New York City suburb near Yonkers / MON 11-19-12 / 1980 Kool Gang Hit / Like bialys lyonnaise sauce / Pharmaceutical giant that makes Tamiflu / Spanish doubloon material / Janis's spouse in comics

Monday, November 19, 2012

Constructor: Paul Guttormsson

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: CHOCK-A-BLOCK — theme answers all have first syllable ending "-CK" and second syllable "A"

Theme answers:
  • 16A: "My little ___" (W. C. Fields phrase) (CHICKADEE)
  • 24A: Broncobuster (BUCKAROO)
  • 51A: New York City suburb near Yonkers (TUCKAHOE)
  • 62A: "I Heart ___" (2004 film) ("HUCKABEE'S")
  • 23D: Nutso (COCKAMAMIE)
  • 15D: Early Elvis Presley style (ROCKABILLY)

Word of the Day: TUCKAHOE (51A: New York City suburb near Yonkers) —
Tuckahoe is a village in the town of Eastchester in Westchester CountyNew YorkUnited States. As of the 2010 census, the village's population was 6,486. [Is that a new low for "tiny place that has no business being in a crossword"?]
• • •

Really enjoyed this one despite TUCKAHOE's being today's CECILIAANDROBBIE (see yesterday's puzzle for that one).  This has a "We don't need no stinkin' theme" quality about it, in that the theme feels very thin, conceptually, but in practice it's a slew of bouncy, entertaining words, and I really can't ask for much more on a Monday. Took about 20% longer to complete than a normal Monday puzzle, partly because of HAR HAR for HEH HEH (hate those "laugh syllable" clues because they're always ambiguous), partly because of not knowing ROCHE (4D: Pharmaceutical giant that makes Tamiflu), somewhat more partly because of TUCKAHOE, but generally (probably) just because of the theme density. Oh, and also because I don't closely associate Toyota and SCION (or, rather, because I was thinking "model" and not "make") (33A: Toyota make).

Also adding potential difficulty to the puzzle: the clue on SENECA is not going to be a straight-up gimme for most people, though the name itself should be reasonably familiar (22A: Roman philosopher who originated the phrase "What fools these mortals be"). Also, because of &$^%ing TUCKAHOE, I had trouble picking up the 1980 Kool & the Gang hit (a mistake / hesitation like that is very depressing to me, as it doesn't get much closer to the Rex Parker pop cultural sweet spot than [1980 Kool & the Gang hit]). I didn't know there was such a thing as an "evolutionary ladder," so my brain transformed it to "food ladder" (or "food chain," I guess), which made APE something of a surprise. I was thinking maybe SHARK? "Doubloon" always makes me think of the Brasher Doubloon, the missing coin at the center of the Raymond Chandler novel "The High Window" (65A: Spanish doubloon material => ORO). There is a film noir adaptation of that novel from the late '40s called "The Brasher Doubloon." Thus concludes today's doubloon lesson.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Chris "Knuckles" Nilan 12:13 AM  

As a founding member of the Canada Kicks Ass association, i.e. the NHL circa 1970, I heartily endorse this puzzle.

Tobias Duncan 12:29 AM  

Oh come on this was almost a Tuesday!

The great thing about this puzzle is it helped me solve the insanely difficult(this week anyway) NPR Sunday challenge which I worked on much of the day.

Acadia Chickadee Meetups 12:45 AM  

As the ever widening chasm grows, I'd have to say this was all over the place for me!

Loved CHICKADEE and BUCKAROO and is HUCKABEEs didn't have that final S and if it were TUCKAHOo and one left out LACKADAISICAL I'd have said this was the best puzzle EVER!

Oh my god, I've just realized ROCKABILLY and COCKAMAMIE are there too. Again I'd have liked it to be COCKAMAMeE somehow, and ROCKABILLee.

As it stands, the inconsistencies drove me crazy, so it seemed like a rhyming puzzle which normally is told it's not enough.

Internal CKA super surprises me that it qualified as a theme...and surprises me more that @Rex wouldn't shred it apart, but I'm glad he didn't.

So again I'd say, leave out LACKADAISICAL and it actually improves the puzzle, in my opinion.
Because then the theme is ??CKA + double letter sound.

However, HOTLY and TOOHOT should also not have happened.
If you change HOTLY to something else you lose NAH, ICI/ICY and the double HOT

chefwen 1:06 AM  

I finished my copy and it wasn't your typical walk in the park Monday. Spelling LACKADAISICAL was kinda a road block for me. 41D bid 41A Barts, wrong! 43A OLD fixed that. Part time puzzle partner threw in the towel halfway through. Asked him if he wanted to see the finished product. @Tita is going to like this one. He looked at 52D and said "since when is a wAZOO a musical instrument"? Head slap, no, no, no, I meant KAZOO. Color me red.

Anoa Bob 1:27 AM  

Never heard of TUCKAHOE (neither has spell check) but have been to TAHOE.

Two days in a row, the puzzle is getting a little COCKy. HEH HEH. On a STREAK? NAH.

If the answer is ONE LB, shouldn't the clue be "Sixteen oz." rather than "16 oz."? (7D)

Don't mean to PILE ON, but the idea of a "ladder" leading inexorably upward---with us at the top of course--- is anathema to modern evolutionary biology.

fvigeland 1:38 AM  

I live in Tuckahoe!!!!!!! So I will defend to death its right to crosswordom!!!!!

(But for real, it's actually a thing: setting of Maude and is also the site of one of the most important marble quarries—Tuckahoe marble makes up the Washington Square Arch, Federal Hall in NY, and St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Davis 2:07 AM  

Fun puzzle, but I have to take issue with "evolutionary ladder." This is exactly the *wrong* metaphor for evolution. I won't belabor the point (run a Google search for the term and you'll find a hundred pages discussing the issue), but I am continually frustrated by the fast-and-loose treatment of science and scientific concepts in the NY Times puzzles. (Another recent example was a misunderstanding of what COSMOLOGISTs do.) I know constructors and editors are mostly humanities folks, but in the age of Google there's really no excuse for this sort of shoddy clue-fact-checking.

Ellen S 2:57 AM  

@anoa Bob, @davis, don't worry so much about crossword puzzles playing fast and loos with principles of modern science. They mess with history, mythology, orthography and vocabulary.

Many years ago there used to be clues, "supplement," for which the answer was, "eke out." Now, "eke out" is clued as "makes do" and people who read novels from Austen to Alcott have no idea what is going on when a family "ekes out a meager living making cut-paper cards," for instance.

All these people are not "making do." In fact sometimes they are barely surviving, supplementing the pitiful remnants of their investments in the British Empire with labor in some kind of cottage industry.

But you don't see me complaining when the degradation of our language distorts our ability to understand our history, do you? What difference does it make as long as we humans are on top of rhe evolutionary ladder...

Ellen S 3:00 AM  

Oops, I meant "fast and loose."

jae 4:29 AM  

So last Tues.'s SKY falling is thin and not OK, but this is thin and fine? Not sure I follow. This was on the tough side for me also. Other than that, what Andrea said. Seriously, she did a fine job of articulating my issues with this one.

jackj 7:50 AM  

Any puzzle that features the words COCKAMAMIE and LACKADAISICAL in its theme is fine by me and signals what can best be described as a surprisingly sophisticated Monday puzzle.

Some of the cluing that adds to this sense of the puzzle includes STREAK, clued as “Winning or losing series”, lyonnaise sauce referring us to ONIONY and a happy trio of “A” tailing words, SENECA, AMMONIA and ACADIA and the quality begins to shine through.

As a passionate fan of professional ice hockey, it was painful to be reminded by the “Blackhawks org” clue that the NHL is still involved in a lengthy work stoppage/lockout and then mentioning the TD Garden, the ARENA where the Boston Bruins would/should be playing their home games, rubs an extra bit of salt in the unstitched wound.

No matter, with the likes of Paul Guttormsson filling the gap, that too shall pass.

Thanks, Paul G!

Z 7:53 AM  

SCIONs are just about the ugliest vehicles of the 21st century, looking like nothing more than boxes on wheels.

The Henry Ford (they dropped "Museum" from their name a few years ago) has a LEGOS exhibit right now. I'm hoping to see it Wednesday with my home for Thanksgiving sons.

Puzzle took me a full 40% longer than my usual Mondays, so flat out challenging. TUCKAHOE had to be entered one letter at a time from the crosses. I had to fix OHno at the end because I was pretty sure ONInNY and ROCoE were wrong.

The APE clue is the equivalent of cluing "earth" as the center of the universe. I think it was Stephan Jay Gould who described scientific advancement as a series of discoveries knocking humans off their self-perceived pedestal at the center (or top) of the world. @Ellen S - This is not the same as cluing "eke out" by it's modern usage rather than a century old usage.

Rex Parker 7:53 AM  


SKY falling is about as thin as it gets. This puzzle, for instance, has Half Its Answers "falling." So did yesterday's. So will tomorrow's. Simply running your theme answers down is Not A Theme.


John V 8:01 AM  

A 7 miler, Stamford to Port Chester, pretty typical Monday. Fun words, Tuckahoe easy here. I was born in Lackawanna so thanks for that, @Rex. Theme okay for Monday.

Loren Muse Smith 8:06 AM  

I agree with @Andrea that LACKADAISICAL is terrific. And like @Andrea and @Jae I agree that all theme entries ending with A_Consonant VowelX VowelX to match BUCKAROO and CHICKADEE would have been really, really cool, and the fact that even though they’re the only *two out of seven* that end this way, the pull is still there to want such a pattern is illuminating. (Say that again??)

I think the examples, though, feel similar enough to support this theme. Their CKA’s all share a playful feel that is not present in phrases like “paCKAge store,” “DiCK And Jane,” or “siCK As a dog.” The A’s in the puzzle almost feel like spoken, made-up hyphens.

Somehow KAZOO feels like it’s trying to worm its way in to the theme, too? And I personally like the triple doubles LULU, HEH HEH, and OH OH.

I really, really appreciate that each down theme crosses with *two* across themes!!!!! Yeah!

But the thing I keep revisiting is something @Anoa Bob gently turned our attention to:

TAHOE = TUCKAHOE minus the UCK. Wow. I can’t let this one go!

“care packages” – care pages
“has a whack at” = has a what
Andrea – you in?

ROCKABILLY – This clip is of a guy I met when he took Atlanta by storm back in the late 70s, early 80s. I was cocktailing in a restaurant when he and a friend came in one afternoon at about 5:30. All of the sudden he started playing a piano that we had rented for New Year’s Eve. Cooks came out of the kitchen, diners came out of the dining room . . .he was really fun. ! (From Arkansas, he played at the White House for Clinton.)

Thanks, Paul. I enjoyed this. Do you have a designer breed dog, Jackapoo?

Milford 8:13 AM  

Not your average Monday, for sure. The theme is a little hard to describe, as noted. Plus, I don't think I've had to ever think of the "proper" spelling of LACKADAISICAL or COCKAMAMIE. I feel like maybe whackamole got left out, though.

Fun puzzle overall, with words like MENSA, PONZI, and ONIONY. Knew ROCHE from lab research on a drug trial. Feels like KAZOO was trying to be a theme answer, maybe?

Really thought the eyelashes are what get batted, via the EYELIDs. Batting ones EYELIDs doesn't sound flirty at all,

And yes, like @Anoa Bob, I noticed the mini theme this week being COCKy. Hope they can keep this going all week.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:19 AM  

Another theme a shade too subtle for me -- got the "CK", missed the "A".

ROCHE was until recently a major employer in a town very near me, but they are moving away.

For absolutely no good reason, 56 A makes me want to ask, Whom did the cleaning people at the Pyramids worship? Ammonia Ra.

joho 8:39 AM  

I loved all the fun fresh words created by the CKA theme but had the same problem as @Acadia Chickadee Meetups, @loren muse smith and @jae making sense of it.

First I made a list of: CHICK, BUCK, LACK, TUCK, HUCK, COCK & ROCK. Then: DEE, ROO, DAISICAL, HOE, BEES, MAMIE, BILLY. DAISICAL, MAMIE and the plural BEES really stick out. Or you can just list the vowels in the first word: IUAUUOO or the second word: EOAOEAI. Gibberish!

Finally I concluded that the theme was CK for Calvin Klein and we must be celebrating his birthday!

Milford 8:42 AM  

@Loren - jinx, buy me a coke, on the KAZOO as a theme. I type really slow, I guess!

@Z - thanks for the LEGO exhibit info. Might have to check that one out during one of the kids' breaks.

mac 8:43 AM  

Yes, a little hard for a Monday, and also a little inconsistent, but I enjoyed seeing all these funny words together.

I always want to put an extra s in lackadaisical, for a moment even thought it was laxadaisical. Had already put an s at the bottom of 40D, but "streak" appeared easily.

Fun start of the week.

Evan 8:45 AM  

Definitely tougher than a normal Monday. Excepting theme entries, I usually don't skip over more than one or two clues on a Monday. It's almost always easy enough to get each filler answer right on the first pass or by working out the crossing entry. But today, I skipped over a bunch of them: The clues for SOD, OPEL, LULU, ACDC (went with ABBA first), HOTLY, TOO HOT, and STREAK all forced me to skip them and come back. I did the same for A HORA too, but I got it back pretty quickly after working out ARK and ROCHE.

I dread the feeling whenever I get a five-letter word for "harden" or "accustom" knowing that it's either INURE or ENURE and you just have to work it out from the cross. Crossing it with TUCKAHOE is slightly evil -- only slightly because TUCKAHOI just didn't sound like it belonged in New York.

@acme's point about doubling HOT is well-taken. I'd add that I'm not crazy about SCI crossing SCION. Other than that, I'm impressed with the theme density -- 7 theme entries taking up 63 squares of real estate, without compromising the fill too much to do it.

joho 8:48 AM  

OMG I just just Googled and it IS Calvin Klein's birthday today, his 70th! I got the theme!!!!!

orangeblossomspecial 9:09 AM  

Here is a cute version of 24A 'My little buckaroo'.

15D Elvis with the Jordanaires in rockabilly style.

Can't look at 59D without recalling the immortal 'Harper Valley PTA'.

jberg 9:16 AM  

I took LACKADAISICAL as the constructor's self-characterization of his approach to the theme; @joho, I'd be more convinced if there was SOME reference to Calvin Klein (or winemaker Charles Krug? When was his birthday?) in the puzzle. Or if it really did have jackapoo, which would fit better.

But whatever you think of TUCKAHOE, "New York City suburb near Yonkers" is one of the all-time great clues! Though still not as good as "perform cosmetic surgery on a garden implement?" would have been.

I thought it was easier than most, but a) I don't time it, and b) I know enough Spanish to make AHORA a gimme. Otherwise, it's tough to start right off with a foreign word.

chefbea 9:20 AM  

I agree..tough for a monday. Amazing that this is in honor of Calvin Klein!!!

Knew Tuckahoe - have a friend who use to live there. And of course the Gateway Arch

WA 9:20 AM  

I am usually many steps behind the herd, in danger of being the prey of some predator, but for some reason I bereezed through this puzzle. Was Louie C. K. arrested to inspire this?

Sfingi 9:24 AM  

Oh ..There was Johnny McAdoo and McGee and me, and a coupla 2 or 3 went on a spree one day.

Crazy puzzle!

John V 10:13 AM  

Nobody wants, "Kiss a bad girl good night" for TUCKAHOE? No one? Really?

Carola 10:19 AM  

Smiles all the way on this one - thought it was very original and a little goofy.

Liked the temperature range from TOO HOT to EMBER to ICY (with those two stacked) and the TENOR being ON KEY. Wished the far right stack could have been SkY OER ODESSA.

@fvigeland - Thanks for the interesting lore about TUCKAHOE.

@Milford - LOL at Whack-A-Mole and right on about the eyelashes.

Carola 10:35 AM  

@acme - At first - after maybe 3 theme answers - I was also a little put off when I saw the LACKADAISICAL approach to theme consistency. But in the end this COCKAMAMIE aspect made me laugh. Maybe a little joke from the constructor?

Evan 10:39 AM  

@Milford and @Carola:

I believe it's spelled WHAC-A-MOLE. No K.

Matthew G. 11:01 AM  

One of my favorite Mondays in quite some time. And I agree that it was on the challenging side for a Monday. I knew all the hard Ks would bring out Rex's effusive side.

The Erie-Lackawanna photo Rex posted is of the Hudson River ferry dock behind the Hoboken, New Jersey, railroad station. I used to board the ferry there regularly.

Ellen S 11:25 AM  

@z I confess that I irrationally cling to old spellings and usages -- never accepted "Cape Kennedy" and was relieved when they changed it back to Cape Canaveral. Highly resistant to the practice of selling the names of sports arenas. ...Iffy on Istanbul. (okay, no, just kidding about that.) And I didn't want Volgograd to leap backwards two names to Tsaritsyn. And I am an admirer of Stephen Jay Gould, while increasingly skeptical about even the concept of "scientific advancement" -- I think Gould was also aware of the politicized nature of scientific research and conclusions. The whole "margarine is healthier than butter -- oh, oops we never actually checked" thing really finished it for me. I see my doctor regularly, submitted to the recommended barbaric treatment for my breast cancer, but trust that my doctor knows what he's doing? -- nah.

But to return to the topic, years of yelling at seemingly arbitrary "alternate spellings" ("erne" either does or doesn't have a terminal "e" depending on the needs of the grid, and that's the least worst) have worn me down to an acceptance of a Crossworld Universe that is not the same as the Real World. In this alternate universe, humans (or "Man") is at the top of the "evolutionary ladder", and miners head off to the "adit" every morning.

Tita 11:58 AM  

@chefwen - lol! I have added yours to my hall of fame - thanks!

@fvigeland - thanks for my learning moment of the day...I was born in New Rochelle, so I know Tuckahoe... well, as a place that exists, but didn't know about the quarry.

Theme was fun - those are great words. Might not be in the top 10 Mondays, but fun. Who doesn't love COCKAMAMIE?!

Anyone else having trouble with follow-up comments no longer being sent?

@JohnV - hooray for the return of the MetroNorth Standard of Difficulty gauge!
Maybe @SanFranMan should factor it into his algorithm!!

Notsofast 12:01 PM  

Mondays need fun puzzles. Like this one. A breeze. Also, I think it's WAK-A-MOLE.

Sandy K 12:07 PM  

Not your usual Monday-easy-HUCKABEESy
puzzle, esp if you're solving for speed.

But since I do it LACKADAISICALly and for fun, I enjoyed the COCKAMAMIE answers.


Jes Wondrin' 12:39 PM  

So, evolutionists don't believe that change is incremental, one step at a time? They believe it's equally likely for an advanced organism to arise from a slightly less advanced organism as it is from a protozoa? Or that we were created exactly as we are?

PS: Dear Blogger - you suck in so many ways. If you're going to make the captchas impossible, fine, but at least reposition the screen back to where it tells you that you are, in fact, a robot when I can't prove otherwise.

Two Ponies 12:53 PM  

Yes, rather crunchy for a Monday but for me that's a good thing.
I agree with @mac that laxsadaisical seems more like it.
Truly never heard of Tuckahoe.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 12:55 PM  

Day-um. An opening 5x6 grid corner in a MonPuz. Opener word in Sp. Tends to keep the riff-raff out.

Love ROCKABILLY. That Sun Studio cranked out a lot of great rockabillies, back when Elvis was gettin' started. Carl Perkins. Jerry Lee Lewis. Johnny Cash. Billy the Kid Emerson. Last dude sang "My gal is Red Hot, your gal ain't doodly-squat". Don't make 'em like that, anymo. But maybe that's why the constructor threw in extra hots.

7 long themers. In the MonPuz. That rattlin' sound you hear is M&A shaking his head in dis-belief.

I'm with you, @31. Prefer yer solid "har" to yer wimpy "heh". har.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Walter and Maude Findlay lived in Tuckahoe.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:13 PM  

@Jes Wondrin" - Given that (a) I'm not sure against whom you are fulminating and that (b) I'm not much more versed in evolution than the average citizen, I would say, Yes, evolutionists do believe that change is incremental, but they also believe that any single mutation (i.e., incremental change) is as likely or probably even more likely to be harmful rather than helpful, and that therefore evolution is not some straightforward advancement up a metaphorical ladder, but a matter of chance that has led us to where we are mainly because the changes we would deem harmful have caused their carriers to die off.

(Someone else has probably phrased this better and posted while I am hunting-and-pecking to type this out!)

Marc 1:28 PM  

I only knew Tuckahoe because of one episode of How I Met Your Mother where Marshall becomes a lawyer whose sole customer to defend is an amusement park called Tuckahoe Funland.

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

"So, evolutionists don't believe that change is incremental, one step at a time? They believe it's equally likely for an advanced organism to arise from a slightly less advanced organism as it is from a protozoa? Or that we were created exactly as we are?"

Jes Wondrin: evolutuionary biologists do in fact believe that change is incremental. They do not believe it is equally likely for an ape to arise from a protozoa than it is for an ape to arise from another mammal (notice I deliberately avoided using the word "advanced.")

The phenomenon you describe is quite simple: protozoa appeared before small mammals, which in turn appeared before apes. This does not describe an evolutionary ladder. This is an evolutionary timeline. A ladder runs up and down and usually implies or even says something explicitly about those elements on the top of the ladder and those on the bottom. A timeline runs up, or down, left to right or even right to left if you feel like defying English conventions, and doesn't say anything except that something happened after something else. A sabre-toothed tiger, for instance, appears later than a crocodile on an evolutionary timeline, but you would be foolish to assume anything about the the STT's evolutionary fitness compared to the crocodile based on its position on the timeline.

Long story short: apes appeared relatively recently on this planet. this does not imply anything about apes being more "advanced," "sophisticated," or higher on an imaginary evolutionary ladder.

Z 1:55 PM  

@Ellen S- Wow.

I don't disagree, especially on the whole margarine/butter thing. There is a difference, though, between what was once thought correct but we now know is wrong, and language, which is constantly changing. Just today we see thy, which I have only ever seen in KJ bibles and crosswords.

Acme 2:18 PM  

Wow!!!!!! did you nail the theme that it's a tribute to Calvin Klein's 70th??!
You could be right but that would realllly be on top of things considering we had an ARBOR day puzzle this month too and that's in April!

My guess till we hear from the constructor is that it was synchronicitous...
Because as M&A pointed out, no way was this originally designed as a Monday what with seven long long themes, first word en espanol, obscure NY town, etc.

And maybe @rex still loves them Ks...
But my guess is that this was a crazy hodge podge, Tu/Wednesday- esque grid, semi Monday theme ( maybe the CKs were circled?), inconsistencies too minor to rewrite such a challenging grid...but fun enough to just throw it out there and see who's in?

A COCKAMAMIE puzzle indeed, but in a good fresh way!

Bird 2:22 PM  

I like this puzzle and for me it was easy with nary a hang-up as all the crosses filled in the blanks. Something about the CKA words makes me smile, especially CHICK-A-DEE. Also appreciate the themes crossing each other.

Only nit, and it is minor, is the word BITER. Never heard it before, but I’m sure it’s used somewhere by dog owners, pet shop owners and victims of dog attacks.

Gotta wonder though if Paul Guttormsson took some liberty in spelling so that the grid was not totally &$^%ed up. Is that the proper spelling of LACKADAISICAL or are there variations? What about COCKAMAMIE?

@acme – Never noticed the double HOT. Oops.

@Z – Thanks for the heads up on the LEGO exhibit. My kids love LEGOS and my mother still has mine, most of which were purchased in Denmark on visits to my grandparents.

@Milford – My wife bats her EYELASHES.

Ellen S 2:42 PM  

@Z, "Thy" is a crossword word? "Junior, go meet THY father at the ADIT when he gets off work coal-mining; give him this ALOE to clean his hands." (I know there really is Aloe, but it is so versatile in crosswords, so many uses and so different in appearance depending on need.)

@Jes Wondrin - Thou hast mistooken newer for better. During the Nixon administration, Mort Sahl said, "If you look at US presidents from George Washington to the present day, you'll stop believing in evolution." I kinda noticed the same thing with the Adams family, from John and John Quincey to Sherman. And they really were descended. Also, Robert->Nathaniel->Peter Benchley. Devolution.

But no, no @Jes, I'm not claiming evolution takes place in three generations. Only that we are not even at the apex of our own ladder, let alone some imaginary universal one. The fact that humans are the only animals who spend hours not only solving but blogging about crossword puzzles should put an end to all thought that we are somehow "higher" than all the other life forms.

joho 3:05 PM  

@Andrea, I wrote in the margin "theme is Calvin Klein" last night but was kidding. When I Googled and discovered it's his birthday today I couldn't believe it! But it's got to be one of those "Twilight Zone" moments (hear the music?) because I doubt that was the constructor's intent.
Mr. Guttormsson?

Regardless, I really liked the puzzle because of its quirkiness.

Z 3:09 PM  

@Ellen S. - excellent!

I don't know if SJG came up with this or if I just read it in one of his books, but the metaphor he suggested was an evolutionary bush.

Three and out.

Quint 3:15 PM  

@Ellen S - "Robert->Nathaniel->Peter Benchley. Devolution" Shame on you. Peter was a great author.

IMDb 3:19 PM  

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)

Acmemamie 3:31 PM  

Just for the record, Robert Benchley (my fave author) was brothers with Nathaniel, who is Peter's dad.
It's not a grandpa, son, grandson...
(Tho i know you were joking)

Take it in the spirit it was prob meant, esp if you compare changing the course of American humor writing and the Algonquin Table vs Jaws!
(cue Jaws music here for joho!)

I popped over to Wordplay to see if the constructor had been interviewed or popped in there with an explanation about the theme...
But Deb just thought it was an -a- theme...and all the comments seem to be about how horrible the new puzzle page design is, so no light she'd on the mystery as yet...
But if you are right, that is phenomenal!!!!!

sanfranman59 3:40 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 7:03, 6:46, 1.04, 73%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:19, 3:41, 1.17, 96%, Challenging

Definitely on the challenging side for a Monday.

Quint 4:03 PM  

@Acmemamie - Of course. Each Benchley was a talented author in their own right, but I have my reasons for defending Peter.

dadu. dadum. dadum, dadum, dadum . . .

Lewis 4:28 PM  

@johnv -- No. No one does. No one.

A thoughtful day here in Rexville, philosophizing about evolution. Lots of food for thought; thank you contributors.

Sure would like an answer to the CK question. Paul! Let us know!

Sigh, with the new puzzle page, I can't bitch about last year's metapuzzle (by PB) results still being posted, more than a year later. It sounds like there is plenty of bitching, however, about the new page. What are people complaining about?

Carola 4:59 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 5:00 PM  

@Bird - I know BITER not from the canine realm but from the years when my kids were in preschool. Occasionally there was a child in the class who bit others and became notorious among parents as a BITER.

4:59 PM

Jes Wondrin' 5:05 PM  

I go up and down my ladder. I even occasionally fall off my ladder.

Protozoa are still mutating, creating the same variants they produced 1 Billion years ago. Are these newly created variants of protozoa newer on the timeline than the old ones?

The "evolutionary timeline" is as inapt a description of the process of evolution as is an evolutionary ladder. If you're tracking the evoloution of a given species to the one we know of now, they're equally apt. You're simply using a horizontal vs vertical metaphor.

Evolution is an uholy mess, with more mistakes than successes. The only metaphor I can come up with to mirror that is Congress. Humanity is the Simpson-Bowles of the Congressional Model of Evolution.

Charles Kuralt 5:20 PM  

Hey! What about me?

Charles Keating 5:20 PM  

And me?!

Charles Krauthammer 5:21 PM  

And me.

Anonymous 9:23 PM  

Clem Kadiddlehopper said...

How about me!

"My goodness, things have sunk lower than a snake's belly."

syndy 9:52 PM  

And Yet we all got it that APE was the answer-no?Maybe crossword clues don't need to be as technically accurate as evocative.I know that language is a living thing but at what point does Misuse become standard? and whom do we pickett? I just LOVED this cockamamie puzzle-theme smeme!

sanfranman59 11:46 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 7:08, 6:46, 1.05, 76%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:09, 3:41, 1.13, 91%, Challenging

Acme 11:29 PM  

Oops, I've been schooled by @EllenS...Robert is indeed Nathaniel's dad who then begat Peter.

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Spacecraft 12:07 PM  

This was a COCKAMAMIE puzzle for me, very uneven. Looked at the NW and thought: today is MONDAY?? So I went to north central, where I found yet another written-out abbr.: ONELB. This stuff grates against me because it doesn't make sense. You can't write out a number--or the word "AND"--in the middle of an acronym or abbreviation. Sheesh, you either want to save space or you don't!

Rant over. This kept happening; little pockets of gimme Monday-level solving alongside a HUH? like TUCKAHOE or HUCKABEES (clue for the latter, in my paper, read "'I D ___'" [2004 film].") I guess they didn't know how to print a heart--though that wouldn't have removed the HUH? for me. Never heard of it.

I'm so inured to the INURE spelling that I finished with a wrong square. To me, TUCKAHOi was every bit as (un-)believable as TUCKAHOE. Yes, I know abour ENURE, it just doesn't register. We oughta get rid of one or the other of those; one word is enough for that idea.

One question: why was MENSA clued as "Intelligence group?" with a "?" ?

Some liked the crossing of OHOH and HEHHEH; to me it seemed LACKADAISICAL.

The evolutionary model of a tree seems more to the point than a ladder. Life grows out in all directions; most peter out. I strongly suspect we'll be one of those. Sentience isn't everything.

All the above notwithstanding, I still liked it. It certainly had a bunch of fun words.

Captchas were absolutely brutal today. First 8: totally illegible.

Cogito Ergo Sumthin' 3:14 PM  

@SPACECRAFT, if you'd ever been a member of Mensa, you'd know why the ? was present. Not the sharpest tacks in the box, many of them.

Dirigonzo 5:29 PM  

PP likes to try early week puzzles on her own but I knew something was up when she asked me how to spell COCKAMAMIE and LACKADAISICAL. I was proud of her for finishing without any more help and I was even more impressed when I came here and saw that even seasoned solvers had fits with the grid. Oh, she also asked how to spell I/ENURE - I told her to use whichever one made the most sense with the cross; she chose correctly.

ACADIA (which is a K short of being a theme answer) Park is a magical place where you can go to the top of Mt. Desert and be the first to view the sunrise on the US (although folks from Eastport have been known to dispute that claim).

Speaking of magical, it's Christmas Eve - have a very merry holiday everyone!

rain forest 5:35 PM  

Fine puzzle to lead into the Christmas holidays, for which I wish all syndi-people (and others who may have strayed here) a very joyous time with family and loved ones.

Dirigonzo 5:37 PM  

P.S. - @Spacecraft and @CES: my take on the ? in the Mensa clue was that "Intelligence group" usually refers to a spy group (but maybe that's because many, many years ago I was assigned to a (warning: oxymoron alert)Military Intelligence Group in the Army. Nobody would have confused us with MENSA members.

DMGrandma 5:56 PM  

I think computers hate me! This one just scrapped a w long comment I wrote thanking @Bob K and @Diri for trying to solve my problem with getting Rex's full blog. Unfortunately, they provided the address I've always used and it yields a very user un-friendly site. Tthe best I can do on the iPad is Google Rex and a unique word from the puzzle where I can at least get the blog and answers part of his page.

However, I just discovered the old address still works on my semi-antique iBook which is connected to the same internet source. Stumps me!

Dirigonzo 6:09 PM  

@DMG - I recently "upgraded" TO a laptop (which was on clearance because it's esentially obbolete) and I think all of the complaints, including yours, about difficulties accessing the puzzle and/or the blog with the latest tecnology have pretty much convinced me that there is not a notebook or smart phone in my future. But good luck with yours - I wouldn't want you to give up on coming here!

Dirigonzo 6:11 PM  

another P.S. - I'm still getting used to the new keyboard so please excuse all the typos. I gave up on "Preview" a long time ago.

Anonyrat 7:05 AM  

@ Carola 5:00 PM - I know BITER from my days as a single guy.
Happy Chanukah to all ...

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