SUNDAY, Feb. 24, 2008 - Nancy Nicholson Joline (N.F.L. GUARD CHRIS)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Winners Circles," or THE OSCAR (1A: Theme of this puzzle) - 8 theme answers are Oscar winners that have the names of other Oscar winners embedded inside them (in the circled squares)

I would say that this puzzle provided a welcome relief from the brutalization I had to endure on Friday and Saturday, except I actually completed Friday's and Saturday's puzzles with no errors. The same cannot be said for today's. I @#$#d this one up. A single letter, where mysterious fish meets character played by Hot British actress. A vowel (of course - it's always an innocuous-seeming vowel).

  • 33A: Fish in fish and chips (plaice)
  • 13D: Detective superintendent Jane of TV's "Prime Suspect" (Tennison)

His LORDSHIP (84D: Term of respect abroad) Alfred Lord Tennyson wants to know what the bloody hell you've done to his name, Jane!? As for PLAICE - I wanted COD (98A: Mail order option, for short). And wasn't there a mystery fish in yesterday's puzzle. Yes! TAI, which was a kind of "bream," which is a bottom-feeding river fish of which I'd never heard. If only I were an ichthyologist. (True story: at summer camp in 1983 I had a counselor named ... well, I don't know what his actual name was, but everyone called him "Icky" because he was majoring in Ichthyology ... which sounds made-up. Can you major in that?).

The theme is quite elegantly expressed, and all the Oscar winners are very well known, especially the non-embedded answers (you know, the long ones, the full ones ... sometimes the themes make it hard to get my language precise). None of the theme answers caused any problems and I was even able to get a few of them with no help from crosses.

Theme answers:

  • 23A: Film (1954), actress (2003) ("ON THE WATERFRONT")
  • 37A: Director (2003), actor (1962) (PETER JACKSON)
  • 61A: Film (1992), actor (1958) ("UNFORGIVEN")
  • 71A: Actor (1934), actor (1995) (CLARK GABLE)
  • 94A: Actress (1986), director (1962) (MARLEE MATLIN)
  • 112A: Actress (1983), supporting actor (1999) (SHIRLEY MACLAINE)
  • 17D: Film (1993), actress (1987) ("SCHINDLER'S LIST)
  • 46D: Song (1942), supporting actress (1994) ("WHITE CHRISTMAS")

Lots of sounds in the puzzle today, with OOF (10D: Response to "pow!" in cartoons), OOHS (4D: Reactions to fireworks), and the weird-feeling AWS (27A: Comments around cute babies) all right near each other up there in the NNW. I briefly wondered why people would be saying "OW" around a cute baby. A cute baby crocodile, maybe. Here's something I just noticed and don't like: ENC (48A: Abbr. at the bottom of a letter) and ENCRE (22A: French pen filler) in the same puzzle. Perhaps I should like this. You could write "ENC" at the bottom of your letter in ENCRE, though if you were using ENCRE, then you'd be in a French-speaking setting and they likely have a different abbreviation for "ENC." At any rate ... wife was not happy at having "language I don't know (ENCRE) over language I don't know (NIHIL - 25A: Nothing, to Nero)". Those are the two languages I actually do know reasonably well, so I did not share her pain. As repetitions go, I guess ENC and ENCRE are not as bad as OYL (78A: Olive _____) and OIL (91A: Venezuelan export).

Here are some things I didn't know:

  • 15A: Is afflicted with sigmatism (lisps) - like many of you (probably), I read this as "stigmatism" and wanted something to do with eyes.
  • 35A: Isabel Allende's "_____ of My Soul" ("Inés") - Pretty. Also, my grandmother's name (Inez).
  • 53A: Granny, in Gelsenkirchen (oma) - ...? My ignorance of all things German continues to plague me.
  • 89A: Lead role in "La Cage aux Folles" (Renato)
  • 5D: N.F.L. guard Chris (Snee) - I imagine that his teammate and rival guard is named SNICK and the coach has to decide which one to play.
  • 68A: "The Age of Anxiety" author (Auden) - see, I know this, and yet when I see this title all I can think is "Self-Help Book."
  • 70A: Philosopher Kung Fu-_____ (Tse) - needed all the crosses for this one.
  • 111A: Soil improver (humus) - I like it with pita bread or on a nice falafel.
  • 44D: Basutoland, today (Lesotho) - gettable from crosses, but Basutoland was unheard of by me before today.
  • 47D: Capital known as the Venice of the East (Bangkok) - are there canals there? Is that it? Yes, it appears so:
  • 86D: "... as old as yonder _____": James Joyce ("elm") - is this quotation famous? My ignorance of Joyce goes nicely with me semi-ignorance of Auden, above.
  • 109D: Girl in Tennessee Williams's "Summer and Smoke" (Alma) - A literary ignorance trifecta. Beautiful. Ironic and beautiful.

Good stuff / bad stuff (mostly good):

  • 20A: Emphatic refusal ("No no no no") - whaddya think? Good or bad? (A: so bad it's good)
  • 55A: China's largest ethnic group (Han) - this is only good because I knew it. Nice to have friends who are Chinese scholars.
  • 57A: Nineveh's kingdom (Assyria) - JONAH (see Friday's puzzle) got sent here. He did not want to go.
  • 64A: Follower of weekend news, briefly (SNL) - they are currently looking for someone who can do a convincing Barack Obama imitation. It's either that, or poor Kenan Thompson's gonna have to lose 60 pounds.
  • 113D: 109-Across's old radio partner (Lum) - ABNER & LUM - I know them Only from crosswords.
  • 104A: Kwik-E-Mart owner on "The Simpsons" (Apu) - they need better ways to clue him. How about [Father of octuplets on "The Simpsons"]?
  • 33D: Villa in Mexico (Pancho) - this one had me tricked for a while, as I looked for a Spanish word for ... well, VILLA.
  • 50D: Informal eating place (dinette) - reminds me of game show prizes circa 1978.
  • 71D: Reunion gatherers (clan) - no final "s" for the plural. Tricky. Mildly.
  • 121A: Forensic experts (debaters) - again, tricky. I wanted ... I don't know, whatever that guy on "C.S.I." does. Or that chick on "Bones." Remember "Bones?" Of course you don't.
  • 98D: Tibetan or Afghan (canine) - get it? They're dogs. Not Asians. Nice. Back-to-back days for "Afghan" in the clues. Good for it.

A final shout-out to the crossword stalwarts Milo O'SHEA (82A: Milo of "Ulysses"), the oddly-clued EWER (24D: Household item with a neck), and the always lovely NENE (29D: One flying over Hawaii)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Doug 9:45 PM  

Eh? I came on to check Saturday and found Sunday waiting for me!

Rex Parker 9:49 PM  

Saturday's just down there ... right ... down there. Just under this entry. Not far. Scroll. Down.

Bill from NJ 10:24 PM  

I swarmed this puzzle in just under 20 minutes - a new record for me!!

I worked in all four quadrents and proceeded in no particular order. To paraphrase Lewis Carroll, I started at the beginning, went to the end, then stopped.

This puzzle was more ingenious than difficult.

Karen 10:30 PM  

TENNISON also crossed SONATA, which is also fit by SOLARA, another mid-size sedan. Lorelco just sounded right enough to my ear.

I had NOSIRREE for NONONONO, which is fun to type.

Clever theme for the day.

Spencer 11:03 PM  

My lack of attention to pop culture hurt me in this one. I can't believe that I had "THEOS WAR" for 1A until the very end, when light finally dawned. WOW seemed good for 6D, although COW is perhaps better. Oh, well.

PhillySolver 11:48 PM  

So, what's going on with that bandito called Pancho Villa or am I spelling that wrong?

Just under 45 minutes for me and a stumble and a fall. I was sure that radio show was Lil' Abner and I tried awfully hard to get it to work. Settled on Lum and Abner and went to listen to a sample. I will not be posting a clip because it 'taint remotely funny, Abner. The error was one letter, but different than anyone else I bet. I entered INC for the corporate letter then later made ingulfs and left it. Drat! Tried Lorriel (sp) for grooming stuff, Put off Louisa for awhile and wonder if she misses the May part of her name here.

Happy to see DEBATERS and report I was a Diamond Key member of the NFL (National Forensic League, Ripon, WI) really.

I liked ROE clue, but I am now officially tired of APU and OBIT. Overall, a nice Sunday puzzle.

Anonymous 11:53 PM  


Finished puzzle but had to Google at the end to check the spelling of 3 names: TennYson and MarlIe and ineZ (which I filled in but questioned). Googled all 3 spellings as it could have been Marlie/marley didn't even think of Marlee; Tennison/Tenneson/Tennyson and Ines/Inez. The crosses didn't help as plaice looked as right as plaece or playce; Selez as good as seles and I still cant spell ouevres without it looking wrong to me.

The NW was the last to fall. Had wow at first instead of cow and had
Stars' war (though it was a pun on Star Wars)instead of The Oscar.
Finally staightened it out.

Did not do much for me though.

Doug 11:58 PM  

Glad to finally finish a puzzle after getting brutalized on Fri and Sat. Had no trouble until I got to the US/Mexico border and then got a bit stuck. How the heck do you spell Macclaine? Mcclane, Macclain? My wife pitched in on that one, and People mag came to the rescue!

Your Bangkok pic is taken from the floating market in Damnoen Saduak, about 1-2 hours driving west of Bangkok. When we lived there and had guests we had a killer day tour. Up early on Saturday, drive to the floating market and hire a boat off the beaten track. We hired boats from a guy that kept a 10' boa constrictor under his seat, so Somchai the Snake would come out for pics. Float around, buy breakfast and fruit off the boats, and then drive to Kanchanaburi, for a visit to the Bridge over the River Kwai. Late lunch, and back to Bangkok.

Here's a trivia question: What American and Asian city share the same English name, but in their own language? Los Angeles and Krungthep (Bangkok) are both "City of the angels."

Martin 12:25 AM  

"Forensic" means "used in debate." From that it morphed into "evidentiary." CSI is about forensic science. We may use "forensics" as a shorthand for "forensic science," but today's clue is more accurate than popular usage.

PhillySolver 12:29 AM  

Pardon my first sentence above. I really thought the translation of villa was PONCHO making the revolutionary name mean something like house/house or town/town. I tried all kinds of variations on palace since I had the starting P. I now see Pancho Villa means "calm village". Whew!

Pinky 8:39 AM  

Three tricky answers in a bunch.
PANCHO (not RANCHO), PLAICE (?),TENNISON, and the real stumper NENE (no no no!)

Ulrich 9:13 AM  

Found this the easiest Sunday puzzle in ages and managed to do it without breaking stride except for the Tennesse section, where I lost some time.

Puzzlers take note: The male counterpart to "Oma" in German is "Opa", another 3-letter word with eminent crossword potential.

For those of you who are dying to learn the story behind these words :-), here it is: "Grandma" is "Grossmama" in German, which is too much of a mouthful for a small kid to pronounce and becomes "Oma". "Opa" has the equivalent derivation.

PhillySolver 9:33 AM  

I remember that the Hawiian state bird used to be a regular in the crosswords. Seeing it again, I thought I would like to know what it looked like and this site even shows the bird in a video thinking about going to the ACPT. Click below to view:


Or you can copy this link:

Leon 9:58 AM  

Nice Sunday trip down Oscar memory lane.

Looked up a few things I did not know:

Rock & Sole Plaice is London's oldest fish and chip shop

Anorak is also slang given to someone who has an obsession with a particular hobby.

Kung Fu-Tse aka Confucius is right below OAT which when reversed = TAO.

Liz 10:10 AM  

Enjoyed the link to the Nene including the video. As a birder I am always ready to look at another bird picture. I'll probably never get to Hawaii.

I found this puzzle underwhelming. Three days in a row without an error. Rex made me enjoy it more than I did solving it. I think I'll stick to hummus for my pita bread.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Chris Snee is Tom Coughlin's, no contest as to who plays...

ArtLvr 10:27 AM  

Glad to zip through this one! Latin phrase to note: "Ex nihilo, nihil fit." = Out of nothing, nothing comes. (Theme of song in The Sound of Music!)

Thanks to Doug for the sidelight above about the identical meaning of city names Los Angeles and Bangkok in native languages. Are the original Latinos in L.A. going to be reclassiified as neo-Native Americans? Or 27A, "cute babies" in Southern California now neo-native neonates? No, no, never mind...

I wanted 52A "work ___" to be work IT OUT, but yes, ETHIC was better. And the other plurals not ending in "s" besides CLAN were 79A, FAD, for "troll dolls, once", and 108A, ROE for "future school?" (fish eggs). Good sneakiness!

Still working on Friday's puzzle, what a horror.


Orange 10:29 AM  

Rex, Rex, Rex. You would have been all over OMA if you'd read what I wrote about OMA the last time it popped up, with a clue that was some old government agency. I pleaded for the German Oma to have her day in die Sonne, and here she is!

wendy 10:29 AM  

SNL chose Fred Armisen to play Barack, and ... he was not good. I shifted uncomfortably throughout the opening sketch - he didn't capture any of the mannerisms, not even close.

billnutt 11:06 AM  

No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no
Nobody can to the Philly, like I do...

Love that song, and it's on at least one soundtrack (KILL BILL, a title that always makes me shudder), so I'll probably be playing it on the air tonight.

Fun puzzle, and I had to admire the ingenuity of Nancy Nicholson Joline in finding all those embedded Oscar winners.

Yes, I got tripped up by Tennison at first, but PLAYCE just seemed too weird. My astignatism (and THAT'S spelled correctly) also gave me a problem when I initially put ALDOUS in the same squares where ACTOUT should go. (Look how many letters they share!)

Still, this was a breeze compared to the horror of the past two days.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

I'm a Track and Cross Country mom so thought seeds was a gimme for
49A "Places for Runners"

Didn't like the theme because the circled answers were so unrelated to the non-circled.

arnie 11:47 AM  

I seem to have some sort of dyslexia when it comes to vowels, particularly an ou sequence. I always want to put it in as uo.
Got hung up with Aldous and Louisa because of it and actually resorted to looking up the spelling on Aldous. What a strange name for a person. Sounds more like a make of Rolls Royce....they arrived at the opera in a sleek, new Aldous Huxley.

johnson 11:52 AM  

Same error as Rex...PlaYce. Could we have another ASOK debate in the making?

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Dang! Tennison and plaice got me too. Thought I'd done it perfectly until I came here.

jannieb 12:10 PM  

Yikes - yet another geographical vowel mistake - why not "EAT" bran???????? My bad

Bill from FL 12:10 PM  

I finished all right, but I continue to be in awe of you guys' times. Geez. Anyway, I had a few problems in the NE, because I didn't remember "encre" and I never heard of that usage of stigmatism. I had "poised" instead of "primed" for a while and "originally" instead of "initially." No major hangups though, just a lot of fun.

karmasartre 12:28 PM  

Since NONONONO is a quadruple negative, it is a positive, hence not an emphatic refusal.

John Reid 12:32 PM  

Happy to finish this in under 20 minutes (barely!) with no mistakes. A new record for me for a Sunday, yay!

I also had THEO'S WAR until a few minutes before finishing... I was thinking that it looked like it wanted to be CHAOS WAR, but ANTREE? I went through the downs, and saw that 'wow' could be 'cow' - and it still took me a long moment for it to click! Good grief.

The only theme entry that I found a little unnerving was MARLEE MATLIN, containing director LEAN. I'm not very familiar with Matlin, and Lean I've never heard of.

33A certainly was mean. I really wanted RANCHO at 33D, but the RL- across looked awful and I was happy with NORELCO. NENE was only obvious from having done so many puzzles in the past. I wavered over PLAYCE vs. PLAICE and finally chose the I. Not sure why because I don't recall ever having heard of plaice before! I'd be more likely to have heard of Jane Tennison. I consider this to have been a lucky guess! We all have to have them once in a while though.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

I just started recording my times a few weeks ago, and I think I am starting to see a connection between when I solve and my time. I solve either at 10 pm or 6 am, and my guess is that I am about 20% faster in the morning. I'm curious: do others have the same experience, or the opposite, or does it depend on the day of the week?

I also had PLAYCE and couldn't find the error, but I wonder if it's because I was tired and unmotivated when I tried to solve this puzzle last night...

Bill from fl 1:02 PM  

David Lean was a British director("A Bridge on the River Kwai," "Lawrence of Arabia," "Doctor Zhivago" and many others).

miriam b 1:08 PM  

Once I overcame my insistence on reading "astigmatism" for "sigmatism", I breezed through this ingenious puzzle. Could my own astigmatism have led me astray? I WAS wearing my glasses.

The diagramless on the same page of the mag section was fun. I love them: crosswords with an almost Sudoku-like quality. This one was described as asymmetrical. In fact, it had NEARLY right-left symmetry, but there was one square which should have been black and instead was occupied by a letter. This has continued to annoy me for unknown reasons.

Have a good day, all. The snow has pretty much melted here.

Rikki 1:11 PM  

This was a fun romp after slogging through Friday and Saturday. Very clever and well executed theme.

@John Reid, David Lean directed some classics (Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, Bridge over the River Kwai, Great Expectations, Passage to India). Marlee Matlin was brilliant in Children of a Lesser God and went on to have a full career of movie and television, including my favorite West Wing where she played Joey Lucas. Check them out!

@Billnutt, nobody can do the boogaloo like I do!

What I learned today: the meaning of forensics, speaking of which, Jane Tennison is a wonderful actress and the Prime Suspect series is some gritty, hard-nosed British detective stuff. Loved it.

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

Orange, are you sure the government agency wasn't OPA? The OPA was FDR's Office of Price Administration. I think OMA has been rendered as the dreaded medical suffix, but I don't remember seeing a government agency.


ArtLvr 1:35 PM  

re Plaice --

First had a delicious plaice in San Francisco... For a picture of an "unsexed specimen" of the many-named Artic Flounder looking fat and happy, though possibly crosseyed and upside down, see :


Anonymous 1:52 PM  

I would not give up on rancho as the villa in mexico and I wanted the answer to 121 across to have DNA at its start. otherwise an easy puzle

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

104A Clue --- Nahasapeemapetilon?
Who would know that?

kalisa 2:41 PM  

I think it would've been great if the answer to the Emphatic Refusal had been OH HELL NO.

(which was also, BTW, my reax to last night's Tiger game...)

foodie 2:57 PM  

Nenes remind me of wonderful trips in Hawaii, which has the best road signs in the world. One is "Drive Carefully: Nenes Crossing". Another: "Turn on headlights when driving through the clouds".

How cool is that?

ronathan 3:26 PM  

I always thought that the Wade-Giles translation of Confucius was Kung-fu-tzu, not Kung-fu-tse. I wonder where they (Joline and/or Shortz) got this one.

Orange 4:25 PM  

Byron: Ah, yes. Oma and Opa are grandma and grandpa, and the postwar government agencies I'd never heard of don't always sink into the brain.

JC66 4:45 PM  

I think the old radio show was LUM & ABNER.

Agree with billnutt "you have to admire the ingenuity of Nancy Nicholson Joline in finding all those embedded Oscar winners." What patience and creativity it must take to construct a puzzle for the NY Times (even a Monday). Sometimes, it may be too easy for some of us to forget this when we offer our comments.

billnutt 5:14 PM  

Rikki, I have to admire your musical taste. Not only did your husband open for the Ramones at CBGB's, but you can quote the Human Beinz!

David Lean was acclaimed as both a director and editor. He had a gift for understanding and conveying nuances of character, besides being able to convey spectacle. If anyone hasn't seen BRIEF ENCOUNTER and/or LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and/or BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, check 'em out. His last movie was A PASSAGE TO INDIA - an OK movie, but not the masterpiece that the others are.

Kathy 5:46 PM  

Did anyone else do the Boston Globe puzzle and find that Chris Snee was in there, too--first name and last name and separate clues? WTF?! I am an avid football fan and a devout follower of the Patriots (hey, I grew up rooting for them--I deserve some payback; same with the Red Sox). I watched the Superbowl (ack) with everyone else, and why have I never, ever heard of this guy? Okay, one constructor gets stuck with an snee and googles for any possible answer, but two in one day?!

Obviously, I am not over the Superbowl yet....when is opening day? Oh yeah, six a.m. in Japan for my Sox....


Michael 6:08 PM  

I went through this quickly, but had two letters wrong (which I should have had). I've got to learn the roles on the Simpsons, which I have seen only occasionally. The u in "Apu" was the last letter I filled in.

Freddie M. 6:10 PM  

All I can hear after NONONONO is "Mama Mia let me go, Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me...."

Kathy 6:10 PM  


I unfailingly go for "Stu," but like Pavlov's dog, I am beginning to learn.


Bill from NJ 6:37 PM  

I quessed right on PLAICE - twice! - as I used to watch Prime Suspect on PBS. I heard her name as Tennison put did not see it spelled out and had no idea how to spell ANORAK.

They were both lucky guesses but after Fri and Sat...

I'll take it.

Ladel 8:01 PM  

All the xword drill aside, what if they gave the Oscars and the winning pictures couln't be shown for money for five years...just a thought$$$$$$$$?

Mike 8:58 PM  

Can someone explain 3D Password e.g. = ENTREE?

Glad to see I wasn't the only one who tried CHAOS WAR on 1A

Ladel 9:40 PM  


it's just the French way of saying entry, which if you get it right, a password allows.

ronathan 9:41 PM  

OEUVRES gave me a really hard time, especially since I didn't get 107A (SUV) until later. I kept looking at "Tahoe" and thinking "lake"; I didn't think of cars until I had an epiphany.

I groaned out loud at 108A (Future school?) and 88D (Late news), but in hindsight I have to say those are pretty clever.

Also had a hard time in the central north b/c I put SENTRA in 8A instead of SONATA. . . I guess the SENTRA is actually a higher class of car than the Accord? Not sure.

Badir 11:17 PM  

I, alas, as a vegetarian also had problems with PLAICE. But I got TENNISON correct; it was just that my aunt who spent a semester in Denmark never bothered to tell me about the ANORAK, so I tried to spell it "anorek". I felt like the puzzle started off pretty tough, but I kept moving along, until I had everything except Texas, and then I sat there. Nothing for about 15 minutes! Since I don't have a car, it took me forever to figure out that Tahoe could be anything other than a lake. But when I got SUV, I dredged OEUVRES out of my memory somewhere and guessed LOUISA, and there I was!

Hey, I watched last night's SNL this evening (Yay, TiVo), and it was pretty interesting to see Tina Fey back in her old stomping grounds with all the abuse that a guest host gets.

Catherine K 7:41 PM  

It took me ages to realize that "Pancho Villa" refers to a Mexican person, not a Mexican place. Geez!

Anonymous 4:50 PM  

The only spot where I had any problem was with 3D - Password clue. An entree is something you get at a restaurant and because I knew that Florence was north and more inland from Rome, I was positive it should be SSW. Therefore I finally had to check on a map and see the error of my ways but still didn't like "entree". Funny how everyone has their own areas of difficulties

Anonymous 7:11 PM  

41 Across (12 meses) is not ANO—anus in Spanish—it’s AÑO which means year. The N and the Ñ (enye—pronounced NY) are two separate letters and there’s no such name as PAÑCHO for the cross. Nancy should be ashamed

Carl 7:49 AM  

36A is wrong. Florence's longitudinal coordinate is 11° 15′ 13″ E and Rome's is 12° 40' 0" E, thus indicating that Rome is slightly east of Florence. The correct answer for 36A should be SSE

Rex Parker 8:08 AM  

The answer *is* SSE. Click on the grid and look at it. 36A = SSE.

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