Angel of south wind / SAT 5-21-11 / Online multiplayer gaming service / Two-time Hugo Award winner Gaiman / 19 season NHLer Robitaille / Half sechzehn

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Constructor: Barry C. Silk

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


Word of the Day: SQUIRREL BAFFLE (48A: Bird Feeder Protector) —I'm sure Rex would go to Wiki and post the actual definition of a SQUIRREL BAFFLE, but I prefer to make up my own. Yes, you got jesser in charge of blogging today. And yes, the world may, in fact, end. But not because of the religious loon, but because Rex left me in charge of the blog for a night/day. Crazy man. I'm gonna buy an Eminem album as penance. Anyway, SQUIRREL BAFFLE: A mostly failed invention crafted by men to keep very smart rodents out of expensive yard decorations. Real nature lovers let nature take its course and watch the squirrels baffle the birds -- and ants, and hornets, and everyone else who wants into the bird feeder. Go SQUIRRELS!
• • •
I nailed this puppy in about 32 minutes with a cadre of Friday night revelers gathered around being sometimes helpful. "1 Across (It may flow on a ranch) is shit!," shouted Bill the biologist. He was, of course, wrong. It was MANE, which I thought for a while would be Milk but it wasn't. Those dairy ranches! Genni came up with ALBINO (Colorless) crossing AMINO (Essential acid) at the 8A/D intersection. Then she pointed out that my wine tasted like what Bill thought 1A was gonna be. We got a new bottle out.

Friday nights at Casa Jesser are exercises in bringing the nieghborhood in to play 9 ball and drink and tell lies. We've been doing it for years, and this is the first Friday night I've had no liquor this late into the night. Rex is good for my liver. Anyway, I performed the marriage ceremony for the aforementioned Bill and his now-wife, Avis. I wrote a beautiful ceremony, and when it came time for her to recite her vows, as Bill had just done, she blurted out, "DITTO!" 44D (Put me down, too) had very special neighborhood significance on that account.

There was great confusion at 5D (She might try an agent), where I initially had DorA the Explorer, thinking travel agent. DIVA came into view only after we agreed that COQ AU VIN (French chef's specialty) had to be right, based on the good ol' X BOX LIVE (Online multiplayer gaming system).

I did the heavy lifting, despite all the committee's help, and marched through the grid pretty much from the east back toward the west, with the NW the last to fall.

Best clue/answers:
  • 19A (Sharing of thoughts on a TV show) VULCAN MIND MELD. I am not good with posting the links and such, so imagine a picture of Spock getting all intimate with the hand on the face of some creature from a Douglas S. Adams novel. (Genni and I tried to make more links. It wasn't happening. PuzzleGirl helped us get the grid in there. We decided after that to go back to drinking. Well, SHE's going back; I'm STARTING! Yay!)
  • 39A (It's not long in going down a mountain) MINI SKI. Really? Do they come in skirt lengths? Are MINI SKIS inherently sexier than midi SKIS, and do the fundamentalists ski in Maxis? The only time I tried to ski, at Taos Ski Valley in 1996, I crashed into a Volvo in the parking lot. While getting lessons. From off the bunny slope. I stopped skiing that day.
I feel I should write more. Rex is really good at this. I'm liking rap music more and more as I sit here.

Let's talk writeovers. In addition to the aforementioned Dora/DIVA mess, there was the deceptive SPIKEd hEel (Femme fatale wear) at 27D. That really mucked up the SE until the READ ONLY (Kind of file) pointed out that I really needed to revisit that area. And since I was clueless despite the clue for 47A (Half of sechzhen), I really needed those HEELS to put the CH together in ACHT, which allowed me to plop in the A, which then made AFROS at 47D (Big tops?) appear. I love when a plan comes together. Did Mr. T actually have an AFRO mohawk? I think he did. I digress. I also briefly had aRIEL at 45D (Angel of the South Wind) until the DUPLEX came through. I own a duplex. I rent one side to a flighty gay couple with two poodles and the other side to a woman with two greyhounds. It is an interesting yard when the greyhounds go into chase mode, because the poodles look remarkably like those things they make greyhounds chase at the actual dog track. Other than that, landlording is largely overrated.

I never knew Truman CAPOTE (22A) said "Beat literature isn't writing at all -- it's typing." Look at me. I'm a Beat literature typer! Thanks, Rex! And Happy Weekend Rexites! You'll get another guest write-up tomorrow, but not from me. Be prepared to be pleasantly surprised is all I'm saying. :-)

Signed, jesser, sitting in for Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Princess Kosmonopolis 12:37 AM  

Whoa, Jesser, great write-up! I had planned to get all gushy with Rex because I finished this puzzle All By Myself...and it's Saturday, and possibly the end of times, but I don't know you that well, so let me just say:

Vulcan Mind Meld all the way! I know what a Squirrel Baffle is. I do not know what a digraph is, but dipthong didn't fit, so whatever. Short ski (39A) didn't fit either, so miniski was not a huge surprise.

I still don't know what 46D is about - shifting letters - PRNDL?? I'm sure I am going to feel stupid when someone explains this, but I don't care. Just exuberant that I solved a Saturday puzz, by Barry Silk, no less, All By Myself!

Tobias Duncan 12:42 AM  

Word of advice people, never put a New Mexican in charge of ANYTHING!!!
Unless of course its jesser, the only prompt person in the entire state.The rest of us are happy with "manana".
As a die hard Hitchhikers fan, I was pleased to see the Douglas Adams ref in the write up(although I am not sure where the S. came from:)).Just so everyone knows Towel Day is on the 25th. Easiest way to celebrate is to throw a towel over your shoulder and find a nice happy hour somewhere.

Puzzle took me much longer that it took jesser, but was able to just about finish. Pretty good for me as I am not really a Saturday guy yet.
Got CAPOTE with no crosses without having ever heard the quote. I realize you pros do stuff like that all the time but I am feeling pretty damn smug about that one tonight!

Really did like the write up tonight jesser! I fancy myself a bit of pool player (no fancy billiards for me). If you ever make it up to Taos again, there is a table at the Alley Cantina that has been treating me pretty well lately.If you would stoop to playing "bar pool" I sure would love to shoot a few with ya.

Brad 1:09 AM  

Princess Kosmonopolis: think of a car's gear shift.

captcha: midesq: sort of central

jesser 1:11 AM  

@Princess: Park, Reverse, Neutral, etc.
@Tobias: I dunno if he still owns the Alley Cantina, but _____ (I am so bad at names; when I knew him, he worked at The Taos Inn) and I go way back. You got a game on, amigo!

Princess Kosmonopolis 1:16 AM  

Thx, guys, got my gears sorted out!

CoffeeLvr 1:35 AM  

I may have Googled ten entries, but I slapped COQ AU VIN in there without a second thought.

On the strength of the L in SQUIRREL, I went with noLace for my sneaker option. I was thinking of the zippered ones my friend has. Turns out I was right in a way, but VELCRO is a very different look.

Thanks for hosting, @jesser.

syndy 1:46 AM  

crashed and burned in the SE!had the squirrel but he baffled me.CANARIES and PATSY CLINE sang a sad duet together but the rest wasn't gonna happen! 47 across just ain't right!no how no way!good job jesser!

jae 2:45 AM  

Fine puzzle and fine/amusing write up, thanks jesser. This was tougher for me than for our host. I had it at Med-Challenging, i.e. about what a good Sat. should be.

Many missteps--ATM for URN, me too for MILK, BOOTHE for AUSTIN (but I was never sure of the spelling), ETAL for IBID, ELITE fot EXALT, and finally PENNER for PENMAN.

SethG 2:45 AM  

Nice work, Jesser! Had I helped you with the pictures, I would have maybe used this and this. I would not have included a picture of spike heels, and I will not tell you my honest first thought when I saw that clue.

Couldn't figure out why Al Capone was talking about Beat literature until I realized that I are an idiot. Then lotsa trouble in the SE; eventually guessed PATSY CLINE with no crosses in place to get it started. Finished up deciding whether the squirrels were bustled or battled or bangled or buckled or, finally, and appropriately, baffled.

jae 3:37 AM  

Hey jesser, I suspect solving with friends may have made this a tad easier. I had to resist asking my bride about the Taxi/Elaine clue ( which I knew but was blocking on.... BENES.... BOOSLER...).... Anyway it took me a while.

And, FYI, Ms. Henner has recently made news for having an extraordinary biographical memory.

albino capote michaels 4:03 AM  

So glad your subbing was not one of the signs of the apocalypse!

I needed a VULCANMINDMELD to try and think of MARILU Henner's name. Could see her face, could hear her voice (so hyper and so nondiscreet about all the folks she has slept with! She needs an extraordinary biographical memory!)
but that's what got me started, even tho I've never seen that show.

I had my usual bad letter: DIdRAPH/dONE. THat makeTH me not THo THmart, I gueTH.

Should have gotten it, otherwise no G in the grid!
Pangramwise, @Jesser, you should have liked this as there was no Jay-Z anywhere near it!
(on a semi-related note, the new Beyonce video is the dumbest thing I've ever seen!)

Biggest problem was getting from Tyrone to AUSTIN. Stephanie was too many many Powers that be!

SQUIRRELBAFFLE baffled me...but then again I've never tried to steal bird feed.

And the only thing I got with no crosses was BOOTIE and ACHT. Ach!

I loved the C-Worthy clue...
Where the F is the D on SPIKE???

JaxInL.A. 4:19 AM  

Delightful write-up, @jesser. Thanks for holding down the fort while Rex romps off to enjoy the last day of the world. Say, if I had a few million $ to put up billboards in every major media market could I get national coverage of how I'm going to turn the sky green?  

Well, I could not find a way into this puzzle for ages. My early gimme answers were scattered too widely. For instance, if you have not had the pleasure of meeting one of my all-time favorite authors, NEIL Gaiman, you might try this installment of the Sandman graphic novel series. Or Belgian King LEOPOLD, whose despotic and barbarian reign over The Congo I first learned of through Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible.  

But they were in two different quadrants and didn't break either open for me. In the end I just had to keep bagging away with partials and guesses until something became clear, then complete that section and knock about 'til something else revealed itself.  The fun part of that is I got lots of those Aha! moments most of us do puzzles for.  This applies to just about every answer in the SW, including the very fun PRNDL referenced by @PK above.     

There is so much like about this, though, that I can forgive the flotsam washed up on the outer shores of the grid. MXC, AWS, ORT, SESS, SYS, PST, DEP.  I've forgiven a puzzle much more with less reward.  My favorite was getting VULCAN MIND MELD off of ...__IND__L_. I love @SethG's VMM illustration.  

Like @acme, my first Powers was Tyrone.  

Dredging up a UCLA linguistics class three decades ago, I tried hard to make "The th in the, e.g." be dentals, as in dental fricative, which is linguist-speak for the "th" in the.  Instead, I offer this amusing video on why th is an important sound.

A rapturous weekend to all!

foodie 8:43 AM  

Jesser, that was fabulous, laugh out loud funny in many places.

And this thing that happened to you SKIing? It was my first winter in the good ole USofA, my new boyfriend (later to become my old husband) took me skiing. Icy bunny slope, skidded and hit my head against a tree. Was amnesic for several days, I kid you not. Literally did not know who I was, for a while. I can promise you that being new in a country and amnesic is no fun at all!

I really overthought the COQ AU VIN answer but it emerged. I gave up and googled PATSY CLINE. I tried SQUIRREL BuFFer :) and even I thought of much more saucy stuff for that femme fatale.

Fun Saturday!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:25 AM  

Bravo, jesser!

Good puzzle, put up a fight but doable.

Two write-overs: Yup, 45 D, ARIEL before URIEL; and really slowed down by 21 A, ABUT before MEET.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

This commenter's style is annoyingly breezy. Think Strunk and White's edict: "Do not affect a breezy style."

Smitty 9:42 AM  

@Jesser me too on the SPIKED HEEL

More medium than easy-medium for me... Thanks 4 the write up.

JC66 10:01 AM  

Thanks for the great write-up, @Jesser.

@ACME. I, too immediately plunked down Tyrone and then remembered his last name is Power.

Completely baffled by SQUIRRELB_ _ _ L _ for way too long. ACHT????


All in all medium/difficult for me.

Well, it's !0:01 AM in NYC and I'm still here.

Sal Paradise 10:01 AM  

"I'm writing this book because we're all going to die."
Jack Kerouac

Happy Rapture !

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

Oh, maybe one day I'll get to drive the Nordschleife, including Hohe ACHT, but it won't be in a car with PRNDL.

After VULCAN MIND MELD, rest fell fairly quickly.

David L 10:32 AM  

Nice write-up!

I was baffled by PRNDL too -- only knew it was good because the Pencil told me so. What does the L stand for? (asks the guy who drove stick shift exclusively until a couple of years ago, and who still refuses to acknowledge that he now owns an automatic).

I thought Capote's remark about typing was specifically about Kerouac and On The Road, but it's easy to imagine him delivering a put-down of the whole genre. Of course, Capote, after In Cold Blood, spent the remainder of life neither writing nor typing, but drinking.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

@David L - L is for low gear. Please say there was a good reason for going to an automatic!

Forgot to thank jesser earlier for the amusing writeup.

another David

Beadola 10:41 AM  

Finished without googling, but took much longer than our humble blogger, whom I exalt. I'm always happy when I finish a Saturday, and always afraid I will come here and find an easy rating. Laugh out loud amusing write up (thanks jesser), and wonderful mind meld photo (thanks SethG).

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

Operator's concern? ANAT? Really? Operator of what?

archaeoprof 10:54 AM  

Hi from Jerusalem! If that guy is right about tomorrow, I'm in the perfect place.

Great writeup, @Jesser. Fun puzzle, too.

@anonymous 10:51: an "operation" in the hospital, perhaps?

Shalom/salaam aleikum!

JaxInL.A. 10:55 AM  

@Anon 10:51
Think how a Surgeon needs to know anatomy.

David L 10:55 AM  

@Anon 10:38: Thank you. I'll have to look in my car to see if it has an L. It has something called D3 in addition to plain old D, but I'm not sure what it's for and haven't used it.

I went to an automatic on account of hip replacement. But now that they're both done, I'm thinking I might go back to a stick...

PuzzleNut 11:08 AM  

Thanks for the great write-up. Rex makes it look so easy but I'm sure it's not.
Didn't know ACHT, but crosses all seemed correct.
My RRN was MIC, rather than MXC, and I was pleased to see a Saturday level clue for "microphone, abbr". had no idea what an IBOX was, but figured it must be some new fangled contraption.
Finished with no wrire-overs (and only one dumb mistake) in pretty good time, so I have to agree with the rating.

TimJim 11:14 AM  

Confidently wrote in INTHEBLACK for solvent and it was downhill from there. Finally finished, many writeovers. Good one!

jackj 11:14 AM  

First up was old friend LUC Robitaille, highest scoring left wing to ever lace up the skates.

Luc's "U" made COQAUVIN an easy fit and the resulting naked "Q" brought forth NOQUESTION but thereby ended the illusion that this was going to be a piece of cake.

A successful solve but I can't buy jesser's "Easy-Medium" rating; this was a battle royal until MAXBAER answered the final bell.

Two Ponies 11:18 AM  

Fun puzzle and great write up.
Way to go @jesser!
Barry Silk is one of my favorite late-week constructors. He never fails to please.
I can't see PRNDL without thinking of Green Acres.

Verily I say unto you 11:24 AM  

Can the NYT put the puzzle out at 5:00 P.M. EDT today ? I'd like to do one more puzzle before I die.

JFe 11:25 AM  

@foodie: very funny story

Mel Ott 11:33 AM  

This was really two separate puzzles because of the bottlenecks at squares 31 & 38. I found the bottom puzzle easy and the top one challenging.

VULCAN MIND MELD was a problem for me crossing a foreign brand name and IPOD. I had trouble seeing IPOD because I thought 31A would be bIGRAPH, with the bi- refering to the two letters 'th'. Dunno DIGRAPH.

OK, online dictionary says DIGRAPH is two successive letters with one sound. BIGRAPH would make more sense to me but alas no such word!

Stan 11:37 AM  

Finally, spending so much time and money at Agway pays off! I got SQUIRREL BAFFLE without crosses. @jesser's definition is far more accurate than Wiki's, I'm sure.

My wife tried to read me the write-up but kept cracking up, unable to finish a sentence.

Like READ ONLY (which has become an adjective) and ABOVE WATER (frightenly in-the-language because of all the mortgages that aren't).

Fun, breezy puzzle and non-annoying write-up! Hoping that the Rapture will have a beneficial effect on traffic.

mitchs 11:44 AM  

Nice job, Jesser! But this one was a LOT tougher for me. I'm with Mel Ott on the dual difficulties.

Newbie 12:01 PM  

Okay. Now I feel really stupid. Someone else has always asked my question by the time I get here, but not today.

Why on earth is "ruined" gone? I just don't get it.

Thank you, "Verily I say unto you" for my best laugh of the morning.

Kurt 12:07 PM  

Great puzzle and great commentary. Thanks jesser.

Blackbird 12:18 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
chefbea 12:22 PM  

Couldn't do yesterdays puzzle and had trouble with today's. Great writeup Jesser.

Puzzle husbands birthday is today. Glad we are here to celebrate!!

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

We suburbanites know squirrel baffles and raccoon baffles work very well in keeping squirrels and raccoons away from bird feeders. Bird feeders are not expensive ornaments. They are used to feed birds. Baffles are cone-shaped, slip over the poles supporting the feeders, wide side down, narrow side up -- think standard lampshade -- and squirrels cannot climb up the slippery slope. Why is ruined gone? Ruined, destroyed, gone. Sucky clue, sucky answer. Sharing thoughts on a TV show -- Vulcan mind meld is best clue and answer pair.

WesIsland 12:24 PM  

"Touch" clue for Ipod was where I bailed out, and Vancouver time is PDT not PST if by "on it" the clue means today.

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

PRNDL for shifting letters -- drivers should recognize this. Letters used in shifting gears -- P for park, R for reverse, N for neutral, D for drive, L for low.

santafefran 12:52 PM  

jesser--big smiles during your write-up. You did Rex proud.

I threw down MILK and INTHEMONEY which caused me no end of trouble. Had SQUIRREL and the F in FAD and my first thought was S-RUFFLE. I knew that wasn't right but couldn't get it out of my mind. Perhaps it will be a new variation of the contraption.

No idea on DIGRAPH or ACHT.

VULCAN MIND MELD--great Star Trek memories.

Thanks again, jesser!

arketamy--pehaps some newfangled thing we will board when the Rapture takes us

GILL I. 1:25 PM  

Barry Silk always makes me cry.
XBOXLIVE? DIAGRAPH? URIEL? I did get MAX BAER though and I smiled.
I don't like COQAUVIN and I prefer Belgian chocolates. Waaaa.
Then @jesser appears and the big smile comes back along with much needed laughter....Thanks.
P.S. I wish someone could post a Patsy Cline song. I fall to pieces when I hear her.

Sandy 1:40 PM  

Rex here, even though it says I'm my wife...

Baffled by BAFFLE and a bit by DIGRAPH (wanted DENT-something). Top half approx. 65 times easier than bottom. VULCAN MIND MELD does indeed rule.

Thanks to jesser for his learned, dignified write-up.

Bucks County has yet to be rapturized. It's still all horses and Phillies fans and horrible decorative knickknacks. But Gay Pride week has made it very rainbowy, which is nice. Also: bright sun + mid-70s temps = perfection.

See you soon,

Matthew G. 1:50 PM  

Great puzzle. Easy-Medium for a Saturday, and, to me, significantly easier than Friday's puzzle. I got off to a great start when I just flat-out guessed PATSY CLINE off the P -- never heard of the song, but it just sounded like the title of something she would sing.

Knew I'd seen the letters PRNDL together somewhere before, but didn't grasp that clue till I got here.

Nice international balance of pop-culture references with XBOX LIVE, PATSY CLINE, MAX BAER, and NEIL Gaiman. Never heard of MARILU, but the URN left no doubt. This puzzle, to me, had exactly the right proportion of proper names -- enough to provide seasoning, but not enough to choke on.

Pretty much the only weak entry in the grid is PENMAN.

My wife generated a lot of AWS at the clues for MINISKI and BOOTIE.

jae 1:51 PM  

My chances for an error free week were ruined/gone because of that @#$%& Natick.

Matthew G. 1:52 PM  

"Intergenerational," not "international." Silly iPad autocorrect.

archaeoprof 1:53 PM  

(Gill I.P., psst, you can probably find some Patsy Cline clips on youtube. That's where Rex gets most of his.)

GILL I. 2:12 PM  

I know, I just wanted to share a wonderful voice with y'all.

Shamik 2:20 PM  

@chefbea: Happy Birthday to your husband!

Great write-up Jesser....any day...any time!

This one felt enormously difficult while solving and then turned in an easy-medium time of 17:56. Which goes to show that perception isn't reality. Liked VULCANMINDMELD and wanted mind melding, which of course, did not fit.

ELUDE for EVADE caused a lot of hokey-pokey with words in/words out/words in...having been correct all along in those in and out words. Did that make any sense?

I guess my Post-Rapture Looting event is cancelled.

jberg 2:40 PM  

Great writeup, Jesser, despite your irreverent attitude toward squirrel baffles, which are destined to lead us through the rapture.

Regarding which, don't get overconfident because it didn't happen at 6 PM Jerusalem time, or 6 PM GMT. It is to happen at 6 PM local time, wherever you are.

SQUIRREL BAFFLE gave me a good start, and I could see MINDMELD but had a strange moment of not remembering that Spock was a VULCAN.AUSTIN Powers has never been on MY screen, but I got him anyway. My only real difficulty was ABOVE WATER. Stupidly on a Saturday, I was trying to think of a chemical solvent - some particular type of water - until MANE and XBOXLIVE popped into place. Also, I had ELUDE crossed with LACEUP sneakers for a while.

This is on a par with the debate about who's a rapper, but isn't COQ AU VIN a rustic dish, not something an actual French chef would consider a specialty?

syndy 3:21 PM  

Okay try THIS good luck

chefbea 3:26 PM  

@jberg Coq au vin= chicken with wine. It's a yummy dish I use to make years ago when we had formal dinner parties. Not rustic at all

syndy 3:27 PM  

My first LINK wow hoo am I Jazzed!

GILL I. 3:33 PM  

My hero...syndy!

jackj 3:38 PM  

Something else to rattle the brain:

Vulcan Mind Meld recipe

1 part ouzo anise liqueur
1 part 151 proof rum

Pour ingredients into a double-shot glass and drink quickly.

joho 3:43 PM  

@jesser ... thank you! I was laughing on my way out the door early this morning due to your entertaining write up.

I loved this puzzle. Not only because I could finish it, but because it was fun to do so. VULCANMINDMELD is brilliant! I also chuckled at SQUIRRELBAFFLE not only because its a lot of great letters in a string, but because my neighborhood is overrun with these quicksilverish little creatures. I've seen them feasting at bird feeders. I might start a side business selling baffles around here ... could make a fortune!

Thank you, Barry Silk! I also loved XBOXLIVE, SPIKEHEELS, ABOVEWATER, NOQUESTION and seeing all of MAXBAER.

jesser 3:52 PM  

Thanks to (almost) everyone for the positive reinforcement regarding my apparent breeziness and temporary suspension of the Strunk and White admonitions. I like to think of myself as a breezy kind of gent, particularly after a day of eating Mexican food, which is pretty much daily.

@ Tobias: I used to work with a guy named Douglas S. Wright. I guess I decided Douglas Adams would look better with a middle initial, but a visit to my bookshelf confirms that you are correct. You have successfully kicked my S! As to putting New Mexicans in charge of things, I think you're pretty much on the money about the inherent dangers, but WOW it was fun!

@ Seth G: Thanks for those links. The kittens are hysterical, and the MINI SKIS are, well, ridiculous. But in a funny way!

@ JAE: The only place I felt solving with friends was helpful was in my lack of sports knowledge, because Bill the biologist was able to give me LUC at 15D early on. I have to believe I'd have figured it out, but maybe not. Hard sayin', not knowin'.

@ ACME: I didn't even LOOK for pangramness going on! Thanks for being on the look out for such things! I also have a crush on you, like so many, but it's platonic. MUAH!

@ Foodie: I have found that the best of part of skiing is not skiing; it's the lodge, where they serve liquor, which also can lead to memory loss and running into trees, but usually at slower speed than skis facilitate. ;-)

@ Anon 9:31: A good-natured raspberry to you! You can't ruin my guest-blogger high!

@ Puzzlenut: Rex does, indeed, make it look easy. My best advice going in to this was from ACME, who said "Take notes and then write in a stream of consciousness." I did. Rex is clearly MUCH more structured. The write-up process I grade as a solid Challenging.

@ Chef Bea: Happy birthday to Mr. Chef Bea! You can't beet that!

@ Santa Fe Fran: Let's you and me and Tobias form a club! New Mexicans unite! (Or untie, and go with VELCRO!)

And finally, @ Sandy/Rex: The adjectives 'learned' and 'dignified' have seldom been attached to descriptions of me. I suspect we all know why. Once again, THANK YOU for letting me have this adventure! It was great, great fun!

And now, as it is, in fact, Gay Pride season, I am off to Emilia's on the Plaza in Mesilla to listen to live music and flirt with my Jamaican boyfriend. We will be taking Toby the Yorkie along, because he's a magnet for free drinks. We are a cunning couple in this regard.

Thanks again, Everyone! Adios from sunny southern New Mexico!

Anne 4:15 PM  

Jesser - I like breezy. Good job.

santafefran 4:32 PM  

jesser and Tobias:

Viva the untie-dyed enchanted New Mexicans!

CoffeeLvr 4:39 PM  

I must share a double coincidence. I am listening to "American Routes" on my local NPR station. They are doing a show highlighting the music traditions of LA, titled "Los Angeles: Soundtrack for the Angels." They talk about and play ZYDECO (which was recently in the NYT or LAT puzzle) and "do re mi." I'll see if this link will post, if not you can type it in, or copy and paste.

@syndy, I would be proud of posting a link, too, but Preview says I am not.

chefbea 5:08 PM  

@jesser What a riot!!! Hope you guest host again.

sanfranman59 6:01 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 5:56, 6:52, 0.86, 5%, Easy (5th lowest median solve time of 99 Mondays)
Tue 8:30, 8:55, 0.95, 44%, Medium
Wed 12:20, 11:46, 1.05, 66%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 20:37, 19:00, 1.08, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 22:54, 25:55, 0.88, 27%, Easy-Medium
Sat 28:31, 30:28, 0.93, 27%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:12, 3:40, 0.87, 5%, Easy (ditto)
Tue 4:11, 4:35, 0.91, 23%, Easy-Medium
Wed 6:20, 5:48, 1.09, 79%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 10:02, 9:10, 1.10, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 11:16, 12:44, 0.88, 31%, Easy-Medium
Sat 14:26, 17:19, 0.83, 16%, Easy

KarenSampsonHudson 6:04 PM  

Good job jesser! Come back to "fill in" the spaces again!

Anonymous 6:35 PM  

It's interesting how people had trouble with different sections of this one. I had trouble in the top half, but the bottom half was excitingly doable for me. But it gave me only a D from dele and either a B for bigraph or D for digraph to take to the top. Like Mel Ott said already.

I had VUL and was certain I should be able to solve it from that, but going through all possible next letters suggested only vulgar and vulture. I googled
LUC and that finally got me Vulcan. Is Vulcan a word outside of Startrek?

I had to google NEIL and CAPPOTE to finish, but just 3 googles for a Saturday is great for me!

I have never seen L as a gear.

retired_chemist 6:41 PM  

Late to the party. Again.

Terrific writeup, Jesser!

I thought this on the easy side, but then I usually am on Barry Silk's wavelength. Also considered CAPONE as a WTF. Wanted both COQ AU VIN and MAX BAER, but delayed on both. The former because of an incorrect cross I was fairly sure of, the latter because I was thinking Braddock was well before Baer.

TWOSIE for 36A didn't help (and, in retrospect, didn't make much sense). It was driven by the incorrect ET AL. @ 32D. Hand up for ARIEL @ 45D and DAPLEX as a WTF for milliseconds.

The chemist in me looked at 2D, at the time ____ WATER, and tried to interpret "solvent" in the chemical sense. No dice. That and _____TION @ 3D filled in nicely once I believed COQ AU VIN, and the NW quadrant,my last major white area, then pretty much fell.

Last square filled was the first D in VULCAN MIND MELD, something I had never heard of. Nor XBOX LIVE for that matter.

Many excellent clues and smiles at answers, and very little weak fill (MXC, PENMAN). Fine Job, Mr, Silk. Thanks.

Anonymous 6:41 PM  

I think "gone" is ok. People say "you are so gone!" when they are about to win on XBOX LIVE.

I also will say "ditto" to JaxinLA's writeup. I really liked the Poisonwood Bible though all I remember now is the kids who lost their teeth from sucking on sugarcane consantly. I dont remember Leopolds role. So maybe I will look up Neil Garmain. Never heard of him.

retired_chemist 6:47 PM  

@ anon 6:35 - Vulcan was the Roman god of "beneficial and hindering fire." Thence the term "vulcanized rubber.

davko 6:48 PM  

Isn't the clue to 26A technically wrong, if taken literally? Vancouver is currently on PDT, just like the rest of the West Coast. I guess it all depends whether the date of a puzzle applies to its own clues.

michael 7:14 PM  

Had to google to figure out what prndl meant. That's what I get for always driving a stick shift.

skua76 7:35 PM  

jesser, I too liked your writeup. One error, somehow I thought Elaine (21D) was Merilu. EWS looked much better late week than AWS.

No one else mentioned it, but today was a twofer for Barry Silk, he had a good LAT puzzle today as well as this one!

Dirigonzo 7:53 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dirigonzo 7:57 PM  

I normally comment in syndicated time and I never do the Saturday puzzle (because my paper doesn't publish it, and I'm too cheap to subscribe) but I came here in real time today to see how the prime-timers handled the Rapture. Aparently the world as we know it didn't actually end but it was remarkably altered becaues Rex is gone and @Jesser is doing the write up - and it's terrific! And there's Patsy Cline - I love Patsy Cline! It's comforting to know that when I come back five weeks from now all the regulars will still be here adding their usual insightful, entertaining and educational comments.

mac 9:18 PM  

Hey, Jesser, fantastic write-up! You had me laughing, and I needed that.

Did not finish the puzzle, just ran out of time. Spent 5 hours in the car for a 1 hour wedding in a church. Was worth it, though.

I also had milk, penner, exalt and squirrel buffer for a bit.

@Andrea: maybe it's extraordinary biological memory!

Thank you, Barry, as usual you created a great puzzle! On to the LAT one.

Masked and Anonymous 10:23 PM  

Extremely admirable filling of size-31 shoes, @jesser. Thumbs up.

This was Casper the Friendly SatPuz for us. PuzSpouse solved most of it, but I chipped in VULCAN after she had ?MINDMELD and was doin' a "WTF?" Also did the honors on SQUIRRELBAFFLE, while she was attackin' a cinnamon roll. When I suggested "particle" for that "th" in "the" clue (my fave), she threw the pencil at me.

6-pack of U's. The world's still here. Life is lookin' way thumbs up.

texazranches11 11:45 PM  

what a nice work.. this is a wonderful site..

Texas Hill Country Land For Sale

Anonymous 1:07 AM  

@David L - Well, I take it back. That certainly is a good reason, My apologies. Hope the results were better than you hoped.

Steve 3:30 PM  

For what it's worth, from a guy who teaches a Kerouac/Beat Literature course in Lowell, MA no less--Jack's hometown:

Capote did not make his "that's typewriting" crack about Beat Literature as such, he was make a particular reference to Kerouac's "On the Road." (And a pretty gratituous one at that, IMHO)

Red Valerian 12:19 PM  

Struggled a bit with this one, as is usual for me on a Saturday. Read 17A as 19A (time for new reading glasses?), and had LUC, so started it as SAUCE, thinking that 4D (the opposite of humble) would be PROUD (though I had no idea where that left 1A).

Anyhow, I enjoyed it, and I enjoyed the write-up and comments, and being reminded of that Rapture nonsense from five weeks ago.

As others have noted, we here in Vancouver are on PDT at the moment. Could have been clued as "What Vancouver is on when it snows, e.g."

I learned to drive on a standard in the snow (since my birthday is in February, and I absolutely had to have a licence as soon as I was old enough). A year or so later, I applied for a job delivering pizza. The manager wanted me to do a test drive, so to speak, in one of the company vehicles. Got in, saw PRNDL and thought WTF? (Got the job anyhow.)

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Syndication. This one probably should have been much easier for me than it turned out to be, because I interpreted most of the clues correctly, but the letters just weren't lining up. That's because after filling in IPaD right off the bat (after the M in square 1, that is--more on that later), the I in square 20 led me directly to doingvoIceover (that's not an L in the middle, it's an upper case i, denoting the only correctly positioned letter in that row). If that weren't bad enough, I also charged ahead with tyrone at 53a and updOS at 47d. That was my start and it was a helluva struggle righting the ship from there. Didn't take long for me to realize that all of these answers were probably wrong, but it's tough to see the right answers when you've already got all those letters clouding the picture.

LUC was a gimme, which ruled out 'doing voice over' but the idea was already in my head (I've done voice over before) so I simply shifted Voic to the beginning. More write overs and more trouble, though that V would eventually prove correct.

Got the VELCRO/CANARIES cross, which combined with P_T at 26a led of course to PATtY paIgE. I'm pretty sure that isn't even spelled correctly, and the g kept me from seeing READ ONLY for a while. Thankfully, once I got READ ONLY it was a short step to PATSY CLINE and the rest off the puzzle fell into place after that.

In the end, I felt great satisfaction upon completing. Then I came here and caught my one. stupid. mistake. Not thinking, not knowing what COQAUVIN is, but mostly just not thinking, I inadvertently added 900 years to 1D.


Deb 2:54 PM  

I wrote in Patty Paige, too! (Even though I was pretty sure the spelling was incorrect.) My only other two write-overs were "loll" for idle (I don't automatically think of "idle" as a verb), and "Henner" for "Marilu." For the same reason as my loll/idle screw-up, I disliked "humble" for "exalt," as "humble" automatically hits my brain as an adjective. Also didn't care for "get by" as a clue for "evade," but I guess that's what Saturday cluing is all about - evading my meager prowess.

Red Valerian, if you happen by here after me - I caught your note about "runcible spoon" and have reserved a copy of Day of Honey at the library. Always fun to get such a passionate book recommendation!

Waxy in Montreal 5:40 PM  

If there's a pantheon for puzzle constructors, Barry C. Silk should be installed as a charter member. Starting with only the M at square 1 and LUC and MAXBAER as gimmes, the entire grid then was revealed, bit by bit (perhaps through a VULCANMINDMELD of sorts). Yea verily, a truly enjoyable experience.

captcha=SLESSE (not to be confused with SMORE).

Anonymous 11:00 PM  

"Operator" = Operating M.D., so ANATomy would be important.

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