Disc-shaped vacuum cleaner from iRobot / TUE 3-27-12 / Bit of pirate booty / Separator of syllables in many dictionaries / ___ bodkins! / Midwest city representing average tastes / Lava lamp formation / City where Peer Gynt premiered

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Constructor: Todd McClary

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (pushing Wednesdayish)

THEME: FEATHER ONE'S NEST (62A: Gather wealth by exploitation ... as hinted at by this puzzle's circled squares) — circled squares have a bird name sitting directly on top of its feather ... type?

  • LOON on DOWN

Word of the Day: 'ODS bodkins (35D: "___ bodkins!") —

The phrase sounds entirely suited to Tudor yokels and is a stock in trade of any author wishing for a shortcut to convey a sense of 'Olde Engylande'. 

A bodkin is a small tool for piecing holes in leather etc. This term borrows the early bodikin version of that word, not for its meaning but just because of the alliteration with body, to make a euphemistic version of the oath God's body. This would otherwise have been unacceptable to a pious audience. That is, odds bodkins is a minced oath. (The Phrase Finder)
• • •

This one's a little clunky. Do the feathers go with their respective birds, or are the groupings just arbitrary (or, rather, just based on shared word length)? Does a loon have down? A robin plumes? I don't associate those words very strongly with the words they are sitting on. Also, I had no idea FEATHER ONE'S NEST meant what the clue says it means. None. I think I had it confused with "a feather in one's cap," which I don't think has anything to do with "exploitation." Mostly I've never really heard anyone use FEATHER ONE'S NEST, with this clue's meaning or any meaning. Don't like that PLUME (20A: Smoke column) and DOWN (45A: Depressed) get different, non-bird meanings in their clues, but QUILL ... well, not really (67A: Declaration of Independence signer?). You can call it a writing implement, but I still see a feather. There were parts of the grid I liked—most notably ROOMBA, which I briefly thought was going to be ZOOMBA (sp?) which is some kind of workout / dance fad thing. I think. But ROOMBA I like better. ON THE Q.T. is good too. Those two almost make up for ERUPTIVE (?) and the insane non-drug cluing on ODS. Wobbly. That is the general feeling I got from solving this one.

  • 1A: Insignificant one (TWERP) — that clue just doesn't say TWERP to me. It's accurate enough, but there's something much harsher, tone-wise, about TWERP. Also, had trouble seeing it because I went with MACH over WARP at 2D: Measure of speed in "Star Trek" 
  • 16A: Talent agent Emanuel (ARI) — No idea, but I figured ARI Gold is a talent agent, so ... why not?
  • 32A: City where "Peer Gynt" premiered (OSLO) — never saw the clue. Saw OSL- and just dropped the "O" and kept going. 

  • 48A: Poker legend Ungar (STU) — learned from crosswords. Alternative to Disco STU.
  • 58A: Separator of syllables in many dictionaries (DOT) — again, accurate enough, but just not a Tuesday clue. See also 39D: Word usually abbreviated on timelines (ANNO). Yes, it's a "word." Just not an English word. Surprise!
  • 47D: Midwest city representing average tastes (PEORIA) — in one expression, that I know of: "... but will it play in PEORIA?" I have no idea if PEORIA really represents anything about "average" America.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:12 AM  

Still not that fond of circle puzzles, but if you look at this as a medium Tues. themeless (yes, I know there is no such thing) it's a pretty good effort.  Three nice fifteens plus some zippy fill...REBUS, ONTHEQT, TWERP, FLAK,...

Plus lots of scrabbly stuff and not a pangram.

I liked it.

Brian 12:12 AM  

Good guess conflating ARI Emanuel and ARI Gold. The character of Ari Gold in "Entourage" is based on the actual talent agent Ari Emanuel, brother of former Obama chief of staff and current Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel.

foodie 12:13 AM  

Once again, I agree with Rex, both in terms of rating and in terms of reactions to the puzzle, although I am more impressed with the construction feat and the design of the puzzle.

I did know the expression to FEATHER ONE'S NEST, and think it's nice and visual. I really like the combination of a bird name sitting on top of feathers, in a confined space defined by the circles, as a cool instantiation of the expression! I agree that there does not seem to be any unique relations between the particular bird and the particular type of feather, but that did not bother me. What did bother me is exactly the point raised by Rex: QUILL as a writing implement is still a feather. DOWN meaning sad is certainly not.

Very little crossordese, very few proper nouns, weird spelling of ERIQ. I think a fine, albeit clearly misplaced, puzzle.

QDI calls this a definite Wednesday in terms of difficulty.

Anonymous 12:16 AM  

Medium-Challenging or Clunky? I'm leading towards clunky.

pk 12:26 AM  

@anon 12:16 I'm going with yucky-poo. That's a technical term. I really think that Will is just screwing with all of us. I mean, Monday was Tuesday-ish, Tuesday is Wednesday-ish...do we catch up on Sunday with a Monday? That would be fine with me.

I'm not complaining myself, but for my 81 year old mother, who I print out Monday and Tuesday puzzles for. I'll give her the Monday puzzle, but I will have to help her. Today's I'm not going to even give to her. There's no way she can solve it.

Okay, maybe I need a 71A.

Evan 12:50 AM  

Well, you learn something new every day. In my case, two things:

1) I never knew how to spell DOUBLOON. All those years of watching The Goonies and cheering on Sean Astin, Corey Feldman, Josh Brolin, and others as they find the old DOUBLOON in Mikey's dad's attic and then go on a hunt for One-Eyed Willie's buried treasure.....wish I would have known how to spell that word earlier. At least I remember the classic music from that scene.

2) I misunderstood the clue at 36-Across and thought it was referring not to iRobot, but "I, Robot," the Isaac Asimov short story collection and movie starring Will Smith. I thought it was asking for the name of some obscure brand of science fiction equipment that no one could possibly know unless they memorized even the most trivial bits of information from the stories or the movie. I was wrong, and hence learned the name of a robotic vacuum cleaner. Such a device was probably believed to be the stuff of science fiction back in the 1950s.

GILL I. 1:05 AM  

Well this was certainly different. I "got" the theme at LOON but I also had trouble remembering how to spell it. Had dabloon first which sounds a bit Fantasy Island(ish) DABLOON, DABLOON.
Unlike @Rex though, I did like that PLUME and DOWN got different no bird meanings in their clues. I'm with him and @foodie though on QUILL. It's still a feather.
I liked the way SPADE (6) was clued and ROOMBA, TWERP, UNISEX are great non-Tuesday words.
Thanks for the work-out Mr. McClary.

Tobias Duncan 1:54 AM  

I dont think I could ever really love a puzzle with BOSOX in it. I think that was the first sports answer in a puzzle that really made me blow my stack.
Never having heard of VAIOS SINEX or ARI made the BOSOX corner a real hoot.A whole corner full of stuff I do not care about.

Was really excited to have WARP PRIMUS and SUBSET early on, thought I was in for a nice nerdy one.

chefwen 2:28 AM  

Gil l.P. - Who's your new avatar, awfully cute.

I actually loved this puzzle after I figured it out. For some obscure reason I had a hard time parsing 62A, won't even try to explain, cuz it made no sense to me. After staring at it for a few minutes I had to do the "head slap" thing. That hurts!

Have a ROOMBA, hate, hate, hate it. The damn thing kept getting under the dining room table ramming into chair legs,table legs, etc. making rude noises as it was trying to figure out how to get out of its jam. It is now in my husband's office collecting dust.

MaryRoseG 3:29 AM  

Ods bodkins and copper pots - the call of the tinker as he came to town. See "The Time of Their Lives " - my all time favorite Abbott and Costello movie. Ever since i saw it in 1974 or so, I have been saying it when I stub my toe or something. Thanks, Lou!

Anno Caf-la Moos 3:54 AM  

Crazy puzzle...i think i agree with @foodie, who agrees with @rex...so i officially have no mind of my own!

Loved all the crazy Scrabble words: XANAX, UNISEX, SINEX, ERIQ, ONTHEQT, BOSOX, PIQUE, TSKTSK, VAIOS.

I like that Todd McClary is clearly paying attention to construction construction.

Literally the only think i wouldn't have done is use the word Double when cluing TWOFOLD because i had just filled in DOUBLOON which seems to be the same word.

Some fun double-O buildup...ROOMBA/MOOS/DOUBLOON and a quirky ISEE/HIREE.

Anyway, seemed quite original and close attention was paid.

Octavian of Oslo 5:15 AM  

Excellent puzzle -- very creative.

Honestly I do not understand why people complain about terms they have never heard, or minor issues like whether a quill looks like a feather.

This constructor went through a lot of trouble to create an ingenious puzzle that was a blast to solve. All the nits so far are incredibly small-minded.

"Feather one's nest" is a completely common idiomatic phrase. The way it is used here is vigorous and smart.

Loved the clue, "one in a blue suit." Was thinking undertaker on a Tuesday. Nice misdirection.

Bravo and thanks to the constructor.

Clark 5:33 AM  

Well I liked it. And loons definitely have down feathers.

Sometimes I think Gracie (see avatar) has down feathers too.

Rudy Shankar 6:42 AM  

Agree with Octavian that this was a good puzzle and FEATHERONESNEST as in "gathering wealth" is legit although it could have nefarious connotations,,I.e, gains could have been ill begotten.

Did not see any proper names, oh yes there was STU but fairly clean with lots of X's and Q's.

The Bard 7:08 AM  

Hamlet > Act II, scene II

LORD POLONIUS: My lord, I will use them according to their desert.

HAMLET: God's bodykins, man, much better: use every man
after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?
Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less
they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.
Take them in.

King Henry IV, part I > Act II, scene I

First Carrier: God's body! the turkeys in my pannier are quite
starved. What, ostler! A plague on thee! hast thou
never an eye in thy head? canst not hear? An
'twere not as good deed as drink, to break the pate
on thee, I am a very villain. Come, and be hanged!
hast thou no faith in thee?

Z 7:31 AM  

The bird's nests are made of feathers. Cute.

I'm no ornithologist, but I think all three feather terms are pretty generic, e.g. any bird's feather might be a PLUME.

Except for having TWOFers at first and having to rummage for DOUBLOON for a bit, this seemed a pretty typical Tuesday. I don't really time myself so I can't say for certain, but not the least bit Wednesdayish in my book.

@Tobias - I read your first sentence and briefly thought, "Tobias is a Yankees fan?" By briefly I mean for a picosecond.

joho 7:40 AM  

Toddy McClary was definitely thinking outside the box and creatively within the circles -- which work -- when he came up with this one.

ROOMBA is worth the price of admission.

Well done!

Nancy in PA 7:47 AM  

@Chefwen--I too had trouble parsing 62a....doesn't help that HERON is sitting in there, and FEAT is a word, and THE...and is the RONE a bird? I didn't slap my head, but I did feel pretty dense when it finally came to me.
My son told me of an alarm clock that jumps off your bedside table so you have to chase it around the room to turn it off; I said if it would vacuum the floor while down there I would consider buying it. Buzzoomba, maybe.

John V 8:02 AM  

I liked this one! Sure was more Wednesday-ish. Liked the theme, LOVED the fill: XANAX, UNISEX, SINEX, TEX, QUILL, ERIQ, ONTHEQT. FEATHER ONES NEST is in the language, as I know it, and I think the clue for it at 62A is pretty spot on. Never heard of Ungar or ER's LaSalle, but so what; the crosses were easy, save maybe for ONTHEQT/ERIQ

Wrote in CELLO @59A. My revenge for that is to proffer this landslide of viola jokes. Not so fond of ERUPTIVE,ENOTE, HIREE-- especially ENOTE. ROOMBA is punny, fun.

Kudos, Will, for a giving us a different look for a Tuesday and thanks, Todd McClary, for a nice start to a brilliant day in Charlotte.

Sue McC 8:20 AM  

I liked everything about this one BUT the circles. Finding the 3 birds and feathers would have been a fun add on upon finishing the puzzle.

I never associated the feathering one's nest phrase with exploitation, but I guess it's possible.

Tita 8:22 AM  

@Octavian...Yes, we can be nitpickers, but - highlighting negative nits, as well as nice symmetries, scrabbliness, hidden themes, etc., helps me hugely in understanding the constructor's art and in becoming a better solver.

I equate Rexville with a "Crossword Appreciation" class. If you want nothing but pure puzzle enjoyment, and expressions thereof, hit up wordplay blog.

I think birds will use anybody's feathers for their nests. So no problem with lack of ownership mentioned there.
I liked the birds with a feather theme...makes me think of spring, even though it is feeling like winter again this morning.

jberg 8:24 AM  

Gadzooks! Everybody's talking about circles, but all I got in the printed paper were shaded squares. I'm jealous!

@Rex, I think it's ZUMBA - would have been nice, but still a J short of the pangram.

I think the original phrase was "feathering his own nest," and does imply something like embezzlement - but I've heard the phrase as used here, and the clue does specify "exploitation."

@Gil, nice pun about your ROOMBA's gathering dust!

@Evan, I'm pretty sure the company was named for the Asimov story. I don't think the ROOMBA observes the 3 laws of robotics, though, so be careful around them.

As for Peoria, I was there a couple of weeks ago. Not so much "average" as "more conservative."

AnnieD 8:26 AM  

Felt like a Wed puzz. Theme was a little meh for me. Only nit was, how is Nebraska the cornhuskers? Aren't NebraskaNs cornhuskers? Or shouldn't it have been clued the Cornhusker state?

AnnieD 8:29 AM  

@Nancy...loved Buzzoomba...sounds like a great opportunity!

John V 8:32 AM  

@Nancy .. Buzzoomba is for cleaning the Buzzoms, right?

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

Rex seems a trifle cranky today. The hardest word for me was SUP. Wanted eat. Otherwise hard but fair.

FEATHER ONE'S NEST is such a common expression that I am surprised Rex seems not to know it, though I agree that I do not necessarily associate it with exploitation as much as merely enhancing one's position. But what really amused me was Rex reciting the Peoria expression and dissing the clue. I'm beginning to think Rex doesn't like American idioms.

Also do not care for circles but this one was less obscure than most and a helpful aid in the theme.

Pretty much agree with Octavian but that suit was black, not blue, not to be too picky....


Matthew G. 8:52 AM  

Odd but ultimately fulfilling puzzle. FEATHER ONE'S NEST definitely means exactly what the clue says, so no problems there.

@AnnieD: Nebraska Is used in the clue here as a shortened name for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In discussing college sports, it is an accepted usage to refer to a state's flagship university, if its name is "University of [State Name]," simply by the name of the state. As in, "Nebraska beat Florida last night." And the Cornhuskers are the mascot of the University of Nebraska.

orangeblossomspecial 8:57 AM  

Al Jolson had a #1 recording of "When the red, red ROBIN comes bob, bob, bobbin' along" in the 20s. No mention of plumes, however.

"I wish I was in PEORIA" has been recorded multiple times through the years. That's about average.

quilter1 9:07 AM  

No problem here with any of this. What I didn't know (mostly that NE corner) I could get from crosses/guesses. I also liked the scrabbly words, saw the birds and feathers early, and I think feather one's nest is very familiar.

I've been to many a basketball game in Peoria as Bradley is in the Missouri Valley Conference and it is a nice Midwest city that does embody middle of the road tastes. Good puzzle.

AnnieD 9:12 AM  

@MatthewG. thanks for the explanation...figured it'd have a sports bent, which I don't have.

jackj 9:15 AM  

While the long theme-bearing answers were good, the theme itself was weak and the fill, while interesting at times, proved to be rather iffy in many respects.

NLE, as an acronym for “N.Y. Mets’ div.” was the most egregious. If this were used by a Times sportswriter he would be summarily dismissed or, at a minimum, re-assigned to edit paid obituaries, nothing more, until he reached retirement age.

ROOMBA and VAIOS? TSKTSK!, and “Kick out”, cluing OUST, seemed a little bit too close for comfort, ("oust" and "out" even run up against each other in most dictionaries).

Todd McClary’s Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle of March 16, 2012 was just posted on-line yesterday and it included the clue “High Roller” biopic subject” for STU UNGAR. And then there is “STU”, today’s Todd McClary Times clue, for “Poker legend Ungar”.
Eerie coincidence, lazy cluing or something else? Who knows, but it sure pushed the crankiness button to have to cope with this little known subject twice, by the same constructor, on the same day, (even though it made today’s STU a gimme)..

Yikes, where’s my XANAX?

Loren Muse Smith 9:15 AM  

Any puzzle that has TWERP at 1A is ok by me. What a great idea for a theme and how to execute it. @ Sue McC – I also wondered if anyone would have caught on without the circles. I agree with @Rex – there’s someone insignificant who flies under the radar, and then there’s someone insignificant who grates and is a TWERP.

I looked for the J and the Z only because I’m so pleased to be learning new crossword terms (some I guess are just part of the Rexicon) like pangram, Natick, and malaplop.

@Gill I.P. - I, too, appreciated the non-avian PLUME and DOWN and have come to expect that in theme answers, they’re supposed to be clued to have a separate meaning from the theme. Hand up, too, for not knowing how to spell DOUBLOON.

@Chefwen – when my son was a toddler, he had a friend who displayed behavior similar to your ROOMBA. He was a tow head, and when he did find his way out, he would bite my son whenever he could. We called him “White Fang.”

@Tita – I agree that people pointing out problematic areas is enormously helpful in becoming a better solver, though I’m loath to complain about much. (I admitted yesterday that I’m a coward.) I need to become more forthcoming about things I’m not happy with lest I be voted off this site and sent over to Wordplay. Birds of a feather and all that. . .

Bob Kerfuffle 9:35 AM  

I would add to Rex's list of clues that don't quite seem to match the intended answer, 4 D, "Puzzle with its pluses and minuses?", REBUS. Well, yeah, could be, but seems a real stretch.

The New York Times would have been justified in considering (per Wikipedia) "Michael J. QUILL (1905–1966) was one of the founders of the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), a union founded by subway workers in New York City that expanded to represent employees in other forms of transit, and the President of the TWU for most of the first thirty years of its existence."

JenCT 9:41 AM  


I usually think of SUP in terms of Wassup?

I used to have a ROOMBA, but gave it away - it's such a pain to clean.

There's lots of really cute YouTube videos of cats riding on ROOMBAs, if you're so inclined to look them up (I would've posted a link, but there's too many.)

jesser 9:44 AM  

My only writeover was RIfle before RIATA at 53D, and I liked my answer a whole lot better.

I have a ROOMBA. It drives the cat absolutely nucking futs, so it sits and doesn't do anything. Much like the cat.

I liked the puzzle, and I loved ERUPTIVE, and was surprised Rex hated it. We're usually tracking about these kinds of things.

Ah, to be on an ATOLL today instead of rushing to finish this post in order to prepare for a meeting of the board of county commissioners. Sigh...

Happy Tuesday!

Tobias Duncan 9:49 AM  

Am I the only one that tried ONTHEdl before QT ?

Loren Muse Smith 9:51 AM  

@JenCT - We do have a cat, but I'm much more a dog person and whereas I have watched tons of funny youtube dog clips, I haven't looked at many cat ones. I couldn't resist and randomly chose the one of the cat riding the ROOMBA and taking swats at a pit bull whenever the machine cruised over his way. Thanks so much for the laugh!!

foodie 10:07 AM  

My grand kids live in a NYC apartment, The ROOMBA is the family pet. They chase after it with glee!

chefbea 10:13 AM  

Easy puzzle..I had shaded squares, printed from the Times on line.

Loved measure of a batter!!!!!

xyz 10:15 AM  

Kinda Clunky? Way beyond YUGO clunky.

A) I still don't care for circles - no bang in this buck
B) Beyond Tuesday, yes, but just awkward and incredibly inconsistent

56D -pure Gimme even s unneeded parenthesis help, ditto 50A
1D - almost a Fri/Sat kind of clue
6D - Yet another very badly clued body/anatomy/medical clue aaaarrrrgggh! just total garbage FLAB sags, muscles, oh never mind

Did I mention that I think circles are so annoying?

GILL I. 10:23 AM  

@chefwen that's our "Fashion Plate" grand daughter who thinks goggles are underrated.
@jberg is was @chefwen's ROOMBA gathering dust although I think it should come out of the closet. Attach a PLUME to it and watch the pets go nuts.

Two Ponies 10:24 AM  

I loved the birds on their feather nests. This was a fun solve for me.
It is Tuesday after all and what a nice change of pace.
If the circles or shaded squares had not been there then this would have been a later week puzzle and that would have been OK too.
No paper yesterday but it did come with today's so now I'm going to do the Mon. puz.

archaeoprof 10:49 AM  

QSI (Quick and Sleepy Index) rates this as a little hard for Tuesday.

@Two Ponies: I like the birds on their nests too.

@Ulrich: among my German friends, a favorite tongue-twister is "in ULM, um ULM, und um ULM herum."

jbsnadb 11:03 AM  

I always panic a bit when I see circles. Not too bad, but I agree that this one was more of a Wednesday than a typical Tuesday offering.

Having watched all 87 seasons of ER, ERIQ was a gimme, which made ONTHEQT relatively simple.

Completely missed ROOMBA and NLE (must have been heading in the other direction). I think I'm becoming of the opinion that - if there theme ain't obvious - then it might as well not be there at all. The circles felt like that for me.

Matthew G. 11:18 AM  

@Tobias Duncan: No, you aren't the only one. I also tried ON THE DL before ON THE QT. I've seen ON THE QT once before in a crossword puzzle, so I figure it out, but never heard or seen it outside of puzzles. ON THE DL, on the other hand, is a common expression these days.

JaxInL.A. 11:34 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
DigitalDan 11:36 AM  

Bob Kerfuffle:

All the rebuses I ever worked as a kid or that were featured on the "Concentration" TV quiz use "+" and "-" to link the individual pictograms. I don't consider this iffy at all. Did I misunderstand the concern?

JaxInL.A. 11:42 AM  

I just did Monday's LAT puzzle and realized by the byline (Rich Norris posted his dates) that constructor Gary Steinmehl has passed away at the age if 74. According to XWord Info he had 9 puzzles published, the most recent was a Friday, 11/26/2010. It was the one with the Z movie titles: Prisoner of Zenda, Mark of Zorro and Ice Station Zebra.  Requiescat in pace.

On a lighter note, @JohnV, please don't tease us too long before you post baby pix of the newest V family member.  

And welcome to @afrogran and congrats on @airymom's announcement that her son will be going to Binghamton. Hope he likes classic literature, pulp novels and crosswords so he can take full advantage of the faculty resources.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:15 PM  

@DigitalDan -

D'oh! I was totally hung up on the idea of rebus crosswords, our favorite Thursday and Sunday fare, and never thought of the traditional rebus puzzle.

Thank you for setting me straight!

Two Ponies 12:15 PM  

What a funny coincident. I was on Stumble just now and saw four kittens sleeping on a moving roomba.
Just back from Mondays moving van puzzle. What fun. Good start to our week.

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

So much negativity here. ERUPTIVE is a word, friends. It's in the dictionary. The New York Times used it five times in the last year. Incidentally, that's only one time fewer than it used "ON THE QT" which everybody seems to think is awesome and fresh and in the language. I don't understand the attitude of some solvers here, that the inclusion of any word or information that's not familiar to them is a flaw of the puzzle. I think it's because everyone here solves at such a high level that it's incomprehensible that there's stuff out there in the world beyond their knowledge.

John V 12:30 PM  

Thanks to all for asking to see the future puzzle girl and her paternal grandparents, Mary, Eliza(puzzle girl) and JohnV

Lewis 12:45 PM  

@matthew -- did you have to have Nebraska beating Florida? I'm a Gator!

@jesser -- love "nicking futs"

Yes, took me longer than my usual Tuesday, but I like that!

Lewis 12:46 PM  

@jesser -- I mean "nucking futs"

JenCT 1:15 PM  

@John V: awwwww!

chefbea 1:20 PM  

@johnV sooo cute!!! And nice looking grandparents as well

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

@anonymous 12:29
re: So much negativity here.

This blogspot is a shark tank
Who are what will serve as chum?
Just round up the usual suspects
Look out cuz here they come...

They'll attack for any reason
So beware of what you write
They're entirely predictable
"MUST GET ATTENTION!!" is in their bite.

If you don't get Rex's irony
or a "joke" or picture that they post
Don't attempt an innocent comment
or honey, you'll be toast!

Don't write any limericks
Don't do any rhymin'
Don't say you like Garfunkel
more than you like Simon.

Always stay anonymous
And never, never write X-MAS or soon
They'll rip you to shreds @10:31
And you'll be gone by noon...

Don't try being nice to them
or show any kind of ability
They'll bite your head off with relish
It's an exercise in futility.

Don't say the puzzle was easy
When others had touble doin' it,
Mention NATICKS and HAND UP a lot
Or else you're gonna ruin it.

Don't try anything creative
or get praise from a friendly member
And if someone calls you a poet or a bard
That's the kiss of death- remember!

And just ignore Evil's lame insults
or else you'll end up crying
Just leave him to his double entendres
and endless tales of flying.

Most of all, don't mention Downton Abbey-
That evokes "Get off this website" cries,
Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert!
Everybody dies...

Anonymous 1:50 PM  

Meant trouble not touble...

ksquare 2:27 PM  

@JohnV 8:02 Thanks for the viola jokes. I never thought there was so much interest in violas or violists that anyone would take the trouble to make jokes about them.
These blogs add immensely to the pleasure of Rex's comments on NY Times crosswords.

quilter1 2:52 PM  

@Anonymous 1:28 PM: cute poem. Tongue firmly in cheek.

@JohnV: Nice work.

Tita 2:57 PM  

@Loren...were we to vote today, I am quite sure you would not only NOT be voted off the site, but you would in fact become Mayor!

@Anon @1:28 - brava!

Tita 3:03 PM  

@JohnV - Awwww, indeed!
And whereever does Eliza get her hair done?

Congrats, and nice to see everyone happy and healthy.

Lojman 3:33 PM  

No discussion of the Roomba is complete without reference to one of SNL's all time greats...


Enjoyed it, except for some small nits in the middle. Creative if not perfectly consistent.

Any other great clues for QUILL that would have avoided irking our fearless leader? @BobKerfuffle has already posted one. How about: "Porcupine's weapon"? It's biological, but certainly not a feather.


Loren Muse Smith 3:33 PM  

Anonymous 1:28. You’re so prolific! You said no limericks so I couldn’t resist. Also, ED has shown me a lot of kindness since I’ve joined this site so. . .

Granted this site can be scrappy
And we all can get a bit gabby
But at the end of the day
I really must say
I find my experience here happy.

And of course we must address Doug
Whom some may view as a thug
I have to come clean
I don’t find him mean
Some days he can be a fun spark plug.

John V 3:40 PM  

@Logman re :Quill:

NY appendix (var)? NYQUILL

dk 3:49 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
dk 3:50 PM  

Pirate Booty (insert hearty chortle about here)!

♠♠♠ (3 SPADEs) Nice one and I have no complaints.

See iRobot's ROOMBA v. The Borg at a WARP drive-in near you.

chefbea 3:52 PM  

@Loren You are a great limbrickist

retired_chemist 3:53 PM  

Liked it but it was slow going. No problem with FEATHER ONE'S NEST. One typo. Disliked ERUPTIVE, as did others.

Bree (15 year old golden retriever)has taken XANAX for thunderstorm anxiety. We just got her a ThunderShirt and tried it out in the bad storms we had a week or so ago. Worked like a charm! I recommend it enthusiastically.

Thanks, Mr.McClary.

retired_chemist 4:01 PM  

The MACH number relates velocity to the speed of sound in a medium.

Since sound cannot travel in a vacuum, MACH relating to 2D, which presumably refers to our best vacuum, i.e. outer space, is not meaningful.

sanfranman59 4:07 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 11:11, 8:52, 1.26, 97%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:33, 4:35, 1.21, 94%, Challenging

This one looks to be headed for a Top 10 highest median Tuesday solve time, at least in for the All Solvers group.

joho 4:15 PM  

@retired_chemist ... Riley's ThunderShirt works, too. Don't know what we'd do without it with all the spring and summer thunderstorms ahead of us.

rain forest 4:45 PM  

A wordsmith, er, Muse Smith named Loren
Uses language that sometimes seems foreign.
She embeds words in phrases,
A skill that amazes,
And her blog posts I'm always adorin'.

AnnieD 4:48 PM  

Thanks JohnV...just read the viola jokes!
Dang I wish I knew about them before...many of them would translate well into economist jokes, which I made frequent use of in my past life.

Lovely grandbabe...congrats!

jesser 4:54 PM  

Our fearless Rex is up late nights
Posting cruciverbalist insights
We all read his Word
And discuss as a herd
For we are some funny-ass Rexites!

Anonymous 5:20 PM  

Whereas phasers and photon torpedos and Ferengi energy whips are super common.

oren muse 5:25 PM  

Well, I worked on this one all day and am proud to say that I finished most of it. I agree with pretty much everything Rex said in his comments.
Unlike Loren, I didn’t like TWERP. Don’t know why. I also don’t know how I immediately knew PEORIA. With the K off TSK TSK, I was trying my best to have some kind of husker instead of NEBRASKA. All of you talking about not knowing how to spell SPANISH DOUBLOON. Heck. I had Spanish Gold Loot. Also, with zANAX, I didn’t understand UNISEz.
I can relate to the term ERUPTIVE, since I live in a retirement community and we have monthly pot-luck dinners. My stomach’s not what it used to be and we can just leave it at that.

chefwen 5:46 PM  

@John V - What a handsome family, thank you for sharing it with us.

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

What to people mean exactly when they say they don't "like" words such as TWERP and ERUPTIVE?


Pete 6:05 PM  

@Puzzled - I didn't like ERUPTIVE on several levels. First and foremost, I doubt that it was used for any reason other than it fit around two theme answers and ROOMBA. I can believe that the constructor specifically wanted to get ROOMBA in there, ERUPTIVE, not so much. Then you're stuck with a word most people have never read, heard, nor used in their life. A word that most of us, while easily being able to intuit its meaning, probably had to do a double take on whether it was a legitimate word or not. A word as iffy as this really doesn't belong in a Tuesday puzzle where none of the entries should be so arcane as to be unfamiliar to a majority of the solvers.
The second reason, is that the only way I can imagine using it in real life is as Oren hinted at.

The Grinch 8:09 PM  

This puzzle stink, stank, stunk.

Anonymous 8:14 PM  

Anon @1:28

You mad my day....


PS. Also liked the correction.

mac 9:22 PM  

Good puzzle, liked solving it.

Great blog and posts, and now I'll be limericking all night!

@JohnV: beautiful baby!

My favorite Limerick:

In Connecticut,
In de waterput,
Verdronk mijn tante Eefje.
Nog jaren later
Dronk oom het water
Uitsluitend door een zeefje.

Sfingi 9:34 PM  

Trying to squeeze Friede into IRENE. Thank God for @MAC and @Ulrich; otherwise, always Greek and Latin and their children.

@Bard - And Zounds is His Wounds.

Nice though challenging puzzle.

Sparky 10:21 PM  

Thanks for the photos @JohnV. What a cutie, what a nice family.
All the best and good wishes.

jedlevine 10:58 PM  

Everyone's talking about circles. Are you getting these puzzles on-line? You mean I don't have to spend $2.50 a day to buy the NYT just to do the crossword puzzle?

sanfranman59 1:34 AM  

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

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

Mon 7:39, 6:50, 1.12, 92%, Challenging
Tue 11:15, 8:52, 1.27, 97%, Challenging (6th highest median solve time of 145 Tuesdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:03, 3:40, 1.10, 89%,
Tue 5:19, 4:35, 1.16, 90%, Challenging

chefwen 4:25 AM  

@jedlevine - You can subscribe to the NYT puzzles on line for $39.00 per year, turns out to be approx. 11 cents per day.

Do them on line or print them out, which is what I do, I like pen on paper. Makes it a hell of a lot cheaper than buying the paper.

Spacecraft 10:39 AM  

No proper names (except STU: an absolute wizard at the poker table)?? Let's see: ARI, ULM, BOSOX, SRI, OSLO, ROOMBA, SPANISH, ERIQ, XANAX, IRENE, NEBRASKA, DEUT, PEORIA, NLE, VAIOS, LEON, PROVO, ASTA, SINEX, TEX. Just 20, out of 78: barely more than a quarter. Guess I could push for VIOLA and EDS, but never mind.

Three Q's, three X's--and nary a J or Z in sight. This was a weird one. [The foregoing is just to show that you can't get very far, construction-wise, without a HEFTY (hey, a brand name!) helping of capitalized entries.]

There is one possibility for a non-avian clue for 67a. In that marvelous film The Sting, Kid Twist (Harold Gould) says to Duke, "These guys have got to be the QUILL," meaning the cream of the crop, referring to the recruitment of a gang of grifters to man the fake bookie joint being set up to take the infamous Doyle Lonigan down. I have not before or since heard that expression, but I guess it's part of Conspeak, if you will.

I had a ROOMBA; it never did work right. Wasted a couple of Franklins on that one. Ah, but half-CAF? Make pot after pot of it. Great stuff. Easy-peasy for me.

2nd capcha: inkingit: how I solve.

Lola505 1:13 PM  

So, I'm reading through the [as usual, grumpy] posts, from Rex on, thinking, "What do these people want in a puzzle, anyway?", when I come upon @Anonymous 12:29 and @Anonymous 1:28's fabulous reply. Way to go! Honorable mentions: @loren muse smith and @rain forest.

I love birds and thought this was extremely clever, albeit perhaps not technically accurate way to have birds sitting on their feathered nests, so my compliments, Todd McClary.

Wow, John V., I played violin in an orchestra for many years, and never heard a single one of your viola jokes. Who knew they got no respect?

Unusual for me to even look at a Tuesday puzzle, but I found this one well worth my time.

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

Yes, yes, yes, and a thousand yeses to Anon 12:29 and Anon 1:28 and Lola 505!!! I've been reading this blog off and on for well over a year and consider most of the comments coming from nattering nabobs of negativity. Imagine a constructor using a perfectly legitimate word that someone in this vast universe has not used or heard befor. Well, I never!!

rain forest 3:03 PM  

@Pete I think you have an "eruptive personality", a term I've used/heard.
This puzzle is clearly like new-wave art, as in, "I may not know art but I know what I like." Well, I liked it, primarily because, to me, it seemed somehow out of the norm. Rex increasingly wants puzzles to fit into some sort of template he envisions, one which follows "rules"(?), and has "symmetry". Give me a break. Odd that I didn't find it challenging at all, because usually a puzzle that ends up being challenging, according to SanFranman, I struggle with.

Dirigonzo 3:31 PM  

Bah! to Rex and the Haters (that, as Dave Barry used to say, would be a good name for a rock band) and Yay! to the lovers (I'm a lover, not a hater - most of the time). And my second day in a row with no writeovers(well, except for that unfortunate misspelling of the Spanish coin thingy).

@Bob Kerfuffle wrote: "The New York Times would have been justified in considering (per Wikipedia) "Michael J. QUILL (1905–1966) was one of the founders of the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), a union founded by subway workers in New York City that expanded to represent employees in other forms of transit, and the President of the TWU for most of the first thirty years of its existence."" Since this puzzle appeared on May Day in syndi-land that would have been a most appropriate clue and a shout-out to a renowned labor leader. But Wil probably didn't think of that.

I'm always puzzled when Rex and others write that they "never saw the clue" for a given word. Whenever a word fills itself in from the crosses I go back and read the clue, as clever clues always add to my enjoyment of the puz. But that's just me.

DMG 3:38 PM  

@rain forest I agree that this puzzle seemed easy with the only possible question being the "a" in"ari". I guess it must be interests and, in large part, age that add up to different a ability with any given puzzle. I was, for example, surprised by the number who said they couldn't spell doubloon, but historical novels were rife in my high-school years, and I read more than my fair share of them. Other times have other interests.
I use an IPad, the "horribly outdated"original, and find that the comments section of this post is often not updated until the next day, anyone know why or what I can do to get them faster?

Dirigonzo 5:20 PM  

@DMG I use a several years old desk top PC to visit the blog, so your "horribly outdated" iPad is a few generations more current than me so I'm guessing that your iPad is not the problem. If you go directly to the blog site and hit the "syndicated puzzle" button I don't see how you could not get the latest updates. It's even easier if you have a "google identity" (commenters with an avatar have one) - when you leave a comment you can check a box to receive all subsequent updates via email, which is way cool and how many prime timers read our comments way out here in syndiland. (But keep in mind, I have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, but maybe some one who actually has a clue will chime in to answer your question.)

Ginger 5:59 PM  

@anon 12:29 Well Rhymed - Beautiful

@johnv Thanks for the pictures of a darling brand new girl. also thanks for the viola jokes. Many years ago I played viola in orchestras, and there is more truth than fiction to them. The Viola section has the most boring orchestral music ever.

Mt St Helens (almost in my backyard) has apparently dozed from her ERUPTIVE phase, at least for now.

re capchas....I check them out before I start to type, saves lots of anguish.

Solving in Seattle 7:16 PM  

Like a total TWERP I could not solve 6A/D, so DNF. When I saw the solve my forehead was sore. Good clues and nice CW, though tough for a Tuesday, Mr. McClary.

At least this lively blog (as @Diri pointed out is running on Mayday in Syndiland) is more peaceful than the parade in Seattle. We, who wait at 4-way stops waving everyone else to go first, are getting a bad rep for riots.

@Anonymous, once again, thank you for your clever and timely poems.

Capcha: canich bgineed. Two pieces of bread and some ham.

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