Creepy 1981 Lauren Bacall film / TUE 1-25-11 / Jazz saxophonist Coltrane / 60 Minutes correspondent Logan / MGM mogul Marcus

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Constructor: Randall J. Hartman

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: City palindromes — four 15-letter palindromic nonsense phrases (actually, three complete sentences, one phrase) that start with city names

Word of the Day: RAVI Coltrane (11D: Jazz saxophonist Coltrane) —

Ravi Coltrane (b. August 6, 1965 in Long Island, New York) is an American post-bop jazz saxophonist. Co-owner of the record label RKM Music, he has produced artists such as pianist Luis Perdomo, guitarist David Gilmore and trumpeter Ralph Alessi. // Ravi Coltrane is the son of the legendary tenor saxophonist John Coltrane and jazz pianist Alice Coltrane. He is also cousin to experimental music producer Steven Ellison aka Flying Lotus. He was raised in Los Angeles, California, and was named after sitar player Ravi Shankar. (wikipedia)
• • •

Good morning. Tuesdays and Thursdays are going to be tight from now through May, as the reality of my existence has come crashing back upon me, i.e. the new semester has started. Today, in fact. In under three hours, in fact. Somehow I ended up teaching at 8:30am this term. What the ...? I'm a morning person, but by "morning person" I mean someone who gets up early and putters around the house A Lot and is normally still in pajamas and watching DVR'd late-night TV at 8:30am and doesn't really get cracking until 10 or so. Those days are gone. Or at least they're gone Tuesdays and Thursdays. Anyway, I'll have to get to sleep pretty early and squeeze in a puzzle write-up first thing in the morning on those days. Just so you know.

I enjoyed today's puzzle. Felt very easy, but I ended up with a pretty normal time because my brain can process palindromes only so quickly (which is to say, "Slowly"). So I'd type the front end fast and then peck ... at ... the ... keyboard to get the rest. WARSAW NUN WAS RAW was the hardest because I had WARSAW and its mirror in place but no hint to the middle but "sister" and what the hell is "THE FAN?" I thought that was a Wesley Snipes movie? Robert DeNiro? Anyone? I missed the 1981 "THE FAN" (6D: Creepy 1981 Lauren Bacall film). Had "THE FA-" written in and didn't dare fill in that last letter on a guess. Thankfully, UMIAK was familiar to me (29D: Eskimo boat), and so NUN leapt forth. Everything else very easy, except RAVI, whom I can't remember ever seeing before. His parents and his namesake are, of course, very famous.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Spanish moray still exists (SEVILLE EEL LIVES)
  • 26A: Polish sister showed her inexperience (WARSAW NUN WAS RAW)
  • 43A: Silver State boogie band autopsy expert (RENO ROCK CORONER) — that clue makes no sense, and since this one's a phrase and not a sentence, it is By Far the weakest of the bunch. Further, "boogie band?" What year is it?
  • 56A: Red Sox fans mourned tearlessly (BOSTON DID NOT SOB)
  • 16A: "60 Minutes" correspondent Logan (LARA) — she's part of a rising crossword class. Get to know her.
  • 36A: W.W. II pinup features (GAMS) — one of the all-time great slang words.
  • 41A: "Pet" that's a plant (CHIA) — apparently CHIA is not just a brand name but a real plant. My mom says she eats CHIA seeds on her oatmeal every morning. They're supposed to be high in Omega-3s.
  • 5D: Teen loiterer (MALLRAT) — I haven't heard this term since Kevin Smith's mid-90s movie "MALLRATS" starring Shannen Doherty, but I still got it quickly.
  • 37A: Fleet members (SHIPS) — I initially had SNIT for 24D: Sassy sort (SNIP), so my first answer here was ... puzzling.
  • 49D: Sacred bird of Egypt (IBIS) — "Sacred bird" or "bird" + "Egypt" in four letters is IBIS as sure as virtually any rapper in four letters on a Tuesday is ICE-T (2D: "Rhyme Pays" rapper).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Matthew G. 6:41 AM  

It was hard to form a strong feeling on this one. On the plus side, palindromes are inherently cool, and furthermore, it was startling and fun to get smacked upside the head with four theme clues that looked like cryptic-crossword clues but were, in fact, just literal word-by-word definitions of the palindromic answers. On the minus side, most of the phrases felt nonsensical, with only BOSTON DID NOT SOB cutting a nice sound through the air.

But overall, the more I think about it, I give this one a pretty solid thumbs up. Palindromes are usually awkward sounding, and coming up with even one phrase as good as BOSTON DID NOT SOB is impressive (and WARSAW NUN WAS RAW was decent, too, if a little indecent sounding). And it all felt different enough from what I expect on a Tuesday that the solve was pretty fun.

Thanks heavens UMIAK entered my crosswordese vocabulary pretty recently, or I'd have taken much, much longer to get through the center of this grid. As it was, pretty average Tuesday time.

Octavian 7:08 AM  

What a blast for a Tuesday -- you are just kind of puttering along, thinking WTH it's just a Tuesday, but something's odd ... what's weird about these words ... it kind of looks like ... it is ... a palindrome!

Actually I didn't get it til I was all the way down the puzzle at Boston and then it's like, wow! So cool.

Liked the RAVI clue. Did not know John Coltrane had a son, much less that he was also a sax player. Giant steps to follow.

MikeM 7:55 AM  

Originally had KAYAK instead of UMIAK thinking, cool a palindrome bisecting in the middle. But then I saw "sister" was NUN and had to give up the K. But it was a nice thought. I liked the puzzle a lot, the palindromes are clever even if nonsensical. It became somewhat easy once I realized the theme and it unfolded like an old map

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

Jay-Z is another four-letter rapper to know, though his scrabbly name is probably a limiting factor.

And don't forget Pras (of the Fugees) and, for certain puzzles, 2Pac.

joho 8:35 AM  

Wow, 4 palindromic 15's ... that's quite a theme! RENOROCKCORNONER was the weakest of the 4 but still, wow! Actually, that's an interesting phrase, it just doesn't fit with the sentences as @Rex already stated. But, again, I have to say, the palindromes are fantastic.

Thank you, Randall J. Hartman, for a Tuesday to talk about!

John V 8:49 AM  

Like Rex, got "The Fan" on a guess, but had 21A as "Left" (think Left Bank, whatever), just could not see Loft. Must have been the snow outside the train window. Yeah, that's it!

I love palindromes, so this was fun. Thought "Seville eel lives" was the most clever, as the "middle" palindrome, as it were, is the single letter E.

mmorgan 8:49 AM  

Just back from 8 glorious days in the magical island of Jamaica to find 11 feet of snow and minus 30 degree temps (or thereabouts).

But I really really liked this puzzle! The fog lifted when I saw the BOSTON palindrome and then the rest filled itself very quickly. Very enjoyable solving experience!

efrex 8:51 AM  

Mixed feelings, mainly because I couldn't finish the NW (Didn't see LOFT or ICET). Tuesdays are often hit-or-miss with me, and this was a serious slog. Didn't help that I had BARAK before RABIN. Very much liked a number of clues (GAMS, in particular), but the double-crosswordese cross of ARA/ASTA is clumsy at best. I would have accepted "'Both Sides Now' for one" as a clue for SONG if it were the last clue in the grid, and therefore a hint to the theme, but it's just a poor clue where it stands in the grid, IMHO.

On the other paw: four 15-letter palindromes are impressive enough. Forcing them to have a geographical theme takes them to another level entirely. Very creative on that level.

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

What @mmorgan said in her 2nd paragraph....

@Rex, thx for the headds-up. Maybe you should have some subs for those days sometimes....

mmorgan 9:02 AM  

@Anon 8:58: "his" (no big deal)

JaxInL.A. 9:18 AM  

Thanks for the info on your schedule, Rex. I did the puzzle and wrote a comment all last night (I often solve at night and read/post in AM), so came here and kept checking back, then got mildly worried when there was no word from you by midnight Pacific time. Good luck with the challenge of early classes. I like to get up but stay around home, too. I have an early morning meeting with folks at USC today, which why I tried to get this done last night.

Had much fun with this one. I'm very sorry that both Will Shortz and the constructor missed the chance for a little La Brea Tar Pits sub-theme.  We had 59 down (TAR), but there in the same part of the puzzle you have REEK (what 59 down does) and OOZE (how 59 down might move) and FATAL (what 59 down proved to the wooly mammoth).  Or something like that.  Maybe I'm just a big fan of the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.  By the way, any teacher who shares my passion should email me because the museum is offering stipends to L.A. teachers to help develop lesson plans.

I started this puzzle with CAVE and ICE T, from there dropped in the whole NW, and saw the palindrome right away.  Flew through the puzzle after that, putting in the cities forward and backward, then looking for the few linking letters between, then working the fill.  I did try Nevada before RENO to see if it worked backwards, then saw that they were all cities.  Excellent Tuesday, and right up my alley.

Thanks, Mr. Hart man, and thanks, Rex for hanging in there with us.

Fleet Enema, Inc 9:24 AM  

@Rex - The 1895 version of the OED has 17: result or expected outcome as a definition of member, which makes your initial error for 37A not so much an error as an anachronistic amusement.

jackj 9:26 AM  

Dynamite puzzle from Randall Hartman!

In addition to the clever palindromes, you've got to like the elegant humor of "Firefighting aid" cluing, WATER.

chefbea 9:32 AM  

Great puzzle. Got the theme at 43Across. Had no idea what it meant. Then realized it was a palindrome.

I make biscotti but not with anise. I like savory ones much better. yummm!!!

jesser 9:38 AM  

I solved this one down the west coast, filling in the city names and looking back at the clues cluelessly. Then the middle started to go in, and then the bottom quadrant, so I got the palindrome first with BOSTON DID NOT SOB. That allowed me to fill in the other backward cities, and the whole thing fell together. Never heard of RAVI. Didn't need to have, thankfully.

No crap fill and four palindromes = Epic Fun from this chair in the room.

Like Rex, I'm in full-throttle mode today beginning at 8:30 a.m., so that's all folks!

Mothale! (no wonder they keep bumping into the street light. They're drunk!) -- jesser

foodie 9:40 AM  

This puzzle made me smile for an odd reason-- I owe a huge debt of gratitude to a WARSAW NUN! She was my high school science teacher who encouraged my love of math and science. She was also a great musician. Nothing RAW about her.

BOSTON DID NOT SOB is awesome!

Rex, I feel your pain re these early morning classes. The worst of it is that the students are more annoyed than the prof given their lifestyle, and you have to put out extra effort so they don't go back to sleep. But my money's on you to keep them awake!

JaxInL.A. 10:07 AM  

BTW, I still have an afterglow from that GREAT Merle Reagle puzzle on Sunday.  If you have not tried it, you really should.  It comes up on my Across Light subscription as Philadelphia Inquirer/Houston Chronicle, in case anyone was confused.  The Wash Post and those two papers all publish puzzles from the CrosSynergy consortium of constructors.  Took me a while to figure that out.  

r.alphbunker 10:17 AM  

WARSAW NUN WAS RAW brought to mind a sentence from Tom Robbins' "Another Roadside Attraction": "Have you ever tried to undress a nun when you are in a hurry?" And BOSTON DID NOT SOB evoked the 2004 World Series.

And have you ever tried to think of a 15 letter palindrome that starts with a geographical location when you are in a hurry? I came up with ENID RA'S SARDINE (Clued as Oklahoma graduate student's disappointing field trip to the North Sea) but that is only 14 letters.

John V 10:29 AM  

@r.alphbunker, course for a Sunday 21 grid we have the old chestnut:
A man, a plan, a canal, panama. (Sorry)

r.alphbunker 10:31 AM  

Just thought of ENID RA'S A SARDINE clued as "Small fish gets get financial support at Northern Oklahoma College"

balto 10:37 AM  

How to screw up a xword -- put in JOHN instead of RAVI -- then proceed.

I remember there was an 8am class called Signals, required for EEs -- it was the hardest class in general, just made more insane by the time. I feel for ya Rex.

Sparky 10:45 AM  

Caught on to palindrome at SEVIL (from the downs) and SEVI on the other side, but then had some trouble filling in. Had kayAK, then ?NIAK. Need new glasses; read money for moray and fearlessly for tearlessly. Old age is galloping up. Finally managed all but the U which kept the Polish sister in the dark. Enjoyed the palindrome though and did work side to side in some spots.

Like Rex and @JaxinL.A. I like to rise early, 7ish, drink my coffee and noodle around, which leads me to speedsolving. Timed myself yesterday, 13 min. and today 21 min. Clearly I am pokey and I don't mind. The timing puts pressure on me and that's not why I do the puzzle in the first place. So that's the end of it, no more timing for me.

If I make it to ACPT I won't register to compete but I'll cheer you speedy folk on. Have a good day.

retired_chemist 10:49 AM  

Got the palindrome @ BOSTON.... and then went back to fill in the mirror image letters in the first three, which should have made it an easy Tuesday. Not.

JOHN Coltrane was a fixture. Started with NINE as the American Idol rating, and was lost when 7D had to be VIET. Did. Not. Know. THE FAN, so wanted STEFAN for the creepy film. So the NE was my semifinal frontier and the N was my final frontier.

Others written over: SIDEbar (34A), SOME @ 39A. But of course OCALA, the crossword capital of Florida, stayed. A 5 letter FL city is almost never TAMPA, MIAMI, DORAL, yada yada yada....

Liked a lot of the fill (GAMS, WATER, CHIA e.g.), had fun with the theme, and enjoyed the solve. Thanks, Mr. Hartman.

PuzzleNut 10:53 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Everything that Rex said. No shit fill, other than the answer Rex pointed out. Changed the SNIt to SNIP and even that was gone.
Hardly ever comment on the M-W puzzles as they generally are pretty meh, but this one showed how great an easy puzzle can be.

Doug 11:03 AM  

Very cool palindromes. If you eat a Chia Pet, is that still considered being vegetarian? Maybe eating one allows you to stay true to your values, while still satisfying the red meat gene?

You're lecturing right now -- Hope the notifying email doesn't beep on your iXXX by the lectern!

Two Ponies 11:18 AM  

I liked the palindromes and caught on early so this fell on the easy side. Boston was the best by far.
I did overthink in a couple of spots such as water and song.
Both Sides Now? OK. Just pick any song I guess.

SethG 11:37 AM  

EKE and ALA are symmetric, ARA is unpaired. I'm wondering how long ago SNIP was last used to indicate a sassy sort.

Oldactor 11:53 AM  

The only "F" I ever received was in an 8AM American Lit. class at UT Austin. Drama majors work late.

mac 12:04 PM  

Easy but cute. Got the palindrome theme early, so could start filling in as I went along. I too like "water" at 32D, and the Iliad and Ares duo.

The deer and does have disappeared into the woods, maybe because of our little visitor this morning, Mr. Fox. More snow. And more to come...

Masked and Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Loved that one of the palindromes did its U-turn on a U. Theme idea has some dejavuosity, but comin' up with 4 15-letter urban palindromes has gotta impress the snark right outta just about anybody. Friend Erul flat out loved this one.

Engine light came on briefly for ALIVE, since had just encountered "...LIVES" moments before. But then I moved on. And light went off.

Thumbs up. Fun solve, to boot... seemed to put up some fight, especially pre-aha/har moment.

@44: 8:30!?! Dang. Will you have to wake up in the dark, or somethin'? Sounds unnatural. Could make for a tough ThursPuz solve. Real Sorry. I'm stickin' with 9:30.

Shamik 12:16 PM  

Found this one to be a challenging Tuesday at 6:22 with a whole lot of skipping around and a lot of time to get the theme. Felt more like a Wednesday or easy Thursday. Definitely not a meh, quite enjoyable.

syndy 12:25 PM  

Way to go, Randall J. Please keep them coming!Boston did no sob ! you're dern tootin' Boston just lay in wait

Mel Ott 12:31 PM  

Fun Puzzle. After getting the first theme answer I thought the theme must have something to do with the odd doubling and tripling of letters in the middle: LLEEELL. Did not see the palindromes until I had WARSAW---WASRAW.

@Rex: many years ago a SATURDAY 8 AM 3-hour chem lab dissuaded me from becoming a chemical engineer. Spilled a lot of samples on the lab table that year. Hangover city.

Jayke 12:36 PM  

Thought more people would make the KAYAK for UMIAK mistake. I walked right into that and it caused my only real trouble point with this puzzle.

Masked and Anonymous P.S. 12:39 PM  

P.S. question for @44:
WTF do you teach to people at that ungodly hour? Theories abound...
1. Profiles in Torture?
2. History of the Goddess of the Dawn (3 letters, ends with "S")?
3. Combating Insomnia?
4. Sleep Deprivation Anecdotes?
5. Doing Watercolors with Sunrises In Them?
6. Invention of the Snooze Alarm?
7. Learning to Wear the Bathrobe in Public?

Rube 12:45 PM  

I thought the Seville and Boston palindromes were good, the others not so much.

Got hung up last night on UnIAK after trying kayAK. Fell asleep and finished when MINIbar cleared up the middle. Didn't like the clue for SNIP.

Besides UMIAK, the olny other writeover was LOEW/LOEb. It just sounded right at first.

Can't get excited about palindromes. An OK puzzle.

Two Ponies 1:11 PM  

You night owls are cracking me up.
I'm up every day of the week at 4:30, out the door with the dogs at 5:10, backing out of the driveway at 6:30.
I would be the chipper girl in the front row of Rex's class.

PlantieBea 1:23 PM  

What a great Tuesday puzzle: four city-themed, 15 letter palindromes and a lack of ugly fill! I found this one on the challenging side for Tuesday since I didn't see the palindrome until BOSTON and fell into a few traps like John for RAVI. Thank you Randall J. Hartman!

Masked and Anonymous's Last Silver Bullet 1:27 PM  

...8. Solving the NYT Crossword with One Eye, Partway Open

Gotta be it. Sign me up. Will commute from out west with the gal with many ponies.

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

Was it a coincidence that Chia seeds made the Science Section of today’s NYT? See it at

Great puzzle by the way.

Kendall 2:43 PM  

This wasn't hard, except that I had nine write-overs today. A record for me on a Tuesday. That made this puzzle take me significantly longer than average for a Tuesday. For AWAKE I initially had ALERT, RAVI was JOHN (can't imagine I'm the only one who made that mistake), UMIAK was CANOE because I didn't realize there was a special name for them, the list goes on...

I really liked the theme even if I didn't pick up on it until I finished two of the theme answers. The first one is ugly looking IMO, but not a deal breaker for me.

Anonymous 3:37 PM  

Anyone who can fit four 15 letter palindromes into a 15x15 puzzle deserves a commendation no matter how senseless the resulting palindromes are.
They are certainly in the same category of inanity as the classical "IF I HAD A HI FI" or "A MAN, A PLAN, A CANAL PANAMA" palindromes.
Got the theme early on, but the NUN part of WARSAW NUN WAS RAW stumped me. And having UMIAK and CHIA intersecting did not help.
Other than that the puzzle was straightforward and a lot of fun. But it took me more than 25 minutes which is more than the time it typically takes me for a Tuesday puzzle.

sanfranman59 3:41 PM  

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

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

Tue 11:29, 8:58, 1.28, 98%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:39, 4:36, 1.23, 98%, Challenging

We go from one of the easiest Monday puzzles to one of the hardest Tuesday puzzles. As of now, these solve times rank as the third highest Tuesday for both groups of solvers (of 84 in my spreadsheet). I'm a little surprised by this given that once you figure out the theme answers are palindromes, you really only need to come up with half of the letters in each. My own solve time places it in the Medium-Challenging category, so I guess I'll give myself an 'Atta boy' and look forward to Wednesday.

syndy 5:27 PM  

not to whine but I spent the fall getting up a 3:30 to start work at 6:00a.m. just saying

Stephen 5:44 PM  

I had SEVILLEEELLIVES and BOSTONDIDNOTSOB and was still clueless about the theme. Just thought those long 15s were really strained for some reason.
I also had WASRAW and CORONER but was totally blank in the west.
Then the bubble burst. Wow! That suddenly gave me all the rest of those other two 15s. I can't remember a previous aha moment that was as profitable as this one.

Stephen 5:53 PM  

My last gasp in the west had one missing letter: WA_ER crossing _AMS. An alphabet run gave me D,F,G,K,N,T,V, and X as options for the down word, but none of them made any sense with _AMS. I finally googled GAMS to see if it was a word (it seemed vaguely like the likeliest) but that revealed 3 eeky geeky techno-acronyms that were far less than encouraging. Ended up just guessing.

Shouldda watched more gangster movies. Or been older.

Victor in Rochester 6:31 PM  

Freshman winter term at Dartmouth (in Hanover, NH in the Connecticut River Valley) in the early '60's we had required gym class. This non-jock signed up for swim for gym and was assigned 8 AM. There was no appeal, and some mornings were -30 F. Gym ended at 8:50, next class was 9 AM. The rush out and the subsequent total body wet hair freeze remains a vivid memory. Binghamton never gets quite that cold. There was no problem with sleepiness, however.

mac 7:23 PM  

@Victor in Rochester: who was the editor of the Dartmouth during your time?

michael 7:54 PM  

@Victor in Rochester -- I was obliged to take a winter swimming class at Cornell in the mid-1960s (though I've forgotten the time of day). Didn't like it any better than you. Was this some sort of rural location Ivy League college custom?

I was slow on this one for a Tuesday because it took me too long to figure out that the theme was palindromic. Didn't help that I thought the boat was a "uniak."

Sfingi 8:30 PM  

To me this was not Tues. DNF HTG 6x.
@Puzzlenut liked it because it wasn't a M-W puzzle. Trouble is, I needed an easy one today. I took a friend to the airport and she was stuck on the runway for 2 hours while they decided not to go to snowbound Newark. She missed her flight to Peru. The parking lot in Syracuse wasn't plowed.

Partly it was sports and partly age.
Like @Stephen - I did not detect the palindromity/palindromishness of the puzzle, so none of the phrases made sense, and I only got the same 2.

I learned Peyton Manning before, but ELI? I knew John well, but RAVI Coltrane?

When I Googled for 600 home runs I got 3 names of 4 letters: Ruth, Mays, and (the questionable) SOSA.

Same sort of problem with Iliad gods: Zeus? or are goddesses now gods: Hera, Leto?
Did not know SNIP as a noun. (Age thing?)

@Stephen - age-specific knowledge works both ways - GAMS is definitely WWII. From gamba, I guess. As in viola da gamba.

OSWOB - "One sees what one brings."
Each time we hope to bring more.

@Victor - Dartmouth sure is cold in Winter! I took my swimming at Skidmore - late '60s, in the one size fits all knot swimming suits. We had -21 yesterday in Utica. (A number you count on all digits.)Saranac Lake was worse.

@Anon142 - it's never a coincidence. There's a broad crossword conspiracy going on in this country.

andrea chia michaels 11:39 PM  

In reading your thing about "Both Sides Now" makes me think that maybe it's clued that way as a nod to both sides of a Palindrome??!

It seemed so random to pick any song.
Then again, I didn't notice that they were all cities!!!!!!!!

Was really thrown that RENO was Silver State, not Silver City.

The SICEM answer was a bizarre way to start out and it made me think of Michael Vick.

I had a malapop with SNAP...
I so didn't get SNIP that I ran threw the vowels and narrowed it down to a MaNIBAR and MoNIBAR.

Also 27D had to go from Alert to AWArE and finally AWAKE. I guess none of which I was.

Do you think ALA, ARA, SEES, EKE were intentional?

I also like DOE a DEER a female deer...

sanfranman59 1:20 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 6:03, 6:55, 0.87, 7%, Easy
Tue 11:40, 8:58, 1.30, 99%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:15, 3:41, 0.88, 4%, Easy
Tue 5:35, 4:36, 1.22, 96%, Challenging

Victor in Rochester 7:34 AM  

@mac: I don't remember. Began fall '59, graduated '63.

mac 7:41 AM  

@Victor: a little earlier. Husband graduated in '65, was editor for two years. He was not a swimmer!

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

My Mom says "natch" all the time. Even then, it took me awhile to get that one

boardbtr 2:06 PM  

Sounds like colleges try to make it easy these days. I remember having to go to a DC Machinery class Tue-Thu-Sat at 7:00 AM.

Dirigonzo 3:13 PM  

Syndication solvers like me may have seen GAMS and been reminded of Jane Russell, who died yesterday. She was a WW II pin-up girl and movie star whose career was launched by none other than Howard Hughes.

I saw the palindrones early on and that got me through the grid fairly quickly. Had a hang up at Bar opening? because I once spent several uncomfortable hours waiting for the rising tide to float me off a sandbar and had trouble letting go of that answer. "American Idol" rating had me stumped, needed all the crosses to produce TVPG.

Waxy in Montreal 4:54 PM  

Able was I ere I saw Elba, er, this puzzle. BTW, why isn't the word 'palindrome' a palindrome itself? Just wondering...

Would certainly agree that the palindrome KAYAK would have made for a much better answer than UMIAK for 29D in this puzzle.

Perhaps a sad commentary on our times but LARA LOGAN is so much better known now than she was when this puzzle first appeared 5 weeks ago because of the sexual assault in Cairo.

@Dirigonzo, like you GAMS reminded me of the late and great Jane Russell. However, back in the day, I recall being somewhat more titillated by two of her other excellent assets...

Anonymous 12:58 AM  

Did Mr. Hartman get confused on "start to fix?" Why does "pre" fit here? Was this some confusion over the term "prix fixe?" I am aware of no english usage of "pre-fixing" something. Can anyone help?

Dirigonzo 6:30 AM  

@anony 12:58 - one of the joys of doing these puzzles, for me at least, is the daily opportunity to learn new words. It appears you have just had such a moment - PREFIX is a perfectly good word and prefixing something is indeed possible. Really - you can look it up.

lodsf 10:12 AM  

(1/25 in Mar’11). Ran through this Tue PM. Didn’t get most. Didn’t like it. Wed AM (a 5AM morning person) removed “John” Coltrane and the rest just seemed clear after that. Then liked it a lot – the 4 palindromes, GAMS, WATER as a firefighting tool, etc. as other have said. Still thought there was a little too much ‘obscure’ proper name crossing (The Thin Man’s ASTA Terrier / IRA Parseghian, for example), but some were just crosswordese that I have to commit to memory (City OCALA/ Rapper ICET).

@Rex - Five weeks later hope you’re still surviving the early Tue/ Thu’s. Thanks for keeping up the blog despite. Personally I get so much out of the daily ‘blog follow up’ including blog comments (for example, I only realized after reading here that this puzzle’s short answers ALA, ARA, SEES, EKE were also ‘thematic’). Anyway, thanks as always.

Anonymous 2:35 PM  

The syndicated puzzle seems to be one day behind; today is wednesday and the puzzle is Jan. 25, Tues. Same yesterday. Thanks, Liz

lodsf 2:44 PM  

@Anon 2:35PM - sometimes I have to 'catch up' on puzzle solving; yes this was a TUE puzzle that I finished on WED.

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