Elephant rider's seat / WED 11-6-13 / Tammany tiger creator / Indy racer Luyendyk / Japanese police dogs / Gives a stemwinder

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Constructor: Jacob McDermott

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: BETWEEN YOU AND ME (34A: "Let this be our little secret" … with a hint to 18-, 23-, 50- or 54-Across) — theme answers are snippets of phrases that require YOU at the front and ME at the back in order to make sense:

Theme answers:
  • 18A: "Don't put words in my mouth!" (SAID IT NOT)
  • 23A: "I wasn't born yesterday!" (CAN'T FOOL)
  • 50A: "Wanna start something'?" (TALKIN' TO)
  • 54A: "Ooh, I'm shaking in my boots!" (DON'T SCARE)
Word of the Day: Stemwinder (27A: Gives a stemwinder = ORATES) —
1. A stem-winding watch.
2. A rousing oration, especially a political one.
• • •

Concept is somewhat cute, though the result still involves gibberish in my grid. But since I can easily mentally supply the YOU and the ME needed to turn the gibberish into non-gibberish, I'm not that troubled. Using all quotations as clues is interesting, though it means that YOU TALKIN' TO ME gets a jarringly non-"Taxi Driver" clue. There is only one frame of reference for that phrase, and "Taxi Driver" is it.

Not a lot else to say about this puzzle. Fill is bland. The kind of fill you'd see in a puzzle filled entirely by hand, by someone without a ton of experience. Very serviceable, but very very over-the-plate. HOWDAH feels super-out-of-place here. Odd/exotic word in a sea of ordinariness. [Indy racer Luyendyk] remains my most hated crosswordese clue of all time, partly because I can never remember which random four-letter mostly-vowel combination his name is, partly because it's such horrid crutch fill, and partly (in this case) because the also-horrid -EROO is already in the puzzle, and there really should be a one-[-R--] limit per puzzle (where the dashes represent vowels). AROO EROO ARIE ERIE EREI etc. One. You get one.

My biggest problem today was just picking up the theme. Lost some time in the CAN'T FOOL region just trying to piece things together without yet knowing what the theme was all about. I also did not know or forgot what a "stemwinder" was, so could not pick up ORATES. The clue somehow makes "stemwinder" sound like a sex act, though that could just be my brain operating on a juvenile level (i.e. its default level).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:03 AM  

Didn't like the theme, didn't like the fill.

Exactly what I've come to expect from the NYT crossword.

Steve J 12:19 AM  

Felt like a Tuesday, both in terms of time and content. Thought the theme was decent, once I got the reveal. I wouldn't want to see a lot of this kind of thing (I have an aesthetic preference for fill to be able to mean something on its own, as well as a component of the theme), but it's not something I've encountered anytime recently, so it felt like it wasn't the same-old.

Found SAID IT NOT to be the hardest to get, as that's not a phrase I'm at all familiar with. Was a little slow getting the crosses to fall from 6-9D (MOSSO? I have a hard enough time remembering the common music terms like allegro and presto), so that was the one part of the grid that put up some resistance.

Agreed that non-theme fill wasn't terribly lively, but I did like GHOST TOWN and MONTE. Cluing was equally nondescript.

Agreed that HOWDAH seemed like an odd fit with most of the rest of the puzzle, but there wasn't much beyond that and MOSSO that had me scratching my head and/or rolling my eyes. Given how bad the three-letter fill was the last two days, that's a step up.

I don't remember Pinocchio's being swallowed by a WHALE at all. I thought Jonah was the only one to pull off that trick.

wreck 12:27 AM  

I found it easier than Tuesday and did not bother trying to figure out the theme. Actually, I forgot there even was a theme until I read Rex's write up! I too thought HOWDAH was out of place .... I had it with the across clues so I went with it.

JFC 12:59 AM  

Agree with Rex, even about the juvenile thing....


PS. @Chefwen, I'd like to say I'm sorry about Rodgers, but I'm not.

Anonymous 1:34 AM  

Monopoly now has a CAT token, which led to COWDAH for a while...

jae 1:35 AM  

Easy-medium for me too. Clever zippy theme that had me briefly looking for a rebus.  And, the grid is pretty smooth so...liked it.


No erasures.

Fun Wed.

Questinia 3:42 AM  

I had more nefarious associations with the theme: " Let this be our little secret".
Apart from that, I couldn't agree more with @ Rex.

Carola 4:00 AM  

I found it on the tough side for a Wednesday and enjoyed the challenge. Liked the theme, thought it was clever. Definitely needed the reveal to complete the first two theme answers and then appreciated the help it gave me for the last two.

Also liked a lot of the rest: GHOST TOWN, ANY MINUTE, TWANGS, HOWDAH, BLOTTO. Awarded my memory bonus points for having NANTES immediately accessible from college history in 1964 but then had to give it demerits for needing the A in ARGO from last year.

Avery Colt Mosso 4:25 AM  

I liked that it didn't leave gibberish...
SAID IT NOT a little archaic-sounding, but not gibberish... No EMNSHERD or whatever (cf Sunday)

Very hard to subtract letters or words and leave smooth plausible phrases.
CAN'T FOOL/DONTSCARE are stretches but not crazy.

I like MUSS and makes me want to create a MASS, MESS, MISS, MOSS, MUSS people...but people would scream and I'd feel sad.

SEGAL missed a more contemporary clue, as he's in the new comedy "The Goldbergs".

Love BLOTTO (reminds me of Popeye)

And i will beat M&A to the inevitable "HOWDAH ya like them apples?" joke!

Loren Muse Smith 6:52 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
MetaRex 7:06 AM  

We have a new Eseometer champion. Only 46 on my (fallible) scale...ARIE, EROO, TOS, GIS, etc. get skunked, but in the puzz as a whole there's less of an ESE load than in the other themers I've rated, and for that matter in the themelesses. Dodging a few POCs with combos like NANTES/AMOS helped.

Gavrilo Princip 7:24 AM  

Sort of mini assassin theme with Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wilkes Booth and Travis Bickle.

Mike in DC 7:28 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith: I agree with everything you wrote. I almost wish RE WELCO had been in the puzzle, just to see the fireworks from Rex.

Excellent theme, fun puzzle. Did not know MOSSO, but the crosses were fair.

Mohair Sam 7:31 AM  

HOWDAH and MOSSO aside, this was a very easy Wednesday. Clever theme for sure, but too easily revealed.

Only burp was old IMELDA's name (had Amelda) and the reveal clue fixed that quickly.

Like several others this morning: What Rex said.

Loren Muse Smith 7:34 AM  

Liked it. Cool idea that seems pretty different. STRIFE is a great word. It had me staring at the window thinking of other stuff to go between "you" and "me." KILL, COMPLETE, DISGUST, SEND, RE WELCO. . .

Ok, I'm pulling up my soapbox here to give a, uh, stemwinder. Many, many people are going to be stumped on the theme today because they. just. don't. say, "between you and me." So many people have an aversion to saying, "_ _ _and me." It *has* to be "_ _ and I." I thank my mom for her vigilance in my childhood to make sure I understood that it was "Joanne caught Eric and me fair and square."

A few months ago, I was about to send an email to someone, and I was upset. I said to the person in the office across from mine, "Kim, I'm about to send this, and the person is going to think I made a grammatical mistake." (The sentence was 'Just let me know when you would like to come and meet with Chef and me.') I briefly flirted with changing it to I, then thought about keeping the me but adding an asterisk and grammar note, I swear (what a jerk, right?), and in the end just left the me and hoped for the best. The recipient most probably didn't notice, would never have noticed, and leads a fuller life than I do!

I struggle so much with deciding if I'm wearing a descriptivist or a prescriptivist hat. In my heart of hearts, I'm a descriptivist and delight in how language evolves and changes -they has been a third person singular pronoun for decades – but it remains so important for me to make sure I use the correct its, they're, and, well, me. I've pretty much stopped using whom and lain, but where do you draw the line?

John V 7:40 AM  

Fun theme, liked it. Got snagged in that SW, combo of HOWDAW and inability to read my own scribble for OSWALD, which I know of course, but just wrote OSNALD. Hate when that happens.

David Stehle 7:47 AM  

What the heck is OHNO?

jberg 7:50 AM  

Pretty easy, and I liked the theme - at first I thought it was going to mean entries that went from U to ME (in my early morning fog, I somehow thought that ME was a letter), but it came clear soon enough. And I was glad to see that ENID (36D) had left Oklahoma to enjoy herself in Camelot. My only regret was that the clue for 1A wasn't used a little more imaginatively.

@Loren, I'm definitely prescriptive, and as a professor I get to be. Only trouble is that when I correct "didn't like him doing that" to "didn't like his doing that," and write "Gerund! Use the possessive!" the students have no idea what I mean.

Scarab 7:58 AM  

At the Arlington Puzzle Festival on Saturday, this was one of the puzzles we had -- but it had an error. The clue for HESS referred to 59 across, not 59 down. They made an announcement to point out the error, but they didn't know what the right clue was, so that ended up being part of the puzzle! For some reason I thought it was most likely a typo in the number, so I looked at other acrosses. Naturally HESS crosses HOWDAH, so I couldn't get it from the crosses. I ended up scanning the puzzle for something that would fit _ESS, and was happy to find it at 59 down (and a little annoyed I hadn't looked there sooner!)

And @David Stehle, that's just a regular "OH, NO!"

Henry IV 7:59 AM  

April 13, 1598

We have, by this perpetual and irrevocable edict, established and proclaimed and do establish and proclaim:

I. First, that the recollection of everything done by one party or the other between March, 1585, and our accession to the crown, and during all the preceding period of troubles, remain obliterated and forgotten, as if no such things had ever happened....

III. We ordain that the Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion shall be restored and reëstablished in all places and localities of this our kingdom and countries subject to our sway, where the exercise of the same has been interrupted, in order that it may be peaceably and freely exercised, without any trouble or hindrance; forbidding very expressly all persons, of whatsoever estate, quality, or condition, from troubling, molesting, or disturbing ecclesiastics in the celebration of divine service, in the enjoyment or collection of tithes, fruits, or revenues of their benefices, and all other rights and dues belonging to them; and that all those who during the troubles have taken possession of churches, houses, goods or revenues, belonging to the said ecclesiastics, shall surrender to them entire possession and peaceable enjoyment of such rights, liberties, and sureties as they had before they were deprived of them....

VI. And in order to leave no occasion for troubles or differences between our subjects, we have permitted, and herewith permit, those of the said religion called Reformed to live and abide in all the cities and places of this our kingdom and countries of our sway, without being annoyed, molested, or compelled to do anything in the matter of religion contrary to their consciences, ... upon condition that they comport themselves in other respects according to that which is contained in this our present edict.

VII. It is permitted to all lords, gentlemen, and other persons making profession of the said religion called Reformed, holding the right of high justice [or a certain feudal tenure], to exercise the said religion in their houses....

IX. We also permit those of the said religion to make and continue the exercise of the same in all villages and places of our dominion where it was established by them and publicly enjoyed several and divers times in the year 1597, up to the end of the month of August, notwithstanding all decrees and judgments to the contrary....

XIII. We very expressly forbid to all those of the said religion its exercise, either in respect to ministry, regulation, discipline, or the public instruction of children, or otherwise, in this our kingdom and lands of our dominion, otherwise than in the places permitted and granted by the present edict.

XIV. It is forbidden as well to perform any function of the said religion in our court or retinue, or in our lands and territories beyond the mountains, or in our city of Paris, or within five leagues of the said city....

XVIII. We also forbid all our subjects, of whatever quality and condition, from carrying off by force or persuasion, against the will of their parents, the children of the said religion, in order to cause them to be baptized or confirmed in the Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church; and the same is forbidden to those of the said religion called Reformed, upon penalty of being punished with especial severity....

XXI. Books concerning the said religion called Reformed may not be printed and publicly sold, except in cities and places where the public exercise of the said religion is permitted.

XXII. We ordain that there shall be no difference or distinction made in respect to the said religion, in receiving pupils to be instructed in universities, colleges, and schools; nor in receiving the sick and poor into hospitals, retreats, and public charities.

Richard 8:00 AM  

Stemwinder does havea sexual connotation. In the old days, after announcing the birth of one's child, crude friends or acquaintences might ask in jest: Clock face? or Stemwinder? --meaning "boy? or girl?"

Z 8:12 AM  

@David Stehle - OH NO! HOWDAH was a WTF?

@LMS - I draw the line when it is a barrier to communication. "May" and "can" mean different things. "Whom" is a vital distinction, subjects and objects matter. Too many people go around flapping without knowing what they are saying. @jberg - they were taught "gerund" once but were not taught why it matters, please have another go at it, we'll all be better off if it sticks with even one student. So, I guess I tend to fall in the "descriptive" camp for definition and usage and the "prescriptive" camp for grammar. But then I am reminded that a prof once pointed out that Shakespeare had Prince Hal equally comfortable speaking the doggerel of the soldiers as well as using courtly language, so what do I know?

George Barany 8:20 AM  

Amusing to compare what @Rex wrote here to the analysis at xwordinfo.com, where @Jeff Chen is highly enthusiastic (POW designation) and the constructor himself gives a shout-out to one "@Michael Sharp" (and two others) for being "gracious enough to give ... feedback on this and one other puzzle ..."

AliasZ 8:27 AM  

HOWDAH, everyone.

Just in case anyone thought Rex had no heart, here's a quote from today's young constructor Jacob McDermott, as posted in Xwordinfo: "Thanks to Michael Sharp, Neville Fogarty and Tyler Hinman who were gracious enough to give me feedback on this and one other puzzle I was working on. I have found the crosswording community to be very supportive, and extremely helpful. Thanks to you all!"

The theme is not entirely UGH, even though the phrases missing YOU and ME were not all able to stand on their own. It seemed appropriate for a Wednesday, better than a vowel run (sorry, Acme).

It was fun seeing speed skater Apolo Anton OHNO after some absence, as well as Samuel COLT, and DEAN & MARTin neatly stacked next to each other, IMELDA Marcos not so much.

The first crossword constructor ever to use EROO as an entry must have been pleased as punch to come up with a clue for this horrid non-word, the most interesting of which I found was "Buck chaser."

MOSSO in Italian means movement, motion, (past participle of muovere, to move), not rapid. As movements go, they can be fast or slow, thus meno MOSSO means less movement or slower, and più MOSSO, more movement or faster. A subtle, but real error that rarely slips by Will Shortz and test solver extraordinaire, MARTin Herbach.

Alas, I must be off to work ANY MINUTE now. Au reservoir.

dk 8:31 AM  

@Loren, Me talk pretty pretty one day.

I have to (nay must) add to yesterday's road sign a certain liquor store in Avon CO whose motto is "Our customers come first."

18A as a YOU vehicle left my BONNET askew but I knew HOWDAH for some reason known only to x-word solvers.

🌟🌟 (2 Stars)…. ASHY?

joho 8:36 AM  

Just BETWEENYOUANDME I'd say this theme is an original idea which I didn't see immediately ... a plus in my book. I looked at SAIDITNOT for quite a while before it clicked. Same with TALKINTO which I parsed as TALK INTO for too long.

Liked it, thanks, Jacob!

Unknown 8:48 AM  

Agree with Rex: bland. After completing the top half and filling in the revealer, I had to convince myself to finish. :-/

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

Easy but fun

Loren Muse Smith 9:29 AM  

@Mike in DC – the more I think about it, the more I like it:
Couldn't find a LL one, though.

@dk – "Some people have a way with words. Other people. . not. .have. .way." Steve Martin

@jberg – so whose rules do you use? You get the fifty leading grammarian/usage experts together to come up with an agreed-upon set of grammar rules, and they would never agree one hundred percent:

1. Can anxious now be synonymous with eager?
2. Is loan a verb now, too?
3. Can infer now mean the same thing as imply? (Some online dictionaries say yes)
4. Can you now call a lectern a podium? (Online dictionaries say yes)
5. "Everyone was here, but he left." Seriously?
6. Do aggravate and irritate now mean the same thing?
7. Is it judgment or judgement? (Online dictionaries give both options.)
8. "Give the money to (whomever/whoever) needs it the most." Pick one.

I appreciate your gerund/possessive rule, and even though I understand it and know it, I pretty much have let that one fall by the wayside, too. And I would never, ever say, "Oh – you went to Hollywood? Whom did you see?"

When I was teaching English both at the prison and as a long term sub, I brought these points up a lot for discussion. I guess I was just riding the fence on which side to take. I told my students that I just tried to gauge my audience but for the most part chose to speak/write in a way that didn't call attention to itself. Using fewer with "calories" instead of less to me slips under the radar, but "Whom did you see?" calls too much attention to itself.

In the case of two pronouns joined by a conjunction, all bets are pretty much off as to what case they'll be.

He fired both John and I.
Him and I had a great time together.
Do you want Judy or I to make a cake?
They were throwing upholstery tacks at the garden gnomes and him.

Only the last one is "correct," but you hear *everything* - even among educated people (hence the term 'hyper-correction).

If we didn't allow language to change, we'd still have thou, thee, thy, thine, and nice would still mean "precise" if not its original "foolish, stupid, senseless."

Can you tell I spend a lot of time thinking about this stuff?!

Norm 9:36 AM  

I thought this was cute little puzzle. Theme made me smile. Not one of your "aha" moments, but wroth a smile. Didn't think HOWDAH was an outlier at all. Now, MOSSO was a different story entirely.

joho 9:39 AM  

@loren muse smith,

He fired both John and I.
Him and I had a great time together.
Do you want Judy or I to make a cake?

Makes my eyes and/or ears hurt. Every single time somebody says I instead me I cringe.

chefbea 9:50 AM  

learned two new words today…howdah and mosso.
DNF. bur liked the theme

Airymom 10:12 AM  

Am I the only one who has said the word "snafu" thousands of times, but never knew its derivation? Now I do! Okay puzzle, but a fun moment for me.

chefbea 10:26 AM  

@black eyed susan…welcome. Saw your post from last night. Hope you continue to join in.

quilter1 10:35 AM  

Easy for me and I liked the theme. No gripes here. My favorite word was HOWDAH.

Steve J 10:42 AM  

Interesting (in a good way) how the theme has sparked a conversation about grammar and usage.

I probably fall closest to @Z's stance: I'm mostly descriptivist when it comes to lexicon and usage, more prescriptivist when it comes to grammar. That said, there are some things in the lexical/usage area that can drive me crazy (e.g., "conversate" is not a word, in my world), and there are occasions where I can be fairly loose grammatically. A language doesn't have just one grammar; its grammar varies among informal and formal settings, it varies in written and spoken forms of the language, etc. It's all about context.

I also agree with @LMS about grammatical correctness that unduly calls attention to itself. While I still use "whom" on a consistent basis, even in somewhat casual speech, I never use it in the interrogative, because that sticks out and is about calling attention to itself or to me. I properly use gerunds unless it creates a weird or even ambiguous construction. Etc.

As time goes by, for the sake of my sanity and my blood pressure, I've learned to be less rigid and less bothered by grammatical inconsistency and misuse. Except for your/you're and using 's to make things plural.

@Alias Z: Thanks for the explanation of MOSSO. That would explain why I didn't recall my having encountered it back when I played and read music.

quilter1 10:47 AM  

BTW, the original Pinnochio story was a parable of the Christian life and so the whale was a direct reference to Jonah's repentance experience. Disney ruined so many stories with deep meaning. Reread the original Little Mermaid. It is a tragedy. Fairy tales were never meant for children.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:21 AM  

I found the puzzle to be clever. Someone else must tell us how original it is (That is not a put-down. I know most themes have been used before, sometimes very specifically.)

@lms - Your comments and others' remind me of a time in the Dark Ages, when I was still working, and I received a memo from a co-worker which ended, "If you have any thoughts on this subject, please contact John or myself." I only got a blank stare when I told him, "You can kick me, but only I can kick myself."

:>) I am also reminded of my favorite grammatical joke question, which I have mentioned on the blog before: The song which correctly says, "For you and I" . . . . . "have a guardian angel, on high with nothing to do, but to give to you and to give to me, true love . . ."

GILL I. 11:25 AM  

Me thinks 'twere one fine puzzle. Me, I feel this is about as good as a Wed. gets.
You gotta loved that little NW corner with UGH, ABHOR and STRIFE. Then throw in Tex AVERY and my favorite cartoonist NAST.
My HATs off to ye Jacob.

Benko 11:36 AM  

The more rigid a person is with language, the more rigid their thinking, and vice versa...

Unknown 11:47 AM  

Easy/Med Wednesday for I. (couldn't resist) Theme phrases were all fine and a nice revealer. Didn't mind the partial phrases as answers (but I didn't even mind the gibberish answers in last Sunday's puzzle).

In my work setting, I'm careful to use proper grammar. In informal settings, I'm not at all. I grew up in Brooklyn and have lived in Pennsylvania for the last 18 yrs. Sometimes the Brooklyn still comes out. Once in a while I'll drop a 'youz' at home, as in "are youz gonna have any more pizza?" It cracks up my 12yo daughter who has only ever lived in Penn every time.

My wife is the grammar police when it comes to usage of me or I.

Unfortunate crossing of WHALE and ASHORE.

@LMS - did you forget trooper/trouper?

Milford 11:58 AM  

Fun bookend theme, was confused by the theme until about halfway through the solve. MOSSO and HOWDAH were both tough ones, but I made the correct guesses.

Love the grammar discussion - I credit my Latin teacher with teaching me much of what I remember today.

Celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary today! Remembering how we received a VCR as a wedding gift, feeling ancient!

AliasZ 12:10 PM  

@loren, @jberg, @joho and everyone else who chimed in on the language discussion:

It is not a matter of making the English language inflexible. It is instead a necessity to know and understand basic language rules and correct usage, necessary to maintain a level of awareness that will allow English-speaking people a hundred years from now to still be able to read and comprehend a Shakespeare sonnet.

Everything has become so lax and disheveled that "anything goes" is the name of the game, including education. Unfortunately too few mothers or fathers today even know which is correct, BETWEEN YOU AND ME or "between you and I" and why, so there is no help they can provide to today's generation in order to supplant the woefully lacking English grammar instructions in our public education system. I have heard of public school teachers being reprimanded for correcting grammar in class, making some kids feel inferior, stupid or picked on.

One day sitting on a NJ Transit train I had the misfortune to be within earshot of 4 college kids yammering the whole 50 minutes. At one point I decided to count how many times one particular girl said the word "like." I counted 67 within a 10-minute span. I was like, if a hypnotist gave like a post-hypnotic suggestion like the word "like" doesn't exist, it would've been like total silence for like half the trip, but she was like continuing to pile on the "likes" at an alarming rate. By the way, her male friends weren't any better either. I was like: "These kids really don't know how to communicate. And they are the products of our stellar education system. What were they do during English classes?" Probably texting.

Off my soapbox.

William F Buckley 12:24 PM  

You folks think you have problems, consider the agony of communications I suffered through all my life. My vocabulary was so extensive, and those around me so limited, that 90% of what I said, and oh-the brilliant things I said, were not understood by those listening. My grammer was so punctilious, yet I consistently got the door slammed in my face when I responded "It is I" in response to "Who's there".

While I sympathize, you've each suffered your minor genius much less than I.

Mikem0319 12:27 PM  

The stem winder clue for "orates" refers to when watches needed to be manually wound to keep time. If you delivered a stem winder your speech or oration was so long in duration that it would require you to rewind your watch. It's referring to an overly long speech.

Carola 12:29 PM  

@loren - With regard to "they" being used as a singular pronoun, I thought you might be interested in this blog post from an Oxford Dictionaries site:
"Faceoff: ‘he’, ‘he or she’, ‘he/she’, ‘s/he’ versus ‘they’"

I regularly use "they" as a singular pronoun (common where I live anyway) but with a strange mix of grammar guilt and defiance.

gifcan 12:37 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle.

Look how young Deniro is in that clip. Wow, has that much time passed?

I blew it at the corner of HOWDAn and nESS. Got lucky at NANTES and AMOS (guessed the 'S').

Love the conversation.

ahimsa 12:38 PM  

Fun puzzle with a great theme -- kudos to Jacob McDermott!

I actually got the theme early for a change, before I got to BETWEEN YOU AND ME. In fact, here's the song that popped into my head as soon as I figured out that the YOU and ME were missing from the theme answers:

Just You n Me

It's almost the opposite of the theme, I guess. But that's where my brain went. :-)

Masked and Anonymo5Us 12:51 PM  

@world: Caught mah first fruit flie in that vinegary mixture. har! Makin the world safe again for bananas everywhere. But I digress, right outa the gate.

@muse darlin: Draw the line at PEWIT, do I.

@andrea darlin: har. U TALKIN TO ME?

@4-Oh. Gibberish? Rubberish. Every single themer is mature enough to go out in public alone! Between U and me, Let's review the evidence:
* SAIDITNOT. Stands alone nicely, especially on Yoda's home planet. Common playground re-tort, there.
* CANTFOOL. Could be clued as "Won't get the better of". Well, it could.
* TALKINTO. Crystal smooth primo stuff. Child's play to clue, so, say it not, will I.
* DONTSCARE. "Ain't afraid".

Bland fill?!? U talkin to this puz? Many faves abound...
* UHAUL. Little darlins.
* TWANGS. Just as good as HOGCALLS.
* MOVE IN. Would also accept MOVIN.
Only puz downside was almost total lack of a knee-slappin good weeject. Pick of the all-too-clean litter: CSA. yawn. Makes yah really miss good ole KIL.


Anonymous 12:57 PM  

Just saying, but didn't the author of today's puzzle credit Rex (and a couple of others) with all the help they gave him with this puzzle?


ahimsa 1:10 PM  

[Okay, third time's the charm for this comment. Posting without any links this time.]

Fun puzzle with an original theme -- kudos to Jacob McDermott!

I actually got this theme early for a change, even before I got to BETWEEN YOU AND ME at 34 Across. In fact, the song that popped into my head was "Just You N Me" from Chicago. (no link in case that's what's been deleting my comments../)

It's kind of the opposite of the theme but it's where my brain went at the time.

Bird 1:27 PM  

A fun puzzle once I got to the revealer and learned the theme. 23A was DONTFOOL before I got COMB (was thinking rope and twine tangles). Other redos were USERS before DRUGS, EGAD before OHNO and RESIDE before MOVEIN.

That 6A/6D crossing was trouble for me. Don’t know all the music lingo and rumple coulda been Fuss, Muss or Tuss. I guessed wrong.

No idea on 42D, but crosses solved it for me. Liked the long downs. Didn’t we just have GHOSTTOWN in a puzzle?

Happy Humpday!

LaneB 1:35 PM  

Some trouble in the NW corner but otherwise able to slog through the rest starting in the SE and moving across from there.. MOSSO not a familiar term to me. Everything else was

M and Also 2:00 PM  

Fruit Flie on yer collar,
Told a tale on U-U-U.
Fruit Flie on yer collar,
Said that yer UntrUe.
Bet yer bottom dollah,
U and I are thrU...
Fruit Flie on yer collar,
Told a tale on U.

p.s. Just caught flie#2. They must prefer properly aged apple vinegar. Discernin fruit flies.

Hey-- I was so knotted up before, arguin with 4-Oh's snarkopottamus blog, that I forgot to mention that I thoroughly enjoyed today's Wedpuz. Had a nice little ahar moment. thUmbsUp.

Thanx to @JustJoe from yesterday. I was tryin somethin similar with pineapple goo and a vacuum cleaner, before I got the vinegar tip. Did not store vacuum in fridge, tho. Doh! Wrong again, M&A breath.

@4-Oh. Really always always enjoy yer writeups. But they sorely need some bullets/highlight items. Kinda like U do alot over at that there book covers site. Thanx.
Maybe no bullet's got somethin to do with the speed-solvin angle? Nice rip on EROO-words, tho. Probably cuz U lost valuable nanoseconds on ARIE. Used to be, U could write yer Congressman, about such outrages...

Acme 2:57 PM  

They has become a good way to get around s/he when you want to be gender neutral or inclusive.

Easiest way to remember if it is me or I is to drop the first name. Give it to Mary or me...give it to me.

@lms I'm still confused by was/were after if.
If i were you, i get, if i were a rich man, yes... But if it was/were up to me, both would be fine!

After I taught ESL for years, I finally decided I like double negatives better than correct grammar. When my Italians said "I don't want nothing" i thought "me neither!"

Glad young Jacob thanked those who helped him... But for all we know their advice might have been "forget it!" which he ignored!
(kidding...I'm sure they were tremendously helpful)

Anonymous 3:27 PM  

As far as MOSSO is concerned, Wikipedia has the following under Tempo:
"Meno mosso – less movement or slower
Mosso – movement, more lively, or quicker, much like più mosso, but not as extreme
Più mosso – more movement or faster"
Doesn't look like there was any mistake by Jacob or Will, subtle or otherwise.

Anonymous 3:40 PM  

Dead easy. A rare Thursday where I solved the puzzle with only the across clues, in ink, without changes or errors. "Hess" gave me a bit of pause (wanted Esso) until I could dredge Argo out of my stubborn memory. -Skeptic 53

mac 3:47 PM  

Medium Wednesday for me, with the theme getting clear about in the middle, but I liked it a lot.

Write-over at 60A: Hugo/Argo, and 33D any moment/any minute.

Nice term, @Milford, book-end theme.

@Bob Kerfuffle: I sometimes refer to my husband as "Himself".

Lewis 3:54 PM  

Loved the clue for TURBO, connecting in the clue the parts to fanjet. Don't know where I pulled NANTES out of, but set it right down.

I liked this theme a lot, and having to fill in words mentally.

Last Silver Bullet 4:17 PM  

@4-Oh: Reason for big resale value on that "Death and Letters" paperback...
Typical online shopper's reaction to front cover: "My God, it's full of crosswords! From the Fifties! I want that!"


sanfranman59 4:35 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 9:02, 9:44, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:42, 5:42, 1.00, 49%, Medium

Anonymous 5:04 PM  

Maybe someone already said this, but the original context for the "Taxi Driver" question was Bruce Springsteen. He'd come out after the crowd demanded an encore, and say innocently, "You talkin' to me?" They stole it for "Taxi Driver" as an homage.

Davis 7:34 PM  


It is instead a necessity to know and understand basic language rules and correct usage...

Here's the question I always have for people who make such complaints: Where do you look to determine whether your understanding of "basic language rules and correct usage" is actually correct?

At one point I decided to count how many times one particular girl said the word "like." I counted 67 within a 10-minute span.

"Like" is a common modern-day filler in spoken communication. Do you consider people poorly educated if they say "uh" or "um" a lot, too? And what do informal modes of communication have to do with what people learn in English class, anyway? Is your underlying complaint that you want these kids to get off your lawn?

What's particularly funny is that people have been making exactly the same complaints about changes in the English language literally for hundreds of years (and many of those changes are ones that you now accept as "proper" English). Henry Hitchings wrote an entertaining discussion of the history of "proper" English; I recommend it for anyone who is under the illusion that the English language is so much more "lax and disheveled" now than it used to be.

August West 7:46 PM  

Loudon Wainwright III explains grammar

mac 9:04 PM  

@AliasZ: I once observed a very odd thing. Our niece, who is very well educated, has a PHD in psychology and speaks with us in grammatically good English, changed the way she spoke (inserting lots of "likes") when a couple of contemporaries joined us.

Blackeyed Susan 10:00 PM  

@chefbea - thank you for the welcome! I'd rather read than write - come to think of it, that's been true all my life - but every so often I'll chime in. Like today-have to ask @loren: do you (or does anyone) care that "different is always followed by from"? That was drilled into our heads by our eighth grade nun of blessed memory, along with a lot of other stuff I won't go into. " Different than " makes me cringe to this day.

August West 12:21 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 4:42 AM  

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Nick 10:56 AM  

Ugh. Too much gunk. Left it half-finished because the quality of fill was just plain depressing.

JustJoe 4:15 PM  

@M&A glad to hear you're catching some flies now whatever the method!

bradmaddox 7:46 AM  

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Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Whipped through this one after breakfast fast enough to come here, check my answers, brag about my crossword skills and still get off to work on time.

@Brad maddox 7:46 AM
Cool story, bro.

spacecraft 11:36 AM  

Monday called; it wants its puzzle back. Sailed through with only a single hiccup: liVEIN before MOVEIN. I was trying to figure out how LAPS helped treasure hunters. Ha!

"HOWDAH! ASHORE want to welcome y'all!" he TWANGS. what is English surely depends on location. My own observation seems less focused on the relaxation of grammar than on the written (texted) word, which uses "there" for all three homophones; less on the overuse of "like" than on the GROSS overuse of the F-bomb freely in mixed company, something one did not dare to let slip in my day. We are descending into the maelstrom.

Hand up for learning about "stemwinder." I understand the image: if you catch people looking at their watches and winding their stems, you've been talking too long.

To wit.

rain forest 2:15 PM  

@BENKO at 11:36 AM - If you were to exchange "precise" for "rigid", I would agree with you. People whose thinking is rigid are just as liable to speak/write imprecisely as more flexible thinkers. On the other hand, those precise with grammar are able to more freely express their views, and to be understood.

capcha: inkenme - guess I left my pen in my chest pocket.
Odd about the perceived difficulty of puzzles. I found yesterday's much easier than this one, but enjoyed them both. Mis-spelled eMELDA which made that theme entry extra hard. MOSSO was totally new to me, which also didn't help.

Nice Wednesday.

Dirigonzo 3:43 PM  

For the second day in a row I figured out the theme before I completed the grid and used it to help solve the puzzle. The light came on at (you) TALKIN' TO (me) and the other theme answers were familiar enough to get the answers with just a few crosses filled in. I'm no critic but even if I were I'd find little to criticize with this offering - nice job, JMcD!

DMG 4:52 PM  

Enjoyed this one. Only correction was ANYMINUTE, for ANYdaynow. Thanks to @Henry IV for the posting his Edict, knew of it, but never read it before.

I'm a bit of a grammar freak. And I can't tell you how hard it is not to correct my son-in-law when he says, "Me and John are going to the beach." but then, I also find myself mentally correcting the "I/me" misuse by newscasters and such. My other favorite cringe is the use of "myself", as in "She gave it to myself", an actual quote from last nighht's local broadcast. I probably need to get a life!

Ginger 4:53 PM  

Liked it more than Rex did. It was fun and I enjoyed the themers. Had a little problem parsing 'you SAID IT, NOT me', until I put in the comma. Studied music for many years, oh so many years ago, but never heard of MOSSO, so that area put up a fight.

I was in 'sales' for much of my working career. In dealing with customers, I found that it's best to use the same slang and idioms that they did. Sometimes, using 'correct' English made it appear that I was 'talking down' to them. Not a good way to make a sale.

@DMG The Aussie Open comes up in January, and there's a warm up tourney just before that. Stay tuned! As much as you enjoy the sport, it's too bad you can't get the Tennis Channel. It's available on DirecTV.

Ginger 4:57 PM  

@DMG Some newscasters also have a problem with pronunciation. I remember a local broadcaster reporting that Kissinger was visiting the Aswan area of Egypt with "Kissinger arrived on a swan".

Waxy in Montreal 7:27 PM  

Only problem encountered was the intersection of HOWDA_ with _ESS which took a pure guess to solve - could just as easily have been HOWDAN and NESS (not familiar with HESS OIL).

Otherwise, a pleasant, if not overly-taxing Wednesday puzzle.

Solving in Seattle 8:42 PM  

Did today's puz while waiting for eye surgery. Asked Mrs. SiS what "Rapid, in music" was and she said "presto." When I finally worked out MOSSO and told her her expression was doubtful.

ANYMoment before ---MINUTE.

Caught the theme gremlin at CANTFOOL and confirmed with 34A revealer. Fun Wednesday, Jacob.

@DMG, you beat me to the "me and Beavis are going to the mall" thing that young adults are saying.

The "like" discussion is interesting. My Ivy educated daughter with a degree in English uses "like" as every third word in conversations with her peers.

@LMS, what little grammar I learned in school included using me instead of I following a preposition. I also use the Acme tool of dropping the first person and seeing if the sentence makes sense. You really started a great blog subject today. And it wasn't a STEMWINDER.

Capcha: conmate. The person sharing your cell with whom you have a very close relationship?

Ginger 11:15 PM  

@SIS Wish you well with the eye surgery. Hope that all goes well! Is your conmate shouting out joke numbers?

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