Brazilian port of 1.4 million / TUE 1-10-12 / Actor Sam of stage screen / Lapel attachment / One not looking for individual glory

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Constructor: Gary Cee

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: TEPEE (40A: Indian home ... or a hint to nine other answers in this puzzle) — two word answers, where first word starts with "T" and second word starts with "P"

Word of the Day: Sam LEVENE (52D: Actor Sam of stage and screen) —
Sam Levene (August 28, 1905 – December 28, 1980) was an American Broadway and film actor. He made his Broadway debut in 1927 with five lines in a play titled Wall Street, and over a span of nearly 50 years, appeared on Broadway in 37 Shows, of which 33 were the original Broadway Productions, many now considered legendary. Levene made his film debut in 1936 as Patsy recreating the same role he had created on Broadway in Three Men On A Horse (1935). Levene also appeared in the USO Tour of this same Show; the Radio Version; the Musical version that opened on Broadway called Let It Ride (1961) as well as the 1969 Broadway Revival of the play directed by 'George Abbott', the original Broadway Director and co-author. (wikipedia)
• • •

The deal seems to be that if you have a pretty weak theme, if you just cram a ton of theme answers in, that cramming will more than make up for it. I'm not a fan of cramming (in most situations), as it leads to discomfort. Today, specifically, a pretty rocky grid with at least one Highly unfortunate cross. What the hell is a TACK PIN? I know what a TIE TAC(K) is (from crosswords), and I know what a LAPEL PIN is, but TACK PIN is mysterious. Never heard of it. Very odd for a Tuesday puzzle. Odder still, though, is the LEVENE / BELÉM cross. Most people are just guessing at that "E" because it seems like the most plausible letter. I don't care if *you* knew LEVENE and/or BELÉM (57A: Brazilian port of 1.4 million), those simply aren't commonly known (proper!) nouns, and there is no way in hell they should be crossed at the "E." None. LEVENE has been in precisely one puzzle in the last decade (acc. to, almost ten years ago. His name is also spelled differently from other LEVINEs, so with the "I" different I was not sure at all that the first "E" was a given.

Now throw in BELÉM. It's a city of over a million, you say. Uh huh. But no way in hell most Americans can name it. Some, perhaps. But not most. I know it *only* because I was poring over my Atlas recently marveling at all the cities in the world with 1 million+ populations that I had never heard of (and even then I wasn't sure if it was BELAM or BELÉM). BELÉM is dwarfed, population-wise, by NINGBO. Never heard of it? What about (much larger) HARBIN? SURAT? FAISALABAD? You can see why the "the population's over a million!" argument doesn't impress me much. I mean, BELÉM is only the 11th most populous city in Brazil. Can you name the other 10? No. No you can't. You can name three: RIO, SAO PAULO, and (maybe) the captial, BRASILIA. Once again (and again and again and again) the the point isn't whether BELÉM or LEVENE should be allowed in a puzzle. They should (though maybe not on a Tuesday—that's a judgment call). But they shouldn't cross, and they damn sure shouldn't cross at an "E." And again (and again and again and again), I guessed right, so I'm not sour-grapesing this thing. It's. A. Bad. Cross.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Essay, say (THINK PIECE)
  • 21A: Lapel attachment (TACK PIN)
  • 58A: Backup group for Gladys Knight (THE PIPS) — as my wife said, "when one of your 'T' words is 'THE,' maybe there's a problem ..."
  • 63A: One not looking for individual glory (TEAM PLAYER) — I admire both TEAM PLAYER and THINK PIECE very much
  • 11D: Group associated with 2009's Taxpayer March on Washington (TEA PARTY) — also [Group having no success influencing the election of the 2012 Republican presidential nominee]. Romney 2012! Feel the Inevitability!
  • 39D: Singer with the Heartbreakers (TOM PETTY)
  • 25D: La Brea fossil preserve (TAR PITS)
  • 4D: Coach on a court (TENNIS PRO)
  • 36D: Disneyland, e.g. (THEME PARK)    
Also, I want the revealer to be TPS (i.e. pulls a Halloween prank), even though TPS is itself a initialism for "toilet paper." Feels more accurate (not to mention entertaining), and the "S" suggests the plural (i.e. there are nine TPS in the puzzle).

  • 16A: Major-leaguer Tony or Alejandro (PEÑA) — forgot about the latter, but grew up with the former, who was a 5-time All-Star in the '80s.
  • 13D: U-___ (Berlin railway) (BAHN) — did not know this. Figured answer was probably not HAUL. Inferred BAHN from "autobahn."
  • 45A: Fireplace (INGLE) — does anyone say this? The only time I've ever seen this word is in 16th-century Scottish literature.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


evil doug 8:13 AM  

Gill I.P.:

“@evil doug: Do you have an off button? And must you turn every crossword into a cheap, yuck, yuck sexual connotation? It gets pretty old....”

A fair query, so I’m giving it some thought.

My primary reason for posting here at all is as a creative writing outlet. I find some of the posts provocative and compelling, but others are---to me---tedious and repetitive. So I seek to find my own angle to juice things up. Sometimes I’m stimulated by, yes, an easy sexual innuendo, but I think your suggestion of turning ‘every crossword into a cheap, yuck…sexual” discussion is somewhat exaggerated. Sometimes I’m reminded of a Seinfeld episode, or a flying experience, or Air Force stuff, or some other cultural parallel. Occasionally a poster will irritate me and I’ll look for soft spots to attack there. At other times Michael himself will lead me into my words.

Some people seem to appreciate my thoughts and odd tangential arcs, others---like you---would like them to disappear. So I have several choices. I can continue as I am. I can quit altogether and seek other outlets for my writing energy. Or I can continue, but assign myself my own ‘breakfast test’. Since I’m a vocal opponent of any restrictions on clues and answers in the puzzle, the latter self-imposed restrictions on my posts would be counterfeit and unsatisfying. So the choice will be one of the first two options.

If you were here several years ago you will notice that in spite of your disapproval my tone has actually mellowed somewhat. I rarely criticize a puzzle-maker anymore---it’s a tough and honorable job---and most of my shots at other posters are glancing blows more that direct assaults. I’ve tried to replace the old ‘hot war’ Michael and I used to engage in with a more respectful if still sardonic twist, and I think he’s done the same for my benefit. I still like to take an anarchic poke at Will or Michael---my SUNY quote yesterday was a weak effort to tease Michael, rather than play to its sexual context, but as I’ve said I’m truly worried that he’s beginning to show some symptoms that he’s tiring of this effort (and if you observe his Facebook and tweeting links, they’ve become more of his own creative outlet than his once frequent engagement in our discussions here).

Some will tell you to simply jump over my posts when my avatar presents itself. That’s what I do when certain participants appear. Others will fully support your opinion and hold their breath in anticipation of my withdrawal.

So I’ll continue to consider your thoughts, and we’ll see where they lead.



Anonymous 8:18 AM  

Was a bit confused by Coach on a court. Kept thinking of Margaret Court and hoping for Court on the court! I like that better. Is there a tennis pro named Coach?

Loren Muse Smith 8:20 AM  

Overall a satisfying Tuesday fill. I agree with Rex, though on TACKPIN (never heard of one) and the BELEM/LEVENE cross. And is "unwordy" a word? Yes, the quintessential TP would have been a great revealer if it could have been done tastefully. I bet today's posts will be rife with TP innuendos. I won't go first, but I may join in.

@Evil Doug - well, ya grow into your name, right? I think you're fun.

As a Jody Foster fan, I love the recent FAVA bean, CLARICE, and today's LECTER. I wonder if this blog site would impress her. . .

foodie 8:23 AM  

I agree with Rex about that intersection in Natick town.

I also agree that some of the theme answers are very good- THINK PIECE, and others less inspired. TPS as the revealer would have been fun.

CARLA at the top-- a tangential shutout to miss acme.

Wood 8:24 AM  

Nicely said, @evil... Though I haven't seen the comment that evidently provoked @Gill's ire. Seems like there's room for all types here.

Also hated the LEVENE/BELEM cross, but guessed the E correctly. Thank god all the other letters were gettable from crosses. Liked 10 theme answers though. Nice dense puzzle.

foodie 8:26 AM  

That was Shoutout:)
Damn you, autocorrect on iPad!

John V 8:29 AM  

Good morning from foggy Charlotte.

Everything @Rex said about BELEM/LEVENE cross. I guessed wrong, writing in an A. Must be my first Tuesday mistake in 20 years. My situation is worse as I have no ideas what PLAYIN means, as I don't follow college sports.

Amusement today was that I looked at 27A Unwordy and, yep, saw UnWORLDly for too long. Must be the fog.

Oddly, I had TACKPIN right away.

Happy to see CONNIE FRANCIS after so many years.

Natick aside, not much to say.

Panera's in downtown Charlotte carries the Times, too, right across from the Hilton, my pied a terre.

Naticky Levene 8:31 AM  

Yes it was Naticky, but figureoutable. I had L_VENE; it HAD to be an E. That's how crosswords are; sometimes you make an educated guess.

Miette 8:32 AM  

Very easy puzzle today!

evil doug 8:35 AM  

Yes, foodie---an ironic bit of auto-correction if ever there was one. I don't think we'll EVer see a 'shutout' of ACME....


quilter1 8:42 AM  

I'm usually pretty good on old time entertainers, but never heard of LEVENE. However, I also guessed right as did many of you. And CONNIE Francis came easily. Overall, I'd say this was an easy Tuesday. I found the theme a little dull, but I'm creative in other ways, so won't criticize what I can't do myself. Y'all have a great day.

Matthew G. 8:42 AM  

Thought this was veryEasy, because the theme, whether weak or not, enabled me to fill in all of the long answers quickly and then do the rest. Shaved a good minute off my average Tuesday time.

Agree about the Natick. That crossing was the last square I filled, and I held my breath to see if it submitted. Fortunately, I guessed E too.

retired_chemist 8:48 AM  

Agree the LEVENE/BELEM cross is unfair, even though I knew BELEM since I have visited the eponymous Portuguese place. Agree TACK PIN is not in common usage. U-BAHN seems awkwardly cued since it actually means subway (Untergrundbahn). PLAY-IN passes the Wikipedia test, but it's new to me. Ditto THINK PIECE. INGLE is in my vocabulary from Inglenook Vineyards in California, whose products I sampled generously while in graduate school, but probably it is not familiar to a lot of us.

All this gave the puzzle an uncomfortable, clunky feeling to me.

Writeovers: ARLENE => CONNIE Francis (20A), A LARK => A CLAM (67A).

Not one of my favorites - I usually like Mr. Cee's puzzles better. They are usually at least BEE PLUS, but this one is a straight CEE.

Schoolmarm 8:51 AM  

Rex--Was it really worth all that virtual ink to tear apart an innocuous cross? Really, they're just words and this is just a game for word geeks. The goal is amusement, after all. (Your rant did amuse me.)

Aglet 8:57 AM  

Re: Tack Pin --- try Googling.

You may not have "heard of it", but I bet you've used one.

foodie 9:10 AM  

@evil doug, I hope not! where would we be???!

I even stood up and fought for keeping you talking... Glad you're pondering you evil ways ;)

Doris 9:35 AM  

So, "sue me, sue me—what can ya do me? I love you."
SAM LEVENE was the original Nathan Detroit in "Guys and Dolls."

OldCarFudd 9:36 AM  

I knew Belem, but agree it's not a city on the tip of peoples' tongues, so it qualifies as a Natick with that e-crossing.

I thought the puzzle a bit clunky with a few good ones, like think piece and tea party. But why isn't the e-cross of TomPetty/ThePips at least as bad a Natick as Belem/Levene? Aren't they equally specialized knowledge, uninferrable to those whose interests lie elsewhere? And both those answers are in the same knowledge (or lack of it) area. At least the Belem/Levene cross was only difficult if you were ignorant in two areas.

Don't go away, Evil! If we always agreed, this would be a damn dull blog. I, for one, wouldn't bother to read it.

chefbea 9:41 AM  

Fairly easy puzzle. I too have never heard of tack pin, but I will google it.

Loved Ashe crossing with tennis pro

r.alphbunker 9:44 AM  

@evil doug. Oddly your post made me think of Tinkerbell. A long time ago I saw a production of Peter Pan on TV. Tinkerbell was in trouble and turned to the audience for help. I think we had to clap or something. The positive energy helped Tinkerbell through the tough spot.

Some of your writing is absolutely amazing. I hope you continue to use this blog to be creative.

And @Gill I.P. I love your reflections on language so I hope to see your voice develop here also.

Oh. The puzzle. If BELEM had crossed the second E of LEVENE it would have been much worse. Since it was a Tuesday the actors name wasn't LaVENE.

David 9:47 AM  

@ JohnV, PLAYIN games are (for me at least) a relatively new concept. Sort of like a playoff game to get into the playoffs - best example I can come up with is the 1st game of March Madness, where the 65th and 66th teams play a game to "play in" to the regular 64 team tournament, and earn the right to be drubbed by a 1 seed.

@Evil Doug - please carry on as before!

Somewhere I feel like I've seen BELEM before, so I threw that in with no reservations. But that is one nasty cross in a tough SE corner.

GILL I. 9:48 AM  

@Evil Doug: Touche...I still prefer your Siendfeld quotes!
I wasn't crazy about this puzzle. I usually like Gary Cee but thought 15 or so proper names were just too much for a Tuesday. Add 6 sports clues and this get a meh from me. I also didn't like TEAMPLAYER crossing PLAYIN.
I wasn't happy as a CLAM - another crazy expression..

jackj 9:52 AM  

Gary Cee’s puzzles seem oddly underwhelming. In the creative world of crossword construction, he consistently seems to be a C student in a difficult AP class.

His themes are mostly well thought out but what seems to be missing is a sense of tension or pushback or uniqueness, (or something), thus giving us somewhat bland puzzles.

Today’s puzzle, ironically, benefits from the mildly scatological hint resulting from the TP gimmick, which, of course, makes one immediately think of toilet paper. That may raise titters from some solvers but it sure doesn’t elevate his oeuvre.

Fill-wise, maritime New Englanders will tell you that “Happy as______” ACLAM has been shortened from “Happy as a clam at high tide” Why at high tide? Because a clam digger can’t dig for clams until the tide goes out.

PLAYIN, for how teams on the cusp can win entry into the NCAA b-ball tournament, (by defeating the other team also on the verge of getting the final spot), was a particularly inspired clue.

He’s only had eleven puzzles in the Times to date so, with diligence and his apparent love for constructing, Gary will hopefully soon hit a comfortable stride and give us crosswords to remember. Looking forward to meeting the other Gary: Gary Aplus.

Rudy 9:59 AM  

As a new person on the forum I am slowly being introduced to the family-- warts and all -- and what can I say.. I love you, all. There are subtleties that I am learning.. the NO, NO of two crossing proper Nouns (whats wrong with that?), the tangential discussions from what was in the crossword and what was in your meal today. No SACREDCOWS (now there is a theme to explore.

@John V, Welcome to Charlotte. I have lived here for 20+ years and it has grown from a "sleepy" (Oh, they HATE that word!) to a bustling can-do city. Alas, my assignment makes me weekend visitor to Charlotte from a neighboring sleepy town. When I moved there you could actually see your baggage being taken from the plane and visibly deposited through an orifice at baggage claim. Several daily flights to LGA and JFK. The NYT is widely available and of course can be delivered to your home, if you so desire. ANd of course CLT is the site of the 2012 DNC Convention. Charlotte will remind the world of this for the next few quadrennial election cycles.

@evil doug, Airline pilots are one of my heroes having flown to several corners of the US and the globe. Never seen a more professional bunch. My screen avatar HOVERS around your posts to see the gems you post! Right on, 'bro!

@Tita, @Anonymous (all youse folks) @ Acme

Always impressed by your insights.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:04 AM  

You know it's a busy day when 55D, APSIS, slips by without a comment (until now.) Completely gettable from crosses, of course, but I consider myself somewhat science-y, yet I Never Heard of It.

Tita 10:10 AM  

What? Not everyone has a brother-in-law who sailed a shrimping boat from Florida to Nigeria via Belém?
Your favorite castle is not the Torre de Belém in Lisbon?

To me the unfogivable Natick was "Personality" GREG & INGLE...

My French amies have cats named CARLA & SARKO.

Shout outs today to ACME and Prof. R.ALPHbunker...

@evil...surely you can't be surprised that your style elicits the ocasional "sharp stiletto" (from whom here did I steal that phrase?)

@Gill...I'll back you up! Yup, he's puerile, and 3rd grade humor does get tiring. He needs the occasioal smack-down. You had the guts to do so un-anonymously. Brava!

But, he's often hilarious, and I don't mind winnowing through the noise.
At least he has shown himself to be introspectful, if not always respectful.

I echo r.alph in liking Gill's posts. I share your love of language, and like your tangential stories.

Don't anyone change - ever - I love Rexville just the warty eccentric way we are!

archaeoprof 10:13 AM  

"Leavin' on the midnight train to Georgia..."

I'll be singing that song all day.

Guessed right on BELEM/LEVENE.

HumorlessTwit 10:13 AM  

I don't think I've ever been upset with Rex's post not appearing at midnight as I was last night, just because I had an epic rant about BELEM/LEVINE 3/4 composed in my head, just waiting for an outlet. Yes, it involved Rex's Atlas, how I didn't initially understand poring over an Atlas as an activity, but bam, the utility of it finally made itself clear to me. I was going to ask if he had a recommendation for a kind of atlas, but for second tier actors of the 30s/40s/50s for me.

@Evil I, for one, had noticed and appreciated the change in tone of your posts. I also appreciated the thoughtfullness of your postearly this AM. As one who has been roundly excoriated here for a joke go awry I too had to rethink how I was approaching things. I too use this as a creative writing outlet, and as such have to listen to criticism. That being said, jokes about the aftermath about date rape aren't ever funny. Ever.

KRMunson 10:20 AM  

I agree with the comments on apsis and playin...huh? Only got them with crosses. Belem and Levene were just slightly less annoying...

Tobias Duncan 10:21 AM  

Jeez everyone complains about the though cross but I am the only dolt that actually went A insead of E. BELAM just seemed better to me and I did not go back and question LaVENE.

Did not count the sports clues but it did feel a bit sports heavy to me.
I would have had a fast Tuesday time had I not confidently put jOanjeTt in for some inexplicable reason as leader of the Heartbreakers.

evil doug 10:25 AM  

JERRY: Jenna's like me. She's very... (searches for word)

GEORGE: Finicky? Prissy? Fastidious?

JERRY: I'll take fastidious.


"Puerile" synonyms:
childish - babyish - infantile - boyish...

Tita: At (a very young, I might add) 60, I'll take 'boyish'.


JenCT 10:35 AM  

@Tobias: I thought of Joan Jett at first too!

Never heard of INGLE.

Got lots of answers from crosses.

Off to send the pooch out to chase the squirrels away from the birdfeeders...

Two Ponies 10:50 AM  

Not bad for a Tuesday. The theme was not exciting but some of the fill was interesting. Several words were new to me so that's a plus. Ingle was iffy. I was thinking of a fireplace tool called an angleiron maybe?
jackj beat me to it on "at high tide."
Evil Doug, you are one of the pillars that holds this crazy fun place together. I don't think there is any doubt of having many supporters here.

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

@Two Ponies, @JenCT - INGLE came to me from inglenook, a little seat by the fireplace.

dk 11:00 AM  

@evil d, I thought I was the one who cheapened this blog with sexual in your endo. I will have to try harder (chortle - harder).

I know I will make up a puzzle and then create a theme!

I really liked this puzzle but the theme seemed one born of desperation.

*** (3 Stars) Nothing else to add to the soup.

mitchs 11:22 AM  

@evil: C'mon man! If you start toning down your comments it'll be like the end of "Flowers for Algernon". Very depressing.

BTW, I think we may be neighbors...if the Starbucks you sometimes reference is next to the Churchill Market on Grand Ave. I'll pony up for the M-W NYT if you'll keep up your good and valuable work here.

xyz 11:31 AM  

From an upper-mid level guy who found it easy+

A pretty straightforward enjoyable puzzle for the NYT devoid of most of the usual junque and containing a couple bits needing crosses.
However, theme weak enough to be a tea stain on an oft-washed ecru shirt.

and ASHE. Again. Really ...

phaft - captcha's GOT IT! (it was better than that)

Jeffrey 11:36 AM  

I read with interest recent comments by evildoug and Andrea about the changes in Rex's writing from the "early days". I have noticed it too and it is very obvious if you reread some of the old posts.

I can tell you from experience that blogging about crosswords and keeping it fresh is not easy. Writing one virtually every day for over 5 years is nearly unfathomable. Change/maturity/boredom/whatever is inevitable. However, bon mots still appear from time to time, and if the snarkiness level wavers, I think the overall quality is still something to admire.


syndy 11:42 AM  

My first answer for 45 across was INGLENOOK-INGLE had me flummoxed.I actually feel that if you have to cross BELEM with LEVENE at least the "E" narrows the choices.But my REAL nit with this puzzle is "Where is the ""M"" word fot miss ACME?HUH?this blog would be wordplay if we all agreed-I love reading EVIL and people bitching at him as well!as long as it stay's half way civil-it's all good--JUST SAYIN!

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

@Evil Doug – Wordplay has a 1500 character limit on posts so you cannot go there because you would have been 1104 characters over the limit with your first comment. And I think you’ve already used up your three post limit here. So, have a nice day….

As for the puzzle I completely agree with @Schoolmarm @ 8:52 am.

@Chefwen – Sad news out of Green Bay today. My condolences to the extended Green Bay family….


Lewis 12:30 PM  

@natickylevene -- no, L_VENE doesn't HAVE to be LEVENE. We've seen so many variations on so many words, and this is not to mention last names.

@retired_chemist -- hand up for Arlene, but I knew it was wrong. A moment later I thought of the right answer.

@rudy -- what sleepy town are you from?

@tita -- great post

@rex -- enjoyed the write up

@r.alph -- thank you for that image blending Evil Doug with Tinkerbell.

@evil -- you're an institution here, and the way you wear your words on your sleeve is refreshing. STAY.

Oh yes, the puzzle. I think it ran medium for me. I learned Ingle and thought about Connie Francis for the first time in forever, and the puzzle felt good to solve. Thanks, Gary!

North Beach 12:31 PM  

Hilarious discussion over on Gawker regarding the answer ILLIN in Saturday's puzzle:

Anoa Bob 12:47 PM  

Lost count of the T-P theme entries but perked up when I got to 39D. I had another browser page open listening to some TOM PETTY while I was doing the puzzle online. Talk about synchronicity!

I knew the BELEM/LEVENE crossing would bring on a chorus of howls.

I was perplexed by the 63A TEAM PLAYER crossing 51D PLAY IN. Didn't seem quite right.

Also balked at the TEPEE reveal at 40A. Sure, it's a Native American housing unit, but if you're going to spell the first letter of each of the two-word themes, it would be TEe PEE.

evil doug 12:50 PM  


Ooops---here's number four. Anarchy reigns.

Occupy Blogger!

JaxInL.A. 12:56 PM  

Gary Cee and I do not often see eye-to-eye, so this was a pleasure. I can agree with the rant about the Natick cross, but still be pleased that I knew it. Belem in Portuguese and Belen in Spanish are Bethlehem in English. We have loads of Spanish-language store-front churches in my neighborhood with Belen in the name on the home-made sign.

@BobK, I scratched my head at APSIS too. For those of us who never heard of it: Noun:
Either of two points on the orbit of a planet or satellite that are nearest to or furthest from the body around which it moves. Not a word that I expect to use much. into sparkling cocktail party banter. Seems the word had a run in puzzles of the mid-1990s but has only appeared three times in the oughts (is that how you spell that?).

I get to meet @r.alphbunker in a week! His wife is in a photography show here in L.A. that is part of the massive, region-wide Pacific Standard Time art exhibit.. PST looks at the influence of southern California artists of the 1960s and 70s on the world art scene. It involves the great majority of visual art venues in L.A. and extends all the way down to San Diego and up to Santa Barbara. I really congratulate him and his wife. The whole effort is amazing, coordinated and funded by the Getty Museum.

North Beach 1:12 PM  

Can't we all just get along? I'm a little late to the recent discord party as I skipped yesterday.
My two cents: I enjoy coming to this community because whatever our differences, we have at least one thing in common. Where else can I go to interact with a 60-year-old (really, ED? You're closer to my age than I thought!) retired airline pilot, New Mexican professorial organized sports-hater, Left Coast puzzler extraodinaire, numerous chef-types, cancer survivor, etc., etc., etc.? That's something cool isn't it? I get a kick out of it. There's room for everyone here. Just skip over the yucky parts.

And if you're going to give away plotlines of TV shows, say DOWNTON ABBEY SPOILER ALERT first.

Rube 1:15 PM  

Don't have time to read the comments, but agree entirely about the BELEM/LEVEN cross... just not right. Wanted BAHIA, a memorable port city and the 4th most populous in Brazil.

Remember INGLE from it's 2 appearances in the NYT in the last 2 years, and from the Inglewood section of Manhattan -- fromerly the hangout of BICs, but now, probably not.

I'm oudahere.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle, fine for a Tuesday. I figured the Brazilian port would have the same spelling as Belem in Lisbon -- that one is famous, and worth the visit if you haven't yet had the chance to see it. Lots of history to absorb.


Masked and Anonymous 1:24 PM  

Desperately wanted U at the dreaded BEL?M/L?VENE intersection. Sure do hate to be totally U-less, solving a TuesPuz (=TP). Would it have killed 'em, to toss us a bone with a tasty HUTS at 62-Across, or some such?

Hey! No D's either?! Makes me feel a bit better, somehow.

Fave 31 remark: "What the hell is a tack pin?"
Har. Really enjoyed the roars of the T-Rex today.

Fave fill: ACLAM. Philosophically stimulating clue, too. How do you tell if a clam is happy? Answer: read his blog.

Uncomfortable moment: Using THE twice to get yer TP-count up.

High note: TARPITS intersecting TEPEE, completely TP-ing the puz, dead-center. Nice touch.

KarenSampsonHudson 1:26 PM  

I had the same problems, Rex, with "Belem" and "Levene", and agree with you on every point on this puzzle.

Bird 1:32 PM  

Agree with Rex about the Natick cross. Otherwise a nice and easy puzzle today. Didn't spend a lot of time at BELEM/LEVENE; just guessed the E and moved on.

Masked and Anonymous and Dumb as Dirt 1:36 PM  

Ooops. Just one "THE" in the TP's. After-parsed another one as THE "ME" PARK. Wrong again, TP-breath.

Tita 1:46 PM  

@jackj - thx for " high tide". Never knew that!

Must add... our Rexville titterers allow the rest of us to avoid tarnishing our own images... We can rely on evil or dk to post the "boyish" joke that we are too well-bred to make ourselves!

(thx too, @LEWIS - which one? I'm not known for my TERSEness...) ;)

Glimmerglass 1:49 PM  

Hereabouts, there's a shop that sells woodstoves, fireplace tools, etc., called the "Ingle Nook." Cute, eh?

santafefran 1:50 PM  

Changed my avatar since there was a shout out to my FAT CAT Zadie. In her case, the term doesn't refer to her income, but rather her AMPLE assets.

@jackj, thanks for the full CLAM quote; I finally get the phrase now.

I read this blog for the anarchy which reigns here @evil

aggem--aggem on, I say

Lois 2:10 PM  

Loved the puzzle a lot today, love Sam Levene but didn't think of him. His name only popped up at the last when I put in that E for Belem. But I also loved Rex's blog. It was fair and well argued, dealing with people like me who knew the one answer and were familiar with the other.

It's true that there were a few sports clues, but those were gettable from the crosses.

But I was delighted by OldCarFudd's comment today. I wonder how many people noticed that Tom Petty one way and the Pips the other way could be a Natick! Levene and Belem are in two separate areas of knowledge, as OldCarFudd points out.

Going back to last Friday, when an opera answer and a ballet answer crossed, I'd like to say that the fans of those two arts are not always the same people, and those are two separate areas. You wouldn't assume that video games and sports are the same areas and have the same fans, would you, even though there are sports video games.

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

How could THEPIPS be remotely construed as being unknown to all but a small population of the US? Tom Petty maybe, just maybe, but certanlty not THEPIPS. I've seen both on TV in the past month (one on PBS, on on someother station, but not Top Petty channel) quite by accident, but even though they're each well past their heyday, they're still being placed before our faces.

Sparky 2:38 PM  

Had the E in the Natick but tripped on the L. Never heard of PLAYIN and like @AnoaBob the double PLAY gave me pause. Guessed the L so I could finish up. Trying to speed up solving before ACPT and have quit erasing so that I can finish before the time is up.

Well said @NorthBeach.

Z 2:43 PM  

@ Bob and @ Jax - Thanks. I wrestled with PeR or PAR at 59D. Guessed right there as well as guessing right on BELEM/LEVENE.

If @Evil is Tinkerbell does that make @RP Peter Pan, @Jesser Captain Hook and the rest of us Lost Boys?

Decorinn - What an INGLE is part of

santafefran 2:55 PM  

@JaxinL.A., you know that pictures of your meetup with @r.alphbunker must be taken and posted? Looks like there also might be a Carolina meetup soon as well.

Hope they all turn out as successful and engaging as our Santa Fe meet-up. @jesser--you were missed.

dk 3:32 PM  

@tita: Well bred! (insert Bevis and Butthead chortle about here).

@z, May I be the crocodile? Please and thank you.

treedweller 3:45 PM  

Hand up for getting BELEM/LEVENE with a puzzled, doubtful look on my face. Given it's Tuesday, I was also pretty surprised at how long it took to get into the NW corner (I only had SHINER until I worked up from below), but that was probably just me. I wanted ASAP for FAST, which didn't help. When Tie PIN wouldn't fit, I started looking for some kind of tie --> txxx transition theme; never heard of TACKPIN.

PLAYIN was also a mystery. In my experience, you either are in the playoffs or you are not. You don't play into them. I thought I'd heard the only odd regional variant when I learned that Gil Thorp (of comics fame) calls them "playdowns."

I can think of at least five regular posters here that I'd like to see gone before @evil doug. I don't find every one of his bons mots to be pure gold, but even a lousy day for him beats a lot of the comments here (including most of mine). I am not lobbying for anyone to leave; I'm just sayin.

I don't like the "comment on captcha" thing, but can't fail to mention that today I get CRANK.

mac 3:48 PM  

I picked the A.

Now I can't get Evil Doug as Tinkerbell out of my head.

jesser 3:48 PM  

I'm late to the party. The reasons involve a late night of significant merriment in New Mexico, so I'm not sorry. And on that note, thanks Santa Fe Fran!

Once I got TO the puzzle, I liked it. Anything with TOM PETTY crossing THE PIPS is gonna be fine with me.

That said, Rex nailed it regarding the BELaM/LaVENE cross: I just had to guess, and I guessed wrong. Meh.

I will be a TEAM PLAYER today and say that I found Doug's post revealing and thoughtful. Although I wish he wouldn't take some of the shots he takes (a few of which have gone directly across my bow), I don't think he should leave. We all belong here. Somehow.

And bacause I'm late on everything today, that shall be all. I'm catching up (and it's fun).

John V 4:01 PM  

Hand up for Doug staying on. You're part of the community, man!

Pete 4:12 PM  

@Evil - "So I have several choices. I can continue as I am. I can quit altogether and seek other outlets for my writing energy. Or I can continue, but assign myself my own ‘breakfast test’. Since I’m a vocal opponent of any restrictions on clues and answers in the puzzle, the latter self-imposed restrictions on my posts would be counterfeit and unsatisfying. So the choice will be one of the first two options."

No, there are three choices. The third one, which you miss, is simply that some of your comments are over the line, and you should use some judgement before making them, and then not make them. You dismiss this as a false "breakfast test", which you are too intelligent to really believe.

From previous posts, if you were hiring and some kid applied for the job and said he wanted it "because I ain't got no money", you not only wouldn't hire him, but would would correct his grammer, telling him that he'll never get any job of any worth until he learns to speak clearly (even though you would have known exactly what the kid meant) and in accordance with accepted norms. In doing so, you would be doing the kid a favor.

Yet you seem to think it all right to make date rape jokes, among many other over the line comments, in this forum, and that to not make them would unduly restrict your literary aspirations. This is total bullshit.

Masked and Anonymous 4:15 PM  

@treedweller: I took PLAYIN to refer to the fact that they put an extra "fringe" team or two into the NCAA field, but those fringe teams have to play one extra game with each other, in order to "play into" the standard seeded group of 64.

chefbea 4:20 PM  

I agree - Dough has to stay.

Hopefully we will have a North Carolina get together. I'll wear my IMSDave puzzle shirt and will be carrying a bunch of beets.Huum...we haven't discussed those red tubers in quite a while!!

as you like it 4:27 PM  

@Pete *grammer

treedweller 4:28 PM  

@M&A yeah, it actually makes more sense than playdowns, but I still never heard it before.

John V 4:29 PM  

@chefbea re: NC get together, maybe something over President's weekend. My wife may come down for a long weekend.

Pete 4:30 PM  

Great, auto-spell checkers.

Andrea CARLA Michaels nee Eisenberg not Levine 4:32 PM  

I feel your LAvene pain, as there are numerous waysto spell Levine, and i oftenwonder if April Lavigne is fromm one of those families trying to assimilate who changed their name from Levine.
I once met a guy who said his name ws Steve La Vine.
And i thought he was kidding. And he copped to the fact that his family had changed it from Levine, which is the oldestJewish name there is, after maybe Cohen/Cohn/kahane,'s like spelling Chanukah 327 different ways...
Mind you, not A criticism per se as I'm an Eisenberg who became a Michaels.

Luckily i had heard of BELEM but worried that I'd be the only one who'd not have heard of SAm LEVENE. I mean, I'm used to not getting sports clues (would it have killed Gary/Will to have made it Elizabeth PENA?) ;)

Now that I'm not even getting show biz clues and almost freaked out over APSIS it scares me that my day has come :(

But i do have to saythat no matter what, all at theme is completely fabulous. I laughed wheni read Rex wife comment about the THE...felt the same way, at first it felt desperate...but you really can't say Gladys knight and THE Pips without the THE, so borderline, but cool.

but like M & A, i at first misparsed THE something PARK.
I think that would be great ad campaign for Disney World to have kids proclaiming it's "The ME Park!"
Where is DarrinStevens when you need him?!

Acme 4:34 PM  

Ps maybe Just PLAYIN' can be the new "just sayin'"...
Just playin'

JubJubBird 4:39 PM  

I didn't mind THE with PIPS. Didn't feel forced at all.

Anonymous 4:45 PM  

Belem's the starting city in Amazon Trail. Only reason I knew that one.

Anonymous 4:48 PM  

Acme - Evil Doug has exceeded his limit so I will assume this is what he would say if he had not:

Acme: "his family had changed it from Levine, which is the oldest Jewish name there is, after maybe Cohen/Cohn/kahane, etc..."

Have you ever heard of Adam?


just sayin' 5:05 PM  

Hey, Farmer Ted, are you plowing as you harvest that grass field? No, I'm just hayin'.

Hey, Pops, did you spill paint in your hair? No, I'm just grayin'.

Hey, Frontier Joe, are you gonna butcher that buffalo after you take the skin off? No, I'm just flayin'.

Hey, Fido, are you really expecting to talk to the moon? No, I'm just bayin'.

Are you leaving the tip? No, I'm just payin'.

Hey, Mr. Ed, are you gonna sing for us today? No, Wilbur, I'm just neighin'.

Hey, careful, are you falling down? No, I'm just swayin'.

retired_chemist 5:10 PM  

Nice to know the derivation of "happy as A CLAM." Did NOBODY else put happy as A LARK? Would surprise me.....

chefbea 5:21 PM  

@just sayin'...sooo funny

@john v...I'll check out presidents weekend

jackj 5:30 PM  

Acme- If the Steven Lavine you met was the President of CalArts, I can vouch for his name; we have been friends for years. He is an extremely able college administrator.

santafefran 6:09 PM  

@just sayin,

Hey, Tim Tebow, are you celebrating?
No, I'm just prayin'

Michaela 7:03 PM  

INGLE: Now I know why Anne Shirley Blythe (Anne of Green Gables) called her eventual family home Ingleside. Never thought to look it up before.

Deb 7:17 PM  

@retired_chemist - My first thought was A CLAM, but I hesitated because "a lark" was just as likely.

I'm pretty new to commenting in prime time rather than syndi-land, but I figured out a few weeks ago that Rex *usually* posts at midnight, and since I'm always still up I start looking for it at that hour. Seeing how late this one went up, I can't help but wonder if its his way of bringing the commenters in line (or, perhaps even to amuse himself with our consternation).

Or he may have just been busy.

The Whiner 8:06 PM  

I actually thought today's puzzle was easier than yesterday, but maybe that was because I was more asleep than yesterday, so the slower pace just kept me in a groove...

I had to laugh at criteria for crossword content being "what most Americans know"... Yesterday's puzzle - ATTAR for smell of a rose (or whatever the clue was)... c'mon, I seriously doubt "most Americans" know that, and it was a Monday. Maybe I don't give enough credit to American geography skills, but I'll bet a majority of Americans couldn't name the country Doha is Capital of (hell, 1/3 of incoming freshmen at thought Washington DC was in Washington state! As I recall these were American freshmen, not incoming foreign students, who may well have pushed the number lower than 1/3). And we all may love, love, love Martini & Rossi Asti Spumanti, but I'll bet a majority of Americans couldn't name ASTI as the Italian wine city. I won't even go to the Greek alphabet. Yes I will... 100% of math, science and engineering types will know P is RHO, but everyone else? Depends on the percentage of Americans who are familiar with the University Greek system, I suppose (still guessing not most).

So, the real problem isn't what a majority of Americans can name, it's what Rex has seen in his crossword database. My rule for the whining here is if it slows Rex's time, it's crap.


Anonymous 8:15 PM  

@The Whiner,

Henceforth just keep your opinions to yourself and you will get along with everyone here except Evil Doug....


Rudy 8:37 PM  


54a Fireplace has fired up a number of comments. But let me provide a view from Western NC. The grocery store Ingles is based in Asheville and has all its stores within a 300 mile radius of said city. In my weekly/fornightly peregrinations from Charlotte to the sleepy town in an adjoining State I drive through the beautiful Smoky Mountains sprinkled with a number of fast food places mostly offering unappetizing fare (defintely no excuse for a REPAST). To this Northerner Ingles is a welcome respite especially after you have traversed the climb to Black Mountain and see a welcome Starbucks nestled in Ingles. I stop for coffee that is a welcome relief from the other rest stops. I guess Ingles is a true fireplace for this traveller

fmcgmccllc 8:41 PM  

I have not commented in a long time but I have been to Ning Bo and know someone from Harbin. Got Belem wrong.

pk 10:41 PM  

What is with all the blogging angst??? We think what we think about the puzzle, we check to see what @Rex thinks, and then we throw what we think out there into cyberspace. All very cool, to me.

And yes, The E was the last thing in the puzz for me today - actually last night. Just a guess. "A" would have worked just as well. Classic Natick.

For those of you who have not yet watched their TIVO'd version of Sunday's Downton Season 2 premiere, try to get to it sometime this week!

Onward and upward to Wednesday puzz, which should be up by now.

chefwen 10:44 PM  

Super late to the party, you can count me into to the loved it column. Nary a write over, I will chalk up to luck.

@Rube - Hope that you had a safe and uneventful flight home.

@Z - Don't forget about me, Peter's main squeeze.

@Evil Doug - Don't be going anywhere, we love you (at least I do) as you are.

Anonymous 11:00 PM  

Adam was not Jewish.

Anonymous 11:20 PM  

@Anon 11:30 He wasn't Jewish, but his full name was Adam Levine. Curious, no?

Tita 11:53 PM  

@Anons - I always knew Maroon 5 was an awesome band.

fergus 12:12 AM  

Evil Doug is OK.

He and I lament the lively literary, seductive misbehaviour arising from asides, tangents and digressions that arise from haphazard discussion on this blog.

So many other Dougs (from 2008?)might recall why he had to be sliced into the Evil category.

sanfranman59 12:31 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 6:01, 6:50, 0.88, 7%, Easy (9th fastest median solve time of 133 Monday puzzles)
Tue 8:16, 8:52, 0.93, 37%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:18, 3:40, 0.90, 9%, Easy
Tue 4:21, 4:34, 0.95, 40%, Easy-Medium

Anonymous 11:36 PM  

Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification seemed to be on the net the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get irked while people think about worries that they just don't know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks
TB DRZ / KLX 110 / PITSTER /OGM Tall seat

rain forest 1:54 PM  

Keep Evil Doug. Lose _____,_____,_____, and _____.

We need a Goldilocks rule for theme puzzles. Monday's had too few entries, today's too many. Let's hope the next one is just right.

Knew Belem (not Levene)and ingle. The Pips was the pip. Can't see the relevance of naming x number of cities in Brazil or in any country, but the provincialism of Americans is sobering, if not scarigh (captcha).

The blog continues to entertain in a snarky way.

Mighty Nisden 3:39 PM  

Quite the discussion today... or should I say five weeks ago. Too bad the syndilanders could not become as vocal. I remember a time back that @Rex said he wanted to refresh the blog so that the syndicators could comment all on our own.
Alas he didn't know how. Sigh. I guess the only thing to do now is join the ranks. I have been reading this blog for half a year and find it very entertaining. Fills up the time when things are slow at work and helps me understand sometimes extremely vague clues. I enjoy the CW puzzles so much more now.
All that being said, I'm making the move to prime time next week. Going to purchase the year subscription of the NYT CW puzzle.
@Rex and @Evil Doug should get a kickback as I get the paper anyway but now want to join the conversation.
It will be challenging to do a couple of CW's a day until I catch up!

As for today's five week old puzzle, guessed wrong at LEVENE BELEM cross and drew a blank on ENYA so INGLE was a complete mystery.

Mighty Nisden 3:41 PM  

Get a daily paper that is. Not the NYT.

Dirigonzo 3:57 PM  

In 1981 The Clash asked the musical question, "Should I stay or should I go?", and 5 weeks ago ED (the commenter who frequesnts this blog, not the male sexual impairment) asked the same question non-musically (and I guessing rhetorically) thereby inspiring a referendum of sorts. It's almost enough to make me wish I commented in prime-time so I could take part in the fun.

Like many others I finished only because of a lucky guess in the SE corner. I had sHortPIECE at 17a for a while, but the theme soon fixed that.

NEWT yesterday and the TEAPARTY today - who says the NYT isn't fair and balanced?

Spacecraft 4:35 PM  

@Syndy: perhaps you need a MAP to find today's M-word at 65d.
This one wasn't exactly a THINKPIECE; I'm surprised to find a "medium" tag on it. The only tough thing was the natick--and that was easily inferred by elimination.
Parts of this seem really forced; the partial prefix of ASTR is just plain UGLY. Agree that APSIS and INGLE AREIN there for obscurity's sake, and that the term TACKPIN seems redundant: here we have two types of fastener, the tack and the pin.
Mr. Cee can do better; he needs to REPAVE (ugh!) this grid.

Dirigonzo 9:14 PM  

@Mighty Nisden- Bon Voyage on your travels to prime time. I look forward to reading your comments from where I sit 5 weeks in the past!

Reed 12:21 AM  

First time poster here. Been somewhat seriously trying to do puzzles for a few months now. I found this much easier than yesterday's which I DNF'd on. I got the right guess with levene and belem.

But I put down hip instead of hep and didn't notice that answer was rottin. Doh!

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