Impulse carrier / THU 7-12-12 / Symbol of the planet Neptune / "The forbidden fragrance" / Orange TV character

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Constructor: Pawel Fludzinski

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: You Choose, You Lose — Three similar idioms describing two forces that present someone standing "between" them with a difficult choice.  Each idiom is split into multiple entries and is clued the same way ("With X and Y, difficult things to be 'between'").

Word of the Day: NYNEX (19A: Former Baby Bell)
NYNEX Corporation (/ˈnnɛks/) was a telephone company that served five New England states (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) as well as most of New York state, except the Rochester area, from 1984 through 1997.

Formed January 1, 1984, as a result of the Bell System Divestiture, NYNEX was a Regional Bell operating company made up of former AT&T subsidiaries New York Telephone and New England Telephone. Hence, the name NYNEX stood for New York/New England, with the X representing the unknown future (or "the uneXpected"), but the X is also widely believed to mean eXchange. NYNEX merged with Bell Atlantic on August 14, 1997, in what was, at the time, the second largest merger in American corporate history. (Wikipedia)
• • •
Greetings from Philadelphia, crossword fans.  I'm Evan Birnholz, filling in for Rex during his family-imposed EXILE to New Zealand.  You might remember me from such blog post comments like the one I made on March 20, 2012, or on December 11, 2011.  Okay, so I might have a flimsy claim to crossword fame.  Actually, that's not entirely true.  If you go to Rex's Facebook page, you'll notice that his cover photo depicts a dinosaur pointing a shotgun at a completed puzzle.  Why a dinosaur holding a shotgun?  It was in honor of Michael Sharp's debut puzzle in the New York Times on August 17, 2010, where the theme answers were based on the cry "S.O.S."  The dinosaur is shown holding the answer to 17-Across ("Weapon for Clyde Barrow").  The artwork was titled "The Tyrannosaurus Rex Parker Destroying the Puzzle with a Sawed-Off Shotgun."  The purpose of all that backstory is to reveal that *I* am the artist of that picture.  It was nice to discover that the King of CrossWorld put my eight-year-old-like drawing skills on display for the world to see.  Whoever said that artists are not appreciated during their lifetimes? (Answer: Every Artist Ever)

Onto today's puzzle, the NYT debut of Pawel Fludzinski.  It's undeniably impressive that all three themed idioms have identical meaning and could be placed symmetrically throughout the grid.  This could only be achieved by splitting the idioms into partial phrases and cross-referencing them in multiple clues, and even by intersecting two pairs of theme answers with each other.  Normally, partial phrases + multiple cross-referenced answers don't equate with the most enjoyable solve for me, but all of the theme answers are solid and are connected in a neat way that I didn't appreciate until after finishing the puzzle (more on that in a bit).

Having said that, it wasn't all smooth sailing throughout the grid.  The impressive symmetry of the theme led to some concessions in the fill with a fair number of meh answers like HEMI, A SIGN, the aforementioned NYNEX, IN HIS, DAUB, REE, ETNAS, AGRI, ESSEN, IDEATE, and RES.  In the putting-lipstick-on-a-pig department, the clue for CVII (21D: Roman numeral that's an anagram of part of Caesar's boast) gives a tiny bit of sizzle to an answer that makes an un-sizzling second appearance in the NYT since 1993.

There were a couple of minor slip-ups mid-solve.  I instinctively threw down AMINO at 23D (Kind of acid), but the C of SCAR gave me the correct OLEIC without too much resistance.  Being a transplanted Midwesterner living on the East Coast, WATTS (22D: Part of Los Angeles) was completely out of my wheelhouse, but I got it with all of the crossings.  20A: Club was a pretty cryptic clue for CIRCLE, but with the help of the initial CI-, that too fell after only a brief struggle.  All of that pushed me to my normal time for a Thursday, hence the Medium rating.

Theme answers:
  • 24A + 37A + 46A (THE DEVIL AND / THE / DEEP BLUE SEA)
  • 3D + 30D (A ROCK AND A / HARD PLACE)
  • 10D + 33D (SCYLLA AND / CHARYBDIS) — In Homer's Odyssey, the choice between Scylla and Charybdis was literally a choice between the devil inside a rock (Scylla) and a hard place inside the deep blue sea (Charybdis).  I wish I were smart enough to have realized this long ago.  I'm not.

  • 9D: Source of the line "Each of us bears his own Hell" (AENEID) — A bonus theme answer that reminds us how in Greek mythology, everything in life sucked -- constant war, monsters that could swallow you whole, dangerous waters that could also swallow you was a pretty rough life.  Gotta like how SCYLLA falls in between AENEID and IONIA (11D: Ancient land SE of Lesbos).
  • 21A: Dion who didn't sing with the Belmonts (CELINE) — Great clue.  Even though her full name appeared as an answer in September 2010, this is actually the NYT debut for her first name only -- surprising, given the Scrabble-friendly combination of letters.
  • 25D: What Fred Astaire danced with (EASE) — A cute but sorta bizarre clue-answer combo.  I suppose Astaire made difficult dance moves look easy, but I doubt he would say it was easy to practice and perform them, not after spending several years honing his craft.  I originally wanted a physical object that he might have danced with in one of his umpteen-million videos, so with -ASE, I dropped in VASE.  Well, if he could do it with a hat rack, why not a vase?

  • 43D: Bully, by nature (ABASER) — The friendlier cousin of the ABUSER, which was my first guess.  Can't say I was crazy about the correct answer, nor its crossing the less-than-commonly-used EARLAP (51A: Cap add-on).
  • 44A: Something that's not hard to drink? (ALE) — Wanted ADE, which made me like ADVISED for the correct ALERTED (41D: Given a tip).
  • 44D: Four-time Pro Bowler ___ Samuel (ASANTE) — A gimme if, like me, you're A) a big football fan and/or B) a Philadelphia resident who has heard countless hours on sports talk radio devoted to complaining about how the former Eagles cornerback could make the most amazing interceptions but could not tackle anybody.  Otherwise, this one might have been a real head-scratcher.
  • 55A: Champion wannabe (CONTENDER) — I went about this all wrong at first.  The correct way to read the clue is "person who wants to be a champion."  I originally read it as "champion of all wannabes."  For anyone who had the same confusion, DANE COOK didn't fit.
Signed, Evan Birnholz, Earl of CrossWorld


Terry 6:59 AM  


orangeblossomspecial 7:16 AM  

And I thought a 'bee' was the Utah state animal.

"THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA" was popular in the 30s. This version by Peggy Lee is later.

38A was popular song in the 50s "He's got the whole world IN HIS hands".

37D TABU was the exotic fragrance. "Taboo" was an exotic recording by Arthur Lyman.

Unknown 8:11 AM  

Liked this puzzle a well as the write up. Had cane as Astaire's dance partner as Rogers wouldn't fit, but ease works, too.

Brian 8:11 AM  

All over the place for me. Had some gimmes like ASANTE, 2/3 of the theme answers (not real familiar with THE DEVIL...). But got stuck on things like EARLAP (?!) and had CANE for 25D.

For 44A, I'm not sure about the cluing. ALE is literally not hard to drink (i.e., its a liquid). If you put a question mark, you indicate some word play, etc., such as it being not "hard", i.e., "soft" or non-alcoholic, which would make it ADE. Certainly "not hard" means "with ease" most of the time, and "non-alcoholic" is the slang usage, which would require a "?". Or ts just me and I'm overthinking a 3-letter answer.

Overall meh.

John V 8:18 AM  

Hey, where's the overnight crowd? Caught between SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS?

I thought this one was friggin' spectacular, even allowing for things pointed out by @Evan. I'd mark this one more challenging, particularly the North, which took about as long as the balance of the puzzle. Several clues felt more Saturday-like than not.

WOTD, NYNEX was actually a gimme for me. Go figure.

Terrific debut, Pawel. More, please!

Tita 8:22 AM  

I liked this puzzle! Really fun to solve. Great words and clues. And I hate xref puzzles!

It was a puzzle of extremes, all right...Cerebral vs Pop/sports...

ANNA Karenina, SCYLLA & CHARYBDIS, btwn AENEID & IONIA, Caesar and VICI, Napoleon, AIDA, NILE...

Near sports-natick at 1A/1D.

@jackj - given yesterday's discussion - how to predict puzzle experiences for the cerebrals and the sports junkies...?

Clever redirects, fresh clues. NYNEX a gimme, once I remembered the term Baby Bell.

Well done, Mr. Fludzinski!
And nice puzzle-focused write-up, Evan. (Though I do think the Fred Astaire clue is perfect...and a clever redirect. He does indeed dance with EASE, making it look easy.)

Aleman 8:31 AM  


(the) hard stuff
strong alcohol and illegal drugs

He started off on ale, but then got hooked on the hard stuff.

Wreck Sparker 8:31 AM  

Rather easy for a Thursday. SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS were mentioned in the song "Wrapped Around Your Finger" by the Police and written by Sting. It seems to me that THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA is based on this as SCYLLA was a demon in a rock and CHARYBDIS was a whirlpool in the deep blue sea.

Sue McC 8:42 AM  

Fine Thursday puzzle (fine write-up, too). As a former telecommunications worker in New England I was happily surprised to see NYNEX show up. Ah, the good old days before divestiture. Oh, well. My only quibble with the puzzle was with EARLAP, which feels like it's missing an F. And yeah, the ALE clue is also iffy.

joho 8:50 AM  

I, too, had AdE at first and I would have liked another clue there just because of HARDPLACE.

The NW was the toughest part of the puzzle for me ... took me forever to get "Strand in the water?"

I was struck by the fascinating name, Pawel Fludzinski, and his equally fascinating puzzle. Loved the theme. Congratulations on your debut!

And thanks to Evan the Earl for a great write up!

Deion Sanders 9:09 AM  

Tackling is *way* over-rated.

jackj 9:09 AM  

Since the name “Pawel Fludzinski” is rather distinctive it was worth a Google to see what turned up and, lo and behold, there is an Eli Lilly Research Labs VP of that name who also constructed an LA Times Sunday puzzle published on 9/18/11 titled “Idiom’s Delight” (sample theme entry, LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP) and, by jove, I think we’ve found our man.

Continuing Pawel’s penchant for idioms, we have three more of them today, tagged as “difficult things to be “between”, and the toughest by far to ferret out, (read, “spell”), is SCYLLAANDCHARYBDIS. (When filling in the second idiom at 24 and 46 across which read THEDEVILAND DEEPBLUESEA, I snarkily scrawled “where’s the THE?????” in the margin, only to reread the clue and see that there was a lonesome THE at 37 across, right smack in the middle of the puzzle, that properly completed the idiom. I hate when that happens!).

There was some wonderful fill to complement the clever theme, my favorites being BARTAB, GULP, HATCHET, EARLAP, (shades of the EARFLAP, EARLAP, EARMUFF discussion of two weeks ago) and the wonderful rearrangement of Caesar’s VICI to anagram it to 107, Romanly known as CVII.

Lots of fun today from this ARTFUL debuting Hoosier chemist and possessor of the delightful and not to be trifled with, moniker for the ages, Pawel Fludzinski.

Thanks, Pawel!

Tobias Duncan 9:10 AM  

Finally a write up with some meat to it, some of these have been a little thin. Guest bloggers the trick is to take notes while you solve. You can do that with pen and paper or use the nifty little app that our own @Tita developed over here:

I would mention the rage I felt at 1A/1D but I am trying to be a kinder gentler being.Its not easy this week.

John V 9:29 AM  

Puzzle app alert: See NYT Page B7 story on new app for mobile devices.

Pete 9:33 AM  

Post solve last evening, I thought the Morton's Fork awaiting our guest blogger would be explaining how 1A/1D was not an outrageous offense to our sports haters here.

The clues for 1A/1D are nonsense, they are really 1A: 4 letter sports org., 1D: 3 letter sports org.

Everyone knows of the NCAA and NBA. Yes, they are sports organizations, but that's irrelevent. The only problem that anyone could reasonably complain about is that 14A: was clearly DANE, and who knows what the National Darts Association's (the NDA) championship trophy is named. Or if there actually is a NDA, other than a Non-Disclosure Agreement.

You want to complain about sports, focus on ASANTE - it's clearly a made up name, one unknown to anyone not withing the Philly broadcast area or a major sports fan. It's probably, properly, got random punctuation in there like Amar'e Stoudemire.

chefbea 9:44 AM  

Tough puzzle. Never heard of scylla and charybdis so I was sure I Had made a mistake with the crosses.

I too noticed 1A and 1D and also the shout out to Acme!!

Loved 52 A bar tab.

Thanks for the good write up and thanks Pawel for the puzzle

quilter1 9:50 AM  

I really liked this one. Lots of original clues and answers and yet totally doable. Great write-up, too.

Mark Tucker 9:51 AM  

Probably an old gripe, but is anyone else annoyed by the fact that you can't get puzzle titles on NYT crosswords when you use AcrossLite as your solver? NYT insists on putting their copyright notice where the title should appear . . . grrr

Carola 9:52 AM  

Between ADORATION and SNEER, I'm definitely going with the former - really impressed with this puzzle. I got going with CELINE and GLENN, which gave me the crosses I needed to see SCYLLA. I can't say I moved with EASE through the rest, but enjoyed the voyage a lot.

@JohnV - same here on NYNEX - nice to get that Y.

I like very much how the classical references to The AENEID, SCYLLA, and IONIA are next to each other, with the SEA and Mt. ETNA in the opposite corner. And Caesar in there, too.

And TABU, BARTAB, HATCHET, [GULP] were DE ICing on de cake (sorry).

Did not know HEMI-engine and needed to come here to understand the clue for ALE.

Thank you, Pawel Fludzinski - looking forward to your next one!

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

@Mark Tucker - The puzzle titles here are made up by the blogger, there are no titles for weekday puzzles, that's an exclusive for Sundays.

Sparky 11:07 AM  

NYtEl for NYNEX. How could I forget IONIA? Liked working the themes. I had THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA in my mind before I figured out where it fit.

Thanks @Terry (6:59) for saving me the trouble of spelling out since I don't know how to imbed. @Brian. Agree, clue too loose. Any beverage that ism't hard fits. Shout out to Acme.

Nice puzzle Pawel Fludzinski. Good write up Evan. On to the themeless and my downg fall.

jae 11:08 AM  

Jeez.  Most of this was very easy except for the part that was really hard.  I should have included Greek mythology in my list yesterday (and yes, I know there probably have never been 11 Greek mythology entries in a puzzle ((although how would you know that for sure)) but I thought I was pretty clear that that wasn't my point).   My point was you have to know a lot of very diverse stuff to do these and on this one like @chefbea my Greek myth stuff came up short. I finished, but my Evan Natick resolution alarm was blaring.  I was relieved to see I had it right when SCYLLA and CHARYBDIS checked out.  The ECOLI clue was a killer.

I also had arK for WOK and ABuSER for ABASER which made the SW tougher than it should have been. And, me too for ADE.

So easy-very tough.  I liked the puzzle just fine.  Working for a Thursday is a good thing.

Sparky 11:09 AM  

Ouch, that's down fall.

Wie eine Wiese 11:17 AM  

SCILLA crossed NINEX today. That's what you get for being an illiterate left coaster.

Carola 11:22 AM  

@Sparky - I liked "downing fall" - I thought it was a clever way of saying "impending downfall." :)

Matthew G. 11:32 AM  

Truly loved this puzzle. One of my favorites of 2012 so far. More please, Pawel!

I had both A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE and SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS filled in within a minute or so of starting the puzzle, and was already grinning. Although those two were gimmes, I'd never heard the expression "between THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA" before, so my time dropped quite a bit as I worked the crosses on that one. Even so, I finished well ahead of my usual Thursday time. But rather than feeling too easy for a Thursday, it just felt much smoother and crisper than most of them.

Only weak spot was the EARLAP/ABASER crossing. That's pretty cruel. But forgivable because the rest of the puzzle is so good. Even the Roman numeral clue was entertaining!

GILL I. 11:35 AM  

I can imagine Pawel (is that a var. of Paul?) trying to nip and tuck away these fantastic answers into four 9's and two 11's.
I really enjoyed plugging away at this crossword. I'm no longer as excited by the half-expected Thursday rebus - much like @Rex and his "stacks" - so this was super enjoyable.
I was thinking "Bowler" of the big fat ball with 4 holes in it type. Not that I'd know that answer either.
@Pete: "Morton's Fork" Hah!...that would make a great theme title.
Good write-up Evan and spot-on for some good change.

dk 11:39 AM  

Another day older and deeper in debt.

I thought Fred danced with élan. And, I filled in 10 and 33D but had to look up what I put in. I also wanted v-six for the engine.

But hey -- to quote Homer: Donuts. Is there anything they can't do?

Not sure about EARLAP -- although as I think about 32A… wait those comments are 37D.

Reloading deleted songs from iTunes and Dylan's One More Cup of Coffee is up. One of my favorites.


🌊🌊🌊 (3 waves from the DEEP BLUE SEA).

Taking the day off as it is my 🎂. Nice gift Pawel.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

My ABUSER always wears a hat with an EARLUP during the cold winter months.

Evan 11:44 AM  

@John V:

Unfortunately, I put the overnight crowd (of which I'm a proud member) in a difficult situation of their own by failing to get the post up until 5:20 am Eastern.

@Tobias Duncan:

Appreciate that, but I didn't really take extensive notes while solving. Most of what I wrote was inspired post-solve.

@Wreck Sparker:

A few others out there, like Amy Reynaldo at Crossword Fiend, have mentioned that song by the Police which helped them remember SCYLLA and CHARYBDIS (and @John V linked to a YouTube clip of the song). I consider myself a Police fan, but I can't say I ever remembered that lyric from them; it's also not the first song of theirs that jumps to mind.

Actually, neither the Police nor my recollection of reading Homer's Odyssey in high school English class was necessary for me in order to spell SCYLLA correctly. That's because my first introduction to SCYLLA was not from anything educational or high culture, but rather the Sega Genesis game Phelios, a game based on ancient Greek myth where she was the boss of the 5th level. I'm a child of the 80s who played lots of video games, what can I say? (The racy end of that video clip still makes me laugh to this day.)


I think I need to patent the Evan Natick Resolution Alarm. But it needs a catchier name. The Evickolution Alarm?

Howard B 11:53 AM  

The Police song mentions both "...caught between Scylla and Charybdis", and begins a later verse with, "Devil and the deep blue sea behind me...", to reference and complement the earlier verse.

Just so you know. And knowing is about 9/17ths of the battle, give or take a little bit.

syndy 11:57 AM  

Everything the Earl said except for the football player.I threw down CHARYBDIS with no problem but blanked on his partner SCYLLA,knew it ended in a LA but could not for the life of me.I don't usually like cross referencing but..I was too distracted by muttering ABYLLA? to care much.I was relieved when ROCK AND A HARD PLACE showed.Looking at the fill now it is amazing bad but really good theme answers cover multiple sins

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Was not caught between AROCKANDAHARDPLACE
Having read the Odyssey in high school
SCYLLAANDCHARYBDIS fell right in for me...

ARTFUL theme by Mr. Fludzinski!
No HATCHET job from Evan, just fun!
Only 30 comments on a Thursday?
Are we missing our EXILED #31 ?

Two Ponies 12:18 PM  

Starting out with two sports initials at 1A and 1D did not bode well. The NE was my final undoing.
I was thinking fishing for the E. Coli clue.
Aida was a Broadway musical?

Grammagail 12:23 PM  

Pawel, please 'fess up. I think your real name is Paul Flood. But I liked your puzzle because it was the easiest for me in years. I must spend a lot of time in tough spots, or waffling...

Tita 12:48 PM  

@Carola - love your reference to the DE-lightful puzzle a while back. can comment during the Instant Replay mode, post solve.

(Though Tobias was not referring to you. I must agree - some of the guests, while hilarious/ditzy/insightful and a fun change of pace, are not as faithful to the prime directive as others.)

@Gill - is that you in your new pic? Pls 'splain.
And, you mean ASANTE doesn't bowl?

Anyone else have italian before HATCHET.

thursdaysd 1:15 PM  

Loved the theme, hated the NW. Since when is a hamlet a BURG? And 1A/1D were just random letters.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:22 PM  

Re: 21 D - The old boast Veni, vidi, vici opens a rich anagrammatic vein - either DVII or CVII (507 or 107). I can just imagine the first letter making a Naticky crossing with the first letter of an answer clued as "Small change" - would that be CENT or DENT?

Bird 1:28 PM  

Nice challenging puzzle today, but I did not care for some of the fill. Especially EARLAP (no F?). Did not know 10D/33D (I guess I'm not cerebral?), but eventually got it from crosses. 45A was a toss-up between DEE and REE (like I said I didn't recall the idiom). My soft-drink was ADE which gave me ADERTED. Huh?!

As a long time NY Giants fan I know ASANTE all too well and agree that he cannot tackle. All he does is try to knock the player down or out of bounds.

@John V - I read that article this morning and the apps seem tempting, but I'll stick with pen & paper for now.

mac 1:37 PM  

Really good Thursday, but a DNF for me because of the Watts/oleic area. Ten hut?

I got Asante through crosses, but frankly, I had no idea a Pro-Bowler played football...

I had "dorp" for burg for a while, and ade/advised, but worked out in the end.

Thanks Pawel and Evan.

Clueless in Texas 2:04 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle and write-up. And any time anything reminds me of Sting/The Police, I am truly in bliss! What fun!

Lewis 2:06 PM  

Quality puzzle, with the gleam that the good ones have.

@dk - hands up for elan

Evan 2:15 PM  


Is there a way to get a hold of that app? I looked over on your website but couldn't see any information about that. I also don't have an iPad, if that's what it was developed for.


A "hamlet" in this case refers to a small town, or BURG. And I disagree about the 1A/1D crossing. I understand that it might have tripped up the less sports-inclined solvers (and being an avid sports fan myself, perhaps I have no frame of reference to say otherwise), but I don't think they're a string of random letters since they're pretty well-known American sports organizations. In fact, the N in both answers is an abbreviation of the same word: National.

Hmmm, now that I think about it....from an amateur constructor standpoint, I'm not sure I like the two National's intersecting with one another. In any event, I agree that the northwest corner wasn't ideal and the difficulty for those two clues was probably cranked up a bit high even for a Thursday.


Pro Bowler refers to an NFL player elected to the Pro Bowl, the NFL all-star game. It's currently held in Hawaii the week between the NFC/AFC Championships and the Super Bowl. Many of the voted-in stars sit the game out either because they suffered injuries or are scheduled to play in the Super Bowl the following week. Neither side really bothers to play any defense at all. It is easily the most useless all-star game among the big four sports in America -- I can reach no other conclusion when the NFL's MVP calls out the other Pro Bowlers' effort, and when there is basically an annual discussion among the sports commentariat if the game should be abolished entirely.

mac 2:24 PM  

Thanks, Evan.

It's dk's birthday! Happy one!

Mz.D 2:36 PM  

Hmmm,well I guessed "the devil and the deep blue sea" and "between a rock and a hard place" would fit in somewhere and I would like to say that I popped them both right in and breezed through the puzzle but, alas, I ended up struggling for almost every answer,which brings me to a big,no doubt frustration fueled, gripe:Aida is NOT "a Broadway musical"it is an OPERA.

GILL I. 2:38 PM  

@Two Ponies: Maybe if you see "Elton John and Time Rice's Aida" it will ring a bell.
@Tita: Why thank you. I thought you'd never ask!
That's our (then) 2 year old daughter tantalizing our cat Marmalade. I loved that cat to death - He loved belly rubs, children and dogs. Much like I do.

Mz.D 2:43 PM  

Re:Aida as a musical all I have to say is AARRGGGGH!!!!!

Doc John 2:59 PM  

Let's just say this one was a struggle and leave it at that.

Zeb 3:40 PM  

Whoa. Medium difficulty? I thought it was a brutal Thursday; I do better on most Saturdays.

Pretty much agree across the board with Mz.D -- every answer was a struggle, and I had a ton of overwrites. And to amplify: Aida, clued as a musical, is just plain wrong. Bad clue. Bad!

(Still kind of a cool puzzle looking at the finished grid. While I didn't enjoy the ride, I can see why some did)

Anonymous 3:44 PM  

"ECOLI" for "strand in the water" stuck in my craw. A bacterium (e.g., E. Coli) is a complete organism, not simply a "strand" of DNA or RNA. And the various forms of E. coli (some harmless, some necessary for our digestive tracts to do their jobs properly, and some deadly) reside in the gut, or in various food items, but rarely "in the water." Unbelievably lame clue and answer. And "Hemi" engine? Who's heard of that? And Asante Samuel? Give me a break. Most of us are not die-hard sports fans or Philadelphians.

My verdict: a clever theme (various common idioms for dilemmas) marred by idiotic fills and clues for the fills.

Sir Elton 3:48 PM  


You may not like it as a musical, but it is clued correctly.

sanfranman59 3:49 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)

Thu 17:26, 18:54, 0.92, 40%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:12, 9:21, 0.98, 55%, Medium

Tita 4:01 PM  

@Gill - LOL - how adorable! And your daughter is cute too... Seriously - that is one tolerant cat, and one truly fine-looking baby. Is she still an animal lover?

@Evan - somewhere in there it says just to contact me or r.alph, but I'll make that more prominent.
Anyway - send me an email through my profile and, for special guest bloggers of Rick's - uh Rex, I would be happy to get you a download.
So far it's PC or Mac - soon to come on tablets.

Oh - and to set the record straight - r.alph is the creator and developer - I'm the just the post-inception idea gal.

Anyone seen Old Car Fudd? We need him to speak up for HEMI heads everywhere...

Happy birthday to dk!

chefbea 4:16 PM  

@dk happy b-day. Had I known earlier I would have baked you a cake!!

joho 4:40 PM  

Totally missed it in your earlier comment, @dk ... Happy Birthday!!!isoodv 20

mitchs 6:11 PM  

@Sparky and Carola, I also really like "downing fall". "And thus, dear reader, commenced my downing fall". Poetic, no?

Ω 6:38 PM  

@DK - How old are we? Somewhere between XXIX and CVII I would guess.

Had to get on the road early this morning (Poultney to Burlington - doing the very small liberal arts college tour with my youngest this week) so the entire west had to wait until this afternoon.

I had all the initial mistakes already mentioned; dane, ABuSER, AdE, arK, and all struggles mentioned; AIDA(?), ECOLI(?), BURG(?), EASE(?) (tried cAnE first). In the end, medium challenging here.

Pooloniousmonk 6:40 PM  

Ironic that a puzzle would include NYNEX which is then featured in this column, on a day when internet and phone service was out for this entire region of Vermont. Consequently, there was time to scrutinize the entries to the point of madness as evidenced below. But, I did enjoy the solve. It was a challenge and that is always fun.

This puzzle took me over 2 hours to complete and another 15 minutes to find the error. I was misled by the cluing on several occasions. For example, 50a, suggests that "yon" is another direction. That would not be my interpretation. I do not daub with a rough application of something. Perhaps an undisciplined administration, but not rough (42a). "Grills" for "asks" (63a) is another off-kilter entry. Asking implies a relatively benign query, grilling most certainly does not. 29a, "tenhut" is not a "sound." Assuming it is in the sound family, it is 2 sounds. When one is "mooed" that is not being called on a farm. Is there any evidence the cow is attempting to summon someone?

Enough already. Time to feed the elk.

Two Ponies 7:16 PM  

Sorry everyone but this is a test. Blogger is giving me fits.

Anonymous 7:36 PM  

Hi All,

I had a quick favor -- I'm trying my hand at constructing (I've done a few puzzles, but no bites yet), and I was wondering how you guys feel about the word "WEEEST" in a puzzle. I know the accepted form is WEEST, but I've been trying to find if WEEEST is an acceptable variation or maybe even a scottish spelling of it. Any advice would be appreciated. Not going to make or break the puzzle, but would save quite a bit of time.

Thanks in advance for the help!

No Way Jose 8:01 PM  

@Anonymous contemplating weeest. Don't do it. Rip out some puz, instead. It would've bugged you after U were done, anyhoo.

Aeneid Celine Mimeos nee EssenBurg 8:55 PM  

Classy construction, cool constructor name!
(Thanks, @jackj for the alert to his other work.)

Biggest hold up for me was 9A
"Give me ____"

AHOME where the buffalo roam
LOVE (GIVE ME PEACE ON EARTH) (ala George Harrison)

Knew SCYLLA and CHARYBDIS but zero idea how to spell either...
(@Evan, I love that you learned it from video games...while we oldies had to read the Odyssey! And yet you were the one who remembered!)

Loved GULP clue and of course, 32A,
tho it was all uphill for me!

HEMI Engine was a huge ???!!!
And you're right, where is @Old Car Fudd? Another had-enougher?

Martin 9:01 PM  

@Anonymous 3:44,

The rod-shape of E. coli, especially when chained after fission, is the strand shape of the clue. It has nothing to do with DNA.

More importantly, water-borne E. coli contamination is a constant concern for water providers. An animal anywhere along the distribution chain can be the cause, and it's a big reason for chlorination. All municipal water is tested monthly for E. coli and related organisms.

Who's heard of a hemi engine? Probably anyone who owns a TV and has been subjected to a Dodge commercial any time in the last 20 years or so.

JFe 9:42 PM  



For the love of God, move on...please

Sorry, Carol, I just had to comment.

Loved the puzzle!

sanfranman59 11:05 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 6:03, 6:50, 0.89, 8%, Easy
Tue 11:23, 8:58, 1.27, 96%, Challenging (8th highest median solve time of 159 Tuesdays)
Wed 9:36, 11:47, 0.82, 10%, Easy
Thu 17:28, 18:54, 0.92, 41%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:26, 3:41, 0.93, 23%, Easy-Medium
Tue 6:02, 4:38, 1.30, 99%, Challenging (3rd highest median solve time of 159 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:21, 5:53, 0.91, 28%, Easy-Medium
Thu 9:02, 9:21, 0.97, 52%, Medium

thursdaysd 11:11 PM  

@evan - a BURG is a town or city. A hamlet is a small village, i.e. too small to be a BURG. I found the clue unfairly misleading.

Stop Nitpicking 11:17 PM  

A BURG is a village, town, community whether small, medium or large. Stop nitpicking!

JenCT 11:42 PM  

All over the place with this puzzle -

ASANTE a gimme,

@Martin: agree about HEMI,

hand up for Elan,

happy birthday @dk,

enjoyed the writeup!

Ultimately DNF; no time today.


Anonymous 2:11 PM  

Easiest Thursday in a long time, perhaps ever. Quibble with the clue for "ALE," as others have noted. I had ADE, since the various ades (lemon, orange) are soft drinks, which was clued by the "not hard to drink." Many better clues for "ale" than that, that one was just general and generally lame. How about "nice quaff" or "Comes in brown, amber and Belgian" or anything but the original clue.

Dirigonzo 3:59 PM  

Ultimately failed in the NE due to a combination of laziness and ignorance - always a problematic mix! Laziness because when I recited Caesar's boast, I knew it most certainly was not veni I wanted because "e" is not a RN, but when I came to vidi I thought that's it, and it never occurred to me to proceed on to vici, which of course is the one that provides the correct anagram. Ignorance because I was totally unfamiliar with SCYLLA AND CHADYBDIS. The result was not pretty. And EARLuP looked fine to me, too.

Favorite clue was, "It might be used for tracking shots" for BARTAB.

@Gil I.P. wrote, "He loved belly rubs, children and dogs. Much like I do." Me too.

Spacecraft 4:57 PM  

Tougher and trickier than I thought it was goong to be after laying down SCYLLAANDCHARYBDIS off just REE and YON. My champion wannabe was a preTENDER before he went CON. My (hand up!) bully was an ABuSER first. Perfect clue, I thought. This, plus inexplicably not being able to think of AROCKANDAHARDPLACE for the first--I dunno--hour, at least, gave me a gigantic holdup in the W and SW. Only at last, when I stared and stared at EARLuP wondering what it meant, did it hit me. That's an A, you idiot!

Part of my West blockage was the fault of a bad clue: "Apply roughly" for DAUB. Man, that's practically a straight antonym! To daub is to apply gingerly, far from roughly! Tsk tsk, Pawel! (Or Will!)

Now to 21. Two equally good answers to 21d: 507 or 107; both appear, Romanically, in "Veni, VIDI, VICI." So, with the clue to 21a's gender misdirection I tried to think: DELINE? Wait, that's the guy on Las Vegas. Never thought about Celine till I was checking over at the end. This even though I see that familiar from-the-rear strapless photo on top of numerous cabs captioned "Celine's back." Bada-bing.

Wow, here's a puzzle with AND written out three times--yet after my recent rant I'm not bothered. That's because the word is separating real words, not initials. THE in the same grid--once by itself (!) even works, because it's in the theme. How about that, folks? Three ANDs and two THEs. All I can say is: don't try this at home.

DMGrandma 5:10 PM  

Lots of places I has to guess at the spelling- not my strongest point. But what I guessed worked, so combined with a stab at N for the first square, I managed this puzzle once I dropped ark for WOK. How many three letter words are there that end in K?

Dirigonzo 5:25 PM  

@DMGrandma - I considered yaK for a while but decided that was probably stretching the "round bottom" clue a little too far.

Steve Z 7:35 PM  

There is no such phrase as "ten hut" in the real military! And for God's sake why can't they take 5 minutes and teach an actor how to salute properly in the movies!?!?

Bob Kerfuffle 9:03 PM  

@DMGrandma - if you are serious, "How many three letter words are there that end in K?" go to

I would have given a list, but there are way too many.

Dirigonzo 9:26 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle - I love that you, and a few other "prime timers", occasionally chime in with a reply to us syndilanders 5 weeks in the past. I was going to mention you today because your post 5 weeks ago ("Re: 21 D - The old boast Veni, vidi, vici opens a rich anagrammatic vein - either DVII or CVII (507 or 107). I can just imagine the first letter making a Naticky crossing with the first letter of an answer clued as "Small change" - would that be CENT or DENT?) exactly predicted the problem I encountered. I always enjoy your comments, be they from the past or in "syndicated time" - thanks for visiting.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:54 PM  

@Dirigonzo -- Thank you for your kind comments! I was so touched, I went to your blog and was so richly rewarded with the video (posted only yesyerday!) of our beloved ACME. I can only ask, were you on Rex's blog when Andrea posted this link?

Definitely worth a look.

Dirigonzo 10:17 PM  

@Bob K - I don't think I have seen that video and unfortunately I couldn't open it from your link. I have seen other interviews with Andrea and she is truly a remarkable woman, which is why I instituted the ACME Fan Club (Syndicated Chapter) a while back.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:46 PM  

@Dirigonzo - I just tried copying and pasting and the link worked. Mystery to me why it shouldn't work for you!

eastsacgirl 12:01 AM  

Oh my - big DNF today. Feeling tired/lazy. My brain hurts today. Knew AROCKANDAHARDPLACE but took me forever to fit it in because I kept wanting to shorten it. Hand up for BARTAB being my favorite clue. Thanks to those regulars who chime back in for those of us in syndiland.

DMGrandma 12:24 AM  

@Diri. My IPad seems to have a hang-up with copy and paste, so I just copied the address Bob K gave you onto Google, and I got a delightful interview with ACME.

Considering you live time zones away for here, Inhope it's not to late for you to see this. Now to go look up,the lis tof K words, I can only think of about half a dozen.

Anonymous 2:09 AM  

After following up on "Morton's Fork" on Wikipedia, I went to the entry for Catch-22 and the long list at the end of the entry of "situations with logical similarities". One could say that this puzzle opens up a reflection on the human condition.

Anonyrat 4:09 AM  

Don't usually like the RRNs much, but the "veni, vidi, vici" clue for this one I thought was the best I've seen.
@jackj -
Interesting little-known fact apparently missed by Google: "Pawel Fludzinski" was also Elmer Fudd's real name prior to his arrival at Ellis Island.
@GillI.P. - re "I was thinking "Bowler" of the big fat ball with 4 holes in it type. Not that I'd know that answer either." You evidently wouldn't, given that a bowling ball has three holes, not four. ;-) I too, however, parsed it as "pro bowler" rather than "Pro Bowler," not that it mattered - never heard of Asante Samuel even though I'm a casual fan of football and the Eagles, but not a Philly resident.
Having lived my entire life in Cali, EARLuP made almost as much sense as EARLAP - never had any use for either. Crossing it with what could equally well be ABuSER strikes me as typical vindictive jealous revenge wreaked upon those of us who in places with a decent climate by those of us who don't. (yes, IKID.)
@Anonymous 7:36PM - if thou WEEEST on me, I shallt killeth thou.
@Aeneid Celine Mimeos nee EssenBurg - "HEMI Engine was a huge ???!!!" Let me correct that for you: "HEMI Engine was huge!!!" 426 cubic inches, to be exact.
Lastly, I'm just amazed about all the carping about the NBA/NCAA crossing. Really? In a puzzle that has AENEID next to SCYLLA next to IONIA? Lucky for me, I somehow managed to dredge those up from the depths of my high school/college memory (actually, needed the crosses for IONIA), but for most people? Seems to fit the theory that those who are always publicly demanding "tolerance" are usually the least tolerant of all themselves.
captcha - "diesverf" - now if only I can figure out what a sverf is and why Google hates them so much...

Anonyrat 4:27 AM  

"who live in places"

Anonymous 1:47 PM  

@Anonymous 11:40 - LOL. Yes, I hated that corner.

So many erasures and a near DNF, but liked the concept well enough to look forward to Pawel's next effort.

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