Coors alcopop brand / WED 8-8-12 / 1970s-80s Pakistani leader / Mayor of Simpleton band 1989 / Element in cleanser 20 Mule Team / Baylor basketball uniform color

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: AARON to BONDS word ladder — puzzle note: "When this puzzle is done, the answers to the six starred clues will form a word ladder, starting with 4-Across, whose record of 33-/42-Across was broken by 68-Across."

  • AARON (4A: *Brother of Moses)
  • BARON (9A: *Von Richtofen, e.g.)
  • BORON (25A: *Element in the cleanser 20 Mule Team)
  • BOROS (52A: *Bklyn., Queens and others)
  • BONOS (67A: *Sonny and Chaz)
  • BONDS (68A: *Adheres)

See also these relevant theme answers:

  • HOME / RUNS (33A: Place for many an office / 42A: Areas in dog pounds)
  • ASTERISK (4D: Star)
  • STEROIDS (40D: Athletes' no-nos)

Word of the Day: AMUR (28D: Russia/China border river) —
The Amur or Heilong Jiang [...] is the world's tenth longest river, forming the border between the Russian Far East (Outer Manchuria) and Northeastern China (Inner Manchuria). (wikipedia)
• • •

Hello again from the coast of southern Oregon. I'm dashing off some puzzle thoughts before heading out to dinner with my family for our last night here in Casa Trapper John (home of actor who starred in that show). Spent my last full day wandering through old growth forests and oohing and aahing at various enormous firs and cedars. And this one crazy myrtlewood that looked like something a Hobbit would live in. And a giant slug. And a snail. Had lunch at "Happy Days," a '50s-style malt shop that's in some kind of hangar, most of which was occupied with vintage cars. It was like a museum. A little weird, but the chocolate malts, O My God. I haven't had one in decades and now they're all I want. I want one right now. Spent rest of afternoon lying lazily about the house, throwing my nephew's balsa glider off the interior balcony, learning backgammon, getting schooled by my daughter at foosball, and then, to wrap things up, making a crazy trick bank shot, ground-to-house, over the backboard, swish. Before that, I was making like 1 out of 10 jumpers. With no one covering me. Embarrassing. Now I'm here typing while the house manager lady is doing a final walkthrough. We're out of here early tomorrow. What does this have to do with the puzzle ...? Well, the house is definitely OVERSIZED (34D: Too large). And I'm sure many of my family had various COLA drinks over the past week. Heavily liquor-laced COLA drinks. COLA makes the bourbon go down EASY (58D: "Don't get so excited!").

OK, back from pizza & beer night, and sweaty from some epic air hockey against kids roughly 30 years younger than me. Challenged my daughter to a triple-or-nothing gumball bet (win, get 3 gumballs, lose, get none), and she accepted. I was going to let her win, then she got all mouthy (wonder where she gets that from...), then I thought she might win legitimately, but then I decided to bury her, and did. Next up was my nephew, a seasoned air hockey veteran. I was resigned to losing, but at some point I realized he played kinetically but sloppily, and so I systematically beat him into submission, talking smack all the while. The best was the plexiglass divider in the middle of the rink (the puck slid under it)—it was nice to be able to slam my hand into it repeatedly when the puck was mid-ice. I played forward a lot and it paid off. Won 7-3. Now he's in the garage practicing for his revenge on the house air hockey game. Too bad for him we're leaving in the early morning and I will thus be reigning champion for a year, or until whenever the next family mega-vacation is.

Puzzle! This word ladder feels like it would've been relevant like 9 years ago. Feels odd and dated now. Also, running your ladder through BOROS and (worse) BONOS is pretty ugly. Despite some grunty short fill, I generally liked the look of this grid. Nice dig at BONDS with the STEROIDS running through his name. Seems like mean-spirited editorializing, but from a pure construction perspective, it's not bad. Ooh. also ASTERISK. Again, editorializing. And there is not, in fact, an ASTERISK in the record books, as far as I know. Is there? It's just what BONDS haters want. It's the stupid signs they used to hold up in the stands. It's easy to hate BONDS, but I always find it creepy and at least vaguely racist. No one's ever gotten that mad at a white athlete, except maybe John Rocker, who... I mean, really, is anyone going to remember him in ten years? Does anyone outside New York remember him now? BONDS was a great, great hitter in ways that cannot be simply explained away with STEROIDS. STEROIDS don't give you that kind of plate discipline, hand-eye coordination, etc. I just can't work up any antipathy toward the guy, esp. given that sooooo many other guys were juicing. Why couldn't they hit a home run every seven *swings of the bat* or whatever it was? You may as well ASTERISK *everything* that happened in the Steroid Era—no fair going after just one guy because he now owns baseball's marquee record. From a strict construction perspective, the problem with the STEROIDS clue is that every other clue is nicely outside the realm of sports. This one's an outlier.

I look forward to the Michael Vick and Allen Iverson and other "black athletes people like to hate" puzzles. However you feel about BONDS, I don't think this level of editorializing is appropriate for the NYT. Unless you want to really open it up to any public target, no holds barred. But making one exception just to jump on a guy who has already been disgraced (many years ago) ... seems weird.

I don't think of haggard as gaunt, though they are definitely legit synonyms. "Haggard" implies run-down to me in ways that "gaunt" doesn't. This is to say that GAUNTER didn't come quickly (26A: More haggard). No idea who the ELI Young Band are. Are they anything like Haggard? 'Cause I like Haggard. I finished with an uncaught error because I spelled ZAMBEZI with an "I" where the "E" should be (20A: Victoria Falls river), and didn't check (or didn't notice) the misspelling in the ASTERISK cross. AMUR / MUONS crossing was a doozy for me, though I remembered that MUONS (31A: Subatomic particles) were a thing from previous crosswords, so I went with it, successfully. Listened to a *lot* of XTC in college, so 55A: "The Mayor of Simpleton" band, 1989 was a flat-out gimme. Seen ZIA before, but couldn't retrieve it (1970s-'80s Pakistani leader). Seen ZIMA before (57D: Coors alcopop brand), but never drank it. Never met anyone who did. Maybe that's why it's now entered the hallowed realm of "Bygone." Got fried by AME in the past (10D: ___ Zion Church), so no trouble today (largely because crosses took care of things). Thought "bred" was some German word, so never got BORN until all crosses were in place. I wouldn't call Baylor's green a NEON GREEN (8D: Baylor basketball uniform color), but clearly someone must call it that, so fine.
I'm still working on getting PuzzleGirl to take over for me tomorrow and the next day. I won't be back on the job til Saturday. See you then.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


pkittens 2:06 AM  

See, that's why I come here. Was able to do the puzzle without much trouble, except for the Muons/Amur crossing - initially thought Guons/Agur was promising but took it out.

Had NO IDEA that all this baseball subtext was in here. I mean, I got Steroids off the S, but so what.

I have a niece named Zia, so I am off to google that and figure out which Pakistani leader she was (probably unintentionally) named after.

Clark 2:12 AM  

I thought VIPERS was too harsh for "Alluring ladies" and indeed it was.

(Chefwen: I was travelling solo this time -- meeting my dissertation committee in Leipzig (the defense is within spitting distance). Spent time before that in a very old castle north of Frankfurt, a few days in Dornach bei Basel in Switzerland. After the Leipzig meeting I spent some time in Stuttgart, a few days in Ascona on the north end of Lago Maggiore, and finally a few days in Ringoldingen im Simmental in Berner Oberland. No, I did not win the lottery, I was mostly staying with friends.)

jae 2:15 AM  

Pretty impressive.  I never would have figured it out with out the note.   Liked it a lot.  Scrabbly grid, clever theme, some zippy stuff...BONOS, BAEZ, ZIMA, NEONGREEN, STEROIDS...,  a symmetrical LUAU in MAUI, a touch of the bible AARON, JACOB, and another astronaut as we celebrate all that is NASA.   A fine Easy-Medium Wed. for me.

Possible tough cross MUON/AMUR.

Only stone crabs I've ever had were at a place called Joe's in Miami.  They were delicious. 

JFC 2:16 AM  

Interesting commentary by Rex. My recollection is that Rex in general has not been kind to Peter Collins' puzzles. So this one is pretty good construction-wise and Rex takes off on its theme. Everyone views things through their own prism. I don't see this as editorializing. I see it as what has been in the public domain. On August 7, 2007 (5 years ago tonight) Barry Bonds surpassed Hank Aaron for first place in career home runs. STEROIDS have been a part of that story.

@Tobias – Not your thing.

PS. One letter shy of being a pangram. Not that Rex would care about pangrams.

PPS. @Loren - That was me who commented about the juxtaposition.

PPPS. I liked the puzzle.

PPPPS. My name is JFC and I am a sycophant....


chefwen 2:36 AM  

WOW Clark - that does beat the tar out of a week in Monotony MI and a week in MKE. Someday I will be able to get back on the "exotic, lets see new places train" but not yet, duty calls.

Really like the puzzle, felt like calling @Ret_chem for a few answers but managed to EKE them out by myself. My only sticking point was sIrENS at 48D, was pretty sure I had never heard of a Russian czar named IsAN so that was easily fixed. Thought of Two Ponies and Nanpilla at 49D.

Last fill was the M in AMUR and MUONS, a complete guess that worked out.

Amelia 2:38 AM  

My name is Ginger and I'm a sycophant. Didn't do the puzzle and I think I'm glad I didn't. But I loved reading Rex's description of his last day of vacation. The malt -- I want one right now!-- and especially his interactions with the kids. The thing about maybe letting his daughter win but--she's all mouthy-- nah. Interesting about Bonds and the steroids topic. I think the puzzle would have annoyed me. But I'm right up there with the sycophants! I still think his puzzle was difficult.

Evan 4:13 AM  

"No one's ever gotten that mad at a white athlete."

I dunno -- have you seen us Chicago Bears fans react at all of our club's quarterbacks for the past 40-some years? And did you see how ticked all those Green Bay fans were at Brett Favre when he came back as a Viking and couldn't help himself with his camera phone?

All kidding aside, I've never gotten that worked up over the STEROIDS scandal -- at least, not worked up in the sense of steroids being supposedly the Greatest Evil In All Of Sports -- and agree that the national fixation on it was quite creepy, not to mention a colossal waste of time and money. Don't get me started on my opinions about it, 'cause I'll go on and on and on.

Today's puzzle reminded a little bit of a previous one back in May 2010 that took a jab at Tiger Woods's and Elin Nordegren's rocky marriage, but that was just one clue. Here, there's an entire theme that oh-so-subtly reminds the solver of the scandal surrounding Barry BONDS and STEROIDS during the chase for the HOME RUNS record. It's clever in its own way, but yeah, it's also a bit nasty.

Oh and @Rex, STEROIDS isn't the only sports-related outlier in the grid -- BOX OUT at 9-Down is another (a great answer, too, if you're into basketball like I am). I, for one, would actually look forward to the Allen Iverson-themed puzzle because one of his classic quotations reminds me why I need to spend more time preparing for crossword tournaments: "We talkin' about practice!"

Tobias Duncan 6:18 AM  

I spent much of the 90s as a gym rat. I knew people that did steroids and the big reason was vanity. As crazy as this may sound, I think that rather than feeding his drive to succeed this Bond person was simply addicted to preening in front of the mirror like a little girl.

Steroid rage is a real and dangerous thing by the way.If you ever want to see it, try switching the TV in the weight room from the big game to that Buckley/Cavett interview you had been looking forward to all day...

Unknown 6:56 AM  

Loved the XTC vidoe, one of my all time favorite bands. Thank goodness for Sirius 23. I married a man who "shuns crossword puzzles" but loves sports and claims that i have never solved a puzzle without his input to any clue about sports. He explained the Aaron/Bonds connection to me. Thanks, hon.

orangeblossomspecial 7:34 AM  

@Rexie may have preferred an alternative clue for 53A 'Former pro golfer Julius' _____. Julius BOROS won majors in the 50s and 60s.

9A BARON von Richtofen was featured in a popular song with Snoopy.

30A FRITO Bandito was a commercial character from the 60s.

Guy Lombardo had a different version of 58D "Take it EASY" in the 40s.

Milford 7:36 AM  

Somehow I got much more involved in the other clues than the theme clues. Thank you @JFC for pointing out the relevant date for the theme, because I was thinking it was somehow trying to tie into sports/Olympics.

Liked all the Zs, Xs and Vs.

Confidently wrote in noTailS for KITTENS.

Definite natick at MUONS/AMUR. No clue.

Thanks for the additional house clues, @Rex. Hunky.

evil doug 7:58 AM  

How can it be racist when the guy Bonds succeeded---the player held in almost universally high esteem by both baseball fans and the public at large---the man without fear of an asterisk next to his name---is Henry Aaron?


Lindsay 8:05 AM  

Didn't the Fenway fans used to chant Steroooooids! Sterooooids! at Jose Canseco? Not sure. I try not to waste a lot of brain space on Canseco trivia. But he's not black, and he's taken flack. Deservedly.

John V 8:09 AM  

Got snagged at ZAMBISE/ROBEN crossing and AME, too. AMUR/MUONS crossing tough for me, also. Not a big fan of THEUS/ELSA cross.

But a fun Wednesday puzzle. I enjoyed it.

Re: steroids: The owners and MLBB as well as the players were every bit a part of that era. They wanted the home runs, the spectacle, the 'roid riven McGuires of that era. Those were the rules. For MLBB to now play holier-than-thou at the expense of their entertainers is really pretty scandalous. Roids were an implicit part of the game. My two cents.

r.alphbunker 8:15 AM  

Finished with Ane/OnANI. Looked up AME afterwards and found it meant African Methodist Episcopalian. I guess that acronyms are not signalled.

Tracing the word latter after finishing was fun.

astroman 8:25 AM  

Amen to Rex's comments on Bonds.

Sue McC 8:31 AM  

This one didn't do much for me. Lots of Z's. Baseball themed word ladder was a letdown. Totally agree with Rex about GAUNTER. Tomorrow's another about a nice, tough, non-sports puzzle?

jackj 8:31 AM  

From AARON to BONDS with the qualifier STEROIDS tieing in to BONDS and an ASTERISK qualifier tieing in to AARON and HOME RUNS added to pump things up, even without the notepad clarifier it makes this an obvious and awkward inside baseball puzzle that Peter must be proud of since he worked so hard to protect the theme as it is presented.

If anyone questions that comment please note that in order to fill this grid it was necessary to use what is one of the lamest clues and answers in memory, the intelligence insulting, “Founding member of NATO”, cluing THEUS.

Boos and brickbats for this turkey.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

This was a very weird mix of neat words and terrible fill. AMUR/MUONS was particularly horrible, never heard of ZIA or XTC or the ELI Young Band. Also not familiar with the phrase BOX OUT. I suppose all that was worth it for the rest of the grid though.

Rob C 8:42 AM  

I think it’s highly inappropriate for Rex to ascribe racist overtones to the puzzle and therefore to Peter Collins. I would not be a happy camper if I were Mr Collins today.

As far as Rex’s comment on the editorializing contained in the puzzle, fair enough for use of the word asterisk, because as pointed out there is no asterisk in the ‘record book’. However, as a matter of pop/sports culture, people were displaying asterisk signs at the time (a bit stale as a pop culture reference goes b/c as Rex points out, that was 10 yrs ago). Bonds was, in fact, convicted of obstruction of justice for lying to a grand jury about steroid use. So if the US court system is the source, using the word steroids is not editorializing, but merely presenting a fact.

And @Evil Doug’s point re: Hank Aaron

joho 8:53 AM  

BARON ELI BADEN-BADEN, born AARON COEN, was visiting his brother, JACOB on the beautiful island of MAUI. Since he now resided in PEORIA in THEUS he was anxiously anticipating the upcoming LUAU on the beach. In fact, he had to CLIMBDOWN a liana in order to get there – no EASY feat as he was carrying both his OVERSIZED KITTENS, JASMINE and ELSA, plus FRITO his feisty CAIRN terrier. To be GAUNTER had never been his goal so he was delighted to be met by succulent steamed STONECRABs smothered in sweet ONIONs and washed down with icy cold COLA or ZIMA – sheer XTC! Gooey SMORES were the perfect end to the meal until FRITO RANAT the hired entertainment, a SEER, which left everybody there with no future in sight.

Thanks, Peter!

Oped Asner 9:01 AM  

Does anyone understand the theme for The Onion's crossword from today? I finished under 4 minutes but have stared at it for much longer. Now I give up...

Pete 9:10 AM  

"How can it be racist when the guy Bonds succeeded---the player held in almost universally high esteem by both baseball fans and the public at large---the man without fear of an asterisk next to his name---is Henry Aaron?"

How? Many, many people don't mind black folk who are quiet, modest and "know their place" vs black folk who are sulky, arrogant and "uppity". They take the difference between liking modesty over arrogance in black folk way past the level they do for white folk. That's how racism works. Unfortunately it's nuanced and beyond the binary understanding of many.

retired_chemist 9:29 AM  

White athletes that people are/were as mad at as at Barry Bonds include Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose. The puzzle will take a back seat today - I predict a LOT of the comments will continue to follow the racism theme.

Word ladders don't interest me. I didn't notice it before coming here. At least it is symmetrically placed.

Regardless, I enjoyed the solve. Had a WTF at 45A - what could Reggie THEUS have had to do with NATO? A few moments' thought - D'oh.

IRANI for OMANI - easily fixed.

Thanks, Mr. Collins.

Lindsay 9:31 AM  

Wondering if 53A BOROS was originally conceived of as the thematic (Scott) Boras. Or maybe I'm turning into a conspiracy theorist. Speaking of which, according to Wikipedia, John Rocker is now a columnist with World Net Daily.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

Today's post was one of the best editorials on the Bonds chapter of steroids in baseball I've read. Good point about puzzle appropriateness too.

evil doug 9:35 AM  

That has nothing to do with race, Pete. I guess I do have a bias, though---against assholes, of any color.

"Many, many people...."---another gross exaggeration, without factual data, that so many, many white apologists rely upon. Many, many of us don't appreciate being casually lumped into your simple "binary understanding" theory.

Thanks for the education, but I know "how racism works"---and I also understand how artificially creating lazy, unfounded racist accusations from whole cloth can serve to trivialize the true racism that sadly continues to permeate our society.

It took many, many "white folk" to elect a black man president---about as "uppity" and "arrogant" an ambition that anyone, of any color, could maintain.

I have no doubt that your definition of racism existed not that long ago, and continues to be present in a sad minority of white morons out there. But in an age where so many black athletes, musicians and stars are celebrated, adored and even mimicked specifically because of their arrogant, over-the-top style, I think it's time to reexamine some old stereotypes.


chefbea 9:39 AM  

Tough puzzle for me. Lotta Naticks. Couldn't parse Theus for the longest time

Love Stone crabs.

@Joho...that was great

Jeffrey 9:43 AM  

Alternate clues #1:

ASTERISK - What should be placed beside this record

STEROIDS - What 68 Across used to cheat

Alternate clues #2:

ASTERISK - What misguided people think belong next to the record

STEROIDS - Substance not banned in baseball at the time of the record

Please tell me what editorial stance this puzzle is taking, based on the actual clues.

More than Rexville 9:44 AM  

@Oped Asner

Check out Orange's (Diary of a crossword fiend)blog.

She covers several major puzzles.

Link on the main page of Rex's.

Rob C 9:47 AM  

@Pete 9:10am
Seems pretty obvious to me, but most people dislike folk of any national origin, color, religion, etc... who are sulky, arrogant and uppity. If you look for racism in every comment, person, situation... you'll find it, whether it's truly there or not.

Loren Muse Smith 9:49 AM  

My name is Loren, and I’m a hopeless FRITO Bandito. There. I’ve said it.

A 58D Wednesday that I dnf owing to my Aqur/quons cross that I knew was wrong but I just made it a pangram for fun.

@Joho – great story!
@JFC – touché.
@Tobias – did you really try to change that channel??

A fan of Aladdin, I liked the JASMINE/VIXENS cross. I also got a kick out of the location chain of MAUI, THE US, PEORIA (my toe hold), HOOD, BOROS, BADEN.

Early on, I thought there was some kind of ON theme; I count fourteen instances of ON!

As already stated - nice and scrabbly with the added touch of some rarer vowel clusters: UAU, UO, II, AUI, AE. . .

And you’d think by now, I’d know it’s Salk and not Saulk, which always fits in neatly where I should have SABIN.

The whole baseball theme was totally lost on me, so I thought ASTERISK in the grid is just plain elegant. I had “aSTERIOD” first.

I saw a NOH play in Kobe once. I guess it’s an acquired taste.

Thanks, Pete. Nice one.

JenCT 9:58 AM  

@evil 9:35: great post

Sigmund F 10:02 AM  

I've been monitoring this blog for quite a while, and I've got a question:

People, why do you bother? ED's a classic narcissist, there's no disagreeing with him. He has his point of view, and therefore that's a universal truth. He hates arrogance regardless of race, therefore 99% of the population feels and acts the same. Others have different experiences, but they don't count, because they differ from his experience. His examples, accounting for 40% of the population, prove his point, the counter examples, accounting for another 40% of the population, are the citations of a "white apologist".

ED - What makes you think Pete is white?

evil doug 10:14 AM  

"What makes you think Pete is white?"

I have no idea what color he is, Siggy, nor does it matter. And that serves my point.

"People, why do you bother?"

And on that point, Sig's right: Can't you people just leave me alone? I'm a very important person with many, many urgent matters to attend to; I can't waste my time on these trivial matters!


Mr. Benson 10:14 AM  

Agreed with the above comments that racism accusations here are lazy and unfounded -- or, shall I say, out of left field, Bonds's position. Roger Clemens and Jose Canseco are pariahs just as much as Bonds is. It doesn't help any of their causes that they were also known to be utter jackasses during their careers (unlike, say, Mark McGwire, who seems to have received less scorn, has generally maintained a low profile and is now coaching).

jberg 10:17 AM  

I dunno - seems to me this is a puzzle, and as Rex noted, getting in ASTERISK and STEROIDS is great construction, whatever editorial opinions you want to attach to it. And I really don't think you can read Rex's comments as saying that Peter Collins is racist - he was commenting on a particular group of baseball fans.

And while I'm on a rant - get with it, folks! AMUR, ZAMBEZI? Major world rivers. MUON? Major subatomic particle family. Knowing such things is all part of the crossword skill set.

OTOH, the clue for 12D is a strong contender for worst partial ever. Might as well have been "Liar's answer to 'how many lies have you told in your life?'" "O, NONE!"

Mr. Benson 10:24 AM  

For 12D, "ON ONE," I thought a decent non-partial clue would be "like many a snap count." I thought maybe they ruled that out because that corner was already loaded up with non-theme-related sports answers (at 9D and 13D).

Howard B 10:39 AM  

Sounds like a great vacation! I miss playing air hockey.

I think the extra puzzle fill was for fun and convenience, to touch upon the controversy of the record, but not the overtones described by Rex. As a puzzle, I think it stands as a solidly enjoyable construction.

Note that Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Bonds, all rivals at that time, were debated and often vilified for the same reasons. Additional scorn for Mr. Bonds perhaps resulted from his eventual record and career, and his notably abrasive personality which alienated fans and players. While we cannot deny that race is an unfortunate factor for some ignorant people, in general this was a story about the effects of performance-enhancing drugs (and MLB's ignorance of such). It was players like Bonds and McGwire who were *already* blessed with otherworldy talent for whom the steroids controversy really became a headline, not just those trying to hang in the majors.
In sum: Race is a sidetrack here, and doesn't bear upon the puzzle. have fun!

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

I can agree that character attacks don't belong in the NYTimes puzzle if Rex can agree that character attacks don't belong in his write-ups.

Armstrong Fan 10:40 AM  

The idea that there is anything racist about this puzzle is simply silly and not even worth arguing about.

Bonds is just one of many linked to steroids use. Many, like Armstrong, Clemens, Pettit, McGuire etc. are also associated, rightly or wrongly, with use of banned substances. Fact is, cheating is allowed in sports. That's why they have penalties (think of hockey and football). If the infraction is bad enough, a player may be ejected or suspended. Sometimes the rules don't seem to be enforced at all. (Anyone remember the controversy over a home run hit against the Yankees with a bat that had cork in it? Use of an illegal bat, but the home run Baseball commissioner let the home run stand up.)

So for me this puzzle isn't about attacking the achievements of Bonds. Its more about reminding us of the needless controversies that will occur when sports organizations fail to define specific penalties for rule breaking (cheating) and/or fail to consistently enforce the rules.

That said, I must say I was impressed that Mr. Collins was able to squeeze a six rung word ladder with the other theme words without having the fill seem absolutely dreadful.

OISK 10:47 AM  

Loved the puzzle! Had to really smile after getting "steroids" when I looked up and saw that I had already entered "asterisk." So it goes from Aaron to Bonds, passing though steroids with an asterisk, and includes home runs! This is absolutely brilliant! It also astonishes me that anyone could find anything even the least bit "racist" in the association of Bonds with steroids. Dedicated and long-suffering Met fan that I am, I have been to (quite literally) hundreds of games in the past ten years. Doc Gooden was adored. Daryl Strawberry, despite his legal transgressions is still loved by Mets fans. Reyes was the most popular Met while he was here, and the fans are now warming up to Tejada. Bonds was disliked for his behavior, and only that.
Never heard of XTC, which meant that since any combination of three letters could be some rock group, I had to know all of the down clues cold. Not a problem this time.
Great puzzle!!! And timely, since Bonds is quoted in today's papers as saying he should be in the Hall of Fame. ( I happen to agree, but let's not get into that on this forum!)

hazel 10:51 AM  

I was in 7th grade when henry aaron hit 715 - at the freezing cold game with my 7th grade teacher, my mom and my brother. It was awesome. Talk about racism - aaron endured death threats and all sorts of hate mail leading up to his breaking the record. Not to mention when he was coming up through the minors, travelling through small southern towns and not being able to eat in the same restaurants. He is an incredibly classy person. If youre interested, (i'm looking at you @tobias!), read his biography, I Had a Hammer.

Have no idea where i was when bonds broke Aaron's recoed - probably in a bar questioning the meaning of life and its many injustices!

@pete - who exactly are your remarks directed at? The people on this blog? Others? Either way, theyre pretty condescending - binary minds? Really? I dont think the good folks at Cooperstown gave Aaron his perament exhibit for being quiet or knowing his place (if that is in fact what you are implying?!), but rather for showing such grace under pressure throughout his career and life.

OISK 10:51 AM  

@ Armstrong fan. The famous homer by Brett, against the Yankees did NOT involve corking. If it had, it would not have been allowed. It involved the placement of pine tar higher up on the bat handle than the rules permitted, which could not have in any way affected the flight of the ball.

Noam *. Elkies 10:57 AM  

Well executed puzzle on a theme that I recognize but can't get excited about — a b*seball record or scandal is just a tempest in a way-OVERSIZED teapot as far as I'm concerned.

Following the word ladder through 53:BOROS gives me Sonny & Chaz = 67A:BORES. But then none of the letter changes seems to match the 68A clue "adheres".

No comment from ret.chemist about a grid with 3 element names (including the theme entry 25A:B) and two further entries with chemical clues (24A, 56A)? The final theme entry 68A could have been clued that way too (e.g. "They're single in H2O and double in CO2").


joho 10:59 AM  

@Jberg & @Mr. Benson ... I wanted another sports-related clue for 12D: ONE-____ as in how you might play basketball.

Two Ponies 11:00 AM  

Crap, Google won't lt me sign in.
And today of all days when my avatar the Cairn Terrier is in the puzzle. AArgh.
Thanks @chefwen. That answer and Cairn were my own little shout-out.

Ten years on the rough streets as a paramedic really opened the eyes of this white girl. Some stereotypes are firmly planted in reality. Doubt it? Ride along some time.

Jeep 11:02 AM  

Wow. Moralizing about editorializing. Vintage Rex.

JFC 11:07 AM  

I wake up this morning and see we've all fallen into the Rex trap. One of Baseball's great ironies today is that the man who holds the all-time HR record is one of Baseball's all-time under achievers. Beginning with his days in Pittsburgh under one of Baseball's best managers he couldn't get it done when playoff time came. He finally got to a World Series in SF with STEROIDS but still failed. So he does not have a World Series ring. But long before that Bonds started acquiring "haters" because of his attitude, especially with the media. As for hating Bonds, I don't live in SF but those people are kooky to begin with IMO. I live in Chicago where corruption is a way of life. Why the Feds wasted my money and yours to go after Bonds is one of life's mysteries. The same with Clemens and others. It's as silly as this discussion today about Bonds' problems attributable to racism. Maybe Baseball should start a Hall of Shame. Shoeless Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds could be charter members. That would be quite a lineup....


GILL I. 11:08 AM  

I just came here to say that I never got no damn note.

Two Ponies 11:20 AM  

Great timing for Robin Hood to be in the puzzle.

Carola 11:29 AM  

@ Joho -
Fabulous! Your story cast an arc lamp's worth of brightness over the puzzle, dissipating the dark cloud over the NE, where A?E vexed me for way too long and spoiled my earlier delight at ZAMBEZI, KITTENS, JASMINE and the FRITO and S'MORE treats. I couldn't believe AME but couldn't believe anything else either, so I finished, but disgruntled at an answer I didn't understand.

AMUR was a gimme for me, as I follow the conservation efforts of the International Crane Foundation, which has an ongoing project in saving the extensive wetlands along this border river that are vital breeding and migration areas for cranes.

As for the theme - duller for me than it should have been, due to my not understanding the idea of a word ladder until I had all of the words filled in (at first I had it confused with the step-quote pattern) and not seeing the ASTERISK/STEROID connection until I read Rex's write-up.

Davis 11:30 AM  

Definitely a solid Wednesday. Somehow I didn't give much thought to the STERIOIDS and ASTERISK entries, but then I never really cared about the whole baseball juicing "scandal." (How shocking that athletes took steps to improve their performance, and thus their marketability/income potential, that were within the letter of the rules! Excuse me while I clutch my pearls.) STEROIDS and ASTERISK were pretty fresh, and on that ground alone I'm not going to complain. If anything, the theme was the weakest part of this puzzle.

My physics degree helped me out with MUON, but I'm always a little annoyed by this entry -- a 4-letter subatomic particle is pretty much always MUON; where's the love for KAON and PION?

While I'm on the topic of particles, it was fun to see three elements show up in this puzzle: BORON, XENON, and NEON (GREEN). The only thing that would have been better would have been if all three were noble gases.

My only real complaint about this puzzle: THE US seemed a little wonky as an entry. It's difficult for me to verbalize why, but it seems sloppy to have the article "THE" as part of an entry for a geographic name.

Unknown 11:30 AM  

funny how age makes a difference: Zia and Zambezi were gimmes for this old brain. XTC? Never heard of them.

evil doug 11:31 AM  

It's too soon, isn't it, Two Ponies?

tee hee,


Z 11:39 AM  

First - I liked the puzzle. Crunchy and fun. What some have called bad filled I liked. THEUS pushes the limit, but I decided to like it.

The biggest issue with steroids and records is not that they helped Bonds hit more home runs or made Clemens a better pitcher. The issue is that it allowed them to play longer. Would Bonds have played long enough to hit that many homers without STEROIDS? Probably not. So his record* will always have an ASTERISK in my mind. Look at AROD - the decline in hitting skills and increase in injuries is something BONDS avoided through the use of STEROIDS. I do agree that MLBB, ESPN, the owners, and a lot of us fans share some accountability. The adulation heaped on McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Clemens, et al. almost caused me to stop being a fan. However, why this ever became a federal case is beyond me. It's sports, not national security, after all.

As to the racism charge, if we differentiate between "racism" and "bigotry," I certainly hear a level of bigotry coming out on talk radio when Bonds is the topic. But that is about the fact that we live in a diverse society and bigots are a part of our society. That's not racism. And in general, we are less bigoted today than when I was a kid. Michael Vick was asked about how he is treated now and he said he has found America to be a very forgiving place. I suspect that if Bonds ever came clean, did his mea culpas, acted contrite, and made some anti-doping PSAs, that ASTERISK would disappear in lots of people's minds.

Z 11:47 AM  

@JFC - I always knew your were a sycophant. You have the early lead for best comment of the day.

@Evil Doug - Way too early. Ha. Can M.R. riposte?

Davis 11:56 AM  

Oh, and I forgot to add that ZIMA was the first alcoholic beverage I ever had, when I was 16. If you've never had it, you're not missing anything. Seems like a dated entry, though -- hasn't that stuff been off the shelves for years now? Zima doesn't seem like something that was popular enough to justify its survival as fill this far down the line.

Tobias Duncan 12:04 PM  

Loren asked "@Tobias – did you really try to change that channel??"

There is no law that I know of that says a television in a gym must never be tuned to PBS.

syndy 12:23 PM  

Never got the damn note either! I liked the puzzle a lot more than maybe I would have had I been paying more attention. I did notice the asterisk on asterisk and it did puzzle me!For 65 across I had "A SEAT" much more snark to my answer. on that topic if we are going to be attacking ED can we be more entertaining about it?

Evan 12:25 PM  


"The biggest issue with steroids and records is not that they helped Bonds hit more home runs or made Clemens a better pitcher. The issue is that it allowed them to play longer."

So do a lot of things that can help an athlete perform better or heal better from injuries -- painkillers, heart medications, corrective vision, leg and arm braces, face masks, muscle-building protein shakes, and there are probably a few diet regimens that athletes use to improve their digestion. All of those things could be reasonably construed as performance-enhancing -- or at least as things that allow an athlete to play longer when they might not have otherwise -- yet we don't punish athletes en masse for using them.

I've never understood baseball's selective morality when it comes to steroids. If one is going to put an asterisk next to Bonds, shouldn't Babe Ruth and every other baseball player from his era also have an asterisk next to his name because the league banned black players at the time? Obviously that wasn't Babe Ruth's fault, and he would have been a historically great player even if Major League Baseball didn't exclude black players, but to me that was a far greater injustice done to the game than steroids ever could have wrought.

This comment isn't really meant to pick on you -- it's just something that's always bothered me whenever sports fans talk about various steroid scandals (and most wars on drugs, frankly).

Masked and Anonymo5Us 12:48 PM  

@31: Yep. I had an uncaught error, too. Had SODA instead of COLA. Just figured BsC was some techie stuff I'd never heard of, and EdI Young Band had a sorta plausible sound to it. Should have caught on to Blind Carbon Copy. Snort.

Primo write-up. One of the top ten ever. Thanx.

Z 12:59 PM  

@Evan - I'm a legalize and tax sort of guy on most drug issues. And I'm also an "if it is within the rules than what's the beef?" sort of guy. So most of your argument rings true. But, and this is a big but, if you feel compelled to hide what you are doing from everyone else and lie about it then you know you are cheating. Steroid users were breaking the ethics of the game knowingly, willfully, and deceptively. This is qualitatively different than Babe Ruth playing in an all-white league or someone changing their diet to be more physically fit. And, again, this is sports - not how are we going to pay for social security.

And speaking of changes in diet - I am reminded of Sleeper every time I see a young athlete drinking chocolate milk after competition. These kids swear that chocolate milk is the perfect post competition drink. I'm still in the water and Two-Hearted Ale group.

(and I don't feel picked on - but if you call me a sycophant, watch out)

Sandy K 1:03 PM  

Getting back to the puzzle, naive me thought it would be a ladder from SPITZ to PHELPS, which of course does not fit. Oh well...

Thought it was EASY-ZAMBEZI except for the AMUR/MUONS, and clever if taken only at face value.

But did anyone mention that OVERSIZED runs parallel to STEROIDS? But then so does STONECRAB...

The Mayor of Simpleton 1:10 PM  

Well I don't know how to write a big hit song,
And all crossword puzzles well I just shun,
And I may be the Mayor of Simpleton,
But I know one thing,
And that's I love you.

Pete 1:18 PM  

@Hazel - I was referring to those who can't hold the two ideas in their head, that it is both possible to dislike BONDS independent of his race and that there are plenty of those for whom race plays a part.

That while we elected a black President, there are plenty of those who would never have voted for him solely because of his race.

That while we elected a black President, he is one who has no "urban" about him. Even Joe Biden, he of the foot in the mouth, made this exact observation. If he had the same pedigree and policies but came across as Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton he never would have been elected. That this is a fact of the world we live in.

mac 1:56 PM  

I thought this was a really good Wednesday puzzle. I'm not a huge sports fan, but Aaron, Bonds, asterisk and steroids (plus the other little clues, including oversized) were all known to me and made it cohesive. My biggest problem is that I like my word ladders to look like ladders.

I also ended with a mistake: nuons and Anur. It felt comfortable, probably because a big power co. in Holland is called Nuon.

@jae: I was a Joe's stone crab once, loved it! I like meals with newspaper on the table and tools.

Yes, The US was not great.

We just returned from Oregon as well, what a beautiful state!

Bird 2:06 PM  

@Rex – Shame on you for not displaying any sportsmanship to the youngsters.

Liked the puzzle and liked it even more after noticing the supplemental answers. Almost DNF this one because of MUONS crossing AMUR. I vaguely remember something about those subatomic particles and AMUR made sense.

So hating Barry Bonds and demanding an ASTERISK is racist?! I don’t know how it can be considered even remotely racist. Think Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco and even Roger Maris (for hitting more home runs in a single, longer, season than Babe Ruth did). I dislike athletes that cheat, but that grows into hate as they deny everything and become ass*oles when there is evidence (admissible in court or not).

SIRENS before VIXENS and OAHU before MAUI.

@jberg – AMUR and MUON are major words that all solvers should know? Get real.

I love how Mets fans describe themselves as “long suffering”. Me? A diehard Yankees fan.

Is this Sycophant Anonymous?
Hi JFC. Hi Ginger.
I am not a sycophant, but I play one on TV and stayed at a Holiday Inn.

joho 2:18 PM  

Oh, I forgot to mention before that I really loved this puzzle. I didn't see the note, though, so had to come here to realize what was going on.

6 theme answers that tell a story ... really well done!

Unknown 2:37 PM  

Yesterday was the 5 year anniversary of Bonds breaking Aaron's home run record... so the theme wasn't THAT random

RI Squasher 2:41 PM  


I'm not a fan of Barry Bonds but I think you're being a bit harsh in calling him one of baseball's all-time underachievers based on his playoff performance. I know he never won a World Series but in a sport like baseball I don't think you can indict one player because his team didn't win a title. And to say he under performed based on a small sample size (208 post-season plate appearances vs. 12,606 regular season PAs) seems a bit unfair. His career post-season OPS is .936 which isn't that far from his (unbelievable) regular season career OPS of 1.051. His 2002 post-season was amazing, 8 HR in 17 games, and a WS record OPS of 1.294.

Of course the fact that his best post-season performance came at age 37 probably relates to his steroid use, but that's another matter.

Lewis 2:45 PM  

@jae -- joe's is famous for its crabs, and according to family I have down there, it is deserved.

I would say "more gaunt" always before "GAUNTER". To me, it's like saying, "His personality is aliver than hers."

The puzzle felt easy to me, except in the middle, as I didn't know CAIRN or even FRITO BANDITO, and NOH for that matter (these seem like good ones to remember, though). So Rex's easy-medium rating rang true to me.

Sfingi 2:54 PM  

Glad to say, did not use Google and finished fast for me.

Like many, did not know AMUR, but got from MUON.
@DAvis - But, how about that Higgs Boson? I'm feeling more massive already.

Also, sIrEN before VIXEN. Prefer sIrEn.

On a more individualistic basis, did not know BOX OUT. Because it's sports. Don't care about Mr. Bonds or any sports that don't involve animals (horses or hedgehogs).

Didn't know ZIMA was alcoholic, and I've drunk it.

@Masked - BCC is some techie stuff I never heard of.
@Amt - XTC is some youth stuff I never heard of.

@Sandy - Love the expression Easy-ZAMBEZI - much better than Easy Peazy!

@Tobias - if these guys realized women prefer the slim, lightly to moderately muscled type. Locally, one of these nuts killed his parents and got life, and still can't accept that he did the murders.

@Clark - from a distance, your "avatar" looks like a girl's waist with a large fish as a belt. This caused me to click on it - will you tell us more? In what area is your dissertation?

Sycophant 3:00 PM  

@Lewis - I agree with your comment on GAUNTER.

Seems that [some] constructors take liberty with the English language - adding an A to the start or an R the end of a word to transform it into a verb, respelling someone's name, conjuring up phrases, etc.

Will Shortz also gets some blame for accepting and publishing such nonsense. Either edit or return.

I guess they can say, "If it's in the book, then it's legal."

Two Ponies 3:02 PM  

Re: Stone crabs. If there was newspaper on the tables I'd guess you were at Joe's Crab Shack.
Joe's Stone Crab in Miami is pretty upscale.

PuzzleMate did steroids long ago for weight-lifting. He said it was the best high he ever had. He felt invincible and completely understands (but does not sympathize) with "roid rage".

Deb 3:08 PM  

Well, I learned something new today: That Barry Bonds is black. Obama's one-time nickname notwithstanding, "Barry" just sounds uber white to me.

JenCT 3:26 PM  

@Sfingi said, "if these guys realized women prefer the slim, lightly to moderately muscled type..."

Uh, not ALL women...

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

Crosswords are supposed to be entertaining.
Putting steroids in the grid intersecting Bonds was mean-spirited.
(Julius) Boros is a Hall of Fame golfer who won the U.S. Open twice.
Obviously the people connected with today's crossword are not

Carola 3:29 PM  

@Deb -
Soul singer Barry White. Click the video link on the right. Years ago I heard an interview with him on NPR, I think on "Fresh Air."

syndy 3:30 PM  

@BIRD,so "Throwing" a game = sportsmanship? don't tell badminton!

Bird 4:00 PM  

@syndy - I did not mean to imply Rex should "throw" a game. Taking advantage of the age difference and obvious edge(s) that comes with it AND talking trash does not equal sportsmanship. Would it hurt to "lose" if he could have done it so that the kids never knew he threw the game?

On the otherhand - for any professional athlete to do that, especially at the Olympics where it's all supposed to be about good sportsmanship, is reprehensible. I am glad they were asked to leave.

I would like to amend my comment about Mets fans - I should have said "I am amused that Mets fans describe . . ." I don't hate the Mets, unless they are playing the Yankees.

Happy Humpday!

JFC 4:05 PM  

Hi @ RI Squasher - Actually I was being kind to Barry Bonds. You should hear what some of my Pittsburgh friends have to say about him. His career stats are not much good in light of the steroid controversy, just like Sammy Sosa's 609 HRs won't get him into the HOF as it once would. Talk about hating someone, Rex should hear what the Cubs fans have to say about Sammy.

You know Rex's blog is always lively when he's crtiquing a Peter Collins puzzle. If you go to his June 12, 2012 blog where there is another Peter Collins puzzle you will see real hatred in the comments. And there Rex said:

" I actually think this is one of the *best* commenting days ever."

So, I suspect that Rex decided to push some hot buttons today and he Victor Laszlo in Casablanca....


Anonymous 4:09 PM  

Will it play in PEORIA or is it TABOO?
We'll be back tomorrow for S'MORE!

Pete Rose 4:30 PM  

Barry Bonds and his OVERSIZED ego should be banned (how come this was not in the grid) from the Hall of Fame. I never cheated and look what happened to me. This guy made a mockery of the game and of the justice system. For shame, for shame.

Maybe Jim Gray should interview him. That would be fun.

sanfranman59 4:35 PM  

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

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

Wed 10:33, 11:47, 0.90, 28%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:41, 5:54, 0.96, 45%, Medium

michael 4:52 PM  

I find this very painful -- but I agree with Evil Doug.

That said, I was not a great fan of this puzzle. Word ladders have been done to death and aol as a contemporary clue is not good.

AOL 4:59 PM  

AOL is not contemporary?!?!

mac 5:30 PM  

@Two Ponies: you are right! Ate at the upscale one more recently and didn't like it much.

jae 6:23 PM  

@Davis -- Ran across PION in this Sunday's Boston Globe (not the on-line one that's several weeks old). It helped me get the MUON/AMUR cross. I remember confusing MUON and PION in the past, PUON or MION anyone?

Davis 7:11 PM  

@jae — If it helps any, the funnily named PION and MUON are actually short for "pi meson" and "mu meson." Their names correspond to the Greek letters used to denote them, so if you can remember your Greek letters you can get the particle names down.

chefbea 7:35 PM  

Watching jeopardy....Go Joon!!

jae 8:47 PM  

@Davis -- Thanks, that helps a lot. My degree in behavioral sci. left some gaps.

Clark 8:49 PM  

@Sfingi -- Hilarious. The large fish of my avatar is Obi my bengal cat sleeping on a chair and displaying some of his spots. My dissertation is on the philosopher Martin Heidegger: "Originary Temporality: an Essay on Heidegger's Being and Time and his Interpretation of Kant."

sanfranman59 10:21 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 6:20, 6:49, 0.96, 22%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:49, 8:57, 1.10, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 10:42, 11:47, 0.91, 30%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:38, 3:41, 0.99, 46%, Medium
Tue 5:38, 4:38, 1.21, 95%, Challenging (9th highest median solve time of 163 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:34, 5:54, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium

Ginger Amelia 12:37 AM  

OMG. Definitely the most I have ever read or will ever read about Barry Bonds. Rather enlightening. What a discussion! Now, enough already. Let's move on to Rex's sportsmanship with the kiddies! Night.

Pete 9:06 AM  

So, I spent yesterday evaluating whether my impression that rampant racism was still alive and well in the world, because, you know, I could in fact be wrong, be seeing things not really there.

I live in a very well to-do area, 95% white upper class. However, the county seat, a little village, has a significant Hispanic community. Driving into town yesterday morning, there was a Hispanic woman with a baby in a stroller with a toddler at her side trying to cross the road. Trying to cross the road at a cross walk with a sign in the middle of the road stating that it was the state law to stop for pedestrians. I watch eight BMWs just blow past her until I stopped to let her cross. A half mile later, a nice white woman was jay-walking across the street, and people stopped immediately. Two blocks later a Hispanic man was trying to cross the street at a cross walk, no one stopped.

I was at a meeting at a church later that night, one with a dual congregation, one of which, the Hispanic congregation, has bible study and choir practice on Wednesdays. Someone actually said to me, glancing around to make sure no one could hear, that I should close the door because we didn't need to listen to "mariacchi music" during our meeting. A putitevly nice, Christian person refering to church choir practice singing songs of praise to Jesus, as "mariacchi music", glancing around to make sure no one heard.

Finally, after the meeting I was complaining to still another person about someone who ran on and on at, and past, the end of the meeting saying absolutely nothing. This person, again glancing around to make sure no one heard, complained about another meeting where this "F*&*ing broad" did the same thing, and he just cut her off.

So, tell me how bigotry is a non-factor in the world in which I live.

Not a BIGOT 9:54 AM  

@Pete - Open your mouth and say something!

Tell the bigots to shut the hell up and open their minds.

Get out of your car and stand next to the hispanics when they need to cross the street. Maybe cars will stop.

Invite some hispanics to your congregation.

Talk to your pastor, town council, elders.

If you get flack, move out of town.

hazel 11:56 AM  

@NOT A BIGOT - you've inspired me!!
@Rex - do you really take joy in burying your daughter and nephew and then gloating about it for a year? Wow. Sounds like fun. And thanks, mom for being who you are!!

Armstrong Fan 2:39 PM  

OISK: You are correct. I got confused with a different incident. I only wanted to point out that there is inconsistency in rule enforcement. It would make sense that if a player uses an illegal bat, a rule should require the at-bat should be redone with a legal bat (but only if the illegality is discovered before the next hitter completes his at-bat). On the other hand, if an NHL goalie gets caught using an illegal goaltending stick, you don't have to replay any of the game, he just gets a penalty and has to replace his stick. Rule enforcement is a messy business when rules aren't what they seem they should be.

Anonymous 4:37 PM  

The correct spelling of the name is Barry Bonds*.

Tita 1:21 PM  

Well, I am so behinf on my puzzling this week that I can only post here in order to be #100. Just read all of Thursday's 98 comments, but can't do same here - haven't even started Friday's puzzle!

I liked the digs, and noticed them right away. Yup, I'm a reactionary - ya don't need drugs to play a game, ya don't need sprung floors for the floor exercises.
Now - let me go hitch my horse up to my buggy and go get some papyrus leaves on which to print my Friday puzzle.

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

What an odd puzzle. It was mostly pretty easy for me until I hit the SW corner. Got BONOS just fine, but the rest was a blank. Probably would have gotten JACOB sooner or later, but not sure it would have helped. Barry Bonds? Really? Even baseball fans in the Bay Area are pretty much over that now, even with the recent suspensions. Feels like something that was submitted many years ago and they forgot to run.

DMGrandma 3:11 PM  

This one tripped me up more than once, and while I found some of my errors, I was left with irANI at 16A. Since I knew neither of the first two crosses, it stayed that way. Another trip was sIrENS for VIXENS. Fixing that gave me IVAN and and corrected atM to SIM. Never heard of SIM or XTC or ELI or ZIA, so lucky to have finished as well as I did.

Maybe some of my unknowns were explained above, but I scrolled rapidly through the comments which seemed to be concentrated not on the puzzle, but on some '"ancient" sports/race feud that interested me not at all. Wish people would stick to the topic at hand!

@Ginger. The talented player from Belarus is Azarenranka, who I think will go far. Agree about Andy.

I've now twice failed the captchas when I thought I had found something I could copy. Is this a foretaste of being shut out of puzzle land? Failed again, don't think it's me!

Dirigonzo 3:17 PM  

Some of my errors not previously mentioned: ImouT before ICANT,OVERlybig instead of OVERSIZED and, most egregious, friartuck to replaced ROBINHOOD as Little John's cohort. I just left square 31 (no commentary on our host intended) blank.

I did the puzzle on a beautiful, warm September afternoon in syndiland and never had any thoughts of the perceived editorializing and racism that so excited the prime timers. I did notice a lot of "z"s though, and I really wanted square 31 to be a "q" to make it a pangram.

rain forest 4:41 PM  

Had Rex not editorialized on what he thought was the constructor's editorializing, then we might have been spared the parade of biased, sanctimonious and in some cases hypocritical views today.

People see what they want to see, make blanket statements about it, and are blind to their own bias. I'm not going to try to differentiate between bigotry and rasicm as others have, and it doesn't much matter to me whether various players get to the Hall of Fame. Is there bigotry in our society? Yes. Is there racism? Yes. Who is doing anything about it, other than flapping their yaps?
Was there a puzzle today?

Dirigonzo 5:24 PM  

@rain forest - we in syndiland won't know the answer to your question for 5 weeks (but I suspect there was) but I totally agree with your remarks concerning the comments on this puzzle. One of the things I love about solving and commenting in syndi-time is that the opportunity, and thus the temptation, to jump into the fray is long gone so we can focus on the puzzle and our own little community of Rexites. That said, I thought @Not a BIGOT had some pretty good advice for the complainers.

G 5:52 PM  

@joho - Terrific Story! Thanks for the laugh, which I needed after reading all the other comments.

@John V - Your comments on the use of steroids is right on.

Re Steroids; As a long time watcher of sports and athletes, it appears to me that while using steroids inproves performance in the short run, the opposite is true over most long careers. I think bulked up bodies tend to have more severe injuries than their leaner counterparts. Not to mention the mental damage they inflict. There is a reason Baseball, the Olympics, etc have made them illegal. Yet, that there is hypocracy is a given.

I liked this puzzle. It gave me a good workout, though it was all reasonably gettable. sIrENS slowed me up, but that VIXEN snarled and straightened me out.

Enjoyed the write-up, Rex pointed
out details I would have otherwise missed, as did many other commenters.

@DMGrandma - Azarenka, I agree she will go far, in fact she almost beat Serena. Maybe she will next time, age is on her side.

Ginger 5:58 PM  

OOPS, that's Ginger

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