Direction to alternative musical passage / WED 9-7-11 / Richard with much-used thumb / Figure of many Mayan deity / Singer whose name was once symbol

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Constructor: Jim Hilger

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: FOLLOW (54A: Word missing from the answers to 17-, 23-, 29-, 40-, 47- and 62-Across) — all theme answers are missing this *initial* word, that is, grid contains only the parts of the answer that FOLLOW "FOLLOW"

Word of the Day: OSSIA (33A: Direction to an alternative music passage) —

conj. Music
Or else. Used as a direction to the performer to designate an alternate section or passage.

[Italian, from o sia, or let it be : o, or (from Latin aut) + sia, third person sing. present subjunctive of essere, to be (from Latin esse).]

• • •

Piece of cake. Theme was almost too easy to get. ORDERS wasn't making any kind of sense as it came into view, and then I looked up and saw what looked like THE BOUNCING ... and then I easily supplied FOLLOW and off I went. Most of the theme answers just filled themselves in after that—in fact, I'm pretty sure that for at least a couple of them, I didn't even have to look at the clue: crosses told me what the answer would be. Not the most exciting theme type (though one of the three puzzles I've had published to date had *exactly* this theme type, so I can't complain too much). I did like "[FOLLOW] THAT CAR," probably because I've just begun a new semester of teaching crime fiction; but the rest were just ... phrases. Oh, [FOLLOW] THE BOUNCING BALL was nice, too. All in all, a solid example of this theme type, with little in the way of either difficulty or cruddiness.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Sing-along direction (THE BOUNCING BALL)
  • 23A: Obey (ORDERS)
  • 29A: Children's game (THE LEADER)
  • 40A: Chase scene shout ("THAT CAR!")
  • 47A: Pursue a passion (ONE'S HEART)
  • 62A: Do as a mentor did, say (IN ONE'S FOOTSTEPS) — this doesn't feel like it was clued correctly, esp. following 47A, where "ONE'S" is understood as "one's own"; here, the gist of "ONE'S" seems to be "someone else's." Awkward.

There were a couple of speedbumps that kept this from being a real speedfest. OSSIA was today's superstumper. I also forgot that ARMY was the Team nicknamed the Black Knights, and didn't know that the JAGUAR was a Figure of many a Mayan deity. Didn't know Krugerrands came in KARATs (58A: One of 22 in a Krugerrand). Hesitated over AGE GROUP for a bit (39D: Demographic division). Otherwise, no sweat.

  • 69A: Longtime mall chain (GAP) — When did GAP lose the "THE?" I don't think of the GAP as a "mall chain," and yet I've never been in one that wasn't in a mall. So clearly I don't really Think about GAP that much. Probably OK.
  • 8D: Singer whose "name" was once a symbol (PRINCE) — Quotation marks struck me as odd at first—weird to put "name" in quotation marks. "PRINCE" is, in fact, a name, whether it's his birth name or not (it is). But I see that what's being quotationated is the idea that a symbol could properly be considered a name. OK.

  • 10D: Dyne-centimeter (ERG) — good ol' ERG. Don't see him around much anymore.
  • 19A: Netanyahu's successor, 1999 (BARAK) — his first name, EHUD, is also crossworthy.
  • 51D: Richard with a much-used thumb (ROEPER) — Ebert's longtime movie-rating partner. That's how he was using his thumb: putting it up, or putting it down. Whatever dirty ideas *you* had about how he was "using" his thumb, you can put them out of your mind right now.
Happy first day of middle school to my daughter. Also, happy "2nd puzzle published in the L.A. Times" day to me (click here to download .pdf).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


foodie 12:13 AM  

Rex,congratulations on your daugher's middle school start and on your puzzle!

I agree with everything you said. Easy to figure out the theme, LOVED "FOLLOW THAT CAR" and had the very same objection about IN ONE'S FOOTSTEPS.

I actually did get to say to a NY cabbie once : Follow that Car, and greatly enjoyed saying it. But, alas, no chase was involved.

All in all, a nice midweek puzzle. Friendly, which is a relief from the start of the term, which bangs you over the head with its intensity.

syndy 12:15 AM  

If the Kruggerands were 24 karat they would be too soft to circulate!Iwanted to follow my dream and HIS footsteps but I got the theme on bouncing ball and chuced in my answers with no cross-thats what I get!I liked yesterday"s clue for ROE in the LAT better.

The New Girl 12:18 AM  

Nice little puzzle. Had one writeover with SPAYS instead of GELDS. A little awkward cluing here and there. Still not catching how 23a Obey = ORDERS. Maybe it will hit me right after I post this. And 80a APRILS feels a little weird. Otherwise an enjoyable solve. Just the right amount of ZING. 

Aha figured it out now. ORDERS was one of the theme answers. Slipped by me because it was so short. 

Happy Wednesday and grats on the puzzle Rex!

Gill I. P. 12:21 AM  

Oh my gosh... Does any one remember "Sing Along With Mitch Miller" and his bouncing ball?
His program was one of my first introductions to American T.V.!!
Says a lot about my up-bringing.
My favorite:
There's a yellow rose in Texas that I am going to see,
Nobody else could miss her, not half as much as me....
I really enjoyed this Wed. A few too many sports clues. I'm ok with soccer and golf and some basketball, but the rest leave me in the dust. These were all gettable though.
Like @Rex, I had trouble with Ossia. Had newbie instead of ROOKIE.
Good, fun puzzle Mr. Hilger. No UGLY TWISTY in the bunch.

PurpleGuy 12:34 AM  

Blogger ate my comment, and I stupidly didn't save because it had my name. Damn!!!!!!

@Gill I. P.- yes I remember, and have some of the LPs.We always watched the show as a family.

Thank you @Rex for the WOTD. I am a singer(cantor in church) and a trained musician and have never seen or encountered OSSIA before.

I got the theme right at the first theme clue. It helped me to get the others and breeze through the puzzle. Totally loved the solve, and had a lot of fun. No speedbumps.
This seemed more like a Tuesday to me.

Thank you Jim Hilger for a fun solving experience, and a really fine puzzle.

Thank you @Rex for great writeup and many smiles and an occasional laugh. I needed it. Especially with the potholes I have been facing recently. I may not always comment, but I'm always here in spirit.

Happy Wednesday all. Let's all get over this hump together.

Shanti -
Robert Joseph Cain(Bob)/PurpleGuy

captcha: cringl-Santa's evil brother

retired_chemist 12:46 AM  

Liked it. Got the theme before seeing 54A, so I used it to help solve (a rarity for me). Hand up for SPAYS(53A) and for not seeing ORDERS (23A) as part of the theme.

My six-Oscar winner was Frank ZAPPA at first. After reading his Wikipedia entry, I think he was awarded (in Monty Python parlance) nearly one.

SNAP ON (5A) and AREA CODE (39D) kept me humble today.

Thanks, Mr., Hilger.

PK 1:06 AM  

Agree with all of the above, 'cept for 8D - Prince, which I still don't understand. I mean, I know who Prince is, but I don't understand why his "name" is in quotations or was once a symbol. Symbol of what?

numcy - silly person who doesn't understand 8D?

CoffeeLvr 2:01 AM  

When I finished this puzzle about four hours ago, I was really annoyed at having ONES in two theme answers, especially since 62A is awkwardly put. Now, I don't care. Fun puzzle anyway, with CHARADES, sing-a-longs, and FOLLOW THE LEADER.

Nice to hear from you @PurpleGuy. Glad you are hanging in there, despite the potholes.

anton karat michaels 2:18 AM  

@PK google Prince and the thingy that was his "name" at one point.

Wanted EGG twice! Once for 20A ROE and once for 37A OVA. I must be hungry.

I start at 1A and didn't get ANY fill until ANTON. But that was enough.

Sadly, I saw FOLLOW when I went to the blog to see later comments at 9pm PST and rex had already posted his new column and the word FOLLOW jumped out at me before I could scroll down quickly enough
(I responded to GLR's question about why have the TIME theme yesterday if you are out there and still curious)
There is no way not to have Rex post before 10pm PST bec that is already 1 am for him. I have to be more careful but it did spoil the theme for me, so it's hard for me to gauge.

Nice little Zs, J, Xs, Ks sprinkled
throughout. Tho no close! :)

ORDERS was abrupt, but it balances the reveal FOLLOW. That's why there is a short one for the four longies...well done!

And it was subtle that two were THE... and two were ONES...
Oh wow, THAT CAR across the middle!
WOW, that's SEVEN theme answers and look how smooth the grid is!
A perfect Wednesday, even tho none of the words totally jump out at me.

It is interesting that Israel had Ehud BARAK and we have BARAK Obama. Wait, is it BARACK? Wow, suddenly I honestly don't know how the president spells his name...and how many times have I seen it???

Surprised Will didn't go with ROZ Chast, New Yorker cartoonist for 32D considering she is a huge crossword fan and read a funny piece at the ACPT.

For some weird reason I took UGLY HAG personally! Time for some Stuart Smalley self-affirmations!

Congrats to Rex on Wed LA Times which I will now run off and do.

Check out PuzzleGirl's LA Confidential blog about it (boy, she has her hands full with having to blog both mine on Monday and Rex on Wed and then facing us both at Patrick's wedding next weekend!)
There is also a second tiny LA Times blog called CC's Corner which I was unaware of till I got a Google alert last night. It doesn't seem to appear in Rex's sidebar of other crossword blogs.
But in response to my puzzle yesterday it had 60 commenters ALL of whom start out with "Good morning, everyone!" or the equivalent!!!
QUITE the civil crowd!
So after you do Rex's puzzle you can comment on LA Crossword Confidential, Orange's Crossword Fiend website AND the CC corner as well as here!

lit.doc 5:23 AM  

@Rex, contrat’s on the LAT puzz! Good, solid fun. The [spoiler] theme was an enjoyable change from the usual [spoiler]. Especially liked the [spoiler]ly appropriate Chaucer allusion. Gotta say, though, 39A NATICK crossing [spoiler] was a bit over the top.

Oh yeah, the NYT puzzle was OK too, though I think I’ve done another missing-word puzzle in the last 24 hours (still catching up from retiring, packing up, selling house, moving, redecorating, unpacking, et yada, so the puzzle may have been pub’d several weeks ago).

And me too for SPAYS before GELDS. Fingernails-on-the-blackboard words both.

Anonymous 5:38 AM  

Sorry for being nit-picking... Karat is a unit of purity (24 karats being 100% pure gold in this case). On the other hand, carat is a unit of weight, as in a 2 carat diamond. "one of 22" sounds odd here.
From Bangna/Bangkok

exaudio 7:33 AM  

Would have been a breeze except for the southwest corner, where I went to the wrong go-to four-letter singer (ANKA instead of ENYA). Some day I will go to YouTube and familiarize myself with this Enya.

"Follow the Bouncing Ball" with Mitch Miller is one of my earliest childhood TV memories--probably very early 60's.

dk 8:02 AM  

Stuck in my head was demographics referred to a map. After 10 minutes the gray cells kicked in. I should have had two cuppas before puzzling.

Smooth solve with an easy theme as our puzzle master noted.

*** (3 Stars) Now for another cup.

Glimmerglass 8:14 AM  

@PK: Prince for a while used a complicated symbol as his name, during which time he was "the performer formerly known as Prince." Sorry I can't reproduce it here, but you can Google it, I'm sure. My experience was exactly the same as Rex's, except that I first wrote USMA instead of ARMY

Z 8:17 AM  

A little crunchy for me, mostly because I didn't grok the theme for quite a bit. So I was casting about for a fair while and have quite a few write-overs. My oxygen started out in a TaNk. My knights were in the navY for about three seconds. My ROE was Raw. Rather than follow ORDERS I prefer that middle school students just comply. Most bands I follow ride around in a bus, being popular enough to afford more than a VAN. Looking at this mess gets me Rile-d up.

Somewhere in there (fixing ORDERS I think) I finally got the theme and everything became easier. Did finish with OStIA/tHRED, which led to the forehead slap the minute I came here and saw the WOTD.

So, Rex, middle school is a new adventure. Good Luck.
My last starts 10th grade today and none of us (the three boys, mom, or me) miss middle school.

Z 8:19 AM  

@exaudio - If it is vaguely Gaian sounding ("winter" today) it is ENYA. Otherwise go with Anka.

joho 8:24 AM  

@anton karat michaels ... yesterday was just a "Q" short, too. If tomorrow's puzzle follows suit, this week sports a mini Qless theme.

I found this smooth and pretty easy for a Wednesday. Only two writeovers at SHarD before SHRED and, very briefly, bus before VAN.

Very nice, Jim Hilger!

And, congratulations, @Rex, on your LA Times puzzle ... I'll do that a little later today.

joho 8:25 AM  

Oh, and anton karat ... your UGLY HAG comment is hilarious!

Tinbeni 8:28 AM  

Rex: Congrats on your LAT.
A FUN solve, with the greatest "The Simpsons" clue ever!

ACME: Your Monday LAT was FUN, too!

PurpleGuy: I'm still toasting everyone at Sunset.

SethG 8:34 AM  

I basically had THE BOUNCING BALL in place before I ever saw the clue, so discovering that FOLLOW was missing was not so much a discovery as a notice. OSSIA, JAGUAR, and ONE'S footsteps were the only minor hurdles.

Now that it's not an arena, can we start cluing ARCO with the gas company now? Unless it's not that anymore either, in which case maybe it's time to let it go before we start cluing it with the Associateship Diploma of the Royal College of Organists.

exaudio 8:38 AM  

@Z--thanks for the tip, I'll try to remember.

Matthew G. 8:52 AM  

Pretty much everything Rex wrote went through my head today as I was solving. I had couple of letters in THE BOUNCING BALL and immediately grokked the theme, filling in the rest of the long across theme entries right away. The only thing that slowed me down at all was (not having bothered to look at the clue for the reveal), ironically, not realizing that a couple of short acrosses were also part of the theme. Anyhow, set a personal Wednesday best today.

So I agree with Rex that the theme was "almost too easy" -- When you realize instantly that all you have to do is imagine the word FOLLOW in there, it goes by a bit fast for a Wednesday. Still, I really liked this puzzle, which Had almost no bad entries and good lively clues.

Jim 8:52 AM  

Only OSSIA I've ever encountered is in some of Franz Liszt's piano music. The reason seemed to have been to offer the pianist a slight respite from the transcendent cirtuosity required throughout the rest of the piece. Specifically, in the middle section of the Mephisto Waltz.

Surprised and delighted I got it with no crosses--though I entertained the possibility of OStIA momentarily. I think that's bone-related, though.

jesser 8:56 AM  

I remember Mitch Miller as a creepy looking guy who, if you'd put horns on his head, would have been a dead ringer for Satan himself. I am assuming the horns were retractable and he hid the trident and the tail in his suit somewhere. I had nightmares as a child about that beady-eyed man staring at me from the TV and exhorting me to 'FOLLOW THE BOUNCING BALL.'

Only writeover was fIsh before ZING at 56D. Never even saw good ol' ERG until Rex pointed out that it was in there. Thanks, Rex!

I saw one of our state senators driving a JAGUAR the other day and thought that was a bit over the top. If I were a state legislator, I would not want that to be my image. I'd stick with the good ol' Jeep.

Congrats on the LA Times puzzle, Rex! Two days with Rexites in the LA times this week! Is that cool or what?

I believe I will sneak away from work now and procure a chorizo and egg burrito from the One-Stop Store on Valley Drive. Yummmmmmm.

David 9:01 AM  

@Rex, let me add my congrats in the LAT puzzle too! And also a thank you for the clips from U2 and Genesis, two of my fav bands growing up. I Will Follow and 11 0'Clock Tick-Tock from Under a Blood Red Sky were huge in getting me very much into U2 years ago.

Very easy today - started in the upper middle, got UNCING in seconds (though I quickly wrote over TANK for TENT), which gave me THEBOUNCINGBALL. After yesterday's comments about reveals occurring after the solve, including my own, I looked for a reveal clue, found it, and FOLLOW followed.

Brian 9:04 AM  

Perfect example of how discovering a theme can help solve a puzzle instead of solving the puzzle and looking for the theme.

Really liked it. Clue for CHARADES was terrific.

I have a problem with the two ONES; a little icky, but in the end forgivable. Oh, and APRILS? Really?

But everything else was smooth and pleasurable.

Well done, Mr. Hilger!

John V 9:15 AM  

I've seen ossia from time to time in Verdi or Puccini scores, offering respite to the top voices.

Today's rating 21 miles; started at Cos Cob, finished at Fordham, abt 18 minutes, an okay time on a rattling train for this non-speed solver.No problems at all anywhere.

There is hope for the world, knowing that I can have a go at Rex's puzzle tonight. Congrats!

I do not understand the answer to 50D, OLDEST for Guinness Superlative. Someone?

Methesula 9:22 AM  

@John V - Think Guinness Book of Records and the World's Oldest Man.

chefbea 9:28 AM  

Fun easy puzzle. Got the theme right away. Loved the charade clue!!!

Now to print out LA times puzzle.

Oh...Good to see you Tinbeni. Guess I'll see you later after I do Rex's puzzle

John V 9:33 AM  

@Methesula: Thanks. Was thinking Scotland/Ale.

Tobias Duncan 9:38 AM  

When Prince used the symbol for his "name" it had no pronunciation and could not be spoken so it was not really much of a "name" at all.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:46 AM  

This puzzle put me in mind of The Fantasticks.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

I'm surprised that no other old-timers mentioned that bouncing ball sing-alongs predate Mitch Miller and TV. I saw these in movie theatres.

JC66 10:05 AM  

FOLLOW THE BOUNCING BALL takes me back to my youth in the late 40's/early 50's when we kids would spend 4 hours every Saturday afternoon at the movies. They'd show 8-10 cartoons, 3 or four shorts (The 3 Stooges,etc.) and 3 feature films. In order to keep up the supply, the quality suffered. But we ate it all up (along with the popcorn and Goobers). Here's a typical example.

JC66 10:06 AM  

@ Anonymous

Typing while you were posting.

Elaine2 10:09 AM  

Just did Rex's LA Times puzzle -- good theme, good fill -- quite enjoyable.

Thanks, Rex!

Sparky 10:13 AM  

Started slowly getting words first at the bottom. Got FOLLOW from downs and then flew along filling in the themes. True, almost don't need the clue once you know the first word.

Muses before FATES, aNYA before ENYA. Bus before VAN. Do you really stir a cauldron with an OAR? Had aged HAG and like @acme, took the result personally.

Welcome back @Tinbini. Slainte. Glad you are managing okay @Purple Guy. I'm going to print out the LA Times now, Thanks Rex.

jackj 10:13 AM  

Four instructions to perform acts, joined with two not so specific homilies, all needing the implicit "follow" to put the phrases "in the language", make for a fun, if easy Wednesday puzzle.

Most confusing bit in the puzzle comes when one is told to "(follow) ONESHEART" but then comes up against the fearsome GELDS (eeew!) two clues later. (Does (follow) THEBOUNCINGBALL figure in here, somehow, Jim)?

No matter; kudos, Jim Hilger, to which you have already told us you'll reply, "ITRY".

Sparky 10:18 AM  

P.S.: Yes @JCC and Anon 10:03. Oh, those Saturdays at the RKO Shore Road. And now with Thomas the Tank Engine. Dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum.

slypett 10:22 AM  

Oh, when I cross the STYX
Will Charon play his tricks?
Or will I just go
Like the white-haired snow?
--Old English ballad

imsdave 10:36 AM  

Thank you BobK - wonderful stuff there. Nice puzzle and write-up. My daughter is FOLLOWing her HEART this weekend with a wedding in southern CT. Hopefully, the (amazingly expensive) TENTs will be extraneous.

quilter1 10:39 AM  

Same joys and complaints as everyone else. Got the theme with follow THE BOUNCING BALL. Our whole family sang along with Mitch, but I remember it vaguely from the movies, too.

Now to do Rex's puzzle.

Welcome back, Tinbeni. I missed your toasts.

Happy birthday to my beautiful, accomplished and smart daughter. How did you get to be 44 when I'm still 19? (in my heart)

Two Ponies 10:45 AM  

Very easy until I screeched to ahjalt in the SE. I couldn't get past thinking about beer for 50D and had no idea who this Richard guy was. A famous hitchhiker? Some nursery rhyme guy who pulled out a plum? I was really lost.
@ Tinbeni, Welcome back. Weren't you somewhere far away like the Middle East?
@ jesser, Mitch Miller creeped me out too. Also, even as a small child I couldn't believe anyone would be so uncool as to sing along with their TV set!

Gill I. P. 10:52 AM  

Just did senor @Rex's puzzle. What fun and such a treat to have ACME's on Monday and Rex today. More please!!!
@jesser. I'm still chortling... Yes! I knew there was something creepy but utterly fun about Mitch Miller and his "all smiles."
@JC66.I wish we had those utterly nonsensical days back. I loved goobers and yellow corn not to mention the introduction of the Three Stooges - my childhood idols!

mac 10:56 AM  

Agree with Rex, including with the awkward clue for in ones footsteps. Enjoyed the solve a lot, though, especially since I got "follow" early on.

We (including our then 10 year old son) were once in a taxi in Paris. When a courrier hit the taxi and kept on going, the taxi driver sped after him. Our son so enjoyed saying "Follow that car"!

On to the LAT.

Mel Ott 11:21 AM  

@Anon 10:03 & @JC66 & @Sparky: You all beat this old crock to it. Yes, THE BOUNCING BALL was already a nostalgic throwback to the selected shorts in movie houses when Mitch Miller used it.

M07S 11:30 AM  

About @Rex's LAT opus...a puzzle within a puzzle...I don't see his name on this. Is Michael Sharp a nom de plume or did I download the wrong puzzle?

Daffy Duck 11:32 AM  

@M07S - It's the other way around, Rex Parker is the nom de plume.

captcha: recluth - How I pronounce recluse

joho 11:36 AM  

@M07S ... Michael Sharp IS Rex Parker!

Speaking of whom: loved your puzzle, Michael! Entertaining, fresh, humorous and fun!

JaxInL.A. 11:56 AM  

My only hang up with this puzzle was pausing to consider whether the very politically incorrect UGLY HAG could really be the answer. Any Wicca practitioners out there? Since I played on in that Scottish play years ago, I have mixed feelings.

I picked a helluva week to try and spend less time on crossword puzzles and related blogs. I mean, c'mon, good puzzles here, Rex AND Andrea at the LAT, reappearance of old friends (hi, Bob, Tinbeni), plus many momentous events (weddings, birthdays, first-day-of-school days, I'm sure there are a few anniversaries in there if we wait...).

My daughter started high school three weeks ago, and is running for 9th grade senator. Today is picture day already! Feels rushed.

Best wishes to @imsdave's daughter this weekend, and to Patrick and Rebecca, and safe travels to all attending. Happy bday to @quilter1's daughter, and to my friend Joyce whose real birthday on Saturday was commandeered, never to be returned, ten years ago.

Will have to do the LAT after work. Sounds fun. Do check out PuzzleGirl's Crossword Confidential blog. Likely to be fun today with Rex's puzzle.

efrex 12:06 PM  

Finished pretty quickly. Got the "Follow" and went theme-hunting. Couldn't figure out OLDEST for a while (was trying to think of an Irish word), and didn't know many of the proper names (ROZ, ROEPER, TIA, STAHL), but all worked out eventually.

Like @Sparky, had MUSES and BUS before FATES and VAN; otherwise, pretty smooth sailing.

miriam b 12:07 PM  

Oh, @jesser, you made me literally salivate with the mention of that burrito. Would that I could get chorizo here in the NE. I mean the crude kind with salivary and lymph glands among the dubious ingredients. I'm close to vegetarianism, but occasionally I make a really egregious exception.

It's been many decades since I lived in Albuquerque. In those days, a trip to Ciudad Juarez was a fun excursion. And I wonder whether anyone still goes to Las Palomas to buy cheap booze.

As to the puzzle - nice job, quickly solved before the coffee was drunk and before the polydactyl cat sitting on my lap had gotten really comfortable and started nipping my elbow, as is her wont.

First gimme was ANTON. I thought initially that ORDERS didn't jibe with "Obey"; that the clue ahould have read "Obey--". I soon saw the error of my ways and sailed through.

I have so much to accomplish today. I note that the length of my posts is directly proportional to the degree of dread I feel vis à vis the To Do list Avoidance R Us.

PuzzleNut 12:08 PM  

Usually do both the NYT and LAT over coffee. Ninety percent of the time the NYT is clearly the better puzzle. Today, both puzzles were very good and I'm sorry I didn't notice the byline for the LAT.
I don't always agree with Rex's comments (ie, this past Sunday), but am pleased to see the quality of his puzzles matches the standards he sets for others.

Lewis 12:39 PM  

@rex -- fun LA puzzle, and I loved your clue for 58A. I've never seen that before. If you made that up, very clever!

As for this puzzle, felt easier than a typical Wednesday, or am I getting better?

Noam D. Elkies 12:45 PM  

Nice puzzle and write-up; what will FOLLOW tomorrow?

A small gasp on seeing 15A:TERROR in the puzzle so near to the tenth anniversary of 9/11. At least it was clued innocently.

33A:OSSIA I knew, and have even used in my own scores on occasion. 51D:ROEPER, on the other hand... The only film critics whose names I knew were S&E. I see on xwordinfo that Byron Walden managed to put both ROEPER and EBERT in a diagramless 5+ years ago (with an unrelated theme), and a year later a John Farmer crossword nicely clued ROEPER as "Critic with an opposable thumb?"


P.S. Congrats too to Rex on his own puzzle publication today.

jberg 12:46 PM  

I, too, didn't realize that ORDERS was a theme answer - now I see that it's symmetrical with the revealer, so that makes more sense.

I'm posting late today, and everything has been said already. I did find myself wondering if a mass sing-along would work in movie theaters today. It might be just what we need to pull the country together!

You can avoid spoilers by going to -- that gives you a list of all Rex's blogs to date, so you can open only the one you want.

Rube 1:16 PM  

Late posting today, and agree with the others. This is one of the few puzzles I've seen discussed here where no-one is negative.

Had the usual write-overs: VAN/bus, SOB/cry, TENT/TaNk, as well as USEON/aSkOf. Was also confused about the PRINCE "name", and had to guess the S in STAHL to complete my WOTD, OSSIA.

Good puzzle. On to the LAT.

Andy 1:19 PM  

OSSIA is almost too obscure for a Saturday. 25 years in music and I've never encountered it. Ever.

Chip Hilton 1:54 PM  

OSSIA was my biggest hurdle, too. The Guinness clue stumped me. It's interesting how the Book of World Records no longer clicks in as it once did. All I saw was beer.

I decided to go after the key clue first and once FOLLOW fell, this was a Monday-like breeze.

Congrats on the LA puzzle, Rex, and on your daughter's move into that dreaded school stage. I taught on the elementary level and a bit in a middle school. The change in kids from late fifth to sixth grade is often startling. Just (do your best to) keep the lines of communication open.

M07S 1:57 PM  

@Daffy Duck and @ joho...Thanks. I had the feeling that Rex Parker might actually be the nom de plume. Now I have the feeling that the Rex Parker moniker is based on some bit of cleverness that I should be able to suss out. I'll have to mull that over.

archaeoprof 2:07 PM  

Agree with today's widely-held appreciation for this puzzle.

Too young for Mitch Miller. But Lawrence Welk reruns totally weird me out.

John V 2:26 PM  

@Chip Hilton, right there with you with the Guinness beer.

quilter1 3:01 PM  

Enjoyed the LAT puzzle, as others have said, fresh, funny and fun to do. Thanks RP.

Hungry Mother 3:03 PM  

Loved the LA Times puzzle today; didn't realize it was yours then. This NY Times puzzle was blah.

GLR 3:08 PM  

@rex – in the London Underground, you mind THE gap; in an American mall, you shop at Gap; and on the NYSE, you can buy a share of Gap, Inc.

@acme – thanks for your response to my question about themes (I wouldn’t have seen it, if not for your note today). I can certainly appreciate the fun in “word play,” and the fact that “time” fits before each of the words in yesterday’s theme answers is “interesting” (I wouldn’t go as far as “exciting,” but to each her/his own). I guess the impetus for my question yesterday was that the solver didn’t really need to give any thought to the theme in order to finish the puzzle (which was my experience), so then the theme just seems a little extraneous. If you take away the second part of the reveal clue, you have a decent, if not particularly challenging themeless puzzle.

The word play in today’s theme is, to my way of thinking, less “interesting” than yesterday’s, but I needed to “get” the theme in order to make sense of the theme answers – so, even though it’s less interesting, I could see a clear “purpose” for the theme today. Maybe I’d be happier if I went looking for a reveal clue earlier on – I tend to solve from top to bottom, and the reveals seem to show up toward the bottom of the puzzle. If I’d seen the reveal sooner yesterday, maybe I’d have been entertained as I found that my answers to the theme clues “fit.”

skua76 3:29 PM  

Wow, 2 good puzzles today with lots of positive comments. I too am positive. I did wonder about OSSIA although it is easily gettable from crosses. I've seen them in scores, but not explicitly labeled "OSSIA" so I didn't know what they were.

sanfranman59 3:40 PM  

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

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

Wed 12:16, 11:51, 1.04, 62%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:18, 5:51, 1.08, 74%, Medium-Challenging

Like David @ 9:01am, I appreciated the U2 and Genesis videos. I became a huge Genesis fan during my college days in the late-70s/early-80s. The very early U2 video was a real treat. I would have never identified The Edge outside the context.

cackler1977 5:01 PM  

@To all those who commented on the Guinness clue sending them in search of Irish/Celtic superlatives or thirsting after a dry stout:

The Guinness World Records, known till 2000 as The Guinness Book of [World] Records was created by a manager of Guinness Breweries: The stout came first, even though it was only in the last couple of decades that we Americans began drinking Guinness enough to associate the name with beer, instead of a book of records.

captcha: aninoi -- have no clue, but love the string of letters together.

Z 5:26 PM  

@GLR - To quote one Declan MacManus; "What shall we do, what shall we do with all this useless beauty?
All this useless beauty"

fergus 5:59 PM  

Dry as dust I thought upon hide-bound duty of Wednesday completion.

fergus 6:10 PM  

Now looking for something Sharp, though I'll allay my expectations.

Sfingi 7:05 PM  

Agree with practically everything Rex said. ONE'S in the last clue was the wrong voice. Didn't know JAGUAR, KARAT, OSSIA.
I still call it THE GAP, but I've never bought anything there. Is that a gap in my life?
All the kids wear Hollister, now, which is one of my family names from the Catskills. The company made it up.

But also had novice for ROOKIE, hEel for ZERO, spayS for GELDS. Can never remember AOKI. Also didn't know SORT in spreadsheet, or anything else in that program. That with ROEPER constituted a Natick for me. Last time I watched Ebert, he was with that other guy.
Anyone catch that young kid from Troy, NY, Jackson Murphy?

Today, the theme did help the solving, though, and the 1st 5 were good.

Great seeing the Sicilian, Frank CAPRA. I always remember he got a degree in chemical engineering and couldn't get a good job. For those youngsters who can't get appropriate work these days, greatness eventually emerges. He claimed it taught him how to think, so nothing is wasted.

Captcha - PHATUL - alternative spelling for some mishaps.

Stan 7:58 PM  

Easy is not a bad thing. This puzzle really crackled while it lasted.

OSSIA: Italian score notation meaning "Switch to the veal shank."

John V 7:58 PM  

@rex good job with the LAT puzzle. Nice for the train ride home!

sanfranman59 11:15 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:36, 6:51, 0.96, 35%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:05, 8:54, 0.91, 25%, Easy-Medium
Wed 12:36, 11:51, 1.06, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:45, 3:40, 1.02, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:35, 4:35, 1.00, 56%, Medium
Wed 6:07, 5:51, 1.05, 69%, Medium-Challenging

acme 11:58 PM  

Now that you put it that way, yes, I'd say it was more interesting for the constructor than the solver.
I think you are right...what is the point of the theme if it doesn't help you solve and it only serves to highlight the constructor's cleverness...hmmmm. Will give it lots more thought. But at the very least it keeps the constructor amused/excited/whatever and that should help to creating a nicer puzzle. Same even for themeless...the joy might be that the constructor got some crazy-ass new word in there, and that's the sole impetus. How does that serve the solver? It doesn't.

I'm LOVING what @Z quoted! I shall research Declan MacManus and maybe add it to my website!

ps loved Rex's puzzle today in the LAT. Nice theme, cool words, lots of self-references. What more could I/one ask?

Bonus puzzle:
Now may I mention that there were two of the same words in the LAT and NYT today that were the exact same? And such a funny little three letter word at that!

andrea costello michaels 12:08 AM  

AHA, no wonder Declan's name sounded vaguely familiar!!!!!!
You would have appreciated at Beatles karaoke Monday night one gal did an inspired Elvis Costello doing one of the songs (now I forget which) EVERY verbal and physical twitch. It was inspired!

When I first started seeing Hollister sweatshirts everywhere I thought how odd there were so many kids up in the Big City wearing their hometown shirts, as Hollister is a small sort of rural hick town somewhere near Modesto or somewhere (I mean, their team nickname is HayBaler!)
ANd I remember reading that they sued Abercrombie & Fitch for copyright infringement...
WELL, I had that totally backwards!
A & F, acting as HCO (Hollister Co) which has a totally fictitious "backstory" about a guy and his surf shop, etc. sued THE TOWN when folks tried to append the name Hollister to their own local businesses! BULLIES! Corporate bullshit! Naming gone bad!!!!
(They also have a mandatory dress code, etc. Read all about it by googling their wikipedia entry) ICK! Worse than (the) GAP!

miriam b 1:03 AM  

@andrea et al: Back in the '70's or '80's a nearby house was on the market. A family who came to check it out decided that it would be appropriate to interview the neighbors, which was exactly what they did, in a most overbearing and patronizing manner. We tacitly agreed to make as bad an impression as possible, because we just couldn't take their arrogance, and of course they retreated in horror, possibly after I characterized our group as a "loosely organized pagan tribe" - or something along those lines..

Why is this relevant? Well, when they introduced themselves, they told us that some relative of theirs had written the Happy Hollister series of books.

JaxInL.A. 10:44 AM  

Loved the LAT puzzle. A nice Weds. Thanks.

Dirigonzo 3:38 PM  

Back by popular demand (thank you, @Deb), more highlights from RPDTNYTCWP on this date 5 years ago:

- "Solving time: a soul-crushing 28:10 (not a typo)" This on a Thursday puzzle.
- "THEME: letters "TENT" crammed into a single square at five points in the puzzle." I guess the term "rebus" had not come into use as it does not appear anywhere in the write-up.
- "Oh, and I was pretty sure about 9D: Michael Jackson once pitched it (Pepsi) - the image of Michael getting set on fire during the filming of the Pepsi commercial was about all that kept my spirits up while I stared into the abyss that was the virtual entirety of this puzzle." Ouch
- "Before I get to puzzle, two things. First, the death of Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle yesterday was horrific and saddening. Like Lidle, I have a six-year-old, and it's not baseball, but Lidle's son, that I can't stop thinking about this morning. So a moratorium on Yankee-dissing for a while." RP's more sensitive side, which nicely balanced the previous remark.
- "50A: Study of the evolution of the universe (cosmism)

Nope, never heard of it. I barely believe in it. Gets 200K+ hits on a Google search. Compare "cosmology," which gets nearly 19 million, and "cosmetology," which gets 4.5 million and has the virtue of being a practical career choice." Early Rex gave more credence to "google hits" than current-day Rex does.
- There were 3 comments including one from @Orange, who I believe still shows up from time to time.

And now I'm off to do RP's LAT puzzle from 5 weeks ago.

Dirigonzo 5:08 PM  

I have finished RP's LAT puzzle (very nice - only "icky" fill I detected is at 60a) and it left me with an extreme sense of deja vu. Have we seen the answer at 61a, or something very similar, in about the same location in a recent NYT grid? Or maybe it's just another one of my hallucinations masquerading as reality - that's alway a possibility. Anybody?

Anonymous 9:19 PM  

Spacecraft here...odd that RP should grade this "medium,' yet the first three words he blogs are "Piece of cake." Though I finished with no help, there were some work-through spots.
First thing I do is scan the clue bank. If I see one that lists several other entries, like "17-, 23-, 29-, 40-, 47- and 62-across," I gravitate to that spot and try to get that key, so it wasn't long before I grokked FOLLOW, and that opened up the whole shebang. Still, though, there were tough spots that I could only get with crosses. 44d was a nut: USEON for "apply to."
Useless factoid dep't.: Tuesday's and Wedensday's grids were both a Q short of a pangram. Where's John deLancie when you need him?

ingecta: edible syringes?

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