BFFs, Mon 3/11/13, Champion, Bugs, Fleas, Tomfoolery, Bussing

Monday, March 11, 2013

Happy Monday!!!  The BFFs are back because Rex is bussing it back to Binghamton after a glamorous weekend in New York City at the ACPT (Annual Crossword Puzzle Tournament?  American Crossword Puzzle Tournament?  Something like that).  So when Rex asked for our help, we were thrilled as always to stand-in for the 31st fastest crossword puzzle solver in the universe.  Or for the 40th fastest.  Or the fastest in Westchester/Upstate New York.  Whatever his rank, he'll always be number one to us.

Constructor: Robert Fisher

Relative difficulty: Monday = Easy (that's why Rex lets us blog)

THEME: ANIMALS - all of the theme answers begin with the name of a male animal

Word of the Day: BREVITY 


 noun \ˈbre-və-tē\
plural brev·i·ties

Definition of BREVITY

: shortness of duration; especially : shortness or conciseness of expression
Of course this word wasn't in the puzzle, but, we're tired and cranky because of the stupid time change (it's daylight SAVING time, not SAVINGS!!!).  Also, the blog website was acting really buggy, (maybe it has FLEAS?), so we really need to get this done before it crashes (again) and we lose everything (again!)
• • •

Theme answers:
  • 17A Prankish activity - TOMfoolery
  • 23A Double-whammy economic condition - STAGflation
  • 35A Without a stitch on - BUCKnaked
  • 50A Impromptu, wide-ranging conversation - BULLsession
  • 58A Shoddy and unsturdy - RAMshackle
The clue answers were pretty good, although we're not really sure that "TOM" fits as an animal.  But we'll let it slide because we imagine that our BFF Rex managed to engage in some TOMFOOLERY while hanging with his puzzle friends in New York.

Clues we liked:
  • 16A Rest ____ (roadside stop) - AREA — Rex took a bus from Binghamton to Brooklyn.  
  • 21A Attic accumulation  - DUST — Whoever has dust in their attic is luckier than Liz.  She has raccoons.
  • 25D One nipping Nipper, maybe - FLEA — We loved this one.  Even though in addition to the raccoons, Liz also had a flea infestation 2 years ago (I blame the "pet friendly" hotel in West Virginia, but, that's a story for another day).

How's that for brevity?

Signed, your favorite BFFs


Anonymous 12:07 AM  

All MALE animals, geddit?

chas 12:09 AM  

More specifically, all male animals, so TOM works good, you turkeys.

retired_chemist 12:19 AM  

As usual did not get the theme until I finished the puzzle. That led to UNCLOTHED @ 35A and JERRY BUILT or JURY RIGGED @ 58A. Fixed both easily with crosses, but that's slow, so my time was a bit slower than normal.

Fill more lively that expected, so thumbs up here. Thanks,Mr. Fisher.

Thank god 12:19 AM  

Un-castrated males.

Unknown 12:29 AM  

Kudos to all the Rexites who represented at the ACPT. Even if you didn't finish where you wanted to be you're worlds above those of us who didn't try at all Good job!

Elle54 12:34 AM  

Did anyone else NATICK at the BAYRUM ODAY cross? TOM could also go with cat.

Area Cracker Mislays 12:46 AM  

It's interesting that TOM works for cats and turkeys, wonder what the derivation of all that is about and why it doesn't extend to other animals...

Like why aren't male goats called "Chuck" or "Larry" or something?

Very nice little twist on animal+ something. All male makes a tight little set. An, more specifically as parts of words, not just stand alone. Fabulous! Not to mention FIVE of them, with the intriguing BUCKNAKED smack dab in the middle!

Just posted an "I'm still high on the ACPT" as the 99th comment on Sunday's Finntastic puzzle, so I;ll call it a night. Gonna hang in NY a little longer and let it all sink in.

Anonymous 2:32 AM  

Total natick for me. Never heard of either.

chefwen 2:48 AM  

I had more write-overs than I can recall on a Monday. 2D EGOTIST before EGO trip, 11D EROSIve before EROSION, bAREnaKED before BUCK NAKED, last was HI Def before HI RES. A lot of rethinking on a usual walk in the park Monday.

Still waiting for pics, you ACPT goers.

jae 3:00 AM  

Excellent Mon.  Very smooth fill and a zippy theme.  @chefwen me too for BareNAKED, plus misspelling RUBELLA slowed me down.  So, medium for me.

Ellen S 3:22 AM  

Hand up for bareNAKED but I still say it was easy. EELS --again!!!! Talk about infestations!

What impresses me the most is how people (like Rex and his BFFs) are able to recognize themes like this that I never notice until coming here.

And hey, shouldn't extraneous animals ... like EELS ... be barred from puzzles with animal themes?

Jack Lee 6:23 AM  

Hands up for BAYRUM/ODAY. #%*£!

MetaRex 6:34 AM  

All hail 40!

CrossWord and CrossOver ratings at Bad boys

The ACPT finals

webwinger 6:36 AM  

As comments above attest, and my significantly longer than usual time on Magmic confirms, this was a considerably harder than average Monday. I too almost Naticked at ODAY and BAYRUM—both very obscure for early week, as was much of the cluing (though I got MAT and ALIT right away this time; cf. Saturday’s diabolical clues for same). Thematically very satisfying, with consistently high quality answers. Fill was quite good overall, too. Interesting to see NEUTERS crossing BULL, and casting a pall over the whole theme. All the longer downs were pretty impressive, actually. Liked the multiple eye references: PUPIL, IRIS, ORB.

Hail to the conquering heroes of ACPT, and especially ol’ number 40—amen to the BFFs, you’re still numero uno with us. Welcome back Rex!

Bob Kerfuffle 7:19 AM  

No reason to cast MALEdictions at our BFFs, nor to BOYcott their write-up. I believe they have MANaged to insert a bit of humor and give Ys commenters (and XX commenters, too) something to write about.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:33 AM  

The ACPT, in my abbreviated review:

Clearly the social event of the year, rubbing elbows with so many of the constructors of our favorite puzzles. Rexville was well represented with (usual apology to anyone I forget at this ridiculously early hour - the sun isn't up yet) mac, imsdave, Sparky, Tita, Evan, Karen and her mother Julie, nanpilla and her sister Beth, Tita, MetaRex (part time), Evan, Loren Muse Smith, Lindsay.

My personal contest results were a bit disappointing: Hoping to hold onto my coveted 200th place ranking, I fell to 244th (as of the latest posting - the list has been known to change as corrections are made.) Probably two factors at work here: The general level of competitors is going up, and my skills are going down. Not surprised that my brain would fall into decay as the rest of my body does!

Still, a wonderful weekend. Now to mark the calendar for Lollapuzzoola 6 on August 10 and ACPT for March 7, 8, & 9, 2014.

joho 8:09 AM  

All male animals make this tight Monday theme anything but RAMSHACKLE.

My favorites were BULLSESSION and BUCKNAKED.

You could say I'm HEAD over EELS for this puzzle!

Thank you, Robert Fisher, you got us off to a great start!

Unknown 8:11 AM  

Cute and quick Monday. I think the theme should be labeled MANIMALS.

Gareth Bain 8:28 AM  

Male goats are billies (or bucks, or sometimes even rams) I thought, which is close enough to chuck or larry.

Loren Muse Smith 9:03 AM  

Perfect Monday, Robert! Loved that HOT HEADed OGRE in the NW.

Ok – I’m not the animal husbandry expert. @Thank god said these are uncastrated males? So NEUTERS is an elegant little joke!

Mom told me I (or she?) was exposed to the RUBELLA GERM.

Our ORBS have a PUPIL and an IRIS. They also have a Canal of Schlemm that I always think would be in the throat, but that’s just vitreous humor. Hey – sorry – my uncle is a retired ophthalmologist. Hi, Hamp in Hickory, NC!

(FWIW – BEQ and, ahem, yes I met him! We had a very funny conversation about nostrils. Did you see his constructor’s picture for the ACPT? Really funny picture. And he’s truly a nice and gracious guy.)

Rex is a truly nice and gracious guy, too. Very approachable, friendly and unscary.

Solver-friendly ALIT today vs David Steinberg’s clue for ALIT on Saturday. Yes, I met him, too. He told me his AREA in that grid was the North. This guy could be my grandson, and WARREN ZEVON is more on his radar screen than mine!

@joho – loved HEAD over EELS!

@Susan McConnell – MANIMALS – CRACKed me up!

I RECKON this southerner should speak to NAKED. In my dialect it rhymes with “checked” – yes, I pronounce that ed as “id.” Here’s what Lewis Grizzard says about the word:

“NAKED means you ain’t got no clothes on. ‘Nekkid’ means you ain’t got no clothes on and you UP TO sump’in.”

I have to gather my thoughts about the ACPT. It’s still all sinking in. I’ll post later when I process it. Monumental trip for me.

Again – great puzzle, Robert! (Andrea – I started kicking around a copycat female one. When my daughter saddles up her horse, I guess you could say she does a BIT CHECK, but that’s not a phrase. I’ll keep chewing on it. ;-)

efrex 9:10 AM  

Much fun, although felt Tuesday-ish in a bunch of places. Like others, had trouble at the BAYRUM/ODAY cross (Got saved thanks to a Sweeney Todd line: see, mom? Showtunes CAN be useful!). Other than that, and the legitimate-but-awkward MISLAY (much more familiar with the past tense form of the word), this was a real winner, albeit a bit testosterone-heavy.

Nicely done, Mr. Fisher!

orangeblossomspecial 9:10 AM  

'Take me back to 6D TULSA' was a hit for Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys.

48D 'BOO HOO' was one of Guy Lombardo's biggest hits.

joho 9:16 AM  

@loren muse smith ... you placed 400 in your first tournament: congratulations! That's fantastic!

Our own IMS Dave was 138! And one of our favorite constructors, Doug Peterson was 18! Way to go!

And, definitely NOT last and not least, our leader, @Rex, came in a 40.

You guys are great!

chefbea 9:20 AM  

Easy puzzle and knew the theme was Manamals!!! What a great word

Glad everyone had such a good time this weekend!!

Stephen Colbert 9:22 AM  

@LMS - A BIT CHECK is indeed a thing. Before you enter the ring for a dressage test the steward does exactly that. So, it's a thing. For about 5000 people. 5000 people with tiaras

B Donohue 9:24 AM  

Elle54- You are not alone. Same Natick by me.

jackj 9:37 AM  

Robert Fisher did a nice job cluing the Y chromosome guys and, no doubt, there will be some clamoring to feature the double X chromosome group as well.

First, though, dealing with what we have in today’s puzzle, we have five superb theme phrases each one HEAD(ed) by the male of the selected animals, TOM for turkey, STAG and BUCK for deer, BULL for cattle and RAM for sheep with the best phrase being the least adorned, BUCKNAKED, for one of the deer clues.

With NEUTERS threatening all, it is successfully keeping the animals in line so there is room to note the presence of some other terrific fill like RECKONED, BOOHOO, ARMREST, EGOTRIP, ONCEMORE, RUBELLA and BAYRUM.

For the X chromosome equal time clamorers, how about:

The female turkey could be clued as HENPECKED or HENPARTY

The first female deer as HINDSIGHT or HINDQUARTERS

The second one as DOEEYED or DOESKIN

The female cattle as COWCATCHER or COWLICK

The lady sheep, oh, the sheep, er, um, well, ahem, it will just have to be EWENECKED

(At this juncture a constructor would likely opt for a substitute and maybe it calls for a donkey, whose male is JACK, with the female being the more interesting JENNY, so, JENNYCRAIG, JENNYCAKE or JENNYLONGLEGS would be much more fun than EWENECKED.)

DANKE schön, Robert Fisher for a first-rate shot of testosterone and whimsy.

Nancy in PA 9:51 AM  

Was I the only one with BareNAKED then ButtNAKED before BUCKNAKED? I thought the Old Gray Lady was getting pretty edgy!

My experience at ACPT was pretty much like @BobKerfuffle, complete with coming in ONE rank below him both last year and this year! I was bummed out to drop in the rankings as all other years I had risen, but the competition was fierce and the numbers are beside the point anyway. Had a great time reconnecting with people I only see once a year but have so much in common with.

Nancy in PA 10:23 AM  

And PS--as treedweller said in yesterday's write-up, this is a good time to donate to Rex's blog. I do it every year around the ACPT, when I am most mindful of how much coming here every day enhances my puzzling...

Turtle 10:34 AM  

First off, MISLAY. Is that a word. It didn't trip me up that long, but MISLEAD is the present tense of MISLED.

NATICK/ODAY was total bullspit! As a person under 25 years old, I feel that I shoulder no responsibility to know either of those words...

Two Ponies 10:44 AM  

Great Monday grid. Loved it.
I can't see Buck Naked without thinking of George Costanza. He said if he was a porn star that would be his screen name. Maybe Evil Doug will provide the dialog.
I am enjoying hearing about everyone's weekend.
Will we be seeing the tourney puzzles in the paper as we have in the past?

Bob Kerfuffle 10:47 AM  

@Turtle - You have indeed been MISLED. To MISLAY something is to put it in the wrong place and then not be able to find it. Nothing to do with MISLEADing.

MikeM 11:12 AM  

Anita ODAY has appeared many times. I had DEnY before DEFY so my northeast didn't gel at first so I moved down to southeast and PIE.

syndy 11:18 AM  

@Turtle and the wonder of xwords is that it helps to fill up the empty portions of the HEAD. I feel very old as I had no trouble with either Miss O'DAY or the memory of my granddad's BAYRUM.I was however bareNAKED before I was BUCK.I am also all too familiar with the word and concept MISLAY.

John V 11:19 AM  

Greetings from Albany.

Hand up for Natick. Otherwise, a good one.

Sandy K 11:19 AM  

Really liked this not-too-easy Monday puz! Loved STAGFLATION and the LACK of junky fill.

@Susan M- Perfect title!

Enjoying the tales of the ACPT.

Unknown 11:23 AM  

Haven't seen any recently but in the late 60's just about every male college student had a bottle of St. John's Bay Rum on his dresser.

mac 11:25 AM  

Nice Monday puzzle! Too bad I put in bummer for boohoo, but it was easily fixed. I Knew O'Day from crossword puzzles....

I needed a good night sleep after the long ACPT weekend, but it was a great kind of tired! Wonderful to see so many crossword friends. I think I've eaten enough french fries to last me a couple of months.... So when can we sign up for 2014??

Lewis 11:48 AM  

ESSO NOTSO DRAT! -- and don't you forget it!

I like seeing MAT and NED on the east, the HOT EMU on the west with his ORB PIE, and trying to avoid the HEAD STAFF GERM to the north.

This puzzle had lots 'o verve, was much fun. I thought it was a little tougher than the average Monday, and that's an issue with me. My 26 year old son said he tried some Monday and Tuesday puzzles, but just did awful on them -- and he's quite bright. These are the puzzles, I thought, meant to bring in new solvers. I know my son was discouraged and won't be trying them any time soon again.

As we say here in Asheville, namaste y'all...

jberg 12:18 PM  

I thought @Turtle's "no responsibility" remark was a bit of Rexite irony, actually. But anyway -- BAY RUM obscure? How sad - pretty sure it's still there on the shelves.

And, yes, lots of other gender teams are non-specific: buck, stag, bull (e.g. whales) for males, doe, hen, sow (pigs, bears) for females. Gotta admit I didn't get TOM as male until I came here, though.

Brevity it is!

Carola 12:36 PM  

Loved the Monday TOMFOOLERY. Very fun to see the array of studly males come into view, so HOT - unless some OGRE NEUTERS them, yikes. LACK of ORBs?

@lms - Also liked HOT x HEAD ... and REST x AREA. 

@Ellen S - Thought of you in the far SE - ONCE MORE: EELS!   Did you say DRAT? :) 

Great to have you back, BFFs!
CRACKERJACK puzzle, Robert Fisher. DANKE!

Notsofast 12:37 PM  

A simple puzzle made by an obviously bright person. A breeze. Like a "I'm sitting on the porch drinking an ice tea with lemon and nothin' to do" kind of breeze. This is what Mondays should be like. Thank you, Robert Fisher.

Oldactor 12:55 PM  

To all of you who did not know O'Day, do yourselves a favor and hear her on Youtube.

You'll never forget her.

Anoa Bob 1:18 PM  

Thanks for the nice comments. I had already done a puzzle elsewhere with female names (not names of female animals) in the theme so I started out with male names in mind for this one, but went with names of male animals instead because it generated a much longer list of potential candidates.

I've found having a long list of potential theme candidates is helpful because then I can try several different grid designs and theme combos until I get one I like.

I knew Anita O'DAY would be a bit obscure for some but thought BAY RUM was more familiar.

Any TRYSTS at the ACPT I wonder?

Bird 1:41 PM  

Yes, an easy and good Monday puzzle. The last piece to fall was 48A crossing 34D. I wasn’t sure of her last name and for a while all I could think of was BAR RUM as the scent that men prefer.

Only writeover was BARE NAKED (as in the band Bare Naked Ladies) before BUCK NAKED.

Congrats to all the ACPT participants and to @Rex for being the 40th Greatest Crossword Solver in the Universe and the 2013 ACPT Regional Champion, New York/Westchester division.

Daylight Saving(s) does suck.

Milford 1:47 PM  

@Anoa Bob - I didn't realize this puzzle was yours! Nice!

Nice Monday, a few tricky spots here and there (e.g. REST stop before REST AREA) so my time was a little slow. Didn't see the theme until after I finished, but it was a great theme that made me smile.

Yes, the O'DAY/BAYRUM cross was my last square I filled in, but running the alphabet and using the Evan whatchamajig principle to find the best letter candidate.

Congrats to all those who competed at the tournament, you beat all of us who weren't there!

Ulrich 1:58 PM  

I was naticked, too, by Bay Rum and had to be rescued by non-puzzle wife. Googling afterwards produced this interesting picture caption (at Wikipedia):
This Rexall bay rum from the Prohibition era in the United States was labeled "for external use only," but with 58% grain alcohol it was often used as a legal means to obtain alcohol for drinking.

Elle54 1:58 PM  

Hey @Anoa Bob! Great puzzle! Maybe I would have gotten "Aubrey who was on Celebrity Apprentice" for ODay. Oh well! Keep the puzzles coming!

GILL I. 2:32 PM  

Wow, this was @Anoa Bob...Good, fun puzzle. Only initial mistake I had was RUBEoLA but that FLEA bag RAM SHACKLE LASSOed me in ONCE MORE.
I once met a cockatoo that would screetch "polly want a CRACK at her."
Thanks Robert Fisher. Where you at the ACPT as well?

Nameless 2:47 PM  

Great puzzle Bob! The only jazzy Anita I know is Mrs. Baker who sings "Sweet Love" and "Giving You the Best That I Got" so hands up for BA_RUM/ODA_ being the last to fall after running the alphabet.

My only nit is about the first and last columns as they are loaded with dull words. But I had to find something, didn't I?

sanfranman59 3:16 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)

Mon 6:40, 6:14, 1.07, 82%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:12, 3:42, 1.14, 92%, Challenging

Mark 3:53 PM  

51 comments, and not one pedant has pointed out that Rex is "busing" his way back, not "bussing"? "Bussing" is another word for "kissing," although some dictionaries allow it as an alternate spelling for "busing."

Loren Muse Smith 3:57 PM  

Wow – so this was anoabob’s? Cool!

So I’ve predictably crowed about meeting some constructors at the ACPT – I met many, many top constructors, and each one was nicer than the next. Absolutely no divas anywhere. Period.

But that’s not why I went. I went to meet face-to-face people from this blog whom in a way I count among my best friends. . .

Ims dave – utterly charming, upbeat, funny, exuberant, tall, and, yes, a George Clooney look-alike. He was the mother hen, organizing everyone. Dave and I plan on doing a duet in the talent show next year. Stay tuned.

Tita – so, so warm and friendly. Super intelligent and engaging and I’m not telling anyone anything new here. I didn’t get a chance to spend time with her good-sport of a husband, but I understand he’s just as lovely.

Sparky – Her name should actually be Spunky! Down-to-earth with a fresh “call’em-as-I-see’em” approach that’s really fun! I’m so glad she decided to make the trip up from warm Florida. She’s a great sport and added a lot!

Bob Kerfuffle – never saw him when there wasn’t a twinkle in his eye. Pleasant, funny, smart, extremely nice. Great Hawaiian shirt for the competition. I suggest that next year, all Rexites wear a loud shirt on Saturday.

Mac – elegant, warm, insightful, interesting with a beautiful accent. I could listen to her read the phone book.

Evan – very nice, interesting and friendly. He saw me first and introduced himself. (Did you get your picture?)

Nanpilla – greeted me so warmly right off the bat and made me feel so welcome. Funny, nice, interesting and oh so spry.

Andrea – no surprises here – as bubbly and warm in person as she is here. I never saw her without a smile on her face. And since she knew everyone there, she was quick to introduce people to each other. That’s not so easy, but she was smooth as silk.

Metarex – another non-stop smiler. Possibly more exuberant than Dave! He, too, always had a twinkle in his eye. Very smart guy.

Karen – I felt like I’d known her my whole life! Always smiling, too. Wish I could have spent more time with her. And I wish we could have made it on the Family Feud Stage. I was all over ORATE.

Lindsey – energetic, pleasant, smart, and friendly. And it was totally ok that you kept finishing 20 minutes before me!

David B – daily reader, reluctant poster. (Grab an avatar and join in! I’m waiting. . .)

Rex – If I had had to spend time with the contestants and figure out which one he was, I could not have in a million years picked him out; I had always been a bit scared of him, and I would have been looking for someone intimidating. (Next year, I’ll try to bring you some Pappy Van Winkle)

Y’all start a fund now – put twenty dollars every now and then in an envelope to save up and go next year. I’m not an artist who can express what it feels like to be with so many people who love crossworld. But the desire to express that makes me understand why there are poets and painters out there.

I’ll stop before I start blubbering.

Go next year. Seriously.

chefbea 4:04 PM  

@Loren. That was so nice!!! And you are right. I have met many of the people you mentioned and would love to meet the others. Maybe next never know

Sfingi 4:37 PM  

Didn't notice the theme.

Had sun before ORB and someMORE before ONCEMORE.

Minitheme: Part of the eye.

retired_chemist 4:42 PM  

I wanna go to ACPT sometime, for the same reasons Loren Muse Smith said. However, it's at a bad time of the year for me.

joho 5:00 PM  

@loren muse smith, what a lovely written description of the the residents of Rexville! I would love to meet every single person you mentioned .. and more. I think the passion we all share for crosswords makes us a very special group of people who instantly "get" each other.

Unfortunately, I'm like @retired_chemist and at my busiest time of the year when the tournament runs, working weekends, too.

I'm going to try to make the Westport tournament this year if I can.

Thoracic 5:11 PM  

Can just anyone go to the ACPT to watch, or is it only for smart people? I am a relative neophyte, but am getting moderately obsessive about this whole crossword thing. The tourney sounds like a blast ( as well as a good reason to flee Newfoundland in March every year).

Fly On The Wall 5:43 PM  

@Thoracic - The best person to answer your question would be lms, but until she comes back in the room, I'll spill a little secret: She had signed up to come to the ACPT and just watch, but her friends convinced her to join in the competition. ("Uh, Loren, watching the ACPT means looking at the backs of people's heads and listening to pencils scratching for several hours. It's really only fun if you are in it.") She seems to have enjoyed it!

And if your screen name is "Thoracic" and you can use the word "neophyte" in a sentence, you are quite smart enough. Only reservation is that you are Canadian. The group had an interesting run-in with a Canadian this year . . . :>) (That means I'm kidding . . . sort of.)

No, really, please come.

Milford 7:00 PM  

@loren - what lovely comments about the Rexites! I would come if only to meet you! I especially love how you assure us that Rex isn't so scary.

Z 8:37 PM  

We can assume, then, that Rex doesn't wear his helmet for the competition. A man in a helmet is always intimidating.

Quick, easy solve here, so a little surprised by the mid-day times. The Y was my last letter in. Was pretty sure, but considered BAiRUM/ODAi briefly before going with the Y.

Got the Manimal theme early on, when COLE slaw ruled out Bare NACKED. I often miss the themes on Monday because I'm done before I pause to think about possible themes, but today I paused just long enough to see it.

ARMREST above CS LEWIS is nice, but EGO TRIP above NEUTERS is even better. All in all, though, this puzzle is an ODE TO sex. TRYSTS, HEAD, STAFF, MISLAY, HOT, FLY, ONCE MORE, the whole GAMUT appears. RON and IRIS, NED and KRIS, ALAN with Ms. ODAY, and enough PEWS for confessing their waywardness the next morning. @Anoa Bob - a great start to the week.

GILL I. 8:46 PM  

Late again to the party of comments. @Loren add me to those that think your write-up is terrific!!!!
@Rex. Would you ever had believed you could bring so many new friends together? Wow....,I'm seriously knocked for six!!!

acme 8:59 PM  

@anoa bob,
I too didn't realize that Robert Fisher = anoabob!

Glad to see how smooth and exactly right this puzzle was and that you really put your money where your mouth is...
All the comments, nitpicks, praises and naysays you make here at Rex's are non-hypocritical, you can make a perfect, solid, fun puzzle!

Again, Natick's are when NO one would really know, not just if an answer isn't in your age-range wheelhouse.

And having just seen a "Family Feud" episode where they had to come up with SEVEN top answers for words for BUTT that start with B, (which inspired a puzzle on my part), I am not surprised so many folks had BARE/BUTT etc before BUCK. Again, a PERFECT example where the THEME will help you solve.

The other answers fit, both by definition and by length and even shared letters, but ONLY ONE fits the theme! That's what gives it the bump up, the fun, the wordplay!!!

It's fantastic that Loren was able to capture the feeling we get when we meet each other... It IS a drag that it is so far away (for many) and super expensive, which is a reality.
I know I have needed to cobble together airline miles, housesitting privileges with friends in the city, bartering time as a judge just to be able to be in the same room with all these folks...knowing wonderful friendships will happen
(can't attest to TRYSTS that another poster wondered about), old ones will be refreshed and collaborations will happen and a sweet reminder that there is a lot more going on than putting letters into squares for a smile or two here and there, and the aha moments we live for.

Also the odd, fleeting moment handing @Rex a puzzle, facedown, shortly before Will announced everyone to GO!

That is also something people forget, Will has created this, set the tone, is omnipresent, never hesitates to pose for a photo, has no job beneath him (he collects papers too when the other judges are squirreled in the back to begin judging) is forver looking for ways to make it bigger, better, faster, technically advanced, without losing the intimacy that it began with 35 years ago
(At one point they asked a show of hands of the folks who hadn't been BORN when the ACPT began!

The cynics will always think the adulation of Will is ass-kissing or whatever, but they are happily absent from the lovefest in general...
and yes, the omnipresent smile on my face is indeed a reflection of feeling I am HOME if only for a few days...despite fatigue and sometimes feeling torn in 85 directions bec I DO want to be with everyone, everywhere at all moments...
Sometimes there I can't breathe when I look around the room and see everyone meeting everyone and knowing what is to come from unexpected synchronistic moments. :)

This blog can some times be a microcosm of the community of what is possible with people at their best and all things a community can be, which is why the unnecessary negative elements are a drag.
Whatever...I'm just glad that doesn't seem to exist live and in person, so right on to that!

mac 9:17 PM  

@andrea: totally agree with you, and so nicely described!

@Loren: thank you as well, for the compliments and the perfect description of our experience. I've been at the tournament 5 times now, and it actually gets better, you don't panic quite as much (except at puzzle 5....).

Save your pennies and try to go next year, it is so much fun to be in a big place with hundreds of people with the same interest (love).

Loren Muse Smith 9:50 PM  

@Thoracic – yes, you can participate in the activities but not compete solving. And yes, that was my intention because I do not solve quickly. (I didn’t even know how to look up my standing – didn’t know what division I was in or anything. Thanks @joho for telling me. I thought I’d be in the very bottom ten or twenty.)

BUT – everyone was right – you HAVE to do the puzzles, not so much to compete, but so you can throw your hand up when you’re finished, turn the puzzle in, and then scurry out of an already pretty empty room to whine that you didn’t know a certain person’s first name :-( or that even though you saw the trick early on, you still didn’t make a lot of headway. . . kind of like what we talk about here every day.

@Andrea is SO RIGHT to mention Will – utterly walk- up- and- talk- to-able. Always smiling, posing for pictures. . . He was great; this tourney is his baby, and what a baby it is! First class fun from start to finish. (The two people doing the play-by-play commentary for the finals were hysterical!)

What an unbelievably nice, generous group this was. 550 people (sitting in the audience watching three people solve a puzzle and enjoying the heck out of it) were willing Tyler to change that early misstep in the northwest as it got later and later and Ann and Dan had already finished. (I was sending my strongest ESP Willing Delta Gamma Wave Mind Signals, and he did finally see it. Whew!) And those same 550 people sang happy birthday to Ann.

Can’t wait until 2014!

sanfranman59 10:32 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 6:44, 6:14, 1.08, 82%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:07, 3:42, 1.11, 88%, Challenging

Sparky 10:45 PM  

Found this pretty easy and a pleasure. Thanks @AnoaBob. Knew Anita ODAY. She's the great singer with the big hat and white gloves in "Jazz On A Summer Afternoon." Holy cow, The 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.

Had the best time at ACPT. Third year. My standing went up a tad; still in the basement. Thanks for the great comments Andrea, Bob, Loren and others I can't remember nor find when I scroll up. You truly describe the atmospher; so many people all quite individual and all together having fun. I am all choked up too.

By the way, I knew Seiji Ozawa.

Bird 10:55 PM  

@acme - Right On!
@lms - Nice!

I think I want to go next year. Now I need to practice, practice, practice.

Joseph B 11:43 PM  

GERM for Bug slowed me down the most, even with it mostly filled. ("What insect ends in ERM???") Wrong wavelength today.

Tita 12:08 AM  

@Andrea - lol!!
How about BILLYgoat, JACKass, (Jenny for hte female), JACKrabbit...

Loved this one. Nice theme, great fill...EGOTRIP, ARMREST (and its clue), Nipper's nippers, RON.

Did it INAFLASH while waiting endlessly at the doctor's office...
Didn't notice till I got here that I "finished" with BareNAKED...wondered what that had to do with the theme.

I think I was 101 and 102 in last night's comments.
I now have a houseful of guests - not sure when I'll do uploading and updating...

OMG @webwinger - didn't notice the spay/NEUTER/BULL thing - wow!

@BobK - wow - I'm so nice, you counted me twice!

I never Lose stuff - I always MISLAY it. I MISLAYed my purse at ACPT after chatting with Mr & Mrs Parker - thankfully she found me and purse and I were reunited. Thanks!

@Anoa Bob - wow - I am writing this and reading comments in parallel - Robert Fisher is you? Nice to meet you!

@LMS - What a perfect recap - thank you for saying that so eloquently - I agree 100%! You hit everyone spot-on (except for me, of course - you're far too kind!)

And let me say that, counter to how you would not have been able to pick out @Rex, any of us could have picked you out from a mile away, even had you not had your picture as your avatar.
You were the warm, engaging, fascinating one always surrounded by flocks of people. You're stories are fabulous, and you make everyone feel like they've been your friend forever.

@Andrea - thanks for the reminder that this is in fact Will's brainchild, and he has put together a fabulous event. He gets lots of help from his volunteers too - thanks to all of you who judge us and help us with the logistics, etc..
And thanks for all the time you spent with me - you're even more uplifting in person!

@Sparky - you knew him personally, or you knew his name as an answer in Puzzle 4...?

@Bird - it ain't Carnegie Hall... there are so many of us non-contenders...
Last year I practiced lots, and came in 502. This year, I practiced not a whit, but changed my approach somewhat, based on that experience, and guidance from imsDave.
I came in 396... Am I glad my number is higher? Sure... Would I mind if I had dropped 106 points? Nah - I woulda blamed it on wheelhouses or the time change...

We who are not in the top 100 do it for the reasons you've been reading here.

So yes - everyone who is on the fence ought to come next year. Or come to the REALLY laid-back Lollapuzzolah or Westport, Canton, Killingsorth...

Unknown 8:44 AM  

Great post! Thanks for the share.

MetaRex 10:22 AM  

It really was great...what Tita and Loren said*...

*[except for Loren's nice comment about the perpetually glowering insectoid robot-villain MetaRex]

Spacecraft 11:25 AM  

While BAYRUM isn't familiar to me--a splash of Aqua Velva and I'm good--Anita ODAY is. Hand up for the NW HOTHEAD. This wasn't your typical fill-in-the-blanks-as-fast-as-you-can-write Monday. I had to do a little bit of work. TOMFOOLERY didn't come to me immediately, and although after I'd filled in STAGFLATION I had to admit I'd seen that term before, it certainly didn't jump out at me.

A nice puzz; good kickoff to the week.

Ginger 2:09 PM  

@Anoa Bob - I did not realize that you are the real Robert Fisher until you posted. Thanks for the 'reveal' and thanks a bunch for a fine puzzle. Enjoyed it!

NM Robin 3:52 PM  

I thought this was an extremely easy puzzle. For me it was a fill-in-the-blanks-as-fast-as-you-can-write Monday. I never even saw ODAY as I already had all the across answers. I got the theme at STAGFLATION with TOMFOOLERY already in place. It was a piece of cake, walk in the park, etc.

DANKE schon Mr. Fisher.

DMGrandma 4:28 PM  

A good way to start the week. Only write over was for having EGOTist not EGOTRIP. ODAY was a gimme, partly because I seem to remember she was involved in something (what?) that rated headlines a long time ago. Also didn't hurt that I have given my husband more than one bottle of bayrum.

Solving in Seattle 6:30 PM  

Anoa Bob, no kidding? Good job here! My only "iffy" comment is that four of the males are hooved and one is either pawed or taloned(?). Not a complete set. I enjoyed the puzzle and chuckled that NEUTERS was present. Lots of animals around.

I worked yesterday's (Sunday) puzzle while watching the Masters all day. Should have commented because I thought the anagrams were a crackup, especially the Bush Gore one. Really high quality puzzle.


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