Trevor of NBA / WED 2-25-15 / Part of rico roja / Paavo Flying Finn of 1920s Olympics / Final stanza in poem / Mythical bird with enormous wingspan

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Constructor: Michael Shteyman

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Some Midwest capitals

Theme answers:
  • DES MOINES, IOWA (15D: Midwest capital #4)
  • LANSING, MICHIGAN (22A: Midwest capital #1)
  • LINCOLN, NEBRASKA (37A: Midwest capital #2)
  • ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA (46A: Midwest capital #3)
[Arranged in the order in which I solved them—here's how I got into the grid:]

Word of the Day: Trevor ARIZA (49D: Trevor of the N.B.A.) —
Trevor Anthony Ariza (born June 30, 1985) is an American professional basketball player who currently plays for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
• • •

I like this. I liked this from 1A: Part of "rico" or "roja" (ROLLED R), which I got immediately and thought was pretty original. I liked it even more after the weird trivia clue on ONE-EARED (14A: Like the praying mantis, anatomically [weird, but true]). I liked it even after figuring out that "oh, there's not really a theme, it really is just a bunch of Midwest capitals …"  Despite ITTO and -EAL and the whole blah NE. Despite ADD IN instead of ADD ON (23D: Computer extra). I just really liked the NW and SE corners, and I finished in the oddly delightful SW corner, where, perhaps because the grid was not already loaded with names, I was charmed to find Trevor ARIZA hanging out with the PAGAN and the NUTMEG. The NBA is rife with crossworthy names. Surprised we don't see AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE (15!) more—his first name, anyway. He's a six-time All-Star. Anyway, hey there, Trevor ARIZA. I like you at least as well as the Hyundai AZERA. You're welcome.

I feel like my reaction today is slightly upside-down. I don't tend to like constructor-centric puzzles, where the trick is some structural discovery (here, that there are this many Midwest capitals that are also 15s (!) and that can be arranged in this pattern that is multiply symmetrical (rotational, axial … are there others?  arborEAL? orthogonal? petrochemical?). I like themes that focus on solver delight, not feats of construction for their own sake. But this one has the virtue of simplicity, i.e. the constructor's formal gimmick was not annoying or forced or opaque. And the fill surrounding it was frequently interesting or interestingly clued. Plus … I just love the midwest. It's adorable. I mean that sincerely, not patronizingly. I probably would've mean it patronizingly as a kid, but then I lived there for eight years. It always felt friendly and … substantial … to me. Warm. I mean, cold, but warm. I loved California, but what I remember most is sun and freeway. Maybe if I'd lived coastal, like my parents do now. Anyway, I remember some of my coastal peers in arborEAL Ann Arbor actively not enjoying the Midwestern lifestyle, but it was all right by me. From day one. "Hey, the shopkeeps are talking to me. And they're friendly … all right, Midwest, I'm not eating your weird jello-mold concoctions, but you got me. I like it here." Which is exactly how I felt about this puzzle.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Lewis 8:09 AM  

The theme doesn’t exude spark but is serviceable, and despite the theme heaviness, the grid is clean overall. Is it not amazing that the vertical theme answer crosses the other three? The puzzle fought me in Maine and Oregon making the successful solve satisfying. I would have liked some more cleverness in the clues, which should happen on Wednesday, but still this was a solid and likeable puzzle.

I like the anagrammatic STORK/SKORT crossing, and there seems to be a little lesson in the CANTLOSE/DROWN crossing. There’s a mini theme of two-word answers where the last letter of the first word is the same as the first letter of the second word: ONEEARED, LINCOLNNEBRASKA, AAVERAGE, and ITTO. I love the look and feel of NURMI.

I am going on a trip and will return to the blog in a week. Godspeed, all!

chefbea 8:16 AM  

Fairly easy. But it's missing my home town St. Louis Missouri!!! and it's 15 letters!!!

thought envoi would be WOD.

jberg 8:16 AM  

I loved, even with IDEATE, even if my home state Madison is one letter too long. Too bad that ESE couldn't be clued with two theme answers, but that doesn't work.

I'm posting from a crowded, stalled subways, so I'll quit here before I accidentally poke my neighbor.

Lewis 8:17 AM  

Factoid: The STORK is alleged in folklore to be monogamous although in fact this monogamy is "serial monogamy", the bond lasting one season.

Quotoid: “It's a NAIVE domestic Burgundy without any breeding, but I think you'll be amused by its presumption." -- James Thurber

Anonymous 8:27 AM  

@chefbea you do know that st louis is not the capital of missouri don't you?

Unknown 8:30 AM  
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Anonymous 8:32 AM  

Another EBTG link. Thank you. An excellent duo that has been greatly overlooked.

nancy 8:32 AM  

I'm over the playground retorts. Enough.

pfb 8:34 AM  

Pretty fast solve until I got stuck in the NE corner with my BONER(s) being ERRORS and not knowing how to spell AMEBAE (O for the first E). I spent many nights long ago drilling my kids on state capitals; at least one of us benefited from it.

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

I think chefbea must be in a time zone which allows her to be drunk when it is morning for most of us. Or he/she is just drunk in the morning. If only the comments could be typed in slurred speech.

pmdm 8:36 AM  

The puzzle is what it is. Not overawing, but decent. On another blog, Mr.Shteyman states he originally submitted the puzzle to the paper in 1999! Sometimes the wheels of time do turn very slowly.

The poor praying mantis. With only one ear, it can't hear in stereo. Well, most of us can.So here isa PIECE (actually a symphony) that has some nice THEMEs. It's by Joachim Raff, one of the more important composers not commonly known or performed. Important because he taught Liszt how to orchestrate. Forgotten perhaps because some of his contemporaries (Wagner, Bruckner, Tchaikovsky) wrote more compelling orchestrations.

Very late post today.

Dorothy Biggs 8:37 AM  

I once heard a sermon where the minister/pastor/rector/priest said that in places like the Rocky Mountains or in the Northwest, god yells. But in the midwest, god whispers. I grew up in the midwest (about 50 miles from Lincoln) and moved away as soon as I could...that was almost 40 years ago. It has only been recently that I've come to accept that A) I'm from there, and B) I will probably never go back to live, and C) it just isn't my cup of tea, but it's okay I guess.

I wouldn't call the midwest (or the "plains states") "adorable," but there is a certain understated charm that is missed if you don't sit back and let it speak to you in a quiet moment. Gentle hills, corn silos dotting the landscape, even a tall capital building sticking up like a symbol that can be seen at least 10 miles away. It's quiet, understated, simple, and profoundly beautiful.

One side note to all of this: we Nebraskans think of Michigan as "back east." America really should have a middle east where Detroit, Columbus, and Indianapolis live. Chicago is really the beginning of the midwest and it would go as far west as Denver, IMO.

And none of that had anything to do with the puzzle...which was OK. I do not care for the many variations of AMEBA/AMOEBA/AMEBAS/AMEBAE...seriously...can we not come up with a singular spelling for that one-celled organism?

RooMonster 8:38 AM  

Hey All !
Easy-medium here. Got held up in SW, couldn't bring STPAUL into my thought. Kept coming back to Duluth ( which I don't even think is in Minn.) Got the three others easily.

Writeovers: CANTfail, CANTmiss, CANTLOSE, Biota-BEING, oval-DISK, nET-LET, ADDiN-ADDON.

Even though S held me up some, no writeovers under the central 15!

I find it funny how Ohio is considered the Midwest. Shouldn't it be the Mideast?


Bird 8:40 AM  

Liked it despite not agreeing with clue for 64A. Thought the answer would be something like I GOT AN A (I know it doesn't fut but I think you get my point)

Struggled a bit in the west when I couldn't figure out why ADAM Samberg wasn't letting me see the downs. Duh.

Happy Humpday!

chefbea 8:44 AM  

@anonymous 8:35 Joplin would have fit too and I am certainly not drunk...just having my oatmeal to keep warm

Don McBrien 8:45 AM  

Nice puzzle, but didn't know ARIZA and guessed MENEGE FOR 63A. Shame because the rest was pretty easy as I have lived in each place!

Loren Muse Smith 9:01 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 9:02 AM  

Themed puzzles please me for the way the constructor messes around with language. Themelesses amuse me because they're so darn hard. And since I've dipped my toe in the constructress pond, I notice structural things I never would have noticed before. I'm happy with today's offering for several reasons:

1. Now I understand why those damn praying mantises never come when I call them.
2. How cool that DES MOINES, IOWA crosses the other three capitals. Bravo!
3. I enunciated "rico" and "roja" several times, checking to make sure it's indeed a ROLLED R and not a flap or a one-tap trill. Jury's still out. There's an R-boreal difference between perro and pero, right?
4. I was heartened to hear that in some places, NOELS show up after Thanksgiving, unlike here where they're heard starting a bit after Labor Day.
5. RESIGN – both pronunciations. Cool. Just the other day, I was thinking about reside, resort, resent, reserve, and resolve for the same reason. How did I miss RESIGN?????
6. The clue for MONTHS

All in all, Michael, I enjoyed this one.

Gracie H 9:03 AM  

Not sure about the cluing for ENVIES. Doesn't one covet something and envy the person who has it?

Ludyjynn 9:03 AM  

This one played SORTOF medium for me, as I ENTRAPped myself here and there and had to dig out: Adam before ANDY, errors before BONERS.

The praying mantis clue was intriguing. I enjoy occasionally coming across the creatures in my gardens, as they are good for biological pest control and it is fun to actually get to see them since they typically camouflage so well. I laughed at the timeliness of the clue after yesterday's 'fifty shades of' theme, since they commonly engage in sexual cannibalism. Very KAFKAesque, as well.

@Nancy, I echo your comment.

It never ceases to AMAZE me how many state capitals I have forgotten, or maybe never learned in the first place. My bad.

Loved the RRHood clue for NAIVE.

A nice PIECE overall. Thanks, MS and WS.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

@ nancy: are not!

use your tongue 9:13 AM  

Every time I try pronounce ROLLEDR's the result is a BONER.

Elle54 9:21 AM  

Liked the shout out to the Midwest! But really, it's not all that different from anywhere else, I wouldn't stereotype us Midwesterners. There are rude people and friendly people where ever you go

mac 9:27 AM  

Nice puzzle and a very good write-up.

I liked the Rolled R / A average combo, and the resign double meaning. How is this envoi pronounced, the French way, and not like envoy?

I have learned, after many moves, that after being born and raised on the North Sea, I need to be on a coast.

noone 9:35 AM  

Theme was great fun; like playing state caps with my 8 year old granddaughter, who can roll off all 50 states in alpha order. Contrast that with this 3 minute visit to a Texas college:
And did you know that fleas with no hind legs are deaf?

Steve J 9:37 AM  
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Hartley70 9:37 AM  

The only two challenges were ARIZA and ROLLEDR, the latter of which was a nice way to start. You only needed a few letters to get the long answers, but I agree that wasn't as irritating as I would expect. This felt like a solid, upstanding, plain-spoken, good natured Mid-Western puzzle, just as Rex remembered his childhood sojourn there.

Don McBrien 9:43 AM  

Michigan: Good morning there, how are you? I seem to have forgotten my watch. I was wondering if you happened to know what time it is?

New York: Hey, what time is it?

Both approaches have positives and negatives.

noone 9:46 AM  

RooMonster: Ohio is certainly not in the mideast (see Arabia, Libya, Syria, etc.) and it isn't even in this puzzle, though IOWA is. Some of us get those vowel states confused. MICHIGAN is the easternmost of the midwest states mentioned here.

DJG 9:47 AM  

"Surprised we don't see AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE (15!) more—his first name, anyway."

I've used AMARE before in submissions, and it has been singled out by Mr. Shortz as something he specifically didn't like.

The vast majority of the time he calls out iffy fill, I agree, but every now and again there is an AMARE that doesn't make sense.

When you've got barely crossworthy athletes from decades ago like Isao Aoki, Ilie Nastase, and Orel Hershiser getting regular run, why is one of the top NBAers of the past 10 years, who played many seasons in the country's top media market, and gets over a million hits (almost double the other three guys combine) not completely fair game?

But this all gets back to the question of "Who's crossworthy and who isn't?" and that's a tough one to answer.

Steve J 9:50 AM  

I was not enthralled with this flyover puzzle. Instantly forgettable. Sure, neat construction trick to make the capitals fit together as they did, but where's the payoff for the solver? It's just an exercise in remembering state capitals.

@NCA Pres: I kind of like that the Midwest has completely amorphous boundaries and conception. Personally, I consider my home state of Minnesota to be the western edge, with Nebraska, the Dakotas, Kansas being Plains States. And I'd definitely put Michigan and Ohio in the Midwest.

Carola 9:53 AM  

BEING a Midwesterner myself, I appreciated the tribute, but found the puzzle less than zingy. But that's us, I guess. @jberg - I also counted out the letters in Madison, Wisconsin - rats, one too many,.

I liked NORSE over MINNESOTA, with its Vikings and Scandinavian heritage. The student with the A AVERAGE reminded me of Garrison Keillor's MINNESOTA town where all the children are above AVERAGE. I also liked the cross of ST PAUL and PAGAN.

@loren - I thought of you when I read this New Yorker article with its in-depth discussion of comma usage :)

Zwhatever 9:56 AM  

Let me say up front that there is no "official" definition of the "Midwest." Nevertheless, the real Midwest was once the Northwest Territory, Meaning the only actual midwestern capital in the puzzle is LANSING MICHIGAN. The rest are all wannabes.

@LMS - Nice avatar pic. Took me two beats to figure out why you chose it.

@NCAPrez - I can't speak to Nebraska, but the "real" midwest has some great college towns (Madison, Ann Arbor, Columbus come to mind) some great big cities (Chicago, Cincinnati and Indy (which surprises me but friends say it's a great place to walk)), Detroit (which is just a fascinating place to be live), some of the best beaches in the world (South Haven, Saugatuck, Holland), and great local beers and wines. Other than this damnable cold the past two years its a great place to live and visit.

@chefbea - Congratulations!

Whirred Whacks 9:57 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle, Mr. Shteyman.

My home town of Columbus, Ohio was too short to make the cut today. (Left 45 years ago for Palo Alto.)

I long been fond of this quote from newsman Harry Reasoner (from Dakota City, Iowa):
"People who grow up on the coast know one thing. People who grow up in the Midwest but move to the coast know two things."

@NCA President: enjoyed your observations.

dk 10:01 AM  

🌕🌕 (2 mOOns)

When I moved from NYC to St. Paul in 1972 for my last 2 years of college I was shocked to find St. Paul was not on the shore of Lake Superior as I had thought. Then I found out one could not buy alcohol on Sunday and many bars only sold 3.2 beer. Final horror was when TV went off the air at midnight.

This puzzle could have used a little caffeine.

@Don, in NYC you might have been told to perform an impossible sex act when you asked the time. In the midwest you might have heard "oh are you running late" and that is the passive aggressive version of the NYC comment: just sayin!

Unknown 10:04 AM  
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Bob Kerfuffle 10:04 AM  

Nice Wednesday puzzle.

Seemed easy, but I managed to rack up eight written-over letters; won't bore you.

NeilD 10:05 AM  

Glad to see COLUMBUSOHIO omitted - Go Blue! ;P

Unknown 10:06 AM  

Easy enough. There was one white-knuckled whack-a-vowel moment at the end when I had to stare down AM_BAE/_NVOI. oNVOI looked dumb. ENVOI looked better, but perhaps because ENVOY is an English word. I can be suckered pretty easily that way. Going across, AMoBAE/AMEBAE are equally right/wrong. I went with the phonetic spelling of the standard American pronunciation of AMOEBAE, dropped in the E and got it right. That would have been a lousy way to DNF an easy puzzle.

Calling all professors of English: could we please have English words to describe features of English poetry? I don't mind Baudelaire writing ENVOIs but must red-blooded English-language poets also be reduced to writing foofy French ENVOIs? It speaks of a vacancy in our language, does it not? If my Welsh/midwestern-bred granddad were here, he'd chime in "Quelle dommage!" ;)

Numinous 10:17 AM  

I can't say that I'm "over the playground retorts." There are so many possible in that "tone of voice" I have to RESIGN myself to getting a cross or two to figure them out. Off the top of my head there are two with four letters, two with six letters and five with five letters.

I learned today! I discovered that there is a ONE EARED creature, something I'd never heard of.
I never knew or it never occurred to me that Mr. Lincoln was the first hirsute president.
I also learned about the poetic ENVOI which can also come at the head of a poem though not with the same potential for amusement. See G. K. Chesterton's poem in the Wikipedia article on ENVOI.

Ok, now this is, I'll OWN (with "up), really petty. I felt the clue for EL SOL was too general. I don't know what the flag of Argentina looks like so it could have any number of symbols on it." The symbol on the flag of Argentina" might have been a better clue but I rather like the idea of either "The source of calor por la tierra," or "The source of luz por la tierra." Oh well, maybe those would be better as T-S clues. I don't believe those two Spanish words are terribly difficult to figure out even if a couple of crosses are requierd to get the answer which I needed to get EL SOL anyway.

Like yesterday's puzzle, I found this one to be PIE LIKE. I did it in a bit less than half my Wednesday times of late. The short answers didn't seem to be terribly dreckky though ESE did catch my attention. I thought the theme was well executed and enjoyed how the answers revealed themselves with a few crosses. The numbers in the clues had me thinking that they referred somehow to somebody's ranking of the state capitols before I realized they were sequential relative to their position in the puzzle. Too bad, that might have been a cool gimmick. Overall, goog job, Dr. Shtyman.

John V 10:18 AM  

I found it difficult and annoying. I appreciate the technical feat of all the 15s, but it comes off aa just a list. Seems to me that a theme should aid the solver. Little of that on the go here.

Not my cuppa.

Sir Hillary 10:20 AM  

OK, the constructor discovered an interesting formation for four related phrases. And...?

The best I can say is that he constructed a decent puzzle around this ho-hummer of a THEME, the execrable AMEBAE notwithstanding.

Actually, the best I can really say is that I loved the clue for month -- that's a very good one.

Here is my starting five, crossing genders and lifespans:
-- Trevor ARIZA
-- Derrick ROSE
-- LEN Bias (RIP, 22 ISTOO young to die)
-- SUE Bird (from the WNBA, although not the short-lived Miami SOL)
-- Magic Johnson (from LANSINGMICHIGAN)
Granted, I'm SORTOF heavy on distributors and light on rebounders, but there's NOEND to the fun they would bring to any ARENA. At minimum, they CANTLOSE to sorry CLUBS like the Knicks or 76ers.

AliasZ 10:23 AM  

Solid puzzle today by Michael Shteyman. One Midwest capital crossing and tying together three others that span the grid was a pleasure to see, straightforward and trick-free, but a neat accomplishment regardless. It could not have been easy to do.

I do roll my R's. The best place to learn how to do it is in belly-dancing class. It also occurred to me that the clue "Feature of 'rico' or 'roja'" could have been used for NOELS, and "Feature of infinity" for NOEND. I did not like the FOD (fill of desperation) AMEBAE. I guess "var." has been permanently abandoned by Will Shortz in favor of "?". STORK crossing its own anagram was fun to see, as was to learn that a praying mantis is ONE EARED. But I won't touch BONERS with a 10' fishing rod.

One day when I have lots of time I will catalog all playground retorts and publish them in a book titled "The Worst. Ever. FODs". So far I have: ISTOO, is not, is so, are too, am too, I'm not, I'm too, I'm so, am so, are so, am not, are not, do too, do not, does too, does so, does not, did so, did not, did too. Missed any?

Within the last few days I watched "The Time Machine", "Tom Thumb" and "7 Faces of Dr. Lao", all directed by legendary Hollywood director/producer/special-effects designer, and winner of multiple Oscars, George PAL (György PÁL Marczincsak; 1908–1980). I am still waiting for him to make it into a NYT puzzle, a perfectly legitimate clue for Wed-Sun. I guess he does not pass the NYT breakfast test for some unknown reason. Instead, today we get ANDY (who?) and ARIZA (who?). If Mr. ARIZA is from Phoenix, all is forgiven.

There is one PIECE of music that best fits today's THEME: ST. PAUL's Suite composed by Gustav Holst in 1912 (published in 1922 with revisions). It is named after the ST. PAUL's Girls' School in London, where Holst was Director of Music from 1905 to 1934, in gratitude to the school for having built a soundproof studio for him. The most famous of many PIECEs Holst wrote for the students at ST. PAUL's, the suite is performed here by the ST.PAUL Chamber Orchestra conducted by Christopher Hogwood.

Have a joyful Wednesday.

Masked and Anonymo3Us 10:30 AM  

Wow. This puppy had me at the openin 5-stack of weejects. EAL! Cantlose, with a one-ealed, one-horned, 70-word WedPuz.

@63: Right with U, on yer midwest nostalgia trip. Used to live near St. Paul, Minnesota, in my younger snow-shoein days.

Where's the one ear located, U mantiseses?!? Y'all must not buy many stereos.



** gruntz **

Zwhatever 10:48 AM  

If you ever wonder why Michigan's fight song (the university, not the state's) includes the line "the champions of the west," this might help.*

And if you are one of those poor souls who hates geography because you were forced to memorize state capitals way back when, Vox Maps is a great place to spend an afternoon.

I am in the "word play is better than trivia" camp, but this puzzle is a well-done example of a trivia based theme. The "theme" is tight, the fill is clean (notwithstanding AMŒBA). So, not quite the love Rex showered on it, but still a thumbs up.

*Actually that lyric is a reference to "the Western Conference," a former name of the Big Ten, so the map actually suggests an explanation of why "the Western Conference" consisted of teams east of the Mississippi in 1898.

Joseph Michael 11:16 AM  

This puzzle at first was hard for me and a reminder that geography is not my strong suit. Had DETROIT before LANSING and struggled to remember LINCOLN.

Also had ADAM Samberg before ANDY and forgot that Ali has a daughter named LAILA. Eventually it all fell into place but, while I was impressed by the construction, I was only OK with the theme. Made me feel like I was in fifth grade again where on the playground "LANSING ain't the capital of MICHIGAN" gets the retort: "IS TOO."

mathguy 11:23 AM  

@Z: I wouldn't have caught the Vincent avatar without your comment. Thanks.

@LMS:My born-in-Spain father would laugh at ny inability to roll my Rs. Not only would the word for dog (perro) come out as the word for but (pero), but I would further mangle the word so that it sounded like the Spanish word for fart. Much hilarity would ensue.

jae 11:24 AM  

Easy if you paid attention in the sixth grade. The toughest part for me was SW where ARIZA was a WOE.

This is about the seventh or eighth time I've forgotten NURMI and needed the crosses to get him. I have the same problem with the island nation of NAURU. Probably something to do with the Us (M&A?).

Interesting theme, liked it. Best answer ROLLED R.

old timer 11:33 AM  

Iowa ISTOO in the Midwest, and I think it is fair to include Minnesota. Missouri is iffy. You'd have to say that Kansas City is where the plains states begin, and Southern Missouri is more like Arkansas or Oklahoma. But St. Louis, Hannibal, all those places on the Mississippi are just as Midwestern as Illinois across the river. Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas: Plains States.

Of course as a Californian I think of all those places as "Back East."

Good puzzle, I thought. I was surprised Rex liked it, but there you are.

Elephant's Child 11:37 AM  

@NCAPrez et allye AMEBAE-complainants, Since the shape is variable, why not the name?

@Don McBrien
Southern States: Say, you wouldn't happen to have [not 'know'] the time, would you?

@Z, it also took me a couple of beats to figure out @LMS' avatar, so don't bite my head off.

@CascoK, may I offer "Quel fromage!" for future use? Bon ENVOIage!

Good DreamTeam, @SirHillary. I remember the last game, without Bias.

@Anonymoron 0827, 0835
Now that you've proven that you are lower than a snake's belly, you can stop.

@Alias, there's some more which are pure Can't: can not, can so, can too. All that really makes of 'can't' a bile.
Not sure about the ten-foot Pole, but a 5-foot Hungarian thinks BONER refers to the Speaker of the House. Did phonetics create an ERROR?

Wednesdays are looking up.


Elephant's Child 11:39 AM  

@NCAPrez et allye AMEBAE-complainants, Since the shape is variable, why not the name?

@Don McBrien
Southern States: Say, you wouldn't happen to have [not 'know'] the time, would you?

@Z, it also took me a couple of beats to figure out @LMS' avatar, so don't bite my head off.

@CascoK, may I offer "Quel fromage!" for future use? Bon ENVOIage!

Good DreamTeam, @SirHillary. I remember the last game, without Bias.

@Anonymoron 0827, 0835
Now that you've proven that you are lower than a snake's belly, you can stop.

@Alias, there's some more which are pure Can't: can not, can so, can too. All that really makes of 'can't' a bile.
Not sure about the ten-foot Pole, but a 5-foot Hungarian thinks BONER refers to the Speaker of the House. Did phonetics create an ERROR?

Wednesdays are looking up.


aging soprano 11:55 AM  

Will miss your fact/quotoids. Have fun and return safely. And dress warm.

M and Also Symmetrical 11:56 AM  

@jae: yep. Puz solvers have sorta been conditioned, not to expect many U's in their grids.

While I'm here, top proposed crossword symmetries (some have aliases):
1. Paranormal.
2. Mayoral or Senatorial or Gubernatorial or Dictatorial.
3. Amoral or Abnormal.
4. Abysmal.
5. Oriental.
6. Oedipal.
7. Emotional or Sentimental.
8. Whimsical.
9. Medieval.
10. Sasquatchruntennial.
11. Narwhal?


JFC 12:15 PM  

Have they legalized pot in Binghamton?


GILL I. 12:33 PM  

I do loves the ROLLED R...@Loren your perro/pero is a good example of how tricky they R. I still believe you have to be very young to master a second or third language without being intimidated by pronunciation.
@Leapster...I ALWAYS thought he pronounced his name BONER. It's the same Speech deficit I have with Weiner..
I enjoyed this nice, fresh puzzle. Went a bit too fast but still it made me happy.
I only really know Oklahoma. Is that in the midwest...or is it more plains?
We drove through all these places and the people were all polite. Not quite as polite as the Sacramentans (they don't smile as much as we do) but it beats Nice, France where the bread lady practically throws her baguette at you.

Martel Moopsbane 12:37 PM  

We here in Connecticut think of Ohio as the Western Reserve.

Leapfinger 12:44 PM  

FYI: Insects' ears aren't the sort we'd normally visualize with a pearl ear-bob. They are really just some kind of sensory organ designed to pick up certain frequencies. As the Baroness mentioned, fleas lacking hind legs are 'deaf' since their 'ears' are located on their hind knees, the same [as I happen to know] as crickets. Which is why, as Steven Wright has observed, it should be no surprise to see a cricket with a Q-tip in its knee.
The fact that the preying mantis is ONE-EARED had me IDEATE that its location is likely to be midline, and that does sem to be the case, though sources vary as to whether the location is deep in the thorax, or in the abdomen just forward to the hind legs. Since there's such a thing as a 'wandering eye', perhaps we have hear a 'wandering ear'.
I think we've all heard about the females cannibalizing their mates in mid-act, but today I learned that the males seems to be better lovers after beheading, since the brain controls inhibition. The effect is less reproducible than 50 Shades of Prey, but maybe still something to think about, no?

Like @Numi, I flashed on PIELIKE,at least for that central PIECE.

Thought the wide-open feel of the theme to be just capital. As one Chicagoan pointed out, Springfield, Ill is a themer manque. I knew that there is a sufficiency of Springfields, but was surprised to discover that 32 states contain at least one. Unfortunately, Illinois would have to be abbreved, and those in Utah/Ohio aren't capitals. Still, kind of a cool factoid.

Least favourite area - midWest, with NOEND to ADOPT ITTO SPACY IDEATE. Favourite PAGAN THEME - how well MEN AGE AMAZES.

Now IOTA run some errands before everything freezes over again. As they say, ENTRAPy runs downhill, and I should TOO.

Lewis 12:48 PM  

@aging 11:55 -- thank you for your kind wishes!

john towle 12:53 PM  

A few of you up there, next time you look at a map of the contiguous 48 check out Jefferson City, also in the Mid-West.

Best American brew: Spotted Cow from New Glarus, Wisconsin. You'll have to go to Monroe or New Glarus of Green County in southern Wisconsin to get it. It's not exported out of state.

I think it was Henry Kissinger who said "Show me a logical hippie and I'll show you a Harry Reasoner."



Unknown 1:16 PM  

@LMS, following @Z and @Elephant's Child, I had to go suss your avi. Hmmm. A new meta to solve. Hmmm. Fortunately this one was right on the surface, unlike my approach to the AVC meta last week, which required statistics of letter frequency. I was fully prepared to Fourier transform the image and look for "Paul is Dead" in the bit noise, when I took a gander at the puz. I may be famously tin-eared to various forms of subtlety, but at least I have 'em both! Nice work! :)

mathguy 1:49 PM  

@LMS: I'm slow today. I needed @Z to get your avatar choice. Also, I needed to read it a couple of times to get @AliasZ's line about learning to roll your R's in belly dancing class.

My born-in-Spain dad would make fun of me about my inability to roll my R's when I was a kid. I would try to say dog in Spanish (perro) and it would come out as the word for "but" (pero). Even more hilarious was when I said "pedo," the word for fart.

Lojman 2:24 PM  

This puzzle confirms what we around here have known for a long time: DESMOINESIOWA is the center of just about everything.

@SteveJ - "I kind of like that the Midwest has completely amorphous boundaries and conception". Um...huh? Like the straight borders between states in New England are all based on logic? It's one of the great joys of political maps - some of it makes sense, much of it doesn't.

Ran very quick for a Wednesday, but I have been helping my 2nd grader learn the states and capitals. I highly recommend this catchy tune:

@Rex, c'mon back to the Midwest any time.


AliasZ 2:24 PM  

There is one additional THEME I would like to present: a PIECE by Niccolò PAGAN-ini called "La campanella" (the little bell), actually the closing movement of his Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, and its transformation into a dazzling Piano Etude in G-sharp minor by Franz Liszt.

As you were.

Andrea 2:32 PM  

Hear! Hear!
Greetings from Chicago :^)

wreck 2:48 PM  

Oklahoma is actually considered part of the Southwest, but "Plains" is certainly acceptable. I would have a hard time classifying Kansas as anything other than a "Plains" state.
This was an ok Wednesday, probably on the easier side of medium for me.

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

You forgot to gripe about 24D, "Constantly" = NO END. I feel like the parts of speech do not match here, "constantly" is more like "with no end" than just "no end".

chefwen 2:59 PM  

Grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan and was very happy to leave when we figured out that there were places to live that didn't require 10 layers of clothes to stay warm. Haven't looked back.

Little kitty Rice was toying with a praying mantis just yesterday. Would NOT let avatar join in the fun even though Bucky is about 20 times larger than she is. I got to throw away what was left of his poor one eared body this morning. Yuck!

Benko 3:03 PM  

I believe I have spoken of my love of basketball before. But I won my fantasy league last year in part because of Trevor ARIZA. He wasn't a popular pick but he played amazingly well for the Washington Wizards last season and I will always love him for that. Great to see him in the puzzle and as Rex's word of the day.

Zwhatever 3:11 PM  

Today's Pearls Before Swine just because.

@Lojman - Where is the "Midwest?" is a matter of some debate, unlike "New England," which is six states and only those six states (The researcher I linked to made some mistakes. But what can you expect from a New Yorker asking this question? )

@LMS's avatar pics are worth deducing - one of the many reasons she is missed when she's too busy to comment.

Thomas808 3:37 PM  

I started this puzzle late Tuesday night with a tired, irritable brain. The NW was great, but then the rest of the North started pushing my buttons with variant spellings and more. IDEATE? SPACY (should be spacey, right?), LAILA (I was sure it was Layla, wrong!), ENVOI (never heard of it), DISc instead of DISK. The ultimate was AMEBAE, grr. It’s bad enough to use the anglicized version, omitting the “O” that comes from the original Greek diphthong, but if you’re going to do so, shouldn’t you be required to also use the anglicized plural “S”, not the “AE”? I put the puzzle away and went to bed. Woke up this morning with brain restored and dispatched the rest of the puzzle in normal Wednesday time and the universe was returned to a bright and cheery place. Amazing what a good night’s sleep can do.

Regarding “amoeba”, my dictionary defines “ameba” as a variant of “amoeba”, and defines “amebiasis” as a “disease caused by amoebas”! It defines “amoebiasis” as a variant of “amebiasis”. So for the bug itself, the variant is the word that omits the “oe” but for the medical condition, the variant is the word that uses the “oe”. Got to love this crazy language English!

allan 3:39 PM  

I made this much harder than it was because of stubbornness. I knew Adam was wrong, yet couldn't take it out. Same in some other spots where I knew I had wrong answers. Overall, a nice Wednesday, although until I got here, I thought it was Thursday.

@Lewis We'll miss you. Safe trip.
@Whirred Whacks And people who grow up in the east but move to the Midwest know three things.
@Numinous Lincoln didn't wear a hair suit, he just had a beard.


Ztown 3:59 PM  

Probably too late for him to see this but @ NCA mouth dropped open because I'm from Indianapolis and have always thought there should be a term "Mideast" for Mich, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois! Very different from the Plains states....but hey, we are all just considered "fly over" country to many on both coasts.

Steve J 4:37 PM  

@Lojman: @Z captured what I was getting at: There's little consensus regarding which states constitute the Midwest. Other regions have stronger definitions (e.g., there's little argument over which states are part of New England). Although, most everything seems to be a little squishy depending on one's frame of reference. When I moved to California from Chicago, I found it endlessly amusing that people thought I was from "out east".

Carola 5:41 PM  

@Steve J - Yes, on a trip to Portland after my senior year in high school, I was astonished when I talked to a kid there who was going to go to college "back East" - Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. Funny how we all have a different feel for the Midwest: for me, anything west of Minnesota and Iowa definitely count as furrin parts.

aging soprano 6:03 PM  

The praying mantis has plenty of extra eyes to make up for its lost ear.
Did anybody mention that both Abe and Lincoln made it into the puzzle. Also ROLLEDR is almost in the symmetrcal position to AAVERAGE.
I liked the clues for:
I was born and raised in the Midwest( Illinois' Springfield would require 19 squares) but have lived in the Mideast for many years. Capitals of the Middle East. Now that would make a morbid theme for the Xword.

aging soprano 6:04 PM  

The praying mantis has plenty of extra eyes to make up for its lost ear.
Did anybody mention that both Abe and Lincoln made it into the puzzle. Also ROLLEDR is almost in the symmetrcal position to AAVERAGE.
I liked the clues for:
I was born and raised in the Midwest( Illinois' Springfield would require 19 squares) but have lived in the Mideast for many years. Capitals of the Middle East. Now that would make a morbid theme for the Xword.

Teedmn 6:22 PM  

@Roo Monster, yes, Duluth (Du-loot, as we sometimes call it when using our Fargo accents) is in MN - the one in GA was named after the one in MN. But it's just across the bridge from Superior, WI, so a border city.

I spent a couple of days in Jefferson City, MO and some locals bought my husband and me beers, which is probably friendlier than you'd find in the Twin Cities (depends on the bar, I suppose).

Nice puzzle, and I loved the clue for RESIGN. I have dark ink blotches in both the NE and North Central so those were most challenging for me but a good finish. Thanks, Mr. Shteyman!

michael 7:30 PM  

There is no agreement about what states are in the midwest. My own view is that consists of the states in the old Big Ten (when the Big Ten had ten teams instead of the current 14) . Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio.

Though when I was growing up in Philadelphia, I thought Pittsburgh was in the midwest.

Mike (in Iowa since 1978)

stan wagon 8:19 PM  

The Vikings visited northern Newfoundland at l'Anse aux Meadows. It is not impossible that they visited Nova Scotia but it is really completely unknown. Thus I consider the clue for Norse to be wrong.

Ironically, the Kensington rune stone is good evidence that they visited Minnesota in 1362. The hoax view is widespread but in my opinion it is genuine. The book by Alice Kehoe makes a strong case.

Nancy 9:49 PM  

Got to this very late today. Found it more challenging and more fun than most Wednesdays, with much better cluing.

Aketi 10:12 PM  

@Aliasz, loved your FODs

Unknown 10:02 AM  

How do you know the theme of a puzzle? I download and print the daily puzzle through my NYT crossword subscription but there is never a title/theme at the top. Only the constructor(s)' name. I was stuck on today's pyzzle until I logged onto Rex Parker who said the theme is ''half words'. I am so frustrated If anyone knows, please help. Thx.

Zwhatever 10:32 AM  

@Bob Eisen - Themes have to be figured out. Sometimes sussing out the theme can help you solve. Sometimes the theme will provide an "Aha" moment. Sometimes, like today, it just ties answers together. You have to be careful with Rex's themes as well. He plays it straight 99% of the time, but occasionally he'll throw a curve ball.

Unknown 3:11 PM  

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Anonymous 9:30 AM  

Well, this was an early one for me. Couldn't sleep, rate the puzzle Easy, and now out to do some early watering. With California's ongoing drought you have to almost sneak around so the neighbors don't see you with a hose in your hand. We've cut our consumption by 40% from last year so I DON'T CARE. We have too many valuable plants and trees to turn everything into a desert.

Am I #1 of the Syndies to comment? Lordy me, aint that something.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA

rondo 9:37 AM  

Hey @Spacey – 1a one of your favorites? And then there’s the RD leaving from Vegas at 54d. With all those 3s I’m surprised there’s no RRN. But there’s also a SPACY for ya.

Shout out for STPAULMINNESOTA my current work location and home to the Pioneer Press which I’ve been reading for all these years and in which I can scribble this puz – in pen. (Mpls. Star-Tribune only in emergencies).

I’ve been to all of these capital cities, the last being LANSINGMICHIGAN about 5 years ago and was fortunate enough to catch a Marcia Ball performance in a small semi-private club.

Hey Ron Diego soooo early! You’re doing the right thing with the water, IMHO.

Easy puz, but as the Brits might say – capital!

Burma Shave 10:27 AM  


BEING mistake-prone to NOEND makes us laugh
about ONEEARED LEN and his PAL ABE who were loners.
It SORTOF AMAZES us they’ make such a NAÏVE gaffe
like failing a MENAGE with SUE DEY ‘cause of BONERS.


spacecraft 11:49 AM  

From the ridiculous to the...well, hardly sublime. Yes, @rondo, the single-letter crap at 1a--and 62a--needs to join the scrap heap. In fact, there's NOEND of fill here that leaves the proverbial bad taste. ONA EAL IDEATE (in the "no one ever actually SAYS that" category) ITTO ISTOO--and all other "playgroung retorts," plus the overworked crutch ESSEN.

ADDIN two obscure athletes--on a Wedensday yet!--and what is the payoff for all this dreck? A list of state capitals?? That's IT??? Sorry, fearless one, but I couldn't disagree more. I still have the feeling that Mr. Shortz has gone on vacation. To Michael: "leave ITTO the pros." D-.

NM Robin 12:19 PM  

According to the U.S, Census Bureau, there are twelve states in the Midwest USA: Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska.
Enough said.

Puzzle was OK.

rain forest 2:10 PM  

It's so much simpler here in Canada where there are probably 3 midwest capitals: Regina, Saskatchewan; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Edmonton, Alberta. However I have to say that these cities are always referred to as "western" locales. That's the way it is up here.

As for this puzzle--OK, if you like this sort of thing.

I was once in a SORT OF MENAGE. Good memory.

Wow. Numbers again. 241 = 7. Also got a dancing robot.

DMS 2:58 PM  

Can name all the states, but just can,t learn the capitals. Once even bought a book designed to,teach them with mnemonics. Let's see Albany has something to do with an owl.... At any rate book hit out box, and I still struggle! Thus with a starting ST and a U out there, I confidently penned in STloUismissouri (Hi @chefbea). Finally eked out the MINNESOTA part, and had to rest my head for a bit before latching onto STPAUL. And, if hasn't been for the I in MINNESOTA, I'd still be wondering where DESMOINES is, thinking for a bit that perhaps the state name was abbreviated!

While being part of a military family means I,ve lived a lot of places even Dayton at one time. I'm a Californian at heart, born here, lived here until after the War, and returned when Dad retired. As a result, all the states east of Colorado fall into what I consider "back east" - no experience with the "out East" cited by someone above.

At any rate I finally surmounted the geography challenge only to fail at AMoBAE. Knew enough to mark oNVOI as questionable, but not enough to change it.

Thanks to @leapfinger for the treatise on insects. Now will go look at @LMS's avatar.

1953= a winner!

Anonymous 5:16 PM  

I allllmost got screwed up by the praying mantis clue, because they are also FOUREYED, but I could tell the downs wouldn't make sense with that.

Anonymous 7:42 PM  

Me too! Nyah Nyah Nyah!!!

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