Actress Rue of Rules of Engagement / SAT 12-17-11 / English explorer who named Lake Victoria / TV title lawyer Stone / Scandalous 1980s inits. / Old Testament outdoorsman

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Constructor: Tom Heilman

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: John SPEKE (38A: John ___, English explorer who named Lake Victoria) —
John Hanning Speke (4 May 1827 – 15 September 1864) was an officer in the British Indian Army who made three exploratory expeditions to Africa and who is most associated with the search for the source of the Nile. (wikipedia)
• • •

Not a lot of time this morning, so this will have to be short.

Fell asleep last night before getting to the puzzle (it happens). Woke up at 5-something and immediately sat down to solve. Even in my early-morning stupor, I solved this in under 9 minutes, which is fast. Not record fast, but fast. Might have been record fast under normal (i.e. fully awake) conditions. Did the first 3/4 lightning-fast, but then slowed a bit around the, let's say, Missouri section of the grid. Stupidly wrote in ORS instead of ERS and ended up having real trouble seeing TELETYPES (39A: Fax forerunners), despite the fact that I had the first "T" *and* the "Y." Real "D'oh" moment when I finally figured it out. Also elusive in that region was LISSOME (41D: Easily bent)—I wanted FISSILE ... is that a word? ... yes:
  1. Possible to split.
  2. Physics. Fissionable, especially by neutrons of all energies.
  3. Geology. Easily split along close parallel planes.
[Latin fissilis, from fissus, split. See fissi-.]

Easily bent, easily split. You can see my confusion. Or I can see it, at any rate. Also had trouble seeing GET TIRED, as I wanted TATTERED (37D: Run down). Everything else was a snap. Oh, I wrote in PANAMA pants at 18A: Kind of pants. So that happened.

To be brief: this is a very nice grid. High word count (70) means a very smooth grid. Grid is anchored by some lively long answers: QUICK FREEZE (23D: Way to preserve food freshness) and "I'M JUST SAYIN'" (11D: "That's my two cents"). To be clear, the latter is Great as an answer, but truly horrendous as a thing to say. It's worst when the "I'M" is dropped and it appears at the end of whatever it is you are just saying. It reads like a "f#^% you." You aren't "just sayin'," you are saying whatever you're saying in a way that is smug and condescending and cowardly. The phrase (particularly as a sign-off) is the hallmark of the person who has no ability to fashion a legitimate argument and is afraid of confrontation. It's absolutely false humility. You should never use it. See also "'Nuff said," also revolting.

  • 20A: Winner over NYY in the 2001 World Series (ARI) — first answer in. Huge gimme. That series is legend—one of the best ever played.
  • 26A: Old Testament outdoorsman (ESAU) — that's a new way of describing him. "Let's finish our pottage and then ... fly flishing!"
  • 44A: Heroince of Bulwer-Lytton's "The Last Days of Pompeii" (IONE) — Between Bulwer-Lytton and SPEKE and DISRAELI (6D: Powerful friend of Queen Victoria), this puzzle has a very Anglophilic vibe.
  • 53A: TV title lawyer Stone (ELI) — Good to be able to rack up these 3-letter gimmes. Never saw this show, but know that it's an ELI clue. As for the SARA clue ... ???? (1D: Actress Rue of "Rules of Engagement")
  • 57A: Rum-flavored desserts (TORTONIS) — Never had one. Not a big rum-flavored dessert fan. Rum-flavored rum, on the other hand ...
  • 54D: One guilty of pseudologia (LIAR) — sounds like a bad disease.
  • 45D: Dos for dudes (STAGS) — thought "Dos" referred to hair and so had SHAGS (?!).
  • 8D: Scandalous 1980s inits. (PTL) — another very early entry. Got it without crosses. Considered SDI, but didn't think that was "scandalous" enough. This is a clue that will be much easier for the over-40 set. If you didn't live through the whole stupid PTL scandal, how in the world would you know about it? They're not teaching that *$&% in school, are they?
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 8:10 AM  

You know what else they're not teaching in school? Chronology. Yup, the passing of years, in order, as a way of determining what was first vs what came later has been stricken from the curriculum. As an example:

Telefax - First use 1865.
Teletype - First use, 1911.

This was for Mr. Emba, as I assume he's tired of making this correction for the umpteenth time.

Joe 8:18 AM  

As a baseball non-fan, my one wrong letter was our fearless leader's big, fat, first-thing-in-the-grid gimme. Is that A even close to inferable if you don't know a damn thing about baseball? Or pianists? Answer: No, it is not. Shenanigans!

dk 8:21 AM  

I am first: Just sayin.

We have turned that phrase into a running joke. My rescue pals and I will spew forth a venomus diatribe (JAPERY) and close with: IMJUSTSAYIN.

My sister is a bee rancher so I got a jump on this one.

Add 20 minutes to Rex's solve time and you got mine.

Shag for the dude do had me going until I looked at my stocking cap and said it kinda looks like a funnel and then viola - puzzle solved. GRAZIE North Face!

Off to shop.

*** (3 Stars) Grazie Tom, smooth as a nog. Just sayin.

Glimmerglass 8:22 AM  

Medium for me. Interesting commercial NE corner: ORAL rinse, ARMPIT deodorant, TIMEX claim. I liked ALL IS LOST and I'M JUST SAYIN'.

evil doug 8:26 AM  

Quite right on "I'm just sayin'." We see it here often. Maybe not anymore....

Is 'salsa dip' reduntantly repetitive? I call it salsa....

Michelle and Michelle are Americans.

John Cameron Swayze: Timex takes a licking and keeps on ticking....


evil doug 8:28 AM  

Oh: And Cream's "Disraeli Gears"---one of the all-time great albums.


dk 8:31 AM  

Well I was first until anon and Joe beat me to the punch..

@Anon my dad had this thermofax thing. It was huge and printed on this odd brown paper that had a shelf life measured in days. I do not know where it fits on your time line but I just thought I would share.

I might suggest you and Mr. Emba let go of these petty rants. i know your both intelligent but to go on and on and on about something as benign as the electronic transmission of text. Come- on. You appear as fools. I'M JUST SAYIN.

( Insert japerous chortle about here)

jackj 8:58 AM  

Tom Heilman brings things back to normal with a tough, clever, first-rate Saturday puzzle.

It is rather humbling when one, with smug certainty, writes in a two dollar word, AXILLA, learned through crosswords, for “Secret target”, only to learn that he has been gulled by Mr. Heilman who, in a classic feint, used the thoroughly pedestrian, basic answer of ARMPIT.


Retribution was soon to come though when the cynic in me saw “Outdoor dining place”, with an “M” for the first letter and, prompted by memories of my Army days, all thoughts of elegant en plein air cafes disappeared as I wrote in MESSTENT, which evened the score.

Some terrific use of “in the language” phrases; LIVESALIE, ALLISLOST and, especially, IMJUSTSAYIN, lit up the screen and, when LISSOME appeared it was like a grace note being added to this wonderful puzzle, for which I plead with Tom:


Smitty 9:28 AM  

I'm glad everyone liked this puzzle because i did too. Can't really say why, but it was a pleasing solve all the way around.

Whatever 9:32 AM  


Anyhoo, Just sayin’ is ok in my book.

Okay, venting over.

Aaaaaaaannnnndddd moving on.

That is all

Nuff said.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

Apiarist, apialist, same thing, no? Guess not, the automatic spell check for the comment box just to me no such word. And though Rex may not have had a record time today, something tells me tomorrow may be a Roger Bannister kind of day for him.....just sayin

Tita 9:40 AM  

SMOKEYS and TROOPERS abound - and now a SQUAD CAR...

Fave write-over:

Chino--CAPRI which gave me
SoLEmn before SILENT
(and me living in the same state where they were made before they became ASIAN-AMERICAN.)

Love the clue for ENCRYPT. Puzzle husband was a cryptographer in the Signal Corps.
"I wanna be a crypto-ranger - out of sight and out of danger."

Great puzzle - GRAZIE, Sr. Heilman

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

Strange week in which I solved Friday and Saturday successfully but could not finish Wednesday or Thursday.

santafefran 9:52 AM  

@evil doug, agree about SALSA DIP. You say "pass the dip" or "hand me that salsa" but no way do you ask for the SALSA DIP, unless perhaps you have had too many margaritas and mixed the two together. I was looking for something exotic like Garam Masala and so this was my last fill.

Also had PLIABLE before LISSOME (such a lovely word) and wanted the Michelle's to be OLYMPIANS even though golf isn't coming back to the Olympic Games until 2016. I'M JUST SAYIN

Looking forward to the Christmas Day drinks meet-up here in Santa Fe with dk and Tobias and any other Rexites who wanna drop by.

This puzzle took me even longer than the usual Saturday because I was enjoying several glasses of the glogg I had just made--a recent recipe in the NYT which I highly recommend.

Herr Doktor 9:52 AM  

The number one cause of ranting is heartburn. A sure cure for heartburn is ranitidine. Get some, Rex. You'll feel better.

r.alphbunker 9:57 AM  

A commendable lack of Googleable material in this puzzle. It is nice to not have the temptation to Google.

I fixed cryptographic equipment and TELETYPES in the army. Even so, my first entry for 39A was TELEgramS.

Lindsay 10:00 AM  

Had a little flashFREEZE problem. Also, my appellant from 56A received a nEw tRiAL at 17A.

I've seen the "black and white" clue before, but I always fall for it because around here SQUAD CARs are blue.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Shamik 10:02 AM  

Felt Challenging. Turned out to be Medium. Liked "IMJUSTSAYIN" because in our house, the retort is: "Don't say."

santafefran 10:05 AM  

@Lindsay--hands up for FLASH FREEZE which is the more common way of saying it, I think.

joho 10:18 AM  

This was one of those perfect Saturday puzzles that seemed impossible at first but ended up being a total pleasure to get.

I had rolEX before TIMEX! And at one point convinced myself that IMmOdEsty is a weakness for the desire to take one's clothes off.

Loved it, Tom Heilman, thank you very much!

quilter1 10:47 AM  

DNF as my stocking cap was knitted and my pants were CArgo and I was sure I was right (TAPERED? not my first or even sixth thought). So came here and got straightened out. The rest was good fun.

Going to sew some slippers for the grands now.

JC66 10:50 AM  


Me too on ShAG before STAG. Just sayin.

Two Ponies 10:55 AM  

Very nice Herr Heilman....except crossing a foreign pianist who could spell his name with any random letters crossing a baseball abbr?
Come on now. If NYY is New York Yankees why isn't the I of AZI also the team name. I cry foul.
Other than that I loved it.
@ Rex, Agree about Just Sayin but I like Nuf Said.
@ santafefran, I also wanted something like garam masala. Wish Vegas was closer to Santa Fe so I could join in on the fun.

GILL I. 11:00 AM  

Im with @joho - perfect Sat. puzzle.
I really liked all the "p" words and there seemed to be lots of them. I always think it would be fun to say "I'm an APIARIST." Or, that joke was lacking some JAPERY.
@Rex had SHAGS for dudes do's but I thought I was so clever with RODEO.
Good, fun puzzle.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

Two Ponies-
No foul. They use NYY to distinguish from the Mets (NYM). If there were only 1 New York team, it would just be NY.

foodie 11:15 AM  

Yes, very nice Saturday puzzle.


@Tita now has a puzzle husband :)

Interesting parsing of "just sayin" by Rex.. It does indicate disagreement while trying to minimize it. I usually see a little twinkle in the eye when people write it, so don't read it as passive aggressive. But I tend to bias my interpretations to the more positive. It's not necessarily accurate, just a way of looking at things--- lower vigilance, less stress on me, but it might get me killed in the jungle.

archaeoprof 11:42 AM  

Agree with @Foodie about "just sayin'." Here in the South it is always said with a twinkle, to minimize any possible offense.

But then again, here in the South, almost everything we say is meant to minimize possible offense.

@Rex: bless your heart.

archaeoprof 11:44 AM  

BTW, I liked this puzzle.

syndy 11:59 AM  

Kept trying to fit BEEKEEPER in tried to identify the rebus square-JUST SAYIN!I had a lot of write-overs ESSEN/STADT SHAGS/STAGS KHAKI/CAPRI MELBORNE/DISREALI KNITTED/TAPERED and also I don't know from TOED?Is that a golf thing? finished but took me twice as long as yesterday-anyhoo my theory is if someone is doing Saturdays in less than 10 their subconscious is doing heavy lifting-so not being fully awake could be a plus-I"M JUST SAYIN!!

mac 12:14 PM  

Lovely puzzle! Much easier for me than yesterday's.

@santafefran and @Two Ponies: Garam masala as well. Even put massalam in, but that disappeared pretty quickly. So many answers just came so naturally, including "I'm just saying". Agree with the negative feelings about that expression.

After the Peterson/Silk puzzle I did the LAT one, which was also by Doug! Good day for him.

JaxInL.A. 12:20 PM  

I battled for every square of this puzzle,often putting in word ends without knowing what the word was. Hand up for ShAG, TELEgramS, flashFREEZE, but LISSOME came from just the M. As @Syndy says, sometimes the subconscious does the heavy lifting.

Now, anyone know why the new valves and seats that I installed in the kitchen faucet taps are restricting the water flow to a trickle? Can't really afford to call a plumber. Will try re-installing for the fifth time to see if I can stumble on the solution.

Happy shopping everyone.

r.alphbunker 12:24 PM  

You might like Postel's Law:
"TCP implementations will follow a general principle of robustness: be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others."

Jon88 1:04 PM  

LIVES A LIE and LIAR in the same grid? Um ....

Tita 1:16 PM  

When you join 2 pieces of wood by driving the nail in at an oblique angle, you TOE the joint.
Usually done when you can't get a better angle on it.
Any real woodworkers here will undoubtedly have a better explanation.

Our late shed (smashed by Halloween Storm), built by non-woodworker husband, had lots of TOEd joints.

M 1:17 PM  

Loved the puzzle.

The phrase "just sayin'" is rude in my age cohort because it is a plea for mercy in anticipation of having given offense. Better to own up to what you are saying and skip the holy water.

Tita 1:19 PM  

@foodie...yes, thanks for that versatile phrase! (I had to give up my train wife, though...)

Lewis 1:32 PM  

ShAGS wouldn't fit the clue because that kind of due is unisex. I'm sorry to know this piece of information.

I loved the puzzle, loved the relative lack of Googling (as opposed to yesterday), and especially loved the misdirects:

Secret target
Record achievement
Lowest number on a clock
One in a dark suit
Feathered flier
Stretcher settings
Dos for dudes

I'm not a fast solver. I get stuck. Things come to me. This one was a joy. Thank you Tom.

Lewis 1:32 PM  

Oops -- "do" for "due"

fruitypants 1:35 PM  

I really enjoyed this one although I had QUICKPICKLE and just couldn't let it go...actually, I like it much better than QUICKFREEZE.

Justin Cey 1:36 PM  

The word "cock" is offensive because it crudely references a private part of the male anatomy.

Oh, wait, I forgot. There are other possible definitions.

jae 1:45 PM  

Yes, a very smooth easy-medium Sat.
I liked it too. I actually knew SARA Rue. I've seen her on Ferguson. But, Rex is right with ???. She is a secondary character on sit-com that has had about 4 different time slots. The best known actors on the show are David Spade and Patrick Warburton. If you want to see Patrick at his best try the Soarin' Over California ride at Disneyland.

chefbea 2:25 PM  

Fairly easy but really didn't have the time to finish cuz we're packing to go North for Xmas. Leave tomorrow before the crack of dawn.

Just read in our paper that our good friend Etta James is terminally ill with leukemia. Too bad.

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

I was in my 40's in the 1980's and had no clue what PTL scandal was all about. Had to Google it to find it was about Bakker & co. I'd say you would have to be an Evangelical Christian to know this one. I remember child abuse and day-care scandals from the 1980s, quickly followed by Savings & Loans.

treedweller 2:42 PM  

@anon 2:33
you would be wrong. I knew it, and I'm about as far from evangelical as you can get. In fact, this is probably why I took such pleasure from the PTL scandal.

just sayin.

treedweller 2:46 PM  

as in, just sayin there may be other possible explanations for your not knowing about PTL. I certainly did not mean to imply I am superior because my schadenfreude made this one accessible to me. That would also be wrong. Oh, so wrong.

Masked and Anonymous 2:54 PM  

Always good to see a happy Rex face. Just sa... naw, that's already been done to death.

NYT is about the only puz I do anymore. LA Times now has a looo(zzz)ooong commercial for you to sit thru first, so that kinda sucks. Oh yeh... Still doin' the BEQ puz -- can't forget him! That dude's the best. Just sa... oops.

RexWorld is about the only blog, too. WordPlay blog scares the bejeesus out of me anymore -- keep worryin' I'll get charged for lookin' at it, the way it keeps askin', "Are you sure you wanna look some more?" I mean, man, it's just somebody like me's comments, not a Purlitzer prize candidate. Snort.

Fave clue: "Like suckers"
Fave #31 remark: "Fell asleep...before getting to the puzzle." Har. "In the 40's", dude.

600 2:57 PM  

Anybody else lose the timer on AcrossLite? Anybody have a hint on how to get it back?

Quite enjoyed the puzzle. HTG for the meaning of manducate, but in my "rules for solving" that's okay because I learned something. The rest, though more difficult for me than for Rex, was gettable through crosses. EATS may have been too, but I looked up manducate before giving myself a chance in that section.

Also, I must admit I got lucky on the ARI ARRAU cross. I had no idea about either answer.

And I wanted clearcut for SQUADCAR. I like my answer better; where I live squad cars are not black and white, though I've certainly heard the phrase in the cop shows I occasionally watch.

Also, @archaeoprof--I agree about the twinkle accompanying JUST SAYIN. And, as a transplanted midwesterner living in the South, I've also noticed that wonderful use of "God Bless." It is possible to be considered polite while saying the meanest, most horrible things about a person if one just inserts "God Bless" or "bless her heart": Little Tommy, God bless him, he's dumb as a post. Jane Doe, bless her heart, she's such a slut. And on, and on, and on.

But I digress. I loved the puzzle, but I enjoyed nothing today so much as "You Make My Pants Want to Get Up and Dance." I've never heard it before (I think I only know Dr. Hook for "On the Cover of the Rolling Stone" and "When You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman.") The video actually did make my pants want to get up and dance, and so I did. I loved it so much I posted it to my Facebook page, and "sharing" on Facebook is something I almost never do!

So thank you, Rex. For many things, but mostly, today, for that video clip.

JaxInL.A. 3:37 PM  

Rex made my day yesterday by featuring a clip of Cesaria Evora, a soulful queen of world music (from Cape Verde, an island nation and part of Lusophone West Africa). I just heard that she passed away today. I hope that a few more people will learn of her great talent because of Rex's eclectic musical post.

loren smith 4:15 PM  

I've always kind of liked "I'm just saying." Go figure!

Rex Parker 4:59 PM  

Say or don't say. There is no 'just.'

fergus 5:00 PM  

I almost started with CURRY MIX, which would have been redundant, too.

Clark 5:10 PM  

In honor of the appearance in the puzzle (well, in the clues) of Queen Victoria, who went home after her coronation in 1837 and gave her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel a bath, I am changing my avatar back to Roxie.

Yeah! A Saturday that went down smoothly. New England was tough until I got the Secret target. Having 'agent' for while as the black suit thingy definitely got in my way.

Wood 5:16 PM  

I agree that SALSA DIP is redundant, and that I'M JUST SAYIN' is obnoxious. It seemed cute about the first hundred times I heard it, then just didn't. I agree with Rex's assessment that it's just a weak form of passive-aggression, even with a "twinkle."

This one looked grim at first. Could barely get a toehold anywhere, let alone confirming crosses. TELETYPES was my one anchor and I sloooowly built out from there. First breakthrough was JOISTS / STADT / TIMEX / I'M JUST SAYIN'. Never heard of SPEKE or TORTONI, but got them from crosses. Finished in 54 minutes, pretty good for me for a Saturday. Phew!

apiarist capri michaels 5:17 PM  

Loved IMJUSTSAYIN '!!! I thought it was a shout out to her beloved PuzzleGirl...and am genuinely surprised by this particular rant, considering it's practically her catch phrase and she is one of his favorite people!
I think i learned that phrase on this blog!
I like it, complete with twinkle and am, not surprisingly with @foodie in not looking for the insult but the humor first.

My sisteralways prefaces comments with "now don't take this the wrong way..." now THAT's one i could live without.

This puzzle much easier than yesterday's bottom half disaster for me.
I too had ShAG which i more associate with women and Austin Powers, so that gaveme pause...

Also the ER/OR thing made TELETYPE my last answer.
Spent a long time trying to remebr what those air chutes the French used to use prefax...wait, werethose called TELETYPES? They were called something French-sounding, not surprisingly.

Had the whole left side of the grid completed first and worried it was another split puzzle again...
But the XQ and Z tipped me to look for a J on the otherside and i was rewarded by finding two!
In search of a nice pangram, It helped me avoid the PAnAMA mistake, which I too considered first. It's neat that those two words are so close, and seem puzzleworthy somehow...when N becomes J...PAJAMA CANAL.
There is an idea in there somewhere tryng to get out!

Some of my best puzzle ideas are triggered from mistakes like that, so it's a real upside to not being perfect! ;)
Right @foodie?

MaryBR 5:20 PM  

Medium for me but got totally stymied in the NW where salsa dip just wouldn't come to mind (mixture was an odd descriptor, plus the redundancy). Had -AL-ADI- and still couldn't get it. -ARA Rue was a complete unknown, -TL didn't ring any bells to this 30 year old even after the reveal and I still don't get -AE. Can someone explain?

The ARRAU/ARI cross would have been annoying too, except that I believe he was in another puzzle fairly recently. Plus, couldn't think of any other baseball team whose location name started -RI.

Santafefran 5:30 PM  

SAE--self addressed envelope

jberg 5:38 PM  

Spending the day flying BO'S-BWI and back for a funeral, so commenting late. I loved it! Lots of tough spots, but satisfying to resolve.

Slowed down because I misread the
Michelles clue- thought they were 2/3ds of something like Charlie's Angels.

You can spread salsa on your meet, you can dance to it, or you can use it for a DIP. OK with me.

JFe 6:11 PM  

@600 said...
Love your comments...

Read the "God Bless" paragraph to friends and family!

jackj 6:14 PM  

I don't like SALSADIP either, but it does get 1,510,000 hits on Google and even that cooking bible of sorts,, has an entry for Salsa Dip.

Seems to make it good enough for a Saturday crossword, (with an asterisk, maybe).

Two Ponies 6:51 PM  

@ jberg, You are so right about salsa.
I could say I'm going out to get some salsa and you could ask if I was going to the grocery or the record store.
That's one reason I love hanging out with you people. I learn the darnedest things!

Santafefran 7:15 PM  

So maybe SALSA DIP is a new dance craze?

Dirigonzo 7:18 PM  

SALSADIP seems like a perfectly reasonable phrase to me - had I gotten it I would have finished the puzzle instead of *almost* finishing.

@Lindsay, I'm pretty sure the troopers who drive those blue Crown Vics don't call them SQUADCARS, they're "cruisers".

Slinking back to syndiland now - see you next week (maybe).

michael 7:33 PM  

A nice Saturday, possible but required some work. I completely agree with Rex about I'm just sayin..feel the same about the mysterious (for me as a non-Southerner) "bless his/her heart" which has always seemed to me as sending a totally mixed message because it is inevitably followed by something uncomplimentary. Doesn't soften it at all for me, but maybe for native speakers...

Not a Double Dipper 8:09 PM  


1) Buy/Make your favorite Salsa.
2) Mix with Sour Cream.
3) Serve.

evil doug 8:12 PM  

Yes, it happens so often: I'm at a restaurant and ask for some salsa---and the waiter breaks into dance. "No, no---I meant salsa DIP, senor." Then I go to a record store, ask for salsa, and they give me a jar of chip dip!

Context, people. Of course there are different meanings to "salsa"---and a majority of other English words that don't require us to redundantly over-describe them.

"I ordered some Suzette, I said
'Could you please make that Crepe?'"---Bob Dylan


Santafefran 8:46 PM  

@evil , so was your waiter doing the Salsa Dip?

Captcha: chides. I'm just sayin

TDavis 9:35 PM  

The NYY clue threw me. I can see why, on a scoreboard, they would use that abbreviation. But if a clue has the Postal Code followed by the team initial, well, I went with AZD.
Had ALL kinds of fun with that!
Otherwise, loved the puzzle!

sanfranman59 9:44 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 6:59, 6:51, 1.02, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:58, 8:52, 0.90, 20%, Easy
Wed 12:16, 11:48, 1.04, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 22:18, 19:01, 1.17, 82%, Challenging
Fri 21:56, 25:27, 0.86, 23%, Easy-Medium
Sat 26:54, 30:00, 0.90, 26%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:40, 1.04, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:35, 4:34, 0.96, 44%, Medium
Wed 6:29, 5:51, 1.11, 80%, Challenging
Thu 10:33, 9:17, 1.14, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 11:18, 12:36, 0.90, 35%, Easy-Medium
Sat 15:11, 17:06, 0.89, 30%, Easy-Medium

jae 12:06 AM  

@santafefran (filling in for evil) -- No, but he wore a powder blue cape. And, did I mention he was handsome.

Stan 1:03 AM  

@Dirigonzo and @Lindsay: Watch out for the two (TROOPER) Mustangs on the Maine Tpke. They just look like ordinary muscle cars.

Tita 1:15 AM  

" those air chutes the French used to use prefax...wait, werethose called TELETYPES? They were called something French-sounding, not surprisingly."
Do you mean pneumatic tubes? (google that term and "Stew Leonard" and you'll see a disappointing misuse by an all-American tax evasion success story.)
Is that what you mean? Or do you mean the Minitel...

Acme 1:41 AM  

merci! i WAS trying to think of minitel/pneumatic tubes!
They were still using those when everyone had moved on to faxes... Today's menopause moment conflated minitel(etype). I appreciate you wading thru all my gobbledegook to actually help me. Besos!

swimslikeafish 7:58 AM  

Given the way my workdays go, I am almost always a day late to the blog, so don't get to post because I figure y'all won't still be reading. (But that doesn't stop me from checking it out every day and enjoying it tremendously. Like cracking up about @evil's dancing waiter.)

Anyway, can't resist chiming in about SALSA. My understanding of this word in its Spanish meaning is it's like pesto or our crossword friend olio; that is, it means a mixture of some kind (literally, "sauce"), whatever works for your particular tastes or what you've got in the fridge. So SALSADIP seemed to me just wrong; though I guess I'll accept the idea that if it has sour cream in it, it's a dip -- but then the clue should have said so. Y'know, just sayin...

600 9:10 AM  

@swimslikeafish--I guarantee some of us are still reading . . .and appreciate your input.

@JFe--I'm glad you enjoyed it.

@acme and others who mentioned it--I never think of the Panama Canal without remembering "Arsenic and Old Lace" and the crazy uncle. So thanks for the memories.

Off to do today's puzzle--which I figure lots of you did last night.

Cathelou 11:35 PM  

Translation lesson for non-Southerners: "Bless your heart" means either "That's awful" or "You poor thing" OR "You should consider a brain transplant." As others have said; context is everything. Thus: "Aunt Millie let the salsa dip sit out all night and Cousin Ed nearly ended up in the hospital, bless his heart" versus "Bless her heart, Aunt Millie let that salsa dip sit out all night."

Liked the puzzle but anyone watching me solve it would say, "Bless her heart."

Simply, Ron 12:27 PM  

After reading our leader's ravings, I must admit I received a mental image of an old fashioned, bespectacled, thin lipped school marm, slapping a ruler on her desk.

Secondly, there are just "salsas" for many things, including salsas for dipping. Ergo, salsa dip is OK by me. Nothing redundant about that. Nuff said.

The term "just sayin" can be used in many ways for many reasons. I have never heard it used passive-agressively. There is almost nothing in this world that is black and white except for perhaps a squad car.

@Evil D, You & I think alike. We must be the 35th King's of something.

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

Being an Italian-American (nod to Asian Anerican), I can say with little doubt that there never was nor never will be rum in tortoni. It's made with sherry, egg yolks, heavy cream and sugar syrup.

Sage of La Mesa 2:23 PM  

@anon 1:40 Check Mirriam Webster. Tortoni: Ice cream made with heavy cream often flavored with rum. I agree, it's not the same tortoni I know.

Steve in PDX 4:18 PM  

Would a clue like this be okay?
"With 60-Across, Eddie Murphy or Samuel L. Jackson"
Not so much, I bet.

So why then, is it permissible to single out the racial heritage of the two Michelles, who are famous for being great athletes, and not for their racial makeup?


boardbtr 4:24 PM  

And from 5 weeks later, I don't recall ever hearing anyone say "I'm just sayin." Nor have I ever heard anyone refer to pajama pants.

Red Valerian 5:27 PM  

Loved it and finished it (and of course I'm not so naive as to think those are entirely unrelated).

Plunked down Abado for 5D (pianist Claudio), feeling all hoity-toity worldly. He's a violinist and his name has another B. Oh, well. Grid's a little messy, but it's right (now).

Wanted SALSAmIx for a while.

My Mom used to say "bless her pointed head," which was a sort of affectionate slap.

Anonymous 6:54 PM  

Spacecraft here. Well,ya can't please everybody. This was a Tale of Two Puzzles for me: the West, done with three Googles in the NW corner and despite starting with the actual term FLASHFREEZE in place of the made-up phrase in the answer; and the inscrutable (and totally unfinished) East.
JAPERY never occurred to me; yeah, I know it's a real word, but outside of Mr. Roget, I couldn't name five poeple who EVER used it--and neither can you. And there's
"lowest" number on a clock: I suspected a Shortzy twist on that one, but my brain just flat-out missed that turn. I should know by now: you can't drive down a snaking back road like you do on the Autobahn. And Will's Fridays and Saturdays? Hairpins, baby.
Outdoor dining place-MESSTENT.
I guess, strictly speaking...tents have FLAPS, not "doors" per se... but really. One thinks of outdoor as being, you know, outside. It's a BRUTAL clue.
And now tell me how to make the leap from "Go! Go! Go!" to FLOORIT. First of all, I'd have to leave the stadium, or arena, where I'm rooting for my team, and climb into a getaway car. What did I do, heist the gate?? Even with FLO___ in place I had no chance. Oh, and here's the sockdolager: run down for GETTIRED. No, no: run down means TIRED, not GETTIRED. Or run down means HITAPEDESTRIAN while you're FLOORingIT.
The clock clue is my bad; I'll admit I should've gotten that one. But the rest? Horrible, rotten clues; you might as well ENCRYPT the whole thing in, say, Sanskrit.

Anonymous 7:09 PM  

@chefbea 2:25 PM
just read in our paper that our good friend Etta James has died.

Steve in PDX 8:49 PM  

JAPERY is a singular noun; jests is a plural noun, or a verb.

SARA Rue, is an obscure actress who appeared in exactly seven episodes of a meaningless TV show with a two year run. Please.

ELI Stone; the name of another pathetic TV series.

It's not like there aren't any significant Eli's or Sara's to choose from.

ARD should be AZD.

QUICKFREEZE is an entirely made up phrase.

And no one in the history of tasty snackfood has ever used the phrase SALSADIP.

Secret target = ARMPIT was great!

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