Ill-fated mission of 1967 / THU 9-19-13 / Pince librarian at Hogwarts / Nut Gone Flake celebrated 1968 Small Faces album / Posthumous inductee into the Poker Hall of Fame 1979 / Entice with music / Modified as software for different platform

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Constructor: Michael Blake

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: C AND Y COATED (58A: Like M&M's ... or four words to describe 17-, 24-, 35- and 50-Across) — familiar phrases have C affixed to beginning AND Y affixed to the end, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: "OGDENS' Nut Gone Flake" (4D: "___ Nut Gone Flake," celebrated 1968 Small Faces album) —
Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake is a successful concept album by the English rock band Small Faces. Released on 24 May 1968 the LP became a number one hit in the UK Album Charts on 29 June where it remained for a total of six weeks. [...] Side One is a mix of early heavy rock with "Song of a Baker"; psychedelic cockney knees-up songs "Lazy Sunday" and "Rene", the opening instrumental title track (which resembles their second single "I've Got Mine", which was a flop in 1965), and the soul influenced ballad "Afterglow", as it is called on the LP, but is titled "Afterglow of Your Love" on the subsequent single and some compilations. // Side Two is based on an original fairy tale about a boy called Happiness Stan, narrated in his unique ‘Unwinese’ gobbledegook by Stanley Unwin, who picked up modern slang from the band and incorporated it into the surreal narrative. (wikipedia)

• • •

An interesting idea, technically well executed, not terribly enjoyable.  The wacky answers just aren't funny. They don't land. They're dull. They do exactly what the theme answer says they will. They are spot-on from a technical standpoint. But CHOSE DOWNY? Snore. COLD MASTERY? Just ... odd. CLOCK PICKY? Awkward. CART FAIRY, I like. That one works. But the rest are just workmanlike. The revealer is nice, and I want to like the results of the whole thing, but I don't. Not much. Don't hate it, by any means. But in terms of enjoyability, it was somewhat wide of the mark for me.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Ability to survive freezing temperatures? (COLD MASTERY)
  • 24A: Selected a certain fabric softener? (CHOSE DOWNY)
  • 35A: Sprite who helps you find a shopping vehicle? (CART FAIRY)
  • 50A: Super-choosy about time pieces? (CLOCK PICKY)
Somewhat slower than normal time, largely because I failed so terribly in my initial stab at the NW. I had nothing. ESS. I had ESS. Ugh. If I'd been a bit more systematic, I'd've gotten ULAN and possibly ELLE, but I ran all the Downs first—nothing. Two long Acrosses—nothing. I knew PORSCHE (27A: 911 maker), so rode that into the center, where I promptly put CFO where CPA was supposed to go and so had to do quite a bit of hacking about to sort out PEACH and the central theme answer. Floated rather easily from there down to the SE, where AIR BILL was totally unknown to me (64A: FedEx form), but the rest of the corner was pretty pliable. I can't imagine TWEEDLE connoting something enticing, but I'll take the clue at its word (44D: Entice with music). So I got the revealer and understood immediately the whole C/Y bit, but didn't really register that they were "coating" real phrases. Anyway, SW was the easiest section by far. Downs went down 1, 2, 3. Returned to the top where the NE proved a slight problem because I couldn't find the right test to put into 34A: Tests that consist of five subjects, for short (GEDS). Plural, eh? OK. Also, I had "GIT!" for "OUT!" (22A: "Shoo!"). NW was where I finished, with that pesky Roman numeral on the APOLLO mission being my last letter (2D: Ill-fated mission of 1967); [Family pet name] = SIS = strangely baffling.

My main take-away from today was that I really have to commit IRMA to memory (55A: ___ Pince, librarian at Hogwarts). Not that many viable crossword IRMAs. Good to know them.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Anonymous 12:01 AM  

    Yay for more crosswordese!

    I think we're averaging about 25% this week. NYT crossword record?

    jae 12:09 AM  

    Easy-medium for me.  Caught the C-Y bookends about half way through and waited for the punch line. 

    I suspect part of what made this a Thurs. was stuff like MONTELL, OGDENS and AIRBILL all of which were WOEs to me.  (@lms- I actually own  a DYSON.  It is an excellent machine.)  Only erasure was @Rex CFO in the wrong place.

    EROTICA and ERRATIC make a nice vertical pair.

    I'm never quite sure how to spell HAYEK (perhaps now I'll remember).

    Have finally done enough puzzles so that ULAN and ARNE are gimmes and clues like 7d don't fool me as often as they used to.

    Cute Thurs.  Not a great Thurs., but definitely OK.  I mean CART FAIRY was pretty amusing.  Liked it.

    Anonymous 12:10 AM  

    Family "pet" name, as in nickname...

    John Child 12:30 AM  

    Many WOEs for me. In the SE alone TWEEDLE, MONTELL Jordan, and EMT clued as "Lifesaver, briefly" gave me fits. OGDEN'S Nut Gone Flake?

    Family Pet made me laugh. I would have loved to name a dog SIS. SAYIDO is great but tough for Thursday. To compensate, maybe, the rest of the clueing is very easy.

    Thanks to Rex for explaining C and Y. It just looked like random nonsense to me...

    Did. Not. Enjoy.

    mathguy 12:53 AM  

    Really liked it. I learned ten entries from the crossing entries because there was a lot of crosswordese even though not many gimmes. Figured out that C and Y sandwiched familiar phrases before seeing how CANDYCOATED explained it. That was the crowning delight.

    wreck 1:05 AM  

    I am actually kind of stoked that Rex had about the same reactions as myself on this one. While I am no where near the average time finishers here (36 minutes for me) -- I am starting to catch on to the methodologies that most of the regulars here see.

    Steve J 1:07 AM  

    I get what Rex is saying about the theme phrases, but I liked them a bit more. CART FAIRY and CLOCK PICKY (where I first picked up the theme, although with essentially simultaneously solving CANDY COATED), in particularly, even though they are, of course, nonsense.

    Finished this one on the fast side of normal for my typical Thursday. Dropped in LACOSTE straight out of the gate, which enabled the NW to fall quickly. (Aside: One thing I'm enjoying as I solve more and more is how much more confident I am getting in dropping in my first reaction and finding it to be right. It's making past frustrations worthwhile.)

    In contrast, the SE took a bit of effort to come together. Inexplicably decided the British composer at 53A was MANN (there is a British composer named Mann, but not Thomas; meanwhile, there is a Thomas Mann, but he wasn't a composer). Knew EATCROW had to be right, as well as ERRATIC (which I first entered as ERATTIC), and I had a hunch about MONTELL. Things fell back into place once I put Thomas Mann back in the world of literature, and finally ARNE pulled itself from my memory banks.

    I've never seen/heard TWEEDLE without its being proceeded by "dumb".

    One of my favorite moments of the puzzle: "How in the hell am I supposed to know anyone in the Poker Hall of Fame? H_YL_? Oh, duh."

    Liked the long downs, almost across the board. Three-letter fill was mostly almost uniformly bad. Overall, I enjoyed this one.

    Questinia 2:01 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    chefwen 2:13 AM  

    I got it but I didn't GIT it. I can usually find many things that I like in a puzzle, but this one just left me cold. No pizzazz, no cute tricks. The long answers just seemed inane. I may be missing something, but I don't think so.

    My capcha was more fun. gypsnsi - A Gypsy that just sneezed.

    Questinia 2:20 AM  

    I decided to do something new and went straight for solving the revealer clue answer: CANDY COATED. Easily gotten. Having what I believed to be my Rosetta stone I tried parsing four words from CANDY COATED and I just got word salad...(how is either a C or a Y a word?)

    So, I went for the straight solve. But I think something happened as a result of my prior parsing attempts... as in my NUT went FLAKE.
    LOA went from LOA-KEA-LOA-KEA-. Nearby LEA didn't seem to help.
    CHER ( movie:Clueless) was conflated with ELLE (movie: Legally Blond). Reese Witherspoon (actress who played ELLE) became associated with Reese's (candy), HEATH bars and M&M's, the latter spurring a tangential cognitive dream sequence of Mm Mm Good from yesterday... I won't go into what I did with BACKEND-EROTICA -ERRATIC-TWEEDLE.

    Then I closed my iPad, got off the train (since I was on one) to get onto another train (waiting at the station) and the act of changing tracks must have metaphorically rebooted me. End result: Easy-medium solve. Liked the C-Y framing. Fun!

    But how are C AND Y COATED four *words*? Don't really care. Good puzzle.

    Rube 3:08 AM  

    Had to make WAGs for the cross of IRMA and IMNOT as well as EMT, for MONTELL and TWEEDLE were totally out of my mind. Nevertheless, doable w/o Googles... always nice for Wednesdays.

    Otherwise a reasonable solve. Always wondered about LACOSTE, but never bothered to look it up until now -- only to find out he was a tennis player -- should have known. Those geophysicists among us would have appreciated the clue being "Half of a gravimeter inventor team" with the answer being as in LaCoste-Romberg. (OK -- Will S. would have never accepted this, but I thought I'd try.)

    Rube 3:09 AM  

    Had to make WAGs for the cross of IRMA and IMNOT as well as EMT, for MONTELL and TWEEDLE were totally out of my mind. Nevertheless, doable w/o Googles... always nice for Thursdays.

    Otherwise a reasonable solve. Always wondered about LACOSTE, but never bothered to look it up until now -- only to find out he was a tennis player -- should have known. Those geophysicists among us would have appreciated the clue being "Half of a gravimeter inventor team" with the answer being as in LaCoste-Romberg. (OK -- Will S. would have never accepted this, but I thought I'd try.)

    Anonymous 5:27 AM  

    I was baffled by the theme answers and just checked the NYT site and got clarity.
    That changes the whole thing and makes the puzzle very clever!
    MONTELL was the last entry to fall, ARtE looked OK to me.

    dk 6:06 AM  

    Cannot begin to tell you the times i heard the Hapless Stan side while in another demension --as friend whose parents often traveled loved it. Me... Not so much.

    Not a fan of this one. Too much of the fill was stretched thin to accomodate the theme. Often happens when one PORTS software.

    ** (2stars) A lackluster week so far.

    Rob C 6:19 AM  

    Easy Thurs. Played like a Wed. for me. I didn't see the full theme until I came here. I got that they were 'coated' in C AND Y, but never thought to look in between the C & Y to see what the root phrase was. Duh.

    Yesterday's puzzle could have been a Thurs. and today's a Wed. But I really liked the unexpected rebus yesterday.

    NYer 6:51 AM  

    Had dOYLE for 41D at first until I realized Brunson is still alive.

    ARNE crossing MONTELL in the SE might be a Natick for some.

    Like @Rex, NW was the last to fall for me. Faster than usual Thursday. In fact, I was happy to have finished!

    Veterans of this blog, kindly explain WOE and WAG again?

    Evan 7:52 AM  

    I found this easy-medium, probably easier than yesterday's, although my time says yesterday's was easier. I sorta like CLOCK PICKY because it sounds like some old-timey slang for some reason (Pish posh! Balderdash and clockpicky, I say!).

    I kinda wish that southwest corner didn't have so many abbrev.'s and initialisms, and that there hadn't been two Roman numerals (APOLLO I and the random CII), but I didn't have too many problems with this otherwise.

    A few other possible themers come to mind -- it's actually way harder to come up with some of these than I thought:

    * CALL RIGHTY [Summon a reliever from the bullpen?]
    * CATE DIRTY [News headline about actress Blanchett's mud-wrestling activities?] (I know, that one sucks)
    * CHARD ROCKY [Film fighter made of veggies?]
    * CRAP MASTERY [Parents' goal in potty-training their kids?]

    Same problem that many others said with CPA/CFO.


    WOE = What-On-Earth (a polite version of WTF)

    Z 7:57 AM  

    Pretty much has been said. Hand up for the wrong CFO, ARNE/MONTELL was pure inference (have I mentioned that ARNE Paige/Rod Duncan is an idiot?), trying GreS before GEDS, etc.

    About 30 minutes here, but felt longer. Sort of a Thursday plus for me. LACOSTE came from crosses because I was trying to think of a baseball player. SIS was just odd (thanks @anon 12:10). I also wanted 11D to be I'LL ----. Fixing the I to the correct A was my last LTR in.

    LOA next to LEA? yuck.

    @NYer - WOE=What On Earth, WAG=Wild Ass Guess, and WTF=What the Fuck.

    jburgs 7:59 AM  

    I can't believe I fell for the "series opener" clue. I had entered Lacosta at one across which left me with "ASS" instead of the correct ESS. Didn't pursue it even though I had no idea how "ASS" fit in. That was my only stupid error.

    I got that the answers had "C" at the beginning and Y at the end but it was not until coming here and reading Rob C's entry that it dawned on me to read "C and Y" rather than than "CANDY" That was a fun revelation to me.

    I have been doing these puzzles for about a year and a half. I thought that it would be good to help in preventing Alzheimers as the experts have been saying. I may have to demand a refund from NYT though. I still forget where I've parked at Costco.

    Unknown 8:06 AM  

    Easy-ish for me with the exceptions of OGDENS and ULAN, which I did not know. First theme answer I filled in was CHOSE DOWNY and thought there must be a trick to it, figured out HOSE DOWN, then went on to see the C and Y bookends on the other themers. Kept saying to myself "C and Y, C and Y" but never clicked onto CANDY until I got to the revealer.

    Captcha is "2 usedloo"...

    Loren Muse Smith 8:07 AM  

    Rex – ESS was my initial entry, too. Thought of LACE-UP, but since I wasn't thinking plural, I went off to other sections.

    I "finished" ("arse/Mostell" Natick - @jae – I got ULAN, but I'll have to try to sock away ARNE) and stared at the grid forever, understanding that the themers started with C and ended with Y, but it took forever to parse CANDY COATED to C AND Y COATED. So I parsed it correctly but *still* didn't see it. I was wondering why not "chardonnay" or "Canterbury" when I finally got it. The aha moment was terrific and well worth the price of admission. Wow. The copycat possibilities are endless: MANGY CURLS, CUPID'S BOWLS, PEE PEELS. . . LANDS END. . .

    @Evan – good ones!

    Speaking of "arse," I was delighted with its BACK END mate. Oh well.
    Liked your "ass," @jburgs.

    How 'bout those discriminating SPRATS crossing PICKY. And three areas to relax: GLENS, HEATH, LEA.

    Also three proper H's: HEATH, HAYEK, HOYLE.

    CLOCK PICKY – last year I was at this CLOCK repairman's home getting my cuckoo clock serviced. He had CLOCKs everywhere – tables, bookshelves. . . Among the dozens he had on a wall, right in the center, was a simple digital CLOCK – the only digital there. I pointed to it and said, "What. You're not a purist?" He looked at me a long time and said, "No one has ever gotten that joke." I felt so smart.

    TWEEDLE is a new one for me, too. Huh?

    A: "I can't seem to lure anyone into my store."
    B: "Have you considered TWEEDLing? I've TWEEDLEd for years in my store, and they pour in like crazy. My go-to TWEEDLE is CHER'S remix of OGDEN'S Nut Gone Flake."

    @Gill I.P., @Milford – welcome back!

    @TachyJacky – congrats on your first rebus!

    Michael Blake – Yay! I liked it a lot, and the best part was the trick clicking in!

    Glimmerglass 8:12 AM  

    The puzzle itself was medium for me, but it was a long time before I understood the revealer. I couldn't see four words in CANDY COATED, even though I could see (after the fact) that the theme answers were bracketed by C and Y. I guess I don't think of letters as words (unless written as phonetic -- CEE and WYE). The light finally dawned, and I saw that I'd spent almost as much time on the revealer as on the puzzle.

    jberg 8:24 AM  

    Put me among those who didn't notice the familiar phrases inside C AND Y, and so thought it was a really stupid puzzle until I got here. Only one writeover: Thomas Ades before ARNE, whom I'd never heard of even if he did write "Rule Britannia." But it went really slow, partly because CLOCK PICKY was hard to believe in until I had a lot of crosses, and partly because of medium-touch cluing -- also very few connections between sections.

    Now that I like the theme, I like the puzzle - though I agree with @Rex that it would have been better if the theme phrases were zippier.

    Also liked having ACROSS and the hidden DOWN, though better if the latter hadn't been an across.

    joho 8:41 AM  

    Super clever reveal which I didn't completely understand until coming here ... thanks, @Rex and crew!

    SIS (Hi, Mom!) is very familiar to me. And, yes, her brother was "Bud."

    I had itsOnME before ALLOWME.

    Hardest spot was APOGEES/OGDENS but I got it.

    My favorite answer was CLOCKPICKY just because it's so silly.

    Thank you, Michael Blake, there's a lot more going on here than first meets the eye!

    John V 8:47 AM  

    Liked it, liked the play on C AND Y. Cool!

    11d took forever. Downs sometimes do that to me; have to write them out to get it.

    All the names were fairly crossed. Thanks for that, Michael Blake.

    Carola 8:52 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Carola 8:55 AM  

    Put in COLD MASTERY, CHOSE DOWNY, and CART FAIRY with "Wha?" in a balloon over my head, but with CLOCK PICKY, I saw the internal phrases. All right....

    Then the question was, why were they sandwiched between C and Y? After yesterday's unanswered "Why are there 5 tents?" I had a bad feeling about this. Was the constructor taunting me with the question, "Do you C Y? (see why)?" I didn't. So I was very happy we got a reveal today. Cute.

    Almost DNF because of ARNE x MONTELL - ran the alphabet for the N.

    TWEEDLE was new to me, too. Here are a couple of nice quotes from the OED:
    "Touch the trembling chords,...and the fond yielding Maid is tweedled into love." (1740)
    "Wheedle her, tweedle her, teedle her, but don't let her make sure of you." (1896)

    Katzzz 9:02 AM  

    For a fan of the British Invasion, "Ogdens" was a gimme. Love to see another Small Faces' title, "Itchycoo Park," used in a puzzle.

    Anonymous 9:07 AM  

    I am an unashamed Harry Potter geek. I recently reread all 7 books, and did not find "Irma" Pince once. Only "Madam Pince" -- and I was looking for it because of its use in crosswords. I'd love to know where this clue comes from.

    GILL I. 9:13 AM  

    Well, I thought this was quite fun in a groany sort of ERRATIC EROTICA way.
    Seeing the word TWEEDLE was worth the price of admission.
    Like @jae, i've done enough puzzles so that words like APOGEES, ESS and those rascally Bacchanalian ORGies don't fool me anymore.
    Thanks LMS for the WB. I always get a little worried when I don't see our usual posters for a while.
    Like @Milford, I didn't do a single puzzle nor read the blog (no WIFI!). Getting the shakes is no fun....!!!

    Anonymous 9:16 AM  

    @Anon 9:07 - The clue most likely came from a Wiki search for people named IRMA. The constructor/editor just looks for new IRMAs late in the week. The clue is most properly read as 55A: ___ Pince, librarian at Hogwarts (i.e. random first name)

    Norm 9:35 AM  

    Ugh. Those theme answers were just plain dumb. Not entertaining at all.

    chefbea 9:57 AM  

    I finished the 17,24,35 and 50 across and the revealer but I still don't understand....four words to describe the theme answers. Maybe if I ate a heath bar (my favorite) I'd get it.

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:00 AM  

    :>( Never saw the internal base phrases! :>(

    lawprof 10:03 AM  

    Thought the four-word revealter for M&M's had to be "MELTS IN YOUR MOUTH," which didn't fit, so gave up on using the theme to help the solve. Ended up finishing in more-or-less typical Thursday time, but didn't catch the theme. So...does completing the fill without getting the theme result in a DNF? A question to ponder? Nah.

    quilter1 10:11 AM  

    DNF as the SW just wouldn't open up for me. The three 3-letter acrosses (I did get DEA) just wouldn't show themselves. Got everything else tho. On to BEQ and the salon.

    chefbea 10:38 AM  

    Just read the comments from Michael, Will and Jeff at Xword info so now I think I get it. The 4 words are


    gifcan 11:08 AM  

    Same here, I didn't get the fill until I came here, very clever. I liked the puzzle even before understanding it.

    I agree with @Steve J that first reactions are usually correct. Many *wild* guesses turn out to be the right answers and lead to opening up the puzzle.

    Yes @Rube, a reasonable solve.

    Anonymous 11:17 AM  

    Meh meh meh

    Sandy K 11:29 AM  

    Theme C AND Y COATED was cute, but the answers were not all tasty morsels...LOCK PICK? I guess that's something.

    Wanted to like it more, but TWEEDLE? MONTELL? OGDENS? And most of the 3-word fills were not so MMMM GOOD...LOA, LEA, LTR, CPA, CFO, CII, EPI, EMT, NSC, DEA, PST, ATO- OUT!

    I liked the SPRATS. Wonder if they know the UNSERS, ALOUS and the BANGLES?

    For 40D, tried to fit in schloCk.

    mac 11:37 AM  

    I thought it was fun, but I got the theme very quickly. Cold mastery was such a weird term that I took another look and noticed the old master. After chose Downy I put in the rest of the C and Y's without checking the clues, which meant I had to erase one for a D.

    One CFO in the wrong place and git for out, plus Montell Jordan/Jordan Montell are all the same to me.

    Masked and AnonymoUUs 11:47 AM  

    thUmbsUp for the theme idea coupled with the revealer. Nice stacks of sevens, also. Decent selection of weejects.

    Honorable snort out to GEDS; nice plural weeject, today's daily double winner. Sorry, but no trifecta. Would need a plural French weeject, for that highest of honors. (Examples, for aspiring constructors: OUIS, LUIS, HUIS, DUIS, PEUS, EAUS, MERS)

    Thought the themers were suitably wacky, in a randomly wacky manner. Heart leapt, as CART FAIRY was early to fall, and M&A immediately of course hoped for a "Switch Leadin Letters + Sound-like-real-words" theme.
    Theoretical resultin clue: "Man, how far did that ___?!"

    Thanx for the entertainment, Mr. Blake. had no idea that CANDY made such a good ampersandwich.


    p.s. Oof. U's are gettin rare as pewits, lately.

    Newbie 11:51 AM  

    The SE was brutal for me. Had EMS (for EMT), and for "Fill" had Sand. Since I didn't know either of the proper names that crossed, and didn't know Tweedle, I ended up with Swaddle!

    Unknown 12:28 PM  

    I appreciated this theme much more after I was reminded that today is National Talk Like a Pirate Day. We could have had one of those.

    Loren Muse Smith 12:32 PM  

    @Carola – you get the prize for today's most clever comment: "Do you C Y? (see why)?"

    @lawprof – excellent question. It has to be a personal thing. If I have to be shown the theme even after filling the grid, I feel like I didn't really finish. But I'm among the The Theme Is Everything people.

    @M&A – my inner 14-year old immediately went there when CART FAIRY fell. Your comment made me literally laugh out loud. Remember the tongue twister

    One smart fellow. He felt smart.
    Two smart fellows. They felt smart.
    Three smart fellows. They all felt smart.

    Steve J 12:43 PM  

    @M&A: You need to include a key with your posts. Weeject? 4-Oh? The weird fascination with the letter U? The malfunctioning G on your keyboard?

    M and A and See and Why 1:06 PM  

    But I Digress Dept.

    Accordin to Crossword Fiend blog, some crossword dude named Andy is up for winnin $2 mil on Million Second Quiz show tonight on the tube.

    I've watched a couple episodes of this quiz show, but am far from bein enslaved by it. Still, it has some neat features...

    1. No trivia questions about pewits.
    2. When a contestant loses, all they get is this awkward moment, followed by Ryan Seacrest sayin "don't let the door hit yer butt on the way out, loser".
    3. Funky electronics. Dollar figures orbitin contestants like Tinker Bell gone Gordon Gecko. Answer buttons that sometimes malfunction, kicking whimpering big winners off the show in shocked disbelief.
    4. Totally bewilderin rules. Similar to that there Vaccination card game in "The Accidental Tourist".
    5. Contestants are tortured overnight, via sleep deprivation and an all-Subway-sandwich diet.
    6. Quiz competition continues off the air. So next time you see a show, everything's been changed. Makes yah really value the part you watched. Rivetin.
    7. Sometimes they stage an on-air home invasion to get a "line breaker" contestant. Other contestants appear outa thin air -- evidently friends and relatives of the show producers.

    I'm goin on waaaaay too long, and sellin nothin, here. But hey -- tune in tonite and root for the crossword dude.

    Somethin else about today's puz:
    Liked that it had both ACROSS and DOWN(Y) in the grid. Puz seemed kinda easier and less weirdball than usual, for a ThursPuz. Clues were a bit dull, tryin no doubt to makeup for the zany themer clues. I mean, day-um... "Starchy vegetable" was one of the highlights, dude.


    Z 1:20 PM  

    @Steve J - Wee Rejects become "weejects". 4-Oh is a reference to the 40th greatest crossword solver in the universe, AKA - Rex Parker. We don't talk about anyone's weird fascinations, politeness and all. Beets? Umlauts? Birding? Opera? And really, questions about somebody's "malfunctioning G" are best saved for afternoon TV.

    Norm 1:29 PM  

    Okay. I see it now. Very clever. Dumb was me; not the theme answers.

    syndy 1:29 PM  

    Got it in 20! got the inner theme @ LOCK PICKY ! only fixes that wandering CFO and Run! for OUT.The wacky phrases were suffiently wacky for me.Three letter fill is by definition "yucky"AKA "MORTAR" just keep it straight and thin please!Thanx for the write up FL

    U vs. the Alphabet 1:34 PM  

    @Z - U rule.

    @lms - U B funny.

    @4-Oh - U 2.

    @Steve J - C @Z.


    Nemo paradise 1:49 PM  

    Actually, they don't wear ski caps in the Winter Olyympics. They wear helmets.

    Anoa Bob 1:57 PM  

    "Cee" and "wye" are words, but "C" and "Y" are letters, so I thought the reveal should have read "...or two letters and two words to describe..."

    I wonder if the UNSERS and the SPRATS ever get together.

    Didn't the DEA recently make some COLLARS after finding pot growing in the HEATH of a Mauna LOA LEA?

    August West 1:58 PM  

    Sorry. Still lightheaded from lms' admitted love of King DONGs.

    chefbea 2:34 PM  

    @U versus the alphabet....

    how bout U beet me!!!

    Jody Bilyeu 3:13 PM  

    Perhaps it's regional, one's instincts in grouping that particular clump of attributive nouns: name vs. family

    Lewis 3:21 PM  

    Well, I see the interior phrases inside the C's and Y's, but... that seems so random. HOSEDOWN? Yes, I've heard of that, but what does it have to do with anything in this puzzle? Yes, it's a common phrase, as are LOCKPICK, ARTFAIR, and OLDMASTER, but... so what? It all seems kind of vague to me. Can someone help me see the light?

    TWEEDLE -- not in the language and I predict it never will be. It's clued like it's in the language.

    The puzzle itself? Aside from too much grid gruel, a lot of fun! Thanks for making it, Michael.

    Ray J 3:29 PM  

    First cloned sheep on a rugged rock projection? Anybody?

    Yep @Evan - Not easy to come up with these. You done good.

    Yep @ Rex - Wacky phrases.

    Speaking of which, how did the folks who needed to go to the NYT site for a theme explanation not understand “- familiar phrases have C affixed to beginning AND Y affixed to the end, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style”? Just wonderin’.

    @Rob C, shiver me timbers, matey, I just did that puz in the archive a day or two ago. Is there more than one?

    Enjoyed the puzzle. Seemed pretty easy for a Thursday.

    Anybody 3:41 PM  

    @Ray J - har. Crag Dolly?

    sanfranman59 3:48 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 14:24, 16:44, 0.86, 22%, Easy-Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Thu 8:20, 9:30, 0.88, 23%, Easy-Medium

    Ray J 3:51 PM  

    King Dong, we have a wiener! Prize is in the MAil(?).

    ANON B 4:10 PM  

    Unusual for me. Finished the puzzle
    fairly easily and then it took a while before I caught on to the theme even though it's not a new one.

    Unknown 4:24 PM  

    @Ray J - There's always one in the crowd. I looked back a few years on xword info. It looks like 2011 is the only one, although, I seem to recall doing more than one in the past. Maybe in another publication??

    Ray J 5:11 PM  

    @Rob C – The one I was talking about was from 2008. I’ve probably done the one you’re referring to, but I’ll check it out anyway. That’s one of the great things about getting older – puzzles solved not so long ago seem fresh again so soon.

    Steve J 5:24 PM  

    @Z: Thank you for the very enlightening and entertaining answers to all my questions. And good advice to save "malfunctioning G" questions for the proper venues (afternoon talk shows, doctor's offices, commercials where couples have their own matching bathtubs, etc.).

    Unknown 6:02 PM  

    @Ray J - Yes, that was the other one I was thinking of. I missed that one, I only glanced quick and thought it was a themeless. oops, 4 and out

    Apogees Collars Montell 6:23 PM  

    Loved it!!!!

    Altho the CANDYCOATED phrases were not fun by themselves, once you CANDYCOATED them with
    C and Y they were wacky.

    THis was a double reveal...bec he could have had just
    C AND Y and done phrases that were C AND Y
    (Like Cy Young or Canned Yoghurt or something, but he took it a whole extra step which is fabulous!!!

    And I agree on the whole EPI, EMY, CII thing, but for everyone of those, you also got...
    (ALLOW ME to list the wonderful fill)

    A MIRACLE happened here ;)

    @nemo paradise 1:49
    The spectators at the WInter Olympics wear SKICAPS.

    Handup for CFO before CPA but I thought that back-to-back pairing elevated the three letter initialisms.

    And folks need to take a step back before complaining too loudly about this fill, as so many long downs crossed two of the FIVE theme entries.

    Michael and I normally collaborate (Five in the NYT and ten elsewhere, at least! He's one of my best friends)
    and we give each other feedback before subission and always begrudgingly admit the other is right, even tho we have very different sensibilities...
    this was one that he did it was pure joy for me to solve.
    Yes, I probably would have ragged him a bit on getting rid of CII and all the "I" phrases (I LAY, IM NOT, SAY I DO) but I think the theme idea was brilliant.

    @Lewis, keep looking and parsing and see what he did with adding the C on front and the Y on back and the phrase CANDY COATED and the appreciation of this will just grow and grow!

    acme 6:38 PM  

    and as @Howie L and others pointed out on Wordplay:
    ACROSS/DOWNy, ORGY/EROTICA, (I'd throw TWEEDLE and I LAY in there!)
    the aforementioned CFO/CPA being back to back...

    If the cleverness of this theme doesn't grow on everyone as the day goes by, I'll eat my SKICAP!

    CaseAceFos 9:49 PM  

    Hi There, Acme, Howie here, Just like to say how much I appreciate your mentioning my name over here on Rex's Blog, In fact, I'm feeling a hefty amount of chestiness as I type out this comment! Hee Hee Hee

    sanfranman59 10:06 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 6:22, 6:06, 1.04, 73%, Medium-Challenging
    Tue no data
    Wed 13:16, 9:44, 1.36, 97%, Challenging (6th highest ratio of 194 Wednesdays)
    Thu 14:24, 16:44, 0.86, 22%, Easy-Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 4:01, 3:48, 1.06, 78%, Medium-Challenging
    Tue no data
    Wed 8:01, 5:36, 1.43, 99%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 194 Wednesdays)
    Thu 8:02, 9:30, 0.85, 18%, Easy

    Clark 12:40 AM  

    Anonymous 9:07 am.

    The name "Madam Irma Pince" appears in the credits to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

    LaneB 11:13 AM  

    OK but for the NW corner. Since I didn't pick on the "theme" , I never saw COLDMASTERY even filling all but ESS and the R in PERTED? His a big ole DNF but nohard feelings

    Cary in Boulder 12:17 PM  

    Hey there, Rexerites. As a syndicated solver, I'm one of the guys at the bottom of the page that you completely forgot about four weeks and six days ago. I'm here among the real-timers today not to discuss the puzzle, but because, as you can see by my handle, I'm living in a disaster zone. If all you know about the flooding in Colorado is what you've seen on national TV news, let me assure you that the scope of this mess is mind-boggling. Over 17,000 souls are turned out of their homes. (My wife and I are fine and dry.) Many people have asked how they can help. Elevations Credit Union in Boulder has set up a $100,000 matching fund strictly to help these displaced people. I have an account there and they are for real. Hopefully this link will work for you (if not just go to Donate

    Thanks for any help you can give. If you want to contact me off-blog, my email is cary [at] bluesaccess [dot] com

    Cary Wolfson

    Z 1:15 PM  

    @Cary in Boulder - Done.

    spacecraft 11:26 AM  

    I love clues that include words like "famous" or "celebrated"... that I never heard of. Small Faces?? WHO??? Let alone any album of theirs. Sorry, guys, I completely missed that "celebration." I wish cluers wouldn't do that. Just delete that word from the clue. Then I will merely feel ignorant instead of like I must've been living under some rock.

    I totally guessed at the NW. Got it right, but only because of a lucky stab. Never heard of LACOSTE. A sports "star?" What sport? Geez, maybe I HAVE been living under a rock. And APOGEES clued as "Culminations?" The APOGEE is the most distant point of an orbit. How is that a "culmination?"

    This whole thing felt like a Twilight-Zone-y experience. I wanted CANDYCOATED for 58a right away, but the "four words" in the clue stopped me. Then as I worked through the section and saw that the first part was indeed CANDY--and that the ending COATED was going to fit perfectly--the old TZ theme started going off in my head. Then adjacent, there was ____KPICK_. CLOCKPICKY? That made no sense. but finally, I saw the interior phrase LOCKPICK, and the aha! was upon me. C AND Y. Oh brother.

    The fill work was pretty good, if you throw out ESS and CII. Never heard of TWEEDLE outside of -DUM and -DEE. I was amused by the BACKEND EROTICA, with only an ECLIPSE to separate them. Liked SAYIDO and ALLOWME. Some plusses and minuses; say, one thumb up.

    BedfordBob 12:14 PM  

    I really enjoyed it but didn't get the C AND Y COATED until I finished then said AHA! Easy for a Thursday.

    But what does ESS have to do with series starter.

    Bob Kerfuffle 12:17 PM  

    The letter "S" (ESS) starts the word "series."

    Dirigonzo 2:45 PM  

    I picked up on the C/Y additions before I reached the reveal, the correct parsing of which provided my "Eureka!" moment. Other than the long reveal answer, the whole SE corner was sparsely filled until EATCROW came along to open it up for me. I just rechecked my grid and I can't find my OWS but I know it must be in there somewhere.

    @Cary in Boulder - I was glad to read that you and Mrs. CiB were "fine and dry" during that natural disaster. I hope your post did some good - Rexvillians (is that the right word? Maybe not.) are generally a pretty generous bunch when it comes to things like that. Hope to see you commenting back here soon.

    Solving in Seattle 3:28 PM  

    @Cary, Colorado has had disasters of biblical proportions over the past few years. Here's hoping the bad stuff is over.

    @Diri, Rexvillians? Wow, I feel so evil. Hold it...

    @Spacy, LACOSTE was a so-so tennis player. @Ginger & @DMG might want to weigh in as the tennis buffs.

    Loved Salma HAYEK crossing PEACH, and cHOSEDOWNy crossing ORGY.

    Do you suppose CHER drives a PORSCHE?

    Nice clue for ALLOWME. Clever, multi-layered puzz, Michael.

    Capcha: uteriods. I did not make this up, and I think I'll pass on the definition.

    rain forest 4:14 PM  

    This one felt kinda different, at first. I was a little bewildered in the NW, until I got ELLE, ULAN, APOLLO1, SEM, AND ESS. Then the tennis great, Rene LACOSTE appeared. COLDMASTERY was a complete mystery until I got CHOSEDOWNY-aha@ C and Y. Even though the silly CLOCKPICKY came easily, CANDYCOATED wasn't a laydown like it was for others.

    As for APOGEE, I guess the thinking is that it is the "highest" point in the orbit, depending on your frame of reference. Whether that is a culmination or not is up to the reader.

    Dirigonzo 4:16 PM  

    @SiS - It maybe a case of a missing vowel; is Rexville-ians any better? It's kind of like the Lewiston Maineiacs, a bona fide but now defunct hockey team - both look better to me without the extraneous "e".

    "...and I think I'll pass on the definition" is a rare display of restraint, and probably a wise choice. Here's a "Malfunctioning G"-rated one for you to try: lyricted.

    Solving in Seattle 5:01 PM  

    @Diri, lyricted. Putting words to music in the pluperfect subjunctive?

    DMG 5:35 PM  

    Stumbled through this one thinking everything fits but makes no sense. Guess that's because I never seem to tumble to the odd reveals. What four words??? My only pause was thinking that somewhere some rental agency ponies up for the gas. But then I decided PORTED looked more plausible than aORTED. So I finished, but the whole thing still seems strange to me.

    @SIS: Guess LACOSTE was before I started following tennis. I know him mainly for his polo shirts which don't seem to be as famous as they once were. . Ginger undoubtedly knows more.

    Captcha: adebrit. Think we did that in the 1940's.

    Ginger 8:02 PM  

    Back in the 20s, Rene LACOSTE was a great tennis player. Knew he was old-timey, but needed uncle Google to learn how old and how great. Pretty impressive.

    Speaking of tennis, I'm watching an interesting match from Basel between Del Potro a 6'7" Argentinian and Baghdatis about 5'8" from Cypress. Truly an international sport.

    Agree with OFL that this seemed contrived and ho hum. Didn't parse the gimmick until coming here, which increased my appreciation of the puzzle.

    55-A reminds me of an old, hilarious radio show 'My Friend Irma'.

    Captcha: ilarsag = oh how I represent that remark

    Dirigonzo 8:27 PM  

    @ ginger - re your captcha comment, you and @SiS need to talk.

    Waxy in Montreal 9:24 PM  

    Call me TWEEDLE dumb (not to mention ARNE, CASABA, MONTELL and AIRBILL ignorant) so the southeast remained a vast terra incognita. Otherwise a very clever reveal which as a bonus actually helped me solve two of theme answers.

    captcha = Econvoy which can only be a new Fedex app.

    sdcheezhd 2:47 AM  

    Boooo. The revealer is just a flat out fail. CANDYCOATED is not 4 words; it's 2 words and 2 letters.

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