Old Renault / WED 10-2-13 / 1940 Disney film / Grammy-winning blues guitarist Jonny / 1990s compacts / Classic shooter / Lerner/Loewe musical set in Paris / Digs in old warehouse maybe

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: -NCE to -NTS — spelling change creates WaCkInEsS

Theme answers:
  • 17A: What Ali Baba found on the treasure in the cave? (PRINTS OF THIEVES)
  • 27A: Sign of a failed practice? (LOSING PATIENTS)
  • 43A: Puzzles as gifts? (PRESENTS OF MIND)
  • 58A: Be startled by singing monks? (JUMP AT THE CHANTS)

Word of the Day: PAH (9D: Sound of disgust) —
Used to express disgust or irritation. (answers.com)
• • •

Dull theme, decent (if unexciting) fill. Seems like an olde-timey theme. Solid concept, but not that amusing in practice (though JUMP AT THE CHANTS is pretty good). Played very slow for me, for reasons I don't really understand. I think PAH had something to do with it. Had BAH and UGH in there at various points. Also had serious trouble with PLUGS (29D: Toupee alternative) because neither "-INT trap" nor Jonny LAN- did anything for me (41A: Grammy-winning blues guitarist Jonny). P-U-S was inscrutable. I don't think a lot about hair replacement, as I have no patience for that crap—I just shaved my head. Done and done. [Digs in an old warehouse] is an interesting clue for LOFT. Briefly thought "Digs" was a verb. [Coloratura's practice] also misleading, or at least confusing, as the four-letterness there suggests ARIA. Never would've considered RUNS. Got that one all from crosses.

There's not really anything to say about this puzzle. And baseball is on. So I'm gonna go.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


August West 12:00 AM  

Seven seconds faster than yesterday, so, challenging, it wasn't.

I feel like Tevye.

On the one hand, CE=TS. Erm...whatever. Each good for a grin. And some nice longers: FANTASIA, INTHEAIR, TAILGATE, ONTIPTOE.

On the other hand, it's always nice to see RAVI and AIDAN and OONA and OLLIE and GIGI and, yes, LALA, IN ONE PUZZLE, isn't it? WIKI, meet POLI. POLI, meet GIGI (groan).

On the one hand, LEICA and INUIT and NOWIN and BOOING are kinda okay, and I liked the clues for LOFT and ATTIC and PLUGS and HIRE.

On the other hand, the rest of the fill is really a bunch of abbreviated, partial, POC crap, now, i'n't it? PRET, ELEV, AGIN (so wanting to include ADIN), UCLA, TMEN, ATEE, FDIC, MTNS, TVG, HST, GTOS, GEOS, HMO...PAH!

I want to hate it, but then there's Jonny LANG, front and center.

On the other hand, OBE? Ob-la-Da, life goes on, brah!



Getting Leied 12:06 AM  


In other words: I think I've made better puzzles with autofill. Yeah.

jae 12:08 AM  

Easy Wed. for me.  No erasures  and LANG was the only WOE.  My only problem was misreading Prevalent as Prevent in 8d and staring at a series of letters that made no sense. 

Nice '60s sports car mini theme.  And, speaking of "Fun, Fun, Fun" - Fun fact:  Johnny B. Goode, Roll Over Beethoven, and Fun, Fun, Fun all have the same guitar intro which was first done on Louis Jordan's Ain't That Just Like A Woman.

Pleasant puzzle, but nothing really stands out so, about right for a Wed.  Liked it.

okanaganer 12:18 AM  

I thought INUIT was clued just plain wrong, as here in Canada the northern aboriginals are referred to as INUIT (never ESKIMO!), while their language is Inuktitut. But looking online I see this is not the case elsewhere. Now I know!

mathguy 12:22 AM  

Liked PRINTSOFTHIEVES and JUMPATTHECHANTS. Also liked the clue for TUTU. Not very hard but enjoyable.

Anonymous 12:28 AM  

Three cheers for head shaving.

dmw 12:29 AM  

I don't care what any of you say, any Wednesday or later in the week when I get Mr. Smiling Eraserhead on the first try is a great puzzle.

Evan 12:53 AM  

I liked PRESENTS OF MIND -- it evoked an image of Calvin dreaming of getting a flame-thrower or a jet pack from Santa.

I too thought this was a little tricky for a Wednesday, but I can't put my finger on why. The theme concept was simple enough once I got LOSING PATIENTS -- the others came without too much trouble. Maybe it was that LINT/PLUGS nexus (I think that was my last square filled in, preceded by the LANG/LEICA cross). I also can never remember how to spell AIDAN (I want that second A to be an E). Funny seeing both GEOS and GTOS, as well as the mini-French subtheme going (PRET, MAI, VOIR, and I guess GIGI and Renault).

Hmmm, Mini French Subtheme. Screams out for an indie band name, no?


Okay. I'll have a lot more to say tomorrow, but first, I'm gonna echo a request that Rex made three years ago:

Tomorrow, or whenever you should solve the Thursday, October 3, puzzle, send me any pictures of you solving it, destroying it, doing whatever to it, etc. Or send me a picture of any comments or drawings you make on the finished or unfinished grid (I love grid art). This is all going in my scrapbook. For real. E-mail it to:

ebirnholz AT gmail DOT com

So. Looking. Forward. To. It.

Anonymous 1:15 AM  

Little help on another puzzle answer I was doing if you could be so kind anyone

C: This club has one
A: typo

If u respond use dodo so I can find it.


Benko 1:29 AM  


Should read, "This CLUE has one."
"Clue" has been mistyped to read "club", that's the TYPO.

Aidan Chants Mtns 2:23 AM  

Love the visual of Hippopotami danicing in their little tutus!

Puns were consistent (consistence) which made for a tight theme

I liked the TWIX/SEXY crossing.

Every other clue was a pun, so the whole thing felt of a piece/peace to me.

Biggest trip up was TREY before ADIN, as I'm a card player before tennis...but AIDAN straightened me out.
A friend suggested yesterday that so many kids are named AIDAN now due to AIDAN Quinn's effect on many a woman now in her forties.
But I thought he wasn't well known enough...and was too Irish to play the lead in Liberty HIll or whatever that film was...

Besides French and cars and French cars, I spotted the mini hirsute theme of PLUGS and HAIRY.
Manscaping felt like an unusually fresh and fun clue!

That about SUMpS it up, for me :)

Anonymous 3:08 AM  

Thanks Benko !!

Gareth Bain 5:13 AM  

Oh is that what a Le Car is... We have/had those here! They were just called Renault 5's. I'd never gotten around to actually looking that up...

Steve J 6:32 AM  

I must have been on the right wavelength, as my finishing time was more in line with a long Monday or easy/medium Tuesday for me. Only misstep was dropping in TREY at 3D, which caused me to briefly erase AIDAN even though I had written that in without crosses.

The theme itself doesn't seem that remarkable when distiller to its essence, but I thought it was executed well. The punned phrases were common and flowed well, and they were well-clued. I liked the cluing overall, in fact.

Nice break during the middle of a vacation day. Now off to play tourist.

Hyacinth Hippo 7:14 AM  

The puzzle was fine. Jeef Chen at Wordplay had am insightful analysis:
"It took me a while to appreciate the theme. Originally I thought it was simply homonym switches, which seemed a little dull, then I realized it was a subtle sound change, and it finally hit me that it was a consistent sound change, using a soft CE to harder TS substitution. Not only that, she stuck with words where the change didn't affect the length of the word. Impressive. The theme answers are largely successful, the image of being startled by monks giving me a giggle. LOSING PATIENTS seemed awfully depressing, but luckily PRESENTS OF MIND and PRINTS OF THIEVES evoked fun images."

Milford 7:20 AM  

Fun, very subtle wordplay. JUMP AT THE CHANTS is the best visual of the bunch, for sure.

Liked the FANTASIA, TUTU, ON TIPTOE combo. My daughter has just gone up on pointe this year, and it's such a bizarre yet beautiful type of dance.

I remember think in about 2nd grade that a LE CAR looked cool.

My sister lives in a space that is a warehouse turned into LOFTS in midtown Detroit. Very cool layout.

dk 7:26 AM  

Evan, I shall use my LEICA.

I agree with the TUTU attired H. Hippo and Mr. Chen. A solid mid-week puzzle. The subtle theme is fun in as Rex writes and old timey way.

Once and former sister in law owned a LECAR. It rusted faster than it went.

🌟🌟🌟 (3 Stars) mmmmm TWIX

Loren Muse Smith 7:41 AM  

Loved JUMP AT THE CHANTS! I JUMP at everything. It's an icky way to live.

@Evan – I saw the mini French theme and had that noted in my margin. PRET, MAI, VOIR – OOna LA LA!) I also noted the mini car theme: GTOS, TBIRD, GEOS, LE CAR, TAIL GATE.

OLLIE – weird psychopop – just yesterday I decided to check out OLLIE'S IN Parkersburg – a huge store with all kinds of bargains - closeouts, mostly I guess. So I was too suspicious to buy that three dollar thing of Tide or those scissors for only one dollar. Is that stuff ok?

I never know if it's TASE or "taze." Same problem with "laze" or lase," for that matter (using a laser – not vegging out).

TWIX and Kit Kat. I don't get the allure. Give me a Butterfinger any day.

For "toupee alternative," I tried "food-grade flea killer," but it was too long. Morning, @M & A – I meant to respond to your question about my constructing a couple of days ago. I always have two or three grids going, PLUGging away, really needing some more talented heavy-hitter constructor to help me banish the EELS and ULEES .. .

I pass a store called "Common Scents" whenever I go into town. Close, but that could be a different set of themers: nse – nts.

So how 'bout "Elite, stoned picnic pests?" HIGH, FINE ANTS.

Fine puzzle, Paula! I liked SUMP and PLUG and echo everyone's comments on TUTU and TIPTOE!

ArtO 7:42 AM  

I liked it and got a kick out of the theme answers.

Notsofast 8:13 AM  

I would have liked it more if it didn't come on the heels of yesterday's beauty. But I always like puns. Fun!

Unknown 8:15 AM  

@loren, I'm a jumper, too. It's not good.

Puzzle was fine by me, I liked the puns.

Please, folks, if you are not familiar with Jonny LANG, JUMP AT THE CHANTS to give him a listen. Powerful, soulful...and I think he has something new out now.

Z 8:17 AM  


Alright, enough baseball (although it seemed that Mr. Cueto did JUMP AT THE CHANTS). This took me a good 20% longer than usual Wednesdays, so more challenging than medium here. Looking at it now, the reason is how long it took me to come up with the themers despite seeing it early.

On the HAIRY front, I enjoy the schadenfreude of sitting in the barber chair next to some guy with no particularly good reason to be spending $20 on a haircut and saying in a just loud enough voice, "Can you thin it out a little, it's getting a little thick." @Rex has the right idea - quit fussing about it. If your genes gave you a "high forehead" shave what's left off and be done with it. Now, to be fair, I never do this with older gentlemen who go to the barber as much for the conversation as the haircut. But guys my age and younger generally don't use the Barbershop as a men's club the way guys did when I was a kid.

joho 8:48 AM  

I have to disagree with @Rex that this is a dull theme. I thought it was a great example of clever wordplay making this Wednesday super fun to solve. JUMPATTHECHANTS was worth the price of admission!

The comments today have been great and have said everything I would say so I'll just leave you with this: I'll never forget the day I heard a "beep beep" outside our house in Minnesota only to find my parents driving up in a crazy-looking, tiny car with a balloon bobbing out the window. I think we were the first, and perhaps the only ones to own a LECAR in the whole state! (Or at least it felt that way!)

Unknown 8:55 AM  

Just remembered I've been waiting for an opportunity to try embedding a link, so here goes!

Click here for some classic Jonny Lang.

Carola 9:08 AM  

I loved PRESENTS OF MIND as an overall term for the morning NYT crosswords - the puzzle and then coming here for @Rex's write-up and the comments are always a treat to start my day. I also read it as a challenge to see if I could get the last theme answer with no crosses. I got CHANTS but thought it would be something "by" CHANTS, so, NO WIN on that one. I got a kick out of all the punny theme answers.

Also liked the blast-from-the-past feel with the two Beach Boys cars, OLLIE, FANTASIA. Also the image of the hippo in TUTU crossing the soprano doing her RUNS.

Norm 9:25 AM  

What joho said goes double for me.

jberg 9:27 AM  

Maybe it was prompted by the other old-timey clues, but I really wanted Anthony at 14A - they should have retired the surname.

Anyway, I liked it -- I thought the theme entries were pretty lively, except maybe LOSING PATIENTS.

But I got careless -- didn't know LANG from Yang or Kang (or Wang), so left it for the crosses, and then forgot to do 41D, so I finished with a blank square. PAH!

Lewis 9:37 AM  

@evan -- I'm excited for you. Congrats again.

I liked the clues for STOOL, RUNS, AGIN, HAIRY, and LOFT. I don't think anyone would jump upon hearing monks' chants -- have you ever heard them? But of course I'm being too literal. There was a fair amount of grid gruel. But this puzzle, typical for Paula, had spark; she puts her own personality in her cluing. I enjoyed the solve.

chefbea 9:44 AM  

Good puzzle and I never saw pah!!

And FWIW...Hippos can't really fit into tutus...they need four fours!!!

More dross for breakfast? 9:52 AM  

dull theme, wretched fill, what more can a puzzler ask for? Why rote, of course!

Another garbage scow puzzle. ARIA for coloraturati? that's knee-jerk rote at its finest, no knowledge behind the cw-ese. These specialised & entrancing sopranos have a very specific skill that is practiced by doing runs of alternating and chordal notes, similar to a better pianinst doing odd keyed scales and arpeggiae.

PAH is hideous.



quilter1 10:49 AM  

I appreciated Jeff Chen's remarks. I didn't think this one was as bad as @Rex did. I enjoyed it and I don't usually like Paula's work.

Unknown 12:09 PM  

Med-Chal Wed. Not sure why the grumbles about the theme. It's tight and all are in the language phrases. Just about right for a Wed.

Mid-length fill is solid with TAILGATE, FANTASIA, and the symmetrically placed prepositional phrases IN THE AIR and ON TIPTOE.

Yeah, they'll always be some short junk, but it's almost never enough to ruin a puzzle for me.

@Evan - enjoy your big day tomorrow!

Pete 12:14 PM  

"Not sure why the grumbles about the theme" - Because, with the exception of JUMPS AT THE CHANTS, they're all as old as hills. The fact that you've got many of them just means you got a lot of tired jokes in one place. Kind of like SNL.

MetaRex 1:03 PM  

Groovy by me...theme fine...nice cluing combo for PLUGS, HAIRY, and SEXY...enjoyed getting tripped up by AMA for HMO. My in-groupy CrossWorld feelings as a constructor who's given family members personalized puzzes over the years were activated by PRESENTS OF MIND. Looking forward to Evan's puzz tomorrow...

Bird 1:40 PM  

Liked the puzzle, liked the theme. Impressive construction.

But we have GIG and GIGI in the same grid, I prefer the term TANKERS over OILERS (which I know as lubricating devices on equipment) and PAH is no good.

Happy Humpday!

Bird 1:42 PM  

@August West - Just noticed your avatar. As a Big Blue fan myself, I feel the same way. At least the other teams in our division are letting us stay in the race.

retired_chemist 2:19 PM  

Medium difficulty, medium fun.

My first sound of disgust was BOrING (BOOOrrrrrING!), which kept me from seeing the theme early.

Hand up for ARIA @ 64A. And for not knowing Johnny LANG, so I needed all crosses, but they were easy.

Thanks, Ms. Gamache.

acme 2:26 PM  

@Susan McConnell
Nice job on the embedding!!!
Thanks for that, I remembered who he was, but that was good getting dressed to music just now!

As for the whole Jump-y thing, you and Ms Muse might want to examine coffee intake!

Tita 2:42 PM  

Liked the theme, liked the mini-themes, esp. that bizarre mix of cars.

Disney ought to be forced to rename their company - their very existence is an insult to the man.

Niece graduated from Miami of OHIO last year.
Some docs are LOSINGPATIENTS - on purpose, firing their patients and going *concierge*. (will she help me get a reservation at the trendy restaurant or tix to the sold out show?)

Nice easy Wed - easier than yesterday!
Thanks Paula.

PRT 3:11 PM  

Would 'Chinese' be a valid answer for the clue 'Far East language'?

I haven't heard anything but Inuktitut since I've been up here.

sanfranman59 3:34 PM  

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

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

Wed 9:39, 9:44, 0.99, 48%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:57, 5:36, 1.06, 68%, Medium-Challenging

Let's go Tribe! (any Indians fans out there?)

Z 3:38 PM  

@SanFranMan59 - yes, until they play my Tigers in the ALCS.

David from CA 3:44 PM  

@loren - re. s v. z in laser and taser
Might help to think "stimulating" thoughts? The both do that, and the S in LASER actually stands for "stimulated".
Thought TASER might be similar, but wikipedia tells me it was named that by the inventor after his boyhood hero - "Tom A. Swift's Electric Rifle"

Alas, have never heard of a PLUG or good ol' Jonny, so big fat Natick for me there.

LaneB 4:33 PM  

Took some time as a result of hang- up in SW corner. Had The Ness group first as Feds, then gMEN and finally TMEN. Also wanted to use aria for RUNS. Finally saw the light and filled in SWIPE., feeling rather dense. Good for a Wednesday " medium- challenging" , however.

Dora 5:10 PM  

Swiper, no swiping!
Swiper, no swiping!
Swiper, no swiping!

Martin 5:53 PM  


There are two branches of what are stilled called "Eskimo languages": Inuit in the East and Yupik in the West. These correspond to the major ethnic groups. Alaskan Yupiks, for instance, don't mind too much being called Eskimos but they HATE being called Inuits, because they're not. Eastern Canadians may have their hearts in the wrong place when they advocate calling all Eskimos Inuits, but they really need to talk with some Alaskan or Siberian native people first.

Martin 5:54 PM  

Doh. Hearts in the right place of course.

retired_chemist 10:12 PM  

LASER is an acronym: Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. So, S not Z.

Chuck 10:14 PM  

How many SUMPs would a SUMP pump pump if a SUMP pump could pump SUMPs?

Loved OOna LALA.

Owned both a Renault and a GEO in the 20th century.

sanfranman59 10:56 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 6:45, 6:07, 1.10, 87%, Challenging
Tue 9:17, 8:15, 1.13, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:38, 9:44, 0.99, 47%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:12, 3:50, 1.10, 85%, Challenging
Tue 5:21, 5:10, 1.04, 60%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:55, 5:36, 1.06, 66%, Medium-Challenging

It's not looking good for the Cleveland squad tonight, but I've not lost faith yet. Go Tribe!

Z 11:33 PM  

@Gareth Bain in the LAT on Wednesday and @Evan in the NYT on Thursday. Both are fine puzzles.

@SanFranMan59 - one ex-Tiger has out hit another ex-Tiger. The wrong one for Cleveland fans.

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

Why ADIN? Not ADVN for advantage? Have I missed something?
Otherwise liked it!

Obat Penyakit Sinusitis 10:54 AM  

i relly like this information in you post ^___^

spacecraft 11:19 AM  

Not a big fan of ADIN or AGIN; they're getting into the overused category. Umpires never announce "ADIN." They say "Advontage Mr. (or Ms.) [last name]." I wonder what thet say when Venus squares off vs. Serena.

AGIN? I'm just not FER it. And unfortunately, the fill in this one goes down from there. ELEV LALA MTNS TVG (that one really sucks) ATEE HST INON: PAH.

OK, BOOING done. Three of the theme entries are okay; "Someday my prints will come" is a very old joke, and PATIENTS and PRESENTS puns abound. The feather in Paula's cap is JUMPATTHECHANTS: fresh, and kicking off with the scrabbly J.

I never heard of PRET a- whatever; that all came in on crosses. Some of the medium-to-longer fill is good, such as FANTASIA and the cleverly-cross-referenced TUTU. This might have included ONTIPTOE, which is how our beloved hippo danced. INTHEAIR, yet.

Ginger 2:15 PM  

A little crunch on a Wednesday is a good thing. No real hangups, but a misspelling here, and a misspelling there slowed me up a bit. Liked the themers, FANTASIA and TAILGATE, the fill not so much.

Looking forward to Evan's entry tomorrow.

Waxy in Montreal 2:19 PM  

@space, prêt-à-porter means ready-to-wear as per the 1994 Robert Altman fllm which also translated its title for American audiences.

Enjoyed this one, especially the punny theme answers,though must agree some of the fill was pretty much of the SUMP variety. Somewhat surprised it received such a tough rating.

DMG 2:49 PM  

Never of Mr/Ms AIDAN and couldn't get beyond the idea that "trey" follows duece, so this tennis fan hangs her head for not getting ADIN with A, D, and N in place! Hope it isn't going to be like this all day. Enjoyed the puns, and, also, @chuck's sump pump rhyme.

Dirigonzo 3:04 PM  

The ('64) TBIRD and the ('65) GTOS in the grid evoked enough happy memories to keep me grinning for a week - what young woman wouldn't JUMPATTHECHANTS to go for a ride in either of those SEXY automobiles?

Solving in Seattle 6:00 PM  

@DMG & @Ginger, thought of you two immediately upon the cleverly worded 3D. You should hang your head.

PAH is now one of those 3x homonyms. PAH/paw/pax (ok, I'm cheating with the French.)

LIMEY yesterday, YANK today. Hands across the water lovefest.

Paula, I think you did a great job with this Wedpuz: stuff for a wide swath of solvers. You get an OBE from me for the effort.

@Z, just watched "Trouble with the curve." Loved this baseball movie.) I don't watch films.) Check it out if you haven't already.

Solving in Seattle 6:02 PM  

4x homonym - PAH/paw/paux/pa. Ha!

eastsacgirl 8:47 PM  

Pretty much zipped through this one. Should we just prefill TNT from now on? Getting a real kick out of how many ways they can clue it! Never heard of PAH. Gotta go find my pret a porter TUTU.

RWC 8:23 AM  

The '64 TBIRD wasn't sexy...it was trying to be a muscle car rather than the sports car as it had been, and it failed at both. Was more like a boxy sedan.

TMEN areTreasury employees which at one time included Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). GMEN are employees of. The Department of Justice which includes the FBI. As I understand it Ness was FBI so GMEN would be more accurate.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP