Bandleader Kay / TUE 9-4-12 / Olive genus / Inscribed pillar / Pretzels chips in adspeak

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Constructor: Barry Franklin and Sara Kaplan

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: TWENTY-SEVEN (62A: Age at which Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse died) — theme answers all refer to "62-Across" and are all examples of what "TWENTY-SEVEN" means to different types of people (mathematicians, astronomers, etc.)

Word of the Day: Carol HEISS (48D: Carol ___, five-time world figure-skating champion) —
Carol Elizabeth Heiss Jenkins (born January 20, 1940 in New York City) is an American figure skater and former actress. She is the 1960 Olympic Champion in Ladies Singles, 1956 Olympic silver medalist and five-time World Champion (1956–1960). (wikipedia)
• • •

Well at least they didn't die in vain.

This is morbid and weird. The things that are "27" are arbitrary. The fill is not ... great. I don't have much time for this—on many levels, the most important of which is that I start teaching again tomorrow, so I really need to get to bed.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: 62-Across to a mathematician (PERFECT CUBE)
  • 23A: 62-Across to an astronomer (MOONS OF URANUS)
  • 39A: 62-Across to a Yankees fan (WORLD SERIES WINS)
  • 50A: 62-Across to a student of Semitic languages (HEBREW LETTERS)

I don't have much to say. Grid feels like it was filled by hand on graph paper—i.e. it's serviceable, but the fill is obvious and skewing toward dated / old-fashioned / xwordesey. My friend, who was going to blog the puzzle for me tonight due to my time constraints / lack of enthusiasm, wrote me and said "I don't know if my puzzle is right ... 30-Across (OLEA) and 66-Across (STELA) are total guesses. And I thought, "Yes. Exactly." Many more solvers will be in the same head-scratching position, because only xword cognoscenti / olive or pillar experts have any clue what those words are about. This is quintessential crosswordese—words that most people don't really know (outside of crosswords) and that most people only very, very rarely (if ever) see (outside of crosswords). I doubt either one of these was necessary. And there are many, many other examples that are less irksome individually but plenty irksome in the aggregate.

  • 31A: Politico whose name is an anagram of GAOLER (AL GORE) — what is the point of this? The anagram is not relevant to who he is (unless he's running a British jail now), so ... yuck.
  • 60D: Pretzels and chips, in adspeak (SNAX) — The proximity of the "J" to OLEA and the "X" to STELA makes me seriously question the upside of having Scrabbly letters in your grid in this case.
  • 68A: Bandleader Kay (KYSER) — in case you hadn't gotten your fill of dead musicians.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Evan 12:15 AM  

First thought: Uranus has 27 moons?!

Second thought: Wouldn't "galore" have been a better word to use in the anagram for AL GORE than "gaoler"? Too close to the real answer, maybe?

Third thought: I have no problem with building a puzzle around the number 27, even with theme answers that aren't by themselves in-the-language phrases, but I don't really know why they picked those five musicians for the theme revealer. Obviously they were all 27 at their time of death, but why those five specifically? The puzzle isn't ostensibly about music at all, so why those musicians and not other celebrities? What makes their age of death more noteworthy than other applications of the number 27 that could be clued in 62-Across?

Last thought: Fill seems pretty bland in retrospect given the theme density. LIFESAVER is nice, but there's REL, OLEA, IF IT, ONT, HRH, OER, STELA, AFT, NECCO, DYNE, HEISS, TELE, SNAX, TER....not necessarily hard to suss out, but it's not that aesthetically pleasing, either.

GILL I. 12:17 AM  

Yikes, they all died young and we get PERFECT CUBE and the WORLD SERIES WIN. This really felt like s few MOONS OF URANUS....
Well, I will admit that I really liked LIFESAVER. I love cherry and hate pineapple. I use to take those out and then when I had enough I'd stuff them back in the wrapper and give them to my sister.
RHETT would have said " SADIE, You are no HYENA but I'm EAGER to smell your BLOOM.

JFC 12:19 AM  

Sometimes, @Rex, I cannot disagree with you. Not because you are right. Not because you make so much sense even I cannot poke fun. Not because you are so skilful at breaking down a puzzle. But because I like you.

So let's talk about the 19*27* Yankees, the greatest team ever and the year Babe Ruth set the real home run record for a single season....


jae 12:21 AM  

I was going to say Tuesday's are pretty much like Monday's, but not this one. This was tough, more like a Wed.  Plus, there were couple of Natick possibilities:  NUREMBERG/OLEA could have gone with a U, and HRH/HEISS where an M might be tempting. 

So, speed slow.  Tough.

Grid not bad, but not Tues.  As Rex notes STELA and OELA plus HEISS, ORFEO, MALAWI...make this difficult.

Theme complicated and not easy (see speed).

Feelings:  I liked it, just not on a Tues.  Also, I'm slightly biased as I really enjoyed Barry's comments when he use to post here regularly ( although I'm not sure he actually ever stopped).

Anoa Bob 12:42 AM  

Untimely deaths, all.

Free Wallpaper HQ 2:23 AM  

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chefwen 2:24 AM  

A little crunchy for a Tuesday with a couple of sticking points 20A SLushY before SLEETY and NUREMBERG in and out a couple of times with NUREMBuRG.

I remember Kay KYSER from way, way, way, back then. Cheese and Rice, how old am I?

Printed out a copy for "the husband" and I really thought that this was going to be the day that outdoes me time wise. Fortunately he got on a one hour business call, he's still working on the puzzle. Phew!!! My reputation is unsullied.

Davis 3:23 AM  

Meh, I'm with Rex on this one, except that I enjoyed the theme a little more than he did.

I thought the TER/KYSER crossing was unconscionable for a Tuesday: you've got a name that's not really guessable if you don't already know it intersecting with total crosswordese (the prescription terms are just infrequent enough that they never quite stick with me). I had to try three different letters before the iPad app gave me the all-clear.

Beyond that, there's not a whole lot of memorable fill. It might have been fun if they'd taken the candies thing a little further (beyond NECCO and LIFE SAVER). But I think there's a serious fill problem when NUREMBERG and MALAWI are your most interesting non-theme entries.

Anglo Coala Malawi 4:36 AM  

Having just come in from my monthly Monday night Beatles singalong, I must protest...Sexy SADIE doesn't really refer To a woman, but to the Maharishi, no?

The 27 for these folks is totally relevant. You may be on the young side, but it was/is a "thing" that these folks all died at 27, theres even a "27 club"... It was a huge synchronitous thing.
Altho Lennon died at 40 and that seems tragically young too, tho the others by their own hand in a way.
Downer theme, yet fascinating, and neat to have the number in the puzzle.
(I'm not explaining it well but look it up!)

Seems very inventive to link these completely disparate things.
And even tho CYNICS might say,"why 27?" or "You could do this with almost any number", i would beg to disagree and find this fresh and interesting.
Plus Barry Franklin aka karmasatre is engaging a soul as you'd want to meet!


Anonymous 4:39 AM  

My only comment is I can't believe 2 people claimed responsability for this festering turd of a puzzle. Is there anyone who can breath life into NYT puzzles?

Acme 4:53 AM  

Anon 4:39
Now now. Take 27 deep breaths and try and understand what they were trying to do.

Evan 5:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evan 5:16 AM  

I would counter that while the trivia from the theme answers may be interesting, the theme would be tied together better if each of the dead-at-27 musicians were the theme entries themselves (or other musicians/celebrities with the same trivia, to make them fit symmetrically). It'd be a more morbid theme than what it is now, sure, but I think that would at least be more cohesive than "disparate things which have a value of 27 and, by the way, that's the age that these five musicians died."

I don't think it's a bad puzzle -- just that the fill is a little bland and that the theme answers are somewhat arbitrary in that they're linked by nothing except the number 27. I'd prefer it if they each had a similar connection to each other in addition to the number 27, since that number is the theme revealer.

Drew 6:10 AM  

The clue for 22A is poor. Two skewed lines are non-parallel, and they'll never meet.

orangeblossomspecial 6:22 AM  

Kay Kyser .. dead?! Say it ain't so. A proud graduate of U. of North Carolina. But he lives on in this immortal:

'Three little fishies'.

Milford 6:31 AM  

I'm more in the @acme camp that the age 27 theme revealer is relevant, and I knew which musicians and the age before filling it in.

The clue for AL GORE was what I found irrelevant, to be honest. It looks like a captcha.

So while I'm fine with the theme, I'm more distressed that I DNFed on a flippin' Tuesday due to TREk/SNAk, of all things. Amazingly I was able to guess correctly on HEISS/STELA and KYSER/TER, and even ANNO/ORFEO, but that's more guessing on a Tuesday than I'm used to. .

I did like NECCO and LIFSAVER, and the clue for JOWL.

Zwhatever 6:46 AM  

Tuesday's back in all it's warped infamy.

Thinking that the answer would be 29 I went with Prime number at 17A, making the NW a bit of a mess for me. I got that sorted out fairly quickly.

I had to resort to Evan's algorithm again at HEISS/STELA, although aTELA seemed plausible and HEISa... Well last names can be anything.

As to Uranus' moons, my first thought was, "is there agreement?" Wikipedia says 27, so it must be so.

We have the politics in the south with AL GORE debating NEO-cons about Nixon's JOWLs. Meanwhile, HRH Harry and RHETT are partying with a LEGGY SADIE in LEEDS. The bartender POURS some beer on TAP and we all hope that the video doesn't go viral.

optionsgeek 7:11 AM  

Agree with the gripes about unnecessary crosses (HEISS with STELA, TER with KYSER). However I think the clue to 22 across - "What non-parallel lines eventually do" (MEET) is incorrect. That is only true for non-parallel lines in the same plane. Seems like an unforced error.

Glimmerglass 7:33 AM  

This puzzle is full of nits, and the pickers are at it in earlier comments. Mine is the answer PERFECT CUBE. Is there such a thing as an imperfect cube? 7? 728? I was surprised to see SLEETY and LEGGY in the same puzzle.

Sue McC 8:14 AM  

I liked the general I like when word puzzles find a way to incorporate numbers. It's the mathlete in me. That being said, some of the fill was lame, as Rex and others have pointed out.

JohnV 8:19 AM  

Just happy to be doing this puz from CT. No Charlotte this week 'cause of DNC. Thought the revealer was a bit too macabre to pass the breakfast test.

Happy Tuesday all.

mitchs 8:20 AM  

I liked it. I just saw the "27 Club" referenced somewhere recently, so I knew it was a "thing". Finding out some obscure facts is always welcome on a Tuesday, so the theme far outweighs the sub par fill. (note to negative anons....ah, never mind, I'm sure Will and the constructors consider the source.)

janie 9:00 AM  

>Is there such a thing as a thing as an imperfect cube?

hmmm. a very steven wright/george carlin kinda query -- but -- that's the mathematical term. the constructors didn't simply conjure it up to shoe-horn into the puzzle!


jackj 9:05 AM  

We’ve kidded before about “Little Known Facts That Don’t Mean Diddly” but Barry and Sara have elevated the concept into one of elegant respectability with a theme that serenades “Howard Johnson’s 28 flavors of ice cream, minus one” (to join in the spirit of the puzzle), otherwise known as the number 27.

In addition to the interesting, fact laden theme, there were a number of excellent bits of fill, some might even be thought to be a tad difficult for a Tuesday level puzzle, (how often does one reflect on MALAWI), but none that really caused too much pain.

The clues for ADIEU, “Closing bid?” and ALGORE, “Politico whose name is an anagram of GAOLER”, (most imaginative Al Gore clue of the 25 to date), were clever and the Kay KYSER entry triggered a pleasant reminder of KYSER’s resident comedian, Ish Kabibble, he of the charming chuckle of a name.

For me, NUREMBERG had a special meaning since a favorite Uncle had his service in WWII extended way beyond V-J Day by Uncle Sam when he was ordered to leave his command of an LST in the Pacific Theatre and instead serve as a defense attorney representing German defendants facing prosecution for war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials. (Happiest upshot of this duty was it gave him an instant family as he and his wife adopted two orphaned, one-year old German boys).

Thanks to Barry and Sara for what was a serendipitous treat!

Lewis 9:22 AM  

I think a number and three arbitrary answers that the number fits is good enough for a Tuesday theme, given that the number itself isn't arbitrary: There is an fact that makes it interesting.

Shamik 9:44 AM  

@Anonymous 4:39: Easy to be harsh, crude and snide when you're anonymous.

I liked this puzzle and did know that "27" is a death thing in some talented young people. I'm sure plenty of talented young people die at 28 or 26. The press just doesn't batch them together.

Slowed me down when I misspelled NUREMBERG with the Naticky olive genus. But even with the correction my time came in at the slow end of medium-challenging. However, comparing that time with those who solve on the NYT site, I came in higher than I usually do. Ah the bliss of solving the day the puzzle appears!

eanmdphd 9:46 AM  

Thought TOURS as a possibility for drafts may be served on it, but knew APPS

Sparky 10:08 AM  

Went quite quickly. Misspelled NUREnBERG at first. The cross fixed it. Bar before TAP, CDC before NIH. Why is 50A HEBREW LETTERS and not HEBREW numerals? HIHATS very popular recently; they were on Jeopardy! too.

Up and attem.

fruitypants 10:16 AM  

Had NUREMBURG and OLUA (looked funny, but OLEA looks funny too). I didn't mind the arbitrary nature of the theme, but the rest was just meh.

Carola 10:21 AM  

I liked it - kept me thinking throughout and enjoying words I don't recall seeing much in crosswords: gruff, adieu, jowl, hyena, hi hats, Malawi, earthy.... Thought about ORest before ORFEO and Tut before TSK. Not previously acquainted with SADIE or Kay KYSER. Interesting to learn here about the 27 Club.

@orangeblossomspecial -
Thank you for the delightful clip. I learned the song (first verse only) from my mom and recently had the pleasure of teaching it to my little granddaughter (complete with swimming motions, of course : ) ). I had no idea that there was a big band version.

quilter1 10:25 AM  

Well, OK. Solved quickly, even though I did not know all those people died at the same age I was at least familiar with their names if not their work. Kind of morbid, and yet, quirkily connected with moons and math and all that was different. While I would rate it east, I'm not sure if it was good, bad or indifferent.

Music Lover 10:30 AM  

To Glimmerglass: The cube of an integer is a perfect cube. So while 1/8 is the cube of 1/2 and 35/937 is the cube 3.3, neither are perfect cubes.

To Z: You are certainly on the right track. There are many things in space we have yet to discover, and moons are certainly common examples. The perfectly correct answer for 23A would be "known moons of Uranus."

To All: In past centuries, a number of Classical musicians died quite young. Think of Mozart and Schubert. The Spanish composr Arriega died at age 19. But many, many musicians (mostly Jewish) were killed during World War II, and I'd think some were 27 (which links in with 3D). With all the talent we have prematurely lost, we should always be grateful for what has been given to us by these artists.

joho 10:35 AM  

Last night I wrote in the margin: really interesting way to clue the number 27! Plus all the answers are educational.

This was even more fun for me because at dinner over the weekend our 18 year old while dicussing Sxrillex, his favorite musician, brought up the fact he hopes he makes it past the age of 27 ... then he named everybody mentioned in the puzzle. How's that for synchronicity!

I liked it for being so thought provoking and different.

Thank you Barry & Sara!

Carola 10:38 AM  

Those of a certain age will remember Herblock's classic renderings of Nixon's JOWLs. Here's one featuring them in a rather EARTHY pose.

chefbea 10:38 AM  

I agree..too tough for a Tuesday. Another busy day no time to stay and chat

jberg 10:42 AM  

Quick and easy, except when I misread the clue number and wrote STELe in at 65A instead of 66A. That was compounded by my not knowing about 27, and guessing that the number started with ThirTY. The ERNIEs kindly set me straight on that one.

I think a PERFECT CUBE is the cube of an integer, since every number is the cube of something. As for the MOONS OF URANUS, I think it's pretty much a matter of magnifying power - they keep getting better pictures and discovering more of them. Also, I guess it's a matter of how small you can get and still be considered a moon.

Personally, I liked the theme, and the fill didn't bother me as much as it did Rex.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

Much more of a MEDIUM than an easy for a Tuesday. Meh.

cheeseguy101 11:04 AM  

Either I am in a very bad mood coming back to work after a long weekend or this is the worst puzzle in some time. The fill felt like it was all pulled from the 1970's ( and yes I was alive then). Theme didn't do anything for me either.

syndy 11:15 AM  

Too soon! May it always be too soon!

miriam b 11:25 AM  

@Sparky: The Hebrew alphabet comprises 27 letters. None appear in captchas.

Two Ponies 11:55 AM  

Wow, I wish we had 27 moons. That would take sky watching to a whole new level.
I don't ask much of my Mon-Tues puzzles so this one was OK by me.

KRMunson 12:16 PM  

I agree with @Rex. "Things that relate to the number 27" is totally random. The creators could just as easily have written a puzzle about any number. I found the puzzle bland with little to keep me interested. I'm not quite as negative as @anonymous (a festering turd? really??), but it wasn't up to the standard of cleverness that I've come to expect from the NYT.

Rob C 12:23 PM  

Interesting, unique theme. Some interesting fill: MALAWI, HIHATS, LIFESAVER, CYNICS. Some not so stellar as others have pointed out. Does anyone say SLEETY?

Agree with John V - Couldn't help but think 62A that the unofficial, unacknowledged breakfast test sre went out with a bang. Death, suicide, drugs... all in one answer.

mac 1:13 PM  

The musicians dying at 27 was brought home to me when a relative congratulated me on my son's 28th birthday.

Did not know Kyser, Necco and Heiss, but the crosses saved me. Thanks crosswordese! Nice Tuesday, easy-medium.

Masked and Aoleamous 1:27 PM  

Wanted NurembUrg. Like HambUrg(er). A little more consistency, bitte, mein Herrs und Fraus. OLuA looked bad, but hey I'm no genus genius.

thUmbsUp for tryin' to be oddball, theme-wise. 27... Think I was in Nam at that age. Glad I wasn't a musician. 27... one off from the total number of U's in this August's Sunday puzs. 120 for the dailies, a 4.4 average. But I digress. 27... the only number that is 3 times the sum of its digits.

27... Man, UranUs sure gets mooned a lot. Must cruise the one's pretty regular. har.

Have fun in school, 31. Hope U don't get one of those early bird class times again.

Bird 1:49 PM  

In agreement with @Rex today. Meh puzzle. And finished with an error (on a Tuesday no less!) thinking 3D crossing 30A was a “U”. Best part was 39A – I hope they get to 28 World Championships this year.

I think the theme itself is a good one, though on the macabre side, but I’m with others about the disconnect the members of the 27 Club and the theme entries. It would have been much better if we got a song by each artist and the revealer in Roman Numerals.

@JFC – My favorite team was the 1998 Yankees. I never had a doubt they would lose a game (even down by 10 runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th) or the trophy.

I may have to quit this blog because of the captchas. Harumph!

Sam Donaldson 1:57 PM  

"It would have been much better if we got a song by each artist and the revealer in Roman Numerals."


Sandy K 1:58 PM  

Easy but not LIGHT and breezy theme today. If you are sensitive to the unfortunate demise of these talented musicians, you may not like the other TWENTYSEVENs- since they are random and not in the same realm...

@Sparky Knew HIHATS from Jeopardy too!

Knew STELA and OLEA- definitely NOT a pillar or olive I must be one of those xword cognoscenti!! Thanx Rex!

dje 2:00 PM  

I majored in Semitic Languages at Vanderbilt and have been speaking Hebrew fluently since middle school (2003); I know for sure that there are only 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet: א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט י כ ל מ נ ס ע פ צ ק ר ש ת.
5 of these letters take a different form when they appear at the end of a word, but its still the same dang letter!!

JFC 2:08 PM  

I'm a little surprised, well, actually stunned, that this puzzle could cause such disparate feelings (I like that word Acme - it's a good word for legal briefs also).

Both constructors, and especially Barry Franklin, regularly comment on Wordplay and if you have read his comments over time I think there is a greater appreciation for this puzzle. He almost always brings an offbeat, and usually funny, perspective on a puzzle and this puzzle's crazy theme of 4 unrelated answers connected only by the number 27 reminds me of his far out funny zingers.

Sara says that the theme came from an outburst from her son about the 27 World Series wins by the Yankees.

I was recently listening to Howard Bloom (author of "The God Problem") discuss how the Fibonacci sequence is found everywhere throughout the universe, from the smallest to the largest, all unrelated, but related in the existence of this numbering sequence.

So the fact that Barry and Sara have found unrelated things connected by the number 27 is quirky in an interesting sort of way.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

Among the rock musicians who died at 27 NOT mentioned in the clues:

Alan (Blind Owl) Wilson: co-founder of the LA boogie-blues rock band Canned Heat and lead singer on their two biggest hits, "Goin' Up The Country" and "On the Road Again" (not the Willie Nelson song).

Ron (Pigpen) McKernan: charter member of the Grateful Dead when the band was still known as The Warlocks. Lead vocalist on "Turn on Your Lovelight," "Easy Wind," "Operator," and other songs. Drank himself to death: most of the band was into psychedelics; Ron was into alcohol.

Brian Jones: He cofounded an obscure little band in London in 1962. He was dead by 1969. That band is celebrating its golden anniversary this year. You may have heard of them; they're called the Strolling Bones or the Trolling Scones or something like that.

hazel 2:48 PM  

27 is so young.

Quirky, thought-provoking puzzle for me - dragged down a little by some old-timey stuff, but was balanced by some interesting words too.

Could have done without the Yankees trivia! Go braves!!

Jick Magger 2:49 PM  

@Anon 2:12 - The Scolding Trolls

sanfranman59 3:07 PM  

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

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

Tue 9:38, 8:57, 1.08, 73%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:57, 4:39, 1.28, 97%, Challenging

GILL I. 3:39 PM  

@Carola: I always thought Nixon's prominent feature was his nose. althought I think I remember seeing photo clips of him shaking his cheeks (JOWLS) or something.
Those were sad days indeed! My grandmother, whom I adored, was a devout Nixon backer and I had no real idea of what was going on since I lived in complete oblivion (in Spain) during those years.
I guess this makes the puzzle even sadder...although I still like LIFE SAVER

Lojman 3:53 PM  

How about cluing 39A as "62-Across for the Yankees"? Even as a Yankee non-fan, I must concede that the Yankees have indeed won 27 World Series.

@JFC, I don't know anyone who disputes that Babe Ruth set the home run record in 1927, real or imaginary. Only the most delusional nostalgist thinks that record still stands. BTW, Roger Maris' age when he smashed number 61 over the fence in 1961? You guessed it - 27.

And finally, the Lojman cannot abide 63D. The abbreviation TID is used for medications taken thrice daily. TID stands for the latin TER in die. I know of no pharmacist who would fill a prescription written "ter in die". TER isn't 'Thrice, in precriptions'. It's 'Thrice, in latin'. Or it's '"T", on a prescription'. It's also lousy crosswordese


Ninjapenguin 4:17 PM  

Since I live not far from NUREMBERG, that was an easy fill for me. And I knew STELA from my architecture class. Had totally guess on the R for KYSER/TER.

I think the concept of theme answers relating back to a number is a good one, but I'd have enjoyed it more if the number was 42.

Masked and Abbreviatin' 4:26 PM  

b. B in the NT
c. O per T in a NYM G
d. A N of C
e. A W of A
f. S to J the U, for F
g. J N for C F of the BRS
h. B in the HH
i. C in the EU (good for today only)
j. IH thru BH's HT (speakin' of dying music)

quilter1 4:28 PM  

@syndy: believe me, sometimes it can't be too soon.

M and A 4:58 PM  

Actually, correcterly...
c. O per T in a NYM HG

JFC 5:02 PM  

@Lojman - I don't even know what the single season HR record is these days but I gave up on it when Sammy Sosa broke his bat and all that cork flew out. I still have an asterisk besides Roger Maris 61 (longer season and not in HOF is the footnote) and double asterisks besides anyone who broke it while on steroids.

Hank Greenberg was also 27 when he hit his 58.

@Z - You can add delusional to what I've been called....


Anonymous 5:24 PM  

Of course this was published on my 27th birthday. I hope this isn't a bad omen...

John in Philly 5:29 PM  

Rolled through until the gross SE - agree with Rex. Do crosswords really have to have words nobody ever ever uses?

jae 5:30 PM  

@JFC -- Re: Barry/Karma -- Nicely said.

Lojman 6:22 PM  

@JFC - I'd love to see that list!

I have to agree with you on the steroid front - hard to feel any love for the guy in the twilight of his career who by some miracle puts on 40 lbs of muscle and suddenly is hitting opposite field homers off off-speed pitches.

But Roger? C'mon! It's called the Single Season Home Run Record. That's all it is! And in 1961 he set it. (BTW his absence from the HOF is truly bizarre. A relic, no doubt, of the New York media's arbitrary decision not to like him.)

mitchs 6:50 PM  

@krmunson: There's no agreement or disagreement with Rex on whether the 27 was random. It wasn't. Google "27 club".

Carola 6:55 PM  

@Gill I. P. -
My dad was at the opposite end of the spectrum from your grandmother. I think Herblock's cartoons helped keep him sane during the Nixon years.

Here's a good one of that nose, by cartoonist Paul Conrad.

Zwhatever 8:13 PM  

@mitchs - no, it's random. Humans are pattern seeking creatures. The "26 Club" has Otis Redding, Gram Parsons, Nick Drake, Jimmy McCulloch of Wings, and Hillel Slovak of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (that took a google search, too). People die at all ages, regardless of fame. The real mystery is Keith Richards.

@delusional JFC - Just don't call me late for dinner.

I think the captcha generating robot can't read its own handwriting

Bob Snead 9:52 PM  

Fun theme, things got pretty naticky for me though

sanfranman59 10:04 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 6:12, 6:48, 0.91, 15%, Easy
Tue 9:38, 8:57, 1.08, 73%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:39, 3:41, 0.99, 49%, Medium
Tue 5:46, 4:39, 1.24, 97%, Challenging (6th highest median solve time of 167 Tuesdays)

Numbers Guy 10:36 PM  

surprised at the challenging rating from sanfran, but perhaps it was all due to the incorrect clue at 22A, which was pointed out early this morning by 2 different people, but ignored thereafter. im sure a similar mis-statement of facts related to literature or film or sports would not be forgiven so easily.

rex must have breezed past this because he didnt know that the answer wasnt right. as we all know from reading the NYT recently, algebra (or even basic math) isnt necessary for many careers - or crossword puzzles.

I am not a God Damned robot! 10:57 PM  

1@numbers guy - I think you mean GEOMETRY

@Z - it is NOT random because all the musicians listed died at 27 it would be random if there was a politician, teacher, astronaut and poet

nuf said

Z Axis 11:07 PM  

@Numbers Guy et al - the clue is right. You are conflating "not parallel" with "nonparallel." Parallel lines and their opposites, nonparallel lines, are, by definition, coplanar. Skew lines are not coplanar so are not nonparallel.

Numbers Guy 11:23 PM  

@notarobot -- realizing that subtlety is a challenge for some here,

if you dont get your news from dead trees in blue bags at the base of your driveway, you can read the relevant reference to algebra here.

Sfingi 11:25 PM  

I think it has something to do with the NUREMBURGer funnel.

Nick 11:32 PM  

Four naticks (1, 30, 66 and 68 across) for those of us who don't speak fluent xword-ese.

Ginger Amelia 11:51 PM  


not a robot 11:55 PM  

@numbers guy - i do get the NYT delivered, but . . . whatever. anyway the clue is correct.

Numbers Guy 12:01 AM  

@Z Axis. i dont disagree on a narrowly factual basis, but that isnt the rulebook. if you elevate your game to the 4th dimension, you'll recall that common usage is the criterion most often cited - not arcane distinctions commonly used in certain professions.
even though thats sometimes wack.

Anonymous 12:03 AM  

@Z Axis 11:07pm:

But still shouldn't the clue specify Euclidean geometry? In a hyperbolic plane can't nonparallel lines never MEET?

Less discussion-worthy: @dje 2:00pm is of course absolutely correct in that there are twenty-two, not TWENTY-SEVEN, HEBREW LETTERS. It's not up for debate: applying this answer to the theme is simply imcorrect.

If you want to double count the five Hebrew letters with distinct final forms, then you must be comfortable saying the English alphabet has fifty-two letters, since each one has two forms: upper and lower case. (Hebrew doesn't have upper and lower cases.)

Acme 4:00 AM  

Interesting, see what you are trying to say, but it's a bit devil's advocate...I mean,
Otis Redding who was only 26, died in a plane crash, the others in the infamous "27 club" were drugs and alcohol related and tied together by overwhelming talent , but selfdestructing and sadly demonstrating how much abuse your body can endure to die that young.

But you are so right about Keith Richards!

Zwhatever 6:54 AM  

Man, I love this place. - @Numbers Guy, I do believe that the common usage of parallel and nonparallel is the euclidean definition. So in both technical and common usage senses the clue is correct.

David Bowman 11:47 AM  

Where to begin?

22A (MEET): Nonparallel lines only meet in plane geometry.

23A (MOONS OF URANUS): Well, of course! Who wouldn't know that?

58A (HIHATS): Never heard of 'em. I guess you'd have to be in a band.

2D (NOEL): I did not know that a "Noel" was a Christmas carol.

12D & 24D: I got these pretty easy, but to me, an "outfit" is slang for a military unit. "Hey, Bub. What outfit were you in, back in WW2?"

38D (ESTE): Okay, I got it, but I will always object to foreign words. How many languages do we have to learn just so we can do the morning crosswords with our coffee?

NIH, OLEA, ORFEO, NECCO, HEISS, and TER, were all new to me. I can't say I "learned" something from this, as I doubt I'll retain this information.

Just too many stretches for a Tuesday.

Spacecraft 1:11 PM  

Seems to me OFL is getting more curmudgeonly by the day, pausing only for the P. Berry masterpiece of late. I don't think the fill in this is so bad; in fact for a 63-letter dense theme field it's remarkable. Look at those long downs: NUREMBERG and LIFESAVER. "Perfect"-ly OK--and not stuff you see every day. I also like the symmetrical entries EARTHY CYNICS. Yeah, some of the periphery gets xwordy, but I wouldn't want to try and fix it.

I was astounded at the multiple coincidence mentioned in the reveal. All those wasted lives! Yet if not for pushing the envelope, none of them might ever have created anything memorable.

I was sure at first that the long central across had to do with some ultra-famous player's uniform number. But that many wins? That's obscene! They oughta be ashamed of themselves!

LEGGY is quite legit; it's a favorite adjective of pulp detective novelists. Sleety? Less so. It's not SLEETY: it's sleeting. Luckily for me, where I live it isn't--and likely never will!

I grinned at ALGORE: it looks in the grid like all one word--which is exactly how Rush Limbaugh used to say it, and even pointedly remark that it should be all one word. [Disclaimer: I am NOT a Rush fan!]

An easy and informative do. We're not ALL against you, Sara and Barry!

Ginger 1:18 PM  

@Sanfranman59 It's fascinating how your stats confirm my perception as I worked this puzzle. I kept thinking, 'today is Tuesday, right?' I was able to finish with no write-overs, but it wasn't Tuesday-smooth.

As I understand a 'natick', it's when both words that CROSS are so esoteric the solver could not be expected to know either of them.

@Petrovich, with 'outfit' you've encountered mis-direction, aint it fun? As to how many foeign languages we need to know.....All of em! ;-)

DMGrandma 3:12 PM  

This one was pretty smooth for me. Only pause was wanting STELe,which was denied by the cross SNAX. Maybe STELe is plural?

@Ginger, don't know if you'll see this as you've already posted, but thanks for the info on "dene". I checked four or five dictionaries on line, and they all gave one of the other two meaanings. I find it interesting that the same word can mean a valley or a dune! No wonder we struggle with these things.

As for AD IN, I love watching the French Open where the judges announce it as "adVANtāge in" in, I'm sure impeccable French.

Ginger 3:32 PM  

@DMG Also, the French Open 'chairs' announce deuce as EGALitay (spelled phoenetically). Occasionally EGAL shows up being clued as 'equal' or something similar.

I was surprised Rex called this easy-medium. Though I don't time, this took me longer than usual for a Tues.

Dirigonzo 3:38 PM  

I liked it but needed a couple of lucky guesses as did many others.

@Spacecraft - I am unfortunate enough to live in a region where the frozen precipitation can come in a number of varieties including snow, sleet, hail, freezing rain and any combination of some or all of the above. With that said to establish my creds on the topic, SLEETY is a perfectly good answer to, "What's the weather outside?" (If it's also a good answer to "What's the weather inside?", someone needs a new roof.)

Shout-outs to my neighbors to the north at 45a and 49a!

Mary in Oregon 3:42 PM  

@Petrovich: 38D (ESTE): Okay, I got it, but I will always object to foreign words. How many languages do we have to learn just so we can do the morning crosswords with our coffee?

Since I've been doing crosswords, I've subliminally learned crosswordese in Spanish, French, Italian (all those operas!) and now, some German as well. After a few years, you'll remember those foreign words, too.

Anonymous 2:03 AM  

The two comments saying that the Hebrew language has twenty-two letters, not twenty-seven as per today's crossword were on the right track, but missed the mark. Hebrew actually has 26 letters, no more, no less, so there was a factual error in the puzzle. People who counted twenty-two letters forgot that three of the letters - bet, kaf, and peh - have a second form - vet, khaf, and feh, and the shin can also be a sin.....from Penny in Simi Valley.

AJD 1:11 PM  

Vet, khaf, feh, and sin are no more separate Hebrew letters than c-pronounced-as-s is a separate letter from c-pronounced-as-k in English.

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