Basslike fish / WED 10-6-10 / Mischievous rural pastime / 1970 James Taylor hit / Valentine embellishment / Bygone warship

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: OPENING BELL (58A: Sound of capitalism? ... or a hint to the starts of 17-, 22-, 35- and 46-Across) — "openings" of four theme answers are all types of "bells"


Word of the Day: SNOOK (41A: Basslike fish) —

The common snook (Centropomus undecimalis) is a species of marine fish in the family Centropomidae of the order Perciformes. This species is native to the coastal waters of the western Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, from southern Florida and Texas to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The oo can be pronounced as in either room or good. [...] Considered an excellent food fish, the common snook is fished commercially and raised in aquaculture although it is not available for sale in the United States. It is also prized as a game fish, being known for their great fighting capabilities. (wikipedia)
• • •

Mostly pleasant experience, with just a few rough spots. This is a familiar theme type (I don't mean that as criticism): find a familiar phrase and then interpret it literally. Try it with, let's say, TOP DOG or TIGHT END or FALSE START or something; maybe none of those would work, but you get the idea. You could just as easily do a puzzle around CLOSING BELL as OPENING BELL, frankly. Today's theme works well, though it raises both numerous bell possibilities as well as numerous answer possibilities for several of those bells—disappointed in DINNER ETIQUETTE, which, while it has the beautiful "Q," doesn't make a lot of sense, since the cited "ETIQUETTE" (keeping your elbows off the table) applies to all meals, presumably, not just "DINNER." DINNER AND A MOVIE would have fit, which isn't great, but that's just off the top of my head. When a theme has soooo many possibilities, I expect the answers to be air-tight and sparkly. Can't help but wonder where my DOOR, SLEIGH, SCHOOL, and TACO answers are — this could have been Sunday theme. Certainly wouldn't have been any worse than some of the Sundays I've had to do lately.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: 1970 James Taylor hit ("FIRE AND RAIN") — only three-word answer, but I still like it better than DINNER ETIQUETTE


  • 22A: Mischievous rural pastime (COW TIPPING) — I have never found this amusing. Just seems cruel. (oh, it's a rural legend? Good)
  • 35A: Keeping your elbows off the table, e.g. (DINNER ETIQUETTE)
  • 46A: Classic Dana Carvey character, with "the" (CHURCH LADY)
Someone must have *really* liked the answer SNOOK (why, I don't know), because that eastern section could be filled so much better. LESSEE (45A: Renter)?? It should give you physical pain to leave LESSEE in your puzzle (i.e. it should be there only as an absolute necessity—and today, it's just not). I mean, LESSER, LESSEN, LESSON, LESTER, LESBOS, *all* better, and *all* doable. You could change SNOOK to SNARK right now without changing anything else about the grid and I think it'd be an improvement (I really like the word "SNARK"). I'm just saying, I don't know what's going on over there, but I don't like it.

Grid looks easy on review, but I had only an average time because of several small sticking points. Took me far too long to see OTIS / ESCALATOR (2D: Big name in the 20-Across business). I had ADD-ON for ADD TO (i.e. took "Supplement" as a noun). Blanked on SNOOK, which I know only very vaguely, and then (probably) only from xwords. Had real trouble prying open the whole SW corner, as THORAX was not anywhere near the top of my mind for the vague clue [Chest] and AUGUST was also tough to pick up, with its non-month clue. Really love the (weird) clue for HAS (60A: Orders at a restaurant). Lastly, as far as screw-ups go, I had LTCOL for LIEUT (47D: Capt.'s inferior). I don't think I'll ever get the military ranking system straight in my head. At this point, it's all intuitive for me (based on number of letters, crosses, and my sense of a potential answer's commonness).

Bullets:
  • 1A: Red October detector (SONAR) — got it right away, and then thought there was some more specialized word that I was forgetting ... something with an "L" ... LORAN? Yep, that's it.
  • 51A: Bygone warship (IRONSIDES) — keeping up the nautical subtheme ...
  • 21D: Body organs associated with anger (SPLEENS) — my wife doesn't have one, and mine has been "enlarged" since I was a child (it's likely normal, the way my head size is normal, i.e. gigantic but not pathologically so). We both get angry, but it's true, I'm probably more inclined that way than she. Damn SPLEEN and its irksome humours!
  • 28D: Singer honored on a 2008 U.S. postage stamp (SINATRA) — now that's a clue trying to be tough. I see they went with young hot SINATRA over old fat SINATRA.
  • 49D: Valentine embellishment (DOILY) — I can picture this, vaguely, but don't think I've seen it in this century. If you could find a plausible rationale, you could make an I-for-L switch puzzle with the theme answer "HELLO, DOILY!" Get on it!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

84 comments:

Evgeny 7:15 AM  

Cow tipping isn't actually cruel, since it's an urban (or rather rural) myth. Ill-guided humour and no worse. It's impossible for a human to tip over a cow, because they're (a) too heavy and (b) do not sleep standing up.

Anonymous 7:21 AM  

I like LORAN better as a word, but it has nothing to do with detecting a sub - it's a navigation aid.

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

To Browse is not to Peruse. They are more opposite than the same.

DanaJ 8:06 AM  

Gotta love a puzzle with both SPLEENS and THORAX. But I am still lost on how HAS means "orders at a restaurant". Can someone enlighten me?

Anonymous 8:07 AM  

I don't get "has" for "restaurant orders"?

Hungry Mother 8:13 AM  

I wonder about the population of fishermen who do crosswords? This fisherman had no problem with "snook", which is a Holy Grail in SW Florida, where I winter and fish off of my kayak.

dk 8:14 AM  

Anon, Has a cow...err malt.

Easy peasy for a Wednesday. Must be the differential calculus course I am taking for fun.

That said. The puzzle was just plain fun.

*** (3 Stars)

KooKooKaChoo 8:22 AM  

What the heck is Neil Diamond doing on that album cover...nevermind.

SW a mess w/ my "thoric." "Scythe" has an "e" on the end? Who knew? Just looked so wrong, I couldn't put it in. I liked the singular "static" for the plural "complaints" when I came here to cheat. But boy was that block a mess for me.

So frustrating to breeze through most, get so close, and not be able to untangle. Grr...

David L 8:24 AM  

Nice puzzle but this was Monday-easy for me. Has Mr Shortz gone soft on us? We're due for a humdinger this weekend.

Is CAUSAL agent really a phrase? Doesn't ring any bells with me, opening or otherwise.

ArtLvr 8:28 AM  

No complaints, but STATIC was a bit tricky without a question mark? And when I saw the SNOOK, it made me laugh, thinking of the Brit phrase "cock a snook" (or thumb one's nose) -- often heard as "cock a snoot" in the US.

As to the Anon comment about PERUSE, my dictionary says that the meaning "to read carefully and critically" is now rare, so that more commonly today it's simply "read through" or browse...

Anyway, the puzzle's language appealed to me, from AUGUST, SAVANT and RITZY to DUMPY and SPLEENS. The COW TIPPING was a hoot too, like a snipe hunt!

∑;)

Anonymous 8:31 AM  

I too don't get HAS?

joho 8:40 AM  

@Anon 8:31 etal ... when you order something to eat at a restaurant you have it. So HAS here means eats or orders.

I am so happy to learn that COWTIPPING is a myth.

I liked seeing CHURCHLADY appear.

Thought this a cute theme but not very challenging for a Wednesday.

mmorgan 8:45 AM  

To those with HAS problems: think of someone saying "I'll have what he's having."

Fun and very easy though I too had ADDON and LTCOL (and, briefly, SURE for IBET). Everything slowed way down in the SE -- but when it fell (or when the BELL went off), it was very pleasant.

I like the idea of the CHURCHLADY doing YOGA, or the OPENING BELL being the USUAL TEASE. I will always BEWARE ORRIN Hatch, and there's something very enjoyable about saying ATARI DUMPY TAR aloud.

jesser 8:52 AM  

I misread the clue at 1A as Red October director. Thank Poseidon for the crosses. When SONAR appeared up there, I -- still clueless (ha!) -- was thinking, "Who's a director named SONAR?" D'oh!

I'm not sure why I'm offended by idiot SAVANT, but it seems meaner than cow-tipping.

When I was editor of the NMSU student newspaper, someone told me about an experiment with the cows down at the Ag lot, so I went down there, Mr. Investigative Reporter, and found that there were indeed cows with windows implanted in their sides, such that you could actually see the gurgling of one of the stomachs. I had my photog snap a pic of me cleaning a cow window with Windex. The picture accompanied a column about the cows with windows. The Ag people flipped the &*%$ out, and I got in a lot of trouble, and it was totally worth it. I still get comments about the cows with windows 26 years later.

Only writover today was ScAN before UTOPIA revealed itself and put a P where I could c it.

Overall, me likey!

Mical! (is usually 'the usual' and Joseph the bartender heads directly for the bourbon. Loves it.) -- jesser

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

I thought for sure someone would invoke the Natick Principle for "Lynn", 45D. I mean, really, Lynn? So many other possibilities. ....

Elisa 9:07 AM  

Inner Body Bright = Expansion of the Thorax

mitchs 9:15 AM  

Fished for snook off Marcos Island. I can attest to the fight...you think you have a 5-pounder on the line and out pops this dinky little tough guy. GREAT eating.

@Anon 7:40 PERUSE has a secondary definition that does mean a cursory examination.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:17 AM  

Would say I learned something today, re: WOTD SNOOK, but I doubt I will remember it!

Rex, thanks for the link to COWTIPPING. Took the subject from something I thought was cruel, as others did, to laugh-out-loud funny.

Lookup Guy 9:23 AM  

@David L.

Definitions of CAUSAL AGENT on the Web:

•any entity that produces an effect or is responsible for events or results
wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Tinbeni 9:27 AM  

Other than my daily "Toast at Sunset" the OPENING BELL is my favorite time of the day.
Time to press the capitalism and hopefully never going back to "a real job."

Hey, a "shout out" to Amy, ORANGE.

Like the SMART WIT stack.

FUN Wednesday.

SethG 9:28 AM  

I think DINNER AND A MOVIE would have been fine. Or SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK, which would be awesome enough for me to overlook the slight inconsistency.
There's a book called Saved By The Light, but it's unfortunately not famous enough.

chefbea 9:30 AM  

Did not like the puzzle and had to google.

Caught a snook once when vacationing in Florida!!!

As for orders at a restaurant...

Me: "I'll have the roasted beets please"

Waiter: I'm sorry, we are out of them.

So I guess I wont have them although I ordered them

Glitch 9:30 AM  

Our local dairy farm sells "home made" (farm made?) ice cream in a cow themed shop.

There's a jug on the counter labeled "COWTIPPING PERMITTED".

.../Glitch

His Eliotness 9:32 AM  

Cowtipping may be a myth to you but not to me. Cattle give us milk, butter, ice cream, cheese, steak, leather, and on and on and on. The least you could manage is a measley 15% gratuity.

Tobias Duncan 9:55 AM  

Has = how you might order if you are a lolcat, " I can has a cheezburger?"

fikink 10:06 AM  

Loved STATIC, too. How come I never see any audiophile words in puzzles?
I guess since the advent of CDs, all talk of "fry" and "wow" is gone.
@Amy, did you arrange SAVANT next to ORANGE?

I know, I know, another off-the-wall post from the peanut gallery ;)

roxanne 10:18 AM  

have been told by my son's college roommate (an olkahoman) that cow tipping was the big teenage activity in his dull small town.

John V 10:22 AM  

So, also thought 60D, "has" was clunky, even thought I got it. Liked 42D scythe, 43D thorax, more Thursday-like words, to me. Initally had 15A as "campy". Otherwise, easier than usual.

JenCT 10:26 AM  

Got stuck in the southwest corner for a while - couldn't see STATIC for the longest time.

As for the Jersey Shore cast member pictured, I cannot believe those talentless nobodies are famous. What has our world come to?

joecab 10:29 AM  

How disappointing: I came here today fully expecting to see an image of All Star or Junior Wetworth because any entry with SNO_K for some underwater creature is just begging to be SNORK, but noooooooo...

Van55 10:33 AM  

@anon at 8:07:

World English Dictionary
peruse (pəˈruːz)

— vb
1. to read or examine with care; study
2. to browse or read through in a leisurely way

Why is it no surprise to me that RP likes SNARK? LOL
To me LESSEE is a perfectly fine answer -- as good as RP's proposed alternatives.

All in all this was an enjoyable, easy solve for me. Perhaps a bit easier than the usual Wednesday.

Two Ponies 10:35 AM  

Too easy and not much fun.
Like KooKooKaChoo I gotta wonder about that Neil Diamond album cover. It looks like he's at the punch line of a dirty joke.

I am having trouble making a sentence using "has" as it is clued.
Never saw Lynn but what a stupid clue. I'm supposed to know that?

ArtLvr 10:41 AM  

@jesser -- loved your tale of the viewing window into the cows' stomachs! I was a grad assistant in Purdue's Animal Science Dept. for a year, ages ago, and took part in some memorable projects -- One had us collecting blood from cows' jugulars with huge syringes, for which they stood still quite calmly, but the farmer had left them scattered out in very muddy dung-filled pastures and we had to slop all over to approach each one...

Other projects included drawing blood from chickens directly from the heart, and persuading selected hogs to mount dummy females of disguised sawhorses in order to collect samples for artificial insemination!

My favorite was a week-long, dawn-to-dusk series of team laparotomies on a flock of old ewes, or "pelters" (no longer good for much but their pelts). After measuring the ovaries, counting egg follilcles and taking photos, we neatly stuffed everything back in place and stitched them up... All came through the our initiation to surgery just fine!

∑;)

Barbarian 10:47 AM  

I cant be the only one who had "doc" (for documentary) at 34D, can I? I was so tickled to see the clue and blithely put in "doc." (And I don't do "blithely" blithely...it's serious.) Thought it was adorable--great shoutout to us NYT puzzlers. Then had to give it up PDQ.

Curses to my frequent rambling method of solving: start at NW, but at 1st hitch just read the clues and put in whatever appears.

Meh.

mmorgan 10:54 AM  

@Two Ponies -- "Every time she goes to that restaurant, she has the same thing." Does that work?

Two Ponies 11:05 AM  

@ mmorgan, Yep, it sure does. Now I feel better.
So now tell me the punch line of Neil Diamond's joke :)

archaeoprof 11:07 AM  

1A is a shout-out to the Cincinnati Reds, who open the NLDS today. Go Reds!

Mel Ott 11:13 AM  

The SNOOK is an important game fish in Florida. I don't know if there is a taxonomic connection but it doesn't look much like a bass to me.

I had trouble with 51A. If the reference is to the USS Constitution, the full nickname is "Old IRONSIDES", not the partial answer in the grid. I believe the vessel in question is still a commissioned warship of the US Navy, so it is technically not "bygone".

I wondered if IRONSIDES might be a generic term but a quick Google search does not reveal any such usage.

Tony from Charm City 11:22 AM  

I didn't have an issue with DINNER ETIQUETTE. I was never scolded by my mother for having elbows on the table during breakfast or lunch. It was only during dinner when we were told such things as "Sit up", "Elbows off the table", "Don't slurp the soup", etc. I assume this is because dinner is the "family meal" and at times, family friends were invited as well.

Ulrich 11:28 AM  

This is the time line, so far, indicating when, in today's comments, the question about HAS was raised (Q) and answered (A):

Q 8:07 - A 8:14 - Q 8:31 - A 8:40 - A 8:45 - A 9:30 - Q 10:35 - A 11:05 (to be continued, I'm sure, for the rest of the day)...

JANDIZ 11:28 AM  

Ok- this is off topic- but there is a scavenger hunt for this puzzle on www.WillShortz.com.

and i can get to the site but can't navigate through. has anyone tried? www.ItWPAthway.com?

PuzzleNut 11:29 AM  

@mmorgan - good sentence. After reading about all the problems with HAS, I was trying to come up with the sentence and couldn't get past HAD.
No real problems. Liked CHURCHLADY, AUGUST and UTOPIA. Didn't much care for the large number of three letter words.
I have an autistic son and am very familiar with the term IDIOT SAVANT. He is just the opposite - a fairly clever kid with no outstanding talents (other than being a good violinist). Agree with @jesser that the term seems mean-spirited.

hazel 11:47 AM  

I thought this puzzle was a pretty good one. Liked DUMPY, COWTIPPING, CHURCHLADY, and SINATRA too. And the fact that the theme answers were all so different. Made for a nice AHA.

I don't think I would classify that picture on the SINATRA stamp, as hot - something about that hat - and the teeth too. Ruins the hotness factor. And the picture of SNOOK trying to be hot, really funny and really sad.

@Archeo - What is the connex between the Reds and SONAR? Please note that I am also rooting for the Reds, as I do not want to see the Phillies again (if the Braves advance - big if).

Charlie Babbitt 11:49 AM  

Savant made me think immediately of Rain Man and the true-life person, Kim Peek, who inspired the character. Peek read books two pages at a time, left page with his left eye and right page with his right eye.
Idiot Savant was a phrase invented by a Frenchman so perhaps the use of idiot is not so cruel in his language.

archaeoprof 11:54 AM  

@Hazel: "Red October"!!

(It's been so long since the Reds made the post-season, perhaps I am seeing things...)

Mel Ott 12:03 PM  

Hey! My spouse's family is from Lynn. They called it "Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin."

joecab 12:21 PM  

(completing the rest of that Lynn phrase)

"You never come out the way you went in"

Tinbeni 12:23 PM  

@archaeoprof
Naaaaah, 1A's answer SONAR is your real 'shout-out' ... you'll need one since I think you're going to sink.

SINATRA, Who sings NEW YORK, NEW YORK.
Played at The Stadium after every victory.
28 HAS a nice look to it.

hazel 12:24 PM  

@archaeo - good grief. I forgot about the clue!! Good luck to them (for now).

JaxInL.A. 12:26 PM  

Yesterday's alternating discussion of what constitutes a baseball "hit" and the proper use of punctuation and diacritical marks in crossword puzzles gave me a good belly laugh.  It also prompted me to say to my husband "these are my people!"   That is, folks who care enough about the nuances of language to argue about such things.  This daily dose of erudition is paying off big.  I have become a much better solver from hanging out with you guys.  I haven't had to Google anything for a week. Now I realize that this can't last and it's been a very easy week overall, but I do think I have gotten better because of learning from @Rex and all of you.  Thanks.

Strangely enough, I almost liked this one better without knowing the theme, which seemed workmanlike but rather ordinary.  The fill and the theme answers had no really ugly answers (though I did grimace at How___ being TOS). Loads of words you don't see all the time in puzzles, esp. those lovely stacks of three six-word answers in the NE and SW. Kudos to Mr. Livengood for avoiding initials, abbreviations and phrase fragments, despite the high number of three-letter words in the puzzle.

Several clues gave me that nice "wha...? Oh, yeah." feeling. Who knew SNOOK was a fish? Came all from crosses.

This was great fun.

(captcha = alibreat: someone free of books?)

Glitch 12:27 PM  

@Ulrich

I HAD the same reaction ;)

.../Glitch

nanpilla 12:39 PM  

Just got back from the Kentucky Horse Park, and four days at the World Equestrian Games.(Just as a spectator of course!) First time held in the US. What a wonderful international competition. My horse would be SAFEr if he were bombproof! And SLEW reminds me of Seattle.

Had a malapop, putting BED in for nail holder, then having to move it over for Flower's home.

Liked this puzzle overall-but seemed very easy for a Wednesday.

mitchs 12:48 PM  

@archaeoprof: headed home early this evening so as not to miss the first pitch...ain't life grand?

Moonchild 12:53 PM  

You mean all my toe does is hold a nail? For some reason that clue/answer kinda grossed me out.
I got a little mixed up on what was a theme answer and wondered about an Iron bell? Oops.
I like the Lynn slogan but I've never heard of the city.

Martin 12:58 PM  

"Basslike" is a pretty generous adjective. A generally not-too-deep body plan and two dorsal fins (one bony, one soft) will do.

Black bass
Japanese seabass
Snook

In a pinch, like trying to sell something called "toothfish," you're allowed to stretch even farther:

"Chilean seabass"

JaxInL.A. 12:59 PM  

FYI to this puzzle crowd--Senator Hatch appears in today's Onion puzzle as well. Funny to have them pop right up the same day.

Clark 1:05 PM  

When it comes to rural activities, I much prefer snipe hunting to cow tipping.

Doc John 1:23 PM  

Very medical today, what with THORAX and SPLEEN.
Not really quite sure how spleen got associated with anger, though, as its function is mostly for maintenance of the blood and immune capacity but I sure like the expression, "vent your spleen"! I actually thought of adrenal first, and it does fit but had other known letters in place already so knew that wasn't it.

Masked and Anonymous 1:32 PM  

Mighty neighborly WedPuz. Not an especially tough fighter, but had some impressive six-letter slabs in the SW and NE. GnU count was into double digits, so it even catered to M&A's personal fetishes. Well done, young Ian L.

Worked this one upside-down, while spouse attacked it head-on, at the local waffle house. [Diner etiquette.] Pancakes. Mmmmm. A real hoot writing in the words upside down. Tip for beginners at upside-down solving: You write yer N's, the same, either way.

Hi-Yo, Dumpy Snook, away . . .

fikink 1:37 PM  

In honor of the puzzle today, SINATRA is blaring over the pasture, the COWs are TIPPING in rhythm, FIL is practicing his DINNER ETTIQUETTE, and some somebody who, if he plays his cards right, will see my AUGUST THORAX tonight. ;)
Life is good.

Lookup Guy 1:46 PM  

@Doc John

vent your spleen: to express your anger

Etymology: from the idea in the past that the spleen (an organ in the body) was the place where evil intentions began

jesser 2:21 PM  

@ ArtLvr: Ag colleges are truly remarkable places. I once 'got' to palpate a cow's uterus. It was gross.

@ PuzzleNut: Thanks for helping me understand why I was offended.

jesser

Steve J 2:31 PM  

Either I'm experiencing a sharp surge in my solving speed, or this was another very easy Wednesday (although not as ridiculously easy as last week's), as I ended up at about 60% of my average Wednesday time. The only spots that gave me any resistance were the NW (thanks for having -NDRRAIN and not being able to think of why JT was singing about plumbing) and the clunky 37-39A area (my brain didn't want to accept at first that SNOOK was the correct answer).

Didn't enjoy this as much as Monday's no-resistance puzzle (which I loved), but this was pretty good overall. Theme answers came insanely quickly to me (other than DINNERETIQUETTE - which seemed fine since, as others mentioned, dinner is typically a much more formal meal than breakfast or lunch). Most of the downs fell with just one cross.

Agreed with Rex that a TACO answer would have been a kick. Would have provided an extra layer of humor, at least for me.

shrub5 2:41 PM  

Easy puzzle but still meaty enough to be fun.

For the 2D/20A pair, thought it was OTIS/ELEVATOR (I had the -ATOR) but elevator was too short. Erased both, only to realize it was ESCALATOR, so put OTIS back in.

First thought for 7D was John Grisham but he didn't fit. Needed some crosses before seeing TUROW. I get their works mixed up.

Glad to learn cow tipping is an urban myth -- or a rural myth. Also thanks to all who provided info on SNOOK, the feisty fish.

@RP: LOL at Hello, DOILY !

Nighthawk 2:45 PM  

@TwoPonies So the other juror leans over with a gleam in his eye and says, "You know, a good goat will do that!"

Nighthawk 2:51 PM  

Forgot to add the other LYNN rhyme, used to bouncing a child on your lap while holding their hands like reins:
"Trot trot to Boston,
Trot trot to Lynn,
Look out little [insert child's name]
that you don't
fall
in..."

George NYC 3:07 PM  

Calling (Old) Ironsides BYGONE would not be a HIT in LYNN, or anywhere else near Boston Harbor, where the ship is still very much afloat, and as Mr Ott mentioned above, still commissioned. That's one of the things it's famous for, and a reason why I didn't immediately write it in. And having the answer missing the OLD didn't help.

And I object to having the hijacking of the meaning of PERUSE into its opposite buttressed by the New York Times.

Mr Shortz, call your office.

sanfranman59 3:45 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Wed 9:50, 11:37, 0.85, 18%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 4:56, 5:44, 0.86, 14%, Easy

J 4:21 PM  

Easier than some Wednesdays I've seen.

Use of THORAX and SCYTHE...a bit strange, but, hey....

For those who don't get HAS, think of a waiter in a diner with an armful of plates saying, "OK, who has the tuna melt?"

And the Neil Diamond cover: when that came out when I was about 12, I thought, why does Neil Diamond take himself so seriously?

chefwen 4:51 PM  

Funny cow tipping T-shirts are rife in Wisconsin, bought one for my animal/house sitter once while back visiting M & D, he loves it.

Heard Ellen De Generes sp? say something about Snookie's poof once, and thought what the hell is a Snookie's poof? Was really sad when I found out, what a waste.

Puzzle was super easy for me also, only write over was CAUSAL over my double agent.

My dad would crack my elbow if it was on the table now he eats with his elbows on the table, when I mentioned to him about the abuse I used to get for the same offense, his reply was "times have changed". Thanks dad.

Anonymous 6:44 PM  

@George NYC: I also object to the support by NYT of hijacking word meanings into their opposite. The same thing is true of "comprise," which has been hijacked into its opposite as well, and the NYT supports the hijacked version. It's very confusing when a word can mean one thing as well as its exact opposite.

Crosswords involve Wordplay 6:51 PM  

You say eether and I say eyether,
You say neether and I say nyther;
Eether, eyether, neether, nyther,
Let's call the whole thing off!
You like potato and I like potahto,
You like tomato and I like tomahto;
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto!
Let's call the whole thing off!

mac 8:32 PM  

Nice to be back!
I also found this one easy, and my only write-over, Jesser, was scan/span, as well.

Coincidence: this morning, at Schiphol, I read an English newspaper and there was an article about Sir Cliff Richard, who admits to being obsessed with his figure, is on a special blood-type diet to keep his waist at 30 inches so he can show his body off in calendars.

Ulrich 8:41 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 8:44 PM  

@George NYC and anonymous: Words that have opposite meanings depending on context are a feature of English--"sanction" being the canonical example. I have no problem with "compromise" b/c context will clarify which meaning is intended. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily true for "peruse"--and that's why I'm with you on this one and regret the meaning that now seems prevalent--I didn't even know this until today, and have been using the word in its original meaning--I wonder how many people misunderstood me because of this--that's so pernicious about this one...

@mac: Welcome back home--it has been a miserable week here in CT

Anonymous 9:09 PM  

Rex seems a bit snarky about today’s puzzle, but then picks SNOOK as the WOTD. I get HAS for orders at a restaurant. My son has the pork chop at Ditka’s when we go there for lunch. Wasn’t IRON SIDES a Raymond Burr character (in a wheelchair)?...

Sfingi 9:33 PM  

Easy, but theme not interesting to me.
Did like ETIQUETTE, DOILY, RITZY.

Had waTchED before NOTICED, dyE before HUE.

Don't know if cows get tipped. But they can get up and down by themselves. They like to follow the leader. You'll see a bunch lying down, then another bunch standing up, etc. So, I guess there are trend-setters.

@Jesser - she thought it was gross, too. And that was with your fingers, I assume.

@Chefwen - agree that Snookie is a waste of humanity.

@Nanpilla - liked your masochistic malaprop.

Mini-theme - Captain's inferior

My son, of Brookline, MA, says Lynn is a dump even though it's seaside. The only reason I even asked was our biggest slumlord in Utica, now, was once a slumlord there, til they sued his a-- out of town. And Utica used to be called Sin City in the Mafia days - so referred to in a song by Annette Funicello who left us as a child.

sanfranman59 10:01 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 5:46, 6:57, 0.83, 1%, Easy
Tue 8:41, 8:55, 0.97, 50%, Medium
Wed 9:57, 11:37, 0.86, 20%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:16, 3:43, 0.88, 3%, Easy
Tue 4:37, 4:36, 1.00, 57%, Medium
Wed 4:47, 5:44, 0.83, 11%, Easy

Anonymous 10:05 PM  

The weather in the East is apparently not nice but today was a perfect Indian summer day in Chicagoland. We drove up to the chain of lakes area but saw no COW TIPPING (though I did see a bull tip the waitress at the café by the water). As we sat outside by the water munching on our burgers for our late lunch, we observed our DINNER ETIQUETTE. SNOOK and COD were not on the menu; otherwise I would have had one or the other grilled. We prefer to eat CASUAL instead of going to RITZY restaurants like TRU. Afterwards we usually go to a DQ, even if it’s not AUGUST....

Gray 10:21 PM  

Speaking of, whatever happened to Quarfoot? I miss him.

Raymond Burr 10:27 PM  

@Anonymous 9:09 - The character I played was named Ironside, singular, not Ironsides like the ship.

@Anonymous 10:05 - Perhaps your Casual eating is a Causal factor in your impending obesity.

Anonymous 11:52 PM  

@Raymond Burr, that's RICH... (DO I LY?)

fergus 2:41 PM  

A slew of trouble I had with this, since as you see I'm posting on Thursday.

tim 12:59 PM  

While I understand the group rationale of DINNER ETIQUETTE, I really think it should having been "dining etiquette", which is what I had until I realized it wouldn't work.

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