River on Texas/Louisiana border / TUE 1-17-12 / Rodent-eating reptiles / Season-ending events on Bachelor / Sting Ray informally

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Constructor: Elizabeth A. Long

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: VINCENT / VAN GOGH (48A: With 50-Across, Dutch painter represented by this puzzle's circled letters) — circled letters form the image of and contain the words representing the images of a human face, sans left ear—EYE, EYE, EAR, NOSE, MOUTH

Word of the Day: FLOSSY (43A: Showily stylish) —
adj., -i·er, -i·est.
  1. Superficially stylish; slick: wrote flossy articles about the lifestyles of the rich.
  2. Of, relating to, or resembling floss.
• • •
[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)]

• • •

OK, this was kind of adorable, in a grotesque way. The reveal genuinely made me go "Oh! Cool," which is about the best thing that can happen on a Tuesday (you know how Tuesdays are ... always stuck in that awkward phase ... neither here nor there ... I think my friend Wade once referred to them as the red-headed stepchildren of puzzles ... no offense to redheaded stepchildren intended). Would've been cool to have the body parts embedded / hidden inside other answers, but also would probably have been too much to ask. Sometimes keeping it simple works. Interestingly, though self-portraits show VAN GOGH with a bandage on his right ear, it was his left ear that he maimed.

Puzzle felt very easy. I had only a couple minor hiccups—no idea what RATSNAKES are (32D: Rodent-eating reptiles), and had WAVE instead of WAKE at first (58A: Evidence of a ship's passing), *and* couldn't remember the damn Texas/Louisiana border river, so I had a little moment of "uh oh" there in the west for a few seconds. Eventually caught that the reptiles must be RAT SNAKES (and not, as I briefly imagined, RAT KNAVES), and so got out of there without much harm. The only other issue was FLOSSY (43A: Showily stylish), which feels very old-fashioned. Isn't that a horse's name? Why do I think that? I can't recall ever seeing / hearing the word in the wild. I like it a lot. Feels like something a character in a '30s gangster movie would say. I wrote in NEPAL instead of KOREA (57A: It used to be called the Hermit Kingdom), forgot a Sting Ray was a 'VETTE (50D: Sting Ray, e.g., informally), and spelled GREY wrong (67A: "Pardon me, would you have any ___ Poupon?"). Otherwise, I was writing (typing) almost as fast as I could.

Not much more to say today. Hope you enjoyed your long weekend if you had one. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:04 AM  

Impressive Tues.!   Clever application of the circle-in-a-square theme.  Plus some fun long answers (RATSNAKE, WENTSOLO).   This was on the tough side for me, coulda been an easy-med. Wed.

r.alphbunker 12:09 AM  

I think I found the missing ear.
[E]lizabeth [A] Long/Will Sho[R]tz

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

I didn't get FLOSSY either
VICENT VAN GOGH, nice theme

Pete 12:20 AM  

I was going to compain about FLOSSY, but ever the responsible whiner, I searched for its usage in the past 100 years. Outside of first names for cutsie animals in kid-lit, I found a usage in a Robert Parker's Spenser novel. So yeah, valid & gangsterish.

He painted himself in a mirror.

Tobias Duncan 12:25 AM  
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foodie 12:26 AM  

This was the third fun puzzle in a row. It's like Will discovered his sense of humor!
An international vibe, with good ole VINCENT VAN GOGH, a SWEDE, KOREA, and an Indian TOTEM

Speaking of SWEDEn, I'm headed there this weekend. Via Holland and Denmark, and back, all in a few days. My biological clock will be screaming.

Tobias Duncan 12:27 AM  

Wow! I am not much of a theme guy but this is impressive.Coolest theme I have seen in quite a while.

Never heard of obtrude but it makes perfect sense. This is one of the reasons I love crosswords. Always something new to learn.

This one went quickly except for a few hiccups that really cost me a lot of time.

Just got through watching a very odd/creepy BBC Outerlimits type pilot called Black Mirror.
Very disturbing, if you liked Seven you will love this.I warn you though,the premise is quite vulgar.

pk 12:34 AM  

Fun, fresh, easy. Except for Ratsnakes, which Do Not Pass My Breakfast Test. Why, oh, why would anyone want to put ratsnakes in a puzzle? Please don't ever do that again.

syndy 12:54 AM  

Poor Vincent,reduced to this.I got the theme from the blank grid-and grimaced! wasnit FLOSSY one of Peter cottontales sisters?

Rube 1:17 AM  

@Syndy, you're close... I believe it was spelled FLOSSie, but good memory recall.

I had only one writeover, the "Large pepperoni..." clue just begged for pizza. Wrong. Actually, had claSSY before FLOSSY as I'll bet most did.

As Rex pointed out, that picture of Van Gogh shows the right ear as being mutilated... wonder why.

Can't say I was particularly excited about this puzz. Being from the Pacific NW, enjoyed SOCKEYE. Similarly, had no clue about SABINE on the Texas border, but got it from crosses and think I've seen it before.

My commiserations, @ChefWen. Can you lower your standards enough to root for the Niners this week?

Jessie 1:39 AM  

Actually, Peter Rabbit's sisters were FLOPSY, Mopsy, and Cottontail. I had FLASHY, and thought "YEH?" might be okay, but then ANGOING tipped me off that something was awry.

Larry I in L.A. 1:41 AM  

I was wondering "Why Van Gogh?" (as opposed to any other portrait), and then I noticed the missing EAR...

Considering how Tuesday puzzles are usually maligned, I have to give this one a thumbs up. Some crosswordese, to be sure, but only RES struck me as particularly junky.

Almost changed YES to YEh so that 43A could be FLaShY, but then ONGOING set me straight.

Larry I in L.A. 1:42 AM  

@Jessie, aren't you glad you posted yours two minutes before me?

santafefran 1:55 AM  

There is a new, controversial biography: Van Gogh: The Life which disputes that Vincent committed suicide.


@foodie, agree about the 3 latest puzzles and hope your travels are as pleasant as the puzzles have been.

retired_chemist 2:14 AM  
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retired_chemist 2:21 AM  

Kinda grotesque. Not a fan of even famous self-mutilation. YMMV.

FLOSSY was a new word for me, but not one I expect to use in civilian life. Puzzle overall was a gimme. SABINE went right in, as did SOCKEYE. Only one writeover (1A, RILE => MIFF). A pure Nike puzzle.

Andrea intrudes Michaels 2:23 AM  

Fun and crazy!
Loved that the two EYEs, the NOSE and MOUTH were actually those face parts, and those actual words with those meanings, in the exact right places.
(instead of being part of verMOUTH, say)

So creative!

Yes, claSSY, to FLaShY to FLOSSY (?!)

Almost like Cary Grant's "Judy Judy Judy" but TRUD-E, TRUD-E, TRUD-E.

Last letter filled in was the M of MIFF...1A!
Another way to tick off: RILE

Secret bonus word/"shoutout"(?) to VINCENT VANGOGH:
TONE deaf.

Moment of synchronicity...PROPOSALS just after watching "The Bachelor".

And those coming back from a long weekend...go back and do yesterday's puzzle too! ;)

chefwen 2:53 AM  

@Rube - Have totally jumped off the Packer band wagon (only for this year) it took me about five minutes to get over my depression, as JFC said, "how can you be depressed living in Hawaii"? He is right.

I went from dressy to glossy and left it at that at that. Very tired snow birds have arrived so I was distracted. One, a extremely, excited, first time visitor, so I am in for a whirlwind tour guide expeditions. First time visitors are such a treat. It's like looking at the world through child's eyes, always a treat.

Good Puzzle, thank you Elizabeth Long.

chefwen 2:56 AM  

@Rube - Forgot to mention that I am now firmly on the Niner wagon, and will be cheering for them this weekend. Go Niners!!!

Deb 5:11 AM  

I loved this puzzle! I didn't even try to see the big reveal on my iPad because my eyes are almost as bad as my ears these days, but when I came here and saw that face with a missing ear I was delighted and amused and charmed by the constructor's sense of the absurd. Bravo, Ms. Long.

Deb 5:34 AM  
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Deb 5:41 AM  

Wow. I just deleted a comment because it said simply this:


PS @Andrea - Yesterday's puzzle was a really lovely Monday. Jasmine and lantana (which I only know as the title of a movie I watched on cable a few years ago) and an emperor's omnibus all right there at the opening felt like the start of an epic novel."

(end quote)

Then the comment box went away and the puzzle was on my screen again and I noticed that WORDS WORDS WORDS underllned all of the words that had made this puzzle such a delight for me.


Bravo, Andrea.

N.S.blube 6:30 AM  

Fun fast puzzle.

Perhaps the self portraits shoe the wrong ear missing because they are mirror images?

N.S. Blube 6:31 AM  

Er... show.

dk 7:23 AM  

I like it when my photographs are attributed to artists who are far better than me. I like it when my comments are attributed to posters who are more eloquent.

I just did not like FLOSSY. However the wonder of OBTRUDE on the the ear side more than made up for it.

*** (3 Stars) Off to brush my teethy,

jberg 7:29 AM  

Loved HOOSEGOW! Also loved the theme. I saw the face before I saw the revealer, and was getting ready to gripe about the constructor's inability to fit in the symmetrical ear - but then I came to it, so it was a true 'aha' moment, what I solve for.

RAT SNAKES are OK with me. And I pretty much followed ACME's path on 39A and 38/a abd 43/a. I couldn't remember SABINE, although it can't be more than 3 weeks since we last saw it (well, not counting the two weeks I was away!) Very nice Tuesday, Ms. Long.

p.s. How about a puzzle full of words like MONETIZE, ENTHUSE, LIAISE?

evil doug 7:32 AM  

"...(you know how Tuesdays are ... always stuck in that awkward phase ... neither here nor there ... I think my friend Wade once referred to them as the red-headed stepchildren of puzzles ... no offense to redheaded stepchildren intended)."

Saying 'no offense intended'---or adding a smiley face---doesn't forgive an impropriety. In fact, it makes me believe you actually did intend some mischief, but you're throwing in a Get Out Of Jail Free card to attempt to immunize yourself.

You have two choices: Use the word/phrase without apology (and as a freckled, red-headed---but non-step---child I think these little colloquialisms are vivid and fun), or don't use it at all.

Besides: "No offense intended" is painfully similar to "Just sayin'".


Glimmerglass 7:38 AM  

@N.S. blube: You're right on about Van Gogh. Most self-portraits us a mirror for the model. VVG couldn't use a Polaroid. Flossie or Flossy was a common nickname (for Florence, I think) a hundred years ago. Rex, a contribution is on the way via snail mail.

Franklin Delano Romanowski 7:52 AM  

RAT SNAKES is nice .... but Rat Mouse is better.

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

Oh, those wacky rhetorical devices!

John V 8:13 AM  

Liked the theme. Felt very easy indeed. Only pause was 54A, ONAIR; was thinking gas station, or something. Even got 11D, notwithstanding I've never seen, "The Bachelor".

jackj 8:26 AM  

Guess I’m the skunk at the picnic (again).

This puzzle is just silly and demeaning, needlessly making a mockery of one of the greatest artists who has ever lived. This troubled genius deserves respect and understanding, not insult.

Smarminess, thy name is Long.

Aided and abetted by a chortling Will Shortz.

Shame on each of you and the NY Times for allowing such sophomoric, degrading nonsense to be put forward as entertainment.

Hoosegowed 8:39 AM  

The fact that I've never heard of a HOOSEGOW in my life screwed me up on this one. Is that some common (perhaps British?) slang that I should know about but don't?

joho 8:51 AM  

Bonus clue: 4D "Something redheads tend to do" as VINCENT VANGOGH was a redhead, wasn't he?

As far as Tuesdays go this wins by ANOSE (an EYE, an EYE, a MOUTH and an EAR) ... which is a lot!

Whimsical and fun, thank you, Elizabeth!

quilter1 8:53 AM  

I liked pretty much what everyone else liked, HOOSEGOW, OBTRUDE, FLOSSY, good words seldom seen. So I'll tell a VanGogh story.

The son of a clergyman, Vincent lived in the parsonage next to the church with the cemetery between. He had an older brother who died in infancy, also named Vincent, so every day on the way to school or wherever, he passed a gravestone with his name on it. His mother also habitually told him that her dear first Vincent would never disappoint her the way this Vincent did. No wonder he was messed up. Thanks for the tip on the new biography. I need to read that.

Loren Muse Smith 8:57 AM  

Never heard of HOOSEGOW, also guilty of GLOSSY. For some mysterious reason, I plopped down PINKEYE instead of SOCKEYE, but, hey - aren't pinks a kind of salmon, too?

I always smile when I see a RATSNAKE slither under our house at our farm. Give me a snake over a rodent any day.

Coot 9:01 AM  

"Throw him in the HOOSEGOW and let him stay there till he's ready to talk."--J. Wayne, "Abilene Trail" 1949.

It's oaterspeak.

JenCT 9:03 AM  

Used to own a RAT SNAKE...

I know HOOSEGOW from the Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Give it Away."

Had BRASSY instead of FLOSSY, so finished with 2 mistakes!

Didn't know OBTRUDES.

Liked the theme answers in their proper places.

@jackj: I hope you're kidding...

Best headline in my local paper yesterday: "Giants send favorites Packing."

FearlessK 9:04 AM  

From http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=19971028:

"Though hoosegow, which means 'a jail', is found in mysteries, is is chiefly used in Westerns.

The word is an Anglicization of Mexican Spanish juzgao, a variant of juzgado, which also means 'jail'. This word is a borrowing from Standard Spanish juzgado 'a courtroom; panel of judges', the past participle of juzgar 'to judge', from Latin judicare.

Hoosegow doesn't have that many related forms; some rare ones are gow 'a jail', and hoose and hoosegow as verbs meaning 'to jail'. Despite the superficial similarity in spelling, the word jug 'a jail'; 'to jail' is not related; it's a figurative use of jug 'large container with cap and narrow neck'.

The word hoosegow is first found in English in 1908."

My Scots-Irish-German grandmother used this word a lot. Great word, fun tripping off the tongue.

FearlessK 9:07 AM  

She also liked the word "flossy": definitely in a pejorative sense, to mean a toxic combination of glitzy/shiny/tacky with the intent to impress.

donkos 9:09 AM  

According to Merriam Webster, Hoosegow comes from the Spanish juzgado. I believe it is slang from the American west...

I remember my father using the term as a threat "if you don't do what I tell you, you'll end up in the hoosegow".

Kurt 9:12 AM  

I broke my pick on Miss FLOSSY GLOSSY. She gets me every time.

But, as usual, Rex's comments and Evil Doug's retort carried the day.

ArtO 9:12 AM  

@jackj much too touchy. This honored rather than dissed a great artist by cleverly representing him in the puzzle.

Thought it might have a more difficult rating "for a Tuesday" given the consistent number of similar write overs many of us experienced.

Jp 9:17 AM  

Had CHICK for 20A and GLOSSY for 43A. Did not bother to check the Down clues. Fun puzzle. Typical Tuesday for me.

7thecow 9:19 AM  

Evil Doug, another in that line of prefatory comment is "Don't take this personally..." followed by the personal slam, just sayin.
Loved the puzzle, saw the two eyes and the nose and threw in mouth. Looked at the last three circles and thought "what can that be?". Then saw the 48, 50A clue- "Cool".
My great uncle had a cow named Flossy on his dairy. I can't imagine naming a mare that, seems to staid.

Mr. Spike 9:21 AM  

I'm surprised so many people felt this puzzle was easy (for a Tuesday). I actually thought it had some pretty tricky fill. I don't think that SABINE, MEREST, FLOSSY and HOOSEGOW are Tuesday words.

chefbea 9:28 AM  

Fun easy puzzle. I too was looking for the other ear til I saw the revealer.

I also agree...three great puzzles in a row!!

ABC News Archive 9:28 AM  

The Real Story Behind van Gogh's Severed Ear


Anonymous 9:30 AM  

Nope, there's no difference between face to face conversation and casual writing with a highly diverse, nearly random audience.

Sarcasm gets detected equally well in either case, so there's no need to modify one's writing to highlight sarcasm so as to avoid misinterpretation on the part of a random reader. You can be equally assured of the understanding an uncommon phrase that the one person you're speaking to in one case is the same as the understanding of the same among the tens of thousands of random readers.

Yup, there's one hard and fast rule for all things.

John Hoffman 9:32 AM  

I liked this puzzle. Minimal crosswordese!

David 9:35 AM  

LOVED the puzzle and the theme. Great, we got two eyes, there's one ear, ohhh!!!!! That kind of aha moment on a Tuesday is difficult to pull off, and Ms. Long did so beautifully.

Wood 9:35 AM  

Saw a face almost immediately and threw in MOUTH right away... then did the puzzle from the bottom up. Guessed the theme after seeing only one ear, but then didn't read the clue for 48A carefully enough and put in VANGOGH there instead of 50A, which hosed things up a bit.

I'm trying my hand at crossword construction and as a newbie I'm intrigued by the grid. It very nearly has left-right mirror symmetry, much like a face. Would have been neat if the EAR were one row above the center, so that the mirrored spot on the right side of the grid could not hold an "EAR" in the same way.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

I thought van Gogh sported a Van Dyke rather than a Fu Manchu.

KRMunson 9:51 AM  

Am I the only person who totally didn't see the face? I know it was 9:00 pm but I wasn't THAT tired...I missed the reveal entirely :-)

just sayin

jesser 9:52 AM  

RAT SNAKEs are cool critters. I've had several as pets. And I turned one loose under each house in our neighborhood when we had a rodent problem back in the 70s. Rodent problem solved, although a few of the snakes went victim to lawnmowers. I had many kinds of snakes, most notably a rosy-tailed boa constrictor (Fluffy) and a reticulated python (Pontius). And then one day, in Stephenville, Texas, at Joyce Whitis' pet store, I saw an African GREY parrot, and fell in love. I sold the snakes to a charming country boy, and I got into birds. That was 26 years ago, and I'm still loving me some parrots and macaws.

Which is a long way of saying I liked this puzzle, and it made me think of a day in 1976 on a white-sand beach off of Zamboanga when I heard a guy playing guitar play 'Starry, Starry Night' while a group of us exchange students ate our lunch. Hauntingly beautiful, his version. And then he told us about Van Gogh. Amazing afternoon etched into memory and still clear all these years later. Sigh.

Only writeovers were RAshEST before RACIEST at 40D and cLaSSY before gLOSSY before FLOSSY at 43A.

I am a freckly red-head, and I took no offense, Rex. I consider myself one of the ELITE!

Happy Tuesday, Rexville!

Paul G 10:04 AM  

@P>G> "Real Story" = different unsubstantiated speculation?

Wood 10:08 AM  
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archaeoprof 10:11 AM  

Classy, then glossy, and at last FLOSSY.

Helluva good Tuesday puzzle.

@Rex and @Evil: Here in the South, we just say, "Bless your heart." It means, "I know I offended you, but I stand by my statement."

Tita 10:17 AM  

Fun Tuesday...Grokked the theme early on.
Liked seeing the GEESE in formatino after being GOOSED yesterday (though ACME tells us it wasn't her idea..)...
Also liked WAKE for the evidence of a ship's passing...
Hand up for FLASHY.

Oh - and saw Ostrich or Kangaroo as cluing in yesterdays BEQ puzzle.

Stan 10:18 AM  

Excellent theme! I had EYE, EYE, NOSE and MOUTH before I had the artist, so the asymmetrical EAR clarified everything. Yes, three fun puzzles in a row.

"This bathroom is so FLOSSY. Don't you have an old-fashioned toothbrush?"

r.alphbunker 10:20 AM  

Met JaxInLA in LA yesterday. She lent me her ear for a couple of hours and it was great fun. Her words here do not convey her warmth and dynamism.

And I am glad that my wife got a chance to meet her also. When I talk to my wife about the goings on in Rexville and I feel like Alice must have felt when she told her mother about Wonderland. My wife now knows that I am not dreaming all this up.

BTW, isn't there something a little weird about the right ear of the Rex Parker avatar? It looks like some of it might be missing.

Matthew G. 10:26 AM  

Awesome Tuesday. Rex nailed it -- adorable in a grotesque way. I laughed out loud when I grokked the theme. It's kind of audacious, which only makes it better.

Only hard thing about the puzzle was the FLOSSY/FRA crossing. I've never heard FLOSSY before, and I really wanted to go with GLOSSY, but GRA Angelica didn't make sense (I don't know what FRA Angelica is either, but I know I've heard it somewhere).

Wade on Tuesdays 10:28 AM  

"Everybody likes Wednesdays. How could you not? They're the most earnest and striving of the crossword family; they are so eager to please and they try so hard. If Fridays and Saturdays are your know-it-all Republican uncles, Thursday is your mom when she's a bit "tipsy," Sunday is grandma rattling on about her Franklin Mint collectibles, and Tuesday is ... well, we're a bit concerned about Tuesday.

"Tuesday seems to be going through a ... phase. He's been spending a lot of time in his room (what is he building in there?), we don't know his friends, he's on the internet all the time, and where did that sullenness come from? It seems like only yesterday he was cute, adorable little Monday, so full of joy and surprise ("What does the mama cow say, Monday? What does the mama cow say?" "Moo! Moo!"), and now he's turned into this unrecognizable ... thing. (But what is he building in there?)

"We hope for the best. We hope he'll grow out of it. We hope our regularly scheduled programming is not interrupted someday because of something Tuesday did."

FearlessK 10:30 AM  

@archeoprof wrote: @Rex and @Evil: Here in the South, we just say, "Bless your heart." It means, "I know I offended you, but I stand by my statement."

or, we say "Bless his heart" as in:
"He's just dumb as a post, bless his heart."

Not sure that this spoonful of sugar really helps the medicine go down, but that could just be the New Yorker in me talking...

FearlessK 10:32 AM  

@Wade on Tuesdays: thank you so much. Hilarious!

Lindsay 10:40 AM  

Truly tasteless. Cruel. Hated it.

xyz 10:47 AM  

Decent puzzle, but oh the irony of the missing ear region being generally messy.

FLOSSY? Seriously?

xyz 10:49 AM  

Oh yeah, BONE deafness would have been real science-y, but alas, boring old TONE

JenCT 10:51 AM  

@Wood: thanks!

Loren Muse Smith 10:56 AM  

@Evil Doug and 7thCow - along the same lines, "it's just the principle" is another one that feels hollow.

"It's not about the money (or car or book. . .) - it's just the principle of the thing."

99.99% of the time it IS about the money or whatever!

Wood 11:04 AM  

A bit off-topic, but I've seen a few questions on this recently. For those who would like to use italics, boldface, or embed web links in their comment text, Blogger does allow limited HTML tags in its comments. Here's a primer:

HTML tags are used to instruct browsers on how to render text on the screen (among many other things). A tag is a special sequence of characters enclosed between < > characters, that the browser sees as instructions instead of as displayable text. You enclose text between opening and closing tags, sort of like quoatation marks, to tell the browser what to do with it. The closing tag has a '/' character in it to differentiate it from the opening tag.

To render something in italics, enclose it between <i> and </i>: <i>This appears in italics.</i>

To render something in boldface, enclose it between <b> and </b>: <b>This appears in boldface.</b>

To embed a hyperlink, it's a bit more complicated -- the URL goes in the opening <a> tag with a special href property, and the text you want to appear as the hyperlink goes between the tags.

So the following would link to Rex's blog with the words "Rex's blog" as the hypertext:

<a href="http://rexwordpuzzle.blogspot.com">Rex's blog

Happy HTMLing!

Two Ponies 11:06 AM  

I think the curved ear is what made me most happy about this visual puzzle. Very nice. Good follow-up to yesterday.
Dressy - classy- flossy, what a mess that area was. Had Nepal for a bit too along with lank which didn't help.
@ jackj, I usually agree with you but not today.
@ Wade, too funny.
@ Tobias Duncan, Thanks for BBC tip. Sounds right up my alley.
I love the "red-headed" phrase and use it sometimes.
Used to love those Grey Poupon commercials with the snobs in their Rolls Royce.

Jim 11:13 AM  

There have been an inordinate number of these early-week puzzles lately. Very easy, but with two crossing letters that are either impossible to suss out or with a clue that suggests something else and is itself difficult to unmask.

Today, gLOSSY was perfectly acceptable, as the clue could be read to fit the description of that kind of magazine.

Which made my keyboard-running exercise at SA_INE useless since the puzzle still wasn't right.

The whole rest of the puzzle took me six minutes, uncloaking this took four, plus I had to cheat.

Just ruins the puzzle experience for me.

GILL I. 11:43 AM  

Loved the puzzle. Thought of @Wade and his very funny reference to the red-headed Tuesday step-child...many moons ago.
Growing up in Cuba, freckles were an anomaly. There were all kinds of myths and legends floating about, so our beloved housekeeper, Elena, would rub lemon on my face every night to ward off the evils. It didn't work but the pups loved to lick my face.
My favorites were being told that the Romans kept red-headed slaves, and at a higher price. Then, in the 1700's the fat of a red-headed woman was an essential ingredient for poison. The "Oh, did you know there's a Russian proverb warning that there was never a saint with red hair!" I was called "la pecosa bacalao sin cabeza."
P.S. Vincent Van Gogh was red headed...
Two words that I looked up. FLOSSY and I thought OBTRUDES means to meddle. I had protrude for 39A. Still seems wrong.
Hope Wed. brings on more fun.

retired_chemist 11:53 AM  

@ Jim - The numbers in parentheses are the numbers of times each answer appeared in the NYT sice 1994 or so. Not knowing FLOSSY (1, today), FRA (45, albeit most not connected to Angelico), ÜBER (39), and SABINE (8) is no sin, but all (except FLOSSY) are pretty frequent visitors to crossworld. I understand the frustration - but none of these seems unfair to me. Just part of the learning curve.

Mike Rees 11:57 AM  

Had fun with this one, mostly. Being a snake breeder, got RATSNAKES right away, although most snakes eat rodents so the clueing IS a little vague. Got stuck in the West, first had SET instead of EBB, then realized that wouldn't work and just ... froze. Had to Google ABA, which gave away the rest of the puzzle, but I hate having to GTF on a Tuesday.

Mel Ott 12:11 PM  

The "Aha" moment when I got the theme made the whole thing worthwhile. I LOL'ed and then felt mildly guilty about my reaction. But I still liked the puzzle despite that bit of ambivalence.

CLASSY, then FLASHY, then FLOSSY. YEH was just as good as YES for 34D.

@quiler1: Thanx for the (sad) VG childhood story. Some parents really know how to screw up their kids, don't they.

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

dear comment deleted:

let's get together at the following rest of comment deleted

Naticky Sabine 12:45 PM  

Natick at SABINE UBER cross. Ugh

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

Flossie was Freddie's twin sister in "The Bobbsey Twins." All regular solvers know her sister Nan (Bert's twin), right?

Rob C 1:01 PM  

I was working on constructing an Evander Holyfield tribute puzzle...well, back to the drawing board.

Mike T 1:06 PM  

@Rob C - That sounds Yummy!

Bird 1:30 PM  

Nice puzzle and use of circled letters. And really good fill.

Like others I started with FLASHY, figuring YEH was correct. But of course ANGOING was wrong.

I also had NBA instead of ABA, but MAO fixed that.


Sfingi 1:32 PM  

Quite agreed with Rex, adorable in a a grotesque way. I should have been grossed out, but was amused. Recently read a new theory that Van Gogh was shot by a young friend, but didn't want to cause him trouble. So he let it look like a suicide.

Also, did not know of the ratsnake or flossy, but, it being a Tues., got via crosses.

One word that threw me for a while was partiers (what made a DIN). For some reason, this word means something else to me - pronounced in 2 syllables, a type of curtain. It's probably obsolete, or mispronounced, or New England or Southern by way of my grandmothers. Has anyone heard of such a thing?

mac 1:40 PM  

Nice but pretty horrific Tuesday puzzle. Apparently there is a new, huge tome of a biography on Vincent van Gogh out which shows him but especially Gaugain in a very bad light.

Easy to me, only hesitation was at 50A, where I had a V with nothing else on that line; thought it might be Vermeer.
Only write-over was at Ueber/Uber. Wrote that E automatically.

Flossy is new to me, but I know Fra (hazelnut) Angelico, so Blowsy wouldn't work. That's such a funny word.

@chefwen: don't feel bad, right after the game the Packer fans were yelling: "Go Niners"!

Go Giants!

captcha: Soest, town in Holland about an hour and a half North of Vincent's birthplace.

Old Prude 1:58 PM  

@Mike T - Now, that was truly tasteless!

Ulrich 2:06 PM  

@jackj: I respectfully disagree. The puzzle does not degrade VvG the person, who has been dead for a while and couldn't care less about a xword puzzle in the NYT on Jan 17, 2012. What I find so brilliant about the puzzle is that it pokes fun at the myth that has developed around him--by people who consider him one of the greatest artists who ever lived, by students who pin his "Starry Night" up in their dorm room, and by the general trivialization that comes with such overexposure, at the end of which we are left with a pop figure with one ear missing. THAT's what the puzzle makes fun of IMO, and that's why I, too, find it adorable.

I saw the face sans one ear right away and was anxious to find out where the other ear went--my guffaw when I saw it was worth a whole week of puzzles.

BTW I do not find VvG one of the greatest artists who ever lived (although he was pretty good), but that's not the point here.

Mike T 2:15 PM  

@Old Prude - No it wasn't. In fact it was reminiscent of chicken!

Tobias Duncan 2:35 PM  

I have a bad cold.
During my second shower today(really helps the congestion) I was thinking about the puzzle and the word obtrude popped into my head.How the hell did I convince myself last night that I did not know that word? Somehow in my brain it was mixed up with abstruse. I even spelled it obstrude the first time I tried posting last night but the spell checker flagged it.

Ahh the joys of dyslexia...

Lewis 3:09 PM  

Evil and 7thcow and loren -- excellent points made

@r.alph -- jax lent you her ear? Oh was this her representation in the puzzle?

@wade -- great post!

@robc -- made me smile

This was a solid Tuesday puzzle. One reason I love this blog because it helps me keep perspective; I am always surprised by the things people know off the top of their head that are totally unfamiliar to me, and the things I think everyone knows that people say stumped them.

sanfranman59 3:36 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 8:47, 8:52, 0.99, 56%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:57, 4:35, 1.08, 76%, Medium-Challenging

Lojman 4:07 PM  

Excess umbrage, thy name is JackJ! This is hardly degrading of so brilliant an artist. This is, rather simply part of the pop culture that surrounds everyone's favorite one-eared late 19th century Dutch post-impressionist genius.

@Jim - I had the exact same experience, fussing with SABINE until I finally cried uncle and found that gLOSSY was wrong. Except for me it didn't ruin the puzzle. Must mean I liked it a lot.

@Wade - keep that kind of comedy rolling! Million thanks.


Anonymous 4:30 PM  

For all those who liked Wade's post, it was excerpted from when he filled in for Rex in July 2008 (click on it to read it in its entirety). Long ago and far away, Wade was a regular commenter here. A very funny commenter here.

Tita 4:35 PM  

@Rob C...
You made my day!

fergus 4:52 PM  

OK, not FLASHY, how about FROTHY? That left RANK and YEH, both plausible. A failed Tuesday feather to stick in my cap.

Sparky 5:37 PM  

@Sifingi. Portieres are doorway curtains often used in a wide doorway. My mother would say "Close the portieres". Oh, she loved to put on the dog.

That dress is too FLOSSY: a jabot, lace at the cuffs and a three tiered skirt.

Found it to be a good effort at something different. Saw the MOUTH and then went hunting for the EARs. Ah Hah. Shouldn't this put to rest the question of repeated words? Yes, if you want to. Or need to.

On to Wednesday.

Two Ponies 5:54 PM  

Oh, I forgot to mention earlier that when I saw Sting Ray I thought "Oh no, a comics book guy or a pro wrestler." Vette was a cool answer (one that I knew).

Anonymous 6:58 PM  

@Evil - No offense intended but you are back!

@Chefwen - I enjoyed the Giants - Packers game so much that I'm keeping it on my DVR to re-watch it every Sunday to get my football fix until the fall. It also helps with the depression caused by Chicago winters.

Ear today gone tomorrow....


Z 7:47 PM  

I tick off items on my list, so 1A took a little sorting out, otherwise easy breezy. Between Ruben's Rape of the Sabine Women and The Dead Kennedy's California Uber Alles, I had no trouble with the "Natick" at 46A/41D.

What does it mean that the ratio of red-heads on this blog seems to far exceed the rate of red-heads in the general population. Evil? Jesser? Gill I.P? Care to hypothesize?

Z 7:48 PM  

And today I even got to use a new (to me) html tag. Thanks Wood.

chefbea 8:05 PM  

Just finished dinner. Made the best Beet soup ever. Anyone want the recipe?? Just e-mail me

GILL I. 8:14 PM  

"You'd find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair," said Anne reproachfully. "People who haven't red hair don't know what terrible is."
"Anne of Green Gables"

mac 10:28 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tita 11:25 PM  

@chefbea...Yes, please!
I have not been a fan of beets, but maybe I'm just a victim of bad beet cuisine...I'm always willing to try again with some expert help...

sanfranman59 12:32 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 6:24, 6:50, 0.94, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:56, 8:52, 1.01, 59%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:34, 3:40, 0.97, 42%, Medium
Tue 4:47, 4:35, 1.05, 65%, Medium-Challenging

Diomar Salvado 2:39 AM  

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Mighty Nisden 2:28 PM  

As I continue my travels to prime time, these robot posts (note the two above mine) are annoying.

No problem with this puzzle for me and that is saying a lot. I found it good fun and a worthy effort.

Dirigonzo 3:41 PM  

From the syndicate, FLaShY/FLOSSY writeover like so many others, yadayadayada (to extend the Monday theme for another day). That is all.

rain forest 5:28 PM  

Though no one will care what a sindy poster says, but speaking of annoying, these "breakfast test" opiners really tick me off. What does it mean to "fail the breakfast test", and why would "ratsnakes" do that? While I'm in the complaining mode, what could possibly be construed as "grotesque" about this puzzle. Honestly, this is a PUZZLE and a very good one at that, for a variety of reasons. Is there some crossword PC thing going on about which I am completely unaware? If so, I would rather not hear about it.
Red-haired stepchild.

DJ Stone 5:59 PM  

Kudos to Rex for the St. Vincent video. Made me think of 4AD's early days, with Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil and early Throwing Muses. The synth washes on this song were truly gorgeous, truly romantic.

Tnanks, Rex!

Anonymous 6:03 PM  

@rain forest. 32 down would have failed the breakfast test if the thought of a snake swallowing a rat caused you to lose interest in your breakfast. Or perhaps much worse.

Spacecraft 9:12 PM  

These captchas are something else. If this post makes it through, it's only because I made a successful GUESS. Come on, lighten up already! Can't we "prove [we're] not robot[s]" with something fairly legible?? What IS that half-in and half- out of the black/white? Is it an R? An I? It is one letter--or two?? I'm going to invoke Coach Ditka again:


Now to today's very clever offering: I liked it, but FLOSSY is a new one on me. I guess it must be the modern equivalent of "foppish." Don't understand the derivation, though. To me, floss is tooth string. Not much to be "showy" about. On the contrary, I'd rather keep that stuff hidden.

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