World's largest nocturnal primates / SAT 5-26-12 / Avoid work in Britain / Fictional title sch of 1994 comedy film / Local protest acronym / Andean tuber

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: "P.C.U." (46A: Fictional title sch. of a 1994 comedy film) —
PCU is a 1994 comedy film. The film depicts college life at the fictional Port Chester University, and represents "an exaggerated view of contemporary college life...."[3] The film is based on the experiences of writers Adam Leff and Zak Penn at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. //  The story involves preppy pre-freshman (pre-frosh) Tom Lawrence (Chris Young) who visits Port Chester University, a college where fraternities have been outlawed and political correctness is rampant on campus. The film makes heavy use of the political correctness movement as a comedy device. (wikipedia) 
• • •

This one played on the easy side for me, but I can see by the times at the NYT site that it's actually tilting a little tough, so I'm splitting the difference and calling it Normal. I got a couple of good toeholds early ... though, it's weird, the first one involved a series of *wrong* answers. SEX TALK led to Jack-a-LAB led to AMA led to NIMBY (25A: Local protest acronym). Then JUKEBOX (8D: Target of Fonzie's fist bumps) changed LAB to POO (29A: Jack-a-___ (hybrid dog)) and thus AMA to HMO (21D: Subj. in the 2007 documentary "Sicko") and SEX TALK to SEX TIPS (7D: Advice from Dr. Ruth). That's three wrong answers to get my first right answer, and then one gimme (JUKE BOX) to fix all three originally wrong answers. And all in about 20 seconds. I also knew P.C.U. instantly, which gave me CAF (47D: Half-___). That helped (eventually) get me into the bottom of the grid. Everything here felt very much in my wheelhouse. KENOSHA off the "K" (18A: Midwest birthplace of Orson Welles and Don Ameche), CHEX MIX off that second "X" (17A: High-carb party snack) ... answers mostly came quickly. Big hold-up was stupid in retrospect. Had V-E- at beginning of 24D: Like some pullovers and wanted VEENECK. But then got CUB (35A: News newbie), which left me V-EC- and so I couldn't make VEENECK work. But of course that ended up being the answer after all: just spelled V-NECKED. Gah. Lost a good minute or so fumbling around there. Also lost time thinking 27A: Try, informally was FLIER (as in the phrase "to take a FLIER" ... though there FLIER means something more like "risk," but try telling my brain that). Couldn't think of a Rodin sculpture besides The Thinker / Le Penseur (37A: Musée Rodin masterpiece => THE KISS). SPLINES is not in my vocabulary (40D: Thin construction strips). So as you can probably tell, the SW corner (all the way up through V-NECKED) was my most challenging area. But SPIKE (50D: Rail nail) and OCA (58D: Andean tuber) got me PANCAKE (61A: Edible floppy disk?), and I steadily worked my way up from there, with the "G" in FLING / G-SUIT coming in as the final letter.

I should probably add that I liked this puzzle a lot. Bouncy, with interesting clues. AYEAYES!? (63A: World's largest nocturnal primates) Ay ay ay! Wow. That was nuts. The rest, not so nuts.

  • 1A: Accompanier of a thrown tomato ("BOO! HISS!") — Interesting this gets treated as one unit (an "accompanier"). The words do go together; I mean, I had no trouble putting it together. Do people actually say this phrase? Or literally hiss the HISS part? Also, when was the last time anyone threw a tomato, in earnest?
  • 8A: Reddish-orange gem (JACINTH) — word I know only from crosswords. Big, big help today. Got it off the "J-C"
  • 22A: Heart, to Hadrian (COR) — gimme, as was AME (36A: Sartre's soul). 
  • 26A: Avoid work, in Britain (DOSS) — no idea, though I have this feeling it's been in the puzzle before.
  • 64A: ___ Beer Night (1974 baseball promotion that ended in a riot) (TEN-CENT) — I thought it was DETROIT, but that was the anti-disco rally... not sure why clue doesn't indicate that it was held in Cleveland. Seems pertinent.
  • 2D: His opening line is "Tis better as it is" (OTHELLO) — not much question here, as I had the OTH- before ever reading the clue.
  • 5D: Brand with a paw print in its logo (IAMS) — We're a Eukanuba household (same parent company as IAMS, it turns out).
  • 30D: Friend of Pumbaa (SIMBA) — as with so many answers today, I had multiple letters in place before ever seeing the clue, which made them fall quickly. This is why you build off the answers you already have (if you can) rather than jumping around the grid.
I'm out of here for five days. Taking the girl to CO to see my family. Not sure which write-ups I'm doing and which write-ups subs are doing yet. You'll get what you get and you won't throw a fit. Or you will, who knows?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:06 AM  

Medium for me too and pretty zippy...TENCENT Beer, THEKISS,  FLING, FUNFACT,  SEXTIPS...  NW and SE easy-med., NE and SW med-tough, hence med.  

Erasures:  SpawN for SCION and Factoid for FUNFACT.

Spent a fair amount of time trying to remember Mrs. Cs first name for 8d.

Potential tough crosses:  PCU/SPLINES and DOSS/DEMERIT which was my last fill.

I liked it a lot.   Nice pair of end week puzzles!

Pete 12:25 AM  

Why do people cross breed dogs on purpose? What could the point of a Jack-a-Poo be? Create a nervous and hyper critter? Great idea.

Buy a breed you like, that has the inate temperment you desire, or, better yet, adopt. Leave the Frankenstein shit to fiction.

Oh, liked the puzzle.

The Bard 12:49 AM  

Othello > Act I, scene II

[Enter OTHELLO, IAGO, and Attendants with torches]

IAGO: Though in the trade of war I have slain men,
Yet do I hold it very stuff o' the conscience
To do no contrived murder: I lack iniquity
Sometimes to do me service: nine or ten times
I had thought to have yerk'd him here under the ribs.

OTHELLO: 'Tis better as it is.

syndy 1:33 AM  

nope,no where no way no score! the NW ate my homework and spit me out.I liked the rest of it until I came to a full stop and died there-oh well!

Anoa Bob 2:15 AM  

Yes, I actually say BOO HISS for 63A, "World's largest nocturnal primates". I tried humans. people, homo sapiens, nothing fit. Here I sit at the keyboard late, late in the night and I'm way bigger than any stinking AYE AYES!

Of course I say this AS A JOKE. This is a puzzle that Mr. Wentz doesn't have to SPIFF UP at all. Good stuff already abounds in every quadrant. V NECKED along side G SUIT is primo! My favorite is 33A X TIMES Y!!!! (Acme, I'm learning!!)

Is that a shout out to a certain commenter at 39D?

chefwen 2:47 AM  

TWO new words for me JACINTH and AYE-AYES. Had to look them up after the fact just to make sure they were right, and they were. Sitting outside enjoying a glass (or two) of wine, asked my husband to look up a couple of things on his Ipad, he refused saying "I think you should do this without any outside help." I said, "It's Saturday, I'm not that smart." Kept plugging away and after my last fill with AYE AYES, I got to say 49A I DID IT! He gave me one of those spousal, one eyebrow raised looks that says SO THERE, told you!

Nice mention of our good friend ED at 39D.

Starlit at 16D and Fort Ord at 41A were absolutely no help in my solving experience. Not easily fixed, but fixed they were.

Being a former Cheesehead 18A was a total gimme.

Went to a couple of TEN CENT beer nights at Milwaukee County Stadium, utter chaos.

Ayeaye clickon michaels 4:36 AM  

Ayeayeaye, didn't get the whole SW...
So dnf, but loved the other 3/4.
Exact deal as @rex:.Veeneck spelled out, FLIer, couldn't think past the thinker and gates of hell, and it's my favorite museum!

Had tons of fun thinking about edible floppy disk...bologna, tortilla, some kind of chip...

Oh, and as Joel continues reign of terror on Jeopardy! The categories are rife with puzzle synchronicity!
An entire category on words in songs spelled out.
First one was, to be expected, R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
No D-I-V-O-R-C-E or T-R-O-U-B-L-E, but four other songs, that I won't spoil...

Rob C 7:05 AM  

I think the 'Disco Sucks' night, or something like that was held in Chicago by the White Sox, not in Detroit as @Rex says.

Puzzle was great-lots of nice fresh scrabbly answers. Just went to xwordinfo to check. This puzzle has 12 first time words and a "scrabble score" that is significantly higher than the average.

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

DOSS is avoid work? Not in my British vocabulary. BOO HISS

foodie 8:23 AM  

I really would love to see a scan of Rex's brain (by FMRI) while he is solving. He described his 3 errors that led to a correct answer and mentioned it took about 20 second. That sort of processing speed is just plain amazing to me. Also, the ability to switch gears and not let one answer, no matter how plausible, block another. It's juggling numerous thoughts and keeping them all in the air until the pattern is fully assembled. Remarkable.

I, on the other hand, plodded along, in two chunks (last night and this morning) and got through it with some medium level cheating-- i.e. I did not seek the answers from google or Acrosslite, but I checked to correctness of answers in a few strategic places as I went along. Of course it's better to solve without such assistance, but I tell myself that it helps me improve. Self-deception is good for the soul.

Great puzzle, methinks. Balanced, with cool words, FUNFACTS and good clues. AYE AYE, I say.

RodeoToad 8:27 AM  

It's been a long time since a NYTimes puzzle has kicked my butt so thoroughly. I don't think I got a single complete answer on the first pass, and I had only fleeting bursts of momentum. I got all but the SW corner and then cheated by revealing TRIMSPA (never heard of it; thought it'd be DR-something). Still don't know what an AYE AYE is. Never heard of DOSS or SPLINE. Forgot the Andean tuber when I needed it most (I always think it's YMA, because it looks like "yam" and because YMA SUMAC sounds like a real tuber.) I also always forget it's not IAMB ("IAMS").

Fair puzzle and some really great cluing.

evil doug 8:45 AM  

Yeah, Disco Demolition Night was in Chi-town's Comiskey Park. FM shock jocks Steve Dahl and Garry Meier turned what was supposed to be a gate of 12,000 for a Thursday night double-header into 90,000 wackos showing up. They blew up disco records between games, fans rushed the field, explosions going everywhere, bases being stolen, Harry Caray going apoplectic---eventually the 2nd game was wisely called.

Missed the Ibo/jacinth cross. With those African clues I figure there's a 'b' in there somewhere, but I settled on Obo/jaconth.

Had the GS---, and wondered: Could the g-spot prevent blackouts? Never wore a full g-suit, but we'd wear 'fast pants' on the T-38: Pressurized the lower half of the body/legs to squeeze blood toward the head and avoid passing out during high g maneuvers.

Spent many a day working with the 82nd Airborne at Ft. Bragg---airdrop exercises, so forth. Happy Memorial Day to our lost heroes everywhere.

PCU is a great little movie. The write-up fails to mention that it represented some fine early work from Jeremy Piven, David Spade, Jon Favreau and the always terrific Jessica Walter.

Enjoyed the symmetry of "stylish"-"make stylish" and "make unbearable"-"it may be unbearable".


evil doug 8:55 AM  

Wanted 'Sasquatch' for biggest primates. He's out there. You'll see. Besides, "Ayeayes" doesn't sound mean enough.

ChexMix: Two-x answers are cool.

"Rivet" had me going. You ever wonder about all the miles of wire and lines and rivets and plumbing and fluids, those airplanes are complicated things. Gotta be nuts to go up in one....

Oh: I call 'em 'v-neck' sweaters; never heard the extra 'ed'


Smitty 8:58 AM  

Flew through 90%. The other 10% took 90% of my finish time.

ArtLvr 9:01 AM  

I too had heard of DOSS down, as in sleep rough, but not doss around! As for the crossbreed dogs, my daughter chose a cockapoo for her family as the least likely to aggravate allergies -- and it worked out well.

jackj 9:06 AM  

Peter Wentz and Will Shortz have given us clues in this puzzle which are as confounding as any in memory which means the puzzle was as delightfully challenging as any in memory and a good time could be had by all!

The challenges were everywhere; my only gimmes to start the puzzle were FTBRAGG and THEKISS, but the best was yet to come.

FUNFACT when FACTOID seemed a natural? XTIMESY for the bit of algebra? DEMERIT from “Point out?”, GLUEDON, HEARSAY, APERY (not Renoir’s Impressionism for sure), SPAY, SPIFFUP? (Trying not to get carried away but could have easily mentioned 80% of the entries).

I will never be stumped in the future when asked for the birthplace of Orson Welles or Don Ameche. KENOSHA, indeed!

And while the AYEAYES sounds like a dreaded gastro-intestinal ailment, a Wikipedia check shows that they are lemurs from Madagascar which are considered such bad luck, (not to mention, ugly), that they are killed on sight and left hanging for travelers to carry away the carcass and their evil spirits.

Even with rarities like those two answers, there were no Naticks, Messrs. Shortz and Wentz having carefully clued the crosses with gettable entries and while a lookup was in order after the boxes were all filled, there was no need to trigger friend Google while solving.

This one earns a choice slot on my Hit Parade. Thanks, Peter and Will!!

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

I believe that JUKE BOX was in a diner....


orangeblossomspecial 9:28 AM  

Sister Rosetta Tharpe's rendition of 15A "UP ABOVE my head". She was a talented guitarist also, as you'll see.

Long before the 10 cent beer night, hostesses charged by the dance. Ruth Etting recorded Rogers & Hart's "TEN CENTS a dance". It was later reprieved by Doris Day in the biopic about Etting.

Want to see some hair? 42D reminded me of the BeeGee's "I started a JOKE".

Sir Hillary 9:34 AM  

Gotta say, an impressive grid and set of clues. Unfortunately for me today, impressive ≠ enjoyable. I didn't have much fun solving this one. Not sure why - maybe the grid constraint allowing for nothing longer than seven letters, most of which were multiple-word answers. Felt like too many "2/5" or "5/2" combos (ATPEACE, UPABOVE, SOTHERE, FTBRAGG, SPIFFUP, SWOOPIN, CLICKON, NOSCORE, TVHOSTS, GLUEDON). I think there were even more "3/4" or "4/3" combos.

Again, can't figure out why I didn't like it more. I'll chalk it up to my own bad mood and move on.

Sir Hillary 9:38 AM  

Forgot to mention how unfortunate it is that SIMBA and TIMON have two letter placements in common. That hurt me for a while.

jberg 9:45 AM  

Man, this was hard - partly because I couldn't remember that JUKEBOX for too long, but mainly because of clues that weren't quite right, like the aforementioned DOSS - never heard that mean anything but sleep. I mean, if you're sleeping, you're not working (unless you're a SERTA mattress tester), but it's not quite right. Similarly, BACK OFF is fairly aggressive, not "I don't want to fight, man." So it was hard to accept those two, and really hard to accept POO, even though I thought of it right away - I just didn't want there to be such a dog. What's the Jack part stand for? Jackal? Jack Russell? APERY for "Impressionism?" is a bit of a stretch, too.

On the other hand, the clues for 12D and 61A were brilliant.

I grew up in the Dairy State, and sort of thought those two guys were born there, but I wanted Madison - so I kept doubting IBO, even though that was the only acceptable answer there. (If I'd remembered the JUKEBOX, this would have been a gimme.) Similarly, I kept looking at 37A, thinking 'thinker' and wondering why the K was in the wrong square.

As for 31A, "Green acres?" why the ? - it seems seems too straightforward for that. And what is an OPEN AIR headphone (3D)?

Anyway, I was glad to finish - in fact, I was about to give up when APERY popped into my head.

SethG 9:48 AM  

Yes, a 50s Retro Diner.

GET BENT was a catchphrase? Who knew?

mac 9:49 AM  

Great puzzle! Raced through the NW, steadily did the SE, limped through the NE and came to a halt in the SW. I also couldn't get that thinker out of my head. What's with all the k's in this one?

Dracula especially made things tough, and not ever having heard of ayeayes didn't help.

I work with gems, but I've never had a jacinth in the house. It's a zirkon, and I don't think it is used much nowadays.

I did know doss, cor blimey!

Lot of fun, especially with a lot of the clues.

captcha: otatesa 37,211,388!?

joho 10:16 AM  

I was hopelessly lost in the NE so DNF but really liked all the rest.

I couldn't get away from thinking "Point out?" had something to do with spear IT or skewer IT. I wanted to stab something.

Yesterday DUDEUP today SPIFFUP.

Thinking about it, it's kind of cool that a tutu is made of TULLE.

Great puzzle, Peter Wentz, perfect Saturday toughness. And too tough for me!

joho 10:19 AM  

Oh, and @ArtLvr, my avatar is a Cockapoo and he's a sweetheart. We love him to bits!

Ulrich 10:23 AM  

With a grid that has all the possible symmetries of a square, I HAD to finish this, as a matter of principle. I did it (almost--couldn't get the C of CAF b/c I had never heard of the movie--fair enough). Learned about aye ayes afterwards and am glad for this addition to my store of useless knowledge (the only one that's really fun, by definition).

And @foodie: I marvelled, too, when I read Rex: I had made exactly the same mistakes at the start and it took me for ever (well, a while) to recover, not to speak of the SW, which I finally conquered in the early morning hours, when the aye ayes were already tucked away in their little beds, wherever they are...

Tita 10:26 AM  

Like mac, I flew through the NW, steady through the SE, so much so that I thought that we were back to easy Saturdays. Ha! Then limped through SW, and came to rest in NE - DNF. Needed google and Rex to bail me out there.

But great fill, great clues.

@Foodie - last night I was reading an old Scientific American, and the back page compared processing speeds of brains and computers - a cat's brain was about a million times faster than an iPad...

I would love to have the "brain scans of this group on today's puzzle...
My solve heat map shows 4 disctinct "aha" moments...getting "Make unbearable" opened a small floodgate, Try,m informally, led to another flurry of answers, then googling KENOSHA finally helped me finish the NE.

(OMG _ my capchas are eminently readable!! And one of them is actually an english word... What happened!!)

Tita 10:30 AM  

Ha ha, @Joho - M&A must love tUtUs made of tUlle!

ALso want to say that I had Half-mAN before Half-CAF...kinda like Half-man, half-horse, or half-goat...

ANd @acme - the Rodin Museum is one of my favorites too! Who knew wigmaking was so lucrative...

Good long weekend to all - we are including a memorial to the fallen in our little corner of CT tomorrow.

r.alphbunker 10:35 AM  

My wife and a friend were talking about Klimt while I was doing the puzzle. When I got to {Musee Rodin Masterpiece} I had the K from VNECKED. The Klimt work THE KISS fit and I wrote it in thinking that the Musee Rodin had work other than sculptures. So here was a wrong answer that was right.

A wrong answer that was wrong was liter for {One of about a million on a jet liner}. Post-googling indicated that a 747 can carry 216000 liters of fuel so I was only one order of magnitude off.

Did not find any right answers that were wrong but someone here probably will.

All the rest were right answers that were right.

Zwhatever 10:58 AM  

I once had a girlfriend from KENOSHA so I have no idea why the I-94 Wisconsin town my brain stuck on was Racine, even with that Wisconsin JUKEBOX in place.

@Evil Doug forgot to mention that the visiting team was, indeed, the Detroit Tigers. The whole between game debacle was shown live on the Tiger Network (WKZO in west Michigan at the time). The Sox forfeited the second game.

First word was CHEXMIX, making the NW very easy. The NE was medium for me. The south, yikes. I just could not get a toe hold. AS A Jest prevented me from going with my first instinct of CLICK ON. DNF

quilter1 11:25 AM  

I solved the SE corner first and tussled along from there. I'll call it medium to challenging.

Not much more to say except I'm making a rhubarb pie today. Why is rhubarb not in the crossword more?

I had to refresh the captchas three times before being able to read them. They've changed the format again. Let's see if I got it right.

foodie 11:47 AM  

Do those of you in the know think that there is a human being whose job description is to dream up capcha formats and algorithms?

It's possible, right? I mean someone was telling me that he had passed his masters degree in computer science but was stuck because "the thesis format check" lady was giving him trouble. This person's only job is to check printed margins and indents on theses and dissertations for the whole university (not mine, but I wouldn't be surprised if we had one)...

Masked and Anonymo5Us 12:11 PM  

Wanted MISTERC for 8-Down. JACINTH is a gem of a word, but not a combination of letters that have ever passed before my eyeballs before. Most dog breeds have POO in 'em, I find. Love 'em, despite that.

@31: CO is mighty nice territory. One word for you: KEYSTONE. thUmbsUp.

@Tita Darlin'--tUlle tUtUs are indeed sUperb, but I BACKOFF for Jethro TUll tUtUs. tUlle mUUmUUs would be a 10.

Puz put up a fight, at my place. One wonders what the seed entries were. Will accept any answer except JACINTH.

Bassetwrangler 12:55 PM  

Always have heard it as "duded up" so went first with "doll up" and the obvious factoid. Madagascar must be a fascinating place for a biologist though I hated to read that superstitious natives consider the ayeayes evil omens and kill them on sight.

Lewis 12:56 PM  

I love the look of the grid. I loved POO at 29A and wanted something clever that went with it at 46A, but can't think of anything that would go there.

Loved this puzzle. Just what Saturday should be.

JenCT 12:57 PM  

@Rex: maybe you would hear BOOHISS if a heckler brought their cat with them?...

Even geologist hubby never heard of JACINTH.

Lots & lots to like in this puzzle, but a big fat DNF for me; oh well.

archaeoprof 12:59 PM  

@Foodie: I think the "thesis format lady" is in charge of the captchas.

And I think my cat's brain is a thousand times faster than mine.

NE was hardest for me, but like @Ulrich, I HAD to finish this work of art.

Everything I like in a Saturday.

Thank you, Peter Wentz.

John V 1:40 PM  

AYEAYE? Nay nay. Ditto Jacinth. Fonz is Happy Days, I guess? Never saw the show. TRIMSPA totally new to me, too. Didn't get MAL. Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, is was a pretty good play. So, a "minor" DNF, which I suppose is okay for a Saturday. Tennis in this impossible humidity this morning took a bit off me, too.

JaxInL.A. 1:44 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JaxInL.A. 1:48 PM  

I'm seeking consolation for a dismal puzzle performance by making edible floppy disks with fresh blueberries.

I have only ever seen the gem spelled JACINTHe.

Happy Memorial Day. Looking for a good parade to celebrate,

Rookie 1:50 PM  

Could someone please explain how ADAPTED INTRO is MAL?


Sparky 2:29 PM  

DNF--holes in NE. Docents for 13D. CANE only correct effort. Tripped up by xTImeSy. NW fell first and happy. Moved right along. Liked NIMBY. @Pete: First thought with a Jack-a-POO you'd have a nervous wreck who didn't shed.

The Thinker does come to mind and I wanted Penseer or the like. When I finally figured out the correct form for VNECKED THEKISS was clear.

I had heard of DOSS house but never the implication that the poor avoided work.

Have a good trip Rex. Happy weekend one and all.

KarenSampsonHudson 2:37 PM  

@Pete, we have a rescue dog from the SPCA that's a "designer breed"---Jack Russell/Queensland heeler. It turned out we were his third set of adoptive owners since his very active, very willful temperament proved to be too much for the others. But we love him dearly, and he's super-smart, super- energetic, and fanatically loyal.

fergus 2:47 PM  

Yeah, DOSS didn't seeme right to me either for the British avoiding work. SKIVE would have come closer. I think of a DOSSER certainly as a lazy person, but more like one who wouldn't even think of work in the first place.

Sue McC 3:38 PM  

Fun Saturday...a nice balance of challenge and cleverness. It took me a while to understand why GSUIT worked. I knew the letters were right, but kept thinking of the blackout of the clue in terms of power. Then just as I was going to ask here for help, it clicked. Sometimes I can be a doofus.

DigitalDan 3:44 PM  

It pays not to be TOO adept at an area of knowledge to work these. For "bit of algebra" I wanted term, or expression, or axiom, or factor(ing), or . . . but no, X times Y. Ugh.

Two Ponies 4:21 PM  

Like @ fergus I only know skiving for avoiding work. By the way, where have you been lately?
@ evil doug, interesting about the "fast pants". When I was a paramedic we used MAST pants for trauma patients for the same reason. Sowas your term a play on the other name?

Wow, I have a real word as a captcha too.

Loren Muse Smith 4:37 PM  

I started this at 1A with BOO HISS and filled like a bat out of hell for a long time, thinking that everyone would be griping that it was too easy. Right. I DNF because of the NE, but I still enjoyed it.

@Sir Hillary – I actually liked all the multi-word answers. I, too, had “timon” off the gimme AME before I hit my head and changed it to SIMBA.

“Olaf” messed me up for a while, and like our EVIL ONE, I questioned the ED on VNECKED. Once we had a flyer announcing an AAU basketball tournament. The coaches were admonished to wear collard shirts.

POO, BOO, SWOOP. Cool! Groovy! Oomph, too! Nice job, Peter.

michael 5:16 PM  

Lots of stuff on the edge of my brain -- aye aye, doss, splinee, ten cent + things that were never in my brain but were gettable from crosses -- jacinth, trimspa.

Second straight excellent weekend puzzle... (maybe I'm saying that because I got them both with some work)

lawprof 5:25 PM  

Just finishing a Saturday with no mistakes makes my weekend. Writeovers: alpo/IAMS; dracula/EVILONE; fleeced/VNECKED; olaf/OLAV (its always one or the other, and I'm inevitably wrong on the first pass). Potential Natick at PCU/CAF crossing, but guessed right. Query: does a guess -- even if it's right -- merit a DNF? Nah.

Martin 5:37 PM  

For those objecting to DOSS -- remember that language is always evolving, even in England.

Norm 5:51 PM  

Excellent find, Martin!

fergus 6:03 PM  

Hey Martin -- let's be really pedantic and say that I'm objecting to Avoid in the Clue. As the Guardian citation indicates, DOSS is the ultimate in inertia (assuming a stationary start). To actually avoid requires some conscious effort. The dossers I knew of during my spell in England were those who were hardly considering employment, perhaps even that of their mental capacities. The ultimate layabouts.

And two ponies -- I always get around to doing the puzzle, and often have nothing much to add to the observations already made. It seems like there are quite a few of us who used to comment frequently here, but have now mostly left the stage.

sanfranman59 6:04 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:32, 6:50, 0.96, 31%, Easy-Medium
Tue 10:35, 8:53, 1.19, 91%, Challenging
Wed 8:58, 11:48, 0.76, 5%, Easy (7th lowest median solve time of 150 Wednesdays)
Thu 14:05, 18:58, 0.74, 11%, Easy
Fri 29:25, 24:48, 1.19, 83%, Challenging
Sat 33:36, 29:30, 1.14, 80%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:44, 3:40, 1.02, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:27, 4:36, 1.19, 93%, Challenging
Wed 4:59, 5:53, 0.85, 15%, Easy
Thu 7:25, 9:21, 0.79, 21%, Easy-Medium
Fri 15:10, 12:16, 1.24, 87%, Challenging
Sat 17:47, 16:45, 1.06, 69%, Medium-Challenging

Martin 6:35 PM  


This putative layabout is a young woman graduating from law school who feels "like spending a year doing nothing."

I don't know how it was for you, but most young grads need to engage in the process of finding a job. Very few find themselves employed despite their best efforts to prevent it happening.

In other words, resolving to spend a year doing nothing and avoiding work seem a very fine hair to split, even for a pedant. And that's coming from one who's been called pedantic by some of the best.

Unknown 10:57 PM  

"Turn of the century" -- I was so sure that the trick was to know that new centuries begin with the 1, not the 0, that I expected a specific date and not any year sometime near any change of century. That is 2000 ended one century, and 2001 began the next. So I filled in M_I, expecting MMI. Well, never you mind. Rather than a date for the 19th or 20th centuries, we got MCC, the last date of the 12th century. I guess scholars of the era found something significant going on for that turn of the century.

Dirigonzo 9:00 AM  

I gave up and went to bed last night with VeEneck and the resulting mess still in my grid. When I picked it up again this morning it took about 5 minutes to straighten everything out and finish the puzzle.

I'll be driving the DAV van in the Memorial Day parade here tomorrow - have a wonderful holiday weekend and please take time to remember those who sacrificed everything for their nation.

Badir 1:05 PM  

Wow, that's crazy: San Fran Man's stats indicate that this puzzle was harder than yesterday's but yesterday's crushed me and took more than two-and-a-half times as long!

Electric Dog Fence 10:54 PM  

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Anonymous 12:20 AM  

Doss, means to sleep, but in a rough, unkempt, dirty way, so you might doss down for the night in a ditch, or in a Doss-house, where homeless people spend the night as an alternative to sleeping on the streets. So, Doss is wrong! NE corner almost impossible. Jacinth/apery/Kenosha ? Not fun!

Spacecraft 1:20 PM  

Just couldn't get it going. Fatal error at tIMon. Now, why should I assume that "Friend of Pumbaa" would be his constant companion? Oh, no. As the landlady in Groundhog Day said, "That wouldn't be today." You see, that kind of clue is deliberately fashioned to derail the solver. Well, you did it. And now here I sit amid the twisted metal wreckage of a DNF. Satisfied?

DMGrandma 2:56 PM  

Wanted 1A to be "catcall", but fortunately resisted because I couldn't make it work for any acrosses. Finally got a toehold with JEB and worked out for there. Joined others with the FACTOID blip, but worked it all out. Ended with an error where an unknown gem crossed an African people I confidently mis-remembered as EBO. Won't make that mistake again!

The "mainlanders" may have been looking at Memorial Day, but we are close to July 4th. Looking forward to the celebration and fireworks.

Idahoconnie 3:57 PM  

I almost finished the puzzle with some googling. I looked up gems but the sites never mentioned jacinth so I had a DNF with just that word. I know this is a stupid question as I've been following Rex for a while. What do naticks and captchas mean? (Evil Doug, don't boo hiss at me. I'm a cub.)

Anonymous 4:44 PM  

Really? In all this time nobody has noticed the subtle X-word theme? Aside from the X shaped pattern in the grid, there is a 7-letter X answer in each of the four quadrants. You've got CHEX MIX in the NW; X TIMES Y in the NE; THE KISS (X)in the SW and TEN (X) CENT in the SE.

Tita 5:03 PM  

@Idahoconnie...I think beach is in Rex's faq...basically it's a crossing of 2 totally obscure, unfair, and unknowable answers. Read the faq for the full story.

Capchas are the infuriating letters you have to enter when you part to prove you are not a robot.we all hate them .
Wiki it if you want to know what it stands for, etc..

@anon...interesting about the X's.

Tita 5:07 PM  

Ugh...more you syndilanders know why I hate posting from my phone...
Please replace -beach- with -natick- above...

Ginger 5:17 PM  

@Idahoconnie - Check out rex's FAQ at the top of the page. Lots of great information there.

The AYEAYE is familiar to me, but I hesitated because they're really quite small (15-18 inches + tail) and I thought there must be a larger nocturnal primate. Never heard of DOSS, JACINTH (thought jasper) or TRIMSPA. Took a long time to lose Factoid. In fact, my paper looked like the bottom of @JenCT 's chicken coop. And, even with all the write overs it was a major DNF.

@Anonymous 4:44 - Good catch, all the exes.

Don't know if this post will even be seen since it's so late in syndiland. Nevertheless, I wish you all a good week-end!

G 5:25 PM  

@Tita It's nice to hear from a 'realtime' poster here in the timewarp of Syndiland. I enjoy your comments.

Captcha really! ryoneyt 55 PIS

Dirigonzo 8:09 PM  

@Anony 4:44Pm - given the number of Xes that I have, I'm surprised that I missed that component of the grid. I echo @Ginger's "Good catch".

@Ginger - It's never too late to leave a comment in syndiland; email updates let many of us (including prime-timers like @Tita) see your comment no matter when you post it.

Anonymous 4:51 PM  

had vee neck at 24 down which led to suck it at 49across. pretty much down hill from there.

Anonymous 5:08 PM  

please, what is mal 53 across and how is it an adapted intro? Since no one has complained about it I am probably in the "if it'd been a snake, it woulda bit me" category, but I need to be released.

Thank you.

Dirigonzo 5:24 PM  

@Anony 5:08 PM - Adapted intro? as a clue is looking for a prefix (intro) for the word "adapted", thus MALadapted works. (It helps if you are called that a lot, as I am.)

Zwhatever 8:49 PM  

@anon 5:08 pm - @Dirigonzo beat me to it.

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