Fools evaluate bodies of water / Ben-Gurion successor / WED 7-25-12 / Less Than Perfect actress 2002-06 / Flier of legend / Lyre-holding muse

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Constructor: Daniel Raymon

Relative difficulty: Challenging if you are jetlagged; else ... MEDIUM?

THEME: THREE WORDS / LETTERS (8A: With 68- or 69-Across, what 16-, 32-, 42- and 60-Across each consists of) — 15-letter three-word (nonsense) phrases that use only three letters

Theme answers:
  • 16A: Fools evaluate bodies of water? (ASSES ASSESS SEAS) — hard to love an answer consisting predominantly of Words Constructors Generally Try To Keep OUT Of Their Grids
  • 32A: Renter finds a buyer for fish? (LESSEE SELLS EELS) — ditto
  • 42A: Musical combo designs experiments? (SESTET SETS TESTS)
  • 60A: More embarrassed forest creature screwed up? (REDDER DEER ERRED) — really wanted this answer to involve an Ewok in some way.

Word of the Day: ESHKOL (15D: Ben-Gurion successor) —
Levi Eshkol (Hebrewלֵוִי אֶשְׁכּוֹל‎‎, born Levi Shkolnik (Hebrewלֵוִי שׁקוֹלנִיק‎‎) 25 October 1895 – died 26 February 1969) served as the third Prime Minister of Israel from 1963 until his death from a heart attack in 1969. He was the first Israeli Prime Minister to die in office. (wikipedia)
• • •
Testing ... testing ...

Is this thing on ... ?

OK, so ... hi there. Let's see if I remember how to do this.

I just woke up at a normal time from a solid 8 hours of sleep, which, given my state about 24 hours ago (driving blearily through PA after well over 24 hours of car and plane travel) is a minor miracle. Apparently the thing about forcing yourself onto local time as fast as possible is true. It works. Not that it's pleasant — you should've seen us yesterday, zombifying our way around, trying to "get things done" (ha) and not fall asleep. Found myself standing in doorways and forgetting why I was there, staring at items in the grocery store as if they held the secret to the Meaning of Life, etc. But now, fingers crossed, I feel solidly EDT. I'll tell you about the trip in bits and pieces, as seems appropriate. Overall, great. First vacation in recent memory where I didn't get sick, first of all. Then there's the fact that virtually every view in New Zealand is a picture postcard, and their "winter" hardly deserves the name, and etc. etc. So, verdict: good.

This puzzle was less good. Nonsense phrases chock full of 1-pt Scrabble tiles? (Wait, how much are Ds worth? Wait wait, don't tell me, as I couldn't care less about Scrabble) Not feeling the sizzle. The fill seems fine, though the plague of 1-pt Scrabble tiles is kind of pervasive, and the dense theme structure makes longer answers (usually the more interesting ones) hard to come by. And when they do come, they look like EVACUEE (6D: Runner from a bomb scare, e.g.) or SARA RUE (44D: "Less Than Perfect" actress, 2002-06), which ... I don't even know what a SARA RUE is. I've never even heard of the alleged show she was allegedly in ("Less Than Perfect" ... why is that making me think Jamie Lee Curtis? ... Oh, she was in "Perfect" (1985) with John Travolta. Also, "Anything But Love" with Richard Lewis (1989-92), which is neither here nor there). I'd never heard of ESHKOL before, so that section was très tough for me (15D: Ben-Gurion successor). I also assumed 26D: Like chicory vis-à-vis coffee would render a comparative (i.e. -ER) adjective, so ERSATZ (a Grrrreat word) caught me off guard. Errors included SUBSIST for SURVIVE (13A: Get by), both UDON and RICE for MISO (5D: Bowlful at a Japanese restaurant) (mmm... hunger ... rising...), and BLEND for ALLOY (41A: Amalgam, e.g.).

[Heard this on vacation ... I forget where ... and could Not get it out of my head, so ... be warned]

Lastly: CURST? (54D: Subjected to a hex) I purst my lips at that one. Clue really should've included the phrase "olde tyme" or "ye olde" or "Bard-style." Or read [Typo of bread part].

It's nearly 9am now, so I should post this. Supposed to go to yoga soon with wife, but she's still sleeping, and I am *not* messing with that. On a good day, you don't wake a sleeping Sandy. On a first-day-back-from NZ day ... shhhhhhhh.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Liz Glass 9:03 AM  

    Welcome home! Great write up :)

    joho 9:07 AM  

    @Rex, there you are! Jetlaggedness hasn't tarnished your write up a bit. I had almost the same take. I didn't know ESHKOL or SARARUE either. I even looked up CURST to see if it would said "archaic." It didn't so I guess it's legit without the old timey prompt, but it sure seems ancient!

    I appreciated the 4 15's more than you did but admit they don't really sing.

    My favorite visual is the tosspot who REELS through the grid with the DTS.

    Sue McC 9:08 AM  

    Ooh, somebody's grumpy! I knew we'd get the Scrabble comments. I thought it was fairly easy, and somewhat clever. But my beef with puzzles like this is that once you know the 3letters it's just _too_ easy. Nevertheless, it was fitting for a Wednesday.

    And don't worry, Rex, I'm sure one the jet lag wears off you'll be back to your usual charming and pleasant self.

    Glimmerglass 9:09 AM  

    Welcome home, Rex.

    John V 9:11 AM  

    Hey,@Rex, welcome back. The place is still standing, notwithstanding the best efforts of your conscripts. Glad you had a ball in NZ. My father, there in WWII, always said it was the most beautiful place on earth that he'd seen.

    The puz: Good news: Had fun with/appreciated the goofy theme. 77 letter theme density(include the reveal) is pretty cool. The less good news, e.g. OVA/EVE right smack in the middle as the poster child for the scrabble count point @Rex made. Beau-coup partials and crosswordese was quite a price to pay. But, absent the jet-lag, I'd say this was a pretty easy Wednesday, particularly after sussing out the theme.

    Good luck on the time zone reset.

    Carola 9:18 AM  

    Welcome back home, Rex!

    I thought the theme answers were on-beyond-wacky, but liked many of the other entries a lot. Arts and LETTERS were nicely represented with ERATO, ARIETTA crossing AIDA, Schubert's "ERL King," John UPDIKE's novel, Nora Ephron's ESSAY, and JULES Feiffer's drawings. I liked how the EVACUEE/SURVIVE cross fit with the admonition "Don't try to be A HERO."

    I always smile at the little scrap ORT, as it was the first bit of crosswordese my Dad taught me.

    quilter1 9:19 AM  

    I didn't like CURST either, but otherwise pretty easy if a bit ho-hum.
    Hope your trip was fab, Rex. Welcome back. We missed you.

    shannon 9:21 AM  

    wooohoooo. welcome home!!

    jackj 9:22 AM  

    A puzzle with two “Tosspot” clues is a puzzle in need of some serious assistance, especially when it compounds its problems with clues looking for ESHKOL, SHAVER, and SARARUE.

    One might even think it is CURST, as evidenced by Exhibit A, the puzzles 3’s:


    All that (expletive deleted) to fill a grid that has been overwhelmed by four 15 letter theme answers that have oozed over the puzzle’s squares like “The Blob” unleashed and which are singled out for ”distinction” by virtue of a three word reveal that proudly trumpets itself as if it has achieved something of major consequence.

    I did like JILT though. And ERSATZ.

    Welcome back, 31*; thought of you each time I replenished my larder with those wonderful Jazz apples from New Zealand.

    Gareth Bain 9:32 AM  

    Welcome back! Take you were on North Island? Because at least to South Africans South Island is cold (or so I'm told).

    Pete 9:33 AM  

    As I was solving, I thought of books I've read where the main theme was boredom or the incredible banality of things. 99% of the time they were dismal failures, then remaining 1% they were a major accomplishment, though mis-understood by most (yeah, I know that the 99% of the time I thought they were failures I may well have mis-understood them, and that I shouldn't be so damned boring when condeming writing on boredom, but I'm bored).

    Ishiguro succeeded (though *everyone* mis-understood), Kurtesz succeeded. DF Wallace tried, but look what happened.

    Anyway, why try such a thing when the outcome is pre-ordained to be boring?

    Oh, and Red Deer are a thing. A species. That makes REDDERDEER more awkward than it already was.

    Glad you're back Rex.

    Tita 9:33 AM  

    Welcome back, Rex...all is now right with the crossworld. Your guests were great fun.

    Puzzle? Yes, I liked it! Though the non-scrabbly fill made for a fair amount of xwordese, the cluing was original, like 2-letter girl's name for ELSIE , both clues for EVE & OVA (thanks @John V for pointing out how cool that they cross smack in the center)

    @joho - love your Tosspot observation.

    Took me forever to accept that CURST could be spelt that way. Love your alternate cluings there, @Rex!

    Sadly, had a DNF - since I had put TAs in for the Devil, when I got to ERSATs, I thought - "Hey - it's not spelt that way! That's totally ERSTATs,"

    Imagine how abashed I was when that was revealed to be my only error...

    Thanks Mr. Raymon - I liked guessing the phrases once I had 3 letters, and to me, many of the clues were tough enough to keep the Wed feel to it.

    Rex Parker 9:41 AM  


    Mostly on S. Island, actually. Maybe cold to S. Africans, but not to N. Americans who have lived the last 20+ years in the northern midwest and eastern portions of the USA. I don't think it was Ever below freezing. Maybe at night. Most days were sunny. Temps regularly 10-15C, occasionally as high as 20C. In the dead of winter. Dunedin is infamous for being cold, grey, rainy, but it only lived up to its rep for a day or so. Worst gray/rain was actually on the N. Island toward the end.


    Milford 9:43 AM  

    Even though I knew it was unlikely to stay, I wrote in KATIE for 36D - my kid's name, which we have always noticed is KT. Oh well. I personally liked it better than ELSIE as an answer.
    CURST just looks wrong/old. It makes me want to make it fit other words, like NURST.
    Welcome back, Rex. Your guest bloggers were a lot of fun with good humor and insights.

    chefbea 9:57 AM  

    Welcome back Rex. Glad you had a great vacation. Thanks for the guest bloggers.

    Liked the puzzle but hand up for not liking curst.

    Of course noticed the Bee bleed over from yesterday

    orangeblossomspecial 9:59 AM  

    You did a fine job selecting replacements. They filled in admirably.

    8A "We THREE", a great one from the Ink Spots.

    9D "HE'S a rebel".

    22D "IRENE goodnight".

    Anonymous 10:00 AM  

    Looking forward to doing the puzzle today just cuz you are back. Hope you had a nice break. I could see you were having a good time. Welcome home! I don't know how to post without being anonymous. Ginger Perry

    John 10:02 AM  

    Katie, Emmie, Elsie ... any others?

    Anonymous 10:08 AM  

    CeeCee, DiDi,

    r.alphbunker 10:09 AM  

    ERL, SARARUE, BENT (not familiar with bent humor), and CURST side by side crossed by ABU and RUNSOUT which though plausible could have been something else made the SE a bit scary. Ironically I got all that right but finished with two very careless errors elsewhere.

    The two theme descriptions brought to mind the recent CERT answer (two mints in one).

    joho 10:09 AM  

    kd & Edie.

    Z 10:10 AM  

    I swore to myself the last time I put in Elf for Schubert's King that I wouldn't make that mistake again. I lied.

    ASS aSseSseS SEAS instead of ASSES ASSESS SEAS made that line a blob of ink in the middle. A fifteen letter answer with 9 S's.

    34 E's in the puzzle.

    The lowest of RRNs to be found in a puzzle.

    jackj noted 20+ 3 letter answers.


    dk 10:12 AM  

    I need a drink.

    The good (ERSATZ) balanced out the horrible (CURST) but on the whole this one was a slog.

    My expectations for Wednesday are always so high. It seems to be the set up for the challenges to come. Thus I feel CURST, nae JILTed, when… alas WORDS fail me.

    🍺🍺 (two beers, the other diamond company)

    ps. as a drinker of LATTES (soy) I have never been served a stick of cinnamon and would beat the barista with it if it happened. Time for my anger management class: gotta go.

    Rex Parker 10:19 AM  

    I had ELLIE at first.

    Loren Muse Smith 10:23 AM  

    @dk - you little tosspot, you.

    ICH cursed when I realized it was indeed CURST. Loved ERSATZ.

    "Soba" is also four letters.

    Once I finished it and stared at the theme answers, they were so utterly absurd that they grew on me! Tough enough, though, I thought.

    Glad to have you back at the helm, Rex, but you picked great subs.


    evil doug 10:23 AM  

    Nobody doesn't hate Sara Rue.


    Evan 10:27 AM  

    Welcome back, Rex. After now doing your job twice, I can really appreciate how you're normally able to publish your posts by midnight or shortly afterwards. They each took me quite a while to write and edit!

    This puzzle was actually really hard for me, and I'm not jet-lagged -- well, a little sleep-deprived, but even so, it was still one of my toughest slogs through a Wednesday puzzle I can remember doing. That southeast corner was brutal. ERL? SARA RUE? How on earth is BENT a synonym for "wacky"? And CURST?! With nary a hint that it was an archaic spelling? All four of those kept me from seeing RUNS OUT for a really long time.

    Like others, I just wasn't feeling this one. The theme answers didn't really shine and there was way too much meh fill for my liking, in the form of partials (AS A, HE'S A, A HERO), crosswordese (ORT, ROC, ELSIE, ARIETTA, LESSEE, ALTA), prefixes (DECI and TELE), and lots of abbreviations (SYSTS being the worst offender). Then there's SHAVER, which, like I described yesterday, is just a verb with an R attached at the end for no other reason except to give you a noun that nobody says in everyday speech. There's also the obscure ESHKOL which fortunately didn't cross anything equally obscure, and a Roman numeral (III) which is at least one you'd see on a grandfather clock, not some random year like CMLI, so I didn't mind either.

    Another possible theme answer of this type:

    NESS SENSES SENS ("Untouchable man feels short politicians?")

    GLR 10:28 AM  

    Was slowed down a bit in the west-central when I filled in ENrol for 39A and then went with haloes for 29D instead of the BERETS I wanted. Spelling looked odd on haloes, but by that time, I had already filled in CURST, so ...

    Only liked three entries - ERSATZ, JILT, and BENT. The rest was a steep price to pay for those three.

    Welcome home Rex, and good luck with the jet lag. If your experience is like mine, you'll have trouble sleeping tonight and feel like crap tomorrow.

    Romain de Tirtoff 10:30 AM  

    Erte, for the win!

    Azbert 10:32 AM  

    Go back, Rex. Your unsnarky subs were more fun.

    thursdaysd 10:32 AM  

    Welcome home! Glad you enjoyed lovely NZ. I stand in doorways and wonder why I'm there without jetlag, but I call those "senior moments".

    Not wowed by this one,kind of boring, and unhappy with TAZ crossing SARARUE, neither of which I knew. I did get an "aha" for CURST, after I stopped trying to fit CURSed, and liked ERSATZ.

    Anonymous 10:37 AM  


    I'm afraid your theme answer suggestion is one square short.

    baja 10:39 AM  

    Welcome back Rex! Easy to please is me's. Liked it.

    GILL I. 10:41 AM  

    I liked just about everything except the theme answers. ESHKOL is fun to say (sounds Basque) had ELLIE and not that cow, loved seeing SAN Cio-Cio and thought MISO without the soup was strange. Isn't MISO a soybean paste?
    I bet this was fun to construct but I'm like @dk with Wed. puzzles. It used to be my favorite day but lately they've been CURST.
    Good to have you back Rex. I was begining to feel JILT(ed) this morning when your smiley face wasn't appearing....

    Two Ponies 10:46 AM  

    I'll try to comment quietly as I don't want to wake Sandy either :)
    Glad you're back Rex. You certainly earned a good long break as your subs can attest. I did notice that quite a few of our old time regulars seem to be on break from the blog. Now that you are home I hope they come back too.
    Puzzle? Oh yeah. Actually I think this was pulled off better than I expected after getting the theme right away. As 3 letter fill goes this wasn't too bad.

    chefbea 10:49 AM  



    Evan 10:56 AM  

    @Anon 10:37:

    You're right, my bad. How about:


    JayWalker 11:14 AM  

    Welcome back Rex - we missed yah. Luved the subs - sorta - but really missed your acerbic sense of humor. Liked the puz okay. My trouble was in the SE trying to make an "Elf" a king rather than an ERL. Huh? Schubert? Daniel must have been referring to Mordecai Schubert, Franz's younger brother. ??? Anyway, glad you're all home safe and happy.

    John V 11:19 AM  

    NESS SENSEN SENSE: Monster's mint hunch?

    ksquare 11:26 AM  

    Never heard BENT for wacky, but know it as the opposite of straight. Ergo,it may mean gay, which humor might be.

    jae 11:36 AM  

    Welcome ...

    Me too for ELLEN.

    Easy-Medium with the south a tad tougher than the north.

    Liked it a little better than Rex. I found the theme answers amusing.

    Like many, did not know ESHKOL.

    Unlike many, did know SARARUE. She can currently be seen on Rules of Engagment which is not that awful as network sitcoms go.

    @Pete -- I just started The Pale King. So far (100 pgs in) it's a bit slow. I'm I in for a major slog??

    Masked and Amonymous 12:09 PM  

    @31--Delighted to see you back safe and soundin' off.

    r.alphbunker 12:10 PM  

    MAMMAS AMASS MASS {What often happens during pregnancy}
    REFER FREE REEFER {Narc ploy?}
    MUMS MUSS MUUMUUS {English tourist costume malfunction in Hawaii?}
    EVER REVERE VERVE {Secret of Oprah's success}
    TART TARTAR ATTAR {Sharp tasting perfume made from tooth plaque}
    TEEN TENT ENTENTE {Summer camp faction}

    Pete 12:14 PM  

    @Jae - Couldn't tell you. I know DFW said it was a book about boredom, and he's a good enough writer to be highly evocative of boredom. I'm bored enough already, so never thought of starting it.

    chefbea 12:19 PM  

    @R.alphbunker lol those were great

    Sparky 12:52 PM  

    Welcome back Rex. I missed you. Subs did good work, informative at times, amusing at times but not the king.

    Enjoyed the slog, as it were. Saying themes out loud fun. Very splashy except for the DEER. Like @thursayd, your sleep deprivation/jet lag my Senior Moment every day.

    @GingerPerry. When you get down to the botton where it says "Name/URL" you can just put in anything and it will come up as "Name said" in black. If you want a blue name it gets more complicated.

    Martin 12:52 PM  

    Bidirectional editing is tricky. The Hebrew in the WOTD blurb actually says "Shkolnik Levi" (the words got transposed).

    Welcome back to the North.

    syndy 12:55 PM  

    Now I understand yesterday's anamolous lack of annoyingness! Shortz was saving it for today!Welcome back Oh King of Crosswords thanx for the Fairgound attraction.

    Rube 1:00 PM  

    Welcome back 31.

    I always thought it was either Die ERLkonig or The Elf King. Apparently The ERLking is correct in English... my bad.

    Crummy theme answers IMO. Didn't know SARARUE, of course, nor ESHKOL. UPDIKE and ERSATZ were the saving graces for this puzz.

    Sparky 1:01 PM  

    Which brings up another point. If you go to the trouble of having a blue name, that is setting up a blog with Blogger, why have no info when people visit the site? Seems like a waste. Just asking.

    Milford 1:21 PM  

    Effie (Hunger Games)
    Yeah, I'm tapped out. Felt like there would be more.

    Bird 1:42 PM  

    Welcome home Rex. Glad you had a great time. And glad you didn’t get sick. Kudos to your guest bloggers who did a fine job while you were taking all those pictures.

    I liked this puzzle, crosswordese and 3-letter fill notwithstanding. Then again maybe all the THREE LETTER WORDS were a mini-theme. Started out thinking we had THREE anagrammed WORDS, but a completed 16A proved me wrong. Then learning there were only THREE LETTERS in each theme answer they fell right in place.

    Didn’t know ESHKOL or SARA RUE (funny they are in the same line going down), but the crosses were easy enough. And down with CURST!

    @Z – I also put in ELF for 62D.

    @R.alphbunker – Clever!

    Options for 36D: ELLIE, KATIE, KACEY, ELLEN

    RIP Chad Everett and Sherman Hemsley. Two talented actors who have moved on to the great stage in the sky.

    Happy Humpday!

    Unknown 2:03 PM  

    I also had "EFFIE". Was pretty sure those last two letters would be "IE".

    Definitely not a fan of CURST.

    Lewis 2:03 PM  

    Didn't feel like a slog to me. Things kept opening up with aha's.

    Rex, you're doing one of the two things that really do help with jet lag -- yoga. The other is to get out in the sun. Amazing how those two things help!

    r.alph -- bravo!

    ileen 2:11 PM  

    Welcome back Rex! I didn't have the jetlag excuse and still had a tough time with today's puzzle. I finished it in the end, but am glad I don't have access to solving online anymore so I don't know how long it took.

    Thank you for putting up that Perfect clip. I loved that song decades ago & it was great to hear it again. Actually, that whole cassette (yes, that's how long ago it was) was great.


    "There's a drawing of it on TV" is a great clue for LOTTO. I had "BET" instead of "BEE" as a "Competition of Sorts," which slowed things down for a bit.

    michy 2:38 PM  

    Loved ERSATZ. Hand up for ELLIE. (my daughter's name). As a relative newbie at NYT crosswords, I live for the day I can say a puzzle like this one is easy! Speaking of easy, why does the app on my iPad show the fastest times in the 2 minute range? Is that even possible?

    Non-Cheater 2:52 PM  

    @michy - NYT X-Words can either be a great source of enjoyment or cause you to pull all your hair out.

    My theory on the sub-2 minute times is that people solve elsewhere (on paper for example) than feverishly type away in the app.

    Carola 3:07 PM  

    @r.alphbunker - So funny!

    Anonymous 3:14 PM  

    Glad you're back and hope you had a wonderful time, Rex.

    Puzz was okay. DNF for me as I had ESSIE (like Bessie) so ALLOY was ALSOY. Hey, I just write 'em as I see 'em. Also had ITE for 47A, which made 38D SYSES. Maybe adding -es to a word or abbreviation is a corollary to Evan's "verb + r" gripe?

    BTW, why is ITT a "hairy sitcom cousin?"


    John V 3:18 PM  

    @foxaroni Cousin Itt

    Zed 3:32 PM  

    Cousin ITT pictures

    jae 4:01 PM  

    @mitchy (like Creeque Alley Mitchy?) and Non-Cheater --I'm occasionally guilty of checking my paper grid by typing it into my iPad app. Mostly for late week puzzles when Amy hasn't posted yet. However, there is no way I can one finger type in the 2 min. range. 3 or 4 is more like it.

    r.alphbunker 4:05 PM  


    Aha. That is a plausible explanation for the 2 minute times. It is a much better explanation than some anonymous person wanting to skew the times.

    sanfranman59 4:08 PM  

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

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

    Wed 13:39, 11:47, 1.16, 86%, Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Wed 7:46, 5:54, 1.32, 98%, Challenging

    A slow poke myself 4:19 PM  

    Of the top ten times for today's puzzle, the is only one I don't recognized as a legitimate solver. Those super fast times are almost always from people who do the puzzle super quickly.

    Unknown 4:24 PM  

    Welcome back and WAKE UP!!! xoxo

    Sfingi 5:14 PM  

    I've never agreed more with Rex on every issue he raised. It may be that I, too, had a "vacation." Saratoga Spa. is simply not so enjoyable in such heat, much walking, difficult to find parking, topped off by power out for a while, etc.

    Wer reitet so spat durch Nacht und Wind?
    ...den Erlenkonig mit Kron und Schweif!
    Mein Sohn das ist der Nebestreif.

    Sorry, no umlaut - lost my character set with the Estonian marauders.

    Anonymous 5:23 PM  


    Anonymous 5:28 PM  

    Didn't anyone have a problem with SESTET? Is that supposed to be a musical group with six members? That would be a sextet...

    Zeb 5:32 PM  

    Surprised that so many didn't enjoy the puzzle -- I thought it was a lot of fun, and including putting together the silly theme answers. As another poster said, bits and pieces kept opening up. Pretty much my only serious objection is to the double "tosspots."

    Challenging but pleasing Wednesday for me.

    Doc John 6:08 PM  

    Welcome back!

    The Bard 6:59 PM  

    Much Ado About Nothing > Act II, scene I

    BEATRICE: With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and money
    enough in his purse, such a man would win any woman
    in the world, if a' could get her good-will.

    LEONATO: By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a
    husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.

    ANTONIO: In faith, she's too curst.

    BEATRICE: Too curst is more than curst: I shall lessen God's
    sending that way; for it is said, 'God sends a curst
    cow short horns;' but to a cow too curst he sends none.

    LEONATO: So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns.

    BEATRICE: Just, if he send me no husband; for the which
    blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and
    evening. Lord, I could not endure a husband with a
    beard on his face: I had rather lie in the woollen.

    The Bard's Epitaph 7:08 PM  


    Bob Snead 7:34 PM  

    Puzzle was fine. Southeast sucked for me. Wolf Parade in the write up? DFW in the comments? Good Wednesday.

    retired_chemist 7:45 PM  

    @ Anon 5:328 - Sestet is fine. So is sextet.

    @ Gill I. P. - MISO is indeed soybean paste,, But it is a soup as well, misoshiru, made from - wait for it - MISO paste and other goodies mixed into dashi (soup stock). Yum.

    Oh, the puzzle. What everybody else said.

    Oh, Rex's return. Weccome back (aka what everybody else said)

    GILL I. 8:18 PM  

    @retired-chem Thanks. It's just that I've never heard it referred to as plain ole MISO. It's always been MISO SOUP.

    Amelia 8:31 PM  

    Thanks Sparky! I'll try it. Couldn't do puzzle at all. No
    Fun. What's a toss pot?

    sanfranman59 10:02 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 6:30, 6:49, 0.95, 29%, Easy-Medium
    Tue 7:23, 8:56, 0.83, 7%, Easy
    Wed 13:44, 11:47, 1.17, 86%, Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:40, 3:41, 1.00, 52%, Medium
    Tue 4:21, 4:38, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium
    Wed 7:42, 5:54, 1.31, 97%, Challenging (5th highest median solve time of 158 Wednesdays)

    rain forest 1:37 PM  

    A few points: I found the puzzle relatively easy, for some reason. Though CURST seemed to give little joy, it didn't bother me. The only theme answer I didn't like was the DEER one. Three letter words seem to annoy some more than they do others. I rarely get worked up about them. Can't have a puzzle without them (usually). I thought the guest bloggers were a nice, upbeat, refreshing change from the Nitpicker.

    Spacecraft 1:42 PM  

    This one took a little while to suss out, thanks in part to two very understandable errors: before ENTERing, I ENROLled--and my first Angels were topped by the old-fashioned HALOES. That last one was my fault; should have read "Guardian" more carefully. I know who they are, and they do a fantastic job. I witnessed one firsthand, on a street in New York. A young couple seated in a parked car (windows down on a nice fall evening) were horrified as a street thug reached right in and snatched the necklace from around the lady's throat, dashing off down a nearby alley. Within seconds a G.A., having heard her scream, was at the car side asking what happened. A moment later he went tearing down the same alley--and it wasn't three minutes later till he came back, holding the necklace! He would take nothing for it. The couple thanked him profusely, shut their windows and turned on the A.C.

    Back to the puzzle. Working in the SW,I arrived at REDDER, and at first thought I was dealing with something palindromic--especially when the central down clue referred to it. But a few more crosses and it hit me. Man, this was gonna be one yougly grid, with a capital you.

    Having never heard of Schubert's ERL King, or that actress, and not knowing whether "wacky, as humor" might be BEaT or BENT, I almost had a triple natick there. In the end I judged RUNSOUT to be most likely. Also, for a short time, wanted SUbsist for SURVIVE.

    But for the brilliant crossing of TAZ with ERSATZ, I'd trash the whole thing.

    LobgBeachLee 2:47 PM  

    I still don't get three runs out letters?

    Solving in Seattle 2:51 PM  

    @Spacecraft, I, too, thought, at first, we were dealing with palindromes. I also thought, after sussing out 16A, that we were dealing with answers with three of the same letters in a row.

    Didn't care for SESTETS as a legit answer, or CURST until I came to the blog.

    @Rex, welcome back from paradise. I spent three weeks in NZ a few years ago, from the Bay of Islands in the North to Dunedin in the South. What an amazing place. Nothing poisonous or thorny in the entire country, great golf, people, beaches, vistas, etc.

    Learned a new word today: Oospheres. It reminded me of Teilhard de Chardin's Noosphere, his concept in "The Phenomenon of Man" that presaged the internet. Good read if you haven't already.

    DMgrandma 3:15 PM  

    Enjoyed the puzzle once I caught on to the three letter deal, which made 60A a walk in the park (woods?). Slight slow down with ELlen. Felt smug when I dropped in Schubert's Elf. Alas, pride goeth before a fall, but the crosses saved me there and a couple of other places, so ended with only two write-overs. Wonder how hard it would be to read the theme answers without the clues?

    Dirigonzo 4:56 PM  

    My insect had an Antenna, if it "Isn't upright" it LeanS, and I'll have a cinnamon stick in my cocoa, please. Once I discovered that the theme answers needed only three letter I was able to sort all of this and the whole puzzle out fairly quickly. ELlIE, my yellow lab whose belly I was rubbing when I wrote her name in the grid was disappointed when I had to replace it with that stupid cow's name.



    I think they are pretty hard to read even after seeing the clues!

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