1994 Jean-Claude Van Damme sci-fi film / MON 8-8-11 / Grassy plain of Southwest / Condiment that's OK for observant Jews / Terse four-star review

Monday, August 8, 2011

Constructor: Ian Livengood (pronounced "LIVin' Good," and not, as I've been pronouncing it, "BEETLEJUICE")

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: HIGH / SEAS (1A: With 69-Across, where to find the ends of 17-, 22-, 32-, 43-, 54- and 61-Across) — theme answers are phrases where last word is also a name for someone who works on a boat: SWAB, HAND, MATE, JACK, TAR, and SALT

Word of the Day: JACK

  1. often Jack Informal. A man; a fellow.
    1. One who does odd or heavy jobs; a laborer.
    2. One who works in a specified manual trade. Often used in combination: a lumberjack; a steeplejack.
    3. Jack A sailor; a tar.
  2. (Abbr. J) Games. A playing card showing the figure of a servant or soldier and ranking below a queen. Also called knave.
  3. Games.
    1. jacks (used with a sing. or pl. verb) A game played with a set of small six-pointed metal pieces and a small ball, the object being to pick up the pieces in various combinations.
    2. One of the metal pieces so used.
  4. Sports. A pin used in some games of bowling.
    1. A usually portable device for raising heavy objects by means of force applied with a lever, screw, or hydraulic press.
    2. A wooden wedge for cleaving rock.
  5. A device used for turning a spit.
  6. Nautical.
    1. A support or brace, especially the iron crosstree on a topgallant masthead.
    2. A small flag flown at the bow of a ship, usually to indicate nationality.
  7. The male of certain animals, especially the ass.
  8. Any of several food and game fishes of the family Carangidae, found in tropical and temperate seas.
  9. A jackrabbit.
  10. A socket that accepts a plug at one end and attaches to electric circuitry at the other.
  11. Slang. Money.
  12. Applejack.
  13. Slang. A small or worthless amount: You don't know jack about that. (American Heritage Dictionary)
• • •

Saw Ian Livengood yesterday at Lollapuzzoola 4, where he informed me that he had today's puzzle, and that I'd been pronouncing his name wrong for a good long time. Actually, he didn't inform me about the pronuncation—not directly. I just asked him. I'd heard someone say his name with the first "i" short and I thought it sounded weird. Turns out, that pronuncation was right. Pronunciation doesn't really matter for blog purposes, but (and this may surprise you) I do communicate in non-blog form, from time to time. At first I thought Ian was at the tourney as a volunteer, but he was competing like me. In my case, I use the word "competing" loosely, as I continued and then rounded out what turned out to be about the most disastrous solving week of my life—two NYT themes I didn't completely understand, a Sunday puzzle I couldn't finish, and tournament puzzles that were uniformly (and occasionally painfully) hard for me. Tanked one of those when I had EMTS where a completely different word belonged (no spoilers, as there are apparently a Lot of you playing at home (yay!), but I had two letters wrong in that word, at least one of which I should've figured out from the crosses. But no). Started feeling like maybe my brain was going. Then I did today's puzzle in 2:36. So I don't know what's going on. Today's only stumbles were right off the bat at 1A (software problem—clue to long to read without screen adjustment), and then getting to JAW from --W (wife had same problem; weird) (42A: Part of the head that moves when you talk), and lastly, writing in PLANO (Texas?) instead of LLANO (12D: Grassy plain of the Southwest).

Big revelation of the day, for me, was that JACK has anything to do with the HIGH / SEAS. I don't know JACK about synonyms for TAR, apparently, which will not surprise anyone who remembers one of my earlier tournament wipeouts (where I had OAR for TAR and ended up inventing a crazy Philippine mountain called MOAPO!). Otherwise, this is a familiar theme type ("Answers All End With ...") livened up (or "livened up," I suppose, if you want to pun on the constructor's name) by a nicely varied and interesting set of theme answers and an impressive theme density. Fill is solid, for the most part. Best of all—the whole grid is held together by "TIME COP" (26D: 1994 Jean-Claude Van Damme sci-fi film). Van Damme travels 17 years through time to flex his muscles once again! He's relevant again! I'd razz IAN about putting his own name in the grid, but it's a pretty common crossword answer (46A: 007 creator Fleming). I had it in a grid once, and I didn't even know IAN when I made that puzzle. Trying to pre-review your own puzzle, though ... that's a little embarrassing (24A: Terse four-star review => "LOVED IT!").

["In the year 2004 ..."]

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Q-tip, e.g. (COTTON SWAB)

  • 22A: It points to the minutes (BIG HAND)
  • 32A: Presidential candidate's #2 (RUNNING MATE)
  • 43A: Excellent, slangily (CRACKERJACK)
  • 54A: Sticky stuff on a baseball bat (PINE TAR)
  • 61A: Condiment that's O.K. for observant Jews (KOSHER SALT)
I asked IAN (just now, via Facebook) if PIT CREW (50A: Tire-changing group at a Nascar race) was originally tied to the theme in some way, or if it was just an Easter Egg (you know, those special hidden features on DVDs that aren't marked...). Let's see what he says [... checking Facebook ...]: "50A = easter egg, I suppose. Not a theme answer." And there you go. Inside information, totally free of charge.

Here are a few photos from the Puzzle Weekend that Was:

[Puzzle lunch with constructors at Ridgeway Diner, Friday afteroon]

[Outside Reservoir bar after drinks with friend and regular NYT solver Brian Grosz, Friday afternoon]

[Bartender Jeff Bond and Erik Jamba solve a Patrick Berry "Rows Garden" puzzle from the Wall Street Journal at Barracuda, Friday night]

[Showing off my dance moves to befuddled tournament organizer Brian Cimmet. Please note the genuine Burger King Krusty the Clown watch. It's vintage (i.e. circa 2004)]

[With wife at Gobo restaurant, Saturday night]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


foodie 12:11 AM  

Fun puzzle, fun write up, great photos!


Tobias Duncan 12:28 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tobias Duncan 12:31 AM  

Great puzzle.
Glad to hear I am not the only one who has terrible slumps.
this one played more like Medium to me.
Mensans are not super smart, you only have to be one in fifty, I'll wager that most of the regulars here would easily qualify.

operapianist 2:16 AM  

@Rex-- I actually *know* Jeff Bond from Barracuda. Small world. My esteem of him rises via picture proof of him doing a Patrick Berry puzzle **at Barracuda**. Not sure if I've ever been sober enough to attempt even a Monday NYT there. Seems like you're enjoying the city. Hope you have safe travels upstate. Cheers!

syndy 2:17 AM  

A CRACKERJACK of a moday puzzle!TEEMS with SPARKle.And the FILL isn't just PLAIN FARE!I LOVED IT! liked the directional answers below and atop the time cop!helped to keep my north and south straight

plumpy 3:36 AM  

The KOSHER SALT clue, while not technically incorrect, is definitely a misunderstanding. Pretty much all salt is kosher and OK for observant Jews. Kosher salt is called that because it's used for making kosher meats.


evil doug 7:22 AM  

"I'd razz IAN about putting his own name in the grid, but it's a pretty common crossword answer (46A: 007 creator Fleming)."

That doesn't make it right.

Craig: "Elaine this is Een."

Elaine: "Hi E-an"

Ian: "Een.."

Elaine: "E-an"

Craig: "Een...


SethG 7:26 AM  

Ah, just noticed the note at the beginning--I was sitting here trying to understand how you'd pronounce Ian with a short "i".

I didn't have your problems last week, at least with the themes, but this tied for my fastest solve ever.

Z 7:30 AM  

Nice puzzle today.

Did the Lollapuzzoola five yesterday so those puzzles are more on my mind. Glad to hear that Rex had issues with them as well. The Hothnagel puzzle kicked me in the HIGH SEAS.

No spoilers, though, so back to today... No dreck. It took me a second to come up with the South in New South Wales, as I was unsure of ASSAM, otherwise everything went in on the first pass and there were several clues that I read after the puzzle was done. Nevertheless, everything seemed fresh and lively. Nice start to the week.

embee 7:44 AM  

Can someone explain why "crew" Is not one of the theme answers? C

Anonymous 7:51 AM  

Where can I see the Lollapuzzoola results? Anyone?

joho 7:58 AM  

Another LOVED IT here!

This was a perfect Monday to me in that the theme was dense with the extra splash of HIGH SEAS plus smooth sailing when it came to fill. Nothing seems forced and it was easy, breezy.

An extra bonus: I've been pronouncing Ian's name correctly all along!

Lindsay 8:10 AM  

I adore anything watery, so another LOVED IT.

@embee --- CREW matches up with IT, IT isn't found on the HIGH SEAS, ergo CREW isn't part of the theme.

nanpilla 8:14 AM  

Wanted the clue for 28a to be:
Prefix with fuffle.

Rather than feeling like an easter egg, the PITCREW felt wrong to me. If it had been one of the downs, maybe. Or just CREW somewhere random.

Other than that one small nit, nothing to pick on here. Nice start to the week!

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

"showing off my dance moves to befuddled tournament organizer brian cimmet" ... hilarious. great write up. will you blog the puzzles after everyone's done with them at home?

Lois 8:30 AM  

Embee, as I read on the Orange page, crew is plural and the theme words are singular, and the symmetrical answer is not related. I myself would like to consider it an extra related answer.

Thanks, Plumpy, for saving me trouble regarding the explanation of kosher salt.

jp 8:41 AM  

I very rarely break the 10 minute barrier even when solving a Monday or a Tuesday puzzle. It takes me 5 or 6 minutes just to fill in the answers even when I know all the answers (I tried it once after I had solved the puzzle). So I am always amazed that some people can solve a Monday puzzle in the 2-3 minute range. Their brain must be wired differently.
Agree with Rex on the write up. This puzzle felt rather easy but I did not immediately connect the words SWAB, JACK, TAR and SALT with HIGH SEAS.

efrex 8:42 AM  

I've recently gotten The Lovely Wife(tm) started on the xword path, so it'll be interesting to see how she makes out with this one. Other than getting a big honkin' Natick at ASSAM/NSW (disconcerting after finishing my first Saturday puzzle this past week), I found this one to be smooth sailing. Good stuff all around.

Yoss 8:55 AM  

What's a Ricer? I changed Crackerjack to what sounded cool to me: Cracked Jack, as in "today's puzzle was totally Cracked Jack!" I certainly prefer the resulting Dicer (potato implement) to Ricer.

chefbea 9:02 AM  

Back home. Had a great time in Ct. Looks like everyone had a great time at the tournament.

Liked today's puzzle - very easy. Of course knew Stan the man and ricer.

Years ago I stayed at a hotel in Galveston, Texas called the Jack Tar. Wonder if it's still there

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

@yoss A ricer makes mashed potatoes smoother.

Brian 9:07 AM  

A fun Monday puzzle. Accessible theme and fine, smooth fill. Nothing overly clever, I'm afraid, and I wouldn't have minded a little more spice, but 8 theme answers is pretty impressive.

PIT CREW, I think, is actually a blemish. It should be a theme answer, and if it's not intended to be then it shouldn't have been included in the puzzle. I get that it's not a word for a single sailor, but it nonetheless works as a theme answer and screws up the symmetry.

But I enjoyed the puzzle so thanks, Mr. Livengood!

John V 9:18 AM  

@jp, the only way to get the very short fill times in with AcrossLite (e.g.) Pretty easy Monday today. My "paper" fill was under 10 minutes, which is about as fast as I can write on a bouncy New Haven Railroad train. I'd have been well under 5 electronically, where you can be typing one answer while reading ahead to the next clue, if you're a touch typist.

Really nothing to say on this one. Just sort of filled on auto-pilot, which was okay with me after a very nice weekend.

jesser 9:20 AM  

No writeovers and colved almost exclusively from the acrosses. Like Rex, I have never heard of JACK as a sea-faring noun, but now I know something new, and that's cool.

Loved the write-up and photos! Keep 'em coming!


embee 9:20 AM  

Lois, Thanks I didn't see the symmetry. I am new at this. I did wonder if it was a singular vs plural issue. Live and learn! It was fun puzzle.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

the plural of lego is lego

slypett 9:32 AM  

KOSHERSALT: Observant sailor.

kfja 9:40 AM  

@Rex, why was getting to JAW from __W a "stumble"? Isn't that the right answer?

Cheerio 9:46 AM  

Why is something that makes mashed potatos smoother called a RICER?

Was also trying to figure out how you would say Ian with a short I.

GLR 9:53 AM  

@Cheerio, with a potato ricer, you force the potatoes through a bunch of little holes about the diameter of a grain of rice(think of a giant garlic press). You do this a couple of times, and there are no lumps in the mashed potatoes.

@Anon 9:24, officially, LEGO is the brand name and their core product is the LEGO "brick." In everyday usage, I think most of us refer to LEGO bricks as LEGOs.

jackj 10:07 AM  

With Ian scrambling to explain why CREW has been ignored as a theme answer, he needs to reread the clue at 1 across which states, in part, "..where to find the ends of 17_, 22_,", etc.

The end of 50 across is CREW and where do you find the CREW? Why, on the HIGH SEAS, because, you see, CREW are the people who man the ship and there is nothing in the clue which insists on a singular answer.

It may be clear to Ian and Will that only individuals need be considered but they left no reason for solvers to conclude the same.

They should have just added "50" to the list of relevant clues or avoided bastardizing the puzzle by just leaving CREW out of the answers. Sure beats after the fact rationalizing.

A lot of palaver, maybe, but the puzzle didn't evoke any other thoughts.

mac 10:11 AM  

Great name, Livengood. What a nice, quick puzzle. Thank you for pointing out the symmetry and plural problems, I had noticed the crew as well.

In hindsight, the puzzles at Lolla were unusually tough; still go there most of all to meet up with the tribe. It was great.

retired_chemist 10:29 AM  

Loved the photos, Rex. Someday I'm gonna start coming to this and ACPT. if there is anything being organized in the Texas area (broadly construed), count me in.

Enjoyable easy-medium Monday. Can't say LOVED IT, but liked it plenty.

Wrote in COTTON SWAB with no crosses, ere long did the NW and SE downs for the reveal, saw why SWAB was there, and the rest was easy.

From my distinctly limited culinary experience, a RICER is a tool used only by crossword constructors and aficionados to mash potatoes. Nobody I am or ever have been related to uses/used one. I consider it a sort of kitchen YETI - people probably report RICER sightings and the tabloids eat it up (so to speak).

Based on 2D and 44D, Mr. Livengood seems to be living well on potatoes. Possibly 2D could have been clued by the autobiography of the master potato chef, Noil Shaughnessy (that would be I, NOIL).

With our potatoes, cooked with some ONIONs and KOSHER SALT, we might have FISHES. CRACKER JACKs and later FIGnewtons can be snacks sometime in the day. I think I shall have a fashionably late breakfast now....

chefbea 10:36 AM  

I also use my potato ricer to squeeze the water out of frozen spinach, after it has thawed.

@Rex - Your daughter is soooo adorable and grown up. Saw the fotos on face book

DBGeezer 10:38 AM  

@rex, Great pictures!. If you ever feel like changing your avatar, use the one with you and your lovely wife.

Two Ponies 10:43 AM  

Nice Monday puzzle to start our week. With two clues about India and two French words I'd say Med. is about right for the general solving community. Easy for the Mensa crowd here. (cough, smirk)
My only questions while solving were re: terse for Loved it. Concise, maybe but terse has a negative feel in my mind. Then there is the clue for llano. I associate that word with S. Amer.
I live in the SW and there are no grassy plains where I live at all.

hazel 10:46 AM  

whenever i see Livengood in the byline, I think of McLovin from Superbad and start the puzzle with a chuckle.

Love PINETAR and CRACKERJACK - spent a day in Cooperstown last week, a mecca of sorts for me - Go Braves!

my little eponymous (!) corgi mutt has some hideyholes amongst the pinetrees in our yard, where she can stay cool when shes outside. she has lots of little pinetar blobs in her coat. maybe its just pinesap blobs. either way, its adorable. and she smells clean.

liked this one a lot.

Jean-Claude Van Damme 11:03 AM  

I don't like my name being dragged through the mud like this.

I was the 5th best action star of the 80's, damnit!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:12 AM  

Just one write-over, but how can I explain? Preparing breakfast/financial analysis of the present crisis on NPR/phone ringing/glancing with one eye at puzzle: Absent-mindedly entered 1 D, Sell at a pawnshop, as . . . . PAWN! Didn't take long to fix once the puzz had my attention.

@nanpilla - Thanks for the shout-out! I was going to be immodest and make the same observation myself, but you have graciously done it for me. ;>)

No lumps 11:24 AM  

Count me in on knowing/using a ricer for potatoes.

Mine happens to be a pass down from my grandmother and is used every Thanksgiving (at least).

Also know it from it's 10 appearances, half the time from the (arguably) top constructors.

Crew doesn't bother me as 1a clearly defines the theme answers ;)

[in the kitchen with] Dinah

JaxInL.A. 11:39 AM  

Very nice Monday. Eight really is "the new three" for theme answers. Congratulations, Mr. Livengood.  

Many people use a ricer to turn carrots, peas, sweet potatoes or fruit into baby food. You can see one in action here.

Apparently there are several different types of ricers.  Mine is a rotary.

ArtO 12:04 PM  

compliments to @SLYPETT on KOSHER SALT clue (i.e. Observant sailor).

JenCT 12:09 PM  

I also got stuck at the NSW/ASSAM cross.

I actually do have, and use, a RICER.

Even though it's just a glimpse, I recognize my son's arm & leg behind Rex in the picture.

Stan 12:17 PM  

Good little Monday with very clean fill and nicely-developed theme. Maybe grid-shapes that avoid 3-letter blocks lead to better answers?

Just noticed the self-reflexive 10A: FILL.

jberg 1:20 PM  

I read the clue for 1A, figured I'd need some crosses, and soon got 15A, COTTON SWAB. Aha, sez I, the theme must be things that go in EARS! Fortunately, some other crosses fixed that one quickly - but I put it out there, free of charge, for some future constructor to use.

I, too, have a RICER. My son gave it to me one Christmas, as a hint that he'd found my Thanksgiving mashed potatoes over lumpy. I still like my old-fashioned hand masher, though.

I really liked the self-referential clud at 10A (____ in the blank_, and the clue for 22 A, BIG HAND, seemed an appropriate level of difficulty for a Monday. By that token, of course, the inclusion of MENSA, clued as "supersmart," has to be seen as ironic.

Only small quibble -- the clue for 43A, CRACKERJACK, should have had "60 years ago" added to it.

michael 1:46 PM  

I don't think that "become friendly with" = "get to know." You can get to know people without becoming their friends. Happens all the time.

Minor quibble -- In these times of grade inflation, C is not usually a middling grade. It's usually a pretty bad grade.

Lisbet ("Lisbeth"? No. "Lisbet.") 1:58 PM  

I still don't get how he pronounces his name. With an i sound like "its"? I-an? How do you even do that? It's mighty glottal.

CoffeeLvr 2:02 PM  

If you like considering multiple meanings of JACK, try this Merle Reagle from last month. It is the July 17 puzzle, and will only be available for six days or less, as they drop off the site. It is a 21x21.

@Plumpy, thanks, I wondered about that. Thought it might have something to do with the distinction between being evaporated from the SEAS or mined.

@Anon at 9:24, yes, technically you are right, but parents all over the world say "Pick up your LEGOS!"

I actually prefer my potatoes slightly lumpy. Doesn't using a ricer dramatically cool down the potatoes?

Shamik 2:17 PM  

Medium-challenging for me. Felt faster, but my fingers betray me. Alas. Nice Monday puzzle. Now off to find the Lollapuzzoola puzzles...

Anonymous 2:40 PM  

Given the theme, you can't use "sailor" in your clue for salt.

william e emba 3:15 PM  

Seeing NEWTS in the puzzle always reminds me of P G Wodehouse big-time. For those who have not read Right Ho, Jeeves and its sequel The Code of the Woosters, starring Gussie Fink-Nottle, newt geek extraordinaire, well, you really really want to. And don't bother reading jacket copy or other spoilers. Just dive in. Some of Wodehouse's insanely great best passages are in these two novels. The following is pretty tame, actually:

'... Colour does make a difference. Look at NEWTS. During the courting season the male newt is brilliantly coloured. It helps him a lot.'

'But you aren't a male newt.'

'I wish I were. Do you know how a male newt proposes, Bertie? He just stands in front of the female newt vibrating his tail and bending his body in a semicircle. I could do that on my head. No, you wouldn't find me grousing if I were a male newt.'

'But if you were a male newt, Madeline Bassett wouldn't look at you. Not with the eye of love, I mean.'

'She would, if she were a female newt.'

'But she isn't a female newt.'

'No, but suppose she was.'

'Well, if she was, you wouldn't be in love with her.'

'Yes, I would, if I were a male newt.'

A slight throbbing about the temples told me that this discussion had reached saturation point.

Anonymous 3:18 PM  

I have a BIL called Ian and a nephew called Ian, and I have watched Ian Woosnam many times on the golf channel.

Everyone has the right to pronounce their name however they like. I sorta remember The Opposite of Sex where Lisa K was playing a character called Lucia, but she pronounced it "Loosha." She was ordering airline tickets on the phone, and breaks in, (paraphrasing) Dammit! I know how to pronounce my own name!

Normal Ians don't pronounce their name EEN. It's a bit more like e'yan, spoken quickly, with the e pronounced just like the vowel.

Chip Hilton 5:40 PM  

Rex, Like me, you obviously married up. Your wife has one sweet smile. Also, nice to know you're human, solving-wise.

long suffering mets fan 5:41 PM  

today, just for the heck of it and feeling kind of sadistic, I thought I'd time myself for the first time in honor of this past weekend in NYC

paper solver, fairly new to this great blog, doing the NYT puzzle for a couple of years

felt pretty good about myself as I sped through the puzzle, confidently put my pen down and thought 5-6 minute range. Looked at my timer -- 8:55 ugh !!!!!

I feel a kinship with people like @ JP and @ John V -- not that we're stupid -- we're above average, but these people are on a different planet !!!

REX 2 freakin' 36 ????? at 2:36 I hadn't even looked at a down clue yet. Hats off and a standing ovation to all of you guys and gals who can breeze through these things at breakneck speed -- I must go to the next NYC event to see this in person

Joseph 5:44 PM  

I have been solving crosswords (and reading this blog on and off) for a few years, although I am probably a novice relative to this esteemed group, as I only finish about 1/2 of Thursdays and maybe 1/4 of Friday NYT puzzles (which often take the weekend to complete). That said, I have yet to figure out the criteria this group uses to evaluate a "good" puzzle. What, exactly, is smooth fill? And, why would PITCREW be objectionable to anyone, even as a "nit"? Is there a rule that all two-word answers in a themed puzzle like this must fit the theme? I was similarly baffled at the heavy criticisms mounted on that poor fellow's puzzle last week that had all the Ts in it.

Narcissism? IAN: I can see how signing one's name to his art would be offensive to some, in the same way many masters never signed their pieces. Though that was because their egos were substantial enough to convince them that everyone would recognize the art as the master's even without a signature. (Recall from weeks ago that Michelangelo signed only his Pieta'.) And, speaking of the puzzle of Ts from lsat week, it did occur to me at the time that the infatuation with the T was borne from the TTs in the constructor's own name -- Paul Guttormsson (Aug. 3, 2011) -- a kind of signature, if you will. (Perhaps his next piece will have answers that each contain an S.)

For you RICER fans out there: use it to make the best gnocchi you've never had. Yukon golds and some flour (no eggs!) smothered in a hand-made pesto ... looks like you've set my menu for tonight.

chefbea 5:59 PM  

@Joseph yummmm...pesto

Sfingi 6:57 PM  

@JP - I think their brains should be studied via f(MRI).

@Cheerio - To reiterate, there is an antique device called a RICER into which one places the cooked, peeled potato and closes the 2 handles which presses the tater through small holes. The effect is to not only mash it, but make said tater appear, to the far-sighted, as rice.
I own the family ricer, and it makes a good kitchen decoration.

@Anon318 - Italians would pronounce Lucia LOOCHA. Lusha would be spelled Luscia.

As far as long/short vowels, long would be pronounces like the letter itself. Not done much in Italian (Eye-talian being the first no-no.)

Nice puzzle.

600 7:16 PM  

@kfja--"@Rex, why was getting to JAW from __W a "stumble"? Isn't that the right answer?" I do wish he'd answer you! I too wonder about that line--I've seen the clever misdirections (I, Fido; SRI to RIS, pronouncing Livengood as Beetlejuice, many, many more) often enough to feel a little stupid for asking, but I don't get that remark either.

Did anybody?

I enjoyed the puzzle. Nice, easy flow. Nuff said.

Anonymous 8:22 PM  

While ricers can be used to make lump free mashed potatoes that is not specifically what they were designed for. I love lumpy mashed potatoes so don't use mine for that. I will admit to it being a bit old fashioned what with food processors and the like but I do use it to make marinara sauce - it works as a combination crusher and sieve and is a real pain but the payoff is worth it.

GLR 8:32 PM  

@600 et al., at the risk of putting words into Rex's mouth, I think he meant that he struggled to get JAW, even though he had the "W" - which (maybe) should have made the answer obvious.

chefbea 8:37 PM  

Went to our farmers Mkt this afternoon and guess what I bought????
Will roast them tomorrow. Yummmm. Red tubers!!!

john towle 8:54 PM  

In the USN, crackerjacks refers to the enlisted dress blues uniform (E-1 thru E-6) in sailor slang, after the picture of the sailor on the Crackerjack package.



nycscott 9:45 PM  

My take on the theme, as if another were needed:) --

There are theme puzzles where the theme clues/answers are not indicated specifically, and there are themes such as today where they are (among other types, I suppose). 50A was not included in today's list in 1A, therefore it is not part of the theme. I don't know -- to me it's just that simple.

mac 10:46 PM  

OK, here's a potatoe afficionado (I think it might be afficionada in my case) who can't keep from weighing in on this ricer issue.

A ricer is not a mouli legume. A ricer is specifically for pressing cooked potatoes through so they are finely "riced" and can be reheated with hot milk and melted butter (or olive oil, garlic and milk). The Dutch version of mashed potatoes actually beats in a raw egg and some nutmeg.

A mouli legume is for pureeing vegetables, is rotary, has several interchangeable discs with different fineness (I think I have 3), perfect for tomatoes. The skins and seeds stay behind and can be tossed.

Never, ever put potatoes into a food processor, you will end up with a glue-like paste. If you don't have a ricer, just use a masher or a fork.

Now you all got me hungry again... Sorry about this rant, you can tell I feel strongly about potatoes.

mac 10:48 PM  

P.S. Chefbea's trick for getting the moisture out of frozen spinach with a ricer is brilliant.

Pete 11:09 PM  

@Joseph - The regular posters here are unique primarily in that the pay close attention to puzzles, no more no less. A good puzzle is one they enjoy, same as for anyone else. What changes is what we've come to learn about, and pay attention to.

PITCREW was questionable because CREW is very similar to, but not exactly like, the rest of the theme elements. Crew is plural, the theme answers were all singular. As a rule of thumb, theme answers are all placed symetrically in the grid, and PITCREW had no matching theme element. The point people were making is that the puzzle would have been better had this 'almost but not quite' entry not have been there. If that entry had been PITBOSS, it never would have raised an eyebrow.

Smooth fill is everything that doesn't make you cringe when you put it in. Things that make you cringe are the 12th time this month you've put in ATTA for ____ Girl, forced plurals, attaching RE as a prefix to any verb, attaching an ER to any verb to form a noun that you've never heard used in your entire life. Good fill is whatever makes you grin. Ordinary fill is the rest.

I did puzzles for years without ever noticing these things, when I found this site I began noticing them. It vastly increased my appreciation for puzzles while at the same time making the dreck more obvious and more painful.

Narcissism? That's just Evil Doug being evil. We all have our pet peeves, that's one of his.

Captcha: Lents. See, crappy fill. Yes, there are many Lents, one per year, but it's just Lent.

Joseph 11:59 PM  

@Pete, a helpful explanation and thoughtful post; thank you.

@Mac, I've been calling my mouli legume by the wrong name its whole life. It must be so offended.

evil doug 3:14 AM  

Joseph: "Narcissism? IAN: I can see how signing one's name to his art would be offensive to some, in the same way many masters never signed their pieces."

The puzzlers already "sign their names" via the byline. Adding a name/nickname/other self-congratulatory indication is like the painter signing his piece twice.

Pete: "Narcissism? That's just Evil Doug being evil. We all have our pet peeves, that's one of his."

Indeed. And if you can see some redeeming value in narcissism, I'd love to know what it is.


Anonymous 7:24 AM  

And your name appeared at the top and at the bottom of your post.

Pete 9:27 AM  

@Evil Doug - I'm not defending narcissism. I'm decrying your interpretaton of each and every instance of it as being narcissistic, for which you have absolutely no basis in fact. That's the evil part.

Sfingi 10:40 PM  

Ricers (and Foley food mills) were both very useful in the old days in mushing food so that babies and the toothless aged could eat. Nowadays, baby food is a product bought ready-made, and oldsters get Ensure.

Badir 1:40 PM  

Hi Rex. I hope you and Sandy liked Gobo--my wife and I really enjoyed it when we went.

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

can somebody please explain ONEA to me?!!!

Bob Kerfuffle 6:31 PM  

@Anonymous 4:20 - Sort of the opposite of FOUR F.

Dirigonzo 5:38 PM  

From syndiland, I'm with @efrex (why do you suppose he calls himself that?) and others - that ASSAM/NSW cross was definitely tough for a Monday. In fact, ASrAM seemed reasonable to me, so DNF on a Monday.

GTOS appears for the second time in only a few days (in the same place, I think) which is fine with me - damn, I wish I still had that car!

Anonymous 8:53 PM  

Naticked at ASSAM/NSW. I went with ASaAM. Thought that was a little rough for a Monday but then we've been getting soft tossed a lot on Monday lately.

Don't "easter egg" me for the sake of symmetry; if the CREW fits, wear it.

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