Daydreamer encountered by Odysseus / MON 9-24-12 / Old home for Mr. Met / Mel Torme's nickname / Ex-Yankee All-Star Martinez / Muzzle-loading tool / Perpendicular to keel

Monday, September 24, 2012

Constructor: John Dunn

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: VAPOR TRAILS (59A: What airplanes leave in the sky ... or what 17-, 23-, 37- and 48-Across have?) — theme answers end with synonyms for "vapor"
  • PICK UP STEAM (17A: Gather momentum)
  • THE VELVET FOG (23A: Mel Tormé's nickname)
  • "GET OFF OF MY CLOUD" (37A: Rolling Stones hit whose title follows the words "Hey you")
  • STEP ON THE GAS (48A: "Hurry up!")

Word of the Day: POLITY (26A: System of government) —
n., pl., -ties.
  1. The form of government of a nation, state, church, or organization.
  2. An organized society, such as a nation, having a specific form of government: "His alien philosophy found no roots in the American polity" (New York Times).
[Obsolete French politie, from Old French, from Late Latin polītīa, the Roman government. See police.]

Read more:
• • •

Mostly very easy, which is no surprise on a Monday. I had to solve on the applet at the Times' site because (once again) the link to download the puzzle was broken at the time the puzzle was supposed to come out. This happens with a surprising amount of frequency, and should be embarrassing to an organization charging so much of its puzzle (compared to any other outlet) while continuing to pay constructors so little (in relation to the money that's ultimately made off their work). But I got my puzzle eventually, so it's not like they killed my dog or anything, so I'll stop complaining about their incompetence now. The puzzle is a very straightforward "last words"-type puzzle, with an interesting revealer, which was surely the inspiration for the whole puzzle. The only wonky thing about the answers is that all the vapors are well and truly vapors (however metaphorically employed) *except* gas, which, in the answer STEP ON THE GAS, is a liquid, not a vapor. No big deal. Just an anomaly.

Got slightly stuck in the mud a couple of times right at the beginning. CASINO wasn't an instant gimme for me, so I had to work crosses, and even when I got CASINO, I had all kinds of trouble seeing NAUGHT (5D: Nothing). I needed 3 or 4 letters before the answer became evident (I was secretly happy to see my wife have the same problem later in the evening). The word POLITY was somewhat unexpected on a Monday, and I didn't trust that it was right at first. Tried to confirm the "P" but nothing seemed to fit for 26D: One of 15, 490 in the first edition of the O.E.D., first because I figured the answer was some form of "definition" (even though that number is, in retrospect, very low for "definition" to fit), and second because I figured the answer was an abbrev. (O.E.D. in the clue seemed to signal that). PAGE is obvious in retrospect, but not so much as I was solving (very quickly). But once I got off the west coast of this puzzle, every answer went down pretty much as quickly as I could read the clues, and so my time was still pretty swift, even for a Monday.

  • 54A: Perpendicular to the keel (ABEAM) — the A-BEAM's connected to the ... H-BOMB, the H-BOMB's connected to the ...
  • 23D: Ex-Yankee All-Star Martinez (TINO) — my first instinct is *always* TITO. It just seems more ... namelike than TINO.
  • 28D: Daydreamer encountered by Odysseus (LOTUS-EATER) — they're usually plural.
  • 47D: Muzzle-loading tool (RAMROD) — "Tool" made me laugh. Really wanted answer to be "Revolutionary War reenactor."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Williard 12:12 AM  

Hey, just because I like to pretend that my ancestors were Revolutionary War vetarans rather than polygamists exiled to Mexico, that doesn't make my participating in Revolutionary War re-enactmets "toolish". Other things, maybe, but not that.

JFC 12:13 AM  

Rex, it seems to me that your charge is critiquing the puzzle, not the technical issues of the NYT. It sounds like sour grapes and is not becoming, especially for someone of your stature.

That said, I still love you.

As for the puzzle, it's ok for a Monday. What can I say? It's a Monday and it's clean and neat and Monday.

PS. At least it's not like yesterday's that left me cold and asking myself why I went beyond 1A....


Tobias Duncan 12:14 AM  

This was medium challenging for me, almost a Tuesday time.

Got a call from a friend this weekend who had just gotten around to doing an ACME puzzle I printed out for her the last time Andrea had one out. She was so excited telling me in great detail about how such and such was crossing such and such and on and on. I could not even remember the puzzle but did not have the heart to tell her.
She definitely caught the bug.
Thanks Andrea!

Anonymous 12:38 AM  

Except that fog and clouds aren't vapor. Steam is vapor. Planes do in fact leave vapor trails. In the picture Rex provided, the vapor trail is the clear blue area behind the plane but in front of the white condensation trails.

Anonymous 1:06 AM  

Fog is a vapor...according to the dictionary. Gas clearly is not.
Rex can criticize anyone and anything at anytime ... it's his blog.

jae 1:39 AM  

Very nice Mon.  Easy for me.  Clean grid, zippy theme (for a Mon.), I liked it.

POLITY was new for me too and crossing TINO may be a problem for the sports averse.

arenas casino myclouds 1:49 AM  

@Hey, Tobias, thank you! What a joy to read a story like that, till I got to the part that you couldn't remember my puzzle at all!
HA! What a way to keep me grounded! ;)

As for today, really nice, but I thought on the pretty hard side tho...
maybe bec I had ParITY instead of PolITY...which led to AONE, not ONEA. Damn!
ONEA vs AONE...Most eligible to be drafted for a steak topping?

Also Veer for VARY wreaked a bit of havoc.

(Jay Roach just won some Emmy for producing "Game Change" and I swear it's @dk up there!!!! Doppelganger!)

Lots of stuff to like: ENDOFSTORY, OSPREY, LOTUSEATER.

Plus just realized where RAMROD got its name... Ramrod, Nimrod, Arod, Spare the rod. I feel a puzzle coming on. No, not really.

THEVELVETFOG is super hard, I think for a Monday, as most folks under 50 probably wouldn't even know who Mel Torme is...let alone his nickname!!!!

My mom once did one of those "Didn't you used to be Mel Torme?" to him in line somewhere and that was even back in 1973!!!

But bec I love "Hey YOU, GET OFF OF MY CLOUD" tripping the light fantastic across the puzzle, I have to give this puzzle a big hug!!!

Anoa Bob 2:23 AM  

LOTUS EATER in a Monday puzzle? Loved that.

Lots of OSPREYs around here. Even though they are called "fish hawks" (and correctly clued), I believe they are actually eagles. You don't want one roosting on the top of your sailboat mast overnight, believe me.

I think of STEAM, FOG, CLOUD and VAPOR as liguids that have been atomized into aerosols, whereas GAS is, well, a gas. Otherwise, a solid puzzle.

chefwen 3:07 AM  

Easy puzzle for me, not so for the 22 year old who just rented our studio apt.
He decided to get into puzzles so I printed out a copy for him. Never heard of Mel Torme (Fil's look alike)so I started quizzing him. Never heard of Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, etc.
We have a lot of old movies to watch. On the other hand the guy knows so much more about technology than I can even dream about, we will both learn much. (Plus - he loves my cooking.) Smart lad!

chefwen 3:23 AM  

@JFC -Just read the late comments from yesterday. Of course I am interested in all you have to say about the games. I am primed for tomorrow and will be making Packer Dip for the festivities, it's best with Maui potato chips. 22 year old will join us for the game, I have alerted him as to the addictiveness of the dip. He's excited!

Loren Muse Smith 6:00 AM  

This was pretty hard for me for a Monday. I was certain last night that I dnf because of POLITY. Huh. Learn something every day. Of course TAPIR was my TOE hold. Right.

ARENAS next to SHEA! TIARA next to TAM! STEP ON THE GAS crossing TEMPO! And the aero-SE with WINGS, SSTS crossing VAPOR TRAILS. Nice!

I grew up saying I “stumped” my TOE, and it always makes my husband mad that I don’t say “stubbed.”

I didn’t know a HORNET was a kind of wasp. Bet there’s some kind of ADAGE about giving them a wide berth, lest some would have to pull out their EPI pins.

Thanks, John. I liked this theme a lot.

Zwhatever 7:04 AM  

Yep - fairly crunchy for a Monday. NAUGHT, OSPREY, and POLITY in the NW are nice words.

The Stones (old) and Mel Tormé (older) singing along while I read Jean AUEL (old), AGATHA Christie (older), Oliver Twist (still older), and The Odyssey (lots older) makes me feel PRIM as I sit here with FIDO wearing my TAM and ARGYLE sweater eating my GRUEL. I can see where the under 50 crowd might have a tougher than usual Monday.

Evan 7:18 AM  

The theme revealer provided me with an extra layer of funny today because it reminded me of one of the lines in this hilarious Dr. Tran cartoon: "Leland does love his VAPOR TRAILS!"

(Warning: That video is heavy on the cartoon violence and offensive jokes, so proceed with caution if you're not into that brand of humor.)

And POLITY was actually a gimme for me -- well, not exactly a gimme as it was one of the last answers I saw and I had most of the crosses anyhow, but I had no doubt about it when I filled it in. That's what happens when you see that word over and over while reading several books in a 19th-20th century U.S. political history class for the past month.

Milford 7:18 AM  

Medium Monday for me, due to that TINO, POLITY, ANON intersect. Thought, like @lms, that I might DNF on a Monday! TAPIR was another unknown. And AUEL.

AGATHA Christie's "Ten Little Indians" was just on last night, maybe on TCM?

I sensed that there was something scientifically unsound about all the theme answers being VAPORs, but the addition of TRAILS to show they all ended the phrases was a lovely bonus, so I think that makes up for it by far.

I think I'll be singing Hey (hey) You (you), GET OFF OF MY CLOUD the rest of the day. Or maybe, Steve Miller's "Jet Airliner".

C. Ross Word 7:33 AM  

Interesting, Tuesday-ish puzzle. Needed more crosses to finish than usual for a Monday. Only momentary hesitation was the TAPIR ABEAM cross: thought iBEAM, uBEAM (?) before settling on A. Interesting O.E.D. factoid. Know Mel Torme but not his nickname. Note to Rex: please say hi to your pals Rover and Fido for me.

Fun Monday!

John V 7:39 AM  

A good Monday, good theme. What @Rex said about NAUGHT, which I liked. VAPORTRAILS is what my pencil made solving this one ; very easy, at LGA C38.

Evan 7:40 AM  

@acme and @Z:

While I appreciate the concern, you can add me as one of the (well)-under-50 solvers who a) knows who Mel Tormé was and b) knows that his nickname was The VELVET FOG. How could I forget that after watching the classic Seinfeld episode where Tormé mistook Kramer for an Able Mentally Challenged adult?

Don't feel bad for me 'cause I'm young. Just try to keep up with my knowledge, son!

(Man, I hope I can still say that when I'm 50.)

Micki 7:55 AM  

My knowledge of Mel Torme comes entirely from Night Court

Sue McC 8:11 AM  

Super fun and easy for me. Felt like I finished in a flash. Especially loved THEVELVETFOG... Singers today don't have groovy nicknames like that.

Zwhatever 8:22 AM  

@Evan - Not a concern, just an observation. Was it a tougher than usual Monday for you?

optionsgeek 8:37 AM  

While automotive GASoline is stored in liquid form, it is mixed with air and turned into a VAPOR before it is injected into the cylinder and ignited. I'd say the vapor reference holds up.

chefbea 9:06 AM  

Easy fun Monday. I of course am old enough to know the velvet fog.

I love pesto but we seem to be getting a lot of it lately. And didn't we have lotus eater recently??

Evan 9:09 AM  


Nope. The puzzle was on my easy side for a Monday. The only place I hesitated was when I didn't know if 17-Across would be PICK UP STEAM or PICK UP SPEED.

jackj 9:12 AM  

“The fog comes in on little cat feet” and when I walk that cat back to the 3/11/12 John Dunn/Vic Fleming Sunday Titanic puzzle I find a relevant part of my comment on Rexworld that day was:

“Vic and John still paid great attention to the surrounding fill, giving us such cleverness as “Kind of trail” for VAPOR”

Today, Mr. Dunn nicely expands on his earlier cleverness and I get to recycle my comment. Now that may not constitute puzzle synergy or a crossword “marriage” but it does at least seem efficient for each of us.

I’m glad John expanded on his fascination with contrails, his theme is deucedly clever and deserves the ultimate British accolade, “Well played, old son!”

While developing today’s theme, John still paid great attention to the surrounding fill, giving us such cleverness as “System of government” for POLITY.

Please excuse the gentle twitting John, I really did enjoy your latest contribution.

Kevin 9:17 AM  

I really expected more commententary about the obscure fill in this Monday puzzle. AUEL and MDSE right next to each other were very cringe-worthy for me. TAPIR crossed with the non-Monday clue for PRIM also slowed me down.

OldCarFudd 9:20 AM  

Steam, on the other hand, is not a vapor. It's the gaseous sate of water. What we mix our drinks with is its liquid form, and what we put in those drinks to cool them is its solid form. What you see above a boiling kettle isn't steam; steam is invisible.

I'll quit nit-picking now.

Z 9:25 AM  

@Evan- you are either especially smart or AARP precocious.

orangeblossomspecial 9:32 AM  

Here are the Stones from 1967: GET OFF OF MY CLOUD'.

Lots of 23A Mel Torme on the web. His voice was soothing.

Lewis 9:33 AM  

Rex, you might stop complaining about the NYT incompetency, but I continue to celebrate it, as the results from last year's meta-puzzle by
PB continue to shine on the puzzle page, three weeks away from being up there an entire year. I'm looking forward to that anniversary!

Know of Mel Torme, never heard of his nickname but for me it was easily gotten from crosses. Even on Monday I like a little crunch.

JC66 9:50 AM  

@ optionsgeek

Also, think tear GAS, nerve GAS, mustard GAS, etc.

"The tear gas is launched in the form of grenades or aerosol cans so that the liquid becomes an aerosol."

Bob Kerfuffle 9:54 AM  

Decent Monday puzz, although as someone who worked many years in the chemical research area of the printing industry, I wanted to nit-pick that (4 D) "Toner, e.g." is not INK. But this is the kind of distinction that tends to get lost over time in the general language.

@Lewis - Did you here Will Shortz say on this Sunday's NPR puzzle segment that there will be another crossword-related contest toward the end of October?

Bob Kerfuffle 9:55 AM  

"here" being "hear"

quilter1 9:57 AM  

Love Mel Torme, THE VELVET FOG. Nice, easy Monday without too much crosswordese (ok, there was SSTS, but then we got HORNET), and the theme answers were fresh. Nice puzzle.

Sandy K 10:02 AM  

STEPped ON THE GAS and solved this puzzle in record time.


The chemical makeup meant NAUGHT to me. I liked VAPOR TRAILS.


retired_chemist 10:15 AM  

This chemist has no problem with the theme and the states of matter involved. It's a puzzle, not a freshman chem quiz. Note that Rex just mentioned it, without a serious pan such as we all know he is capable of.

Was 43A They may need refining (ORES) a holdover from yesterday's theme?

Thanks, Mr. Dunn.

Carola 10:24 AM  

Nice Monday! Creative theme and much more to like, too - NAUGHT, OSPREY, GRUEL, POLITY - with various spots keeping me guessing for the "just right" amount of time. Favorite next-door-neighbor pair: SHELL PEA (as opposed to a snap pea)).

@chefwen - Wait, Packer Dip? Can you divulge the ingredients? No Maui-style chips here, alas.

@loren - VARY nice on the EPI-pen and the HORNET! I do try to give those WINGed beasts a wide berth, as the last sting sent me to the ER. Epi-pen now always at hand.

@orangeblossomspecial - I was looking for you to come through with something by Mel Torme :) Thanks for that delightful selection - even featuring CLOUDs!

@chefbea - Same thought here on the PESTO and LOTUS EATER.

Thank you, John Dunn - liked it a lot.

Carola 10:31 AM  

@retired chemist -
You are NAUGHTy! (There are also the AVES, but no ave-nots.)

Evan 10:34 AM  


Let's go with both. I'm going to be historian, after all!

joho 10:40 AM  

Loved the fresh reveal and GETOFFOFMYCLOUD made the puzzle for me.

Super fun Monday, thank you, John!

Sharon 10:43 AM  

I thought of Syd Straw, too!

DBGeezer 10:47 AM  

@ACME, I look for your entries each time I read this blog. I admire you greatly, because you have and demonstrate a loving and accepting heart for all people. I enjoy reading your entires in contrast to many others who are (often with real justification) negative and critical. Thanks Ably Competent Marvelous Example.

GILL I. 10:48 AM  

Food and animals and add some greenhouse emittance - what's not to love?

DBGeezer 10:48 AM  

Entires will do, but I meant entries :-)

Two Ponies 10:53 AM  

Nice theme and fill with some zip.
What more can we ask from a Mon.
Thanks Mr. Dunn.

jberg 11:03 AM  

Pretty easy, even after picking up SpEed at first - but ESTEE Lauder kindly fixed my error, and the rest was a GAS to solve.

I can't agree with all the complaints about old cultural knowledge - come on, you young'uns, let yourselves learn something! You can find it all on Youtube.

As has been said already, it's Rex's blog - up to him to define what his task is, up to us to decide whether to read it.

Milford 11:10 AM  

@retired chemist - good one with the 43A - definitely a valid clue from yesterday!

@jackj - thank you for the Fog poem reference - little cat feet made me smile. My dad's family was neighbors with the Sandburg family when they lived in Harbert, MI in the 1940s.

mac 11:25 AM  

Very nice Monday puzzle, but I also tried to pick up "speed" until Estee set me straight.

I only know Mel Torme and his nickname from puzzles. When I asked my husband if he know him, he thought he was callen the Mellow Fellow!

It seems as if there are a lot of things in this one that we've seen in the last few days: the Fido/Fifi conundrum, Lotuseater, pesto, oneA.

No matter, I had a lot of fun.

A gale in coastal Holland!

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

NED Beatty was in the film Rudy which has a character ARA Parseghian

chefbea 12:01 PM  

@chefwen..I'd like the packer dip also

Chef Distasteful 12:07 PM  

Packer dip is just melted Velveta.

chefbea 12:41 PM  


ArtO 12:51 PM  

Nice to find "The Velvet Fog" in the puzzle and not just on Jonathan Schwartz radio broadcasts. Not much singing in that vein these days.

Acme 1:31 PM  

I took SSTS to be intentional and a bonus nod to the theme!

Thank you @DBGeezer! Ii will now finally get out of bed, with open heart intact! (Tho maybe not for "all" people! ;))

(By the way ENTIRES is good in Scrabble, odd as that is.)

Agree about AUEL next to MDSE, perhaps that area could've been reworked to make more Monday friendly...and come to think of it I don't know what a TAPIR is either, would've thought a kind of monkey before rhino!

Love the comment about groovy nicknames! Maybe it's because nowadays his/her name is Already a groovy nickname, like Heavy D or, ahem, Ghostfacekilla or Skrillex.
Am i right MC Sue?

Evan 1:34 PM  

Last comment from me, then I'll shut up.


Let's leave aside the irony that I said I could be both "especially smart" and "AARP precocious" because "I'm going to be historian," when I should have said, "I'm going to be a historian." I never said I was especially smart all of the time!

Bird 1:56 PM  

Nice puzzle Mr. Dunn; thank you. This one was easy for me, if only because we recently had a puzzle with 28D in it. Otherwise it might have taken longer to get at 26A.

One do-over at 17A as I had PICK UP SPEED.

I’m under 50 and know who Mel Tormé is - I was introduced to him by watching Harry Anderson playing the role of Judge Harry Stone on the show Night Court. Judge Stone loved magic and worshipped Mel Tormé.

Did not know AUEL, but crosses were easy.

Gas is short for gasoline, which is a liquid. However, gas is a synonym of vapor so technically the puzzle has no anomalies.

Speaking of earworms . . . I now have “Leaving On A Jet Plane”. Ugh.


Masked and Anonymo4Us 2:36 PM  

Kinda liked POLITY. Even in a MonPuz, it's nice to learn at least one new thing. Plus, the puz gave us GAS, so it had that goin' for it, too. thUmbsUp.

Lewis 3:00 PM  

@bob -- hadn't heard that. I guess these results will be replaced by the results of that one. Still that will mean that these results were up for an entire year. PB is very good, but he isn't THAT good!

@bird -- Harry is alive and well and living in Asheville, a neighbor of mine, down to earth and funny as ever.

Bird 3:10 PM  

@Lewis - Good to hear. Night Court was a great show.

sanfranman59 3:55 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)

Mon 6:06, 6:48, 0.90, 13%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:40, 3:41, 1.00, 52%, Medium

ksquare 4:08 PM  

GAS isn't a true synonym for VAPOR. Technically, gases are invisible and steam et. al. are droplets of condensed water. As an invisible gas in the air, water is measured as relative humidity.

Zwhatever 4:20 PM  

@Evan - I always read my posts before attempting the captcha and I still experience that "doh" moment of seeing my error only after it appears in the comments. Delete and repost? Add a comment showing that I caught my mistake? Naaaah - Just ignore it and see if anyone calls me on it. Or maybe just do some permutations for their own enjoyment... "a historian or an 'istorian?" "historical?" "hysterical?" Oh the possibilities.

Common Man 4:21 PM  

For the common man, GAS, VAPOR, STEAM, FOG and CLOUD are all synonyms.

You know . . .

gaseous vapor
vaporized into a cloud of gas

From Roget's Thesaurus . . .
synonyms for vapor include breath, condensation, dampness, dew, effluvium, exhalation, fog, gas, haze, miasma, moisture, reek, smog, smoke and steam

Old Grammarian 4:35 PM  

@Z and Evan -- a or an historian ?

Anonymous 4:44 PM  

Speaking of groovy nicknames-

Bruce Springsteen "The Boss"
Ozzy Osbourne "Prince of Darkness"
Michael Jackson "King of Pop"

And those "singers" and rappers who already have nicknames-

Pink, Lady Gaga, Gotye, Jay-Z, Nas, Lil Kim, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Queen Latifah, 50 Cent, Snoop Dog, Diddy, Lana Del Rey, and the list goes on...

Good ol' Mel Torme!

John V 4:45 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
John V 4:48 PM  

What we seem to have today is a Classical Gas

retired_chemist 4:50 PM  

I learned something here by going to my Dashboard Dictionary. GAS apparently is used to mean a gaseous substance above its critical point, which means it cannot be condensed by pressure alone. VAPOR means a gaseous substance which is below its critical point and thus CAN be condensed by pressure alone. Who would have thunk? All these years I have used them synonymously.

Sue McC 4:50 PM  

True dat. Word to your muthah.

chefwen 6:12 PM  

@Carola & @chefbea - 1 8oz brick Philly cream cheese softened whipped together with approx 2-3 oz sour cream, garlic powder (not salt) to taste, I tend to go a little heavy on the garlic. Mix in one small diced onion and dig in. I know it sounds super simple but, believe me, it's good!

What's a ghinabo? Capchas are getting silly.

Sandy K 6:21 PM  

@John V

Love Classical Gas! Check out YouTube video of Mason Williams performing it live on the Smothers Brothers Reunion Show.

Mason Williams Classical Gas 1988

Sorry, don't know how to embed...

Unknown 8:17 PM  

Fresh, zippy puzzle. Loved GETOFFOFMYCLOUD and also noted the cross between TEMPO and STEPONTHEGAS. Agreed that "gas" doesn't necessarily match up with "vapor" but that's certainly forgiveable. It went fast for me - close to a record for a Monday.

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 6:12, 6:48, 0.91, 15%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:37, 3:41, 0.98, 44%, Medium

rain forest 12:22 AM  

@retired_chemist, and others: the phrase step on the gas, which means to hurry it up, or possibly to floor it, is an automotive reference. Getting technical, when gasoline enters the combustion chamber of a car engine, it is indeed a vapour (Canadian spelling), which it must be in order to explode with the admixture of air under compression. Just so eveyone knows that the puzzle answer is, in effect, correct. Oh, I'm felling an attack of the vapours!

Spacecraft 11:18 AM  

Diff'rent folks...@Evan sees POLITY as a gimme; I never heard of it. Forced in on crosses. This was the only non-easy part of the puzz--but for writing in PICKUPSpeed before encountering the theme. That is a much more common phrase than "PICKUPSTEAM," which you just don't hear. It's speed or the pace that you want your foot-dragging friend to "pick up."

Otherwise an easy solve, very Monday-ne. Fill "cheats" like ESTEE and SSTS mar a pretty "solid" effort.

I am a Stones fan of the first water, but the central tune is my very LEAST favorite of all. The melody is childishly dumb, and it seems to me they didn't hold a very good beat--a Stones anomaly, I hasten to add.

In syndiland today is Batten-down-for-Sandy day. Please, all you east-coasters, stay in and get high! Wait, that didn't come out right. Be safe and good luck!

DMGrandma 2:11 PM  

Needed a puzzle like this after yesterday's syndicated Sunday, which I didn't even try to finish. Just about filled this one In from the top,the only ? word being POLITY, but it rang some kind of a dim bell,so I left it. Odd thing about a puzzle like this is coming here to find people debating about words I never saw in passing. That's a good thing because I could never have guessed 37A.

Join@Spacecraft in hoping the East Coast survives Sandy safely. I have lived in hurricane country and know from experience how awful they can be. Fingers crossed for you.

Ginger 4:19 PM  

Loved this puzzle; Multi-layered, crunchy and original. It did seem to skew toward the over 50 crowd, @Evan not withstanding. Mel Torme is an old favorite, and VELVETFOG really fits his smooooooth voice. Same write overs as others at PICKUPSpEed. Never heard of POLITY, but it sounds right, and fit the crosses.

Our (west coast) news stations are full of monster storm Sandy, and I'd like to add my concerns to our solving friends in her path. @Diri in Maine. stay warm, stay dry, and STAY SAFE!

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