Sunday, April 13, 2008

Relative difficulty: Super easy

THEME: "How Insulting!" - DIS is added to familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued

Happy Sunday, readers - and a special hello to the thousands of you reading this in syndication (i.e. one week behind ... that's right, I'm looking at you, Vancouver, Calgary, and [insert your town's name here]!). I'm using this lovely (actually kinda rainy) spring day to make my first ever "Please Support This Site" pitch. I spend untold hours writing and maintaining this site, and have done so for over 18 months now, happily, without any remuneration. [Cue swelling violin music ... roll pictures of cute pets] This site has grown over the past year and a half into a shockingly large online crossword community, with thousands of readers coming here every day for answers, solving tips, useful crossword links, and (I hope) entertainment. In the coming year, I will be investing in the site, professionalizing its design, adding links and content, and generally making it more useful to you all.

All I ask is that you consider what the blog is worth to you, and donate accordingly. It'll be like PBS ... only without the tax deduction. Or "Clifford the Big Red Dog." Or "Celtic Woman." Use the PayPal donation button in the sidebar to make a secure donation online [very easy to use, like any other kind of on-line shopping interface], or, if you are a Luddite (and if you're reading this, you're a pretty sorry one), or just don't like using PayPal for whatever reason, and would prefer to send in your donation via snail mail, simply send a check, payable to "Rex Parker," to:

Rex Parker
4700 Vestal Parkway East, #279
Vestal NY 13850-3770

If you have no intention of donating anything to this site, or are financially unable to, I completely understand. I hope you continue to enjoy the blog. In all sincerity (and I am not accustomed to "all sincerity," so bear with me), I am extremely grateful to you all for your readership, your (mostly kind) mail, and your contributions to the blog's Comments section. I'm thrilled to be part of such a smart, congenial, generous community, and the fact that anyone besides my mom reads what I write is a source of continual joy to me. So thanks.

Oh, and you may have noticed the "Survey" in the sidebar. The current survey is closed, but sidebar surveys will probably be a semi-regular feature of the blog, so keep your eye out. I'm also starting two new features as of the Sunday, April 20 puzzle: READER MAIL and READER PICTURES (look for those in future Sunday write-ups, and please, send me any xword-related pictures you might have and I'll happily post them).

Now, your puzzle:

This puzzle was so easy ("How easy was it!?") ... it was so easy that the only joke I can think of here is a sexual one so I'll just say Very easy (easy "for me," I should say - no offense meant to those who got bogged down or otherwise struggled in places). The easiest Sunday NYT I've ever done. Without really trying, I ended up with my fastest Sunday time ever, and I could have been a minute or two faster, I think, if I hadn't had some typing fumbles and a slight bit of trouble getting the same traction in the bottom of the puzzle that I had in the top (which I solved in, I believe, negative four minutes). I expect to hear a lot of people say they had personal best times today. This is why difficulty Friday and Saturday puzzles are good for you - after you've been through those ordeals, you are good and ready to Punish a Sunday puzzle. Take that, Lord's Day!

Theme answers:

  • 22A: Foul weather condition? (DISgusting winds)
  • 30A: Some moralizing about getting off a balance beam? (Sermon on the DISmount) - this was the first theme answer I got; should've / could've been made a Little bit harder by changing "getting off a balance beam" to "a gymnastics feat" or something equally generic.
  • 38A: "Do your thing, Jack the Ripper"? ("Go DISfigure") - This one half creeps me out and half makes me laugh. I didn't know enthusiasm for carving up women passed the breakfast test. At least when you look at the grid, you can choose to read this as GOD IS FIGURE, whatever that means.
  • 59A: Sophistication of clubs like Sam's and BJ's? (DIScounter culture)
  • 68A: Concerns of someone who's choking? (food and DISlodging) - first disfigurement, now asphyxiation? Nice.
  • 88A: Her Royal Daunter? (DISMay Queen) - possibly the toughest of the bunch. I would not have put "Daunt" and DISMAY as synonyms, though I'm sure they're in a thesaurus listing together somewhere.
  • 96A: Coleslaw-loving children? (Cabbage DISPatch Kids) - my favorite by far, both for the great 80s pop culture reference, and for the image of children devouring cabbage with glee.
  • 111A: Find chewing gum under a desk, perhaps? (duck and DIScover)
Doesn't the following sound like a tagline for some insane television show about, I don't know, a rogue European spy?: "Head of Britain, Tongue of Jung!" - 19A: Head of Great Britain (loo), and 10A: Tongue of Jung: Abbr. (Ger.). Strangely, I balked at both of these the first time I saw them. Took "head" literally and thought 10A might be the actual GERman word for "tongue." As you all know, my GERman vocabulary runs to about five words. The word for "tongue" is not one of them.

Lots of interesting names in the puzzle today. ERIC Bana (45A: Actor Bana of "Munich") gets used for his first name, which is a switch. "Coming Home" star is not VOIGHT or FONDA but Bruce DERN (52D: "Coming Home" co-star). I had Judy Garland's real name as GUMP for a while, as GUMM looks absurd (73D: Judy Garland's real last name). Do other names, or any words, end "-UMM?" And then there's a bevy of ENIDs, which is a sight you rarely see (31D: Bagnold, Blyton, Markey, etc.). Plural first names are about as cheap an entry as you can get, but the absurdity of multiple ENIDs somehow mitigates the problem for me here.

Looking the puzzle over just now, I realize that at least part of the reason the puzzle was so easy was that the grid is made up overwhelmingly of letters from the RLSTN group and vowels. The non-theme answers in particular are astonishingly free of Scrabbly letters - a lonely "J" and "K" are hiding up there a gaggle of E's, N's, and T's in the NE. And CAPRI (96D: Banana liqueur drink shaken over ice) looks positively sizzling next to the other answers in that PALLID (91D: Sans a healthy glow) SW corner. Sometimes, fun theme entries are enough to carry a puzzle, and as easy puzzles go, this is certainly more than competent. Not surprising, as Cathy Millhauser is an old pro whose puzzles have frequently been featured at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.


  • 1A: Polish Peace Nobelist (Walesa) - a gimme, and the key to the NW. I polished off all 6 Downs up there one after the other without stopping or even hesitating, which almost Never happens on a Sunday.
  • 20D: Where "I shot a man" in Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" (Reno) - should've read "Where 'I shot a man ... just to watch him die.'" More in keeping with the whole GO DISFIGURE theme. Johnny Cash rules. Here's an early performance. So Great.
  • 25A: 1980s U.N. ambassador Kirkpatrick (Jeane) - Now "Kirkpatrick" is a name that would look good in the grid. Three K's!
  • 37A: Saloon door sign (Gents) - a spot-on clue.
  • 77A: March master (Sousa) - first thought: ST. PAT.
  • 78A: Fraction of a min. (msec) - very uncertain about this at first. I think I've had NSEC before, and PARSEC, but MSEC? Never seen it.
  • 87A: Bruce who played Watson (Nigel) - I had two major "How Did I Know That?" moments. One was here, and the other was at 91A: Eucharist plate (paten). Got the latter off the "N" and was stunned when what felt like a made-up word ended up being exactly right.
  • 105A: Player of filmdom's Mr. Chips (Donat) - he's back in your Sunday puzzle, so you may as well remember his name.
  • 107A: Welsh rabbit ingredient (ale) - here's a lesson: read the clues. I had STEPS-VER at 79D: Efficiency device (step-saver) and without looking at the clue assumed it had to be STEPS OVER. That gave me OLE at 107A. Perfectly good word, so I didn't look at that clue either. I am clearly not good enough to be flying blind like that.
  • 114A: Passage practices (rites) - horribly awkward phrasing.
  • 115A: Chihuahua drink (agua)
  • 116A: Prominent Chihuahua feature (ear) - cute ... ish.
  • 3D: Crosses the international date line from east to west (loses a day) - great clue / answer. I will LOSE A DAY this July when we go to NZ. Last time we went to NZ, I "lost" Christmas. Completely.
  • 7D: 1979 film parodied in "Spaceballs" ("Alien") - wow, I thought only "Star Wars" was parodied in this. If I've seen "Spaceballs," it's been 20+ years.
  • 12D: Swiss dish of grated and fried potatoes (rosti) - one of the only head-turners in this whole puzzle. Never ever heard of it. Sounds good.
  • 32D: Postal creed word (nor) - went through the weather hazards (ice?) until realizing the answer was a simple conjunction.
  • 34D: Rock's _____ Pop (Iggy)
  • 35D: Popular pop (cola) - a pair of pops. The former beats the latter pretty badly. Here is Iggy Pop. I like how he has to be carried to the mike at the beginning.
  • 39D: '50s teen star (Fabian) - I know of him from "Laverne & Shirley"
  • 43D: Tommie _____, 1966 A.L. Rookie of the Year (Agee) - wanted AMES, don't know why.
  • 53D: Stacking contest cookie (Oreo) - the only OREO-stacking videos I could find were of poor quality, or had drunk guys shouting profanity, so here is cup-stacking, which my nephew is Way into now. Apparently it's a competitive thing, and young kids are particularly good at it. Watch.
  • 59D: Sideless wagon (dray) - had DORY, which I think is a ship. At least I was in the vehicle ballpark.
  • 70D: Venetian V.I.P. of yore (doge) - ah, yore. Everyone's favorite time period.
  • 71D: Wannabe's model (idol) - that's an oddly disparaging clue. Can't you IDOLize someone without actually wanting to be him/her?
  • 87D: Like a relative notified in an emergency, maybe (nearest) - don't like this. Wanted NEAR KIN, which also would not have been good.
  • 90D: Preserves fruits (quinces) - I like that this clue looks like a verb phrase.
  • 92D: Remove by cutting (ablate) - a very ugly word.
  • 94D: Honshu metropolis (Osaka) - On a purely aesthetic level, I Love (the word) OSAKA. Dramatic off-center "K" among other, lesser, supporting letters. Feels good to say, too.
  • 97D: Old Norse works (eddas) - had SAGAS at first, like a chump.
  • 100D: Oral flourishes (tadas) - "Oral" threw me. Badly. I was grossed out imagining what the answer here could possibly be.
  • 103D: "Once You _____ Stranger" (1969 thriller) ("Kiss a") - saw "Kiss of Death" (1947) last night for the first time. It's Amazing. Richard Widmark as Tommy Udo is a performance everyone should see at least once. That guy is the greatest film noir actor of them all.
  • 108D: TV host known for his mandibular prognathism (Leno) - i.e. his chin is big.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


chefbea1 8:52 AM  

I have been waiting patiently for the blog to appear since I finnished in record time this morning. I usually start the puzzle, have breakfast and then go back to it. Finnished it too qhickly so I will have nothing to do after breakfast. I think a sub theme for this puzzle would be food!!. In the theme answers - food and lodging, cabbage patch kids, Duck and cover. Then there is the grated fried potatoes and of course Julia child.

SethG 9:08 AM  

Never thought I'd have an excuse to post a link to Spaceballs two days in a row, but someone'll wonder.

And everyone will have time to watch...add me to the chorus of personal best times (over 11). Don't really have much to say about the puzzle, but since I visit multiple times a day maybe I'll think of something later.

PhillySolver 9:36 AM  

Indeed an easy puzzle and I had some fun with the theme and then SURPRISE! I have an error. I don't know the word ABLATE and thought a good cutter would be ablade giving me rides for a passage. That didn't seem way off base...I can ride through a passage. I should have thought it through.

Duck and cover is a required maneuver when hunting with Dick Cheney.

I assume msec is a millisecond, but a science person can tell me if my assumption that an nesec (nanosecond) is shorter.

In addition to god is figure I see that you can drop a few letters and get monotheism from the SERMONONTHEDISMOUNT.

Ulrich 9:47 AM  

I agree with the therapeutic function of a Sunday puzzle. I was totally beaten yesterday--the combination of unknown names and idiomatic phrases I had never heard of made me actually give up--a first for me. But I was looking out at the lovely weather here in CT and asked myself: Do you want to go out or keep on banging your head against the puzzle--and the weather won.

Which is a convoluted way of saying I enjoyed this puzzle b/c it was easy--not the least b/c I had in the very beginning "God is with me" instead of "go disfigure".

Now out into the sunshine again!

miriam b 9:47 AM  

@chefbea1: Another food reference: my beloved QUINCE. I planted a quince tree several years ago. It doesn't always produce enough fruit to keep me happy, but I can always hope. The blossoms are beautiful.

Agreed, it was quite an easy puzzle, but clever.

wendy 9:57 AM  

Things I got a kick out of:

1 - I was watching Winsor McKay: The Master Edition on dvd at the same time as I was encountering the Welsh rabbit clue (var.: rarebit). If that's not a harmonic convergence, I don't know what is. Thanks for turning me on to him, Rex, I was blown away.

2 - The other day there was something about a Bowie collaborator, and I had put in Pop as my answer (it was ENO, damnit), and it pissed me off all day. The universe has righted itself; here's Iggy!

3 - ADOPT A is one of my favorite answers today, I believe. Also LOSES A DAY.

I would have finished the puzzle had it not been for my unfortunate Doll answer instead of KIDS; completely avoidable if I'd been paying attention to tense. It screwed up everything in that little section.

chefbea1 10:05 AM  

@miriam b right I did forget quince and also porter house and t-bone steaks. and another - ale that goes in Welsh Rarebit. It is not rabbit. There might be a recipe in Wales for cooking rabbit but it has nothing to do with rarebit which is melted cheese mixed with ale and served over toast.yummmm

imsdave 10:06 AM  

How insulting! is a perfect name for this puzzle. No snags, got most of the theme answers without looking at the clues. Only thing I had to change was NSEC to MSEC (easy after reading the baseball clue). Didn't time it but couldn't have been more then 20 minutes while eating breakfast. Didn't see half the downs due to the easiness of the acrosses, and still had no errors. As Teddy KGB said in Rounders, 'I feel violated'.

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

Not so easy as to take away the enjoyment: just right.

Now I'm off to navigate Paypal.

Johnson 10:43 AM  

Also found the puzzle easy but was stumped at the cross of EDDAS/DONAT. Anyone else?

I like when the theme (which I discovered via CABBAGEDISPATCHKIDS) helps to solve the rest of the puzzle.

johnson 10:47 AM  

Rex, tried to vote in your survey, website would not accept my vote.

Badir 10:52 AM  

I thought this was pretty easy, but I think it was only my third fastest Sunday ever, so maybe it wasn't _that_ easy. :) A nice relief after having to throw in the towell yesterday.

Before I figured out the theme, for 38A I had GO DISMEMBER, which I think is even more disturbing, though spot-on, though it wouldn't be thematic. I had a little hesitation at the end with the EDDA/DONAT crossing--guess I really should learn those. And I've been burned by HAI before, so when I checked the grid and found AMEIN, I fixed it!

Maybe I should have some ROSTI with ALE and CAPRI--yum! Wash it down with a bit of NEHI? No T-BONE, though, I'm a veggie.

jannieb 10:54 AM  

I don't do these puzzles against the clock. I do them to keep my mind nimble and open to looking at things (clues) from many different angles.

I hope these last few weeks aren't a trend. The puzzles have been just too easy lately. Friday and Saturday were the only enjoyable outings this week for me. I love slogging through a "challenging" puzzle with no googles. I love taking 30 or 60 minutes over the course of a day to get all the answers. If I do have to resort to wiki or google, at least I'm learning something. I especially hate to finish a Sunday puzzle before I've had my first cup of coffee.

Sorry for the rant but I had to say it. I did enjoy the theme today (except for the Jack the Ripper clue - breakfast test grade a D- at best). It was just too easy to fulfill my expectations of a Sunday puzzle.

I'm off to a bridge tournament next week so don't think I've left in a huff. Any of you bridge players going to be in Gatlinburg???

Now I'm off to Paypal - happy to support my favorite site.

Rex Parker 10:54 AM  

Yes, there appears to be a problem with Blogger's survey software, as Firefox users on PCs are being rudely rebuffed. I'll see about using different survey software in the future.


bill from fl 11:11 AM  

I didn't think it was all that easy. I had a few rough spots, especially in the SW, and wound up with the same error as Phillysolver. I also didn't get the verb-noun shift in the clue for QUINCES until after I had filled it.

This was a fun puzzle, but it was less hip than a lot of recent NYT puzzles, like yesterday's. All of the TV and movie references were really old stuff.

And Jeane Kirpatrick? I remember her for the distinction between totalitarian (bad) and authoritarian (OK) states. As one observer noted, the difference seemed to be that totalitarian states engage in torture and secret executions, while authoritarian states leave these functions to the private sector.

jae 11:19 AM  

I'm also not into speed on Sunday so I deliberately didn't read many of the theme clues and worked the downs just to draw out the solving experience. My only missteps were NSEC and ADMRS for CMDRS. An enjoyable puzzle even if a bit too easy and somewhat clunky in places.

ds 11:33 AM  

thanks for giving us an opportunity to donate - and I made sure I donated before posting this comment.

While nothing is ever that easy for me, I was able to get through almost all the puzzle without pausing. However, it took me a long time to accept 9D. COG as a "subordinate person."

imsdave 11:53 AM  

My apologies to Cathy Millhauser. I just reread my rant from earlier this morning and realized I focused my three puzzle disappointment on one person. the puzzle is well built, and the theme answers clever, and it illustrates a skill way beyond my ken. The Boston Globe and Merl Reagle's puzzle today were also on the easy side, so my usual 2 hours of Sunday puzzling were cut woefully short.

Mea culpa.

PuzzleGirl 11:58 AM  

If you're ever in Nosara, Costa Rica, go to a place called Casa Romantica and have the rosti. I think it's really good and if addieloggins were here she'd tell you it's to die for.

Fun, easy puzzle. I made the ABLADE/ABLATE mistake, but didn't have any trouble anywhere else.

I found the Jack the Ripper clue/answer really disturbing. I'm not going to rant about it, but PLEASE -- no more!

I'm eager to see what Rex does to "upgrade" the blog and will definitely contribute to help that little project along.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

Yes, an easy puzzle,but I did get stuck in the SW by entering PALLOR instead of PALLID ("Sans a healthy glow") and not getting any help from the Latin IDEST and the awkwardly clued RITES.

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

My main issue with this puzzle is that yesterday I did the Sunday puzzle from this week in 2006, and "Sermon on the dismount" was in that one as well! Weird.

russalka 12:14 PM  

Rosti is a Swiss-German dish. By the way, the border between French-speaking and German-speaking cantons is called Rosti graben (Rosti trench).

Leon 12:50 PM  

Nice puzzle. Loved the LOO clue.

Satan, "Emperor of the Dolorous Realm" is also known as DIS.

Blake's Print - Gate of Dis.

Thanks for the site, glad to contribute to the upkeep.

mac 12:50 PM  

Sorry, Rex, my vote doesn't seem to count either. Put me in the multiple times a day crowd.
Very easy but fun puzzle, just too bad that I'm done already.... Have to find something else to do, probably cooking related. There are an amazing amount of food stuffs and dishes mentioned in this puzzle! Roesti's are wonderful, also known as pommes Anna in the French cuisine. How about tongue? Eucharist? Dough? Leftover for Rover?

Bill from NJ 1:01 PM  

Started at 1A and swept out of the NW toward the SE. Had the theme at 22A in about 3 minutes and entered OREO as my last answer at the 22 minute mark.

After Friday and Saturday it was a relief to have an easy puzzle.

treedweller 1:08 PM  

Being the rebel I am, I tried to vote in Firefox on a PC and succeeded. I am not techie enough to explain why, but, as there are tons of addons and settings used by mozilla, I suspect we all could find a way to make it work if we were so inclined.

As for the puzzle, I did not find it as easy as others did, but certainly it didn't slow me down very much. Maybe I shouldn't have tried to work it after midnight . . .

My big surprise was JEANE Kirkpatrick. I couldn't quite place the name, then typed it in after I got the N, then removed it because nobody spells Jean/Jeanne that way, do they? (Google reveals that quite a few do. Go figure.)

I enjoyed it. Screw the breakfast test. I want more edgy cynicism in my puzzles!

imsdave1 1:14 PM  

@mac - hate to disagree, but roesti and pommes anna are two different things. Roesti are grated and pommes anna are thinly sliced. Roesti is fried and pommes anna are baked (with a tad of frying on the stove top to crisp up the bottom). Silly nit-picking, but pommes anna are my favorite potato dish (arteries hardening just thinking about them).

Bill from fl 1:18 PM  

treedweller: There, you said it! The breakfast test is a relic that needlessly limits the range material of puzzles. There should be reasonable bounds of taste, but the subject matter of puzzles should be as broad as any other part of the NYT.

Kim 1:32 PM  

Wondering what is says about me that the Jack the Ripper reference was breakfast table-worthy but NOT finding gum under a desk. Yuck!Now that's DIStasteful!

Next stop on this beautiful spring Sunday: PayPal

ArtLvr 1:44 PM  

Rex, I think you were right in saying the 90-D clue "preserves fruits" called for a verb! To be clearer it should have had an apostrophe, ID EST: preserves' fruits... I AAHED over that one. Easy puzzle though, even if i started out thinking I was gaining a day!

Also not sure why 29-A APRON is clued as "chiild protector?" - question mark? I mean why put in the child: is it protecting the child from a mess or you from the messy child? DIS-function.

I'm with mac on the power of suggestion: time to go cook something.


imsdave1 1:46 PM  

artlvr - It's Child (Julia)

Nothnagel 1:52 PM  

Simply put, I love Cathy Millhauser's puzzles. At the 2005 ACPT, she was the first constructor that I went up to and blathered about how much I looooved her puzzles.

Today's was no exception. Nice, smooth solving and a load of great theme entries. My personal favorite: DUCK AND DISCOVER, only because it echoed DUCKLING AND COVER, an entry I used in one of my Sunday puzzles.

There's a game waiting to be played right there: how many wacky phrases can you make by altering DUCK AND COVER? Your time


mac 1:55 PM  

@imsdave1: You are right about the differences in the recipes you mentioned, but I have learned to also slide my roesti into the oven for a while to really cook the inside and not end up with the opaque, semi-cooked consistency you would otherwise have. I even do this with potato pancakes, it really improves the texture of them.

Jim in NYC 1:56 PM  

Delightful theme, great puzzle. Wouldn't say "super easy," but I wouldn't disagree with "easy" either.

Here's one man's vote to retire "Abie's Irish Rose" (2D) from cluing forever. It may have been a big hit with big stars in 1928 or whenever, but the whole concept (mixed marriage) is thoroughly tired out by now and who would remember this play any more except veteran puzzlers.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

@chefbea 1

Welsh Rabbit was the original name for this cheese recipe (according to my dictionary "probably of jocular origin"). Later it started being called rarebit, but either is now accepted.

miriam b 2:08 PM  

@artlvr: Beg to disagree. The sense I got from the clue was "fruit for preserves".

QUINCEs are often made into jelly or into a concentrated paste (membrillo in Spanish, cotignac in French). Thus I'd accept a clue such as "Jelly fruit" or "Membrillo fruit". Wouldn't you clue APPLE as "Pie fruit?"

I agree about the puzzle's leading to kitchen activities. I'm planning to make bread today. During the risings, I'll occupy myself otherwise. Always too much to do around here.

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

The price we pay for intelligent conversation these days! :-) My city's NPR membership promotion ended yesterday. Happy to renew. And now my favorite blog needs my support as well. Happy to help! Thank you Rex, for your site and insight.

Michael 2:24 PM  

I am a firefox/pc user and had no trouble answering the survey.

I always enjoy Cathy Millhauser puzzles and just about always find them easy.

Joon 2:40 PM  

i, too, loved this puzzle, even though i sailed through it without a hitch. not my fastest sunday ever, but quite close.

a pair of entries i loved that nobody else has yet commented on: 14D [Continue]=KEEPON; 15D [Doing the same old same old]=INARUT. very nice flow there.

and while we're keepin' on, count me squarely in the pro-GODISFIGURE camp. that entry was high-larious. and my breakfast had absolutely no problem with it.

john 2:47 PM  

I agree the puzzle was certainly on the easy side. A quick solve but a fun one nonetheless. It's a good thing to see Cathy Millhauser's name on a puzzle again. She has made some faves in the past, but she's been rather quiet the past few years.

I also agree about Widmark. He just died in the last week or two (and within a few days of Jules Dassin, his director in a movie that has one of the greatest titles of all film noirs, "Night and the City"). I'm a little surprised UDO has not become a crossword staple (like EDA, YMA, EMO, etc.).

jannieb 3:04 PM  

Rex, appreciated your comment about the fill using so many rstln's and vowels. Guess that makes it a Wheel of Fortune puzzle rather than a scrabbly one.

ArtLvr 3:24 PM  

@ imsdave1 -- egads, JULIA CHILD'S APRON. Too funny, my missing that! Thanks...

@ miriam b -- re "pie fruit", the pie is a noun only, unless you count the slumber-party prank of pie-ing a bed (done with sheet folding, not apple). Ditto jelly, but you've got me on Membrillo (will try looking that up!) I just think an apostrophe would have been clearer, but then a clue isn't necessarily meant to be clear; more often the opposite, so I'll concede. As for QUINCE preserves, I tried mine once, but no luck -- I guess these are merely ornamental quince bushes and not bred for consumption of the fruit (they came with the house). I do have wonderfully edible berries of four types every year, plus rhubarb, so it's not too great a loss....


Orange 4:06 PM  

I was noodling around in Jim H's crossword database the other day and noticed that most of Cathy Millhauser's puzzles are Thursdays or Sundays. Although her Sunday puzzles aren't tough, apparently she doesn't care to make many Monday to Wednesday puzzles. This explains why I had so many Thursdayish times on the puzzles in her crossword book!

miriam b 5:35 PM  

Glad to make a donation, Rex. I wish it were not so modest. but as I've mentioned before, I'm a Gentlewoman in Reduced Circumstances. In another age, I'd probably have sought a position as a governess.

Bill from NJ 5:41 PM  


Funny, I got APRON from a different direction. I thought the clue referred to the lead apron used to protect an unborn child from an Xray.

Ellen 7:23 PM  

Puzzles are my business, so a Rex donation is actually tax-deductible for me.

I still find it amusing that people who have not won tournaments think puzzles are "too easy" while I don't. I forgot to time this one and had a phone call in the middle, so estimated it as 10-15 mins., which is far from the easiest ever. For recent Sunday-sized puzzles, that award goes to Newsday 3/16 at 4:11 (online Applet).

Kevin Der 8:11 PM  

An fairly enjoyable puzzle that took 50 minutes to do over brunch. DUCK AND DISCOVER was by far my favorite theme entry, that got a big laugh. Sadly ended up with two bad crossings, POTEN/OBLATE and NAGEL/PANG.

Kathy 10:20 PM  

MN, I like your idea....reminds me of a challenge posed by someone at work a few years ago--to use punctuation in sentences. For example:

He set upon the world at large and climbed the Mountain Misk

Wasn’t he the bravest man his little *.


He sent himself to brothel night, with pride, though rather poor

Without the needed coin in hand, he’s sure to _ .

That was a good week at work!


PuzzleGirl 10:58 PM  

So. Did you all hear the one about the serial killer who preyed on prostitutes in late 19th century London? Wait, it gets funnier. He killed the women either by strangling them or by cutting their throats and then he mutilated their bodies! Hold on, I'm laughing too hard here. With some of the victims all he did was mutilate their faces but -- get this! -- for others he actually removed some of their internal organs! Like a uterus, for example! Or a kidney! Hoo-boy! Funny stuff!!! I hope we can soon look forward to seeing Jeffrey Dahmer in our puzzle. Maybe some sort of play on the words necrophilia or cannibalism! Now THAT would be hilarious!

Anonymous 11:16 PM  

From yesterday or the day before, P.L. Travers wrote Mary Poppins.

mac 11:36 PM  

@puzzlegirl. I'm not sure why you are so upset, but I'm sorry you are. I think most of us don't want to see this gross stuff in the puzzle, but some of it is history, some of it is in the news, and fair game for the constructors.
Hope you are ok.

Justin 11:41 PM  

Great site, you should test your skills on the crosswords at I find them good fun.

Doug 11:58 PM  

Rostis are very popular in the US, but we call them McDonalds Hash Browns! A cunning translation.

Man, I got roasted by ANGORA which I had as ALPACA. I knew something was wrong, but didn't persevere. What can I say--It's hockey playoff season and I kept getting distracted.

Zach M. 12:18 AM  

Rex, when I saw that international date line clue, I could only think of you lecturing on "Rendezvous in Black" by Cornell Woolrich, and seething about how that random plot point ruined the back end of one of the greatest crime fiction novels ever. It was a fond memory.

My donation. You's has it.

G 3:03 AM  

You do, actually, have obscenely cute pets. Almost cute enough to get me to donate to your site, were I not slaving away in grad school with cute pets of my own to support.

Spencer 12:46 PM  

ROSTI are hash browns done right.

Anonymous 11:31 PM  

Rosti (ro-umlaut over the o, I believe-sti) done right have very little resemblance to hash browns (well maybe just a tad).

Anonymous 3:58 AM  

First, I read orange, then rex. Here I thought I was getting better. Now you tell me this was the easiest puzzle ever. Bummer!

puzzlegirl, I am in total agreement with you.

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

"one of the only head-turners in this whole puzzle"? is this American English for 'one of the few'?

Anonymous 7:57 PM  

I am not sure if anyone has noted yet but for 78A you said you thought of PARSEC but that is a unit of distance, not time.

Just in case, for future crosswording.


Jet City Gambler 6:25 PM  

I see "resulting in wacky phrases, which are then clued" so often on this site, it could even be an acronym (Rex-onym?)

Theme: Adding XXX to familiar expressions, RIWPWATC.

Andy C. 11:08 AM  

It's almost like Millhauser was making good on last week's awkward AHED and SUPT by throwing us AAHED (27A-Sounded wowed) and SUPER (Apartment 1-A resident, maybe)this week. I, for one, am 46-A she did this.

Anonymous 10:43 PM  

Am I the only one who never heard of "sussed" - meaning puzzled out?

Little Alfred 5:10 AM  

When you geniuses finish braggibg about how fast you worked this puzzle and complaining about how easy it was to solve, would you please explain 7 across? Thanks

PuzzleGirl 11:35 AM  

@little alfred: I'm actually not done bragging about how fast I worked this puzzle or complaining about how easy it was to solve, but I'll take a break to share this link with you. (Wikipedia is your friend.)

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