Sticky-leaved plant that feeds on insects / TUE 4-3-18 / Gil Blas writer / Mag mogul with mansion / Ben Adhem Leight Hunt poem / War-torn Syrian city

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Constructor: Damon Gulczynski

Relative difficulty: Medium (or Brutal, depending on how well you know certain names...)


THEME: THINK QUICKLY (67A: To understand this puzzle's theme, read the ends of the answers to the starred clues and ...) — the ends of the answers to the starred clues sound like the letters, Q, U, I, C, K, L, and Y, respectively:

Theme answers:
  • NETFLIX QUEUE (18A: *List for some binge watchers
  • "YES, YOU!" (25A: *Response to "Who, me?")
  • "MY EYE!" (29A: *"Balderdash!")
  • DEAD SEA (40A: *Lowest point on the earth's surface)
  • MARY KAY (43A: *Avon competitor)
  • KAL EL (53A: *Superman's alien name)
  • "BUT WHY?" (57A: *"For what reason, though?")
Word of the Day: LASSE Hallström (75A: "Chocolat" director Hallström)
Lars Sven "LasseHallström (Swedish: [ˈla.ˈsɛ ˈhal.ˈstrœm]; born 2 June 1946) is a Swedish film director. He first became known for directing almost all music videos by pop group ABBA, and subsequently became a feature film director. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director for My Life as a Dog (Mitt liv som hund) (1985) and later for The Cider House Rules (1999). His other celebrated directorial works include What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) and Chocolat (2000). (wikipedia) [Note: he's married to double crossword threat LENA OLIN]
• • •

[d. LASSE Hallström]
I think this is pretty cute, and, thematically, well executed. Streets ahead of lots of weekday themes. It's simple, neat, tight. The revealer actually reveals something. Theme: approved. There's one major OOF here, though, and that's the names. There are going to be boatloads of people who struggle mightily, guess, and possibly even wipe out entirely (on a Tuesday?!) because of the names. I can already see people shouting on Twitter about the HALAS / LASSE cross (say that three times QUICKLY!). They are both absolutely fair game for crosswords, but mayyyybe not crossing one another. But there were lots of other only sorta famous names, like Ned YOST, or TITUS (who was emperor for only two years). And then there were the monsters from the bottom of the crosswordese trunk that you still keep in your attic for some reason: 36A: "Gil Blas" writer (LESAGE) and 51D: "___ Ben Adhem" (Leight Hunt poem) (ABOU). These would be horrifying if I hadn't been doing crosswords for 25+ years (when they roamed the grid freely); as it is, they are merely laughable, in that those clues literally make me laugh out loud, mostly at the idea that the names "Gil Blas" or "Leigh Hunt" would be some kind of *help* at getting an answer. It's like when you look up a word, and the definition contains a word you don't know, which you then have to look up—that's what those clues are like. Gil what? Leigh who? And then there's the SUNDEW, whatever that is (50A: Sticky-leaved plant that feeds on insects). Lots and lots of opportunities to fall on your face because of not-terribly-familiar names, though the HALAS / LASSE cross is the only name pitfall that seems potentially lethal to me.

[d. LASSE Hallström]

[d. LASSE Hallström]
The puzzle is over-sized at 16-wide, so if your time was a little on the slow side, that's probably, or at least possibly, the reason. I found it fairly Tuesday-easy overall, and ended with a solidly Tuesday+ time (the "+" is with the adjustment for grid size). Biggest struggles were really mundane things. Could not wrap my head around IN THAT (16A: Because). Needed virtually every cross there, and one of those crosses was UNQUOTE, which, while really nice, was also clued kinda hard (7D: Ending "). I briefly thought the clue was incomplete or otherwise messed up. Other strange slow-down occurred at the intersection of GAG (20A: Bit of a comic) and ROGUE (14D: Animal that has strayed from the herd). First problem there was putting in HAM before GAG. But even after I took HAM out, I wasn't sure about either GA- or RO-UE. Was really looking for a more, I don't know, "herd"y word than ROGUE (also ROGUE seems more like an adjective than a noun). And GAG seems more like a [Comic's bit] than a [Bit of a comic] (i.e. that clue is doing some late-week misdirection on a Tuesday). After that, it was only SUNDEW that slowed me down in any way. Again, really enjoyed the theme, but the names were kinda out of control (and I say this as someone who actually knew them all) (except SUNDEW) (whatever that is).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

137 comments:

Anonymous 1:41 AM  

It’s funny how us science folks get the ones you complain about and miss the ones you think are easy. (I got ZEROTH a few days ago with no crosses.)

Anyway, I filled in SUNDEW without crosses. Google it, Rex. They’re cool.

JOHN X 1:51 AM  

I had a DNF (on a Tuesday!) because of the NE corner. First, I had EAUS at 10D and then I had DOGIE at 14D. And I was convinced that DOGIE was right, even though ARD at 12A made no sense. And of couse XANADU was completely lost here, even though I should have know that, but I never saw it. I suck.

Anonymous 1:51 AM  

Slower than normal, because had "dogie" for 14D - think it's a better answer.

Sam 1:53 AM  

Kalel/Lenny, Halas/Lasse, and Eaux/Xanadu got me.

chefwen 2:26 AM  

Flew through the top half, brakes slammed on the bottom. grUmpY at 46A was my biggest hang up, finally was forced to fix that and the rest went QUICKLY.

I have a mental block with Superman’s alien name and was thrilled when I remembered it tonight. Breakthrough? We’ll find out next time.
ALEPPO another ? Are there two P’s and one L or two L’s and one P? I should know this stuff.

Elaine2 2:34 AM  

Halas/Lasse almost DNFd me-- ran the alphabet at that cross until Mr. Happy Pencil showed up. Sundew I knew -- it's a plant similar to a Venus' Flytrap. "Abou" I learned from the actual poem, years ago.

I liked this theme.

jae 2:36 AM  

Tough Tues. dOGiE before ROGUE, did not remember LESAGE, did know YOST, TITUS and HALAS, did not know LESSE and SUNDEW. Clever and fun, but more Wed. than Tues. for me. Liked it.

Harryp 3:15 AM  

Twice my normal Tuesday time, but a worthwhile effort. I agree with OFL about that bunch of not so well known names. Challenging, and a good workout. I again didn't grok the Theme until THINKQUICKLY went in. I also had zANADU at 23Across, and KArEL for 53Across for longer than necessary.

John Hoffman 3:15 AM  

ALEPPO = “Groucho and Harpo’s long-lost brother”

Anonymous 3:18 AM  

I might have to start a tally for every time Rex complains about a botany related clue. I guess we all have knowledge gaps, but at least botanical words have reasonable letter combinations. As someone who doesn't know a lick of French, I sure love (hate) having to blindly trust my triple vowel combinations...

BarbieBarbie 5:15 AM  

@chefwen, me too on that mental block. I filled in JorEL. Who was that, if anyone?

Average time so I guess that means on the easy side if it’s bigger. My tough cross was LESAGE/PGA, which is silly of me. I fell for the avian misdirect, on a Tuesday. Finally got it when I randomly guessed a G. [red face]

Nice gimmick, lots of themers, easy to figure out by reading the reveal but that still didn’t turn the themers into gimmes. I enjoyed this one.

'merican in Paris 5:43 AM  

HeLAS, I DNF, weirdly because I missed two obvious answers. Was sure the air ticket abbreviation was ARv, so had vOGUE for 14D, and didn't know who the Cyclones were (who GNU?), so had aSU and thus THaNK QUICKLY.

Definitely agree that HALAS crossing LASSE was brutal, as was LESSAGE. Had "seconds" and then "minutes" for 7D (as in degrees longitude), and switched back and forth between SHE and "her" numerous times before I could finish IN THAT quadrant of the puzzle.

Took me a couple of letters before I got SUNDEW, but knew that plant well. My younger brother became obsessed with carnivorous plants at one time, and learned that they were common in the forests of northERN Florida.

Likes: TITHE, FUSSES, DEAD SEA, ROUSED.

Dislikes: YON as clued ("66A: Thither"). I suppose, technically, it is correct, but for a Tuesday I would have preferred "Thither and ___", or "Thither's partner".

TROPIC as clued ("31A: Line around the globe"). Again, I suppose that is technically correct (one definition of the word as a noun is "either of the two parallels of latitude 23°27′ north and south of the equator"). But most people will be more familiar with the TROPIC of Cancer and the TROPIC of Capricorn.

BUT the worst, IMO, is "63A: Flexible conjunction" -- i.e., AND/OR. That "conjunction", which most style guides counsel against using, especially in formal writing, has become a crutch for lazy writers, including well-educated ones. I once edited a page a document written by an economist with a recent PhD from Cambridge (UK). She seemed incapable of using just "or" by itself, and so every page had 6-8 "AND/ORs". Her defense was that it was in the dictionary. I pointed to various "salty" words that are also in the dictionary, but that were not appropriate in formal writing. But I know I'm fighting a losing battle here.

Matt 5:48 AM  

DNF on Eaux/Xanadu. Never doubted eaus

Charles Flaster 5:48 AM  

Absolutely agree with Rex—his review nails it.
Easy because the names were right up my CROSSWORDease/ skew old bailiwick.
A DNF as EAUs never changed , so sANADU was renamed.
Liked cluing for TWINKLE.
LENNY Bruce — just a beyond brilliant mind.
Thanks DG

BarbieBarbie 6:11 AM  

‘Mericans, it’s “hither and thither” or “hither and yon.” So YON for thither is fair.

Lewis 6:36 AM  

@rex -- My 7D had just a quotation mark, with no "Ending".

LENNY Bruce is one of the characters in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (an 8-episode Amazon series)l, and if you haven't seen that, it is charming and can't-look-away. Highly recommended.

When I was in my 20s, I visited the DEAD SEA, in an area where many were in the water, hoping to get health benefits from it. I had no idea how dense it was with its eye-burning and awful-tasting salt and other contents, and in a fit of excitement, I began to sprint toward the water so I could make a huge splash as I entered, as I liked to do at the beach. What followed was like a slow-motion movie scene, with people waving in horror for me to stop, shouting "No!" (or "Lo!") in low drawn-out distorted voices. (I did get the message just before I reached water's edge.)

This was a tight and very cute theme, and the theme answers are beautifully symmetrical, which took skill to pull off. It felt easier than a Wednesday should be, IMO, but was on the harder end of Tuesday, just as I like it. After the years I've been doing crosswords, I'm still amazed that I get words that I've never heard of; it feels like magic. And there were a couple of those. When the theme hit me, it made me smile. So Damon, YES YOU, it was appropriate that you ended the puzzle with YAY ME!

Dave 6:54 AM  

Rex, what do you mean by "Streets ahead of lots of weekday themes."?

RJ 7:03 AM  

Boy, did I luck out on my guesses in the SE corner. This puzzle took me about 30% longer than normal but I really enjoyed the challenge.

The NE corner took me a while after changing CEL TO GA? when I did the downs. ROGUE was totally out of my sphere of thought, something I think of as XWORDBRAIN - the answer must be XWORD and I try to adjust the surrounding words to fit. EAUS became EAUX after filling in sANADU.

SE corner - Dropped in the S for LASSE/HALAS as a guess and got the song. So LUCKY me (I hate YAYME).

Re the Superman cue - I have a mental block with some names and this is one - I always want KELAL instead of KALEL - I think I'll have to stick KALE in one of those brain places to remember this from now on. Easy to spot this time because of ALEPPO crossing SEP.

kitshef 7:24 AM  

LASSE is distinctly out of place on Tuesday. LASSE on a Friday, fine.

LESAGE is hilareously out of place on a Tuesday. LESAGE on a Saturday … maybe. Probably not.

What makes it particularly onerous is that each of these non-English names crosses an abbreviation (PGA CTA), so if you don’t know the abbrev., you’re done for.

Of course, those are just the worst offenders in a puzzle packed to the gills with obscure proper nouns.

SUNDEW is Rex’s WoE? SUNDEW?!?! I’ve know that word since I was – what - five years old?. It’s like not knowing ‘willow’ or ‘geranium’.

@BarbieBarbie – Jor-El was Kal-El’s father.

Marcie Watts 7:36 AM  

Dogie all the way. Ergo, dnf!

Birchbark 7:49 AM  

Multiple proper-noun crosses in the southwest: KAYAK & LENNY/KALEL, ALEPPO, ANN. Worked there for a while but finished.

XANADU in a puzzle with ABBA's video director LASSE. I think we had XANADU's sacred river ALPH a few days ago, though that might have been an archived puzzle.

Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes in holy dread.
For he on SUN-DEW [sic] hath fed,
And drunk the milk of paradise.

GHarris 8:03 AM  

@JOHN X took the words right out of my mouth. I was certain dogie and eaus had to be right even in the face of ard and so dnf. Nice to see Lenny Bruce continues to be remembered. He was the victim of an excessively prudish time but was a great comic of much social relevance.

QuasiMojo 8:05 AM  

Too much dreck to compile this steaming pile. IN THAT, ICE UP, YES YOU, MY EYE, ATS, MARY KAY, AND/OR, AAA, ANN, HEF, ICUS, ADS, AKA, SYS, SEP, DQED, CTA, YAY ME, etc, etc.

Having to complete a puzzle based on the phrase "Think Quickly" is about as exciting as being locked in a room and having to watch "Xanadu" with Olivia Newton John over and over again until one's eyes disintegrate. BUT WHY indeed.

mathgent 8:11 AM  

Damon G seldom disappoints. He brought a touch of class to the Tuesday puzzle.

Does the explanation of the theme in the clue for 67A seem a little fuzzy?

I did the Patrick Berry 21x21 from the ACPT yesterday. Its title is "Morel." I was reminded of it by KAL-EL. If you haven't done it, try to get a copy. It's a gem.

PoopyPants 8:12 AM  

Cute theme, but I'm not going to talk about it at all so that I can complain about some of the words used, like Sundew. What's the deal with bug eating plants???....amirite, people?

'merican in Paris 8:15 AM  

@BarbieBarbie -- You're making my point for me: the expressions are “thither and yon” or “hither, thither and yon.” If they all mean the same thing, then that (to me) is like saying "every gentleman, man and adult human male."

@Birchbark -- Nice poem. And then there is, of course:

In XANANDU did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.*

*A poetic way of referring to a field of SUNDEWs.

Two Ponies 8:18 AM  

If you get tossed out of the game
you get sent to Dairy Queen?

And Why 8:26 AM  

Comments thus far prove that people will still enjoy a puzzle they can't finish if it's tight enough to offer a challenge and some fun, especially on a TUESDAY! Andor/Abou, but why? I should have at least sussed out SemAnas.

JohnX, you may suck today but live to fight again. Onward dude.

Z 8:34 AM  

@Lewis - If I get out my magnifying glass I see a close quote mark (which may or may not appear on a screen depending on how one’s device renders " “ or ”. Like you, though, all I see is a single close quote symbol, no “ending.”

@‘merican in Paris - “and,” “or,” and “and/or” are three different conjunctions conveying three different concepts. Did she mean “and or or” or did she mean “or?” Or was she unsure of what she meant? I leave for grammar purists to ponder the full implication of “most style guides counsel against....”

@kitshef - Well, at least I know “willow” and “geranium.” I used the fact that French is sometimes close to Spanish to infer that “E.”

I’ll just leave this here. I mean, Dancing! and Roller Skates! has got to be the pinnacle art form.

The theme was pretty meh here. Spelling is just not a deep puzzle interest to me. The grid and fill I enjoyed. I thought the foreign language fill was a little more Friday than Tuesday. SEMANAS just doesn’t seem like a word that crosses over to English much, and EAU seems okay for early in the week, but EAUX doesn’t. If it were actually EAUs that would strike me as Tuesday fair. George HALAS was pretty famous, so no issue here, but he died in 1983, so I sympathize with anyone younger than, say, 50 on that crossing. But I’m casting about for nits to pick. I really enjoyed the solve.

osk journal 8:37 AM  

JorEl was Superman’s birth father, played by Marlon Brando.

Z 8:38 AM  

@Two Ponies - Just in case you aren’t joking, DisQualified.

Wm. C. 8:40 AM  


Yep, a lotta tough stuff for a Tuesday. However, I normally slap my head (metaphorically, of course) when I grok onto the answer. And a tough Tursday is normally welcome, because it's usually to easy for my taste. However, this one has too much tough stuff that I've never even heard of. I'm looking at you, ... Lesage, Sundew, Lasse, ISU, Semanas ...

I've heard of Rogue as in rogue wave, or a bad guy, but never as a stray animal.

The theme was kinda clever, coming up with a seven-letter word whose letters all were homophonically words themselves.

Loren Muse Smith 8:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 8:59 AM  

I love DJG puzzles. I liked that the words/letters were actual separate words and not just the end of words like QUEUE instead of rescue and SEA instead of fantasy.

I almost ended up with a dnf ‘cause I had “and so” first for the flexible conjunction. AND/OR is so much more flexible and in the language. I knew it’d attract the wrath of @’merican.

@chefwen - I had “grumpy” first, too. Funny how many C words indicate grumpiness: curmudgeonly, crabby, cranky, contentious, combative, confrontational, cantankerous, cross, contrary, churlish, caustic, crotchety…

I picked up on this very early on – after just the K, L, and Y. So I started writing the letters next to the clues outside the margin and was able to spell QUICKLY before I had filled in everything.

Pay attention, folks - this account of how quickly I figured out the deal, how easily I solved, is a better way of demonstrating my cleverness (and believe me, I try just like everyone else here to come across that way). By bragging in a Look at me and how smart and erudite and worthy of your admiration I am! I enter assholedom completely unassisted. Not on the back of some vibrant bright young college student.

So I posted some thoughts at the end of the comments yesterday on the shameful excoriation of Annabel’s write-up. Hope it won’t be deleted. Hint hint.

Damon – always a pleasure. Nice one.

John Morrison 9:02 AM  

I have a small garden of carnivorous plants (pitcher plants, venus fly trap) here in Chapel Hill, NC. My wife and I were thinking about adding a sundew. Have a look here

Sundew

Seth 9:11 AM  

There are two more crosses to die on, inside SEMANAS. That's not a common Spanish word at all, so if you don't really know Spanish:
The E with SUNDEW is unfair, since SUNDEW = what?
The M with EMI is unfair, since EMI = ew.

That could have been S[AEO][virtually any consonant]ANAS.

Chris Ott 9:14 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, perhaps because I remembered EAUX from junior high French and was helped by a recent re-read of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. A better clue for ANDOR would be Aragorn’s Lost Kingdom or Gondor’s Equal. ;-)

Amelia 9:20 AM  

First of all, in the print edition, it only has the ". No ending. Weird. Once I got "un" I got the rest. Not sure that was enough help.

Second, the Superman clue started a breakfast conversation, the subject of which was secret identities. We both thought as kids if you could be Superman, why not be Superman all day long? Why be Clark Kent, too? I'm sure there was a logic to it, but I can't remember what.

Third, a TERRIFIC TUESDAY puzzle. Had a lot of fun with it and even though it was easy, it proves that you can go the extra whatever and make it worth the while of a serious crossword solver.

GILL I. 9:24 AM  

Delectable Tuesday....TANGY indeed. Loved that little YES YOU OOF MY EYE section. I knew I was going to enjoy this the minute I got to "Chocolat" and the easy, for me, LASSE. I think I've seen that movie at least a dozen times. Juliette Binoche is brilliant...so is Johnny Depp and our lovely Ms. Olin. If you need a little pick-me-upper, go and rent the movie now. I promise, it will make you smile....
Had the same DOGIE/ROGUE problem. Hmmmm, now where did old Kubla Khan have his palace? XANADU of course and not clued with ABBA and yet we have LASSE directing it all. I wonder if Damon had fun connecting the dots.
We are finishing up SEMANA(s) Santa and entering the allergic Spring. I bet the SUNDEW is having a field day with all the mosquitos. I wish they ate no-seeums as well.
GILL, AKA GILLI.

Teedmn 9:41 AM  

Yesterday I bored everyone with my tour of Paris, and today nearly embarrassed myself with the incorrect plural EAUs, as others have confessed to. I tried to bring the Kubla Kahn poem to mind (just where the heck was that pleasure dome? s_N___? Ack). I finally finished the rest of the puzzle, got the theme and was able to come up with MY EYE (thanks, theme) and finish the NE.

LASSE Hallstrom's "My Life As a Dog" has to be one of my favorite films. I own it on video tape, subtitled. I would watch it over and over again when I was studying Swedish. Unfortunately, I seem unable to look away from subtitles so it never really helped me with the language. My husband loves to have the captions on when watching TV and if I'm watching the rare show with him, I always have to ask him to turn them off because that's all I see. Anyone else so trained to read, they can't help themselves?

And the SUNDEW - I once did a report on them, with a fancy, 3D cover I made with red-colored toothpicks and little round white beads glued to the ends, so no problem with that answer. We killed a pitcher plant in our house a year ago or so - too much water, I think. We were hoping it would help with the occasional bug infestation (lady bugs, box elder beetles, etc.) so it was sad to see its demise.

Thanks, Damon, I enjoyed this Tuesday that I had to work at.

Malsdemare 9:50 AM  

Sheesh, this was tough; some of those names were total blanks for me. But I knew George HALAS, and I caught the theme about halfway through so that I knew that crazy Superman name had to end in EL. Somehow I managed to get everything else (once I changed the Z to X in XANADU). But I really liked TITHE, CRUSTY, SCULPTOR, and KAYAK. I'm hoping to fly out to Philadelphia next month so KAYAK will end up bookmarked on my computer as I stalk cheap fares. I like having a challnge on Tuesday but I imagine newer (younger?) solvers will be pretty frustrated.

Foldyfish 9:54 AM  

I agree with the posters above. Being a biology teacher paid off. SUNDEW was a gimme.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

Was the THINK in the reveal a stative verb, hence requiring an adjective rather than an adverb as a modifier, making Damon, Will, Rex and the 40 or so of you who missed that fact idiots for not noticing it?

Discuss.

Nancy 10:07 AM  

Would I Natick on the KALEL/KAYAK crossing, neither of which I knew? I took an inspired guess, because KAYAK is a real word and it could have been the name of an online travel site. YAY ME. It is.

I agree with whoever said that DOGIE is a better answer than ROGUE. But since I almost always check crosses, I didn't write it in. And when I don't check crosses I get in trouble. Like writing in GRUMPY before CRUSTY at 46A. Most curmudgeons I've known have been far more GRUMPY than CRUSTY, to tell the truth.

I can't really enjoy or praise a puzzle with this many names in it. And there were a lot of what @mathgent calls "terrible threes". But I did chuckle over the revealer, so there's that. I like the double meaning: 1) where QUICKLY is an adverb and 2) where it's the object of the sentence: THINK [of] QUICKLY. So a good theme combined with meh fill.

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

“Abou Ben Adhem” is one of my favorite poems. A relative had a line from it put on his tombstone (you will be able to guess which). Do yourself a favor and read it. It’s short!

Bob Mills 10:19 AM  

Nice puzzle. Only one complaint. "Flexible conjunction" should be a single word, not two. "AND" and "OR" go together with a diagonal between them, but it's still two words. If the clue had been "flexible conjunctive word combination," then OK.

Mohair Sam 10:19 AM  

So I worked so hard and long to erase the movie "XANADU" from my mind that I took out the actual word with it. Hence I join the group with DOGIE (how could it be anything else?) and EAUS (I enjoyed high school French so much I took the second year twice). Figured ARD was an airport code I didn't know.

I always enjoy Damon Gulczynski puzzles and this was no exception. Yeah, some names were tough, but all crossed fairly. Clever theme and revealer.

You can tell a person's age by whether they dream of Shangri-La or XANADU.

The media have for some reason essentially ignored ALEPPO since the election - what's happened there is as bad a case of man's inhumanity to man as we've seen since Pol Pot.

wgh 10:20 AM  

HALA? - LAS?E was a big fat Natick for me. DNF

semioticus (shelbyl) 10:21 AM  

The West was OK in terms of proper nouns: KALEL, LENNY, TITUS, ARIEL, ELLIOT are both crossword- and popular culture-friendly names. The East, though. Oh my. ABOU HALAS/LASSE (wtf?) LESAGE XANADU YOST.

That being said, it is impressive that a grid this claustrophobic and a fill this potentially disastrous play like an early-week puzzle. At one point I thought I would be done with it in 3x my average time. I was only slightly above it.

The best thing that works for this puzzle is the theme. If it were some obscure thing, it would have failed miserably. But it holds the puzzle together despite having 7 themers+revealer. I also liked that there were some clues that looked like the answers would be in past tense or plural, but weren't. That's a neat early week trick (for lack of a better word) to employ.

I wish it were more pleasurable to solve, but hey, it is one of the better Tuesdays.

GRADE: B-, 3.05 stars.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

To contribute to the great YON controversy, it's my understanding that hither, thither, and said correspond, resp., to here, there, and over there. I think some other languages also use words that carry the meaning “at some distance.”

Roo Monster 10:26 AM  

Hey All !
A nice spelling/sound puz. But, did it have to be 16 wide? No is the answer. Move MYEYE and ALEPPO up or down one column, and have three blocks after 10A and before 67A, and it would've been a fine 15x15. But hey, more puzzle for your buck.

Blanked on the X in XANADU. Why? It's a common enough thing to know. Ugh. Had an S, then a Z. Also a DNF with SaMANAr, with SUNDEW a WOE (have never heard of said plant, as much as y'all say it's common), and ROarED for ROUSED. A bit of a crispier TuesPuz. (Didn't want to use "crunchy", as it's said to be over used.)

BUTWHY is common child-ese. This is a nice puz for @M&A, 28 3's, 12 U's.

Anyone remember the IM thingie ICQ? Supposedly meant I Seek You. ICUS reminded me of that.

So, random rumblings aside, an enjoyable puz AND/OR time waster. No YAY ME today, though. UNQUOTE. :-)

EAT MOR Chicken! (Where is KFC poster?)
RooMonster
DarrinV

Malsdemare 10:27 AM  

SomeoneI know is pretty CRUSTY this am, complaining that the Final Four isn't on CBS as it usually is. So rather than take himself to one of the other TVs in the house that have cable, he watched WKRP and then groused to me this morning.

The publisher I work for wants editors to choose between "and" and "or." That requires a careful read of the sentence to determine what is really intended and generally leads to a cleaner meaning. But I use it in casual conversation all the time. A former editor told me once that she was so trained in the arcaneness of writing that she couldn't read the Harry Potter books. That made me sad. I'll grant you that I when I encounter egregiously bad writing in books, I stop reading, but most of the "errors" in Potter are the result of a different set of grammar rules in GB. I can overlook/ignore/ fail to see those. And I thank God for that. When I tell people I have a PhD in Communication, they often become very self-conscious of their speech. I hate that; I don't ever want someone to police their speech or writing to the extent that they clam up. I save my corrections for my children and my job.

@LMS I missed your post yesterday so just detoured to read it. The next sound you hear is thunderous applause.

Guess Mr. Mal isn't the only CRUSTY one here today. Time to take 85 lb puppy to obedience class. Wish me luck!

kitshef 10:33 AM  

@Teedmn 9:41 - boy do I share that problem. We stayed at a B&B recently that had closed captioning set up on our TV and as we watched Miss Marple (the good one, Geraldine McEwan) I was forced to read the subtitles, even though it was already in English.

Hartley70 10:34 AM  

I didn't find the names difficult. Predictably I didn't know the sporty YOST or HALAS, but the crosses helped. Everything else was in the memory bank. Oh except SUNDEW, but I like the idea of it so much that I'll give it a pass.

I did yesterday's puzzle too and adored the Paris theme. My husband took me there for the weekend on our first date. I remember walking across the PONTNEUF in midnight fog as if we were the only people in the city, when out of the mist came a friend from NYC. It was such a small world even in 1972.

'merican in Paris 10:35 AM  

@LMS -- Is flexibility the be-all and end all? If that's the case, should we strive for imprecision? Here's two examples, the second of which tries to express the same idea using "flexible" words:

"The comedian moved me to teary laughter."

"A person touched me."

Obviously a lot of considerations go into deciding when to be precise and when to be brief, even if less precise. But I would not hold up flexibility as anything more than a neutral property of a word, not a virtue per se.

@Z -- She took the simple way out, assuming that "and/or" would cover all contingencies. Actually, I would argue that there is "and", the inclusive "or" (equivalent to "and/or") and the exclusive "or"; the latter two should be clear from the way the sentence is constructed. I've the impression that the inclusive vs. exclusive distinctions are not taught much in school anymore, if at all.

Three and I'm out.

Tom 10:36 AM  

Three times longer than my usual Tuesday times. Last entry was the U in ABOU. Thought I had finished with all squares filled in, but no happy pencil. Had to go back to clean up DnfD to DQED, UfQUOTE (???) To UNQUOTE (Also only had the single quote mark on the clue in my phone). The fixes took longer to fix than my initial fill. But a good (tough) puzzle for a Tuesday.

Whatsername 10:37 AM  

I liked it. Theme is clever with a few challenging clues so not too easy. Well done!

Mohair Sam 10:39 AM  

LENNY Bruce a favorite from our youth, a true ground-breaker. He's a recurring character on the delightful Amazon series "The Amazing Mrs. Maisel". We binged it in two days.

jb129 10:41 AM  

I caught on right away, so I thought it was on the easy side. Really enjoyed it!

emily 10:46 AM  

Same here. Dogie or maverick,

Nancy 10:50 AM  

Thanks to @Birchbark and @'merican for quoting one of the most beautiful poems in the English language.

To @Loren (8:59 and late yesterday): I hesitate to argue with you, since you're out there in the teaching trenches while I'm sitting comfortably in my apartment, but is anyone really doing Annabel a favor by letting "Me and a friend went" slide? Don't you think it's better for her to hear it on this blog where nothing is at stake for her, rather than have it cost her a plum first job in book publishing or a chance to write for a newspaper or admission to a top law school? People judge the construction "Me and so-and-so did whatever" as being badly educated and quite possibly lower-class as well. The question isn't really whether people ought to make those judgments. The fact is that they do. Many of you here thought that Annabel was kidding around, and maybe she was. I hope she was. But if she wasn't, she should be aware that saying or writing "Me and a friend" can jump up and bite her in the ass some day. So perhaps I've been more potentially helpful to her in the future than those of you who were more sparing of her feelings yesterday.

Amelia 10:52 AM  

Oh I forgot. I was in Natick, MA this weekend at my nephew's house. They had no idea. I had to explain it several times. I had to show them the internet proof.

There's something funny about people who live in Natick not knowing how famous their town is. And a very nice town it is.

Banana Diaquiri 11:02 AM  

the UNQUOTE is a tad unfair. yes, in true typesetting, there are two (more or less) distinct quote marks, depending on how hard you squint. in most cases, however, just one glyph serves both ends of the quotation. naughty.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

@Nancy - I assume that you meant to say "if she weren't, she should...", or are you badly educated and/or from a lower class background?

No one here, or authoring the blog, is submitting their work for critique from, obviously unqualified, grammarians. Please stop.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Two Ponies 11:09 AM  

@ Nancy, I agree that it is far better to hear about grammar here than in the real world. The subject might have gotten beaten to death but they always do. At least she wasn't talking about pre-salting her streets!

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

@anon 11:08: Hear, hear!

Ellen S 11:26 AM  

I also had Jor-El for a while (hi, @BarbieBarbie!), thanks, others, for identifying him. I haven’t been watching the new Superman movies and the comics were a loooong time ago. LASSE and HALAS were gimmes, though.

Just want to add, I liked this especially because it might have been filled with variously obscure names, but no roadside bombs or evil dictators. It left me feeling good, and, well, I solve on the iPad with Puzzazz, but for someone doing it in a newspaper, I think it’s nice to have one little spot that doesn’t involve bloodshed and cruelty.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

@Anonymous 11:20: What? What?

JC66 11:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
old timer 11:33 AM  

I'm with @'merican in Paris today. (And I hope his is still in a good marriage, as he used to be @Mr 'mericans), put in ARv instead of my original ARR because I wanted to pronounce ROGUE as rog-you. Since when is a dogie calf a ROGUE?'

I am home again after four mornings in a Portland suburb that has a desktop computer that is incredibly slow, so much so that commenting here would have been a disaster. I need a desktop to comment with even though 90% of my use of the Internet is via my iPhone.

Gotta go back to yesterday's comments to catch up with @lms.

Joseph Michael 11:37 AM  

Rex's review is spot on. Clever and well-executed theme but name-heavy fill that makes the whole thing sag a little. Crashed twice during the solve -- at the EAUX/XANADU and HALAS/LASSE crossings -- but enjoyed it overall.

Swimming in the DEAD SEA is a memorable experience (hey,@lewis) There is so much salt that it is almost impossible not to float and when you finally emerge from the water, your body is literally white from the salt residue. You need to jump into a fresh water pool to unsalt yourself.

Z 11:39 AM  

@‘MiP - So she didn’t really know what she meant each time it seems. Hey, it happens. As for the “inclusive ‘or,’” I think it has disappeared in any context other than logic discussions. At least a quick search only turned up lots and lots of logic hits. In my experience “or” almost exclusively means one or the other, not one or the other or both. If I want my reader to clearly understand that there are three options I am going to use “and/or,” not hope they realize that “or” can sometimes means either or both.

@Nancy - If I were a prof and someone used that construction in formal writing I was grading I would have circled it in red and written the word “grammar” on it. If it were a creative writing course, on the other hand, I’d wonder if it was consistent with the voice of the work. If it were Rex and the construction bothered me I might note it. But those aren’t the situations at hand. For me, it’s not even that someone mentioned it. It’s the self-righteous seeming tsk tsking ad nauseum about something that barely rises to the level of a faux pas in the context of a crossword blog.

@Two Ponies - Are you suggesting my third comment on pre-salting may have been excessive? I’ll take that with a grain of salt and not take it as rubbing salt in a wound.

@anon11:08 - What an interesting way to interpret those comments. Silly me, I just thought people remembered their travels fondly and were sharing those pleasant memories.

JC66 11:40 AM  

@Wm C

Think ROGUE elephant.

@LMS

Your subtle "C" word = grumpy omission had me in stitches.

jberg 11:43 AM  

Yet once more we learn how different our various wheelhouses are. I learned about the SUNDEW in grade school, along with the Venus fly trap and the pitcher plant, and found the notion of plants that eat insects so fascinating that I've never forgotten it. Until today, I'd have said that everyone felt the same fascination, but apparently not.

George HALAS was a gimme because I grew up in Packerland (Sturgeon Bay, WI), where we regarded him the same way KAL-EL regarded Lex Luthor. But I didn't expect younger people living further from Green Bay to know that.

@Lewis, @Z, and others -- I thought Rex typed just to show that it was the smart quotation mark for used at the end -- something that can't be typed in the font in use here.

@Mohair Sam -- I think the coverage of Aleppo decreased because the fighting there mostly ended in December 2016, as the government took complete control of the city.

@Loren, I missed that yestereday -- thanks for mentioning it. "Me and my friend" isn't just a way of saying "my friend and I," it's expressing aparticular air of down-to-earthness. I refer everyone to that eminent grammarian Huddie Ledbetter. That was just the lyrics -- you can hear him singing it here.

Missy 11:48 AM  

Nancy, you were far from the first blogger to mention it - you were piling on and on and on. People just tune you out.

Carola 11:55 AM  

Nice puzzle! A creative take on the "last word" theme, lively theme answers, and the double reveal of THINK QUICKLY and THNK, "QUICKLY" (UNQUOTE).
Easy here, but that's just due to the accretion of years and crossword experience, e.g., still having images of Papa Bear George HALAS pacing on the sidelines (remember when coaches used to wear those fedoras?) and dredging up KAL-EL from earlier grids. Lots of other nice entries, too: STEAMIER, FOAMY, TANGY, STUPORS, TWINKLE.
Quite a few "oohs" echoing around: GNU, XANADU, YES YOU, SUNDEW, ICUS, ISU, DQED, ABOU.

Bagelboy 11:59 AM  

same problems as everyone JOREL/ EAUS/ ALLEPO. And one i dont see in the comment yet. I had ROVER for ROGUE. The names were mostly familiar to me (HALAL, YOST, LENNY, ANN) Worked through it all and ended up with an enjoyable average Tuesday time.

GILL I. 12:11 PM  

@Anony 11:08: Both work. Weren't is an archaic strategy. Be vewy vewy careful when criticizing on this blog.
@Hartley: My first romantic date with (my now( husband was Disneyland! Had he taken me to Paris, I would not have waited a year to marry him!

michiganman 12:17 PM  

I knew about half the names and most others fell with crosses. I, like others, got snared in the NE by dOGiE & EAUs, giving me sANADi. Flat out did not see or even know XANADU so googled. Maybe I should have been DQED but I had fun doing the rest of the puzzle.

Pete s 12:24 PM  

@LMS I hope you don’t mind me stealing from you but my notes app is getting full of quotes from you. It started a few months ago with a comment you made that stated with “But one thing sends me from zero to asshole in under two seconds: publicly correcting someone’s grammar” and went on to include a discription of your class room.

The discription of your class I’ve sent to a few teacher friends on mine. Everyone enjoyed it. The other grammar quotes I’m saving for this summer to give to the grammar nazi or သေနာကောင် who sits around our campfire sipping bourbon and publicly correcting others.

I look forward to your comments as much as rex’s And Amanda’s

College prof 12:36 PM  

@Anonymous 11:08: Turns out that @GILL (12:11) is right and @Nancy (10:50) wasn't (not weren't) wrong. The subjunctive is tricky. Here is a guide to using it correctly.

First Anon 11:08 12:44 PM  

@Gill I - Of course it wasn't is OK, it's just that weren't is the classically correct subjunctive in the case, as Nancy used, where we are assuming the outcome contrary to fact. Weren't isn't archaic, it just isn't respected that much. I was making the point that if you are going to deign to correct someone's grammar other than your own, you had better be perfect, which Nancy wasn't. I would never have corrected Nancy for that particular usage except for the fact that she's espousing publicly correcting others, lest they seem badly (were they in fact badly educated rather than merely poorly educated? Was there actual malevolence going on there or merely incompetence?) or of a lower class.

First Anon 11:08 12:51 PM  

@College prof - No she wasn't, for exactly the reason your cite. There is no "fact" here, other than in Annabel's mind. What Nancy did is posit a possibility - that Annabel did x the hypothesis here (what substitutes for the fact in your citation), and then offered speculation contrary to that hypothesis . Hence were/wasn't.

CDilly52 1:06 PM  

AMEN!

CDilly52 1:08 PM  

I agree. This was one of those days that trivia and geographical usage seems to have contributed to hard or easy. I marked it easy (for a change), at least from my frame of reference.

Hartley70 1:12 PM  

@Gill I. 12:11pm We were married in '73. I'm no dope.

Joe Bleaux 1:41 PM  

@Loren, an anonymouse took Nancy to task for saying "If she wasn't" instead of "If she weren't," but I think Nancy was correct. IN THAT "If she wasn't" refers to an actual, factual, it doesn't call for the subjunctive "If she weren't," does it? Please make a call on this. And while I have your ear: I noticed your use of "all of THE sudden." Is "all of A sudden" incorrect? A regional thing, maybe? (I'd bet nine out of 10 folks in, say, Lilburn would say "A" sudden.) Thanks!

WTR 1:43 PM  

Think here is 'consider' and used correctly.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

Overall a very satisfying Tuesday for me. I had no issue remembering HALAS, LASSE or EAUX; the theme was a little tough, but I had enough crosses, etc. to finish. No complaints today, for a change!

self hating grammar nazi 2:04 PM  

While we're at it....Pete's "me stealing" is incorrect. The gerund "my stealing" should have been used.
Sorry...

Joe Bleaux 2:08 PM  

@Nancy, as you may know by now, an anonymouse will say your use of "If she wasn't" is incorrect, and that you should have said "If she weren't." I think you were correct, because the subjunctive mood wasn't in play. But to be sure, I directed a post to @Loren asking her to make a call. I hope my post gets posted, and that Loren sees it and responds. I recognize her as the expert on these things.

WTR 2:10 PM  

This puzzle was (is? grammarians better weigh in on this!) a joy for me. Few answers were 'gimmes,' but enjoyed building them with crosses and getting nice little 'aha' moments in greater number than normal.

Disagree with those backing 'dogie' rather than 'rogue.' Dogie is the most common response to 'animal that has strayed from herd,' but 'rogue' also accurate, though less common for the same reference (this comes more from my experience with stock and professional stockmen than the dictionary) - and I appreciate the less common answer throwing the solver for a loop - exercises the brain cells in a good way - thinking creatively about associations rather than just trying to dig up a memory.

From the comments above, it appears that I had to derive fills from crosses at or above the rate for most commenters, but that provided interest, not disappointment.

Overall, this was just what I seek in a puzzle - perhaps a little tougher than normal for the day, but not arcane, and calling on creative thinking across the board- fill was nicely balanced across the grid (not a cinch in one corner and a killer in another).

Anonymous 2:18 PM  

self hater,
Me loves gerunds!! (I do, actually). But what I really want to talk about is Halas. For all intents and purposes he invented the NFL. And the NFL is far and away the country's most popular sport. In fact, it routinely has twelve or fifteen of the year's highest rated TV shows. All of which is to say, not knowing Halas is like not knowing Abner Doubleday ( worse, really, owing to the apocryphal nature of good old Abner and baseball's' cosmology).

Don't get me started about sundews. Sheesh.

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

@ joe,

The subjunctive was most certainly play. It was contemplating a state contrary to fact, ergo its the definition of subjunctive.

Nancy 2:21 PM  

@Hartley (10:34) -- Your now-husband took you to Paris for the weekend on your first date? YOUR NOW-HUSBAND TOOK YOU TO PARIS FOR THE WEEKEND ON YOUR FIRST DATE???!!! You never told me that! At least I don't think you did. It sounds like something out of a Woody Allen movie -- one of his more romantic. We have to talk, and soon!

@GILL (12:11) -- I absolutely love your "taken to Disneyland" rejoinder to @Hartley. So funny. And, btw, thanks for your much appreciated support on the subjunctive usage. You, too, @College prof (12:36).

tea73 2:21 PM  

HALAS/LASSE killed me. But if Lasse really did do all the ABBA videos as well as the well reviewed movies, I guess he's fair.

I've heard of Venus Flytraps and Pitcher Plants, but not SUNDEWS not sure why.

Don't know Spanish but SEMANAS is pretty close to semaines which I do know.

For some reason I had no problem with ABOU even though it turns out it's not the poem I thought it was.

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

Tea73,

Check out the movie My life as a Dog. It's by Hallstrom and it's as sweet as anything ever put on celluloid.

3 and out....

Pete 2:35 PM  

The phrase "badly educated and quite possibly lower-class as well" just set my teeth on edge. It reminded me of an incident back in the '70s. My mother had to mentor a new hire, a recent Emory graduate just up from Atlanta, and she helped her get adjusted to the job and New Jersey. We lived in South City; there as also a North City and a Just Plain City. Just Plain City had a large African American population, had experienced riots several years prior, about 50 years ago tomorrow, and had this huge invisible wall around it, protecting us in South City and North City from the scourge that was the population that made up Just Plain City.

Little Susie Q from Atlanta couldn't understand how it could be possible that none of the dozens of apartment complexes in North City had any vacancies. Not a single one. My mother laughed and suggested that she just stop by one to visit in person, and lo and behold, there were a multitude of apartments for the taking. It seemed that her accent, when coupled with her pretty blonde hair and white face wasn't quite so "badly educated and quite possibly lower-class as well" as it seemed over the phone.

webwinger 2:36 PM  

Anyone who’s spent much time in or near Chicago is likely to have heard of HALAS Hall, home of the Bears management organization. Too far out in the burbs to reach using the CTA. I finished this in less than average Tuesday time. Proper names I either knew or suspected in nearly every case.

I too spent last weekend in Natick MA. Kept quiet about its xword fame because I wasn’t sure if it’s used throughout Crossworld, or just in the @Rex fiefdom. Nu?

ColoradoCog 2:45 PM  

I don’t usually like early-week puzzles, but I enjoyed this one. Better theme than what we usually see on Tuesdays by far.

I didn’t notice the overabundance of proper names while I was solving, but in retrospect I can see Rex’s point.

phil phil 3:02 PM  

Thought for sure it was HALAk/LASkE but a gues either way

Wm. C. 3:28 PM  

@JC66 11:40am --

Re your "Think Rogue Elephant" comment as explaining the clue "Animal that has strayed from the pack:"

I think of a Rogue Elephant as one which has shed its normal docility, and is madly charging at someone or something. Not exactly straying ...

Z 3:34 PM  

Subjunctive debates? Can’t we please just stick to Pre-Salting and Thoroughfare rants?

JC66 3:41 PM  
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JC66 3:43 PM  
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JC66 3:45 PM  

@Wm C

Per Merriam-Webster , it appears the clue for ROGUE works.

Hungry Mother 3:51 PM  

Riding high after my alma mater’s victory last night over the Wolverines, but this tough Tuesday slammed me back to earth. DOGIE hung on for quite a while, until I finally read the clue for ARR. SUNDEW brand new to this old crusty guy. Anyhoo, I got ‘er done.

OISK 4:04 PM  

Were I more circumspect, I would hesitate to weigh in on the subjunctive controversy, but I think Nancy is correct. The use of "were" to replace "was" after "if" or "I wish" or "Would that..." is ( as I learned it) PRESENT subjunctive. I wish that Trump weren't President. I'd have been happier if Obama was never a nominee. If I were smarter, I would doubt that I was ever a decent writer.

I don't mind being corrected at all, if I was wrong.

Really liked the tough puzzle, and didn't find the theme until I was completely done. Last letter in was the "A" on Lasse. No idea, really, but after CT... and "A" for authority seemed probable.

Sydney 4:05 PM  

I had to memorize a lot of poetry in the sixth grade. The only poem I liked...and still remember...is Abou ben Adhem. If you don’t know it, it’s online...very nice poem. I studied lit in college and had no trouble with Gil Blas...it’s not obscure. On the other hand Halas crossing Lasse was not gonna happen...I never heard of either one (along with Yost, but was able to fill that one in thanks to the crosses). I never heard of sundew, but again, I was able to get it due to crosses. I am going to go google it right now...sounds like a fine plant!

Suzie Q 4:17 PM  

@ Pete 2:35,
Hey I've never even been to Atlanta!
But I do have blond hair.

Not knowing that director gave me trouble but it sounds like I need to rent that movie. Crossing that with a football name was a bit much.

All of this grammar stuff is getting out of hand.

JFe 4:21 PM  

@LMS

Kudos for late comment yesterday

@Nancy

It seems your attempt to educate Annabel has come back to bite you in the ass.

Mohair Sam 4:21 PM  

@Pete (2:35) - Yeah, we love Nancy here, but that comment set my teeth on edge too - glad you said something. I'm thinking she'd swallow the "low class" part of it if she could. Interesting that the commentariat took offense to her grammar in the post, but until you, no one was offended by her insult to folks born to the wrong parents.

@jberg - ALEPPO's past year has been less tragic, but the place is still full of suffering - including families exiled by the regime and women forced by aid agencies to give sex to get food for their families. Exactly the kind of compelling stories that CNN and NPR used to bring us on a regular basis. So many news agencies are now spending most of their time and assets digging for ways to get Trump out of office that I believe we are missing a lot of what is happening around the world.

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

I had thought dogie was specifically an orphaned calf. As in "got along li'l...." Let me consult the all-knowing web.

Masked and Anonymous 4:25 PM  

PEKOETEA. JOCKITCH. SAYHEY. HOLIDAYINN. MARRIEDMYEX, Damon G.

staff weeject pick (yo and nice accountin, @Roo): ARR.

Masked & Anonymo12Us


**gruntz**

Anonymous 4:31 PM  

After 15min of exhaustive internet research, I'm here to report that "dogie" seems to refer primarily to an orphaned calf and only secondarily a calf that has strayed from its mother. Such orphans were commonly fed a paste of flour and water and grew pot-bellied. Dogie is a corruption of dough-guts.

Moly Shu 4:34 PM  

@Z, I spent yesterday reading and re-reading obscure judicial decisions concerning freedom of/from religion. I was so fired up that me and a friend went out and pre-salted the thoroughfares in my neighborhood. How’d I do?
Liked the puzzle, but I knew HALAS and KALEL. They helped me out.

sanfranman59 4:41 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 4:21 4:18 1.01 53.3% Medium
Tue 6:17 5:37 1.12 72.0% Medium-Challenging

I had a little trouble in the NE with this one. XANADU didn't come to mind because I made the mistakes of entering EAUs before EAUX for 10D (my non-English language weakness strikes again), dOGiE before ROGUE 14D and I thought ARd was an airport code on the air ticket. But I was pretty certain that sANADi couldn't be right and then XANADU clicked.

I thought the theme was pretty clever, though it was difficult to find the starred clues solving online and I didn't make sense of it until after I'd submitted my solution. TITUS, XANADU, LESAGE, SUNDEW and, especially, LASSE were all flies in my ointment. I think that's more than usual on a Tuesday. OTOH, I was pleased that I came up with ABOU and SEMANAS without much help this time around. I guess I'm not a complete non-English dolt.

Joe Dipinto 5:10 PM  

Chuckles the Clown was killed by a rogue elephant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

@Dave 6:54 -- I looked it up: "Streets ahead of..." is a Britishism meaning "Far superior to..." Then I reread Rex's review while hearing the whole thing being recited in John Cleese's voice.

Oh yeah, the puzzle. I thought it was great. Crosses were fair, imo. My one brain-fart moment came after finishing the SW and thinking, "who is Bruce Lenny?"

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."
Here's the Leigh Hunto poem, so you will get the clue next time.

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

The joke, of course, is that the list is in alphabetical order. Am I the only one whose parents read poetry while growing up?

Joe Dipinto 5:32 PM  

@JoeBleaux 1:41 - fwiw, I agree with you and @Nancy, for the reason you mentioned. The point in question was that "maybe she was" kidding around or "maybe she wasn't" kidding around. Using the subjunctive form "If she weren't kidding around" to introduce the next thought would suggest that she's definitely kidding around. Let's see what LMS thinks.

JC66 5:56 PM  

@ Moly Shu

Loved "me and a friend..."

michiganman 6:03 PM  

Lenny Bruce was a stand up comedian who died in 1966 at age 40. He was controversial, a bit like George Carlin but far edgier, more like Bill Hicks, who also died way too young. He's worth reading about. A 1974 movie about his life, "Lenny", starred Dustin Hoffman and Valerie Perrine.

sanfranman59 6:36 PM  

I've read through some more of the comments here and am flabbergasted that the grammar discussion has continued, virtually unabated. I wonder if Annabel realizes what she hath wrought. Did I conjugate that verb properly, grammar police?

Malsdemare 6:42 PM  

Oh, Jeez, a real trip down memory lane with some of these last commemts. MTM at Chuckles' funeral, Bill Hicks and the Hot Licks, which led me, inexorably, to "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly." Thanks for the giggles.

Joe Dipinto 6:55 PM  

@First Anon 12:51 -- there's no outcome contrary to a hypothesis involved. From the guidelines College Prof linked to:

Do not use the subjunctive form (even with a tantalizing "if" in the sentence) when the intent is merely to convert an *is* idea to the past tense.

That's all that's going on here:

"Maybe she is/was kidding. If she is/was, then x."
"Maybe she isn't/wasn't kidding. If she isn't/wasn't, then x."

michiganman 6:57 PM  

You are confusing Bill Hicks(comedian) and Dan Hicks(Hot Licks).

semioticus (shelbyl) 7:00 PM  

OK, I will leave the link to a brilliant essay by David Foster Wallace here since people seem to eagerly continue the grammar debate.

It is long, and you need to focus to be able to read Wallace -one of my favorite authors-, but it should be worth your time.

Aketi 7:04 PM  

My favorite was NETFLIX QUEUE.

Well, my lower middle class roots are definitely kicking in with all the subjunctive conversations. At the time that I went through high school they did not teach English grammar at all. We did learn stream of consciousness writing. I only learned about the subjunctive in French class. I liked French because it had grammar rules that made sense even if there are words that I will never be able to pronounce properly. The only thing that did not make sense was labeling objects as feminine or masculine. I never understood how the subjunctive was used in Spanish. It seemed like it was used more frequently and randomly. Quechua was even worse. So somehow I managed to sneak into an Ivy League school and get a PhD and still not really learn proper grammar. I did manage to survive the thesis secretary who was a nit picker par excellence. I still have nightmares that she rejected my dissertation and then I wake up and breath a sigh of relief that I never have to write something so long and tedious again in my life.

jberg 7:30 PM  

@Wm C., @JC66 - As I understand it, a ROGUE elephant has been expelled from the herd, rather than straying from it—but that’s close enough for crosswords.


@Mohair Sam, I agree more Aleppo coverage would be a good thing— just saying it’s disappearance was less due to the election than to the principle of “If it bleeds, it leads.”

GILL I. 8:21 PM  

@Aketi.....I'll never....ever...understand why it's LA RADIO. Hell, it ends in O.

Joe 8:26 PM  

@lorenmusesmith I appreciated your comments yesterday.

Barry Frain 8:34 PM  

Oh for the love of God!! Today the endless debate is over the subjunctive?!?!

I rephrase what I said yesterday: do you really have nothing better than do than to argue over grammar usage on a crossword puzzle blog?

Bone up on your Urdu and/or learn how to clean a fish. Volunteer at a homeless shelter and/or take up ham radio. Sign up for a night class in flower arranging. Hell, join the church choir and silently fart during practice, leaving all to wonder who's blowing the booty coughs. But for god's sake spare us your tedious colloquys over meaningless ephemera.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

Mohair Sam 9:24 PM  

@jberg (7:30) - Unfortunately you're right.

Anonymous 10:38 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BarbieBarbie 10:39 PM  

@Barry, do what I do. Skip all the grammar stuff and go right to the part where @Mals quotes Les Nessman’sBest Line Ever. Ohhhh... Mr. Graaaaant...(sniff)

Joe Dipinto 11:05 PM  

@Barry Frain East Biggs CA -- Do you really have nothing better to do than rephrase what you said yesterday? You have a standing invitation to not read, participate in, or comment on side discussions you don't find up to your standards. Now go watch some green paint dry.

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