Violinist Leopold / THU 12-8-11 / Old Apple product marketed to schools / Roundish with irregular border / Jason who sang I'm Yours 2008

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Constructor: Daniel A. Finan

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Say it! — theme answers have two consecutive circled squares inside them. The letters in those squares, when read out loud, provide the clue for the whole answer, e.g. "M" and "T" are circled, so when you say "M T" you essentially say "Empty," which is the clue for the entire answer: ITEM TO RECYCLE

Word of the Day: Renée ADORÉE (16A: Renée of silent films) —
Renée Adorée (September 30, 1898 – October 5, 1933) was a French actress who had appeared in Hollywood silent movies during the 1920s. [...] By the end of 1930, she had appeared in forty-five films, the last four of them talkies. That year she was diagnosed with tuberculosis, Adorée lived only a few years longer. Adorée went against her physician's advice by finishing her final film, Call of the Flesh, with Ramon Novarro. At its completion, she was rushed to a sanitarium in Prescott, Arizona, where she lay flat on her back for two years in an effort to regain her physical health. In April of 1933, she left the sanitarium. At this point it was thought she had recovered sufficiently to resume her screen career, but she swiftly weakened and her health declined day by day. She was moved from her modest home in the Tujunga Hills to the Sunland health resort in September 1933. // She died there, a few days after her 35th birthday, on October 5, 1933 in Tujunga, California. She is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, California. (wikipedia)
• • •
I've seen variations on this theme before—where circled letters are meant to be read aloud—so this theme wasn't terribly difficult to pick up, though I was all the way down the western seaboard at ABREEZE before I figured it out. I just didn't waste too much time pondering the theme until that point. MT and NV are states, and I had those first, but the state thing didn't make sense, so I just kept moving along I hit EZ. After that, the puzzle was.

While this idea is clever, the theme answers are (by necessity) a bit forced. Well, the three longer ones are, anyway—EVEN ONE and A BREEZE feel pretty natural. GREEN VICE, on the other hand, feels yucky. Yes, "envy" is a VICE, and one can be GREEN with "envy," but "envy" itself is not a GREEN VICE. When I google ["GREEN VICE"], I get all kinds of people with the last name of GREEN who are VICE presidents of something or other. Still, despite awkward definition-type answers, this puzzle was reasonably pleasurable. The grid is pretty solid, with only the bygone and barely remembered EMAC making me cringe (even though I remembered it this time). This puzzle has some interesting features, such as a set of German anagrams (NIE, EIN), and a PROSTATE. The longer non-theme fill is all wonderful, and the grid is nicely Scrabbly and still smooth. 

Theme answers:
  • 7A: EVEN ONE
  • 62A: A BREEZE

Despite a clunky start (CAVORT for PRANCE—1A: Gambol about), I finished fairly quickly, even though I lost about 30 seconds trying to track down an error. Two errors, actually. First one was stupid spelling error: SLILY and GUIANA instead of SLYLY and GUYANA (59A: Neighbor of Suriname). The second one was also a spelling error, but one that was not so easily fixed. I could not get my head around 21A: It comes in a chicken variety, even with PO- in place, and I thought the narrator of "A Clockwork Orange" was ALEC. But POC was obviously nonsense, so ... I was stuck for a bit, until I plugged in the only other letter that could plausibly complete a man's name that starts ALE-. Interesting to see AMOEBIC in the grid (3D: Roundish with an irregular border), given that various spellings of AMOEBA and its plurals show up all the time. You rarely (if ever) see the adjectival form. I mostly remembered AUER this time—I learned him a long time ago when his son (an actor) was mistakenly clued as a violinist. I remembered that he ended -ER ... but needed help with the "U." How I know Jason MRAZ is less clear to me (54D: Jason who sang "I'm Yours," 2008). Someone must have sung one of his songs on "Idol" once (or twice or thrice). That's a last name you don't forget.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


syndy 12:07 AM  

This is why I don't like circlesin my xwords-so I'm going to sat this, For he who wroteth this desecretion,let it change to a serpent in his hand and rend him,let him be struck with palsy and all his members blasted.Let him languish in pain crying out for mercy & let there be no surcease to his agony,til he sing in dissolution! or is that a tad too harsh?

Matthew G. 12:12 AM  

That photograph of Kermit smoking is the funniest thing you have ever posted with your write-up.

It made the nonsense phrase GREEN VICE so worth it.

Matthew G. 12:15 AM  

Oh, and aside from said nonsense phrase, I loved this puzzle.

pk 12:23 AM  

@syndy, sweetie, take a few deep breaths

"Frolic" for 1A will seriously slow down your solve. No correct letters there, regardless of how confident you might be, just coming home from a Christmas party. Frolic is a pretty good answer for some future puzz.

Didn't understand the "say out loud" circles at all until coming here. Thank you so much, Rex Parker!!!

chefwen 12:29 AM  

Got off on the wrong foot by (like @Rex) putting cavort in at 1A and clearer in at 1D. Wanted LEMONY for 14A but that didn't work with cavort so abandoned that area and started to work from the bottom up.

Got the theme from A BREEZE, finally arrived back to my empty NW, remembered Renee Adoree, PLAINER came into view, PRANCE worked and my LEMONY was back in favor.

Loved LC the commercial cow and loved the puzzle.

chefwen 12:33 AM  

@retired_chemist - Thanks for the explanation yesterday on the Picosecond, I'll remember that the next time my NSEC doesn't work.

Tobias Duncan 12:43 AM  

@ syndy, I just watched two Dexter's back to back.This season Edward James Olmos is a serial killing religion studies professor.Your book curse sounded vaguely biblical and gave me a bit of a shudder.
Picked up the theme early on at MT as we used that a lot in the military.What sucks is that I could not make sense of NV so I abandoned that train of thought and forgot about poor MT GRRRRRRRR.

DK If you come anywhere near Taos and dont look me up, syndy's book curse will seem mild indeed.
I have only just forgiven Quilter for not dropping by this summer.

GILL I. 12:50 AM  

@syndy -dare I ask to share whatever it is you're taking?
I really had to work hard on this puzzle but I enjoyed it.
Didn't know any of the sports clues MAV? PNC? ROY? or Jason MRAZ. Still don't understand POX - comes in a chicken variety?
Like @Rex I thought this was going to be about States. Gave up trying to figure it out but I kept myself from having a PAROXYSM.

jae 12:50 AM  

Bottom half easy, top half ouch! @pk - FROLIC did seriously slow down my solve, partly because the R worked with REDTAPE. NE was on the tough side too what with needing LA in front of RAIDERS. So, medium over all and I really liked this one. Lotsa good stuff in the grid.

foodie 12:50 AM  

Generally A BREEZE except for the NW which was the last to fall for me. It would have helped to know CNET and ADOREE.

I quite liked it, but to have the key circled letter cross abbreviations was not great.

Still, PAROXYSM and PROSTATE in one puzzle, very cool!

Did you know that TESTICLE and PROSTATE have the same number of letters? And that seX comes in a chicken variety?

Enjoying my stay in Hawaii, even though, sadly, I am on the Big Island and cannot see @chefwen. No curse, please! We have other plans!

And don't close down Rexville while I'm away!

jae 12:55 AM  

Oh, and here is a very unique version of I'm Yours

Tita 1:01 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tita 1:03 AM  

So how many 6 letter words can we come up with to mean Gambol...?
I went through cavort-->stroll-->PRANCE

Also making the NW a disaster were:

Hard one for me! But fun, despite a technical DNF. (Pie for POX - as in chicken pot pie...yum!)

Oh - one quibble - did not appreciate the gawky answer GREENVICE depending on a cager (whatever that is) and a stadium...

Miette 1:13 AM  

Chicken Pox is a virus that one usually gets as a child,although there is a vaccination for it now.

r.alphbunker 1:15 AM  

I loved this puzzle! In general I like puzzles where you have to fill in part of the grid to get the clue.

NE and MT (gotten from crosses) revealed the theme to me but the theme answers were slow in coming as the following chart indicates.

The left column is the time that elapsed between entering the first letter into the answer grid and completing the answer grid correctly.
A lower case letter means that letter was entered from a cross answer.
The fraction indicates how many letters came from crosses.

10min:19sec eVEnOne (4/7) ***
11min:11sec SlYlY (2/5)
11min:29sec ProStATE (3/8)
11min:42sec sert (4/4)
11min:44sec coRONet (4/7)
11min:46sec cREe (2/4)
11min:59sec icECapS (4/7) [had icetips]
12min:18sec GoTwoRse (5/8)
13min:45sec auer (4/4)
13min:47sec gUyAna (4/6)
13min:52sec tRysTs (4/6) [the singular and plural of rendezvous are evidently the same]
13min:54sec comMErciALcow (9/13) ***
14min:9sec reaCtOR (4/7) [wanted retina]
15min:27sec dOWsE (2/5)
15min:27sec orDErLY (3/7)
15min:33sec pnc (3/3)
15min:39sec PAroxysM (5/8)
15min:43sec lit (3/3)
15min:46sec abreeZe (6/7) ***
16min:07sec Nails (4/5)
16min:33sec greeNvice (8/9) ***
18min:23sec roy (3/3)
18min:49sec itemtoRecYcLe (10/13) ***

Rube 1:44 AM  

@PK, you did catch that the R in fRolic works. I never put it in, but was sure trying to make it fit. Hand up for cleaNER at 1D. Like many such as @jae, will declare the top as tough and the bottom as easy, resulting in an, @RP rating of, Medium.

@Foodie, you've missed @Chefwen's muffins TDF.

CoffeeLvr 2:02 AM  

@Rex, thanks for Clapton and Cale.

I was stuck in the NE, could not think of AVEMARIA and the crosses wouldn't come without it.

I caught the theme with EZ, but had to really work for the rest.

Amoebic coo-cow michaels 2:30 AM  

I'm with the FROLIC-ers...
Howdy cavorters and prancers!
Also put in ALEc, but i blame Alec Baldwin who was on my mind for getting thrown off the plane mid-Words With Friends game with me!
Puzzle was not ABREEZE but liked it a lot!

Eejit 3:20 AM  

Cool puzzle, I liked it. Didn't figure out the theme until I was 90% done. For a while I thought it was something to do with recycling because of empty and green, but that didn't make sense. But HEY, I have to go EVACuate, I RECKON my PROSTATE has GOTWORSE. I know, EWE.

Kathy 6:01 AM  

@Gill I. P. chicken pox

Whacker 7:17 AM  

This was a fun, tight puzzle.. (obviously i'm a new guy) Picked up the theme with LC the cow which was quite amusing. Stuck, not believing GREENVICE was correct.

Didn't know Schubert wrote AVEMARIA. Thought that was fascinating as he died so young at 31. What a moving piece to have written at that age.

SethG 7:50 AM  

A paroxysm is an emotional outburt. It's also an unemotional outburst.

Didn't have any initial guess at Gambol, so with AMOEBIC and ADOREE that corner was hard to piece together. Got the theme instantly in the NE, with NE, but EVEN ONE was still my last answer.

jberg 8:03 AM  

Tough till I got the theme - with NV/GREEN VICE, where I had GREE_ _ ICE, and just tried everything I could think of. Even then, I had IMAC for 9D, and it took me a while to get around that. I don't think I ever did hear of the eMac.

geneva for ZURICH, I wanted cavort but never put it in because 1D was obviously simplER. That's my one quibble, btw - PRANCE means gambol; it does not mean gambol about. Cavort or frolic do.

No more today, back to end-of-semester grading.

dk 8:07 AM  

@syndy, Please ghost write my posts.

I had just got to a place where I was preparing to commence to begin to enjoy puzzles with little tricks. Call them rebus, call them what you will. I call them poop on a stick.

I got the theme (sic) answers and still could not figure out what was up (insert change into serpent in one's hand about here). I come here happy with the fill, thinking this was an ok Thursday and then find out the theme: ISH Kabibble!

I shall not get all LEMONY. I am happy the paper had arrived so I could solve dead tree and the fill was fine and good.

So I see your PAROXYSM and SLYLY raise you a PROSTATE or...

*** (3 Stars)

Tobias, see you in a couple of weeks.

joho 8:24 AM  

I absolutely loved this puzzle.

After I got over thinking it a state-related theme with MT and NV in place, the light finally went on at LC. Having CIALCOW in the grid COMMERCIAL came easily with the R in CREE. EZ was next and NE the last to fall. What fun!

Thank you, Daniel A. Finan, for this fresh theme smoothly executed with lots of interesting answers sprinkled with scrabbly letters.

I especially liked the clue "Struggle over a purse" for PRIZEFIGHT because I envisioned two boxers fighting over a purse.

joho 8:26 AM  

Oh, @Tobias and @dk, you two should really take some pictures.

Olaf 8:27 AM  

LEMONY Snicket, anyone?

Glimmerglass 8:28 AM  

I liked all the theme answers, even GREEN VICE, because they required an extra logical step (except maybe EZ). My favorite was Elsie the Borden's COW. I was not spelling well today: ORDERLi and GUiANA.

David 8:46 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle thoroughly, and it was one of my worst Thursday times in months, all due to the NW and parts of the SW.

Another hand up for FROLIC over PRANCE - I even considered FLUIDER for 1D instead of PLAINER, just a mess. Compounding matters was once I finally crossed out FROLIC, I read PRANCE as FRANCE, and thus still kept considering FL answers at 1D.

Only issue in the SW was not getting the relatively easy PROSTATE without numerous crosses, which hid everything else, esp. as I'd never heard of MRAZ (!!).

Got the theme right in the middle with GREENVICE - NV. Theme answers were OK...I agree with Rex's comment about them seeming a bit forced, except for COMMERCIALCOW, which I love.

Rick 8:53 AM  

Curious to see a lack of comments on all of the partials? ATMSRTAEPIMPHSSNWACGPACAFXER?

Elsie 9:04 AM  

I'm a Spokes Cow. The title is Spokes Cow. Commercial as an adjective applies only to real estate.
I can't believe that idiot Shortz let such a gross grammital error through. Maybe he should retire.

GILL I. 9:24 AM  

@Miette and @Kathy: Thank you! I actually woke up at around 2AM and shouted out chicken POX...How crazy is that?
@jae: I'm still cleaning out the AM cobwebs but the YouTube clip you showed of Craig Ferguson has me laughing in my Full-CAF. Well, that and @foodie letting us know that testicle and prostate share common amount of letters.

Old Guy 9:43 AM  

I've decided that Dutch Guyana is now my favorite South American country. At least they've had the courtesy to not change their name from what I learned as a child, unlike those chump nations British Guyana and Dutch Guyana.

Years ago I worked with a tall black man from British Guyana who's father was a diplomat assigned to England for years. He went to Eaton, then Kings College. His biggest confusion on being in America was why everone assumed he could play basketball. Cricket yes, basketball not so much.

@foodie: While testicle and prostate share the same number of letters, yet I've never heard a man complain that his testicles have grown to the size of a walnut.

davko 9:44 AM  

Fun overall, but several clues seemed forced, too. Is chicken pox really a "variety" of such an affliction, like some kind of flavor on a menu? And while an amoeba may be a roundish creature with an irregular border, the adjective AMOEBIC (3D) vaguely pertain to anything resembling that organism, not necessarily those specific characteristics.

John V 9:50 AM  

Loved this one! Thanks, Daniel Finan. High points for me: AVEMARIA, PAROXYSM, EYEOPENERS, TRYSTS (did not remember that rendezvous plural is the same as singular, so that gave me a pause.)

Thought the theme was quite cool. I suppose I'd seen it before, but don't recall. Initially, I was looking for some sort of pattern in the grid/some sort of comment on the word "circle". I guessed that the 13 COMMERCIALCOW would have a CIRCLE partial in it, so that was a write-over.

Best clue: Start of a spelling? Initially thought Aaron, so neat indirection there. In general, I thought the cluing simply sparkled.

So, medium, NE challenging. Finished as we rolled through the Mott Haven wye on a bit later train.

chefbea 9:52 AM  

Didn't like the puzzle. Didn't get the theme.DNF Came here and still didn't get it. Now I do.

Never heard of paroxysm.

Sparky 10:13 AM  

Hand up for frolic which gave me REDTAPE. Then that corner came to a screeching halt till I thought of PRANCE. Found Elsie first and then botton half filled in. Little lapses kept top half unfinished. Mc (emcee) at 18A; no idea on mAv. Gave up and came here. Like PAROXYSM. EVEnONE for any doesn't make any sense to me.

I am traveling and don't know what the computer availability will be. Alas, not to Taos, @Tobias.

All in all, a good Thursday. Thanks Mr. Finan.

OldCarFudd 10:17 AM  

Like many, I found the NV hard. They were my last two letters. Didn't know Schubert wrote AVE MARIA (that's good to know) and never heard of MRAX (and still don't care). Thoroughly enjoyed LC and this puzzle.

JenCT 10:34 AM  

Liked the puzzle, though I didn't get the theme until coming here - bottom half much easier than the top.

@joho: that clue reminded me of a joke by the comic known as Ant: he called boxing the gayest sport, because it's two half-naked men, wearing silk shorts, fighting over a belt....

@Eegit: LOL

archaeoprof 10:38 AM  

Two excellent musical selections today: AVE MARIA and Clapton & Cale.

Got this one in pieces. For a while thought NE, NV, and NV might be some kind of American states theme.

@amoebic cow-cow: since it was you that Alec was playing, I'm going to switch to his side of the argument.

@tobias: a serial killing religious studies professor? That's hard to believe.

John V 10:40 AM  

@JenCT Funny boxing line. Loved it!

Tita 10:40 AM  

Fascinating the implication is that a word that required 6 crosses out of 7 was harder than a word that I got with 2 out of 7, eh?

BTW - I force-fit REtinae in for REACTOR... ;)

Lots to love in the commentary today...
Rex's Kermit pic, foodie's male anatomy mixup, but most of all, foodie's chicken seX!!!!!!

Rex 10:47 AM  

@Elsie - that's udderly ridiculous - everyone knows it should be written Spokescow...

btw, your typing is not very good - must be a b*&@h with those hooves...

--signed, notreallyRexnorTobias

Two Ponies 10:47 AM  

The NW killed me. I did not know NNET nor the NHL player so I stared at 18A forever. Just could not parse that even though I have used MT for empty before. Sigh.
I just wish Santa's little helper had been clued as Bart Simpson's dog.

JaxInL.A. 11:20 AM  

Hand up for Chicken Pie and frolic. RPM instead of MPH slowed me down in the middle quite a bit, too. Bottom easier than the top. GREEN VICE crossing MAV (which was rAV for a while) eluded me til the end. Favorite hard clue: start of a spelling for HOCUS. That C was my last letter.

I really liked the PRIZE FIGHT clue/answer, but mostly I loved @joho's and @JenCT's thoughts on it.

@Tobias and @dk, you MUST take a photo.

@amoebic cow (you really selected that?), I'm Pickle the Great in Words with Friends. Long story, left over from high school. Wanna play? And you were seriously playing THE Alec Baldwin?

Evan 11:21 AM  

Can someone, anyone, far smarter than I please explain how "empty" constitutes an "item to recycle"? Is it short for an empty bottle, or empty container (which is recyclable)? If so, I've never heard of that. Do people go to a bar and say, "Hey, give me a full of Corona, please," and then say, "I'm done, you can take the empty"?

The rest of the puzzle is pretty cool though. PAROXYSM is easily my favorite word in it. Hand up for CLEARER at 1-Down and RATS at 20-Across (I figured it was referring to ratting someone out).

Cheerio 11:48 AM  

I got the theme off LC, but filled in Proverbial Cow.

Tayvl 11:48 AM  

Best Thursday puzzle yet.

hazel 11:50 AM  

While i was puzzling, this puzzle was irritating me a little, especially the top half, where i first cavorted, then frolic(k)ed before finally prancing. Because the puzzle was so coy with its theme, it started irritating me more than a little. Until finally i saw abreeze and then the rest, in due course. no grudges, then. i can handle a puzzle that plays hard to get every once in a while.

@jenCT - good one!
@evan - well, (1) i am definitely not saying i'm smarter than you and (2) i have never ordered a "full". But (3) when we have parties we do have bins for recycling the empties....

jackj 12:04 PM  

This puzzle was a bit like an evolving butterfly; it transitioned through four stages from Huh? to Hmm to Duh to Hurrah! What a treat this one was and the fill is as good as the theme.

I finally tripped to the gimmick on the COMMERCIALCOW answer when LC triggered Elsie, bovine beauty of the ad world and then all became clear for the rest of the theme.

Daniel was especially strong on the “P” entries like PLAINER, POX, PAROXYSM, PRANCE, PRIZEFIGHT and the ultimate “P” entry, which fails the breakfast test for many men and needs to be seen as a Michigan football clue, pushing the Spartans over the Wolverines as PRO STATE.

Not many crosswords are as much fun as this one.

Thanks, Daniel!

lavender 12:08 PM  

Fun. Even liked "Green vice".

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Seemed to me a pretty good crossword puzzle, but what's with the theme, "Say it!" This puzzle in particular would have been much easier for anyone with access to that theme.

The puzzle was published by the New York Times, which provides no theme, except for its Sunday puzzles. Am I supposed to dial a number and pay for the theme? Am I supposed to do the puzzle on-line at a NYT site? Some other site?

All you people who knock these babies off in four minutes (about how long it took me by way of a test to read all the clues and pencil an x in each square), what other advantages do you have? Are you googling with one hand and filling in squares with the other?

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

@Anon 12:15 - Rex provides his own take on what the theme is, and yes, it is frequently very helpful.

The people who do it very quickly are just very good.

Mel Ott 12:23 PM  

There was a whole family of famous hockey players surnamed Patrick, Muzz Patrick being the most memorable name.

But Patrick is the first name of today's hockey player - a Montreal Canadiens goalkeeper surnamed ROY, pronounced like the French word for King.

Two Ponies 12:31 PM  

I forgot to mention how odd I found hot wars. I do remember the Cold War. Was there ever another time called a cold war? Has anyone ever used the term hot war?

Masked and Anonymous 12:33 PM  

@#31: Don't mean to complain. Just that I find myself missin' your "Bullets" section, lately. Part of my "got to get organized" instinct, I RECKON...

Silver Bullets:
* ZURICH - Isn't this where Tom Hanks went to fetch the da Vinci Code's magic decoder? (Also liked the U in it.)

*PAROXYISM - See that? I can't even spell it right. Any word that ends with -xysm is OK in my book, tho. Can't be many of 'em. Future puz theme?

* HOTWARS - As opposed to Cold Wars, I s'pose. I'll give it a "pass".

* MARZ - Ain't really spelled that way, but oughta be. Then it could be Planet of the Day (POTD).

* VERY - Loved the clue for this: "So so?" Made my mind explode.

Assignment for the day: Come up with theme-like answers for "QT" and "TP". Extra credit for: "WTF". Last one surely surely involves "NEWT". Har.

thUmbsUp on the puz, BTW.

Arby 1:10 PM  

This puzzle should have been much easier for someone who's handle refers to his initials: RB. How meta of me. I'll have to ask my daughter KT how she felt about it.

I actually muddled through the NW just fine, but finally just gave up and revealed a bunch of the NE. Didn't know any of the proper nouns (except Alex) or trivia (84 super bowl winner - who didn't have to google that?).

quilter1 1:21 PM  

I had to leave before I was finished so had to revisit. But I did finish, even though I didn't get the theme until coming here. It was a pretty good puzzle, not a whole lot of stale fill.

@Tobias, next time we are in Taos I'll let you know.

mac 1:50 PM  

Good puzzle, but the NW slayed me.

Really enjoyed the write-up and the comments! Thank you all.

Noam D. Elkies 2:04 PM  

Yes, the Down words through the theme letters in 35A:GREEN_VICE are unfortunate (as are, to some extent, entries like 54D:MRAZ needed to stack two 8-letter Acrosses between two theme entries). The entry itself felt fine to me at the time, though it seems the "green-eyed monster" refers more specifically to jealousy.


RI Squasher 2:13 PM  

Being a NY Rangers fan when I saw the clue for 19D I assumed it was Les(ter) Patrick which surprised me a bit since he is kind of obscure unless you're a hardcore hockey fan. But I was proud of my sports expertise so I didn't even think of anything else and tried to make everything else work with LES rather than think, "maybe I'm wrong". When I finally realized that 26A had to be HEY I knew we were looking for ROY.

I had Geneva first which made me write in ACAGEFIGHT for 28D so that threw me for awhile.

Assumed 9D was IMAC which meant it took me forever to get 7A but figured it must be EMAC when EVINONE didn't make much sense.

As with most Thursdays this one took me awhile but when I finished I definitely felt like I had accomplished something.

r.alphbunker 2:24 PM  

Those who are not medieval scholars might enjoy this:

Anonymous 2:35 PM  

@Two Ponies - I've heard the term hot war here and there, but not frequently. Maybe military types bandy it about all day, not sure.

Free Online Dictionary definition:

hot war
Armed, open conflict between nations or factions

@Anon 12:15 - You're supposed to figure out what the tneme is yourself, if there is one. That's part of the problem solving challenge. Sunday is the only day where it's provided.

Some people are smarter than others. Despite what we were told, all men are not created equal. I'm part of the 1% and get about one answer every four minutes. The other 1% I mean.

Acme 2:42 PM  

I was kidding... I'm sorry it was a little wink to those folks always accusing me of namedropping...
I was just trying to tie it all together with the news...
I don't play any games online, least of all my beloved Scrabble...or the crossword.
I like the feel of the tiles in my hand, or a pen and folded paper in them....
It's all i can do to even type in a blog comment!

r.alphbunker 3:08 PM  

I read someplace that only 7% of communication is verbal. The rest involves things like eye contact, body language, tone, etc.

After being on this blog for a while it is evident that the formal aspect of crosswords, the grid and clues, are only a part of the experience of solving a puzzle.

From a formal point of view a grid could be laid out in a 5 mile x 5 mile square on a plain and the solver could be in a helicopter radioing instructions to evil doug to fly missions to drop 1000 pound letters in designated squares.

Baseball is different. It would be a whole different game if the ball weighed 1000 pounds. Purists would argue that it would be a whole different game even if the ball weighed an additional ounce.

Anonymous 3:21 PM  

Anyone else find it funny that today is Diego Rivera's birthday, considering the correct answer to 51A?

santafefran 3:42 PM  

@syndy, I am always freaked out to see a puzzle with no clue except something referential like "see circled letters" but once I got over my initial panic, I was so pleased to get the theme at COMMERCIAL COW and then work back from there. So no HOCUS-pocusing for me. Thursdays are either my favorite puzzle day or a total WTF, but today was a winner.

@dk If you are in Taos, you are not far from Santa Fe. Maybe we can all get together and @Jesser, you might as well make the trek up as well.

wedev--or we wouldn't of

archaeoprof 3:42 PM  

@acme: if Alec Baldwin was truly deep down hip and cool, he WOULD be playing words with friends with you.

santafefran 3:48 PM  

@jae. Jason MRAZ was new to me, but what an intro! Thanx for that.

sanfranman59 3:56 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 20:30, 19:00, 1.08, 69%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:51, 9:17, 1.06, 68%, Medium-Challenging

evil doug 4:06 PM  

Alec Baldwin should be in a jail cell with a muscular skinhead playing Find The Soap. That selfish, abusive and arrogant jagoffs like this guy get a free pass based on their (questionable) celebrity where a regular bubba (or certainly someone of middle eastern appearance) would be forced to endure the full extent of the law is an inexcusable dereliction of duty.

Constant studies are underway trying to evaluate the safety of every possible electronic gadget. I've heard enough crew reports of suspicious performance of flight management systems and instruments to conclude that there's no harm in being sure before clearing them for use in every phase of flight.

And it certainly won't be morons like Alec Baldwin who get to make the call. Hang this creep, or you're just reinforcing his contention that he's privileged above the law.


Two Ponies 5:03 PM  

@ evil doug, I agree with your rant and that's some interesting food for thought about gadgets during flights. As for me, I bring a book and crosswords (of course).

@ anon 2:35, thanks. New one to me.

One last question about the puz -
How do you pronounce Mraz?

JenCT 5:12 PM  

@TwoPonies: muh-RAZ

Tita 5:48 PM  

I thought he was Mister Arizona!!

@evil...hear hear!!
As I said yesterday, I wouldn't last beyond the boarding process as a flight attendant. People can be such a$$es when in the vicinity of an airport!

(And they don't have to be celebs...)

Marcia Sterling 6:55 PM  

Hey Rex,
Leopold Auer didn't have a famous actor son. You're thinking of violinist Efram Zimbalist whose son, Jr., star of The FBI among other roles.

Setting the record straight 7:00 PM  

Leopold Auer had a famous actor grandson, Mischa. Rex was merely off by a generation.

Anonymous 7:48 PM  

Evil Doug -- You disappoint. Alec is not worth a rant. Besides your complaint is not against Alec. It's against the whole system. Money, celebreity satatus, politicians are all among the privileged class. Alec is just acting as a jerk. As for others, the whole phony security system at airports should be abolished. I blame George Bush for it and Obama for continuing it....

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

Evil Doug -- You disappoint. Alec is not worth a rant. Besides your complaint is not against Alec. It's against the whole system. Money, celebreity satatus, politicians are all among the privileged class. Alec is just acting as a jerk. As for others, the whole phony security system at airports should be abolished. I blame George Bush for it and Obama for continuing it....

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

Evil Doug -- You disappoint. Alec is not worth a rant. Besides your complaint is not against Alec. It's against the whole system. Money, celebreity satatus, politicians are all among the privileged class. Alec is just acting as a jerk. As for others, the whole phony security system at airports should be abolished. I blame George Bush for it and Obama for continuing it....

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

Evil Doug -- You disappoint. Alec is not worth a rant. Besides your complaint is not against Alec. It's against the whole system. Money, celebreity satatus, politicians are all among the privileged class. Alec is just acting as a jerk. As for others, the whole phony security system at airports should be abolished. I blame George Bush for it and Obama for continuing it....

Stan 8:22 PM  

@Anonymous 7:48 or 7:49 PM. If you go to the Blogger main page and just fill in a minimal number of fields, you'll be able to delete repeated posts. Plus (even though you'll still be anonymous) we'll get a sense of which @anonynous is talking.

Just a suggestion.

mldgibberish 8:27 PM  

Uh,I loved "LC" for commercial cow and really liked this puzzle.I wanted to share that I put "Pez" in for "it comes in a chicken variety" (it does! for dogs)and I was so proud of myself for knowing that factoid that I completely messed up the corner;sigh;but fun.

Wood 9:14 PM  

This seemed a lot harder to me than the average Thursday. I got the theme off of EZ and LC, but the upper three theme answers took their sweet time. I really think GREEN VICE is a stretch, and EVEN ONE is not a good clue for "any" (or vice versa), though I can see what the author had in mind. (Is there even one person in the room who can answer this clue?)

Knew Jason MRAZ, but only because I already had the Z of A BREEZE.

What is a cager? What is Big D? I assume MAV is short for maverick, so are we talking about a sports team in Detroit? Showing my sports ignorance here...

Overall this seems like a great grid with next to no junky crosswordese. Wondering if there aren't some better theme answers out there though...

sanfranman59 10:08 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 6:52, 6:50, 1.00, 55%, Medium
Tue 10:09, 8:53, 1.14, 87%, Challenging
Wed 11:03, 11:48, 0.94, 39%, Easy-Medium
Thu 20:39, 19:00, 1.09, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:33, 3:40, 0.97, 40%, Easy-Medium
Tue 5:00, 4:34, 1.09, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:39, 5:51, 0.97, 46%, Medium
Thu 9:31, 9:17, 1.03, 62%, Medium-Challenging

@Wood ... Big D is a nickname for Dallas. Cager is another name for a basketball player (apparently, early basketball courts were enclosed in a cage). The Dallas NBA franchise is the Mavericks. They're often referred to as the Mavs. That's a long way to go for a crossword answer if you're not familiar with sports terminology!

ksquare 10:36 PM  

@DAVKO 9:44 Other flavors of POX are cow (from which the vaccine was produced), sheep, rabbit, horse, swine, monkey and SMALL.

Andrea pox michaels 11:30 PM  

So worthy of a puzzle...maybe with APOXONYOURHOUSE as a 15 going straight across the middle! I'll give it a try, or is it too dark!?

Cathelou 11:31 PM  

Thanks, @wood, for explaining the "ne" clue. Kept thinking it had something to do with a belly button ("innIe"--a smooth navel=even one????) but it made zero sense. Problem solved. Can sleep now.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Even though I aced the puzzle, I'd rate it "Hard". Simply because I didn't discover the theme until coming here. Spent one half hour in total frustration. How clever it turned out to be! Mr. Finan is to be congratulated. Signed, Evil Doug's bastard son.

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

Some write overs but a satisfying error free finish.

Hand up for iMAC, which lingered until the very last as I attempted to see if something other than EVEN ONE would reveal itself.

COO began as CAW.

POX morphed from POI

"No. with a decimal" started out as ERA (off the A). There must be fifty three-letter no.'s with decimals ending in A. "Guess three letters" would have been a comparable clue.

And I had POLES for 'they're standard'', though it doesn't really fit the clue (would need the plural s), which put the wrongly spelled TRAPSE across the top.

Oh yeah, and WES over CAF because I wrote CAF in the wrong place.

Red Valerian 1:26 PM  

EE-ZED??? (ba ha ha)

DJ Stone 2:03 PM  

As I get better at crosswords I think I get a bit more annoyed with cheap constructor tricks.

Today's cheap trick: fake plurals/singulars. Yes, rendezvous can be plural, but does anyone ever use it as such? And exactly which LA Raider was the victor in the '84 Super Bowl? See, I would have thought it was the team, and that would make it the LA RaiderS.

Theme was daunting at first, but fell into place with 62A. While the Elsie answer was cute and entertaining, the Green Vice answer was simply stupid.

Finally, if you want to enjoy the song "Call Me the Breeze", then put on some Lynyrd Skynyrd. Far better version.

rain forest 4:12 PM  

Absolutely great puzzle. Foundered for a bit but got the theme at commercialcow, laughed and went for the others, which weren't too difficult except for greenvice, but that made sense after some thought. As a Canadian (who pronounces "z" as "zed", the correct way, bty) had to do some mental contortions to get abreeze. But the puzzle was really a lot of fun, and no crap, although my crap detector is not as finely tunes as, er, others'.

Dirigonzo 6:17 PM  

From the land of "time-warped insights" (a phrase coined by @Tita with an assist from @Red V a day or two ago) I was cruising right along until I came up MT in the NW corner, where I never did sort out the cLearER/PLAINER debacle. Good fun right up until then, though, and I learned lots of new stuff so the failure was mine alone, not the puzzle's (or as Jimmy Buffett so famously sang, "I know it's my own damn fault").

@Red Valerian - thanks for the spirited defense on my behalf yesterday. I wasn't quite sure how to interpret the remark in question but I wasn't going to take offense as I don't think the commenter intended to give any.

And speaking of yesterday, @Deb paid a visit to clearly establish her creds as an original, card-carrying charter member of Rexville since 1/07.

Several new commenters appeared in Rexville in February 2007, but only two are names familiar from modern times: on 2/8 @Waxy in Montreal made his debut appearance, and on 2/19 the puzzle's constructor, Andrea Carla Michaels (ACME!), dropped in to thank everyone for their comments.

Red Valerian 7:26 PM  

@Dirigonzo... um, actually, I wasn't trying to defend you, though I can see how you could read it that way. I was trying to come to the defence of the constructor. I took that line from the other post(the one that mentions that probably only you will read it) as a set-up for saying that I wished *I* hadn't read it (so, wished, I guess, that at most only you had read it!). I thought the post was an unwarranted and rude attack on the constructor. Perhaps it was also an unwarranted and rude attack on you, but I didn't read it that way. (though now that you mention it...)

Good on you for not taking offence. But it was then constructor I was concerned about. (That said, I thought @syndy's rant hilarious first thing above, even though I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle.)

@rain forest I'll bet we're practically neighbours. (note the correct spelling of "offence," "defence," and "neighbours" ;-) Sure, there's that odd word ee-zed, but there's also Patrick Roy!

Anonymous 8:23 PM  

Yes, Sir Rex-- The Green Vice picture made it all worthwhile. Took a long time to get the scheme, but seeing the commercial cow, I was wondering, "huh, like Elsie?"; and there it was. The chicken pox entry should serve as a reminder to us oldsters to get the vaccine as a defense against painfull shingles, the virus is lurking in every Chicken Pox survivor. Didn't know Adoree and had CNNT so a DNF for this latebird.

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

Spacecraft here. I must say today's is a remarkable puzzle. At first so hopeless-looking, it yielded, little by little, to a concerted thought-attack. With the (see circled letters) clues, I knew I had to be dealing with onomatopoeia, somehow. Yet nothing seemed to come easy--not even when I had COMMERCI filled in. I'd forgotten all about Borden's.
A real hangup occurred in the NE when for a long time I failed to realize that "victor" might refer to a single player on the team rather than the whole team. I rejected LARAIDERS early on because that's 9 letters and I had only 8 to work with. Plus, I didn't get ORDERLY (duh!) for a while--despite having done that very job! One might almost call the NE "A Series of Unfortunate Events" a la LEMONY, but for my late recovery and eventual triumph over that section--and the whole puzzle, finished sans error.
ALEX was a gimme, given that Encore just ran the film last week. I viddied right away what had to go in there.
Despite what appears to be a rather BARBARIC personality, I have to side with Evil Doug on the Baldwin issue. Not every celebrity is a pig--but this one is. He and Charlie Sheen ought to room together; then we just implode the building.

toppedu: at least, if u DNF or had an error today.

Anonymous 9:14 PM  

Hated this puzzle. 17 across is wrong, it's the laraiderS. How is "so, so" equal "very" in 8 down? "Less convoluted" equals "plainer" was a bit of a stretch as well. "ne" (any) equals "even one"? I was just not on the same wavelength as the puzzle writer.

Oh well, try again tomorrow:)

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