John Wayne cop film / SAT 7-9-11 / Bellatrix's constellation / Media inits since 1970 / Aster relative / Deadening agent / Radially symmetric creature

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Constructor: Caleb Madison

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: OPPUGN (25D: Question the truth of) —

tr.v., -pugned, -pugn·ing, -pugns.
To oppose, contradict, or call into question.

[Middle English oppugnen, from Latin oppugnāre, to attack : ob-, against; see ob- + pugnāre, to fight with the fist.]

• • •

This was a breath of fresh air. Despite the presence of some words I really don't care for—namely OPPUGN and ECOTONE—and some small junk in the south I didn't care much for—namely -ESCE and the general glut of Latin and abbrevs. down there—I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Good to anchor your themeless with fresh, entertaining long answers, and "DRUMROLL, PLEASE!" (24A: "Wait for it ...") and "THE LONG GOODBYE" really fit the bill. The first is highly original, the second ... my favorite novel. Caleb is also a big Chandler fan. This is at least the second time "THE LONG GOODBYE" has figured in one of his puzzles. CRIME SCENE (58A: It may be combed for hairs) goes nicely with "THE LONG GOODBYE" (43A: Film starring Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe), SEX PISTOLS (14A: Group with a 1977 hit banned by the BBC, with "the") over BRASS TACKS (17A: The basics) is splendid, and ANNOYANCES (27D: Soreness causes) and SPICE GIRLS (28D: Sporty ensemble?) are as apt a long pair as you're likely to see in crosswords. Fantastic clue on PIZZA DOUGH (2D: It may spin overhead), though linking it to SBARRO was kind of a downer (14D: Chain using lots of 2-Down). Great idea, from a strictly puzzle-oriented perspective, but UGH-inducing from a culinary perspective. I liked Slate's recent take on Sbarro: "America's Least Essential Restaurant."

Started with OPAL (1A: Pick for a pendant), though it took a while to confirm it was right. Wanted KGS for 18A: Narc's measures: Abbr., but that wasn't looking good with 1D: Bellatrix's constellation (ORION), so I took it back to OZS. Knowing this was Caleb and this was Saturday, I had confidence in that "Z." Once PIZZA DOUGH came down, I was off and running. "THE LONG GOODBYE" was a flat-out gimme. Couldn't remember the ECO- answer (34D: Environmental transition area=>ECOTONE). Wanted TYPE. Also wanted LAKERS at 44D: They used to play at the Big A (L.A. RAMS), though I knew that couldn't be right. Eventually got into that SW corner via PERK and EPHRON (49A: Writer and director of "Julie & Julia," 2009). Scariest moment came in the far south, when I couldn't figure out 53D: 10 in un decennio — I had AÑOS — or 61A: 640 57-Acrosses: Abbr. (SQ. MI.) or 56D: John Wayne cop film ("MCQ"). Once I figured out 53D was Latin, then I got ANNI, then SQ. MI. I've heard of "MCQ," but only barely. After that, there were no more scares, and not much that was thorny at all. LIANG was unknown to me (but inferrable) (26D: Sixth-century Chinese dynasty), and I completely forgot STILLER was involved with "Tropic Thunder" (could remember only Robert Downey, Jr.) (15D: "Tropic Thunder" director and co-star), but I powered through both without much trouble. Ended in the NE, which ended up being the easiest part of all.

  • 32A: Media inits. since 1970 (NPR) — about the only news outlet I can tolerate these days. I get headlines from folks I follow on Twitter, and then for more in-depth coverage I'll read the NYT, Atlantic Monthly, Slate. Avoid aggregator sites and anything even vaguely tabloidy. In hell, no one can hear you scream *and* the only thing to read is The Huffington Post (hence the screaming).
  • 33A: Coin with two stalks of wheat on its reverse (RUPEE) — I had no idea. Then again, why would I? Clue may as well be [Coin].
  • 42A: Titanic-taloned terrorizers (ROCS) — Misread as "Titanium-taloned" and thought "Wow, interesting..."
  • 52A: Take advantage of a broken line (PASS) — I don't get it. Doesn't feel like football ... or a game show ... nope, I'm lost. [thanks to @foodie for pointing out that this clue refers to passing someone in a motor vehicle]
  • 55A: Radially symmetric creature (SEA ANEMONE) — More misreading. Thought it was a "radically symmetric creature," and wondered how something could be more symmetric than symmetric.
  • 45D: Tippler's trouble (D.T.s) — Geez, lots of substance abuse in this puzzle. You've got a drunk here and an OPIATE addict in the middle (31A: Deadening agent) and then several OZS of something that's drawn a narc's interest up there in the NW ... and then there's the SEX PISTOLS, of course.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


foodie 12:15 AM  

OPPUGN? Really? that's a wart on the beautiful face of the English language. And it might be contagious! Turning dispose into dispugn, repose into repugn (wait, is that related to repugnant?)... Can we please freeze it away or find some other way to kill it?

But glad I don't need to OPPUGN Rex on this one... Yes, beautiful puzzle, and very gettable for a Saturday. Made me chuckle AND feel smart. Can't ask for more. The Qur'an clue threw me for a loop and I kept thinking, why don't I know that? Pretty clever! The whole thing was clever without being heavy handed in the least. Just fun. On a Saturday! A minor miracle.

Rex, the pass/broken line deal is about traffic, I think, where a broken midline lets you pass.

Rex Parker 12:20 AM  

Ah. Of course. Thanks.

retired_chemist 12:43 AM  

Medium-challenging here. HTG in the SW. MGQ was an unknown, had ECOLINE @ 40D, and could not see EKGS and PERK. was stuck with E__RIN and _AI_ for 49A and 51D. Should have got them but couldn't.

Barely heard of THE LONG GOODBYE but got it.

Liked most of the fill. Everywhere but the SW I could use crosses to get answers I didn't know. Overall, very well constructed.

Thanks, Mr. Madison.

SethG 12:46 AM  

I still wanna be Caleb when I grow up.

jae 12:46 AM  

An excellent Sat. from Caleb #1. Easy-medium for me too. Only write over was PIZZACRUST. John Wayne and the SEXPISTOLS, fun solve!

apostro'phe carla michaels 2:01 AM  

UGH! One wrong square: AzEN/ECOzONE

Loved this, wait, let me see if it's a pangram.


Nope! Not even close, no Rex's undying admiration for Caleb #1 can continue unabated, with the rest of us cheering along the sidelines!

I used to have a PENNY with wheat stalks on the back, am I imagining this? I think the old ones from the 40s had wheat on the reverse.

Used to sleep in my late-brother-in-law's SEXPISTOLS T-Shirt, but it gave me nightmares, so I stood outside a Pistols reunion concert here in SF a few years back and gave it to the most deserving looking fan... some guy who made Iggy Pop look healthy who claimed to have been in some band that opened for them a few times. Who was I to OPPUGN his story? If only I could remember the guy's name or band!

Lewis 2:36 AM  

Decennio is Italian, not Latin.

mac 5:41 AM  

Medium-challenging for me. Not much filled in after the first runthrough, but I slowly finished it. The ceilingfan at 2D was a big problem, but opal set me straight.

Loved the "drumroll please", and the sea anemone.

Great Saturday!

CoffeeLvr 6:22 AM  

@Apostrophe Carla, yes, pennies used to have wheat stalks on the back. Per a little searching for the Wheat Penny: "This one-cent coin, produced between 1909 to 1958, is also known as the Lincoln Wheat Ear Cent, Wheat Back, Straw Penny, Wheat Head and Wheatie." I always heard them referred to as "wheat straw" pennies. Anyway, I put PENNY in for 33A, and did not want to let it go.

Good themeless puzzle. Lots of fresh stuff. Favorite was DRUM ROLL PLEASE. Worst entry for me was SO I SEE.

I was going to whine about SBARRO being regional, not national, but then I checked. There is actually one in a local casino. But I patronize local places, so didn't know and don't care.

No BS 7:39 AM  

Another hand up for AZEN/ECOZONE. Thought the former was wrong, but would have doubted ECOTONE, a brand new word for me, for which my thanks to Caleb. OPPUGN also a mystery word. Had DRUMRiL, so the O was forcefully implied. Almost gave up on this one, so some fun at the end when a few hard areas fell. Amazingly for this sports ignoramus I got RIPKEN off the KEN and was rescued from a total debacle. As so often is the case, "Easy medium" humbles me. This took me 58 minutes and ended with a wrong letter: automatic "difficult" in my scoring system. What about you Rex? Do you always get them perfectly right? If not, are your errors figured into your rating scheme?

shrub5 8:06 AM  

This one took me a little over a half hour. Much I didn't know but crosses helped a lot. A little mess in the east central area was caused by putting HUBS before URBS for 'downtowns'. This was compounded by thinking 'soreness causes' was going to start as ANGRY-----. Was happy that I could promptly plop down OXEYE which I learned from xwords. AND.... I am pleased to report that I suspected APOSTROPHE from the clue!!

My glasses-needing moment occurred right off the bat as I read 1A: 'pick for a penNant'. Took a detour into sports on that one. And I always have to be careful with the word ANEMONE -- so it doesn't come out anenome, which to my eyes and ears seems KO.

Caleb, you rock.

Glimmerglass 8:14 AM  

Medium-challenging here, too. I was sure the narc's measure was kgs, which gave me drako for the constellation. I was smug about knowing that wheat was on the back of a penny -- which made a mess of the midwest. Raymond Chandler and a lot of erasures bailed me out. I wound up with one error: azen. Never thought of AtlanticTEN, and I was sure the "area" had to be some kind of "zone." Lots of good, hard Saturday cluing in this one.

Smitty 8:30 AM  

Another hand up for medium-challenging and Wheat Penny.
Started with TEAM for Pendant pick.
Lots of misleading (but fair) cluing led to long walks down dead ends. But lots of aha moments - we live for those...

dk 8:37 AM  

No real worries with this one. Had ECOzONE as well.

I could NATTER on about the experience of photoing 14a but if I told you how polite and professional they were some OPPUGNing may occur.

It is a gray morning here in Western WI. Perhaps a reread of THELONGGOODBYE or a check of NetFlix for the Magnificent Seven.

**** (4 Stars) Thanks to the present Caleb and future SethG.

Pete 8:46 AM  

Man, that trailer for "The Long Goodbye" looked like a mess. I just finished "The Little Sister", one of his, .. lesser .., works, and looked up its history trying to decipher under what circumstance Chandler could have written it. There I noticed that it had been made into a movie with a highly improbable star as Marlowe, and thinking Elliot Gould is as improbable a Marlowe as any, tried to fit THELITTLESISTER in. Oh well.
I can't even listen to NPR because I'm then just another maniac screaming in my car.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Not to make anyone feel bad, but I found this to be the easiest Saturday in memory, which was quite the switch after not coming close to solving Friday's puzzle.

David L 8:55 AM  

DNF -- also had ECOZONE, and I couldn't see either ANNOYANCES or SPICEGIRLS, so drew a blank on the eastside (I had ROPY for 'lean' and either CNN or UPI for NPR, which didn't help).

I don't understand NIX = 'forget it!' I know NIX = cancel, nullify etc, but who says NIX as an imperative?

@twangster: you are making me feel bad. Although I finished yesterday's without too much trouble...

evil doug 8:58 AM  

"Caleb is also a big Chandler fan. This is at least the second time 'THE LONG GOODBYE' has figured in one of his puzzles."

Points off for repeating a long answer from his own previous creation. Looking for originality here, especially in the anchors.

"...for more in-depth coverage I'll read the NYT...."

I read the Times and the Wall Street Journal every morning---the most thorough coverage of important stories from opposing perspectives, like a real-time debate. The solutions usually lie somewhere between the two, so starting the search for truth at oppugning poles is useful.

My next garage band: The Ecotones.


Bob Kerfuffle 9:27 AM  

Solid medium for me; a wonderful puzzle.

One write-over at 13 A, RANK before RIPE.

ECOTONE is definitely a word I learned from crosswords. Its previous appearance was the first time I had seen the word, but I was ready for it this time.

joho 9:34 AM  

Very enjoyable Saturday, thank you Caleb! You got me at ECOzONE though. I'm happy to see I'm one of many who were fooled at that crossing. No matter, as @foodie said, this was fun. "Fun" being a word that rarely describes a Saturday.

Nancy in PA 9:34 AM  

Hand up for "penny"until TUNE made it impossible. Had ECOzONE until I figured it had to be ATEN. But I never did get SQMI--failed to run the alphabet for the Q. Oh, well, half an hour of fun and only one error. Great Saturday puzzle!

mitchs 9:40 AM  

More on the medium side for me, but started out with a LOT of blanks and wrong guesses like IMpugn and LAKERS.

I finished after some great aha moments (pizza came much slower to me than to Rex) and realized that I'd had a ton of fun.

Perfect Saturday solve. (I was alittle surprised that NPR started as late as 1970)

chefbea 9:42 AM  

I agree - was an easier than usual Saturday puzzle. Still had to google a bit. Loved the pizza dough clue.

Everyone have fun at Lollopuzzla. Is it this weekend??

jackj 9:54 AM  

Child prodigy, Caleb M., adds a grace note to his oeuvre with this fun Saturday puzzle, before assuming adult constructor status as a Whiffenpoof, Class of '15.

Twenty-one Times puzzles, "hit for the cycle" (a crossword published for each day of the week), mentor to a senior citizen crossword constructing group, maybe able to leap the Times building in one bound. A youth well spent!

Got ECOTONE only when it was obvious that UNC-Charlotte wasn't in the A-ZEN Conference (that may be Nepal U., though their football team probably won't play "tackle").

Too many good clues to mention; Rex hit them all.

Thanks, Caleb; good luck in New Haven.

Vega 9:57 AM  

I was so on Caleb's wavelength today. I just couldn't get an answer wrong. Well, except for ECOzONE. I was done so quick I startled myself. Oh wait, I also put "dupe" in first for GULL, off the U.

DRUM ROLL PLEASE! Beautiful. I only wish I could aspire to be Caleb when I grow up.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Someone throw me a bone - how does a "DT" relate to a tippler?

Wikipedia 10:03 AM  

@Anonymous -

Delirium tremens (Latin for "shaking frenzy", also referred to as The DTs, "the horrors," "jazz hands," "giving the invisible man a handshake" or "the shakes.") is an acute episode of delirium that is usually caused by withdrawal from alcohol, first described in 1813.

TimJim 10:29 AM  

Hand up for ECOZONE. Not getting the "sporty" part of the clue for Spice girls ???

chefbea 10:39 AM  

oops!!puzzle tournament isn't til Aug.

Tobias Duncan 10:45 AM  

Every time I see SBARRO in the grid I am filled with rage that some obscure east coast regional chain made its way into the grid again.

Followed the link Rex added to the Slate story and saw the picture and recognized it immediately.This store is in every mall in the country!
I can tell you right now why they failed: bad name and horrible logo.You cant even read the neon signs, they just always registered to me as a red blur.Lots of places make money selling crappy pizza.They could have made it with better brand recognition. I have a new respect for ACME's profession.
@TimJim one of the spice girls is called "Sporty"

foodie 11:03 AM  

@ JackJ, Caleb is also the founding member of the CCC, the Caleb Club of Cruciverbalists, two of whom we've praised lavishly this week.

Speaking of Whiffenpoof, a (now retired) colleague of mine, Layman Allen invented a game called WFF'N Proof, a fairly popular game of logic... Could show up in a puzzle someday...

@Andrea, this is why you're a remarkable person. If I had a T-shirt that gave me nightmares but was somehow special, I'd have folded it carefully and hidden in the back of a drawer, neatly storing away my ambivalence. But you thought to make it a gift to someone else who might love it more completely.

Norm 11:08 AM  

Never heard of ECOTONE or OPPUGN, but they really couldn't be anything else could they. Justified PASS to myself with a football image, but a broken line would actually be more likely on a running play, so I was glad to see the traffic explanation. Fun puzzle, although definitely at least medium for me even by Saturday standards -- and for a lot of folks, judging by the times on the website. Still, anytime I can finish a Saturday without Googling when I couldn't really get any traction until the bottom half is a good day. Northwest was the last to fall, even though I had IZOD from the start. Loved the cluing for 3D,

Two Ponies 11:16 AM  

I could not believe that Z was wrong but knew the Charlotte athletes were not Buddhists with an A Zen conference.
Great fun today.
Loved the clues.
@ dk, I am surprised at your Pistols comment. Sort of bursts my balloon in one way but also makes me laugh.

archaeoprof 11:37 AM  

Three writeovers today: imPUGN/OPPUGN, angelS/LARAMS, and REst/RELY.

Last to fall: OPIATE/LIANG.

Good Saturday workout!

quilter1 11:38 AM  

@Andrea, I also had penny for a long time as I also remember wheat on the backs of pennies.

This was a puzzle I had a hard time getting into, then, with writeovers on my mistakes, just couldn't see it anymore and had to go away and come back and then things became clear and I finished.

Also had impugn. I liked the clue for STAPLE. Off to bake bread--cheerio!

SharonAK 12:16 PM  

@Capsite. Hope yuo are still out there. Know it's late in day, but wanted so much to thank you for the link (5 weeks ago) to the ape Zoetrope video. It was brilliant.
So glad non-puzzle husband I got to experience it by video. Made me think of braving the desert to go to Burning Man.
A Rex I loved your riff on the single Ute warranting an entire museum. Chuckled through the whole rest of the blog.

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

@Lewis -- not quite. "Un" is what makes 53D Italian. In uno decennio would be perfectly parse-able Latin.

600 1:02 PM  

Cyberspace just ate my LONG comment. GRRRRRRR.

So, again: Unfinished business from yesterday: Thank you @Chefbea and @Masked and Anonymous Last Silver Bullet, for your help yesterday with ARCSINE and ADZ. And thanks for the thought, @Old Car Fudd.

By the way, what is the etiquette on the use of @? Sometimes I see it and sometimes I don't, and I'm not even sure I'm using it properly.

Hands up for PENNY way too long (and I was so proud of remembering those stalks!) and HUBS before URBS.

Anyone else have EMTS before EKGS, or SO TRUE before SO I SEE?

I love this blog for the cleverness of the write up and so many of the comments, but I also love it for solving the "why's" on my correct answers (according to the Happy Pencil) which I just don't understand. After I finish I try to answer my questions myself by consulting or wikipedia or similar others, but sometimes my brain just needs jogging. Thus it is today with STAPLE (no offense, @quilter1) why is it a "Corner item"? I so want to share the admiration, and I don't get it! And why is "Earwig, e.g." TUNE? Help, please!

I'm also an adherent of NPR, for what it's worth. So lovely not to hear people screaming over each other.

jae 1:26 PM  

@600 It's often found on the corner of stack of papers. e.g. "STAPLE the attachment to the memo and pass it out to the staff."

treedweller 1:38 PM  

lots of fun, despite much googling.

I learned SBARRO (mostly--started with SBARRa today) from a crossword, complained about it here, and caught flak from someone in the comments for not knowing a chain that is "in every airport in the country." I don't fly much, but have been in a few airports since then. It ain't in all of them. I guess I showed that guy, whoever s/he was.

I can tolerate the top-of-the hour NPR headlines, but mostly I'm with @Pete. Give me a newspaper so I can turn the page when I lose interest.

I have had a collectin of wheat pennies for a long time, but by the time I got there it wouldn't work with a pretty solid cross, so I just kept coming back to it, thinking, "Penny?" and moving on.

Masked and Anonymous 1:39 PM  

@600: If one staples a bunch of pages together, the corner is a possible location, I reckon. Can't help you with earwig -- thought that was a bug that crawled into your ear and fed on your brains. Sorta like Sex Pistols music -- maybe that's what Sir Caleb was gettin' at. I am mighty impressed with your thirst for knowledge and etiquette, tho. Good for you! [Me, I prefer cinnamon rolls.]

Fri and SatPuzs sure put up a heck of a fight. Leave you feelin' all liang-pugned.

600 1:40 PM  

@jae--as a retired English teacher who gave the instruction, "Staple your papers in the upper left hand corner before submitting" at least a jillion times, I am walking away with my head low in shame.

Earwig/TUNE had better not be so obvious. That would do something awful to my self respect.

shrub5 1:57 PM  

@600: Earworm (not earwig) is a TUNE that gets stuck in your head and won't leave. Think: "It's a Small World After All" at Disneyland.

Matthew G. 2:02 PM  

Finished with a worse than average Saturday time for me, mainly because of one entirely plausible but very bad guess, but still found this far easier than yesterday's nightmare. I tried CEILING FAN instead of PIZZA DOUGH and ESTUARY instead of ECOTONE, among others. The former didn't take too long to fix, obviously, but ESTUARY ... I was SO sure it was right -- after all, an estuary is defined as a transitional area between a freshwater river and a large body of saltwater -- that I questioned every answer around ESTUARY but not that entry itself. The fact that I'd never heard the word ECOTONE before did not help matters, to put it mildly. Only when THE LONG GOODBYE became evident did I realize, in a true moment of shock, that ESTUARY was wrong.

Eventually finished with no errors and no Googling, but that one mistake tanked my time. Did not feel confident ECOTONE was right until I checked Rex's grid. Also did not know the word OPPUGN or that GULL could be used to mean "dupe."

Incidentally -- loved the puzzle, Caleb. All ANNOYANCES today were of my own making.

JaxInL.A. 2:17 PM  

I can't wait for the return of full health so that I can get here daily again. Though I still do puzzles pretty much daily, I can only find the energy to read the blog a couple days a week, and I think I've only posted twice in a month. I miss coming here. On the mend now, so hopefully will get here regularly now.

This puzzle kicked my backside, especially in the east. And as a public radio junkie, I'm embarrassed that I had AOL, then CNN, and never did get NPR. I met my husband at a public radio station, for heaven's sake.

@MatthewG, I love the ceiling fan and estuary guesses, even if they were wrong,

Jenny 2:18 PM  

Personal source for OPPUGN: Harry Potter (oppugno!). Knew those spells would come in handy some day.

Liked this one. Also found it sooo much smoother than yesterday. The combination of those two things is presumably no accident.

syndy 2:25 PM  

OPPugn? is taht fair? snivel,snivel.I had IMPUGN and PENNY which was easy to fix not so much OOPUGN which I have never heard of.WE have SBARROS' here in SOuthern CALIf.My last letter was the "T" that replaced the "Z" that i withheld when I checked the CROSS and AZEN seemed less right than ECOTONE?

Campesite 2:34 PM  

I'm here everyday, and I love the commentary but only chime in occasionally. Highly recommend the pilgrimage to Black Rock City, a fantastic explosion of creativity and civility. Hope you can make it.

Stan 2:40 PM  

@27D was fun to discover because I was getting very annoyed with the puzzle at that point, like, "What could possibly end in ...YANCES??"

Despite numerous cultural gimmes, my favorite answer was DRUMROLL, PLEASE, so obvious once you've gotten it.

Always glad to see Raymond Chandler fans... where is @Ulrich??

Thumbs up on the Glen Matlock (pre-Sid Vicious) Sex Pistols. But it's too nice a day to spend it on Youtube.

Eric: [about being Vince's manager] You know what, I don't even have health insurance.
Ari Gold: Yeah, but I bet you had it over at Quiznos.
Eric: Sbarro's. And I had a business card.
Ari Gold: There you go.


Anonymous 2:46 PM  

What in God's name is SBARROS? I have never heard of this in my fifty years. Is it "S. Barro's"? Or is it pronounced "Suhbarro's?" I guess to understand all the references in a NYT puzzle, one must be from NY. Sigh.

Anonymous 2:58 PM  

There are Sbarro locations in 46 states and 30 countries.

Sparky 3:05 PM  

Well I had ICENT for a while. Did three quarters of grid but could not get ANNOYANCES and SPICE GIRLS, so big blank space there. THELONGGOODBYE and SEXPISTOLS went in first which made me very happy only to trip later. Almost quit after Thursday and Friday so this was good for me. Have a good weekend.

Doc John 3:09 PM  

Will somebody please explain the POEM clue to me?

600 3:16 PM  

@Doc John--Definitions for "scan" include "to read or analyze verse according to the rules of meter and versification" and "to conform to the rules of meter and versification." (Retired English teacher trying to redeem herself for other stupidities today . . .)

@ Masked and Anonymous--thanks for your help with STAPLE and kind comments. I prefer cinnamon rolls too.

@shrub5--Oh, thank you! My ego is taking quite a beating; if I'd looked up "earworm" instead of "earwig," I wouldn't have had to ask at all. And now I'll have to change my name before I post again. Hanging my head further in shame.

And I can't get "It's a Small World" to stop playing . . .

ANON B 4:52 PM  

One man's meat is another man's poison. This is the worst puzzle
I have ever had the dipleasure
of attempting. Even after copying
about half of the answers from
Rex, I had great difficulty
finishing. And even then I had
no satisfaction. Some of the clues
were as far out in left field as
possible. I could go on, but I have
probably gone far enough to have Rex remove this comment.
Sorry Caleb You're too erudite for me.

Kerry 5:17 PM  

Blech. Finished with an error: ECOZONE. Perfectly sensible if ATEN and AZEN look equally reasonable, which they do to me.

sanfranman59 6:04 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 5:52, 6:52, 0.86, 5%, Easy (5th lowest median solve time of 106 Mondays)
Tue 8:54, 8:55, 1.00, 56%, Medium
Wed 10:31, 11:52, 0.89, 27%, Easy-Medium
Thu 25:10, 19:07, 1.32, 93%, Challenging (9th highest median solve time of 108 Thursdays)
Fri 28:47, 25:53, 1.11, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 28:40, 30:15, 0.95, 37%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:19, 3:40, 0.91, 12%, Easy
Tue 4:53, 4:35, 1.07, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:21, 5:51, 0.91, 32%, Easy-Medium
Thu 13:46, 9:16, 1.49, 96%, Challenging (5th highest median solve time of 108 Thursdays)
Fri 16:12, 12:48, 1.27, 88%, Challenging
Sat 16:55, 17:12, 0.98, 48%, Medium

I skip M-W 6:05 PM  

Too tired last night, so didi it this afternoon.Took me way too long, but did finish. Hands up for CEILING FAN. Pleased with myself for remembering dynasty between Han and T'ang w/ no crosses.Had whole east side pretty fast, w/ west still spinning madly. Acre and Sq mi were gimmes. But did try daisy before oxeye.

Knew Sbarro bec. of news item in 90's maybe about an outpost of that chain in Jerusalem being hit by a terror incident. But I'm allergic to pizza anyway. Thought there was a US coin w/ wheat stalks, but couldn't remember altho only penny would have fit. Apostrophe was clever, tho wanted a ?.

Liked Julia part of Julie and Julia, but forgot writer director. Also had kg before oz, which ruined ceiling fan anyway. Tried Sand dollar before sea anemone, eggs before ekg's. A private jet is not necessarily a perk; some people have so much extra cash they just buy them. Never heard of ecotone, but there are some other -tone words, and besides AZen could hardly be right for 46A. Tune for earworm my last entry.

Matthew G. 6:25 PM  

@Anon 2:46 pm:

The problem is not that you haven't spent enough time in NYC (where I have never actually seen a Sbarro's) but that you haven't spent enough time in the food courts of shopping malls. You will find a Sbarro's in the food courts of probably 80% of the sizable malls in the country ... and if any exist outside of malls, I haven't seen them.

@I Skip: Glad I wasn't the only CEILING FAN guy.

quilter1 7:25 PM  

@JaxinLA: get well soon. We will be back the first week in August and I'd like to meet. I have your number. Do you know Auntie Em's in Eagle Rock?

My granddaughter just ate three slices of honey cracked wheat bread warm from the oven. Love that little gal.

chefbea 8:26 PM  

@quilter1 yummm home-made bread!!!

Prepjpw 11:35 AM  

Not a theme, true, but extra points for all the double letter constructions. I count a dozen - brasstacks, seaanemone, etc. Neat.

jberg 6:42 PM  

We're in Deer Isle, ME, for a week of vacation; I did this puzzle, slowly, in the car while driving up yesterday (or rather, down,since this is Down East). Really enjoyable - so many cool misdirection, probably ear worm was the last of those to fall.

I got SQ MI right away, but didn't know MCQ, so tried all kinds of variants, e.g. S.MIL.

Got PIZZA _____ and thought of those revolving lights they put on delivery vehicles, so it took me a long time to see DOUGH.

ECOzONE couldn't be right (it's not a transitional area), but it was hard to avoid as all the letters but one fell into place. I had to look up ECOTONE before I could believe it. Still, the AzEN conference is awesome - e teams sit cross-legged, facing each other, and try to move the ball with their minds.

Can't get the paper up here, and I'm on vacation anyway -- should be back the 17th.

Anonymous 9:17 PM  

Wow, I could not be farther away from RP today. EASY-medium?? No way! I slogged (now have the very definition of the word: today's puzzle) through every line! It was like hard labor. The S and B gave me SBARRO, which is definitely NOT an "east-coast" chain. There's one in the Orleans Casino in Las Vegas here, for starters. And anyway, they do a pretty good pizza, and I don't quite understand all the bad-mouthing. Maybe a bit pricey, is all.
Well, that led me to, of course, PIZZACRUST, so I was a while getting out of the NW--what with that crappy "Qu'ran part" clue. I've seen these clues before, like SILENT-whatever, and I'm not impressed; I think it's a cheap shot. Constructors ought to be above that sort of thing.
More to OPPUGN (lie to me and tell me you have ever or will ever use that word): GULL for "sucker."
Lucy--or anybody--you got some 'splainin' to do on that one. BTW: ONENESS? Really? Where do you get this stuff? Oh for a puzzle in a language that actually gets USED!! URBS? Who says URBS? NOBODY!
Strange thing is, the item that gave most of you fits was no problem for me. As we know, UNC-Charlotte is in the Atlantic-10 conference; the only way to abbreviate ("conf.") that is with ATEN. What's the big deal? But it leads to yet another of those never-EVER-EVER-used words, ECOTONE. Come on, guys. Next thing you know, we'll be perusing lists for the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee, 5% of which anybody has ever heard of.
One lone bright spot: the reminder of Agnew's sparkling speechification "NATTERing nabobs of negativism." I did enjoy that, but otherwise? Just a succession of ANNOYANCES.

William Safire 9:31 PM  

@Anonymous, 9:17 PM - Since you single it out as "One lone bright spot," I should point out that, as most crossword people know, I was the actual author of "nattering nabobs of negativism."

Anonymous 12:53 AM  

I do, of course acknowledge Mr. Safire's authorship of "Nattering
...etc." Sorry for any feather-ruffling. I tend to couple it with Agnew because of his devastating delivery. :)

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

I just read THE LONG GOODBYE a couple of weeks ago so it was the answer I was looking for at 43a from the start. Didn't have much to go on in the way of crosses though, so I didn't commit until later.

First letter I filled in was the plural S at the end of 18a, and off that I got APOSTROPHE. Which is ironic, because the ever-increasing tendency of people to use an APOSTROPHE before a plural S, like in SEX PISTOL'S AND BRASS TACK'S is one of my major ANNOYANCES

54a was NAHing at me forever and what I wanted (what I really really wanted) at 28d was some sports related answer, so it took me a long time to see SPICE GIRLS.

I can't even pronounce SEA ANEMENEMONE much less spell it; reversed the M and second N at the very end because ANNI looked more plausible than AmNI.

I liked that the two stadiums/teams were situated in their geographically correct corners

Briefly considered penny but knew it would have to have been clued differently.

And I got SBARRO entirely from the crosses. Never heard of it. Location check on their web site puts all the ones withing 50 miles of me in malls, which I avoid like the plague. And on those unfortunate occasions when I do find myself in a mall, I'm not looking for food. I'm looking for a way out.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

I just read THE LONG GOODBYE a couple of weeks ago so it was the answer I was looking for at 43a from the start. Didn't have much to go on in the way of crosses though, so I didn't commit until later.

The first letter I filled in was the plural S at the end of 18a, and off that I got APOSTROPHE. Which is ironic, because the ever-increasing tendency of people to use an APOSTROPHE before a plural S, like in SEX PISTOL'S AND BRASS TACK'S is one of my major ANNOYANCES

54a was NAHing at me forever and what I wanted (what I really really wanted) at 28d was some sports related answer, so it took me a long time to see SPICE GIRLS.

I can't even pronounce SEA ANEMENEMONE much less spell it; reversed the M and second N at the very end because ANNI looked more plausible than AmNI.

I liked that the two stadiums/teams were situated in their geographically correct corners

Briefly considered penny but knew it would have to have been clued differently.

And I got SBARRO entirely from the crosses. Never heard of it. Location check on their web site puts all the ones withing 50 miles of me in malls, which I avoid like the plague. And on those unfortunate occasions when I do find myself in a mall, I'm not looking for food. I'm looking for a way out.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

My two wheat back pennies on googling: yeah, it's cheating. It's cheating yourself out of the opportunity to discover other ways of solving crosswords besides just knowing the answers . "Learning is good," as someone said in justification. So learn to work your own way out of the rough spots, to reason your way through it as best you can. Then, after you finish, go ahead and google all you want to learn the words you didn't know.

Kevin in Texas 9:57 PM  

Hate to be one to OPPUGN RP's difficulty rating, but I thought this one was a bear. Still, there's a great deal of satisfaction that comes when such a puzzle starts to break open. Only crossworders laugh out loud at how cleverly we've been fooled by someone's deception. I thought a sporty ensemble would be fashion related, so I wanted TENNISWEAR or GOLFATTIRE either of which fits. (if you buy the right size I suppose) @Anon 11:13 AM- Loved your comment's. (sorry, couldn't resist.) you have a great sense of humor.!
-Kevin in Texas

Anonymous 11:00 PM  

@apostro'phe carla michaels 2:01 AM

Opening acts for the Sex Pistols in SF were The Avengers and The Nuns (band members listed in these links, maybe you spot a familiar name)

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