Salsa singer Cruz / 1-1-13 / Rickover known as Father of Nuclear Navy / Knit fabric in lingerie swimwear / Comment from kvetcher / Jetsam locale / Role for diminutive Verne Troyer in Austin Powers films / Dacha villa

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Constructor: John Farmer

Relative difficulty: Medium



THEME: 150th anniversary of the signing of the EMANCIPATION / PROCLAMATION by ABRAHAM / LINCOLN, which brought about the ABOLITION / OF SLAVERY in the U.S.

Word of the Day: HYMAN Rickover (68A: Rickover known as the Father of the Nuclear Navy) —

Hyman George Rickover (January 27, 1900 – July 8, 1986) was a four-star admiral of the United States Navy who directed the original development of naval nuclear propulsion and controlled its operations for three decades as director of Naval Reactors. In addition, he oversaw the development of the Shippingport Atomic Power Station, the world's first commercial pressurized water reactor used for generating electricity.
Rickover is known as the "Father of the Nuclear Navy", which as of July 2007 had produced 200 nuclear-powered submarines, and 23 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and cruisers, though many of these U.S. vessels are now decommissioned and others under construction.
On 16 November 1973 Rickover was promoted to four-star admiral after 51 years of commissioned service. With his unique personality, political connections, responsibilities, and depth of knowledge regarding naval nuclear propulsion, Rickover became the longest-serving naval officer in U.S. history with 63 years active duty.
Rickover's substantial legacy of technical achievements includes the United States Navy's continuing record of zero reactor accidents, as defined by the uncontrolled release of fission products subsequent to reactor core damage. (wikipedia)
• • •

It's an important historical date to commemorate, and the symmetry of all the answers is indeed fortuitous. Still, this was not very interesting to solve. I don't think I actually read one theme clue. They all just seemed to fill themselves in. Once you got the gist of who / what was involved, the theme became obvious and the only resistance was provided by the fill. I had trouble with the NW as I confidently wrote in BUSTY for 2D: Big-bosomed (BUXOM). If I'd bothered to check a couple of those crosses, I'd've seen the error earlier, but with easy / early-week puzzles, I'm typically flying around the grid, and sometimes overlook these matters (however briefly). Got sloppy again in the SE when I wrote in singular IOWAN where plural IOWAS belonged (53D: Early Great Plains residents). And then in the far south I had no idea about HYMAN and got a little concerned when I couldn't remember the exact name of the [Canopy tree]. Specifically, I couldn't remember the last letter: M? N? R? I wasn't 100% sure. But then I got HYMA- and figured that "N" was the only plausible answer—correct. Most everything else felt pretty easy to me, but somehow, even with the ÜBER-easy theme and a mostly piece-of-cake grid, I still ended up w/ a pretty average Tuesday time. Maybe it's all the time I took to finally get ROBINS (49A: Signs of spring) that really did me in. Who knows? Moreover, who cares?


Theme answers:
  • 23A: With 51-Across, presidential order signed on January 1, 1863 (EMANCIPATION / PROCLAMATION)
  • 37A: With 39-Across, signer of the 23-/51-Across (ABRAHAM / LINCOLN)
  • 18A: With 61-Across, goal of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman (ABOLITION / OF SLAVERY) — ABOLITION on its own would've been a perfectly appropriate answer to this clue, but, you know, symmetry


First thought for 1A: Dacha or villa (ABODE) was HOUSE. But ARETE was a gimme (1D: Mountain ridge), and so ABODE was the obvious next choice for 1A, and I got all the Downs in order from there (except BUXOM, which I botched, as I say...). The south was a proper noun death trap—potentially. I wouldn't call any of the names—ORBACH (48D: Jerry of stage and screen), CELIA (65A: Salsa singer Cruz), HYMAN—obscure, but any time you get a cluster of non-universally-known names like that, gaps in knowledge can sneak up and bite you. I nearly got bitten by HYMAN (under the BANYAN tree, as I say...). I don't think I could pick TRICOT out of a fabric line-up (10D: Knit fabric in lingerie and swimwear), but it's got that frenchy ending like "haricots (verts)," and I'm sure I've seen it before, so I pieced it together, no problem. Misread 35D: Role for diminutive Verne Troyer in "Austin Powers" films (MINI-ME) at first and was left pondering (briefly) what short people Jules Verne ever wrote about. OY VEY! (52D: Comment from a kvetcher)


Thanks to all who read and support this blog for another enjoyable year. I'll have a big charity project to announce in the very near future. Also, I'll probably redesign the site sometime soonish—it's about time for a conceptual and stylistic makeover, frankly. But the core of what I do should, like the domestication of the dog, continue unabated.

Happy New Year,

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

77 comments:

Pete 12:03 AM  

I've never been bitten by HYMAN under a BANYAN tree, but I'm reasonably sure I've bitten a ...

Oh well, there goes my resolution not to be crude in 2013.

Thanks for the site for the past year.

jae 12:06 AM  

Nice commemorative puzzle.  Easy medium for me. 

Did not know CELIA or TRICOT but when you can fill in all the theme answers with no crosses it goes pretty quickly.

Liked the zippy touches...ZOWIE, MINI ME, OY VEY...plus a nice puzzle remembrance for the late great Jerry ORBACH.  L & O was not quite the same with out Lennie Briscoe. 

johnnymcguirk 12:20 AM  

Think you had a typo, 150th

Elaine2 12:21 AM  

Easy puzzle -- nice thing to commemorate.

Thanks, Rex, for the blog, and thanks to everyone who comments. It's always fun.

Happy New Year!

retired_chemist 1:21 AM  

Happy New Year to all.

Medium puzzle. Hand up for HOUSE @ 1A. Got BUXOM without going through BUSTY since I had EXAMS, TOME, and EMANCIPATION first. Sue ANE Langdon? OK, I was sure it was ANN.

ORBACH - easy. One of my favorites. Also a famous name in crosswords (son Tony). HYMAN - knew. CELIA - didn't, but all 5 crosses were gimmes, except I was keeping an open mind about OY VAY as a possiblility. CALIA seemed much less likely than CELIA. Prefer the Ben Jonson "Song to Celia" as a clue.

Thanks, Mr. Farmer.

Ellen S 2:17 AM  

@jae, @retired_chemist, same here, I was glad to see recognition of Jerry ORBACH. He was what we used to call a "fine man,", born into a vaudeville family, he played in musicals before moving on to arresting people and making snide comments.

I was pleased with myself for knowing Nita NALDI. I really like old stuff; disappointed that I was stumped by HAND AXE the other day. And at the other end of the time tunnel, I didn't know that rapper; not surprising.

Never heard of Sue Ane Langdon either, but apparently that is how she spells it. Reminds me, I read once that Lisbeth Scott dropped the initial "E" from her name as a publicity stunt during WWII, sending out thousands of press releases boasting how she was conserving ink by spelling her name with one less letter. Apocryphal story.

g'night all. I'm going to let the dogs out before it's midnight here and neighbors start shooting fireworks. My old dog just falls apart. i'm looking forward to the coming year of crosswords. Thanks again, Rex and all who've helped me.

Anonymous 2:17 AM  

orbach/hyman/celia cross- lets hope it gets better next year

Rube 4:56 AM  

As usual, any xword with RUBES is great... John F, you're cheating to capture my affections.

BUT... crossing ORBACH with CALIA is unfair to a pop culture challenged guy like me... guessed s instead of C, so DNF a Tuesday, (sob).

Otherwise, an easy puzzled. Vaguely remembered Nita NALDI and got TRICOT entirely from crosses... pretty tough for a Tuesday.

Watching the Times Square Ball drop... can't believe Dick Clark is actually dead.

HNY all.

Jeremy Mercer 5:45 AM  

Wow, a double Natick to start the New Year. ORBASK/SELIA/KYMAN anyone? Or how about ORBADE/DELIA/EYMAN?

Is this triple semi-obscure name crossing a feat worth noting? Has there ever been four semi-obscure proper names crossing with four squares that could be filled by a variety of vowels or consonants? Does anybody keep track of these sorts of things?

In any case, I'm glad to have discovered your blog in 2012 Rex. Looking forward to following your work and supporting the site in the year to come.

osaugen@aol.com 6:41 AM  

Rex Parker should know the meaning of the word fortuitus. It does not mean "fortunate".

OTD 6:59 AM  

Easy for me. Only hangup was on CELIA and ANE. Didn't know either one. Liked OYVEY, ZOWIE, and BANYAN.

Happy New Year to all, and a hardy Thank You to Rex for the blog and to all the contributors. Always a good read.

Milford 8:00 AM  

Can't believe I nearly DNFed on a Tuesday, and the first puzzle of the year! ZOWIE! The south nearly did me in with nearly every cross of SOLARIA and BANYAN that wasn't part of the theme. ORBACH was a gimme, but ANE and HYMAN and CELIA were total mysteries, especially at 1AM.

Loved the interesting, appropriate theme, and entries like BUXOM, ÜBER, FRAPPÉ, and OVINE. Don't remember ever being called one of the LAB RATS, but I'm sure I was. My youngest daughter is a MINI-ME.

@osaugen - Rex did use it correctly. It is fortuitous that the theme entries happen to have the same number of letters.

Happy 2013! Thank you, Rex for this blog and all you contribute. I also found it in 2012, after a resolution to try and complete the puzzle every single day, and this blog significantly helped that actually happen. Thank you all!

Harvey Briggs 8:27 AM  

Thank you Michael for taking the time to do this everyday and helping to improve my puzzle skills after a mere 40 years of practice. I look forward to more of the same in 2012

joho 8:32 AM  

Admirable theme, well done. This reminds me that I have to see "Lincoln."

Loved seeing that pesky UBER BRAT running through the grid.

Nice start to the new year ... can't wait to see what puzzles lie ahead!

Z 8:45 AM  

ORBACH and HYMAN were not an issue here, but I caused my own problems by wanting to CAST a die or CAST dice in the SE. The "imbeciles" at 69A finally helped me see the error of my gambling habit.

We went to see Lincoln on Sunday. A good movie with a scene of Lincoln discussing the shaky legal footing of the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION and the very real possibility that it would not be the permanent ABOLITION OF SLAVERY by itself.

Not only is Mr. Farmer trying to endear himself to @Rube, but I see a blatant attempt for my affections at 38D. Nevertheless, I will not be kissing him under the BANYAN tree.

Z 8:53 AM  

I just said my thanks to Rex the old fashioned way - with cold hard cash. After all, we have to be ready when the Space Aliens invade.

jackj 9:12 AM  

When BUXOM showed up at the outset the puzzle seemed full of promise, maybe even of Swimsuit Issue proportions but that hope was quickly dashed when the constructor cast a pall over the proceedings by cluing DEMENTIA.

Happy New Year to you too, John Farmer.

Getting a straight out history lesson makes for a pretty boring theme despite the enormity of the achievement being recognized and despite the fact that it is the 150th anniversary of the signing of Lincoln’s historic Presidential order.

Certainly when tributes are merited, homage should be paid, it just seems that crossword puzzles are often the least satisfactory means of doing so, especially when momentous events are being remembered.

Still, John gave us some bits of decent fill, unaffected by the rigor of the theme, such as CASTLOTS and MINIME, two debut entries that sparkled, and the appearance of the fantastic, otherworldly looking BANYAN, which if it were an Israeli native growth, would likely be called an OYVEY tree.

But, then, on the downside, we were treated to the likes of “Beginning of summer?” for ESS that has sadly become such a cliché it long ago ceased being clever.

And, clearly, Mr. Farmer is not a New Englander, (or, at least, not an Eastern Massachusetts New Englander), as his cluing of FRAPPE would have had him hooted out of the local ice cream parlor. A FRAPPE is a concoction of milk, flavored syrup and ice cream, a milkshake is a FRAPPE without the ice cream and a “Fruity iced beverage” is not a FRAPPE or a milkshake, it is a no-no.

XENA, NENA, NAS, ZSA?? ZOWIE!



Happy New Year!

Susan McConnell 9:13 AM  

I had a pretty tame New Years Eve, but this felt like I was trying to solve it with a hangover. Also started with HOUSE, like Rex, but knew it couldn't work. Can't think of Jerry ORBACH without mentioning The Fantasticks.

Wishing you all a wonderful 2013 that's full of ZOWIEs and no OY VEYs.

Susan McConnell 9:15 AM  

Kudos to jacks for providing the correction re: frappe. This New Englandah agrees.

Airymom 9:27 AM  

Any puzzle with Jerry Orbach is a delight for me. I first saw him on Broadway starring in "Chicago" about 35 years ago (or more), and then, I was addicted to Law and Order. The show was never the same after his passing.

Not an exciting puzzle, but timely and with a minimum of junk.

Happy New Year!

MetaRex 9:34 AM  

Is the symmetry of the thematic answers fortuitous? If the ghost of William Safire were editing Rex's blog, we'd have "fortunate" here instead of "fortuitous." But we can use a word that means fortunate in the accidental sense rather than fortunate in the meant-to-be sense, no? Fortuitous is that word...thx to Rex for using it that way, and may that usage escape the coils of the language police in 2013.

Freedom

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

Pretty easy for me-but I had just seen Lincoln so maybe that helped:). I also discovered this blog in 2012 and thank Rex and all of his loyal commenters for helping me improve my skills this year. Happy 2013 to all!

chefbea 9:43 AM  

Pretty easy other than the triple Natick at Sim,Ane,and Minime.

Happy 2013 to all!!!

For the sake of historical accuracy 9:53 AM  

It proclaimed all those enslaved in Confederate territory to be forever free, and ordered the Army (and all segments of the Executive branch) to treat as free all those enslaved in ten states that were still in rebellion, thus applying to 3.1 million of the 4 million slaves in the U.S. The Proclamation could not be enforced in areas still under rebellion, but as the army took control of Confederate regions, the slaves in those regions were emancipated rather than returned to their masters.

The Proclamation did not apply to the five slave states that were not in rebellion, nor to most regions already controlled by the Union army; emancipation there would come after separate state actions and/or the December 1865 ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, which made slavery illegal everywhere in the U.S.

Pete 10:15 AM  

@Those who see fit to correct Rex's use of fortuitous:

So, you're saying when Mama Lincoln decided to name Baby Lincoln she chose Abraham so that in 200+ years his name would consist of two words of equal length so that it 150 years later it would be easier to fit into crossword symmetry?

When said Abe decided to name the document freeing the slaves he chose two words that were of equal length for the same reason?

When people were trying to get ride of slaverty they chose ABOLITION rather than disestableshment so that ABOLITION/OF SLAVERY split equally?

That none of these were by chance?

What the hell are you people smoking, and why aren't you sharing.

Fortuitous was used correctly (in it's classical sense). Further, dictionaries support fortuitous as meaning merely fortunate.

ArtO 10:17 AM  

Happy new year all. Hyman is so easy for anyone over 65. Just demonstrates how age affects solving.

Pete 10:24 AM  

PS - If you're going to jump ugly on someone for using a word where its classical definition is contra-indicated, why not pick on @JackJ for his use of 'enormity' to describe the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION instead. A much more egregious error.

Sandy K 10:29 AM  

A worthy theme. Altho I sort of expected a Fiscal Cliff theme.

Seems like we NEED some other presidential orders to be signed by OBAMA on January 1st in the DC AREA or it will cost ME a lot more CASH- OY VEY!

Happy New Year everyone! We made it to 2013, all you Mayans!

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

". . . to the likes of “Beginning of summer?” for ESS that has sadly become such a cliché it long ago ceased being clever."

It's a Tuesday crossword. The clue wasn't for you. It will be 'new' for lots of people (one would hope).

M-W Online 10:33 AM  

Usage Discussion of ENORMITY
Enormity, some people insist, is improperly used to denote large size. They insist on enormousness for this meaning, and would limit enormity to the meaning “great wickedness.” Those who urge such a limitation may not recognize the subtlety with which enormity is actually used. It regularly denotes a considerable departure from the expected or normal . When used to denote large size, either literal or figurative, it usually suggests something so large as to seem overwhelming and may even be used to suggest both great size and deviation from morality . It can also emphasize the momentousness of what has happened or of its consequences .

chefbea 10:46 AM  

@Pete LOL...a great explanation

retired_chemist 10:50 AM  

Is it just me, or is this blog even more picky than usual regarding the subtleties of words?

BTW this non-New Englander went to college in that area and thus knew the N. E. meaning of FRAPPE. But FRAPPÉ works. Whatever, given the crosses, it was obviously the answer to the clue.

Melodious Funk 11:07 AM  

Noted that the language police are out in force because of the fortuitous enormity of the Tuesday theme. Mr. Farmer took a big chance with that one, good going!

quilter1 11:31 AM  

I liked CAST LOTS a lot and the theme in general. Folks in Des Moines (IOWA) had an alternative celebration last night commemorating the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION. Had I been able I would have gone.

Coincidentally, I just read an article in my sewing magazine about using TRICOT as an interfacing. I'd like to see interfacing in the grid someday. Or maybe just get a life.

John V 11:52 AM  

What @Rex said, esp. ANE/MINIME cross, which I got, 'cause it had to be E. Nice theme, quite easy, even after a reeeeely late night.

Happy New Year to all.

Tita 11:56 AM  

Love RUBES too - rube means turnip in German.
TRICOT is French for knit. Apologies to those tired of all French in the puzzles.

Jack Lemon's rich old boyfriend exclaims it often in Some Like It Hot. Was looking for a clip from Rex.

Funny how irate we get when confronted with a personal natick, but crow when we happen to know the obscurities. Knew ORBACH, and guessed CELIA. But then guessed at ANN, but had to resurrect MINIME to fix that one.

Happy New Year, all...

Thanks @Rex and all the Rexites. I look forward to another year.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:01 PM  

Happy New Year to all!

(And I firmly resolve that when I have nothing to say about a puzzle, I won't say it.)

Lewis 12:08 PM  

A workmanlike Tuesday for me. Thank you John for taking the trouble to create this and bring a little joy into our lives. And may everyone's year ahead be long on solves and short on Naticks.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

TOIL sums it up. Where was the ICK this puzzle deserves? D- for this puzzle. Emancipation Proclamation deserved much better. A chore to finish after direct fill in of long theme answers. South central just ugly.

NYT puzzle from across the street with OYVEY crossing HYMAN with ORBACH alongside. Downhill for the year already.

Z 12:15 PM  

@mac - Yep - both of your attempts to post are gone. I got both of them in my email. Looking back, all the other follow-ups I received are still in the comments, so you are special.

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

Rex, if you update your site, remove the long-obsolete link to "Twisted but Fair"

syndy 1:06 PM  

I was very impressed with the top third of the puzzle;not so much the middle and was starting to dislike the bottom."OF SLAVERY" In my opinion was by then entirely redundant. I did like the shout out to Sue Ane Langdon-costar of one of my favorite movies "The family Jewels" As I was born of Boston I was Appalled at the Enormity of the cluing for FRAPPE-sometimes a misclued answer is obvious but It don't make it right!

M-W Online 1:30 PM  

Definition of FRAPPÉ
1
a : a partly frozen drink (as of fruit juice)
b : a liqueur served over shaved ice
2
: a thick milk shake

Qvart 1:44 PM  

I happened to hear on NPR this morning while driving to work that it was the anniversary of the EP. Got 1D to start (ARETE) and with the "E" going across all I read was "With 51-across, presidential order..." and I filled in all the theme answers.

I give it a "medium" rating too. Had to reveal the last two letters (48D).

No more comments today. Feel like I have a cold coming on. Hoping it's just sinus going haywire from the cold front that moved in. Grrrr.

7:17

Davis 1:45 PM  

I was proceeding through this puzzle at a normal Tuesday pace, working through "meh" fill like DC AREA and TAKE TO, and then I hit due south. ORBACH crossing CELIA and HYMAN? On a Tuesday? Ugh. That region was solely responsible for putting me into a 6+ minute time. There's simply nothing sparkly enough about this puzzle to justify that section of fill.

jackj 1:47 PM  

Pete@10:24AM-

M-W seems to have a different POV than yours:

“a quality of momentous importance or impact <the enormity of the decision”

Sfingi 1:57 PM  

DNF because of the Natick at AIKMAN/NAS, that is to say Sports/Youth. Otherwise, all easy.

Nice theme, which I filled in before anything else.

Saw Orbach in the Boonies in the Fantasticks. I didn't think the show would make it, and was shocked by the references to rape.

Pete 2:04 PM  

@JackJ - I don't have access to M-W, but I'm sure that their definitions for enormity follow the same trend as this:

e·nor·mi·ty/ɪˈnɔr mɪ ti/ Show Spelled [ih-nawr-mi-tee] Show IPA
noun, plural e·nor·mi·ties.
1. outrageous or heinous character; atrociousness: the enormity of war crimes.
2. something outrageous or heinous, as an offense: The bombing of the defenseless population was an enormity beyond belief.
3. greatness of size, scope, extent, or influence; immensity: The enormity of such an act of generosity is staggering.

That is, the first few definitions of enormity describe great evil, not greatness in scope. This definition was the original. It's only the third definition, coming along much later, that corresponds to yours.

That's why I specifically referenced classical definition, that you weren't using the classical definition, not that your usage was unsupported.

So no, their POV isn't different than mine.

Rob C 2:08 PM  

Fine puzzle in my opinion. Some zippy fill as mentioned by others. For me, not every puzzle needs a wacky play on words for a theme to be enjoyable.

Runners of experiments for LABRATS was a bit off the mark to me. Is it just that lab rats might run during some experiments? or am I missing something?

I'm with jackj and M-W. Definition and common usage support the way it was used in the post.

Milford 2:28 PM  

@Rob C. - I took LAB RATS to be the researchers that are running experiments, like grad students, who basically live in the lab.

Rob C 2:30 PM  

@Milford - Interesting - I've never heard the term used that way. Not my area of expertise though. Thanks.

Sparky 2:57 PM  

Easy, particularly once you see the theme. Hasn't Sue ANE been in the puzzle a whole lot? (I don't know how to look that up.) Clearly few here have any Hispanic connection. Celia not obscure. I'm with @BobK. Less said the better.

Happy New Year. Looking forward to new puzzles and enjoying Rex's gift to us.

Ellen S 3:19 PM  

@Sparky said, "the less said the better," but here I go.

@Fortuitous --
The evolution of language is too much fun to fight about. When I was in sixth grade (Eisenhower was president) we had a probably very short etymology unit. Most fun I ever had in school before or since: we learned prefixes, suffixes and roots, and words like pejoration and ameliorization. "Hell" used to just mean "a hole in the ground." Then the merely neutral pit "pejorated" into "the abyss."

Somewhere in the intervening decades I turned into a classicist (or one of the Language Police), reasoning that if you use words correctly, people will know what you mean, or at least, people can "jump ugly" on you if you err. But regardless of whether Rex intended fortuitous to mean "by accident" or "by a happy accident," so what? The classic definition of fortuitous doesn't preclude it being a "lucky accident". I think classically, "fortuitous" can apply equally to one's car stalling on the tracks and getting smashed by a freight train, or to the engine catching just at the last moment and getting you out of the way just as the train rushes by. My fancy shmancy New Oxford American Dictionary frowns on using "fortuitous" to mean "fortunate", because the accident need not be fortunate. But if the outcome is happy, it's still an accident and fortuitous still applies. Dunnit? Can someone use "fortuitous" correctly (etymologically) in a sentence where the accident had a happy outcome and everybody knows it was happy, and nobody takes exception to the usage? I'm disinterested (as upposed to uninterested), because since I have had to give up the classical meaning of "eke out", I have been edging back to my childhood acceptance of change. (@Pete, watch your apostrophes in "it's". )

p.s. Born and grew up in Chicago, lived many decades in California. My blender has a non-specific Frappe setting, but I only see see frappes at espresso joints meaning whipped milk and coffee drinks. Whipped up fruit are (is?) smoothies. Maybe as with "fortuitous", widespread use of frappe in the milkshake context has eroded the larger meaning. Please forgive lack of accent marks; iPad is not friendly to such.

M-W Online 3:49 PM  

Definition of FORTUITOUS
1
: occurring by chance
2
a : fortunate, lucky
b : coming or happening by a lucky chance
— for·tu·itous·ly adverb
— for·tu·itous·ness noun

Usage Discussion of FORTUITOUS
Sense 2a has been influenced in meaning by fortunate. It has been in standard if not elevated use for some 70 years, but is still disdained by some critics. Sense 2b, a blend of 1 and 2a, is virtually unnoticed by the critics. Sense 1 is the only sense commonly used in negative constructions.

Three and Out

Z 3:54 PM  

I think Language changes. Want proof? Try this on for size:


Here bygynneth the Book of the tales of Caunterbury.

Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open eye-
So priketh hem Nature in hir corages-
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunturbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for the seke
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke.

Three and out.

jackj 4:02 PM  

Z-

Point nicely made!!

Three and gone.

JenCT 6:30 PM  

@Pete: LOL "What the hell are you people smoking, and why aren't you sharing."

Sure, ROBINS can be signs of Spring, but they've been around my yard all the time lately. They've been devouring the fruit of Bittersweet, Cranberry Viburnum, and Wild Roses (hips.)

Crunchy puzzle start to the new year.

JenCT 6:31 PM  

Ooops - forgot to check the box.

Evan 7:11 PM  

A puzzle for the budding historian in me. I had EMAN- and that was pretty much it for the theme; no real mystery beyond that.

This was the first time that I can recall solving a crossword while driving. Okay, so I wasn't actually driving at the time -- I was stopped at a service plaza in Ohio. But I had a copy of the puzzle and I went to work while I waited for my wife in the car. We're making the long trek from Chicago to Philadelphia and, well, there was no way a 12-hour drive was gonna stop me from starting off 2013 with a puzzle to solve.

Happy new year, all.

Carola 9:29 PM  

Late to the New Year's party - now on West Coast time and had to watch the Rose Bowl (sob) before turning to the puzzle.

Liked the commemoration, did not know about the January 1 date. DNF due to a bad guess at ANi/MINIMI.

Captcha is "taxcra" - the missing final consonant could be a "g" - "tax crag": synonym for "fiscal cliff." Appropriate for the night of the vote.

Tita 10:14 PM  

@Jen...love your new avatar...
It's also good to see you spending some time back here.
Happy New Year!

syndy 10:51 PM  

Yes language changes and yes,maybe like Canute we are commanding the sea to halt,but by gumm you gotta draw your line in the sand somewhere.Even if only to cover an orderly retreat.

Abolition Celia Minimes 12:02 AM  

Happy New Year!
Like the film, slight more history lesson than ZOWIE entertainment...but yes, super fortuitous of the symmetry of his name and ABOLITION/OFSLAVERY and EMANCIPATION/PROCLAMATION! Six themes.
Yay this blog so we can all learn about language growth, nuance, etc...or others might be exposed for the first time to the fabulous CELIA Cruz or the incomparable Jerry ORBACH (and his even more fabulous son, whom no one can meet without falling in love! Male, female, constructor or solver! And by fortuitous coincidence I think Tony and I introduced ZOWIE to the database with our Sunday puzzle last year)

The puzzle sort of reminded me of that joke I only half remember about why Some people thought Lincoln was Jewish...his name was ABRAHAM and he was shot in the temple!
OY VEY

Anyway Gentleman Farmer John managed to hit it dead on to make a Tuesday level tribute on the exact day...and I don't think OFSLAVERY. Is redundant just for symmetry because you could have ABOLITION of a monarchy or other things, like grammar police!

sanfranman59 1:42 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 5:45, 6:12, 0.93, 18%, Easy
Tue 7:31, 8:37, 0.87, 14%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:43, 3:39, 1.02, 58%, Medium
Tue 4:33, 4:57, 0.92, 18%, Easy

Mark Greenwald 5:39 PM  

Made a resolution to join in the party @Rex this year after long being a wallflower. Really enjoyed today’s puzzle (and also yesterday’s), despite the abundance of obscure/clunky fill, which didn’t bother me too much except in the SW, where like others I clung to Volare, believed in vega lily, and tried to imagine carrying an anus. Really wanted Oys instead of Ays, especially after seeing Oy Vey yesterday. I’m a symmetry freak (hated Saturday 12/29), probably for deep neurophysiologic reasons relating to being (almost) ambidextrous, and was especially pleased by the arrangement of the loops today. No problem at all with Froot, though its been years since I was at the table with a box of these. I do remember vividly, as prodigy constructor David pointed out, the yukky color they gave to milk. Thanks to Rex and all for adding much to the fun of doing the puzzles.

Spacecraft 11:28 AM  

The trouble with a theme like this is, as OFL said, more than a third of the grid is automatically filled. Solving challenge? No. Constructing challenge? You bet. It's amazing, to me, that pairs of 7-, 9- and 12-letter entries can be stuffed into a 15x15 and all be zeroed in on a single subject. On that score, WTG John!

Nor is our puzzle without freshness. BUXOM is a perfectly marvelous word--and its meaning is equally marvelous. It contains one of two X's and an astounding NINE B's in this grid. AIKMAN and ZOWIE add more crunch.

MINIME is, I am sure, not a debut, but I still like it. I also like the little theme bonus of DCAREA, where all this history took place.

Now if only he didn't have to include a rapper, I'd proclaim LOVE for this one. And finally, thanks for putting good ol' Jerry (RIP) out in a central area. After all, nobody puts ORBACH in a corner.

Ginger 3:12 PM  

With the exception of a rapper, this was on my wave length. Hyman Rickover was a household name during the 50's, 60's and 70's. I can see how this puzzle would be more difficult for anyone younger that about 60.

@Spacecraft - thanks for the 'Dirty Dancing' reference. Another fine Jerry Orbach performance.

As others have mentioned, the theme practically filled itself in.
On a related note, PBS showed a documentary on the 'Freedom Riders' last night. The enormity (yes - that word) of the violence perpetrated on those brave young people was almost unbelievable. Time dulls the memory, so IMO it needs to be re-aired many times.

Thanks Mr Farmer for a fine Tuesday Puzzle.

DMGrandma 4:37 PM  

Agree with @Ginger that HYMAN was easy for those of us of what's called "a certain age", as was ORBACH, so that name rich section of the puzzle was no problem. However, going up a few squares, to an area involving more recent personages, I hit a Natick at the cross of a sports figure and a rapper.

If @Ellen S sees this, accents are easy on the iPad. Just hold the desired letter down and slide to the version you warn . For example, besides N, the same key gives Ń and Ñ.

Ellen S 4:59 PM  

@DMGrandma, thanks! I'll try it.

And I should be replying to something of Evil Doug's, because my captcha is "byeetme"!

Dirigonzo 5:05 PM  

I'm not generally a movie-goer but I saw 'Lincoln' and I loved it; I also loved this puzzle. Another thing I love is that when I use a word imperfectly in my comments (often, I'm sure) nobody jumps in to point out my mistake.

Ginger 6:24 PM  

@Diri - I think we all misuse words on occasion, and your comment 'nobody jumps in to point out my mistake', is one of the many reasons I appreciate Syndiland commenters :-)

Waxy in Montreal 7:34 PM  

@Ginger and @Diri, fully agree; hopefully (misused!), our small corner of the blog can retain its civility.

Never heard of Nita Naldi - interesting to read on Wikipedia that she was born as plain old Mary Dooley in New York City but adopted a much more exotic screen name to compete with the likes of Theda Bara and Pola Negri.

Fav Ty Cobb story dates from the 1950's, 30 years after his retirement:
Reporter: with all the great players playing ball right now, how well do you think you would do against today's pitchers?
Ty Cobb: Well, I figure against today's pitchers I'd only probably hit about .290
Reporter: .290? Well that's amazing, because you batted over .400 a whole bunch of times. Now tell us all, we'd all like to know, why do you think you'd only hit .290?
Ty Cobb: Well, I'm 72 (expletive deleted) years old you ignorant son of a bitch.



Dirigonzo 7:45 PM  

@Ginger & @Waxy - the phrase "kinder, gentler" (to borrow part of a quote from George H. W. Bush) comes to mind when I compare syndi-commenters to the prime-time crowd.

@Waxy - read your Ty Cobb story to PP and she laughed out loud, as did I. Great story (especially if it's true)! Now, about your misuse of "hopefully"...

Prime Timer 8:25 PM  

Hey, you know we can hear you, don't you?

Waxy in Montreal 9:09 PM  

@Diri, the quote actually comes from the IMBb website entry for the 1994 movie Cobb starring Tommy Lee Jones as the Georgia Peach. Hopefully, it is true...

wounded to the quick 9:38 PM  

Hey syndilanders...you DO know that you don't *really* exist in a parallel universe, separate in both time and space, right??
I mean, us realtimers have feelings ya know...




Dirigonzo 6:24 AM  

@prime timer and @wounded, @et al - no offense intended; your comments are often far more entertaining than the puzzle and I always enjoy reading them.

@Waxy - there you go again...

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