Maiden name of Harry Potter's mother / WED 6-6-12 / Longfellow bell town / Printing daggers / Lucasfilm aircraft / TV star who homered off Koufax 1963 / Mixologist's unit / Rapa locale of many monoliths

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Constructor: Gary Cee

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: FLIP / SIDE (1A: With 65-Across, part of a record ... or what each of this puzzle's five long Across answers has?) — letter string "EDIS" appears in five theme answers

Word of the Day: Hank IBA (22A: Basketball Hall of Fame coach Hank) —
Henry Payne "Hank" Iba (pronounced /ˈaɪbə/; August 6, 1904 – January 15, 1993) was an Americanbasketball and baseball coach. [...] After coaching stints at Maryville Teachers' College (now Northwest Missouri State University) and theUniversity of Colorado, Iba came to Oklahoma A&M College in 1934. He stayed at Oklahoma A&M, renamed Oklahoma State University in 1957, for 36 years until his retirement after the 1969–70 season. For most of his tenure at A&M/OSU, he doubled as athletic director. Additionally, Iba coached OSU's baseball team from 1934 to 1941.

Iba's teams were methodical, ball-controlling units that featured weaving patterns and low scoring games. Iba's "swinging gate" defense (a man-to-man with team flow) was applauded by many, and is still effective in today's game. He was known as "the Iron Duke of Defense." Iba is thought to be one of the toughest coaches in NCAA history. He was a very methodical coach, and he always wanted things done perfectly.
Iba's Aggies became the first to win consecutive NCAA titles (1945 and 1946). His 1945–46 NCAA champions were led by Bob Kurland, the game's first seven-foot player. They beat NYU in the 1945 finals and North Carolina in the 1946 finals. He was voted coach of the year in both seasons. His 1945 champions defeated National Invitation Tournament champion, DePaul, and 6'9" center George Mikan in a classic Red Cross Benefit game.
• • •
Mixed feelings. Theme idea is cute, and the theme answers are pretty solid, so all's good on that front. The fill seems kind of dire, though. I realize that some of this is the result of a fairly dense theme and grid construction that is heavily restrictive (see the bad and, not coincidentally, theme-dense east and west sections of the grid). Still, there's more ick than slick here. Didn't know PCPS could be plural? Also didn't know INCL and ENCL were allowed to share the same grid. I stared at IBA for a while thinking "that has to be wrong." But no. No one ever wants to see Longfellow's bell town, and only a select few are going to be thrilled with the OBELI (47D: Printing daggers). But It's All About The Theme these days, and this one is solid. Interesting. Just fine.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Puerto Rico, affectionately, with "the" (ENCHANTED ISLAND) 
  • 25A: Malady named after a Connecticut town (LYME DISEASE)
  • 36A: London's West End, e.g. (THEATRE DISTRICT)
  • 43A: Record collector's curio (PICTURE DISC)
  • 57A: Lucasfilm aircraft (JEDI STARFIGHTER)

It's strange to me that this grid contains a mere 74 words (slightly on the low side for a Wednesday) and yet has so few interesting longer answers and so damned much ugly short stuff. The grid is just carved up in this way that allows the theme answers to work but also maximizes short fill pain. ROSWELL is common but decent, and DELAWARE is fine (though it turns out I can't spell it—DELEWARE!?) (52A: State with just three counties), and I actually like FILLMORE (not a statement you're going to hear that often) (20A: Last Whig president), but that's pretty weak tea overall. And MALE SEX (23A: What the Mars symbol symbolizes) ...  that phrase really wants another word to follow it. Like ROLE, maybe, or TOY. Or ORGAN or DRIVE. Google it in quotation marks. It really doesn't like to stand (!) alone.

  • 31A: Rapa ___ (locale of many monoliths) (NUI) — "Rapa NUI" was a movie. From the '90s. That is how I know it. The good thing about the crossword—it doesn't ask you *how* you know things. "I learned it from the back of a cereal box / a Paula Abdul song / 'Melrose Place.'" Crossword don't care.
  • 11D: Maiden name of Harry Potter's mother (EVANS) — ouch. Hard core HP nerds will rejoice. I read all those damned books and still didn't know one. Fairly crossed. No harm done.
  • 26D: Disney tune subtitled "A Pirate's Life for Me" ("YO HO") — that's a real song? Not just the song that plays during Pirates of the Caribbean (the actual theme park ride)? Wow. Looks like someone took off with two of the Os from YOO HOO!
  • 27D: TV star who homered off Koufax in a 1963 episode (MR. ED) — I'm inclined to disbelieve that a horse could do that.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:07 AM  

Of course Mr. Ed couldn't *really* hit a homer off of Koufax. Koufax just laid a 85mph BP fastball in there for art's sake.

jae 12:17 AM  

Easy Wed. for me.  Started at 1d and just kept going.  No erasures and no tough crosses.  A. fair amount of crosswordese...ATRI, SRA ERLE, VENI, AROD... plus the ENCL/INCL pair plus the lack of zip puts this one in the meh column for me.  I did like the theme, however. 

Obscurity of the day:  Hank IBA.

Anonymous 12:17 AM  

How do you know that 74 words is slightly on the low side for a Wednesday. Or is that just a guess?

Matthew G. 12:20 AM  

Wilbur was stealing signs.

This was super-easy for a Wednesday -- I finished in substantially less than my Tuesday time.

Only thing that threw me off was JEDI STARFIGHTER, because I didn't remember a ship by that particular name from the many Star Wars toys I had in my youth. Now I see that it's a class of ship not introduced until the second and third prequel films, when I was two decades older and no longer paying close attention. Perhaps they're made somewhere in the ARA system.

syndy 12:38 AM  

I could not figure out how these things had SIDEs and now I know? UGH! the fill ?double UGH! this gets a "fine" and yesterday's got dissed? I don't get it!this here is a DULL PICKLE!

Rube 12:41 AM  

This guy did seem quite easy, even if I did take a nap when about 80% complete.

Not uncommonly, I didn't try to figure out the theme before coming here. Flipping SIDE is pretty subtle to me.

I'm sure someone will explain the Shrek answer, ANI. I have no idea, but then again, I never heard of two of the other 3 letter answers, IBA and NUI.

Only writeover was PCPS/aCid. OBELI is my WOTD.

pk (aka dull pickle) 12:42 AM  

More medium than easy for me. Was happy to see the Jedi Starfighter arise from the mist of crosses. Liked the theme answers, tho had no idea what the flip side business was about until I came here.

Never saw Mr. Ed, clue nor answer, tho I dearly loved him as a child.

As for Coach Iba, glad his legacy is still alive, although most of us weren't yet born when he was coaching and aren't that interested in sports.

Had no idea about Lily Potter's maiden name, even tho I also read all of the HP books. Even dragged down the Deathly Hallows volume off the shelf to see if it was mentioned in that last prologue chapter, but no it wasn't. I know that is cheating, but so is googling. As a matter of interest, how many of y'all kids came to know Rex thru googling for crossword answers? (I did - I think it was some Russian river.)

Anonymous 12:46 AM  

@Rube Adding AN I makes Shrek Shre[i]k.

pk 12:48 AM  

No "oompa-loompa" dwarves video?

John 1:00 AM  

I immediately put in FIFTYFIRSTSTATE and MILLENIUMFALCON both of which fit but threw me off. Once I got the theme the rest was over.

Evan 1:51 AM  

This was a strange solving experience for me. I started in the northwest, and as soon as I had FL-- at 1-Across I just threw down SIDE at 65-Across, then stayed down in that corner and worked my way back up again. It's rare that I abandon the top-left corner for another part of the grid unless I can't figure anything out up there.

On a related note, since I was in the southeast at the beginning, I suspect I'm not alone when I say that JEDI STARFIGHTER was completely hidden to me for a very long time (as @Matthew G attests). I needed almost all of the crosses too. I can remember the names of a fair number of Star Wars ships. TAI Fighter (which is what I kept wanting it to be since I started with --------FIGHTER), Millennium Falcon, X-Wing, Y-Wing, Star Destroyer....hell, I even knew that the giant walking machines on Hoth were called AT-AT's. But JEDI STARFIGHTER? Never heard of it. As I found out, the actual term itself made its debut in "Attack of the Clones," not the original trilogy, which probably explains why I'd never heard of the term before now -- because I've since repressed my memories of Episodes 1-3.


I actually learned about Rex when I tried my hand at constructing puzzles for the first time a few years ago. I didn't know about programs like Crossword Compiler or sites like Cruciverb, or Xwordinfo, or OneLook at the tim. So when I ran into trouble with a corner and didn't know what words would fit, I started typing into Google terms like "six-letter words that begin with E and end with Y" or something like that, and would sometimes add "New York Times" and "crossword" in the search bar. That's probably what did it, because on one chance occasion, I found this website, and have been a steady reader ever since.

Evan 1:56 AM  

Also, @Matthew G already beat me to the punch on explaining the origin of JEDI STARFIGHTER, as well as the fact that we both knew the ships from the original trilogy much better. But I explained my disdain for the second trilogy in stronger terms. So I've got that going for me.

retired_chemist 2:11 AM  

Easy-medium here too.

Didn't bother to think about the theme until I was done. Stared at the long answers and STILL couldn't see it.

Nice to remember Hank IBA. Is there a lefty Hershiser? I bet not....

PCPS- I think not. PCP is 1-(1-phenylcyclohexyl)piperidine). There could be PCP derivatives but they would by definition not be PCP. SO, I agree with Rex questioning the plural. What is scary is that it looks like it can be synthesized in two simple steps from readily available compounds by straightforward sophomore organic lab techniques.

I didn't know what a PICTURE DISC was. The words make sense but I do not remember ever having seen one. However, Wikipedia does.

OBELI was a new word to me. I will have to try to work it into conversations three times tomorrow before I can claim it to be part of my vocabulary. Yeah, that's really gonna happen.

chefwen 2:17 AM  

EVANS, NONCE and OBELI almost did me in but I persevered and ultimately won. Not a speed solver by any means, but those really slowed me down.

@anon at 12:46 - Thanks for clearing that up for me, couldn't figure out who ANI was and why does he/she spell his/her name so oddly. AHH AN I, makes sense now that you spelled it out for me. DOH! Usually I don't fall into those traps, sure did this time.

Took me a while to figure out the theme, but after staring at the finished product, all the backward SIDES were glaringly obvious.

Good one Gary Cee.

Anoa Bob 2:29 AM  


Tie on my TOE TAG and END IT.

Evan 2:55 AM  

Correction to my first post above: My story about stumbling onto this blog was in response to a question by @pk, not @Rube.

Rube 3:26 AM  

Duh. Tx Anon 12:46

jae 4:28 AM  

As long as we're making corrections that should have been ARA instead of SRA in my partial list of crosswordese.

@pk -- I found Rex by googling Silas DEANE about six months after he started this blog. At that point in my solving history I was googling or looking up everything I could. I actually wore out two crossword dictionaries. After following Rex for a while and seeing Wordplay I realized that people actually do this without a net. I went partial cold turkey about a year later with using friends/family being OK. In the last couple of years it's just been me vs. the puzzle. All this is to say that, @Evan, DNF is a moving target. Which is why I used "personal" to qualify Bird's definition.

Bottom line is I'd be willing to bet at least a dollar that
someone who has never done a crossword could not solve a Mon. without help.

JenCT 4:52 AM  

@jae 4:28: I agree with your last line - my family can't solve a Monday!

Well, I really liked this one - got the theme, got the obscure answers through crosses. Much more in my wheelhouse than yesterday's puzzle.

It's too bad that Lyme, CT is known for LYME DISEASE - I wonder how its residents feel about that. Our household has been hit by that malady more than once...

@retired_chemist: thanks for that link; I didn't know what a PICTURE DISC was, either.

Z 6:42 AM  

I'm pretty sure it was NC WYETH and NATICK that brought me here. NCWYETH never had a chance at being the neologism .

Having JEDIS---FIGHTER I wondered at JEDI'S tie FIGHTER. Sigh.

†† (need two since it's the plural) was one of three WOTD for me, along with ARA (I need to remember that next time, I've seen it before) and IBA.

As for MR ED, I have to wonder how @Tobias ET AL feel about having everyone's favorite talking horse clued by baseball. At least MR ED can hit a hanging curve ball, because my Tigers sure can't.

Glimmerglass 8:03 AM  

The symbol for "male" or masculine (the circle with an erection) is also the astrological symbol for the planet Mars.

Tita 8:06 AM  

All I have to say about the puzzle is, never trust the results you get when you google LiMEDISEASE!

Anonymous 8:06 AM  

Never got the theme but we pretty much sailed through this one. (partner and I always so the puzzle together)
I somehow saw flip side from the start but without any idea about what it meant, we ignored it and pressed on.

She knew several of the more obscure words ( to me at least) so it was smooth sailing.
A very easy Wednesday from our perspective.


Sue McC 8:09 AM  

Easy enough, not thrilled with the theme. Maybe we'll get a nice, challenging theme less for tomorrow to make up for it.

The Bard 8:10 AM  

Hamlet > Act IV, scene VII

KING CLAUDIUS: Let's further think of this;
Weigh what convenience both of time and means
May fit us to our shape: if this should fail,
And that our drift look through our bad performance,
'Twere better not assay'd: therefore this project
Should have a back or second, that might hold,
If this should blast in proof. Soft! let me see:
We'll make a solemn wager on your cunnings: I ha't.
When in your motion you are hot and dry--
As make your bouts more violent to that end--
And that he calls for drink, I'll have prepared him
A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping,
If he by chance escape your venom'd stuck,
Our purpose may hold there.

orangeblossomspecial 8:11 AM  

Put me in the group that didn't catch the 'flip side' until reading Rex.

Here is an old 78 rpm 43A PICTURE DISC.

John V 8:12 AM  

@anonymous 12:17 re: word count. provides an analysis of the Times crossword puzzles, which shows that the average word count for a Wednesday is 76.5. (I HATE those .5 words, btw.) Today's puzzle is 74 words. xwordinfo's summary analysis shows this puzzle to be more typical of a Thursday.

How I found Rex: Googling for a competed version of (probably) a late week puzzle without having to pay for it. The Rex is history.

Oh yes, the puzzle. More medium for me, finished with no errors, no Google. Really liked the theme. Frederic POHL new to me. Hey, what's a POHL doing so close to LONI Anderson, huh?

NONCE? Well, I suppose.

Wanted ELOPE at 29D, bring a relationship to an end, which makes absolutely no sense.

Reeeeealy gloomy in Charlotte this morning. Can hardly Cee across the street. Sorry.

Thanks, Gary. Good times.

Tita 8:13 AM  

@Z...My loving baseball phase and loving MRED phase intersected, so I think that clue was hilarious, even if I didn't remember the episode. I recovered from the former, but will always love the horse!!

Z 8:17 AM  

I never realized until now how much David Bowie and Michael Bolton looked alike. Unfortunately, neither look at all like Keira Knightley. Thanks for that, Rex.

John V 8:30 AM  

Sorry, forgot to say that Micahel Bolton doesn't pass my breakfast test. YMMV.

Wreck Sparker 8:32 AM  

Millenium Falcon fit perfectly and only because I learned how to spell Millenium right here...wrongly, as it turns out. (60A "Ah, 'twas not to be")

An ARA is an Accelerometer Restoring Amplifier used in inertial navigation systems in planes such as the F-4 in the early 1960's. You can probably work that into your conversation three times today.

joho 8:43 AM  

The theme was well done and very impressive with three 15's and 2 11's plus the bonus reveal of FLIP SIDE. I remember when 3 15's would be enough to make a Monday ... no more!

IBA was definitely my WOTD ... well, person, actually. Interesting.

@Rube, my favorite clue was "What makes Shrek shriek" because it's so new and fresh. Usually it's clued as "Wheel of Fortune" purchase or "black bird." Also it took me a while to figure it out so it produced a nice aha moment.

Loved it, Gary Cee, thank you!

jackj 8:50 AM  

The long answers, which contain the theme word, seemed first-rate but the theme seemed of little consequence and merited only a bit of a shrug in lieu of a nod.

The fill was “meh” as delineated by Anoa Bob@2:29AM and, so, adapting 10 across to make a comment, (and no doubt thrilling all who need a break from my lengthy comments), VENI, Vidi, Abii:

“I came, I saw, I left”.

jberg 9:12 AM  

I didn't get the shrek > shriek thing either; never saw the movie, figured he must be afraid of blackbirds. And though I realized after I wrote it down that I did know OREL Hershiser, I wouldn't have put down OwEn if it weren't for Perry Mason.

I did these puzzles every day for a long time, but quit in the early 1980s because they got too easy. I decided to take them up again after seeing that movie (you know the one, I can't remember the title), and it took a little while to get back in the swing, particularly since the swing had changed. I was solving them on the subway on my way to work, and when I got stumped I would search for the answer on my phone, which is what brought me to @Rex. My rule at the time was that if a search got Rex, it was a DNF, but if I just found the answer it was OK. (I'm more rigorous today). After about 6 months of that, I decided to see what the blog was about, and have been coming here ever since. I think it was the blog that got me solving the puzzle first thing in the morning, rather than on the subway, so that I could go to my computer and come here afterward. I still do them in the actual newspaper, though - just doesn't feel right otherwise.

Oh yeah, Frederik POHL is my favorite science fiction author ever, so that was a gimme. Nice to see him in the same puzzle with Roald Dahl's creations.

Gotta love Yoko Ono's sister IONO.

chefbea 9:15 AM  

Found it difficult til I got the theme, then it all fell into place. Never saw the clue for Iba.

Found Rexville many years ago when googling and Rex came up with the answer. Forget how long ago that was but If I click on my name it will tell me.

chefbea 9:21 AM  

Four years since I found you guys

Duchemp = a new painter

35 Runcingl 9:32 AM  

I found this place because I am, indeed, a robot. I search the web constantly for groups of people who hate sports, and this place just kept popping up.

efrex 9:38 AM  

Pretty much on Rex's wavelength with this one: really liked the theme, really disliked a lot of the fill. Figured out the gimmick for 41A right off the bat, but wanted to put in EYE first. Only writeover: originally had STOLE instead of SABLE.

B+...Definitely a more fun solve than the last two days, though that's not really saying much.

BTW, either I'm getting old, or these captchas are getting ridonkulous.

mac 9:43 AM  

Solid Wednesday, solid theme, although I had to come here after finishing to find out what it was about...

Very nice to see the London theatre district spelled right. Not so good to have both encl. and incl. in the grid.

Is that Dale Evans in the write-up?

Maybe a rebus tomorrow?

We were too late with the deer repellent. The exotic (yellow) impatience has been trimmed to the soil.

ConnieRock 9:46 AM  

For a diehard Harry Potter fan, "Evans" was a gimme, one of the first answers I wrote down in this one. In Half-Blood Prince, Prof. Slughorn, who has just come out of retirement, mentions her maiden name often because when she was a favorite of his when she was a student.

@Evan - never heard of those sites you mentioned, but Cruciverb sounds to me like an especially painful spell Lord Voldemort might use ...

lawprof 9:48 AM  

I "got it" (i.e., finished), but didn't "get it" (i.e., see the theme). So, technically, a DNF?

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

36 comments posted as write this and no mention of D-Day, the Allied landing at Normandy 68 years ago. LSTS were used in that battle as part of the largest armada the world has ever seen. More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end on June 6, the Allies gained a foot- hold in Normandy. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded -- but more than 100,000 Soldiers began the march across Europe to defeat Hitler....


nitpicker 9:53 AM  

I recently learned the name of a division sign is an obelus. Today I learn the dagger sign is an obeli.
Strange that the plural of obelus is two division signs equal one dagger sign??

Anonymous 10:34 AM  


Your write-up summed it up for me, and made me LOL!!
Knew Rapa Nui from having read Thor Heyerdahl's "Kon-tiki" a long time ago.

JaxInL.A. 10:34 AM  

I found Rexworld involuntarily through Google when I started doing the puzzle daily on my shiny new iPad. I found it annoying to have the top result on my inquiries keep coming up with a site that gave me a completed grid. I just wanted a little help with one clue.

Eventually I had to see why he kept coming up, and I've been a lurker then a poster for going in three years.

Thanks for being clever with snagging those searches, Rex, since this place has enriched my life.

I thought the puzzle was fun, but I'm pretty forgiving when I like the theme. I disagree that MALE SEX needed another word. Men get enough words as it is,

Two Ponies 10:36 AM  

Long run for a short slide. Meh.

@ JFC, Thanks for the history but I think no one mentioned LSTs because we are seeing it for the gazillionth time along with the other tired fill.

geezerette 10:39 AM  

Rex, thank you for the Michael Bolton video - made my day! We have a Michael Bolton Christmas CD that includes a duet with Placido Domingo (what was he thinking? or getting paid?) - we love the part where Domingo has to hum in the background while Michael belts out a verse of "Ave Maria."

I liked FIEF (ex-medievalist) and seeing Obi-Wan and a Jedi craft together. I, too, thought Shrek must be afraid of black birds for some reason.

I came upon this blog a few years ago, looking for a puzzle solution, and have been a steady reader since. I'd been doing the puzzles for many years, but had never appreciated the craft of constructing them or the fun of talking about them. Or appreciated the things I wasn't understanding (Shrek/shriek) or getting wrong (PaHL/IONa). It took until last week for me to work up the courage to step into the conversation with this erudite and witty group.

@Anonymous 10:19, thank you for the Mr. Ed video - amazing! (The good old days of canned laughter! :) )

Martin 10:42 AM  


In crosswords, any noun can be pluralized. The usual justification is to consider a referential usage: "The detective went into the evidence locker and cataloged all the PCPs."

In this case, you might also consider the many designer drugs, like 2-hydroxy-PCP and 2-methoxy-PCP, that could informally be called PCPs.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

@mac 9:43 am:

Thank you. I was about to ask who the tomato in the picture was. Didn't think it looked like Madge EVANS or Linda EVANS … maybe MR. ED from a funny angle?

Gill I. P. 10:52 AM  

In almost all cases, I will usually dislike a puzzle that starts out giving me instructions and then throws in a prefix right off the bat. This puzzle didn't really make me mad; I actually enjoyed it. When I finished, I only noticed the "IS" similarity in each theme and then I began to really dislike it. When "ED" joined the fray and I saw that it was EDIS, I enjoyed it a bit more. Funny how these small things can set your mood.
A matador's (torero) cape is pink. The so-called RED cape is just a piece of cloth draped over the "muleta" at the end of the bullfight or, the "faena."
More than you wanted to know I'm sure but I'm sure aficionados (I'm no longer) might agree.
Pretty easy Wed. and now I know who IBA and KEIRA are.
I just noticed the ICEE at 7D so thanks GCEE.

quilter1 11:06 AM  

I woke up to no internet today so came to the puzzle late. Everything has been well said. I found the puzzle pretty easy today.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

Mr. Ed was a character, not a star.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

@Two Ponies - I said nobody has mentioned D-Day. The tired fill LSTS is no reason not to. Otherwise you are welcome for the history. Visiting the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France should be on every American's bucket list....


Anonymous 11:34 AM  

@Rex Parker said...

And MALE SEX (23A: What the Mars symbol symbolizes) ... that phrase really wants another word to follow it. Like ROLE, maybe, or TOY. Or ORGAN or DRIVE. Google it in quotation marks. It really doesn't like to stand (!) alone.


Googling "male sex" in quotation marks got me this rather definitive reference in a caption to a representation of the symbol in question:

The symbol of the Roman god Mars is often used to represent the male sex.

So the phrase really does stand (!) alone, but I'm not sure it really likes to. :-)

Lurking Larry

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

I will waste my 3rd (and last) post on this observation. I might be missing something but I have not seen either Evil Doug or Acme post a comment here since June 1 when there were some unpleasantries exchanged. Perhaps this is mere coicidence. Perhaps it's more ominous. I think the jury is still out whether Kelly Ripa can survive without Regis Philbin but how long will this blog last withoout Evil and Acme?

Rube 12:26 PM  

FYI: Speaking of Frederik POHL, Ray Bradbury died today.

Mighty Nisden 12:30 PM  

First of all great video with Michael Bolton. First thing I've ever liked with him in it. Thanks @Rex.

@matthew G. Same with me.
Hand up for guessing millenium falcon first.

Fredrik POHL - love his writing and one of the reasons I took up reading Sci Fi in college. Gateway is one of my favorite books.

Every time I see FIEF, I think of Barney and Mayberry.

I found rex googling for an answer to a NYT clue. Reading ever since and this blog is why I'm so hooked on the puzzles. They helped me through the difficult solves as I began and explained things I would never have figured out! Thanks to all for that!

wordie 12:48 PM  

@anonymous 12:25, I was wondering the same thing. I miss them both.

I found this site like several have said: I started doing the nyt puzz recently and was googling for an answer. This daily conversation and the freely given help lift my spirits most every day, and the chortles from RP's comments and those here are well worth it.

I, too did not get the Shrek clue. Only I first put in ANt though I couldn't remember him being afraid of ants. Had no idea ani was a bird. Now I know, and I'll try to use it in a conversation three times today!

syndy 12:52 PM  

On a sunday in March 2010 I was Unknowingly naticked by a sports figure and a obscure capital city.Googling got me Rex as the ONLY entry.Not only did he supply my missing letter he explained a few other answers I had gotten but did not understand!!nobody else had ever done that! this was my first blog so I did notice the comments section for a few days....

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

My dad was IN Normandy on D Day. Born in 1907. Long gone. Thanks for the honoring. Difficult puzzle for
me. Does that make me stupid!

joho 1:03 PM  

@anon. 12:5, Don't know about Evil Doug but Andrea is in Australia and is hopefully having a great time. I look forward to her return, too!

Martin 1:06 PM  


The LA. Times puzzle had PCPS today too. Their clue was "HMO doctor designations." It's unarguably correct ("primary-care physicians") but kind of dull. I much prefer the arguable clue in today's NYT.

Bird 1:48 PM  

Yesterday’s offering was much better than today’s. IMO. Theme the answers were good. The fill on the other hand was not so good.

Tough corners at the NE and SW. Who the hell knows Harry Potter’s mother’s maiden name?! I don’t know that much about publishing to know the companies. NONCE?! Can’t say I know that word, though now that I think about it I may have seen it a puzzle or two.

I thought the answer to 63A was HIST, but it didn’t look right to me. History is an art? It’s a science?

I disagree with Rex about 23A – I think it’s fine AS IS.

Highlight was 41A.

I have a
of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band. I should probably hang it on the office wall. I also have a few colored discs from various artists.

Happy Humpday!

hazel 3:07 PM  

@rc - orel's son is a rightie! - still at usc i think. of course, jury's out on whether he'll ever get to the bigs, and unlike OREL, his name is not too crossfriendly anyway.

I liked this theme, and think i missed most of the short dreck by skipping over and trying to solve the crosses.

Re: @acme, i would just add i doubt she would let @evil's remarks stop her from offering her unique insights and disseminating her infectious enthusiasm about puzzling....

Gill I. P. 3:31 PM  

I second @hazel. I've met acme; she's a classy lady with a great sense of humor. She knows her insights are infectious because we let her know.

quilter1 4:04 PM  

RIP Ray Bradbury.

sanfranman59 4:14 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 10:47, 11:47, 0.91, 33%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:00, 5:53, 1.02, 61%, Medium-Challenging

Sparky 4:46 PM  

RIP Ray Bradbury. Thanks @Rube.

Found the solving fairly easy but did not get theme. Saw the DIS but not the E. My mind stuck on music discs. @Rex again clears things up.

I think I found Orange first then Rex and here I've stayed though I peek around others too. It was 2010 because I know I had my name when I went to Lolapuzzoola. I can't believe I spotted Rex, Puzzle Girl, Blindauer and another guy in the subway and walked with them to the church. Wowzer!

@Bird. I wanted 63a to be Humanities shortened, had OBELs and somehow never got back to SW corner to clean it up so...DNF. Boo Hoo.

I am sure Andrea will be back with her good cheer and good stories in addition to being helpful re the puzzles.

Forgive me for running on. Happy Hump Day. Rebus tomorrow.

Lewis 4:49 PM  

Did the NW corner right at the start so had the theme right away, and it actually helped me on some of the longer answers. Loved the Shrek clue.

Anonymous 5:21 PM  

PCP can be plural if referring to primary care physicians. Can't believe that wasn't the clue's subject.

mac 6:00 PM  

RIP Ray Bradbury. Just read an interesting piece on his wife, Marguerite McClure, recently, she really made it possible for him to write professionally.

Stephen 6:01 PM  

Astonishing. I actually finished this, but the number of things I choked on was twice as high as a normal amazing. What Anoa Bob said...

The good thing was that I psyched out the theme and used it 3 times (in only 5 opportunities) to fill out the EDIS part without knowing the rest of the phrase. For that, I took some satisfaction.

Stephen 6:09 PM  

to nitpicker: The word "obelus" and "obeli" are not just randomly coincident. See

Joe The Juggler 6:42 PM  

I don't much care for themes that are so unessential for solving a puzzle. I never did figure it out, yet it didn't slow me down in the least. (And on the other side, I think solving the theme would not have helped me get those themed answers any faster.)

Cheerio 9:29 PM  

I'm sure I came across Rex through googling answers, but it was long enough ago that the memory is lost in the haze of crosswords past. I do remember that the blog had me at the crossword Pantheon. Is that still around?

sanfranman59 10:04 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 6:39, 6:49, 0.97, 45%, Medium
Tue 10:00, 8:54, 1.12, 82%, Challenging
Wed 10:44, 11:47, 0.91, 30%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:46, 3:40, 1.03, 66%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:05, 4:36, 1.10, 81%, Challenging
Wed 5:48, 5:53, 0.99, 50%, Medium

pk 1:20 AM  

So it's pretty much what I thought. Everybody googles and they end up here by accident. Which Rex knew they would. He is so clever about his tags. Or whatever those things are called. Congrats, Rex!

BigSteveSF 7:40 PM  

you should go to youtube to see video of MR. ED and the Dodgers.

Technically, it was an insie the park home run, the scorer could have ruled it a triple with an error.

"Mister Ed tires to impress Los Angeles Dodgers manager Leo Duroucher by hitting an inside-the-park homerun. Also features Sandy Koufax, Moose Skowron, Willie Davis and Johnny Roseboro. From the fourth season of the show."

b 7:50 PM  

News flash:
Mr.Ed's home run was not actually a home run. He forgot to touch second base. Read the script in link below.

Also, this episode was very popular. -- W-W-W-Wilbur.

"Mister Ed tires to impress Los Angeles Dodgers manager Leo Duroucher by hitting an inside-the-park homerun. Also features Sandy Koufax, Moose Skowron, Willie Davis and Johnny Roseboro. From the fourth season of the show."

Speedsters Maury Wills, Willie Davis, Davey Lopes, Steve Sax and other Dodger players scampering around the bases at Dodger Stadium have been a familiar sight to fans, but what about a horse running those same bases for an inside-the-park home run? That was exactly what happened when famed television series “Mr. Ed” visited Dodger Stadium for filming in June 1963.
The episode titled “Leo Durocher Meets Mr. Ed” initially aired on September 29, 1963, starring Alan Young (who plays architect “Wilbur Post”).
In June 1997, when TV Guide named its “100 Greatest TV Episodes of All-Time,” that particular “Mr. Ed” show was ranked 73rd on the list.
Starting with Walter O’Malley’s desire to utilize Dodger Stadium for other activities on a limited basis, through the years the ballpark and its grounds have provided a popular setting for Hollywood movie and television production companies to shoot on location.

Several Dodgers appeared as themselves on the “Mr. Ed” episode including Durocher (who served as a coach for Manager Walter Alston from 1961-64), Sandy Koufax, Willie Davis, John Roseboro and Bill “Moose” Skowron. Scully’s voice is also heard describing a fictitious Dodger game in the show.

After Mr. Ed has the horse sense to ask an operator to dial San Francisco’s Candlestick Park and be connected with Durocher, he offers him batting tips for Davis. When Davis makes the adjustment and surprisingly hits a game-winning home run, Durocher seeks more advice for the team. Mr. Ed and Wilbur are invited to visit Dodger Stadium. More tips ensue, before Mr. Ed takes batting practice himself and, with bat in mouth, slugs one against superstar hurler Koufax, then gallops around the bases and slides home safely, as terrified catcher Roseboro hastily retreats to the back of the batting cage to avoid him.

When Mr. Ed asks Wilbur if he could actually play for the Dodgers, Wilbur wonders how a horse could play for the team. To that negative response, Mr. Ed replies, “Why not? They’ve already got a Moose!”

NM Robin 1:20 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ginger 2:12 PM  

My first entry was LYMEDISEASE, which brought back memories of the Lyme area on the Connecticut River. Many times we visited my inlaws in Chester, a quaintly delightful town just across the river from Lyme.

The comments here also brought back memories of Dem Dodgers, and the great pitching of Koufax and Drysdale. They teamed up in an effort to get more money. The sports community was aghast that they wanted, (yes they did) $100,000.! Each!

I often use the term 'for the NONCE'. For me it's not all that rare. I liked the five theme answers. It must be difficult to make that work, and I'll sacrefice substandard fill to do so.

I also miss ACME and Loren doesn't seem to be around much either. As to ED, he's often funny and insightful, but I detest his personal attacks.

Solving in Seattle 2:24 PM  

I saw the DIS come up in the first couple of theme answers and expected it was the key. It wasn't until I finished and studied the answers again that I saw the EDIS, ergo FLIP SIDE. As someone said, shoulder shrug.

I get the Seattle Times and would occasionally do the NYT crossword and google for answers. Rex's blog kept popping up and I would get the answers. It kind of irritated me because that seemed like cheating. If I could get the answer from "researching" then that was OK, whether it was my thesaurus or atlas or pulling a classic off the shelf. Googling was OK in my book because I felt I was learning something new. Having Rex supply the "canned" answer is like having someone do your research for you. Early this year I started going to Rex's blog when I finished the XW to check and see if I was right. I enjoyed his explanations and also started reading the other posts. I got hooked. First blog for me and it's one of my daily highlights.

To those of you who miss ED, I think he's been posting under different names. You can't disguise that style or level of sophistication.

@SiS lol award of the day to Anoa Bob.

Capcha: 6 ssiaten. I too scared to provide the interpretation.

DMGrandma 3:48 PM  

Would never have figured out the theme-though I did solve 99% of the puzzle. I don't watch Conan O'Brien, so with BS in place, put in CBS, which left me with JEDIScARFIGHTERS. Who knew?

There seemed to be a number of words that I recognized as they appeared, e.g. OBELI and ARA. Fortunately, I never "saw" IBA and ANI , total ??? To me.

I found this site years ago when I tried looking up something, I think some kind of monkey, and Google said the only known reference was the NYT puzzle and sent me to Rex. Visited on-and-off for a long time, then discovered that there is always someone here who can explain the (to me) unknowable, like today's theme, and became hooked on this collection of cruciverb loving people.

Only thing I don't like, the captchas!

Spacecraft 3:52 PM  

This little Wedensday ditty gave me fits! JEDISTARFIGHTER? What does that even mean? First of all, it wouldn't be an AIRcraft; we are talking about SPACE, aren't we? And anyway, there's no such thing. There's your X-wing fighter, flown by the rebel alliance (not necessarily Jedis), but no 57a. That is a nonsense phrase solely INCL. for the appearance of ...EDIS.... Bah! PICTUREDISC? Never heard of it. ENCHANTEDISLAND? Brother, I've heard many islands on this Earth called that, in fact and fiction--but Puerto Rico was never one of them!

Of all the ways to clue EVANS, Cee picks Harry Potter's mother's maiden name? Even in a contest to determine the most die-hard Potter fan, this question would be a final-round tie-breaker! Two souls on the planet know that one: JK Rowling and the contest winner!

I managed to finish this, with no help and no errors, after finally remembering LYME as the Connecticut town: my only way into the entire west central canyon. I sussed out THEATRE from there.

Even the start was trouble: after convincing myself that the cluer made a mistake with AIR- instead of SPACE- (right on that point, anyway!) I counted out the letters in Millenium Falcon--15! I had the MILLEN filled in when I thought: ya know, maybe that's not right.

At least on top, Obi-Wan KENOBI helped me. He was my only hope.

DJ Stone 4:39 PM  

Getting the theme helped immensely, as I was able to put edis into each of the long answers before I had solved the clues. That helped with the down crosses, which helped with the long acrosses, and then there you are, Bob's yer uncle. Although that's kind of redundant.

I don't get the anti-sports vibe from the commenters on this blog. It seems very smug. And ironic. Just as sports is about competition, many of the anti-sports commenters seem to be competing to be the furthest above deigning to know anything about sports.

It's also a bit sad. I remember The Bulldog's magical season in 1988, and it was just as elegant and satisfying as any artistic performance. In fact, more so than 99% of any of them. One shouldn't criticize what one can't appreciate.

Dirigonzo 5:57 PM  

I solved yesterday's "IBU" puzzle earlier this afternoon, then today's - I liked yesterday's better. Today I circled 6 clues for short answers for which I needed all the crosses - @anoa bob's list included all of them.

I'm glad @JFC mentioned D-Day - June 6 is a date in history that should never go without some mention of its importance.

I wonder how many of the prime-timers who discovered Rexworld accidently did so while solving the syndicated puzzle, and then subscribed to the on-line puzzle to join the conversation in "real time"?

Anonymous 6:35 PM  

I'm thinkin' a lot ...

Anonymous 11:39 PM  

I remember Herman Munster crushing baseballs in a tryout with the Dodgers. So when I got _RED down I'm thinking, would they really clue FRED (Gwynn) with Koufax??

Scout tells the manager he's found the greatest hitter who ever lived. "Better than Ruth?" "Better than Ruth, Williams, DiMaggio, all them guys," says the scout. So the manager agrees to a tryout.

Next morning the scout shows up at the ballpark with a horse, who is carrying a bat in his mouth. "What are you, crazy?" says the manager. "wait'll you see him him hit." says the scout.

Manager puts his best pitcher on the mound, and he throws the kitchen sink at the horse. High heat, sharp curves, wicked wallops everything, spraying line drives to all fields, knocking several over the fence. Manager signs the horse to a contract on the spot. "yer startin' tomorrow, he says.

Next day the horse is penciled into the leadoff spot, and laces the first pitch he sees into the gap in right center. The crowd goes crazy, until they realize the horse hasn't left the batters box. "Run, you stupid horse! Run!" Center fielder finally picks up the ball at the warning track and fires it to the cutoff man, who relays the it to the first baseman and the horse is called out.

Manager is furious. Calls the scout over and says "why the hell didn't he run??" Scout says "Hey, if he could run, he'd be in the Kentucky Derby!"

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