Physics Nobelist Victor who discovered cosmic radiation / WED 2-16-11 / Anoint with sacred oil old-style / Georgia's capital in slang

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Constructor: Michael Barnhart

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: 21 — five theme answers have "21" (or "twenty-one") somewhere in their clues...

Word of the Day: Victor HESS (10A: Physics Nobelist Victor who discovered cosmic radiation) —

Victor Francis Hess (24 June 1883 – 17 December 1964) was an Austrian-American physicist, and Nobel laureate in physics, who discovered cosmic rays. [...] Between 1911 and 1913, Hess undertook the work that won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1936. For many years, scientists had been puzzled by the levels of ionizing radiation measured in the atmosphere. The assumption at the time was that the radiation would decrease as the distance from the earth, the source of the radiation, increased. The electroscopes previously used gave an approximate measurement of the radiation, but indicated that higher in the atmosphere the level of radiation may actually be more than that on the ground. Hess approached this mystery first by greatly increasing the precision of the measuring equipment, and then by personally taking the equipment aloft in a balloon. He systematically measured the radiation at altitudes up to 5.3 km during 1911-12. The daring flights were made both at day and during the night, at significant risk to himself. // The result of Hess's meticulous work was published in the Proceedings of the Viennese Academy of Sciences, and showed the level of radiation decreased up to an altitude of about 1 km, but above that the level increased considerably, with the radiation detected at 5 km about twice that at sea level. His conclusion was that there was radiation penetrating the atmosphere from outer space, and his discovery was confirmed by Robert Andrews Millikan in 1925, who gave the radiation the name "cosmic rays". Hess's discovery opened the door to many new discoveries in nuclear physics.

• • •

There's a certain looseness and kookiness to this puzzle that I admire, but the theme is pretty inconsistent (e.g. 2100 ≠ 21, "twenty-ones" = godawful plural, "JUMP STREET" = a partial...), and the fill in the big corners is particularly cruddy. I'm not sure why there wasn't another black square in the NW (and thus in the SE). This puzzle has only 72 words? Why not go to more words and make the fill (much) better? As it is, there's this very choppy, short-worded center-grid and then these giant corners, which, inevitably, show signs of significant stress. Right off the bat we have to choke on "old-style" ANELE, plus the plural name RENES, the awkward possessive ARTHUR'S, and the crosswordesey ESME. Things are actually worse in the SE, where not only do I have to suffer ADALE :( over RELED :( :( :(, but I also have to pretend that EROTICAL is a word ... and not even an "old-style" word. Just a word. And with the "OTIC" part crossing -OTIC? It's all a bit too much to ask. In the easier-to-fill, NE and SW, the constructor went with cheater squares to ease the burden, and the results are, not surprisingly, much cleaner. All in all, an entertaining wreck, but still a wreck. Moral: don't try to impress anyone with your low word count if you can't fill the puzzle well.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: "Twenty-One" (TV GAME SHOW)
  • 24A: 2100 (NINE O'CLOCK)
  • 35A: 21 (DRINKING AGE)
  • 51A: "21 ___" ("JUMP STREET")
  • 59A: Twenty-ones (BLACKJACKS)
Toughest section for me was the NE, where I had no idea who HESS was, and couldn't get GILA or ELINOR with significant crossage. Thank god I knew the title "Quantum of SOLACE" (due to its being an answer in a puzzle before the film ever came out, causing me to grouse, causing me to remember the title). Forgot stupid UDAY's name, so that caused a bit of slowness in the NW. Never heard of MORO, but, thankfully, never even saw the clue (that SE was the easiest part of the puzzle for me, by far.

  • 20A: First American magazine to excerpt "Moby-Dick" (HARPER'S) — I didn't know this, though was able to guess it off the "H." "Moby-Dick" is next on my reading list; I'll get to it whenever I finally finish the 1000+-page tome that is "The Count of Monte Cristo" (so good I don't want it to end).
  • 30A: In no other place (HERE) — this seems all kinds of wrong. First, there's no reason this clue couldn't fit THERE. Second, something could be HERE *and* in other places at the same time. Oxygen, for instance. Or maybe I want a fence post placed HERE ... and there and there and there and there etc.
  • 50A: Georgia's capital, in slang (A-TOWN) — hurray for inventive cluing. So much better than a ["Coming to ___ near you!"] or the like. Just glad I didn't have to see AHOLE two days in a row.
  • 55A: 1950s tennis champion Gibson (ALTHEA) — a gimme for me, but I was surprised last time she showed up how many people hadn't heard of her, so maybe I'm just a bigger tennis fan than I thought.
  • 7D: Parliament residue (ASH) — Parliament being a brand of cigarette. Nice misdirection. Ooh, I just noticed the other parliament clue, 15A: Where the Stoerting parliament sits (OSLO).
  • 36D: Steve ___, 1990s teammate of Michael Jordan (KERR) — must have been at least somewhat tough for the sports-challenged among you, esp. considering KERR crosses another sports answer at the "E": LEN Dawson (40A: Hall-of-Fame QB Dawson). Ooh, just noticed the other Michael Jordan clue, 38D: Product pitched by Michael Jordan (GATORADE).
  • 44D: Watchmaker with the first U.S. TV commercial, 1941 (BULOVA) — trivia! Interesting. But who had TVs in 1941?!
  • 49D: The Stylistics' "___ By Golly, Wow" (BETCHA) — cute, but really Really would've preferred a Palin quote here.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Pete 12:15 AM  

I've come to appreciate that the RELEDs of the crossworlds are occasionally necessary, but please, please, hide them. It's like going to a dinner party and having the Brussels Sprouts disagreeing with you, it happens. Just go to the appropriate room, and let what needs to happen happen there, where no one's likely to notice. Don't wait until you're saying your good-byes at the door and let one fly. That kind of kills the whole evening for everyone involved.

syndy 12:15 AM  

Maybe would have rated it easy,did not like the 32 card game pushing it's way in but I liked TSARINA and always enjoy BACH.Moro probably the only Italian Premier I could name (kidnapped and assassinated and all)and the only aldo I know everything seemed to just flow-was proud of myself that I remembered that 64 was a LEAPYEAR-worst answer by far RELED does not TWINKLE

Clark 12:39 AM  

Got HARPERS and OSLO with no crosses, which looked like a good start. But I crashed and burned in the NE. (On a Wednesday!) Didn't know HESS or GILA and ended up with 'rAnGLE' instead of HAGGLE.

captcha: dismal -- you BETCHA

Rube 12:43 AM  

Most of this was reasonably easy, although I couldn't remember how to spell ADALE, but the NE!! Sheesh. Couldn't get any traction 'cause, unlike @RP, the new Bond film was not in the little gray cells. Ended up googling for SOLACE, ELINOR, and HESS before I could get NINEOCLOCK and the puzzle. It didn't help that I wanted ego for Freud's "I". Yes, I know, but it just seemed right. That also led to only instead of HERE. A real disaster.

Still, a good puzzle with some great misdirections and a few dogs. Took every cross to get JUMPSTREET and POL, and others. Wasn't ALTHEA Gibson in yesterday's LAT? Yes, it was.

Tita 12:43 AM  

Prayed that 67A was NOT going to be RELED...refused to enter that in, then reluctantly succumbed, groaning even more with the acceptance of EROTICAL. (swype even refused to accept "erotical"as a word...)
Wondered about Parliament residue...the burning of the Reichstag was all I could come up with.
Didn't like the sports natick at 40a/36d...
27a..had RANkS, then RAtES...never got RAVES till I got here...figured if erotical was a word, so must ENGRAtED be...

Loved Freud's I after Freud's libido yesterday!!!

lit.doc 12:47 AM  

Fun, fast Wednesday, and a nice enough theme. But…RELED? EROTICAL? REALLY? Ughly. The latter etymologically legal, I suppose, as with adjectives like mathematic and mathematical. But still, geez. And I don’t know whether to go with WOD or Rex’s “choke on” for ANELE.

Tita 12:49 AM  

@clark...i had rANgle too! And figured the odd spelling of ELoNOR was just par for the course, and that rESS was someone else I had never heard of...

Octavian 1:10 AM  

Horrible puzzle -- almost as bad as yesterday's -- with completely unprofessional fill and poorly executed theme.

What is going on at the NY Times? They must have taken their eye off the ball this week while they prepare for the upcoming tournament.

Can only hope some Thursday-Saturday brilliance will salvage the worst Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday stretch in years. Absolute train wreck.

Anoa Bob 2:19 AM  

EROTICAL? I rubbed my eyes, blinked hard several times and it's still there. I think its bumping into 67A RELED should qualify it as another exemplar of crosswording gone bad, along the lines of NATICK and OOXTEPLERNON. Wow. Still can't believe it.

althea eroticala michaels 2:23 AM  

EROTICAL/OTIC crossing is unforgiveable, but the theme was fabulous...five different uses of 21 without stretching or ridiculous answers.
LOVE it!

Usually the ones where the grid entries are definitions, it is so blaha, but this one crackled.
Plus 21 Jump Street was referred to just as "Jump Street" for short, back in the day (same day as Aldo Moro was being kidnapped and murdered by the Red Brigade...there have been fabulous documentaries and films about this that are fascinating, and much sadder, given now scandals with Italian Prime ministers are more about under-aged call girls from Morocco. But maybe better than that that political assassination.

Also, it leads to Johnny Depp before he had that weird goatee and faux-Euro accent.

Agree too that starting with ANELE and ending with RELED is dreadful, but theme theme theme, loved it!

and full musical history from BACH to YMCA crossed with BETCHA by Golly wow! So parts of this puzzle literally sung for me :)

SO much nicer than yesterday's snoozefest that I thought would have been torn from limb to limb

Ulrich 3:05 AM  

Here I'm dragging myself out of bed (just kidding--woke up and pottered around) to post my reactions to the puzzle and find Andrea having beaten me to the punch on every point I was going to make. What can I do? Try to sleep again...

hazel 4:13 AM  

"inventive cluing" is absolutely correct - i have never ever heard anyone in Atlanta refer to it as ATOWN. The ATL and HOtlanta, maybe, but ATOWN. please.

the puzzle seemed a bit easy, but I've been crucistruggling lately so maybe I'm just getting back in the groove.

Go Braves!

Winston 5:23 AM  

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Smitty 6:51 AM  

Did anyone else fall into the Freud's "I" EGO trap?

Funny you should mention Moby Dick @Rex, I just ordered the Big Print version, determined to be more patient with it. The first time it felt like a 20 page story with 600 pages of footnotes. I'm even considering bookmarking the 20 pages of Story so I can read that in one fell swoop. Then I can go back and enjoy the 600 pages of footnotes.

brilliam 6:55 AM  

Side from the stuff people have mentioned, some of them really puzzled me. I am new to the nyt crossword, but can someone explain élan? Reb? Pol? Those ones really added about 10 minutes to my puzzle. And for some reason I thought one of the 3 b's was blah-- as in lag, blah, blah. This is my first month an only my second Wednesday.

Rex Parker 6:55 AM  

A-TOWN is rock solid as clued. One second with Google could've told you that. It's in the names of Atlanta eateries. It's in the name of the Atlanta Hawks dancers. It's in many a rap song. Etc.

Greene 7:08 AM  

Yikes, I so fell into the EGO trap, instead of ICH. That really slowed me up considerably in the NE as I could not see NINE O'CLOCK. Fortunately I remembered SOLACE from the last time it appeared in the puzzle and irritated Rex. STALK was fresh in my mind from yesterday, but did not know GILA or ELINOR. With crosses, it all came together, but not until I ditched EGO and finally got NINE O'CLOCK.

EROTICAL? Really? That strikes me as somewhat moronical and perhaps a bit ironical as well.

Oh, and my lousy spelling had me finish with an error. BULAVA instead of BULOVA. Since I didn't know MORO, there was no fixing that. Just kept tapping in vowels until Mr. Happy Pencil appeared.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

What Rex said, but I've gotta say "Betcha By Golly Wow" totally made my day. Will have that song from my middle school years in my head all day!

Tita 7:58 AM  

@Winston...thanks for that litle reminder - you (and Teddy Roosevelt) are absolutely right!! Even the worst puzzle here is better than my best puzzle...
However, unless you are the Howard Roark of puzzledom, doesn't all this friendly criticism help you get even better??

I know I've learned lots just by regularly coming to this blog (and comments section) of late...

joho 8:05 AM  

I'll just join the crowd as I had RELED?????!!! and EROTICAL????!!!! in my margin. I could barely believe it!

Other than that, much of the fill was fresh and I liked that JAMES ("Bond, ____Bond") was in the SW and (Bond file "Quantum of ____") SOLACE was in the NE.

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

@Winston. I am profoundly grateful for this quote.

Great words to start the day!

lit.doc 8:34 AM  

@Smitty, hand up for starting with EGO. And a Moby Dick survival hint: just skip all the chapters that are about cetology and you've got a nice, readable little yarn. Worked for me.

Unknown 8:40 AM  

ELAN appears over and overvin the NY Times puzzle, clued along the lines 'style,' 'verve,' or 'zest'
POL as party planner would be a politician - I got it only from the crosses
REB would be a grey uniformed Confederate soldier, short for REBEL. I thought the clue should have indicated it was a shortened name, but I was in 'yeah, fine, whatever' by then.
Hope that is helpful.

PanamaRed 8:46 AM  

@Winston, kudos!

Matthew G. 8:57 AM  

I'm pretty much on board with Rex today -- some of the puzzle was sloppy, especially BLACK JACKS (extremely weak for a theme answer), RELED and EROTICAL (?!?!?). But, like Rex, I was somehow still entertained. The partial in 21 JUMP STREET didn't bother me much, since it was another variation on "21," which worked.

I finished with one error -- despite racking my brain, I couldn't remember the spelling of the watchmaker (I haven't bothered owning a wristwatch in about a decade), and had never heard of MORO, so I guessed BULeVA/MeRO. Knew it was probably wrong, but every vowel in that spot made me feel that way.

jackj 9:15 AM  

Along with all the other shortcomings of this puzzle, add in BETCHA, as the Palin influence toys with our minds.

Lindsay 9:20 AM  

Ordinarily I am one to soldier on and accomplish the task before me, even if the task is studded with skanky crosswordese, but I nearly quit at erotical/reled. There's only so much burden one can bear.

Some years ago a friend introduced me to her new baby ALTHEA. I said, "Oh, like Althea Gibson." The new mother replied "????". She'd never heard of Althea Gibson. Seems the name reminded her husband of a Grateful Dead song he liked. So I told my friend she would spend the rest of her life judging people by whether "Althea" reminded them of Wimbledon, or reminded them of the Grateful Dead.

Look Up Guy 9:23 AM  

EROTICAL is listed as a var. of erotic, unless you go back to Webster's 1828 dictionary where it's a "stand alone".

OTOH, except for some esoteric abbreviations, the only reference for ENGRATED I found was:

Engrate is not a word. Ingrate (Noun) is an ungrateful person. []

A-TOWN properly needs it's hyphen, then what @Rex wrote.

[Continuing a tradition of FWIW search results, without further interpretation]

mac 9:27 AM  

Best line of the day: "entertaining wreck"! I was entertained, but certainly see the problems of this puzzle. Noticed Althea again, didn't like reled and erotical, started with ego before ich. Got the theme early at 35A drinking age, and then went looking for the other ones, fun.

Two Michael Jordan clues! Unfortunately, I couldn't get past the boxers or briefs, so I needed a few crosses for gatorade...

Thank you, Winnie!

mmorgan 9:31 AM  

What they said.

Briefly got hung up by having UDAi and I was able to let go of my EGO just in time.

Like many, I could not bring myself to put in the alleged "word" EROTICAL. Not too thrilled with RELED either.

Still, there was much fun stuff here (as @althea eroticala points out with glee), and I finished pretty quickly despite lots of things I just didn't know -- ELINOR, LEN, ADALE, ECARTE, GILA, etc. -- so I guess got them fairly from crosses.

Theo Roosevelt 9:38 AM  

@Winston - Uh, don't you mean Theodore? Cause I said it, not you.

John V 9:39 AM  

Hands up for NE problems, ala @Rex. Like other here, wanted EGO for 32D.

I have a couple of rules: 1) always do the puzzle in pencil and b) never be afraid to erase a completely certain word -- such as EGO. Erased, SIGNAL fell into place, then STALK and the rest.

I'd give this a split rating: lowrer half easly, upper, esp NE, challenging.

CaseAce 9:40 AM  

I would've thunk that the first American magazine, without "excerption" would have been "Harpoons Bazaar" right out of the depths of the Straits of My-Orca?
If this comment sounds sorta familiar to one over at WP, it's because I post under WHH, over thar!
Land Ho...on the starboard side, me hearties!

quilter1 9:47 AM  

I thought the theme was executed well. With others would like to execute EROTICAL and RELED.
@Lookupguy: the answer was ENGRAVED not engrated.
Hand up for ego, and I wanted to squeeze in silence for SOLACE but finally saw the light.

Winston 9:48 AM  

@Teddy: Busted! OK, trying again ...

Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.

ArtLvr 9:49 AM  

Whoopee! I'm able to post again, thanks to whoever got Google to fix the goof!

My take on the puzzle wasn't nearly as negative as Rex's -- yes, it had minor awkwardness in spots but it also had a clever theme and cluing that made you think twice as with Freud's ICH... No problems in completing it except for the last letter which was a good guess at the E in the KERR/LEN cross. Odd that Rex remembered UDAY and not Aldo MORO!

The story of Nobelist Victor Hess was fascinating, and thank you to Rex for that. However, the more recent ordeal of Italian P.M. Aldo MORO in 1978, kidnapped by terrorists and held for 54 days before being shot to death -- that's highly relevant today with the popular uprisings across the Mediterranean and the question of how the US reacts! Thirty years after that horrendous act, in 2008, a US envoy published a book on his part in the death by committee, detailing how they let the terrorists become aware that Moro would not be ransomed and thus ensuring his eventual murder.

What I wonder about Egypt is whether the records of the toppling regime - like those of the old KGB, etc. - will eventually become public, with more information on torture sessions carried out there on behalf of G W Bush and company rather recently?


chefbea 9:50 AM  

I too had problems with the NE - had to google to learn Hess.

Thought maybe NY restaurant would be one of the 21's

No mac today :-(

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

@Lookupguy, it's ENGRAVED, not engrated (RAVES, not RATES)

Look Up Guy 10:02 AM  

Re: Engrated

My Bad,
Off to get my bifocals adjusted

Sparky 10:06 AM  

On line behind @Rube, Smitty, lit.doc and others since ego/only caught me. NE big hole. Also had 21A as Second. TSK told me how to spell TSARINA so didn't even see BETCHA. EROTICAL and RELED, tsk, tsk. @Winston. Worth thinking about. Well, we are over the hump. Up and att'em.

Glitch 10:19 AM  

Events in Television 1941:

April 30 - In the United States the FCC approves the NTSC standards of 525 lines and 30 frames per second, and authorizes commercial TV to begin on July 1.

May 2 - In the United States 10 television stations are granted commercial TV licenses (effective July 1). These stations are required to broadcast 15 hours per week. Bulova Watch Co., Sun Oil Co., Lever Bros. Co. and Procter & Gamble sign on as sponsors of the first commercial telecasts from WNBT in New York.

July 1 - The world's first legal TV commercial, for Bulova watches, occurs at 2:29 PM over WNBT (now WNBC) New York before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. The 10-second spot displayed a picture of a clock superimposed on a map of the United States, accompanied by the voice-over "America runs on Bulova time." The ... spot costs $9.


imsdave 10:35 AM  

Last letter in the grid - the A in ATOWN/ACA. I'll put a C in front of ACA to describe my thoughts on the fill. Enjoyed the theme though.

It is Wednesday, and as I've never ever heard Atlanta refered to as A-Town (I know that's my problem, not yours), wouldn't the Gene Pitney partial song title have been more appropriate?

Cranky Dave

quilter1 10:42 AM  

@Glitch Thanks for the history.
Dad bought our first TV in the early 50's. It was thought that TV's might give off some kind of harmful rays so we looked at the tiny screen in the living room from the dining room. Earliest TV memory: Kate Smith singing When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain.

Two Ponies 10:50 AM  

I haven't watched SNL in ages so I am assuming Wiig is a player on that show. My biggest trouble spot was the SW. I wanted to enjoy this puzzle but it never happened.
It seems redundant to add -al to a word when it already is an adjective.
Good luck with Moby Dick. I was bored to tears. OTOH Gregory Peck plays a wonderful Ahab in the film.

Masked and Anonymous 10:56 AM  

Witness for the defense, aca:
1. ANELE is perfectly good word in my dictionary. So it's archaic. So am I. So are crosswords.
2. RELED is perfectly ordinary to a bridge player such as moi. "She re-led clubs." Common. Average. Regular. QED.
3. OTIC also in my dictionary. Anatomy. Plus, it seems to be an old friend in crosswords, so not exactly a shocker.
4. Agree with 44, that this puz had a pretty funky feel. [Tho not quite erotical.] Also agree with ACME: cool theme idea.
5. A few more U's, and I coulda even done a thumbs up salute. But I have my standards.

imsdave 11:12 AM  

@Masked and Anonymous - your experience in bridge must exceed mine substantially. I've only been playing it for 43 years. (Is it OK to say never ever twice in one day?). Yes it is. I've never ever (OK that's three times) heard that expression at a bridge table. You either continue the suit, or revert to it.

Still cranky after all these minutes,

PuzzleNut 11:12 AM  

Hand up for the ego/only problem. NE corner was my toughest spot, but once I got STALK, the rest was inferrable. rAnGLE was my first thought, but I realized it starts with a W.
RELED? Started with REwon. Also had EuchrE at first which slowed me down. EROTICAL???
Agree that a Palin quote for BETCHA would have made my morning a lot more enjoyable. Now I can't get the SNL skit by Tina Fey out of my mind.

foodie 11:17 AM  

Talk about mixed reviews! Mixed within a given sentence!

Rex: "All in all, an entertaining wreck, but still a wreck."

@Andrea Eroticala: "...starting with ANELE and ending with RELED is dreadful, but theme theme theme, loved it!"

Our critics are awesome!

And as @Tita brilliantly said: "unless you are the Howard Roark of puzzledom, doesn't all this friendly criticism help you get even better??"

That about sums it all up!

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

Erotical is not only redundant,
it's idiotical.

foodie 11:22 AM  


Rex, thanks for the WOD! I always love your selections. I did not know that story about HESS and going up in the balloon! It goes to show you that even though we all love our fancy technologies, great scientists have discovered mysteries of the universe by starting from first principles and gathering solid observations...

GILL I. 11:28 AM  

Like Rex and others too, I had to pretend that EROTICAL was a word. If you say it out loud, it has a bit of a British snobbish sound to it.
My father had a Bulova that he bought on one of his trips to New York. He always loved fancy watches. This clue made me look up the commercial in 1941. Evidently Bulova paid $4.00 to a radio station before a baseball game between the Dodgers and the Phillies. I don't know who won.
Loved the couple of Bond clues since spouse and I are huge fans. Wasn't that crazy about Quantum of SOLACE though.

Ulrich 11:35 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
treedweller 11:38 AM  

@quilter1 how times change (and yet stay the same). A short two decades after your family got your first set, my mother struggled to keep me from sitting two feet in front of the TV. No mention then of dangerous emissions; she was only concerned about my eyesight.

Tonight I think I will make some tomato jelly for dinner--I'm feeling a bit aspical.

GILL I. 11:43 AM  

@ Glitch
I was typing my comment before I read your post. Phone rang; forgot my damn password and then finished up before I read your post re Bulova. Wiki says the ad was $4.00?

imsMasked and Anonymous 11:48 AM  

@imsdave: Har. You may be right, at that. The more I say "re-led clubs" to myself, the weirder-al it sounds.
(But "re-led spades" still sounds pretty good.)

Frankly, we don't actually talk much at the bridge table at all. Just use the hand signals (e.g., middle finger means bid somethin' else, etc.)

43 years?!? You probably even understand Stamen and Blockwood. Not me. I just flip 'em the hand signals, if they use it on me.

Back to the puz for a minute:
Pair of J's! They are like deformed U's. So I'm gonna go ahead and give 'er a thumbs up, after all. Y-B-Cranky.

Ulrich 12:00 PM  

@anonymouse at 11:22: No, it's unethic!

And I find screeds against critics tedious. I'd trade 10 lousy writers who shouldn't have been published in the first place any time for James Wood, currently my favorite literary critic, who greatly contributed to my appreciation of certain novelists.

Arundel 12:05 PM  

Mrs. Stan here, posting while Stan's off on an errand. We definitely liked this one - erotical and reled notwithstanding. Erotical does sound very British, but Google is of the opinion that it's a spelling error.

I had a laugh this morning, though, after Mr. Happy Pencil failed to appear. I went down the grid, looking for an error and it was only when I got here that I found that I had baTh for Bach. It just sounded right for one of the three Bs in Bed, Bath & Beyond.

SethG 12:15 PM  

Webster's 1828 Dictionary says that ANELE is not used. So it's really anoint, really really old-style.

Aside from the other issues, I'm not a big fan of a non-theme card game being clued numericly right by a theme card game being clued numericly.

Glitch 12:19 PM  



Continuing its tradition of advertising firsts, Bulova airs the first television commercial: a simple picture of a clock and a map of the United States, with a voice-over proclaiming, "America runs on Bulova time." The 20-second spot costs $9...

I'd go with the Bulova site.

Also listed on the Bulova site:
Bulova is a sponsor for all of the top 20 radio shows, including Charley McCarthy, Jack Benny, Fibber McGee and Molly and Major Bowes Amateur Hour.

Maybe the radio spot you refer to was $4.00, but the clue was for the TV commercial.

FWIW Wiki says it was a 10 second spot in one listing, and 20 seconds in another. I've found Wiki, due to it's nature, a tad inaccurate from time to time ;-)


Yoss 12:42 PM  

Did anyone else try bed BATH and beyond for the three B's??

GILL I. 12:44 PM  

Thanks. I think I can count on your research since I'm very often wrong.
@Arundel aka Mrs Stan. I'm still laughing at Bed BATH and Beyond.
captcha: Tralyhay, which I say to all.

Ulrich 12:48 PM  

BTW Blogger is acting up since last night: Whenever I try to open the comment window, it claims my cookies have been disabled b/c I did not sign up--both claims are nonsense. When I click again, it opens w/o complaint. Does anybody else have this issue?

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

@Yoss Yes, Mrs. Stan at 12:05 did.

JaxInL.A. 12:49 PM  

I am much more in @acme's camp than in Rex's on this one. There is no denying the uglies, but the theme was fun and fresh and I really liked it. I also enjoyed the series of paired clues (Bond, Parliament, Jordan), the literary allusions (Melville, Austen), and the musical range Andrea noted.

If I squint so I can't see the epically, unbelievably, collosally bad EROTICAL (which the auto-correct does not even want to let me type), well, call me Pollyanna but I liked it.

JaxInL.A. 1:12 PM  

it's funny how these things go in cycles. Between the NYT a few days ago, the Onion A.V. Club puzzle and the L.A. Times puzzle today I think I have seen NACRE three times (or more?), and SOLACE shows up today over in the L.A.Times. I like that word.

Two Ponies 1:30 PM  

@ Ulrich, I have been having similar problems. Quite annoying.

Etchaque - another answer for 3D?

Unknown 1:43 PM  

Rex, Do you ever approve a crossword? I come to your blog to see the answers. I am sort of bothered by your rantings! Please give these puzzle constructors a little respect. Frank

Sigmund Freud 2:24 PM  

To all you EGO-ists:

That is what I (ich) never said! Too much fancy-schmancy translation.,_ego_and_super-ego


The terms "id," "ego," and "super-ego" are not Freud's own. They are latinisations by his translator James Strachey. Freud himself wrote of "das Es," "das Ich," and "das Über-Ich"—respectively, "the It," "the I," and the "Over-I" (or "Upper-I"); thus to the German reader, Freud's original terms are more or less self-explanatory. Freud borrowed the term "das Es" from Georg Groddeck, a German physician to whose unconventional ideas Freud was much attracted (Groddeck's translators render the term in English as "the It").[30] The word ego is taken directly from Latin, where it is the nominative of the first person singular personal pronoun and is translated as "I myself" to express emphasis.

Figures like Bruno Bettelheim have criticized the way 'the English translations impeded students' efforts to gain a true understanding of Freud'[31] by substituting the formalised language of the elaborated code for the homely immediacy of Freud's own language.

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

i initially had ich,only, second for signal and study for stalk until i mentally reviewed my psych 101, remembered kennedy saying he was a pastry by saying "ich" so changed ego to ich and all fell into place. i had two "typos" spelled anele with an i and aca with a q. doh! i also scrathed my head repeatedly over erotical and reled but left them.despite everything i really enjoyed this puzzle, found it just challenging enough for me.

Joe 3:45 PM  

East is horrible here.
Gotta agree with LookUpGuy--A-TOWN requires the hyphen.
(There are other Google entrants for ATOWN.)

What about Hot LANTA for Georgia's capital. I've at least heard of that one.

archaeoprof 3:47 PM  

61D Duke's athletic org = ACC.

Yes, the Blue Devils do own the conference, at least in basketball.

andrical carlical michaels 4:02 PM  

We're not really in two different's Rex's camp, I just sort of visit now and then to gather twigs to stoke the fire!

And I had SO many typos in my initial posting, I'm surprised anyone could even make sense out of it!

@Sigmund Freund
Hand up for EGO for a few seconds, so really interested to read your post. I was a psych (-otic) major in school and attempted to take German in the misguided assumption I could then read Freud in the original one day.
That craziness lasted all of 3 months...entshuldigung, mein Herr Liebschen Ulrich!

Fwiw, Oakland is sometimes called O-Town...maybe every major city now does that...tho is Boston B-Town or still Bean Town? ANd Chicago C-town or Chi-town?

Perhaps it could have been clued as that song "A Town without Pity" which is what this blog can be from time to time!

nanpilla 4:10 PM  

@waters927 - It takes a lot of work to seriously critique a puzzle each and every day. If he didn't respect the work the constructor's were doing, why would he bother to give it so much thought? If you want a more gentle blog, go over to Wordplay (at the NYT site) and read Deb Amlen's very likable and fun blog.

Rex keeps his blog independent so that he can say exactly what he thinks. We may not always agree with his assessment, but we respect his commitment to the art.
If you just want the answers, the grid is always posted at the top of the page - just don't read the commentary.

Those of us who visit this site every day would miss it (and the commenters!) terribly if it were to suddenly leave.

sanfranman59 4:13 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)

Wed 13:12, 11:47, 1.12, 80%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:57, 5:48, 1.20, 91%, Challenging

I was quite agitated by the time I finished this puzzle last evening. HESS/ELINOR was a Natick for me although E was really the only letter that made any sense at all. ECARTE/EROTICAL/RELED just flat out pissed me off. I dislike puzzles with such an uneven level of difficulty. IMHO, most of the puzzle was Monday/Tuesday level of difficulty while the above mentioned crosses (plus MORO) were late-week difficulty. Almost nothing about this puzzle felt Wednesday-ish to me.

From The Archives 4:34 PM  

Saturday, June 29, 1996 48A "Like a Nin novel" EROTICAL.

I'll bet on it's next appearance, probably in 2026, solvers still won't like it.


JenCT 4:37 PM  

Didn't like EROTICAL, ADALE, or ANELE. NE & part of SE gave me trouble. Meh.

Liked all the theme answers, though.

@waters927: I don't think Rex is disrespectful; merely pointing out how the puzzle could be better. (When I was new to this blog, I felt that people were being overly critical, but I don't anymore.) :-)

Garrison Keillor 4:47 PM  

@Rex - You should really blog the puzzle in the Lake Wobegon Gazette, where every puzzle is way above average.

chefwen 4:56 PM  

Paw up for ego, had to Google for HESS and ELINOR,husband chipped in with a couple of the sports clues but we got it done after I had taken out and re-entered RELED about three times.

Getting off the plane on a trip to the Midwest to visit 'da folks, a gentleman behind us asked us if we would please hand him his coat, my husband replied you BETCHA as he gave it to him, I said "jeez Jon we haven't even gotten off the plane yet, dontcha know". It went downhill from there.

Kendall 5:01 PM  

As said by many others, RELED is about the worst fill I've ever seen. I also missed the cross at GILA/ELINOR and went with GALA/ELANOR. Oh well, I didn't know either of them so I don't feel bad about that. I also put RAtES instead of RAVES. Fixed that eventually but that NW corner almost caused me to not finish this puzzle.

Also, @Rex a little humor for you about your Sarah Palin comment at the end. Blogger currently wants me to enter "palinite" as my word verification.

william e emba 5:38 PM  

Ulrich, what a coincidence! I find James Wood to be an incredibly valuable literary critic also. If he's against someone, I just know I'll probably enjoy reading him immensely.

Wood reminds me of the Far Side cartoon with the two US frontier soldiers in a fort looking at the flaming arrows the Indians are shooting at them, and the one asks the other, "Can they do that?" Turn it into a "political" cartoon by labeling the Indians with names like Pynchon and DeLillo and Wallace and the arrows with their book titles and Wood and one of his sycophants for the two soldiers.

As for the puzzle, it seems my first post disappeared. Ah well. So I'll just say I was happy to breeze through the NE, with HESS/ELINOR/SOLACE/GILA coming down quite quickly. Although personally I regard "Quantum of SOLACE" as a Bond story. I read it decades ago to be a Bond completist, and it's pretty insipid as far as Bond goes (he's just listening to someone else's tale) but it's many kinds of nasty in its own little way.

And I remembered both UDAY and MORO, and I did not fall for the "ego" trap. My last letter was the A of AC?/?TOWN--I resisted ATOWN until I had no choice.

And I'm surprised anyone thinks L?N/K?RR was a toughie. The first ? is either E or O, the second ? is either A or E. Well, maybe not always, but always on a Wednesday puzzle!

Maya LIN 5:51 PM  

@william e emba said...


And I'm surprised anyone thinks L?N/K?RR was a toughie. The first ? is either E or O, the second ? is either A or E. Well, maybe not always, but always on a Wednesday puzzle!


(Raises hand.) Me, me, me, me, me!

Glitch 6:10 PM  

For those who may be interested in why Google is not as neutral/authorative as it once was (and this includes Google), here's an article from last Sunday's NYT on the J. C. Penny manipulation.


Anonymous 7:01 PM  

This was the typical Wednesday for me. Not too easy, not to difficult. Solved all without any help. But had a few errors. Had ELENOR and GELA instead of ELINOR and GILA. Also had BATH in 63A and ATC in 61D. Simply did not think of the three composers. Also guessed EQARTE and AQA instead of ECARTE and ACA.
Thought EROTICAL, RELED strange.

Sfingi 7:04 PM  

Theme was easy and fine, but too much sports.

8 Googles, high for my Wednesday.

Googled for LEN, KERR, GATORADE, all sports. Got ACC and EVAN on crosses, for 2 other sports clues.
The only one I knew was ALTHEA.
Michael Jordan's B'day is tomorow. Learned he also pimped Rolex and Nike.

Also Googled HESS, ATOWN, SOLACE, ADALE. ELINOR. Got UDAY ANELE ECARTE and ERN on crosses. All of the above I didn't know.

Learned there are many 32-card games: belote, yu-gi-oh, skat, muushigand.

I originally fell for the ego trap, and had RAtE before RAVE.

Wanted ADAir for ADALE, Thinking of the Scottish folk song, Robin Adair.

Aldo MORO, on the other hand, is very familiar to Italians. He was the Premier who was kidnapped by the Red Brigade and assassinated. The whole story has not been told, including Amaerica's part.
Todo Modo was a book about it by the Sicilian Leonardo Sciascia, followed by a movie.

I do not believe EROTICAL is a word any more than "orientate" is. We have EROTIC and "orient."

RELED is in that yucky category of RE-word-ER-S, which people also resort to in Scrabble.

@Andrea - Freud really is nice and important in the original. There are all sorts of double meanings in dreams, in particular, that would not be double meanings in English. Not that I can read him fluently...
@Anon238 - I understand that pastry story is BS.

I was taught that in France, literary criticism is considered an art form, itself.

@Rex - I love Steampunk, but not Palin.

Such great comments, today!

Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the Judgement Day.
Under the one - the blue.
Under the other - the gray.
Francis Miles Finch

Anonymous 8:01 PM  

@sfingi: jfk didnt say he was a jelly donut? huh? well you live and loin. thanks!

Two Ponies 8:20 PM  

@ sfingi, Great post.

cody.riggs 8:50 PM  

Some parts of this puzzle were truly dreadful...all those proper names in the SW. And everywhere else! Sheesh! It would be one thing if the names were ROENTGEN-quality, but LEN, KERR, and MORO? Ack! ELINOR just looks plain wrong. ANELE...I've worked in the Christian church my entire life and have never seen this word Ever.

However, I have no problem with the plural, [Twenty-ones] seems just fine since the answer is BLACKJACKS. You can have more than one Blackjack in a day at the casino. Also no problem with 2100 as a theme answer. Quirky.

Liked the theme. The puzzle...meh.

Captcha: GOPARDSL. "Gopardsl, gopardsl, let down your hair!"

sanfranman59 10:01 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 6:53, 6:54, 1.00, 52%, Medium
Tue 7:28, 8:56, 0.84, 6%, Easy
Wed 13:28, 11:47, 1.14, 82%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:47, 3:41, 1.03, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:02, 4:35, 0.88, 11%, Easy
Wed 6:34, 5:48, 1.13, 82%, Challenging

RumPudge 11:17 PM  

@glitch, thanks for the Bulova TV spot story

My NE corner stayed hollow for a long time ... I guessed BEST instead of HESS, which led to:

Something snapped me out of it, eventually - probably google.

Anonymous 12:14 AM  

@From The Archives - EROTICAL, an eight letter word with alternating vowels and consonants, and the WOF glory of the consonants has to be constructors' gold. The fact that it hasn't appeared in a puzzle for 15 years can only be a testiment to its manifest ugliness.

hazel 6:11 AM  

@rex - i didnt check google because i've just lived around here my whole life, eating in the eateries, listening to the radio, and whatnot and i've never heard the word mentioned. ever.

don't go to hawks games though so that's a new one.

william e emba 1:11 PM  

@Maya "me me me me me" LIN:

This was about the first name L?N. Ignoring that, "you" are famously female, and I'm sure have been in the grid before, even early in the week. Meanwhile, Hall-of-Famer quarterback L?N Dawson is famously male.

The only masculine first-name Lin I am aware of is the genre-famous science fiction/fantasy writer/editor/critic Linwood Vrooman "Lin" Carter.

Also, looking around on Wikipedia, it seems the only masculine "Lyn"s are an early 20th century Welsh film actor Lyn Harding and a Welsh footballer Lyn Davies.

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

Lyn Nofziger

Tita 10:43 PM  

@Sfingi - the pastry story is legit - google it - there is footage of him saying "Ich bin ein Berliner".
Trivia for the day...
"Bola de Berlin" is the Portuguese word for jelly donut - literally, Ball from Berlin. It ain't just Berliners that call 'em that...!

mac 11:07 PM  

Lynn Chadwick.

Anonymous 11:42 PM  

Don't just google it, read the results.

He said "Ich bin ein Berliner". Which is a completely proper way to say "I am one with the people of Berlin". No one in the audience thought he was calling himself a donut.

william e emba 2:47 PM  

Lyn Nofziger! Good one. How soon we forget. Heck, now that you remind me, I remember that he was in the puzzle just over two years ago (on a Wednesday, even!) with Rex of course making a big deal over remembering the odd name.

Waxy in Montreal 6:23 PM  

From syncity: almost invariably the title of an obscure TV series I've never consciously heard of nevertheless somehow still manages to burrow its way onto a synapse, neuron, dendrite, axon or something equally useful in my brain expressly for trivia/crossword recall purposes - but for some reason 21 JUMP STREET never did. Oh, well, if/when it reappears in 2026(?), should be a gimme.

And apropos of nothing significant whatsoever (complete waste of memory in this case), for some reason I do always remember that anagrams for TSARINA include SINATRA and ARTISAN.

Dirigonzo 6:40 PM  

"Moby Dick" wasn't first excerpted in Hustler? Seriously?

prossi = character in an EROTICAL novel.

lodsf 11:20 PM  

[2/16 in Mar’11+a day] Had fun with the puzzle and figuring out all of the ‘21’ clues (maybe a Sunday puzzle could have 21 of them). Got EROTICAL from crosses but on the ‘trust but verify’ principle checked it out in the Scrabble Dictionary – it’s there. So if it’s legal in Scrabble…..
BTW, Wordplay is a fine blog but I personally think this one has more edge & more insight. IMO.

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