SUNDAY, Jul. 15, 2007 - Patrick Berry

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "In the Beginning" - familiar phrases have "IN" tacked on to the beginning, creating wacky phrases which are then clued.

The theme answers:

  • 23A: Dire proof-of-purchase slip? (Invoice of doom)
  • 28A: What Dr. Frankenstein tried to do? (Instill life)
  • 36A: Bored kayaker's movements? (Indifferent strokes)
  • 56A: Much-needed windfall? (Income to the rescue)
  • 74A: Like workers' salaries under a miserly boss? (Increase-resistant) - this was by far the hardest for me, primarily because "crease-resistant" is the least familiar base phrase of the whole bunch
  • 91A: Hogwarts? (Invocational school) - this was second-hardest, for no good reason, especially since this house is in High Harry Potter gear at the moment (Sahra's latest obsession)
  • 102A: Sharply focused Warsaw residents? (Intent Poles) - I like this one a lot
  • 112A: Clairvoyants' charges? (Intuition fees)

I rated this puzzle "Medium" because I felt like I really had to struggle in parts; and yet I ended up with something close to a record Sunday time, so I don't know what's going on. I was very, very, very lucky to the get the first four Acrosses right out of the box, especially since the first two were only semi-educated guesses.

  • 1A: Ancient Greece's Seven _____ (Sages)
  • 6A: Wrinkled melon (casaba)
  • 12A: "Well, yeah!" ("Duh!")
  • 15A: Doctrine (ism)
Off of 1A, I was able to make a good dent in the NW, but even with SK, then SKI, and then, I'm not kidding, SKILIF- in place, I could not not not see SKI LIFT at 5D: It takes up many chairs. In fact, that final "T" was nearly the last letter I entered in the grid. The biggest problem for me, though, was a stretch of territory running from about Colorado to Louisiana and then up to South Carolina - a stretch which I will call the the BAROJA-DOME pass. Lots of uneven, shaky ground on this pass, with rattlers and crocs all around. Here are the legs of the journey, in order:

66D: Basque novelist Pio (Baroja) - maybe I should call this the "Roswell" portion of the puzzle, because this answer is from Outer Space. My reaction: "The Basques have novelists now?" I feel as if I may have seen this answer before, and said something similar. BAROJA runs into ...

88A: Missouri city (Joplin) - without the "J" or "P," I was totally lost. ROSLIN was the only thing coming to mind. JOPLIN cuts over into...

89D: Egyptian coin (piaster) - I recognize this as a word, but I don't think I could have told you what it meant before today. From here, take INVOCATIONAL SCHOOL over to...

95D: Something that helps you follow the game? (spoor) - one of the ugliest words in the English language. I have honestly never heard of it. I assume it has something to do with hunting... yes: the track, trail, or droppings of an animal - nice. Ugh. Knowing SPOOR would have made the following stretch of road a lot easier...

101A: Crown insets (opals) - I kept wanting OPALS, but that kept giving me SPOOR, which is clearly not a word. Only it is. A word. Ugh. Oh, and I had trouble with the "L" in OPALS because of the intersecting answer, whose clue was mystifying to me...

85D: "The Witches" author (Dahl) - UPDIKE wrote "Witches of Eastwick," and besides URIS (who wrote nothing with "Witches" in the title), I couldn't think of a name to go here. Had the -AH- part and considered HAHN at one point, only because that would have given me a recognizable word at my next, and final, leg of my treacherous trans-grid journey...

85A: _____ of the Rock (Jerusalem shrine) (Dome) - HAHN at 85D would have given me HOME, and "HOME of the Rock" sounds correct, if a bit like an advertising slogan. But finally giving in to OPALS at 101A set everything in motion, so HAHN became DAHL and HOME became DOME and that, my friends, was that.

Other interesting bits:

  • 66A: Water pipes (bongs) - wow, really? On a Sunday? OK.
  • 21A: Axis, of a sort (entente) - "Axis" seems a stretch here. The whole NE was tough for me, as this answer paralleled the odd (to me) NAME DAY (25A: Annual celebration, for a Catholic), and both of them run into 17D: Gangster Lansky (Meyer) - whose name I barely know. I also forgot that DENIRO (12D: "The Good Shepherd" director, 2006) ever directed anything, which didn't help matters in the NE.
  • 113D: William Tell's birthplace (Uri) - Had UTZ. And ULM. Contemplated UZI.
  • 122A: Rocky's girl (Adrian) - my good friend Kathy used to teach in ADRIAN, Michigan, so we have said "Yo, ADRIAN!" in the Rocky voice a lot. A lot.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jlsnyc 10:17 AM  

"utz" -- a *fine* regional potato chip! ;-)

enjoyed this puzzle, too, which i solved with relative ease. though that "dome/dahl" crossing also caused me lotso consternation. dang!



Jerome 10:42 AM  


Nice write up.

I found the puzzle fairly easy, but enjoyable, too. Never heard of NAME DAY or I'm Not LISA.

Also assumed crown jewels would be of higher quality than OPALS (rubies, sapphires, etc).

Thought you might comment on & post a photo of one of your favorites, SALMA Hayek.

Wendy 10:50 AM  

Has this happened to anyone else? The longer I do the puzzle every day, the more I do not (as much) enjoy the Sunday, which formerly was the only one I ever did. It always seems to be such a slog through the quagmire, but I'm not sure why.

Had lots of wrong thinking today ...

I had IN and OFDOOM which kept suggesting Indiana Jones, of course, though that and his temple couldn't have fit under any rebus scenario. I couldn't figure out what the proof of purchase was, and when it was shown to be INVOICE, I had a problem with that. I think of an invoice as something you send after a purchase, to get paid. I think of a receipt or one of those code dealies as the proof of purchase.

SPOOR - uh whatever the &@#$. I had Score for a long time, and as far as I'm concerned that should have been the answer.

Had Walrus instead of EGGMAN. That's some diabolical cluing there. The same song, even! OUCH.

Had Midwife instead of MESSIAH. Being of the heathen variety, still not even sure what the meaning here is.

Had Soused and Sloshed for SMASHED.

Had HTTP instead of HTML for a while. DUH. Also T-bills instead of TNOTES.

Was proud to get EMERITI except I misspelled it Emereti.

Some words I liked seeing were ASPIC (something I was served as a side dish, not a garnish, all through my childhood, in the tomato form), OCELOT and COLOSSEUM. ASPIC probably does show up a lot, but for some reason it just tickles me whenever it does. Reminds me of P.G. Wodehouse, I think, who had a tendency to describe characters as quivering like an aspic.

hobbyist 11:08 AM  

I too recently started to do the daily puzzles and the Sunday ones have become almost a chore and a bore. I don't learn much and, to be frank, prefer Mel Taub, the cryrtics and even the split decions one of today. I felt proud when I solved it. A few "aha" moments vis a vis none in the upper puzzle.
By the way, I hate the diagramless ones and wish they would fade away and leave space for more diverting ones.

Orange 11:33 AM  

Sahra would love Roald Dahl's books. We read James and the Giant Peach to Ben, but for sheer wackiness, you can't beat The Twits. It's about a dreadful couple who play nasty pranks on each other, torment the birds and monkeys, and receive their wildly implausible comeuppance.

Name days are a huge deal for Poles (intent and otherwise!) and Czechs—a bigger deal than their birthday. This wouldn't work well in the U.S., because how can there be saintly name days for names like Kaylee and Jaden?

I kinda liked the clue for SPOOR, but I didn't want to gross Rex out by talking about animal droppings in my post.

Apparently there is no such town as Hamlin, Missouri. Who knew?

Scott 12:05 PM  

I confess when I saw the theme I was hoping for witty and lighthearted references to the first few chapters of Genesis. Oh well. Indifferent strokes for indifferent folks.

alleghenyuu 12:13 PM  

Diagramless ones are my favorite on Sunday. I haven't figured out the rotation and am always disappointed when it has been a few weeks and it has not appeared yet.

Anyone know the rotation of the second puzzles in the magazine (so I won't miss it and hobbyist can ignore it)? If this is common knowledge to everyone, my apologies.

Anonymous 12:13 PM  


What is a fast time for you for the Sunday puzzle...just giving me something to shoot for.

Jerome 1:00 PM  

alleghenyuu, I think the accrostic appears every other week and the others rotate with no real pattern.

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

It was a nice gift to get the theme early and fill in all those "INs" at the beginnings of the long answers.
BTW, Joplin, MO is one of the stops along the route in the lyrics of "You Get Your Kicks On Route 66".
I also did a double-take when I realized that the NYT referred to a drug-culture staple: BONGS.

profphil 1:56 PM  

I got spoor only because I remembered the term from an anthropology class I took decades ago. It was my first college class and we read a book about the Eskimos/Innuit which spent much time on tracking polar bears by their spoor. The book (I think it was called"On Top of The World")was a great read and have always meant to find it and read it again. I remember looking for the word in dictionaries and finding it in only a few. So my college education has finally paid off.

profphil 2:02 PM  

Just Googled the title of the book :

"Top Of The World." It's fiction but anthropologically accurate and a fantastic read.

Isabella di Pesto 2:20 PM  

Name day was easy, since in Italian culture, we celebrate our "onomastica," nameday. And yes, it is a big deal.

St. Isabel of France was born in March, 1225, but the exact date is lost to history. Any day I choose in March is my nameday.

"Bong hits 4 Jesus."

Karen 2:41 PM  

I like the word SPOOR. It sits in the same compartment of my brain as guano and fewmets.

The I'm Not Lisa clue was out of my area. Per wikipedia, it is "one of country music's greatest songs of all time," but it rings no chords in my head.

For Roald DAHL, I loved his short story 'The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar' about a poker player who wants to become clairvoyant.

Tyrone 3:03 PM  

Acrostics come every other week, cryptics twice every 18, puns and anagrams once every 18, and I don't know about the rest.

Anonymous 3:27 PM  

The "Split Decisions" second puzzle today was a lot of fun.

Sandy 3:51 PM  

What Rex didn't realize is that Sahra actually has a copy of "The Witches" in her room - I've left it on his desk for him to see. But her room is so disorganized that not even she knows everything she has. Plus, as Rex told you all, Harry Potter trumps everything right now. Sahra's first words today: "So, Moaning Myrtle is a little girl ghost?"

Fitzy 4:58 PM  

My quibble of the (Sun)day is with the words NAMEDAY being refered to as "Annual celebration for a Catholic"... while it is a relatively big deal in Catholic Spain (& maybe other Western Europe countries, I really can't speak to that)... I think it is a much larger deal in countries that are predominantly Eastern Orthodox ... I seem to recall a key scene in War & Peace being set on Natasha's "Saint Day"...

What saved me from filling in "WALRUS" instead of "EGGMAN" was that the clue said "lyric" and not "title" or "song"... by way of full disclosure, I already had the "G" from "GREENER" and the "M" from "MEAD" filled in ...

"I'm Not Lisa" was Jessi Coulter's big crossover hit... I think Faith Hill recently did a cover version... sung from the point of view of a "Julie" whose man still holds a torch for a certain "Lisa"... a haunting melody from the AM radio of my childhood... WHN was NYC's country station at the time...

Strong work from anonymous on Joplin being mentioned in the Route 66 song... (which I recently taught to my students as part of a geography lesson)... here's a bit of trivia on the songs composer...Bobby Troup's 3 other claims to fame: husband of Julie London, played Dr. Joe Early on the show "Emergency!" and played the small cameo role of the jeep driver in the "M*A*S*H" movie...
"G%&&(%$ Army jeep!!!!"

Michael 5:02 PM  

I liked this puzzle, and was proud of myself for getting some of the obscurer clues (SPOOR, URI, BAROJA) and enjoyed some punny non-theme ones (One who's done stretches? = EXCON; SKILIFT; Puppet show? = ALF). But a simple one nearly threw me off. I should've realized the clue "I am the ___" (Beatles lyric) said lyric, not song. WALRUS is 6-letters, but it's not correct like EGGMAN.

Enjoy your Sunday and

Kitt 6:05 PM  

Nice puzzle. Easy-ish but enough tough spots to be interesting. Good Sunday fare for me! I got "intentpoles" first and that led me to figure out the theme.

Rex, I grew up in a town ten miles from Adrian Mi. How funny! It's not a place a lot of folks have heard of. I've never seen it as a crossword clue but at least it made a blog : ) Did your friend work at Sienna Heights or Adrian College (I attended both during HS as part of an AP type program) or did she work for the public schools?

Thanks, Mrs. Rex, for the Dahl info. We need to keep the King on his toes and we'll take all the help we can get. Some of us want you to secretly put an Ally McBeal dvd on his desk -- but that's another story! ;)

Ulrich 6:16 PM  

I guess there are no Catholics among the people writing comments--so, the only time they came across a name day was in the context of a country, not a religion. Catholics worship saints, and the better known ones have a special day in the year dedicated to them. Furthermore, Catholic parents used to be told to give their children the names of saints. The net result for children was that there was a second day in the year on which they could expect personal presents, the day dedicated to the saint after whom they were named. B.t.w. St Ulrich's day is the fourth of July!

Anonymous 6:34 PM  

Great BTroup trivia, Fitzy, thank you.

I happened to remember SPOOR from one of Nevada Barr's mysteries about Park Ranger Anna Pigeon.

Fairly easy, but couldn't get the DENIRO / NAMEDAY thing. If only I had thought "DUH" (doh!) it would have fallen.

Loved the Split Decisions puzzle today, and Diagramless is my favorite oddity.

I can relate some to what folks have said about the Sunday slog. There's an incredible build-up of aniticpation and excitement and trepidaton moving from Thursday to Friday to Saturday, then...this! (But, I do enjoy Patrick Barry puzzles). Also, the combination of ink and the slippery Sunday magazine stock isn't a thrill.

Anonymous 6:52 PM  

The Steely Dan song Doctor Wu uses the word piaster.

Wendy 7:08 PM  

Anonymous 6:34 - so true about the slippery paper stock, as I'm a pen puzzler as well (gel pens are the bomb! - love the feel). I've all but stopped doing it in the magazine and just print it out like I do the rest of the week.

Norm 7:23 PM  

Sunday magazine stock + Pilot extra fine point SCA-UF rocks! IMHO.

Anonymous 7:41 PM  

ulrich--just to be picky, Catholics don't "worship" saints, they "venerate" them

jae 7:44 PM  

I'm playing catch up so I did this puzzle and last Sunday's today. This one was more meh than last week's. I (former episcopalian, current west coast atheist)was born on Christmas Eve so my parents celebrated my brithday in June on St. John's day. We watched The Good Shepard last night so DENIRO was a gimme. BTW does anyone have a take on what Wilson giving the dollar to the Russian bodyguard at the end of the movie meant??

Anonymous 8:20 PM  

wendy - re. "print it out"..this is something one can do from the NYT site I take it? Anything I need to know? Sounds doubly-good in that my wife would get to read the mag section earlier...

norm - thanks for the tip on the Pilot SCAUF. I used to love the Pilots. A couple years ago, after continuous moaning and complaing about the whereabouts of my pens, and blaming my wife for taking them (though we both knew I was the absent-minded one), she "got" me at XMAS by giving me a box filled with about 400 ballpoints! So I've been shamed into using them ever since. As Elton sang, "Take me to the Pilot..."

Kitt 8:44 PM  

Anon: 12:13

Until a few months ago Rex used to post his actual puzzle times -- so, if you go back a bit to March in his archive you will see the times for all of the puzzles including Sundays.

Take Care~

Linda G 8:49 PM  

Ulrich, I was raised Roman Catholic (in Connecticut) and we never celebrated Name Day...I don't recall ever hearing about it before today. I don't know if there's a Saint Linda, but my siblings are Mary, Michael and Thomas...all well-known saint names. And to think...we were deprived of gifts all these years ; )

Ulrich 9:26 PM  

To anonymous and Linda:

Somehow, the sentence that I was raised as a Roman Catholic in Germany disappeared from my comment--it would have explained my misuse of the word "worship"--the German word would be "verehren", which really means "venerate." And to Linda: I now live near New Haven, Connecticut, married to one of the many Italo-Americans living there, and it's true: my wife also never had her name day celebrated, and like you, she feels cheated. (one other tidbit: She was told that she looked a lot like Ava Gardner).

Fitzy 9:32 PM  

My friend Linda told me that while that is her legal name "Linda" the RC church insisted that her parents christen her "Belinda"... I guess after a "St. Belinda"...

Wendy 9:56 PM  

Anonymous 8:20 p.m. - The NYT site has the puzzles but you have to pay a monthly or annual subscription for them unless you are a subscriber to the paper. As of a few months ago, NYT is now making free access to the site a benefit of being a subscriber to the paper, even if it's only a Sunday subscription. That's how I get it.

Anonymous 10:14 PM  

wendy, gracias. I subscribe to the Sunday, so super. Maybe I'll stop the schizophrenia of being "Six Weeks Later" on the daily blog comments but current on the Sunday puzzle. That would reduce things to tri-polar at least. Thanks for the follow-up.

Alex 10:29 PM  

One of the great things about this blog is seeing what people find difficult or obscure. Sometimes it is reassuring to find others have the same gap.

Sometimes it is just interesting. I've never been hunted in my life. Never tracked man or animal but SPOOR is completely a word in my vocabulary and once I considered the alternate meaning of "game" I got it off the R.

Anonymous 11:13 PM  

alex -- great synapse leap on the SPOOR. The thing about crosswords, as opposed to say, the acrostic, is how cool it is that one cross-letter can get your mind holographically around something that works. At times today. while doing the "Split Decisions", I found myself looking for a fulfill that need.

Karen 2:59 PM  

Hi all! Would someone who completed the Split Decisions be willing to post up their answers? I am stuck on 3 or 4 words, and it is affecting my Monday : )

Fergus 3:40 PM  

Would the Supreme Court have been more lenient with 'BONG hits for the MESSIAH,' you know the dude who will 'deliver' the faithful to heaven during the Rapture?

Michael 4:48 PM  

could someone tell me how to read the down clues in "Split Decisions" Is it 12
34, or



Anonymous 6:42 PM  

Karen re. Split Decisions -- Spoiler Alert

Across: marina / canister / alto / blowfish / raft /
nameless / coral / nixed / epistle / science / tweet / rivet / discrete / frog / converts / lieu /
overtime / entire

Down: jasmine / morgue / abodes / condemned /
silk / indecent / chemist / two / royal / semesters /distinct / replace / stirrup / bruise / wiggle / rodeo / funk / use

No guarantee!

Ulrich 6:54 PM  

How do others feel about "lulu"--not being a native speaker, that split had me completely stumped until I decided that "lulu" must be a word and consulted a dictionary, which clearly marked it as "slang"--is something like that legit in a NYT puzzle? I had to do the same thing with "maraca", but that seems to be a "proper" word.

Anonymous 7:03 PM  

ulrich -- wiki dict says ::

"A very attractive or seductive woman and/or man."

I have never heard it used that way; I have heard it to describe things as unique or over-the-top, like a "oner". If you googlesearch "a-lulu-of" you'll see many examples.

Fiorenza Albert-Howard 1:31 PM  

For all of you interested here is where you can find the Saints' calendar

WWPierre 8:41 PM  

Spoor is not scat, necessarily, it could be footprints, or bent blades of grass. Scat is spoor. In his autobiography "Rotte Kampflieger", Baron von Richtoffen refers to "running across the spoor" of his brother Lothar at various times.

This was a fun puzzle for me. INDIFFERENT STROKES was my "Aha" moment.

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