Feldshuh of Brewster's Millions / THU 10-7-10 / Outdoor retail promotion / Cartoon 23 best-selling books / Carrier overseer / Nimbus launcher 1964

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Constructor: Patrick Blindauer

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: HEXAGON (40A: Figure that shares a property with this puzzle) — there are six SIDEs in this puzzle, all of them arranged along the SIDEs of the grid, as part of answers that feature 90-degree turns


Word of the Day: TOVAH Feldshuh (3D: Feldshuh of "Brewster's Millions") —

Tovah Feldshuh (born December 27, 1952) is an American actress, singer and playwright. [...] Feldshuh appeared on the stage under the name Terri Fairchild before deciding to incorporate her Hebrew name and her original surname as her professional name Tovah Feldshuh. She made her Broadway debut in the short-lived 1973 musical Cyrano starring Christopher Plummer. She appeared in the title role in Yentl both off-Broadway at the Chelsea Theater Center and later on Broadway. Both productions are detailed in the book, Chelsea on the Edge: The Adventures of an American Theater, which describes tensions between Feldshuh and director Robert Kalfin over the play's interpretation. [...] Feldshuh has a recurring role as defense attorney Danielle Melnick on Law & Order. Feature film appearances have included The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal, A Walk on the Moon, Happy Accidents, Brewster's Millions, The Idolmaker, The Blue Iguana, A Day in October, The Believer, Just My Luck, and Kissing Jessica Stein. (wikipedia)

• • •

This is an exemplary puzzle. OK, maybe it would have been something closer to perfect if the SIDEs had *actually* formed a perfect HEXAGON (with an Across at the top, an Across at the bottom, and the remaining four sides on diagonals), but I'm not even sure that's physically possible. Having six SIDEs, On The SIDEs (!) of the grid, is good enough for me. The theme density is startling, especially considering rotational symmetry is maintained throughout. It's hard to go a few squares in any direction without running into a theme answer. Often, in theme-dense puzzles, fill suffers, but not here. TOVAH makes me cringe (sorry, she's no one to me, and "Brewster's Millions?!" Even my 1985 teenage self wouldn't watch that movie), but with the exception of an overly familiar abbrev. here and there, this grid is solid. One thing: I don't think ROEPER is "a real thumb-body" anymore, is he? Looks like he's giving letters grades now. I hear "At the Movies" is starting up again in '11, though, with different critics (and Ebert involved somehow, with his wife producing), so that's good for movie fans. Aha, found the show announcement in Ebert's Journal, here. . . where was I? Oh, right. Puzzle = Awesome.

Theme answers:
  • 1D: Outdoor retail promotion (SIDEWALK SALE)
  • 7A: Cartoon featured in 23 best-selling books ("THE FAR SIDE")
  • 30A: In America (STATESIDE)
  • 34D: Graze, in way (SIDESWIPE)
  • 58A: Where marmots and chamois live (MOUNTAINSIDE)
  • 55D: Southwestern rattler (SIDEWINDER)


Got a slow start, mostly because of TOVAH, but also because of SLEWS ("a slew of something," yes; "SLEWS," awkwarder); oh, and that point I hadn't figured out the theme, so a four-letter word for outdoor retail promotion just made no sense. Meandered through middle of grid (got HEXAGON before I knew how the theme was supposed to play out), and then finally, after struggling a bit in the east, I picked up the theme at STATESIDE. Puzzle went down quickly after that, and I thought it felt fairly easy overall, but my time was definitely higher than normal for me for a Thursday. Checked at the NYT site and some very fast solvers had some not-so-fast times, so ... I guess it did play on the tough side, though in retrospect, I don't really understand why (beyond the initial "WTF is the theme?" delay).

Bullets:
  • 4A: Chinese dynasty at the time of Christ (HAN) — This was a guess based on knowing HAN as a Chinese ethnicity.
  • 14A: 1983 Randy Newman song ("I LOVE L.A.") — Hated it. Loved "Short People," though:


  • 38A: "Star Wars" surname (KENOBI) — I had no idea "Star Wars" characters had surnames and given names or family names or whatever. It all just sounds so made up. I figured OBI-WAN KENOBI was like JAR-JAR or YODA. I mean ... what's Yoda's "surname?"
  • 6D: Nimbus launcher of 1964 (NASA) — Most of your "launcher" clues are gonna be NASA.
  • 7D: Number that looks like the letter yogh (THREE) — hey, my specific grad school training finally got me a crossword answer. About time.
  • 10D: Carrier overseer, for short (FAA) — first thought was that "carrier" had something to do with the post office. Oh, and I messed up the postal clue at first too (65D: Rural env. abbr.). I had RPO and then RFD before realizing that the "R" stood for "rural," which is in the damned clue (answer is RTE). Also, RPO is an initialism that I apparently made up. If anyone asks you, it stands for "rural post office."
  • 40D: Uto-Aztecan language (HOPI) — "UTO" is an word part you (mercifully) rarely if ever see in the grid. Let's hope it stays in the clues, where it belongs (if it belongs anywhere).
  • 57D: Palio di ___ (Italian race horse) (ASTI) — tough clue; thankfully, I never saw it. SW was my fastest section.
  • 60D: "The ___ Game" (1965 Shirley Ellis hit) ("NAME") — one last musical interlude


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

82 comments:

CoffeeLvr 12:23 AM  

well, hello. Medium-challenging sounds right to me. I really chewed on the theme answers until SIDESWIPE revealed enough to help with the rest. Tonight was the second time I did the puzzle in AcrossLite, and my time was 44 minutes, so it can't have been too tough. (That is on my personal time scale, which I don't always measure and never record.)

Anyway, it was all good, no help. Very impressive puzzle. THX to Patrick B.

PurpleGuy 12:47 AM  

Agree with the rating, although I seemed to sail through this without any difficulty.
Liked the clue for SST. The downs helped me figure out SIDEWALKSALE, and that helped reveal the theme.

Shouldn't 51D,EMEER, have been clued as a variable ?
That would be my only complaint, otherwise a very enjoyable puzzle.

Thank you Patrick B.
Good write up, Rex. Was hoping you'd have the Shirley Ellis version of "The Name Game." Fun song.
I used it in my classroom to amuse the class (1st ans 2nd graders).

Happy Thursday all !!

Shanti -

Bob/PurpleGuy

SethG 12:48 AM  

Barely remember Tovah from Brewster's Millions, which I definitely saw more than once. I do remember her from Kissing Jessica Stein, reinforced by puzzles. I got her name immediately, got the theme quickly too, wound up with a relatively quick solve. My only sticking point was HIBACHI, 'cause I don't think I'd ever heard of a brazier. Oh, and spelling DETENTE wrong at first--PAN even sorta works with the clue...

Speaking of 1985 movies, in Gotcha! Anthony Edwards sang I Love LA with the German punk band that drove him to the airport. Add in the Banana Splits and the fact that I'm short, and this puzzle and entry speak to me.

PurpleGuy 12:48 AM  

New avatar showing 102yr old mom.
She wanted to be seen, as well as heard !

We toast you @Tinbeni !!!

chefwen 1:24 AM  

Allrightey then, now that was one fun Thursday puzzle. I first started out printing in SIDE into one little square, when that didn't PAN out for me the light bulb switched on and I thought ooh, this is going to be fun, and it was. Had a few things ticked off to be Googled, like TOVAH and the composer SALIERI, but ended up not having to move my A#% off the couch.

I have always hated that "Short People" song, hits too close to home.

Two write overs - GOD over car at 42A and MANE over rein at 46A.

Thank you Patrick for this puzzle that was OODLES of fun.

chefwen 1:27 AM  

@PurpleGuy - Hi Mom, you're a sweetie!

ArtLvr 1:31 AM  

@PurpleGuy and Mom -- So nice to see your pix!

Like Chefwen, I was looking for a rebus at the end of STATESIDE and MOUNTAINSIDE but soon caught on. It turned out that 1A was the last entry as I tried SAS before SST and TOVAH...

My HIBACHI is now put away until next year, THX to all the rain lately. Cute one, Patrick!

∑;)

p.s. A cousin just sent me photos of dozens of mountain sheep way up on the steep face of a dam out west!!! Amazing.

r.alphbunket 1:34 AM  

Had "se" and bounced back and forth between serta and sealy before thx made serta the winner. The "x" gave me hexagon but didn't see the theme until stateside fell. Then rapid progress putting in the other sides.

A quintessential Thursday puzzle. Whenever I see the byline Patrick Blindauer I have great expectations for the puzzle and was not disappointed today.

andrea kenobi michaels 2:56 AM  

Patrick the genius!!!!!!! :)

But I have to admit, I never got how it was supposed to look. On the left side of my grid it just says SID(SIDE) going all the way down...and on the right side it says (SIDE)IDE all the way down.

Oops! And I had ILOVELY. (Bec I only half changed NYSE thinking NIMBUS was a company that was launched on the NY Stock Exchange.

That was one obscure Simpsons clue, but three letters ending with U...either APU or STU.

A puzzle earlier this week started with SSTS and I raised an eyebrow, so I suppose despite my undying love for Patrick I should raise the other...not that I HECKLE.

That LHASAAPSO was one fancy middle down :)

Learned a lot. Chamois are animals? I thought they were cloths you buffed cars with.

On a "side" note, very musical, what with the stellar answers DOOWOP, SALIERI, SKA, ILOVELA, not to mention the kicky IDDO.

Favorite memory this puzzle stirred: sitting in Siena in the main piazza where the Palio di ASTI runs, dreaming to go back one day and see it in person.

Patrick also has the syndicated puzzle today (the backwords one we share a byline on from a few weeks ago) so it's all Patrick all time in all papers!

Falconer 3:42 AM  

Amazing puzzle -- I love this kind that really makes you think. Couldn't get it at first stab, went away for an hour, came back and it suddenly emerged like a sidewinder on a mountainside.

And speaking of thinking, anyone who enjoys this puzzle will love the Fireball puzzles by Peter Gordon. The vowelless puzzle today, courtesy of Frank Longo, is a blast to solve. ... The incredible thing about Gordon's puzzles is that they rarely have any bad fill. In fact, he makes you wonder why any other puzzles have bad fill. (His site: http://goo.gl/6cIx)

But back to this one: It was an upside surprise amid a very ho-hum week. Two thumbs up!

Smitty 7:04 AM  

Thanks for the picture of SLEW, @Rex, I'm looking forward to the opening of Secretariat tomorrow.

hazel 7:29 AM  

Fantastic puzzle. Best one I can remember in a very long time.

This fell on the easy side of medium for me time-wise, but I think that's because the bell in my curve is rather large, and once this one started to fall, it fell pretty quick. The speed solvers have very tiny bells so my guess is any small conceptual wrinkle makes them skew to the right. I'd further guess that Tuesdays and Thursdays have more variability than any other day. A theory.

Thanks for the Stipe. I'll be frequenting one of his favorite restaurants in his hometown tonight before going to listen to some bluegrass music before coming home and nervously watching some baseball.

We used to do Banana Splits skits in 4th grade. Everyone always wanted to be Snorky.

David L 8:00 AM  

Smugly threw down Antonio VIVALDI before realizing he wouldn't work with DIEGO Rivera... Great puzzle, and tougher than usual for me. Slow to pick up on the theme, even after SIDE was clearly appearing in all the right places.

I lost a bit of time right at the end worrying over the THX/OHS cross. The former seemed right, but sadly the latter made no sense to me. Google informs me it's some kind of packaged breakfast comestible. Oh well, I don't eat any of that stuff, so never visit that aisle in the grocery store.

But hey, I knew TOVAH straight off. More Broadway than movies, I think, not a huge star but a fairly well known trouper.

nancy 8:36 AM  

Can anyone explain Quaker Product and OHS?

KooKooKaChoo 8:45 AM  

Yogh, Phils! Is this as good as that last night? Guess it must be if Rex thinks so.

Too hard for me. Had to come here for the theme, but I won't be fooled by a - type-clue again. Ah, the fun of a newbie. Different from the fun of you veterans, but fun all the same. Learned a lot today.

Carisa 9:02 AM  

I found the puzzle not to be "medium-challenging" but "easy" and blew through it in record Thursday time. Got "sidewalk sale" right off the bat and that laid out the rest.

anyone 9:10 AM  

@nancy look at me

jesser 9:21 AM  

I sidled up to the theme at SIDE SWIPE, and it was smooth sailing after that. Loved SIDE WINDER most of all, but that could be the geeky kid in me who really wanted to be a herpetologist and still remembers the stinging Sunday when Dad tossed the massive classifieds section at me and said, "Show me one job posting for a herpetologist, and I'll go along with that." Ouch.

It seems to be "Odd Recollections From My Days Editing The NMSU Student Newspaper Week." Today's entry: I was among the first editors in the country to pick up two newly syndicated comics. Namely, Bloom County and THE FAR SIDE. They were insanely affordable back in the day, and the students loved them. My friend Peter Kramer and I still greet one another with, "Kids! Kids! The slugs are back!" If you don't cherish THE FAR SIDE, you won't get it.

Randy Newman's best song is Louisiana 1927, which Aaron Neville covered in the aftermath of Katrina. It's haunting, and beautiful, and sad.

Louisiana 1927
Copyright Randy Newman

What has happened down here is the winds have changed
Clouds roll in from the north and it started to rain
Rained real hard and rained for a real long time
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

The river rose all day
The river rose all night
Some people got lost in the flood
Some people got away all right
The river has busted through cleard down to Plaquemines
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangelne

CHORUS
Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tyrin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tryin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away

President Coolidge came down in a railroad train
With a little fat man with a note-pad in his hand
The President say, "Little fat man isn't it a shame what the river has
done
To this poor cracker's land."

CHORUS

***

Nopier! (How to decribe the guy who always refuses everything.) -- jesser

chefbea 9:24 AM  

Fun puzzle. Got state side right away and that made it easy.

Of course I knew Des Peres...being from St. Louis

Blue Stater 9:31 AM  

Worst puzzle in a long time for me, partly because we Times Reader subscribers don't get any graphic help with the gimmick (were there circles or something?), but mostly because the constructor far too frequently crossed popcult obscurities. [Richard] ROEPER crossing Quaker OHS? C'mon.

Sour Grapes 9:37 AM  

Yeah! How can I be expected to know about things that happen or famous people?! All I know or care about are nouns and adjectives and things on Matlock. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find some breakfast with lots of meaty SIDEs.

mac 9:47 AM  

Fantastic puzzle, Patrick, on the Medium/Challenging side to me too. I had to do it online, but will probably redo it on the train in the NYT. Last letter filled in was the N in Pen/Side winder. Am looking that last word up.

Nice to be back....

Lindsay 9:55 AM  

I actually managed to blow through this without picking up on the theme. Just staring at the grid thinking "eswipe, ewinder, must have something to do with computers."

Eventually it dawned on me.

*stsall = everyone on their best behavior

Ulrich 10:00 AM  

Yes, a wonderful puzzle. My additional take on the hexagon (which means "6 angles" anyway) hint is that the theme answers form six angles or corners with sides. It took me a while to figure out b/c I, too, expected a rebus when certain answers were clearly too long for the space provided. Only when the sides started to emerge around the perimeter did I finally get it, and then finished quickly.

dk 10:06 AM  

Once I got, and finished, the sides this meal was over. Spelled ROEPER incorrectly, amazed myself by correctly spelling HIBACHI.

Had to come here to appreciate the beauty of the sides being SIDE... some of us are slower than others.

All we needed was Leia for a Star Wars mini theme with 4A and 38A.

**** (4 Stars) Great puzzle

Note: After looking at Andrea and Patrick's backwards offering again I am adding another *.

@purpleguy, when teaching skiing and now kayaking I sometimes offer the advice that when things look daunting just go faster. Happy to see the picture of your mom and your continued/increased postings... err-loose the tie.

75 in Minneapolis today and my home town Yankees schooled the Twins last night. Can you believe $120 for an SRO ticket. Tonight its the Hibachi and the radio. Life is good.

glimmerglass 10:15 AM  

Excellent puzzle. I recognized the hyphen as "continued here," but didn't catch the theme until "mountainside." After that, the puzzle went faster, and I agree with Rex. The NW was impossible until I caught on to the theme. Never heard of Tovah. I think Quaker makes (or once made) a cereal called Quaker Ohs. Did it compete with Cheerios?

Van55 10:22 AM  

1A -- Arrrrrrgggghhhhhhhhh!

Still the puzzle mostly redeemed itself from that ungodly start.

25 proper nouns by my count. But all gettable and not TOO obscure.

Minch Yoda 10:27 AM  

But you can call me Yoda.


Series creator George Lucas originally wished Yoda to follow his other characters in having a full name: Minch Yoda, but instead opted to have many details of the character's life history remain unknown [wiki]

P>G>

Two Ponies 10:32 AM  

For some reason I was able to breeze through this but it was so smooth and fun I have to say I loved it. Brilliant change from the rebus I was expecting.
Perhaps because I am currently working on the crossword book Patricks' Puzzle Pandemonium.
Thx @ Ulrich for clarifying the meaning of the theme.

I remember when hibachis became popular. All things Eastern were cool at the time. Yoga, yin/yang jewelry, etc. But these hibachi things? I thought "What's so special about a heavy square BBQ?"

I love The Far Side!
Remember Boneless Chicken Ranch?

Jake 10:32 AM  

I like how there was some sort of Michelin clue a day after the 2011 NY Michelin Guide was released.

archaeoprof 10:38 AM  

Very good puzzle!

Almost as good as Roy Halladay was last night :(

I always knew it was going to be a good day if I understood The Far Side.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:43 AM  

I loved the puzzle. Thank you, Patrick Blindauer.

But, @Two Ponies or anyone else, re: 46 A, Do equestrians really grip a horse's MANE?

PuzzleNut 10:53 AM  

Found this one to be easy, but only because I immediately filled in THE FAR SIDE. At first I thought it was a SIDE rebus, but the rest of the NE resolved that. The editors were merciful in the print edition by using a - as the clue for the angled portion of the theme answers. That immediately located the six SIDEs and was able to fill in all theme answers without crosses. From there, it was pretty simple to finish it off.
@jesser - loved the Far Side reference. Wanted to add my favorite FS comic, but there are just too many.

remporia - yet another store

joho 11:07 AM  

Odd, my earlier post is not here. I had to run to the vet with my avatar so it was quick.

What I said was that I LOVED this! It was a perfect Thursday puzzle in my book.

I was fascinated how the snake wound around the corner while the marmots and chamois made their way down the mountain.

Patrick, you are amazing!!!

Two Ponies 11:08 AM  

@ Bob K. If you ride a horse bareback with no reins you might hang on there. It also might be a last resort before you fall off!
@ nanpilla might have something to add but I've done it plenty (the bareback thing, not the falling).

foodie 11:47 AM  

I agree- this is the poster child for a Thursday Puzzle. Genius in a square box with six SIDES.

I took the HEXAGON clue literally: The figure shares a property with this puzzle-- It has six SIDES. The clue was careful not to imply that the puzzle had the essential property of a HEXAGON, either the shape or the angles. @Ulrich, I understand your point about angles being formed by the full answers, and that is helpful in the solve, but they are the wrong size (90 instead of 60 degrees). So, I actually thought that the central clue was in part misdirection-- that we are supposed to look for a common shape and instead wind up with a more literal sharing of the feature, the 6 SIDE words.
OK... I think I confused even myself.

In the end, looking down the vertical edges and seeing SIDE totally lining them is in itself a thing of beauty.

CoffeeLvr 11:55 AM  

@Bob K, Two Ponies beat me to it. I had first entered "horn" for 46A, as on a Western style saddle. I have fallen off a horse many times, as a youngster. My pinto had a bad habit of blowing up her belly when the saddle was cinched; later when she galloped, the saddle would slip to one side. First thing was grab the MANE and try to slow her with the reins, but if my center of gravity went over the side too, nothing to do but a controlled fall. Take feet out of stirrups, push off, and roll when you hit the ground to avoid her hooves, and the following horse.

@Purple Guy, so nice to see you and your Mom.

@Jesser, THX for the LA 1927 song, it is on YouTube by both Neville and Newman.

@Hazel, I like how you think - statistically!

Bad Rider 11:55 AM  

@BobK -Your holding on the the mane question reminds me of when people asked me if horseback riding was good exercise, to which I answered "Not if you're good at it". So, no you don't grab mane unless you're in trouble or aren't any good. I've grabbed mane, been instructed to grab mane, quite often.

Mel Ott 12:07 PM  

Got the theme when I went STATESIDE. Very nice puzzle, but I still don't get the dashes as clues. Guess I'm just dense.

At 7D my poor old eyes read the letter as yodh. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how the Hebrew letter yod(h) looks like a three. After learning it's a Middle English letter I wanted the clue to be in the past tense, but now I see that the verb refers to the THREE, not the yogh.

Tinbeni 12:15 PM  

Medium/Challenging? Nope.

This was WELL DONE !!!

Fave was SIDEWINDER being in the SW ... subtle.

LHASA APSO, my favorite breed.
(See, gal-pal, I like Rusty & Eddie).

@PurpleGuy & Mom, Cheers at sunset.

nanpilla 12:22 PM  

@BobK - I grab some mane every time I mount my horse. Put the reins and a bit of mane in your left hand, your left foot in the stirrup and swing your right leg over. It's much better than holding onto the saddle which is hard on the horses back, and if a poorly trained horse decides to start off before I'm in the saddle, I've got something to hold onto. (The mare they gave me in France last year never once stood still while being mounted - and with all of the fences we had to dismount to open and close, that was as many as 20 times every day. You better believe I grabbed mane - many times we were having to mount on MOUNTAINSIDEs.) I've been known to grab a bit of mane before a scary jump too - just a little security blanket. It really helps that my horse is an Arabian, so I leave his mane very long. In the summer, I french braid it every day to keep his neck cool.

Loved this puzzle- got the theme early and raced through it - then had to step back to admire it. That's when I also noticed the apparent ewords @Lindsey. EWALKSALE sounds like you are selling furry star wars critters.

JenCT 12:30 PM  

Loved the puzzle also. This may be my first Thursday solve in good time with no errors!

LOVE The Far Side - remember when the ants are carrying an infant to thier nest, and one says "You idiots - we'll never get that thing down the hole!"

JaxInL.A. 12:46 PM  

What language does the letter yogh belong to? Middle English has it's own letters?

I loved that Sidewinder video, @Rex. Who is it?  

I blew through this puzzle in record time! My first answer was 7A where I confidently wrote "Dilbert."  It fit perfectly and he appears in at least 23 books, right? Next I got 14A--it was my city's anthem (check the handle). Probably still is.  So I started to do the Downs from those two acrosses and right away it became clear that "Dilbert" was wrong.   THEFARSIDE became obvious but like others I put in SIDE as a rebus in the corner pocket.  

Then I did the Downs for the NW. Tovah came easily thanks to a pentient for getting odd names right. I liked that she used her Hebrew name rather than changing to something more common, so the name stuck in my head.  VILEST and HECKLE fell into place. (I heckled Richard Pryor once in the late '80s at the Comedy Store in Hollywood. What was I thinking? He tore me apart, but it was very funny and it impressed my date, the aspiring clown.)    

Once I saw that WALKSALE would fit the 17A - clue, I was on my way. Ditched the rebus and turned SIDE around the corner, did the same for the NE, looked for all the other "-" clues and filled them in. Got hung up a bit trying to figure out where marmots and chamois live.  Isn't a chamois that leather scrap you use to dry a car after washing it? It's an animal? 

I looked it up and it is a member of the bovine goat-antelope subspecies.  Really. I couldn't make that up. Related to the oryx, a xword favorite, too.  Chamois (same plural and singular) live in European mountain ranges.  I found this out after, though and had to get mountainside from crosses. 

I loved the puzzle's "rotational symmetry" as @Rex called it.  Like @Bob I would quibble with EMEER's clue. I really feel it should have indicated a variant spelling.  Overall a terrific effort.  Thanks again, Mr. Blindauer, for a most enjoyable solve.  

JaxInL.A. 12:57 PM  

What language does the letter yogh belong to? Middle English has it's own letters?

I loved that Sidewinder video, @Rex. Who is it?  

I blew through this puzzle in record time! Started wrong when my first answer was 7A where I confidently wrote "Dilbert."  It fit perfectly and he appears in at least 23 books, right? But 14A is my city's anthem (check the handle). THEFARSIDE became obvious but like others I put in SIDE as a rebus in the corner pocket.  

Remembered Tovah b/c I liked that she used her Hebrew name rather than changing it.  VILEST and HECKLE fell into place. (I heckled Richard Pryor once in the late '80s at the Comedy Store in Hollywood. What was I thinking? He tore me apart, but it was very funny and it impressed my date, the aspiring clown.)    

Once I saw that WALKSALE would fit the 17A - clue, I was on my way. Ditched the rebus and turned SIDE around the corner, did the same for the NE, looked for all the other "-" clues and filled them in.

Got hung up a bit trying to figure out where marmots and chamois (yeah, @Andrea) live. A chamois is a member of the bovine goat-antelope subspecies living in European mountain ranges. Related to the oryx, a xword favorite, too.  Had to get mountainside from crosses, tho 

I loved the puzzle's "rotational symmetry" as @Rex called it.  Like @Bob I would quibble with EMEER's clue. I really feel it should have indicated a variant spelling.  Overall a terrific effort.  Thanks again, Mr. Blindauer, for a most enjoyable solve.  

JaxInL.A. 1:01 PM  

Sorry about the double post, and it's a long one. Got error msg & thought it didnt take. Can't see how to remove. Sincere apologies.

shrub5 1:09 PM  

I remembered from previous puzzles with answers that wrapped from one line to another that the clues for the second lines were " - ". So when I saw those dashes, I was on the alert for such a thing. First one I could figure out was SIDEWINDER and that got me going for the rest. Patrick, this puzzle was so much fun!

Finished with one error: Like @SethG, I had DETaNTE / PaN which seemed OK for both.

LOL for Caesar dressing? TOGA

Chiming in with those that miss "The Far Side." Loved those smart cartoons.

@andrea: had the same thought on chamois but I now think I hear a dim bell in the recesses of my memory about this being an animal. Doesn't that word look like it should be pronounced "sham-WAH?" ... think I've heard that ShamWow commercial too many times.

Jim 1:25 PM  

Amazing I ended up w no mistakes--one writeover, had Tal, asin Thanks a lot(?) Before THX and HEXAGON and LHASAAPSO fell into place. Why? Because of Oat (who ever heard of OHS? Maybe that's a kiddie thing).

Was slowed WAY down b/c for some reason I though the right-margin SIDEs would come from the bottom up, creating -EDIS answers. Like a half hour!! What an idiot!!

Ingenious clue for EROS; HEXAGON should not have been the reveal. Did anyone, getting HEXAGON before any of the theme answers (like me and Rex, at least) derive any help from it? I was like, huh?? Makes sense now, but it was too clever by half as a reveal.

Think of Nixon more for opening China than DETENTE. However, every prior president either started or continued a proxy war with the USSR (i.e., containment) but I guess, technically, he was.

Glad to see HIE (now that I know what it means) in a challenging Thursday puzzle, not a so-called easy Monday puzzle, a la last week.

Boy, SALIERI will just never die; I guess he's like Rasputin, a villain (not really) that we just love. Testament to Peter Shaffer and F Murray Abraham. Come to think of it, I might have to pop in my old VHS of Amadeus tonight. Better that than Brewster's Millions!

Ulrich 2:00 PM  
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Ulrich 2:09 PM  

@foodie: I'm aware of the angle size--actually wanted to remark on in my first comment, but then thought "let some else bring it up so I have something to answer to". I believe that when you leave the angle/corner aspect out, the fact that the theme answers form a corner remains dangling, i.e. it's not theme-related and an arbitrary additional wrinkle. To me, it's more elegant if they are theme-related, via the fact that a hexagon has 6 corners, and that's how I decided to look at it, for maximum enjoyment.

Remember, the angles are 60deg only in a REGULAR hexagon! In fact, you can easily draw a non-regular, non-convex hexagon in which all angles are 90deg.

John V 2:10 PM  

Very challenging for me, for a Thursday. Didn't get 37A, ohs, but it's there on Google. Also did not get 40A until I read it here. A bit obtuse, IMHO.

shrub5 2:12 PM  

@JaxinLA: Set up a Google account or a Blogger account. Then you have the ability to delete a comment if you accidently post twice (or have second thoughts after posting just once!) You can set up a profile with as much or as little info as you wish to share.

J 2:22 PM  

Once I got the....gimmick...(and it took awhile) this went much better even though some of the clues were still annoying.

RE: Randy Newman

I Love LA is not to be taken seriously, as many Newman things are. Newman mentions sleazy, dirty areas of the city (Victory Blvd., etc.) instead of the usual places like Beverly Hills and Malibu. Tonque-in-cheek all the way.
The fact that LA uses it for promotion must make him laugh. But, of course, they only use the "I love LA" part.

Anoa Bob 2:24 PM  

Re comments on "chamois": I only knew it as a type of cloth/leather until I saw it as the name of the whaleboat that Melville's main character and an accomplice used to abandon their mother ship and sail to the namesake island in his novel "Mardi". (Couldn't get italics.)

Clark 2:26 PM  

@chefwen -- I’ve gotta say, having met you in person, with the kind of energy that you exude it simply did not occur to me to think that you were short.

Obi the Bengal would like me to pass on to you all that he is very happy to see his last name in the puzzle -- for a change.

@Blue Stater -- I find myself wondering once again: Are you a reverse Moby?

Beautiful Thursday puzzle!

And this is a chamois. Not to be confused with an ibex.

Shamik 2:31 PM  

Ahhhh....in Vegas and what am I doing? Solving a puzzle for the first time in over a week! Was having withdrawal. Maybe the rest was good for me because this came in as a very easy one for me yet still interesting and fun.

Bruce Springsteen 2:37 PM  

@J - Re your comments on Los Angeles using "I Love L.A." for promotion, that seems to reflect a general American tendency to grab onto a mistaken view of things and run with it. Think of all the yahoos who think "Born in the USA" is a rave for America. Doesn't anyone listen to the lyrics?

Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that's been beat too much
'Til you spend half your life just covering up

[chorus:]
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

I got in a little hometown jam
And so they put a rifle in my hands
Sent me off to Vietnam
To go and kill the yellow man

[chorus]

Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man says "Son if it was up to me"
I go down to see the V.A. man
He said "Son don't you understand"

[chorus]

I had a buddy at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone
He had a little girl in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years down the road
Nowhere to run, ain't got nowhere to go

I'm a long gone Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm a cool rocking Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

foodie 2:39 PM  

@Ulrich, glad to have accommodated your prediction : )

Now I am trying to imagine a hexagon with 90 degree angles. That must be in 3D, right?

foodie 2:47 PM  

@Ulrich, I take it back. I can now imagine how it would be in 2D. I kept wanting the sides to be equal. If you get rid of that, then it works.

asad 2:58 PM  

FWIW, Jar-Jar actually has a surname too: Binks.

sanfranman59 3:25 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)

Thu 16:41, 19:05, 0.87, 30%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 8:28, 9:10, 0.92, 46%, Medium

chefwen 4:42 PM  

Ooops, looks like I made the PEN/PaN mistake also, I didn't think that my spelling of DETaNTE looked right but left it alone because PaN seemed to work out so nicely.

@Clark - Thanks, but I believe when you were here I made the comment that any one of you boys could use me as an armrest. Sigh!

Ruth 4:52 PM  

Tovah Feldshuh has been in a ton of TV and had a recurring role as a defense attorney on Law and Order. (I went through a phase of watching L&O reruns 5 days a week for a while, after never watching the original shows). So I don't think she's really obscure. And it's a memorable name!

Luke Skywalker 4:57 PM  

.... and my dad, Anakin (aka Darth Vader). And my pal Han Solo. And... and... and...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Star_Wars_characters

Steve J 5:59 PM  

This felt tougher than my time showed. Took me a long time to get the theme/trick, but once I did things fell into place quickly.

I did have to recover from multiple writeovers: CAR instead of GOD (the former would be a much cleverer clue/answer combo, imo), ADM instead of FAA for "carrier overseer," PEANUTS for a brief moment at 7A, and it seems like 1-2 others I'm forgetting.

Also had to resort to Google for the first time on a Thursday in ages. That got me TOVAH, which finally cracked open the NW for me.

Very clever concept. I'll comment on the various HEXAGON commentary only to say I'm still left not totally grasping it (other than the presence of six SIDEs).

@JaxInL.A.: There are several letters that once existed in English that we don't use anymore. They originated in Old English, and they were deprecated during Middle English. By the time you get to Early Modern English (essentially contemporary with Shakespeare), they're gone, although æ still hangs around, particularly in non-American dialects (e.g. orthopædics).

Ulrich 6:36 PM  

@foodie: Actually, this is one of the few instances where a "prediction" of mine worked out. When I normally write a comment and think "this is sooo interesting--I bet someone will respond", I'll get precisely zero responses.

@Steve J: A hexagon, by definition, is a polygon with 6 corners, and hence 6 sides. There is nothing in the definition that determines the size of the angles formed by the sides at the corners or the lengths of the sides. Hence, this is a hexagon, where all angles happen to be 90 degrees:
 ___
|   |__
|_____|

Note that it is concave. A REGULAR polygon is a polygon where all angles and all sides are equal. A regular polygon is always convex.

Does that help?

Anonymous 6:46 PM  

I've never posted here but have viewed often. Found this puzzle lots of fun and not too difficult after seeing "sideswipe".
But I had to share this with you. I got "rheo" right, but for the wrong reason - never even thought about rheostat, I thought it meant Runs-Hits-Errors-men left On base! Too much baseball last night, sigh.

Blue Stater 7:41 PM  

@Clark: OK, I give up, what's a "reverse Moby"? Googled it, got buried in crazed right-wing websites. Yet another corner of PopcultWorld I haven't been keeping up with.

Ben Hassenger 7:44 PM  

If you don't like Brewster's Millions, then whatever, that's fine. I like maybe six movies, so I won't rag on anybody for that.

But not liking "I Love LA"??? That song is just as sarcastic/ironic/witty as anything else Randy Newman has done. Yeah it's poppier than "Short People" and the like (but not by much), but I don't understand how you can hate that song when it has that incredible songwriting and twisted submeanings that Newman is known for.

Steve J 7:51 PM  

@Ulrich: Thanks. Guess I wasn't clear in my comment. I do get what you're saying. What I was referencing is that I don't see any sort of shape formed within the puzzle (i.e. I can't see any way to create a closed shape based on the answers), and so I'm left with the thinking that the shape clue is not to be taken literally, but metaphorically with the presence of SIDE six times in the puzzle. Hope that's clearer.

Mr. Helpful 8:03 PM  

Blue Stater, your first stop in these situations should be Urban Dictionary. In this case, for example, it helps.

Anonymous 8:45 PM  

Today I drove in my USED car over to a SIDEWALK sale and SIDESWIPED a SIDEWINDER on THE FAR SIDE of his car. Well, he EMERGED from his car and said, “GOD, what MOUNTAINSIDE did you come from?” I said, “OHS, ID DO a better job next time when the light’s ON RED.” He said, “What’s your NAME?” I replied, “Do you have a PEN? It’s PATTI SALIERI. I’ll write down for you.” He said, “THX. Mine’s DIEGO.” Got TO GA now....”

Sharpie84 9:50 PM  

Love the Far Side--the "Cat Shower" with the giant tongue hanging from the wall! Too funny, I'll have to pull out my old FS books and take a run down memory lane.

Thoroughly enjoyed this puzzel, even though it took a good while.

Love this site, too, always learn something new--like chamois!

I also used the mane on my skittish quarter-horse, she played little games when being mounted. By a rider.

Sharpie84 9:52 PM  

OOPS. Meant puzzle, of course. My typing is horrible. Apologies.

demod-demon with a cold?

JC66 10:10 PM  

@ Steve J

I think what @Ulrich is saying is that there are 6 (right) angles in the puzzle formed by the theme answers, 3 begiinning with SIDE and 3 ending in SIDE. In this case HEXAGON only refers to these 6 angles, not to a shape.

Robin 11:24 PM  

Wicked, lovely, fun puzz. I am not a witch.

sanfranman59 1:33 AM  

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
Thu 16:39, 19:05, 0.87, 29%, Easy-Medium

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
Thu 8:01, 9:09, 0.88, 33%, Easy-Medium

AdamW13 1:36 AM  

actually, in the 6-sided shape shown above ... one of the angles is 270 degrees, not 90.

Thank you - peace out :)

Clark 2:24 AM  

@Blue Stater -- The urban dictionary makes it sound harsh.

The name you use just makes me wonder sometimes if you really are a blue state sympathizer or someone who, by posting comments that subtly cast blue staters in a bad light, means to undermine them. That would make you a reverse Moby. But mostly I was just joshing.

Blue Stater 3:03 PM  

@clark (probably too late): I actually know about the Urban Dictionary and at least when I tried it it didn't have an entry for this. So I'll try again. I am truly a blue stater, and understandably resist the notion that my comments subtly cast blue staters in a bad light. It used to be OK to be critical of the puzzles on this blog, which is why I joined it.

Jenny 3:57 PM  

I'm not an expert on dog breeds by any stretch, but I didn't know that Lhasa Apsos are considered terriers. Guess I need to look up terrier as a generic dog descriptor.

I just got around to this puzzle today (19 Oct) but quite enjoyed it!

NotalwaysrightBill 4:20 PM  

captcha: fullgeno: Age group of those in the future who will eat a lot of "Quaker product?"

Syndicated puzzler.

HEXAGONal SIDEWINDER. While I have to admire the construction of this puzzle, not much in the cluing or answers really popped for me (I DID kind of enjoy "One way to turn right"=ONRED, I guess).


I like to walk away with at least one really mellifluous word or conceptually juicy term as a reward for my solving efforts. Afraid this puzzle fell a little flat as far as that. VTEN wasn't too bad either, I suppose. 47A "-"=ESWIPE has possibilities though.

Dirigonzo 5:27 PM  

Syndicated puzzle was published on Veterans Day, so to all veterans and current members of the armed forces: Thank you for your service to the country - and to the families that support our service men and women, your sacrifices are appreciated. And now back to the puzzle.

I was totally bemused by the (-) clues for a long while until I figured out that the six SIDEs turned into longer answers (I never said I was very sharp (hee-hee) about these things. Never associated Nixon with DETENTE so I was glad to learn about that. Wanted the Quaker product to be Oil so the H just above the center of the grid was the last letter to go in for me. Had SLEWS of fun!

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