Ottoman inns / SUN 9-28-14 / Relative of canary / Chief Justice during Civil War / Synagogue instrument / Flowing glacial feature / Taiwanese computer giant / 2007 purchaser of Applebee's / Shelfmate of Bartlett's / English hymnist / Sparkly topper / Brand with red arrow through its logo / Pituitary gland output briefly

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Constructor: Todd Gross

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Four By Four" — theme answers are phrases made out of four four-letter words

Theme answers:
  • SAME TIME NEXT YEAR (23A: 1975 Tony-nominated play about an extended affair)
  • SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (46A: The Crossroads of the West)
  • HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGH (16D: "Don't be ashamed")
  • TEAR DOWN THIS WALL (36D: Reagan's challenge to Gorbachev)
  • WITH ARMS WIDE OPEN (92A: Warm way to welcome someone)
  • LESS TALK MORE ROCK (119A: Common slogan for a music radio station)
Word of the Day: Roger B. TANEY (35A: Chief Justice during the Civil War) —
Roger Brooke Taney (/ˈtɔːni/; March 17, 1777 – October 12, 1864) was the fifth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, holding that office from 1836 until his death in 1864. He was the eleventh United States Attorney General. He is most remembered for delivering the majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), that ruled, among other things, that African-Americans, having been considered inferior at the time the Constitution was drafted, were not part of the original community of citizens and, whether free or slave, could not be considered citizens of the United States. (wikipedia)
• • •

I was getting complaints about this one before I'd even opened it, and I can see why. The theme is simply not interesting. You can go to (as one of my friends pointed out) and do a search of 4x4 possibilities; that search gives you all these, plus many others (most of them completely unusable—my favorites are LOCK THAT SH*T DOWN, SHUT YOUR CAKE HOLE, and the truly stellar FIST F**K YOUR FACE). I'm not convinced that LESS TALK MORE ROCK is terribly legit, but even if it were, there's just a big "Who Cares?" miasma hanging over this one. There are exactly two things remarkable about this puzzle: NO-GOODNIK, and the fact that this is possibly the easiest Sunday puzzle I've ever done. Got snagged at the very end in the north—a total outlier, difficulty-wise—but still finished in under 8 (!?!?). Otherwise, everything about this puzzle is deeply forgettable. I just don't understand how this would "tickle" anyone.

I guess if I'm going to focus on any part of this grid, it should probably be that north area, which stands out only because the rest of the grid was So Dang Easy. I started entering answers and just kept going, barely even pausing, tearing up the grid until I hit the far north. There I encountered a whole bunch of things I either didn't know or couldn't see, all in one place. First, ICEFALL (9D: Flowing glacial feature). Then MAXILLA, which I sort of knew and sort of doubted—I know very well that AXILLA is armpit, so even though MAXILLA sounded right for 10D: Mandible's counterpart, I couldn't help thinking that I was confusing the real answer with axilla. MAXILLA sounds like an extreme armpit. "Take your axilla to the max, with MAXILLA!" The clue for ALT is just bizarre (11D: Not the main rte.). ALT corresponds to "main"—it's not the main rte., it's the ALT. rte. ALT by itself suggesting nothing about rtes. I know it as a prefix meaning alternative, as in "alt-country." I was half-expecting DET. (as in "detour"?). Then there was the very last thing I got—the absurd SERIN / TANEY cross. Both of those are obscure, and they cross at a not-too-guessable letter. Even if you think "those aren't obscure," they certain are compared to All The Other Answers In This Grid. Not well-known bird crossing not well-known Supreme Court Chief Justice at a Wheel-Of-Fortune letter? Odd.

Reluctant to do a Puzzle of the Week this week, for a couple of reasons. First, I didn't do as many puzzles this week as I normally do, so it's highly probable I haven't even solved some good candidates. Also, I'm still struggling with the Matt Gaffney Weekly Crossword Puzzle metapuzzle, which I'm told is great, but which I can't yet confirm (no "aha" moment for me yet). So I'll just say that the best puzzle I did this week was Patrick Berry's Friday themeless (NYT), though Byron Walden's "Mismatched Socks" (AV Club Crossword) (solution) is also worth a look. Best themed puzzle I did, for sure.

[Update: Just figured out the meta for this week's MGWCC puzzle ("Repeat Offenders," by Francis Heaney). It is indeed amazing, though I have this small quibble that I can't discuss because the contest deadline hasn't passed … gah! Anyway, the puzzle is pretty epic, and definitely POTW-worthy]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:22 AM  

Easy for me too and exactly what Rex said right down to guessing at the SERIN/TANEY cross, which means I'm 2 for 2 guessing this weekend.  Time to buy a PowerBall ticket. 

Brigham Young 12:29 AM  

I'm just guessing here, but if one of your theme answers is SALTLAKECITYUTAH, you need a new theme.

Questinia 12:58 AM  

Hand up for the SERIN/TANEY cross being the final near-Natick. Which means it was a Framingham.

Anonymous 1:32 AM  

Guessed wrong at Serin/Taney. Otherwise, easy.

chefwen 2:28 AM  

Yup! Super easy Sunday. Got most of the long answers with only a couple of letters in place, a couple with no letters at all. I enjoyed it, just wish it were a tad bit more challenging. Only write over was ABEL over Esau.

Bring on the new week!

Charlene 4:01 AM  

Could they not have found something, somewhere, called "tafey"? Surely less obscure to most of the world than a 150-year-old U.S. judge?

Fred Romagnolo 4:07 AM  

@norm from yesterday: there are people who go back and check everybody's blogs, even those of us west-coasters, @alias z and @leapfinger are two, so don't feel abandoned or left out.

Unknown 4:31 AM  

I guessed right at MAXILLA/IMARETS but wrong at SERIl/TAlEY and SMEh/hoLDCARD. I had OVo for OVI. Oh well.

1:35. Lots of back-tracking. I'd call it medium for the countless ambiguities in cluing and the several Naticks.

Asking who was Chief Justice during the civil war is like asking who was pope during World War II. Certain powerful jobs become powerless pretty quickly without the consent of the governed. I've never heard of TANEY, although ignorance of the titled-but-powerless is still nothing to be proud of.

In Madagascar they gave me a nickname: Kele Bevava. Malagasy, anyone? Ok, hearing no guesses, I'll just tell you: Litle Bigmouth. Do they read this blog in Antananarivo?

Anonymous 5:11 AM  

Taney was actually a fairly significant historical figure. There was not just the notorious Dred Scott ruling, but also the well-known (to lawyers) Ex parte Merryman ruling on habeas corpus, which Lincoln chose to ignore. Lincoln apparently seriously considered arresting him.

Moly Shu 5:34 AM  

Same experience as @Rex, easy and SERIN-TANEY. Felt a little dull. First thing I thought after finishing, " man, I hope Rex doesn't post that horrendous Creed video". As I read the review, I became increasingly happy as no such dreck appeared. And then, there it was at the very end. Yuck. Way to spoil a good rant, @Rex.

On a happier note, welcome back @Casco, you've been missed.

George Barany 6:51 AM  

Good morning from Montreal. Yesterday was a travel day -- two flights plus hanging out in airport waiting areas took up most of my time, and there was no opportunity to post. I did manage to read, and enjoy, the spirited discussions yesterday, and appreciate this passionate and intelligent community of crossword lovers. From my co-constructor/friend @Martin Ashwood-Smith and myself, thank you!

A few months ago, my friend @Todd Gross e-mailed that he had completed construction on what he considered his magnum opus. Let me preface that by noting that one of Todd's signature styles is a quest for that extra level of interlock in his grids: look at the U in the 46-Across/16-Down cross, and the H in the 92-Across/36-Down Cross of "Four by Four." But that's not what Todd was so excited about! Let's cut to the chase ... do you prefer today's offering, or do you think that the New York Times should have used "Literally Labeled Luminaries," which was submitted at the same time, instead?

@Todd's own thoughts are in his "midrash." Last, on the final playing day of a storied baseball career, one more fond look at @Alex Vratsanos's tribute puzzle, "He's Number 2!."

Anonymous 7:10 AM  

I found the SERIN/TANEY crossing actually quite doable with a little perp help. Neither jumped immediately to mind, but I had at least heard of both of them.

What killed me, however, was confidently sticking in ATRA at 117D. That, combined with EVA LARUE (who I did not know), was just too much for me today.

Glimmerglass 7:52 AM  

Sunday NYT puzzles are usually just long Wednesday-difficulty slogs. Recently, we've had some more challenging Sundays, but this one was just a long Monday. Too easy to be fun. I needed a few crosses to remember IMARETS, but I wrote in TEAR DOWN THIS WALL from just the first T.

chefbea 8:14 AM  

Lot of people I didn't know so had to google. Wanted all the theme answers to have something more in common...maybe some rotini for dinner tonight.

Leapfinger 8:17 AM  

Yup, a lightweight theme; after the second one, went and filled in all the rest. However, went astray with TAKE DOWN THAT WALL; also, since the theme was really 4x4x6, it might be said to have some depth.

Am liking the sound of PESCI and SMARM, EVA aka "Bubbles" LARUE, and having COWS next to TIPS. Not liking so much the creepy 'stake' clue for JOAN OF ARC, especially when crossed with OBIT and AUTO da Fe.

Some minor straying with flirt/COURT, Hoyle/ROGET and China/CHILE as well as an issue with [Private parts] as a precise definition of LOINS. Turns out I was wrong on that, so live and LOIN, right? Somewhat mollified by the near placement of ERECT.

STOIChiometry is founded in the law of conservation of mass (wiki), which is inHERAntly based on the intake of too many CALORIES. Too much ROTINI or EGG ON HAM AS well will do it, SO, SO...Shut those WIDE-OPEN JAWS with their Mandible/MAXILLA TEETH!

Now to see what all the ALIASES are up to.

ArtO 8:18 AM  

As I get the puzzle section on Saturday and solve then, couldn't wait to come here today and find Rex's totally expected dis of the theme. No joy.

As for Roger Taney, while you might not know that he served during the Civil War, one certainly should know the man for his infamous Dred Scott decision defending slavery.

Dorothy Biggs 8:44 AM  

Never heard the word SMARM before. Smarmy, yes. So I guess it makes sense that Smarmy is akin to a smarm. The things you learn...

71A. "Like a good-sized estate, maybe." TENACRE. I wanted this to be plural in the worst way but I get that it is more of an adjective than a plural noun. Still don't like it. Reminds of a 10-foot pole. More than one foot are feet...adjective or not. Growing up in the mid-west that singular/plural use of the word foot harkens back to the singular/plural use of the word acre here. I'm probably making too much of it, but it is a quirk of the language (see SMARM above).

LESSTALKMOREROCK I've heard before but not as often as "Less talk more music" or "Less talk more hits." Admittedly, the answer is catchier since it rhymes...but I don't remember hearing as often as the others.

Lastly, I thought GENYers were the generation before the millennials. After googling, I see that it is not...but the dates are pretty fluid...1980s to the early 2000s (both my kids are in this range and yes the oldest generally conforms to the general description of "boomerang" generation since she is living with me now and taking a gap year). My youngest was born in 2000 and so is on the cusp of whatever the new generation is. GenZ? Post-millennials?

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

Clue for 26A is technically correct but misleading. Scalia was appointed to fill Associate Justice position when Rehnquist was promoted to Chief Justice; he did not succeed Rehnquist as a new appointee to Supreme Court. Depends on your definition of "high bench," I guess. Bothered my lawyer husband!

Mohair Sam 9:03 AM  

@Questinia - Big lol here on Framingham - I may never say "nearly naticked" again.

Agree with most here that this Sunday offering was almost too easy except for a little resistance in the North. And yes, the theme just falls flat.

For better or worse TANEY is a hugely important Chief Justice in American history, even beyond the Dred Scott decision. Certainly not a gimme, but a gettable name for those who even casually study the Civil War. All you English majors and cruciverbalists ought to read a little history.

Maruchka 9:09 AM  

The TANEY court looms large for decisions that fomented the Civil War and 13th Amendment.

PBS on Dred Scott: "..Taney reasoned [re: all men are created equal] that 'it is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration'.. Although disappointed, Frederick Douglass found a bright side to the decision and announced, 'my hopes were never brighter than now.' For Douglass, the decision ... was a step toward slavery's ultimate destruction.."

A perfectly respectable Sunday puzzle, no?

Mikey Sharp 9:26 AM  

Barany's doing it again

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

I had the SERIN / TANEY natick, and came here to call foul (crosses a bird, get it?) on it, but after reading about the Dred Scott decision it turns out this is one of those crossword bonuses where I learn something worth knowing. I haven't yet seen anyone defend pointlessly arcane serin, though. It feels like the sort of collection of letters that a constructor finds as a result of crosses and then Googles to see if there's any chance it's a word.

quilter1 9:34 AM  

Good thing this was easy--I have a busy day. TANEY was not obscure for me. Everything else filled in steadily and boringly. Ho hum.

LHS 888 9:34 AM  

Mostly easy, but an official DNF for me again today caused by the NW. For some unknown reason I just couldn't see SCALIA. I couldn't shake off Roberts. No excuse for that at all. Google gave me that d'oh headslap, and the rest of the corner fell into place. I had RAJA, but needed SCALIA to see MASSE (too many "swimming" thoughts) to give me the MAHA part.

Hand up for Esau before Abel.
One stupid error: tSA instead of NSA. Didn't notice ROTItI to fix it. Grrrrr.

Anyone else bothered by the clue for 18D? I get it now, but I still don't like it. I would have gone with "Big G" or something King James-y. That NE corner gave me some serious resistance because of that one word.

Agree SERIN was tough, but not because of TANEY. I wasn't sure about the plural of IMARET which is a new word to me. SERIN could have been aERIN for all I knew.

Favorite clues: 96D NEUTRAL & 21A CALORIE

Smiled when I filled in the RRN and EELY... Thinking about all the comments that will surely be made.

EugeneS 9:37 AM  

It's interesting that I see a complaint about George Barany is posted above. A while ago, I did the same, and after being visible for a short while, it disappeared. So I posted again, several times, same result. I guess Mr. Sharp has momentarily gone off duty.

To me, this is confirmation of what has been complained about here recently -- that there is a small circle of buddies that @Rex is supporting. Way to go, Mr. Sharp.

F.O.G. 9:44 AM  

Agree that this was a bit too easy and not much fun.

I tanked on "JIM" Parsons because I had "TIM" Parsons of "American Dad" stuck in my head.

Liked "MASSE" for "Pool stroke."

I couldn't get "ROBERTS" to fit as Rehquist's successor until I remembered Rehquist was already on the Court when named Chief Justice, so "SCALIA" became apparent.

joho 9:49 AM  

@Rex, your write up is right on.

@chefbea, ITOO wanted another level added to tie all the theme answers together. Maybe all statements by statesmen like TEARDOWNTHISWALL which was my favorite answer.

@Leapfinger, for those clues you mention I had written in the margin, 'gruesome!" "at the stake" crossing "Dead reckoning" with the answer being OBIT ...Yikes!

Unknown 9:54 AM  

Roger TANEY is a less obscure name than any, say, music critic in the NYT. Less obscure, even, than an actress in one of the many CSI spin offs IMHO!

Anyhow, not to nitpick, but the Exxon Valdez was a tanker, not an oiler. An oiler provides underway replenishment; a tanker provides transport.

So what, though, to any of this? I (almost) always enjoy my quality time with the NYT crossword.

TokyoRacer 9:56 AM  

Will someone please explain why G = THOU?

I think inveterate crossword solvers are the only people who can instantly call up the names of present and past Supreme Court justices. "Normal" people read the names occasionally in the paper and immediately forget them.

mathguy 9:59 AM  

I agree with Rex. Too easy, too dull.

Arlene 10:04 AM  

I, too, got a bit stymied in the center top section. At one point, I was wondering whether a HERON could possibly be a cousin of a canary (NOT!)

Although I got the entire TEAR DOWN THIS WALL right away without any crosses - I really liked that SALT LAKE CITY UTAH fit so well into the theme. Seemed rather unique, I would guess.

Arlene 10:07 AM  

@Toyko Racer

G = abbreviation for a thousand
Hence G = thou

Unknown 10:11 AM  

@tokyo racer G is short for "grand," which is gangster slang for a thousand. K is short for kilo, which also means a thousand, of course. So would you rather get a contract for 10K or find 10G in a shoebox?

Dorothy Biggs 10:13 AM  

G = thousand, thou for short

Or, according to Jim Rome, a Grrr...

RooMonster 10:35 AM  

Hey All!
This for me was a welcome on-the-easy-side SunPuz! Figured out the theme before I even had any theme answers! Did miss a coupla letters, so chalk it up as a DNF. Grrrr... The NE was my DNF area, had OHHo & PorT.

Fun thing was this puz had everything! There was EELY! A RRN! Partials! (WHOME, ASAMI, GENY) Baseball and basketball clues! Obscure names! Only missing rap stars and operas!

I missed the TANEY/SERIN cross, had an f for the N. My writovers...
Had nbaER for CAGER, which led to traiN for EGGON, which led to okrA for ALGA. Whew! But ended up getting that whole area correct. Had atra for TRAC, and frEetHrow for OPENSHOTS.
Also, think SMARM is a great word, with or without the -ly! (Hi @NCA Pres!)

Oh, ang G is slang for One Thousand Dollars, or a THOU, to whomever asked...



Carola 10:44 AM  

I TOO feltl the theme CRIED OUT for something MORE.
DNF at SERIN x TANEY - figured it was an "L" or an "N" and went with alphabetical order. I appreciate getting educated on Justice TANEY. Interesting pairing with SCALIA - birds of a feather in their decisions?
Also had trouble in the SE - LESS TALk, MORE ...folK? Didn't seem likely,

r.alphbunker 10:47 AM  

A pleasant Sunday outing.

Some interesting clues for other four letter words in the puzzle.

22A {Fancy meeting you here} OHHI (That OHHI is drenched with meaning!)
18D {1G} THOU (1G = 1 GRAND = 1 THOUsand dollars)
118A {Goddess of marriage} HERA (Interesting given Zeus's philandering ways.)
111D {2007 purchaser of Applebee's} IHOP (Interesting tidbit)
87A {Go cheek-to-cheek with} ABUT (Unexpecte use of ABUT)
81D {Dead reckoning?} OBIT (It is possible that OBIT has the largest number of punny clues of any word ever used in the NYT)
89D {Bar jarful} TIPS (Not nuts)
40D {Langston Hughes poem with the lines 'They send me to eat in the kitchen - When company comes'} ITOO (Nice tie-in TANEY)
41D {Earliest-born member of the Cartoon Hall of Fame} NAST (Nice clue for an old chestnut. Was thinking Pogo)
55A {Prop on 'The Bachelor'} ROSE (Interesting way to view a ROSE)
106A {Team of oxen} SPAN (Did not know this)
36A {Relationships} TIES (Better than a sports-related clue)

John Child 10:48 AM  

Welcome back @Casco Kid.

I am not much bothered by Mr Barany's self-promotional posts, but at least a few other people are. @Lewis, @M&A, and @r.alph all withdrew or moved their tangentially-related offerings under less pressure. Perhaps you do the same @George Barany.

r.alphbunker 10:52 AM  

@Casco Kid

Welcome back!

But with RAM, I would choose 10G over 10K.

Fred Smith 11:13 AM  

Questina -

Yep, near-Natick could be a Framingham, but also a Wellesley -- which would be appropriate today as a Hillary tie-in. ;-)

Anonymous 11:19 AM  


A "near-Natick" should be a Wellesley today, since Hillary is mentioned. ;-)

noreen 11:22 AM  

This was easy except for the NE corner. It was G that puzzled me; Taney was a big name in High School history class so that was easy.
Rex finished in 8 minutes! I can't even read the clues in 8 minutes let alone fill in the answers. How can that be done!

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

While I understand that we all now get to mount our high horses and condemn Roger Taney for his Dred Scott decision, as a matter of law the decision was undoubtedly correct. The problem, of course, is that the Constitution was a product of compromise. Taney's job was to interpret the result of that compromise. That he did, and did correctly. The fault in Dred Scott lies with the Framers, not Taney.

The Framers were great men. They had to deal with the political realities that existed at the time. Pretending otherwise makes us feel superior but is dishonest.

Isabella di Pesto 11:52 AM  

I've read a lot of Civil War history, so Taney was easy. However, never heard of "serin." That was the word of the day for me.

Norm 12:00 PM  

Dull Drab Dumb Daft

Andrew Heinegg 12:20 PM  

As I am also a lawyer, this 'annoyed' me too. When you get named chief judge, that does not open a seat for appointment of a successor. A judge retiring or dying makes for the appointment of a successor to that position. But, the down crosses forced Scalia, whose interpretation of the law and persona is such that I cannot picture him being named chief judge.

Leapfinger 12:28 PM  

@MohairSam, thanks for explaining @Questinia's Framingham. Not knowing Mass geography that well, I just thought that cross made her hypertensive.
@r.alphbunker, considering the cheek-to-cheekiness of the clue, shouldn't ABUT have 2 T's, maybe?
@GeorgeB, I did Todd's Luminaries puzzle; thought the fill on a par, and the theme more interesting, "for the solver".
@NCA Prez, I read your foot-ACRE rant with great interest, found it full of couth and merit. Would you be interested in developing the cubic SMARM as a measure of some blog comments? Would be pleased to collaborate.

@Large, it seems that there is so much overlap in the network/ world of constructors that GB, RP & NYT are just different portals into the same space. It really is not a turf war.

THOU swell! THOU witty!
Wouldst kiss me pretty?
Wouldst hold my hand?
Both thine eyes are cute too;
What they do to me.
Hear me holler,
I choose a Sweet Lollapuzzoola in thee.

Hartley70 12:34 PM  

It filled the time but no delight for me..a dunkin donut of a puzzle. I was flummoxed by the G/THOU although I had it from the crosses. I needed the explanation here. Taney was a gimme and never heard of a SERIN or NAST. Blech!

Masked and Anonym007Us 12:48 PM  

6 4 by 4's. Brain fryin.

On the other hand, fewer blackblocks and words, making for longer fill, on average. Which is what the Shortzmeister had said he was lookin for, in a SunPuz. Kinda like a backdoor anti-weeject campaign, in a sense. Still, I relished both HUH and MII. Grunts and rrn's are always welcome. Nice Gross touches, so to speak?

fave medium-range missile: IDENT. fave long ball: NOGOODNIK.

6 2 by 4's (mostly in honor of Runtpuz Promotion to Ruffle Feathers of Some Exotic Weird Birds Week):

* NODOREMI = {Lacking two nickels to rub together}.
* WEGOINPO = {North Italian campers' slogan}.
* ANUMTOGO = {Closing in on the most snooze-worthy vice-presidential speech in history}.
* OHHIORYO = {Surprised greeting choices}.
* SOSOTOBE = {Amateurish soliloquy opening?}
* SILOANAD = {Yes, Jesus, there it is: the 100th political plug in this half hour of programming}.
...and one more, for y'all to solve...

{Little Gore child's proud claim}.

Ahhhhh.... Feel so much better, now.
Goin on a roadtrip for a coupla weeks. Be goodniks, all U nice folks.


RooMonster 12:59 PM  

Hey M&A! If yer swingin thru Vegas, look me up! MarI can get you to get my computer to work like yours, what with submittin yer own runties to xwordinfo!


RooMonster 1:00 PM  

That would be... maybe you can :-)

r.alphbunker 1:16 PM  

Have a good trip. If you are going to be anywhere near Fairfield, IA please give me a call. I am in the phone book and will travel to where you are.

Fred Romagnolo 1:32 PM  

@Carola: you're implying that Scalia is a racist; I disagree;@Andrew Heinegg was fairer in his assessment. Too many people think conservatives are racists, just as too many people think that liberals are communists. "Moderation in all things." Taney was one of Andy Jackson's front men. @Anon 11:39 is a pretty accurate viewer of the decision. For the opera haters: FLORA is the first word sung by La Traviata in the opera; ha ha! I learned IMARETS & SERIN from crossword puzzles.

RnRGhost57 1:35 PM  

@Casco, good to have you back.

@M&A, safe travels.

Was gearing up to deliver a mini-lecture on Taney and others took care of it already. Waycool. There is balm in Gilead.

Moly Shu 1:37 PM  

@NCAPres, nice. Have a take, don't suck.

Ludyjynn 1:38 PM  

@Cascokid, today's NYT Travel Section highlighted Madagascar on p. 3. Did you encounter any lemurs? What prompted your visit there?

Puzzle was meh, IMO.

Numinous 1:48 PM  

Sigh! DNF. I had a typo: ROTeNI. Oddly enough, I had mac and cheese made with ROTINI last night. We prefer making mac and cheese with ROTINI because the flanges trap more of the cheeses (goat and white cheddar, sometimes parmesan too). What really cheesed me of is I got the TANEY/SARIN cross on a guess but when the Times told me I had at least one error, I tried correcting that N. I finally gave up and clicked on [Check] and discovered the errant "e". I fixed that and replaced the N and voila, victory music. I think the Times ought to acknowledge correct completion but with a cheater help. I'm fairly sure the app could tell if one had googled, etc. or is that a little too much Big Brother?

@Kely Bevava: Welcome back, you were missed. Hope your vacay exceeded all expectations. Seems as if you made some pretty good friends.

I read all the comments almost always. Lately I've been amused by the conflict between the A nonny nonny nos and the Anonynice. I can't take either too seriously because they are unwilling to attach a recognizable name to their posts. Overall, I think that's chicken spit, especially when the posts are filled with vitriol. I like @George Barany's posts. I don't have to follow his links but, sometimes, I do. He has some pretty good puzzles on his site.

A couple of the solutions had ə problems: OVa, OVo, OVI, STETHa, STETHe, STETHi, STETHO, but with patience these and all the solutions resolved themselves. I didn't find this puzzle all that challenging so I was a little disappointed. I guess the biggest challenge here was in the construction but I'm not usually one to sit back and admire the constructors work unless a puzzle, like the previous two, had something outstanding about them.

Steve J 2:17 PM  

Very easy. Very meh. Lots of really awkward partials and abbreviations. Perplexing saturation of Supreme Court figures. Quickly forgettable.

AliasZ 3:03 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
AliasZ 3:07 PM  

Come now, admit it, how many closet skateboarders among us entered OLLIE immediately at 37A?

For some of us who found today's theme a little thin, try to come up with snazzy 4x4 entries without having green paint smeared all over it. It's not that easy. THEY TROD KNEE DEEP, HIGH NOON CAME FAST, KEEP YOUR MIND BUSY, TURN THAT LEAF OVER, HOLD YOUR TRAP SHUT, STEP OVER THAT TURD, etc. wouldn't quite fly, would they?

SHOFAR as the rest of the fill is concerned, I liked ROTINI and ASAMI, and the fact that some of the cluing was a bit, if not over, but pretty darned close to, the edge: JOAN OF ARC with her life at stake, and for the private parts I held up entering LOIN for a long time, not thinking that Will's mind worked the same way as mine did. However, I would have preferred SACHS as the Meistersinger/poet/shoemaker Hans SACHS (1494-1576), but that's just me with EGGON my face.

NOGOODNIK goes unrewarded.
A TENACRE SMARM is a swamp-farm spread over a pretty good-sized estate.

Here is a rather somber end to a lovely weekend, with the end with the oratorio Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher (JOAN OF ARC at the Stake) by Arthur Honegger.

GILL I. 4:28 PM  

Well, I rather enjoyed this puzzle. Did it over brunch with our daughter and her boyfriend. They are new to this game so they were delighted to yell out SAME TIME NEXT YEAR!
No visit to Framingham since I proudly got TANEY. @TokyRacer, I consider myself a "normal" person (sort of) and the TAN in TANEY made me immediately remember him. Dred Scott v. Sanford notwithstanding, what I remembered the most was that his brother-in-law was the author of the Star-Spangled Banner! The things that lurk in the hidey holes of your brain.
I wonder if PESCI likes sushi....

Norm 4:54 PM  

@Anonymous@8:53 & Andrew Heinegg: I have to disagree. Scalia did in fact "succeed" Rehnquist and there is nothing annoying or even questionable the clue. Unlike the position of chief judge of a court of appeal, the position of Chief Justice of the United States is a specific position [please note that the title is not Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court but Chief Justice of the United States]. Rehnquist was not simply elevated to the chief-ship; he was appointed to a totally different position. His seat as an associate justice was then vacant, and Scalia succeeded him. Side note: Remember that Roberts was initially nominated to succeed O'Connor but that nomination was replaced by a completely different nomination to succeed Rehnquist as Chief Justice. Cheers.

old timer 4:57 PM  

I knew Taney, having read the Dred Scott decision in 1961, part of my AP History class. Though when I became a lawyer, I wanted to be like Perry Mason. Certainly not like the detestable Taney. In his era,there were many free blacks, who could vote in some Northern states like Vermont. There was no need for Taney to say that a Negro had no rights the white man was bound to respect. He *could* have simply said that once Scott returned to Missouri, his rights as a citizen and slave were limited by Missouri law.

I thought it was a tough but fair puzzle. I guessed "Same Time Next Year" right away, and was off to the races. Almost. Not every clue was easy to answer first time around, and this is one I started last night and finished this morning.

Unknown 5:26 PM  

Can someone please tell me how "thou" is the correct answer to the clue "G"? (18 down)
I finished the puzzle, but I still have zero idea how or why that's an answer....

NDE 5:27 PM  

Rex's review, in brief:

Good authors too who once knew better words,
Now only use four letter words…



Noam D. Elkies 5:29 PM  

@Courtenay Bouvier THOU = short for thousand = G as in "grand" (and with the unvoiced pronunciation of the th sound in "thou").


wreck 5:31 PM  

Easy to medium for me - but not much to it. I guessed at the N for TANEY and SERIN, but they both sounded right from vague memory. Glad to see Casco Kid back!

OISK 6:11 PM  

Guessed right on Taney-Serin, so only Tuesday's Sunra ruined a perfect week. Shofar was particularly timely, since I heard it blown during Friday (Rosh Hashonah) services. There was a brief discussion of Bush's Presidency yesterday, (worst President?) and Scalia's views today. Just my personal preference, but I don't enjoy controversial political comments here; I stifle my urge to respond so as not to encourage that kind of debate here. The puzzle was certainly less than scintillating, but I enjoyed it. "Tear down this wall" was one of the great lines from our greatest President! ( I am playing the game from the other side here…just kidding around….)

sanfranman59 6:16 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 5:57, 6:03, 0.98, 42%, Medium
Tue 9:29, 7:50, 1.21, 90%, Challenging
Wed 12:32, 9:30, 1.32, 96%, Challenging (12th highest ratio of 247 Wednesdays)
Thu 19:34, 16:57, 1.15, 79%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 14:55, 19:38, 0.76, 13%, Easy
Sat 27:09, 25:57, 1.05, 68%, Medium-Challenging
Sun 24:02, 27:44, 0.87, 24%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:56, 3:57, 1.00, 43%, Medium
Tue 6:25, 5:21, 1.20, 92%, Challenging
Wed 7:30, 6:12, 1.21, 90%, Challenging
Thu 12:36, 10:29, 1.20, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 9:49, 12:34, 0.78, 14%, Easy
Sat 19:12, 17:42, 1.08, 68%, Medium-Challenging
Sun 16:49, 20:46, 0.81, 12%, Easy

History is kind of a hobby of mine, so I'm sure that biases my crossword sphere of trivial knowledge, but surely, everyone learned about Roger TANEY in high school, no? I'm surprised by the number of solvers who struggled with that name. OTOH, I'm sure there are solvers out there who are surprised that I was stumped by EVA LARUE. That, and way too much commitment to ATRA at 117D made the SE my sticking point in this puzzle (I shave with an electric and have never had a blade touch my face).

Z 7:14 PM  

What @Norm said about Scalia succeeding Rehnquist. A little worrisome that lawyers needed this explained, but then that kind of political detail probably plays absolutely no part in a lawyer's actual daily work.

As for the puzzle, perfectly EELY, in the crossword sense of the word.

I've been recalling my Intro Psych class discussions on extinction lately.

Anonymous 7:30 PM  

First time commenter but longtime reader of blog. I miss Loren Muse Smith and her remarks. They are almost better than solving the puzzle

Anonymous 7:48 PM  

Boring, that's what it was.

Several have already defended Taney as being someone who anyone who knows much about U. S. history must regard as important. This is not to endorse or condemn his rulings. Whether right or wrong, his rulings were of major importance.

john towle 9:41 PM  

The greatest speech Reagan ever gave imho was the Normandy speech of June 6th, 1984, on the 40th anniversary of D-day. If you haven't read it or listened to it, you should. It resonates.



Charles Flaster 11:33 PM  

Medium. Two sittings for a total of 18 minutes.
Atra was hard to erase. Got TANEY. as we have seen SERIN before.
Also Taney is a Philly neighborhood the Little League team came from--+--team with the much-publicized female pitcher.
Probably named after Justice Taney.
Loved clue for OBIT.
Thanks TG

paulsfo 1:31 AM  

@Andrew Morrison wrote: "Exxon Valdez was a tanker, not an oiler." But, on another level, Exxon Valdez was a tanker which became an oiler. :)

@AliasZ: The point is not that the puzzle was easy to construct, or was not. It's that it was no fun to solve. But don't feel bad; Mr. Shortz obviously doesn't get this concept, either. ;)

I had to guess at the N in SERIN but this was my fastest solve ever by more than 20 minutes, which made this puzzle, to paraphrase 1984, doubleplusunfun.

Jon 10:00 AM  

Easy theme made for overconfidence. Atra and Boobs were surely a distraction and the clue for Joan was a bit ghoulish. I got egg on my face with NBAer too.

Nancy 10:31 AM  

Quelle snooze. I was busy yesterday with the Variety Cryptic, so I didn't get to this till this morning (Monday). For those of you who were as bored with this as I was, yesterday's Cryptic offers the challenge you're looking for.

jon 10:36 AM  

@ Nancy, Yeah I went to the crossword to get some relief from the cryptic. It's tough.

Unknown 1:21 PM  

@Noam D. Elkies, THANK YOU! (You may pronounce that "th" however you'd like.) I knew it would make me d'oh once I learned, and d'oh I did!

Anonymous 5:19 PM  

before I got Aliases, I had NRA for 31A. Freudian slip???

Anonymous 10:46 PM  

Went DNF on the northern arid plain and I'm a history buff AND a novice birder. Harumpf. But I entirely agree on the lameness. I can't recall a Sunday where I've filled out theme answers without any crosses. Mr. Gorbachov, Tear Down This Grid!

spacecraft 12:27 PM  

I think OHHI is a terribly awkward puzzle entry, but it does bring back memories. For two very short weeks in my youth, I was a door-to-door salesman--would you believe: encyclopedias? Oh yeah. The manager gave us this line: "OH, HI, it's the mister I wanted to see," when the lady of the house (typically) answered the door. This was to confirm that "the mister" was in fact home, as of course you needed both to sign off on the sale. That line left a bad taste in my mouth, because it sounded like you KNEW the mister. One of the reasons I didn't last long.

That little anecdote is about the only interesting thing I could blog about for today's offering. As has been stated, the theme is "meh," but the fill, for a Sunday, is not that bad. That whole NE corner, and down the side, was tougher than the rest, made no easier by my choosing "keep" instead of HOLD to start YOURHEADHIGH. And that Cartoon Hall of Fame guy: I wasted untold time trying to think of a cartoon character to fit in there. No, you idiot, it's a cartoonIST. #headslap

I guessed N at the natick, so finished in average time.

TEARDOWNTHISWALL saves the theme: I think it's one of the greatest 4x4 quotes in all history. I'm actually going to give this one a B. Oops, there's the RRN; add a -.

1305: take that, you dirty rat!

rain forest 12:55 PM  

Here in Canada, we haven't memorized all the US Chief Justice names, particularly from 150 years ago. Likewise, I draw a complete blank on bird's relatives, except for maybe PEWIT. Ergo that SERIN/TANEY cross killed me (I guessed 'T'). Ergo, a DNF on an otherwise easy but quite enjoyable (for me) puzzle.

Nice to have a puzzle with pretty well no crosswordese, that one can get through in about a half hour.

898 Not quite.

Dirigonzo 6:05 PM  

I finished the puzzle but my filled-in grid is not a pretty sight as some of my guesses were pretty creative but wrong. Al cApp is the only old-timey cartoonist to come to mind and bootsup seemed perfect for "Activates, in computer lingo". And so it went all around the grid but eventually I got it all straightened out and even guessed right at the Chief Justice/canary relative cross. I enjoyed learning about Chief Justice Taney from the commentary.

123 - sequential but not consequential.

Anonymous 6:06 PM  

I had no idea what a SERIN was, nor did I know TANEY was a judge.

But, I had the TA_E_, and and I know there is a Taney County, Missouri, so took a stab that the County was named for this judge.

Post-finish, I checked and was right. ((Which lead to the name of Lake Taneycomo (Taney CO. MO.) ))

Anonymous 7:28 PM  

Wow! Is he still alive?
Bet he has some expectant heirs!!

Anonymous 7:44 PM  

I cried out I can't geTaney clues in the
NE but what good is serin that!

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

Tenser for overtime periods,give me a break!

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