Snowy region of Austria / TUE 2-22-11 / 1922 novel with Dublin backdrop / Neighbor of Irkutsk on Risk board / Perez with nasally voice

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: MAGAZINES (61A: What the starts of the answers to the eight starred clues are) — theme answers are all two-word phrases where the first word is also the title of a familiar magazine...

Word of the Day: TYROL (25D: Snowy region of Austria) —

Tyrol (German: Tirol) is a state or Bundesland, located in the west of Austria. It comprises the Austrian part of the historical region of Tyrol. [...] The capital is Innsbruck. The city is known for its university, especially in medicine. Tyrol is popular for its famous ski resorts, which include Kitzbühel, Ischgl and St. Anton. Other larger towns are Kufstein, Schwaz, Reutte and Landeck. (wikipedia)
• • •

I am virtually certain that I have seen this theme before—probably not with this kind of theme density (impressive), but still: seen it. So themewise, it's a bit blah for me, but gridwise, on the whole, it's pretty smooth and definitely more interesting than your average Tuesday, so thumbs up on that account. I hit a few snags here and there—thinking KARO (32A: Syrup brand) was spelled CARO, thinking the cameos were OPAL instead of OVAL (67A: Like many lockets) ... actually, I think that's it. The rest of it went off without a hitch, pretty much. The answer it took me longest to come up with was, strangely, STIR (29D: Hubbub). Brain just wasn't making the connection. Otherwise, right over the plate. Tuesdays are often hit-or-miss, and this one mostly hit. So hurray. Actually, the more I look over the grid, the more I'm impressed that a puzzle with *this* level of theme density has fill *this* smooth. I love a grid that shows signs of the constructor's sincere and thoughtful effort to make every corner as full as possible of real, honest-to-god, in-the-language words and phrases. When the worst thing I can say about the fill is "I didn't care for the plural AGUAS" (19A: Spanish rains) and "Maybe EDO and maybe ETO but please not EDO *and* ETO" ... well, then, the grid is pretty sleek.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *Reese Witherspoon's role in "Legally Blonde" (ELLE WOODS)
  • 21A: *Highest-grossing film of 1977 ("STAR WARS")
  • 23A: *Lakeside vacation rental (JETSKI)
  • 33A: *Purchase for a vacation, maybe (TIME SHARE)
  • 40A: *Lose control of a car (SPIN OUT) – OUT is also a magazine...
  • 43A: *Personal esteem (SELF WORTH)
  • 56A: *Emmy-winning AMC series set in the 1960s ("MAD MEN")
  • 57A: *House that drains finances, slangily (MONEY PIT) — coincidence: I just saw Shelley Long tonight in an episode of "Modern Family" that has been on my DVR for a few days ...

Tuesdays are time-crunches for me, so—straight to bullets.

  • 14A: "___ et mon droit" (British monarch's motto) ("DIEU") — you'd think by now they'd have dropped the French stuff
  • 26A: Browning who directed "Dracula," 1931 (TOD) — one of those weird three-letter names like DIK Browne and BIL Keane.

  • 28A: 1922 novel with a Dublin backdrop ("ULYSSES") — Irish literature: Not my strong suit. Still, this one was easy to suss out.
  • 47A: Neighbor of Irkutsk on a Risk board (SIBERIA) — weird how much puzzle action the game of "Risk" gets. I've never played the game.
  • 50A: "Touching" Olympic event (EPEE) — two-man luge involves some "touching," it looks like ...
  • 71A: Sign near a stairway (EXIT) — my mind does not associate these two things (EXIT sign and stairway). At all.
  • 37A: Perez with a nasally voice (ROSIE) — as with HOODIE (5D: Top with a top), I had some hesitation about how to spell the last syllable (-EY, maybe?).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


PurpleGuy 12:08 AM  

I agree 100% with what @Rex said.
Can't think of anything else to add.
It was an OK solve.
I guess I could say it was a nice Tuesday solve.

Shanti -


Anonymous 12:09 AM  

Rex - I agree with your assessment about this this puzzle, but you forgot one thing. 23D - JUKES. Does this finally settle the question we debated last year that real diners have JUKES? Even though the ones you visit don't have JUKES?

PS. Chaos, it's your turn....

Matthew G. 12:23 AM  

I finished with a Challenging time, entirely because of the west central. I got the theme immediately off ELLE WOODS and the rest of the grid fell quickly, but then I spent about half my total time staring at the west central.

Took me forever to see JET SKI, because I was looking for a house or cottage of some kind, and then I was still stymied by:

* KARO (neeeeever heard of this syrup. ever.)

* ETO (eventually deduced what it must stand for, but it's not a term I know -- I had tried all sorts of abbreviations that sounded vaguely military and Europe related), and

* TYROL (eventually guessed this from pure luck, and because it sounded vaguely Alpine, and that finished the grid).

So, yeah. I got through this one, but it took about _double_ my usual Tuesday time because of all the time I just stared blankly at that section.

But I agree with Rex. The theme density makes it hard not to love this one.

Rube 12:27 AM  

Couldn't figure out what the theme words had in common until the reveal. Never heard of Jet, Spin, or Self. Guess I should spend more time at the grocery store checkout counter.

Fell asleep on this one. Guess that tells a story by itself.

@RP, Risk is one of the greatest board games ever. Second only to Monopoly. Your youth was obviously misspent.

UHS should be clued as "Quality secondary school in San Francisco". (That's University HS.)

Good puzzle.Dense theme with OK fill. ENATE is the only "high" crosswordese IMO. Newver did finish Ulysses. Who's ROSIE Perez? (Don't tell me, I'll look her up.) Haven't seen a MAD in years.

Tobias Duncan 12:44 AM  

@Matthew G. I'm with you, this was about twice my normal Tuesday time.
Never heard of ELLEWOODS and a WOK is not a rice holder.I did like this one but felt almost like a Wed to me.

Anonymous 12:46 AM  

Meh, I didn't care much for it either way, but there were a couple of things that bothered me enough to push it over into the negative:

- ETO crossing TYROL. That O was a blank spot for me since I doubt I've ever encountered either answer.

- AGUAS are not "Spanish rains." There's some poetic license in these foreign language clues, but "Spanish rains" are LLUVIAS. "Rains" wouldn't be a good clue for "waters," would it?

- And I don't see how the existence of both DIEU and ADIEU are in the puzzle is getting a pass. One is "God," one is "To God."

*sigh* maybe I'm just being persnickety today.

foodie 1:01 AM  

@Mathew G, you must not make pecan pies! I learned about KARO syrup from my southern mother-in-law's pecan pie recipe. For some reason, I don't think of KARO in the same class as maple syrup or something I'd want to put on a pancake.

For a while, I had no clue where this puzzle was going, so I decided to work at the bottom, got the reveal and it turned it from feeling challenging (for a Tuesday) to Easy.

I agree with Rex that the theme density is very impressive and there is a lot of good fill-- although the criticisms already raised are fair.

Anonymous 1:05 AM  

I have never heard of a gift of GAG.
I have heard of a gift of GAB, which of course gives me no possible word for 70A.

Anonymous 1:10 AM  

@Anon 10:06. Nor have I, But I have heard of a GAG gift.

Danny 1:21 AM  

I have to say, I agree both with most of the criticisms above and with Rex's overall assessment.

DIEU + ADIEU = non. KARO, at least for me, is crosswordese that I can never, ever remember. WOK is not a rice holder, not even a little bit. Honestly, look at a wok--it's not an efficient holder for anything at all! AGUAS definitely not especially well-clued. Still, the fill overall was snappy and current, and, as several others have noted, the theme answers were indeed impressively dense.

But, for me, the one thing that simply did not fly was the cluing of Ms. Perez's voice as "nasally." It's not nasally, it's just plain nasal. They're really going to describe a noun with an adverb? Not in an endeavor built entirely around the careful, precise selection of every single word...

chefwen 1:25 AM  

@Anon 1:05 - We give gag gifts often in our crazy family. For years somebody would get this crazy, ugly hat that just got shifted around to different family members, always beautifully wrapped.

Had a similar solving experience as @Foodie, getting nowhere at the top, so switched to the bottom and voila, I was done.

I'm going to start saying CHURL more often instead of jerk, it has a lot more class.

I'm really liking Mr. Livengood's puzzles and I love his name, everyone should aspire to the same.

retired_chemist 1:31 AM  

Nice one. What Rex said.

67A (OVAL) could have been added to the theme: O magazine.

AGUAS is poorly clued. The rain in Spain is mainly called La Lluvia. Or so my HS Spanish taught me. Hispanophones feel free to correct me if necessary.

Thank you, Mr. Livengood.

Anonymous 2:07 AM  

KARO syrup has been around forever. The light and dark are the best known offerings. Especially outstanding for candy making; caramels, taffy, pralines, hard crack candies. . . . We owe pecan pie to KARO syrup. Fine on pancakes, but probably an acquired taste for people raised on maple syrup.

DIEU (and DDE) is sooo easily replaced.

Nate Conrad 2:11 AM  

I found the 'hemp' clue utterly boring... what about "Washington crop"?

adieu churl-a michaels 2:20 AM  

echoing all...loved density, seen theme but had so many more...8!!!
Am becoming big Livengood fan.

Nice JKZXZX...maybe change that DIEU corner to something with a Q/F and get rid of the ADIEU/DIEU problem AND make a pangram! ;)

Like the triple SSS in GUESSSO.
And the almost palindromism of POPUP...and fun of DOGG, HOODIE, HOGWASH and JETSKI. Lots to like.

The AGUAS problem makes me wonder why there are always tonedeaf/ borderline mistakes with foreign words, whether Yiddish or simple Spanish. Mon dieu!

acme 2:23 AM  

ps HI MOM! to go with POPUP

Anonymous 3:27 AM  

I think they mean épée refers to fencing in which they get points by "touches"... while not incorrect, I find it odd they called the sport épée

Ulrich 4:00 AM  

@anonymous at 3:27: Using an épée is only one way to fence--there is also fencing with a foil or a saber.

Tirol spelled with a "y" looks so perverse that it never occurred to me and made me spell "Ulysses" "Ulisses"--duh!

Other than that, I'm with the majority opinion today, and I, too, am shocked, shocked at seeing dieu and adieu in the same puzzle, and love ret._chem's suggestion re. the O in "oval".

Evgeny 4:23 AM  

nyt puzzles are so on the spot! just got back from a long skiing weekend in Ischgl. Every second hotel has TYROL in its name, which made me confidently write in TiROL. Always thought the German spelling was the internationally recognized one.
A very nice puzzle, just exactly right to accompany breakfast.

Evgeny 4:42 AM  

@Ulrich, just saw your comment - perverse is just the word!

shrub5 5:02 AM  

Early on, I figured the name of the Reese Witherspoon character must be ELLEN something so was trying to analyze what in common ELLEN, STAR and SPIN had as a theme. Eventually stumbled upon the correct ELLE, TIME and then (d'oh) MAGAZINES.

I put AUSTRIA before SIBERIA from the ----RIA. I played Risk in my youth and vaguely recall that there were liberties taken with the map, so it seemed OK to have Austria next to Irkutsk.

Didn't look carefully at the clue for 22D and misread it as 'Goodbye, Luci'. Had the ADI-- so figured Luci must indicate the answer is Spanish, thus ADIOS. This lead to trouble and after some time realized the clue was actually Luc with an exclamation point.

Anonymous 6:18 AM  

Thank you for your post on Monday. I reply today, because in my time zone (Thailand), I usually read the 20 or so comments in the day, and only occasionally I go back to read previous day comments.
Yes I did check your pointer. Thanks. I also regularly read the LA Confidential blog (LA Times puzzles are published in a daily paper here). Thanks again for the kind help.
From Bangna/Bangkok

SethG 6:39 AM  

Worth is also a magazine.

Gift of Gab is also a rapper--I entered GAB from the G-. I entered TYROL from the T-. I object to HO ODIE and ODIE crossing each other.

Hanne_Sydney 7:16 AM  

Your blog is my most delightful internet discovery. I've been doing the NYT crossword for a whole week now (on iPhone) but am already thoroughly charmed by it and quite hooked. While being an avid NPR podcast listener helps, as an Australian I'm finding the baseball and football questions quite beyond me. No luck today with the diner question, either - there aren't a lot of those in Sydney anymore. While I got TYROL, I don't recall there being a lot of non-snowy regions in Austria.
Still don't know what DDE or ETO stand for, and CHURL was bewildering, to say the least. Proud of getting KARO - time spent scouring the city for obscure ingredients for US cake recipes paid off in other ways - who would have thought!
Thanks so much for your blog. Such a nice relief from regime change in the Middle East on Twitter!

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

DDE is Dwight David Eisenhower (WWII genral and then preasident of USA). ETO is European Theater of Operation, where DDE was active.
I do also struggle with these sports references...
From Bangna/Bangkok

joho 8:15 AM  

ELLEWOODS was spotted leaving her TIMESHARE in POLAR temperatures in SIBERIA where everybody FREEZES wearing only a fuzzy, pink HOODIE over her favorite HEMP pantsuit. She had just EATEN a strange mixture of PESTO and KARO that had been tossed over shrimp in WOKS and then washed down with REDWINE from eastern TYROL. She had to hurry to make the double feature of "STARWARS" and Season Two of "MADMEN" where she found herself seated MIDST the Chicago BEARS, Snoop DOGG, Joan BAEZ and one CHURL who clutched an EPEE in one hand and a LASSO in the other, ready to STAVE off the USUAL suspects. Suddenly she jumped up and shouted at the screen,"HOGWASH! GAG me with a spoon!I am feeling my SELFWORTH, ADIEU!" as she made a beeline for the nearest EXIT.

efrex 9:10 AM  

DDE cross-referencing ETO was the ugliest point in the puzzle for me. Took a while to get through, and JETSKI/TYROL just refused to suss themselves out for minutes on end. Not a fan overall, but I might just be grumpy because of this #@@!# lingering head cold that I've got...

mmorgan 9:30 AM  

It was okay... I wasn't thrilled with the NE. CHURL seemed borderline and, claro, por supuesto, "Spanish rains" at 19A should have been LLUVIAS. (Or maybe it's metonymy. Kinda.)

Didn't catch the theme till the end but enjoyed seeing it when I got MAGAZINES. Not bad.

The West and South took longer than they should have, which actually made it more enjoyable. I cannot believe how long it took me to get ULYSSES, which should have been an instant gimme. Great to see Joyce in the puzzle!

I never really appreciated impalas till I saw them hanging outside my room when I was in S. Africa a few years ago.

Thinking about yesterday -- I do think about construction, but my primary criterion is the solving experience. A puzzle can have a highly problematic structure, I think, but still be gas to solve. I guess the quality of the solving experience is independent of the aesthetic appeal of the construction -- at least for me.

r.alphbunker 9:34 AM  

Pass 1 (downs first then acrosses): 46 blank squares
Pass 2: 12 blanks
Pass 3: 9 blanks
Pass 4: 2 blanks

Corrections made during passes:

I wish I could solve the same puzzle afresh with different strategies to see which ones work the best. Maybe if I wait a year and try it again ...

chefbea 9:39 AM  

Fairly easy puzzle. Of course I knew Karo. Just made a great pasta salad with pesto yesterday.

And I agree - Woks are definitely NOT rice holders. You stir fry in a wok and then serve it with rice that you have made in another pot. Then you have pecan pie for dessert.

Kurt 9:51 AM  

Nice work, @Joho. A great end to a great puzzle. But wasn't ELLE WOODS reading ULYSSES as she waited for STAR WARS to start? Or did I confuse this with another story?

General Tso 9:52 AM  

@Chefbea - Unless of course you're making [fill in the blank]-fried rice. With which pecan pie most absolutely does not go.

mac 10:09 AM  

Very good Tuesday puzzle, and what theme density! No real problems here, even though I had never heard of about three (and apparently 5) of the magazines. Agree with Ulrich and Evgeny, Tirol looks weird with a Y.

Nice misdirection with the cameo: it's also often used with onyx, another 4-letter answer starting with o.

I guess you would find fried rice in the wok.

@mmorgan: what do you mean with the impalas hanging outside your room? Where thy slaughtered? I found them on many menus around the game parks.

Jim 10:19 AM  

Didn't even see CHURL, HOSEA or AGUAS. Have decided to navigate through downs as much as possible using the 'Clock' app. Across navigation is just tedious early in the week.

Always thought DDE headed the AEF (Allied Expeditionary Force). Did I get that from Patton...or maybe I made that up?

SW was hardest for me. Had iMBED (whoops) and had YiNS for a while. ENATE is REALLY obscure for a Tuesday.

Two Ponies 10:29 AM  

I enjoyed the solve but totally agree with the oddity of some of the clues. I hope Ian L. drops by to tell us how much was him and how much was Will.
My crowd in high school loved Risk but I avoided getting involved since it took hours and hours to play.

quilter1 10:31 AM  

Liked the theme and the solving experience. Join the objections to DIEU and ADIEU, and WOK as a rice holder. KARO was a gimme-I suppose there are other brands but I'm not aware of them.

Very nice puzzle and rated easy for me.

Ulrich 10:39 AM  

@mac: The impalas that were hanging around our room near the Victoria Falls in Zambia were there not for the slaughter, but as lawn mowers, together with a bunch of zebras--best-clipped grass on our entire trip!

retired_chemist 10:43 AM  

@ Jim - AEF is the American Expeditionary Force, headed by Gen. John J. Pershing. DDE was a WWI general, who had only graduated from the USMA 2 years before the time of the AEF.

retired_chemist 10:44 AM  

oops - that was supposed to be WW II for DDE.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

It's astounding that some regular solvers might be unfamiliar with ETO.

fikink 11:07 AM  

Thought this was a snappy Tuesday.
Interesting that TOD (director of Dracula) means death in German.
How does one live without KARO syrup?
@chefwen, yes, CHURL - much better, though the jerk won't recognize your civility.
@retired chemist, O my! Didn't even think of O magazine. Good eye!
@Rube, re: Risk - Right on!
@Hanne_Sydney, so good to have a voice from Austalia!
@joho, ha! very good!
@efrex, feel better soon.
Good of General Tso to POPUP.
@Ulrich, think I can get an IMPALA for the back 40?

What a note of order on this morning of chaos, Mr. Livengood. Thank you for keeping me focused on the positive.

JaxInL.A. 11:41 AM  

ADIEU and DIEU didn't bother me nearly as much as the CASE of paper and Sam Spade's CASES did on Sunday.  No one else commented on it on Sunday so I thought I was wrong about the existence of a construction rule against repeating words.  

I agree with all that Rex said about the puzzle's smooth fill, theme density, etc., but having two unnecessarily inaccurate clues early in the puzzle rankled a great deal.  They were simply wrong.  

It seems it should be pretty simple to come up with Tuesday-level clues for these common words, clues that actually signal the answer.  I claim no skill a this, but what about "places to create General Tso's dishes?" for WOKS? 

And as for AGUAS, the clue shows a real ignorance.  You would never clue the word "waters" as Rains.  This especially rankles because there are so many good options.

Aguas calientes literally means "hot waters" and surely that could signal some clever clue.  Or geography and travel--Aguascalientes is both a state capitol and a state in Mexico (it's between Jalisco and Zacatecas.)  It is also the name of the Peruvian city closest to the ancient Machu Pichu pyramids.  

Or you could go the other way with AGUAS frescas, the traditional fruity beverages that predate the very popular fruit smoothies found at chains like Robeks and Jambalaya Juice.  Most of us in the southwest would recognize this tasty beverage and I've even seen AGUAS frescas shops in Latino neighborhoods on the exotic isle of Manhattan. 

Or you could go with the sense of ocean waters: "______ oceanicas: what the Armada navigated."

Okay, this really bugged me. 

Fine puzzle otherwise.

Sparky 12:00 PM  

@MatthewG. ETO and DDE are crosswordese. As is DST. KARO was advertised in magazines and radio when I was a kid and Brooklynites would go Huh? Pecan pie was years away. I'm on my way @chefbea.

Enjoyed this puzzle. Thanks Mr. Livengood. Tripped on OpAl, Blanked on ULYSSES though I could see Stately fat Buck Mulligan in my head. @Rex: luge--tee hee. Have a good day.

Martin 12:07 PM  

Clues for AGUA or AGUAS from the New York Time puzzles.

1/28/2001: "The rain in Spain"
1/22/2002: "The rain in Spain"
3/18/2004: "The rain in Spain"
7/13/2008: "Rains in Spain"
2/22/2011: "Spanish rains"

These mean either Will Shortz, despite being told over and over that "aqua" doesn't mean rain in Spanish just can't master the concept; or that he's messing with your heads; or that he views it as a damn clue and not a dictionary definition, one with which he can have a little fun.

Kendall 12:09 PM  

Unlike Rex et al, I was not a big fan of this puzzle as a whole. The theme was good but I wouldn't say the rest was. Really don't like UHS, IDS, EDO, ETO, and the worst in my opinion was AGUAS.

On the other hand I really liked ULYSSES, thought DRESS was clued nicely, CHURL, and the theme density was fantastic. Not to mention Legally Blonde is my Mom's favorite move so I've seen it more than a dozen times and knew ELLE WOODS instantly.

Last thought: I had know clue who BAEZ was and got that only by crosses. Even after seeing the name spelled out and googling I'm not sure I've ever heard of her.

JaxInL.A. 12:13 PM  

@mmorgan, thanks for teaching me a new word today! I think you are being extremely generous by offering an excuse for the ugly waters/rains pairing and calling it metonymy.  I had to go look it up metonymy, and this is the best explanation I found.  

Briefly, it's using one word for but doesn't mean to use it literally, like when Marc Antony says "lend me your ears" in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Cool.

Thanks, @Martin, for trying to make this seems logical. I can still complain, though.

Sparky 12:13 PM  

Sorry about this: it's Stately plump Buck Mulligan. @Joho: what a mind you have. Neat. @PurpleGuy: is your Mother doing better? Last, I promise; my name's in there today. Rah, rah, rah (that's crosswordese, too).

GILL I. 12:25 PM  

Thanks to Mr. Livengood, I've learned all about bars, tantric and now magazines I've never heard of - well I knew TIME and MAD.
I remember reading Joyce's Ulysses at a fairly young age. My grandmother was appalled and told me it was filled with nothing but Irish balderdash. Of course I re-read it.
Like Rex and others, didn't care for the plural AGUAS. Otherwise I enjoyed this little POP UP in the park.

syndy 12:40 PM  

Only part of puzzle I didn't like was the theme reveal! wanted more than crappy magazines.Since mR SHORT is the official god of the nyt xword if he clues a word the same way as a rule -get on board (besides agua I know LLuras or whatever not so much)

GILL I. 1:00 PM  

I'm still laughing. That was a two-ply kleenex one. GAG with a spoon indeed!

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

23D -- Here is what Rex had to say when this clue appeared previously:

I love diners—I'm trying to go to every one I can in my general geographical area—and I can tell you that I have yet to see a JUKEbox in any of them (1A: Diner fixture, informally). Maybe because they are real diners and not "50s Retro Diners."

RP, Sunday, September 19,2010

mmorgan 1:27 PM  

@mac -- oops, sorry, I meant they were "hanging around," running around in the area, etc. Very much alive!

@JaxinL.A. -- yeah, it was generous... that's why I said "Kinda."

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Many real diners used to have juke boxes. I'd love to have one of the old table model jukes. Some diners had one at every booth.

When I was a kid, we didn't go to diners much and when we did I don't remember ever playing one, but I distinctly remember looking at them longingly and playing with the buttons.

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

Agree with Rex that this puzzle has the feel of deja vu. Had IKE for 1D which messed me up.
I had to go through most of the Across clues before I could get anything going but then things fell into place. I started with the hope of breaking my 10 minute barrier but instead I broke the 30 minute barrier and stopped the timer. Nothing spectacularly difficult but had to switch back and forth between the Across and Down clues.
So I would rate this as challenging for a Tuesday.

Sfingi 1:39 PM  

Alto Adige/Bolzano-Bozen used to be called South TYROL; there are also Swiss Army TYROLean shoes. So, it's not all Austrian.

Didn't like fingers = IDS.

@Martin - it would be worse if it were just yesterday. We have fannies = REARS, from yesterday's LA.

And MIDST on LA today, with similar clue.

Andmor 1:47 PM  

I believe Worth is also a magazine (43 Across)

Moonchild 2:06 PM  

If you use fanny in England in the context we do in America you will get some very funny looks indeed.
Completely different meaning and pertinent only to the female anatomy.

Woman just back from the doctor tells her husband in a huff "That cheeky doctor said I had a nice fanny."
Husband storms into the doctor and asks him to explain himself.
Doctor says "I didn't say she had a nice fanny. I said she had
acute angina."

fikink 2:49 PM  

@Moonchild, thanks for the heads up. I looked it up, something I never would have done if you hadn't mentioned it, and there it was: "British vulgar slang."

mmorgan 2:57 PM  

My wife took the nickname "Fanny" some years ago (innocently, for her Aunt Fay) and uses it all the time. We've had some interesting responses in Britain...

Clark 2:58 PM  

Rain and water may not be the same word in Spanish, but presumable the rain in Spain is just as much water as it is anywhere else. I have never during my visits to Spain run chemical tests or paid any attention to the composition of the precipitation so I can’t be sure. It did seem to turn from liquid to solid at the freezing temperature of water, though, so that is a clue.

We played Risk relentlessly for a few months when I was in eighth grade. Just about every day after school at a friend's house -- a house with 8 cats and radical college student roomers coming and going. It is a great game, but you need to be able to put aside all worries and distractions for a few hours.

My Grandpa used to occasionally make a simple dessert of Karo syrup in a bowl (dark or light -- I prefer dark) stir in a bit of butter, crumble in some saltine crackers. This was for those moments when you want something sweet and there is nothing else to be had. (That didn't happen very often with my Grandma around. She kept the breadbox regularly stocked with her homemade coffee cake and cinnamon rolls. Yum!)

Unknown 3:08 PM  

for 62 down "type of gift" I originally had "gab" rather than "gag"

Tod Browning also directed "Freaks"

chefwen 3:09 PM  

@joho is off and running, great one today, I'm still chortling!

Used to work with a young man who would get very excited around Thanksgiving because his grandmother would make him a KAAY RO SYRUP PIE, I never did get a sample.

sanfranman59 3:59 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 9:01, 8:56, 1.01, 59%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:23, 4:35, 0.96, 43%, Medium

archaeoprof 4:28 PM  

Today has been a very hard day, and it isn't over yet. But I really enjoyed working this puzzle. It was a welcome moment of respite and relief.

Some days, there's no such thing as a bad puzzle!

Matthew G. 4:29 PM  

@Sparky: I didn't have any trouble with DDE, of course. Knew I was looking for something Eisenhower-related in the ETO space, but ETO is a particular piece of crosswordese that hasn't come up for me before. I've only been an every-day NYT solver since last July, though.

claude 4:44 PM  

Not sure why people don't understand the AGUAS complaint.

Rain is clearly water, but rains are also water. Rains are not waters. The problem isn't with AGUA, the problem is with AGUAS.

Mulva 4:57 PM  

So, what's the problem with Fanny as a nick-name?

Samantha 6:41 PM  

Major kudos to Mr. Livengood for a new and interesting clue for EPEE. (Get it? Touche?) Seriously, I get so insanely sick of the usual boring clues, and this one was awesome. This epee fencer has a smile on her face.

mac 7:45 PM  

@Sparky: LOL!

Anonymous 8:01 PM  

I guess I am confused as to what is crosswordese. I always thought is was some word or abbreviation commonly used as fill but not generally used elsewhere. DDE and ETO do not fit that definition. They were in vogue before Will Shortz was born. The fact that someone has not seen a term other than in a NYT puzzle does not ipso facto make it crosswordese.

ipso whatever 9:12 PM  

@Anon 8:01

Yes it does.

More specifically, it's not generally seen outside of xwords, but must have existed elsewhere to be valid.

Many seem to exist only for the letters they offer.


sanfranman59 1:44 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 6:59, 6:54, 1.01, 59%, Medium
Tue 9:17, 8:56, 1.04, 64%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:41, 3:41, 1.00, 51%, Medium
Tue 4:22, 4:35, 0.95, 42%, Medium

King 1:37 PM  

Is "EPEE" really an event? I always considered epee to be the object used in the "event" of fencing. Oddly enough, I thought of the right event right off the bat, but was thrown by 4 letters instead of my expected 7 (for fencing).

Palmdalian 2:14 PM  

Oh, and congrats to Andrea Carla Michaels in real time for her and Joon Pahk's puzzle today (March 29) in the Los Angeles Times. Enjoyed it!

Palmdalian 2:39 PM  

Hey Syndi pals! Fun puzzle, not too hard, not too soft.

In defense of "aguas": I don't know about in Spain, but at least in Northern Mexico "las aguas" can refer to rain, or the rainy season. You'll find mentions of this if you Google aguas summer rains.

See for instance -- "The winter rains are equipatas (derived from the Yaqui-Mayo word for rain, quepa), the summer rains are las aguas ("the waters" in Spanish)."

Dirigonzo 2:43 PM  

This is the second day in a row that the syndicated puzzle in my paper has had a printing error - yesterday the "arrows" were replaced and today there were no italicized clues.

Last letter in was the S at 47 as MOH_ was unfamiliar, and _IBERIA can start with lots of letters and still look like a perfectly respectable geographic name for Risk.

Where oh where has @NotalwaysrightBill disappeared to?

Unknown 4:53 PM  

For those of you who are still confused: fencing is an olympic sport and involves 3 different events: foil, saber/sabre, and epee. The equipment and rules vary slightly for each.

In epee, the whole body is valid target area, and the first person to touch the other with the tip of their sword (an epee) wins the point.

In foil, only the torso is valid target area, and before one can score a point one must establish "right of way" - often accomplished by beating the opponent's sword out of the way temporarily, or by blocking your opponent's attack. The foil also uses a stabbing-type motion, and only touches with the tip count.

Saber also has the "right of way" rules, but the whole length of the blade may be used in a cutting-type motion. Torso, arms, and head are valid target area.

So yes, all 3 weapons in fencing are distinct and use their own set of rules, but all are governed by the same international body (the FIE) and all count as fencing.

(Another example is diving - athletes compete at different heights and using a springboard or platform - they all count as diving, the the specifics of each event vary)

Waxy in Montreal 5:02 PM  

@Dirigonzo - though my paper had the clues in italics, don't think their presence helped much with solving the puzzle.

Hmm, so if FANNY indeed has the specific anatomical meaning in the UK discussed earlier, I guess Fanny Hill must really have been the 18th century's answer to Pussy Galore...

Saw Joan Baez in concert just a few months back. Though her voice has lost some of the range it had during the Woodstock era, she's still puts on an impressive performance.

Dirigonzo 6:00 PM  

@Waxy - Fanny Hill = Pussy Galore, HA! That's a comment worthy of the prime-time crowd. Thanks for the chuckle.

You're right - I didn't miss the italics in the solving but it's irksome that the puzzle had another printing mistake. I still like solving on paper, though.

King 7:40 PM  

@Marc, thanks for the epee clarification, it's greatly appreciated!!! I think it will also help me for future xwords!

Anonymous 12:03 AM  

Normand Houle

great puzzle. It could have been improved by italicizing quite a few other clues, in the DOWNS 4,5, 10, 17, 24 41, 44 & 45 (to give 8 down answers) would have provided us with other magazine name starts : 4) GUESS 5) HOOD 10) HOG
17) US 24) ELA 41) POP 44) FREE and
45) RED all magazine names.

HONORABLE mention to 70 across
ME, MEG and MEGA are also 3 magazine names. without changing anything, you'd get even greater theme density.


Anonymous 12:04 AM  

Normand Houle

great puzzle. It could have been improved by italicizing quite a few other clues, in the DOWNS 4,5, 10, 17, 24 41, 44 & 45 (to give 8 down answers) would have provided us with other magazine name starts : 4) GUESS 5) HOOD 10) HOG
17) US 24) ELA 41) POP 44) FREE and
45) RED all magazine names.

HONORABLE mention to 70 across
ME, MEG and MEGA are also 3 magazine names. without changing anything, you'd get even greater theme density.


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