Vexations composer / SAT 1-14-12 / Yellow fever carrier / Roman count / Pfizer brand since 1997 / Coastal setting of The Birds / Provider of relief for finger / Thornburgh's predecessor as attorney general

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Constructor: Mark Diehl

Relative difficulty: Challenging



THEME: none 

Word of the Day: ESTRAY (8D: Animal that has escaped from its owner) —
Estray, in law, is any domestic animal found wandering at large or lost, particularly if the owner is unknown. (wikipedia) [so ... a stray, then]
• • •

This one kicked me around pretty bad. On the other hand, if I'd simply been able to recall CONROY as readily as I should have (big Duh moment when I got that one), and if I'd taken LUNATIC out sooner (34A: Nutty as can be => IDIOTIC), and if I'd simply been able to see the very obvious CREWMATES (I had CREWMA---S and couldn't think of word that would fit...) (1A: Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins), I might have had this done in half the time. Cluing and content was hard all around, though I started off very quickly. ADIT (crosswordese, wheeee!) and MEESE (5D: Thornburgh's predecessor as attorney general) and WISHI went in 1, 2, 3 (or UNO DUE TRE, I guess — that answer was brutal; 12D: Roman count?). But then the CREWMA- blank happened, and I wrote in UTAH STATE (not having read the clue very well, obviously), and then I was just stuck (19A: A.B.A. team that signed Moses Malone out of high school => UTAH STARS). Then for a while all I had in the NE was RELO, EMORY, and SPY STORY (14D: Le Carré specialty). NO MAS was easy, and that got me into the SE, where, after much fumbling around (including ESSES for MASTS (42A: The U.S.S. Constitution has three) and ETHOS for MORES), I got everything sorted out down there. NW and SE done, other corners, patchy and empty, respectively.



I worked on patchy (NE). And worked. All The Long Downs (the 9s) are "?" clues. That's torture. I've never seen anything like it, that kind of "?" density. What the hell is a CAMEO RING? I mean, I can guess, but come on (11D: Provider of relief for a finger?). Took me forever to get LIPITOR (30A: Pfizer brand since 1997) because I had TRACES for TRICES. Eventually my crosswordese skillz kicked in and I got AEDES (20A: Yellow fever carrier). Honestly, I can't even reconstruct the exact order of things in the NE. It was just ugly. Once I dared to put in CONOID and took out LUNATIC, the previously impossible SW opened right up. CIGAR ASH went right in (32D: Cuban remnant). How do I "know" BODEGA BAY?? I thought I was making it up, but then all the crosses worked (26D: Coastal setting of "The Birds"). "AGNES GREY"?? Wow, there's a Saturday answer. My Ph.D. in English did not prepare me for that one—maybe I've heard of it, but the bell it's ringing, if it's ringing one, is pretty faint (40A: Anne Brontë's first novel).


I'd say this grid looks pretty good overall (with the notable exception of the stupid word ESTRAY). Hard to fill a low word-count puzzle like this in such a smooth way. Commendable. Cluing was brutal, but it's Saturday. I can't expect to down them all in 10 minutes.

Bullets:
  • 47A: Grounation Day celebrant (RASTA) — April 21 – The anniversary of Haile Selassie's visit to Jamaica. Needless to say, I did not know this.
  • 37A: Storms on the road (GEOS) — I take issue with the "on the road" part of this clue, in that I haven't seen one ... lately. 
  • 31D: Locust tree feature (POD) — no idea what kind of tree this is, so I was clueless for a long time here. 
  • 45D: Post-marathon posts (TIMES) — Vexations! "Posts" can mean lots of things.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

96 comments:

loren muse smith 8:06 AM  

Well, this was another one of those puzzles that at first glance had me thinking I wouldn’t get anything. Then I saw my three toe holds: BODEGA BAY (that movie scared the bejeezus out of me), EMORY, and CONROY. After a lot of hard work, everything fell but the NW. Once I googled UTAHSTARS and erased “fairy dust,” I was able to finish. Never heard the word ESTRAY, either, and had “brick oven” for a while before I changed it to STONEOVEN. Is Land’s End a Cornish company?

Thanks, Mark – perfect Saturday level for me!

S James 8:07 AM  

Trices threw me off I had it in there but it did not look correct. Turns out I don't know how to spell emery, I mean Emory university.

Ruth 8:12 AM  

Land's End is that little tip on the southwest corner of England that juts out into the sea. I think. And that is Cornwall.

foodie 8:28 AM  

Well, unlike yesterday,, I brought my brain along for this solve and it's amazing how handy that is. I actually thought Rex would rate it easy! That does not mean I did it perfectly. When I got ESTRAY, I used the check function to see whether this actually was correct and was shocked that it was. I think I cheated in that same way somewhere else, but no googling and I finished in good time for me on a Saturday--20 some minutes... I think the secret is not too many proper nouns, and names of drugs and a university, which were all gimmes.

So, happy me! I'll need to remember that brain trick...

Smitty 8:31 AM  

So relieved you rated it challenging!
I finished, but it was a struggle - in a good sort of way.
For the most part, lots of Doh's when I did get the answer, but there were a lot of important words that linked one area of the grid to another that I didn't know, STOSSEL, BOLTON, TRICES...
Why is CAMEO RING a provider of relief, because it's 3D? (wanted wedding ring) PUREBLOOD seems like it should be PUREBRED and I'll bet I'm not the only one who had BRICK OVEN
Good Saturday.

Leslie 8:44 AM  

For the first time in a long while, I gave up and didn't finish. The SW kicked my ass. Forgot BOLTON and was thinking, "What letters might one see right before the "ton" Let's see . . . L, S, R--oooh, I'll bet it's R because they're going to RE-do something on that bathroom to-do list." And that was that for that whole corner. Got CIGAR ASH, got SAULT, got HYPES, got IDIOTIC, got RASTA, but could not leave out that "blank-O-R-T-O-N" to save my life. Stuck, stuck, stuck.

My folks took/take LIPITOR (my mom passed away this summer), so I was proud of myself for remembering that one.

Also, I wanted BRICK OVEN instead of STONE OVEN, but it was clear that wasn't going to work.

Tough one--a true Saturday puzzle!

Glimmerglass 8:53 AM  

Brutal is exactly right. Finished, but with a two-letter error (mODEnABAY, a place I made up). I've seen the movie more than once, but couldn't dredge up BODEGA. Should have guessed AGNES (AnNE S. wasn't a very good guess). Didn't know BOLTON. But my ignorance in the SW wasn't why this was brutal. The cluing throughout was really nasty, sometimes almost unfair -- but this is Saturday. I loved it.

Deb 9:01 AM  

@Smitty, I didn't actually enter "brick" because it obviously wasn't going to work, but that's what it is called. Seriously, find me ONE pizza place in the entire country who advertises their pizzas are baked in a STONE oven and I will buy you a pizza. I saw that it must be STONE much sooner than I grudgingly entered it. Really lame clue/answer, IMO.

But I digress.

Rex! I know your real name is Michael and you aren't nearly as hot as that avatar, but at times like this, I truly feel like I'm connecting with some sort of super-human/alien being who will one day notice I'm just as special as he. BAM! on CONROY, but for me, I'm always surprised it's Conroy because The Great Santini feels like it should be a much older novel for some reason. Half BAM! on ADIT, which is the very first word I learned strictly from doing crosswords (circa 1970). But I see the word used in crosswords pretty rarely now in comparison to that time (this is only the second time I can recall in years). Also had traces instead of TRICES and didn't parse "posts" as TIMES for an embarrassingly long time.

I wish, instead of WISH I held me up for a time, and having entered lasso instead of RIATA and alias instead of EXPAT, I wanted "claimants" for one across even though I was dead certain none of those NASA notables had made the news that way.

Smooches to you, Rex, for providing the impetus to chat around the water cooler every day. I hope Evil Doug's prediction is wrong.

evil doug 9:04 AM  

San Diego County took me half my time. Cigar end? Cigar tip? Finally got my dumb ash act together and the corner came together.

We've moved up to D-cups.

Pixie dust and Tinkerbell....clap your hands for me!

Never heard of aedes, but crosses worked.

All pilots have a little Great Santini in them. Hard on a family, good for survival.

Wedged is a good word. Love to see wedgie sometime.

Evil

retired_chemist 9:06 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 9:07 AM  

Tough and fair. Took me a LOOONG time but it was worth it.

Hand up for ASTRONAUT despite needing a plural for 1A, BRICK OVEN @ 53A (STONE ovens? Really?), FREAK @ 10D, some kind of PAN @ 7D, wrong religion for GHOST @ 44D (which is where 10D should have been placed), KIAS @ 47A.

Got BOLTON, HUND, and AEDES right off (sounds like a law firm), POD (31D) and EMORY (19A) with minimal thought, and lots more with a LOT of thought.

Great fun, some clever answers, one legal but ugly (CONOID :-().

Thanks, Mr. Diehl.

Rudy 9:09 AM  

"Challenging" is to put it mildly. I too was thrown off by 35d Lands End clue until I reminded myself to remove my US blinder. And BAYER and LIPITOR were there for a heart-healthy morning.

To me the Southeast was brutal. Who the heck has a single NACHOCHIP in a bowl? Watching Tebow tonight one may want several to kneel next to. STONEOVEN got me too while I was hung up on BRICKOVEN.

NOMAS.. great, original clue.

Jim Walker 9:11 AM  

Glad Rex thought it challenged. Must have been in my wheelhouse since it was fastest Saturday in history for me. Love Bodega Bay, Pat Conroy Detest John Bolton and Ed Meese. Had leaky pipe for way too long. B Cups on Thursday, D Cups on Saturday. Hope this isn't a trend or will soon see a clue for ZEBRA. The Italian count and the Spanish uncle were my favorite clues.

Jim Walker 9:13 AM  

Glad Rex thought it challenged. Must have been in my wheelhouse since it was fastest Saturday in history for me. Love Bodega Bay, Pat Conroy Detest John Bolton and Ed Meese. Had leaky pipe for way too long. B Cups on Thursday, D Cups on Saturday. Hope this isn't a trend or will soon see a clue for ZEBRA. The Italian count and the Spanish uncle were my favorite clues.

evil doug 9:15 AM  

They detest you too.

They detest you two.

Evil

M07S 9:17 AM  

BOLTON does not pass the breakfast test for me. Sent me into a rant that I'm still trying to work my way outta. A true POS and just one of many from that infamous political era. I thought I'd mellow as I got older. Guess not.

Deb 9:23 AM  

@Rudy: Indeed! I figure WS saw this puzzle and called the constructor on that NACHO CHIP thing and the constructor said "Hey, I've been to a lot of parties where the nachos were right next to the chip and dip and WS realized that was a decent enough Saturday clue.

Deb 9:36 AM  

Amen, MO7S, but if I hadn't been so opposed to his installation to that post, I would never have solved the puzzle. I wonder what the sorry bastard is doing now.

Three and out. Probably.

Nitty Griddy 9:36 AM  

Hmm ... TIT and D-CUPS in the same puzzle? Amazing. And I wasn't too thrilled with TIME crossing TIMES. Otherwise, a nice, hard solve.

Nakitab 9:37 AM  

Thank you, Rex, for rating this puzzle challenging. If I hadn't remembered AGNES GREY from somewhere I would still be staring at the SW corner. Loved Spanish uncle!

Billy Shears 9:42 AM  

Without being able to recall Bolton's name, the SW corner was a lockout for me. Really, none of the SW clues below it were at all apparent, so this seems to be a similar situation to a "Natick crossing", where without some fairly specific knowledge, you are locked out of a section. Does Rex have a name for this situation as well?

Geometricus 9:46 AM  

First time ever finished (albeit with googling) a Saturday puzzle before I went to bed on Friday. Learned AEDES and will never forget it now. Wife helped me remember LIPITOR, as she is a medical assistant. Pulled BODEGABAY out of somewhere I don't know where, but The Birds was a movie my parents let me stay up and watch when I was young. Was glad to finally get TIMES but I should have gotten it sooner because I ran the Twin Cities marathon this year in 4:53. Finished in less than 5 which was my goal for my first marathon.

AnnieD 9:46 AM  

Perfect Saturday puzz for me. Got a few anchors in and then it was just the proper pace. Got NE first followed by SE, then SW and finished up at NW.

Had spy novel before spy story, plan to before mean to and loose pipe before loose tile.

Loved Bodega Bay and the fun I had with Cornish and No Mas and the dohs! with Uno Due Tre and Hund.

Thanks to Mr. Diehl for so many fresh clues and answers.

dk 9:48 AM  

As I am honeyless I have no list so I grout tile.

It goes without saying that TIT and DCUP totally grossed me out. What do these constructors LAPSEINTO?

What really had me ABOIL was STONEOVEN. My time for a Saturday hovers around 45 minutes and I was well ahead of that until 53A. I agree with the above comment: "Find me a pizzeria with a STONEOVEN and I will... eat a slice or two.

All of my carping and @Deb's fawning odes to Rex aside :)

*** (3 Stars) PUREBLOOD PIXIEDUST in my book. Thank you mark.

evil doug 9:54 AM  

Deb:

http://cincinnati.metromix.com/other/pizza/stone-oven-pizzeria-hebron/606696/content

evil

Tobias Duncan 10:20 AM  

I really wish BOLTON had been clued "no talent assclown"

My childhood bout with reggaemylitis helped with Groundation day except I always thought it was Groundation day , there is even a band called Groundation that I used to go see.Odd.Good thing for me I misread so many clues that I never even noticed the missing d.

DNF as I had to google a few times to finish but I still did better than I would have expected for challenging Saturday.

KRMunson 10:21 AM  

SW corner vexed me. Sault? Conoid? Bolton? Agnes Grey? I plead no contest.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Didn't know why cameo ring was correct until I realized which "relief" they were talking about.

Z 10:46 AM  

After that super easy Friday, back to normal today. HTG and still a DNF. Having aSTRAY just totally blocked me up in the north. I was looking for some sort of 7 hill reference for the Roman count. Had SPY novel for awhile as well. Definitely challenging for me.

SAULT Ste. Marie - where Lake Superior and Lake Huron connect. The Soo Locks must have replaced the waterfall there.

r.alphbunker 10:57 AM  

Once again the Southwest proved to be Death Valley for me. Would not have passed a drug test because I had a google-induced hallucination of John Bolton and Agnes Grey being married by a Rastafarian which allowed me to finish.

A mistake I wish I'd made is to have a tat for a tit.

Running Man 11:01 AM  

SAULT is one of those words that I whip out only for crosswords, like EPEE. Really tired of EDYS in my x-word lately. Does anyone else get ticked when the same answer shows up several times in a two-week run?

Maybe it is just teacher types that also hate it when their students use words like "stuff" and "things" in their English papers...

Like Rex, I got hung up for a ridiculous amount of time on "post-marathon posts" - trying to make it part of the e-universe, but it just wasn't.

Gill I. P. 11:02 AM  

I loved, loved this perfect Saturday puzzle. Lots of words I haven't seen before ROLO, AEDES, CONOID, didn't know AGNES GREY, CONROY and HUND? From Land's End had me wanting to fit in some sort of down coat. I loved that store - too bad it closed.
@Smitty - a cameo is a relief carving such as a portrait or a scene. That clue had me scratching a bit too.
Oh, 52A also had me scratching - SAULT?
Took a while to complete and I needed some help but all in all, a most satisfying 2 hours.

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

Wow! I must finally be getting better. Figured Rex would rate this no worse than medium when I finished (15-20 minutes or so with no Googling). C-plus came right away, and riata, then crewmates (I'm old enough to have watched that on TV). Guessed aedes as my final fill. And when I finally had enough crosses to remember Bodega Bay, then Bolton came to me. Resisted conoid, but it had to be right. Also the LA Times today (which I did first) had Satie with the same clue.
Had lots of the same initial miscues: Utah State, traces, end for ash, etc, but I enjoyed this one (mostly because I did it without help!).

Wood 11:04 AM  

Was doing pretty well until the SW. Had POINTY for the dunce cap for a while, hosing everything up. Finally remembered BOLTON (I could picture his assclown face but his name escaped me)... And that finally broke things open, in spite of never having heard of BODEGA BAY or AGNES GREY. And AEDES... Huh? Will have to google that one. Still, I love a puzzle that is HARD but that I can actually finish.

Lindsay 11:12 AM  

CAMEO RING made sense, but AEDES didn't (to me) so I left that cross blank. Thanks to Anon@10:45 for the explanation. I couldn't get mood rings and other such quackery (relief) out of my head.

Like others, found the SW brutal. Never heard of BODEGA BAY. Thought of CIGAR ASH right off the bat, but it didn't cross 34A lunaTIC, so I decided the Cuban Remnant must be EL G-something, and the dunce cap starting with "e" would be an elided form of ellipse, which is, after all, a shape, if not exactly the shape of a dunce cap.

I did fall for the Land's End trick, and filled in Catalog, but realized immediately immediately immediately, that unlike the mail-order operation, the clue was properly punctuated, and that I'd been had.

archaeoprof 11:15 AM  

Had to work for almost every square, but finally got it.

Very strange that a few here in Rexville can turn a brilliant Saturday puzzle into an occasion for hate.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

I thought estray was having an on-line affair.

Cheerio 11:23 AM  

I naticked at the crossing of wedged, trices, and cameoring. But otherwise it seemed easy for a Saturday.

ArtO 11:39 AM  

NW and SE and parts of NE (could only think of anopheles for some reason, not AEDES) went down with a struggle (forget CAMEO RING -x#@!).

Other than BOLTON, no chance on AGNES GREY, BODEGA BAY or CONOID in SW.

Happy to see the Challenging rating since Saturdays are usually a DNF and to get more than half with that rating is a major victory for me!!

David 11:42 AM  

By far the most difficult part of this excellent puzzle for me was the NE, specifically CAMEO RING - I did think of AEDES but didn't like DREAD for Horrible, and it took me a bit to look at CAMEO RING as something other than a verb.

I actually had no problem with the SW, that was completed first - got all the long Downs with little issue except for BODEGA BAY, which came from crosses.

I left out TIMES for Post-marathon times for quite a while, I like it when a seemingly obvious answer actually is the answer once in a while. Just the opposite for TRACES vs TRICES - fortunately, I left that first vowel letter out until I figured out LIPITOR.

I really like almost every single one of the 9 letter stacks, Across and Down.

Norm 11:49 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
syndy 11:51 AM  

Brutal and finally nailed me in the NE. I could not gredge up EMORY wanted FULL BLOOD HAD blank RING and ETRE so fullstop! I had the SPY and had changed NOVEL to STORY finally RAN UP but DREAD was never coming and AEDES rings not at all,so I'll agree brutal and border line unfair tough cluing

Mel Ott 11:54 AM  

When @Rex rates a Saturday easy i usually find it challenging. This one I found easy (for a Saturday). Probably because I knew most of the proper names - they usually do me in.

I've been taking LIPITOR for years. I think it might be the most profitable prescription drug ever. The patent just expired in the past month or so, and a generic is now available, saving me and a gazillion others a few bucks.

Stan 12:00 PM  

Good, clever puzzle that was over my head, solving-wise. That's no surprise on a Saturday.

Have RASTA and DREAD already been pointed out? It was nice to Haile Selassie again so soon.

LIPITOR always sounds to me like a robotic villain from Power Rangers.

Will was just on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me"! "...a man so dope, he spells Shortz with a 'z'."

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

A good Saturday. My first reaction was despair, didn't know anything, then slowly started seeing things, finally got it without google for once. Laughed out loud when I realized "Spanish uncle" was not TOMAS!

ArtLvr 12:14 PM  

Land's End divides the English Channel from the Atlantic Ocean. A treeless granite plateau up to 800 feet high and culminating in dramatic cliffs, this is England's westernmost mainland point. The closest seaport is Penzance, which was actually home to pirates who preyed on Spanish galleons in centuries past, and in Regency times became vacationers' Brighton of the west. Farther out is the Seven Stones Reef where the giant oil tanker Torrey Canyon was wrecked in 1967. Nearby, also in Cornwall, is Lizard Point -- the farthest south bit of the English mainland, known for red-and-green veined igneous rock known as serpentine and said by some to have mystic properties!

ArtLvr 12:20 PM  

p.s. Amusing that it took me a while to see CAMEO RING, as I wear one nearly every day!

JaxInL.A. 12:30 PM  

I started like @loren muse but eventually began to feel smug at filling in three of the fins of this pretty pinwheel (except for the Natick at CAM_ORING/A_DES). I smiled at the cross of SAULT and SALT. Other small pleasures throughout.

It was the SE corner that did me in. Was never gonna see NACHO as the kind of chip. And even with MORES, TIMES and SPENT for the downs, the rest stayed hidden. Could not thing of what God and Congress could possibly have in common.

@Anon 11:17, estray- ha!

Gotta go make pancakes with the fresh blueberries from Trader Joe's. In January!

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

Ok, for a Saturday, this was a write-in. However, some of your 'easy-medium' ratings make me grind my teeth because they seem difficult. Different strokes I suppose.

Ulrich 12:38 PM  

Unsurprisingly, HUND was the first answer I put in. This is my favorite clue pattern for German words, even if it does not beat my favorite German clue of all time (as I keep on saying): When German pigs fly (NIE). But I also digress...

My best friend gave me NACHO CHIPS and the SE fell after that, except that IN DUE TIME stayed in far too long, blocking my exit. When I got through, I entered the troubled waters most of you encountered there, too, but with the help of some well-known CREW MATES, I made it safely to shore at BODEGA BAY--across some SAULT (now I know what it really means!). Like @foodie, I couldn't believe ESTRAY was a word, except for a stray offered on the web.

Ulrich 12:41 PM  

Ah, and today's grid pattern is the opposite of yesterday's, which tried its darndest to obfuscate the underlying rotational symmetry. Today's whirligig celebrates it instead.

Lurker0 12:55 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonymous 1:03 PM  

I'd rate it medium, judging from the number of cinnamon rolls that contributed to the project.

7 U's in a SatPuz. Smooooth fill. + a waycool center decoration. thUmbsUp.

Words of mystery: ESTRAY, AEDES, CONOID, TRICES.

Better clue for CONOID?: "Artoo in the can?"

Groaner moments: NOMAS, TIT. Had to think those over, too dumb long.

Fave 31 remark: "I can't expect to down them all in 10 minutes." You're scary, dude. Makes me feel like Mitt Romney's sky-dog.

M&A's version of 31's remark: "I wrote this comment down in just under 10 minutes."

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

Rumor has it that John Bolton shaved off his mustache and Hillary used the hair for her latest wig.

That's called tat for tit....

JFC

Lurker0 1:17 PM  

The GingriNch proposed BOLTON for his Secretary of State, but BOLTON endorsed the Mittster anyway. World, beware!

Here's another STONE OVEN pizzeria. @Deb -- you owe us, and I'll collect next time I'm in Ft. Collins (i.e., never, though I'm one of the few who's actually been there :-).

Off to the 'Stick (Candlestick Park) for the Niners' playoff game. We wear our full Cal gear, and get support or sympathy depending on the sport (7-6 in football this year -- CPLUS :-(). GO BEARS! (oops, Niners!)

Lurking Larry, the UC Golden Bear

Lewis 1:50 PM  

@anon 11:17 -- good one!

My last square was the D in AEDES, an hour in, and what a joy to see Mr. Smiley Pencil! Hard, but good hard, and IMO not unfair. Bravo, Mr. Diehl.

jackj 2:27 PM  

Immediately writing in EXPAT (wishing he had used John Hannah or Drew Bledsoe), MEESE and ADIT, it looked like another laugher but, it didn't take long to put that thought to rest.

Despite some answers which seemed unduly strained, like STONEOVEN, CIGARASH and TUNACAN, there were delights galore such as WAYCOOL, PUREBLOOD and, especially, UNODUETRE.

After dealing with BCUPS on Thursday we now have graduated to DCUPS on Saturday; from Twiggy to Dolly in one fell swoop. Entries to amuse the Victoria's Secret fans.

A definite winner from the dentist who delights in creating crossword root canals, our own Mark Diehl.

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

Gil I. P, said to Evil Doug: No mas!

Evil Doug replied: Une Due Tre. Then after one day continued with, No mas.

Matthew G. 2:40 PM  

Medium here. Several other recent Saturdays have taken me longer. This one was toughly clued throughout, but I always handle tough clues better than obscure answers (and enjoy them more, too). So liked this puzzle a lot.

First clue I noticed when I picked up the paper was "'The Great Santini' author," which was a gimme because my eighth grade teacher read it aloud to us over the course of a year. So I started with CONROY and pushed through most of the NE pretty quickly.

Biggest slowdown was in the SE, where I put BRICK OVEN instead of STONE OVEN. I'll take anyone's money on a bet that the former is more common, but I'm sure some places do call them STONE OVENs too.

miriam b 2:45 PM  

Good to see @ArtLvr and @Ulrich today.

Yes, challenging to the max, but well worth the time spent which I should've been using to work on my considerable to-do list.

Can I be the only Rexite who thought of a Cuban sandwich and tried to do something with "crumb"? When I seemed to be dealing with crumbASH I began to see the light at the end of the cigar.

I object on PC grounds to the clue for IDIOTIC. I realize, of course, that this word is often used loosely, as in "You plan is idiotic." Still...

Captcha: wites = Elmer Fudd's wituals.

jae 2:54 PM  

This seemed a skosh  tougher than medium to me.  NE was last to fall as I started with NOVEL for STORY and resisted DREAD for a while.  Also FANATIC for IDIOTIC at first.   BOLTON was a gimmie only because I shaved off the mustache I have in the picture a while ago.  When friends asked me why I told them I was tired of looking like John BOLTON.

treedweller 3:06 PM  

I had practically the same experience as Rex, except for taking several times as long and googling a few times to finish.

Except that AGNES GREY was easy for me--I read it in a college English class I took; it was assigned primarily to demonstrate how much better writers Anne's sisters were. Don't bother hunting it down--just reread _Jane Eyre_ or _Wuthering Heights_.

aedes cameo meeses 3:11 PM  

I'm enjoying reading about people's mistakes today that never would have occured to me, like tOMAS which make sense, Uncle Tom en espanol...

I instintively knew not to put in astronauts, nor aSTRAY but found this super hard if i hadnt remembered CONROY a huge help
And AEDES purely from a puzzle a few months back, only because i used it for my sign in name...as i probably will today.

Also took me forever to dredge up BODEGABAY even tho i live but miles from there...that's the town where the residents keep removing the sign so tourists can't find it...so perhaps they snuck into my mind and removed the sign as well.

In other geograhic horrors, i had COastal, then COuNtry for too long and thought there might be some reporter with the name Storm Gale.

I am definitely not happy with the TIME/TIMES crossing.
Esp because they are totally related. I still don't get or forgive the two COURSE thing last Friday/Saturday, but folks so fixated on ILLIN that that slid by.

Seriously is this TIME/TIMES thing a mistake? An exception to a rule? A rule that never was? A concession to an otherwise impossible to construct grid? An intentional gotcha? An oversight by Mark or Will?
It really throws me off because i put post-marathon post TIME in immediately, but struggled with that whole INOURTIMES. For a long TIME because i could not a ccept that that could be Twice in a puzzle, much less cross!

I guess I'll ask Dr. Diehl at the Silicon Valley puzzlefest later this month, but really what is the Dieh, doctor?

Anonymous 4:01 PM  

Acme,

Tell us how you really feel about being double-coursed and two-timed....

JFC

sanfranman59 4:01 PM  

As noted by Anonymous@11:03, today's NYT & LAT have identical out-of-the-blue clues/answers ("Vexations" composer/SATIE) ... coincidence or further evidence of a crossword constructor conspiracy?

Odd tidbit about this piece courtesy of Wikipedia ...

The piece bears an inscription which says that "In order to play the theme 840 times in succession, it would be advisable to prepare oneself beforehand, and in the deepest silence, by serious immobilities" (Pour se jouer 840 fois de suite ce motif, il sera bon de se préparer au préalable, et dans le plus grand silence, par des immobilités sérieuses). From the 1960s onward, this text has mostly been interpreted as an instruction that the page of music should be played 840 times, though this may not have been Satie's intention.

mac 4:38 PM  

This was an odd puzzle to me, because I started out so fast, filling in the NW and SE, then slowing down in the NE and SW. Puzzled the longest on "conoid" and Geos, and had to guess at Bodega Bay. Figured out the "Sault", interesting.

Good but very late workout for me, rarely do the puzzle at 10 p.m.

Back to the US tomorrow. Hold the snow, please.

quilter1 4:56 PM  

I had an all day meeting today so solved this afternoon, but it didn't really take long, although I don't time myself. Started at the bottom and worked my way up, but LIPITOR was my final entry.

Almost everything has been said already, so I'll just say that my writeovers were similar to those of others, The Birds was one of the scariest movies I ever saw, goggled at the crossing of TIME/TIMES, didn't see TIT until I came here, and how do you all really feel about BOLTON?

Gill I. P. 5:45 PM  

@aedes cameo:
Now that you pointed out the TIME/TIMES, I'm bothered by it too. I usually spot these duplicates but didn't see this one at all. I caught the COURSE thing and that one seemed strange as well. When or if you find out if this might be the new trend, please do share..Inquiring minds...
I still don't get HUND.
Back to the 49er game...Yay, so far.

ghostoflectricity 6:00 PM  

Agnes Grey threw me. "Way cool"? Haven't heard that one in years. Also, got "stone oven," but the fixtures of "authentic" pizzerias are usually made of brick which is NOT a synonym of stone."In our time" could also be the title of Hemingway's first published collection of stories. And try dipping a greasy-melted-cheese-covered "nacho chip" into a pristine bowl of dip (guacamole, onion, what-have-you). Just try it. You'll never be invited to a party again as long as you live. Others: I remembered "The Birds" took place in city named something Bay, beginning in a B, tried Botany first and then got Bodega. Tried "Utah State" (which would be a college name, I guess, not an A.B.A. professional-level team) before getting "Utah Stars," which was a new one on me. "D-cups": ha ha. And "estray"?? Give me a frickin' break. Sounds too close to "estrus," which is the technical word for the state of a female animal "in heat," i.e., ready to breed.

ghostoflectricity 6:03 PM  

@Gill I.P.: "Hund"= German for "hound," i.e., dog, i.e., "man's best friend."

Gill I. P. 6:37 PM  

@ghost: Danke. Now I can sleep ;)

Matthew G. 6:38 PM  

"Hund" is simply German for "dog," not specifically a hound.

Greg Charles 7:04 PM  

Thought Rex would bitterly complain about Bodega Bay like he does with most geography west of the Mississippi. That gave me Bolton, who's been in the news lately to put Obama's own recent recess appointment into perspective. I didn't get much else in this one though. Big DNF for me.

michael 7:12 PM  

Easy-medium for me, really surprised to see Rex rate it as challenging. Still, I'm sure he finished the puzzle in a third of the time it took me.

chefwen 7:33 PM  

This one was an over-nighter for me, got only half of it yesterday and had to struggle mightily to finish the rest today. Uncle Google helped me more than a couple of times.

Just got done making a fresh batch of "Packer Dip" which I shall serve tomorrow with Maui Style Potato Chips instead of NACHO CHIPS.

Tita 7:41 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tita 7:42 PM  

topggunS, then nailsit, before WAYCOOL.

Briefly thought "cocktails" at 1A (as in a Tom Collins)...

@Ulrich...my husband scared the Metzgerei's daughter when he asked her for Hundchenbrust...
(Those umlauts are really hard for us...)

This required puzzle husband (but no googling) to finish...I could see that Yosemite Sam moustache, but needed his help to bring the name out - his reaction was same as y'all's...

Your favorites were mine too.

Chip Hilton 8:05 PM  

Yeah, it's late, but I don't care. I want the Rexian world to know that I got 'em all! Eventually. I spent what seemed like a week and a half in the SW and then dealt with AEDES and CAMEORING to finish up. Whew! Saturday stuff, indeed.

Watching the end of this fascinating Saints/49ers game. Can Tebow and Tommy top this?

Dirigonzo 8:21 PM  

A Saturday puzzle that Rex rated challenging, and I finished in a couple of hours with only one google - I'm a happy camper. Good Diehl!

Tita 8:26 PM  

Oops - es tut mir leid, Ulrich - the Metzger's daughter...

joho 9:08 PM  

I just got home and am checking in to see how everybody rated this puzzle. I bought a paper at the airport this morning and really enjoyed solving in the actual paper again. I ended up with some black splotches but learned quickly to write my guesses in the margin before I destroyed the grid into an unreadable mess.

I loved this puzzle -- especially the clever cluing.

BUT: I have to agree with the very odd TIME/TIMES crossing. It brought back memories of the COURSE/COURSE puzzle. I do believe, the "Times" they are a changing. I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing, but it sure does bend the rules to a point where you wonder if there are any anymore?

Regardless, this was a fantastic Saturday, thank you, Mark Diehl!

Dirigonzo 10:13 PM  

@Tita - your appearance so soon after my comment reminded me that I meant to add that another sailing reference, Old Ironside's 3 MASTS, opened up that whole corner for me.

@JOHO - Perhaps Mark Diehl served in the military and remembers that in basic training you are taught to always move at double-TIME.

sanfranman59 11:11 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 6:01, 6:50, 0.88, 7%, Easy (9th highest median solve time of 133 Monday puzzles)
Tue 8:16, 8:52, 0.93, 37%, Easy-Medium
Wed 11:27, 11:50, 0.97, 44%, Medium
Thu no data
Fri 15:03, 25:20, 0.59, 1%, (Very) Easy (2nd lowest median solve time of 134 Friday puzzles)
Sat 32:05, 29:55, 1.07, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:18, 3:40, 0.90, 9%, Easy
Tue 4:21, 4:34, 0.95, 40%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:59, 5:52, 1.02, 61%, Medium-Challenging
Thu no data
Fri 7:44, 12:33, 0.62, 2%, (Very) Easy (3rd lowest median solve time of 133 Friday puzzles)
Sat 17:55, 17:03, 1.05, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Deb 11:21 PM  

Dammit! Okay, EVIL Doug, shoot me your email address and I'll get you that pizza.

Throwing that challenge out to this group probably wasn't the brightest idea I've ever had.

fergus 11:37 PM  

BOLINAS didn't fit, and the I grew incensed. The original story was down around Monterey, yet Hitchcock's film was up in Marin or even Sonoma, where lies BODEGA BAY. Sometimes knowing too much geography can be an impediment. Alfred chose a little castle above Santa Cruz, which now I realize as a well-considered choice.

Acme 11:38 PM  

Correction...it is Bolinas that hides its signs from tourists, not BODEGABAY

@deb
I'll take pepperoni

@ joho
Welcome home, I'll try to get to the bottom of this two-timer, of course

Ulrich 11:40 PM  

@Tita: This is probably too late for you or anyone else to see--anyway. When I first came to the US in 69, I started out in some sort of commune in Cambridge, MA. One of us, Dwayne, was a Vietnam vet who slept with assorted guns under his bed, which scared the shit out of us hippie types. Anyway, he had a US Army survivor manual, which he shared with us. The sentence that I remember most vividly was, in bold face, ALL MAMMALS ARE EDIBLE! So, your Metzger shouldn't have been too surprised!

BTW "Hund" just means dog. as Mathew G said; a hound would be a "Jagdhund" (hunting dog).

fergus 11:44 PM  

@ ghost of electricty -- you are now my favorite commmenter. And not just from the Dylan allusion.

fergus 11:55 PM  

Andrea -- in complete concurrence on TIME duplication.

fergus 12:09 AM  

@sfman -- other French interpreters may have pther takes on this, but I think a translation of

(Pour se jouer 840 fois de suite ce motif, il sera bon de se préparer au préalable, et dans le plus grand silence, par des immobilités sérieuses)


By keeping quiet, it may be better to just sit and listen.
That's how I see the message.

Anonymous 12:27 AM  

@Deb - Hold off on the pizza. Just because the name of the Pizza Shop is "Stone Oven Pizza" doesn't mean they have an oven actually made of stones.

It seems there are places where brick ovens can be referred to as stone ovens. There's even a manufacturer with a brand name of "Stone Pizza Oven" which has never seen a stone, it's made of cast concrete or cement.

Until you get photographic evidence of real live rocks making up the oven, keep your coupon for Domino's in your pocket.


@Evil - Pilots may tend to attract the Santini types, but it certainly isn't a requirement. I was a pilot (single engine, daytime, sunny skies, had to have my mommy nearby, but still a pilot) and I am as un-Santini as they come. If you're talking military, my cousin was a helicopter pilot, three tours in Nam, gun-ships, insertion and extraction, almost daily fights. He was the kindest, sweetest man I've ever met, as his wife and kids would agree.

Tita 2:22 AM  

@Ulrich...Scary...! Given that context, let me quickly explain that he was trying to order Hanchenbrust ( give or take an umlaut)...
Chicken breasts, not puppy breasts!

Deb 7:27 AM  

I'm now pushing my luck on the three post limit, but I just had to acknowledge you, Anon 12:12, for pointing out the legal fine points in my bet. And also to say I really like you. (The "had to have my mommy nearby" did it. :)

Spacecraft 3:31 PM  

Finished, with a couple of Googles. Even so,it was pretty tough; I came close to DNF in the SE. Surprised Rex ranted more about the double-time thing than the partial ACTOF. Are we not supposed to hate those any more? Soory, folks, I'm a little behind on the acceptance curve for that one.
How clearly I remember seeing "The Birds" for the first time. Though audiences in those TIMES were much more quiet and reserved than they are now, I can still hear that low voice very clearly as "The End" appeared on the screen:
"Alfred, you son of a bitch."
Yes, it was my voice. I didn't even realize I was speaking aloud. I was still a teenager.

Larry 12:08 PM  

SAULT and AEDES were the new ones for me. CAMEO RING was the last thing I got, and I nodded approvingly.

The UTAH STATE detour held me up the longest, although it did take me several seconds to fill in B_LT_N. Not because I didn't get it straight away; I just didn't want to see that name in print, especially in my own hand.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

Challenging? Good. Because I sailed through the NW and SE. Got stuck in SW for a while until CIGAR ASH came to me. But I got destroyed in the NE.

I could see LIPITOR but after running the alphabet decided not to give up TRACES at 23d. (Must. Improve. Vocabulary.)

I also spent a lot of time on 36a working with just
W _ _ _ ED, but I never saw WEDGED. I instead decided it must be WELLED so that I could get finger relief from CASTOR OIL. Pfizer drug became LABOTOR (I won't even speculate what that would be for), and while the rest of you were enjoying a SPY NOVEL I was at what I guessed must be a Monty Python coffee shop chowing down on a SPAM TORT (never mind that final E).

Also thought CDC was in Maryland so I never considered EMORY. And for all I know "The Great Santori" was written by Izzy COIROT.

On to Sunday.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP