SUNDAY, Apr. 6, 2008 - Daniel C. Bryant (1910s-'20s DUTCH ART MOVEMENT)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Sound Moves" [or "Could You Reword That, Please?," if you're doing the puzzle in the NYT Magazine] - familiar phrases are rewritten to form wacky phrases that sound the same as the original phrases but mean something completely different. Wacky phrases are then clued, wackily.

April 6, my sister's birthday. Happy Birthday, Amy! You are scarily old to me now, which is sad, because you are (still!) several years younger than I am.

As for this puzzle: I had an error. That's what I have to say about this puzzle. Never heard of TAPPETS (28A: Motor levers) and SUPR seemed as good an abbreviation as any for "superintendent" (10D: Apt. overseer) so I had TAPPERS / SUPR. I never even considered the "T." Only other letter I was entertaining was "E." So ... that's not good. Flat out mistake. You hate to see that.

Otherwise, I thought the puzzle was just OK. I was not a huge fan of the theme - the wacky phrases were often insufficiently wacky to make the whole conceit work. I had to muck around a lot even to get CLAY MAN EXEMPTION, and things didn't improve much from there. I'm not sure how the title relates to the theme? "Sound Moves?" What sound is moving? Further, MOVING is in one of the theme answers, which threw me, as you usually don't see title words (or versions thereof) in the grid, especially in the theme answers. So ... I didn't think the puzzle was terrible. Just meh. My wife, however, may still be gnashing her teeth. I think I'd need two hands to count the number of times she said "I *really* don't like this theme" last night. Maybe she'll wake up feeling more charitable.

Theme answers:

  • 23A: Tax break for Gumby? (clay man exemption)
  • 35A: Blessing for a shipboard romance? (sea love approval)
  • 56A: Perhaps doesn't believe witty Rogers? (may doubt a Will) - this is the one that really got under my wife's skin, in a bad way ...
  • 76A: End-game maneuvers? (key pawn moving)
  • 92A: Excavate in the white cliffs? (mine Dover matter)
  • 110A: Drab Oriental fabric (gray toile of China)
  • 16D: Sketch sewing-kit stores? (draw pin centers) - what in the world is a DROP-IN CENTER? Seems to be a place that provides relief for the homeless, but I can't really tell clearly from a quick Google search.
  • 46D: Clown's parade memoir? (my laughter mile) - I think this one's my favorite.

Two words (excluding TAPPETS) completely threw me today. SIMNEL (17D: British fruitcake) and DE STIJL (104A: 1910s-'20s Dutch art movement). The first one, as a word, just looks horrible. What other words even look like that? SIMNEL? It's ugly to the point of repulsive. Sounds bad, looks bad. I checked the crosses a billion times before letting that one go (wife knew it, but she's Kiwi, and they just know some of that British @#$# without really knowing why). DE STIJL was unknown to me until I parsed it correctly (two words), but even then I couldn't have defined it for you. Turns out one of the movements exponents is Piet Mondrian, whose work is very familiar to me (and most of you, probably). Simplified composition, pure abstraction, primary colors (and black and white). I think I had a bedspread in the 80s that was reminiscent of DE STIJL.

The List:

  • 1A: Rocker Ocasek and others (Rics) - gimme. He's the monstrously tall and gaunt lead singer of The Cars.
  • 5A: Dwellers along the Dnieper River (Slavs) - "dwellers" ... that's like "denizens," i.e super crosswordy.
  • 10A: "A _____, petal and a thorn (Emily Dickinson poem) ("sepal") - this word's hard enough without its being buried in an Emily Dickinson poem. But since my sister wrote her senior thesis on Dickinson, and it is my sister's birthday, after all, I'll give this clue/answer my SEA LOVE APPROVAL.
  • 18A: 1969 self-titled jazz album (Ella) - one of the most common names in all crossword-dom. A beautiful name, nonetheless.
  • 19A: United We Stand America founder (Perot) - I knew this instantly. How is that possible?
  • 34A: Primitive wind instruments (pan pipes) - Damn, the plural! How did I miss the plural? I had PAN FLUTE here for a while. Oh Zamfir, why do you haunt me so?
  • 43A: Architect whose epitaph says "Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you" (Wren) - in St. Paul's cathedral, where Wren is buried.
  • 47A: World's longest wooden roller coaster, at Kings Island (The Beast) - noooo idea. It's a good name, though. I like it. And for some of you (... honey) it functions as a nice title for the puzzle.
  • 55A: Bridge writer Culbertson (Ely) - why must "Bridge writers" (a marginal field of endeavor if there ever was one) have such crossworthy names. GOREN? ELY? By the way, the song of the year for me, now, is "Eli's Comin'," as performed by Three Dog Night. Between the Super Bowl and the crossword, I've had that damned song in my head for Months. I can't even see the word ELI (and variants) without hearing the song in my head. "You better better hide your heart!"
  • 64A: "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer" poet (Keats) - gimme for all English majors. Take that, you pampered math/science types, with your ENOLS and TRIVALENTS and TORI and what not.
  • 65A: Tribe originally from the Deep South (Choctaw) - family lore had us with CHOCTAW ancestors on my mother's side, for a while. Until genealogical research by my mom proved it false. Now I forget which tribe it really was, so in my head - still CHOCTAW!
  • 75A: Enough to hold a lotta iPod tunes (gig) - "lotta," ouch. I guess that was the slang that was supposed to tip you to the slang of GIG (as in "GIGabyte").
  • 83A: Zero interest (no desire) - I keep reading this as NODE SIRE.
  • 85A: Choice marbles (taws) - whoa, haven't see this word in ages. AGATES and STEELIES I've seen recently. But TAWS has been absent for a while.
  • 88A: "Hands Across the Sea" composer (Sousa) - and you thought "Hands Across America" was a failure ...
  • 99A: "A Little Bitty Tear" singer, 1962 (Burl Ives) - When I see his name, I think ... Santa.
  • 103A: Current gauge (ammeter) - another word that just looks - wrong. It's desperately searching for a proper prefix. SPEEDOMETER and TACHOMETER are laughing at it.
  • 108A: Like many "Survivor" contestants (isled) - that's just horrible. "Oh no, don't ISLE me!"
  • 119A: Plant swelling (edema) - yes, plants get them too.
  • 120A: Communism battler, with "the" (West) - pretty elaborate clue for a simple word.
  • 8D: What people are saying, briefly (vox pop) - really? This is a legitimate phrase? "Yo, dude, what's the VOX POP?" That's like the nerdiest version of "The 411" I've ever seen. It's the Latin Club version of street slang.
  • 14D: Leader with a goatee (Lenin) - "Goatee" makes me think of Murray, the goateed band manager on the HBO show "Flight of the Conchords," which we are currently watching on DVD, and which I must insist you all see. It's about a two-man band from NZ trying (and failing, completely) to make it in the U.S. They have one fan. All attempts to explain this show will not do it justice. It is uncomfortably hilarious. No laff trak, thank god.
  • 25D: Prime minister raised in Milwaukee (Meir) - now there's an epitaph. Classy.
  • 37D: Expressed wonder (ahed) - the spelling on that is Killing me ...
  • 38D: Hops drier (oast) - one of my favorite little crossword words. Decapitated "toast."
  • 39D: "Apologia pro _____ Sua" ("vita") - John Henry Newman's defense of his faith against what he saw as an attack on Roman Catholic doctrine by Charles Kingsley. Also a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

The poet in his lone yet genial hour
Gives to his eyes a magnifying power:
Or rather he emancipates his eyes
From the black shapeless accidents of size--
In unctuous cones of kindling coal,
Or smoke upwreathing from the pipe's trim bole,
His gifted ken can see
Phantoms of sublimity.

  • 45D: Crooked (illegit) - again, it hurts. Had ILLEGAL, like every right-thinking person.
  • 48D: Twaddle (bosh) - BOSH is also an NBA star.
  • 53D: Toweling-off place (bath mat) - true enough. I like this answer a lot. Looks cool in the grid, and it's fairly unusual as 7-letter answers go.
  • 67D: Where private messages may be sent? (APOs) - Army Post Offices. Get it? "Private?" Uh huh. Yeah. Cheeky.
  • 76D: 1990-'91 war site (Kuwait) - took me an Embarrassingly long time. I had KOSOVO here at first.
  • 86D: "The House of the Spirits" author, 1982 (Allende) - thank god for her, because I was a little shaky down there in the SW.
  • 89D: _____ law (early legal code) (Salic) - don't why I know this. I just do. Wikipedia tells me this intersting fact ... oid:

The most well-known tenet of Salic law is agnatic succession, the rule excluding females from the inheritance of a throne or fief.

  • 97D: Figure skater Sokolova and others (Elenas) - I'm going to have to compile an "ELENAS of the World" list. They seem to be multiplying like flesh-eating bacteria.
  • 100D: Steakhouse shunner (vegan) - I don't eat meat, but I eat seafood (occasionally), so I could still go to a steakhouse and have a meal. But I don't. NODE SIRE. The Bloomin' Onion is a pleasure I'll just have to wait til the afterlife to experience. [Cue the choir of angels]:


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 8:35 AM  

I am a little shaky on my writers/authors, so it was a cruel cluing confluence when 2 persons unknown to me (or maybe known but unable to be brought to the surface) appeared crossing each other at 90A and 86D. I was guessing but the uncertainty threw me off. Otherwise, once I caught onto the theme with the "drab Oriental fabric," I was much happier.

arb 8:41 AM  

Rex: 47A: World's longest wooden roller coaster, at Kings Island (The Beast) - noooo idea. It's a good name, though. I like it.

And arguably the greatest wooden coaster ever built. Rode it almost 25 years ago, and never forgot it.

While CHOCTAW makes me think of a chewing tobacco-based candy bar. I'm gonna try hard to forget *that*. :-}

jannieb 8:56 AM  

Curiously, this puzzle must have two titles. When I brought it up on Across-LIte it was called "Could you Reword That, Please". Not that it gave me much help with the themed clues. Rex, I had the exact same error as you (tapper/supr) and no hint that it was wrong. And I was laughing out loud at the Latin Club street slang comment. Still makes me chuckle. I know what a drop-off center might be (think collection station for Good Will donations) but drop-in?? Nope, doesn't work for me. Totally agree with Simnel and De Stijl also. Never heard of either. I found too much of the fill easy, stale and boring to get much enjoyment out of this puzzle.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

I rode The Beast at Kings Island and it was my last wooden roller coaster ride - I egressed with a desperate need for a chiropractor. Liked this puzzle tho! And what's up with the multi-theme? Mine also read "Could You Reword That, Please?"

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

For me, TAPPETS was a gimme, having spent hours adjusting them with a FEELER GAUGE on my first car, a 1950s mini. I also installed an AMMETER, a by-gone analogue (Br. Sp.!)gauge found in most cars of that era to show the rate of battery charge or discharge.
The theme title in the IHT version of the puzzle was "Could you Reword That, Please". Didn't help much.
Rex, I read and enjoy your excellent blog daily. Keep it up.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

Tappet--now after way too many years I understand the name of the Car Talk guys--Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers. Never knew why they called themselves that.

miriam b 9:55 AM  

I hated ILLEGIT, but had no choice but to accede to it.

I knew TAPPETS even though I have no real interest in the innards of cars. I've been listening to Car Talk on PBS for years, partly for general information but mostly for entertainment. The wonderfully witty automotive experts at the helm are Tom and Ray Magliozzi, who bill themselves as Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers. Their legal team, they tell us, is the firm of Dewey, Cheatham and Howe. Their statistician is Marge Innovera - and so it goes.

I enjoyed the puzzle, especially after I'd figured out the theme.
Some character in an otherwise forgettable novel I once read presented another character with this series of words to parse:


I kinda liked that; but the constructor of this puzzle has gone a step beyond that in that his phrase makes sense in both "readings".

miriam b 10:00 AM  

Didn't mean to upstage you, Anonymous 9:38. That's a great show, isn't it?

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

Jannieb is the NYTimes Magazine version of this puzzle, the title is "Could you reword that please?" Makes a lot more sense than Smooth Moves! But didn't stop me from having 3 errors, including tappets (and I live in a building with a supt).

My husband is tearing his hair out over this right now...

MargaretR 10:09 AM  

I am thrilled to know what a tappet is, finally. Of course I could have looked it up but I thought that Click and Clack made it up! Gray Toile of China, the first theme answer that I got, is now permanently engraved on my brain, alas.

great puzzle!

ArtLvr 10:34 AM  

The title was "Sound Moves" in the Albany paper, not quite the same as 76-A KEY PAWN MOVING. It didn't help much, but the titles usually don't unless total give-aways!

I ended up without a google, which is good, but I had the same wrong tappers/supr as Rex, plus a slight mess at 110-A. I wanted Twill for ages even though the sound is wrong, finally saw TOILE as it had to be DE STIJL, etc.

The rest went fast, with slight hesitation in the SW as "demean" and "on hand/hand on" needed to be changed to DUMP ON and on HOLD/HOLD on...

MEIR and ELY were early gimmes, and one has to giggle at Rex's quip about the bridge column being a marginal field of endeavor, since some of us were fans of that field long before finding Rex's blog!

Favorite words: AVATAR, VOX POP, MERRIE and PANPIPES -- and DYED was amusing for "not natural". However, SIMNEL could stay deep-sixed in future...

Thank you for the poem (noting KEN there) -- ∑;)

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

I got stuck on illegal and never figured out it was illegit; guess I got too tired and went to bed. Also, although "TAPPETS" actually is familiar to me now that I see it, I had "SUPE" and "MUIR," completely missing the Golda Meir thing, which gave me TAPPUES, and I gave up.

Click and Clack's driver is Pikov Andropov. Their designated health center is Pickaboo I.C.U.

Ulrich 10:40 AM  

Count me among those who are left underwhelmed by the theme--had to pronounce several phrases several times to get the changed meaning. Had the same square wrong as Rex, but decided for the "e"--in retrospect, I have heard of tappets, but they didn't come to mind last night, perhaps b/c I wasn't really hooked by the whole thing to begin with.

As to Lenin--Here's another great collaborative men's room graffito I have seen (this one in the Hall where I had my office for 20 years): Lenin lives--and someone had crossed out Lenin and written underneath: Lennon, asshole!!

Finally, and here I'm probably stealing mac's thunder: The De Stijl movement was of immense influence for modern art and architecture--the Bauhaus (you probably have heard of it) would have been unthinkable without it--De Stijl artists produced some of the most significant icons of early modernism, like the red/blue chair depicted by Rex, which has been reproduced by generations of architecture students over the decades.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

Re: your question "what sound is moving?":

In "Clay Man Exemption" the "M" sound has moved from the "Claim" of "Claim An Exemption" to the "An."

In "Sea Love Approval" the "L" sound has moved from "Seal" to "Of" in "Seal Of Approval."

In "May Doubt A Will" the "D" sound has moved from "Made" to "Out" in "Made Out A Will."


No doubt, you noticed this. It is probably fair to call the device more than "letter moving," since spellings change and the wacky phrase certainly doesn't sound the same as the original (I'm a bit perplexed that you claim it does). That said, I found the theme pretty uninspiring and of absolutely no help in solving.

Rex Parker 10:55 AM  

But the "sound" doesn't change at all. That's the whole gimmick. The sound goes nowhere. Letters move, words change shape, sound ... stays put.


Ramsey 11:02 AM  

The phonemes are the same, but the juncture changes. Compare 'night rate' and 'nitrate'.

wendy 11:05 AM  

Flight of the Conchords is pure unadulterated endorphin-time. I adore them. Jemaine looks so much like a former paramour of mine it's uncanny. There's a ton of clips on youtube;
this is just one of many; check them out!

SteveB 11:06 AM  

Hey, who you calling "monstrously tall"? Several sources on Google say that Ric Ocasek is 6-4, which makes him ... an inch shorter than I am! On the other hand, I had always thought of Mick Fleetwood as monstrously tall, only to find that he is "only" 6-5. Oh, well...

Orange 11:09 AM  

Yes, what Ramsey said, only without the linguistically savvy vocabulary.

Rex, I was once lugged to a steakhouse when all my in-laws were in town. Do you know that while the lunch menu included maybe one fish and one chicken entree, the dinner menu was STEAK? Pick a size, any size, but you're having beef in some quantity. I was hangry already, so of course I burst into tears. The waiter checked with the kitchen and they found a piece of salmon (plucked from the trash, for all I know), and served me that. (Now, why didn't I just say, "Give me your biggest baked potato and a nice salad?" I don't know.)

kalisa 11:46 AM  

I agree the Drop In Centers is lame. I thought maybe they were referring to day cares?

Norm 11:49 AM  

Cute puzzle. Liked it a lot. Even "may doubt a will" brought a smile. Was stuck for the longest time at the end, when I wanted "gray twill of China" but it just wouldn't fit with the crosses -- and "toile" was the right sound after all.

Eli Barrieau 11:50 AM  

I agree one hundred percent with Flight of the Conchords. Last week, my students asked me to join in their "freestyling", so I literally jumped at them and said, "I'm the hiphopapotamus/ My lyrics are bottomless." then skulked away.

Rex, I thought you would've referenced Vox Pop by WAMC's program of the same name. I even hear it way out here in central Mass. There are some (unintentionally) hilarious topics.

Joaneee 11:52 AM  

Across Lite says "could you reword that please"; the timer thingie version says "sound moves". Whatever...I thought the apt. supt. was called The Super, which presented 3 possibilities, so I messed up on TAPPETS, and I didn't know SIMNEL. Still don't. Should have known tappets - have listened to Car Talk many times. Liked the theme, actually.

treedweller 11:54 AM  

Rex @ "conceit":
Intentional, typo, or Freudian slip?

I just returned from a weekend hiatus (I Am The Fifth Greatest Tree Climber In Texas!)where I missed the Fri and Sat puzzles, but I liked this one. It was one of those times when I thought I'd never get it done, but chipped away at it letter by letter until I finished. Alas, I had a mistake, and had to google to get that damjay in JETE, but I enjoyed finally getting the concept and then working out all the themes. Unfortunately for me, my first was DRAWPINCENTER, which I never quite got until much later.

bill from fl 11:59 AM  

I started this one, moving fairly easily. I got TAPPET, because the Car Guys (at least one of whom is a crossword fan) nickname themselves the Tappet Brothers.

But I guessed wrong on SIMNEL, because it crossed with ERIS, which I also didn't know. I finally looked up de Stiljl, the realized I had seen it before. Argh!

nollie 12:09 PM  

As always, thanks for the good writing, Rex. And especially, thanks for the Coleridge.

Noam D. Elkies 12:20 PM  

When was the last time a Sunday puzzle took less time to complete than the same week's Thursday?... (There was a chance with Friday and Saturday too, but not for me this time.) Yeah, a "meh" theme -- it would have been much nicer to have homophones that have no word in common with the original phrase.

Not being an English major, all I could say for 64A (working from the S) is "either KEATS or YEATS -- fill in the EATS and see what the crosses say..." But 89D:SALIC Law I did know, and thought that it would be an even gimmier clue for English Lit types because of that speech at the start of Henry V, which is said to be the longest soliloquy in Shakespeare (and is why "agnatic succession" is the Law's best-known tenet).

Also knew of 103A:AMMETER ("am-" is not a prefix here but short for "ampere"; goes with 13D:ANODAL) and 104A:DESTIJL (though at first I couldn't believe the -JL ending from 106D and 107D). 28A:TAPPETS rang a very distant bell, just enough to avoid Rex's error. 17D:SIMNEL meant about as much to me as 1A:RIC Ocasek, i.e. nada. Since I didn't know that, I came to the NW corner from below, so for 24D "Same here" I first had ??T?O and first put in DITTO. Only then noticed that this would yield ...LTV... in 35A, so corrected to METOO.

Apropos the bridge clue for 55A:ELY (also a famous English cathedral), it feels like we haven't seen the once-pantheonic TAL (onetime world champion of chess) in ages now. It would have fit with 76A:KEYPAWNMOVING...

Is 26A:JAMA really well enough known (or fairly enough guessable) for a non-Saturday puzzle? It shows up regularly in science stories, but not everybody reads those.


ArtLvr 12:22 PM  

Our local Borders bookstore had a drop-in corner where one could lounge and browse with a coffee or tea, but it's been dropped...


Joon 12:25 PM  

i didn't mind the theme (except for DRAWPINCENTERS--that couldn't have been DRAWPINANYTIME?), and many of the apparent "obscurities" were welcome sights to me (ELY culbertson, SALIC law, and DESTIJL among them), but i made the same error as rex on TAPPERS/SUPR. in retrospect, i should have known it, having listened to car talk enough times, but my first thought was SUPR, noticed that the car part was TAPPERS, which seemed okay, and moved on.

SEPAL is a nice word. never heard of the poem, but i knew the flower part. SIMNEL ... not so much. ILLEGIT is awkward but probably okay. (probably only hip-hop artists use it, though, so a slangier clue would have been welcome.)

and rex, you mock us, but much has this science/math type has traveled in the realms of gold (though perhaps not as much as you have). as long as the literature clues in xwords are actually about famous authors, works, and characters, we'll be okay. (if they start asking about the new criticism or wacky po-mo interpretation, we'll be less okay.)

Joon 12:27 PM  

noam, the crosswordese AMA is often clued [Org. with a well-known journal] or somesuch. so it's only fair that JAMA has its day in the sun.

Rex Parker 12:33 PM  

THIS is the first thing I ever heard by the Flight of the Conchords. I had no idea what I was listening to (tuned in in middle of NPR interview) and practically crashed my car from surprise / laughter. Please also watch this, which is pure brilliance. You must watch the whole thing, or at least as far as the "Binary Solo."


Rex Parker 12:41 PM  

@SteveB - I'm 6'3", so I probably shouldn't talk (about Ric O). Maybe "monstrously gaunt" would have been better. Or "monstrously coiffed."


ArtLvr 12:41 PM  

@ Ulrich -- how should we pronounce DE STIJL? Dee, day, deh? Steel, still, schtile?

Rex Parker 12:54 PM  


I don't mock. Or rather, I do mock, but I mostly envy.

I get my math / science like many kids get their smoke, i.e. second-hand (best friend = mathematician / cellist, so knowing him has helped with my blind spots, a bit). Though, to be fair to myself, I did win the Physics I prize in college.


Ulrich 1:04 PM  

@artlvr: mac would be the expert, but she may not be in today. So, to the best of my knowledge, the "ij" in "stijl" is a diphthong pronounced like the "ay" in English "may", not like the "y" in "style" (which it means), and the "e" in "de" is short. "De Stijl" means "the style".

Ladel 1:08 PM  


"This" was delightful, I'm 64 and it's not my music but I still appreciate the talent and thought that went into making it.

As for tappets, a gimme for an old gear head. They were replaced years ago by hydraulic lifters which are silent but use up a bit of power. Tappets are still seen, but usually only in performance cars, and they require periodic adjusting, the "lifters" do not.

Damon G. 1:19 PM  

Though it was completely absurd, I kinda dug the theme to this one.

De Stijl is also an early "White Stripes" album. I loved to see it cross with jete. Ever since I learned that word, whenever I come across Derek Jeter's name I think of a French pronunciation. Derek Jeter, the graceful, leaping shortstop.

PhillySolver 1:21 PM  

I did some work in The Netherlands and loved the people. Their language, however, was a complete mystery to me and sounded guttural in a way I couldn't figure out. Because they are almost all trilingual (or more) our meetings were in English for my sake. Once I stood up to speak, but had a catch and cleared my throat a few times and they applauded me for learning to speak in Dutch. (just kidding).

I liked the puzzle and avoided the errors I had through a final check as I wrote elsewhere. The oronyms (homophonic phrases) were mostly new to me. I think I read that the bloomin' onion dish is one of the most unhealthful things served in America...calories and fat off of the charts...enjoy.

Kim 1:21 PM  

Ok crossword puzzles are definitely skewed towards english majors so I must politely disagree with the "pampered" math/science types.

Furthermore, if you teach English you are definitely pampered as you don't have to worry (as science teachers do)about students setting themselves on fire during bunsen burner labs or absconding with dangerous chemicals - but I will concede that you have to grade some egregiously written essays!

I also feel that I have to stand up in defense of bridge players as I find it a fine social and intellectual pursuit.

As you might surmise this math/science type bridge player is feeling DUMPED ON but since I almost died laughing watching the "Humans are Dead" video I am going to let it all go - I love your blog too much to quibble over side comments (even though that is just what I did!)

imsdave 2:11 PM  

Very bad puzzle for me in the NY Times today. Didn't get the theme until I was 2 thirds done with the damn thing (MINEDOVERMATTER). I guess that's fair, as Thursday and Friday were so friendly. SIMNEL should just totally be disallowed as a clue, forever, period. The cross, JAMA, I intuited but didn't know. Thought it was the Journal of American Medicine. Must be Journal of American Medicine Association I guess. SIMNEL???? ILLEGIT seems a bit stilted to me, as does BOSH (thank God I've been to King's Island, and ridden the Beast) - POSH hits my ear better. DE STIJL? - comes up in conversation at least once a week -please. Liked all the theme clues once I got it, except DRAWPINCENTERS - doesn't scan at all. Ah well, an hour and a half wasted and I feel like I was stretched a bit, never a bad thing.

FYI, my spell checker cringed at simnel, illegit, jama, and stijl.

Rex, sory to hear about the semi-vegan thing - leaves spiedie's out of the equation, but I'm sure we'll find a restaurant to accomodate both of our tastes this summer.

chefbea1 2:21 PM  

Rex - I have a bloomin' onion cutter. Have made them with different sauces.yummmm.
And on another subject - wasn't Gumby a green rubbery guy? Maybe someone else mentioned this, I havent read the comments yet

kim 2:23 PM  

IMO, gray toile of China made the entire journey worth it.

imsdave 2:31 PM  

Gumby was a green rubbery guy - Rex posted a Mr. Bill from the early SNL's. I remember Gumby who came on Sunday mornings after Davy(ie?) and Goliath (anyone else?)

JC66 2:38 PM  

Gumby (the toy) was a green rubbery guy.

Gumby (the cartoon) was done in CLAYMATION.

I'm was't familiar with TAPPET, but living in NYC made SUPT a gimme.

ronathan 2:51 PM  

Can someone explain 117A "Born abroad" (NEE) to me? This is the only clue that I didn't know which has not yet been talked about here.


-ronathan :-)

imsdave 2:55 PM  

NEE is french for born - we use it to indicate a maiden name

Michael 2:56 PM  

I did not enjoy this puzzle, finding the theme lame, making the same mistake Rex did (though I am glad to finally know why the Car Talk guys are the Tappet brothers), and a few answers that seemed too obscure for a Sunday (tappet, simnel, destijl). Maybe I'm just grouchy because I had three or four mistakes.

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

OK, I was hoping someone would spare me from having to expose my denseness: what's the deal with MUG HUMP LEMON STEW DASH HALF?

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

Never mind, I got it just at the instant I was pressing "publish."

Anonymous 3:02 PM  


You saved the day again. I struggled to complete the puzzle without Googling. I finally did it but when I checked here I realized that I made the same mistake as you: tappers instead of tappets. As it was my one eror I had never heard of it or the tappet brothers and was in good company, I felt better. My rule is: if Rex has the same errors in his final puzzle they count as correct answers and this way I had none wrong. Thanks.

As to Drop-In center, I volunteered at a Teen-ager drop-in-center. It's called that as it is a place for teens to drop-in at any time. Basically a safe place to hang out , play games , get counseling and a GED for drop-outs. A Drop-in for Drop-outs, I like that.


jae 3:32 PM  

I felt pretty much the same way Rex did about this one, and I also made the TAPPERS error (I've never seen car talk but have heard of Click and Clack). I did this last night while babysitting the grandkids and taking them to IHOP for dinner. The best part of the puzzle for me was when I was almost finished in SE and my 9 year old granddaughter looked over my shoulder, saw that I was almost done, and asked if she could help. I said do you know what a "Leap on stage" might be from your ballet class? She answered "well there is a grande jete that's a leap." I thanked her profusely, put the "J" in the square and finished the puzzle with one error instead of two.

PuzzleGirl 3:34 PM  

Didn't love it, didn't hate it. I had two wrong letters, but feel like I'm in pretty good company.

I think of a drop-in center as the kind of place Profphil described. I think maybe it was a 1970s kind of thing.

The KEY PAWN MOVING answer made me think of the Brady Bunch. It's not much of a stretch these days because my daughter's dance class is using "Sunshine Day" for their recital music this year. ("I think I'll go for a walk outside now ....")

One of the Hawkeye wrestlers, Mark Perry, is nicknamed Gumby because of his unbelievable flexibility.

Bill from fl 3:38 PM  

As for NEE, I told my wife that the clue was "born abroad," and she heard me say "born a broad." She thought was pretty sexist for the NYT.

Sandy 4:01 PM  

Did no one else think the Grey Towel of China was as good an answer as any thing else to 110A? It totally messed up my Louisiana section.

william e emba 4:03 PM  

Some of us math/science types not only thought the KEATS clue was a gimme, some of us still remember Chapman's Homer after having memorized it more than 30 years ago.

On the other hand, I never heard of the RIC fellow.

imsdave 4:21 PM  

@bill from fl - I wouldn't even go there with my wife - her response would be "that's not funny" - I thought your comment was hysterical, by the way.

Norm 5:01 PM  

One of the neat things about reading this blog is that you get to learn new stuff. (Of course, you have to watch out for Orange pulling a fast one.) Phillysolver, I had never heard of an "oronym" and I think it is so cool that there is actually a word for a homophonic phrase. Thanks.

Big Lefty 5:36 PM  

Great write-up, Rex.

I had illicit which fits perfectly fine for most of the letters, and is much more sensible than illegit. Illegit is as best slang; at worst, it is not a word. "Ahed" I don't like at all. When she said that to me, I ahed." Yuck. Better to add an h as in "ahhed" which still looks weird but to me is more understandable.

Voxpop, another yuck, as were simnel and isled. Verbification of a decent noun, I call the last one. Doesn't help the English language. Nor does the making of nouns out of verbs, such as "Thanks for the invite." Invite is a verb, or was. I'm starting to sound like Strunk & White here. Enough. Overall a puzzle I didn't like much but I stuck with it.

mac 5:37 PM  

Sorry I'm late, but Ulrich, you may steal my thunder any time! De Stijl is pronounced duh (or like the French de, and Stijl actually sounds much like stile or style. There is no exact sound like the Dutch ij or ei in English.

Leon 5:47 PM  

Oronyms, Thanks Phillysolver.

Mondegreens came to mind but these answers were intentional.

Add me to GREATTWILLOFCHINA. I knew it was wrong but TOILE with the wall pronounced wasn't there for me.

Frances 5:50 PM  

SIMNEL shows up only once in the Cruciverb database--used by Patrick Berry in a 2001 WSJ puzzle and clued as "a British Easter cake." The Simnel back story is a lot more fun than its use in the puzzle. Seems Lambert Simnel was a child put forth as a pretender to the throne of Henry VII. The conspirators were roundly defeated and Henry executed the adults but pardoned young Lambert and put him to work in the royal kitchens. Here, legend has it, he invented the eponymous cake, which is a light fruitcake layered and topped with marzipan.

mac 5:55 PM  

And now I've finally read all the comments. Both the blog and these are my daily entertainment. I'll be checking out Rex's recommendations on the show he mentioned later.
Don't give simnel cake such a hard time: it's a traditional easter cake with iced almond paste balls on top, usually yellow, and decorated with little chicks and chocolate easter eggs, some in their colorful foil.
I enjoy the NPR car show almost every Saturday morning, but never properly heard this "Tappet" brothers. Now I know.
I've only known the term Super for the guy in charge of the building.
Never heard of ammeter, had amperes filled in so I guess I went the right direction.
The chair Rex showed in the blog was designed by Rietveld, and I'm pretty sure MOMA owns a version. The main art school in Holland is called the Rietveld Academie.
All in all I found it a doable but not really wonderful puzzle. Thanks for the poem, Rex, and please stay away from the bloomin' onions, I think they are considered one of the unhealthiest dishes around, and about 1200 calories!

Orange 6:06 PM  

Big Lefty: Merriam-Webster has isle as a verb dating back to 1576. Perhaps it's more a matter of an archaic usage rather than a modern verbification of a noun? I don't have OED access so I don't know.

Jim in NYC 7:00 PM  

I can parse CHO PHO USE, but MUG HUMP LEMON STEW DASH HALF is a mystery.

(Sorry if it's been answered above before all the more recent wisdom.)

DROP-IN CENTERS are pretty common I think. A place for people with various problems to hang out when they need to.

I believe VOX POP was one of the fictional TV shows in the movie "Network."

Jim in NYC 7:11 PM  

I'm getting Blogger randomly flipping up to the top comment when I'm trying to scroll down or click down. Very annoying as Rex's popularity grows. Any ideas what's happening?

PhillySolver 7:27 PM  

@ jim in nyc

When there are this many comments, I read the first one and then click on the gray or orange icon by the name. That hides the comment until you click on the icon again. All of the comments fit on one page and I never have to scroll that way.

Anonymous 7:40 PM  

"My compliments to the chef."

Tom in Iowa 9:04 PM  

Many years ago I rebuilt my old volkswagen bug using that remarkable paper back book "How to keep your volkswagen alive..." A guide for the complete idiot.
Tappet was thus a gimmee.

I wanted ERoS for ERIS. My wife explained this was an understandable error.
In eventually got SOUSA but I had misspelled VISE as VIsE so that held me up. I must have been too focused on eros.
If 119A had been clued just "swelling" it would have been easy for me. Addition of "plant" to the clue made it seem like it had to be something other than EDEMA.

mac 10:40 PM  

P.S. It's my sister's birthday, too! Her name is Anneke and she lives in Oregon.

Anonymous 11:09 PM  

YES, I remember the TV show "Davey and Goliath"! Davey was the claymation version of Beaver Cleaver and Goliath was his big goofy dog who could always be depended on to dispense great wisdom by tilting his head quizzically and saying, "Gee, Davey"...... (insert moral suggestion here..... ex.,... "maybe you shouldn't have punched your little sister in the nose"). Seems to me there was always a sponsorship message at the end from.... The Presbyterian Church of America? Back then, there were only four TV channels. I think D&G must have been on PBS? THANKS for a blast from the past -- my very favorite show back then...

Jim in NYC 11:13 PM  

Thanks, JudgePhilly. I'll do that (compress the comments). Tho I still don't know why I'm sometimes randomly flying up to the top comment.

Where did these computer guys get the idea they never have to provide instructions for anything?

Joe 12:56 PM  

I too had GREAT TWILL OF CHINA. Since I had PLIE for JETE I got stuck on the L and thought the answer might be ALTE meaning (somehow) 'high'. Then 93D wouldn't fit so I knew I had to come here.

Anonymous 10:57 PM  

Jim in NYC: You are right about drop-in centers. Very common for those of us who work with homeless and runaway youth, for example.

Barb in Chicago

Catherine K 2:59 AM  

Rex, you slay me. I laughed out loud at several of your comments, especially at the end when you used NO SIRED for "No sir!".

I adore the Flight of the Conchordes. Their songs are brilliant takeoffs of so many famous singers like David Bowie and Donovan Leitch ("I'm the pretty prince of parties"). You're right though; they cannot be explained.

I could not finish this puzzle. Maybe it's because I just got back from a week in Mexico, and my brain is mush, and I tried to do all the crosswords I missed in one day.

Samuel 8:47 AM  

Not sure if anyone will read this, as I'm posting 4 days after the puzzle, but I have to say that the clue about Lenin was just wrong. A goatee is a type of beard that has no mustache. Technically, Lenin had what is now known as a Balbo, but could also be referred to as a Van Dyke. He did not have a goatee.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

It takes more brain power to play bridge than to do a crossword! Sorry to say, Rex, you don't know what you're talking about...not only on this subject, but many others. Keep your opinions to yourself on topics about which you are ill informed, and you will appear to be much brighter!

PuzzleGirl 11:47 AM  

Did Rex say something about the amount of brain power it takes to play bridge as opposed to doing a crossword puzzle? How did I miss that??? Oh wait, he didn't. Huh.

Rex Parker 11:47 AM  

Wow, you have to try Really hard to be offended by my bridge comments, which I'll quote verbatim here:

55A: Bridge writer Culbertson (Ely) - why must "Bridge writers" (a marginal field of endeavor if there ever was one) have such crossworthy names. GOREN? ELY?

Nothing about how hard bridge is ... nothing about anything except that "Bridge writer" (not "player") seems a "marginal field of endeavor." Cosmically, that has to be true. No more so than it is for "Crossword writer," I suppose, but then again, you don't see my name in the puzzle. Why in the world would that comment unleash such ad hominem vitriol? Weird. Sorry I hit a nerve.


Anonymous 1:28 PM  

'Drop-In Centres'- I'm in Canada and this is a fairly common expression. Mom 'n Tots Drop In programs, Ladies' Exercise Drop-In, to name a couple. Didn't know 'Des Tijl' Thanks for that.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

Just finished the April 6 Sunday puzzle and this constructor should eat dirt. First I was frustrated, then annoyed, then downright irritated. Gift me a Brake

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

Some of the answers made me feel like I AM SOFA KING WE TODD DID. ...Or maybe it was the puzzle's author.

Bob 5:00 AM  

I wish Anonymous at 3:01 p.m. had shared his/her insight as to the meaning of "MUG HUMP LEMON STEW DASH HALF." I'm still stuck. But then, again, it's very, very late at night...maybe in the morning (early afternoon).

cody.riggs 11:59 AM  

{my compliments to the chef}

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

It always amazes me how everyone has problems with things like TAPPETS and
SUPT (which I thought were routine) yet no one has mentioned 87 - End of Some = GOV. That one is still a mystery to me and what does ETDS have to do with Terminal figs? Oh well - chacun son gout.

Anonymous 3:23 PM  

Follow-up; I guess ETDS must be estimated times of departure but GOV is just not coming to me.

PuzzleGirl 3:23 PM  

@anonymous 3:15: The clue for 87A is "End of some 82-Acrosses," and the answer to 82A is URL. The most popular endings (I believe) for URLs are com, org, edu, and gov.

ETD = estimated time of departure (terminal referring to an air terminal). ETD and ETA (estimated time of arrival) are frequently found in puzzles.

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

Thanks puzzlegirl - I guess I didn't notice the rest of the clue and the paper has been thrown out. The 82-Acrosses part must have looked like the clue for another word and didn't register in my feeble brain. All I saw was "End of Some" and it made no sense. Maybe the newspaper misprinted it thinking that the rest made no sense.

kidmaestro2010 6:22 AM  

I had "I DONT appreciate ..." until just this moment, and was trying to decide between GREAT STYLE OF CHINA or GREAT STOLE OF CHINA. Never had a clue what DE STIJL might have been. And while I know that if you're paying in instalments you'd better make those payments ON TIME, I didn't feel that was a strong enough connection to fill it in. Found TAPPETS in my dictionary and let SUPT go, no matter how much I wanted it to be SUPER which never fit anyway.

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