Vatican tribunal / WED 6-8-11 / Supermodel Wek / Hostess who inspired Call Me Madam / French city 1598 edict / Dudley's love old cartoondom

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: CRAPS / TABLE (37A: With 40-Across, casino fixture) — two theme answers are expressions related to a CRAPS TABLE. Then there's a note: "When this puzzle is done, connect the four V's with a square, the three K's with an upside-down L, and each K diagonally to the nearest V. Then draw a circle around the only X." This gets you a picture of a die with the one (pip) side facing you (51D: Snake eye (as this completed puzzle depicts)=>ONE)

[img courtesy]

Word of the Day: Sir William OSLER (31D: Sir William who wrote "The Principles and Practice of Medicine") —
Sir William Osler, 1st Baronet (July 12, 1849 – December 29, 1919) was a Canadian physician. (pronounced "oh-sler") He was one of the "Big Four" founding professors at Johns Hopkins Hospital as the first Professor of Medicine and founder of the Medical Service there. (The "Big Four" were William Osler, Professor of Medicine; William Stewart Halsted, Professor of Surgery; Howard A. Kelly, Professor of Gynecology; and William H. Welch, Professor of Pathology.) Osler created the first residency program for specialty training of physicians, and he was the first to bring medical students out of the lecture hall for bedside clinical training. // He has been called the "Father of modern medicine." Osler was a pathologist, physician, educator, bibliophile, historian, author, and renowned practical joker.

• • •

Great if you like drawing on your grid, not so great if you like clean grids and tight theme execution. The "note" on the puzzle (which I didn't see until I was finished) is largely irrelevant to the solving experience—at least I imagine so; maybe it helped you get that damned NE "K," which I had to run the alphabet to uncover. I always thought KEN was a man, not a boy (toy), but maybe it's a close call. Anyway, the puzzle is weird for several reasons. First, the "X" that represents ONE (pip) is in the word meaning SIX (BOXCAR), while ONE sits oddly off to the side, all by its lonesome. Second, since when is the *side* of a die relevant? I have no idea what the roll was here; all I know is that it wasn't a SIX or ONE. The CRAPS part of this theme has precisely no relation to the visual representation of the die. And for this I had to endure ALEK (15A: Supermodel Wek) and OSLER and ATHS. and ROTA and *$&^ing AH, SO again? Not worth it.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Cry heard at a 37-/40-Across ("SEVEN COME ELEVEN")
  • 51A: Cold, at a 37-/40-Across (ON A LOSING STREAK)
  • 42A: Six, at a 37-/40-Across (BOXCAR)
Surprised I got through this in a normal time considering I had no idea about ALEK or OSLER or this PETERSON (28A: Colorado Springs ___ Air Force Base) or this PARALLEL (38D: Euclidean geometry's ___ postulate) or ALAN Watts (23A: Philosopher Watts) or this particular incarnation of REA (24A: New Deal inits.). Know MESTA only from being destroyed by her a few years ago (67A: Hostess who inspired "Call Me Madam"). I wonder if I'll remember ALEK or OSLER; I think an answer has to ruin me before it will stick in my brain. Otherwise, it's just a curiosity. Really liked BIG SHOT (42D: Honcho) and the clue on SKINLESS (5D: Like some hot dogs), which had me baffled as I looked for SKIing-related answers.

  • 6A: Weekly reading for drs. (JAMA) — went looking for a plural like MRIS or something, but the terminal "A" straightened me out.
  • 25A: French city with a 1598 edict (NANTES) — also the birthplace of Jules Verne, a fact which has stuck with me for reasons I don't know.
  • 59D: Dudley's love in old cartoondom (NELL) — much better clue than that absurd-looking Jodie Foster movie. "Cartoondom" is a fine word.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

P.S. if you like cryptics, you should try out the debut from the new cryptic writers for The Nation, Joshua Kosman and Henri Picciotto (here). Also, Andrew Ries does a fine "Rows Garden" puzzle every week at Aries Puzzles. If you've never tried one, give it a shot.


Orange 12:24 AM  


As for the P.S., I just bought an online subscription to The Nation so I can get access to the puzzle in PDF form. Nonsubscribers see the clue list double-spaced in a single column that prints out on three to five (!) pages. The Nation publishes roughly weekly (43 times a year, I think). The first Kosman/Picciotto puzzle last week was terrific.

Tobias Duncan 12:53 AM  

Had to run the alphabet a whole bunch of times today.Lots of names I do not know.
Are we not looking down on the die from above?

syndy 12:53 AM  

Never saw the thats one good thing!Did the puzzle in monday time,so thats two.not much to say about the puzzle-but safe area seemed to fall particularly flat wanted sanctuary or save haven or just something else!My one write over was Sir William Paley who I threw in right proudly but I quess he;s not a doctor after all'oh well

davko 12:54 AM  

Some novel words and unfamiliar names of note made this a worthwhile solve, but otherwise, there wasn't much here to get the adrenaline going. Even the diagram was little more than a curiosity, though I was glad to discover the notepad for special instructions (on the downlable version) that I've been ignorant of until now.

I didn't know until now that wickedness can be intrinsic to the word ENORMITY (46A). Obviously, wicked acts of a large scale imply an enormity of crimes, misdeeds, evils, etc., but didn't realize the word can also have a built-in connotation of such.

This fact, plus learning about Osler and Mesta, made for a pleasantly educative Wednesday.

DJG 1:19 AM  

A LOO in the middle of a CRAPS TABLE? Is this puzzle just one big poop joke?

CoolPapaD 1:35 AM  

Never understood how to play craps - I've watched, but had no interest. Vegas is just not my cup of tea, but I did like this puzzle just fine. A few questions, however:

A teaspoon is 5 cc. Isn't an ounce of fluid 28.35 cc? Does this make 1D a bit incorrect?

Am I the only one who thought of Xaviera Hollander (?sp) at 67A?

ahso craps morale 1:40 AM  

NEATO! Even tho I didn't know the exact same list as @Rex...that's a LOT of not knowingdom for a Wed...
I'm wowed by the idea!
TO make a puzzle 3 dimensional with a line here, a line there seems thinking outside the box(car).

Vs and Ks are extremely hard to put into grids, so that was cool, bec Peter Collins couldn't have extra ones...

And a shout-out to Swedish-sounding Doug!

Alia 2:16 AM  

"A teaspoon is 5 cc. Isn't an ounce of fluid 28.35 cc? Does this make 1D a bit incorrect?"

Those are approximations. If you're using imperial measurements, the puzzle is absolutely correct -- it's 3 teaspoons to the tablespoon and 2 tablespoons to the ounce.

It's funny how different people's experiences can be. I actually knew Alek Wek (although couldn't remember if she was Alek, Alec or Alex) and so had a relatively easy time with the NE. By contrast, the SE gave me fits.

chefwen 3:24 AM  

Raced through this one in record time, wanted to finish before dinner guests arrived. Threw on my APRON, set the TIMERS, and found my TSPS measurer before I put the KONA coffee on to brew. Super easy and unlike Sir Rex, I love to draw on my puzzles.

Thanks Peter!

SethG 3:29 AM  

When I saw the upside-down L/connect diagonally instructions, I stopped reading. I totally thought they were asking us to draw a craps table.

A die? Ok, whatever.

GILL I. 4:03 AM  

There's a note?
I've never eaten a skinless hot dog - at least I don't think I have.
Punishment for a teen is no TV?
So at the end, I say oh CRAPS.

Anonymous 6:52 AM  

Hello, and welcome to Natick, California..

joho 7:48 AM  

I had an eerily PARALLEL solving experience as @Rex, not knowing everything he didn't, along with @ahso craps morale it seems. But the "K" in ALEK was easy to get because of KEN. I guessed "O" right for OSLER. It could have been an "E."

I didn't like all the abbreviations: EEOC, NSEC, ATHS, ENVS, and TSPS.

I also didn't see the note so had no idea we would end up with a drawing of a snake eye until I came here. That was a pleasant surprise!

I think this is one of those puzzles whose clever construction causes some problems but, in the end, I'm impressed.

Thanks, Peter!

nanpilla 8:07 AM  

Glad I never saw the note - just reading it makes my head hurt! But at least it explains why the theme seems a little thin.

When my horse SPOOKs, it isn't always slight....

David L 8:34 AM  

Also didn't notice the note until coming here. I liked that the puzzle had some stuff for us science types -- PARALLEL postulate, JAMA, OSLER -- but I have no idea what SEVENCOMEELEVEN means, had to run the alphabet to get the ALEK/KEN cross, and didn't recognize REA or ATH as abbreviations. Is that athletes or Athenians?

Even so, an average Weds time for me.

John V 8:42 AM  

Only pause here were 10D SAFEAREA -- had safe, took a while to see area -- and MESTA/TRISTRAM -- didn't know MESTA and wasn't sure if it was TRISTRAM/N, guessed N, so finished with one wrong letter. Otherwise, agree that this felt more Monday than not.

Not a big fan of drawing on the grid.

Puzzle felt a bit inchoate (my all-time favorite word :)

jesser 8:49 AM  

I subscribe to the NYT for the crossword, which I print out each morning and do on paper, the old-fashioned way. There is no note if you do it this way. Often, there are no circles. Bah.

Only writeover was at 42D, where I first had hot SHOT, before the BOX CAR set me on track.

I do not buy ENORMITY the way it's clued.

I appreciate ACME's comments about the construction feat, but this one didn't make me grin until she showed me the way. I think Rex hit it pretty solidly in his writeup.

New Mexico is smoky today from the Arizona wildfires, and we're being advised that El Paso Electric's main transmission lines are in danger, which could mean massive power outages across the southern part of the state. If you don't see me for a while, it's because I'm without wattage, sizzling in the summer sun. I would trade a Vegas trip for some meaningful rain right about now.

David L 9:00 AM  

@jesser, @davko: The traditional meaning of 'enormity' connotes badness: e.g. "an outrageous, improper, vicious, or immoral act" (M-W). There are some language peevers who object to its being used merely in the sense of something big, but they are fighting a losing battle.

Paul 9:02 AM  

One of my pet peeves is when people use ENORMITY to mean enormousness, so I'm glad to see its preferred (i.e. the only correct, at least in my mind) usage here.

I will never be good at doing puzzles as I read 40D correctly, started typing in TRISTRAM and as I was doing so re-wrote the clue to be __ und Isolde in my mind before I got to the I , and wondered how I could fit TRISTAN into 8 spaces.

CoffeeLvr 9:07 AM  

@DavidL, ATHS left me wondering too. Can't be Athena, because there is only one of her.

I particularly loathe AHSO. No one says that in the context of the clue.

Other than that, I liked the puzzle, liked to grab a highlighter and draw on it after, and learned a couple of things. Must remember ROTA, and the distinction between "enormousness" and ENORMITY. But I could get everything from the crosses. Knew ALAN Watts and William OSLER. Last letter in was the K in ALEK, but I thought of KEN as I stared. The K at the end of Wek will be a good mnemonic for the end of her unusual first name, if she is ever in a puzzle again.

Brian 9:10 AM  

It has to be tricky (and probably maddening) to create a 3-d image on any grid so Mr. Collins gets a big thumbs up from me on that. It was a smooth solve overall and I wasn't put off by most of the fill.

SafeAREA, though? Ugh.

How about Alvin, Alas, Alek, and Alva? That's ALotta ALs.

chefbea 9:25 AM  

Fairly easy puzzle today
I was going to use all the food items in my post but chefwen beet me to it. I suppose she served skinless weiners (oh - I meant hot dogs) to her guests

quilter1 9:36 AM  

@Chefbea: tee hee

I thought this was easy and kind of blah. I don't know gambling, couldn't see the note, and so just solved along until done. The comments and write up are more amusing than the puzzle today. Thanks, gang.

thursdaysd 9:52 AM  

Never saw the note, so was puzzled by ONE. Now I know about the note, don't really care. This went faster than yesterday, although with the help of some inspiration - if I'm in a casino I play blackjack, not CRAPS. Still have no idea about SEVENCOMEELEVEN - does it mean you threw seven and now need eleven?

I had tin before LOO, got MESTA from crosses, and although I knew NANTES I didn't know why I knew it - turns out to have ended the French wars of religion and granted some rights to the Huguenots, but was revoked by the autocratic Louis XIV in 1685.

JC66 10:21 AM  

@ thursdaysd

On the *come out* roll (before a point has been established) a SEVEN or ELEVEN wins bur *craps* (TWO, THREE or TWELVE) loses.

Hope this helps.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:24 AM  

I had a genuine LOL when I read the note. Might be the most steps ever listed?

Amazing construction.

I said it the last time (on a Sunday, I believe, with a much more complete construction) so I'll say it again: A die to puzzle for.

Tobias Duncan 10:27 AM  

Charlie brown used to yell SEVENCOMEELEVEN down in the boys gym.On his knees if I recall correctly.And he wondered why people picked on him... sheesh what a clown.

jackj 10:28 AM  

These gimmicky game concoctions are anathema to many traditionalists but celebrated by most constructors as remarkable achievements. Your choice!

Lest there be any doubt, I'm the self-appointed head of the anathema crowd. Yuck to any non-Gorski scribbles!

Do yourself a favor and put your chips on the "Pass" line and hope that bet comes to be and makes the rest of the week's puzzles winners.

Two Ponies 10:37 AM  

The key to living successfully here in Sin City is to stay away from craps tables and anything covered in green felt or flashing lights.
@ jesser, Good luck.

David 10:47 AM  

I am a bigtime Dead Head, and it came in handy today. Only time I've heard the phrase "Seven Come Eleven" is in the Grateful Dead song "Candyman":

"Seven come eleven, boys, I'll take your money home. Look out, look out, the Candyman - here he come and he's gone again. Pretty lady ain't got no friend till the Candyman comes around again..."

Pretty easy puzzle, and the K in KEN was the last square for me, that and the M in MESTA (I too was flummoxed briefly by wanting Tristan und Isolde, even tho I have heard of TRISTRAM Shandy.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

I solve in the dead tree version and the Note is there - not that I ever look at it, or try to figure out the puzzles. Don't know why the note would not be in the version printed of the subscription NYT.

Had to wait for crosses to figure out if it was Perle or Mesta - her names have the same value.

Hands up for Alek/Alex/Alec, just couldn't remember.

I thought it more medium/challenging on account of all the named people

hazel 11:01 AM  

thank you 18th century british literature teacher (aka the most boring man alive). finally!! a payoff with TRISTRAM!! Waited 25 yrs, but what the hey!!

Pretty cool puzzle. And the instructions made me laugh too, @BobK.

GenJoneser 11:02 AM  

Ahhhh..."American Beauty". Definitely a Desert Island Disc for me. Thanks @David, will be humming "Candyman" in my head all day!

Matthew G. 11:05 AM  

Found this Medium-Challenging for a Wednesday, mainly because of the northern third of the grid. I have never played craps, and so SEVEN COME ELEVEN reads like a nonsense phrase to me. I also do not eat hot dogs, and was unaware that they come in a SKINLESS variety. These made it hard to get an entry in the NW, where I also made a hash of things early by trying CAMPS instead of TENTS and unfortunately didn't see the clue for the obvious EPEE until I came back at the end of my solve. Last letter filled in was the R in PETRI/TORE AT.

The rest of the puzzle wasn't too hard, although ALEK, OSLER and MESTA were all unknown to me, and I worried that one crossing might be PETERSeN/ESLeR.

The theme was fine. Didn't do much for me as a non-craps player, but a drawing puzzle now and then is fun. And just as Rex speculated, it helped me get the K in ALEK/KEN.

Joel 11:19 AM  

I've noticed that Peter Collins' last 5 or 6 puzzles have been pretty negatively reviewed by the puzzle community. It seems that he tends to make puzzles where the theme is the most important element of the puzzle and the resulting fill tends to have lots of crosswordese and abbreviations. From what I've read of Rex, he seems to believe that clean fill with a lame theme is better than a good theme with lame fill. What are other people's thoughts on this? I ask as a young constructor trying to figure out which is more important to crossword solvers nowadays

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

@Joel - Who's your audience? How many attend the ACPT and how many peole do the NYT puzzle each day? How many Will Shortz's are there? Good luck!

Rex Parker 11:37 AM  

Fagliano, is that you?

I've Never advocated "lame" themes. But I can tolerate less-than-stellar themes if fill is great, smooth, etc. My general theory is that if you are going to ask people to eat shitty fill, then your theme better rule. I have forgiven a clunker here and there in an otherwise brilliantly-themed puzzle.

If Will likes your theme, he'll put up with a lot in the way of icky fill. Whether you think the gimmick in any given puzzle is a worthwhile payoff is, of course, subjective. People might admire gimmicks, but if you stick them with maddening obscurities and ugliness, then that's where their attention tends to go (I'm now speaking generally and not just about this puzzle).


Mel Ott 11:59 AM  

Not a gambler and I've never stood at a CRAPS TABLE, but I've never heard of BOX CAR or 'Snake eye' in the singular in this context. This made the theme kind of clunky for me.

Jerry 11:59 AM  

Yes, for Shortz, theme trumps all. I prefer the Peter Gordon method. Kick-ass themes & rock-solid fill. It can be done. He would have rejected this half-baked puzzle or told the constructor to fix it. I miss the New York Sun. :(

PS- "Snake eye" & "Boxcar" are so wrong.

Rex Parker 12:01 PM  

@Jerry, I assume you subscribe to Fireball Crosswords, Gordon's post-Sun venture. See link in sidebar.


thursdaysd 12:03 PM  

I grew up doing cryptics, which never have themes, so the theme is often an afterthought for me. I much prefer good fill - preferably fill that doesn't expect me to know who was MVP in 1952.

Jerry 12:04 PM  

@Rex - Yep, I love the Fireballs. Just wish we had one every day. :)

Masked and Anonymous 12:05 PM  

@jesser: Be safe, and I hope the juice stays on at your place. Just a thought -- I now always use the "print PDF" option, so that you get a facsimile of the dead tree puz, with notes, weird grid attributes, the whole shmear. Just like bein' there.

@joel: Theme Rules, for me, kiddo. I can tolerate fill that will almost make a billy goat puke. As long as the questionable stuff doesn't cross each other, a la Nat-tick. Gotta give us a fightin' chance.

@Peter Collins: Way different, dude! Thumbs up. But don't forget to keep yer U-count up.

mac 12:11 PM  

I don't particularly mind drawing on my puzzle early week. Thought this was pretty solid, but the upside-down L instruction was unnecessary.

No tv for a teen? Try the cell phone. Wondered if there was a 2-letter acronym for it.

I usually like Pete Collins' puzzles because his clues/answers are diverse, covering many different subjects. I had a good time today. Hope I'll get to the puzzle links Rex gave us.

JaxInL.A. 12:11 PM  

I listened to ALAN Watts on the Pacifica network in the 70s. That was a real blast from the past. Somehow i knew all the ALs today (ALAN, ALVIN, ALVA, ALEK, etc.) and had a very average time.

My connection to TRISTRAM Shandy comes from being a diehard Dorothy Sayers/Lord Peter Wimsey fan. That book is what Harriet Vane is reading at the start of Have His Carcass as she ambles down the British coast and stumbles on the eponymous body.

Lindsay 12:12 PM  

Puzzle didn't do too much for me, but now I've got the Alan Parsons Project stuck in my head:

Snake eyes, seven eleven
Don't let me down boys
Gimme, snake eyes, seven eleven
Don't let me down tonight
No, don't let me down tonight

Never knew the song was about craps. Is that what you play with dice?

Joel 12:15 PM  

@Rex: Yep, it's me. I'm going to be doing the internship with Shortz this summer, so I'll ask him what he thinks and post it here!

Thanks other commenters, this is helpful info

pete1123 12:15 PM  

@ Joel & Rex: Well, I wasn't going to say anything today, but now that you mention it, Joel, I have been getting beaten up a bit in the blogs lately. It seems those who comment on the blogs tend to skew more toward the end of the spectrum that prefers clean fill to adventurous themes (bearing in mind that ideally a puzzle would have both). In fact, sometimes I get the feeling that some people wouldn't mind eating oatmeal everyday, as long as there are no lumps in it. Not me. I don't mind swallowing the occasional lump (even if it induces a wince) rather than put up with a lame theme. If I sit down to solve a puzzle and discover that the theme is one of those add-a-letter/drop-a-letter/change-a-letter kind, or (even worse) all- of-the-final-words-in-these-entries-can-precede-this-word kind, all the air goes out of my balloon real quick. That causes a buzz-kill that no amount of sparkling fill can salvage. But I am fully aware that others can turn that statement around 180 degrees. Different strokes, I guess. In the meantime, I will continue on my noble quest to create the perfect puzzle -- one with a killer theme and no crappy fill.

Sparky 12:15 PM  

Had tin and forgot to change it when I got ENORMITY so missed LOO even though I had PROXY. Like @ Nanpilla, the instructions made me dizzy. I just wrote V, K and X with a circle around it on top of the grid. Finished the rest okay with Tess before NELL. KEN took care of the model. Know gambling terms though I seldom gamble. The grid filled out steadily with downs aiding acrosses. I drew the figure in the margin, neater that way.

I knew @Rex would love AH SO. @Chefbea, tee hee2; @BobK, very funny. So, a rebus tomorrow?

Rex Parker 12:27 PM  


I'm gonna be in NYC this summer (just before and leading up to Lollapuzzoola 4) doing some crossword ... stuff ... and would love to meet you. Drop me a line at my rexparker/mac acct if you're interested. Thanks.


LookUpGuy 12:53 PM  

Actually, by the time you get them, most hot dogs are *skinless*:

Hotdog skins are manufactured with cellulose or similar artificial casing material that are then stripped off after the hotdog is cooked. Gone for the most part are the days when they were made of sheep intestines, separated by bits of string, so that one of the town's stray dogs could grab one red hot and run off with a trail of twenty. []

HD's with a natural casing (skin) still on are available, but they are the exception.

Bill Davis, AIA, LEED 12:59 PM  

If my memory serves, Dudley's love was actually his horse (named "Horse"). The horse loved Nell, and Nell loved Dudley to round out the love triangle.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  


"nsec" is NOT a valid abbreviation for "nanosecond".

Just throwing that out there.

GILL I. 1:10 PM  

Thank you for the hot dog information. I'm not too sure I wanted to hear that but it's good to know how pure my dogs are now.
While I'm at it, I need elucidation (love that word) on why a punishment for a teen is NO TV? Can you help?

JaxInL.A. 1:12 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JaxInL.A. 1:14 PM  

@DJG, if you are looking for a racy puzzle, check out today's Onion puzzle by the heretofore apparently mild-mannered Deb Amlen of the Wordplay blog.  It is not for the easily shocked, but is very fun, once you get over the surprise that she/they actually meant to go there.

Rex has the links to the puzzle if you want to check it out.

Older Constructor 1:23 PM  

@Peter: Thanks for stopping by. This was a very ambitious theme, and I for one appreciated it.

@Joel: Good luck with the summer internship. I leave you with this brilliant piece from one of my favorite movies "Ratatouille". May help you as you immerse yourself in the world of submissions from constructors who open themselves up to criticism (sometimes fair, sometimes highly unwarranted).

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.

jberg 1:26 PM  

I'm definitely to be counted among the "language peevers" (great term, David L!) so seeing ENORMITY clued correctly made me like the puzzle from the start, despite the too-wordy directions - on a Wednesday, why not just tell us to connect the Xs, connect the Ks, and put in the diagonals? But making it work must have been tough, and I admired it.

REA was the Rural Electrical Administration; as for NO TV, I'm not sure I get the question, unless you mean that "No TV for a week!" should be considered a reward rather than a punishment.

I also love TRISTRAM SHANDY, which helped more, and made me willing to overlook the differences betweeen SOB and wail, and PAL and sidekick.

Tobias Duncan 2:33 PM  

@ JaxInL.A. I took your advice and went over and did the Onion puzzle.All I can say is that I am deeply deeply offended that you did not bring this to our attention earlier in the day.What an amazing puzzle so fresh and full of life.
I will continue the warning to others though that this one is not for everyone. I am looking at you Quilter1.I have a feeling this might not be your cup of tea.

Two Ponies 2:47 PM  

I must not be able to see the forest with all these trees in my way. I can't find the link to the puzzle at the Onion.
What am I missing? Thanks.

chefbea 2:49 PM  

@bill davis I tried to e-mail you and it came back. Guess I had the wrong address. E-mail me since we are fellow north carolinians!!

retired_chemist 3:11 PM  

Like here not love. Appreciate Peter's visit.

Nice shopping list of 3 letter New Deal acronyms - TVA, WPA, CCC as well as REA. Probably more.

Didn't even notice until now that my 50:50 coin toss @ 11D (OLAV/OLAF) was right.

Mildly disliked 60A Sprinkler attachment (HOSE). It ought to be the other way around. Unless, e.g., HAND is appropriately clued as Glove attachment. Ick.

Last fill was the K in ALEK/KEN, obtained by an alphabet run on ?EN. Oh. THAT boy toy....

Captcha snack - good idea....

JenCT 3:12 PM  

Lots & lots of names today; knew ALEK Wek, OWEN, ALAN, ALVIN, and NELL; the others, no idea.

Wasn't familiar with the phrase SEVENCOMEELEVEN.

Really dislike AHSO.


NOTV would make my son laugh; no Internet, however - now that's punishment for today's teens!

Wow, it's really hot in CT today...

mitchs 4:09 PM  

Can't get through to the across lite Onion puz via Ephraim or Fiend...?

sanfranman59 4:36 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 11:05, 11:47, 0.94, 42%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:01, 5:49, 1.03, 66%, Medium-Challenging

mac 7:47 PM  

@mitchs: that's how I did it.

mac 8:04 PM  

Ephraim, I mean.

michael 8:06 PM  

Had to guess on the nacre/rota cross. Otherwise quite easy, but ok with me.

Z 8:53 PM  

Unlike most of you, this one was pretty challenging for me. Wednesdays are usually done before I take the kid to school, but I had NANTES and nothing else when I walked out the door.

Started in the south after work and that got me going. The list of words totally unfamiliar to me included SEVEN COME ELEVEN, JAMA, ALEK, PETERSON afb, ROTA, NACRE, TRISTRAM Shandy and MESTA. Guessed right on NACRE/ROTA, wrong on TRISTRAn/nESTA.

Overall I enjoyed the solving experience. The difficulty was consistent, so the couple of clunkers (AHSO is pretty bad) did bother me much.

jburgs 9:47 PM  

Reply to Jesser 8:42 comment
I subscribe online to the NYT crosswords and don't have a problem printing them out. The notes and circles (If you mean puzzles that have them in the grid) are always there as they should be. Don't know what would be causing your problem.

sanfranman59 10:02 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 6:35, 6:52, 0.96, 32%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:36, 8:55, 1.08, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 11:12, 11:47, 0.95, 42%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:32, 3:40, 0.96, 37%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:54, 4:35, 1.07, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:45, 5:49, 0.99, 51%, Medium

cody.riggs 1:07 AM  

I just don't get all the people saying "they never saw the note"...I hear this on the blog everytime there's a note. I've never failed to notice/read a note on a puzzle, so this puzzles me, seriously!

Captcha: fismal.

(frustrating and dismal?)

Waxy in Montreal 11:26 AM  

Syndilink not in place yet this morning so had some trouble getting here. Not being familiar with EEOC or the AFB, had PATERSON and AEOC for a personal nattick. Else found it a pretty routine but uninspiring puzzle. Then again, I'm with the curmudgeonly crew that would strongly prefer not drawing all over their completed grids.

Anonymous 12:52 PM  

A lot of names which I did not know, but managed to get from crosses.

@davko - thanks for teaching me the real meaning of "enormity" _ never knew about the inherent wickedness. I always thought of it as just huge ie the "enormity of the situation".

@Anonymous 1:03pm - Have to agree that "nsec" is a stretch for nanosecond.

@Tobias Duncan - The only time I ever heard "seven come eleven" was in the Charlie Brown song - I know all the words but never understood what it meant. Now I have it running through my mind "Seven come eleven, Down in the boys" gym...

Still a relative newbie here so am always happy when I can solve a puzzle with no cheating, but agree with @Quilter 1 that the comments today are more enjoyable than the puzzle.

Deb 2:11 PM  

@CoolPapaD - I, too, thought of Xaviera Hollander and, until Googling moments ago, was echoing Ethel Merman's query: "Who's Perle Mesta?"

@LookUpGuy - Thanks for the history of hot dogs. I've never seen one with a skin in my life, so I was also thinking in ski-bum, "hot-dogger" terms. The clue really should have read "Like MOST hot dogs" to be accurate.

Maybe I'm just too darned old, but I'm really surprised that so many were rankled at NO TV. Ditto for the nitpicks about NSEC, since it shows up in crosswords with some regularity.

I didn't bother with the drawing. The instructions always, ALWAYS make my eyes glaze over, and the one time I actually attempted it my drawing looked nothing like it was supposed to. Two days in a row just felt like punishment.

I am utterly embarrassed that, as a native Coloradoan who has been there more than once, I was completely unaware of the name of the air force academy in Colorado Springs. To me, it's always just been that: The Air Force Academy. In Colorado Springs.

@Joel - My hand's up for great fill with a less-than-stellar theme over the opposite.

Dirigonzo 4:58 PM  

Anonymous 6:52 AM wrote:
"Hello, and welcome to Natick, California.." I don't know who (s)he is, but we might have met as I spent quite a lot of time there; in fact it's where the puzzle ended for me. Also vacillated between eSLER/OSLER, decided the e seemed more probable, proving yet again that a 50-50 proposition is a sure loser for me (and that's why I don't play CRAPS or any other game where the odds favor the house.)

@Deb - I'm pretty sure the Air Force Academy and the Air Force Base are two separate installations - who knew Colorade Springs had so much room!

@Waxy - the syndi link took me to yesterday's puzzle, too, so I just scrolled all the way to the bottom, where you are reading now, and clicked on "Newer Post", and landed at today's puzzle immediately. I can here you saying, "AHSO"!

Deb 5:31 PM  

@Dirigonzo - Well, color me even more embarrassed. I misread the clue, undoubtedly because The Air Force Academy is always what I think of in terms of the Springs. Or, more specifically, the very futuristic-looking chapel there. My mother has a picture of me somewhere, circa 1966 or so, standing in front of it and squinting into the sun.

Waxy in Montreal 5:36 PM  

Just for @Dirigonzo, I'll say it - AHSO!!

BTW, I should have mentioned in my earlier post that while most Canadians aren't familiar with the achievements of native son William Osler, at least my alma mater McGill U. has named him as one of the twenty finalists for greatest McGillians ever. The entire list:

•Maude Abbott, Pioneering Pathologist
•Bernard Belleau, Co-Developer of Anti-AIDS Drug 3TC
•Thomas Chang, Inventor of Artificial Blood Cell
•Thomas H. Clark, Celebrated Geologist
•Leonard Cohen, Renowned Poet and Singer-Songwriter
•William Dawson, Transformative Principal
•Charles R. Drew, Blood Bank Innovator
•Jennifer Heil, Decorated Olympian and World Champion
•John Humphrey, Author of Universal Declaration of Human Rights
•Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s First Francophone Prime Minister
•Stephen Leacock, Legendary Humorist
•William C. Macdonald, Major Benefactor and Founder of Macdonald Campus
•James McGill, University Founder
•Brenda Milner, Trailblazing Neuroscientist
•James Naismith, Inventor of Basketball
•William Osler, Creator of Modern Medical Training
•Wilder Penfield, Founder of Montreal Neurological Institute
•Ernest Rutherford, Father of Nuclear Physics
•William Shatner, Iconic Actor
•Charles Taylor, Prominent Philosopher

Believe it or not, word is that Captain Kirk is the odds-on favo(u)rite to win!

Anonymous 5:54 PM  

@Deb - Dirigonzo is correct, 2 separate installations. Peterson AFB is on the south side of ColoSpgs, Air Force Acad on the north side (I was stationed at latter in late 90s and had a home near the former).

Dirigonzo 6:02 PM  

@Waxy - that certainly is an impressive list of prominent alumni. If Shatner wins it will prove once and for all that in life, as in crossword puzzles, pop culture trumps all other disciplines. But I have OSLER firmly imprinted on my brain now, so that's a good thing.

NotalwaysrightBill 11:41 PM  


Peter Collins threw the di(c)e on a theme with the result coming in somewhere between NEATO and AHSO.

Favorite parts of this puzzle for me were learning about the enormousness/ENORMITY distinction (interesting clueing) and then reading the theme vs fill comments.

Do successful xword constructors have AGENTs?

rain forest 12:02 AM  

From syndiville I always feel that any comment is futile, however, every once in awhile, I throw one in. I really liked today's puzzle, despite the connect the letters instructions (which I never do). Except for Alek, I knew all the other names, and I generally enjoyed the process of completing the fine fill. Sometimes wonder why some constructors continue to subject themselves to such a nit-picking crowd after an admirable construction effort. I wouldn't do it...well, I can't, so moot. Btw, if boxcars are sixes, then a six is a boxcar. If snake-eyes are ones, then a one is a snake eye. QED

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