Afghan province or its capital / SAT 12-22-12 / Broadway's in Fashion artist / Owner of Bill Me Later / Birthplace of Rex Stout Kurt Vonnegut / Lloyd in College Football Hall of Fame / Its first CEO was W.W. I hero Eddie Rickenbacker / Big check-printing co. / Singer of 2010 #1 hit Rude Boy

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Constructor: Tim Croce

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: HERAT (25D: Afghan province or its capital) —
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006.[1] It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan. The city is linked with Kandahar andMazar-e-Sharif via highway 1 or the ring road that stretches across the country. It is also linked to the city of Mashad inIran through the border town of Islam Qala. (wikipedia)
• • •

I see a face. Do you see a face? I see a face. It's like the face of the losing robot in Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots. Or Thing from "X-Men." A little like him. This puzzle was fun to look at, and even somewhat fun to solve. It got less fun as I moved from top to bottom (2/3 of those bottom 15s don't feel like real things, and PREV and -ESCE are ... well, they're PREV and -ESCE), but I found the top quite entertaining. The top furnished me with one of the odder solving experiences I've had in my career. I got 1D. Then I got 2D. Then 3D. And 4D. And 5D. Didn't know 6D, but just by looking at what was in place so far (and without looking at any of the Across clues), I got 6D. That's 6 Downs in a row, on a Saturday, with no crosses in place. That is cray. Zee. I was also, then, able to guess I STAND CORRECTED without ever looking at the clue (though I did, in fact, look at the clue; just to be sure). All those Acrosses up there are solid, and none of the Down crosses make me want to barf, so that is some good work. Middle was a little tougher, despite getting --THESAYINGGOES pretty quickly (didn't know if it was AS or SO that led off that phrase). My one gimme in the east was also my greatest source of trouble. I must've spelled RIHANNA about six different ways before I hit on the right one (35A: Singer of the 2010 #1 hit "Rude Boy"). Also had GHOST for GHOUL and ONE TO instead of ONE IN. West was much harder to get into, even after I got EASTERN AIRLINES. I had ABIDE and little else over there. Oh, TREES. I had TREES. But SURER and SAFER before SANER. Never heard of HERAT. So that section took a little work. Bottom was rough at first pass—none of the short Downs in the SW were coming (except DEN and -ESCE, which I didn't quite believe was right). But the Downs in the SE were a little more friendly, and finally NEAREST RELATIVE came into view. I think the last letter in the grid was the "C" in CARR (which, like HERAT, I'd never heard of) (46D: Lloyd in the College Football Hall of Fame).

Took a while to come up with DREADED for [Like a bugbear]. Seemed like it could be a million different adjectives. Is a "bugbear" a real  creature, or just a creature-sounding term? Oooh, second def. is "An imaginary being invoked to frighten children, typically a sort of hobgoblin supposed to devour them." Cool. Before this puzzle, I couldn't name *any* check-printing co., big or small. Needless to say, never heard of ADP. EXERCISE TRAINER is a term I have literally never heard (57A: One whose goal is changing shape?). I think in America we call them PERSONAL TRAINERs. I think that's all. A weird, mostly enjoyable puzzle.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jackj 12:06 AM  

If you look at Tim Croce’s 19 puzzles, all shown on one page at XWordInfo, they look like Rorschach Test Card rejects; rejects because if anyone fathoms an image from any of them that person would automatically be tagged as emotionally dysfunctional.

Such is the manner in which Tim initiates his tricky crosswords, seemingly working on the view that, “the tougher the better”, though when he gets into the triple stack game, as he does today, things become pretty easy for Saturday solvers.

With the downs of TASK, ERTE, EBAY, NFCTEAM, RIT and FTD filling in without resistance, STEERINGCLEAROF was a snap.

And Eddie Rickenbacker’s EASTERNAIRLINES was truly a gimme without any crosses and, for me, a reminder that my first flight was on an Eastern Airlines four engine prop plane, a Lockheed Constellation, that Eastern was using as a mainstay of their Boston to NY shuttle. Sitting at the very rear of the plane, since that was “safest” (I had been told by friends), bouncing up and down for the 45 minute trip, it was quite an introduction to flying.

In a somewhat strange twist, Tim’s 1down entry is SCI; Zoe Wheeler’s 1across entry yesterday was SCI but the similarities end there since, as noted above, Tim’s themeless was very solver friendly while on reflection, Zoe’s seemed to be a puzzle created to test dyslexic Mensans.

The saving graces for Tim today were the clever downs of GOODLY, GARNI, ABIDE and RIPOSTE that are reminders of what Tim does best.

Triple stacks make for wonderful Friday puzzles; Tim’s Saturday’s seem to sparkle with shorter answers.

Costanza 12:10 AM  

ADP is a payroll company.

I thought you had a connection to Michigan. Lloyd Carr was UM's football coach.

syndy 12:11 AM  

Flew through the first third-never saw the downs! Second third was a little harder-needed the downs some .third third holy guacamole!I got the first words of the acrosses-disaster..(relief?). exercise.??.. next of kin? I needed the downs but what help were they? MPAA/MSRP ? yeah sure now that I have them I can see it but wowie .Pasta Roni? doesn't the Pasta preclude having to have the RONI?

Anonymous 12:34 AM  


Disasters don't need support.

jae 12:35 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 12:40 AM  

A breeze compared to yesterday's.  No WOEs and three erasures...NITro for NITER,  next for ASEA and GHOst for GHOUL.    So, easy mostly because the 15s were very gettable.

Some cringy stuff (I was really hoping ADORER would be wrong)...ESCE, ADP... but you get that with 15 stacks.   Fairly solid Sat., but definitely lacking zip... RIHANNA being it.  Yesterday's was more fun for this dyslexic Mensan.

Anonymous 12:41 AM  

ADP is a ginormous payroll processing company (among many other services).

Never heard of ICE RUN, but the R seemed the only possible letter there. Last one down.

PERSONAL TRAINER before EXERCISE>, but no problem with it.


I don't think that lots of 15s necessarily make a crossword easier. Rigging the Down clues can take care of that pretty well. But I did get into this one pretty easily and it went just a couple of minutes faster than yesterday.

Because the grids are completely different, I'm leery of comparing yesterday to today. The cluing seemed about equal.

The eight 15s are all strong. HERAT the only clinker for me today. (Though we should probably know the name of the third largest city of a country that we've been killing people in for over a decade and funding with money that we don't have.)

I would put yesterday's and today's as about equal - just very different.

JFC 12:48 AM  

I don't think the Bears are a NFC team. They play more like a Junior College scrimmage team....


JFC 12:55 AM  

@Rex, why is your font different at the end of your commentary?

Davis 1:29 AM  

This was an unusual Saturday solving experience for me, in that I nailed several of the 15ers with a minimum of crosses.

I had a fun series of mistakes at 16 across: I started with GREENHOUSE GASES. Quickly realized that was wrong, and went for CARBON EMISSIONS before finally landing on CARBON FOOTPRINT. Kind of amazing that so many plausible answers fit there.

I liked AS THE SAYING GOES, I STAND CORRECTED, and STEERING CLEAR OF. EXERCISE TRAINER was just... weird. DISASTER SUPPORT in quotes gets all of 121,000 Google hits, which makes it an uncommon term in my book.

Let's see, the shorter answers... I like RIPOSTE, that's a solid word. Lots of standard fill. But ENATE? GARNI? Those were head-scratchers.

Overall good solving experience—solid 15-stacks, and a fun-looking grid. A little easy for a Saturday, but that just ends up making me feel good about myself.

Adorer Carbon Msrps 2:37 AM  

Easy , looked good, agree with @anon 12:41 that i should learn third largest city in a place we've been forever...
Genie to GHOst to GHOUL...that's the spirit!
All three bottom phrases seem sort of made up. Then again I couldn't make one of these if I tried, altho this one makes me want to try.

chefwen 2:48 AM  

Had the same solving experience as @Sydney. Top third went down so easily I thought I was going to have a walk in the park. Second third was a little more difficult and the the final third was a disaster for me. Like 53A.

Fly boy husband came up with 41A, which was a big help.

Here comes Sunday!

Elle 54 6:22 AM  

Hey @JFC. Chicago ADORERS are the best!

The Bard 6:40 AM  

Troilus and Cressida , Act IV, scene II

PANDARUS: Ha! ha! Alas, poor wretch! ah, poor capocchia!
hast not slept to-night? would he not, a naughty
man, let it sleep? a bugbear take him!

Danp 6:54 AM  

Toughest area for me was the mid-west. I had ALLOW for brook, WESTERN instead of Eastern Airlines, and LAWEXAM.

Never heard of Herat? You need to watch the news once in a while.

Zygotic 7:13 AM  

@JFC - If the Bears are a Junior College Scrimmage Team, what does that make the Lions?

Slayed by the South. The North and the Mason-Dixon Line were fun, just gnarly enough for my tastes. I suppose if I had come up with SCI and TASK immediately the North would have been too easy, but I didn't so it took me a little extra work.

FEMA mission could be just about anything and the EXERCISE half of 57a is there because it works, not because it is a real thing, so the south was nigh impossible here. Wanting semi-trailers approved by the NTSB didn't help matters.

I didn't realize that that Lloyd CARR was in the College Football Hall of Fame. For whatever reason he is not quite the demi-god that Bo Schembechler is to Michigan football fans. Lloyd is more the Pasta-RONI to Bo's Rice-a-RONI.

Milford 7:46 AM  

Three sections, all different levels for me as well, except more like top=easy, bottom=medium, middle=challenging. But I agree that the phrases on the bottom are all slightly off, more like they should be DISASTER relief, finess or personal TRAINER, and maybe closest RELATIVE.

CARR was my first guess for the Lloyd Hall of Fame clue, but thought it wrong. Who knew?

Lots of mistakes in the middle: ovals before TREES, GHOst before GHOUL, ONE to before ONE IN, disks before SACRA, everything before SANER.

Liked the BAR EXAM clue, very clever.

I truly hope when someone tells us we are ignorant and should pay attention more, that they feel better for stating it.

Glimmerglass 7:53 AM  

Never heard of HERAT. What the heck is an ICE RUN? A bobsled course? I knew ICE jam and ICE dam didn't work. But I tried alternate three-letter combinations for a long time. The best I could come up with was the lame ICE fUN. Nice puzzle. The top is really slick.

r.alphbunker 8:17 AM  

Very unusual solve for me.

Proceeded top down not getting anything until DISASTER(something). Was stuck down there for quite a while and then decided to try the top again and got CARBONFOOTPRINT and then was filling in answers as fast as I could written.

It felt like something had melted, the vast expanse of frozen tundra was yielding to the dark black of letters (an I see run?)

VaBeachpuzzler 8:50 AM  

I see a face. It is a Mayan end-of-the-world warning to us c'worders!

chefbea 8:54 AM  

Had to google a lot and still DNF

Why is meat sticker=spit

Milford 9:06 AM  

@chefbea - think of the large skewer that holds the meat on a rotating spit cooker, like gyros.

chefbea 9:31 AM  

@Milford I should have figured that one out!!!

Sandy 9:35 AM  

I got so excited when I saw the, this is going to be a challenge.
Whizzed through it in record time; much faster than others this week.

No BS 9:42 AM  

Not crazy about the inappropriate usage of "apropos". Right up there with irregardless in my opinion.

MetaRex 9:50 AM  

I like a themeless that gives me a feeling of an implicit theme bubbling up, especially if the theme is one that's a bit too edgy or a lot too edgy to be used in a Monday-Thursday puzzle.

By that standard, both yesterday and today were very good.
Today the implicit theme wasn't nearly as clear as yesterday, but I got a Sandy vibe bubbling up from the combination of CARBON FOOTPRINT, DREADED, DISASTER SUPPORT, and NEAREST RELATIVE. ICE RUN and EASTERN AIRLINES (ah, nostalgia for old TV ads with Frank Borman) also contributed.

jberg 10:10 AM  

Back home in Wisconsin, we had personal TRAINERs who called the time when the ice broke up "ICE out." I never heard anyone say ICE RUN - but maybe it's different down in Maine, where the ice floes surge down the rivers, taking everything before them, sometimes including the bridges.

Other writeovers included emergency relief (crossing next at 45D) before DISASTER SUPPORT, and backER before ADORER. Also TORn up. TORE AT only works if "anguished" is transitive, which it's hard to believe.

And I figured there must be an author, or something, named AlIcE Brook.

So all in all, the bottom 2/3ds of this puzzle were tough for me. On the other hand, I finished it, without errors, so that's better than the last two days!

Off to do a little Christmas shopping.

Carola 10:35 AM  

For me, a puzzle with stacks of 15s is a DREADED bugbear, and I thought the clue for 1A "Giving a wide berth" might be signaling me some advice. But it turned out to be easy for me, too. I got into it with KEYS and perked right along, just briefly held up by a GHOst and by having TIS in the TOO spot. Fun all the way but especially liked writing in GOODLY, GARNI, CORSAIR, RIPOSTE.

@Qvart, from yesterday - Same here on getting new perspectives on the puzzles. Before I retired, I only had time to do the weekend puzzles - it was such a nice surprise to discover the fun of the rest-of-the-week puzzles + this blog. See you Monday (now that I can spell your name correctly :) ) ?

retired_chemist 10:41 AM  

MUCH easier than Friday. Hand up for GREENHOUSE GASES, ICE JAM, CLOSEST RELATIVE, NITRE before NITER, GHOUL, various before RONI (never heard of it), and not knowing HERAT or CARR.

EASTERN AIRLINES was deep in my memory - Eastern was the airlines I most easily could fly to college on from HTS, and somehow that connected me to Eddie R.

Very enjoyable. Adequate challenge for me and yet douable. Thanks, Mr. Croce.

Tita 10:47 AM  

I finished! No outside help at all. It was enough of a workout, but it is letting me get on with a very busy Christmas eve eve eve, so I'm happy.

Guessed that Mr. Rickenbacker, after WW1, must've started an airline, so thre33w that in, and could only be EASTERN, as old-timey airlines go.

Let me continue to beat that horse - probably 90% of working Americans have a ADP logo in the corner of their paycheck.

Amazingly few write-overs - MUCH easier than yesterday.

Thanks Mr. Croce.

Sandy K 10:52 AM  

Saw the it a belated Halloween puzzle? My NEAREST RELATIVE? Is the center a red cross- reminding me to donate to DISASTER relief? No, SUPPORT...

Is it Rhianna? No, RIHANNA...
CARBON emissions? No, FOOTPRINT...
EXpeCtant mothER? No, EXERCISE TRAINER...What the heck is HERAT?

But after CORRECTing "My mistakes", it wasn't such a DREADED TASK after all.

lawprof 10:54 AM  

This was a very satisfying Saturday puzzle for me. I'd get stymied for a bit, then grab a little traction, then stall out again, make a good guess, and then slowly it all came together.

Hand up for GHOst before GHOUL. Other writeovers: next before ASEA (I was thinking in baseball terms, the "on deck" batter being next up); Mlge (mileage?) befoer MSRP. "Dude" for surfer's address didn't fit, so only a writeover in the mind's-eye sense.

Finishing a Saturday makes my weekend.

Evan 10:59 AM  

Fairly easy today -- I like that I got CARBON FOOTPRINT right off the C (and didn't notice the other possibilities that @Anonymous 12:41 and @Davis mentioned). I STAND CORRECTED and AS THE SAYING GOES are nice, and I imagine that they may have been the seed entries for this puzzle (though that could have been CARBON FOOTPRINT, too). But there's a little too much short crap for my liking: ESTD, ELA, ADP, ICE RUN, ERTE, RONS, SACRA, HERAT, GARNI, ONE IN, ENATE, ESCE, RONI, PREV, and TRE. I'm glad I didn't have to deal with a MISTER MXYZPTLK that Tim had in his last outing a month ago.

I wouldn't have guessed that Ron Dayne would still be in the conversation for most famous RONS to make the NYT crossword puzzle. Sure, I knew him because I'm a football fan and he's a former Heisman Trophy 1999, and he didn't exactly have a stellar NFL career. Then again, a Saturday is supposed to be more difficult, and most of the RONS I know are instantly recognizable from their last names alone. A lot of them have first names for last names -- Howard, Paul, and Jeremy (the latter of whom will probably never make the Gray Lady's puzzle, unless he runs for office or something).

Evan 11:08 AM  

On further reflection, I absolutely love the clue for DNA TEST. I didn't understand it till just now. I thought it was a bizarre way for someone to suffer from the common cold after he just got over one.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:20 PM  

As it was for some others, EASTERN AIRLINES was a gimme for me, and in fact my first entry.

In the mid-1960's I flew frequently from Newark to college in Boston by way of the Eastern Shuttle. Those were the days - get on the plane, with a departure every hour, and pay onboard in flight, $20 cash.

Sparky 12:24 PM  

I thought I finished and then saw I left the E out of ESCE. Hurray for getting that close after yesterday's disaster.

Had to Google 5 names. Hand up for GHOst before GHOUL. EASTERNAIRLINES first long entry. I remember Rickenbacker.

I thought ICERUN was when the sheet breaks up and surges down the Hudson but couldn't see a citation like that after a quick Google just now.

Shine before EXUDE held me up in the middle. It was fun to work on. Thanks Tim Croce. I'm with @Tita, happy because now I can go finish Christmas details.

Have a good weekend.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

Easiest Saturday I can remember. Actually finished it with no Googling, no help and no mistakes. How about that!

jae 12:53 PM  

Disclaimer: I am not now nor have I ever been a member of Mensa. Just liked the phrase @jackj.

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

Yes, Gail Bedicker!

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

@jberg, I think you nailed Ice Run.

John Irving's 12th novel, "Last Night at Twisted River", uses a Maine Ice Run as the major plot device.
Although I can't recall whether the term was explicitly used, an Ice Run on a logging river in Maine was very vividly described.

John V 1:35 PM  

So, I looked at the grid, thought a) I like it, b)15 stacks should make it easy. Took a bit to get traction, which happened with DISASTERSUPPORT, which I agree is a bit of a strange way to clue FEMA; Sandy didn't need anyone's support. Kept wanting ELIPTICALTRAINER for 57a. Anyhoo, worked hard, got it all, no mistakes. That doesn't always happen to me on a Saturday, so I am happy.

Also happy to read the review of the Leonard Cohen show, Page C1, dead tree edition and having been there and introduced my two married children and their spouses (all 30 somethings) to his music. Leonard Cohen for Christmas; what a concept.

Unknown 2:07 PM  

Same experience as Sandy, except replace "Disappointed" with "Yay me!!!" First answer I entered was CARBONFOOTPRINT. BaZING!!!

Ellen S 3:36 PM  

For me, puzzles with lots of 15 letter answers are a real BUGBEAR; lotsa times I can't finish ... haha can't nearly start them! This had enough short crosses that with a lot of help from Google and one resort to Mr. Happy Pencil (which told me the whole south had to be scrapped) I got it done. I had EASTERNAIRLINES but couldn't get the crosses so put in WESTERN and filled in a bunch of wrong crosses. And repeated that experience all over the place, took out the right answer to plunge ahead with the wrong. TOO TRUE!

Yeah, i didn't get HERAT either and I'm a big anti-war activist, but as an American, feeble at geography. I wanted Kandahar, the onl province I know in Afghanistan; failing that, is Kabul a province? Then got the HE_AT, thought HELMAT -- too long (never mind that there's no such place), so tried HEMAT -- also no such place but it fit, so, see first paragraph, off I went, making up wrong answers.

Oddly, RIHANNA was one of the first things I put in, got it from the H and the second N. For anyone familiar with pop culture, that would be plenty, but for me a triumph--and I spelled it right on the first try. Totie Fields last week or whenever was a gimme. Rihanna, just a name I hear floating around if I read the celebrity column in the local rag.

joho 5:02 PM  

joho said...
The bottom was weird for me because I've always heard closest RELATIVE and personal or fitness TRAINER and never EXERCISETRAINER. I'm with @Adorer Carbon MSRPS who says that sounds made up. But at least it translates into the term we all know. And the puzzle is really well done. So thanks, Tim Croce!

Ellen S 5:02 PM  

@metarex, I see you are struggling with how to put links into your comments. I don't like the tutorial pointed to in @Rex's FAQs. It is easy to code a link, but not when the tutorial starts out with all that confusing stuff about "onClick" and "onMouseOut". But worser, their code would not create a link. They say, code, within the brackets, A HREF=
and then "mywebpage.html" Well, that's not an address. it's a filename. an address in an Anchor tag -- A HREF=, must start with HTTP:// and furthermore, what happend to the domain qualifier, .com, .org, etc?

I can't type examples of the code here, or Blogger will interpret it. So I put a tutorial of my own in my own blog. Also shows how to bold or italicize. I'm an old lady so if I can do it you can do it.

mac 6:23 PM  

Easy but very nice Saturday puzzle, with the only write-over garni for farci. Can't remember ever having such a pristine Sat.!

Back to the oven.

Qvart 6:36 PM  

Well, I’m even later to the game than I have been the last few days. Trying to wrap up everything before hitting the road tomorrow (which means I won’t have access to the puzzle until I return on Wednesday or Thursday).

Okay, lets see how quick I can make this:

First off – weird symmetrical grid layout, but provided many short down answers which got things moving. Quick hits were TASK, which made KEYS easy, which made EBAY easy. I’m a big Vonnegut fan so I knew IND. Had NFL TEAM at first, which was wrong but still gave me TDS. Having the “A” in 2D, the “B” in 4D and the “F” in 7D, CARBON FOOTPRINT just seemed to appear. In the NW I got EPEE (nice clue for an over-used crossword answer) and ARCS – and at this point I had enough to fill in I STAND CORRECTED (which, by the way, corrected my “NFL” mistake – “NFC”) as well as STEERING CLEAR OF (which I should remember and steer clear of making the mistake of inking in NFL when there have been many times in the past the answer turned out to be NFC).

Got hung up a bit in the middle so I skipped down to the bottom – started off in the middle with ADP (hey, it’s on my pay stub every week), and from there ADORER, then URL (gimme), PREV, and TRE. DEN felt like a gimme too and with the “D” could guess DISASTER- (“FEMA mission”). Then I guessed ESCE (“Ending with Fluor-“) and had enough downs to fill the three long across answers. Tidied up the bottom section and went back to the middle.

On the right side I filled in NITER and GHOST (wrong!) and with the “Y” in 8D (GOODLY) figured out the long answer AS THE SAYING GOES. Had to work a bit to finish the right side and didn’t give up the GHOST (hehe) until I figured out REUNITE, and with RIHANNA and TOREAT (because honestly I didn’t know 30D or 32D) was able to finish the section.

The middle left put me through my paces. Filled in SANER first (“Less likely to crack”) and with the “M” from 7D figured 26D must be EXUDE because the “X” would give me –EXAM for 34A (“Something passed on the way to court”). My first answer was BAR EXAM, but then I questioned that because of 22D (“Brook”) – I thought it should be ALLOW and began to wonder if 34A wasn’t LAW EXAM. No, that would be an awful answer. Finally figured out ABIDE and with all the downs EASTERN AIRLINES fell into place.

Whew! A mix of gimmes and more challenging clues that sent me initially in one direction until I hit dead ends and had to backtrack. 22 mins. Satisfying.

Okay, now I’ll go read what the rest of you had to say.



Henry Shapiro 6:51 PM  

Once again, Parker shows that he doesn't know his geography. The war in Afghanistan isn't centered on Herat (in the west), but it does make the news occasionally.

The reason I say Parker doesn't know his geography is I remember an answer of some time ago, Varanasi, that he also said he had never heard of -- it's India's holiest city.

Anonymous 7:01 PM  

always a gleeful moment when I find I've rate a Saturday puzzle as less difficult than fearless leader... even if it takes me 10x longer to solve...

Dirigonzo 7:46 PM  

PP and I flew through the top and bottom sections, sussed out the long answers in the center, struggled to complete the central eastern section and then bogged down in the mid-west - having Allow (and consequently weSTERNAIRLINES) instead of ABIDE for "Brook" didn't help. When we came back after a short break the mistake was corrected, the DREADED bugbear came into view and we were done - I love it when that happens!

@jberg - as a native Mainer I know the phenomenom you describe very well but I never heard the term ICERUN applied to it - we usually just call it a flood.

Dirigonzo 8:18 PM  

Speaking of DNATESTs reviving cold cases, there is a story in today's NYT (am I the only one who actually read the paper?) about a 52 year-old man being convicted of a 36 year-old murder, but since he was only 15 at the time of the crime he had to be tried in juvenile court! The sentencing guidelines to be applied are in question as a the laws have changed a lot since 1976. How bizarre is that?

sanfranman59 10:48 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 6:06, 6:14, 0.98, 37%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:06, 8:44, 0.93, 25%, Easy-Medium
Wed 10:27, 11:45, 0.89, 24%, Easy-Medium
Thu 15:17, 17:03, 0.90, 28%, Easy-Medium
Fri 22:16, 21:27, 1.04, 65%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 18:00, 24:41, 0.73, 7%, Easy (10th lowest ratio of 150 Saturdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:37, 3:39, 0.99, 39%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:54, 4:59, 0.98, 42%, Medium
Wed 5:39, 6:32, 0.86, 14%, Easy
Thu 8:15, 9:23, 0.88, 23%, Easy-Medium
Fri 13:42, 11:57, 1.15, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 10:26, 15:34, 0.72, 5%, Easy (8th lowest ratio of 150 Saturdays)

acme 12:03 AM  

I think they tried that Kennedy relative Skakel? who had bashed that poor girl with a golfclub when he was juvenile and by the time they had enough evidence he was an adult, but I think they tried him in Juvenile court. (I could just look this all up, and will, but want to write it while you are still up and reading) OK, looked it up, he murdered her at 15 but was tried as an adult:
stay away from Kennedy relatives, in general, would be my advice.

I don't know if you are in SF, but perhaps you were thinking of Helmand Palace which is indeed the best Afghani food restaurant, and I think was owned by one of the notorious president Karzai's brothers.
(I see there is also one in Cambridge, MA) AND it says that Helmand is the largest of the 43 provincesin Afghanistan, so you deserve total credit!

Ellen S 4:12 PM  

@acme -- just saw your comment, thank you re "Helmand" -- I dunno why Google didn't reassure me when I searched it on the iPad, but the non-mobile version says yes, I wasn't delusional, it does exist. Whew!

@DMGrandma, if you see this: if I have a long comment or just feeling unlucky, I type my comment outside of the blog, e.g., as a document in OpenOffice, or just as a note. Then copy and paste. As for the blog,if you go to the home page and scroll almost all the way tothe bottom you have a link which says either "view web version" or "view mobile version" depending on what you are in. In the web version, the link to the current syndicated puzzle is up at the top above the "Rex Parker" banner. Clicking on any of the links may get you to the mobile version of that page, so you may have to keep moving back to the web version.

(dang! I'm a robot and didn't know it!)

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

I got no beef with this puzzle. But one thing I'm embarrassed about: 14D. Going down the line, briefly? What the!? I'm puzzling and puzzling til my puzzler is sore. What's "ONED"?. Is it too simple, or am I? 2:08 PM  

14. Going along the line, briefly? : ONE-D
The dimension of an object is defined as the minimum number of coordinates needed to specify each point in the object. Therefore a line is one-dimensional, as you only need an x-coordinate to specify a particular point on the line. A surface is two-dimensional, as you need both an x-coordinate and a y-coordinate to locate a point on the surface. The inside of a solid object is then three-dimensional, needing an x-, y- and z-coordinate to specify a point, say within a cube.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

I would make a great team with Rex because I always know everything he doesn't - and am stumped by the ones he filled in first.

Couldn't get any of the top downs until the very end, finished the bottom third first, thought esce and prev made perfect sense, knew Herat and knew how to spell Rihanna.

For some reason, we get the NYTimes puzzles really late in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette - this ran today, Jan. 26.

Spacecraft 11:42 AM  

Yeah, I see the face. Looks like the eye-black that NFCTEAMs all smear on. The bottom looks like a gap-toothed growl favored by many linemen, especially defensive. TIS TOO true: if there isn't a sports theme in this one ISTANDCORRECTED.

'Course, my single writeover square was NFlTEAM; but that error was soon "lorrected."

What the HEY is an ICERUN? The very expression "runs" counterintuitive, in my mind. Ice does not "run." Glaciers do move, but baby, I'd sure call that more of a walk! The R was a total natick for me; count me among the multitude who never heard of HERAT. But what other letter would make even the vestige of sense here? I put it in with a shrug.

The rest of it? It looked foreboding at first, but I began my TASK with a few KEYS, such as RONS and FTD, and pretty soon the acrosses showed themselves. The middle, outside of the natick, fell fairly easily; the bottom proved somewhat tougher. But overall, easier--and a little smoother--than yesterday's. I'll give it a medium.

Some junk fill is inevitable with all those 15s, but I've seen WAY worse. Pretty darn good, Tim.

Waxy in Montreal 2:43 PM  

@Spacecraft - they actually do call it an ICE RUN. Worked at Lake Louise, Alberta 50 years ago and we used to have an employee pool based on what day/time in late May or early June the ice would breakup and quickly flow out of the lake. Surprisingly, the process isn't glacial in speed by any means.

Not shocked that this puzzle trended very Easy on @Sanfranman59's Richter scale. Personally, I find solving the 15-letter stacks much less of a challenge than, say, yesterday's puzzle, especially when their crosses aren't particularly hard.

DMGrnadma 2:50 PM  

First view of a puzzle with so many long answers always makes me feel beaten before I start. but start I did, and finish!! Got the middle section first, then moved onto the strange expressions in the south, which somehow I developed just from SPIT. Hardest for me was the top where I kept trying to make stayingclearof fit-it just doesn't. But then ERTE solved that, and I was done.

Never lived where that kind of thing happens, so ICERUN (and its relative HERAT) was speculation on my part, and have no idea what NFC stands for, but the rest came a lot more easily than I expected at first glance.

@Ellen S. Thanks for the advice, only problem is that the page (proper term?) I get using Rex's address doesn't connect to anything, just the real today's puzzle with no comments, not much help in Syndiland. Fortunately, I finally lucked onto something that lets me stay connected to all the interesting folk who join this blog.

Anonymous 3:02 PM  

From Syndication Land

Is anyone else bothered by 30% of dieci (ten) being tre

Waxy in Montreal 3:08 PM  

@DMG, NFC=National Football Conference which along with the AFC (American Football Conference) comprises the NFL (National Football League). The Chicago Bears play in the NFC. Tomorrow's Pro Bowl (meaningless game) in Honolulu pits the NFC all-stars against those from AFC whilst in the Super Bowl next Sunday in New Orleans the playoff champions of the NFC (San Francisco) meet those of the AFC (Baltimore Ravens).

My advice - do not clutter your brain with any of this useless info. We sports junkies have no natural defence against it percolating in...

Spacecraft 3:34 PM  

@anon 3:02: No. Are you? What percent of 10 do YOU think 3 is??

Dirigonzo 5:38 PM  

@anony 11:35 am - Welcome to the land of syndication, where the NYT crossword puzzle appears in our papers 5 weeks (or one week on Sundays) after the original publication in the NYT and on-line. Everyone whose post appears here after yours solved the puzzle on 1/26 so don't feel alone in your solving experience.

Ginger 6:26 PM  

Really odd solving experience today. The top third almost filled itself in, and on Saturday too. Then the middle section gave a bit of resistance, and the bottom almost finished me off.

I agree that DISASTER 'SUPPORT' is just wrong. Disasters do not need any 'support', relief yes, but ...

@DMGrandma I've been pigging out the last 2 weeks on the Aussie Open. There have been some incredible matches, most won by the player I was rooting against, as you mentioned yesterday.

@Anonymous 11:35 You've landed in Syndiland, where we get the puzzles 5 weeks late. For more information check out the FAQ column at the top of Rex's page.

Ginger 6:30 PM  

@Diri Looks like I was busy typing, as you were busy posting.

Dirigonzo 6:48 PM  

@Ginger - that happens to me all the time, by the time I've finished reading all the comments and composing my own, three more people have commented. But it can't hurt to have @anony 11:35 know that his/her (is there a word for that?) was read by others and syndiland is a welcoming place to newcomers.

Red Valerian 3:06 PM  

Hi All,

Five weeks and a day late. Fun puzzle, and (but?) super easy.

@Spacecraft and others. You should check this out to see ice bloody well sprinting! Frazil Ice

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