Arabian Nights bird / MON 7-9-12 / Birthstone name of a Hitchcock film / Chris who won six U.S. Opens / Hits in dodgem cars

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hello again from Rex Parker's BFFs Jenny and Liz! Rex is still enjoying his vacation in New Zealand, which from his pictures and descriptions, sounds amazing. For example, did you know that they have Starbucks in New Zealand? Rex has visited more than one! He is also enjoying working on a jigsaw puzzle because who wouldn't want to sit on a plane for what, 24 hours, and then sit down to do a jigsaw puzzle?!  

Okay, on to the puzzle:

Constructor: C.W. Stewart (who we hear is "super cool," just like we are now that the power has been restored after last week's derecho (that we talked about last time), left many of us without power for up to 8 days, in 100+ degree temperatures. But we digress...)

Relative difficulty: Easy as pie, as in "Pie in July," one of our favorite things about this month (along with guest blogging for our bestie) when our favorite food store features reduced prices on pie for the whole month (we don't want to throw in any free plugs here, so let's just say that the pies at this store are usually so expensive it can feel like you're spending your "Whole Paycheck")
Anyway, on to the puzzle:

THEME: "intermission" —  all of the theme answers contain words that can be preceded by the word "break". (As in what happened to the utility lines after the derecho hit...  sorry it was quite traumatic)

Word of the Day: Schmo -
schmoshmo [ʃməʊ]
n pl schmoesshmoes
US slang a dull, stupid, or boring person

Once again, we've chosen a word that appears nowhere in the puzzle.  But, since Rex referred to us as schmoes in one of his comments on last week's blog (where he described that he first met us "back when I accepted any old schmo as my FB friend"), we deduced that despite the definition above, in New Zealand-ese schmo obviously means BFF. Thanks Rex, we <3 you too!

Theme answers:
  • 17A. [Attorney-to-be] - Law Student
  • 24A. [Transaction at Chase or Wells Fargo] - Bank Deposit
  • 38A. [Rachel Maddow or Rush Limbaugh] - News Commentator
  • 46A. [Def Jam or EMI] - Record Label
  • 59A.  [You might carry a bucket to one at a hotel] - Ice Machine
We don't have much to say about the theme of the puzzle, but personally the theme of the week for us has been the fact that Rex is living in the future in New Zealand, yet has not given us any hints into what's to come each day. And he calls himself our BFF??

  • 32A.  SAME [Identical] — yes, we are, and yes sometimes we know what the other one is thinking but no, if you hit one of us the other one can't feel it
  • 46D.  RAVES [All-night party] — of note only because this was an answer in last week's puzzle too. Neither of us have ever attended one, but perhaps something in the universe is suggesting that we do...?
  • 54D.  CHAR [Blacken on the grill] — it was so freaking hot here all last week that you didn't need a grill to blacken your steak, the sidewalk would have easily done it. In fact, it was so hot that the chickens that live in Liz's backyard were laying hard-boiled eggs! (ba dum dum)
Thanks, we'll be here all month!

Signed, Jenny and Liz, Rex Parker's schmoes, er BFFs


e.a. 12:18 AM  

your writeups are always so fun. if RAVES pops up in next monday's puzzle, then you'd better go to one.

feeling your derecho pain,

Mike 12:20 AM  

Thank you for another write up that made me chuckle more than a few times. I hate captchas on an iPad because the stupid spell checker wants to change my typing.

Tobias Duncan 12:24 AM  

I am curious about the actual back story to todays guest bloggers. Rex pretended he barely knew them last week.Was that a joke?

jae 1:00 AM  

OK, now I'm looking forward to next Mon. with Liz and Jenny assuming Rex is still working on a jigsaw in NZ.  

As for the puzzle, very smooth!   Medium I think, but I did it on the iPad which slower for me than my PC.   A little zip...DOTELL, CANTI, ... and I liked OUTDRINK crossing ICEMACHINE.  

Also tried STAG beetle at first from yesterday's puzzle.

Nice Monday, great write-up.

r.alphbunker 1:26 AM  

STAG blocked the NE for a while. Had aroma instead of SMELL until I hit the other AROMA. I wonder how Rachel Maddow feels about sharing a clue with Rush Limbaugh?

chefwen 3:42 AM  

Super easy for moi, only two write overs with TeLl before TOLD at 1D and RAgES before RAVES at 46D OKAPI fixed my first goof and VENT fixed my second.

24A is a good reminder of what I have to do first thing in the morning. UGH!!!

Good, easy start to the week of cross-wording.

Avatar Cee Michaels 5:01 AM  

Wow, Five theme answers, which is a lot for a Monday...really six, if you count BREAK as the reveal/ last word.

But for me, something slightly slightly off with the simple reveal BREAK.

Come to think of it, there are lots of fun things to break...bread, a leg, your silence...wind.
Or, for freshness, "Breaking Bad"

Seems to need a tiny bit more than what the final clue defines, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

Maybe if the phrases were slightly more colorful, instead of just LAWSTUDENT, ICEMACHINE.
So many phrases, but not super peppy ones.

Maybe if the reveal was GIMMEABREAK?

One arched eyebrow about TOLD/DOTELL...
Makes me wonder if the NW corner was changed.

(It's one thing to have a nice pairing like SMELL/AROMA, but another to have two forms of the same verb...
Anyway, just a nit while looking at the puzzle closely.)

In any case, still super solid, as CW Stewart is wont to be...with a little pop here and there, esp with her P words, like TOPAZ, OKAPI, APOLO, FLOPPY, ROMP, BUMPS...even EGYPT.

Z 6:12 AM  

I was feeling just a little out of date as I sat here in my GUESS jeans and KEDS sneakers trying to find a slot for my FLOPPY disk.

Otherwise, a pretty straightforward Monday. Breezed through with nary a write-over, although I did wait for the crosses on DUNG beetle today. Is it a malapop if the now right answer is from yesterday's puzzle?

orangeblossomspecial 8:05 AM  

Lots of flatulence in today's puzzle: DUNG, SMELL, AROMA.

12D reminds me of a great song by the Coasters, "Little EGYPT". The video features strippers, which was LE's occupation.

Clues like 1D confuse me because I can't tell whether the verb is active or passive. Ella Fitzgerald recorded "Now it can beTOLD".

Karen Carpenter had a nice recording of an old Andrews Sisters hit, 48D "I can dream, CAN"T I"?

Sue McC 8:06 AM  

I thought it was super easy bordering on dull. ACM, if WIND had been in one of the theme answers that would have been AWESOME! Best part about it was the write-up. LOL @ The Hangover clip. Husband and his pals jokingly break into that song at random, inappropriate times. It's always funny.

joho 8:18 AM  

Because I had TeLl for a split second before the past tense TOLD my OKAPI was briefly an ELAND!Other than that speedy and smooth sailing.

@Avatar Cee Michaels, when I did this last night I was also a bit perturbed that the answers didn't work without "THE" inserted before LAW, BANK, NEWS, RECORD and ICE. In fact, I wrote THE outside the grid right by BREAK. But this morning I changed my mind and liked that it was an extra step I had to take to make the theme work.

Easy, breezy Monday ... thank you, C.W. Stewart!

Carola 8:26 AM  

I liked the intersecting LAW STUDENT GETS EVEN with NEWS COMMENTATOR Limbaugh.

Liz and Jenny, your write-ups are a treat.

jackj 8:29 AM  

When the clue is a four-letter word for “Like basketball centers” and the answer is TALL you know you’re not dealing with a puzzle aimed at Mensans, you’re getting a lowest common denominator presentation.

Three entries in this puzzle might give some pause to early week solvers, SETSUP at first blush seemed to be looking for PUTSUP, “Let the cat out of the bag” might have been TELL rather than TOLD and the answer that should be banned for crossword use, UIES, is rearranged to accommodate this grid as UEYS (at least in the last puzzle she gave us this constructor used the full Monty answer for it, UTURN).

The theme seems deserving of that most dreary of descriptors, “serviceable” and the fill is replete with words from Constructing 101, giving us a puzzle that may satisfy early week beginning solvers but does little to pleasure regular folks.

Thankfully we have Liz and Jenny delightedly strutting their stuff again, pitching in to save the day.

JFe 9:00 AM  

Liz and Jenny,

Too funny!

JohnV 9:01 AM  

Last post from VT. Trying to thing of something to say, here. @acme noted theme density, which was great and didn't result in crap fill, a good job there.

Not much else. See you from LGA tarmac in the morning.

chefbea 9:06 AM  

Thought it was a great puzzle and a great write up. Of course you all know I made my "Easy as Pie" pie twice this week. It"s yummy.

Of course I knew cards!!!

mac 9:08 AM  

Good Monday puzzle, but I agree with Acme and joho, something is slightly askew in the reveal. Then I also thought we could have had a little more fun with it.

I painted myself into a corner for a moment in the NE, mainly because I thought of "crypt" instead of Egypt.

Looking at the filled in grid just now, I wondered what the clue for "get seven" was....

Thanks, Liz and Jenny, very funny write-up!

Loren Muse Smith 9:43 AM  

Nice scrabbly NW to start a fun, easy fill. FLOPPY, GETS EVEN, OUT DRINK. . .good stuff.

But like @Joho - margin notes with the article "the.". I was really expecting a lot more comments like @Acme, Joho, and Mac about the fact that some of the theme starts need a "the" whereas NEWS does not. I agree that it could have been tighter to limit it to nouns that take a "the" - ICE, BANK, LAW, that take an "a" -LEG, RECORDn or that don't take any article - BREAD, WIND, GROUND.

I agree with @Sue McC - "Wind" would have been groundBREAKing, if not BREAKing NEWS for the NYT!

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

To quote a famous scholar, when you type <3 I know you mean "heart" but all I see is "butt".

Sparky 10:31 AM  

Easy. Meh. Had UEiS; haven't watched Parks and Recreation. Had bUNG before DUNG.

JaxInL.A. 10:38 AM  

Hey, don't knock jigsaw puzzles. I recently found a German-engineered puzzle that actually makes a globe-shaped globe. I've constructed the Antarctic and the south seas up past New Zealand. Trying to make some progress with South Africa next. It's fascinating seeing the orb take shape.

Two Ponies 10:38 AM  

My expectations on Mondays are pretty low these days so this was OK. Yes, the theme needed "the" to actually work.

Marvin 11:31 AM  

For a fleeting moment, I had entered IHS for STL in 44A, then realized that this is Monday and the C in the clue was capitalized.

Perhaps the theme could be phrased as "things you can break" rather than any specific word manipulation?

Dick S 11:36 AM  

Perfect puzzle for an Old Guy's Monday! Start in the NW corner, work down, end in the SE corner with the last word being the reveal! Satisfying, if not the most stimulating. Reinforces that the ancient brain connections may hold together for another week,

I, too, really enjoy your Monday comments, Jenny and Liz. Unless the shot of you two with Rex has been extensiviely photoshopped, you are identical twins.

Looking forward to next week's word of the day.

syndy 1:04 PM  

Thanks for the schmoosical comedies twins!very monday puzzle! reveal was not "phrases" but things you can "BREAK"(alex for $100)shouldn't rp be out riding whales and like that?

Masked and Anonymo5Us 1:26 PM  

WIND schmind. Wanted SOUNDBARRIER.

So then how do twins go about composing a blog. Does one think of something, and the other writes it down, sort of like one of those ESP tests? Would be scary to watch. Entertaining results, anyhoo.

Fave puz thing: TOPAZ. Led with a scrabbly gem.

Lewis 1:27 PM  

ERTE, OATER, OKAPI, TARO, and DYNE, I would think lean toward the difficult edge of Monday. I liked having both OTTER and OATER. Writeup made me smile.

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

Our BFF bloggers are much too young to remember Al Capp's Shmoo.


fergus 3:11 PM  

It's not surprising to share Acme's critiques exactly. After all, those are as close to objective nits as one might find. (Or so I say, as impartially as I can.)

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

Can't get on to the timed version. Puzzle comes up as a black box. Anyone else having this problem. Never happened before.

Anne Marie 3:56 PM  

Jenny and Liz, your posts are funny, entertaining, and dare I say a refreshing departure from the 31st Greatest Crossword Solver in the Universe? Thanks for sitting in for Rex!

sanfranman59 4:01 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)

Mon 6:01, 6:50, 0.88, 6%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:27, 3:41, 0.94, 25%, Easy-Medium

(Why does Blogger show these blurry photographs with the captcha when I don't really need to enter what's in the photo to get it to accept my comment?)

Anonymous 4:27 PM  

@Sanfranman69 - Google is using you as free labor to translate street numbers for their google street view.

Numbers guy 4:36 PM  

@sanfranman...yes - free labor, to make their databases more valuable to businesses that buy their data.

I wouldn't mind if they gave me something in return - a few terabytes of storage on your server, free premium software...

As you observe, you don't have to enter anything for that fact, I always enter "42" (unless there actually IS a 4 or 2 in the image.

Amazing to me how so many robots are getting past the capchas...

I, Robot 4:42 PM  

This excerpt may explain how we are getting in:

"However, if the 'number images' are always used as the unknown part of the CAPTCHA, and as the number images are easily distinguishable from the normal words (normal words have a plain white background, building numbers have a complex, photographic background), it could reduce the complexity of programmatically defeating the CAPTCHA, as just an easy-to-determine part of the CAPTCHA would have to be solved."

M and A Strikes Again 6:11 PM  

P.S. Since BREAK was theme-related, shouldn't, in the perfectly symmetric world we live in, 1-Across also be?
Proposal: Change TOPAZ to TOPUZ. Would sorta work. We all BREAK TO PUZ, most days of our lives.

Dibs on bumper sticker rights.

@sanfrandude: I always have entered 31 for the street address part. Figured it was a universal password, or somethin'.

retired_chemist 7:18 PM  

anon 4:27 - it's sanfranman59. Is your slip Freudian?

JenCT 8:12 PM  

@r_t: LOL

Fun writeup - and I just happened to make a blueberry pie today...

As far as the CAPTCHAs go, I never even bother putting in a number at all - I just type the word, and it takes my comment.

The puzzle: Not crazy about TOLD over DO TELL, and CAN'T I.

Loved ZIT & ENNUI.

@r.alph: Rush Limbaugh doesn't deserve to be in the same sentence as Rachel Maddow! I'd guess she's not too happy about that clue, if she does the crosswords.

Anonymous 10:52 PM  

Great write up .

sanfranman59 1:11 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 6:03, 6:50, 0.89, 8%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:26, 3:41, 0.93, 23%, Easy-Medium

Tobias Duncan 9:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
skin moles 5:46 AM  

Lolz.... you made me laugh good. :D

Spacecraft 12:37 PM  

I was all set (which, like "put" and "let" remains unchanged in the past tense, hence today's confusion re 1d--shared by me) to emit RAVES about this puzzle, containing as it does a relatively minimal amount of proper names (11d and 52a are clued such, but need not be). But then I hit 42a, and my opinion performed a...well, you know. I visualize a group of guys mooning the audience:

"UEY LEWIS and the NUDES."

No wonder I think that expression is so repulsive. BAN IT!!!!

These capchas are getting less and less legible. It's actually becoming hard work to find one I can copy.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

You two are pretty hot.

DMGrandma 2:11 PM  

A good way to start the week. Only slow up was that hackneyed turn. Seem to remember it was spelled "uie" the last few times around, but that was easily fixed when the cross had to be AMY. And, I must confess I didn't get the theme at all until someone pointed out you needed to add "the"! Guess this miserable heat wave has fried the few synapses I have left.
My Captcha is azedgedl which my IPad tells me is axed eel??? Sounds rather cruel.

Dirigonzo 6:54 PM  

I was drifiting in the pool when the paper arrived so puzzle-friend, sensibly sitting in the shade on the deck undertook to do it herself for the first time, with only the occasional clue called out to me for assistance. Her completed grid has the TeLl/TOLD writeover but other than that is amazingly clean and neat, unlike any grid I ever produced. I'm so proud of her I could cry. Based solely on her enjoyment and success, I would judge this to be a pretty good Monday puzzle.

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