Country singer Clark / WED 1-18-12 / Oil well firefighter Red / Schemer called to mind by Madoff swindle / Univac I predecessor / King who had Labyrinth built

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Constructor: Chris Handman

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: SPARE TIRE (64A: Trunk item ... or what has been put on 18-, 24-, 41- and 53-Across)— familiar phrases have letters T, I, R, and E added to their beginnings, respectively, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: TERRI Clark (6D: Country singer Clark) —
Terri Lynn Sauson (born August 5, 1968), known professionally as Terri Clark, is a Canadian country music artist who has had success in both Canada and the United States. Signed to Mercury Records in 1995, she released her self-titled debut that year. Both it and its two follow-ups, 1996's Just the Same and 1998's How I Feel, were certified platinum in both countries, and produced several Top Ten country hits. (wikipedia)
• • •
[It's pledge week here at the Rex Parker site (thru Sat.) —read my pitch for donations in the opening paragraphs of Sunday's write-up, here ... and thanks for your faithful readership (and the many kind messages I've received so far)]

• • •
This was cute, but the theme answers weren't winners. They were just OK. There was some pleasure in figuring out the theme and then trying to parse the answers, but I'm a little surprised that with such a wide-open theme (possibility-wise) there weren't zingier theme answers out there to be had. The fill is mostly ordinary—not bad, not great, not remarkable either way. Maybe a bit on the pedestrian side. It's a 78-worder with mostly short fill, so there's not a lot to be done. Best you can do is not muck the grid up too bad. Had one big hold-up—could not, for the life of me, figure out what [Hawks] was getting at, even when had all but one letter. I also put in ARE SO instead of AM TOO (playground—or sandbox—retorts being among my most hated of all clue-types), and didn't fully correct it (ended up with ARTOO, which is a correct answer for an entirely different clue). Lost about 10-15 seconds there. Otherwise, no issues. Lucked into TERRI. I'd just been (co-)constructing a puzzle, and you come across all kinds of potential fill when that happens. Had to remind myself who had the name TERRI, just so I could gauge if it was usable. I determined it was not. Wouldn't put her in a puzzle unless I had just about zero other options. And crossing EEE and GTS? Well, let's just say that that part of the grid is probably best left in our rear-view mirror.



Theme answers:
  • 18A: Monopolist's clothing accessory? (TRUST BELT)
  • 24A: Designers for Microsoft Windows? (ICON ARTISTS)
  • 41A: What Martian invaders may be intent on? (ROUT OF THIS WORLD)
  • 53A: What the backer of a failing business may do? (EAT ALL COSTS)


Constant solving came in especially handy today. Good old standbys Red ADAIR (38A: Oil well firefighter Red ___) and ENIAC (2D: Univac I predecessor) were there to lend a hand. I could've answered [Bewhiskered frolicker] in my sleep. No need even to see how many spaces are involved. Maybe KITTEN would get that clue, but how often do you see KITTEN in a puzzle. Rarely. OTTER, however, has much grid cred. He's old friends with ADAIR and ENIAC. Love the word/name PONZI (1D: Schemer called to mind by the Madoff swindle), though it took several passes for my eyes to register what the hell kind of word "Schemer" was. It was like looking at some hybrid of Schumer and schmear.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

84 comments:

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

I got tied down, once again, by sticking too long with a likely but ultimately wrong answer. Today it was 12D, and MYWIFE just didn't go with the crosses.

Rube 12:17 AM  

Was not particularly impressed with this puzzle. Only write-overs were PROOF/PRObs and PANT/rANT. Fixed the first one immediately with OAST. The second ended up the last letter of the solve.

Possibly my problem with this puzzle is the reveal, as I am currently sporting an embarrasing "SPARE TIRE".

Catch the new Avatar... go Niners.

pk 12:32 AM  

Everything @Rex said, i.e. no further comment. Just don't want yall to forget I am hanging out here.
xagim - wtf could that possibly mean???

Wood 12:34 AM  

I work for a University and there is a course rubric in the Education department, SMEE: Science and Math for Elementary Education. Maybe we should introduce some new clues for this tired bit of crosswordese?

Fun puzzle, didn't get the theme till the very end.

Rube 12:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Hoffman 12:42 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle! Two days in a row. The theme was not so special but what I enjoyed is that it was almost all NORMAL words -- with very little crosswordese. I'm not a fan of elaborate, fancy themes that come at a cost of weird fill around them.

So this puzzle fit the bill!

I recognized Polonius right away from Hamlet but thought he was standing behind the drapes. I didn't know the word arras. Now I do.

I'm a big country-western fan but completely forgot about Terri Clark.

Deb 12:48 AM  

What about Terri Garr, Rex? I haven't seen much of her in years, but she played a central role in three blockbuster movies (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Tootsie and Mr. Mom) from the late 70s/early 80s. Surely that should make her crossworthy.

I found this puzzle a tad boring, but yesterday's was a hard act to follow.

Rookie 1:07 AM  

I was so sure that 53A was "infuse money," that I got waylaid for quite a while. Only figured it out once I caught on to the theme.

Anonymous 1:50 AM  

It's TERI Garr

jae 1:59 AM  

Easier than yesterday's for me (no write overs) and not quite as zippy.  Nothing really stood out although the NW started with 3 unusual downs.   However,  not too many clunkers and a theme that makes you look twice = how many stars @ dk?

I'm getting closer to actually knowing what a MEME is.

For those craving zippy I recommend this week's Mon. BEQ.

chefwen 2:03 AM  

Teri Garr shows her cute little face all the time in the X words.

Liked the puzzle, did not love it. I guess we can't be spoiled every day. A couple of write overs 1A leas over PEWS, 6A mgS over GTS. That was about it. So I guess I have no room to complain.

We had the mother lode of Thunderstorms this A.M. and pretty much all day, welcoming the Wisconsinites to paradise??? Maybe tomorrow.

Arras Camp-y Minos 3:50 AM  

What? No one complaining about the ESO/LUEGO cross? Donde esta sethg?!

Don't know what a RUSTBELT is, so didn't quite get that theme answer, but like the idea.

Like a little ponZi, here, Quicksand, there, Plus OJays! Very Scrabbly, well, not very...but enough so.
I esp liked that QUICKSAND was going down!
Theme possibility!

Speaking of Themes...We just had THEMEPARK last week. Still think it would be a cute Disney tagline:
THE "ME" PARK!

Deb 5:05 AM  

Wow. I actually pulled up imdb to check on the spelling of her name and was sure it read "Terri.". I am IRKed all over again about my eye doc telling me that she had only bumped up my scrip to half the increase I needed a year ago because it was all my eyes could "handle.". If there happen to be any eye docs who can explain that one tome, I'd be grateful.

The Bard 7:22 AM  

Hamlet > Act III, scene IV

[Enter QUEEN and POLONIUS]

LORD POLONIUS:
He will come straight. Look you lay home to him:
Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with, And that your grace hath screen'd and stood between Much heat and him. I'll sconce me even here.Pray you, be round with him.

HAMLET: [Within] Mother, mother, mother!

QUEEN GERTRUDE: I'll warrant you,
Fear me not: withdraw, I hear him coming.

[POLONIUS hides behind the arras]

[Enter HAMLET]

HAMLET: Now, mother, what's the matter?

QUEEN GERTRUDE: Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.

HAMLET: Mother, you have my father much offended.

QUEEN GERTRUDE: Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.

HAMLET: Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.

QUEEN GERTRUDE: Why, how now, Hamlet!

HAMLET: What's the matter now?

QUEEN GERTRUDE: Have you forgot me?

HAMLET: No, by the rood, not so:
You are the queen, your husband's brother's wife;
And--would it were not so!--you are my mother.

QUEEN GERTRUDE: Nay, then, I'll set those to you that can speak.

HAMLET: Come, come, and sit you down; you shall not budge;
You go not till I set you up a glass
Where you may see the inmost part of you.

QUEEN GERTRUDE: What wilt thou do? thou wilt not murder me?
Help, help, ho!

LORD POLONIUS: [Behind] What, ho! help, help, help!

HAMLET: [Drawing] How now! a rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!

[Makes a pass through the arras]

LORD POLONIUS: [Behind] O, I am slain!

[Falls and dies]

Rob C 7:39 AM  

@acme The Rust Belt is the area in the midwest US (Indiana, Michigan, Ohio...) where industry/factories once flourished, but have since gone out of business/been abandoned (i.e., rusting). The US has other belts also - Bible Belt, Sun Belt...

John V 7:54 AM  

Wanted MGS for 5A initially, no help from TERRI, as C&W is not in my wheelhouse; initially IMOUT for 51D. Theme? Eh.

Looked at the grid and thought, high word count, probably easy. Didn't play that way, more medium/easy

@chefwen: rained like crazy in Charlotte, too.

Just put in some shekels to support Rex. My world is a happier place with this blog in it and may I say thank you!

Minor technical note: the time stamps on the comments have returned to EST from PST. Much less confusing!

Z 7:56 AM  

I live in the Rust Belt, and the first literary work I learned by heart was Green Eggs and Ham, but my SPotty attendance led me astray.

@Arras Camp-y Minos - Since you asked, I'll complain. Both the northern and southern 3x5 sections are less than pleasant. GTS could be several random two letter combos with an "s" stuck on. EEE? TERRI Clark? ESO crossing LUEGO and ARRAS (hand up for wanting drapes, though my first thought was curtains). Yuck.

I do like TRUST BELT and ICON ARTISTS. ROUT OF THIS WORLD is too militaristic for me this morning, and EAT ALL COSTS a little too depressing. Making this feel more like a forlorn Tuesday puzzle than a sprightly Wednesday puzzle.

dk 8:01 AM  

err, the RUSTBELT is the one I wear with my madrid pants.

I rate the theme big O for obscure. I liked ROUTOFTHISWORLD and the rest of the fill was OK.

The other OJ was in the news as his Florida home is being foreclosed upon. I guess crime does not pay.

** (2 Stars) If you can not say anything nice....

SethG 8:03 AM  

Estoy aquí, and those weren't French. Español, I know. That's not the part of the puzzle I'd complain about.

jackj 8:23 AM  

A thin theme, but a fun puzzle from Chris Handman, his second for the Times.

The standout theme entry was ICONARTISTS which gets a turbo shot from its opening “I” and seems to delight in twitting Gates afficionados by giving a nod to Apple’s signature successes.

I liked PROOF as clued with its math twist rather than as a 90 PROOF vodka with a lemon twist and QUICKSAND was a nice, rarely seen answer.

Then we have the haberdashery clues, though PANT was such a confused entry it only huffed and puffed with an unmeasured inseam when forced to give way to a mooner’s dropping of TROU, (which, as I recall, was sprung on us by Joon Pahk some months back).

All in good fun and a pleasant warm-up for whatever skullduggery Thursday brings to the solving party.

Tita 8:41 AM  

Had fun with this one!
Sussed the theme early – maybe since my car has runflats instead of a Spare T-I-R-E!

Also cause I get to name drop – one of TANYA Tucker’s biggest hits was written by next door neighbor. Anyone remember this crossover hit?
San Antonio Stroll


Also liked NORUSH & LAG, Drop TROU crossing ENDUP



@Chefwen - I also wanted my sheep in leas, but though I owned a 1960 MG, never considered it, popping GTS in off the bat...

Thought Polonius was in northern France, having visited Arras, a city beautifully recovered from WWI devastation.
Now I learn that it also is a tapestry or backdrop.

jesser 8:52 AM  

59D ruined it for me.

Only writeover was OeST before OAST at 34A.

At 6D, I wanted guy Clark. Helluva lot more talent but way too few letters.

I give this puzzle a C MINOS.

retired_chemist 8:53 AM  

Fun. Not memorable. Had ZAK (Efron)/WILKO, so finished with an error. I knew better on the latter.

34A was VATS, 70A was a WTF but with easy crosses, and the Spanish crossing was no problem.

Thanks, Mr. Handman.

Jp 9:09 AM  

I liked the theme and unlike Rex I thought the answers were "winners". What answers would I have qualified as winners? Just asking.
I have a problem with seeing so many pop culture answers in one puzzle though whether I know the answers or not. PONZI, ENIAC, WILCO, NILLA, ZAC just in one corner. Needed google to get me out of personal natiks in the NW and SE corners. Never heard of WILCO so had PENS in 1A.
All in all typical Wednesday for me in terms of difficulty. So I rate it as medium.

Rudy 9:21 AM  

The theme was original and funny. Some of the answers were a throwback. Fighting Red ADAIR was world-famous for his oil fire-fighting skills and was called on during the First Iraq war to quench a number of fires set up by a retreating Iraqi army in Kuwait. Funny you do not hear much of oil fires these days!

RUSTBELT of course conjures up the time in the early 80s or so when American manufacturing was moved offshore from the Midwest.

chefbea 9:34 AM  

I too wanted MGs. Did not know meme. Had to come here to finish.

@Tita e-mail me for the beet soup or go to my daughter's blog

Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome

Jgerbs 9:37 AM  

Is no one going to talk about the two ME's in this puzzle? ON ME and IT'S ME. I thought it was a pretty strict rule that you couldn't have the same word twice. And it threw me off because once I had one ME, I couldn't consider it for the other answer.

joho 9:37 AM  

I, too, like @Arras Camp-y Minos, did not know what a RUSTBELT was, thanks @RobC for the explanation. I wanted RUSTBUCKET.

I liked that it took me a while to figure out that we were adding T I R E to create the theme answers.

@jesser, love your rating of C MINOS, but I'd give it a higher mark.

Rick 9:42 AM  

Got SPARETIRE early, then put in RE-COUP-COSTS and thought the theme had car models in the answers...doing too much auto repair lately, I guess

Tita 10:03 AM  

@chefbea - have done so...if you see an email from Tereza, that's me!
Thx.

mac 10:05 AM  

I know what a rust belt is, but what is a trust belt? I also did not know wilco, so my flock was in a pen. Another write-over was Nestea for Nestle. Lipton is the company name, so I didn't expect a product name.

That EEE sits like a pimple on the forehead of this puzzle. I enjoyed the solve, though.

@Andrea: talking about scrabbly, has JayZ been in a puzzle yet?

@Tita: go to that blog, great food stories and recipes.

Shamik 10:17 AM  

Thought this was a debut puzzle, must have missed his previous one. It's always nice to do a puzzle on a day it's published. This came out to medium-challenging for me at 7:03. Missed all you nice folks. Hope to get the time off to get to the ACPT this year. :-)

Tobias Duncan 10:34 AM  

ENIAC like TSETSE, is crosswordese I would have easily known as a child since I was only allowed to watch PBS.ADAIR not so much.

Years ago I took an interest in MEME theory, it really changed my world view considerably.I have mixed emotions about the way the word is used today.

Two Ponies 10:43 AM  

Theme was OK but I'll have forgotten it by tomorrow.
Fabric names can be real mysteries. Having toile and arras next to each other is a bit much but luckily I remembered both, only from xwords though.
I grew up in the Rust Belt and for me the meaning was that they salted the roads in winter and everyone drove rusty cars.
@ jae, when you figure out what meme means let me know. I still haven't grasped that.
@ Jgerbs, The above-mentioned meme gives this grid four "me"s.
@ Andrea, I thought of The Me Park immediately too!
@ jesser, I'm with you all the way on Roy. Brilliant guitar work and highly unappreciated.

Jim 10:53 AM  

Good, solid Wednesday puzzle. With the recent track record, who can argue with a puzzle that hits its marks and does what it's supposed to do?

I'll wait for a few more of these before I get into the finer points of theme vibrancy.

MEME...hmmph. Like meta, I guess, insofar as it's a web-word that I just can't get my head around or really care to. But sussable, I suppose.

Really like dropping TROU, both as a kid, and now, less provocatively, as an adult in my puzzle.

Great job, Mr Handman.

davko 11:14 AM  

I marvel at the cleverness required to come up with original themes, and this one wasn't bad. It was a tougher-than-usual Wendesday for me: not knowing the spelling of either ZAC (20A) or WILCO (3D) created a bit of a Natick with my insertion of a 'K,' and there were some abstruse answers (TROU? WILCO? TRUST BELT?) that I still don't get. It's weird not having Wikepedia right there for a follow-up... how will we fact-checkers and trivia junkies ever get through the day?

FearlessK 11:21 AM  

My cranky pants must be in the wash or something, because I enjoyed this puzzle! Call me Pollyanna (if you do, you won't be the first!), but I look at (personal) naticks as an opportunity to fill gaps in knowledge: always looking to improve from my usual leaderboard standing in the mid-300s!

Puzz-spouse wears EE shoes, so EEE was easy fill (possibly TOO easy, as @mac so colorfully points out :)

All NW Downs were gimmes, which revealed ICONARTISTS, which put me immediately on the wrong road to AppleLand, expecting a theme of wacky answers beginning with I. Luckily IRUSTBELT made absolutely no sense (at least in any parallel universe I know of) so I got out of the QUICKSAND just in time for the SPARETIRE reveal, and back on track for the other theme answers.

Still no idea what a MEME is (other than two more MEs; thanks, @Two Ponies!). Something else to google...

I've just gotta express some love for the ESO/LUEGO cross. Those answers dropped in nice and smooth from years of Spanish language study, and just in the nick of time, too: I needed some traction in the Texas area to get TOILE and ARRAS!

Thanks, Mr. Handman, and fellow Rexites, for a fun start to the day!

chefbea 11:28 AM  

@Jgerks...and also meme

Two Ponies 11:39 AM  

@ jesser, Remember Andrea's Q-tip acronym? I think it's appropriate at 59D. I know some straight guys, and girls too come to think of it, who are sissies.

syndy 11:45 AM  

I liked the fill better than the theme answers-they seemed a little strangulated.I liked the resonance of ACHOO/AMTOO IDO IDO!

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

i was thinking of the wrong sort of flocks so lea led me astray. didn't know arras but got it from crosses. liked quicksand, themepark and no rush.

miriam b 12:43 PM  

REPIN may be a way of adjusting a corsage, but it's also the name of the Ukrainian realist artist (Ilya REPIN)who painted the Volga Boatmen among other familiar works. http://www.ilyarepin.org/

typer: that's me

jberg 1:01 PM  

Got to 18A before I knew the theme, so I was thinking of the rich guy stereotype in the "Monopoly" board game and trying to fit in top hat of watch fob, or morning coat, or something -- finally saw it with ICON ARTISTS, and then the delightful ROUT OF THIS WORLD.

Generally, I thought there were too many cute clues; it felt like I was doing one of those Guardian or Nation puzzles. They can be fun, but they aren't the same.

Writeovers: PEnS for PEWS, SPotty for SPARSE, MIdaS (stupidly) for MINOS, and PROB I (figuring the abbreviation of MATHematics in the clue was meaningful) for PROOF, until OAST saved me (whatever an oast may be).

WILCO means "WILl COmply" - "Roger" just means "I heard you," so you have to add the WILCO if it's an order or instruction. And a MEME is like a gene for ideas.

How come none of you baseball fans is complaining about 16A, NO HIT? I guess it's literally true, since a perfect game is a no-hitter, among other things, but it's too misleading for me.

efrex 1:04 PM  

Liked the theme revealer, and thought the wacky answers were a lot of fun.

Didn't mind the sub-optimal fill for the most part, but ESO was nearly a triple-Natick for me (pulled ARRAS out of the dusty recesses of my mind, and the other two letters were calculated guesses).

Had NHLER before OILER, and resisted putting in SHERA for 59D.

Thanks, Mr. Handman!

theoda3rd 1:35 PM  

Easy puzzle, cept for "arras". Now will never forget it. Evil Doug did you make your Rex donation yet? Didn't think so!!!

Lewis 1:40 PM  

Neither a wow nor a yuck nor a joy nor a slog. Pleasant and workmanlike.

I had SPARE but it took me a while to figure out TIRE because I was thinking of a baggage trunk. Was naticked at ZAK/WILKO, but when Mr. Happy Pencil didn't come up, I went right to it and fixed it.

I'm not comfortable enough with MEME to use it in a sentence. I guess I'm getting to know crosswordese, as I was quite comfortable with SMEE, OAST, and ELO.

Bird 1:53 PM  

Nice change of pace - haven't seen an "insert letter" theme in a while. Had a great AHA! moment which let me finish the puzzle.

Only pause was reading the clue for 35D and entering QUICKDRAW at 33D (I had Q_ICK____). Oh, well.

Didn't know all the answers, but fill was good enough that I was able to complete with crosses.

Looking forward to the Giants advancing to the Super Bowl. Go Big Blue!!!

JHC 2:26 PM  

Did anybody else have an issue with OJAYS/TANYA cross? On the one hand, it's two lesser known proper nouns, both from roughly same sphere (mid-late-20th-century pop music). On the other hand, there was really only one letter it could have been, and once I had everything else, I had no trouble filling in the Y. I guess somebody else would have commented already if it were an issue, but I'm curious as to what people think.

tandrea icarlar emichaels 2:48 PM  

@Jberg
Didn't know WILl COmply = WILCO!
Now that's the exact kind of thing i love to come to the blog comments for!

Hmmmm, now that its been brought up, IT'S ME, ON ME, MEME, (and THE ME PARK) is a lot of me me me me.
Maybe Chris is really Horshak!

And again, altho i think T/RUSTBELT is a dullish theme answer
(tho mostly thru my ignorance of not totally knowing what RUSTBELT was, so couldn't appreciate the play on words fully...tho i love @dk's explanation....Tho now i have to look up what color/material "madras" is to fully get his joke AND i will have to contend with his not reading past "i love @dk..." to get mine! )
I did love that all the add-a-letters were consistently in the front.

Tony Orbach and i made a Sunday where we added an i
(ARE WE THERE YETI, OPEN WIDE AND SAY AHI) and now I'd love to see one where they all started with
I...because i love ICONARTISTS.

Actually now that i think about it we did have one by a young boy that was i+ as a sort of Apple tribute... And one where the capital i = lower case l...but that was a whole 'nother thing.
HASTA LUEGO!

Larry 3:17 PM  

You know what's a waste of time writing about? Ambivalence. Yet I'm about to do it. You know what's an ever bigger waste of time? Reading about ambivalence. Stop right how.

The conceit of the puzzle was a new one to me, add a letter in order from another word to get wacky phrases, so that was good. Wacky phrases not being so wacky was not so good. I liked ICONARTIST because there is, or used to be, such a thing. Back when Windows was new there was an actual staff who's job it was to design icons. I liked ROUTOFTHISWORLD because it sounds like a real thing, hence to my mind wacky. I disliked the other two because they weren't wacky, they were nonsensical.

Jesser - Sorry your experience in life made 59D such a sore point for you. Peace my friend.

quilter1 3:21 PM  

Madras is a colorful plaid cotton from Madras India. Popular during the '60s. You might have had a madras skirt.

dk 3:34 PM  

Andrea loves me... forget the fabric!

As quilter1 has posted. As a young dk madrid shirts, shorts (bermuda length) and for some pants (trousers in WASP ville) were the rage. I wore the trousers with my Clark Treks accented with my horn rimmed glasses.

I was so fab - not.

Bird 3:59 PM  

@dk - I had a pair of madras shorts that I wore with a white t-shirt, penny loafers and wayfarer sunglasses. And yes, there were pennies in the loafers. So chic. So long ago. I did get the girl though, so it wasn't too bad.

captcha ELYNO (Rigby)

evil doug 4:03 PM  

In 30-odd years of flying, I don't think I ever said "wilco". Telling a controller that you'll comply with instructions doesn't ensure that you understood them correctly. Pilots are required to repeat the controller's command:

ATC: Delta 123, fly heading one three five, climb to flight level three five zero.

Delta 123: Roger, Delta 123, heading one three five, climb to three three zero.

ATC: Negative, Delta 123; climb to flight level three five zero.

Delta 123: Okay, sorry, Delta one two three climb to three five zero.

"Wilco" there could have been disastrous. Probably no pilot error is more common than communication glitches and subsequent failure to do as assigned. The collision at Tenerife is a good example.

On the other hand, Jeff Tweedy's band Wilco is brilliant.

Evil

L.I.Jenny 4:09 PM  

Long-time solver/reader but my first-time post to this Rexville blog, with its very interesting cast of characters. No comment on today's puzzle (still working up my nerve) but:

@foodie ........ (from last week - sorry it's so late - apologies if someone already told you)........ Do you know you can disable that really annoying Auto-Correct on the ipad? I did so months ago and much prefer doing my own proofreading.

Go to Settings, then General, then Keyboard.

Switch "Auto-Correction" to Off.

Probably also best to switch "Check Spelling" to Off as I think they work in tandem. (Any Apple gurus out there to clarify this last point?)

Maybe you already know this but, instead of slogging through the online Apple manuals, the easiest thing is usually just to Google a question: "How do I disable Auto-Correction on the ipad?"

Rudy 4:26 PM  

@quilter1

MADRAS

Bleeding Madras were popular cotton shirts to provide the cool look in the 60s. Not sure I remember JFK standing dockside at Hyannisport with his shades and bleeding Madras shirts but he would have cut quite a figure.

Madras of course is a major port city in South India (my birthplace!) now known by the name Chennai (Bleeding Chennai?!). The British in their 200+ year rule of India used Madras as their de facto capital so that they were well ensconced even as they successively defeated the Mughal, French (Pondicherry in the South, Portuguese (Goa today) and Dutch colonialist. But I will leave you with this limerick:

There was a man from Madras
Whose balls were made of brass
In stormy weather
they clashed together
And sparks came out of his arse (pronounced the British way)

detal (captcha) assistant 4:42 PM  

I was searching for MEH the answer when I realized that MEH was the theme and arguably the entire puzzle.

Wicked theme. Not really.

So little joy and reward.

Anonymous 4:49 PM  

theoda3rd - Rex should pay Evil Doug for being here. Today, for example, he gave one of the most insightful reasons for a bad clue ever read here. Besides, if you go to his profile you will see he is retired and sponging off his wife, so he clearly is in no position to donate....

JFC

ksquare 5:02 PM  

@Rex: How can this be counted as a 78 worder when there are 140 clues? Since some of them have multi-word answers, there are actually more!

Sparky 5:07 PM  

I had leas and mgs, also Spock before SEUSS. Didn't get theme till here. Kept trying to figure out what the letter R was doing. I found the whole thing a bit annoying but I did finally finish ok.

I wrote a comment at 12:43 or so and it disappeared. It wasn't profane so I doubt it was Rexcised.

We are over humpday, looking forward to Thursday.

JenCT 5:57 PM  

I wrote two comments today, and both disappeared?

What's up with that?

Two Ponies 6:08 PM  

@ JFC, I don't know if you are trying to be funny but where do you get off calling someone you do not know a sponge? You seem to feel the need to engage Evil Doug in some sort of dialogue. He has taken the high road so far and ignored you but I'm tired of reading your little barbs. Doug is a long-time member here and well-liked by many.
To everyone else, sorry. I would have said this directly to JFC if he had an account.

evil doug 6:08 PM  

O'Jays crossing PJ's? Backstabbers in nightwear. My wife is M.J. My son is J.J. My nephew is a part-time D.J. when he isn't defending America from terrorists. I like to drink O.J. And I've got nothing to say about B.J.'s.

Evil

Pete 6:18 PM  

@JFC - Evil gave an example of cases where Roger would not be followed by WILCO. There are plenty of examples where Roger is followed by WILCO, so much so that it has become a part of the language as a pair. Others here have explicated on the derivation of WILCO. The clue was spot on.

evil doug 6:19 PM  

Good ol' Two Ponies, watching my back, as usual. I think he's citing my satirical profile on Blogger where I actually call myself a 'parasite' on my working wife, since I retired after seven years of making $8k a year teaching two college courses. (And I derived such pleasure out of working with NKU freshmen in my beloved public speaking course that I would have done it for less.)

Thanks,

doug

evil doug 6:23 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
loren muse smith 6:42 PM  

@ anonymous -"I got tied down, once again, by sticking too long with a likely but ultimately wrong answer. Today it was 12D, and MYWIFE just didn't go with the crosses."

Funniest post I've read on this blog. Ever.

quilter1 6:51 PM  

One of my comments disappeared too.

thruckis: what I said when my comment disappeared.

Z 8:10 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 8:14 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 8:59 PM  

@Two Ponies 6:08 p.m. –

Normally I do not respond to a rant based on a lack of understanding. But if you left click your mouse (assuming you have one) on the name of Evil Doug in his post you will read the following:

“Delta pilot (retired); adjunct professor at NKU (retired); parasite sponging off of my wife the real teacher (current).”

I do not know "where you do get off" attacking me when the person who was aiming a “barb” was the person to whom I was responding. While my comment was not directed to Evil Doug, it should be obvious to even the most casual reader of my comments that I am a fan. I enjoy his sense of humor and his perspective, which apparently is more than you can say about even beginning to understand my sense of humor or perspective....

JFC

fergus 9:00 PM  

Anyone remember RECARVE? I thought Rex was going to light into REPIN with equal vehemence ...


(bumbi--cute mendicant)

chefwen 9:11 PM  

@Bird - We used to put dimes in our penny loafers in case we had to make a phone call. I guess pretty much dates me.

Anonymous 9:34 PM  

@Pete 6:18 p.m. - Yes, we all know that, but what we all did not know is what Evil Doug said.

Maybe Will also did not know what Evil said.

Apparently the NYT XWP must now be judged on the basis of common ignorance rather than expertise. I can live with that....

JFC

fergus 10:36 PM  

At one point Rex was sort of lax in farming out the comment space to those of us in later time zones. Anyone looking for more and less than tossed-off conversation still alights here.

Ham Operator 10:54 PM  

@JFC- You said "Today, for example, he gave one of the most insightful reasons for a bad clue ever read here." How does one counter example to the common usage make for a bad clue? Roger WILCO has been used in ham radio for decades. The fact that pilots would repeat the instructions does not obviate that fact that Roger WILCO is used, as is, in other scenarios.


Your man crush on Evil aside, the clue was perfectly accurate, hence not bad. The clue even specified radioer, not pilot.

Anonymous 11:18 PM  

@Ham Operator@ 10:54 - "Your man crush aside,..." How do you know that Evil and I are not women?

Jgerbs 11:59 AM  

For those that are wondering what a MEME is: http://www.quickmeme.com/. They are characters that do/say things that fit a certain theme. They're hard to explain without looking at them.

And as for those who said that MEME adds to the two ME's in this puzzle, making it 4, not quite. MEME is one word and does not include the word ME as we would define it as a reference to oneself.

And still, no one has really answered me (hah): are the two ME's in this puzzle a mistake, or this that not a rule?

sanfranman59 12:12 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 6:24, 6:50, 0.94, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:56, 8:52, 1.01, 59%, Medium
Wed 12:07, 11:50, 1.02, 61%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:34, 3:40, 0.97, 42%, Medium
Tue 4:47, 4:35, 1.05, 65%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 6:13, 5:52, 1.06, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Julia C.Tuthill 1:47 PM  

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Dye 1oz Bottle Fluoro-Lite Leak Detection

Spacecraft 12:39 PM  

Thank you, captcha gods, for at least removing the black blob. Now, though for the life of me I can't fathom why ONE word wouldn't do, I can faithfully recreate what's there. Now please, no more fixing what ain't broke!
Today was easy but with a couple of near-Naticks, so yeah, easy-medium. TOILE/ARRAS/LUEGO, that spells ("M-O-O-N!") trouble for me. MEME? I know nothing. Got it on crosses, shrugged, and left it in. I was just lucky to hit on SELLS for "Hawks." Guess my brain's been "Shortzitized."
I thought sure this guy was going for a panny when he hit me with ZAC and the OJAYS (hmm, new group?); the wonderful QUICKSAND furthered this idea--but alas! no X. Weird to find AMTOO and ACHOO in the same grid. One IDO is enough, thank you.
Now, while we're celebrating the wonderfully funny (and gorgeously sexy!) Teri Garr,let us include her appearance on STTOS' "Assignment: Earth" as the ditzy secretary employed by Gary Seven's predecessors. She was hilarious. "It's typing...it's typing everything I'm saying! Stop it! STOP IT!" Ah, great stuff.

Singer 1:54 PM  

Spacecraft, don't forget her sexy appearance in Young Frankenstein, where she rolled in the hay with Gene Wilder. :-)

Dirigonzo 3:48 PM  

From the syndicate, didn't we just have FRA - like yesterday, maybe?

I really wanted 59d to be puSSY but I guess if SISSY is offensive to some that would have been moreso. Still a better answer, though.

Like @Tita I once owned a 1960 MG - traded it for a '65 GTO; needless to say I was young and single. Every car since then has been practical, economical and safe, therefore boring.

ozmosis 4:38 PM  

Pretty easy for a Wednesday. I did get a chuckle out of 61 down. And all these years I have spelled "drop trou" with a "w" instead of a "u".

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