Verso's flip side / THU 5-9-13 / Northern duck / Fats Domino's first name / Island in the Thames / Children's author who won three Edgars / Solder and others / Confucian scholar Chu ___

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Constructor: Patrick Merrell

Relative difficulty: Medium. Ish. Kinda.

THEME: Happy Mother's Day! Again!

Good morning, everyone. How y'all been? Seems like I haven't been here in a while but I guess it's been less than a month. Lucky you. Lucky me! Rex had some life stuff to take care of tonight and asked me to fill in and I'm always happy to do it. Well almost always. Actually, sometimes I say no and sometimes I say yes even though I don't want to. So, yeah. Not so much with the "always happy to do it."But before we get started I want to tell you that I'm trying a new kind of ice cream tonight. I think it's called Salted Pretzel Caramel. Salted Caramel Pretzel? Something like that. And it's pretty good. But enough about me -- let's see what I think of the puzzle!

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Interstitially, say (BETWEEN THE LINES)
  • 28A: Wearer of a red-starred tiara (WONDER WOMAN)
  • 47A: Marquee Actress (LEADING LADY)
  • 58A: May delivery (HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY)
  • Unchecked squares across the middle of the grid: HI MOM
I enjoyed the unchecked letters part of the theme the most. I got the H first, then the I, so it was pretty easy to figure out the rest. I will say that I'm kinda hoping we're done with Mother's Day themes for this year, though I imagine we'll see one again on Sunday. More than one seems a little excessive to me. Just my opinion. I was tripped up a little right at the beginning because I plopped AJAR in without even thinking (1A: Allowing some ventilation, say), but then looked at 14A: Teen woe and assumed the answer would be ACNE. I guess I didn't realize MONO was most common in teens. I had something very MONO-like when I was about hmmm, plus six, carry the one ... I guess 27 or 28? But I was really immature so maybe that made me more susceptible. Anyway, I erased AJAR but (obviously) ended up putting it back in later. The only other false start I had was at 34A: '40s blowups, where I filled in BOMBS right away thinking I would wait to see if the first letter was an A or an N. It turned out to be N-TESTS. I briefly wondered if VOICE COACH (15A: Singer or actor's helper) was part of the theme, but its symmetrical entry is IT'S USELESS (63A: "Why bother?!"), which doesn't seem particularly Mother's Day-ish, so I guess not.

Highlights in the grid for me include JOE COOL (2D: Cartoon character with shades) and MACADAM (43D: Driving surface). I wasn't crazy about the three-letter entries around the edge of the grid, especially AHS (13D: Sounds at a fireworks display), but I didn't really dwell on them because I was distracted by those unchecked letters. They just look weird, right? My eye kept being drawn toward them and my brain was working like crazy trying to figure out what they might mean.

  • 31A: Bitter herb (RUE) — I'm sure I knew this at one time, but needed all the crosses for it today.
  • 32A: One in the doghouse? (FLEA) — Odd clue, right?
  • 50A: Twofold (BINAL) — Ugh. I'm sure it's a perfectly real and legitimate word, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. And putting it right next to RECTO (52A:Verso's flip side) makes it seem a little ... dirty.
  • 64A: Title parent in a TLC reality series (KATE) — I'm embarrassed that this was a gimme for me. PuzzleDaughter watches a lot of reality shows. The other day I was looking at a Sporcle quiz about names that begin with J and I tried to make a list of all the Duggars kids. Thankfully, I didn't get very far so I didn't have to kill myself.
  • 1D: Government rep. (AMB.) — I wanted this to be AGT. But it wasn't.
  • 3D: Fats Domino's first name (ANTOINE) — This is another one where I knew I'd seen it before but couldn't come up with it without a few crosses in place. Now ANTOINE is not a real flashy name or anything, but I'm thinking it's still better than FATS.
  • 16D: Lawyer's need (CLIENT) — Lawyers have their little joke "This job would be great if it weren't for the clients!" Of course everybody else has better jokes. About them. (My personal favorite: What's the difference between a lawyer and an accountant? The accountant knows he's boring.)
  • 18D: Literary character who says "Gentle reader, may you never feel what I then felt!" (EYRE) — Boring entry, but I like this clue. Adds a little drama to the whole thing.
  • 35D: Title boy in a 1964 Disney film (EMIL) — Okay, before I look this up, I'm going to test my memory. The name of the film is "EMIL and the ... Something" Some type of animal? But it's plural, right? "EMIL and the Bears?" No no no, not an animal. "EMIL and the Detectives"? Let's see if I'm right. Ding! Ding! Ding! Tell her what she's won, Johnny.
  • 37D: Certain monarchy (EMIRATE) — Monarchy? More like Emirate! AMIRITE?
  • 58D: In (HIP) — So wanted it to be HEP.
  • 60D: Confucian scholar Chu ___ (HSI) — Whatever you say.
Thanks for hanging out with me today. With any luck, Rex will be back tomorrow.

Love, PuzzleGirl


jackj 12:14 AM  

Hmmm, dueling HAPPYMOTHERSDAY themes, but rather than present a competing “younger” version to Bruce Venzke’s “older” version, Patrick Merrell treats us to HIP rather than HEP; SMEW as counterpoint to ELIA and a host of words Maleskans will swoon over, from AHS to OBI and what we seem to have is a constructor’s game of “I can play older than you can”, (“No, you can’t”), (“Yes, I can”), “you say MOTO”, “I say MONO”…..etc, etc, etc..

There’s not a rapper to be found in Patrick’s homage to MOM (HI, MOM!) and the closest HIP character is JOECOOL, but he’s a Schulz creation, cartoonist of choice to an older crowd and no Gary Larson or R. Crumb can be found anywhere. (TSKS to you, Mr. M.).

Then, while Bruce gave us a DOGFACE with PAPERTOWELS to wipe up any SEEPS, Patrick gives us a Nina RICCI designed COMMODE with its own GOER who crows LCHAIM in thanks for having such a foofoo convenience.

And, where Patrick gives us TESLAS, WONDERWOMAN, one RAMONE and ANTOINE Domino, Bruce gave us Ted KOPPEL, EDIE Falco, HAROLD Lloyd and the no-goodnik Harry Potter bad guy, DRACO Malfoy.

I’d call those human menageries and idiosyncratic wonderments a draw in this wordy’s game of playing old, older and oldest and while one gets ALLRILEDUP, the other says ITSUSELESS and the generational hoo-hah Will put forth boils down to a simple choice, “Diagonal or Across”?

Now let’s look forward to a Liz Gorski bit of graphic enchantment honoring MOM on Sunday and all will then be well in Times land, sayeth Will.

Elle54 12:20 AM  

As a Mom, I loved it!

retired_chemist 12:24 AM  

A good puzzle. Kept looking for a rebus but it of course never appeared. The unchecked squares were a nice touch.

Hand up for ACNE @ 14A, which I disliked almost immediately because I had AIRY for 1A. CAREENS @ 11D, TEAL for SMEW, ERS (a bitter vetch, to Maleskans) for 31A, and PEKE (or some other 4 letter dog) @ 32A. Liked FLEA once it appeared.

So, slower than necessary, but a clean grid witn minimal croswordese, meaning I can see myself using most of the answers in real life.

Thanks, Mr. Merrell.

retired_chemist 12:26 AM  

Oh. meant to say - BINAL - WTF? a person with two RECTOS?

Anonymous 12:27 AM  

" I'm kinda hoping we're done with Mother's Day themes for this year" - You got that right. Mine was a sexually inappropriate, violent alcoholic. So yeah, HI MOM. Hope hell's all it's cracked up to be.

optionsgeek 12:29 AM  

Brain stuck on why TEX is a neighbor of TAB. Any help?

retired_chemist 12:31 AM  

@ options geek- TEX. is a neighbor of 55D N.MEX.

jae 12:37 AM  

Easy-medium for me and a whole lot more fun than yesterday's.  Pretty zippy with HIP instead of HEP plus RAMONE, L CHAIM, CUZ, JOE COOL, KATE...  Loved the center message which was helpful because the Disney film is a tad obscure.  

After starting out with and correcting SLIT/ SEN my only erasure was CaboOse for COMMODE.

Cute and clever.  Made me smile!

optionsgeek 12:39 AM  

Ok, there's a bug in the iPad software, I guess. Somehow the unnumbered squares must have thrown off the count and it was highlighting TAB as the related clue when it should have highlighted NMEX. I should have realized that TAB isn't 55D. No wonder I had so much trouble with this.

Anonymous 12:49 AM  

@ options geek. I agree. On Magmic anyway, the clue for TEX IS neighbor of 55D. TAB is highlighted, but there actually is no 55D. 55A is BINAL whereas NMEX is 60D.

JFC 12:54 AM  

I find it interesting that a crossword puzzle person would make a joke about a person from another endeavor being boring. Now that is LOL funny....


Too old to care 1:53 AM  

WTF? 21D = SWF (personal letters) 27D = NES (super __.. Am I too Maleskan to get these? Thank goodness for the crosses.

Unknown 2:15 AM  

@Too old: SWF = "single white female", an abbreviation used in personal ads. There was even a movie but I haven't seen it and don't much care to.

The Super NES was a video game console from my youth. I agree that this is a somewhat specialized answer, although my parents surely remember making me be the custodian of my school in fifth grade for six months to save up for one.

I was also confused by TEX/TAB but hit submit anyway. Thought this was easy for a Thursday, but also really enjoyed solving it. BINAL/RECTO are annoying to be sure. However, between the well-executed theme and the 7-letter downs and the 10-letter non-theme acrosses, I hardly noticed.

I was glad TESLAS was not clued as "[something cluing Nikola Tesla] and others/family", although if it were singular I think I would prefer the older clue.

Showcasing a commode in the center of the grid (and in the unchecked theme run) is awesome, as far as I'm concerned.

As an aside and a continuation of yesterday's lively discussion: I've been lucky enough to sell at least three friends on becoming regular crossword solvers in the last couple weeks. It has been a result of showing them both good and bad puzzles, clues, themes, and fill. One of the great attractions of this kind of puzzle is that it can be bad. I again invoke the Mighty Word Search, which even when done exceptionally well (I've been a Games Magazine subscriber since childhood and seen some good ones) doesn't have the potential to excite that the crossword does. But the ability to be excellent can only exist alongside the ability to be terrible. Nobody ever wrote a blog chronicling Tic Tac Toe matches.

chefwen 2:46 AM  

Refusing to give up acne for far too long gave me fits and starts in the NW. Had MONO in my twenties and didn't figure that to be a teen problem. The N worked with ANTOINE, but that was about it. Ended up pulling that whole corner out and reworking it. That took me longer than the rest of the puzzle. Loved the H I M O M. Wish I could still say it to mine.

Avatar did get me a beautiful Orchid in advance of Mom's Day. Thanks Skipper.

Adulate Canters Macadams 3:40 AM  

Yep, ACNE here too, and not just because it's so close to ACmE! MONO was sort of a sophomore college thing, so I'd say 20ish more than teens.
See,s on purpose, so then iCE COOL seems like a cartoon character I'd not hear of.

HIP, HeP...I had Hot, I blame Paris Hilton's reappearance on Letterman the other night with her 20 yr old Spanish model boyfriend. She asked a la her signature bored deb drawl, "Isn't he hot?" The aging cougar in me had to nod.

Don't know what MACADAM is and COMMODE is kinda icky crossing with MOM.

I feel sheepish asking, but are WONDERWOMAN /LEADINGLADY referring to Mothers?

I guess they must be. Impressive grid...
Love that XAXIS on the bottom.

(Actually not sure why I'm writing that as mine has never solved a crossword nor knows what a blog is...but after reading anon 12:27am comment, and @chefwen's poignant one, I'm counting my blessings.)

So I'll say Hi to Puzzle Girl's MOM who undoubtedly is kvelling somewhere.

Danp 7:06 AM  

Why do they bury crossword constructors 12 feet under? Because deep down they're really nice people. OK, that's actually a lawyer joke, but this puzzle was mean to me.

Milford 7:15 AM  

Medium Thursday, but I DNFed due to the personal natick at MACADAM/SMEW. I knew neither word, and I guess SMEW hasn't become crosswordese for me (yet).

I don't mind another moms day puzzle, and the center message was cute, reminding me of those signs held up at games in the endzone seats.

JOE COOL, SYNAPSE and COMMODE I loved. I know AREOLA is a general biology term, but it's only going to make me think of one thing.

Funny that one of reality TV's most notorious mothers, KATE Gosselin, is in the Mother's Day puzzle. Good one!

Thanks, @Puzzle Girl - loved your write-up!

MetaRex 7:21 AM  

Was thinking before I solved that I might sail through a puzz by Pat M., who's my high school classmate and a fave constructor of mine. The reverse turned out to be true...wasn't ready for Mother's Day two days in a row. The sad solving story and reactions to the construction are at Hi again, Mom!

John V 7:37 AM  

Running, but, just to say, fun. HOWEVER: NES|RUE is a Natick if ever there was one, especially up against the side.

Fun use of the unchecked squares. Boy, Big Gene would not have countenanced THAT! Fun mix of old, new, rule busting. Neat twist for a Thursday!

Nancy 7:55 AM  

Count me in with the ACNE and TEAL crowd. Not wanting to get rid of those made those two corners slow.

I liked the HI MOM as well, as she was the one who got me into crossword puzzles. She'd leave them out on the kitchen counter and fill in squares periodically throughout the day. We were highly encouraged to help!

On a side note, I just tried Salted Caramel Pretzel ice cream this week, too! Very yummy!

dk 7:56 AM  

Anon at 12:27. Was a part of a pickup blues band a decade or so ago. The band name was Bitter and our running (cantering) theme was: Table for one tour - just sayin.

Puzzlegirl you must be Rex's strong right arm. Great write-up even under the influence of salted carmel pretzel. Both Tobias and I know that is secret code for…..

The puzzle. I like the grid.

💊💊 (2 mother's little helpers) I know they usually are blue (Valium), but we drove our mom to Seconal (aka yellow jackets).

Rex Parker 7:59 AM  

"teen" / MONO thing threw me as well. About the only thing that did.

PuzzleGirl has earned much good karma from being my trusty back-up. Last night, the universe paid her with a Nats win over *my* Tigers, whereas the universe paid me with the single worst middle school chorus performance the earth has ever known (as well as some perfectly acceptable band and orchestra performances).

Thx, PG.

Paul Keller 8:09 AM  

I also found it hard to get past the misdirect from MONO to ACNE.

Mohair Sam 8:12 AM  

Fun puzzle, seemed like a relatively easy Thursday.

Only pure gimme here was EYRE which gave us a chuckle since Rex mentioned a week or two ago that he had never read the book. Wonder if Patrick and Will didn't jiggle a few things to get that in a puzzle that skews old - and really get under Rex's skin.

On the great debate on whether a puzzle skews young or old: Do the RAMONE's skew young or old? How about all those Yoko Ono clues?

joho 8:12 AM  

@ Adulate Canters Macadams, I loved that Patrick described MOM as WONDERWOMAN & LEADINGLADY. And that HI MOM! is sandwiched BETWEENTHELINES! Actually between those 2 lines.

@chefwen, me, too :( (Mother's Day always made my mom sad after her mom was gone and unfortunately I now know how she felt.)

Liked that ESS was clued, "End of a count?" instead of referring to a dangerous curve.

Fun, innovative puzzle, thank you, Patrick!

Thank you, too, PuzzleGirl, great write-up! I LOL at "I tried to make a list of all the Duggars kids. Thankfully, I didn't get very far so I didn't have to kill myself." And at "ANTOINE is not a real flashy name or anything, but I'm thinking it's still better than FATS." Funny stuff!

Carola 8:13 AM  

Fun! I love MOM as WONDERWOMAN and a LEADING LADY along with the two MOTHER"S DAY greetings. Also like "I RAISE" as in, children.

Former "American Bandstand" zealot that I was, I knew that ANTOINE was Fats Domino's real name. Nice that he's next to COOL, because he definitely was. 5A - a veiled tribute to his song "I'm Walkin'"? No, but he did have a great VOICE.

New to me: BINAL. Also - super NES - that one really made me WONDER if there was a rebus going on. Had to run the alphabet for YEW/SMEW. Briefly wondered if someone had been poisoned by some exotic Yam.

Thanks, Patrick Merrell - this was a treat.

joho 8:27 AM  

I forgot to mention @PuzzleGirl, for a minute I thought it was "EMIL and the Night Visitors."

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

At 17 I had MONO. Killed the middle of my senior year in high school, yet I too had ACNE for the longest time. I actually did have acne, too, but didn't have the impact of mono.

TESLA just scored 99 out of 100 by Consumer Reports.

Rob C 8:39 AM  

Medium/Challenging Thurs for me. Also fell for acne/MONO.

The whole BETWEEN THE LINES thing seemed odd to me. Is there any significance or meaning to HI MOM being between the lines in the unchecked squares, other that the obvious visual presentation? It almost feels like there's some play on words that I'm not getting.

@anon 12:27am = Lindsey Lohan's daughter?

retired_chemist 8:45 AM  

Wife loves salted pretzel anything. Ice cream, Jell-o, ..... Me, I don't get it. The tastes conflict.

jodi 8:58 AM  

Another great puzzle for me this mother's day week, visiting with my children and thinking of MY mom.

Hand up for acne.

Great write up puzzle girl


GILL I. 9:03 AM  

HIP/HEP hooray...As far as I'm concerned, Fri. Sat. and Sun. can all have Mother's Day themes...
I love HI MOM. Our 34 year old 6'3" big honcho Marine calls me "mommy." - not in front of the troops mind you, but I love that he says that.
This was not A WALK in the park though. Never heard of MACADAM and didn't know BINAL/RECTO which sounds like something very NOISY from the COMMODE. Kept picking away at it; saw the reveal and plopped in HAPPY MOTHERS DAY. LCHAIM, LCHAIM say I....Thanks PM for the smile.

Imfromjersey 9:05 AM  

Very frustrating solve. Not the puzzle itself but I usually solve on Across Lite on iPad. Apparently the unchecked squares caused major problems and the app kept crashing. After three crashes, I gave up and went and printed the puzzle. Big smile on my face when I saw the HI MOM. Very enjoyable puzzle Mr. Merrell.

John V 9:09 AM  

Loved the HIMOM held up mid puzzle. Fun! Also like some recent grid rule bending that make editors will entertain. Good job, Patrick, on making the unchecked words gettable.

Nancy in PA 9:13 AM  

Hand up for Acne. I had MONO freshman year in college, so I guess I was still a teenager, but that didn't help me think of it. As for RUE, my sister once bought me some for my herb garden, though, she said, "I'm not sure what you do with rue." I answered, "Take it home and regret having bought it?"

Notsofast 9:15 AM  

This seemed to me, a half-hearted effort by the brilliant P.M. There was an awful lot of tired fill. Then there's GOER. And COMMODE. Hmm.

retired_chemist 9:37 AM  

Thought P.M. was Prime Minister until just now, and didn't see what that has to do with anything because: I got up at 3:30 to take wife to the airport and didn't get back to bed. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

jberg 9:44 AM  

I think @Gill I.P.'s wish will be granted, and those who are tired of Mother's Day already will be frustrated. It seems to me that the only justification for running these themes so early before the day would be if Friday and Saturday are going to be more of the same; it would be all right to surprise us with something different Sunday, but I'm guessing that won't happen.

I only knew about EMIL and the Detectives because the guy in the dorm room next to mine was reading it in his German class; I never knew that Disney had made a movie of it the year before. But that was enough to get it from the E_ _ L - old Walt would never misspell Errol!

@ACME, MACADAM is either another word for asphalt, or a word for something very like asphalt, developed by an engineer named MacAdam. You drive on its surface, right?

RECTO is OK with me, BINAL is another story -- and I'm waiting to hear the first person who will admit to having heard of Chu HSI before.

As for RUE, I'm waiting for The Bard; Ophelia says something like "Here's RUE, that's for remembrance ..." She's talking about flowers, but herbs are plants, so that was good enough to give me the E. Good thing, I would NEVER have guessed NES. What does it mean? Game console, you say? I've heard of NEC, but not NES.

I thought ACNE of course, but didn't write it down -- only because I work across until I get a word, then work the crosses, and A WALK took me on a different path through the park. So my only writeover was the final W, as I confused SMEW with SMEe, which is either a knife or a character in Peter Pan (I confuse them, as well).

Oh yeah, @Rob C, I think BETWEEN THE LINES means either that all the letters of HI MOM are between lines of clack squares, or that it's between the lines of numbered acrosses. A stretch either way, but I'll give him that for the overall cleverness.

lawprof 9:47 AM  

Count me among the 90% who had acne first (in the grid, that is). Couldn't let it go for the longest time. Can never remember which is the duck (SMEW) and which is Captain Hook's assistant (SMEe), so a little slow in that corner, as well.

Unchecked squares are a no-no. Except when they're not.

Ultimately naticked at the RUE/NOS crossing (you and me @John V). It had to be a vowel, but I picked the wrong one. Don'cha hate it when that happens?

Rob C 9:48 AM  

@jberg - Thanks. I got that part of it. Thought there might be something more.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:55 AM  

Nice puzzle; nice write-up.

DBGeezer 10:08 AM  

One advantage of being an 84 year world traveler is that I read EMIL und die Detektive when I was a kid in Berlin in 1935.

Loren Muse Smith 10:24 AM  

I *loved* this puzzle!!!

I resisted "acne," so yay for me! My big problem was "Kris" and "asp" for KATE and YEW. Also "emperor" has the same number of letters as EMIRATE.

In my southern dialect, COMMODE feels clean and "toilet" feels dirty.

Patrick Merrell, I ADULATE you CUZ you're so gifted and also because YEW are one swell guy.

Gotta go for my session with my VOICE COACH. Right.

Two Ponies 10:39 AM  

Nice visual effect.
Thanks for sitting in PG.
@ Nancy in PA Loved your rue reply.
I sure miss my mom.

Masked and Anonymo2Us 10:43 AM  

Great ThursPuz gimmick. Always refreshing to see a puz cheat. Wanted ROWS and ACNE at the same time, figuring it was somehow part of the cheating scheme. Wrong again, M&A breath.

OK, so don't people write H I M O M on their knuckles, to sneak in an on-air greeting, sometimes? Did I just dream that? Am I asleep and dreamin, right now? Day-um. Time to spin that toy top safety device. [movie homage]

Lovely writeup, PuzGal. Pulitzer.

Intriguing comment phrase re: single worst school chorus performance in history, from @4-Oh. Snarkin it up over at the schoolhouse now, eh? Top reasons, cumulatively, for worst choral performance on earth...
1. Unchecked tenors.
2. Vocal solos were all imitations of SMEW calls.
3. Choral director was blatantly BINAL RECTO.
4. Too many Mother's Day plugs.
5. VOICE COACH audibly moaning and sobbing from backstage.
6. COMMODE prominently displayed, centerstage.
7. Nasty FLEA infestation, in the cheap seats.
8. Lyrics of each song altered to form pangram.

H A R , M U M

R. Duke 10:47 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
R. Duke 10:50 AM  

@Carola - your comment reminds me of my mother, who likes to say that "you raise animals, but you rear children". She was always a stickler for proper usage.

Fun puzzle,although I never noticed the 'hi mom'...

Rob C 10:57 AM  

@M&A -

Please add songs about eels and songs with an old, dated feel to your list.

Unknown 10:59 AM  

Easy for a Thursday. I liked it a lot, and think I would have like it even more if it were not preceded by another Mothers Day puzzle.

Some funny comments here today, folks..thanks for the chuckles!

Rex, I hope none of those middle schoolers parents are your blog readers, unless it truly was so awful that no one would deny it.

Sandy K 11:01 AM  

Can only echo @Two Ponies sentiment-
I sure do miss my Mom...

@Carola- American Bandstand fan here too. Dick Clark always said, "Here's ANTOINE Fats Domino!"

More Choral List Stuff 11:11 AM  

@Rob C: check.

9. Grand finale: "The Eelroica".
10. Only pre-1912 rap numbers were included.


jae 11:12 AM  

@jberg -- You weren't wrong about SMEE. It is also a duck.

And, NES is Nintendo Entertainment System.

And, SNEE has an N sound just like knife.

Rob C 11:21 AM  

@ More Choral List Stuff - No, I want my favorite eel song included - That's a Moray! by Dean Martin

Mommy Kate 11:27 AM  

Is his mom's name Kate? The placement of the Kate made me think it almost read "Happy Mother's Day Kate". (from another mom Kate who enjoyed this puzzle)

Choral Director's Last Silver Bullet 11:30 AM  

@Rob C: ok.

...11. Chorus refused to do special requests.
12. Restroom was A JAR.


Eric 11:33 AM  

Fun! But given yesterday's puzzle, I'm now fully expecting Mother's Day themed puzzles for the rest of the week, or, as PuzzleGirl said, at least again on Sunday. Meh, I don't mind so long as Billy Shortz keeps it fresh.

Made me smile: L'CHAIM!

Didn't make me smile: HSI

Good crossing: YEW / SMEW

Better crossing: A-LISTS / CLIENT

Best crossing: RECTO / COMMODE

I'm such a child sometimes....

Benko 12:32 PM  

I agree--we can expect a Mother's Day theme for every puzzle through Sunday's.
I also wanted Agt for AMB.

DigitalDan 12:56 PM  

NTEST is one of those terms that, as far as I know, was never actually used by anybody involved in blowing things up. The only N I remember was the proposed neutron bxxxx device, and if they built any of those didn't say anything about testing them. I do seem to remember HTESTS. Sort of like UTE for SUV, possibly used in the industry but not by the populace.

syndy 1:06 PM  

Yes for Acne and Smee!Thank lawprof for that validation.With the comin' o' the automobile tar was needed to be used to keep the speed of the tires from sucking the macadam loose-so Tarmacadam or tarmac was born.@nd year since mom passed!maybe I'll buy her a present and stick it in a drawer in her name.

ZenMonkey 2:07 PM  

Here's a perfect example of what Mr. Shortz didn't seem to get about yesterday's commentary. I'm *more* than happy to see OBI, RECTO, and SMEW when they're in a puzzle that has imaginative clues, lots of fun answers (L'CHAIM!), and is generally enjoyable to solve.

It has nothing to do with old vs. new. It has everything to do with fresh vs. tired. (For me, OBI clued as "Tokyo strip" counts as fresh, and personally I loved the FLEA hint.) As Mother's Day puzzles go, this one really beat up yesterday's. To be fair, though -- Patrick Merrell.

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

I wanted 'Dark Circles' to be 'cabals'.

Lewis 2:42 PM  

@m&a -- loved your COMMODE image

I do not like BETWEENTHELINES as part of the theme. I get that it points out the HIMOM, which is between lines, but that doesn't have to be pointed out. The HIMOM is obvious. WONDERWOMAN and LEADINGLADY fit into the mom's day theme beautifully. HAPPYMOTHERSDAY is what we say to mom, but doesn't describe mom as the previous two theme answers do. So the theme answers are:

a. description of where HIMOM is
b. two ADULATory descriptions of mom
c. two exclamations

That is, there is really no consistency in the theme answers. I thought that theme answers were supposed to be consistent, and I think they normally are.

I don't often kvetch here, but this didn't seem kosher...

Lewis 2:43 PM  

p.s. -- very enjoyable writeup, Puzzlegirl, and elucidating.

ksquare 2:51 PM  

@RobC ii:21 The lyric to Dean Martin's song start with "If an eel bites your knee when it's under the sea, THAT'S A MORAY!".

Sandy K 3:01 PM  

I totally agree with @Lewis but found it too complicated to express!

Thanks for describing the off-ness of this puzz so well!

Anoa Bob 3:03 PM  

For a theme entry, BETWEEN THE LINES seems to be the odd man out, so to speak.

Joe The Juggler 3:14 PM  

I got the theme with no problem (though why two were alliterative but the rest weren't seemed odd). But I totally backtracked on the NW corner. I had ACNE instead of MONO, and it took me forever to realize that was the problem. . . .

mac 3:18 PM  

Medium and here and there hard puzzle, but a lot of fun! Nice write-up, as well.

Is there such a thing as Spiderwoman? That question held me up in the NW.

I once planted rue in my herb garden, but I only ever found one very complicated recipe by Thomas Keller. In addition, some people are allergic to it, get a rash from touching it. It died over the winter. Attractive plant, though, sage-green with little yellow flowers.

Rob C 3:45 PM  

@Lewis & Sandy K - I agree, that's what I meant before when I questioned whether there was anything more to BETWEEN THE LINES entry, other than the obvious visual presentation. I thought that I may have been missing something. Guess not.

oops, 4 and out, sorry

John V 3:49 PM  

When the stars make you drool
Just like pastafazool,
That's amore.

sanfranman59 4:10 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)

Thu 16:28, 16:58, 0.97, 41%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:35, 9:56, 0.96, 39%, Easy-Medium

Anonymous 4:24 PM  

NE Corner: Put in acne right away at a14 and that fouled up a1 and 4 d royally. Ended up with nonsense for a1, icECOOL for d2 and ReWS for d4. Also finally put in RUE at a31 but still don't know what d27 SuperNES is or means. But all in all not a terrible day.

Lane B 4:30 PM  

The comment immediately above is actually mine, LaneB.

jae 5:19 PM  

@LaneB -- Check out my comment at 11:12.

Z 6:11 PM  

No matter how bad that project you did in art class is, mom will love it because it is for her.

BETWEEN THE LINES is a revealer, as opposed to a theme answer, in my opinion.

Iggy Pop and Johnny Rotten played punk rock, the Ramones didn't (the puzzle is correct based on popular acclamation - but listen and the vast differences are obvious).

Why BINAL RECTO? CUZ! At least the AHS NES XYZ YEW column has some scrabbly letters at the end. Some of the other three letter fill is a little painful, but is the cost of creativity at times. What really bothered me were the negative seeming ten letter non-theme answers, especially IT'S USELESS. Yuck.

Challenging here (acne gave me zits) and, like yesterday, had to come here to see the positive elements in the puzzle.

Ellen S 6:17 PM  

That's the kind of puzzle I like -- meaning, I got most of it. Had to look up ANTOINE and wound up with XeXES/AREOLe (??? Story about former king of Persia? Without the "r" because he wasn't a pirate?). But I'd rather DNF a puzzle that makes me work for it than one I know all the answers.

And despite the sometimes junky fill (didn't we vote against TSKS just yesterday?) there were no eels -- yet look at all the eel songs that have been offered! Much more fun song ideas than the only eel song I have found. Which is really ... disturbing.

Smew -- Merganser duck, also called Smee
Smee -- character in Peter Pan or Pintail duck, also called Smew
Snee -- Crossword puzzle knife, never seen in real life.

All clear now?

Ellen S 6:18 PM  

Oh, yes -- I think BINAL and RECTO probably are in poor taste when together in the same puzzle.

Milford 9:00 PM  

@Z - I actually wrote in Rotten before RAMONE.

Tita 9:04 PM  

Hah! Loved it!
Unexpected. Kept staring squinty-eyed at the grid - what is it tellign me...
Didn't have the crosses - but suddenly, H I M O M seemed plausible.

Hats off to @JenCT at 65A - there must be plenty of PEEPs at your coop these days.

Thanks Mr. Merrel! Thanks PuzGirl!

And 2 new lawyer jokes...though the one about CLIENTs I have heard realting to just about any business where you sell something to someone.

Hey - if you're in teh Candlewood Lake area, stop by Il Bacio for hte best Salted Caramel Pretzel ice cream ever. And every other flavor he conjures up on a daily basis. Tony is an artist whose medium is ice cream!

Z 9:47 PM  

@Milford- yah. Me too. The Rio Grande doesn't divide anything starting with E, though.

sanfranman59 10:31 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 6:13, 6:14, 1.00, 47%, Medium
Tue 9:05, 8:14, 1.10, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:15, 10:07, 0.91, 29%, Easy-Medium
Thu 16:52, 16:58, 0.99, 48%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:53, 3:44, 1.04, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:38, 4:49, 1.17, 86%, Challenging
Wed 5:33, 5:59, 0.93, 32%, Easy-Medium
Thu 9:28, 9:56, 0.95, 35%, Easy-Medium

Unknown 11:35 PM  

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Acme 12:02 AM  

Given all the poignant comments around mother's day, here is a counterpoint from Annie Lamott she penned three years ago...
Hope this movement to make Monday NON Mother's Day takes off! No Kidding!

Cicver 7:22 AM  

What is NES? (27 down)
Can someone enlighten?

Please Read Comments Before Posting 7:42 AM  

@Cicver - NES is a game console. And that answer was given three times in previous comments. And Google has heard of it, too.

OISK 12:51 PM  

For the record, I blew the "NES" entry also. I greatly rue the error...

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

Can someone clear up the 23D for me? I raise? Fold?

Bob Kerfuffle 3:13 PM  

@Anonymous, 2:39 PM - If one player in a poker game says, "I raise," the next player may decide that he wants out, and fold.

Unknown 7:26 AM  

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Waxy in Montreal 12:08 PM  

SMEW? Who knew? (Had YAM, KATA & SMEM in that corner!)

16D reminds me (perhaps again) of the old question: what's the difference between a rooster and a lawyer? Ans. The rooster clucks defiance while the lawyer.....

rain forest 2:12 PM  

I liked it. Another tribute to Mom which is OK by me, especially the HI MOM found between the lines of LEADINGLADY and WONDERWOMAN, which my Mom was. Total guess for me at the RUE/NES crossing which turned out to be correct. Nice bottom line with a couple of x's for Mom, too.

Dirigonzo 2:53 PM  

I thought the "Melees" at 4d might be "riots" with some kind of rebus involved but no, just ROWS. Super NES was a gimme because it was a "must have" game station when my son was of a certain age. I think the three-letter strings on the side borders are kind of cool.

@Waxy - I'm shocked! Too much Earl Grey, perhaps?

DMGrandma 3:56 PM  

I started wanting the government guy to be a Fed, so hesitated with the obvious AJAR. At the other end, my duck started out as a SNEe. In between I had to rely on crosses for a couple of names, and accept that NES must mean something. But I finished once I remembered the Rio Grande doesn't cross Arizona, and my xAXIS became a ZAXIS and all was well.

Here in Syndiland the holidays are always askew. Will we really have aMother's Day puzzle on Father's Day?

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