Long Island town / WED 8-1-12 / Designer inits. / Accessory for the fastidious dresser / Priam's wife / Arctic seabirds

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Constructor: Doug Peterson

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: I'm OK, You're OK — Three notable figures with the initials O.K., each of whom might meet and greet one another with the title of this puzzle.

Word of the Day: OMAR KHAYYAM (17A: Persian mathematician known for his poetry)
Ghiyāth ad-Din Abu'l-Fat'h 'Umar ibn Ibrāhīm al-Khayyām Nīshāpūrī (1048–1131; Persian: ‏غیاث ‌الدین ابوالفتح عمر بن ابراهیم خیام نیشابورﻯ‎‎) was a Persian polymath: philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy, music, climatology and Islamic theology.
He is the author of one of the most important treatises on algebra written before modern times, the Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra, which includes a geometric method for solving cubic equations by intersecting a hyperbola with a circle.
His significance as a philosopher and teacher, and his few remaining philosophical works, have not received the same attention as his scientific and poetic writings. Al-Zamakhshari referred to him as “the philosopher of the world.” (Wikipedia)
• • •

Evan Birnholz here, checking in again before heading off to New York for both a friend's wedding and Lollapuzzoola!  I don't think I'll be able to stay beyond the morning round of puzzles because of said wedding, but I'll still look for any Rex Parkerites (and actual Rex Parkers) there.

Today was.....an okay puzzle. I'm not saying that merely to be pun-tastic about the theme, nor am I saying that because it was your standard Wednesday fare. The reason I'm calling it "okay" is because, quite honestly, it was both maddening and satisfying at the same time, and if you average those two reactions out, you get....something in between. I'm thus labeling that thing in between as the state of feeling "okay."

Let's start at square one. Raise your hand if the first answer you thought of for 1A: Stealth was CRAFT. I'm guessing there aren't that many of you. Perhaps you threw in something more obvious like SNEAK or CREEP, or if you were like me, nothing at all, because even those two didn't come to me at first glance. In fact, it feels like the clue is missing an "e.g." or something to indicate that a stealth bomber is a kind of aircraft....or maybe I've just never heard of the act of stealth as a synonym for being crafty.

But let's say you skipped 1-Across at the start. Immediately there's 1D: Food, colloquially. Was your first answer GRUB, like mine was, instead of the correct CHOW? I would hope not, because that could have set off a chain reaction that made most of the northwest corner a complete mystery. I erased GRUB and put down THOTH at 14A (Falcon-headed Egyptian God) rather than HORUS — just a dumb mistake, as I should have known I had the wrong bird (Thoth has the head of the crossword-friendly ibis) — but I compounded things by leaving THOTH in and then crossed it with ROAN at 3D (Fine steed), rather than the correct ARAB. And of course I initially came up blank on the way-out-of-who-knows-where FUR SEAL (4D: Flippered fish-eater with a double coat).

All of that happened before the first theme answer reared its head. OMAR who? KHAYYAM what? How many Persian, poetic mathematicians can you name off the top of your head? Yeah, didn't think so. He's been in the puzzle before as a first-name-only answer, and he might have been easier to recall if the clue referred to the famous poem "The Rubáiyát." But if you haven't heard of him, good luck. And even if you had, you still had the challenge of spelling out his last name correctly. The other two O.K.-related theme answers are hardly friendlier in that regard.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Persian mathematician known for his poetry (OMAR KHAYYAM).
  • 26A: Ukrainian-born actress who was a Bond girl in "Quantum of Solace" (OLGA KURYLENKO) — I've seen many James Bond movies, including "Quantum of Solace," but if aliens took over the world and gave me one shot to save the human species if only I could guess that Olga Kurylenko was in that movie and spell her name correctly....then I'm sorry, human race, but you'd be extinct. Well, not exactly. I got it right, but I was slowed down by the fact that A) I didn't know her, and B) when I had most of the letters down, I kept thinking that she was married to former N.B.A All-Star Andrei Kirilenko, and that the answer just misspelled her name. But nope, he's married to someone else, and his wife is, uh....unique, to say the least.
  • 45A: Noted conductor whose son played TV's Colonel Klink (OTTO KLEMPERER) — I had no idea the two were related. Like his O.K. brethren Omar Khayyam, Otto is an old crossword staple on a first-name basis, but his last name was still tough to remember without help from the crosses.
  • 60A: What 17-, 26- or 45-Across might say upon meeting 17-, 26- or 45-Across? (I'M OK YOU'RE OK) — The puzzle's constructor admitted a couple of weeks ago that when he solves a puzzle he tends to "peek," meaning he checks to see if there is a theme revealer first before attacking the other theme answers. Perhaps he was trying to warn us. I imagine that strategy might have made solving this puzzle of his a tad easier if you got initially stumped on any of the above three.

Still, despite all of those difficulties, the puzzle did have its satisfying moments. I was able to scratch and claw my way to a solution with no mistakes, in part using a technique I've described in the comment section a few times before (I'll explain in a minute). I'm all for a challenge, even on a Wednesday puzzle, so I appreciated the deceptive cluing on several answers which really cranked up the difficulty meter pretty high, like with URBAN (12D: Music genre), ERN (36A: It may follow directions), and the Gone With The Wind-related DAMN (10D: Butler expletive). There's some nice spark with entries like PAYPAL, OAT BRAN, LINT ROLLER, and GUN CONTROL — a timely answer given recent events that, as Amy Reynaldo notes, may also create further discussion about the Dark Knight references from Monday's and Tuesday's puzzles. Perhaps most importantly, I had a genuine a-ha moment with the "I'M OKAY YOU'RE OKAY" revealer, which is a great way to tie the theme together.

Plus, on further reflection, the image of the three themed celebs/historical figures meeting together in some bizarre space-time continuum and actually introducing themselves by saying "I'M OK, YOU'RE OK" is pretty funny and actually quite apt. If they were at a party, what else could they possibly say to one another?

Omar: What do you do for a living?
Olga: I'm an actress.
Omar: Oh, it's funny you mention that, because I know how to solve cubic equations by intersecting a hyperbola with a circle!
Olga: Uh....
Omar: I also write poems! About love, and nature....and also cubic equations!
Otto: Have either of you seen me conduct the New York Philharmonic?
Omar: Nope.
Olga: Nope.
Otto: Really? Well, we all have the same initials! So....best friends forever???

Someone needs to crash that party and get them some BEER (44A: Boilermaker component).

And now, let us take a moment to remember the guests who were not invited to the OK Corral. Four-time Olympic gold medalist Olga Korbut is the biggest name who got snubbed; I dare you to watch this video from the 1972 Olympics in Munich where she performed a move on the uneven bars that was so amazing, I was convinced it was fake. Former German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn won the Golden Ball award during the 2002 World Cup. Chicago sports fans will perhaps remember the long-time Bear and six-time Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz. Among the non-athletes, Oskar Kokoschka was an Austrian Expressionist painter; Owen Kline, the son of actor Kevin Kline, played the character Frank in "The Squid and the Whale"; and Olivia Kendall was the fictional little girl on "The Cosby Show" (played by Raven-Symoné).


  • 9D: "Idylls of the King" maiden (ELAINE) — My mother's name. You'd think this answer would be ELAYNE since that looks, I dunno, more medieval. Just like how George R. R. Martin spells the word "sir" as S-E-R in the Song of Ice and Fire books.
  • 18D: Priam's wife (HECUBA) — This was by far the most difficult filler answer for me, as I've never read Homer's Iliad and it crossed not one but two theme entries. I was staring at -EC--A, needed two unknown theme letters, and had to resolve 32A (Petting zoo sound) as either BAA or MAA. In this situation, here was my strategy: Fill in a word that will give me crosses I've seen in previous puzzles, even if I don't understand how the final answer fits the clue. I tried M at 32-Across, but nothing came to mind with -EC-MA (RECIMA? LECEMA?). But when I plugged in B for BAA, HECUBA jumped out at me. It didn't matter that I've never read the Iliad or knew who Hecuba was; the fact that I'd seen her name in prior puzzles meant my chance of getting it right was better than normal. I guessed correctly. When faced with a tough crossing like this, my rule is: When possible, fall back on answers you've seen before.
  • 24D: With much room to spare (BY A MILE) — In keeping with everybody being okay, the New York Times was thinking positively here. If they were crankier, they'd have clued this as "How badly one misses the basket on an airball." Here is a video of the aforementioned Andrei Kirilenko airballing....a dunk.
  • 37A: Spot for a summer nap (HAMMOCK) — Only if you're outdoors. If you invest in indoor hammocks, it's an all-year-round thing.
  • 47D: Obi-Wan ___ (KENOBI) — I was wrong! There was a fourth guest at the O.K. party. Unfortunately, his pick-up line "You're OK, I'm OK but with double you in between" never caught on.
Signed, Evan Birnholz, Earl of CrossWorld


Glimmerglass 7:23 AM  

Time for the Bard to quote from O what a rogue and peasant slave am I. Nice puzzle, and it happened to be one that hit some of my best areas (HORUS, HECUBA, the OK trio, and the pop-psych darling of my 20's: I'M OK, YOU'RE OK). I'd rate it Medium-Challenging, but because of this good luck, it was easy-medium for me.

The Bard 7:33 AM  

Hamlet > Act II, scene II

HAMLET: Ay, so, God be wi' ye;


Now I am alone.
O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all his visage wann'd,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!
For Hecuba!
What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
That he should weep for her? What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Make mad the guilty and appal the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I,
A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,
Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
And can say nothing; no, not for a king,
Upon whose property and most dear life
A damn'd defeat was made. Am I a coward?
Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across?
Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face?
Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i' the throat,
As deep as to the lungs? who does me this?
'Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot be
But I am pigeon-liver'd and lack gall
To make oppression bitter, or ere this
I should have fatted all the region kites
With this slave's offal: bloody, bawdy villain!
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
O, vengeance!
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murder'd,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words,
And fall a-cursing, like a very drab,
A scullion!
Fie upon't! foh! About, my brain! I have heard
That guilty creatures sitting at a play
Have by the very cunning of the scene
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaim'd their malefactions;
For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ. I'll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father
Before mine uncle: I'll observe his looks;
I'll tent him to the quick: if he but blench,
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil: and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
As he is very potent with such spirits,
Abuses me to damn me: I'll have grounds
More relative than this: the play 's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.


r.alphbunker 7:35 AM  

Hugely enjoyable puzzle. The origin of the term OK is worth reading (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_does_the_O_and_K_mean_in_OK_Corral)

I like not getting a 1A on the first pass through a puzzle, it serves to whet my appetite for the puzzle.

The last across was the problem. I finished with SKId thinking of the device that football players push in training which is actually called a monster sled. ESTAd sounded okay to me.

Z 7:45 AM  

OK OK, I admit it. I got the theme from the conductor's son, not the conductor. OMAR KHAYYAM was a gimme, but Bond girls after Ursula Andress (of DR. NO fame) are as well known to me as mid 20th century conductors. I don't know where I'd be if the Hogan's Heroes reference hadn't been included.

The east fell fairly easily, the west, especially the NW, took some piecing together. ERN as a suffix rather than a crossbird is interesting. I guess an alternate cluing for AUK is harder to come by.

Haven't had a boilermaker in 30 years. What the hell were we thinking?

jackj 7:46 AM  

This was a nicely constructed puzzle but I think it turned out to be a lot easier than Doug and Will expected it to be. With names that are virtually impossible to spell without help (in the Army, basic training drill sergeants often renamed such people with complicated names, “Alphabet”), there were a host of crosses that seemed happy to be useful.

No complaint though, this was a more than OK puzzle with entries like DODGY, HAMMOCK and BYAMILE lighting the way. LINTROLLER(s) was a rather strange entry and though they certainly exist they seem more like standard equipment for OCD types than just accessories for the fastidious.

It’s tough to think of other OK’s of sufficient repute who could also have been entries and only three come to mind, Otto Kruger, noted film villain, most remembered for his role in “Magnificent Obsession”; Oskar Kokoschka, German Expressionist artist who, when called “degenerate” by the Nazis, answered by creating a now classic painting of himself titled “Portrait of a Degenerate Artist”, before fleeing Germany for safe haven in Scotland and Olga Korbut, gold medal winning Soviet gymnast who will no doubt be mentioned more than once during the current Olympic broadcasts..

A good solid puzzle; thanks to Doug.

Wreck Sparker 7:49 AM  

Try as I might, I cannot reconcile 36a "It may follow directions" with ERN. A little help please? (Doh, it finally came to me...westERN, etc.)

This was a tough puzzle for me. Though I got CHOW and ROME right away which gave me CRAFT and I knew the first and third O.K. names, there was no way in hell I was gonna get the actress without googling.

Enjoyable puzzle and a nice write-up.

John V 8:11 AM  

I really, really enjoyed this one, notwithstanding a mistake at the HECUBA/...KHYYAM crossing. I, too, got the theme from OTTOKLEMPERER. The NE was by far the hard spot, as @Evan noted; had exactly the same mis-steps as he. I would say medium for me.

Can't wait for all the ISLIP kvetching that's sure to come today (looking at you @Rex). Sorry, just an unfair advantage for New Yorkers; my son and daughter-in-law were married in Islip. So there.

Good one. Thanks, Doug.

joho 8:19 AM  

Oh I loved this puzzle. I wanted eats for CHOW but with ROME in place saw CRAFT right away. @Evan I didn't even consider the plane! I was thinking CRAFT as sneakiness and cunning.

So much fun to see the common OMAR and OTTO with last names for a change ... and not only that, but unusually fresh ones at that. This is a puzzle that truly relies on crosswords to get the answers ... a challenge that I always look forward to.

Really the only answer that seemed forced to me was FURSEAL.


Thank you, Doug, for a great Wednesday!

Sue McC 8:25 AM  

BYAMILE, BY A MILE...aaarg, that took me waay too long, and that Y was important! And thank heaven for Werner KLEMPERER. I have no idea why my brain chose to retain that piece of childhood trivia when there are so many other things it seems to have jettisoned. I liked this puzzle and think it is more than OK. The theme was clever, and it was more challenging (for me) than a typical Wednesday.

Aleman 8:25 AM  

Dropped shot glass in beer( Depth Charge)or shot-and-chaser are called

Milford 8:43 AM  

Very unique puzzle, in that the complicated name spellings that would normally kill me were completely getable with crosses and thoughtful running of the alphabet (e.g. HECUBA/OLGAKURYLENKO). So overall very fun and challenging, but timewise it was a very typical Wed.
Didn't catch the OBI-WAN KENOBI tie-in to the theme, so thank you, Evan!
Kind of waiting for someone to not be happy with the DAMN/PIÑATAS cross...

Z 8:46 AM  

@John V - The prior ISLIP kvetching made it a gimme for me today. One person's complaint is another person's memory aid.

@SueMcC - Nice shout out to your garden at 13D.

orangeblossomspecial 8:48 AM  

Where's the rule in CW that you must get 1A immediately? I wouldn't solve many puzzles if that was the case.

If you had Deutsche Grammophon LPs by the Berlin Philharmonic, you recall the name Otto Klemperer.

Here is one of the great songs from 63A "CABIN in the Sky": 'Taking a chance on love'.

Hugh Masekela did 13D 'Grazin in the GRASS'.

Leon 8:52 AM  

Piñata party disasters.

Loren Muse Smith 8:56 AM  

Well, obviously I’m going to love anything by Doug Peterson ;-).

I couldn’t believe it when I saw “medium-challenging.” I flew through this like an ERN out of the east, starting with CHOW and WEBSTER and ending with SKIS and ESTAS.

Having never heard of any of the three theme entries, I honestly thought Doug was showing us how you could have a puzzle with completely unknown theme fills and still be utterly solvable. I usually have a lot of trouble with puzzles full of proper nouns, but not this one.

Yeah, yeah, like everyone else, I kept waiting for Olga Korbut. And I agree, it’s fun to see crossworld’s stalwart OTTO, OMAR, and OLGA with last names!

4D was a gimme because I had an adorable pet FURSEAL in Chattanooga, and if you believe that, TSK TSK.

Kept trying to fit “hacienda” instead of HAMMOCK. Idiotically plopped in “Hester” before HECUBA.

ODE and URNs sharing a grid. Just sayin’.

Do RAMs BAA? If so, cool cross.

Evan – thanks for pointing out that Obi-Wan KENOBI is a periphery theme entry! I sure wish I had noticed that. DAMN.

Excellent puzzle.

Carola 8:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
chefbea 9:19 AM  

Fairly easy but a few stumpers. Got St. Louis pro right a way and of course the shout out at blossom visitor.

Daughter and grand daughter coming today so gotta get going. Raining and lots of lightening and thunder. Hope they can land.

Loren Muse Smith 9:31 AM  

Oh, and @JFC – I totally deserved being called down last night on the groupie thing. I’ve given it a lot of thought and have decided that, yes, not only will I be a BEQ groupie, but I’ll be the queen groupie if I can be SICK AND TIARAED after one too many PINATAs OF BEER!

Bob Snead 9:32 AM  

Felt like a Monday/Tuesday concept, but the obscurity and tricky spelling of the theme answers combined with solid cluing made this a solid Wednesday, I think.

NW stunk for me.

quilter1 9:40 AM  

Medium-challenging? Then I'm feeling pretty smart today as it was a breeze for me. I knew everyone but the Bond girl (thought Quantum of Solace was a big bore), but she appeared as I filled in the crosses. Thanks, Doug Peterson for an enjoyable Wed.

Tobias Duncan 9:40 AM  

Horrible puzzle.
Cocktails at my house on Friday afternoon.You are all invited.

dk 9:47 AM  

@Leon your Piñata clip is over the top.

Great fill with a theme answer that made me chuckle.

Dudley Riggs had a performance years ago titled "I'm OK Your a Jerk." Every time one of my clients would reference the book as a meaningful experience I had to stiffle myself as Mr. Bunker would say.

Only challenge was not knowing how to spell anyone's name.

😄😄😄 ( 3 Smiling faces as I equate them with I'm ok your ok)

Family note. Moved my mom into a nursing home after years of anguish -- the little twerp hauls off and gets herself a boyfriend and looks at us saying I should have done this years ago. DAMNED DO - DAMNED DO NOT is my new t-shirt.

Carola 9:49 AM  

A clever puzzle that was fun to solve. I knew OMAR KHAYYAM (if needing the crosses to get the two Y's counts as knowing) and OTTO KLEMPERER, and OLGA's last name was complete when I finally saw "BY A MILE" to get the Y. Loved the reveal, as I remember when the book was all the rage.

I got held up in the NE by the accessory for the fastidious dresser. I thought it would be something elegant to wear, like maybe a pocket square, so the practical LINT ROLLER made me laugh. Liked the bird or human BIPED along with the bird and human HORUS. Also HECUBA, DODGY, OAT BRAN, BELARUS and the clue for DAMN.

Thank you, Doug Peterson - a PURR of contentment from me.

8:58 AM

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

@Evan - I kind of doubt that Stealth clueing CRAFT referred to Stealth Bombers, but either Will or Swedish Sounding Doug will have to chime in to confirm/deny.

skill or ability used for bad purposes; cunning; deceit; guile.

Add Stealth to the list, and you're set.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:51 AM  

Fun puzzle!

I was prepared to complain a trifle about 49 D, Evasive, DODGY, as I had only known the word in its British meaning of "not sound, good, or reliable", but I see that "evasive" is correct also. Live, solve, and learn.

John V 9:53 AM  

@Z, actually, the last LI kvetch was over SYOSETT, so ISLIP should be an absolute gimmee!

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

The reveal here brought back memories, not entirely pleasant, to me.

In their singular, and by that I mean once in my lifetime, not singular as in great, stab at understanding my condition, one of my parents left a copy of "I'm OK, You're OK" in my bedroom when I was 17. No comments, no discussion, just a vapid book. My reaction, had I voiced it, would have been that I wasn't just slightly maladjusted, I was broken. I wasn't OK.

Still ain't OK. They still don't care to understand.

Rex Parker 10:26 AM  

You know in tennis, when you hit what you think is a really good shot, but then your opponent not only gets to it but hits a winner back, leaving you with nothing to do but stand, watch, shake your head in amazement, and then do that little tennis clap where you pretend the racquet is your other hand and can actually make a clapping sound?


GILL I. 10:32 AM  

Really enjoyable puzzle especially if you like k's in your life.
Evan, I liked your list of the OK Corral invitees but I bet Oliver, Oskar and Olivia would probably be carded at the door and not let in. Doug has spaced each theme answer so that each first name is only 4 letters long.
I'm not a fastidious dresser but i carry my handy dandy LINTROLLER with me at all times. Puppy hair, you know.
Hope the rest of the week continues to churn out great puzzles.

Two Ponies 10:38 AM  

Good write-up Evan.
Even if I had peeked at the revealer those peoples' first initials was the least of my problems. Got it all in the end and really enjoyed it.
Good one Doug!
The Hecuba cross was wicked but I got lucky.
I must be a little dense because I have no idea what Rex is talking about.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

@Two Ponies - Rex was pleased with yesterday's puzzle. Now he feels that Doug's puzzle outshone his.

Matthew G. 11:17 AM  

I agree with Evan about the difficulty level, but otherwise disagree with his assessment. This was an excellent Wednesday puzzle.

In my opinion, OMAR KHAYYAM is resoundingly famous. In response to the question "How many Persian, poetic mathematicians can you name off the top of your head?", my answer is "Only one. OMAR KHAYYAM." And that's exactly why it was a gimme.

The other two O K names were much tougher, but completely gettable from crosses. And I just found the theme revealer so charming--a rare thing for me--I finished this with a big grin on my face. No truly awful fill, either, except maybe for IRR. All told, one of my favorite Monday-Wednesday puzzles in quite some time. Kudos, Doug!

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

@Loren - And to think that our beloved Deb called me disingenuous for saying I was still trying to figure out what's wrong with being a BEQ groupie. Oh well, an easy mark one day, disingenuous another and a sycophant the next. I'm like a fireplug near a park where people walk their male dogs.

This puzzle has some interesting words but I'm just OK with the theme. Really....


Boris 11:39 AM  

Thank you, Rocky and Bullwinkle, for planting The Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayyam into my memory 40-some years ago.

jae 11:40 AM  

Pretty DAMN cute Doug.  Made me chuckle.  Also, pretty easy.  I knew two out of the three.  OLGA was a WTF but the crosses were fine except for HECUBA which was also a WTF.  I handed my bride the AcrossLite print out and asked for a vowel (Evan's heuristic didn't help, unfortunately - nice write-up though).   She said U.  So, technically, a DNF.   (Dang, I hate when that happens on a Wed.)

No real erasures unless you count putting in GUILE/ GRUB for 1a and 1d and immediately erasing them.  And also, @lms HEster.

Minsk brings to mind the classic movie Rochelle, Rochelle which was later made into a Broadway play staring Raquel Welch.

Mel Ott 11:49 AM  

I thought HECUBA was spelled HECABA, and the actress could spell her name any way she wants, so that was a proper name Natick for me.

Long after Hogan's Heroes I saw OTTO K in a Broadway revival of Caberet. He wasn't bad.

When we were kids we used to do a parody of an Islip athletic cheer:

I slip......You slip......We all slip......for ISLIP.

jberg 11:54 AM  

Fun puzzle, with both ISLIP and OCALA. Easy, though, if you remember the basic rule that any Persian poet is OMAR KHAYAM (unless it's Rumi). So you just had to guess which letter to double; I went with A, but the crosses fixed that. The crosses also fixed my original (before I saw the theme) OTTO PrEmingER, since you wouldn't win BY A MIrE (unless your opponent got stuck in a mudhole - that might make a theme for another puzzle.)

Had no idea, but I think I had the HE, so it was either going to be HECUBA or HECate, and I knew the latter was a witch. I did remember the Shakespeare lines, but they don't really help much.

Fun puzzle, I maintain - nice writeup, but I disagree with the difficulty rating.

Lewis 11:58 AM  

Loved the Olga Korbut video, thank you for that Evan, and your insightful analysis.

I ended with an error: HECaBA/OLGAKaRYLENKO, which both looked reasonable to me, and I don't think even the Evan strategy would have helped me.

Seeing the constructor, I expected to enjoy this puzzle, and I did. I heard of two of the names, which helped.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

What's a BEQ groupie? I didn't start the fire. Loren and JFC -- Funny! I think Rex liked the puzzle (as in -- that old ad -- Mikey likes it!). Now I get to prove -- PROVE -- I'm not a robot. O Joy!

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

How do you be anonymous but have your initials at the end? That is what i meant to do ...

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

Rex - Not familiar with that. When I played tennis it always happened to the other guy (he said modestly)....


Anonymous 12:54 PM  

Said OMAR to OTTO "Today's our lucky day!"
"I SEE" replied OTTO, "The Times says IM OK YOURE OK!"
PURRed OLGA KURYLENKO, "Don't you know who I am?"
"Were you in DR NO?" chimed the other two.

syndy 1:27 PM  

Sometimes when an answer is a two or more short word phrase I fail to recognize this fact. Therfore I am still trying to suss "B?AMILE" It had been "B?AMILY" but I fixed that unfortunately this is crossed but a random letter answer!(and I was doing so well ;).stabbed to the heart

joefrombrooklyn 1:46 PM  

God did I hate this puzzle! It was basically all about the down clues since the 3 across theme clues were incredibly obscure. While these down clues were mostly solvable, few were fun or satisfying. On the other hand, some were quite tricky (FUR SEAL, ELAINE (I guessed Eloise), and the biggest boo-hiss goes to HECUBA for running through 2 of the tricky theme answers). I just find it no fun when you're plugging letters into a clue with no idea of whether you are correct or not. When you finish and see names like KLEMPERER or KURYLENKO, there is no satisfying brain click. It just feels arbitrary.

I will give some points to the overall "I'm okay, you're okay" theme. Good idea but if you cannot get some more familiar names, do not run it.

Karen Coyle 1:47 PM  

Nice puzzle, didn't have to cheat, but I would love to see a moratorium on Bond Girls and sports figures, just to give the rest of the world more time in the grid/sun. Didn't know Klinger's relationship to Otto, so learned something interesting today.

Bird 1:51 PM  

Another great write-up Evan. Thanks for the read. And congrats to the bride & groom.

Challenging Wednesday for me in Natick City, but still enjoyed it. Thanks Doug. Like others I didn’t know the spelling of OLGA’s last name or who Priam was married to so I ended up with HECOBA meeting KORYLENKO.

Hand up for no idea on 1A until the downs filled it in, which took a little because I had EARSEAL at 4D. What the hell is CRAET anyway? The Consortium For Research And Advancement In Education Technology. Duh.

The revealer reminds me of the scene in Gnomeo and Juliet where one of the gnomes escapes from trouble and exclaims, “It’s OK! I’m OK!”

@GAP - you could always use the Name/URL identity (the URL is optional)

Happy Humpday!

Wiki 2:48 PM  

List of proposed etymologies of OK

Evan 3:10 PM  

On stealth/CRAFT:

As many have pointed out, it has nothing to do with the airplane. But strangely, thinking of the airplane helped -- a stealth bomber is a sneaky, deceptive form of air craft, and "craft" can be defined as the art of deception or guile. It's just that I don't normally think of it as deception or guile unless one says "crafty," hence my confusion over the clue.


I can sympathize with your difficulties with the proper names -- I didn't know two of the last names and it took some real work to spell them correctly. But it's another thing to suggest that the Times shouldn't have run the puzzle.

It's true that one person's gimme is another person's obsurity -- OMAR KHAYYAM is a decent example here, as he was no gimme for me but seemed to be easily gettable for many others, judging by the comments. I chalk that up to my own unfamiliarity with them rather than unfairness on the puzzle's part. OMAR did write the famous "Rubáiyát." OLGA was a lead in a recent Bond movie. OTTO was a pretty famous conductor. Each of them has appeared in the puzzle before as their first names only, so why not their whole names?

I'll grant that HECUBA was a tough cross -- but even if you missed on it now, chances are you'll remember it much better going forward. I find that's true of most potential Natick spots. Others at the ACPT will recall a puzzle when IEOH crossed the second E of EEW, when it could have been a W for the clue "Ugh!" or "Gross!" I certainly won't forget it now after guessing wrong.

As I said, today's puzzle was both frustrating and satisfying to me at the same time, but I'll take that solving experience any day over a ho-hum puzzle with a theme that I think I've seen a hundred times. I guess frustrating + satisfying = fun?

Evan 3:24 PM  

Super Awesome Extra Fun Note! This puzzle has more K's (7) than D's (6), and almost as many K's as T's (8).

And thus did the Scrabble Angels sing in heavenly accord.

Joe The Juggler 3:45 PM  

"Do RAMs BAA? If so, cool cross."

Cool cross as a dig at the St. Louis Sheep.

sanfranman59 4:03 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 11:54, 11:47, 1.01, 58%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:35, 5:54, 1.12, 82%, Challenging

Unknown 4:09 PM  

Should this have been a wednesday? mon and tues ( damn tricky constructor) felt tougher to me

Deb 4:44 PM  

Fab-u-lous puzzle! I was slowed down by the HECUBA/OMAR KHAYAAM crossing, but fixed that pretty quickly by pulling out my copy of it. I'm not a big book collector, but I happened upon this on e-bay a few years ago and couldn't resist. It's a 1946 edition of an Edward Fitzgerald translation with gorgeous illustrations by Arthur Szyk. And, say what you will about Fitzgerald's translation, there's brilliance there.

"The moving finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."

@JFC - You might want to read the two quatrains that precede this one.

@Rex - I missed the blog yesterday, but not your puzzle. At least you didn't follow this one, huh? That said I think you're silly to be bugged by IMONA. Overall, it was a remarkably dreck-free puzzle, IMO.

@ Loren - You stole my thunder! I wanted to swoop in and call you a Doug Peterson groupie, but then you went and embraced the term. Phooey! ;)

Deb 4:47 PM  

Ack! Forgot to add - Equally Fabulous write-up, Evan. Your best yet!

Sparky 5:40 PM  

I found it kind of easy. It seems to skew to the 60s, a period when I was fairly alert. I'OK YOU'RE OK published 1967, DR. NO 1962, Hogan's Heros, beatNIK, neatNik.

I used Evan's Rule to find the R in RAM figuring I heard of the L.A. Rams and who knows where they have moved? Had the E, C and A For HECUBA, the B popped in and Hamlet came to mind.

I don't think it's "peeking" to check out the theme reveal. I wander all over the grid when solving, speed not being of the essence to me. Different strokes...

Good write up, Evan. To think in March you were wondering if you would meet anyone at ACPT. Now you are a star. @Tobias. Wish I could be there. I'll be eating pizza on Lexington Ave.

Doug P 5:42 PM  

Fun writeup, Evan. I look forward to meeting you at Lollapuzzoola in a couple of days!

Sparky 5:43 PM  

That's I'M. Sigh.

Sparky 5:51 PM  

This is a test. Didn't work. Sorry.

Lindsay 6:04 PM  

I start with the revealer, so I'M OK YOU'RE OK + OTTO KLEMPERER initially(!) caused me to think the theme was "first name ends with "o" and last name starts with "k". Saw the error of that idea soon enough.

Never heard of the Bond girl. On the other hand, I grew up in a house with an entire bookcase full of Rubaiyats that had been collected by my father's step-father.

Liked the puzzle.

Clueless in Texas 6:24 PM  

Enjoyed the write-up. Thanks for that video of the amazing Olga--that was truly beautiful to watch! Thanks, Evan!!!

If I hadn't known OMAR KHAYYAM and HECUBA, I would not have finished the puzzle. The downs were fairly straightforward.

Anonymous 7:08 PM  

@Deb - As you know, I am slow. As for Edward Fitzgerald's translation of the two preceding quatrains, I find them difficult to decipher, but if I were to hazard a guess I would say you are suggesting that I should drop dead. Soon enough, my dear, and we all shall be there where they ain’t no more.

r.alphbunker 8:08 PM  

"Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days" could be interpreted as a description of a crossword puzzle. Fortunately you need neither Piety nor Wit to rewrite, just a good eraser.

Z 8:56 PM  


But leave the Wise to wrangle, and with me
The Quarrel of the Universe let be:
And, in some corner of the Hubbub coucht,
Make Game of that which makes as much of Thee.

Al Rodbell 9:00 PM  

Craft <> Stealth

I don't have a not equal symbol but that's what I was aiming at. BTW, this is a quibble as I enjoyed the puzzle.

But Stealth is to avoid seeing, or being noticed. Craft, even in this strained usage as an unused noun form of crafty, implies more than invisibility, but disguise, trickery, misleading.

One is crafty by use of this higher level skill, as I am being crafty by pretending to be a crossword solver, when I'm really not, just someone who helps my wife when she gets stuck.

If I were employing stealth, I simply wouldn't write anything, and no one would ever know

Anonymous 9:07 PM  

@Al Rodbell

I agree with you about stealth. Had the same problem with sestet (poetry lines) and sextet (group of six) last week in one of the puzzles.

Anonymous 9:14 PM  

@Deb - I see I failed to sign my post at 7:08 PM. That's the trouble with the way I sign these comments. Rex wants people to ID themselves and I am technologically challenged (as I am in general) so I try and try and try. But, alas, sometimes I fall short. But I am reminded of my Baptist upbringing (even though I am a Pagan) and remember that we have all fallen short. So from now on I will try to remember to ad....


r.alphbunker 9:51 PM  

At the bottom of this page (after the robot test) you should see a radio button labelled Name/URL. Click the radio button. A text box labelled name should appear. Type JFC in it and leave the URL blank. Publish the comment.

JFC 9:56 PM  

Thanks R.alphbunker This is a test.

I see the number for the captcha is 54. I remember going to Club 54....


r.alphbunker 10:00 PM  

I am reading you loud and clear

Margaux O'Nolan 11:43 PM  

Dear Evan,

Don't foist your woeful illiteracy on the rest of us. Omar Khayyam is a very well-known poet. You might be pleasantly surprised if you picked up his famed Rubaiyat (a book of poems, Evan, not a poem.)

OK, now go head off to Lolla-whateva.

Margaux O'Nolan

Anonymous 12:12 AM  

Yup, this whole posters with blue names have credibility push is working out like a charm.

Anonymous 12:38 AM  

@Anon 12:12 Good point.

Ms O'Nolan - First, you might want to differentiate between illiteracy and being ill-read as you're calling someone illiterate. Someone who's just written a thoughtful, occasionally amusing, piece on this puzzle. See, if you're calling someone illiterate, you shouldn't be referencing something they've written as the basis for your comment.

Yes, Evan did make one mistake, calling The Rubaiyat (while I'm here I may as well point out that he correctly called it "The Rubaiyat", not incorrectly as "Rubaiyat" as did you) a poem rather that a collection of poems. He didn't say he was unaware of it, nor that he hadn't read it, or portions of it. He merely said that if *one* didn't know it, it would have been a difficult answer to come up with. All of this was done in clear, grammatically correct and proper English.

sanfranman59 1:50 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 (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:28, 6:49, 0.95, 28%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:12, 8:57, 1.03, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 11:43, 11:47, 0.99, 53%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:41, 3:41, 1.00, 54%, Medium
Tue 4:59, 4:38, 1.08, 75%, Challenging
Wed 6:16, 5:54, 1.06, 71%, Medium-Challenging

rain forest 2:00 PM  

An excellent, verging on spectacular puzzle, which I inexplicably found fairly easy. In the NW, ARAB begat WEBSTER which begat CHOW which begat CRAFT, and I think the latter was clued just fine. I continued apace with nary an error, briefly thinking that there was a VON between OTTO and KLEMPERER, but of course it didn't fit, and that was that. The reveal was brilliant and funny, and for some, helpful. No iffy fill, no DODGY entries, and great cluing. What more could one want in a puzzle?

I think Rex, all into himself, was comparing today's puzzle with yesterday's (his own), and couldn't restrain himself. Oh, what the heck...

Spacecraft 2:35 PM  

Easy-medium for me; my biggest problem was spelling--and the crosses removed all doubt. Old joke: Popeye meets the Tentmaker: KHYYAM what KHAYYAM. Enough.

I do these, usually, while watching The Price is Right on TV (love/hate it when the bidders do something stupid like go $1--or $1 over--and they're NOT last!). Anyway, I came to the center and read: "37 Spot for a summer nap." At that exact moment, George was announcing the next prize up for bids: a HAMMOCK! I kid you not, the timing was perfect. Eerie.

Yes, Evan, I started in the NW by thinking the 1-words were GRUB and GUILE. That didn't last long. Favorite of the many fresh words in this puzzle: DODGY. Another Peterson triumph.

DMGrandma 4:02 PM  

So many K's! Survived with two write overs. HECUBA corrected WEBSTaR, and DODGY fixed allBRAN. Other than that, I associate the RAMs with LA, but what else but R would fit?

Enjoyed the chance, thanks to bloggers, to re-enjoy the words of Shakespeare and Omar the Poet. Now back to the mundane. Time to put the laundry in the dryer and empty the dishwasher!

Just failed the robot test, these things get harder and harder for these aging eyes! Will try again, but the new one, which I can't change looks even scarier!

Anonymous 4:56 PM  

Orange Blossom Special: No, no no. I think you're confusing Otto Klemperer with Wilhelm Furtwängler or Herbert von Karajan: Klemperer never recorded 1. with the Berlin Philharmonic or 2. on Deutsche Grammophon, unless it was way back in 78 days and I don't think even then. During his peak years (c. 1950-1970) his orchestra was the Philharmonia (of London; later the New Philharmonia) and he recorded exclusively for another crossword staple, EMI.

Ginger 5:00 PM  

The problem with posting so late in syndiland is so many have written so well. I could just say ditto, ditto, ditto.....

Great puzzle, Doug, it was much fun; challenging yet still gettable. Knew OMAR and OTTO, but had no idea how to spell their last names. The crosses took care of that. OLGA, on the other hand, was new to me. I've been watching the US Open Tennis (yes - the USTA organization) this week. One of the athletes is a KiRiLENKO, so I wanted to spell OLGA's name that way. Didn't work.

Fastidiness aside, anyone with long haired pets will have several LINTROLLERs around. I even keep one in the car. A truly necessary accessory.

@Leon, loved the pinata clip. Thanks

@Evan, great write-up. The Olga Korbet clip was breathtaking.

Dirigonzo 6:19 PM  

Hand up (or head down, as the case may be) for HECaBA, because the cross with OLGA could have been any letter, and "a" seemed reasonable. Usually we go from "a to z" but today we take only a baby step ATOB. "Crude acronym" is an awesome clue for OPEC.

Don't even get me started about GUNCONTROL!

@Ginger - nice to see you back. I hope you are recovering from your malady, and RIP to your computer.

Captcha is a very legible knowthat - is Blogger trying to tell me something?

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