Singer/songwriter Scialfa / SAT 9-17-11 / Cause for some spatial relationships

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Incredibly hard for a Monday, not so bad for a Saturday.

THEME: Words or phrases, mostly English, crossing other words and phrases in a square. Each word or phrase is separated from others by a black square. Clues are provided to assist the solver in determining which letters go in the white squares. Sometimes referred to as "none".

Word of the Day: AULANI — Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa is a beachside hotel, resort and vacation destination at the Ko Olina Resort & Marina near Kapolei on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Part of the Disney Vacation Club, it is the third Disney Vacation Club Resort located outside of a Disney theme park property. The resort opened on August 29, 2011. It is based on the Days Inn in Detroit, Michigan. (mostly Wikipedia, mostly true)

Yes, I know AULANI isn’t in today’s puzzle. This is better; you’ll thank me when it shows up. And to those who like to bet on the Word of the Day – too bad; I can’t condone gambling.

So Rex and all of the cool crossword people claim to be in St. Louis at Patrick Blindauer’s wedding this weekend leaving this Canadian accountant to sweep up the blog. I want proof – wedding guests, stop anagramming the maid of honour’s name long enough to take a picture or video of someone saying AULANI at the wedding. The first person to do so will get a fabulous prize from Rex. The fact that the wedding may have occurred before you read this just adds to the challenge.

If Brainiac comes down from outer space and shrinks St Louis and puts it in a bottle, I become the most important person in Crossworld. It could happen.

Who am I?
Just think of me as Andrew Carlton Michelle.

I can’t find the rule book, so today you’ll get: Seinfeld instead of Simpsons, a Broadway tune, sunny weather, smooth travel connections but no feisty dogs or cute daughters. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that. Oh, and mysterious formatting problems, questionable grammar and typos are guaranteed.

It is too bad Rex has been subjected to floods, missed flights and all sorts of plagues. You’d think by now he’d realize just how powerful Will Shortz is.

Random Question: In the lyrics to Neil Diamond’s “I Am, I Said”, you know, the song where the chair ignores him, he goes:

Did you ever read about a frog who dreamed of being a king
And then became one
Well except for the names and a few other changes
If you talk about me, the story's the same one

Except for the name and a few other changes? So the story is actually completely different. Am I right? I think I am (I said).

Theme answers:
There are no theme answers. Its a themeless puzzle. I said that already. Please pay attention.

Other stuff, like big words and tricky clues, all in a special boldface:

  • 1A. [Singer/songwriter Scialfa] - PATTI. The wife of the Boss, Bob Seger.

    14A. [Cause for some spatial relationships?] - ALIEN ABDUCTIONS. Something sleazy about that clue.
    17A. [Debut at the 1979 Frankfurt Auto Show] - VOLKSWAGEN JETTA. Random 15 letter cars are always handy.
    20A. [One with nothing to hide] - NUDIST/21A. [Wallop] - SOCK. If you got nothing to hide, what's with the sock?
    28A. [Show one's stamped hand, perhaps] - REENTER. In a world of lousy RE words, this is a good one.
    32A. [Can't take a bit] - HATES.
    No hating around here today. All sunshine and lollipops.
    33A. [Bear essentials?] - CLAWS. Hidden by the socks, no doubt.
    36A. [They're in the vicinity: Abbr.] - ESTS. This place is awash with estimates. Here an EST, there an EST, everywhere an EST, EST.
    37A. [Sartre's "Les Jeux Sont ___"] - FAITS. Hey, I said no gambling.
    40A. [Damn] - CURSE. No means no. Watch your mouth.
    41A. [Like 14-Across] - EERIE. I wanted to put SILLY.
    42A. [Tool handle strengthener] - FERRULE. It is a real word so no whining about it.
    44A. [Member of a very early union?] - SEX CELL. If you don't understand this, please google it. No wait, don't!
    46A. [Titan after whom one of the oceans is named] - ATLAS. The Pacific Ocean, of course.
    48A. [Silver checker] - REIN. The horse Silver, as in hi-ho, hi-ho, its off to work we go. Hmm. That sounds wrong. Tonto, how does it go?
    57A. [Suffered serious consequences] - PAID A STEEP PRICE. What will happen to me if I keep this up.
    60A. [Groups aiming for good returns] - INVESTMENT TEAMS. Yay, financial terms! Accountants rule!
    61A. [Smoking and heavy drinking] - AGERS. Saturday crossword solving is another example.
    63A. [They go with uppers] - SOLES. Shoes. Parts of shoes.
    3D. [One spending a long time in the bathroom?] - TILE SETTER. Wow. Never saw that coming. Clue of the day. "WIFE" was too short to fit.
    4D. [Drug in a sci-fi novel series] - TEK. Written by Montreal's William Shatner

    5D. [What swallows swallow] - INSECTS. Swallow are birds and they swallow insects. They don't swallow swallows. That would be gross.
    9D. [Memphis hospital, familiarly] - ST JUDES. I wasn't familiar.
    12D. [Some marching bands] - ANTS. Watch out for the swallows!
    16D. [It's shown on TV monitors at many airports] - CNN NEWS. Rex will elaborate.
    27D. [Alexandria is in it] - DC AREA. Not sure which part of DC; I'm guessing the Justice League.
    29D. [Coming down hard] - TORRENTIAL. Rex will elaborate.
    31D. [Spur part] - ROWEL. A rowel is a part of a spur.
    40D. [Pirate's appurtenance] - CUTLASS. appurten-what?
    41D. [Grandfathers, e.g.] - EXEMPTS. Not a noun here. You were fooled.
    47D. ["The primary factor in a successful attack," per Lord Mountbatten] - SPEED. Don't try to pretty it up with fancy quotes; the answer is just SPEED.
    49D. [Capital near Faleolo International Airport] - APIA. Got me. I put OSLO. I always put OSLO.
    55D. [Lofty place] - ACME. Shout out to Andrea!
    58D. ["I think you overshared," briefly] - TMI. We're back at the sock and the bathroom.
    59D. [Locomobile competitor] - REO. That locomobile was one crazy vehicle.

  • 72 words, nothing yucky, cool clues, sex, nudity, Montrealers, bathroom humour, and rock and roll. Just one smooth solve. What more can you ask on a Saturday?

    Thanks for reading all the way to the end. Please tip the blogger on your way out.

Signed, Jeffrey, Usurper of Crossworld


Anonymous 12:19 AM  

CNNNEWS is cool, but didn't really like the rest of the puzzle all that much. Where are the marquee answers? The 15s range from good to OK. The next-longest answers are fine. No stunners. Nothing super fresh. Not sure what separates this one from the many standard themelesses that get rejected every month.

retired_chemist 12:24 AM  

Great puzzle but an even better writeup. Jeffrey rules!

I got so lost I had to ask AL to reveal incorrect letters - I had twelve! One was a typo and the others - well, let's just say it was not my day.

We'll start with PET student (6A), and the consequent PDAS that suits hold. 8D says something about balances, so, OK, a TIE (score) is somehow balanced. All this came from a reluctance to give up ALIEN ADDICTIONS (14A) which indeed sounds EERIE (41A).

PAPPI Scialfa sounded fine - I know nothing about her. I presume she has a PAPPI in any case. Along with 21A DECK and 36A ENVS (for ENVIRONS), I was led down the garden path to the decidedly non-breakfasty PILE DRIVER @ 3D. Those of you who have hemorrhoids will understand. Those who don't, count yourselves lucky.

The morass remaining in the Rocky Mountain area eventually got fixed once I knew which squares were wrong.

A great Saturday puzzle even if I couldn't solve it all the way. Thanks again to Messrs. Collins and Krasnick.

syndy 12:39 AM  

I wanted Clauses for 41 down instead oF EXEMPTS but hey,I was thinking in the right direction!ST JUDES was the kind of Gimmee where you don't know who gave it to you.CUTLASS broke open the bottom half for me just like a pomegranite-still a lot of work-not a bad thing in a puzzle.but I wish them germans would spell things right-I wonder to whom was Lord LOUIS making this pronouncement?Gandhi?(run little indians run)

lit.doc 12:54 AM  

The hardest thing for me to figure out was what to do after SEX.

Finally got it (I look forward to the “But it’s a chromosome union…” comments), and was able to finish sorting out that ferocious little center-east section. Still gotta work on my Saturday expectations, though; I resisted 30D ETAIL for ages, thinking the clue would have indicated the “inter” elision—‘net sales.

Typical number of late-week close-but-no-banana answers: 6A ESL/MED, 60A BANKS/TEAMS, 61A VICES/AGERS, 11D NAAN/ROTI, and 31D RIVET/ROWEL.

And, in a moment of existential musing, I imagined that 37A was “Gabriel’s ‘Les Jeux Sans _____’”. Ah, me.

Back after reading line one of the write-up (and paging to the end to see who penned that felicitous phrase). I finished this one in 51:44, and I’ve been able to finish damned few Saturday puzzles ever. Well put, Jeffrey, U of C!

BTW, @Jeffrey—buy low, sell high.

CoffeeLvr 2:01 AM  

Cheated my way through this like I do most Saturdays, that's okay. Learned a few things on the way.

I so wanted "Can't take a bit" to be equine related. Instead I get Silver's REIN.

@Jeffrey, thank you, so funny. I laughed til my eyes were wet.

jae 2:17 AM  

Pretty smooth Sat. Sex, aliens, nudists, what more could you want? Got off to slow start until I remembered PATTI. So, easier than yesterday's for me = Easy-Med. over all.

@lit.doc -- me too for VICES and NAAN, plus RISE for PAVE, PHD for MED, and KIEV (off of VICES) for APIA.

Nice snarky write up Jeffrey.

Yogeshvara 3:44 AM  

And I thought I'd be the first one out here.... Well seventh isn't so bad.... Easiest Saturday for me in ages. Of course under an hour is no record setter but it is good for my little ego. Thanks....

Jason 3:48 AM  

Faster than yesterday, thanks to INVESTMENT falling early. And EERIE got me ALIEN ABDUCTION when I only had a couple crosses along the top.

I stubbornly kept FOX NEWS in the grid until nearly the end since CNN NEWS just seems redundant. What else would you watch on CNN?

And I wanted [Celtic Rajon] to clue RONDO, but we got classical music over basketball.

Thanks for the write-up Jeffrey!

I skip M-W 4:11 AM  

Greatly enjoyed writeup.
Very easy compared with yesterday's, especially for a Saturday. But was it themeless? with Reo and Jetta and Cutlass, (an Oldsmobile, named after old Ransom, just like Reo, of course) . If a German in a jJetta kidnaps someone, isn't that an alien abuction? Especially if taken to a nudist sex cell. One can only hope a raider in a Cutlass can find him with an atlas and makes sure he has paid a steep price, too steep even for investment teams. Les jeux sont faits. A tilesetter cannot change the eerie outcome, which ends in a rondo, played on our soles.

Anonymous 5:22 AM  

ST. JUDE'S-- if you don't know of it, count yourself lucky. It's a children's hospital; families come there from pretty much all over with their kids. Danny Thomas was famously involved, raising funds and supporting this major research and treatment facility. Want to send a donation? You could contribute to worse causes, by a long shot!

Butt kicked by this puzzle--thought the car was a JEDDA, and that was just the start of my troubles. That East-Central area just wouldn't work. Pooh.

Jim 7:28 AM  

Hi everyone. Welcome, Jeffrey, and thanks for the guest log. A little jokey for my tastes, but I guess it is Saturday morning.

On to the puzzle: by a factor of two or three, easier than yesterday's. Very little trickery, outside a difficult (for most, I would assume) center-east section.

Part of the reason for that is EERIE is quite bullshit. The clue implies a REAL abduction, which would go well beyond EERIE, to downright scary, not to mention unprecedented, infinitesimally unlikely, and all the rest.

TILESETTER? Is that a thing? I mean, I know what they mean, but is that a title? Not very mellifluous.

EXEMPTS was excellent. Good word, great clue. Also CUTLASS and TORRENTIAL. FERRULE, however, took me a while. Started with aiRhosE and took several iterations to get there.

Solid, though eminently doable puzzle; a nice reprieve from yesterday's, ahem, challenge. Thanks Mr Collins.

JaxInL.A. 7:50 AM  

Hilarious write-up, Jeffrey. Come here often? Should I know you? What's your sign?

I'm so frustrated with this puzzle I could spit. I actually finished it with no help but, when I submit, the iPad NYT program says I have incorrect cells. But I have all the same letters as Jeffrey does. Urgh!

I learned about ROTI from my Trinidadian relatives. Huge Indian population in Trinidad. Delicious food.

submariner 7:52 AM  

Easy, thus boring.

Last fill was TMI. Clueless how that is related to the clue.

JaxInL.A. 7:55 AM  

Found it. Had VOLKSWAGoN/DUo. Hey, duos can be part of balances, right? Well, I finished a Saturday unaided with only one cell wrong, which is still an accomplishment for me. Just not as cool an accomplishment as I thought. And I publicly complained about it. I'll shut up now.

Sandy 8:02 AM  

3/4 easy, 1/4 SEXCELL?!? SEX blank and INVESTMENT blank (and surrounding areas) took me easily as long as all the rest of the puzzle combined. Good think I knew FERRULE (from xwords and Only from xwords).

Thought the top of this puzzle was very good.

Not Sandy

Glimmerglass 8:15 AM  

"Relationships" made me fall in love with ALIEN AttraCTIONS or maybe ALIEN AddiCTIONS (both of which are eerie). MBAS finally saved me. Great write up.

Orange 8:49 AM  

Jeffrey, the sock is for 50-Down. It's been chilly.

dk 8:55 AM  

Jeffery, whats a blogger like you doing in a nice place like this... @jaxinLA any idea why this line never works.. although I do get ALOT of SOCKs.

I found the ORATES and SEXCELL pairing close by NUDIST and REENTER to be a bit racy... I was hoisted by Smee's CUTLASS. Only got it when I started thinking about cars...

The puzzle. Found some of the fill to be strained (SEXCELL and INVESTMENTTEAMS for two) but the bad was offset by the great. TILESETTER (I wanted mysisters), ALIENABDUCTIONS and FERRULE are fine fill. I am so happy that I knew FERRULE I am awarding this puzzle:

*** (2+1 Stars)

Now the write-up:

0000 (4 PLUMs) MIlk is coming out of my nose.

Leslie 9:01 AM  

Loved Jeffrey's write-up; love everyone's responses!

I did better today than yesterday and last Saturday (DNF for each). Got FERRULE because I didn't know any other implement-related word that would fit there, but will definitely have to go look it up in the dictionary. For some reason, I have an image of teachers in the 1800s pointing to words with a ferrule, or caning a student with a ferrule, so I thought a ferrule was a pointer or baton type of thing.

joho 9:07 AM  

This seemed easy for a Saturday, but I'll take it!

Loved seeing PATTI clued solo without her husband for a change.

In my world a FERRULE is the bottom of a golf stick that fits into the hole.

Jeffrey your clever writeup added much needed humor to the puzzle! Are you Crosscan? I'm not sure about that, but you sure are entertaining.

@ACME in St. Louis, how is the wedding? @Not Sandy ... no comments or pics?

@I skip M-W said ... funny post!

Thank you, Peter Collins, for getting my Saturday morning off to a smooth start.

hazel 9:08 AM  

the best part of this solving experience was hearing from @crosscan.....

this one took me about the same time as yesterday's, but felt alot harder and not as tight. Some of the cluing/fill felt a bit forced to me too - ALIENABDUCTIONS, INVESTMENTTEAMS - two of the marquee answers fell flat for me, FERRULE was just irritating, and HATES is kind of a downer. nothing wrong with it per se blah blah blah i just don't like it.

thanks@dk i forgot about SEXCELL and ORATES - cluing there felt out of sync too. spellbinding?

regardless, the worst thing about this puzzle is knowing that tomorrow we won't be hearing from @Crosscan.

exaudio 9:09 AM  

Completed a Saturday sans Google the second time in my life! Woo hoo!

M07S 9:16 AM  

@submariner...TMI Too Much Information As an aside, most of these texting abbreviations stem from ham radio. It just took too long to tap out the entire phrase. With the decline of ham operators I thought these would disappear. Boy, was I wrong. KA3AMI

PS. I see ACME made the puzzle today. Hope she doesn't miss it with her busy weekend.

Excellent off-the-wall write up.

arlene 9:17 AM  

I got through the upper half pretty quickly - even got TORRENTIAL - but then I stalled. Considering that until recently, I would never even consider looking at a Saturday puzzle, I would say this is definitely progress! I have a few ways to finish a stalled puzzle - sometimes Googling, sometimes peeking electronically. But lately, I've been reading this blog, then going back to finish it on my own steam.

jackj 9:24 AM  

If this puzzle had been offered as a Friday, it likely would have been lionized as a super solve; instead it suffers the shrugs generated by being tagged as an easy Saturday. Peter, you just don't seem able to catch a break!

Right off the bat we had the special treat of VOLKSWAGENJETTA, an unlikely but inspired entry, which also contributed an "N" to the eye-popping triple run of "N's", which evolved into CNNNEWS and, with the "J", also made a tip of the hat to STJUDES possible. Great start.

Unfortunately, much of the rest of the puzzle seemed a bit pro forma, relying on entries such as INSECTS, MBAS, DCAREA and REIN (which has become an old chestnut after too many past references to the Lone Ranger's horse by other constructors).

On the plus side, EXEMPTS was a wonderful answer to "Grandfathers, e.g." and TAM, though a tad cutesy as "Lid around a loch", was still a charming, smile inducer.

All in all, a terrific Friday puzzle, Peter. Thanks.

jberg 9:28 AM  

I had to love ALIEN ABDUCTIONS sitting on top of VOLKSWAGEN JETTA - lots of great letters in there! So I enjoyed the puzzle, but DNF. The West stumped me - I had TILE workERS, then SEalERS, but somehow never thought of SETTERS - and for 26D, could only think of super, which didn't fit any possible crosses.

I too, wanted something equine, or maybe drill related, for 42A.

Wonderful writeup, thanks! Too jokey? I thought that was the idea (though I often don't notice Rex's jokes until a couple of days later).

PuzzleNut 9:51 AM  

Good puzzle! Great write-up!!
Had the same DUo problem as @Jax. Paused for a minute when I wrote in VOLKSWAGoN, thinking it might be an E, but still screwed up.

mac 9:58 AM  

Very funny write-up, Jeffrey, dauphin of crosswords!
How about "better half" for 3D? I actually like that word, tile setter, a little oldfashioned, like greengrocer.

I liked the puzzle, missed just one letter, the W in Rowel/draw. Learned something.

"Team" after investmet took a while, but acme saved the day, as usual. @hazel: ferrule irritating?? I think it's a beautiful word. Have to look up what it actually is.

Gill I. P. 10:06 AM  

Jeffrey: I re-read your post three times so that I wouldn't miss anything else to laugh about...
I started this puzzle late last night and only had 2 entries: ATE and CURSE.Came back later and words began falling into place. Aha, I got ALIENABDUCTIONS and thought I was on a ROTI roll. Why isn't it naam like it always is?
The ???? comes in handy today since 8D DUO still has me scratching my head. Also don't understand 32A [can't take a bit] HATES? And why do Suits (6D) often hold MBAS? huh....
Eventually finished but I did have to Google my usual quota on a Sat.
I'm going to go back to Neil Diamond and ponder his fetish with a chair and a frog.

JB 10:06 AM  

Jeffrey, that was fun! -- your write-up, not the puzzle; I'm an amateur; rarely can I get thru an entire Saturday puzzle, and this one was no exception. But the write-up was totally worth it.

Lindsay 10:14 AM  

I spent what seemed like most of 11th grade slogging through Les Jeux Sont FAITS, and still managed to spell it wrong (FAITe). Although I now see the "s" is necessary to make the sentence agree. Not a linguist, that's for sure.

Liked the unexpected VOLKSWAGEN JETTA. Me: late 70's. Cars. Yugo? DeLorean?

My furnace kicked on this morning. Oy.

lit.doc 10:22 AM  

@Orange, thanks for clarifying that point. LOL!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:30 AM  

Great write-up! LOL, truly!

I must be the only one with no grasp of French, since I consider the crossing of 37A, FAITS, and 34 D, LIS, a Foreign Language Natick. For some reason I continue to think of the flower/symbol as Fleur de Lys, which apparently is wrong. And the Sartre title was a total unknown to me. So I finished with one wrong letter, a Y instead of I.

Sarah 10:34 AM  

The fact that I did this in under 20 minutes suggests to to me that it really isn't Saturday quality (especially when yesterday's was so tough). It's always interesting to see what count as gimmes for different people: FERRULE was easy for me, since we're a big DIY household, but AGERS was my last fill in (I also had "vices." Mostly I felt like I was just chugging through this -- doable but not so enjoyable.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:34 AM  

Now that I get around to looking it up, my Merriam Webster's says both fleur-de-lis and fleur-de-lys are used in English.

hazel 10:41 AM  

@mac - its a tool handle strengthener. :~)

Norm 10:44 AM  

@Gill. 8D is DUE, not DUO. SUITS are businessmen/executives who generally have MBA degrees. If I CANT TAKE SOMETHING, then I probably HATE it. Cheers!

evil doug 10:59 AM  

"PS. I see ACME made the puzzle today. Hope she doesn't miss it with her busy weekend."

Miss her shout-out? You're kidding, right?

Shout-outs suck---and swallow.

Two Ponies 11:01 AM  

So much easier than yesterday's disaster. I was somewhat irritated at the double cross of French words right in the center but I figured it out.
Thanks for the funny write-up Crosscan. I don't remember you being that funny when you used to be a regular here. Well done.

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

As others have said, found this easier than Friday's puzzle - still, took a long time. Wanted NINEELEVENTURBO at 17A - until the J in STJUDES blocked that.

Agree on transportation theme - the car names, plus know ferrule as the part on a bicycle rim from which the spoke nipple protrudes.

Mel Ott 11:44 AM  

Great writeup.

Fairly easy Saturday altho PATTI/TEK was a bit of a Natick for me. PATSI and a few other variants would be plausible, and to me the drug in 4D could be just about any combination of letters.

I'm familiar with FERRULEs, having used them in building fishing rods. The FERRULE makes a kind of joint that allows you to break the rod in two or three places to facilitate carrying it around, storing, shipping, etc. Seems to me it makes a fishing rod weaker, the opposite of the clue in 42A. Is a FERRULE used differently in tool handles?

slypett 11:45 AM  

I knew that o was wrong. You know which one. Had example before EXEMPTS, leading to a major meeting of SEXCELLs in Florida.

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

Oh, sorry - mean to add that the write-up was a treat. Thanks.

chefbea 12:08 PM  

Thanks Jeffrey for a hilarious write-up!! Much better than the puzzle. DNF

Never heard of Roti except for meaning a french roast.

Shamik 12:18 PM  

Very funny write-up! Enjoyed it immensely and wish the newlyweds all the best.

Easy-medium at 18:34 for me and I liked the puzzle, although French is never a first choice for me to have fun with. Does anyone else dislike ORATES for is a spellbinder? I've heard more than my share of orators who were anything but spellbinding!

Good time for me this week considering the past few weeks of longer times and more mistakes. Stress will do that. Good to do a puzzle on the day it's published. Good to be able to post.

Stan 12:55 PM  

An enjoyable solve that rewarded plodding persistence (as opposed to flashes of insight). EXEMPTS and TORRRENTIAL were the best answers. My favorite clue: "Show one's stamped hand, perhaps."

Uppers, Vivarin, SPEED, Tek? This puzzle could cause SLEEPLESS NIGHTS.

I wish my accountant could be as funny as Jeffrey.

quilter1 12:59 PM  

Had naan before ROTI and INVESTMENTclubs first. DNF with one missing letter, the s in CASTE/ESTS. I was wanting cells in the HIVE, but it wouldn't fit. First thought of teenager for 3D. Oh, well, proud of getting all I did.

Off topic: I found no less than three misspellings/wrong usage on just the editorial page today. Where are the proofreaders? Then they want us to donate our papers to schools.

Happy birthday to my creative, brilliant son! Wishes for many years of happiness to Patrick and bride. Thanks to Jeffrey for a fun write-up.

Matthew G. 1:11 PM  

Easy in the top, bottom, and middle, but the left and right wings were very tough for me.

The only hard part outside those areas was the TEAMS in INVESTMENT TEAMS. I tried INVESTMENT BANKS and INVESTMENT FIRMS, but INVESTMENT TEAMS feels pretty made-up. Had TILE but couldn't get SETTER. Did not know that HIVES had CASTES ... I was trying to convince myself that "comb" (as in honeycomb) had an E at the end of it.

Don't like the clue on ATE. Put things away or washed things down, maybe, but I doubt anybody would ever say got things down for food.

Heard the word FERRULE before, but didn't know what it meant. Now I do. Never heard of a ROWEL at all.

Yeah, I'm a little grumpy because I didn't think this was as Saturday-easy as most of you. So it goes!

Gill I. P. 1:17 PM  

@norm: Mil gracias. I guess I didn't finish after all.
I know a MBA who's a Barista at Peets. He hasn't worn a suit in over two years and makes about $10.00 an hour...*not* a PLUM job.
@Evil: I like you better when you stick to quoting "Seinfeld."

Arundel 1:34 PM  

Great write-up, Jeffrey CrossCan. Make me laugh right from the top.

I never realized that Captain Kirk was from Montreal. I never realized that HIVES had CASTES, either, so I also tried to work in COMBES for 51A. And somehow I had the feeling that 49D was somehow related to them and not to some airport in Samoa!

Doing the puzzle is getting to be an exercise in hardihood in Maine. We've been sitting on the porch all summer, but the sun in the morning is now down behind the trees, and it was pretty chilly today! It can't be time to get out the long pants and shoes already...

Jim 1:40 PM  


I hear you, but of course they made no fewer than three mistakes--not less. And the copy editors go away when people poach news online for free. Thankfully at least they put up a pay wall, now.

oldactor 1:53 PM  

I for one have said, "I couldn't get a thing down" when I was sick and had no appitite.

Or worse, "I couldn't keep a thing down".

Johnny Vagabond 2:28 PM of the best write ups ever

archaeoprof 2:29 PM  

@Jeffrey: super write-up. And a clip from Les Miz!!

Naan/ROTI was a writover for me too.

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

Jim, is this grammar class or "gotcha"?

captcha: seyaw = southern goodbye

quilter1 3:27 PM  

It also would have helped me if I had entered CUTLASS at 40D instead of 37D.
@Jim: thank you for your support. These are errors that are not caught by spell check. I find mistakes in books all the time, too, even hardcover. >:(
I really enjoyed reading Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.

David 3:31 PM  

Medium Saturday for me, def. a bit easier than yesterday's beaut. Also had NAAN first before ROTI, and was just about sold on PDAS and ALIENADDICTIONS but PET student and TIE balances just wasn't flying, so I re-trenched and REENTERed DUE, my original answer, and finished with MED/MBAS.

I got "Les jeux sont FAITS" from a scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off when Mr. Rooney quoted that when he appeared to have captured Ferris at the arcade.

Two Ponies 3:55 PM  

A continuation from yesterday, feel free to skip over. After being shamed by not knowing Stegner I picked up "Angle of Repose" today. Then at lunch I noticed that my butter pat was made in New Ulm, MN. Before yesterday it probably would never have caught my eye. Carry on.

miriam b 4:01 PM  

I'm very busy today with more than the usual quota of nasty weekend chores, and am glad for two reasons that I took a break and checked in here. First of all, the hilarious writeup lifted my spirits; secondly, I discovered that one of my cats had been trapped inside a closet since this morning, at which time I looked inside it in search of something which I later found elsewhere. Fortunately the cat waited until I let her out to head for the litter pan (TMI).

Off to resume chores.
bingly = in the manner of a famous crooner

Ed C 4:27 PM  

Why is the clue for PLUM "choice job"? Shouldn't it just be "choice"? Seems out of sync to me.

The answer to "choice job" should be PLUMJOB.

CoffeeLvr 5:19 PM  

@MiriamB, my cat got pent up in the closet for 28 hours once while I made a quick out of town visit. She was a good girl, though.

As for FERRULE, the most common use I can think of is for the metal band which joins the rubber eraser to the wooden body of a common lead pencil. It also strengthens the pencil, which is actually made of two pieces of wood.

Sparky 5:25 PM  

Got ETE, OTO, ATE and TAM right away. The rest took a lot longer. Naan before ROTI, vices before AGERS. Then a few glitches WAGoN/DUo, changed MBAS for ALIENAdDiCTIONS.

Agree with @Shamik ORATORS not necessarily spellbinders. Had ORATEr anyway so never got SEXCELL. Had mind fixed on something Biblical. HTG PATTI.

Liked the jokeyness, Jeffrey. Thanks for the giggles. I'll tell my friend Leilani all about Aulani.

My, lots of naughtiness today. Even @Orange. Whoops my Dear!

ANON B 6:00 PM  

To Jeffrey:
You got me at the beginning with
the "Theme" which I couldn't
understand until the end when you said there was no theme.
Then in the comments everyone seemed to think it was a great
write-up. I kept wondering if they were reading the same one as I did.
I will probably get kicked out as
a commenter for the following, but
I don't care:
This was the worst writeup I have
ever read. If Jeffrey never comes back, it will be too soon.
Oh. I forgot. What was that garbage about Aulani? Goodbye!

sanfranman59 6:00 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 6:43, 6:51, 0.98, 47%, Medium
Tue 8:15, 8:54, 0.93, 32%, Easy-Medium
Wed 9:44, 11:50, 0.82, 13%, Easy
Thu 20:38, 19:17, 1.07, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 27:19, 25:49, 1.06, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 27:29, 30:12, 0.91, 28%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:41, 3:40, 1.01, 53%, Medium
Tue 4:21, 4:35, 1.00, 56%, Medium
Wed 4:36, 5:50, 0.79, 6%, Easy (7th lowest median solve time of 115 Wednesdays)
Thu 10:32, 9:24, 1.12, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 13:59, 12:46, 1.10, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 15:55, 17:14, 0.92, 37%, Easy-Medium

Anonymous 6:14 PM  


skua76 6:15 PM  

Oh my! Jeffrey, a GREAT writeup! Almost as good as the puzzle, which was fun, completed without errors or googling, unlike yesterday's disaster. Last to fall was the east central, I first tried to write in prEMPTS for 41D, then noticed it didn't fit so it sat there for awhile confusing me. I knew there was a crosswordese word like ROWEL but it took me most of the crosses to find it. Thanks...

captcha: stmarime -- patron saint of French sailors?

ANON B 6:24 PM  

@Anonymous at 6:14

I'm not having a bad enough day
so you have to leave me a cryptic
Thanks a lot!

Leslie 6:27 PM  

Anon B, why don't you just kick your own self out and save others the trouble?? What a grouchy, joyless, meanspirited post.

M07S 6:39 PM  

@two ponies I went to my library today to get a, nada. But lotsa books with little stickers that proclaimed they were christian inspired. "Dick" Perry would love it here.

Chip Hilton 6:46 PM  

I won't get involved in the War of the Anons. Instead, I'll just say: I loved my V...W...JETTA. Best trunk I ever had (it passed the 4 golfbag rule of acceptance). EXEMPTS really was well clued and the 15ers a good test. Thanks, P. Collins, for a perfect Saturday romp.

ANON B 6:59 PM  


I hardly ever comment anymore. I
just use Rex's column when I
can't solve the puzzle, usually
Fridays and Saturdays.
I spent quite a while trying to
understand his explanation of the
"theme" before giving up. I now
understand it. I wasn't expecting
By the way (or as you cuties
say,BTW)I have sent my contribution to Rex but as far as I'm concerned he can kick me out.

Jim 7:10 PM  


That did seem harsh and unreasonable.

To some, Rex offers a serious critique of the puzzle, with insight into both the solving and constructing experience. His humor comes as a byproduct of that.

This guy, today, obviously had a comic agenda from the beginning and some of us found it strained and, worse, distracting from that analysis we love so much in Rex.

Simply because a guy (he's probably a guy) was frustrated because he felt had by a yukk-ster filling in, well, I don't blame him. I actually finished the puzzle today, so my reading was more of a victory lap. For someone who didn't finish it, I bet it was quite maddening.

Anon B:

You can't be 'kicked out', at least not to my knowledge. Dissent, especially when it is well-phrased and thoughtful and/or funny is always appreciated, at least by me.

chefbea 8:03 PM  

@anonB...shame on you

reming= to ming again

Crosscan 8:34 PM  

Thanks for all your comments, positive or negative. We are just trying to have a little fun as we share our common enjoyment of the New York Times crossword puzzle. I glad many of you liked it, and respect those who were expecting something else. Rex will be back soon enough.

Thanks, Rex for the opportunity to take centre stage. Thanks to @Orange for loaning me out from my usual recurring gig on the site.

Mostly, thanks to Peter Collins and Will Shortz for brightening our Saturday.


lit.doc 8:37 PM  

This will not come as a revelation to most here, but, FWIW, there does exist a NYT crossword blog the mission of which is primarily informational:

@anonB, maybe borrow a sock from Orange. It should fit just fine.

Squeek 10:03 PM  

@ ANON B (aka Nate), You know buddy, you just don't seem to be in sync here. I have tried to avoid being mean but your voice is nails on the chalkboard. Please do yourself a favor and find some people you like and agree with. The web is a big place. @ Leslie got to the point real well and probably said what lots of folks were thinking. Adios amigo. You left once before you changed your name.

skua76 10:39 PM  

Thanks again for brightening up my day...and thanks for stopping by this evening!

juststeve 12:59 AM  

Whoa! Wow! Over a puzzle?

aulani carla michaels 3:53 AM  

You've been missed! You used to be my fave commenter, what a treat to see you sub!!!
Day late and (two) dollars short,
(as I bought the paper at the airport), traveling back from St Louis where I danced the hootchie kootchie!

(Ironically didn't get aCme, but had been alerted it was in there! Tho there was another shout out of Alexandria, VA, where I was born, and why I'm named Andrea)

Tried graMPas for "Grandfathers" which I guess is a little dumb...
and put in FERRULE which I thought was a math term.

Anyway, liked your write=up, it had a nice riffing "is this thing on?" sort of vibe.

Gal on the plane who was doing BEQ's SWA Spirit Mag puzzle asked me if I knew the constructor. When I said yes, she asked how uptight he was or not! Bec she had B--- for "buns", was tempted to write-in BUTT but could not believe how risque that would be!!!!!
(If she only knew!)
She also missed the theme, even tho there were SIX school names
that started phrases (BROWN, DUKE, HOWARD, RICE, and a couple others) AND the puzzle was entitled "SCHOOL OPENINGS". oh well!

On a brighter note, American now includes bylines AND what day of the week it was...AND Delta was running a NY Times puzzle with a tiny tiny tiny byline running up the side.
NOW the task is to get residuals for this...still shameful not to.
What do these airline mags pay to run the puzzle?

Anyway, Patrick is hitched to his beloved, a little rain fell for goodluck at the winery with a view to rival Napa.
Wedding was fabulous...seemed to be 90% bridal cousins, but the puzzle folk represented!
Highlights include getting to do the twist with PuzzleGirl, boogeying (sp?) with Peter Gordon, spending tons of time with Tony O and his wife, Martha (who also braved the arch with me).

In other wife news, @Rex's wife continues to be probably the most down-to-earth, charming people with an adorable accent you are ever likely to meet.

Didn't even come close to getting @Rex up on the dancefloor but the minister almost got him to drink some mead...and we had a spirited discussion of pangrams! No fisticuffs ensued.

Happy to be home.

evil doug 4:16 AM  



Pete 11:34 AM  

Wednesday's puzzle of next week prompted me to scroll back and post.

Finally, a Peter Collins puzzle I liked!

Pet Taxi 3:45 AM  

Love this blog, keep up the great work wish you all the best.

Pet Taxi

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

Pretty easy for a Saturday I thought. Finished fairly quickly, but with:

Two (2) wrong guesses, one (1) forgot to fill, and one (1) You Mean I've Been Spelling That Wrong For All These Years? Actually, I've just been spelling it VEE DOUBLE U.

The autumn wind is a RAIDER. The summer breeze is a NUDIST. And I am outa here.

Anonymous 3:05 PM  

Patti Scialfa is Bruce Springsteen's wife, not Pete Seger's. Please show some respect for The Boss!

Red Valerian 3:08 PM  

Hilarious post @Jeffrey.

@Anon B: your posts brighten my day, since they make me glad I'm not you.

Liked the puzzle, probably partly because I finished!

Dirigonzo 5:53 PM  

Today's edition of RPDTNYTCWP on this date 5 years ago will consist of a single quote which nicely illustrates how Rex (and software) has evolved:
"*The solving time has an asterisk because I solved this puzzle under atypical circumstances. For the first time since I began RPDTNYTCP, I completed the puzzle the evening before its stated release date, during hours when Rex is normally sleeping or reading comics in bed. Rex is a morning person - his brain is freshest from about 6am to noon, then it's serviceable from noon to about 5pm, and then it wants only food and Battlestar Galactica (or similar amusement) until 9 or 10pm, when it starts to Power Down. This is all to say that I solve slower at night. The other mitigating factor was that, again, for the first time since I began This Here Blog, I solved the puzzle On Screen, with the Across Lite application. I type much faster than I write, but I learned (the hard way) that I solve Much faster with pen or pencil than with mouse and keyboard. There's less immediate control over the puzzle's surface with on-screen solving. I mean look at the soul-less, perfectly regular fill on my puzzle - where's the personality? The evidence of struggle? The scribbled exclamations and epithets and EUPHEMISMS (actually, I tend to prefer profanity)? I had to add marginalia after-the-fact, and it just wasn't the same, so I don't think I'll be doing it again. I kept having to toggle between Across and Down clues, and the cursor often didn't seem to be, or go, where I thought it should. So my lack of pleasure in this solving experience was largely self-inflicted. Live and learn."

Anonymous 4:34 AM  

Spacecraft here. Hilarious sub-blog! Y'know, I think there WAS an alien abduction right out of a Volkswagen Jetta; isn't that what the Hills were in? Anyway, if they went with Bernie, the investment teams surely paid a steep price!
Yesterday three S's lined up; today three N's (CNNNEWS). I find this trendddisturbing.
A CASTE as a division of a HIVE. That's a bit on the stretchy side, methinks. Could not find ROTI anywhere; it simply had to stay there because of crosses. Other Google attempts were successful, and needed to get a jump start on this toughie. But after PATTI, FAITS, APIA and WANG, I negotiated the rest.

towboset: Please bring me all the Derek movies there are in your truck.

Nullifidian 10:20 PM  

Coming to this doubly late. I'm in syndication-land, and I'm only now just getting around to this puzzle.

My entry into the puzzle was 23A's RONDO, which eventually begat EDGER which begat EASE which begat INSECTS.

Now, there has been little conversation about the cluing for insects, so perhaps people don't remember the controversy that arose when an identical clue was used for BIRD SEED. Today's puzzle creator, Peter A. Collins, was the co-creator of that puzzle. I liked the fact that he subtly acknowledged the error and put it right. Perhaps he even reads this blog.

It's interesting to note that ATLAS is not the only Titan to get an ocean named after him (or her). Depending on what time in geological history one is considering, the answer to "Titan after whom one of the oceans is named" might well be TETHYS. The Tethys Ocean began to exist between Laurasia and Gondwana roughly 250 million years ago. Another Titan-named ocean is the "ancestor" of the Atlantic Ocean, named the Iapetus Ocean because it lay in a roughly equivalent relation to the continents of Lauria and Baltica that the Atlantic Ocean does today between North America and Europe. I just ordered Peter McCarthy's Here Be Dragons, a book from Oxford University Press on biogeography, so I've been thinking about things like this recently.

Overall, the puzzle was somewhat on the easy side, but I still enjoyed it.

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