Cosmetics chain whose name comes from Greek for beauty / TUE 10-12-10 / Band with 2008 song Electric Feel / Missouri city informally

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Constructor: José Chardiet

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Calendar — 12 starred clues have answers that begin JAN, FEB, MAR, etc., respectively (In .puz version, "Note" reads: "The answers to the 12 starred clues have something in common. What is it? (Answer in Notepad)" — Notepad reads: "The answers to the 12 starred clues start with abbreviations for the months of the year, in order.")

Word of the Day: SEPHORA (55A: Cosmetics chain whose name comes from the Greek for "beauty") —

Sephora is a chain of cosmetics stores founded in France in 1969 and acquired by Paris-based conglomerate LVMH in 1997. The Sephora chain includes more than 750 stores in 21 countries. It carries over 250 brands of items that include makeup, skin care, fragrance, bath, hair products, hair tools, and other beauty accessories, including Sephora's own private label. // Sephora opened its first US store in New York in 1997. Its North American headquarters are located in San Francisco, with marketing offices in New York City and Montreal. Sephora is a division of the Paris-based Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH). Sephora is known for their sampling program and for their life time return policy. (wikipedia)
• • •

Solved this on paper last night and it seemed like there were many more thorny parts than I'm used to seeing on Tuesdays. First problem came when I didn't know if SABER was SABRE or SABER (24A: Cavalry blade). Then I put in LONER at 7D: Outcast, which gave me a correct "L" and "E" and "R." This meant that I eventually ended up wondering how an [Outcast] was a LOPER and why FOBREZE spelled its name so strangely (confusion lasted only a few seconds, probably, but still...). Then the whole west side seemed tough to me. PSST is not clearly a 20A: Cheater's utterance to me. At all. I can picture the context, but that clue did not tip that answer easily at all. Also, I still don't see how SYNERGY is adjectival (22D: Working well together). "Look at them—they're SYNERGY?" Or is [Working well together] supposed to be a noun phrase? I know SYNERGY only as a noun, and can't imagine that clue as anything but an adjectival phrase, so ... I had issues. Also can't even picture AUGIE Doggie, and I watched a lot of cartoons as a kid. ST. JOE I guessed pretty early on (31D: Missouri city, informally), but it still seems toughish for Tuesday. Then there was the SW, where SEPHORA was utterly unknown to me—needed every cross. Lord help that people that don't know about cosmetic stores *and* think pop music has a JONES Brothers. Lastly, there was the clue on MGMT. (26A: Band with the 2008 song "Electric Feel"). I got it easily (I own the album that song is on), but I can tell you right now that a solid majority of NYT solvers are going to look at that clue / answer pairing and go "??????" Totally valid clue, but not a typically Tuesday clue.

In the end, I enjoyed this puzzle for its unusual grid shape, unusual answers, and ambitious theme. There were unattractive parts — I almost stopped solving indignantly at NAR. (3D: Not wide: Abbr.), one of the ugliest and least probable abbrevs. I've seen in a while — but there was enough zing here to keep me from being too put off by the rough stuff.

Theme answers:
  • 1A: *Reno and 38-Across, for two (JANETS)
  • 15A: *Proecter & Gamble deodorizer (FEBREZE)
  • 16A: *Sweet Italian wine (MARSALA)
  • 17A: *Fitting (APROPOS)
  • 33A: *The second "M" of MGM (MAYER)
  • 34A: *Roundabout, for one (JUNCTION)
  • 43A: *Actress Lewis of "Natural Born Killers" (JULIETTE)
  • 45A: *Hanna-Barbera's ___ Doggie (AUGIE)

  • 55A: *Cosmetics chain whose name comes from the Greek for "beauty" (SEPHORA)
  • 59A: *Nadya Suleman, mother of 14, familiarly (OCTOMOM) — some kind of genius to put this answer right on top of FERTILE (65A: Productive)
  • 64A: *Nays (NO VOTES)
  • 67A: *Remove nails from (DECLAW)
I'm typing this with "Augie Doggie" clip (above) playing in the background (in a window that's hidden), and the audio is really distracting/disturbing. Augie and his dad ("Doggy Daddy!") are acting out some kind of absurd "Freaky Friday" scenario... every voice actor is a complete ham ... ah, there's an exaggerated Irish accent ... I can't even see the video and it's still entertaining. Voices are soooo distinct that it's very easy to tell characters apart and follow the story. Cartoons on the radio! I feel like it's the '30s.

  • 32A: Parental palindrome (DAD) — Not POP. Not MOM. Not R.U.R.
  • 4D: Canadian query closers (EHS) — Weirdly worded clue, but instantly gettable.

  • 14D: Nickname of the dictator who said "I know the Haitian people because I am the Haitian people" (PAPA DOC) — Duvalier. I remember this name vaguely from '80s news—his son "BABY DOC" was overthrown in 1986. And now I am picturing PAPA DOC and BABY DOC having cartoon adventures with one another a la Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy. Just play the "Augie Doggie" clip above, then hide your browser, and imagine the father and son are Haitian dictators. It's fun!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Anonymous 7:16 AM  

After Mr. Happy Pencil popped up I thought about ditching Rexworld, but where else can I be an anonymous smartass? Agree with M for a Tues. WOD should be AUGIE except it’s not a word. The SE corner with ARCED crosssing FERTILE looks like ERECTILE dysfunction....

PS. Thx for the theme. Too lazy to care. Like the start of the Jets game last night RP was delayed....

crosswordnovice 7:24 AM  

loved this puzzle. Didn't get the theme until I got on here though.

Actually didn't find it too hard for a Tuesday...maybe because the clues fit my way of thinking (MGMT, OCTOMOM, SEPHORA....)

foodie 7:40 AM  

I found the experience of solving this very unusual for a Tuesday. Very uncertain early on about almost every response, and then something would eventually gel and a whole area would fall quickly, only to start over again in another quadrant. In retrospect, nothing was intrinsically hard, but a combination of structure and cluing (see for example how 1A is done) seemed to make the experience less smooth. Awesome looking grid, though!

Diana Holquist 8:19 AM  

Finished in a flash w/ nary a psst, but like @crosswordnovice, never got the theme, so didn't particularly like the puzzle.

I thought R. would hate all those 3-letter words.

Pleased that they didn't declaw the Octomom. What a life that lady has made for herself. It's a strange, strange world we live in...

joho 8:23 AM  

I was surprised at the Medium-Challenging rating because this fell fast for me. I think because I read the hints in the Notepad.

I, like @Rex, didn't understand the cluing and answer for SYNERGY. But I loved seeing that word in the grid along with LABRAT, FEBREZE, GYRATED, SEPHORA, OCTOMOM, SHUTOUT, SUNROOF and BANKJOB.

Thank you, Jose Chardiet, for a juicy Tuesday!

And is it just me or does Doggy Daddy sound like Jimmy Durante?

fikink 8:36 AM  

Unfortunately, in my Across Lite puzzle, AHYES was starred which made the theme impossible to figure out. Nonetheless, to my palate, this was one fine corn-fed beef of a puzzle in terms of long fill. As to the plethora of three-letter downs, I did not care for NAR, liked EHS, find TES a cop-out, and loved the clue for MEW.

chefbea 8:56 AM  

Read the note pad and found this extremely easy!!

@nanpilla Hope you are enjoying your crossword mug and bowl. I want those too!!

John V 9:10 AM  

Agree with challending for Tuesday. Didn't get the theme until I wrote down the answers, and then it just popped out. Had Les for 12D, which macd 7A bizzare. You'd think my lousy French would have served me better, Alas.

glimmerglass 9:16 AM  

Lots oh hard stuff here for a Tuesday. AZO, MGMT, PSST (?), SEPHORA, AUGIE, but balanced by some easy fill, too. I also had trouble with the midwest side. There were a few really cute clues (but not "cheater's utterance"). The theme actually saved me from a DNF. Never heard of SEPHORA and didn't recognize the SNL reference (I go to bed early), but got the S from SEP(tember).

PuzzleNut 9:43 AM  

Definitely on the tough side for a Tuesday. Did it diagramless and the odd grid didn't make things easier. The bottom seemed easier than the top, but probably because I had the grid shape by that time.
Took me a while to figure out the theme, which didn't aid the solving. Just now noticed that the months are all in order, which moves my rating up a notch.
After some very easy puzzles the last few weeks, this one was a pleasure.
Other notes - No idea on MGMT, thought it was MeYER at first, wanted FaBREZE, remembered AUGIE (sad to say), good Scrabble count.

dk 9:43 AM  

Outside of shotput for SHUTOUT and then wondering what the heck is MpRMON...

All the across lite comments make me glad I do the dead tree version.

Nice construction. Did not get the theme (but I often do not).

*** (3 Stars)

Odile 9:44 AM  

This was hard for me *because* it was a Tuesday: I saw "Mauna" and "Missouri City," filled in "Loa" and "St. Loo," never thought to revisit those answers, and then got completely stalled in those corners. Didn't see the notepad in AcrossLite, so had no help from the theme. Quite the contrary: by the end was trying to account for the asterisks through a Thursday-style trick in which letter pairs were switched, and...oy.

mmorgan 9:48 AM  

Didn't check out the banner/Notepad until I only had two "months" to go. Duh.

Maybe Rex "couldn't picture" Augie Doggie because he was one of those boilerplate, repetitive, formulaic and very thin examples of the "limited animation" pioneered by Hanna-Barbera.

The concept may have been more interesting than the execution, but it was mostly a smooth solve with some interesting words. I first thought it was FaBREZE, and I never heard of MGMT or SEPHORA but I got them through crosses. And I briefly thought 64A:"Nays" would be a verb.

But I was crushed to finish it and not get Mr. Happy Pencil ... oh, but for a wretched typo!

Tinbeni 9:56 AM  

Damn, solved on paper and still "Mr. Happy Pencil" refuses to give me props!

Got the theme once I was finished and looked back at the grid.
After all the easy puzzles we've had lately I like more of a challenge.

WOD: SEPHORA another learning moment, always a plus.

FUN Tuesday.

@Hazel: There's always next year. Tears.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:09 AM  

Definitely a harder than usual Tuesday for me; hand up for LOSER before LEPER.

It took me awhile to catch on to the theme, but fortunately I did, because otherwise I might never have gotten SEPHORA. The word actually passed through my mind, but for unknown reasons I was convinced that it came from Hebrew rather than Greek.

As a cat lover, I must raise the "Hey, that's not funny" flag on DECLAWED. A barbaric practice.

Two Ponies 10:31 AM  

Yes, pretty chewy for a Tuesday.
Impressive feat of construction.
No clue who MGMT is. They don't dress like managers.
I suppose "nar" might be seen on a shoe box. We have seen EEE often enough so the opposite is valid I guess.
Agree with @ joho about Durante. I always thought the long dog snout was supposed to be a caricature of Jimmy's big nose.
NE was the last to fall because of the loner/leper confusion and my own uncertainty about how to spell apropos. Azo is probably a Xword 101 word I should have remembered.
I don't recognize the constructor. Is this a debut?

Dough 10:33 AM  

I read the note, and immediately walked though and put in 36 letters -- totally free. That's about 17% of the total. Made it very easy, and therefore a good choice for a Tuesday puzzle. I mean really -- free letters! Life is good. Each of the four corners held two theme entries. That's pretty neat. NAR is a perfectly legitimate entry that could be clued as "Close by, in Scottish," a Realtors® group, new lingo meaning "grating, out-of-tune, disharmony," or another Tolkien dwarf, but for a Tuesday I think this is a fine clue.

aaron 10:49 AM  

Reading the note before solving the puzzle feels like cheating to me, but I don't have a problem with anyone else doing it. I also had SHOTPUT (!?) for SHUTOUT.

Two Ponies 10:59 AM  

Wow. I went back to the Electric Feel video. Cool stuff.
However ... I got a banner ad at the bottom of the screen for GOP weirdo Sharron Angle !?! WTF?
Do you think they have their demographics right?
It also gave me a creepy Big Brother moment. Did anyone else see that ad or is only for us Nevadans?

Mel Ott 11:07 AM  

Didn't get the theme until I came here. Now it looks so obvious. Doh.

Two brand names crossed by JON_S and A_O? Not fair, sez I. Guessed right on one.

AUGIE Doggie was part of the Sat. morning soundtrack while I was moving about the house when the kids were small. Don't remember ever looking at the screeen.

Why are EHS Canadian?

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Because Canada is spelled with just three letters.

mitchs 11:21 AM  

I'm with Puzzlenut. This was harder than the usual Tuesday for me - and that's a welcome change. The last few weeks have been weirdly easy. (And I'm not any great shakes as a solver compared to a lot of you.)

mitchs 11:23 AM  

@two ponies: yes, he's a 16 year old kid! More over on Wordplay.

SethG 11:28 AM  

The theme made it easy. And I was gonna say that the cluing trickied it up a bit, but I just looked at the stats and it turns out I was way fast, relatively.

For some reason, I really like the STYX/COBRA/EDDY line.

Mel Ott 12:02 PM  

@Anon 11:14


Re the sometimes tricky cluing. Several times I had to wait for the crosses. Ready to throw down StowS at 6D, but wait a sec, it could also be SALTS. 7D could have been LosER or LonER, turned out to be LEPER. 33D could have been MINIS or MIdIS or even MaxIS. These are all good things in a xword, as long as the crosses are fair.

JaxInL.A. 12:23 PM  

Comparing the Papa and Baby Duvalier scourge of Haiti with Augie Doggie and Doggy Daddy (a staple of my childhood)! Now that's why I love this space.  I had a really good guffaw out of that.  Thanks, Rex!

@hazel, thanks very much for the iPad advice yesterday. Will try it tonight.

Does anyone else have trouble viewing the videos in the posts sometimes? Today I can't see the first and third, which makes me sad to miss the inherent commentary.  It was a bit shocking to see the cheap animation from Hanna Barbera. I didn't notice it as a kid.  

When I opened this puzzle, the notes Rex mentions on the theme popped right up. I kinda wish they hadn't, so I could have tried to solve it without the extra info.  Even with the theme hints, though, I had some challenges in each quadrant.  The funniest was getting stuck with the idea of the Minotaur in the NE for Maze runner.  Got LABR__ and could not stop trying to figure some word related to labyrinth.  Don't know AZO dye, and the French possessive could have been DES, mES or tES so I had to go away and come back to it, when it slapped me in the face. Two lousy letters.

OCTOMOM on top of FERTILE...  Clever, Mr. Chardiet    

JaxInL.A. 12:27 PM  

Oh, @Mel, if you don't have Canadians in your life and didn't watch SCTV years ago, you might not know that some Canadians (and a few far north midwesterners) have a verbal habit of ending a sentence with the syllable "eh?." It's a stereotype with a kernel of truth to it.

Noam D. Elkies 12:28 PM  

To the 59A.OCTOMOM/65A:FERTILE pairing, add 67A:DECLAW/63D:MEW.

In general, yes, an ambitious and mostly successful theme (and even more Scrabbliness than the J-months force), but too early in the week; even knowing the theme it's still at least Wednesday. Possibly also too early in the calendar: shouldn't this kind of theme be saved for New Year's season?


Tinbeni 12:30 PM  

@Mel Ott
Why are EHS Canadian?

Because they are all fans of Fonzie from Happy Days.

hazel 12:35 PM  

@Two Ponies - I had a Southeastern Toyota ad, which I also find creepy - but in a way I can't really articulate. Why should I care, after all, that "the Internet" knows that "I" live in the South?

Did this puzzle after returning home from the last Braves' game of the season - where we all cheered mightily for Brooks Conrad when he came up to pinch-hit, and even more mightily when Bobby Cox came out to tip his cap to us for the last time ever...Thanks for all the memories, #6.

The puzzle. I really really liked the concept for the puzzle, and thought the fill was way above par - but found the SYNERGY lacking in the Notepad tie-in. No mystery in the mystery. If you hit Notepad - TMI!!

I think this puzzle could have used a little more time in the oven - (1) work in a reveal, (2) 86 the Notepad and (3) bob's your uncle, awesome puzzle all around. This was still a very very fine effort by the constructor, beautiful grid too.

GenJoneser 1:02 PM  

I miss you Doggie Daddy. Can't believe it's been almost a year you've been gone, but I remember watching these cartoons with you and calling ourselves by their names. Love, Your Augie Doggie

GenJoneser 1:02 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mel Ott 1:03 PM  


Thanks for the explanation. Having grown up in Queens and LI I heard that verbal tic frequently, so I don't identify it with Canada or the Northern Midwest.

Seldom post more than once but this is three and out.

mac 1:03 PM  

Above average Tuesday puzzle, with an amazingly high number of theme answers. Did it in the newspaper, so didn't get the information about the months, and was wondering wat was up with Janet Reno.

More or less solved and questioned like Rex. It was a good puzzleday! What a debut!

Jim 1:08 PM  

Good, solid puzzle. Agree w challenging, esp. The NW. Mind didn't go to PAPADOC (was proud of myself just for remembering his son, Babydoc Duvalier--love those Haitian names. Even more resonant than your average Frenchman's). Thankfully, the A from SABER was solid so I didn't have to undo, just sat there like a lummox for days. Why STP is an Indy initial is beyond me. I know it's racing gunk, but that's a real stretch. Forgot about MARSALA, didn't know JIM and had StowS, so a lot of fumphering around there. Rest of the puzzle was Tuesday like, I thought.

Mel, EHS (or phonetically, more like 'ay') is a tic employed by many Canadians to indicate a question (usually when it otherwise would seem to be a statement). Used by the French with n'est-ce pas? and employed frequently by ESL types in a question like 'You buy this, no?'. Reminds me of a kid in Bart's remedial class in 'You only move twice' who is in that class because 'People think I'm slow, cause I'm from Canada, eh?'

Van55 1:16 PM  

I had an overnight guest sleeping in my home office last night (and this morning), so I bought the newspaper rather than downloading and printing the acrosslite version. I'm now glad, as the Note Pad clue would have been too much of a give away. As it was, this one solved like a themeless because I never saw the months until I finished the grid.

I thought this was a superb puzzle.

@Bob Kerfuffle: "As a cat lover, I must raise the "Hey, that's not funny" flag on DECLAWED. A barbaric practice." Agreed that declawing is inhumane to cats. That said, a puzzle constructor's use of a word in his puzzle does not represent his endorsement of the practice/individual/category. If it did, this puzzle would have to be condemned for including PAPADOC Duvalier. As I said on Sunday, it's ridiculous to rail at a puzzle as if it were social commentary becuase it includes an answer that denotes or connotes something reprehensible.

archaeoprof 1:29 PM  

I briefly tried to find some kind of J-theme in JANETS, JUNCTION, JACKSON, JON and JULIETTE.

@Hazel: all baseball fans will miss #6. I sure hope the Braves don't try to hire Dusty Baker...

fikink 1:37 PM  

Well, I finally looked at 30Across with my glasses on and discovered that what I was seeing so early this morning was a quotation mark, not a star. Forgive me for ever doubting you, Across Lite editors! D'oh!

@Bob Kerfuffle, I took your comment to be just speaking up for the humane treatment of cats everywhere, not as a narcissistic read on the puzzle. Thank you for giving voice to that sentiment.
Power to your mirror neurons!

shrub5 1:42 PM  

Loved the puzzle! But it is not Jose Chardiet's debut. According to Wordplay, his debut was in July.

Had LOSER before LEPER as did others. Remembered AUGIE from childhood TV but initially spelled it OGGIE.

AHYES reminds me of the song from Gigi with Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold reminiscing about their long ago romance. She corrects every aspect of his recollection and he says "Ah yes, I remember it well."

andrea declawed michaels 1:42 PM  

I think this is easily one of my favorite puzzles of the year so far!!!!!!!!!!
So frustrated that I had no one here to shout that to at midnight last night when I solved it, so I went over to
(gasp!) Wordplay to see who Jose was and if he had published before (bec when I googled I got what I now realize is his dad, a famous glass-works sculptor...)
so here is what I wanted to express last night to you all as I'm too excited to retype.

(Tho I do want to add that I was trying to think of Wyclef jean(...the rapper who tried to run for president of Haiti but was barred) bec he said the same quote and I didn't realize till now he must have been trying to do a present-day take on PapaDoc but change it around.

I learned Jose is the same boy who did the mac puzzle... (July)
I feel like fainting this is so good!!!!!!!! And to see he's 16.
He had me at FEBREZE.
And do I see 3, 4 ...omg FIVE Js?!!!
Not just the twelve themes, and in order and unforced and and and but every entry seemed fresh and lively.... I think it deserves to be slightly later than a Tuesday and I'm already fretting needlessly that not enough people will see or appreciate this!!!! SO many "serious" puzzlers don't often even start solving till Wed....

I didn't know MGMT and thought MARSALA was the Indian mix once again...and hated NAR...
but when I started to write out the starred answers to see what they had in common, I was bowled over in a way I have not been for a long long time!
and yes, OCTOMOM over FERTILE is priceless.

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

I'm suprised the Queen of Mondays, acme, didn't mention that SEPHORA was recently in the news.
Do you know why ...
Answer below.

Nice puzzle. Happy Tuesday.
-- Big Steve

Carlonie Giuliania (Rudy's daughter) sentenced to community service for shoplifting from Sephora. The 21-year-old daughter of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani — was caught swiping $100 worth of beauty products from a Manhattan Sephora

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

I'm surprised the Queen of Mondays, acme, didn't point out that SEPHORA was recently in the news. And celebrity (sorta) news at that (the best kind?!).
Do you know why ... (I'll take current events for $500, Alex)
Answer below. Happy Tuesday. -- Big Steve.

Carlonie Giuliania sentenced to community service for shoplifting from Sephora
the 21-year-old daughter of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani — was caught swiping $100 worth of beauty products from a Manhattan Sephora

Masked and Anonymous on a monthly basis 2:06 PM  

Really like this TuesPuz. Nice work fittin' all twelve of the theme doodads in; could see signs of a struggle now and then, but overall . . . thumbs way up. Don't wanna even think of what kinda puz this kid could lay on us, when his talents get even stronger. Mercy.

Couple of sneakier clues here and there, and we'd a been talkin' about a ThursPuz on a Tuesday. I couldn't spell FEBREZE, SABER, MAYER, APRPOS, SYNERGY, AZO(?) or SEPHORA(??) here without lots of Casper the Friendly Cross Words.

OCTOMOM stacked on FERTILE was definitely a coup. Know it's already been mentioned, but, dang. Jaw is at half-mast.

Keep yer U-count up, kid. You'll go far.

Masked and Anonymous correctingly 2:09 PM  

Shoot. Still can't spell APROPOS. Still looks wrong.

Steve J 2:16 PM  

Today's the day for me to swim against the tide, I guess. I was not fond of this at all. Part of that may be the iPhone/iPad app's fault more than the puzzles, since, as JaxInLA noted, the damned thing displayed the notepad upon loading the puzzle, so any surprise was shot.

Even then, I don't know how much I would have enjoyed this. It strikes me as falling into that category of puzzle where the construction is impressive but the solving experience is not. The sacrifices made to the grid (like the mediocre-to-awful three-letter fill in the corners) outweighed the payoff, at least for me.

The verticals were stronger, and several of the theme answers themselves were good. But the theme itself didn't grab me. Again, that's probably the puzzle app's fault as much as anything. It's like in high school, when my idiot English teacher (who was not an idiot outside this one circumstance) told us what Rosebud was *before* showing us "Citizen Kane."

Clark 2:16 PM  

Accross-lite didn't really give it away, unless you think the very idea that the starred clues have something in common is TMI. What was in the Notepad was clearly labeled as an answer. Do not open until Christmas.

Nice puzzle. That SW corner had me scratching my head. That's when I rolled up my sleeves and looked at the answers to the starred clues in order. SEP... and NOV... got me home.

My two cats have all their claws. I don't even clip them. The trick was getting them some really good scratching posts, and then being around them all day for a few days when they were little to teach them that we never sharpen our claws on the rugs or furniture.

With the puppy its, "No Roxie. We only chew on books with our minds!" It took her just a few days.

Glitch 2:35 PM  

Interesting that my [preferred] dead tree edition only has the "Note", the Across Lite has the Note plus "answer in the notepad", making it optional, yet the site printout (and I gather the iPad) has the reveal right out there above the first clues.

If the latter isn't a mistake, it should be!

Also, don't recall a Hint/Reveal ever having been as blatant as this one --- NYTimes or elsewhere.

As much as I dislike "It should have been a ____day" ratings, this could have been a later in the week puzzle, the NOTE making it Tuesday-ish, and the "reveal", having given away 36 letters, something earlier than a Monday - IMO.


Martin 2:46 PM  

"Posey and Lincecum are a great battery. Their secret: working well together. / Their secret: synergy."

J 3:13 PM  

Congratulations to those who picked up on the Jimmy Durante connection in Augie Doggie.

That was the entire concept of the cartoon--Jimmy, uh, Augie raising his young son.

chefwen 3:19 PM  

I just saw the word Notepad without reading the rest of the message, big mistake looking, as it rendered this puzzle too easy. Mentioned to my husband that I was upset with myself for doing that. His response (insert big sigh) "It's O.K. honey, there will be another one tomorrow."

Only write over was SALTS over saves.

It took me years to convince my penny pinching Dad to never DECLAW another cat, the message finally sank in, thank God.

hazel 3:53 PM  

@Martin - cold. really cold. No soup for you today.

@Archaeoprof - very nice sentiment. I hope we get someone like Dusty.

@Glitch - totally agree on the Notepad "glitches" as well as the peculiarity of the "in your face" reveal.

Anonymous 4:00 PM  

Does Martin's example really solve the problem, though? How is it any different than:

I lost weight. The reason: diet and exercise./The reason: eating well and working out.

David from CA 4:06 PM  

Really hated this one. Couldn't even finish the the SW because of the plethora of crossing proper nouns: SEPHORA and LECTER crossing JONAS crossing JON. Elsewhere FEBREZE crossing AZO, and MGMT ontop of MAYER on top of SIERRA on top of AIG on top of JULIETTE!!!!
Don't see what people saw as special in the grid - 28 three letter answers?!? OK, I haven't checked other puzzles, but isn't that a lot?
Just a thoroughly unpleasant experience for me today.

@Dough: Logical conclusion from your "free letters! Life is good" comment would be that your idea puzzle would be one where they gave you all the answers right off the bat - e.g. a proper-name puzzle where you knew every reference. That right :?)

Masked and Anonymous's last silver bullet 4:42 PM  

@Dough: Constructor friend Erul points out that an even better clue for NAR would be: "Headed up, headed up". I don't get it.

Rex Parker 4:51 PM  

Your constructor friend's a genius.

Rex Parker 4:52 PM  

... assuming he constructs cryptics.

fikink 4:56 PM  

@Anon at 4 o'clock, aren't "eating" and "working" in this sense gerunds and so function as nouns equivalent to the noun "synergy"?

andrea octarla michaels 5:07 PM  

Never made that connection about Jimmy Durante, even tho as a six year old little girl would run around saying "Augie, my son" in his first impression! ;)

I didn't mention it, bec I didn't know which store she had shoplifted from! Too busy wondering what WInona is up to these days! ;)
SEPHORA is a big deal here in SF, but I don't wear makeup...against it for all sorts of political reasons...not the least of which, what with their prices, Ms Giuliani's shoplifting $100 worth of product may have only been one tiny item!

my heart breaks a tiny bit at a time (more a leak, really) when someone says they didn't even notice the theme, esp when this one was so brilliantly done :(
But I guess it will take more than that for me to stop admiring you from afar!

Rube 6:44 PM  

I too had LonER for LEPER at first. Only other writeover was going to be a personal Natick and a guess at the dON/dONAS crossing, but somewhere JONAS Brothers snuck into my memory.

Being a guy, had not heard of SEPHORA, but guessed correctly. (I Tivo SNL and watch it at a civilized hour.)

Good enjoyable Tuesday puzz with an admirable theme.

JenCT 7:00 PM  

Wow, SEPHORA was a gimme for me - I'm like a kid in a candy store there...

I believe the hint referenced that Notepad contained the answer, so I didn't look at it until after I'd finished the puzzle.

Noam D. Elkies 7:25 PM  

One of the commenters on the NYTimes blog notes that ironically the 59A:OCTOMOM was in fact not 65A:FERTILE — which is why she got the treatment that gave rise to multiple births.

I also note that the MOM part of 59A rules out one of the alternative palindromes for 32A:DAD. Two, actually, because one couldn't have this kind of MUM in the puzzle together with -MOM.

(And I left the end of 24A:SABER blank until the crossing words told me which spelling to use.)


Noam D. Elkies 7:29 PM  

...and I, like Bob Kerf, thought that Sephora looked more Hebrew than Greek; turns out that we're both half right according to the Wikipage:

Sephora is a combination of "sephos", which is Greek for "beauty" and the Greek form of Tzipporah (ציפורה), which means "bird" (female) in Hebrew, and was the name of the wife of Moses in the Book of Exodus.


andrea la brat michaels 7:32 PM  

I got the relationship wrong, apparently the artist who shares the constructors name is his uncle...

Sort of a famili-ar subtheme with JONAS brothers, AUGIE, my son, PAPADOC, DAD, OCTOMOM...not to mention yesterday's Bob's your uncle!

And speaking of bobs and uncles:
@Bob Kerfuffle
As for derivation of the word SEPHORA, it probably IS Hebrew, not Greek...long interesting discussion about it to be found "elsewhere".

And I know Jose's a 16 yr old genius, but why do I keep parsing 7A as La Brat?

Anonymous 7:47 PM  

The iPhone app automatically shows you the notepad, so the puzzle theme was never a mystery. The clue that bothered me the most was 15d UFO Sightings / FAKED. Maybe a UFO is faked or a sighting is fabricated, but this just didn't sit well with me. The FERTILE / OCTOMOM is not as close of a cross as it seems because the OCTOMOM used IVF which doesn't usually equate with fertility.

Anonymous 7:51 PM  

i finished sunday's puzzle rather quickly only to be stumped on tuesday!

fergus 8:15 PM  

That pesky west coast simply would not compute, but I refused to enter a DNF. Sooo reluctant to give up QUESTION, for Roundabout, yet I knew it must go. A Tuesday? If my clock were ticking it would probably have run beyond half an hour before I finally swapped the Q for a J. Since when does a Tuesday take way longer than the preceding Saturday?

mmorgan 8:18 PM  

I don't think I ever heard the phrase "Bob's Your Uncle" before yesterday but I simply love it. Despite its near-absurd non-literal idiomatic nature, there's something just so evocative and clarifying (and non-polysemic ;-) about it. It's a semiotic masterpiece, guaranteed to jingle anyone's epistemelogical jangles. (I had assumed it would be midwestern, but I love all the anglo-centric explanations of the etymology on line.)

Now I'm wondering if Noel Coward ever used it.

And to @Mel Ott -- just google "Canadian eh." Then do an Image search on it. And for a real fun time, then do a Video search!

Sfingi 12:27 AM  

As many others, didn't catch on to the theme at all until here. Maybe that's why it took so long. Never heard of SEPHORA, MGMT band (too young), Hubster explained SHUTOUT.
@DK - SHoTpUT makes more sense to me.

I wouldn't characterize MARSALA as just "sweet." Its fortified, like a Port. But it's nice to see the Sicilian city name.

Also, as previously noted, FERTILE near OCTOMOM and MEW crosses DECLAW. Agree DECLAWing is mean.

All UFOs are FAKED.

@Noam - great info.

My son picked up Bob's your uncle in England.

sanfranman59 1:51 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 6:01, 6:56, 0.87, 7%, Easy
Tue 11:25, 8:57, 1.28, 97%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:25, 3:42, 0.92, 19%, Easy
Tue 5:34, 4:37, 1.21, 96%, Challenging

I can't believe that today's puzzle came in with the 3rd and 4th highest median solve times for the two groups of solvers. I have to assume that online solvers didn't check the hint in the notepad which gave away 36 of the squares in the puzzle. My solve time was a little faster than my average Tuesday time. But I was helped greatly by the hint.

fergus 2:19 AM  

How odd -- the hint just befuddled me even more ...

Anonymous 7:19 AM  

Love the puzzle, but 66A Productive and fertile seems an error

Jenny 1:05 PM  

I don’t get 23D... what is a TEC?

Jenny 1:05 PM  

I don’t get 23D... what is a TEC?

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

great fun puzzle; I never saw the months until pointed out to me What is a TEC "detective"?

NotalwaysrightBill 12:47 PM  

Syndicated paper puzzler.

I'm really enjoying the new perspectives that visiting this site lends to my solving experience.

In reading through the comments, I was especially smitten with @ andrea . . .'s effusive enthusiasm about the puzzle's construction and its constructor: her responses helped me understand a little better the degrees that one can choose to go to learn and appreciate the finer points of the xword form.

I also liked Rex's observation about the Augie Doggie/Doggie Daddy and Papa Doc/Baby Doc parallel, although I had a little different take on it, where Haiti itself was in there also, as the interchangeable Papa/Baby.

With that in mind, I offer @ andrea . . . , for her deep identification with xwords as a puzzle medium AND for her encouragement of the new L'Infant Terrible (ah, screw the spelling) of construction, my captcha for this post:


Nullifidian 2:33 AM  

This was a challenging one, though I did solve it within my normal Tuesday time. I don't challenge myself to solve as fast as I can, but even so one can get a feel for how long it takes to solve an easy vs. a hard puzzle.

SEPHORA was the last to fall, and I have no idea where I pulled that one out of. Maybe it was going back to my brief and wasted years as a wannabe Classicist, now a biologist, because I certianly hadn't heard of the chain.

I have one bone to pick with the constructor of this puzzle, and I'm a little surprised nobody else has brought it up. I'm also somewhat surprised that Will Shortz passed it as acceptable. Richard III is not a TRAGEDY, but a history. And when all you have of the word is the terminal Y, figuring out which one the constructor intended is a pain in the ass, because one could more easily classify Coriolanus as a history, being based on the life of Gaius Marcius Coriolanus. Eventually, I solved it from the crosses, but I wasn't pleased.

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