Washington who was called “Queen of the Blues” / TUE 7-17-12 / Karate school / Musical instruments listed very late alphabetically / Business where the customers call the shots? / Japanese port

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Medium-Easy

THEME: THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA — A puzzle that celebrates Ernest Hemingway’s upcoming birthday and stereotypical brevity by including a novel title that is six three-letter words.

Word of the Day: DIADEM (5-down: Crown) —
  • a jeweled crown or headband worn as a symbol of sovereignty.
  • (the diadem) archaic the authority or dignity symbolized by a diadem: the princely diadem
Origin: Middle English: from Old French diademe, via Latin from Greek diadēma 'the regal headband of the Persian kings', from diadein 'bind around'
• • •
Greetings Crossworld,

Having enjoyed watching our substitute colleagues cover for Rex these last two weeks, we are both gratified and shocked that he allowed us to take over for a day given that he has neither any clue who we are nor do we hold any published ranking or weight in the realm of crosswords. We’re just a transcontinental family of fans (two in Colorado, one in South Carolina) who sent Rex an e-mail. The inmates have truly taken over the asylum.

A single clap for everyone who knew that July 21 (1899) was Ernest Hemingway’s birthday, except for residents of Key West – who have Hemingway Days and polydactyl cats over the rest of us.  Peter A. Collins has constructed an enjoyable Tuesday puzzle that not only commemorates Hemingway by putting his name smack dab in the center, but also his staccato style by including the theme answer THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, a novel titled by a series of three letter words. You may notice that there is no FISH in the puzzle at all, that’s because it (spoilers) got eaten by sharks (/spoilers). An alternative explanation for the puzzle’s date, albeit one that is entirely coincidental, is that the titular OLD MAN’s favorite baseball player was Joe DiMaggio, whose 56 game hitting streak ended on July 16 (the date as we write this) in 1941. More on him later…

DiMaggio? Coincidence? Maybe?

Theme answers:
  • 19A Dope fiend [poTHEad]
  • 21A Burn without a flame [smOLDer]
  • 28A Land where the Danube flows [roMANia]
  • 45A With lack of distinctiveness [blANDly]
  • 52A Musical instruments listed very late alphabetically [ziTHErs]
  • 56A Trouser measurements [inSEAms]
  • 37A Author of the book whose title is circled in the grid [ERNEST HEMINGWAY]

Beyond a little bit of easy-to-spot crosswordese (otaru, ova, oso, asp…) and the fact that the NE and SW corners are dangling by a single letter (a detail disliked by some sticklers, or so we’ve heard), there was fun hiding throughout the puzzle, particularly the inclusion of a series of names.  Let us gaze upon the puzzle’s own "axis of evil":
  • 8D Iranian Revolution Leader [KHOMEINI]
  • 30D Camp David Accords party [ANWAR SADAT]
  • 63A China's __ En-lai [CHOU]
  • 14D __ Malfoy (Harry Potter villain) [DRACO]

We can debate whether [36A] Anna Nicole Smith should be included.  As die hard Red Sox fans, we would definitely include DiMaggio (as referenced above).

Words we like because they were cheeky and/or allow us to post videos:
  • 15A "Voulez-vous coucher __ moi ce soir?" [AVEC] — in a power-house 2002 rendition of Lady Marmalade
  • 19A Dope fiend [POTHEAD] — come join us in Colorado where the (medical) MJ is as plentiful as the snow
  • 52A Musical instruments listed very late alphabetically [ZITHERS] — coincidentally, Nicole Kidman chooses a poor zither player over a maharajah in Moulin Rouge (see video above), soon to be rereleased in theaters retitled The Great Gatsby.
  • 64A Keister [TUSHY] — see also derriere, posterior, backside, fanny, rump, seat, bum
  • 65A Groucho or Chico [MARX] — because who can resist inserting some comedy into this post.  Also, here's the FISH!

Wow, that took a lot more time than we expected; this process has left us with the greatest respect for Rex for knocking this out daily.

Signed, Two Men and a Woman of the Sea of Crossworld,

Mim, Ben, and Charles
A very cold Atlantic Ocean plunge on Jan 1, 2012


Tobias Duncan 1:09 AM  

Wow that is one hell of a pop culture mashup in the Dakotas. I knew none of it or the WOD but it still went down pretty fast.
I keep wondering who this Mira Sorvino person is so I googled here.She looks freakishly like my little sister.
Crossword gathering in Taos sometime in August. Whiskey pool and Jesser.

Pooloniousmonk 1:22 AM  

That was a nice write-up for a fine puzzle. And, like so many puzzles, it was a pan-vowel. I wonder if the constructor was left-handed.

Evan 1:26 AM  

I dunno, I'm torn on this one. The theme was very, very light and didn't bring much of a challenge. Two circled words in (THE OLD), the rest of it fell instantly, and that was it. Can't say it really knocked me out with any great a-ha moment. I'm of the opinion that more theme density is not necessarily a good thing -- if there's too much of it, it can constrain the puzzle with lots of ugly crosswordese or obscure trivia. But too little of it, in a themed puzzle? That's a different issue.

That's not to say that the fill or the solving experience was necessarily bad. JUST FOR NOW is a good entry, as is POTHEAD and ANWAR SADAT. And who doesn't like the clue for AVEC? I guess it is a little neat how all three-letter words of the book title fit smack in the middle of seven-letter words. But in the end, it felt a little on the BLAND side.

It might have been my fastest Tuesday solve ever, so I guess that's nice.

ZenMonkey 1:38 AM  

Great job, fellow inmate!

Good call on the axis of evil. I was struck by the confluence of the incomparable LENNY Bruce and DINAH Washington, plus ANNA Nicole Smith (incomparable in perhaps a different way), all of whom, to quote crosswordese, ODed.

I enjoyed the appearances of ZITHERS and TUSHY, neither of which are commonly found in the NYT. No idea why I feel obliged to point out that you play the former while sitting on the latter.

Fun fact: stare long enough at the circled THEs and you will start to see the author as ERNES THE MINGWAY.

Joey H.

jae 1:48 AM  

I swear I've seen a rebus version of this on a Thurs. in the last couple of years.  Anyway, medium for me with Osaka for OTARU and AustrIA for ROMANIA being the only erasures. 

A litle zip...TUSHY, ZITHERS, POTHEAD, RATSO...and a fairly smooth grid = not bad for Tues. Nice write-up guys. You do look a bit cold in the picture.

Zitterbewegung 2:10 AM  


chefwen 3:59 AM  

I can't improve on what @Evan said. Ditto on all counts.

@Zen Monkey - Love your avatar, looks like my childhood kitty Koko.

Off to the sweltering Midwest tomorrow to sling some hash for Dear Old Dad to last him through the winter. See you all in a couple of weeks.

Rex Parker 4:36 AM  

Fantastic! The write-up, I mean. The puzzle ... SHRUG.


Rex Parker 4:37 AM  

P.S. @jae is right about the recent rebus version of this theme (I forget where it appeared). A superior puzzle.


Rex Parker 5:10 AM  

Here it is—not as recent as I thought (Sep '07, by Alex Boisvert)


Unknown 6:58 AM  

Re 34D...not all high school dropouts get a GED. Just a nit I had to pick.

Enjoyable puzzle.

Z 7:01 AM  

For a Tuesday, a little crunchy for me. Dewy before DAMP, DEek (duh) before DEKE, PAY mw before PAY UP, and Evan's Natick Resolution Algorithm at the NOYES/OTARU crossing. Still, a Tuesday puzzle so all those were quickly resolved. OTARU is pure crossword knowledge, but it looked righter than aTARU.

ERNES THE MING WAY is the latest Flash Gordon story about Crossbirds used for evil otherworld domination. Time travel is involved.

rgards 7:18 AM  

As an aging pothead, i would quibble with "dope fiend"as an accurate clue -- marijuana does not induce fiendish behavior, a mellow fiend is an oxymoron. As the debate over legalization progresses, the distinction between pot and other, less benign substances is perhaps important.
Otherwise, i enjoyed the puzzle and the write-up, but where are the brownies, dude?

Walter White 7:48 AM  

That was a great write up guys and I learned that Joltin Joe's streak ended on the 16th of July, I will store that into memory. Never really heard TUSHY. Last letter to fall was NOYES/OTARU. I feel like a cheat when I run the vowels to get the happy pencil. Speaking of 58D I met Dr Ruth yesterday on the streets of Manhattan (in front of St Patricks Cathedral of all places). Very nice chat and nice lady.

jncody 7:49 AM  

Nice spiffy write-up for rather less spiffy puzzle. Sole highlight for me was Noyes, as I had completely forgotten about "The Highwayman" which I only know because in 8th grade I went through a rather large Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks phase and listened to her album Bella Donna pretty much non-stop. One track was called The Highwayman and somehow I found that poem in a collection of verse my mum had. They went together surprisingly well! So obviously I stayed up way too late listening to that album (yes, album.) This song wasn't my favorite at the time but I think it holds up best 30 years later:


John V 7:51 AM  

Save for the NOYES/OTARU crossing, pretty easy. 37A jumped right off the page with 19/21A. Felt like a Monday. Fund stuff, Peter. Thanks.

orangeblossomspecial 7:53 AM  

Probably the most famous 52A ZITHER recording is the theme from 'The Third Man'.

Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs had a great recording of 68A "STAY".

Freddy Slack, a boogie pianist popular in the 40s, recorded 33A "Strange CARGO".

Sue McC 8:10 AM  

Ditto Evan, ditto Rex. Bit of a yawner, but I am so proud of these brave folks filling in.

joho 8:31 AM  

I liked it. Especially TAVERNS crossing ERNESTHEMINGWAY. I've been through his house twice down in Key West, so this puzzle brings back vivid and enjoyable memories.

I was struck by all the political characters marching through the grid: CHOU En-Lai, DWIGHT, KHOMEINI, ANWARSADAT, MARX and LENNY (Lenin's nickname, of course).

A bit steamy or DAMP in places with SMOLDER, TUSHY and SEXY INSEAM.

Thank you, Peter Collins!

joho 8:32 AM  

And thanks to Mim, Ben & Charles, too!

dk 8:33 AM  

BLANDLY is how I feel about this one. I looked at the puzzle again as the write up was so great, then I saw the photo and the date. Mim, Ben and Charles are whack-jobs (a diagnosis that will appear in the next edition of DSM)

As noted above and no doubt below there were some bonbons and the fact that this is EH's b-day are fine but…. In short I side with @evan and @sue McC.

Used to go to a Swiss rest. in NYC called the ZITHER.

👑👑 (two DIADEMs) Well Peter, it is Tuesday.

Tita 8:41 AM  

Puzzle was just fine, with some really clever fill.
I prefer a less-than-the-best-ever tribute to "Papa" then a fabulous tribute to some pop idol.

Love ERNES THE MING WAY. the latest cookbook from PBS chef Simply Ming.

Favorite word was TUSHY, a word used often by our next door neighbors growing up.

Remember those school film strips used in grammar schools? One on the life of Hemingway was filmed at our house. They liked the Mediterranean/Moroccan style, outside and in.
My mother still tells folks that "Hemingway slept here."

Tita 8:44 AM  

Thanks to the commenting crew this morning. Nice job. You pointed out things I didn't see. BTW, I also love the word "cheeky" to describe TUSHY!

And thanks to Mr. Collins too.
Oh yes - and I used to play a ZITHER as a kid, so liked seeing that in the grid!

retired_chemist 9:02 AM  

The theme was very simple and easily deciphered. Lots of gimmes in the answers. An easy Tuesday. I guess I was in a mood to enjoy something this unchallenging, because I did. I can. however, see the point of all the meh's y'all are handing out.

TUSHY was TOCUS to start, and apparently TOCUS means something else: "Labor, childbirth." I am thinking of TOKUS and have been misspelling it all these years. OSAKA was my Japanese port. Japanese port does not sound as good as Japanese beer, which is excellent.

Thanks, blogging trio Mim, Ben, and Charles. Good writeup.

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

Fun and pleasant writeup. Nice "timely" Tuesday puzzle that seems smooth to me. Even the circles make sense and have perfect symmetry.

I see Rex doesn't think much of it and even cites a "superior" puzzle (if you want to pay $20). PAC has had 5 puzzles published this year and Rex has panned all of them. I checked a couple from 2011 at random and he panned those also. Can anyone point to me a PAC puzzle that Rex has liked? That is not a rhetorical question. PAC has had 50 solos and 9 collaborations published in the NYT. He must be doing something right, or at least something that Will Shortz likes....


PS. Enjoy the rest of your NZ stay and stay safe, Rex.

JenCT 9:12 AM  

@rgards: totally agree!

I liked the puzzle; bland is just fine for a Tuesday.

Only holdup was how to spell KHOE-KHOMIE-KHOMEINI.

I think all I can TOLERATE in this hot weather is to be a POTHEAD, sit on my TUSHY, and eat some SWEETS.

Oh, and great writeup! Love that Lady Marmalade remake.

jackj 9:21 AM  

If it’s full of circles it must be Peter Collins but at least today they don’t contribute to one of his overwhelming gimmicks and this search for THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA is something we can TOLERATE.

Since the words containing the circled letters have nothing to do with the theme, after allowing for ERNESTHEMINGWAY, what we have is a Tuesday themeless and, with an appropriate level of cluing, a fun solve.

The two Middle Eastern leaders might seem a bit aggressive for an early weeker but anyone who does NY Times puzzles probably should consider them as “near-gimmes”, (with allowances for those who might confuse the current Supreme Leader of Iran, Khamenei with the Revolutionary Leader, Ayatollah KHOMENEI), but there should be no question about ANWARSADAT.

There were also some interesting entries in good old vanilla English, JUSTFORNOW, FAUCET, POTHEAD and the cutesy TUSHY being particular stand outs and for good measure Peter offers a bit of counterpoint to the Iranian/Egyptian leaders by including a prominent American, DWIGHT, lead name for that crossword friendly DDE fellow.

So, cutting just a little necessary slack for the awkwardly clued ZITHERS, the yuckily clued OCEAN and the outrageously clued ISI, on balance, Peter deserves a modicum of praise for an acceptable Tuesday, (a rarity in these here parts).

chefbea 9:33 AM  

Got the theme right away and filled in the circles which made it very easy.

What is a pan-vowel??

We always used the term tushy when the kids were little.

great write-up Mimi, Ben and Charles

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

In a surprising confluence of events, just last evening I was driving to a NA meeting, musing about how I missed the old days, or maybe only my microcosmic and disfunctional corner of the universe, where everyone knew dope was not POT. Dope was dope and POT was weeed. There was no confusion, no overriding of known terms my genericists who made no distinction between two vastly different substances, where language had a specificity one could rely upon.

Carola 10:15 AM  

I'm also with @Evan in finding the puzzle a little wan. Thanks to the guest bloggers and commenters for the added sparkle.

@Z and @Tita -
Your books about ERNES both sound way more entertaining than The Old Man and the SEA. Too funny!

@jncody -
Me, too, on finding Noyes' "The Highwayman" in my mom's poetry anthology as a pre-teen. I remember finding it incredibly, well, SEXY, although I'm not sure I knew that word at the time. To go along with AMOR, here's a stanza, in which the Highwayman bids farewell to his lover:

    He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
    But she loosened her hair i' the casement! His face burnt like a brand
    As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
    And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
                      (Oh, sweet, black waves in the moonlight!)
    Then he tugged at his rein in the moonliglt, and galloped away to the West.

Enough to turn a SMOLDER into a flame!

Two Ponies 10:17 AM  

The theme was a bit too easy to suss but the fill had some spark so I say good job to Peter C. and thanks to the guest bloggers.

Z 10:57 AM  

@jfc- It took some looking, but February 27, 2011.

mac 11:12 AM  

Although I started out with a mistake, dewy, this one was easy. Good Tuesday puzzle, though, very professional.

I hear "tushy" a lot, in Pilates, where a lot of women want to concentrate on that area before the beach season starts.

Enjoyed the write-up, too, Mim, Ben and Charles!

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

Thanks @Z - I remember that grid. It was really an impressive effort by PAC. PAC seems to do a lot of themes based on celebrities, for instance, and maybe Rex isn't impressed by that. That's the only thread I could glean. I thought this puzzle was very good for a Tuesday.

Gareth Bain 11:45 AM  

For JFC, and other snoep people like me: http://rexwordpuzzle.blogspot.com/2007/09/thursday-sep-20-2007-alex-boisvert.html.

miriam b 11:49 AM  

Easy and breezy. It had me at THE and OLD. After that it almost solved itself.

I'm not a fan of Hemingway's - I prefer parodies of his work. But I do have a 23-toed cat called Polly Dactyl, FWIW.

I'm posting partly because I've been defeated in past days by the dreaded captchas, and I want to see whetherthis relatively clear one will let me through.

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Thanks, @Gareth Bain - Rex loved that one. There is a cite at Wordplay in a comment that gets past the $20. That one works but when I tried to duplicate it the $20 page appears. If you click it at Wordplay it takes you to the puzzle.

The comparison is a little troubling. Even the same word SMOLDER is used to create the OLD. Oh well, five years is a long time I suppose, and that one had rebuses and this one circles, thoough EH goes across the middle in both. I am willing to give PAC the benefit of the doubt and believe it is coincidence....


Nooner 12:16 PM  

I thought the NOYES/OTARU cross was rough, but otherwise a nice little Tuesday. I remember, though, that when the n-word was taken out of some version of Huck Finn, I saw other "revised" versions of famous books, including, "The Mature Active Adult and the Sea."

Nooner 12:16 PM  

I thought the NOYES/OTARU cross was rough, but otherwise a nice little Tuesday. I remember, though, that when the n-word was taken out of some version of Huck Finn, I saw other "revised" versions of famous books, including, "The Mature Active Adult and the Sea."

syndy 12:21 PM  

Hand up for prefering Noyes to Hemingway and oral surgery to circles on my xword puzzles.Aside from that more BLAND than evil,but then mondays are for BLAND. And still of a winter's night they say when the wind is in the trees and the moon is a ghostly galleon toss'd upon cloudy seas and the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor....

mac 12:29 PM  

@Gareth: what are snoep people? Snoep is candy in Dutch.

Ben 12:35 PM  

This puzzle has me conflicted.

It's nice to have a pair of Harry Potter answers right next to each other, but they point to one of the portions of the series I have the most qualms with. In Book 6, DRACO uses the Room of Hidden Things to sneak Death Eaters into Hogwarts. But then in Book 7, Voldemort is positive the DIADEM is safely hidden because no one else knows about the room. It doesn't compute.

Maybe I worry about these things too much because I'm a POTHEAD. And while I don't appreciate being equated with a dope fiend, I feel a sense of pride in being included in the puzzle. I also can't help but wonder if it's a coincidence that POTHEAD is in a puzzle with such great stoner fare: Hemingway, Looney Toones, The Beatles, The Marx Brothers, The Mamas and the Papas, Lenny Bruce, etc.

KRMunson 12:51 PM  

Thought the "Ratso" "Draco" "Dinah" section was Nat-icky. Originally had "Fatso" but thought that was kind-of a mean thing to name someone...

Sparky 1:29 PM  

Immediately popped in DOJO then DEWY which left MESA wanting for a while. The penny dropped with OLD, SEA and ERNE. That all filled in. Momentarily confused Eleanor Rigbey with Father McKenzie. I think it's spellled TUSHie.

Never heard DEKE before. (I'm such a big sports fan, like @Tobias and Deb.) Thought it was a hard drinking fraternity. Would @Z or somebody repeat Evan's Natick Resolution rule? I seem to have missed it.

Nice write up Mim, Ben & Charles. Pleasant puzzle PAC.

Bird 1:43 PM  

Nice write-up and decent puzzle. Not too much zip, but it is Tuesday and there is symmetry.

Started with DOJO and DEWY (which made me think, “Really?”) before the crosses gave me DAMP. Naticked at the corner of 43A and 40D, but guessed right using Evan’s process.

Agree with @rgard – POTHEADS are fiendish when lying on the couch eating Doritos and watching whatever is on the boob tube.

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

@Sparky - Essentially, Evan's rule is if you don't know the one missing letter, stick in one that at least makes one word you've seen before.
Genius I say, pure Genius!

Evan 1:59 PM  


It's not so much a rule, but a rule-of-thumb that I described in a previous comment a couple weeks ago. It's also not something I think is really unique to my thought process -- but I'll still happily take credit for it! It works like this:

When you run into a tough, potential Natick spot, try your hardest to fill in the crossing with a letter that will give you at least one legitimate word that you've seen in crosswords before. Even if you don't know what it means, or don't know who it is (if it's a proper noun), or understand how it fits the clue -- if you've seen it before, there's a decent chance that it showed up again. If you can fill in the crossing that gives you two legitimate answers that you've seen before, then you stand a good chance of guessing correctly.

For example, if you asked me on the street which poet wrote "The Highwayman," I'd have no clue. But if it's in a puzzle and the pattern is N-YES, I'd almost certainly guess NOYES, only because I know I've seen the name before, whereas I haven't with the other possibilities. That's true with OTARU as well -- I've seen it before, even though I couldn't tell you the first thing about it, except to say that it's a place in Japan.

I'll have to add a few more aspects to this rule of thumb since there are other ways it can be applied -- like, Naticks are there for a reason: Nothing else can possibly fit there. Don't go looking to make the crossing fit better than it does. When I'm not quite as busy, I'll explain that more, but you can check the comment section on Sunday to see what I meant by that.

Bird 2:03 PM  

Oops. I meant @rgards. Please accept my apologies for this egregious error.

abnorma 2:10 PM  

Just putting my 2 cents in: Really enjoyed the write-up! Thanks for filling in for Rex!

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

The authors in this puzzle -- Ernes The ming Way and No Yes: I never heard of them. Also, the Rexing crew say: "... the NE and SW corners are dangling by a single letter ...." I got the whole puzzle and then was totally stumped by that. What can you possibly be talking about?

said... 2:43 PM  

Another great write-up by our guest bloggers and a decent Tuesday offering, but . . .

Nobody mentioned the Cheater Squares before 5A and after 67A?

Anonymous 3:28 PM  

Not sure why our bloggers included Anwar Sadat in the Axis of Evil. He made peace with Israel and because of that he was assassinated by people who had ties with those who are now in power in Egypt. In the relative scheme of things Sadat was a good man.

Lewis 3:34 PM  

And who is DR. ACO?

sanfranman59 3:46 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)

Tue 7:35, 8:57, 0.85, 10%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:29, 4:38, 0.97, 47%, Medium

Tita 3:51 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tita 3:52 PM  

Since it seems to be so popular,
I have cut/paste your NRAnexplanation to my Crucimetrics blog.
There's a new page called "Crosswording Techniques" over on the right.

Please let me know if you're OK with this - I actually have been wanting to consolidate all my "most helpful crossword techniques from around the web", and seeing how much everyone has liked your detailed explanation of your technique, I figured it's high time to get started!

Tita 3:54 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Spicoli 3:59 PM  

All I need is some tasty waves cool buzz and i'm fiiiine...

@Anonymous 2:38 - They're referring to the two squares, the L in the NE and the H in the SW where you could split the puzzle in two by placing a single black square. Constructors generally avoid doing that if possible, as it limits how you can get into those sections of the puzzle.

John V 4:00 PM  

@Anonymous 2:38 Comment about hanging by a single square letter refers to the comparitivly low grid connectivity. Did not care, as the puzzle was easy enough, to me.

Acer Cargo Mingways 4:21 PM  

Fabulous write up of a fabulous puzzle!
The symmetry, the extra THE hidden in EH's name, the serendipidity of having ERNESTHEMINGWAY span the grid, the wonderful evocative words!!!

Don't get at all why anyone would think this so-so!

You have to smile at SEXY, TUSHY, RATSO Rizzo "I'm walkin' here!!!"
Voulez Vous Couchez ___ Moi (even for Gallophobes that was gettable!), "PAY UP!" , ZITHER!
Cmon...ZITHER! And the MARX Bros! POTHEAD!!!!

Plus KHOMEINI (that has enough trickiness to the spelling to keep you awake! I started to write in KHaddafI)

And ANWARSADAT full name...tho I agree I wouldn't have included him in the Axis of Evil, precisely as @Anon 3:28pm pointed out...
Esp in light of what went on post-Sadat Egypt...

And love @Zen Monkey's observations!!!

just because BLANDLY appears in the puzzle, in. O way makes it so! IMHO.

Yay all around, puzzle, writeup, and some really enlightening comments... From the dopefiend ref to pointing out that many GEDs are not dropouts.

Plus THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA one of the best books ever, esp for teaching ESL students English.

Ben S 4:40 PM  

Glad that so many people have enjoyed the write up - it's a blast if you ever want to take a shot.

As an editor(s)' note: the "axis of evil" comment was meant to be facetious and an opportunity to take a shot at Joe DiMaggio. It's hard for us to take any "axis of evil" seriously, and we certainly wouldn't suggest that a man who won the Nobel Peace prize was truly evil. Positive things can also be said about Chou Enlai, etc.


Gareth Bain 5:04 PM  

A thought on why I personally have gone "meh" at many of Peter Collins' puzzles, because I do find it odd. He does seem to think differently to other constructors. Take for instance his previous LENNON/MCCARTNEY puzzle. Most constructors would count the letters in that answer, do a jig, and plonk it in as the puzzle's central 15. Peter Collins chose to put it in circles.

Similarly, OLDMANANDTHESEA is a potential 15. Indeed BEQ specifically mentioned the OLDMANANDTHESEA/THESUNALSORISES/ERNESTHEMINGWAY trio in his 10 bullshit themes. (I'd never seen such a puzzle so I was all "that's sucha cool coincidence!") Although I think Patrick Blindauer did do a similar puzzle to this but with ERN/EST/HEM/ING/WAY hidden?

Now that I've written this all out I have no idea what my point was supposed to be. Dilemma: erase or post and let you guys figure out if I said something meaningful in this incoherent ramble... Hmm.

Loren Muse Smith 5:07 PM  

I've gotten a kick out of all the fun parsing today.

I didn't notice it until Andrea's post - another word today has an inner THE:


retired_chemist 5:13 PM  

@ Loren - perhaps the "THE" in PO"THE"AD was not circled in your version? AL has it circled.

Evan 6:24 PM  


Sure, that's fine. But, I should probably rewrite it to make it more accessible to anyone solving crosswords, and not simply people who read this blog. The pasted comment might not make a whole lot of sense to people who don't remember today's puzzle or don't care to look up what "Natick" means in RexWorld-speak.

Acme 7:17 PM  

Ps Peter Collins has today's syndicated puzzle as well

syndy 9:13 PM  

@ ben,the voldemort segment was a flashback and Drago"s family were disciples of Voldemort. In he who should not be named's time only he knew about the room but maybe he let some trusted few into the secret!Jeesh!

Tita 9:14 PM  

@Evan...feel free to reword it and I shall comply.
If you leave it to me, I would distill it down as Anon did:
"Essentially, Evan's rule is if you don't know the one missing letter, stick in one that at least makes one word you've seen before."

I do have the coiner's def of Natick at the bottom, as well as a link, though you may be right - let's make this accessible to all!

Email me at the address in my profile, or post here, and I shall update.

Tita 9:39 PM  

@Evan - don't mean to sound flippant...I just mean that any attempt of mine would fall far short of your eloquence. Plus, you're the mastermind...

Sfingi 10:15 PM  

Anyone remember the girl in the hospital in Angela's Ashes reading the poem, The Highwayman?

The puzzle was ho-hum, but so was The Old Man and the Sea IMHO. An the other hand, I can see how all Hemingway could make good reading for ESLers trying to learn the language. Which brings me to what I had never noticed before - that the title consisted of not only single syllables, but 3-letter words. Single syllable writing is considered masculine, and certainly leans toward the Germanic rather than the Romance. There was a professor at Utica College who would assign the class the task of writing a paper in all single syllables. At the prison where I taught, I would print out some examples and ask them to tell me what was unique or unusual about such writing. Maya Angelou is another "masculine" writer.

@MaryRoseGoldberg - My "students" were drop outs and occasionally winners of a GED.

Anonymous 10:20 PM  

In Boulder Colorado we have a street that is a bilingual stutter.It is named TABLE MESA

sanfranman59 1:22 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 6:10, 6:49, 0.90, 13%, Easy
Tue 7:35, 8:57, 0.85, 10%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:37, 3:41, 0.98, 45%, Medium
Tue 4:29, 4:38, 0.97, 47%, Medium

Acme 5:28 PM  

Exactly! Our difference in enjoyment of THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA aside, it was Peter Collins' noticing that it was six three letter words that he could perfectly balance in the grid
Along with the 15 letter author's name beautifully across the middle to give this solid construction, style and flare.
The consecutive circles In the empty grid highlighted this and I thought was rather inviting and intriguing.

Interesting about Maya Angelou...and I'd love to hear more prison stories. i think @rex taught at prison's to.

Anonymous 10:20 PM  

I object for the clue for 13 across. I can't remember exactly what it is, but alum is an astringent.

"Alum" is, unfortunately, also a neologism for "alumnus" "alumni", etc. I hate it!

Spacecraft 1:06 PM  

I do not time myself. But if I did, today would have been a record-breaker, I believe. One look at the central clue and the circle pattern (six 3's = THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA) and I had 33 squares filled in. I couldn't write fast enough. DOJO to JUSTFORNOW, etc. etc.

One scare: Osaka left me with PAYAP for 32d. Hmm. That should be PAYUP. OSAKU?? Uh-oh; maybe I've got the wrong city. Come to think of it, SNARE makes a lot more sense to the clue than SNAKE. So now OSARU? AGs. How about AGT? Leaving us with OTARU. OK, I'll but it. Whew, that was close!

And oh yeah, Paul's daughter Mira IS sexy! Very cleverly and smoothly done, Peter! Those who don't like the "dangling" corners need to get a life. An opening is an opening. Big deal.

Solving in Seattle 1:32 PM  

Dope fiend equals POTHEAD? Don't use it myself, but really? I guess Peter Collins was greatly affected by "Reefer Madness" as a child.

Hasn't ANWAR SADAT been visiting us a lot recently?

CHOU and MARX on the same line was cool.

Thanks again, @Acme for all the subtle enlightening stuff you point out about puzzles that makes me appreciate them more.

Dirigonzo 2:51 PM  

And it's just a "q" short of being a pangram.

I learned "DEKE" from a puzzle only a short time back and plunked it in today with no hesitation.

ERNES are a protected bird - they should not be cooked THE MING WAY or any other way. Thank you.

Waxy in Montreal 8:38 PM  

@Diri, a hackneyed use of the word deke by excitable NHL announcers up here in the great frozen north is for a player to be said to deke a goaltender out of his jock as in "With that move, Sidney Crosby deked Tim Thomas completely out of his jock". Apparently derived from decoy.

Dirigonzo 9:49 PM  

@Waxy - I seem to recall the phrase "faked him out of his jock" from somewhere in the depths of my mind, so I guess I can see how "DEKE" might work there. What do you have for "juke", another term I know only from cwp usage?

Waxy in Montreal 12:19 AM  

@Diri, we used juke too but I associate it more with football and deke with hockey. My dictionary lists them as synonyms along with "fake out".

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