Heavy-metal singer Snider / THU 10-13-11 / Viking king 995-1000 / Ancient Anatolian land / Jaipur royal / Flanged fastener / Title town 1945 Pulitzer winner

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Constructor: John Farmer

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: B MOVIES (45D: Appropriate title for this puzzle?) — movie titles have "B" added to beginning of one word, creating wacky titles, clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: SATINET (46D: Imitation fabric) —
A thin inferior satin or an imitation satin, especially one containing cotton. (answers.com)
• • •
This is just a fat (16 wide) Wednesday puzzle. Far too easy and unambitious for Thursday fare. Nontheme fill, with the exception of the creepy-sounding CATACOMB (3D: Passage of grave importance?), is painfully familiar to the point of boring. Never heard of SATINET (46D: Imitation fabric), so that gave me a little bit of trouble, and the tricksy clue on NRA (65D: Heat org.?) slowed me down a little more (I wanted NBA, for obvious reasons), but otherwise this one had no teeth, and very little in the way of interest (outside of the mildly clever theme answers).

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Film about how to win a MacArthur Fellowship? ("DO THE BRIGHT THING")
  • 25A: Film about a biblical serpent? ("BEAST OF EDEN")
  • 38A: Film about Ali/Foreman's Rumble in the Jungle? ("BOUT OF AFRICA")
  • 55A: Film in which Moe, Shemp and Curly show their flexibility? ("HOWARDS' BEND")
  • 62A: Film about earworms? ("SINGIN' IN THE BRAIN")
OLAFs are never very welcome, because of the V/F issue and because who the hell can tell their OLAF/Vs apart anyway. A most unwelcome royal. Speaking of unwelcome royals: RANEE (69A: Jaipur royal) and REY. All legit answers, but all stuff we've seen a gajillion times (which, again, makes this Not a very exciting Thursday puzzle). Lots of hoary to be found everywhere you look—fill like IONIA (Ancient Anatolian land) and OLAF I and ADANO (59A: Title town in a 1945 Pulitzer winner) and T-NUT (31D: Flanged fastener). Despite the fact that DEE is not the most scintillating fill, I appreciate the clue (5D: Heavy-metal singer Snider). So much better than a letter-of-the-alphabet clue. I also like the clue on FLAB (though I'm sure I've seen in before) (40D: Undesirable roll), and the clue on YANG (which I don't think I've ever seen) (50D: Jerry who co-founded Yahoo!). 'ROIDS is also reasonably fresh (56D: Sports no-nos, informally), though I think that's also slang for hemorrhoids, so the freshness is offset somewhat by the unintentional unpleasantness.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Feet Are Hurtin' 7:54 AM  

    It had a slightly chewier texture if "Beast of Eden" was the first theme answer you got and, being sort of an idiot, you thought the root phrase was "Beast of Burden" and you couldn't translate what the E to BUR switch was going for.

    Z 8:00 AM  

    fElONS, NbA, Abomb, NoW, OLAvI, Roi, couldn't remember ISAO other than his name is a bunch of random letters, and your tedious mid-century RRN. And my Tigers lost. Meh.

    dk 8:16 AM  

    "Pick two fingers!" Moe Howard.
    "Nyucc, nyucc!" Curly Joe Howard.

    Famous quotes from:

    **(2 Stars) what REY err Rex wrote

    jberg 8:20 AM  

    Kinda liked the theme, especially BOUT OF AFRICA, but my first two theme answers started with B, which made it hard to get DO THE BRIGHT THING.

    Difficulty mostly came from tricksy clues that could have many answers, like the Roman numeral at 61A, or IBm at 22A. (Fortunately, there haven't been 5 Olafs, or Olavs either, so that one came from the length).

    I did like ON AUTO and SLURPS. And I'm old enough to think "social register" ro4 6D ("400 list maker").

    Didn't understand ROIDS until I came here - never thought of that apostrophe! And I still don't understand DADS as "Barqs' rival" but I suppose Google will tell me.

    joho 8:21 AM  

    SATINET was also my WOTD ... I hope never to wear it.

    I think ONAUTOpilot is the phrase, isn't it?

    This almost felt more than a Tuesday to me than a Thursday. I did like the clues for RADIOAD, CATACOMB and AIRPLANE.

    DRAT! I ended up with a mistake with bEET instead of LEEK! I've been brainwashed!

    Here's hoping for a challenging Friday.

    joho 8:26 AM  

    @jberg ... to your point, I forgot to mention that I liked that the "B" moved from the middle of the first theme phrase with BRIGHT to the front BEAST and BOUT and then to the the end with BEND and BRAIN.

    Jim 8:28 AM  

    Very different experience from Rex. Top two-thirds done in six minutes, bottom third took another 20. I know Jerry YANG by sight (and the fact he was ousted as CEO) but couldn't quite remember it.

    Put Char for CITY, since Charlotte and Charleston, at least, are capital cities. Clearly misunderstood the clue, I guess.

    Got CHASER off the C in Char, but really, really didn't like the clue. A second drink at a bar is...a second drink at a bar. Or, maybe, a refill. A CHASER is used to take the edge off a shot. Bad, bad clue, even if technically defensible.

    Had fOulS for ROIDS. Didn't see the informally, I guess.

    Anyway, cluing was not Wed level. At least not recent Wednesdays.

    Jim 8:30 AM  

    Oh...and so long Theo. Two years too late. Take Lackey with you.

    Anonymous 8:41 AM  

    Seemed tough at first glance but was smooth sailing once started. Theme answers posed no problems and were kinda fun to discover. One thing: Rex appreciates the clue for "Dee" because he's familiar with contempo music and musicians. I never heard of Dee Snyder and I don't give a damn about heavy metal. Ugh. My point is, Rex shouldn't assume-- if he does-- that post 1960s music clues are gimmees or even enjoyable for all of us. Interesting how seldom classical music clues and answers turn up in puzzles.

    Gill I. P. 9:01 AM  

    Oh, I don't know Rex. I thought this puzzle had a mouth full of teeth. I do agree it was Wed.(ish) but I thought the theme answers were fun to write in.I also liked
    APOSTLE, PAGAN,CATACOMBS, DEMONS, GLINDA. Perhaps the makings of another B Movie? The Broad of the Dead?
    I loved HOWARDS BEND since I'm such a sucker for the Stooges.
    @dk: I'll raise you one:
    Moe: Blind Bat? Why he can see better than you can and I can prove it."
    Is (B)OUT OF AFRICA really considered a B movie?

    Rex Parker 9:01 AM  

    "Interesting how seldom classical music clues and answers turn up in puzzles." —Someone who has never done crosswords before today

    Anonymous 9:01 AM  

    I put POd as a lobster trap (ref. device for catching crabs in the deadliest catch). How is POT a trap?
    Overall I enjoyed it. Quite clean. Some fresh words.
    From Bangna/Bangkok

    PanamaRed 9:09 AM  

    @jberg - Barqs and DADS Old Fashioned are root beers.

    @anonymous 8:41 being an old codger myself, agree on your post 60s music comment. For classical music, though - see 28d in today's puzzle.

    Overall, I enjoyed this one - I'm waiting for Tobias to chime in with a rant about sports (ISAO, OTT,ROIDS, BOUTOFAFRICA, KIDD, CLE). ;)

    exaudio 9:11 AM  

    A big fat DNF due to SULA/LEEK/KIDD crossing. Had borscht on the brain, so I knew the soup vegetable had to be BEET, then I was unfamiliar with SULA and Jason KIDD.

    John V 9:16 AM  

    Whew! Played difficult for me; 32 miles, Noroton Heights to 125th Street, with some double checking on the number 5.

    @Anoymous 9:01, "lobster pot" is the usual term that I know.

    Like @Rex, had NBA for heat. Also very creatively mis-read 33A as "Bard's River" (????), so wrote in AVON. Yes, it does help to actually read the clue.

    Hard stuff for me: TREF, SATINET, Jason KIDD, MOTIF (had MOTIV), SULA, Stew container. Virtually all my problem were going down.

    So, slow, but no errors. Life is good.

    John V 9:22 AM  

    Too many letters, but, anyway -- No Country for Bold Men?

    Gill I. P. 9:22 AM  

    P.S. @jberg: If you like root beer, Barq's reins supreme.

    evil doug 9:24 AM  

    Airplanes haven't been 'stew containers' since the early 70's.

    While I was working summers for United at ORD during my college years I saw, up close and personal, the impact of the change to the apparently less pejorative 'flight attendant'.

    But some unexpected consequences followed the seemingly simple word shift. Girdles disappeared, weight checks became less restrictive, marriage was no longer taboo, retirement at 30 became a thing of the past, and hiring en masse could be done over the phone rather than in person since grace and beauty became passé. And so began the death spiral of a once great industry...

    The language police also tried to change 'cockpits' to 'flight decks', but most pilots continue to reject that pc effort.

    Yes, it's sexist, this nostalgic look back at the glory days of air travel. I can't argue against the appropriateness of the changes. But the next time you're on an airplane---and that's an exercise I try to avoid at all costs, even with my free travel benefits---be honest and ask yourself if you wouldn't have preferred the true stewardess treatment....


    M07S 9:35 AM  

    OK, I'm having a brain fart. How are ROIDS sports no-nos? Hemorrhoids are all I can conjure up. (Gee, farts and hemorrhoids. Sorry.)

    Anonymous 9:37 AM  

    Sorry, Rex. You're wrong: I've been doing the Times puzzles every morning for more than 30 years and, with damn few exceptions, finishing them, sooner or later, without help. I stand by my assertion that classical music-- in comparison to other genres-- turns up less frequently. Not only didn't I appreciate today's Snider clue, I also didn't appreciate your dismissive response to my post.

    joho 9:44 AM  

    M07S ... steroids. You, know, and 'ROID rage.

    John V 9:52 AM  

    @M07S: 'roids = steroids.

    M07S 9:59 AM  

    @joho and @John V...mille grazie

    quilter1 10:13 AM  

    Liked a lot of this puzzle including the theme answers. I did the bEEt thing, the NbA thing and the Abomb thing. Chagrin all around.

    @evil: girdles? Ever worn one? Those things were hell. Today the girdle has become something called Spanx, just as bad.

    A Couger 10:19 AM  

    @Evil - Above and beyond what you said, I miss the days when pilots were chosen not for their training or flight skills, but for how they filled out their uniforms. I mean, who cares whether they actually know how to fly if they're hunks, right?

    archaeoprof 10:47 AM  

    Katie, who defeated Joon last night, was my student...

    600 10:49 AM  

    @A Couger--Wish I'd said that!

    Found the puzzle medium, a little easier than I like on Thursday. I find myself looking forward to the Thursday challenge on Wednesday of each week, and I must say I love a rebus. I'm probably in the minority here, but I'm always a little unhappy if Thursday isn't one.

    I didn't know the Stooges were Howards until I finished and went to Wikipedia, and I had no idea what ROIDS were even after reading Rex's post. Luckily, there are answers here. That's why I love this blog!

    @Gill I.P.--better than I.B.C?

    Joon and the Tigers lost. Double Meh.

    600 10:50 AM  


    I was sorry to see Joon lose, as already indicated, but Katie was a revelation.

    hazel 10:51 AM  

    I guess I'm too young to know what exactly "true stewardness treatment" is so maybe I don't know what I've missed, but I have flown zillions of miles since the '90s and I can honestly say that i don't care if my flight attendant is married, over 30, or wears a girdle - I just want him/her to be friendly and helpful, if necessary. Sounds like the girdle and friendliness might work at cross purposes though? Didn't even understand the clue until evil piped up. Thanks, @evil!

    I liked this puzzle a lot. highlight was definitely the BMOVIES.

    Ted Kerwin 10:55 AM  

    If Anonymous wanted a more respectful response perhaps they should identify themselves. Dee Snider has been making music since 1979, I think 25 years of music fame should be enough to be in the puzzle.

    Jim 10:57 AM  

    And elevators! Pushing my own buttons. Feh!

    Where's the black gentleman I remember when I was a kid. Those were the days.

    Hey, Evil, you know how educated women are embarrassed by Sarah Palin?...yeah. Exactly

    Pete 11:05 AM  

    I didn't think the clue for NRA was tricksy, I thought it was horrible. Since when do inanimate objects have organizations? Did a bunch of AK-47s get together and decide they needed to form the NRA to get their point across?

    I found Joon's wager in Final Jeopardy to be the act of a true gentleman. He was beaten fair and square, then made his wager so as not to deprive Katie of at least a tie for first if she made a patently foolish wager was exceedingly graceful.

    JaxInL.A. 11:13 AM  

    I would never in a million years have been able to put stewardess into the "Stew container" clue, so AIRPLANE as the answer was completely opaque. Thanks for the enlightenment, @ED.

    I also appreciate the illumination on 'ROIDS.

    Had all of the typical write-overs here. Miami Heat were much more obvious than a gun as a heater, so NBA to NRA was the last correction in the grid for me. Liked the same words as @Gill I.P., and liked the puzzle better than Rex, probably because I don't breeze through that many Thursdays.

    Stan 11:19 AM  

    The 'mildly clever theme answers' worked for me, especially with the B MOVIE reveal.

    Today I learned which of the Three Stooges were brothers and that there are Cat in the Hat books about SCI. (not SEX).

    r.alphbunker 11:21 AM  

    Unless opera counts as classical music, the only classical music answers that come immediately to mind are EROICA and IN* where * is a key. There must be others.

    BTW, David Kahn has a collection of opera crossword puzzles: http://www.amazon.com/Metropolitan-Opera-Crosswords-Lovers/dp/140278757X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318519043&sr=1-1

    BigSteve46 11:32 AM  

    Just asking ... what difference does it make if a person responds as "anonymous" or "quilter1" or "hazel" or "jeho" or as "Bigsteve46", as I do? The point of these names is anonymity.

    And her/his point was right: there are far more pop culture music clues than classical - in recent puzzles, anyway.

    Its also important to accept the xword for what it is: a reflection of what the creator was able to squish into a 15 x 15 grid. The puzzle has nothing to do with values. To solve it, one needs a base of knowledge analogous to what was once described as that of Richard Nixon's political support: a mile wide and an inch deep.

    Keep in mind, too, that Rex does crosswords - if not as a living - as an adjunct to a living. So he has a tendency toward arrogance in what is "easy" or a "gimmee."

    And so it goes, it x-word puzzle land.

    ksquare 11:56 AM  

    @dk Curly Joe was not a Howard but a replacement after Curly (Jerome) died and Shemp (Sam) left.

    Gill I. P. 11:56 AM  

    Anonymous:Adjective =
    Unremarkable or impersonal.
    @quilter1 @hazel @joho are remarkable and they are:
    Synonym: Individual - particular - subjective.
    Which one has a higher credit rating?

    evil doug 12:00 PM  

    A Couger (Cougar?),

    I, of course, offered both qualities when I was hired by Delta. It wouldn't have been fair to demand the full package in my flight attendants without representing the whole enchilada myself!

    And Hazel,

    There's a lot of evidence (I mean, airlines are generally at the bottom of the 'respected industries' list now, somewhere below used car salesmen---and public contact employees have a lot to do with that) that "friendly and helpful" flight attendants are kind of at a premium now compared to the glamorous days of yore, when the stews were held in such high regard for their beauty as well as their, um, talents.

    Once the glamor aspect disappeared, so did a lot of the pride and pleasure of the profession. FA's don't enjoy the work nearly as much as they did, and I think that's reflected in part of the discomfort we suffer in air travel today.

    If you're finding pleasant FA's on all of your "zillions" of flying miles, I'd like to know who you fly with (I'd also like to have your Sky Miles account!). I respect those qualities, too. I just like them even better when they also come wrapped in a chic, classy, proud package---you know, like an iPod instead of a boombox.

    Finally, Quilter1,

    I'll match you: Did you ever have to wear a jockstrap with a cup?


    r.alphbunker 12:02 PM  

    Over time I have found posters that I like (e.g., foodie, John V, JaxInL.A, jackj). This allows me to skim the blog looking for my favorite posters. I couldn't do that if they posted as anonymous.

    Anonymous 12:16 PM  

    NBA was also the first thing I thought of, but that obviously couldn't be right because NBA was included in the 37D clue, so I never penciled that in. Got it 100% from the crosses.

    Anonymous 12:16 PM  

    ... I mean for the "Heat Org." clue, of course.

    JaxInL.A. 12:17 PM  

    Gee, thanks, @r.alphbunker.

    @Evil, any hunky, youthful photos to prove your assertion of meeting both qualifications?

    @BigSteve46, one of the pleasures of attending the L.A. Crossword Tournament several months ago was being able to meet people behind the aliases posted here. Denizens of Rexworld have distinct personalities to me, based on what they share here over time. Occasionally we have a chance to meet in real life, like last summer when @quilter1 and her husband came to California to visit family and we arranged to share a lunch.

    Cyberspace is a big place. I don't need to publish my personal details to the entire world, but having an alias allows me to get to know folks and reveal myself when and as needed.

    Two Ponies 12:20 PM  

    I thought this was worth it just for Singin' in the Brain.
    Like @exaudio I was caught by the Sula Kidd area. Beet didn't seem right so I just left a couple of blank squares.
    I am very suspicious of Joon's defeat last night. Is it a coincident that there is a Disney catagory and a contestant wearing Mickey Mouse earrings? Boo hiss.

    Mel Ott 12:23 PM  

    @Anon 9:01: I'm a little late today but I want to respond to your Lobster POT question. Throughout New England, and especially in Maine, the trap used to catch lobsters has been called a Lobster Pot just about forever. Dunno why. Perhaps because an earlier version of the device looked more like a pot?

    If you Google 'Lobster Pot' you get a bunch of restaurants of that name, and some large pots in which to cook lobsters! Further down the page is a Wikipedia article which uses both terms (pot and trap), but does not help with the derivation of POT.

    Good question. But it is a common term in this part of the world.

    CBCD 12:25 PM  

    @jberg "And I'm old enough to think "social register" ro4 6D ("400 list maker")."

    And I'm old enough to think of the Athenian oligarchy of 400 after the 411 BC coup.

    Matthew G. 12:29 PM  

    I finished with a medium time mainly because I had no idea the Three Stooges were HOWARDS (or brothers, for that matter), and I kept trying to figure out how STOOGES would fit into the grid with a B in some way.

    But I liked the puzzle considerably more than Rex did. Not as off-beat as one wants on a Thursday, but I enjoyed the theme entries plenty, especially BEAST OF EDEN and DO THE BRIGHT THING. The theme entries all have better "flow" to them than punny entries usually do, so I give today's puzzle a comfortable thumbs up.

    Squeek 12:31 PM  

    I can't think of a single Twisted Sister song or album but every time there is a rock and roll documentary there is Dee Snyder.
    Is he just so unbusy that he's always available?

    Sparky 12:33 PM  

    Finished, which was refreshing. Did not feel like a Thursday. I, too, look forward to a rebus but don't demand. Wanted Lady Astor for 6D. Thanks for explaining steroids. None of them were actually B movies, which probably explains the? Had beet (high @chefbea); SUlA and tIDD seemed okay to me. The staff at Continental are usually pretty kind. They always give me the whole can of Diet Sprite. Wowser.

    Sparky 12:46 PM  

    Well done, Joon. The TofC will be extra special this year.

    John V 12:47 PM  

    @r.alphbunker Thanks for the nod :)

    Jim 12:56 PM  

    While I wouldn't call Dee Snider a renaissance man, he's something of an impresario, promoting bands of his previous genre, horror film festivals etc., and he's has been a radio show host for 15 years.

    And 'We're Not Gonna Take It' and 'I Wanna Rock' are as memorable as anything from that unfortunate era of music.

    Rather him than Sasndra DEE or DEE DEE Myers or, gulp, DEE battery.

    RW Bush 1:01 PM  

    Sadly, if i can do it.. It must be easy. Mostly enjoyed it though. Had a smile at Heat org since it seems we all fell for the NBA answer and had to go back. Also, thought the good witch was Glenda and not Glinda...
    STEW container is completely archaic and should be described as such.. Evil is correct.. Time to put that term in its place..

    jae 1:12 PM  

    Medium for me. Had trouble seeing RACED and CATACOMB in NW. But, the rest was pretty smooth (except for NBA, GNP, and PEAS). I liked this one. I thought the theme was pretty funny with 62a my favorite.

    Seems to be a lot of ED bait takers today. I'll just say that the new series PANAM is worth a look.

    Anonymous 1:16 PM  

    Dear TK: You say that "Dee Snider has been making music since 1979. I think 25 years of music fame should be enough to be in the puzzle." I never suggested he shouldn't be in the puzzle, only that he is far from a household word (or words). Twenty-five years of "music fame." Nonsense. I'll bet he's no more famous among generally well-informed solvers than George Crumb (no relation to R). I happen to know who Crumb is-- he's been composing for more than 50 years and he won a Pulitzer-- but I wouldn't "appreciate" seeing him pop up in a puzzle the way Rex appreciated seeing the Snider clue.
    Oh, and regarding anonymousness: What makes opinions, including yours, more -- or less-- worthy of respect if they're signed?

    quilter1 1:24 PM  

    Borsch is a soup made with beets, so this is an understandable error. With a dollop of sour cream, delish. But I also like cockaLEEKy soup as well, a chicken soup made with LEEKs.

    @evil: at least an athletic supporter has a practical purpose. The nicest flight attendants I ever met flew with SAS.

    Fun fact, the earliest flight attendants had to be registered nurses.

    hazel 1:27 PM  

    @evil - no longer flying zillions (maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration) but enough to keep my "elite" status on my airline of choice - Airtran, where friendliness has been the rule, not the exception. Delta (where I was medallion for many years) shooed me off with their consistently horrible attitude (the customer was really such a bother!) - and i've only got one flight left in the bank with them. One of my best friends has been a flight attendant for American for 20 or so years (all overseas flights now) and I have heard SOME stories - and recognize that it is REALLY HARD to keep that cheerful demeanor. She's kind of glamorous. You would probably approve. Between the many adorable "Baby Jesuses" on the planes nowadays and people hauling their cargo lockers on, and the personal space we've been reduced to - I have zero expectations of glamor. Planes are just big buses with wings - just get me there safely (and with a smile) - and I'm good.
    @r.alph bunker - thanks for the DIS! i'll skip over YOUR posts now. ;~} just kidding of course.

    evil doug 1:27 PM  

    Okay, Jacqueline---that new avatar is about all I'm technologically able to provide. Gets a little bigger if you click it a couple times; yes, that's right, probably to my advantage that it's small. But I turn 60 this month, and damn! if I don't still look fine! Try not to get all lathered up at my hunky macho youthfulness....

    That was taken shortly after I was hired in '79 to accompany a tribute I wrote to my Dad (a former Navy pilot and United economic analyst) that was published in the Air Line Pilots Association magazine. He died just a few months later, so it was nice that he got to see it.

    You're right, JAE; they musta missed the memo re: bait-taking. Concur on "Pan Am"---it's a pleasant trifle.

    Studmuffin flying ace with golden hands, steely eyes---and occasional roids from sitting in the cockpit too much....

    M07S 1:36 PM  

    "And elevators! Pushing my own buttons. Feh!
    Where's the black gentleman I remember when I was a kid. Those were the days."

    How 'bout the dispatcher in the elevator lobby with castanets? I never understood the system but those castanets were the only thing that would set the operators into action.

    As for the "black" part, we had "colored" water fountains (the standard joke was "wonder what color the water is") and blacks had to sit at the back of the bus...which is where I chose to sit. Not out of some social consciousness but that was where I liked to sit and I met some very nice people that way. 10 years old and riding the bus by myself into downtown Louisville for music lessons at Shackleford's Music. Jeesus, sems like a hundred years ago.

    While I'm rambling, my mother is in her nineties and was reminiscing about her early childhood. She said that seems like a hundred years ago. Then she said hell, it WAS almost a hundred years ago. Sweet lady who still does her daily xword.

    mac 1:43 PM  

    Wednesday level with the power to make me feel really uninformed, had to get so much from crosses...
    Looking over it now, though, I notice the good words, Apostle, catacomb, motif.

    No idea about the rootbeer, the stews in the airplane, and I had NBA as well. Often the first two drinks at happy hour are twofers.

    Rob C 1:48 PM  

    Thought this puzzle was clever b/c it works on two levels. Many times in puzzles when phrases are changed by adding/subtracting/changing a letter(s) the entries have no other common thread. When a puzzle works on two levels, it's extra good.

    Was surprised Rex was as tough on it as he was.

    Great work John Farmer.

    PS-We're not booing, we're chanting JOOOOOON

    Chip Hilton 1:50 PM  

    That NBA/NRA clue along with my insistance on 'Like NOW' instead of 'Like NEW' led to a brain freeze of biblical proportions for me. What the heck is a DOCBEE, thought I?

    I also thought the cluing today was too clever by half.

    On Joon, I much prefer the takes of the rightly proud @archeoprof and @Pete (who pointed out Joon's gentlemanly final wager) to the conspiracy theory of @Two Ponies. Joon would be the first to admit that he lost fair and square to a worthy opponent. Alas, there will be no Joon in January but it was a great run.

    Mike 2:00 PM  

    Dee Snyder was a gimmee for me. My Mother, who is 92 y.o. has had a very sweet personal note from Dee on her bulletin board for a couple of decades, I think. I don't even want to ask her the story behind that.

    jackj 2:21 PM  

    Fun theme and, I suspect, there are a few dozen more out there if one wants to do some digging. The only one that immediately jumped to my mind was, "Tribute to Scaggs?", for THEWIZARDOFBOZ.

    Joining with Mel Ott in the lobster trap/pot discussion, it is a lobster trap to artisans who make them into coffee tables and remains a pot to those who work the Atlantic to catch them.

    As an aside, New England lobstermen are known to lovingly call lobsters "bugs", (though never in a retail setting where customers are present).

    CATACOMB gave me brief chills when it reminded me of a long ago, ill-advised visit I made to the catacombs outside Rome. It didn't take too many skulls or bones to convince me that there are some things that are better experienced by reading a book.

    CoffeeLvr 2:21 PM  

    @Archeoprof, it is certainly a small world.

    I enjoyed Joon's run, and look forward to his future T of C appearance. I have added Jeopardy back to my DVR list, I found out I still enjoy it a lot. I will note that Joon showed a mastery of both aspects of the game: posing the correct questions, and betting very strategically. He also had the luck to uncover many Daily Doubles in the first six appearances. The contestant who found all three yesterday did not use them to her advantage.

    I liked this puzzle, although it beat me in the end as I stubbornly clung to NbA. After I removed "ruling" for 68A, I could never think of DECREE - thought it must be some obscure Latin.

    SINGIN' IN THE BRAIN was the best theme answer to my mind.

    CAPTCHA is synaphi - lover of Roget's?

    jackj 2:32 PM  


    Thank you for the nice mention.

    You also reminded me that there are many posters I enjoy reading but am remiss in not often telling them so.

    t bum 2:37 PM  

    Stew container?

    600 2:46 PM  
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    600 2:48 PM  
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    600 2:50 PM  

    @Coffeelvr--Absolutely agree--watching Joon made me remember that I like Jeopardy. It's newly on my DVR list as well. I also agree about the grace with which he played the game, and I look forward to the Tournament of Champions.

    Forgot to mention that my favorite entry was far and away SINGIN IN THE BRAIN. My least favorite was BEAST OF EDEN, not because of the theme aspect, but because I just don't think of "beast" when I think of "serpent." I think of snake, and to me, a snake isn't a beast.

    @Rob C--"Many times in puzzles when phrases are changed by adding/subtracting/changing a letter(s) the entries have no other common thread." I had not thought of that, had not noticed it, and am delighted to have it pointed out. It takes my enjoyment of the theme to a different level.

    @Sparky--I don't understand why you'd want Lady Astor for 6D. Please explain . . . if you're still out there reading this.

    @jae--Thanks for the final blog rule you gave me at the beginning of the week. I managed to honor it today. But it wasn't easy.

    @t bum--I'm surprised at your question, since stew has been the subject of much discussion (contention?) on the blog today. Anyway, think stewardess.

    Lewis 3:31 PM  

    @jim -- like you I finished the top two thirds quickly, then got stuck on the bottom third, though I did eventually get it.

    @bigsteve -- well put

    I enjoyed learning that "city" is in four state capitals, and I liked the clue for RADIOAD. I also learned this definition for FLAB.

    For me, more a rah than a meh...

    sanfranman59 4:29 PM  

    Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

    Thu 17:19, 19:09, 0.90, 34%, Easy-Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Thu 9:22, 9:20, 1.00, 60%, Medium

    Crosscan 4:59 PM  

    Joon is gentlemanly, but his final jeopardy wager was strategic, not chivalrous. Since he had exactly 3/4 of the leader, his bet insured he would win by a dollar if they were both wrong.

    What I can't explain is the daily double betting strategy of the third place contestant.

    Rube 5:00 PM  

    At the risk of sounding chauvinistic, I had the opportunity to fly on some of the domestic Chinese airlines this Spring. The old tradition of young, slender, attractive "stewardesses" is still alive on these airlines. The mind boggler was when, just before take-off, they all assembled at the front and, in unison, bowed to us while the Captain was on the PA system saying what an honor it was to serve us. Later, when talking with one of our guides, she said that, as much as she wanted to travel, she was too fat to get a job with the airlines.

    Fell asleep over this puppy last night and forgot to check my questionable answers this morning, so ended up with NbA, ROIlS and lECbEE for DECREE.

    @CoffeeLvr expressed my thoughts exactly re the puzzle and Joon's run. Got a big chuckle out of SINGIN IN THE BRAIN, primarily becouse my first encounter with "Earworm" was on this site awhile back.

    Pete 5:07 PM  

    @Crosscan - I didn't think of that, I only thought that he bet so that if he were right, and she didn't bet the obligatory tie+$1 and was wrong, but instead bet nothing, they would tie.

    What a cad!

    Joon 6:02 PM  

    i prefer to think of it as both gentlemanly and strategic. if katie wagers $8800, she will tie me on a double stumper and we could both come back the next day, and she also can't lose if she gets it right (although i could tie her if i bet it all). so i left the door open for her to also make the correct strategic wager of $8800. of course i don't blame her for betting $8801, but it did risk her losing on a double stumper instead of drawing.

    most jeopardy contestants don't work out the game theory to this level of detail, so i wasn't really expecting her to actually bet $8800. if i thought that she would probably do that, then i would actually have gone all in and tried for a joint win on the double-get, which i viewed as much more likely than a double miss based on the category. (now that would be a bit caddish.) but it was a very interesting exact corner case.

    thanks for the kind words, everybody here who's been cheering for me. it's been a wonderful experience and i'm glad that modern technology has allowed me to really share it with almost everyone i know (and many people i don't know who somehow became my fans anyway).

    foodie 6:21 PM  

    I too am with @CoffeeLvr and @TwoPonies re SINGING IN THE BRAIN...

    And Joon was wonderful in so many ways. But of all the answers he provided, the one that blew me away was Marc Jacobs. I mean I expected him to rock the math and science and to be great with words and literature, but Marc Jacobs? I just wasn't expecting it.

    And thanks to him, I've relapsed, in my Jeopardy addiction...

    @Evil Doug... I'm shaking my head at you. But the photo from your youth is entertaining, so I'm letting it go...

    ANON B 6:49 PM  

    Does anyone know if John Farmer is
    the editorial writer for the New Jersey StarLedger or his son, John
    Farmer,Jr, a former Atty. General
    of New Jersey?

    Anonymous 7:11 PM  

    @Anon B (Nate?)
    Neither, here is an interview with this John Farmer.

    ANON B 7:24 PM  



    chefwen 7:38 PM  

    @Joon - It was such a pleasure to watch and cheer you on. Thanks for stopping by and giving us some inside information. I have also set my DVR to record Jeopardy again. Really looking forward to the Tournament.

    Loved the puzzle and like many others thought Singing in the Brain was the best

    anonymous carla michaels 7:39 PM  

    Hey r.alph, what's a girl gotta do to get on YOUR list? ;)

    I fell for the bEEt/LEEK thing.
    SUbA/tIDD looked suspicious, but what do I know about sports, literature, music, food, history, pop culture, or geography?

    Btw, just saw this on Wordplay when I was trying to see if there was an article about John Farmer there...found this instead:
    Administrivial Exciting New York Times Crossword Puzzle Contest Alert! Heads up, my friends: Will Shortz and one of our top constructors will hold a forehead-slapping puzzle contest involving next week’s puzzles that you will definitely want to get in on. Exact instructions will follow at the top of each day’s puzzle (and I will post them here as well), but hold on to all of your puzzles from Monday through Friday, because the Saturday puzzle will contain a metapuzzle that will use clues from the rest of that week. When you have solved the metapuzzle, e-mail your answer to crossword@nytimes.com. PLEASE DO NOT POST YOUR ANSWERS HERE ON THE BLOG, AND PLEASE DO NOT MAIL THEM TO ME. Only answers e-mailed to that address will be considered. Twenty-five correct solvers, chosen at random, whose entries are received by 6 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, Oct. 23, will receive copies of “Will Shortz Picks His Favorite Puzzles: 101 of the Top Crosswords From The New York Times.” Only one entry per person, please. The answer and winners’ names will appear on Friday, Oct. 28, at http://www.nytimes.com/wordplay.

    chefwen 7:40 PM  

    @evil doug - Ooh La La!

    You are not going to believe this but my capcha is fliers.

    Chip Hilton 7:41 PM  

    If you're still here, what's your strategy if you're in this situation: You lead going to Final Jep, and you have the choice of betting exactly enough to tie if you and your nearest opponent both get it right or betting that extra dollar to win outright? I'd think you'd want the tie after just proving you're better than that opponent. Why not take them on again the next day? Thanks, and congrats on a great run.

    Noam D. Elkies 8:04 PM  

    Yes, there are plenty of classical-music entries, but nothing like the endless barrage of names of pop "artists" so famous that I've never heard of them. Except possibly in a Fri/Sat puzzle you'll never see CARL clued via Dittersdorf or Stamitz, or SAMUEL via Scheidt, or ANTON via Reicha (never mind Eberl, a near-contemporary also listed in this Wikilist — Dvorak is fair game, but not Dvořák unless you clue ANTONÍN). That's as it should be, even though Stamitz, Scheidt, and Reicha are all respectable second-tier composers. It's reasonable to hold more recent proper names to the same standard. If there were no other way to clue DEE then resorting to this Snider dude would be tolerable, but there's nothing to celebrate about such a clue, and no excuse for it when there's any number of better approaches (yes, even using the letter).

    Oh, and having two royal clues consecutive is always a nice trick.

    —NDE [catpcha = invis, like 4/9 of that word]

    r.alphbunker 8:47 PM  

    The list was far from complete. You are definitely on it. Your insights are amazing. In fact I think of your posts as a blog in a blog. Like a cuckoo you lay your eggs in another bird's nest.

    Oscar 9:36 PM  

    I thought it sounded familiar:

    sanfranman59 11:34 PM  

    This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 6:17, 6:51, 0.92, 19%, Easy
    Tue 8:03, 8:53, 0.91, 23%, Easy-Medium
    Wed 9:19, 11:50, 0.79, 8%, Easy (10th lowest median solve time of 119 Wednesdays)
    Thu 17:31, 19:09, 0.91, 39%, Easy-Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:25, 3:40, 0.93, 23%, Easy-Medium
    Tue 4:15, 4:35, 0.93, 30%, Easy-Medium
    Wed 5:14, 5:51, 0.89, 27%, Easy-Medium
    Thu 8:47, 9:20, 0.93, 43%, Medium

    Joon 11:34 PM  

    chip, i've answered this question with my actual wagers on two occasions (days 1 and 3 of my streak): i bet for the win. i don't actually think you can "prove" you're better than another player in one game of jeopardy; so much depends on the categories, the individual clues, who finds the DDs, and even the third opponent. any contestant who makes it onto the show is a dangerous opponent, but one who's already got a full game of experience and is comfortable on the buzzer is more so. the biggest advantage i had as the returning champ was that i had played more jeopardy than my opponents. so i'd only wager for the tie in exact breakpoint cases where i couldn't afford the extra dollar.

    Sparky 11:41 PM  

    @600. The story goes that Lady Astor could fit only 400 into the ballroom of her mansion. Thus New York Society became The 400.

    Anonymous 11:06 AM  

    @two ponies: i always considered that jeopardy manipulated the games by choice of categories. i am sure they have knowledge of contestants' fortes and less strong areas and perhaps make the show more interesting or balanced by choice of categories so it's not a complete runaway. i enjoyed watching joon. as for thurs. puzzle that was fun too and easy for a thurs.

    Ted Kerwin 11:15 AM  

    The biggest problem with using Anonymous is anyone can be Anonymous. If you register a sign in name I am able to properly respond to your comments. I do not get into discussions with Anonymous for that reason.

    The Bro 9:44 AM  

    " 'roids"? Waaaay to obtuse.

    Anonymous 1:40 PM  

    How do you go with Gil Scott Heron over Elvis Costello??

    I was sure " meant feet, but when I penciled it in I could see that the word FEET was too small. In danger, quite frankly, of being crushed by a dwarf.

    Deb 4:15 PM  

    Perhaps if Will Shortz didn't keep his ICE in the refrigerator, it would be more than just "very cool."

    Dirigonzo 5:53 PM  

    @Deb, nice to see you back and nice reference back to yesterday's puz - "very cool", indeed!

    I thought some of the cluing was also "very cool" - no one has mentioned "Conspicuously consume" = SLURP which I thought was cleverly offbeat. A fun, pretty-easy-for-Thursday romp.

    I wonder if the puzzle 5 years ago was as good?
    - "Solving time: around 14 minutes (do Not believe the applet!)"
    - "First - there was massive flooding here yesterday afternoon into last night...There is something humbling about Acts of God, though, that probably isn't all bad. I was calmed by the thought that "it's just basement crap - you've got a furnace and a washer / dryer down there - even if the whole thing fills with water, you'll be fine." I was able to achieve this zen-like clarity because I had presciently removed all books and Simpsons collectibles from the basement earlier this year."
    - "I have a question. Where is Bora Bora, and is it the capital of anything? No, it's an island in French Polynesia. In fact, according to Bora Bora itself (or at least its eponymous website), "Bora Bora island is possibly the single most famous island in all the world." Bora Bora then added, "Don't tell Ireland we said so, though, OK? Those drunken bastards get really mean if you don't basically worship their goddamned 'Emerald Isle.' @#$#-holes.""
    - "I never bothered to question AIRED - I just figured that the absurd resulting cross, MAAT, was some kind of imported Dutch nautical term that I needn't worry my pretty little head about."
    - "Not content to coast on his "Eso Beso" crossword laurels, Anka has found new ways to weasel himself into puzzles. If he keeps working, maybe the world will eventually forget his horrifying 70s abomination, "Havin' My Baby." Purgatory awaits, Paul."
    - In reply to a comment (there were a total of five) by Isabella, Rex said this: "It's nice that "Will & Grace" was able to help someone, somewhere, lead a fuller life."

    Anonymous 11:29 PM  

    Spacecraft here. As for why I sign on as "Anonymous," it's the only way I can get my post to show up.
    Now as to the original films from which these "BMOVIES" were derived: it's a shame that a gritty, groundbreaking film by Spike Lee, a Steinbeck classic starring the unforgettable James Dean, and two more all-time classics have to share the spotlight with the likes of (B)OUTOFAFRICA. This is like the rotten core of an otherwise delicious apple of a grid. This is not a "B" movie; it's more of an "F."
    Hand up for ABOMB and NBA. Also had REFILL for CHASER. More often than not, a chaser is merely water or soda water, rather than a "second drink." To me, a second drink is "I'll have another," or, a refill.
    Finally, I wish someone would tighten the TBAR with a TNUT--and then throw both of 'em out!

    liess: what the Beassst of Eden told

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