WEDNESDAY, March 3, 2010—Ken Bessette

THEME: "The Ayes Have It"—The ends of four answers rhyme with "ayes," using four different spellings for the long "I" sound

Theme entries:
  • 17A: [Fibs] (LITTLE WHITE LIES).
  • 25A: [Seductive peepers] (BEDROOM EYES).
  • 45A: [Like large cereal boxes] (ECONOMY SIZE).
  • 57A: [1963 Elvis hit with the lyrics "You look like an angel...but I got wise"] ("DEVIL IN DISGUISE"). Never heard of it. You suppose it's on YouTube?

Yeah, that doesn't sound remotely familiar to me. Never was much of an Elvis fan. If you're around my age, though, the juxtaposition of WHITE LIES and BEDROOM EYES reminds you that talk is cheap when the story is good:

I could not find the groove in Ken Bessette's clues. The puzzle took me 4:11, which corresponds to a Thursday NYT level of difficulty and is not what I expect from a Wednesday LAT. Am I just off-kilter today, or is this puzzle harder than you expected it to be? I think it's the puzzle, because there was some oddball fill. There were also a number of clues that slowed me down, but these answers did not come easy:

  • 32A: [A car with this is often easier to resell] clues ONE OWNER. Feels on the border between a solid crossword entry and an arbitrary combination of words. Maybe if it were clued as a car's status or provenance that can increase resale value rather than with the awkward "a car with this" phrasing?
  • 50A: IN A PILE is clued as [Like some test papers awaiting grading]. (Ish. 34D: AMASS is clued with [Pile up], reusing the key word in 50A.)
  • 5D: [Easily heard herd leader] is a BELL COW?!? What on earth is a BELL COW? I have never encountered this term before. I'm all about "more cowbell," sure, but definitely less bell cow.
  • 38D: [No different from, with "the"] clues SAME AS. Wait. Is this really a 6-leter partial entry?
  • 43D: BY NIGHT is clued as [When "They Drive," in a 1940 Raft/Bogart film]. Wait, hang on. A 7-letter partial clued by way of a movie I've never heard of from 70 years ago? Do not like.

Clues of note:
  • 1A: [Hit bottom?] (SIDE B). I started with SPANK, considered past-tense HIDED, and waited for the crossings to rescue me—side B of a hit record.
  • 24A: [Inauguration Day events] (GALAS). Raise your hand if you had OATHS.
  • 36A: [Deadens] (DAMPS). Raise your hand if you had NUMBS.
  • Language lesson time! 39A: [Spanish hand] (MANO); 44A: [His, to Henri] (SES); 2D: [Term paper abbr.] (IBID.); 4D: [Part of i.e.] (EST); 7D: [German "I"] (ICH); 28D: [___ culpa] (MEA); 54D: [Done, to Dumas] (FINI); 58D: [___ gratia: by the grace of God] (DEI). That's one Spanish, one German, two French, and four Latin words. But who's counting?
  • 12D: [Suffix with four, six, seven and nine] (TEEN). Love this clue.

Crosswordese 101: MAA—I know what you're saying. 29A: [Barnyard sound], 3 letters...could go in a couple directions. Starts with an M? Must be that dang bell cow's MOO. Ends with AA? Must be the sheep's BAA. But every so often, the crossword throws you MAA. You don't have to like it, but you do have to accept that you'll run into it from time to time. The most common clues reach absolutely no consensus as to which barnyard animal says MAA. It could be a calf's cry, a goat's bleat, or a ram, lamb, or ewe's sound. If you're lucky, the constructor goes with the goat because then you won't be swayed by the MOO and BAA options.

Everything Else — 1A: Hit bottom? (SIDE B); 6A: Irritate (MIFF); 10A: Excessive elbow-benders (SOTS); 14A: Put down (ABASE); 15A: Sandy color (ECRU); 16A: World's largest furniture retailer (IKEA); 17A: Fibs (LITTLE WHITE LIES); 20A: Author LeShan (EDA); 21A: "Bad" cholesterol letters (LDL); 22A: Scrooge creator (DICKENS); 23A: The first film it aired was "Gone with the Wind" (TCM); 24A: Inauguration Day events (GALAS); 25A: Seductive peepers (BEDROOM EYES); 29A: Barnyard sound (MAA); 32A: A car with this is often easier to resell (ONE OWNER); 33A: What quibblers split (HAIRS); 35A: Asian on the Enterprise bridge (SULU); 36A: Deadens (DAMPS); 39A: Spanish hand (MANO); 40A: Seagoing mil. training group (NROTC); 42A: Montgomery native (ALABAMAN); 44A: His, to Henri (SES); 45A: Like large cereal boxes (ECONOMY-SIZE); 48A: Online suffix with Net (SCAPE); 49A: Some dashes (ENS); 50A: Like test papers awaiting grading (IN A PILE); 53A: __ chi ch'uan (TAI); 54A: Swell, slangily (FAB); 57A: 1963 Elvis hit with the lyrics "You look like an angel ... but I got wise" (DEVIL IN DISGUISE); 60A: Leave out (OMIT); 61A: Signaled backstage, perhaps (CUED); 62A: "The Da Vinci Code" star (HANKS); 63A: Shake, as a police tail (LOSE); 64A: TV's tiny Taylor (OPIE); 65A: Typical O. Henry ending (TWIST); 1D: Black Friday store event (SALE); 2D: Term paper abbr. (IBID.); 3D: Excel input (DATA); 4D: Part of i.e. (EST); 5D: Easily heard herd leader (BELLCOW); 6D: Feeble cry (MEWL); 7D: German "I" (ICH); 8D: "Dragnet" sergeant (FRIDAY); 9D: Useless (FUTILE); 10D: Jockey's wear (SILKS); 11D: Steinbeck migrant (OKIE); 12D: Suffix with four, six, seven and nine (TEEN); 13D: Say freshly (SASS); 18D: __ Dantés, the Count of Monte Cristo (EDMOND); 19D: PayPal "currency" (E-CASH); 23D: Brook fish (TROUT); 24D: On point (GERMANE); 25D: Cap'ns' subordinates (BOS'NS); 26D: Make used (to) (ENURE); 27D: Apollo's birthplace, in Greek myth (DELOS); 28D: __ culpa (MEA); 29D: Home of the Hurricanes (MIAMI); 30D: Cuban-born TV producer (ARNAZ); 31D: United (AS ONE); 34D: Pile up (AMASS); 37D: Mideast political gp. (PLO); 38D: No different from, with "the" (SAME AS); 41D: De Beers founder Rhodes (CECIL); 43D: When "They Drive," in a 1940 Raft/Bogart film (BY NIGHT); 46D: Cat of many colors (CALICO); 47D: Demand from a door pounder (OPEN UP); 48D: Vindictiveness (SPITE); 50D: Superstar (IDOL); 51D: Pixar clownfish (NEMO); 52D: Alamo competitor (AVIS); 53D: Ocean motion (TIDE); 54D: Done, to Dumas (FINI); 55D: Questions (ASKS); 56D: "__ in Show" (BEST); 58D: __ gratia: by the grace of God (DEI); 59D: Mich.-based labor group (UAW).


Sandy said...

It wasn't just you. I never got a good flow going with this one - I jumped all over the place trying to get traction.

rynosgmal said...

My hand is up too. Must be some reason for one cow wearing a bell, I see it all the time. East side was much easier than west.

Heidi said...

Cows naturally herd, so they're always together. As such, one bell suffices to locate the herd.

mac said...

Yes, I had many of those false starts you mentioned.

One owner? I think I've seen it as "single owner".

Bell cow is odd, but then I've never had cows and don't really know the terminology. Bell jar, yes.

Otherwise, I like a little tougher one. Off to breakfast and a fresh NYT.


The reason this puzzle seems harder than usual is this, there's no trite fill and crosswordese. When was the last time you did a puzzle like that? Aside from a slightly weak rhyming theme, I found this to be one of the best Wednesday puzzles of the year from a construction standpoint. It was FAB!

Many of the clues were very clever or diversionary... eg. "Excessive elbow benders" = SOTS and "Hit bottom" = SIDE B.

Fave words: IKEA, ONE OWNER, SULU, IN A PILE, BELL COW, EDMOND, ECASH, ARNAZ, CALICO, CECIL, and GERMANE. Nothing ordinary about these.

My name's FRIDAY... I'm a cop!
Two of my favorite shows, Dragnet and the Johnny Carson Show. Here's a clip of one of the funniest skits I've ever heard. For all you "word-twisters", have big guffaw this morning!!!

With 58D, DEI gratia, I got to use this great online resource---

Omigosh, I'm late for my TAI chi class!

Sfingi said...

@Heidi - yes, as long as he's not a renegade. There is a pecking order which means a leader, the one who notices the human is bringing the food, the one who makes movement decisions whom the rest follow. So the lead cow is the bell cow.
This is dairy country and I've had friends with dairy farms. I had a friend whose husband was an inseminator and made much better money than farmers, as do the guys who sell certain farm equipment and fiberglass silos.

This puzzle must be an oldsters, though I didn't think about it while doing it. It seemed easy to me. ONEOWNER came immediately. Perhaps it was something taught in the days. I've learned the new stuff - SULU, IKEA, E-this and E-that.

I didn't notice the IZE IES ISE EYES thing. The only word I didn't know was DELOS. Thought it would be HELAS until crosses.

Though I know all Elvis's songs having lived through it, I also remember that there were many other favorite rockers, esp. in the NE USA: Frankie Laine, Roy Orbison, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, Little Richard. It turned out that Elvis was the one who lasted beyond the '50s, which was not so obvious back then to everyone. We knew all their music.


Come on, all you city slickers!
You never heard of a BELL COW or that sheep go MAA (and not baa)?
If you really want to learn all about proper barnyard lingo, then just watch this amusing clip---

Rex Parker said...

Never noticed the "theme." Did it in mid-3s, so you *must* be off-kilter, Amy. There was much iffiness today, but you've noted it all already.

Wait, did you mention NROTC? I don't think so. Dislike.


Heidi said...

@Orange - "They Drive By Night" didn't come out until August of 1940, so technically it's a 69 2/3 year old movie you never heard of, clued as a partial. I believe this makes all the difference in the world.

Cows are given way, way too much credit, they're as dumb as the shoes they're destined to become. They just follow one another. Some may be more inclined to walk around than others, but that doesn't mean they're leaders, just that they have ants in their pants and the others follow. It reminds me of a PBS Nature show on elephants. We all know the matriarchal story, grandma knows all, leads the pack, etc. They put a critter cam on a herd, and started noticing that any one of the mature cows would lead the herd off at any given time. They decided that this was all part of the matriarch's scheme to train the younger cows. Seemed to me that they were rationalizing evidence which contradicted their theory. One takes off, the others follow. Doesn't really make the one that takes off a leader.

xyz said...

Boy did I have a lot of trouble over in say Nevada to Nebraska.

DELOS, ENURE, DAMPS (way prefer DAMPenS) and BELL COW while it make sense, did not come to me.

Maybe my lovely wife's incessant interruptions didn't help, but I can't blame others for lack of execution. Other than my several word blanks, it wasn't too bad. I'll re-try this puzzle one day once I've completely forgotten it and see how I do.

Jim said...

@Heidi - are you sure your name isn't Marlin Perkins?

*David* said...

I couldn't get too much momentum but it still moved pretty fast. Odd to difficult crossing for myself was at NROTC-SES/DELOS. I originally wrote in HELIO, liked seeing EDMOND Dante from Monte Christo one of my favoritie books.

Tinbeni said...

Somedays you are just on the wave-length.
Today was not one of them but upon completion, other than DELOS, all was GERMANE, though sometimes with a TWIST.

@Sfingi & @JNH covered it well, an oldster puzzle with great panache.

@Heidi - Your elephant analogy was perfect. Politicians & CEOs sometimes act like that and call it leadership. When in reality they are just following "the herd." Maybe we should get them Cow Bells.

@Orange, the Raft/Bogart 1940 movie, check it out sometime on TCM before you say you "Do not like."
As to the clues answer, I could not fill it in fast enough.

@Rex - Whats so wrong that you dislike the NROTC, Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps?
I respect all members of our Military.

Wasn't crazy about the Non-English test. I guess its not kosher to actually construct a puzzle without taking a trip through Europe.

Now I'm curious: What is "Suffix with" three, five and eight?

@CCL - Was CALICO your fave?
SOTS was not mine, I'm a sipper.

@Orange, great write-up and clips.
@JNH Your clips too. Webb on Carson was a hoot.

Sandy said...

@Sfingi: I'd classify SULU as an oldster clue. He was on the Enterprise in the 1960s TV series.

lit.doc said...

What the heck was this puzzle doing in the Wednesday LAT? Didn’t take particularly long, but was just an exercise in filling blank squares. Didn’t notice the “ies” thingy, and it’s a poster child for Why Even Bother themes.

Had plenty of key-overs, as did others. SPANK before B SIDE (I really like that clue), BALLS before GALAS, MOO before MAA, and NUMBS before DAMPS. On any given day, the number of these seems to depend mostly on which direction you’re going and how many crosses you have when you hit them. No big deal.

I much prefer having fun and cheering on the constructor. But this puzzle has a festering pustule of interconnected crappy fill on its left side that should have been drained by the editor before the patient was released to the public:

Navy ROTC and SES both crossing DELOS, with CECIL crossing NROTC. A misclued college-campus based training group and a French possessive pronoun crossing a moderately obscure (compared to DELPHI) bit of Greed mythology, with a non-trivial “Who the ____?!” hanging off the end of Navy ROTC.

Bill the Cat gives this one a fur ball.

lit.doc said...

@Tinbeni, I took Orange and Rex to be objecting to the clues for They Drive by Night and the Navy ROTC, not to either the movie or the organization. Am I wrong?

DataGeek said...

Wow - really fun puzzle today! Liking it less and less after reading all the comments, though. Thought the clue for SPANK was really clever until, uh, it's SIDE B - also clever. Nice variation on the clue for FRIDAY that could have otherwise been pretty dull. Getting my "eh" vote for MAA and FUTILE (I just don't think of Futile as Useless, but I guess it works). But MAA and MEWL in the same puzzle - OK, that's better! Last letter to drop was the O in DELOS, when NRETC just didn't fly. Fun puzzle, fun write-up - back to work!

Orange said...

@lit.doc is mostly right. Everyone knows what the ROTC is, but who on earth talks about the NROTC? I think many people don't even know such a group exists. Not sparkling fill. A fine group, but not sought-after crossword fill. As for BY NIGHT, it's not a good crossword entry. If you have to reach for a part of a '40 title to clue it (or make it painfully obvious that it's a partial, as with [Fly ___]), and it's not a stand-alone, dictionary-worthy term in its own right, it's not great fill.

jazz said...

We don't use the term BELL COW all that much (when cows used to graze in the pasture and be called for milking a bell cow was common to track the herd location), but "bellwether" is a similar etymology that pertained to sheep.

Both refer to the lead individual that signals the movement of the herd. That term always reminds me of this poem (apology: it's long but worth it):

The Calf-Path

by Sam Walter Foss
(NH 1858-1911)


One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;


But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.
Since then three hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day,
By a lone dog that passed that way.
And then a wise bell-wether sheep,
Pursued the trail o'er vale and steep;
And drew the flock behind him too,
As good bell-wethers always do.
And from that day, o'er hill and glade.
Through those old woods a path was made.


And many men wound in and out,
And dodged, and turned, and bent about;
And uttered words of righteous wrath,
Because 'twas such a crooked path.
But still they followed - do not laugh -
The first migrations of that calf.
And through this winding wood-way stalked,
Because he wobbled when he walked.


This forest path became a lane,
that bent, and turned, and turned again.
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load,
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half,
They trod the footsteps of that calf.


The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street;
And this, before men were aware,
A city's crowded thoroughfare;
And soon the central street was this,
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half,
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.


Each day a hundred thousand rout,
Followed the zigzag calf about;
And o'er his crooked journey went,
The traffic of a continent.
A Hundred thousand men were led,
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way,
And lost one hundred years a day;
For thus such reverence is lent,
To well established precedent.


A moral lesson this might teach,
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind,
Along the calf-paths of the mind;
And work away from sun to sun,
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.
They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move.
But how the wise old wood gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah! many things this tale might teach -
But I am not ordained to preach.

Anonymous said...

so you are like the cows, just following the leader opinions

Burner 10 said...

Happy day! Will try to key the blackberry neatly. @litdoc - agree and chuckled on your poster child observation of this puzzle's lame theme. @sandy - sulu is solid crosswordese not oldster
@jazz - I am in love with you for putting up that delightful poem (this from a person who unashamedly counts The Cremation of Sam McGee as one of their faves.
Today the blog seemed alive with so many voices!
Off the bus for me and on to work.

Tinbeni said...

@Lit.doc. Just having a little fun.
We come here to learn and share about CW's.

But in a clue like 40a 'Seagoing mil. training group' the first word indicated the Naval side, and ROTC was on my College Campus back in the day.
Just because NROTC is less familiar doesn't make it a stretch?
And since a movie title isn't in a dictionary, doesn't mean they are "not great fill?"

There are many, MANY clues I am not familiar with.
I call them LEARNING experiences.

No "Sour Grapes" just because they may have caused a blip in my solving.

C said...

Hmm, I solved the puzzle in my typical 5-7 minute time frame but it was anything but smooth. Very little flow to the cluing, some non-Wednesday fill (DELOS, SES, NROTC) and a theme that is tenuous at best.

I'd say this was a themeless (the term 'freestyle' is starting to catch on with me) puzzle masquerading as a themed puzzle. A change-up.

Anonymous said...

judging from the comments of orange , sandy, and rex; youre quite young and naive.
discounting certain words (eg THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT, SULU and NROTC) merely because of a generation gap is not a good policy for crossword experts.

Zeke said...

@Tinbeni - ROTC was common in my day also. However, none of the people in the Air Force ROTC ever, ever, said AROTC, they were in ROTC and added the Air Force modifier if/when necessary. It just wasn't done. AROTC may be legitimate, but legitimate doesn't equal good.
What Orange said was that if you're going to such a stretch to clue a phrase, the phrase should be a stand-alone, dictionary worthy phrase, one which she, and I, don't think BYNIGHT is. A clue such as "Whence vampires come" could adequately clue BYNIGHT with no complaints, but a clue that's as much of a stretch as the one in this puzzle to get to an answer that's not a stand-alone phrase misses the mark.

Charles Bogle said...

Multiply @orange's time by three or four and that's where I fell.

Hand up for difficulty getting traction or groove but that's ok; there was plenty to enjoy. I echo comments of @tinbeni,@mac...@jazz: thank you for that wonderful poem-

@orange: nice write-up...a few too many AMASS and ENURE and ABASE-type words for my liking but otherwise good fill and not too many dreaded partials

Re "They Drive By Night"...the CW gods in DELOS must be smiling. Just finished watching this classic on dvd last week...add Ann Sheridan as a star AND a stunning Ida Lupino, married to Alan Hale (father of the CAP'N on "Gilligan's Island")-she lit up the screen

Interesting bit on that movie: Lupino's character was hot for Raft's, who fell for Sheridan...One of Lupino's first Hollywood movies. She liked the few scenes w Bogie so much she asked for more..next they got "High Sierra"--lots of great cinema interactions in the film that set the stage for Bogie to take the lead from Raft next in "Casablanca"-

Re ARNAZ...on a Sirius channel in a rental car recently (Enterprise, not AVIS), I heard for the first time Desi and his orchestra with Desi singing lyrics to the theme song a lot of us know from the "I Love Lucy" Show (eg: I love Lucy like no one can/ she's my missus and I'm her man....I love Lucy and she loves me/we're as happy as two can be..)..anyway, hokey as it seems, there's a lot of passion and fire in Arnaz's song, esp reflecting on what happened later to the couple


Orange said...

What Zeke said is right. A complete movie title is a great entry (provided it's not horribly obscure and undistinguished). Two words from a title that can't stand alone easily? If they're 5 letters or less, they're not *good* fill, but they're allowed in the major crosswords. If such "partials" are 6+ letters, they're taboo. ["___ One Night"] would not be a hard clue for IT HAPPENED, and it's a memorable movie, but ITHAPPENED is a 10-letter partial and thus deemed lousy fill.

I don't make the rules, I just follow 'em...

shrub5 said...

Also thought it was a little harder than a usual Wednesday but enjoyed it nonetheless. I had one writeover: BALLS before GALAS. Needed one google: Apollo's birthplace DELOS because I didn't know SES. Thought I was done...but ended up with an undetected mistake -- had TBS for "Gone with the Wind" airer which resulted in BELLBOW for BELLCOW and EDSOND instead of EDMOND. D'oh. Did this puzzle late last night and guess my brain was winding down.

@Jazz: Thanks for the poem!!

Thanks Ken B. for a FAB puzzle.

CrazyCat said...

I was all over the place today also. Didn't find the theme very inspiring and had many of the same wrong starts as others. Had Numbs for DAMPS. Who says DAMPS? Had MOO for MAA amd was trying to determine what animal says MAA. So thanks Orange for the baby farm animal sounds lesson. I had IN A FILE instead of IN A PILE for Like some test papers awaiting grading. Sounds a little more organized. Like many, I have not heard of BELL COW. My mother used to call us in for lunch with a COW BELL when I was a kid. Had a senior moment and couldn't remember Ricky Ricardo's real name. Also at first misread Jockey's wear as Jockey's underwear.

Didn't derive much joy from the puzzle, but the comments are great.
@Jazz - love the poem
@Lit. Doc LOL at Bill the cat and his one fur ball - a common occurance in my home. My CALICO produced one this morning. I think she did it out of SPITE.

Anonymous said...

33a What quibblers split, HAIRS.
Seems to be a lot of that going around.

Sfingi said...

@Heidi - yes, cows are stupid.

@Rex - how about NJRROTC. My local NSDAR gives an award to a couple of their members every year.
Turns out, when a locality has a Jr. Navy ROTC, it won't have, say, a Jr. Air Force ROTC. The next county over, Onondaga, which contains Syracuse, has the AFJRNROTC.
When these "kids" are invited to a meeting, it becomes a learning experience, for us all.

@Anon913 - come out from behind the bushes and show your face. And stop playing with that dirty thing.

@Sandy - I learned SULU here. In 1966, I had graduated from college and went to work for the NYPL in the Bronx. When I finally saw an old Star Trek, I considered it backward (and way backward for Sci-fi) and sexist.

Rube said...

I had no objection to NROTC because on my college campus that's what we had. However, the clue was misleading as these guys, (all male campus at the time), didn't go to sea until after graduating, so they were not seagoing when in NROTC. My first thought was Seals, but that wouldn't work from the start.

When I was 4 we lived on a farm near Yakima. I have this vague memory of riding the BELLCOW home with my big sister walking alongside to make sure I didn't fall off. For some reason, my sister had a cow bell that I inherited when she graduated from high school and left home. I wonder what happened to that cow bell when I see people ringing them during bicycle races.

Enjoyable, easy puzz for those of us of AARP eligibility. Only word I didn't remember was DELOS, wanted Delphi. Thought the fill was the usual crosswordese mixed with some new stuff. The theme felt lame to me.

Thanks @jazz for the poem. I'm with you @burner10. I even memorized The cremation of Sam McGee for telling around the campfire when a Boy Scout.

This comment has been removed by the author.

One DAMPS a sound or one NUMBS a pain... both are ways to deaden something.

Thanks for the Foss poem. It's quite profound and so I'm saving it for some of my students.

As a kid, I was referred to as being "Full of the DICKENS". I never knew whether that was a good thing or a bad thing to be.

Little known fact: EDMOND Dantes was a character in Fables (a Vertigo comic). He owned the Chateau d'If fencing school. Sometimes Cinderella, Prince Charming, or Bluebeard would compete there. I found it interesting that Alexandre Dumas was evident in two unrelated clues, 18D EDMOND, and also in 54D "Done, to Dumas".

As for the NROTC and "They Drive BY NIGHT" thing--- In all fairness to the constructor, the clues could not have been more explicit. They were almost gimmes.

Sandy said...

@ Anon from whenever. Never said there was anything wrong with SULU at all. Just responding to Sfingi's comment that it was new, which he then clarified as new to him. One of the fun things about puzzles is how they have to balance the knowledge of all generations and it isn't a criticism to remark on a particular puzzle skewing older or younger.

And Orange made a nice distinction between disliking an answer's clue, or it's puzzleworthiness for a particular day, or how hard/easy the crossings make it, and disliking the answer in its real-life setting.

Bellwether. Wow. I never knew. Thanks.

Tinbeni said...

re: NROTC and the movie, "They Drive BY NIGHT" I could not agree with you more.
To me they both were gimmies.

I agree with your 10:23 comment.
Your example was very astute.
But todays 43d was not clued "They Drive_____."
Like John I think the constructor clued it well.

@Charles Bogle
Thanks for the info on this movie and the additional reparte about Ann, Ida and George leading to Casablanca.

Not being one who likes to mix apples with oranges,
BY NIGHT in this case was NOT 'a phrase' ... just two words in a movie title.
Hence, the discussion about whether 'a phrase' being 'dictionary worthy' is moot.

Your CALICO is not being SPITEful. Just lonely from your spending too much time on crossword puzzles while it is ignoring you and sleeping.

@Sfingi is a lady. She just doesn't watch a lot of TV, not a big sports fan but her knowledge in so many other area's constantly blows me away.

@To all
I thought this was a very nice, a bit tougher, Wednesday LAT offering.
If you parse and remix the letters in just the right way the secret answer "Scotch" appears.

Orange said...

@Tinbeni: But..."Just two words in a movie title" does NOT cut it as crossword fill unless it's no more than 5 letters long. Like I said, I don't make the rules, I just follow 'em.

Unless you can clue BY NIGHT as a stand-alone, dictionary-worthy phrase (or as a stand-alone thing someone might say, like AWKNOCKITOFF), it's not a good entry by the standard rules of American crosswords.

I'm not splitting hairs. I'm just telling y'all what the conventions are, the conventions that a crossword can reasonably be expected to follow.

Tinbeni said...

I remember one time your lesson about "the rule of equivalence" and you cited a reference.

Where can I find this "no more than 5 letters long" rule?
Are the Standard Rules of American Crosswords in stone?

Seems to me that if what you say is true, and I have no reason to doubt the 13th place finisher at the ACPT, we must do something to avoid this type of unmitigated gall in the future.
We have got to start a write in campaign to the High Sheriff at the L.A.Times to jail Mr. Bassette and Mr. Norris.

And I just thought my Wednesday morning coffee, watching w/CNBC, solving my CW this more fun.

oops, my bad.



As a potential constructor, I try to adhere to all the rules myself. There are some general rules (like grid symmetry) and then there are rules unique to the NYT (those of Will Shortz). The rule cited by Orange is not in the LAT rules, only in the NYT, but it just makes good sense in any construction.
The rule as cited by Will Shortz is:
"Do not use partial phrases longer than five letters (ONE TO A, A STITCH IN, etc.), uninteresting obscurity, (A Bulgarian village, a water bug genus, etc.) or uncommon abbreviations or foreign words."

I like having rules, because in years past I've worked on some pretty weird puzzles in books like Dell.

I did like the BY NIGHT entry, but I do respect the rules also.

jazz said...

Regarding the poem I reprinted above, I first heard it in 2005, read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer's Almanac. You can listen here:


Zeke said...

@Tinbeni - A brief LA Times writeup of guidelines is here. BYNIGHT fits pretty squarely in "Things to avoid" #7.
Orange, PG & Rex each spend a lot of time pointing out where things in the puzzle could have been made better, or where they're noteably good. Many of these things don't influence my enjoyment of the puzzles, many are things that annoyed me in solving. In either case, I'm always aware that they're just pointing out the stylistic strengths and weaknesses of the puzzles, not calling for anyones heads on a silver platter.

Tinbeni said...

@Zeke (3 times?)
Thanks, I will check it out ASAP.
After all, we come here to learn, not quibble (too much).
Rex, Orange and PG have made my CW experience much more fun.
Can't wait for the day when we finally see the "Perfect Puzzle" ... though it would be boring.
Nothing to comment on.

As you were composing, I googled and found the NYT Crossword Rules you cited above.
My question is whether BY NIGHT qualified as a partial in the strictest sense. No biggie.

Hmmmm, "or foreign words" seems to me half of the French, Spanish, Italian, Latin I know, I learned from Crossword Puzzles.
There were 8 in the puzzle today. Personally, I was happy to have passed my language lesson test 100%.
Seems this rule is stretched all the time.

When Amy cited the "rule of equivalence" I noticed that my solving improved probably 10% that day.

As a Tax Accountant & Auditor I have lived my whole life "By the Rules" ... though I did once get a speeding ticket.
Not perfect, who is?

chefwen said...

WOW! After reading all the comments I feel the need to go find myself a couple of aspirin, my head is spinning.

I thought the puzzle was fairly easy and fun to do. Only write overs were, hand up, GALAS of oaths and MAA over baa. Fess up for checking with doctor Google for DELOS, and raised an eyebrow over NROTC, but it made perfect sense.

capcha - addle What I hope not to be after aspirin.

chefwen said...

@Jazz - Forgot to thank you for that wonderful poem, I loved it.

Sfingi said...

@Zeke - I never found any #7 followed by a rule about phrases, or even 7th on a list of bullets. If by "phrase," you mean the grammar definition, then BY NIGHT is definitely a prepositional phrase. Sometimes I feel like I'm on a different internet. (Did anyone read the article in yesterday's NYT Science?)

@Tinbeni - Thank you for calling me a "lady." I'll prove you wrong soon, if I haven't already in my #2 comment.
And Wow, I didn't even notice the foreign words.

@Sandy - I thought it was becoming obvious that I was a "woman," with the lack of sports gene and with uber-feminist leanings. And men aren't in the NSDAR, though women are in the NJRROTC.

@Tinbeni & Sandy - I don't care if you call me he, she or it. Just don't call me a "female." This seems to have entered our speech as law enforcement jargon. The same people who "exit vehicles"
refer to the rapist as "the gentleman," and his victim as a "female," as if she were a hamster.
See Pet Peeves list #7.

Orange said...

@Sfingi: Sing it, sister! Referring to a woman as a "female" or expressing a difficulty attracting "females" at a bar, yeah, that raises my hackles as well. The word "woman" will work just fine, thank you. (No problem with "female" as an adjective, of course.)

JIMMIE said...

"Uninteresting obscurity" is not allowed in LAT CWs? What about the rest of the LAT? Or anywhere in Southern California? I think not.

I liked this puzzle a lot, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I got hung up on French for "his" and put in "son" -his car.
"ses" is for more than one thing such as -his cars. This distinction is typically French. The clue master could have been more helpful.


badspelller said...

Now I don't feel so bad about not filling in that little NROTC section.
I kept trying to get SEALS in there somehow and Delphi with the oracle.

I did this in the paper instead of online so I didn't have the advantage of the red letters so I was pretty happy I figured everything else out.

I thought it was a fun puzzle but there was certainly some wierdness going on!

That was a nice poem, wonder what road it is referencing.

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