7.16.2009

THURSDAY, July 16, 2009 — Jack McInturff


Theme: "And what would you like on that?" — Theme answers begin with a type of spreadable condiment.

Theme answers:
  • 16A: Old-fashioned remedy for chest colds (MUSTARD PLASTER).
  • 26A: Rochester medical center (MAYO CLINIC).
  • 36A: "Black Bottom Stomp" jazz pianist (JELLY ROLL MORTON). Before I had figured out the theme I tried to fit Earl "Fatha" Hines in this spot. He's my go-to jazz pianist.
  • 43A: Lima variety (BUTTER BEAN).
  • 58A: Bettor's question, and a hint to this puzzle's theme (WHAT'S THE SPREAD).
Crosswordese 101: I always get a kick out of the random people that show up in the puzzle (some of them again and again and again...). Today we've got 14A: Novelist Bagnold (ENID). Now she's definitely not a nobody. She wrote a little book called National Velvet that you may have heard of. But that's not the real reason she keeps popping up in puzzles. No, it's because her name has good letters. Sometimes I just have to be honest about things that might result in hurt feelings. It's why I get paid the big bucks. Of course ENID isn't always Bagnold, sometimes it's Sir Geraint's wife, sometimes it's children's author Blyton, and sometimes (probably most of the time) it's an Oklahoma city, home to Vance Air Force Base.

Tonight I'm pondering a deep question. How the hell do Rex and Orange do it every day, day after day, for years on end. Sometimes I just don't feel like blogging. I mean, I Just Don't Feel Like It. And yet I feel a responsibility to my co-bloggers and to our readers and, especially, to someone who might stumble upon this blog and like the way I write so much that they offer me an actual job. Shut up, it could happen.

So, I'm going to go ahead and get the ball rolling today, but I really want to hear from you all in the comments. Honestly, when you guys jump in and start chatting about the puzzle, it feels really good. And when you talk about how you're getting better at solving? Well, that totally makes my day. So let's hear about it: What did you like? What tripped you up? What came to you easily today that would have been difficult for you last month? If you're one who has switched over from the old TMS puzzle, are you getting used to this one? And why the heck is there always one red letter in the grid at the top of the day's post? (Of course I'm kidding about that last one. The FAQ is coming soon — promise!)

Of note:
  • 6A: Astro's cap insignia (STAR). I kept wanting it to be letters that stand for the city. HSTN? I don't know, after seeing DLR yesterday, it didn't seem completely out of the question.
  • 15A: Basic language trio opener (AMO). This clue had me completely baffled. I thought the answer should be ABC, but could tell that didn't really make sense. And what word is basic modifying here? Is Latin considered a basic language? Or is AMO, AMAS, AMAT considered a basic trio? Does it matter? Well, now that you mention it, no. No, it does not.
  • 19A: Ballpark souvenirs (YEARBOOKS). Me: "Foam fingers? Hot dogs? Wait, a hot dog's not a souvenir...."
  • 23A: Marshlike (MIRY). Ooh, there's that word again. I'm going to start using miry the way people use gnarly. What? People don't say gnarly any more? Damn.
  • 49A: Course half (NINE). Golf!
  • 51A: __ proprietor (SOLE). When I first scanned this clue, the word proprietor looked like a foreign word to me. I thought it was something in Spanish that I'd never heard of, so I just passed it by. When I came back to it I felt kind of stupid.
  • 62A: In concert (AS ONE). As in "people working in concert" with one another. Not as in Aerosmith — Live In Concert!
  • 61A: Heifetz's teacher (AUER). No idea.
  • 65A: Seed covering (TESTA). What kind of seed? Sounds dirty.
  • 3D: "__-daisy!" (UPSA). Had upsy then upsi and finally UPSA.
  • 12D: He "used to be the next president" (GORE). Not to start a whole political thing, but it's weird to think about how things might be different right now if Gore had won that Supreme Court case and been president instead of Bush. I almost wonder if things would have turned out so different that Obama (who, IMOO, is the coolest president ever) wouldn't be in office right now. This mental exercise would be really fun if only I still smoked pot.
  • 22D: Pond film (SCUM). Eww.
  • 52D: Speed skater who won "Dancing With the Stars" (OHNO). I like this clue way better than the standard "This can't be!" or "How terrible!"
  • 53D: Spittoon user's sound (PTUI). I repeat, Eww.
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: Resort off Venezuela (ARUBA); 10A: Witty sort (WAG); 13A: Rodeo competitor (ROPER); 20A: Air (TUNE); 21A: Comparative words (AS AN); 22A: Household nickname (SIS); 32A: Golfer's traction aid (CLEAT); 34A: Border on (ABUT); 35A: Pay closing (-OLA); 40A: Gray's "The Bard," e.g. (ODE); 41A: __-mutuel (PARI); 42A: Chutzpah (NERVE); 47A: Pay attention to (HEED); 48A: Not squander (USE); 53A: 1892 Leoncavallo opera (PAGLIACCI); 60A: Choreographer Reinking (ANN); 63A: Place for a ring (TOE); 64A: Gets faint (DIMS); 1D: College football's Black Knights (ARMY); 2D: Lecherous sort (ROUE); 4D: Unwelcome exposure (BETRAYAL); 5D: Spirited horses (ARABS); 6D: Arizona cultural resort (SEDONA); 7D: Toll rd. (TNPK.); 8D: Is indisposed (AILS); 9D: Nutritional fig. (RDA); 10D: '60s dance (WATUSI); 11D: Call from the flock (AMEN); 17D: Knock around (ROAM); 18D: English blue cheese (STILTON); 23D: Flipping burgers, e.g. (MCJOB); 24D: __ Diable: old penal colony site (ILE DU); 25D: Subleased (RELET); 27D: "Boola Boola" singer (YALIE); 28D: On a slant: Abbr. (OBL.); 29D: Quasimodo's "our" (NOTRE); 30D: 15-Across, translated (I LOVE); 31D: Worked with wicker (CANED); 33D: Work on a galley (TYPESET); 37D: Like inverted Jenny stamps (RARE); 38D: Poetic peeper (ORB); 39D: Prepare for a show (REHEARSE); 44D: New Orleans university (TULANE); 45D: Tees off (ANGERS); 46D: Guitarist Lofgren (NILS); 50D: Try to bite, kitten-style (NIP AT); 51D: Police jacket acronym (SWAT); 54D: "Excuse me ..." (AHEM); 55D: Corp. leaders (CEOS); 56D: Defeatist's word (CAN'T); 57D: It may be half-baked (IDEA); 59D: Down (SAD).

49 comments:

docmoreau said...

Always enjoy your comments. Glad you found the mood, PG. Had the most difficulty with the upper right corner on this one. Wanted FOULBALLS for "ballpark souvenirs," "arabs" for spirited horses didn't come to me (always called them "arabians), thought MIRY was spelled "mirey," wanted RAKE for "lecherous sort,"and never heard of ILEDU "__Diable....

mac said...

Sorry I did this puzzle so early in the morning. I thought it had some nasty stuff, and also some barbs. The ptui/Auer crossing took me the longest to figure out (read guess), followed by pari/orb. As so often, when you look at the filled grid it doesn't look all that hard, but the clues twisted me around!
I agree, much better clue for Ohno than we usually get.
Thanks, PuzzleGirl!

Orange said...

PG, we need to use MIRY in the wicked/phat/sick vein of bad words that mean "excellent." So, "This crossword was miry!" is high praise. But "I got totally mired in the bottom of this crossword" = not praise.

Rex Parker said...

I know that Orange once told me to take MIRY *out* of a grid I was working on ...

This puzzle lost me at TNPK. TPK, OK? TNPK, no.

Also, I had lima as a BETTER BEAN. BETTER than what, I don't know :(

rp

Denise said...

You really want to know that I had ANNOY rather than ANGER, and that MUSTARD PLASTER was sooo easy for this old bird? And why couldn't I get some variant of ISLE in there where ILEDU was supposed to be? And then I had ILE DE which didn't work either.

I had ABC until the crosses took care of AMO (which makes no sense unless you understand that LATIN is the basis of all language)? Take that, rest of the world!

Love you, PuzzleGirl and appreciate your dedication and wit!!

BTW, I am getting faster, but I am convinced that I will never be FAST.

Al said...

@PG, what I like about this blog are the OBL(ique) inline pix that are like the trickier clues in the puzzle. The ones that make you think for a second to see how they relate to one of the answers. Kind of like this one for Tongue of Tiberius from the Tuesday puzzle. You need to be geeky enough to have known what his character's middle initial stood for...

Anonymous said...

i agree with denise.,

this puzzle is harder than my others but i go for this one first every morning.

keeping the mind agile.

st pete times NEVER gives the clue

Eric said...

Thought I did this just fine and then was surprised to see that it took me a little over 15 minutes to complete. Hated the ballpark souvenir as yearbook as I'm far from a baseball fan and had no "clue" until the crosses came in. Overall a solid puzzle where I didn't even get the theme until I read your blog PG.
Thanks for the instructional background (note that Rex has been doing a little more of that of late) it really helps and is interesting.

Orange said...

Anonymous, the St. Pete Times doesn't give a title or overt theme clue outside of the clue list because it's not part of the puzzle. Don't fret that your paper is cheating you out of something, because we're not getting that either.

gjelizabeth said...

Because of comments by the bloggers here about grid patterns I now look at the pattern of black and white in the puzzle square. I still don't have a feel for what makes a good-looking grid by professional standards but I was rewarded today when a picture of two dancers doing 10D, the WATUSI, surfaced.
The very first verb a student in Latin I or Basic Latin learns is (or was) the conjunction "Amo, Amas, Amat". This "basic language trio" clue was absolutely fair in my opinion. Still, despite 4 years of Latin more than forty years ago, I wanted this to be Indo. This is the kind of clue I really like on a Thursday: one that causes me to mislead myself until I puzzle out what I already know.
I really appreciate this blog. I've always enjoyed crosswords but been frustrated by answers that didn't make sense. Sometimes I can't see a pun until it steps on my foot. Now I come here a all is revealed!

Crosscan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crosscan said...

Isn't MIRY that acky-breaky-heart
kid?

How can you not love a spreadable condiment theme. I'm on a roll today.

kbkb said...

PG, normally I just lurk here and on Rex’s NYT blog but today I’ll comment as I hear your tree falling in the woods request to see if anybody is listening/appreciating what you do. I certainly do although rarely comment. I appreciate you commentary as well as that of Orange and Rex and all those who chime in. To me it’s a great way to finish off the daily puzzles by reading what others think and almost always get a daily chuckle from the comments (I like my commentary on “wry”) .

Anyhow, as one who has had some (albeit sporadic) success in getting puzzles published these venues, I tend to be more forgiving of the constructors when they drop in the occasional NATIK or bum crossers like today’s MIRY/ILEDU. I get how difficult it is to keep a good theme or good fill together only to find it necessary to have a bit of junk or crosswordese show up in order to save the whole thing. I know that editors will allow a bit of this here and there if the puzzle in its entirety is worth saving and that’s the only way. I also am certain that constructors wouldn’t do it unless it was absolutely necessary. I think that in small doses as long as the constructor give you a fair shot at it via crossers, it’s palatable.

I do take exception to made-up abbreviations like today’s TNPK (crossing ENID Bagnold!) Just because certain letters show up in a word does not make something a valid ABRVTN. And I don’t much care for a partial that makes no sense unless clued by a totally obscure reference (I recall “House without ___AKEY” somewhere this week). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to rip out an entire section so as to not do that.

Day in and day out, though, this puzzle and the one Rex comments on, are pretty much as good as they get. So while I think it’s fair to trash true junk, I prefer to focus on the good stuff which is contained in almost every one of these.

I really like your daily commentary…….keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

TNPK is not a made up abbreviation. I live along a road that has "Turnpike" in its name. The road signs use both TNPK and TPKE as abbreviations. Look TNPK up in Google, you'll find several on-line dictionaries (including Merriam-Webster) that define it.

Other than that, you are very much appreciated PG! I enjoy your columns. You let slip the other day that you live in Northern Virgina, where I live! I though all you LA Times bloggers were in Southern California.

Burner10 said...

Love the blog. Never stop. Favorite answer that I didn't get McJob.

mac said...

I wonder wat kbkb stands for? Nice comment!

@PG: you have no idea how appreciated you and your partners are! I rush through this puzzle just to get to the blog. And when I travel and can't get to it every day, I miss your funny write-ups. It's become a major part of the puzzle-job (might as well call it that considering how much time I spend on it....).

Anonymous said...

Way to tough it out today PG !

It was fun seeing Jelly Roll Morton appear in a puzzle. Ile du Diable (Devil's Island) conjured up memories of the terrific movie 'Papillon'. Didn't care at all for Ptui or Testa, but overall a pretty good puzzle.

shrub5 said...

UPSA-daisy sounds weird to me. In my family, it came out "oopsie-daisy" when a toddler took a spill. An odd little phrase in either form, I guess.

I'm not familiar with YEARBOOKS at baseball games though I haven't been to very many pro games. A program with stats etc., yes. Could anyone explain?

@RP: The Lima Bean Nutritional Council likes your answer of BETTERBEAN.

Wiki on the RARE inverted Jenny stamp: The "Jenny" is a Curtis-Jenny biplane which was chosen to carry the first US airmail in 1918. The stamps were printed in two colors necessitating each sheet to be fed through the printing press twice, an error-prone process. A few misprinted sheets were found and destroyed but apparently one sheet of a 100 stamps got through. BTW, in an episode of "The Simpsons", Homer comes across a full sheet of inverted Jennys in the 5 cent box at a swap meet. He throws it away because the "airplane's upside down."

Orange, Rex and PG: You all do a fantastic job here. I learn so much from your comments and laugh a lot as well. I feel I'm getting better/faster but still have to google a bit on the late week puzzles if I want to finish them. And, it's nice to have a blog to comment on in real time -- I do the NYT in syndication so I doubt anyone (or at least the usual commenters that I may want to respond to) is "listening" five weeks later.

*David* said...

Needed lots of crosses to finish this one with ILE DU and PAGLIACCI. Had never heard of STILTON cheese. My toughest cross was YALIE/PARI.

For the bloggers, it is definitely appreciated. I don't know how much better I've gotten, it seems like one step forward, and two steps backwards on some days. However the information about puzzles and the insights have been invaluable in getting me to see the full picture of the crossword world.

Anonymous said...

Loved the picture of Ohno, he was great on DWTS, too. Miry was new for me. I don't like to race through the puzzle, I like to give my brain a longer workout. Like all the feedback, explainations and clips.

chefbea said...

The big question of the day... Is Stilton English or Swiss??????

Good puzzle and great write up!!! Love all the spreads.

Time for lunch - think I'll have Stilton on a roll with mustard

kbkb said...

@mac: For the record kbkb stands for truth, justice, the american way,apple pie etc. In the event that you mean and care who, one of mine got critiqued here(mostly good, but some not so much) last Friday. Rex ripped me for ILER and ABIE...couldn't be helped. I couldn't help it - neither could he. I get it.

chefbea said...

my mistake - forget the cheese question!!!!!! Got the 2 cheeses mixed up

Gary Lowe said...

Yikes! You better not wear CLEATS on any golf course I play. We used to have SPIKES, but most courses banned those and now we have SOFTSPIKES. Cleats, indeed = HOBNAILBOOTS to me.

Now I hate to quibble, because any constructor who can get one of their masterpieces published deserves a tip o the hat (nod to JM), however, I have an impressive pile of rejections at this juncture, so I feel entitled ...

MAYO clinic = not really mayo
JELLYROLL guy = not really jelly (you get where I'm going here). Even SPREAD is properly out of context, but
MUSTARD plaster = really mustard.

There. Maybe if the CLEATS aren't really cleats, I can forgive ...

Carol said...

I read this blog every single day after completing the puzzle. Please don't ever think no one reads or appreciates this! You are all terrific teachers. What a great way to learn about crosswords and how they are constructed. Keep up the good work! Thanks.

jill said...

I discovered your blog a few weeks ago through the Sunday NYTimes puzzle links. I am now an addict as I check your blog daily when I am finished with the LA Times puzzle. I am amazed that there have been so many puzzles that I haven't understood until I read your blog. I love what you do and am learning a great deal.

I got hung up today on miry and mcjob. It wasn't until I read your answer that I realized it was working at Macdonalds! The top left corner also took awhile because I had upsy and couldn't figure out what yoyo books were.

I've been telling all my friends who do crosswords about your blog. Keep it up!

Geek said...

Here's another big THANKS for the daily blog! I do both LAT and NYT puzzles over lunch every day (OK, so sometimes it's a *L-O-N-G* lunch)and then read the blogs to learn new words and to feel a part of the puzzler community. The comments are on point, informed and generally amusing. Please don't think we aren't out here - we are! THANKS again.

sowalbeachbum said...

PuzzleHoney! We love you! Your voice, quite distinct from those of Orange, Rex, and those two boys I also read every day but still can't tell apart, is essential to the tenor of our puzzle community. Keep that shoulder to the wheel.

Hanoj said...

Today, PG, I will emerge from my daily lurkerdom and actually comment.

One special feature of this puzzle, for me, is that the cross-referenced clues for AMO and ILOVE actually helped me rather than hindered me. I didn't get AMO until I was close to getting ILOVE, and then, in one of those wonderful moments often experienced while doing crossword puzzles, both fell into place together at the same time.

I got stuck for a minute or two with UPSY-daisy, giving me YEYRB...., which led to me scouring my limited baseball knowledge for players named YEYR haha. I would have liked to see that clued from a high school angle, but I guess this is what we get on Thursday.

Jeff said...

I can't decide if I love or hate "McJob". I stared at the west section for the last five puzzling minutes, trying to figure out if burgers really needed someone in QC (quality control). (insert sheepish grin here).

Huzzah for PG, Rex and Orange! (insert Mr. Burns photo here)

still_learnin said...

I, too, am a lurker. You are definitely read and appreciated. I teach high school and have time over the summer to indulge, but when school starts back up in September my xword "learnin" may need to go on a 9-month hiatus. :-(

jazz said...

PG--

Keep up the blogging! I (for one) am getting better, only needing to google three things today to finish: old penal colony, black bottom stomp and leoncavallo opera.

Just when I remembered that FEN is a bog (hence FENY would be marshlike?), the puzzlemaker is back with MIRY. And 5 letters for traction aid is SPIKE, isn't it? Not if the crosses don't fit...a couple of crosses suggested CLEAT.

I look forward to the blog everyday...please you (and the other puzzlebloggers) keep up the interesting, and informative, work!

--JPW

easylob said...

PG -- You are my favorite blogger--funny and unpretentious. Keep up the great work!
McJob got me, and so did miry (and Ile du, which I didn't parse until reading the comments here). Not sure how betrayal fits unwelcome exposure, but most of the other fill was straightforward. Liked call from the flock and worked on a galley for misdirection.

Matt said...

Include me with those that enjoy the blog and find it helpful and illuminating.

Today's was a bit tricky. I really don't like the clue for YEARBOOKS - when I think of a yearbook, I think of high school, not a baseball game. Programs are what you buy if you want info on the players. Plus it didn't help that I started with "upsy" as many others did.

I have never heard of WATUSI, but thankfully Wikipedia included it amongst its "fad" dances.

I thought BUTTERBEAN was right but didn't want to put it in because I think of the boxer when I hear that, even though I figured "lima" referred to the bean.

I do like MCJOB, though it certainly didn't click right away.

Joon said...

MCJOB is great. it doesn't refer to just working at mcdonald's, although that's obviously the etymology. it's now a general term to describe any unrewarding line of work.

TNPK and OBL are nasty, uncommon abbrevations, and nobody loves a foreign language partial (ILE DU). but i enjoyed this puzzle pretty well anyway. the NW was indeed pretty tough. i got brainstuck on scarlet knights instead of black knights, and i was trying to figure out if some horrible 4-letter abbreviation for rutgers (SUNJ?) was called for. and yeah, the YEARBOOK clue was awfully unfriendly--so many other answers seem to fit the clue better. but a good workout.

am i crazy, or is the opera titled I PAGLIACCI ("the clowns")? i could not figure out where the article went. with english titles, it's common enough to say {With "The," ...} in the clue. i have to admit it would be weird to see {With "I," Leoncavallo opera}. how about {"I ___" (Leoncavallo opera)}? yeah, i like that.

my goodness--wikipedia repudiates me: Pagliacci (Players, or Clowns) is an opera consisting of a prologue and two acts written and composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo. It recounts the tragedy of a jealous husband in a commedia dell'arte troupe. (Its name is sometimes incorrectly rendered as I Pagliacci with a definite article.) hey, learn something new every day...

PG, you know i love you and your blogging. and you may also know i have no idea how orange and rex do it. you're getting up there in volume, too, with the 3 posts/week for LACC. hang in there!

Anonymous said...

Since no one "clued" you in, PuzzleGirl, Leopold AUER was a Hungarian violinist who was teacher to a number of noted and respected violinists such as Elman, Heifetz and Zimbalist. (Just for your edification in case you should run into them in the future.)

Anonymous said...

I don't use Google for crosswords, but do it the old way. So the Encyclopedia Brit, under Leoncavallo describes I Pagliacci as his major work. The article should be there.

Anyway, you are so so great, PG.

embien said...

I mainly hang out on the "other" LA Times blog, but I lurk here religiously (is it proper to say that?)

I'm in the group that used to get the TMS puzzle in my daily fishwrap (The Oregonian). They did week-long trials of four or five different replacement candidates when TMS ceased syndication, and the stupid one the readers chose is a total inanity. Solution? Do the LA Times in AcrossLite online! (Perhaps one of the nobler uses to which the Internet may be put.)

I'm with @shrub5 in that I do the NY Times in syndication, so this (and the "other" LA Times blog, of course) is my only chance to comment "live" and not five weeks tape delay.

sfingi said...

Most crossword puzzlers are OCD, so of course they(must)read the blog, too.
I got hung up on yearbook - and anything about sports - roper, college football, etc. - all in upper left (what you meant Doc M?)Music was opposite, thus easy. To me the whole puzzle was heavy in what I would call "actual knowledge content" - which is good, but difficult. Got very much "on crosses."

Question: Why wasn't pari(-mutual)part of the theme? Is there a letter count limit?

Testa is one Italian word for head, but not in this case.
Stilton is very English just as the crosswordese Edam is very Dutch. Stilton is controlled by region as French wine is, and it is (said to be) hallucinatory.

I also fell in the fen, tried to make a Viking or a Phoenician
"stroke" on a galley, and still have far to go to think out of the box in terms of noun/verb and homonyms.

We have a Seneca Tpke in these parts, and it once was a real tpke - i.e., the owners wouldn't turn the pike, or fence, until the horseman paid up. Today only the Thruway (or Dewey's Tpke) works that way, pal. EZ Silver! EZ Scout!

I always said upsy-daisy, and our paper has no more title than "Daily Crossword."

One reason I love the comments is that I learn something about, for instance, sports. That cleat info was great, Mr. Lowe.

Wayne said...

@PG: I'm sure it's difficult to put this all together some days but I really appreciate your work. I have actually been thinking lately about how much effort goes into posting to a blog every day. I know that many blogs don't survive because people have other things to do. The fact that you all put so much information on here on a daily basis is amazing! If any of you just can't do it on any given day, I would understand. Just provide the answer grid so I can check my work.

And, yes, I have improved in my crosswording (my word) because of this blog. Some days I do a lot of googling because of chronic pain and/or the medication I take for it. But I've always been a word person and that's what keeps me going (besides having a loving partner and great friends).

Also, I agree with you re: president Obama. I'm 52 years old & I'm glad I was here to see him elected. He's my favorite out of all the ones I've lived through.

Many thanks to you all.

Anonymous said...

Ready to don my cleats, tee off and shoot nine...

Fore !

- - Robert

PuzzleGirl said...

Awesome comment thread today, guys! Thanks so much!

@kbkb: I went back and looked at Rex's post on your puzzle last week and I don't think he "ripped" you at all! I guess it didn't occur to me that constructors might think highlighting the crosswordese is meant as an insult. Actually, we do it because we know those words are going to come up again and again, and we want the new solvers not to get so frustrated by them!

@Gary Lowe: Good call on the inconsistency of MUSTARD PLASTER. I actually thought about it but not knowing what mustard plaster actually is and being too lazy to look it up meant that stray thought didn't make its way into the post. Thanks for bringing it up though — it's an excellent point.

@sowalbeachbum: I've actually met and spent time with those two boys on more than one occasion and I still have to make a conscious effort to distinguish between them!

@Jeff: I wasn't sure about MCJOB either. In fact, I'm pretty sure that C was the last letter I filled in. But after thinking about it for a while, I believe it's awesome.

@Matt: I wasn't thrilled about YEARBOOK either, but I've only been to a handful of professional baseball games, so I thought it might just be something I missed.

@Joon: Funny that you were looking for SUNJ and I was looking for HSTN.

@sfingi: You raise an interesting question. In general, theme answers are the longest answers in the grid. They are also (again, generally) placed in symmetrical positions in the grid. So even if there was a random four-letter theme answer, it would most likely be paired with another four-letter theme answer. These are not, of course, hard-and-fast rules, but that's what you'll find in the vast majority of puzzles. Sometimes as you're solving you'll find what I think of as "bonus" answers — they're related to the theme but aren't part of the "official" theme. I'm not sure if those "bonus" answers are placed there on purpose or if they just come up in the process of filling the grid, but either way I've gotta believe the constructor sees the connection.

@Wayne: I totally meant to include a picture of President Obama throwing out the first pitch at the All-Star Game last night. When I saw the picture I just thought (as I so often do), "Man! He's so cool!" Can't believe I blew that opportunity.

Okay, that's enough out of me for today. Just wanted to check back in to let you know that your comments are read and appreciated too! Thanks, everyone!

chefbea said...

What is OCD???

chefwen said...

WOW, PG, ask and ye shall receive!
It was great to see the amount of comments when I got to the bottom of your blog.

@chefbea - obsessive compulsive disorder.

Mcjob was my last fill and I really did laugh out loud. Very cute.

Took me a little longer that most LAT puzzles but I really liked it.

mac said...

@kbkb: your puzzle will go into history because of the brilliant theme answer: "range bedfellows"! I for one enjoyed it.

PuzzleHoney: keep that term! How's the PuzzleDaughter?

These mustard plasters sound very Victorian to me: when someone has a bad cold or is "chesty", English mustard?) is wrapped around the chest. A precursor of Vicks.

Stilton is the ultimate English cheese in our book. When we lived in England, we found that our British friends would buy a wheel of Stilton (or a half), put it in an attractive dish with a napkin around it, and serve some after every meal but breakfast with a Stilton scoop. After the meal they would pour a little port on the cheese to prevent it from drying out. I still buy a round of Stilton around the holidays in CT.

Anonymous said...

PG--I'm gayer than a four o'clock brunch, but I have,um, a crush on you: you're thoughtful, honest,cool, funny & "real"--I have gotten much better,faster at solving puzzles,.and enjoy
them much more thanks to you, Rex, Orange, and the puzzle-twins! Y'all's insights into the minds of "supersolvers" aid,abet,assist&amuse McSolvers like me every-dang-day, so thanks!——"etui-ennui"

Jennie said...

I've been following this site for a few months now, and I don't get why there is always a highlighted letter? I know you mentioned it would be in FAQs but could someone give me a clue about this?

Joon said...

our heroes solve the puzzle in across lite (a program for solving crosswords), which always has one highlighted word and one highlighted letter within that word that indicates where you are currently entering answers into the grid. when they finish, they take a screenshot of the filled grid and post it, but the highlighting is hard to edit out.

Anonymous said...

Love clues relating to the classic violinist Heifetz. Had no idea who this guy was until I watched a YouTube video of "What's My Line" from the 1950s. Jack Benny was the mystery guest, but, instead of signing in using his own name, wrote "Heifetz" instead. Never forgot Heifetz after that.