Three-masted sailing ship / TUE 2-7-12 / Funny Fields / Its Internet addresses end in .ee / Up on things in 40s / Hispaniola's western half

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Constructor: Mike Buckley

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: VANITY (50D: Unappealing personal trait ... or a word that can precede the start of 17-, 28-, 46- or 60-Across) — just what it says:

Theme answers:
  • MIRROR OF THE MIND (17A: Imagination, metaphorically)
  • CASE WORKER (28A: Investigator of family problems, say)
  • PLATE GLASS (46A: It's seen in shop windows)
  • FAIR-HAIRED CHILD (60A: One who's favorably looked upon)
Word of the Day: XEBEC (57A: Three-masted sailing ship) —
A xebec (play /ˈzbɛk/ or /zɨˈbɛk/), also spelled zebec, was a Mediterranean sailing ship that was used mostly for trading. It would have a long overhanging bowsprit and protruding mizzen mast. It also can refer to a small, fast vessel of the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, used almost exclusively in the Mediterranean Sea. (wikipedia)
• • •

Clearly misplaced, difficulty-wise, by a good day at least. I was somewhat over my average Wednesday time, and the times at the NYT site are much higher than average. For all that work, I was hoping for something more than a simple "words that can follow" puzzle, especially one where two of the expressions aren't well known to me (MIRROR OF THE MIND, FAIR-HAIRED CHILD), and one of the VANITY phrases is completely unknown to me (VANITY case? Never heard of it). Further, XEBEC? "Outlier" doesn't begin to capture that word (in this puzzle). NIM? TOTIE? (65A: Funny Fields) (words I know only from crosswords) -IAL? -ISH? Cheater squares? It's not terrible, by any means, but it hardly felt worth the (above normal) effort.
I get lots of hits when I google "MIRROR OF THE MIND," but in the first handful of results, I'm seeing that the face is the MIRROR OF THE MIND, or that language is the MIRROR OF THE MIND ... seems like it's just a phrase that sounds profound (perhaps through the force of alliteration) but doesn't mean much of anything at all. The Jackson 5 had a song called "Mirrors of My Mind," and of course Dusty Springfield had a hit with "Windmills of Your Mind," but I can't see using this phrase as a simple substitute for "imagination." I assume the FAIR-HAIRED CHILD thing is a metaphor (and should be clued as such), because a FAIR-HAIRED CHILD is just as likely to be demonic as not.

Difficulty all over—which spelling of AMON-RA today (the "O" one) (6D: King of gods, in Egyptian myth). ASIA, not URSA Minor, a Saturday clue for ESTONIA (19D: Its Internet addresses end in .ee), a tough/vague clue for REACH (18D: Be rude at the dinner table, in a way) ... uh ... XEBEC! And, ugh, ISLED. I've been asked before, if I could kill one bit of crosswordese, what would it be; now I think I know: anything that suggests ISLE is a verb (though IRED is another good candidate).

  • 16A: Indiana's smallest county or the river it touches (OHIO) — again, I'd suggest this is very much a late-week clue
  • 64A: Dullea of "2001: A Space Odyssey" (KEIR) — got destroyed by his name in a previous puzzle, and that helped me semi-recall it here. Really wish he did anything noteworthy besides this movie. Really hard to remember.
  • 5D: There has been one with every Pixar film since 1998 (SHORT) — interesting trivia. I did not know that.
  • 12D: High tone? (TING) — I don't get this. Is it high, like, on the scale? Higher than what? A gong? Yuck.  

  • 52D: City across the Delaware River from Philadelphia (CAMDEN) — no idea. I remember NJ being over there, but I didn't remember which part. I seem to remember Rutgers, or a Rutgers campus (?), being relatively close to Philadelphia (I'm right: there's a CAMDEN campus). It's been a while.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:07 AM  

A very tough Tues. for me too. I've done Thursdays faster than this one.  I mean odd geography...CAMDEN, OHIO, ESTONIA..., a Maleska era sailing ship, a SILENT letter, a couple of icky suffixes .... = not a Tues.  Plus, very low on the zippy scale (BUMRAP).    Well, they can't all be like yesterday's.

Oh, and URSA for ASIA and UAE for UAR didn't help.

And, if you weren't sure of HTTP PING or DING might have looked good for 12d if that what the clue actually refers to.

Kristin 12:14 AM  

Agree w/Rex, ISLED is just, ewwwwww.i had OSIRIS for awhile instead of AMONRA (getting the Egyptian pantheon mixed up.)

foodie 12:18 AM  

I'm with Rex...Interesting concept, the notion of different types of VANITY, but the theme answers did not turn out to be exciting. Liked the south over the north by a mile.

UAR (United Arab Republic) was a gimme-- I was a kid when the Syria- Egypt union took place, Nasser showed up in Damascus and people were incredibly excited. As usual in that part of the world, the joy fizzled fast. Poor Syria...

Had bElCH instead of REACH. That is clearly rude and at the table.

The FAIR HAIRED CHILD is an interesting counterpoint to the red headed stepchild. What's with emotions being attached to coloring? I have a colleague from India with beautiful green eyes and brown skin, and she said that her green eyes made her the object of prejudice when she was a child! We humans need to get real.

foodie 12:23 AM  

Quick & Dirty Index: Medium Challenging

Chris Christie 12:26 AM  

No one from Camden says they're from Camden. Starting to understand New Jersey yet?

santafefran 12:30 AM  

Agree this seemed tougher than a Tuesday but I liked it somewhat better than Rex, maybe because I was a FAIR-HAIRED CHILD. More often I have heard the phrase as the fair-haired boy, in an office setting describing someone in favor with management.

I wanted SO WUS(S) for BOGUS and also had an E in AMONRA at first.

VANITY CASE was a bygone piece of luggage that girls/women carried their makeup in.

@Tita, how do I get the new app you are using?

@sfingi, that fat cat in my avatar is Zadie (fraidy-cat) one of my five sweet felines.

ingend--assign gender?

Pete 12:33 AM  

How can imagination be the Mirror of the mind? Machinations of the mind, ok, but mirror? Whoever came up with that saying, if such preson really exists, seriously needs to rethink their metaphor.

Enisled is worse than isled, if only for being a 7 letter bulls#!t word rather than a 5 letter bulls#!t word. Bulls#!t words should be as short as possible.

They're all the same VANITY. They should be different VANITYs, but there's only one VANITY.

mikeametrics 12:34 AM  

Certainly more than my average Tuesday time but I wasn't too blown out of the water. Living in Philadelphia CAMDEN was a giveaway; studying math NIM was (surprising but nonetheless) a gimme.

Just started reading Zinn's People's History so Hispaniola/HAITI was fresh in mind.

I agree the Estonia flying was out of place but I was able to guess from my E. My main source of trouble came from IN A TRICE--never heard that expression before, and TONGA in the cross wasn't helping... CONGA??

Tobias Duncan 12:51 AM  

Easy Thursday time here but its tough to be exact as this is paper solving week.
This puzzle made me feel like a drunken idiot, I may have had a few cocktails to many at the Monday night dinner party I attended but not enough to warrant this piss poor performance.
I have not heard of half the phrases or answers in this puzzle.It was either for older folks or just over my head.
Totie Fields ??? Come on!
Figured NIM must be NIl so I ended with an error on a bloody Tuesday.
Feeling salty for sure.

retired_chemist 12:55 AM  

I though I was just tired and thus slow. Sort of nice to know it wasn't all me.

OHIO, AMON-RA (except for possible spelling variations), and URIAH were gimmes, and I even knew XEBEC: the first by being born near the Ohio River (actually about a half mile away at most), and the last three as "gifts" from the time I have spent doing crosswords.

Hand up for BELCH @ 18D, DAS @ 42A. Last thing to fix was SETS (a price) @ 67A. Still think that fits the clue better.

Let us all work IN A TRICE into our conversations today. Expect some odd looks.

Thanks,Mr. Buckley.

Anonymous 1:05 AM  

I do not believe this. I was on my 3rd vodka when I finished and felt this was a little hard for Tuesday but clearly a Tuesday. Me thinks Rex's vanity got the best of him. As for me, just another Tuesday....


chefwen 1:19 AM  

I did so want 18D to be bElCH, but I held off. Wanted pING at 12D, but I knew it wasn't HTpP, guess I'll settle for TING. Had noSy paRKER at 28A, that went nowhere. URIAH was a gimme, seen him plenty in the puzz's. XEBEC was a brand new word for me.

Pretty crunchy Tuesday, but I liked it.

Alabama Caseworker Mirrors 4:17 AM  

So funny, everyone seems to have been drunk or tired while solving this...on a Monday night?
I'm neither, but actually didn't like this!
Do i have to turn in my bubbly card?
I thought VANITY seemed sophisticated and i didn't see it coming...
But like @Pete 12:33am it sorta seemed the vanities were all the same , and i have never ever heard of anything like MIRROROFTHEMIND...I've heard of Eyes being the windows to your soul...but that's about it.

Every single clue felt toughish and off, so either Mike Buckley is really original, or something is a bit weird.
I'm gonna go with original!

Haven't heard BOGUS. Since highschool Minneapolis circa 1976...back when ISH meant Ick.

INATRICE actually makes me want to punch someone.
Weird all around.

P.S. AWS Is not allowed in Scrabble!

. 5:38 AM  

Tuesday? Really? :-)

Oscar 7:16 AM  

Hand up for BELCH before REACH.

Z 7:29 AM  

A DNF on a Tuesday. Yikes. My AKA looked like an ArA, so I had KEId, thinking rEId was a name. No idea about XE-EC, and running the alphabet on SA-EdS gave me nothing. Combined with a plain guess on CAMDEN/NIM and that whole south was a challenging mess.

I have always understood FAIR HAIRED CHILD to be the guy (or gal) who is in favor with the higher ups despite being generally incompetent. It is not a compliment.

I will make sure that I am not near @Alabama Caseworker Mirrors when I use IN A TRICE today.

John V 7:31 AM  

This puzzle was round two in Westport on Saturday. In the break before the finals, Will asked for a show of hands of those who thought round two was challending; it was unanimous, 125-0.

My experience was a bit different. As I was going along, I recognized it as challenging but my time was about the same as round one, yesterday's puzzle. XEBEC was a gimme for me (go figure), CAMDEN - easy. Only real pause was 1A BOGUS. Grew up with a kid from ESTONIA, so saw that one pretty quickly. Didn't know Alabama as the Yellowhammer state, but that came easily enough.

@Rex, thanks for the Dusty Springfield post. Windmill Of Your Mind was a big hit when Mary and I were first married, so it brought back fond memories.

A fellow sent me a Gail Collins themed puzzle late last week. Off to that. This post-tourney puzzle drought is really odd, is what Im' sayin'

MaryRoseG 8:03 AM  

Had NOSYPARKER in for case worker for the whole puzzle. No wonder it took so long to complete. I prefer it, in any case.

Sue Mc 8:06 AM  

Had to look up the new-to-me IN A TRICE:

In a single moment, with no delay.


Trice is no longer in general use, but we can easily out that it means 'a very short period of time' by our knowledge of the phrase 'in a trice'. That seems reasonable, as the phrase is the only place we are now likely ever to come across the word. That's not the original meaning of 'trice' though - it had a more specific meaning, which was 'at a single pull'. This derived from the name given in the 14th century to a nautical windlass or pulley (variously 'tryse', 'tryce', 'trise' or 'trice') - hence the 'single pull' meaning.

The phrase was first recorded, in the 15th century, in the form 'at a trice'; for example, in the verse The lyfe of Ipomydon, 1440:

The howndis... Pluckid downe dere all at a tryse. [The hounds... plucked down deer all at a trice]

The first recording of the 'in a trice' version of the phrase is in John Skelton's Poetical Works, 1508:

To tell you what conceyte I had than in a tryce, The matter were to nyse.

jackj 8:10 AM  

It’s beginning to seem obligatory that every month we are faced with another pronunciation test, (whether we need it or not), but at least with today’s SILENTH entry, it had a clever clue of “Start of every hour?”.

Further complicating one’s enjoyment of this puzzle we have a Zen koan initiated by Mr. Buckley namely, “When are AMON-RA and XEBEC not Saturday entries?” And, of course, the answer for all, but especially for Zen Buddhist monks in training, is, “When they are Tuesday entries.”

I actually liked and was impressed with the thought put into some of the cluing, like “Hobby”, which was a gem used to trigger INTEREST, (still debating whether the EGG clue was clever or insulting), but then, on a more upscale note, add in BUMRAP, THINSKIN and INATRICE, and we have some interesting fill surrounding the clever VANITY entries.

Today’s theme also gives clear evidence of why we should give thanks to Will (and other editors) for bringing a more contemporary spin to today’s crosswords. In 1997, the only other time VANITY appeared in a Times crossword, it was clued as “Theme of Ecclesiastes”. Well, gag me with a spoon, as they say.

On balance, a welcome Tuesday puzzle from Mike Buckley. Good show!

jesser 8:12 AM  

Wow. This was a Thursday puzzle with some Friday/Saturday fill. I'm still areel, but I finished it. Crazy day in jesserville, so that will be all.

Rudy 8:13 AM  

I admire those of who can claim XEBEC AMONRA and that TING, etc., were "gimmes". I normally do not spend too much time on weekday puzzles ("A man has to have pride!") and this was in the too-long category but stumbled to the finish line, unlike Paavo NURMI.

MIRROROFTHEMIND sounds like a very mixed metaphor and FAIRHAIRED Boy seems like a reference more often heard than CHILD. And what with French (49a), Austrian (42a) and Html (10a) languages thrown in for good measure

@foodie 12:18 am, apropos FAIRHAIRED

You should glance through some of the Matrimonial Ads in Indian newspapers and you see what variants of "color" are acceptable and no-no's

joho 8:20 AM  

I'll bet a lot of us belched before we reached.

I think any puzzle following yesterday's sparkler would have a tough time and today's definitely does.

I did not know that TING is a word!

GILL I. 8:22 AM  

I was neither drunk nor tired but this puzzle did seem to take me longer than most Tuesday's.
Let's see: BOGUS BUMRAP, GUT FLAB, VANITY EGO, ROT BANE. I wonder if Mr. Buckley's imagination is really a MIRROR OF (his) MIND....
I had never heard of TOTIE Fields so I looked her up. She was a comedienne in the 60's and 70's; sort of in the Joan Rivers genre but not as caustic.
I wonder if anyone names their child URIAH nowdays....

David 8:23 AM  

Challenging! I blew away my Tuesday record last week, today I was a good minute and a half over my norm. Threw in PLEXIGLASS before PLATEGLASS, ORNOT before IFNOT, and the unforgivable URSA before ASIA, not bothering to get a 2nd obligatory cross (after the A at the end) before choosing between the 2.

Glad to see others agree that it was tough. Never heard of MIRROR OF THE MIND, so that took a while, in fact the only theme answer I got with few crosses was CASE WORKER. Far less gimmes for a Tuesday than usual, which is just fine....

dk 8:25 AM  


I liked this one although FAIRHARIED and Tuesday puzzles are as rare as an XEBEC in Wisconsin. And, I wish to join occupy ISLED.

Happy Birthday Mr. Dickens.

*** (3 Stars) The Tuesday bar has been raised.

jberg 8:28 AM  

I had bElCH before REACH too, but the latter does fit the clue better - belching is just rude, not "in a way." Got ALBABAMA off the B, OHIO off being a 4-letter river that touches Indiana, and as for EE - I can only think of two countries that start with E, and Ireland is IE, so it had to be the other one.

Isn't NIM essentially the same as the matchstick game? See "Last Year at Marienbad," in which it's a theme (for what, God only knows).

I do agree that many of the definitions were off, esp. MIRROR OF THE MIND, and Rex is right about ISLED. But I did like the symmetrical placing of ISH and IAL - as if Mr. Buckley is either taunting us or aplogizing, I'm not sure which. I also liked having URSA and URIAH so close together - until they weren't.

David 8:30 AM  

After getting my vanity pricked by a slow start in the northwest corner, I became unbearably vainglorious by finishing....

Keir Dullea is forever associated with the wonderfully sad movie "David and Lisa" for me. I always forget this other role, maybe due to my 1960's drugged state while watching it.

David 8:33 AM  

Keir Dullea is a Westporter - as this was the 2nd puzzle from the weekend tournament, perhaps it was a shoutout....

evil doug 8:38 AM  

After the Continental Army got chased out of New York, morale was low and troop count was dwindling with soldiers reluctant to re-up or even deserting.

Thomas Paine's "The American Crisis"---"These are the times that try men's souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph...."---was published in mid-December and Washington had it read to the troops, helping to boost morale.

On Christmas Washington crossed the Delaware and surprised the Brits at Trenton in a key Revolution moment that helped turn the tide of the war.

Vanity is a cool word, and while the full-length answers aren't terrific the vanity+ phrases are fun: vanity plate, Vanity Fair, vanity case, vanity mirror---they all evoke nice, concrete images. And I'd much rather have a Thursday puzzle on Tuesday than the reverse, as we suffered last week.


efrex 8:51 AM  

XEBEC/KEIR/ERIK had me in trouble (especially since I had SABRES before SABERS). Don't recall this many writeovers on a Tuesday in quite some time; on the other hand, TONGA reminded me of the great Flanders & Swann:

Oh, it's hard to say...
But in Tonga, that means... "No!"

If I ever have the money,
'Tis to Tonga I shall go.
For each lovely Tongan maiden there,
Will gladly make a date.

And by the time she's said:
It is usually too late!


Jp 8:51 AM  

I don't time myself but it definitely took me more than the 12-15 minutes it takes me to complete a typical or easy Monday or Tuesday. So I agree with Rex rating. Was solving the puzzle during TV ads and for the longest time there were wide patches of white squares staring at me. I figured the theme right after MIRROR appeared.
There were a lot of "trivia" type entries which I am not too fond of. But I did finish the puzzle without recourse to any google. And that surprised me given entries like AMONRA, TONGA, XEBEC, KEIR, TOTIE, EMILIO. At least I can say that the construction allowed me to guess these entries from the intersecting clues.

evil doug 8:53 AM  

[Elaine and Puddy have gone to see a priest, Father Curtis.]

Father Curtis: Let me see if I understand this. [At Elaine]You're concerned that he isn't concerned that you're going to hell. [At Puddy]And you feel that she's too bossy.

Elaine and Puddy: Yeah, that's right.

Father Curtis: Well, oftentimes in cases of inter-faith marriages, couples have difficulty--

Elaine (Interrupting): Whoa, whoa, whoa! No one's getting married here.

Father Curtis: You aren't?

Puddy: No.

Elaine: We're just, you know, having a good time.

Father Curtis: Oh, well then it's simple. You're both going to hell.

Puddy: No way, this is bogus, man!

quilter1 8:57 AM  

Solved from the bottom up and outside of XEBEC most of the words and phrases were mildly familiar. I have heard/read FAIR HAIRED CHILD meaning more favored by nature (attractive, smart, charming, talented) rather than spoken well of. My big write over was passtime for INTEREST. I know VANITY case as the smallest bag in a set of hard sided luggage, fitted for cosmetics, etc. But that's just me being old.

flying gargoyle 8:58 AM  

"Vanity cases" I learned from an early '90s Nynex ad -- "Enough about me, darling, how do you like my dress?" -- so that one brought a chuckle. You can find it on YouTube.

Tita 9:01 AM  

@retired_chemist - agree - I had ASKS in very light pencil till near the end...

I think bElCH might win for most common writeover of all times...but the clueing does point towards reach.
And ISLED would probably win for most reviled...

This one took me 17 minutes on Saturday...had trouble accepting XEBEC, and almost sent it in with cOsIER and cTTP!
@Ulrich - isn't heimlich (homely) German for cozy?

@David - interesting tidbit re: Mr. Dullea...
@efrex - thanks! on its way...
(the 'mosts' above would be obvious were we all using the app...just as times are visible...but only if you opt in...)

Wood 9:02 AM  

Thought we might have a Dickens 200 theme when URIAH was my first entry, but no. I echo all the previous sentiments... Worst Tuesday time sine modern record keeping began, unsparkling theme, bleah.

chefbea 9:15 AM  

I agree...tough puzzle. Hand up for belch. Knew Totie. Never heard of nim. Use to have a vanity case to match the other two pieces of luggage - they were all light blue.

@Tita I want to know about the app as well. Sent you an e-mail.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

Wow. I know I'm not half the solver that Rex and many of the other commentators are but ... this one gave me no trouble at all. I found crosses easy for all the semi-obscure entries. My rating: Easy, like most Tuesdays. I often get DNF where the regulars are rating it easy so the question is "Why was this easy for me?"


acmeofepitome 9:22 AM  

Wonder if Rex ever had a grandmother. They always toted VANITY CASEs on trips. The case always had a MIRROR on the lid interior so the traveler could see herself making up. And the case was filled with cold cream, face powder, combs, brushes, and other evidence of grandmotherdom.

Rasputin 9:23 AM  

It's finally happened, as I predicted it would. All individual knowledge has disappeared into an amalgam of knowledge where, paradoxically, knowledge has ceased to exist. There is no longer anything but the amalgam. When you Google "Mirror of the mind" one of the top entries is with the quote of Rex's that when you Google "Mirror of the Mind" you don't get answers that fit the clue.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

my mother had a skirted vanity table where she "did her face." i liked to play under it. i enjoy a challenging tues. i think you young'uns were at a disadvantage with some of the clues but i confess there were several that i was not at all familiar with, ie. the wotd. captcha: nogryo = sign written by a dyslexic greek-diner owner?

hazel 9:49 AM  

@rasputin - awesome awesome post. If @month were still doing its monthly snippet compilations, yours surely would lead the list......

I think tuesdays should be given the leeway of having some killer curveballs, as long as the crosses are right down the middle of the plate. For me, anyway, that's exactly what this one did.

While a vanity theme seems really cool, things that have vanity in their name are kind of sad. It makes me think of Candide and I suppose, by extension, Ecclesiastes.

Loren Muse Smith 9:52 AM  

@joho -"I'll bet a lot of us belched before we reached." Guilty.

Tough, tough Tuesday. I agree with @ED that a Thursday Tuesday is better than a Tuesday Thursday. Of course, I loved SILENT H. I never know if it's "sabre" or SABER, and I'll have forgotten by the time I go to sleep tonight. As they say in Japan - colander head. Liked seeing EIN attributed to Austria! I once had an Austrian boyfriend, and spent a lovely summer there. I was his, yikes, "Lierbsdirndl!" (@Ulrich - I have to spell it that way to reflect the dialect.)

The only NIM I knew was Nim Chimpsky.

archaeoprof 10:02 AM  

I so wanted to belCH, but managed to hold off long enough to realize it would be wrong.

@Evil: yes, a tough Tuesday is far better than an easy Thursday.

Nice article about NCIS in today's NYT.

Vincent L. 10:26 AM  

As I wrote in belch, I thought, "I've read that it's considered a compliment to belch at the dinner table in Japan, and if that's true, the clue seems off." So I was pleased that it turned out to be REACH.

The puzzle was challenging, but I don't know that ee for ESTONIA is a Saturday clue. How many 7-letter countries start with an E?

Internet Wiseazz 10:27 AM  

@jberg- How about -

.ee Ecuador
.ee Estonia
.eg Egypt
.eh Western Sahara
.er Eritrea
.es Spain
.et Ethiopia
.eu European Union

chefbea 10:31 AM  

@anon 9:43 My mother too had a skirted vanity table..she called it her dressing table. It housed all her make up, jewelry, perfumes, hankies and of course her white gloves.

Two Ponies 10:31 AM  

I'm with @ jackj today. I really enjoyed this puzzle.
As @dk noted, today is Charles Dickens' birthday so Uriah Heep is a nice coincidence. Heep was a character you loved to hate.
With all of the restrictions on luggage these days I think it's safe to say goodbye to vanity cases.
Mirror of the mind is new to me but as a phrase it's kinda cool.
Well done Mr. Buckley.

Norm 10:38 AM  

No complaints here. Thought it was an entertaining puzzle and was very surprised to see it rated challenging even by Rex's Tuesday standard. Started off with MIRRORS OF THE SOUL but that was easily fixed, and I like XEBEC (and triremes and other fun ships).

mac 10:40 AM  

I belched too. I totally froze in the NW at the tournament. This morning I thought of oriole, and that helped solve the rest. For 5D I wanted Shrek.

Very odd Tuesday.

Loren Muse Smith 10:50 AM  

@Vincent L - Don't burp at the table in Japan! And while we're on etiquette in other countries, avoid our "ok" symbol everywhere, just to be safe; it's rude in a lot of countries. And don't give a green hat to a dinner party host in China. Really.

Lindsay 10:56 AM  

Never heard of vanity MIRROR or vanity CASE. So the theme fell a little flat for me. Writeover at 40A or NOT >> IF NOT, then a total crash and burn in the KEIR/ERIK/XEBEC sector. I will spare you the details.

However I must stand up for IN A TRICE. It's one of my Ebay feedback phrases, as in "The package arrived in a trice."

ak 11:01 AM  

after working through the top half of this puzzle at westport, seeing XEBEC in the south was actually a relief. had ursA for ASIA like everyone else, left the peculiar vowel blank in AM_NRA. last squares filled were the TO of TOTIE, stared at it for about 5 seconds before turning it in.

Gareth Bain 11:03 AM  

Me I'm a red-haired boy... Was surprised that Rex hadn't heard of a vanity case, then I went to DOACF and neither had Amy. weird.

@ACM wants to punch somebody, quickly, someone in Frisco run/drive and give her a hug!

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Actually, PLATEGLASS shouldn't be seen in shop windows. A key point of PLATEGLASS is transparancy.

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

One person's challenging is another's easy. Never heard of XEBEC and didn't get HTTP. Other than that, I thought this was pretty easy. I had all of the across filled in so REACH was a gimme, although BELCH seemed right.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

There's a song by Squeeze called Vanity Fair, that has the line "In her vanity case, her compact case, in her compact case, her eyes" so I knew Vanity Case, unlike Rex. This seemed like a typical Tuesday to me. Thanks Mr. Buckley!

evil doug 1:42 PM  

"Be rude at the dinner table, in a way."

That 'in a way' hint suggests a more subtle, more tolerable offense than 'belch'. Hence, 'reach'---a less heinous crime of etiquette (at least in the U.S.; I yield to Loren's expertise on how that might get your ear cut off in some societies....).


Bird 1:57 PM  

Yeah, what Rex said. This should have been a late-week puzzle. Couple of proper nouns that I didn't know made it difficult. That and reading "Dueler's swords" as "Dueler's words" got me mixed up. Trying to fit En Garde into a 5 square answer does not work.

Had . .
rodS for MANS
sally for TOTIE

Badir 2:01 PM  

Yep, this one chewed me up, too, but at least 52D was a gimme: Just last night, my wife and I were looking at a map of Philly, looking for a hotel to stay at for my cousin's upcoming wedding, and I noticed and remarked on the fact that Camden was just across the river!

Sparky 2:11 PM  

DNF..Could not think of HTTP. Had aTtn then erased it. So that corner stayed blank. The rest fell into place with several passes.

I recall the phrase being FAIR HAIRED boy. Sort of a Teacher's Pet. Seems imagination would take you away from your mind, not mirror what's already in there. @David. Also remember David and Lisa. Important movie in its day.

@chefbea. I had a vanity table with the white cotton eyelet skirt. About thirteen and tormented my parents till I got one. No vanity case though, never wore a whole lot of make up.

Unknown 2:15 PM  

Tough Tuesday for me:
I tough BOGUS meant something false or fake, not....lame. Very colloquial for my ESL.
Mirror of the mind? As the eyes, the mirror of the soul? Never heard that.
I've heard the expression FAIR HAIRED SON also. I guess substituting child is more politically correct.

Thank God for KEIR, a gimme for me..He was as creepy as he was handsome (watch Bunny Lake is Missing..)

John V 2:22 PM  

@Badir, um, head @Chris Christie implication when you're picking out your hotel. Philly's the place to be, is what I'm sayin'

John V 2:22 PM  

That would be heed, of course.

Click and Clack, The Tappet Brothers 2:34 PM  

You guys want BOGUS? Listen to our show, Car Talk.

Lewis 2:40 PM  

I've heard INATRICE and put it right in, but I never use it and have never heard anyone use it. I must have seen it in books.

Windmills Of Your Mind was first performed by Noel Harrison (son of actor Rex Harrison) and was the theme of the 1968 movie The Thomas Crown Affair. The opening of the melody comes from Mozart. It was also performed by Sting, Vanilla Fudge, and Petula Clark, among many others.

Totie Fields said, "I went on a diet for three weeks, and I lost... three weeks."

I must be one of those old people for whom this puzzle wasn't more difficult than the typical Thursday. The only clue/answer with a contemporary feel was 1A.

Lewis 2:41 PM  

oops -- Tuesday, not Thursday

Ulrich 2:47 PM  

As a fellow-belcher, I'm proud to be a member of the most-frequent-write-over-of-all-time society. I also claim membership in the second-most-frequent-write-over-of-all-time society, ASIA over URSA. Nevertheless, I managed to put the last letter in at Westport exactly when the clock stopped.

Speaking of Westport: Has it been mentioned that our friends imsdave and Karen-from-the-Cape received a diploma, signed by WS, stating that they finished all 3 puzzles correctly and in time? They themselves would be too modest to mention it...

@Tita: 'fraid not--"heimlich" means "secretly", and "heimisch" means "indigenous". You can't beat "gemütlich"--sorry, guys, I didn't bring it up!

Rudy 3:05 PM  

@Evil 1:42 PM
"Be rude at the dinner table, in a way."

I agree that the phrase "in a way" rules out more egregious table manner assaults and REACH is more appropriate. Being a boarder in my HS days, we were sternly warned about our "boarding house REACH".

Getting back to table manners: of course in some cultures as Evil states your ears could be lopped off for improper table manners. But post-prandial BELCHing is acceptable and expected in the Middle East.

Robert Browning 3:18 PM  

So, if you can grasp it it's ok, but if you have to reach for it it's not ok? Bulls#!t I say! A man's reach should exceed his grasp!

Chip Hilton 3:26 PM  

Because of Westport, I timed myself on this one - something I never do - and came in at 14:15. That seems about right for me. Ursa really threw me for a bit as did the whole NE. Being of a certain age helped with both TOTIE and KEIR.

ISLED and OHIO were my 2 least favorite, as clued.

hazel 3:37 PM  

@westporters- how much time were you allowed on this one?

quilter1 3:58 PM  

According to my Old Testament professor, who was fluent in a number of ancient languages, including Hebrew, the phrase from Ecclesiastes "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity," translates literally as "Life's a fart." Often, yes.

Tita 4:19 PM  

@Anon GW @ 9:17
(and @skua from yesterday)

How about if you could tag clues as you go. When you're done, you could see things like...

Hah! That was easy for a Friday - 3 Sports clues (right in my wheelhouse), 4 easy Crosswordese, no Naticks or Redirects and only 1 Obscure clue.

Tuesday - Bah - hard...let's see - 3 Naticks, 2 Opera clues, 1 Obscure, and
3 nasty Redirects...and look at all my writeovers...

Then if you could compare your own notes with all of we're talking about real insight into the puzzles - much more helpful than just how long it took.

Tita 4:20 PM  

@Hazel...20 minutes for each puzzle.

Deb 5:32 PM  

@Lewis, so happy to see I'm not the only one who recalls the original version of Windmills of Your Mind. The scene in The Thomas Crown Affair with Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen playing chess while that song plays remains one of the most memorable movie moments in history for me. I was eleven years old when I saw it and I so wanted to be Faye Dunaway.

And @Rex, I may be wrong, but I could swear you mentioned Dusty Springfield having covered another song recently, and I wish you'd stop that! She was the Celine Dion of the late 60s/early 70s and doesn't deserve the recognition today. IMHO. She also covered "If You Go Away," but Rod McKuen's original version put hers to shame. (Then again, Cyndi Lauper's much later cover kicks ass. Seriously, you should all go check it out on youtube. And have some kleenex handy.)

Just to keep the count right, hand up here for belch instead of REACH. Overall I found this one a bit tougher than a typical Tuesday, but not as challenging as some seem to have found it.

sanfranman59 5:35 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Tue 10:50, 8:52, 1.22, 93%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 6:08, 4:35, 1.34, 100%, Challenging

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

challenging but solved it fairly quickly. In a thrice actually. Where exactly is the reed on a harmonica?

foodie 6:11 PM  

Wow, 93-100% challenging. My QDI needs some tweaking, at least for Tuesdays!

Theoda3rd 6:23 PM  

Was happy to see a challenging rating by Rex. Had to check calendar to make sure it was not Thursday. Nice surprise for early in the week.

ArtLvr 6:49 PM  

@ Sue Mc -- Many thanks for the etymology of TRICE! Made my day... We had a tall antique vanity with a low shallow front shelf and side drawers in the guest bedroom when I was young. One could sit or stand before it and adjust the hinged wings on each side to get three views of one's coiffure, etc., while use of a hand mirror allowed several views of the back as well. I don't think I've seen another one in all the years since.

OISK 6:52 PM  

Took me twice as long as my usual Tuesday, but I really liked this puzzle.

To Gianetta I was mated I can prove it in a trice
Though her charms are overrated still I own she's rather nice... (Gilbert and Sullivan)

I have been to Tonga.

I put in several incorrect answers at first, including Ursa for Asia, and that slowed me down, but did not curtail my enjoyment. No rappers, no pop tunes, no references to TV shows I never watched, and I appreciate it! Good job!

Anonymous 7:35 PM  

Deb at 5:52 - Only a certain kind of 11 year old girl could fully appreciate that chess scene in the original Thomas Crown Affair and I don’t think you were that kind of girl (personally I had a good laugh watching it)....


Deb 7:54 PM  

@JFC, in addition to taking my sister and I to movies that would have been considered inappropriate for our ages, my Dad took us bar-hopping with him on the weekends from the time I was ten. His favorite dive had pastied go-go dancers in the corner and one of his acquaintances there was a hooker who, for reasons I don't recall, took us to her home once where we walked in on her roomie servicing a john.

You really have no idea what kind of 11-year-old girl I was, and that scene remains memorable me for exactly the reason the director intended.

Rudy Shankar 8:33 PM  

@Deb 7:54 pm

What an interesting childhood!

fergus 9:14 PM  

If this were the second puzzle in a tournament I would have been most anxious. So many possible entries for such a number of ambiguous Clues. But since I was just relaxing on a late Tuesday afternoon, I was really quite pleased to have to concentrate and consider rather than simply spilling straightforward information into the squares without checking the possible crosses. If WS is upping the Tuesday difficulty, that's OK with me.

Anonymous 9:41 PM  

Ah, Deb, to those who have never seen the film, perhaps this from describes it as best it can, a chess game between the wealthy businessman who pulled off a bank heist and the insurance investigator who pursues him only to engage in an affair:

In a celebrated six-minute set piece, a wordless chess game between the two develops into an increasingly intense pas de deux of visual foreplay; near its climax, a rapt McQueen gazes on while Dunaway contemplatively fondles the head of a bishop. The wariness of the couple, who can never entirely trust one another, only heightens the atmosphere of erotic frisson. Michel Legrand's (the composer who wrote the Oscar-winning "Windmills of Your Mind") layers his catchy score with interlocking ostinatos which echo the film's visual motif of circularity, while adding an undercurrent of playfulness.

Frankly, I don't remember much else anout the film....


hazel 10:25 PM  

@tita - thks for the info! I was kind of uncertain filling in the last cell, but my ipad let me know it was correct, surprisingly. I'd have had a lot of time left on the clock - but i'm guessing i would have spent quite a bit double-checking before handing it in. The WOTD would definitely have gotten inside my head.

sanfranman59 10:54 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 6:49, 6:49, 1.00, 53%, Medium
Tue 10:54, 8:52, 1.23, 93%, Challenging (10th highest median solve time of 138 Tuesdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:36, 3:40, 0.98, 46%, Medium
Tue 5:58, 4:35, 1.30, 99%, Challenging (2nd highest median solve time of 138 Tuesdays)

Anonymous 10:58 PM  

Way too difficult to be fun at all. I bailed pretty fast and sought refuge in Rex. Even seeing the answers confirmed it was hard. His rating was reassuring. But not fun at all.

fergus 11:13 PM  

The 2nd highest median time out of 138 recorded.?! No wonder I scribbled on the Xeroxed puzzle from the library: V. Tough Tues. before reading any of these posts. (Now that the NYT costs $2.71 where I live, this is one Tuesday that might have been worth paying for.)

JFC -- I usually find something provocative in your posts. Glad you keep writing, whether in defiance or confirmation.

fergus 11:16 PM  

And by the way, to you late nighters, the NYTimes analysis of the new Bay Bridge in the Science Times was a fascinating article.

Yoss 12:40 AM  

IMAGINATION is a MIRROR OF THE MIND is a Freudian concept. Freud writes that a patient once invented a dream that was perfectly analyzed, and that's because not only dreams, but imagination too, is a mirror of our unconscious.

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Lola505 1:39 PM  

Hello! My first post, but I'm a long-time NYT crossword addict. I loved finding Rex's blog to "see" what others thought of the day's puzzle. I notice there are definitely age-, gender- and interest-related differences in how easily the clues are solved. As I finished today's puzzle I thought, "Easy! Let's go see what Rex thought." Rex thought "Challenging". Go figure.
BTW, I felt entitled to post, now that I have contributed during Rex's pledge drive, so maybe you'll hear from me again, although I solved the 2/7/12 puzzle on 3/13/12, so you New Yorkers have already moved on.

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

I'm thinking the question mark after high tone? might mean the answer is tin-g, like an off-key note, G? Could be the dictionary definition of a small bell sound, but then why the qmark?

Solving in Seattle 1:44 PM  

BOGUS? I grew up in Southern California when surfers invented the word. Mr. Buckley, you misused it here. I was stuck with "manUp" forever. Also in the chorus with "urSA" instead of ASIA. I figured out TOTIE??? (BOGUS works here) from the crosses. I also thought AMON spelled his last name Re. Oh, well... it's fun to bitch on Rex's blog.

rain forest 1:50 PM  

Personally, I don't care if a puzzle which appears on a Tuesday is difficult. I finished rather quickly, actually (not bragging), and I found it entertaining with little crosswordese, nice cluing, and tight themewise. Imagination can be thought of as "mirror of the mind", of course, even if that phrase is not a common one. When one doesn't time oneself, it is easy to just enjoy the construction and, as always, appreciate the ingenuity of the constructor. Well done, I say.

Spacecraft 2:07 PM  

Spicoli, to Mr. Hand: "...BOGUS, so if we didn't get some cool rules, we'd just be BOGUS too."
This one didn't go with normal early-week smoothness, but no way would I call it challenging. Easy-medium, maybe. I balked at a few entries in the "it can't be THAT, can it?" variety (TING,INATRICE, ISLED, anagrams ERIK and KEIR crossing), but got 'er done without too much fuss.
Agreed that there are better clues for 17a than "imagination," metaphor or no. And I reiterate my rant about SILENTH and its ilk.
I believe this whole effort stemmed from a desire to work XEBEC into a crossword puzzle. In that, Mike, you certainly succeded--but at what price?

Dirigonzo 4:17 PM  

I dead-ended myself when I misspelled KErR, so (E)RIK never appeared to show me
X(E)BEC. Apparently there are some gaps in my knowledge of sailing vessels. So I had fun, though my self-esteem took a hit.

Just realized bhere is a mini word ladder with IGO, EGO, EGG - how cool is that?

And lastly, I'll weigh in on the discussion of "in a way" attached to the clue at 18a - I don't think it implies anything other than indicating the solver has to pick one specific act from among several possibilities. To my mind, bElCH fits the clue just as well as REACH does and either is equally possible until the crosses sort it out. "Fart", on the other hand, is too short.

Solving in Seattle 4:44 PM  

@Dirigonzo, I've been sailing and racing sailboats almost my whole life and I've only heard of XEBEC in the past couple of weeks as a crossword answer. I also had bElCH instead of REACH. Anyway, I did not do this puzzle INATRICE (which I now understand has its roots in nautical lore).

Waxy in Montreal 5:16 PM  

Had more problems at the BANE/BRUT (huh?) intersection than anywhere else but eventually guessed right. Also, never heard of NIM but was able to solve for it as well as XEBEC and MIRROR OF THE MIND (terrible clue) from their crosses. KEIR & TOTIE were obviously easier for those of us around during their primes. Overall, a great experience compared to the usual early-week fare. IMHO, Mike Buckley's definitely a strong contender in the FAIR HAIRED CHILD category among Tuesday constructors.

Anonymous 5:30 PM  

I pulled a Tobias Duncan at 59A (I mean, wouldn't the object of a subtraction game be to end up with NIL?) which left me with _ALDEN to finish the grid. I guessed wALDEN, which doesn't exactly scream "city" but it does at least mutter "familiar," which sometimes pans out. Not this time.

Dirigonzo 8:13 PM  

@Solving in Seattle - thank you for mentioning the nautical origin of trice. I had completely missed that point until I just now went back and re-read the comment from 5 weeks ago where it was explained.

I really miss the email notification of updates to the comments here. Please bring them back!

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