Bygone Chryslers / WED 5-2-12 / Atlas go-with / Bygone US Postal Service mascot / Novy Russian literary magazine / Watson's creator / Upright swimmers / Q-U string

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: CROSS (38A: Out of sorts ... or what completes the answers to the nine starred clues) — starred clues have answers that make no sense unless you imagine the word CROSS in front of them

Word of the Day: GAZETTEER (17A: Atlas go-with) —
gazetteer is a geographical dictionary or directory, an important reference for information about places and place names (see: toponymy), used in conjunction with a map or a full atlas.[1] It typically contains information concerning the geographical makeup of a countryregion, or continent as well as the social statistics and physical features, such as mountainswaterways, or roads. Examples of information provided by gazetteers include the location of places, dimensions of physical features, populationGDPliteracy rate, etc. This information is generally divided into overhead topics with entries listed in alphabetical order. (wikipedia)
• • •
A variation on the "words that can follow"-type theme, only here there are no real Theme Answers per se, just ... words. Nine short words. There is longer fill, utterly unrelated to the theme, and it's ... fine. Occasionally entertaining (I like BUYS TIME, GAZETTEER, AUSTERITY, and BEAR CLAW). Solving experience was a nice diversion, but the whole missing-word theme adds difficulty without also adding interest.  Also, CROSS is perhaps too easy a word to combine other words with. Hatch, section, country, beam ... I could go on.

Theme answers:
  • 14A: *Features accompanying the comics, often (WORDS) — "features" is not a word I'd use. Really threw me. [They accompany the comics, often] would've worked Just fine. This habit of gumming up clues with off-phrasing can be seen again in the ARMOR clue (1A: Pieces of mail). ARMOR and "mail" are synonymous. The "pieces of" part of the clue is a borderline nonsensical attempt at misdirection.
  • 16A: *Like some tennis volleys (COURT)
  • 62A: *Labradoodle, e.g. (BREED)
  • 64A: *Symbol on some flags (BONES)
  • 2D: *Intersection (ROADS)
  • 12D: *Appear as Tootsie, e.g. (DRESS) — this is oddly specific. In fact, it appears to be a clue that relates only to Dustin Hoffman. 
  • 34D: *Weapon for William Tell (BOW)
  • 48D: *Scope lines (HAIRS)
  • 52D: *Bygone Chryslers (FIRES)
I (somehow) got most of these theme answers without knowing the theme, i.e. before I got CROSS. A labradoodle's a BREED ... I figured FIRES were just some car I'd never heard of. William Tell certainly used a BOW. There are BONES on flags. If comics are pictures, then yes, those pictures are accompanied by WORDS. I muddled through OK. Not a big fan of intersecting foreign words (MISSA / SEI) or the word IDEATE, and there are two MR.s in the grid (MR. ZIP and MR. PINK) (3D: Bygone U.S. Postal Service mascot + 46D: Steve Buscemi's role in "Reservoir Dogs") ... but overall the fill seems fine.

  • 6A: Watson's creator (IBM) — Wanted only Doyle, though for a ridiculous half-second I second-guessed myself and considered POE.
  • 8D: Cousteau's milieux (MERS) — There's something noxious about the plural "milieux." Of all the ways to clue this basic word, the puzzle goes with "gratuitously frenchy."
  • 29D: Olympics competitor of NZL (AUS) — in the Olympics, you compete against ... everyone. So ... whatthehell? This clue is terrible. I asked my NZL wife. She agreed: terrible. "They *do* have a competitive relationship, but ... *everyone* competes in the Olympics." Me: "What about [Rugby rival of NZL]?" My NZL wife: "[Rugby rival] would've been Good."
  • 35D: Novy ___ (Russian literary magazine) (MIR) — oh dear lord. As if people know American literary magazines, let alone Russian ones.  MIR is a spacestation. Or the Russian word for "peace." Or a typo of MRI. And that's all it is. [FYI: apparently MIR also means "world," and "Novy MIR" means "New World"]
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:06 AM  

Your 8D bullet seems to have been automatically translated, because the real answer is MERS, an actual Frenchy word with a Frenchy clue.

Anonymous 12:18 AM  

Well, in this case, MIR means WORLD.

I often find that the kinds of clues I most like are the ones Rex hates the most. Suppose you haven't heard of that magazine or you don't know that Novy Mir means New World. I presume Will expects that few have any such familiarity. And that to me is, if you'll pardon me, a clue! It's a sign that we're looking for a common crossword entry all dressed up in new duds. My brain springs into calculation mode. What Russian words commonly appear in NYT crosswords? There aren't a lot. From one letter, I entered MIR, fairly certain it was correct. Then I got to second little kick as it was proven right with further crosses. That's fun. That's solving a puzzle using all the tools available. That's what I want from any puzzle, crossword or otherwise.


jae 12:32 AM  

Nice solid medium Wed. for me.   Symmetry returns with a bonus X in the center.   

@Karen -  My feelings exactly with the refreshing clue for MIR.

crEATE before IDEATE.

Interesting pair of Misters.

Fun puzzle with a bit more oomph than usual for a Wed.

Thanks Paula!

retired_chemist 12:33 AM  

Somehow I knew NOVY MIR, not that I could even read it. ESPOSITO was a gimme, as were ASTOR, UNSER, TOTIE, and HANSEL. MR PINK was not. Names, names......

Got the theme latish, from (cross) DRESS. Had I invested time getting 38A early the puzzle would have gone a lot faster.

Interesting variant of the clue for 6A: Watson's creation and creator. The creation of IBM is of course by Thomas J. Watson. But I too started with ACD(oyle) @ 6A.

A nice puzzle. Thanks, Ms. Gamache.

Anonymous 1:20 AM  

Hand up for ACD. My opinion (which doesn't count for much) is that this was the type of puzzle that keeps me coming back to the NYT. "Cross" seemed too easy at first. Loved that I had to think, not goggle, to get answers.


Anonymous 1:25 AM  

Whoops, meant "google", but maybe goggle works too.


chefwen 1:34 AM  

Now THIS is the Paula Gamache type of puzzle that I have grown to love. Just started filling in the nonsensical words 2D ROADS,14A WORDS thinking that sooner or later, it will all make sense, and it did, sooner than later.

Have no clue as to why ESPOSITO was a gimme for me, but it was. Hanging around the sports section for too long.

Only write-over was 49D, when Hall of Fame wouldn't fit I plopped down Hall of SHAME, I'm sure many of our celebrities would fit in there nicely.

Loved it Ms. Gamache.

Clark 1:58 AM  

This was a crunchy Wednesday for me—even after I figured out the whole CROSS thing. Tony ESPOSITO played hockey for the college my dad taught at. There are not many sports clues that are gimmes for me, but that is one of them.

Anoa Bob 2:58 AM  

I thought it was a nice touch that all the theme words that follow CROSS cross other theme words that also follow CROSS except BOW and it crosses CROSS.

Along with the two MR's (MR ZIP, MR PINK), we also get an MRI and an MIR.

Having most of the theme entries on the periphery opened up the interior to interesting fill that gives a themeless feel to the puzzle. I just noticed there's a low black square count, 34, and that's themelessesque. And all this makes for a more enjoyable solve, IMHO.

Anonymous 5:08 AM  

Hated it. Absolutely hated it. Basically the exact kind of puzzle that bugs the sh*t out of me.

Terrible clues (Favorite (blank)= SON?)
Musty crosswordese (Ossie Davis. Really?)
Latin phrases?!?! Inter Alia? Wtf? The only Inter I know is Inter Milan.

Theme was ok but as Rex said the options are endless so why did it suck so bad.


Anonymous 5:34 AM  

Novy Mir, always a good read before bedtime. JakartaJaap

Jakarta Dan 6:17 AM  

A good Wednesday. Lots of solid fill. Although the theme answers aren't that great, the theme itself -- crossing "cross" words in the crossword -- worked well.

I believe "feature" is a newspaper business word for the syndicated stuff, as in King Features, so the clue for 14a seems fine to me (actually pretty precise).


Zwhatever 7:09 AM  

@Anoa Bob - Your comment is why I love to read the comments. The CROSS WORDS all cross. There is a crossing in each corner of the puzzle and a central crossing. My initial reaction was much like Rex's, but your observation has just increased my appreciation of this puzzle.

IDEATE is a word I always associate with a hard week at work, spending lots of time with the school social worker, a family, and their troubled child having thoughts you never want your own child to have. Seeing kids who went through those times graduate makes me far prouder than any score on a state test.

dk 7:25 AM  

I saw Watson and as Watson and Crick and penned in DNA.

CROSS is in the middle, connect the theme fill and you get a chris cross and viola a crossword puzzle. I get it.

Did I pass the APTEST?

A nice Wednesday. Thanks Paula

🌟🌟🌟 (3 Stars) Bueno chica

evil doug 7:41 AM  

Like that she added a 'crusade' tip-in.

With the Espo's in there, 'cross-check' would have worked nicely.

Merry Xmas,


orangeblossomspecial 7:55 AM  

I'm confused by the cluing on 30D. Isn't a Union foe a Confederate? A Yank foe would be a Reb.

Here's a good lesson in anatomy from the Delta Rhythm Boys: "Dry BONES" (64A).

An old spiritual: "The old ARK's moverin'" (66A).

joho 7:57 AM  

This is like the ultimate homage to "cross" words. When done I circled all the theme answers and loved seeing five crosses in the four corners and smack dab in the center. I appreciated that as did @Anoa Bob and @Z.

My favorite answer was BEARCLAW.

Thank you, Paula!

John V 8:15 AM  

Easy/medium here, save for the South, MRPINK, ILONA Massey both new to me.

Had not picked up the themes crossing until coming here. Pretty cool! Liked this puzzle and theme a lot, no CROSSWORDS from me. Liked SCULPTS, SEAHORSES, EASYSTREET, GAZETTEER -- yep the WOTD for sure, @Rex -- all nice and fresh. Good clue for ARK, IBM/Watson's creator is freakin' brilliant indirection.

Good times!

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

the most fun in a long time, and I wait, not expectantly, for the King to say more things nice than sour, to be happy with clues, not crabby. Ah, for cryin' out loud, Rex, it was FUN. Why don't you try to be some of the same?

Tita 8:21 AM  

@Anoa Bob - thx for pointing out those xing xwords!

Liked being reminded of MRZIP.

Loved SSHAPED SEAHORSES. By the way, it is to Mr. Seahorse that one poses the question "When are you DUE?".
Good misdirect for RESEND - I wanted REbuilD to fit.

DNF because I had ILeNA, which gave me IMITATeRS, IL-O-NA?

Thx Ms. G. Was an easy-ish Wed for me, fun theme, lots of great words, hardly any dreck.
btw - I purposely avoided reading the revealer until I just couldn't get the NE - yes, a plethora of the answers worked standalone - to me, that just made it crunchier and for more AHAs.

Sue McC 8:36 AM  

Thought it was just ok. Not very zippy.

John V 9:06 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtO 9:07 AM  

Always fun to see what other solvers first thought of. CSA was my REB first option. As a Jeopardy fan IBM was quick first choice for Watson's creator.

John V 9:07 AM  

@Tita: Same mistake -- ILONA -- as you.

quilter1 9:09 AM  

My first reaction was "serviceable" but some of these comments brought my attention to unnoticed "features" that improved my opinion.

Now, what to do about my BEARCLAW craving?

mac 9:17 AM  

Easy-medium for me, I started putting crosses outside the grid right from the start. Liked the Tootsie clue.

Medium because there were quite a few characters I didn't know. Thought the RST run was surprising and a little embarrassing.

Do we really have a Jakarta Dan and Jakarta Jaap?

jberg 9:25 AM  

On the one hand, I hadn't noticed that the answers formed symmetrical crosses, and that it was a CROSS-WORD PUZZLE. That helps a lot! On the other hand, I did notice that some of the theme answers made sense without the cross, as well as with it, while others did not.

On the other hand, it all depends on what you know - ALIA, Novy MIR, MISSA Solemnis, and OSSIE Davis were all gimmes for me.

On the other hand, IDEATE? crEATE had me stuck up there for a long time - ran the alphabet on rU_ before I finally noticed that I had the makings of IBM at 6A. Is the Watson that IBM created the little guy who used to pop up on your screen when the system hung up? Or is there some less dated sense of it?

That's four hands - enough for a bridge club.

chefbea 9:27 AM  

Found it challenging but loved it. Glad it was pointed out that the crosses were in each corner.

Loved the clue for resend. Haven't had a bear claw in years

Thanks Paula for a great puzzle

John V 9:32 AM  

@jberg: Here's Watson

archaeoprof 9:34 AM  

What @joho, @AnoaBob and @Z said.

Really like the look of SCULPTS in a puzzle. Made me want to buy a vowel.

Nice one, Paula!

hazel 9:37 AM  

A number 1 - i thought this puzzle was really clever, an opinion that was enhanced by @anoa bob's observation.

But - who is TOTIE fields? And does anyone really use THIRDCLASS to mean low quality? I mean actually say that?

We adoped a stray cat and called him MRPINK.

Loren Muse Smith 9:39 AM  

@Mac – I started with outside crosses, too. Then I realized that the theme answers crossed each other and like @joho, I darkly outlined the five crosses, but it was before I filled them in. Their symmetry is terrific.

Liked the (yes, redundant) FREE GIFT. BEAR CLAW and AUSTERITY were good, too.

I enjoyed this puzzle with its theme and scrabbly fill.

One nit - remember the Disneyworld song from a few days ago? Well, thanks to “John Jacob,” I can’t get that song “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” out of my mind. CRIpes!

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

@Z - Yes, there's a sub-population where IDEATE has only one connotation, and you're right that your efforts to get those kids back in the swing of things is far more important than the state tests. Thanks for your efforts there.

jackj 9:42 AM  

The theme qualifies for the Costco bulk discount with all those starred CROSS(es) but has the same irritating result for the consumer, you’ve got too much of an otherwise good thing and not enough shelf space.

Would have been much more interesting if ESPO and brother Tony had joined forces with the ocean’s answer to the giraffe, SEAHORSES and, say, somehow eliminated the IBM creature Watson’s signaling edge on Jeopardy and allowed Ken Jennings an equal shot at the prize.

As for that scenario, clearly it’s intentional nonsense but was meant to emphasize that the theme was but “serviceable” while the fill was a whole lot of fun as it also included such as AUSTERITY, BEARCLAW, THIRDCLASS, GAZETTEER and EASYSTREET.

Not a favorite Wednesday puzzle, but a keeper, nonetheless.

PanamaRed 9:44 AM  

@quilter1 - HIE thee to a bakery!

Loved the puzzle - thanks Paula.

r.alphbunker 10:07 AM  

@Anoa Bob
Thanks for your observation. I enjoy your comments. Hope we cross paths sometime.

And I see that I am not alone in crashing at the Ilona crossing.

GenJoneser 10:07 AM  

THANKS for today's musical selection. Silly video I know,
but Gerry Rafferty (RIP) was supremely talented
albeit messed up.
He left us great music see: Baker Street
I always thought Sheryl Crow
paid homage(or ripped off?)
the riff in "Stuck in the Middle"

@Joho I too liked the crosses
in the corners, but I
used a pink highlighter! Fancy!

I liked the puzzle. Good day all!

Howard B 10:22 AM  

Liked the puzzle just fine, but took a good minute trying to figure out just what that last letter in MRPIN? was. I had absolutely no idea, and I even saw Reservoir Dogs oh, maybe 10 years ago. And Steve Buscemi isn't exactly forgettable. But that was a rough one for me; my movie memory is missing much.

JenCT 10:23 AM  

Solved online, so I missed the visual effect of the crosses - now that I see them, I like the puzzle more.

Really wanted THIRD RATE at first; agree with @hazel re: THIRD CLASS.

I don't even remember MR ZIP.

Like the word AUSTERITY.

ERS 10:25 AM  

Nice Wednesday puzzle. Can honestly say I have never used the word "ideate" in my life. @rex why do you say Gerry Rafferty was messed up? Also didn't know he died. Wow.

Matthew G. 10:39 AM  

I liked the grid and the theme much better than Rex did. The CROSS WORDS actually cross, and the long fill is downright great for a Wednesday. Great grid/theme!

But I share Rex's sentiments about the cluing. I have no idea which clues today are Paula's and which are Will's, but this isn't the first time I've noticed that something about the clues in Gamache puzzles frequently feels a bit ... off to me. As though she is prone to phrase things in a way that doesn't quite feel idiomatic. Viz. what Rex said about the clue on ARMOR, as a particularly good example.

Cheerio 10:41 AM  

I'm in the camp of really liking this. It was more challenging in a way that I wish were more common in the crosswords. It seems odd to me that gazette and gazetteer have such distinct meanings when both are considered as nouns. I have never in my life noticed an "Atlas and Gazetteer" title on any publicatino. If I have ever laid eyes on such a title, I've never taken it in, probably willfully.

Two Ponies 10:47 AM  

I thought this was a great puzzle.
I got the theme early but had to fight to get some of the fill. Just the sort of solving experience I love. Hand up for "X" in the margins. Very clever Ms. Gamache.
@ dk, I got Brownie points in a chemistry class for identifying my and my partner's lad samples as belonging to Crick and Watson.

Noam D. Elkies 11:21 AM  

Agree with the positive comments on 35D:MIR. Much better to have a fresh clue for that than a new sportz trivium for OTT.

The fact that MIR means both "world" and "peace" is particularly fortunate because "world peace" is a reasonably common phrase. Even more common (at least around Рождество Христово, if I gather correctly that this is Russian for "Christmas") is "mir miru" = peace to the world.


Ron Artess 11:32 AM  

My new name will be Meta MirMir.
However, if I ever suspect that an announcer switches the two Mirs, i.e. calling me Meta Peace World, I'll elbow the bastard in the face.

Anonymous 12:14 PM  

Don't understand Rex's rating. I thought it was easy--fun. Of course Ilona Massey lived around the corner after she retired so that was a gimme and I am also a Jeopardy watcher so knew the IBM. Everything else flowed. No googles. Just things that could be worked out through the, pun intended, crosses. What I think would be challenging would be if you asked me to construct something like this. Never happen. Vous etes tres intelligent (which can also mean clever), Madame Gamache! Merci.

Chip Hilton 1:33 PM  

Challenging, I thought. One stumble - couldn't imagine any car company going with FIRE as a name. Yikes! I, too, thought the Olympic clue was just out and out wrong. Rugby would've been far better. Liked the CROSS symmetry and the theme as a whole.

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

Challenging for me, just not on the same wavelength. Rewrites everywhere, wanted Betty or Geena for 65A, never heard of Ossie? Hand up for DNA on 6A, also wanted chain for 1A, as two or more pieces of mail in armor. Scads of words/people I didn't know or intuit. Boo me.

@Loren, I laughed outloud at your take on 29A, same here, spent way too long wondering if anyone had ever used jingleheimer Schmidt in a puzzle and humming it to myself! I love your dad's writeups and can't wait to see what he made of this one.

Bird 1:59 PM  

I thought this was a great CROSS WORD puzzle. Lots of theme (9 answers + connector) and not a lot of “bad” fill. Thank you Paula for this gem. And never mind what Rex said about the cluing – I think he has to complain about something otherwise he’s not happy – I think it’s fine (well, maybe 29D should have been clued differently). In fact I liked some of the cluing as it added to the difficulty. One last thought (someone posted some clues could be Will's) - take credit for the good clues and blame Will for the others;)

ERRORS that needed fixing: LOADS for 9A, thought the racing family spelled their name UNCER, REGENT (can that be a singular form) for 26A and DO IT for 37A.

I miss OSSIE Davis; thought he was great in Joe Versus the Volcano with Tom Hanks.

@chefwen (re yesterday’s facelifts) – I stand corrected. Joan Rivers is who I was thinking of. Thank you.

xyz 2:17 PM  

Irregular. Some clues clever, some dense occasionally a poor one. Theme meh. Challenging just to be so.

Lewis 2:18 PM  

Felt easy and breezy for a Wednesday for me. Theme fell quickly at CROSSROADS, what I didn't know came from the crosses. Someone called this puzzle a little gem, and I concur.

sanfranman59 3:42 PM  

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

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

Wed 13:20, 11:50, 1.13, 80%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 7:24, 5:53, 1.26, 93%, Challenging

I posted my 2nd slowest Wednesday in the 3 years I've been recording my solve times. I blame my sub-par performance in part on my brain not firing on all cylinders last evening and and in part on not finding the constructor's wavelength (as sometimes happens to me with Ms. Gamache's puzzles). But given the online solve times, I feel at least somewhat vindicated.

Sparky 4:28 PM  

Had aCreS for 9A and wanted DRag at 12D. Hand up for Xs in margins when I caught on. Auto repair answer before RESEND. Good misdirect. Comments today added to appreciation. Well said Karen at 12:18 a.m. BONES could have had another Yale clue. ACD (ACDoyle) before IBM and I stay glued to Jeopardy!

ILONA Massey could sing, too.

Unknown 4:33 PM  

Kind of challenging for me..I started very fast, and proceeded to fill quite nicely. Then got stuck. For a while. Took me forever to get ARMOR, but now love the clue.

@Rex: sacrebleu! What's wrong with getting "Frenchie" once in a while, it's more gimmes for me (and I need all that I can get, let's face it).

Loved the FREE GIFT! The redundancy almost annoyed me.

Thank You Madame Paula.


Masked and Anonymo6Us 7:10 PM  

Quickie thUmbsUp. One of Paula's best, IMO. Hall-of-FAMER.

Austerity Chorus Missas 7:48 PM  

Love the comments...esp @Ron Artess ( thank god he wasn't a clue, i thought his name was ARTEST.

And thank you @AnoaBob for elevating the appreciation of this construction at least 9 fold for me too!!!
(I never saw that the *words crossed!)

And @NDE
I was gonna comment on MIR MIR, so how great to get thelinguistic cource there, compleat with cool looking Russian type face.

All the gang members had colors as aliases, Mr White, Mr Brown, Mr Steve Buscemi had a fit when he was MR PINK, which made that scene so hilarious.
Loved "Reservoir Dogs" but someone told me to see "The Killing", directed by STanley Kubrick and then Tarantino's film seemed wildly less original, homage-borderline- ripoff.

So MR ZIP, MR PINK, MR I.... i feel a puzzle coming on!

Anyway, SEAHORSES lovely...perfect example of a cool word with nonScrabbly, "easy" fill letters, yet so evocative and visual.

And that someone here not only know who ILONA Massey, but lives around the corner from her!!! @rexworld is indeed five degrees of separation!

So BUENO all around!
(Shall I note that all the puzzles this week are by women again, or would that jinx it?!)

retired_chemist 8:23 PM  

@ACM - it IS Artest.

Rookie 12:09 AM  

Loved meta mir mir.

Very, very clever,.


sanfranman59 12:23 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 6:33, 6:50, 0.96, 33%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:09, 8:53, 0.92, 29%, Easy-Medium
Wed 13:16, 11:50, 1.12, 80%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:38, 3:40, 0.99, 48%, Medium
Tue 4:22, 4:35, 0.95, 41%, Medium
Wed 6:54, 5:53, 1.17, 88%, Challenging

Anonymous 7:51 AM  

Feeling rather dense-ish today. Watson (6A) as in Tom? IBM created him? Help!

JenCT 8:08 AM  

@JCGal: Watson

Bob M 9:09 AM  

NW and SE had me a bit baffled. I got the theme pretty quickly . Had no idea who the two Mr's were.
Overall an OK puzzle

Bob M 9:18 AM  

Hey Fen- Watson is a super computer built by IBM. It competed against Jenkins on Jeopardy and kicked his butt!
I loved how it would wager $2375 or some obscure amount if it got a daily double.
Speaking of Watson,I thought "Couple's place" clue was PGA for Fred Couples.

NM Robin 1:24 PM  

I have loved all the puzzle so far this week. Found all of them easy to easy-medium.

I have tried to comment before but can't seem to get it to work.

Ginger 1:29 PM  

I enjoyed solving (well, almost) this puzzle, however challenging it was for me. At first I just could not gain a toe hold and actually checked if 5/2 really was a Wed. Slowly, very slowly, I was able to work through it. What finally skunked me was my deternmination to keep crEATE at 6D. So, I ended with roe (baby fish??) at 15A. Yeah, I know that doesn't fly, but that's what messed up the upper midwest.

Being a Pug fan, I looked for puggle instead of labradoodle at 62A. As has been said, lots of interesting clues and fills.

Thanks @orangeblossomspecial for 'Dry Bones', which brought back a lot of memories. It was popular when I was a little (very little) kid.

I'm surprised at all the posters who didn't know ILONA. She seems to appear regularly in THIRDCLASS puzzles.

@Bob M, also looking for a Fred Couples connection at 66A.

Thanks Paula

Ginger 1:34 PM  

@NM Robin Welcome to Syndiland. the capchas can be a real headache, but keep trying. Nice to have you here, even if your 'easy-medium' is my 'DNF Challange' LOL

Spacecraft 1:57 PM  

Well, I got this, with no help and no errors--but I'm still wondering how. I mean, it's only Wedensday, and already the Hollywood Davis is OSSIE and not Bette?

I filled in BEARCLAW on crosses and thought: that can't be right. But it is (???).

In the first place, "what completes" to me meant what follows. So I'm there going "ROADS...what?" and "WORDS...what?" Finally, I get all the way down to the SE, trying to get a foothold, and find the gimmes ABE and ILONA. Could 64a be BONES? Well, CROSS--[flashbulb goes off!] From there it wasn't so bad.

Oh, but please, that fill! RST: ban all alphabet strings! SSHAPE: yuck. And IDEATE. OFL mentioned his distatse for this word, and I know why. NO ONE EVER USES IT! It exists solely as a six (low Scrabble-count)-letter word for "think." Not even in a think tank do they use that word!

Finally, I'd like to see ITIS clued as "Last two words of Charly's mystery punctuation problem sentence." Is that it?

DMGrandma 2:19 PM  

Found this one pretty smooth. Old enough to know ILONA, (a name periodically resurrected in puzzles), and somehow got ESPOSITO even though my warped thought processses were looking to associate ICEMEN with someone like Auel???
Didn't mean to overlook someone in saying thanks for the Venus info, but in chasing down @Diri's lead I just Googled "Venus transit" to find info, and it led me to the Huff Post and on from there. Looking back I see Tita had offered a website, but I missed it first time around. Later found I could also tune in on the IPad, so I guess I also owe Mr. Jobs an apology. My error was that I was trying to watch before they started to broadcast. Some day I'll get ept or whatever the antonym of inept is!
All that said, isn't it amazing I can sit here at home, watching an event happening millions of miles away, brought to me for free by a public minded institution, and then discuss the whole thing with people all over the world in pretty much real time. Sometimes life is good!

Dirigonzo 3:31 PM  

I felt oh so smart for remembering a factoid that I learned from a puzzle a while back, namely that Tokyo, the Capital of Japan (63a) was formerly known as Edo so I waited all too long for that to show up - oh wait, not THAT kind of capital. It gets me every time.

I read an article recently whereby the author pronounced all of those "breeds" like Labradoodle, Cockerpoo, etc., to be nothing more that mutts, which of course is exactly what CROSSBREEDs are. He called the inventor of the "designer breed" concept a marketing genius.

@DMGrandma, it is truly amazing that we can do those things and yes, life can be very good, indeed.

rain forest 4:25 PM  

Fun puzzle which I thoroughly enjoyed. @Karen and @jae: I agree re "mir".
I think Rex and jackj would be the type of restaurant patrons who send food back, think the servers are either overly or too little attentive, and whose wine is always 2 degrees too warm or cold, all in the name of appearing to have some.

Anonymous 7:45 PM  

I am just commenting to see what every complains about..never commented so I had to see these challenging captchas.


Anonymous 10:43 PM  

My solve was perfect, except that Custeau frequented the SEAS, Watson was the result of someone's Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and GAZETTEEA was written in Aramaic on the walls of a cave guarded by a ferocious rabbit.

@ anonymous 5:08 AM - You're upset abput Inter ALIA? That shows up like once a week. I still have no idea what it means but it's crossword gimme. Make a note of it and move on.

Anonymous 7:24 PM  

Appear as Tootsie??? Please enlighten me!

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