Pianist Peter / TUE 4-2-13 / Weight loss surgeries informally / Title fish in Pixar film / African republic colonized by freed American slaves / One-named pop star with 2001 hit Whenever Wherever

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: POPE FRANCIS (63A: Official elected March 13, 2013) — lots of clues and answers related to this guy

Word of the Day: SHAKIRA (11D: One-named pop star with the 2001 hit "Whenever, Wherever") —

Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll ( ... born February 2, 1977), known mononymously as Shakira [...], is a Colombian singer-songwriter, dancer, record producer, choreographer, and model. [...]
In 2001, Shakira crossed into the English market with her third album Laundry Service, which sold over 15 million copies worldwide; her first English single "Whenever, Wherever" became the best selling single of 2002. Her success was solidified with her fourth and fifth albums Fijación Oral Vol. 1 and Oral Fixation Vol. 2 (2005), the latter of which spawned the best-selling song of the 2000s, "Hips Don't Lie". [...] Her official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" became the biggest-selling World Cup song of all time. On YouTube, the English version of the music video is the 7th most watched video of all time with over 500 million views. Since 2013, Shakira has served as a coach on the fourth season of the American version of The Voice.
Shakira has won many awards including five MTV Video Music Awards, two Grammy Awards, eight Latin Grammy Awards, seven Billboard Music Awards, twenty-eight Billboard Latin Music Awards and has been Golden Globe-nominated. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and she is the highest-selling Colombian artist of all time, having sold over 70 million albums. Her U.S. album sales stand at 9.9 million. Outside of her work in the music industry, Shakira is also involved in philanthropic activities through charity work and benefit concerts, notably her Pies Descalzos Foundation, her performance at the "Clinton Global Initiative" created by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and her invitation to the Oval Office by President Barack Obama in February 2010 to discuss early childhood development. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hey there. Liz wrote yesterday that I was going on a "long hiatus," but that was inaccurate. Unless you consider one day "long," which I'm guessing not even my most ardent fans (hi mom) do. I was just swamped with work—a big pile of it that I probably could've gotten done earlier in the week, but I was on break so screw that. So it's back to blogging tonight, though I'm gonna have to be quick about it. It's back to work for me in the (early) morning.

This theme is timely-ish, though it's awfully straightforward. Just ... some stuff about the new pope. The end. The puzzle does have two things going for it—a Lot of theme answers, and a very polished and entertaining grid. The upper left is a little wobbly — So Many Prefixes (esp. if you include LIPOS, which I do) — and PNEU is a flat-out abomination, but most of the rest is very good. The NE, with MAN CAVE (22D: Room with a pool table, wet bar and TV, say) and SHAKIRA and "COME, NOW" (12D: "You've gotta be joking ..."), is especially good. The clue on THE WAVE is fantastic (41D: Stand-up routine in a stadium?). I love that Ian went for MASH / SEXT instead of MATH / TEXT, though it definitely caused me to lose a little time. I had TEXT in place, but had to then fix it when I (thank god) checked the cross and realized there's (probably) no such song as "Monster MATH" (there should be a song called "Monster MATH," there really should). I wonder if any speedsters (or just moderately inattentive people) finished with MATH / TEXT and then had a lot of trouble finding their error. Seems possible. I was pretty fast today—would've been faster if I'd remembered that the damned GUARD was SWISS (which I only just learned for the first time a month or so ago). Didn't have any real hang-ups today. Just minor stuff. Thought NERO was NIRO (32A: Pianist Peter)—that may have been my biggest hiccup of the whole solve, and it's not much of one. Oh, it also took me many crosses to see "I KNOW" (29D: "You're preaching to the choir!"). But this is very minor stuff.

Theme answers:
  • 3D: 63-Across, e.g. (PONTIFF)
  • 17A: Predecessor of 63-Across (BENEDICT XVI)
  • 21A: Sign that 63-Across was elected (WHITE SMOKE)
  • 37A: Original home of 63-Across (ARGENTINA)
  • 57A: Protector of 63-Across (SWISS GUARD)
  • 45D: Current home of 63-Across (VATICAN) [shouldn't this clue end [...with "the"]?]

OK, gotta get to sleep now. In case you missed my late addendum yesterday, here's a link to yesterday's episode of the radio program "Life Elsewhere," which featured interviews with me and Merl Reagle and a couple of other folks.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Elle54 12:12 AM  

    Monster MASH! First answer I got. I had trouble in the W since I didn't know SWISSGUARD.

    Elle54 12:14 AM  

    Psychopop: just saw SHAKIRA on the Voice tonight.

    Evan 12:34 AM  

    The young 'uns have taken over the NYT puzzle! For at least one week, anyway. Today's the fourth day out of five with a Twenty Under Thirty byline. I'd like to think this will be a continuing trend, but Patrick Berry or Barry Silk will inevitably crash the party one of these weekends (and they're welcome to, obviously).

    Today was way easier than yesterday -- did Monday and Tuesday get switched? It's extremely rare that I finish a Tuesday one full minute ahead of my Monday solve time. Then again, the fact that the puzzle's theme is so timely may be what accounted for my fast speed today. Once I got PONTIFF, I knew they were going for a FRANCIS tribute puzzle. BENEDICT XVI basically filled in itself, as did WHITE SMOKE and ARGENTINA.

    Like Rex I was held up by the SWISS GUARD, but I was held up even more by the fact that I just couldn't think to put POPE at the beginning of 63-Across. Maybe having PONTIFF scared me off -- I didn't think they'd have both that and POPE in the same grid, so I kept trying to jam FRANCIS THE FIRST into too few squares.

    An interesting parallel: One of Ian's puzzles last year debuted the answer OH COME NOW. Same answer showed up here too, except the OH ended up in OH NO territory.

    jae 12:37 AM  
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    jae 12:42 AM  

    Pretty smooth for seven theme entries (8 if you count NOTRE).  Liked EROTICA next to VATICAN plus...SEXT, ZIT, MAN CAVE, GOOF, CRAW (great word), SHAKIRA... make for a more zippy than average Tues.  And, the 3 sevens in each  corner are very impressive.  The only weak entry was UNOILED.

    Medium for me, I liked it.  Ian consistently delivers.

    Evan 12:45 AM  

    Thanks, @Elle54, it looks like my word is catching on like wildfire! Mwa ha ha ha....

    To answer some questions yesterday about it:

    @Rob C:

    I think it's better to describe psychopop as thinking of a word and then seeing it in the puzzle shortly afterwards, rather than the other way around. It's way more unpredictable that way.


    I still kinda like it better with an O than an I. Has a real flair to it.

    okanaganer 12:52 AM  

    I think 58D was a left over from yesterday.

    retired_chemist 12:53 AM  
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    retired_chemist 12:55 AM  

    Medium. Liked it. Spent about 30 sec. looking for a typo, which of course was at the bottom of the grid.

    What's wrong with PNEU,Rex? It IS the French word for tire. Fine by me. However, OH NO as clued is not to my taste.

    Little or nothing tricky here. Just filled itself in. 52A was Sierra MADRE first, but one cross was all I needed to pick the right answer.

    Thanks,Mr. Livengood.

    Ellen S 1:28 AM  

    kind of scary - i finished this in about 1/3 the time it took for Monday - 3:49 and I'm still staring at that -- usually that would be 3 hours 49 minutes, not minutes and seconds.

    I have to admt I loved seeing EROTICA next to VATICAN, and SEXT crossing Pope BENEDICT. Couldn't help thinking of the Medici popes, who reputedly did a lot of erotica and whatever the Renaissance equivalent of sexting was. Wicked people are so tame these days (except for the banksters, who should be burned at the stake).

    sanfranman59 1:35 AM  

    Hand up for speed-solver/moderately inattentive person who blew it with MAtH/tEXT. I finished in about 4:30, which would have been 2 seconds off my previous Tuesday best. But then it took me almost 3-1/2 minutes to find that error. With early week puzzles, if the app doesn't accept my answer, 99% of the time it's because of a typo, so I just scan through the grid until I find it. Not this time. I hate when that happens!

    Anoa Bob 1:40 AM  

    This puzzle raises two questions for me. First, if the home of POPE FRANCIS is the VATICAN (that's in Italy, right?), why are those who protect the PONTIFF called the SWISS GUARD?

    And second, if I hang a picture of an UNOILED SHAKIRA in my MAN CAVE, is that EROTICA?

    Great job on such short notice, Mr. Livengood.

    chefwen 2:50 AM  

    @Anoa Bob - I think an OILED SHAKIRA would be more EROTIC than an unoiled SHAKIRA.

    One stupid mistake, I read 36A as Stick one's ___ in and filled in nose. Got a big laugh when it didn't work and had to reread the clue correctly. Stick in one's ___. What would one stick in one's nose, other than a tissue, don't answer that friends.

    Much easier than yesterday's puzzle. Guess because it is so current. You really jumped quickly onto the band wagon Ian. Good job.

    GILL I. 4:58 AM  

    Loved this here puzzle. Not a EWE or PNEU in the bunch.
    Back in medieval times, the SWISS were pretty ferocious mercenaries.
    Speaking of SEXT, it was Pope Sixtus who hired them to become his personal body guards.
    @Elle54 I just learned SHAKIRA tonight after watching The Voice as well!!!! I always thought she was a he...

    webwinger 5:03 AM  

    I guess this was inevitable, and hard to imagine it being done better. Would have been perfect for Monday after Easter, but less perfect than FOOLs. Glad that Bergoglio wasn’t one of the theme words. Don’t know how I knew SWISSGUARD but did. Like @retired_chemist found PNEU perfectly fine, and tripped briefly over Sierra MADRE. Thanks, @EllenS, for reminding us of the VATICAN’s alleged trove of EROTICA, and the image of a SEXTing Medici pope. Agree that wickedness sure isn’t what it used to be, for better or worse… Nice to see NERO clued with Peter for a change. His name makes me recall a movie that featured him and his music: “Sunday in New York”, (from about the same year as Monster MASH, a gimme if you were in 8th grade then) starring very young (pre-Barbarella) Jane Fonda in an ingénue role, and nicely showcasing Manhattan as it looked the first time I ever saw it; both Fonda and the city come across as incredibly innocent to a contemporary viewing.

    Coupla’ gripes about the iPhone Magmic app: Anyone else have the experience that previously entered correct letters often change (? due to unnoticed random key presses), leading to maddening search for typos in the end? And as others have commented, WTF with these top solvers? Today’s #1 time was 0:00:02 (2 seconds!) Can one cut-and-paste the completed grid into the app with one click? Who would want to?

    Loren Muse Smith 5:45 AM  

    First of all, the double VV and FF of REVVED and PONTIFF pleased me. I had forgotten how to spell the latter.

    Secondly, this French major had no idea that “tire” was PNEU INFRAnce! Huh?

    Thirdly, even seeing her face in my mind and remembering vaguely that they were Ben’s parents, I mysteriously filled in “Meade” instead of MEARA and hence “details” for DATA SET, and *that* almost made me throw in the towel in the southeast.

    Nice to see EMIR in his regular clothes. And give me PAM over OLEO any day. Come to think of it, I’ve never laid eyes on a thing of OLEO. I KNOW. SAD.

    I agree with @jae – CRAW is a great word.

    @retired_chemist – I never say “egad,” but OH NO went right in for me with that clue.

    Almost bought Oreida Tater TOTs last night but put them back with a sigh. I love me some Tater TOTs.

    Good job, Ian. EWE HAVE served UP oNE MOre fine puzzle!

    I SECOND @Gill I.P.- PEACE.

    John V 7:22 AM  

    More medium than not. Okay theme. I had thought SHAKIRA was a man; apparently not. UNOILED is not too pretty, but no biggie.

    A good Tuesday.

    So, in Albany, there are two things: snow and .... I forgot the second. Snow on April 2.

    evil doug 7:41 AM  

    Monster Math? I think that wath thung by Bobby 'Borith' Pickett....

    If you watch the excellent "Archer", in last week's episode the Swiss Guard was suspected of plotting the demise of the Pope.

    [Having been ignored in her effort to buy huaraches at Putumayo, Elaine is trying to conspire with the saleswoman at perceived rival Cinco de Mayo.]

    ELAINE: No, no, no, no, listen to me. I work in fashion. Together, we can drive Putumayo outta business and make Cinqo de Mayo numero uno... de Mayo.

    [Gladys comes out behind the counter.]

    GLADYS: Do you need some help with something?

    ELAINE: (puzzled) You? What're you doing here?

    GLADYS: I own this store.

    ELAINE: No you don't. You own Putumayo. Unless you own both stores. (laughs nervously)

    GLADYS: I'm Gladys Mayo.

    [Realization dawns for Elaine. Agitated, she begins to leave, slowly.]

    ELAINE: Ah, this really sticks in my craw.


    MetaRex 8:03 AM  

    Wow...I was sure Evil would take on the Ellen S-raised issue of who if anyone nowadays should burn at the stake...but no...may PEACE reign in RexLand.

    The puzz has two non-papal names in it, one of them contemporary, who many would say are better for burning than for ruling...the names of the wicked, today's solving story, and ratings for insiders and outsiders are at

    We have a puzzle!

    Milford 8:07 AM  

    Easy, peasy Tuesday, faster that yesterday's puzzle. Was relieved I did not have to come up with FRANCIS' former name.

    As MASH and LEONE went in without hesitation, I did not see the same stumbling blocks, but did pause at PNEU, especially since I had sEe ya before PEACE. Loved having EROTICA and SEXT and SHAKIRA in a POPE puzzle.

    Visited the VATICAN a few times as a teenager. Never thought the Swiss Guards looked that menacing - funny uniforms and giant hatchet-looking swords. I'm sure they could kick ass when required, though.

    @Jack V. - yeah, this weather is getting really old.

    @Rex - nice podcast yesterday!

    Z 8:18 AM  

    SECOND, not I SECOND, in every meeting I've ever been a part of, so that slowed me down. Also wanted allOW in before the crosses wouldn't work. So 12 minutes today, which is a little slow for a Tuesday for me.

    On the other hand, had -GUARD and wrote in SWISS without reading the clue.

    We get NOTRE but not DAME, just an oversight, I'm sure.

    @Anoa Bob - I guess it depends on whether or not you COME, NOW.

    OFL went with a Jay-Z video. I'd have gone with Fiona Apple.

    dk 8:22 AM  

    Loren we have Tater Tot Pies on the menus here in heart attack land.

    Ho-hum puzzle for this agnostic.

    💭💭 (two puffs of white smoke)

    Off to the land of 43A for some forensic endeavors. First of a two part gig. Maybe I will see some Cherry Blossoms. Sadly for all of you I will not be able to post until Saturday as access to the intranets is not allowed after today.

    Z 8:23 AM  

    And though I know this is wrong, when I imagine the Swiss Guard they always look like the castle guard in the Wizard of Oz.

    Anonymous 8:36 AM  

    Like @webwinger, I'm mystified by the times posted by the "top" solvers. Got to be some cut and paste method, even at the usual 1-2 minute solving times, much less two seconds (!) I'm finding that by allowing myself to engage in the speed competition, I am missing out on a big part of the fun of the solving, which is to linger in satisfaction over the cluing and the marvelous words. Now, I know that wouldn't work at the ACPT, but today isn't the ACPT...

    (And by the way, @webwinger, thanks for the story the other day about your web name!)

    Back to the puzzle – enjoyed it, especially the richness of the theme material on such short notice, the juxtapositions noted above, and of course the shout-out at 35A :D Chess champion TAL was a WOE for me, but otherwise no real difficulties, and lots of enjoyment. Thanks, Mr. Livengood!


    Anonymous 8:40 AM  

    @Z -- same here! "Hail, Dorothy! The Wicked Witch is dead!"

    Anonymous 8:41 AM  

    Wasn't the "extended hiatus" comment yesterday supposed to be an April Fool's Joke?

    Lewis 9:01 AM  

    Lots of wrong guesses for me, but a happy ending. Learned MHO, but will probably not store it. Felt just right for a Tuesday. Straightforward and kinda fun...

    jackj 9:17 AM  

    If this puzzle had been presented without identifying the constructor and we were asked to guess “who”, Ian Livengood wouldn’t have been in the running and I would have nominated one of the Ancient and Honorables from the Maleska period, who, perhaps, needed to make a few bucks and wrote the puzzle for a budget airline’s in-flight magazine.

    Since the Papal election was held so recently, this isn’t a history lesson but simply a recitation of facts surrounding the event, thus not especially interesting and not much of a challenge.

    The fill wasn’t all one-scoop-straight vanilla-no jimmies-no sugar cone, like the theme, but did have a few saving graces like LIPOS, MANCAVE, DATASET, THEWAVE, (though at Fenway Park it seems most people don’t stand but simply raise their arms while seated), and also EROTICA and SEXT, though the last two can’t really be called “saving graces”.

    The theme nicely covered all the basic facts of the new Pope’s election, the entries being the equivalent of an index, but, mercy, how did Max BAER, NERO, SHAKIRA and KIM Jong-un ever get in to this tableau? Talk about sticking in one’s CRAW!

    The theme would have been a lot more fun for both constructor and solver if the new Pope hadn’t retired the ruby red slippers.

    Keenan Mahoney 9:23 AM  

    Only puzzle I've ever done where I filled in all the theme clues without crosses. Saw the date, got POPEFRANCIS, and the good Catholic in me did the rest. My record for a Tuesday after a brutal Monday time for me, so I guess that's how it goes.

    chefbea 9:29 AM  

    Fairly east puzzle but DNF. Had a Natick at Shakira/Mho.

    Here's a great tip...If you have something squeaky, say like a door hinge...Use Pam. It works just as well as WD40 and sooo much cheaper.

    Eric 9:33 AM  

    COME NOW, I had a RUN AT my all-time Tuesday record with this puzzle (1.7Rex) as I SURFED through it while watching SportsCenter this morning on ESPN (for real).

    Not SAD, just thought the answers could use a little BOLSTERing.

    This would have been timelier two weeks ago when the world SAW IN the new PONTIFF.

    Shout-out to KIM, PAM, and EVE.


    quilter1 9:45 AM  

    Good, quick and easy. Surprised by all the SWISS GUARD comments. Good job, Ian.
    I listened to the podcast and @Rex was talking about really old puzzles being nearly unsolvable because the general knowledge changes over time I agreed wholeheartedly because I just bought a NYT puzzle book for a road trip starting tomorrow. It leads off with the very first NYT crossword, dated 1942 and the first few puzzles are of that year. They are chronologically arranged up to modern times. Boy, those oldies are hard, and unashamedly wartime themed. Lots of military references and theater of war geography. Brain busters, but fun.
    OK, see y'all in a few days. Happy solving.

    retired_chemist 9:48 AM  

    Hidden message in this puzzle? There apparently is a MAN CAVE at the top of the VATICAN, and it has an EROTICA DATA SET. You be the judge.....

    Tales of the Vatican 9:52 AM  

    Pope Francis, after completing Easter mass finally had a chance to settle into his new home. On one level he's the Bishop of Rome, but at a more fundamental level he's just a guy with a new job in a new city in a new country, still living out of a suitcase, getting new clothes as he needs them. It's a very disorienting state to be in, even without the new responsibilities. Once the big mass was over, he just crashed for a couple of hours, getting his first deep sleep in weeks.

    Unfortunately, this made him unable to sleep Sunday night, so he just took a stroll around the Vatican around 2AM, something he hadn't been able to do to date. After two hours of marveling at the glory of the architecture in the full moon, he stumbled across a mess hall and stopped in for something to eat. He took his plate and went to sit down with the only other person in the dining room. With the innate graciousness of a gentleman he introduced himself and asked if he could join the old man sitting there.

    Francis: I'm Francis, do you mind if I join you, or are you here for some peace and quiet.

    Old Priest: No father, please sit.

    After a while, Francis realized the old man was Benedict. It took quite a while, because all old men, stripped of their trappings, look alike. Hell, all old people, regardless of sex, look alike after a certain point.

    Francis: I'm sorry Father; I didn't recognize you at first. Seeing you all these years that's unforgivable, again you have my apology.

    Benedict: That's the first lesson. That's what the trappings are for, that it's the office, not the person. The problem is you forget that as the years go on, you come to believe that you're the trappings, the office. It's a natural tendency, one I fell into for quite a while, too long. It's part of why I had to quit, I couldn't find the priest under the trappings f the Pope. Fight it as long and as hard as you can my son.

    Francis: I'll try to keep that in my heart.

    Benedict: I left you kind of a mess, it's the least I can do.

    Francis: Yes, there is a mess. You really had to pick a fight with nuns? Nuns who feed the poor, tend to orphans?

    Benedict: That didn't come out well, did it? Each of us get lost in being the teachers of the faith, of the church, and attach too much importance on that. We think each of us should be active teachers. We forget about the exemplars of the faith, and insist that they become teachers too, and that by becoming teachers they fail at being exemplars. You're doing well by that so far- don't ever forget it.

    Francis: And the other scandal?

    Benedict: That one's complicated. First, if I were you, I would go on the attack about the whole gay aspect. What difference does it make that the priests were gay; did they even look at priests who had heterosexual relations? No! What these priests did was break their vows of celibacy, have sex outside of marriage. Attach the press for focusing on the gay aspect, point out their bigotry.

    Francis: But when there were children..

    Benedict: Absolutely. We believe in the curative power of prayer, and sometimes think that transcends civil law. It's a mistake we always make, but as always, the Bible has the answer - Render unto Caesar... We can help sinners with their souls, but we have to, repeat have to, be mindful of Caesar's legitimate claim. We're not in the crime business; we're in the salvation business. Let Caesar handle criminals.

    Francis: Thank you so much, I hope we can talk some more, but I've really got to get some sleep. There's just one more thing .. No, forget it.

    Benedict: What my son?

    Francis: No, really, I think I should just leave.

    Benedict: If there's something you need to know, just ask.

    Francis: No, it's not important, it can wait for another time.

    Benedict, thinking for a moment.

    Benedict: The Medici collection is in the library, mis-labeled as Tales of the EOCENE.

    Francis: Thanks.

    Thoracic 9:53 AM  

    Much easier than yesterday. I was in Rome in October and went to a papal audience, just because I could. No real interest in religion but figured it was a once in a lifetime kind of thing. Thus, I have been paying more attention to papal matters or I may have struggled more with the theme.
    I do have an issue with LIPO. This is not a weight loss procedure, but a cosmetic or body sculpting procedure. The actual weight loss is pretty negligible. Poor clue.

    mac 10:02 AM  

    Solid and easy Tuesday puzzle, I enjoyed it. Got caught by Math/text, and nobody told me I had a mistake because I do it in the paper.

    One write-over: crop for craw.

    @dk: sounds like an exciting job!

    joho 10:03 AM  

    I guess it's just me, but this puzzle just didn't seem as deftly done ... light and bubbly like Ian's usual fare. Probably the subject matter. Also LIPOS got me started off with a less than appetizing visual.

    However, I definitely appreciated the inclusion of EROTICA, SEXT, SHAKIRA as they really REVVED it a up a bit.

    jerry k 10:11 AM  

    Never heard of stick in one's craw, which held up that end for a while, until the other keyboard lit the light. Easy theme and an overall enjoyable puzzle.

    Two Ponies 10:23 AM  

    Good puzzle considering the tough constraints involved.
    At 57A I had in place Swiss __ard.
    Filled in chard before I read the clue. The Pope is protected by vegetables?! Oh, guard. Ha!

    Matthew G. 10:25 AM  

    Significantly easier than Monday's puzzle, and a Tuesday record for me. The combined easiness and density of the theme made it a breeze to just do all the theme entries first and then fill everything else in around them.

    Horace Fawley 10:33 AM  

    I enjoyed the contradictions. Since others have included links, I will do so too.
    Here is a link to today's entry on my nascent crossword blog. If you're like me, you like reading all the opinions you can get each morning. If not, please to ignore.

    - Horace

    Eric 10:35 AM  

    Cute story, @Tales. Though, the punchline went a little above my heathenous head.

    Sfingi 10:44 AM  

    Very nice.

    I'm confused about one thing. I noticed SEXT was not referenced to the theme. Before seeing the clue, I thought it was the Sixth Hour (noon). So, this other meaning, does it just mean Sex Texting? I'm old (but not dead).

    Fifirouge 10:59 AM  

    Great puzzle today. Like others, as soon as I saw the clue for POPEFRANCIS, the theme answers fell quickly and the rest of the puzzle was a breeze. Except...

    For some reason I put "Suiss" in for SWISSGUARD. In the back of my head I knew it needed to be "suisse", but just figured the guard was special. I also had no idea who Mikhail TAL was, so I spent minutes staring at THEU_VE before I figured it out, for some reason thinking it had to do with baseball (from sitting in the dugout to standing on the field/at base? Or something...)

    I hit submit and got rejected - I eventually found I had an "n" instead of an "m" in EMPOWER/MHO. I dunno. Nho looked reasonable, and I work with a group called NPower so "enpower" seemed like a perfectly cromulent word.

    Melodious funk 11:00 AM  

    Please allow me to make a comment about including hyperlinks in posts ré LMS's direction. I agree that it's certainly neater and a bit more techno-savvy. However, if a site's URL is not shown there's no way to know what it is. Even if one knows the sender. I'm always wary.

    My preferred way is to include both the original copied URL along with a shortened one (using tinyURL or similar) in case the original line-wraps. This way it's all out in the open. For what it's worth. Of course there's no way to know if the shortened one is the same. Less likely but there's always a chance...

    And the advice may be worth what you're paying.

    Horace Fawley 11:09 AM  

    @ Melodious funk

    Fair enough. Paste away.


    Yours in the spirit of Glasnost,
    Horace Fawley

    Miette 11:11 AM  

    Much easier than Monday: 12:54

    Miette 11:13 AM  

    Once I got VATICAN, the rest of the theme was easy.

    Tech Savvy 11:20 AM  

    @Melodious Funk: Or, you could just place your cursor over the hyperlink then look at the bottom of your browser where you'll see the exact url the hyperlink is pointing to.

    Monica 11:27 AM  

    Loved this, especially the saucy crossings of SEXT / BENEDICTXVI and EROTICA / POPEFRANCIS. A fun little puzzle!

    Melodious funk 11:36 AM  

    Mr. Frawley. Thanks! Love the Glasnost.


    Mr. Tech Savvy. Unfortunately, this hovering doesn't seem to work using an iPad. At least not with the iPad 2. Ain't life a b***ch?

    Horace Fawley 11:38 AM  

    @Tech Savvy -

    The status bar is not always shown (I use Safari, and must activate it as a View option), and rarely shown, I think, in a comments window.

    Horace Fawley 11:54 AM  

    @Melodius funk -

    At the risk of hijacking Rex's comments entirely, is it any better to assign a tiny url (at a savings of a mere five characters) than it is to have a hidden link? Couldn't that, too, just point to any old site?

    But thanks anyway, for the double-linking. I have fun writing a little something about the puzzles each day, and my times will certainly make many of Rex's readers feel a little better about themselves. If speed is important, that is.

    - Horace

    Melodious funk 12:06 PM  

    Mr. Frawley.

    Ah yes indeed, in your case, point taken. Try this:


    Or this:


    As mentioned, no guarantee about the shortened link though.

    Too much time on my retired hands.

    Carola 12:54 PM  

    Nicely done theme, liked the way the across entries balanced each other. And the witty sprinkling of some subversive crossword SEXTing. But I felt like one of yesterday's dunderheads, as my mind was blank about what person this could be until I got all the way to the VATICAN.

    I'm reading Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve at the moment, and he, too, documents that the VATICAN and EROTICA weren't strangers to each other in Renaissance times..

    @retired chemist - I also loved the suggestion that the PONTIFF lives in a MAN CAVE!

    Ellen S 1:45 PM  

    Forgot to say, I found the podcast link yesterday when I went back and refreshed the BFF's post and saw Rex's. Enjoyed it a lot --Thanks for sharing, Rex.

    @Two Ponies -- LOL about the Swiss Chard. People who hate spinach might find it sufficiently scary.

    @Eric -- Start at the top, many references to the notoriously uncelibate behavior of the men of the Medici family, four of whom became popes. I'd give you links to read about it but can't find any. Only that one of Lorenzo d'Medici's daughters (Lorenzo wasn't a cleric) married an illegitimate son of Pope Innocent VIII (a Random Roman Numeral who wasn't a Medici; they all did it).

    @Sfingi, yes. It's just a slang word for sending sexually inappropriate text messages.

    @Fifirouge - thank you for "cromulent." Hadn't heard it before. Looked it up and found a companion piece: "craptacular." That's a keeper!

    @Melodious Funk, @Tech Savvy, @Horace Fawley (enjoyed your blog, btw), another consideration is that not all people know how to copy and paste. I have spent years (calendar time, and it feels like time-at-the-task) trying to teach my technophobe friends how to do tthat. It's not an age thing and I'm not that bad a teacher. Many people just have a hard time with the concept. Plus, if they're on their computers (they can't figure out tablets) their browsers are so clogged up with add-on toolbars that they can't identify the address bar, so wouldn't have any idea where to paste. I am not exaggerating. For those poor souls, a hyperlink is the only way that will work. Melodious, you are right about the dangers, and hovering doesn't always work. For this blog, maybe the best approach is NOT to click on any links from "anonymous" that just say, "For a good time cick here.

    evil doug 1:54 PM  

    Fascinating discussion on "Tech Talk" today....


    Melodious funk 2:54 PM  

    Ms. Ellen S.

    I'm a recent denizen here, long time lurker though. Not because RP holds much interest, rather because the posting community seems sweet enough - a rarity these days.

    Ré your comments, I have an 87-yo cousin who never could receive or open any images or URLs I sent him. In some exasperation I called him and tried to talk him through an AOL mailer screen which I had never seen. He understood the C/P routine but it ended there. We were both frustrated, I never should have called.

    And full disclosure, I have not yet figured out how to deal with g+ so I can log in here with less anonymity. DON'T TELL ME! I wanna figger it out myself, maybe I'll have my cousin call me.

    Just to unmask, I'm a 75-yo codger rapidly approaching coothood, in NY about 25 miles north of the City on the Hudson, been diddling with computers for about 25 years so I should be able to do this.

    Been doing XWs since childhood and most fall easily enough. When they don't I wait till the morrow and usually I'm struck by lightening. When not, I don't say.

    Melodious funk 3:05 PM  

    Apropos today's theme, last week when I saw the NYT picture of Biden walking into the Vatican with his arms spread wide and a smile on his face, I though, Oh! Biden's at the Vatican! What could possibly go wrong? And then the wonderful Tom Lehrer line, "Sing Ave Maria, gee it's good ta see ya', doin' the Vatican Rag"

    Doin the Vatican
    Goin' ecstatic, and
    bein' dramatic,
    And doing the Vatican Raaaaaag!

    I won't post a link, but YouTube has the entire performance which is worth a few moments if you haven't heard or seen it. He was a national lyrical treasure.

    Jeffrey Johnson 3:20 PM  

    Maybe I was the only one, but I was completely flummoxed by the cross of peter NERO and SHAKIRA, never having heard of either.

    I tried Shakita, Shakila, Shakiba, Shakima, Shakina, Shakida, and finally I got bored with random guesses and googled (cheated). Nobody should be expected to know this kind of junk.

    Pop culture crosses are evil. :)

    pmdm 3:26 PM  

    Anoa Bob: To be 100% accurate, Vatican City is not located in Italy; it is a Sovereign State located within or more accurately surrounded by Italy. The Swiss Guard began protecting the popes well before Italy was a unified country. Considering the scope of this blog, it would be too lengthly to go into full detail. But rest assured that, like any other land-locked country, it has its own post office, military/police, financial institution (much in the news recently) and so on.

    retired_chemist 4:05 PM  

    @ melodious funk et al.:

    another way is to open the page source and search on the string you see. The url will be in quotes immediately before the close (right pointing) thingy. Which I probably can't type in since blogger will accuse me of using improper http syntax. If this ends with a right thingy, it DOES work.

    retired_chemist 4:06 PM  

    The right pointing thingy DID show. So there! > >

    Summly 4:50 PM  

    In case you're wondering why I'm worth $30Million, let me show you what I can do with a major tome, i.e. @Tales of the Vatican's story:

    Two popes walk into a bar, order a couple of beers, sit and talk. They talk of pontifical things, the retired pope trying to impart wisdom to the new pope. The new pope listens, but when it's all over says "what I really wanted to know is where you keep the porn"

    GILL I. 5:00 PM  

    I guess I'm still the biggest BOOB alive since everything that has been explained on how to embed fails me.
    @retired_chem - my favorite go to word is THINGY.
    @Melodious Funk...Aren't you the one that directed us to Suni Williams?
    Sounds like we have a bunch of newbies. So, COME NOW and get yerselves an avatar and WELCOME... ;-)

    sanfranman59 5:01 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 7:24, 8:19, 0.89, 16%, Easy

    Top 100 solvers

    Tue 4:26, 4:52, 0.91, 14%, Easy

    Melodious funk 5:01 PM  

    One thing I noted about posting from an iPad was that the usual formalisms for indicating a grin, the "less than/greater than" carats, <> are not recognized on this blog, it will be eliminated as an unknownc tag.

    Best way maybe is to use brackets, [g]. I think.

    Melodious funk 5:10 PM  

    Señora Gill IP,

    I dunno how to get that blogger ID thingie you have created but I have a placed a few pertinent details somewhere above in the morass.

    Please give me a link (hah!) about where to create such a thingie and I will do it.

    BTW, I have every Saramago book and I dunno why. His personal failings almost gave it up, but I stayed with it.

    retired_chemist 5:11 PM  

    @ Gill I.P. - use this as a template:

    [a href = "the complete url here"]the text you want for the link[/a]

    and replace [ with the left pointing thingy, ] with the right pointing thingy, the complete url here with what you want the link to be, and the text you want for the link with what you want to be seen by the reader.

    I can't use the real thingies because as @mf says Blogger will think I am trying to make a real link and it will not show up as I want.

    Does this help?

    retired_chemist 5:14 PM  

    Also @ Gill I.P. - take that template, cut and paste it into your word processor, make the thingy changes, and save it. Then copy and paste it into the blog and edit the url and the text as you need.

    Melodious fink 5:22 PM  

    WAIT a MINute! (Think Jerry Seifeld)

    Mr. Retired Chemist calls me mf?

    I think I love it!

    Two Ponies 5:22 PM  

    Wasn't there a puzzle today?
    This tech stuff is making my eyes glaze over.
    I don't mean to be rude.

    Melodious funk or fink 5:32 PM  

    Mr. Two Ponies

    The puzzle seems to have been eviscerated early on, leaving nothing for late-comers like me to add.

    Sorry for the jacked info, but there's nothing left for us to chat about. It may be an interruption but it does add context to the posters, if that's of interest. It is to me.

    chefbea 5:52 PM  

    We can certainly chat about the wonderful things you use your pam spray for instead of WD40

    ZenMonkey 6:01 PM  

    Kind of a bore. Doesn't help that there are few people on earth I loathe more than the Pope (any of em) and his minions. The one thing that made me smile was THEWAVE and its clever cluing.

    Melodious funk 6:07 PM  

    Ms. Chef. Arthritis.

    Mr. zenmonkey. Don't miss Tom Lehrer's riff on the Vatican.


    Could make you smile.

    jae 6:21 PM  

    @chefbea -- Thanks for the tip.

    @Ellen S -- Are there "sexually appropriate" text messages?

    jae 6:27 PM  

    Oh, and @Summly -- Worth every penny of it!

    Unknown 6:40 PM  

    Nice timely puzzle. Some zippy fill to make up for the straightforward theme. No non-theme answers over 7 letters, but lots of good solid mid-length stuff COME NOW, SHAKIRA, THE WAVE, EROTICA...

    Much easier than yesterday's. Didn't even slow down once and still not even close to Rex's time. Guess Rex isn't a stop and smell the roses kind of guy. Well maybe he runs past the roses the first time, then goes back to check them out.

    Was hoping this wouldn't turn into a Pope-bashing session today and the classy folks here did not disappoint (with a few minor exceptions).

    Unknown 6:43 PM  

    PS - Then Rex goes home and blogs about how fast he ran past them the first time and all the blemishes on the petals he noticed upon his return. ;-)

    GILL I. 6:54 PM  

    @retired_chem. Tomorrow, I swear, I'm going to try my thingy....
    @Melodious F. Just go to Google and type "open up a blog." Follow the bouncing ball and - voila!

    Anonymous 6:56 PM  

    Since when is MHO an old unit? Odd perhaps, but not old. It has to be younger than OHM, after all.

    ZenMonkey 7:11 PM  

    Rob, I do so apologize that presenting my opinion is unclassy. Heaven forfend a person be so, and pardon the uncouthness of this next unavoidable word, *exposed* to thoughts and feelings that do not mesh perfectly with one's own! Why, it could cause an inharmonious admixture of the bodily humors leading to an attack of the vapors! Next time I shall surely restrain myself to comments upon the shocking new cross-stitch patterns or one's views upon the ethical dilemmas of the Bard's Hamlet.

    Melofunk, Tim Minchin is my chosen muse on this subject. (YouTube search "pope song cartoon" if you haven't heard it and your heart is not prone to arrythmias upon the encountering of that which is unsacred.) Incidentally, I be a Mrs. And now feel obliged to confess my husband and I cohabited before marriage! So very unclassy.

    retired_chemist 7:39 PM  

    @ anon 6:56 -

    The MHO is usually called the Siemens now. So it's old.

    retired_chemist 7:42 PM  

    @ Gill I. P. - you got swear in boldface so you must be starting to dig this tagging business.

    Unknown 7:50 PM  

    I don't begrudge you your opinion or lifestyle. I commented on the choice to use this blog as a means to air it. Most posters here refrain from that type of in your face comment out of courtesy for each other. We typically don't use this blog to debate political, religious, or other inflammatory issues. Leave that to the CNN and FOX sites and others. Check out what those comments degenerate into. We avoid that here.

    mitchs 8:06 PM  

    There is a three and out rule here. What that means is that you post three comments per day at a maximum. Then you quit. And don't comment anymore.

    Z 8:13 PM  

    What @mitchs said.

    Melodious funk 8:15 PM  

    Mrs Zenmonkey,

    Minchin had a major profile in last week's New Yorker, of which i'm certain you know. Strange man indeed, wonderfully warped sense of humor.

    And thank you Señora Gill. I will follow your suggestion.

    JFe 8:18 PM  


    It's never wise to post comments after too many cocktails.

    Tita 9:06 PM  

    Waaaaay too late here.
    All I can say is, thanks @webwinger for your bio the other day.

    @two ponies - you & your SWISSchARD are hereby inducted into the Hall of Fame!

    Thanks Ian. I would love to know the behind-the-scenes as to why this particular event warranted, and got, a real-time tribute puzz!

    sanfranman59 10:03 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 7:02, 6:12, 1.14, 92%, Challenging
    Tue 7:22, 8:19, 0.89, 16%, Easy

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 4:22, 3:42, 1.18, 96%, Challenging (8th highest ratio of 172 Mondays)
    Tue 4:21, 4:52, 0.89, 13%, Easy

    RichardeFisher 4:15 AM  

    Its Something difficult to understand for what point you want to share with us.but this puzzle might be better than others because it have with time.

    Anonymous 9:14 AM  

    The current pope lives in a hotel. Is it in Vatican City or Rome?

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    Spacecraft 11:19 AM  

    Many see this as easier than yesterday; not me. I put 'em both at just to the medium side of easy. Did not click to the 3/13 date right away, nor to the term "official." PONTIFF, Prelate, Priest...but "official?" Well, OK, but that's not what comes to MY mind for the Pope. Of course, once I had a few letters in place, it was "Oh yeah, right."

    I was surprised at the number of bloggers who stumbled over SWISSGUARD. I thought everyone and his brother read the Dan Brown books, which leave no doubt as to who guards His Holiness. And yes, they certainly can "kick butt." They could probably kick a Navy Seal's.

    French tire? Who PNEU?

    I liked this one. "It caught on in a flash."

    Waxy in Montreal 4:12 PM  

    Recommended updates for the papacy -
    1) Sign that 63-A was elected: THEWAVE.
    2) Current home of 63-A: MANCAVE.

    Au courant, fun puzzle, almost snatched from the headlines of the day five weeks ago. Interestingly, as of last week, BENEDICTXVI also makes the VATICAN his current home. Anf if there's any friction between the two PONTIFFs, we may be in for even more WHITESMOKE...

    Solving in Seattle 4:45 PM  

    Apt crossing of KIM/ZIT, as in on the face of the world.

    @Waxy, you could add to your recommended updates...
    67A: Continuing message from 63A, World ______.
    68A: Color worn by 63A in his prior job.
    66A: Famous institution associated with 45D, ______ Dame.

    Waxy in Montreal 5:11 PM  

    @Solving, ISECOND your suggestions.

    Solving in Seattle 5:22 PM  

    @Waxy, just trying to BOLSTER your idea.

    captcha: igngiu - a dyslexic iguana?

    Ginger 5:30 PM  

    It seems that many of the commenters took issue with the religious nature of todays theme. Hey folks, it's a crossword puzzle, for heavens sake! The theme has certainly been in the news of late. I'm not Catholic, or particularly religious, but, it's topical and current, with some interesting words. I choose not to overthink it, or to take it so seriously. It is what it is.

    MHO was new to me, but easily inferable.

    Dirigonzo 6:52 PM  

    I wanted MANCAVE in a puzzle a few days ago and it appears today - @ACME calls that synchronicity, @Evan would like to relabel it psychopop. Since I sometimes refer to "syndication synchronicity" (I may even have written a blog post about it) I'm with ACME - although "syndication psychopop" does have the same alliterative appeal.

    @Ginger - as you say, the Pope is Catholic and a bear S#%&s in the woods. I can't imagine why anyone would take offense at either fact.

    Oh, the puzzle - easier than yesterday for me because the theme answers have been in the news recently enough to be easily remembered.

    Dirigonzo 7:00 PM  

    @Spacecraft - I almost missed your reference: "They played the mash, it caught on in a flash,
    They played the mash, they played the monster mash". Very cool.

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