1924 Edna Ferber novel / MON 7-11-11 / 1972 Bill Withers hit / Pair of cymbals operated by pedal / Holder of birdseed / Icy expanse redundantly

Monday, July 11, 2011

Constructor: Ellen Leuschner

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Redundantly" — common two-word phrases that are (allegedly) redundant, with every clue ending, "redundantly"

Word of the Day: "SO BIG" (62A: 1924 Edna Ferber novel) —

So Big is a 1924 novel written by Edna Ferber. The book was inspired by the life of Antje Paarlberg in the Dutch community of South Holland, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. It won the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1925. (wikipedia)
• • •

Seems like a fine Monday puzzle, though I've heard some summaries that were Not At All brief, so I'm not buying that one as much as the others. "Brief" is a relative term. A summary is by definition briefER than its object, but, depending on context, might not feel "brief" at all. Anyhoo, it's no big deal. I mean SOUTH is not literally DOWN except by map conventions. I suppose you could pick any of these apart if you really wanted to, but that seems mean-spirited and dark-hearted. My time was actually a little slower than normal, but I made some stupid mistakes and a Lot of typos, so I doubt this is any harder (or easier) than your typical (very easy) Monday.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Place of refuge, redundantly (SAFE HAVEN)
  • 29A: Icy expanse, redundantly (FROZEN TUNDRA)
  • 47A: Synopsis, redundantly (BRIEF SUMMARY)
  • 64A: Where snowbirds head, redundantly (DOWN SOUTH)
Here's how a speed solver can go badly awry on a Monday:
  • Get confused by the gendering of 1D: Cowgirl's rope (LASSO)—no reason the rope can't belong to a girl, but in a world where the generic is usually masculine (sexist convention, but convention nonetheless), "girl" triggers thoughts of "there's a *girl's* rope?"
  • Think that the "celebrity" in 8D: Celebrity is a person (RENOWN)
  • Go with SNOBBY before SNOOTY (28D: Having one's nose in the air)
  • Spell RAZE "RASE" (31D: Bulldoze)
  • Fail to adjust the size of clue box to its biggest setting and thus not be able to read the full clue at 37A: 2006 title film character who says "Pamela! I no find you attractive anymore! ... Not!" (BORAT)
  • Try I FORGET before I FORGOT (44D: Excuse for a lapse)
  • Assume 55D: Pair of cymbals operated by a pedal is an S-ending plural (HI-HAT)
  • Fail, until the bitter end, to understand what 33D: Dead center? was all about (TOMB)

  • 29D: Holder of birdseed (FEEDER) — how is this different from [Birdseed holder]. Did you want me to think the answer was ERIC? If so, no dice!
  • 7D: Like a car with 20,000 miles on its odometer (USED) — that's a long (and arbitrary) way to go for USED.
  • 35D: Lighter-than-air aircraft (DIRIGIBLE) — Nice word. Is the helium considered part of the aircraft? Or is it considered something you put *in* the DIRIGIBLE (e.g. I don't consider gas, oil, transmission fluid as part of the car). Because the "aircraft" is "lighter-than-air" only with the helium inside.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Matthew G. 12:17 AM  

Bless you, Rex. I went badly awry in several of the ways you listed here, and threw my pencil across the room when I stopped my stopwatch and looked at my time. I've been backsliding on every day of the week lately for reasons I can't figure out, after a long period of constantly improving times.

And then you used this puzzle as an example of Monday traps for the unwary, and I felt a bit better. Thank you.

Anyhow, great debut, Ellen! Here's to Monday themes that are tight and yet understated.

syndy 12:21 AM  

AS a conglomerate the dirigible is lighter than air- the helium (if used:by idiots)is not fuel;hopefully anyway Hindenberg aside .fun breezy puzzle except I don't think TOAD hops! he Tears down the road in a sporty RED ROADSTER! if there is a girls rope it "shirley" is a LASSo!

CoffeeLvr 12:21 AM  

@Rex, as helium is non-combustible, I don't think it is the fuel used in the engines on a dirigible.

A nice Monday, and a super debut. Congrats, Ellen.

Anonymous 12:26 AM  

I think Brief Summary is supposed to be redundant because of the noun, a brief, literally meaning a summary

Rube 12:29 AM  

This was a pleasant, enjoyable Monday. Particularly enjoyed DIRIGIBLE and SNAREDRUM and the theme answers were OK too. Will have to ivestigate this BORAT thing.

I have no idea what a HIHAT has to do with cymbals. Will investigate this too. I'm sure some aspiring drummer will enlighten me in the meantime.

PurpleGuy 12:37 AM  

Wow. What a fun puzzle, and one of my fastest times ever! I guess I was in the right mind set!
@syndy- I should have thought of that for LASSo. My only write over.I started to put in LARIAT, it didn't fit, PLUS I already knew the crosses.
Many sighs !!!!!!!!!!!
HOwever, the rest of the puzzle went down easily.

Tucson is SOUTH of Phoenix, or DOWN. Most summaries are brief, compared to the original data. I had no problem with the theme answers.

I thought HIHAT would be the WOD. I have never heard of that, or encountered it. That was the only place where I needed all the crosses.

Thank you Ellen for a nice Monday puzzle.
Thank you @Rex for a comical write up.

I'd like to EASE on DOWN SOUTH for a SAFE HAVEN from these crazy dust storms in Phoenix.

Have a great Monday all!!

Shanti -

santafefran 12:43 AM  

Ole to Ellen!

I flew through this with no write overs and in record time, so OUZO easy. Ouzo is delish as is raki (Turkish version), but even better and more refined is a little-known Yucatan anise-flavored liquer call Xtabentun. Try it if you are ever in that neck of the woods.

thursdaysd 1:07 AM  

That was a lot more fun than Sunday! Nice to see DIRIGIBLE, and I GROAN for all puns...

I had geeK before DORK, and DOwSE before DOUSE and needed all the crosses for HIHAT. See OCTOPI has made a quick comeback.

PurpleGuy 1:16 AM  

@santafefran - opah to OUZO!!!!!! I like all things anise(licorice).
I've been able to find some authentic Absinthe, which is really cool.

Isn't a DIRIGIBLE filled with Hydrogen ?

Ellen L. 1:22 AM  

Another constructor lurks among you. I've been reading Rex's blog for some time now, but I've never spoken up. Until now! Thanks so much for all the kind words! I hope you all enjoyed the puzzle as much as I enjoyed creating it.

I had anticipated commenting sporadically until my puzzle was published - easing myself into the cru - so someone besides my husband could cheer for me. I submitted the puzzle in January and received notice of acceptance in May. I thought it would be a year or so before it ever saw print. So much for that plan.

I'm happy to have survived my initial review. Phew. Now I can sleep peacefully.

- Ellen/The New Girl

P.S. If you have a tough day, just say DIRIGIBLE over and over. I promise it'll help you feel better.

andrea chaos michaels 1:35 AM  

Ellen... :)
Really liked it. No nits to pick!
Never heard of HIHAT either, but laughed to think there has been a DOH clue, ears before the Simpsons existed!

And of course it's LASSo or it would be called a LADo. Is that the joke everyone is trying to make? (GROAN)

I always think of something as being able to OPT OUT, never thought about OPT IN. Now I will.
I would like to OPT IN on the congrats of a nice fun debut.

And I like the light sprinkle of Zs throughout.
And starting with Frog LEGS and ending with TOAD. Had BEANPOLE been TADPOLE you'd have had a whole mini-theme, warts and all!

Rex Parker 7:06 AM  

Ugh, to be clear, I didn't mean to imply the helium was fuel, just something that (I assumed) was added to make it float. My question was whether the helium was in it all the time, as an essential, constant component, or whether it had to be "filled" from time to time.


CFXK 7:16 AM  

I understood "brief" as the noun meaning a summary of one's case -- hence the redundancy.

dk 7:42 AM  

Some old chestnuts, interesting theme, foreign words... all we needed was a bass drum to complete the trap set.

@Rube, the two abutting cymbals on the pole are the HIHAT.

*** (3 Stars) Bravo, great debut.

I find myself thinking of this blog as the click and clack of the puzzerati... That is when I am not humming A Froggy Went A Courtin.. Leon Redbone version.

Z 8:29 AM  

Nice debut.

Did the puzzle online last night, confirming once again that I prefer the dead tree version. Much of my dislike has to do with the puzzle interface. Why should you need to manipulate anything to see the full clues?

Had some of the same stumbles as Rex, but everything came together. Learned the term "hi-hat" from an Aimee Mann interview where she observed that her original 'Til Tuesday drummer hated the sound.

Didn't understand 33D Dead Center, then never looked at the clue again. Thanks for pointing it out, RP.

Visited the fishmonger at Detroit's Eastern Market on Saturday. The hand written sign advertised "smelts." Today it is the metallurgical version of the word.

joho 8:36 AM  

I smiled at HIHAT as it brought back memories of my stepson Bryan's former very loud love of drums and how we learned about Zildjian cymbals.

Congratulations, Ellen, on your debut! Nary a GROAN from me.

jesser 8:43 AM  

Wow. I must have on my Lucky Shoes or something, because I flew through this one and didn't fall into any of the traps Rex encountered. The only places I even hesitated were at 9D and 33D, but the crosses put them away in short order. I might have had a writeover at 44D, but I left that penultimate space blank and let the POLLO scratch it in for me.

Memo to Ellen: I have a day full of deadly serious meetings ahead of me, and if I bust out laughing because the word 'DIRIGIBLE' is looping in my brain, I'm going to blame you publicly!

Finally, I have not grinned so much in a l-o-n-g time as I did about yesterday's puzzle, Rex's write up and the comments that ensued. That got milked for all it was worth!

efrex 8:48 AM  

Brava, Ellen! I suppose I could nitpick some of the fill, but there's nothing too horrible in there, and the theme is quite nice.

DIRIGIBLE is a great word, and while I never saw BORAT, that's a fun contemporary clue. Loved the clue for TOMB, too. Surprised at how many people didn't know HIHAT.

Brian 8:48 AM  

Easy Monday. Or is that redundant?

I thought this was a perfect Monday puzzle. Smooth fill and pleasurable, clever theme. Particularly enjoyed DIRIGIBLE and SNAREDRUM.

Laughed out loud when I filled in OCTOPI, recalling recent posts decrying the plural form. Grinned at SMELT, recalling recent posts on its unpleasant taste.

There were two pretty long clues (for BORAT and LEANONME), which I surprisingly found bugged me just a tad. I realized maybe I disfavor long clues? Or maybe it's just that when I'm clipping along I get impatient with having to read a dozen or so words?

Or maybe I'm just lazy?

Great puzzle, Ellen!

Tobias Duncan 9:20 AM  

This passes all my Monday tests with flying colors,thanks Ellen.
When Borat came out, I saw a few interviews and thought "now there is a clever comedian, that looks like fun", so I took my mother and my 14 year old nephew to see it.I sat in the middle.Very traumatic.
Email me if you want Google+ invites.

chefbea 9:21 AM  

Congrats on your debut of a yummy puzzle Ellen!!!

We will have frogs legs in a pesto sauce along with smelts, octopi and pollo. @Quilter 1 can make the bread with the doh, and we will wash it all down with ouzo. Bon appetite!!

Glitch 9:37 AM  


A DIRIGIBLE has a solid framework (a Blimp does not, think balloon), and generally filled with helium or hydrogen..

Inert helium is the safer fill, as @CoffeeLvr pointed out, does not burn.

The Hindenberg was filled with highly combustable hydrogen.

Although it's claimed it was because the U.S. prohibited sales of helium to Hitler's Germany, [a point that is both true and irrelevant] the Germans were quite confident in their ability to use hydrogen safely and they never even considered asking to buy helium for the Hindenburg.

@Rex, in any case, the *gas* is not *consumed*, it serves the same purpose, and is refilled, as air in a tire.


OldCarFudd 9:39 AM  

Great debut, Ellen!

I do have one nit to pick. Tundra, in the summer, isn't an icy expanse. It's merely treeless, but has ample low vegetation and supports lots of wildlife. If you dig deep enough into it, you'll come to permafrost - or, at least, you would have before Al Gore warmed the planet and melted it - but if you're standing on top of it in summer, it doesn't look icy at all.

Purple Guy - dirigibles are filled with a lighter-than-air gas so they'll float. Hydrogen is more efficient than helium because it's lighter, but it's dangerous as hell because it's inflammable. I've heard that the Germans continued to use hydrogen because we were the only helium producer and wouldn't sell it to them.

Glitch 9:42 AM  

Make that HindenbUrg.


quilter1 9:43 AM  

Very nice, Ellen, thanks. Just filled it all in with no writeovers and liked the cluing--clever without being too cute.

@Chefbea: quite the buffet.

jackj 9:44 AM  

Terrific debut for Ellen Leuschner! Nice to have another talented constructor in the early week puzzle queue.

Favorite non-theme clues were the spunky entry of UNODOS at 49 down and son of UNODOS, (that would be DOUSE), at 53 down.

archaeoprof 10:03 AM  

Delightful Monday puzzle!

One writeover: loo/LAV.

In the Middle East, OUZO is called Arak.

Congratulations, Ellen! Hope to hear from you often.

kumar 10:24 AM  

A dirigible's lighter than air only with helium inside? That's like saying a car is faster than a tortoise only with gasoline in the tank. Duh!

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

@Glitch - You mean I put air in my tires to make it weigh less???

kumar 10:27 AM  

Air in tires better analogy than gasoline in tank.

Pete 10:30 AM  

The only time we ever hear the phrase "Frozen Tundra" is in reference to Lambeau Field, which is grossly in error. Lambeau Field, even during the famous Ice Bowl, had the turf heated and it never froze. Moisture on the grass froze making it slippery, but the turf never froze.

Alpine Tundras are not necessarily frozen, they just can't support tree growth due to the atmosphere, not temperature.

JaxInL.A. 10:32 AM  

Ah, the joys of positive arexia. I thought this would come in as "easy," I flew through it, thinking "nice, nice."

One of my favorite background features of the TV show Fringe is that, in the alternate of our universe, they have commercial DIRIGIBLE travel, including using the top of the Empire State Building as a port. I continue to pray that society and business will get a clue about the great financial and ecological advantages of lighter-than-air travel, but that damned Hindenberg dominates the public memory. I'd ride one in a heartbeat.

I like how @MatthewG put it: hooray for "Monday themes that are tight but understated." Congratulations, Ellen! It's nice to know that you have been a Rexworld reader, and glad you are now a writer as well.

Given that Will's stack of Monday puzzles is his shortest, I'm not surprised that the turnaround from notice to publication is pretty short.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

I guess I'll be in the minority and say this puzzle was weak. I didn't get the theme while solving.

You can get a BRIEFSUMMARY of a lot of things. Also, DOWNSOUTH? How is that redundant?

I don't get the Life of Riley clue. EASE? No idea. Didn't help that I had LOO for a long time for W.C. giving SAFEHOUSE. Also crossed with BEANPOLE, an expression I've never heard anyone ever say.

Also, DIRIGIBLE is a word I've never heard. It took every single cross to get that one. Never knew that pigs could ROOT.

Having SADE, OREM, and TORA cross is cruel as well.

Overall, a bad Monday and probably a better Tuesday. Felt more like a puzzle for my parents.

JenCT 10:38 AM  

Same LOO to LAV writeover, plopped in ORZO before OUZO (confusing my ingredients), and RENOWN took a while.

Also surprised that HIHAT gave some people trouble.

Nice debut @Ellen, thanks!

Masked and Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Dirigible, dirigible, dirgbile, dirggle, dirblxft...

Yup, feel better already. Thanx. (Cinnamon rolls help, also. So did this puz.)

U, U, U, U, U, U, U! Now I'm really feelin' great!

Nice debut, New Girl. Now, go lasso another theme, and fill up another grid (don't recommend using helium, tho). Want more.

Do you decline the word lasso, lasso, lasso? I'da thought lasso, lassie, lassitude. Wrong again, M&A brain.

Dirigible Donna 10:52 AM  

I'm getting better at solving the early week puzzles---still struggling later in the week---and this was a fun outing. Lots to like such as SNARE DRUM with HI HAT.

I had a question about I BAR (34D). Is that something that exists outside of crossword puzzles? My husband, who works in construction, has never heard of it. I couldn't find any by googling. Just wondering.

Sparky 10:54 AM  

Enjoyable. Congrats Ellen Leuschner. Popped in Bravo before AANDE. 11D fixed that. Happy Monday for me. Up, up, and away in my beautiful balloon.

Glitch 11:01 AM  

@Anon 10:27

No, not lighter, to make/let it *move*.

Although you could drag either, given a big enough tow truck, I mean each *vehicle* under their own power. ;-)


JaxInL.A. 11:01 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JaxInL.A. 11:09 AM  

An account of flying a modern airship (DIRIGIBLE). 

A demonstration of a hi hat symbol set-up.

Pictures of I-Beam Steel Bars for construction that (from the end) look like a capital letter I. 

JenCT 11:12 AM  

@JaxInL.A. I assume you meant cymbal. :-)

Arundel 11:30 AM  

Nice work, Ellen - this was, without a doubt, my favorite Monday in memory. I usually think of Mondays as a quick puzzle to do and be done with, after which I'll just go on some of those Monday things. Not this one!

There was much to savor here. Great phrasing in the clues, nicely obscuring sometimes overused fill. An alternative for the Simpson's 53a DOH. An apt redundancy for 32D's TONS, too.

And then there was Edna Ferber's Pulitzer Winner - never heard of 62a SO BIG. Maybe that makes this more of a Tuesday, but that's fine with me!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:38 AM  

At this point, anything I could say would be redundant.

Stan 11:44 AM  

Let me add my redundant congratulations on a very satisfactory puzzle.

BEANPOLE and DORK reminded me of my crowd in high school.

"Edible frog parts" and "Effect of the moon's gravity" were my favorite clues. @Quilter1 had it right: "clever without being too cute."

Looking forward to more puzzles from Ellen and more comments from @New Girl.

GILL I. 11:45 AM  

Finally getting my REX and puzzle fix but boy did I enjoy the Life of Riley.
I second @Rube - twas indeed enjoyable. I did think though, that the cymbals were spelled 'high hat.'
My newest favorite word now is 'Hope Solo.' What a friggin game.
As they say in Spain - en hora buena Ellen.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Octopuses, octopodes.... hate seeing octopi.

OldCarFudd 11:53 AM  

Glitch - Sorry, but no. Dirigible is a French word meaning steerable (the verb is diriger, to direct or to steer). It applies to any motor-driven lighter-than-air aircraft, or airship. It differs from a free balloon, which isn't steerable laterally - it merely drifts with the wind, although a skilled operator can change direction by going up or down into air that's flowing in a different direction.

Dirigibles are broken down into two sub-categories, zeppelins and blimps. Zeppelins - named for Graf von Zeppelin, who had a pioneer air passenger service with them two years before the Wright brothers' first heavier-than-air powered flight - have rigid frameworks, and the gas bags are carried inside. Blimps have no framework; what you see IS the gas bag, reinforced to carry the passenger gondola and engines. The Hindenburg was a zeppelin; the Goodyear blimp is a blimp. Both were/are dirigibles; neither was/is a balloon.

The confusion comes from the ri-gi syllables in dirigible, which - in this case - have nothing to do with rigidity.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:54 AM  

@JaxInL.A. - Not to be negative, just realistic, you might want to look at this Guest Blog from Scientific American regarding the advantages of lighter-than-air travel.

Emily Lash 11:55 AM  

Would never have gotten dirigible except for re- reading Harry potter and the deathly hallows last night- one of the characters has a dirigible plum tree. Oh if only ...
I agree solid Monday puzzle. Great debut!

Glitch 12:17 PM  


I stand corrected on those points :(


Anonymous 12:32 PM  

The ratings on that show are DOWN.

The ratings for that show have turned SOUTH.

ksquare 12:49 PM  

There's no need to apologize for words you "never heard of". No one (not even Rex) knows everything, but the longer you live, the more you will hear of, so keep on living and learning by doing crossword puzzles and enjoying them.

ksquare 12:50 PM  

P.S. I'm 86.

JaxInL.A. 12:57 PM  

@JenCT, thanks for the correction. Sometimes the autocorrct feature on the iPad is great, and sometimes it makes me crazy. I mis-typed a letter, the program guessed, and I didnt catch it.

@BobK, yeah, I know it's unlikely, and if it were so obvious why has no one done it... But it sure SEEMS like light-than-air transport should work, at the very least for cargo. And if we ever begin figuring in the cost of carbon emissions, perhaps engineers will overcome some of the other problems.

@OldCarFudd, thanks for the helpful distinctions.

quilter1 1:00 PM  

Wow, I learned more about dirigibles today than I knew there was to learn. This is such an erudite community. You guys rock!

We're teaching 8 y/o granddaughter Scrabble. When she won last night she offered me a consolation prize of 50,000 crossword puzzles.

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

@Quilter1 - Yeah, but is she sadistic and they're all Maleska's?

Lojman 1:12 PM  

When my infant son went on an airplane for the first time, he received a certificate commemorating his first flight in a heavier-than-air craft.

The real challenge should be not to say dirigible to yourself when you're blue, but rather to slip it seamlessly into a conversation today, then report back to the forum with news of your success.

Great puzzle, Congrats!

John V 1:41 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, do you mean excessively redundant? :)

Anonymous 2:17 PM  

Dark-hearted and mean-spirited ...
nice subtle redundancy Rex to tie in with the theme.
Guess I was the only one to catch it.

aande carla michaels 2:19 PM  

Fabulous that you are getting your granddaughter started on Scrabble.
Spent all day yesterday in a tournament and by coincidence, I carry my big round board in a Zildjian case...so much more fun to get mistaken on the bus for a drummer than a Scrabble player!
(And yet I didn't know till today HIHAT!)

And glad to see no one got derailed on this plural of OCTOPI. FWIW, in italiano the plural is POLIPI.
(Greek roots, Latinized, so there!)

Unless you are talking about La Poivra...which is the Mafia!

I can assure you, when it comes to getting praise for your Monday puzzle (or any day!), there is no such thing as excessive redundancy!

Joe 3:12 PM  

Good puzzle. Much better than some recent disasters.

Esp. good for a Monday.

Sfingi 3:31 PM  

Seems like every Monday, I have to reset my password.

Did not notice TOMB.

Wanted snUff for DOUSE.

Hubster came in 11,0044th in the Utica Boilermaker 15k at the age of 68 - which is better than I could have done at any age, or if the race was run entirely indoors.

sanfranman59 3:37 PM  

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

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

Mon 7:00, 6:52, 1.02, 61%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:46, 3:40, 1.03, 64%, Medium-Challenging

mac 4:05 PM  

Very good Monday, congratulations on the debut and thank you for speaking up!

I have to say my only real problem (lucky guess) was the h at doh and hihat. Couldn't remember how to spell play doh, and hihat is unknown to me. I'll remember it after the little video!

Victor in Rochester 5:12 PM  

@OldCarFudd: Curious about the use of "inflammable" vs. "flammable". The prefix "in" usually means "not"; examples insoluble, innumerable, etc. In this case, "in" doesn't change the meaning of flammable. Hmmm. Need a linguist.

mmorgan 5:42 PM  

I've been too busy for the blog (*>sniff<*)... but I have to chime in to say that this was totally on my wavelength, I zipped through it without the slightest speedbump, and I absolutely loved it. Charming, lively, and fresh. Thank you and redundant congrats to Ellen!

PurpleGuy 6:13 PM  

@Victor in Rochester -
Inflammable - adjective, meaning easily ignited and ready to burn.

Inflammable - noun, means not able to burn. Inflammable substance. To avoid confusion, it is replaced on fire materials with "flammable."

Hope that helps. Don't you just love our language!!

Shanti -

LookUpGuy 6:30 PM  

@Victor in Rochester

Adding to @PurpleGuy:

Actually they mean the same.

The reason for the confusion comes from people thinking that the prefix in- of inflammable is the Latin negative prefix in- (which is commonly used in English, e.g. indecent).

In actual fact, in this case it is derived from the Latin preposition in. It's easier to think about it with the word inflame.

If you can in-flame something, it is in-flammable (in-flame-able). [wiki.answers.com]

Campesite 6:42 PM  

@PurpleGuy, @Victor: (semi) interesting factoid: in many countries where English is the primary language, tanks or vehicles are marked, correctly if confusingly, with the word 'inflammable.' Presumably written only on those tanks or trucks with substances that can burn ;).

tazio35 6:44 PM  

Nice puzzle, Ellen... Enjoyed it!

Reminded me of a favorite phrase...

A redundant tautology is a tautologous redundancy.


Two Ponies 7:21 PM  

Very enjoyable puzzle and a debut too.
@ New Girl, Thanks, I like your style.
I took the cowgirl clue to be a pun on lass. Good one.

jberg 11:00 PM  

Nice debut. Enjoyed meeting octopi, smelt, and chaos again after their recent appearances - but, as Bob K noted, everything else I could say would be redundant.

Anonymous 11:22 PM  

Anyone care to share where "TMEN" comes from? The clue is "Feds who nabbed Capone". We all know that Capone was done in by the IRS. Is "TMEN" a standard abbreviation for "Taxmen"? If so, I've never heard it used that way.

My puzzle got all messed up there, becuase my first guess was "GMEN", the standard slang for government agents in that time.

sanfranman59 1:17 AM  

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

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

Mon 7:01, 6:52, 1.02, 62%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:42, 3:40, 1.01, 55%, Medium

Anonymous 4:31 AM  

T-MEN are special agents of the Dept. of the Treasury so I assume that is what the T represents.

rjbrunner 5:48 PM  

Dirigible - cool word that even Bob Dylan never got around to using in his lyrics. Best use of the word in rock and roll. Go to the Demeberists "Sons and Daughters" on The Crane Wife album.

Anonymous 2:52 PM  

Nice quick solve, only write-over was SNOTTY for SNObbY.

Nice things: DIRIGIBLE crossing SO BIG; Frog LEGS in NW, TOAD in SE; BLUR at the top, SADE at the bottom; Getting down with SNARE DRUM and HI HAT; Choice of chicken or fish in SW (from what someone posted about SMELT recently I think I'll OPT for the POLLO);

@Anonymous 10:37 AM
I guess I'll be in the minority and say this puzzle was weak. I didn't get the theme while solving.
You're blaming that on the puzzle?

@rjbrunner 5:48 PM
That's always been the knock on Dylan.

Q: What do you get when you cross an octopus with a toad?

Dirigonzo 4:57 PM  

The puzzle hasn't lost any of it's luster in the five weeks it took to get to syndiland - very nice, indeed. Had one writeover because I'm never sure if the sound I make while getting a BACKRUB is AhH or AAH and today I guessed wrong. And there's poor old EDSEL again, right smack in the middle of the grid - will they never let us forget what a failure his car was?

paesessw - I'm not sure what it stands form but I'm pretty sure there's some redundancy there.

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