Columnist Hentoff / WED 2-1-12 / Queen Wheat City of Oklahoma / Prefix with mom in 2009 news / Olympic skating champion Lysacek / Ranch in Giant / Soda brand since 1905 / Brand of movable collectibles / Tommie of Miracle Mets

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "WAR AND PEACE" (39A: Classic novel of 1,000+ pages ... or a hint to the word ladder formed by the answers to the starred clues) — word ladder goes from HAWK to DOVE. There's also a note: "When this puzzle is completed, the 10 circled letters, reazd from top to bottom, will spell a name associated with 39-Across"—that name: LEO TOLSTOY

Word of the Day: EVAN Lysacek (30D: Olympic skating champion Lysacek) —
Evan Frank Lysacek (... born June 4, 1985) is an American figure skater. He is the 2010 Olympic champion, the 2009 World champion, the 2005 & 2007 Four Continents champion, the 2007 & 2008 U.S. national champion, and the 2009/2010 Grand Prix Final champion. (wikipedia)
• • •

One of the most interesting and clever word ladder puzzles I've ever done. Has a real sense of purpose, illustrates the central answer perfectly. The circles are ridiculous and unnecessary, but that does nothing to alter the basic integrity of the puzzle.  Here is a 78-worder that actually has lots of interesting fill throughout. This is likely because there are no lengthy theme answers (besides the one), and though the word ladder is certainly a restriction, there is still the freedom to make the longer answers anything at all. Though there's still a lot of short stuff, there's *not* a lot of tired, dreadful short stuff. The longer answers are bouncy and the shorter stuff is solid. The only drawback (and that word may be too strong) was that the puzzle was so easy that I didn't even notice the word ladder existed. I read [Classic novel...] and, based on existing letters, knew exactly what I was dealing with. Had the whole thing done in roughly 3 and a half minutes with absolutely no idea of how WAR AND PEACE related to the circles (which I assumed were integral). Turns out it was the asterisked clues that were the important thing, and the circles a superficial afterthought (not very hard to find LEO TOLSTOY in your grid; you can find those letters, in order, top to bottom, in yesterday's puzzle, for instance). The note also seems entirely unnecessary, in that I don't need the circles to finish the puzzle, and while I'm no Encyclopedia Brown, I can sleuth hard enough to figure out that the circles, when taken in order, contain a name. And what's with the note's description of LEO TOLSTOY? "A name associated with ['War and Peace']"?! That implies the connection is much more tenuous than it actually is. "It's funny, I always associate LEO TOLSTOY with 'WAR AND PEACE'." "Huh. Interesting. Maybe that's because HE WROTE IT." What harm could there possibly be in just saying he's the "author of 39-Across"?

  • HAWK / HARK / HARE (22A: *Storied also-ran) / CARE / CORE / COVE / LOVE / DOVE
You can, of course, get to DOVE at least two steps faster—HAWK / HARK / HARE / DARE / DAVE / DOVE. Or can you not use names? Well, at any rate, LOVE is patently unnecessary (which was, coincidentally, the title of the Beatles' darker, never-released follow-up to "All You Need Is LOVE").

  • 5A: Prefix with "mom" in 2009 news (OCTO-) — easy, though wife was visibly stunned that this "story" was already this old. 

  • 14A: Tommie of the Miracle Mets (AGEE) — needed every cross. Just couldn't remember his name. Much harder AGEE than that author guy (whom I don't really know except by crossword reflex).
  • 37A: Article in rap titles (THA) — wanted "DA" but that's absurd, obviously. I love that THA is now totally normal crossword fill.
  • 42A: Columnist Hentoff (NAT) — I know the name very well, but not as a "columnist." The weird thing is, even looking at his wikipedia page, I have no idea *how* I know his name so well. I must've had to read some of his writing in college or grad school, but I don't know what.
  • 52A: Brown in the funnies (CHARLIE) — mentioned him in my Comics class yesterday (first day of classes) while discussing the fact that the Sunday funnies are essentially a graveyard. When most of your comics are *at least* three decades old, and the author of your front-page, above-the-fold, lead comic has been dead for over a decade, you know you've got a nostalgia problem. [For a genuinely funny contemporary comic that should be in newspapers but isn't, see Kate Beaton's "Hark a Vagrant" (now in book form) which at least 66% of you will Love. BrontĂ« soul with a punk attitude—specially designed for liberal arts grads and anyone who likes awesome]
  • 59A: "Give me an example!" ("NAME ONE!") — I love this.
  • 4D: New Zealand parrots (KEAS) — very close to my heart. Here's my nephew Rob (age 6, 2003) with a kea, in the Southern Alps. 

And here's my nephew Ben—who is going to be an extra in "The Hobbit"—sitting smack in the middle of Hobbit country (age 8) (2003)

  • 24D: Item in a thole (OAR) — I only ever see THOLE in the grid itself and part of me always thought it was really T-HOLE. Don't laugh. Are you laughing at me? Man, you're such a T-HOLE.
  • 45D: Brand of movable collectibles (PEZ) — they do ... move ... I guess!
  • 46D: Soda brand since 1905 (RC COLA) — that double-C is always an adventure. Makes me think soda will be Irish.
  • 53D: Ranch in "Giant" (REATA) — do puzzles long enough, and you'll learn more about RI(E)ATAs than you ever wanted to know.
  • 61D: Queen Wheat City of Oklahoma (ENID) — I have been singing "Queen Wheat City" to the tune of "Detroit Rock City" ever since I laid eyes on this clue.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


GILL I. 5:57 AM  

I am in awe of this brilliant puzzle. Just the way the asterisked answers are all position is amazing. I too got Tolstoy right away and so WAR AND PEACE was just there for the taking. But how clever to start with (war) HAWK and end with (peace) LOVE. Agree that the note was unnecesary.
Way to set the Wednesday bar Ms. Gorski....

Z 6:40 AM  

I didn't bother with the circles. I figured it would be some character in the book. Seems funny (odd) that it is the author.

This was closer to easy medium for me, mostly because of my own solving quirks. I always have to stop my self from writing OHARa for the airport. I just leave that last letter blank until the cross comes. I wanted LEg-- in my score. CAPITAL N took me way to long to parse because I wrote iLENE instead of ALENE. PROVABLE was my next to last word, giving me the R in OAR, the V in EVAN, and the L in CAPITAL N, thus making the unknown to me NAT Hentoff my last word.

The FREEP has lost a lot of quality in the last few years, but the comics are still relatively fresh. Zits, Frazz, Non Sequitar, Lilo, Pearls Before Swine all make Sunday appearances. Beetle Bailey and Blondie also make appearances, but inside and taking up fewer inches.

Loren Muse Smith 6:50 AM  

What a clever theme. Thanks, @Gill IP for pointing out the HAWK beginning and DOVE ending. Never would have gotten that. Naticked at the EVAN/NAT cross because I had "capitain." I thought the far west was really hard.

Crosses - THEDONALD/PETPEEVE and SHREDS/MULCH. I'll ask again - any constructor - are these intentional or fun coincidences?
@Gareth - you and @Rex are the only ones here I know are constructors.

I've never tried to wade through WARANDPEACE though my husband maintains it's the greatest novel ever written.

Thanks, Elizabeth.

treedweller 7:03 AM  

I was excited to see the constructor and then, perhaps because of the high expectations, found it a little flat. Too many partials for my taste. and then the ridiculously random circles (which I found more annoying because I could not view the notepad). I did like it that my first two theme answers were HAWK and HARE, leaving me to wonder if there would be a word ladder and/or a series of animals.

How come you loved this but hated the inventive way Krozel made a pangram that actually had a point to it last week? different strokes, I guess.

Anonymous 7:31 AM  

Though coeur d'alene and Joy Behar may be well known in some circles, (though the number of hits in Google, even unquoted, is fairly modest), the crossing stumped me. I just guessed.

jackj 7:42 AM  

Liz takes the multi-tasking concept to a new level with this puzzle. There’s a word ladder that takes one from HAWK to DOVE (though there’s a redundant word in the chain since you don’t need to go from COVE to LOVE to get to DOVE; the word ladder is completed without LOVE {or COVE} but doesn’t need them both.

Next we have the theme reveal of WARANDPEACE which hints at the HAWK to DOVE word ladder and then there are 10 circled letters which give us the author of WARANDPEACE, LEOTOLSTOY, when the circled letters are read from top to bottom.

Whew! But, onward, we still have to connect the circles to get the DOVE image, don’t we?

Well, you can try but, unless you’re a master interpreter of Abstract Expressionist paintings, there’s no dove to be found here. (Looks more like “the pulley to Purgatory”).

No matter, Liz has even found room in her puzzle for those lovers of SUNTEA, the GREATAPES, along with a sympathetic grace note (graceless note?) of sorts for THEDONALD of all people!

Finally, as an aside, the individual little foil-wrapped squares of DOVE chocolates contain pithy but (mostly) mushy sayings for the consumer, inside the wrapping. One of the few non-mushy favorites of theirs is, “Calories only exist if you count them.” Words to the wise? Up to you.

Liz, this was quite a construction but, what hath thou wrought?

dk 7:45 AM  

Smugly filled in the grid until I got to THA and BEHAR.

To quote Coolio: I'm lying in chalk"

Setting aside the fact that I did not finish this one... I found it ridiculously easy for a Wednesday. But then again so is a soufflé.

*** (3 Stars) Nice one Liz

Apropos of some of the posts here. I watched "Exit Through The Gift Shop last night." An interesting film on several fronts, Not the least of which is the self-creation of an overnight sensation and the reaction of the outsider art community. Rex, this is all about you and your move from chronicler to constructor... just makin a point here. Now Rex is not the main character in the film, etc. etc.

jberg 7:50 AM  

@Anonymous 7:31 - Coeur d'ALENE is almost as famous as ENID - in crossworld, that is, where they are divided by Mauna Kea. Just gotta memorize them.

Not much more to say - I thought of all sorts of witty comments and jokes while I was solving, but @Rex made absolutely all of them, so here I am empty.

I guess if you said "author of 39A" it would be a little too easy -- this way you have to get a few of the circled letters at least before you can be certain.

Now, if the circles had been symmetrical, that would have been something!

John V 7:57 AM  

I found this to be quite fabulous. Whether word ladders and circled letters to form names are spurious construction or not, the outcome was fun. Like @Rex, saw the letter count for 39A and just wrote it in. Same with PETPEEVE. Those broke the South wide open for me.

THA? WHA? DUH! Just sayin' lends a whole new meaning to "fill", IMHO.

Bring back Calvin and Hobbs and The Far Side, please. May we have them in a puzzle one day?

Geek comment: Would have preferred 55D clue to be, "Java or C# whiz", as those two languages are more or less contemporaries, not so much C++, but clue was easy anyway.

Evan Lysanek new to me.

Too bad GREATAPES and THEDONALD didn't cross, although having the former higher up than the latter seems about right.

YSER, off to a great Wednesday start. Thank you, Elizabeth.

retired_chemist 8:13 AM  

I solved this as a themeless. Easy. Not in love with it, probably because themes don't do a lot for me, usually, and this one less than most.

Some nice fill but not a lot to puzzle through. OCTO vs. OCTA was a small speed bump.

SethG 8:14 AM  

I'm not seeing why this theme is any more clever than other Gorski word ladders--LION to LAMB ("THE MONTH OF MARCH"), DAWN to DUSK ("SUNRISE, SUNSET"), or SOUP to NUTS ("THE WHOLE SHEBANG"). The circles are new, but the circles if anything detracted.

Solid, but I don't see special.

evil doug 8:19 AM  

The circles were gratuitous. Made a nice puzzle a tedious three-ring (ten ring, actually) circus.

'Capital N' is a bullshit way to waste eight squares.

I'd rather see Hitler or Idi Amin than that no-talent hag Joy Behar. Points off for letting her surface out of her muck here.

Jerry: Hey ya know what I read the most unbelievable thing about Tolstoy the other day; did you know the original title for "War and Peace" was "War--What Is It Good For?"!

Elaine: Ha ha.

Jerry: No, no.. I'm not kidding, Elaine, it's true, his mistress didn't like the title and insisted him change it to "War and Peace"!

Elaine: But it's a line from that song!

Jerry: That's were they got it from!

Elaine: Really?

Jerry: I'm not joking!


joho 8:50 AM  

There just ISNOT anybody else like Liz. Her puzzles tell intricate stories with a smoothness that few can master.

I, like @Rex, didn't appreciate the starred clues until well after I'd finished. I was very happy to see that the circles weren't the payoff.


Interesting cross there at DDE/DOVE.

Thanks @Rex, LOL at the line that follows, I AM Heathcliff!"

Required Reading 9:03 AM  

@jackj & Rex

LOVE is needed for symmetry.

Wood 9:08 AM  

A technical DNF because I had MiStY for MUSHY and KoAS for KEAS. MiLCH didn't seem to bother me... Maybe they fertilize with milk in Munich? And AGEo, well that's as credible as AGEE to me, for a sports clue. Had to have the app show me where the errors were, and ran the alphabet for KEAS. Oh well.

jesser 9:10 AM  

Ditto what Rex and everyone else said. Great puzzle! But so easy! This is three days in a row of just ripping through them without having to ponder anything or worry about the coffee getting cold (I have relapsed). Only writeover was IS tOo before IS NOT at 49A, and looking back at the clue, that was a stupid writeover. Must run to radioland.

Happy Wednesday!

Tita 9:22 AM  

Easy enough that I too forgot about the circles till the end. Nice feat, all in all. Doesn't feel like there was lots of junk (except for 6D - right on, Evil...)

Funny - it took me a while to get PHONES for TREOS...Oh yeah - that's what they all started out as, but I hardly think of them as simply a "phone".
(Maybe because I still remember that the only reason for screaming at your phone was the person at the other you really are screaming at the phone!

Oh - DNF thans to ONEiL. No clue about that ranch.

Rudy 9:24 AM  

Thanks to several of you to point to word ladder. While this was somewhat easy to solve I would have missed the nuance if it were not for your posts. But hey there was a strggle. For sometime I entertained PEYTONPLACE instead of the correct WARANDPEACE. However did not remember it being a 1000 page novel but did recall some then-racy passages. Could not find any name that was "associated" with the novel" in the circles.. and then the clouds parted to reveal the correct answer!

Evil_Doug: Love your posts too few and far between but it always brings a chuckle.. BTW I am flying Delta from Portland to San Diego and do they serve Starbuck at the back of the bus?

evil doug 9:29 AM  

Rudy: I think these days it's Seattle's Best---owned by Starbucks, and for my money just as good.


Tita 9:30 AM  

How could you forget our beloved ACME!
Joho was published not too long ago...
Imsdave graces us with gift puzzles...
Doug P(eterson) shows up here, though maybe only for his puzzles.

I do hope someone answers your question. I like to think that, as in any art form, nothing is "accidental"...

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

Oh sure, your nephew will face one killer KEA on his own, unarmed, but what does he do when faced with an entire flock?

chefbea 9:37 AM  

What a great many things going on. Had one Natick..the crossing of Agee and keas.

Better hurry up and get some sno-balls. Hostess has filed for banckrupcy!!!

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

Thought love was inserted into the ladder because the words is related to peace.

Too bad the puzzle wasn't long enough to use this ladder.


Then you would have had both love and hate in the ladder. Too much too ask for.

acmeofepitome 9:52 AM  

I was filling from right to left in the NW and couldn't figure out what kinds of ****TAPES gorillas made. I didn't know they were recording artists.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

Could someone explain how THE DONALD is the one who says "Your'e fired"?

quilter1 9:58 AM  

So enjoyed this solve. Always enjoy Ms. Gorski, and she likes quilts, too. This puzzle brought me many smiles.

Coeur d'Alene being a state capitol and showing up in the puzzle a lot shouldn't be obscure. Frequent solvers certainly know it.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

@DBGeezer - One of Donald Trump's nicknames is THEDONALD. He says "you're fired" on his TV show.

Lindsay 10:03 AM  

Definitely bummed when I saw the grid. Circles, asterisks, instructions ---- the trifecta of awfulness. But dutifully got out my highlighter and colored in the elements of the theme (which took longer than actually solving the puzzle). Filled in the answers and ....

I liked it! HAWK-to-DOVE word ladder very clever!

Back in the day I had a college roommate who was double-majoring in physics and chemistry and had a lot of labs. So she wanted a liberal artsy no-work-required gut course to round out her schedule for the followig semester and chose "Russian Literature." I was still having nightmares about The Brothers Karamozov from high school, and suggested she check out, oh maybe the Sociology department. To which Anne replied, "Don't worry. The books are in English."

Wonder how that turned out heh heh heh. I actually don't know because I snagged a room change over the Christmas break.

r.alphbunker 10:03 AM  


However, I am still hoping that the circles have something to do with the novel.

Tobias Duncan 10:03 AM  

Got up late and was dead sure it was Tuesday,this made so annoyed with the puzzle somehow.I was all set to rail that this would have made a fine Wednesday but was a terrible Tuesday.

Emily Litella voice on > Never mind.

Loren Muse Smith 10:05 AM  

@Tita and Evil Doug - I couldn't disagree more on CAPITALN. Those kinds of clues always make me smile. To echo someone yesterday - de gustibus.

@Tita - 1.I never know either if it's ONEAL or O'Neil. Today was just a lucky guess. 2. It has already been pointed out to me that there are lots of other constructors on this blog. I figured as much but didn't know who they were. I suspect you're right about no accidents.

@acmeofepitome - you must have never heard of Ray Stevens' "Harry the Hairy Ape." I still know every single word.

GILL I. 10:26 AM  

@SethG I remember her use of word ladders in past puzzle. Progressive ladders seem to be her forte and each time she uses one in a puzzle I'm still in awe. This one stood out for a Wed. which lately, in my estimation, have been pretty ho-hum.
CAPITAL N didn't bother at all; we've seen plenty of this type of cluing.
My favorite comic strip is "Pickles" by Brian Crane. Earl reminds me of a favorite Uncle.

ksquare 10:28 AM  

@Gil I.P. 12:31 yesterday: SPITTING IMAGE is a corruption of Spit 'n (&) Image (of his father), or sort of a clone.
Today, Spooner says 'Great Apes Ate Grapes'.

Two Ponies 10:35 AM  

@ Rex, Loved your Beatles joke.
Cool that your nephew is in The Hobbit.
Great puzzle.
I lucked out twice today guessing correctly at the cross of some daytime talking head and rap crap, then the ranch crossing Oneil (or is it Oneal?). Whew.

evil doug 10:43 AM  

Gill I.P.:

"CAPITAL N didn't bother at all; we've seen plenty of this type of cluing."

Precisely my point. And just because it has become tiresomely cliche doesn't mean we have to sit here and take it. After dozens of appearances, and seeing it inevitably employed as a deus ex machina device for the cornered puzzle constructor, I say: No mas. That's my gustibus....

Michael: Just bought a new collection of old Pogo comic strips from the 40's and 50's. Walt Kelly---"We have met the enemy, and he is us"---pure genius.


deerfencer 10:50 AM  

Puzzle was fun but as a non-constructor I was oblivious to all the craftiness (& craft) involved.

@ Rex: Nat Hentoff wrote forever (50 years anyway) for the Village Voice, back when it was still relevant, as a jazz critic and political columnist. He and Alexander Cockburn carried the Voice for many years IMO.

My memory of him back in the day (70's) is as a card-carrying leftie and libertarian. But I see on Wikipedia that he's become a conservative crank in his old age, supporting the second Iraq invasion and inveighing against abortion. The Voice canned him in 2008.

mac 11:02 AM  

Rex's write-up had me laughing, very good one!

Very easy for a Wednesday, but clever ladder and theme. It seems Elizabeth has lots and lots of interests, including sports. Excellent, lively puzzle, I enjoyed it.

Jeffrey 11:13 AM  

"Love is patently unnecessary" was retitled and released by Tina Turner as "What's Love Got to Do With It?"

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Not that I've ever seen the show, but the tag line "You're fired" comes from the tv show "The Apprentice" starring THE DONALD.

I enjoyed the crossword, and remember Tommy Agee from my youth as a Mets fan. (Cleon Jones was in the outfield with him.)

Rex Parker 11:22 AM  

Yes, of course LOVE is necessary for the symmetry (if nothing else). I was speaking solely from a word-ladder perspective. Sorry for any confusion. I did the write-up between 4 and 6 am.


quilter1 11:34 AM  

I don't think the comics are such a wasteland. Some of the ones I enjoy are Get Fuzzy, Zits (that kid is just like my boy used to be), Stone Soup and Rhymes with Orange.

precustr: The Little Big Horn in the good old days

Mel Ott 11:59 AM  

When I saw circles, asterisks, and a word ladder in the same puzzle I was prepared to hate it. But I loved it! Well done Ms. Gorski.

GILL I. 12:09 PM  

@E.Doug "deus ex machina" - I'm impressed - must be my day.
You may not like my analogy but here goes...When you create an oil painting - say a portrait, your main theme is usually finished to your satisfaction. But, what to do with the boundaries...Blue sky? drapes? some apples? It really doesn't matter since everyone really focuses on the subject.

Masked and Anonymous 12:12 PM  

@quilter1: Don't believe Coeur d'Alene is Idaho's capital. Gotta go with Boise there. But...

PuzSpouse informed me that there is a quilt store in Coeur d'Alene that was flat-out awesome. "The best one she'd ever seen", and she's seen a buuunch. "They have everything!" We passed thru there last fall. Real nice town.

Fave fill: OKSURE, HAWK/DOVE, PEZ/SEZ. Gotta give an honorable mention to CAPITALN, a debut. It's a groaner, but don't see many entries ending in -LN around these parts, other than Honest Abe.

Fave clue: "Columnist Lysacek", crossing "Olympic [skater dude] Hentoff". Yeah, I know -- but tryin' to make a point, here.

Fave 31 remarks: T-HOLE treatise. Har.

Noam D. Elkies 12:18 PM  

Nice multi-layer theme puzzle, appropriate for Wednesday. Wikipedia says the novel was first published in 1869, and Tolstoy's dates are 9.ix.1828 - 20.xi.1910, so there doesn't seem to be a specific anniversary to celebrate; but no matter.

Yes, names are frowned upon in word ladders — they ought to be frowned upon also in crosswords, which go to that well way too often nowadays — but it is indeed inelegant to interpolate LOVE between COVE and DOVE, so the ladder is not minimal even without the name crutch (and there are other options like HAWK/HACK/RACK/RACE/RAVE/ROVE/DOVE). But making the ladder shorter would reduce the theme content (and yes, it would destroy the symmetry if just one step were removed).

A bit of a faux pas to clue 68A:LENTO using the word "score" when 12D:SCORED is in the grid with much the same sense. But that's easy enough to fix.

Liked Rex's take on 46D:McCOLA; just don't ask for one of those with your Whopper.


Rookie 12:23 PM  

@loren muse smith. I also had "capitain," thinking that Napoleon was cluing a French word and that a captain is a military leader. Could not understand CAPITALN until I got here. Knew it had to be that but could not see the space before the N for the life of me.

efrex 12:24 PM  

I think I liked this a lot more after I finished it than when I was doing it. Mostly my fault, though: I thought that WARANDPEACE was related to the letters being replaced in the word ladder, and totally missed the HAWK -> DOVE concept until almost done. Guessed the ALENE/SUNTEA crossover.

Puzzle brought back fond memories of ASTOR Place back in my undergraduate days at Cooper Union *sigh* good times, good times...

I think I'm slowly cottoning to Ms. Gorski's style; always a good thing considering her stature in the cruciverbalist world...

LR 12:26 PM  

@quilter1 said...


Coeur d'Alene being a state capitol ...


Er, no. Boise.

Loren Muse Smith 12:33 PM  

@Gill IP and @Evil Doug -Deus ex machina was recently in a puzzle!

I think if I were a constructor I would TRY to have clues and answers like CAPITALN. I especially like them when taken a step further: Malcomb in the middle? - HARDC

mitchs 12:49 PM  

I'm normally not as big a fan of Gorski puzzles as many. But I really enjoyed this solve. Liked being able to fill in TOLSTOY and DOVE early. And what a nice touch was the exclamation point on the clue for NAMEONE.

@evil: I'm also really tired of CAPITALN tactic. Not sure it's an easy way out for constructors though. I just thought it was ultra-cute misdirection.

dk 1:18 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
dk 1:19 PM  

@Gill I. P., do you use the bottom 3/5 focal point trick. No @tobias that is not a euphemism.

@Rudy, Find a Stumptown Roasters while you are in Seattle, get the Hair Raiser blend... and send it to me :).

FYI no comics in NYT Sunday... except when they cover the GOP debates (chortle).


Bird 1:30 PM  

Great puzzle. Thank you Liz.

Only hang-up was BEHAR/THA cross. I put in TnA for 37A without thinking it would not get past Will's desk. So, THA is acceptable now?

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

Hi...long-time lurker here--several years. I would guess. We all have our PETPEEVEs. For my wife and me, it is the "capitaln," "silentc" cluing and answers. With puzzles, we are usually dealing with word/clue associations. A "capitaln" answer deals with word *construction,* which, for us, feels unfair and spoils the fun. I wish I could think of a good analogy, but none come to mind at the moment.

Apart from that, I want to thank Rex and all of you for your wonderful discussion, comments and humor. Often we laugh out loud at some of the postings, or nod our heads in agreement, because we've made the same mistakes. Again, thank you all.

By the way, typing on a Nook is an exercise in frustration, IMHO.


Theoda3rd 1:37 PM  

Not too many 1000 page classic novels to choose from. Once that was filled the puzzle flowed easily. Love E. Gorski. Thanks

Tita 1:44 PM  

Forgot to shower y'all with dazzling trivia...
ASTOR Place - named for John Jacob Astor, and the beavers in the eponymous subway station are a nod to how he made his fortune...
Also, the Waldorf-Astoria hotel was built by he and his cousin, who hailed from Waldorf in Germany.

You're welcome.

Ulrich 1:46 PM  

here's an extra bonus: The symmetrically placed


BTW I own the new, highly-praised translation and have gotten through the first third--not bad. Need another bad flu that ties me to the bed for days on end to get through the second third. Don't know about the third third...

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

If ENID is the Queen Wheat City of OK, how bad a pit can we expect the Princess Wheat City of OK to be? It's well known that the Baroness Wheat City of OK is the meth capitol of the southwest.

Ulrich 1:56 PM  

...and I discovered a really bad new feature of Google's blogger software: I had typed my text and hit preview, only to be shown an ad to create a blog on google--with no obvious way back to my comment. So, I closed the window, thinking I had inadvertently hit some button I was not supposed to hit, and tried again; but the same thing happened--text lost.

Third try: Retype again and copy to clipboard this time. Hit Publish. Same stupid thing--only adds for Google. Only then did it occur to me to widen the window and I saw that on the right, there's a box to enter my Google ID and password, while the original window gave no indication (e.g. by a horiz. scroll bar at the bottom) that there was actually something to the right. This is just a horrendous interface design in my book.

Bird 1:58 PM  

@dk - I subscribe to the NYT and missed the comics until the wife started subscribing to (wait for it) Newsday. Now I can enjoy Family Circle, The Lockhorns and Ziggy.

The NYT even stopped publishing the political cartoons! Bah!

Lewis 1:59 PM  

@rex -- funny writeup, I'm guessing you didn't get 10 hours last night.
@dk -- what is bottom 3/5 focal point?

The circles and word ladder did help me fill in some squares and correct some errors. I found the puzzle felt fresh and covered many topic areas.

I for one like clues/answers like 6D. Haven't grown old for me yet, and when they catch me I wonder when I'll ever learn. I thought the clue to this one was excellent.

archaeoprof 2:07 PM  

@Ulrich: LOL!

Now we know why the comic pages have gone downhill: the cartoon characters are the news!

JenCT 2:47 PM  

Always enjoy Gorski puzzles, and this was no exception.

Didn't even have to use the circles.

Only nitpick was 16a MULCH for soil enricher: mulch sits on top of the soil, not enriching it - but I guess it can be considered a soil enricher once it decomposes and is mixed in.

I get a kick out of Joy Behar, but definitely not The Donald...

Anonymous 3:19 PM  

There is no Uma Thurman movie called In Bloom. It was changed to The Life Before Her Eyes before it was released. How did they not catch that error?

quilter1 3:34 PM  

@Masked and Anonymous: Oops. But it is in the puzzle a lot. I wonder if that quilt store would be too much of a detour going to LA...probably.

elows: mutant Eloi

Jon88 3:44 PM  

Just for the record: "Meriting a 'Q.E.D.'" is a good clue for PROVEN or PROVED, but a very iffy clue for PROVABLE. "'No joke!'" is a good clue for SERIOUSLY, but a very iffy clue for SERIOUS ("No joke," without the quotes or !, would have worked better.) And there's really no excuse for having a faulty word ladder as the main theme.

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

Three easy puzzles in a row. Except had "oh sure" not "ok sure." On a roll!

Z 4:05 PM  

Off today's topic, but Sherman Alexie has been mentioned in the blog a few times.

sanfranman59 4:13 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)

Wed 10:14, 11:50, 0.87, 23%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:08, 5:52, 0.87, 18%, Easy

Tita 4:15 PM  

@M&A and @Quilter...

How about THAT for a puzzle theme - mistaken state capitals:

Coeur d'ALene, ID
Chicago, IL
LA or SanFran, CA
New York, NY
Miami, FL
Detroit, MI
Philadelphia, PA

Though in this community, we'd all ace it, right??

Loren Muse Smith 4:27 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 4:28 PM  

@Tita - you missed St. Louis, Missouri.

evil doug 4:33 PM  

"How do you pronounce the capital of Kentucky---Louie-ville, or Lewis-ville?"


Remember dumb blond jokes? Ah, the good ol' days....

Dumb blond: "I know all the state capitals."

Husband: "Okay---how about 'Kentucky'?

Dumb blond: "Capital K!"


Deb 4:37 PM  

Thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle and am so glad Ms. Gorski didn't let Maleska dissuade her from constructing.

A bit of synchronicity for me as I watched the latest episode of Inside the Actor's Studio with George Clooney right before sitting down to solve it and he mentioned that War and Peace is his favorite novel. (Actually, that mention may have been in his IMDB profile which I pulled up to look at during commercials.)

I also watched the latest episode of "Ringer" last night and immediately thought of my crossword-loving brethren when the camera zoomed in on a piece of sculpture at an auction labeled "Arte sculpture." Ack! It's ERTE, you dipshits! (A nod to George Clooney's favorite curse word.)

Tita 4:39 PM  

@loren - OHSNAP!

@evil - that's one I haven't heard - very funny!

(OK - going back to work now - honest...)

Theoda3rd 4:47 PM  

Why did the dumb blonde stare at the can of frozen orange juice?

Because it said "concentrate"

chefbea 4:58 PM  

@theoda3rd...that's funny!!!

long suffering mets fan 5:03 PM  

Nice puzzle, thanks Liz Gorski

FYI -- The WSJ puzzle from 1/12 by Joe DiPietro is superb -- challenging, well-clued, and nicely executed

GO G-MEN !!!!

Brett S 5:49 PM  

A short word ladder from Hawk to Dove:


Anonymous 7:10 PM  



chefwen 7:12 PM  

@Ulrich - Blogger pulls that trick if you haven't posted for a while. I fell for it three times before I thought to scroll over.

Very cute puzzle, I also did not catch onto the ladder until I was finished and went back to figure out what all the asterisks were about. Second time this week where I let out an audible AWW!

Thank you Ms. Gorski for an easy but enjoyable puzzle.

Anonymous 7:19 PM  

@Evil Doug at 4:33 -- I think the answer to your first question is KAY.

@Rex at 11:22 - Not sure if you're looking for sympathy or making an excuse or both, but it is not consistent with your avatar.

All's fair in love and war....


acmeofepitome 8:08 PM  

@loren You're correct - I had forgotten Ray Stevens' Harry the Hairy Ape. That answers my question about the tapes. My favorite RS is Ahab the Arab, the sheik of the burning sands, with emeralds and rubies dripping off of him and a ring for every finger of his hand.

Sparky 10:05 PM  

@Ulrich. I have the same problem from time to time. @chefwen. I don't know what you mean by scroll over. There is also the won't accept the catchpa problem. Generous Rexites suggest solutions. It would be better if Google were designed better.

Finished puzzle early in day. Saw title and used that to finish the circles not yet filled in. I always like an Elizabeth Gorski.

A third season on Downton? Getting near to jumping the shark.

Stan 10:10 PM  

Just a lovely puzzle. Coherent theme featuring a meandering, unforced word-ladder. And I loved TEARDROP (as a shape), RUBY RED (as a grapefruit) and THE DONALD (as a boss).

I graduated from 9-Across...

treedweller 10:31 PM  

since everyone is undoubtedly wondering, my favorite comics these days:
Pearls Before Swine
Get Fuzzy
Gil (new in syndication--see at Chicago Trib)
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Barkeater Lake
(last three web only)

sanfranman59 12:07 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 6:11, 6:49, 0.91, 14%, Easy
Tue 7:46, 8:51, 0.88, 17%, Easy
Wed 10:17, 11:50, 0.87, 24%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:26, 3:40, 0.94, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:07, 4:34, 0.90, 18%, Easy
Wed 4:51, 5:52, 0.83, 10%, Easy

xyz 8:17 PM  

computer under relo, late to party

super word ladder

I still hate effing circles, they're so lame. So merely a great puzzle.

Spacecraft 10:35 AM  

@jackj: hand up for expecting a bird shape from the circles, otherwise why bother? On the CAPITALN controversy, count me in with the "PLEASE don't do that!" side. Individual letters as entries ought to be a no-no. This includes capital-whatever, silent-whatever, etc., as well as all the spelled out letters like ENS, KUE (extra-ugh!!) and on and on.
That said, I think word ladders are cool without even being incorporated into a crossword grid, so this was another one of my "How do they DO that?" moments. The ease of solving might have been lessened with a set of Friday clues...I don't know. We have to give it a fairly high freshness quotient: sure never expected to see THEDONALD in one of these. Well,this is an experienced pro at work, you can tell.

foopill: what a certain musical group takes before a "fight?"

Simply, Ron 11:20 AM  

Just a splendid puzzle all around, including the "ladder" bonus. Thanks Mrs Gorski.

connie in seattle, capitol of washington 1:27 PM  

@quilter: a detour through Coeur d'Alene would definitely be worth it. The town is situated on a beautiful lake and has lots of great food/shops/activities. There is even a golf course with one of the holes on a man-made island just offshore that you get to on a little ferry (after most of your balls have gone in the lake).

Solving in Seattle 1:30 PM  

out here in syndicateville my first entry was WARANDPEACE - I mean what other "Classic novel of 1000+ pages" with 11 letters in the title would that be? From there on the puzzle was relatively easy.

After solving I wondered what the asterisked clues produced and was delighted with the clever word ladder Ms. Gorski embedded.

"Giant" is one of my favorite novels. When Bick Benedict was pressed at a dinner in Virginia about how big his Texas ranch, REATA, was, his reply stunned the others - "Something over two million acres. Two million and a half, to be exact."

Anonymous 6:41 PM  

"1000+ word..." = WAR AND PEACE right off the bat. And L E O T O L S T O Y in the circles. And pretty much a piece of cake solve after that...but very nicely done with the HAWK>DOVE word ladder.

@Aaron B 11:18 AM
Cant mention AGEE and Jones without mentioning the other MET outfielder, Ron Swaboda.

Anonymous 7:01 PM  

@evil doug 8:19 AM
I'll take CAPITAL N any day over crap like:
31 flavoring an Evil post? (ENS)

The Far Side. Now there was a "funny" that that was actually funny.

Anonymous 9:49 PM  

The plural of kea, I believe, is kea, not keas. Could be wrong.

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