Chef's topper / WED 11-30-11 / Plaza Hotel moppet / Imprisoned Peace Nobelist Xiaobo / Dundee who trained Ali / When doubled 1997 Jim Carrey movie

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Constructor: Rolf Hamburger

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: ONE (72A: Addition to 18-, 23-, 40-, 54- and 60-Across) — ONE is added to familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, etc.


Word of the Day: ANGELO Dundee (49D: Dundee who trained Ali) —
Angelo Dundee (born Angelo Mirena on August 30, 1921) is an American boxing cornerman. He is best known for his work with Muhammad Ali (1960–1981), and has worked with 15 world boxing champions, including Sugar Ray Leonard, José Nápoles, George Foreman, Jimmy Ellis, Carmen Basilio, Luis Rodriguez and Willie Pastrano. (wikipedia)
• • •

Not a great week so far. Yesterday, a very tired example of the well-worn "first words have this thing in common" theme type, and now today, a very clunky "insert-a-word" theme that doesn't even bother to have an interesting revealer. Just ... ONE? That's it. You know, the phrase PLUS ONE can mean "a guest that an invitee is allowed to bring to a party." AND ONE is both a basketball shoe company and a phrase in basketball referring to the free throw attempt one is awarded if one is fouled while making a basket. I'm just saying, you could get creative and do Something. One of the main rules for puzzles that involve Wackification is: answers must be funny / clever. The only good one today is STONE AGE COACH. The rest are either awkward or, in the case of GONE IN RUMMY, borderline nonsensical. The grid is adequately filled, but thematically, this puzzle is a bust.


Theme answers:
  • 18A: Team on the receiving end of a prank? (MOONED SQUAD)
  • 23A: "E," "pluribus" or "unum"? (MONEY WORD)
  • 40A: Athletic trainer for Neanderthals? (STONE AGE COACH)
  • 54A: West Coast punk rock group? (L.A. RAMONES)
  • 60A: Entered pie-eyed? (GONE IN RUMMY)


Had a few snags along the way today, starting with AMS instead of AFT (1A: Time in some want ads). No idea why I read "Time" as "Times." Unshockingly, the exact spelling of the [Olive genus] (ugh) didn't come quickly. OLE ... something (OLEA). Remembered YVONNE De Carlo (24D: De Carlo of "The Munsters") but did not remember ANGELO Dundee. Thought 56A: Kind of computing using remote servers (CLOUD) was some kind of computer language like COBOL (clearly didn't read the clue that carefully). Oh, and of course I thought [Some summer fare] would refer to a comestible of some sort, not RE-RUNS. Speaking of which, "M*A*S*H" RE-RUNS are a significant feature of the Bobbie Ann Mason novel In Country, which I now have to get back to reading. So, a few bullets, and then good night.

Bullets:
  • 16A: Plaza Hotel moppet (ELOISE) — in my head, she is the female counterpart to Milo in The Phantom Tollbooth (probably because they are iconic, illustrated literary kids that I encountered at about the same time in my childhood)
  • 10D: Chef's topper (TOQUE) — a very handy piece of high-end crosswordese. Put it in off just the "U"; other crosswordese headwear of note: TAM and KEPI.
  • 11D: Imprisoned Peace Nobelist ___ Xiaobo (LIU) — nice, timely clue. Would be great to see XIAOBO, or even LIUXIAOBO, in the puzzle someday (if it hasn't been in there already).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

71 comments:

Gill I. P. 12:15 AM  

Well, the theme popped out at me right away with MOONED SQUAD and I sort of liked it. When I got to LA RAMONES I did a "wait a minute!!" Unless I've been living in the States too long, it should be LOS RAMONES. RAMONES is a masculine word, so is group or grupo in Spanish. Que pasa?
I guess FAEROE and TOQUE gave it some oomph. Nothing to really write home about though.
Captcha: Salsa or what this puzzle needs a bit of.

PurpleGuy 12:26 AM  

Agree with @Rex that "this puzzle is a bust."

Didn't get the theme until the reveal(meh), then
went back th see the original phrases.
Brain couldn't parse LARAMONES as L.A. RAMONES.
Wondered what in the world LARAMS was. Sigh...

Sure glad it's Wednesday and over the hump.


Shanti-
Bob/PurpleGuy

jae 12:34 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  I vaguely remember seeing the FAEROE islands in a previous puzzle but I still put In FAERIE.   It took getting the theme to fix it.  That was pretty much it for problems.  OK Wed. but not up to what we've seen so far this week.

Nice to see NELSON crossing LARAMONES.   At least when he was Gov. they were still an LA team.

Tita 12:43 AM  

How can you not love APLOMB, PAH, RAD, and SEXY?

YVONNE De Carlo was fabulous alongside Alec Guiness in Captain's Paradise - if you never saw it - do!

One quibble...
Arrivederci = Au Revoir.
Addio = Adieu.
It's the difference between "SEE YOU later" amd "Farewell"

I did like this puzzle, though agree with Rex about the revealer - that coulda been more creative.

Andrew J. Ries 12:48 AM  

MASH reruns were also prominent in Infinite Jest, correct? Or am I misremembering my Wallace?

Anonymous 1:15 AM  

I can't consider a puzzle anything better than awful when the constructor doesn't even do his due diligence - the MTA has absolutely nothing to do with bridges in NYC. That would be the PORT AUTHORITY. (ahem, Mr. Shortz)

Rube 1:17 AM  

Once I got the theme had to move it in various spaces until the crosses worked in GONEINRUMMY. That's terrible! Ruined the whole puzz for me. Actually, that and the totally unknown spelling of Faroe islands, FAEROE. Kept wanting AST or ADT for Atlantic Standard/Daily Time -- a shoutout to our Canadian cousins.

MOONEDSQUAD reminds of a story about a guy in my fraternity... oh, never mind.

Thanks to those yesterday who tried to help on my smart phone quest. I'm still looking although the pressing issue right now is a failing water heater -- a much higher priority.

Of course, there is no longer any such thing as the LA RAM(ONE)S. Rolf, Georgia Frontiere moved them to St. Louis in 1995! Or is this one of those puzzles with an extrememly long gestation period?

retired_chemist 1:26 AM  

Meh. Couyld not get into this. A NIKE puzzle: Just do it.

Put in AMS for 1A, and MAE___ led me to MAERSK for the Danish islands. Hey, I've seen MAERSK on truck/train containers, so maybe.... Turns out MAERSK IS Danish, but still wrong for 2D. Oh well....

First had END @ 30D, but when I fixed the NW and 3D THE END appeared, I knew 30D was wrong. Last letter was the W in NOW/BOWERY. Obvious in retrospect but couldn't see either.

chefwen 2:23 AM  

When MOONED SQUAD made absolutely no
sense to me I sniffed out the revealer and worked the thing from bottom up. O.K. puzzle, but not a WOW. Hand up for Ams at IA, fixed the s to a T but never got around to fixing the m, so I ended up with the mAEROE islands.

Fingers crossed for a fun, uplifting rebus tomorrow.

arcana cloud moneyword 2:24 AM  

agree PLUSONE would have been a strongerr reveal, but this had its charms...
MONEYWORD was aperfect complement to yesterday's puzzle.

this puzzle had a "voice", eg THEEND! HUSH! SEEYOU! WAYCOOL! CANTOO!

Like the crunchy J/Q corner.
and am intrigued by Rolf!s name...very German, yet clear Asian undertone:
LIU, SUN YAT-sen, TAOISM, URDU

Wanted to like it a pinch more than I did, but it had APLOMB...literally

Evan 2:31 AM  

I'm not crazy about the puzzle in general for the same reasons that Rex describes, but STONE AGE COACH isn't the only good theme answer. MOONED SQUAD evokes fresh memories of both the Mod Squad and the tradition of mooning the JV soccer team in my high school. So that answer is win-win.

I didn't even see the question mark on the clue for MONEY WORD, which made me think it was a regular, non-thematic entry. I was therefore about to complain that MONEY WORD was a nonsensical piece of crap posing as filler material, but retracted when seeing it was a play on MY WORD.

As for GONE IN RUMMY -- that's just ugly. In fact, I feel like the clue is grammatically incorrect. The term GONE IN, if referring to "entered," should follow a "had" -- i.e., "He had gone in the room" (what is that? the past conditional?). Anyway, you wouldn't say, "He gone in the room," so shouldn't the clue for 60-Across be "Had entered pie-eyed?" I think the clue as presently designed (without the "had") would make the answer WENT IN RUMMY. So:

Had entered = GONE IN
Entered = WENT IN

Evan K. 4:05 AM  

I'm with Anonymous: for 64D, MTA was the obvious "answer", but really... MTA and bridges? While I always think of the authority as the TBTA, sadly, "MTA Bridges and Tunnels" is a... thing:

"MTA Bridges and Tunnels, legal name Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, is a division of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, that operates seven intrastate toll bridges and two tunnels in New York City."

Boy, doing anything to remove the legacy of Robert Moses here -- renaming the Triborough Bridge the "RFK Bridge", and this, eh?

Thought YODEL tied to ECHO was cute. I was thinking "HELLO!" at first.

I'm surprised Rex didn't pick on the fill. Wouldn't think he'd be so approving with all the threes: ETS, EST (EST + WIDEST??), OTO, ORO, YAT, LGA, GED, ASA...

chefwen 4:48 AM  

@Chris from 2:07 comment on Tuesday's puzzle. Stop in more often we are a fun group and you will fit in nicely. Pretty soon you will be knocking out Thursday through Sunday puzzles with the help of our leader.

SethG 7:47 AM  

M*A*S*H re-runs were a significant part of my life.

EST means the same thing in EST that it does in WIDEST. It should have been clued differently. Didn't think STONE AGE COACH was the only good one, because I didn't think that was that good either. The RAMS moved. GONE IN RUMMY is actual nonsensical. The reveal is terrible. And the constructor's name is indeed awesome.

Glimmerglass 8:05 AM  

I agree with everyone who thinks GONE IN RUMMY is lame, but I disagree with @Lane. "Entered" in the clue is meant to be a participle, like GONE, but that doesn't make it any better. The sentence would have to be, "Gone in rummy, he slurred all his lines." No one would say or write that. No one uses RUMMY as an appositive adjective. If the constructor must play on gin rummy, he needs a better clue.

jberg 8:09 AM  

I'm more or less with Rex - liked this OK, at best.

Also, the clue for 60A, "Entered pie-eyed?" is just wrong. Pie-eyed means something else; he was thinking of "pie-faced," but got it wrong.

On the other hand, it's nice to see Sun YAT-sen getting his second appearance this week!

Lots of writeovers for me; street before BOWERY, bowbefore NOW at 63D, apace before the much nicer AMAIN, and both Latin and motto before MONEY as the kind of word e, pluribus, and unum are.

dk 8:10 AM  

I read Neanderthals as Netherlands and DYES did not come to mind as an ingredient.. so I failed to make it over the hump.

I also struggled with GOAL as I think of baseball and shutouts.

No animosity towards the puzzle but I feel sorry for 60A. Perhaps the lamest fill I have seen in 45 years of solving x-words.

**(2 Moons) And, perhaps an eyebrow waggle.

Warning revery ahead

ELOISE. I dream of times past and the Oak Bar at the Plaza. My aunt was secretary (or some such title) of the Republican Party when NELSON was governor and even an antiwar protester could be proud to be a member of the GOP. Current NYCers, if you recall the restaurant Cave Canum (Latin for beware of dog) was it in what was once known as the BOWERY? Cave Canum was in an old bath house and the lower level (site of the old baths) was a true watering hole. All this has me in a NY state of mind.

David 8:16 AM  

I'm with @ Evan, really liked MOONEDSQUAD as well as STONEAGECOACH. Not so much the others. Fortunately I skipped all over the puzzle today, and since the SE was extremely easy I got the revealer earlier than usual, which helped with the 5 themed clues (except GONEINRUMMY, which I did a triple-take on before entering to finish the puzzle).

Tons of 6 letter answers today, only one I didn't know almost right off the bat was ELOISE, so I ended up with a pretty quick Wednesday time.

Agree with @Rex and others on the spicelessness (?) of the reveal, and love the suggestions that would have made it better.

joho 8:17 AM  

@arcana cloud moneyword ... I'm adding HUH? to your "voice" list. Which is exactly what I uttered at GONEINRUMMY.

And like @PurpleGuy I couldn't parse L.A.RAMS for the life of me. When I finally got it, I went, "HUH?"

Also like @arcana cloud moneyword and @Seth G, I was totally struck by the name Rolf Hamburger. So unusual and very cool.

jackj 8:54 AM  

Hey, Rolf and Will, the LA Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995 (and, if you really want to be exact, they moved from Los Angeles to Anaheim in 1980) so, fie to LARAMONES. Where’s your respect for “Truth in Packaging”?

The theme entries were mostly fun, especially the one that will, no doubt, be crowned tops by most, MOONEDSQUAD. (GONEINRUMMY, not so much).

But, as the commenters weigh in, Rolf will surely be reminded that, "One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do."

The varied bits of fill hit the Wednesday spot but only one spoke to me, (no, not APLOMB or PAH), but one of the simplest of all, “Diva’s demand” for NOW(!). A unique way to clue Maria Callas.

Welcome, Rolf; a nice debut!

Airymom 9:24 AM  

Lame puzzle--and would someone please explain "goneinrummy"? I've never heard this expression.

John V 9:25 AM  

Easy/medium, 7 mile rating, Stamford to PortChester; put it to bed as we rolled over the state line.

SW last to fall until I saw CLOUD. GOINRUMMY falling on top of the BOWERY is apt.

Mini Natick at ELOISE/LIU cross, IHMO. I correctly guessed the I, but still.

Hey @Rube re: hot water problem. Just get a Droid; there's an app to make hot water. Okay, I made that up.

Re: bridges, MTA/TBTA has bridges and tunnels (not all) that are inter-boro. Port Authority has the bridges that connect NY and NJ. The TBTA bridges have historically made tons of money which has been used to subsidize the subways.

That's it.

hazel 9:26 AM  

The wackiness was totally out of whack. Not a smile or even a groan at any of them.

Despite the fact that I liked the LA RAMS as a team (Roman Gabriel! The Fearsome Foursome!), this puzzle just had a bad vibe for me - TAOISM crossing RACISM. yuck. Then the BOWERY, the crappy INSTANT soup, the wolfish OGLE, the reviled GONEINRUMMY.

Too much YIN not enough YANG. And that chopped up grid with all the 3s. No feng shui at all! Bad QI.
XWORDASQAATSI. THE END.

chefbea 9:37 AM  

I put on my toque and tried to enjoy the puzzle but to no avail!!

Had mate for 68A and that fouled up things.

Never heard of Rummy except for a card game or maybe you could say " that baba is sure rummy". Someone please explain!!

captsha= conesin. what's a c-sin

syndy 9:45 AM  

When I finished I was thinking "REX is gonna make HAMBURGER out of this one!" Lucky he didn't fit in the "K" and the "Z" or rex would have put him into orbit.I liked APLOMB and ARCANA not much else.GONE IN RUMMY not only sucked but it took crappy fill to accomplish it! -That aside whereis EVIL DOUG aka HE WHO WEARS PANT SUITS?

mac 9:50 AM  

Started out with aplomb and bedevil, and thought "this is going to be a nice one". A little disappointed in the end. Agree with a lot of the comments, but I thought those two words, plus the diva clue and GED/ETS combo raised the quality a bit.

quilter1 10:05 AM  

STONE AGE COACH yes.
GONE IN RUMMY no.
Easy rating but also a little boring. I kept thinking it had to get better, then I was done and ho hum.
Rummy used to be a word for a drunk, but a noun. My dad described some of his customers as "a rummy."

evil doug 10:09 AM  

Just as Acme believes her Monday puzzle was meant to lead into Aimee's, it's clear that today's puzzle is intended to continue the linkage by tying into yesterday's keystone word:

sexy boner
instant boner
now boner
ogle boner
tree boner
yep boner
adult boner
chic boner
rad boner
late boner
see you boner
aft boner
stone age coach boner
widest boner
can too boner

BedEvil
Be careful what you ask for, Syndy...

Gill I. P. 10:17 AM  

OK, after reading the comments, I figured out that Mr. Hamburger was really referring to L.A. RAMS. I still see it as LA RAMONES which looks so sucky wrong...
Adding to my Neanderthal hat, why is WIDEST (25D) most inclusive?

poopo: URDU for PAH.

JC66 10:21 AM  

@ John V

You beat me to it. I was going to suggest that @ Rube check out the Apple iHeater.

@ Evil

Love the list.

archaeoprof 10:27 AM  

To me this whole puzzle was ATONAL.

But @Rex saved the day with a video of Loretta Lynn!

Taught for a couple of years at Washington & LEE University. Nice place.

Airymom 10:27 AM  

To Gil---if you ask for the widest range of opinions about something, it could be considered the most inclusive.

To Quilter1---thanks for the heads up about rummy. I have never heard that expression--I guess I'm never too old to learn!

Wouldn't it be fun to have a puzzle entitled "Bury These!" and each answer would be a crosswordeses word that we are so sick of seeing. Then the NYT would never allow them in future puzzles. Here's my list: arlo, stlo, paar, inri, agar, alar, etal, sase, rsvp, lsat, etc., etc.

John V 10:33 AM  

@Airymom: So, your suggestion is that these words would never be essene again? Is that it?

Sorry. It was just hanging there, you know?

Two Ponies 10:44 AM  

The only thing I found interesting about this puzzle is probably only of interest to me so feel free to scroll down.
Yvonne DeCarlo was a private malapop of sorts for me. For some unknown reason, while brushing my teeth, I was thinking about our short-lived fascination with macabre families such as the Addams Family and the Munsters. What was Herman's wife's real name? Oh, yeah, Yvonne. Then I got a new wallet in the mail this morning and what is the last name on the sample driver's license inside? Munster. Strange.
Too bad this debut didn't have more sparkle.

Gill I. P. 10:51 AM  

@Airymom: Thanks...my mind wandered into a far different meaning.
You might add OOX,TEP,LER and our friend NON.

Tita 11:17 AM  

If you've ever watched "It's a Wonderful Life", you've heard the term "RUMMY".
In Jimmy Stewarts's non-life, the disgraced pharmacist is called one by the bartender:

Hey, you! RUMMY! Come here! Didn't I tell you never to come panhandling around here? (Squirts Mr. Gower w/seltzer)

(And yea, you're all right - that clue and answer are noth really lame...)

Noam D. Elkies 11:25 AM  

The theme was OK by me. Not so 14A:PAH, which is a horn or trombone sound: the tuba goes OOM. (And the electric tuba goes 30D:Ω.)

Anybody else try "Onegin rummy" for 60A?

Matthew G. 11:48 AM  

I thought Rex was too tough on yesterday's puzzle (which I didn't get to do until this morning), but today I agree. This one went "thud" for me. GONE IN RUMMY is one of the worst theme entries of the year. It would be an ugly phrase even if that meaning of the word "rummy" were well known, and I would submit that it is not.

However, I will defend the constructor against Anonymous@1:15 a.m. (who ought to check verifiable facts him/herself before taking aim!). The MTA is indeed responsible for the tolled bridges and tunnels that are entirely within the five boroughs of New York, whereas the New York City Department of Transportation maintains the non-tolled bridges within the City, and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey is responsible for the bridges and tunnels that connect the City and New Jersey.

Rube 12:01 PM  

@NDE, yes I did try Onegin rummy and thought, no, Eugene Onegin was not a sot but had it been correct would have raised the standard of this puzzle immensely.

BTW, I meant to thank you @Rex for the Loretta Lynne clip. She's great, but pairing that song with today's theme is genious

Cheerio 12:05 PM  

I have heard the word bowery before, vaguely, and I guessed it, but I also looked it up. I did not know it was a street in Manhattan. I would have guessed it was a British clerical word. So, that's a nice bit of New York knowledge.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:06 PM  

Hate to pile on, but even I, the least sociable of people, was hoping for/expecting "Plus ONE" for the reveal.

Re: 43 A, to call Some summer fare RERUNS, one must overlook the fact that much winter fare is also reruns. You young'uns probably don't remember when there was no cable TV, and regular series would air 39 original episodes from Fall to Spring and only air 13 selected RERUNS during the summer.

@dk - Cato the Censor is digging his elbow in my side, pressing me to ask if the name of your remembered restaurant might not have been "Cave Canem."

r.alphbunker 12:43 PM  

@tita
You must be bilingual. Your 12:43AM post made me think of an impossible crossword feat: a puzzle whose clues and answers could be translated into another language and still use the same grid pattern. It would probably be impossible even if you were allowed to change the grid pattern.

@retired chemist
I liked your use of the NIKE slogan. But what is the policy regarding product placement in this blog? What's next? @evil doug posting something like "This was an ESSO puzzle, it really put a tiger in my tank!"

John V 12:46 PM  

To continue a bit on the Bowery theme, especially for non New Yorkers/Manhattanites, The Bowery Savings Bank is an important piece of the City's financial and real estate history. The building at 110 East 42 Street is right across from Grand Central when you're next in town and absolutely worth the visit. The Bowery is a bit more of a hike, but worth it, in my view. Be sure to visit The New Musuem while you're there.

Kurt 12:46 PM  

@evil doug

How about Lorena Bobbit's favorite?

axe boner

Sorry Syndy

Tita 1:24 PM  

@r.alph...most intriguing!
Perhaps one could accomplish bilingual puzzles if the clues could be different, and you used "faux amis" - "false friends"...
Would require languages that share roots...
A English/German puzzle could use words like
"gift" - present/poison;
"bald" soon/hairless...

English/French could use
"affluence" - wealth/crowd;
"essence" - gist/gasoline;
"gross" disgusting/large

Any constructors out there want to collaborate? We could publish in the int'l editions... ;)

Joel 1:31 PM  

The puzzle was alright, but more importantly the constructor's name is Rolf Hamburger.

This is easily one of the coolest names I've ever seen.

Masked and Anonymous 1:46 PM  

8 U's! Dude! Now that's what I call gettin' some great cheese with your Hamburger. [Several 65-D's here]

Fave fill: JETLAG, APLOMB, BEDEVIL, YVONNE. Honorable mention to MOONED SQUAD, URDU and PAH.

Fave clue: 56-A. Geeky good.

Better clue for MTA: "It'll spit twenties, if you turn it upside down"

Comment on PuzTheme: Takes ONE to know one.

John V 1:56 PM  

Less good clue for MTA: "Charlie rides forever on the ___ "

DannyBurk 2:05 PM  

The Puzzle? What everyone has all ready said, but 70 Across did make me smile cuz it reminded me of The Jim Croce Song . . .

Uptowns got it's hustlers,
The bowery's got it's bums,
42st got Big Jim Walker,
He's a pool shootin son of a gun

~Daniel

Sparky 2:08 PM  

@meta4. Welcome aboard.

Since I do across and then down (mostly) had RACISt before ISM, leer before OGLE, and trio (The Police) before TRAP. They all were sorted out in the doing. Pie Eyed and RUMMY both kind of old timey. But RUMMY is a noun to me. It just doesn't parse unless it's @Chefbea's baba.

Half a shout out to @Evil and since I, too,misread 22A as Netherlands half a shout out to @MAC. Well, half a laugh is better than none.

JHC 2:15 PM  

Since nobody else has mentioned it yet, I did like the cross of LUNAR and MOONED.

And although a few other people have mentioned it, I would like to join the pigpile on FAEROE. Insufficiently notable + odd spelling = ugh.

Masked and Anonymous again 2:29 PM  

@John V: Har. Good song choice (MTA)... One of 31's faves. Makes it real musically relevant.

fergus 2:34 PM  

FAEROEs right by the Orkneys, or are they too obscure, too?

Lewis 3:29 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 3:37 PM  

inmarfoes

The CAPTCHA says it all

ick! weak week indeed

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

Starting to wonder about the average age of bloggers. boner???

Tita 4:25 PM  

@Anon - or the everage gender...

@evil et allii - methinks that for a gent, you can put BONER after any random word and it will make perfect sense to you... ;)

I suggest using it after each capcha...mine now is "plosion"...
Does this speak to you?

sanfranman59 4:45 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)

Wed 11:52, 11:48, 1.01, 59%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:23, 5:51, 1.09, 78%, Medium-Challenging

There's an unusually large discrepancy in the percentile and rating for the two groups of solvers today. The Top 100 solvers have higher solve times relative to their Wednesday norm than the All Solvers group. I'm not sure what to make of this, but I'm guessing that the difference will be quite a bit less once all the numbers are in. I think my own solve time was inflated considerably because I just couldn't parse the theme answers. I'll join the chorus in saying that 60A: Entered pie-eyed? (GONE IN RUMMY) just seems all kinds of wrong to me.

FearlessK 5:02 PM  

OLEA: oleaginous, anyone?
Had all the long clues and understood none of them until I arrived at 72A: ONE, and still had to look at it long and hard before the lightbulb went off. Argh.
Last to fall: the AXE/SEXY cross (I know: really?)
Thanks, Rex, for the reference to The Phantom Tollbooth, one of the truly great books.
MOONEDSQUAD provoked some very happy high school hockey team memories...
Lots of gimmes for us NYers: Nelson, Eloise, MTA, LGA.

Z 5:17 PM  

Did the puzzle after work today. Favorite part of the puzzle is the constructor's name. A pseudonym perhaps?

Anon@3:53 - boner jokes have no upper age limit.

captcha - repap - where DaVinci solves the puzzle.

foodie 5:27 PM  

I'm currently on the 5pm ACELA from DC to NY, and it always makes me think of crosswords, and of course, y'all.

When I saw MOONED SQUAD, it thought may be there was something called MOON SQUAD and that ED (Evil Doug) was being inserted to make mischief.

I too like the bilingual puzzle idea. There are some French words that are used so differently in English, they would really threw me off. It would be fun to retrieve some of them-- e.g. sanguin

Noam D. Elkies 10:49 PM  

Forgot to mention: I wonder if today's crossword was "harmonized" in China due to the 11D:LIU clue. (Yes, XIAOBO would be great in the grid someday, and no, it hasn't appeared yet, at least not in xwordinfo's memory of NYTimes crosswords.)

sanfranman59 11:04 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 6:34, 6:50, 0.96, 34%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:32, 8:52, 0.96, 45%, Medium
Wed 11:56, 11:48, 1.01, 60%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:38, 3:40, 0.99, 50%, Medium
Tue 4:30, 4:34, 0.98, 51%, Medium
Wed 6:13, 5:51, 1.06, 71%, Medium-Challenging

oldbizmark 12:19 AM  

hate puzzles with an overabundance of three and four letter answers. not sure why, but they are almost always harder than they should be. horrible theme as well. this was a bust. finished it but it was as enjoyable as doing a USA Today puzzle (not very).

Laurence Hunt 1:13 AM  

I actually thought this one was very clever, and liked most of the theme answers, though you are right about "gone in rummy" (what?). LaRamones was great, though probably linguistically incorrect....

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

To johnv - MTA always brings that great song to mind but I think that reference was to another city - "he may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston..."
Fair puzzle, fun comments.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

1.) There is only ONE living original Ramone. I suppose you could call him La Ramone.

2.) Two many ISMs.

3.) @sparky - TRIO for "Police Setup" would have been the best clue/answer in the grid.


@ Z 5:17 PM
boner jokes have no upper age limit.
No, but if they last more than four hours call a doctor.

conbon 4:17 PM  

I read this blog every day and love the comments. Since I am in Syndiland in Seattle, all my remarks have already been covered by the time I get the puzzle. However, today I have 2 comments: at first I put in Go(one)dSquad picturing some religious fanatics, but the Gug going down didn't work. I also had to chuckle that I knew "Urdu"; I just saw "My Week with Marilyn", and Olivier states that "trying to teach Marilyn to act is like trying to teach Urdu to a badger." I also liked hearing what book Rex is reading; I'm betting all you crossword bloggers have pretty good taste in reading material; would love to hear some other book suggestions.

Red Valerian 4:22 PM  

Up here (or, at least, to me), a toque is a hat; chefs are allowed to wear them, but only outside in the winter. I see from Wikipedia that some Americans call these "beanies." I think beanies here must come with propellers on top. But I would not listen to me when it comes to hats. I'd be talking through it if I were wearing one.

Liked the puzzle, except for GONEINRUMMY. Wanted camEINRUMMY when wentINRUMMY clearly wasn't going to work. Didn't (and still don't) know who Eloise is.

captcha: culable...hmmmm...

Dirigonzo 4:53 PM  

@conbon - I too thought first of godsquad; I liked it so much that when the g didn't work I tried to rethink the answers above it, even though I knew they had to be right. My aha moment came when the ever so simple gum purchase brought the modsquad to the rescue, looking as sharp as ever.

Anonymous 3:00 AM  

Spacecraft here. This puzzle has some promise for a new constructor, but it needed a little more work. GONEINRUMMY? That doesn't even make nonsensical sense in the wacky-clue department. Agreed that STONEAGECOACH is a good shot, but you won't make many SQUADs if you only sink one out of five beyond the arc. The rest of the theme answers are "bricks." APLOMB, JETLAG, YVONNE and BOWERY try to liven up the fill, but there's plenty of other dead weight to drag it back down. Let's nip the airport-call-letter trend in the bud, if we can. At least with the hackneyed TSETSE, he didn't cut it in half and give some lame "when repeated" clue (but that was OK for LIAR, elsewhere).
Do you see the difference between your central theme entry and the others, Mr. H? (Really? Were you ever a D.A. in Perry Mason's home town?) If you see that difference, there's hope for you.

warlow: the sound cows make when they object to being turned into...

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