Monday, January 31, 2011

Milne's absent-minded Mr / TUE 2-1-11 / Pre-Russia intl economic coalition / Bangladesh's capital old-style / Prison screw / Motherland affectionately

Constructor: Ron & Nancy Byron

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: MIXED MEDIA (61A: Artwork using both paint and collage, e.g. ... and a hint to this puzzle's circled letters) — circled consecutive letters inside theme answers are jumbles of the letters M, E, D, I, and A

Word of the Day: TOULON (11D: French port near Marseille) —

Toulon (Provençal Occitan: Tolon in classical norm or Touloun in Mistralian norm ) is a town in southern France and a large military harbour on the Mediterranean coast, with a major French naval base. Located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region, Toulon is the capital of the Var department in the former province of Provence. // Toulon is an important centre for naval construction, fishing, wine making, and the manufacture of aeronautical equipment, armaments, maps, paper, tobacco, printing, shoes, and electronic equipment. // The military port of Toulon is the major naval center on France's Mediterranean coast, home of the French Navy aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle and her battle group. The French Mediterranean Fleet is based in Toulon. (wikipedia)

• • •

Writing this ahead of a massive blizzard that is expected to descend upon this area of the country aaaaaaany second now (actually, it will come on slowly tomorrow and then destroy us some time on Wednesday). Northern midwesterners and northeasterners will have some idea what I'm talking about, if not now, then soon. I like this "Winter Storm Meter," which I lifted from the website. "SnOMG!"

As for the puzzle, I don't have much to say. There was something kind of lackluster about the whole thing. Theme answers aren't that interesting, and that non-theme fill is boring at best, strange and dated-feeling at worst. The dull: ELEE over SSTS (!), then ILA, ELEC, AAR, IBE (?), ERMA, ABM, ETA, SRO, SRI, CMI, NOMSG, etc. The strange: GSEVEN (bygone) (43A: Pre-Russia intl economic coalition), TOULON (where?), Mr. PIM (so bygone I couldn't even find a halfway decent summary online) (1D: Milne's absent-minded Mr.), and DACCA (so bygone the puzzle knows it's bygone: "old-style!") (20A: Bangladesh's capital, old-style). Whole thing felt very not-of-this-century, from the opening gambit ("PSHAW!") to OLD SOD (32A: Motherland, affectionately) to the clue for JAILER (unless "screw" is still contemporary non-sexual slang, in which case, my apologies) (21A: Prison "screw"). Despite never having heard of several of these answers, I finished in an absolutely average Tuesday time. All in all, the puzzle is just fine—not at all incompetent or off-putting. Just blah.

["Pretty girls come A DIME A DOZEN..."]

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Big name in orange juice (MINUTE MAID)
  • 25A: Large gem in the Smithsonian (HOPE DIAMOND)
  • 37A: Kindly doctor's asset (BEDSIDE MANNER)
  • 52A: Common (A DIME A DOZEN)
Stay warm. I'm off to ... do something. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hairdo for Snooki of Jersey Shore / MON 1-31-11 / Old-time evangelist Semple McPherson / Bronze animal in New York's financial district

Constructor: Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Fictional Food Folk (or, Where the Hell is Uncle Ben?) — commercial "icon"s associated with various food brands

Word of the Day: POUF (52A: Hairdo for Snooki of "Jersey Shore") —
  1. A woman's hairstyle popular in the 18th century, characterized by high rolled puffs.
  2. A part of a garment, such as a dress, that is gathered into a puff.
  3. A rounded ottoman.

[French, from Old French, interjection used for a fall, of imitative origin.] (

• • •

Nifty, simple theme, though I have some mixed feelings about it. I get that they are all food "icons," but the list seems a little ragged and arbitrary. Some have titles, some don't. Some are human, some aren't ... I guess CAP'N CRUNCH is humanoid, as is JOLLY GREEN GIANT, but I'm pretty the giantness takes him out of our species, as does his vegetable composition. And lord only knows what BETTY CROCKER is, since, unlike the rest of the icons, she is iconic for her name alone, not for her picture. I mean, maybe she has a face, but I've never seen it, whereas I can picture all the other icons instantly. And where is Uncle Ben, or Toucan Sam, or Count Chocula, or Tony the Tiger, etc. If we're limiting it to humans, Tony's at least as human as that damned giant. Plus, as we've established, BETTY CROCKER could be a lizard for all any of us knows. No, wait—she appears to have had a physical, human form in days gone by. I can't find a pic of her more recent than 1986, but my cursory research does verify her (fictional) humanity. Still, I'd have kicked BETTY to the curb and replaced her with COUNT CHOCULA — he gets you a title *and* a truly iconic figure with a familiar physical form. . . but I guess the puzzle already has one "Breakfast cereal icon," so ... hmmm ...

Andrea certainly knows how to put together a Monday grid—smooth and easy all around. Well, almost all around. Something about the POUF / EDUC / BEDELIA section felt slightly chunky by contrast. I'm pretty sure it's all POUF's fault. I've heard the word, but have never seen it, in a puzzle or anywhere else. I really thought it was spelled POOF, as in "it POOFs up on top." It's a perfectly real word (I looked it up, as you can see, above), but it's a real outlier, familiarity-wise, today. Not fond of the three-O'd OOOH, but the rest of the fill seems solid. One strange feature—somehow, in that one tiny section in the east, you've got JAI crossing JAI, ANT crossing ANT, and ITS crossing ITS. A JAITS square with an "N" center. Odd. Still, all in all, a reasonably delightful two minutes and forty-five seconds.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Pancake syrup icon (AUNT JEMIMA)
  • 23A: Baking icon (BETTY CROCKER)
  • 35A: Frozen vegetable icon (JOLLY GREEN GIANT)
  • 47A: Spaghetti-in-a-can icon (CHEF BOYARDEE)
  • 57A: Breakfast cereal icon (CAP'N CRUNCH)
  • 12D: Old-time evangelist ___ Semple McPherson (AIMEE) — I know the name, but realize now that I had no idea at all why she was famous. I'm more familiar with AIMEE Mann.

  • 54D: Wile E. Coyote's go-to company (ACME) — I have no problem at all with constructors being a little self-referential in their puzzles...
  • 36D: ___ Linda, Calif. (Nixon's birthplace) (YORBA) — like POUF, this seems non-Mondayish to me. I think I know LOMA LINDA (I went to school near there). YORBA took some crosses. Nixon went to college at Whittier, where there was a fairly sizable earthquake my first semester of college. I was reading Wordsworth's "The Prelude" in bed, preparing for my 8:20 class, when it hit. The memory is still weirdly vivid.
  • 23D: Bronze animal in New York's financial district (BULL) — had the "BU-," saw the first clue word, "Bronze," and instantly wrote in BUST.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

& No need to wonder what's been on my mind ; it's you.

Avant de commencer, une vidéo du dernier film que j'ai vu, Dear John ( j'en parle dans une vidéo de ma chaîne YouTube ), avec les deux plus belles chansons du film, qui est juste une MERVEILLE *-*.
Before starting, a video of the latest film I saw, Dear John, w/ the two most beautiful songs of the movie !


Peu de blablabla aujourd'hui, mais du look.
Passons directement à ce que je porte : un tregging shoppé chez Mim aux soldes de l'année dernière, jamais vraiment porté jusqu'à présent mais trop bien :D. Avec ça, une chemise super fluide que j'adore, vintage, peut-être déjà vu pour certaine dans cette vidéo de ma chaîne YT, ainsi que mes chaussures à plateforme, celles que j'avais pour le Bal de fin d'année 2010, & un ruban NafNaf dans les cheveux façon turban. Pour les bijoux, déjà vu aussi pour certaines dans cette vidéo : une bague turquoise ( genre YSL :D ) & une bague serpent offerte par une amie, les deux venant de chez Bijoux Brigitte.

& Voilààààà ! Je file très vite parce que j'ai pas bossé du tout ce week-end, j'ai été absente de chez moi tout le Samedi ( deux nouvelles paires de chaussures ( ahah Julie, je les montrerais une prochaine fois 8D ) & deux nouveaux vernis également, que je vous montre le plus vite possible ), & aujourd'hui c'était le rush avec pleins de trucs à faire .. Mais ces trucs n'étaient pas mes devoirs ;____;'.

( Bertille, je sais que tu passeras probablement par ici donc je le met là : je sais que je dois répondre à un MP & tout & tout, & ça me saoule trop de pas l'avoir fait aujourd'hui, je pourrais pas non plus le faire ce soir, mais je te promet que je fais ça le plus vite possible, & le plus important de tout : I LOVE YOU ! ).

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Tregging : Mim, shirt : vintage, shoes : Vet'Affaires
rings : Bijoux Brigitte, turban : NafNaf.

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& Des photos en vrac ! 

& Random pics !

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Indignez vous ! de Stéphane Hessel, pas encore lu, je vous tiens au courant ;').

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Le livre de Lauren Conrad, qui est génial !
The book of Lauren Conrad, which is gorgeous !

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Les deux derniers magazines que j'ai acheté : le Citizen K parce qu'il n'est pas cher & très bien graphiquement, & le Style Papers parce qu'il est TROP BIEN.
The two latest magazines I bought : the Citizen K because it's cheap & has very good graphics, & the Style Papers because it's VERY COOL.

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Mes cookies préférés.
My favourites cookies.

& .. Des vidéos, youhou :D.
Alooooors, j'expérimente totalement ce genre de vidéos, laissez moi connaître ce que vous en pensez surtout !

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Rum vodka orange juice drink / SUN 1-30-11 / Foppish courtier Hamlet / Much-wanted toon in Toontown / High-tech officer in film / Phalanx's weaknesses

Constructor: Kevin Der and Jessica A. Hui

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: "Circle of Life" — Rebus puzzle with all twelve animals of the CHINESE ZODIAC (which has a TWELVE-YEAR CYCLE) arranged symmetrically throughout the grid (41D: Collection of animals featured in this puzzle)

Word of the Day: Den HAAG (110A: Den ___, Nederland) —
The Hague [...] is the third largest city in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam, with a population of 485,818 (as of May 31, 2009) (population of agglomeration: 1,011,459) and an area of approximately 100 km². It is located in the west of the country, in the province of South Holland, of which it is also the provincial capital. Along with Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Almere, The Hague is part of the Randstad metropolitan area that totals 6,659,300 inhabitants. (wikipedia)
• • •

Ingenious. Maddening — because of general toughness and odd answers and a RAFT of not-great short fill — but ingenious. Why is the RAFT Finnish, by the way (19D: Finnish transport?)? Do RAFTs have fins? I don't get the joke [Update: Oh, Huck Finn. Huh. All right]. Anyway, this puzzle is remarkably ambitious on an architectural level. I didn't know the NYT was doing 23x23 puzzles anymore. Also, I was told that rebus answers couldn't be more than 4 letters in length because it was unreasonable to expect solvers to be able to write long answers in the squares—at least that was the reason given for the rejection of a rebus puzzle I once submitted. I suppose you could draw the animals, but ... really? Did you do that? No, you didn't. Perhaps special dispensation was given to this puzzle because it's just so damned creative and daring. At any rate, I kept simply writing in the first letter of the animal involved, and then forgetting that that letter was supposed to stand for a whole animal (this kept me from instantly getting [TIGER] WOODS, for example: "TWOOD-? TWOODY? Was there a golfer named TWOODY?"). The marquee answer today is, of course, "CROUCHING [TIGER], HIDDEN [DRAGON]" (91D: With 88-Down, 2000 Ang Lee film) — just brilliant. Must have been just about the first thing in the grid (after the central crossers).

Theme answers:
  • BRASS [MONKEY] (1A: Rum, vodka and orange juice drink) / [MONKEY]ING AROUND
  • RED [ROOSTER] / [ROOSTER] TAILS (10D: Wakes thrown up behind speedboats)

  • [RABBIT], RUN / ROGER [RABBIT] (114D: Much-wanted toon in Toontown)
NW was rough, with a random pope (17A: Pope after Marinus I—pope after who(m)?) and the weird BIGRAMS (1D: Two-letter combinations) and the weirdly indefinite-article-including ANE (3D: Most common draw in Scrabble). Did not like the clue on SNAKE SKINS (95A: Cobra products)—a cobra is a snake. Cobras do not produce SNAKE SKINS, except in the Redundant World of Redundancy. They produce cobra skins, or just skins. Never seen MUESLIS pluralized before, but why not (12D: Cereal mixes)? Love the double-breakfast moment with MUESLIS and GRANOLA (73D: Breakfast in a bar). Had noooo idea that Den HAAG was just Dutch for The Hague. Also had no idea who this RADO guy was (81D: "Hair" co-writer James). I know what a sea cow is, but a SEA PIG? News to me. My favorite non-theme answer is SALARY CAP (140A: Topic at an owners/players meeting), and I now have "Hey, JUDE" stuck firmly in my head (60D: Revelation comes after it).

  • 49A: So-called "Heart of Texas" (WACO) — Makes me think of Branch Davidians and Dr Pepper.
  • 111A: Ubangi tributary (UELE) — only word I know (besides the preposterous UEY and Bob UECKER) that starts "UE-"; very much worth committing to memory.
  • 112A: Phalanx weaknesses (GAPS) — Very weird clue for GAPS. Also, my brain kept processing "Phalanx" as "Larynx"...
  • 139A: "The Lovely Bones" composer, 2009 (ENO) — I did not know that. Add this clue to the seemingly endless list of ways to clue Brian ENO.
  • 11D: Revealing 1970s wear (HOT PANTS) — great answer. Maybe better than SALARY CAP. I like that they are called "PANTS" even though they are shorts. Very short shorts.

  • 18D: 1962 action film set in Jamaica ("DR. NO") — I really should see this movie. Is it possible that it's the most popular film title in all Crossworld?
  • 36D: Hotelier Hilton (CONRAD) — if you attend the Crosswords L.A. Tournament at Loyola-Marymount University in May, you will compete inside a building named after this guy (if I remember correctly).
  • 55D: Foppish courtier in "Hamlet" (OSRIC) — Ooh, "foppish." Good word. I don't remember foppishness in "Hamlet." It's been a while.
  • 65D: 1985 John Malkovich drama ("ELENI") — would give "DR. NO" a run for its money if it were somewhat more famous (and thus more desirable as a crossword answer).
  • 74D: High-tech officer in film (ROBOCOP) — For some reason, I don't like "in" in this clue. Want "of." Or "of movie fame," or something like that. "ROBOCOP" poses no threat to "DR. NO"'s supremacy.

SYNDICATED READERS (those doing the puzzle on 2/6)listen up!=>Matt Gaffney is running a special crossword contest from his (very popular) website—here's the message he sent me a couple days ago:
I'm running a special month here at MGWCC ("Matt Gaffney's Weekly Crossword Contest") called "Literary February." Four book-themed puzzles, and *every* solver who answers the four February metapuzzles correctly wins a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set.
Matt's a fantastic constructor and his metapuzzles add an extra bit of fun to the solving experience. Get in on the action. You'll be glad you did.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Moment for life

Alors, alors...!

Vous êtes quelques-uns à vous être dirigés sur la bonne piste quant à mon teasing sur les nouvelles que je vais vous donner dans quelques temps.

J-9 pour l'annonce d'une des deux collaborations dont je vous ai vaguement parlé.

Pour l'autre, Capital de M6 s'est penché sur notre cas. On enregistre l'émission mardi. Autant vous dire que je ne suis pas tranquille, moi qui ai l'habitude des sujets plus "kikoolol" dans lesquels je fais la folle...

Sinon, l'installation avance doucement mais sûrement, chaque jour une nouvelle pièce vient enrichir l'appartement mais vous imaginez bien que ce n'est pas si easy que ça en a l'air. Se mettre d'accord sur la déco et quel meuble va aller là ou là... Ok il y a pire mais ce ne sont pas des choses auxquelles Martin & moi sommes habitués, c'est un peu "new way of life", aaaah la vie à deux, ses joies, ses peines.

Je suis impatiente que les beaux jours reviennent (allez, encore deux mois), que notre appart soit totalement aménagé, que l'on puisse recevoir famille & amis correctement, blablabla.... Vous voyez !

Aujourd'hui deux clips cool

Envie d'un gâteau ?
Faites comme Martin & Balthazar, improvisez !








Visite nocturne de Margaux...

Bien sage.

Friday, January 28, 2011

English poet/composer Gurney / SAT 1-29-11 / Smallish ballpark in slang / Freshwater plant also called wild celery / Soapmaking compound chemically

Constructor: Ned White

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: EEL GRASS (38D: Freshwater plant also called wild celery) —

Vallisneria is a genus of freshwater aquatic plant, commonly called eelgrass, tape grass or vallis. The genus has 6-10 species that are widely distributed, but do not grow in colder regions. // Vallisneria is a submersed plant that spreads by runners and sometimes forms tall underwater meadows. Leaves arise in clusters from their roots. The leaves have rounded tips, and definite raised veins. Single white female flowers grow to the water surface on very long stalks. Tape grass fruit is a banana-like capsule having many tiny seeds. (wikipedia)

• • •

Wow, this one put up almost no resistance, and my experience of Saturdays being easier than Fridays continues. More often than not, in recent months, I've dusted off the Saturday faster than the Friday. I thought Fridays were supposed to be easier, but I'm just not convinced they are any more. Can't imagine someone taking longer to finish this one than it took to do yesterday's, for instance (which took me about 50% longer). I started with the cinchy MEL (4D: TV diner employer of 9-Down), which gave me the obvious ALICE at 9-Down, and that pair gave me toeholds in two different parts of the grid. Pretty serendipitous. Crossed MEL with WHOEVER (15A: "It doesn't matter ... anyone's fine"), then crossed that with SWEATSHOPS (1D: Much of New York's Garment District, once) and proceeded to take the NW apart. I might have gotten slowed down here and there, but I never got stuck. Not once. Not complaining; just puzzled.

Today's puzzle provides an excellent illustration of how the joints, or narrow passageways connecting the more wide-open white spaces, bear a lot of stress so that the longer answers can shine (which is as it should be). The ugliest things about this grid are these passageways: OVIS over ATA in the SE, KOH in the N (27A: Soapmaking compound, chemically), AIS (aieee!) in the NW—all bad, but all holding big chunks of deliciousness in place, and therefore all forgivable and forgettable. Nothing terribly obscure today, except perhaps this IVOR guy (5D: English poet/composer Gurney), and EELGRASS, which I'd never heard of but got easily from crosses. Didn't know what [Lazuline] meant, but I had the BLUE and just guessed the SKY part (confirmed by ENYA—see, she's good for something; 55D: Mononymous four-time Grammy winner). In the "Lesson Learned" category today we have BANDBOX (58A: Smallish ballpark, in slang), which baffled me earlier in my solving career. I was told then that "any baseball fan knows what that means"—but I'd been a baseball fan for 30 years and had never heard it. To this day, the only place I've encountered it is in crosswords. Twice now. [Note, that may be a lie—I have a faint memory of seeing the word in print *just* after my first crossword BANDBOX experience]

  • 1A: Eric ___, Google C.E.O. beginning in 2001 (SCHMIDT) — I think I just read that this won't be true anymore, or maybe already isn't true. Something about going younger, getting back the entrepreneurial spirit, businessspeak businessspeak, etc. Yep, it looks like Google co-found Larry Page (b. 1973) will take over as C.E.O. in April.
  • 8A: Period between Shaban and Shawwal (RAMADAN) — "Period between" and Arabic-sounding names tells me all I need to know to get this one.
  • 16A: Home of Nascar's longest oval (ALABAMA) — the whole damn state is the "home?" Random.
  • 18A: Title for Columbus, in the Indies (VICEROY) — when you've got "-ICERO-" in place before you ever see the clue, this one's not hard, though I thought briefly CICERO might be involved...
  • 40A: Present day figure in Paris? ("PÈRE NOEL") — i.e. Father Christmas
  • 2D: Upscale wedding reception amenity (CHAIR COVER) — interesting answer, though "amenity" seems weird to me. They're usually plain and don't exactly provide added pleasure. Also, not terribly "upscale," in my experience.
  • 7D: TV host with a star on Canada's Walk of Fame (TREBEK) — off the "R" in WHOEVER, I honestly considered DR. PHIL.
  • 11D: He had righteous blood, per Matthew 23:35 (ABEL) — nice little misdirect there, using N.T. to clue O.T. figure.
  • 28D: Texas city near the Coahuila border (DEL RIO) — really helps to know your southwest geography today, with DEL RIO and TAOS (21D: County with the restor town Red River) holding the key to the grid's NE territory.

  • 31D: Staples of jazz music (TENOR SAXES) — Didn't think of Mavis Staples as a jazz singer, so took "Staples" at face value and was eventually rewarded for doing so.
  • 45D: Emmy-winning reality show host of 2008, '09 and '10 (PROBST) — Jeff PROBST of "Survivor" fame. I used to watch that show. Wife still does. It's a (very) minor point of contention in the household.
  • 42A: Cheap cigar, in slang (EL ROPO) — I know almost all my cigar terminology from crosswords. I can only think of CLARO right now, but I'm sure there's more.
  • 33D: Big creature in un zoológico (OSO) — a bear. I had the last "O" and just guessed. Correctly.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Overseer of Scottish heraldry / FRI 1-28-11 / Washington Irving hero informally / Mythical mortal who helped raise Dionysus / On-demand flier

Constructor: Kevin Der

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: René COTY (55D: President after Auriol) —
René Jules Gustave Coty (French pronunciation: [ʁəne kɔti]; 20 March 1882 – 22 November 1962) was President of France from 1954 to 1959. He was the second and last president under the French Fourth Republic. (wikipedia)
• • •

A fine 72-worder from Mr. Der, but one I had trouble moving through, generally. Very herky-jerky progress: nothing, a little progress, slow, very fast, stopped, creeping, fast, slow, "people really called him 'RIP?'," and done (45A: Washington Irving hero, informally). Finished significantly over my average Friday time, but I have this weird feeling that if I'd simply looked at the easier parts first, or earlier, things might have been different. Dunno. I liked the puzzle fine, though nothing made me cheer, and several clues left me feeling like "... yeah, I guess that's right. [Shrug]." I thought a SABOT *was* a clog—no idea "French" had anything to do with it (41A: French for "clog"). I knew the MEDES but have no association of them with the "Iron Age" (18A: Iron Age people). COME for [Take place]? Yes, OK. "Whatever may COME." I suppose. "NE'ER" is [Aye's opposite, poetically]? "Yes" and "never" are opposites? I guess "Aye" means "always" here ...? Do people know that meaning of "aye?" Odd. Veterans "recall" IRAQ? In that any veteran might recall any war he/she was in ... sure. I think of (animated) cartoons as having FRAMES and comics as having PANELS (27A: Cartoon series), but people call "Peanuts" and the "Wizard of Id" et al. "cartoons" all the time, so ... I mean, it all works, but often the cluing just did not feel CRISP(ED) (38D: Like rice in some cereal treats). Fill is quite smooth, though, with only TAL and INO seeming at all subpar.

[Which is worse: deceiving your daughter or letting her eat that "food"?]

First letter in the grid was the "S" at the end of SEARS (8D: Brands ... or carrier of brands), which immediately got me RUSTY (24A: Out of top form). Last letter in the grid was the "I" in RIP. I ended up using the RUSTY / TETES / EMS nexus as my hub, striking first into the NE, then (fruitlessly at first) into the SE, then S, then NW and N, and finally SW. Toughest parts were, first, the chunk between and including LYON (5D: Lord ___ (overseer of Scottish heraldry)) and TAL up top, and second, AIR TAXI (was briefly mystified by the letter string "A-RTA-I") (39D: On-demand flier).

Miscues included:
  1. GUN for UZI (4D: Magazine holder)
  2. ELIHU for ADIEU (7D: Literally, "to God")
  3. LYMON for WYMAN (21D: Longtime Rolling Stones bassist) — no idea what I was thinking there
  4. CRAZY TALK for CRAZY IDEA (15A: Nut's suggestion)
  5. SLURP for SLOSH (30D: Washing machine sound)
  6. GREAT MIND for QUICK MIND (49D: With 22-Across, genius's asset)

[Random three seconds of bikini-clad boobs in here ... No Idea why ...]

Proudest moment: getting BIENNIA with no crosses despite not knowing anything at all about the Ryder Cup except that it involves golf (42D: Stretches between Ryder Cups). Happiest moment: imagining a man who turns into toast when the moon is full (65A: Dead duck's cry).

  • 10A: Savannah growth (COPSE) — didn't know COPSEs were more a feature of "savannahs" than anywhere else
  • 19A: Mythical mortal who helped raise Dionysus (INO) — No clue. One of a handful of "No clue"s today. See also TAL (9D: ___ vez (Mexican "maybe")) and COTY.
  • 31A: Frog-eating bird (ANI) — as with COPSE, I had no idea the clue information was particular to the answer.
  • 47A: Vigil locale (SHRINE) — read "Virgil locale"; this probably would have happened even if I hadn't been currently teaching the Aeneid.
  • 12D: Dish topped with crushed peanuts and lime (PAD THAI) — big, fat, tasty gimme.
  • 36A: Herpetologist's supply (ANTI-VENOM) — briefly forgot what "herpetologist" meant. Somehow "HEPA filter" got in my head and I was thinking about air pollutants. . .
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Luv in da hood

Après une période durant laquelle j'ai un peu délaissé le blog, je reviens, avec plein de belles choses !

Vous n'êtes pas sans savoir qu'après des mois de recherche, nous avons enfin trouvé notre appart.

Nous avons dû repeindre et bricoler nous même, avec nos petites mains et nos quelques connaissances, ce fût long mais nous y sommes, presque parfaitement installés, il ne nous manque plus que les meubles...

Oui, car au moment même où je tape ces lignes, je suis pauvrement assise sur du parquet mais je passe sûrement les instants les plus folkloriques de ma vie. Entre dormir dans une chambre qui pue la peinture et qui me file des boutons sur le visage, porter 4 quatre jours de suite la même tenue d'ouvrier pour peindre, me nourrir de sandwiches du matin au soir et donc prendre du poids, forcément, j'ai incarné le Glamour (pointe d'ironie) pendant dix jours, je plains Martin et les quelques personnes que j'ai vu.

Genre mon père qui est venu visiter l'appart "Oh, tu as une tête de droguée !"
Le pire est derrière nous, la vie et le blog vont pouvoir reprendre un cours normal...

Et bien évidemment, comme à chaque fois qu'il se produit quelque chose de cool, d'autres suivent, j'ai plein de choses à vous dire, avec du retard certes, mais des choses trop excitantes !

Premièrement, stayed tuned, une énorme nouvelle qui, je l'espère, va en réjouir plus d'une (et d'un ?) pour la Saint-Valentin. Bon ok, on s'en fout tous de cette fête mytho, elle n'est que prétexte.
Messieurs, je m'adresse à vous : si vous êtes en quête du joli cadeau, un peu décalé mais juste comme il faut, connectez-vous ici-même le lundi 7 février, je balance la news de choc... J-12 ! Mesdemoiselles, je vous fais confiance car je sais que vous me lisez régulièrement.
Un indice ? Hmmm... Vous connaissez ma passion des bijoux très fins en or.
Merde, j'en ai déjà dit trop !

Une deuxième chose également, une belle collaboration qui s'est concrétisée aujourd'hui, je meurs d'impatience de tout vous dire là, maintenant, mais je dois attendre encore trois bonnes semaines.
Un indice aussi ? Euuuuh... Des fringues, des filles cool et surtout du long terme !

Allez hop, je ravale ma langue et je me casse !






Jean - H&M
Tee-shirt - Luv Hood
Chemise - Wrangler
Boots - Jonak
Pendentif -Un sur Cinq
Boucles d'oreille - Gas

Musical syllable singing system / THU 1-27-11 / Screen swinger Ron / Rice with three rings / Tickle Me Elmo manufacturer

Constructor: Patrick Blindauer

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: J to CH — Change "J" to "CH" in familiar two-word phrases where second word starts with "J-" — wackiness ensues

Word of the Day: SOLFA (24A: Musical syllable singing system) —
In music, solfège (French pronunciation: [sɔl.fɛʒ], also called solfeggio, sol-fa, solfa or tonic sol-fa) is a pedagogical solmization technique for the teaching of sight-singing in which each note of the score is sung to a special syllable, called a solfège syllable (or "sol-fa syllable"). The seven syllables commonly used for this practice in English-speaking countries are: do (or doh in tonic sol-fa), re, mi, fa, sol (so in tonic sol-fa), la, and ti/si, which may be heard in "Do-Re-Mi" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's score for The Sound of Music, as well as the Robert Maxwell song, "Solfeggio". In other languages, si is used (see below) for the seventh scale tone, while its earlier use in English continues in many areas. (wikipedia)
• • •

Mostly enjoyed myself with this one, though I got caught out at JACKO / SOLFA. No idea. Or, rather, *some* idea, because I eventually came up with "O," but only after being fairly certain it was "Y" — "JACK-" having led me to JACKY (O) far more readily than Michael "JACKO" Jackson (5D: Onetime tabloid nickname). SOLFA was a big ??? to me, though I must have seen it somewhere before, as it rings a very faint bell now that I look at it. I think the word "syllable" is in the clue precisely so that I *wouldn't* guess SYLFA, but all it did was reinforce SYLFA. Weird.

Theme is simple, but resulting theme answers (and clues) are funny, so I approve. With only four theme answers (I say "only" only because it's Mr. Blindauer, who can cram 'em in), I'm surprised there was as much lackluster short fill as there was; you know, your EEKs and OERs and MMMs and ENCYCs and YSERs and INITs and ESTOs and INTLs and ORTOs and ESSEs ... none of which is terrible on its own, but which in aggregate felt a little sub-Blindauer. A couple of right jabs for the pop culture haters today in LUPE and KATIE (I read all those damned books and don't remember KATIE, 52D: ___ Bell, witch who was a fellow student of Harry Potter at Hogwarts). I was luckier with LUPE (31A: Hip-hop's ___ Fiasco). I own an album of his and (no joke) I had this song in my head as I was solving the puzzle this morning, even before I hit the LUPE clue (Kanye West, featuring LUPE Fiasco):

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Mean, illegal wrestling hold? (DIRTY CHOKE)
  • 34A: Standard tobacco wad? (ORTHODOX CHEW) — I had "ORDINARY CHAW" at first ... ?
  • 43A: Woo President Arthur? (COURT CHESTER)
  • 63A: Fat fool? (BROAD CHUMP)
Weird to be done in by a pop culture clue (JACKO) when I benefited so much from knowing all this puzzle's pop culture (and sports) answers. Watched ALEX P. Keaton every Thursday growing up, Jerry RICE was the most accomplished wide receiver of my generation (if not of all time) (5A: Rice with three rings), never saw "Dune" but know most other films of David LYNCH pretty well ("Blue Velvet" and "Wild at Heart" were popular when I was in college), am currently making my way through the entire run of "Arrested Development" featuring Michael CERA as young George Michael Bluth (37D: Michael of "Superbad"), and Gordie HOWE was featured prominently in an episode of "The Simpsons" ("Bart the Lover") where Bart cruelly creates a fake secret admirer for his teacher Edna Krabappel and when asked for a picture sends in one of Gordie HOWE (28D: N.H.L. star nicknamed "Mr. Hockey").

  • 15A: One of a literary trio (ATHOS) — of "The Three Musketeers"; I'm currently reading Dumas's "The Count of Monte Cristo" and *loving* it.
  • 51A: Where Panasonic and Sanyo are headquartered (OSAKA) — i.e."Japanese city" ... not too hard to figure out.
  • 60A: Noted earthquake locale (BAY AREA) — well that's true. Also, Jerry RICE played in the BAY AREA.
  • 9D: River that begins in Nord (YSER) — Back-to-back YSER days. Who knows what we'll learn about the YSER tomorrow ...
  • 13D: Screen swinger Ron (ELY) — anyone else want "JEREMY?" Anyone? No? OK.
  • 61D: "Don't you forget about me" ("AHEM") — what an odd, interesting clue for "AHEM." The clue makes me (and every suburban kid my age) think of only one thing:

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. a message from today's constructor, Patrick Blindauer:

"I've also got a crossword contest going at my website,,
which has actually being extended until March 1. The winner of the big prize is still being drawn on Feb. 1, but I'm releasing a bonus puzzle at the same time and every correct meta-answer I get before March 1 will get a free copy of one of my puzzle books."


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