1985 john malkovich film / THU 11-15-12 / Palindromic girl / Soul singer Bryson / Orbit Eclipse / Parent company of Oscar Mayer / Clooney's ER role / Breaking Bad airer

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Constructor: Andrew Reynolds

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: TREES (71A: There are six hidden in this puzzle in appropriate places) — circled squares across middle of the grid spell out FOREST, and intersecting each on of the letters in FOREST is a tree:


Word of the Day: "Per ARDUA ad astra" (35A: "Per ___ ad astra") —
Per ardua ad astra ("Through adversity to the stars" or "Through struggle to the stars") is the motto of the Royal Air Force and otherCommonwealth air forces such as the RAAFRCAF, and RNZAF. It dates from 1912 and was used by the newly formed Royal Flying Corps. (wikipedia)
• • •

Felt pretty easy, but my time says slightly on the hard side, so the little delays must've added up. Theme was strange, in that I simply guessed ARBOR from the clue (___ Day, five letters, first thing that came to mind), and then proceeded to fill in the grid, expecting any second to run into some theme material, but it never materialized. Unless you count TREES, which I guess you should, but it's not as if that word really changed anything about how I finished solving the puzzle. When I was done, I tried to figure out where the TREES could be hidden. Hey, there's one, inside Meryl STREEP. OK ... and ... then ... huh. No more TREES. Then (and only then) did I notice the circled squares. I think my aversion to circled squares is now so deep that my brain refuses to process them. Anyway, the TREES ended up being in the FOREST. I thought maybe this theme was trying to illustrate the expression "can't see the FOREST for the TREES," but I'm guessing that's not really the case, mostly because I could see the FOREST, but couldn't see the TREES at all (at first). I've seen other, better tree-themed puzzles before. And I haven't seen FIG trees in a FOREST before. I didn't hate, or even strongly dislike, this puzzle. It was just ... interesting. Odd. Curious.

I struggled not mightily, but frequently. Had trouble seeing almost all the long Downs. I had S-AKED UP before I realized what the answer there was (!). Needed about half the crosses before either REAPPEARS or DELMONICO showed up. Didn't see irrelevant because my palindromic girl was ANA, not AVA. Was kicking myself mid-solve for not coming up with ARDUA. That motto is usually used to clue ASTRA (a far more common entry than ARDUA), so since I knew I'd seen it a lot, I figured the answer would just come to me ... with one cross? ... two crosses? ... oh, come on! Had ADD TO instead of ADD ON and CAW instead of COO, the latter of which resulted in my favorite wrong answer of the night: TWO-MAN instead of NORDIC (58A: Like some Winter Olympics events). Never thought I'd be glad to see "ELENI," and I wasn't glad, exactly, but that little nugget of crosswordese certainly made the north a good deal easier than it might otherwise have been. I was reluctant to put in ROSS because I was sure "Friends" was running interference in my brain. Turns out ROSS was Clooney's character's *last* name, not his first. PEABO I knew because his name is PEABO and who could forget something like that.

  • 62A: One of the five major taste sensations (UMAMI) — Sounds suspiciously like a 1985 John Malkovich film. 
  • 9D: Persuade through razzle-dazzle (SNOW) — this clue doesn't persuade me that it's correct. In SNOW, there is the implication of deceit. "Razzle-dazzle" merely implies showmanship (though the creation of confusion appears to be part of the showmanship, in some cases). 
  • 28D: French-speaking African land (MAURITANIA) — got this one rather easily despite the fact that if I was forced to name as many African countries as I could, I wouldn't get to this one for a good, long while, if at all. It sounds fictional to me.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Evan 12:18 AM  

I fell into the inTRUDE trap because I refused to believe that PEABO was an answer. But ELEhI/ShOW was my downfall. I don't know the movie ELENI, and I figured if you wanted to razzle-dazzle someone, you show them something amazing that they'll believe. It wasn't until long after I was done that I remembered the term "snow job."

I can't say the theme or fill thrilled me that much, though INFIGHTING and BIG SKY are nice answers, the clue for CANDIDATES is great, and PEAR TREE is close to the English translation of my last name.

For months I've printed out the Thursday-through-Sunday puzzles and solved them on paper. I did for today as well, but the new format sucks. The clues for 63- and 65-Down were sitting there by themselves on the left margin of the page instead of beneath the other Down clues on the right side. You can now add me whatever list of people expressing displeasure at the NYT crossword site upgrade. I want my PDFs back!

Random, though dissafected, solver 12:29 AM  

In life every action, or inaction for that matter, is a choice between good or evil, right or wrong, nobility or baseness, or bringing joy or sorrow to your fellow man. These choices should not be taken lightly as they make up, in their cumulative effect, the type of person you are, the lasting effect you leave in the world.

Mssrs Shortz and Reynolds today made a series of bad choices. First, they put PEABO in my face. Secondly, they confounded this by referencing Mr PEABO as "..singer Bryson". There is only one singer who should be referenced as ".. singer Bryson", that being Jeanie Bryson

syndy 12:32 AM  

some interesting answers in this one...I don't know as I would discribe a matador as a hero but I always rooted for the bull.OBTRUDE..well I'm sure it's a word-I trust Will.Umani is all about japanese food I think and DATE tree sounds odd with saying Palm. Just odd.Some answer were so easy they were ridiculous GUM ARE OLD ANY? SNAKEDUP didnt make a heck alot of sense so I pulled up my net and dipped my OAR in.

Random, though dissafected, solver trying again 12:32 AM  

In life every action, or inaction for that matter, is a choice between good or evil, right or wrong, nobility or baseness, or bringing joy or sorrow to your fellow man. These choices should not be taken lightly as they make up, in their cumulative effect, the type of person you are, the lasting effect you leave in the world.

Mssrs Shortz and Reynolds today made a series of bad choices. First, they put PEABO in my face. Secondly, they confounded this by referencing Mr PEABO as "..singer Bryson". There is only one singer who should be referenced as ".. singer Bryson", that being Jeanie Bryson

Ardua Cole Mauritania 1:00 AM  

I didn't notice the trees touched the letters in FOREST till Rex pointed that out...so thankyou! That ads an extra wow to the construction.

And yes, FIG trees are not likely to be in a forest, but c'mon, these trees are planted right in the middle of the puzzle, straight up and down and strong.

I liked that they were all contained within a single word and not all "chopped" up.

And i liked the bleedover of SKY throughout this week, intentional or not.

Had ???????NIA for the African country...struggle as I didn't know MAURITANIA was in Africa, and misspelled it MAURaTANIA. So I learned something, along with that COLE guy...and that PEABO is not some Olympic skiier.

Is it ARBOR DAY today? No clue. It's like those obscure Jewish holidays that crop up npw and then.

chefwen 1:26 AM  

@Evan - Click on the date rather than print puzzle and download for play on Across Lite. Problem solved. You might have to download Across Lite first.

Loved the puzzle, was able to locate all my trees, even if the forest was in the way. I did have to feel a little sorry for the person who had to follow yesterday's gem puzzle.

Part time puzzle partner finally returning Friday to help me with the tough ones, if he's not too beat.

Evan 2:12 AM  


Thanks, I already knew about the Across Lite link. But I didn't like the idea of printing from there because my Across Lite printouts sometimes wouldn't show circled or shaded squares. I preferred the PDF version because that should show me exactly what it looks like in the dead-tree version.

At first I was also concerned that I couldn't control ink levels in Across Lite, but I just discovered that there's an easy fix to that in the Options menu.

Anoa Bob 2:14 AM  

That's a gnarly opening. PEABO? Really? Are you SNOWing me? "Prize ring?" for ROSES? I've heard of the Kentucky Derby being called the "Run for the roses", but aren't the roses for the winner shaped like a horseshoe, not a ring?

Lucky I got OBTRUDE, the lesser known verb cousin of the adjective "obtrusive". It helped that "unobtrusive" was part of my dissertation title.

Looking at the grid design and overall layout, I'm guessing it didn't happen IN A FLASH. Kudos to Mr. Reynolds for smoothly bringing all the disparate parts together. I wonder if during the construction he ever had a tinge of PANIC that it might not all work out.

Still perplexed over 39A OAR being clued "Something thrown over the side of a boat". I understand the "over the side of a boat" part---I have a rowboat and a nice pair of oars---but what's up with "throw"? Hmmmm, is that part of a sculling stroke? Pull and throw?

manitou 2:53 AM  


jae 2:57 AM  

Easy-medium and a bit of a let down after yesterday's. My main hang up was looking for the rebus which wasn't there...hence the let down. Also struggled with OBTRUDE and erased AdoRnED for AWARDED. PEABO was a gimme, I've seen him more than once in late week puzzles.

This was OK, I just was looking for a little more zip/ challenge.

@Andrea -- Short answer is no. Long answer is that it's the last Friday in April (yes, I looked it up).

@Evan & chefwen -- You can also save ink by using AcrossLite. Just click on Print Options and select lighter black squares.

Eejit 3:12 AM  

Seemed too easy for a Thursday. Didn't see the trees at all though, just the forest.

Anonymous 3:29 AM  

There are curtain figs ("strangler figs") in the rain forests of Australia. They are pretty impressive.

Acme 3:45 AM  

You're right! I saw them this summer...wild. They strangle the host tree...i was fascinated by them!!!
So now zero objection to this lovely little puzzle!

Anonymous 4:01 AM  

Date palm is the tree .. not simply date tree.
Seems a bit off ... like someone calling the oak tree an acorn tree.

Z 7:52 AM  

I never forgot PEABO since I never knew him(her?).

Hand up for AnA. I also had EMt then EvS before EMS. UMAMI is definitely a LFC for me and I'm still not quite clear on the concept. Throwing an OAR over the side seems a little hasty and ill-conceived to me. I also wondered how much of a "writer" AESOP actually is. Isn't he right there with Homer, the Brothers Grimm, and Mother Goose in the pantheon of the Oral Tradition "Writers."

Loren Muse Smith 8:29 AM  

I think this very elegant construction holds its own to yesterday’s. Again – I always like it when 1A and the last across are part of the theme as well. As soon as I saw FOREST (@Evan, I solve only on paper in Across Lite, and I have never not gotten any circles), I trusted that the trees would be right there, and they were, each one in each of the longest down answers. Nice.

I guess it would have been dastardly to remove the circles from FOREST, circle the trees instead, and highlight the saying “can’t see the FOREST for the TREES?”

@Rex – so often your remarks include some really funny, really clever things that I fail to note. Yesterday your TOY FRO, in my opinion, wins hands down. And your UMAMI/ Malkovich comment today is funny!

Due south was my foot hold, and with SOAKED UP and PANIC, I confidently filled in UMAMI and DEL MONICO, vaguely wondering how those were so accessible. They’re not necessarily crosswordese, right? (I always think UMAMI is the same as UMEBOSHI.)

GLIDES, NORDIC, SNOW, MUSH – I love winter!

I’m done with whining that MUSHers don’t actually yell MUSH (or obviously maybe I’m not done). Clearly *not* a career dogsledder, I have MUSHed (it’s certainly a verb) only in Alaska, Minnesota, and Canada. But I have yet to hear anyone yell MUSH. It’s always “hike!” I know – you can’t prove the negative, but still. A constructor assures me it’s valid because of the number of google hits it receives. I’m truly curious now – anyone who knows where they yell MUSH, please email me!

Andrew – I appreciate the subtle KRAFT of this construction. It doesn’t have to SNOW anyone with a lot of FLASH. Very, very nice.

PSS - O MAN - I keep seeing Japanese UNI next to UMAMI, with the origami’s stalwart CRANE! Ii desu, nee!

dk 8:29 AM  

Had some of the oft reported poor word choice problems. Enjoyed (oddly as did Rex) the puzzle and like Acme (my dove) once I saw FOREST crossing the TREES my eerie happiness went up by a star. Must be the Ents.

I get the paper and prefer to solve on the paper in ink (Stabilo Worker) but I echo the complaints over the "new format."Tried it yesterday on the iPad and wound up just linking it to Crosswords (Pad Ap) as the NYT method… sucked.

Rex, Thanks for the Stone Ponies. I saw them when they newly formed in San Francisco (Andrea you were 10). Just a great band.

🚖🚖🚖 (3 Yellow cabs) What I had before SEA.

Off to Moab today. Will try to post some pictures to Facebook if I can squeeze them in between Rex's posts (Does he ever work?)

Danp 8:29 AM  

I had to come here today to find out who Bagsky is and what conference he was part of. Now I feel kinda dumb.

John V 8:31 AM  

Only slow downs were at ROSS/SNOW and SE which was last to fall. Circled FOREST letters made it pretty obvious where to find the trees. Best parts were the long downs, e.g. INFIGHTING, CANDIDATES, REAPPEARS, INAFLASH, SOAKEDUP. Pretty easy for a Thursday.

On a different note, this will be my last post from Charlotte, as my team is moving to midtown Manhattan, after ten months of this commute. And, no more posts from USAirways LGA gate C38, sorry to say. For those who have been patiently awaiting the resumption of the "mileage" rating system (no hands up? really?), Monday comes soon enough.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

I have a GUM tree in my back yard

Unknown 8:46 AM  

First time solving with the new website app...did not like. Across Lite is much better, on the iPad anyway.

The puzzle was fun...not Thursday-challenging, but enjoyable. I completely missed the circled letters, too, and am impressed that all of the TREES make up the forest.

Ray Greenberg 8:50 AM  

I'm reading all over the internet that PSS is a mistake and PPS is correct. Of course I must be missing something since no one has brought it up. Educate me please.

joho 8:50 AM  

Oddly for me the hardest part was getting GUM. At first I thought Orbit and Eclipse were cars so I had Geo. EMS saved the day.

I always find it amazing to see how easily solvers criticize such thoughtful and expertly executed construction such as this! I mean, c'mon, we've got ARBOR/TREES plus F O R E S T and six trees growing in the F O R E S T that is so elegantly situated in the middle of the puzzle!

The long downs are exceptionally good, too.

Bravo, Andrew Reynolds!

Jim Walker 8:52 AM  

A nice puzzle but I have never chewed GUM so I thought Orbit and Eclipse were sUv and EVS were emergency vehicles. Slides works as well as glides. So a DNF for me today. Still had fun which is the point, isn't it?

Notsofast 9:16 AM  

GUM, or SWEET GUM is indeed an abundant tree. Not really liked here in North Carolina. A Medium puzzle for me. A good workout for my early-morning brain. Good job, Andrew!

jberg 9:26 AM  

I was so proud of myself for getting PEABO, but I just saw that I had an error - sLIDES, sUv, and EvS (figured they must be Emergency Vehicles). Boo-hoo. Nice puzzle, though - gotta like it with MAURETANIA in it. Basic geography, everyone should know it, but maybe "Ocean liner" would have been easier?

I thought PPS was a post-script to the post-script, but PSs is the plural to Post Script, which is what the clue asks for.

Jim Finder 9:33 AM  

No, PSS is not a mistake. In crossworld that's how someone would colloquially refer to addenda in letters as a class. Say, "I write letters with PSs [or PS's] in them."
On the other hand, in a given letter, if you've already written a PS (postscript), and then you add another addendum, its label would be PPS (post-postscript).

jackj 9:33 AM  

I believe ARBOR Day is celebrated in late April, that is unless it is headlining the NY Times crossword puzzle, then it is recognized whenever uber-editor Shortz says so; the whims of Enigmatologists being mysterious indeed.

But it doesn’t diminish the achievement of Andrew Reynolds who has cleverly planted six species in a F-O-R-E-S -T, buried nicely inside words of 10, 9 and 8 letters, hiding the likes of ASH, OAK, DATE and PEAR.

One does not usually look upon INFIGHTING or DELMONICO as tree bearing words but that’s part of the beauty of this puzzle’s cleverness when hiding two more of our subjects, FIG and ELM.

Many of the non-theme entries might have some solvers hoping the tough words are mangled into toothpicks as IRRELEVANT, OBTRUDE, BIGSKY, UMAMI, PEABO, CROOKS and MAURITANIA all serve to test the mettle of the humble tree hugger just trying to wade through the thicket of this FOREST to find Mr. Happy Pencil.

The puzzle’s hemlock moment came when “Moves effortlessly” could be SLIDE or GLIDE, but the down clue seemed to want SUV for “Orbit or Eclipse” until finally, when EMS became certain, it was a bit embarrassing to realize that it was just Andrew’s chaw that had GUM(med) up the works.

What a terrific effort from a constructor who has given the Times only one other puzzle which, in the world of the crossword arboretum, makes him but a seedling.

JFC 9:34 AM  

Re Rex’s point, this is an exchange I had with Andrew on Wordplay last night before Rex posted:

Can't see the forest for the trees.

Looking suave, John. That was the original ploy (tree letters were originally all circled), but that would have likely left people literally unable to see the FOREST, so a good decision by Will.

Thanks, Andrew. Always great to hear from the constructor. Cool concept. Will sort of changed it to: Can see the forest for the trees.

PS. My avatar was Peabo Bryson, not me, which I’m sure Andrew knew….


BookDeb 9:42 AM  

UMAMI has moved into more common use, though it did come from Japanese cuisine. It refers to the savory, meaty taste.

@Yogeshvara: PS stands for Post Script, so a second PS is PPS... Post post-script, rather than post script script. But I think here PSS is meant as post scripts. Don't know how often that would be correct usage.

Ed C 9:44 AM  

I was sure that "cry to a leading team" was RUSH. As in what you would scream to the head coach of a football team if his team was winning and you wanted to burn the clock with running plays.

chefbea 9:47 AM  

Got all the trees but couldn't see the forest. Still don't get Big sky.

@JohnV We'll miss you here in NC.

OISK 9:58 AM  

Nice puzzle, even if Peabo with ape (from Donkey Kong) was a natick for me. This has been an odd week for me; yesterday's wonderful Wednesday went down like a Tuesday, and Tuesday's awful (for me) puzzle was a Thursday. I found today's a lot of fun, caught the theme immediately, and didn't mind the unfamiliar pop culture references, such as Ross and Eleni. But Peabo??

The Big Sky is a conference in college sports, which is as easy for me as Peabo apparently is to Rex! And speaking of obscure Jewish holidays, today is Rosh Chodesh. Time for some Rikudim. (dancing)

Pete 10:04 AM  

Thanks to Sandy, I can no longer see the forest for the trees. That's because what was once a forest bordering my yard is no longer a forest. What was once my yard is now a graveyard for fallen trees. Nary a FIG among them.

My one time career goal was to be the guy sitting under a striped umbrella, collecting money for access to my pick-your-own strawberry patch. I figured earnings there would be that much sweeter, getting yuppies to pay a premium for strawberries for the opportunity to perform backbreaking work to do the harvest themselves. I tried to adapt this to my situation, opening a saw/split/haul your own firewood stand for only 20% above the going rate for firewood. I sat under striped umbrella in the cold for the past three days with nary a taker. There must be something about strawberries that doesn't translate to a different product.

JC66 10:06 AM  

The tree in STREEP stands out like a sore thumb, IMHO.

Milford 10:07 AM  

Liked this puzzle, seems like we have had a trend of down themes this week, with Sunday (Bottoms Up), Tuesday (Skyfall), and today.

Felt like a tricky puzzle, but my time was fairly fast for a Thursday. Last to fill in was the Doug ROSS area up top. Fun entries were YES DEAR, IRRELEVANT, and DELMONICO. Saw the FOREST before the individual TREES.

My kids are GUM addicts, so I am very aware of Orbit and Eclipse.

GILL I. 10:22 AM  

I'd pick "odd" as the adjective to describe my puzzle feelings.
I got the ARBOR and the FOREST and all the trees but, like @Rex, I had lots of starts and stops.
I loooked up OBTRUDE and I got this example "I felt unable to OBTRUDE my sorrow upon anyone." Wow, do people say things like that?
My mom was in love with George Clooney and watched ER all the time so ROSS just slid on in.
I haven't seen a DELMONICO steak on a menu since the 70's and if my husband said YES DEAR to me I'd clobber him INAFLASH.
Didn't know PEABO but I think it's a cool name.

quilter1 10:22 AM  

Orbit was Mom's favorite GUM. Caw before COO. I solved from the bottom up and filled in STREEP last. I misrememberd Thatcher being played by Helen Mirren, which fits, but of course is wrong. She played the Queen. Where is Judy Dench when you need her? I print out the Acrosslite puzzle and did not get the circles so the blog explains everything.

Two Ponies 10:42 AM  

I thought this was a terrific puzzle. I love that each letter of forest is part of each tree.
No idea who Peabo is.
I, too, spotted the gum tree (I have several in my yard).
That and the lame PSs were the only flaws for me.
Thanks Andrew, good one.

Carola 10:49 AM  

Getting to write in MAURITANIA and DELMONICO made the puzzle for me, beyond the elegant construction. Seeing the FOREST after getting a couple of the circled letters helped me get IN A FLASH and correct EMt.

Me, too, on being FOILED by the APE/PEABO cross and having chewing GUM confused with SUVs for a very long time.

It's cute that the center line across begins and ends with a partial German goodbye and hello: AUF Wiedersehen and Guten TAG.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:17 AM  

There is a story behind my difficulty with 35 A, which asks us to complete "Per ARDUA ad astra."

Writing my eighth grade valedictorian speech, I included the phrase "Per aspera ad astra," which is an equally valid Latin motto sometimes rendered as "Through bars to the stars."

But I had done this based entirely upon my reading, and in giving the speech I pronounced "ad" as "add." The next year I took Latin in school for the first time, and ever since I have been haunted that my pronunciation should have been more like "odd."

Otherwise, nice clever puzzle.

lawprof 11:35 AM  

I thought this puzzle was elegant (a term used by others today), with the theme answers growing straight up out of the forest. Oddly, I finished in what was probably my fastest time ever for a Thursday, but sussing out the theme answers took longer than the puzzle itself.

I got off on the wrong track by assuming that "tree" was the hidden word, the assumption being reinforced by the low-hanging fruit in STREEP (20A). But the only other tree I found was in the revealer itself (71A). I went through the entire grid to find the T's, follow them across or down, but found no more trees. Only then did it occur to me that the theme answers were species of trees and then it all fell into place, albeit slowly.

My question for those of you who regularly time yourselves: do you stop the clock when you finish the grid? or only when you finish and "get" the theme?

Gareth Bain 11:41 AM  

The forests here have lots of fig trees but none of the others... Where else would you expect to find a fig tree???

Two Ponies 12:01 PM  

@ lawprof,
I don't time myself, but on a related topic, if I finish the grid correctly but can't figure out the trick it's a personal DNF.

Evan 12:33 PM  


I stop the clock when a) I finish the grid, and b) I'm finished checking over my answers. I treat it like I would at a crossword tournament -- the clock stops when I decide to turn the puzzle in. Whether or not I understand the theme is irrelevant if I fill in a perfect grid anyway (though it almost certainly helps cut down on my solving time).

Rex Parker 1:29 PM  


In an orchard. Or my backyard.


Not so bright guy 1:38 PM  

I'm not up on my African countries, so forgive me for a dumb question, but is MAURATANIA in any way associated with that minuscule island off Madagascar, LESSATANIA?

AnnieD 1:46 PM  

Is there any place to give the times feedback on the new app? I really don't like it...if I mistype and want to change the letter, out of habit, I will hit the dele key and then it deletes the entire puzzle! I HATE that!

mac 1:46 PM  

Clever and well-thought out puzzle. I had the hardest time recognizing "candidates", how quickly I forgot....

Noticed S(tree)p and wanted caw for coo as well. Umami was easy, I just ordered some little tubes for stocking stuffers. Lots of foodies in our family. I'm keeping one.

Bird 2:03 PM  

Nice puzzle from Andrew Reynolds. As others did, I wondered if today is Arbor Day? Struggled here and there with spellings and a couple IDK (I Don’t Know), but finished without an error. Only write-over was ADD TO before ADD ON. I liked all the long downs and how the multiple-Oscar-winner STREEP is next to AWARDED.

Nits – Majors at 24A should be capitalized. PSS is not pretty (PPS is better, but then what do you do with FALLP?). I don’t associate FIG, DATE and PEAR trees with FORESTS – they grow in groves, orchards and backyards? I don’t throw my OARS over the side of the boat. STREEP and GUM do not belong in this grid. A MATADOR is a hero?

chefbea 2:15 PM  

@Annie D I sent 2 e-mails to complain about the new format. I think I found the address at the bottom of the xword page where I printed the puzzle. I'll check tomorrow.

acme 2:27 PM  

Strangely, the person I was mistaking PEABO Bryson for was Picabo sTREEt!
Between her and Meryl, maybe a puzzle there!

Still don't get why Will didn't hold off till April for this puzzle which would have made it even MORE elegant!
ARBOR Day was a Friday this year and a Friday next.

Maybe he didn't want the constructor to have to wait six months to see his work published??

HA! Kidding!

Too funny! Off to dance!

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

@Bird - re 24A Major Championships is capitalized, majors is not.

Bird 3:36 PM  

@Anon3:17 - Thanks, but the US Open is a Major Championship. That's why I called foul.

Anon 3:17 4:08 PM  

@Bird Yes, the US Open is a Major Championship. It is one of the majors. "Major Championship" is a proper noun, whereas majors is not. At least the PGA, and all reputable publications, seems to think so.

miriam b 4:43 PM  

@Bird: I agree with all your nits, particularly as concerns MATADOR. I'm reminded of the Tom Lehrer classic, In Old Mexico. Some of it is nonPC, sorry to say, bu, you now, it's Lehrer.

When it's fiesta time in Guadalajara,
Then I long to be back once again
In Old Mexico.
Where we lived for today,
Never giving a thought to tomara.
To the strumming of guitars,
In a hundred grubby bars
I would whisper "Te amo."

The mariachis would serenade,
And they would not shut up till they were paid.
We ate, we drank, and we were merry,
And we got typhoid and dysentery.

But best of all, we went to the Plaza de Toros.
Now whenever I start feeling morose,
I revive by recalling that scene.
And names like Belmonte, Dominguin, and Manolete,
If I live to a hundred and eighty,
I shall never forget what they mean.

(For there is surely nothing more beautiful in this
world than the sight of a lone man facing singlehandedly
a half a ton of angry pot roast!)

Out came the matador,
Who must have been potted or
Slightly insane, but who looked rather bored.
Then the picadors of course,
Each one on his horse,
I shouted "Ole!" ev'ry time one was gored.

I cheered at the bandilleros' display,
As they stuck the bull in their own clever way,
For I hadn't had so much fun since the day
My brother's dog Rover
Got run over.

(Rover was killed by a Pontiac. And it was done with
such grace and artistry that the witnesses awarded the
driver both ears and the tail - but I digress.)

The moment had come,
I swallowed my gum,
We knew there'd be blood on the sand pretty soon.
The crowd held its breath,
Hoping that death
Would brighten an otherwise dull afternoon.

At last, the matador did what we wanted him to.
He raised his sword and his aim was true.
In that moment of truth I suddenly knew
That someone had stolen my wallet.

Now it's fiesta time in Akron, Ohio,
But it's back to old Guadalajara I'm longing to go.
Far away from the strikes of the A.F. of L. and C.I.O.
How I wish I could get back
To the land of the wetback,
And forget the Alamo,
In Old Mexico. Ole!

sanfranman59 4:46 PM  

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

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

Thu 13:30, 18:47, 0.72, 7%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 7:46, 9:23, 0.83, 22%, Easy-Medium

Bird 4:55 PM  

@miriam b - Very good. I think Jimmy Buffett borrowed some of that for a song or two.

@AQnon3:17 - Point taken. But I still think it should be capitalized for a puzzle. Then again it is Thursday so there must be some degree of difficulty.

That's 3. Ciao.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 5:52 PM  

@sanfrandude: Thanx for still doing the stats, even tho working with an increasingly weird sample base. Actually, easy or medium sounds about right, anyhoo. thUmbsUp to you, dude.
I feel lucky that the U-count doesn't seem to get messed up by newspaper policies. Does sometimes get messed up, because no U's in SKY, or tree names, etc. (PLUM, anyone? ULM? Or at least throw old M&A a bone, with a YEW?)

M&A wotd: UMAMI - The source of all baby U's.

acme 8:03 PM  

new theme song as you come out to chat with Letterman..."It Had to be Yew"

lymank 9:03 PM  

I'm still having trouble with the new format. I've written to the NYT but haven't received a satisfactory answer. I'm unable ot use the Play Against the Clock option. Doesn't matter whether I click on today's date, or on the Play button just to the right of that.
Surely others out there are having similar trouble? Help!

sanfranman59 10:32 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 6:17, 6:46, 0.93, 23%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:44, 8:58, 0.97, 50%, Medium
Wed 12:49, 11:49, 1.08, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 13:29, 18:47, 0.72, 7%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:43, 3:41, 1.01, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:06, 4:41, 1.09, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 7:01, 5:57, 1.18, 89%, Challenging
Thu 7:12, 9:23, 0.77, 17%, Medium

@lymank ... so far, so good for me with the new format. I've been able to play against the clock both days. Have you tried logging out and then clearing your browser cache and cookies? Maybe that will help? Also, are you sure you've got the latest version of Java for your browser? What happens when you click "Play Against the Clock"?

snegu 10:13 PM  

@lymank, are you using Chrome? I'm having the same problem, and when I updated my Java and tried to install the plugin on the NYT page, it tells me it won't work with Chrome. Very frustrating.

NM Robin 11:30 AM  

A good puzzle.

I found it easy. Had almost the same slowdowns as @Rex except for SOAKEDUP and UMAMI.

Thank you Mr Reynolds.

Spacecraft 12:17 PM  

Let's hear it for COLE Hamels, the hero who made it possible for our beloved Harry Kalas to cry "The Phillies are 2008 world champions of baseball!", and so have a beautiful memory to carry to his too-early grave.

If you're guessing I'm gonna thumbs-up this baby, you are right on. First of all our TREES are standing tall and straight--and are evenly spaced to allow for growth! I enjoy neat little theme endcaps, at first and last across where they should be. The fact that the circled letters spell out FOREST is like a scoop of ice cream on my CHERRY or APPLE pie (PEAR pie? DATE pie? Nah).

Never noticed the tree in STREEP till I came here. Marvelous long downs--both in and out of theme territory--highlight this goody. Only writeover: EMt for EMS. Favorite entry (besides, of course, COLE): YESDEAR, which I define as the two words said together most often by men after saying "I do." WOTD for me: UMAMI. Really? It filled in on crosses, but I let it stand with much apprehension. Wow, that's really a word. Who knew?

And if I had no other reason to vote YEA on this one: Andrew is my son's name.

Dirigonzo 3:32 PM  

If I never see another reference to NRA in a puzzle it will be too soon, but I do think it's macabrely ironic that today it crosses DEAD. Make of it what you will.

Waxy in Montreal 4:36 PM  

Given the tree theme, might have been fun to clew KRAFT as a type of paper instead of the owners of a wiener company. Excellent Thursday puzzle with a crisp well-constructed theme, thankfully even trending easy when time for puzzle-solving is at a premium.

@Diri, with you 100% on your NRA comment.

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