Paul who sang Lonely Boy / TUE 7-2-13 / James who wrote A Death in the Family / Doug who filled in for Rex on a Tuesday

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Constructor: Daniel Raymon

Relative difficulty: Tuesdayish

THEME: NATIONAL ANAGRAMS — Countries are paired with their anagrams to form wacky phrases.

Word of the Day: RIVEN (2D: Torn apart) —
Riven is a puzzle adventure game and the sequel to Myst. Developed by Cyan Worlds, it was initially published by Red Orb Entertainment, a division of Brøderbund. Riven was distributed on five compact discs and released on October 29, 1997, in North America; it was later released on a single DVD-ROM, with improved audio and a fourteen-minute "making-of" video.
The story of Riven is set immediately after the events of Myst. Having been rescued from the efforts of his sons, the main non-player protagonist Atrus enlists the help of the player character to free his wife from his power-hungry father Gehn. Unlike Myst, which took place on several worlds known as Ages, linked together by special books, Riven takes place almost entirely on the Age of Riven, a world slowly falling apart due to Gehn's destructive rule. Did anyone read all that? Quoting Wikipedia is a great way to fill space.
• • •
Howdy, folks. Doug here. By now, you're probably all going through Rex withdrawal. Fear not. There are only a couple more days of substitutes.

It's hard to concentrate on writing the blog because there are so many cool high-tech toys to play with here at Rex Parker HQ. I've been fiddling with his PRISM (People Rex Is Secretly Monitoring) program all day. It's so cool. He can spy on anyone who's reading or has ever read the blog. Phone calls, emails, internet history, the whole nine yards. And the program can generate all kinds of fun stats. For example, I discovered that only 0.13% of readers actually click on the videos. And there's one guy in Regina, Saskatchewan, who's watched every video ever posted on the blog. So, Gary, please enjoy today's video! The rest of you can scroll down a little.

42A: Like the "wasteland" in a classic Who song (TEENAGE).

Today's theme, countries paired with their anagrams, is one I've seen done a couple times before. Anagrams are fertile ground for puzzle themes, and this one slots right into a Tuesday difficulty level. I like ISRAEL SERIAL the best. ANGOLA ANALOG is a little dry. The first theme answer made me think of YEMENI ENEMY which could be used in a rhyming theme and is a neat little tongue twister.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Adversary on the Arabian peninsula? (YEMEN ENEMY)
  • 24A: Something comparable in southern Africa? (ANGOLA ANALOG)
  • 38A/40A: Royal emblems in North Africa? (ALGERIA REGALIA)
  • 47A: TV show in the Mideast? (ISRAEL SERIAL)
  • 57A: Part of an air force in south-central Asia? (NEPAL PLANE)    
  • 16A: W.W. II's ___ the Riveter (ROSIE) — You're all familiar with the iconic Rosie the Riveter poster. "We can do it!" How about the one where she's getting ready to clean the bathroom? Swiffer thought that would be a great idea for an ad campaign. (Note: This was shamelessly stolen from, the site where I get most of my news.)
  • 62A: WWE locale (ARENA) — Gary from Regina is a big wrestling fan. He's got a sweet Bret "The Hitman" Hart screen saver on his laptop.
  • 45A: Cajoling words before asking for something (BE A DEAR) — That's a nice entry & clue. Looks weird in the grid though. BEAD EAR?
  • 14A: Sorvino of "Mighty Aphrodite" (MIRA) — Shout-out to my favorite pair of Xena fans in Maryland! We can do shout-outs, right? Sure, why not. By the time Rex reads this post, he'll be plastered on artisanal gin and tonics or whatever it is they drink in the Pacific Northwest.
  • 46D: Oslo Accords figure (ARAFAT) — Interesting that this entry crosses the ISRAEL theme answer. And so does the PILGRIMAGE to Mecca. Crosswords really can bring disparate groups together. These entries live together in perfect harmony inside today's crossword grid, just like ebony and ivory on my piano keyboard.
OK, that last bullet was weird, so I should probably quit while I'm ahead. Neville tomorrow!
    Signed, Doug Peterson, Factotum of CrossWorld


    drew richards 12:18 AM  

    Long time lurker; first time poster and first post today!

    jae 12:46 AM  

    This was medium tough for me time wise, but referential clues always slow me down, so Tuesdayish works for me. Enjoyed the anagrams and the grid seemed pretty smooth for a Tues., so liked it.  That said, it's still a Tues.  Doug on the other hand was quite entertaining.  Thanks for the amusing write up!

    Evan 12:49 AM  

    And yet even PRISM doesn't have the power to insert NSA into the NYT puzzle often enough to let us know it's watching us. Last time it appeared? May 18, a couple weeks before all the groundbreaking stories started coming out. Then again, that's the whole M.O. of the NSA, innit? Watching us without us being fully aware.

    I thought this puzzle was fine -- I'm sure the idea's been done many times but the fill was clean for the most part, so, okay. I greatly appreciated seeing TEENAGE make the reference to the Who song (which is actually called "Baba O'Riley," strangely enough). Seems like you could do a lot with this kinda theme. SPAIN PAINS, CHINA CHAIN, MALI MAIL, IRAN RAIN, GERMANY GRAY MEN (I know, that one's inconsistent with the one-word anagram pattern, but I still think it's funny).

    Thanks, Doug. And thanks all to your well wishes from yesterday.

    Evan 12:52 AM  

    Oh, and some unfortunate news for any other puzzle constructors out there: It looks like Xwordinfo will be shutting down by the end of this year. I was all hyped up to see my grids in that database, but given how long it takes for NYT submissions to show up after acceptance, I doubt that's going to happen now.

    Anonymous 1:59 AM  


    I'm concerned with the reasons behind the change

    Was the site not making enough money?

    And why replace with a site on pre-Shortzian puzzles? What's the point of that? Is anyone really going to care? At least 33% of the puzzles are Maleskan, and Maleska is not on people's favourite list...

    And who is behind this change? Is the site being sold to someone else, say David Steinberg? Or is Jim Horne just tired of it all?

    Steve J 2:03 AM  

    "Tuesdayish" sounds about right. Relatively easy, with a copule stickier spots (helped in no part by my repeated misreading of 42A as "Like the 'wasteland' in a classic Wilco song". 1) For the life of me, I could not recall any mention of wasteland in any classic Wilco song (probably because there weren't any) and 2) Wilco probably isn't classic enough to show up in a Tuesday puzzle.

    The theme didn't sing for me. Too easy to figure out the others once you get the trick, most of the theme answers being daft (although the ALGERIA/REGALIA combo was kind of cool), everything being centered in the Semitic (i.e., Arabic and Hebraic) world other than the oddball of NEPAL. I don't know exactly what it was, but it was kind of blah for me.

    À propos of nothing: Am I alone in thinking that the Rosie the Swifferer photo's model is reminiscent of Kirsten Dunst? Seeing as how her acting career seems to have disappeared, she may be looking for work anywhere.

    Lastly: Is 41A really a hair-spray alternative anymore? Has anyone bought a can of MOUSSE since 1986?

    Nice writeup, Daniel. And everyone else the last several days. They've been entertaining (although, contrary to Monday's zeitgeist, I do enjoy and mildly miss the snark).

    Steve J 2:06 AM  

    Just remembered that ANGOLA features in one of the theme answers and is not not remotely Semitic. Never mind. The theme still didn't sing for me.

    Benko 2:06 AM  

    I thought this was moderately difficult for a Tuesday. Granted, I did it late at night in a hotel after a few beers and while watching an episode of the Honeymooners (Ralph adopted a bunch of dogs from the pound after hearing they would be put down...surely the first example of this much-used comedy cliche.)...but, judging by my score on the sites, most people didn't do it too much faster.
    Like @Evan, enjoyed the reference to one of my fave bands, the Who.
    Also, spent the evening constructing my first crossword (using Crossfire) but am having a hard time with the last corner of the grid....sure gets difficult as you run out of options!

    Rube 2:06 AM  

    Tuesdayish is the perfect adjective for this puzzle. Did this one on Across Lite as I didn't want to risk printing a hard copy and wake the sleeping wife. It's totally different from the other puzzle programs I do and really slows down my solve, (not that I keep time).

    What else can I say but that Lil ABNER makes an appearance here. Makes my day.

    FYI, the Rosie the Riveteer museum opened in Richmond, CA, (near SF), a few years ago... it's interesting but not worth a PILGRIMAGE.

    Benko 2:37 AM  


    Re: yesterday's request for a clue for weeject LUI

    How about "Beer Goggles"?

    LUI--Lusting Under the Influence

    syndy 3:34 AM  

    didn't sing didn't even hum.more of a hohum. MOUSSEd it up GELled it up cross referenced it to a faretheewell and it still just sits there and quivers like an aspic!bah!

    chefwen 3:52 AM  

    Hey @Rube, how ya doin? Miss you.

    Started out to be a little on the tough side, but like Steve J. once you got the "trick" it turned into easy. Only one write-over at 55A ache before PAIN.

    I've been humming TEENAGE wasteland for a couple of hours now. Husband ready to shoot me. If this is my last post, someone contact the authorities.

    Loren Muse Smith 5:46 AM  
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    Loren Muse Smith 5:47 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Loren Muse Smith 5:51 AM  

    Hey, Doug! Nice write-up! Now I’m all paranoid. . . Oh, and I keep seeing BEAD EAR, too.

    When YEMEN ENEMY fell, I didn’t see the anagram – just thought, like Doug, of a rhyme. When ANGOLA ANALOG went in, I saw it. Then ISRAEL and ALGERIA, and I was thinking, “Wow. The Middle East and Africa. By then, I had PILGRIMAGE, ARAFAT, OPEC, ARKS, DEMANDS, AGREES. . . But then I saw the Asian NEPAL. Dan – did you consider “Niger reign?” Though I guess the Middle East and Africa isn’t really any tighter than the Mid East, Africa, and Asia.

    I really liked this one! Anagrams are certainly growing on me. (M & A – I’m currently ingesting spackling compound to prevent them from growing on my upper back and between my eyebrows.)

    I’m breathing a sigh of relief that my husband and I are pretty much finished BRINGING UP two TEENAGErs. HON, BE A DEAR and grab me a LAGER while you’re up. Actually, make it a BAILEYs.

    Until all my new hair grows in, I have to rely on a bit of hairSPLAY, and I can tell you, MOUSSE and GEL are *not* alternatives; if I used MOUSSE the way I used hairspray, I would look like I had little piles of meringue all over my head.

    I feel bad for the word PUPA. It’s just ugly. Has that je ne sais quoi ick factor going on.

    @Drew Richards – welcome!

    @Rube – hey, there!

    Ok, so I’ll start the copycat game:
    Castilians who want to give you every single detail of why their flight was delayed, where the PLANE they were waiting on was stuck, what the mechanical problem was, how the gate changed three times, how long they sat on the tarmac. . .? (Shamelessly stealing from you, David Sedaris. . .)

    Zwhatever 6:49 AM  
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    Zwhatever 7:06 AM  

    @Steve J - imagine Keith Moon on the drums for Via Chicago.

    Great Tuesday, in my opinion. Clean fill, only one or two "learned from crosswords," and anagrams.

    For whatever reason most of the videos have stopped showing up on my iPad. I just have a yellow space where a video ought to be. Curious.

    John V 7:35 AM  

    A bit more medium than not. The anagrams were fun. A good Tuesday. Nice one, Daniel Raymon.

    Jim Horne, say it isn't so! Is this about money or is it just wanting to move on? Xwordinfo is a classy place. Perhaps there is a way it can survive.

    jberg 7:47 AM  

    First the shoutout to @Evil DOUG (paired symmetrically with FANG), then the other DOUG does the writeup--can't be a coincidence!

    Aside from that, pretty easy once you see the theme, and pretty easy to see the theme once you see that the entries start with country names. Rhymes instead of anagrams would be fun, but really difficult.

    It's also GENOA week. Fine with me!

    Nothing much more to say, except nice video!

    Unknown 7:47 AM  

    Medium Tuesday. I'm sort of a geography buff, so I liked the theme. Fill was solid.

    Also couldn't get YEMENi ENEMY out of my head, thinking it would make a catchier theme (and the adjectives would make the phrases grammatically correct too).

    ARAFAT and AGREES crossing the ISRAEL entry stood out.

    captcha is back to numbers?

    Unknown 8:27 AM  

    Yup. Tuesdayish. I dig anagrams.

    Super muggy in CT today, I'm gonna need a lot of MOUSSE or GEL, for sure.

    WA 8:55 AM  

    Now with Daltry it is Old Age Waistband.

    Clever puzzle. The people who I know who do anagrams need their own 12 step program. They just can't stop.

    Thanks to all the fillers for Rex, they are usually better than the theme.

    joho 9:14 AM  

    I like puzzles that prompt me to play around with words. @Loren, how about IRAN RANI or IRAN RAIN? PALESTINE PENALTIES? Actually IRANI RANI is funnier like YEMENI ENEMY.

    Fun puzzle, thank you, Daniel, you NAILED this one! I can't stop!

    And thank you, Doug, for your funny write-up!

    Carola 9:18 AM  

    I'm with @Doug and @Rob C in wanting YEMENi ENEMY but am crankier than they are about the use of nouns as adjectives. (Off topic - when I proofread my husband's papers, phrases like "leukemia remission induction therapy" drive me crazy.) I want to plant a FANG in NEPAL PLANE. But the anagram pair of ALGERIA and REGALIA is neat.

    Medium for me. After YEMEN ENEMY, I thought we were dealing with repeating syllables but that only lasted as far as ANGOLA. At least by 57A I realized I could count letters, divide in two and get the 5-letter country.

    The OPERAS - NIL - CREDO line-up reminded me of Iago's CREDO aria in Verdi's Otello that begins "CREDO in un Dio crudel"/ I believe in a cruel god, and ends "La morte è il nulla e vecchia fola il ciel"/ Death is nothingness and heaven an old wives' tale."

    jackj 9:26 AM  

    A tidy Tuesday as Daniel Raymon brings us another anagram themed crossword (of his four Times puzzles, three of them have been anagram themed) and it slakes the solver’s thirst on what is often an ARID puzzle day.

    Today’s anagrams bring 5 foreign countries into play in a Geography 101 pop quiz seeking such as “TV show in the Mideast?” for ISRAELSERIAL and the theme’s star answer, a two-parter asking for ALGERIA REGALIA.

    (As a fan of anagrams I couldn’t resist a go at playing Daniel’s game but quickly gave up after one sorry imitation, “Saddest country in Africa?”, ERITREA TEARIER.)

    The supporting fill was quite good with RIVEN providing a sneaky answer for “Torn apart”; it’s next door neighbor was also primo as “Mentioning in conversation” translated to BRINGINGUP; one of Islam’s Five Pillars was nicely included as PILGRIMAGE and we were also treated to the fun “Honey-do” type clue seeking BE A DEAR.

    Continuing a nice run, there was SPLAY “Spread out” in the grid, Barnum’s circus partner BAILEY and a run-of-the-mill answer, SEEDS, cutely gussied up as “They’re the pits”.

    (Daniel did get carried away when he clued RIAL as “29 across country currency”, (29 across being OPEC). It may be technically correct, but for that strange a construction, it at least should have been funny).

    All told, an interesting, enjoyable puzzle.

    dk 9:27 AM  

    Too much magic bus…. I want it. I want it.

    I have such high hopes for Tuesday. I have such big hopes for Tuesday…. my new mantra.

    The dosey doh (as Homer might say) theme is kinda cute, actual it is a 55A. My caping aside some fine fill and well constructed.

    🌟🌟 (2 Stars)

    Be afraid. Lexus/Nexus is a research tool spawned from tools developed for tracking economic and social changes in countries outside of the US. Mil-Net was commercialized into the Internets (Hi Mom) and more than a few search engines. Expect PRISM to morph into Personal Relationship Insight System Management. Of course it will use conversational data in the aggregate and one will never be able to identify a specific individual like one can do now with aggregated data from no more than 3 credit card transactions or a similar number of Facebook posts or Tweets. Just sayin!

    Err… we (name unsaid to keep me out of prison) used Riven as a basis for several scenario tools. Riven has 3 possible endings and the option to go back, correct your mistakes to realize the optimal ending. As you might imagine… let us say there was a real place that had "destructive rule" and one wanted to…. We even thought of contracting with Broderbund to develop more refined scenarios but were concerned because high school dropouts with inferiority complexes worked there.

    Trust no one. And, Happy Independence Day.

    chefbea 9:35 AM  

    Easy good Tuesday puzzle. @Mac of course knew 33 across.

    Great write-up Doug.

    Ryan M 9:50 AM  

    After finishing my first puzzle 100% yesterday, I couldn't sleep last night in anticipation of today's edition. Certainly I would breeze through and complete the entire puzzle (in pen no less) probably in 8 minutes, and go on to become, in a single day, the world's greatest crossword solver.

    I got out of bed nice and early, brewed 12 ounces of extra-strong coffee and set forth on my mission.

    I am sad to report that I did not succeed. I finished about 80% and made a mess of the puzzle having done it in ink. I was quick to identify the theme but a few missteps cost me ISRAEL SERIAL and ALGERIA REGALIA. When I saw some of the obvious mistakes that I made, I wanted to smack my forehead and curse my impatience.

    In any event, I think I'm hooked (at least on the Monday puzzles - I'm glad the app goes back to 1996!)

    A few questions for you guys:

    (1) Do most people use the newspaper or the digital app? Is the app considered less "pure?" for any reason?

    (2) I don't make a habit of looking things up, but later in the week when I get stuck I almost have to. What's the general sentiment on references?

    (3) On a scale of 1-10, how annoying am I right now? 11?

    Thanks guys!

    Ryan M

    quilter1 10:21 AM  

    Fun Tuesday and I like the anagrams. I rate it easy, yet a little crunchy.
    @Ryan: people do the puzzle any way they want to. I personally print it out and do it in ink because that's how I like it. Feel free. As to looking things up there are no rules. There are philosophies. Mine is look it up and learn it for next time. Others consider this to be some sort of cheating. Just do what you want and enjoy yourself.

    Anonymous 10:27 AM  

    @Z I posted a comment about the videos not showing on an iPad a couple of days ago. For some reason, the guest bloggers seem to be embedding the videos in Flash format which we all know isn't supported on the iPad. @Rex normally uses the YouTube embed code which uses iframes, which is supported.

    chefbea 10:28 AM  

    @Ryan M welcome. I print the puzzle from my computer. Hopefully I'll still be able to do this after Xword info closes down

    Evan 10:30 AM  

    @Ryan M:

    Since you've been at this for only a couple of weeks, getting 80% of the way through a Tuesday is no small feat. Keep at it if you like doing it.

    1) I use Across Lite for Monday-Wednesday and paper for Thursday-Sunday. I do the latter because I try to keep myself reasonably trained for solving at crossword tournaments. But that's just me -- do whatever works for you.

    2) I'm at a point where I can finish puzzles without having to look things up first, and so I never do. But I say there's no shame in using whatever resources you can to make yourself a better solver. With enough practice, you won't need them. Believe it or not, what made me a much better solver in a relatively short period of time -- say, 6 months or so -- was trying to build my own crosswords.

    3) 0.

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:54 AM  

    Nice Tuesday puzzle.

    If I have one minor quibble, it would be with 9 A, "Sidewalk writing aid," CHALK. "Aid?" To use in tandem with my Waterman Expert Black Matte Rollerball Pen? No, CHALK is a necessity to write on the sidewalk. An "aid" might be knee pads! :>))

    Sandy K 11:08 AM  

    A very well-constructed puzzle and fun for those who like anagrams that form wacky phrases. I can't SAY I DO.

    I thought the theme was 'Countries in Disarray' or TERRs that are RIVEN...oh, well.

    I'd like a chocolate MOUSSE with BAILEY's Irish cream NOW.

    Two Ponies 11:13 AM  

    I was not entertained by the anagrams nor some of the fill.
    Alou, Esai, Agee, apes bore me.
    @ Ryan M. If you know the words in that list you are well on your way.
    @ Bob K, My thought exactly on chalk. It's not an aid, it IS the writing.

    Benko 11:16 AM  

    @Ryan--I do my NYT solving on the IPad, which can be a pain sometimes with the two fingered typing. I solve lots of other puzzles on paper. There isn't a "more pure" way, except if you want to compete in a crossword contest, you have to do it on paper.
    As to looking things up--although there are plenty of facts I don't know in most NYT puzzles, there are very rarely any spaces I can't get, where two really hard things cross each other. For one thing, although the clue reference might be unknown, usually it logically points to a crossword term or name you've heard before. ( You get better at learning this with experience.). Also, most hard things are crossed with easier words, so you can build them up that way.
    On a really difficult Friday or Saturday, I might be blanking on one of the corners, not being able to get a toehold, as we say. Usually, though, if I keep reading the clues over and over and thinking about what might work, something will eventually occur to me.
    But looking up something isn't really any different than looking at the answer after you're stuck, so if you have to do it, do it! Experience and thinking about crosswords is what will help you be a better solver.

    retired_chemist 11:23 AM  

    @ Ryan - echo the 0. Struggle for a while then look up and learn. Each of those is important for progress IMO. Also, think a LOT about answers you get from crosses but do not understand even after you have it right. That helps you see how constructors think.

    Easy feel, bad time. Usually I am about in the 70th percentile of NYT times and today in the 45th or so. No particular sticking points, so mystifying.

    Hand up for seeing BEAD EAR. Also for SAY YES until I got ALTARS and saw the real answer would be better.

    Thanks, Mr. Raymon.

    BTW I got a photo of a number again in my captcha just like the old days.

    Lewis 11:44 AM  

    Fun little puzzle, left me with a smile, then Doug's writeup widened that grin considerably. I loved the riff about the Middle East in perfect peace within the confines of the grid.

    I liked SAYIDO, which hasn't been in the NYT for three or four years, and which also looks like a type of martial arts. I like ALOU over PERU. GOYA over ARAFAT... if it only could have been GOY. TEENAGE and DEMANDS certainly belong in the same column. And there are some words that make other words when read backward: LAGER, NOW, EVIL, and GEL. I like ARAFAT backward: Tafara, which sounds to me like an African nation.

    @evan -- I found that too! Making puzzles has absolutely improved my solving skills.

    Carola 11:47 AM  

    @Ryan M - I do the puzzle in pencil in the newspaper, mostly just 'cuz. But it's also the only way I can make rebuses work (I can't figure out how to fill in rebus squares on an iPad), and, rarely, the newspaper version of the grid has a feature that doesn't show up well in the online versions. About references - somewhere along the way I developed an antipathy to looking things up. Can't explain it, but I never Google. If I can't finish, I come here to find out what's what. And...belated welcome!

    jae 12:21 PM  

    @Ryan -- I wore out two crossword dictionaries getting to the point where I could do these with out looking things up. Like any complex cognitive task you need a lot of practice and some outside help along the way to get to mastery.

    Masked and Anonymo3Us 12:41 PM  

    Am in mournin this mornin. My U counter (Xwordinfo) is a-retirin. Bum-mer. This could be the end of M&A as we know it.

    @lms: U stay healthy, girl. Special surprise puz for U may be comin out soon, if'n I can ever clue LUI right. Will be almost as weird as magic spells.

    fave clue/answer: "Don't be ___" (Google's motto)/EVIL.

    Betcha everyone is breathin a sigh of relief this mornin, that there ain't no country called HULLBITS. I think the UN officially banned that.

    Always enjoy the DP writeups. And his puzs, too.

    Help keep PERU PURE.

    Z 12:57 PM  

    @Ryan M - 1. Pen on newspaper at home. iPad using Crux on the road. I make sure I use a pen that will allow me to write lightly so that writeovers don't turn into rorschach tests. Any impurity in the digital version is purely impurity of the soul, since there is always that "reveal" button too handy.

    2. I rarely get stymied Sunday through Thursday anymore. I found this blog because I did not know that mile 20 of the Boston Marathon was in Natick, MA, though. Now, I'll put down a Saturday and come back rather than yield and look something up. I would guess I DNF on Friday or Saturday about once every three weeks these days.

    3. -0

    Thoracic 1:06 PM  

    @ryan, I too am a relative newcomer, though not as new as you! I feel like a bit of a failure every time I google something, but the need to do so is much less frequent than it used to be. I think it's the only way to learn and evolve. I hold out as long as I can and try to only look up names of people/things that I know I will never get otherwise. I now rarely have to google anything until Fridays and feel like that is pretty significant progress.
    Keep at it and keep commenting!
    PS- I live in the wilds of Canada and can't get the NYT paper, nor do I have an app that will print it, so I use Magmic app on my iPhone.

    Ryan M 1:10 PM  

    You guys are great. Thanks for all the tips and encouragement!

    M and A help desk 1:15 PM  

    @Ryan M... har! An excuse for a new list! Let's just do this...

    The Answers To Ryan's Three Questions.
    1. I print the puz onto computer paper and fashion the paper into Christmas ornaments or wrapping paper, afterwards. In times of desperation, I will roll one up and smoke it, afterwards. But I do not inhale, as it ain't pure enough.
    2. Doin research is no big thing, IMB. I mean, day-um, U think that constructor and editor dude didn't look that stuff up, just to be on the safe side? Hell no. They resorted to the research, so fair is fair. I do personally stear clear of the dictionary as much as I can, due to budgie chews and poops.
    3. Pick a number. Any number. ... Was it 1? No? Wrong again, M&A breath.

    mac 1:20 PM  

    @Ryan M: another little tip: it often helps to give yourself a little break from the puzzle. When you get back to it you often see a solution you couldn't before.

    Easy-medium to me, with "be a dear" one of the last words to put in. Yemenenemy looks weird, too.

    What a beautiful word pilgrimage is! Not a bad ear worm, Teenage Wasteland.

    Fun write-up, Doug!

    LaneB 1:46 PM  

    Very clever and enjoyable edition, but I did Google the 5 Pillars of Islam immediately in order to get a quick start. That pillar has appeared in the arabic 4-letter version in other puzzles. Spotted the anagrams early with YEMEN and NEPAL but then had some fill trouble after confidently putting down ISARAELISREAL, not quite getting the clue.

    As usual, smiled at the comments of the bloggers, clever devils. My sad contribution: If I'm indebted to Columbia and the school assigns the debt to you , when will COLUMBIA CLAIM IOU?

    Nameless 1:54 PM  

    @Drew - That's it?! LTFT and all that's all you have to say? What about the puzzle? Did you like/hate it? Geez . . .

    Unknown 1:56 PM  

    best I could come up with in a few mins using true adjectives:

    Argentine tangerine
    English shingle
    German manger
    Roman manor

    M and A Helpless Desk 2:00 PM  

    The Answers To The Five Questions Ryan Didn't Ask.
    1. Yep.
    2. If a clue just don't fit the answer boxes at all, go work on some other clue for a while. Then come back to the problem clue, later. Chances are the clue will be somethin entirely different this time, cuz you were lookin in the wrong spot, the first time.
    3. Vodka and cinnamonon rolls.
    4. Don't get discouraged. Sometimes the constructor simply had a bad day and couldn't fit enough U's into the gid.
    5. Try to figure out the puz theme as soon as possible. Unless the puz is by Peter Collins, this should help out a lot. If it is a themeless puz, make up a theme, yerself. (Chances are the puz is too hard, and it'll help pass the time.)
    6. Nope. ...Oh, wait... you didn't didn't ask that. But you should have.

    ksquare 2:00 PM  

    Teenage Wasteland is a book by Donna Gaines about suburban kids with little hope for the future with high suicide rates. She's a sociologist who talked to and studied them in the late eighties to learn their feelings.

    Loren Muse Smith 2:17 PM  

    @Ryan –I never have to google anything. I print the puzzle out on white computer paper, get my trusty Bic mechanical pencil, pull up Rex’ site, and, so that no capital letter hits any line, very, very carefully copy Rex’ grid answers onto my grid letter by letter.

    HAH! Seriously – I always use pencil because a smeary write over on my clean paper would be too upsetting. If I can’t finish a puzzle, I quietly announce to the empty kitchen that I’ve been defeated, and then google one or two to help me fill in the rest.

    And what @Mac said is so true – if you’re stuck, put it aside for a few minutes. When you look at it again, some answers will jump out at you. We need to coin a word for that very real phenomenon.

    Now, sheesh, stop annoying us! ;-)

    Sandy K 2:24 PM  

    @Rob C

    Wow! Those are really good!
    You should try your hand at constructing a puzzle or 3 or 4!!
    ; )

    Bird 2:29 PM  

    Great puzzle. Love the theme. After getting 18A (which is my favorite as it just rolls off the tongue) I wasn’t sure if it was anagrams or embedded singers, but his name is spelled EMINEM. I rate this as easy as I almost completed the grid the first time through (I usually do across then down).

    Needed to change ACHE to PAIN because TEEEAGE is not correct.

    Nice write-up Doug. Didn’t know about Rex’s PRISM. Now I need to leave the blog, delete everything and go off the grid (pun intended).

    @Ryan –
    1) I solve on paper (delivered daily) with pen.
    2) This is a personal rule, but if I need to look something up then I DNF. Someone noticed me Googling and called me a cheater. I replied that I DNF and was learning for next time.
    3) About 1.5.
    If you enjoy it, keep at it because you will only get better.

    @Bob K – Agreed on clue/answer for 9A. “Sidewalk writing utensil” is a better clue.

    @M&A - LOL

    I wonder the captcha numbers returned because too many robots got in.

    John V 2:30 PM  

    @ryan. I solve on paper with a Pilot Frixion gel pen, which is erasable. Love that pen.

    When, under Will Weng, I was starting out, I developed the habit of correcting any errors by erasing and re-writing, rather than only reading the correct; made the new word stick better.

    Don't perseverate. If you don't know a word, move on, come back later. This is important. Have to get into the flow.

    Don't be afraid to just write down the first thing that comes to you. Writing it out may trigger ideas that won't come if you keep it in your head.

    Most important rule: have fun. No exceptions :-)

    Sfingi 3:43 PM  

    @Steve - I use MOUSSE - I'm a senior citizen, so maybe there is something left for which ads can target me.

    Old people also like Jay Leno, and a few nights ago, Wanda Sykes talked about working for NSA.

    Liked this puzzle lots. Had oak and Ink before poison IVY.

    @Benko - you mean the booze didn't help you to relax into your inner genius? (It just makes me snore.)

    @Ryan - only the paper. I use a pastel Flair because I can write flat on my back. My writing is too weak for pencil.
    Towards Thurs. (it used to be towards Wed.), mark clues I don't know if they are Googleable. At end,if DNF, will Google.
    Also, just look at the letters already in and often see the answer w/o looking at the clue. Think multiple answers in my head.
    You're not annoying.

    Though it came fast enough, philosophy being equivalent to CREDO annoys me. I call that "philosophy with a small p." As a Philosophy major (and mother, sister, and wife of same - yes it's a gene.) Philosophy is a study, not a belief.

    sanfranman59 3:43 PM  

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

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

    Tue 8:03, 8:19, 0.97, 39%, Easy-Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Tue 5:09, 5:00, 1.03, 60%, Medium-Challenging

    mac 3:50 PM  

    @Doug: still feeling guilty about not often listening to the clips. My name must be at the bottom of the list.... Excuse: I am in the kitchen/family room and would disturb the other denizens.

    Doug P 4:02 PM  

    @Loren - Next time I blog for Rex, I'm going to include one wrong square in the solution grid just to foul you up. :)

    Anonymous 4:11 PM  

    1) I save the Across Lite file and print for solving.

    1A) Pen only. Sanford Uni-ball Deluxe, fine.

    1B) One write-over is easy. Two write-overs are pretty ugly. I (almost) never need a third.

    1C) Usually with a legal pad on a clipboard. I may make notes of things I want to look up later.

    2) If it's a tough one, as Friday and Saturday can sometimes be for me, I grind out absolutely every letter until a white flag is needed. The official solving ends when I solve the crossword or pack it in.

    2A) After I declare myself done with the crossword, that I've done all I can do, then and only then will look things up. (I loved DETERGE the other day. I got it, but it was cool check the etymology.)

    2B) Monday through Thursday I mostly finish: 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 - 20 minutes, 25 - 40 minutes.

    2C) Friday through Sunday I usually come close to finishing. I run about 1-in-3 or 1-in-2 for each of those days. Incorrect solves are usually just a very few letters, but I sometimes get blown out.

    2D) Friday: about an hour, maybe less, sometimes many hours. Saturday: something over an hour, hopefully under two hours, sometimes a couple of days. Sunday: an hour or hour-and-a-half. Sundays are easier, but the size means there are more nasty crosses.

    3) 1

    Nameless 4:21 PM  

    @Ryan -

    1) Pen to paper with a cup of coffee. None of this digital crap (except coming here)(and no crap here)
    2) I never look anything up. If I can't finish, which is rare, I simply come here.
    3) How is asking good questions annoying?

    Anonymous 4:59 PM  

    Further thoughts from Anonymous 4:11 --

    1B) Black, of course.

    1D) I keep a couple of highlighters handy for themed crosswords; pink and green. For a fairly simple theme; pink only. For multi-layered theme answers; both highlighter colors.

    Anonymous 5:19 PM  

    I get the paper delivered and use whatever writing implement is handy. Sometimes I Google, sometimes I use M-W and sometimes I give up, like on Fridays and Saturdays. However, I always come here for the critique and comments. 0.

    dk 5:46 PM  

    @Ryan, Thanks. Lotsa posts. I now know where you eat, sleep and breathe. How are you liking those faux silk boxers you got from Patagonia a few years back?

    Solving. Get the NYT dead tree version (they need the money), solve the puzzle with a Stabilo fine point, make no mistakes, never look up anything and never, never view the clips posted by Rex or any of his winged monkeys.

    It is ok to complain about the robot test.

    Winged Monkey 5:52 PM  

    @dk: har

    Anonymous 6:37 PM  

    FYI, the "we can do it" poster isn't Rosie. The two only started to be associated with each other in the 80s.

    Unknown 8:31 PM  

    Croatian raincoat
    Eritrean retainer

    ...because I had to

    Angola Coal(a) Mousses 12:57 AM  

    I love when a puzzle inspires others!
    SO on that level, total success!

    Too bad things are a bit too long bec
    ARGENTINE TANGERINE 18 are rather swell!

    Puzzle was nice, the anagrams were nontortured, sophisticated and kept to one part of the world...

    That ARAFAT ISRAEL crossing was brilliant!

    sanfranman59 1:35 AM  

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

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

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

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:31, 3:49, 0.92, 13%, Easy
    Tue 5:01, 5:00, 1.01, 53%, Medium

    spacecraft 12:59 PM  

    Three days in a row! ABSolutely ABSurd. If it continues, I may have to ABStain, and be ABSent--it's just too much to ABSorb! Maybe I'll just swallow some ABSinthe to cure the ABScess in my brain and forget the whole thing.

    I tried to make up an anagram for my country, but UNITED STATES NEAT STUDIES is meh at best. SITUATED NEST isn't much better. Oh well.

    Today's puzzle was fine, theme was fine, fill get the idea. I parsed 45a differently, having ___DEAR already down. YES DEAR, that staple of all successful SAYIDOs, doesn't work for the clue. I finally grokked that 45d "Circus man" was looking for a NAME. After BAILEY went in the BEA fell into place; I thought it was Mr. Arthur asking for something.

    Well, @Ryan, I bet you got a whole lot more input than you'd ever have guessed. As you've seen, the great thing about this blog is that you make your own standards--and those standards can evolve over time. It's your party, and you can Bing if you want to, Bing if you want to...Anyway, welcome!

    D 1:34 PM  

    Enjoyed the anagrams! Thought Mr. Morales name was EASu, which made ISRAEL hard to see, but otherwise no problem. Agree with just about everything everyone said, including the fact that for sidewalk writing, CHALK is a tool not an aid.

    Captcha sounds like an airport direction: gateven 64

    DMGrandma 1:36 PM  

    Enjoyed the anagrams! Thought Mr. Morales name was EASu, which made ISRAEL hard to see, but otherwise no problem. Agree with just about everything everyone said, including the fact that for sidewalk writing, CHALK is a tool not an aid.

    Captcha sounds like an airport direction: gateven 64

    DMG 1:39 PM  

    There seems to be some kind of strange echo in here!!!

    Connie in Seattle 2:02 PM  

    Here in seattle they're cracking down on BUI -boating under the influence (is there any other way to boat?) When I heard this on the radio, I thought they said "voting under the influence" or VUI. I said to myself "hooboy, they're really watching us now!

    Dirigonzo 2:55 PM  

    I thought I had CHALKed up my second error-free, write-over-free grid in as many days only to come here and learn RoVEN is not a word.

    Having YEMENENEMY in the grid was a little unsettling in view of the world-wide terror alert attributed to activities originating there.

    @spacecfraft - you missed the singular version at ABner.

    @CiS - no, there is no other way to boat, but VUI would explain a lot.

    @D DMG DMGrandma - were you inspired by the "production line" puzzle of a couple of days ago?

    Solving in Seattle 5:49 PM  

    Ryan is now officially famous. See whether he ever asks another question.

    Really enjoyed this puzzle while enjoying two Taco Time crispy beef tacos and a Corona. @CiS, the poor Easterners don't know what they're missing.

    @Diri, the new acronym on the news is AQAP so they don't have to insult the Yemenis directly.

    capcha: miclate. Getting a really short pour at Starbucks?

    rain forest 7:21 PM  

    @Ryan - If you ever get down here where the kinder, gentler posters live (except for @Spacecraft, our resident curmudgeon, lol), a few tips:
    paper, pen, no refs, quiet musing, loud Hah!s, 2 coffees, dogged determination, running the alphabet, switching to bottom, going back to the top, running the alphabet all the way through this time, remembering the downs, silent exultation except for Saturday when you might indulge yourself in a gloating exultation.

    Liked this one, despite the ABS.

    spacecraft 8:10 PM  

    Curmudgeon?!? I resemble that remark! But I do it, as the Russian handler in "The Manchurian Candidate" loved to say:

    Always with a little humor, Comrade; always with a little humor.

    Dirigonzo 8:19 PM  

    @rain forest - I believe you have just penned the syndic-solvers creed; I love it!

    @SiS - Yemeni Crickets! I meant no insult to the good people of Yemen, just the evil-doers who operate from bases there, so AQAP it is from now on.

    @DMG - ever since I posted the comment about your name I can't stop humming this little piece of ear candy.

    Waxy in Montreal 8:23 PM  


    (Lest anyone be dazzled by any apparent brilliance on my part, these were all unabashedly stolen directly from the website:

    Waxy in Montreal 8:28 PM  

    Correction on that address:

    Margaret 10:25 PM  

    Confidently put in "Smiley" as the "Circus man" and thought "neat, a John Le Carre clue on a Tuesday."

    Solving in Seattle 12:25 AM  

    @waxy, you totally rock! Great anagrams! Something I have ABSolutely NO skills.

    Waxy in Montreal 8:00 AM  

    @SiS, AB Sorry to hear that...

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