Chess great Mikhail / WED 7-10-13 / Krabappel of toondom / Dedicator of New York's Strawberry Fields / Live at Acropolis musician / Exploding cigar sound

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: conversation with a doubter — (OK, my friends say it's NOT a conversation ... just different inflections ... somehow that makes me like it less)

Theme answers:
  • 20A: "Really?!" ("THAT CAN'T BE RIGHT?!")
  • 37A: "Really" ("EVERY WORD IS TRUE")
  • 55A: "Really!" ("WELL I'LL BE DAMNED!")

Word of the Day: YANNI (38D: "Live at the Acropolis" musician) —
Yiannis Hryssomallis (Greek: Γιάννης Χρυσομάλλης, Giannis Chrysomallis; born November 14, 1954), known professionally as Yanni (/ˈjɑːni/ yah-nee), is a Greek pianist, keyboardist, composer, and music producer who has spent his adult life in the United States. [...] At least fourteen of Yanni's albums have peaked at #1 in Billboard's "Top New Age Album" category, and two albums (Dare to Dream and In My Time) received Grammy nominations. Through late 2011, Yanni had performed live in concert before more than two million people in more than 20 countries around the world, and has accumulated more than 35 platinum and gold albums globally, with sales totaling over 20 million copies. A longtime fundraiser for public television, Yanni's compositions have been used on commercial television programs, especially for sporting events such as the Tour de France, World Figure Skating Championships, U. S. Open Tennis Championships, U. S. Open Golf Championships, and Olympic Games. He has written film scores and the music for an award-winning British Airways television commercial. (wikipedia)
• • •

[NOTE: There appears to be an error in the clue at 25A: Macs run it (IOS). Macs do not run iOS. They run OSX (I'll keep you updated as breaking news of this scandal unfolds)]


Apparently I don't really get this puzzle, or understand the inflection of the human voice. First, I see a clear sequence to these theme answers. Guy doesn't believe something is true, guy is told that that thing is in fact true, guy goes "Dang!" But two smart friends insist there is no sequence. Just different inflections to the same word. Also, I don't see how in the world you can clue that last "Really!" without a question mark. Even if you aren't really asking a question, you are asking a rhetorical question ... and if you're not, then I just can't hear how that "Really!" is supposed to sound. Same smart friends insist I am wrong on this count as well. Hardly seems like an issue I want to dig my heels in on. But my impressions remain the same—there is a "conversation" here, it is a bit stilted (esp. the middle answer), and that last theme clue really should, properly, have a "?" on it. Which I realized would ruin the whole conceit here. This is a long-winded way of saying the puzzle didn't do much for me. Seems slightly tin-eared, and very old-fashioned. Liked the long Downs a lot. Fill is roughly average.

  • 16A: Krabappel of toondom (EDNA) — "toondom" = adding to the overall feeling of old-fashionedness. Consarn it.
  • 23A: Chess great Mikhail (TAL) — SuperCrosswordese. I realize he is Somebody, chess-wise, but I never like seeing his name. 
  • 35A: A dedicator of New York's Strawberry Fields (ONO) — Thought this had something to do with Darryl Strawberry (NY + Strawberry). Wrote in OTT. Swear to god, I did this.
  • 38A: "Live at the Acropolis" musician (YANNI) — total gimme, for reasons I don't quite understand. I dated a woman once who had some YANNI CDs. We never slept together. I'm pretty sure those last two facts are related.
  • 48D: Rocky a k a the Italian Stallion (BALBOA) — should've been a gimme, but my brain just kept going BAMBINO!! which didn't fit and is crazy-stupid-wrong.
  • 57D: Exploding cigar sound (BLAM) — did I mention the old-fashionedness? When's the last time you saw a cigar explode? (A: The Depression)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:03 AM  

Easy Wed. for me.  Delightful puzzle.  Really!?! liked it.  Made me smile!  Only erasure was BIOmA to BIOTA.  I confused BIOME with BIOTA (both crossword only knowledge) and used Evan's heuristic to rule out EmAT for the French phrase.  ETAT shows up a lot in puzzles, EMAT not so much. 

Some nice pairs: CRABBY CABBY, ARIES LEO, EVEN SO ANY HOW, and couple of Greeks ZORBA and YANNI...

Terrific long downs and a smooth grid.  Did I say I liked it?!

Anonymous 12:06 AM  

Not a record Wednesday, but pretty close to it. It went down right quick. Not thrilled with the week so far. Hoping for something special tomorrow.

okanaganer 12:08 AM  

My easiest Wednesday ever, except no happy pencil. Why was I so sure Anthony Quinn was ZERBA the Greek? grrr

Maybe a bit old fashioned, but kind of fun. One thing I really liked tonight: hardly any corporate/brand names!! (well, RCA, but it's so ancient it's kind of cool).

Steve J 12:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve J 12:14 AM  

My reaction to this one was: "This is a theme? Really?!?!" Weakest theme I've seen since, well, yesterday. It's been a subpar week. (For the record, I did not see this as any kind of conversation. Just various readouts of various inflections of the word.)

THATCANTBERIGHT is aptly positioned above 25A. Because the answer is wrong. The operating system for Macs is OS X; the operating system of iPhones and iPads is iOS. Yes, both are made by Apple, but they are not remotely interchangeable.

I understand that 99.9% of the time, claims of answers being wrong are themselves incorrect, as there's another way to see the clue/answer combo that points to its being right from a certain angle. But I just cannot see how this one can be explained away.

Between that and a very underwhelming theme, this puzzle left me feeling very CRABBY.

Anonymous 12:16 AM  

20-A and 55-A share the same connotation.
And yes, 55-A deserves a ? at the end.

Evan 12:24 AM  

I don't see why the theme answers *can't* be thought of as a conversation. They're so tightly connected by the same word that it makes sense.

I started writing in THAT CAN'T BE TRUE only to realize I was one letter short, and had to wait to get the rest of it later. I loved seeing WELL I'LL BE DAMNED, not simply because it's a great phrase, but because I had tried really hard to get the same phrase minus the WELL in a themeless puzzle fairly recently, but ended up going with something else. I'm glad I did -- it's blind luck obviously, but I'd hate to see a long answer that I was preparing to debut randomly show up in a separate puzzle!

It's rare to see only three theme answers, but if nothing else the fill is solid. SULKER is one of those [verb + -ER] answers I don't like, but that was my only real gripe about the fill (I guess TAL doesn't light the world on fire, but, eh). Kinda liked the ESPN/NBA/BAMA chain.

KMo 12:50 AM  

I agree about 25-A. I had OSX first. The last thing I wrote in was IOS, because I was sure that couldn't be correct. I can't really remember seeing something that would qualify as a "mistake" in the NYT puzzle, but this surely is one. iPhones and iPads and iPods run iOS, but Macs certainly run OS X.

Ryan Swift 1:00 AM  

Yep, Macs don't run iOS, iPhones and iPads do. Macs run OSX and this threw me on an otherwise easy Wednesday!

Anonymous 1:02 AM  

I understand that 99.9% of the time, claims of answers being wrong are themselves incorrect, . ."

That's the PR, but no, the record isn't quite that good. Outright errors, while rare, aren't quite that few and far between. And most clue mistakes have enough of an out to be claimed as technically okayish, even though most everybody can see that a questionable choice was made.

lurk3r 1:25 AM  

Long time reader, first time commenter. Just weighing in to say that I, too, read the theme answers as a dialogue, and I'm pretty sure the constructor meant it that way too.

Also, NOTBYAMILE is kind of on theme as well.

Anonymous 1:30 AM  

Record time for a Wednesday for me. My times are usually slower on IOS due to the keyboard, and this was a Monday-esque time for me.

I agree with the conversation, and they are different inflections. I like that the 2 long downs make a conversation as well. Beat the rap? Not by a mile.

Rookie 1:35 AM  

Glad I was not the only one. I kept trying to enter OS X for the Mac. I'm definitely not a technology geek, but I was sure that I knew that one. My love affair with Apple goes back to the early 80s. Come to think of it, not one in my succession of Apples has ever, not even once, let me down. Pretty amazing. And wonderful! Just wish I had bought some Apple stock back in the 80s!

Adagio Cabby Miras 1:42 AM  

This puzzle seems like a perfect Monday puzzle...
I don't see anything in it to make it a Wednesday.

Nice amount of Scrabblyness... No JQX, but lots of Vs, Ys and a couple of Zs and Ks to give it some pizzazz.

I can totally see it as a conversation.

And, like @jae, I like CRABBY CABBY.

What takes it into this century, is I imagine Seth Meyers on SNL going "Really?" "Really?"...
Let's see if I can embed:

acme 1:44 AM  

Sethmeyers Really?

Aaron 1:55 AM  

I'm with Rex on this one. Thought it was a conversation.

chefwen 2:27 AM  

Like Anon 12:16 - had the same infliction with 20A and 55A, only difference was with 55A it is said with one raised eyebrow and a hint of a sneer and definitely an exclamation point!!! or three.

@Adagio Cabby - While solving I thought this little guy got lost at Monday and stumbled into Wednesday. Really easy! One write over at 64A (@jae, we have to quit meeting like this) except my letter change was a T for a l, ie. Biology??? Should have known ETAT. I think my mind went into sleep mode after reading all the comments from today.

jae 3:03 AM  

As long as we're voting I'm with the dialogue bloc. And, the ! at 55a works for me. I don't think it's a rhetorical question it's more of an affirmation. The dialogue was what made this so charming, altouugh admittedly a tad too easy for a Wed.

Anonymous 3:11 AM  

At first glance, I thought 38A had the quotation marks around "musician"...

And yes, 25A is just plain wrong. Maybe the result of a last-minute edit for copy fitting, since avoiding iPhone/iPod/iPad in the clue would have required several words?

Anonymous 4:31 AM  

I don't think there's an either-or relationship between the idea that it's a conversation and the idea that it's a series of inflections. It's both! And I thought it was pretty charming. My time was an average Wednesday for me. A good NYT puzzle from where I sit.

Gareth Bain 4:59 AM  

You should stop listening to your friends, Rex, it is SO a conversation...

@Acme: Maybe Tuesday? A lot of Monday-level solvers (my mother for instance), seem to battle a lot with spoken answers...

Gareth Bain 5:02 AM  

PS, I am in favour of Will Shortz mixing it up and occasionally having easier themes and puzzles on a Wednesday. Somewhere in crossword-land there is a newbie rejoicing at their first completed wednesday!

jberg 6:31 AM  

Yeah, a conversation with a crabby krabappel. I never saw the IOS. Easy and fun.

Loren Muse Smith 7:04 AM  

Ed! I’ve noticed the same thing! All the different tones that we use to convey different meanings! (But I did my study with all the ways we respond with “What?”) So I loved this theme!

Starts off with the slithery MAMBA that just turns the corner and morphs into ASP. But wait! There’s more! Two BOAs crossing due south.

I think MIRA Sorvino and Mena Suvari should get together and one of them should change her name.

@jae – great pairs! This French major had “a vie” before ETAT and feeling really bad for Ed with such an awkward partial. Right. Like he said, “La vie, c’est moi.” Sheesh.

@Gareth – every morning Dad and I discuss the puzzle over the phone with Mom on the extension. (You should hear these conversations – Dad has a hearing aid, and it’s like,

“No, Dad . S as in snake, A-M-E.”
“Oh. Ok. F-A-M-E.” (I have gotten his permission to relate this, lest anyone think I’m being insensitive. ;-) )

When he does well on a Wednesday, he is quite pleased, so I agree with you on that!

My favorite clue/answer – BLAM. Once every couple of years, my husband and I smoke a cigar on the deck. He always admonishes me not to inhale. And when he’s not looking I usually inhale once or twice and feel all sneaky and naughty. Hi, Mom. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I guess I knew they could explode, so with my true phobia of balloons (really a phobia of things popping unpredictably), my cigar-inhaling escapades may be over. (I can’t use this one sink at the club because the faucet blew off several months ago.)

Tried “terns” and then “ernes” before SWANS because I remembered that Tchaikovsky was a crossword nut. Seriously. Really.

Gotta cook some bacon and eggS NOW. Thanks, Ed. Your puzzles never BOAR me!

Questinia 7:17 AM  

Really?! This is a Wednesday puzzle?!
Really. Well, that's what it says.
Really! So it IS a Wednesday puzzle!

Thought it was a really, really cute Monday...

dk 7:20 AM  

Really! Tom exclaimed expectantly.


I think the real theme here is a commentary on Horoscopes. I am happy yo see my sign (BOAR) in the grid.

🌟🌟🌟( Thanks Ed)

So I go to the nursery and get a flat of Cone Flowers in my effort to create a wall of color and to keep my small town neighbors unawares. The local BIOTA in the form of devil worshiping squirrels proceed to dig them all up and gnaw upon the roots. Then the little bah-studs wave their paws with a bye your leave and a cheery: "Thanks dk!"

"I wish I drove a Scandinavian car" Tom Saabed

Norm C. 7:41 AM  

DArNED before DAMNED my only type-over.

Didn't see the "conversation" angle before coming here, but totally buy into it.

Milford 7:46 AM  

Fastest Wednesday ever. Almost filled in like a Monday for me, not really noticing the theme until afterwards.

Like @Rex, I'd put a question mark on the last Really. But I'm also having a hard time coming up with a Really! phrase that works for me. I hadn't considered the conversation idea, but it does make it sound better, IMHO.

Liked NOT BY A MILE. And I count 14 Bs - THAT CAN'T BE RIGHT, can it? Oh, yes. Really! (See I just figured out a use.)

Milford 7:54 AM  

Ok, actually I think the B count is 15.

Trudy 8:04 AM  

My immediate association for YANNI (always quoted in our house on the rare occasions his name comes up) is the "Friends" episode where Chandler is accused of being too picky about the women he dates and someone recalls he once broke up with a girl because she "didn't hate Yanni enough." Possibly the same girl Rex dated?

Anonymous 8:04 AM  

iOS is most definitely WRONG! OSX is correct.

Can't remember last time I saw "Damned" in NYTimes.

Carola 8:14 AM  

WELL, that went by fast! Liked the long downs, was lukewarm about the theme until coming here for the conversation idea - neat!

@ Milford - I was typing this on my Notepad while your post went up! As far as ABCS go, it seemed like there was A BEe everywhere I looked: BAITS, BRO, BIZ, BEST, BAMA, BIOTA, BLOAT, BOAR, BEAT, BE x2, BLABS, BOLT, BLAM, BY. Liked the MAMBA, BAMA, BLAM progression and the CRABBY SULKER.

@Rex - LOL re the Yanni CDs.

@dk - Love your Tom Swifties - also a blast (BLAM) from the past.

Damon Leo 8:22 AM  

It seemed obvious the answer was AREYOUKIDDINGME. I was so proud. My first 15 with no crossers! REALLY? Are you !#$&@# kidding me?

retired_chemist 8:33 AM  

Straightforward. OFL's easy-medium is good here.

IOS is wrong, but I got that corner entirely from downs so I didn't even see the clue OR answer until it was all over.

Writeover: (Crimson) TIDE for BAMA.

KOBE's beef is now gone - Howard signed with the Rockets.

On to Thursday.

Matty 8:36 AM  

Probably more of a Tuesday. Most people probably sailed through the SE but I had some issues with the CABBY/BIOTA/ETAT crossings. Sorted it out eventually but that was a troublesome corner for me.

Unknown 8:42 AM  

Yes, indeed, super easy but just seeing YANNI makes me laugh. And then Rex's closing line about the last time you saw a cigar explode made me literally LOL. Made up for a dull-ish puzzle. Really.

John V 9:06 AM  

Easy. YANNI in the puz proves the non-existence of any breakfast test, is what I'm sayin.

jackj 9:07 AM  

Ed Sessa could have saved a lot of ink and made his three “Really” theme entries be answered with:




Actually, the three theme entries were interesting and in the language, as were their first cousins, BEATTHERAP and NOTBYAMILE, but the rest of the puzzle, the necessary fill, was so unexciting and commonplace, it dulled the senses and negated any pleasure brought on by the theme.

Puzzles don’t succeed on theme alone and simplistic fill that might have limped out of computer software linked to the “easy” spec doesn’t fill the bill.

Can’t find a single entry that isn’t just “Monday lite”. Not one! Not BIOTA, not ADAGIO, not even SULKER or YANNI.

Were anyone’s juices stirred by AAS or ETS?

(Wait, wait, BLAM, how about BLAM?!).

‘Nuff said.

joho 9:18 AM  

I'm with @Anon. 1:30 a.m. in that the downs continue the conversation:

"NOTBYAMILE! He's back in the slammer."

I enjoyed it. Yes, it was super easy for a Wednesday, but I like the fact that @Gareth brought up that newbies might finish a mid-week puzzle for the first time. Fun!

Thanks, Ed!

Sean Dobbin 9:24 AM  

Fastest Wednesday ever for me. Actually 20 seconds quicker than this past Monday.

@Rex, I take issues with these "smart friends" re: no sequence. However, I agree with them re: the exclamation point. I feel like I've had this conversation before:

Me (in disbelief): "Really?"
Friend (confirming outrageous news): "Really."
Me (interjecting w/ surprise): "Re-e-e-all-ly!"

I guess it doesn't work as well without all the hyphens. Still cool though - something different.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

Since when is RCA a noted maker of HDTV's?

chefbea 9:29 AM  

No time to read all the posts. Will get to them later. One question...why are aries and Leo signs of fire???

Good easy puzzle

joho 9:55 AM  

Hi, @chefbea ... the Zodiac signs of Aries and Leo are "fire" signs.
Other examples: Gemini is air. Cancer is water. Taurus is earth.

Ryan M 9:56 AM  

About 90% today. Kept wanting to have FAUNA or FLORA where BIOTA is. Oh well.

Sandy K 9:56 AM  

Took this to be a conversation too-cuter if it was meant that way.

BLAM? Really?

I thought YANNI's claim to fame was his relationship with Linda Evans. Really!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:13 AM  

Hey, gang! Today is July 10, and you (should) know what that means - exactly one month until Lollapuzzoola 6!

Be there or be . . . someplace else.

OK puzzle today.

Misty water-colored memories 10:21 AM  

Ah, the years go by, the memory weakens. But I seem to recall that the last time we had a puzzle with a theme which was based on the varied inflections of a word, someone (?) posted a link to a scene from a TV show (?) in which two detectives (?) examine a crime scene (?) and all of the extended dialog consists of one word (f**k) with every possible inflection. Poster, are you still with us?

Notsofast 10:29 AM  

Very easy for a Wednesday, but I really liked it. Tip o' the hat for BLAM!

quilter1 10:31 AM  

Definitely a conversation and a good puzzle. Did it while snuggling with grandson under a quilt as he watched Spongebob. Life is good.9

quilter1 10:32 AM  

The 9 was a typo. Sorry.

Masked and Anonymo3Us 10:49 AM  

First, let me be the 100th person to say "IOS? Really?!?" har.

Real good puz. I think the really's work ok. I reckon if you stare at anything long enough, it can start to look slightly off. Like SULKER, fer instance. Go ahead. stare at it for a spell. See what I mean?

Ok, dude. That's enough eyeballin SULKER, already. Let it go. Hey! No ogling the U...

DBGeezer 10:55 AM  

I couldn't believe how I sailed through this. I thought it was a misplaced Monday puzzle. I actually did this one faster than I did the one last Monday.

Zwhatever 11:01 AM  

Brown-out at the Z residence this morning, so commenting from "work" (hard to do much while I wait for others to get their S#%t together, but here I am. At least the air is on here.).

I am waiting for the YANNI, ENYA, JOHN TESH themer.

Apple used to use Arabic numbers for their MacIntosh operating systems. With OS 10 they went RRN on us and called it OS X. This was a major rewrite of the software rather than an upgrade so it made some marketing sense, but they decided against OS XI and OS XII, etc. and went with large cat names with the 10.x numbering system remaining in use in things like System Profiler and About this Mac. I think I'm up to Mountain Lion at this point. iOS is something completely different, although there is speculation that OS X will be replaced by some future version of iOS. It is possible that the clue will be correct in some reprint version of this puzzle. Perhaps WS knows something we don't.

@dk- Are you familiar with the film "Louder than Love?"

Ellen S 11:08 AM  

Wow, I posted early yesterday and didn't check back, missed the dust-up. And then never got a chance to even comment on Tuesday's puzzle. @TachyJacky, the reason I started frequenting this blog about a year ago was that while there were disagreements, the discourse was always civil. Except for @Evil, who, it seemed, calls it like he sees it, and sees it with a jaded eye.

Or so I thought! Came to learn I had picked up the blog some time after an epic brawl between @Acme and @Rex--I believe the full story is told in the Iliad. And further discovered that @Evil doesn't think everyone is a moron, only morons. Many of the most sensitive, thoughtful and compassionate comments have been his. So I hope you'll stay with us, and weigh in at will.

Regarding the last three puzzles, I found them all easy -- typical for me, too easy to be really interesting early in the week, and then too hard to do. But I'm feeling something else. Maybe it's just me, but they all feel sort of desperate to be clever and don't really make it. Reminds me of when I used to knit. I would wait eagerly for the knitting magazines to come out, with new sweater patterns. Then I noticed the patterns all starting to look the same. And then one month, there was a sweater with one raglan sleeve, and the other sleeve MISSING. Only a long diagonal opening for the arm. And I thought, "this is what happens when you are desperate for a new design, but can't think of any." Maybe these puzzles aren't really like that; I'm just CRABBY.

Oh, @Loren, wasn't it Jesus who said, "La vie, c'est moi"? And, I don't think regular cigars explode. The exploding ones are deliberate practical jokes, with a small amount of explosive inserted at the lighting end. Less dangerous than the carcinogens in the cigar tobacco. (Except the ones the CIA legendarily tried to slip Castro, which were supposed to blow up and kill him. Assassination by exploding cigar? REALLY?)

RochesterNYPizzaGuy 11:16 AM  

I liked it. Old-fashioned? Yes, in a good way. I didn't have to spend half my time just figuring out what the hell was going on, as with too many NYT puzzles these days, IMO. Nice concise theme, well executed, which is all I want, esp. from a Wed. puzzle.

H_Bob 11:45 AM  

Misty, while I am not that poster, the scene you're referring to is in The Wire, and you can find it on YouTube by Googling (probably not from work) "The F*** Scene."

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

@Misty water-colored memories When I was fresh out of school with my shiny new Physical Therapy degree, I worked with a patient who had suffered a stroke, the kind that leaves you weak on the right side and which scrambles your language center. He had what we call a one word aphasia, and that word was f**k. (He was an old drill sergeant, so it kind of made sense.) It was touching to hear all the different inflections he used, trying to communicate with the only word he had left.
Enjoyed the puzzle. I like easy once in a while. OK, I like it whenever I can get it!

WA 11:54 AM  

Yanni sounds like a kid's euphemism for a body part. Such as "I see your Yanni,nah,nanny, nah, nah."

This week exploding cigars, next week Chinese finger torture.

okanaganer 11:56 AM  

Re IOS being just plain wrong: this is the second blatant mistake in 4 days! Remember "Diamond wts." = KTS from Sunday? Is Will slipping?

Lewis 12:34 PM  

@rex -- that was one hilarious writeup!

It really doesn't matter if the constructor meant it as a conversation or not. If you saw it as a conversation, it was a conversation!

I believe what made the puzzle relatively easy was that the cluing was easy. Nothing tricky there. Could have been a much harder puzzle with the same words but different cluing.

I do like IOS right under THATCANTBERIGHT.

Sean Dobbin 12:50 PM  


Salvatore's? Chester Cab (the best)? Mark's?

I worked for a Mark's in the area for five glorious summers (and some harsh winters...).

gifcan 12:56 PM  

Just when I thought I was doing well I discover that this is a Monday-easy puzzle. I won't give up.

Enjoyed the muses's comments and laughed out load at Trudy's Chandler/Friends reference.


LaneB 1:15 PM  

A nice straightforward edition with unforced cluing made for a fast (forme) finish Always nice to see some of the very-much used answers . They pave the way.

M and A also 3:13 PM  

@lms: Think U are on to somethin...
MANDA= 5. (revealer)
Go to it. U are out from under the bed now, ain't yah? Hope so. Harder to hear yah, from under there.


Anonymous 3:52 PM  

What possible difference does it make whether it's a conversation or not...sheesh. Talk about angels dancing on a pin!!!

Rob 4:07 PM  

iOS can run on a Mac if you're an app developer and run it in an development emulator, something Apple doesn't provide for Windows. Given the straightforward cluing of the rest of the puzzle, however, I'm not convinced that this is an intentional misdirection.

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)

Wed 7:56, 9:44, 0.82, 9%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:14, 5:38, 0.93, 32%, Easy-Medium

retired_chemist 4:58 PM  

The difference, Anon 3:52, is that some of us enjoy looking for such things in puzzles. Some, obviously including you, do not. I myself don't get much of a charge out of it but I do not feel constrained to complain about it or about those who do.

This blog is about the enjoyment the puzzle stimulates in its contributors. Your anonymous snarking indicates you do not get this.

Sfingi 5:01 PM  

@Rex - EDNA Krabappel is in a new cartoon. Simpkins is new. If it's
on tv it's new. Jeeves is old. We're still out here trying to solve puzzles. And we're codgy and delicate, so don't be so mean.

This was an easy one. Didn't notice a theme til the reread. The puzzle was thick with conversation. In the old days, Hubster's clients had BEAT THE RAP parties.

Had flOrA before BIOTA, but that would have excluded fauna.

Unknown 6:45 PM  

Easy. Bland theme, nice fill.

for those keeping score: I didn't take it as a conversation with a doubter. I took it as the different meanings of Really as indicated by the punctuation or lack thereof.

sanfranman59 10:01 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 5:34, 6:09, 0.90, 10%, Easy
Tue 7:21, 8:16, 0.89, 17%, Easy
Wed 7:56, 9:44, 0.82, 9%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:17, 3:46, 0.87, 2%, Easy (4th lowest ratio of 186 Mondays)
Tue 4:22, 4:57, 0.88, 12%, Easy
Wed 5:00, 5:38, 0.89, 20%, Easy

Zwhatever 10:14 PM  

@Rob 4:07 - Killjoy. Here we all are feeling superior because the Mighty Will Shortz let an error through, and you go and point out that it is not an error. Now we all need to be on high alert because Macs can also run all the various iterations of Windows, Unix, Linux, and probably a few I've never heard of.

acme 1:28 AM  

I didn't know who she was either...
This is what I've just learned...

Among other things her name was modeled after the teacher from "The Little Rascals"! So old it's new!

spacecraft 10:48 AM  

Sometimes ignorance IS bliss--REALLY. I never noticed that IOS might be wrong; I don't even have the slightest idea what IOS is. I thought the clue would be "Certain moths." The crosses cemented it, so I was on my merry, ignorant way.

One writeover, flOrA for BIOTA, marred an otherwise smooth sail--for the third day in a row, REALLY. It's like, Groundhog Day; we're reliving Monday over...and over...

It was fun filling in WELLILLBEDA_NED, then waiting to see if it was the G-rated R or the PG-rated M. Not by a rile? Nah. It's somewhat of an eyebrow-lift to see that epithet, mild as it is, in the paper. I guess any more, it shouldn't be. My, how this beautiful language has declined! Today, I hear as many females drop the F-bomb as guys. Makes me sad.

Captcha = 44 kgedded. Is that all you weigh, Mr. Sessa? That's like, under a cwt. Eat something!

Waxy in Montreal 12:18 PM  
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Waxy in Montreal 12:20 PM  

It's rainy and cheerless here today and unfortunately this puzzle didn't provide much solace.

Not familiar with BIOTA but it emerged from its crosses and made sense though I'm not sure it's broad enough to include Area 51 denizens.

captcha = Hydraf which sounds like something I should definitely find a way to consume on this CRABBY Krabappel day.

rain forest 1:34 PM  

I certainly saw the "theme" as a coversation, and I liked it a lot. IOS came completely from crosses, and I checked to see if it was some moon of Jupiter, or maybe a Greek god or goddess. Nope. Anyway I thought Macs ran on big cats like Leopard or Lion.

People are wondering if this is a Tuesday or Monday, even, but I checked the date. It's Wednesday.

And I really liked BLAM.

DMGrandma 2:08 PM  

Just dropping by to say "Hi!" as there doesn't seem much to say about this puzzle, though I did notice that 5 of Rex's 6 bullets referred to proper names. Just sayin....

Even the Captcha is straightforward- no challenge there, either.

Dirigonzo 2:52 PM  

First time this week I was not stymied by a confluence of proper names, so I liked that. I started out thinking the snake at 1a might be a viper and the device at 1d was going to be a vang, which is a gizmo that helps control the boom but does not support it, so I was prepared to go off on a total rant about that. Turns out it was MAMBA/MAST so rant averted. On the other hand I did not know IOS was wrong as clued so I can't even rant about that. Now I'll just have to go through the rest of the afternoon being CRABBY (had CRAnkY for a while).

Seeing CABBY reminds me there used to be a regular contributor here who was a hack (in Chicago, maybe?). @Not always right bill, or something like that hasn't been around for quite a while - I kind of miss him.

@Waxy - take heart, blue skies and fair breezes are headed your way!

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