WEDNESDAY, Jul. 23, 2008 - Henry Quillen (CHILD IN A 1980s CUSTODY CASE / ONETIME "CONCENTRATION" HOST JACK)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

[IMPORTANT NOTICE: THE PUZZLE FEATURED IN THIS BLOG ENTRY MAY NOT BE THE ONE FEATURED IN YOUR PAPER - read the opening paragraph of the write-up (the part in italics) for an explanation]

Relative difficulty: Easy / Challenging (The West!?!?)

THEME: A to Z to A (39A: Theme of this puzzle) - zigzagging pattern of circled squares form words that begin with "Z" and end with "A," then begin with "A" and end with "Z" - and so on. Two such interlocking patterns stretch from corner to corner, intersecting at a "Z" in the puzzle's dead center


The following correction appeared in today's paper:

Crossword Puzzle

Because of a production error, some copies of Wednesday’s paper contain an outdated crossword puzzle and its solution. If you look here first, proceed with caution. If the answer in the solution to one across also appears in the puzzle above it, you have a paper with the wrong crossword. If the solution to one across matches Tuesday’s puzzle, you’re in the clear, and on your own.

The outdated puzzle appears to be this one from last June. I assume they'll print both puzzles tomorrow or something, or subscribers can complete the puzzle online or download it in Across Lite format on the Times' puzzle page.


Great great concept. Really marvelous. But WTF is up with the far west. BABY who??? Man, if only I'd known MUNICH (46A: Birthplace of composer Richard Strauss). Had the -ICH and wrote in ZURICH, which OH, YOU only confirmed (27D: "What a kidder!"). The whole Western patch felt like a fragile cake, about to fall apart at any second; it still looks that way to me, with many awfully tenuous answers. YOU in OH, YOU intersecting YOU in YOU'LL (42A: "_____ regret it!"_)?? AHH (34A: "That feels great") and BYE (38A: Free pass, of sorts) one atop the other?? AHH and OH, YOU and YOU'LL all have quotation mark clues - all clued as expressions. And then there's the too-cute THE U.N. (28D: N.Y.C. country club?). After ZURICH, I had THE U.R., which is meaningless, but the only thing I could think to put there was "S" - i.e. THE U.S. - that's the country where NYC is... right? I should have turned up U.N. but didn't. So I utterly failed at this puzzle, after totally torching the rest of it. Oh, well, OH YOU, AH, ME, etc. Lastly, let me iterate: BABY who? (26D: Child in a 1980s custody case)

Theme answers:

  • 1A: Coors product (Zima) - started with BEER (something someone might actually drink). Fixed it fairly quickly thereafter. I think that corner may be the second hardest section in the puzzle.
  • 4D: Ingrediente en paella (arroz) - had ARROS, remembering ARROZ Con Pollo but not how to spell it. This made me want something like SERTA for the next theme answer...
  • 23A: Keebler cracker brand (Zesta) - eat ZESTA with Perle MESTA then sleep on SERTA.
  • 24D: Flagstaff's place (Arizona)
  • 52A: Madison Ave. trade (ad biz) - again, must plug "Mad Men"



  • 53D: Ethan Frome's wife (Zeena) - really? OK.
  • 70A: Animated film hit of 1998 (Antz)
  • 58A: Ball's comic partner (Arnaz)
  • 39D: The Rock (Alcatraz) - The Rock is also a movie. And a wrestler.
  • 9D: Cubic _____ (gem) (zirconia)
  • 9A: Frank in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Zappa)

Great long answers transect this puzzle's midsection. Especially like WENT TO POT (6D: Deteriorated) and OIL BARON (40D: Getty or Rockefeller). Would have liked STRIDENCE (36D: Harsh quality) better if it had been STRIDENCY, which sounds more like a word, but it'll do. Scariest moment (besides my total derailment in the west) was in the SE, where HENRIETTA (63A: Queen _____ Maria, mother of England's Charles II and James II) ran smack into the impossible-seeming NARZ (61D: Onetime "Concentration" host Jack). Almost had to rename "The NATICK Principle" "The NARZ Principle," but "A" was the only really reasonable guess there. "E" is a close second. Had never heard of (or barely heard of) LINEAR A (43D: Ancient Cretan writing system), but I pieced it together. Crosses were reasonably fair.

I would like to use my favorite part of the West - BOT (26A: Sci-fi sidekick, maybe) - to talk about the local Quiz Night we went to last night with my in-laws. It was the most ... local ... thing I've been to in a long time. Possibly ever. Took place in the Lake Hawea community center, in the main room, where there was a roaring fire and we were looked down on by giant placards displaying the names of Lake Hawea Men's and Ladies' Lawn Bowling Champions, past and present. The Quiz Night featured a raffle (every team of 4 paid $20 and brought a wrapped gift for the raffle - when one of our tickets was drawn and my wife went up to get a gift, Nick (husband of wife's stepmom, not wife's dad ... long story) shouted "grab something shaped like a bottle" (hoping to score some wine, which we did). Anyway, there were about a dozen teams in the room and there were seven rounds of questions and sometimes it paid to be an American ("What was Dirty Harry's last name?") and sometimes it did Not ("What are the names of Hairy Maclary's dog friends in 'Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Diary?'"; "What is the current height (depth?) of Lake Hawea"?). There was an entire set of questions straight out of the 1954 Edmonds Cookbook (a NZ classic) ... there was a parsley sauce controversy ... Anzac biscuits ... it's all a blur. Who was the only athlete at the 1976 Olympic games not to be given a sex test? Hint: it's not Nadia Comaneci. Answer: Princess Anne. It was only after we returned home that I was informed that the answer was the Actual Princess Anne and not a horse of the same name. Seven rounds, this quiz was. Oh, the connection to BOT. Well, it's a "Star Wars" connection, at any rate - one of the questions was "What sort of creature is Chewbacca in the 'Star Wars' movies?" - only the questioner pronounced "Chewbacca" with the accent on the first syllable, making it sound a bit like "Chupacabra." After I translated, I got it instantly. I couldn't begin to recreate for you how she pronounced "Wookie." The whole event was fun. Very fun. There was an auction at the end of the night. We came in third and would have won if a. anyone had listened to me that MEDICINE was one of the categories of prizes awarded by Nobel, b. we hadn't changed our Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion answer to accommodate my overly certain mother-in-law, c. I hadn't overridden myself on the location of the ruins of Carthage - I blurted out (to my teammates) "Tunisia" (right answer), but then changed it to "Libya" (wrong). They screwed up and robbed me of my fantastic correct answer to "What was the name of Tarzan's chimp?"; I got CHEETA, but they said it was something like Nikima. So ... third place. There were huge beers all around and tea and various cakes. Most of the money raised - all, in fact - went to some charity or other. By the end, I just wanted one more round so we could pass those smug bastards sitting next to us who were clearly stealing our answers.

Rest:

  • 5A: N.Y.C. theater area (B'way) - semi-tricky
  • 15A: Surrealist Magritte (René) - ceci n'est pas un crossword blog
  • 16A: Apple instant-messaging program (iChat) - I love that there is almost no part of that clue that would have made any sense to anyone 30 years ago.
  • 17A: Lovers of fine fare (gourmands) - GOURMANDS should come here, where the native cuisine is startling fresh and tasty.
  • 21A: Madden, and how (incense) - wanted JOHN
  • 25A: Aurora's Greek counterpart (Eos) - you should know this instinctively by now, really.
  • 29A: Restaurateur Toots (Shor) - one of the greatest names in xwordpuzzledom.
  • 35A: Honeybee genus (apis) - thank you, Virgil
  • 51A: Highlands refusal ("Nae!") - I do love the Scotticisms, Och!
  • 65A: Stiller's comic partner (Meara) - love her; I'd put her in every puzzle if I could
  • 1D: Goes this way before that (zigs) - love that this sets off the zig-zag pattern without actually being a part of it
  • 5D: Military bigwig (brass hat) - kind of a dumb phrase. I guess if your wig is big, then it needs a brass hat to protect it.
  • 10D: Truman's last secretary of state (Acheson) - NO idea, even though I'm nearly certainly he's been in my puzzle before
  • 11D: Unit of loudness (phon) - whoa ... really? First I've heard of it.
  • 22D: Three R's org. (NEA) - Do they really use the phrase or concept "Three R's" anymore. If so, they should be disbanded.
  • 31D: Cubs, but not Bears, for short (NL'ers) - icky answer, but nice clue
  • 32D: When said three times, "et cetera" ("yadda") - to appease the "Seinfeld" fans out there. "Remember that episode when Elaine..." No. No I don't.
  • 33D: Ol' Blue Eyes classic ("My Way") - Here you go:



  • 47D: Part of a bray (hee) - the other part: HAW
  • 49D: "Of course, senor!" ("Si si!") - I'm growing fond of this sycophantic Spanish-type answer
  • 55D: German river to the Fulda (Eder) - perhaps for the first time ever, I nailed this answer. Had the -ER, went to type YSER (instinctively), then checked myself and went with EDER. Take that, Germany. (but then MUNICH came back and bit me ... so much for defeating Germania).
  • 59D: 9-mm. gun of W. W. II (Sten) - like EOS, something you should Just Know (if you want to ace the crossword, that is)
  • 64D: Schubert's "The _____-King" (Erl) - Take it away, Ulrich.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS somebody else will be doing tomorrow's write-up. I should be good for the weekend.


89 comments:

Anonymous 12:08 AM  

This was quite a difficult puzzle! It had so many obscure clues... Hump Day wasn't kind to me.

Wade 12:21 AM  

Damn, you're fast.

We have all (or a hell of a lot anyway) of the Hairy McClary books, so I'd have been a good addition to your quiz team in that respect. You'll have to remember to take me to NZ with you next time you go. (Just now booked my tickets to Scotland to the tune of almost $2K, just for me, not counting all the other people who live in this house. Someday I'll need to get a job, I guess. This board has never paid me a cent.)

This puzzle no me gusta. I never could get the applet to take it, and though I thought I'd identified up to three possible culprits, all vowels in their early to mid twenties (RHINE/RHONE; ARNEZ/ARNAZ; GLYN[?!]/GLEN), it turned out to be that damn Z in NARZ. I know, the theme should have clued me in, but who the hell spells "ants" with a Z? What in hell does that possibly gain a person? I got used to the Suzans and Gennifers and other people whose moronic parents think giving their children misspelled names will somehow ensure that the kid grows up to be unique, but in a movie title? Never mind. It's my fault, I know.

Still. I really didn't like this puzzle at all. Natick does need to be renamed Nars, though, due to the staggering number of violations (ZIGS/ITAR. That's another one.) The abbreviations are atrocious. EDW? You can't do that. You just can't.

Anonymous 12:58 AM  

I found it tough going but was able to finish without Googling but it took me 30 minutes. Almost gave up on Narz and Zeena because 67 across did not come to me even after having the ea, the crosses were no help either.

Had Minoan B then A before I got Linear A. Remembered all these terms from a Greek archeology course I took in college but could not remeber which was which. Or was it Mycenean B?

Profphil

male chicken 1:11 AM  

Oh dear. I'm supposed to be used to Wednesdays. There was so much I didn't know here.

I get particularly messed up by US brand names and sports locations (being a Brit) - luckily I know to ram NLers in nowadays even though I still have no idea what it is. The only way I made it through was by leaning on the theme but Arnaz, Zima, Zesta and Zeena were full-on lucky guesses.

Am I supposed to know Henrietta? I'd like to know answers that are about the UK, rather than have no idea (to make up for all the bears and cubs and donkeys and wildebeest and pitchers scores etc).

des 1:57 AM  

These puzzles always take me a long time, and this was no exception. Except: the theme was easy and Munich wasn't very hard either, since the Strauss birthplace was most likely going to be in Germany.
And Baby M ... Rex, I would have thought that even you are old enough to remember all the hullabaloo over this one. Of course, it is easier for those of us who were in NJ at the time. This was the fight for custody between the Surrogate mother and the adopting parents (father by artificial insemination and mother with multiple sclerosis). There was even a fairly good TV movie made about it in the late 80's.

Alex 1:57 AM  

I must say that when the puzzle first displayed I actually said out loud "Hey! A swastika!" That lead me to immediately consider to interesting possible themes.

But unfortunately (in a way) I had both ZIMA and ARROZ almost immediately which made the theme clear and I was able to then immediately fill in all of the theme squares except for the interior of ZEENA.

Getting that much of a head start made it a bit easier than I'd ahve liked.

The only hang up was in the NE where I had misspelled ACHESON as ACHISON and couldn't get away from John Madden to see INCENSE until I finally decided that PHON had to be PHON.

John 2:16 AM  

I have to call shenanigans on "Erl-King." Is it really acceptable to split the translation? Either the answer should be ELF or the clue should be "Der ___konig," but "The Elf-Konig" is basically gibberish.

andrea carla michaels 2:23 AM  

I too thought "swastika!?!" when I saw the puzzle, maybe it's a Jewish paranoia thing...
what with the whole complicated story of Strauss and the Nazis...
(Altho mostly what I recognize of his music is in the beginning of "2001: A Space Odyssey", a movie I understood not)

Always torn...
in awe of the theme ATOZTOA (very very very cool),
but totally disliked half the fill:
ITAR, ATEE, AHH, APIS, EDW, NLERS (even ITOO being so close to YESI).

No clue about BABYM, but got it and liked it and was intrigued and felt I learned all sorts of things.

I have to admit I read LINEAR A as "Lineara", like it was an Italian lady's name, maybe someone even married to Ethan Frome for all I knew!

SethG 3:28 AM  

Just saw Batman with JohnJohn and Weeky. And one of the previews was for a special 25th Anniversary edition of WarGames they're showing Thursday night, with never before seen interviews and a preview for the sequel. WarGames was, of course, where I learned BRASS HAT. And FATHER M went to high school with my dad.

I knew Harry and Anne, knew Nobel, and am rock solid with temperature conversions. I never win anything.

The Seinfeld episode was called The Yada Yada Yada, I've seen both spellings, my dictionary is too old to have either.

I had trouble in the bible belt 'cause I didn't know HENRIETTA, eventually worked my way out building on OIL BARON. I had an error with the ZAG/ZIG...apparently we saw ITAR earlier this year, but maybe I was sick that day. Yes, you cannot do EDW.
-SeG

jae 4:35 AM  

Strange puzzle. Zipped through much of it only to stare at NE and SE. I also tried ZURICH but BABYM was lurking in the recesses of memeory so I fixed it. Turns out PHON is not officially recognized as a unit of loudness (PPG reveals much). Knew ANTZ (it helps to have grandkids) but still did a PPG on NARZ and ZEENA to confirm. Not used to relying on crosses on a Wed. That said, kinda liked this one but not as Kool as last week's Krozzy's.

Daryl 6:05 AM  

@male chicken: NLers = National Leaguers = some baseball players

Saw the swastika straight up, and was wondering about that, especially with the As and Zs proliferating. On the other hand, Rex, I didn't grow up in America, and even I heard of BABY M. Or maybe that was the surfeit of National Enquirers lying around the house.

The cross I didn't like was ITAR/ARROZ. But maybe ITAR is another bit of crosswordese?

jannieb 6:59 AM  

Not to be fussy, but isn't the theme really "ZtoAtoZ"? That said, I really had fun with this. No real hangups with the fill - although I always want to enter AAH instead of AHH. But I knew BabyM. Didn't know Lofgren, Henrietta or Zeena - but got them from the crosses. Took "Phon" on faith, but huh?

Okay - we're over the hump!

male chicken 7:42 AM  

@Daryl, thank you for letting me know which sport the NL involves.
Now I need to work out which animals play in it or don't. Guess it's time to bite the bullet and do a proper search.

Barry 7:56 AM  

Morning, folks!

As I started in on this puzzle I kept thinking, "Man, this is bizarrely tough for a Tuesday!" It wasn't until I came here to check in that I realized today is actually Wednesday. Oops. What can I say? I took Monday off from work and my brain is a day behind as a result. Regardless, today was still a tough nut to crack!

The west section didn't cause me as problem as it did Rex once I figured out THE U.N. for 28D. BABY M didn't leap immediately to mind, but I was able to pull it out of the recesses of my memory with the help of a few crosses.

No, what caused me major grief today was the north central section. I started out confidently putting BRASS HAT for 5D and WENT SOUTH for 6D. That messed me up in so many ways until I finally accepted that I had made a mistake and sheepishly deleted BRASS HAT. Things didn't get any better after that, of course. it wasn't until I finally remembered that Apian Way had something to do with bees that I was able to put APIS in for 35A, which showed me the error of my ways.

Anyway, this puzzle took me a lot longer to complete than an average Wednesday, but I'm proud to say I did eventually finish it unassisted.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

An exciting morning! Here in Florida, we got what may be tomorrow's puzzle, complete with the answer to same! Will we get today's puzzle tomorrow?

alanrichard 8:34 AM  

I got bits and pieces of this puzzle. Then when I got Alcatraz and Arnaz and Antz I realized the theme and went through it pretty quickly. I had no clue on Henrietta but I had the H abd the etta so it was contexturally logical. The only sticking point I had was the birthplace of Strauss. I had ich at the end and wrote in Zurich and ohyou fit so I figured I was right. I was trying to remember the name of the Cuban boy in the custody case but the Z had me confused. Eventually after BYE, Youll and AHH, I got Babym and Munich. This was challenging and a great theme. The thing with themes is once you figure them out, you can just write in the letters - at opposite ends in this case.

Crosscan 8:40 AM  

This seemed like another Thursday puzzle on Wednesday. I blame Rex. When you come back home the days will be back in sync. And it looks like rain here today. I blame Rex for that too.

Maybe that was a bit harsh. I'm just jealous that he is in a cool place.

I like the theme, didn't like some of the fill, in the end my only error was ZIMA/ITOO with what was to me a random vowel crossing.

When I click on the YouTube videos I get "We're sorry, the video is no longer available". Is it just me?

mac 9:00 AM  

This wasn't my usual happy NYT xword puzzle experience. I'm in NY, no newspaper, had to do it on the laptop, which I just don't like as much. I appreciate the complexities of the theme, like some of the clues and answers, but some crosses had to be outright guesses. Have to confess to getting it, but reading "lineara", as well... Also think it's aaaah when it feels good. How do you pronounce ahh? Short a to me.

@male chicken, welcome! You are very funny. Forget those cubs, bears, cardinals, orioles and sea hawks, you'll get them from the crosses.

@des: what happened with baby m?

I've got to go out into the steamy city. TGF airconditioning.

joho 9:04 AM  

Aaaaaamaaaaaazzzzzzing puzzzzzzzzle.

Really liked it lot with the only real difficulty for me being in the NW corner. Had beer, but switched to ZIMA and got ZIGS which I love. Also I'd never heard of ZEENA or HENRIETTA but got those easily with crosses. Great job, Mr. Quillen!

@SethG: WarGames is great film!

joho 9:04 AM  

Aaaaaamaaaaaazzzzzzing puzzzzzzzzle.

Really liked it lot with the only real difficulty for me being in the NW corner. Had beer, but switched to ZIMA and got ZIGS which I love. Also I'd never heard of ZEENA or HENRIETTA but got those easily with crosses. Great job, Mr. Quillen!

@SethG: WarGames is great film!

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

Crowning jewel: ARIZONA, crossing "A to Z to A" .

All other entries are A-Z or Z-A, but Arizona is also AtoZtoA, as it must be to cross "A to Z to A" in the center to continue the pattern. brilliant

Bernie

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

@fpbear

Some print editions ran the wrong puzzle today (Wed).

See the "corrections" on page A4.

.../Glitch

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

is there any way to get a blank for the puzzle appering in today's blog? It looks like an interesting puzzle, but all the copies of today's NYT that i can find had the 'other' puzzle.

ArtLvr 9:38 AM  

I TOO liked this puzzle a lot! There were words I'd never have guessed if the theme hadn't popped out early on, but I sailed through. "Elian" was the Cuban child, but never going to fit anything where BABY M was needed... We'd seen ERL recently also!

There were lots of rhymes -- my favorite was BOT/WENT TO POT. And AD BIZ made me think of Molly Ivins again, because she always skewered the Texas pols who just took care of "bidness" (their own, not the people's business).

Congrats to Henry Quillen on the ingenious puzzle!

∑;)

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

I live in Manhattan and get the NY Times delivered to my door. Oddly enough, today's printed puzzle is different from the one online. There is no mention of why at NYTimes.com. Now I am half way finished with no Rex Parker Blog to help me figure the rest out. Total bummer. Did anyone else have this experience? Oh and the printed puzzle does not state who wrote it. Edited by Will Shortz, Puzzle by _______.

SethG 10:01 AM  

Heya,

I appended a note about the incorrect puzzle that was printed in some versions of the newspaper this morning.

Before we figured out exactly what happened I deleted a comment that described the theme to the incorrect puzzle in case it was tomorrow's puzzle or something.

Even though it turns out to be from the past, please comment on specifics of that puzzle on the appropriate page, and restrict comments here to the puzzle Rex blogged about.

Sorry if I seem too power hungry, Rex will be back in a normal time zone soon enough!

Thanks,
sg
Temporary Moderator

Ulrich 10:03 AM  

I also found the zigzagging theme answers so intricately arranged, a real feat of construction, that I was ready to forgive a lot. Yes, there were many answers I didn't know, but managed to get all through crosses and educated guesses except for the Henrietta/Narz crossing, where I had an e till I came here (she would have been called Henriette in German).

Speaking of which: mies (pronounced "mees") basically means "crappy" in German. It's no wonder that Ludwig Mies decided to add his mother's name to his. I have taught in arch. schools for 25 years + and was always humbled by the fact that neither of two most influential architects of early modernism, Mies and Le Corbusier, ever went to arch. school.

@Rex: thanks for the link!

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

NYC girl here with the different puzzle...found the answer to my question on the Rex Parker Blog! Turns out the NY Times reprinted the old puzzle from 6/14/07. Googling for an answer brought me back to the RP blog. NY Times made a boo boo!!..hee hee.

Tony from Charm City 10:08 AM  

Looks like I'm not the only one who immediately thought "A swastika?"

No problems with the theme, but I ran into some issues with the two long downs. I started to entering RANTOPOT for 6D and STRINGENCE for 36D before realizing I was a letter short for each. I also had DONA at 54D for a while.

I vaguely remember the BABY M story, but needed MUNICH to complete the entry.

One of my favorite answers was Dean ACHESON, IMO one of the shrewdest politicians of the early cold war/nuclear age.

MargaretR 10:15 AM  

The return of the Erl King
and ZIMA, but EDER instead of ODER. I still don't want to drink anything made by Coors, though.

Shamik 10:40 AM  

@alanrichard: I, too, was looking for ELIAN, but then pulled BABYM out of the deep recesses of the brain...and even remembered the context! Ach. I'm old!

Do they still make ZIMA?!?!?!? And why?

Since there were too many twists and turns in the grid, I didn't think swastika ad much as I thought pinwheel. And then the theme had nothing to do with the shape. But I loved the theme...got it from ANTZ fairly quickly.

However, confess that though my time was good, I ended with EASESIT to go with TARZ. Natick. Just thought EASESIT makes sense. But then, my brain is on what to do with the in-laws for their week-long visit starting Friday. Guess I won't be adding many comments here next week.

Joon 10:43 AM  

i don't get the swastika thing. it's not a swastika. it just isn't. if it were, there'd be only 6 theme entries and two of them would be 15 letters long.

beautiful theme today. having recently seen two such themes (the will nediger "a to z" tuesday which is now infamous for its SYZYGY-FERULE-PFC syzygy, and yesterday's gorgeous david kahn LAT), this one was a delicious twist.

the west was tricky for me, too, since i didn't know BABYM, but MUNICH seemed to be the only logical guess. loved the clue for THEUN--brilliant!

the main thing that made this puzzle tough for me was that i had to go back and fix several letters that seemed plausible: GLYN->GLEN, PHIN->PHON, ARIS->APIS. (i thought WENTTOROT was a little dubious when i filled it in. WENTTOPOT is much better.) those european rivers, though--argh. even with RH_NE i was uncertain. and __ER is a nightmare. i didn't think it was YSER but it still could have been ODER. indeed, i stared at DOLETES for a while trying to parse it, before the light finally went on.

ZEENA frome is usally called zeenie in the book, which, by the way, doesn't suck as much as you may have been led to believe (grosse pointe blank, anybody? great flick). the only theme answer that gave me any trouble was ZESTA. i thought it would end up being something familiar but then it didn't. still, the crosses were easy.

LINEARA was a highlight of the fill. it's still undeciphered, unlike linear B which was famously solved by michael ventris. my wife (who took a course in ancient scripts in college) tells me that this is a fascinating read. it's on my shelf.

whoa, extensive ramblings today. i need to get my own blog. or maybe just keep my mouth shut.

alanrichard 10:48 AM  

Whats sort of funny, when I was solving this puzzle, I misread Flagstaff for Falstaff and i waas trying to remember the locatio of the Shakespearean character. Its a good thing literacy isn't required - then the puzzles would be much easier!!!

Parshutr 10:58 AM  

Although it now is taken as a synonym for gourmet, the word gourmand used to mean just the opposite -- a person who will eat anything, as long as it's a lot.
Sort of like "I couldn't care less" morphing into "I could care less".
Gresham's law applied to language: the easy bad drives out the good.
I too was trying to fit the Boar's Head into Arizona, thanks to the Falstaff/Flagstaff thingee.
And there were eight king Hens as well as Edws...but MYWAY solved everything there. As one would hope.
Fun puzzle today.

jeff in chicago 11:00 AM  

Loved this theme, even though I thoroughly mucked it up at the start. I got ZIMA, ARROZ and ZESTA in a flash. Then wandered to ALCATRAZ. (Why, oh Why didn't I read the Flagstaff clue???) So I then (logically?) filled in all the A's and Z's, making ARIZONA and ATOZTOA end with Z's, and reversing the pattern all over the east. Just try to come up with a Wall Street word that's Z_ _ _ A, I dare you! Thankfully, went back to the top of the puzzle and ZAPPA got me back on track.

Speaking of music, if any of you don't know NILS Lofgren (mostly famous as one of Bruce Springsteen's guitarists), you should check out his solo stuff. It's some of the best guitar work out there.

I will also admit to throwing in VENICE for MUNICH. Strauss = waltz = Venice, right? Oh...wait...it's Vienna. DOH! That odd middle west section didn't help me figure out my error for a while.

But even with all my missteps, I really enjoyed the puzzle. And it was Google-free in the end.

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

not being a subscriber, is there any way to get a blank copy of the puzzle in today's blog, since it seems to be so interesting and challenging?

my times, and all the copies i have checked where i work, have the wrong puzzle.

Bill from NJ 11:21 AM  

Being a niece Jewish boy, I am tuned into things like swastickas (which I saw immediately) and all those Zs and As. I realize it's being just a little paranoid but there you are.

I knew who BABYM was but I had ELIAN. As I was filling in the West I saw there was an error someplace and finally switched ELIAN to BABYM. I'm from NJ and remember the case.

In this case, the theme helped with the problems folks had with NARZ and ANTZ, although I was famliar with both as I have teenagers in the house and I used to watch game shows with my mother in the 50s.

I consider ITAR to be semi-spoor as I know this from crossword puzzles but don't see it often enough for it to be full-fledged spoor

Jim in Chicago 11:49 AM  

I was so blown away by the work it must have taken to pull off this theme that I'll forgive the author for any difficult bits. Even the very center of the puzzzle manages to cross at a "Z". Amazing.

That having been said, I also totally tanked in the West, and was led somewhat astray by guessing that Frome's wife was ZELDA. ZEENA??? Who knew!

jae 11:53 AM  

For the record I had WENTSOUTH for a while and it definitely retarded my zippiness.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

figured out they had published the wrong puzzle but thought it was fun...I had trouble disciplining myself
not to look at the answers once I figured it out. I wasn't totally successful.

alanrichard 12:27 PM  

I remember seeing alot of Zima commercials; then they were gone. Sore of reminds me of when Piels and Schlitz, (beers - and I don't drink at all), advertised heavily and then, I guess, after tasting the products, there were no repeat customers. Which proves advertising can lead a horse to water - and make him/her take that first sip - but you cant make him/her take more if they dont like it.
I'm glad DAME made an appearance after Monday's Happy Hooker, Merry Widow & Gay Divorcee!

Joe 12:44 PM  

Star Wars has droids, not BOTs :|

Karen 12:45 PM  

I like d the theme, but I didn't like the visual. With all the circles it looked too cluttered to me. Would you have had trouble figuring it out without the circles?

I hit the same snag as Rex with ZURICH, even though I thought it weird to have a non-theme z there. Plus, I wanted STRIDENCE to be ACRIDNESS instead (doh).

miriam b 1:11 PM  

It dawned on me today that INCENSE can be a verb meaning to infuriate, or a noun meaning smelly smoke (sometimes holy smoke). Different syllables are stressed, of course.

Lots of fun today - and not too hard, what wuth the paucity of sports and pop-culture references.

I remember that the surrogate mother of Baby M lived in the hamlet east of me on Long Island, where I happened to wbe working at the time. The case was the main topic of conversation at my workplace.

A colleague and I (at another job) were discussing our favorite painters and their styles, when a third person chimed in, deadpan, "I've always preferred the Cubists from ZIRCONIA." He then nonchalantly sauntered out of the lab, leaving us on the floor.

Lots of good names here: ZAPPA, MIES, MEARA, RENE, et Al.

Speaking of RENE: I redid a small bathroom in blue with wallpaper with a sky and cloud pattern on the ceiling within a trompe-l'oeil skylight frame. Naturally I have an Empire of Lights poster on the wall. Corny, but fun. I suppose that to be really true to Magritte's vision I'd have had to paint the walls a midnight blue, but I'm not that kind of extremist!

@ulrich: Seems to me there's a Yiddish word for an ugly person; mieskeit. I think Woody Allen applies the term to a woman in Love and Death.

Blanche 1:35 PM  

@john: The translation is not split. The more usual, and preferable, English translation is "Erlking" or "Erl-King" as in the puzzle. Not ELF. If you study the history of Goethe's poem you'll see why.

ArtLvr 2:05 PM  

@ jeff in chicago: I win!!! -- Your Wall Street word is ZEBRA (= ZEBRA TECHNOLOGIES CORP.) on the NASDAQ, symbol ZBRA, now trading around $32.75... I hope you'll come through with an appropriate prize!

∑;)

Bill D 2:08 PM  

NORMAN COLLEGE? / CHRISTMASTIME?

Now we all see what liking THEDA and THETA in the same puzzle leads to - YOU crossing YOU at the "O"! If I wasn't the laziest man alive, Shortz would at this moment be receiving a strongly worded letter about his failure to edit the west of this puzzle. The whole section should have been redone - it didn't affect the theme at all and was just horrible. Come to think of it, the due East with the atrocious EDW and the rest of its lame fill should have been redone as well.

I went for a double dose of disaster today, first doing the "wrong" puzzle in my paper, then struggling with the west of this actual one for far too long. Everything else went fairly readily, even though I had to give up on "Downs Only" at a relatively early stage.
I lived in NJ in the 1980s and don't remember BABY M. Watched a lot of daytime TV then, so NARZ was familiar.

@Male Chicken - "luckily I know to ram NLers in..." You're gettin' close, but the Rams are in the NFL (football). We'll have to get you a tutorial.

There is a Swastika of circles in the puzzle, occupying the central 7x7 part of the grid, though it is technically cranked in the opposite direction of a National Socialist symbol.

Damon G. 2:11 PM  

Loved the puzzle today, though the west was indeed very hard.

PS -- it's actually spelled "Wookiee", and I don't know why I know this. I'm not even really into Sci-Fi.

Bill from NJ 2:14 PM  

I did see that, strictly speaking, it was not a swasticka but it resembled one and, to a slightly paranoid Jew like myself, that was plenty. I alluded to that in my original post and I think that other folks like me would say the same thing.

Twice in just the recent past Jewish folk have noticed things that were percieved as not "Kosher" in the puzzles and have mentioned same but with the priviso that "perhaps I'm being too sensitive."

Perhaps we are but it comes with the territory. No blame is affixed to anyone

Joel 2:26 PM  

The theme here was great, but the rest of this puzzle stinks, frankly. EDW? The aforementioned OHYOU/YOULL crossing? Blech. I can't decide if the theme is enough to forgive the rest of this dreck.

Maybe I'm just mad because I immediately popped DONA (doña) in for "Lady of Spain" and never could get past it.

Wade 3:10 PM  

I talked to my son on the phone this morning--he's in Scotland with his sister and mother. He turned six yesterday and he was telling me in typical non-stop fashion what he got for his birthday ("And you know what else? And you know what else?") Trying to wrap up the conversation and get him to give the phone back to my wife, I told him I missed him. Without a pause he said, "Maybe you should get a cat or a robot that sounds like me."

That relates to the puzzle, right?

Jane Doh 3:13 PM  

Loved this theme, especially after seeing my NYTimes and immediately noticing that the constructor's name and the date information were missing and solving a puzzle I had total recall of and wondering WTF. Was never so glad to have the on-line option available.

Did I mention I loved the theme? Yes, the central circles look like a swastika, not so nice, but it has tails, so it isn't technically one. I'm (finally) reading "The Plot Against America" (Philip Roth), and see a swastika every time I pick up the book.

I also found the Far West icky, and was slowed down by the YOU/YOU crossing, which I wanted to be something -- anything -- else. BYE = Free pass, of sorts. This puzzle apparently got a free pass or two, because the theme is so unusual and the grid so constrained by theme letter placement. On balance, I give it a free pass, as well.

ZEENA/"Ethan Frome" reminds me how much I love Edith Wharton, but had, sadly, forgotten the name of the wife and only remembered Mattie.

HENRIETT? crossing NA?Z was blind for me. I chose "A" because of the "Maria" hint. Cluing NEAR with a FITB was a little mean.

Pet peeve is the migration of GOURMANDS to be synonymous with GOURMETS, the first being gluttons by derivation.

DAMA = Lady of Spain. Respect for the Spanish woman not shown for the American woman in the recent past. The trend line is positive, YEAH, though it only has two points. Wonder what the Spanish word for "broad" is?

MIES Cool factoid, @ulrich!

Fun puzzle.

--JD

miriam b 3:32 PM  

@ulrich: Once a researcher, always a researcher, I suppose. I should probably get a life. I was so sure that the dialogue of Love and Death included the word "mieskeit" that I actually tracked down the line in question. And here it is.

"And you must be the Don's sister,
the noted Spanish countess and mieskeit."

fergus 3:39 PM  

FWITW,

Just completed the paper puzzle, without art, and fortunately never looked at yesterday's solution, which was actually today's, which isn't really, apparently. Lucky to get the confusion, then have scrolling fortune to happen upon SethG's italicized copy first, so the supposedly correct puzzle is still at large, from my perspective.

Is there any thread concerning the paper-published puzzle by ______, dated //07 (No. 0)? It's a good puzzle, but I spent a good while wondering if the author's name was concealed in the puzzle somehow?

Thanks to anyone who can drop a comment in, so that I can keep the true 7/23/08 puzzle a mystery until it does show up.

chefbea1 3:51 PM  

all of you that didnt get todays puzzle...

if you e-mail me I will send you the times digest which I get every morning and you can print out the puzzle

Anonymous 4:27 PM  

PLEASE ... a little help with the music clip of "My way." I can't find it and its info on YouTube.

Who is singing, and is it a joke???

Unbelievable!!

Culturally challeged Charles

Anonymous 4:40 PM  

Please excuse my posted question about the music clip. I replayed it and saw and heard the name of the performer, Sid Vicious.

But I still don't know what it's all about. I can't think when I've heard such awful singing. My question still applies: Is it a joke???

Culturally challenged Charles

Rex Parker 4:45 PM  

Thanks for the help, Seth. I'm really really glad I didn't have to deal with the headache of a misprinted puzzle. Add that to the fact that syndication schedule has been screwy (five weeks back instead of normal six) this week, and there seems to be some disorder in the House of Times.

Puzzle grids are pretty heavy on the right angles, and so eventually, you're going to think you're seeing swastiskas. In fact, in any given puzzle you can probably make one out. The pattern in today's puzzle really looks nothing like a swastika.

I had the BABY in BABY M, but that letter could have been Anything, as far as I was concerned.

OK, I'm traveling today (Th), so who knows what you're getting for tomorrow's blog. It'll be something, but it won't be me.

rp

chefbea1 4:48 PM  

very clever puzzle today. I had the same trouble in the west as did Rex and other rexites.

@jannieb I had aah also instead of ahh

Here's to all the gourmands out there altho not much food in todays puzzle

william e emba 4:54 PM  

I'm not sure if I guessed MUNICH instead of ZURICH by luck, but MUNICH is in Germany and ZURICH is in Switzerland, and everyone knows Strauss is German, right?

As it is, I definitely remember the BABY M surrogate motherhood case and my outrage at the New Jersey Supreme Court way back when. But not until I had the answer from the crosses.

Two Wednesdays in a row now I got ERL-King instantly, thanks to my finishing Richard Powers THE TIME OF OUR SINGING, which I mentioned once a few weeks ago because I came across OSTINATO in the book later the same day it was in the puzzle.

Meanwhile, having finished Richard Powers THE ECHO MAKER, I was astonished to come across a handful of NYT crossword oldies. At one point, a character recited the 4-H pledge. And on the back cover, to my shock, was a quotation from Richard EDER, a recent end-of-the-week not-the-German-river clue. I think this time I've got his name memorized.

Anonymous 5:17 PM  

The pattern in today's puzzle really looks nothing like a swastika.

Oh, come on. It looks at least a LITTLE like a (backwards) swastika.

green mantis 5:21 PM  

Chris--Sid Vicious sang for the Sex Pistols and covered My Way. If you look up "My Way" in wikipedia, it will give you the details.

Uneven puzzle, but kind of appropriate given the zigzag theme, I guess.

green mantis 5:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
william e emba 5:24 PM  

You thought of John MADDEN, but I thought of Matt MADDEN, having just read an interview with him in THE COMICS JOURNAL #290, which I bought for its extremely long dissection and debunking of David Michaelis SCHULZ AND PEANUTS.

Matt MADDEN is interesting for his comic book adaptation of Raymond Queneau EXERCISES IN STYLE. The mind boggles. Yes, MADDEN is a "foreign correspondent" member of OuBaPo. Of course, if Queneau and OuLiPo are considered too obscure for the NYT, I guess OuBaPo doesn't rate either.

Meanwhile, in the course of reading the articles on Michaelis, the authors referred several times to his previous biography, on N.C.WYETH ! Aargh, I wish I had read the articles as soon as it had come out--I'd have been spared guessing wrong the cross with NATICK.

Rex Parker 5:27 PM  

OK, OK, the center looks more like a swastika than, say, a pumpkin looks like a swastika - I'll give you that.

Back to morning tea and toast. Off to Dunedin later today

rp

steve l 5:55 PM  

The center looks JUST like a swastika, an Indian (Asian, that is) swastika, which is the same as the Nazi one, except mirror-image. For Indians, this has been a common good-luck symbol for ages. My brother once owned a house whose original owners were Indian, and there was a (backwards-to-Nazi) swastika carved in the cement.

The outer arms of the design simply echo the part that is the swastika proper, so I'd say yes, the entire design looks quite a bit like a swastika.

steve l 5:55 PM  

Who knows, maybe in the Southern Hemisphere, the swastikas are reversed?

mac 6:23 PM  

When I got back to Connecticut, I found a different puzzle in the paper, which I happily did without noticing the answers right below (never check those, I've got Rex!). I'm going to Seth's link later, I'll have double the fun today!

Yesterday I found (in son's appartment) an old (May 29 - June 4) "Onion", never saw one before. I ripped the puzzle page off and did it this morning. HaHA, no breakfast test in site! Very good puzzle, though, by Ben Tausig.
Two coincidences: this afternoon, for the first time ever, I ate at a Vegan restaurant, and Vegan was in the puzzle. Also, NYC Theater District / BWAY was in this puzzle!

I've got to go, need some protein for dinner.

fergus 6:28 PM  

Thanks to Chef Bea, I got the proper puzzle, which she kindly emailed to those who needed their fix. Then, since I abandoned the domestic printer years ago, did the puzzle on graph paper, while looking up at the Clues and grid, making sure to blacken the appropriate spaces. Not an approach I would recommend, but interesting in its novelty.

A TO ZETA? No, that didn't work. My graph paper solution didn't bother with the circled spaces, and I don't think they mattered much or at all. Entirely superfluous addition to the puzzle; sot of like explaining a joke to point out the cleverness.

One gnarly error lay with Frank Sinatra (who is featured on the latest set of postage stamps I purchased), and I entered MISTY, followed by MYSTY, thinking that song, or variant, must have been in his repertoire.

The red-line Clue had me thinking more about discriminatory banking practices than copy-editing, so my graph paper started to appear to have some asymmetrical blackened spaces.

Glad to find EASES IN, and not WADES, with all due respect and apologies, to his vice-regency.

PuzzleGirl 6:31 PM  

Am I the only one who thought "whirligig" instead of "swastika"? I was so impressed by the puzzle that I forgave EDW. Which, no, you really can't do. I had no problems with this puzzle at all, but I'm not going to gloat because you never know what will happen tomorrow....

andrea carla michaels 6:33 PM  

When I first read Rex and felt so in sync, I was CONVINCED he must be me, somehow, ie Jewish, from Minneosta, late 40's, etc.
Imagine my surprise when I met him at the ACPT!
Rex insisting it looks nothing like a swastika is another indication of just HOW Jewish he is not! ;)

It reminds me of growing up as one of the few Jews in Minnesota and when they showed "Love and Death" and he called the woman a mieskeit, exactly three people out of 100 burst out laughing...

(And dead silence during the scene in "Annie Hall" where they are discussing yard sales and the grandmother is imagining Woody Allen with Payises (sp?)
but BIG laughs when he sneezed into the coke!)

A company I worked for in the 90's(Lexicon) named Zima (supposedly it means "Winter" in Russian) and they were SO proud of that awful name!
To their credit, they later named the Powerbook and the BlackBerry.

steve l 6:34 PM  

I've been wondering if the fact that some Times editor saw a swastika shape in the puzzle grid and intentionally pulled the puzzle and substituted a previously-used one. At first, I was thinking sabotage. But I can't imagine how that could have happened by accident.

Crosscan 6:35 PM  

@Fergus:

Frank Sinatra recorded Misty in 1961. No evidence that Johnny Mathis recorded MY WAY though.

Canadian factoid alert - The lyrics to MY WAY was written by Paul Anka.

Crosscan 6:39 PM  

@Andrea - I had a similar experience seeing "Blazing Saddles" when the Indians starting speaking Yiddish and I was the only one laughing at what they were saying.

3 and out. Until tomorrow, which may or may not be Thursday, or an old puzzle or in some bizarre pattern, or... can't we talk about food?

jls 8:13 PM  

meeskite [sic] redux -- this time by way of the original b'way production of cabaret. the song was introduced by the inimitable jack gilford:

meeskite

sweet!

;-)

janie (a great fan of today's puzzle)

Anonymous 8:31 PM  

It took me about 6 minutes to nearly solve the puzzle and then 20 more to figure out that it wasn't E-CHAT AND ZERCONIA.
-Steve

alanrichard 8:36 PM  

I never notices the Swastika thing until I read the assorted comments here. Yes, I am Jewish and I would have found it offensive if I thought it was there to make a statement. Perhaps if Skinhead and David Duke were surrepticiouly placed in the puzzle. Having said that, I always find it amusing when people look for subtle meanings and messages. I suppose that Zappa was in there because Henry Quillen was Zapped by an alien and the clue was included to get back to his home planet to indicate that he had safely landed here. If that wasn't the case he could have used ZUPPA which is soup in some language, (probably one that one of my customers, who I have difficulty understanding, speaks).

mac 9:34 PM  

Has anyone checked out Emily's drawings lately? They are getting better and blacker every day.

Anonymous 9:41 PM  

@ mac - You probably ate more protein during your vegan meal than you realize. See "When Friends Ask: Where Do You Get Your Protein?" by Dr. John McDougall at http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2007nl/apr/dairy.htm.

I enjoyed the puzzle and had no errors, but many unknowns, that I got only through crosses, I double checked afterwards.

Mary in NE

mac 10:02 PM  

@Mary in NE: I know, you are probably usually right. I'm not a great carnivore, but in this case they relied too much on avocado, even in the gazpacho... And the hearts of palm salad required magnifiers to find them back!

Michael 10:09 PM  

I am glad that I got the right puzzle -- very enjoyable and a bit challenging for a Wednesday.

fergus 10:23 PM  

green mantis, are you hiding
under a stalk or leaf?

Jane Doh 11:05 PM  

@ steve l: as a fan of conspiracy theories in principle, I'm intrigued by your thought that "some Times editor saw a swastika shape in the puzzle grid and intentionally pulled the puzzle and substituted a previously-used one."

The Times puzzle, as I understand it, is handled like an ad, by ad production, and placed where there is space around the editorial content of the Arts section of the paper. A typeset document is provided and is dropped into the layout, with no modification by the production staff.

The mystery would therefore be: where did the saboteur obtain the corrupted typeset doc that we saw today, since it shouldn't be possible that such a doc was ever sent to ad production.

Where is Clouseau? Poirot? Marple?

Lateral thinking needed.

mac 11:21 PM  

The crossword puzzle should be one of the easiest things in the newspaper lay-out to replace: it probably takes the same amount of space every day. The plot thickens!

Alex 11:31 PM  

As the first commenter to mention the swastika thing I just want to say that while my first reaction on seeing the puzzle went in that direction in no way was I offended by it nor did I at any moment seriously consider that a swastika was the intended representation.

I just thought of it, and then took me off on a mental tangent of what some swastika themes might be.

I'm not Jewish, paranoid or otherwise.

william e emba 5:19 PM  

I had a similar experience seeing "Blazing Saddles" when the Indians starting speaking Yiddish and I was the only one laughing at what they were saying.

It's certainly funny on its own, but a small part of the humor is the fact that there was a time when the Native American Indians were thought of in Jewish circles as the 10 lost tribes. Nu, what else would they speak? Swedish?

Indeed, there is/was a genre of completely untranslatable Yiddish jokes about Indians, where the Indians in the joke have some dialogue (and since the joke is being told in Yiddish, the dialogue is Yiddish). The punchline is then some comment that only makes sense if the speaker in the joke is an Orthodox Jew who has made a complete bollocks of his situation, and we now find out why he's all upset. ("Oy, gevalt, I took my milchig tomahawk!")

Rick 9:21 AM  

Am I the only other one who got tripped up by DAMA? I was a Spanish minor in college and yet I don't recall ever seeing this word, in crosswords or otherwise. I had DONA but also knew MEARA had to be right, so I was stumped there for a bit. Didn't know NARZ, even though I was a huge Concentration fan; perhaps I'm too young to remember him. PHON I know from playing Boggle obsessively. ZEENA I got only from crosses.

Otherwise I thought it was a great theme and loved the clue for THE UN.

Rick 9:21 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Allen 9:25 AM  

Looks like I'm the only one who had --NIC- for Strauss's birthplace and decided he was born in VENICE.

I suppose that GOURMANDS love fine fare as much as they love any fare. I kept trying to stretch GOURMETS into nine letters.

Wonderful theme, for which I'll forgive the sometimes inelegant (but gettable) filler. And nice long entries down the middle!

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