Pinhead-size spy photo / TUE 9-11-12 / Red-skinned food / Rope for Ricardo / Fawning females / Val d Alpine skiing destination / Fleabag hotel for short / Medical hardening / Memorable 2011 hurricane

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Constructor: Kenneth Leeser

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Capital homophones — wacky phrases: world capital followed by phrase that sounds like that capital.

Word of the Day: MICRODOT (10D: Pinhead-size spy photo) —
microdot is text or an image substantially reduced in size onto a 1mm disc to prevent detection by unintended recipients. Microdots are normally circular around one millimetre in diameter but can be made into different shapes and sizes and made from various materials such as polyester. The name comes from the fact that the microdots have often been about the size and shape of atypographical dot, such as a period or the tittle of a lowercase i or j. It is, fundamentally, asteganographic approach to message protection. (wikipedia)
• • •

This was just odd. Haven't done a puzzle with this thin a theme in a long, long time. Maybe I'm forgetting something, but three answers?? That's barely there. So, I guess to add interest to the puzzle, the word count is a lowish (for Tuesday) 74, allowing for all those long Downs (eight of them at 8+ letters). That does make the grid more interesting than your typical Tuesday grid, but those answers aren't that scintillating. EMINENCES? (36D: Popes and the likeSODA BATHS? (what are those?) SONNETIZE!? (35D: Write Shakespearean poetry) (I'm sure it's a word, but I teach Shakespeare on a regular basis and never see it) (further, while the sonnet was popularized in the Renaissance, it is not exclusively "Shakespearean"; plenty of writers in other ages wrote sonnets). The theme idea is cute enough. I wonder if it could be extended to other capitals (and even as I'm wondering this, I'm guessing the constructor already thought of this). It's certainly a serviceable puzzle, but likely not a memorable one.

Theme answers:
  • 24A: Lebanese water passage? (BEIRUT BAY ROUTE)
  • 38A: Sudanese junkyard? (KHARTOUM CAR TOMB)
  • 50A: Big shoe specification in Libya? (TRIPOLI TRIPLE E)
Took me a remarkably long time to get the theme. I was close to, possibly more than half done before I saw what was going on. This was due to my working in my customary top-down, left-to-right manner, which meant I got the front ends of all the theme answers fine, but they were no help at getting the back ends. Well, TRIPOLI eventually helped, mainly because I actually considered TRIPLE E as the first part of the answer when I got the first few letters (TRIP-). Once I figured things out, I sped up considerably. But even so, there were odd answers that kept me from sailing through too easily. Specifically, I had trouble getting the front end of SCLEROSIS (33D: Medical hardening), and then again getting any part of MICRODOT (a word I've never seen before). Had Trader JOE'S for Trader VIC'S (63A: Trader ___), but no other serious mix-ups. If I remember anything about this puzzle, it will be that it contained ZEKE (27D: Farmworker who became the Cowardly Lion in Dorothy's dream) and its anagram, EZEK. (66A: Book before Daniel: Abbr.).

  • 17A: Red-skinned food (EDAM) — nice, slightly oblique clue for this common answer.
  • 29A: Nord's opposite (SUD) — north and south, in French.
  • 31A: Fawning females (DOES) — I did not know that giving birth to a fawn was called "fawning," though ... it makes sense. Nice, tricky clue.
  • 8D: Rope, for Ricardo (REATA) — I'm thinking Ricky, Lucy, light bondage.
  • 13D: Val d'___ (Alpine skiing destination) (ISERE) — if you gotta use this Supercrosswordesey answer, I guess this is as good a clue as any.
  • 21D: Fleabag hotel, for short (SRO) — single-room occupancy. I learned this term from crosswords, as I did the other SRO: standing room only.
  • 53D: Memorable 2011 hurricane (IRENE) — I wonder if this was clued in 2011, because IRENE ... I don't remember her. But then again, I've never lived anywhere affected by hurricanes, so unless her name's Katrina, I'm not likely to remember her.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jackj 12:04 AM  

“Sudanese junkyard?”, a KHARTOUMCARTOMB, yuck, yuck, cute joke, “get it?”

How about “Lebanese water passage?” for BEIRUTBAYROUTE, another sparkler, isn’t it? Sort of reminds you of “one if by land and two if by sea”.

Then there’s a real crosswordy howler, “Big shoe specification in Libya?” for TRIPOLITRIPLEE, zowie, they don’t get any better than that!

Man, what a neat theme!!

Here we have a rogue nation, Sudan, that supports and harbors terrorists, including Al Qaeda and Islamic Brotherhood;

Middle Eastern neighbor, Lebanon, is dominated by terrorist groups, one of which Hezbollah, was responsible for the murder of 241 Americans in the 1983 bombing of the U. S. Marine barracks in Beirut;

Libya, carried out the horrific Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, killing some 270 people, (many of them U. S. college students) and now, after a “revolution” of sorts as they reorganize as a nation their future friends and foes are still question marks.

What a strange and sad way for the NY Times to remember the tragedy of 9/11.

JFC 12:20 AM  

@Rex - You need to be more flexible. Not every puzzle follows your way of solving.

@Jackj - You give the NYT too much credit. The NYT still thinks a terrorist is someone who listens to Rush Limbaugh.

I liked the puzzle and the theme. The theme made me laugh, which is more than I can say about Rex's post or Jackj's post....


Evan 12:36 AM  

Some other possible theme answers:

MOSCOW MOSS COW (Russian bovine covered in green?)
NEW DELHI NEW DELI (Fresh place for fresh fish in India?)
BAGHDAD BAG DAD (Iraqi father of purses?)


I almost always avoid political discussions on this blog, but I have to take real objection to your complaints about the theme answers being inappropriate because of 9/11. They're just the names of cities in the international community. The puzzle isn't commemorating terrorism simply by including them. Why was terrorism the first thing that came to mind for you when discussing those countries? Are they not also nations with rich histories, cultures, languages, and people of their own?

Plus, there have been plenty of horrible acts of war committed by the U.S. in other countries over the years, yet I don't see why one should treat a puzzle with a theme of, say, New York or Washington D.C. or American politicians as one that praises those atrocities.

As I said, I don't really care to get up on my soapbox when writing comments on this blog. But the mere association between a Middle Eastern country's name in a crossword puzzle and terrorism -- followed by the implication that it reflects poorly on the NYT to have those country's names in the puzzle on 9/11 -- is something that I couldn't let go.

syndy 1:22 AM  

I liked the puzzle a lot,even if I did want Silicosis instead of SCLEROSIS!Anytime A perfectly reasonable word like MICRODOT has never crossed RP's path you know it's fresh.I was going to say that IRENE was too soon but now I'm not.@jackj are we going to change the words to the Marine corp hymn?

jae 1:35 AM  

I have to disagree with Rex on the difficulty rating. I think this was a tough Tues.  I liked the theme but HOSEA, EZEK, the REATA var.,  ISERE,  are not Tues. level stuff.  Not to mention SONNETIZE.   So, cute theme (the three cities have been around for a very long time)  pretty smooth grid, but on the tough side.  

Adieu Cartomb Microdots 2:12 AM  

I loved the theme! Thought it cute and think it's fantastic that Evan came up with three more!!!!!!!
Maybe Four would have been better, but I thought this was nice and crunchy, Zs flying around and Ks, tough to try and spell KHARTOUM and that they were all middle-eastern
(Tho Jeremy Horwitz insisted at lunch that Libya is North Africa, not the Middle-East...but, close enough!)

9/11 brings out crazy emotional emotions so I give jackj a pass, but this was at best an unfortunate coincidence.
Perhaps you can look at it as a gentle reminder, as @Evan pointed out, that there are other ways to think of the people and the cities even as simple word play.

It was my downfall at the mini-BAC Fill tournament. Apparently I had a wrong-square. I'm guessing I had RiATA and forgot to correct it.

Hand up for needing every cross on MICRODOT, something I've never heard of, nor do I know ALEC Waugh, only Evelyn.
But I do remember's amazing we are already up to ISAAC already! SO she was at least 26 hurricanes ago!
Same letter set up as ISERE so if IRENE weren't down below, I'll bet it would have ended up in the NE corner. But thank (the crossword) gods for both!

Too bad STANDINGROOMONLY 16 and SINGLEROOMOCCUPANCY 19 are too long AND different lengths, bec that would make a cool puzzle...
along with PDA PUBLICDISPLAYOFAFFECTION, PERSONALDIGITALASSISTANT or other things that have two different meanings same initials:

Belated thanks, all, for all the wicked kind words yesterday, despite having (gasp) many partials, which I guess I'm partial to!

jae 3:12 AM  

@Andrea -- Two things.

MICRODOT has been a plot device in movies since Arabesque and You Only Live Twice in the '60s. It's been used recently in White Collar and Cover Affairs. I'm slightly surprised you needed all the crosses.

I know I've done a NYT puzzle with both meanings of PDA spelled out as the theme. I just don't remember exactly when...

Jeremy Mercer 3:22 AM  

Maybe I'm a little juvenile, but I thought this puzzle was hilarious. I am going to try out the puns at lunch with my non-puzzle solving friends and see if they hold water ...

Otherwise, I find the comments from @jackj interesting and valid. I would never have thought of this, nor do I second the complaint, but that's why I come to this blog: to get different perspectives on the puzzle.

chefwen 3:48 AM  

I really liked this one too and laughed as every, O.K. three, theme answers as they were unveiled. But I'm pretty easily amused.

9/11 is also a pretty somber day here, it was 20 years ago that hurricane Iniki pretty much leveled this island and much of Oahu.

@JFC you never responded to my email re. The Pack and Obama. I thought it was hilarious. Wasn't sure as to how you would take, being from Chi Town, but I was eagerly awaiting some kind of reaction, Yeah or Nay.

jae 4:30 AM  

@andrea -- OK, maybe it was a BEQ, or ??? But, I know I've seen it done.

Anonymous 6:01 AM  

It looks like the theme was Arab capitals... Given that constraint I can't think of another possible theme answer of compatible length. The theme is actually very tight.

Zwhatever 6:05 AM  

It's Tuesday, so this puzzle gets a bit of a pass. Still, ZAG - ONE - SUD and SIS - EDS - NNE are not pretty. Then we get SRO (me - What, the fleas are so bad you stand?), ETO, ETE and EMU, too (What - no ELO to complete the Exx set?). Can't say to much good about CENSE, the sixteen four letter words in the corners. But it's Tuesday, so expectations are low.

The theme are groaners, but good puns are groaners so that's fine with me. I got it at KHARTOUM CAR TOMB, which filled in that A in REATA. I was thinking O but couldn't suss out BEIRUT BoY -OU-E.

I would give this a Meh rating, but since it is Tuesday, Meh +.

When I enter race/ethnicity for students using the Federal definitions prescribed for us, Libyans, Egyptians, Moroccans, Lebanese - they are all "Caucasian." "African-Americans" have to have ancestors from south of the Sahara. There is no designation for Arab-American or "middle eastern."

Anonymous 6:35 AM  

Uh, Rex, remember last year when a lot of Binghamton was under water? That was Irene.

Ah 6:38 AM  

@Rex, remember the floods in Binghamton and the Southern Tier of NY state in August 2011? That was Irene. I would have thought that was memorable for you.

Tropical Storm Lee 6:49 AM  

Why do people insist on being wrong? You commenters need to get into another line of work.

Anonymous 7:15 AM  

I loved the theme but I found the NW corner very hard for a Tuesday: SODABATHS, ALEC (Waugh), and TOMEI were all unknown to me. And EDAM and LOCO were just slow to come. Just when I was about to concede a DNF (omigod, on Tuesday??), I got it, to my relief.

Gerry W.

Milford 7:16 AM  

Another tough Tuesday (after last week's 27 puzzle), but the fill was smooth. Lots of French, as noted, but all getable, with the exception of ISERE.

I was amused/impressed by the theme - all the city names were interesting and different. Didn't personally make any 9/11 connection, but I can respect those that did.

Favorites were SCLEROSIS and the clueing for EDAM. Was thinking that SODA BATHS involved carbonated water (soothing?) but now realize it means baking soda. Duh.

I like the BMW grave marker pic.

Thoracic 7:37 AM  

Ironic Irene answer as I sit here in Newfounland solving puzzle and watching Tropical Storm Leslie's winds cause my neighbors trees to bend my power lines to, but hopefully not past, the breaking point!
Thought the theme was reasonable for Tuesday--ie I got it.

John V 7:49 AM  

Fun theme; three answers but density of 43 which strikes me as okay. EDAM clue was the most interesting spot. CENSE was fun; two bible books, not so much.

Hey, for a good time, click the audio icon below the captcha boxes. Very troubling.

Loren Muse Smith 8:51 AM  

I found this one pretty easy and really, really liked TRIPOLI TRIPLE E. I would have liked the other two theme entries a lot more if BAY ROUTE and CAR TOMB were as in-the-language as TRIPLE E. But still, fun enough.

@Evan – nice ideas!

@Gerry W. – you’re missing a terrific performance if you haven’t seen Marisa TOMEI in My Cousin Vinny!

High points for me:

Religious EMINENCE next to ABBE
EZEK and ZEKE (both Ezekiels?)
Perfumyish CENSE and ESTER

The u in my captcha is sporting an umlaut???!!!

All in all, I enjoyed the RUN. Thanks, Kenneth.

Sue McC 8:54 AM  

Cute. But SODABATHS? Sounds weird.

joho 9:14 AM  

I really enjoyed the theme as it made me smile. Plus it took some time to figure it out, so it wasn't too easy. And definitely fresh ... as SODABATHS?

As mentioned some of the clues were really clever. I liked "Wise guys?" for MAGI, too.

Good catch @Rex on ZEKE being an anagram of EZEK.


Not so much SCLEROSIS (cringe)

Thank you, Kenneth Leeser ... fun puzzle!

Loren Muse Smith 9:31 AM  

High strung person from Taiwan?

wordie 9:37 AM  

I loved this puzzle! No terrorism connection occurred to me. I just realized that without the Arab spring I would have had a harder time getting the theme answers. I got 24A off a few letters in Beirut and nothing else. Then off the K from ZEKE I got 38A. 50A I got with no crosses. This puzzle has to be the fastest I've ever solved a NYT puzz! I didn't even notice most of the CWeze answers noted by others, as a result of sussing out the theme so early, and speaking French didn't hurt either. Thanks Mr. Lesser! Zippy theme!

JC66 9:39 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 9:41 AM  


I believe that hurricanes are named using the letters of the alphabet starting with A each year, so the only connection between Isaac & IRENE is that they're both the 9th storm in the year they occurred.

You'll also probably be interested to learn that it's only recently that women's and men's names rotate; hurricanes used to be 100% female.

chefbea 9:46 AM  

Of course we all know what I first wrote for red skinned food. But of course couldn't get anything else to fit. I also wanted Trader Joe's which I am anxously awaiting for the opening here in Wilmington.

Seem to have a lot of emus lately.

Great puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:02 AM  

I'm just a tiny bit surprised that Will Shortz ran this puzzle this week. Why? Ask me Friday.

King Khartoum 10:19 AM  

This is different, yet similar to a previous puzzle. The other one was 'punny', however the same three capitals were used.
It's in the NYT's archives: April 30, 2009

Tobias Duncan 10:20 AM  

Dang it Bob...

Azbert 10:25 AM  

Rex, You've never seen "microdot"? You never heard of Hurricane Irene?
How old are you? Don't you read books, newspapers or watch the news on TV? Mayhaps you've been sonnetizing too mcuh.

Carola 10:27 AM  

The theme answers made me smile and I liked those long down answers a lot, a few of which I don't recall seeing in a puzzle before - eminences, soda baths courteous, microdot (which I knew from reading spy novels).

Yes, the EMU returns (this week's dace?). It tickled me that as lowly "fill" it gets to strut its stuff center stage today.

Loved the clue for the CAPES. I picture the count in front of his wardrobe pondering which to select for that night's flight.

@loren - Neat correspondences! Also: MICRODOT + CODES.

quilter1 10:50 AM  

I rate this one easy. I remember IRENE because of Rex's outrage that the PetCo staff in Binghamton left animals to drown in the flood. No kidding, and I shared that post with my animal-loving, New Yorker niece. SCLEROSING, MICRODOT both gimmes. When I got sunburned as a child my mom would run me a soda bath.

I liked it.

Sandy K 10:51 AM  

To me this was just another puzzle, until I read @jackj's comment. He seems to have put more thought into this than the NYT.

It is rather unfortunate that this puzzle appeared on 9/11. Just the fact that the 3 answers happen to be Arab capitals is rather cringe-worthy today of all days!

Campesite 10:52 AM  

I liked the theme answers in the puzzle, as well as @lorenmusesmith's. Always good to see my favorite once and future home, the spectacular Val d'Isere in the Savoie.

hazel 10:57 AM  

@quilter, i too remember the tropical storm/hurricane that hit binghamton and flooded that petstore and killed those poor animals - it seems like we were given information here to mount some sort of write in campaign? Maybe not. I do remember rex being on the warpath. My brain remembers that kind of stuff and not rare/obscure crosswordese that i've seen once/twice maybe ten times. Sigh, I'm just not built for speed. i am also preoccupied by my week of dr's visits in houston (hi, @wade!), where they seem to remember their named hurricanes like their children.

I liked this puzzle, and did not make any untoward associations, but do appreciate the variety of perspectives found here. (Well said @jeremy mercer!) I'm not sure in puzzledom there would ever be an appropriate "puzzle" to remember 9/11....

Matthew G. 11:06 AM  

You've never lived anywhere affected by hurricanes? Your entire city was underwater from one a year ago!

And IRENE was certainly historic. It absolutely devastated the state of Vermont, in particular.

Anyhow, I liked the puzzle but also thought it was decidedly on the Challenging side for a Tuesday. Except CAPES, nothing in the NW corner came quickly on my first couple of passes.

I also lost a lot of time at the end when the puzzle didn't submit and I had to hunt to figure out why. It turns out I had ESTEE instead of ESTER -- I guess I had EST__ and saw "perfume" in the clue and wrote in ESTEE without even reading the whole clue. Oops.

Sparky 11:09 AM  

I liked this one. It has Zs and enough Us to make @M&A happy. Hand up re MICRODOTs in spy novels. Got it with TRIPLEE and then went back. The long downs were nice. SODABATHS good for sunburn.

In NYC all calls start with ONE. In Miami your own area code doesn't. I often manage to get it wrong.

Have a quiet thoughtful day.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Again, it was Tropical Storm Lee that put Binghamton underwater, not Hurricane Irene.

Also, Azbert, why don't you try publicly admitting Every Day all the things you don't know. I'll be there'll be somethings that would surprise other people. It is part of the fascination of the crossword.


jberg 11:22 AM  

None of those cities had anything to do with 9/11, but enough about that. I enjoyed the theme answers, and agree some more would have been nice. How about Algiers Al Jeers, rough reception for former VP in Ageria? Or, more of a stretch, unusual delicacy in Morocco, RABAT RAW BAT?

Kind of neat the way the Book of Daniel gets boxed in, too.

Gotta go SONNETIZE some.

John V 11:32 AM  

@King Khartoum: Interesting about the 4/30/09 puzzle with similar puns: It was a themed Thursday puzzle where the theme answers were identified by asterisks on the clues and did not follow the convention of the theme answers being the longest; theme density 57!

Anonymous 11:34 AM  


I don't think any of the commenters are asking for an "appropriate puzzle to remember 9/11".

This one just seems to be a tad off for some sensibilities.

Lewis 11:48 AM  

Liked it. Plenty of theme for a Tuesday and great idea for the theme. And a theme you don't discover after you've finished the puzzle, one that actually can help the solve.

Sparky 11:54 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew G. 11:54 AM  

I was aware that IRENE was not the storm that flooded Binghamton. I did not mean to suggest otherwise. I was not aware that Lee failed to reach hurricane status, though.

Gareth Bain 11:55 AM  

Love your new entry, Loren, even if it isn't in the Middle East (I think that extra layer of theme may have been ill-advised, but that's just me)

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

I've known dozens of people from North Africa (Egypt, Algeria, Morocco) and none of them identify themselves as Arab (it's actually a dirty word there), nor as Middle-Eastern. They're North Africans. The Sudan isn't in the Middle East, it's in Africa.

Lebanon is the victim of extremism, not the source. Beirut was once one of the most beautiful, civilized cities in the world until all of Lebanon became the chess match between Israel and Syria.

Masked and Anonymo8Us 12:50 PM  

Hey, there's probably a coupla billion candidate theme answers. My fave would probably be clued as "Irish multiplyin'". But nothing wrong with stopping at 3 theme answers, with 43 squares of material. Lets the rest of the puz breathe a little, and helps the constructor get that critical U-count up.

Nothing wrong with having 7 theme answers, either. Or with havin' a pangram. Or including somethin' wicked. Vive le differences. Peace on earth, good will toward Variety.

quilter1 1:18 PM  

Thanks to those who sorted out the confusion between tropical storm Lee and hurricane Irene. A lot going on at once.5

Bird 2:06 PM  

Interesting theme, but too bad there are only three answers. The longs downs in the NW and SE corners were challenging for a Tuesday and 36D does not look pretty at all.

Had SALT BATHS for 2D, but SODA BATHS seem plausible. We take baths in mud, soap, bubbles and perfume. We use sponges, wash cloths and loofahs. There are Turkish baths, Russian baths and Roman baths. We are a clean society.

Learned that CENSE is a word and not a partial and that we can transform SONNET into a verb.

Other rewrites at 10A (MUGS), 63A (JOES) and 68A (AROMA).

Whether it was Lee or Irene that did the damage, I find it difficult to believe that either would be forgotten so soon.


JHC 2:47 PM  

I'm enjoying the proposed alternate theme answers. How about [What Indian fans of singer Goulding might like to see?] [German connection for Uncle Miltie?] [Indefatigable Hungarian proselytizer for Eastern religion?] [Swedish trading floor?]

My only complaint: Evelyn Waugh gets 2 million hits on Google. Alec gets 617,000. Crossword-worthy, I'll buy, but 1-Down on a Tuesday?

Meantime, I'm getting pretty good at calling which word will get Rex ranting. I circled SONNETIZE as soon as I saw it.

M and A thought up more junk and 2:59 PM  

P.S. Note to Andrea, Darlin', concerning yesterday's puz.
Better clue for ALUI...
["___ Looo-aye, ohhhhhh, oh -- and we gotta go..": Kingsmen song lyric]

Darn ear-worms.

@31: Since you brought 'er up.
What makes a grid entry "interesting"? I mean, beyond something with undeniable curb appeal, like SULU -- or controversial, like EZEK ("Zeke caught in a twister") and SODABATHS ("Brown cows, for the cows"). Seems like a real subjective subject. Wobbly. I do know from experience that U really like HOGCALLS, which I can sorta get on board with...

Confusin' to the M&A.

WA 3:14 PM  

Sonnetize sounds like you are waxing a poem. It is odd that the theme clues are places filled with mayhem and murder. I am surprised he did not have a clue like Pet name for African girlfriend-Tutsi.

I always have problems with the robot lettes. So what if a robot answers?

Lojman 3:39 PM  

It's not exactly right, but since everybody's all bent out of shape regarding this puzzle on this day:

Afghani percussion for a Blue Öyster Cult song?

May peace prevail on earth.


mac 3:58 PM  

Quite a nice Tuesday. I had not made the connection with 9/11, and agree with Anon 12.11, especially about Lebanon.

I found it pretty easy, also caught on to the theme early, but had a couple of write-overs: civilized for courteous, and OII for "one".

It was eerie this morning to have very similar weather and skies as on 9/11 11 years ago.

quilter1 4:35 PM  

@WA: waxing a poem. Hahaha.

Anonymous 4:45 PM  

@Bird - Don't forget the good soakings we get on Wall St. BTW - what is 343? Is that a typo?

sanfranman59 5:25 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 8:29, 8:57, 0.95, 41%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:58, 4:39, 1.07, 71%, Medium-Challenging

hazel 5:46 PM  

@anon 11:34 - my bad - i misread @jackj's last sentence.

Anonymous 6:55 PM  

I use bleach to SONNATIZE my bathroom and kitchen countertops.

Bird 7:40 PM  

@Anon 4:45 - We lost 343 members of the FDNY on 9/11. I am thankful for and remember ALL
responders, but my father is retired from the FDNY.

Mz.D 7:46 PM  

Microdot!Really?I immediately thought purple microdot.Come on;I'm not the only dinosaur around.....

Sfingi 8:36 PM  

Cute puzzle, though @jackj had a point. Mr. Shortz does the choosing, nicht Wahr?

Most of those Lockerbee students were from Syracuse U. and some Utica locals. Knew 2.

The fixed form verse we call the SONNET was invented in Sicily by Giacomo da Lentini during the illustrious reign of Fed II. It then was taken up by Plutarch and on to Shaks.

Aren't ZEKE and EZEK refs to the same name?

Wanted ADIEU to be the word meaning upon taking French leave. Hmm.

Mr. Leeser likes puns, lowest humor form. Me, too.

If I can finish w/o Google, it's a Mon-Wed puzzle.

Anonymous 8:56 PM  


Anonymous 9:19 PM  

The breaking news I am watching on tv right now seems to vindicate what @jackj and others said today.

sanfranman59 10:15 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 5:39, 6:48, 0.83, 1%, Easy (2nd lowest median solve time of 166 Mondays)
Tue 8:29, 8:57, 0.95, 41%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:23, 3:41, 0.92, 16%, Easy
Tue 4:49, 4:39, 1.04, 64%, Medium-Challenging

WillGH 12:06 AM  

I thought it was a cute theme. Easy once you saw it.

It surprises me you've forgotten Irene given that you live in upstate NY. The Catskills, Adirondacks, and Vermont were hit hard by flooding end of last August.

Spacecraft 12:48 PM  

Interesting; about right for a Tuesday. A few hesitancies here and there made it an easy-medium for me. Unlike several including OFL, my medical background rendered SCLEROSIS a gimme.

What I needed every cross for was SRO for "Fleabag hotel, for short." HUH?? I was sure I had read the wrong clue. Where was my theater sign? And what in the WORLD does SRO have to do with fleabag hotels?? I don't get it.

One writeover: had ewES for DOES. Twin 9 downs are a novelty; Mr. Leeser (debut? If so,good job!) pulls it off fairly well.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:05 PM  

@Spacecraft - SRO = Single Room Occupancy

DMGrandma 2:18 PM  

Just cycled through about 15 Captchas looking for one I could hope to read. Much harder than this puzzle where my only pauses were for misspelling BEriUT and trying scent where CENSE belonged. Both were easily corrected. sufferedtne SRO confusion, and agree with those who find SONNETIZE weird. Seems the type of thing one would say when putting on airs. Now for that Captcha.

Dirigonzo 3:01 PM  

I find it troubling that I was able to enter SCLEROSIS with no crosses - unlike @Spacecraft, I do not have a medical background, I'm just getting old! Otherwise, thought the puz had a nice chewy consistency and a fun theme - until I came here, anyway. That first comment just freaked me out. (But for the record, I don't think 911 is a reason to color a region, a people, a religion or anything else as evil, even by implication.)

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

Other Capital Ideas for Constructors:

Nassau Nausea
Minsk Miniskirt
Tirana Tyrannosaurus Rex!
Gabarone Gabardine
Dublin Doublin' (Theme?)
Puttin' on Buenos Aires
The Praguematics
I'm Tallinn on you!
Amman named Jordan
Seoul City
Bern, baby, Bern
Sanaatation for the nation

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

Back in the summer of '78 I did some purple microdot. Tripped my ass off.

Solving in Seattle 5:35 PM  

@Spacecraft, I agree with you about SRO. Huh? I thought maybe shorthand for Skid ROw. Thanks for clearing it up, @Bob K.

Needed crosses to get SODABATH. Really? People take soda baths?

Got the theme on ______BAYROUTE. Cute. Got a chuckle out of the additional theme possibilities. Taipei type A is my fav.

As for the political discussion, I'm reasonably sure that Kenneth Leeser and the NYT are not involved in a 9/11 conspiracy re: today's theme. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Go Hawks! Sorry about the Pats loss, but that was one exciting game.

Urology Surgery India 6:04 AM  

Great blog all the best

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