Word on biblical wall / TUE 12-20-11 / Writer John who won Pulitzer for Annals of Former World / John Constable Camille Pissarro / Shore dinner staple

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Constructor: Julian Lim

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: SPLIT PEA (36D: Kind of soup ... or a hint to the answers to the five starred clues) — letter string "PEA" is "split" across two words in familiar phrases

Word of the Day: John MCPHEE (10D: Writer John who won a Pulitzer for "Annals of the Former World") —
John Angus McPhee (born 8 March 1931) is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, widely considered one of the pioneers of creative nonfiction. // Unlike Tom Wolfe and Hunter Thompson, who helped kick-start the "new journalism" in the 1960s, McPhee produced a gentler, literary style of journalism by incorporating techniques from fiction. McPhee avoided the streams of consciousness of Wolfe and Thompson, but detailed description of characters and appetite for details make his writing lively and personal, even when it focuses on obscure or difficult topics. He is highly regarded by fellow writers for the quality, quantity and diversity of his literary output. // Since 1974, McPhee has been the Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. (wikipedia)
• • •
[FOR MY READERS IN SYNDICATION: It's pledge week here at the Rex Parker site (thru Sat.) —read my pitch for donations in the opening paragraphs of Sunday's write-up, here ... and thanks for your faithful readership (and the many kind messages I've received so far)]

• • •
This just didn't work for me. First, I am really prejudiced against these word-splitting themes when the split word does not touch every single word in the theme phrase. So that HOPE hanging out there at the end of the first theme answer and that DOPE hanging out there at the end of the third are really irksome distractions (blame Patrick Berry, who beat it into me that the "touch-every-word" feature was ideal). Then there's the fact that HOPE AGAINST HOPE and ROPE-A-DOPE seem like they could secede and start some other theme. Then there's TYPE-AS, which is clearly a "SPLIT PEA" but is not clued as such and at any rate does not have a symmetrical thematic counterpart. The whole set-up just felt very wonky. Outside the theme, things are mostly decent. I found the puzzle harder than the average Tuesday (by close to a minute)—from the BARK AT / HOWL AT trap at 1A: Serenade, as the moon to the never-ever-heard-it-used-that-way REHABS at 31D: Fixes up, as an old house to the interesting but unusual stuff in the SW corner, most notably ONE LB and ON AUTO (the latter didn't come together until I got every single cross). Even [Shore dinner staple] didn't quite compute for me. I can get CRAB anywhere ... Cool to see John MCPHEE in the grid. He's a good writer.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: *Wish desperately (HOPE AGAINST HOPE)
  • 28A: *Be worry-free (SLEEP EASY)
  • 43A: *Muhammad Ali ring tactic (ROPE-A-DOPE)
  • 53A: *John Constable or Camille Pissarro (LANDSCAPE ARTIST) 
  • 4D: *Like some bunnies and puppies (LOP-EARED) 
  • 14A: Colored part of the iris (AREOLA) — I associate this more with the breast than the eye.
  • 42A: Facebook competitor (MYSPACE) — yes, the way the Washington Generals are [Globetrotters' competitors]. 
  • 1D: Dinner from previous dinners (HASH) — another example of an answer's just not coming easily. Tried to think of a shortish word for "leftovers."
  • 2D: Modern ice cream flavor (OREO) — as opposed to what, *ancient* ice cream flavor. First, it's not a flavor, it's a brand. Second, "Cookies & Cream" has been around a long time, and that's essentially what OREO ice cream is. So "modern" is an odd term. Is anything besides the five Canonical flavors (Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Rocky Road, and ... Butter Brickle??) considered "modern?"

  • 42D: Word on a biblical wall ("MENE") — Grandma got me a book once about phrases in the Bible—the title was "MENE MENE TEKEL." Never read it, but turns out I learned something valuable just by reading the title.
  • 52D: "The ___ is out there" (catchphrase on "The X-Files") (TRUTH) — yet another TV show that everyone around me seemed to love but that I never watched. Never ever cared about the paranormal or the loopy people who believe in it.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Pamela 12:09 AM  

Good catch at TypeAs---you're right. Split pea. Thanks as always for your witty and informative write-up. "just sayin'"

Tobias Duncan 12:21 AM  

Rex I dont think you gave X-files a fair shake. As a lifelong skeptic I may not sympathize with quacks who think they have been abducted but I can certainly suspend disbelief for some decent science fiction. The show was well written and well acted. I also have fond memories of watching the program in a manner referenced by a pop song of the era(true story).Ah to be in my twenties again...

syndy 12:24 AM  

HOPE AGAINST HOPE and ROPE A DOPE got me really excited then --nothing. SLEEP EASY? LANDSCAPE ARTIST/It does not sing.IT don't shout HOSANNA .and the PEA is not split! also NEXT inline for the throne is my no means necessarily the eldest.(not yet anyway.so WEEP YE LOPEARRED PAPAYAS! (now I feel better)

foodie 1:08 AM  

I agree with Rex that it felt harder than a typical Tuesday, though it's not reflected in the QDI --but we know it's quick and dirty, so it can occasionally be off.

I do believe this theme has been done before and clued with the split pea soup, but I'm saying this from memory --and with age that becomes slow and wipes clean, so that can often be off.

So far, the only thing I'm sure about is that GO appears as a clue and as an answer! And how did I notice? Because I wanted GO, GO, GO in response to "You can do it", until I saw it as the clue for 21D. GO GIRL feels incomplete-- it needs a "You" at the start.

Wiki agrees with me that "serenade" connotes "light, calm, music" so I really resisted HOWL AT because it's clued with serenade.

pk 1:24 AM  

Had "sleep well" at first for 28A, but was positive that "Corona" was correct for 11D, so that helped fix that.

Agree with Rex (and Syndy) about Rope-a-dope and hope against hope seceding!

Howl at and hash jumped out immediately for whatever reason (probably because it is my birthday) so that helped a lot too. I always love it when 1A and 1D do that. Sometimes when they refuse to, I just head down to Florida and work it backwards.

Evan 1:47 AM  

Are the PEAS in this puzzle really split? I suppose they're split across two entries, but they're more like shared rather than split. Still, I've never had shared pea soup before.

I would have expected that split pea entries would feature the letters of PEA fragmented into disconnected circled spaces across the theme entries, but puzzles with disconnected circles can be pretty annoying unless all the theme entries are awesome. Maybe it could be done by putting P or PE at the beginning of each theme answer and EA or A at the end -- some good answers come to mind (i.e. PANACEA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA, PERSONA, PETUNIA, PER CAPITA, PENINSULA), as does one very not good one (a word that rhymes with SCHMEDOPHILIA).

areola corona myspace 2:01 AM  

I took AUST as a sign, even tho I'm not crazy about that kind of abbrevia.

Yes, theme secession! ROPEADOPE, RINGADING, SINGASONG...

AREOLA. Is one of those words i can't say without blushing, if I were still capable of blushing.

jae 2:05 AM  

Pretty tough Tues. for me. Seemed more Wed.ish.  MENE and MCPHEE I didn't know and RES and SANCTI were educated guesses.  Unusual for a Tues. REP for GOP and CLAM for CRAB didn't help either.   Pretty good grid tho.

chefwen 2:15 AM  

Totally agree with Rex's rating, even mentioned to my husband, "I bet he rates this one as "challenging for a Tuesday", I was close.

Had ink in my well at 15A before OIL, reP at 18A before GOP, got my bovines mixed up with my ovines and had moo before BAA, and so it went...

We had a really cool cat for a long time named Duke, he used to take walks with us and the doggy boys on a leash, husband called him "dope on a rope". He delighted all the people in the waiting room at the vets office when he would saunter in on his leash.

Evan 2:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evan 2:42 AM  

Actually, what the hell am I talking about? I had shared pea soup just last night! At least, it was clam chowder with peas in it and my fiancee and I shared it. That counts, right?

Eejit 2:49 AM  

Seemed like a Tuesday to me, fairly easy, although I had lamely instead of TAMELY which cost me a few minutes. Never heard of an MCAT.

If you "submit" a puzzle and it's rejected, but you go back and figure it out and fix it, do people generally consider that a DNF? If I resort to googling or refer to anything or anyone I do, but that's about all. Just wondering.

Gareth Bain 5:47 AM  

I still think the touch-every-word rule is more than a little arbitrary.

Rookie 5:56 AM  

Like chefwen, i had ink in my well and rep for GOP, which slowed me down.

Happy BD to @pk. It's my first child's BD, too (He's now 41). I don't know why, but I find my kids' BDs more exciting than my own. Hope you have a great day!

retired_chemist 7:45 AM  

Challenging here. Hand up for 7D GO GO GO and 18A REP. Also TWITTER for my Facebook competitor, I DUNNO for 34A, SANCTA for 50A (overridden when SPLAT PEA just didn't make the grade), POUND for 49A, and LIMBER for 60A. So many clues with reasonable options for answers gave this the feel of a later week puzzle with a Tuesday-ish theme. The theme didn't bother me - I paid it no mind and didn't even figure it out on my own.

AREOLAs appear lots of places. See Google. They seem to be basically things which encircle other things, although the plant and insect versions may not be. Kinda like two biologists talking: "What shall we call this structure?" "I DUNNO. How about an AREOLA?"

Anyway, I enjoyed it. Thanks, Mr. Lim.

jberg 7:46 AM  

Seemed easier than that to me - of course, I've been a MCPHEE fan for years, and had the GO of GO GIRL before trying to dig my well. One writeover, SANCTa in the feminine before the plural.

Splitting such a short word just doesn't seem worth the effort, or rather seems (to non-constructor me) to be too little effort to make much of.

@Rex, I've certainly heard REHABS used that way, but maybe it was in England (although they say 'refurb' as well - that would be great in a puzzle!)

SethG 7:59 AM  

I TAMELY solved this.

retired_chemist 8:05 AM  

@ jberg - my SANCTA was neuter plural. Whatever, still wrong.

joho 8:10 AM  

TYPEAS really bothered me. Stuck out like a sore thumb. Also because HOPEAGAINSTHOPE and ROPEADOPE actually have two Ps that are split in the phrase, I was looking for the second P in the other theme answers. This theme just wasn't tight or consistent enough for me.

I so wanted the answer for Dem's foe to be "DOES."

JaxInL.A. 8:16 AM  

I had no idea about MENE, so here's what Wikipedia says:

"The writing on the wall" (or "the handwriting on the wall" or "the writing's on the wall" or "Mene Mene"), an idiom, is a portent of doom or misfortune. It originates in the Biblical book of Daniel—where supernatural writing foretells the demise of the Babylonian Empire. The phrase is widely used in language and literature. The words on the wall were: mene, to number; tekel, to weigh; upharsin, to divide—literally "numbered, weighed, divided".

The king's days were numbered, he was weighed and found wanting, and so his kingdom was divided (between the Persians and the Medes).

JaxInL.A. 8:23 AM  

Oh, and happy birthday, @pk.

My 105 year old house needs serious REHABS. I see that often in real estate listings in California.

Thanks to Julian Lim. I have a slightly maternal feeling about these young constructors: pride in their (puzzle) accomplishments and plans to depend on them for entertainment in my dotage.

Jp 8:41 AM  

This did not feel like a Tuesday at all. Very difficult if I cannot finnish it. Had POUND for 49A instead of ONE LB and PUNDIT IN 45D instead of PENNER. So that messed up the SW corner. The NW corner also got me stumped. No idea why HOWL AT is an answer to 1A. And did not know AREOLA is part of the eye. Did not get the PEA trick until I got here.
Very lame and very difficult for me. Agree with Rex.

quilter1 8:43 AM  

Easy to slightly medium for me. I enjoyed it and while I finished fairly quickly without looking anything up I had a hard time seeing the split peas at first. I liked seeing ROPEADOPE, HOSANNA, HOPEAGAINSTHOPE, and especially LOPEARED. That is a very endearing word.

Making gingersnaps and cherry oatmeal bars for the Christmas concert tomorrow.

joho 9:04 AM  

I hope dk isn't on the road to New Mexico. The blizzard, white-out situation looks really bad.

John V 9:13 AM  

@Retired Chemist: AREOLAs appear less this time of year in New York, unfortunately.

Agree Medium/Challenging. My two snags/write-overs were TAPS for final measures and REP for Dems foes, so, N/NE last to fall. NUIT/SOIR took a bit, too. Guess no carry-over from yesterday's French lesson.

I'd cut a little slack on 1A clue, which I got right away, esp. with WEAP and ALIAS crosses, both gimmees.

BONSOIR, monsieur Lim!

efrex 9:13 AM  

Like @Evan, expected SPLIT PEA to mean that the letters p-e-a were split, not that they were doing the splitting. Add another to the GOGOGO crowd for 7D.

Having theme answers in both the acrosses and the downs moves this one into the "enjoyable" category for me, despite the foreign word overflow.

I know HOSANNA as an "exultation" word thanks to the song "Cool Cool Considerate Men" from the musical 1776. It's a bit weird to see it in that context, as it derives from the hebrew "Hosha Na" which is a cry for help ("save [us], please"). Between that, SANCTI and MENE, we had a mini-religious theme going on in the southern part of the grid (not that there's anything wrong with that...)

Much obliged, Mr. Lim.

Tita 9:22 AM  

Didn't anyone else think we had another "positional" theme?
My first entry was at 1D - OVER - as in [LEFT]OVER...
Clever girl... :(

Figured out the theme without the revealer. Yes, this did start out challenging, but fell without too much stsruggle.

And I object to LYES being always pigeon-holed as caustic...
They are what gives Laugenbroetchen, or Bavarian pretzel bread, their distinct flavor and crust!

Rice and Webber 9:32 AM  

Hosanna Heysanna Sanna Sanna Ho
Sanna Hey Sanna Ho Sanna
Hey J C, J C won't you smile at me?
Sanna Ho Sanna Hey Superstar

Tell the rabble to be quiet
We anticipate a riot
This common crowd
Is much too loud
Tell the mob who sing your song
That they are fools and they are wrong
They are a curse
They should disperse

Hosanna Heysanna Sanna Sanna Ho
Sanna Hey Sanna Ho Sanna
Hey J C, J C you're alright by me
Sanna Ho Sanna Hey Superstar

Why waste your breath moaning at the crowd?
Nothing can be done to stop the shouting
If ev'ry tongue was still the noise would still continue
The rocks and stones themselves would start to sing:

Crowd, with Jesus
Hosanna Heysanna Sanna Sanna Ho
Sanna Hey Sanna Ho Sanna
Hey J C, J C won't you fight for me?
Sanna Ho Sanna Hey Superstar

GILL I. 9:40 AM  

I liked seeing HOSANNA, MENE and the crossing SANCTI apPEAr right under the middle cross of the grid.
Loved seeing John MCPHEE and the memories his writing evokes. "Silk Parachute" is my favorite.
There were some words that I liked writing in: CODA, EXCERPT, PIONEER, SLUE and LUNE to name a few. I agree on the SPLIT PEA decision and that it really didn't feel like a Tuesday level puzzle. Even so, I like SPLIT PEA SOUP.
To those that celebrate, happy beginning of Hannukkah.

Tita 10:10 AM  

65A Bovine call...
Must tell my favorite crosswordy anecdote...

My mom has never lost her accent, even after nearly 70 years in this country.
She loves crosswords, and during a road trip, was asking puzzle clues out loud, to the kids.

"3 letters for Sheep's cry of distress" she asked...
"Baa", the kids gleefully replied...

Correct answer was actually "SOS"...

r.alphbunker 10:23 AM  

Had trouble getting the split pea theme. The split was too subtle for me. The puzzle that I had in mind would have had a clue like "areola" with the answer being NIPPLEAREA, with the L splitting the PEA.

My grandmother would let me "help" her with the puzzle also.

xyz 10:34 AM  

Anyone clicking the "like" button on this barking dog gets a demerit.

Silly little "theme". PEA? Surely all those brainiacs that CW & NYT can do better than that.

Another positive O for the X-Files, notably better Sci-Fi than average on the small screen, especially the legacy themed episodes. Some of the one-off episodes were very silly. Never watched it until Netflix, with TiVO the way(s) to go with TV.

WITLYES the time, however - good run of capchas lately for me here and elsewhere

xyz 10:37 AM  

p.s. Love McPhee. His Forensic Geology short story, Pine Barrens, Ransom of Russian Art - proof Princeton has added something to the world.

Jeffrey 10:43 AM  

I don't believe in aliens (except for Patrick Berry) or the paranormal but I loved the X-Files. And comic books. Ok, I do believe in Superman, so that's two aliens. Unless Patrick Berry is secretly Superman. Then we are back to one.

I am a big fan of John McPhee and the rest of Fleetwood Mac. (over/under 5 minutes)

GenJoneser 10:50 AM  

@Rex I have noticed this phrase is really creeping into your write-ups of late:
Never Ever

Masked and Peanonymous 10:53 AM  

That's crossword folks for yah. If we don't get our "split peas" served up just right, we start splittin' hairs.

Fun solve. TuesPuz generally gets no respect, but this one rates some. thUmbsUp, Julian Lim dude.

Peace on earth, good will toward crosswords,

Gotta split for a while...

swimslikeafish 10:55 AM  

Liked this puzzle. For some reason it was easier for me than usual so surprised at our leader's rating. Thanks, Mr. Lim. Started early today so got to come here without feeling like I was late to the party. Even though I got it through crosses, could not make sense of 44D ON AUTO until I came here. And still don't get 25D NEN for DC legislator. Anyone care to enlighten me?

Loved ROPEADOPE, YENTL, CODA, new cluing of UTES. Disliked PENNER; would never use that to indicate a writer.

Happy Birthday, PK!

David 11:00 AM  

I'm with Rex on this one, though I solved this in just over 5 minutes, very fast for me on Tuesday. But I didn't get the theme until after I finished. The "OPE" of 3 theme answers overrode anything else, so after SLEEPEASY spoiled that possible theme I looked for some phonetic association of splitting "P's", not the word PEA. Finally I saw it. Meh. It just doesn't do it for me when only 20% of some theme answers reflect said theme.

Anyway, also really liked TYPEAS, ONAUTO, NOIDEA and ONELB, as well as the HOSANNA/SANCTI/MENE crossings.

Two Ponies 11:05 AM  

I enjoyed the solve but the theme left me cold.
I thought the phrase was Hope against ALL hope.
Like Rex I needed every cross to see On Auto.
I wonder if the crossing of two French words, soir and ici, slowed some folks down.
I'll pretent it was a themeless Tuesday and say I liked it as that/

Masked and PE Anonymous PS 11:31 AM  

P.S. @Two Ponies: This puz Could qualify as a NYT themeless. Only 72 words.

Bonnie Buratti and Kai Lam 11:34 AM  

I would like to second Efrex's comment about "Hosanna". It comes from the Hebrew, and the word is still used by Jews in a liturgical context (as Hoshanah), including on the major holiday of Sukkot. We all appreciate the accuracy of the NYTimes xword puzzle, so it was very unusual to see this slip. It could have been easily corrected by cluing hosanna as a "Judeo-Christion word..."

CoffeeLvr 11:50 AM  

I came here today to count how many commenters complained about NASCAR, given the bias against sports some have in Rexville, and the bias against motor sports by the fans of base/basket/foot balls. Wow, I underestimated y'all - not a one.

@Syndy, my thoughts on theme answers exactly - two rock, two blah.

captcha - mestiv - what the house looks like in the middle of decorating and gift wrapping.

jackj 11:57 AM  

A really fun puzzle from Julian Lim but there was one bit of irritation that I'll get out of the way first.

PENNER is a weak bit of yuck which only seems to be used by good constructors in desperation, when necessary to complete the grid. It always seems like a "Variety" headline gone bad:

"Hix Nix Boffo Hemingway as Non-Stix PENNER" (or something).

No problem with the theme but the puzzle really sparkled with some terrific fill like LOPEARED which is an "Aw" provoker. "Aw, look at that cute little LOPEARED bunny."

Not to be overwhelmed by the schmaltz, we also have EXCERPT, ONAUTO, the devilishly clever ONELB and the poor man's Hallelujah, HOSANNA, weighing in as first-rate fill.

A special Tuesday challenge; thanks Julian.

ksquare 12:02 PM  

@swimslikeafish 10:55 Apparently you (and most others) need FSL i.e. French as a second language to do NYT puzzles. then you would know the difference between Noir-black and Soir-evening as well as Nuit-night. Just sayin.

Stan 12:45 PM  

Julian Lim seems to have nice, lively touch as a constructor. I enjoy his puzzles even when he introduces words like ZENER cards. Over on the Wordplay blog, by the way, this gets a freshness factor in the "99.0 Tue. %-ile."

What confused me about the theme were P-words almost long enough to be theme answers. (I went off thinking that P "split" the word MYSPACE...) Otherwise it was consistent and provided a final 'aha' after the puzzle was done.

@Tita: Funny story.

For a cuteness fix, look up 'lop-eared goats'.

"I don't Twitter, I don't MyFace..." -- Bill Belichick

mac 12:58 PM  

Toughish Tuesday puzzle, with a tiny pea theme, but they were all split.

What made it harder for me were the sometimes beautiful, unusual words: pioneer, lopeared, ropeadope, sancti, on auto, hosanna (which I though needed an h at the end).

Happy Birthday, @pk!

Safe travels, @dk.

Pandrea carla michaels 1:18 PM  

After reading all these theme comments, i would like to chime in again, in defense of this theme and how Julian Lim did it.

@foodie, its undoubtedly been done but there are, as we've now heard, many ways to SPLITPEAs...

You can split them at the beginning and end, like @Evan did with that marvelous list (1:47am);
You could sprinkle them throughout the word;
You could have a phrase with two Ps in them, as @Joho pointed out, but that would be SPLIT PEES, no such thing;
You could get fancy like @r.alphbunker what with his NIPPLEAREA ( blush) and very lightly split the PEA with but an L;
You could spread it across three words as Patrick Berry suggests is ideal, but wouod have been impossible in this case with such a short word, as you can't have E stand alone as a middle word (!?);
(Taking PB's crossword construction book as an absolute "bible" instead of a guideline is akin, to me, as taking the bible as an absolute...and we've seen where that can lead folks...)

So there are many ways to do this kind of theme as there are ways to interpret it...you could even just miss the theme altogether despite a clear "reveal" (ahem!)

However, what Julian Lim did was SPLIT PEA right down the middle, or as middle as you can with but 3 letters...
PE A, and P EA.
He did that not only four times, with a fifth reveal, he gave us a bonus TYPE-AS... Not clued with a * (perhaps as an editing decision as it didn't have a counterpart)

And in a rare disagreement with @Joho, I'd say again, bonus, not spoiler!

Plus with only 72 words, it was chockful of cool words, many folks have listed above...I'll just remention EXCERPT and the fun theme answer LOPEARED.

So there seems to be a lot of disappointment, based on expectations ( my therapists always warns me about this!)
But the theme itself has more solid integrity than some are giving it credit for...

I would heartily agree tho that GOGIRL needs a YOU, and that there shouldn't have been a "Go, go, go" clue if there is a GO in the grid.
Plus it was distracting, and a tad misleading to start out with several -OPEs...I love @Rex secession idea...

Just wanted to discuss the theme integrity a bit for those who felt disappointed or confused by it...and perhaps it can be appreciated a pinch more before it hits the recycle bin!

Phillips Exeter Academy 1:49 PM  

Hey Julian, thanks for the shout-out.

Bird 1:58 PM  

Not too bad for a Tuesday. Though I'm sure it's a used theme, I don't recall any recent usage so it was a fresh puzzle. Maybe I should be happy to not have a photo-puzzle memory.

Only write-overs were INK/OIL, REP/GOP and CLAM/CRAB.

@Tobias - agree with you on X-Files. Well written and enjoyable to watch. I do take offense at Rex's stereotyping paranornal fans as "loopy". While I may not believe in all of it, you have to admit that some strange events have occurred with no scientific reason.


@Evan - thought the same thing that the PEAS are not split.

r.alphbunker 1:59 PM  

Great analysis.

FWIW, I meant my comment to be a criticism of the rigidity of my expectations rather than a criticism of the theme. Once I came here and saw what the theme was I felt a bit sheepish.

quilter1 2:11 PM  

Happy Birthday @pk

Happy Hanukkah to all our Jewish commenters. I miss hearing my Jewish colleague at the hospital playing Handel's Judas Maccabaeus for us every year.

jodi 2:24 PM  

Chef Bea here!!! Tough for a Tuesday. Got split pea right away and looked for answers with 2 p's that were split up.

Happy channuka to those who celebrate. I will be going to a chanuka breakfast tomorrow morning with my grand daughter

KarenSampsonHudson 3:34 PM  

I have to disagree with you on this one, Rex. I found it fast and easy.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!

KarenSampsonHudson 3:35 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
sanfranman59 4:00 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)

Tue 9:42, 8:53, 1.09, 76%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:10, 4:35, 1.13, 86%, Challenging

Lewis 5:02 PM  

I guess another way you can split PEA is have it start at the end of the phrase and end at the beginning:


Not overly hard puzzle, but it seemed hard for a Tuesday...

Matthew G. 5:27 PM  

Definitely agree with the difficulty rating. One of my worst Tuesday times.

My feelings were the opposite of Rex's -- I thought the theme was fine, but I didn't like the fill. PENNER is one of the worst six-letter words out there. We also have TETS, SLUE, RES, BAA, OXO ... meh.

I'm not familiar with HASH as a word meaning "leftovers." The only food-related use of that word that I know is in HASH browns. So that completely confounded me too.

KRMunson 5:44 PM  

@jeerit: The MCAT's are required for admission to medical school. Stands for Medical College Admission Test. A lot like the GMAT's - the Graduate Mamagement Admission Test (which I took to get into B-School)) or the LSAT - the Law School Admission Test...

KRMunson 5:47 PM  

Above post was meant for @Eejit. Sorry for getting the name wrong!

swimslikeafish 9:10 PM  

@ksquare, merci. Soir, not noir...but of course.
Now I feel like an eejit.

Z 9:17 PM  

Pound before ONELB and I had to wait for EXCERPT, otherwise I'm surprised at SanFranMan59 mid day ratings. I'd have put it at medium-easy.

Time for a left turn.

The theme doesn't thrill me, but I defer to Pandrea's analysis. The fill is fresh.

Time for a left turn.

I like Sci Fi, but rarely get into anything on the small screen. STTNG and Babylon 5 were pretty enjoyable. Farscape had some hope, but took a left turn somewhere along the line and lost me. X-files just never got my attention.

Left Turn
@CoffeeLvr - Fairly clued, but how many left turns can you watch?

sanfranman59 9:59 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 6:35, 6:50, 0.96, 34%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:39, 8:53, 1.09, 76%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:41, 3:40, 1.01, 55%, Medium
Tue 4:58, 4:35, 1.09, 76%, Medium-Challenging

syndy 11:15 PM  

@ MatthewG I direct your attention to that of the ST> Paddy's day-Now I love me my corned beef and cabbage but I cook much more than the family can eat in one sitting, because to tell the truth I look forward to the Hash as least as much-nothing beats it

pk 11:25 PM  

Thanks for all the birthday wishes, all! My mother and I share the same birthday. For some reason, she decided to give me a menorah for my half of the b.day (we are not Jewish). So anyway, it is a lovely piece of art, and we just had our first night of candle-lighting. Wiki was not too helpful about what to do, so I hope we did it right. (We lit the big one first and then the next one from the big one - ACME help me out here.)

Sorry for the off-topic post, Rex, but I figure everyone is on to Wednesday at this point. Okay, to get us back on topic, I printed out the Tuesday puzzle for my mother, who loves split pea soup. I will have to explain the theme to her, and maybe she will need some help with the puzz, a la Tita's mom, but we have had a lovely birthday.

Tita 12:07 AM  

Happy belated birthday to pk and pk's mom!

pk 12:26 AM  

@Tita - thx. I love your posts as your solving experiences are almost identical to mine most of the time.

Tobias Duncan 1:03 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tita 1:25 AM  

@pk - thx!
btw - love the menorah story...

And reminds me to say Happy Hannukah!

Acme 2:14 AM  

Happy Bday to you and yo mama! How cool same day!
My mom is but 8 days after mine, but we are even different signs...but she would be SO proud that I,m your go-to Puzzle Jew!
I didn't even get to light mine...and yes, you light the big one (the shammas...sounds a bit Irish, no?) and use THAT one to light the others...one more each night for 8 nights, which is why menorahs have 9 holders...

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

I can think of some modern ice cream flavors, but Steven Colber's Americone Dream had too many letters...

Bob in Syndication 11:30 AM  

Native Americans don't care for the term "Indians" and I have been tryiing to teach my students not to use that term for thirty years.

Maybe the Utes are an exception I don't know about. Maybe using "Indian" will confuse solvers and readers of this blog with the country of India. That would be strong justification for being polically incorrect, would it not?

It didn't confuse me. I knew who Wil Short meant. I have become used to the use of i-word in the puzzle. By using the term so often, it becomes the norm again. Is it intentional to offend Native Americans? I would really like to know the rationale. Did you really think about? Did the puzzle writer have Native American and Wil Short change it?

Apparently I'm the only one in a lather. I must confess I have not read all the comments today but I searched for that word "Indian" which is offensive to many people and got no hits. Either no else cares, or we are just used to the puzzle as the last bastion of political in-correctness. What other racial words are we willing to get used to?

Rex, you raise big to dos over all sorts of things. Why not talk about this? People listen to you.

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

@Bob, http://www.utetribe.com/ is entitled "The Ute Indian Tribe" and is referred to by Google as "The Official Web Site of the Ute Indian Tribe". Hope that helps in resolving your angst...

Dirigonzo 3:12 PM  

If the number of write-overs is any indication of difficulty, this was a tough Tuesday trial (I've been called an alliterate fool by some - wait, is that how you spell it?) (At least I'm not SANCTImonious. And no, I am not calling anyone else that, either.) OXO is also a losing tic-tac-toe line. Love seeing ROPEADOPE as it reminds me of what a great athlete Ali was and what a great man he is.

Mighty Nisden 5:18 PM  

Enjoyed this one. Thought of ROPE A DOPE first but figured it was wrong so moved on without it. It doesn't happen too often that my first guess on something a little obscure turns out right.
Maybe that means I'm getting better at this?!?
Had all but a dumb mistake at 54D. Put in clam but could not figure out what maa was. Turns out it was BAA.

Only bad thing now is having to listen to NY fans in five weeks after the Niners lost. ugh.. might have to skip the comments that week... As if I could.

Anonymous 8:37 PM  

Spacecraft here. Got pulled way off the tracks when I violated my own rule: scan the clue list for the central theme-clue and solve there first. Instead I saw the Ali clue and filled in ROPEADOPE; then went straight to HOPEAGAINSTHOPE. Not only did I think it was -OPEs, I thought there was one at each end!! Lots of headscratching till I finally got around to the reveal. OK, served me right. Now I know why I have that rule.
Someone called ONELB briliant but I say it's another bad copout by a constructor who needed those letters. Didn't care for TYPEAS, either. Coincidentally, I'm not too fond of actual type-As. Boy, there's a section: TYPEAS, NASCAR and MYSPACE. What a well-placed grenade could do...
I did like some of it: LOPEARED, EXCERPT and the biblical south (the Bible belt?). The TRUTH is out there......

I Can Tap That! 9:28 PM  

I like areolas, but I like nipples even more. And even more than nipples I like ...

Lois 12:21 AM  

Rehabs are fixers. The terms are interchangeable today. Been that way in the real estate investment business for about a decade now.

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