Ovid's book of love poetry / MON 7-2-12 / 1970s TV's Ramsey / Actor John of Sands of Iwo Jima / Small lab container

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hi Rex Parker fans...we are Rex's BFF's (Liz and Jenny), and we will be blogging to you for the next 4 Mondays, because, let's face it, Monday is all we can manage without Rex's help.  Rex is flying to New Zealand as we speak.  He won't even see this blog, because he left on Sunday, arrives on Tuesday, and flies right through Monday, July 2.  So let's get started.  Disclaimer: we have never blogged before and are amateur solvers, so please go easy on us with your comments.

Constructor: Bernice Gordon (she's 98 years old!!)

Relative difficulty: Easy Peasy

THEME: ANAGRAMS — Anagrams...at least we think that's what they're called. It's the kind of puzzle where the letters of one word of are rearranged to spell a different word.

Word of the Day: DERECHO
derecho (Spanishderecho "straight", pronounced [de̞ˈɾe̞tʃo̞][1]), is a widespread and long-lived, violent convectively induced straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms in the form of a squall lineusually taking the form of a bow echo. Derechos blow in the direction of movement of their associated storms, similar to a gust front, except that the wind is sustained and generally increases in strength behind the "gust" front. A warm weather phenomenon, derechos occur mostly in summer, especially June and July in the Northern Hemisphere. They can occur at any time of the year and occur as frequently at night as in the daylight hours.

This word appears nowhere in the puzzle. And as far as Rex knows, has never appeared in a puzzle ever. But get this, WE TAUGHT THIS WORD TO REX PARKER!!! THE 31ST GREATEST CROSSWORD PUZZLE SOLVER IN THE UNIVERSE!!! You may be wondering why we taught him this word??? Well, we experienced a DERECHO in the mid-Atlantic region on Friday evening. One of us (Jenny, not Liz), is still without power as a result of the DERECHO, as are hundreds of thousand of hot and sweaty and miserable people throughout the Baltimore/Washington Metropolitan area.

If you don't have power, we highly suggest margarita popsicles. They're cool, refreshing, and if you eat enough, you'll forget how miserable you are!!
• • •

Theme answers:
  • 20A. [French writer's apprehension by the police?] - Sartre's Arrest
  • 26A. [French writer's state of drunkenness?] - Proust's Stupor
  • 43A. [French writer's two-under-par holes?] - Lesage's Eagles
  • 49A. [French writer's boardwalk booth operator?] - Racine's Carnies
We tried to embed the theme song from the 1986 movie "Legal Eagles" here, because 43A made us think of that, but, we didn't know how. Anyway, the song is "Love Touch," by Rod Stewart, and it's a total 1980's synthesizer classic. Hopefully we'll get this figured out by next monday, or maybe PuzzleGirl or Doug can fix this for us!

  • 60A. EARL [___ of Sandwich?] - (our 1st grade librarian Mrs. Rowles read us a book about the Earl of Sandwich, and we've never forgotten it)
  • 58A. ANTI [Prefix with disestablishmentarianism?] - (a vocabulary word in Mrs. Fogg's 4th grade)
  • 41D. [What WAS I thinking?!?] - This about sums up how we were feeling when it was time to write the blog.
See ya next week!!

Signed, Liz and Jenny, Rex Parker's BFF's


Jeffrey 12:15 AM  

Who uses a word that isn't in the puzzle as the "Word of the Day"? :)
We are going to get along just fine. Nice job.


jae 12:16 AM  

Thanks Liz and Jenny, tres charming.  Really liked this one.  Pretty obscure theme for a Mon., but the crosses were on the easy side so easy overall.  Only erasure was resEw for ALTER (acrosses only strategy).

My granddaughter is three for three.   @Loren -- The apple does not fall far... she uses block caps, a Bic, and the are no extraneous pencil marks or obvious erasures.  I am so proud!  Plus she explained how she figured out the answer for 60d Caeser's  love" by using what she learned in her Spanish course this year.  

Tobias Duncan 12:17 AM  

Not easy peasy for me, ended up with a solid medium Tuesday time. I am feeling a bit more forgiving now that I know this is the 98 year old constructor.
I do love an anagram.

Puzzle Hater 12:19 AM  

Like many people, I enjoy coming to this blog to see puzzles ripped to shreds. Be honest, it's fun. But today, I say thank God Rex is out of town. He so thoroughly eviscerated the last Bernice Gordon puzzle that I stopped reading this blog for months, I felt so sorry for her. Thanks, today, for a more humane post. She is a remarkable woman who deserves respect.

retired_chemist 12:28 AM  

Kind of a nice easy puzzle. Got the anagram shtick early and that helped.

BEAU (Bridges) instead of JEFF (tossup). First thought @ 42A was RESEW (crosswordese), but Ms. Gordon used a real word (ALTER) instead. Note to self: I need to get out more.

Other than those, no overwrites. Debated whether Saddam Hussein's country was a different 4 letter place now that he is dead but decided not to try it.

Thanks, Ms. Gordon.

r.alphbunker 12:46 AM  

@Puzzle Hater

I too was relieved that RP was out of town for this one. The post you refer to made me glad that two year olds can't write.

Googling "define anagram" in France claims that Anagram is a French game show which is a nice touch.

Thought it was on the Tuesdayish side.

r.alphbunker 12:53 AM  

A published interview with Bernice Gordon indicates that she invented the rebus square:

"She [Bernice Gordon] went further, expecting solvers would deduce the need for a tiny drawing in the midst of a phrase or word — so JIMMY(ASTERISK)TER or BI(ASTERISK)BONATE required a "car.""

Rookie 1:03 AM  

@retired chemist

Thanks for the Saddam Hussein laugh!

Would have been a great answer!

PurpleGuy 1:48 AM  

God bless Bernice Gordon for still constructing fun puzzles at her age. I am a big fan.
Remember, my mom lived to 99 and enjoyed doing the puzzles with me!
Ar.alphbunker - thanks for the trivia. I will appreciate rebus squares ever more now. Always enjoyed putting in little drawings.
I laughed out loud at some of the theme answers. Had a lot of fun completing this one. Totally different experience from yesterday. Sigh... let's not go there.

BFFs- Liz and Jenny - fantastic write up. I'm glad I'm posting now, and not at breakfast, or else coffee and other liquids would have been expelled( egested?) and would not have been fun.
Do they make martini popsicles? I'd be in on those.

Thank you a lot Bernice for a fun time solving.

Shanti -

I know, it's been a while since I've chimed in. I'll be here from time to time. Have fun y'all.

Martin 1:55 AM  

I also loved the WOTD. And I can admit to being gotten good. My mother is still without power from Friday's derecho in the DC area and my reaction to the post was "how could I have missed DERECHO in the puzzle?"

I guess it's an open secret that Crosscan is yesterday's blogger. I mean, loyalty to Montreal Expos mascot Youppi is admirable, but using the same avatar for Crosscan here and Jeffrey at Fiend is not covering one's tracks well. I'm probably the last one to have figured it out, anyway.

Two great blog posts now.

chefwen 2:15 AM  

Earlier in the evening our dog Skippy did his usual inhalation of his dinner and ended up snorting, grunting and huffing. We made a little fun of him sounding like a pig. Mid solve I said to my husband "shout out in the puzzle for Skippy" How so, he said. 36A OINK! Now, we know Skipper understands English and he looked quite ashamed. I'm sure he gets more into his air supply than his stomach. Toby, on the other hand, savors his food.

Found the puzzle and the write up most enjoyable. Bernice Gordon, you amaze me. Keep on doing what you are doing, obviously it's working.

Amores Charda Mearas 2:17 AM  

Easy peasy? Who am I to argue with Rex's BFFs? Well, i have nothing to lose, so I will!
I would declare this is decidedly in the challenging Monday/medium Tuesday arena.

Mondays tend not to have anagrams, do not have difficult French writers names, nor would have HEC/AMORES, among other entries.

The H?C of HEC Ramsey wreaked havoc with the solvers at the Napa Valley tournament, esp with the Elder/Older dilemma, crossing a Latin poetry reference.

(We looked it up, tho..HEC Ramsay ran ten times in 1972 as part of the Monday mystery series.)

Anyway, how cool that Bernice is 98, actually mindboggling...and that she invented the rebus...and that she made such a sophisticated lovely puzzle...

AND it's a pangram, but as our lovely subs arent even sure what an anagram is, I'll leave it to their BFF to explain the rest!

I suspect some SW corner rewriting, as I honestly don't believe a 98 yr old woman would have SACFLY in a puzzle.

We had a lovely time in Napa, by the way...small turnout, but Dan Feyer and gal Gretchen M did a fantastic job, beginning to end. And almost everyone won a prize thanks to the generosity of Napa merchants...
See you in Oakland September 8 instead?

chefwen 2:25 AM  

@Crosscan/Jeffrey - I neglected to thank you for yesterdays write-up. It was hysterical and I loved every minute of it, how remiss of me. I always love your posts even though they have gotten far and few between.

@Purple Guy - Try to shine around a little more often, we miss you.

chefwen 2:30 AM  

Let us try few and far between, yeah, that's better. Awfully early for three and out.

jae 3:33 AM  

@chefwen -- let me try "there are" vs. "the are" and put a " before Caeser's in my post. I've got one more left which I'll save for further corrections.

JenCT 3:45 AM  

I agree with @Andrea; crunchy for a Monday: ASWAN, PHIAL, HEC, SACFLY, XMAS.

Are RAVES still popular? Just wondering.

@retired_chemist: forgot to thank you yesterday for the Seinfeld clips.

Fun writeup!

Michael47bljd 6:27 AM  

Love your comments.

Z 7:01 AM  

I agree with @Amores Charda Mearas about the HEC/AMORES cross. Hic Haec Hoc had no room for HEC.

I have a different nit with SACFLY, as I believe it is a "running scoring batted ball," not a "running scoring hit."

Anagrams, a pangram, and decent fill. A well done Monday.

Anonymous 7:07 AM  

One of my fastest times ever. Took me longer to realize the WOTD was not in the puzzle than it did to solve the puzzle itself.

Thanks guest bloggers!

Anonymous 7:29 AM  

this is Matt Altieri can I have the free year/

jberg 7:53 AM  

Got me wondering - how do you make a margarita popsicle when your power is out? I guess you can buy them in stores, if their power is on, and then you have to eat them all right away before they melt. If so, your post was none the worse for it. Brilliant!

I'd never heard of Ovid's AMORES - I had heard of ARS AMATORIA, and thought maybe they were different names for the same thing, but no. I guess the guy always had the same thing on his mind. Remarkably, the Wikipedia article on this 2-millenium old book is flagged for 'disputed neutrality' - time to let the argument go, folks!

I didn't even notice the pangram! Thanks, @acme, for pointing it out. Was Will saving this one until @Rex was up in the air?

Great writeup, makes me sorry I'll be in Madrid next Monday!

orangeblossomspecial 8:05 AM  

I agree with @jberg: You'd better eat those margarita popsicles pretty quickly if you don't have power. They won't be popsicles long.

Now you know how central Florida felt when four hurricanes passed over in a two-month period. Being without power for a week is a bitch.

Bill Carlisle had a catchy song about 10D "NO HELP wanted".

Bing Crosby, believe it or not, had a fine recording of 26D "Home on the RANGE".

joho 8:46 AM  

Brava to Bernice! Fun way to start the week and because I knew HEC I didn't run into any snags. I can see how this might have been more a Tuesday level puzzle as mentioned by @Amores Charda Mearas, though. Especially with the unexpected anagrams -- which I loved -- of French authors, no less! This being a pangram was the icing on the cake. Plus the fill wasn't forced to achieve it.

The fact that Ms. Gordon is also the originator of the rebus impresses me even more. Bernice, thanks for all you do for the puzzle world! Can't wait to see your next!

Also, thanks to @Liz and @ Jenny (are you twins? for your take on the puzzle. You got me with derecho! Speaking of which, I was caught in it last Friday while leaving the market. The sky went black and the wind kicked up suddenly so I was barely able to make it to my car. When I got home dirt and grit from the parking lot were stuck on my face and hair. It was terrifying. I kept looking up to see the funnel cloud. Tree branches were everywhere. Thank God I was able to get home safely ... and we didn't lose power. I send my best wishes to all who are enduring this heat without it!

dk 8:49 AM  

Two references to rear ends and an OINK. My kind of puzzle.

Liz and Jenny, In fifth grade Mrs. Redmond taught us that if we got our hair cut when the moon was full we would go bald. I, err, have a personal question I would like you (as his BFFs) to ask Rex about his last trip to the...

A big clue for Wisconsinites who may wonder where the name RACINE came from.

🐷🐷🐷 (3 little pigs) Thank you Ms. Gordon

chefbea 9:08 AM  

Good puzzle and I figured it was a pangram as I put the J in. Never heard of a rave party...what is it.

I agree Liz and Jenny look like twins.

We didn't have the WOTD here last night but the winds were 70 miles an hour. I went outside to move a plant and the wind blew me right down. Huge gash in my arm

Sue McC 9:17 AM  

Just right for a Monday puzzle. And please God, let me still be capable of solving puzzles at 98. Wow.

Shamik 9:18 AM  

@chefbea: Hope it didn't need stitches and that it heals quickly.

At 4:34, it was a solidly challenging Monday...but enjoyable. Really surprised to see how many found it easy. Maybe I'm not quite awake yet.

jackj 9:36 AM  

98 years old and giving us such a clever, elegant, sophisticated puzzle; Ms. Gordon you are amazing!

I guess if our senior citizen constructor can tout rappers Lil Jon and Fat Joe, confidently clue RAVES as “Parties that might have glow-in-the dark freebies” and also describe a SACFLY in her cluing, while devising four clever anagrams of legendary French writers for her theme entries, (PROUSTSSTUPOR being the best), we should at least give a little bow in her direction while excitedly hollering:

The thought of 60 years of creating crosswords boggles the mind and thrills this not so secret admirer.

Thanks Ms. Gordon, you’ve given us a Monday puzzle to remember (and a pangram to boot)!

ranman 9:49 AM  

@z is correct--a sac fly is not a hit. It is a batted ball, maybe a "hit ball", a struck ball but it is not a hit.

No debate--E Editor.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

I liked this puzzle by our favorite 98 year old constructor. I enjoy anagrams and always appreciate a pangram. Great write-up BFF of Rex. Derecho is priceless.

If anyone, like me, misses a Rex rant against pangrams here are a few from the past.

Friday, October 15, 2010:
“I strangely resent pangrams”

Monday, November 1, 2010:
“I have a lot of respect for a puzzle that gets this close but doesn’t go for the pangram.”

Thursday, November 18, 2010:
“Pangrams do not normally impress me at all”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010:
“But I want to use this puzzle as an example of why no one should ever make a pangram puzzle ever again”

Wednesday, April 11, 2012:
“a pointless, joyless goal”

Monday, May 9, 2011:
“Pangram averted! Hurray!”

Tuesday, July 26, 2011:
“a bush-league stunt”

Thursday, August 11, 2011:
“lamentable, rookie decision to go for a pangram”

Tuesday, November 1, 2011:
“pangrams suck”

Friday, January 27, 2012:
“it's a dull and easy puzzle that suffers from the problems every pangram suffers from”


mac 9:53 AM  

Crunchy but very good for a Monday - thank you Bernice.

The girls got me too with their derecho, maybe also because I just read about it yesterday. I didn't think Ovid's book would be amoral.

@chefbea: hope your arm heals quickly.

Thanks for the write-up!

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

Hold everything! I also had a Mrs. Fogg in fourth grade. I am also from Baltimore/Washington (well, Baltimore). Can we please get to the bottom of this?!

Liz Glass 10:08 AM  

Were your school colors brown and white?

Tita 10:27 AM  

When I got 20A, I thought ho-hum, since I'm not wild about anagrams...
But when I realized they were ALL French writers, I liked it!

@dk - Don't forget 13D END.

I agree it was more a Tuesday - some clues maybe Wed-ish, like PHIAL.

Liked the mini-farm theme in west - Swiss CHARD, corn on the COB, and an OINKing pig.

Thanks @r.alph for letting us know about Bernice and the Rebus. (Hmm...that might be a good title for a children's book...)

Felicitations, Ms. Gordon. My Mom is 88. She got me doing puzzles, and we still do them together.
Thank you for a stellar Monday.

(And is that a shout-out to yourself at 18A?)

chefbea 10:39 AM  

Meant to mention yesterday. Did everyone see the beet marinated chicken recipe in Mark Bittman's column in the NYT magazine??

Arm seems to be doing fine, just a little stiff

Two Ponies 10:44 AM  

Great Monday puz. Pretty ambitious but solid all around.
Thanks Jenny and Liz. Your WOTD was not only informative but also very funny. Made me do a double take.
My only real hesitation in the fill was John Agar. Wouldn't a Petri dish have been more Mondayish?
Loved the rebus trivia. Inventing that was really amazing.

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

Could some of you wise people please let this ancient geezer know what BFF stands for? Oops, I guess I'm not ancient. The amazing constructor has fifteen years on me!

Anonymous 10:56 AM  


Best Friends Forever

Loren Muse Smith 11:00 AM  

Liz and Jenny - you really got me! I've been without power since Friday and probably won't have it restored until this Friday because of said derecho! I can't work the puzzles with no computer. All I can do is peer in at all ya'll from my blackberry. :( Anyway, I was stunned to see your word of the day, and I briefly believed it was in the puzzle!!!

@Jae - so proud of your grandchild! She's doing it right!

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Enjoyable puzzle by Ms. Gordon!

Enjoyable, though way too short of a write-up by the BFFs- wanted more!! DERECHO- too funny!

So far, am not pining away for 41, altho he DOES deserve a looooooong vacation...

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

WOTD gave me pause as I knew I saw the word recently but was pretty sure it wasn't in the puzzle! We had the derecho in our neck of the woods too. Fortunately we still have power. We were without it for 10 days in September and 4 days in the dead of winter in recent years. Four days in the dead of winter is much harder, but this time of the year not pleasant either! Glad to see you found such a good way to keep your cool!

Enjoyed your write up and the puzzle. Ms. Gordon is an inspiration!

dk 11:08 AM  

@tita, muitíssimo obrigado. My cheeks (pun intended) are red I missed one.

Heres oinking at you kid!

Pete 11:09 AM  

May we please just let the false pangram issue just die? Do you have not have real controversies in your lives that you have to beat this non-existant one to death? Rex isn't impressed by pangrams, and dislikes them when the act of creating one compromises fill. That's all he said. Anyone who is impressed by pangrams is welcome to continue to be so impressed. Anyone who is willing to have the puzzle compromised by sub-par fill frequently necessitated by the desire to achieve a pangram is welcome to do so.

Lewis 11:20 AM  

@orangeblossom -- that WAS the summer from hell. No hurricanes for 26 years before that summer, I believe, and none since.

This was a quality Monday puzzle, with wisdom behind it. Bravo, Ms. Gordon.

Jenny, I hope you get your power soon. Liz and Jenny, that was a refreshing writeup!

J.T. Fales 11:24 AM  

Bwahaha, thanks Liz and Jenny. You guys are fun! And good word of the day (if a bit unorthodox :)!
I had trouble on today's puzzle because of the obscure French names, but once I got the anagrams theme I was able to solve it, so it all evens out. See you next Monday!

thursdaysd 11:36 AM  

I love anagrams, so this was mostly fun. Mostly because the E in HEC was a complete guess.

But while I like anagrams I'm not so fond of rebuses...

Heal well, chefbea. Lots of storms around NC last night, but I was in a pocket of calm.

Masked and Anonymous 11:41 AM  

@31BFF's: Welcome to CrossWorld. Our power outage yesterday was shorter and non-derecho. Desquirrelo. Or, as the electricians say, BFF (Burnt Feral Furball).

Primo MonPuz, Bernice. You're amazin', darlin'. Gotta agree with @Acme, tho: this MonPuz put up a scuffle. Otherwise, all I can say is thank heavens for proUst.

OISK 11:46 AM  

Very fast, but missed one square, and everyone will be able to guess which. Ah, what the hec....I enjoyed it anyway!

Sparky 11:55 AM  

Nice write up BFFs. You got me on WOTD. I scoured the grid before reading on.

Amazing Bernice Gordon. Good for you and thank you.

DNF. Had popFLY and did not fix the first letter. Ah well.

Good start to the week.

Sparky 11:57 AM  

I forgot. Feel better @chefbea. Take care of yourself.

Bird 12:05 PM  

Another great write-up. If this trend continues Rex will need to keep his eyes open lest there be a coup de blog.

The puzzle was fun. Didn't like the first time trough the crosses with all the French authors in the grid, but the anagrams were a big assist.

Personal nit -Metlife Stadium is home to the NY Giants. That other team happens to play there once in a while.

Puzzle nit - everyone has an IQ, not just geniuses

Mistake - I do the puzzle on paper and my C for 6D looked like an L. So with the H from 21D I thought 23A was HAL Ramsey. Don't remember the show, but the answer made sense and never thought twice. Ah, well.

Malapop with REAR for 19A.

The Babe 12:07 PM  

As others have said, a SACFLY is not a hit. And it should have been clued differently (abbr. , var., etc.) because the full term is Sacrifice Fly.

Pete 12:14 PM  

I've got to agree with Andrea, this wasn't a Monday puzzle, which should be accessable to everyone. RACINE and LESAGE don't fit that bill at all, PROUST and SARTRE barely. The crossing of HEC/ELDER was inexcusable for a Monday.

A tangental factoid, PROUST has to be the most lied about author in all of literature, as in "I've read PROUST's Rememberances of Things Past No one's *read* Rememberances of Things Past. I know someone who got his PhD in French Literature by reading/translating/comparing translations/something related to Rememberances of Things Past and he did none of these things, he just couldn't do it. No rational human being can do it.

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

Great Monday puzzle. And, anyone who says anything bad about a 98 year old constructor needs a good old fashioned (fill in that blank)!!

Carola 12:25 PM  

A "just right" Monday for me, with the bonus of the learning about the remarkable Bernice Gordon.

My favorite theme entry was SARTRE'S ARREST, which I thought went well with his No Exit.

Liz and Jenny, you can forget your "What WAS I thinking" qualms! Looking forward to seeing you again next week.

Pooloniousmonk 12:36 PM  

I finished in near record time. Then I searched for the error. Searching for the error consumed a near record time. The error ironically concerned an oft-noted characteristic of the constructor. The circuitous conflation has me gobsmacked.

Rob C 12:37 PM  

Zipped right through this like it wasn't even there. I don't keep time, but this would have been a record for me. Didn't even slow down once.

Fine puzz regardless of constructor's age.

Wanted to comment on 18A being a shout out to herself but you beat me to the punch. Damn egotistical constructors...WW I generation thinks they're so high and mighty... :-)

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

@Liz Glass
They certainly were. "As we're marching on to victr'y 'neath the brown and white." Class of 2001.

KRMunson 1:06 PM  

I work in Racine, WI and I didn't know it was a French writer's name!! Thanks for the education, Bernice!

JenCT 1:10 PM  

@Bird: MetLife Stadium is the shared home of the NY Giants and the NY Jets.

They transform the stadium into the colors & merchandise of whichever team happens to be playing that week.


Longtime Giants fan here.

syndy 1:19 PM  

Thanks @ SPARKY -Was going too fast to proof and didn't catch my "POP" up!At least I have company! Ms Gordon was that you back in '66 with the pictures of the fishes on a sunday?freaked me OUT!another great puzzle! BFF"S LOVED your WOTD.(rex sometimes phones those in)great job!

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

Easy peasy

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

Great write up. I liked the puzzle. I like it even more knowing a woman of years wrote it. Since I intend to be a little old lady someday, I always support them! Thanks Liz and Jenny for doing this even in the midst of no power. You two will do great with the blog!

Evan 1:47 PM  

HEC/AMORES did me in -- I chose A instead.

One moderately good thing about tough Natick crossings like that: When you get it wrong, you remember it far better than just about anything in the puzzle, and it's possible that you'll end up remembering the correct answer much more easily than if you had guessed correctly.

Case in point, at the 2012 ACPT, a Liz Gorski puzzle had a tough crossing with E-W and I-OH. The clue for the former was "Yecch!" or "Gross!" or something like that, and the clue for the latter was probably "First name of architect Pei." The missing letter was either going to be an E or a W, and the first clue was no help. So when I guessed W and found out later that it was wrong, I told myself I will never, ever forget that his name is IEOH M. Pei. Had I gotten it right, it's quite possible that I'd have just forgotten about it since there would have been no trigger to look further into that obscure bit of trivia. In my case, the trigger was being ticked off that my perfect score was ruined.

So to sum up, I'm certain I will not be forgetting soon that it's HEC and not HaC Ramsey. Then again, since it has made an appearance in the NYT only 8 times during the Will Shortz era, and since I've never had a riveting conversation with anyone at a party about the cultural impact of Hec Ramsey, that might not help me a whole lot.

Evan 1:51 PM  

By the way, I'm enjoying the non-Rex write-ups so far and how they break from his blogging convention -- like tossing in a random Word of the Day that has no relation to the puzzle whatsoever.

I look forward to doing the same for all y'all on July 12th. Stay tuned.

noneavailable007 2:33 PM  

I want to eat Margarita Popsicles but have no power. How can I make one without power? A cruel suggestion indeed.
Perhaps, I should ask Liz & Jenny.

Liz Glass 2:39 PM  

@park school alum...we're lifers from the class of '87.

Noam D.'s Monad 2:56 PM  

Nice puzzle and writeup. Didn't notice the pangram, nor realize that the constructor is more than twice my age; those tidbits are neat too. I found it easy enough to solve (with some effort) from just the Down clues, though I too had no idea what the HEC 23A was. Now I see that it's a euphemism for an alternative answer to the Saddam clue for 62A :-)

On a Monday I'd have expected a theme reveal/explanation/clue somewhere for such a theme, but maybe I'm underestimating Monday solvers.

Maybe 25A could have been "Proust's Sprout", if he grew 32A:CHARD in his garden?

I knew DERECHO means "straight", and also "right" (as in either "human rights" or the opposite of IZQUIERDO), so I thought they guest bloggers were offering an alternative entry for 39D:ELL. I had no idea it's also used for a thunderstorm. Maybe I'd have learned that in AP Spanish.


Anonymous 3:03 PM  

@Liz Glass
Great to meet you! Ethan Cooper, sometime constructor. Graduated Park with Mike Shteyman, legendary constructor. Who knew that one high school could produce so many crossword people?

Sfingi 3:09 PM  

Never heard of LESAGE or JOHN AGAR. Apparently the latter married Shirley Temple. Otherwise, clever puzzle.

Remembrance of Things Past - in 3 parts - it's about a cookie.

(Madeleines are better than OREOs. The first ingredient is butter.)

If I'm like that at 90+ hurray. Otherwise, lock and load. I believe I have a right to say that since I visit my mom in the Home every day.

@Oisk, Evan - Hand up for Natick at HEC AMORES, though made good guess. How do you pronounce IEOH? Puzzle clue for that could also be noise made after sharp pain.

My sister, Dedree Drees, in Baltimore, got her power back. Baltimore w/o AC is iterally worse than hell. As a matter-of-fact, summer in Baltimore is the model for Hell and Saddam is indeed there, along with Roy Cohn.

Mike 3:20 PM  

Thank you for the guest write-up! This was my best time ever, according to the NY Times iPad app. Made some of the mistakes noted above, such as resew, and Beau.

Anne Marie 4:32 PM  

Looking forward to DERECHO making the NYT Crossword some day soon. Thanks, Jenny and Liz!

Tita 4:33 PM  

@Rob C - you Irish? Your use of "herself" reminds me of how my inlaws speak.

@Chefbea - if you're checking out new beet recipes, means your arm must be OK - good to hear...!

@Evan - you and about 600 other folks (including me) got that crossing wrong (right @JenCT??)... I had forgotten, but thanks to you, and now @sfingi, I will remember it till I'm 98.

Great comments today too.

sanfranman59 4:47 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 6:57, 6:50, 1.02, 64%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:43, 3:41, 1.28, 99%, Challenging

I'm back after a week of cruising Alaska's Inside Passage with (gasp!) no reasonable access to the internet. I'm told that the scenery up there is stunningly beautiful, but I wouldn't know since all I saw was rain clouds and fog and not even a single ray of sunshine in 7 days. Funny, it didn't look like that in the brochures.

Today's stats are probably skewed by the fact that no online solve times were posted until 6:08am Eastern time this morning. I know that I couldn't solve it online last night and it looks like I wasn't alone. Since there are way fewer than the usual number of times posted, it seems likely that some of the usual fastest solvers gave up on solving today's puzzle online.

Bird 4:49 PM  

@JenCT - sorry you took the bait about Metlife Stadium. I myself am a longtime Giants fan and love to give it to Jets fans. It was especially fun in the old stadium when Gang Green was truly a guest in Big Blue's house.

3 and out, I think

Evan 5:07 PM  


I don't know if you've heard about the change at the NYT effective next Monday, where home subscribers will have to pay extra in subscription fees to access the puzzle to solve it online. What I'd like to know is how this change might affect your stats going forward.

For example, let's say you normally get solving times for 600 users each day. But now that a bunch of home subscribers have decided that they're not going to pay extra to solve it online, your numbers drop to an average of 400 solvers per day. Would that dramatically change your average and median solving times? Or are those numbers sufficiently large such that it wouldn't change much?

Maybe we'd have to see how many people stop solving online, and find out who stopped (top 100 solvers or others who take several hours to complete a puzzle) before we can know for sure.

Rex Parker 5:52 PM  

Met my BFFs for the first time yesterday at Dulles (whence the picture at the top of the blog). Before that, I knew them only virtually (back when I accepted any old schmo as my FB friend...). I love today's write-up. Can't wait for more. Let it be known that *I* suggested "derecho" be the WOTD, despite its not being in the puzzle (or any puzzle that i know of). But they *did* teach me the word. True story.

I'm in NZ now.

Best to you all,


Rex Parker 5:53 PM  

Sorry, I met them TWO days ago. I forgot that the Pacific Ocean swallowed Monday whole (and I'm writing you from the Future).


JenCT 5:58 PM  

@Tita: Yes, SO many people got that crossing wrong at the ACPT.

@Bird: Bait taken! I like to tease my brother also, since he's always been a Jets fan & I've always been a Giants fan. I saw a show about how they transform the stadium from one team to another; I can't seem to find it right now, but there are plenty of YouTube videos.

Three and out.

Martin 5:59 PM  

I'd have preferred a better wording for the SACFLY clue, but it's not wrong technically. What it's not is a "base hit" or "safe hit," and the clue including the words "that puts the batter out" makes it clear we're not calling it a base hit.

It's pretty hard to define a sacrifice fly without using the word "hit." The rulebook says:

Score a sacrifice fly when, before two are out, the batter hits a ball in flight handled by an outfielder or an infielder running in the outfield in fair or foul territory that
(1) is caught, and a runner scores after the catch, or
(2) is dropped, and a runner scores, if in the scorer's judgment the runner could have scored after the catch had the fly been caught.

"Run-scoring hit ball" would have been better, no doubt, but look at the rulebook and you'll see that "hit" as opposed to "base hit" is not defined. Ties go to the editor.

On the other hand, @The Babe whiffed. An abbreviation signal is required when you don't utter what's written, as with "Be there on Tue." It's the extra that the reader is expected to know that makes it an abbreviation.

If you say it as written it's an acronym ("NASA"), an initialism ("SPCA") or a word derived by shortening ("sac"). None of those need abbreviation signals, although an editor can opt for one.

Liz Glass 6:00 PM  

Yay! Rex loves it! But for the record, I said that *I* wanted Derecho to be word of the day, but it wasn't part of the puzzle. Rex said to go ahead and do it anyway.

Liz, aka the schmo on the right

The Babe 6:13 PM  

@Martin - Point taken, but . . .

The general solving public shouldn't need to know it's abbreviated or shortened on a Monday.

Dear Abby 6:15 PM  

Wow - a battle for the limelight from half a world away...

A proper blog host, after having roped in - er - solicited help in continuing his glamorous blog so that he may enjoy a much-deserved vacation, would graciously step out of said limelight and let the good souls bask in their own 15 minutes.

Now as to that Born on the 4th snub yesterday...

quilter1 6:23 PM  

I've been trying to comment all day and keep getting an error message. If this works I'll leave my real comment.

quilter1 6:26 PM  

Alrighty then. I thought the puzzle was easy and I knew the authors and I like anagrams. Didn't notice the pangram but I never do. My Monday NYT is my first cup of coffee and my Monday BEQ is an all day sucker.
@chefbea: be well and also stay out of 70 mph winds.

Liz Glass 6:32 PM  

We can share the limelight. That's what BFF's do :)

Anonymous 7:30 PM  

@Martin - Painful. Just painful reading your defense of SAC FLY. The problem is not with the clue. The bat hits the ball and goes into the outfield and is caught on the fly while the runner on third base scores after tagging up. The problem is the answer. SAC FLY? Nobody talks that way, and as Aceme said, certainly not a 99 year old woman. There is a reason why SAC FLY is there. The F completes JEFF which has a J and allows for a pangram. I confess I would not have known that had I not faithfully read every word that Rex has to say about pangrams the last two years....


The Babe 7:44 PM  

@JFC - All baseball fans know and use SAC FLY. The argument is the lack of a hint that the answer is shortened.

Evan 7:49 PM  


Don't be so sure. Go to any Cubs game in Chicago and your chances are decent that you'll meet a few 99-year-old women who a) use the term SAC FLY and b) haven't seen their team win the Series in their lifetimes.

Anonymous 7:55 PM  

@The Babe - Have you interviewed all baseball fans? I know at least one you haven't. Nobody talks that way unless they are verbally challenged. I know what the complaint is. SAC = sacrificed but I served in the 8th Air Force which was at the time part of SAC - Strategic Air Command. The only people who talk that way about baseball are beer bellies looking at a boob tube. It is a lousy answer but because I know baseball and beer-slopping morons I figured it out.

Tobias Duncan 8:16 PM  

Anon 7:55 Now that is a SAC I have dealt with. I did a stint in the Strategic Air Command back in the 80s.
Good bunch of guys.

retired_chemist 8:27 PM  

@ An0on 7:55 - have you interviewed all baseball and beer-slopping morons? I know at least one you haven't.....

Anonymous 8:38 PM  

@retired chemist - I've never interviewed me. But maybe I should....

@Tobias - I'm glad I've hung on this long because I have new found respect for you despite your dislike for sports....


Anonymous 9:05 PM  

I am sorry but French authors are not appropriate for a Monday. I got ripped off yet again:( As I get better the puzzles get tougher. Soon a Monday will be impossible.

Z 9:19 PM  

@Anon AKA JFC - Channeling your in Rex, I see.

"SAC FLY" is very much in the baseball lexicon. Why use four syllables when two conveys your meaning. It is definitely the clue that is wrong, "run scoring hit that puts the batter out," is different from, "the batter hits a ball in flight...." In the clue hit is a noun while in the rule hits is a verb. Make hit in the clue an adjective, "a run scoring hit ball...," and the clue would be okay.

Z 9:43 PM  

"inner Rex" that is.

Martin 10:06 PM  

A hit ball is a strike. It's only a ball if you lay off it.

Obviously, my point is that words like "ball" and "hit" have meaning only in context. I agreed that there were ways to improve the clue from the standpoint of what people usually mean when they use these words in conversation.

But it's also important to recognize that -- because words like "ball" and "hit" are so ubiquitous -- the "hit" you're focusing on is only a conversational, vernacular sense. Misusing hit can't be "wrong" if the rulebook doesn't use it the way you do.

You're saying "it's not a base hit and I demand the right to call a base hit a hit, so you're wrong." I get it, but it's never painful to look to the rulebook, which clearly is silent on this wording.

sanfranman59 10:10 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 6:56, 6:50, 1.01, 62%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:27, 3:41, 1.21, 97%, Challenging (5th highest median solve time of 157 Mondays)

I'm tempted to exclude today's numbers from my spreadsheet. There were only 478 solve times posted today compared to the previous Monday low of 582 and a Monday average of 866. The Medium-Challenging rating for the All Solvers group seems believable and matches my own solving experience.

@Evan ... Thanks for the heads-up about the home subscribers no longer automatically having access to the puzzles. It will bear watching what happens to the numbers. There are enough solvers Monday through Thursday that it may not have a big impact on the median solve times. But Friday through Sunday could be affected.

Deb 10:36 PM  

I sure hope that when I turn 98 (i'm just ornery enough that I'm sure I will)' folks don't start treating me like some sort of defenseless child ala Puzzle Hater, r.alph bunker, et al. That would seriously piss me off.

Rex's write-up about Ms. Gordon's last puzzle did the same thing for me that Evan notes about tough Naticks: I immediately recalled who she was when I saw her name on this puzzle. She can thank Rex for that.

Crabby Old Lady 11:19 PM  

@Deb...huh? If your post is snarky sarcasm, it's above my head...
Will you also be the type to swat someone with your cane if they hold a door open or offer you their seat?

Geez...can't anyone just be plain nice anymore?

Rex Parker 11:26 PM  

TUI. I saw a TUI just now. Awesome.

RP (from Wellington, NZ)

Z 11:41 PM  

@Martin - I did read the excerpt from the rule book. And I agree that words have different meanings in different contexts. I also understand that nouns and verbs are different. The noun hit means a specific thing in baseball vernacular, a batter getting safely to first (or beyond) after hitting the ball into fair territory. If hit had been used as a verb, like in the rule book, or as an adjective as in my suggestion you would not hear a peep out of me.

3 and a typo correction (it's like a foul tip, I get one more strike) - I'm out.

Tita 12:13 AM  

@Z...love your foul tip comparison...!
I wondered if the 3 and out rule exempts answering someone else's question, fixing a typo, or wishing someone happy birthday.

As for this SACFLY discussion, it is probably the most inane extended debate I have seen since the 3rd grade! I just love y'all...really...

Long time reader 12:22 AM  

I just made up a workable joke around TUI, indirectly referencing the great PTUI fiasco of '07. Except it was the great PFUI fiasco of '07. There wasn't a FUI around there Rex, was there?

leif perkins 4:02 AM  

Today's Headline: Dynamic Debutantes Disembowel Dinosaur's Drossword!

Multiple bravos for rexworlds newest power couple, Jizzy! Can I perchance get an encore?? oh wait, I can get three?!? perfect.

In honor of the occasion, I would like to dedicate a limerick to my favorite nonagenarian, Bernice Gordon and her wonderful clueing of 31-down. This one's for you nice-nice!

She's 98, just shy of a C-spot
A stranger to the raves she is not
She's had X on her tongue
Since before you were young
A "Bonnier Codger" hath never been wrought

Deb 4:43 AM  

Dearest Crabby,

Don't worry about it going over your head, dear. You're self-admittedly beyond your prime, so I have lowered my expectations and standards for your doddering old self.

I suspect Ms. Gordon, and any other octa- or nona-genarian with similarly sharp mental faculties gets it.

Anonymous 2:38 PM  


Wow! I must say you are STILL very *very* hot! :-)


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Anonymous 11:50 AM  

Sac fly is used on sports pages all the time, even in headlines. Just google it and start counting the hits, like this one:

"Sac fly in 10th inning lifts Yankees to win"


"Twins beat White Sox on walkoff sac fly in 9th"

Dirigonzo 6:36 PM  

Didn't get the anagram feature until I got here, despite having all the theme answers filled in correctly - tres clever. HEC eluded me, too, and I watched a lot of TV in the '70s. Still thought it was a remarkable Monday (or maybe Tuesday) puzzle!

Seeing OREOS in the grid reminded me of Frank Longo's Premier Puzzle from yesterday, whereby he elevated out favorite creme-filled cookies to a whole new level of punniness; great fun and highly recommended.

Canadian syndilanders - Happy Civic Holiday! (But what the heck does that mean, anyway?)

Spacecraft 7:44 PM  

And I thought the 14-year-old kid who made the dice cube was incredible. Ms. Gordon: You go girl!!! Four six-letter French writers whose names anagram smoothly into regular English words (well, CARNIE is quasi-regular, I guess): who'd a thunk? Fantastic job, sweet lady! Hurry up and make another one!

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