THURSDAY, Jan. 10, 2008 - Elizabeth C. Gorski (DIRECTOR WERTMULLER)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" - those are the first words of four theme answers, respectively; 15-letter central Across describes the theme: 37A: Theme of this puzzle, as hinted at by 17-, 23-, 45- and 59-Across (John Le Carré book)

On a Sticky Note on my computer desktop, I have a bunch of puzzle ideas - I've been toying with the idea of constructing for a little while now, and it may happen one day, though this endeavor (which you're currently reading) takes up so much of my free time that I don't know how I'll ever do it. At any rate, as I was doing today's puzzle, at some point it dawned on me that I was doing one of MY puzzles - I've had a TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY concept just languishing there on the little yellow note ("TINKER ... TOYS? TINKER ... BELL? ... SPY ... KIDS?"). Now I'm fairly certain that Liz Gorski is not in the habit of hacking into people's personal computers and stealing their ideas, so this is just an odd coincidence that must happen All The Time to constructors. For all I know, this theme has been done before, somewhere in the universe. Ms. Gorski certainly executed the theme far better than I ever could (at this stage in my non-existent puzzle-writing career), so you (and John Le Carré) should feel grateful that I didn't execute this puzzle theme first.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Constructing things (Tinker Toys)
  • 23A: Custom (tailor-made)
  • 45A: 1962 #1 hit by the Shirelles ("Soldier Boy")
  • 59A: Means of remote monitoring (spy camera)

This puzzle was made Thursday-hard (perhaps Thursday+-hard) by some odd fill and bizarre cluing throughout the grid - none of which I minded too much, but much of which felt amped up in order to compensate (I'm guessing) for the ease with which one could get the theme and thus fill in huge chunks of the puzzle. Take the NW corner for instance. Holy moses I had some trouble up there. First of all, TRINE (14A: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost)!? Me: "Why won't TRINITY fit!?! Is this an "ITY" rebus? What ... would that even mean?" TRINE crosses LINA (3D: Director Wertmuller), whom I always confuse with LENI Riefenstahl. You can see why. Then there were the clues for ATLAS (1A: Country store?) and NOAH'S ARK (20A: Couples cruise vessel?), which stymied me for a little bit (especially the former). Even TRIO (2D: String _____) was clued in a difficult way (the difficulty in this case coming from ambiguity). If I hadn't gotten TINKER TOYS off the back end of the answer, I don't know what I'd have done with the NW.

There appear to be a lot of foreign words in the puzzle - stacked French in the far NE with D'ARC (10A: Jeanne _____) over EGAL (16A: Even, to Yves), both of which cross the Greek AGORA (11D: Outdoor market). Then there are a lot of foreign places and English words of exotic derivation:

  • 7D: Edible mushroom (enoki) - learn it, know it, love it; today, it saved my life
  • 25A: Some flames (beaus)
  • 31A: Annoyance, in British slang (aggro) - I thought this was a skateboarding term; oh, I see there is a definition meaning "daring and skillful, as in a sport such as surfing." That must be the definition I know. I remember seeing it in the caption of a photo (20+ years ago) of a skateboarding kid in my high school yearbook and thinking "WTF? Is that made up? That sounds made up."
  • 25D: Californian's vacation destination, maybe (Baja)
  • 27D: Turkish title (Agha)
  • 42A: Citizen of Shiraz (Irani)
  • 45D: It was split into two parts by the 1899 Treaty of Berlin (Samoa)
  • 57D: City near Padua (Este) - also a Spanish direction
  • 62A: "... saw Elba" ("ere I") - "Able was I ere I saw Elba"; you need to know this palindrome - like ENOKI, it's all over the place in Puzzle World

Other stuff:

  • LIKED: The crossing of BRA (39D: Burlesque show wear - I had BOA at first) and NAKED (44A: Stripped)
  • DIDN'T KNOW: EROS (30A: Piccadilly Circus statue) - I've seen this before, but I always expect this answer to be some naval war hero ... it's kind of brutal how TDK and SANYO totall shout down the statue (see photo)
  • THANKFUL FOR: ECRU (43A: Hosiery hue) - I had guessed, blindly, SCOUR for 32D: Rub, rub, rub, and ECRU confirmed that I guessed correctly - middle of the puzzle went down quickly
  • LIKED: OP-ED PAGE (52A: It's made up of columns) - I always like to see crosswordese get retooled, redeployed, facelifted, etc. OP-ED is super common. The full OP-ED PAGE, rare.
  • DIDN'T KNOW: 66A: With 46-Down, Ohio State's _____ Memorial Stadium (Jesse / Owens) - hey, I have an idea: in the Comments section today, why don't we have some more back-and-forth about the relative merits of (The) Ohio State football?! Yes, I'm joking.
  • HORRIBLE NAME OF THE DAY: LAR (33D: Choreographer Lubovitch) - poor LAR grew up in such poverty that his parents couldn't even afford the final "S" to make his name complete and respectable
  • MARGINAL ACTOR OF THE DAY: ARIS (55A: Actress Meyers and others) - of all the ARIS in the world, why keep going back to this one? She was one of the daughters on "Kate & Allie," but more recently she's been doing voice-over work for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 (that's a video game, oldsters). So ... when does she stop being viable puzzle fare? She's a no-brainer to long-time crossworders, but she's No One to people under 30. No offense meant to her: I'm sure she's very nice. Freaked me out to see that she is My Age, to the year (though she has my sister's birthday ... weird).
  • MARGINAL ACTOR OF THE DAY, RUNNER-UP: IONE (35D: Actress Skye) - this one I can forgive, as there are not a lot of other places to go for IONE, and IONE SKYE is just a great name. Two Scottish islands (actually, the island is IONA, but that's pretty close)! She was John Cusack's love interest in "Say Anything." However, with the exception of a reference in a Beastie Boys' song, IONE, like ARI, has not been heard of since the late 80s.

A final observation, having little-to-nothing to do with puzzles. I am sitting on the couch this morning, eating cereal, drinking green tea, watching SportsCenter, and doing the puzzle (all at once), when my 7-year-old daughter comes downstairs and plunks herself down on the couch next to me. She is carrying a largish illustrated dictionary, which she has had in her room forever but as far as I know has never looked at. She opens it and starts thumbing through it like it's a regular book. Her first comment: "There sure are a lot of B's in here." I tell her what a dictionary is for. She says "uh huh, I know," but proceeds to start reading it like a regular book anyway, starting with AARDVARK. She's reading aloud, and at some point we have a conversation about how to read the pronunciation guides (Me: "that's called a schwa, the line over a vowel makes it long, which means you say its name" etc.). By the time she gets to ABORIGINE, we have to go to school, so she dog-ears the dictionary (so she won't lose her place?) and then I tell her we can play a dictionary game tonight, where I give her a word and she has to find it and then read what it means. I tell her that she knows a lot of words, but there are lots she doesn't know yet, and dictionaries can help her learn. She wants an example of a word she doesn't know. I think about it, then say, "I don't know ... arid." Her response: "Arid, an arid desert, a dry desert." Looking at my puzzled and slightly astonished face, she starts laughing proudly and hysterically.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Today's other puzzles:
  • Newsday 3:31 (C), Doug Peterson
  • NYS long time, utter failure (P), Themeless Thursday, Patrick Berry - 37D and 46A I just didn't know; this meant 37A and 39D never came into view, ugh.
  • LAT untimed (P), Gary Steinmehl (contains great yoga clue)
  • CS untimed (P), Patrick Jordan, "Miss-Named" - I just saw a version of this theme recently. And who the @#$# is 47A? Oh dear god I just looked it up. Wow.
  • Jonesin' 6:36 (P) - RECOMMENDED: Matt Jones, "The Worst of 2007" - insanely contemporary, and a lot of fun

[drawing by Emily Cureton]


Jim in NYC 9:03 AM  

The dictionary story is a beautiful start to my day. Congratulations, Rex.

Slow Solver and Proud of It 9:25 AM  

Am I the only illiterate who has never heard of John Le Carre nor "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"?

This would have been a snap to solve if the theme was a book on my reading level (like "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" or "Green Eggs and Ham").

marcie 9:43 AM  

LOVED the dictionary story!

Well, good ol' rand caught me again, this time randd. >>sigh<<.

I missed some years of life where aggro became part of the language. Never seen it. I was happy to see Tinker Toys instead of Legos for a nice changeup. Can Lincoln Logs be far behind? And any time '60's music is referenced is a good day for me.

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle, It was a challenge for me. Very few unknowns, but several that wouldn't come to mind easily. I did want svelt where sleek belonged for a bit. Had the S and E, and Lar could have been Var for all I knew.

The timer on Across Lite didn't start automatically as it usually does, so I had no time, but it was less than a half-hour, which is good for me for Thursday.

re: Ione Skye. Daughter of '60's minstrel/guru Donovan (Sunshine Superman etc.) factoid: She made a brief appearance in 2007's "Zodiac", a movie in which the recurrent theme music was... Daddy's "Hurdy Gurdy Man".

Jason 9:46 AM  

I was seriously unimpressed by this constructor's knowledge of French. "Even, to Yves" made me think first of MEME (as in "even if,"), then PAIR (as in divisible by two), and I couldn't believe the answer turned out to be EGAL. It doesn't mean even, it means equal. Even in sports scores you would use EGAUX, never EGAL.

Also, BEAUS is barely an English word; I would write BEAUX in English as in French.

Another complaint: ASA for "Hard-rock filler," without a question mark.

campesite 10:09 AM  

The dictionary story made my day, Rex.
This puzzle got the best of me, but I was happy to see The Who represented in the grid.
Solid puzzle by a talented constructor, but I still thought there was a fair bit of crosswordese: agha, attn, urn, egos, assn, ere I, este, Ione (as you mentioned), ecru, enoki, eros, enne, yea.

bougeotte 10:10 AM  

Rex, you are in trouble. Your daughter sounds quite smart. Those are the ones you have to watch out for. Good for her though. I love when a child likes words.
Slow solver - I have read LeCarre but I too love Green Eggs and Ham. I knew the whole thing when I was young. They had a Dr. Seuss themed puzzle last year.
Anyway, fun puzzle but hated the top corner. I couldn't figure out Country store?
Emily's drawing is great.
Until tomorrow

marcie 10:16 AM  

I forgot to mention my favorite gimme... Pachelbel's canon in D major, which is my cellphone ringtone. Ok, so real hard-core classical music aficionados/critics call this "TacoBell's".. I don't care, I love it. (I have a CD entitled "Pachelbel's greatest HIT, with multiple variations of this one piece.)

I think that really is what made the puzzle for me.

paul in mn 10:34 AM  

The St. Paul Pioneer Press has a daily light-hearted community column made of reader submissions with headings like, "Warning, cute kid story ahead." Your dictionary story this morning definitely qualifies for that. You'll just have to let us know when she starts solving crosswords. Tyler Hinman watch out.

Today's solving experience was strange. Finally broke through with some success in the South and started working my way up through the middle. Had the lower two thirds finished with JOHN LE CARRE BOOK, SOLDIER BOY, and SPY CAMERAS and thought, "How odd that there are four John LeCarre titles that fit the puzzle. The only one I can think of is 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.'" And with a smack of the forehead, suddenly the rest of the puzzle fell into place.

PhillySolver 10:51 AM  

LeCarre (also French sounding like the NE clues) is a gifted writer whose novels kept our interest after the Cold War receded. Len Deighton is another of this ilk.

I was able to get LeCarre after getting all four jobs. I had guessed ------career---- when the middle was coming together thinking the jobs were just that, Career Choices)

Darn hose colors...tried Nude again from just the other day. Also, tried Nuded for NAKED. The Obit in the NYT (yes, I read the paper before the Xword puzzle) covered the man who proposed the 'triune' brain and that just needed to fit for the Trinity, but alas, a new word for me to keep in this already full head.

Last corner to fall was NW due to TRINE and LINA. In the past I would Google that stuff, but I went with a best guess and came here to check. No errors and a pretty good time today as I must say I am learning things here. Thanks to all.

deion 10:54 AM  

in retrospect, it seems like this puzzle shoulda' come to me quicker than it did.

was it just me? but, i feel like this puzzle varied too much in its leve of difficulty.

easy answers like 'restorer', 'tear', 'tailormade', 'sleek', not to mention gimmes like 'pete', 'erei', 'igors', juxtaposing very ambiguously clued or arcane answers like 'awaits', 'aris' and 'trine' threw me off balance. it had me over- then under-thinking my answers.

...but, i suppose that is what a thursday puzzle is supposed to do.

it didn't help that i really let myself get thrown for a loop by 43a hoisery hue - ECRU. i had 'nude' then 'dark' each for too long before awakening to ecru as i walked from penn to my office.

jae 11:27 AM  

Liked this one. I had the same rebus thought as Rex about TRINE but didn't really get hung up in NW. NE was a bit tricky but the only real stop and stare moment was in the BEAUS/BAJA/AGGRO (never heard of it skateboard or otherwise) area. At that point I went back over the the theme answers and finally saw the theme which gave me BAJA which allowed me to finished the puzzle.

@Marcie -- thanks for the IONE Skye update, I was wondering what happened to her after Say Anything.

Charming precocious daughter story, must be the day for it as Orange posted a pic of her adorable son.

Mary 11:30 AM  

I was happy to see Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I love that book and have read it several times. I still hold my breath when ******** is unmasked as the mole.

Thanks for the dictionary story, Rex. Long, long ago my Dad sent me to fetch the (very heavy) dictionary to look up COPSE. I think of him whenever I encounter COPSE in the crossword. Perhaps your girl will one day pencil in ARID and think of you.

Wade 11:31 AM  

If you search on youtube you can find a comedian/guitarist who demonstrates that about a quarter of all pop songs are a rip-off of Pachabel's Canon in D.

I liked the dictionary story, too. I believe the children are our future.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

Sad drawing from Emily today. At least he's marrying her! Two Ponies

kratsman 11:43 AM  

Nice puzzle today, and nice write-up. Agree with most of your and others comments. Especially nice story about your daughter.

I apologize for my off-topic post last night, and I apologize to anyone it offended. I won't do it again. No replies are necessary, let's not clutter up the comments section (like I'm doing) with unnecessary stuff.

Sandy 11:45 AM  

One thing Rex left out of the dictionary story was the sentence used to illustrate the meaning of "abombinable". "The bombing of the school was an abombinable act." As Sarah struggled to pronounce abominable, Rex commented that having it in a sentence with "bomb" was rough. I wondered why the heck the dictionary editors thought it was a good idea to discuss bombing a school in a book for kids.

I just realized I shouldn't have read today's commentary, because I had every intention of trying to solve the puzzle when I get home tonight. For all those wondering if they should go to Brooklyn for the tournament, let me publicly announce that I'm signing up. And it took me 45 minutes to do yesterday's puzzle (while Rex watched, which wasn't uncomfortable at all).

Leon 11:57 AM  

John Le Carre taught at Eton.

Elba is featured in The Constant Gardener.

Karen 12:11 PM  

My favorite 'aha' moment during this puzzle (best Thursday time, BTW) was 46D Ohio State's ___ Stadium. My mind went: ugh, football, I won't know it; I've been to that stadium; wasn't there as statue of the Olympic runner there? It fits both spots, hooray! The lesson I learned is: art triumphs over sports.

Jason, I learned BEAUS from Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, so it's as American as Plum Creek.

I really liked the ATLAS clue. I think I've seen a similar NOAH'S ARK clue recently, got it easily.

Rikki 12:18 PM  

Excellent puzzle! I fortunately knew the book and got the theme early, but overall the easy blended with the challenging to make the puzzle doable and nicely Thursday-ish.

Rex... I'd be surprised if you didn't start tinkering with tailor-made puzzle construction. You're a natural for it. And it looks like the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Sandy... your puzzling must be like my trying to learn the bass with my brilliantly musical husband and son listening in.

I've had enough of aggro surfers for a lifetime, being a longboard soul surfer myself. But aggro is more commonly used as a term in gaming where an NPC (non-player character), mob (mobile object[s]) or monster (hostile NPC) attacks a player. A player can hold or keep aggro, or break aggro, etc. etc.

Re: Le Carre. He was in fact an MI5 agent whose trilogy Quest for Karla includes TTSS, The Honourable Schoolboy, and Smiley's People and was based on his own experiences during the cold war. The BBC did a fabulous adaptation starring Alec Guiness. The books are quintessential espionage novels. Most recent adaptation was The Constant Gardener.

Never saw trine for trinity, but liked that it crossed trio. Had boa for bra for awhile and liked the bra/naked cross. Haven't seen opcit for a long time, but liked that it crossed op ed. How many are going to curse R and D? As Pete Townsend said, "won't get fooled again." Jesse Owens was not a gimme, but a good guess. Liked the boy/Boyer cross after digging Charles Boyer out of the depths of the gray matter. Broke in next to denim... cool.

Two choices for songs of the day: And she'll have fun fun fun till her daddy takes the t-bird away. And the ever-lovely Pachelbel:

So far, a great week of puzzles. Whenever I say that Friday or Saturday slams me up against the wall until I weep for mercy.

PhillySolver 12:42 PM  

More Pachelbel on YouTube

It is pretty darn funny.

Blue Stater 12:54 PM  

Tough but very good puzzle by Liz Gorski today. In my book she's nearing Manny-level membership in the pantheon. May her (and his) tribe increase, as i've said before. I particularly liked the way the theme, in a way I find difficult to describe, meshed better with the puzzle as a whole than is the case for most Thursday puzzles. I got tripped up by the same things everyone else did, with one addition: I kept blocking on 52A, "It's made up of columns," OPEDPAGE. Very clever.

paul in mn 1:19 PM  

I forgot to add earlier that I liked the juxtaposition of Pachebel's Canon in D MAJ with PETE Townsend. Who's Next?

Eric 1:24 PM  

Merci, Jason. Je pense le meme chose.

Macha 1:31 PM  

Excuse my ignorance but can some one explain the ATLAS clue? Thanks in advance (assuming that someone comes to my aid).

mrbreen 1:41 PM  

atlas = a store (supply) of countries (geographical)

As an under-30 solver I've learned to live with my lack of dated cultural knowledge, but Ari Meyers hurt. Had the A and the I, wanted to put an R in the middle, then thought: but Ari is a masculine name. Guess not.

flyingpig 1:45 PM  

Re: the French word for EVEN. I first thought MEME but saw it didn't fit and finally thinking it's a Thursday puzzle came on EGAL which means SAME and is used to say the score is tied--c'est égal.

sonic 2:13 PM  

Fun puzzle, great story. Thanks, Rex! Re the naval hero: you're thinking of Trafalgar Square which features Lord Nelson. I also didn't know that Eros resided on Picadilly Circus.

Pachelbel... the canon is a nice piece of music, clever and good sounding, but it has to be THE most butchered piece around. It never fails that it's played at about half the tempo it should be played at - it's a flashy piece, not a lullaby. Oh, and it's also the most ranted about piece by yours truly.

Looking forward to your first puzzle, Rex!

profphil 2:37 PM  

I got R and D and realized that it is not randd but R and D even though I am clueless as to what it means. What does it stand for?

Aaron Bergman 2:39 PM  

I was inordinately proud of myself for getting "GOLFCART" (having the AR) for 20 across. Sigh.

profphil 2:44 PM  

Just read Linda's blog and saw it means Research and Development.

Eric 2:44 PM  

Oh, R and D...thanks ProfPhil. Thing is ...nobody ever writes it as R and D, it's R&D as in Research and Development.

Greg 2:46 PM  

one of my favorite books when I was a kid was "A Wrinkle In Time" by Madeleine L'Engle, and while I haven't read it in ages, I always remember well the little boy in the book (charles?) who, if my mind does not screw me up here, read the dictionary voraciously and learned a new word everyday. Reading your wonderful story about your daughter brought that to mind, and if you haven't read it I can only tell you that it is simply a wonderful book and you and your daughter might love to read it together!

Alex 2:49 PM  

The first theme answer I filled in was JOHN LE CARRE BOOK. Got enough crosses that I could figure it out. But while I've heard of him, I've never read him and couldn't name one of his books so that was absolutely no help in getting the rest of the theme clues.

When TRINITY didn't fit went with TRIAD which cause problems.

AGORA was a gimme but nothing else in the NE wanted to come to bme.

With E-O- figured ETON had a statue in Picadilly Circus. Of course, I have no idea if the Eton name in England has any connection to a person but it fit dang it.

I had no idea about JESSE OWENS Memorial Stadium so I'm really impressed with myself that I somehow got it off the first S in JESSE. Of course, that probably just means I did know it and don't remember knowing it.

Can't decide if I like the crossing of TRIO and TRINE at the R and that is what I had problems with TRIO, figured it was too close to TRIAD to be in the same puzzle.

jls 3:19 PM  

"ari" is sometimes the diminutive of "ariadne" -- as well as "aristotle."



profphil 3:59 PM  

Ari is also a Hebrew name (boys) similar to Aryeh. It means lion. Like in Ari Gross.

chefbea1 4:12 PM  

after I got tinker, tailor and soldier I wanted the last clue to start with sailor. Wasn't that a nursery rhyme I learned as a child?

marcie 4:21 PM  

wade, phillysolver (and sonic)... Thanks for the Youtube comedy skit on Pachelbel... It really is funny!! And it perfectly complements the version by the Canadian Brass (my personal very favorite) (sonic you will like this tempo) also available here:

The tuba player is the cellist for horns. Hilarious after watching the comedy skit!!

Joe 4:30 PM  

I recently bought my 8-year old an electronic Sharp dictionary and he plays with it more than any of his other toys. He looks up words and when he gets a defintion that contains a word he doesn't know, he looks that up too. The most-used Christmas present in the house!

PhillySolver 4:48 PM  

@ chefbea1

My friends in London used a rhyme that included those words (soldier, sailor) as part of a rhyme to pick among equal choices sort of like or "einey, meany miney moe" in the South. I really don't recall the rest of it, but I recall there was more.

Peter 4:56 PM  

Rex, I had a similar experience about a year ago when a "hand" crossword was published with index, middle, ring, and pinkie as the starts of the theme entries. Probably will happen again too.

Didn't see it in my scanning of the comments, but I'm almost certain this theme has been done before in the Times. Anyone know when and by whom?

billnutt 5:38 PM  

Christine Lavin and the Mistletones have a song called "The Taco Bell Canon," in which they sing names of foods to the melody of Pachlebel's Canon. "Gua-ca-mo-le, gua-ca-mo-le..." Very funny. (This is the same woman who wrote lyrics to the JEOPARDY think music, mind you.)

Fun puzzle, even though I've never read any LeCarre. I do remember Alex Guinness being terrific in the little bit of the BBC adaptation.

I always forget that it's LINA Wertmuller and not LENA. (Remember when Lorraine Newman used to do her on SNL? I do.)

Boy, TOORDER and TAILORMADE in consecutive days.

I never knew that Specer Tracy played Thomas Edison, but it's an inspired choice.

marcie 5:42 PM  

phillysolver... I had the same feeling (about the eeny meeny/tinker tailor).

I think this is it:

Tinker, tailor,
Beggar-man, thief,
Doctor, lawyer
Merchant chief.

At least that's what I can recall. I think there was more, to get to the actual selection.

Howard B 6:10 PM  

Vaguely heard of the book title, but it wasn't anywhere near my conscience. Plus, I thought LeCarre's first name was Phil for some reason (I don't care much for spy novels), and to boot, I've never, ever heard of SOLDIER BOY.. so when I had -------BOY, I was absolutely stumped. all those odd names in the puzzle just made it rougher.

Heck of a challenge though. Remind me to pay more attention on my next bookstore or library trip.

Fergus 7:07 PM  

Didn't like the pairing of Burglarized and BROKE IN, due to the apparent direct object mismatch. A quibble, for sure, on the general case of the verb.

Thought that LASTS for Stays was a great pairing for the many ways they match without being obvious synonyms.

Doesn't seem to matter what day of the week so far. I'll be surprised if FRI continues the MON thru THU pattern.

karmasartre 7:26 PM  

The TRINE "caught the last train for the coast" (the day the music died).

Fergus 8:03 PM  

Emily's lovely drawing is a nice echo of the Arnolfini bride, who supposedly wasn't pregnant after all.

jls 8:23 PM  

rich man, poor man,
beggar man, thief.
doctor, lawyer,
indian chief.

at least that's what it was in my neck o' the woods...



Rikki 8:51 PM  

Janie... same in my 'hood. Here are some more variations (more than you care to know, probably).

Fergus, you are a nitty little picker, but the burglarized/broke in bugged me a little, too. I burglarized his apartment. I broke in his apartment. I broke in his jeans. I burglarized his jeans.

Phillysolver... hilarious. Sandy... I forgot to say how outraged I was that they would use a school bombing reference in a children's dictionary. What a world, what a world...

Karmasatre... I just heard American Pie on the radio in the car!

Fergus 9:29 PM  

Rikki, those were quite entertaining direct object choices. My off-center pout about this issue was that BROKE IN stands alone, while Burglarized (though I was taught that Burgled was more economical) requires a subject in its phrasing. Verb transitivity was one of those things I grew up with. My mother, at 77, can still conjugate most of the Latin cases.

mac 9:51 PM  

A nice Thursday puzzle. Rex, loved the story about your daughter - I was given an illustrated dictionary when I was four and still remember knowing odd little facts, like "batik" and "termites".
Of course, after all the "The Ohio State etc. " business I tried to cram Hayes into 46 down before working on the other part of the answer..... Thought denims was a bit farfetched, before looking at the other clues in the area thought chaps.

Orange 10:43 PM  

We haven't had a chance to exchange Christmas presents with my cousin yet, but one of her gifts for my son is a dictionary. If he doesn't take to reading it for fun, I will take to my bed for extended mourning.

Viola D. Moray 10:59 PM  

Rex, do you have a spy camera aimed at my office? Your Sticky Note story hits home -- it's happened to me scores of times. Just as I'm ready to submit a puzzle to an editor, I open up that day's paper and see "my" theme fully executed by someone else. I discard my puzzle and the appropriate Sticky Note. I am sad. An hour later, I slap another Sticky-Note onto the idea board . . . and so it goes. If your debut puzzle is 1/1000th as imaginative as your blog . . you'll knock 'em dead. Keep up the good work. I look forward to seeing you and the gang at Stamford-in-Brooklyn in a few weeks. Ciao,


(aka Elizabeth C. Gorski)

Fergus 12:07 AM  

Talent borrows; true genius steals.

That's a line from some major art figure. Stealing stealthily (consciously or not) is on an even higher plane.

Greg 9:53 AM  

Hey guys, I have a couple of questions for anyone who can let me know!
1. What is the general format of the convention weekend? Are you there all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday? I tried to see if there was some sort of schedule online, but didn't see one at all! 2. Does anyone happen to know Kiran Kedlaya? He placed 7th last year at the tourney, and unless there happen to be two people in the world with such a name, I am convinced he was a friend of mine from HS who I played chess with and I would love to talk to him again!
Thanks all,

Anonymous 8:47 PM  

The statue of a naval hero that came to Rex's mind that isn't EROS in Picadilly is Nelson in Trafalgar Square.

Aviatrix 6:24 PM  

Love the dictionary story and will go out and make a special newspaper purchase when you tell us your NYT crossword submission is out.

Waxy in Montreal 8:27 PM  

6 wks on:

Theme was very solvable for any Lecarré fan. IMHO, A Perfect Spy (1986) is one of the greatest 20th century novels, no matter the genre. And Alec Guinness as George Smiley in the BBC versions of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People represents simply incomparable acting. Even (yes, meme not egal) Diane Keaton as The Little Drummer Girl nailed her Lecarré role.

Anonymous 7:25 PM  

As for AGGRO, it's quite a common term on our side of the pond these days, albeit in younger circles - generally referring to one's attitude the following morning after drinking/using too much, specifically the aggressive/irritable behaviour following a cocaine crash.

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