Singer who's subject of Carl Perkins's Whole World Misses You / WED 4-30-14 / Lira spenders / Flying cloud of autodom / Post-Trojan War epic / Rx-dispensing chain / Fierce working-class domestic goddess of sitcom / Ewers mates

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: MAC VS. PC (37A: Epic battle in technology … or a hint to four crossings in this puzzle) — MAC crosses PC four times

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: ARILS (38D: Seed covers) —
An aril (or arillus) is any specialized outgrowth from the funiculus (attachment point of the seed) (orhilum) that covers or is attached to the seed. It is sometimes applied to any appendage or thickening of the seed coat in flowering plants, such as the edible parts of the mangosteen and pomegranatefruit, the mace of the nutmeg seed, or the hairs of a cotton plant. The aril is an edible enticement, encouraging transport by animals and thereby assisting in seed dispersal. Pseudarils are aril-like structures commonly found on the pyrenes of Burseraceae species – the fleshy, edible pericarp splits neatly in two halves, then falling away or being eaten to reveal a brightly coloured pseudaril around the black seed.
The aril may create a fruit-like structure (called a false-fruit). False fruit are found in numerous Angiosperm taxa. The edible flesh of the longanlycheeackee and lleuque fruits are highly developed arils surrounding the seed rather than a pericarp layer. Such arils are also found in a few species of gymnosperms, notably the yews and related conifers. Instead of the woody cone typical of most gymnosperms, the reproductive structure of the yew consists of a single seed that becomes surrounded by a fleshy, cup-like covering. This covering is derived from a highly modified cone scale. (wikipedia)
• • •

An interesting revealer, but the theme as a whole seems like it sets a pretty low bar. How hard (let alone interesting) is it to cross those two particular letters strings? Since there is no real theme material (i.e. none of the longer answers actually relate to the computer wars), and since the answers are all pretty blah, *and* the puzzle is easy, there wasn't much interest *outside* the revealer. It's like an easy themeless, but none of the answers are really zingy enough to hold up a themeless. So conceptually this one works just fine—it just didn't have much entertainment value for me.

The revealer was not just the most interesting thing about the grid—it was probably the hardest. I wanted some kind of -WAR or -WARS and needed many crosses to see what was happening. Most of the rest of the grid involved me filling in answers as fast as I could read clues, though with some notable / odd exceptions. In what I imagine was an attempt to toughen up a remarkably easy puzzle, some of the clues seemed vague / tenuous. I realize that "pulls out" and "OPTS out" amount to roughly the same thing, but "Pulls" and "OPTS" have nothing to do with each other, so even though that was just three letters and pretty easy in retrospect, I tripped a bit there (9A: Pulls (out)). Doggie bag is such a generic term for the food you bring home after dining out that the only reason I got BONE (26D: Doggie bag item) was the totally non-doggie-bag connection between "dog" and "bone." I wanted "leftovers," but obviously that wasn't going to work. SLED was another that just baffled me (66A: Large item in Santa's bag, maybe). Seemed an arbitrary thing for Santa to have in his sled, beyond the fact that Christmas happens in winter. May as well have had a bicycle or a tuba in there. Then there was the ELVIS clue, which meant nothing to me (63A: Singer who's the subject of Carl Perkins's "The Whole World Misses You"). In general, this puzzle had a remarkably old-timey frame-of-reference. ELVIS / Perkins, Muddy Waters, Sophia LOREN *and* ANOUK Aimée, Miles O'SHEA, Ogden Nash … CAAN and BARR, despite coming to fame decades ago, look fresh by comparison. Variety of reference is good; PALIN and "The Sopranos" aren't quite enough to counterbalance today's nostalgic onslaught.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


evil doug 7:48 AM  

That pulling out thing? Doesn't work, kids....


wreck 7:57 AM  

It was easier than Tuesday and not much harder than Monday for me. I finished so fast, I did not see the theme until afterwards. On reflection, it was better than I originally thought!

Burghman 8:01 AM  

Anouk and Skosh was my Natick. Can never remember if it's "scosh" of "skosh". Spell check hates either of them. Also had "IBMVSPC" for awhile, despite working in IT for decades - grrrrr.

mac 8:01 AM  

OK puzzle, but easy for a Wednesday and a little blah.

Unknown 8:06 AM  

Oof. Medium-challenging here. 46 minutes, many, many wrong turns. SE was nearly impossible as I had mARe for [Be a nag]. Then CARe then finally CARP. [Close one] was end, then eke then _AL for 10 minutes before CARP settled things. I resorted to AREA for [Field] but not before considering sports verbs for Field, eg play. I don't know REO. plum was my purple berry to start. Easy????

Elsewhere MAnVSPC was my theme, perhaps thinking personally on that one, giving me nANI for [Ple-ease] . Had it been nANa, I would have gone with it.

What's ASRED? OSHEA for [Milo of Ulysses] is the kind of leap you guys always fault me for. Aimee ANOUK? Who???? Wacky! Crosses made them possible. But they weren't gettable by themselves.

Mate and MEet before MESH for [Fit nicely]. I dug out MACAWS, LOREN and ELVIS from patterns and general sussing. You can imagine I expected the worst when I submitted, but no. 3rd non-DNF in a row. Tying my record! :)

jberg 8:09 AM  

I'm trying to tie @mac's comment into the theme, but it's too PC to make fun of.

I liked this theme more than @Rex, and in particular liked that the theme answers themselves had nothing to do with computers (although I suppose we've all wanted to give a computer a couple of SMACKS at times). Didn't much like ARIL, but it's a step up from eels.

What I learned: SKOSH, a word I've never heard. Is it a "wee bit" for a drill, or something like a smidgen?

Mohair Sam 8:09 AM  

Easy-medium here. And Liked it a lot. Simple theme but clever, with a fun revealer clue.

SKOSH a new word here.

Know nothing about Carl Perkins except he's country - but a there could be only one five letter answer to that clue - strange gimme.

In my world a SLED is about as basic a Christmas gift as you'll ever see. I don't know where Rex is coming from with his comment.

Yeah, fun Wednesday - if maybe a little to easy.

Evan 8:10 AM  

Disagreed with Rex in that I thought some of the answers outside of MAC VS. PC are good ones and would hold up well in a themeless, like STRIP CLUB, POP CULTURE, TRUMP CARD, and LIP BALM. Maybe they wouldn't necessarily be seed entries like MAC VS. PC, but those are all nice phrases to use.

Having said that, I did think it was pretty easy for a Wednesday, and while I thought the theme was cute, I wasn't quite sure how the "vs." element meant intersecting the two strings. I get that the strings cross in a consistent pattern, and I'm familiar with the "battle" in question, but I don't see how crossing MAC and PC make them in conflict with each other. I suppose the strings are sorta against one other. I dunno -- maybe I'm unclear how one visually represents X vs. Y in a puzzle just by crossing them at one letter.

But that's picking nits. I thought the puzzle was pretty good and for the most part clean -- couldn't understand why the clue for AS RED has a question mark, though.

Anonymous 8:10 AM  

Didn't doggie bags originate as containers to take home steak bones for dogs?

Anyway, very little about this puzzle was "easy" for me. But "bone," I got right away :)

Mohair Sam 8:10 AM  

Ooops - too

Moly Shu 8:13 AM  

Super easy for a Wednesday. I finished in just under 9 minutes, which was 19 minutes faster than yesterday's adventure. Couldn't get the theme mid-solve, so I searched it out upon completion. Very cool, how do people come up with these ideas?? Some really good fill, DROLL, ITUNES, LIPBALM, and of course my personal favorite, STRIPCLUB. These more than made up for ETA, ERAS, REO and my personal least favorite, ACR (ugh).

Very much liked it. Keep them coming @Zhouqin

Z 8:15 AM  

Easy themeless. Spent about 13 seconds wondering what STRIP CLUB and SHARP CURVE had to do with the computer wars. Never noticed the intersecting thing. Cute.

Hey, I finally remembered ANOUK Aimée. Only took four of the crosses this time. Maybe the next time she appears I will get her with only three of the crosses.

Speaking of PALIN, it is good to see that mainstream Christians are finally starting to denounce the extremists in their midst.

LOREN on ELVIS, that would be some interesting hip action...

joho 8:16 AM  

Wow, I cannot disagree with @Rex more! I found the theme very creative and timely especially with how Windows is suddenly everywhere. I really enjoyed the MAC/PC trick sprinkled through the grid.


Very nice seeing BRUCE beside BATMAN and RDAS next to CVS.

I even liked the nostalgic ARILS!

Thank you, Zhouquin!!

Loren Muse Smith 8:17 AM  

I've reached the point where I smile when I see that it's a CC puzzle. It is so hard to think of themes and their execution in my native tongue that I honestly am in awe (and I don't throw that word around a lot) of someone who constructs in a second language. My hat's off to you, Zhouqin!

Fun to have MAC and PC cross. Themes like this seem to be the quintessential theme idea of, well, of a cross-word puzzle. Cool.

How 'bout ITUNES in the grid? And maybe early on the score in this battle was ONE ALL? I dunno. My daughter swears by her MAC. And since for the life of me I cannot figure out how to sync my iPhone to my PC so I can print out my iPhone calendar. . . well heck.

I don't really understand the word DROLL. For me, it feels like it describes some kind of humor that is, sniff sniff, beneath me – something that has to be tolerated with a secret "I'm superior but I'll smile anyway" air. I just looked it up, and I think I'm dead wrong on this feeling. Still, for me, if you call me DROLL, I'll feel a skosh pedestrian and tolerated.

Here's another one I don't understand: ARIL (even looking at Rex' Wikipedia article). I'll just say this – if that salty cover of the sunflower seed is an ARIL, then I'm an ARILvore and have been my whole life. Pop that baby in whole, chew, swallow. Repeat.

Weird – look at the ninth row across. I had a dream last night that I was actually talking to Will, throwing out word ladder ideas, and he was giving feedback and I just felt so lucky. So that row is kind of a word-laddery add a letter anagram builder. For lack of a better descriptor.

EAR. Add an S and rearrange for
ERAS. Add a D and rearrange for
AS RED. Done
(This is what happens when Rex posts later and I just sit waiting, staring at the grid and refusing to look at Chen or Fiend.)

Nags CARP. Hmm. Cats bat. Meerkats duck. Groundhogs rabbit. Terriers buffalo. Schnauzers yak. Pigs goose. This line of thought will keep me occupied all day.

Nice puzzle, CC! Always a pleasure.

Dorothy Biggs 8:19 AM  

Muddy Waters' music is not BLUESY, it is the actual blues. Just a point of clarification there.

Add NEWHART to the old timey feel.

Doggie bags have indeed come to mean taking leftovers home, but having grown up in Nebraska, in the heart of steak country, a doggie bag very often included a BONE.

joho 8:21 AM  

Anybody else have trouble with CAPTCHA today? Took me forever to get it to work.

I also forgot to mention the shout out to LOREN.

Danp 8:25 AM  

I can totally dig that a sled is part of Daddio Red Cheeks' bag. Probably looked like a Flying Cloud, though.

Z 8:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moly Shu 8:28 AM  

@CascoKid, think AS RED as a beet. I guess a beet is redder than other veggies. They seem purpler to me.

Z 8:33 AM  

@Casco Kid - You'll be red as a beet when it comes to you. I like your maRe answer for that clue. Maybe this Saturday.

SKOSH is associated with liquor to me. "Just a SKOSH more, please" might be said to the wedding reception bar keep.

Ford had risen to the top of the heap in car quality. Then they added an onboard driver computer system designed by Microsoft. The bugginess and user-unfriendliness of said system sent their quality ratings from the top to the bottom, from whence Ford is yet to recover. I don't know what it is about the two companies, but this little cautionary tale was all too predictable.

@lms - When I think of DROLL I think of The Bob Newhart Show. Any show that spawns a drinking game (take a drink every time someone says "Hi Bob" - be sure to call a taxi to get home) is okay in my book.

Unknown 8:37 AM  

I liked the felt like it came together nicely. I Naticked at ANOUK/SKOSH. I use the word SKOSH frequently, but have never had to put it in writing. It looks weird.

We always get a doggie bag for BONEs.

Our Airstream trailer's model is called a Flying Cloud...I had never heard of the REO version.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:48 AM  

Nice puzzle.

One write-over, 9 D, ONE-ONE before ONE ALL.

Benko 8:54 AM  

@LMS: Every time I've heard the word "DROLL" used aloud, it's been in this context:
A person tells a joke or makes a quip.
Another person doesn't find it funny. In a haughty voice, they say, "How droll."
This is probably why you feel that way.

chefbea 9:11 AM  

Easy fun puzzle. Didn't see the mac/pc crossings until I finished. Of course liked as red as my favorite tuber.
Also the shout out to @Loren and 5 shout outs to @Mac!!!

there's no captcha!!!

now there is

RnRGhost57 9:20 AM  

A fun puzzle but have never heard of SKOSH.

duaneu 9:23 AM  

NEWHART was actually somewhat timely, with the Season 3 DVD just being released yesterday. And Bob Newhart is making a guest appearance on Big Bang Theory tomorrow night.

Sir Hillary 9:25 AM  

Liked this one a lot, especially how the revealer was truly that -- my only means of seeing the theme. No clue on whether MAC crossing PC four times is a difficult feat of construction, but it sure makes for a nifty package.

I let out an audible "boo" at ASRED, but other than that, the fill was fine.

Only one writeover -- same one as @Bob Kerfuffle.

Solid Wednesday.

Arlene 9:27 AM  

This one was quick and easy, which is fine with me for a Wednesday. I started with the fill-in BRUCE Wayne, which led to BATMAN. And it was smooth sailing from there.

Never heard of SKOSH before.

And ITUNES definitely balanced the generational astronaut hysteria of a few days ago.

Ben D. 9:27 AM  

How about the misdirect theme about card suits??


I was looking for a DIAMOND!!! Or a misspelling of "diamond" anyway. And I guess I just assumed that "trump" was a stand-in for spade.

I was down this road until I figured out the true theme....

Ben D. 9:28 AM  

Perhaps the theme as originally submitted was about card suits.

Ludyjynn 9:39 AM  

Another puzzle where the secondary theme was more interesting to me than the primary. POPCULTURE had: ANOUK, BARR, NEWHART, OSHEA, CAAN, NIA, LOREN, ELVIS,SUMAC, AENEID, BATMAN,MILES and OSCAR. And that's not counting Palin and Trump, which are Subcultural, IMHO. Or ONEAL(L).

Very clever, ZB and WS. Nice, easy mid-week jaunt.

voiceofsocietyman 9:40 AM  

I mostly agree with you, Rex, except that I found the puzzle mostly entertaining (for the 15 mins it took me -- so it must have been pretty easy for a Weds, because I'm not that good at these things).

I noticed the theme towards the end, so that helped me with a few of the clues, and I appreciate when that happens. I loved SKOSH but hated some of the obscure, outdated words and wasn't thrilled with many of the clues (like Pulls= OPTS). So it did feel like a Tuesday puzzle that was edited for a Wednesday inclusion. Yeah, not perfect, but definitely enjoyable.

OISK 9:49 AM  

MUCH easier than yesterday's. I enjoyed it, and didn't see the theme until I was done. That added a little more joy to the experience. I frequently complain about pop culture in the puzzles, and this one was absolutely loaded with it. Nevertheless, liked the puzzle very much. I guess the key is that I don't mind pop culture as long as it is MY pop culture! (although I never watched any show with Ms. Barr…) I love Ogden Nash, but never thought of his work as particularly "droll." I am also always tempted to spell it "drole"

Carola 9:59 AM  

I'm with @Rex on this one.

Unknown 10:05 AM  

Hey Rex what's wrong with nostalgia. At least us old farts saw some pop references we could recognize!

quilter1 10:17 AM  

Quick and easy for me. Knew all the old stuff. It was OK.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

@NCA President...the clue for 47 is "Like Muddy Waters's music," so it is music like what MW plays that is being referenced as bluesy, not MW's own music.

retired_chemist 10:31 AM  

SKOSH is an Anglicization of the Japanese sukoshi, meaning a small amount (of something). Came AFAIK from the American occupation of Japan after WW II.

Easy-medium puzzle. Did not notice the MACs and PCs crossed and did not notice the theme at all until the reveal. So, meh for the theme.

Gave up on SUMAC for a while to try sloe for 56A. That didn't last long.

Overall pretty good fill and on target for a Wednesday. Thanks, Ms. Burnikel

GILL I. 10:31 AM  

I remember when my husband bought the first Mac OS. It cost something like $2500. It was such a fun novelty and all of my friends would come over to give her a try. I played solitaire on it for hours. I still hear "Be sure to Apple save!"
I thought this was a cute puzzle and not boring ATOLL. My last entry was MAC VS PC; head bonk, then back to look for all those crossings.
Not only do I not know what dispositive is but I can't spell AENEID either. Got it thanks to LOREN and ELVIS (quite the pair don't you think?)
Thanks easy puzzle.

Malsdemare 10:40 AM  

@evildoug. OPTing out would work, though.

I liked the puzzle. I never spell Aeneid coreectly first time out so even though I really wanted LOREN, I had a fight in the SW for a while. Otherwise, just enough zip to make my brain work a little to succeed.

Malsdemare 10:42 AM  

Yikes! Correctly.

Jisvan 11:05 AM  

Magic no- google week continues-- hi Casco Kid! This one was easy for me, got the revealer, but still didn't see how PC was versus MAC until I came here, and it was a loooong wait! (What's up Rex, do you have a life or something?) Then doh, of course, literally crossing! Liked the shout out to the TURKS, most of whom are in ASIA, and want to be in the EU. Just watched PM Erogan on Charlie Rose, explaining why he had to shut down Twitter, for allowing people to insult him, and for not paying taxes in Turkey. I wonder which was the strongest motivation? Like this puzzle, guessed it was a woman constructor, and one I hope will return soon.

jae 11:08 AM  

Liked this much more than Rex did.  Easy for me,  light on dreck with a fun/clever theme. 

How about the LL mini...ONE ALL, ON CALL, ATOLL.

SKOSH is a fine word.

And,  I got 14 on Z's quiz link yesterday, but I wrote a manual on how to write multiple-choice questions a while back including dos and don'ts.  Folks who don't quite know what they are doing will often include choices like "all the above" and "a and c" which are almost always the correct answer as they were in yesterday's quiz...i.e gimmes for the test savvy even if you don't know the definition.

jae 11:12 AM  

I thought sure Rex would have a pic of the Hodgman Long commercial.

Benko 11:13 AM  

I usually hate it when people mourn dead celebrities, but Bob Hoskins was a great actor. Got to see him live on the West End stage a few years back. My wife wanted to see a West End play, so I said, "Let's see the one with Bob Hoskins in it!!" We just found our tickets to the play the other day and talked about how it was cool to see him in person.

okanaganer 11:23 AM  

Didn't anyone else have HARP for 57D (Be a nag)? I have never heard of ACAI so I finished with an error.

tensace 11:51 AM  

Must be old. SKOSH was a gimme. I remember the Levi ad campaign - though I couldn't recall if was SCOSH or SKOSH:

On Friday, October 23, 1981, a U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for WITH A SKOSH MORE ROOM. by Levi Strauss & Co., San Francisco, CA 94106. The USPTO has given the WITH A SKOSH MORE ROOM. trademark serial number of 73333822

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

Lousy clues. Just LOUSY.

jdv 12:04 PM  

Easy. Smooth sailing. Briefly had MAYI before CANI. It was odd seeing CVS cross maCVSpc in the center of the puzzle.

Masked and Anineofem 12:16 PM  

Veeeerrry interesting...
The PC always is in the longer theme-hider, the MAC always lurks in the shorty answer. Surely there's something long with a -MAC- in it. The MAC and PC do each have two down answers and two acr answers, so that's cool.

Nine U's. hmmmm... End-O-discussion, dude.
Great WedPuz, C.C. QED. U know what I like. Need to keep dis positive. Stay ata vistic level, if U will.

So merely for completeness, let us embark on the search for what woulda been the perfect Big MAC entry...

* MACHINEGUN. I hear some states will soon let you bring these into bars. Well, hey -- what could possibly go wrong, there?
* ALABAMA CAVALRY. I hear they will soon get to carry machine guns and whiskey flasks. Well, hey -- ...
* MACKINAC ISLAND. Pretty, pretty place. No CARs. May be a few ACRs.
[5,238 MAC-entries later]

Hey... wait a minute. I got an idea. Maybe the problem is actually findin **short** -PC- entries. On the wrong path again, M&A breath. sigh...

* EPCOT. (yo, @Benko)
* ASPCA. Or SPCA ( the front A is silent).
* PCBS. For all U benzene ring fans.
* UNPC. Same as MAC, sorta.

Man, look at that little mangy menagerie. har. Runtpuz gold.


Anonymous 12:24 PM  

Milo O'Shea, not "Miles"

Lewis 12:29 PM  

When a theme is special, it to me is like a special event -- because it doesn't happen that often. Usually the themes are pretty workmanlike, as today's was, so I'm not complaining. The puzzle felt high quality to me, with some interesting answers, like PARSE and DROLL. There was some grid gruel as well, but overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the solve.

gifcan 12:35 PM  

First time I timed a Wednesday puzzle and I came in around the 24minute mark. At least now I have something to beat.

@LMS - I noticed the EAR to ASRED evolution, as well. The interesting things you can see when you stare long enough.

Our old friend ARILS returned for a final appearance (not) and the pairing of INNIE AENEID made its debut.

I was sure I had a DNF with my guess at SKOSH. I'll have to use it three times in a sentence today to log it in my brain.

My granddaughter has a skosh of Oshkosh in her wardrobe. One.

lawprof 12:41 PM  

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday's challenging for Rex was easy for me; today's easy for Rex was my challenging.

I was slowed down out of the box when I dropped in MEld at 1D, which held up the entire NW. On the other coast, ONEone (9D) crossing neat (25A) had the same effect.

Took the longest time to suss out the revealer. Part of the problem was that I wanted to abbreviate "versus" as "v." rather than "vs." Was thinking MAn v. ape? Sunk deeper into the quicksand when I dropped in STRAw (21D), thinking that one might grab a handful at a Subway restaurant. That produced MAC v. SwC (Mid-Atlantic Conference versus Southwest Conference??).

Not done yet: sloe for ACAI (56A) took forever to resolve in SE.

But a few headslaps later it all settled nicely into place. Had to hunt for the four intersecting theme answers after I'd completed the grid, made harder because they were only roughly symmetrical.

I was shocked, @loren, to learn that you chew up your sunflower seeds and swallow them whole. You need to speak to a professional baseball player; the correct technique is to toss a few (maybe 5 or 6) into your mouth, suck out the salt, shuck them one by one (using only your mouth) and then spit out the shells before chewing up and swallowing the seeds. After a game a baseball dugout floor is a disgusting mix of sunflower seed shells and tobacco juice. Thought you'd like to know for next time.

Milo and Tock 12:48 PM  

@Anon12:24 - MILES is the answer to "Marathon markers" and O'SHEA the answer to "Milo of 'Ulysses.'" No Miles O'Sheas were harmed in the writing of this comment.

Z 1:14 PM  

My OED Birthday word is "bouffy." I am not pleased.

Fred Romagnolo 1:37 PM  

@okanaganer: I also HARPED. I also ONE-ONEed. STRAW instead of STRAP threw me for a bit. We referenced the Aeneid a few days ago with DIDO. Ditto on avoiding Roseanne Barr: concentrated bad taste. Newhart's earlier show, when he was the psychologist, was even funnier. Agreed that OPTS was badly cued. I agree with Rex, most doggiebag items are any kind of leftovers, but I can see that the term probably meant bones at the start.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:40 PM  

@Z - Okay, I'll bite. Let's see . . . .

My word is "orbit", used as a verb.

But hold on, OED! What do you mean birthday word? What I got was a birthyearword!

M and Also 1:40 PM  

@Z: Happy B-Day, zude.

Ain't no "bouffy" in my dictionary. But when GI-in over in Nam, we would always shipp home these huge porcelain elephants to friends and family in the real world. Cost about five bucks, and stood maybe two feet tall. The official army term for one was a "BUFE" (pronounced "boofy"). Stood for "Big Ugly F-*beep*-in Elephant.

Hope this wonderful day pleases you a bufe and a peck. This runtpuz is fer ZU...


Bob Kerfuffle 1:54 PM  

@M&A - The runtpuz was for ZU, but I tried it anyway. 4:59. I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.

ARBAON 2:35 PM  

It got accepted by NYT editors and was written by a former Pinkerton Agent. All you nay-sayers better warch it!

Benko 2:59 PM  

@M&A: Yo.
About a minute on a half on that one due to mistaken "artiste" for 8 across, which made a different combination for 7 down. Realized that it wouldn't make a sensible 6 down even in M&A's world.
Favorite clues: 5 down and 11across. Classic M&A clue: 7 down.

Danp 3:44 PM  

M&A - Fun Puzzle. Took me a while to figure out who Parker was, though. Out of sight, out of mind?

sanfranman59 4:30 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 8:40, 9:54, 0.88, 23%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:40, 6:11, 0.92, 27%, Easy-Medium

ksquare 4:42 PM  

Like lawprof 12:41 I also had straW for 21D, associating it with the sandwich shop, but the cross didn't look right. The P in straP then brought back memories of the old subway cars in NY where standing STRAPHANGERS hung on to leather straps to avoid falling when the cars started or stopped too rapidly. The straps disappeared after WW2 as new cars replaced the ancient ones. Now there is only a long metal bar to hold.

Hartley70 5:09 PM  

I too had harp for carp, and I spent a bit of time trying to use Patsy or Cline instead of Elvis. Otherwise an easy Wednesday for 11 minutes.

art mugalian 7:25 PM  

I bet you can find a Norman Rockwell illustration with a sled sticking out of Santa's bag.

LaneB 7:43 PM  

Plodded thru but did finish with no errors. Made my day.

chefbea 8:37 PM  

@art mugalian Did you see that on Jeopardy?? There was a Norman Rockwell category!!!

Anonymous 8:52 PM  

Still don't get REPRO and completely missed the crossing MACs until reading the blog (though the PC part helped on a couple).

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 5:47, 6:04, 0.95, 29%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:20, 8:32, 1.09, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 8:41, 9:54, 0.88, 23%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:41, 3:55, 0.94, 18%, Easy
Tue 5:52, 5:11, 1.13, 82%, Challenging
Wed 5:35, 6:11, 0.90, 25%, Easy-Medium

Sfingi 11:23 PM  

Very easy, though I never used the big hint. Must be the oldster content. Funny picture for ARILS(Darryls).

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

It is a Portuguese word for the palm tree fruit. It should be açaí! But no accents or anything like the squiggle below,the c letter in cross wordese.

spacecraft 11:24 AM  

MACAWS may be the theme crossing for STRIPCLUB--but I like BARR better. 'Course, here in Vegas a strip club is any club located on the Strip; those others are called "Gentlemen's clubs." As if.

Yeah, not too demanding a theme, but a bit of a different take, in that the theme halves T-BONE each other as opposed to hiding within one long answer. I liked the old-timey feel, the proliferation of twin entries which almost becomes a secondary theme all its own, and the interesting fill.

SKOSH is a word I've heard but not seen in print; I somehow always imagined it was spelled SCOCHE. I dunno; seems to me the Frenchy spelling makes it look more...petite, like the meaning. SKOSH seems like the name of a "World's Strongest Man" contestant. NOT little.

[OK, now it's SKOSH's turn. To make the finals, he has to turn over that 500-lb. truck tire seven times in thirty seconds. And--he's on his way! One...two--oh, no! He's dropped it! Two...three--only twelve seconds left! He's gotta hurry...there's four...five...six--time's running out! It's up--nope! Man, that was close! He missed it by just a...well, you know.]

Keep on keepin' on, ZB. As Kojak would've said: "Who loves ya!"

Despite eight digits to work with, all I have is a baby straight, 6 high.

Waxy in Montreal 11:58 AM  

Had MIA for NIA at 36A and BAR for EAR at 41A putting a BOMB rather than a BONE in my doggie bag - figured it must be a weird POPCULTURE reference as part of a MOB/BODY/SMACKS/Sopranos mini-theme and left it at that.

Otherwise easy-peasey even for a Wednesday.

4 deuces.

Waxy in Montreal 12:00 PM  

Could add CAAN to my mini-theme.

Connie in Seattle 12:52 PM  

Were they made in Oshkosh?

rain forest 1:25 PM  

Thanks, @ret chem, for the explanation of SKOSH. Funny. My Dad was a navy man and used to say "skoshi bit" all the time, and I never knew where it came from. He also said "pusser" and "tiddly" and "diddy box", and other, er, naval terms. Miss him.

Kind of a neat puzzle today. I went through it very quickly, for me, didn't hesitate at the MACVSPC revealer, and realized that PC and MAC could only cross at the C, so it was helpful in two cases. Impressive for one working in a second language.

I cannot make out the captcha. I'll see if I can get some numbers to challenge that straight. Damn. No dice.

DMG 1:46 PM  

Never got the theme, so I stared at my finished puzzle thinking MACVSPC must be the acronym of some computer game or other! Huge head slap here!

Learned SKOSH, and the related skoshi, when I lived on base in Japan. That's where I also learned the useful "nookie" which has no equivalent that I know of in English. Not what you guys may think. It means that little tool used to open beer cans in the olden days before pop tops. Gad! Just realized its been more than a half century since my days there!

Just an boring address today.

ecanarensis 3:18 PM  

OPT means to choose something; "opt out" is basically the opposite --you choose not. I've been pondering this a while, & 9A just does not work for me, at all.

I find that OPTing out of having a TV can really be a problem at times! Never heard of O'SHEA, NIA, or ANOUK.

I learned SKOSH ("skoshi," actually) as a teeny youngster. My mother picked it up in Japan in the early 50s (Navy Dad was based in Yokohama); she told me it was Japanese for something akin to "a tad" or "wee bit." She always used it as "I'll take a skoshi bit of dessert." She also told me how to say "Sharpen my pencil, please" in Japanese.

Dirigonzo 7:35 PM  

"pop culture" in the grid always gives me fits (like @ecanarensis, I opted out of TV a while ago) but POPCULTURE went in off just the initial P. After I filled in the reveal I figured I was looking for other two word answers that began with P and C, and MAC. A closer rereading of the clue after the grid was filled in tipped me off as to how the theme really worked. An "escort" could offer an ARM I suppose, but that wasn't my first instinct.

The dealer must have dozed off as I can't get a hand either - those 4 deuces are looking pretty good.

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