Three-wheeled Asian cab /TUE 8-9-11/ Old camera settings for short / Early 1970s dance / Nickname snowboarder Shaun White / Much-derided 1980s-90s car

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Constructor: Tony Orbach

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Tuesday*)

THEME: Making soup — theme answers are familiar 15-letter names that all happen to follow the model [THE + adjective + possible soup type], clued as [Literal clue ... or some wacky kind of soup?]

Word of the Day: MAIA (1A: One of the Pleiades) —

Maia (20 Tauri) is a star in the constellation Taurus. It is the fourth brightest star in the Pleiades open star cluster (M45), after Alcyone, Atlas and Electra, in that order. The name Maia originates with the Greek: Μαῖα and Latin: Maia. She is one of the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione in Greek mythology—stars which are also included in the Pleaides star cluster (see map). Maia is a blue giant of spectral type B8 III, and a mercury-manganese star. (wikipedia)
• • •

Tony's back! Weird: he and Janie had Sunday's puzzle, and then Janie had yesterday's LAT puzzle, and now Tony's got today's NYT. It really is their week. Today's felt toughish to me. This is largely because of a small handful of answers, most notably MAIA (1A: One of the Pleiades), of which I've *never* heard (hate failing at 1-Across) and THE FLYING TOMATO, which I remembered in retrospect, but ... who cares about retrospect when you're trying to solve a damned puzzle? I like the weirdness of the theme, and the parallel structures of the theme answers. I would totally eat two of these soups. With a BIALY, if one were offered (38A: Onion-flavored roll).

Tony let in some stuff that I think every constructor should try hard to Keep Out of his / her puzzles (with the understanding that sometimes you just Need some of these answers): MAIA (not a fan yet—like TOD, it does not feel very Tuesdayish (65D: Thomas' Mann's "Der ___ in Venedig")); AABA (man I hate rhyme schemes in my puzzles) (36A: Rhyme scheme for Frost's "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening"); ASAS (this answer makes me yearn for a rhyme scheme) (68A: Old camera settings, for short); -ESCE (the ICKYiest of the suffixes) (44A: Suffix with opal); UIES (the less said about this oddly common bit of fill, the better); and ISPS (the most valid answer in this short list—I just don't like it) (56A: Ways to the Web: Abbr.). DREAR (62A: Gloomy, in verse) and CYCLO aren't great (16A: Three-wheeled Asian cab), but there's something oddly interesting about them that make me not gag. Might have been somewhat faster if I'd known that Okeechobee was a LAKE (was thinking SWAMP or RIVER ...), or if I hadn't gone with IONE at 1-Across or URLS at 56-Across.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: "Peanuts" figure ... or some fabulous fall soup? (THE GREAT PUMPKIN)
  • 39A: Early 1970s dance ... or some smelly soup? (THE FUNKY CHICKEN)
  • 63A: Nickname for snowboarder Shaun White ... or some airborne soup? (THE FLYING TOMATO)
  • 25A: Much-derided 1980s-'90s car (YUGO) — it's small and ugly and will remind you of Eastern Bloc depression. You'll love it!

  • 43A: Kenyan tribesman (MASAI) — I did my eighth-grade Geography report on Tanzania, which (I'm pretty sure) is how I learned about these tribesmen. I'm assuming they're not just in Kenya, but in (neighboring) Tanzania as well.
  • 71A: Instrument played with a plectrum (LYRE) — If it hadn't been for MAIA, "plectrum" would've been the Word of the Day.
  • 57D: One-horse carriage (SHAY) — again, very un-Tuesday like. The NYT puzzle has a strange affection for carriages.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Gill I. P. 12:08 AM  

This has to be my all-time favorite Tue. puzzle.
When the first thing I filled out was the corniest, 6 year old joke, I just knew I was going to love it.
28D LAKE Okeechobe - where I went to summer camp and learned how to 66A CANOE!!
I'm a big fan of old movies particularly the black and whites so TCM was served to me on a gold-rimmed plate.
Everyone of the 15's brought a smile to this face...
Thank you Tony Orback for such an entertaining and clever puzzle

syndy 12:15 AM  

Maybe Rex was put off by 49 down? Interesting tuesday- had no hang-ups really liked the theme answers alot-0I've never heard shaun called that but it does fit.We will have to deduct two points for uies-maybe three for the plural. PARDATIF-an after dinner drink you share?

foodie 12:19 AM  

Interesting puzzle! I like it because, once again, the phrases are common and yet their meaning has been reinterpreted through cluing. And I'm not one to complain when the theme is about food! What's cool is that none of the phrases remotely denote soup on their own. T.O chose to clue them that way, instead of saying something like : Last word is a type of soup.... Instead, he used "fabulous", "smelly", and "airborne"-- all odd associations for soup! So, the wackiness is all in the cluing and somehow, it all works!

Gill I. P. 12:42 AM  

Oops...That's Orbach and I just finished one of his in Sunset Crosswords.

Tobias Duncan 1:05 AM  

Wed time and an error. Never heard of TCM CYCLO or ELIE. Loved and hated it.
The one sport mentioned is one of the few sports I am passingly good at, even if I do not follow the pros at all.Really ,this should have been a Wednesday.
The clunky stuff Rex mentioned felt really bad to me. 1 across just should not have started a Tuesday puzzle.

santafefran 1:09 AM  

HEEL, FIDO or THE FUNKY CHICKEN will put you in a HYPNOTIC trance and throw you in the ABYSS.

TAKE IT EASY and don't be too FORMAL or THE GREAT PUMPKIN will be a NOGO (or a no come). If he FALLS FOR it, THAT THIEF will ditch the CYCLO AND drive away in the STOLEN YUGO after he gets his MITTS on it.

With a nod to @foodie and @Joho.

Modesty Blasé 2:15 AM  

Just want to say how much I enjoy your take on The Crossword, Rex.
I'm back to doing the daily after a long-ish spell away.
My skills still seem pretty intact (so far).
Loved this somewhat challenging Tuesday.
Now I must find a Polish deli or restaurant that bakes fresh bialy.

Also, was "Relative of Rex" a shout-out of sorts?

Clark 2:32 AM  

Not knowing MAIA, CYCLO, EASTLA, MASAI, ESCE, SHAY made this crunchy for me (for a Tuesday). But I like crunchy.

Herb Cain 2:47 AM  

This puzzle was a terrible Tuesday offering. Too many seldom used "crossword puzzle words" that made the whole thing seem way too forced. I'll bet Tony didn't have much fun putting this one together... and you let him off way too easy, Rex

chefwen 3:23 AM  

Haven't made Bialys in ages, think I'll whip up a batch tomorrow out of my Secrets of a Jewish Baker cookbook.

@Clark is right, pretty crunchy for a Tuesday, but enjoyable. Got hung up in the MAIA/ISBN/STILES area. Husband helped me by fixing my STyLES to STILES making I BELIEVE SO a little easier to grasp. I almost thought I would have to Google but held off as that is unacceptable on a Tuesday.

Another good one Mr. Orbach.

shrub5 5:26 AM  

Very nice puzzle!! Every time I got to something I didn't know, the crosses came to the rescue. Sticky area in the mid-Atlantic region but once I figured out ESC for 'key to get out of a jam?', SYNC emerged and finished BIALY.

Did you know Subaru is the Japanese name for the Pleiades star cluster which inspired their corporate
logo ?

Anonymous 6:24 AM  

Ehh.. okay puzzle. Theme is completely forgettable and pretty crummy at that. Lots of nice fill though. I dunno why Rex doesn't like ISPS. It's perfectly valid and I hear people use the abbreviation ISP all the time.

Also, ASAS? I don't get that.

Z 7:45 AM  

Ditto on what Rex said. Lots to like cancelled out by lots of dreck to dislike, and crunchy for a Tuesday. The theme is great, love the riddle, liked that the clue for UNUM references the penny and not the dollar, and I liked the criminal sub-theme, THIEF, STOLEN, ITCH, FALLSFOR. C.P. SNOW's The Two Cultures was my freshman seminar text, so that was a nice gimme for me.

But can we please, please, PLEASE retire UIES and all of its variants. Please. Really, PLEASE. RTES, okay, not great but something you see in print all the time. ATMS, can't get much more in the language than that. Still waiting for some Times Roman misdirection for a FONT clue. ESC and ATV, still very common. But I have never seen UIES in print and everyone I know calls them "U-Turns." Give me UTES, tell me LIES, force me to wear TIES, but don't put UIES in a puzzle again.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

SNOW fine, crossing [Snowboarder] is weird.

hazel 7:58 AM  

For me, the coolness of the theme answers made up for whatever else is less than perfect for this puzzle. As @foodie mentioned, the cluing for the soup hybrids is wonderful.

I didn't know MAIA either but I liked being introduced to her - on a Tuesday to boot. Also, as suffixes go, ESCE is a good one to me - as it is from the Latin and always indicates the beginning of a "process" or change when attached to its underlying word. and the resulting words seem more often than not to be kind of peaceful - luminesce, coalesce, effervesce - you get the picture.

jberg 8:10 AM  

Really fun theme, not too hard, so I liked it, despite some minor problems. I had LutE before LYRE, no other writeovers.

ESCE is OK in itself, but I don't like it with Opal - does something opalESCE when it's in the process of becoming opalESCEnt? I can't imagine ever saying that!

I memorized that Frost poem about 50 years ago - knew at the time it would come in handy some day!

John Keats 8:12 AM  

In Drear-Nighted December

IN drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne'er remember
Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.

In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne'er remember
Apollo's summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.

Ah! would 'twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any
Writhed not at passed joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it
Nor numbed sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme.

joho 8:16 AM  

I liked it!

Andrea and I used THEFUNKYCHICKEN in a puzzle and it always makes me smile. I also loved THEFLYINGTOMATO here.

What stood out as odd to me was seeing ESCE right next to ESC.

Thank you, Tony for a terrific Tuesday with a sense of humor!

Frost Hoar 8:46 AM  

The rhyme scheme of Snowy Woods is very intricate and not AABA. The first verse is AABA, and then each subsequent verse takes the prior verse's third-line end-rhyme (B here) and makes it the rhyme for the 1,2 and 4 lines. By the end of the poem, it has circled back around so that the third line is the rhyme for the 1,2 and 4 lines of the first verse. Ingenious and memorable and probably why the poem is so seductively memorizable.

jesser 8:49 AM  

I made the same mistake as Rex at 56A, and I had iNGELs at 4D before EAST LA forced me to reconsider. Thanks to all that is holy for the Carolina downs or I would Never In A Billion Years gotten BIALY. This also applies to CYCLO further north.

I would rate it challenging (for a Tuesday), and if things are boding, the rest of the week will be maximally crunchy.

Aside: I have never attempted THE FUNKY CHICKEN. When I lived in Taos, there were weekly barn dances that I wanted badly to attend and participate in, so I took a two-step class at the Anglada Center. After three weeks, the instructor took me aside and gently told me I was the most rhythm-impaired person she had ever encountered, and she offered me a full refund, which I took, and then I left the building. And that was the end of my dancing ambitions.

Not that I'm bitter... :-)

Of a certain era 8:56 AM  

Crusin' downtown on Saturday nights (in the era of cars with tail fins), "Hang a uey" was a common expression when something interesting was spotted on the other side of the street.

Never saw it in mainstream print, but I accept any reasonable spelling as it brings up some of my "salad days" memories.

[Not the] Fonz

GLR 8:59 AM  

@Anon 6:24, ASA is the "speed" rating on photographic film. You had to set the speed on the camera so that you would get the correct exposure when you took a photo.

Brian 9:15 AM  

Looks like I'm in the minority today. I didn't find the theme particularly inspiring or clever at all and the fill was SO clunky as to be almost torturous (AABA? Really? ESCE?). It was a slog to solve, and not because it was challenging. There was little "ah, nice," in the solutions (with the exception of the clue for ESC).

But no constructor can please all the solvers all the time and it looks like Mr. Orbach pleased many so good for him!

John V 9:16 AM  

Only pause was 9D, TCM, as there are several Turner channels. Otherwise, played pretty easy for a Tuesday, fun, silly theme! The Flying Tomato? Learn something everyday, no?

Didn't know MAIA but the crosses made it easy.

M07S 9:17 AM  

@shrub5: Thanks for the interesting Subaru aside. The Pleiades is (are?) my favorite asterism. When I was a kid I always called it The Little Dipper. Nice puzzle today.

jackj 9:18 AM  

The theme was lots of fun but there were so many compromises to make it work that it diluted the impact and showed that pedestrian fill can spoil the broth.

Quality puzzles which have to fall back on the likes of ELIE, UIES, ATMS, EGGO, etc., etc., etc., for the fill should, perhaps, rethink their raison d'etre.

chefbea 9:38 AM  

I too thought this was on the tough side for a Tuesday. But of course loved all the soups.

Going to make Lucy lemon squares today - to go with the great pumpkin.

JaxInL.A. 9:48 AM  

The puzzle was fine (sorry for the short shrift, Mr. Orbach), but I want to rant for just a moment about the "improvements" to the NYT Magmic software in the latest update. Urgh. 

1) Most of it seems to be about unnecessarily changing fonts throughout. You can make the clue fonts larger, but much of the rest of the pages now have smaller fonts. 

2) They added an irritatingly cheesy tune that now plays when you complete the puzzle (did they have this before and I had just turned it off?). No animation.  But I no longer get the info of where I rank at time of submission (e.g. 467 of 685--I'm not a speed solver). 

3) Magmic finally put in navigation arrows to move between answers, but the arrows also change the direction of erasing, which gets frustrating.  

4) I wanted the feature of highlighting the clues in the opposing direction, but now you see two clues equally highlighted and have to keep checking to assure that you are reading the correct column.  How hard is it to use color or font or shade to differentiate?

Okay, there's more but this is the end of my rant.  

I may break down and figure out how to import NYT puzzles into Across Lite, though I'm told that program is becoming obsolete. The Crux program is okay but not my favorite. 

thursdaysd 9:51 AM  

This was going fine until I hit the SE, where I wound up needing a reveal to get TATAR, a group I connect with the Mongols rather than the Turks. Wanted Bagel, not BIALY - is that a New York thing? I don't think I've ever encountered one.

Needed help to get CYCLO, even though I've ridden in several. Three-wheeled Asian cabs are usually rickshaws or tuk-tuks, I think you only find cyclos in Vietnam, and fewer of them than you used to. Photo:

And another vote against the ubiquitous U-turns.

Tobias Duncan 9:56 AM  

In Taos everyone loves to dance.We dance to everything from Mexican ballads to Ska to Disco to country music.But make no mistake, we are not good dancers. The dancing you see here is tragic and heart warming at the same time.People are clearly having a great time, but most are moving to some unsyncapated signal they must be receiving from a distant galaxy.I dare say we set the lowest bar in North America.The Angladas building houses the worst of the worst.I have seen stuff there... well its just bad is all.
So when Jesser tells you he is not the best dancer... lets see I am just doing the math here as I type...
Jesser may just be the worst dancer on this planet. The fact that he admitted this to us in a public forum must mean that he loves us very much.
We love you too, just please, stay in your seat.Dont get up , we will bring you another cocktail.Seriously man, not even in the car, on a lonely highway with your favorite 8 track.Please do not dance again.

quilter1 10:08 AM  

I'm baaack! Great trip returning granddaughter to LA, stopped in Taos along the way and she fell in love with it, wants to live there (me, too). Had a lovely lunch with lovely JaxinLA last Thursday. Great meeting her--she works in the most beautiful restored Victorian mansion. Now we have the grandboy for a few weeks, age 4 and adorable.

I liked this puzzle. I especially liked the top half with MAIA, AJAR, and THE GREAT PUMPKIN. I am also more familiar with tuk-tuks rather than CYCLO.

Blogger doesn't seem to like my photo of the latest quilt. I'll work on it.

Nighthawk 10:20 AM  

Perhaps because I have a very strong memory of Rufus Thomas, in his electric pink short pants suit, at the WDIA Starlight Revue doing and singing THE FUNKY CHICKEN, and with the ending KIN and a few other crosses, THE GREAT PUMPKIN lept to mind, this one seemed a relative easy romp.

Curiously, other spots that shouldn't have been speedbumps were. Like: thinking "f-stop" for 68A but didn't fit, and I agree w/ @GLR, I think if it as more a film speed, with the camera setting merely to coordinate with that speed. But even filling with all crosses, I didn't recognize is in the plural. NOGO was another. Sat with NOG_ for a long while until I threw up a guess for TOD.

What I thought was really good were the long downs (3,10,40 and 31). Those crossing the 3 15 themes made the rest of the fill a real constraint, but Mr. Orbach really came through with some sparkling stuff, with a few exceptions (looking at you-LSAT, ISBN, ISPS and, yes, ASAS and UIES).

By the way, I thought the plural of U-ey was "donut."


Mel Ott 10:24 AM  

For some reason I always want the Pleiades to be Greek islands instead of stars.

Real nice puzzle despite some ICKY fill. An entertaining theme. Some nice long vertical non-theme answers. More of a challenge than most Tuesdays.

Tuesday puzzles are usually a tad boring. This one was not.

Matthew G. 10:24 AM  

I liked the theme entries very much, but otherwise I did not care for this very much at all. The fill was pretty much a slog to go through, and I correctly expected that Rex would say this doesn't feel much like a Tuesday. It certainly didn't feel like one to me, and that goes beyond the obscure entries themselves. For example, why on Earth would you clue SNOW with {Author C.P. ____} on a Tuesday? That's at least a Friday clue, IMO. I might not have noticed it on its own, but combined with bad/obscure other fill, I found myself really asking why this puzzle turned out as it did.

Enjoyed Tony Orbach's work on Saturday (Lollapuzzoola) and Sunday (NYT puzzle) immensely. Today, I tend to agree with Herb that Rex let him off a little easy. This one just falls flat.

Pete 10:32 AM  

Re YUGO / Derided. Is it really deriding something to speak accurately about it? I doubt anyone ever said anything negative about the YUGO that wasn't 100% accurate, no matter how severely they mocked it. Maybe Derided in this case is another made up crossword word meaning that someone chose never to ride in one again, as in after I rode in my new YUGO once, I derided it because to do otherwise would subject me to ridicule and a likely death.

retired_chemist 10:36 AM  

Enjoyable, maybe crunchier than expected for Tuesday in a few places, but solid and mostly easy.

Sort of knew BIALY but in my mind it was BAGEL or BLINI first. Knew BLINI wasn't right but BAGEL could have been....

Decided not to tackle the theme answers head on and worked on the crosses first. The downs were easy but the solve was a bit slow as a result. THE FLYING TOMATO was completely new to me, except as in the Monty Python Ssfer Food Sketch,

URLS for ISPS was another slowdown.

Thanks, Mr. Orbach.

Two Ponies 10:36 AM  

It felt like Rex had read my margin notes this morning.
After getting the first two theme answers I thought "Please have *the* at the start of the last one too". Glad it did.
Does Shaun White have red hair?
Another thanks to @shrub5 for cool Subaru story.
I know Ms. Graf and she hates being called Steffi.
Love the dance stories.

archaeoprof 10:36 AM  

More challenging than the typical Tuesday, and more interesting too.

THEFLYINGTOMATO recently crossed over from snowboarding to skateboarding and won a medal at the XGames. Or so my nephew tells me.

@quilter1: welcome back!

David 10:40 AM  

toughie for Tuesday - I like to be around 5 to 5:30 on Tuesdays (on paper), clocked in at 6:30 just now.

Like others, a whole bunch of clues I just didn't know (MAIA, TOD, ASAS, CYCLO, CP SNOW, SHAY) and needed at least 1-2 crosses to solve, and a couple of the so-called gimmes (I blanked on ANGELA Merkel for too long) didn't fall quickly.

Still, I enjoyed the theme a lot, and breezed through the 3 answers and while having fun discovering them. I do wish UEYS/UIES would be retired, and I can't stand the darn rhyme scheme answers.

However, I did know MASAI, from, of all things, an old Far Side cartoon.

Evan K. 10:50 AM  

Re: Where to get the best BIALY -- Kossar's on Grand Street, the LES in Manhattan.

It's right next door to Doughnut Plant, where you might just get find some dough in fantastic flavor like triple chocolate and crème brulée, or, if they're feeling gutsy, some GREAT PUMPKIN?

This puzzle was a bit odd in that I correctly guessed the letters in two NATICK locations to finish the puzzle: "TCM / CYCLO"? "LIOTTA / TATAR"? Just not names I'm familiar with. C and T were the only letters that made sense in those spots, though.

Wasn't offended by the crosswordese in this puzzle as Rex was.

Speaking of puns, AJAR. Huh. Should've gotten that one more quickly.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:30 AM  

30 A, "Words to swear by", MOTTOS?

Words to live by, maybe, but to swear by?

Otherwise, I liked it, tho did seem several clues were above Tues level.

John V 11:45 AM  

Re Yugo, I just remembered: Why do Yugos have heated rear windows? To keep the driver's hands warm while pushing it!

Tenzil Kem 11:52 AM  

I agree with everyone who said it was tough for a Tuesday.
Missed 33D - "TUNE" instead of "SYNC" - frankly, I don't much think of a bialy as a roll.

chefbea 12:03 PM  

@john V - funny!!!

jesser 12:06 PM  

@Tobias: Thanks for the love! And I promise to refrain from dancing (except occasionally very late at night, after enough bourbon that I have an excuse.)

Ed 12:09 PM  

@Z: I'm with you on retiring UIES and its variants. My question was, "Who spells it 'uies'?" I always would think UEYS. (Then again, we usually called it "flipping a bitch," but whatever.)

I'm not sure what ESCE is. The only suffix I've heard of for opal is INE.

Also, I could swear there is only one F in Graf's first name.

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Right you are, Ed, re Graf.

Lewis 12:21 PM  

@jesser -- when I hear music I like and look like I'm about to get up and dance, my wife gets a frightened "portent of doom" look on her face, my son rolls his eyes and sometimes leaves the room, and my dog barks at me. This is not an exaggeration.

Years ago I commonly used the phrase "hang a uie" but I hate that it's spelled so many ways, and I don't say that any more, because it's gone out of style.

Rex there are Masai in Tanzania -- I met many who were our crew in my February mountain climb there, and they are full of joie de vivre...

Andre A 12:23 PM  

@Ed. Anon 12:17 - I beg to differ, as she spells it Steffi.

Rex Parker 12:27 PM  

Takes two seconds to check the spelling of someone's name, folks. In same amt. of time, one could also look up "deride." Come on.


Pete 12:51 PM  

@Rex - It was long way to make a joke that clearly didn't work, not a lack of understanding of what deride means.

Doc John 1:41 PM  

LAKE Okeechobee, that big blue thing in the center of Florida!

Sparky 1:54 PM  

Agree with various critiques but, as I have mentioned before, I'm not so choicey. Just happy to have my little game each day. This one was pleasant and amusing.

I'm sick of UIES. Sounds plain ugly. Spelled BIALi wrong at first. The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay dreged out of grammar school and Sister Maria deLourdes. Whew.

@jesser. Tried to teach myself two-step with a CD before a trip to Colorado. Fuggedaboudit.

Thanks Tony Orbach; you certainly are having a good run.

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

Where I come from it's "hook a uie" and I agree the "uie/uey" should be retired from crosswords.

Love Shaun White - The Flying Tomato a definite gimme. When I see the "Funky Chicken" I think of the movie "The Full Monty".

Definite challenging puzzle for a Tuesday but very enjoyable.

mac 2:25 PM  

Amazing to have another Tony Orbach puzzle!

Took me longer than the usual Tuesday, but even though I didn't know Maia, cyclo, bialy and asas, I got the whole thing through crosses, no guesses.

@Two ponies: I'd heard that too. Mrs. Agassi prefers Stephanie.

Sfingi 2:25 PM  

TOD - I get to get even with those who expect everyone to know French.
Morte, muerte, mort - such a small world.
In reverse of what Senor Wences' hand would say, "Difficult for you, easy for me."

@Ed - opalESCE is a verb meaning to shine in that multi-colored milky almost 3-D way that opals do. A back-formation.

@2Ponies- yes, Shaun White has red hair. So there is a tertiary meaning for tomato.

I think FIDO as a relative of Rex refers to the fact(?) that almost no one ever really names their dogs either.

@Rex - not supposed to Google until crossword's completed.

@Shrub5 - good info.

Great poem, whoever put up the Keats.

The only thing I didn't like was THE at the beginning of each phrase.

rjbrunner 2:41 PM  

For some time now after completing a puzzle, I read all the rows and columns separately as though the answers therein were clued purposely with inventiveness, and of course farcically. Today I clued 23A + 25A w/ Perhaps an Ian Fleming hero (or villain). 11D + 31D w/ Post-coital comment. Kind of an additional post-puzzle tease. Try it.

North Beach 3:14 PM  

@JaxinL.A.: How nice to find another magmic solver - it's the first time I've seen one here. I got an iPad last Christmas, tried the software, and gave up my decades long habit of crawling out of bed on a Sun AM to get coffee and the NYT to bring home and pen-solve the crossword. Still get the coffee, save the $6.50 (west coast/national edition). In general I like the software. Let me hit your points:
1. Can't stand the tiny main font. Also can't stand the NYT CROSSWORDS blaring at me when I open it up. Should be CROSSWORD if you ask me.
2. Cheesy tune was always there. If you want to see your score vs others hit Profile after submitting puzzle.
3. I don't really use the new nav. arrows but they have screwed me up with that reverse erasing.
4. Yes, that across/down simultaneous highlighting is confusing. There must be a better way to make it work.

Any other magmic solvers out there?

Anonymous 3:21 PM  

Anon. at 12:17 here. Sorry for the ado I created. There is only one f in SteFanie Graf's first name. I thought that was what Ed at 12:09 was getting at. I guess I should have kept my mouth shut or at least my hands off the keyboard. Sorry to upset the Rex and anyone else. "Sometimes I feel like a nut; sometimes I am."

North Beach 3:26 PM  

@Mel Ott: You're thinking of the Cyclades.

evil doug 3:41 PM  

Yugo? I stay.

Then there's the guy who tried to market the Chevy Nova in Mexico....


600 3:46 PM  

DNF on a Tuesday? I think I'm moving backwards rather than forward. For me, GOBI crossing BIALY was a NATICK. I thought I knew a little about food--obviously got my comeuppance.

I had a little trouble with Helvetica. I wanted "Finn" for some reason I can't fathom, but knew NYET was right. Then from the recesses somehow FONT appeared (CYCLO was no help.)

I might not mind rhyme schemes so much if the answer were in fact the rhyme scheme of the poem. AABA is only the first verse. The rhyme scheme is actually AABA BBCB CCDC DDDD. Not a fair clue. And while I like Frost Hoar's name, the last stanza does not rhyme with lines 1, 2, and 4 of the first stanza. (Sorry. Now I'm just being nitpicky. But this retired English teacher just can't help it . . .)

@Nighthawk--love that plural of uey! (Hands up for hate UEY, UIE, UEYS, and UIES.)

I loved "SNOW" crossing "THE FLYING TOMATO" (and yes, Shaun White's hair is decidedly red.)

Until my absolute inability to figure out that B in BIALY, I was doing nicely and enjoying the puzzle. I guess I did like it, but I thought I was way past being unable to finish a Tuesday. This is two weeks in a row an early week puzzle called my bluff.

Stan 4:11 PM  

Nice Mulligatawny of a puzzle! The odd bits were easily filled by crosses, so I'm guessing the statistical results will come in as Tuesday medium.

Got to go harvest red potatoes... @chefbea: I'm also growing beets this year.

ksquare 4:23 PM  

@Jesser,thursdaysd,EvanK et al:Evan is right about Kossar's. For those who haven't seen one a BIALY (short for Bialystok, its source) is like a bagel without a hole buy with a depressed center, and it doesn't have a bagel's glazed surface.

sanfranman59 4:23 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)

Tue 8:25, 8:55, 0.94, 38%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:31, 4:35, 0.99, 50%, Medium

ksquare 4:26 PM  

P.S. I believe Bialystok is a city in Poland. Typo of BUY for BUT.

long suffering mets fan 4:42 PM  

mostly good fill thanks, Tony

if anyone is interested, last week's WSJ crossword "Dog Days" was particularly challenging -- for me, anyhow
lots of tough, thought-provoking cluing

chefbea 5:59 PM  

@Evan K Please e-mail me. Have a question

JenCT 7:59 PM  

Thought "Relative of Rex" might be Penelope...

Got BIALYs at Coney Island Bagel last time we visited Brooklyn.

@JaxInLA: I've taken to using the Crosswords app. instead of the MagMic app - I much prefer it.

Was so sure the Shaun White answer would be FLAMINGsomething, that I got held up in that section for a while.

Otherwise, enjoyed the puzzle.

jburgs 10:11 PM  

Liked it. When you mentioned constructor Orbach I did a uey to go back to the picture you had posted of him and yourself. At the time I saw it, I thought, hey he looks a lot my favorite law and order guy, Lennie Briscoe, actor Jerry Orbach. So I googled him tonight and had an aha moment finding out that indeed, Lennie is son of Jerry. Neat.

jburgs 10:14 PM  

Sorry, I meant that Tony s the son of Jerry

sanfranman59 1:55 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 6:12, 6:51, 0.91, 16%, Easy
Tue 8:27, 8:55, 0.95, 39%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:33, 3:40, 0.97, 41%, Medium
Tue 4:27, 4:35, 0.97, 46%, Medium

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

I hate it when the puzzlers take you around in circles, when they come up with words or terms that are not in the dictionary or turn out to be slang I never heard of. This Tues. puzzle was like that. I'v heard of onion-flavored rolls, but whoever heard of a bialy? nogo for cancelled? The flying tomato? According to the dictionary, pleiades are star clusters, but maia??

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

A bit of a snowy sub-theme (I'm including CONE here). Doesn't feel like soup weather but I guess the Frost is on the pumpkin already.

Pippin 1:23 PM  

Strangely, although I did not find this difficult, I did not particularly enjoy it either. (Usually if I finish easily with no googling, I think it is a WONDERFUL puzzle.) Just seemed to lack a certain spiciness....

@Pete - I LOVED your definition of DERIDE and could not believe that Rex thought you were serious. You gave me a good laugh.

Agree with @Bob Kerfuffle that MOTTOS are words to "live" by not "swear" by, and that had me stumped for a while.

Did not know MAIA, TOD, ISPS or BIALY but got them all from crosses.

Dirigonzo 5:41 PM  

From syndiland where it's still Tuesday only 5 weeks later, and I'm trying to figure out how I wound up with THEFUNnYCHICKEN running across the middle of my grid?!

I feel a great empathy for @Jesser on account of a total lack of ability to dance, and an affinity for bourbon (which sometimes gives the illusion of solving the first condition).

Anonymous 7:40 PM  

Spacecraft here. Pumpkin soup, really? How in the world could you make that palatable? I'll stick to the pie, thanks. Mr. Orbach must indeed have had trouble with the fill today: ESC sits right alongside ESCE, and I did not FALL FOR either. Ditto for the ATV ATMS and AABA ASAS. And could we puh-lEEZE make UIES illegal, as they should be? We've had so many of them lately that I feel like a NASCAR driver. And finally, on the heels of our recent flap about "THE," here are three of them!
Rant over, I did like a few of the clues, e.g. the campy one for
5a and the attempt at freshness at 7d. Learned a new (for me) word today: BIALY. Never heard of it--and with my love for all things onion, I will try some. Though many folks don't like DREAR, it makes me think of old Family Feud shows hosted by Richard Dawson ("The dreaded 'drear'"). Had THEFLYING--? and didn't know what came next, but I did know he's a flaming carrot-top, so it wasn't too tough. That, thanks be, gave me TOD, which I couldn't have gotten any other way.

trings: a string that just started making a UIE.

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