Ruminant's third stomach / WED 6-22-11 / YM or Us output / Yount had 1406 of them / Online option since 1998 / Moo makers / Unit for chairmaker

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Constructor: Tim Croce

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: THE FIRST LETTERS / OF EACH / CLUE GO / FROM A TO Z IN ORDER (21A: Including 38-, 41- and 60-Across, a description of this puzzle's theme) — just what it says, only the clues do that A TO Z cycle three times ...

Word of the Day: OMASUM (6D: Ruminant's third stomach) —

The omasum, also known as the bible, the fardel, the manyplies and the psalterium, is the third compartment of the stomach in ruminants. Though its functions have not been well-studied, it appears to primarily aid in the absorption of water, magnesium, and the volatile fatty acids produced by rumen fermentation, that have not been absorbed into the bloodstream yet. The numerous folds of its mucosa are thought to trap digesta particles so that the maximum amount of nutrients may be absorbed. (wikipedia)
• • •

Feels like something I've done and not liked before. Theme answers = instructions. Puzzle hook is found is first letters of clues (instead of grid itself). Fill is not terribly interesting, and clunky in parts, due in part to the fact that a stunt grid like this imposes certain limits. For example, this puzzle, in addition to accommodating the "description," *had* to be 78 words, i.e. a multiple of 26, to accommodate the A TO Z pattern in the clues. Puzzle felt a bit harder than normal, probably (again) because of pressures of the theme (I mean, why would you go to Robin Yount for an RBIS clue (64D: Yount had 1,406 of them)?? Oh, you require a "Y" clue. Well all right). As a solver, I don't get any pleasure from marveling at the *cluing*. I guess there might be some joy in breaking the code (... DRINK MORE OVALTINE ...), but that part wasn't terribly difficult, or terribly revelatory ... or rather it *was* revelatory, just of something I didn't care about ("huh ... OK ... back to filling in this mediocre grid, then ...").

["... from chimpan A to chimpanzee ..."]

OMASUM is what I'd call a "sore thumb."

EDA and ESA and ERTE all in the same grid! An embarrassment of riches! (42D: LeShan who wrote child-care books) (26D: Conductor ___-Pekka Salonen) (68A: Harper's Bazaar illustrator of the 1910s-'30s). My favorite part of the puzzle was the symmetrical and virtually synonymous END LATE (8D: Take too long) and RUN OVER (45D: Not stay within the allotted time). Considering I ran over my normal Wednesday time, these answers seem appropriate. Hold-ups included OMASUM (the second "M" in particular, since "No Love (But Your Love)" is not in my brain's catalogue of Johnny MATHIS songs (29A: "No Love (But Your Love)" singer, 1958)); RBIS (I had HITS and then RUNS); CREATE (the clue works, but it's hard to see how at first) (53D: Result in); NETZERO (forgot they existed) (46D: Online option since 1998); SEURAT (French artist, German-sounding clue) (24A: Kröller-Müller Museum artist); and ... I think that's it.

  • 15A: Domitian's "you love" (AMAS) — here's where I figured out something was fishy. Clue was easy to figure out, but ... Domitian!?
  • 20A: Historical region of France (ARTOIS) — now probably best known to Americans as part of the Stella-ARTOIS beer name.
  • 48A: Xavier Cugat film "___ Were Never Lovelier" ("YOU") — I kind of want to clap for this clue. Xavier Cugat wins the "Best X Clue" category today.
  • 49A: YM or Us output (ISSUES) — Love this clue. Looks like gibberish until you realize you're looking at magazine titles.
  • 70A: John McCain ranch locale (SEDONA) — a beautiful place, I'm told. SEDONA, I mean. No one I know has been on McCain's ranch ... I don't think.
  • 4D: "Pshaw!," to a Valley girl ("AS IF!") — Another good clue, mostly because it has me imagining Valley girls actually saying "Pshaw!"
  • 9D: Unit for a chairmaker (SLAT) — OK, I will give this puzzle one thing—the limits it puts on cluing really encourages some decent inventive thinking. Clues aren't boring, even if the grid kind of is.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


syndy 2:49 AM  

oddly unsatisfying got the thematic thingy and thought OK yup sure is do I have to finish now?51 across Z is the last one-ABCs unhuh okay so what?14 down zip codes are nos really are they? but screed is kinda cool I think,new anyway. I suppose this is one way to keep WS off your clues

andrea cluego michaels 2:50 AM  

Kind of a fun idea, I'm surprised @rex didn't find it more strained, tho, bec really one should be able to start ANY clue with ANY letter...
and I think half of the puzzles early week have 78 words...I think that's the limit (I learned the hard way)
Had CLUing instead of CLUEGO so stuck for quite awhile in the NE.
Went from guessing iDA to aDA to EDA!

This puzzle made me a little cranky...but don't want to give it a BADRAP.

It's interesting that TMI for a 15 yr old is Too Much Information, but those of us around in 1979 it's Three Mile Island.
(The diff betw LOL and LDL too, I imagine...
Maybe it would be fun to clue a puzzle as a 15 yr old and the same words for a 51 yr old)

chefwen 3:41 AM  

I totally messed up in the NW by putting in soda (vs. pop) at 1A and doting at 3D. Finished the rest of the puzzle and finally had to take that entire corner out and start over. Eventually got it done. Phew! Took me longer than a usual Wednesday, but that's O.K.

capcha FOLLY as in Sunday's 34A SEWARD

retired_chemist 6:14 AM  

What @Rex said about the theme. No addition to the solving experience, so I didn't like it. Also as @Rex said, not a whole lot to love about the fill.

Tried ENDLESS @ 8D and, once that failed, tried ODORLESS @ 38D. Another failure. Motto of the day: LESS is less.

Clues/answers I enjoyed: facet joints (VERTEBRAE), ARTOIS (20A, evocative of STELLLLAAAAA!), NOME, OMASUM, TAXI STAND. The rest, mostly OK, not great.

Id Tim Croce any relation to Jim?

David L 7:51 AM  

I also had SODA at 1A for too long. Because I was jumping about all over the grid I didn't figure out the theme until late, and it was pretty much a letdown by then.

Also in the strained cluing category: according to Wikipedia, the Kroller-Muller Museum (we've all heard of it, right?) is mainly known for its Van Goghs, but they have some stuff by Mondrian and SEURAT too, among much else.

joho 7:57 AM  

Here's to retiring OMASUM.

I was slow on the uptake getting the "theme" in the clues but once I did I thought, hmmmmmm, that's really not so interesting, is it?

Still, I applaud any original idea even if the end result isn't all that spectacular.

Oh, did I mention OMASUM? Ugh.

ArtO 8:19 AM  

like chefwen - soda, not cola and doting not laxest really fouled up the nw. never thought of mantras as prayer -transendental meditation aid maybe but not prayer.

Skua 8:22 AM  

The Grid is 16x15.

davko 8:43 AM  

Nearly was naticked by the obscure OMASUM at 6D (aka "bible?" Really?) crossing with the only vaguely familiar SEURAT, which I somehow pulled out of the deepest recesses of the subconscious mind.

We've sure been getting a lot of ASS lately, Will -- is this the new EWE?

CFG 8:55 AM  

I was hampered in the NW by SODA, too. It was a little bit of a let-down to get the theme answers but then realize that they wouldn't help clarify any of the many blanks still left to fill in. An impressive feat, though, coming up with all of those clues.

GILL I. 9:05 AM  

I wanted to marry Johnny MATHIS (along with Roy Rogers) when I was young(er).
After I finished the puzzle I thought to myself this had to have been incredibly hard to construct. I'm not a fan of gimmicky type puzzles but I thought this was a pretty good ODOR FREE feat.
Yes REX, Sedona is one of the most beautiful places you can visit. I guess you have to like high desert (or not) to take in some of the most spectacular vistas created by wind and erosion.

connie a 9:07 AM  

Best X Clue or not, 48 A "Xavier Cugat film "- Were Never Lovelier" Mr. Fred Astaire and Miss Rita Hayworth may have something to say about the clue. It's *their* film. Xavier Cugat appears in it.

Blue Stater 9:09 AM  

Worst in a long time.

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

Re 28D - What the hell is STE, and how does it relate to "Division of an office bldg"?

jesser 9:14 AM  

I have no love for this one, although I gotta admit the cluing A to Z is pretty cool. I was Naticked at 37A/26D, but otherwise slogged through this. It felt way more Friday than Wednesday to me, but not in a good way. Maybe I'm just grumpy.

JenCT 9:17 AM  

Add me to the SODA crowd.

Just not on the same wavelength - I ended up quitting before I finished. Too many errands to run today.

H.S. Graduation tomorrow - I can't believe it!

Anon 9:10 9:21 AM  

STE = Suite, never mind.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

@Anonymous 9:10, does it perhaps stand for "suite" (e.g. 1234 Main St, Ste 400)?

joho 9:23 AM  

@anon 9:10, STE is an abbr. for suite.

jp 9:28 AM  

Have to agree with Rex on this one. There are puzzles that are written to entertain the solver and then there are ones that are meant to impress us of the constructor's abilities. This puzzle belongs to the latter.
I am not a big fan of "instructions" type puzzles. I got the instructions alright but had some blanks left in the SE corner. Too bored to google. Typical Wednesday in terms of difficulty for me.

thursdaysd 9:35 AM  

Did not like this one, unlike ACME will give it a BADRAP (which started as BumRAP). I got the theme off THEFIR from crosses, but was unimpressed by having so much of the grid taken up by the reveal, by too many obscure names, and by uninspired clues.

LAXIST? ODORFREE? OMASUM? SLAT? PERT for vivacious? ADORNING? Have no memory of NETZERO and I was on the net well before '98. SEDONA is pretty enough, if pricy, but had no idea McCain had a ranch there.


Norm 9:47 AM  

I have to give this puzzle a little bit of love, if only because I found it so baffling at the outset and then stumbled into CLUEGO off of MANTRAS, SEISM & SMUT, and was off to the races. Filled in the theme before anything else, slowed a bit by trying to fit some form of "alphabetical" into 60A but a nice run. Today's captcha is "refox" and I'm sure using that in a puzzle would call down the wrath of Rex on the constructor!

nanpilla 9:49 AM  

I print the puzzle from the website, and I've got "Dominique, e.g." for the clue for 28d.

Puzzle felt very clunky for very little pay-off. Probably something more impressive for those who construct than us solvers.

hazel 9:59 AM  

this doesn't really strike me as a constructor trying to show off his abilities as much as a constructor trying a gimmick to get a puzzle published. maybe its been done before (i wouldn't remember) but it still seems a fairly unique concept.

that being said, it wasn't my cup of tea. i did it last night and had to look at it this morning to remember ANYTHING about it. do like TAXISTAND and SCREED - a cool word dating back to 13th c (love my new Ipad app!). CLUEGO looks ridiculous.

CoolPapaD 9:59 AM  

Loved this, and as usual, I have nothing but tremendous respect for the constructor's ability to CREATE something like this. I thought the fill was challenging, but I was able to fill in a nice chunk once I understood the theme and had enough of the letters in the reveal answers to complete 21, 38, 41, and 60A.

The clue for VERTEBRAE seemed quite difficult, even for a solid medical student. Loved it for obvious reasons!

Having something like "Italian style" as part of the clue for 35D would have been nice - that was tougher than necessary.

Now I'm compelled to learn the names of all (?4) stomachs!

Howard B 10:25 AM  

There is really no reason that I should like this puzzle, but at the end of the day, the question is, was it fun?

And for unknown, unjustifiable reasons, I liked it - probably because upon finding the theme revealer in the grid, I was conciously noticing the awkward clues (such as the Yount RBIs - Robin Yount respect, woohoo!). Yes, OMASUM is rather nauseating, but I just had fun stumbling through this to see how things would be clued.

efrex 10:40 AM  

Impressive construct, but I'm more inclined towards Rex's pan, despite being less negative towards "answers as instructions" type puzzles. I'd probably be fine with it as a Thursday puzzle, but too clunky for Wednesday. Theme forced awkward cluing for fill like ENTS and TMI. Like others, had BUMRAP before BADRAP. Didn't think I was gonna finish it, but several bursts of insight and luck got me through.

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

I don't think "AS IF" was really a Valley Girl expression. To me, that evokes more of an early 90s, Wayne's World kind of vibe. A Valley Girl would have said "I'm so sure!"

Golfballman 10:54 AM  

why apparently 2 different clues for 28D division of a bldg. Suite. or Doninique, saint. both ste. Are there 2 versions of the same puzzle?

Rex Parker 10:54 AM  

Having seen the movie "Valley Girl," multiple times, I can confirm that the clue on "AS IF" is accurate.


Anonymous 11:00 AM  

@ Anom 10:52. Trust me. "As if" is very (San Fernando) Valley. I live there. "I'm so sure" isn't even close. You can be sure of that.

Mel Ott 11:03 AM  

I'm pretty sure I've seen this theme before. It's ok. Not great but ok. The strictures of the theme sometimes lead to some clunky cluing. Like "Verse oneself in". I had to read that sucker six times before the light dawned.

SEDONA is indeed beautiful, even to this confirmed water person.

The description of OMASUM is even uglier than the word. I will now try to purge the word from my memory.

Joe 11:05 AM  

Meh. Hated it.
Didn't like many of the clues.

Karen 11:22 AM  

What Joe said....Meh. Not particularly fun for the solver.

santafefran 11:44 AM  


scorpros--those who make a lot or RBIs

David 11:45 AM  

God help me, I am a BIG fan of the movie Valley Girl. Great Graduate-like scene ends the movie, and I just liked the chemistry between Nicolas Cage and the female protagonist.

Puzzle felt FRIDAY-esque for a few minutes, so I went to the bottom, got a bunch of easy ones, and the key was trusting that 66A - Facet joints connect them - didn't have to end in an S. That got me FROMATOZINORDER immediately, and then with the CLUE part of CLUEGO in Part 3, I took a quick look at the clue structure, got my AHA and solved the rest.

I wanted BALI for MALI, thinking Papua New Guinea/Bali vs. Guinea/Mali, so TMI was the final answer for me.

Never heard of OMASUM, thank goodness for crosses.

Evan K. 11:53 AM  

I saw the theme well before I got many of the answers.

The cluing is rather astounding. Just consider that "Second part of the description" and "Third part of the description" have to be adjacent to each other alphabetically as well as exactly in the middle of the puzzle.

Just imagining how easily everything could have been skewered during construction of this puzzle reminds me of:

[April 13, 2003]

Nothing compares to the above, of course, bur I have respect for the constructor for making today's puzzle work. Interesting change of pace.

Lewis 11:58 AM  

For 62D I had ITUP and that had me stuck for a little bit.

For 17A I had LEAPTO, which gave me APORNING for 12 down, which set my imagination off as a Christmas tree activity...

Noam D. Elkies 12:13 PM  

I had fun with this one — thanks, TC! Noticed the XYZ sequence in the 12D-14D clues early on, so figured out the pattern, and then enjoyed the various ways the clues accommodated this constraint, including the inspired/lucky pairing of Second/Third. Didn't notice 16x15 — thanks, Skua — which makes 8D:END_LATE and 45D:RUN_OVER symmetrically placed; in most any other puzzle they'd get the same clue. I wonder how many clues (or entries!) Will Shortz changed here.


Noam D. Elkies 12:17 PM  

P.S. 54D:SCREED is indeed nice, but not quite new according to xwordinfo (one previous showing). The symmetrical 18A:TAXI_STAND and 66A:VERTEBRAE are new, as are 3D:LAXEST, 39D:FLURRIED, and the useful 13D:IT_ISN'T_SO ("it ain't so" hasn't been used yet either).

And 70A:SEDONA spelled backwards makes a word that has also appeared in the NYTimes a number of times.


Janet 12:20 PM  

No way!!! So I like totally messed up the NE corner! Had Nestle for 1-D thinking "Moo" was like, some sort of dairy drink, which led to the bogus Nehi for 1-A, and it was all way too grodie from there. What-ever.

Rube 12:43 PM  

I too wanted soda at first, but then thought, no, sodas are carbonated. Aerated is something different. Oh, well... that's the license of crosswordland.

Wanted SErRATE for the painter and when that didn't work changed the r to an e for OMASeM, and left it that way. Thus, DNF on a Wednesday, (sob).

Found this definitely a challenging Wednesday. Did most of it last night, but had to leave it until this morning to get SCREED and to change from lEtSIN to SEESIN so that I could put SEDONA back in.

Did I like it? If I talk about ADORNING the Xmas tree, the family will have me locked up. SCREED is my WOTD.

KarenSampsonHudson 12:52 PM  

Most of the answers came fairly easily to me, but I felt about this puzzle the way my husband feels about jazz: "It's musician's music, not for everyone." !

WesIsland 1:18 PM  

Seemed very challenging for a Wednesday. And have the same question as @Golfballman -- why two clues for 28D, i.e., (1) "Division of a building, Abbr." (it seems from above discussion) and (2) "Dominique, e.g.: Abbr." (in my version)-- both answered STE ? Also, really struggled with "Just left a dusting, say" clue leading to FLURRIED. Anyone else?

GILL I. 1:18 PM  

My two (so far) laughs of the day:
@davko - "a lot of ASS lately, Will---is this the new EWE."
@janet who perfectly mimicked every ASS who does a facial commercial.

Anonymous and Masked 1:20 PM  

Very interesting construction. Many puz's have 78 words, but they are usually 15x15. This one was 16x15. And then had 15-letter long answers! Weiiird. Wonder why.

Next challenge: puz where every clue starts with a U; that'd be subtle.

Your Friendly Weatherman 1:22 PM  

@WESISLAND - A brief flurry of snow will leave a dusting of snow.

jberg 1:26 PM  

What everyone else said, though I didn't really mind it. But - has anyone ever actually seen ETD? I wanted DEP.

ANON B 1:29 PM  

The construction was not cool or clever, it was brilliant.
When I finish a puzzle I usually
admire the clever cluing and ignore the hum-drum or questionable
But then, if everyone were like me, there would be no need for the
comments. All I really use this site for is to get answers when I
can't finish a puzzle.
One more thing. I do the puzzle
for enjopymentg. If I were to time
myself it would be like work.I
don't see the point.

ANON C 1:44 PM  

@anon b - thanks for sharing.

evil doug 1:53 PM  

"overpermissive bowel to the extreme"=exlaxest


Martin 1:56 PM  

He's ST, not STE.

There's also a Sainte Dominique, but even the Pope doesn't know who she is.

I will defend the Dominique clue as correct but highly sucky. Hence the unsucky suite clue

mac 2:02 PM  

Another crunchy one. Agree with a lot of you, not a very satisfied feeling after solving. I figuren out the theme quickly, but that didn't improve things much.

Isn't it enough to say Omaha for the tribe member from Nebraska?

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which today announced that one of the paintings always thought to be a self portrait, is actually one of Vincent's brother, Theo, holds most of his work. The Kroller Muller is a beautiful museum in a beautiful, verdant area in the middle of Holland, is not specifically known for them. Many impressionists and sculptors of that era are represented there.

Love screed! And osso bucco.

Tony from Charm City 2:12 PM  

This puzzle reminds me of one from about a year or so ago where every entry began with the same letter as the clue. Led to some horrible fill and cluing, just like this one.

Stan 2:35 PM  

Wait, does @Martin's comment mean that the clue for STE in the printed puzzle was a correction of the clue in the online version? I would have thought the print version would be the earlier one.

Z 2:50 PM  

As I worked through the dreck that was the short fill to expose the theme answers I thought to myself, "this theme better be a great one." It wasn't.

Looking at it now, it's like listening to some avante garde jazz where one can be impressed with the technical skill demonstrated by the musicians, but you never want to play the lp/cd/file again.

Brian 3:01 PM  

Ugh. Plenty of respect for what the constructor achieved, but . . . ugh. Too tough for me. I couldn't get a foothold and even when I figured out the theme it didn't help me get any answers.


For a while, I thought there was some kind of cow theme going on: CATTLE, "'Moo' Makers," "Ruminant's third stomach," "Ungulate's hoof, essentially."

I was way wrong. Ugh.

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

@Brian - your cow mini theme was almost there, except that the Ungulates clue isn't among them. The only ungulates which has a TOE as a hoof are the various equines. The vast majority of ungulates, including all cattle, have TOES.

sanfranman59 3:29 PM  

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

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

Wed 18:06, 11:51, 1.53, 100%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 9:57, 5:51, 1.70, 100%, Challenging

Part of the reason for the high solve times on this puzzle is undoubtedly that it's a 15 x 16 grid. But given that the next highest Top 100 Wednesday median solve times in my spreadsheet are 8:21 (Julian Lim's 1/6/2010 puzzle) and 7:54 (Corey Rubin's 6/10/2009 puzzle), this one still stands out as well beyond the norm.

Bob Kerfuffle 3:32 PM  

@mac - Actually, the clue for 2 D only says "Native Nebraskan," with no reference to tribe. We call Warren Buffett an OMAHAN, meaning he comes from Omaha. As far as I know, he is not Native American, which if he were might allow calling him an Omaha! :-))

CoffeeLvr 3:56 PM  

Before today, I thought the whole point of a theme was to help with the solve. This one didn't. Didn't make me laugh either.

I went to bed with everything but Minnesota and Iowa done. Forgot where the Bering Sea is, couldn't recall a singer from ??THIS, and couldn't spell Seurat. This afternoon, I did remember Johnny, did see the Sea, and those gave me MANTRAS, which gave me SEURAT. The cow's stomach appeared. Wow.

Anonymous 4:17 PM  

Probably the only time you'll ever see the number 1,406 in conjunction with any baseball player other than Rickey Henderson (his 1,406 steals are first all-time).

Neville 5:18 PM  

When you flip the puzzle over and know the theme immediately because you notice the WXYZ run in the early down clues, it kinda takes away all the potential for pizzazz :(

Glitch 5:40 PM  

@Anon 4:17p

Also, it's probably the only time you'll see 1,406 in a clue where the answer isn't MCDVI.


long suffering mets fan 5:44 PM  

AWESOME PUZZLE !!!! first time poster, reading this blog for about a year -- not a speed solver. like a previous poster, I do crosswords for enjoyment, its not a job. to me, a puzzle should do 3 things: entertain, challenge your brain, and teach you new things -- this one did all 3!!!! more Thurs/Fri than Weds, but thats great

jackj 5:54 PM  

I suspect many constructors will rave about this puzzle but, not being part of that union I agree with those who have strongly declared "meh".

A bad gimmick made worse because not only are the answers strained, the clues have been equally bastardized by the alphabetic force-feed.

Some puzzles give no pleasure whatsoever on completion and this one is Exhibit A in my book.

Anonymous 6:30 PM  

dnf, too challenging for a wednesday methinks. did't get the directions until i came here. not on the right brain wave today.

Anonymous 6:42 PM  

Can anyone explain "I guess there might be some joy in breaking the code (... DRINK MORE OVALTINE ...), but that part wasn't terribly difficult, or terribly revelatory ... or rather it *was* revelatory, just of something I didn't care about ("huh ... OK ... back to filling in this mediocre grid, then ...")."?

Sfingi 6:52 PM  

Difficult for me.

In 1964, The OrlonS also had a hit by the name of No Love but Your Love. This was one of the many hold-ups for me.

I always thought of SCREED as a written device - or that thing that scrapes and even off cement.

And - how does he expect us to know where all of McCain's 8 homes are? He doesn't even know.

retired_chemist 6:58 PM  

Did anyone else have REF or UMP for 65D, "Zebra relative?"

XWDer 7:26 PM  

@jackj: constructor here, did not like it, and there's no union here.

Sparky 7:42 PM  

Hung on to soda and doting far too long. Also wanted shugared for FLURRIED. I can't spell some words with sh sounds. There was a sugar shaker on Antiques Roadshow Monday. The theme came slowly; first had LUE then ORDER. Eventualy I csught on. Natick at ES-NS- cross. Passed the time in a waiting room.

michael 8:34 PM  

I really liked this puzzle and didn't find particularly hard (for a Wednesday). Puts me in the minority, I guess...

mac 8:46 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: I don't think that is right. I can be an Omahan without being a native Nebraskan. An American Indian from Nebraska is an Omaha? Or Omahan? That was really my question.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:53 PM  

@mac - I believe we are actually in agreement. Your original question was, "Isn't it enough to say Omaha for the tribe member from Nebraska?" Yes, it is. We might refer to "Omahan culture," but an individual of that tribe may be called an Omaha. However, as I pointed out, the clue makes no reference to a tribe, only a "Native Nebraskan," which by the rules of crosswordese can be read to mean "a native of some certain Nebraska city." As in many clues, it does not preclude natives or residents of any other Nebraska location. So you can be an Omahan without having been born in Omaha, or you could be a native Nebraskan without ever having set foot in Omaha, neither of which invalidates the clue/answer set. And when googling the Indian tribe, they are referred to as the Omaha people, not Omahans.

sanfranman59 10:04 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:25, 6:52, 0.93, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:31, 8:56, 1.07, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 18:36, 11:52, 1.57, 100%, Challenging (highest median solve time of 103 Wednesday puzzles)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:37, 3:40, 0.99, 47%, Medium
Tue 4:53, 4:35, 1.07, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:48, 5:51, 1.67, 100%, Challenging (highest median solve time of 103 Wednesday puzzles)

mac 10:20 PM  

Thanks, Bob, that was the answer I was looking for.

oldbizmark 11:22 PM  

RBIs is incorrect. Just need to point that out (even though I got it right off the bat, being a HUGE Robin Yount fan - got his jersey). RBI stands for "RUNS (hence plural) Batted In." RBIs is Runs Batted Ins? or Runses Battedes Ins? It just doesn't make any sense. Any baseball fan knows that.

LookUpGuy 9:48 AM  


Can go either way. Per MLB rule (10.04) offical scoring is 1 "Run Batted In" (RBI) for every run that scores.

Per the plural in the clue, Yount was credited 1406 of "them".

Dictionaries differ, but most indicate "them" woud be RBIs.

Steve 10:20 PM  

Great fun! A brilliant puzzle.

Ben "The Best" Tuthill 12:09 PM  

This was my least favorite Wednesday in recent memory. What gives it the right to be 16 x 15?

Red Valerian 12:38 PM  

Greetings from syndi-land. I thought this was fun, though extremely challenging for a Wednesday. (Nice to see my impression confirmed by sanfranman59--I was worried that I was rusty from having been on holidays!) Ashamed to admit that I didn't get the theme until quite far along.

I'm not a constructor, but I think it's pretty cool to be able to pull off such a trick. Well done, Tim Croce.

Doug 12:58 PM  

ABs, Hs, Rs, Es, RBIs, Ks, SBs, DPs: all seem "plural-able" by adding the s.

Artois stopped me, since I know it (too well) as a Belgian beer. Had no idea that its adjectival form is artesian, and that the eponymous wells were dug there by Carthusian monks. Well, also did not know there even WERE Carthusian monks.

Anonymous 3:24 PM  

From syndyland. Did not enjoy this puzzle and as others have said, found little satisfaction in the solving of it. I'm sure the construction was "brilliant" as someone said, but to me the solve must be FUN and this one wasn't. I did like OSSO and VERTEBRAE, though.

Dirigonzo 5:51 PM  

I noticed the alphabet gimmick pretty early on, so that helped me figure out the theme answers and that helped a lot with the rest of the puzzle. There was lots I did not know (ERTE?) and I checked a couple of times to be sure it was really a Wednesday puzzle. Nice to see "From A to Z..." in the grid instead of as a weak clue. I actually thought the mandates of the alphabet gimmick resulted in some prety clever cluing, e.g., Verse oneself in = LEARN took some time to figure out even after I had it from the crosses.

Put me in the "like" column.

Looking forward to tomorrow with trepidation.

Eastsacgirl 8:17 PM  

Ooooh yuck! Had a terrible time and even when things starting falling into place didn't get much pleasure from it. A tad harder than Wednesday usually is.

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

@CoffeeLvr 3:56 PM
Before today, I thought the whole point of a theme was to help with the solve. This one didn't.
Really? It certainly helped me with the solve. I had THE FI_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ / O_ _ _ _ _ / _ L _ _ _ _ / (L)_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ R _ _ _and was able to reason FIRST LETTERS OF EACH CLUE. A quick glance at the first letters of each clue instantly helped me fill in the rest of the "description". That's 35 squares directly stemming from the theme.

I also now had a hint that some of the clues were going to be clunkier than they'd need to be.

The plural of RBI (run batted in) is RBI (runs batted in). Yastrzemski had 1844 of them. In fact "Yaz" would have been a nice hint for the acronym (making RUNS and HITS less likely).

@long suffering mets fan 5:44 PM
Thanks for Carlos Beltran (RBI have been in short supply for the Giants this year)

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