Onetime Wisconsin-based insurance giant / MON 5-14-12 / Line of Canon cameras / Tolkien's talking tree race / Impatiently endure time passing

Monday, May 14, 2012

Constructor: John Dunn

Relative difficulty: Medium


THEME: SYNS. (70A: Roget offerins (abbr.) ... or, loosely, the firsta nd last words of 20-, 28-, 48-- and 56-Across) — "[verb] THE [noun]" phrases where, yes, the verb and noun (when one of the two is converted from verb to noun or vice versa) are, loosely, SYNonymS

Word of the Day: WAUSAU (48D: Onetime Wisconsin-based insurance giant) —
[Near as I can tell, an insurance co. that was bought by Liberty Mutual in 1999, and then retired as a brand in 2009: "Wausau, founded in Wausau, Wis., in 1911, was one of the earliest writers of workers comp coverage. It adopted a train depot as its logo in 1954 and built a brand that became widely recognized over the next 50 years." (Business Insurance)]
• • •

Not a big fan of this one, first because the reveal is so weak (an abbrev. is never a great payoff), and second because it just wasn't interesting. Yes, I can imagine scenarios wherein the first and last words mean the same thing. In the case of WASH THE LAUNDRY, I really don't have to go very far to make them match up. I mean, imagining those words as SYNS. doesn't even require me to think outside the laundry room. The theme "works" just fine, but it's dull. Fill is mostly very solid, with a nice handful of long answers (except SUCH THAT (5D: So), which is a perfectly adequate phrase ... just not "nice"). I had several early missteps in this puzzle—way more writeovers than I normally have in a Monday puzzle. Right away, with 1A: Money owed (DEBT), I was off my game. Got DVD at 1D and then thought, re: 1A,  "... DUES?" Crosses, cleared this up quickly, as they generally will on Monday, but I went on to make several more wrong initial guesses in quick succession: DELAY for DETER (14D: Hinder); AMP for ADO (23A: Hoopla) (this is only because I had yet another misguess in place—BLOW PAST for BLOW OVER (3D: Pass without effect, as a storm); and DITZ for SIMP (5A: Lamebrain). So the puzzle wasn't hard, so much as it was (in parts, to my brain) vague. At least at first. Once I got out of the N / NW, except for a brief EOS / IOS dust-up (55A: Line of Canon cameras), I flew pretty quickly around the grid, stopping only at the end, in the SW, where WAUSAU was a complete mystery to me. There's something interesting about the relative symmetry of the OVER in BLOW OVER and the UNDER in UNDERWAY. Also, I enjoy TALL ONES (38D: Some brewskis). Other than that, this one's already fading in my rearview.



Theme answers:
  • 20A: Impatiently endure passing time (WATCH THE CLOCK) — I'd've gone with PUNCH THE CLOCK
  • 28A: Win by enough points, in sports gambling (COVER THE SPREAD)
  • 48A: Perform a routine household chore (WASH THE LAUNDRY)
  • 56A: Pass through a crisis safely (TURN THE CORNER)


First thought for 30D: Have a nontraditional marriage, in a way (ELOPE) was BE GAY (hey, it fits). That wayward thought was about the most entertaining part of the solve. This is perfectly acceptable work. But it's not gonna stick.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS if you are not a Sunday-puzzle type of person, you probably missed my announcement yesterday that I was featured on the CBS Evening News on Sat. night. You can view the clip here.

PPS—Attention: Constructors (and Would-Be Constructors) Under 30 — Ben Tausig will be editing a collection of crosswords called "Twenty Under Thirty"; crosswords will be selected by a panel that includes me. The selection process will be blind. Here is the official press release.


About "Twenty Under Thirty" 
"Twenty Under Thirty" will be a standalone app featuring crosswords by twenty of the top young puzzle constructors in the world. Submission is open to anyone under thirty years of age, regardless of where she or he has published work in the past. Payment for selected entries will be $250--more than any newspaper daily in the United States--and participants will be featured prominently in announcements and marketing campaigns for the app. We want selection to feel like the honor that it is, and hope also to help young constructors make a name for themselves. Although the judging process will be blind, "Twenty Under Thirty" encourages submissions from groups underrepresented in puzzlemaking, including women and people of color.
Selections will be judged by a panel of experts, including New York Times regulars Elizabeth Gorski and Brendan Emmett Quigley, and blogger Michael Sharp (aka Rex Parker at rexwordpuzzle.blogspot.com). The winning puzzles will be edited by Onion A.V. Club and Ink Well xwords editor Ben Tausig, and the app will be produced by crossword app maker CRUX for iPhone and iPad.

Submission Instructions
-Entry is limited to one puzzle per constructor. Completed, clued puzzles should be emailed to twentyunderthirty@gmail.com by midnight, June 20, 2012. 

-IMPORTANT: In order for the judging to be blind, please make the file name of your submission (whether it is a .ccw, .puz, .doc, .pdf, etc) a random string of ten numbers and remove all indication of your own name from the puzzle and file information. You may submit from your personal email account, but I don't want any way of knowing that your puzzle is linked to you. If you have questions that might reveal your theme, simply email me from an anonymous (or a friend's) address.

-All submissions must be wholly original, and neither I nor the panelists can know that they are yours. (i.e., if you've workshopped an idea with Brendan, then come up with a different idea).

-We are looking for work in the range of Tuesday-Friday New York Times difficulty. Both themed and themeless puzzles will be considered, and judged within the same pool. It's up to you to decide which type best reflects your talents. Since we expect to receive upward of 40 puzzles for 20 spots, plan to submit your very best stuff. Genre-bending themes are strongly encouraged; feel free to extend grids and to do things that aren't seen every day. (The app can accommodate special grids and gimmicks). Add-a-letter and three-of-a-kind themes are very unlikely to be chosen unless they feature a truly excellent twist. Amaze us.

-In general, puzzles should be 15x15, but we will also accept 16x15, 15x16, and 16x16 sizes.

-Puzzles should conform to the usual high standards of construction--avoid excessive black squares, have no more than 78 words, stay away from lousy entries such as long partials and pluralized names, and try to weed out repetition in the grid. You know the drill. 

-Aim to submit work that feels fresh. No specific bad words or references are off-limits, but you'll get a lot more credit for cluing PUBES as "Strands below?" than dropping in QUEEF because you feel like it. Likewise, include literature, film, music, food, and sex content that skews young, but be sure to keep it clever, not just edgy.

-Crossword Compiler or Across Lite files are preferred, but any other reasonable format is acceptable. As long as we can see the completed grid with numbers and the corresponding clues, you're in good shape.

Good luck!
Ben

77 comments:

jae 12:21 AM  

Medium for me too, but a different take on this one than Rex.   Really liked the looseness of the theme.  Made me smile.  Plus a very smooth grid. Nice Mon.!

Gill I. P. 12:27 AM  

Well, I "Do" the laundry. "WASH" the laundry just sounds wrong.
I remember WAUSAU from very strange commercials that nobody could pronounce.
I liked HUEVOS and that's about it.

foodie 12:29 AM  

For whatever reason, I missed the reveal and so stared at the finished puzzle thinking: What's the theme? Blank THE Blank? Glad this wasn't an IQ test... I wondered why some of the phrases sounded slightly off...like WASH THE LAUNDRY is ok, but Do the LAUNDRY sounds more common, since you do more than WASH... Dry, fold, etc..

I too did not come up with DEBT right off.. LOAN was by first guess. Still, I found it Easy-Medium.

SIMP 1:02 AM  

I don't find it that easy to think of blank-the-blank phrases where the first and last words mean the same thing.

I liked the payoff.

Anonymous 1:38 AM  

so so Monday. Nothing remarkable. Did the puzzle while watching the finale of "Survivor"
That's a good show.

santafefran 2:05 AM  

No ZEAL for this puzzle. I am in the "do" the laundry camp but did like BLOWOVER. With summer on the way, I don't like seeing SLUGS in my flower garden.

chefwen 2:39 AM  

Hey, it's Monday. Super easy, no write-overs, but then again, I don't move as quickly as Rex. I also "do the wash" WASH THE LAUNDRY just doesn't sound right.

@Anon 1:38 Thanks for not spoiling things, I'm recording it now, as I type.

Anoa Bob 3:30 AM  

TURN and CORNER (56A) don't strike me as synonyms. Some overlap Venn diagram-wise, but not enough for them to be synonymous, i.e., identical or nearly identical in meaning.

Bartended for a couple of years and am a beer drinker but don't recall them being referred to as TALL ONES (38D). I've heard the 16 oz. beer can referred to as a TALL boy.

Kind of expected 51D ULNAS to be ULNAe after seeing its clue spelled "radii" instead of "radiuses".

John V 6:15 AM  

From the tarmac. Super easy, well under 5 on paper. Unremarkable.

35th segment this year. Bleh.

orangeblossomspecial 7:35 AM  

I had the same issue with ULNAS as did @Anoa Bob; the clue calls for ULNAe.

@Rex, we 'punched' the clock when we clocked in for work. The time clock punched a time stamp on our time card.

The Beach Boys' "Barbara ANN" (63D) was a hit when it came out, although I believe it was originally recorded by someone else.

An alternative 43A MOE is in Spike Jones' "My old flame".

65A reminds me of "Cruising down the river", a hit from the late 40s.

Z 7:44 AM  

I like this more than most, it seems. The three letter fill is RRN and RCD free, always a plus. SSTS always seems a little like cheating to me, but Mr. Dunn does a nice job of minimizing the dreck.

I also like the theme. I do the WASH, but WASH THE LAUNDRY sounds okay to my ear. The other three theme answers are very much in the language. As to @Anoa Bob's complaint, my car TURNs - my car CORNERs, definitely synonyms in that usage.

Watching that EC video, one can see the sins of 80's overproduction emerging. Punch the Clock is still very listenable, but Goodbye Cruel World is not. Elvis Costello atoned by releasing King of America and Blood and Chocolate.

loren muse smith 7:54 AM  

I found this a little harder than the usual Monday,too. Since I’ve tried my hand at constructing, I see the theme and theme entries in a new light and am always impressed that people can come up with fresh ideas and find entries with the requisite letter counts. Unlike Rex, I’ll remember this one for a while, and, as usual with themes that stand out for me, I’ll shamelessly see if I can somehow take the idea, tweak it a bit, and come up with one of my own – maybe opposites? Hey, they say imitation is the highest form of flattery! I have yet to come even close to being successful. “Reserve a book?” Nah.

Two comments – I appreciated RAFT crossing ADRIFT, but like @Anoa Bob and @orangeblossomspecial, I would have preferred “radiuses” to “radii.”

Barbara ANN always makes me smile. Once summer I briefly worked in a salmon cannery and would sing that at the top of my lungs. Mercifully, no one could hear because the equipment was so loud.

Off to start WASHing THE LAUNDRY. I didn’t even question that until reading the comments.

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

Didn't like "elope" and "ulnas" for same reason as others. Didn't care for "icu" for post-op area - I want to wake up in the recovery room. Theme okay but puzzle flat, no fizzle.

dk 8:11 AM  

Nice and easy Monday. No write overs, no muss, no fuss. Sometimes a puzzle is just a puzzle. And, Monday is the traditional laundry day.

*** (3 stars) MOE and ENYA on the same bill. Who'd a thunk it.

Sue McC 8:13 AM  

Not my favorite Monday. Easy enough, but unsatisfying theme, and while doing the puzzle I found myself feeling like there was an over abundance of 3 and 4 letter words. Though once done, it doesn't appear that's the case...but it just felt like they went on and on...Perhaps because of the two rows of 4 3 letter words. I'm just glad it's over. On to the next one.

evil doug 8:19 AM  

Sure glad they clarified which Ringo they were looking for. Smith? Jones? Obama?

Evil

jackj 8:46 AM  

With new puzzles appearing daily in many venues and themes that seem overly familiar no matter how well executed, it is serendipity on steroids when something new under the sun appears as a crossword theme.

John Dunn, who most recently shared credit with Judge Vic on a memorial Titanic puzzle, takes sole credit for today’s extra special construction that takes four three word expressions we all have probably used before, sprinkles a bit of fairy dust on them to change verbs into nouns and shows us that the beginning and ending words of the theme phrases are actually synonyms in each instance.

Dunn’s conceit has a charming, light-hearted feel to it, as if we are being ordered by “Alice in Wonderland’s” Mad Hatter to “Change places! Change places!”

Not content with a clever theme, the fill is special as well, particularly the long verticals like BLOWOVER, SUCHTHAT and TALLONES and others like the improbable insurance company, WAUSAU, that also sounds vaguely like a foodie’s ethnic treat, rivaling the puzzles HUEVOS, (WAUSAU Rancheros, maybe?).

Just a gem on all counts; wonderful, John Dunn!

jberg 8:47 AM  

I'd never WASH THE LAUNDRY, and for me a TALL ONE is something like a gin and tonic. I wanted coLd ONE for 38D.My real trouble in this puzzle, though, is that I kept reading the wrong clues - so I wrote in PAL (45A) instead of LIL at 54A, e.g. Thus I ended up with lots of writeovers.

As for @Anoa Bob's Venn diagrams, the revealer does say "loosely." I guess that makes it OK, although certainly we'd all prefer some tightness instead.

joho 8:47 AM  

An easy and straightforward Monday puzzle, a good one to offer to newbies I would think as the theme is simple, the fill is solid. I do have to agree with @Rex, though, having the reveal as an abbreviation is weak.

@M & A, 8 U's!

EAT EMU leaped out at me. I

cheeseguy 8:59 AM  

Very easy here, even for Monday. I felt the puzzle was ruined by the revealer being an abbreviation. Not sure why, just seemed anti-climactic.

wordie 9:04 AM  

How about WEATHER THE STORM?

Tobias Duncan 9:08 AM  

I knew WAUSAU because they used to underwrite Wall Street Week on PBS with Louis Rukeyser when I was a very dorky child.

Hand up for TALLboy

GYRO - how do you pronounce it? I would argue that since we already have the word Gyro in English and it has the same root as the Greek word, we should use the English pronunciation and say jy-row

chefbea 9:10 AM  

Thought it was a great puzzle. Had ulnae at first. Figured Wausau would be WOD.

One of the older ladies that I use to help back in Ct. use to say, "I have to go do the wash"

Tita 9:20 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tita 9:22 AM  

While the first 3 "Verb-the-Noun" themes have the first Verb morph into a Noun, the last one requires the last last Noun to become a Verb.

As verbs, as @Z said already, they are in fact synonyms.

I liked this fine, thought it was a tad on the tough side for Monday.

quilter1 9:25 AM  

So busy yesterday I could not finish doing THE LAUNDRY, so have to do it today.
Easy, easy puzzle. I liked BLOWOVER, UNDERWAY, and RAFT crossing ADRIFT. Didn't like SUCH THAT so much. I'm trying to imagine saying/hearing that in conversation. Great conversation at Mother's Day lunch yesterday, from hummingbird moths (a great puzzle answer) to tuna fishing to The Avengers.

quilter1 9:31 AM  

Just watched the clip. Nice that the reporter is a puzzler who gets it.

archaeoprof 9:39 AM  

I'll be humming "Barbara ANN" all day long.

Have you heard the Republican version of that song? It goes, "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran."

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Am hoping someone can explain an answer from the Sat puzzle to me. 37A Face-topping figure = XII. I got it from the crosses, but still don't 'get' it.

cheers, deion

Tobias Duncan 10:17 AM  

Anon 10:15
The XII is the number 12 at the top of a clock face.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:20 AM  

I liked it. Monday-easy, of course, but after getting the first theme answer I was accurately anticipating the form of the others. I thought the reveal was, if anything, superfluous.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

doh [palm smacking forhead]! thank-you, tobias.

- deion

hazel 10:42 AM  

A cream puff to solve - although for me, coming up with those synonym phrases to put in a puzzle would have been next to impossible. I tried @Loren's challenge of antonym phrases, and was immediately humbled. My brain just doesn't think that way, i suppose.

@jax/Rex From y'day - glad to see that @PG is alive and well and still puzzling - I miss her comments!!

I do laundry on Mondays.

Matthew G. 10:44 AM  

Medium-challenging (for a Monday) here. Theme didn't really click for me. I agree with Rex about the reveal, and I also don't really regard a WATCH as a CLOCK. In my brain, at least, a CLOCK is a freestanding timepiece and a WATCH is a worn timepiece, and a WATCH is not a CLOCK and a CLOCK is not a WATCH. Maybe that's just me. But I mean, you can use the other three theme pairs interchangeably, right, but you would never point at someone's WATCH and say, "What's your CLOCK say?" So as Rex says, the theme pairs run from TOO synonymous (WASH and LAUNDRY) to not really genuinely synonymous (WATCH and CLOCK).

TheRealJohnDonne 10:49 AM  

"Buildings stand by the benefit of their foundations that sustain and support them, and of their buttresses that comprehend and embrace them, and of their contignations that knit and unite them. "

Well done, Dunn. You make me proud.

disgruntled orthopaedist 10:51 AM  

Me agree with Rex? Yep, weak reveal with an abbr. and such a lame theme and unifier. But wait! There is so much more. There is so much dross for a Monday which I expect to be clean and beautiful as it is such a crip for a constructor and the glorious New York Times - self-proclaimed Greatest Newspaper.

Small nit GYROS is a meat, PITA makes it a sandwich; one must go to the Parthenon in Chicago to see just what heights Gyros Meat (a combo of Lamb and beef with spices) gas flame roasted on a spit, can reach - a far cry from the garbage that generally passes for gyro meat.

Final line
RUTS SSTS SYNS
shows laziness unforgivable for a Monday

BLOWOVER and TALLONES are putrid

Medical:

ICU is a very small part of "post op area" unless you went in sick as a dog and/or dying, some surgeon did NOT do his/her homework or someone really screwed up. PACU is a post op area, you go to ICU direct maybe 1 in 100 times.

RADII (lat. pl.) implies ULNAE not ULNAS. RADII & ULNAE, RADIUSES & ULNAS, cross-over is affectatious and not Monday clean.

tsk, tsk erudite NYT my double posterior hip girdle

-signed disgruntled orthopaedist

p.s. easy but tedious and devoid of fun with all the affectations

Masked and Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Can we have a puz construction contest that encourages old farts, too?

Man, I'm not sure what more I could ask, from a MonPuz. Even put up a bit of a fight. Gotta go thUmbsUp.

@joho: U have counted well.

efrex 11:47 AM  

I'm firmly in Z's camp with this one. Nice enough theme, and a minimum of gunk fill. WAUSAU is a bit out-there for Monday, but really can't complain about anything else. Crack open a TALLONE, Mr. Dunn - you've earned it!

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

You know what's affectatios? Using the term affectatious without knowing what it means.

Sparky 11:54 AM  

Medium for me. Like others wanted ULNAe at first. Had COVERonEsSPREAD (eyes playing tricks on me). Thought CATS but didn't write it in on the first swipe.

@quilter1. Good point re Tony Guida. He knows puzzles.

@d.o.s. I go into a Greek place and ask for a gyro. It's even on the menu board.

Let's have a good week.

Tita 11:54 AM  

@MatthewG - never seen Casablanca??
The German couple practicing English with each other at Rick's, prepping for their imminent departure for America...
He: Which watch is it? She: 10 watch. He: Such watch??

In Germany, watch, clock, and time are the same word...at least in terms of how you ask what time it is...their direct translation of the German idiom provides a moment of levity.
(btw - my paraphrasing is certainly not precise...)

To me, watch and clock are close enough to work well in this theme, even in English!

Sparky 11:58 AM  

It was my understanding that a tallone (not a tallboy) is a beer in a bottle with a tall neck. I don't drink much beer and, certainly, not from a bottle. Tsk, tsk. I'm far to prissy for that.

Sparky 11:59 AM  

Too

DBGeezer 12:02 PM  

Thanks for the tip to the CBS news. Your students, both day and night, are fortunate.
David +

mac 12:42 PM  

Medium for me too, because of Wausau. Not bad for a Monday at all.

I once had a gyro on the corner of 5th Avenue and 57th St. It was delicious!

Maybe I'm a robot, I'm having more problems reading these half printed letters!

Mike 12:55 PM  

I had a fast time on this one. Wash the Laundry was the one awkward one.

Seabee pete 1:08 PM  

So I'm new to this blog but I enjoy Rex's take on the puzzles and all the posted comments. However, I note that no one ever posts *their* time in solving the puzz - other than to say things like faster or slower or average, etc. Is this some unwritten rule of puzzle etiquette? Competition against yourself is one thing, but how do you know how you stack up against the larger world of solvers without entering an actual competition?

Lewis 1:20 PM  

I liked this theme -- sure the concept is simple, but I at least haven't found it easy to come up with relatively common phrases in which you have a pair of synonyms, divided by THE, the first used as a verb and the second as a noun. A couple of clues/answers, such as 5D, are harder than the Monday norm. The whole puzzle felt solid to me. It seems like the main complaints today are very picky.

@evil -- made me laugh out loud

Bird 1:35 PM  

Easy, with two nits: 1) we DO the LAUNDRY and DO the WASH. 2) Either TALL BOY or COLD ONE. Not TALL ONE.

I couldn’t think of an answer for 1A until I got 1D & 2D. Smooth sailing thereafter. I like the location symmetry between BLOW OVER and UNDER WAY.

Re ULNAE / ULNAS: I thought it would be ULNAE, but I saw “neighbors” in the clue so I wrote in ULNAS.

Technically GYRO is the meat, but if you walk into a Greek Deli and order a Gyro they understand that you asking for a “Gyro Sandwich”. However, on the menu they also have “Gyro Over Greek Salad” (sliced meat on top of the salad) and “Gyro Plate” (sliced meat on a plate with sides, including sliced pita).

Anyway, a good start to the week. Thank you Mr. Dunn.

Cheers!

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

@ Seabee Pete - We're not completing with each other here. Besides, time is relative to how you solve: on paper or on-line, are you a speed-solver or out for a leisurely stroll, etc. And when we say Easy or Medium or Hard, it's also relative to our skill level and the day of the week.

Bird 1:45 PM  

PS. Next to the puzzle in the paper is an ad for Jeopardy!. The contestants are Superstars of Smart (Chris Matthews, Lizzie O’Leary and Robert Gibbs) and there will be a Crossword Clues “E” category tonight. The tagline is, “They know how to get the answers. But can they come up with the questions and win for their favorite charities?”

Masked and Anonymous 2:05 PM  

@Tony Guida, CBS News: Thanx for the TV-shout out to @31.

Who's standing in the doorway in the vid? They had a near-national appearance, from the neck down.

andrea the acme 2:25 PM  

Wasalso thrown off by WASHTHELAUNDRY, but once i saw the reveal and went back thought it was great! Really nice, original idea, and to have one stretch that wasn't even a stretch for @loren forgives all!!!

Plus it has prompted peoples own ideas which is fantastic and evoked that charming Casablanca moment!!! Thanks, @Tita! I often say "whatwatch? Such much?" as a joke!!!! casablanca is my favoritefilm ever, because every singleline in theentiremovie is quotable, plus such a great story, phenomenal acting from the leads down to folkswithbut oneor two lines!!!

Admittedly I thought WAUSAU stuck out like a sorethumb and I didn't get TURN = CORNER and I missed thereveal and had to go looking forit (luckily I missed EOS too) but oncei did i felt happy and excited!!!

Could not parse TALLONES, i thought it mightbe thename of a beer with Eagle's talons as a logo, in Spanish!!! That's how far my mind went to make it make sense!

You know what else I loved about this? That altho the Ringo cluehad TMI, i loved learning something fresh, like ENYA is from Donegal and all Shakespearean plays had five ACTS.

SO OVERALL,BIG THUMBS UP, MORE IN HINDSIGHT THAN WHILE SOLVING... Oops, accidental caps.

As for theunder30contest, mixed feelings...i love to mentor encourage, champion the younger folks, but i have to admit to feeling more and more marginalized as the days go by...tho am happy that the payscale is creeping up, but if they really wanted to bring it into this century, I'd have at least doubled it, and really shown the new wave What's what!
And why exclude Monday themes, once again subtly dissing/ not reinforcing that Mondays are an art. :(

Campesite 2:52 PM  

Happy Monday Puzzle People,
Just wanted to chime in about the wonderful LA CPT this last Saturday. I highly encourage anybody who has the slightest interest in crossword puzzles to attend a tournament if at all possible, just a delightful day.
I met some absolutely wonderful people including Jax in LA as well as one of my puzzle idols Andrea Carla Michaels.
Cheers,
Mark

Martin 2:55 PM  

Foodie's early comment ("since you do more than WASH... Dry, fold, etc..") is exactly why the entry sounds fine to me. Does "dry the laundry" or "iron the laundry" or "fold the laundry" sound wrong? So why does the first step: "wash the laundry"?

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

For Tita and Acme...

CARL, the waiter, is a fat, jovial German refugee with spectacles.
Carl, bottle in hand, approaches the table of a middle-aged

German couple, the LEUCHTAGS.

CARL(in German): I brought you the finest brandy. Only the employees drink it here.

He pours a drink for each of them.

MR. LEUCHTAG: Thank you, Carl.
CARL(as he pours): For Mrs. Leuchtag.
MRS. LEUCHTAG: Thank you, Carl.
CARL: For Mr. Leuchtag.
MR. LEUCHTAG: Carl, sit down. Have a brandy with us.
MRS. LEUCHTAG(beaming with happiness):
To celebrate our leaving for America tomorrow.

Carl sits down.
CARL: Thank you very much. I thought you would ask me, so I brought the good brandy and a third glass.

He produces a glass from a back pocket.
MRS. LEUCHTAG: At last the day has came.
MR. LEUCHTAG: Frau Leuchtag and I are speaking nothing but English now.
MRS. LEUCHTAG: So we should feel at home ven ve get to America.
CARL: A very nice idea.
MR. LEUCHTAG (raising his glass):
To America.

Mrs. Leuchtag and Carl repeat "To America." They clink glasses and drink.
MR. LEUCHTAG: Liebchen, uh, sweetness heart, what watch?

She glances at her wristwatch.
MRS. LEUCHTAG: Ten watch.
MR. LEUCHTAG(surprised): Such much?
CARL: Er, you will get along beautifully in America, huh.

PS: I liked the puzzle....

JFC

Anonymous 3:21 PM  

PPS. I forgot to add that Casablanca is my favorite movie....

JFC

Bobby Brady 3:55 PM  

I did my best to imitate Humphrey Bogart: Porkchopsh and appleshauce. That's shwell ma, real shwell.

Rick 4:12 PM  

@JFC - If it is 1942 in Casablanca, what time is it in New York?

So much typing! Why not go directly to the source?

sanfranman59 4:48 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Mon 6:46, 6:50, 0.99, 53%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:50, 3:40, 1.04, 74%, Medium-Challenging

Masked and Anonymous last silver salvo 5:07 PM  

Fave "Casablanca" line (by Louie): "Major Strasser's been shot! [suspenseful pause to let Rick, who just plugged the Nazi, stew] Round up the usual suspects."

@Andrea Darlin' -- Not to fret. I just held my own constructor contest, and declared U the winner. And I rounded up all the unusual suspects.

Kevin Spacey 5:15 PM  

Usual Suspects = great movie, but I digress.

Today's puzzle is a nice, smooth Monday offering with very little to complain about. Keep them coming John.

Tita 5:53 PM  

@JFC & Rick - thanks! So I've been hearing it wrong...I always thought the retort was "Such watch?!"

Anonymous 8:05 PM  

Yes, Rick, a picture is worth a 1000 words and a video is priceless, but I believe Ilsa called you Richard in Paris and Sam always called you Richard.

Yes, Acme, everything you said about the movie but I also had a crush on Ingrid (maybe you too) and a man-crush on Bogie when they had that close-up on him when he was drunk after seeing Ilsa come into his gin joint.

BTW Conrad Veidt who played Maj. Strasser left Germany and was a strong anti Nazi.

And what's not to like about Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet and Claude (The invisible Man/Mr. Snith's antagonist in Washington) Rains.

And what music for a non-musical?!

Just remember the fat man in the corner....

JFC

Anonymous 8:06 PM  

Yes, Rick, a picture is worth a 1000 words and a video is priceless, but I believe Ilsa called you Richard in Paris and Sam always called you Richard.

Yes, Acme, everything you said about the movie but I also had a crush on Ingrid (maybe you too) and a man-crush on Bogie when they had that close-up on him when he was drunk after seeing Ilsa come into his gin joint.

BTW Conrad Veidt who played Maj. Strasser left Germany and was a strong anti Nazi.

And what's not to like about Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet and Claude (The invisible Man/Mr. Snith's antagonist in Washington) Rains.

And what music for a non-musical?!

Just remember the fat man in the corner....

JFC

Anonymous 8:06 PM  

Yes, Rick, a picture is worth a 1000 words and a video is priceless, but I believe Ilsa called you Richard in Paris and Sam always called you Richard.

Yes, Acme, everything you said about the movie but I also had a crush on Ingrid (maybe you too) and a man-crush on Bogie when they had that close-up on him when he was drunk after seeing Ilsa come into his gin joint.

BTW Conrad Veidt who played Maj. Strasser left Germany and was a strong anti Nazi.

And what's not to like about Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet and Claude (The invisible Man/Mr. Snith's antagonist in Washington) Rains.

And what music for a non-musical?!

Just remember the fat man in the corner....

JFC

Anonymous 8:17 PM  

Sorry to violate TAO, but Acme, I think it's great that a Harvard grad and a Hillbilly can name the same movie as their all-time favorite. BTW, you are not being marginalized. You are improving with age as fine wine and masters' art. Here's looking at you, kid....

JFC

ArtLvr 9:27 PM  

Fascinating story about the casting for the film Casablanca -- they employed as many actors who had escaped from Hitler's Reich as they possibly could, and if their English wasn't good enough for a speaking part they were used as the extras in the crowd scenes, even singing the Marseillaise in French...

sanfranman59 10:01 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 6:49, 6:50, 1.00, 54%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:40, 1.04, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Acme 3:31 AM  

@rick 4:12pm
SWEETNESSHEART! Ha! Thank you!

rain forest 1:03 PM  

Just wondering if ersatz dialogue from Casablanca makes for interesting posts in the blog.

As for laundry, I don't "do" it all in one swell foop; first I wash the laundry, then I dry the laundry, then I fold the laundry. It's just my way.

The puzzle has got the week off to an auspicious start. Excellent in many ways, and I won't forget it for a long time...

Solving in Seattle 1:22 PM  

Who could have guessed in advance that the simple comment by @Mathew G that a WATCH and a CLOCK are not synonymous would lead to wallowing in the memory of Casablanca. Amazing where these posts lead.

Also had ULNAe for the same reason.

Had RoTe for "monotonous routines." RUTS is a bit iffy to me.

@SiS HUEVOS award of the day to @Disgruntled Orthpaedist 10:51 for calling 'em as he sees 'em.

Dirigonzo 3:19 PM  

Since I solve at a pace that can best be called "leisurely" speed bumps are not a problem for me but if they were, today mine would have been the same as Rex recited.

ULNAe - definitely!

Never, ever heard the word(?) SIMP.

Misread the clue at 17a as Pointless plane - same answer.

Also had RoTe a la @SIS, and do the laundry is stages a la @Rain Forest.

A nice start to the week.

Texas Solver 4:25 PM  

For an almost newbie I was very surprised to see this rated as Medium by @Rex. This was one of my fastest times, no errors, no write overs, no googles. It was smooth sailing. DEBT fell into place immediately, on down to TALL ONES which I had no argument with; a tall icy glass of beer sounds good to me! And RUTS was my first thought.

I hope I can do as well the rest of the week!!

Spacecraft 9:16 PM  

No probs here; easy peasy Monday. I liked this one; it points out another of the many vagaries of this wonderful language of ours. Four common phrases (yes, WASH the laundry is admittedly less natural than DO..., but even "so") in which we could repeat the same word, if we wanted to.

I agree with @masked and anon. that if you run a construction contest for young'uns why not one for us oldies-but-goodies, too?

I see the ending-disagreement problem with 51d, but it could be solved very simply by cluing it "Armbones." End of that story.

Good junkless fill, with the extra plus of CATS in their LAIR in symmetrical position. Thumbs up.

Ginger 9:32 PM  

Smooth sailing today, and I needed it after struggling with the Saturday puzzle last night. (Gone for the weekend, so did it, or tried to, on returning home.)

I liked this one. I found it lively and interesting, notably PREEMPT (Bridge anyone?) WAUSAU, and ADRIFT. Time for a couple of TALLONES, and yes, I think beer tastes better from a bottle.

Mark M 2:03 PM  

I liked COVERTHESPREAD. It's really the only theme answer where both words means the something different as synonyms than they do in the phrase.

Also liked Evil Doug's comment and was thinking the same thing. Oh, that Ringo!

Maybe it's a geographical thing, but I have heard TALLONE much more than tall boy.

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