Irish-born Tony winner Patrick / MON 5-23-11 / Bridge hand assessment / Online chat components / Much-kissed rock

Monday, May 23, 2011

Constructor: Steve Salitan

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (significantly above my avg. time—still well under 4 min.)

THEME: GOOD / LUCK (28D: With 37-Down, what 17-, 24-, 47- and 58-Across are all said to bring) — self-explanatory

Word of the Day: Patrick MAGEE (42A: Irish-born Tony winner Patrick) —

Patrick Magee (31 March 1922 – 14 August 1982) was a Northern Irish actor best known for his collaborations with Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter, as well as his appearances in horror films and in Stanley Kubrick's films A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon. // Born Patrick McGee in Armagh, Northern Ireland, he changed his name to Magee for the stage. His first stage experience in Ireland was with Anew McMaster's touring company, performing the works of Shakespeare. It was here that he first worked with Pinter. // He was then brought to London by Tyrone Guthrie for a series of Irish plays. In 1957 he met Beckett and recorded some of his prose for BBC radio. Beckett was so excited with his voice that he wrote Krapp's Last Tape especially for him (it was recorded by the BBC in 1972). Beckett's biographer Anthony Cronin wrote that "there was a sense in which, as an actor, he had been waiting for Beckett as Beckett had been waiting for him." // In 1964, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, after Pinter, directing his own play The Birthday Party, specifically requested him for the role of McCann, and stated he was the strongest in the cast. In 1965 he appeared in Marat/Sade, and when the play transferred to Broadway it won him a Tony Award. He also appeared in the 1966 RSC production of Staircase opposite Paul Scofield. (wikipedia)
• • •

Did not care for this one so much. Overly straightforward theme combined with a very clunky solving experience combined with my complete ignorance of bridge (ugh) made this one less than thoroughly enjoyable. Was disenchanted right away with NUMBER SEVEN—even though people talk about "lucky NUMBER SEVEN" all the time, still the "number" part felt redundant and weird. Top two theme answers have clues that steer you away from GOOD LUCK (no one ever wished upon an "overnight success," for instance), while the bottom two theme answers do not allow for any such clue reimagining. There's only one BLARNEY STONE, and a RABBIT'S FOOT is a RABBIT'S FOOT is a RABBIT'S FOOT. This lack of cluing cohesion gives the puzzle a wobbly feel. Cross-referenced revealer was mildly annoying, though not what you'd call a flaw. General frame of reference in this puzzle is olde-timey (bridge-playing, old mayors, old actors, an extremely awkward clue on the only modern thing in the grid — 21A: Online chat components, for short (IMS); etc.). Double stack of bad plurals on top of a cruddy EuroRiver in the west didn't help matters. I enjoyed MASS MARKET (30D: Not a niche audience; reminds me of my vintage paperback collection) and FINAGLE (10D: Achieve through trickery) and very little else.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Mickey Mantle wore it (NUMBER SEVEN)
  • 24A: One who's an overnight success (SHOOTING STAR)
  • 47A: Much-kissed rock (BLARNEY STONE)
  • 58A: Common key chain adornment (RABBIT'S FOOT)

  • 1A: Foamy coffee order (LATTE)Do Not Like this clue. Yes, there is a small amount of foam on top of a LATTE, but I would not call a LATTE "foamy." A cappuccino, yes. A LATTE, no. P.S. RAPPERs do not drink LATTEs, but middle-aged white guys do. I had two just this past weekend. P.P.S. some RAPPERs probably do drink LATTEs. DJs too.
  • 57A: Common breast-pocket stain (INK) — I think this clue means "chest pocket." The ink stain happens on chest pockets, stereoptyically (i.e. nerdically). A "breast pocket" is "a pocket inside of a man's coat." I mean ... I'm sure there are INK stains in there too, but that inside pocket is *not* the one associate with INK stains.
  • 47D: Sudden charge in football (BLITZ) — that's *American* football. A sudden charge in the *other* football is called a "Messi":

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. Thanks to jesser and treedweller for covering for me this weekend while I attended the wedding of my good friend / former student / part-time assistant Donna in Bucks County, PA. In case you were wondering what all those photos were about (1. the cake we had made, based on the design on the invitation; 2. the ceremony itself; 3. Best Dog). Here are wife and post-playing-in-the-rain daughter:

See you tomorrow

PPPPPPS: I lost my phone this weekend in the wilderness of PA. Well, turns out I just left it in a cab. The company has my phone but "the boss doesn't like us" to mail phones to people even w/ promise of full remuneration, so I am looking for someone *very close* to Lansdale, PA to go get my damned phone from the taxi people. E-mail me at the rexparker at mac dot com address if this person is you. Reward: undying gratitude. [UPDATE: Nancy in PA to the rescue! Problem solved! Woohoo!]


Tobias Duncan 12:25 AM  

Welcome back Rex.totally with you on LATTEs and BREASTPOCKETs.

CY 12:44 AM  

I also found this slightly harder than the average Monday, although not too bad.

Point taken re LATTE, although in my relative coffee-ignorance, I had no trouble getting that clue. Re breast-pocket, I'd give the constructor the benefit of the doubt that he meant what he said. I do carry pens in my breast pocket often, and I'm sure lots of others do as well. It may not be the pocket most associated with ink stains, but that doesn't mean that ink is not the stain most associated with that pocket. Then again, maybe Rex is right, and he meant a shirt pocket.

(Tangentially, I don't really see a good reason for a distinction between a "chest pocket" and a "breast pocket"--after all, "chest" and "breast" are virtual synonyms here, aren't they? I'd submit that the most common term for the chest pocket of a shirt is simply "shirt pocket", which we can get away with because there's generally only one. We reserve "breast pocket" for jackets, not because it's more of a "breast pocket" than the one on shirts but because we need to distinguish between different types of jacket pockets.)

Initial wrong guesses: TOo right for TOBESURE ("No doubt"), MAinstReam for MASSMARKET (Not a niche audience), TUT TUT for TSK TSK ("For shame!").

Interesting clues: "John" for LAV was cute. G CLEF for treble sign was interesting. I looked that up in Wikipedia afterwards, and found out that the treble clef is actually a stylized G, centered on a line corresponding to a G note, thus indicating which lines of the staff correspond to which notes. I don't think I'd known that before.

I still don't know my Ute from my Oto. For that matter, I don't know my geography very well either--aside from a very, vague sense of "Midwest" (which in my head covered basically the whole US from Michigan to Nevada), I couldn't have told you where the Great Plains were. The ever-wonderful Wikipedia offers a handy map which affirms that Utah and most of Colorado do not lie in the Great Plains region, so it only my ignorance would have settled the Ute in Northeast Crossword. Definitely Oto territory.

Anonymous 1:04 AM  

Kissing the Blarney Stone endows you with the "gift of gab", nothing to do with good luck.

Princess Kosmonopolis 1:52 AM  

Hmmmh. This is not what Mondays are supposed to be like. Number Seven irked me too, for some unknown reason.

I did like Blarney Stone, but did not like Rabbit's Foot. I haven't seen one since I was something like five years old, and it grossed me out at the time and still does.

Tutu was cute and Monday-like, and I do not understand the quibble about breast vs. chest pockets. The answer was the same either way.

Glad you are back, Rex, although I did enjoy Jesser's fill-in, and Treedweller's too, altho I didn't do the Sunday puzzle....they are just too time-consuming....I have stacks of the magazines around here that I start to do, then think I will come back to, then never do....

Very creative cake!

chefwen 1:53 AM  

Yesterday we had the paw of a dead cat, today we have a poor rabbits foot, we need to stop dismembering poor, little animals.

Today was a breeze following the mind numbing Sunday puzzle. Only write over was BOGEY over BOGie.

CoffeeLvr 3:58 AM  

I had a little trouble in the middle. Had "shard" before RELIC, had no clue on BEAME.

I agree with you about the lack of foam on LATTEs, Rex.

I was really bothered with the mis-spelling of GIzMO, but the puzzle is using an accepted variant, per post-solve look-up.

Octavian Smee 4:25 AM  

Last Monday set the standard for great early-week puzzles. So anything else is going to be second-rate.

However this one was more like third-rate, with an overly obvious theme and no interesting fill.

As they say in soccer, "Unlucky!"

andrea carla mchaelz 5:10 AM  

Welcome back, Rex!

Share one raised eyebrow that OISE, BEAME, POINTCOUNT, APNEA found their way into a Monday puzzle...

I loved 42A bec it had BOTH TONY and PATRICK in the clue, Steve Salitan's two good puzzle buddies, so it had to be a shoutout to them!

(And as he is a lawyer, perhaps TORT and TRIES were shoutouts to himself!)

So, interesting to read about Patrick MAGEE. (Odd to change just one letter of his name, from MCGee to MAGee, as if that does anything, but confuse people...
Maybe his parents changed THEIR name from McGiZmo)

Speaking of name changes, if I were named John, I'd be having a complete fit to be the clue for 8D.

(BTW, I'm guessing I'm not the only one to have Loo for LAV?)

Anyway, I've always felt it's GOOD LUCK to have your puzzle in the Monday Times, so I say Mazel Tov, SS!

Lisa 6:50 AM  

I always called a "chest pocket" a breast pocket, and this is the first time I ever heard of chest pocket. Maybe it could be a regional thing?

JaxInL.A. 6:54 AM  

Very fun wedding pix, Rex. I particularly like the idea of a wedding party having a "best dog." That cake is adorable as, of course, is the family.

Can I find the clue for RIOS annoying? In a region of the world with significant indigenous (I.e. native) populations, none of which use Spanish, "Amazon and Orinoco, to natives" got my hackles up.

Indigenous peoples have a variety of words for "river" and names for the specific stretch of the vast Amazon eco-system that they call home (though the title of Amazon apparently comes from a Spanish conquistador's amazement to see the women of a local tribe fighting him along with the men).

The very word Orinoco (a place to paddle) comes from the Guarani language which is an official language of Paraguay and is spoken (if you include various dialects) by nearly 5 million people in Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina.

This could have been fixed if the clue had read "to locals" instead of "to natives." End of rant.

Happy Monday to all, including middle-aged white guys, DJs, and rappers. And of course Mr. Salitan.

Kareem 7:34 AM  

Welcome back, Rex. Concur with everyone else that this was a very "clunky" Monday. Never saw "gismo" so couldn't be frustrated with the alternate spelling. "Gclef" was just too easy after Sunday piano recitals for the kids. Some non-Monday fill for sure. I did like "tsktsk".

On a separate note, I did get an oddly rewarding rejection e-mail from Paula Gamache last week on behalf of Mr. Shortz. My first attempt at constructing a puzzle, so I was happy to finish it. Very nice and encouraging note that tactfully pointed out the weaknesses of the puzzle.

Question for fellow readers of this site, after you can go no further which is more acceptable, Google or "check word" on Across Lite? Just curious as those little black triangles make me feel guilty. Thanks.

Z 8:06 AM  

This seemed typical Monday to me until I read the comments. NUMBER SEVEN and POINT COUNT are right in my strengths, so I had a quick start. Did have two write overs, ILE (I didn't read the clue closely) and BOGIE.

@heroes... I do the puzzle in paper, so it is always google for me. I hate having to maneuver to see clues in AcrossLite.

joho 8:08 AM  

@Rex, I'm happy to see you're back and thank you for sharing the wedding pics ... looks like a lovely occasion for both humans and dog.

My favorite words today were BLITZ and FINAGLE.

@chefwen, you stole my grisly "paw" comment!

Speaking of GOOD LUCK, I have my fingers and toes crossed that tornadoes stay away!

tptsteve 8:40 AM  

I was ready to write "Number Seven" for Mantle's number, but had spelled "GISMO" at 6D with a Z, which had me shaking my head for a few minutes. After not seeing other number clues, I wasn't sure where this one was going, but in the end, I enjoyed it.

Nice to see a shout-out to my 'burb in 25D

Kurisu 8:44 AM  

I play Bridge, so POINT COUNT was a gimme; overall I found this to be a serviceable puzzle. It didn't bother me as much as it seems to have bothered others.

fikink 8:45 AM  

Like @Anon 1:04, I have only heard of the BLARNEY STONE in connection with "the gift of gab." Must research.

Thanks for explaining why this Monday took me so long, Rex. Thought I was forgetting how to solve.

Very crunchy, Mr. Salitan. Loved FINAGLE.

Glitch 8:50 AM  


Googling will more likely have you learn and remember for next time, uses more of your *mental pathways* ;)


John V 8:55 AM  

@Heros and History, when I can go no further, well, I just come here. My approach is that ehtier Googling or check word (which does not apply as I'm a paper solver) means running up the DNF flag.

I make this easy Monday, under 5 mins. As for 8D, @Andrea, I'm pleased to be called anything, just happy to be this side of the rapture, is what I'm saying.

efrex 8:59 AM  

Very mediocre puzzle in my book. Initially having UTE instead of OTO and NUMBERTHREE instead of NUMBERSEVEN (Mantle, Ruth... look, I'm a Mets fan - whattaya want?) made for a messy looking completed grid, and the OISE, ISL, TAE, OONA, ENE stuff didn't raise my spirits a whole lot. TOBESURE, this puzzle FINAGLEd a TSKTSK out of me...

OldCarFudd 9:05 AM  

Gee, everyone's grumpy today! Too damn much rain for too damn long, I guess. I saw the theme right away, and it helped with the solve. That's unusual for me; I normally solve and then learn what the theme was.

Re Blarney stone and gift of gab: In 1977 I took my kids bicycling in Ireland for three weeks. A colleague at work asked if I was going to kiss the Blarney stone. My boss said: "He doesn't need to." Hmm-m-m.

I can accept gismo spelled either way, but prefer the z. Agree we now need a break from taxidermized feet.

chefbea 9:12 AM  

Found this very easy!! Agree with the latte cappucino discussion.

Tom 9:17 AM  

I didn't find this puzzle too difficult (maybe it was GOOD LUCK).I seem to have a mental block on OTO for some reason, that fill seems to come up a lot. 52A I wanted TSA, what is ARR?

quilter1 9:18 AM  

I, too, have been gone for a couple of days and am getting caught up on puzzles. This one was a typical easy Monday for me. I guess I just had the right knowledge base. But I agree it was ho-hum.
FINAGLE was the best word and GISMO looked misspelled to me.
I am not germophobic but we skipped the Blarney Stone--too much ugh factor.

Rex, you are not middle aged. No where near yet. Good pix.

My captcha is QUILT! My day is made.

jackj 9:29 AM  

This puzzle lists four things which are reputed to bring a person GOODLUCK.

Seeing RABBITSFOOT as one of them it raises an interesting question, “If your deceased rabbits foot is a symbol of good luck, why is your deceased cats paw disgusting?”.

thursdaysd 9:30 AM  

This was a walk in the park after yesterday's DNF. Totally miffed about GIZMO, though, have never seen it spelled with an "S". I had iAn for LAV initially, as I had the "A" before I read the clue, and I seem to remember Ian is Scots for John.

Agree about the latte - I drink macchiatos, nothing but coffee and foam. Pleased by FINAGLE and GAMUT, less pleased by TSKTSK.

Torbach 9:45 AM  

Nice to see the happy family here - someone looks to have had a nice weekend!

Also nice to see Steve's solo debut - I liked the novel positioning of GOOD LUCK on the flanks, and the aforementioned FINAGLE, BLITZ & TSKTSK that offset the abbrs. and other nits noted by the cavalier cavilers (yes, CAVALIERCAVILER is 15 letters, if anyone's feeling a theme brewing - just give me a shout-out, OK?).

EfRex? All I ask is that you spell "whattya" with dees next time. Even the New York-busting Southern dandy, Tom Wolfe, managed that spelling in "Bonfire of the Vanities". That you're a Met fan? I'll give you a pass on the spelling! Just thinking ... maybe if the clue had referenced Ed Kranepool instead?

Happy puzzling,
Tony O.

conomist 9:48 AM  

Yet another solver quite annoyed by GISMO. That's just gross. Especially on a Monday.

Judith 9:55 AM  

Rex, so sorry to hear about your phone. I had to pay a cab fare in San Francisco to have mine returned. (I shouldn't get drunk and take cabs)

But more importantly, what a great pic of your wife and adorable daughter!

Bridge is a lot of fun, more thinking than euchre, and you're always learning.

Kurisu 9:58 AM  

@TM: It took me a while to remember the vowel-heavy Indian tribes (CREE, OTOE, TAOS, and UTES). The only one of those I've heard outside of crosswords is CREE (which is used in Iron Maiden's "Run to the Hills")

retired_chemist 10:16 AM  

I found myself strangely unannoyed by this puzzle. A little over the top for a Monday, as other said, but not IMO unreasonable.

After NUMBER SEVEN I guessed the theme as having phrases containing a number, so I plunked down ONE HIT WONDER @ 24A. Easily corrected since all but one letter would fail to fit the obvious crosses. TUT TUT (46A) also fixed similarly.

No prob with POINT COUNT - used to play a lot of bridge. OMAR Sharif is a bridge player of some repute, which suggests a clue for 32A that REALLY would have p***ed the bridgeophobes off.

Never heard of Black Swan - thought it must be a ballet from the answer. Nope. it's a role in Swan Lake and in a movie of the same name. At any rate, the thought of a large bird in a TUTU was one of my solving highlights. A BOROGOVE, maybe....

santafefran 10:23 AM  

@OldCarFudd--TO BE SURE, I wish we could FINAGLE a way to transfer some of your over-abundance of rain to NM. Since the beginning of the year we have had just .56 inches of rain here in Santa Fe and I am sure that I have jinxed further precip by buying a new 100 gallon rain barrel.

@Heroes and History--I get little red triangles when I word-check on AcrossLite which is what I often resort to on Fridays and Saturdays.
Breezed through today's puzzle with no red triangles. Took me slightly longer than most Monday puzzles but no writeovers.

Thanks for a pleasant solve, Mr. Salitan!

santafefran 10:26 AM  

Pleasant except for GISMO without the ZZZZZZ!

Two Ponies 10:34 AM  

OK for a Monday.
Ditto on the nits, esp. giZmo.
Did not care for the clue for at sea. Bamboozled means something else to me.

hazel 10:39 AM  

@rex - should have had that phone in your breast pocket!

i liked this puzzle fine, even if it is a bit of a hodge podge -what with the Blarney Stone issues mentioned above and Rex's point abt shooting stars - making wishes on them  seems a little different from them being lucky. birthday candles?

Anyway, all that and it still didn't bother me too much because i just like the concept of good luck.  i have my own lucky talismen given me by v. special people.  i like to think they bring me luck or at least a measure of comfort as they travel with me to each and every doctor's appointment.

LiveStrong fellow warriors! Together we're bigger than Lance now. He may not be a good man, but he's done some really good things.

joho 10:46 AM  

@Torbach, thanks for the heads up regarding this being a solo debut.

Congratulations, Steve Salitan!

Martin 10:55 AM  

Did you know that Will Shortz has a primary dictionary reference? The Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition gets first dibs on the language. Other dictionaries can justify a word the RHUD doesn't list, but a listing will normally not be ignored. Every game needs a banker.

Anyway, according to the RHUD the word is "gismo." "Gizmo" is an "also." This pretty much prevents signaling GISMO as a variant or otherwise weird word.

No, I don't know anyone who really spells it "gismo."

Two Ponies 11:04 AM  

Not only is gizmo spelled with a Z in my little corner of the universe but it is also pronounced with a Z.

fikink 11:11 AM  

I spell it "thingamajig"

Pete 11:17 AM  

@Martin - Yes, we do. We all do. Each and every one of us. We were born with that knowledge encoded within our DNA, and have had it reinforced daily throughout our lives.

Do you not understand that what we do here is register our own little, sometimes petty, sometimes important, take on the puzzle. We sometimes express this with a little hyperbole because it's more fun that way.

syndy 11:20 AM  

Are you allowed to reference other clues in a Monday puzzle? I would not be kissing that blarney stone unless I'd brought a sanitizing agent and a scrub brush-Ive heard stories!@h&H yeah I think google lesser evil-check function=dnf (also coming here)Hand up for Bridge-tell Warren Buffet and Bill Gates how Ugh it is!Still think the fact that it was DICKENS own cat gave it that extra YEECH factor

Arundel 11:28 AM  

Hey, if there's a challenging Monday to be had, I'm all for it. Nice going, Steve Sallitan, despite the S in GISMO. There was just no junk in this one, and it was all there in the crosses. Very smooth and satisfying!

As Peter Sagal said Saturday on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me", since we're all still here, it looks like either we didn't make the cut, or else this is heaven. I always imagined heaven was warm and sunny, with puffy little clouds, not this constant rain and gloom...

JC66 11:33 AM  

More like a Tuesday than a Monday for me.


"even though people talk about "lucky NUMBER SEVEN" all the time, still the "number" part felt redundant and weird."

As you point out people say lucky NUMBER SEVEN all the time and ballpark announcers' inroductions of players always include their numbers, so no redundancy here.

Clark 11:44 AM  

I liked it. It didn't seem slow or even particularly crunchy. It's all breast pocket to me. And since I am a terrible speller -- GIZMO, GISMO -- it's all good.

Thanks @treedweller and @jesser. You guys done good. And what a lovely picture of wife and daughter. Sandy, you are one of my favorite parts of this blog. Your occasional comments remind me that there is multiple simultaneous household puzzle solving going on. Warms my heart.

jesser 12:00 PM  

To echo SantaFeFran: We here in sunny southern NM officially broke our record for consecutive dry days today -- 109 and counting. Send the rain our way, please!

The puzzle was, for me, not as problematic as for others. I liked the GOOD LUCK brackets on the center sides, and the theme seemed solid enough for me, since all four theme entries are, in my little reptilian brain, associated with good luck (if not good sense, sanitation or humane treatment of animals).

GISMO looks crasy spelled like that.

Thanks again to Rex for the write-up privilege Saturday, and for all the nice comments! Great fun!

Matthew G. 12:04 PM  

Never, ever, ever seen GISMO-with-an-S before. I find it listed in my very permissive dictionary as an acceptable variant, but after Googling I cannot find a single instance of it being used in a sentence (note that I am not talking about the number of Google hits -- which is an irrelevant stat -- but about finding one actual site where GISMO is used as an actual word in an actual sentence). In short: weak, dude. That needed a "Var." slapped on the clue if it had to be used at all.

(Can a GISMO, unlike a GIZMO, safely be fed after midnight?)

I agree that this felt more like a Tuesday. But other than really (really really) hating on GISMO, I liked this puzzle fine. Didn't find the NUMBER in NUMBER SEVEN to be redundant or weird because of exactly the reason Rex dismisses. It's true that the first two theme clues are more oblique than the latter two, but since none of the clues directly adverts to luck, I was fine with it.

Weirdest moment of the solve: seeing the XXL while in speed-solve mode, not thinking about whether it made sense as a Roman numeral, and just writing in FIFTY before moving on. I am weird.

Lewis Carroll 12:04 PM  

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.
"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

JaxInL.A. 12:11 PM  

Thanks, @r_c, for mentioning BOROGOVES and reminding me of my favorite entry in the puzzle.

quilter1 12:12 PM  

And why do we say cat's paw and rabbit's foot? and yes, the letter opener thing was icky. Imagine using it! Those Victorians.
Its not heaven, its Iowa.

KarenSampsonHudson 12:38 PM  

You do have a widely distributed fan base, Rex! Glad to hear your phone is on its way home.
This puzzle took more than my alloted time for Monday. I finished it but not with the usual sigh of satisfaction.

foodie 1:03 PM  

Rex, I think the juxtaposition of your friend's wedding with a theme of good luck is a lovely coincidence. The cake with the blue birds of happiness is a lot of fun. I love the shot through the bell. Family, including dog, all look happy and relaxed. Seems like what a wedding should be-- fun with low stress level!

The rap vs. middle aged white person drinking preferences sidebar is very funny. As Eminem turns into a middle aged white person, I wonder what he'll drink?

Wow, I never stopped to think that you have people who know you everywhere, probably within 15 miles of anything you want to get to in these United States! Amazing! (Well, may be not in Alaska?)

I propose that the PAW OF A GNU become the good luck charm for Rexville!

John V 1:14 PM  

@Matthew G, I, too, wrote in FIFTY for L in XXL, which is okay as part of my on-going post-rapture fey.

CoffeeLvr 1:20 PM  

If you take a close look at the wedding cake (thanks for the pix, @Rex) you can see the Best Dog! I did not see him last night.

@Glitch, you make a good point about learning more by using Google than by using the Check feature. I consider actually getting up from the keyboard and looking at the globe or a reference work even more of an academic exercise, so to speak. I learn the most that way. But sometimes, I just want to be done with the damn puzzle, and use Check, or (the shame) Reveal.

@SantaFeFran, my version of AcrossLite supports both Check and Reveal. With Check, an incorrect letter is X'd out, and when you erase it you get a permanent black triangle. With Reveal, an incorrect letter is replaced with the correct one, and you get a red triangle. Check allows you to use your mind for an alternate solution to your first try. And yes, I consider both a DNF.

@JaxinLA, thank you very much for saying what I was thinking about the erroneous implication that the "natives" speak Spanish.

Tobias Duncan 1:23 PM  

How far would you drive to help retrieve a lost phone for Rex?
I reckon jesser, SantaFeFran and me can cover the Rio Grande corridor of New Mexico and southern Colorado.
It would be fun to make one of those google maps of the U.S. and try to figure out just what sort of cell phone coverage Rex actually has...

JenCT 1:42 PM  

Took me longer than usual also: had LOO before LAV, FAA/ARR, FIFTY/LARGE, ADA/DDS.

The MAGEE/MINERAL crossing and TOBESURE took the longest, for me.

Didn't like 12d ATSEA.

GISMO didn't bother me; I've seen it in puzzles before.

Nice pictures and welcome back, Rex. I especially like the Best Dog.

Shamik 1:50 PM  

Write-up and especially wedding photos much, much better than the puzzle.


Clark 2:01 PM  

@Tobias Duncan -- I would drive an hour and a half (one-way) to retrieve Rex's phone, as long as I had a few days to fit it into my schedule. Road trip! That's tri-state coverage (IL, WI, MI).

jberg 2:09 PM  

I had the BOGIE to BOGEY writeover, otherwise everything went in smoothly.

Except that I just noticed my error! I had PANIC/PSN for 43 A&D; figured PSN was some obscure West Coast thing. I was just about to complain about it, but fortunately checked Rex's grid first. Blush!

@JAXinLA said what I was thinking, too - though my brother, who's somewhat jingoistic, insists that he is a Native American, since a) he took Latin and knows the root of native, and b) he was born in America. I guess we use 'indigenous' now to avoid that confusion.

I used to play bridge, but it seemed like the main point was for people to tell their partners what a dumb bid or play they had made. Fun, in it's way, but not for me.

Not that I'm overly soft, though - unlike others here, I'm kind of hoping to see "You can make an umbrella stand from an - - - - - - - - 's foot" tomorrow.

And, while this one is as old as the hills, somebody has to say it. If a rabbit's foot is so lucky, why isn't it still on the rabbit?

foodie 2:26 PM  

It actually would be fun to do a Google Map/Google Earth rendition of Rexville Denizens...

I can to my buddies who are computer geeks (I have quite a few :) and see how feasible it would be.

Or may be we already have a pro amongst us?

Rex, would you be OK with that?

Evgeny 2:48 PM  

Thanks Rex for posting the soccer video, good to see that the best player of our time gets some attention even in the U.S. And the video is in Ukrainian (or Belarus? not sure...), so I can laugh about the commentators' pronunciation of Russian words :-D It's like listening to a South African speak English

chefbea 3:29 PM  

@foodie I'm all for a Rexville map!!

LookUpGuy 3:29 PM  


At least one site ( includes this line in it's mission statement:

"This site will help you to keep aware about the latest technology in the field of electronic gismo."

Granted, the all knowing(?) Google assumes/presumes giZmo as more common, many dictionaries show giZmo as the varient of giSmo.

OTOH, many others show the reverse.

I'd call this a tie, and in case of a tie, Will's decision (per @Martin's explanation), by definition, wins ;).

But @Pete has a good point too.

JaxInL.A. 3:48 PM  

Home today so I get to check the blog in daylight.  This is fun.  I fully endorse the notion of mapping Rexville.  I always marvel at how far-flung we are.  Is there a tool that allows different people to enter their locations online, and then compiles the data into a map?  Could the same tool handle both domestic and international locations?

Finally, I gotta point out a snort-worthy observation by @pannonica over at Orange's place: "And what, what, are we to make of the inadvertent imagery in Row 12: “LARGE ARR SOLE”?

Three and out.

sanfranman59 3:58 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:57, 6:52, 1.01, 58%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:55, 3:40, 1.07, 83%, Challenging

mac 4:04 PM  

Nice solo debut, Steve Salitan! No problem with gismo because I had the seven in already, after I had repaired the "can" for "lav". Also had panic before manic.

@Rex: LOL at the latte treatise!

Love gamut and finagle. Was grossed out by the rabbits foot, but the "paw of a gnu" would be sort of hard to carry around. Makes me think of the woman I saw taking a red telephone horn out of her purse. It was her mobile phone! Easy to find, I guess.

Kurisu 4:59 PM  

I did have some difficulty with the Jabberwocky clue because I didn't remember Humpty's explanation of the poem, so the only bird I could think of was jubjub bird (which didn't fit). I tried to go through other things in the poem but none of them seemed to fit -- the problem was that I was misremembering it as BOROG*R*OVES.

Anonymous 7:44 PM  

Left early, home late, just completed puzzle in (my) record time and found it very smooth and easy. Think Rex is right that puzzle was skewed to "older" solvers as I'm 60,, but hey- we're happy to have bone thrown our way. Thanks Steve and Will!
P.S. Never heard of "chest" pocket.....only breast

william e emba 7:53 PM  

Don't post Sunday comments on Monday.

As for GISMO, well, maybe some of you knew need to read more and Google less. Here's GISMO in a book title. For a while it was the common spelling in science fiction, most famously by Damon Knight in his classic The People Maker, revised and retitled A for Anything. My guess is that Gizmo-with-a-z took over after Gremlins.

(Oh, wait, did I find these links by using Google? Did I just contradict myself?? Did I just turn into a black hole of paradox??? Not my LUCKy day!)

william e emba 7:58 PM  

Don't post Sunday comments on Monday.

As for GISMO, well, maybe some of you knew need to read more and Google less. Here's GISMO in a book title. For a while it was the common spelling in science fiction, most famously by Damon Knight in his classic The People Maker, revised and retitled A for Anything. My guess is that Gizmo-with-a-z took over after Gremlins.

(Oh, wait, did I find these links by using Google? Did I just contradict myself?? Did I just turn into a black hole of paradox??? Not my LUCKy day!)

Sfingi 9:49 PM  

OldCarFudd - The rain has ruined my lilacs to the North - immediately gone brown. Bad luck for them.

sanfranman59 11:08 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 7:05, 6:52, 1.03, 66%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:40, 1.04, 69%, Medium-Challenging

Chris 1:14 AM  

50 down, a judge HEARS a case, a lawyer TRIES a case. The two aren't interchangeable AFAIK. Bad clue.

Dirigonzo 3:29 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dirigonzo 3:30 PM  

I carry my pen in my shirt pocket - even when I wore a suit everyday and had a breast pocket and a chest pocket, I carried my pen in my shirt pocket.

The catpaw/RABBITPAW juxtaposition didn't happen for us syndicated solvers due to the time warp in which we live.

Liked the puzzle, seemed like a perfect Monday to me. Especially liked the clue for MOLAR (13d) which I don't believe anyone has mentioned yet.

Anonymous 6:05 PM  

I wrote FIFTY as well. This after coming up with MXM as a late 11th-century year on Saturday. I'm clearly not smarter than a Vth grader.

hazel suggested:
"@rex - should have had that phone in your breast pocket!"

Pockets can be dangerous too. I came this close >< to running my cell phone through the wash this morning. If it hadn't clunked to the floor as I was shoving a load into the washer...

Nullifidian 6:59 PM  

Syndicated solver here.

I thought the puzzle was a little more difficult than average for a Monday, but I still managed to finish the puzzle, the Jumble, and the daily Sudoku all in about fifteen minutes. That is unusual for me because I'm on the savor side of the savor vs. speed debate. I cross-check each answer where I can and rarely ever put an answer down unless I'm absolutely sure it fits.

I didn't find the puzzle too bad. I felt it was a pretty enjoyable solve with no more than the standard amount of crosswordese. I do hear you about the cluing for IMS and INK, though. And I still don't know what ARR means in the context of airport security. I tried to Google it and found only that the Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove, IL has ARR as its FAA designation.

There was no problem with any of the long answers. My father is a devoted bridge addict and I've picked up a few of the more basic terms from him, including POINT COUNT.

I wish I could say I had more books in the MASS MARKET paperback format. I prefer that size of books as perfect for slipping in a slacks pocket and taking anywhere. Most of the books I prefer reading are only available in hardcover or trade paperback format, which I find clunky and difficult to manage. Some of the academic publishers are the worst offenders in this respect. I have a Routledge paperback anthology of continental philosophy that's 9.4 x 6.8 x 1.5 inches. It's almost impossible to hold up and read, but fortunately I still have my old wire book holder.

Red Valerian 7:42 PM  

So, here I was wondering when the guy who played John Steed on The Avengers got a Tony, and why his role in that show wasn't in the stuff Rex posted. Oh. Patrick Macnee... never mind.

@Dirigonzo: I too loved the clue for 13D! Very clever. Surprised nobody else commented.

Don't know anything about bridge, but it wasn't hard to get 11D from crosses.

@Nullifidian: I think the answer is just the abbreviation for "arrivals." The clue doesn't mention security.

@OldCarFuddy: yes, people did seem grumpy. Maybe it's just the tougherishness-for-a-Monday problem. Or maybe it's something to do with too many appendages-of-a-dead-mammal in recent memory for non-syndi-solvers.

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