Sylvia who played Queen Mother in Queen / THU 10-6-11 / Extinct kin of kiwi / Mad face / Moroccan topper / Eastern nanny

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Easy


Word of the Day: Sylvia SYMS (67A: Sylvia who played the Queen Mother in "The Queen") —
Sylvia M. L. Syms OBE (born 6 January 1934) is a British actress. She is probably best known for her roles in the films Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957), Ice-Cold in Alex (1958), No Trees in the Street (1959) , Victim (1961) and The Tamarind Seed (1974). She remains active in films, television and theatre. (wikipedia)
• • •

"Silly" in this case = supremely lame and predictable. So predictable, in fact, that (unlike with most quotation puzzles) I tore through this in record Thursday time—under 4 minutes. Most of the non-theme answers are short (3-5 letters) and most of the clues are very (even painfully) straightforward, so despite not having any idea about the joke at the beginning, I tore through all the crosses and pieced the first part together. Once I got HANES, the entire rest of the joke fell limply into place. I don't think I hesitated much at all. I somehow got Leroy NIEMAN stuck in my head where Alfred E. NEUMAN (5D: Mad face?) was supposed to go; I wasn't sure what kind of spelling I was going to see on those Sinister laughs (HEH HEHS), and I have no idea who this SYMS person is. Otherwise, I was typing as fast as I could read the clues. Coolest thing about this puzzle is EAR PIECE (9D: Standard-issue item for a Secret Service agent).

I have TOD Browning's "Freaks" sitting on my DVR (58A: Browning who directed "Dracula," 1931), waiting me to have a creepy horror movie binge sometime this month. I'm always happy to see MOA (21A: Extinct kin of the kiwi), as extinct N.Z. birds make me happy (still haven't seen HAAST'S EAGLE yet, but I hope to someday—those suckers were massive. Pick-up-a-MOA-and-fly-off-with-it" massive. The clues on AMAH (64A: Eastern nanny) and FEZ (63D: Moroccan topper) are straight out of the mustiest of crossword cupboards. I have nothing more to say about this puzzle. Congrats to crossword phenom Joon Pahk who won of "Jeopardy" for the third time last night. He was partially pre-empted by the sad news of the death of Steve Jobs, but CBS returned to regular programming in time for Final Jeopardy (one of the easiest ones I've ever seen—answer: Don Quixote), which Joon and the others all got right. Joon, who was leading before Final Jeopardy (thanks to some score recalculating during the commercial break), bet the bank, so ... yeah, wow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


foodie 12:06 AM  

This puzzle needed a trip to Victoria's Secret to jazz it up..

Greg Charles 12:11 AM  

Oh, well, an easy Thursday is good for the ego. I need that when reading about your under four minutes time and comparing it to my 27.

Tobias Duncan 12:20 AM  

Considerably faster than yesterdays puzzle.
Two quick questions: How is ANON soon?
and how is ARMY host?

Went to the Taos Inn where my good friend Kiki was bar-tending so I could watch Joon.Some guy stormed off crying that it was the finals and all TVs in all bars everywhere should be tuned into some boring baseball game.One small victory for me and several other people at the bar enjoying the close score.

On the 24th I would like to play a game with you guys called "spot the Taos person". A person from Taos will be on Jeopardy! and anyone who wants to play should mute the sound during the introduction and then try to figure out which contestant inhabits the same odd town as your friend Tobias. Winner gets 15 innernets.

lit.doc 12:31 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
lit.doc 12:35 AM  

By the clock, an easy Thursday for me. It’ll be interesting to see how Rex scores it. Unusually good multiple-part joke theme, because I just couldn’t get any traction from it till near the end. Excellent work, Mr. Arbesfeld.

And wasn’t Joon P. good and gutsy tonight on Jeopardy? My totally-chickenshit-because-I-wasn’t-under-preasure comment of the day: I would have come in close behind him. Don Quixote was a total gimme.

Embarrassing full disclosure: I taught The Scarlet Letter for like five years in a row, and I needed a few crosses before I could come up with Hester’s last name.

(re previous deleted comment, what, has my computer been drinking too?)

Jo 12:40 AM  

I'm just getting to the point where I can sometimes finish a Thursday puzzle without having to Google anything, and I finished this one in about 8 minutes -- definitely easier than the usual Thursday.

An ARMY is a host in phrases such as "the heavenly host" or "a host of opportunities" -- meaning a bunch of, rather than particularly warlike, IMHO And I only hear ANON for soon in archaic speech, such as "I shall be with you anon."

lit.doc 12:44 AM  

@Tobias, Romeo and Juliet (2.2), in response to her nurse's summons. Juliet: “I come, anon. . . . By and by, I come”.

anti cantbe michaels 1:54 AM  


STILL haven't had a chance to watch and thank god I don't mind spoilers bec every email I open, there is something about his spectaculr run which I hope never ends!

I like that Alan Arbesfeld (AA) followed yesterday's AA rebus puzzle.

Normally AA can do no wrong in my book, he is one of my favorite constructors and I love his themes, but a quote joke, about old fashioned underwear no less on a Thursday does seem terribly lame
(I am hesitant to use the word limp anywhere near men's briefs, esp after the BOOBJOB discussion)

BUT I was perversely tickled by HEHHEHS and EGG on one's face, walways love ERSATZ and EVANESCE was rather sophisticated in the midst of whatever.

Tho, without AGUE and EVANESCE this was a Tuesday puzzle, no?
Overall, between baseball and underpants jokes, the boys have continued to be in charge...

At least you have Sylvia SYMS and RUTH Gordon lurking about to balance it all out...not!

Maybe I'll try and construct a puzzle with a knock knock joke!

chefwen 1:58 AM  

Easiest Thursday puzzle I have seen in quite a while. Only write overs were NEUMAN over NEwMAN, TOD over TOm, and SYMS over SaMS. Don't know where the Sams came from, must be some actress named Sams.

Joon is on a roll, GO JOON!

JaxInL.A. 2:01 AM  

I love @foodie's idea odd sending the briefs out for some Secret sauciness. Flew through this in one of my fastest Thursdays ever.

Coolest word in the grid, though, is ERSATZ. Love that TZ at the end.

RIP Steve Jobs. My iPad is what got me into daily solving and coming here, so I owe him a lot. Sad to think what else he and his crew might have given us if he had had another 20 years.

syndy 2:01 AM  

Hardly a thursday at all.18 minutes one fingered.3 write overs;err/yaw,hester/prynne and mud/egg.would have liked to have liked EVANESCE but couldn't. sorry to hear about Steve Jobs-

jae 3:09 AM  

Much easier than yesterday's which wasn't that tough. So, a lame Tues. maybe?

@chefwen -- That would be Emma SAMS.

jae 3:15 AM  

@ chefwen -- Make that Emma SAMMS. Sorry about that.

chefwen 4:10 AM  

@jae - Thank you, I knew I had heard that name somewhere, probably in one of the thousands of issues of People magazine that I have devoured, someday I will break that habit, but I don't see that happening soon. An addiction is an addiction. I can think of worse.

Gareth Bain 6:11 AM  

Read about those eagles, they're fricking insane! What's up with NZ's avi-fauna: factor in the extant KEA parrot that preys on sheep!! (Way cooler than any lame volcano)

Didn't think much of this quip, but janee.

Also @ACM's knock-knock joke deserves a rimshot!

Gareth Bain 6:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
SethG 6:52 AM  

Solved last night, forgot theme by this morning. Oh, that's why.

Apparently, you can still buy BVDs, at JCPenney. From Warren Buffet.

Z 7:30 AM  

What's it say about my Nerd card that Alfred E NEUMAN and Christopher PIKE are total gimmes, but I needed five crosses to dredge up with Hester PRYNNE? Especially considering we had a long dinner discussion about her less than 6 months ago.

Random sentence puzzles - not my idea of quality puzzling. Give me random obscure aria's, dead pop musician's from before my birth, and small European tributaries any day.

dk 7:45 AM  

So Tobias, I ski in your town, collect the photos of Chuck Henningsen, blah blah or YADA YADA. In sum much joy to be found in Taos.

We would play guess who is the Sante Fe resident while BASKing in the SF square. Imagine my surprise when I moved to Maine and my neighbor came over to introduce himself. He dressed like he just stepped off gallery row (tight black attire resplendent in silver). Called my NM pals and kin to say I have got a winner.

The puzzle... The Snidley Whiplash laugh and Hester PRYNNE both warrant a star.

One of my former co-workers once remarked that she would like to see the BRIEFs under a certain atty's LAWSUIT and I am a fan of tight whities (TMI fur sure). Of course a bad joke is always good.

Sorry rambling.

** (2 Stars) this one need some lift and separation -- cross my heart,

joho 8:14 AM  

You'd really have to love the "joke" to love the puzzle.

It just seemed a little dusty with old references: Alfred E. NEUMAN, SIAM, TWA, MOA, Ruth GORDON, TOD Browning, Sylvia SYMS, Hester PRYNNE, ANON and URIEL. The line, "But will it play in PEORIA?" is out of an old movie, too, I think.

EVANESCE sparkles and HEHHEHS is light and funny.

In the end, it was just too easy for a Thursday.

Joon continues to surprise! He has nerves of steel and guts that bring glory. Can't wait for tonight!

efrex 8:21 AM  

Arbesfeld's puzzles are rarely my thing, although this was super-easy for a Thursday, and significantly easier than yesterday's. I don't mind silly jokes once in a while, but there's a whole mess o' crud fill. On the other hand, Alfred NEUMAN is always welcome in my puzzle. Not much else to say on this one

jp 8:42 AM  

I don't get why NEUMAN is the answer for "mad face?" Can anyone explain?
Had ARIEL instead of URIEL in 25 D so technically it is a DNF.
Otherwise I agree with everyone else that this was a very easy Thursday. Also the "joke" is no joke.

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

@jp Alfred E NEUMAN is the trademark face of Mad Magazine.

tptsteve 8:54 AM  

@JP- Alfred E Neuman is the face of Mad Magazine.

Couldn't think of BVD's for the life of me. Never seen 'em. Only time I eve recall a reference to them is in a song by Tom Lehrer, and I think he refers to ones made of lead.

ArtO 9:01 AM  

@jp Alfred E. neuman was the face of Mad magazine.

jberg 9:05 AM  

@tptsteve - Yeah, it's a song about fallout in the desert. Can't remember it all, but the operative lyrics go:

"I'll put on my sombrero,

And of course I'll wair a pair o'

Levis over my lead BVDs."

I think the BVDs are rhymed with "The Wild West is Where I Want to Be," the title of the song.

Aside from that, what everyone else said. And notice that he's dissing us all at 40D!

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

Can someone explain 56 down, why host is army!

jesser 9:10 AM  

@Tobias: The Taos Inn was my hangout. Ruthie and Dana used to serve me Pacificos late into the night on a regular basis. I'm jealous.

JOON RULES! That was so much fund to watch! Again!

I liked the puzzle a Lot More than Rex did, and although I'm a Hanes man, I sure liked the BVD ad in the blog today. Woot! Woot!

RUTH Gordon in 'Harold and Maude.' Need I say more? Fantastic!

Only writeover was cAddy before VALET at 53D.

I did not think the joke was anemic. I laughed, and I will tell it a few times today.

My only nit is the clue/answer for 49D, because whether you're late on your payments has no bearing on whether you are IN DEBT. Most of us know this, for we have mortgages!

jackj 9:14 AM  

Alan Arbesfeld dredges up a hoary chestnut, not previously exposed to anyone over the age of eleven but, when melded with some very clever cluing, also gives us an “A level” Thursday puzzle to enjoy.

You know it will be a fascinating magic carpet ride just by looking at five of the first 6 clues and answers which give us YAW, INNATE, BASK, PEORIA and ANTI. That’s primo wordplay and, then throw in a few golden oldies, like URIEL, MOA, AMAH, STENS and FEZ and its clear that Alan is determined to satisfy a hungry horde with an old-school stew.

I remember the joke from what seems light years ago and always felt its punch line of BRIEFSWEREFILED was really just a setup line and it begged for a real knee slapping ending, (though I have no idea at all as to what that ending might be).

Thanks, Alan, for a trip down memory lane with the old reliable tighty- whities; you could have just given us a wedgie.

Jim 9:14 AM  

RIP steve jobs -- clearly an American visionary. I'm no warer carrier for Apple, oe Jobs' business strategy. -- capitalize on the laziness, smugness and clique-iness of American consumers, but I must say it pleases me to no end it banished miss Alaska to the third page of the national section.

I guarantee all Apples, like facts, are now banned from the Branch Palinian compound.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

@Jim - how do you find a way to rant about Palin from this puzzle or this discussion?

Jus wonderin'

chefbea 9:34 AM  

Cute puzzle

What is Lan??

@Rex..your haast eagle should have been in yesterday's puzzle.

quilter1 9:36 AM  

Very easy Thursday and I enjoyed it, silly joke and all. In Des Moines the tradition for trick or treat is that you have to tell a joke to earn your treat. When I was young we also learned songs and poems to get our treats. So once a year I get to hear the silliest jokes between six and eight p.m.

As to Joon betting the bank, we always wonder why everyone doesn't bet it all on the final. Lots of people could have won but lost because of not betting enough. We get Jeopardy at 3:30 p.m. so I don't have to wait so long.

JC66 9:37 AM  

@ JaxInL.A. or anyone else who can help.

I pay to have the NYTimes delivered and have been doing the puzzle online for years using Across Lite (no additional cost).

I just got an iPad2 and can't figure out how to do the puzzle on it.

Suggestions, please.

evil doug 9:53 AM  

E-mail Steve Jobs and ask him.


evil doug 10:03 AM  

I enjoy the occasional quote or joke since there's no easy pattern allowing answers to fill themselves.

If the wind is blowing an aircraft off-course, the pilot adds rudder---yaw---to correct back on course. So I started with "err" in 1 across before yada became apparent....

George: Listen to this. Marcy comes up and she tells me her ex-boyfriend was over late last night, and "yada yada yada, I'm really tired today." You don't think she yada yada'd sex?

Elaine: (Raising hand) I've yada yada'd sex.

George: Really?

Elaine: Yeah. I met this lawyer, we went out to dinner, I had the lobster bisque, we went back to my place, yada yada yada, I never heard from him again.

Jerry: But you yada yada'd over the best part.

Elaine: No, I mentioned the bisque.

Just kidding about Steve Jobs---couldn't resist the softball. I admire anyone who keeps the American Dream of vision, innovation and creativity alive. As the U.S. becomes more and more service-centered instead of production-based, and hands-on work is outsourced to the rest of the world, it's sad to lose someone who deserves to be remembered with Edison, Ford and the Wright boys.


foodie 10:06 AM  

Picture this: It's 50 some years ago, a smart and driven guy from a third world country comes to the US seeking higher learning, meets an equally smart young woman who has a relationship with him in spite of religious differences (as the guy is Moslem). They beget a male child. Said man disappears from his child's life, to his great loss as the son goes on to change the world.

President Obama? Check...

Steve Jobs? Check...

If you have a moment and have not seen it before, it's worth taking a look at Jobs' Stanford Graduation speech on U Tube... One of the best I've heard.

Sorry, Rex, for being off the underwear topic. Does it help the relevance that I solve and comment on a Mac?

Norm 10:08 AM  

@chefbea LAN = Local Area Network, a typical workplace computer network

Lindsay 10:19 AM  

Shout-out to my little dog HESTER. The shelter from which she was adopted had been calling her by the name of an animated Disney character, but that wasn't going to cut it in this house.

As for the puzzle, it didn't really have an NYT vibe. Certainly not a Thursday vibe.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

JC66 said...

@ JaxInL.A. or anyone else who can help.

I pay to have the NYTimes delivered and have been doing the puzzle online for years using Across Lite (no additional cost).

I just got an iPad2 and can't figure out how to do the puzzle on it.

Suggestions, please.

Across Lite won't work on the iPad.

There is an app for the NYTimes crosswords on the iPad. Just search for 'crossword' at the iTunes store. It costs around $25 for a year. I find it awkward to use, but maybe that's just me.


Two Ponies 10:31 AM  

Puzzle was so-so and the joke wasn't particularly funny.
I think I am distracting by the way-too-soon passing of Steve Jobs.
I am also distracted by the amazing Joon Pahk. Crosswordese served him well last night. Two of his answers were nave and newt (clued by eft). I was on the edge of my seat when he bet it all and Lost it all at one point. Don Quixote was too easy. One of the people spelled it Quijote. Is that legit? Tonight should be fun.

David 10:37 AM  

I'm usually not a fan of joke or quotation puzzles - this one was kinda cute, and as many have noted, very easy. I beat my Thursday record handily, about 7 mins 25 seconds.

Only BRIEF drama on the Scarlet Letter heroine was Hester or Prynne, but just one cross took care of that. Enjoyed the top middle with INNATE, PEORIA and NEWMAN. Otherwise, standard stuff.

Joon!!!! Rumba!!!! Bummed I'm gonna miss tonite's show, heading to my son's Open House.....

hazel 10:47 AM  

@jc66 - Don't get that one! i had it and hated it!! I like Crosswords by Standalone. Search the Appstore for it - you get access to tons of puzzles, if you have subscrip. to NYT, the program will load that one automatically (free) when the puzzle is released each night, you can sign up for an automatic BEQ subscription (nominal fee), YADA YADA YADA i think the app costs about $10, but is a great investment in solving pleasure!

email me with q's.

JaxInL.A. 10:52 AM  

@JC66, this will be long but, I hope, informative.  You have a few options for iPad solving, all if which involve going to the App Store, downloading an app, and then entering your subscription data.

1) Download the free Magmic software that is the official NYT-sponsored application. The software is very limited in features and functionality compared to Across Lite, but I use it every day because I started with it before I learned better and now it's habit.

2) Download the free "Crosswords" app.  As far as I understand, this is the Apple version of Across Lite and will give you the familiar interface,  Crosswords has the advantage of also automatically downloading other puzzles. I get The Onion, Chronicle of Higher Education, Jonesin', InkWell and others this way without having to think about it too much. I have to go to every day to retrieve the L.A. Times puzzle which I then solve in Crosswords.  To the best of my knowledge, Crosswords will only handle .puz files.

3) Download the free "Crux" app. This one can handle files in both .puz and .jpz formats. The latter is newer and, I'm told, can support more functionality for puzzles.  In any case, .jpz has become the standard format for puzzles from the CrosSynergy syndicate which provides the daily Washington Post/Houston Chronicle puzzles, among others.  I don't like the interface as well as Crosswords. It only displays on the iPad vertically, the fonts are smaller, and i don't care for the way that it displays the clues crossing the one I'm working on.  It's the only way I can do the WashPost puzzle,though, so I use it.  It also downloads scads of free puzzles like the ones I name above and more.  You have to retrieve each set of puzzles from within the app, an extra few steps that I don't have to take with Crosswords.  

For a discussion of puzzle formats and the future of crossword software, check out this post from Amy 
(@Orange to most of us) from back in April.  I'm sure that you can find more on this topic at Cruciverb or, but this is where I learned about the issue.

So on days when I can get to three puzzles or more, I use three different programs.  Good luck with finding a system that works for you, @JC66. Let me know what you work out.

How do other electronic solvers handle the issues of which platforms to use?

archaeoprof 10:52 AM  

Almost too easy. Just one writeover: aRIEL/URIEL.

"Host" = ARMY is common in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.

@Foodie: two _great_ comments today. Can we hope for a third??

JaxInL.A. 11:03 AM  

P.S. In a reverse from my usual experience, today's L.A. Times puzzle is nice and crunchy, compared to today's NYT. Fun little theme, with clues for both young and old. Get it at

Chip Hilton 11:16 AM  

@Foodie: Fascinating comment on President Obama & Steve Jobs.

Ho hum puzzle, but I kinda liked the joke.

If Joon goes on to be a 48-time champion (not out of the realm....), the Rumba ruling will be to him as the Granderson catch was to A.J. Burnett.

NOT evil doug 12:08 PM  

This lawsuit may lead to a BOXER rebellion. Anyway, there was a CRACK in the case today.

Masked and Anonymous 12:08 PM  

@jackj--Yeh, agree. Needs another theme line added, to really light things up.

"Many drafts ensued" = 16 letters. Nope.
"Dramatic Courtroom Exposures" = way too many letters. Nope.
"Soft Underbelly Revealed" = Ditto.

C'mon, gang. Let's do this.

Oh, BTW... great puz. (I'm keeping it brief.)

Mel Ott 12:20 PM  

At 9D I thought we might be playing fast and loose with singular-plural again and that the answer might be EARPLUGS.

Haven't read Mad since the 1950's - thought Alfred E. was NEWMAN.

I had an Australian acquaintance who always used to say, upon parting, "See you ANON."

Shamik 12:21 PM  

@dk: "lift and separate...crossmy heart" hahahahahahahahahaha

At 5:50 this was my second easiest Thursday puzzle since I've been tracking my time. And definitely old school. We were only missing crossing a southeast Asian monetary unit with an African food fish. Meh and double meh.

Congrats to Joon although I haven't seen a single Jeopardy. Thunder/dust storm caused the Dish box to have to reformat. Our daughter had 92 hours worth of programs saved...including all Jeopardy shows she hadn't seen yet. Good reformatted and we can watch again. Bad news...all those 92 hours gone. Great news...the freedom from having 92 hours of programming to watch. Best news: I got a full time job!

Cheerio 12:31 PM  

I had some trouble in the lower half actually. I hadn't heard of mashie or BVD, and it didn't occur to me that "he" could be spelled "heh," and I didn't see Host = Army for a long time. But I got TSE off the S, which made me feel like I know my cross-wordese.

Two Ponies 12:33 PM  

My earlier comment disappeared.
What I said was that crosswordese was on Joon's side last night.
Two answers were nave and newt (clued with eft).
I about cried when Joon bet it all early in the game and lost! Great comeback to victory.
One person spelled Quixote as Quijote. Is that an acceptable variation?

Rob C 12:38 PM  

@Two Ponies...Quijote seems to be a Spanish spelling/variation - Looked it up last night when it happened b/c I had the same question.

quilter1 1:04 PM  

Joon has a guest puzzle on BEQ's site today.

repsy: the dyslexic spy strikes again.

600 1:10 PM  

Fastest time ever on a Thursday. My only slow down was putting HESTER before PRYNNE, but as soon as I got to one cross, that was fixed.

I agree with @archeoprof: @Foodie is coming through today. Love the info about Steve Jobs and the comparison to President Obama. I didn't know those things about Steve Jobs.

@Evil Doug--I don't care if you were kidding. Not a welcome reaction to a 56-year-old's death from pancreatic cancer.

@NOT Evil Doug--your puns made me smile more than the puzzle joke did. Thanks.

Jonathan 1:23 PM  

Pace Foodie, I fail to see the importance or relevance of facile comparisons between Steve Jobs and President Obama.

Best regards - Jonathan

tptsteve 1:38 PM  

@quilter1- why don't people bet it all on final jeopardy? Think Cliff Claven

hazel 1:43 PM  

Lame. Corny. Puerile. Ugh. that's what i thought about the joke. And the poor puzzle had to give up a lot to accommodate such unfunniness.

@lindsay - can't really imagine what kind of vibe this puzzle DOES have! Agree its not NYT and really not from this century.

@evil - i'm going to have to second the TSK - kind of cold. good on you, though, for the followup OBIT....

@foodie - I found that "facile" comparison quite interesting!

Chip Hilton 2:10 PM  

When Cliff saw his dream board, highlighted by the category Celibacy, and said, "I'm feeling lucky!" I remember laughing almost as loudly as I did when he spoke the immortal words, "There are no Jews in Borneo, you moolyak!"

chefbea 4:07 PM  

At Norm thanks for the explanation

long suffering mets fan 4:09 PM  

I just despise puzzles with 5-7 lines of fill in the joke, fill in the quotation, fill in the speech, fill in the garbage

Hand up for PRARIE before PEORIA

Isn't Joon phenomenal? what a brilliant mind and he seems like a great guy as well
At this rate, he'll be so independently wealthy that we'll lose him as a puzzle constructor. Hopefully, since Will apparently has many months of puzzles in advance, he'll be able to blow the dust off of a few that Joon has already submitted.

diane 4:11 PM  

@JC66 - I use the Magmic iPad app and subscribe to the puzzle. It's a bit clunky to use. I sometimes clear & redo a Monday puzzle immediately and it takes just under 4 minutes to enter, when I pretty much remember every answer. So you probably can't go for speed. But I use it every day and I have access to puzzles going back 3, 4, 5 maybe years. (so I can do early-week puzzles on Fridays and Saturdays) I have to subscribe through the app as I have no other NYT subscription service. You can try it out for free (for a week maybe).

It also works on my iPhone.

Sparky 4:14 PM  

Podunk before PEORIA, Hester before PRYNNE and nose at 60D. DNF, small lacunae in SE. I confess I don't get the joke. Shouldn't it be filled? And I couldn't dredge up BVDs from memory; wanted Leggs. Ah well.

Great save for Joon.

JC66 4:17 PM  

Thanks Evil, Hazel and JaxInL.A.

I'll check out ALL your suggestions.

evil doug 4:35 PM  

Celebrate mortal life, and Mr. Job's many accomplishments.

Celebrate the end of his suffering. If he was in as much pain as my dad was, dying of malignant melanoma that had metastasized into his spine at 59, then the peace of death can be welcome. Or when I had to make the call, at 26, to let nature take its course when my mom suffered from an aneurysm in her brain and subsequent pneumonia. I suspect Steve is now in a place where he'd enjoy a little humor at his expense; I know it helped me get through that stuff.

Best of all, celebrate the eternal life to come.

Lighten up, Francis; it was just a little joke....


foodie 4:41 PM  

My apologies, once again, as this is not about the puzzle. So, for those of you who get annoyed by off-topics, you are now duly informed.

@ Jonathan, I know I did not explain my reasons for finding these parallels interesting. So, if you care to know, here they are. First, as an immigrant, I often think about how amazing it is that this country offers opportunities to people from all over the world, and by that I don't just mean the government, but especially the American people. Foreigners who come here whether temporarily or permanently don't live in an enclave, but actually build relations,deep friendships, get married and have children with "native" Americans-- these two cases in point. In turn, I feel that this openness transforms and enriches this country for generations to come-- again, these two cases in point. And the fact that Steve Jobs father came from a town in Syria that I know well has led me to stop and think about what he would or would not have accomplished had he lived there.

The other reason is more professional. I am very interested in the interplay of genes and environment and their impact on development of brain and behavior. These two men are an interesting mix of an obviously talented genetic pool, some adversity that results from being "given up" by at least one biological parent, but that was more than made up for by people who loved them, raised them and gone to bat for them. In the case of Steve Jobs, it was his adoptive parents. In the case of President Obama, it was his mother and grandparents. And I wonder if the mix of adversity and support can actually be more inspiring than a more perfect life (if such were possible). Anyhow, I hope that neither men would find (or would have found) the comparison anything but complimentary.

@JaxInLA, Archaeoprof, Hazel, Chip Hilton and 600, thank you :)

long suffering mets fan 4:42 PM  

@David -- go to you tube, enter Joon Pahk jeopardy and go to geeewhiz's page and he's got all of Joon's appearances split into each half of the show

@Foodie -- RIP Steve Jobs great comparison between he and Obama but you forgot one more similarity -- Steve Jobs created tens of thousands of jobs and Obama uh, well, um yeah still has no clue about a successful free market economy...

BTW, Forbes magazine just rated the #1 country's economy in the world to be..... Canada its an interesting read to discover how Canada does it right and how it differs from the USA-- #10 on the list due to heavy government intervention, regulations, and taxation not to mention heavy debt and the banking crisis mainly precipitated by the government strong-arming banks to make mortgages to those who shouldn't get them because everyone in America deserves to be a homeowner -- thanks misters Dodd & Frank

long suffering mets fan 4:51 PM  

@evil -- my condolences to you for losing mom and dad way too early and to you for having to make that decision at such a young age

they, including my mom, are all in a far better place

sanfranman59 4:54 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 12:04, 19:09, 0.63, 2%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 6:08, 9:20, 0.66, 2%, Easy

This has been quite a roller-coaster ride of a week with the puzzles with regard to relative difficulty. Both Tuesday's and today's puzzles have close to the lowest median solve times in the 2+ years I've been collecting data. Monday's was at the opposite end of the spectrum and yesterday's also had quite high solve times for a Wednesday.

As was the case with Jeff Dubner's Thursday puzzle two weeks ago, today's puzzle has lower ratios than all but a few of the 700+ puzzles in my spreadsheet.

archaeoprof 5:07 PM  

@Foodie: great stuff. You're 3 for 3, batting 1.000!

Z 5:08 PM  

"I guarantee all Apples, like facts, are now banned from the Branch Palinian compound" - Good Line.

The NYT is on my doorstep every morning with most important news organized in easy to understand categories. No search algorithm "optimizer" track which stories I read. I also pay for the Detroit Free Press to be delivered three days a week by their carrier and four days a week by USPS. Besides local coverage, a semi-decent comics section, and some pretty good columnists, I also get the LAT puzzle, the Newsday puzzle, some other puzzle of unknown origin, a Bridge column, Kakuro, Sudoku, two KenKens, and several other puzzles I never do. The puzzle pages alone are worth my $1. And all I have to do is open my door. Are there any iPad, iPhone, Android, OSX, or Windows 7 apps that do all that?

geordiegirl 5:41 PM  

@Mel Ott - I grew up in England, where people used to say "See you anon" all the time. It would be interesting to know if they still do. And since it's an Australian locution, too, that makes me think the expression is a Britishism.

Anonymous 6:05 PM  

Super easy Thursday. Disappointing. Still don't see how you could finish in 4 minutes. I can't even write that fast.

Stan 7:02 PM  

Not crazy about the theme. The briefs punchline is not lame, IMO, but tame. I also don't find bras, panties, thongs, jockstraps, or boxers inherently risible. To me, they're just laundry.

But I enjoyed doing the puzzle and the joke was way better than many quote-puzzles I have done. The fill had some cool words and crosses, like BASK/KITE (that K took me forever), M AND M/MARS, and EVANESCE/ERSATZ. (For a while, I confidently thought EVAPORATE, which didn't even fit...)

Overall, a good Thursday.

@foodie: Wonderful comments.

Stan 7:10 PM  

@Z: I'm with you about wanting to pick up my physical newspaper in the morning from my doorstep (or floating in a puddle in the yard -- the Times does a good wrapping job). But I'm afraid we are about to join the MOA and dodo...

Z 8:02 PM  

@Stan - Possibly. Or possibly print journalism will successfully move from an advertiser funded medium to a user funded medium, while enough people become so distressed by the invasive overreach associated with using the web that they choose to pay for the privacy and ease of use of the hard copy, making local and national newspapers a widely available niche item.

DBGeezer 8:03 PM  

I tried PANAMA instead of PEORIA for Middle / Central America.

And aren't BVDs expensive British automobiles?

Stan 8:16 PM  

@Z: Your scenario would certainly be great with me!

mac 8:38 PM  

Very easy puzzle, but I had to work on that joke, never heard it before. I think my favorite work in the thing was "bask".

@foodie: spot on, as usual!

@Stan: liked your laundry comment!

nycscott 8:40 PM  

Crossworders of all levels, I'm sure, have seen "Start of a quip" puzzles, though I haven't seen one in quite a while. I hate "Start of a quip" puzzles, and making this one a "Start of a silly underwear joke" puzzle didn't lessen my general dislike, despite getting through it okay. I really am not complaining though; the puzzle was still enjoyable. It's just not my favorite theme, that's all.

fergus 9:07 PM  

Serious reading on the blog today.

3 things: Jobs and death with dignity; assimilation; some undercurrent of agitation in a nascent class war ....?

I mispelled Prairie just to make it fit my Midwestern nostalia.

JC66 9:47 PM  


Evan K. 9:51 PM  

I was VERY disappointed by the mediocre and straightforward cluing today, and I was able to get significant traction on the theme entries with very few crosses. Felt more like a Tuesday.

JC66 9:51 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
sanfranman59 12:20 AM  

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 7:43, 6:51, 1.13, 94%, Challenging (8th highest median solve time of 119 Mondays)
Tue 6:57, 8:54, 0.78, 3% Easy (3rd lowest median solve time of 120 Tuesdays)
Wed 13:00, 11:52, 1.10, 75%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 12:17, 19:10, 0.64, 2%, Easy (3rd lowest median solve time of 121 Thursdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:17, 3:40, 1.17, 95%, Challenging (7th highest median solve time of 119 Mondays)
Tue 3:41, 4:35, 0.80, 2%, Easy (2nd lowest median solve time of 120 Tuesdays)
Wed 6:36, 5:51, 1.13, 86%, Challenging
Thu 6:04, 9:20, 0.65, 2%, Easy (2nd lowest median solve time of 121 Thursdays)

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

Foremam fighter (ALI) was a gimme, so I got the boxers before I got the BRIEFS.

Dirigonzo 6:11 PM  

If "hindsight is 20/20" we syndicated solvers must be an eagle-eyed group as we have 5 weeks of it to HONE our perspective. It seems a puzzle predicated on a silly joke has spawned some rather serious discussion among the prime-timers. Interesting stuff, too, but then it usually is.

Let's see if there was any intersting commentary on this date 5 years ago:
- "Solving time: 21:28"
- "I think it's harder for me to appreciate a puzzle's good- or great- or badness when I do it on-line. Something about having that baby in my hands makes its features more readily apparent to me - and makes it more responsive to my will!"
- "BOGART was playing the sneaky detective, but to his detective credit, once he turned up, he solved the hell out of the whole NW corner. Thanks for the help, Bogie. Try showing up a little earlier next time."
- " Must the puzzle badger me with hateful Yankee names? Where's TED WILLIAMS or BIG PAPI or ... here's a challenge: MAGGLIO ORDONEZ. Put A-ROD away, preferably with the ASPS."
- "I predict that my fellow crossword blogger blogged this entry too. Can't resist an opportunity for meta-blogging. Blog about the blog. Bloggity blog blog blog. Seriously, couldn't someone have invented a less silly-sounding word for this thing?"
- Sadly, there were 0 comments - RPDTNYTCP was a lonely place on 11/10/2006.

Anonymous 10:20 PM  

@ Dirigonzo-- 5 years ago all us nerds were in hiding because we hadn't got our full revenge yet, like being Jeopardy champ. I should start doing the puzzle with the bunch here (see 9AM commentary), so I can chime in with things like, Alfred E. Neuman; dead ringer for every US president of the last forty years. My times could never stand up to the group, though. In my own defense, I'm usually doing these with breakfast burrito on my face and salsa smeared over one hand.

Speaking of defense, I was surprised when no one came up with another line or two for the 'joke', after 'Masked and Anonymous's plea (2:08). How about: NOENDINSIGHTYET--15 letters.

Dirigonzo 11:29 PM  

@Anonymous 10;20 PM - Truth...

Anonymous 2:04 AM  

Spacecraft here, amused by the mass criticism of today's joke-puzzle. I guess I must be witnessing the--no, no, don't say it!--Boxer Rebellion.
I TOLD me not to say that.
I know, but I just couldn't help myself.
Yes, folks, I know I'm schizophrenic--but at least I'll always have each other.

Anonymous 6:58 PM  

What was the clue for PEORIA? I'm from around there and I can't belive I missed it!

Dirigonzo 7:31 PM  

@Anonymous 6:58 PM - 15a, Symbol of Middle America.

Del Taco 9:59 PM  

relatively easy Thursday for me
27 minutes is considered a fast Thursday time for me
lame joke though

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