SATURDAY, May 10, 2008 - Karen M. Tracey (COMMODORE COMPETITOR)

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

We're doing Mother's Day stuff this morning (long story), and so I have to be super-abbrev. today. This puzzle was surprisingly, almost shockingly easy (for me). I was expecting to have to labor over it, given that hard puzzles always seem to appear when my Saturday mornings are crammed with stuff to do. I woke up before 6 (!?) and started poking at this puzzle, and before I'd been at it more than a minute or so, the whole NW was done. I mean, AMORE (1D: Venetian balladeer's topic) was a gimme, and I wanted REAGANS (19A: Family in 1980s news) right away. When I got another gimme, EROSE (6D: Jagged-edged), then OZONE HOLE (17A: Antarctic environmental concern) became obvious, and there was REAGANS, just as I expected, and wham bam done up there in the "Vancouver" section of the puzzle.

Things didn't get much harder anywhere else in the puzzle. I kept waiting for my inevitable face plant, but instead I just kept slicing clean through the puzzle. Put in ECSTATIC where EXULTANT (36D: More than happy) belonged, but that's about as close to a real mis-step as I had. The fact that I finished quickly does not make me any less impressed with this puzzle than I might have been had I struggled. I finished my first-ever xword grid yesterday - and it was beautiful, but ultimately a failure, for reasons I'll discuss some other time. The main point here - it is damned hard to fill in even moderately large chunks of white space without resorting to crap fill. In this puzzle, Karen has to rely on small, unpleasant abbreviations only a small handful of times, and the payoff is enormous. In each colorful quadrant, she really needed only one tiny bit of dreary short fill to make it all work. Nobody really wants to see ACCT (1A: Ledger no.) or CEO (38A: Top suit?) or OEO (58D: War on Poverty agcy.) or AKA (44D: Booking letters) or OSHA (32A: Nixon creation of 1970: Abbr.) (good clues on CEO and AKA, btw), but the point is that those answers disappear into the background when the longer words they enable are as vibrant as the ones in this puzzle are. This wasn't my favorite Karen Tracey puzzle of all time, but it's Rock Solid, and now more than ever I'm in awe of clean, crisp, untortured fill.

This puzzle seemed eerily aimed at me: I spent much of the past two days trying to get a seven-letter word to end in -ELO, so TANGELO (4D: Citrus tree) was criminally easy for me. Studied in Edinburgh for a while, and there was a big statue of JOHN KNOX (5D: 16th-century founder of Scottish Presbyterianism) right outside the dormitories there, so no problem there (ditto NAES - 8D: Caledonian contradictions). Just last week I watched the movie Junebug (for which the incredible Amy Adams was nominated for an Academy Award a few years back), and the music for that film was done by ... YO LA TENGO (whom I know from having been vaguely aware of indie rock in the 90s - my friend Michelle loves them - 57A: Indie rock band whose name is Spanish for "I have it"). And on and on.

Points of Interest:

  • 5A: Painter Fouquet (Jean) - familiar-sounding, but I can't place him. Whoa, 15th c. That's much older than I thought. His babies are creepy...


  • 9A: Dance of African origin (samba) - started with MAMBO, then fixed it.
  • 16A: Aquafina alternative (Evian) - again, I implore you, stop drinking overpriced tap water.
  • 18A: It might be jewel-encrusted (tiara) - clue makes this much easier than it could have been.
  • 20A: Falafel seasoners (sesames) - not big on the plural here.
  • 22A: It's hit with the pinky (Enter key) - excellent. Accurate.
  • 25A: Nixon adviser Nofziger (Lyn) - a gimme, but I don't know why, as I was a baby when Nixon was president. This name must have lingered in the news for a while.
  • 34A: "The Cosby Show" actress Alexander (Erika) - obscure in an unfun way.
  • 35A: Rudy's coach in the 1993 football film "Rudy" (Ara) - why not just [Rudy's coach in "Rudy"]? If I have to know the least well known "Cosby Show" actress, then I should damn well have to know what "Rudy" was about.
  • 36A: Preferred seating, for many (exit row) - EXIT ROW crossing YAHTZEE looks fantastic.
  • 42A: Oenological category (reds) - not terribly exciting, until you notice its symmetry with the puzzle's other oenological answer: SECO (29A: Like some vino).
  • 53A: Kept charging shots, say (ran a tab) - excellent in its colloquialness.
  • 55A: Back together, for now (on again) - HA ha. I can't believe you can get away with using HALF of a colloquial expression for a variety of relationship. It's daring and brilliant.
  • 62A: Lake craft (dory) - wonder if you ever see any of these on the ERIE CANAL (30D: Work on it began in Rome in 1817 - not that Rome, sucka).
  • 63A: Spare in a boot (tyre) - I would have gone with [Apollonius of _____] or something about Dido, but you went with the rear end of a British car. Fine.
  • 9D: Bit of securing hardware (set screw) - never heard of it, but got SCREW easily enough, so no real trouble.
  • 11D: 1980s TV show or 2006 film ("Miami Vice") - sweeeet. Never saw the movie. Come to think of it, never really saw the TV show, either. And yet Crockett and Tubbs are indelibly etched in my memory. Why, Lord? Why?
  • 13D: Santa _____ (meteorological phenomena) (Anas) - I think Chandler's "Red Wind" features this phenomenon...
  • 21D: "Israfel" writer's monogram (EAP) - ickiest of the literary monograms, which is appropriate, as POE would enjoy being icky, I think.
  • 28D: Part of French Indochina until 1949 (Laos) - in four letters ... what else?
  • 31D: Hebrew of Phoenician (Canaanite) - I've had Sam Cooke singing "How Far Am I From Canaan" in my head ever since I filled this in. Worse fates could befall me. This guy knows what I'm talking about.
  • 40D: It's just south of Nauru (equator) - got it off the "E," giving me the "Q" I needed to get SEAQUAKE (43A: Source of some big waves). A SEAQUAKE could probably do great damage to Nauru.
  • 50D: Commodore competitor (Tandy) - more 80s deliciousness. Karen must be roughly my age - I think that on some level, puzzle-constructing eventually reveals your personality - especially where your ID lives. Expect my puzzles to be riddled with references to Donkey Kong, "Family Ties," and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
  • 51D: Peak southeast of Bern (Eiger) - learned it was a "peak" from the puzzle. Here is Dan Bern, a favorite of my friend Matt.
  • 42D: Assaying aid (reagent) - ... no idea ... Had all the letters but "R" and still looked at it cockeyed for a few seconds.
  • 54D: Longtime West Virginia senator (Byrd) - clue should read [Loooooooooo ... [pause, breathe] ... ooooooooongtime West Virginia senator]. If McCain wants to look young and vibrant, he should run alongside this guy, who always looks and sounds like he's orating from a soap box (an actual soap box) some time around 1884.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

67 comments:

imsdave 7:57 AM  

I'm betting we get a lot of personal bests on this one. This is the first Saturday I've ever done where I never got stuck anywhere. Enjoy the weekend all.

jannieb 8:32 AM  

I agree - finished it before the coffee was done brewing. Lots of goodies here and I agree, the cluing for CEO was great. Didn't like sesame(S) either - but it's been done in the recent past. Liked "ran a tab" and "rear ender"; kept trying to force-fit escape key instead of enter key - but not for long. Had a gender issue (YO LO TENGO) for awhile, but it was quickly fixed. Enjoyable puzzle - but would have liked spending more time with it!

Karen 8:51 AM  

I found the north half easy, then I got stuck in the south. I tried BOAT WAKE for SEA QUAKE, I wanted 're' to start 'keep charging shots' and 'back together', and I still don't know where Nauru is. (I'll look it up in a bit, promise.) I also put BACK ROW for preferred seating, ie on rollercoasters (I'm a front seat person myself). And COLOSSEUM fits into the ERIE CANAL space, maybe they were redecorating it.

Last week's gimmick puzzle remains my fastest Saturday puzzle time.

SethG 8:52 AM  

My relative difficulty rating: 3/4 Easy, 1/4 If Only I Were Rex.

The upper right took about two minutes. The lower right about the same. Lower left and middle, another six or so. Upper left? Twenty-two.

My first thought was OZONE HOLE. BUT...I mis-remembered my crosswordese, going with ARETE instead of EROSE. (One week ago I saw that! And I still got it wrong!) Guessed NAG for AIL. The only Caledonia I knew turned out to be Caldonia--figured she was a character from folklore I should know more about. Didn't know Nofziger or the ending to SECx, and I certainly didn't spend the last two days trying to think of a seven letter word ending with -Exx. Didn't know COZEN or Gull. TEARY was too generic to get without crosses.

So yeah, I had some problems. Finally JOHN KNOX bubbled up somehow even though I hadn't lived next to his statue, and I figured OZONE HOLE had to be right after all and worked my way out from there.

I have a REAGAN dartboard from the early 70's on my office wall,
sg

Rex Parker 9:17 AM  

Though it will seem like I'm showing favoritism to Seth, I have to ask, how do you not put "I misremembered my crosswordese" into the "Comment of the Week" bin? I want a t-shirt that says that.

rp

bill from fl 9:31 AM  

Everything on the eastern half was easy; the west, esp. the SW, was a bit harder for me. I let myself be misled by the reference to Rome. (I can't think of anything of significance that was started in Rome, Italy, in 1817--which should have been a tipoff.) Not quite as easy as last Saturday.

Leon 9:58 AM  

The added bonus of this puzzle was BARENAKED. With a little advance planning, I would have seen it sooner. I would continue on but however this clue was an unexpected surprise.

mellocat 10:15 AM  

Rex, you're starting to construct? Cool! It's a fun (and frustrating) game. I'd love to hear your promised more about your first grid construction.

Interesting as always to see what people find easy/hard. I can never predict that. You've got W.S. to thank for the great Rome misdirection -- my submitted clue reference "Clinton's Folly".

Thanks for the nice writeup & comments!

jannieb 10:18 AM  

@leon - I was all set to fill in bare assed in that row but remembered the breakfast test and guessed again.

PuzzleGirl 10:25 AM  

Sounds like Seth and I were on the same wavelength today. I blazed through the NE with the help of EVIAN, TIARA and AVIATOR. Made my way down to the SE and found YO LA TENGO there. ANITA Diamant was a gimme in the SW. Had a Little Trouble with SEAQUAKE (actually had SUNQUAKE for a minute?) and EXIT ROW (when FIRST and FRONT wouldn't fit, I tried both LAST and BACK before settling on EXIT). Then everything came to a screeching halt in the NW. I knew LYN, I finally figured out AMORE, I wanted REAGANS and I wanted TANGELO, and still I couldn't crack it. Very, very fun puzzle. I'd like to think that if I had been willing to spend more time on it, I could have finished it.

The most frustrating word for me was EROSE. I knew we had just seen it and I knew we had talked about it, and I just couldn't bring it to mind!

Loved seeing YAHTZEE in the puzzle. And it seems to me that SASS is lobbying for a Pantheon berth.

Jim in NYC 10:36 AM  

Rex: And yet Crockett and Tubbs are indelibly etched in my memory. Why, Lord? Why?

Well, it was probably the T-shirts, Rex. Be honest, now.

Favorite clue: "Kept charging shots, say" (53A) for RANATAB. Kept looking for somehing from tennis, as intended.

Don't like TEARY (15D) for "pathetic." One may be teary in a given situation and not at all pathetic.

Rain's over for now. Get outside, everybody.

Wade 10:40 AM  

This wasn't a gimme for me--I spent almost exactly 45 solid minutes on it, finishing triumphantly with the third A of CANAANITE. None of it went terribly smoothly for me, but the SW was a particularly tough nut to crack. Like Karen, I wanted a WAKE ending for SEAQUAKE (SHIPWAKE in my case, since I felt good about SASS). Then I messed around with ECSTATIC and EUPHORIC in place of EXUBERANT for a long time. The B ending of RANATAB was all I had for a long time, and it kept looking like __ __ __ BOMB in my brain. I'd rate it at least a medium, based on my typical Saturday experiences.

miriam b 10:49 AM  

SESAMES, IMHO, just didn't seem right for falafel seasoning. This connoted - at least to me - whole seeds, whereas I usually think of tahini (sesame paste) as an accompaniment to falafel.

jae 10:52 AM  

Very nice Sat. puzzle. The West was easier for me than the East. SW was slow b/c I also tried LAST and ECSTATIC initially. Plus I got fooled by the Rome misdirect and had ???CHAPEL briefly. Even though the first thing I entered was AMORE NW was last to fall. I hesitated for a long time on REAGANS b/c it seemed too easy for a Sat. Had SORRY for TEARY for a while and misreading contradictions as contractions didn't help. I also misspelled my crosswordese so didn't change AROSE to EROSE till almost the end (JAAN Fouquet just didn't seem right).

Margaret 11:17 AM  

Not easy for me but just the right level of challenge. Had several "gimmes" that weren't: Mogul was not a BUMP, vino was not ROJO (until later it was, only in English), top suit was not a TUX, and preferred seating was not the BALCONY. I got totally suckered by Rome and I was sure Commodore had something to do with Vanderbilt or team mascots. Finished in the SE after correcting my spelling of Emirates.

Interesting coincidence with Gull The word (as a verb) always makes me think of the musical 1776 which opens with Adams bellowing: "By God, I have had this Congress! For 10 years, King George has gulled, cullied, and diddled these colonies..." (I always loved that verbal triumvirate.) And Adams was already on my mind from the recent (excellent) HBO miniseries.

Favorite clue: ENTER KEY

Bill from NJ 11:24 AM  

This is the second Karen Tracy puzzle I've seen this week and, with the help of Orange, I knew her penchant for Scrabbly geography clues and was on the look out for Qs, Xs, Vs and Ys. So a special shout out to Orange!

I started with JEAN/JOHNKNOX which got me the tail end of 22A:It's hit with the pinky ***** KEY and that led to the dead center of the puzzle - the YAHTZEE/EXITROW cross that was a total guess.

I radiated into the NE where another fortuitous cross AVIATOR/EVIAN broke loose the entire section and I followed the East Coast into Louisiana where YOLATANGO helped me piece together the Deep South.

I keep ending up in the NW where I should be starting if I'd just trust myself. I rejected AMORE and TANGELO at the very beginning of this chase and damned if I didn't come full cirlce to those clues at the end.

A very satisfying solve with no Googles.

PhillySolver 11:32 AM  

I am a Presbyterian Elder and took sometime to tour Edinburgh. The most interesting part was looking for John Knox's grave, which is believed to be somewhere below the pavement at parking spot 44 in the Church car lot. That seems a predestined fate to me.

I liked this too and as above, found it easy except for one area. I did err by guessing Siam for LAOS and I was thinking music and tried piano blackkey and variations therein.

There is an article about Indie music in today's Travel Section.

Sethg, nice icon today, but I wonder what else you may be misremembering. imsdave, missed you yesterday and then see you are an early solver.

ArtLvr 11:34 AM  

Favorite word COZEN next to AMORE opened the NW nicely, except I'd wanted little 7-D "bother" to be ado -- got AIL to fix that.

Then I was slowed a bit in the SW, thnking 53-A "kept charging shots, say" required rat-a-tat instead of RAN A TAB; started fixing that too but left on the last T, so BYRD didn't come for a while.

The NE went fine with Across items, and I didn't even see the amusing MIAMI VICE next to BARE NAKED until later! Also, the excellent middle with fun YAHTZEE went well.

However, I never quite got the SE right, even with EIGER and TYRE. That darned Spanish phrase and REAR ENDER were guessed at but tangled. TANDY should have surfaced but didn't quite come, and I had "mixer" for the MOLAR "meat grinder" (which left me pure hamburger).

Lovely puzzle though! ∑;)

.

JC66 12:06 PM  

As much as it pains me to say it, I'm with Wade on this one. It kicked my butt and took me almost an hour. I worked the puzzle from top to bottom with only a few gimmes (EVIAN, EROSE, ACTIN, LYN, DOE, TYRE and BYRD) to begin with. A slow, slow process with dim lights brightening sporadically here and there around the grid until all squares were filled. Maybe going back to solving in the morning rather than late at night might help.

jae 12:33 PM  

Shoot! I meant to say the East was easier for me than the West as you can tell from my comments.

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

Found this one hard, especially top left and bottom right.

JC66 12:51 PM  

Rex,

BTW, It'll be interesting to see if/how your constructing experience impacts on your commentary. Who knows, it may have already started to have an effect. (-:

roro 12:56 PM  

from his ivory soapbox tower

Doug 1:34 PM  

"Props" to Rex from up here in Vancouver BC, although there is a Vancouver in Washington, the state and not the District (speaking of misleading ROME clues.)

I thought I was on the way to finishing my 2nd ever Sat puzzle, but alas no. I greedily filled in HIGHNOTE for the pinkie clue (wrong but isn't that a great answer!) And from there couldn't nail the holes in the west even when I knew HIGHNOTE was wrong. However, the east was done and a chunk of the west was won, so I felt pretty good about it.

EQUATOR stumped me good--I spent some time last year memorizing the Pacific Islands and could not recall a country or island starting in E. It's a sad place NAURU, as seabirds spent EONs crapping into its interior, producing an excellent phosphate. Once phoshpate was discovered a hundred years ago, the island was dug up piece by piece until essentially there was nothing but the coast and a large hole. Now, there's nothing left and the place is dying. The Saudis et al are smart for having the foresight to not less this occur, Dubai especially.

andrea carla michaels 1:43 PM  

Maybe I'll stick to writing Mondays!
This took me a looooooong time last night having RORQUALS for SEAQUAKE,
ADO, YOLOTANGO (I tango with him?), TSAR, NEEDY...

Loved YAHTZEE/ CANAANITE/ EXITROW

When Reagan was elected, I followed thru on my threat to leave the country (I think he was one of those love it or leave guys, no?) not yet realizing it would only get worse. Much worse.

Oy, I thought I had successfully even banned him from my subconscious but didn't see till now I even spelled REAGENT as REAGANT.

Orange 1:45 PM  

Rex, I must dispute your focus on JEAN Fouquet's creepy babies. The far-ranging, quasi-silicone boobs are far creepier.

Amy Adams from the YO LA TENGO-soundtracked Junebug was also good in Enchanted. If you shied away from it because it seemed too Disney princessy, check out the DVD.

SandyB 1:48 PM  

Not only did Karen construct a wonderful puzzle, she was the one that pointed me toward this blog a few months ago :-). I actually finished with a minimum of Googling, and just one error (which is unreal for me on a Saturday).

andrea carla michaels 1:49 PM  

Orange,
my take was that's what "women's" breasts looked like in the 15th century when they were being married off at 12!

Does anyone else have those weird ESP moments when you put in a word that is totally wrong and yet appears moments later in the grid?

I started off this puzzle putting in CANAL instead of AMORE and then there it was a few seconds (ok, many many minutes) later...for an entirely different answer.

mac 1:50 PM  

This was just the right Saturday puzzle if you want to finish a week without googling, but, again, what am I going to do the rest of the afternoon?
I had a few bumps in the road, like rojo/seco, jubilant/exultant, bucknaked/barenaked, and I also read contraction instead of contradiction, jae....
Many unusual words and expressions but gettable because of good cluing. Great job, mellocat, and what a gorgeous feline.

Fergus 2:00 PM  

Seldom do I have a clean grid filled in on Saturday, but today was an exception. After a couple of accurate guesses I started to feel as if I were looking over Karen Tracy's shoulder during the construction and cluing. Then CAULK, SEAQUAKE and REAR-ENDER dropped in on first guess as well, so it was just one of those days where my often wary intuition could roam free. MORATORIA did take a little while to settle in -- what what an elegant, simple clue. Didn't like the AVIATOR clue, even though it was the first thing that came to mind. Same with Spare in a boot, which could have wandered in any number of directions.

So, sure it's satisfying to blaze through a Saturday puzzle, but it feels oddly less gratifying than the much more frequent muddling I'm used to on a Saturday morning.

mrbreen 2:15 PM  

Wow, I slaughtered this puzzle. I owe it all to Rex and my fellow commenters.

Seeing Yo La Tengo reminded me of a hilarious, oldish Onion article: "37 Record-Store Clerks Feared Dead In Yo La Tengo Concert Disaster"

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/27870

jae 2:21 PM  

@mac -- nice to know I'm not alone!

PhillySolver 2:34 PM  

@ andrea carla michaels

In ESP study Precognition represents knowledge of things before they occur, but I propose 'prefillerate' as the word you that describes your experience.

Bill D 2:59 PM  

jae & mac - add me to the contradicted contractions confusion. And I thought it was just my glasses!

I had a nice time with this one, hard enough to let me enjoy it for a while, but gettable enough, even the obscure names, so that I wasn't frustrated. The many references to Nixon & Reagan did have me running a tab for seco reds and Scotch however! The end of SINEX eluded me for way too long, as did MOLAR. Had Dalmation "Coast" for a long time before I turned CROAT. My only mild complaint is cluing PARA as short for Paralegal, I assume.

ON AGAIN can stand on its own: "I just saw Wade and Puzzlegirl. Yep, they're ON AGAIN."

Beautiful one- and two-word long answers, with a smattering of short stuff just for variety. Loved MORATORIA, SET SCREW, SEA QUAKE, OZONE HOLE, BARE NAKED and ENTER KEY. Oh, and ERIE CANAL! And EXIT ROW! Geology, transportation, wine, women & song! What great stuff! Thanks, Ms Tracey!

PuzzleGirl 3:24 PM  

@bill d: Although "paralegal" came to mind for me as well, I thought the clue/answer might be referring to "paraprofessionals" (at my kids' school, basically teacher's aides). I've never heard them referred to as paras, but I'm not sure I've ever really heard them referred to except by name. Any teachers out there know?

Wade 3:36 PM  

Doug, about Nauru, I was going to leave it to somebody else to bring up the famous (at least I thought it was famous) "This American Life" piece about the place. Maybe that piece of reportage isn't as well known as I thought. It may be the most compelling half hour or so of radio I've ever heard. It's well worth a dive into their archives to listen to it. If I knew how to link it I'd do so.

Wade 3:39 PM  

Sorry, but here's a follow-up on the Nauru piece:

Here's the link: http://www.thislife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=253

Here's the intro on the website:

Act One. No Island Is an Island.

Nauru is a tiny island, population 12,000, a third of the size of Manhattan and far from anywhere: yet at the center of several of the decade's biggest global events. Contributing editor Jack Hitt tells the untold story of this dot in the middle of the Pacific and its involvement in the bankrupting of the Russian economy, global terrorism, North Korean defectors, the end of the world, and the late 1980s theatrical flop of a London musical based on the life of Leonardo da Vinci called Leonardo, A Portrait of Love. (30 minutes)

Michael 3:52 PM  

I got this one, but (1) took a while; and (2) had to look at a map to see what was north of Nauru (I kept thinking of Pacific Islands -- none of which seem to start with E [at least none near Nauru]). The east side of the puzzle was very easy for me, but I struggled with the west. But once I got "equator," it was all over.

chefbea1 4:00 PM  

@mac and jae - I too saw contraction instead of contradictions. Great minds think alike

Joon 4:16 PM  

no speed record for me, as i don't think i'll ever top last saturday, but this would have been by far my fastest saturday if it were not for that one. great puzzle, though.

rex, i'll be interested to hear your take on constructing. i got into it at about the same time that i got "seriously" into solving (meaning 5 puzzles a day, keeping track of times, noting unfamiliar names & words, etc.). i'm not sure what i can say other than--it's hard! i've never even attempted to do anything like you described yesterday (stack 7-letter answers on top of each other), but for a lot of grids, it's challenging enough to fill it at all, let alone fill it without resorting to crappy "words" like ASTA and OGEE and ESAI. i'm still in awe of people like karen who can produce beautiful wide-open grids that are jam-packed with interesting words and phrases.

Ulrich 6:06 PM  

I, too, was able to finish the week w/o googling. But I was absolutely sure that YAHTZEE had to be wrong and kept on checking and rechecking the crosses in order to find my mistake. Then I had to leave to do some DIY work away from home and came back to confirm, through friend Wiki, that there does indeed exist such a game. Apparently I'm the only one in the universe who has never heard of it.

I really like the pattern of the black squares b/c it reminds me of an ink splotch

Nebraska Doug 6:22 PM  

Seems like I agree with many folks. I blazed through the east thinking this would be one of my fastest Saturday's ever, but then got bogged down in the west, but eventually figured it out. Putting in a plug for Yo La Tengo - IMHO - one of the best bands in the last 20 years, I've seen them live and have ever CD they've released. If you like indie rock and don't know them, you owe it to yourself to check them out.

mac 6:58 PM  

Is there any way for me to get the NY Sun crossword puzzle on my screen and print it out? So far I haven't even been able to see it.
Another funny thing, last Monday I asked my NY Times guy in NY if he had a "Sun", but he said his customers only wanted it on Thursdays. Why???

Wade 7:17 PM  

Ulrich, it makes me sad that you've never played Yahtzee.

Wobbith 7:27 PM  

@mac - try saving the file to disk and opening it from there.

Great, great lively puzzle.

One nit - dorys are not generally lake boats. They are typically ocean boats and also sometimes used in whitewater.

@margaret - I have the exact same reaction to "gull". Saw "1776" with the original cast on Broadway, and loved it. I listen to the soundtrack every July 4.

Bill from NJ 7:44 PM  

@chefbea1-

Add me to the crowd of people who misread the clue to 8D. I, too, thought it was my glasses. It's funny how things like this seem to happen all the time.

Nebraska Doug 8:02 PM  

@mac - Are you using Firefox or Explorer? A while back the NY Sun puzzles quit opening properly for me in Firefox, I tried the same address in Explorer and they open fine in that application. Just tried it again to make sure.

foodie 8:53 PM  

I've been camping at the beautiful Big Sur over the last few days, with no internet access but, remarkably, access to the NYTimes paper. Knowing you cannot search really changes the solving experience, at least for me. I managed to finish both yesterday and today in respectable times, and did it by being willing to throw away guesses that I thought were perfect. Like many of you, I blazed through the East, and stumbled through the West. Especially that I wrote Ecuador and never got the Q...

As to the Falafel clue, I assumed the sesames are the little decorations with sesame seeds that they sprinkle on a lot of falafels.. But I guess that's not seasoning? The clue probably meant the very liquid sesame-based tahini dip that is used with it...

Anyhow, while sad to leave Big Sur, it's great to be back and hear everyone's voices here ...

ArtLvr 8:53 PM  

p.s. re the ERIE CANAL -- it didn't get officially opened until 1825, in case the date threw you off! The NY Governor whose "Folly" it was supposed to be was DeWitt Clinton. At completion, the Canal was nearly 400 miles long and turned out to be one of the era's engineering wonders of the world, connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson River, and facilitating greater settlement of the upper Midwest and beyond.

More of note in NY history: Dewitt Cinton was the nephew of George Clinton, the first (and longest-serving) Governor of New York: 1777-1795 and again 1801-1805, a total of 21 years. George was also the first US Vice President to serve in two different administrations -- with Jefferson and then with Madison -- and also the first Vice President to die in office. Neither George nor Dewitt Clinton was related to our 42nd US President Bill Clinton, who was born William Jefferson Blythe III and later took the name of his step-father.

@ mac -- if you are using a Mac, and Cruciverb.com, just hold the control key down and select "download" on the pop-up menu -- then your NYS can download to where the NYT shows up without this extra step....

∑;)

Ulrich 9:48 PM  

@wade: I appreciate your concern. But you're a lawyer and may know the old Latin saw ignoti nulla cupido: There is no desire for that which is unknown.

Bill D 9:52 PM  

In 1831 the first steam railroad locomotive to run in New York State was christened The DeWitt Clinton for the Mohawk & Hudson RR. It ran between Albany and Schenectady, probably along the route of the canal. Its passengers cars were stage coaches mounted on flanged wheels.

The DeWitt Clinton was the fourth steam engine in the US. The first three were The Stourbridge Lion (1829/Delaware & Hudson; built in England), The Tom Thumb (1829/Baltimore & Ohio), and The Best Friend of Charleston (1830/Charleston & Hamburg).

Fergus 9:54 PM  

@ bill d -- your comments are consistently amusing. I liked your take on Wade's pipe dream.

@ foodie -- don't you love that about coastal California campgrounds? You get wonderful pristine wilderness, yet can find the NYTimes at the nearest bodega. Driving a couple of miles from the Pomo campground, as I once did, to get Indian take-away near the mouth of the Russian River illustrates the accessibility. Purists will detest this arrangement, but so what.

mac 10:14 PM  

Dear Wobbith (sounds like something from Tolkien), nebraska doug and artlvr, thank you so much for the tips: I'm going to try all of them. As I said before, it's not even easy to buy the paper!

@Ulrich: I think here they say: "You don't miss what you don't know".

@Fergus, we travel a lot but I am loathe to go where I can't get the NYT or the Herald tribune....

Bill D 10:31 PM  

Thanks, Fergus - I'm just trying to keep up here!

mac 11:25 PM  

Sorry, all of you, I still cannot get the Sun puzzle. Not a very user friendly site.....

Joon 11:49 PM  

mac, can you describe the problem you are having with the sun puzzles? "i haven't been able to see it" isn't very specific. it might also help to know what operating system and browser you are using.

one common problem people have with the NYS is that the server presents the file to your browser as text, rather than as a binary, so that many browsers attempt to display the file instead of having an external program (across lite) handle it. one workaround is to download the .zip file instead, and then unzip it to find the .puz file inside, which you can then open with across lite. but it's a bit clunky.

on a mac, it's not trivial to download a file that your browser thinks is text, because even if you do save it to your computer, the operating system still thinks it's a text file and won't open it in across lite. one way to work around this is to specify the format as "all files" instead of as a text file when you save it, but not every browser displays this option. right-clicking (or control-clicking if you don't have the mighty mouse) sometimes solves this problem, but not always.

if you are using a mac, by far the nicest way to get the sun puzzles is using alex boisvert's handy utility which downloads a week's worth of sun puzzles at a time with no right-clicking or anything of that sort. but it might take some effort to get it working off the bat.

Barb in Chicago 11:59 PM  

I too am a Yahtzee virgin.

Really enjoyed this puzzle. Lots of great words and clues. Did anyone else appreciate the cool almost anagrammatic (?) relationship of TANGELO ad YOLATENGO?

The grid was pretty, too.

foodie 2:00 AM  

@fergus

It's late (though still Saturday on this end of the continent), but I did want to say that I think this stretch of the West Coast is the closest thing to perfection I have ever seen. We've been coming to Big Sur for years, and it never fails to take my breath away. Yet, as you point out, civilization is nearby. What else can anyone ask for?

Jim in NYC 4:37 AM  

DeWitt Clinton Park is a really shitty dustbowl in West Midtown. The kids hate it when their baseball games are scheduled there.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

Hey Mellocat! Great puzzle! I finished without googling -- which to me means the puzzle has solid construction with no arcane crossings a person can't suss out given enough time and a good eraser. So what if it took me several "sittings"?!?

Hey Rex, my favorite quote of yours to date.... "not *that* Rome, sucka!"

Rock Rabbit

jsnivley 11:10 AM  

What in the world is TANDY?

Chooch 11:26 AM  

What's a TANDY?

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

prefillerate - yes, I do it all the time. I'm so glad I'm not alone.

I never time myself but I just "knew" a lot of this and if I'd been timing I would have been tripping over my pencil to get it all in. Much more fun to savor all the great stuff in here slowly.

You % buffs - do you think it was close to 100% of us who wanted ecstatic? Have I ever heard of a seaquake? Don't think so. After all it is still the earth quaking under the sea, yes? No matter. Grew up near an arm of the San Andreas fault and am terrified of earthquakes to this day and mildly hyperventilate at any quake clue or answer. No, I do not wish to move back to CA and this is the only reason.

I sometimes have trouble with the Sun and/or archived NYT. Never knew why, don't care. Because I just reload and it works on my mac. The elves inside my computer take coffee breaks too, I suppose.

As usual this 9:25 post is 6 weeks later. Grumble, grumble.

Chorister

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

Tandy = Radio Shack

Retired_Chemist 4:53 PM  

Re TANDY - it was the name used for Radio Shack computers. The notorious TRS-80, pronounced trash-eighty, as one. They no longer are made. As a local, North Texas (Fort Worth) product, they were popular here.

@ Barb in Chicago - YOLATENGO and TANGELO - OY! are true anagrams. The latter is a paraphrase of my comment when I got 4D.

Did anyone else (gull) at first? That, with ADO instead of the big stretch AIL for 7D (bother) made my NW a slow and painful trek, but more like Lewis and Clark than the Donner party. By which I mean I survived...

And I personally think re 22A, "it's hit with a pinky" is not a good clue for ENTER KEY. ENTER KEY is hit with a pointer or middle finger. Come to think of it, ALL keys are when I type....

Retired_Chemist 4:56 PM  

Let's get that 3rd paragraph straight.

Did anyone else have CHEAT instead of COZEN for 2D(gull) at first? That, with ADO instead of the big stretch AIL for 7D (bother) made my NW a slow and painful trek, but more like Lewis and Clark than the Donner party. By which I mean I survived...

WWPierre 6:09 PM  

A red herring got me started. I had AMORE,1d and BREED for 3d "Dalmatian, e.g.", Making MORATORIA obvious. It wasn't until the ENTER KEY that I was forced to reconsider the spotted dog.

This was a 3 cupper for me. I never go for speedy solving, preferring to savour the flavour, rather than bolting it down.

I think I can already detect a softening of Rex's attitude towards the constructors since he began constructing himself.

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