Glenn Close title role / THU 7-11-13 / US city named for Tennyson character / Queen in Three Musketeers / Tony winner Carriou / Nast's symbol for Tammany Hall / Gray in novel painting / Craters of Moon National Monument locale

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Constructor: Henry Hook

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: balls — theme clues are related to things associated with 3, 4, and 5 balls, respectively

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Many traditionally have three balls (PAWN SHOP SIGNS)
  • 35A: What four balls may let you do (WALK TO FIRST BASE)
  • 52A: Gizmo often with five balls that demonstrates conservation of momentum and energy (NEWTON'S CRADLE)

Word of the Day: MIELE (8A: Vacuum cleaner brand) —
Miele (pronounced 'mee-luh') is a German based manufacturer of high-end domestic appliances, commercial equipment and fitted kitchens, based in GüterslohGermany. Miele has always been a family-owned and -run company, founded in 1899 byCarl Miele and Reinhard Zinkann. [...] 
Miele's first products were a cream separator, butter churn, and tub washing machine, under the Meteor brand. (wikipedia)
• • •

What a strange, loose, weird, entertaining puzzle. I had to ask friends "is there a theme, uh, beyond the balls, as it were"? Looks like no, but I strangely I don't care. I'll take increasing number of ball themes if the answers are this interesting and the fill is this solid. Two exceptions—WALK TO FIRST BASE doesn't exactly jump off the page and kiss you on the mouth. Kind of limp and not in-the-language. But it fits the theme fine and the other two theme answers are interesting, so no big deal. Other exception, in the fill—MIELE? Never heard of it. This doesn't necessarily make it bad fill, but it is bad fill. An uncommon proper noun / brand name in an area that could've been filled a ton of different ways?! Why? There's also LEN (11D: Tony winner Cariou) and IN ONE up there. Not sure why that corner is so weak when virtually everything else is so tight. Anyway, cluing was toughish and odd (at times) and fill was mostly very strong. This puzzle is my kind of wacky.

I should add that the puzzle was In No Way in my wheelhouse and yet my pleasure was diminished not one or two IOTAS. Never heard of MAXIE (31D: Glenn Close title role), didn't know a NEWTON'S CRADLE was called that, had no idea what's in an ALEXANDER, never heard of MIELE (clearly), no idea what the hell SAMP is (I'd've gone with NFL All-Star Warren SAPP in that spot) (1D: Hominy cereal), didn't know what "Lyonnaise" meant, Don't remember Queen ANNE from "Three Musketeers," etc. But struggling against a devious, talented, and ALIEN mind can be a great treat, and today, the puzzle was easy enough in other places that I didn't feel brutalized. I just felt like I got a healthy and enjoyable Thursday work-out. I am at least a little stunned that Will allowed a purely cryptic clue into the puzzle (10D: Pepsi-Cola mix?=>EPISCOPAL). I don't know if I've ever seen that before. Violates so many rules—mainly, that there be a definition of the word, like, somewhere. Anywhere. So weird. It's just a "mix" of the letters in "Pepsi-Cola." I guess when you are crossword royalty, you can get away with crazy whimsical crap like that. What a world.

I know my Tennyson, so ENID was easy (14A: U.S. city named for a Tennyson character). I can see how that clue might be rough for some. The word "modernspeak" makes me miss yesterday's "toondom," which I would've thought impossible (17A: Self-referential, in modernspeak=>META). Managed to remember the phrase "TIGER of Tammany Hall" (26D: Nast's symbol for Tammany Hall)—NAST himself is someone I learned of first thought crosswords. I still remember the clue [Tweed twitter Thomas]. Things I learned today include the fact that the Craters of the Moon National Monument locale is IDAHO and the fact that Mandela co-wrote a book with CASTRO (45D: World leader who co-wrote the book "How Far We Slaves Have Come!" with Mandela). Also, YOWZAH sometimes has an "H." Only 80K Google hits to non-"H"'s 1.2 million, but ... It's Out There!
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    jackj 12:02 AM  

    What a pleasant surprise; a Henry Hook Thursday special!

    Being familiar with Henry’s penchant for trickery I was prepared to see Henry take his ball and go home but thankfully he stayed through the fifth iteration of this excellent puzzle.

    (For an intimate image of Henry Hook, solvers are urged to visit XWordInfo and click on the blank grid, (where a photo is usually found), to reveal his picture).

    Now, if anyone is unfamiliar with Crossworld’s favorite curmudgeon and his wonderful deviousness, just think about “Pepsi-Cola mix?” and ask yourself if the anagram EPISCOPAL is the first thing that comes to mind? (Thought not).

    The theme, presenting things that relate to 3, 4 and 5 balls, performs flawlessly and familiarly, though NEWTONSCRADLE is more likely to be remembered as that swinging steel ball, kinetic thingy that often decorates executive desks in lieu of a pen set.

    Highlights in the puzzle include the odd factoid that Fidel CASTRO and Nelson Mandela once wrote a book together; that in Hook-land you don’t “Decorate”, you FESTOON and why bother with “Indubitably” when you only need holler YES.

    Henry is in fine form with today’s puzzle and as evidence that he is a man for all seasons, not many can have DORIAN Gray, DEANRUSK, J.K. Rowling’s MUGGLE(s), Rihanna’s SOS, LEN Cariou, a POLECAT, a TIGER, Laura NYRO and Glenn Close’s MAXIE mingling in such seeming harmony.

    YOWZAH, Henry, you da man!

    jae 12:09 AM  

    This was awfully easy for a Hook puzzle.  A friend of mine emails me The Boston Globe Sunday puzzle every week and Hook's are usually tricky.  Henry likes to give you one or two WOE crosses just to let you know you aren't as smart as you thought you were.  This one not so much.  The WOEs MIELE, MAXIE, and SAMP were about as tricky as it got for me and the crosses were all pretty easy. 

    Great grid with some zippy stuff and an oddly interesting theme @Rex.  So, liked it, but, like yesterday's,  a tad too easy.

    Anonymous 12:13 AM  

    Crazy week. Yet another lightning fast time. Didn't better my Thursday time, but came pretty close. The MIELE / LEN cross hung me up just a bit. Never in my life heard of MIELE, but it looks like they've been around forever. Somehow knew LEN as crosswordese and avoided bEN.

    First theme that I've like this week, and I liked it a lot. Ain't no Thursday theme though; Wednesday at most.

    Low junk factor. NYRO was awful. ENID, ORA and ENNA were unfortunate, but that's about it.

    SAMP was interesting.

    retired_chemist 12:18 AM  

    A fun puzzle, for all the reasons OFL and jackj said. I rate it easy.

    10D - cute clue. had me going for a while. Didn't know MUGGLE/MIELE, so that was a Natick I successfully navigated. Nor ONIONY Lyonnaise. Nor that CASTRO co-authored with Mandela. Come to think of it, this was a puzzle that needed crosses and pattern recognition in a lot of places for a successful solve.

    Theme - fun. Nice to know that NEWTON'S CRADLE has a name. Too bad Mr.Hook couldn't have somehow worked zero, one, and two balls in there. A familiar WW II song would do the trick.

    Thanks, Mr.Hook.

    Things I learned today 12:27 AM  

    Oddly or not, SAMP is the same as MEILE meal, though not as chopped.

    Clark 12:40 AM  

    There was some weird tough stuff sprinkled about, but with some KNEADing everything fell into place. MIELE was the first 5-letter vacuum that came to mind (it's the brand we have), though I didn't write it in until I saw MUGGLE because I am more accustomed to finding Oreck in the puzzle.

    I liked it, even if it is Thursday and we didn't get a rebus.

    Martin 12:51 AM  

    I'm not sure that the "Pepsi-cola mix" clue is that unorthodox. We often have "anagram of" clues and the only difference here is the cryptic anagram signal. The entire Sunday, April 7, 2013 theme was "Apt anagram for." None of these clues contain a straight definition of the entry.

    The entry ANAGRAM is fodder for some great clues. I'm ashamed to say that BEQ got me recently with "Oral sex for Axl Rose." When a couple of crossings revealed ANAGRAM it was a real "Doh!"

    Questinia 12:56 AM  

    My last fill was UNPEG (left off the hook). Apt given the name of the constructor.

    Only word I didn't know was MUGGLE so this puzzle posed no real challenge... But I did briefly have Eve instead of EGG (early bird) because by then I had mixed Pepsi-Cola into EPISCOPAL and was expecting more kookiness.

    john o'toole 12:57 AM  

    I liked the symmetry of INONE and INTWO, very clever and pleasantly off-putting. INONE is a knee-jerk answer I held off on, thinking, "no way he'll do that just after INTWO" but he did, and the double fake-out was nice. (Note: I solve on iPhone, so I usually do my first run across then down, and focus on segments after filling in what I can cross-free.)

    Greg Charles 1:13 AM  

    I knew Newton's Cradle and Muggle, so my natick was LEN/MIELE. I thought everyone would get stuck there. Just me, huh?

    Steve J 1:39 AM  

    After a week of weak themes, this was delightful (not just because the clues set my inner 12-year-old off). I picked up NEWTONSCRADLE uncrossed (I don't know why I remember that that's what those things are called, but I don't really get why I remember so many of the oddball things I do manage to call up with minimal prompting), so having that in place helped the lower half of the puzzle come together for me.

    The NE, however, killed me. I've never read Harry Potter (and have zero desire to), so I couldn't do anything with 8D (although, oddly, after I put down the puzzle for a couple hours to finish my book - "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves" by Karen Joy Fowler, which is fantastic - MUGGLE occurred to me when I saw that I did have the -GLE in place). That M finally got me MIELE (which I do know, but I was distracted for quite a while in that corner when I initially put DYSON). Finally managed to piece things together, although even after getting 10D I had no clue what the connection was between EPISCOPAL and Pepsi ("mix" didn't connote anagram to me, but I may just not be familiar with the common parlance to those puzzles; I don't do anagrams, as for whatever reason my brain just really doesn't process things very well in that realm).

    Otherwise, great fill, great clues, and one of the things I love most with doing crosswords: being able to chip away at things so that items I had no idea on (almost literally the same ones Rex mentioned) still fell into place. Very fun.

    gifcan 1:45 AM  

    I own a MIELE but never heard of NEWTONSCRADLE.

    Do WOE and OFL and BEQ stand for something? I'm new here. What else should I know?

    jae 2:49 AM  


    WOE = What On Earth. A more polite WTF.

    OFL = Our Fearless Leader = Rex Parker = Michael Sharp

    BEQ = Brendan Emmet Quigley. If you are interested in doing some very tough envelope pushing puzzles type his named into Google.

    Hope this helps.

    syndy 3:04 AM  

    MIELE/LEN was my last entry but I guessed correctly.Laura NYRO is SO not awful!I had enough crosses that pepsicola solved itself.Clean fresh but just a tad too easy.

    Anemia Castro Muggles 3:05 AM  

    PEPSICOLA anagram to EPISCOPAL is all the more incredible because BRITNEY SPEARS who used to hawk it anagrams into PRESBYTERIANS.
    I've made two different puzzles about that freaky fact.

    This was lots of fun, tho I suspect WALKTOFIRSTBASE would have been given more flak if it had been anyone other than the Henry Hook.

    Most of the Scrabble crunchiness came at the back end of the alphabet. 5Ws, 3Xs, 3Ys, 1Z

    I didn't know ANCHOS, MIELE and tried MOA/ROC before EGG...somehow I remembered LEN and DEANRUSK. helps to be une femme d'un certain age.

    Julie CHEN much in the news because many BIg Brother castmembers have been making homophobic, racist remarks...including a slew of anti-Asian remarks, even tho they will have to face Julie upon eviction, that should be awkward.

    FESTOON and NODOZ take the cake!
    Never noticed there was both INONE and INTWO which is a nice intro to three, four, five balls.

    chefwen 3:16 AM  

    I have heard of Brandy Alexanders but never a Gin one. Just looked up a recipe and it looks like something that would make your hair curl. YEECH! Pass.

    Must have been off my game tonight, I chalked it up to med/difficult. Quite a few unknowns to me 61A Big Brother Host, never have seen it. MIELE vacuum, never heard of it. My favorite uncle Google assisted me with those. MIELE had quite a few whacky products before the vacuum.

    It was a fun puzzle and a lot more challenging (for me)than the last few days.

    Gareth Bain 4:58 AM  

    I think I may have an idea why MIELE appears where it does. It has never been used before; neither has MUGGLE from what I can see. It's the type of thing I've got flak for myself... That said HH is on record for saying something to the effect that he likes adding less common answers to make a puzzle harder. I may have misremembered though...

    Loren Muse Smith 5:10 AM  

    “Slip” for SKID as my first entry was a SIGN. Also an early “vestoon,” “nerd” for WIMP, and “pollute” for POLECAT all just mucked up everything and I was too VEXed to try to finish. In addition to PAWN SHOP SIGNS and NEWTON’S CRADLE, there was just too much in this puzzle that I didn’t know. So I’m jealous of all of you who found this easy. I feel like a MUGGLE in a world of wizards.

    Didn’t know ONIONY but sheesh someone at work yesterday could have used a piece of gum. LETHAL. Really.

    We bought a KIA Sorento after the transmission in our Volvo XC90 died at 100,000 miles and the dealership offered us no help in the $7500 repair. Let me tell you – I. Love. This. KIA. So much more than that @$%#& Volvo.

    @chefwen – I’ve never heard of a gin ALEXANDER, either, but, hey, if it’ll make my hair curl, I’m game.

    @M & A from yesterday. Clever idea. I’ve decided you are still someone famous, but famous to us. I think you’re Patrick B. ;-)

    Henry Hook – very nice puzzle, even though I couldn’t finish.

    I skip M-W 5:42 AM  

    My fastest Thurs time that I can recall. Was this because I had just been using a Miele to vacuum up spiderwebs? There were only three Secs of state in all the sixties. Christian Herter, Dean Rusk, and I think William Rogers, but Rusk was in for 8 of the ten years, and helped keep the war in Nam going.
    @ Loren muse smith: my 98 Volvo is in the shop tonight, but I still love it. Keep your Kia.

    John Child 5:46 AM  

    Four puzzles in a row with major proper noun Natick potential. (PNNP? LOL) Two of them had editing errors as well. Is Will on vacation this week?

    GILL I. 6:19 AM  

    Yegads, and here I was looking for polyorchidism....
    Like @chefwen and @LMS I didn't find this all that easy. As usual I had trouble with names like MUGGLE, MAXIE CHEN and EDNA.
    I had no idea that CASTRO was a slave or that an ALEXANDER can also be made without brandy.
    Loved the anagram for EPISCOPAL..(thought of you right away ACME)
    SAMP sounds just plain UGLY but I do love me some cheesy grits.
    Off to lick my wounds.

    Matty 6:59 AM  

    What a fantastic puzzle. Especially the brutal Pepsi-cola mix? clue. Loved figuring that one out. Also MIELE doesn't seem that unknown to me, but then again LEN was a gimme for me which I guess means that area was in my wheelhouse as it were. Had no idea on NYRO. Had NAES/NERO at first which seems more like a name and less like some naysayers, but still...

    Rex Parker 7:30 AM  

    "We often have 'anagram of' clues" is simply an untrue statement (v-a-v the NYT). Also, if we (rarely) do have them, they are in the context of a clue that also provides a literal definition.


    Glimmerglass 8:00 AM  

    I didn't think of "mix" as an anagram, but that's a common clue in cryptic crosswords. When I had enough crosses to guess that 10D might be EPISCOPAL, I just figured that it must be the name of a drink made with Pepsi. Looked it up afterwards, and there is such a drink, but it's not made with cola of any kind. Never heard of a gin Alexander -- mine were always brandy. Looked that up, too, and sure enough.

    Sean Dobbin 8:06 AM  


    Felt less amused by this puzzle than @Rex apparently did.

    WALKTOFIRSTBASE is *way* out of the language, IMO. And PAWNSHOPSIGNS is, at best, barely in. The fact that the latter is the only plural makes the whole thing not-so-great to me.

    Interesting concept, and of course I love seeing Hook's name attached to any puzzle, but not a fan of this. Don't think the fill is all that great, either - I see a few places that could be cleaner.


    I investigated @Rex's last Hook writeup, and it was quite honest and negative. This indicates, I'd say, that @Rex is not simply being extra nice to a renowned constructor today (which I have, right or wrong, accused him of before) -- he really just enjoyed the puzzle!

    Sean Dobbin 8:06 AM  


    Loved the EPISCOPAL clue.

    joho 8:25 AM  

    What an odd ball puzzle! Loved it!

    Lots of pop in the middle with KIA, KIX, VEX.

    Like @john o'toole, I liked INTWO across from INONE at the top.

    I also liked the duo of ENID and EDNA.

    MUGGLE is fun!

    That "H" on YOWZAH was the only offputting thing to me and not that much.

    Delightful, 'enry 'ook!

    Carola 8:30 AM  

    Fun, and just enough of a workout. Knew MIELE (just got a vacuum cleaner, recommend), but not SAMP or MAXIE. DEAN RUSh kept me from seeing WALK for a while.

    We owned one of those NEWTON'S CRADLEs way back when, though I can't account for why as grad students we thought we needed an executive desk toy. Already had plenty of ways to procrastinate. Not sure I ever knew its name.

    Faked-me-out-the-most clue: Crude conveyance. Had _ILER and stared at it.

    @retired_chemist, @john o'toole, @acme, @joho - I liked how ONE and TWO crossed the answer for "three" balls, but I hadn't noticed their neat symmetry.

    @loren and @I skip M-W - Our 1998 Volvo just keeps purrin' along. Sorry you got a lemon-y one, @loren!

    fvigeland 8:45 AM  

    Adding to the delightfully wacky flavor: there was literally a picture of Newton's Cradle in the print edition. What was it like for you online solvers?

    Love Muggle, but Miele is crazy.

    Z 8:48 AM  

    75% easy, but slayed by the 25% in the NE. I was going to rag on IN ONE - as ONE is a better answer- but I think @ACME must be right. This also explains a little, the other crap in that corner. Everyone who owns a MIELE got it, the rest of us not so much.

    "I know my Tennyson" - So sorry. I took 19th century lit from a medievalist way back when. I think Tennyson bored him just as much as he bored me. Give me La Chanson de Roland any day over The Charge of the Light Brigade.

    The Only Reason I'd Ever Consider Buying a KIA. I live in Metro Detroit, after all.

    dk 8:50 AM  

    I just had to walk to the closet to confirm the spelling of MIELE. Biggest struggle was LOW as I had nerd for 7D. LETHAL and ENID saved the day.

    Otherwise I sailed trough this one. In grad school we had a party with a Newtonian theme that included NEWTONSCRADLEs, early punk rock and drugs. One cohort timed the strikes and measured the distance (sorta) traveled by the balls in an effort to demonstrate Newtonian physics. Suffice to say the equal and opposite reaction of hash and cocaine brought an early end to that experiment. I think Linda also offered a punch in the balls as alternative study. But hey we are all World leaders today.

    Great theme and good catch Acme on the one and two.

    ⚾⚾⚾⚾ (4 Balls) Henry makes to home base

    Milford 9:09 AM  

    @figeland - the actual clue was a drawing? Cool! No, on my phone I just had words. I knew what it was referring to but I had no clue what it was called.

    I'm going to go stand over with @Gill I.P., @chefwen and @LMS, because I found this medium at least. Tons of writeovers, and the EPISCOPAL and EGG clues were very dastardly for me. Not ever hearing of MIELE or SAMP didn't exactly help either. The PAWNBROKER symbol is a complete mystery to me.

    Still a fun puzzle to work out.

    Mohair Sam 9:12 AM  

    Recently read Harry Potter only to get a few of the many Potter questions in the NYT crosswords. So I'm pleased to say that MUGGLE was a gimme.
    EPISCOPAL came to me instantly, and I'm lousy with wordplay. I disagree with Rex, I've seen that anagram before in some form or other - maybe a joke. I'm betting the constructor thinks it is more commonly known, hence toughened the clue with "mix?".
    Mandela and Castro? Wow! - I guess they feel they have a common enemy, but what different people they are.

    Great puzzle, btw, lotsa fun. DNF here because didn't know MIELE or LEN (11D).

    Notsofast 9:17 AM  

    I think HH grew some softballs at us today. Fun, but a tad too easy for a Thursday. IMHO. I wonder if HOOK has ever had SMEE in one of his puzzles?

    Notsofast 9:24 AM  

    I meant "threw", not "grew" some balls. HA! Freudian slip I guess.

    Unknown 9:30 AM  

    Not crazy about this. At first I wondered if IN ONE and INTWO were part of the theme, but I guess not. I found the EPISCOPAL clue annoying. It's an anagram, so what? I had never heard of the pawn shop balls, so I learned something there.

    jberg 9:35 AM  

    As with @Notsofast, I thought this was easy for a Thursday -- but it depends on what you know. I'd never heard of MIELE until my ex bought one after our Kenmore chewed up its own cord once too often. My reaction was "You spent $400 for a vacuum?" But I came to love it.

    @ACME, when you get a little older you'll find that all those past decades start to blend together. I spent too much time trying to squeeze or expand parts of John Foster Dulles in there before I realized that he'd held office in the 50s.

    The clue, "what four balls may let you do," kind of justifies WALK TO FIRST BASE, even if it's not heard often. The only other hangup was spelling NYRO; and, although I've actually made oeufs lyonnaise, I needed all the crosses to get ONIONY.

    Now the theme -- it's nice, but still only three of them. And while it's sort of cute to have the drawing in the clue (I assume it's not online, as @Rex didn't mention it), it detracts from the concept, IMHO - and doesn't seem to have been necessary, since so many got the answer without it.

    I enjoyed it, and I don't mind easiness, but Ithought it was.

    chefbea 9:51 AM  

    Too tough for me DNF. First time I have ever seen a picture of something in a clue!!! and then when I printed out the puzzle all but three clues were printed in blue!!! So I'l thinking the theme had something to do with blue balls.

    Knew Miele but had to look in my closet to spell it correctly. Great vacuum!!

    Unknown 9:52 AM  

    Having grown up in Texas, I was pleased to know that hominy comes from corn, so I happily plugged that four letter word where SAMP should have gone. Apparently samp is hulled corn. Who knew?

    oldActor 10:04 AM  

    Had a Miele vacuum. When it died I replaced it with a Kenmore. Like it more and it cost one third the price.

    A friend has a Miele dishwasher and it is so powerful it washed the silver plate off her flatware. Miele told her to use less soap.

    What's samp?

    Cheerio 10:10 AM  

    Great puzzle!!!!!

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:31 AM  

    Fun puzzle, indeed.

    SAMP, MAXIE and the picture in the clue were new to me.

    Re: 10 D, as one who was confirmed in the church (though I no longer consider myself a member), I can quote the observation concerning Episcopalians that "When three or four are gathered together, there is a fifth among them." (Not a fifth of Pepsi!)

    Anonymous 10:37 AM  

    Today's puzzle was a trip down memory lane for this EPISCOPALian: I saw Len Cariou's Tony Award-winning turn in Sweeney Todd in 1979, and Laura Nyro's album, More Than A New Discovery (which includes "Wedding Bell Blues") was hugely popular when I was in college in the early '70's. My plans for the rest of this rainy day: figure out where I have stashed the LPs of the Sweeney Todd original cast recording and the Nyro album, dust off the turntable, and wallow in nostalgia. Thanks, Mr. Hook.

    Martin 10:47 AM  


    Not to beat a dead horse, but "apt anagram of [SNOOZE ALARM]" doesn't feel like a "literal definition" of ALAS NO MORE ZS (Matt Ginsburg Sunday 4/6). It puts you in the ballpark, for sure, but I wouldn't call it a definition.

    But no argument HH pushed it beyond convention by hiding the anagram signal. I think it's a hallmark of his that he stretches convention (e.g., he regularly uses letter O as zero and sometimes I as 1 with no warning). So the latitude WS offered him is probably unique.

    Some solvers who haven't read it might enjoy an old New Yorker profile of Henry Hook. Having one is another sign of his uniqueness.

    John V 10:47 AM  

    DNF as North and Northeast were impossible for me. Otherwise, pretty easy stuff. Not warm and fuzzy here.

    Ellen S 11:01 AM  

    @gifcan - welcome to the blog. Folks here are [usually] nice to newbies, sometimes rough on each other. I hope you like us.

    @Loren, I think there are only two kinds of Volvos, no averages, only extremes. Either they are perfect and run forever, or they are lemons. I had one of the latter. Within the first year, so many things went wrong that when we filled out the Consumer Reports survey, we got to check off something in every category: drive train, electrics, everything. And it kept it up for about nine years -- I'm not sure how many miles it had on it when I traded it, because at about 75,000 miles the speedometer cable broke and replacing it reset the odometer.

    LEN Cariou probably got his Tony award for "Most Appearances in Crossword Puzzles." He's like an old, EELy friend I've known for 30 years. MIELE not so common in xwords, nor in people's homes. I knew it right away because I want one but can't afford it. The small Sew-and-Vac stores have MIELEs; you don't see them next to Kenmores. They ain't $400 any more, either... I think you could hire a full time live-in servant and pay benefits, for what a MIELE dishwasher costs.

    @retired_chemist -- One of my chemistry TAs taught the class the Hitler/balls song, accompanying himself on a honky-tonk piano. There were three or four TAs and he had been a math major; the only one who had not been a chemistry major as an undergrad. I figured that was why he was better socialized than the others.

    I take back everything I said yesterday about desperation in puzzle constructing. This was tough but fascinating. Thank you for restoring my faith in Crosswords, Henry Hook!

    retired_chemist 11:08 AM  

    @ Ellen S - LOL.

    Q: How do you recognize a well socialized mathematician?

    A: He looks at YOUR shoes when he talks to you.

    chefbea 11:23 AM  

    @Ellen S I bought my Miele vacuum at Bed Bath and Beyond several years ago...and of course used my 20%off coupon!!

    DBGeezer 11:35 AM  

    I'm a bit surprised that no opera fans suggested an alternate clue for MIELE, the Italian word for honey.
    In Act 2 of La Bohème, Mimi sings that

    Amare è dolce ancora più del miele!
    love is even sweeter than honey!

    and Marcello, annoyed, responds,

    secondo il palato è miele, o fiele!...
    To some it can taste likr honey or like bitterness

    DBGeezer 11:37 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Ellen S 11:37 AM  

    @Chefbea -- Dang! Is Bed Bath & Beyond the one that went out of business, or was that the other one? (It would be sad but typical of me that the chain I can't remember is still in business.)

    @retired_chemist - funny but "well-socialized chemist" can't be substituted in that joke because they ain't. You do a remarkable job of it, but maybe you weren't born a chemist? My cousin Bruce worked for years as a chemist for a big drug company even though his degree was in physics. Bruce is moderately well socialized, in a geeky, tassel-loafer kind of way. (I hope you don't turn out to be him!)

    Mohair Sam 11:42 AM  

    YOWZAH - sent me to Netflix for the awesome old flick "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"

    Gig Young won an academy award in part by yelling "Yowzah, Yowzah, Yowzah" to open many scenes.

    Seemed like YOWZAH meant other than "Holy Moly!" in the movie, but never mind.

    retired_chemist 11:54 AM  

    @ Ellen S - actually I was a chem major at MIT, then got socialized with a PhD at Berkeley during the Free Speech Movement days. Not involved in it - just aware of the campus milieu.

    Masked and Unonymous and Hooked on Henry 12:02 PM  

    @4-Oh. We agree about 98.6% on this puz. Wacko and ballsy. My kind of rodeo. Even had yer "hook" in the UNPEG clue. EPISCOPAL clue was over the top great; I must think thataway -- got er off just the -SC-.

    Liked the little illustration, in the newspaper edition; more of that, please. I usually will only read books that have lotsof illustrations. Uncle $crooge is my go-to literary source.

    Had no earthly idea in hell what the ONIONY clue was talkin about. Entry of Mystery, for ol' M&A.

    @lms: Keep guessin, girl. That's what yer good at. Before U build me that puz, might want to pep it up a little. Maybe use a word ladder gizmo, or somethin...
    M AND A

    MetaRex 12:08 PM  

    SAPP-PETA instead of SAMP-META wd definitely have been a change for the worse, in the unbiased opinion of MR...

    In addition to the matched IN ONE and IN TWO and their semi-relatedness to the theme, I like the pairing of DEAN RUSK and BISMARCK and the paired drink clues for ALEXANDER and EPISCOPAL.

    Rob C 12:16 PM  

    Med-Challenging Thurs. Another meh theme for me. The good (FESTOON and NEWTONS CRADLE) made up for the bad: WALK TO FIRST BASE - never heard anyone say this ever. MIELE, SAMP - huh?

    I thought 44D clued as "Holy moly!" was going to be a bleedover REALLY from yesterday.

    Lots of discussion about the anagram clue for EPISCOPAL. Yet very little discussion about a picture used in a clue (rebus clue??)! I thought there'd be lots of opinions on that. I wonder why it was used: easier than explaining in words, the novelty of seeing a picture as a clue, beta test for a future puz?? I'm ok with it as long as it's not used too often.

    Anonymous 12:22 PM  

    I don't get the answer for 20A: Many traditionally have three balls (pawnshopsigns)? How does this relate to balls? What am I missing?


    M and A and U x 3 12:23 PM  

    p.s. lms: Yer last guess sounded pretty good. As a puzmaker, ol' M&A has now turned pro. One of the dudes that helped me out with the last one has paid me five bucks, if I won't ever do it again. har. Reminds me of Tonto's last line in that Lone Ranger movie...

    Hank. Only 72 words? Dude. U are somethin else.

    Sandy K 12:48 PM  

    Interesting puzzle! Is using an illustration as part of a clue, eg the 'Gizmo', a first?

    Learned that it's called NEWTON'S CRADLE. Only trouble spots- rewrite of Laura Nero to NYRO, and the MIELE/MUGGLE cross.

    Been seeing growing trend of constructors using the anagram, so the Pepsi-Cola 'mix' in that clue was not a surprise.

    The way 35A is worded, made me say the answer, so YES, I liked it!

    Ray J 1:15 PM  

    Bosch, Dyson, Kirby, Oreck, Sanyo…

    UGLY ATE OBI and everything below was like a free pass to first base. The rest: not so much. It all eventually came together except at the MIELE/LEN cross, so DNF for me. Considered B, J, K, & L and finally went with J. Ugh! My 30+ year old Monkey Ward’s canister vac still runs like new… replaced the hoses about 10 years ago for $50… it’s a keeper.

    Beware the sole-shredding lava fields at Craters of the Moon… not a good place to trip and fall.

    Ray J

    Mz.D 1:29 PM  

    I enjoyed the puzzle but take exception with the clue for samp:samp is the equivalent of cornmeal mush and isn't made out of hominy;grits are made out of hominy....

    Anonymous 1:38 PM  

    Speaking of Muggles, this is a very witty and entertaining blog and Twitter account:

    Carola 1:41 PM  

    @Anonymous 12:22 - I happened to know that answer but your question made me curious about the why. From wikipedia (Pawnbroker): "The pawnbrokers' symbol is three spheres suspended from a bar. The three sphere symbol is attributed to the Medici family of Florence, Italy, owing to its symbolic meaning of Lombard. This refers to the Italian province of Lombardy, where pawn shop banking originated under the name of Lombard banking. The three golden spheres were originally a symbol medieval Lombard merchants hung in front of their houses, and not the arms of the Medici family. It has been conjectured that the golden spheres were originally three flat yellow effigies of byzants, or gold coins, laid heraldically upon a sable field, but that they were converted into spheres to better attract attention." Thanks for the nudge!

    Thoracic 2:00 PM  

    Loved the puzzle. Quirky and quite difficult for me, but very enjoyable. Was convinced that Newton's Cradle was a pendulum of some sort. Foucalt's Pendulum would not get out of my head, despite not even coming close to fitting. I think it was stuck in my head because I read the book by Umberto Eco and liked it a lot. Still persisted in shoehorning pendulum into the end of the space and waiting for inspiration to strike. Crosses finally cured me. Awesome experience overall

    retired_chemist 2:11 PM  

    Demonstration of Newton's Cradle. According to Wikipedia it is also called "Newton's Balls" or "Executive Ball Clicker." Restrain yourself, O my inner fourth grader.

    Anonymous 2:31 PM  

    For my money the best definition of lynoaise comes from the movie Midnight Run. A practically starving, physically wrecked and penniless prisoner ( Charles Grodin) is waxing poetic about lyonaise poatatos. It's quite moving and maybe even mouth watering.
    I wish De Niro ( he's the scene partner getting the education on spuda ala lynoaisse)still made good movies.

    Karen Coyle 2:54 PM  

    I'm a total amateur who can happily spend hours on a late week puzzle. I've just donated to the site because 1) it's part of my morning routine and 2) when I'm stuck it keeps me from spending the ENTIRE DAY on the puzzle. So here's to fun with words and a modicum of productivity. Thanks, Rex and friends!

    Lewis 2:57 PM  

    This was a lot of fun, felt fresh. I held the faith throughout that I was eventually going to get it all, and piece by piece, I did.

    "Get to first base" would be much more in the language. (Yes it's 14 letters, not 15, but I'm just saying...) And I don't see why "may" needs to be in the clue, because there is no doubt that four balls will get you there.

    I'm a Laura Nyro fan so I liked seeing her here. I like the image of the LETHAL ONIONY WIMP. I love having AXE, PIX and VEX in the same neighborhood of the grid.

    The only grid gruel I found was OBI. I'm in awe of Henry's cluing. Bravo!

    Mike Rees 3:06 PM  

    This one was just work for me. Very little satisfaction (except that I "got" the Pepsi-Cola clue pretty early on). I knew MIELE, but not LEN. Got with crosses. I'm completely lost on the three-ball pawn shop thing. I've never seen any balls in a pawn shop sign, maybe that's an American thing. Didn't like the clue for PUG at *all*. They're different kinds of dogs. I assume it's short for pugilist, I didn't realize the abbreviated form was considered a complete word. It wasn't clued as an abbreviation. Overall just not enjoyable due to my lack of crossword knowledge. PUG ended up making this a DNF, I had PUP in place and had not idea one what a "tiper" was. I'm a bartender and have never heard of an ALEXANDER. Very meh puzzle for me.

    Delaware 3:06 PM  

    This was harder for me than most of you.Maybe because I did it while listening to closing arguments in the Trayvon Martin case and was distracted. I didn't like the pepsi-cola clue even though it was clever. I call unfair! For some reason, almost every time I do a puzzle, the first answer I put in turns out wrong. In this case I was sure Cariou was Lou, so that messed me up in the northeast, plus never having heard of miele and the aforementioned anagram. It was a weird theme but hands up for different.

    chefbea 3:11 PM  

    @ Ellen S Linens and things went out of business many moons ago

    Anoa Bob 3:15 PM  

    Looks like almost everyone rated this one higher than I did.

    Nothing inherently wrong with just three themes---it can open the grid for better fill---but here I thought the theme was a train wreck.

    The first entry, PAWNSHOP SIGNS, sticks out like a sore thumb to me. Why a plural here and not in the other two themes? It's a blatant short-cut, a plural of convenience (POC), purely to up the letter count to fit that slot.

    A POC in a local Bargain Book's 11X11 puzzle theme I expect. A POC in a NYT puzzle theme methinks should be a deal killer. Other than Mitzie @8:06, no one else seems to have even noticed it.

    Maybe I need to rethink the whole POC issue, especially since I have a five-themer on the drawing board with one entry tantalizing a letter short of its slot. All I got to do is add an "S" to CHANGE UP and the theme entries all fit.

    Okay, never mind, POC's are fine by me.

    The other issue with the theme is that two of them refer to actual spheres or globes, real physical balls, while the balls in the central grid spanner, the rather awkwardly worded WALK TO FIRST BASE, involves location of pitches as judged by the umpire. Ever see a player walking to first base carrying four balls? More likely to see that in a carnival side show attraction

    YOWZAH was nice.

    retired_chemist 3:23 PM  

    PUG is indeed a shortened form of pugilist. Acc. to my dictionary it is a noun in its own right, so it's fine. I had DOG there initially. IMO PUp wouldn't fit the clue.

    jerry k 3:44 PM  

    Samp is totally new to me, was never in the curriculum of elhi in New York City education (unfortunately), while rooting for Orosco. So let's be consistent, I demand to see samp in at least 3 more puzzles throughout the remainder of the year.

    sanfranman59 4:04 PM  

    Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

    Thu 15:48, 16:03, 0.98, 46%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Thu 9:21, 9:27, 0.99, 46%, Medium

    Evan 4:05 PM  

    Absolutely loved the clue for EPISCOPAL. Absolutely hated the MIELE/LEN and NYRO/ANCHOS crossings. Why not just go with NAES/NERO to make it more inferable? It's not like NAES is significantly worse than NAYS as an entry, but I have to think NERO is far superior to NYRO.

    I guessed right on MIELE/LEN but ended with two mistakes -- NYRA/ANCHAS and RAIN/ENNA. I've never seen "Some Like It Hot" (I really should change that) so RAIN sounded plausible; ENNA should have been a red flag even though I've seen it in crosswords before. Other write-overs: Shared @loren's mistakes with SLIP before SKID, NERD before WIMP, and POLLUTE before POLECAT. Also had IN ALL before IN ONE and EGGY before UGLY (though it was a funny surprise seeing EGG with the same exact interpretation I was going for at 12-Down).

    Unknown 4:18 PM  

    @retired_chemist 2:11 is why I try to come back and catch up on comments later in the day. LOLOLOLOLOL!

    LaneB 4:45 PM  

    So many write overs but managed to limp to the finish line with some lucky guesses and Google confirmations. Never could figure out what EPISCOPAL was all about until I read Rex. Likewise the SAMP, META cross.. Quibbled over some of the clue/answer relatio ships, but what the hell...

    OISK 5:21 PM  

    I am with the few naysayers. I finished correctly in reasonable time, but two types of clues I dislike are pop culture and product names. Miele, Nyro (whom I know only because of the Times crossword), Julie Chen ???, NoDoz, a song from Rihanna (SOS ??) Kix, Hairspray (???) mom named Edna, Kia...this was distinctly NOT my kind of puzzle. Samp with Meta was just a lucky guess. Never heard of either of them.

    Carola 6:58 PM  

    @Martin - Thank you for the link to the fascinating Henry Hook profile.

    Clark 7:06 PM  

    Scroll through these images of PAWN SHOP SIGNS. Thank you, @Carola, for the explanation.

    acme 8:06 PM  

    @Anoa Bob 3:15
    I noticed the POC, but figured I'd leave it to you to comment on it...what took so long?
    but you see! I knew you'd come around! Rather than abandon an entire theme, you add an S and presto change-o (Presto Change-S?) you gots yourself a puzzle.

    michael 8:13 PM  

    Everything except len/miele. Glad to see I'm not alone.

    sanfranman59 10:43 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
    Thu 16:06, 16:12, 0.99, 49%, Medium

    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
    Thu 9:04, 9:27, 0.96, 39%, Easy-Medium

    Anoa Bob 11:11 PM  

    Acme, I was kidding. If one starts taking short cuts with the theme entry letter counts, where does one stop?

    I've already seen, along with POCs, the arbitrary addition/omission of definite/indefinite articles used for letter count manipulation (LCM) in theme entries. What about using the present tense for verbs in some entries but another tense for others. Three adjectives an one adverb?

    I think the more we give in to the temptation to manipulate the theme letter count to make it easier to complete the puzzle, the closer we get to the computer generated 11X11 in the local Bargain Book weekly.

    Elle54 1:09 AM  

    I think Miele is pretty well known here in the Midwest. Could it be a regional thing?

    spacecraft 11:11 AM  

    At last a puzzle with some ballz! 'Course, I knew that going in when I saw the HH byline (felt like Rip Van Winkle there, waking up and it's the '80s). Why, there's ol' DEANRUSK, NODOZ, and YOWZAH!, made famous by Gig Young's Oscar-winning performance as the dance marathon barker in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" And there's CASTRO, and a '30s clue for TIGER. And yet...

    Not "Abba hit" but "Rihanna's first #1 Billboard single", making me fill in SOS on crosses. This was definitely a journey in TIME.

    My frown joins others over 35a. Though a BOB is called a "walk," the expression WALKTOFIRSTBASE conjures up an image of Babe Ruth, who I'm sure did just that. Modern players, though, at LEAST jog. The EPISCOPAL thing, well, it wasn't too hard to figure out, what with the ? in the clue, so the lack of a definition didn't really bother me. A passel of total unknowns, however did:

    -->ANCHOS, and its natick, NYRO. I was just crap-lucky with my "O" guess.

    Loved YOWSAH and FESTOON. I'd never own a KIA; they're too lazy to even put the crossbar on the A! As my captcha of the day says:

    Sheesch! [I kid you not]

    Waxy in Montreal 12:23 PM  

    Definitely a SMASH! Great - just like the weather here today (thanks, @Diri for sending it north from Maine).

    Only difficulty was a NAGS/NGRO nattick (have a friend surnamed SGRO so NGRO at least seemed plausible).

    Loved the EPISCOPAL anagram clue which is surprising as I an absolutely inept at solving cryptic crosswords. MUGGLE was a gimme as I'm currently (re)discovering the Harry Potter novels with my 9-year old granddaughter.

    Was surprised to learn while enjoying KONA coffee in Hawaii some years ago that no other American state produces coffee. Thought maybe southern Florida or even California might be tropical enough but not so.

    And learnt today that the thing FESTOONing my desk at work for years was a NEWTONSCRADLE. Who knew?

    rain forest 1:10 PM  

    Hmm. I'm wondering if the constructor's name wasn't shown, would everyone have been so gaga about this puzzle. I thought it was fine, though I struggled mightily with SOS, NYRO, ANCHOS, and the revelation that CASTRO wrote a book with Mandela, not to mention that those swingling balls are called NEWTONSCRADLE. I'm really not sure that Lyonnaise necessarily means ONIONY, but what the hey.

    It was OK, and I finished it, so why complain, eh?

    Ginger 2:57 PM  

    In the print syndic-version, in addition to the pic of the cradle, the clue for 16A was 'let off the hook' not 'left off...'. Which was the original clue? Anyone? Anyway, the misdirection hooked me in. Also, I had asONE for way too long. Thus, the NE became an inkblot mess.

    Uncle Google and NYRO helped open the mid south. Interesting about CASTRO and Mandela.

    Count me in the 'liked it' category, even though I DNF. Learned something, and stretched the gray matter a bit. Thanks HH

    Dirigonzo 5:12 PM  

    Had SEA____ in place when I arrived at the Fleet Week locale clue so I confidently filled in SEAttle and thought, "Cool - shout out to @SiS!") but of course it was not to be. Not one but two smash-ups of Proper names confounded me today with MIELE/LEN lurking in the NE and NYRO/ANCHOS lying in wait for the unsuspecting solver in the south - I've given up guessing on crosses like that.

    @Ginger - me too for asONE.

    @WAxy - you're welcome; there's more of the same on the way for tomorrow.

    Cary in Boulder 11:50 AM  

    Yup, hand up for SAMP, MAXIE, MIELE, MAXIE. In my brain-base META has to do with abstraction, not self-reference, but the Urban DicKtionary has it so. The Northeast totally killed me. Just how many 5-letter vacuum cleaners can there be? Thanks to the E in EPISCOCOLA I landed on ORECK and could not let go. I've heard of Miele, but only for kitchen appliances.

    FYI, in the original 1988 version of "Hairspray" EDNA Turnblad (mother of Tracy Turnblad=Rikki Lake) was played by the divine transvestite, Divine. One of my all-time favorite films, btw, but then I'm originally from Baltimore.

    LIke Mohair Sam 9:12, I too will have to break down and read a !@^%$ Harry Potter book just for the x-word value.

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