Pioneering scientist Robert / TUE 3-20-12 / Jessica of Illusionist / Queen in speech by Mercutio / Locale of 1923 Munich putsch / Denizen of Endor world in Return of Jedi /

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Constructor: Will Nediger

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: One who engages in finger stuff — theme clues contain phrases "finger painting," "fingerprinting," and "finger pointing," in oder

Word of the Day: Robert HOOKE (1D: Pioneering scientist Robert) —
Robert Hooke FRS (28 July [O.S. 18 July] 1635 – 3 March 1703) was an English natural philosopherarchitectand polymath. [...] Hooke studied at Wadham College during the Protectorate where he became one of a tightly knit group of ardent Royalists centred around John Wilkins. Here he was employed as an assistant to Thomas Willis and toRobert Boyle, for whom he built the vacuum pumps used in Boyle's gas law experiments. He built some of the earliest Gregorian telescopes, observed the rotations of Mars and Jupiter and, based on his observations of fossils, was an early proponent of biological evolution.[2][3] He investigated the phenomenon of refraction, deducing the wave theory of light, and was the first to suggest that matter expands when heated and that air is made of small particles separated by relatively large distances. He performed pioneering work in the field of surveying and map-making and was involved in the work that led to the first modern plan-form map, though his plan for London on a grid system was rejected in favour of rebuilding along the existing routes. He also came near to deducing that gravity follows an inverse square law, and that such a relation governs the motions of the planets, an idea which was subsequently developed by Newton.[4] Much of Hooke's scientific work was conducted in his capacity as curator of experiments of the Royal Society, a post he held from 1662, or as part of the household of Robert Boyle. (wikipedia)
• • •

Felt harder than usual, but I was under 5 on paper, which is not an unreasonable Tuesday time for me (honestly, I don't know what my times on paper are, normally; I only just switched to solving the NYT exclusively on paper). Never saw the theme (which is slight, verging on non-existent), and found the central theme answer really awkward. It's like two phrases merged together—some kind of nauseating hybrid whose only virtue is its 15-letterness. Two theme answers from the world of crime and one from ... kindergarten? The whole thing should've been a non-starter. And yet, it started, and was accepted, and here it is. The grid is just fine. Clues made it toughish. I got absolutely nothing on my first pass through the NW. In fact, this may have been the longest I've ever one on a Tuesday before I made a single mark on the page. I must've looked at half a dozen clues before anything seemed obvious (MAB was my first answer) (7A: Queen in a speech by Mercutio). Then once I got going, I was on the east side of the puzzle, and so was only getting the back ends of the theme answers. Could see ANALYST but not what came before. Could see INFORMER but not what came before. And about INFORMER—I feel like "informant" is more common, and when I google, the predictive autofill search thingie agrees with me (when I type in "police inform..." at that point it's giving me only suggestions involving "informant" and "information"), but overall google returns come back slightly stronger for "POLICE INFORMER"—no idea what's behind this discrepancy, but I stand by my feeling that "informer" is more in-the-language.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: One who engages in finger painting (KINDERGARTENER)
  • 37A: One who engages in fingerprinting (CRIME LAB ANALYST)
  • 53A: One who engages in finger-pointing (POLICE INFORMER)
Had RENAME for REVAMP (27A: Give a makeover), REAL LIFE (didn't fit) for FAMILY LIFE (25D: Standard sitcom subject), and EVANSTON (didn't fit) for EVANSVILLE (10D: Indiana city on the Ohio) (is this place famous?). Never heard of either version of "LOVE ME" (61A: Title of hits by Elvis Presley and Justin Bieber). And SELL TO was remarkably hard for me to see (43A: Target as a customer). But overall I enjoyed the lively grid. Theme is a dud, but it's Tuesday, so what do you expect?

  • 33D: Jessica of "The Illusionist" (BIEL) — after ALBA, I was dry. BIEL ... was she on some '90s show like "Party of Five" ... ? Ack, no, worse, "7th Heaven." I now have to try to reforget that that show ever existed.
  • 58A: Van Gogh painting dominated by green and blue ("IRISES") — [Van Gogh painting] was plenty.
  • 6D: Locale of a 1923 Munich putsch (BEER HALL) — good answer, grim subject matter. About as close as HITLER is ever going to come to being in a NYT puzzle, I imagine.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Matthew G. 12:15 AM  

Rex's ACPT experience makes mine sound a lot better.  I went to the Tournament, but after puzzle 2 I got a work call and had to skip puzzles 3 and 4.  I spent the weekend bouncing back and forth between the Brooklyn Marriott and my office just across the river.  I think I took thirteen subway trips overall during the weekend. Kind of frustrating to miss two-sevenths of the competition, and to have no time to meet more than a couple other solvers ... but at least I wasn't lying sick on a bathroom floor.  Ouch.

Liked today's puzzle.  Unusual theme in that it is entirely in the clues, but it was really meaty for a Tuesday.  Good solve.

Tobias Duncan 12:18 AM  

Hardest Tuesday I have ever seen. The clueing was just not at all on my wavelength.This took me three times as long as an easy Tuesday.I am pretty sciency(I only mean that I am a fan of science history), and I have heard of HOOKE thanks to 70s PBS hero James Burke, but damn, all you give me is Robert?
I kept watching the clock and gritting my teeth through the whole solve.
Would have loved this on a Wednesday.Always happy to see DARWIN in the grid.
I just could not build up any speed on this one.

jae 12:31 AM  

Tough Tues.!   More of a medium Wed. for me. Very smooth grid and, unlike Rex, I thought the theme was pretty clever. I liked it.

Iffy crossings:  HOOKE/ODENSE, VIVE/KEW.

Erasures: Like Rex, ALBA for BIEL and also REND for RIVE.

I wonder if the Arizona version of this one has Jr. for the 48d clue?

Deb 12:42 AM  

When i instantly was able to throw down HUBBUB, i thought I was in for an easy solve, but things were uphill from there. Got slowed down the most by CRIMinal ANALYST, even though I knew SABOT needed to fit in there. EVANSVILLE was a gimme for me as my Dad lives ten miles east in the even less-famous Boonville.

Cracked up at the diagram of the hand, or more specifically at the notion of the index finger being called a "grooming" finger. Oh? As in picking-one's-nose grooming?

I paid my twenty bucks to DL the ACPT puzzles this afternoon. Did a fair job with the first one and completely crashed and burned on the second. I was bummed by that, because a couple of month's ago I did a half-dozen puzzles that WS suggested to test whether you were up to tournament-level competition and completed all of them in at or under the time WS said would be considered "excellent.". Apparently, I've fried a lot of brain cells in the intervening weeks. :(

Welcome back, Rex!

chefwen 12:57 AM  

It took me a while to get started but once I did I pretty much whipped through this one. Had VIVa before VIVE, knew the gardens were not KaW so that was easily fixed. Had gIst before PITH at 30D and BeaL before BIEL, need to start paying more attention to my People Mags. HOOKE had to be obtained through crosses.

My roller coaster cry is "STOP this bloody thing, I have to get off".

Noam D. Elkies 2:28 AM  

I noticed the fingerp[a|o|r]inting triple years ago, and used it in several math talks in the mid-1990s to illustrate why English is not a good error-correcting code. There must be a good puzzle (or more than one) based on that; whether today's is it is a matter of taste.

Andy K. 4:24 AM  

Nice to see the change-a-letter theme moved from the grid to the cluing. And, as always with Will (Nediger), a smooth, super-Scrabbly puzzle. Well under my usual Tuesday time.

Deb 4:54 AM  

In synchronicity news, there's an infomercial airing as I type for "Procera" which is guaranteed to restore my brain function. I await with baited breath the "wait! there's more!" lure. Reel me in, someone!

I miss the old captchas that we could all attempt to define. :(

imsdave 5:22 AM  

Same start as Rex. Nothing in the NW then got going with MAB. I found this more on the challeging side with a decidedly Wednesdayish time.

OK, the condensed version of my ACPT experience (these are in no particular order).


Dinner with all of my friends Friday night, followed by a Banagrams marathon in the bar

Getting to talk to Nanpilla's sister Beth for an hour, as Nanpilla and Lindsay were walking the Brooklyn Bridge

Taking my cigar breaks with Bruce Venzke

Telling PB2 (Pauer) that I finished his #5 puzzle (I didn't know I had it right at the time - that was just a bonus)

ACME seeing us (BobK and Lindsay) in the window of an Irish pub and joining us for half an hour

Finishing 128th overall, 9th in CT, and 21st in the C division (and beating Dr. Fill! - I forgot to pick up my button)

Catching up with the bloggers and constructors (never enough time for that)


Not being able to share the weekend with Mac

Seeing Rex and Sandy on their way to the bus station Sunday morning (and not seeing Rex at all on Saturday)

Not finding the other Rexites there (Evan, wish we could have met up with you)

Only having a few minutes to chat with DougP

Getting lost in Brooklyn trying to come in via GoogleMaps

Brain farting on puzzle #2 - first time in 4 years I didn't finish a puzzle other than #5 (I fell to 267th at that point)

Bottom line - the highs were way higher than the lows (well, except for Mac not being there). Please try and come next year if at all possible - it is my favorite weekend of the year.

Anonymous 6:18 AM  

Tough Tuesday
took me 14 minutes to finish
Should've been a Wed puzzle
Theme was okay
I like the EWOK and TORA Tora Tora movie clues
But what is Justin Bieber doing in a NY Times puzzle ???
I guess the Mayans were right.

Z 6:55 AM  

My only writeover was ANne Seton. I'm not familiar with ANYA. Otherwise a straightforward Tuesday solve, played medium for me.

Anon@6:18 - Rolling Stone has a nice obit on Davy Jones, one of the many predecessors of the Bieb, in the latest issue. It is hardly a sign of the apocalypse.

Sue McC 7:18 AM  

Puzzle was easy enough, but for some reason the theme of "Someone who fingers..." is really weirdly funny.

Nancy in PA 7:41 AM  

@Deb--if you had been at ACPT instead of doing puzzle #2 at home, you would have heard Will announce that it would "give Dr. Fill some problems," or words to that effect, as it was passed around. That helped me enormously as I immediately read the note at the top and was primed for the screwiness of it all. Do not despair. You are more ready than you think.
As for the puzzle, only minor glitch was spelling BIEL Beal (I confuse this actress with Jennifer Beals). Otherwise a smooth solve and good Tuesday.

Evan 7:53 AM  


Thanks. The only regulars in Rexville whom I know for sure that I met were Acme and Tita. I believe I shook hands with DougP and JenCT, but I'm not 100% certain. I didn't exactly do a great job of advertising to others that I was attending -- I made a brief comment on last Friday's post, but didn't mention it otherwise, and didn't let people know what I look like. I'll do a better next time at scoping people out beforehand and perhaps setting up a meeting place (or joining in on others' meeting places).


A lot of us crashed and burned on puzzle #2. It was definitely harder than puzzle #5 for me. I skipped over the directions at the top because the title was a word I didn't recognize, which is basically what I do whenever I'm solving a puzzle -- don't know what a word means, skip it, try to get the crosses. Reading the words underneath the title immediately after starting might have saved me a lot of time and hand-wringing.

efrex 8:10 AM  

A bit bummed out this morning by some personal stuff, so I'll blame that for my "meh" reaction to this puzzle. Felt significantly tougher than the average Tuesday, and the NW was the last to fall (HOOKE/EDD/ODENSE in one corner? Sheesh...). Also had RIFT and IMOUT before RIVE and IMSET, so the SE looked a bit messy too.

I spent some time as a CRIMELABANALYST in my youth, so that was a bit of a nice find. Like Rex, wanted "informant" before "informer." FAMILYLIFE, on the other hand, fell in pretty quickly, so go fig...

John V 8:14 AM  

This was pretty challenging for a Tuesday, esp the NW, as noted. Had DUSTUP for 1A for a long time, which was blocking me. Never heard of BEERHALL. Crossing HOOKE with ODENSE is a bit iffy for this solver. I think I spent about half my entire time in the NW.

Initially had GIST for PITH @ 30D.

My "ACPT Experience": @JohnV and non-puz wife, MaryV, welcomed ElizaV, our first grandchild, at the start of the tournament, Friday, March 16. Born at Long Island College Hospital, a mere 10 minute walk from the Mariott, she is our new Puzzle Girl. All are happy, healthy, delighted! So, my puzzle experience was a thing of wonder -- without the donuts!

jberg 8:19 AM  

Gee, I breezed through this one - maybe because I once passed through ODENSE and read in Fodor's that HCA had (egotistically) bragged that some day the city would be known for his stories.. I didn't see HUBBUB for a while (wanted
dustup'), and lacked the confidence to throw down MAB, but everything else just wrote itself in.

@Rex, I don't want to believe this, but I think LOVE ME at 61A was meant to be short for "Love Me Tender." Maybe not, though.

I did like JUBILANT, 2 French words, and YANK.

The theme was OK, but would have been better with OAR or RAO or ORA as a revealer.

a-pat 8:34 AM  

Or you could, you know, look it up.

Tough puzzle.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

I am a bit surprised to see that most of you thought this was a difficult one for a Tuesday. For me it felt like a typical Monday/Tuesday. I had to skip at first the NW and the filling pattern was a bit scattered. But there were easy answers to fill the blanks and help in the progress.
And the "theme answers" were cute in their own way.

quilter1 8:54 AM  

Hand up for dustup. Figuring out that was wrong unlocked the NW which was the only place I faltered. I solved clockwise (is this word going the way of tying shoes? Obsolete?). I liked the fill like JUBILANT, MAB, IRISES, and EXETER. The theme answers were OK by me.

@Rex: Evansville is familiar to me because it is in the Missouri Valley Conference and my alma mater, Drake, plays them. (I may have mentioned Drake once or twice). Their team is called the Purple Aces, colors are purple and orange and they have the creepiest mascot ever, a riverboat gambler using a huge fake human head. Their team wasn't that good this year.

ArtO 8:58 AM  

Very tough Tues for all the reasons and in the same spot (NW) as noted by Rex and others. When KINDERGARTENER fell in quickly, thought the other theme answers might be one long word answers. Had a sense there is a long word for fingerprint expert/ing. Was expecting at least Medium-Challenging rating.

JenCT 9:04 AM  

Tough Tuesday for me also; just not on the same wavelength.

@Evan: yes, I believe we met at the ACPT; it's hard to remember so many names!

@Rex: LOL "I now have to try to reforget that that show ever existed."

Bestirred Observer 9:05 AM  

As someone who hasn't been doing crosswords for nearly as long as most other commenters here, this was excruciatingly difficult fill for me at times. Between MAB, KEW, ANYA, ORSER, and SABOT, together with awkward answers like TIE IN, and BESTIR, the puzzle felt like the super-lame theme was causing a lot of forced and unnecessarily esoteric answers everywhere else.

orangeblossomspecial 9:08 AM  

Thumbelina, one of the greats from Danny Kaye's take on Hans Christian Andersen.

jackj 9:17 AM  

There is an oft repeated axiom of puzzling that if you can’t find the theme in the grid, you’ll find it in the clues, like Will Nediger has done today.

Facing HUBBUB at the outset, a word that may never have entered many solvers ambits, might seem a bit daunting for a Tuesday puzzle and that view is quickly compounded when MAB, MAJA and ODENSE come into play.

Loved seeing IRISES today. The first time I had a chance to view this fantastic Van Gogh painting at the Getty Villa in Malibu, I was hypnotized by its extraordinary beauty, to the point that I stood, transfixed by its loveliness for a long time, until, finally, a guard approached and convinced me to move on by simply saying, “Sir, you’re making me nervous.” Sublime seems too mild an adjective to describe this masterpiece!

Thanks for a nice puzzle and a nicer memory, Will.

Ulrich 9:21 AM  

@NDE: I'm curious: What do you mean by "English is not a good error-correcting code"?

diane 9:24 AM  

@jberg: "Love me" is a real Elvis song:

"Although not released as a single, Love Me had a 19-week stay on Billboard’s Top 100 chart, reaching #6, based on its appearance in the EP Elvis, Volume 1."

I learned it in a chorus so I knew this right away.

joho 9:25 AM  

@imsdave, nice recap!

HUBBUB, MAB, ABBA, LAB... the beginning of the 8 BBBBBBBB. 2 "J's," 2 "Y's," 3 "K's," 4 "U's," and 4 "V's." Just a "Q" and a "Z" short of a pangram. Scrabbly, indeed!

Harder than usual for me for a Tuesday but in a good way.

Thank you, Will Nediger!

Pete 9:30 AM  

Unable to put together two consecutive coherent thoughts, and apparently, two coherent sentences last night, this puzzle felt especially clunky for a Tuesday. The light of dawn seems to show the problem was only partially mine.

On a lighter note if any one is wondering, yes, Pileated Woodpeckers do feed on the ground, plucking bugs from under rocks. At least the one in my backyard is doing so this very minute.

@Ulrich - Thanks for voicing the question I had for NDE.

Loren Muse Smith 9:32 AM  

The phone rang just as I was flipping my greatly-anticipated, perfectly-executed, soon-to-be ravenously -inhaled eggs over easy with bacon. It was Dad with a quick question about today’s puzzle. I put him off and called him back in a few minutes. He answered not with “Hello”, but with “It’s PITH.” Pretty fortunate because I had already plopped down “crux” as one of my faux holds. The other was “lens” for LEAD, which made me feel silly, and “whoa” for WHEE. @chefwen – I’m with you on your roller coaster sentiment!

This is becoming brutal! It’s taken a couple of years to convince Dad that Mondays and Tuesdays will be completely accessible to him and that Sundays are just like big Thursday teddy bears. With today’s and Sunday’s fare, it’s not looking so good. Definitely a tough Tuesday.

Yep – the NW was Natick city. Jeez Louise.

I have to beat Evil to this: wouldn’t it have been fun to have as a fourth clue be “Finger puller”?? Imaging the possibilities. . .

PuzzleNut 9:33 AM  

Just getting back from a great spring break from Northern NM where the weather was great and the skiing was even better. Trying to catch up on missed puzzles and wanted to put my two cents in for the last Sunday puzzle. What a joy! Kept me pleasantly occupied for at least an hour and what fun. Oh to have a puzzle like that every Sunday. Would probably cause an uproar among many NYT subscribers, but I'd be in seventh heaven.
Reading about the ACPT makes me yearn to get their one year. Sounds like so much fun and such a great group of puzzle junkies.

chefbea 9:41 AM  

Agree with most of you. Hardest Tuesday puzzle, especially the NW. Had to google 17across but know Mac knew it!!

Tobias Duncan 9:43 AM  

@ PuzzleNut I know you didnt just say you were in Norther NM without shooting me an email. Damn auto-correct, you must have meant Northern Minnesota!

quilter1 9:48 AM  

@JohnV: congratulations on the new granddaughter. You will find no other life experience with which to compare. Plus, as your wife has already noticed, it becomes impossible to buzz past the children's department without looking.

jesser 9:54 AM  

I was Naticked at _AJA/_AB. I guessed an r. I was wrong. Boo.

Today's paper reports that Ashton Kutcher has booked a sub-orbital flight on Virgin Galactic, which will begin operations in 2013 or 2014 from Spaceport America north of Las Cruces. To hell with Elvis and Bieber. I might sell both kidneys and mortgage the house to get the adjacent seat. I would be JUBILANT.

The ACPT sounds so cool. Maybe I'll just sell one kidney and go to that instead. :-) But I will not eat mussels.

Southern NM is warming today, with a projected high of 53, and up to 63 by mañana. Loves it. By the weekend, it'll be gorgeous and I'll spend more time outdoors rather than ON LINE!

Happy Tuesday, amigos!

imsdave 9:55 AM  

I forgot one other highlight:

JenCT drinking me under the table. Not quite sure which column that goes under.

archaeoprof 9:57 AM  

Yep, a hard one for sure. MAB/MAJA crossing was a total Natick for me.

Sounds like the ACPT was fun for everyone except Dr Fill.

Busy with departmental management today. Mentoring is so much fun when it goes well, and not so much when it doesn't...

AnnieD 10:01 AM  

This was a tough one for me. Felt more like a hard Wednesday. i was doing fine until I tried to crack the NW corner.

I had DUSTUP first and then based on the U's the only other ----UP I could come up with would require the pioneering scientist to be Robert Fludd, which I was sure wasn't right.

I had Gartener and was trying to remember some artist well known for finger painting with that last name.

The only Hall's I knew on TV were Arsenio, Monty and Deirdre.

So I walked away, took care of the cat, refilled the coffee mug and finally saw Hubbub and then it fell into place.

Still if 2/3rds of AOL are on line, are one third using carrier pigeon??? snark.

That's enough. I'm off to meditate now.

John V 10:02 AM  

@quilter: The Carter's outlet in Norwalk is the new Mecca for Mrs. JohnV :)

Rex Parker 10:04 AM  

I'm mildly surprised at MAB / MAJA problems, as both answers are in the crossword with reasonable frequency. More sympathetic to HOOKE / ODENSE problems, though even there, only one letter seems like a reasonable answer.


John 10:07 AM  

Glad it wasn't just me. I went to bed early thinking it would be fun to just relax with a nice easy Tuesday and got...this...ugh!

Tita 10:11 AM  

Haven't done the puzzle yet, but wanted to post more about ACPT...

I've got a few pics, some mine, some JenCT's, up on my blog...

I have "sorta" figured out how to create new pages, but let me go on record saying I HATE BLOGGER!

If you go to the ACPT 2012 page (link in the top right sidebar), you will have to scroll past the first entry to get to it. (Can't figure out how to get rid of that post on every page!!)
At the bottom are the pics.

I also moved the Hall of Fame to its own page, and posted the ones Will read out at ACPT, and included a picture of Dr. Fill's gaffe. (Sry, you must also scroll down to see it...)

ACPT at Crucimetrics blog

I may be adding more pics or observations there, but go ahead and check it out.

@Bob Kerfuffle - we are waiting for pics of those wild Hawaiian shirts!!!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:13 AM  

@NDE - Thanks for pointing out the "fingerp(x)inting" progression in the clues. Even looking at Rex's listing of the theme clues and answers, I missed that, probably due to the variation in structure (two words, one word, hyphenated word.)

@evan - Sorry you missed some of the Rexville group. For future reference, please check Rex's archives for 3/22/11, where you will find many good pictures. (I will point out again that the names in a certain picture are given right to left instead of the usual left to right - the good-looking guy on the left is imsdave.)

Lindsay 10:22 AM  

I like the theme better now that it's been explained to me. It didn't jump out for sure.

Several self-imposed problems: louiSVILLE for EVANSVILLE (my brain must have read "City on the Ohio." I know what state Louisville is in). Also went for gIst, plus I can't spell which gave me 38D ENTAle.

Thanks @imsdave for the recap. I will add that we were sitting in the window of an Irish pub ON ST. PATRICK'S DAY .... lively.

As for tournament results, they had me at 216th after six puzzles, then gave me zero points for #7, even though the scan is posted and error-free, which dropped me to #381. Hope this isn't payback for filling the first two grids with pink ink. I may have to email.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:29 AM  

@Tita - I would post pictures - if I knew how. :>(

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

HOOKE's Law (the extension of a spring is in direct proportion to the force applied to it) has got to be the most trivial discovery in the history of science to merit having it named after you.

I believe Mr. Hooke was simply sitting in a pub with a spring on the table, and he started balancing his empty shot glasses on top, noticing that the spring compressed the same amount each time. It wasn't so much a scientific discovery as a miracle he remembered it the next morning.

Cheerio 10:32 AM  

I loved this puzzle. The theme was forgettable, but the fill was fab. I had MAJI for MAJA. A painting of the MAJI is different from a painting of the MAJA.

Two Ponies 10:42 AM  

Yes, hard for a Tuesday but in a good way. Malapop of sorts when nail file appeared because I was thinking that fingerpainting might be a tricky clue about a manicurist.
Is soap still made with lye?
@ loren, I can imagine your dad might be frustrated by early-week grids like this but I suggest he commit to memory answers like Mab and sabot. He'll see them again.
Now off to Google what putsch means.

Sparky 10:45 AM  

Can't spell EWOc. Or ANnA but caught that on cross. NW was tough. JerK before YANK. Thanks @NDE, I didn't see that. Was put off by theme answers; 2 crime and then toddler? Shout out for Teresa (close enough).

Congrats @JohnV, Grandpa. All the best to ElizaV and the whole family.

The ACPT was swell. Made comment late yesterday. Going to try to find the photos @Tita.

xyz 11:05 AM  

CRIME LAB ANALYST sums up this puzzle.

Forced, uneven,, made up and no fun. Inelegant. I came here to see if I was in the minority ....


Two Ponies 11:15 AM  

Well, a putsch is a planned revolt. Nice to learn a new word.
If only 2/3 of AOL is on-line what is the rest? Part of my problem in the NW was because I thought I was clever at guessing Vowels for the AOL clue.

Masked and Anonymo4Us 11:30 AM  

Fingers and thUmbsUp for the symmetric JUSTAFEW/JUBILANT pairing of J's and U's. Nice to see the NYTPuz finally go digital today.

Better clue dept...
MAB = Implosion sound
KEW + WHEE = Cry from @loren, if you 47-A Evil's finger [Har - good bad call, @loren]
TORA - Female rocky peak
HOOKE - Common vowel variant that speed puz solvers use
ODENSE - Slow to understand STPAT as a puz entry
SEE ME / LOVE ME - Quickie invite?

GILL I. 11:36 AM  

WHEE, got the brain working this Tue. and I learned what a putsch is - now, if only I could pronounce it.
I enjoyed this puzzle. It was harder than usual but what I liked is that each "finger" was a different clue. I didn't see it at first because the typical boring Tue. seems to always have the same clue word. Not at all forced or uneven to this solver.
Speaking of BEERHALL, @imsdave, thanks for sharing. I would love to go next year if only to join all in an Irish pub in Brooklyn. Sounds like a fun time. @Tita: good job of sharing pictures with all of us. Now, if only I knew who the people are....

Lewis 11:37 AM  

Well, I'll learn MAJA and MAB now! Natick for me. NW was hard and I did Google 17A (my only Google). Other wise the puzzle was a good crunchy Tuesday for me.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

Not entirely JUBILANT when theme's
in the clues and not the grid
Still, had no major FLAPS or HUBBUB
with what constructor did...

JUSTAFEW AHA moments--
Bieber and Elvis both LOVEME singers!?
when giving us the fingers??

oren muse 12:07 PM  

I feel like I get to join the party again on Mondays and Tuesdays (yesterday I was out of commission), only to sit down to this tough one today. I was grumbling about Nediger spoiling my fun, but Loren told me that it’s actually Will Shortz who decides when to run a puzzle. Will! Have a heart on us fledgling, aging solvers!
I was going along fairly well until I got all messed up in the NW. Learning the language here is an ongoing lesson. Loren tried to explain “Natick” to me over the phone and I still didn’t really understand, but when she sent me the puzzle from 2008 and Rex’s announcement that he was coining the term for unfair crosses, I finally get it. She said everyone would gripe about 1A and 1D today. It certainly was a Natick for me!
Please don’t take away easier Mondays and Tuesdays from us neophytes! Although maybe I should thank Will because aside from the NW I did manage to finish.

JenCT 12:28 PM  

@imsdave: I resemble that remark...

lawprof 12:46 PM  

I, too, was stuck at first in NW, but MAB came easily (any three-letter fill with "queen" in the clue will be MAB) and MAJA (nekkid or otherwise) followed quickly. Then, once BEERHALL was in place, everything came together, including the NW. Just one write-over for me: clue for LEAD at 34A. Kudos for clever cluing of the theme.

Masked and Anonymous 12:47 PM  

P.S. Only a 72-worder! Dang. No small wonder that puppy put up a fight.

That reminds me from yesterday, @31 -- Nice dogs.

Ed 1:03 PM  

Those who fill in for you are fine but
nobody does it better than you, Rex.
Thank you!

Z 1:26 PM  

Surprised by the number of people who struggled with MAJA. Goya's The Clothed Maja and The Nude Maja are pretty famous, with most observers opining that The Clothed Maja is actually the more sensuous.

@Sue McC - your comment suggests that Saturday's puzzle is affecting your thinking.

@Joho - does the near pangram constitute a call out to me?

Bird 2:03 PM  

The only tough part of the theme, for me, was not noticing the clues were different. I read the clue for 37A the same as for 20A. When CRIME fell in to start 37A I had to re-read the clues again. And a lot of the fill was hard as there were a lot of proper nouns. The MAB/MAJA crossing (my memory disagrees with Rex on their frequency) really flummoxed me, but I guessed correctly as RAB did not sound right
The East section was the last to fall after remembering who sailed on the Beagle. A few write-overs made this pen-on-paper (POP?) puzzle look ugly – CLUE/LEAD, STIRS/FLAPS, RENAME/REVAMP, BEST/LASH and REND/RIVE.

I did not like seeing Justin in the same sentence (clue) as Elvis. They’re not even in the same stratosphere.

Double captcha “sontryou ltityea” morphs into “Oust Royal Entity”

Laurence Hunt 2:07 PM  

I basically did the full puzzle, minus the northwest, and was amazed at the elegance of the three primary clues. And why did kindergartener not match the other two? Come on Rex, just too clever to pass up. Froebel would be flattered, though I couldn't make the connection in a timely manner. I also got stuck on aghast vs. gape at, which enhanced my NW corner difficulty. In summary, I was very impressed, though this was probably one of my worst Tuesdays ever! What I CANNOT solve are those twisty words below, my brain does not process letters run together... rofteri could be roAeri - those things drive me crazy!

Unknown 2:14 PM  

very nice and interesting puzzle i like puzzle very much, because it has very deep logic, so nice very cool

Tom Q 2:20 PM  

Since Rex asked...Evansville is the hometown of Don Mattingly -- though it seems to me I'd known of it even before I heard that.

And Evanston is of course in Illilnois, as all we Northwestern grads know.

The Borg 2:25 PM  

Humans beware; Johan Smith has been assimilated. The link is to a poker web site.

Tita 2:29 PM  

Hey Rexvillians...
If you click on the slideshow, the pics will display larger, with captions!

Or, and I just discovered this, click on the little square ballon icon in the lower left corner, and that turns on captions. (But they are MUCH easier to read if you blow it up!)

Once again,

Bob - do what Jen did - email them to me. Just think of me as your own personal photo-loader...
Or, ask the nearest 12-year-old.

Two Ponies 3:15 PM  

@ The Borg, Thanks for being brave enough to click on Johan Smith's post. The syntax was very suspicious but I was afraid of a virus. That is twice since the "new and improved" captcha system that we have been invaded. If it gets any harder I don't know if I can cope.

sanfranman59 3:36 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 10:28, 8:51, 1.18, 90%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:16, 4:35, 1.15, 90%, Challenging

Definitely a tough-ish Tuesday. These solve times fall in the Easy-Medium Wednesday range.

Mighty Nisden 3:46 PM  

Ah Challenging indeed.

So challenging I couldn't finish. I hate not finishing a Monday or Tuesday. Bummer.

Had ODEsSa for ODENSE, which really kept me out of the NW.
Had FActofLIFE for a while and a devil of a timer remembering ACTS.

This dang learning curve for NYT CW is heck... but fun.

The Borg 4:51 PM  

@ Two Ponies - I would say, "My pleasure", but that would be illogical. And if I get a virus I'll put in a helpdesk and let IT handle it.

archaeoprof 4:56 PM  

I think @Johan Smith kinda talks like Borat.

mac 5:55 PM  

@imsdave: sweet. I missed you too, and all of you... Flying back tomorrow after a lovely funeral today (if you can ever call it that). Gratifying to be here to help, anyway.

ANON B 6:00 PM  

Did I miss it in the Comments
but didn't anyone notice that
Jeremy Lin came in 203rd?
It turns out that he's not the Knicks Jeremy Lin but also a
Harvard graduate, class of 2008.
The Knicks' Jeremy Lin graduated in 2010.
Someone said they were often confused.

Johnie 8:27 PM  

This is great! I love getting crossword hints not just a list of the answers. Thanks!

WillburgWill 8:45 PM  

I am surprised, if not astonished, that no-one here has questioned KINDERGARTENER, which to me is, at worst a misspelling, and at best an alternative spelling (without an indicative "(alt.)" in the clue). As far as I can determine, KINDERGARTNER is not just the preferred spelling, but, even in on-line dictionaries drawn from various sources, is still given as the correct spelling, in English as in German. Am I completely alone here?

ARLENE 9:27 PM  

It's always perplexing to me that when I find puzzles difficult, others find them easy. And then a day like today comes up - and I thought this puzzle was not hard at all, and I solved it non-stop. But from the feedback here, many found it hard. Made my day, actually! :-)

Not the Bard 9:52 PM  

Waiting for the real "BArd" to post this, so late to the game.

Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Scene 4


I dream'd a dream to-night.


And so did I.


Well, what was yours?


That dreamers often lie.


In bed asleep, while they do dream things true.


O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep;
Her wagon-spokes made of long spiders' legs,
The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
The traces of the smallest spider's web,
The collars of the moonshine's watery beams,
Her whip of cricket's bone, the lash of film,
Her wagoner a small grey-coated gnat,
Not so big as a round little worm
Prick'd from the lazy finger of a maid;
Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o' mind the fairies' coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love;
O'er courtiers' knees, that dream on court'sies straight,
O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees,
O'er ladies ' lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are:
Sometime she gallops o'er a courtier's nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig's tail
Tickling a parson's nose as a' lies asleep,
Then dreams, he of another benefice:
Sometime she driveth o'er a soldier's neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five-fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
And being thus frighted swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
That plats the manes of horses in the night,
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes:
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage:
This is she--


Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace!
Thou talk'st of nothing.


True, I talk of dreams,
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy,
Which is as thin of substance as the air
And more inconstant than the wind, who wooes
Even now the frozen bosom of the north,
And, being anger'd, puffs away from thence,
Turning his face to the dew-dropping south.


This wind, you talk of, blows us from ourselves;
Supper is done, and we shall come too late.

Acura onCall-a Majas 1:15 AM  

I loved the theme!
Well, maybe not LOVED, but certainly liked a whole lot...
FingerpAint, FingerpOint, FingerpRint~
I mean, how cool that they change a letter but not necessarily just a vowel and are all such specific things!!!

I had spent a lot of time thinking about FINGER+ for the puzzle I made for BEQ two weeks ago, so I was delighted by this!!! Much better than same word all three times and random phrases...
tho I too am with @Rex on INFORMant

(Just walking in post-ACPT, way too many memories to blog about... more than JUSTAFEW
But am also sorry to have missed Mac, and am sorry for her loss.)

Did get a fleeting glance of @Rex pre-sickness, met Evan, Tita and saw Sparky! Puzzlegirl and sista, Vega, ALL my constructor buddies, all-women constructrix breakfast, JenCT on the Brooklyn Bridge with her adorable son and hubby (having missed walking with TwoPonies first day) imsDave, Bob Kerfuffle (whom I've only just learned is not his actual real last name!)
Lindsay, and tons of folks who apparently read but don't post!
Spent a lot of time with fellow Minnesotan Tom Pepper who had that great little GO+ Commando Monday puzzle a few weeks back...saw the whole young Brown gang, abandoned Crosscan on a two-person team solve, inadvertently...and on and on. Will let me just hang out and so hang out I did.

Anyway, I like the artsiness and Scrabblyness of this puzzle and that he even thought of it at all!

sanfranman59 1:41 AM  

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

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

Mon 6:15, 6:49, 0.92, 17%, Easy
Tue 10:29, 8:51, 1.18, 90%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:30, 3:40, 0.96, 31%, Easy-Medium
Tue 5:12, 4:35, 1.14, 88%, Challenging

Acme 2:58 AM  

Ps my bad that the congaline didn't happen...
And i meant nanpilla, not two ponies re bridge walk ( gosh i wish folks would use their real names!)
And i can confirm @evan i introduced you to JenCT, Vega and a few others at lunch Sat...
Funny that there was another Jeremy Lin!!!
We will have to add that to the doppelnommers Sam Donaldson, Marilyn Munroe, David Steinberg, et al...
Oh, and my fave, Parker Lewis!

No one has talked yet about Joon, Anne, Dan making mistakes, turning themselves in, etc. there was a lot of drama and highroads taken this year!
nancy Stack wasn't there to record it all, but i do hope someone uploads a lot of the talent show...Pete Muller did a brilliant song on every round of the tourney called "I beat Dr Fill" to the tune of The Band 's hit. And there was a comedian who was actually funny...

All the palindromists were was 80% of the top crossword finishers...time to devise another way to tests smarts and cleverness besides just speed!

It all went by super get there Friday and the next thing you know, you are all saying gbye on Sunday! The whole thing is less than 48 hours.
It's only NOW just dawning on me that Ulrich wasn't there!

Larry I in L.A. 8:14 AM  

@Deb (way up near the top): My thoughts exactly regarding "grooming" finger!

EVANSVILLE is (sadly) seared into my brain because its college basketball team was wiped out in a plane crash when I was a senior in high school (1977).

Surprised that so many were unfamiliar with LOVEME. When I feel like channeling Elvis for a few bars, my go-to lyrics are "Treat me like a fool, treat me mean and cruel"...

jberg 8:15 AM  

@diane, thanks for the link! Once I heard the song I realized that I knew it, just not what it was called.

Solving in Seattle 1:29 PM  

I enjoyed this Tuesday, and don't really have an issue with the spelling of KINDERGARTENER.

I do, however, have an issue with the clue for 22A, "TV announcer Hall. There is a Monty Hall, and there is, apparently, an EDD Hall. But neither Google nor I can find EDD Monty or Monty EDD. I mistakenly thought that it had to be Month Hall and that we were dealing with a rebus here. Can someone help me? What would have helped me was being sure of Hooke.

Knowing SABOT from sailing helped. Had Jessica Alba for 33D until sussing BIEL from the crosses, and had the Duchess of albA for 7D until realizing MAB was 7A. Sorry, Jess Alba, I tried in two places to fit you in. (Although I think Jessica Biel is hotter.)

Was the MAJA/kindergARTener round-the-corner cross a coincidence?

@Two Ponies, the other third is "America."

Thanks, Will, clever clues.

Capcha: epeasen. Something a hillbilly PM did in 1939.

Solving in Seattle 1:53 PM  

Typo - "it had to be Monty Hall," not "Month."

Spacecraft 2:09 PM  

So shoot me, Jessica; I thought your name was BeaL. This led me to CheMicAlANALYST.

With @Rex, I had to bang down the door to the NW. Had _______ARTENER and wondered if this guy misspelled "partner" or something. I stared at that fragment for the longest time, till the (preschool) bell rang in my head! Then the NW fell--though I know neither HOOKE nor EDD Hall. Got those guys on crosses.

Liked the mini-themes: twin 7-letter J-words in symmetry, a science double (HOOKE, DARWIN) and--not to be outdone--an art double (MAJA, IRISES). Nice work.

DMGrandma 2:37 PM  

A fun puzzle. Love "Maja", it always makes me think of Ava Gardner -though, as I recall, her Maja was naked. Kept expecting something about manicure or manicurist to show up, but my only real slow down was getting "gartener" and thinking that can't be right. Like my spell check, I figured it had to be gardner and I'd done something wrong. Then Odense brought Hooke, and all was well.
I think the newbies need to cut themselves some slack. Some things you just learn from doing. Although I don't think I've ever heard Abba, enough repititions, it becomes an almost automatic fill for a four letter singing group. So it goes with Anya, Elo, Eno, etc, etc. Just keep at it. While this puzzle wasn't that hard for me, consider that I've been slogging at them for more than 50 years and still suffer my fair share of DNF days.

Ginger 3:33 PM  

On my first pass, with 2 U's in 1 Across, I wanted to enter rUckUs. I thought that was such a clever word, Ha, NOT. Also first put in CRIMinalANALYST. but all was right with the world, the crosses corrected me, and I finished.

MAJA, MAB, ODENSE, SABOT' seem to pop up on a regular basis, so no problem there.

Loved the pictures @Tita posted from the tournament. So good to put faces on names. Here in Syndiland, we stepchildren of the blog are glad to read about your experiences in Brooklyn.

@SIS Edd Hall was Jay Leno's announcer for 12 years.

Solving in Seattle 3:44 PM  

@Ginger, thanks for clearing up EDD Hall. Never heard of him - am a dedicated Letterman fan.

Dirigonzo 4:08 PM  

For some reason KINDERGARdNER was a gimme (and BESTIR straightened out the mistake) so that got me off and running on the theme answers, all of which I liked. I had some trouble understanding TIEIN as a promotional device and the unknown Jessica at 33d was no help whatsoever, but finally decided that was the only thing it could be (TItIN seemed unlikely although "T and A" seems big in advertising these days).

Finished with two guesses, one right at the cross of HOOKE/ODENSE, and one wrong at rAB/rAJA. This was apparently a gimme for several others (Hi, @DMG) but @Z's comment stung the most: "Surprised by the number of people who struggled with MAJA. Goya's The Clothed Maja and The Nude Maja are pretty famous, with most observers opining that The Clothed Maja is actually the more sensuous." I'm ususally pretty well versed when it comes to nudes.

@Bob Kerfuffle - I suspect you will have difficulty uploading your photos based on yesterday's comment that you were waiting for them to come back from the drug store. Do they even still do that anymore? (I don't mean that to sound too snotty as I don't have a digital camera, either.)

Unknown 4:28 PM

DMG 5:25 PM  

@Diri, sounds like you're having my Desade problem. It's two words "tie in". Only for a fellow Syndie would I face more captchas"

Solving in Seattle 6:09 PM  

@DMG, I think I prefer @Diri's solution.

rain forest 6:12 PM  

This puzzle was chewy, but very satisfying, and I don't care what day of the week it is. The theme of changing a letter to produce three clues was extremely clever, and I liked all the answers, including "-informer" which IS more in the language than informant. 1D could only have been either Hooke or Boyle, both brilliant men. So much of the puzzle was inventive, either in clue or in answer. Nice work.

I have to say that I don't understand why a name like Hitler can't be in the NYT puzzle. There have been evil names used before:
Ghengis Khan, Stalin, George Bush...

Dirigonzo 6:19 PM  

@DMG - Trust me, I don't have a "Desade" problem (it may be the only problem I don't have). (And thank you for braving more captchas to reply.)

@SiS - It's good to see a like-minded spirit in syndi-land. No captchas worthy of puns today?

Solving in Seattle 6:29 PM  

@Diri, see @SIS 1:29. This is my 5th today, so I'm banished.

Capcha (no kidding): thenme durown. Going down for the 5th time... glub, glub.

Ginger 7:30 PM  

Reminds me of the Titanic puzzle from Syndi-Sunday

Dirigonzo 7:47 PM  

@ginger - that's pretty funny. A little macabre perhaps, but still pretty funny.

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