Swiss pharmaceutical giant; "Family Ties" mother; Tuesday, May 29, 2012; Do some logrolling

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Constructor: Daniel A. Finan

Relative difficulty: medium

NOTEPAD: The circles in this puzzle are contained in words that form a sequence. Connect these circles, in the order of the sequence, to form an appropriate image.

THEME: Connect the dots — The numbers one to seven are spelled out throughout the grid, each clued to a postage stamp denomination and containing a circled letter. When you connect the circles numerically you draw the BACK OF THE ENVELOPE (39A Location for some quick calculations).

Word of the Day: ROCHE (47D Swiss pharmaceutical giant) —

F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. is a Swiss global health-care company that operates worldwide under two divisions: Pharmaceuticals and Diagnostics. Its holding company, Roche Holding AG, has shares listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange.
                                                                       • • •
Hello, Rexworld. This is treedweller again, filling in. In keeping with recent trends toward oddball Tuesdays,  today we get a 17 X 13 grid that facilitates the opportunity for us to draw a picture of an envelope when we finish filling in our answers. It's the sort of gimmick that always draws comparisons to Liz Gorski; I don't think this one will dethrone the queen, but it pulls off the trick without paying too high a price.

Ultimately, opinions on this will probably split along the lines of those who like gimmicks and those who don't like to draw on their puzzles. For my part, I solved without seeing the notepad; I scratched my head a bit trying to figure out what to do with the circles until I looked it up. My best guess was some kind of origami project, so the five-line drawing was a bit of a letdown. Anyway, as I was solving, this it seemed like an oddly shaped themeless that had a few answers that were just some semi-random low number.

As such, I liked it pretty well, though it seemed a little uneven. Like yesterday, the short corner fill was serviceable, at best. A few words seemed a little out of Tuesday's league, like HEMATOLOGY (12D Study of blood), but overall it was a peppy, fun solve with fair crosses. I liked the phrases: RAN RIOT, IT'S OPEN, START IN ON, NOT SO FAST. I was less enthralled with UNSOCIAL, RESOURCE, and POUNDERS

Theme answers: I am not going to type all these.

  • 1D, 11A, 16A, 18A, 44A, 51D, 69A all ask for the price in cents of a stamp based on the year of release and the president appearing on it. FOUR, THREE, ONE, SEVEN, TWO, FIVE, SIX. I will leave the discussion of postage rates for the comments.
  • 39A Location for some quick calculations BACK OF THE ENVELOPE
So the first themed clue I saw was 16A, which elided "Price in cents" and left me wondering if I would need to know some obscure stamp trivia. Despite my youthful efforts to become a Renaissance man, most of my philatelic impulses died early (roughly when I finished the Stamp Collecting merit badge), so I was a little worried. As soon as it became clear I was just looking for low numbers, I began to gain momentum.  Philatelists clearly have a major advantage on this one, though, so all times scored in the NYT applet will include an asterisk in the record books.


  • 4A High beams BRIGHTS — I liked the colloquial nature of both clue and answer. Sensitive listeners should probably skip Evil Doug's comments today.
  • 37D "The Phantom Menace," in the "Star Wars" series EPISODE I — I only mention it to re-post this review, which some of you will remember from when Rex linked to it a few years ago. NSFW language
  • 56A Chihuahua, e.g. TOY DOG — I had to replace "lap" DOG. Whenever I see the word "chihuahua," I hear Les Nessman saying it in my head.
  • 32A Do some logrolling BIRL — I had to look this one up after I was done. It has no business being in a Tuesday puzzle.
I would just like to conclude by saying it is an honor and a pleasure to stand in for one of the greatest writers of our time.
Signed, treedweller, on behalf of
Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 2:20 AM  

interesting Tuesday puzzle
finished the puzzle, but couldn't figure out the meaning of the circled letters
didn't know to connect the dots to form a picture of an ENVELOPE
must be all the Memorial Day picnic barbeque, pizza, and beer
all that food and alcohol slowed down my brain juices

jae 2:36 AM  

Pretty tough for a Tues.  More of an easy-med. Wed for me.  I guess one way to get rid of three letter dreck is to change the grid shape into an envelope. Works for me.

Is it national stamp day?

Tried trALALA before SHALALA.  I thought it was SHAnAnA.

Not as interesting as yesterday's but an OK Tues.  I liked it and thanks for an another entertaining write up treedweller.

Mike 2:55 AM  

Thank you to our guest bloggers!

Peeved 3:10 AM  

I'm not doing the NYT puzzle for the first time in couple of years because my subscription ran out today, and I really don't want to renew the ever-hapless Magmic app. It has always been a piece of trash, seemingly coded by some slightly slow chimpanzees somewhere in eastern Europe. Sunday was really annoying with it's constant jumbling of the rebus squares, and the network-handling portion of it is hopeless.Is there something else out there for the iPhone?

Acrobat Cuisine Michaels 3:48 AM  

Note didn't appear on print out, so i was left wondering what FENNTXE was all about!

This too similar to the interstate one, that without the stamp trivia, you just had numbers in the grid...
But i guess with the unusual 17 x 13 envelope-shaped grid it was an attempt at a Blindauer-genius type thing, but for me fell short, tho gotta applaud effort creatively.

My sister ELYSE (who just threw Maidie's 100th bday brunch I'm just getting back from) will appreciate her name in the puzzle... Spelled her way, sans "fur"...
Oh way 1A IS FUR! So FUR ELYSE is in the puzzle after all! Dadadadadadadeda.

And "NOTSOFAST, Kowalski" is the punchline to a joke my Uncle Lenny always told about soldiers being informed their mother had died...

Steve J 3:51 AM  

I'm not a big fan of pictogram puzzles, and I found this particular one a little redundant with the giant BACKOFTHEENVELOPE stretching across the middle of the atypical grid. But it was fairly well executed for this sort of thing. I suppose one could quibble that most of the theme is just an exercise in filling in single-digit numbers, which isn't really high on the challenge scale, but oh well.

Definitely a few tougher words for Tuesdays (HEMATOLOGY and BIRL), but they were easily sorted via crosses fo rme.

@Treedweller: Glad to see that I'm not the only one who can never see the word "chihuahua" without thinking of Les Nessman. On the plus side, I've remembered how to spell it correctly for 30-some years now thanks to Les. (I never had a problem with Chai Chai Rod-reh-gueeze, however.)

Zwhatever 6:53 AM  

Stamps, BACK OF THE ENVELOPE, drawing an envelope - pretty darn good compared to some Tuesdays we've suffered through.

I briefly wondered why Marilyn Monroe had a stamp in 1958. Oh - that Monroe. Hand up for trA LA LA. Also had BLESSEd before BLESSES, so a little slow down in that region. I remembered BIRL from the last time it appeared, but thought it was BuRL at first. I would guess easy-medium in the end.

I see we are crowd sourcing text again. Interesting how we're servicing the robots.

Loren Muse Smith 7:31 AM  

How can I be so oblivious as to miss that this grid is 17x13 until I read it here????? I never mind drawing on a puzzle, and gleefully grab a magic marker to enhance the process. Clever theme, and I’m not remotely interested in stamps.

Because I had “mini” for TINY, I flirted with a malapop at FETA (FEMA), but even I understood that “crumbly cheese” does not describe our emergency response people. (This is heartfelt – not sarcastic- I once had lunch with a woman who went to Oklahoma city with her rescue dog as part of a FEMA team, and they found survivors who were rescued thanks to them!)

Husband is in the pharmaceutical industry, and we’ve entertained the idea of moving to Basel, so ROCHE was a gimme. So I didn’t have “tra” but SHAnana first.

Granted BIRL and HEMATOLOGY may not be Tuesday words, but completely gettable with the fair crosses.

I would have preferred “oui oui” to OUIS, but it crosses with something utterly delicious and I hope Anthony Bourdain doesn’t read this and foodie, chefwen, and chefbea will forgive me – quarter POUNDERS. I have that or a Big Mac maybe once a year and savor every processed, cheap, salty,and I guess unPC bite.

orangeblossomspecial 7:39 AM  

Nice write-ups, @treedweller. Thanks for your good work.

Couldn't find songs with the exact sequence of numbers in the puzzle, but here's a hit from the 60s by Len Berry "1 2 3".

Here is a great hit from the Marvelettes, the original "Please Mr Postman", which the Beatles covered a few years later.

And here is Elvis doing "Return to sender".

disconnect the dots 8:04 AM  

okay, i'll address the pink elephant in the room. why is the 1938 stamp .07 and the 1958 stamp only .03? is it a comment on the value of monroe's presidency? is the jackson stamp airmail (in 1938?). i could look it up, i suppose...but it did stump me for a few seconds. i knew RVERS had to be right, and then it dawned on me that stamps could be used for different things and therefore would not compare directly with each other. a palm to forehead moment, if you will.

and treedweller, you are most qualified to speak about the excellence of rex's writing because you are not so bad yourself. only someone as good as you would be able to truly recognize the value in another writer (of internet NYT crossword puzzle blogs, that is)

btw, i do fall into the "don't like to draw on my puzzle" category because i do it on my computer. and because, connecting the dots is not really my thing.

John V 8:10 AM  

From the CLT tarmac. Fun! More later.

Sue McC 8:12 AM  

@disconnect: I'm guessing that the 1958 stamp might not have been a first class stamp?

This was a quick easy Tuesday for me, but ultimately a big ol' meh. Kinda flat, like an envelope.

Tita 8:20 AM  

Have to love it, as stepson is a mailman! However, since I solved in a non-serial manner, I never saw the full revealer clue till the very end... so had no idea what "... of a " meant. Annoying - why not just repeat it at each clue?
Didn't really matter, as the crosses were easy, and it immediately became obvious, from both the grid and the note, that they were sequential numbers...

Cute trick. Nice shout-out to the USPS. And lots of good fill...SHALALA, TOYDOG, RANRIOT, NOTSOFAST...

@orangeblossomspecial...thanks for the songs.

And who knew that caterpillars have ANTENNAe?

Anonymous 8:21 AM  

Some days I come here and think this is a cult and Rex its personality.

My experience was a combination of TD amd Acme. Did the puzzle without the benefit of the note, wrote out the letters in the circles, read the note, connected the dots with the imaginary line and said whoopee.

Like others I did not notice the odd grid shape. That was either due to my vodka or the distraction caused by those annoying circles.

And like others I have no clue as to those clues where answers intersect with the circles.

ED remembers prairie where airports now operate. I remember the three cent stamp, the penny postcard and mail delivered in a timely fashion. If the theme were about why we should just dump the Post Office, I would have liked it more....


quilter1 8:26 AM  

Easy for me, too. Some nice words not often seen. I don't care about connecting the dots.

My question, to the dog smarties, are chihuahuas really TOY DOGs or simply a small breed? I thought TOYs were standard breeds that were bred to be tiny and that chihuahuas were small to begin with.

jackj 8:35 AM  

Liz Gorski needn’t worry about being preempted as the Crossword World’s Resident Artiste if all Daniel Finan can give us is a tired looking envelope. (And they had to remake the grid to a 17X13 to accommodate it?!)

Daniel has been all circles and confusions in his past puzzles (mostly Sundays) and while he tries a kinder, gentler bit of trickery here, it falls flat and makes one ask, “What’s it all about, Dan’l?”

The stamp values were pretty easily deduced, even by a non-philatelist and the fill seemed rather pedestrian, especially considering that the theme needed so much help.

I wondered why SHALALA was clued as “Refrain syllables” and not as Clinton’s HHS Secy. (now U. of Miami Prez.), Donna? Even though he used a proper clue, it doesn’t seem as interesting.

The answer that did look particularly interesting was the one I thought he had used for “Rear”, which I quickly jotted in as HINY, (as a variation of HINEY), but, alas, twas not to be, the run of the mill HIND being the necessary entry.

Oh, well we can always rhapsodize over the sexy TEDDIES and be ever thankful he didn’t clue them as “Steiff specialties?”

Please, we want you to push the envelope, not ask us to do doodles of them.

SethG 8:39 AM  

There are about 8,740 different stamps in these denominations.

Measured from the center of the circles, the envelope is 12 x 16, not a standard envelope size. The most common envelope is 4 1/8" x 9 1/2", so 8 x 19 would be about as close as you can get.


I did learn that I don't actually know which side of the envelope is the back, so there's that.

evil doug 8:41 AM  

Okay, TreeD: You asked for it....

Nice set of *high beams*---not *tiny*, but *stout*. At first she said, *not so fast*---kind of *unsocial*. She looked so good in *teddies*, though, that I had to *start in on* her. Finally she gave in: *It's open!* she breathed, and she became a real *acrobat*. *I like!*, I proclaimed. Her *hind* *ends* (her rear *resource* was so ample that she kind of had *two*) was a bit *old* and *stale*, but we *ran riot* and became a rhythmic pair of *pounders* whipping up bodily *milkshakes*. Yes, Donna *Shalala* was a *three* on looks, but I'd give her a *seven* on *use* of her assets. I should get the *hematology* results back soon....

Hey, cool! I came up with eight-six-seven-five-three-o-nine, and when I connected 'em a picture of Tommy Tutone magically appeared....


KRMunson 9:14 AM  

Like others, I totally missed the line drawing of the envelope. Got through the puzzle without a clue about the rebus-like circles. Didn't like "unsocial" - we always say "antisocial". Overall, a respectable Tuesday effort from Dainel!

joho 9:16 AM  

I ended up with FENNTEX.

Did not see the note, did not connect the dots.

I guess if it had to be explained to me I didn't get the joke. Which is a reflection on me, not Daniel Finan.

In retrospect I like it better than I did doing it.

Tobias Duncan 9:22 AM  

RANDI crossing BRIGHTS is a very special secret message to a very small group of people.

Very cool Mr.Finan , very cool indeed.

Cheerio 9:30 AM  

@evil doug - nice and yes, LOL.

Birl crossing BBB was hard.

chefbea 9:39 AM  

Saw the odd shaped grid right away!! Guess this puzzle is a shout out to me, @chefwen, and @foodie what with cuisine, quarter pounders and milk shakes!! And also to puzzle husband - a retired mail carrier. He probably knows which president is on every stamp.

1813 is my captch wonder what president is on the stamp of that year

jberg 9:43 AM  

Finished with an error - here in MA, "Beano" is (or used to be) a form of bingo played at church fundraisers. I think it was considered less immoral if you didn't call it by its right name (as with a lot of things). So I never thought of it as a GAS-X competitior, and guessied it must be EDy LeShan.

And while I saw the note, I forgot to do the drawing at the end, until I came here, saw that there was a drawing, and quickly filled it in. That made the puzzle a lot better, since it hung together a bit. Also, for those of us who grew up in the North country, BIRL was a gimme - thanks for the vid, @Treedweller (and for the great write-up).

That said - we've got OTT crossing TET, ESE, ETH, EDA, RES, INT - so the weak 3-letter fill was not completely eliminated. And going up a letter, FETA, FEMA, ELAL, RVER, and OUIS. Can't really be avoided, since so many of the theme answers are 3 or 4 letters.

There was another Monroe stamp in 1995, but that one was 32 cents. Bet they sold a lot more of them.

daftasadingo 9:47 AM  

heh. it was a puzzle and most of the fun of puzzles is figuring them out. true, sometimes once you figure them out, they don't exactly change your world, but still...the fun is in the unpacking.

i personally am thankful to the youtube link of the review of phantom menace. worth the 10 minutes to watch.

as for envelopes/stamps and whatnot, i applaud mr. finan (is that irish?) for conceiving it and for executing it...both of which i a) haven't done before, and b) probably wouldn't have done.

i'm doing SHORTYZ puzzles on my droid phone. there are lots of puzzles on it from all over the place...but none are as good as the NYT...even on a bad day.

daftasadingo 9:55 AM  

btw, god love connecting the dots...i used to do them as a kid. but even as a kid, i enjoyed connecting LOTS of dots (the more the better)...just seven dots doesn't require actual can visualize it just the same.

still, cool concept.

John V 9:57 AM  

Okay. Noticed the grid straight off and realized something would be up. The fill most definitely was challenging for a Tuesday, as was the ellipsis cluing of the theme answers, starting at 16a. Plenty-O odditities, all gettable with crosses, but still. NW last to fall, which I cracked by realizing that ONE and FOUR were the two numbers missing in the sequence.

Only proper name a I knew was our buddy MEL. Seriously. All others came from the crosses.

Pretty cool sticking an X in the SE corner like that. So, nice piece of CUISINE (a hard word), sort of a Tuesday/Thursday smoothie. Thanks, Daniel; I enjoyed the puzzle.

jackj 9:59 AM  


"Woo-Woo". Nice catch.

John V 10:03 AM  

@Tobias, can you share?

mitchs 10:34 AM  

This reminded me of Bob Newhart's classic routine wherein Abe Lincoln gets a call from his press agent. Still hysterical after all these years.

Tita 10:36 AM  

John V - google 'brights randi wiki', and the top 2 entries will explain.

Toss woo-woo in there too.
Thanks @Tobias & @jackj - knew Randi as a debunker, but not this detail.

Nice catch indeed.

@SethG - in my app, the dimensions of the envelope are pretty close to what I use when I send out my cards. And not knowing which side is the back? Hmmm...the mailman in my family says that the sorting machines have the same problem...and that is why you shouldn't put the return address on the back, as the machines might read it as the To.

(Capchas - one much easier-to-read word, one impossible-to-read word.)

600 10:38 AM  

@quilter 1--I don't consider myself a "dog smartie," but I am a devotee of the Westminster Dog Show every (I think) February. "Toy" is a group in AKC classification. I don't know where it started, but the groups are herding dogs, terriers, working dogs, sporting dogs, non-sporting dogs, hounds, miscellaneous . . . and toy. Chihuahuas are in the toy group.

The puzzle? It was okay . . . I solve on line. Visualizing an envelope wasn't happening. Glad @treedweller drew it out.

Yeah, @Tobias. Can you share?

Nice write up, treedweller. I loved the Phantom Menace review. A well-spent 10 minutes, and I forwarded it on to my son, the biggest Star Wars fan in the world. Tells everyone he saw the first one (the REAL first one!) in utero. He did.

600 10:45 AM  

@quilter 1 again: Looking at the toy dogs ( it does appear that the group includes both dogs that were just small to begin with (affenpinscher, Maltese, etc.) and some that were probably bred down to small size (toy fox terrier, for instance.) I don't think there's a distinction in the grouping.

daftasadingo 11:00 AM

the amazing randi/bright connection.

Sfingi 11:12 AM  

Agree@Jae on SHALALA

I think the price paid for the envelope trick was too many abbrevs.

In The World without Us, toy dogs get et up mighty fast. But, of course they weren't created in nature, but by purposeful cross-breeding.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

Was the salute to Rex at the end of the write-up a bit of tongue-in-cheek logrolling?

Wood 11:24 AM  

Yes--it's called Crosswords. You have to subscribe to the NYT puzzle though.

geezerette 11:28 AM  

Wow, super clever. I'm all in favor of MILKSHAKES CUISINE.

evil doug, you're a riot.

ka 12:13 PM  

@peeved: If you're not interested in speed solving, but just want an iPhone app that works without the bugs and frustrations that plague the Magmic NYTimes app, try 2across. (Because of its title, it doesn't show up in the iTunes search for crosswords apps.) It handles rebuses well. If you have discontinued your NYTimes subscription, you will have to subscribe to the Premium Crosswords to get the puzzles.

GILL I. 12:31 PM  

EWE, what was this? Pass the GAS X. Like @Acrobat I didn't get the friggin note and spent way too long trying to figure out what FENN TEX meant.
EENT?? What happened to trALALA? I looked up GRE (7D) and I got "gas release event." TEDDIES remind me of a chastity belt gone wrong.
This just wasn't a Tue. puzzle. Maybe had I gotten the note I would feel more warmth? Probably not.
@loren: I too indulge in a Quater POUNDER once a year. I savor every bite saying it's the last one I will ever take again. Hah...

John V 12:41 PM  

Alternate clue for BIRL: "Boy meets girl?"

Masked and Anonymo6Us 1:03 PM  

Liked it, altho can see how it maybe eent some folks's TuesPuz cup-o-tea. Stacked 7's right on top will put up a fight. No reason to go postal over anything, tho.

thUmbsUp for the 17x13 grid. Wanted to figure out what the circles drew out ahead of time, but couldn't. Clever feller, that Finan dude.

Fave fillins (other than EENT, which is classic): ANTENNA, CUISINE, MILKSHAKES (with its nasty four consonants in a row), and NOTSOFAST.

Congrats to all the guest writers this week. Well subbed.

Bought a chipmunk trap. They like banana peel bait. They like it a lot. Caught four so far. Take 'em for a ride. Too soft-hearted to hurt 'em.

Mel Ott 1:16 PM  

Odd-shaped grid, circles and itaicized clues - all on a Tuesday!

Didn't draw the envelope. Didn't care.

Not a bad puzzle though.

I still use the old-fashion BRIGHTS for High Beams. I can still hear my shotgun-seat-driving Dad growling, "Put on yer BRIGHTS."

Masked and Anonymous 1:20 PM  

P.S. @John V -- Har. Primo BIRL clue.

Better clue back at yah: EENT = "Not quite dark, poetically".

600 1:33 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
quilter1 1:45 PM  

@600: thanks for sharing. My entire life experience with dogs is golden retrievers.

Bird 1:46 PM  

Likes: The puzzle, TEDDIES, BRIGHTS and guest bloggers

Dislikes: EENT (had -ENT so good thing THREE was easy), OUIS (s/b OUIs), RANRIOT (s/b RANamok) and captchas (hard to tell between upper and lower case letters like C, O, S, V, W & X)

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

Thanks to ED I am now envisioning Donna SHALALA over TEDDIES and I cannot swallow enough Milk of Magnesia....


600 2:13 PM  

@John V--LOL (Seems to me that LOL is this blog's equivalent to a "like" button. I'd bemoan the demise of our language, but probably the group who post here aren't doing too much to hasten it.)

@Sfingi--Gotta agree with you about a world absent us, but a quick perusal of dog histories on the AKC website indicates your assumption that humans deliberately bred all small dogs doesn't hold up. The chihuahua, for example, is thought to have descended from a small fox, and the pug, another toy, is considered one of the oldest breeds. Maybe somebody bred them for size before 400 BC; it seems unlikely, though.

@quilter1--I love golden retrievers! The picture in my avatar, Katie, is an Australian Shepherd. They're wonderful too. Actually, I'm not sure I've ever met a dog I didn't like. I know they're out there. I just haven't met any. "A man may smile and bid you hail yet wish you to the devil. But when a good dog wags his tail, you know he's on the level."

But the real reason for this post is to thank @Tobias for noticing the RANDI/BRIGHTS thing. I learn something from this blog pretty much every day, and today I loved learning about the Brights. I knew about James Randi (love Penn and Teller!) but not about the Brights. So thank you, thank you, for starting the strand that led to deeply fascinating new knowledge for me. (And, by the way, I think the group to whom the crossing would matter is getting larger . . . not so "very small" as it once was.)

Three and out.

Lewis 2:13 PM  

Who is Les Nessman?

@evil -- hemotology line made me laugh out loud.

I'm new to the phrase or concept BACKOFTHEENVELOPE. Never heard it. Never did calculations there. Is this something most people do - do quick calculations at the back of an envelope???

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

I gusssssssss this is supposed to be clever, meh v. annoying for me, especially .pdf has no obvious notepad tip off

Anonymous 2:33 PM

Back-of-the-envelope calculation
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A back-of-the-envelope calculation[1] is a rough calculation, typically jotted down on any available scrap of paper such as the actual back of an envelope. It is more than a guess but less than an accurate calculation or mathematical proof.

The defining characteristic of back-of-the-envelope calculations is the use of simplified assumptions.

A similar phrase is "back of a napkin", which is also used in the business world to describe sketching out a quick, rough idea of a business or product. [2]


Also known as SWAGs: Scientific Wild-Ass Guesses (which is worth looking up by itself).


George Lewis 3:27 PM  

Birl on, treedweller!

Zwhatever 3:28 PM  

@John V - "Boy meets girl to do some log-rolling?"

sanfranman59 4:18 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 10:21, 8:54, 1.16, 88%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:46, 4:36, 1.25, 99%, Challenging

Anonymous 4:29 PM  

Goy it all -- usually do but thought this one was dumb. Please do better tomorrow!!!!!

Anonymous 4:53 PM  

How about those BRIGHTS poking through TEDDIES on chilly nights?

Sparky 6:37 PM  

Noted the 17 x 13 right away but did not connect it with shape of envelope. Printed out last night and didn't see the note. Solved easily. HEMeTOLOGY a gimmee I first misspelled.

Found it quite easy. Nice use of elipses. Once I saw the answer was a number the year or the president really didn't matter. Just found the right one from crosses.

Stared at F E N N T E X; no lightbulb over head. Thanks @treedweller for Star Wars review and another nice write up. Off to Googlizims for today. Thanks @Tita.

JenCT 7:28 PM  

@Tita: I knew about caterpillar ANTENNAE, of course!

Caterpillar antennae

Learned a new word: BIRL


retired_chemist 7:58 PM  

@ quilter1, 600 -

Yes, all chihuahuas are shown in the Toy Group in AKC shows, as golden retrievers are shown in the Sporting Group. We breed and show both golden retrievers and pugs (Toy Group) so I have a soft spot for both Groups.

The puzzle - I couldn't care less about the d**n envelope. Fill was pretty good but somewhat crunchy for a Tuesday.

Stamps include many denominations every year and you can't figure out which was the larger number from the year.

Agree that SHALALA is a WTF as clued.

mac 8:04 PM  

Odd puzzle, but it all worked out. I had the most trouble in the brights/ran riot area.

I actually thought the clue and answer of 39A were the hightlight of the puzzle.

@Tita: I must have caused some trouble, then. When there is a printed message on the left top corner of a return envelope, I have often put my return address on the back.....

Anonymous 9:49 PM  

Now I know why I do the puzzle. To get pointed to tangential material as illuminating as that Star Wars review. I am indebted to you Mr. Treedweller.

Julie 10:05 PM  

What is an EENT?
ENT is ears, nose and throat.

Anonymous 10:24 PM  

Will someone please explain what is the 13x17 grid you're talking about? I thought the puzzle was super easy but can't seem to figure that out?..

JenCT 10:29 PM  

@Julie 10:05: Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat

@Anon 10:24: 13 squares down, 17 squares across

600 10:32 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe The Juggler 11:58 PM  

I liked that Randi was crossed by Brights.

pk 12:48 AM  

Thx Treedweller for a great write-up that sparked a lively discussion in the comments, and inspired Evil Doug for one of his best efforts in recent memory!

sanfranman59 1:42 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 6:25, 6:50, 0.96, 31%, Easy-Medium
Tue 10:27, 8:54, 1.17, 89%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:50, 3:40, 1.02, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:44, 4:36, 1.25, 99%, Challenging (3rd highest median solve time of 154 Tuesdays)

Waxy in Montreal 11:39 AM  

From syndiworld: Not so fast! My local paper neglected to print any hint/note concerning the circles and compounded matters by squeezing the 17x13 grid into a square so it didn't really resemble an envelope. So was stuck with a meaningless FENNTEX at puzzle's end. Calling the BBB!

Spacecraft 12:16 PM  

@disconnect: dare I suggest that the '58 stamp might honor Marilyn, not James? Guess not: she wasn't gone yet. But it was the first name I thought of...

To the puzzle: ILIKE! Unfettered by any notepad, and only noticing the very faintly-printed circles after completion, I just went about happily solving. The pattern at the end? OK, I guess, but not the best part. Man, get a load of those downs! And a minimum of junk fill; more Daniel Finan, please!

Texas Solver in Syndi 1:02 PM  

I agree with you @Waxy - my grid is always square. I counted the squares and yes it is 17x13 but it looks like normal. Unless they make square envelopes! AND no note.
@Evil Doug - I'm surprised some of the snooty people on this blog don't ban you! But I loved it! !

Solving in Seattle 1:11 PM  

I had the same experience as @Waxy - no notes in Syndieland. Wrote the letters out and scratched my head. JUMBLE is not my forte.

Until I figured out the Stamp mystery I thought this was kind of a hard Tuesday. I sussed out that it was cents from the SW, then saw the 11A clue. I think that clue made it all too easy.

Had nEglIge before TEDDIES. Hated the 65A clue to SHALALA. Really.

The @SiS lol award of the day goes to @ED. Treedweller threw down the gauntlet and Evil destroyed us.

Solving in Seattle 1:14 PM  

PS, I spent 10 minutes watching the Star Wars - Phantom Menace review that Treedweller posted. If you're at all into how films are made this is worth watching.

Singer 2:36 PM  

The Oregonian did the same thing as Waxy in Montreal's paper. Had no clue what FENNTEX was. Also didn't catch on as to what the elipses meant, but did catch on the answers were numbers. Finished the puzzle correctly, but didn't do the drawing. With the puzzle squeezed horizontally the circles were ovals and the envelope didn't look right at all once I found out from treedweller what the f*** was going on.

Anonymous 5:46 PM  

You know, if you actually used the back of that envelope to do some quick calculations you'd see that the stamps totaled 21 cents (...of 1938 Arthur), not 24 (pictured above; ball dropped).

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

@Waxy, Singer et al. - No note in my local paper either, but I eventually figured out to "connect the dots". Our puzzle was elongated as well: square grid, rectangular "squares", oval "circles", stupid looking "envelope".

When I first saw the ovals I was hunting for some sort of egg theme.

Dirigonzo 6:11 PM  

No note, no envelope shape here either, but still no problem as I forgot all about the faint circles (or ovals, as @Singer pointed out) so I didn't spend any time trying to decode the letters they contained.

NOTV had a better clue today than the last time it appeared, when there was considerable discussion as to whether or not the clue was properly stated. Maybe WS got the message?

I recently posted a piece on my blog about being (almost)lost in AFOG, literally speaking that is.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

Wow, this was an interesting exercise in perception. No note, of course, and the grid was compressed to a square. Somehow I picked up that the letter squares were rectangular but I did not see the circles as ovals. I did have trouble estimating the length (letter count) of words since they looked shorter than normal.

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