Borstal Boy author Brendan / TUE 6-18-13 / 1984 Patrick Swayze film set in cold war / TV addict slangily / Fruity red wine familiarly / Old platter player / Words sung with love in 1967 #1 hit / Like many Mr Bean skit

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Constructor: Tim Croce

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Tues.*)

THEME: R AND D (40A: Corporate division, informally ... or a hint to the answers to the eight starred clues) — starred clues have two-word answers where first word starts with "R" and second with "D"

Theme answers:
  • 4D: *Numbers fed into a computer (RAW DATA)
  • 20A: *Lead singer of the Kinks (RAY DAVIES)
  • 18A: *Beverly Hills shopping district (RODEO DRIVE)
  • 37A: *It might stretch a seventh-inning stretch (RAIN DELAY)
  • 42A: *Hora, e.g. (RING DANCE)
  • 59A: *"James and the Giant Peach" author (ROALD DAHL)
  • 46D: *1984 Patrick Swayze film set in the cold war ("RED DAWN") (shouldn't "Cold War" be capitalized?)
  • 62A: *Fertile area where a stream empties into an ocean (RIVER DELTA)

Word of the Day: Brendan BEHAN (2D: "Borstal Boy" author Brendan) —
Brendan Francis Behan (/ˈbən/ bee-ənIrishBreandán Ó Beacháin; 9 February 1923 – 20 March 1964) was an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright who wrote in bothEnglish and Irish. He was also an Irish republican and a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army. Born in Dublin into a republican family, he became a member of the IRA's youth organisation Fianna Éireann at the age of fourteen. However, there was also a strong emphasis on Irish history and culture in the home, which meant he was steeped in literature and patriotic ballads from a tender age. Behan eventually joined the IRA at sixteen, which led to him serving time in a borstal youth prison in the United Kingdom and was also imprisoned in Ireland. During this time, he took it upon himself to study and he became a fluent speaker of the Irish language. Subsequently released from prison as part of a general amnesty given by the Fianna Fáil government in 1946, Behan moved between homes in Dublin, Kerry andConnemara and also resided in Paris for a period. // In 1954, Behan's first play The Quare Fellow was produced in Dublin. It was well received; however, it was the 1956 production at Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop in Stratford, London, that gained Behan a wider reputation - this was helped by a famous drunken interview on BBC television. In 1958, Behan's play in the Irish language An Giall had its debut at Dublin's Damer Theatre. Later, The Hostage, Behan's English-language adaptation ofAn Giall, met with great success internationally. Behan's autobiographical novel, Borstal Boy, was published the same year and became a worldwide bestseller. // He married Beatrice Ffrench-Salkeld in 1955. Behan was known for his drink problem, which resulted in him suffering from diabetes, which ultimately resulted in his death on 20 March 1964. He was given an IRA guard of honour which escorted his coffin and it was described by several newspapers as the biggest funeral since those of Michael Collins and Charles Stewart Parnell. (wikipedia)
• • •

An ancient theme (or so it feels to me), but one that's both dense and well executed. This puzzle definitely has far more sass than your average Tuesday puzzle. Yeah, the bar's a bit low, as Tuesday is often an embarrassment, but by any standards I think this puzzle is a bit above average. Theme isn't exactly interesting, but the grid manages to be, and as I say, the theme density is impressive. RAY DAVIES is probably my favorite of the theme answers—he is also the most likely to be unknown to solvers, although he's pretty damned famous, having been the lead singer of The Kinks for so many years. I don't think I've seen the word VIDIOT (67A: TV addict, slangily) since maybe the '80s ... but that only endears it to me, somehow. Also from the '80s—"RED DAWN." I seem to be just the right age for this puzzle (adolescent in the '80s), which may be why I tore through this thing far faster than most of the times I'm seeing posted on the NYT applet. A full minute faster than the bulk of the people I consider my solving peers. Some days everything just clicks. I finished in a normal time, but I think that overall it's going to play somewhat harder than average.

Things that have thrown me in the past today just didn't. I remembered BEHAN! For once. That's a name I've never seen outside crosswords, but now I've seen it quite a bit. I also got ERIEPA easily—that's a letter string that I have failed to parse correctly in the past (ERIE, PA). Misspelled HAILE Selassie as HALLE, but the White Rabbit fixed that (49D: Repeated cry from the White Rabbit => "I'M LATE!"). I balked at "AW, GEEZ," thinking of "GEEZ" as short for "Jesus" and more of an exclamation of frustration (a la "DRAT") than an exclamation of humility (a la "Shucks, you're too kind"). I don't quite get the clue on RHYME. I see that Wynken *and* Blynken RHYME, but the clue reads 19D: Wynken or Blynken, e.g., but not Nod, so ... no, I don't think that works. Also don't like that "Watteau" has the word EAU right inside it (16A: Water, to Watteau). And in what universe is "O." short for "Ohio?" Was that a typo? (15A: Port ENE of Cleveland, O.)

Yesterday I mentioned the phenomenon of Scrabble-f*cking, and the NE features a textbook example of what I'm talking about. That "Q" is completely gratuitous. It doesn't even get you a *word*. Just two abbrevs., one of them ugly as hell (QEII) (11D: Long-reigning English monarch, informally). Speaking of ABBR.—seems at least mildly unfair on a Tuesday not to have anything in the clue indicating that the answer is, indeed, and ABBR. (1A: Self-descriptive crossword answer). Compare this to the "Z" in the SW, which is not at all gratuitous. You get a common last name (with a nice contemporary clue) and then a short form of ZINfandel (69A: Fruity red wine, familiarly). All surrounding fill is clean. Lesson: use the high-value Scrabble tile only if there will be no collateral damage. Otherwise, try something else.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    jae 12:17 AM  

    Medium-tough for me too and, I agree with Rex, it's likely very tough for a novice solver.  In the NW ASTRO, TROI, BEHAN, SERA and RAY DAVIS are not exactly early week fare.  The second two I know only from crosswords and the latter is a WOE.  In the SE ROALD DAHL, AMHED, and a 30 yr. old movie present a similar problem. Also how well known is Ted CRUZ?

    That said, the grid is very smooth and the theme density is impressive.  Plus, as Rex pointed out, there is enough zip..VIDIOT, RAZR, AW GEEZ, lift this above the average Tues.  Liked it!

    Anyone else have down for 1a?

    syndy 1:01 AM  

    Would lld be more pleasing if clued ""Cunard luxury liner?"either way I don't see the ugly.Also RED DAWN could have been-2012 remake!.not bad*(for a tuesday)

    Anonymous 1:04 AM  

    QEII is the monarch. The ship was the QE2.

    Astro Credo Madcap 1:18 AM  

    yes, Real Dense, but I've never heard of RING DANCE. Circle Dance, maybe, or am I thinking of Circle Jerk?
    It may take TWO to tango, but it takes like TEN to Hora.

    I liked the AFLAT clue for its nuttiness
    but am also wondering about that O. for Ohio. To signal PA could you not have written OH?

    I missed there were even more theme answers going down! Wish I knew how to do that! Esp crossing other theme answers! Construction: A+

    Of course I loved the sprinkling of Zs and Qs and will every single time politely disagree with @Rex and his anti-Scrabble commentary. Will even suggests Scrabbly letters in his guidelines.

    There was sort of a subtheme anyway of ABBReviations: QED, RandD, DEA, CPO, QEII, RVS, FWIW, LTD

    RAYDAVIES may or may not be a given for some, depends on how into Lola you are! Love him.

    MADCAP, RAZR and PLOPS are fun, FWIW.

    And if I were at home, I'd embed "To Sir, With Love" one of my favorite films from childhood. I remember trying to emulate Sidney P the first time I was a substitute teacher in a rough situation. It worked not at all!

    Davis 1:45 AM  

    No SIR, I didn't like it.

    Finished with OLeO/VIDeOT, and couldn't for the life of me catch the mistake. Thought to myself "VIDeOT looks wrong, but it's a made-up word anyway, so I guess that could be right." Got caught up on ABBR--had A?BR and couldn't see it (BEHAR was completely unknown to me, so that cross wasn't helping). Definitely did not feel very Tuesday-ish to me. And I thought the theme was downright boring.

    chefwen 2:32 AM  

    I give it an easy medium. Got the theme early and traveled around filling in all the R's. I never would have known ROALD DAHL had I not seen it before in an X-word puzzle or some other obscure place. Jon wanted to know how the &%@# he was supposed to know that. I said, your not, you don't have kids, keep doing the puzzles.

    Two shout outs in a row, yesterday when my friends Andrea and Johanna chose Wendy's over 100+ other fast food joints and today with a new one that fits me to a T, VIDIOT! I roared, have never seen that before. You turn into one when you are alone a lot. Now that my friend is not longer traveling I have rearranged my VIDIOCY back to cookery. Much more fun and tastier.

    Does anybody else find that spelling the capcha out loud whilst typing it makes it easier, or is it just my OCD?

    JenCT 3:37 AM  

    @chefwen: On the iPad, I enlarge the capcha type so I can read it better.

    MADCAP took an embarrassingly long time

    I've never seen VIDIOT but I like it! (Will try to use it in a sentence today)

    Liked "Subject of a Spot check? FLEA

    Crunchier than normal for a Tuesday; liked it

    John Child 5:43 AM  

    I'm approaching my two-year anniversary as a solver, and I think this was the best Tuesday I have seen. I really liked it.

    @jae - yes, 1A was DOWN for me too. I was disappointed when 1D immediately spoiled it.

    A question about times: On a Monday (for example) when I just fill in answers without pausing more than a second or two, the puzzle takes me a little less than 8 minutes. I can imagine doing one a bit faster, but not in half the time or less. It just takes that long to type everything into the iPad app. How can people do one in three minutes?

    Anonymous 7:05 AM  

    I guess the clue logic on 19D is that "Wynken and Blynken" would require "RHYMES"?

    Lojman 7:07 AM  

    RAY DAVIES + BEHAN + SERA = booooo
    Just a couple of uninferrable vowels from obscure proper names and a foreign language.

    Apart from that, this was very enjoyable. Perhaps like Rex, every time I see RED DAWN, I silently shout the battle cry "Wolverines!!!"


    JenCT 7:19 AM  

    @John Child: The elite speed solvers are freakishly fast...

    Z 7:23 AM  

    The theme clues are italicized in the dead tree version. Completely unnecessary.

    9 minutes which is pretty typical Tuesday for me, so just to the medium side of easy for me.

    I'm with @Rex on that NE corner. QED, EAU, HIES crossing QEII, EAVE ( non-plural of convenience) and DUES. The last is the only word I've ever used in actual conversation.

    1A includes "self-descriptive" in the clue, so the answer has to be ABBReviated. I like.

    Ted CRUZ is one of those individuals I just don't get. There are those I disagree with but I understand why they believe what they believe. I listen to CRUZ and wonder what alternative universe he is from.

    Milford 7:35 AM  

    Very average Tuesday time for me here. The R AND D theme itself was nothing terribly exciting, but it inspired 8 fresh and vastly different theme answers (I agree with @acme that RING DANCE is the weakest).

    RAW DATA was great, and so was ROALD DAHL, with his whole name making the grid! They still read a lot of his books in my kids' elementary school, which is great.

    RAY DAVIES was not on the tip of my tongue , but his name seemed pretty inferable from the crosses, even BEHAN. But then again, I knew buona SERA means good evening

    @Davis - if it helps in the future, some wise soul here (@Evan, perhaps?) explained to me once that the fake butter spread is OLEO, and a mixture of things is an OLIO, and the way to remember is the "i" in MIX = OLIO.

    Yeah, that Ohio abbreviation as O. has to be a typo, right? It threw me, too.

    Ted CRUZ = ugh. What @Z said.

    elitza 7:40 AM  

    I actually really, really liked this; after several weeks/months of unimpressive puzzles (to me, for the most part) this was zingy and a lot of fun.

    QEII/QED was fun, I thought, and given how many Kinks albums we have (and play on a HIFI, natch) RAY DAVIES was a nice thing to see. MADCAP is my favorite coffee company, though virtually unknown outside Michigan and DC. AFLAT: adorable. ROALD DAHL: Matilda! The Witches! One of my favorite authors to this day. Sunday we got Jean-LUC Picard, and today we got TROI. Man, I can't even with this. Too much fun for 7:30am.

    Anonymous 7:40 AM  

    Wow. I flew through this one, and was sure Rex would give it an easy peasy rating.

    Unknown 7:43 AM  

    Very fast Tuesday for me, but not super interesting. Best little tidbit for me was the intersection of ERR and EYRE.

    GILL I. 8:12 AM  

    That little RING DANCE area held me up for ever....Probably too much ZIN. I don't do much ABBR's and there seem to be a ton of them. Wanted Reel to be my Hora and AWE GEE for Shucks. Never heard of FWIW nor RAZR and if I cared I'd look up R AND D. Mr. Bean makes we want to WEEP and ERIEPA just looks all wrong.
    Like @chefwen love the word VIDIOT.
    Oh, and didn't Spock also say "your wish is my command"?
    I finally finished correctly but GEEZ way too much work (that wasn't too much fun) for a Tuesday.

    John V 8:16 AM  

    Medium Challenging here, too. Re NE, not so much the Q but the collateral CAP that results. I'd prefer cleaner corner over Scrabbliness. Crossing QED and QEII not so nice, esp in a corner.

    Theme? Meh. Great density, to be sure.

    Anonymous 8:18 AM  

    Rex, you might be older than you realize. I tore through the puzzle too, and I was an adolescent in the Sixties!

    joho 8:32 AM  

    @Milford, I like your take that it has to be a typeO. Not only is the "H" missing but visually ERIEPA looks like a foreign city, perhaps located in Oman?

    Not crazy about starting off with an ABBR.

    Nice crossing at DEA/NARC.

    I learned VIDIOT today!

    Interesting theme with great density ... thank you, Tim Croce!

    jberg 8:34 AM  

    Best thing was EARP and EYRE, together at last. Beside that, what Rex said -- lots of little quibbles, but a nice puzzle.

    Thoracic 8:37 AM  

    I found this quite pedestrian after yesterday's very enjoyable puzzle. Had a pretty quick time and thought the rating would be easy. I keep hoping these days mean I'm getting better, but I'm sure Thurs or Friday will kick my ass again.
    The theme, while admirably dense, didn't do much for me- it seems pretty familiar. Did love VIDIOT though, I will try very hard to use it in conversation today.Preferably about someone else.

    Bob Kerfuffle 8:49 AM  

    Nice puzzle for a Tuesday.

    One write-over: 51 D, CREED before CREDO.

    The name of RAY DAVIES was familiar to me only because I once heard a radio discussion of whether the name is correctly pronounced DAY VISS or DAY VEES. I don't remember the answer! (But it must be DAY VISS, or why would there be a discussion?)!

    Nod 8:49 AM  


    Each syllable of each name rhymes

    Paul Keller 8:50 AM  

    Finished with BEHON crossing ROYDAVIES.

    The theme is such a snoozer, why bother with it?

    Loren Muse Smith 8:55 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Loren Muse Smith 8:56 AM  

    Sometimes when I wake at 4:30am (on my own) and scurry down to start the coffee and dive in to the puzzle, I realize that these things are, embarrassingly, becoming my raison d'être! Today’s rainy day will no doubt have me wanting to just sit around and slog away at my rinky dink little puzzles until the ideas just run dry. And they do.

    Liked this one a lot! I bet if Judge Vic had done this, he would have included “reasonable doubt” and “recreational drugs.”

    When my kids were young, we bought a house that HAD a room that must have been some kind of sewing room or something – too small to be a viable space for anything - so we made it a D.E.A.R. room – Drop Everything And Read. It had A LOT of ROALD DAHL books (and R.L. Stine and Gary Paulsen and my complete collection of Nancy Drews, that, sadly, went untouched.). Show me a house with a D.E.A.R. room, and I’ll show you a house with no VIDIOTS.

    I agree with Acme- RING DANCE looks a bit weird. @Gill i.P., if you’ve never done the Hora at a party, you’re missing out. And I can do a mean Hora after A LOT of ZIN. Bet you could, too.

    ERIEPA keeps looking out at me like that country above Ethiopia.

    Bonus themer – RAZR DIN – my son’s first cell phone with some kind of awful ring tone that made me want to WEEP.

    Right dandy puzzle, Tim. I think I’ll eschew oil and vinegar today for ranch dressing. Or maybe Russian. . .

    chefbea 9:20 AM  

    Tough for a Tuesday - especially the southwest. Got everything else but can someone tell me what Corporate division is R and D??

    @chefwen...I also spell the captcha out loud before I type.

    Anonymous 9:23 AM  

    QEII would be better clued as the ocean liner, no?

    dk 9:29 AM  

    @Loren, when I go into someone's home I first look to see if they have lights and chairs for easy reading. If they do not I sigh and wish they did.

    Nice one. Pedestrian as one above noted but a smooth walk.

    🌟🌟🌟 (3 Stars) I love the Kinks

    Puzzle pals: Working on a project called Habit Heros. You can download the ap. It is a program to help parents instill healthy habits within their kids… and err… well… get the parents to do the same. Doing this with Disney and Marvel. I would welcome your opinion on the whole and its parts. Click on my little picture and email me -- anything you have to say.

    Milford 9:31 AM  

    @chef bea - I took R&D to be Research and Development.

    jackj 9:35 AM  

    With his first Tuesday puzzle, Tim Croce is within a Sunday of achieving his stated goal of “hitting for the cycle”. His record to date is interesting with 23 total Times puzzles; 11 Saturdays, 7 Fridays and 5 assorted earlier week puzzles.

    Eight theme answers, revealed by RANDD cluing two word phrases/names that begin with R and D, from little known RAYDAVIES to well known ROALDDAHL and supplemented by phrases like RAINDELAY, means there’s not much room left for a lot of fill.

    But, undaunted, Tim still treats us to some beauties, like MADCAP and VIDIOT for two of the obvious ones and the nicely clued ABBR joining the free-spirited Irishman, Borstal boy Brendan BEHAN (a Borstal is a UK reform school).

    Others that tickled include “Subject of a Spot check?” for FLEA, the equally clever “Small screen appearance” cluing CAMEO, the not difficult but always fun QED and a first time cluing for unctuous “Texas senator Ted” CRUZ, (sorry, Penelope and Santa).

    FWIW, AWGEEZ, if it had been a 16X15 Tim could have added REDLIGHTDISTRICT to his eclectic theme mix; RATS DUDE!

    Another fun one from Tim Croce; may his cycle completing Sunday puzzle show up sooner rather than later.

    pmdm 9:46 AM  

    I do not know the lead singer of the kinks or the author or Borstal Boy. Behan and Ray or Behon and Roy? Thus problem has been mentioned above, so I am not the only person bothered by the cross. This type of cross may be okay later in the week, but in my opinion it is inexcusable to publish it on a Tuesday. Inexcusable if there is some kind of consistency in editing decisions. If you know one of the crosses, it's a non-issue. But if you don't, it's infuriating to find on a Tuesday.

    I think it would have been better if Mr. Croce had clued a little trickier and the puzzle had been published on Wednesday.

    Sean Dobbin 10:15 AM  

    This is exactly how a Tuesday puzzle should be. Basically ho-hum (but fine) theme, enhanced by sparkly fill. Something for everyone.

    I was personally Naticked at OLEO/VIDIOT (had the E), but who cares?

    Anonymous 10:20 AM  

    WTF is FWIW?

    chefbea 10:28 AM  

    FWIW=for what it's worth

    Anonymous 10:35 AM  

    @John Child

    I'm curious too. I did the puzzle using AcrossLite with no stutters and it took me about 8 minutes. I've tried using the applets but they seem much less responsive.

    There must be some basic tricks to speed up my time. Should I just do the acrosses first? Read all the clues for a sector first? Find a different set of settings?

    I don't need to be the best but I think there is some mechanical agency available ... and I didn't get the memo.

    Anonymous 10:45 AM  

    Slight Behan delay but otherwise a fast Tue. My Church of Christ aunt also balks at my frequent use of "Oh, Geez" (it could be so much worse) though I've always considered it a Gee-Whiz contraction rather than a mild curse. Derivation anyone?

    John in Philly 11:27 AM  

    Very quick Tuesday - just clicked. Agree that one across cluing wasn't good. Thought Rex would rate this super easy.

    Davis 11:46 AM  

    @Milford -- Thanks! That's a helpful mnemonic.

    Evan 11:57 AM  


    I have to admit a moment of terrible, ironic defeat. I don't know if I was that person who explained that mnemonic in the comment section before, but I know for a fact that it's the one that I use for OLEO/OLIO ("buttEr" for OLEO, "mIx" for OLIO). And it's the same damn crossing I got wrong today. I didn't even check the crossing because I figured the portmanteau on VIDEO and IDIOT would have the E in VIDEO. Alas.

    At least I solved Matt Gaffney's weekly crossword meta shortly before the deadline after struggling with it for a good long while, so I'm satisfied.

    Carola 11:57 AM  

    Fast and fun. I enjoyed the witty cluing.

    Masked and Anonymo2Us 11:58 AM  

    What word's been in the NYTPuz a total of 3 times, and two of 'em by Tim Croce? Answer: See last all-caps word of this here comment.

    Really great TuesPuz. Got yer ampersandwich revealer. Got yer nine themers. Got yer 3 Z's. Yer symmetric U's. Not to mention yer ERIEPA VIDIOT. thUmbsUp.

    Oh -- yeah...
    If you've ever thought about headin out to LA to work their crossword, gotta do it today. My fave constructor Jeff Chen has done somethin mighty special. Google "Mensa Crossword" and follow the pointers.

    RAZR. Dude must work for Motorola.

    MikeM 12:22 PM  

    There is an Irish Bar in NYC called PJ Morans. They have a portrait of Brendan Behan hung up. For years my mates and I would wonder "why the hell do they have a picture of John Belushi in this place?"

    mac 12:33 PM  

    Excellent Tuesday. I think we've done the R and D theme before, but I still enjoyed it. Had the most trouble with the Razr/DEA/narc area, and I thought the ring dance was off, too.

    I love Roald Dahl. His biography, written by Sturrock, is a fantastic book as well.

    Anonymous 12:47 PM  

    5D is incorrectly clued. Should be RALLY, not VOLLEY. A serve can start a rally, but the rules of tennis do not permit a volley service return.

    WA 12:54 PM  

    By the wat WTF is my favorite airport by I had no idea what FWIW was, so I had Ah geez.

    I have never heard the hora referred to as a ring dance. Maybe at the next bar mitzvah we can have three going at the same time and have The Ring Trilogy or five and look like a moving olympic flag.

    I liked the theme but did not like the fill. Borstal Boy was the first serious work I bought that was not taught in school and the Kinks will remain one of the more underappreciated bands.

    Thoracic 1:03 PM  

    @Anon 12:47
    I took it to mean volleyball, not tennis

    LaneB 1:19 PM  

    Felt Real Dumb having eventually to Google the name of Jetson' dog and Motorola's phone, but I was surprised at how well and steadily the rest of it went. Had to stare a while at ATOZ before getting what it meant. That's the kind of answer that gets easier with experience. Average difficulty for a Tuesday.

    john towle 1:59 PM  

    Roald Dahl is quite possibly one of the most famous kid lit authors ever, right up there with E. B. White, Beatrix Potter, JK Rowling, Jack Prelutsky, Lewis Carroll, Eric Carle & my favorite Uncle Shelby aka Shel Silverstein. Others doubtless have their own lists; this is mine.



    Lewis 2:15 PM  

    Went quickly except for the NW, which went medium. Couldn't think of ASTRO and do not know BEHAN. Took me a while to get ABBR.

    Today's happy neighbors... I like CRUZIN in the SW corner, happy to see the RAWDATA GENIE made an appearance, and we have a FLEA CAMEO. At the end, AHMED PLOPS.

    This puzzle was obviously made by a pro. As I calculate it, a touch over 40% of the letters are theme letters. IMO, that is extremely tough to pull off without hearing plaints about the fill.

    But was it fun? I thought so!

    MetaRex 3:40 PM  

    Good really brought me down to do RAIN DELAY and then to feel a short time later that RAIN DANCE is a much zippier phrase than RING DANCE even though it couldn't be right...

    The crossings of RAW DATA w/ RAY DAVIES and RED DAWN w/ ROALD DAHL are v. nice...

    A density and duplication poser...suppose ya replace RING DANCE w/ something decent that ends -D- and then ya dupe the reveal R AND D, so it's 29D as well as 40A. Is that a better puzz than Tim C's actual puzz? Well, ya'd have a double reveal that kinda mirrors the crossing thematic answers elsewhere in the grid, which is kinda cool...but is the duped R AND D reveal just icky? My robot gut says kinda but I'm not sure how much or if I'm right.

    sanfranman59 4:13 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 8:11, 8:16, 0.99, 47%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Tue 5:06, 4:55, 1.04, 61%, Medium-Challenging

    I was misled by the clue for 69A: Fruity red wine, familiarly. I definitely don't think of zinfandel as fruity. So-called "white" zinfandel (it's bastard brother), maybe. But red zin is bold and dry, no?.

    retired_chemist 5:09 PM  

    @ Rex The universe in which O. is the abbreviation for Ohio is the one I grew up in. It also has Penna., N. Car., Ind., Ill., W. Va. etc. I'm guessing you weren't out of diapers when the Post Office went to 2 letter abbreviations uniformly. So, "O." may be old but it's not illegit (even though I agree OH would be preferable).

    The puzzle - liked it. Went to the reveal fairly early and used it. Would have had a very fast (for me) Tuesday time but for chasing down several typos.

    No complaints about the NE corner - I don't think it is as ugly as some of you. I mean, I don't think the corner is ugly, which some of you think. I'm NOT saying some of you are uglier that the NE corner. Although maybe some of you are, since I haven't met any of you.

    I am digging my hole deeper. I'll stop now.

    Thanks,Mr. Croce.

    M and A also 5:15 PM  

    @retired_chemist: har.

    Delaware 5:41 PM  

    I hate to be critical but this theme just didn't do it for me. I appreciate the dense fill but the reveal was just not as fresh as yesterday's. I taught 5th grade for 21 years and always read Roald Dahl's books to my kids. His black humor is perfect for kids that age who love something different from the syrupy treacle they're used to. Other touchstones...I must admit I was a Patrick Swayze fangirl, so Red Dawn brings back happy memories, although nothing was as "great" as "Dirty Dancing".I agree with everyone about "ring dance." No self-respecting Jew would call it that!

    Unknown 6:55 PM  

    Agree with the Med-Challenging. No problems but slow going for a Tues. Liked all of the scrabbliness, even if a small price was paid in the form of some ABBRs.

    Also agree that AW GEEZ isn't clued quite accurately. Think Archie Bunker. There's no "shucks your too kind" in his AW GEEZ.

    I was eating a bowl of GRAPEs as I filled in 45A - is there a name for that?

    Also, on a non-puzzle related note, I just saw a local weatherman say "there will be some clearing tonight, expecially (sic) after midnight" twice. If George Bush were a weatherman...

    GILL I. 7:45 PM  

    @sanfranman59: I think winers like to overly use fruity...A Zin from Lodi California is always my go to wine. They are NOT sweet like your bastard friends [sigh}
    If you can, try a Gnarly Head. I tried it only because I like the name. It's delish...Salud.

    Anonymous 8:15 PM  

    For "Shucks, you're too kind" I had "Aw go on" - this would have been closer to humility than "Aw geez." But of course had to change this.

    OldCaFudd 10:13 PM  

    O was a perfectly good abbreviation for Ohio before the Postal-so-called-Service came up with two-digit codes. The brass-trimmed, acetylene-operated headlamps on my 1913 Model T Ford are embossed:

    The Jno. W. Brown Mfr. Co.
    Model 16
    Cincinnati, O.

    Casimir 10:50 PM  

    Two shots at Ted Cruz and one at George Bush. Can we leave politics out of one thing -- the NY Times crossword, or are some people so obsessed they can't let it go? Give it a rest. There are plenty of places at the NY Times itself where one can post their smarmy, supercilious inanities.

    Z 11:09 PM  

    @Casimir - That was a "shot?" A "smarmy, supercilious inanit(y)?" Cool. I'm going for unctuous pedantry tomorrow followed by ostentatious non sequiturs.

    Casimir 11:16 PM  

    Sorry, I'll bring it down to your level. Ted Cruz is a former Supreme Court clerk which means he's at least as accomplished as you are, likely much more. The fact that you don't "get him" is a problem with you that, somehow, you fail to grasp. Too much time in your amen corner, probably. I'll repeat my question -- can we keep this one space on crossword puzzles and keep your juvenile political opinions on the NY Times blogs where they belong?

    sanfranman59 1:56 AM  

    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 6:07, 6:12, 0.99, 43%, Medium
    Tue 8:12, 8:16, 0.99, 48%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:42, 3:49, 0.97, 28%, Easy-Medium
    Tue 4:59, 4:55, 1.02, 55%, Medium

    @Gill I. P. ... thanks for the tip. I'm always up for trying new zins. I'll look that one up at my local wine shop.

    Z 7:43 AM  

    @Casimir - feel free to ignore everything I write. After all, you wouldn't want to waste time on any "juvenile political opinions."

    Milford 10:04 AM  

    @Casmir - As the other poster (i think) that took a "shot" at Cruz, I have to wonder why you didn't mention a thing about the crossword puzzle in either of your posts. ("I'll repeat my question -- can we keep this one space on crossword puzzles?").

    JenCT 12:40 PM  

    @Rob C., @Z, @Milford: LOL

    @Casimir: don't go all nuke-you-ler on us...

    Casimir 1:03 PM  

    So which is it, I'm confused? Am I pretentious for using words over one syllable, or am I a drooling moron incapable of saying nuclear? You all need to huddle up and get your party line straight.

    The good news is that your comments are so uproariously funny. Keep them coming.

    Zed 1:24 PM  

    @Casimir - Nah - but maybe you are over-reacting just a little bit. This is, after all, just a crossword blog.

    You might note, for example, that @Z's response was in the form of a question, suggesting that you took the CRUZ comment for more than was intended. Your response was to call @Z "juvenile." Perhaps if you had pointed out something good about CRUZ (like his stand against bank bailouts and his logic in support of his stance) instead of name-calling the responses would be more engaging. Or you could have commented on the puzzle. Or you could promote your new book. Whatever. But I would suggest Q-TIP to you - It's just a crossword blog.

    Since @Z has reached his limit of three, on to the future....

    Casimir 4:05 PM  

    "Ted CRUZ is one of those individuals I just don't get. There are those I disagree with but I understand why they believe what they believe. I listen to CRUZ and wonder what alternative universe he is from."

    Here's the comment -- not a question at all -- that I was reacting to. Do you really believe this was a good faith attempt to understand Senator Cruz? I stand by my original comment about the above statement (not the person who made it) -- it's a juvenile shot that is tiresome and predictable.

    But you're right, it's a crossword blog. I'm done.

    Unknown 4:49 PM  

    What did @acme call it just the other day...a serious lack of whimsy?

    Anonymous 7:20 PM  

    It seems weird to me that people wouldn't know Roald Dahl since I have read so many of his books growing up. They are classics, after all, with many famous movies adapted. However, I am too young to get the 80s references, which only makes me think that my solving will never be great no matter how much crosswordese I learn until I am old enough to understand all the references!

    CaliTina 11:08 AM  

    This started Challenging; my first pass through the Acrosses left me with only the theme answers and a few threes (one of which was cab for ZIN). But the downs fell like a gentle spring rain making me feel very accomplished at the end.
    Long time listener, first- (well technically second-) time caller, but I hope to check in more frequently as my confidence builds.

    spacecraft 12:44 PM  

    What, no love for Robert DeNiro? And yet RAYDAVIES. "Pretty damned famous" this name is NOT. OK, the Kinks are cool and all that, but famous as a band, not individually.

    I agree with OFL about the clue for RHYME: that should read "and," not "or." But I disagree with the overall praise. I just didn't care for it. Yes, the theme is dense, but so what? It's two-word names or phrases with the same set of initials. Big [censored] deal. Certainly that's not enough to suffer fill like QEII, ALOT, AFLAT, ATOZ, and the whole FWIW/AWGEEZ/RAZR complex.

    And then there's the revealer--the ABBR. with the spelled-out AND in the middle. Grrr...

    Thumbs down.

    Waxy in Montreal 1:14 PM  

    That was fun. Only real problem was appropriately found in the SW where an unknown (to me) Texas senator crossed both tea that could have been THAI and fruity red wine that could have been anything from ATOZ preceding IN. However, went with CRUZ as the most likely name given the region and all was copacetic.

    Learnt VIDIOT which probably is cleverer than COUCH POTATO.

    Surprised at all the foofaraw over O. being used as an ABBR for Ohio as that was the standard until bland two-letter codes were introduced for all states and provinces by the postal authorities.

    FWIW, I found this a Really Delightful Tuesday puzzle.

    Dirigonzo 2:42 PM  

    I thought it played pretty easy ("for a Tuesday" seems redundant) except for the NW corner, the problems of which have already been well spelled out (but I guessed right on both vowels in BEHAN so all is well). The reaction to VIDIOT appears to be equally divided among the commenters between familiar and WTF (I'm in the latter category) but the crosses all seem fair - unless you don't know olio).

    Overall, any puzzle with a theme that is based on @spacecraft's favorite rant can't help but be fun. I just bought a Motorola RAZR yesterday so seeing it in the grid so soon seemed like an omen - good or bad remains to be seen. And there's even a shout-out to my female Lab ELLY (although she prefers ELLie). Lots to like!

    trikersr - literal description of the old guy I saw riding a 3-wheel motorcycle at the VA Hospital yesterday.

    DMGrandma 2:44 PM  

    Once the R/D showed up, this puzzle sort of solved itself, despite the presence of the likes of RAYDAVIS, an unknown in my world. I'm also unfamiliar with RAZR, but VIDIOT was an old familiar expression. Guess its that age thing, I was a teen in the 40's. At any rate, enjoyed the puzzle with only one correction, CREDO where I had posited CREed.

    My Captcha rantSta seems to describe how some real time posters have come to use this blog. Glad to be out here in Syndiland where the climate, or whatever, leads to friendlier communications!

    rain forest 4:45 PM  

    I really liked this puzzle. I'm sort of impressed that a guy who normally resides in the Fri/Sat efforts can do an intelligent Tuesday--a rarity.

    Before I looked at any downs, I tried to have 1a be ONEA or AONE, but BEHAN was a gimme, as was ASTRO (I'm ashamed to say), and RAYDAVIES. VIDIOT I also knew from way back.

    Why the fuss over Cleveland, O? Like, I mean, clearly, it's a state ABBR, which helped in getting ERIEPA, but maybe THAT could be ERIEP (no other state begins with P). Doesn't matter.

    @Spacecraft--I laugh (in a nice way) every time you wax apoplectic over the letterANDletter entries. What if a constructor crossed Q&A with R&D, or A&D? I guess the & symbol is a no-no.

    ahimsa 7:39 PM  

    The puzzle was fine--lots of theme density, not too hard, and a reveal phrase that works well. I enjoyed it.

    The NW was hardest for me. Luckily, I guessed right on the vowels in BEHAN, SERA and RAY DAVIES.

    I like to read so even when it's a book I have not read I've often seen the reviews, or seen the title/author on book lists, etc. So, I am familiar with the title "Borstal Boy" but somehow author BEHAN was completely unknown to me. So that's something new I've learned today.

    I guess I should have known SERA cold but it was an educated guess. Not knowing any Italian is turning into a common problem. I guess I should learn some more words beyond just food. :-)

    @rainforest (and others), my comment on the Cleveland, O. clue is not that it's old but that it does not match the answer. With ERIE PA as the answer then I would expect the ABBR in the clue to match. So, I was expecting the two-letter OH. It didn't actually bother me while solving but I did notice it.

    Oh, and I always thought that CHAI is simply the Hindi word for tea, not a specific type of tea. But since Starbucks (and others) have decided otherwise then I guess this word has been officially redefined and I need to let it go. Kind of like the word hacker. :-)

    spacecraft 9:05 PM  

    Nothing wrong with incorporating ampersands into the grid. Why, just Sunday we had dollar and cent signs, albeit overlaid. It could be part of a standard abbr. one way, and represent the letters "AND" the other, thus:

    A R
    E D

    Any of you builders up to it?

    spacecraft 9:07 PM  

    Oops, I erred. You know where the downs are SUPPOSED to go. My bad.

    englishteacher59 10:04 PM  

    Absolutely hated the clue and the answer for 1-across. All answers are, in a way, self-descriptive.

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