Gene arising through mutation / WED 3-13-13 / Like St Augustine in 1565 / Poet best known for Highwayman / Heckelphone cousins / City east of Santa Barbara

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: OPERA (64A: Each of this puzzle's long Across answers sounds like onepuns — Wacky, "?"-clued phrases that sound like famous operas

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Lady paid for one insect? (MADAM BOUGHT A FLY)
  • 26A: Rodent that lets air out of balloons? (DEFLATER MOUSE)
  • 44A: Spanish rum cake? (BABA OF SEVILLE)
  • 57A: Headline after one of Becker's Wimbledon wins? (BORIS GOOD ENOUGH)

Word of the Day: ALLELE (31A: Gene arising through mutation) —
One member of a pair or series of genes that occupy a specific position on a specific chromosome.

[German Allel, short for Allelomorph, allelomorph, from EnglishALLELOMORPH .]

Read more:
• • •

Hey! Puns and opera! Who doesn't like puns and opera? I mean, besides me.

I think this is a decent, cute puzzle. Nowhere near my wheelhouse, or pleasure center, or splash zone, or whatever, but whaddyagonnado? They can't all be custom-made for my delectation, sadly. Found this one pretty slow going, both because puns were somewhat challenging to piece together, and some of the clues were tough. Actually, biggest problem was the arcane words in a couple of clues. No idea what a heckelphone is, so no idea what its "cousin" was either, until I had many crosses (41D: Heckelphone cousins = OBOES). And I blanked on what a taradiddle was. My failure to get to FIB from [Taradiddle] was, by far, the biggest thorn in my side. See, I assumed MADAM had an "E" on the end. I really feel like "MADAME BUTTERFLY" is how I've seen it in print, somewhere, before. And it seems I'm correct, that is the spelling ... in the English version of the OPERA title. But here, the clue apparently indicates not a title ("Madame"), but just a woman ("MADAM"). Wish I'd understood that while solving, because man did I screw up that answer on the first pass. When my grid was (finally) done, I was staring at MADAMEOUGFTAFLY. Not ... pretty. The "F" comes from my (wrong) answer at 9D, OOF, which is not only defensible, but, given the (terrible) clue, preferable. ["That's gotta hurt"] gets you OOH? OOH conveys only pleasure or awe to me. I can see how one might say it with a tone that would give it a "That's gotta hurt" feel, so it's defensible, but OOF, it's pretty flimsy. Anyway, I had to go through that first answer cross by cross to figure out what the hell was wrong. Tardiddle heckelphone. Taradiddle heckelphone. Taradiddle heckelphone. Quaint.

[42A: Sweet 'un]

Friendly crosswordese helped me out along the way today. OJAI was a gimme (2D: City easy of Santa Barbara), REO came off the "R" (21A: Old touring car), and I somehow got NOYES with just a cross or two in place, which almost never happens (despite having seen NOYES in puzzles many times over the years, my brain has no idea where to put him and so puts him nowhere) (13D: Poet best known for "The Highwayman"). AGORAE was also easy, though I went with AGORAS at first (I think of -AE as a Latin plural ending, and it is, but apparently it's a Greek plural ending as well) (6D: Ancient markets). As with NOYES, I learned the word ALLELE from crosswords (31A: Gene arising through mutation), though that one has stuck with me better, perhaps because a onetime reader of this blog was a neuroscientist who told me she encountered the word regularly after I claimed to have encountered the word never. Little exchanges like that can make words stick. Not much else to speak of. Got COFFEE MILL pretty easily (11D: Grinder of a sort), though felt odd writing in the MILL part (seems archaic / strange). Got BIAS from [Diagonal] with no crosses, which pleased me greatly. Had DRIES OUT before DRIES OFF (you do the latter with a towel, not a fire—come on) (39D: Sits by a fire after a drenching, say). So ... OK. That's it.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    P.S. a little something about this past weekend's ACPT. There have already been numerous good write-ups. Eric Berlin's is particularly good on the details of the finals. This year's tournament was won, once again, by Dan Feyer, and it wasn't really close. Anne Erdmann came in 2nd, a big big deal for her after several years of 3rd-place finishes. Five-time champion Tyler Hinman came in third, and was courageous and hilarious in defeat.

    As for me, I came in 40th, or so I thought. I appear to have fallen another slot to 41st in the past couple of days as scores get recalibrated. 41st is a ten-position drop from where I ended up the last time I competed (2011), but I did manage to beat my regional nemesis, Arnold Reich, as well as this other pesky solver named Jennifer Turney, who was *right* on my tail until the very end. Thus I claimed my first ever First Place trophy for the New York / Westchester region. Hurray? Yes, hurray. My ten-point drop in the standings can be explained almost entirely by the always vicious Puzzle 5, which was more vicious to me this year than it had ever been before. I've almost always solved that beast of a puzzle much more quickly than most of my peers, but not this year. I had a terrible time: around 20 minutes. But at least I finished, and with no errors. The vast majority of competitors didn't even manage to finish in the allotted 30 minutes. And it was a Patrick Blindauer puzzle! I'd been hanging out with him. Jeez louise, I'd watched him edit puzzles for weeks back when we were putting together American Red Crosswords. You'd think I'd have some feel for his work, some insight into his constructor-brain. Apparently not. Or not a lot. Still, I'm pleased. I finished every puzzle cleanly. Only 60 some-odd contestants out of 570-something can claim that. The main joy of the tourney, however, was seeing friends. I think fully a third of my total number of Facebook Friends were at the tournament, and it felt great to see people I know and like everywhere I turned. (Full tournament results here)

    [Jeff Chen posing with Ann Erdmann and her trophies]

    If you find tournaments daunting or intimidating, first of all, they're not. Second of all, you should try the Lollapuzzoola tournament this summer—it takes place at All Souls Church, on the upper east side of Manhattan, on Sat., Aug. 10. The atmosphere is very relaxed and informal, and there is a, let's say, zany element that you don't get at the ACPT, even though the puzzle quality is every bit as high. Plus, it's just $25. Register here now. NOW. For real. I guarantee you will be glad you did.

    And so to bed.


    jae 12:05 AM  

    Now this was a fine specimen of a Wed.  Amusing theme, smooth grid and just about the right level of difficulty.  Apparently more up my alley than Rex's.

    Started off with hard for LONG (I think they are the same thing?) but other than, like Rex,  DRIESOut for OFF that was it for erasures.

    Liked it.  Nice one Joe.

    Pete 12:20 AM  

    Alfred NOYES is best know for being a distant relative of mine. Of course you've got to go back to the 1600's, loop around the 18th century for a while, ignore a couple of illegitimacies, trust the word of a baud or two, but there it is.

    Boris Godunov is the only opera I've managed to sit through, much less enjoy. I may never forgive it for that, as it inspired me to try a couple more.

    Rube 12:35 AM  

    As an opera fan, I enjoyed this immensely, despite the groaners. Couldn't remember AGLET or ALLELE although had encountered both in previous crosswords. Also wanted TAriS before TALUS.

    Definitely a harder than usual Wednesday, but also definitely doable.

    Greg Charles 12:36 AM  

    I almost didn't get this one submitted, since I upgraded the iPad app yesterday and it kept crashing. I wonder if they'll ever get that right.

    Congratulations to Rex on the 1st place trophy.

    Jim Walker 12:57 AM  

    Lovely Wednesday puzzle from Joe. I thought DEFLATERMOUSE and BORIS GOOD ENOUGH were brilliant puns because they almost perfectly mimic the actual pronunciation. The other two were okay as well.

    Sincere congratulations to our fearless leader, and to all who compete in this most civil of contests. No fisticuffs, little profanity, and most of all, no concussions!

    Joma 12:59 AM  

    Grrr got stuck in my ringBEARER instead of FLAGBEARER! Wonderful puzzle though, getting the hang of it.

    Agorae Cluela Madams 1:56 AM  

    Fun! And nice touch to have DIVA at 39A

    Had same issue as @Rex with MADAMe, and I thought FIe was akin to Taradiddle, which I took to mean FiddleFaddle...

    Once I corrected it to FIB I was pleased that it had a complement of LIE FOR

    The BORISGOODENOUGH joke was like the old Bullwinkle show where the bad guy was Boris Badinov.
    When I heard about the Opera Boris Gudenov years later, I got the joke from childhood. It was very exciting getting a punchline ten years later!

    I'm STILL on an ACPT high having decided to stay on in NY for an extra week to decompress. Tonight got to see a Bdway play and then Al Pacino swept into Joe Allen's wearing a cape!!! So New York!

    Way things are going I'll have new stories for years!

    Biggest problem for me was refusing to give up Lured/ LEDON.

    Favorite hardship: Not being able to come up with a word that would follow "Flood" or "Floor"
    (favorite kind of clue, plus those choices were so different from each other and one letter only different!)

    STELLAR puzzle!

    Carola 2:19 AM  

    Count me among the fans of OPERA and the puzzle. Had abandoned 17A at MADAM BOUGHT... and headed down the west coast, where DEFLATER called for... MOUSE! Really made me laugh. Then I FLEW through the other titles.

    Besides the DIVA, I liked the musical accompaniment of PIANO and OBOES and additional sound effects off OOH, MOO, and MEW. Also the COFFEE MILL and resulting GRANULES.

    Very fun, Joe DiPietro!

    Numinous 2:31 AM  

    Took me a long time, compared to y'all. I used to do most of the L A Times puzzles in five or six minutes back when I bought the paper just for the crosswords and was competing with the producer of the show we were working on.
    Mr. Shortz has elevated the cruciverb well beyond those of Rich Norris.
    I do these on an iPad, possibly reducing my times because of the typing constraints.
    Oh we'll.
    I love Rex's comments and often marvel at how he missed answers i got right and,conversely, how he aced answers i puzzled and puzzled over. It amazes me what our brains will hold and what simply sieves out of them.

    And for po, po pour me another "too tired Rex:"
    Thank you and, Rex Pepys, so to bed

    Anoa Bob 2:53 AM  

    Like Acme, I associate the opera parodied by BORIS GOOD ENOUGH with one of my favorite "Rocky and Bullwinkle Show" characters, Boris Badenov.

    I had a big crush on his main squeeze, Natasha Fatale. (I still think she's hot.)

    Her catchword gets a shout out from Joe D at 42A DARLIN, although when she said it, it sounded more like how Sza Sza Gabor would say it, "Dollink".

    chefwen 3:08 AM  

    How much fun was this, guys and GALs? I laughed at every long answer, DEFLATERMOUSE bringing the loudest guffaw, husband kept glancing at me like he was pretty close to taking me to the nut house.

    My fix up area was at 32A vows which made RID OF and FOUNDED almost impossible. Lured at 37A did not help at all. Took a lot of time to get that sorted out. Finally did. PHEW!

    Good one Mr. DiPietro, I love your puzzles.

    Loren Muse Smith 5:46 AM  

    DEFLATER MOUSE was worth the price of admission! Can’t you just picture this little guy skulking around and surreptitiously, quietly, letting air out of balloons at a party?

    I’m not well-versed on OPERA (and Aida sworn I wouldn’t have finished this as fast as I did), but doesn’t Der Fledermaus have that part where the soprano’s voice sounds like a flute almost? All those high notes, crystal clear and jumping all around?

    NOYES has a funny name. Make up your mind! A while back, @Acme gave me the courage to be honest and say poetry frightens me, too, but “The Highwayman” is “superb”- where I was headed for STELLAR but saw it didn’t fit.

    The NE reminded me of my high school days – SPADES every weekend and I could always outPOGO my neighbor, Jeff J.

    Loved the CLUE for LIE FOR.; I had “sit” FOR. Also had “flooded” before FOUNDED. (Sorry, @Evan – history is just not my LONG suit.) And I liked all the sounds: MEW, MOO, PHEW, and OOH (@Rex – I wanted “yow” there). GOOP always pleases me, somehow.

    The minute I saw “heckelphone,” I went to the World Cup in South Africa and those ululating vuvuzelas.

    Thanks, Joe. This was well done and a lot of fun – no taradiddle!

    Z 6:27 AM  

    @LMS - Are your trying to make M&A swoon with "ululating vuvuzelas?"

    Most of my opera education comes from Bugs Bunny parodies, so this was a tough one for me. Add in that I solved east to west, which makes picking up the puns difficult, and this played medium challenging.

    Hand up for DRIES Out. I also had TArsa before TALUS. Mixing up my bones and my Dr. Who, apparently. I'm pretty amazed that AGLET went in. I remember learning that word as a teenager and wondering why "shoelace tip" wasn't sufficient. I have my answer, now; for crossword puzzles.

    ALLELE was just on the tip of my shoelace for the longest time. I had to get to ALL-LE before finally pulling it out of the dark recesses of my mind.

    A little Bugs Bunny.

    Elle54 7:02 AM  

    I really liked it! Isn't Aglet spelled Eglet sometimes?
    I knew allele from physiology class. Always like references to Chicago ( OHARE). Guessed right on OBOES and FIB. I've never seen any classical operas ( unless Gilbert and Sullivan counts), but used to watch Rocky and Bullwinkle and Bugs Bunny.

    Doris 7:03 AM  

    W.S. Gilbert used TARADIDDLE a lot, e.g., in "Iolanthe":

    Chorus refrain: Taradiddle, taradiddle, lol lol lay!

    A popular expression in his day. No connection with today's LOL, BTW.

    Loren Muse Smith 7:20 AM  

    @Z – Thanks for the memories!!

    I’ll see your Toscanini (?) and raise you one Stokowski. Talk about undulating uvulae. . .

    Nancy in PA 7:26 AM  

    When I hung out with opera lovers the joke with 26A for a punchline was the non-PETA-approved "What do you get when you stick a rodent with a pin?" They also had favorites they liked to call "Thighs," "The Battered Bride," and "Eugene Oregon." So once I got MADAMB...I filled in all the theme answers. So much fun.
    Rex, you are lucky to have slipped only one ranking. I have gone down 9 places since Sunday afternoon! Can all those mistakes have been made with scoring?? Crazy. But just makes me more determined not to make any mistakes next year.

    Anonymous 7:31 AM  

    Sweet! Finished 2 or 2.5 minutes faster than yesterday with no Googling or Rex checking. Yesterday's required a cheat so the real difference would be greater. Whew. Nice puzzle!

    mac 7:52 AM  

    Nice Wednesday, with some tough fill.

    A RIO and a GTO. Flee and flew on top of each other. And to make things more confusing I have also seen MADAMA Butterfly. One of my favorite operas.

    Yes, serious tournament withdrawal.

    John V 7:54 AM  

    For this opera person, this was very easy, actually Monday-like. Lots of fun, good puns; thank you, Joe.

    My Albany gig has me solving on the computer, as I cannot get a paper version of the Times. So, a) I don't like it, b)my times are MUCH faster as I'm a good typist and find the Times, "Play for fun" app pretty easy to use.

    MADAMBOUGHTAFLY was hilarious, sounding straight out of Brooklyn! BORISGOODENOUGH made me think of Boris Badenough of Rocky and Bullwinkle.


    Bought a ladder for a lady? GOT A DAME A RUNG.

    Glimmerglass 8:08 AM  

    HMS Punafour. Love puns. Hate opera. Easy puzzle.

    baja 8:21 AM  

    @Rex Thank you for all that you do! @Loren thank you for talking about Der Fledermaus - no idea what deflater mouse was referencing

    joho 8:32 AM  

    Lovely puzzle, thank you, Joe!

    These puns really work as they're not groan -- but real smile -- inducing.

    I had the same DRIESout before OFF as many others and vOwS before IOUS.

    Like @Rex, I learned ALLELE right here on this blog some years back.

    @Agorae Cluela Madams, your seeing
    Al Pacino reminds me of a time when a friend of mine went to a play in L.A. starring Al Pacino. He entered the stage wearing a cape and she kept waiting for him to stand up!

    Unknown 8:38 AM  

    Felt easy enough to solve. As for the theme, It was either clever and cute, or a little weird....I'm still on the fence.

    JenCT 8:56 AM  

    I know ALLELE from Botany class...

    @ACME: Exactly the same reaction to BORIS GOOD ENOUGH - getting the joke years later. Also had trouble with Flood or Floor follow-up.

    I missed scoring at the ACPTs this year, but I plan to be there next year..

    jackj 8:59 AM  

    MADAMBOUGHTAFLY is a gem of an entry and DEFLATERMOUSE gives it a strong run for its money but with the other two theme entries, one has but a minor twist (BABAOFSEVILLE) and the other seems too on point when sounded out (BORISGOODENOUGH).

    But, what a delightful theme from the clever Mr. DiPietro! Was it actually Maria Callas channelling Mrs. Malaprop and going all diva on us?

    True to his professionalism, Joe doesn’t just take a bow after dealing a successful theme but does the grunt work of employing interesting fill such as STELLAR, for “Really, really good”, then a word everyone likely knows and no one ever uses, GRANULES and a clue of “Unite, in a way” that turns out to not be as romantic as expected when it is SOLDER.
    There was a bit of stuff we would ideally rather not have to deal with like ALLELE, TALUS, AGLET and AGORAE but that crosswordese is easily trumped by the clever cluing for LAMP, COFFEEMILL, FOUNDED, RIDOF and DIANE (Baldwin who was unceremoniously dumped for a grand PIANO).

    Mark me as a FLAGBEARER in the DiPietro “thank you” parade.

    chinaski 9:04 AM  

    I enjoyed this punny puzzle though I had trouble with it, partly because I started while half asleep last night. With a fresh head this morning it came clear. Had Boris Good Enough before any of the other themed answers, mainly because the bottom of the puzzle came easier to me. I liked Allele. Not a fan of geography clues and only got the city names from fill.

    jackj 9:05 AM  

    "sgraded" was the capcha.

    Interesting that it thought it belonged in the narrative.

    Jenn 9:09 AM  

    You better watch out next year, I'll be gunnin' for ya! If I hadn't had an error you would have been toast! That was actually my 3rd regional trophy — Arnold and I traded 1st and 2nd for a couple years.

    Great to meet you face-to-face. Gotta get to Lollapuzzoola some year, and if you're ever up Rochester way, you let me know.


    Rex Parker 9:15 AM  


    If ifs and buts were candy and nuts etc.

    Get used to silver.

    Wonderful to meet you. Helps to have a clear mental picture of your enemy. We should meet in Ithaca some time and have a staring contest. Brian can come over from Syracuse and officiate.


    syndy 9:21 AM  

    Loved this utterly shameless puzzle my only writeover was the TArsi/TALUS of which better I should have known.Joe you're such a GOOP!

    chefbea 9:23 AM  

    Of course I loved the puzzle - all the puns (as my face book friends know.)

    Don't know what BMI stands for so had a little trouble with 53 across.

    JenCT 9:30 AM  

    @chefbea: Broadcast Music, Inc.

    Horace S. Patoot 9:40 AM  

    The plural of AGORA here is AGORAE, not because it is the Greek plural (which would be AGORAS), but because it came into Latin as a first declension feminine noun with plural AGORAE.

    jberg 9:40 AM  

    Sportswriters being what they are, I'm thinking BORIS GOOD ENOUGH may have been an actual headline, perhaps inspiring this puzzle--but then, probably no external stimulus was needed.

    Nice shout-out to EVIL, and right below AGLET, too!

    I had the same difficulty with MADAMe, but since these were puns, it didn't have to be the same MADAME as in the translated title. The real title is MADAMA BUTTERFLY, but that doesn't work nearly as well.

    My only real problem was Supreme before STELLAR. I saw right away that it was wrong, because it wouldn't work with Lured! But all those wrong letters delayed my seeing DEFLATER MOUSE.

    Seems to be a big gap between us opera buffs and everyone else here, but I loved it. And thanks, everyone, for the Loony Tunes links!

    imsdave 9:51 AM  

    Puns and operas - life is good. Malapopped LIE FOR FIB off the e from MADAMe, had LMS's yow, tarsa for TALUS, correctly called 'wait for it' for the end to DRIES___.

    My mother-in-law has a Baldwin. Beautiful instrument, but a bit too mellow for my ear.

    Nice work Mr. DiPietro.

    MetaRex 10:01 AM  

    If opera declines as a cultural icon, are we more likely to get an NYT puzzle making fun of it? Guess so...CrossWorld and CrossOver buzz ratings at Deflate a Mouse

    B Donohue 10:03 AM  

    Congrats on your finish, Rex!

    Keep up the good work on the blog.

    Milford 10:06 AM  

    Found this challenging but fun, and I DNF because of the ASCAw/wHEW cross. The only BMI I know is body mass index, so I didn't even know what to think for ASCAP.

    Who'd have thought opera puns were all fun? DEFLATER MOUSE is definitely the best of the bunch. What exactly is a BABA (any @chef?)

    @lms - LOL at "Aida sworn".

    I thought "Hecklephone" was going to be a type of person. Goofy name for something related to the elegant OBOE.

    I like the sound of FLEE FLEW at the bottom, but honestly thought I had made an error with them being so similar.

    Thank you, Joe. And congrats Rex on your better-than-I'll ever-be finish! I couldn't even get a clean grid today!

    Sparky 10:07 AM  

    This came rather easily for me. Worked it last night. Hung on to crystals at 4D for too long. 64A revealer helped a lot. Went back and MOUSE set mind off to rethink. Thanks Joe, I laughed.

    Yesterday, watching anthroplogy program on CUNY channel, they kept saying ALLELE.

    MADAMa Butterfly current spelling at the Met. But since it's a pun does the spelling have to be spot on?

    My ranking went down 8. Is there no bottom to which I can fall?

    dk 10:08 AM  

    ACPT lore, Opera, ODIE, Bugs Bunny, Rocky, Boris, Elmer Fudd, NOYES, ALLELE… I think we have covered the waterfront.

    An eclectic lot, N'est ce pas.

    Get used to silver!!! I think I hear the sound of a glove dropping.

    I tell my friends about this blog and the folks who construct and solve. Mostly they just roll their eyes but every once and a while you see a little sparkle followed by… can I get the link.

    You are all stars in my book. Speaking of stars:

    🌟🌟🌟 (3 Stars) What everyone else has already penned. Thanks Joe.

    Anonymous 10:08 AM  

    @Jenn @Rex - That's some mighty polite trash talk. Too polite, in fact. Challenging her to a staring contest? Lame.

    Can we get some street in there? Yo Mama so dumb she come in 154th in the D-division? Yo Daddy so dumb he blew puzzle #5, oh wait, that's right, don't nobody know who you Daddy is!

    Nah, can't make crossword trash talk work.

    lawprof 10:16 AM  

    For this opera fan, today's puzzle was about as funny (and rewarding) as it gets. Our youngest grandson plays the role of Butterfly's child in four performances of our regional opera's production of Madama Butterfly next week, so this one struck an especially responsive chord for me.

    chefbea 10:31 AM  

    @Jen ct - thanx. The only BMI I knew was body mass index!!!

    @Milford Baba au Rum is a dessert. Must say I have never made one

    OISK 10:33 AM  

    Love opera, loved this puzzle - the really great puzzles elicit near unanimous approval in this group, as this one seems to be doing. @Doris - I think "Taradiddle" comes up in Ruddigore also. "When I'm a bad bart I will tell Taradiddles, I'll tell taradiddles when I'm a bad bart. I'll play a bad part on the falsest of fiddles - On very false fiddles he'll play a bad part...." ( I LOVE G and S!!)

    oldbizmark 10:43 AM  

    felt like a monday puzzle to me. a couple of clues i did not know came with the crosses. overall, an enjoyable puzzle, albeit a bit easy for a wednesday, in my opinion (i like when i have to go back to a puzzle).

    Two Ponies 10:44 AM  

    Loved loved loved this puzzle.
    Also love that we went from high brow puns to cartoons in the blink of an eye.
    @ Rex, thanks for the Heckle and Jeckle. My very first thought on that clue.
    @ Acme, ditto on the Boris pun. Makes me appreciate that the humor of Rocky and Bullwinkle was on at least two levels.
    @ Z, I learned a lot from Bugs as well.

    quilter1 10:46 AM  

    Laughed and laughed. Pretty easy for me and I loved the opera puns. I have made Baba au Rhum. But today it will be cherry pie.

    nanpilla 11:34 AM  

    Cute puzzle, but I must admit everything I know about opera came from crosswords and bugs bunny!

    Still smiling after ACPT weekend. So many good times. This was my fifth year, and it just keeps getting better. @loren muse smith is even prettier than her picture and oh so elegant in those pumps! And who are you calling spry?!?

    I hardly got any sleep on Saturday night - it happens sometimes, no idea why. Anyway, after the first 6 puzzles, I thought I had a good chance of finishing in the top 200. While waiting for my sister to get ready, I worked on a Fireball that I had brought with me. I entered 3 different answers in the wrong spaces, and misread clues galore. I decided to give my bleary eyes a rest, and put my hand up for large print clues for puzzle 7. This is an option for the larger grids. Just before Will told us to turn our papers over, there was a discussion at the front of the room, and they announced that they had given out the clues for puzzle 6 !!! My poor brain would have really been fried! They handed out the correct clues, and we began. I ended up finishing it in good order, and as of today, I am in 155 place. Woo hoo!!

    Sandy K 11:35 AM  

    Loved it!

    Congrats, Rex!

    DigitalDan 11:48 AM  

    Funny. Did this one about as fast as I could enter the words. There must be something to this wheelhouse thing.

    Doesn't matter what a heckelphone is -- the only crossword instrument is an oboe. I call it "Ashe's rule."

    Milford 12:00 PM  

    @chef bea - thanks! I looked up BABA in my Gourmet cookbook - the recipe sounds pretty involved, but it sounds just delectable - it probably 1,000+ calories a serving!

    Forgot to mention, @rex, thank you for sharing the photo album on Facebook. I did notice the Oreos offered on the table next to the pencils. Too funny!

    Anonymous 12:08 PM  

    got the theme at deflatermouse. it took me back to when my mom was at a summer camp where you could bunk with young children and other mothers. one day she entered the bunk and her german speaking bunkmate was frantically shouting and cowering. my mother not understanding german didn't know what the problem was until the woman shouted...der flatermaus, mom remembering the opera finally understood:bats in the bunk!

    Notsofast 12:20 PM  

    Joe D. has a sense of humor. I'm a BIG fan! This puzzle is another great one. Not a serious bone in its body! An EXEMPLARY Wednesday. Baldwin. Piano. Heh

    chefbea 12:30 PM  

    @nan pilla congrats on doing so well

    webwinger 12:33 PM  

    I’m with Rex on this—crossing goofy puns with opera doesn’t do a whole lot for me. But I’ve really enjoyed reading today’s comments—better punning than the puzzle! I too have fond memories of the Boris and Natasha cartoon characters. Was happy to see and quickly get ALLELE, but consider the clue inaccurate; many gene loci may be occupied by multiple alleles that can be inherited, not by any means necessarily arising de novo from mutation. Surprised at no knocks so far for the worst answer of the day: ADFEE. Or kudos to my favorite clue, for Baldwin PIANO. AGLET definitely a term needed only for crosswording. Played Hearts often as a kid, but never even heard of SPADES…

    Am marking dates for next year’s ACPT in my calendar now—really sounds like an event not to be missed!

    Ulrich 1:00 PM  

    If puns are meant to make you cringe, "Madam bought a fly" takes the top prize. My favorite, though, is "Boris good enough". Really fun puzzle, even if I almost got naticked in the SE, which slowed me down considerably, not the least b/c I stayed with the "dries out" crowd for too long.

    @LMS: You may be right about the flute/soprano in Die Fledermaus--I don't know the piece well enough--but since you mentioned it, the mad scene in Lucia di Lammermoor has probably the best known instance for opera lovers (grretings to all who piped up!):
    Mad scene with Anna Netrebko.

    Ulrich 1:04 PM  

    PS for all for whom 10+ min of opera is way too long to endure: It starts around 8:30 and last to 10:00.

    Carola 1:05 PM  

    @Doris and @OISK - Thanks for the Taradiddles! How fun that G&S are also (kinda) in the puzzle.

    @John V - Sehr gut!

    Tiny nit-let: *Die* Fledermaus - really does sound like "DEFLATER MOUSE."

    Clark 1:16 PM  

    Plural (feminine, nominative) of ancient greek agora is agorai (ending: alpha iota). agoras is genitive singular or accusative plural. @Horace S. Patoot's explanation of the plural -ae looks right to me. The greek word came into latin as a first declension feminine noun with plural -ae.

    This puzzle started out easy, but then it put up a pretty good fight for a Wednesday.

    Masked and Anonymo5Us 1:25 PM  

    Just went to the movie "Quartet" at the local Sedona movie house. So have seen more opera in the last 24 hours than in the prev 24 years. When in Sedona, do try the Red's Meat Loaf at Red's restaurant.

    Still, this puz seemed pretty easy, maybe because I hooked up pretty quickly with the long punthemers. Thought BORISGOODENOUGH was the Real opera title, up til now -- kinda like ROUNDJOHNVIRGIN. Is Cozy Fan Toot an opera? Man, M&A just oozes culture. Amongst other things.

    Head is spinning over this acpt renumberin' activity. May just have to end up callin' OFL "forty somethin'".

    LaneB 1:27 PM  

    An opera buff of sorts, I did enjoy getting this one. Did have to google the word for anklebone [TALUS], the poet NOYES and check to see if I was correct with ALLELE. Otherwise, I slogged through the thing and ended with good feelings. [Unlike after last Saturday and Sunday]

    xyz 2:03 PM  

    Nice to see TALUS or ANY BONE used properly. Fun OPERA twist.

    RMK 2:04 PM  

    To Loren Muse Smith:

    You are thinking of the "Queen of the Night" aria from Mozart's Magic Flute.

    Lojman 2:18 PM  

    I agree with Webwinger - the provided clue for ALLELE is terrible. An allele is just a copy of a gene, whether it be mutated or unmutated (wild type). If the provided clue were followed by "e.g." then it'd be ok. Otherwise, we'd all be running around thinking ALLELE means mutated gene. And then what would the world come to?

    Overall enjoyable, but the east and southeast didn't fall easily. Oh, and also, I'm such a non-opera fan that I'm unable to give the real names of two of the four theme answers.


    Scott 2:29 PM  

    To the person with the crashing iPad app, get used to it. Mine crashes every time I submit my score, but if I go back in and click "Connect" my score is there. I attribute it to some crappy programming, but at least the app works.

    Lewis 2:34 PM  

    Puns can be groaners or smilers, and these to me were smilers, a couple laughers. Very little dreck either. This was the work of a pro. Bravo, Joe!

    @M&A -- funny entry today

    Jeff Chen 2:36 PM  

    Sam Donaldson took that picture and said, "Do you want another one? The look on your face..."

    But that's the face my wife wakes up to every morning.


    Jdipinto 2:38 PM  

    Snug and warm groupie character in "The Facts Of Life"?


    Count me in as an opera buff who loved this puzzle. I can picture Deflater Mouse as a cartoon superhero who flies around the globe puncturing the egos of opera singers with stinging criticism.

    I always like JoeDiP's puzzles (and not just because his name is almost exactly the same as mine).

    Re the tournament: I would have had perfectly clean solves on all seven had I not inadvertently left a box blank on BEQ's puzzle. Ack! Well at least my 131 ranking was better than my lowest-ever finish last year.

    Southie 3:19 PM  

    @Jeff Chen - Whow, your wife must be hot, or you have some wicked nice dreams. That's one excited face.

    sanfranman59 4:12 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)

    Wed 11:40, 10:59, 1.06, 68%, Medium-Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Wed 6:51, 6:22, 1.07, 71%, Medium-Challenging

    M and A on the road 5:06 PM  

    Jeff Chen is still one of my fave constructors. Does he also present his wife with trophies each mornin'? That might make it worth puttin' up with the too-enthused-for-the-early-morning face. As long as you don't have to give an exceptance speech.

    Hotel computer where I popped in says that it is blocking me from 40-somethins' site "for my own protection". har. Thank goodness. The huddled masses are protected.

    Thanx to @Z and @Lewis for the shout-outs.

    Congrats to the new Pope. I hear that he now wants to pose in a pic with the Chen-meister.

    Sfingi 5:08 PM  

    @Pete - the Highwayman was featured in Angela's Ashes.
    Are you also related to John Humphrey Noyes of the Oneida Community, a Utopian Christian sect that was chased out of VT to Upstate NY and was the beginnings of the silversmiths?

    @Rex - from where are the other 40? I would have expected much from NYS.

    Core knee puzzle.
    Anyway, I got hung up on one clue - 37A - couldn't get past LureD to LED ON.

    New Pope Francis - shouldn't say "the first," anymore than WWI until there was a WWII.

    Locally - the next county had another of these gun-toting fools - killed 4, burned a building - all within a couple miles of the Remington factory.

    retired_chemist 5:08 PM  

    Medium-challenging here too. Nothing in particular was a sticking point but some places required more thought than most Wednesdays. Theme answers - cute. I like puns.

    I question some clues. Rex has the correct definition for ALLELE but I don;t see it as a mutation in any sense. Can some molecular biologist help me out here? Also, DE FACTO means in reality, and "in practice" seems askew.

    Cute clue for PIANO (20A) - first thought was STEVE or BILLY, since ALEC didn't fit and JAMES didn't come to mind. Settled for ORGAN, which was in the ballpark. Anyway, crosses settled it easily.

    Thanks, Mr. DiPietro.

    Joan 6:19 PM  

    Finally! A puzzle that is completely "in my wheelhouse"! I love opera and I know someone that plays the hecklephone.

    Unknown 8:35 PM  

    I've been out of town for a few days and just did M-W puzzles this afternoon. Had an interesting experience with them. I printed them off and didn't really pay attention to which was which. After I finished them, I tried to figure out which was M, T, and W. Zipped through one of them, so I correctly figured that was Monday. But the other two were about equally challenging and didn't know which one was Tues and which was Wed until I checked here.

    @Anoa Bob - Great work on the Monday puzzle. Any more in the hopper?

    @Bruce S - Fun puzzle. Any more in the hopper?

    One clue I questioned in yesterday's puzzle. AREA was clued as 'Calculus calculation'. I would think AREA is a geometry calculation. Am I missing something?

    Ulrich 9:01 PM  

    @Rob C: Calculating the area under a curve is a classical task of integration, the reverse of differentiation in calculus.

    Unknown 9:05 PM  

    @Ulrich - wasn't thinking that way. No wonder I did poorly in calculus and became an accountant.

    Do you know what CPA stands for?
    Couldn't Pass Actuarial tests.


    Bob Kerfuffle 9:58 PM  

    Another long day for me, so I am again very late to the party.

    What a fun puzzle! I'm really only middle brow at best when it comes to opera, but obviously these are all well known. I suppose if you had your German glass of beer on a table made of a particular kind of wood, you might have Ein Stein on the beech . . . but that doesn't fly too well! (Since they have started showing high definition broadcasts of Metropolitan Opera performances in movie theaters, it has been so much easier and cheaper to expand your opera horizons. Unfortunately, at least in the earlier presentations, one of the weak points was . . . the sound! Not what you are hoping for when you go to the opera!)

    @Nancy in PA - Thanks for breaking it to me gently! I see that my ranking has sunk 9 points along with yours. Looking back, I see that in my four years at the ACPT, my ranking has gone steadily down! (BTW, should I have seen you? Did you see me? Did we meet? Clearly, we are somehow linked in the crossworld!)

    Yesterday I posted, "Now I am trying to think of the name of a radio program on which various animals are interviewed about their lifestyles. I hope to come up with it by tomorrow." Now I know what I was thinking of. One of the play-by-play commentators of the Division A finals at the ACPT was Ophira Eisenberg, whom Will Shortz introduced, if I heard correctly, as the host of the NPR show, "Ask Me, An Otter."

    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 6:44, 6:14, 1.08, 82%, Challenging
    Tue 10:18, 8:23, 1.23, 89%, Challenging
    Wed 11:32, 10:59, 1.05, 65%, Medium-Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 4:07, 3:42, 1.11, 88%, Challenging
    Tue 5:59, 4:54, 1.22, 94%, Challenging
    Wed 6:41, 6:22, 1.05, 62%, Medium-Challenging

    Ulrich 10:08 PM  

    @Rob C: My accountant actually understands the US tax code, which is less comprehensible to me than calculus!

    Z 10:38 PM  

    Someone must move up the rankings if people are moving down the rankings. Who are these people and why aren't they commenting?

    Ellen S 2:33 AM  

    Love opera, love puns, just didnt get around to commenting earlier. Thanks, Webwinger for the explanation about ALLELES, I had no trouble getting the answer except for misspelling it, but only because I knew vaguely that they had something to do with genetics.

    Thanks, Mr. DiPietro for a fun puzzle with no eels.

    Joseph B 2:21 PM  

    Strange: this one was an Easy for me. I don't know squat about opera, but I'm good with puns.

    Got BABAOFSEVILLE off just the LLE, which gave me the theme. Then got BORISGOODENOUGH with no crosses just from knowing who "Becker" was, and the MAD I'd filled in previously on downs instantly became MADAM_______FLY, which let me finish top corners (and helped me let go of the incorrect IPAD in 10A).

    Had no idea what DEFLATERMOUSE referred to till I read these comments, but had it mostly filled in by crosses before I took a shot at it.

    Satisfying to barrel through two days in a row error-free. Hopefully this weekend won't be the personal disaster that last weekend was.

    Spacecraft 11:29 AM  

    A STELLAR effort, compared to yesterday's; glad to be RIDOF (and that's NOT the same as "Finished with---" one of my few quarrels today) that one. Thought the first LONG answer was MADAM[']SBUTTERFLY and the theme had something to do with possessives. No, I don't know what a taradiddle is, either. Crosses quickly fixed that.

    In fact, the couple places where I had problems, the crosses came to the rescue very handily. I was startled, to say the least, to find a "medium-challenging" rating on a puzzle that was more like easy-medium for me.

    FLY, FLEE, FLEW: that's what you get when you let DEFLATERMOUSE loose in the middle of your grid!

    Always fun to try to guess what name Acme will call herself, with words from that day's puzzle. I thought: being form the NE she might choose AGLET COFFEE MILL today. Sorry, DARLIN'.

    Great long downs, overall good fill, and a fun theme. Thumbs up.

    But...what's a "flood LAMP?"

    Solving in Seattle 3:01 PM  

    When I finally had MADAMBOUGHTAFLY filled in (total guess that Taradiddle was a FIB) I tried to figure out what the theme was. Alas, no CLUE. The "aha!" came with DEFLATERMOUSE - opera puns.

    Personally, I'm not into opera. Who can't like the arias, but sitting through hours of watching hefty overmadeup ham actors for those few gems is not my entertainment of choice.

    Big smile with BORISGOODENOUGH, which I wrote in with no crosses. I'd never heard of Boris Gudunov until my father-in-law, who is an opera buff, mentioned the opera he was going to see and I asked him if he was related to Boris Badenov, the Pottsylvania spy and cohort of foxy Natasha. To each his own form of entertainment.

    FEE, FLY, FLEE, FLEW, I smell the blood of Joe Dipietru...

    Fun puzzle.

    DMGrandma 3:31 PM  

    What a fun puzzle. Got the idea at DEFLATERMOUSE and enjoyed the solve. Didn't understand ASCAP, explained above, and ALLELE was new to me, but they didn't slow me down. My one pause was the anklebone, but vague familiarity let me put in the TA, and the crosses took it from there. As for taradiddle, didn't Scarlet O'Hara use that expression? Or am I just making a false association because of the TARA part?

    Anyway, thanks to Mr. Dipietro for a happy star to the day!

    Dirigonzo 4:07 PM  

    Well this was doubly difficult for me because a. I am not an opera fan and (2) the clues printed in my local paper were barely legible, in fact illegible in many cases, as were the numbers in the grid. Suffice to say arriving at a finished grid, which I finally managed, was tedious going. Much of my solving was accomplished by guessing a word based on a few crosses and then trying to read the clue in a way that would make sense for the word. I'm glad ALLELE appeared from the crosses because I would not have know it even if I could read the clue. Didn't we just have a discussion of TOGO here recently?

    @DMG - I think Scarlett meant something entirely different if she referred to Tara diddle.

    Solving in Seattle 4:20 PM  

    @DMG, I think Diri means "Miss Scarlet in Tara's boudoir with a diddle."

    rain forest 5:50 PM  

    I think @Diri's meaning was what Scarlett and Rhett were contemplating in the boudoir.
    Great puzzle. DEFLATERMOUSE indeed! Theme and fill both very good.

    Syndi Solver 7:08 PM  

    I laughed out loud at DEFLATER MOUSE! All theme answers were cute but that one was my favorite.

    This was incredibly funny even though, like M&A mentioned, my exposure to opera is limited to Bugs Bunny cartoons. And ditto what ACME said about knowing Boris Badinov long before I ever heard the name of the opera.

    The missing E at the end of MADAM did not bother me. It did take a while to correct the E to B but that simply added to the fun when I finally saw BOUGHT A FLY.

    Thank you Joe Dipietro!

    strayling 7:48 PM  

    Cruel puzzle. It made me think it was Friday and now instead of the weekend I have two more workdays to feel dumb in.

    \ up with this I will not put!

    Moist Mike Tyson 1:31 AM  

    I get hit in the gut, I say OOF. As in "I'm hit" not as in "that's gotta hurt." It hurts and I know it. I see you get a hit to the gut or jaw or nads or what have you... OOH, as in "that's gotta hurt." Likewise, if I'm wet and cold, I'm not picky about whether I dry off or out, I'd prefer to be more comfortable and dry is what that is.

    Prune 9:41 PM  

    I've studied genetics as a hobby for over 50 years. I couldn't get ALLELE from the given clue. After finishing the puzzle, I check my sources, both from my book shelf and on line. The clue is wrong.

    As I said of Sunday's puzzle, "Write what you know". "Mutation" is an all-day killjoy.

    On top of that, the clue for 39D is wrong in any region of the country where I've lived: NYC, Midwest, Upper-left coast. "Dries off" requires removing the water with an absorbent object, not merely awaiting evaporation. The latter is "Dries out". Without two of the theme answers being gimmes ("deflater mouse" and "good enough" are puns from my ancient college days), this might well have been a DNF for me.

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