Green in product names / WED 11-13-13 / Company founded by 17-year-old Swede / Cowardly Lion portrayer / Foofaraw

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Constructor: Jean O'Conor

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: PESTO (61A: What you get when you blend the results of this puzzle's recipe instructions) — theme answers are instructions for making PESTO

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Recipe instruction #1 (MINCE GARLIC)
  • 22A: Recipe instruction #2 (GRATE PARMESAN)
  • 33A: Recipe instruction #3 (CHOP BASIL LEAVES)
  • 45A: Recipe instruction #4 (CRUSH PINE NUTS)
  • 53A: Recipe instruction #5 (ADD OLIVE OIL)
Word of the Day: ANITA Diamant (37D: "The Red Tent" author Diamant) —
Anita Diamant (born June 27, 1951) is an American author of fiction and non-fiction books. She is best known for her novel,The Red Tent, a New York Times best seller. She has also written several guides for Jewish people, including The New Jewish Wedding and Living a Jewish Life. (wikipedia)
• • •

I'm less annoyed than I am tired. Tired of the onslaught of competent but dull and unambitious puzzles that the NYT is turning out this week. This is a well-meaning effort. It's a recipe. The revealer is … the thing that's being made. Sadly, but unsurprisingly, solving this was about as exciting as reading a PESTO recipe. So straightforward it hurts. ADD OLIVE OIL is weird since the other ingredients a. all involve transformative actions and b. have not yet been combined so technically there's nothing to ADD the OLIVE OIL to. But that's a nit. The bigger problem is the dullness. Also, the fill, which, Once Again, is manifestly, on its surface, obvious for all to see, subpar and crosswordese-laden. I don't really want to do a full list, but multiple OLEARYS, really? Since when? Is that in the song / legend? She has a husband? A family? It's just *her* cow, Mrs. O'LEARY'S cow. If there is a husband / family, who the hell knows that? Oh, look, my friend Amy pointed me to wikipedia, which reveals that Mrs. O'Leary "was married to Patrick O'Leary. The couple's son, James Patrick O'Leary, grew up to run a Chicago gambling hall." So the clue checks out, and yet it's still her damned cow. Hers. Not theirs.

We've also got ERB, OBE, ESTH, ALCAN, ENVIRO (?), MILORD, PIET, LAHR, etc. … only now that I look at it, that list (of xwordese and whatever ENVIRO is) is starting to feel average. Average for a NYT puzzle. A NIP!? Gah. Where is the joy? SPONGEBOB! That works. The rest is just a grind. Also, as a friend of mine just noted to me, re: 46D: Pizza cuts, essentially (RADII)—"that is wrong; nobody cuts a pizza that way." He's right. Birthday cake cuts, sure. Pizza, no.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Glimmerglass 7:18 AM  

Not a bad puzzle, but too easy for midweek.

August West 7:25 AM  

Starting off with OJS, I thought, "Hoo boy! Here we go." Rex is spot on. Despite my culinary ignorance, nearly all crosses of the five recipe instructions were strikingly, "gimme" easy, ESTH and ENVIRO (boo!) being perhaps two exceptions. They were, however, each easily slain by their own crosses. Ditto, ANITA, who was new to me, post-solve google making readily clear why that is so.

The themers were clean, if bland, leading sequentially to (even) my dawning realization that we were here making PESTO long before I reached the reveal at 61A. best Homer Simpson..:: BORING!

SPONGEBOB was nice to see, and any puzzle that has LEE Van Cleef can't be all bad. But this comes close. I had the same reaction to OLEARYS, and OBE, UNIX, ERB, yet more crosswordese mucking up the works.

Oh, and it's BICEPS. Ready? Go.

jberg 7:31 AM  

I made pesto last night, with the last basil from my garden -- I always cut the olive oil with butter, though, makes it less runny. So that was OK -- but really, really easy. I'm not feeling too good, so that's just as well.

AliasZ 7:45 AM  

I can’t OVERSTATE how much I ADMIRE Jean O’Conor for this NEAT puzzle. It was a super quick solve for a Wednesday, but I appreciated seeing PIET Mondrian, JUDI Dench, ANITA Diamant, TONY Danza and SPONGEBOB in it. I also enjoyed REBIRTH OBVIATES LINGERIE, but could’ve done without ENVIRO, ESTH, ANIP, ASIS and SISI.

I had no idea making something as benign and tasty as PESTO can be so violent: MINCE, GRATE, CHOP and CRUSH. There is also BEAT, LANCE, EVIL, SHRIEK and REBOOT (as in kick again).

MILORD, who knew that there were FOUR pecks to a BUSHEL, or that you had to be THIRTY to be a senator, or that IKEA was started by a 17-year-old? I hope I’ll still remember them for the upcoming quiz.

If you add ASIS to SISI you get Assisi. In this piano work Franz Liszt paints a musical picture of "St. Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds," the first of his Deux légendes.

Enjoy hump day.

Notsofast 8:08 AM  

A pushover. Probably better for a Monday. But the IKEA thing was cool.

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

On the money, Rexie!

Sir Hillary 8:13 AM  

So so. Just a Q short of a pangram...could that be the culprit?

I liked how, at first blush, "an ex of Frank" could have been AVA or Mia.

Took me forever to recognize the 52D clue as past tense...drove myself a bit nuts with that one.

r.alphbunker 8:15 AM  

A very timely puzzle for me. A friend is having a birthday party and asked that people give her recipes as gifts. I am printing out this puzzle for her. And I bet she will love it (the puzzle anyway).

I remember that there was a recipe puzzle for a BROOKLYN EGG CREAM in the ACPT a couple years ago that was much more difficult.

Unknown 8:22 AM  

I grow a lot of basil and make lots of pesto all summer and I have never, ever CRUSHed the PINE NUTS. Oh, well. I appreciated the recipe as a theme. But we sure did have to put up with some yuck to get it. Very easy for a Wednesday.

dk 8:22 AM  

Sigh. What a week! I find myself agreeing with Rex: all is lost :).

🌟🌟 (2 Stars) Just because it is Wednesday does not mean it is a Wednesday puzzle.

Off to Thermoplis WY on Friday, then on to Moab for the annual Barbie shoot… and Thanksgiving. Have used to map my food stops and also have a list of hotels named after animals (last time was Indian names). As some know I use these road trips to take in all the highlights the likes of which my father would never do. Best known will be Wall Drug -- I prefer the Corn Palace. As I know you will all be on the edge of your seats I will weave the sights into my posts.

Note: This year I will be firing a F&H tactical 12 gauge with slugs. Barbie will be toast. Ken jam.

joho 8:32 AM  

Just run this one on a Monday and you've got an easy puzzle with a fresh and original theme! (I might have liked it because I love PESTO.)

I enjoyed the call to action with MINCE, GREATE, CHOP, CRUSH and ADD.

Only writeover was MyLORD to MILORD.

Yes, too easy for a Wednesday but that's not Jean's fault.

Rob C 8:37 AM  

Easy/med Wed. for me. Agree with Rex that this theme was so straightforward it made the puzzle a bit bland (but not to the point that "it hurt"). Nothing in the way of wordplay or an aha moment.

Fill had its highlights (SPONGE BOB, OBVIATES, REBOOT, LINGERIE, MILORD) and its lowlights (SISI, PIET, ESTH, ERB), but most of it was serviceable. 68 theme squares, so that's a lot. Most of the downs cross 2 theme answers.

The trivia on IKEA was neat. So was pairing Ikea with TABLE.

Had the same thought as Rex's friend - nobody cuts pizza in RADII. It's a diameter cut, but one side of the resulting slices are radii, so maybe the clue could have referred to the slice. Mmmm, I think I'll have pizza for lunch

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

Was really hoping the revealer would be "Presto, Pesto"

Carola 8:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 8:48 AM  

I liked the recipe theme; caught on that it was for PESTO about half way through. One write-over: smaSH before CRUSH.

With 'enry 'iggens's Eliza in the puzzle, it was an extra treat to have 'ERB under the BASIL line. She also attends ASCOT'S opening day, I believe

MetaRex 8:52 AM  

Liked TABLE at the top as a semi-echo of an already dense theme...

Lotsa craft here...ESE low at 47, word count low, word length long, thematic density high, scrabbliness high, block count reasonable, freshness factor per xword info high.

Kinda wonky reflections on eseometry and the ESE-y OJS NW corner of today's puzz are here

Lewis 9:01 AM  

Felt like a Tuesday, and one of those themes that helps with the solve. Abundance of grid gruel. I like the tricky clue for LINGERIE. Never heard of ALCAN highway. I like the word OBVIATES. Didn't like the clue for CLAPS -- sounds of appreciation is applause, IMO -- but at least it was the applause definition for the word! (I think it should have been clued as a verb, which is how we normally use CLAPS.

And I love pesto!

Workmanlike puzzle, always glad to give my brain the exercise, with a mouth watering theme.

John Bobbitt 9:02 AM  

@DK - Lest you loose all your crazy gun maniac cred, it's LNH, not L& H.

Somehow, the phrase "crush nuts" causes me pain in places I can't describe.

Z 9:13 AM  

@DK - Shooting Barbies? Make sure you aim for the wide part.

Two Y to I writeovers (I ask again, what DO the British know about English?) and my cat is a little wide for the SILL so her perch tends to be the Sofa, otherwise a clean, quick solve. I did have AVi before I looked at the across clue and was forced to remember that "put" can have either tense. I guess the Wednesdayness is supposed to come from the repetitious "Recipe instruction," but the downs were too easy to make that much of a challenge. Monday easy here.

Again, a puzzle with less word play and more straightforward trivia. I'm sure there are lots of other people who like it.

@August West - Friedman (the man's an idiot) and Krugman (the man's a genius)* populating the same editorial page. Ergo - right down the middle. Have to agree on the Lacrosse thing, although the entire saber rattling for war in Iraq had more national and international implications.

*For those who take everything written too seriously - "idiot" means I disagree with most of what he writes while "genius" means I agree. I am not familiar with either man's Stanford-Binet scores.

Questinia 9:14 AM  

My biggest obstacle was writing in Mix toGether instead of MINCE GARLIC which not only made me initially meander and confused but upon fixing it made me distracted with hunger. I believe I salivated a little. Like @ Susan McConnell I never crush the pine nuts but have crushed pistachios.

However what makes this a Family Circle pesto recipe from 1985 and *not* one for the NYT's is that it doesn't include extra virgin OLIVE OIL. No excuse, Ms O'Conor, you could have even clued it Wednesday tough with EVOO. If the puzzles are tending bland no reason to make the recipes as well.
However IKEA founder more than made up for it.

@ dk, my papa took me on a cross country road trip in a VW beetle when I was nine and before we hit the majestic West, it was the Corn Palace that was most memorable.

John V 9:20 AM  

Easy, fun, Monday. That's it.

Loren Muse Smith 9:21 AM  

@meta rex - Along the same lines of your TABLE thinking, I would have liked to see ADO clued as "stir."

@Carola - again, gread catch on ERB and "Iggins.

So does a banshee SHRIEK or WAIL?

"Smudge" has one more letter than SMEAR.

@Rob C - that's it! Quip/recipe/quote puzzles lack the wordplay that pleases me so much!

I'm stuck with how we pronounce LINGERIE. I mean Jeez Louise. And a lot of us pronounce the S in PARMESAN just like the G in LINGERIE.

Also yesterday, I swear, as I was driving to Charleston (I'm typing this in the lobby of a hotel) I was doing a mental inventory of the three pronunciations of OUR in today's FOUR.

our, hour, flour, sour
FOUR, pour
tour, dour

So there.

Hey - easy and I still enjoyed it just fine.

chefbea 9:29 AM  

Yummy easy puzzle. Of course I loved it. Make pest all the time. I don't go through all that hard work. Put all the ingredients except the oil in the food processor. When chopped…ad the oil a bit at a time.

Maybe someone will do a recipe for roasted beet and goat cheese salad!!!!!

Masked and Anonymo5Us 9:34 AM  

Yo, 4-Oh. yep. Fill about right, for a 72-worder with five long themers, plus a reveal, I reckon. On a grid like that, the crossword gods are going to exact some payback. ARNIES doin the bump with OLEARYS. OBE rammin into ESTH. The dreaded ENVIRO... super villain sent my Mother Nature to battle the X-guys or the American Legion of Thor Hips, or somesuch. har. yep. Gotta take the seeds and stems with the good stuff, dude.

But, hey -- who doesn't like to learn how to make pesto? Goes good on ELK, PUPs, SPONGEBOB, and pizza RADII. Just grind in a few ERBs. Wash down with OJS. Seems like fun stuff, to me. I was just relieved, they weren't showin us how to build a fake joint.

51-Down does make me miss that little red rubber duckie avatar, tho... sniffle.


thursdaysd 9:44 AM  

"46D: Pizza cuts, essentially (RADII)—"that is wrong; nobody cuts a pizza that way." He's right. Birthday cake cuts, sure. Pizza, no."

Huh? I cut my pizza the same way I cut a round cake, birthday or other. How else do you get slices? Is this some regional difference? Are you starting with a square pizza?

Sarah 10:00 AM  

Q: Has a similar theme every been done in a crossword before? Or is this one totally unique?

Bob Kerfuffle 10:06 AM  

38 A, "Tarzan creator's monogram", ERB, reminded me of a recent complaint (deepest apology, forget by whom) about the use of the word "Monogram" where a clue called for initials (as does today's.) A quick look at Google yields,

"noun: monogram; plural noun: monograms

1.a motif of two or more letters, typically a person's initials, usually interwoven or otherwise combined in a decorative design, used as a logo or to identify a personal possession."

where that weasel word "usually" renders the puzzle correct - even though "initials" is shorter than "monogram," so why not use it.

@thursdaysd - I think the point people are arguing is that pizza is always cut all the way along the diameter, in the pizza shop, while birthday cakes are typically cut one slice at a time along a radius -- I've found it can be very messy to try to cut a richly frosted cake all up at once.

lawprof 10:10 AM  

Several years ago I had a law student who had moved to the United States from London, where he had been a practicing barrister. In order to be admitted to practice in the U.S., he was required to complete a truncated J.D. degree at an American law school. On one occasion I had a hearing at the local District Court and with the judge's permission, my student was able to handle the matter. Throughout the hearing, by force of habit, he addressed the judge as, "Milord" instead of the customary "Your Honor." His Honor never said a word; he just beamed.

thursdaysd 10:14 AM  

@Bob - well, yes, but isn't a diameter equal to two radii? And if you split a pizza between two people it may be only the first cut that's a diameter.

mac 10:20 AM  

Very easy but a dense theme. I thought of both Mia and Ava as well. This is the second bugling beast I've come upon in the last couple of days.

I love Pesto, but I put basil, garlic, pinenuts and salt in a food processor, add the olive oil while it's running, and just before adding the pasta I mix in grated Parmesan and Pecorino Romano plus some soft butter.

Steve J 10:29 AM  

Meh. It's a recipe. An incorrect one, at that. (As others have pointed out, you chop the PINE NUTS, not crush them. But then you couldn't have CHOP in the puzzle twice.) But, unlike a good PESTO made with very aromatic BASIL and excellent OLIVE OIL (yes, @Questinia, extra-virgin is a must), there's no zip or freshness here. It's just trivia, essentially.

Flat themes can often be redeemed by sparkle in the other fill, but it wasn't to be had here. There were a few nice words - SHRIEK, SPONGE BOB, REBOOT - but they were thin compared to the rest. And ENVIRO is not a thing as it's used here (the clue at least needed to indicate slangy/markteing-y usage, as was done for the BICEP clue).

@thursdayd: You're correct that the result of cutting a pizza across the full diameter results in radial slices. The point that people are making is that the clue isn't referring to the resulting slices, but to how you make the cuts. When cutting a cake, people typically start from the center. I've never seen anyone cut a pizza starting from the center.

@August West and @Z: I hope you've both got that out of your systems. There are already at least 3 billion other places on the internet to read petty political bickering in the comments. I'm guessing I'm far from alone in wishing that this place would remain one of the handful of refuges away from that sort of thing.

Two Ponies 10:36 AM  

Easy, yes, but nice to have a puzzle with a feminine slant for a change. Not a sports clue anywhere!
Oops, two golf clues. Oh well.

@ dk, Do share your trip with us.

retired_chemist 10:41 AM  

Pizza is normally cut along diameters. Cake isn't. I'll stick with Rex on that one.

But I found the puzzle a lot less dull than Rex. Perhaps the limitations of my culinary skills, which are practically nonexistent, gave me some excitement in learning how to make PESTO. Not that I ever expect to......

Easy. Thanks, Ms. O'Conor.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

Also, isn't a radius a line?

Unknown 10:53 AM  

We have round pizzas in NYC and when you cut the 8 slices in a pie, the straight sides of the triangle make 16 radii radiating from the center. As for Mrs. o'Leary's cow, you can bet she milked it every day but he owned it.
I liked this puzzle!

quilter1 10:58 AM  

Oh, c'mon, this was easy but fun to do. Yes, the theme answers were easy to get but I had fun anticipating what was being made. Liked seeing SPONGEBOB as we watched lots of him this past summer with the grands. Got no problem with ESTH. Fun fact: the only book in the Bible that doesn't mention God. We don't see LINGERIE very often, or OBVIATES. Good words. I liked it.

Z 11:00 AM  

To be clear - nothing @August West said upset me in the least. I regret that plain text lacks the subtlety of speech, intentional hyperbole gets read as serious, and a simple statement of disagreement over a mostly irrelevant point raises discomfort. I hope no one thinks I believe the British know nothing about English?

@Steve J - I agree - puzzles not politics. Although, I do enjoy the tangents this crowd explores.

jae 11:09 AM  

Add me to the easy but fun contingent. Saw where it was going at the half way point which made the bottom half a slice of cake (got to agree with Rex on the radii clue).

For an interesting view of Purim I recommend the movie "For Your Consideration" by Christopher Guest and some of the folks who brought you "Best in Show."

Milford 11:14 AM  

MILORD - oh, so close to Milford! Some day I will make the puzzle.

I love PESTO, the consuming and the making of, so I liked this. And the OLIVE OIL being last in the list is correct, as @mac noted, as an emulsion (ooh, that would be good in a crossword).

Read ANITA's "The Red Tent" years ago for book club - good read.

According to People maganize in the Kroger checkout line, Frank may have fathered one of Mia's kids,instead of Woody, and I put her in before AVA.

Not that we need to beat the RADII clue to death, but I took it to mean the cuts on a slice of pizza are all RADII of the original pizza.

@dk - we always stopped at both Wall Drug and and the Corn Palace on our way to the Rockies. Wall Drug would probably depress me now, but it was awesome at age 10. Have fun!

r.alphbunker 11:29 AM  


For a puzzle with a similar:

Go to

Sign up and buy access to the 2011 puzzles for $20.

Display puzzle 2 (COUNTER OFFER by Pete Muller)

michy 11:39 AM  

Although I try to solve every day's NYT puzzle, I am usually only capable of solving through Wednesday with out Googling or guessing. Having to guess on a Wednesday doesn't please me! So here's my question - should I have known ERB or LAHR? Had everything but the R for both answers. Probably only one of those is going to stick long term, so which should it be?

AliasZ 12:06 PM  

@Rex, I enjoyed your "rant" on Mrs. O'LEARY'S cow.

However, there is a thing called community property, a marital property regime that originated in civil law jurisdictions and is now also found in some common law jurisdictions. In a community property jurisdiction, most property acquired during the marriage (except for gifts or inheritances)—the community, or communio bonorum—is owned jointly by both spouses and is divided upon divorce, annulment, or death. Joint ownership is automatically presumed by law in the absence of specific evidence that would point to a contrary conclusion for a particular piece of property.

I cannot verify that Cate O'LEARY'S cow was not a gift or inheritance, thus the cow defaults to being community property in my book, making the clue the way it stands perfectly legal.

One caveat: I do not know if Illinois is a community property state or not. If it is not, my entire argument is specious. It is worth less than the time it took to compose it or read it, and the space it now occupies.

GILL I. 12:12 PM  

OPAL/OPEL should go into @Ellen S' "eel" book.
O.K. sweet little Tue. puzzle - nothing to really complain about. Well, maybe ENVIRO.
Speaking of OLIVE OIL, the Sacramento Bee had an interesting article exposing the olive oil business as one of the most "corrupt on the face of the earth."
Evidently a lot of our imported oils are labeled extra virgin when they're not. They get mixed with several (and some times inferior) oils from Spain, Greece and Tunisia and sold in bulk. Then they get shipped to a distribution center, bottled and sent off to your favorite store under the guise of "extra virgin olive oil."
I guess, buyer beware - look closely at the labels!!! We only
buy locally grown and bottled oils such as "California Olive Ranch" or my favorite albeit very expensive Regusci Familia...
PESTO is overrated.....

LaneB 12:23 PM  

Having made pesto sauce a number of times, the recipe became obvious early, leading to a fast and easy finish. Very good for me on a Wednesday thanks to MS. O'Connor. Nice to see another Irish family, OLEARY,

Arby 12:29 PM  

Brain fart du jour: I immediately wrote in "EXPIATES" for "OBVIATES", smugly proud of getting the answer so quickly.

Now that I've written that sentence, I think to myself: It exposes a certain deep level of geekdom for me to think 'It's funny that I did that.'

It's an entirely different (and probably unattainable) level of nerdity for someone ELSE to find it funny or even interesting. Oh well.

jae 12:56 PM  

@michy -- Bert LAHR and Edgar Rice Burroughs are both reasonably famous/well known outside of crosswords, however, if you're an Xer or a millennial you may not have been exposed to the Tarzan books or The Wizard of Oz movie. ERB's John Carter of Mars was the basis for the recent movie flop John Carter.

Carola 1:03 PM  

@Alias Z - Thank you for the Liszt link. I appreciate all the musical leads you provide us.

michy 1:06 PM  

@jae - thanks for the info. I'll try to remember both going forward!

You are right - I'm an Xer and also relatively new to crosswords (having recently decided that crosswords offer more mental stimulation that Sudokos).

efrex 1:54 PM  

While doing this, I thought to myself: "self, Rex is gonna hate this theme." Not a fan of it myself, although pesto itself is always welcome. Just remember to blanch your basil first and you'll get an extra day or two out of it.

I've seen pizza places cut individual slices out of the pie without making a full diameter cut, so the RADII clue works for me. More annoyed at the clue for ELIZA: what does the Cockney accent add to the clue?

Oh, well, on to Thursday...

Charlene 2:09 PM  

Also, "milord" is not a term of an address for a nobleman. No, it is not. It was a sarcastic slang term directed at any rich Englishman in 19th century France who threw around money, as popularized by Edith Piaf decades later.

ksquare 3:25 PM  

Pizza Baker: Should I cut this pizza into six or eight slices?
Diner: Better make4 it six. I don't think I could eat eight!

sanfranman59 4:23 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 8:32, 9:44, 0.88, 22%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:21, 5:37, 0.95, 37%, Easy-Medium

Anonymous 4:35 PM  

I'm late doing the puzzle, and I loved it! How clever! I really don't mind a little crosswordese since I've been doing puzzles since Margaret Farrar. And there was pesto on my pannini this noon. Perfect!

ahimsa 6:51 PM  

What a lovely puzzle! Okay, too easy for a Wed (isn't that up to the editor? can't blame that on the constructor!), but I enjoyed it! So, thank you to Jean O'Conor!

And the theme made the puzzle easier. I wrote in ADD OLIVE OIL without any crosses.

Ditto on using a food processor when making PESTO. And @Gill P I, I read a similar story (or heard it on the radio?) about imported EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). It does seem like domestic is a better bet.

chefbea 7:41 PM  

@ahimsa my daughter who lives in Italy has the best olive oil…from the olive trees on her property!!!

Unknown 8:41 PM  

I loved it! Sure, it was easy for a Wednesday, but it was fun and fresh (at least for me) to have a recipe for a theme. And I'm certainly a big pesto fan.

I will take exception to calling UNIX grid gruel. UNIX was a brilliant operating system for its time. I did instant messages in UNIX way back in .... 1985.

Unknown 8:44 PM  

Oh, and I'll add that I did ponder a bit during solving if rubbing my dogs with basil would help remove residual skunk smell, from a rather unfortunate incident last night at 1 am. Peroxide, baking soda, and soap took out the majority of it.

sanfranman59 10:02 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 6:03, 6:06, 0.99, 45%, Medium
Tue 7:59, 8:15, 0.97, 39%, Easy-Medium
Wed 8:31, 9:44, 0.88, 22%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:46, 1.01, 54%, Medium
Tue 4:46, 5:09, 0.93, 21%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:09, 5:37, 0.92, 27%, Easy-Medium

ahimsa 10:17 PM  

@chefbea, how lucky that your daughter has a trusted source for olives and olive oil! I'm envious. :-)

Matt Flaco. 11:22 PM  

As a pizza man, I would like to chime in that the proper way to cut a pizza is from the center-->out. You get more consistently even slices that way. So you do one diameter and six RADII.

That is all.


Alcan Crush Minces Enviro 1:13 AM  

Late to the party and the PESTO bowl has been scraped dry...
but wanted to say, Yummy idea, yes, a tad on the bland side, could have used more salt...
but I like that it was trying something new

and I loved that it had such a female vibe..
(the whole recipe and ANITA Diamant's "Red Tent" which is the staple of every women's bookclub EVER!)

And SHRIEK is way fun, throw in a little SPONGEBOB and cool Ikea trivia and you gots yourself a puzzle!

Didn't know ALCAN and ENVIRO seems like a cross between an abbrev an ad-style spelling and a semi-real word.

Smiled at the AVA/MiA possible misdirect, tho it from the sounds of things, it sounds like Frank was never quite an ex-EX for Ms Farrow.

JustJoe 12:55 PM  

@SteveJ - couldn't agree more - please let this be a refuge free of P.B.S. I don't give a gnat's butt hair what you think of the NYT or who writes for them. I am interested in what you thought of today's puzzle and that's what I come here for - some lively mostly intelligent commenting on the daily crossword. Is that too much to ask?

spacecraft 10:19 AM  

This was a tale of two halves. I breezed through the top--and then came to "Fudge, say." When that turned out to be OVERSTATE, I reread the clue. And now I'm still puzzled. To "fudge," in the figurative sense, to me means to fill in gaps of ignorance, to make up facts that seem to fit. It has NOTHING to do with "OVERSTATE.

And that wasn't all down south. RADII are not "pizza cuts, essentially." They are, as someone above said, lines. The cuts are wedges. Even if you go with the term "cut" to mean, literally, the act of slicing, no self-respecting pizza chef cuts RADII. They cut diameters. So we have two very bad clues.

Then there's ENVIRO. You cannot be serious. Name me one product that starts out ENVIRO-. That is simply a non-word, even a non-prefix, and it gets the spacecraft flag.

As to theme density, and the fact that no fewer than 18 downs pass through two long theme answers, this is a pretty remarkable feat. But cluing ANITA as Diamant and UNDER as hypnotized looks like somebody's trying to qualify for a Friday.

"Are you ready, kids? Whoooo..."

rain forest 12:58 PM  

I have a pizza slice in front of me. It is sort of wedge-shaped, although to be accurate, sector-shaped. I can see the two sides that were cut, whether in one long diameter or not, and they are RADII. Now, that's assuming the cutter was precise enough to cut either through or from the exact centre of the pizza. Very important. But, of course, if the pizza is rectangular, all bets are off.

I thought this puzzle was very easy, but I may be FUDGING, and I love PESTO, even if made with, ahem, 'experienced' olive oil.

Solving in Seattle 2:22 PM  

Love the word OBVIATES. That's what new paradigms do: OBVIATE old stuff. It kept me from throwing down chocolATE for "Fudge, say."

Yeah, whenever I am writing the name of the very long Old Testament book "ESTHer," I always use the abbreviated "ESTH." So much easier.

Actually liked REBOOT/REBIRTH crossing. Renaissance is a cool word, too.

@Rex, I'm guessing that Jean O'Connor's family knew the O'LEARYS or she wouldn't have clued 25A like she did.

@Spacy, I think MILORD ENVIRO was a henchman of Falstaff's. Pretty sure.

Capcha: celdept. Answer to the question at Macy's: Where can I find a cel?
(@Diri, cue groan button.)

DN 2:27 PM  

Guess this one was too tame for many, but I enjoyed it. As one who has the same aversion to basil that others have for my favorite cilantro, I have never made pesto, so the recipe wasn't that known or controversial to me. Not going to get involved in the pizza thing except to say that by the time it hits my plate the slice sides sure look like radii, regardless of how they got that way.
Did learn Ms. Dench spells her name with an "I", not "y". On to tomorrow.

DMG 2:30 PM  

Guess this one was too tame for many, but I enjoyed it. As one who has the same aversion to basil that others have for my favorite cilantro, I have never made pesto, so the recipe wasn't that known or controversial to me. Not going to get involved in the pizza thing except to say that by the time it hits my plate the slice sides sure look like radii, regardless of how they got that way.
Did learn Ms. Dench spells her name with an "I", not "y". On to tomorrow.

Spell check tells me my Captcha: ndalishi is misspelled!!!

Dirigonzo 5:04 PM  

My black lab LANCE is grateful that FIX was given a clue that does not make reference to any surgical procedures, as is often the case. I ADMIRE this puzzle and think the cluing was spot-on, even if it was a tad too easy for mid-week.

@spacecraft - I can say with some degree of certainty (based on 32 years experience) that when it comes to taxes "fudged" figures are indeed often OVERSTATEd, and a quick google search will answer your question about ENVIRO.

strayling 7:30 PM  

Just what I needed on hump day. Nothing too fancy, just a nice, satisfying meat-and-potatoes comfort puzzle. The PESTO goes surprisingly well with it.

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