Eucharist plate / TUE 1-15-13 / Women's tennis champ Medina / Hip-hopper's home / 1973 film for which John Houseman was named Best Supporting Actor / Color akin to silver / Main part of Japan / Soviet launch of 1986 / Surfer girl maybe

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: FISH (65A: Something hidden in 20-, 28-, 43- and 52-Across ... or landed with the help of 1-, 10-, 37- and 63-Across) — different FISH are embedded in the theme answers, and then BAIT, HOOK, REEL, and ROD in the NW, NE, SW, and center, respectively

Theme answers:
  • 20A: 1973 film for which John Houseman was named Best Supporting Actor ("THE PAPER CHASE")
  • 28A: Shortest paths (DIRECT ROUTES)
  • 43A: Igor, for one (LAB ASSISTANT)
  • 52A: Blindsided (CAUGHT UNAWARE)

Word of the Day: ANABEL Medina (44D: Women's tennis champ Medina) —
Ana Isabel Medina Garrigues (born 31 July 1982 in Torrent, Valencia), better known as Anabel Medina, is a Spanish female tennis player. She reached a career high WTA Tour ranking of No. 16 on 4 May 2009, and has won 11 singles titles and 18 doubles titles, including the 2008 French Open and 2009 French Open with Virginia Ruano Pascual. Like many of her Spanish compatriots, she is a very crafty clay court specialist who grinds to win most of her rallies. However, unlike most of her fellow Spaniards, she prefers to play on hard courts. She won the WTA tournament in Strasbourg, France, beatingKatarina Srebotnik in the final in May 2008, thus defending the title she won the previous year against Amélie Mauresmo. Her other singles titles came inPalermo in 2006, 2005, 2004 and 2001; Canberra in 2006; Strasbourg in 2005 and Fès in 2009. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a somewhat interesting twist on your typical "hidden x" puzzle—bonus theme material theme answers thrown into each of the corners. Makes for a rather cumbersome revealer clue, but also makes for a decent "aha" moment at the end. I certainly never noticed any part of a fish theme until I got down to the FISH clue, and didn't appreciate the extent of it until I was done. I still think that an ideal "hidden x" puzzle is one in which "x" touches ever answer in the theme answer, so "THE PAPER CHASE" sticks out sorely for me (because, to be clear, the PERCH has nothing to do with the first word, "THE"). And the theme answers aren't what you'd call sizzling or spicy or even terribly interesting on their own (in fact, on its own terms, "THE PAPER CHASE" is actually the *best* of the lot). But the grid is solid, with very little barfiness (beyond the icky partial I EVER). I CAN'T over NO USE is a nice juxtaposition, and HERBICIDE gives us at least one long non-theme answer with some punch. I guess ASH GRAY isn't bad either (41D: Color akin to silver), though it's not a phrase I would ever use to describe ... anything. Not a color I know. I've probably heard it, but it's not in my mental palette. It certainly took me longer to get that any other answer in the grid, including ANABEL, whom I'd never ever heard of.

Which part of the velcro is the HOOK? Are all the little plastic parts HOOKs? I don't think I knew they had a name, and I would never associate the word HOOK with velcro, though on the most literal of levels the word surely applies. In my head, they're just the soft part and the plasticy part. As you can see, I've never thought too deeply on the physics of velcro. In terms of answer difficulty, I'd say ANABEL is the most obscure thing in the grid (the clue makes her sound like a much bigger deal in women's tennis than she really is). PATEN (38A: Eucharist plate) and WAHINE (31A: Surfer girl, maybe) are pretty specialized kinds of words and could easily have given some solvers fits. I totally forgot the big island of Japan was HONSHU, though with a few crosses, I was reminded (10D: Main part of Japan). I got MIR instantly, of course, because despite having burnt up as a result of its deorbit in 2001, MIR continues to float around Crossworld, and will likely do so forever (24A: Soviet launch of 1986). I also got OAS instantly, but I had no idea why Honduras should've been suspended from it in 2009 (34A: Grp. that suspended Honduras in 2009). So let's see ... Oh, right. Looks like the OAS saw the removal of President Zelaya by the Honduran military as a coup. The suspension has since been lifted.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:05 AM  

What was impressive about this one was the theme layout.  Nice symmetry.  What was not impressive was it's blandness, although the DUDE under his CRIB seems sorta with it.  But, it's Tues. so...

Pretty easy for me.  Faster than yesterday's, but I did this one on paper and didn't have to deal with iPad related typos.   No erasures and no WOEs, however, I only know PLINTH from crosswords. 

@LMS -- You were right about the plural MreS .  Shame on me.  And, my granddaughter gave me a set of PaperMate ClearPoint .05s for Christmas. Nice upgrade from the Bics. 

@lawprof -- If you've ever seen a speed solver's finished grid you will note that there is a tendency to eschew block letters and little regard for staying inside the squares.  I can get down around 5 min. on an easy puzzle on a desktop (forget the iPad for speed) but just under 7 is about as good as it gets with a paper and pencil for me.  But then, I refuse to trade neatness for speed.  Savoring is good.

Anonymous 12:10 AM  

I'll be back in a second, after I REICE my bourbon.


Anonymous 12:29 AM  

Don't forget about Rod in the middle!

Elle 54 12:38 AM  

Velcro is composed of Hook and Loop. Those are the terms used to describe the two parts. Did anyone else have a problem with orientate?

retired_chemist 12:48 AM  

More than a minute faster than yesterday, so I guess I call this easy. Theme was no help in the solve. BAIT, HOOK, and REEL being placed symmetrically with the revealer FISH, and not being clued fishily at all, was nice.

My silver color was ASHTRAY at first - shows you I was flying and not thinking carefully. The cross fixed it. AS IF @ 62A ditto.

Tried STRAIGHT LINES @ 28A - one letter too many, fortunately, else I would have kept it and been screwed big time.

Nice one. Thanks, Mr. Collins.

retired_chemist 12:53 AM  

@ elle 54 - sort of. I don't like it since is is a synonym for a shorter word, but it is correct as clued. It feels wrong because the clue is usually an intransitive construction and the answer transitive, but when you think of them both as transitive it is OK.

pooloniousmonk 12:55 AM  

As I understand it, orientate is the British way to situate. I know nothing of wahine. That wahine/whelp situation was thus difficult, because whelp is not a word I have ever used.

chefwen 12:57 AM  

@anon 12:10 - You're going to turn that bourbon into water, don't do it. You shouldn't have ice in it to begin with, are you a rookie?

Spent three hours at the veterinary clinic trying to figure out what was wrong with the little guy Toby, he's there for an extended visit. Still don't know. Spent 3 hours with kindly neighbor who went to the clinic with me to keep me calm. Three glasses of wine later at her house I was able to hit this one out of the ball park. Gotta rate it easy, nary a write over! Must drink more wine...

Ellen S 1:43 AM  

@Elle 54, I cringed at ORIENTATE but I'm trying not to be a usage nazi. My daughter thinks of me that way. Even an old boyfriend who looked me up a couple of years ago about 4 decades after we broke up, he emails me once ina while and sends me grammar, spelling and misc. usage stuff, agrees with my daughter. If it's a Britishism, then, well, I will try, but I hear it all the time from merely ignorant Yanks. (oh, there I go again.)

Writeover at GReY / GRAY. What exactly is the difference? (oops, do I have to send myself to spelling jail?)
I didn't know the tennis player but got her on crosses. Everything else was a gimme. Even PATEN, not bad for an atheist Jew. Once my former employer gave us each little brass plates as tokens of their appeciation. What are they for? we wondered. I said, Oh, they must be Capitalist Patens, they transform the workers blood into gold.

(I don't mean to be offensive to Christianity. Only to my former employer. I gave them good blood for 30 years; I've earned it. I do have a pension -- my co-workers who have retired since, have only their stupid 401k's.)

Fun puzzle. I thought they were pretty good clues and I was just tickled that I knew the answers.

Anonymous 2:14 AM  

A bit nitpicky, but only because I'm a huge tennis nut and know exactly who ANABEL Medina Garrigues is will I say that she is never referred to as just "Anabel Medina" without the "Garrigues" (at least in the U.S.), despite what her Wikipedia may say. In fact, I skipped over the clue at first because I was so certain that Anabel would have had to be referred to as Medina Garrigues, convincing myself there must be an even more obscure Medina I wasn't familiar with. I think it's a bit of sloppy editing.

(For a perhaps more recognizable comparison, Spaniard tennis champ Arantxa Sanchez Vicario is always referred to by all three names here in the U.S., never just "Arantxa Sanchez.")

Aural Cohere Mir-chaels 2:43 AM  

Ironically the GReY/GRAY thing is that GReY is apparently the British way to spell it!!!!

ORIENTATE I only know from folks speaking incorrectly, but the way I type my stream-of-consciousness posts, I can not cast stones!

RABBI Shapiro, @Carola, would say you should consider calling yourself an "agnostic" bec you don't really know if god exists or not, and it's less likely to offend! He was the best! RIP.

WAHINE and ALOHA were not made mention by our own @ChefWen, so it may be the wine talking (or not...but I thought it added nicely into the theme...along with Sailor YARNS.

Hand up for puppy/WHELP.

Missed the little STU Beatles ref, didn't see it till after the puzzle.

acme 2:44 AM  

@Ellen S, Ooops, don't know why I wrote Carola!

Tennis aficionado 2:48 AM  

And here I thought it was Aranzazu Isabel Maria Sanchez Vicario. Dang!

Ulrich 3:59 AM  

I liked the contrast between yesterday's revealer, which was to be taken literally, and today's, which has to be taken figuratively: The fish are not aware that they are caught in a multi-word phrase--cool!

Qvart 4:28 AM  

Enjoyable. Nice construction.Didn't know THEPAPERCHASE, PATEN, or PLINTH, but got them all with crosses. Had LOL at first instead of AOL which threw off getting ASHGRAY until the end. ORIENTATE works, but meh. Same for FATNESS.

For some reason I do know that one side of velcro is made up of tiny hooks.


I've been paying attention to my time recently as an indicator of how challenging a puzzle is for me (and also because I'm back to using AcrossLite and it has a timer). If anyone takes anything I have to say about it as bragging, you shouldn't. Obviously I'm not the fastest solver around here and don't aim to be. Anyway, yesterday's NYT and LAT puzzles were both around five minutes. Typical for me.


NYT - 6:16

LAT - 6:14



jackj 6:46 AM  

Talk about synchronicity!

Today’s excellent Peter Collins puzzle, that has you fishing amongst the answers for fish, bears an uncanny resemblance to Rob Cirillo’s excellent LA Times puzzle of January 2, 2013 that also had you fishing amongst the answers for fish.

Where Peter has us catching PERCH, TROUT, BASS and TUNA, Rob’s catch of the day consisted of TROUT, FLUKE, PERCH and COD. Only one of the phrases hiding the fish was clued the same, DIRECTROUTE(S).

Rob’s had a reveal of SOMETHINGSFISHY while Peter, instead, uses cross references and also provides a string of four subsidiary entries that contain the wherewithal to catch the catch, BAIT, HOOK, ROD and REEL

The way that puzzles are submitted and chosen for publication are such that nothing untoward was involved but what an interesting coincidence from two clever constructors including showing that while their puzzles may be very comparable, their constructing personalities clearly shine through.

Looking at Peter’s puzzle only, he had some terrific fill starting with NORM, that was nicely clued as “Expected outcome”, then WHELP and HERBICIDE were healthy entries for a Tuesday puzzle, as were FINERY, PLINTH and ORIENTATE (interestingly, ORIENTATE is an often maligned word as many people feel that “orient” is sufficient but, of course, our friends the Brits opt for the ATE version while we Yanks lean toward the simpler word).

A clever, fun puzzle from Peter and having solved each of the puzzles, I do believe there is enough room in the sea for both of them to continue trolling for the finny creatures.

Good one, Peter!

OTD 6:51 AM  

Much like yesterday. Easy for me. Loved the theme, especially with BAIT and HOOK. Got ANABEL from the crosses.

Anonymous 7:16 AM  

31D The Whelp was the derisive nick name given by Dickens to a young character who was morally reprehensible in Hard Times. 49D The term Rabbi, which literally means "teacher," came into being after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, when Judaism had to become portable, so is technically not a Temple Head.

Milford 7:27 AM  

I really loved this puzzle, lots of theme, nice symmetry, lots of different fill, and the FISH are quite hidden! I also liked how for each FISH the pronunciation is changed (at least how I say them). Ok, maybe not PERCH, really.

Nice science vibe with HERBICIDE, AMINO, LAB ASSISTANT, and even NSEC (I had mSEC at first, just 6 powers off). Also liked WAIF, WHELP (although I think of this more as a verb), and DUDE, a word I use too much, probably.

I think REICE works ok as clued to an injury. I knew there would be the ORIENTATE debate today. I think I say ORIENT myself, if ever. ASH GRAY may be a hair color thing? Like ash blonde?

I seem to remember that at first Arantxa Sanchez was called by only those two names. After awhile she (or TV) added the Vicario, and everyone thought she got married.

@chef wen- I hope your pet OK. @mac - I'm sorry to see you are still having computer woes.

Great puzzle, Peter, thank you!

Z 7:31 AM  

Except for NoCal this was very easy. But that WAHINE/WHELP/PLINTH double cross was a (relative) slog. lOL and having the pitching Sutcliffe pop into the puzzle instead of the drumming Sutcliffe also meant that LAB ASSISTANT took longer than it should have. l to A was my only writeover. Remembering HUEVO and mentally flipping from ric(k) to STU finally unlocked the whole region for me.

ORIENTATE has appeared before. It is still an ugly looking and ugly sounding word. I refuse to use it purely on aesthetic reasons.

I would never RE-ICE my bourbon, but I would RE-ICE my knees.

I submit that YARNS are also an inherent part of this theme.

evil doug 7:54 AM  

Other than "The Paper Chase" (Houseman carried his role into a pretty entertaining TV show after the movie---if you ever find the CD look for the 'Scavenger Hunt' episode), the phrases lacked punch. And the payoff is just fish? Fish stink.

And the fact that it's been done so similarly before---including one identical phrase!---isn't 'interesting'; it's unforgivable. Somebody at Will's level ought to have researched that and kicked it back.


Imfromjersey 8:02 AM  

I had Adhere for 6D at first instead of Cohere, otherwise a smooth puzzle. Love the word plinth, very scrabbly. I thought Orientate was a britishism, though not correct in American English. Nice puzzle Mr Collins!

joho 8:12 AM  

Loved the theme density ... all that's missing is the line & sinker!

In my head I changed NORM to wORM and WHELP to WHELk to further add to the sea and sandiness.

ASHGRAY sounds fishy to me as a real color, but it is the color of fish!

I liked that by adding a "R" and "S" to TEETH you get TETHERS.
(This has nothing to do with fish or anything else, just an observation.)

Good one, Peter Collins, thank you!

Rob C 8:20 AM  

I chuckled when I realized how close this puzzle was to my LAT of Jan 2. @jackj has a great memory...well maybe just good, it was only 2 weeks ago after all.

I liked the bonus theme in the corners.

Interesting point that both puzzles were independently accepted long ago and apparently there's no process to delay a puzzle where a similar one was run in another publication shortly before. I wonder if that's because the crossover audience is thought to be so small - think about the Venn diagram on this. Maybe it was thought that since only one of the theme answers were the same, there was enough of a difference. Or perhaps they simply don't care what the other one does?

Tita 8:20 AM  

Gone fishin'!

Also liked the old salt spinning YARNS. Ith IBET the response to how big that FISH really was.

Hearing folks talk about their speed and penmanship in the grid, I decided to see how silly and flowery I could write...
Top - flowery, middle, my "normal" writing, bottom, slanty.

Tita 8:26 AM  

@chefwen - I hope Toby is doing OK.

jberg 8:48 AM  

I asked my wife if she would ever utter the word REICE - her reply was "I'm not even going to say it now." It might be OK with a hockey clue, but it's a stretch.

On the other hand, the up-to-date political commentary in the clue for 34A was nice.

But what do we think about CAUGHT in 52A? If one wanted to pick NITS, could one argue that it's too fishy, and therefor dilutes the theme? No doubt its presence is the reason "landed" is used instead in the revealer. But maybe that's just too picky.

Unknown 8:48 AM  

This was about as well done as a puzzle about _fish_ can be, I guess.

B Donohue 9:18 AM  

Uncommon Tuesday DNF- I couldn't get 2 tiles: WHELp, AnABEL, pLInTH.

Am very happy to learn those words, as well as PATEN and HONSHU. I liked the theme and, like Rex, uncovered it late in my solve.

Thank you, Rex!

Random Thoughts 9:33 AM  

Velcro is the brand name of Hook and Loop fasteners

grEy = European
grAy = American

I've noticed that *paper* speed solvers (like Tyler) seem to be reading the next clue as they are writing the current answer. Thus the bad pencilmanship.

chefbea 9:33 AM  

Fairly easy puzzle but DNF. Did not know plinth or CDR. What is a cdr??

Did know that velcro is made of hooks and eyes.

JenCT 9:45 AM  

Was reading the answer to 15a as NOUSE - what's a NOUSE? I love when that happens...

First wanted a brand name for Weed killer.

Kept wanting HUEVO to start with an "O."

Didn't know PLINTH, but I knew PATEN - go figure.

Liked it.

John V 9:45 AM  

Yo! CARPE DIEM, y'all. Medium/Challenging here, 7 miles, Stamford to RYE. All the tough, non-Tuesday words were easily crossed. I had fun with this one. Nice to have a bit more of challenge on a Tuesday. Thanks, Peter.

Gareth Bain 9:48 AM  

I came here to say Rob C must have had a surprise, but jackj beat me to it! I certainly didn't forget his puzzle... I blogged it at DOACF!

Rob C 10:04 AM  

@Gareth B - Very nice LAT puzzle today. Congrats!

retired_chemist 10:17 AM  


captcha bytobam 11948 - rather appropriate to this comment.

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

Error at WAHINE / WHELP.. pretty ouchy cross, especially when you write it out like that. Had SAHINE / SHELP. Ooops.

Wikipedia 10:35 AM  


Wikipedia 10:38 AM  

Since CD-R is a W.O.R.M. is it part of the theme?

baja 10:47 AM  

Love the sound of the word Plinth! Only reason I know that word is from various Ikea - assemble it yourself projects. With all their made up furniture names, I was never quite sure if plinth was made up as well.

Two Ponies 10:50 AM  

Some of the fish caught my eye before the reveal so that was fun.
The bonuses in the corners sewed it all together nicely.
Agree that yarns as fish tales could be an extra bonus.
I thought a paten was the roller in a typewriter.
Orientate is fingernails on a blackboard to me. The Brits also say aluminium, almost as bad.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:55 AM  

Liked the puzzle with its school of theme answers.

I hope to get to the event, info below. Anyone else?

Barnes and Noble, Clifton, NJ

Puzzlewright Author Event

Attention all Sudoku and crossword puzzle fans! Join us at this interactive event led by puzzle expert Tony Orbach. There will be contests and prizes as well as a free puzzle sampler for each participant.
Tuesday January 15, 2013 7:00 PM

Clifton Commons, 395 Route 3 East, Clifton, NJ 07014, 973-779-5500

Sparky 10:57 AM  

Had buTS before NITS. Like @Qvant popped an O in at 36A. Pretty easy. Have heard of ash blonde which is what people tell me I should use, but I prefer brassy. Have a good day.

Sparky 10:58 AM  

@chefwen. Is Toby the rascal that was rescued by the Stiller family?

lawprof 11:13 AM  

So...what was the easiest clue/answer in today's puzzle? I'd nominate 18A, Pillowcase go-with/SHEET. But I immediately dropped in (drum roll) duveT.

My first response, when I realized the error, was that I'd been "overthinking" the problem, i.e., eschewing the obvious in favor of the more obscure. Perhaps I could console myself with this post hoc rationalization if I'd first thought of SHEET, paused, made the conscious decision that that was too easy and then written in my answer. But no, duvet just popped into my head.

Sometimes what we characterize as overthinking is simply not thinking at all.

Mel Ott 11:17 AM  

I see Master Melvin made it into yet another puzzle. I noticed that a young ballplayer named OLT made it to the big leagues last season. I suppose it's only a matter of time before he makes it into crossword puzzles.

You have been warned!

Loren Muse Smith 11:35 AM  

So let me first note –a ton of theme squares and little drek – impressive!

@jae – cool “catch” on CRIB over DUDE. And I’ll have to check out the ClearPoints -( we unabashed pencil solvers need to stick together) – but I’ve been using those Bics for over a year. . .

@Ellen – I know – where to draw that grammar line – I try not to be a usage police either, but it is hard.

@Rex – love your I CAN’T over NO USE observation.

@retired_chemist – I have a great ashtray grey dress! Your posts make me smile.

@chefwen – I hope Toby is ok.

@Ulrich – very good point.

@Joho - great switcharoos to add theme!

@lawprof – duvet – how fancy!

@Andrea and jackj (from yesterday) – I have to agree with Andrea about the plural two letter initials and crosswordese. I like her metaphor that they’re the glue to help all the rest stick. Just this weekend I dropped to my knees and thanked those EPEE-wielding TSARS in the URALS that a word fit in a grid I’m working on. The word??? EELER.

@Evan – I didn’t get a chance to respond to your proposal Monday – in this group erudite, eloquent people are the NORM, so it is such a relief and really refreshing when someone is open about not knowing something. I lurked for months here, reading, appreciating, admiring, wanting to play, too, but feeling inadequate. Little by little, as people were honest about not knowing words, I began thinking, “Hey, maybe I *will* post something here. . .” Thanks to you and all of the others who so openly share their mistakes and unfamiliarity with words, this site is less intimidating to newcomers. Hey, you lurkers and Anonymice out there– get a name, an avatar, and pull up a chair!

@Peter – nice, difficult one for me but luckily non-lethal; I but pretty near bought it HOOK, line, and sinker.

Anoa Bob 11:56 AM  

I use both ORIENT and ORIENTATE. I think of them as having overlapping but not totally synonymous meaning.

ORIENT suggests getting ones bearings, literally, as in deciding which direction to go after becoming DISORIENTED while driving in a new city.

ORIENTATE has a broader connotation of getting settled in and becoming familiar with ones surroundings, like when one attends an ORIENTATION session at a new school or job.

jae 12:01 PM  

@Two Ponies -- Close, the roller is a platen. I've mixed the two up more than once.

And, if you do the LA Times daily you've seen WHELP very recently.

GILL I. 12:05 PM  

I'd just love to see OCCIDENTATE sometime soon. I'll throw in SKININESS as well.
Fun puzzle but am puzzled by CRIB for a hip-hoppers home.
Love FISH in any shape or form. I wonder if the HUEVOS on La PINTA were pidan.
@chefwen: I hope Toby is ok...fingers crossed.

Carola 12:13 PM  

I looked ahead at the "reveal" clue when I already had the BAIT from 1A, so I knew I'd be looking for FISH - made those long theme answers a lot easier to get. Liked it - and even more after others here pointed out the ROD and YARNS and the almost wORM and WHELk. Had fun figuring out WAHINE, WHELP, PLINTH, PATEN. I liked how "I CAN'T" was sort of answered by "TOUCAN."

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

There's no such word as "orientate". The verb "orient" gets the added "a" syllable to make the noun "orientation" to make it pronounceable; you have to drop it again to go back to a verb form.

retired_chemist 12:37 PM  

When I was an undergraduate we had ORIENTATION for us all. We had an influx of Chinese students - in the fifties this was a novelty, particularly for us small town guys. We joked (it was word-play, not racial, AFAIK) about OCCIDENTATION for the Chinese students.

Lois 12:47 PM  

I believe that the (British) Concise Oxford Dictionary prefers "orient" as a verb to "orientate," but I don't have it here at home to check. "Orientate" is a bit of a British usage, but I'm not sure how "correct" it is considered to be.

Merriam-Webster Online 12:54 PM  


Cambridge Dictionary Online 1:00 PM  


syndy 1:37 PM  

SOOOO both ORIENT and ORIENTATE as well as GREY and GRAY are correct-nice to have that settled!I liked this puzzle better than the average tuesday!I had ROLE before WAIF but no problemo!

evil doug 1:39 PM  

Well. Fascinating stuff. If only we hadn't already suffered this mindless wrestling match multiple times in the past....

But maybe you dictionary eggheads can help me out. Is it sharont? Or sharontate?


Bird 1:47 PM  

I like the theme and its density, but I could not complete this puzzle as the mid-west was too difficult for me (for a Tuesday?). WAHINE is not at all familiar and I never heard WHELP used to mean young dog or the term PLINTH.

Good theme answers and the fill, aside from the mid-west, was not terrible either. My only nit is for FATNESS as I don’t think it’s a word and I really don’t think anybody uses that word.

Steven Wright once said, “There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore looking like an idiot.”

@chefwen – Absolutely no ice in my whiskey; single-malt or otherwise. Hope Toby feels better soon.

To Orientate or Not To Orientate 1:51 PM  

If you spin an [Oriental] man in a circle three times, does he become disoriented?

Yeah, I know. But "Asian man" doesn’t work.

Goose Gossage 2:11 PM  

Another OTT reference today.
It's unfair is all I will say!
We're both in the Hall,
Though MY puzzle role's small
With one measly shout out Saturday.

Z 2:29 PM  

@Evil Doug - It depends on which side of the pond you are fishing from, I guess.

Anoa Bob 2:35 PM  

Evil, we dictionary eggheads understand there will always be philistines who do not appreciate niceties and nuances of language, and who tend to throw stones at those who do.

Fell free to skip over our comments if they are not to your liking. We eggheads won't mind at all.

evil doug 2:44 PM  

...and we people of common sense, logic and fatigue with overblown controversies on asinine subjects understand there will always be anal retentive goofs getting wrapped around the axle of tired and contrived nerd debates.

You feel free to pass me by, too---except those OCD hobgoblins raging in that smart brain of yours probably won't let you.


Anoa Bob 3:20 PM  

Evil, I share your love of Seinfeld---seen all the episodes, most of them multiple times---but it looks like that's about it.

I had always thought there was a layer of, if not levity, at least good-natured, playful civility to the comments and exchanges on this board. I can see from you previous post I was wrong. Saddens me.

sanfranman59 3:25 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Tue 8:16, 8:37, 0.96, 37%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:58, 4:59, 1.00, 51%, Medium

Sfingi 3:39 PM  

@Ellen @Gill - I agree that ORIENTATE is overdoing. We have ORIENT.

@JackJ - There is one word that Americans overdue that Brits don't, and that's "gotten" for "got."

@JackJ, again - Thanx. I knew I saw that fish stuff recently.

evil doug 3:41 PM  

Seinfeld? Well, Anoa, you can't be all bad.

But I would think someone whose favorite book is the dictionary would be a little circumspect about throwing the word 'philistine' around:

"A smug, ignorant, especially middle-class person who is regarded as being indifferent or antagonistic to artistic and cultural values."

How dare you call me 'middle-class'?

Sometimes dictionary people are great on denotation, not so good on connotation. Or satire.


ksquare 3:53 PM  

How about COMMENTATOR? One who expounds on a topic is a commenter while a commentater is an ordinary tuber. Ha ha!

chefbea 4:12 PM  

@ksquare good one!!!

Fly on the wall 4:12 PM  

@anoa bob, @evil Doug - you guys are a couple of high-hats, but at least you keep this place buzzing.

chefwen 6:30 PM  

I am devastated to report that Toby aka "The Little One" didn't make it, he went to that big doggy run in the sky at 8:30 this morning.

Thank you all so much for your care and concern, it means a lot to me.

@Sparky - Yes Toby was that rascally rascal who got to spend the night with Ben Stiller and his lovely wife Christine Taylor.

As I'm sure all of you know, losing a pet SUCKS!!! Thanks for the exclamation points Andrea.

evil doug 6:51 PM  

Sorry, chefwen. The sad price of loving a dog is the final farewell. We're nearing that moment with our ol' Jack Russell, and it can make a grown man (or woman) weak and weepy. Hope you find peace in the happy memories....


Ellen S 6:54 PM  

@chefwen, so sorry to hear about Toby. I'm old, and I've said good-bye to a lot of pets. I know the drill, but the loss still leaves a four-letter word for empty place in my heart. As an -- (thinking of @acme's suggestion, maybe less of an agnostic than anti-theist, so I have someone to blame)-- where was I? Oh, yes: I just lost my 19-year old cat, Mickey, a dear boy who agreeably put up with all the medical things that come with old age. But I got to thinking, what if we are reunited with ALL of our pets when it's our turn to go to the big dog run in the sky? I mean, what if the dogs don't all like each other? Do I have to clean a dozen cat boxes every day? How do I pet them all? Do cat-angels still throw up in my shoes? Will all the dogs be tag-teaming me with slimy rubber balls to throw for them?

During the all-too-brief dozen years or so they are with me, each enriches my life unimaginably. But I'm not sure I want all of them back at once.

JFC 7:16 PM  

@Chefwen, so sorry for your loss. The last time I bawled like a baby was when Rogers went out with a concussion (joy) and when our Airedale died (very sad)....


Ellen S 7:16 PM  

@Evil, I'm glad I didn't waste a post snarking at you. What you said about Toby was perfect.

chefbea 7:46 PM  

@chef sorry!!!

joho 8:27 PM  

@chefwen so very sorry to hear about Toby. The only bright spot is to know that he was so loved by you and well taken care of ... and happy. Just like he made you.

Our dogs are so amazing. If only they could live longer than they do.

JenCT 8:59 PM  

@chefwen: so sorry...

Years ago, when my son was about 5 years old, it was time to put our Golden Retriever down. The vet made him wait outside, while I comforted the dog during her last minutes.

When it was all over, I went out to explain & comfort my son - whose face suddenly brightened as he exclaimed, "Now we can get a puppy!!!!"

Out of the mouths of babes...

retired_chemist 9:04 PM  

As a golden retriever and pug breeder, I am impressed at the number of dog lovers on this blog-list. Not sure what the origin of this is, but I know I am in the right online community.

I have conveyed my feelings privately to Chefwen.

GILL I. 9:16 PM  

@ret-chem. Same here...SOB!

Carola 9:20 PM  

@chefwen - So sorry!

Masked and Anonymous 9:58 PM  

@chefwen - Hate to see such good people like you lose such close friends like Toby. And dogs are the very best. Truly sorry.
Reminds me of an olde NYT puz. Here it is: Feb 17, 1999.

sanfranman59 10:02 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 5:58, 6:12, 0.96, 30%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:20, 8:37, 0.97, 39%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:35, 3:39, 0.98, 34%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:54, 4:57, 0.99, 47%, Medium

Tita 10:24 PM  

@chefwen...I am so sorry to hear about little Toby.

I am not sure if this is something you would want to read now, or save till later (or not at all.)
You may already have seen it - Eugene O'Neill's dog dicated his Last Will and Testament to his master. My friend sent it to me when my sistter's lab died.
I am sobbing here thinking of Toby and of this document.
Siiverdene Emblem O'Neill
Warning - it is very sad, but wonderful.

Stay strong.

Lois 10:37 PM  

Back to orient and orientate: Yes, the Cambridge Dictionary online uses "orientate" for the verb, and does not use "orient" for the verb. However, the Oxford English Dictionary online, when one uses the filter "British and World English" as opposed to U.S. English, has both words, in separate look-ups, with "orientate" having the note "chiefly British" and "orient" having no warning or special remark. As for the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online cited above, which one poster says lists "orientate," it also has a listing for "orient" as a verb. That is the trouble with online dictionaries; it is hard when looking up a word online to see the hierarchy of preferred or more widely used spellings. In printed dictionaries, the more widely used or accepted one is listed first, and there might be a discussion or comparison in the printed volume that is missing online. The New York Times puzzle uses variants, sometimes intentionally adding difficulty that way. Although I don't always like those variants, and didn't today, I've come to accept them to a degree. I thought today's puzzle was pretty interesting, and I enjoyed it.

Milford 10:40 PM  

@chefwen - I am so sorry for your loss. I am also a dog-lover and have been where you are now. I hope the wonderful comments above are some comfort.

Lois 10:41 PM  

I didn't mean to follow the previous sad discussion brusquely with trivialities about spelling and word forms. I just searched for my topic and followed up, without checking on what came before. I'm sorry, chefwen, for your loss.

jae 11:13 PM  

@chefwen -- let me add my sympathies.

mac 11:51 PM  

@chefwen, so sad for you and Toby.
Easy puzzle, and easy to spot the theme, somehow I noticed the trout, then went fishing for more.

Loved the corner additions to the theme, that was clever!

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

This fish-related theme was done last week in the LA Times.

Waxy in Montreal 10:39 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Spacecraft 10:45 AM  

Easy one today. My eyes fell to the Houseman clue, and THEPAPERCHASE flew right in. The rest of the theme stuff--both long and short--went soon after. The density is impressive. Close to 35% of the whole grid is theme. And the fill is not awful. These guys are getting better at this.

ORIENTATE is a back-formation. Orient is a perfectly good word without the -ate, but "oriention" is awkward, so we came up with the more rhythmic and ear-pleasing word "ORIENTATION." By back-formation, the verb form of that would be "ORIENTATE." Not in MY vocabulary it wouldn't. Compare "preventative medicine." Just what is it that we are trying to "preventate?"

Another word that ruffles my feathers is "FATNESS." Outside of one of the many titles of "respect" conferred upon Orson by Mork ("your fatness," your obesity," "your corpulence," etc.), it doesn't see much use.

I like that the FISH is CAUGHT in the last long themer, and that the DUDE is in his CRIB.

Waxy in Montreal 10:49 AM  

Sympathies to primetimer @chefwen on the loss of Toby along with the sincere hope that the five weeks since have brought about a measure of closure to all concerned.

As for the puzzle, I think the earlier comments covered the piscatorial theme from head to tail. So I'd just be a fish out of water attempting any other angle on it just for the halibut.

captcha=Freelic, something I can eely do without in this context.

DMGrandma 1:59 PM  

Enjoyed the fishing trip. Had to replace Nano with NSEC, and relearn how to spell HERBaCIDE, but otherwise all was smooth. Sorry to learn about @chefwen's loss. It always hurts to lose a pet, but mine have all been a joy, and left me with good memories. I hope with time she'll find the same.

Dirigonzo 3:44 PM  

Belated condolences to @chefwen on the loss of her pet.The joy they bring when they are with us amplifies our grief when they are gone.

So to the puzzle: With THEPA... already in place for the 1973 film I plugged in the rest without hesitation, ...RENTTRAP - never mind that John Houseman wasn't in it and it didn't win any Academy awards, it fit so in it went. That took some straightening out. Replacing puppy at 31d gave me some heartburn because WHELP didn't spring immediately to mind and some of the crosses were pretty dicey. All's well that ends well, though and I even "caught" the fish theme before I came here.

@Waxy - your piscatorial pun reminds me of the old novelty tune "Wet Dream". It must be available on youtube and it's well worth a listen by someone with your refined sense of punniness.

Waxy in Montreal 3:46 PM  

@Diri - will try to catch it...

rain forest 6:08 PM  

As a Canadian I strive to maintain "British" spelling and usage, and pronounce the letter "Z" as "zed". However, there are times, as in the case of "orient"/"orientate", where I think common sense must prevail. There is no need to use, say, spell, pronounce or write "orientate". It is an abomination, worse because it has made me spend my comment on something incredibly trivial. I apologize for that.

I liked the puzzle, found it harder than yesterday's, thought the theme answers were very good (enough "sizzle" for me), and was not unsettled by the fill or the cluing. Having just lost my cat last week to cancer, I empathize with @chefwen.

Dirigonzo 6:19 PM  

@rain forest - my most sincere sympathy on the loss of your feline companion. I doesn't matter how old or how sick our pets are when we lose them, we still grieve.

Ginger 6:32 PM  

@chefwen - It is heartbreaking to lose 4 legged friends, but that's the price I am happy to pay for all the love and wet kisses they have given me, whether it's been a short time or for many years. I believe my life is so much richer for the sharing with them. So sorry for your loss.

As for the puzzle, loved it. I also want to thank Rex for his write-up, and posters for their comments; they have increased my appreciation of it.

I'm a tennis junkie, but have never heard ANABEL Medina referred to without the Garrigues. I think she's pretty obscure for Tuesday.

Also, usually think of HUEVOs in a slightly different context.

Ginger 6:39 PM  

@rain forest - So sorry about your kitty. As @Diri said so well, we still grieve.

chefwen 9:24 PM  

@All the fine people in Syndi Land - Thank you for all your kind words. I had to go back and reread the comments from 5 weeks ago and discovered a bunch of NEW warm words.

There is still a big hole but the new Avatar, Skippy, is trying very hard to fill it.

@rain forest - So sorry for your loss also.

Tita 10:00 PM  

@rain sorry about your cat.

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