1982 holiday country hit by Alabama / SUN 6-29-14 / Grammy-nominated 1998 hit for Alanis Morissette / Minnesota player familiarly / Ray-finned fishes of Southwest U.S. / European coastal plant once thought to be aphrodisiac / Dadaism pioneer / 1980s video game spinoff / Health care giant with tree of life logo / Terrace farming pioneers

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Constructor: Byron Walden

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Downright Tricky!" — six theme answers travel down and then veer to the right; the reason is explained in the clue for EL CID (108D: Spanish hero whose 113-Down is represented enigmatically six times in this puzzle) — i.e. the theme answers form six ELs and all the ELs are three-part phrases where each part begins with "C," "I," and "D," respectively:

Theme answers:
  • 8D: Lament about modern men (CHIVALRY ID/EAD)
  • 13D: Pachelbel classic, familiarly (CANON I/N D)
  • 32D: Major African humanitarian concern of the 2000s (CRISIS IDAR/FUR)
  • 38D: Like the contents of many attics (COVERED IN DUST)
  • 50D: 1982 holiday country hit by Alabama ("CHRISTMAS IDIXIE")
  • 71D: "Right away, boss" ("CONSIDER IDONE")

Word of the Day: PICARO (100D: Rogue) —
n.pl.-ros (-rōz', -rōs').
  1. A rogue or adventurer. Also called picaroon.
  2. The main character in a picaresque work when that character is a man or boy.
[Spanish pícaro, perhaps from picar, to prick, from Vulgar Latin *piccāre. See pique.]

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/picaro#ixzz35yjdOs9v
• • •

Phew. As I wrote on my Facebook page last night, I was all set to knock this one out while the pizza was in the oven (timer on 11 minutes), but then I saw Byron Walden's name and immediately aborted that plan. Pizza would've burned, I reasoned. And turns out I was right—took me somewhere north of 14, longish for me. I didn't see the EL CID thing til the very end, so I had no idea how many of these right-turners were coming or even exactly where they were. CANON I … sounded plausible as an answer for 13D: Pachelbel classic, familiarly, even though that usage wasn't "familiar" to me. Anyway, the whole thing felt like a bit of a minefield, plus the cluing was on the tough side. This is all to the good, though, as I found the solving experience predominantly enjoyable. CRISIS IN DARFUR and COVERED IN DUST felt a *little* contrived/arbitrary as self-standing phrases, but not so much that it hurt, and considering the very high bar set by the theme (six C.I.D. phrases), I am happy to let those pass right on by.

The fill here is mostly solid and graceful (I'm just ignoring AAAA … though it pairs nicely with BBB). There's also tons of interesting little tidbits throughout, like MS. PAC-MAN and I HAD A HUNCH and PADDED BRA and HOG CALLER and MOSH PIT and whatever SEA HOLLY (12D: European coastal plant once thought to be an aphrodisiac) and SPIKED ACES (17D: Ray-finned fishes of the Southwest U.S.) are (whoops, that's just one word: SPIKEDACES). There were all kinds of pesky little stumbling blocks in this one. Right out of the box I face-planted on 4D: Quince, e.g.. I can see a "due" misdirect coming a mile away, but got blind-sided by the Spanish word for "fifteen." Had BANTER for BICKER. Imagined Hollywood was in CA and not FLA. And on and on. Highly pleasing—one of the best NYT Sundays I've done in a while (not the highest bar, but still, dang good).

Puzzle of the Week goes to Zoe Wheeler this week for her American Values Club Puzzle, "Flexibility" (get it here for $1 / read about it here). The AVC is starting to pull away from the pack a little in terms of overall quality (though every week Fireball is right there too). Zoe's puzzle just has a perfect reveal—theme elements are a great visual representation of a well-known expression. You can't ask much more from a themed puzzle—especially from a relatively easy themed puzzle. Easy- to Medium-difficulty themed puzzles are some of the hardest to do well. Cleverness and easiness are tough to combine. Not that American Values Club puzzles are "easy"—they tend to run in the Wed.-to-Fri. level range for me. But Fireball puzzles (also great) tend to be routinely Saturday-hard, so the two puzzles contrast one another a bit, and together provide nice coverage of the themed puzzle difficulty gamut. Nearly every week I find myself solving AVC and Fireball and thinking, "this would've made a good NYT Thursday."
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    AliasZ 12:08 AM  

    When I saw Byron Walden's byline, I HAD A HUNCH this will be a duesy and my early ESTIVATE was spot on.

    Outside of VIKE, HSIA, AAAA, BBB, A NEGG and a few GEDS, ESPs and ISPs here and there, this was an absolutely enjoyable puzzle.

    The theme was great, and the best part, it took some work to get to aha! I had to work my way to the very bottom when I finally figured out the EL-shaped C*I*D* down&right phrases with CONSIDER IT DONE and said: aha! See what I mean?

    All the theme phrases worked perfectly, the only thing missing was the lack of symmetry for COVERED IN DUST and CANON IN D, a small price to pay for such a severely restricting design. What makes such turns a little easier to solve is that the letters in the tail end of the phrase are triple-checked, with the exception of the corner letter.

    But what the heck are SPIKED ACES? Never heard of such fishes. And how is A SINK black?

    When I saw "Not flat nor sharp" I was sure it was going to be NATURAL. Boy, was I wrong. It was a PADDED BRA. Byes, TATAS. Kaput, PFFT.

    Do you remember the book "I'M OK, You're OK" and its sequel, "I'M OK, You're Not"?

    I never patronized a NAZIERA pizzeria.

    I had log roller before HOG CALLER, but learned a few new words: ABSCISSA, PICARO and ESTIVATE, this last one quite inferrable: from Lat. aestas, aestivus meaning summer, of summer, the flip side of hibernate, from Lat. hibernus for of winter, as in Hannibal hibernates in BEAR FUR. That's why Romans started to use the phrase "There is CRISIS IN DAR FUR."

    This lovely little Violin Sonata, KV 31, was composed by Mozart at AGE TEN. And guess what, it is in B-FLAT MAJOR.

    THANKU, Byron.

    Have a safe weekend everyone, and make sure you use a CONDONE.

    Steve J 12:24 AM  

    I didn't get this. At all. Well, I got that answers were going to turn right after going down, thanks to the title, but even when done I had no idea what the hell EL CID had to do with anything. This was a themeless for me.

    There was lots of other stuff I didn't grok. Didn't get how quince equaled NUMERO until Rex mentioned Spanish 15 (at which point I thought, I don't remember that in the puzzle at all). I prefer my quince poached with honey and vanilla.

    Naticked twice (giving me a two DNF spots: ESTIVATE (huh?) and EVIE (who?), and ABSCISSA (huh? again) and COO (don't get how that partners with Bill - or is it bill?). Two of those answers feel positively Maleskan, and those two crosses could each feature multiple letters (I had EdIE Sands, for example).

    A couple writeovers slowed me down for a while: I had aetNA instead of CIGNA, and annual PHYSICAL fits in the same number of squares as YEARLY PHYSICAL.

    There were some nice bits - it was good of Byron to give the TATAs a PADDED BRA, and HOG CALLER was nice - but in the end there was too much personal obscurity in theme and fill for me to enjoy this one.

    jae 12:35 AM  

    Easy-medium once I figured out the "Down Right Tricky" part, kinda tough before that.   Liked this a lot.  Clever theme with a very smooth grid given the constraints.  HSIA/AAAA is not pretty, but that's about it. 


    Minor erasures, but I seem to frequently confuse the first names of Jannings and McGregor.

    A tricky Sunday is a good thing!

    Unknown 12:51 AM  

    I did it. 2:05. First Sunday with a perfect line score: 000. [Googles, cheats and errors.]. I'd say it took a month of Sundays, but really, it took two. 60th try was the charm.

    It came down to E_IE crossing ESTI_ATE. D, L and V were looking good. I went with V as I just liked the sound of ESTIVATE better than the others. Ok, it was a lucky win, but I'll take it.

    I had serious trouble with PASSEDON/MOLD/THANKU/ILK. I probably spent 20 minutes ruling out [Relayed] PASSEDit and I HAteU (which sounded like it could be an Alanis Morrissette tune for what little I know of her). Whew.

    I almost blew passed MAINER for [Down Easter] then recalibrated for the national audience and brought it home. Here in a Maine, Down East starts on the east side of Penobscot Bay, or it is a relatiive direction.

    I got the EL theme in ELCID, but missed the CID part. Thank you, @Rex, for the meta reveal.

    Overall easy-medium plus ESTIVATE/EVIE and PASSEDON as clued, both of which were medium challenging here.

    Unknown 1:00 AM  

    @SteveJ. Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. ? Atl least that was my rationalization. Same rabbit holes with aetNA and annualPHYSICAL

    Mark 2:32 AM  

    @SteveJ: "Bill and coo" is a sweet old expression for the actions and sounds made by lovebirds when they are making out. Birds.

    Anonymous 3:25 AM  

    @AliasZ - it is, I believe, "Black AS INK."

    Arlene 5:22 AM  

    Great puzzle! I got the theme at CONSIDERITDONE, but had to go searching for the sixth theme answer - which was the CANONIND (I also thought CANON I made sense at first.)
    And the last to go in was ESTIVATE - never heard of that before!
    And ABSCISSA came out of the depths of my memory bank!

    Danp 6:06 AM  

    Mark is right about Bill and Coo, but I was right there with Casco Kid. In fact, I cannot believe I can't find any reference to them as Bill and Coo.

    I loved the theme. For some reason it is far more gratifying to grok long answers, and this theme created more than most puzzles. And you have to love that an El Cid themer would include CHIVALRYISDEAD, FILMINDUSTRIES and PICARO.

    As a rogue, El Cid fought for the Christians, then the Moors, and finally set up the pluralistic state of Valencia.

    Bob Kerfuffle 6:08 AM  

    Did this one at the beach yesterday. No problem with the grid, except at 109 A had WYNN DIXIE before WINN ...

    Saw, but didn't count, the Ls, which I expecxted the minute I saw the title, but utterly failed to see the C-I-D, and never got past CANON I.

    But it was a very nice beach day.

    Z 6:42 AM  

    First you are going to make me run the alphabet and then go past plausible guesses like ELIE or EDIE or even ERIE to get to ESTIVATE. What a way to finish.

    Otherwise a tough but doable Sunday. I went looking for the Els, but didn't count, so missed CANON IN DBID. Odd little name, but what do I know about the peculiarities of Pachelbel lovers?

    Hartley70 7:08 AM  

    Got nailed with the V in estivate. I went with an N to match hibernate. Never heard of spikedaces so the S was a guess and I thought it continued into a right hand turn. Bah!

    @Casco - Well Done!

    RAD2626 7:12 AM  

    Congratulations @Casco Kid. I thought he puzzle and the theme were great but hand up for recognizing the right turns from the title and CHRISTMAS IN DIXIE and CHIVALRY IS DEAD early gimmes but did not get the C-I-D part until I read @rex this morning. Had a good night's sleep not knowing how amazingly clever the puzzle really was. Thank you Mr. Walden.

    chefbea 7:18 AM  

    Hand up for getting the Down Right but had no idea what El Cid had to do with it. Too many things I did not know so a lot of googling.

    Have never, ever had a hot pocket!!!

    Doctor John 8:20 AM  

    @Casco Kid Congratulations!

    Loren Muse Smith 8:36 AM  

    Like others, I saw the L shapes but found only four of them. And I'm embarrassed to say, like @Steve J, @Bob, @chefbea, and @RAD2626, I totally missed the phonological play on EL CID. Man, oh man. And I love that kind of trick. I just thought in the end there was something about EL CID that I was unaware of, some kind of literature thing. Now that I'm able to C It, Damn, I am impressed!

    The two I couldn't find - CANON IN D (I, too, thought CANONI was acceptable) and COVERED IN DUST. I can't believe I missed that. I HAD A HUNCH can turn right, too, so I kept considering that one.

    I really liked the five bending themers that redirected the last part (CONDONE/..IT DONE, FUR/DARFUR, etc). DIXIE was the only one that didn’t.

    @Steve J, @Casco, @Hartley70 – Yeah – ESTIVATE/EVIE is a really tough cross. I guessed right but considered "estidate/edie."

    @Bob – me, too, for "Wynn" first.

    Rex - nice catch on the AAAA and BBB pair. Think the average solver CCCC PADDED BRA crossing DD? (Hey, go big or go home, right?)

    So is CHIVALRY DEAD among PICAROs?

    I initially had "mancala" for MAN CAVE since I've never played.

    And "image" for USAGE. Shame on me for that one. I do try to keep up with the language edicts handed down by the Style Powers that Be. Hopefully, I'll get it next time. ;-)

    ESTIVATE – where has this word been all my life? I guess I'm a world-class estivatress; when that hot weather sets in, I just want to stay inside, do absolutely nothing, be grumpy, and count the days until that first chill shows up in the air again. Textbook case of Seasonal Affective Disorder – it's just the opposite of most sufferers. I even love it when it gets dark at 5pm. Probably was a mole in my former life.

    Byron – this is one I'll remember for a long time, YES INDEED. I love your puzzles.

    Glimmerglass 9:09 AM  

    Best Sunday puzzle in a long time! ESTIVATE was a gimme for me, but it took a while to catch on to the down + right idea, even though ESTIVATE went through two of the L's. Never noticed the C.I.D. pattern until Rex pointed it out to me. Too bad the bottom L's are not all pronounced differently (i.e. DONE and CONDONE), but it's cool that three of them are.

    jberg 9:17 AM  

    I got the Down + right from the title, but wasn't expecting 13D to be one -- so I put in CANON D, figuring maybe the lazy music lovers left out the 'in' -- but BLIND BID finally fixed that, and the rest was tough but fun.

    Only it was only after the grid was full and I went back to mark all the theme answers that I saw the C.I.D. thing -- up until then I that rogue at 100D as a PICARON.

    The best part of the puzzle, though, was the proximity of PADDED BRA and BEAR FUR. Now that would be a garment.

    @Casco Kid, congratulations! As for Down East, I think it's relative -- when I head to Stonington to ESTIVATE, my affectation is to say I'm driving down to Maine. I've heard the term comes from the prevailing wind direction, back when most coastal transport was by sailing ships.

    Unknown 9:26 AM  

    Very fun. Caught the right turns pretty quickly and that helped. Did in Across Lite (normally do Sundays on paper) so liked seeing Rex's lovely L's in the write-up.

    joho 9:37 AM  

    Bravo, Byron! This is such a clever, tightly done theme ... and taken to a higher level than most with the inclusion of CID in of all the "L" shapes -- downright tricky, indeed! I mean you can love it just for "L's" without even seeing the CIDS!

    Fantastic clues for MANCAVE, AWFUL and especially the total update for IKE alluding to a very modern Facebook like button.

    PADDEDBRA brought a smile.

    I learned ABSCISSA and also looked up PICARO where I also learned that a female rogue is a PICARA! You know who you are!

    Anybody else have SPAREbEd before SPAREKEY?

    I really loved this one!

    Anonymous 10:40 AM  

    Loved this puzzle- also had spare bed before spare key. But PFFT? Really?

    Questinia 11:08 AM  

    I imagine a HOT POCKET to be a flaky outer layer of Monsanto with a gooey Monsanto interior.

    Unlike this delectable Sunday confection by Mr. Walden. The way Sunday crosswords ought to be.

    Anonymous 11:09 AM  

    MS. PACMAN wants a BBB PADDED BRA for her TATAS? (sorry 'bout that folks.)

    Very enjoyable puzzle. THANK U, Mr. Walden.

    Mohair Sam 11:10 AM  

    Well that was fun, and tough - although not as tough as the Walden byline had us fearing.

    Finished the puzzle, but only found the L five times (figured old Pachelbel might have cooked on the side and improved on the Canoli). Like others, we never even noticed the CID trick.

    SPIKEDACES? had to fill almost every letter - have visiting Texan who never heard of the blasted thing - where do they swim?

    Big shout out to @CascoKid. Heartiest congrats - may all your Sundays be as joyous.

    Carola 11:15 AM  

    Challenging. DNF. Must remember 3 rules:
    1. Run the entire alphabet, even if you already have a plausible answer ( EdIE x ESTIdATE).
    2. Read all the clues, even if the word is already filled in from crosses (EL CID).
    3. If the theme leaves you with "Is that all there is?", look again, especially if the constructor is Byron Walden (EL C-I-D).

    Wow, this took me a long time, but I really enjoyed the rasslin'. I struggled with new words - SEA HOLLY, SPIKEDACES, tricky clues (MAN CAVE), wrong ideas (beaDED BoA), tough crosses (CIGNA x NOMAR), and the theme - finally saw the right turn in CRISIS IN DARFUR (explaining BEAR FUR instead of BEARskin).

    Even though I went through and found all of the right-turn answers, I never saw the C-I-D pattern. Fantastic, Byron! (Waaaaa! Wish I'd seen it!)

    Thanks, @Rex, for explaining and @commenters, for the many smiles.

    Unknown 11:23 AM  

    When I got CONSIDER IT DONE and the EL CID revealer, I thought there was going to be phonetic "sid"s on the theme answers.

    Numinous 11:41 AM  

    @joho, I thought SPAREbEd but never wrote it in. KEY made itself known from ANGRY which gave me Black AS INK.

    SPIKEDACES, ABCISSA and ESTIVATE all involved lucky guesses for me, what they call in Los Angeles WAGS.

    Good on ya, @Casco. You see, persistance pays!

    One day, I was listening to my favorite classical music radio station and there was this lovely lilting melody meandering away. As it was about to resolve for the first time, there was the sound of an explosion where the final note should have been. The anouncer said, "You have just heard Pachelbel's Cannon." I pulled that trick on a producer who asked for that piece of music over part of one episode. He didn't get the joke but the other people in the room did.

    WINN DIXIE, I used to shop there in Alabama so no Y in it for me. In New Orleans, they have a huge liquor section, not just wine and beer, but then ONE can buy hurricanes in drive thrus in NOLA. I had a hard time walking down Bourbon St after drinking one of those, I can't imagine trying to drive.

    I got the "downright" part of the theme early onn and did see the CIDs in the answers but never considered the Ls until I read Rex. Very clever, very tight, very good!

    Tim Stadler 12:09 PM  

    Rex, spikedace is really a contraction of Spiked Dace (being an avid fly fisher I knew that one right away).

    Think I'd better stay Anonymous 12:25 PM  

    PADDED what? Sorry, does not compute, I'm unclear on the concept...

    I do remember being at a FRAT party years ago where one young lovely was holding forth on the condition of advanced curvitude, very likely since, for a college girl, she had quite a handsome endowment herself. I wouldn't have retained this memory but for the fact that she wrapped up her dissertation with a sigh and the observation, "It's SUCH a responsibility!".

    Like to think I've been fairly responsible, myself.

    So I see we got the LEG PAD and the BRA PAD, but PASSED ON the Thai PAD. Too bad, as that's one of my favorites. Would also have liked Tom to have been our LEHRER.

    Had Lord Byron stuck with the BRITCOM C.I.D., I might have had a hope. As it was, looking around the corner was the last thing on my mind; it'sall I can do just to ESTIVATE.

    THANKU for another chance to marvel.

    jdv 12:28 PM  

    Medium w/one error. EdIE. Error was my fault. I've seen ESTIVAL in puzzles before and I know I've seen EVIE Sands before. Nice to see a solo effort from Walden; feels like it has been aeons. Hopefully, he has some Saturdays in the pipeline. I found 5 of the L's; no clue on Pachelbel; never heard of him. Also, did not pick up on CID theme. Second time I've seen SORB, so committing to memory. Tough clues for MANCAVE, QUINCE and FLA. Liked it.

    Masked and NoUs-Aphobic 12:33 PM  

    Yep, liked it a lot. Historically appropriate, as followers of El Cid frequently would comment on his propensity, while on the march, to make Hard Rights without any notice.
    For real. It was


    Am alarmed that @BobK has no puz to work today. Permit me to offer him up this, my first in a new set of daring runtpuz experiments...


    It's alive! It's alive! [maniacal laughter ensues]

    Leapfinger 12:34 PM  

    Poor old Hannibal sure is pulling double duty these days, is he not?

    QUINCE was my favourite clue-pair, since I love number puns, esp in different languages. That made another reason to like the play on CONDONES, since that advo-cates 'safe sechs'.

    Have a glorious weekend, all y'all.

    Leapfinger 12:45 PM  


    Spanish, not French, I'm thinkin'

    Either I'm getting much better, or this was easier than most. THANKU< I needed a boost!

    r.alphbunker 12:57 PM  

    @M and A

    TI {Sometimes M and A ends up with it backwards.}

    M and Also 12:59 PM  

    Attached is a @Leapfinger-edited, more better version, of today's runtpuz...


    Wrong again, M&A breath. (A -phobia of mine)
    As ever,
    no refunds.

    Moly Shu 1:10 PM  

    @Casco, your my hero. Well done!

    As usual I agree with @SteveJ, didn't enjoy. I did know bill and COO, but the ESTIVATE, HSIA, EVIE area was brutal. Had vILE before BILE , which gave me vouchBID?. That section took forever due to that misstep.

    Liked the long answers everywhere. Some of the L's ending on black squares and some just ending in the middle of other answers seemed arbitrary and less than ideal to me. Probably couldn't be helped though.

    In the end, challenging and barely in the did not like column.

    r.alphbunker 1:11 PM  

    @M and A

    How is


    different from


    Steve J 1:22 PM  

    @Mark: Thanks. Never heard that expression before. Add another to my list of things that were foreign to me (which is not the puzzle's fault) with this one.

    @Questinia: Would you like some Cargill sauce with your Monsanto pie?

    @Casco: Nicely done. Especially on a puzzle that most everyone is describing on the challenging side.

    @Mohair Sam: Apparently SPIKEDACEs are primarily in Arizona and New Mexico. Never heard of them either, but I was eventually able to get it with crosses. Needed pretty much every cross to do it.

    Anonymous 1:24 PM  

    Very PICAResque puzzle, was in need of some of dat dar furbearance.

    Bulletless in Record Time 1:25 PM  

    @r.alph: Well, first up, all them weird little numbers in the file names are pretty different...
    Also, M&A had to correct a word in the 12-Across clue. In first published version, he had mis-spelt "foreign" as "French". [uncomfortable "har, right"]

    "Doin IT Backwards Since 2014"

    jae 1:31 PM  

    Way to go @Casco! Congratulations!

    retired_chemist 1:37 PM  

    Surprised others found this harder than medium. Maybe enough was in my wheelhouse that it just seemed easier than it really was to me. So far it looks like my time will be the fastest I have ever had relative to the published NYT times.

    Tried CHIVALRY IS (dead) as a rebus first. Left the D to be resolved later when the rebus made no sense, ditto CANON I. Soon figured out what the "downright" from the title meant.

    Lots of good fill and a masterful theme. Theme: I did not notice the CID feature of the theme and was pleasantly surprised to see this wrinkle when I read this blog. Made 108D something of a puzzler - even looked up EL CID's real name to see if that helped. No.

    Hand up for loG roLLER. And for liking Quince => NÚMERO. And for learning SPIKEDACES.

    Thanks, Mr. Walden. Good one.

    Anonymous 2:53 PM  

    It bothered me that some of the L-shaped answers like CONSIDERITDONE and CHRISTMASINDIXIE ended at a black square but others didn't, like CANONIND, which I read as CANONINDBID and thought I was wrong for a while. My biggest error was having WONDERBRA for 100-A at first. Also thought 4-D had to be a fruit.

    OISK 3:03 PM  

    I am an estivating school teacher, so that was easy, and don't know who Alabama is/was, so Christmas in Dixie was tough, loved remembering Bram Stoker, and my yearly physical is about four decades overdue. Very nice Sunday puzzle; pleased that I remembered what a mosh pit is. I promised a friend that I would confess that I made a mistake on Friday, ruining a long winning streak. I had "BEGS" instead of "BUMS," which made sense, but I never double checked the "pea brain," or I'd have seen that "Gendel" wasn't right. MENDEL! Hang my science teacher head in shame...

    wreck 3:35 PM  

    Medium for me. Like so many, I never saw the C I D until I came here! No googles (there wasn't much need as most answers were phrases or pretty common). Didn't particularly like it or dislike it. It was just sort if there.

    wreck 3:38 PM  

    I am really bad at proof reading! "of"

    Fred Romagnolo 4:28 PM  

    got lost at WINNDIXIE, i'm no southerner. Instead of COXING, I had rOwING. I didn't know DARA, so it was a natick for me. Finally got it by googling "Alabama." Hadn't heard the term BRITCOM, I like it. Never figured out the ELCIDs til I looked at this blog. I didn't know MANCAVE was a game. Was slightly miffed that some of the "Downright"s didn't end at the last square. Still not sure about HOECALLER, Hoe-downs?

    mathguy 5:43 PM  

    What a great gimmick, the six els containing C-I-D phrases. But I think that it should have been telegraphed more clearly than it was. It seems that very few of our savvy group saw it.

    What does IHADAHUNCH have to do with Spider-Man?

    SenorLynn 6:31 PM  

    I am in a*w*e, Mr. Walden. Thanks, @Rex for wiping the mist from the mirror. 1:23, a bit longer than avg.
    C4H10O, on my screen,but I guessed ESTER anyway. Thanks a lot, ton. . .but not MIL until very late.
    Me, too, for beaDED BoA, annual before YEARLY, mantissa before ABSCISSA (knew it was math term, & it fit). Before I saw the right turn thing, wanted the African tragedy to end in wAR, but that gave me NO wOGS at the pool, & that don't work.
    Hard,but not too, & that elegant design!

    Bob Kerfuffle 6:35 PM  

    @M&A - Just got back from the beach (where I actually did about ten of the miscellaneous old Xwords that I routinely print out from G Barany, A Kravis, E Agard, B Tausig, P Broda, S Newman, WSJ et al.), haven't gotten up to date on all comments, but when you supplied a runtpuz just for me (?), had to do it. 3:04, lightning speed for me, slowed a bit because I AHed at the puppies before I AWed at them.

    Thanks for thinking of me.

    LaneB 6:53 PM  

    Way too tricky for me. So the towel was hurled in early. Am too new to these kinds of puzzles to become anything but irritated. But I do ultimately admire the construction and the ability off the solvers who contribute to this blog. Congrats to all.

    Elizabeth Kruska 7:51 PM  

    Thank you for including the Jim Gaffigan bit on Hot Pockets in your post. As soon as I filled in that clue, I sang, "HOTPOCKETS" and giggled.

    lawprof 10:14 PM  

    Did this one in fits and starts. Down time for World Cup. Cruel finishes both.

    In most cases, when I get stuck and put the puzzle down for a few hours, it falls quickly. Not this one. Took three grind-it-out sessions to wrestle it to the ground.

    Even then I naticked at the EVIE/ESTIVATE crossing. Do I (dimly) remember correctly a singer named Tommy Sands from the, what?, fifties? sixties? Didn't fit anyway, so there's that. EVIE I'll just forget; ESTIVATE I'll add to the lexicon. If I solved on a computer, the absence of Mr. Happy Pencil would have prompted me to try again (and again, and again) until I got it. As a paper solver, however, I just had to turn it in and hope for the best, which, in this case, wasn't so good.

    Stupidly had Expo as a Minnesota player. Isn't Montreal the capital of Minnesota (or maybe the other way round)? I do know it's cold up there from August to June.

    Writeovers: the aforementioned expo/VIKE; annual/YEARLY; lot/MIL; satS/GEDS; ALIa/ALII.

    The Downright (L) gimmick was clever; incorporating the CID element makes it brilliant. Good one Mr. Walden.

    sanfranman59 11:33 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 5:17, 6:04, 0.87, 4%, Easy (9th lowest ratio of 233 Mondays)
    Tue 8:33, 8:33, 1.00, 50%, Medium
    Wed 9:40, 9:40, 1.00, 51%, Medium
    Thu 15:15, 17:32, 0.87, 24%, Easy-Medium
    Fri no data
    Sat no data
    Sun 36:02, 28:08, 1.28, 91%, Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:33, 3:55, 0.91, 9%, Easy
    Tue 5:30, 5:21, 1.01, 54%, Medium
    Wed 6:29, 6:08, 1.06, 66%, Medium-Challenging
    Thu 9:39, 10:40, 0.90, 28%, Easy-Medium
    Fri no data
    Sat no data
    Sun 27:01, 20:13, 1.34, 87%, Challenging

    Anonymous 11:59 PM  

    Do I understand that Rex completed this in 14 minutes? Are you kidding me?

    I will never be good at this. I was so proud of myself for finishing this in 40 minutes. Plus I didn't event get the CID piece until I read about it.



    michael 12:32 AM  

    I got this entirely right without ever figuring out either the els or the cid. I did see the turns...

    paulsfo 1:07 AM  

    I'm surprised that only a few people have complained about some of the els being followed by random letters. Since crossword answers *always* end at a black square or an edge, I assumed that I must have something wrong with, CANON IN DBID, etc. For that reason, I would give the theme an F. I think this is much more egregious than, say, the "Crossed out" puzzle of a few weeks ago. In that case people might think it was ugly, but at least no one thought it was *their* problem. To quote from Emma, "Very badly done."

    @Mathguy: Spider Man has a "Spidey sense", which is a kind of physical intuition, usually leading to ducking just in time.

    Mette 1:52 AM  

    What a treat. Thank you Byron. Can't remember the last time a Sunday puzzle was so much fun and a little tough. DNF because of CANON. And, not only did I miss the CID thing, but did not put together downright with the L shapes. So what was an enjoyable romp became doubly so once I read Rex and then the comments here.

    Art F 5:27 AM  

    This was an unusually tough one for me. I took a wrong turn, not being a Harry Potter fan, and figured that perhaps he had a STAR birthmark indicative of his magical legacy, rather than a SCAR. That gave me PITARO on the vertical, which I couldn't figure out how to correct, not having ever encountered the word PICARO.

    The MAN CAVE clue, I'm assuming on account of the question mark, refers not to some game that employs an XY coordinate system, but rather to the male XY sex chromosome.

    I, too, missed the C-I-D aspect of the theme, and having figured the answer to the Pachelbel clue was CANON I, couldn't for the life of me find the sixth theme answer.

    Charles Flaster 8:00 AM  

    TUFF!!!!DNF. Missed Estivate,Thanku, and Seaholly. Never saw abscissa in a puzzle before. Has anyone else? It is not used as much these days in math /science classes bit I liked it as well as the entire puzzle.
    Thank you BW.

    eileenthepainterblog 11:34 AM  

    I had to come to you on a Monday morn after solving the puzzle correctly to find out how the 6 El Cids fit. Doh! Now I see! Had to ask my husband about abscissa, Nomar, and leg pad. Nearly put Piggly Wiggly for Winn Dixie and Maya for Inca. Afro was good, Nazi Era, and Padded Bra. Good puzzle.

    Anonymous 1:08 PM  

    They aren't SPIKEDACES, they're SPIKE DACES, small fish living in the Gila River system of New Mexico and Arizona.

    Anonymous 9:29 PM  

    Black as ink
    Lay an egg
    But I had pushupBRA and wonderBRA first

    Anonymous 9:30 PM  

    bill and coo is what doves do

    Anonymous 4:46 PM  

    No googling required, no pop culture, no trivia that can't bet solved by context. Perfect. Some gimmes, but enough lateral-thinking cluing to make it challenging. Lots of traps to fall into (like "natural", as others fell into), clues that hid their direction well. I didn't think much of the overused theme, but with such great cluing and no googling required, how can anyone complain? Well done!

    LaMedusa 2:46 PM  

    I think my favorite Sunday ever. Completely in my wheelhouse, no googling, and seeing the CID component of the Els helped me when I needed it. Thank U Mr. Walden! Viva El Cid!

    spacecraft 11:10 AM  

    A most unfortunate DNF for me, because of 13d/40a. Not knowing the official Pachebel title, I tried what I thought was reasonable for an offer to buy unspecified stocks: BLaNkBID. This left me with CANONA, which looked OK, and LEGPAK: I figured, every modern "pack" is now "PAK" so I left it in.

    Counting my phrases, though, I could only come up with five. And shame on me, though I got the "Right turn, Clyde!" thing before even starting--from the title "Downright Tricky!" (duh)--I completely missed the fact that all the phrases acronymmed to CID. Had I done so, I might have spied that CANONIND.

    All the rest of it went swimmingly; it actually rates easy-medium to me save that one glitch. Blank bid, blind bid. Rats. I should get on top of my financial terms.

    For a moment, I mused that the sixth themer might be PFFTATAS: PADDEDBRA, anyone? OK, I'll shut up now.

    151=7, no card.

    rain forest 1:57 PM  

    What a great puzzle, quite easy in parts, and slow-going in others. Got the "go down and turn right" thing from the title, and was happy to find four of them pretty easily.

    The NE was distinctly more difficult than the rest. I had to leave that part and complete the SE, where the clue for ELCID was a big help in getting CANONIND (actually got BLINDBID first) and CRISISINDARFUR.. That strange fish came completely from crosses,

    I'm always in awe of the creative themes that constructors come up with, and this ONE was AMAZIN'.

    2621=11 take away a 2.

    Anonymous 8:11 PM  

    Bitch and complain is what I did over this puzzle! At the end DNF and did not give a flying f!

    Solving in Seattle 4:20 PM  

    I caught on to the gimmick pretty quickly with 50D/109A, but didn't snap to the CID trick until I was done with the puzzle and tried to figure out what Byron meant.

    I had five of the six downrights discovered, but not a sixth. Finallllly, I figured out that CANONI wasn't an answer and took it around the corner ND. Voila!

    Really clever fun puz Mr. Walden.

    Liked the shoutout to @Diri with 99D.

    Learned PICARO and ESTIVATE, words not previously in my vacab. Wasn't sure until I googled that I had it correct.

    Can anyone explain how "Absolutely Fabulous," e.g. leads one to the answer BRITCOM?

    And what kind of FILMINDUSTRIES BEARFUR?

    @DMG, I caught the final set yesterday and thought of you. What a match. Both guys are great role models.

    Capcha: 1028 = 2

    Dirigonzo 6:08 PM  

    Finally finished the puzzle today - ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS (The link is for @SiS).

    3420 > 9 if the game is still open.

    Solving in Seattle 6:50 PM  

    Thanks, @Diri, I think I get it now.

    Unknown 7:38 AM  

    Its a mental exercise, it takes time if your vocabulory is not strong, you must know synonyms to solve it instantly
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