City known as the Navel of Italy / WED 7-3-13 / Preserves on a farm / Facetious "I see" / Former chess champion Mikhail / ___ Palmas / Hydrocarbon suffix / Sitcom cook who said "Stow it!" / Does anybody read these titles?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Constructor: Pamela Klawitter

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: CORNER STORE — The circled squares in the corners spell out types of stores.

Word of the Day: CAROL ANN (36D: British poet laureate Duffy) —
Carol Ann DuffyCBEFRSL (born 23 December 1955) is a British poet and playwright. She is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, and was appointed Britain's poet laureate in May 2009.[1] She is the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly LGBTperson to hold the position.[2]
Her collections include Standing Female Nude (1985), winner of a Scottish Arts Council Award; Selling Manhattan (1987), which won a Somerset Maugham Award; Mean Time (1993), which won the Whitbread Poetry Award; and Rapture (2005), winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize. Her poems address issues such as oppression, gender, and violence, in an accessible language that has made them popular in schools. (from Wikipedia)
• • •
Neville back again; you might remember me from last Wednesday's puzzle. Where's Rex now? I'm not quite sure, but the last I heard, he was looking into some body disposal. This is a nice puzzle idea, but it really fell flat for me. First is the theme. Usually, I'd ramble on before getting to the theme, but we need to tackle this.

Theme answers:
  • DIME
That's it. I mean, CORNER STORE is right across the center as a revealer, but that's it. This is the only thematic content in the puzzle. And these are certainly all things, but aren't the last three all examples of retail stores? Was there not a fourth type that fit in a corner? You could use CORGI to hide part of GROCERY, but then what with the CERY? Oh, how about DISCOUNT? Split it at DISC and COUNT.

So with so little theme, and with what is there banished to the corners of the puzzle, we expect great fill, right? Wrong. Despite being a 78-worder, there's some questionable content in here. Partials galore! A DIMA BATAS IIT ORIS NOT. And sorry if I [take A DIM view of] this puzzle, but 5 partials is far too many for my taste. And those aren't the only "the heck is this?" entries for me. First: ENSILES. To ensile is to store in a silo; never used this word and I never expect to use it. Do farmers use this word? I'd be surprised if they regularly do. It's a terrible construction. The next whopper? -ATOR. Yes, it's a legitimate suffix, but holy crap what a choice of an entry. And it's crossing AH SO. When's the last time you heard that one? ENNA may be the Navel of Sicily, but does that mean I'm supposed to have heard of it? Population is under 30K... a quick scan of its Wikipedia page gave me nothing more exciting than this navel business, but that's not enough "crossworthiness" for me. Then -ANET.S.E. and ULT. don't make me feel any better.

On a different note, I'm surprised that Y-SHAPE is in this puzzle, as I recall a conversation about a move away from [letter]-[word] entries (see also K TILE in Scrabble or B MINOR in music). Some might argue that the Y is ambiguous here, but I think it's fine. [What a slingshot or wishbone has] pretty narrowly defines this one. Ms. Klawitter does have some fun entries in the rest of the fill, but they just can't justify all of that dreck we've already talked about. Before we get to bullets, how about a quick poll. Hands up if you thought [March V.I.P.'s?] meant the month of March instead of going for a march as SERGEANTS do. (My hand is raised so high right now.)


  • 33D: Group with two apostrophes in its name (B'NAI B'RITH) — This clue meant nothing to me at first, but after the first to letters were in, it was perfectly clear, and I loved it. B'nai B'rith is a Jewish service organization, though I know it better from crosswords. I blame my Catholic upbringing.
  • 26A: Sharpie feature (FELT TIP) — Did you write on yourself with a Sharpie, but need to get rid of it for a not date or a job interview? Just add Tabasco! (And next time, think ahead before writing on yourself with a permanent ink marker. Come on!)
  • 62A: Figurative use of a word (TROPE) — Some people fall down rabbit holes on Wikipedia where they keep clicking links from one article to the next. Others keep watching related videos on YouTube. Me? I can spend ages at TV Tropes (which isn't limited to television at all). Why not start here, and I'll see you in a few hours.
  • 11D: Landline sound (DIAL TONE)  — Here's a nice entry. Are you ready for this blast from the past? Hold on to your hats, folks. We're heading back to 1996.
Signed, Neville, Prince of CrossWorld


PLG 2:11 AM  

Well, the cross of ENSILES and INESSE positively enraged me. And is there some connection with the wording SADSONG to the songs in the clue? Seems an awful feeble construction. Ditto the Prince's points about the corners not making a proper foursome.

Anyone Corner M-els 2:16 AM  

With you ALL the way, Mr. Neville.

Before SERGEANTS emerged I'd tried Stpatrick, SERpents one letter too short.

And too many partials even for me, the partial queen!
I have never struggled more with a puzzle, but not in a good way.

Love the idea tho. But 33 theme spaces seems super light. But maybe the construction was too tricky to be otherwise.
I don't know...
it was well balanced tho with BOLSHOI, BLOWSBY, and TIPSY.

I don't like this INESSE creeping up again this week...
Yet don't want to discourage either a debut or new woman constructor...Just not enough to GNAWON.


Anoa Bob 2:24 AM  

Las enna sos ryes? Terser!

Ensiles in esse.

Tail anyone?

I like snark.

Evan 2:41 AM  

Neville said it. Theme idea is a decent one, but it doesn't take up much real estate and there's just too much dreck fill for comfort. I'd add HONI, IN ESSE, ECLAT, and AGLARE to the less-than-desirable bunch. I actually don't care for Y-SHAPE because it seems really forced. I could see someone describing something as Y-shaped, but not pointing to the object itself and saying "That's a Y-SHAPE" or "That has a Y-SHAPE." And I'll defer to others on this, but do people use AFB as a common acronym? I feel like I'd normally see it as the full Air Force Base. I might've gone with a POR/APB crossing there instead.

DOLLAR and DRUG could work as themers too, perhaps. The -LAR of the first could be the beginning of some simple term like LARGE, and DRU could rap around to some word beginning with UG- like UGLY.

Anyway, I thought this was pretty tough for a Wednesday, not least because of the odd fill. I had a different problem with 9-Down. I had SE---ANTS, and I figured that it had to do with ants. Because they march. This held me up for an uncomfortably long time. I made some other weird mistakes too. First answer from the get-go? CLAW rather than TAIL. I don't eat lobster and don't pretend to know how to eat one, so sue me. I erased it a couple seconds later when I got LAS, though.

jae 2:45 AM  

Easy for me mostly because the stuff that makes this a Wed...ENNA, ECLAT, BNAI BRITH, TAL, HONI, IN ESSE...was familiar.  ENNA, ECLAT, and IN ESSE I only know from crosswords. 

Not to pile on, but theme was ho hum, plus, as Neville pointed out, RETAIL seems out of place with the others.  And, the grid lacks ECLAT.   So....meh? 

chefwen 3:00 AM  

Wow! Not too many have chimed it yet, but I really liked it. Then again, I'm easily pleased when it comes to puzzles.

If @joho is not too busy I bet she could come up with a great story line with TIPSY/BLOWS BY/SAD SONG/ AH SO/ and WAWA. I would try but she is much more clever than I.

acme 3:40 AM  

Hmmm, not a debut , Pamela Klawitter seems to have made the clever "Separate Checks" Sunday puzzle July 31, 2011, where words were separated like BAN ANA,

I chime back in to say I put in CLAW as my first answer too...maybe we were subconsciously influenced by Pamela's last name???!

Too old to care 5:56 AM  

I thought it was Monday. Not a linguist, so INESSE was the only head scratcher. Got SERGEANTS immediately, but dislike the clue. Spent many years in the military, but never saw a parade unit composed entirely of sergeants. A better clue might have been "people I have no time for". Another easy fill was RYE even though the clue would throw a non-drinker. The first thing that would pair with Jim Beam is BOURBON, which exceeds the allocated three-letter count.

So, if today is Monday, will we be seeing Tuesday on Thursday?

Unknown 6:58 AM  

Picky I know but Jim beam is not rye, it's bourbon

Anonymous 7:00 AM  


Thoracic 7:03 AM  

Didn't enjoy it much. Kept looking at it, thinking ENSILES?? No way that can be right. Crossing INESSE was an ugly spot. Too many half phrases and weird abbrevs for me to enjoy. BLOWSBY and BNAIBRITH were nice double B's, and I would have liked a Ferris Bueller clue for ANYONE. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I've been here long enough to start suggesting clues.

Norm C. 7:04 AM  

Serious problem w/ 60A: WAWA is something a baby drinks. The guitar effect pedal is "wah wah." Google "wa wa pedal" to see what I mean.

BTW Jim Beam makes a decent RYE.

Finally, I solve using "Times Reader" which does not display circles. So had to dig for the stores. Made it more fun that way.

dk 7:26 AM  

I apologize. My Tuesday mantra seems to have had the unintended consequence of making Wednesday as bad as a typical Tuesday.

Neville (PofC) I am doing a photo series on silos (who knew there was such a passion over big tubes) and not one farmer or faux farmer has uttered ENSILES. You can be sure I will use it. Dear sir, What do you ensile? No doubt the answer will be: Fops! In ya go.

I so wanted serpents 9D.

Unlike his Nevillness I liked the theme and the use of the corners. It is the other obscure fill that brings to mind silage on a hot summer day.

🏪🏪 (2 Convenience Stores)

d(serpent in the Eden of x-word)k

Loren Muse Smith 7:31 AM  

I’m with @dk - I get a kick out of physical manipulations of letters, so themes like this always please me. And circles to boot!

@Too old to care – I, too, saw that “bourbon” wouldn’t fit there. I thought Jim Beam was a straight bourbon whisky. Whiskey.

I guess I had an honest-to-gosh Natick . For the life of me I couldn’t see the N in CAROL ANN/HONI. Plus, I had “win at” instead of WIN IT. So, @ Ryan M – for me, that’s a big dnf.

I get to crow that for some reason, my INITIAL thought was military for SERGEANTS.

I think I’ve been dealt my biggest WOE to date: TROPE. Huh? Where has this word been all my life? ENSILED in some TOWER in ENNA? I’m going to have to GNAW ON that one for a while.

DIALTONE right next to INITIAL – DIALTONEs and handkerchiefs are fast becoming anachronisms. My 18 yr. old daughter would struggle to come up with those answers.

In Chattanooga, we would put the Y SHAPEd wishbone in a juice glass in vinegar and I was always so absolutely delighted when, after a couple of days, it was all rubbery.

Speaking of my daughter - SAD SONG. Well, it’s actually a happy SONG, I guess, but when I have a wedding reception, and the father/daughter dance is to this SONG, I have to scurry to my office and stand there, fanning my face, trying not to picture my husband and daughter dancing. . .@ imsdave – I know you, now. Just don’t even watch this. (I have forgotten how to embed, and my young, hip intern is on vacation)

We had a guy at our farm “witch” for water using a Y SHAPEd peachtree limb. He let my daughter, son, and me try it out. I got nothing, but when he got behind me and put his hands firmly over mine, that &%$# Y SHAPEd limb torqued straight to the ground. I swear. It felt like creepy TONGA witchcraft. It torqued for my son without this guy’s help, and he had to go inside and lie down because it creeped him out so much.

Rex Parker 7:38 AM  

Fill is inexcusable. Glad I didn't have to blog this. Crossing fingers for my blogging return tomorrow. Thx, Neville.


Unknown 7:38 AM  

Ditto Neville.

For those Pennsylvanians, they just opened up a WAWA last week a few miles down the road from my house. It seems to have it's own gravitational force pulling you in everytime you drive past it.

66A - would have like to see clued as "when doubled, a 70s dancing machine"

Matty 7:40 AM  

Had some serious trouble in the southwest. Entered SLIPSBY which I was convinced was correct given that I'm terrible with the military abbreviations. AFS seemed completely plausible to me. Hard to climb out of that one.

Ω 8:04 AM  

The dead tree version has gray squares instead of circles. It is so much nicer to look at.

The fill didn't bother me while I solved. I just took it as a sign of my superior intelligence that I got ENSILES and IN ESSE with barely a twitch, not to mention ÉCLAT and TONGA. (I liked that TV TROPE site, Prince)

BLOWS BY FELT TIP - we have another theme.

Unknown 8:10 AM  

Super easy for me, but I agree with Neville's write-up. I grew up on an egg and dairy farm and I have never heard any farmer use the term ENSILES. That was a head-shaker. I cringe when I see circles. Once RETAIL was filled in and I got to 36A, the puzzle was pretty much over.

Wikipedia 8:16 AM  

RYE whiskey is also made by Jim Beam.

jackj 8:32 AM  

Usually, a puzzle’s reveal is the set up to trigger praise for the theme; in today’s puzzle, the theme is four rather ordinary answers seeking a raison d’etre and finding it in the reveal, the very clever CORNERSTORE.

Now, today’s fill; to continue the shopping angle, it’s the crossword equivalent of an E-Bay auction featuring entry after entry of unique treasures described with all the panache of a J. Peterman catalogue.

“Group with two apostrophes in its name” for BNAIBRITH was what immediately whet my appetite for Ms. Klawitter’s clever cluing (say that quickly).

Not to be denied, BATHE, clued as “Come clean?”, roused the creativity gene as well, while “Ending with George or James” proved a brilliant misdirection for TOWN.

Moving right along, we were treated to another clever bit as “March V.I.P.’s” just BLOWS BY the expected St. Patrick, his snakes or Eire and meets up with those tough taskmasters of the Army, drill SERGEANTS.

There were some little gems as well, notably PRY and CHAN and finally, there was the strangest clue of all, one that brought a somber note to the party with “Last Kiss” or “Tell Laura I Love Her” cluing the elegant entry SADSONG.

Some serious effort went into the cluing for today’s puzzle and I may be a party of one, but I’m willing to suffer the pangs of some less than stellar entries for the pleasure of even a few brilliant ones.

I wish Ms. Klawitter dropped in more often!

joho 8:36 AM  

@chefwen, your comments are clever and should give it go! You're halfway there with the words that spark your story.

I liked YSHAPE but it crosses AHSO: oh no!

Neville, great job!

I keep remembering what Will posted one day not too long ago: if you don't find a puzzle to your liking just wait ... one you'll love is just around the corner. (Please excuse my paraphrasing!)

evil doug 8:42 AM  

Sure glad they gave us the "Walk The Line" hint for Witherspoon; I was thinking of that other one....

Speaking of Reese, it used to be a USAF pilot training base in Lubbock, TX. We used to go up there on weekends from my training base---Webb, in Big Spring, where there wasn't even a McDonald's---because Texas Tech coeds were mighty fine....

Speaking of USAF: The B-52 Stratofortress has been in active service with the USAF since 1955, and is now expected to keep flying until the 2040's. That's some flying machine.

Pleased to see 'Charlie Chan' and 'ah, so', because before the day is over you know we'll get some PC whining going on....


mac 9:00 AM  

Ditto, your Highness. The sergeants and their clue were the highlight of the puzzle.

Aglare sounds negative, shining brightly does not, in my book. Nice, trope.

@dk: a friend travels around the world taking photographs of farm tractors. She found a surprising number of tractor museums in the US.

Hand up for claw, but maybe I WAS influenced by the name.

Hey, Rex is back!

jberg 9:07 AM  

@Evil, yeah, I thought Charlie's saying AH SO was one of the nicer touches. But what about AFB, we were counting on you to verify whether that's a common usage. I thought so, but though three of my uncles were career USAF sergeants, I've never actually heard it uttered. Written, yes.

@too old -- the clue is March VIP, which does seem to fit SERGEANTS. My first thought was basketball, but I already had the SER so it came quickly.

And yes, those are SAD SONGs - poor Tommy.

As someone pointed out WAWA is also a store, so it's sort of a flaw to have it as a non-theme answer. But it's fairly local, maybe she didn't know.

Very easy for me, but yeah, I didn't need to ESPY ORE on a Wednesday.

chefbea 9:12 AM  

Too easy for Wednesday. Never heard of wawa or Carol Ann but got them from the crosses

Masked and Anonymo3Us 9:31 AM  

I believe CHAINT store was my fave themer. Honorable mention to BFABAT store, which actually has some apostrophes in it. Kinda cute little theme. I imagine those corner dealies made fillins mighty tough to come by, there.

Fave weejects: ASI and TAL. And ULT.
Longer fillins were overall pretty good. ENSILES was yer weakest link. Kinda liked YSHAPE -- fun. ky.

@lms: Had to refurbish this here puz with the FLEAs and TICs in it. Twas sufferin bad from U-nemia. Refillin is hard to do. May need a few more days. Is FUG a word?

Yo, 4-Oh!

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Would have preferred WINIT as a partial.

Notsofast 10:12 AM  

I'm not gonna pile-on, so I'll say I liked DIALTONE, TSHAPE, HONI, and GNAWON. Thank you, P.K.

Newbie 10:25 AM  

DNF, as I didn't know AFB, so had Flows By instead of Blows By. Also had Etna for Enna, so just couldn't get Anyone! Ouch.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  


Unless it's for religious reasons, do yourself a favor and try some lobster. It's pretty damn good.
As for AFB, it's used all the time. But it's not an acronym, just initials. It's not only a distinction worth knowing, but respecting as well

evil doug 10:42 AM  

For those in the Air Force, 'AFB' is rarely uttered because it's understood. "I'm flying to Travis," "Just got my orders to Offutt", so forth. But in any formal publications or documents, the AFB initials are universal.


Two Ponies 10:43 AM  

Pretty bland fare.
Like @ED I smiled at Ah so and Charlie Chan. Surely he is the reason we know ah so?
Trope was new to me. Don't know if I'm brave enough to try Neville's link. I waste enough time as it is.
Wawa is some Indian tribe's word for Canadian Goose and a small town in Ontario.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:44 AM  

Neville, you were so right about those TV tropes - started reading, and . . . Is it still Wednesday?

Ryan M 10:44 AM  

DNF - about 60% through for today.

Loren Muse Smith 10:46 AM  

@M & A - I'm itchin' to see your FLEA puzzle.

A FUG is a guy who hangs out in an alley and accosts people who are on their way to speech ferapy.

M and A also 10:49 AM  

@Evil dude: Yep. Mighty fine. Married one. If ever back in Lubbock for old times sake -- after U do the MacDonalds -- visit the Buddy Holly museum. Can't miss it. Giant pair of black glasses in their front yard. Took the BH computer quiz; humbling.

Go Red Raiders.

Ah. Soooo... Back to the puz. More I stare at it the more it grows on me. Keep it up, PamK.

Unknown 11:02 AM  

Even after completing the puzzle, I only saw serge ants and wondered what kind of ants wore serge.
I don't think silos preserve anything, they store it.

Evan 11:03 AM  

@Anonymous 10:27:

It's not for any religious reason. My wife let me try one that she was eating and I didn't like the taste.

But you're right -- AFB is an initialism, not an acronym. Either way, I don't recall seeing it very much.

evil doug 11:32 AM  

Why, yes, U-boy, I believe I remember your wife on one of my jaunts to Lubbock---you chose quite well....

One of my first solo cross-country flights in the ROTC Cessna 150 flight initiation program was from Des Moines to Mason City. That was the scene, of course, of the sad 'day the music died'. The Surf Ballroom at nearby Clear Lake, where they had played, is still there. Bit of trivia: Dion was one of the folks hoping to get on that flight, but he couldn't afford the $36. I made it in and out on a much nicer winter day than they confronted, sadly Buddy and the others didn't.

Somebody mentioned 'AFS'---Air Force Station. An Air Force Base is designed for aircraft operations; an AFS doesn't have an aircraft operating area, and is generally used for support with non-flying stuff like radar, supply, communications, so forth.


Miette 11:49 AM  

My brother and his daughter danced to this song six years ago when she got married. What a tear-jerker. My brother is a "gruff" type of a guy, but I did see tears coming down his face during their daddy/daughter dance.

Unknown 12:01 PM  

Just a musician's note. "Wawa" is a town in Ontario named after Ojibwe word the Canada goose. The guitarists' pedal is universally known as a "wah-wah" pedal.

Lewis 12:02 PM  

Had no problem with the theme answers, didn't find them inconsistent. They can all be followed by "store" and that's good enough for me.

This puzzle made me think, which is good, but it didn't have a big fun factor, which is not.

DIALTONE crossing MAIL -- two shrinking phenomena. A statement can be TERSER but not more to the point, "Shorter" or something with that meaning would have been a better clue. Haven't thought about ELOISE in a long while, she makes me smile, and I like her there ALONE in the TOWER. And I like ADMIT crossing GUILT.

Evan 12:17 PM  


It's definitely possible. But I don't think I saw who wrote the puzzle until I was halfway done with it.

Benko 12:30 PM  

@m&a and @loren
FUG is the word Norman Mailer used in the Naked and the Dead to replace another F word. There was a band in the 60s who named themselves the Fugs after the euphemism.

NDE 12:38 PM  

...leading Dorothy Parker to describe Mailer as "the man who can't spell 'f∪ck'"...

I enjoyed the puzzle largely thanks to guessing 36A:CORNER_STORE from just the shading, entering it without crosses when DIME turned up in one corner, and smiling when the unlikely 33D:BN... cross was explained by the clue. Yes, some weak fill elsewhere (though 25:IS_NOT is not really a partial, any more than 7D:TOWN is), but not enough to fatally mar the experience. Thanks, PK (and WS).


Paul Keller 1:11 PM  

I found this on par for a Wednesday in terms of difficult and pleasure. Maybe a little on the easy side. I saw through the March V.I.P.s misdirect pretty quickly.

Of all the mounds of criticism that have been heaped on this puzzle, the nitpick that struck me most does not appear to have been mentioned. An OAR is not per se a boat turner, although it can be used or rigged that way.

foxaroni 1:19 PM  

I don't do the puzzle until 10:30 a.m. or later. I figure everyone who's going to comment has done so and gone by then, so I don't often add a comment.

Puzzle-wise, 1D TERSER and 54A SLIER are forms of words that are irritating to me. 5D IN ESSE, 29A ECLAT and 24A ENSILES are simply words with which I am unfamiliar. No big deal. And does it really matter whether 60A WAWA is a town in Ontario or spelled with a hyphen?

What really surprised me was the lack of grousing about the cluing of 52A SAD SONG. "Last Kiss" by J. Frank WIlson and the Cavaliers charted in 1964, reaching #2 on Billboard . Ray Peterson did "Tell Laura I Love Her" in 1960, reaching #7. (I'm sure YouTube videos are available for both.) That's 49 and 53 years ago. Is everyone that familiar with these two tear-jerker oldies?


MetaRex 1:28 PM  

Not dissenting from the grumpiness expressed by Neville, Rex, and plenty of others about the fill...stuff like the ENSILES/IN ESSE combo that is EZ if unaesthetic for CW insiders is a really annoying land mine for real people...


Gotta say I had a v. nice "ah what a dummy!" solving experience with CAROL ANN, CHRIS, and SERGEANTS.

Had CAROLINE for the poet at first...could not see CAROLA-N as CAROL A-N and thus saw the crossing w/ HONI as a true Natick when it was actually a faux or dumbness Natick.

Sorta persuaded myself for a while that there's a giant rock on a Hollywood hill somewhere near the sign...

Had FLAT TIP instead of FELT TIP for the Sharpie clue and just could not see SERGEANTS for the longest time...much appreciated being fooled by the v. nice clue when the right answer finally bubbled up.

Ω 1:42 PM  

@foxaroni - Tuesday's post, for example, had @SanFranMan59's stats posted at 1:35 a.m. on Wednesday, @acme commenting at 12:57 a.m. Wednesday, and there will be a whole bunch of fresh insight in five weeks. Don't be holding out on us.

@NDE - Hah!

@Evil - I don't want you to feel let down so... I was deeply offended by the illin use of AH SO. What's next - Some hammish white dude playing Tonto in whiteface? All I'm saying is that it just AIN'T right.

LaneB 1:44 PM  

Shouldn't have taken me so long--but it did. Labored over AGLARE and WAWA, BLOWSBY and WINIT. The INESSE and ENSILES cross gave me trouble, too. For no good reason I just didn't like this puzzle, though I thought it was cleverly constructed [he said condescendingly.]

Bird 1:47 PM  

Easy for me today. Having the themes at the CORNERs limits the count to four, which is too bad because they were not sparkling IMO. Much better if they were all 6- (BIG BOX) or 8- (DISCOUNT) letter entries. Mentally noted “lots of partials” as I was entering the 4th or 5th partial, but not really complaining. SUGAR before GUILT and DRUNK before TIPSY, which leads to Jim Beam. I also thought they only made bourbon, but learned they also make RYE.

Uh oh, guess what day it is. Guess what day it is. Huh? Anybody? Happy Humpday!

U-boy 1:53 PM  

@lms: Well, get ready to scratch. Thanx to @Benko, the upper quadrant is now solid and U-ful. I mean, Michael Sharp could do better, but fug it. I'm playin single-A ball, here.

@evil duck macpilot: har.


acme 2:10 PM  

Yes, this puzzle has been growing on me slightly in that I'm still thinking about it. I was trying to figure out if you could make DEPARTMENT work.
DEPART across, TMEN going down and then something on the bottom would have to have an *TN* in the word like ATTN.

Like it, but How do you make BIGBOX work?
I mean, once I tried to figure out how she constructed this, it became a lot more impressive!

Sandy K 2:30 PM  

I liked the idea of the theme, but my choice of CORNER STOREs would've been CANDY, DELI, BAKERY, DRUG, and CHINESE TAKE-OUT.


@lms- cute pic of airport feature?

Charley 2:35 PM  

As has been said already, any good drinker knows Jim Beam is bourbon. Very sloppy. If you don't know look it up. Annoyed me throughout the puzzle. And across lite ddnt have the circles but still easy.

Bird 2:49 PM  

@ACME – Might need to do some minor reconstruction, but this is the best I could come up while also trying to get some work done at the office.

In the NE corner . . .


BIG B could be clued as “Letter at Fenway”?
All we need then is to connect to the rest of the grid.

Upon further thought, 7 or 9 letter answers are even better. That way we have an even number of shaded, or circled, letters across and down.

Jim Beam 2:56 PM  

Though we are famous for our boubons, we do make a nice RYE.

Description: Drier and spicier than its sweet Bourbon cousins, Rye adds character and depth to any whiskey cocktail. Pairs especially well with fruit flavors.

Carola 3:00 PM  

Liked it. Got the theme with DIME (having abandoned 1A when "claw" didn't work) and filled in CORNER STORE with a smile. Have to say that the reveal didn't help me with the other corners, though.

ALONE and DIALTONE could go in a SAD SONG: Sitting by the phone, waiting for a certain someone to call, phone never rings, maybe it's out of order? Check for DIAL TONE. Or maybe I'm the only one who ever did that.

High point: got SERGEANTS right away from the clue. Low point: DNF (HONa x WIN aT).

Sfingi 3:12 PM  

Wasn't sure if I got SERGEANTS. Din't know WAWA, BETA or Duffy.

Otherwise, good puzzle, especially location of answers.

Last night I heard the squirrel dishes rattling and wondered what night critter was into peanuts. It was white and fluffy, with a huge tail but small head with some black on the face. I searched images and - it's a white skunk!

Jimmy Buffett 3:16 PM  

@Carola - I have a song titled, "If The Phone Doesn't Ring, It's Me"

Sad, isn't it?

Sandy K 3:28 PM  


FOR sure you're NOT the ONLY one who did that! WA-WA : (

sanfranman59 4:02 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 9:59, 9:44, 1.03, 60%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:21, 5:38, 1.13, 81%, Challenging

retired_chemist 4:35 PM  

Puzzle was OK but was kinda foggy. I did it while coming out of the anesthesia from a colonoscopy. You too should have one every five years if you are 50 or over. Ask for Propofol if your doctor and anesthesiologist will use it. Good stuff properly administered, even if misuse was Michael Jackson's undoing.

Never saw Mamma Mia. CURTER (after CLAW for 1A) and TARTER (after I figured out TAIL) left TOS (WTF) instead of SOS, which I had an ungodly time seeing. Otherwise routine.

Thanks,Ms. Klawitter.

ACME 5:19 PM  


OK, I'll see your BIGBOX (Altho BIGB is precisely my point, it's hard to come up with stores that worked,
HAS TO BE LONG ENOUGH TO SPLIT UP AND HAVE THE ACROSS WORD be a stand alone (oops on caps lock). It's tricky.
so she did a good job.

Here is my stab at DEPARTMENT




- - A T T N

acme 5:20 PM  

THat didn't come out right>



Ellen S 5:21 PM  

@Retired_Chemist - you what? I had a colonoscopy last week and slept the whole rest of the day. Is that the difference between Midazolam/Versed and Propofol? Or that I'm going to be 70 years old in 2 weeks? I hate the amnesia either way, but this time wasn't so bad, in that I was only mind-wiped from when they opened the spigot on the Versed to when I woke up. Other times I have lost all memory back to some time before administration of the drug. One time, the last thing I remembered was walking in to the clinic. Phooey on that. (Maybe those times they used Propofol?)

I did today's puzzle awake and not on drugs, but it was like I had lost the last 20 years (as Prince Neville implied). Real farmers don't ENSILE anything, but Crossworld ones used to do so routinely. Same like Crossworld Colliers enter the mines through an ADIT. Not that the puzzle was completely easy; I had a few writeovers, but for people who saw those clues a million times a few decades ago, it was certainly familiar territory. I was started by @Sanfranman59's rating of challenging. But I guess it's because so many solvers are younger than I am.

Sad commentary on my habits that I knew HONI was Hagar's daughter. Um... I only read the funnies becauses they're on the same page as crossword puzzle?

@Charlie, you shoulda done what you told others to, and looked it up. Or read the earlier posts -- several people were surprised to find that Jim Beam does make a Rye. Because they ... looked it up.

Welcome back, Rex.

Carola 6:00 PM  

@Jimmy Buffet and @Sandy K - :)

ANON B 6:34 PM  

As I have said before, part of the pleasure I get from doing xwords is admiring the cleverness of the constructors. This one accomplishes
I have also complained about nit picking. I guess you have to
do that to write an analysis of
a puzzle, but it a little aggravating.
And I still think that nit picking should be hyphenated.

ANON B 6:40 PM  

To PLG(First comment):
The use of ensiles and in esse
really enrages you? You have to
be kidding. Or at least you should

acme 9:15 PM  

Excellent and timely!!!
She was lucky it was drunk driving and not coke...wither/spoon she would never have lived down the jokes!

acme 9:15 PM  

Excellent and timely!!!
She was lucky it was drunk driving and not coke...wither/spoon she would never have lived down the jokes!

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

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

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

Mon 5:45, 6:12, 0.93, 16%, Easy
Tue 7:59, 8:19, 0.96, 37%, Easy-Medium
Wed 9:55, 9:44, 1.02, 59%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:31, 3:49, 0.92, 13%, Easy
Tue 5:01, 5:00, 1.01, 53%, Medium
Wed 5:58, 5:38, 1.06, 67%, Medium-Challenging

Unknown 1:48 AM  

OK Norn C...Jim Beam does make a rye...however I've tended bar for 40 years and no one has ever asked for it nor has any bar carried it. If you ask for Jim Beam, you get bourbon

Anonymous 5:07 AM  

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RonL 12:23 PM  

I never even heard the words INESSE or ENSILES, let alone know their meanings. Not very happy about these. However, worse clues: 60a (part of a guitarist's pedalboard) is not a WAWA; it's a WAH or WAHWAH. Then worse, WAWA is a convenience store, but it's not in one of the corners (like the other CORNERSTORE answers). And who uses SLIER; doesn't everyone say SLYER? And although an OAR can be used as a boat turner, that's far-fetched; a RUDDER or TILLER is a boat turner.

spacecraft 11:35 AM  

"Curmudgeon Central" here: Everything our guest head blogger said plus: NOTATE. This is a word; I looked it up. "To put into notation." Obviously this is a back-formation--it was formated back! Word or not, we don't NOTATE anything, ever. We simply note it.

I couldn't agree more; with but 33 squares devoted to the OK theme, we expect better fill. And yes, the expression "retail store" does sound suspect; perhaps it is a retail green paint store.

Not even the whisper of a challenge here; feels more like a Monday. The first clue that caught my eye was 52a; those two great oldies were in my growing-up wheelhouse. I first thought: TRAGEDY, but I always spot-check a down before inking; in this case the ice cream cookies would have to end in G. Um, guess not. SADSONG, along with FELTTIP and BLOWSBY, would have made a fine quartet if not for ENSILES. These and the long downs SERGEANTS and BNAIBRITH are the high points. Too many low points pull them down, IMHO. I did not(at)e the mini-theme of SERGEANTS/GENERAL.

Waxy in Montreal 12:10 PM  

TONGA TANGO and MALI MAIL would have been cool bleedovers from yesterday's fun puzzle.

Took it on the CHIN, foundering on the mini-reef of ENNO/LOS after guessing correctly at INESSE and ENSILES. WAWA.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

In answer to the question at the top: yes, I do read the titles.

Cary in Boulder 1:08 PM  

Guess I'm the only one who went with SOB SONGS for those two ditties that I am, sadly, old enough to remember.

Had to Google ANNA to see if it was a town in Sicily. Lack thereof brought me to the right umbilicus.

When I want to drink RYE, I usually go with Bulleit. Probably the best cocktail using the stuff would be the Sazerac, a New Orleans specialty.

All in all, I thought this was pretty weak for a Wednesday, but I seem to have lots of company there. My paper version had neither circles nor shaded areas, but it hardly mattered.

Speaking of DIAL TONE ... the other day I was agitatedly awaiting a call back from my doctor for several hours. Finally, I picked up the phone and you can guess what was not there. Seems like I had placed one of our phones slightly askew in its cradle and it had been off the hook all that time. Doh!

Ginger 1:49 PM  

Trying to get my crossword chops back, but still got hung up in the SE. Never heard of a WAWA pedal, and thought of many kinds of 'pools', but unfortunately GENE was not one of them, so DNF.

Agree that there was a lot of substandard fill, but there's also a lot of interesting entries ie: BNAIBRITH, DIALTONE, SERGEANTS, (they teach marching) and BOLSHOI. While on vacation I saw the Ballet in St. Petersberg Russia. I understand it's close in quality to the BOLSHOI. The 'theater' was spectacular.

It's good to be home.

Solving in Seattle 2:19 PM  

Like @Gary, the Seattle Times puzzle lacked both circles and shaded squares, so in the dard re the theme until I came to Rexville. Despite being in the dark, I kind of liked this CW.

Off to cruise in @Rain Forest waters for the next week. See you Syndies next week.

Capcha: vbroada. another part of a guitarists options? (Best I can do, sorry.)

Solving in Seattle 2:20 PM  


Dirigonzo 2:40 PM  

Say what you will about the fill but I managed to get it all in the grid with no errors/write-overs so I AINT gonna criticize. Lobster TAIL and claw are equally succulent so I waited for a couple of crosses to choose one.

Jim Beam makes a mighty fine whiskey but it's beyond my budget (and it's not even regarded as a pricy bourbon).

I think it was Dave Barry who wondered, after having a colonoscopy, why Propofol wasn't part of his daily life.

I prefer the CORNERSTORE over mall shopping. Seems like "hardware" should have been one of the corners, though. I'm not sure where you'd split it but that's the constructor's problem, not mine.

rain forest 3:18 PM  

There was some good stuff in here, and some not so good stuff, as has been made abundantly clear. Hey, @Spacecraft, I laughed at "green paint store". Nobody NOTATEs. They might make notations, though.
I call BOLSHOI on NOTATE. Also the TIPSY entry was somehow off. You have to be tipsy and driving to risk a DUI, no? Nevertheless, a reasonable Wednesday which I finished reasonably quickly.

@SIS - enjoy the Gulf Islands, and, I presume, the San Juans.

DMGrandma 3:30 PM  

For me, this puzzle was full of familiar words I have seen only in puzzles. Then my Captcha turns out to be "esopast"! Must have read my mind!

No circles or shading in my paper, but the reveal wasn't necessary, or really understood, until I checked in here. A couple of pauses for thought were the songs, but the titles say it all, and the WAWA, which filled itself. I thought that expression was use with horns? So, like yesterday's "a Tuesdayish puzzle".

@Ginger: welcome back.

I'll try to not repeat myself today!

Solving in Seattle 4:34 PM  

@rain forest, thanks. Headed to Desolation Sound.
@Diri, my first entry was claw, definitely the most succulent part of the bug.

Texas Syndy Solver 1:18 AM  

I disagree on NOTATE, I use it at work often. "Don't forget to NOTATE the file" is heard a lot.

lene 5:56 AM  

My paternal grandmother preferred the claw. I say succulent lobster piece is lobster. lol. Trying to sign in to this blog, which I take great pleasure in, but I'm syndicated in Seattle....feel like I'm a step (as in 5 weeks) behind. Anyway, in addition to my lobster comment, I was so pleased to read the Wawa comments re: Wawa, Ont. Paternal grandfather had a cousin who lived there. There's a great big statue of a goose in town, which is the first thing I thought of, writing in that answer (never mind the clue)...that, and some very special memories of childhood vacations with my grandparents. Oh, and the puzzle. Fine by me.

Solver Twist 11:18 PM  

The local paper carrying the NY Times Puzzle (Baltimore Sun) didn't even bother to include the circles (or shaded squares as it said in 36 Across) with the grid it printed. That made it impossible to figure out what the theme answers were unless I came to this site.

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