Subject of repeated warning at Woodstock / WED 2-28-18 / Actress Lisi of How to Murder Your Wife / Classical musician whose given name is toy / Canadian filling station / Position in crew informally / Cookie since 1912 / Modern prefix with warrior

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Trigonometric functions — abbrs. of trig functions embedded in themers (with TRIG embedded in center answer)

Theme answers:
  • STAY INSIDE (17A: Is a recluse)
  • TACO STAND (21A: Shell station?)
  • LEFT, RIGHT (35A: When repeated, marching orders?)
  • WACO, TEXAS (46A: City on the Brazos River)
  • MORSE CODE (52A: Where S is ...)
  • MUSIC SCHOOL (58A: Place where students are graded on a scale?)
Word of the Day: VIRNA Lisi (29D: Actress ___ Lisi of "How to Murder Your Wife") —
Virna Pieralisi (pronounced [ˈvirna pjeraˈliːzi]; 8 November 1936 – 18 December 2014), better known as Virna Lisi [ˈvirna ˈliːzi], was an Italian actress. Her film appearances included How to Murder Your Wife (1965), Not with My Wife, You Don't! (1966), Beyond Good and Evil (1977), and Follow Your Heart (1996). For the 1994 film La Reine Margot, she won Best Actress at Cannes and the César Award for Best Supporting Actress. (wikipedia)
• • •

Completely unremarkable theme. The embedded abbrs. are all really common (less than desirable) crossword answers, and there was no revealer (I'd hardly call that central answer a real revealer) or wordplay or anything, so theme-wise there was no real interest here. I mean, even if you're really into math, I just don't see how there's much here for you, and from a crossword perspective, there's really nothing. You don't need the theme, don't need to know anything about trig, etc. Embedding very short letter strings in longer answers is not hard at all. The theme type is old, as is almost everything about this puzzle, which feels straight out of ... well, decades ago. VIRNA Lisi??? You always gotta be careful with your proper nouns, but especially with older, obscure proper nouns, when your puzzle is already creaking with crosswordese. VIRNA next to ENIAC next to GTOS ... says quite a lot about this puzzle's cultural center of gravity. Then there's the fill, which is very stale on the whole OSHA DIAS ECCE all abutting one another; ESSO crossing OSS; IWO ANS HOS CLIC ... it's very, very rough and stuffy. THANI? HAD ON *and* THREW ON, not just repeating "ON" but repeating the sartorial meaning of "ON"? Puzzle reminds me of the sandwich my wife was served the other night—tough and lukewarm, like it had been sitting out under an insufficiently-powered heat lamp for some time.

I did find the puzzle interesting where my own personal failures were concerned. Sometimes my brain just refuses to process information correctly. I can be humming along, destroying a puzzle, and then I hit a perfectly ordinary clue and for some reason the wheels just come off. The patch of the grid in the northwest, from LOW to VIRNA (inclusive), was quicksand for me today. VIRNA because what the hell?—getting stuck there was not surprising—but LOW? LOW did not make any sense to me until after I was done with the puzzle. I kept looking at the clue thinking "I don't get it. [Gear for going up hills]? LOW? Surely it's TOW ... like TOW bar ... LOW what? Is there some weird rebus happening here?!" I sincerely didn't think of LOW as a gear *on an automobile* until after I was finished. Skiing "gear" was the only gear my brain was entertaining. Bizarre. I don't think I've ever put an automatic transmission in LOW. Maybe it's not called LOW on my car? I remember very well using 1st or 2nd, when I had a manual transmission. Anyway, LOW as a "gear" just baffled me. Ridiculous (by which I mean *my brain* is ridiculous). I also couldn't parse HIT A NERVE to save my life. HIT AN... and I all I can think is HIT AND RUN (which fit, but of course made no sense). If the latter part of HIT A NERVE hadn't involved VIRNA, maybe I'd've gotten traction more quickly. Also had God in mind when I encountered 25D: Lord's subject (SERF), because two seconds earlier I'd encountered 23D: Lord's Prayer possessive (THY). Phew. So LOW-to-VIRNA, disastrous for me. The rest, no memory. Very, very easy.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:31 AM  

March 14th. Pi day? We're a couple weeks away.. Why did I see an ad on Facebook for a pi day electronics sale today? Weird.

- cz

a.corn 12:31 AM  

the clue for MUSICSCHOOL fell flat. Or sharp. Either way there was an accidental which makes me want to give it an F, or an E sharp. Also gimme something better than LSD for that clue. It was ACID, specifically the brown acid...pretty sure taking at Woodstock LSD was kosher as kreplach.

Tom 12:39 AM  

Faster than my Wednesday average, and my last entry was VIRNA. Skews very old, with BRECHT, THOMAS, even AXLROSE. Have a problem with the legitimacy of RETOW. When has that ever happened to anyone? Anyone?

Could have used a more clever clue for 44d given the 50th anniversary of Sergeant Pepper. At least that would have skewed dated/modern!

Harryp 12:44 AM  

Three easy puzzles in a row. Hope tomorrow will be more challenging.

Anonymous 12:46 AM  

How am I supposed to sleep tonight after seeing that picture of Myrna Loy? Seriously, you had to find the one unattactive picture of her in existence and promulgate it to the universe?

mathgent 12:54 AM  

As you might expect, I loved it. But not because it had embedded trig functions. Because of the delightful cluing. The best was "Where S is ..." for MORSECODE. And there were at least six more winners.

This is Peter A. Collins's hundredth crossword published here. I don't remember seeing his byline that often.

TomAz 12:58 AM  

What Rex said, mostly. LOW was not a problem for me at all.

I like math. I was a math major in college. Trig is easy. But as Rex noted three letter embeds are easy too.

I finished below my Tuesday average time, on a Wednesday. And I didn't have a clue who VIRNA was.

The cluing was about 3 parts rote to 1 part interesting. Of note: 52A "Where S is ..." 54D "Mayo parts" 21A "Shell station" and esp 50A "Gear for going up hills." Also perhaps 10D "Lee side". I think I'm forgetting one.

My biggest gripe for this puzzle though is dated math geekdom: I am used to 'cotan' and 'cosec' for COT and CSC. Que sera sera. QED.

Mike in Mountain View 1:30 AM  

Congratulations to @LMS, now that the strike is over. I hope the 5% raise goes through and the insurance rate issues get resolved.

Puzzle was easy. Agree with @mathgent that the cluing was good.

The trigonometry theme and the lack of a revealer reminds me of Tom Lehrer's Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky song and the power of titles when it comes to mathematical themes.

Metro-Goldwyn Moskva buys the movie rights for six million rubles;
Changing title to 'The Eternal Triangle'
With Ingrid Bergman (not VIRNA Lisi) playing part of hypotenuse

Larry Gilstrap 1:32 AM  

A puzzle based on the theme of abbreviated TRIG functions? I'd call that a revealer, up-front and almost center. My print out showed shaded squares, or otherwise I would have been clueless and by the time I got to the bottom I'm stuck with CSC? To avoid being derided for not knowing that and asking the honest question WTF?, my phone tells me it's short for cosecant. OFL calls it a "completely unremarkable theme" and I have no further remarks.

The thing was easy enough and I did know VIRNA Lisi, but note to self: make your V's distinct from U's from now on. Solving on paper is the standard in some venues.

No comment on the muzzleloading firearms clue, other than to say that in another life as a math major, my nickname in college was RAMROD. We'd sit around the dorm fashioning musket balls and taping out MORSE CODE knock knock jokes.

Come on math people, give me a reason to love this puzzle!

Trombone Tom 1:33 AM  

What @Rex said. Pretty easy.

It's interesting to me that some of us already may be forgetting what low, second, and high referred to in this age of automatic shifts.

Kind of favored us seniors, what with Eniac and Virna.

puzzlehoarder 1:46 AM  

One of the easiest Wednesday's ever. Even solving on a phone this came in at Monday on paper time. I did try to fit a Y into AXL but that caused little slow down.

It was interesting to see all the TRIG abbreviations in one place as I'm largely unfamiliar them. This was really like solving a beginner level themeless.

Anonymous 2:05 AM  

RETOW is this week's BATCHED. Not a word, unnecessary, and cacophonous

sanfranman59 3:20 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 3:40 4:09 0.89 13.8% Easy (almost goes without saying with an ACME puzz)
Tue 4:08 5:47 0.73 2.8% Very Easy
Wed 6:47 6:07 1.11 67.6% Medium-Challenging

I don't think I solved this one very well as it felt pretty easy. I usually solve during my lunch break at work, but decided to do this one before I hit the sack tonight. Perhaps this explains the discrepancy between my solve time and my sense of the puzzle's difficulty.

I got stymied trying to get into the north instead of continuing into the center where my momentum had been taking me. For some reason, my habit is to try to start in the NW and work my way east. In this case, I'd have been better served heading SE.

My major snafu was convincing myself that 36D was 'endemic' before reading the clue, then not noticing that it didn't fit and ending up with EndemMIC. Here's where I'm thinking that a fresher brain might have helped a lot. Nothing really gave me particular trouble (though RETOW was a low point) and I flew through a lot of it. A bunch of fun clues and Scrabblyness. Thumbs up.

NickB 4:10 AM  

One additional theme attribute that has been overlooked so far: reciprocal trig functions are positioned opposite one another.

Moly Shu 4:14 AM  

Like OFL, couldn’t parse HITANERVE for a long time. That V was my final entry. RAMRODS reminded me of Super Troopers, so I guess that’s a plus. Since we see AXLROSE from time to time in puzzles, I wonder how many times his anagram would actually help in completing a grid.

Hungry Mother 5:06 AM  

Jet lag from recent Asian trip had me on this one early. Very easy, but always like a mathematical theme.

Loren Muse Smith 6:03 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 6:10 AM  

I was a junior in high school. I remember a big circle. Lots of pi. I remember ax2 + bx + c = 0 and completing the square. Mainly I remember Mrs. Ross. I was already full-on into languagy stuff, but trig was my all-time favorite high school class because of Mrs. Ross. I worshipped the water she walked on. If I made even a 99 on any test, I was devastated. But secretly devastated - I didn’t want to be That prisspot who got the highest score but whined that it wasn’t perfect. But I tell ya, I wanted to be perfect for Mrs. Ross.

So speaking of teachers…. Thanks, @Mike in Mountain View - it was weird watching Justice (WV Governor) announce the end of the strike and not our union guys. I won’t go into details, but the real issue, the one that started it all, was our insurance and how they’re gonna fund less and less of it. Maybe a 5% raise will at least cover the additional out-of-pocket cost to us. Maybe. So I hate to say it, but teachers are Really pissed off now. Everyone’s saying that we forced Justice’s hand because the nation was watching and his promise of 5% was just lip service to get rid of the cameras. Stay tuned… Everyone is heading back to the capitol today. It’s exhausting standing there and chanting. And loud. And hot. And powerful. Whenever some political figure in a suit walks by with a support-teachers ribbon, we cheer like he’s the messiah. And when we walk to our cars in the afternoon, all the cars that honk and wave and yell at us… I hold my arms up and wave back and briefly pretend I’m a movie star.

Rex – you said, “and from a crossword perspective, there's really nothing.” Well. Ahem. If your mind was in a sartorial kind of mood (I had to go look that word up) when you read the clue for 51A (“Take out the junk?”), and then you noticed the cross AXL ROSE and remembered its famous anagram…Now there’s a spectacular cross for you.

@Nick Baxter – I know, right? Right. I think you may be on to something with the order and positions of the functions, but all I can remember is that damn circle.

Agree that RETOW is weird. Bobby John – you telling me you towed that Ranger here with those bars?? And those long chains? Those damn bars aren’t parallel to the frame, you idiot. Did you even check the tongue weight? I bet that *&%$ thing was porposing all over Rte. 10. Git back there and RETOW that puppy and this time get it right. Now git.

Peter Collins is a math teacher. In Michigan. Ann Arbor. Huron High School. He drives a Ranger. (Just kidding.) I know this because I used to creep on him a bit back when he changed his XwordInfo picture all the time, and each new one was just as irreverent as the last. I like funny-guys. But he seems to have straightened up and reverentified himself. Still, reformed Pete - I like your puzzles. Congrats on your 100th!

Two Ponies 6:22 AM  

I always have problems getting in sync with Peter Collins.
The clue for Hit a Nerve was the only margin note in this rather blah grid.
Mayo parts took some crosses. Mayo Clinic? County Mayo? Hold the Mayo?

Low gear reminded me of Oliver teaching Lisa to drive on Green Acres.

Ronghoti 6:30 AM  

Why the pic of Myrna Loy? Couldn’t find one of Virna Lisi?

Anonymous 6:36 AM  

@Larry: "I have no further remarks." Proceeds with two more paragraphs.

Grammar Nazi 6:38 AM  
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Eric NC 6:41 AM  

Three fastest times in a row? I’d like to think that’s me getting better at these but I’m afraid that’s not the case. Hoping for the next three to be more challenging. Thursday rebus?🤔

Lewis 6:42 AM  
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Tom R 6:48 AM  

I got the theme pretty fast (after sin and cos, the theme was no puzzle. But maybe just because I had one too many courses in trig, still enjoyed the whole thing. I would label this easy medium for a Wed.

Unknown 6:59 AM  

I will back up Rex here: I'm a math professor, and I did not enjoy this puzzle.

Lewis 6:59 AM  

@lms -- "I worshipped the water she walked on"... great line! And HAH! on the Axl Rose anagram.

I found a lot to like here. Peter gave a clinic on fun/tricky cluing: LOW, THESOUTH, HITANERVE, SAILED, MORSECODE. He also provided some lovely answers -- MULLAH, NO IDEA, HIT A NERVE, THROW ON, ZEALOTS, and YOYO MA. Then there was TACO/WACO/ECO and a backward DON to go with that THROW ON and HAD ON.

Finally, he spurred my renegade brain to lob out a word for an uncontrolled outbreak of a throat affliction: STREPIDEMIC. Thank you for all of this, Peter, and congratulations on your 103rd!

Glimmerglass 7:01 AM  

@Rex, thanks for sharing your brain cramps today.

kitshef 7:24 AM  

I feel like this cried out for a revealer. As a math guy (not to be confused with mathgent), theme came early, but I imagine some would have NO IDEA on the theme.

Love AXL ROSE. Sweet Child O’ Mine was the first dance at my wedding with mrsshef.

Love the clue for DIAS, and the one for MORSE CODE more.

And then there is … VIRNA?!?

kodak jenkins 7:29 AM  

Soft for a Wednesday. My time said it was an easy Tuesday. The only trouble I had was with VIRNA and ENIAC side by side (clunky!).

I didn't find this one very interesting for theme or fill or otherwise. I guess some of the ? clues had a certain DADJOKE appeal.

Even though Clarence THOMAS was confirmed while I was in college I didn't remember/could scarcely believe he replaced Thurgood Marshall. To me those two figures were further apart in history (and distinguishment).

The Hermit Philosopher 7:48 AM  
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The Hermit Philosopher 7:49 AM  

As usual—
• if something is older than Rex, it’s bad;
• if he can’t remember it, it’s bad;
• if it comes to him quickly, it’s bad.
There is some magic degree of difficulty that pleases him, but nobody knows what it is.

Z 7:57 AM  

Well, I’ve looked at AXL ROSE from all angles now and I am convinced it will take some cunning linguist to come up with the anagram every one else is talking about. Maybe it has something to do with STREP throat. Deep thoughts on a Wednesday morning.

@anon12:46 - How Dare You!?! There is no unattractive picture of Myrna Loy.

Yep, easy. Liked it more than Rex. How can you not like a puzzle with WACO, TEXAS’ TACO STANDS. Plus my old man Ultimate team went by “Rust.” Our huddle break cheer? OXIDATE!

three of clubs 8:02 AM  

I was reading quickly and overlooked a word

reminds me of the sandwich my wife [was] served the other night—tough and lukewarm, like it had been sitting out under an insufficiently-powered heat lamp for some time.

The thought uh oh crossed my mind.

Frazier 8:04 AM  

What’s up with mayo and Dias?

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

I assumed the LOW gear for going uphill was referring to cycling, though I do remember switching into a low gear for driving uphill when I had a manual transmission (not that long ago).

I had the brightness on my screen set in such a way that I did not notice the shaded squares. Didn't note the trig theme until I read Rex's write-up. It doesn't make the puzzle seem any more interesting to me.

RavTom 8:24 AM  

Mayo is Spanish for (the month of May). Días is Spanish for days.

RooMonster 8:25 AM  

Hey All !
I usually enjoy PAC-mans puzs, but this one seemed a bit blah. But hey, this is his 100th, while I'm still looking to get my first one in. One day! *Fingers crossed*

THESOUTH angered me. I had dueSOUTH, mucking up that N Center. And haven't heard of the CLIC Stic pen. A Bic Stic, sure. Could've cross-referenced THESOUTH with RETOW, as illustrated nicely by @LMS.

Echo @Moly Shu 4:14 about RAMROD reminding me of Super Troopers. Great movie, my first introduction to the Broken Lizard Group. They've made a few movies, but my top two are Beerfest, and Super Troopers. Watch them if you can. Funny stuff.

Well, originally, I thought I'd be TERSE on this post. Apparently not, Har. Or if talking to Mr, Ho, HA DON. :-)

Side note to @M&A, this seems like a super puz for you, 20 weejects, and RUNT! Awesome.


Beaglelover 8:26 AM  

@Frazier, Mayo is Spanish for the month of May and dias is Spanish for days. Pretty tricky. My first answer was eggs.

QuasiMojo 8:39 AM  

ROFL, I was thinking of MAYO CLINIC, not Spanish language, perhaps because of the sub-theme of STREP throat and AXL ROSE (thanks to @LMS for that one, I'd never noticed it before.)

I finished this one in Monday time. Never even noticed the theme until I got here. Easy as PI.

I wonder if ENIAC could be the theme song to FLASHDRIVE DANCE.

Thanks @Aketi for the hat tip yesterday.

And thank you @Rex for the sizzling eye candy today! And I don't mean Myrna.

Wm. C. 8:47 AM  

@Lee Radziwill from yesterday --

Sorry, your brother-in-law Jack was NOT a Princeton man. :-)

Sir Hillary 8:48 AM  

Third ho-hum theme in succession. This one is further hurt by having significantly worse fill than Monday's or Tuesday's. ECO URI ONAT THANI IWO ANS HOS LENAS RETOW VIRNA CLIC TAE OSS -- too much junk.

Odd that three of seven themers have "?" clues. Probably impossible to clue them all that way, but I wonder if he tried.

"Trigonometry" would have been a better revealer, but if it were placed centrally, he would have had to go 16 wide.

I do very much like YOYOMA, RAMRODS, ITHACA, ZEALOTS, MULLAH, EPIDEMIC, BRECHT and ECUADOR. All fun (in a crossword) and fairly Scrabbly.

OXIDizE before OXIDATE, just like last week. Nothing like learning from prior mistakes -- not!

Nancy 8:53 AM  

Mostly a snoozefest, with a couple of places where I had to work a bit. Because I didn't know VIRNA, even when I had -IRNA, and because I had uNIAC before I remembered ENIAC, it took me a long, long time to get HIT A NERVE (27A) -- for my money the most difficult clue/answer in the puzzle. (A low bar, admittedly.) And I had trouble getting TACO STAND (21A) because the letters I was working with were TApOS-AND. And that's because I had CLIp Stic for the pen instead of CLIC Stic. Damn, I hate these deliberate product name misspellings. Other than that, not much else to think about. Oh wait, yes there is...

Why is MORSE CODE the answer to "Where S is..."? Isn't every letter to be found in the MORSE CODE? And don't you at least need an "O" to get SOS? I don't get this clue at all, but maybe I'm missing something.

Nancy 9:00 AM  

It's the dots!!!!! @mathgent explains it! As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, Never mind.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

Wasn't there recently a Sunday puzzle that involved trigonometric functions as rebuses? Or am I remembering incorrectly?

Two Ponies 9:28 AM  

@ Z (and any other film buffs), I agree that of all of the photos of Myrna Loy that has to be the worst. If Myrna Loy only reminds you of the Thin Man movies I suggest watching "The Best Years of Our Lives" where both her beauty but also her wit are showcased. There are some timely parallels re: returning vets and it won (I think) 7 Oscars.

Stanley Hudson 9:28 AM  

@LMS, standing with you, fellow educator.

Nancy 9:30 AM  

..."And remembered its famous anagram." Well, actually, not all that famous, @Loren. I had to go look it up. But once I did and then went back and re-read your inspired (if slightly blue) juxtaposition, I laughed out loud. Much too loud for that awful textspeak acronym.

Video of the teachers' strike was plastered all over the PBS evening news, so the country is watching and rooting for you, Loren. I thought I might have caught a brief glimpse of you in the crowd, but I probably was only imagining it.

Stanley Hudson 9:32 AM  

What @Two Ponies said about “The Best Years of Our Lives.” I do film assignments in my recent US history courses, and every semester several students review TBYOOL. And every semester those students, to their surprise, love it “even though it’s an old movie.”

GILL I. 9:39 AM  

Trig Functions? More like GRIT.
Printed out the puzzle last circles nor shaded area. Easy enough start but was too tired to continue.
Wake up early. Pour the coffee. Sit in favorite chair. Zip through the puzzle. Look at it. What the tarnation? Try to find something that might clue me into what the theme is. I know there has to be a theme. While I'm looking around, I notice things I do like. TACO STAND and WACO TEXAS. I know WACO has gotten a bum rap for a lot of things but I'm falling in like with it because of Chip and Joanna Gaines on HGTV's "Fixer Upper." I'm addicted to that show and I'll watch it every day come hell or highwater. She's GORGEOUS and funny and talented and he's goofy. I'd move to Waco and I'd buy a run-down piece of junk and watch those two turn my house into Paradise.
So, I come to read @Rex and find out that the theme is Trig Functions. Okay. I hate math. I never had to take Trig in HS. I barely passed Algebra and got the sweats when I had to take Geometry. I actually loved Geometry. You math people, can you explain why the phenomenon?
Cluing is typical Peter Collins. He's like the reliable black cocktail dress at an informal dinner party. Just throw on a good pair of earrings and a Hermes scarf and you get what you paid for. Predictable and reliable.
I liked TACO STAND because I love TACOs and here in Sacramento you can flip a coin and decide whether it be Chandos, or Taqueria Jalisco or Locos Tacos or Tres Hermanos taco truck ......well, it is Mexican Heaven and they have them in Waco as well.

jberg 9:53 AM  

@Z, I'm guessing you really knew that anagram -- strep throat, indeed! -- SO, RELAX.

Like @Rex, I had HIT from crosses at 27A, so my mind was really set on baseball. Took most of the other crosses to get it. Other problems were the font used for the clues, which makes "Horne" look a lot like "home," and for some reason reading 'golden' for 'ocean' at 19A, so putting in Usc. All easily fixed.

The theme did help at 21A -- we're on Captiva Island, FL, for a couple weeks (spring break for retirees), where shells are those things left on the beach by the surf, and collecting them is a local obsession. But I knew the shaded squares had to be COS, and that let me see TACO STAll., COclEAS, and Ucb. Without OXIDATE, I'd still be staring at those wrong answers.

Hang in there, @Loren and all WV teachers!

Don From Accounting 10:14 AM  

Hey this was a great puzzle I thought. Yeah it was easy but it had lots of awesome words, from all over the spectrum.

I'm curious, VIRNA Lisi was in "How To Murder Your Wife." Was she the wife? And in "Not With My Wife, You Don't!" what don't you do? I assume you don't do it to VIRNA. I hope these movies are 1960's "modern" Italian bedroom farces badly dubbed into English by the same voice actors who dubbed "Speed Racer" cartoons and a thousand other movies.

Have you ever been to a TACOSTAND? Here in Los Angeles we have Danger Dog stands. You should eat a Danger Dog once in your life, preferably if you're really drunk.

I grew up near a great big statue of the flag raising on Mt Suribachi, and nearby is the IWO Jima Motel. That's a great name. Stay in the Banzai Suicide Suite if you're in Arlington, and grab a bite in the Flamethrower Cafe. Anyway I think You can I don't know I never stayed there.

And then there's UBOAT! This was a submarine themed puzzle; look at all those other answers. Submariners are the toughest, bravest, and best looking men of all the armed forces; I know because I was one. No shit I made six patrols in the North Atlantic & Arctic in the 80s, 300 days submerged running time. I was an engineer so if you have any U-235 I can split it for you. Wanna thank me for my service? Kiss my ass. Nah I'm kidding folks just give me twenty bucks and we'll call it even.

One of the greatest trips of my life was driving the Alaska Highway in an RV with my father-in-law and cousins. Two weeks in August and I recommend it to everyone. We would refuel that beast at ESSO stations in The Yukon and we'd try to figure out how much we were paying when it was priced in Canadian dollars per litre. The answer is: A lot. Go drive that road once in your life (before you eat a Danger Dog) you willl love love love it.

P.S. I wrote and sent this 30000 feet over Iowa.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

Yay! Our own gonzo blogger is back.
You're just mentioning flying over Iowa to make @ Hungry Mother jealous.

Thanks and here's your $20.

Joseph Michael 10:43 AM  

I usually like Peter Collins puzzles but as one who suffered through math in SCHOOL and never took TRIG, the theme of this one left me cold. Felt like solving a themeless.

I did enjoy some of the clues, especially those for THE SOUTH, MORSE CODE, SAILED, and DIAS.

Wasn't aware of AXL ROSE's anagram until today and couldn't help but notice that it's in the mirror position of RAMRODS.

GHarris 10:49 AM  

This was one of those days when being an old guy really paid off. I destroyed this puzzle without so much as a hiccup. And I have to tell you, Virna Lisi was gorgeous.

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:03 AM  

An exercise in blandness.

It had some good clues in it, and it was easy enough to get done with quickly. Those are the two good things I can say about this puzzle.

After an exceptionally great week, we are back to the standard treatment. Two weak themes in a row (yesterday being the editor's fault if you read Trudeau's notes). I can't wait for tomorrow.

GRADE: C+, 2.75 stars.

BarbieBarbie 11:20 AM  

@WmC, au contraire. Jack Kennedy started out as a Princeton student, washed out, and had to transfer to Hahvahd. Sorry but them's the facts. Want to know which dorm was his? The Orange Key Guides know all that stuff.

The puzzle sparked temporary admiration when I thought each TRIG function was paired with its reciprocal symmetrically in the grid-- then I realized it was only almost-symmetry. It's still pretty darn good. And, yes, pretty easy.

@LMS, I don't live in WVa but I was kind of stumped by the tone of the governer's statement, and you've explained it. Can't say more; I don't want to get erased.

Masked and Anonymous 11:37 AM  

@RP: Cute VIRNA LOW pic. From "The Thin Man", as I recall. Her best TTM line: "They said you were shot in the tabloids!"

The Collins Dude puz. 74 words. 7 themers. RUNT funcs EPIDEMIC! Weeject stacks galore. 7-stacks, too boot. And The Circles! Rodeo.

staff weeject pick: ART. Closest thing in the puz to "ARC". And with ARC-, U'd get 6 more trig funcs. Whattheheck … ARTCOSINE is close enough to get a gentleman's C in trig -- amirite, Mr. Collins?

@muse [@Carl]: All the best to U WV teachers. Lil M&A was (evidently) kinda a problem student, and got in trouble with a lot of his teachers. Like my 7th grade home room & science teacher, bigtime. Thing was, once they got to know me better, things usually tended to smooth over real good. Ended up playin "Oh Hell" and other card games all the time with that one teacher, during our PM home room period. Anyhoo … teachers are pretty day-um cool, IM&AO.

{Lee side} = THESOUTH. har

For some reason, I also had a lil trouble with that LOW clue ... until I got to know it better.

Thanx, Mr. Collins Dude. inTRIGuin' puz.

Masked & Arcnonymo4Us


Kath320 11:43 AM  

Had quite the "uh-oh" moment at 40D - I could have sworn those were called 'TAMPONS' and couldn't believe the NYT was going there...

Canon Chasuble 11:48 AM  

"how to Murder Your Wife" was a great Jack Lemon comedy that would never pass muster today. The only movie I know that is about a newspaper comic strip artist. I admit my age: I first saw it while aboard a transatlantic liner.

old timer 11:48 AM  

Didn't know VIRNA. Took it on faith from the crosses. Otherwise the puzzle was appallingly Easy. I felt cheated that it had no hard parts at all.

My nit is TACOSTANDS. Here in California and I think throughout the Southwest, any place that primarily sells TACOS (usually but not always in the form of a TACO truck) sells only soft tacos: two small corn tortillas nested together and filled with whatever the place is most proud of. Maybe a little lettuce or whatever, Maybe onions, and always some first-rate hot sauce for the customer to add at will. Basically if you want hard-shell tacos you have to go to TACO Bell. Or order them at a Mexican restaurant, but nobody orders TACOS when they can get flautas or chiles rellenos or garlic shrimp.

Though the thing I remember most about TACOS I learned in Spanish 4 in high school: a TACO in Spain is a dirty word or swear word.

Aketi 11:51 AM  


@LMS, hoping that the health insurance issue gets resolved in your favor.

As for the anagram of AXEL ROSE, it reminded me of when Peace Corps sent an English teacher as a post mate for me after I had been teaching biology and chemistry for a year. The high school kids soon started creating their own secret slang by inserting English into LiNgala to create portmanteau words that none of their elders could understand. @Z it turns out that they were cunning linguists. One day I caught them sniggering in the back of the classroom over the phrase “mosala ya mopepe” which in literal translation means “work of the wind”. None of their elders had any clue what they were giggling about because that wasn’t really a phrase that was used in their language. I figured out by some of the gestures they had used before they realized I spotted them, and by their embarrassment when I walked over to their desks and gave them the eye, that their phrase was related to the AXL ROSE anagram. I have my suspicions about how that phrase entered their language and it certainly wasn’t via me.

@GILL I, there are not enough authentic TACO STANDS in NYC for me. They’ve mostly been gentrified and probably never have been as good as what you can get out West. I have to watch Fixer Upper now so I can feel better about our pre WWI apartment and dissociate WACO from my memories of my move from Atlanta to New York City 25 years ago. I didn’t move directly because I was sent from Atlanta to Niger for my first work trip for the new job. They had CNN on the return flight on the leg of the trip from Paris to New York that caught me up on the news tof the bombimg in the parking garage under the Trade Towers just two blocks away from my new office and the WACO siege that had happened while I was away, as well as the emerging news of the blizzard headed towards Atlanta that became their snowstorm of the century.

Masked and Anonymous 11:53 AM  


@muse[@Carl]: Speakin of drivin to the capit?l … M&A and PuzEatinSpouse stayed the night at a tall motel in downtown Charleston, WV, one time a few years ago. Had a real nice parkin lot. Ate supper at some sorta-fancy restaurant a couple blocks away in what looked like an old bus/train terminal or somesuch. Remember we had to walk under an overpass, to get there. U ever eaten therebouts?
That'd be one of them n-degrees of restaurant separation dealies, huh?


Anoa Bob 12:03 PM  

At H.S. graduation I got the award for the highest GPA in math, but, like @TomAz, never heard or saw COT or CSC used for those reciprocals.

Speaking of which, yep, the reciprocals of SIN, COS & TAN , are located in the bottom half of the grid, but, nope, they are not in symmetrically opposite locations.

I got up to twelve-words-per-minute in MORSE CODE while in the Navy, which is very slow, so I knew that was the answer to 52A "Where S is...?" But I also knew it was wrong. In dit dah speak, the dits and dahs are printed in the middle of the letter line, not at the bottom. But, hey it's only a crossword puzzle, so close enough.

Anyone else put EQUADOR at 11D?


Uke Xensen 12:07 PM  


Masked and Anonymous 12:09 PM  


@AnoaBob: yep. Hate to admit it, but I splatzed in EqUADOR, without hesitation. Was then hopin, in a real short-lived way, for another U in the crosser.

M&Also again

Mark 12:28 PM  

This is twice that puzzles recently have used “oxidate” as an answer. It is a word, but a rarely used one, and it is only a noun. Here it is clued as a verb, which is very wrong. The correct chemical term for become rusty is “oxidize”. (And the more common noun is “oxide”). For a basically boring theme to have this sort of error in it ruined the puzzle for me.

Ellen S 12:41 PM  

When I saw, “Took out the junk” I thought, oh, it’s like Jeopardy. The question would be, “What did the flasher do?” A disappointing bit of misdirection.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

SS 7:49am. You forgot "He thinks long explanations of how he didn't know something simple like LOW make him sound intelligent or interesting.

Hartley70 1:09 PM  

Thanks @Aketi, @Gill and @Nancy for your empathetic response to my Yale university homecoming disaster. I'm sure my date had some explaining to do, but unsurprisingly I never heard from him again. It's right up there with @Loren's favorite bat tale for me, just a horror.

I'm still confused by Myrna's photo. Why? Or should I say, "Why not?" I think Wednesday should always be Myrna Loy Day because she was a favorite of mine. What timing! In her very, very golden years I sat next to her on a flight to Bermuda. She was quiet. I was respectful.

I knew the theme was math related from the first few abbreviations, but the last two were mysteries. I avoided trigonometry despite all urging to the contrary and I've never regretted it.

MORSECODE was the only hesitation I had and thank you to @mathgent and @Nancy for the head-slapping explanation.

@Don From Accounting, there is no way I'll believe you are an accountant. Superman wasn't really a reporter either.

@Gill I, about Chip and Joanna, they sure are cuties, but after a hundred episodes you'll realize the decor all looks the same, shiplap, big clocks, phrases spelled out in big letters. A little variety would be nice. That's my review for the day.

GILL I. 1:11 PM  

@old timer...I was going to mention the "hard" TACO shells being served by none other than Taco Hell. You will only get your preferred fillings in a soft corn or tortilla shell if you buy them at a TACO STAND. I could stand in line for an hour to get Tacos de Asador.
@Aketi...Unfortunately, I think most people will always associate WACO with mass murder - a horrendous one that nobody can forget. Chip and Joanna of the "fixer Upper" fame have changed that. The HGTV show shows the City and it's quite beautiful in places. The people also seem awfully nice for being Texans! (kidding!)
In that same vein, I will always associate Pablo Escobar aka "The King of Cocaine" with Quito, ECUADOR....
Sacramento is known as the tomato town - no town mass murders!

Hartley70 1:17 PM  

Now to go online and see how things have played out in W VA for the teachers. Most of us probably have a special interest in this story. I too have tried to spot @LMS in the crowd photos. Something is better than nothing I suppose, but still a disappointment.

GILL I. 1:17 PM  

@Hartley....I know but I learned what "shiplap" is and that they go hunting for it in every house. You forgot the ubiquitous sliding barn doors. In any case, they are so fun to watch and I never get tired of seeing the expressions on the faces of the home owners when they slide away that big old picture of the old house and show the "new" one.....!
I'm easily amused.
I'm also a cheap date.

pabloinnh 1:18 PM  

Hey "Equador" guys--Ecuador is Spanish for "equator", so an understandable mistake. However, if you're ever tempted to spell any Spanish word using the combination "qua", don't. It's always "cua". This seems simple, but even after having heard it many, many times, students will still spell the word "four" as "quatro".

At least it's not a taco.

Z 1:18 PM  

Okay, you’re making me nervous. Before any of you go out and use the term “cunning linguist” in casual conversation I want you to say it out loud quickly three times, maybe eliding over the final T. @Aketi - After having done so you may want to revisit that third paragraph.

@lberg - I was looking for a way to work in that “angle” quip.

@Two Ponies - No film buff here. I am impressed, though, with how much drinking everyone but Asta does in those movies.

@Mark12:28 - I looked and the online version of the OED thinks OXIDATE is a verb.

Having done too much rancorous negotiating over the issue I am more than a little amazed at the blind opposition to the ACA by corporate leadership. The issue of health care has been a major bugaboo since at least the first half of the last century. Why the Big Three didn’t take up Walter Reuther’s offer to lobby together for a national health care system is an analysis in poor decision-making by itself.

JC66 1:22 PM  
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JC66 1:23 PM  



Teedmn 1:25 PM  

For me, the clever cluing on many answers today made up for many of @Rex's nits. I had grey squares on my grid and with SIN and TAN in place and _O_ in 21A, I tried to imagine a word ladder, which was obviously wrong. I didn't try to figure out the theme again until the end and TRIG made it all come together.

I laughed to see one more "Frozen" clue/answer. I enjoyed finally getting HIT A NERVE because I was thinking "home" plate when reading the 27A clue and wondered if there was a HITting zone with a special name I was ignorant of. I love math. Recently, playing a game where you ask each other questions "to make you think", my friend asked me what my favorite college course was and she was quite surprised when I said, "Linear Algebra and Differential Equations". (It helps that I actually understood the class, unlike limits, where I felt assuming that N was going to infinity was too much like estimating to be good mathematical procedure. :-) ).

My Dad has had a wheezing cough for over a week, so 38A's throat affliction was crouP before STREP.

ACUTE puzzle, PAC, thanks.

And @LMS, Solidarity! I'm with you and the teachers.

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

@Ellen S 12:41 - one of the best Halloween costumes I ever saw - a solid Navy man, very straight-laced, who showed up at a Halloween party with a trenchcoat on and bare legs showing under, bare chest above. When he opened the coat, pinned to his boxer shorts was a sign that read, "Why are you looking here?"

crh 1:53 PM  

@AnoaBob, the reciprocals are in symmetrically opposite locations. The reciprocal of sine is cosecant, and the reciprocal of cosine is secant. There's some perfectly good reason why the co- teleports around like that, but I can never remember what it is.

@Teedmn If you understand differential equations, then surely you understand derivatives, which means that you secretly understand limits, at least in one context.

Harry 1:58 PM  

So, just curious, are there any "original" themes left? It seems every puzzle these days, Rex calls the theme old, tired, or used before. I haven't been doing crossword puzzles as long as Rex, but I find the themes generally interesting and worth doing, even if there was a similar construct used 12 years ago. I enjoy this blog, just think Rex is getting a little cantankerous when it comes to the freshness of the themes.

Personally, I've enjoyed all three puzzles this week. All a bit on the easy side, but that's OK. no complaints.

Kimberly 2:03 PM  

It’s a bicycle, Rex. Low gear on a bicycle. As the wife a a cyclist who is in a family of racers... LOW gear gave me no trouble,

Then again, most automatic cars will downshift to a LOWer gear when they start a climb.

It sometimes flabbergasts me to see the things that trip you up which are basic to me, while you fly through obscure trivia like it’s water. It shows that human experience is not universal, and our lives are truly varied and marvelously unique.

Carola 2:03 PM  

I liked this tribute to TRIG, the last math class where I understood what was going on. I loved plotting those beautiful SIN curves, so satisfying. Anyway, I admired the abbreviated TRIG as a reveal, complementing the abbrieviated functions, all of which did a nice job of spanning words within the theme phrases. My favorite was TAN, HIDden in that diabolical HIT A NERVE. I also enjoyed being faked out by SAILED and DIAS (which took me a long time to understand).

@Tom 12:39 AM - I understand what you mean about BRECHT being old, but what he wrote remains quite timely. If you haven't "The Caucasian Chalk Circle," I recommend it for what he has to say about unending wars, in the Near East, as it happens.

Mark 2:06 PM  

Z, thanks for the pointer to OED, but I think it means it’s a word in England, not here and even there they call it rare. I’m a chemist from the US, and I have never heard it used as a verb.

PhiskPhan 2:57 PM  

Agree with those who have a problem with RETOW. The clue answer would be TOW -- no indication that it's being towed AGAIN.

Aketi 3:06 PM  

@Z, hahaha. Too late. I'm just waiting for the censors to remove it for me.

Bob Mills 3:17 PM  

Can someone explain the clue for "SAiLED?" I got it right, but don't know why.

BatbieBarbie 3:20 PM  

@Mark, me too on OXIDATE. You can oxidize, in one sense, or undergo oxidation, in another. Not oxidate. I’m a chemist too, but I just rolled my eyes at it and moved on.
@crh, to my eyes the reciprocals are a couple of squares off from being symmetric. But almost.

JC66 3:21 PM  

@Bob Mills

A junk is a type of Chinese SAILing craft.

Anoa Bob 3:37 PM  

@pabloinnh, mil gracias for the qua- vs cua- tutorial. I should have known better from the start, having seen the correct spelling many times over the years. I blame it on Spanglish!

@crh, I remember thinking during the solve that the themers, the shaded squares, weren't quite symmetrical, and checking again after the solve seemed to confirm that. Your post sent me back yet again and still it looks like that, although SIN up top and CSC (ugh!) down below are in symmetricallly opposites slots, the COS/SEC and TAN/COT slots would need to be moved one or more columns LEFTRIGHT in order for them to be symmetrical positioned. I'm getting dizzy looking at these, so I better stop.

Tita 4:33 PM  

@Nick Baxter - thanks for pointing out the reciprocal placements. That helps me admire the puzzle a mite more.
Even so, the them was thin, but there are enough great clues to make it an enjoyable solve.

@lms - It is a victory, albeit a small one. Hopefully it is more than just a symbolic gesture to get pesky teachers to shut up and go home. Let it be a first step of many more that are needed.

Could the times be in fact a-changing?

Thanks, Mr. Collins. I'll take TRIG over
celebs" as a theme any day.

Mother Pence 4:38 PM  

Where are the moderators?! "Cunning linguist" indeed!!

If I want to hear sewer talk I'll go to a beer joint.

pabloinnh 4:56 PM  


You're right, it's "agua", with a "g".

@Anoa Bob-You're welcome. If English were as easy to spell as Spanish, the world would be a better place.

Unknown 4:59 PM  

As in Left....Right

Anonymous 5:38 PM  

Masked and anonymous,
I beg to differ, William Powell delivers tbe zinger when he responds to the line you cite by saying "Its not true, he didnt get anywhere near my tabloids."
Thats the punchline. Thats the great line in that sequence.

Besides the line is by the screenwriters-- Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich.


Z 5:46 PM  

@Mark & @BarbieBarbie - Ah, there's your problem. You know too much. cites Random House so I'm thinking it is used in American as much as in English. If I had had to hazard a guess I would have said OXIDATE is a retronym from oxidation, but the 1780-90 first use information argues against that. While OXIDATE may be sub-optimal in a scientific context it is perfectly cromulent in a crossword.

Monty Boy 5:47 PM  

@z and @aketi. Check out the SNL skit about the Confederate soldier, Colonel Angus. Google or look on YouTube.

Missy 6:04 PM  

Nancy help! I still don't understand the answer to "Where S is...?

JC66 6:09 PM  


In MORSE CODE, dot dot dot = S

Missy 6:19 PM  

Nancy help! I still don't understand the answer to "Where S is...?

Aketi 7:27 PM  

@Monty Boy, I’m afraid to admit that you made my day.

Nancy 7:34 PM  

@Missy -- On the face of it, it looks as though "Where S is..." is an unfinished sentence. But those three dots, which here are the symbol for an ellipses, i.e. something omitted, are also the Morse Code symbol for the letter S. Dot, dot, dot -- just as JC66 says. That's why the way you'd Morse code to signal SOS is dot, dot, dot, dash, dash, dash, dot, dot, dot. The best kind of clue -- hiding the answer in plain sight. I hope that makes it clear.

Joe Dipinto 8:14 PM  

LOW? LOW did not make any sense to me until after I was done with the puzzle. I kept looking at the clue thinking "I don't get it. [Gear for going up hills]? LOW? Surely it's TOW ... like TOW bar ... LOW what? Is there some weird rebus happening here?!" I sincerely didn't think of LOW as a gear *on an automobile* until after I was finished. Skiing "gear" was the only gear my brain was entertaining. Bizarre. I don't think I've ever put an automatic transmission in LOW. Maybe it's not called LOW on my car? I remember very well using 1st or 2nd, when I had a manual transmission. Anyway, LOW as a "gear" just baffled me.

I got it right away (sigh).

Harryp 8:15 PM  

@Z, Thank you for EMBIGGINING my vocabulary with the word CROMULENT. I must have missed that episode of The Simpsons.

ArtO 8:21 PM  

Any man of a certain age who saw Virna Lisi emerge from a birthday cake in "How to Murder your wife" will never forget it! Stunningly beautiful!

Anonymous 8:25 PM  

Rex has never met something mechanical and not been baffled.
He didnt know what a collet was over the weekend and today he never thought of associating low with gea.I guess he never kicks something into high gear either. Sheesh.

Nancy 9:36 PM  

@Hartley and @Gill -- What on earth are you two gals babbling about? Who are Chip and Joanna? What in the world is shiplap? This somehow has something to do with WACO? Yes? No? Sometimes, @Gill, I understand you better when you speak Spanish. But I did get "Taco Hell". And I love it! And, @Hartley -- your shoutout to @Don from Accounting was such a sharp and a funny observation. Wish I'd thought to say that!

I missed all the double entendres today. Both Loren and Ellen S. had ribald reactions to the "junk" clue. I, meanwhile, dutifully and mechanically wrote in SAILED and thought no more about it. Then came @Aketi's "cunning linguist" which SAILED right by me too. If it weren't for @Z, I wouldn't have noticed it at all. And come to think of it, @Anon 5:38's citation of that marvelous William Powell line is pretty racy too. Lots of fun stuff on the blog today!

Teedmn 9:51 PM  

@Z, so your Ultimate team was plagued by insomnia? After all, “Rust never sleeps”.

Wm. C. 9:28 AM  

@BarbieBarbie from yesterday --


True, John Kennedy did attend Princeton, but did not complete even a single semester. That hardly qualifies him as "a Princeton man," as I pointed out prior to your making an exception to my post.

Also, he did not "wash out" of Princeton as you claim. First of all, one cannot "wash out" when not one semester is completed. Also, the reason for his withdrawal was that he contracted Yellow Jaundice and could no longer attend classes.

When he re-enrolled in college the next fall, he decided on Harvard, to which he had applied and been admitted at the same time he had done so at Princeton. Kennedy was a mediocre student at Choate, but his father Joe (a Harvard grad himself) had lots of pull and money.

ghostoflectricity 12:47 PM  

Should have illustrated this with Sam Cooke's classic "Wonderful World":

It was later covered by Herman's Hermits, but Cooke had the definitive version of this song.

Linda Gibson 11:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Burma Shave 10:25 AM  


she usually STAYSINSIDE THE lines.
She had NOIDEA she HITANERVE in TRIG class –
‘twas EITHER a NOD or a SIN.


spacecraft 11:06 AM  

This puzzle was so pre-Monday easy that I didn't read half the clues--including the one for LOW. That was in from the downs and I never even looked. I did read the clue for HITANERVE and it made perfect sense. Especially since I knew TAN was coming after SIN and COS. I don't time myself but surely I had to have broken a Wednesday record.

No meat on the bone today, and the fill is mediocre, with VAPs (very awkward partials) ONAT and THANI to wrinkle the nose. This feels like it was churned out for a few needed bucks; no soul to it...well, except DOD LENA Horne. Plenty of soul there--and body to match. During Masters week, I expect more than this. Bogey.

spacecraft 11:31 AM  

P.S. "Gear for going up hills:" DUH! This clue is as uninspired as the rest of them.

leftcoastTAM 12:00 PM  

Not much going on here.

The "hard" part was seeing the gray squares, which in my local paper were barely visible, virtually disappeared depending on the light.

TRIG terms are not very exciting.

rondo 12:00 PM  

After SIN showed up in the first shaded boxes it seemed obvious that we were in for a TRIGfest. ACUTE angle as a bonus ANS. LENA’S here today after yesterday’s Sven; can Ole be far behind?

I’m gonna guess that the AXLROSE anagram everyone’s talking about isn’t LAX EROS, quite the opposite.

Not LEFTRIGHT or otherwise, RIGHT there dead center is big-time old-SCHOOL yeah baby VIRNA Lisi.

SAILED RIGHT through this puz.

Diana,LIW 2:18 PM  

didn't pay attention to or need the theme for this ez Tuesday - oh wait, it's wed - puzzle. Still acclimating to the real world.

anyone ever try their hand at cryptic puzzles????

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 3:33 PM  

@D,LIW - I usually do the Harper's puzzle every month, and solve it correctly most of the time. I was once even one of the winners of a free year's subscription. It takes a long time, at least several hours in total, even using every resource possible. But when it's done, that's a golden moment.

rondo 4:05 PM  

BTW - Today's WSJ xword is superior to this puz. 6 theme answers, at least 4 of which elicited a Har or even a Yuk. Little to no junk in the fill. And it's still free. The NYT had better watch it!

rainforest 7:03 PM  

Well, I'm late to the game (grandson-sitting, or rather, getting rained on in the park),but I just want to say I liked this puzzle, easy as it is. Some very nice clues therein.

Also, permit me to pontificate on OXIDATE. It's not really a word, let alone a verb. When rust forms, the iron is becoming oxidized. "Oxidize" is a verb, as in "Chlorine will oxidize Nickel. The Nickel becomes oxidized as a result. The process is "oxidation", or more completely, "oxidation-reduction". The Nickel is oxidized by the Chlorine, and the Chlorine is reduced by the Nickel. An exchange of electrons has occurred. OXIDATE is not a verb, and it is a poor noun as well.

The above didn't deter from enjoyment of the puzzle. I am so understanding of the nuances of the language. Har.

leftcoastTAM 8:18 PM  

@rainforest -- My first choice was OXIDizE, but OXIDATE was demanded. Thanks for the pontification.

Diana,LIW 9:51 PM  

Thanks, @R, for the feedback. The cryptics at ACPT were given much, much less time. @Teed gave me some pointers, and I was very happy to get about 12 answers on one puzzle. Now I'm studying some cryptic "rules." Is Harper's a cryptic???

Lady Di

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