Imager of the earth's surface / TUE 11-26-13 / Transitional zone between plant communities / Modern home of ancient Zapotec civilization / Extinct ostrichlike bird / Hawaii five-o nickname / Friend of Porky Spanky

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Constructor: Don Gagliardo and Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging 

THEME: TRADEMARKS (62A: Intellectual property protection … or what the starts of 17-, 21-, 39- and 57-Across once were) — just what it says

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Hiker's snack (GRANOLA BAR) — these are such a popular, everyday food that I hardly think of them as having any association with hikers. Gorp is super hikery. Kids have GRANOLA BARs in their lunch boxes. 
  • 21A: What's being discussed in the National Enquirer or Globe (TABLOID BUZZ) —ugh (see below)
  • 39A: Provision in many a construction contract (ESCALATOR CLAUSE) — no idea what this is. Sounds vaguely familiar. Very vaguely.
  • 57A: Poor weight-loss practice (YO-YO DIETING) — far and away the best answer in this grid. 

Word of the Day: LANDSAT (18D: Imager of the earth's surface) —
The Landsat program is the longest running enterprise for acquisition of satellite imagery of Earth. On July 23, 1972 the Earth Resources Technology Satellite was launched. This was eventually renamed to Landsat. The most recent, Landsat 8, was launched on February 11, 2013. The instruments on the Landsat satellites have acquired millions of images. The images, archived in the United States and at Landsat receiving stations around the world, are a unique resource for global change research and applications in agriculturecartography,geologyforestryregional planningsurveillance and education. Landsat 7 data has eight spectral bands withspatial resolutions ranging from 15 to 60 meters; the temporal resolution is 16 days. (wikipedia)
• • •

I feel sorry for this puzzle. A little sorry, anyway. It looks much worse than it probably is by contrast with yesterday's wonderful effort. The theme here is painfully straightforward. I don't care at all that the first words of these phrase used to be TRADEMARKS. That is a fact, not a revealer. There's no playfulness, no real revelation. Nothing. Also, there's not consistency. Usually with this type of theme, you use the theme words in non-theme contexts—see for example YO-YO DIETING and ESCALATOR CLAUSE, where the initial words don't refer to the same thing referred to by the revealer (i.e. words are used metaphorically in the theme answers). But with the other two theme answers, those initial words are simply literal. GRANOLA BARs are made from granola. No metaphor. No change of context. Just … granola. So, the theme is a snore, and an inconsistent one at that. Further, TABLOID BUZZ is decidedly not a thing. Not a phrase. It googles so terribly that I can't believe it passed editorial scrutiny. Put it in quotation marks and google it. 9,000. That is a godawful number. By contrast, RESTAURANT BUZZ yields over 25,000 hits, and that is *definitely* not a coherent, self-standing phrase. TABLOID FARE gets you 16,300. Also terrible, but as you can see, less terrible (viability-wise) than BUZZ. Your Zs are worthless when they are forced like this.

Never heard of LANDSAT. Middle of puzzle was thus way more difficulty for me than any patch of puzzle normally is on a Tuesday. ECOTONE! Ugh (37D: Transitional zone between plant communities). Sorry, but that's just long crosswordese. Never encountered it outside a grid. Half as many long Downs today, and they are less than half as good. Crosswordese is more plentiful and more grating. Multiple CIAOS? A few people complained about yesterday's INKS, which is a stupid complaint if you know anything about comics or tattoos. Also, if INKS is a bad plural (and it isn't), then what about CIAOS? Are we just going to accept CIAOS? Are we just going to accept ASSNS ATEIN ATA ADREP *all in the same corner*? Looks like Kevin's puzzle yesterday was less a new trend and more an exception that proves the rule—the quality of the product here is slowly diminishing.

The fact that it is my birthday makes this puzzle especially disappointing. Oh well, at least There Will Be Cake.

See you tomorrow.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Anonymous 12:04 AM  

    Tabloid Buzz: 402 Google Results.


    Steve J 12:09 AM  

    Potentially interesting theme idea that fell flat. TABOLID BUZZ is not only not much of a thing, the answer and clue are pretty much an infinite loop. YO-YO DIETING is indeed nice, but GRANOLA BAR is about as dry and dusty as a bad example of its namesake.

    Far more interesting would have been stuff that people would be surprised to know were once trademarks. Stuff like Heroin, Aspirin, Kerosene and Videotape (the only surprise to me here was Granola; I knew all the others were trademarks).

    That SE corner is a definitely a mess. As is CIAOS. As is ATE being used twice.

    HUIT and ETRE made me think about how much tougher crosswords would be if I didn't speak a bit of French.

    BTW, Rex, the complaints yesterday about INKS weren't about the answer; they were about the way it was clued. The answer itself is perfectly valid (you provide two good examples), but yesterday's clue for it was a bit dodgy.

    Alibis Ciao(s) Moas 12:19 AM  

    Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!!!

    I had fun trying to figure out what the hell the unifying theme would be!

    At YOYO and ESCALATOR, I suspected some sort of SLINKY tie-in...

    ANyway, I get why the ASSNS/ATE/ATA corner is disappointing, but it was precipitated by OAXACA which is one hecka piece of fill!


    Scrabble lesson #346:
    CIAOS not good in Scrabble.
    Spent all weekend thinking about things like that. One guy (who won the tournament) found SPELUNKER thru the first E and the K!!!!

    I'd ESPRIT to your petite liste.

    Anonymous 12:23 AM  

    So about 1 in 5 to 1 in 6 of the entries are stuff I would try to avoid on a Tuesday. That's not very good.

    Trying to justify the junk by stating that the entries are stacked is a poor argument; I don't care.

    But as always, I don't blame the constructor. At the end of the day, the editors are the people who decide what goes through and what doesn't. If editors will accept this, why would you try harder?

    Bill 12:28 AM  

    Is "inapt" really a word?
    Change in Russia is a Kopeck, NOT a ruble!
    Too Too equals pretentious?
    and can that lame organization CNN be at this point considered a rival to anything? (MSNBC perhaps)
    Seriously, worst puzzle ever.

    Joe The Juggler 12:30 AM  

    I remember seeing LANDSAT images in National Geographic. (Of course, my elementary school science books speculated that man would one day walk on the Moon. . . .)

    August West 12:30 AM  

    Never knew that Tabloid was a trademark. Now I do. Yippee. Never knew that TABLOIDBUZZ is a phrase. It's not. Really, it's not. Rex and Steve J covered most of the dreck. The NE is little better than the SE. ABAB, IATE , ANTZ. Ugh.

    It's's not good.

    Evan 12:38 AM  

    Happy birthday, Rex.

    TABLOID BUZZ was definitely strange. I could picture people saying or writing it, though I think among any buzz involving celebrities, OSCAR BUZZ is way, way more common.

    But the term that confused me more than anything is RAG MAN. Or is it one word? If it were one word, I suppose you could clue it as the short-lived Jewish superhero from DC Comics, but I doubt many solvers have heard of him. Then again, I've certainly never heard of the cloth scrap seller. Do people still use that term?

    Anyway, I thought the theme was okay, the fill less so (outside of SCOOBY DOO and IT'S A GO). I sorta wonder what the theme entries would have looked like if you built them around words which may (or may not) surprise you are still trademarked. ULTIMATE FRISBEE would be a great grid-spanner. Others include KLEENEX BOXES, VELCRO STRAPS, PING-PONG PADDLES as another 15-letter answer (and doubling as a direct line to Will Shortz's heart -- you're welcome, constructors). Granted, there's not much in the way of creative wordplay there either, but still, it's interesting that they're all still trademarked words.

    As @Steve J says, the two ATEs aren't good. I can never tell what's acceptable for a duplicate word. I've always stuck by the guideline that you shouldn't repeat any words, but if you really have to, make sure they're among the most common words you can say (like A, THE, IN, TO, etc) and that you don't repeat them more than once.

    Anonymous 12:38 AM  

    I don't consider ANTZ to be crosswordese. Number of A-List actors/actresses who played the voices in that film. Plus, it was well received both critically and at the box office, says Wikipedia

    Anonymous 12:42 AM  

    For natural resource managers such as myself, "Landsat" and "ecotone" were gimmes!

    August West 12:57 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    wreck 12:58 AM  

    Common (especially for a Tuesday)"trademarks" ought to be such things as "kleenix", "coke", or "jello."
    Who knew TABLOID, ESCALATOR, or maybe even GRANOLA are common generic trademarks.
    I saw that Will Shortz says he gets very few submittals for Monday and Tuesday puzzles -- it is apparent.

    August West 1:01 AM  

    Fair enough, 12:38. My beef isn't with ANTZ as a stand-alone. But wedged in between ABAB and IATE, all, I suppose, to get us to the *big themer* already well excoriated above, makes it seem as much an "ese" crutch as the equally....fine word ALIBI. It's a bad corner.

    Kristin 1:08 AM  

    Solved while sipping a Lagunitas (a california craft brew) at a bar. Have to remember to order SAMUEL Adams next time! Lol

    I actually liked learning what ECOTONE meant besides a TRADEMARK for something or other. Overall I liked it better than you Rex...sometimes I think you are getting jaded in this business. Oh, and happy own is the 28th, huh!

    retired_chemist 1:32 AM  

    As usual I liked it. Nothing much to slow me down. A few writeovers (DOpe=> DOdo, ice =>FLU, belize => OAXACA). Medium - challenging.

    Thanks, constructors.

    jae 1:34 AM  

    Medium for me.  Although between the French (47a seems like a late week clue) and the technical stuff... LANDSAT, might be tough for a novice solver. 

    Erasure: DOlt for DODO

    My first thought was TABLOID Fodder

    I'm voting with the majority so far.  

    acme 2:33 AM  

    My guess is the first -IATE was maybe clued as a suffix and changed to I ATE...
    or perhaps the SE corner was altered and something else became ATEIN.
    You really never know...
    (Well, actually, now with XWORD INC sometimes you do know!)
    But if not, two ATEs is definitely over-eating.

    I still liked the concept of the theme...

    chefwen 2:54 AM  

    I really wanted obits for 8D, that would have been cute for BYE LINES. I bit of a yawner and a little confusing re. the TRADEMARKS, I certainly didn't know those were trademarks, especially TABLOID and ESCALATOR. Oh well - on to Wednesday.

    Happy Birthday Michael, enjoy your cake.

    ESP 3:31 AM  

    It didn't help that the clue for the "revealer" here essentially told the solver what s/he was dealing with--it's hard to understand "intellectual property protection" as anything other than patents/trademarks.

    Would it have been un-Tuesday-ish to just clue it "What the starts of 17-, 21-, 39- and 57-Across once were"?

    Z 6:29 AM  

    Liked it more than the majority. TABLOID BUZZ may be a bit constructed, but BUZZ is definitely a current thing, and the website BUZZfeed strikes me as little more than recycled TABLOID BUZZ. Lots of BUZZ today is very metaTABLOID, i.e. tabloids reporting what's in the tabloids. So, if it's not a thing, it should be. Personally, I didn't realize it wasn't a thing until you all told me.

    Started at 47A today because the clue was at the top of the second column and screamed at me to fill it in. Built out from there with the only real hiccup being meXico off the X before OAXACA. Four vowels and an X, ya gotta luv it.

    So, LAO xwords have no POCs?

    Beer Rating - SAMUEL Adams' Boston Ale, of course.

    MetaRex 6:57 AM  

    74 words, 34 blocks, 55 theme squares, learning something from the theme...all nice.

    ESE by my count came in at 60 1/2...medium-(slightly) high. One reason the eseometer is not especially high even though unhappiness here about the fill is: Ya only have seven 3-letter words ESE ratings tend to bang puzzes w/ lots of 3-letter fill and be nice all else equal to those that avoid it. I'd stand up for that toughness on the 3-letter words...yep, the standard, ya don't even notice it 3-letter stuff like ESE, SSS, and SSN that ya don't have much of today is the price we all gotta pay for the cathedrals of CrossWorld, but it really truly does take a toll.

    As always ya can generate different ESE #s...I gave I ATE 2 1/2 (1/2 for 4-letter word, 1 for partial, 1 for esey-ness), but gave ATE IN 0. In retrospect, I'd have no prob w/ dinging ATE IN 1 for the ATE dupe, 1 for ESE, or 2 for both...didn't notice the dupe and didn't give ATE IN 1 as ESE...following my policy I've stuck to my original #s after reading the comments much as I readily acknowledge ya could (and for some of my #s no doubt should) see it differently.

    Anonymous 7:03 AM  

    Quite a few big smiles here:

    loved: scoobydoo, spock, Darla, Cokie
    double zz of buzz

    erasures: mexico for oaxaca

    for me: challenging, but fun

    Danp 7:03 AM  

    For Fox Rival, I wanted to put QVC. Since the theme was intellectual property, it would have been appropriate.

    Glimmerglass 7:27 AM  

    First of all, this was a challenging Tuesday puzzle, which is a very good thing in itself. It's true that the theme was not as well executed as it might have been. BUZZ was a poor choice, when TABLOID NEWS could have been made to fit very easily. Other, possibly better theme choices: Teflon Don, rum and Coke, Kleenex movie, bungee jump, etc. Some of the fill was very hard, but still fair and solvable with crosses (that's the point of a crossword puzzle, isn't it?). Never knew ESPRIT meant witty or that an ancient people once lived in OAXACA (don't you love to say waahaackah?).

    jberg 7:42 AM  

    Happy Birthday, @Rex! Mine was last week, so I'm old enough to remember when LANDSAT was a big deal; I wanted ECOTOmE though - or ECOcline, but that wouldn't fit. I also wanted TABLOID news and Adman. I also wanted brand names for TRADEMARKS, (helped by that AD man). Everything else came out OK.

    57A could have been clued "Cellist watching his weight," but I guess that would have spoiled the theme.

    What @Steve J said about INKS, but yeah, CIAOS.

    OldCarFudd 7:47 AM  

    Glimmerglass, this is the first I've ever heard that bungee was a trade mark. But the puzzle refers to words that started out as trademarks and became generic, like aspirin, or that people use as if they were generic, like kleenex. Bungee cords have been around for decades. Most of the glider flights in the '20s and '30s were launched from hilltops using huge elastic cords stretched taut by teams of strong young men; the tethered glider was released and shot into the air. The quarterly magazine of the Vintage Sailplane Association is called Bungee Cord. (Now, doesn't that make your day?)

    mac 7:54 AM  

    Happy birthday, Rex!
    Now to the puzzle.

    AliasZ 8:13 AM  

    I consider myself an inept solver for entering unapt, then inept, in place of INAPT.

    Last week every time IATE, I did not go to a restaurant but ATEIN instead, at my home INAPT.#4E.

    After the demolition crew was finished, I was searching through the RUBLE with my friend to find my favorite tabloid. "Don't be ADREP, let me have that RAG,MAN. I need a quick TABLOID BUZZ, ASAP!" It was a mess, but we said our CIAOS in the chaos and went our way, I with SCOOBY-DOO at my heels: TOO TOO Tootsie, good-bye.

    Who solves puzzles with a sharpie?

    Happy Birthday, Mr. Sharp!

    baja 8:14 AM  

    Esprit and escalator in the same puzzle. Almost L'esprit de escalier - almost. Thinking of the perfect retort too late. Describes me to a tee. Liked the puzzle and learned something interesting.

    Mohair Sam 8:18 AM  

    Wow! We thought this was a fun Tuesday, if a little on the easy side. Came here and found that most disagree with that assessment - and it is hard to quarrel with the grouches. Although I think it is getting into pick, pick, pick territory.

    Didn't know that TABLOID and ESCALATOR were trademarks, interesting. Didn't know about LAO's quirk either, and enjoyed the memory jog on DARLA, thank heaven OSIER filled.

    Yeah, we'll agree to disagree - it was a fun Tuesday puzzle.

    John Child 8:30 AM  

    @metarex There were 20 three-letter words yesterday. Did you score them the same as today?

    I agree wholeheartedly that yesterday's puzzle was far better than today's, but I was surprised that no one decried the fact that almost 30 percent oft eh puzzle yesterday was three-word fill.

    Loren Muse Smith 8:36 AM  

    I'm with @retired_chemist, @Z, and @Mohair Sam. So much of the fill had me staring off into space and thinking, which for me, is a great thing.

    TOO TOO. Hmm. Desmond's over-the-top ballet skirt.
    SCOOBY DOO'S TOO TOO FLU DO. (I'm just being waggish.)

    The Italians beat a hasty retreat, so all the CIAOS just bounced of their NAPES.

    I'm not as bad as I used to be, but I still fall off the wagon and grab a People or Us as I'm checking out, especially if it has any Real Housewives BUZZ. (Yes, my tv taste is that vapid. I like Million Dollar Listing, too.) Anyway, so I didn't even notice TABLOID BUZZ. That phrase works for me.

    I'm still not picky about theme tightness; I don't mind if there are countless other possibilities. I once ran an absolutely brilliant (right) theme idea by an established constructor, and he said it wouldn't work because there were too too many other possibilities. (Hi, Jeff.) I could certainly appreciate a tighter group with, say, things found in a bathroom closet - Q-tip, Kleenex, Band-Aid, Tylenol, Ace bandage, but today's group works for me, too. I'm with all those who didn't know GRANOLA, TABLOID, and ESCALATOR were brand names.

    PLED is slowly meeting its demise, going the way of swept, dreamt, shown. . .. I could very easily say, "He pleaded guilty".(@Punctuation Group – I'm testing the British waters.)

    @Z – I immediately thought about LAO crosswords, too, and what constructors do if they can't pluralize nouns. Wonder how you say CIAO or YEOW in LAO? (I think I would have called the language "Laotian".)

    I don't know - @Evan, when RAG MAN fell, I thought he could work for a TABLOID alongside the AD REP.

    Just this past Saturday, I pointed to several two-liter bottle of sodas (morning, @Steve J), nary a Coca Cola among them, and asked, "What about these Cokes"? "Coke" has long been a synonym in my speech for "soft drink". And I use a kleenex – never a tissue.

    Two pairs of the five themers have six stacked letters. That had to have been tough. Fine Tuesday workout, you DOS. Gracias!

    MikeM 8:41 AM  

    Did not like this puzzle at all and am surprised the NYTimes allowed it. TOOTOO? OAXACA? INAPT? TABLOID is a trademark? etc etc

    Anonymous 8:41 AM  

    INKS is a stupid complaint? When the hint is 'Pens' contents?' Let's compromise and say it was a stupid hint.

    Milford 8:41 AM  

    Pretty average for a Tuesday, just got a little hung up in the ECOTONE, OAXACA, RAGMAN area (I think I had beGgAr before RAGMAN, although that made little sense).

    ECOTONE is definitely a thing, but I have a biology background. It is also the title of a "Six Feet Under" episode, where a cougar is involved in the opening death.

    Really didn't flinch at TABLOID BUZZ, but I may be combining TABLOID fodder with media BUZZ. Or maybe it's a Michigan thing, @Z?

    I remember that Zhouqin Burnikel was the constructor that gave us the Chinese word origin puzzle - so this type of theme seems to be her TRADEMARK! Didn't know these former TRADEMARKS, except for YO-YO.

    Liked the clues for SANE, EDGAR, and STRIP.

    Going to go pick up my turkey from the farm, now. Have a happy, peaceful birthday, Rex!

    Geoff Ghitter 8:45 AM  

    You ought to get out of your literary world and try the natural world Rex. I've never been stirred to write before but as a geographer who has used LandSat satellite imagery to detect ecotones as a way safeguarding our environmental heritage, then I have to say Rex, there's more to the world than the big city.

    Carola 8:47 AM  

    I agree that the RATION of ESPRIT that I've learned to associate with Ms. Burnikel's byline was a little less today, but still I LIKED the puzzle. From GRANOLA through YOYO, I had no idea what was going to unite the theme answers, so the reveal was a nice surprise.

    The 17A-19A line sounded like something Yoda might say: "GRANOLA BAR I ATE."

    Unknown 8:53 AM  

    DOS for Buns? Dos as in Two, or Doctor of Osteopathy? Buns you eat, or one's posterior? ???

    I feel quite dense. Help, someone.

    Carola 8:57 AM  

    @Anne Meilof - Think of buns as hair-DOS.

    Bob Kerfuffle 8:58 AM  

    Happy Birthday, Rex!

    (@Anne Meilof - DOS as in hairdos.)

    joho 8:58 AM  

    Happy Birthday, @Rex!!!
    Post a picture of your cake if you can.

    YOYODIETING is the best theme answer for sure. SCOOBYDOO is BEAUTIFUL.

    I appreciate the idea but perhaps this puzzle should have stayed in the Easy-Bake Oven a little longer. (@Rex, cake pic, please!)

    Anonymous 9:01 AM  

    @Ann Meilof - Think hairDOS.

    Unknown 9:08 AM  

    Thanks x 3. Guess I should have seen that, but maybe not. (-:

    Z 9:34 AM  

    @Anne Meilof - I think we have all had those answers we just sit there and look at it and say WOE and then go "D'oh" when someone explains the perfectly obvious.

    @Milford - And @LMS can be an honorary Michigander.

    @LMS - Today's PLED after yesterday's PLEB made me wonder if anyone has ever done a consonant progression puzzle. Maybe we can recruit M&A to do it. Or maybe a puzzle with "obsolete" past participles?

    OISK 9:44 AM  

    Feel like I am the only one who hit a Natick at Oaxaca and ecotone, so a very rare DNF on a Tuesday! And not on pop culture, either. Otherwise, I pretty decent, reasonably challenging puzzle, though, as Rex observes, not anything like yesterday's lovely Monday.

    Ecotone and Oaxaca? On Tuesday? Really? I couldn't decide between ecotyne and ecotine - both wrong.

    @retired chemist - Thanks for remembering KKKKaty!

    quilter1 9:49 AM  

    Aww, kwitcher complaining. I found this to be very easy, no puzzling over the puzzle. No nits for me at all and the only write over was RUBel for RUBLE. Agree kopeck would have been more accurate. Enjoyed writing in SCOOBYDOO.

    I hope @Rex's cake is yellow with fudge frosting. And vanilla ice cream. Happy B-day.

    ArtO 9:50 AM  

    @aliasZ thanks for the laugh.

    Tough for a Tuesday - ECOTONE, LANDSAT - are not Tuesday stuff.

    Happy Birthday Rex.

    mac 10:06 AM  

    Easy-medium, distracted by my grocery shopping list for the turkey meal.

    I wondered about the granola bar, could it be changed to granola set? As in earth mothers and tree huggers?

    Too too was cute, Oaxaca doesn't belong in a Tuesday puzzle.

    Questinia 10:26 AM  

    Ecotone is the zone whence the DODO and MOA.

    @ Rex, Happy Birthday.

    ~ Questinia ®™

    Steve J 10:49 AM  

    @glimmerglass: I can find no evidence of "bungee" ever having been a TRADEMARK. The OED lists the origin of the word as "unknown" and appearing in the 1930s. For the other theme suggestions - Teflon, Coke, Kleenex - those are all still registered TRADEMARKS and thus would not fit the theme of words that formerly were TRADEMARKS but no longer are.

    Other stuff:

    Regarding RUBLE as change: The base unit of a currency can indeed be change. Especially when that base unit is distributed as a coin, as is the case with the RUBLE (the smallest note is 50 rubles; the 10 is being replaced with coins, if Wikipedia is accurate).

    Even if the base currency is a note, like in the US, it can still be considered change. If I buy something that costs $4, and I give the cashier a $5 bill, what do I get as change? A dollar.

    Long way of saying, RUBLE was fine as clued.

    Regarding the theme: I'll soften my criticism of it a bit based on reading through comments this morning, as apparently some of these weren't as widely known as TRADEMARKS as I thought. I still think it could have been livelier (and had more surprising examples; few people realize Heroin was once a trademark, and it would have been zippier had that been included), but the interest of discovery is there for a lot of people.

    MetaRex 11:20 AM  

    @John Child...Yep, there were lots of 3-letter words yesterday, and, yep, I scored them the same way under my (imperfect) system that I scored the ones today. The ESE scoring system is pretty simple, but at the same time there's definitely an element of subjectivity in it...the nitty skinny is here

    retired_chemist 11:23 AM  

    I think Steve J makes the correct point - the trademarks are ones that many of us did not recognize as trademarks, current or not. That rules out TEFLON, KLEENEX, JELL-O etc. IMO The idea of unexpectedness makes the reveal much less trivial that OFL thinks.

    chefbea 12:01 PM  

    Busy cooking for thanksgiving so no time to read all the comments

    @Rex Happy birthday

    gifcan 12:05 PM  

    DNF because of CELS.

    Whatever happened to the evil one? Evil Dave? Evil Doug? Can't remember.

    Lewis 12:13 PM  

    @Z -- liked the Lao comment

    @geoff -- write more often -- good comment!

    I liked the theme in that I wasn't aware that these terms were trademarked (maybe I knew yoyo... once). So I added to my knowledge base.

    I was thinking TABLOID BUZZ must be a term, sounds like it ought to be, but apparently no. Didn't know DANNO (It's a shame it wasn't DANNON, sitting right on top of GRANOLA, which would for me have been a 60s flashback). Or RAGMAN, which I guess could be a Scott Joplin descriptor.

    Then I saw DERMA next to STAIN, and DERMA STAIN was banging at my brain reminding me of something that sounded similar, and finally it hit me: BURMA SHAVE.

    Ellen S 12:22 PM  

    @gifcan: it was Evil Doug. He just disappeared. I miss him.

    I'm not sure I knew GRANOLA had been a trademark but what else could it be? YO-YO and ESCALATOR, yeah. TABLOID I didn't know had been trademarked. I searched on "Tabloid trademark" in Wikipedia and found an article about a Canadian news program (a pioneer of "Infotainment") that ran in the 1950s-60s called "Tabloid". They didn't have the trademark, though. A note says,
    "The programme was retitled Seven-O-One in 1960 after a drug manufacturer which held a trademark to its "Tabloid" product pressured the CBC to change the news show's name.[3] The last episode under the Tabloid name aired 9 September 1960.[10]"

    The footnote is just the name of a book on the early years of television. I suspect the show was called "Tabloid" because that was already the generic name of a newspaper format used by the cheap, popular newspapers. Not the name of a drug which I never heard of, or a drug format (like a "caplet"?) which I also never heard of.

    Whoa! it is a drug! "TABLOID" is a brand name of Thioguanine. It's made by Wellcome labs and used in treating acute nonlymphocytic leukemia. Fifty years ago? I'm not sure if I've learned something by this or wound up ignoranter...

    Darryl 12:35 PM  

    No, Evil Doug told us all we were to boring for him, that no matter how hard he tried, we were still too boring.

    For the first time in my life I understood the virtue of the "French Leave".

    Masked and Anonymo5Us 12:41 PM  

    1. C.C. has the LAT-Puz today, also.
    2. Had INePT and didn't know how to spell (hardly anything let alone) GRENOLA. See? Did it again.
    3. @Q: har. Me, I prefer to be copywronged.
    4. HUIT/CIAOS. ETRE+OAXACA. International flavor. SPOCK. Interstellar flavor.
    5. ASSNS: Way to finish on a deliciously desperate high note.
    6. Liked TABLOIDBUZZ, before most everyone here told me to dislike it. Peer pressure only makes M&A dig in his heels. thUmbsUp to the whole blaim puz.
    7. Birthday Buzz. Made a puz in honor of 4-Oh's 4-Oh-something-th birthday...

    prelim instructions: Make a 3x3 grid, numbered appropriately. Light it. Speed solve.
    1. Ooxteplernon, for instance
    4. Baba name?
    5. Happy birthday, dear ___
    1. Fishy example
    2. Birthday wish from Jose Jimenez
    3. Fort associated with the 509th?

    Phew. Sorry, as per yer request, @Z, U beautiful beast... this one took tootoo much outa me...


    lawprof 12:43 PM  

    I like to think of myself as fluent (well, maybe not fluent, exactly)in French. I can say "inky dinky parley voo," "ooh la lah," and "sacre bleu," which is sufficient to survive as a tourist. But I flunked today's French lesson. I had qUIT for HUIT, which gave me AQAB for Starbucks' (as opposed to Starbuck's, as the clue specified) boss, thinking the coffee shop chain might be owned by (oh,I don't know) the Association of Quality Arabian Blends...or something. Moby Dick never entered my consciousness (or lack thereof).

    When I couldn't conjugate "suis," I ended up with EzRE, which produced ECOzONE, which seemed appropriate to describe a botanic transitional area (the fact that "zone" appeared in the clue simply never registered).

    So, a DNF on a Tuesday? Ouch! On the other hand, it was an enjoyable journey toward humiliation. I liked the puzzle more than most of y'all. (I don't mean that I like y'all less than the puzzle; I mean I liked it more than y'all did...the puzzle, that is).

    Anonymous 1:09 PM  

    Regarding RUBLE as change: "Change" can be a slang word for money itself, as in "$2000 for that? That's a lot of change!"

    AliasZ 1:10 PM  

    Alexander Matveevich Poniatoff (Russian: Александр Матвеевич Понятов, 1892-1980) was a Russian-American electrical engineer. In 1944 he founded, the Ampex Corporation, using his initials, A.M.P., plus "ex" for "excellence" to create the name. Poniatoff served as president of Ampex until 1955 when he was elected chairman of the board. In 1956, engineers of Ampex created the world's first rotary head videotape recorder. The word videotape was trademarked by Ampex the same year.

    I wonder if Warner Wolf thought of that every time he said "Let's go to the videotape."

    Here is a fairly comprehensive list of past and present trademarks that have become generic due to their expiration, or have become genericized even though they are still legally protected.

    The most surprising one for me was realtor. "Often used by the public, the media, and even real estate agents to refer generally to any real estate agent, but the term is a legally recognized trademark of the National Association of Realtors. The terms 'Realtor' and 'Realtors' refer to members of this association, and not to real estate agents generally. The National Association of Realtors is engaged in ongoing efforts to prevent the mark from becoming generic. These efforts include, among other things, writing to members of the media to complain of improper usage, distribution of information and guidelines on correct usage, and the development of an educational video on the subject." -Wikipedia.

    And here is the educational National Association of Realtors trademark protection video.

    Good luck with that one.

    KarenSampsonHudson 1:41 PM  

    Have a wonderful birthday filled with the people and the pleasures you enjoy most!

    Z 1:55 PM  

    Hey @lawprof or other experts - regarding @AliasZ's post - I thought that once a trademark becomes generic the TM was essentially moot/unenforceable. So the whole "Is Pepsi ok?" thing is more a customer service thing than a legal requirement. Am I right or did I just make that up.

    @M&A - Well done. We haven't had an Ooxteplernon in ages and ages. I hear OOXTEPLERNON makes a great bumper sticker, though. The God of Three Letter Dreck has no peer except maybe the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    Z 2:08 PM  

    Correction: God of Bad Short Fill. I will now do 50 Hail Naticks as atonement. "I heart OOXTEPLERNON" is still the bumper sticker I want on my Jaguar XKE.

    Sandy K 2:22 PM  


    Thought LAND-SAT, ECOTONE, OAXACA, and HUIT were TOO TOO for a TOOsday. INAPT?

    Happy Birthday, Rex!

    LaneB 2:33 PM  

    Is this Tuesday? Felt more like a Friday, perhaps because it' two days before a Sunday-like holiday. . Anyway, I ended up with an erasure-filled grid primarily because of DARLA, TOOTOO, ITSAGO, FLU, OAXACA and YEEOW. The clue for ONTO stumped me; I didn't know MOA; I finally get SANE; I still don't get CELS and I only knew OSIER because I used it in one of my rejected constructions.
    I thought I'd have to receipt for a DNF but refused to give up and succeeded in avoiding one so early in the week.

    Just Joe 2:59 PM  

    Posted before as JustJoe but thought I'd try my google accoun this time - not sure what label I'll get.

    Didn't much care for this puzzle - I'm a magmic solver on iPhone so erasing and starting over is less painful. Had to do that in several places like Mexico for oaxaca. I too think tootoo is pretty lame for pretentious...and ecotone? Please spare us. Scoobydoo was my favorite. Theme wise, meh. On to Wednesday....

    @lms sour for me too. And yes there are too many excpetions and inconsistancies in our blesseed language that I too feel sorry for the esl crowd.

    sanfranman59 3:04 PM  

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

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

    Tue 9:07, 8:12, 1.11, 77%, Medium-Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Tue 5:56, 5:01, 1.18, 90%, Challenging

    lawprof 3:50 PM  

    @Z 1:55 pm: Don't know diddle about trademark law, but I checked with my daughter who is an Intellectual Property lawyer (primarily biotech patent prosecution).

    She tells me that trademark holders are required to aggressively enforce their marks in order to preserve legal protection. So if, for example, a company decides to manufacture and market "Smith's Kleenex," the holder of the Kleenex mark must take action to prevent the infringement. If the holder files a lawsuit against the alleged infringer to enjoin its use of the mark, the defendant may raise the affirmative defense that the mark has become generic by common usage in the commercial context.

    That's the reason that trademark holders commonly threaten to sue (or do sue) even small mom and pop enterprises that infringe their marks. I recall several years ago the high fashion jeans manufacturer Jordache sued two women who had started up a cottage industry making (shall we say) plus size jeans called Lardache. Jordache claimed trademark infringement. The general public might think, "Hey, can't they take a joke?" but Jordache risked abandoning its trademark if it didn't take action.

    That, in a nutshell, is how it works. Hope that helps.

    Jacqueline 4:02 PM  

    Happy Birthday Rex!

    Z 4:43 PM  

    @lawprof - Thanks. I now understand the reason Burger King sued Burrito King back in 1978. FWIW Burrito King was a very small, dingy, and greasy place in Holland MI. I always wondered why Burger King bothered.

    Anonymous 6:15 PM  

    What's a Darla?

    Bob Kerfuffle 7:00 PM  

    @Anonymous, 6:15 - The cast of the "Our Gang" comedies included

    George "Spanky" McFarland
    Scotty Beckett
    Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas
    Jerry Tucker
    Leonard Kibrick
    Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer
    Harold Switzer
    Darla Hood
    Eugene "Porky" Lee
    Patsy May
    Pete the Pup

    sanfranman59 10:03 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 6:29, 6:07, 1.06, 79%, Medium-Challenging
    Tue 9:06, 8:12, 1.11, 76%, Medium-Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 4:08, 3:46, 1.10, 85%, Challenging
    Tue 5:36, 5:01, 1.12, 79%, Medium-Challenging

    Anonymous 11:32 PM  

    Regarding tabloid, I think the trademark was meant to be TAB (as in the diet soda of old.

    Davis 11:51 PM  

    The term often used to describe the process of a trademark losing its distinctiveness and becoming a generic term is "genericide." I'm mainly just pointing that out because I think "genericide" is a fantastic word.

    Happy birthday, Rex!

    Nameless 11:46 AM  

    Um, INKS is a terrible answer AS CLUED.
    CIAOS is just terrible no matter how clued.
    ECOTONE is awful fill.

    Theme is OK.

    Happy Birthday Rex.

    Anonymous 7:18 PM  

    Thank you.

    spacecraft 10:03 AM  

    TABLOID a TRADEMARK? Who knew? Hey, getcha daily TABLOID! All the news that's unfit to print. Oh well, learn something new every day.

    I am NOT willing to "learn" that "Quick wit" can mean ESPRIT. That clue/answer was a big HUH?? for me. Liked SCOOBYDOO and BEAUTIFUL, not so much ABAB, AHAB in the same grid, and I/ATE/IN.

    Spotty effort; signs of brilliance alongside signs of what-the-hey-that's-good-enough. If you find yourself expressing that sentiment, maybe it's time to rethink things.

    Happy New Year, syndilanders!

    J.aussiegirl 11:29 AM  

    And a Happy New Year to you too, @spacecraft 10:03, and others out here.

    It was a surprise to see ESPRIT show up as an answer in the grid; I always expected it meant positive morale in the face of hardship, as in esprit de corps.

    I did not know the Samuel Adams found in a bar, so learned again that there is always something to learn.

    Heading out later this evening to toast in the new year with friends even though the forecast is for -50C or something similar.

    Solving in Seattle 12:10 PM  

    The Scoobmeister was not a shaggy dog. Don't like the clue.

    Quick wit = ESPIRIT?

    The clue for 32D didn't denote an answer with initials.

    I don't know if any of the other posters answered Rex's question about ESCALATORCLAUSEs, but they're a common contractual method of insuring timely completion of construction. Get it done when you say you can or the clause kicks in. Conversely, finish ahead of schedule and get a bonus.

    53A was a good head fake.

    Happy New Year Syndylanders all.

    Since when are the capchas your social security number?

    DMG 2:33 PM  

    Enjoyed this one. Some fun words (SCOOBYDOO), and a little bit of learning (LAO has no singular forms) add up to a nice Tuesday.

    @Evan. You make me realize my age! When I was a little girl growing up in San Francisco, preWWII, the RAGMAN regularly came down the streets with his horse-pulled green wagon calling "Rags, bottles, and papers". The original recycler??

    Happy New Year All-stay safe!

    rain forest 5:25 PM  

    Belated Happy Birthday to Rex--hope you had a good day despite your feelings about the puzzle.

    Happy New Year to syndipeeps. I will have copious amounts of champers this evening--got a DD along.

    So Lao has no plurals, yet the country is named Laos. I have noticed, though, that people who have been there always call it Lao (no 's').

    There were flashes of cleverness in this one, and I couldn't really get worked up about some of the fill that bothered others, PLUS learning that ESCALATOR and TABLOID are/were trademarks was nice.

    Discussion about intellectual property protection reminds me of the lawsuit that Starbucks launched against a little cafe in Yorkton Saskatchewan, owned by Bob and Lil Starbuck, and which they called, naturally, Starbuck's Cafe. I guess I now understand why they sued, but I find it sort of...sad.

    Dirigonzo 5:53 PM  

    I liked it and I managed to avoid finishing with OWS by resisting the temptation to change ECOTONE to ECOzONE, which I really, really wanted but I knew ETRE could not possibly be wrong (thanks again to my French I teacher, Miss Baker).

    I bought a wireless outdoor thermometer as a New Year's gift to myself - I'm already starting to regret it. But at least it's not reading -50 as is forecast for @J. aussiegirl.

    Happy New Year Syndi-neighbors. If the skies are clear in your part of the world Thursday night/Friday morning check out the Quadrantid meteor shower that peaks then.

    Ginger 8:45 PM  

    Tough Tough workout. Played like a Friday. Liked most of it more than OFL, but there seemed to be an overabundance of WOE and WTF. The clue for ESPRIT is a stretch. I like TABLOIDBUZZ, and ESCALATORCLAUSE, but I don't think they're fair on Tuesday.

    SAMUELadams beer is delicious when it's on tap, but in the bottle I find it undrinkable.

    Happy New Year, syndifriends, Hope 2014 treats you well!

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