The One in the Matrix / THU 2-23-12 / Meany of story / Famous cloth locale / Magazine once published by Playboy / Ancient Mexican / Big name in vacuums

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Constructor: Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: AROUND (46A: Word needed to be added to 12 appropriately placed answers in this puzzle for their clues to make sense) — answers AROUND the edge of the grid need to be followed by AROUND to make sense

Word of the Day: MEGABIT (40A: Storage unit) —
The megabit is a multiple of the unit bit for digital information or computer storage. The prefix mega (symbol M) is defined in the International System of Units (SI) as a multiplier of 106 (1 million),[1] and therefore
1 megabit = 106bits = 1000000bits = 1000 kilobits.
The megabit has the unit symbol Mbit or Mb.
Using the common byte size of 8 bits, 1 Mbit is roughly equal to 125 kilobytes (kB) or approximately 122 kibibytes (KiB). (wikipedia) [please don't ask me to explain the relationship of MEGABIT to "megabyte," because it's too late and I barely understand myself]
• • •

Just getting over a cold and I have to teach early, so this will be super-short.

I liked it fine. I can't decide if this benefits from or suffers because of the recent MARGIN FOR ERROR puzzle. This puzzle is certainly superior, but having just seen a "answers on the edges have x in common" puzzle, the revelation of this puzzle's gimmick did nothing for me. Shrug. I like all the Ks, and for a grid with a preponderance of short fill, it's pretty lively and interesting. Lots of Ks, which is rarely bad. The random placement of AROUND is a bit of a distraction (this gives the puzzle something in common with the MARGIN FOR ERROR, though the revealer placement there was more "train wreck" than oddity). I probably took longest to get the MEGABIT portion of the grid. Did not know that was a word. Or, I did, but then "megabyte" ate it alive and so I forgot it. That [Meany of story] clue should get a prize. Don't know if it's original, but it's good. Like a good chunk of America, I instinctively dropped in OGRE (it's OWEN). 

Theme answers:
  • ROOT
  • JERK
  • FOOL (I wrote FART at first; not kidding) 
  • POKE
  • MESS
  • KICK
  • COME 
  • SHOP

  • 17A: Many a nude beach visitor (OGLER) — this seems an unfair assumption. Why not just write [Many a beach visitor]? Seems at least as likely to be true.
  • 34A: The One, in "The Matrix" (NEO) — recently had a class discussion about NEO. Students made lots of great comparisons between him and Aeneas.  
  • 5D: Famous cloth locale (TURIN) — frowny face. Is this about the Shroud? Or do they really make cloth in TURIN?
  • 29D: Items sometimes tossed in strongman contests (KEGS) — really? Can't picture it. I think I'm thinking of the Highland Games, where guys throw logs or hammers or sheep or something.
  • 51D: Ancient Mexican (OLMEC) — the good thing about guessing AZTEC is you're 40% right.
  • 54D: Johnny Storm a k a the Human ___ (TORCH) — did I mention I also teach Comics? The Human TORCH is one of the "Fantastic Four."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:05 AM  

I caught on to this one very early so it was relatively easy.  Momentarily thought BY might be missing but 29d ruled it out.  Only erasure (I'm no longer using write over after yesterday's discussion) was, like Rex, ORGE for OWEN, who seems to show up frequently lately.  I liked it.  Clever theme with some zippy stuff...JERK, HIGH, KILO, FOOL, NOHOW, KINGPINS...

Is there a record for number of Ks in a puzzle?

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

I knew OWEN Meany immediately, how I knew that still befuddles me. I've never heard of the book, never read a word of John Irving, in fact, I believe I avoid the 'I' section of bookstores whenever I'm in one. Yet I knew Owen Meany.

I thought for a while that was Mr. Meany's name on I Love Lucy, then wondered what piece of literature I Love Lucy was based on.

Jeff Chen 12:15 AM  

Hi all!


Has a strong-man keg-tosser ever been hit with his own keg? Man, I love strongman contests. I wish I had a job coming up with new tests. I'd totally make them hit giant nerf baseballs with a telephone pole.

If you're going to be at the ACPT, please say hi! I'll be volunteering for Will.

jeffchen1972 at gmail dot com

Tobias Duncan 12:24 AM  

Man I have been sucking lately so it was nice to really crush this one. One of my best Thursday times ever.
I am sure Sanfranman will come along and set us straight on the difficultly.
Popped OWEN(never read it) right in as well as lots of other stuff.Cluing just made perfect sense to me today.
Perhaps my slump is over!

OUI was the first dirty magazine I ever saw.

Anonymous 12:45 AM  

Thought this was easy and the trick was revealed very early, which aided in it easiness. But I liked it. Some of the clues were very clever. It was a certain Patrick Berry quality to it....


Anonymous 12:51 AM  

It HAS a certain Patrick Berry quality to it....


pk 12:52 AM  

I wrote "Bah" next to clue for 1A, but then had to take it back after I got the "xxxing around" business.

Loved 21D - I'm as corny as Kansas in August. High as the flag on the 4th of July.

And Finally, Finally, I have mastered both the first AND last names of the ubiquitous golfer Isao Aoki (or is it Aoki Isao - no, I don't think it is. Hmmm. Not sure.)

Around Coke-la Megabits 1:08 AM  

I so don't read comics i thought Johnny Storm might be the Human TORaH!!!!
I kid you not, but thought Storm didn't sound Jewish.
Luckily C is at the beginning of the alphabet too!

Yes, not only tons of Ks which seem to go nicely with the word AROUND...

Plus ANGELIC and PHYSICS sound K-ish.

Thought this fantstic but yes, should have had more time between this one and the ERROR one...and I was distracted that the AROUND didn't go with the other word it appeared to share: PLANK AROUND? AROUND TURIN? ORECK AROUND?

And Playboy used to publish GAMES,( I have the checks signed by Hef's daughter to prove it!) so it took me forever to get OUI.
I had OU? And guessed OUt, which sort of seemed unlikely, given how uber virile Playboy tries to be!

Acme 1:11 AM  

Ps I also guesed BLUE the Beatles too much!

Evan K. 1:14 AM  

This was one of my most successful Thursdays, aided by the fact that I too caught on pretty early. Fun and different!

retired_chemist 1:44 AM  

Slow going here.

Megabyte to MEGABIT is easy - 1 megabyte = 8 MEGABITS.

They toss cabers at Highland Games.

My meany was an OGRE for a long time.

Liked the fill, mostly. Other than the stale NEO, little or nothing to complain about. Thanks, Mr. Chen.

Neo Pero Retro 2:28 AM  

Are there an unusual number of "O's" (OWES) hanging aROUND this puzzle? 10 "O's" on the right, 10 "O's" on the left, and 5 in the center column.

chefwen 2:48 AM  

I too had ogre before OWEN in the bad guy category as did retired-chemist. Cider House Rules and The Life Of Owen Meany are two of my favorite John Irving books.

The reveal helped with the solve, but it seemed to be a little more difficult for me. 57A braces, I couldn't get teeth out of my brain. 61D I had look AROUND before POKE.

Have a dear friend in Florida Named RANI so that is always a gimme to me.

Favorite answer is something I am not 22A.

Anonymous 3:30 AM  

Fun Thursday puzzle
With answers like COKE, REHABS, KILO I originally thought the theme was going to be about drugs.

Loren Muse Smith 7:18 AM  

Great theme! I made a good run of this once I erased (@jae ;-)) OWEN, AZTEC, and COAL. (Hang that last one on the whole hillbilly thing.) Had to slap my head when I saw ESAU. Loved the clues for COME, RETRO and KEEPS TO.
I can never bring myself to use the word DIE; can’t stand it. When it’s my turn and I can’t reach the other one, if I ask for the DIE, I feel like some Creepy Board Game Purist Pedant Snob (sniff sniff). Pass me the dice. I didn’t know about the Senators in Canada. My grandfather played (briefly) for the Senators and Orioles and played against Babe Ruth – not a pal by any means, but he did know him. I’m not up on quality movies or much broadway, so IRMA COEN made me feel like a bit of a goof.
After my final push to get SLOPS and OLMEC (huh??), I tossed my Bic #2 0.7 on the table and called it a wrap.

Now it’s off to my bi-weekly come-uppance courtesy of BEQ.

dk 7:37 AM  

Way to go Jeff. Get here early and makes us like you.

Loved the drug theme with COKE, CRANK (speed or meth), HORSE (heroin), SHOOT (see HORSE), KILO, KICK (as in habit) and REHABS. I only wish we had something to pass AROUND. I also found OWES (debt to dealer), TELLSON and KEEPSTO (as in bogart) to be interesting drug theme outliers. Late addition to the theme -- DIE.

I just got an ORECK device that shaves the pills off sweaters. Epitome of dork but... neatness counts.

Andrea! FOOL AROUND! (chortle). Please note I have been given permission to chortle away by both Acme and our dear leader. What a RELIEF.

**** (4 Stars) One fun puzzle with a cute trick. Jeff you are fun to have AROUND.

d(back in the chortle saddle)k

Full disclosure: I have been a nude beach OGLER.

Rookie 7:40 AM  

The movie SIMON BIRCH was based on OWEN MEANY. great film and great movie. Consider watching/reading if you are unfamiliar with them.

Z 8:18 AM  

Happy to see the med-chal rating. ScOOT and PaYload slowed me down in the NW as did COal/Ogre in the west. I also had NOway/aHa instead of NOHOW/OHO. Off to a slow start, I then second guessed too many obvious answers in the east making it more challenging than it need to be.

Growing up near the shores of Lake Michigan I knew all the secluded beaches with 15 miles of Holland. One sunny midweek day I show off my knowledge to my girlfriend so we can do some no-tan-lines sun bathing. Some OGLER in a Cessna starts circling overhead. No way, NO HOW was my girlfriend going to STICK around while some JERK got his KICKs HIGH in the sky. For all we knew, our picture was going to show up in OUI.

joho 8:22 AM  

With JERK and KNOCK in place and the R in CORNIER, I got AROUND very quickly and was on to the theme ... which I loved!

My only trouble spot was the same as @Rex' where I had Ogre and loGS for a bit.

Thank so stopping by Jeff, and congratulations on this stellar puzzle!

joho 8:23 AM  

That's "Thanks for stopping..."

John V 8:28 AM  

Yep, thanks, Jeff for a fun Thursday. The revealer clue saying, "12 appropriately placed answers", sent me straight off to count the edge answers, so saw the theme first pass through.

Had SCOOT @1A initially, but my Pilot FriXion erasable gel pen, "Precious", with all her lovely tats, saved the day.

Agree that the fill was short but pleasantly crunchy. Liked KINGPINS, not so much liking OLEMEC. Does and OLEMEC clean up with an ORECK? Liked 20A clue, "Subject with force"; I was intially reading SUBJECT as a verb, so good indirection on that one.

Really foggy and rainy in Charlotte this morning. Hope the planes are happy tomorrow afternoon. Off to do battle with capcha.

SethG 8:31 AM  

I guessed OWEN. I wish I'd guessed BUGS. And Kim Deal is a BREEDER.

Off to Jump Around!

jberg 8:31 AM  

Lots of writeovers - not only ogre an dcoke, but nohow for NEVER, num for NOS - and I thought "vacuums in 5 letters; hmm Hoover? nope. Electrolux? nope. Ah, MIELE!" That one really held me up, as it blocked JOKER. Only after I got the theme, and thus JERK around, did I change it.

Oh yeah, raja for RANI too. You'd think I'd learn, that's an old trick.

Lots of fun, though!

@pk - The great thing about Japanese names is you can say them either way, surname last in English, first in Japanese.

Would it have been better if REHABS, the symmetrical entry to the revealer, was clued as "Turns around, in a way"?

jackj 8:41 AM  

This was a very clever theme from Jeff Chen but the gimmick of adding AROUND to all the answers circling the grid was implicit from the outset and when it appeared at 46 Across, it simply confirmed what my subliminal mind had already been using to solve the puzzle.

As an example of what I mean, take the early answer for 6 Across, which was fairly easy to divine as ROOT and then, to ENSURE that it fit the clue of ‘Rummage”, a quick review of the thought process went, “Root? Yeah, search, rummage, root around, it works.” And AROUND was in play without the reveal and a host of other answers were unknowingly confirmed through the same process.

The upshot of having a built-in secret pal whisper confirmation of some of the answers, combined with a host of shorter answers in order to make the puzzle work and Jeff’s obvious desire to avoid arcane entries, made for a tension free solve.

Jeff continues to dazzle with his creativity and even though this one was on the easy side, it was deucedly clever, as the nobs like to say.

David 8:47 AM  

Also glad to see the Medium-Challenging rating - I really enjoyed this one too, but got off to a horrific start with OILER for OGLER and SCOOT for SHOOT. The resulting CIIH for 2D (Drugged out) had me thinking of some bizarre letter substitution/rebus theme. Fortunately, seconds later the theme became clear in the South with KICK around and MESS around, and I quickly fixed my errors.

More issues in the West - never heard of OWEN Meany (fabulous clue!!), but didn't wrote in OGRE since 33A OWES just had to be right. Needed the solid Down answers RAP SHEET and CORNIER to get MEGABIT, which gave me the crosses for OWEN.

@dk, good call on the drug theme, I'm having a few chuckles as I go back through the grid.....

orangeblossomspecial 8:58 AM  

Love the choreography on the Miracles video. Boy/girl groups had to be pretty imaginative so they didn't just stand next to the soloist. The shame is that on this song, most of the backup vocal was by women. The Miracles were largely useless.

Jeff Chen 9:06 AM  

@ACM: Hilarious - I wish there were a comic book character called The Human Torah. I imagine Rex would teach classes about him. Any comic book writers in the audience?

Ulrich 9:10 AM  

@jeffchen: Do you know this means "little Jeff" in German?

@dk: I'm rushing out to get one of these gizmos for my sweaters--didn't know they existed--and didn't know the things we both hate are called "pills"--another drug hint BTW (we're going through the seasons of Nurse Jackie right now)

CFXK 9:13 AM  

I think "cloth" is fine for 5D. To identify it as a shroud is to make an assertion about its origin that many in good faith hold but that has been largely disproved by science.

Sometimes a cloth is just a cloth.

archaeoprof 9:38 AM  

I was slowed down by an Aztec in the SW.

FYI: the shroud of TURIN is not the burial cloth of Jesus. It's a herringbone weave, which was not invented until centuries later. If that's the burial cloth, then maybe Jesus had an iPod too.

chefbea 9:39 AM  

Got the theme right away but still found the puzzle very challenging. Hand up for ogre.

@JohnV come on over to Wilmington. Was 60 when I woke up and will be in the 70's this afternoon. Beautiful sunny day.

John V 9:44 AM  

@chefbea: Would that I could. The day is 1) Eat, 2) Solve, 3)Work 4) Sleep 5) Repeat.

orangeblossomspecial 9:58 AM  

One other interesting reference to AROUND: In Cab Calloway's 'Minnie the Moocher',

She messed around with a cat named Smokey
She loved him though he was cokey
He took her down to Chinatown
And showed her how to KICK the gong AROUND

A reference to opium dens.

dk 10:35 AM  

@Ulrich, The device is known commercially as a Fabric Shaver. Myself I prefer Depiller.

@archaeoprof, WWJLT (what would jesus listen to). I say the Holmes Brothers.

50-50 on the robot test

Wood 10:37 AM  

Fun puzzle. Would have rated easy Thursday if I hadn't gotten seriously stuck in the SE. Had lOok and friSk for the two 'about' answers, both of which were wrong, and didn't know Spanish for 'but' which would have helped. Wasted a lot of time working all that out.

OUI was also the first dirty magazine I ever saw, in a classic 6th-grade summer camp scenario. The twist: I couldn't figure out why all the other boys were so enraptured. Took a number of years for me to sort that out. If only it had been Blueboy or Mandate...

Two Ponies 10:39 AM  

With all those clever clues it seemed to take forever to get started. Got the revealer soon after that and was off to the races. I guess the timing could have been better but the "margin" puzzle was already forgotten by me so good one Jeff.
@ archaeoprof, Jesus with an iPod!
Agree with @dk about the hidden theme. Lots of fun, pass that doobie around.

boteagan 10:58 AM  

@Ulrich - "gizmo". . .Isn't that Dingsbums in German? Now there's a word for you! Maybe a MIDASS touch dings some bums?

Liked the puzzle. I, too fell into the "ogre" trap, but I feel like I'm in excellent company.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:12 AM  

Always a pleasure, of an odd sort, to be able to report that I finished with a mistake (pen on paper - my puzzle, no one else ever sees it) that no one else has cited:

For 9 D, Comparison connector, TOAN ("Compare an apple TO AN orange"?); crossing 15 A, Title accompanier: Abbr., AUTO (to own an AUTO, you usually hold the title!) Both a bit far-fetched in retrospect, but when they both look OK, I move on.

Shelley 11:31 AM  

So there are puzzles just based on novels?

GILL I. 11:47 AM  

I too hadn't really thought of the "Margin of Errors" puzzle when penning in my answers. Many puzzles have similar themes so I really just look for the fun factor on a Thursday. This was fun ROOTing and JERKing around to find the answers.
OLMEC means rubber people. They were the first Mesoamerican civilization (1200 to 300 BC) Although not as large as the Mayan or Aztec civilization they can be credited with, among other things, kick ball, the invention of zero and probably the best discovery of all - our modern day chocolate.
It is believed that they were the first to figure out how to use the beans of the cacao plant by roasting them to form a pungent and flavorful drink. It is said that they emulated monkeys who would eat the fruit of the cacao and then spit out the acrid bean. Along those lines, the seed may have been tossed into a fire pit and the ensuing odor of the roasted bean was so gratifying that they called Hershey and made a deal. The Spaniards knew a good deal when they saw one so they took the jade the Olmec loved to carve and the beans back to the Queen.
Thank you Jeff Chen for a fine puzzle.

Tita 12:02 PM  

Happy to see the med-chall rating, as this was a near DNF, though I did finally prevail w/o google.
NOway was the culprit, keeping the are north of that a mystery for too long.

Really liked chasing clues AROUND the grid - thanks Little Jeff!

Last night, played a vintage Italian Monópoli that my French/American/Italian friend brought over.
I had a blast pronouncing the commands on the Chance is so similar to Portuguese and French that it was easy.
Also, I feel that since it is the Italian version, it's not all that important to really pay ones taxes... ;)

Ulrich 12:02 PM  


Actually, a Dingsbums can be anything, including a person, whose name you don't know/can't remember. Not to be confused with Kant's "Ding an sich", a thing nobody understands...

Tita 12:19 PM  

@Gill - love your Mesoamerican history lesson. Now, chocolalte is undisputed - but - who got to zero first, the Olmecs or the Arabs?

Here is a visual that reminds me why I don't solve in pen...
LOTS of writeovers (blue bars), in spite of not alot of obscure, sports, or pop. It was those pesky incomplete answers...
Writeover Infograph

Look-up Lady 12:32 PM  

Zero was invented/discovered independently three times.
Babylonians 3rd cent. BC
Mayans 4th cent.CE
Indians 5th cent. CE

Cheerio 12:49 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, I also had "To an." When I saw that AUTH. was correct, I couldn't figure out what it had to do with TITLE, because I figured it stood for "Authority" or "Authorization."

JenCT 1:04 PM  

@dk: LOL on the drug theme.

Guessed BRANDER before BREEDER, PRESS ON before PHYSICS (read clue as subJECT, as a verb); also had AXES before KEGS.

Loved RETRO for Back in (originally read that clue as a verb also.)

Almost a DNF.

Acme 1:13 PM  

Wow! You solved a whole 'nother puzzle it!

And as I read @archaeoprof dismissal of the shroud, those were my thoughts exactly, WWJLT? Would be a great game, tho I'll bet someone will get offended within 13 seconds!
My pick...Karen Carpenter?

This is the exact kind of thing I hope to learn from this blog!!!
I think there is some Big paintingnof the OLMEC at the deYoung where they are playing soccer with the losers head. Rubber balls didn't come soon enough for that guy!

@little Jeffchen
Great great puzzle, good to see you get on that comic book idea! Someone has to solve these talmudic disputes!

ArtO 1:39 PM  

A slow start but once onto the theme it moved pretty well. Agree with Medium-Challenging rating.

Happy to see a reference to Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher" from Orangeblossomspecial.

Nice to see a few more old timers in here.

JHC 1:39 PM  

Does this date me? On "Meany of story," I went straight to Bugs.

mac 1:40 PM  

Nice puzzle! Around showed up fairly easily and it made a lot of the answers on the edges clearer.
The coke-owen-ensure area was the last for me, but I made exactly the same mistake @Bob Kerfuffle made!

Good Thursday.

miriam b 1:52 PM  

@Ulrich: I have had a small cheap battery-driven lint shaver and also a so-called Sweater Stone to deal with those verdammten Flocken on sweaters. The latter works best but leaves a sulfuric stench behind which eventually dissipates.

@dk: What does the fancy-schmancy Oreck device cost?

Which reminds me: I've seen an infomercial for some sort of vacuum cleaner called the Shark (I think). It's demonstrated by a typically enthusiastic young woman and a gentleman of a certain age who is the IMAGE of David Oreck. There oughta be a law.

boteagan 1:55 PM  

@Ulrich – I (very briefly) managed to wrap my mind around St. Anselm’s Ontological Argument, totally got Feuerbach, got Occam’s Razor (and wish my mother- in -law would subscribe to this when giving driving directions), understood argumentum ad verecundiam, appreciated Bentham and Mills, and threw my philosophy text book across my dorm room when faced with Kant’s mysterious, inaccessible, baffling noumenon and phenomenon. Broke the book’s spine.

Bird 2:03 PM  

Nice puzzle Jeff. It was a pleasure to solve. My only pause was in the SW when I plunked in HOVER for 49D. I figured 66A was COEN, but could not let go of HOVER until 69A finally KICKed me in the head. The rest fell easy.

I did not have OGRE as all the acrosses were done first, giving me OWEN.

After all the drug references, I am off to REHAB.

GILL I. 2:21 PM  

@Look-up-Lady: You'll probably find as many people saying the French invented the zero.
The OLMEC are presumably the inventors. Possibly because the first time the zero was ever used was on an ancient OLMEC long-count time line.
@ACME: Yes, the de Young has had some wonderful OLMEC displays. The best are the colossal head monuments clad in so-called "ball player helmets." Gives a new meaning to "follow the bouncing ball."

archaeoprof 2:26 PM  

WWJLT? Country music, of course!

Lewis 2:43 PM  

Loved the clever cluing, and it was not an easy solve for me. Spent a long time trying to figure out "back in". Seems like it's been a while since we've had a Thursday rebus.

ranman 2:56 PM  

@dk--would RAPSHEET also qualify for your list?

Loren Muse Smith 3:04 PM  

@Boteagen (and Ulrich) - I laughed about your book throwing. I wanted to throw my philosophy book, too, when presented with Kant, but refrained. I did, though, hurl Nathalie Sarraute's Le Planétarium clear across MY dorm room. No characters, no plot, no sentences - The literary equivalent of a John Cage concert. I know there are fans of both lurking out there, but Jeez Louise, I briefly wondered if I was on Candid Camera the time I went to a Cage concert.

Ulrich 3:04 PM  

@dk and miriam: Thx!

@archaeoprof: What you seem to forget is that Jesus could have himself buried in whatever he wanted--I mean if you can turn water into wine, turning any old piece of cloth into herringbone should be no problem whatsoever.

Larry I in L.A. 3:16 PM  

Weird Natick/DNF today...

(It was ToAN/AUTo--Just erased the description of my thought process because @Bob Kerfuffle, @Cheerio and @Mac beat me to it.)

Otherwise, fun puzzle...

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

In spite of the Wiki definition, no one talks about MEGABITS of storage. Megabits are a measurement of data throughput, also referred to as bandwidth.

We use MEGABYTES to measure storage capacity, but not so often anymore, as the technology has for the most part moved on to GIGABYTES for nearly all storage systems.


sanfranman59 3:58 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)

Thu 18:59, 18:59, 1.00, 54%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:15, 9:17, 1.00, 56%, Medium

travis 4:12 PM  

Hold the line. A Megabit is 2^20 bits. Just because they go and invent a nonsense word Mibibit so they can redefine a word that had been in use for decades doesn't mean you have to go along.

Tobias Duncan 4:14 PM  

Arrgg just read the days comments and I have to take back all my bragging.
Stupid ToAN

Z 4:27 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 4:31 PM  

@Tobias - I feel your pain. Ignorance was bliss and then Kerfuffle had to go and point out my error.

WWJLT - Iron and Wine

Karen Coyle 4:57 PM  

Turin is known for a few things: chocolates (yum!), vermouth (yum! yum!), ancient Egyptian artifacts (stolen), movies prior to 1940 ("Macista" anyone?), and automobiles (FIAT, duh). But the only cloth worth mentioning is that d*mned shroud.

Meredith 5:21 PM  

I liked the placement of Eton just above mess. Eton mess is a popular dessert (or pudding, as we call it) in the UK. Wonder if that was intentional or just a happy coincidence?

Danger Will Robinson 5:33 PM  

Maybe the double-captcha was intended to cut down on all the nonsense posts.

Anyway . . .

Nice puzzle, but it took longer than it really should have because I just could not put in some answers without knowing the theme. 1A, 6A and 10A were all blank because I didn't know they were supposed to go with 46A. It wasn't until I got 46A that everything made sense.

And who uses the phrase SHOOT AROUND when passing a car? Bob & Weave - yes. Go Around - yes. Pass this guy already - yes. Shoot around - ??.

Anonymous 6:49 PM  

nope, here's another nonsense post

Masked and Anonymous 6:53 PM  

@Danger Will Robinson: First of all, awesome sign-in name! Kinda agree with you that, altho it was a great puz today, SHOOT AROUND does make the old engine light come on, just a tad.

Didn't they have a new-fangled camera invention, in some old flick, that could SHOOT pictures AROUND corners? Mighta been "International House". Not sure...

Anyway, see...? Double-captcha didn't stop this nonsense post; not one darn bit.

Rudy Shankar 8:47 PM  


House of Pain Jump Around

sanfranman59 10:05 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 7:34, 6:49, 1.11, 91%, Challenging
Tue 8:35, 8:52, 0.97, 46%, Medium
Wed 13:03, 11:50, 1.10, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 19:13, 18:59, 1.01, 55%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:05, 3:40, 1.12, 91%, Challenging
Tue 4:32, 4:35, 0.99, 52%, Medium
Wed 6:42, 5:52, 1.14, 88%, Challenging
Thu 8:45, 9:17, 0.94, 45%, Medium

kathy d. 11:06 PM  

Thanks so much for posting "Shop Around," by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. This brought me back to high school days, happily in my room listening to the radio.

Know this song like the back of my hand.

Big T 10:23 AM  

Did no one else put in COarsER for Cornier? That mistake caused me no end of pain.

Spacecraft 12:54 PM  

Wow! Medium-challenging, really? It took me a few minutes of thought to get started, but after that: breeze! I knew I had to concentrate on 46a; ignored gimmes like IRMA and HINDU for its sake. After a bit I noticed that 49a should probably end in -S, and that gave me BRASS. In similar fashion, 21d looked like a comparative ending, hence -ER, and I thought of AROUND. A quick rescan of the perimeter clues confirmed that, and it was off to the races.

I agree that an OGLER, in fact, would likely NOT "visit" a nude beach--except from a distance. They wouldn't tolerate such a JERK for two minutes. They'd tell him to GOSEE a porno film, or something.

I don't know how you other xword aficionados feel about this, but I'd like to present today's NE corner as a model wordbox for constructors. This, students, is how you build a good wordbox. Only one proper name--but a nice fresh one at least--and the rest all perfectly good actual English words. Remember words? OK, KILO is a short form of KILOgram, but it's in such wide use that it might as well be a real word. Not an acronym, Roman numeral, or partial in sight! GOSEE this corner, folks; look and learn.

Despite NOHOW, KEEPSTO and TELLSON, I liked this one a lot. A moment when I considered COal in place of COKE (but only a moment) was the closest I came to even a writeover. The fill was so good that late-week cluing couldn't muddy the waters. Great job, Jeff!

Red Valerian 1:18 PM  

Like @Spacecraft, I found this one on the easy side. I guess because I got the theme early on, with 1D. I was thinking "Wow, Rex isn't going to like that--it should be SHOP around. Oh, wait, it's Thursday..." Looked for the reveal and just plunked it in.

Had Never for 24A, but OTTAWA quickly took care of that problem (and helped me avoid NOway).

Briefly had, but didn't like since it required that the word for the second item begin with a vowel, asAN for 9D (comparison connector). I can see ToAN, if one is thinking comparing an apple TO AN orange, though I don't think I've ever heard that expression in the singular.

Never heard of ORECK, but got it from crosses.

Yes, thanks, Jeff!

@LMS: Whenever I see a post from you, I want to start scouring it for hidden messages, except that I don't have time. Can you give us a hint as to when to scour? (I suppose that would not be in the spirit.) Just so you know, no hidden messages here, at least none that I intended!

Solving in Seattle 3:25 PM  

I had a slow solve in Seattle today despite getting the theme (46A) quite early. Hung up on HINDi and couldn't reconcile with TURIN.

Also, didn't know OUI and guessed hef. Had to work that out.

@Spacecraft, agree with your comments about construction. Thought the SE was very clever, too.

Nice to see Jeff Chen show up with comments. Enjoyed your puzzle!

DMGrandma 4:03 PM  

Struggled here and there, but ended up feeling pretty good, then I came here and found I, too, had made to "to an" error. But I question if it's really an error as the resulting answers seem to satisfy the clues. If you work pen on paper, there is nothing to tell you that these "right" answers aren't the ones the writer had in mind.
@Dirigono. Do you use glue stick or Elmer's glue , or what when pasting in your letters-seems like there's a lot of room for preferences here!

Dirigonzo 4:32 PM  

Nice tip of the constructor's cap to Canadian solvers at 9d, which was also the answer that finally got me unstuck from Never and straightened out that whole section.

The theme answers in the SE corner combine to produce HORSEPOKE, a relatively little known western occupation involving the rounding up of wild horses while riding on a steer. Many modern-day rodeo events have their ROOTs in the HORSEPOKE tradition.

Portland is Maine's largest city, but I had no idea it was in NATO (45a).

@DMG - It hasn't mattered what I use since they took my model airplane glue away from me (they thought I was spending too much time sniffing it). But anybody who uses the kind of glue that lets you remove it later is a wuss - expert solvers like me use the permanent stuff!

I have to stop now - I'm late for my shock therapy session.

Solving in Seattle 5:02 PM  

@Dirigonzo, my old grandpappy was a HORSEPOKE. And was he ever a SHOPSHOOTer, too.

Good luck in therapy.

Dirigonzo 6:00 PM  

@SiS - I hope your comment wasn't a JERK-KNOCK, because Rex doesn't allow personal attacks in the comments. As to the therapy, they gave up on the usefulness of the treatment long ago - I just keep going because I like the way it feels (but don't tell my insurance company).

And while I'm here I'd like to thank @Gil I.P. for what I think is the best comment with regard to OLMEC: "It is believed that they were the first to figure out how to use the beans of the cacao plant by roasting them to form a pungent and flavorful drink. It is said that they emulated monkeys who would eat the fruit of the cacao and then spit out the acrid bean. Along those lines, the seed may have been tossed into a fire pit and the ensuing odor of the roasted bean was so gratifying that they called Hershey and made a deal." Loved it.

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