

Can anybody explain DANL? Short for Daniel?

Is DANL going to join OOXTEPLERNON in the pantheon is crappy fill? Perhaps the demigod of absurd abbreviations?

Shockingly xwordinfo says this is DANLs 13th appearance in the NYT since the start of the database. It still reeks of lazy constructing.

Dan Webster 4:33 PM  

@Bretski - What's the problem? I signed my name Danl Webster back in the day, Thomas Jefferson signed his Thos Jefferson, William Bradford (he printed my first dictionary) Wm Bradford. These were the common abbreviations in the 18th century.

sanfranman59 4:37 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 13:17, 19:08, 0.69, 5%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 6:20, 9:09, 0.69, 2%, Easy

By the numbers, a super easy Thursday puzzle. It will have the fastest Thursday median solve time for the Top 100 solvers of the 56 weeks in my database. Right now, it stands as the third fastest Thursday for the All Solvers group.

CaseAce 6:16 PM  

Dan Webster, I'm sorry to inform you, but the credit for the Dictionary you alluded to in your comment goes to NOAH W... No relation, btw!

william e emba 7:29 PM  

SURETE gets mentioned in espionage fiction often enough. For example, in the Bond film For Your Eyes Only there's a computerized drawing kit that Q explains is connected to the databanks of various agencies, which he names.

Old-time computer geeks (like myself) remember SPERRY Rand (although UNIVAC was before my time). That, was, ultimately, how I figured it out.

FLENSE became a permanent part of vocabulary after reading The Question #8 oh so many years ago. The whole Question series was remarkably superior comic books.

The Gerund King 7:53 PM  

To David L:

I seem to remember seeing a gerund discussion in this blog before. A gerund like "testing" is a noun and therefore can be made into a plural. Think of the verb "taste." When you visit one of the wineries in the Finger Lakes close to the home of this forum's blog master, you normally will do a tasting. If you visit more than one winery, you do multiple tastings. [Aside: The stupid spell check here thinks tastings is a misspelling. Bah!]

The web page verifies that testings is indeed a word. An example in a sentence? How about the following.

"Most Finger Lakes wineries allow visitors to conduct a taste testing of a selection of their wines for free or for a nominal fee. The person who is driving the auto from one winery to another should limit the number of winery taste testings he does in a single day."

Martin 8:27 PM  

william e emba,

You can't be an old time computer geek if the Univac was before your time. There were new models through the early '80s.

I programmed a Univac 1108 in '67. It was no match for the CDC 6600 I preferred, but the Univac had the state-of-the-art storage device (the ancestor of today's hard drive). It was a huge magnetic drum called FASTRAND, and held the equivalent of 100 megabytes. It cost $200K and weighed three tons. The spinning drum was so massive that the entire cabinet wanted to oppose the earth's rotation because of gyroscopic effect. They came out with FASTRAND II that used two drums spinning in opposite directions to cancel the gyro forces because everyone's computer centers were slowly getting destroyed.

Two Ponies 8:53 PM  

@ Martin, you never fail us.
After reading your post I am left wondering.
I made a joke about lamb gyros but I was only kidding.
I assumed the real answer was referring to a gyroscope such as one used in aviation.
Your gyro anecdote is very enlightening but I honestly want to know if your Sperry story is what the clue was asking.
Surely the gyroscope long preceded computer usage.
Inquiring minds want know!
Well, I do at least.

Stepping in for Martin 9:17 PM  

@Two Ponies

... founded in 1910 as the Sperry Gyroscope Company by Elmer Ambrose Sperry to manufacture navigation equipment, chiefly his own inventions – the marine gyrostabilizer and the gyrocompass ...

Martin 9:25 PM  

The Sperry connection between gyroscopes and computers was only one of corporate acquisition. The fact that the monster magnetic storage devices that Univac used had a design problem caused by gyroscopic forces was purely coincidental. Sorry for the confusion.

A gyroscope works on the principle that a rapidly spinning mass resists being displaced. That's great for navigational devices but not so good for a computer peripheral that is trying to track the earth's rotation, and not by design.

joecab 10:05 PM  

That's funny: when I saw "Gyro inventor," I read it the first time as "Inventor Gyro," which we all know is GEARLOOSE.

Joe 5:43 PM  

I liked this in a way had a "theme" even though it was a weak one.

Meaning--not so hard to figure out once you got going. No real sticking points, even with "Venice premiere of 1853." You could get it from the fill.

And for "Gyro inventor" I almost put down GREEKS.

wcutler 10:08 PM  

It was really funny reading the comments re: degree of difficulty. I did yesterday's pretty quickly for me, and couldn't finish this one at all. Having "mugs" instead of "jugs" didn't help any. I thought of "suarez" but not "juarez". No problem with "surete", "nosering" or "maraca". Would never ever have got "flense", "sperry", "dyne", "ross" or "renfro". Might have got "danl", but was looking for some better connection beyond just any old guys' name abbreviations.

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