SUNDAY, Jan. 20, 2008 - Natan Last

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Triangulation" - the theme is TRIGONOMETRY, which is spelled out by the circled squares in the shape of a triangle in the middle off the grid: 81A: Subject of this puzzle [and proceeding counterclockwise] - COS, TAN, and SIN are each rebused twice throughout the grid

I did not enjoy this puzzle very much, and I'm not sure why. I think, in the end, I expect a little more flash in my Sunday puzzle. Only 18 squares in the whole grid are affected by the theme. Seems like a Sunday rebus puzzle should have more than 6 rebus squares. So that was disappointing. I think another contributing factor in my disappointment was sheer puzzle fatigue - I think I've done ten or so puzzles today, mostly of very high difficulty, and so when I was faced with a rebus (which I didn't see coming at first), I just got grumpy. The thing that made me most grumpy was seeing 12A: "The Simpsons" character who often refers to himself in the third person, knowing the answer had to be DISCO STU, and so getting super annoyed that it wouldn't fit. Then I thought that the rebus was STU (something to do with sequential letters?). Ugh. Fuddled around in the far north too, for a while, until finally somehow the fact that "COS" was the rebus square in DISCO STU became clear, and I instantly understood the catch.

Rebus puzzles are hard when you don't know what letter combinations you're looking for. I did an old NY Sun puzzle by Byron Walden yesterday entitled "Boxwoods," where trees were "boxed" (rebused) into different squares throughout the grid. I had no idea what trees I should be looking for. I mean, I could guess, but ... there are a lot of short-named trees, it turns out. That puzzle was Brutal. This puzzle was far less brutal, but thorny enough to get under my skin just a little, causing minor frustration but no lasting scars (I'm pretty sure).

Theme answers (those with rebus squares):

  • 3D: Whence the line "into the eternal darkness; into fire and into ice" ("Dante' SIN ferno")
  • 37A: One succumbing to 6-Down (SIN ner) - genius intersection - and we pick up another tie-in answer here with ...

  • 6D: See 37-Across (Sa TAN), which crosses ...
  • 24A: Something to play (ca TAN d mouse)
  • 12A: Dis COS tu
  • 15D: "Seinfeld" character (COS mo Kramer)

  • 80D: Aggressiveness (belli COS ity)
  • 108A: Buttonholes (ac COS ts)

  • 117A: Like any points on a circle, from the center (equidis TAN t)
  • 113D: Anthem part (s TAN za)

  • 70D: Like things (two pea SIN a pod)
  • 105A: Strip joints? (ca SIN os) - places of SIN, much in the news of late (as Nevada caucus sites)

There were a few clues which bugged me for Trying Too Hard (to be vexing). The first is 47D: "Love of loves" ("My darling") - Google the clue ["love of loves"] and see the utter dearth of hits. Below 10K! Thus, I did not know it was an expression of affection. I thought it was a quotation from some famous poem referring to a person (Lenore? Lara?), and then I thought maybe it was some pop culture thing, like ... "Your Show of Shows?" Wife couldn't get it either, but when I uttered the clue with the same intonation with which someone would say "MY DARLING," she got it instantly. Also dislike 112A: Jerry Scott/Jim Borgman comic ("Zits"), both because that comic sucks, and because nobody knows who the hell those guys are - at least brighten up your clue by giving it some relationship to the content of the comics. Sheesh. There's also a weird lot of dry economic crap in this puzzle, like 4A: I.R.S. form 1099-_____ (misc.), and 95A: Flat _____ (some proponents of I.R.S. reform) (taxers) and 124A: Mixed economy advocate (Keynes). OK, KEYNES is a good answer, but that clue, ugh. And then there's 58A: Home of Canadian P.M. Stephen Harper (Alberta). First of all, no one really knows that. Second, ALBERTA is huge. Have you seen a map? Surely he is from a town with an actual name. This is all to say that there's gotta be a better way to clue ALBERTA (which was easy to get, but still...). Finally, I am going to hop over to the pop-culture haters' side for one second and decry 25D: Joan Rivers's daughter and TV co-host (Melissa), which was a gimme, but a soul-sucking, depressing one. I do like Joan Rivers's recent Geico ad, though.

Assorted observations:

  • 1A: Magazine that features "Alfred's Poor Almanac" ("MAD") - Amusing. My daughter decided to tap into Trip Payne's "Crosswords for Kids" book yesterday, and I felt bad for her, in that she did very well, but since she doesn't watch TV, she was lost on lots of the pop culture stuff (except for the Prince in "The Little Mermaid" - she nailed that). Anyway, she and I had a discussion yesterday about who Alfred E. Neuman was. The best thing about her budding crossword interest (we did four in a row, yesterday - she didn't want to stop), is that this morning, about 10 minutes ago, she came in holding a book and saying something about the "Uh-Muse." Then she said "I learned about them from the crossword. Mommy told me about them yesterday," and then she started reading: "Uh-Muse are large flightless birds etc." And I looked and saw EMUS. And my heart filled with joy. Her first crosswordese! And she learned a word in the puzzle and it showed up the Next Day in something she was reading. I know what that's like.
  • 8A: Early pulpit (ambo) - eeks. If I've seen this before, it wasn't recently, or often.
  • 20A: "_____ tale's best for winter": Shak. ("A sad...") - I hope this is from "A Winter's Tale."
  • 22A: How Mulan dresses in much of "Mulan" (as a man) - wrote AS A BOY. Confidently.
  • 31A: Old infantry spears (pikes) - D&D to the rescue again.
  • 73A: Thin-framed, big-footed woman of cartoons (Olive Oyl) - can't believe I didn't get this instantly. But I didn't. Very annoying.
  • 88A: Skateboarder's accessory (kneepad) - maybe you are like my wife and confidently put in HEARS instead of HEEDS at 72D: Listens to, resulting in the mysterious KNEEPAR for this answer.
  • 97A: Jazz singer Nina (Simone) - I do love her. She and Mr. Rogers died about the same time. Very sad all around.
  • 115A: Drink whose name is Tahitian for "good" (mai tai) - learned it last week, and here it is again.
  • 1D: "Speed the Plow" playwright (Mamet) - wasn't Madonna in this ... somehow? Yes, it's true. 1988.
  • 9D: Pouty look (moue) - everyone loves a MOUE. Great crossword word.
  • 19D: 1950s stereotype (beatnik) - wait ... they didn't actually exist? My movie poster for "The Beat Generation" suggests otherwise.
  • 45D: Quark-plus-antiquark particle (meson) - got killed by this in a recent Sun puzzle, and here it is again. Revenge is mine!
  • 63D: Maria Muldaur's "_____ Woman" ("I'm a") - WHO?
  • 78D: The Owls of the N.C.A.A. (Rice) - all I could think of was Temple.
  • 84D: It was passed in May 1773 (Tea Act) - this surely had something to do with precipitating the Revolutionary War. Wife stumbles out of bed, into my office, and confirms this.
  • 91D: Store on "Sesame Street" (Hooper's) - this took a while to float up out of the dark recesses of my brain. As you all know, I was more an "Electric Company" man than a "Sesame Street" man. I thought the kids that appeared on "Sesame Street" were ... what's a polite word for "not that bright?"
  • 106D: Alamogordo's county (Otero) - this is known only to those who live near there and hardcore crossword solvers. I am getting the urge to construct a word ladder that somehow involves OTERO, OTERI, and UTERI.
  • 116D: "_____ in Icarus" (1979 French thriller) ("I As...") - Good thing I knew who KEYNES was, or I might be wondering who the hell "IAN in Icarus" was.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Orange 10:22 PM  

For the theme square count, I think you really have to count all 12 answers that meet at the rebus squares. Also, the midsection of the puzzle has across and down entries that have to intersect with that diagonal stretch, which forces three-way checked squares. I was reasonably impressed.

Will Shortz posted on the NYT forum that this is Natan Last's Sunday NYT debut—and the constructor is a high school senior in Brooklyn. At 17 years 2 months he is the youngest known Sunday crossword constructor in the Times' history. It's a very impressive debut, too.

mellocat 12:28 AM  

OH, "disco stu". I debated between Discostu and Discosto since I didn't know that Latin phrase either. Eventually decided onus wouldn't have been clued that way, so went with the u, but still couldn't make sense of the name.

My first rebus squares were [sin]ner and sa[tan], which led me to think all the rebus squares were going to be cross-referenced, like those were, and potentially all to do with sin or religion or something, though I didn't quite get how "tan" fit into that idea. I started off thinking it was going to be a very odd puzzle, and it turned out much neater.

Ulrich 1:01 AM  

I got the main idea really fast (after getting the "tan" square in cat and mouse and then guessing "trigonometry" from just two crosses in the center triangle) but then things went downhill. For one, I was looking for the sin, cos and cot functions--it's totally illogical IMHO to have cos when you have sin, but not cot when you have tan. More importantly, I could not get a hold on the Georgia/Florida section--insisting on flat 'raters' for the longest time did not help, nor the fact that I've never heard of a sad sack (again, my foreign background got in the way). Guessing kneepads finally got me going there. All in all, I did not really enjoy doing this.

jae 1:58 AM  

I liked this one. I thought the theme was clever and nicely executed. Got the rebus early and filled in the center before finishing the top third. I'm even more impressed now, knowing it was a first effort by a high schooler (thanks Orange)! I was slowed down a bit in SW by 78d because I was looking for initials not RICE (Rhode Island something??). In retrospect, a nice bit of misdirection for habitual solvers. I liked seeing 102d clued as something besides envelope abbr. and poop used in an unexpected verb form. Fun puzzle for me but I only did a couple today, none of which were difficult.

Graeme 5:46 AM  

Strange... in the Herald Tribune version, they had one less clue, since they didn't have a 57D clue at all. So the square containing the number 57 started the next across word ("Alberta"). So the clue numbers are subsequently all one off compared to the puzzle published in AcrossLite!

I suppose you could say the Herald Tribune version was "DownLite"!

Anyway, why is SYN the answer to 52A?

Graeme 5:50 AM  

Oh, and I loved the puzzle. Very clever. I'm so impressed that a high-schooler can put this together.

rick 7:02 AM  


52A also threw me at first: single is a syn. for one.

single for one.

Thought this was a great puzzle but my first rebus answer was AND in cat AND mouse until I got some downs.


This was his first Sunday but I don't think it was his first published puzzle.

Rex Parker 7:21 AM  

I'm very happy for this kid, and he clearly as a very promising future as a constructor. But since I respect him as a constructor, I'm not going to soften my criticisms. I'm sure he understands. Also, I recommend he buy an "H" - "Natan" and SATAN (see 6D) are awfully close... :)

And as I've said, at least some of my lack of enjoyment clearly came from circumstances having Nothing to do with the puzzle itself. Everyone reading this knows what that is like.


Squash's Mom 9:07 AM  

Having no trigonometry background, I was wondering what the rebus letters would be. It clearly made my frustration level higher. I was overthinking many clues. Not as satisfying as other Sunday puzzles, for sure, but challenging. I think any puzzle that mentions Seinfeld and The Simpsons (and intersects them!) can't be too bad.

As the mother of a teenage boy, I have to disagree on the Zits comment. Though my son's name is not Jeremy, I call him that often; it appears he and the character from that comic strip are so close in personality and actions. We both get a good laugh over the strip on many days. That comic gets cut out and posted on the refrigerator at my house a lot.

kratsman 9:16 AM  

I agree with Ulrich about the theme being a tad illogical. The first 2 rebuses I got were TAN and SIN, so naturally I thought the next would be SEC. When I got COS, I thought we'd be lookin for all 6 abbreviations. A little lopsided, imo. Is it heretical to suggest that Will bends over backwards to accommodate "record-breakers"?

kratsman 9:19 AM  

Oh yeah, after I finished it, I kept looking for ways to "connect- the-rebuses" that would give another element to the puzzle. Only thing I could see was that connecting the COS's ran right along the hypotenuse.

Graeme 9:27 AM  

I would have loved a clue alluding to the popular mnemonics for the sin/cos/tan equations.

My favorite is "silly old harry caught a herring trawling off america". For those who don't remember/know this, it refers to sin=opp/hypoteneuse, cos=adj/hyp, tan=opp/adj.

I think there are others similar. Anyone?

Rockonchris 9:34 AM  

Rex, Maria Muldaur sang Midnight at the Oasis back in the 70s. Her followup hit was I'm a Woman. She's had a long and impressive folk/jugband/solo career, interspersed with singing backup in the Jerry Garcia Band.

Natan, outstanding job! Thanks to Orange for the background info.


Karen 9:47 AM  

I want more math in my crosswords! I liked the central triangle. Too bad poor secant never gets any love. I too would have liked more mathy clues as well, but I was happy with the scrabbly fill. I did get stuck on COLLET.

Graeme, syn short for synonym.

Kathy 9:54 AM  

Oh, no, rockonchris! Now Midnight at the Oasis (wasn't it "put your camel to bed" or some such silliness?) will be running through my head all day...not a pleasant prospect.

My favorite bad 70s song--I've Been to Paradise (But I've Never Been to Me)--ugh!


Kathy 9:56 AM  

My mistake, it's "send" your camel to bed. Guess it would be easier to just send your camel off than attempt to read it a story and tuck it in.


Anonymous 10:36 AM  

We were sad that George Costanza was left out as the Seinfeld character. What a perfect answer that would have been!

Dan 10:42 AM  

I enjoyed it but concur with the quibbles. Once I figured out the theme with BELLI(COS)ITY, I worked very gingerly around the grid, expecting many more rebus squares, not to mention SEC / CSC / COT. (Which I guess would be pretty obscure to anyone who didn't take Trig.)

Is it heretical to suggest that Will bends over backwards to accommodate "record-breakers"? sez kratsman. Heretical, maybe; inaccurate, probably not...

I expected more rebus out of this rebus because of something I read on the Cruciverb mailing list: that Shortz has a years-long backlog of rebus puzzles. (Which makes sense, since all the good rebuses have been done multiple times, and they need to be spread out.) Therefore, each one that runs should be pretty awesome, right? This one was great, but not awesome (IMOO) - no offense to the brilliant Natan.

So this puzzle might have "jumped the line" in order to break a record... but who cares? We'd have had the same quibbles if it ran two years from now...

jannieb 10:45 AM  

Hi all - Need some help. I got a new MAC for Christmas with the sexy new wireless keyboard. Typical (or so I'm told) of all MACS, there is no INSERT key. Can anyone tell me how I do the rebus puzzles in Acrosslite without one???? The OCD in me wants all those squares filled in properly. Thanks.

Oscar Madison 10:47 AM  

I so often gnash my teeth over puzzles that you breeze through and enjoy that it's a nice change to see you mildly frustrated over today's fun and clever theme.

karmasartre 11:11 AM  

Nice puzzle. I wondered if there was some significance to the circles forming a right triangle...guess that would be more Geom than Trig.

Never heard of Great NATE or DISCOSTU or COLLET or KEYNES.

Would have been an even more impressive debut had it been constructed by Natan, Nacos, and Nasin Last.

Orange 11:12 AM  

Jannieb, on my Mac, I press the escape key to make the rebus box pop up.

I had the same thought as 10:36 about [COS][TAN]ZA, but he would've mucked up the symmetry of the rebuses.

Rex, stereotypes are applied to real people. Did you have jocks, geeks, and burnouts at your high school? Stereotypes all, but used to label reality.

artlvr 11:17 AM  


Leon 11:33 AM  

Real nice puzzle Natan, made me think.

My Darling made me think of:

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling, Clementine!
Thou art lost and gone forever
Dreadful sorry, Clementine

Dante's Inferno made me think of the poem's mathematical structure : all based on the number three.

And, 67 and 69 across taken together made me think of Sen. Larry Craig.

RP : Zits fans are not as vocal as Dilbert fans.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Rex - shame on you for leaving this beautiful puzzle for later! Olive Oyl, I'm Fine, DisCOStu, Sudoku, Hangman, Spitzer, Beatnik, I Don't Care --- the puzzle is chock full of amazing entries, and the cluing is great as well.

Furthermore, I see where you're coming from on My Darling, but i challenge you to come up with a better clue.

jannieb 11:36 AM  

Orange - a big thanks! It worked and I'm very grateful.

Karen's Mom 11:38 AM  

As of this hour there are less than 170 solvers of the online version -- quite low for a Sunday.

I was bummed because I got the hard parts of the puzzle first. But I had HEX instead of NIX for "puts the kibosh on." That left me with HA---AH for "guessing" game. I went crazy guessing until Karen bailed me out.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Yes, Mr. Last has published before in the Times. Here's a link to his Tuesday puzzle last July.

The AMBO clue tripped me too. Again in the Times it's the first occurrence this century, and it's always been clued exactly the same.

JeremysAuntie 11:53 AM  

If you ever have a teenage son, RP, Zits might resonate more. Was totally puzzled by DiscoStu (not a Simpsons watcher).

Southamptoner 11:59 AM  

Had a recent discussion of "beatnik" recently. While the "Beats" were the acclaimed writers/poets, I'm fairly sure "beatnik" was a slightly derogatory mainstream tag. "-nik" was meant to convey a sort of sinister Commie un-Americaness to bohemians.

I don't think any of them would ever refer to themselves as "beatniks". (Like teens never called themselves teenyboppers,or bobby-soxers). So I guess it does fit as a stereotype- it was a negative epithet.

Ps. Reminds me of scenes in the excellent "Mad Men" on AMC, where the beatnik friends of the guy's mistress are portrayed as druggy, pretentious, amoral layabouts. Lol, the stereotype lives..

arnie 12:25 PM  

can someone please help clear up a mystery that, even after years and years of staring it in the face, never occured to me before.
Why does Will Shortz always get credited for the puzzles?
The implication is that he is co-author, and I find it hard to believe he has a hand in the construction of every single puzzle.
The inference is that he gets credit for being the Editor, which makes no sense to me in that I doubt if he were the editor for a novel that we would see something like
Umberto Ecco / Will Shortz
on the jacket.
I know this is trivial, but it just bugs me!

Kathy 12:34 PM  

arnie, Rex and/or Orange can probably answer better, but from watching Wordplay, I learned that Will actually writes most of the clues. It's fascinating--he can take the same puzzle and turn it into a Monday or a Saturday by making the clues easier or harder.

Of course, I would challenge him to turn that Saturday Bob Klahn puzzle of a few weeks ago into a Monday puzzle!


Raven Mad 12:41 PM  

But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;.....

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Doug 12:45 PM  

Arnie: If you happen to see Wordplay you can see Will in action. He works with the constructors to clean up the clues and NYT-ize them. Once you go to some other puzzle sites (say Chicago Sun, LA Times, etc.) you immediately see that the NYT clearly has a style. Not that the others don't--I'm just saying that the immediate difference clearly indicates that a style exists.

As long as he makes a single change then it's fair to say he gets a credit. I read Paul McCartney's autobio and he said the same thing about many Lennon/McCartney songs. If either guy had just made a single suggestion then they credited each other, although you can normally tell who was the dominant writer (normally by who sings, and if Julian (JL) or Love (PM) is in the lyrics.

Liked this puzzle a lot, although the rebus didn't materialize for me until the SW. One of them just had to be a rebus and then the Triangle things fell into place. Thank God he kept it as COS/SIN/TAN--I imagine everyone doing this puzzle graduated HS and spent a couple of years in math? If we got into SEC etc. then it would be truly a PITA, but as it was, it was fair and amusing enough for a Sunday. I took my normal 1-2 hours between a couple of beers and Sat night TV!

GK 1:03 PM  

In response to those who felt that secant, cosecant, and cotangent were unfairly neglected: in many beginning treatments of trigonometry only COS, SIN, and TAN are introduced. It's true, of course, that if you have the three side lengths of a triangle then you can compute six ratios, but for example cot=adj/opp is just tan written upside (i.e., with numerator and denominator interchanged). Thus one can get along perfectly well without actually giving names to three of the ratios. Now you'd think from their names that the three basic ratios were cos, tan, and sec, and that those formed by prefixing "co" are the secondary ratios, but that prefix doesn't refer to flipping the fraction upside down but rather to a different operation, namely relabelling the triangle by switching the labels on the two legs.

Sorry for the treatise, but the bottom line is that if you're going to construct a crossword puzzle with a trigonometry theme, then this constructor's choice is perfectly reasonable.

jae 1:12 PM  

@jimhorne or anyone -- Did Mr. Last also do a themed puzzle with a large X in the center and a lot of answers with Xs or am I thinking of someone else??

Orange 1:19 PM  

I need to take issue with anonymous 11:35. "Shame on you" for not blogging the puzzle earlier? Listen, anonymous, you're reading free content. You don't get to complain about the scheduling thereof. Plus, I think you posted your comment a couple hours after Rex had, in fact, added more specifics to the post, so maybe you should put down the crack pipe and step away from the keyboard.

Arnie, on average, the NYT editor is responsible for about half of the clues. Some seasoned constructors are so good at cluing that Will might only change 10% of their clues, so I'm guessing that some other constructors—say, less experienced ones, or those who wrote harder clues but Will's running the puzzle on a Monday—might see the bulk of their clues changed. The editor also sometimes reworks parts of the fill (say, to eliminate duplications, crappy fill, or inappropriate answers), which is also creative work and an important part of maintaining the NYT's overall crossword style and quality. For more on the editor/creator overlap, see the recent New Yorker piece on Raymond Carver's short stories and the extreme editing done by Gordon Lish earlier on.

Ulrich 1:31 PM  

@gk: What you say makes perfect sense. Your argument gets even stronger when one takes an apparently popular mnemonic into account that contains only sin, cos, and tan, which I didn't know when I wrote my complaint. But I want to point out that my complaint was based not so much on math per se, but on my personal sense of what forms a logically convincing pattern: When I know I'm looking for White House occupants and have found Jack, Jackie and Ike, I expect to find also Mamie. It is for that reason that I expected to find cot after finding sin, cos and tan because cot is related to tan similar (not the same--I agree) to the way cos is related to sin. I still regret that it wasn't there, but that appears to be more a matter of taste.

Natan Last 1:38 PM  

Arnie, when I first submitted this to Will, it had four more black squares than it does now, and the fill was a bit more strained. Things like IMFINE, SUDOKU, or IDONTCARE never would have made it into the puzzle if not for his guidance.

As far as the clues, seeing the edited set is really a learning experience, in that it helps me see where I ODed on things like cross-referencing (The initial clue for NINTH, for example, was "Circle of 3-Down in which 6-Down resides") or using too much specialized knowledge (I imagine more people know Melissa Rivers than do the 70's Allman Brothers hit by the same name, which was the original clue).

Thanks to everyone for your comments/criticisms! Hoped you liked the puzzle.

Rex Parker 1:59 PM  


You have no idea how much I'd have loved your cross-referencing overdose (though I understand that not everyone loves Dante the way I do). Also would have preferred the Allman Brothers tune clue (which is great, and was recently featured in a ... Cingular ad? AT&T? One of those). Which is to say that your cluing instincts seem good to me.

Thanks for dropping by.


emily cureton 2:00 PM  

oh lord! disco stu nearly sent me in to a fit too. but at least it tipped me off early that something fishy was going on with the theme.

good job natan. im awfully impressed.

annied 2:12 PM  

Appreciated the cleverness and challenge of the theme (trig--not my best subject way back when!), but bothered by some of the editing. Expected the abbreviation in 8 across--due to A.L.M.V.P., so what was up with 77down? Totally expected an abbreviation since it had NCAA in clue. And what about 28 down? With an answer like "the 'net," I think they could have gone with "place for surfin' " in the clue. And I take exception to 118 across--was it abbreviated and with an "x" because they were "x-ray?" I remember buying x-ray vision glasses when I was little, and I never remember calling them spex!! And finally, a minor point-- for some reason was bothered by the use of "at" in both answers with times (61 across and 101 down)--they just felt like fillers.
I'm not usually this cranky when it comes to puzzles!! Maybe I was up too late last night! Thanks for letting me gripe!

Bill 2:30 PM  

The final dilemma for me was the cross of ambo and moue, which I had to guess based on a dim recollection of the latter. Never heard of a collet either. Thanks, Natan!

Kim 3:35 PM  

The George COS-TAN-za answer was too good to let go of until DH yelled out "COSmo Kramer"! I stayed with George waaaay to long. Did Will and Natan anticipate that? Did they mean to make me cry?

Howard B 3:49 PM  

Didn't get to this puzzle until this morning in Across Lite, since the applet didn't want to cooperate earlier.

First time in a long, long while I've gotten to recall any of my mostly-forgotten trig knowledge. Thanks for the puzzle, Natan, great stuff!

AMBO appears in the old-school, pre NY Times database puzzles infrequently; I think it's in that same category as ANOA, ABRI, etc. (words seemingly from outer space that used to be puzzle staples, but now only appear rarely when necessary). Kind of an interesting word though - a headless Stallone role?

Anonymous 4:02 PM  

Hey Raven, what a beautiful poem.
I am fairly new at the puzzle, and I did not find this puzzle annoying. I kinda liked it. Got Dante's Inferno pretty quickly and knew it would be a rebus after that, and cat and mouse. First rebus for me after I figured out what a rebus was a few months ago.

My favorite clue was pro omnibus, omnes pro uno. Not having taken Latin, I was happy to translate and figure it out. Reminds me of a song by Big Audio Dynamite. Anyone remember them?
Digging my new laptop so I can do the puzzle in bed while we suffer here in the midwest with subzero temps.
Go Packers!

Michael 5:37 PM  

Unusually, I had more trouble with this puzzle than with Saturday's. I got all but one letter, but it took a while though my speed was certainly slowed by watching football at the same time as puzzle-doing. I was especially vexed by my slowness because I was a math major years ago.

I'm superimpressed by this being done by a 17-year-old.


nitpicker 5:54 PM  

i had excrete for poop, and was disgusted by the new low standards of nyt!

very elegant puzzle - in addition to enjoying the triangular geometry, loved the wonderful fill. great job!


green mantis 7:04 PM  

I guess I'm the only one who had [the] soup nazi for cosmo kramer. It fits with sudoku and my original (wrong) guess for Proctor and Gamble product! I didn't have the theme yet, just one sin, so my second rebus square was THE, leading me to hope for the phrase "Love the sinner, hate THE sin."

Or is it, Love the player, hate the game. Or is it, Mantis, shut up now.

Cea 7:24 PM  

Dante'S INferno gave me the first hint to the rebus, and overall I loved the puzzle. I had no issues with just having SIN COS and TAN -- they are the only ones I remember from my trig days anyway. The north was the very last area to fall -- AMBO/MOUE/AROD in one row was a bit too tough.

Style question tho, and I thought the rebuses were usually symmetrical on the grid? I spent a long time trying to match the SIN rebus in the southeast with the one in the northwest and never did make it.

Anonymous 7:43 PM  

Been doing the puzzle for less than year and this was the first Sunday I could not finish completely - even with two googles. I enjoyed the theme even if I was beaten up by it.

I only have one complaint. The answer to the clue WIZARD was SAGE. I had written in MAGE which caused me problems in the SW. I don't think SAGE is an accurate synonym for WIZARD, but this is probably too picky.

Geometricus 9:22 PM  

Being a math teacher, I got excited when I saw the right triangle in the middle of the puzzle. My 17-year-old "Jeremy" (his name's actually Nick) helped me get started on this puzzle by giving me "Disco Stu" but I told him it wouldn't fit. It was shortly after that I figured out it was a rebus puzzle.

Karmasartre, the right triangle is one basis for the trig functions: trigonos is Greek for triangle and of course metry is related to the word for measure. The unit circle and the wavy lines are two other ways to approach trig, but it was finding the measures of the sides of a right triangle that started it all.

paul in mn 9:34 PM  

This was a terrifically fun puzzle for a math geek, so I had a big smile as I discovered the theme. Loved the cross-referencing for SIN and SATAN and I agree with Rex's comment above that the cross-reference for DANTE'S INFERNO would have been quite fun as well.

Chiming in on SIN/COS/TAN vs. CSC/SEC/COT, I have to side with Natan's decision to only include the first three. I spent several years tutoring high school juniors and seniors in preparing for the ACT and SAT and those exams really only assume knowledge of the three basic trig functions (and very limited knowledge at that). I think inclusion of the other functions would have made the rebus far too difficult for many non-math folks.

So, kudos to Natan! A great debut performance.

PuzzleGirl 9:41 PM  

Natan: Thanks for the great puzzle and thanks even more for getting "Midnight at the Oasis" out of my head by referring to one of my favorite songs of all time.

PuzzleGirl 9:44 PM  

@cea: I'm sure Rex and Orange can give a detailed answer to your question, but the short answer is "no." Rebuses are not usually symmetrical in the grid.

karmasartre 10:22 PM  

@ geometricus -- thank you, had no idea.

@ nitpicker -- norris?

sine wave 10:53 PM  


Loved the "wavy lines" reference.

michigandreamer 11:37 PM  

I loved the puzzle even though I struggled with it. I'm a math geek and got my first rebus answer with equidistant ... which was appropos. Got irritated about the TV crosses - discostu and cosmocramer ... probably great tv - but I'm not a watcher.

Rikki 12:28 AM  

Well done, Natan. I like a rebus puzzle and though trig was not my favorite in school, I did remember sin, cos, and tan. Ambo and collet were new for me. Beatnik reminded me of Gilligan's first role as the beatnik Maynard G. Krebb's in Dobie Gillis (the G. stood for Walter). You have to get in the way-back machine to remember that show.

Great puzzle on a fine day of football!

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

The Texas version (Dallas) also had one less clue - so it was completely messed up!

Anonymous 8:33 PM  

Shouldn't the clue for 108A have said the word is an abbreviation?

Dr J 7:30 PM  

I disagree with Rex on this puzzle: I thought it was smart, cheeky and, unlike most of the recent NYT Sunday puzzles, very well clued: no groaners, no eye-rollingly obscure items, some inspired intersections, and a few clues/answers that were genuinely impressive. I also like the triple triangles (triangulation indeed!) as a design; it's artful but not excessive, and the COS-SIN-TAN minimization had the cleverly tricky effect of making me look for them in places where they weren't. Interesting reverse paranoia effect.

Young Mr. Last has, I think, bested most of the old hands at the NYT of late with his first outing. Good for him. This puzzle didn't reek of desperation (hello Cathy Milhauser...), and it's one of those puzzles that reminded me that the best pleasure of a good crossword puzzle is admiring the puzzle's composition after the solution, and being suitably impressed by the logic and construction as a whole. I did that today-- for the first time in a very long while. Colour me impressed.

BTW, as a Canadian, I was glad to see the Harper clue. Up north, EVERYONE knows where he's from, usually to some sort of conclusion as a result (politically, Alberta is Red State as Canada gets). Nice to see the puzzle make some gesture against the Amerocentrism so typical of the usual. After all, we beyond the U.S. who do the puzzle have to figure out all the obscure counties used so regularly. Knowing a Canadian province is hardly an obscurantist gesture.


Rex Parker 8:46 PM  

@Dr. J

I'm happy you enjoyed Mr. Last's puzzle, but there is absolutely no call for lashing out at Cathy Millhauser, who is a fine constructor. You didn't even spell her name right. Colour me unimpressed with your online civility.

Meanness and smug self- righteousness are really unwelcome here.


Anonymous 3:13 PM  

CAlady said
Found the comments enlightening, and confusing. For example, Anon 8:33 commented that 108A should have indicated an abbrevation. My puzzle (San Diego Union) had no 108A , only 108D. Can someone explain? I did have a blank down spot between 56A and 57A where a down clue would have had to define "emono". Did on-line have a clue for this? This is not the only place where the numbers did't match up.
BTW, I don't think the six trig functions are any more obscure than references to some TV show (Seinfeld) that I've never watched. Suspect the reason was nothing to fit "csc".

10downing 4:42 PM  

I did this puzzle in syndication on January 27th. I finished this puzzle in about an hour and I really enjoyed it. Well done Natan. When I figured out the theme I grabbed my daughter's scientific calculator to make sure I didn't miss anything. As a Canadian I appreaciate clues pertaining to "us", but seeing PM Harper's name in my beloved Sunday puzzle was depressing. I love the blog. Keep it up.

londoatfl 7:41 PM  

I enjoy the blog and I enjoyed this weeks puzzle. The blog makes the puzzle much more interesting.


Bob the Benevolent 12:41 AM  

I saw Maria Muldaur open a new nightclub in Sacramento. It was called the "Oasis." At the stroke of midnight she sang her then hit song that became her trademark. Very special moment.

But I did not and still don't remember "I Am a Woman." I guess that is what iTunes is all about. Nice puzzle by a very sure author. You made my Sunday.

Why do you call it a rebus puzzle? Isn't a rebus a puzzle that uses pictures to represent words, like in the old TV show "Concentration?"

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

"I'm a Woman" is the song with the memorable line "I can make a dress out of a feedbag 'n make a man outta you". Maria Muldaur also sang with Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band.

TomBow 4:40 AM  

Alamogordo's County — Otero

Maura Jacobson used it in New York Magazine on Jan.19, 2009 the one year anniversary of the NY Times use.

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