Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Constructor: E. J. Masicampo

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: NIMBUS / CLOUDS (1A: With 7-Across, sources of the circled words) — RAIN comes down in four different circled areas from the NIMBUS CLOUDS at the top of the grid to the PITTER PATTER at the bottom (63A: With 64-Across, sound of the circled words)

Word of the Day: Paul DIRAC (11D: 1933 Physics Nobelist Paul) —

Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac, OM, FRS (8 August 1902 – 20 October 1984) was an English theoretical physicist who made fundamental contributions to the early development of both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics. He held the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and spent the last fourteen years of his life at Florida State University. // Among other discoveries, he formulated the Dirac equation, which describes the behaviour of fermions, and predicted the existence of antimatter. // Dirac shared the Nobel Prize in physics for 1933 with Erwin SchrÃ¶dinger, "for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory."

• • •

A lovely little puzzle that felt Monday-easy, though my time says it's pretty much in line with Tuesday. A bit put off at first by the circles (grrr...) and the impossible-to-get-without-crosses clue at 1-Across, but once I got going, and especially once I reached the PITTER PATTER, I had to admire the tight theme concept and elegant simplicity with which it was executed. An especially nice puzzle to solve on a rainy Tuesday morning. Solving at 5:15 a.m. has its drawbacks, namely a fine mental haze, so I was slow(ish) to pick up NIMBUS (""NIM..."?? What starts "NIM-!?" Something must be wrong"), but once I did, I went and immediately filled in RAIN in all the circled squares. This led me to believe I was going to have a record Tuesday time. I wasn't even close (see "fine mental haze," above), though the puzzle felt somewhat easier than average. My one hang-up came in the SW, where I wrote in TANS and TOKEN, which brought my quick forward progress to a crashing halt. Actual answers: SUNS (47A: Lies on the beach) and SCRIP (47D: Money substitute).

Obviously I do not care for the ADORNER (16A: Decorator) who RETABLEs (39A: Postpone again) the Z-BAR (34D: Letter-shaped beam, my most hated of clues!) , but that stuff seems fairly overlookable, given the final result.

Bullets:
• 24A: Item for a guitarist or a prospector (PICK) — cute clue
• 37A: Golden State athlete (WARRIOR) — yesterday, Chris Mullin was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He was a Golden State WARRIOR as well as a 5-time NBA ALL-STAR (love that those answer are paired with one another)
• 51A: When Caesar is told to beware (ACT I) — I guess this was supposed to make me think IDES, but I had other problems down there (as I mentioned above).
• 6D: Spaghetti makers' implements (STRAINERS) — true enough.
• 23D: Neaten, as shirts at a men's store (REFOLD) — what you do before you RETABLE the shirt.
• 2D: Polo alternative (IZOD) — the shirt, not the sport.
• 45D: Biblical landfall (ARARAT) — Noah et al. "Landfall" is correct but sounds weird to my ears, conjuring up images of falling rocks ... while sounding like WINDFALL, which I guess ARARAT was, also, kind of.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

72 comments:

GILL I.

Oh Tuesday - Isn't she the red-headed child?
What's not to love about NIMBUS CLOUDS and PITTER PATTER?

Anonymous

Nice puzzle. But I can't get the image of radioactive particles raining down on me .. (Chernobyl).

Anonymous

... out of my head (it would seem)

dk
This comment has been removed by the author.
dk

Another contribution to the red-headed step child ranking for Tuesday.

My TIRADE begins with PEER, which you do with reading glasses, drips to RETABLE and TONERS then sloshing over to ADORNER.

I like HIRSUTE, FEN and RAIN dropping down.

** (2 Stars) I may be JADED.

Note: Today on NPR you will hear about text mining for content and mood. Let us just say you heard it here first. I have been mining this site for over a year using a SPSS text analyzer. My goal has been to determine our favorite and least favorite puzzle days. Tuesday is the least liked. Last year I also monitored the tone of our leader and its affect on posts for about 10 months. Expert and regular solvers tend to be aligned with Rex, anonymous posters are wildcards and new to the blog folks often disagree. I am now replicating that study using a chess site.

Still solving on-line as the flipping paper has yet to make it to my door.

Sparkydog77

Raindrops keep falling on my head, along with the fallout from Chernobyl and other matters radioactive. I'm all stream of consciousness today.........new Radiohead CD playing in the background.....and the 40-Across drove my bonkers: Court VIP being NBA ALL STAR. I had the STAR part first and was caught up in courtroom dramas, ala WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION, and kept thinking STAR WITNESS or some other such nonsense.

Isn't that delovely? Meanwhile, I'm adjourning to the kitchen to put my ORANGES through my STRAINERS. LOL.

Anonymous

This was not the easy-medium as Rex said. It was not your average Tuesday. Flowerlady9

chefbea

Did this puzzle while horrendous weather warning in effect. The rain was certainly not going pitter patter. Couldn't even see out the window. It's over now.

Very easy puzzle. Is this a debut puzzle? Don't recognize the name

Tobias Duncan

@dk I want to hear so much more about this text mining operation of yours,tuning in to NPR so I can have a better idea what you are talking about.
Solving this last night before I went to bed was no help.It felt toughish for a tues, fell for every damn misdirection.Really dislike puzzles that start with self referencing theme answers. Cant complain too much, its a fine puzzle, I am just bitter because my time sucked.

joho

I thought this to be a most enjoyable Tuesday ... hey, and let's stop with the anti redhead comments!

E.J. Masciampo came up with a very dense theme and executed it beautifully (minus the dreaded RETABLE.)

Also, with all the RAIN we've been having it seems timely, something I'll bet Will had in mind when he ran this now.

Loved CROSS crossing APSE.

Nice job!

mmorgan

I enjoyed this and agree completely with everything @Rex said.

I had some minor bumps and blocks up top... for some reason it took me a while to find the missing letter in U_RAINIAN -- perhaps because it was vertical. I kept trying to get URANIUM in there somehow (assuming it MUST have something to do with Chernobyl). And ADORNER did not just pop out fully formed!

But the HAZIEST CLOUDS OVERRAN the ARAB FERTIZILER ...

Judith

@mmorgan had the exact same problem with UKRAINIAN. My aversion to sports didn't help me get ranking either, so I was stuck with Ranning, which of course made no sense. Had to run through half the alphabet to figure that one out before my DOH moment.

I think the puzzle is cute, and I pretty much always like Rex's musical selections.

Bob Kerfuffle

Very nice puzzle.

I see I was not alone in putting in TANS before SUNS, and I did put in IDES before ACTI. Was I the only one who also fell for RAJ before HAJ at 13 D?

Before completing the puzzle, I suspected that 63 & 64 A would be SPLISH SPLASH!

@dk - There is an awful lot of programming on NPR stations. Could you be a little more specific? (Would also help in looking up online if one cannot stay tuned all day!)

OldCarFudd

I was surprised to find myself in agreement with Rex today. I assumed he'd grouse, not only about the circles, but about the same word appearing four times in those circles. But he liked it, and so did I. Debut?

quilter1

I rate it easy, also very enjoyable. I solved acrosses first, then the downs from the bottom up and finished in the NW where I had stalled myself by putting in blase at 18A. I thought it was a pretty great word for a Tuesday. But the crosses wouldn't let it stand so I changed it to bored. Still not right, but then remembered The RAJ and all the clouds disappeared.
But even without blase there were lots of other great words. I agree the CROSS crossing APSE was nice and the clue for PICK clever.

miesses: what is created when I write in blase instead of JADED.

John V

A fun puzzle. Especially liked, "Rhythm of the Rain"; took me right back to high school record hops of my sophomore year.

Liked Ukrainian. Don't recall having seen it before, but fell right in.

Bob Kerfuffle

@OldCarFudd and others inclined to ask about constructors, debuts, etc - The Wordplay blog, for which Rex has a convenient link under the heading "Daily Crossword Blogs", has an interview with and statement from debut constructor E.J. Masicampo, and in general is a good source of info about constructors

jackj

Intended to rant about the RE entries (RETABLE and REFOLD) and their evil twin, ER entry (ADORNER) but Rex beat me to it.

Maybe a redundant rant strengthens the viewpoint.

HIRSUTE and FIERCE are rarely seen but interesting words and NBAALLSTAR nicely combined three separate bits of fill into a clever full monty display.

Overall, a memorable debut by Mr. Masicampo.

fikink

RETABLE could have been clued with reference to an altarpiece and been far more legit, but perhaps that would be too obscure for a Tuesday.
All kinds of good meaty words in this puzzle: HIRSUTE, TIRADE, RETABLE, NIMBUS, JADED, ARARAT, HAZIEST, FEN, with RAIN all downs to PITTER PATTER on the floor of the puzzle. I liked it!

Matthew G.

Great debut puzzle! My solving experience was pretty much like Rex's: got the theme early, filled in all the RAIN immediately and therefore expected a record time, but it didn't happen. Average Tuesday time.

Glad to see PITTER PATTER for once instead of the godawful crossword demon PIT-A-PAT.

JaxInL.A.

This constructor has a very cool name.  One of my favorite humans has the initials E.J., and Masciampo just sings (gotta be Italian, right?) Nice, elegant debut.

I am definitely getting better at this.  I doubt myself less, and my impulses are correct much more of the time than, say, a year ago.  Of course, having said that, I will be smitten by a nasty Wednesday puzzle that everyone rates as easy and falls completely outside my ken.  But for the moment I'm feeling chuffed, as the Brits would say.

So clearly, I liked the puzzle. When I had NI_B__ for 1A, I hoped we might get Niobe's tears, but NIMBUS CLOUDS dropping their RAIN gently to the ground is plenty cool.

No objectionable fill, and the initials all had real meanings.  Getting your AARP invitation in the mail has become a rite of passage in America.  Unlike most people I know, I didnt get mine until I was nearly 51 and I'd had time to adjust to the idea.  I hate that IED has entered the vernacular.

Hand up for ides before ACT I. @The Bard?

Congrats to Doug Peterson on a wonderful CS puzzle today with a glowing write-up over at @Orange's place.

Shamik

I love this blog. I love Rex. I love crosswords. Especially, I love dk and sanfranman.

Just when I think I'm keeping too many statistics, someone comes along and trumps me by many miles and programs to do the work for them. It is such a pleasure to tell the puzzle husband here that there is someone more into checking out a statistic than I am.

Oh yes, the puzzle. I see no one complaining the Lewis Carroll could have had a character named SNURK! This would make infested an adjective and not a past tense verb. Found this error a full minute after finishing the puzzle. So that one mistake took this puzzle from medium-challenging to very challenging for me today. Felt so much more like a Thursday.

What crosswordese was in it was made up by the theme and its positioned title and sound. Liked HIRSUTE, JADED, UKRAINIAN and HAZIEST. Good debut puzzle, E.J. (We're on a first initial basis--haha).

JaxInL.A.

Oops. So sorry for mis-typing the constructor's name. Masicampo. Masicampo.

For anyone who wants a manageable and engaging intro to the complex history and frustrating challenges of the modern Middle East, I can make no higher recommendation than Leon Uris' The HAJ. It's a novel to which Uris beings all of his skill at building flawed, passionate characters and multi-layered plots. I may just re-read it, now that I have this reminder of it.

@BobK, my radio is always tuned to NPR'S daily news shoe Morning Edition when I check this blog, and just as I started reading @dk's comment I became aware that the story she mentions was playing at that moment.  Nifty.

But hey, that means she's studying us? Wow.

Anonymous

Aren't HIRSUTE & HAIRY just different variations of the same word? Seems inappropriate to use as clue/answer of each other.

Anonymous

Wow! I just read Sam Donaldson's write up at the link provided by JaxinL.A. above (10:36 AM).

More than just an evaluation of Doug Peterson's puzzle, it is a short course in what makes a good puzzle in general, or to paraphrase Michael Feldman, "What you should have learned from Rex Parker, had you been paying attention."

Nothing really new, but a good grounding in crosswords, which if everyone read would spare us a lot of "Why is Rex so cranky about this?" or "Why didn't Rex like that?", etc.

Two Ponies

Very nice debut and on a Tuesday as well. Tuesdays are the toughest shoes to fill.
The NE tipped this one more toward Medium. I was unfamiliar with the scientist.
Continuing with the damp theme we also had fen, reeds in a bog, and mires.
@ dk, I am interested in learning more about your program and the results.

the redanman

Only Easy-Medium if you are a full week crossword geek. Many obtuse clues - sanfranman with his stats will prove otherwise, no doubt.

Better than no puzzle or a puzzle not finished, but definitely geared to the experienced puzzler.

Anony-mouse

@JaxinL.A. - according to dk's Blogger profile, "she" is in fact a he.

JaxInL.A.

Just messin' up personal details all over the place today.

But all my links work!

CoffeeLvr

I am no fan of circles, but at least these look like RAIN drops. Very impressive debut.

william e emba

One (incredibly tiny) gripe is that the puzzle continues the practice of giving prominence to GNP over GDP. GNP has long been deprecated by economists, and the US switched to GDP 20 years go already. (Most of the civilized world had switched long before.)

Normally when I do a puzzle, I leave G-P blank in the middle, despite knowing it will of course be N, never D. Well, this time I saw 17 across was going to be a past tense, so I filled in the D. Oops.

No, this is not a rant or TIRADE or the like. I simply suspect most constructors grew up hearing G-N-P and haven't even heard of G-D-P. It's sort of like if the puzzles were still stuck on opera.

I highly recommend the recent biography The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul DIRAC, Mystic of the Atom. He was one of the BRAINIEST ever. And definitely one of the strangest, as the title says.

And speaking of brainy and strange, my favorite FEN is Gervase. Also highly recommended, especially if you love classical music and/or teach Shakespeare.

Rube

What with trying tans, Ides, & Cirrus first, I would rate this Medium or more. Also, with RETABLE, REFOLD, and ADORNER, as well as the questionablle Z-BAR, I would say the fill was mediocre.

Did get DIRAC off the "C" and NBAALLSTAR off of a few letters, but those were the highlights of my solve. HAZIEST and the NW were the toughest for me.

Anoa Bob

Liked the puzzle overall. RETABLE didn't ring true but the real fingernails-on-the-chalkboard for me was 34D Z BAR "Letter-shaped beam". I've never seen a beam/bar shaped like the letter zee. It would be very unstable structurally. The first google lists a Zbar snack food. There is a construction product called Zbar, but the "Z" designates its anti-corrosion properties, not its shape.

JenCT

@Shamik: I made the exact same mistake with SNURK/OVERRUN instead of SNARK. I never did find the mistake before coming here.

Also had FLOATUP before CREEPUP - must be the wet weather...

Kendall

I liked this puzzle less than I think most of you. Definitely felt harder than Easy-Medium to me as well, coming in at my 3rd slowest Tuesday ever. This might be due to putting in SPLISH/SPLASH in place of PITTER/PATTER, or any of the other writeovers I had.

Could not get CREEP UP for 57A as I had just finished a math class when doing this and could only picture graphs and thus wanted an answer pertaining to graph theory. That didn't help the already difficult SW corner for me.

On the other hand I really liked that the circles were all vertical and seemed like they could be raindrops.

Greene

I liked the puzzle quite a bit. Had the same missteps as many have described above. I thought the puzzle skewed a bit on the difficult side, but I keep trying to solve with no sleep which is probably not very wise.

True lovers of musical theater cannot see the words PITTER PATTER without thinking of Bernadette Peters singing "Raining in My Heart" from that completely adorable send-up of 1930s Hollywood film musicals Dames at Sea. Well, at least I can't. I'll warn you in advance: the clip is kind of corny, but in a very sweet and earnest way. I get very nostalgic when I see Peters do this number because it takes me right back to my 15th birthday seeing her do this show at the Theatre de Lys off-Broadway. What a happy time.

mac

I found it easy, only one write-over, fierce for ferile, but I also ended up with the snurk/overrun mistake. Very good puzzle, though.

@chefbea: I was thinking pasta machine for the spaghetti clue!

Hirsute was great. I wonder if it means something less unpleasant in French? I once laughed when a woman in Paris used the word, indicating she badly needed a haircut, but she didn't seem to find it funny. @Foodie?

Maybe I'm the only one, but pitter - patter makes me think of little feet.

santafefran

@Shamik--put me down for having to find SNURK as well and finding this puzzle challenging. But then I seem to be the HAZIEST today and not the BRAINIEST.

Had TANS,IDES, CIRRUS, TENNISALLSTARS, AND BRILLIANT before correcting them.

Hope no one is working this puzzle in the Fla. House of Representatives since their GOP has banned the use of the word UTERUS (???) and the puzzle has multiples of them.

Enjoyed the puzzle once I got a foothold.

rettio--let's go

Two Ponies

@ mac, I'm right with you on the pasta machine and little feet.
@ Greene, I love your passionate comments regarding the theater.

syndy

GRR circles on a tuesday and I hate circles hmm nimbus other must be clouds! mmm and rain and pitter-patter how easy can you get!!GRRR hey thats a pretty cool word, like that one .whats happening? still ADORNER? ACTually I kinda liked retable it actually means something(city council retables things all the time)feel for the ides big time!and for awhile I hadnt the fogiest

andrain carla michaels

@greene
Peters' Pitter Patter perfect!

Enjoyed the construction tho I admit I wanted the very bottom of the puzzle to be Puddle, as I imagine a PITTERPATTER as being against window panes or on the roof.

Will have to check out this NPR thing, but @jaxinla, I have it on very good account that @dk is quite male! ;) You ARE new to the blog!
(On the other hand, I had assumed you were male till you mentioned a husband, not that that would necessarily mean female, but I'm gonna assume so till Prop 8 is put to bed (I suddenly can't remember if it bans gays marriage or allows it, not personally believing in marriage to begin with!))

And I guess I must read @dk's study, bec I feel I'm not overly influenced by what @Rex says, even tho many times he is scarily word for word in my head...but today's puzzle for example, I spent more time wondering if he'd like or hate than I did doing the actual puzzle! I could totally see it going either way!

The "red-headed stepchild" comments remind me of this crazy Phillip guy on "Survivor" right now who either was/ or is delusional about being a special agent for the government...and he constantly uses the phrase (in reference to himself).

Doc John

Fun puzzle.
I was particularly happy to see the word UTERI, seeing as how Florida seems to have declared a moratorium on it.

Stan

Solid debut!

Staring out a skyful of nimbostratus and fog, I liked the repetetiveness of RAIN, RAIN, RAIN, RAIN. My feelings exactly. Who needs anagrams?

Recently, the following conversation took place in our soggy back yard--

@Stan: "When life gives you rice paddies..."
@Arundel: "Make risotto!"

Leslie

I'm so glad Rex liked this puzzle. So did I.

I have a sister who's seven years younger than I am. When she was a little girl, our grandmother cross-stitched a matching set of samplers with our names on them. Mine said, "Pitter patter, drops of rain," and my sister's said, "Joyous laughter, sunshine again."

I always, always felt bad that mine was the "drops of rain" and my sister's was the "joyous laughter." Oh, well ...

GILL I.

@andrain carla michaels
"Peters' Pitter Patter perfect!
A three - 2 ply kleenex !
@Greene
I'm new to the blog but have been following Mister Rex for some time. Add me to those that thoroughly enjoy your input.
P.S. @Joho - I was a Tuesday child born with red hair...

Lindsay

I dunno. While I appreciate the intellectual coherence of the theme, today's puzzle struck me as sterile. The answers aren't humorous or inventive or thought-provoking. Strainers? Brainiest? Trainstop?

Sort of like a bauhaus-y building; critics may praise its technical merit, but in the end, it's just not that much fun to be around.

chefwen

Like @Rex I thought this one was Monday easy. Hand up for OVERRuN but for some reason SNARK popped into my brain and I fixed it before finishing. Only other write up was the usual tans before SUNS. Really wanted BRAINIAC at 31D but I just couldn't stretch it far enough.

What @joho said, let's not pick on that poor red headed kid. Granted, mine is pretty much out of a bottle these days, but it used to be real.

chefwen

Oops - How about write-over not write up.

Joe

PITTER PATTER.
"Pitter Patter Petrie" episode of the old Dick Van Dyke Show, anyone?

JenCT

@Anoa Bob: I've seen Z BARS used for hanging mirrors, I think. I definitely wanted T or I first.

@Leslie: your grandmother probably had no idea that the pattern she picked bothered you - amazing how perceived childhood slights? insults? stay with us, isn't it?

dk

@acme, i will deliver the report in person... date to follow.

sanfranman59

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 10:35, 8:57, 1.18, 90%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:38, 4:36, 1.23, 97%, Challenging

Definitely not an Easy-Medium Tuesday by this method. It will probably finish the day close to the top 5 highest median solve times for both groups of solvers among the 94 Tuesdays in my spreadsheet. I was surprised at his rating when I read Rex's write-up today. I was pretty tired when I solved it last evening, but it sure seemed like an unusually challenging Tuesday to me.

(@Shamik ... thanks for the love!)

LOrtiz

Rex, I am curious about how much solving on paper has slowed you down. (Not much but a bit, obviously).

I've been solving on paper recently, and I hate it. Like most people, I am so used to typing that I can barely write by hand anymore.

I hate printing out the crosswords every day; it's not exactly eco-friendly.

So, would you please share: (a) an approx of how much longer it takes to solve by hand; and (b)your views on whether this is an outmoded way of solving. The latter is my view, and obviously everyone on this blog knows how to type.

I don't think having tournaments with handwritten puzzles is necessary. I imagine it also creates many more problems in judging the crosswords than it would if everybody typed. The results would be more accurate and quicker.

It's not as though my ancient aunt who only uses ink is going to fail at the ACPT because she has never seen a key board. (Actually, my ancient aunt wouldn't dream of solving on paper.)

What do you think? Time the ACPT hauled its ass into the 21st century?

Sfingi

@Mac - also thought of pasta machine, since spaghetti makers do more than heat up packaged spaghetti. Not that I ever used one. I use the strainer or collander. My husband's family called it something that sounded like skoolaBAS.

chefbea

@LOrtiz I vote for paper and pen/pencil

quilter1

I was surprised that so many found difficulty today. I enjoyed it, even my little tussle at the end.

Introducing new avatar, Stars and Stepping Stones, made awhile back for a wonderful boss.

GILL I.

Quilter 1
It's beautiful.

Rex Parker

I can see how this puzzle might have taken people longer based on the kind of puzzle it is (i.e. it takes some thought to get the theme, and you *need* to get the theme to finish the puzzle, unlike w/ many early-week puzzles), but I don't see anything that looks like true Difficulty. Anywhere. At all. Cake walk, as so many here have stated. Note that there is hardly any talk of sticking points today, and certainly nothing like consensus about hard parts. Theme type creates the longer solving times, but this puzzle isn't *tougher* than an avg. Tuesday by any stretch of the imagination.

And dk's "text mining" of this site makes me giddy. I can't wait to read a full report (someday...?).

rp

Lindsay

LOrtiz --- Do you look forward to the Brave New World in which people take nutrition by pill, rather than via outmoded meals?

I don't.

Sfingi

I'm almost afraid to say I thought it was easy. Had a little trouble around the RETABLE NAME ZBAR area, since somehow I believed there was such a thing as a Zrod and had NotE for NAME, but I saw the theme right away, even thinking Masicampo made it too easy by repeating RAIN, rather than using words like "drop," say; because then you could fill in the multiple RAINs and get the other answers by crosses.
Of course, I can't believe I got NBA ALL STARS right away. Not that I know what or who they are...

@Quilter - just gave away a pile of scraps, realizing I'll never make a quilt.

GLR

@LOrtiz,

Interesting - I typically complete a puzzle faster on paper than on the computer. Even after solving (mostly) on the computer for about a year, I still find moving around the grid and changing directions somewhat cumbersome.

I'm not usually all that concerned about my time, so I prefer using the computer because it's neater (I tend to rewrite a lot) and saves a little paper.

fikink

@quilter1, got your post on my Blackberry while in Mt. Pleasant. I had to bring up your profile on my computer when I got home. The quilt is magnificent!

nanpilla

If I'm not able to print a puzzle out, I won't even bother to do it. I simply hate doing it on the computer. The sound of the pencil scratching on the paper is music to my ears. I prefer printing it out over doing it in the newspaper. Newsprint isn't nearly as satisfying, and I find it easier to read on white paper. I guess the ACPT suits me perfectly, because that is how I do the puzzle every day.

This puzzle had a nice graphic quality to it, and seemed just right for a Tues to me.

calcula - if Isaac had been a girl.

mac

I do the NYT in the paper, then at least two more puzzles online. I've noticed that I have a better sence of the puzzle and long answers on paper than online. A very easy puzzle is faster online (mostly across, I guess), a hard one faster on paper for me. Paper is MUCH more enjoyable to me.

fikink

@mac, @nanpilla, Plus that you can take puzzles on paper into the bathtub - heaven!

Two Ponies

I copy the puzzle from the newspaper at work. I love my paper and pen.
I find the scrolling of on-line solving frustrating. I like to scan all of the clues at once.
If tournaments were on computers I would always have a bit of doubt because of cheating/hacking possibility.
But in many ways I am a dinosaur.

retired_chemist

I too am surprised at SanFranMan59's finding that this was challenging. I was a bit slower than I expected for a Tuesday, but I thought it was me and not the puzzle's difficulty. I'd agree with the easy-medium. Once you get any part of the theme, the rest follows easily.

Z-BAR? Really? I don't argue, but it seems structurally pointless. Hand up for liking the two NBA references adjoined. Also hand up for IDES @ 51A. And for disliking ADORNER and RETABLE.

But the theme and the rest of the fill were top notch. Thumbs up, Mr. Masicampo.

sanfranman59

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, 6:54, 0.88, 8%, Easy
Tue 10:46, 8:57, 1.20, 91%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:27, 3:41, 0.94, 27%, Easy-Medium
Tue 5:33, 4:36, 1.21, 95%, Challenging

Lortiz

Very funny, Lindsay. You couldn’t drag me out of the kitchen to replace cooking and eating unless that pill you’re suggesting has been proven to eliminate belly fat in six weeks or less. And tastes like fresh organic baby spinach leaves with cherry tomatoes in a warm raspberry vinaigrette, topped with 1” round croutons that have been smeared with chevre, sprinkled with black pepper and broiled until the cheese is almost bubbly.

Where was I?

Right. Pills are not likely to replace food in my kitchen.

However, and with total respect to everyone who voted for paper and pen, times have changed since the first ACPT and solving on paper seems not only anachronistic but a sinful wasteful of resources, especially if you are doing it several times a day. (Boy, did I ever attend Catholic school; that sentence wrote itself.)

Think of the poor trees! Think of the toner/ink cartridges! Think of people like me who don’t know how to write!

@fikink: Don’t boast. Not seemly. If I took my dinosaur body and the puzzle to a tub, it’s a toss-up which would be waterlogged first.

Anonymous

Finally, in all the years I've been doing puzzles, I've been waiting to see my dear Dirac show up. I see this is the second time he has been clued but the first puzzle that I've actually done that he is in.

As someone above mentioned, the book, The Strangest Man, is well worth it. I've met people who have met Dirac and they the description is universal.

Dirac has been my own personal idol and hero and I own everything he's ever written (except his book on spinors) and they are all very enjoyable to read. This puzzle was awesome.

Anonymous

Well, our local newspaper seems to require a new proofreader as not only did we not have the circles, we didn't even get numbered squares.

However, once I solved that problem, I found it fairly simple.

Dirigonzo

I am a syndicated solver with a well established weakness for redheads (this has caused me some trouble from time to time) so I liked this puzzle. I did think some of the clues were more than Tuesday hard but everything worked out with help from the theme and some easy crosses.

I thought the governor of Maine had committed the most offensive political act when he banished a mural celebrating Maine's labor movement from public display because he disagreed with its "pro-labor" (or "anti-business", to him) theme. But I have to say I think banishing the word "uterus" in the Florida House of Representatives as reported above by @santafefran and @Doc John seems even more egregious. I wonder what their GOP used as a rationale?

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