Objet ___ / THU 8-9-12 / "... and she bare ___": Ruth 4:13 / Island with a Hindu majority / 1984 U.S. Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics / "Fame" actress / Language known to native speakers as Gaelg

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Easy


Raise your hand if you'd like Rex to get his butt back here and do the blog for several consecutive days in a row. Yeah, I'm right there with you. Unfortunately, you're stuck with me, PuzzleGirl, for two more days. But, hey, you got me before I come down from my Puzzle People High so that's probably good. I went to New York this past weekend for Lollapuzzoola and had a blast. It was pretty much one activity right after another, but they all included lots of puzzly goodness so even though I'm super lazy, I wouldn't have had it any other way. Speaking of puzzles, I guess we should talk about this one....

I feel really stupid right now. The grid looks like a TIC TAC TOE board and there are Xs in four of the "boxes" and in the other four there are ... a bunch of Os in no particular pattern. What am I missing?? I'm sure it's something really obvious, but I just can't figure it out. If you know, make sure to tell us in the comments and if you could start your comment with something like "I can't believe you didn't see this ..." that would make me feel even stupider and that's always a plus.

I'm not usually a big fan of the fill in these "stunt puzzles," but this one looks pretty good to me. (Except for all the Ss. I was thinking to myself "There sure are a ton of Ss in this puzzle," just as I got to SSSS (62A: Flat sound). I don't care who ya are, that's just ugly.) Some of the long entries just sit there, but none of them are terrible and I especially like TOMATO SOUP (11D: Classic Andy Warhol subject), IT'S USELESS (20A: "There's no hope!") and, obviously, YES INDEEDY (31D: "You betcha!"). Also, RED SNAPPER (43A: Common restaurant fish). There was a lot of fish in this puzzle, right? That wasn't just me the non-fish eater noticing that?

Notable entries:
  • 5A: They're seen on the neck (FRETS). Guitar neck that is.
  • 14A: Turning point (AXLE). I tried AXIS first, but that made 3D (Form of relief) look like it was going to be AIDS and that doesn't really fit the clue at all now does it?
  • 15A: Caravan parking spot? (OASIS). Cute.
  • 25A: Imitator of Bush the elder on "S.N.L." (DANA CARVEY)
  • 40A:"The First Time EVER I Saw Your Face" (Roberta Flack #1 hit). For some reason I can never keep Roberta Flack and Dionne Warwick straight. They live in the same part of my brain. I knew you'd want to know that.
  • 46A: Turn blue, maybe (DYE). That Y was the last letter I entered and before I checked the cross, it looked like the answer was going to be DIE, which I thought was in pretty poor taste.
  • 13D: 1984 U.S. Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics (BART CONNER). Has anybody here ever met him?
  • 25D: Playmakers? (DRAMATISTS). Timely, as the New York International Fringe Festival starts this week. (By the way, if you're in New York and you're a Fringe-y type, you might check out my cousin's show, An Interrogation Primer.)
  • 27D: "Fame" actress (NIA PEEPLES). Wait, there was someone in that show other than Irene Cara??
That's it for me today. I need to rest up so I can see you all back here tomorrow.

Love, PuzzleGirl

[Quick note: Ryan Hecht, co-founder of Lollapuzzoola has completely lost his mind and decided to run marathons. As part of that insanity, he's raising money for the ASPCA and is giving away a set of original puzzles by a bunch of big-time constructors, including Doug Peterson and Andrea Carla Michaels, in exchange for a $15 donation. If you're interested, all the info is here.]


jae 1:04 AM  

First thought "interesting grid."  Then I saw the author and thought "of course."  Easy for me also, but PG is right that's an awful lot of SSSes especially at the bottom.   Plus there seem to be some extra OOOs.  It does have some zip...SEXY, YESINDEEDY, ITSUSELESS, NIAPEEPLES...  So, enjoyable but flawed.  

Erasures:  Me too PG  AXIS for AXLE  plus RAMP for RAIL.

And, speaking of SCREENNAMES, I just watched The Newsroom episode where Will was ranting about the relative anonymity of blog commenters even when they have a screen name.  This blog was my first time commenting on line and because Rex (and pretty much everyone else commenting) had some sort of alias, I thought that that was the way it was done.  So, in the spirit of Will's rant (and following the example of lms) I'm adding my name, age, previous occupation (I'm currently mostly a grandfather), and education to my blog profile.  I'm still too paranoid to add my email as I get more email than I need as it is.

John Ellis

JFC 1:17 AM  

Yes, PG, I did want to know that you can never keep Roberta Flack and Dionne Warwick straight and that they live in the same part of your brain. And I'm sure you want to know that I don't have that same problem. But that's the difference between us. You have a brain and I don't. I always like your writeups. They have a certain je ne sais quoi that is lacking in Rex's comments. In fact I usually like your writeups more than the puzzle. But I liked this puzzle. Any puzzle with Ayn Rand is passable but this one also has Andy Warhol which makes it more than passable. I remember all those Canpbell Tomato Soup cans in MoMA. I also like the soup. What would have made this puzzle even better is if Joe had made a word or phrase that went from one corner to the opposite corner, preferably with an "X" or an "O." Having a "X" in the center is not enough....


Rex Parker 1:18 AM  

As a themeless puzzle, this isn't bad.

Thanks for doing this, PG


chefwen 1:18 AM  

I tried to order the puzzles and contribute to Team Ryan & Kathryn but when I tried to enter my info I couldn't get into the fields. If husband were here he would say "what are you doing wrong?" Maybe this one time it's not me, but it most likely is. Help anyone?

1A tEAr before BEAD and like @jae Ramp before RAIL.

Wondering how long I will have the COPA CABANA ear worm. No one else here so I will probably break into song more than a few times tomorrow, might have to throw in a couple of dance steps too, always an amusement for the puppies.

Anoa Bob 1:48 AM  

Well it sorta looks like a tic-tac-toe grid and there are some x's and o's here and there.

CAN OPENER next to TOMATO SOUP is nice.

Usually I view fill like EVER I less than charitably. But clueing it to the great Roberta Flack song made it okay and sent me to YouTube to hear her again. This guy does a pretty good job also.

chefwen 2:44 AM  

Disregard previous comment, tried it again and was successful. Did everything the same, so it wasn't me. Looking forward to the puzzles. Good luck Team Hecht!

syndy 3:53 AM  

AXIS over AXLE SIT over SIC(no you didn't)not a very thursday puzzle but Joe obviously thought it was a TUES! would have worked for me as a tuesday.I did not know that the MANX had their own language-just sayin

Jeremy Mercer 4:14 AM  

Rex Parker wrote: "As a themeless puzzle, this isn't bad."

For those of you more familiar with his tone and humor, could you help me out? Is that a joke? Or a snide put down? Because isn't this clearly a themed puzzle???

Unknown 4:20 AM  

I think the X's and Os are simply supposed to be sort of "one offs". As in, each square of the Tic Tac Toe board has either an X or Os, but not both. The diagonal from top left to bottom right is the Tic Tac Toe "winner", though I'm not sure if that's actually supposed to have any significance.

jae 4:41 AM  

@Jeremy -- That would be answer (b).

John Ellis

Anonymous 7:10 AM  

tic tac toe dye?

Z 7:32 AM  

My writeovers have already been mentioned, AXis and SIt, so I'm guessing those will be common enough. To make this theme work I think you'd need a 17x17 grid so that the Xs and Os could be centered in each 5x5 section. So @RP is right, as a themeless this is a good puzzle.

@Jeremy Mercer - b is probably correct but it could be c) Left-handed compliment. Anyone who wears a helmet all the time must be fairly inscrutable.

Yesterday's puzzle subject was also the topic of conversation on the talking heads sport shows. Apparently he thinks he belongs in the Hall of Fame and said so on tape.

As to blog names, "Z" is what all my closest friends call me, so I guess that tells you what I think of you all. As to anyone else who wants to google my full name, my opinions about puzzles is none of their damn business.

evil doug 7:37 AM  

Sunday is just tedious busy work---not to mention the cost of several Starbucks fruit smoothies. Monday through Wednesday are too elementary on which to waste $2.00---or ten minutes. Friday and Saturday are worthwhile challenges of pen vs. paper.

And Thursday? Thursday is the wild card, usually worth the price of admission into its rebus-laden Fun House with twists and pikes and double axels. But this Thursday's child has far to go---to be worth its important maundy assignment.

Joe has literally boxed himself in, so we're inundated with more four letter words (and not the uncouth ones we love) than I've ever seen in a crossword. The longest answers---just 10 letters, I believe---are easily captured with the short crosses.

Hurry, sundown. And Friday's test.


jberg 7:46 AM  

I was OK with the esses, but too many os. This theme only works if there are no non-theme xes or os in the puzzle. I'm willing to make an exception for the o in TOE, but no others.

Or you could have the Xes make an X shape and the Os make a circle, but that would be asking way too much!

Same writeovers as everyone - I was even willing to go with AidS, in the sense of "helpers" as a form of relief, but eventually got it.

I think this puzzle began life as an EMIR EMER EVER word ladder.

My screenname is pretty transparent, so I won't try to justify it.

r.alphbunker 7:55 AM  

I came up with the same explanation of the theme as PG but did not believe it was correct because it was too complicated. Here is the simplest way that I can think of to explain it.

1. Blacken all the three letter words, this results in 9 rectangles.
2. Erase all letters but the Xs and Os.
3. From each rectangle remove duplicate letters.
4. The result is a grid where each rectangle contains a single letter which is either an X or an O.
5. Now remove all blanks from the rectangles.
6. The result is a legal outcome of a tic tac toe game.

This feels to me like the Ptolemaic description of the universe. I eagerly await the Copernican equivalent.

Glimmerglass 8:06 AM  

"The completed grid"? Unless for some obscure reason you blacken all the three-letter words, the completed grid doesn't look any more like a tic-tac-toe board than the virgin grid. The single X's and O's would complete the theme -- except for extra O's in the NE and E squares! Pretty lame theme and too easy a puzzle for a Thursday.

Sue McC 8:25 AM  

Well, I was pretty darn proud of myself for remembering BARTCONNER's name...I got it from just the B. Yay me. I have to admit I'm siding with evil doug on this one. Dullish fill, too many four letter words, and the theme/grid just doesn't completely gel...unless there is something we are all missing. More Wednesday than Thursday.

John V 8:27 AM  

1) Not easy
2) Everything @PG and @Rex said
5) MEH

I like Joe's puzzles, but today, not so much.

W/SW was a bitch.

And, oh yeah, support Ryan Hecht, for sure.

Wade 8:31 AM  

The last time I saw Bart and Nadia was when they stopped by my office a couple months ago just before they were heading out for the Olympic festvities. I know Bart would get a kick out of being in the puzzle. Next time and I see him and N I'll make sure and tell him about it.

Art Critic 8:34 AM  

He painted TOMATOSOUP cans, not tomato soup. The art was a play on the iconic image of the can, not the contents.

Milford 8:39 AM  

This grid looked a little Fridayish, giving me a little panic. I held the screen up to my husband and his first comment was that it looked like a tic-tac-doe grid.

Oh. Yeah!

I liked most if the longer answers, felt like pretty original phrases to me. Mostly the same writeovers mentioned. Favorite was having TOMATOSOUP and CANOPENER. And all the fishy answers.

I'm with @jae - I thought when I came here a couple months ago that everyone came up with a nickname. Wanting to comment, and not wanting to be Anonymous, I just randomly picked the town I lived in. Pretty boring, but then I just wanted to be consistent in later posts, to give me some connection and vague credibility (assuming that someone would care). Maybe I'll come up with different/slightly clever SCREENNAME soon. I might just do a JenCT thing and go with KarenMI...

joho 8:57 AM  

I loved the three diagonal X's forming a winning line. But all the extra O's confused me.

The 4 10's side-by-side framing the puzzle on the right and left are very impressive. As mentioned TOMATOSOUP next to CANOPENER is great. Would be cool if NIAPEEPLES was a DEBUTANTE(S)!

My favorite answers: ITSUSELESS and YESINDEEDY.

The Bard 9:03 AM  

All's Well That Ends Well > Act V, scene III

KING: Now, pray you, let me see it; for mine eye,
While I was speaking, oft was fasten'd to't.
This ring was mine; and, when I gave it Helen,
I bade her, if her fortunes ever stood
Necessitied to help, that by this token
I would relieve her. Had you that craft, to reave
Of what should stead her most?

BERTRAM: My gracious sovereign,
Howe'er it pleases you to take it so,
The ring was never hers.

Danno 9:06 AM  

Easy puzzle, my favorite clue was 55D It's a small whirl after all. Hand up for Axis and misspelled Peeples as Peoples before I got Mr. Happy pencil.


Pete 9:13 AM  

I like to tell jokes that are so arcane that no one gets them quickly, they have to take time out to analyze them, frequently using drawing implements or graph paper, or have someone explain it to them.

I think I'm funny, but most people think I'm a douche-bag.

Oscar 9:19 AM  

Ugh. Joke Rozel continues to disappoint with his half-baked ideas that keep getting published for some inexplicable reason. Stop the inanity!

jackj 9:24 AM  

This seems to be a Joe Krozel themeless Friday that didn’t work for him, so he inserted some words with “X’s” and “O’s”, identified it as a TIC TAC TOE puzzle and Shazam!, it’s a Thursday gimmick puzzle.

Moving right on to the fill, as ever though, Joe aims to please, whether it’s by reminding us of the George Herbert Walker Bush impersonations by DANACARVEY or triggering the imagery of Andy Warhol’s TOMATOSOUP (can) silk screen works which are friskily being chatted up by the adjacent CANOPENERS (guessing that, by the nature of its clue, CANOPENERS were the utensil du jour at Joe’s childhood summer camps).

We were even treated to an Olympics gymnastic query but no Aly Raisman or Gabby Douglas here, it’s a 28 year flashback to American gymnast BARTCONNER, who won gold on the parallel bars and subsequently won more than that when he married one of the world’s best known gymnasts ever, Romania’s Nadia Comaneci.

Little pieces in today’s puzzle were clever, too, especially LIMB which isn’t part of a tree but part of your torso, FRETS that are, of course, things “seen on the neck”, the ever so clever Disney-fying clue that gives us EDDY and then there is DYE, apparently jammed into the puzzle where the final theme entry should have been, acting like a crossword orthopedic shoe to save the grid’s overall symmetry and, YESINDEEDY, it sure does.

Fun puzzle, but the TIC TAC TOE part seems the least of it all.

chefbea 9:33 AM  

Didn't like the puzzle. Couldn't figure it out.

Love red snapper...cooked in a tomato sauce...not campbells tomato soup.

gosh...I must need new glasses. Can hardly see the captchas!!!

Rational Guy 9:37 AM  


PuzzleGirl 9:37 AM  

@Wade: Pictures or it didn't happen!

orangeblossomspecial 9:44 AM  

OK, chefwen. Here's the 16A 'COPA Cabana' earworm. If you want to get rid of the COPA earworm, skip to the third song.

Tin Pan Alley lyricists could turn anything into a song, such as 1D 'It happened on the beach at BALI BALI'.

Tommy Dorsey had a big hit with 31D 'YES INDEED'.

enjudah 9:53 AM  

I agree that you're probably meant to blacken the three-letter words forming your tic-tac-toe grid, where each section has only Xs or Os, thus representing a tic-tac-toe match.

HOWEVER, it is NOT a legal game. X wins with four spaces, meaning that it would be impossible for O to have played their fifth space. It would have been clever had Joe left one space without any Xs or Os to indicate this.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

What's bothersome is sloppy cluing conventions. E.g the ? on 15 across: caravan parking spot. The ? is supposed to indicate a pun, but oasis is precisely where a caravan parks. So what's the joke? Also, why the half-baked? Because there's a bunch of Xs? Been better w/o it.

ArtO 9:58 AM  

Would have been cool to clue 32D to 11D.

GILL I. 10:13 AM  

@Art Critic: I wrote the same thing in what I call my little margin of distain. Of course it was the can - who would draw soup?
AUTONOMOUS and TOMATOSOUP each have the o's sliding down the grid. Does that make it a TIC TAC TOE as well?
I've never gotten a SEE ME but my World History teacher loved putting questions marks all over the place. That is so rude.

Carola 10:29 AM  

Hats off to all of you who ACED it - the puzzle had me VEXED for a long time. I'm not very good at getting longer answers right off the bat, and none of the short answer clues spoke to me until the objet D'ART and the old friend rat-A-TAT. Finally I saw my way to the FORECASTER and was able to crawl to the finish from there. However, I never even thought to look for X's and O's once the TIC TAC TOE grid was complete. Felt good to finish but the delight factor was low for me on this one.

retired_chemist 10:34 AM  

Easy and mostly enjoyable here. Hand up for SIT, AXIS and RAMP.

AXLE IMO is badly misclued. An AXLE is NOT a point. An AXIS is, in fact, a line, but Ulrich convinced me a while back that an AXIS perpendicular to a plane containing an image provides a way to rotate the image and that, since the projection of that line onto the plane is a point, architects refer to that point as the AXIS.

@Pete - does all this detail make me a douche-bag too?

NAPES for FRETS (5A), SPED for 10D. I do not think of ACED as "Whizzed through." To ACE is to perform essentially perfectly, and has in general nothing to do with speed. In a tennis serve, maybe, but would you say "Federer really whizzed through that one" instead of "Federer really ACED that one?"

Thanks, Mr. Krozel.

Milford 10:35 AM  

That would be tic-tac-toe, not doe, a deer, a female deer. D'oh!

Two Ponies 10:43 AM  

I usually like JK's work but not today. Total fail in my book.
@ chefwen, I got a different (and worse) earworm from the clue for
55D. That clue was the only clever one in the bunch.

Strange, for me, to see reave in the grid. Just yesterday @ JFC mentioned a Peter Collins puzzle from 6/12/12 that Rex also tore up. I went back to read the blog from that day and reave was part of the discussion. It turns out that that day had the most fireworks of any day I can remember.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:46 AM  

Not a Thursday-worthy puzzle, IMHO.

Milford 10:46 AM  

@retired chemist - had exact same spED/ACED write-over and reaction.
@chef bea - snapper in tomato sauce sounds delish.

retired_chemist 10:48 AM  

@ enjudah - is there any rule that you can't start with an O? Wikipedia says X usually goes first, but "usually" is not a rule. So, I will assert that in Mr. Krozel's game O went first.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

A little boring, BUT, I liked that 3D wasa "form of relief." Get it? 3-D? Relief?

r.alphbunker 11:08 AM  

Good catch.

Perhaps the diagonal arrangement of 4 O's is meant to be a crossout so that square is blank.

Or maybe it is a game between a father and a daughter on vacation and the father lets the daughter play two Os in the beginning. The father's original plan was to let the daughter win, but decided against that when the daughter missed an opportunity to fill in the first row. Here is the game.

O's move

X's move

O's move

X's move

O's move

X's move

O's move

X's move

Sue McC 11:16 AM  

So glad I came back to read more comments, especially to catch Rational Guy's :-)

Mel Ott 11:18 AM  

@PuzzleGirl: Yes, I've met BART CONNOR. He was the speaker at a state (CT) dinner honoring high school scholar athletes sometime in the 1980's. One of my sons was an honoree. (Subtle way to get to brag about your kid.)

Still don't get the X and O patterns.

Sandy K 11:29 AM  

I agree with others who feel this was not worthy of a Thursday puzzle.

Thanks to PG for your write-up. Just have to mention that Irene Cara was not in the TV show "Fame".
Erica Gimpel played the role of Coco Hernandez.

GenJoneser 11:33 AM  

This should help clear out the "COPA" cobwebs
from your brains:

hazel 11:39 AM  

I think june 12 was the last we saw of foodie, who is sorely missed....

Re this puzzle - the xs and os didnt really work as a visual - whats with that eastern sector?? but i generally liked the fill. and of course @pg's pics and writeup!

JenCT 11:45 AM  

@retired_chemist: I need lots more coffee to understand your AXLE/AXIS paragraph...

Favorite answers were FRETS and YES INDEEDY.

Felt like I was on Mr. Krozel's wavelength today.

@PG: great writeup; liked DIE/DYE - that would be a pretty funny way to clue Turns blue!

Sparky 11:49 AM  

Hand up for Rex come back. Thanks Puzzle Girl for a neat write up and also for the reminder about Team Hecht.

RAmp/RAIL, AtES/ANES, SIt/SIC. Confused at the finish as TIC, TAC, TOE, DYE is just weird per @Anon 7:10.

When I found the blog ca early 2010 I thought it was the custom to use a moniker so I came up with Sparky because it's what my father used to call me after Barney Google's Horse. You can see how old I am from that. Then I even figured out how to have a name in blue with a picture and have a little profile.

Now, what I don't understand is why some people have no information at all if you go to look them up. Why bother? And some now have a whole Facebook page thing with TMI. And some ask you to join up sort of chiding you. What's going on?

Two Ponies 11:52 AM  

Between yesterday's puzzle and today's I can only hope for a Fri-Sat that provides some real entertainment. Something from Barry Silk or one of the Patricks?
That would help me out of these cranky pants.

Robbie Robertson 11:54 AM  

@GenJoneser - LEVON on drums instead of in the puzzle, Richard Manual wearing a TIC TAC TOE jacket while playing the keyboards, and I think if you look really closely you'll notice that Van's rhinestones form a winning TIC TAC TOE game. A perfect video.

Sparky 11:55 AM  

@Hazel: foodie is over at Amy's as Huda.

hazel 12:09 PM  

@sparky - thks. I do check that blog a few times a week - and look forward to reading her comments there. I liked it better when she engaged in the discussion here, though!

notsofast 12:17 PM  

On the plus side, there were no baseball clues and no playwrights. Good work. Fun.

Two Ponies 12:21 PM  

@ Sparky, Something is going on at blogger, at least for me. Yesterday it asked me to sign (I usually don't have to do that), then it wouldn't accept my password, then it did. But now my picture and all of my info has disappeared.

JFC 12:40 PM  

@Jeremy - RP is a very complicated person with a mind that is as inscrutable as The Shadow (except I think The Shadow listened to Rush Limbaugh), but if I were to hazard a guess at all three of your questions, I would say that Yes is the answer to all three.

@Sparky - I don't know how long RP has been doing this blog but I am curious about how long he was doing it before people knew Rex was Michael Sharp.

JK has posted several comments on Wordplay which make it pretty clear that this puzzle was something he planned from the start and not one that morphed from a themeless to a Thursday playday....


Anonymous 12:40 PM  


Have to agree with @enjudah, tho @r.alphbunker suggestion is certain plausible, it is not going by the rules of the game.

Even if 'O' goes first, there would be no reason for them to play their 5th turn after the game was won on the 4th turn for 'X'.

Irene Cara was in the movie 'Fame', and Nia Peeples was in the TV show. Since Irene's full name was too short, I was trying to picture the other female lead who went to a midnight Rocky Horror Picture Show in the movie, until a couple of crosses led me to the right answer.


mac 1:12 PM  

Too easy for a Thursday for me too, and I must have bad taste, I didn't fix the i in Ain/die.... Eddy gave me the worst earworm.

Hi and thanks PG. Sorry to have missed Lolla....

Bird 1:44 PM  

Puzzle Girl – Thanks for stopping by and providing a nice write-up.

Saw the grid and said, “Interesting.” Completed the gird and said, “Not interesting.” The theme was too simple and there's no pattern to the X’s and O’s. I thought maybe that’s a winner with the X’s going from NW to SE, but the last one is off the line. Lame, as others have said.

For a second I thought the ? in the clue for 15A was referring to the Dodge Caravan.

@r.alphbunker – Too much work for too little reward.

Liked 11D next to 32D. DANA CARVEY is hilarious.

Write-overs include STUDY before SEE ME and TUNA before SOLE.


fvigeland 2:10 PM  

Agree that the multiple O's made this puzzle a little disappointing upon completion. Having only one of either X or O in each corner would have been much better. Ideally, they would be positioned in the same row/column, too (the O in the North was particularly difficult to see since it was right on the border).

Did like all the long answers, but inexplicably went with COVE for COPA (?) and wound up with BERTCONNOR and OVER A HOUSE for where one might raise binoculars... it made sense in my head. :(

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

The answer to 43A is flat out wrong. REDSNAPPER is indeed an item on restaurant menus, but it's not actually a fish in a restaurant. Studies have found that upwards of 80% of what's sold in restaurants as REDSNAPPER isn't REDSNAPPER.

Sparky 2:14 PM  

@JFC. Bought my computer in Sept. 2009. First found Crossword Fiend then Rex Parker. His Archive goes back to 2006. In Aug. 2010 I recognized Rex in subway station on the way to Lollapuzzoola. So there was no secret by then. I am pretty sure pictures of Michael appeared in the blog.

There is no big secrecy in the Scrren Names, really. By the time you Email someone the name is pretty much revealed.

Sparky 2:20 PM  

That's screen. Sigh.
As long as I'm here, my last name had a shout out in yesterday's puzzle.

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

For the person who didn't get the CARAVAN pun:
Dodge Caravan .
Even after I finished it took me forever to figure out what ATOB was.

JenCT 2:32 PM  

@Milford: the problem with an easy screen name like JenCT is that I've found another (gasp) JenCT online!

So, I may have to change my screen name to something more unique to me...

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

Caravan pun?

Mz.D 2:56 PM  

Other than the fact that the tic-tac-toe grid doesn't really work, I had issues with "sic" as a "dog command".I can also think of less erroneous clues for "tomato soup" but contemplating Warhol was kind of fun.As for the screen name issue,I dunno.Initially it was sort of fun to have a moniker;an alter ego, not necessarily to hide behind, but as a line of first defense against unwanted attention,misinterpretation etc because the people you're blogging with are usually not your friends and this format is not conducive to in-depth thinking or communication except as it is defined;i.e a format to discuss the NYT crossword puzzle.I suppose it is chicken **** and I suspect that requiring people to use their real names would stop some sniping and yahooism.

Where's The Bard? 3:01 PM  


'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.


I take thee at thy word:
Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized;
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.

retired_chemist 3:09 PM  

@ everybody - my bad on tic tac toe. Our A/C was out until an hour or two ago and we were frantic about our puppies in the Texas heat. Not thinking clearly until coolth reappeared. (puppies were fine BTW - we put cold packs and frozen water bottles all around them and they were better than we were, by far.)

@ fvigeland - how can you be disappointed about multiple O's?

Z 3:14 PM  

@MzD - "I suspect that requiring people to use their real names would stop some sniping and yahooism." Exactly. The point of forcing people to use their real names is to censor them. Granted that on the Censorship Scale this form of censorship pales when compared to State Run media or the incarceration or murder of journalists. Nevertheless, it is an attempt to quiet those the majority deems unseemly. The remedy to speech we don't like is more speech, not trying to cow people into silence.

The captcha number is actually 31 this time. I'll still use 31 just to mess with googlism.

Loren Muse Smith 3:15 PM  

I know I won’t surprise anyone when I say I liked it. Ninety five percent of the time I like the puzzle, and say so here. That’s not because I’m a TIMID SISSY (stacked today – cool!), being so un-anonymous, but rather because I really do like them and am grateful to have quality puzzles day in and day out.

Every now and then there is a puzzle that I simply _ don’t_ like. Still being relatively new here, I just don’t have the confidence to say negative things even though constructors in the end benefit from honest feedback.

So I have a goal: tomorrow I’m going to voice a complaint if I really have one.

Ok, actually I just remembered something about today’s – I didn’t really like ANES, but it almost feels tongue in cheek, considering how we non-scientists struggle almost daily with OSE, ASE, ENE. . .endings in words. To have it as an entry in and of itself feels almost playfully irreverent.

Thanks to this site, I’m growing enormously as a solver. I really appreciate the hard work that Rex and his subs do for us. And I’m enjoying getting to know the constructors; today as I was printing the puzzle out, I saw Joe Krozel’s name, took one look at the grid, and smiled. It seems with Joe, it’s as much about the black squares (and lack thereof) as anything else. Good job!

Lewis 3:16 PM  

When I looked at my completed puzzle, what really stood out to me was SIC AYN. Is this a second day in a row a constructor is inserting an editorial point? Probably just a quirk in my brain.

I put in DANAckroyd before DANACARVEY.

If Joe had kept just one O in the NE and mideast, I think he would have gotten more respect.

Maxwell 3:20 PM  

In trying to get the puzzle to look like a tic-tac-toe grid, I blacked out tic, tac and toe. Then I literally "changed the color" of 46 across.

As for sic and ayn. If you also black them out, they form crosses with tic and dye. So I crossed them out.

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

atob? please explain!

AtoB 3:29 PM  

From A to B, as opposed to, say, from A to Z.

Bird 3:32 PM  

@LMS - You're such a sycophant and a Joe Krozel groupie.

Kidding of course.

I took a bried look at some of Joe's previous puzzles and it seems he really does not like black squares. This may be in poor taste and I apologize to any gthat are offended - With yesterday's conversation still fresh, I couldn't help but think 'racism?'. See, I told you it was bad.

sanfranman59 3:33 PM  

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

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

Thu 12:04, 18:52, 0.64, 3%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 6:25, 9:21, 0.69, 5%, Easy

Anonymous 4:16 PM  

Rex doesn't use his real name, so why should WE be required to?

chefbea 4:22 PM  

I don't understand the caravan pun either??? Isn't it the desert type stoping at an oasis?

Aladdin and Jasmine, not Romeo nor Juliette 4:32 PM  

A Dodge Caravan would use a parking spot but not be found at an oasis, hence the "?".

Milford 4:56 PM  

Did I miss something? Was there at some point a discussion that we should be "required" to use our "real names"? I just recall the discussions of any name vs. anonymous.

Screenname 5:06 PM  

There is no caravan pun. The "?" is used because of the work "parking" in the clue.

Anonymous 5:15 PM  


Please scroll back to @Z and @Mz.D

Milford 5:25 PM  

Yes, I am aware of those posts. I was wondering what came to prompt @MzD to make the "required" comment, if anything. No biggie.

Mighty Nisden 5:51 PM  

I will be happy when I am disappointed at how easy a Thursday is. As of now I made it through todays with flying colors. So I knew it would be an Easy Zambezie Thursday.

I too didn't like that the X's and O's were not lined up correctly, however I know that our fearless leader has often said that it's easier when themes are symmetrical.

My screen name? Mine is after a fictional god in a novel that was never published, (my own) so I knew it would be unique.

Mz.D 6:07 PM  

Ya know,I'm sorry this got started,but I just can't seem to leave it alone:@Milford,see Jae (at the top)for the beginning of this thread.Do you know my cousin Dave?He lives in Milford too.I love Milford!
@Z:Yes of course you're correct but my interpretation of "free speech" is that you are free from the threat of retaliation,persecution etc. and are therefore free to stand up as yourself without the need for a pseudonym/alias etc.I have read some truly egregious stuff(not here but other places)and while I support the individual's right to think it,write it,post it,etc I suspect they might be more circumspect if they were using their real identities.

Sandy K 6:14 PM  

@Mighty Nisden

It's disappointing when filling in the grid on a Thursday puzzle is easy-Zambezi, but trying to figure out what the heck the TIC TAC TOE DYE unsymmetrical theme is becomes the difficult part.
Uy, what a sentence...

chefwen 6:50 PM  

@orangeblossomspecial - Thanks for the clip, helped with my dance steps. Doggies are still laughing.

@Two Ponies - You're right, that is a much worse ear worm. Didn't even go there when I read the clue. DOH!

Bob Snead 7:33 PM  

Really feel like Joe K got off easy today with Rex out of office. I came here just to read the negative write-up.

Carola 8:23 PM  

I just read this interesting comment by Joe Krozel on the Wordplay blog:
"The theme is a slight bit incomplete, actually; I had hoped for a notepad instructing the solvers to cross out all 3-letter entries (upon completion) and to place and 'X' or and 'O' across each region containing at least one of those letters. But perhaps thats a bit much to explain with precision.
Aug. 9, 2012 at 8:55 a.m."
That would have helped me appreciate the theme.

Anonymous 9:05 PM  

So Joe Krozel posted the explanation on the Wordplay blog, but NOT on Rex Parker's blog.
Could this be Joe Krozel's revenge?

Z 9:42 PM  

MzD - Why couldn't you have stopped with "@Z:Yes of course you're correct?" But no, you had to include a "but...." (Please visualize John Belushi saying "But no")

JFC 9:50 PM  

@Chefwen - Whole pineapples here cost $2.50. I've waited all this time to tell you that because I know you spent more than that paying off your bet and I wanted to let you down easy. But the worst of it is that by the time I ate them they were spoiled so I bought a fresh one here. I cannot tell you how bad I feel. I feel almost as bad as I feel about that bad joke I made about Acme. I feel almost as bad as I feel about reading these inane comments about JK's explanation on Wordplay when Puzzle Girl's illustration explains it all, even more clearly than words can tell.

What nobody has said is that after the winner of the Tic Tac Toe filled in the 3 X's is that the sore loser filled in the other Os....


sanfranman59 10:03 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
Thu 12:05, 18:52, 0.64, 3%, Easy (5th lowest median solve time of 162 Thursdays)

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
Thu 6:14, 9:21, 0.67, 4%, Easy (6th lowest median solve time of 162 Thursdays)

enjudah 10:09 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
enjudah 10:13 AM  


The illegal tic-tac-toe fill has been mentioned.

Tita 1:09 PM  

Liked the clever clues everyone has mentioned, but just what is the theme? I feel just like Puzzle Girl - am I missing something? Sorry, but random # of Os scattered about weakens the whole thing. I also wanted some significance for DYE - we are DYEing the squares black?

@retired_chemist (and Ulrich) - thanks re: AXLE...I had the same thought.
@Sparky - yes, shout out to you!

Unknown 3:52 PM  

I go to RP when stumped for an explanation of a puzzling answer. Case in point: I had no clue as to what an atob or a tob was and how it could be a small step. Even when Wiki and google (yeah, I confess to cheating)were no help, it still didn't dawn on me. So to RP but, alas, no discussion by PG, nor any in the blog. Half way through the posts, it finally came to me: A to B. Doh!

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

I simply can't understand all the comments about the x's and o's. It's the grid, folks, the grid itself. It has nothing to do with the fill. The GRID, the GRID, the GRID!! Get it? A big doh to y'all
Ron Diego

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Andy Warhol's subject was NOT the "soup"...It was the "can"!!!

centralscrewtinizer 2:20 PM  

Anyone else put Fiji and jack instead of Bali and limb, and go downhill from there?

Spacecraft 2:30 PM  

I have one "huh?" not mentioned so far. The clue for 7d is "In ____, actually." The fill is ESSE. HUH?? I am totally lost on that one. Luckily for me, it was 100% forced in by crosses. The east and south-cenral came fairly quickly, but the rest was a bear. Don't you have to be really desperate if you wind up with two four-letter entries totaling SEVEN S's (SSNS, SSSS)? Let's introduce this into ESPN's NFL show: C'mon, man!

I think the 46a word should be WIN to complete the theme. But then we might have had to endure even worse fill along with CXII, so never mind.

Bob Kerfuffle 2:46 PM  

@Spacecraft - From what I can find on Xword Info, the clue for 7 D reads "In ____ (actually)", which makes more sense. If your source lost the parentheses, it would indeed look strange. Not defending the E's and S's, but the word exists and the form of the clue as shown in Xword Info is correct.

Ginger 3:44 PM  

There ia some fun atuff here; DEBUTANTES, FRETS, SETS (as clued), CAN OPENER. However, the grid and supposed theme just felt What the?, Huh?.

While the puzzles left me cold, the comments today didn't. SCREENNAMEs vs Actual names, and how they are pereived, was enlightening. For the record, Ginger is what my friends call me, so it seemed natural to use it.

@Anoa Bob - thanks for the Gordon Lightfoot clip. I like that version better than the Flack.

DMGrandma 6:05 PM  

I didn't go hunting for buried x's and o's, so I guess most of the "theme" was lost on me. I just assumed it had something to do with the strange arrangement of black squares. My only slow down was wanting "hair" for 5A which left me hunting for something "hor..." related for the down clue and wondering how horoscope, or whatever, related to rain. Other than that, when I can come up with the answer to a SNL clue, you know the puzzle is easy!
Suspect the Friday puzzle is waiting to laugh at me!

Just saw the Captcha is "ssessory"- more s's to add to the puzzles collection! Well,, that Captcha didn't work...seems they get trickier every day.

Solving in Seattle 6:28 PM  

This struck me as a strange puzzle. The grid and the TIC TAC TOE kinda theme. There were some clever clues, and I liked SSSS SISSY SEXY strung together. YESINDEEDY, I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Spacecraft 7:36 PM  

@bob k: Thanks for the research; I see it's legalese "in ESSE" vs. "in posse." So, I guess if I refused to ride along to chase the outlaws, I'd be in ESSE. Ne-vah-hoidofit.

Dirigonzo 8:27 PM  

Until I read today's comments I never imaginined it was possible to argue about the rules of tic-tac-toe.

I refuse to accept SIC as an appropriate dog command so I stuck with SIt; since I also had mIAPEEPLES, DANAHARVEY never made an appearance in my grid to imitate Bush the elder or anybody else.

My SCREENNAME is fully explained in a post on my blog, if anybody is interested - it was posted on 10-16-2010 but you'll have to find it on your own (not that hard if you click on my avatar).

@Bob K - Always good to know that you are checking in on the syndi-comments. My paprer printed the clue correctly but I'm still with @Spacecraft - "Ne-vah-hoidofit".

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

For the most part I liked this puzzle. More specifically, I liked all the squares I filled in correctly, and I disliked the two I filled in incorrectly. I have to give the constructor a fail for those two bad squares.

Ralph Bunker I think offers the closest explanation of the game represented here. But here's what I think transpired. The sections with the multiple O's represent the multiple O's scribbled in the remaning sections by the frustrated child who doesn't like to lose.

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