Mother of Helios / WED 2-29-12 / Siege site of AD 72 / Subj of space-to-earth experiment on Apollo 14 / Sesame Street supporter in brief / Tony-winning role for Mandy Patinkin / regime pre-1789 French government / Greek peak SE of Olympus / Walt Disney had 26 of them

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Constructor: Kevan Choset

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Broadway phrases — familiar two-word phrases in which the first word is also the title of a famous Broadway musical; clued as if the phrase related directly to the "Broadway" show

Word of the Day: ANCIEN régime (67A: ___ régime (pre-1789 French government)) —
The Ancien Régime ([...] Old Regime) refers primarily to the aristocratic, social and political system established in France from (roughly) the 15th century to the 18th century under the late Valois and Bourbon dynasties. The administrative and social structures of the Ancien Régime were the result of years of state-building, legislative acts (like the Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts), internal conflicts and civil wars, but they remained a confusing patchwork of local privilege and historic differences until the French Revolution ended the system. (wikipedia)
• • •
Pretty standard fare, about which I have no strong feelings. Right-over-the-plate "First Words"-type puzzle, with the "Broadway" cluing in lieu of a "Broadway" revealer. So far this week has been textbook, difficulty-wise. Monday in the 2s, Tuesday in the 3s, Wednesday in the 4s. Thematically, this is the best puzzle of the week so far, but sadly that's not saying much. Outside the theme answers, the fill was pretty ragged. AAHS next to PSAT. EPA RLS NAS in the middle. INIS XTRA. SEEPY? I could go on (and on). Lots and lots and lots of ick. This lack of attention to the overall quality of fill has been a real problem of late—something that many of my constructor friends remark on regularly. I don't know why standards seem so low for non-theme fill. I get that there is a "theme-above-all" attitude that prevails, but overall fill quality should have a slightly higher bar to clear than it currently seems to have.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Security desk at a Broaeway theater? (RENT CONTROL) — security desks are called "controls?" News to me.
  • 23A: Simian on a Broadway set? (GREASE MONKEY)
  • 37A: Understudy in a Broadway show? (HAIR REPLACEMENT)
  • 48A: Pessimistic Broadway investors? (CHICAGO BEARS) — somehow never noticed until today that Chicago has both BULLS and BEARS
  • 59A: Nighttime Broadway wardrobe? (CATS PAJAMAS)

There were a few tricky places in the grid today. Had GAEA and then RHEA as the [Mother of Helios] (THEA), which meant TITUS took some time to come into view (7D: Emperor who completed the Colosseum). I thought the ["Sesame Street" supporter, in brief] was going to be a single human being, like a PBS donor or something, so NEA needed crosses. I will never ever remember whatever it is that MASADA is, despite seeing it several times now (46D: Siege site of A.D. 72), and it took some scrambling to put it together today because I had ODESSA at first at 46A: Greek peak SE of Olympus (MT. OSSA). I guess you can tell what letters I had in place when I made that (bad, unthinking) guess. Clue on ESP was interesting. Normally I'm against elaborate clues for junk fill, but that some trivia I don't mind knowing (52D: Subj. of a space-to-earth experiment on Apollo 14). Did not get the pleasure of encountering the MOE clue until I had it completely filled in from crosses (62A: "The Simpsons" character who says "Oh geez" a lot).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Glimmerglass 7:39 AM  

Good morning. Where is everyone? The puzzle was easy/medium for me, so it must have been very easy for the regulars. Do you all live in Tornado Alley?

The Bard 7:42 AM  

Othello > Act II, scene III

OTHELLO:Iago is most honest.
Michael, good night: to-morrow with your earliest
Let me have speech with you.

CASSIO: Good night, honest Iago.


IAGO: And what's he then that says I play the villain?
When this advice is free I give and honest,
Probal to thinking and indeed the course
To win the Moor again? For 'tis most easy
The inclining Desdemona to subdue
In any honest suit: she's framed as fruitful
As the free elements. And then for her
To win the Moor--were't to renounce his baptism,
All seals and symbols of redeemed sin,
His soul is so enfetter'd to her love,
That she may make, unmake, do what she list,
Even as her appetite shall play the god
With his weak function. How am I then a villain
To counsel Cassio to this parallel course,
Directly to his good? Divinity of hell!
When devils will the blackest sins put on,
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows,
As I do now: for whiles this honest fool
Plies Desdemona to repair his fortunes
And she for him pleads strongly to the Moor,
I'll pour this pestilence into his ear,
That she repeals him for her body's lust;
And by how much she strives to do him good,
She shall undo her credit with the Moor.
So will I turn her virtue into pitch,
And out of her own goodness make the net
That shall enmesh them all.

Z 7:44 AM  

Big improvement over yesterday. I liked the theme enough that the fill went unnoticed. Whenever there are those 3 square wide sections like today in the east and west you inevitably get some less than stellar fill. To Choset's credit we didn't get any RRNs or crossword birds today.

captcha - Fothaing testax - a pretty accurate description of my response to the recent Blogger "improvements."

Anonymous 7:53 AM  


jberg 7:54 AM  

Great theme, easy puzzle - should have been Tuesday. Me too for rHEA, and, inexplicably, amOr before EROS at 66a. I had TROJAN and MASADA before I got to 46A, so I knew it was MT something, and I only know one 4-letter Greek mountain. (Only 1 4-letter character in "Othello," too, honest or not.) But in the saying, they pile Pelion on Ossa, not on Mt. Ossa.

Only real problems were deciding between PA and Py JAMAS, and reconciling myself to the grim reality that SEEPY really was the intended answer.

Ditto for Bulls and BEARS - I started to write in the former, before I realized that it wasn't right.

dk 7:55 AM  

No ♡ 4 this 1.

Had to solve online and seeing MR. Happy ✎ was the best part of the experience. While not quite in the 🚽 fill like SEEPY, HEHE & DABOOMB did not my morning make.

I was also cheesed off that I failed to remember MASADA and ANCIEN crossword obscura that I should just know.

🌟🌟 (2 Stars) You know it is a bad solving experience when you can not muster up a chortle for DCUP.

AnnieD 8:04 AM  

Way too easy for a Wed puzz for me. No real hitches. Didn't know Mt Osso but got it from the crosses.

I remember Masada as the story was made into a decent TV mini-series back in the day when they did such things with Peter O'Toole and Peter Strauss.

Had the same reaction to SEEPY. Really?

evil doug 8:13 AM  

HEHE. Rent 'HAVOC' if you want to see Anne HATHaway topless. Some nice AAHs. Not D-CUPS, not DA BOMB, no OSCARS, maybe not the CAT'S PAJAMAS---but also not the typical Anne role. Interesting career choice....


Sue McC 8:15 AM  

Other than SEEPY, I liked this one. Fun theme. Yeah, most of the fill was just meh, but it all went in easily enough. A nice way to start a busy Wednesday.

Evan 8:16 AM  

Given that the CHICAGO BEARS are one of my two favorite teams (the other being the Bulls), I feel slightly embarrassed that I dropped in CHICAGO BOARD at first (as in, a short-hand for the Chicago Board of Trade).

But even though I'm an NBA fan, I'm not slightly embarrassed that I've never heard of TRICK KNEES before. Weak knees, bad knees, injured knees, all yes. But TRICK KNEES? Is that the medically accurate term for knee joints that try leap out of the mouth and escape the body, like Dr. Nick Riviera's disease Bonus Eruptus?

SethG 8:18 AM  

No dimmer switch on that thing?

AS WE and AS I should have crossed.

AnnieD 8:21 AM  

BTW, comments box better now...nice and narrow, sans serif font is easy to read...wish i could say the same for the captchas...though it is better without the black blob.

efrex 8:22 AM  

First time in a long time that I'm even more down on a puzzle than Rex: junk fill everywhere I look, with proper names crossing foreign words and partials littering the entire grid. Even for a musical theater buff like yours truly (I've seen nearly 20 performances on Broadway of the five shows listed: no, I'm not giving a break-down), the theme didn't particularly sparkle; certainly, not enough to justify the fill.

I'm probably the only one who thinks this, but MASADA almost counts as a bonus answer: there have been at least two separate attempts to write musicals about the siege, and it is a fascinating site & story.

John V 8:29 AM  

Medium, mostly 'cause of NE and MTOSSA/MASSADA and THEA/TITUS near-Natick crosses. DABOMB? Really? SEEPY = todays entry in the continuing series of autonyms.

Favorite fill, TRICKKNEE, esp. as I had ISAC for the longest time.

Alternatate clue for 22A: "Where she keeps de breast?"

Early escape back to CT this week, no hotel rooms in Charlotte because of a big basketball tournament. Thursday puzzle from my living room. Looking forward to that.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

This had a stinky old school feel to me and stinky puzzles are no fun for me to fill.

The NW was the best part but went downhill quickly.

Sigh. Oh well.

Matthew G. 8:47 AM  

I liked this quite a bit, although SEEPY was pretty irritating, especially crossing an unusual name spelling like RAE. Made exactly the same mistakes as Rex in two different places: GAEA/RHEA/THEA and ODESSA/MT OSSA. The latter was the bigger problem, because guessing ODESSA had my mind focused on finding a single-word answer and I didn't see the obvious MT for way too long.

But I really liked the rest of the puzzle, especially the theme. Guessing the musicals and resulting puns off the initial letters was a big part of the fun today.

JenCT 8:47 AM  

Not much to say that Rex hasn't already said.

Anyone know why the "Email followup comments" box has disappeared? (solving on the iPad)

Sam B 9:01 AM  

Went through the exact same process in the N w/ GAEA, RHEA, THEA.

As a Chicagoan, I appreciated the BEARS answer. We also have other non-Wall Street animals like the CUBS and HAWKS. Somehow, we also have the WHITE SOX. Not sure where they fit in with the animal theme, although I've thought about doing a puzzle with the four Chicago sports animals as a theme.

As for MASADA, I've climbed it twice in my life, so I can't really miss on that one!

Pete 9:13 AM  

CHICAGOBLUES. There, I've got a unique wrong answer. Yea me!
BEARS aren't pessimistic, they simply believe that the market is going to go down, and try to figure out how to make money that way.

PAVLOV wasn't a dog handler any more than I, I mean I pet mine, walk them, play with them, feed them, but I'm not a dog handler in in any sense of the phrase. He was a physiologist who studied the autonomic nervous system, including at one point the salivary response, and dogs were merely one of a dozen animals he studied.

It's an APexam, not an APTEST.

Sir Hillary 9:21 AM  

As Keith Richards says about rock music, it's been around long enough that basically everyone is ripping everyone else off. Same with crossword themes, so to have one like today's that felt fresh is worth the so-so fill in my opinion.

Tita 9:22 AM  

Was kinda hard for me - those same obscurities got me.
There were things to like: PAVLOV, TRICKKNEE, TWINCITIES...

@Z - no crossword birds? How about the most common of all, the (ironically) RARA avis at 38D?

So few comments today?
Methinks we are seeing comment attrition brought on by those succumbing early to the horrendous new style.

orangeblossomspecial 9:23 AM  

Had ohms in place of MHOS for the longest time, but MTmSSA didn't make sense. I don't think MHOS had been discovered when I had physics.

Give me a head with HAIR; long, beautiful HAIR. Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen. Wish I had some at this age.

GREASE: You're the one that I want!

jackj 9:30 AM  

This was a rather unusual puzzle in that it was a rather easy solve, making it seem, at first, like just an average offering by Kevan Choset, but on reflection it is actually quite a special piece of work.

The theme answers are all topflight, especially that impressive 15 in the center of the grid, HAIRREPLACEMENT and the rest of the puzzle sings, with answers that don’t often show up in the normal course of solving like PAVLOV, TWINCITIES, TRICKKNEE, HAVOC, DABOMB and VALUE, (a nice, kinder, gentler entry when clued as “Care about”).

Even much of the dreaded crosswordese has been dealt with in a thoughtful manner so that boring answers like MISC. are pepped up with the nifty clue, “Odds and ends, abbr.”, CHE is not clued by a reference to the movie’s, Omar Sharif or Antonio Banderas, but to the talented Broadway star, Mandy Patinkin and, best of all, maybe, DNA is honored with the clue “Strands in a cell?”.

That level of attention shows great respect for the solver and merits a grateful “thank you”.

A palate cleanser for us after yesterday’s blue-plate special of unidentified offal.

chefbea 9:40 AM  

Had a little trouble so had to google a few things. Didn't get the theme til I was almost finished

quilter1 9:47 AM  

Better than yesterday, the theme answers were good, but agree about some substandard fill.

I'll be away for a week celebrating our 45th anniversary by attending the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Louis (BBQ & jazz), visiting the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY (and visiting quilt shops), and the Delta Queen River Boat in Chattanooga. See y'all next week.

Tobias Duncan 9:49 AM  

I just hated this puzzle and I am not sure why.I held such a grudge after SEEPY I think it may have flavored the rest of the grid.

Early morning solving was a drag today.
Just not in my wheelhouse somehow(eh? see that? thats a sportsism!).

Cathyat40 9:53 AM  

Beaucoup d'ancien crosswordese!

evil doug 9:56 AM  


Nice tour over at Budweiser---free samples! Museum of Transportation out in the burbs---lots of big trains and stuff. And St. Charles is a cute little town full of antiques, shops, restaurants....

Go you Drake Bulldogs---shock the world!


Masked and Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Zipped thru this puppy, only to crash and burn at the MASAD?/?NCIEN intersection of death. Snort.

Missin' the silver bullets on the blog, so...

- APTEST: Advanced Placement Test. An APT entry to cross PSAT. Brought to you by the College Board dudes.
- MOE: Don't catch this show much anymore. Did catch the anniversary millionth one, a few weeks ago. Liked it when Moe moved into the commune with 'em. Don't recall any "geez" action, tho.
- V: Three of the little jewels in the top row, thanks to PAVLOV TVs, which our dogs cannot stop watching.
- U: Been a tough week for my old friend. Countin' 3 today, which is pretty much the average.
- STN: Son of James Bond's boss, M. Went on to sainthood.
- TRICKKNEES: Primo fill here, with the rare double-K. Frosty cool clue, too. Kinda the opposite of the clue for TROJAN.
- INIS: This kinda stuff is almost always an M&A pleaser. First of all, it's easy to get. Second, it's always a hoot to see how desperate the clues can get, to accomodate it. Third, ... see Rick Perry.

Doh! I Robot! Coulda sworn that was a "euchindxsnf mentledii".

Ulrich 10:23 AM  

As someone who never to a HS here, the crossing of APTEST and PSAT was a personal natick, Even thou I guessed right, there was no happy pencil to pat me on the shoulder--a distinct DISadvantage if you stick to p&p. Surprised myself for having heard of all the musicals in the puzzle.

As a Rhinelander, I loved of course the clue for ACH, even tho we are famous in Germany for having a generally sunny disposition. This is an example: Several years ago, the Elbe, known to puzzlers throughout the US, flooded heavily. TV showed a victim who lamented endlessly, with many ACHs thrown in, when his roof could be seen floating down the river. The person who reported this, a Rhinelander himself, claims that a Kölner (person from Cologne) in a similar situation (TV showing his roof floating down the Rhine) would have pointed this out with glee and announced proudly; "That's my roof!"

Loren Muse Smith 10:26 AM  

Question – what’s with the discussion yesterday about “follow-up emails?” After I post here, is some kind of follow-up going to my spam? A lot of you complained that a feature has disappeared, and I never seemed to have it.

About today – I was afraid a good many would complain about the MTOSSA/MASADA cross, and I was right. Things Helenic are not my bailiwick, educated though I may be; TITUS, THEA, MTOSSA. . . were a bit of an enigma. Met some resistance, too, with HEHE.
Still solving with Dad, and I must be slipping. I usually have to walk him through starting on Wednesdays, but he saw TRICKKNEE and INIS before I did. God!

Spelled ISAK wrong, too, @John V.

Loved DABOMB, TWINCITIES, CHOMP, and SEEPY didn’t bother me one single bit. Overall a nice, crunchy fill. Thanks, Kevan.

mac 10:28 AM  

Nice theme, not so great fill.
Good to see Mandy Patinkin included as well, and for a Broadway role. I knew him first from the Chicago Hope series. What a voice.

Just read an interesting explanation of Masada in Nathan Englander's new book of short stories. I'm learning a lot about people and rules and rites I knew little about.

Two Ponies 10:34 AM  

Like @ Pete I tried Chicago Blues at first. It seemed to fit the clue better than Bears.
For Pavlov I was trying to remember the Dog Whisperer guy Cesar.
Substandard IMO but better than yesterday's "Look I can make a list of 13 letter clues."

chefbea 10:46 AM  

@Quilter1 enjoy St. Louis. @Evil is right..go to the brewery and by all means go to the arch...which I saw being built as a child.

GenJoneser 10:49 AM  

Hand up for climbing Masada, but only once (unless you can't up and down!). Congrats @Sam B! Fascinating story and place.

KRMunson 10:54 AM  

@Pete - I had ChicagoBlues also :-)

treedweller 11:01 AM  


tried Stossa, then Ptossa, then google.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:02 AM  

@loren muse smith - As JenCT noted this morning, and several others did yesterday, the option to have follow-up comments sent to your email has disappeared. Last week, and as far as I know all the way back to the creation (of the blog), there was a box in the comment menu which when checked would have all succeeding comments sent to your email address, thereby keeping you up-to-date with what others have said. (It was something you had to opt into, so it wouldn't have happened unless you chose it.) The alternative, at least for me, is to return to the blog, scroll down to the word comments, click on that, then scroll down to what I believe is the last comment I have read. Way more work, something I am not likely to do very often.

Yesterday Sparky said she still had the follow-up option. I would be interested in hearing from her or others who find this still true.

JenCT 11:03 AM  

@loren: used to be, when posting a comment, there was a checkbox underneath that said "Send followup emails," and I would get subsequent posts sent to my email account; I could read all the following posts without having to go back to the blog.

This feature has disappeared in just the last few days???

JenCT 11:04 AM  

@Bob K: I see we were posting at the same time!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:06 AM  

@loren muse smith - Meant to add, if you read my previous comment, please make a short post to let me know you have seen it!

FearlessK 11:07 AM  

Great trip! QuiltMom visited the quilt museum in Paducah last spring (during the floods!) and loved it, but I think Hancock's was almost a religious experience. Enjoy!

Rudy 11:07 AM  

MHO Money?

40d for the plastic protector crowd was too easy but controversial. There is the more august Siemens (he said, semen, he-he!) which was adopted back in the early 70s but never caught on. And the lowly MHO took hold. You know the same crowd loves anagrammtic words for inverse operations and/or properties. There is a litancy of such words, ??What me Worry

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

@Sam B = The Chicago Blackhawk team was named after Chief Black Hawk, a Native American of the Sauk nation and an important historical figure in Illinois. For your animal theme try the Chicago Wolves, the minor league hockey team.

@Pete - I also had BLUES before BEARS, so don't feel alone.

PS. While Sam B works on his animal theme I intend to review every single one of Rex's 2011 posts to determine how many times he did not like the non-theme fill last year. I expect to report back shortly, like in 2014....


Arundel 11:17 AM  

All I have to say is "meh." I think SEEPY entirely covers my thoughts on the puzzle. Nothing to write home about.

It's been a long time since I posted, but it certainly does look different now. I wonder whether it's the changes Google is making all over the map...

My real reason for posting, though, is to ask whether anyone has any information about the Harvard crossword tournament, which has previously been held in late April or thereabouts. It just seems to have fallen off the calendar this year!

Loren Muse Smith 11:18 AM  

@Bob and JenCT - Thanks for the info. I wish I had known about that feature and would love to see it come back.

jesser 11:26 AM  

The (messy) progression of 1D: whet. honE. PARE. Yikes.

I am a graduate of Mayfield High School, home of the TROJANs. Insert your own punchline. I've heard them all. HEHE.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

GILL I. 11:28 AM  

I'm not as picky today re the short fill because I loved the long theme answers. I guess I'm way off with the enjoyablility factor compared to many Rexites.
Maybe because I've seen these Broadway shows and they ALL were DABOMBs. HAIR was the first musical I saw when I came back to the U.S. My brother, who lived in NYC, told me I had to be welcomed to America and that after 8 years of isolated fascism, I deserved a PAVLOVian wake-up call. LET THE SUNSHINE IN !!!!
I'm with some of the other posters who are wondering about the disappearance of the emai follow-up comments. What's going on? Is this permanent? This isn't going to go over well with our syndy friends...or me for that matter.

chefbea 11:28 AM  

I never opted for the e-mail that we don't get now. I go back to blog many times a day. After I read the last post, I write down the # of the comment and the time...then I know where I left off.

Tita 11:38 AM  

Wow - what dedicated posters...
I just leave the window open, and occasionally refresh it...
Nice thing about that is that it (usually) keeps me at the same place in the posts, so I instantly can see the new ones.

A few more handy hints re: Browsers:
1. When I click on Comments from the Rex writeup page, I right-click, and "Open in New Window". That gives me a bit more control over the window. (at least it did, b4 the "improvements")

2. font and image sizing...
ctrl + increases them
ctrl - decreases them
ctrl 0 brings it back to the default.

Two Ponies 11:50 AM  

I forgot to say earlier that this puzzle had me thinking of our old friend @Greene. I'll bet he would like it.
Also, I cringe whenever Bret Harte is in the grid. I made the mistake of reading his horrid book American Psycho.
I never used the e-mail option so don't miss it.

Nobody. Who are you? Are you nobody, too? 12:01 PM  

Bret Harte, author of Luck of Roaring Camp, was about a hundred years ahead of Bret Easton Ellis, who wrote American Psycho.

Z 12:02 PM  

Another missing feature is the minimize feature. Clicking on the name/time used to minimize just that comment. This is gone. It was a great way on a day with many posts to keep open the comments I wanted to respond to.

So - someone asked why there were so few posts by mid-morning. Rex didn't get this posted until after 7:30a.m., so the night before crew that normally post the first 20 or so comments aren't present.

And @someone else - the missing Birds I was referring to were the erns, ernes, emus rocs, terns, teals, etc of the crossword aviary. I didn't even noticed the ironic RARA avis.

archaeoprof 12:05 PM  

MASADA, TITUS and the Coliseum made my archaeo-heart go pitter-pat.

BTW, MASADA is the only undisturbed site of a Roman army siege. With all due respect to the Jewish rebels, for the Romans that was just another day at the office...

Anoa Bob 12:28 PM  

Like Two Ponies, thought first of Cesar Millan when I read the 1A clue "Noted handler of dogs". Pavlov didn't really handle the dogs. The lab assistants did.

Bit of anti-trivia: Pavlov didn't use a bell for the conditioned stimulus, the one that brought on salivation after it became associated with food being put in the dog's mouth. He tried a bell at first, but said the sound upset the dogs. He switched to the ticking of a metronome as the conditioned stimulus, and used that throughout most of his experiments.

But I guess "Does that tick a metronome?" doesn't have the same ap-peal to it as "Does that ring a bell?".

Two Ponies 12:51 PM  

@ Nobody,
Thanks, I got my Bret's mixed up.
@ archaeoprof, Another day at the office. Good one.

Sfingi 1:16 PM  

MASADA and TITUS was a reminder of what a hard time Jews had under the Romans.

Like @Chefbea - Googled, and finally got the theme, which was a good one.

@AnnieD - I wish people wouldn't feel obliged to brag. There are lots of new solvers who don't need that, and I find I'll never learn certain subjects, esp. sports.

Rex - what is the purpose of the new captchas?

dk 1:26 PM  


As I understand it REX disabled the email feature so he could better control our behavior.

iRobot 👾

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

I read the clue for 45d as Rhine wine. After finding ACH from the crosses I said ACH as I did indeed Rhine whine.

ksquare 1:45 PM  

@orange blossom special 9:23, MHO is not a new invention. When I learned about electricity with Tom Edison, conductance was the inverse of resistance. Hence, MHO vs. OHM.

Badir 1:46 PM  

I have a partial solution for those complaining about the small area for the comments. I discovered a while ago that they behave better if you view each post from the archives, rather than from the home page. If you do that, then instead of opening the comments in a separate window, it puts them at the bottom of the post and makes them as wide as the post (which is the window width minus the sidebar). Also, if you click on a link, you have a real browser window, with navigation buttons. When you go to post yourself, though, it still opens up a narrow little window you have to use.

Yay, musicals! My wife and I just watched the pilot of _Smash_ last night!

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

Could not agree more on low quality of fill lately. C'mon folks, clean it up!

Bird 2:24 PM  

A vast improvement over this week’s entries, but still enough to pick on. I liked the theme, but as @Rex said the fill was less than stellar. Ick. And I DNF because my mind would not accept some of the fill.

That whole SW corner was a mess. MASADA crossing DABOMB and CATSPAJAMAS. DABOMB? Really? Why not The Bomb? Where or what is MASADA? It shouldn’t cross something like DABOMB. Never heard of CATSPAJAMAS. It makes sense from the clue, but I never heard of it (turns out it is a phrase from the 1920’s). Had EVA for 52D so that and MASADA killed me at 54A. I know who she is and lover her work, but could only think of the other actress with the squinty eyes. Of course having pommel instead of TROJAN didn’t help either.

SEePY? I did not know ILe de France.

On the plus side I got TITUS off the U in ALEUT and the rest of the north central fell in place. I like TRICKKNEES, but getting TVs was difficult from the clue – that is OLD stuff.

The Comments section should, by default, open in a new window with the text form sitting off to one side while you scroll down through the comments themselves. That would allow you to type and read at the same time. This is an easy fix and one that I’m sure others would appreciate.

Happy Bonus Day everyone.

BTW: captchas are whougme and riatelc ? ? ? ? ? ? ! ! ! !

Marvin the Paranoid Android 2:56 PM  

@Bird - great idea for comments page. It should even have a refresh button. Better yet, auto updates whenever someone posts. Like the ESPN(?) sites for keeping track of scores.

I wonder who considers this year's Leap Day to be a Sh*tty day because it falls during the week and we now have an extra day for work. Hurumph.

Lewis 3:07 PM  

@loren -- sorry I missed your question yesterday about "another issue altogether". Nope, wasn't avoiding the alternative, but I like the way you spelled it.

I liked the theme answers, they didn't seem forced (not like yesterday's "every SINGLE word". Never heard of MHO, but liked learning that it's the reciprocal of an ohm and thus spelled backward.

Woke up this morning thinking about yesterday's puzzle. We gave such negative feedback, and what I was thinking about this morning was that it was probably pretty darn hard to come up with clues that made sense and were 13 letters for an entire puzzle. He should get some credit for that. And we don't know that he was doing it to show off, as some implied. He may just have wanted to entertain, or pull off a nifty trick (even if he failed).

Lewis 3:08 PM  

oops -- "every SINGLE clue"

Bird 3:21 PM  

@Marvin - Great name (I love the books, but not so much the movies). Thanks for the response. I have the ESPN Scorecenter app and the live scoring is a great feature. CBS Sportsline is another one that does not require the user to refresh the screen.

Like @Tita I leave the comments window open and hit refresh once in a while. Scrolling is kind of a drag though.

Re: captchas - I wonder if we should raise a complaint that these new "words" discriminate against the hard-of-seeing.

jae 3:40 PM  

Easy cute Wed.  Not DABOMB but an OK mid week effort.  I liked it.  I suspect ANCIEN and some of it's crosses are what made this a Wed. instead of a Tues.

@Pete - me too for BLUES.

And, speaking of Mandy Patinkin, Inigo Montoya is another one of his roles that shows up every now and then.

andrea carla masada 3:41 PM  

Damn, just lost a half hour of writinga comment...
Long story short
LOVED theme!!!
Loved TWINCITIES shout out.
MASADA is a pays-to-be-Jewish answer and not so obscure, but tough cross with MTOSSA.
Fill fine considering's super hard to get much smoother than this given the theme which was fabulous.

And the CHE clue was a perfect extra bonus. Bravo!

Since @Rex now constructs his criticism is legit in a putting-money-where -his-mouth is sort of way, but to the other complainers today, i defy you to take even one corner and make it smoother.
Eg for someone To write something like "DABOMB should have been THEBOMB" shows a total lack of understanding how puzzles are constructed!

I thought this puzzle was the CATSPAJAMAS!

sanfranman59 3:48 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 12:05, 11:50, 1.02, 60%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:19, 5:52, 1.08, 75%, Medium-Challenging

Anonymous 4:13 PM  

This puzzle was painful. WAY too many classics references. Nice theme, but the fill destroyed it for me. Didn't even care to finish.

Bird 4:16 PM  

@ACME - Please let clarify. Calling out DABOMB was not in reference to constuction. I just don't like the spelling. If DABOMB is legit, then so be it. I don't use the phrase or know anyone who uses it. I know and use THEBOMB.

I have all the respect for constructors, especially those that get their works published in the NYT. I've tried to build one (that complies with NYT and some of our bloggers' rules), but have not yet finished.


retired_chemist 5:07 PM  

Finished with an error: RHEA/Emperor RITUS [sic]. Oh well...

But a much nicer puzzle than yesterday. Fun theme, I liked the fill better than Rex did. Which isn't saying a lot....

DA BOMB means nothing to this geezer but the crosses were definitive. And, I now see, Urban Dictionary knows it, which makes it AOK I guess.

APU for MOE @ 62A - Simpsons fans may now snicker at my ignorance.

MILLAN for PAVLOV - was Pavlov a handler? Not in my book - he was a scientist who studied the gastric function of dogs. But I use "handler" in a professional sense.

Thanks,Mr. Choset.

long suffering mets fan 5:21 PM  

RIP Davy Jones

Another one gone way too early

Their TV show was horrible, but they had alot of catchy tunes -- tell me that running "Daydream Believer" through your head doesn't put a smile on your face

EVERYBODY -- "Cheer up sleepy Jean, oh what can it be -- a daydream believer or a homecoming quee e e eeeen !

Oh yeah, puzzle was eh with some very ugly fill thats already been hashed

Ulrich 5:24 PM  

@acme: I lost to the whims of Blogger many convincingly argued, totally original, and beautifully written, but longish comments that I could never reconstruct, given my painfully slow way of typing, not to speak of advanced memory loss. So, nowadays, if I feel the urge to compose another one of these epic masterpieces (which I actually haven't lately, but may gain), I draft them in TextEdit or other convenient app, then copy-and-paste them into the Blogger field, and if it swallows it, I can thumb my nose at it and shove it down its throat again.

Loren Muse Smith 5:36 PM  

@Lewis - I have an observation and story along those lines. If you're interested, you can email me.

dk 6:05 PM  

@Ulrich you old poop I do the same. Dag nab it.

Having a bit of fun with the little pictures, makes me feel so.... technical.

Mighty Nisden 6:57 PM  

Not much trouble with this one. At a conference today so could only glance at a few comments...
Like TRICKKNEES espectially when I kept trying to put in trickynets which didn't really make too much sense.

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

@ACME - I'll pick up the gauntlet.
North East Corner. Simply clue RAE as ___ Dawn Chong rather than Charlotte ___. How does this make the puzzle better? It leaves me with a mental image of RAE Dawn Chong rather than Charlotte RAE. Big Difference.

Z 7:55 PM  

@Badir and email comment lovers - Reading comments in the Archive (on the right side of the main page) also allows you to subscribe to an RSS feed. Since my email program is my RSS reader comments appear in my mail program. The problem is that each day apparently creates a separate feed so I will have to delete the feeds at some point. This is way more complicated than the old method.

Tita 8:05 PM  

TV cluing old?? As I contyemplated that answer, I realized that Youtube has ensured that "tube" meaning "TV" will live on forever.
It may elicit a "wow" 10 years from now, just as the term "Hang up the phone" does for us when we find out that it comes from early phone days when the separate mouthpiece "hung" from the on/off switch.

@Bird again...I worked in the Bronx during college days...the company had a warehouse in Chesire, Connecticut. Shipments sent from there to us were marked "DABRONX". I wondered about the significance, until I answered my own question...
Silly Westchesterite that I was - I had always called it "The Bronx". My Connecticut neighbors knew the regional dialect...

Susan 9:35 PM  

For Rex,

Masada is a pretty amazing place in Israel in the middle of the desert. Worth going if you have even a minor archeological bent. It was a siege on top of a mountain and as I recall they were surrounded by the roman army at the base. You can either walk all the way up or take a form of conveyance.

sanfranman59 10:10 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:32, 6:49, 0.96, 32%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:00, 8:51, 0.90, 23%, Easy-Medium
Wed 12:11, 11:50, 1.03, 61%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:30, 3:40, 0.96, 31%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:01, 4:35, 0.88, 11%, Easy
Wed 6:12, 5:52, 1.06, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Anonymous 10:37 PM  

No need to find the archive, you can just click on the title of the entry. It's...right at the top. Today, that's Mother of Helios / WED 2-29-12 / Siege site of AD 72 / Subj of space-to-earth experiment on Apollo 14 / Sesame Street supporter in brief / Tony-winning role for Mandy Patinkin / regime pre-1789 French government / Greek peak SE of Olympus / Walt Disney had 26 of them.

Blogger is aware of the issues...

orangeblossomspecial 8:44 AM  

@ksquare That explains it. I studied physics before Tom Edison! Thanks for the detail.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Testing, Testing, Testing.

Solving in Seattle 1:40 PM  

A little spooky that the first commenter 5 weeks ago, @Glimmerglass, asked where everyone was, tornado alley? This after yesterdays amazing tornadoes in Dallas. Cue the Twilight Zone music.

Thought the puzzle easy - fun theme.

DMGrandma 2:34 PM  

Got thrown a few times by this one. Unlike @Ulrich, I did go to school in the US, but in the long ago days before SATs existed, so didn't know either of the tests. Ended up putting in "P " because I've seen it used in puzzles, where I've also learned LSAT for law. Are there others?
Thinking Mandy was a girl's name made me pause when Che was the obvious answer. As for weird seepy, it sounds like one of my non-robot words: vicus.

Anonymous 3:42 PM  

Naticks to the left of me, Naticks to the right! What -PTEST; what -AHS? I guessed A. Right! Next one: what -HEA? What -ITUS? Well, I've heard of RHEA, so I put that in. Wrong! Next: -ASAD-, -NCIE-, ISB-. Guessed A @67, right! Guessed R in the corner, wrong!. 2 for 4, .500. Wish I was a baseballer!

So in short, too much obscurity. I liked the basic idea, a decent theme--but oh that fill! Maybe, as @ACME says, it's undoable any other way, but too many tough nooks and crannies to suit me. I await Thursday.

Dirigonzo 5:14 PM  

DABOMB is awesome in a good way; "The Bomb" is awesome in a horrific way. No way they can be used interchangeably.

I remember Walt Disney's TV show from the late '50s - early '60s (I think) so at first I thought he had 26 Emmies which made the NW corner difficult.

@SiS - I've noticed before how comments sometimes predict or coincide with the events of 5 weeks later. I think I once labelled the phenomenom "Syndication Synchronicity". Spooky, indeed.

E-mail Follow-ups are back! At least the box is there to check - let's see if it works.

Ginger 5:48 PM  

Been lurking for some time out here in syndi-land, and gonna take the first time plunge. Did not know ANCIEN, but guessed the N, so I got lucky and finished without help.

DMGrandma - Mandy Patinkin is worth watching for. He was notably in the classic 'Princess Bride'. He was also in an obscure film 'Impromptu', a hilarious account of the romance between George Sand (Judy Davis) and Chopin (Hugh Grant), where he played an ex-lover of Sand.

Lurking, Just Behind You 7:26 PM  

Welcome Ginger-
I, too, lurk from Syndi-land....Just wanted to say hello to let you know that there are some of us out here that welcome you.

Dirigonzo 7:37 PM  

@Ginger and @Lurking - Now that email updates seem to be back, some uf us who posted earlier will read your comments, too. So yes, welcome - the more, the merrier!

Red Valerian 8:43 PM  

Oh my god, it DOES look as though they are back! Yippee!!! (I'm slightly worried at how happy this makes me.)

Nothing much to add--really just checking the email feature. (Okay, I did have CHICAGOBullS for a while...)

Welcome @Ginger. Oh, and @Dirigonzo: I believe you are responsible for both syndi-synchronicity and the TWIlight zone (Time-Warped insights)

Hmmm--just tried preview, and the message looks weird, with text running outside the box. Ah, well, I will try anyhow.

Dirigonzo 8:59 PM  

@RedV - You are right about the preview screen - apparently blogger hasn't eliminated all of its glitches; and yes, the elation created by the return of email updates is a little troubling. Still, I am sure our friend @Gil I.P. will be as happy as we are (5 weeks from now). I had high hopes that "TWIlight Zone" would catch on as an alternative to syndi-land, but nothing came of it - but thanks for remembering, anyway.

Lola505 9:16 PM  

I don't usually bother with Wednesday puzzles, but solved this one out of boredom. Did enjoy the Broadway theme in an otherwise easy, unremarkable puzzle.
Makes one wonder why I bothered to post at all.

Sharon AK 2:38 AM  

"seepy" weird, well sort of but in a fun way. I got a big smile out of when I finally caught on. Had been trying to fitt two "ee" and "y" into a word for slwo running by an animal (human or otherwise).
Enjoyed this puzzle and Acme's praise of it.

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