Cosmetician Adrien / MON 11-1-10 / WW II admiral Chester / Nixon's Florida home / War chief Black Horse's tribe

Monday, November 1, 2010

Constructor: Holden Baker

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: various KAINEs — five theme answers end with "KAINE" sound

Word of the Day: PHLOX (24D: Showy flowers) —

Phlox (pronounced /ˈflɒks/ "flocks": Greek φλόξ "flame"; plural "phlox" or "phloxes", Greek φλόγες phlóges) is a genus of 67 species of perennial and annual plants found mostly in North America (one in Siberia) in diverse habitats from alpine tundra to open woodland and prairie. Some flower in spring, others in summer and autumn. (wikipedia)
• • •

Happy November (my birthday month, my favorite month). I think this one might skew slightly harder than the average Monday, if only for phreaky PHLOX and a host of proper nouns, at least one of which was likely to cause any given solver to seek help in the crosses. Was going to say I've never heard of PHLOX, but it was in a (Wednesday) puzzle two years ago, so I must have heard of it. Just didn't stick. This puzzle makes me miss Michael CAINE. COCAINE just seems like a cheap trick (and not the good kind, the kind that sang "Dream Police" — the other kind). So does KEY BISCAYNE, which I needed many crosses to get, not knowing as much Nixon trivia as perhaps I'm supposed to. One major omission, KAINE-wise: Virginia governor Tim KAINE. I realized that eight letters, there's really nowhere to put him, but if you're going to go with ALL the KAINEs, then get 'em all.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Aid for a person with a limp (WALKING CANE)
  • 11D: Nixon's Florida home (KEY BISCAYNE)
  • 36A: Drug from Colombia (COCAINE)
  • 25D: Creating a ruckus (RAISING CAIN)
  • 53A: 1941 Orson Welles classic ("CITIZEN KANE")
I have a lot of respect for a puzzle that gets this close but DOESN'T go for the pangram. Why force a "J" into this grid? Who benefits? (no one). Overall, I think the grid is pretty good. I mean, A CAT, A PIG, A LIE, a bit much, but otherwise, mostly good. Tripped at PHLOX, then COMANCHE (Black Horse?) (36D: War chief Black Horse's tribe), then NIMITZ (Chester?) (42A: W.W. II admiral Chester), then KEY BISCAYNE, but crosses took care of any problems I had pretty quickly, as is typical for a Monday.

  • 31A: Cosmetician Adrien (ARPEL) — I know ... him? ... nope, her ... only from crosswords. Well, maybe I've heard the name, somewhere... strangely, she does not have a wikipedia page, at all.
  • 40A: Long-armed ape, for short (ORANG) — another word I know just from xwords. Oh, and maybe from Poe.

  • 51D: Latin jazz great Puente (TITO) — Here's a little something. Enjoy.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


foodie 12:15 AM  

I liked seeing COCAINE in the middle of the puzzle! It made me chuckle (may be because I study cocaine addiction?). But also, to me, it helped BISCAYNE seem more legit, in that the "CANE" sound, which is otherwise a free standing word, was in both cases part of a larger word.

I was a bit bothered by KANE because is was the only one with a "K". I think if Tim Kaine was in the puzzle, as suggested by Rex, it would have obviated the problem.

I kept trying to shove EMEER(S) in this puzzle, first in lieu of SHEIKS and then in lieu of tribal ELDER... Is a failed malapop worse than a successful one?

Rube 12:24 AM  

My only problems were aidES for PAGES and felON for EXCON, oh, and misspelling Kane with a "C".

My question is, do young'uns still tear centerfolds out and pin them up on their walls? Inquiring minds want to know.

Have some phlox in my garden and would say that it has somewhat less than showy flowers. More like a ground cover.

One more. Go Giants.

PurpleGuy 12:31 AM  

This was a really fun puzzle. Especially because of the shout out with my last name !
I have a shirt that reads ;"Raise Cain." It's from the Robert Cain brewery in Liverpool. I think I should be owed some royalties since that is my name. Even my middle initial is "J."
My mom got a kick out of the puzzle as well. We had PHLOX in our garden in Mineola,NY, so that was a gimme.
I think one of my sisters wore ARPEL perfume at one time, so that name came out of some long lost file in my brain.
This puzzle brought back to mind all the "jokes I heard as a child: my nieces "candy," "nova," and of course my favorite "co," who made it into the puzzle. Then they would give me a note to take to the office and tell me to "hurry" Cain !! SIGH!!!!
I wonder at 17A, is there another kind of cane other than the one to help walking ? Dancing cane ?
Roller Skating cane ?
I can't resist : Bob Cain took a trip to KEY BISCAYNE
where he got caught RAISING CAIN from snorting COCAINE while watching CITIZEN KANE !

Mom is terlling me to stop, so I better.
Great writeup, Rex.
Nice Monday puzzle Mr.Baker.

Happy Monday all !!!!!

Shanti -


PurpleGuy 12:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
PurpleGuy 12:42 AM  

That should be mom "telling" me to stop.
I guess I'm still under the influence of my cousin "co"!!

I thought of my friend @jesser with 35A LOS Alamos, NM. A toast to you with the good BULLITT.

Shanti -


andrea caina michaels 1:23 AM  

wow, purple guy, you go! I guess this is YOUR puzzle!!!

Actually I tried this exact same theme and couldn't make it work bec I had thought I had to make them all free-standing, as foodie mentioned, like CAINE MUTINY, etc. so bravo for Holden Baker for pulling this off and really really really well!
(I raise my hat...and you!)

My guess is once again it was meant for a Tuesday bec it's not really a Monday level for lots of reasons, all of which I'm too tired to list...but if Will says Monday, then who am I to say not?

(@Foodie, no such thing as a "failed malapop", those were just, um, mistakes!) ;)

nhart1954 1:34 AM  

Agree on the puzzle, but please no more Matt Cain! My Rangers can't take it.

Jen Muehlbauer 5:48 AM  

I'm sorry to say I spent a few seconds looking at a mostly-complete 10D and wondering if a "pee phone" was somehow a thing. No cocaine was involved, though that would be a good excuse.

CaseAce 7:14 AM  

Let us not overlook the Italian documentary from the 60's...Mondo Cane!

Matthew G. 7:28 AM  

Thought I was going to set a personal record for a Monday until I slammed into the center with ORANG, ARPEL and PEEPHOLE. I've also never heard anyone say "fat as A PIG" ("eat like a pig," sure, but are pigs really fat?), although I guess can see how someone would use that expression. Like Jen above, I originally scratched my head at "PEE PHOnE," having never heard of ARPEL and thinking perhaps she was ARPEn or even ARdEn (the latter when I was having doubts about A PIG and ORANG).

Anyhow, the center eventually fell once PEEPHOLE jumped out at me, but that center pushed me back to a middling Monday time.

PHLOX is a hard word too, but didn't slow me because all of its crosses were gimmes and I was working with the acrosses anyhow there.

Theme was good, although I thought WALKING CANE was odd. I might refer to a "walking stick," but to me a cane is just a "cane" -- who prefaces it with "walking"?

Diana Holquist 7:54 AM  

Thought it was easy, then came here and found I did not "end on" a positive note. Put in "and on" which gave me Comancha. What? A Native-American w/ a latin beat.


Loved the puzzle. Loved cocaine. (No, not in THAT way, really Officer...) Let's hear from the Columbians: have you been slurred? Surely cocaine could be tagged as from lots of places? Egads-- went to Wiki: 3/4 of the world's cocaine from there?!? Can that be true?

chefbea 8:56 AM  

Easy puzzle - I am still eating my cereal. I don't time myself but I'm sure this is the fastest Monday for me.

One nit to pic...Its Brussel sprouts!!! Not brussels sprouts. Yummm they are so good

mitchs 9:03 AM  

Learned PHLOX and that the Brussels in that hideous vegetable that Mom used to foist upon us was the city.

David L 9:06 AM  

agree with Matthew G that WALKINGCANE is not a familiar phrase.

Is it clever or clumsy to have an ELDER directly on top of RYDER (figuratively speaking, I mean; I don't know who Winona is hanging with these days...)?

@chefbea -- They are indeed Brussels sprouts (from the city, as MitchS says). And yes, I like them too, properly done...

mac 9:14 AM  

Little more bite than the regular Monday fare, I like it!

Odd, haven't seen or heard the word "Comanche" for years. Nice to have the ape so close to Borneo. Had Brussel sprouts last night, delicious with a little nutmeg.

@Rube: the tall phlox is definitely showy in late summer, but it tended to get aphids and some greying disease in my former flower garden, just like the crosswordese asters.

Glitch 9:15 AM  

Pondering other posible types of canes, I could only come up with an exotic dancer from my youth - Candi Cane, (and her co-star with my all time fav name, Chanda Lear).


Centerfolds are so yesterday, today they are downloads from e-zines --- at least that's what I hear ;-)


Anonymous 9:16 AM  

Probably that is a joke that I don't get, but Michael Caine is alive and well and receiving lots of press these days for publishing a new memoir.

The Caine Mutiny hasn't made much noise lately.

fikink 9:23 AM  

Agree with @Rube, PHLOX is plentiful as a groundcover in these parts, too, often in ditches. Not necessarily showy, but certainly bright colors.
Also dig Brussels SPROUTS and CITIZEN KANE. RAGTAG and IRKSOME you can dance to and don't forget sugar CANE.
Nice puzzle, Holden Baker. Have I seen a puzzle from you before?

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

traditional folk song that starts with this refrain:

Hand me down my walking cane
Hand me down my walking cane
Hand me down my walking cane
I’m going to leave on the morning train
My friends they have all forsaken me

Santafe Fran

joho 9:30 AM  

Too bad candy cane is too short. I, like @Matthew G & @Dave L, hear WALKINGstick as a common phrase. I see people with these at times and they're a different shape from a cane.

This was more difficult than usual for a Monday which is a good thing. Five theme anwers was nice work.

Thanks, Holden Baker!

jesser 9:42 AM  

@ Purple Guy: Thanks for the shout-out (and the Bullitt!) but I confess that although I have traveled extensively in NM, I have never been to Los Alamos. Bad jesser!

I remember Van Cleef and ARPEL from old game shows. They were almost always among the prize donors/sponsors.

I finished this one BRISKLY, which is good, because this will be one busy-ass day. And I'm hungover from drinking waaaaaay too much while terrorizing the neighborhood kids on Halloween. Daniel and I spent a couple hours preparing the sidewalk and entry to be freakishly frightening. We even dumped three pounds of dry ice into the waterfall to create devilish fog. My proudest achievement is the kids who would not come get free candy, but instead tugged their parents AWAY from Casa Jess. Perfection!

Happy Monday, friends!

Beric! (What the director told Bogart during filming.) -- jesser

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

When people on this blog refer to a "malapop", do they mean malaprop? I have seen it spelled without the "r" a number of times here.

Stan 10:24 AM  

Hmm, I may have this wrong, but I believe 'malapop' is an Andrea Caina Michaels coinage meaning an incorrect answer that turns out to be correct somewhere else in the puzzle.

And speaking of Andrea, and the remarkable SF Giants, Herb Caen would have been a nice addition here.

Good puzzle Holden! Fresh and brisk, but easy enough for a Monday.

Sparky 10:26 AM  

Did this in ink today. Yea! One write over--had Cam not COG but caught it on the downs. Life experience gives different answers: I am a Snowbird, know KEY BISCAINE; remember Admiral NIMITZ; I think Adrien ARPEL is on QVC; just knew PHLOX. I too am a Sagittarius, Rex, and looking forward to December Birthday. Old enoughto be your Granny. Good start to this week. Let's all have fun.

Tobias Duncan 10:26 AM  

Bad Jesser indeed. Los Alamos is a beautiful little town filled with very odd and brilliant people(most PHDs per capita on the planet).It is also home to a thrift store called "The Black Hole" where you can purchase cold war science lab leftovers, the place is like a museum.
Orang was a gimmie for me as I am a BBC nature show junkie.

Van55 10:29 AM  


24 proper nouns on a Monday.

How in the world did this one get Will's approval? Must be slim pickings in the Monday queue.

Sparky 10:46 AM  

Oops, I guess I don't know Key BISCAYNE/BYRD Can't spell. Sigh.

Two Ponies 10:47 AM  

With the exception of a couple of fun words this seemed insanely easy. My mind was wandering because of "nervous as a cat." It is a shortened phrase that has become part of our language. Depending on where you hail from the longer phrase is something like "Nervous as a long-tailed cat on a porch full of rocking chairs." We all have heard "happy as a clam" but the end of that one is "at high tide."
Comanche reminded me of a great book "Empire of the Summer Moon."
It is the story of Quanah Parker.
Probably not related to Rex.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:51 AM  

When I first looked at this grid, I thought it was the closest to three separate puzzles as we have seen in a long time. Then I noted that two of the answers which poked little holes in the barriers between the mini-puzzles were 10 D, PEEPHOLE, and 11 D, KEY Biscayne. But my mini-theme died there.

@CaseAce - When I was a kid, I thought the movie was Mondo "Cah - nay", which wouldn't have fit the theme. Was I being too pretentious?

efrex 11:33 AM  

Crisp, clean, Monday puzzle, with perhaps a bit too much "been there, done that" on the three-letter fills. Almost put in CLICKS instead of SQUEAK for 20A ("Sound from a mounse"), but otherwise no miscues or near-miscues. I knew PHLOX from my Scrabble days, but never did learn what it meant. I hoist a PABST (never mind the HAUTE stuff)to you, Mr. Baker. My fellow Hebrew speakers might say, "Kayn Yirbu!" ("So may you [and your puzzles] increase!")

mitchs 11:55 AM  

I know that one is prohibited from launching personal attacks at other bloggers on this site - but how, in God's name, can ANYONE like Brussels sprouts???!!!

Rex Parker 11:57 AM  

My wife, who I thought liked all foods, apparently does not like Brussels sprouts. I do not believe I've ever had them. I think they sat on my tray on a SwissAir flight once in 1987. But then again, so did aspic.


Lindsay 12:08 PM  

Entertaining puzzle. I am the least horticultural person in the world, but knew phlox from having read Celia Thaxter's "An Island Garden." Recommended.

A little embarrassed not to know about Black Horse as there's a Jeep COMANCHE parked in my driveway .....

fikink 12:26 PM  

@two ponies, yes, my dad used to say the whole thing all the time - "Nervous as A CAT...rockers." First thing I thought of. Didn't know the happy clams were at high tide tho' - thanks.
@Mitchs, I used to gag on Brussels SPROUTS as a kid. Now I can't get enough of them - but they have to be the fast frozen kind. The ones we attempted to grow were bitter, bitter, bitter - bet it was the soil.
@Purple Guy, speaking of "bitter, bitter," - remember "Betty Botter bought some butter"?

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

If the puzzlemaker didn't include 'tim kaine', shouldn't he also have included john mccain?

i guess this blog is just another tool of that lefty liberal press i keep hearing about.

Doc John 12:43 PM  

Wow, I have lived in two very good places for this puzzle: South Florida (KEY BISCAYNE) and San Diego (NIMITZ)- he's everywhere here.
Finally, he's another PHLOX for you.

Doc John 12:43 PM  

Oh, I guess COCAINE goes with South Florida, too!

chefbea 12:49 PM  

My mistake.. It IS Brussels sprouts.

Love them shredded and sauted with shallots (plural not singular)

Jim 1:24 PM  

Lopped four minutes off; second time timing myself. Down under eight; we'll see what happens next Monday.

Had buNny for a while before changing to PINUP. To answer an earlier query, I would defer to those with teenage boys, but I can't imagine being open and obvious about one's objects of sexual desire in front of one's parents if one doesn't have to -- much better to have it 'on demand' saved in the computer somewhere. I think PINUPs' last refuge are in the mechanic's garage.

Have fallen out of love with Tim Kaine -- he is in a position to counter the tidal wave of Republican distortionary tactics these last two years, and not that he's not an articulate advocate but, he's not omnipresent or vocal enough. Bring back Howard Dean!! Yeeeaaaaarrrrgghhhh!! (Remember when that was the worst thing a candidate could do? Now we have mob bankers and Vietnam-era liars and...Republicans)

Put my hand up as LOVING Brussels sprouts, though I haven't had any in months. Maybe tonight.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:25 PM  

Is it just me? I haven't been able to connect to BEQ's website today. Any suggestions?

Martin 1:31 PM  

I have several brussels sprout recipes that are kickass. Parboil, cut in half and slowly saute with pancetta until caramelized always sells well. A fancier variation uses only separated leaves. You remove them a layer at a time after scoring that layer's base/stem junction. It's a bit of prep, but worth it.

Removing the core (either before boiling, or when halving, or by stripping leaves) is the key to eliminating the funky flavor.

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

Oh, how I love this blog. I don’t usually post, but am curious to know whether anyone has ever attempted to determine the proper balance between proper nouns, fill in the blanks, partials, etc. in a puzzle. I notice that Van55 occasionally notes the number of proper nouns, as do others, but I wonder how today’s count at 24(?) compares to other days.

I can’t imagine that someone has a spreadsheet with this data (ala SanFranman for solving times), but it would be interesting to have a more objective basis upon which to make an assessment; or, a way to identify other aspects of a puzzle that seemingly override the displeasure of proper nouns and other often derided clues/answers in some puzzles. I realize there are both subjective and objective grounds for assessments, but it would be interesting in a data-geek sort of way.

On several occasions I noticed posters critiquing (and sometimes blasting) a puzzle because of the number of partials, proper nouns, etc., which prompted the curious me to count. I compared that puzzle to several others that had a similar amount of the “offending matter”, but had been favorably reviewed. The difference in reviews was funny in a stark kind of way; I was struck by how much a few good clues and answers make a difference to the solving experience, so much so that the same type of answers/clues that were offensive one day, barely got a mentioned.

@BobKerfuffle – I had no problem at BEQ’s site earlier today.

P.S. There are a variety of phlox (phlox is the genus), one of which is common as a ground cover – creeping phlox – and another is the showy bloomer in today’s puzzle – usu. known as garden phlox.

ArtLvr 2:16 PM  

Great puzzle, very zippy with only a hiccup for the PEEkHOLE -- quickly corrected via PABST -- and a moment extra to spell BISCAYNE correctly.

I couldn't face Brussels SPROUTS for years, having found a fat slug inside one as a child. (At least it wasn't only half a slug.) I'm over that horror now, but this veggie still wouldn't rank among my favorite items of HAUTE cuisine...


inedlist - abbreviated compilation of inedibles!!!

Howard B 2:21 PM  

Well, I can't speak for Will, his test solvers, etc. But as far as I know, there is no limit or requirement for proper nouns in a puzzle. Where I agree (at times) is when a puzzle has so many names that the more obscure ones cannot help but cross each other in several places; this is more common in more difficult puzzles, but not this one.

So while I may disagree with Rex, a blog poster, or Will Shortz on the difficulty or quality of a particular puzzle ("This is a Thursday?!? Holy...."), I don't really see anything in this one that would call for, (to quote):
"How in the world did this one get Will's approval?".

There's nothing here that seems to point to a blatantly inconsistent theme, unfair crossing or questionably valid word. Might not be one's cup of tea, and there's definitely traits of puzzles that we all prefer or really don't care for, but this isn't really quite one to snarkily berate the constructor and/or editor for.
No disrespect to anyone, just putting in perspective.

Now, back to our irregularly scheduled discussion, and Brussels sprouts (motto: "They're actually not that bad!").

Bob Kerfuffle 2:41 PM  

@Anonymous, 1:57 PM - Thanks for the encouragement. I tried again to connect with BEQ, and after at least five minutes of "Loading . . ." (in internet terms, an eternity) it finally got through. (I know it was five minutes because I did a Puzz Grid puzzle while waiting!)

archaeoprof 3:05 PM  

Last year on our dig in Jordan, the local bedouin bestowed on me the title of SHEIK(H). I regard it as a high honor.

@Rex: I don't like Brussels sprouts, either.

Masked and Anonymous 3:36 PM  

Brussels sprouts are excellent. Th[yum]bs up.

Didn't even notice the high proper noun count in this MonPuz until I came here; guess that tells me somethin' about how much it bothered me.

@44: Seems like there's some semi-famous people wlth the name "Kain", too. Thanks goodness Caen doesn't get pronounced like it looks. Completeness ... it's a tough road to hoe. [What the heck does that phrase mean, anyhoo?!?]

Constructor friend Erul once did a puz with no people names in it at all; so it can be done, sports fans. As I recall, theme had answers like "Anonymous" and "Sourceunknown". It was a hoot.

Masked and Anonymous brown-nosin' the teacher 3:41 PM  

P.S. If you haven't yet, Git yourself over to BEQ's site and work on 44's guest puz there. Highly recommended. Nice work, @44. Knew you had it in yah.

Ruth 3:58 PM  

@Masked and Anonymous, I always thought the phrase was "tough ROW to hoe" i.e. a row of plants in the garden. With a lot of weeds. Tough to hoe. I could look it up but that would spoil the fun.
@Bob K, from your earlier comment, it IS Mondo CAH-NAY (Italian for "dog world") so not pretentious at all, just--right!

suzzanova 4:01 PM  

Thank you for the response to my earlier “anonymous” post. I agree.

I suppose we each have our own internal barometer for such things. What’s interesting is that solving time is used to measure difficulty (for the most part), but puzzle pleasure, which is not related to difficulty (as measured by time), seems to be correlated to the amount of proper nouns, partials, etc. in relation to the amount of creative clues/answers and application of themes, if this blog can be used as standard. I am curious whether it is solely a “gut” thing or if there is some type of objective fulcrum used to balance between them. I usually find something in a puzzle to appreciate, like today’s, which was enjoyable to me despite the number of proper nouns.

And now, back to the Sprouts of Brussels, who have destroyed many a soul through their emissions of sulfurous gas (but only when over cooked), which caused a gag-I’m-gonna-puke reaction and rendered their enemies bloated and helpless (and friendless). They were the forerunners of our modern day chemical warfare and remain as notorious as the Knights Who Say Ni.

P.S. Like @Masked and Anonymous, I found Rex’s fruit basket puzzle at BEQ’s site highly enjoyable.

sanfranman59 4:19 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)

Mon 6:09, 6:56, 0.89, 11%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:34, 3:42, 0.96, 37%, Easy-Medium

@Masked & Ruth ... the expression is definitely "tough row to hoe", not "road". Isn't elision fun?

J 4:56 PM  

A CAT, A PIG, A LIE....Panama!

The PHLOX irritated my phlegm and probably my phlebitis.

A tough road to ho?
Probably somewhere in the South Bronx.

Masked and Anonymous's last silver bullet 5:00 PM  

Thx @Sanfranman59 & @Ruth--No wonder it never made sense to me.

Completeness . . . a tough row to hoe. Tough dog to keep under the perch, too.

Van55 5:28 PM  

I think it implicit that any post made here expresses the views of it's author and not necessarily of anyone else.

If my earlier comment is deemed to be "snarky" that was not the intent.

As for proper nouns, I have acknowledged and continue to acknowledge that they are an expected and necessary part of the crossword experience. Indeed, they often add a bit of timeliness or cultural/historical sparkle to a puzzle. Generally speaking, however, it seems to me that they tend to proliferate more as the week progresses from "Monday difficulty" to "Saturday difficulty." I suppose this is because proper nouns, as answers, are necessarily "know it or not" answers, while common words are "in the lexicon" and therefore should be known to most people with good vocabularies.

I didn't think today's puzzle's extensive reliance on proper nouns made it "too difficult." In fact, I personally found it on the easy side of medium.

My snarkiness, if such it was, was more directed at what I consider "lazy" construction -- relying on SSN in SoCal, SSW in Washington State and the random Roman numeral in Big Sur -- than on "overuse" of proper nouns.

Sfingi 7:14 PM  

The dreaded SSN - on both puzzles, today.

The various CANE homophones were good.

And Party handouts = FAVORS could apply to elections, such as tomorrow's (as well as birthdays). Don't forget to vote!

NIMITZ is a 12th cousin, or so, through Pilgrim John Howland.

Brussel SPROUTS are OK. I like the way they look on the stalk. My mother won't eat them now that she has Alzheimer's. Hmmm.

We have 2 kinds of PHLOX; the kind that come in the spring, which are a weed, and the autumn kind, which are foyne. There's also flocks.

Where's John?

@J - nice pun!

@Anon927 - was thinking that, too.

Two Ponies 7:36 PM  

Re: proper nouns. I am one of the frequent complainers when they show up in excess. I think my main problem is that they can have so many variations in spelling that no matter what a master of language you are no real rules apply. Too many times it is just a case of "either you know it or you don't." When too many of them cross I feel cheated.

mac 7:48 PM  

@Sfingi: I have used a long stalk of Brussel sprouts (Flemish: Brussel, in Wallonia: Bruxelles) as a Thanksgiving centerpiece. Colorful little candles along it. Very pretty.

Anonymouse 1.57 wrote something I totally agree with: when there are a couple of really outstanding clues/answers, we are ready to forgive the iffy fill. It's all about those great clues/answers.

Clark 7:56 PM  

I am told that there is a common genetic variation in some human beings that makes certain foods, including notably brussels sprouts, taste horribly bitter. This genetic variation is apparently distinct and easy to read off the genetic tea leaves -- or however they do that.

Anonymous 8:15 PM  

@Jim, I love it when you see Republicans RAISING CAIN.... Tom Kaine is a conservative Democrat in a conservative state (VA) and Howard Dean was a socialist from a socialist state (VT). No wonder you prefer Dean. The only Dean I like is the chocolate milk.

PS. I also liked this puzzle...and don't care about Nadicks, bad clues or bad fill. A puzzle is what it is....

mmorgan 8:27 PM  

I do not like Brussels sprouts. (I do not like them in a car, I do not like them in a bar... oh, whatever.)

Don't really care for PBR either.

Was out of town yesterday and today, eating clams (cf. "happy as a") and lobsters in Maine. Better than Brussels sprouts any day.

Just got back and sailed through this pleasant puzzle. My eyebrows were raised by WALKING CANE (huh? what's that about?) but I quickly got the theme. I agree that the absence of Michael CAINE is very sad.

And I guess DUQUESNE would have been too un-Monday-like.

@J: Ha! (The Panama part.)

Tomorrow: Vote well and often!

Nighthawk 9:39 PM  

@J Thanks for putting the exclamation point on the "tough row/road" controversy. You took the words right out of my, well, I hadn't actually spoken them, so, I guess, brain.

Hand up for Brussels sprouts lover, and the pancetta recipe sounds pretty good. Thanks @Martin.

@archeoprof, now that you have been so dubbed, is it SHEIK, as in "rattle and roll" or like fashionista (chic freak)? Or perhaps it's OK either way, like Clama(y)to, clama(h)to?

And speaking of Key BISCAYNE, why don't we ever see this guy's name, in whose house there Nixon often stayed was who was a sort of one man shadow cabinet for him, in a puz? Charles "Bebe" Rebozo

sanfranman59 10:04 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:11, 6:56, 0.89, 11%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:32, 3:42, 0.96, 32%, Easy-Medium

6 outs to go ... GO GIANTS!

Ruth 10:35 PM  

@sanfranman: congrats! They went.

sanfranman59 12:10 AM  

WOOOOO-HOOOOO!! The screams and car horns are still filling the air here in the City by the Bay!

Howard B 9:27 AM  

Read ya loud & clear, Van. Nothing bad intended there.

Some less-than-ideal short fill is usually unavoidable and sort of glues a puzzle together, but can take away from the experience in excess. Sometimes even a less-than-ideal answer can be improved with an outside-the-box, original clue. ('Year of the Pope' Roman numerals and compass directions excepted, of course ;) ).

Waxy in Montreal 1:03 PM  

From syndiland: great to see CITIZEN KANE in the grid a day after watching the flic RKO 281 on HBO about the making of the film and the hostile relationship between Orson Welles & William Randolph Hearst. RKO 281 posits an interesting source for the term ROSEBUD but I can't post it to a family blog like this without raising cain.

NotalwaysrightBill 3:09 PM  

Syndicated paper solver.

Thanks @mac for the explanation for why I see Brussel sprouts and BrusselS sprouts almost interchangeably, although, in me yute, it took a lot of emotional LipoCAINE to eat any. Things change.

And some things don't. I wonder about possible connections between TSA personel conducting too frisky a FRISK at the airport and early exposure (or lack thereof) to PEEPHOLEs and PINUPs. The whole thing's IRKSOME: I'll bet COMANCHEs never had this kind of problem. ORANGs neither. Need some new TITOs (besides Puente and Marshall, although I enjoyed Rex's vid).

captcha: woring:
1. Handwringing concerns competing for priority
2. Heat-resistant ovenware, kinda like Pyrex

Dirigonzo 5:45 PM  

Really, really wanted 2 m's in COMmANCHE but RAGTmG disabused me of that notion. Smooth sailing (oh, how I wish - it's snowing as I write) through the rest of it.

It was election eve when the puzzle first appeared and obviously the elections are now long over - I can't wait to come back here later in the week to see if the results have infiltrated the comments.

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