Unyielding Dr Seuss character / TUE 3-19-13 / Comic who sang I love to laugh in Mary Poppins / Multiple-company building to Brits / Eric who played villain in 2009's Star Trek / Ship with Mighty Stinger / Repeated Wayne's World cry / Vintage Jags

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Constructor: Mike Buckley

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "PARTY ON" (40A: Repeated "Wayne's World" cry ... or a hint to each half of 17-, 26-, 51- and 63-Across) — Each half of two-word phrases can preced the word "PARTY" in a familiar phrase. So the PARTY is attached ON to the answer parts, I guess.

Word of the Day: CANAL ZONE (36D: Former U.S. territory) —
The Panama Canal Zone (SpanishZona del Canal de Panamá) is a 553-square-mile (1,430 km2) former unorganized US territory located within the Republic of Panama, consisting of the Panama Canal and an area generally extending five miles (8.0 km) on each side of the centerline, but excluding Panama City and Colón, which otherwise would have been partly within the limits of the Canal Zone. Its border spanned two of Panama's provinces and was created on November 18, 1903, with the signing of the Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty. When reservoirs were created to assure a steady supply of water for the locks, those lakes were included within the Zone. (wikipedia)
• • •

The perils of solving bleary-eyed, first thing in the morning—I've never heard of ZAX (59A: Unyielding Dr. Seuss character). Like, ever. I had SAM there. MKES sounded like plausible Jaguars, but CANALSONE was clearly wrong. And I wanted it to be ZONE. I really did. But SAM seemed indisputable (to my newly awakened brain). So we just sat there for a while. Anyway: ZAX. There you go.

This is not a theme type I enjoy that much because it's essentially a themeless, with utterly unlinked and dullish theme answers. Then you get the revealer and (maybe) you see that they were linked after all. It's a good revealer, in that I enjoy remembering "Wayne's World." Also, I'm really loving USS WASP (even though I've never heard of it) (28A: It's known as the Ship With the Mighty Stinger) and the lovely GERSHWIN (coincidentally, I was looking at an old grid of mine last night that had SCHWINN in that exact spot) (10D: "They All Laughed" composer). My big triumph of the day was managing to remember that stupid NIM game—which I have never ever seen outside crosswords (39A: Game with matchsticks). If I''d clued this puzzle, MARGE, ABE and ITCHY would've all had "Simpsons" clues. ITCHY seems at least as famous as ZAX. To anyone born after 1970, anyway.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Kind of mint (AFTER DINNER)
  • 26A: Chicken coop (HEN HOUSE)
  • 51A: Traditional Chinese beverage (GREEN TEA)
  • 63A: Multiple-company building, to Brits (OFFICE BLOCK)
Gotta run.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    leah712 6:53 AM  

    "The Zax" is one of the four stories in Dr. Seuss's "Sneetches and Other Stories," which I believe to be his finest work.

    OTD 6:54 AM  

    Easy for me. Nothing spectacular or unusual about it. Just saw an XKE in the Mall parking lot yesterday.

    Always enjoyed Ed Wynn.

    GILL I. 7:06 AM  

    @leah712 The Zax. One wants to go north and the other wants to go south.... Love The Sneetches.
    I thought this puzzle was fun. Maybe a bit on the tough side for a Tues. but very doable.
    I wish I could spell horse doovers. USS WASP was a new one on me. HEN party is more British than Yankee and I love the word SNOOD.

    Milford 7:20 AM  

    Slow-going Tuesday for me, not exactly sure why, but I just failed to see things like GERSHWIN and PARTY ON, which should have been gimmes, early on.

    I have a lovely 12 year old ballerina, yet could not figure out LITHESOME forever, never heard of USS WASP, and I'm not really sure what a NUTCAKE is.

    This doesn't usually happen, but I had the exact same experience as @Rex with ZAX. I put in sAm, the stubborn non-green eggs & ham eating character first, and it just didn't seem wrong at all. Stared at CANALSONE for a very long time before I figured it out. There is nothing wrong with ZAX, and actually the "unyielding" part of the clue should have been the giveaway to me, but ... well, I just thought of sAm first.

    So just a slow puzzle solve for me. But overall a nice one. Theme was ok. Liked MARGE, ED WYNN, SNOOD, NEHRU.

    Oh yeah, I also had one, then Two, before TEN for 8D. It's probably a wonder I finished this puzzle at all.

    Z 7:26 AM  

    I have already forgotten PARTY ON. And then trying to parse EDW-N- as some alternative spelling to Edwin made the last Y and N a little had for me to see. Otherwise, pretty much what Rex said, a themeless that wasn't.

    LEICA before SIEVE - i before e except when it's a camera - that's the rule I remember.

    webwinger 7:28 AM  

    Lots to like here, but agree with Rex that the theme was the least of it, except for the nifty reveal, which I didn’t get until the end, having misspelled EDWiNN (and expecting from the clue a repeated word, like “nanu nanu”). Theme answers and clues were actually among the dullest of the puzzle, IMO. Definitely “crunchy” for a Tuesday, with my longest time in many weeks. I usually have trouble with Simpson’s clues (really like the show, almost never watch it), but did quickly get MARGE. Our fun couple ABE and LEE seem to have separated, but they’re both easier to deal with now.

    Loren Muse Smith 7:34 AM  

    I haven’t struggled with a Tuesday like this in a while. Not knowing USS WASP, ED WYNN, and NUT CAKE (NUTcase – yes! Rum CAKE– yes!), and not being that familiar with Wheel of Fortune or Wayne’s World, made the finishing touches really hard to iron out.

    Just like @Rex and@Milford, I had “Sam” for ZAX until the bitter end. And GREEN TEA feels Japanese-ish to me.

    The only NIM I know is NIM Chimsky. But now I seem to vaguely remember (SI!) seeing that clued as a math game, and I’m sure I mentioned NIM Chimsky then, too.

    Poor Dad – PONT, EAU, ESPRIT, OEUVRE. . .!

    @Gill I.P. - I received an email last week asking me to send a list of the club’s “hours devours.” But I’m just being a SNOOD. (Hey- that word’s too much of a beaut to simply mean (SI!) “hair net.” Besides, any word that starts SNOO should involve an UPTURNED nose.)

    Because I kicked around this very idea with another Rexite (sans the reveal – love it) and because we didn’t really get anywhere, I was pleased to see all the answers today whose both parts work with PARTY. He came up with HEN HOUSE and GREEN TEA, and I think “Birthday Dinner” that was my contribution.

    I finished – PHEW! BUT TEnse there for a while when it looked like I wouldn’t.

    Thanks, Mike.

    Elle54 7:53 AM  

    Hahaha! I finished the puzzle with SAM in place, not noticing the down mistakes. Couldn't find my mistake so had to go to another blog last night to find it since Rex wasn't here!

    John V 8:07 AM  

    DNF. Never saw Wayne's World nor Wheel of Fortune, so could not suss the revealer. Crossing Wayne's World with Mary Poppins has more than a whiff of Natick to it. Could not see PHEW for the life of me; that central area did not end well for me.

    I suppose OFFICEBLOCK is a thing, but news to me.

    MetaRex 8:08 AM  

    This one floated my boat...no stings from me today...ratings here

    MetaRex 8:14 AM  

    MetaRex realizes something new about yesterday's SI puzzle and abandons all resistance...semi-smutty details

    joho 8:24 AM  

    I really liked the density of the theme and especially the fun reveal.

    But I was struck by all the people congregrated here: ALAN, BANA, 'ENRY, ABE, MARGE, BARBRA, DINAH, GERSHWIN, NEHRU, the ZAX who was mistaken for sAm, EDWYNN, STEFAN and LEE!

    I struggle with OEUVRE every single time but love it anyway.

    Nice Tuesday, thank you, Mike Buckley!

    lawprof 8:36 AM  

    This was a strange Tuesday for me. Although I finished without any mistakes or writeovers, it seemed to take forever. As the minutes ticked away, the (other) Wayne's World refran, "I'm not worthy" kept running through my head.

    Crosses were critical in getting NIM, ALEPH, and ZAX. And I'll never - not even now - learn how to spell hors d' ouevre (and I'm not sure I want to), so crosses bailed me out there.

    It's nice to see a Tuesday puzzle put up some resistance. No too much, but just enough.

    lawprof 8:39 AM  

    Sorry 'bout the typos. My editor's still asleep. I'm still not worthy.

    Glimmerglass 8:47 AM  

    NIM is an old game where opponents take turns taking matches from several rows of match sticks, as many as you like from one row at a turn. The Etruscans probably played it. The object is to force your opponent to take the last match. The logic is a bit like tic-tac-toe, and like tic-tac-toe, there's a method to win. I once made (from a kit) an analog computer to play the game.

    dk 9:06 AM  

    Just purchased a LEICA X1 as I propel myself into the digital age. If you want your point and shoots to look professional….

    Oh yeah the puzzle. This one was just fill in the blanks. The only delay was GERSHWIN as I thought the s might be a c. But as EcPrit was a sound a cat might make… S won.

    I once had to wear a SNOOD in a computer lab circa god knows when. Dorks on parade as I think I still used my slide rule.

    NUTCAKE is also a psychiatric diagnosis soon to be in DSM v. leventy trillion .

    🐔🐔 (2 Hens) I try to get excited over a Tuesday but I still read the Science Times section first.

    MikeM 9:08 AM  

    super easy. Mary Poppins was the first movie I ever saw. So that stuck out and EDWYNN was my first entry. Never heard of CANALZONE and at first I thought it might be CANAda somthing or other.

    Unknown 9:14 AM  

    Lol @ dk re: NUTCAKE :-)

    This one was right in my ZONE. Wayne's World! Wayne's World! PARTY ON! Excellent! If only Mr. Buckley had SCHWING in there somewhere. But how to clue it?

    jberg 9:16 AM  

    When I was in college, "Last Year at Marienbad" was considered a great film. If you haven't seen it, it's about how empty and boring the life of the (European) rich is - a point conveyed by making the film itself extremely boring. (I was young, I probably missed something). Anyway, people spend a lot of time walking around a formal garden with lots of hedges, and passing by people who are playing NIM. They probably hadn't known it killed off the Etruscans.

    (I'm being unfair, I used to play it myself - but, as @Glimmerglass points out, once you know the strategy it's all pre-determined.)

    I thought this had a little crunch to it (49D - and I'm pretty sure a NUT CAKE is a cake with nuts in it, definitely a thing). But GREEN TEA is definitely Japanese; and NWT stands for Northwest Territories, which has been Nunavut ever since it became a province - so I had Nun in there for a long time.

    Not only didn't know ZAX, but the doc's books are absolutely full of unyielding characters - sAm, the cAt in the hat, Horton, the Lorax - none of them will give an inch. I didn't know XKE either, but it finally sounded a little better than tKE or mKE, and as everyone says, the ZA_ was pretty definite.

    Didn't we have Eliza Doolittle yesterday?

    Well PARTY ON - having a snow day here, which is lucky since I have a huge bruise on my leg from tripping in my garage, and am not supposed to walk much.

    p.s. I used to play SNOOD on my computer; finally had to kill it to get any work done.

    chefbea 9:30 AM  

    fairly easy puzzle though I never saw Wayne's world. Never heard of Nim.

    I guess if you put nuts in any cake...it's a nut cake..ask Dinah when she comes to your kitchen!!

    Unknown 9:56 AM  

    This one played a bit slower than an avg Tuesday for me too. A lot of the longer answers that were out of my ZONE.

    LITHSOME - know the word, but not in my everyday vocab, so took some time to see it. Took me a long time to see CANAL ZONE too-not sure why.

    NUT CAKE - I'm sure it's a thing, but I don't think I've ever actually heard anyone use that term.

    USS WASP - never heard of it, but a cool clue

    OFFICE BLOCK - I've been working in office buildings for almost 25 yrs, never heard the Brit terminology, nothing interesting about it

    Milford 10:03 AM  

    Yeah, of course NUT CAKE is a thing, but it just has that "green paint" feel to it. But I could be wrong.

    Maybe it seems weird because, as @dk says, it sounds like a diagnosis. Or male genitalia.

    Notsofast 10:04 AM  

    A pretty great Tuesday. A little tough in spots, but much fun! Favorite words: LITHESOME, MARM, NUTCAKE, PARTYON, ITCHY, ZAX and the smile-inducing SNOOD. Good job Mr. Buckley!

    jackj 10:12 AM  

    One look at Mike Buckley’s smiling face at XWordInfo and it’s clear he is a happy man and based on the everyman type puzzles he has given us to date, he seems to be a hail-fellow-well-met to boot.

    Solving one of his puzzles is like having a thoroughly satisfying meal at a neighborhood family restaurant as opposed to a budget busting evening at a chi chi bistro that made you book a reservation four months prior.

    Today’s theme is simple and fun, using the “Wayne’s World” catch phrase of PARTYON as the reveal, PARTY is added to the ends of each word of four two-word phrases to give eight separate types of parties, the liveliest theme phrase being HENHOUSE (with SNOODs likely being de rigueur for the HENPARTY partiers).

    As in his past work, Mike takes care to fill the grid with interesting entries like RELATE, as in “I can___” , LITHESOME (that used to be LISSOME but is athletically slim and graceful on either count) and USSWASP, a WWII aircraft carrier that I think received the “stinger” tag from Winston Churchill.

    The wonderful word OEUVRE signals rumakis, maybe, in the HORS D’ iteration of the word, EDWYNN is fun just because it is ED WYNN and, also, I think the constructor meant to give us NUTCASE but when it wouldn’t work he tied it to HACK and brought dessert to the PARTY, gussied up as NUTCAKE.

    Thanks to Mike Buckley for another bit of light-hearted cleverness.

    quilter1 10:18 AM  

    @dk: agree it was fill in the blanks. Just sailed right through. But I liked seeing SNOOD. In the 1870's and maybe into the next decade SNOODS were a very popular hair accessory and were quite elaborate--braided velvet ribbons, beads and other ornaments. Also liked seeing ED WYNN, a very funny guy. With @chef bea I see no objection to NUT CAKE. A cake with nuts, big deal.

    Mr. Benson 10:18 AM  

    I, too, had never heard of the Zax, until about 12 hours ago, when I was reading the New Yorker (Talk of the Town section, March 18 issue, "Dept. of Nonsense"), which refers to it. And now it's in my morning crossword. Really weird.

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:30 AM  

    My eyes are going, fast: Stumbled briefly at 20 A when I read the clue as "Indeterminate ordeal", which this puzzle certainly wasn't. (Third look shows that it was "Indeterminate ordinal.")

    Two Ponies 10:32 AM  

    I like a Tuesday that puts up a fight but nut cake kinda spoiled this for me. Canal zone wasn't too good either. Other than that OK.

    Pete 10:33 AM  

    I had this whole rant prepared as I was solving, explaining that SAM wasn't unyielding, that he eventually came to love green eggs and ham. Oh well.

    I always hated Dr. Seuss as a kid, and never understood the fascination as an adult.

    Why, when a constructor needs a random sequence of 3 or 4 letters, is it OK among a certain solving population if he drags up some relatively unknown Seuss character, but not a rap artist? What would have been the reaction if ZAX were clued as Rapper MC ___?

    Sandy K 10:36 AM  

    Hands up for having Sam- having never heard of ZAX. And having a heck of a time filling in correct spelling of OEUVRE- forgot the U- sorry @M&A...

    But the U AS IN NUT CAKE and the Z AS IN in CANAL ZONE helped- PHEW!

    Otherwise, liked how both halves of theme PHRASES fit the theme- PARTY

    NYer 10:51 AM  

    A disastrous Tuesday for me, DNF. I was so sure of LITHEtoes it didnt occur to me that it was wrong, so the whole Midwest section broke down. Didnt know NIM, ALEPH, USSWASP or ALEPH to show me the error of my ways. Hope the sun will come out tomorrow, in more ways than one.

    jae 10:57 AM  

    Pretty good Tues.  Medium-tough for me also.  No real problems or erasures, it just took a while to see stuff like NUT CAKE and CANAL ZONE.  And, like many of you, not knowing ZAX probably contributed.

    Random observation:  The USS WASP goes back to when HST was Vice President.

    Liked it.  Finding that many entries where both halves work with PARTY had to be tricky.  And, Wayne's World is a zippy revealer!

    retired_chemist 11:18 AM  

    A better than fair but not great puzzle IMO. I too don't get a lot out of this theme type.

    There have been a slew of USS WASPs. Does anyone know how the "mighty stinger" nickname came into being? Haven't seen it via Wikipedia or other Googled sources.

    MARGE was HOMER, LEICA was CANON (there are LOTS of 5 letter camera names), PHEW was WHEW, ENCL was ENCL until SASE seemed more logical, and ZAX was a blank waiting for crosses. Really, really wanted Eric IDLE for 21A - most hilarious villain ever, I would expect.

    Thanks, Mr. Buckley.

    Evan 11:21 AM  

    I've said before how I'm always impressed by X-follows/precedes-both-words themes, just because I imagine how difficult it must be to come up with solid phrases for each theme entry. The revealer here is awesome, too -- I love "Wayne's World." Maybe they could have fit in NOT at 11-Across and GARTH at 51-Down as a bonus, like so:

    G R E E N T E A
    A E R A T E
    R E A
    T V S
    H E E

    Having said that, I wonder if OFFICE PARTY could have been replaced -- would GARDEN HOUSE have been better? That's the only possibility I can think of at the moment, but then you'd have to ditch HEN HOUSE. Hmm, maybe WAR DANCE could replace that?

    ZAX and USS WASP were mysteries to me too.


    I also had LITHE TOES for a bit.

    JenCT 11:34 AM  

    Didn't know USS WASP but sussed it out from the clue (Stinger)

    Got stuck in the SW corner for a long time - wanted Pekoe TEA & couldn't see GREEN or ELEGY for a while.

    Also remembered the Wayne's World cry as "PARTY Time! Excellent!" - PARTY ON seemed like more of a statement than a cry...

    In other news, the Finance Director at NEADS told me that donations are absolutely pouring in, that she's never seen anything like it, but won't have a total until Friday. You guys are the best!!!!

    retired_chemist 11:34 AM  

    @ Evan - NOT @ 11A works, with the clue for 13D, "Cosi fan _____."

    Captcha thensez - appropriate for a followup comment.

    mac 11:47 AM  

    Medium Tuesday for me, but I got it all except for the X. I too thought it was Sam, than changed it to Zam.

    Lithesome was the word I stared at longest; never heard it before. Lithe, yes, and lissome.

    Pretty words: deft, esprit, USS Wasp.

    Davis 12:10 PM  

    Good but not great puzzle. I was obsessed with the Wayne's World movie for about a year in junior high, so PARTY ON was fun to see. SNOOD reminds me of the time-suck computer game I played for a bit in college. And somehow I was vaguely aware of the existence of the USS WASP; no idea how.

    I made the same sAm-for-ZAX error that seems to have been prevalent, but quickly corrected course thanks to CANAL ZONE. Otherwise, nothing really caught me up in this puzzle.

    @jberg — For some reason I randomly ended up going to see "Last Year at Marienbad" at an arthouse theater while I was in grad school. It was a surreal movie to watch, and stuck with me for its pure strangeness; but somehow I didn't realize until your post what it was actually about. Thanks for that.

    Also, GREEN TEA is at least as Chinese as it is Japanese—jasmine, dragon well, green peony, and gunpowder are just a few of the common Chinese greens you'll likely see around. Though I do think Japan creates a stronger connection with green tea in people's minds because that's the principal style of tea made there (whereas China is pretty well split between green, black, oolong, and pu erh).

    Lewis 12:19 PM  

    Not a wow, but a good quality workmanlike puzzle. I did like Green Party/Tea Party -- talk about opposite poles!

    Evan 12:32 PM  

    Correction to my post above: I meant, I wonder if OFFICE BLOCK could be replaced.

    Masked and Partanonymo4Us 12:52 PM  

    This Buckley dude is showin' up more often than Patrick Berry. OK by me, but, still, throw ol' MetaBerry a bone now and then, will yah Will?

    @SandyK--no problemo, kiddo. It's the thought that counts. Wonder if there was ever a USS ULULATE? USS MUUMUU would clearly be too much to ask.

    Forty-somethin had the runs, so never had time for any of the oh so essential...

    Silver Bullets:

    ZAX... Seuss character named after a slate-cutting tool. Sold at Zax Fifth Avenue.

    PARTYON... Better than PARTYOFF, any old day. Agree with 40-or-so. Cool revealer.

    NUTCAKE... Never ett that. Is it similar to yer SI-CAKE? Sure U couldn't get NUTCASE to fit, Mike? Watch it. U can be replaced by Patrick Berry, in a NY minute.

    BUTTE... U may tend to sport a big one, if U really get into the NUTCAKE.

    Fun puz. Gotsta runoff.
    NWT... Adult FT. Think about it.

    LaneB 1:20 PM  

    Managed to get through with a couple of erasures and no googling. Much more satisfying than being stumped by the Friday andSaturday puzzles, although many out there enjoy the latter more because of the challenge. For me there's not much joy in a DNF.

    Sfingi 1:27 PM  

    Din't know ZAX, NIM, BANA, and USS WASP, but no problem.

    Forgot about the theme until totally done.

    Terrible driving and wind here. Schools called off.

    Accompanying music suggested:

    I went down to BUTTE, Montana for a little change of scene...
    Sur la pont, d'Avignon...

    Happy St. Joe's. My son's birthday. He was supposed to be born on St. Pat's, but labor went on and on.

    @JBerg - you mean it had a point? Just saw another movie that I do not recommend: "Francesco," about St. Frances of Assisi with Mickey Rourke and Helena Bonham Carter. That and "Brother Sun, Sister Moon," are extremely slow moving and boring. Maybe now, we'll get a movie about the saint which will move and be moving? Apparently famous actors or directors don't do it.

    Anonymous 1:34 PM  

    When I think of a Wayne's world cry, I think "party time! Excellent!" (Wah! Wah! Wah!). So I'm with @JenCT on this one. "Party on" was more of a benediction, I thought... That said, any puzzle featuring Wayne's world is likely to get an "awesome!" from me. Even when it's an easy Tuesday puzz -- FearlessKim

    Bird 2:00 PM  

    Not an easy Tuesday, but I liked it. Two phrases came to mind quickly, but neither fit: “We’re not worthy!” and “Shwing!”

    59A was blank (I thought maybe CAT, but decided against it) until I got the downs to fill it in for me. Never heard of ZAX.

    Do we have a new annoying category in Random Classic Cars (XKE, REO, OLDS, GTO)?

    PARTY ON dudes!

    Unknown 2:00 PM  

    For the movie buffs - Was the term PARTY ON used in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" also?

    JenCT 2:24 PM  

    @Rob C: Yes! I think it was "PARTY ON, dudes."

    Billy 2:48 PM  

    I might be movin' to Montana soon,
    Gonna be a dental floss tycoon.

    Carola 2:58 PM  

    This one went fast for me. Liked ECO- and TIMBER for the GREEN PARTY and the NUTCAKE for a (non-politically-RELATEd) TEA PARTY, which might very well also be a HEN PARTY.

    Also liked 'ENRY next to HEN HOUSE, although with Eliza he got into the dog HOUSE ("Just you wait, 'Enry 'Iggins, just you wait!"

    Ellen S 3:54 PM  

    @JenCT, I had to wait until this morning to make my contribution to your dowry for Ollie (only my desktop computer knows my credit card number, and I was avoiding email). Service dogs are amazing. I knew one a few years ago, also a black Lab, who was the pride of mid-town Sacramento. He was named Union Pacific Railroad, owner called him "Uni" if she needed him in a hurry. She'd sit on her porch and let him play with neighborhood kids, then she'd whistle him up and he'd go make dinner, I guess. He knew a lot of obscure commands, for sure.

    I also remembered NIM from the Marienbad game. Hand up here for not knowing the movie had a point (make a boring movie to illustrate rich people's boring lives is a pretty good guess), but in the late 50s I (mis)spent many a high school study hall playing a pencil-and-paper version of NIM. Probably had its own name, but I never learned it -- you draw a ladder; each of the two players can put her initials 1,2 or 3 squares from the bottom or from the last square played. Object is to force the other person to put her initial in the top square. Second person to play can always win, just like in regular NIM.

    OFFICEBLOCK was easy from an adulthood life equally misspent reading or watching Brit murder mysteries. Lots of action takes place in OFFICE BLOCKS.

    Finally... @Milford, you have provided an image that I can't get rid of. If NUTCAKE has something to do with male genitalia, then is it what they wash off after a week or so in the woods without a shower? Ick.

    sanfranman59 4:23 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 8:25, 8:22, 1.00, 56%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Tue 5:16, 4:57, 1.06, 66%, Medium-Challenging

    Tita 7:43 PM  

    XKEs Are such beautiful cars!

    Hey Little Cobra by The Rip Chords
    (One of my singing the shower songs...)

    I took my Cobra down to the track Hitched to the back of my Cadillac Everyone was there just a waiting for me There were plenty of Stingrays and XKEs.

    @lms...love the hours devours!
    Funnish Puzzle...What everyone else said, plus BEG and PLEA.

    chefwen 7:57 PM  

    I'll be making a NUT CAKE for next weeks Seder. It's more formal name is Chocolate Nut Torte. No flour involved.

    Our brand new HEN HOUSE is painted in GREEN Bay Packer colors. Very attractive.

    Easy one for me, the theme was very helpful in the solve. Had to wait for crosses to get ZAX.

    jae 8:07 PM  

    @Tita -- An XKE is also the featured car in Jan and Dean's Deadman's Curve.

    Tita 8:21 PM  

    I was out in my Stingray late one night, when an xke pulled up at the light...he rolled. down the.window of his shiny new Jag and challenged me then and there to a drag...
    I saw Jan and Dean many years after Jan's car accident.They sang this song.
    Thanks @jae.

    @Jen...HENHOUSE...another shoutout to you.As is HENPARTY, as a mildly ridiculous name for our luncheons...
    I'm so happy that you are nearing your goal!

    OISK 8:29 PM  

    Average Tuesday for me. Since I have no idea what 'Wayne's World" is or was, I enjoyed the "reveal" a bit less than I might have otherwise. Never heard of Zax either, but Dr. Seuss was after my time, and I knew XKE, so I finished correctly.   I have no idea who Eric Bana is either, but that did not interfere with my enjoyment; there will always be a few unfamiliar pop culture references, and I am extremely unpopular...

    PortlandiaPeg 9:25 PM  

    I work in a specialty field and one prominent leader quipped to me: "There are a bunch of nutballs in our field, and every few years they get together in one big nutcake. We call it a conference."
    I had IAM for the Seuss character, giving me the Canaliones. Hmmm....

    C. Ross Word 11:06 PM  


    Weren't they the "family" in "The Godfather?"

    sanfranman59 11:13 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 5:51, 6:10, 0.95, 25%, Easy-Medium
    Tue 8:20, 8:20, 1.00, 52%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:35, 3:41, 0.97, 29%, Easy-Medium
    Tue 5:06, 4:57, 1.03, 60%, Medium-Challenging

    Liz 12:20 AM  

    Just the other day I commented on the resemblance of the new pope to EdWynn.

    Pete 12:26 AM  

    Well guys, it's been fun, having this blog. I'm going to miss it.

    I greatly fear that Rex's head exploded tonight, sometime arounds 10:01. He was last seen watching re-runs of Oprah, and he's looking under the couch in his living room looking for his car. There's got to be a car, there's just got to be a car there!

    JFC 12:44 AM  

    @Pete, yes. I think Rex has croaked with a stroke when I saw the Wednesday puzzle....


    Acme 2:10 AM  

    Loved this! 8 theme entries and the compound phrases SO smooth...and the GREENTEA was brilliant as @Lewis pointed out with opposites united...very clever!

    (@Evan, I agree about replacing OFFICEBLOCK, and GREENHOUSE is clever, but I like HENHOUSE better and that GREENTEA polar thingie going on!

    Mike Buckley just did the Einstein quote last week...wow, full spectrum, prolific and must be happy to have two within days of each other and so different.

    I did not get the ZA?/?KES crossing...settled on ZAZ.
    ZAX is common in Scrabble tho, but I only know it as a tool.
    Dr. Seuss has some sort of big exhibition here in SF this week...don't you love that sort of synchronicity, @Mr. Benson?

    Finally back in SF post ACPT. You've got to fight, for your right, to paaaaaaaarty!

    Spacecraft 10:31 AM  

    This puppy seemed easy to me--easier than yesterday, for sure. Pretty smooth sailing, with only a couple of waves.

    LITHESOME? Yeah, it's a word, but really...lithe, or lissome, would do the trick. If we wanted to thin out our language, this would be one of the first to go.

    NUTCAKE, as has been noted above, is green paint.

    Ah, but GERSHWIN and PHANTOMS are worth the price! It's just too bad that our ZAX wasn't "south-going." Loved the XKE; that was my fantasy car growing up.

    Wow, why doesn't BARBRA do a concert of GERSHWIN songs? Sellout!

    Captcha (third one tried after two totally illegible): nthcan. Somebody peeking?

    DMGrandma 3:05 PM  

    Solving this puzzle required a little "adjusting" here and there. Had EDWiNN for awhile, which made me slow to get the theme, until I realized the I had to be a Y. Don't know Wayne's World, or even what it was (is?). Finally realized SAM was wrong, but ended with the ZAm/mKE corner. Close, but no cigar, again!

    Snoods were popular during the war. They were a safety measure required for long-haired women working in the war plants. They caught on as a style, and my mother even crocheted one for my Alice-in-Wonderland doll!

    My Captcha is Noneda, which leads me to wonder what I'm lacking?!

    rain forest 3:43 PM  

    @jberg, Both Nunavut and the North West Territories are up north in Canada, but only the NWT is above Saskatchewan and Alberta. Green tea is Chinese. Let's have a fight. The Zax is a critter from "Sneetches and Other Stories" by Dr. Seuss, a collection of 4 stories of which "Too Many Daves" is the best, at least according to my kids when I read it to them 30-odd years ago.

    Dirigonzo 3:52 PM  

    Agree with @Spacecraft, this puzzle seemed easier than yesterday's. I threw down ALEPH with nary a cross, a first for me, and cruised around the grid with only a small speed-bump at obits/ELEGY to slow me down - it was almost like I was at the wheel of an XKE. Then I spent a couple of minutes trying to figure out what kind of phrase PARTiON is because I, like @DMG, had Ed WiNN singing "I Love to Laugh" - catching that little mis-step provided my PHEW moment.

    @SIS - Osprey web-cam is streaming at http://explore.org/#!/live-cams/player/live-osprey-cam. I've only seen one bird in the nest so far - (s)he seemed to be calling for the mate.

    Ginger 4:54 PM  

    There were lots of memory joggers today. This chocoholic reacted to the mint at 17-A. Had a wonderful trip through the Panama Canal 2 years ago, so of course 36-D brought many fun events to mind. And, who doesn't chuckle when thinking of ED WYNN?

    I missed the 'sam' trap because I already had CANALZONE in place. Have never seen Wayne's World, or heard of NIM, but the crosses were fair.

    @SIS - thanks for the info on the Ospreys. I'll try to catch them when I'm next in Seattle. There are several that hang out on pilings near a restaurant on the Columbia River, though I don't know where the nest is, but it must be close. They are magnificent! @Diri, I'm going to check out your link. I wonder if there is much difference between those on the east and west coasts?

    Ginger 5:09 PM  

    @Diri - WOW Thanks

    Dirigonzo 5:42 PM  

    @Ginger - glad you liked it. I don't know if the mate is around as I've still only seen the one bird.

    Solving in Seattle 6:45 PM  

    Almost a natick for me at the crossing of ESPRIT/PONT. Didn't know it was a "lively wit." Someday, just maybe, I'll be able to spell Hors d'OEUVRE. Totally on crosses, even knowing what the word was.

    I've never been to the CANALZONE, but got it on the 1st 4 letters. If you haven't read David McCullough's "The Path Between the Seas," the story of the building of the Panama Canal, do yourself a favor. It's one of the most fascinating books I've read. The list of accomplishments in different disciplines that occurred as a result of that project is amazing.

    @Diri, I just went to your osprey cam. There were 2 in the nest! Thanks for putting us on to it. My ospreys were nesting at the top of a light post above 3rd base at a local park. Maybe at 40 feet. Every year, the park guys turned off the power to the lights for that pole while the birds were nesting to prevent a fire. Finally, last year, they put in a 50 foot pole with a perch and a platform for them and moved the nest from the light pole to the new platform (about 15 feet back from the foul line). Then they crossed their fingers. When they returned they went straight to the new nest location. PHEW! Now they're back there for the 2nd year. You can't see much because of the height. Your osprey cam is like the peregrine falcon cam they had on a high ledge in Seattle a few years back. It was so close you could count the feathers in the chicks.

    JenCT 7:14 PM  

    Sorry to butt in from primetime, but I'm a bird lover, too!

    Thanks for that link, @Diri - very cool.

    Here's a streaming video from an eastern site in New Hampshire:


    And here's a site that explains all about ospreys:


    (I don't know if it's the same info as @SIS posted; I couldn't find that post.)

    strayling 7:17 PM  

    Couple of tricky ones, but the theme was fun.

    What do you call OFFICE BLOCKs in the US? I must have been confusing people all this time and nobody mentioned it.

    Also, if The SNOOD isn't a Dr. Seuss character it should have been.

    Solving in Seattle 7:39 PM  

    @Strayling, just an office building.

    @Diri, I've got to see if we can get a web cam going on my ospreys by next season. I'm enjoying your birds.

    @JenCT, thanks for visiting Syncity and for your "O" link.

    Dirigonzo 8:58 PM  

    @JenCT, echoing @SIS' thanks for your visit and the links. @Gill I.P. (who is overdue for a visit herself) once referred to us out here in SynCity as "the bird watching, cold weather enduring star watchers", which seems pretty accurate(speaking only for myself), and like-minded prime-timers are always welcome.

    Ginger 9:30 PM  

    @JenCT - Glad to have you stop by here in Syn City, I echo the comments from @Diri and @SIS! I still laugh at your rooster Russell Crowe.

    GILL I. 10:54 AM  

    Just now reading the Syn City comments. Speaking of, has anyone heard from Deb?
    @Diri and @JenCT. Thank you both for the wonderful pictures. I love birds and other things....

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