Extract with solvent / TUE 9-18-12 / Rock legend Jimmy / Long-running PBS film showcase / Signs of deep sleep on an electroencephalogram / Old Spice alternative / Aztecan language / 88 98 carwise

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Constructor: Andrew Reynolds

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN BY LED ZEPPELIN — circled squares, which ascend (like a stairway) from SW to NE corner, spell out this phrase. A few other Led Zeppelin answers are thrown in here and there:

PAGE (1A: Rock legend Jimmy)
GUITAR SOLO (3D: Standout performance for 1-Across)
JOHN BONHAM (29D: Bandmate of 1-Across)

Word of the Day: JOHN BONHAM —
John Henry Bonham (31 May 1948 – 25 September 1980) was an English musician and songwriter, best known as the drummer of Led Zeppelin. Bonham was esteemed for his speed, power, fast right foot, distinctive sound, and "feel" for the groove.[1] He is widely considered to be one of the greatest drummers in the history of rock music.[2][3][4][5] Over 30 years after his death, Bonham continues to garner awards and praise, including a Rolling Stone readers' pick in 2011 placing him in first place of the magazine's "best drummers of all time" (wikipedia)
• • •

This is what I'd call a Fortuitous Discovery type of puzzle. Constructor realizes that some answer or phrase or name fits perfectly into some apt visual scheme, and voila, a theme is born. Problem is that once you've made the Fortuitous Discovery, you've gotta build a decent puzzle around it. Or you don't. Whatever. You should, anyway. I think the Fortuitous Discovery is impressive—amazing that the staircase thing works out, corner to corner. The remaining theme answers (not to mention the quality of the fill) => less impressive. Long theme answers are cross-referenced back to PAGE at 1-Across, as if he were the subject of the puzzle, but he doesn't even get his whole name in (and doesn't have a symmetrical companion answer either). JOHN BONHAM's inclusion here is totally arbitrary, based on the Unfortuitous Discovery that ROBERT PLANT (the face/voice of the damn band) just won't fit into the scheme of things. So the Fortuitous Discovery is all there is, and it's pretty epic, so OK. But as a piece of puzzle construction, this puzzle is pretty wobbly. Density of the theme also creates a crosswordese ripple effect over the entire grid. When I went ELUTE into ESTOP, I had to stop and take a deep breath—get the wind back in my sails (wind = will to go on). UTO EDO ALETA NIK GNAR ALY ESTO STE TAI RIT SITU etc. are a lot to take in a 78-worder (or any puzzle). I actually really like the other long answers (though I had never heard of DELTA WAVES; 41A: Signs of deep sleep on an electroencephalogram). If TED KOPPEL were NORWEGIAN, I'd have to change my rating to a strong thumbs-up. But as is, this is a B-. That's on the positive side, but just barely.

Only real hold-up happened when I put in TREED for AT BAY (53A: Cornered, as a wild animal). Then I wrote in TRIO (!?) for 53D: Small marching band? (ANTS). Didn't take that long to extricate myself, but an error pile-up like that is always a time-killer. Probably a 20- to 30-second mistake, which is fairly major on a Tuesday. I also slowed a bit when I couldn't recover the aftershave AFTA (another crosswordesey answer) (5D: Old Spice alternative). Brain got stuck on ATRA. Then there was the DELTA part of DELTA WAVES, which took some hammering away to get. Nearly wrote GRRR before I remembered the existence (in crosswords, anyway) of the word GNAR (44A: Growl). I don't think the clue on "P.O.V." is very Tuesdayish (feels harder) (26A: Long-running PBS film showcase), though it's not like it slowed me down much.

ISAAC STERN has to wonder what the hell he's doing in this puzzle (30D: Polish-born violin master). Wrong GENRE (31D: Category).

Thanks to Finn for filling in for me yesterday. He did a fine job on very short notice. I had a MINCEMEAT puzzle rejected by Will a couple years back, so I just recused myself from that particular write-up. No hard feelings, just ... potential conflict of interest.

Good day,

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Tobias Duncan 12:10 AM  

Whenever Rex admits to not knowing something that I happen to know, it always seems to be either sciency or blue collary.

Anonymous 12:12 AM  

Around here, the Old Spice alternative is just washing your face.

Andrew Reynolds 12:16 AM  

Totally fair assessment of my puzzle, Rex. Junk short fill made me uneasy, but as you said, when the discovery was made I felt I had to submit it. The omission of Plant also bothered me, but when no two members of the band have names of the same length, I decided Bonham (deceased) was the name to pay respects to.

jae 12:23 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 12:24 AM  

Pretty impressive zippy Tues. theme.  And yet, a  medium for me and I'm not a LZ fan (JOHNBONHAM? if you say so,  Robert Plant and Jimmy PAGE I've heard of).

Erasures: ado for DIN, her for SHE,  and me too treed before  ATBAY.

I liked it!

GILL I. 12:26 AM  

I'll start by saying that I really, really enjoyed this puzzle. Having said that, I didn't think that this was close to being a Tuesday Puzzle. There were too many proper names for my taste and words that seemed to belong in a Wed./Thur. ELUTE, DELTA WAVES (which I loved) TAI and POV come to mind. Then there was Prince Valiant's wife name... ALETA - really? I can hardly remember his son's name.
After I was done, I saw the latter up to HEAVEN, sat back, took another sip of wine and thought WOW. Shades of Liz Gorski - pretty gutsy, and very different.
Kudos, Andrew Reynolds

Rube 2:09 AM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle. Of course any puzzle with Li'l ABNER in it has got to be great. ELUTE is in my crosswordese vocabulary, but on a Tuesday?

DELTAWAVES, sounds like something Star Trek's Scotty would say... "Delta Waves are making the warp drives unstable, Captain, we need more dilithium!"

Knew ISAACSTERN, but the other guys I had to get from crosses, as usual.

Arn and ALETA are easy for us oldies. How about something more tricky like Valeta and Karen, his twin daughters.

chefwen 2:27 AM  

Thought of you right away @Rube with 28D.

Love circles and drawing on my puzzles, I had to highlight my staircase.

SIL's name is ALidA so I always remember the close ALETA.

DELTA WAVES - crosses came to the rescue, ado before DIN at 10A, easily fixed. Needed a little outside help with my last letter, the V in VITAE/POV crossing, both unknown to me.
Learned something new.

Thanks Andrew Reynolds, fun puzzle.

Eejit 3:36 AM  

I can't possibly complain about a puzzle containing Jimmy Page and John Bonham. My favourite drummer ever (along with Ian Paice). Him and Bon Scott were the only musicians I ever I cried over when they died, although I was a teenager then. Stairway isn't my favorite though. Put In My Time of Dying in there and I'd really be impressed, but it did have DIE, so that's somewhat related I guess.

Alias Cacti Moes 3:37 AM  

Wow, way cool!!!!!
Hand up for JOHNBONHAM being a big ?!?
Tried to fit in JO(h)NBONjovi.

See what I mean about serendipity of name lengths? It rarely happens in real life, yet no reason not to create! Creativity should trump perfection.

I would advise everyone to look at that STAIRCASETOHEAVEN at least twenty times to appreciate it.

May be a fair assessment, but it seems to me that the majority of constructors get routinely dismissed and have gotten defensive for things we should be crazily proud of. So much joy is being trampled on. I don't think you owe any excuses for this marvelous puzzle.

Because of GUITARSOLO and DEBUTANTE I'd say, re: shorter fill to LETITPASS.

jae 4:14 AM  

@Andrea -- Amen! It's almost impossible to find a themed puzzle where someone can't reel off a string of "junk" fill. It's the gestalt that counts, and @Andrew this one was a stellar Tues.!

Zwhatever 6:47 AM  

In the dead tree version the STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN BY LED ZEPPELIN is a beautiful gray path slicing through the middle of the puzzle. I solved the NE first, got down to ABNER and WIN BY A NOSE and saw it. Plopped in JOHN BONHAM, PAGE, and the rest of the STAIRWAY and said, "I love it."

Theme Density? Not in the usual places, but it is pretty dense, a 4, two 10's and a 30 letter theme answer. Long non-theme answers are fresh - TED KOPPEL, LET IT PASS, WIN BY A NOSE, NORWEGIAN, and a DEBUTANTE with her TATAS.

ELUTE and ALETA are not in crosswordese database, yet, but everything else seems fair enough. No OLAF/V, no RRN or RCD, so the short fill barely bothered me. I give it a B+, with extra credit for not being the normally terrible Tuesday puzzle, so "A."


Milford 6:53 AM  

I'm not kidding - two hours before solving this puzzle my husband and I were cleaning up from dinner and listening to Pandora when "Whole Lotta Love" came on, forcing us to air drum and say for the umpteenth time that John Bonham was a genius.

So thank you, Andrew, for making such a timely (for me) Zeppelin puzzle! I'll admit, I was zipping around looking for my beloved Plant or a Jones, but that STAIRCASE was just wonderful. I'll also confess that I groaned at all those circles, thinking they were all going to be Ss or something, so the final visual was really lovely.

I loved DELTA WAVES, VITAE and NORWEGIAN, and loved the cluing for ACHES. I think my only real write over was GENus before GENRE.

ELUTE brought back memories of column chromatography in Organic Chem, which always sounded really cool, but I was horrible at in lab, probably because I was too impatient.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

Thank you Andrew!!!! LOVED it!!!

Glimmerglass 7:53 AM  

Nice puzzle, Mr. Reynolds. I'm glad you approve of Rex's review, but I liked it much better than he did. The stairway from SW to NE is really impressive, and the fill to accomplish that is astonishingly good. It was an easy puzzle, which is always disappointing to me, but I was in awe of the construction. I'm not a Led Zep fan and didn't know the band members (I'm too old to know that stuff), but both names (and all but the G in GUITAR SOLO) were available from crosses.

John V 7:54 AM  

Great theme, making for a different Tuesday look. I'm totally okay with some of the less than wonderful fill, none of which -- save ALETA -- was tricky; even ELUTE was fairly crossed.

Congrats, Andrew, on your debut!

There is a pretty clear pattern in early week puzzles of late: interesting themes trump fill, by a wide margin. Its a freakin' miracle to make that SW corner work with the theme constraints as they are, so TAI/STE/TOAT are forgiven.

dk 8:10 AM  

🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 stars) Way to go Mr. R.

Now on to a boring story: Led Zep 2 had just been released and my GF and I decided to to get really small (see Steve Martin old SNL skits for details) and go to the War Memorial auditorium in Syracuse NY.

Suffice to say we had trouble crossing the street (how we drove there I will never understand) . We eventually found our seats and proceeded to have the time of our lives watching skinny English guys electronically alter instruments and creating colorful arrays within our chemically altered brains.

The area in which we were seated took on the aroma of a bars in certain parts of Zurich. That added the fun with a capital PH. How we got home I do not know. I think I drove (sorta)

My only complaint is that the albums after LZ2 seemed to fall flat. But that concert was one of the high points (pun intended) of whatever year it was in the late 60's. Andrew thanks for the trip (another pun) down memory lane.

dk 8:12 AM  

sorry for the errors in paragraph 3. Still jet lagged,

joho 8:30 AM  

Contructing an actual staircase to heaven using those very same letters is a feat that's close to a miracle! Plus I've seen puzzles with much worse, arcane fill without having to deal with any visual device. So, bravo, Andrew!

I'm also happy to see that Will is open to accepting puzzles that aren't perfect or strictly by the rules. Yes, PAGE doesn't have a counterpart, but that wasn't a deal breaker here, thank goodness.

I was thinking "NORWEGIAN Woods" and substituted BE for PASS on LETITPASS ... so added some Beatles to the mix along with ISAACSTERN'S violin and PAGE's GUITARSOLO. There's also Johnny DEPP singing in the background. Too bad DELTAWAVES wasn't radioWAVES. All in all a very musical, interesting puzzle!

Sue McC 8:32 AM  

I enjoyed this one a lot....though my initial reaction after finishing was that I wish there were more theme answers. Then I looked again and, as ACM did, I realized the huge amount of real estate that STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN BY LED ZEPPELIN occupies. Wowzers. Well done!

Sir Hillary 8:40 AM  

Great band, great song...great discovery by Andrew Reynolds. Would have been amazing if PAGE, PLANT, JONES and BONHAM could have been accommodated somehow, but I am guessing that Andrew tried that. Still, good fun, and appropriate Tuesday fare.

RIP Bonzo. No one ever hit the skins with such power.

Jesus 8:41 AM  

The graphic is wrong, just plain wrong. It should be a spiral, starting at the outside, ending on the inside, as the Kingdom of Heavin is within you.

orangeblossomspecial 8:49 AM  

I connect with ELUTE because there is a category of stents - drug eluting stents - that release anticoagulants at the site.

jackj 9:04 AM  

For better or worse, rock music in the 60’s and 70’s was not part of my life and while I am familiar with the name of the group, I cannot recall ever hearing the song featured in the puzzle (nor do the names Jimmy PAGE or JOHNBONHAM ring a bell).

(Now that I think on it, the only hard-driving guitar player I can recall at all is Duane Eddy and I remember him mainly because I bought a house from him back in the day and was impressed that he made the extra effort to come by and wish me well in the home he had loved).

Nevertheless, this was a breeze to solve and ignorance turned out to be bliss indeed for completing the puzzle and despite my lack of a degree from the College of Musical Knowledge (or Julliard or Berklee), nothing could prevent me from being in total awe of Andrew Reynolds triumphant debut!

I can’t begin to imagine the logistical nightmare Andrew faced in creating this puzzle, being mindful that after filling in the reveal with the Busby Berkeley-ish dancing STAIRWAY, every row in the puzzle was affected and the grid and especially the fill also had to comply with NY Times crossword standards, vague though they may be, if an acceptable puzzle was to be the result.

But he did it and a star is born!

My only complaint is this should have run on a Thursday, when some of the more arcane entries would have been better tolerated, but when it ran is not a constructor’s choice and shouldn’t at all diminish the achievement.

Loren Muse Smith 9:07 AM  

I agree with Andrea et al that this construction feat is worth some of the meh fill. In fact, for me the staircase, the elegance of 1A, and the other theme answers eclipsed everything else. What if Andrew had had his STAIRWAY in place, saw that there was no symmetry for Jimmy PAGE, Robert Plant, and JOHN BOHNAM, shrugged, wadded up the paper, and called it a day. What a shame that would have been!!!

Easy, easy Tuesday with only one oops – this one’s for your Hall of Shame, Tita – off the SP, I had “Sprat” for SPADE thinking, “Wow, I never knew there were other verses.”

Thanks, Andrew. Congrats!

@Andrea – I got in late last night and didn’t get a chance to respond to your post on anagrams. I went back and posted my thoughts on navigating the waters of anagrams on yesterday’s site.

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

Sadly, I worked from the printed PDF and so didn't have the circles. It was an okay puzzle, a little lacking in theme, so a bit flat. Great to see what Rex had to say, and I then revised my opinion. Not flat! Fine Tuesday puzzle.

quilter1 9:33 AM  

My PDF printout had the shaded stairway but it didn't help me as I know nothing about the band, musicians or songs, so I got everything from crosses. Even then I couldn't see the stairway. Oh, well, I know ISAAC STERN, DELTA WAVES, and much more. I rate it easy despite my ignorance. Only write over was ado before DIN. I do appreciate the constructor's skill now that I understand the theme.

mac 9:41 AM  

When I opened the newspaper I thought the puzzle might have been made by Liz Gorski, too!

Quite a few things I never heard of but quite easily gettable with the crosses. Felt like a wednesday, though.

Beautiful find.

ArtO 9:43 AM  

Tough Tuesday for someone with total lack of 60's 70's rock. So, played like Wednesday for me.

Came here to discover theme. Totally brilliant! Hand up for kudos to Andrew despite the junky fill.

chefbea 9:43 AM  

Tough puzzle for me. Don't really know Led Zeppelin. I think my children would have known all this.

Also didn;t know elute, vitae or pov. Couldn't make sense of the gray squares. Hope tomorrow is better.

Suzy 9:50 AM  

Easy for me, for a change! All the junk aside, who cannarguenwith a Stairway to Heaven? And on
Tuesday, no less!

jberg 9:54 AM  

pandora trend going here - it played Stairway for me yesterday. That said, the puzzle was so easy (though my wife the biochemist had to confirm ELUTE for me) that I forgot to read the shaded squares when I was done. They make it a lot niftier - what a feat!

@Rex, your mincemeat puzzle met all the objections raised here to yesterday's - good thing you recused, or t wold have looked like sour grapes. Thanks for putting on Facebook.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:24 AM  

Wow! After my rather flippant suggestion yesterday, of a long, diagonal reveal (which I thought would never happen M - W), I opened to today's puzzle to find a grid-spanning double diagonal!

(As for the subject matter, when I looked at 1 A, Rock legend Jimmy, I thought there might be a rebus also, as the only name that came to mind was Hendrix. Had to fill in the grid a letter at a time, but I did appreciate the final result when it was done.)

More Tuesdays should be like this!

Two Ponies 10:50 AM  

Fantastic! And a debut?!
Despite my dislike of proper names, and there were more than plenty today, all is forgiven.
Discovering the theme was jaw-dropping. Thanks Andrew.

@dk, Welcome home. Thanks for the story. Not boring one bit. I know for a fact that we went to different schools together.

Campesite 10:59 AM  

Loved this puzzle! Just like the most recent lovely Sunday puzzle, this one *earned* its circles. 1A's 3D on this song is legendary, and the death of 29D profoundly shocked me and my friends in our early adolescence. Thank you Andrew Reynolds!

Sandy K 11:12 AM  

A very impressive-looking puzzle featuring the elegant STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN...

Yet, last Friday's BEATLES puzzle does WIN BY A NOSE- it had a GOOD DEAL more by including all the FAB FOUR. (despite no shaded picture of an apple, Abbey Road, Strawberry Field or NORWEGIAN wood)

Does 42D foreshadow a puzzle about The WHO?

Carola 11:18 AM  

I'm sure my response would be delight rather than (just) admiration if I'd heard of the rock legends. But for me, PAGE means FOLIO rather than GUITAR SOLO, and I needed ISAAC STERN to help me identify JOHN BONHAM. I have heard of the band and song, and the staircase climbing the grid is very, very neat.

Nice to see the DEBUTANTE get her full-word glory, also the DELTA WAVES and NORWEGIAN.

Surprised that we had to recall Prince Valiant's family on a Tuesday, but since there's also VALOR in the puzzle, I won't GNAR. New word for me: ELUTE. Do-over: ALIve before ALIAS.

@jackj -
Duane Eddy - that brings back memories: "Rebel-Rouser"! "Because They're Young"! Neat that you met him.

Thank you, Andrew. I enjoyed working this one out. Very nifty puzzle.

Mel Ott 11:31 AM  

While solving I was thinking this diagonal thingey better be pretty great to make up for all this 3-letter crap and proper name stacks. It wasn't great, at least not for me. Ok. Pretty good. But not great. Sorry.

syndy 11:47 AM  

very impressive and cool to look at puzzle! but Not so much for a solving experience.Tuesday's aren't noted for much anyway so I guess a pretty picture is all one can expect. ##

Masked and Anonymo3Us 11:54 AM  

Gotta whole lotta love for this puppy. thUmbsUp. A-. (Really need a plant in there, somehow, tho.) Impressive debut.

Non-synched themers wouldn't have been that much of a prob here, imo. Heck, with that staircase, they coulda even left out all the U's, and I'da lived over it.

Can even let ?ITAE/PO? go. POV=Point of View, evidently. Watch quite a bit PBS, but that one don't ring a bell.

miriam b 12:12 PM  

Neat! Surprisingly easy for me though I had to infer the pop references. ELUTE jumped right out at me, harking back to my pre-retireemnt days.

When one of my daughters turned 41, I phoned her and sang Delta Dawn to her. I don't have a trained voice, but I can carry a tune, and I prefer my rendition to Reddy and Campbell's. But what do I know - I'm not into pop music, as I mentioned.

On to the captcha.

Lindsay 12:19 PM  

Loathe Stairway to Heaven (which is now playing endlessly in my head --- GNAR), never heard of PAGE or BONHAM.

If we're doing geometry, would much prefer a Ring of Fire (q.v. Friday) gimmick. Now there's a tune.

Tita 12:44 PM  

Fabulous puzzle - what everyone else has said. Thanks Mr. Reynolds.

@Rex- funy observation about ISAACSTERN being the wrong GENRE...

mac, Sparky, JenCT - my friend Sheila that you met here had Isaac Stern as a client - she planned and tended his garden in New Milford.

@Loren - I shall update the Hall of Fame (Shame?) later today...good one! I also love your late post yesterday. Hand up for not lOving anagrams, but loving Scrabble and Bananagrams.

Mincemeat and Anagramous 12:45 PM  

"Stairway" was never a top-selling hit single, in its day. Probably because it was 8+ minutes long, and so Atlantic never put it out as a single, in its heyday.

Led Zeppelin changed their band's name from The New Yardbirds. Lucky break for today's puz, that they decided to do that.

Wonder if constructor tried for PLANT, PAGE, BONHAM, JONES in the puz, and she just wouldn't fly? That diagonal does suck up a lot of the fill possibilities in the room, I reckon. Hard to get these little 15-square grids to stand on their heads and spit nickels. An extra anagram of MEAT in today's grid would've sure been cool, tho...


notsofast 12:46 PM  

I'm old, so I liked this theme a lot! An easy fill, but a really nice reward at the end. What I always hope for on a Tuesday. Good work.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:42 PM  


Folks on this blog are so kind! (Or they just don't look at my posts?)

When I wrote that seeing "Rock star Jimmy" made me think of Hendrix, I wasn't joking. It was only as I was eating lunch today, puzzle safely out of mind, that it struck me that the fellow was "Jimi"!!!!

Carola 2:11 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle - Or, they read your post and think, "Me, too" - my first thought also was Hendrix. Seeing the 4 spaces for the answer, I briefly toyed with "rebus?" but that seemed too complicated, so I moved on. "Jimi" only clicked in later.

Ulrich 2:24 PM  

Although I have nothing new to add, I want to join those who congratulate AR for his memorable debut. I moved relatively fast down the west coast, and when I had reached the bottom, I tried to figure out what the staircase meant, saw the title, and moved up the steps, filling missing letters, and then words, as I came across them, ending, finally, in xword heaven.

treedweller 2:44 PM  

I can't believe so many people clam they never heard this song. It is probably the most overplayed rock tune ever. I loved it once, but now I cringe when I hear the opening. But, then, I have been a fan of all things led zep since jr high (after they had already split up). Unlike dk, my favorite albums came later. Depends on the day, but usually I'd pick III or Houses of the Holy as the best.

Aside: when people say "what everyone else said," in these comments, is that meant as a joke? Invariably, there are several conflicting opinions posted by the time this comment appears. Maybe they are only including a subset of the comments—their personal clique, as it were. Anyway, it bugs me. I'm sure you are all devastated to learn of my consternation. It's ok, I forgive you.

Loren Muse Smith 2:48 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle and Carola - I thought "Hendrix," too.

Below is a good clip of a man dancing to some Zeppelin. Kind of reminds me of Dad's dancing. Dad, I think you'd agree.


mac 3:13 PM  

Of course I thought of Hendrix too, but he was not Jimmy.

@treedweller: when you are a little late to the party, you've already read what you were planning to comment, and it becomes too tedious to mention all the names of the posters who had the same experience. I'm pretty sure no cliques are involved. LET IT PASS.

OISK 3:24 PM  

Never heard the song, or anything else by Zeppelin, nor of Jimmy Page, nor John Bonham, nor Nils Lofgren, nor the Abba song. Just an old (66) guy who never listened to rock of any kind. (if I could avoid it. Sometimes I had to walk out of wedding celebrations...) (didn't see the Beatle connection in Friday's puzzle until I visited this site). That many rock references in a single puzzle are an annoyance to me, though obviously a joy to others. However, I finished without any difficulty. Then I checked the grey diagonal to make sense of it. Although I prefer "Stairway to Paradise" (Gershwin) have to compliment Mr. Reynolds on a wonderfully inventive construction!

Tita 3:29 PM  

I resemble that remark! Since I am among those whom you have forgiven (thank you!), let me say this about that...
For me, it means "what the prevailing majority said". It is a sign of pure laziness (efficacy?) on my part.

It is also a way of avoiding pointless repetition. I worry mightily about boring everyone here to death - my posts can go on so... ;)

Oh - and I agree with what @mac said...

@Bob_K - of course we read your posts - we either jsut didn't notice (me), or you've earned many many "cut me some slack" points...

GILL I. 3:51 PM  

@Loren....I bet you even know the beer he's drinkin!
Speaking of not catching mistakes, I wrote "latter" instead of "ladder" and I don't think anyone even noticed.....or cares.

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)

Tue 8:25, 8:56, 0.94, 40%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:56, 4:39, 1.06, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Plantasia 3:58 PM  

Back stairway reads:
Not too bad. Only 1 partial and two abbrs. And E.P. could be theme-related. Sorry, M&A -- no MEAT anagrams.

acme 4:28 PM  

In another memory-triggering note, "Stairway to Heaven" was played at my brother-in-law's funeral by a friend of his as poor Alberto was literally bricked in to his tomb. It remains among the single saddest moments of my life.
The poignancy was heartbreaking, as Alberto was a sex, drugs, rock and roll type artist who died way way way too young. (He was determined to be part of the 27 club and was aghast to have lived twenty years longer) We still miss him every day.

Now when I hear this song, I hope to think instead of Andrew Reynolds startling fun crossword achievement.
So additional thankyous for another example of the potentially transformative properties of puzzles!

John in Philly 5:16 PM  

I never heard of Jimmy Page and I'm 53 years old. Was I asleep at some point for a decade or two? maybe too much disco.

WA 5:30 PM  

I thought the answer for Old Spice alternative was Victoria Beckham, but that did not fit. It must have been a difficult puzzle to construct. T too was looking for Robert Plant, but so have many people have also been looking until Allison Krause found him.

George NYC 5:48 PM  

Thought this was brilliant. Really enjoyed it.
Thanks, Andrew

jae 5:52 PM  

Just listened to Stairway again and confirmed that my 67 year old self agrees with my 27 year old self--not a LZ fan. I was/am more into Crosby, Stills, and Nash for long songs ( Judy Blue Eyes) and The Eagles (slightly later in the decade) for guitar solos (Hotel California). Nothing against LZ, just not my cup...

M and A's L.S.Bullet 5:54 PM  

I think y'all are real smart folks, with great ideas and comments. Read every one of 'em. See some typos, but, hey -- I'd be the last one qualified to correct anyone else's Queen's English.

thUmbsUp to you solvers -- and old 31 -- who take the time to express your reactions to the puz. Bet the constructors really think those comments are solid gold.

retired_chemist 8:28 PM  

What everybody said. Easy here - almost a minute faster than Monday.

Wanted the 67A clue to be "David of Criminal Minds."

Thanks, Andrew.

Sparky 9:23 PM  

DNF: never remember BCE and ETAIL. They certainly will come up again. Liked this puzzle. Took a while to fill in enough of the gray squares to see STAIR which with a few other letters opened the ladder.

No idea re LZ but gettable. Didn't Rex look for ISAACSTERN just the other day? And here he is. Six 10 letter and four nine letter answers; isn't that a lot?

Speaking of crosswordese: they do serve other drinks besides ALE at pubs.

Thanks @Andrew. If you were here I'd buy you a single malt scoth at the pub downstairs from me.

JFC 11:20 PM  

It doesn't bust my balls if fill sucks because a theme is the priority. I does bust my balls when the King does not comment because he sees a conflict of interest that is BS. There is no conflict of interest in commenting on a crossword puzzle. @Rex, just disclose you submitting a puzzle with the same theme and then comment. It's only a crossword puzzle. It's not legal representation.

There are days when @Rex makes no sense and this is one of them....


JFC 11:43 PM  

Alas, it should have been "you submitted" but then what's grammar compared to a conflict of interest?

Well, to an English professor, everything....


sanfranman59 11:50 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 6:30, 6:48, 0.96, 32%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:26, 8:56, 0.94, 40%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:41, 1.04, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:47, 4:39, 1.03, 61%, Medium-Challenging

Anonymous 12:41 AM  

GNAR? Really? That's acceptable? Rex, I'm specifically looking to you for comment on this. (After all, you're the one who feels the need to share your thoughts and opinions with us.) As someone who was a member of a group of post-grad chemists who (long, long ago) once solved the Manchester Guardian puzzles on a daily basis in the lab,
I would like to add, WTF??

GNAR does not belong in any crossword, of any stripe. Call it out, please.

Merriam Webster 6:39 AM  

@Anonymous, 12:41 AM - I am not specifically Rex, just a little desktop dictionary, but I can tell you that GNAR has been a perfectly good English word, used in print since the 15th Century, meaning snarl or growl.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

I must be thick, but how does TOAT mean "precisely"?

miriam b 11:32 AM  


Spacecraft 2:07 PM  

Ya screwed the pooch on this one, publishers, by shading in the "STAIRWAY." 1a rock legend Jimmy made me think instantly of PAGE--and when I saw the shaded aquares it was all over. Easy-peasy. I couldn't fill in the letters fast enough.

Needless to say, I'm a "Leddite." I hereby forgive the constructor for any and all subpar fill on this one. Two guitar picks up!

Dirigonzo 4:02 PM  

My experience with the shaded squares was exactly opposite @Spacecraft's - they were so lightly shaded that I never even noticed them, thereby depriving me of the pure joy of discovering such a beautiful bit of construction until I came here! Even so, I thought it was a pretty decent Tuesday puzzle even without the stairway - only write-over was ado>DIN.

Many of the teenagers in town wear pink wrist-bands as a show of support for efforts to eliminate breast cancer - the message says, "Save the TATAS". And on that note, I'll say my goodbyes.

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

When I realized where this puzzle was going, I actually giggled with pleasure. What a fun construction! Kudos to Mr. Reynolds

Mary in Oregon 5:47 PM  

I loved your puzzle, Andrew! Led Zep was one of my favorite bands back in the day ... That was so very clever to have the entire name of the song AND name of the band marching up diagonally. Don't be bothered by Rex's comments; you wrote a wonderful puzzle. Can't wait for your next one.

rain forest 12:25 AM  

@Spacecraft and @Mary in Oregon summed it up for me. Great puzzle. Never a Led Zeppelin fan, I can't believe that not everyone is familiar with this song.

I thought Rex was quite childish in his explanation of his recusement from comments on yesterday's puzzle. Disappointing.

Anonymous 1:45 AM  

Did no one else write "alive" before "alias"?

Anonymous 2:46 AM  

Sorry Rex. You're just an idiot here. Hard but beautiful Tuesday. Lots of long hard fill. Of course the short fill is what it has to be. I look to you for answers I don't understand on a Friday or Saturday but you can be a big prig occasionally,

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