## Saturday, October 4, 2008

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: "Fault-Finding" - 117D: What each starred clue - and its answer - contains (TYPO) - Each starred clue contains a typo, and each starred clue answer contains the letter string "TYPO"

This was one of the most challenging and most impressive Sunday puzzles I've done in a long time. I was very recently told that repeated-word puzzles (the repeated word here being "TYPO") are a no-no, generally, in the NYT, but when the theme is double-edged like this, and incredibly clever to boot, then I guess the rash of TYPOs around the grid isn't likely to be viewed as a problem. This puzzle made me feel like an idiot. I had to get 117D before I had any clue what was going on, and after that I still could not understand how the answer contained a TYPO. I'm not sure how long it took me to see "TYPO" in the theme answers I had, but ... it was too long. I knew when I saw Byron's name on the by-line that this wouldn't be any ordinary Sunday, and that it would likely be harder than normal. Right and right.

• 28A: *Common Guernsey bull (twenTY POund note) - typo = bull for bill
• 41A: *1968 firm featuring a murderous cheerleader ("PretTY POison") - typo = firm for film
• 46A: *Urban farce (ciTY POlice) - typo = farce for force
• 61A: *Where stars can be seen fluffing and folding (CelebriTY POker) - typo = fluffing for bluffing
• 71A: *What theaters play (dirTY POol) - typo = theaters for cheaters
• 79A: *Bean, e.g. (universiTY POst) - typo = bean for dean
• 97A: *Onetime regal status of Shanghai or Canton (treaTY POrt) - typo = regal for legal
• 98A: *Get blankets (parTY POopers) - typo = Get for Wet
• 111A: *Novice in an ad campaign (publiciTY POster) - typo = Novice for Notice
• 41D: *Bad drivers back them up (penalTY POints) - typo = back for rack
This puzzle has an amazingly wide-open feel to it, with very few three-letter answers, stacks of eights in the NE and SW, stacks of sevens in the NW and SE, and fairly open E and W sections to boot. I am surprised how infrequently the puzzle had to go to non-words or wince-inducing fill like SCAREY (57D: Chilling: Var.). All the shorter answers are ones I've seen before, and the longer ones that I haven't (e.g. TOMTITS - 73D: Small birds, in British lingo) all feel very legitimate. I learned some new words, like SECONDO (25A: Lower part of a duet) and PETIT GRIS (94A: Snail variety whose name means "small gray") and the SCAREY-sounding VIRID (37D: Strongly green). Perhaps you learned today that there is a movie called "THE CELL" (97D: 2000 Jennifer Lopez thriller) or a rapper called BUSTA RHYMES (78D: "Pass the Courvoisier" rapper). Your life is poorer and richer, respectively, for learning those answers. (note: the following is NSFW - that's Not Suitable For Work)

Wait - there's a bunch more stuff that I didn't really know that I'm only just noticing. SPATLESE (13D: German wine made from the late harvest)!?!? That's something only a German and/or oenophile is going to know. Damn. Rough. And why are STATORS Fixed motor parts (129A)? Oh ... "fixed," as in "immobile." HA ha. I was thinking "fixed" as in "repaired," which made no sense, obviously. Never heard of ANDY Devine (6D: Roy Rogers sidekick Devine), which isn't that surprising considering RR was Way before my time. Wasn't "Free Willy" an ORCA? I think that's why it seems hilarious to me that ORCA could ever have been the title of a horror movie, i.e. 115D: 1977 flick with the tagline "Terror just beneath the surface." Had no idea that "matar" meant PEAS (77A: What "matar" means on an Indian menu), but the answer was easy to infer. Never heard of UNU (95A: Bygone P.M. with a palindromic name). Was he P.M. of Neptune, because that name is from outer space. Heard of "Bible Belt" and "Rust Belt" but not RICE BELT (87A: Region including Texarkana). They really grow rice there? Rice seems inherently Asian to me, so I never think of its coming from anywhere else.

Remainder:
• 22A: Socrates or Pythagoras, e.g. (Ancient) - as a noun ... interesting.
• 23A: Mangle by mastication (chew up) - the puzzle must have its alliteration!
• 32A: West Flanders site of three W.W. I battles (Ypres) - one of two great European geography Y-words (YSER being the other).
• 64A: Kensington kiss (snog) - again, alliteration drives the clue; then there's 52A: Whopper topper (ketchup), where rhyme drives it.
• 66A: Verdant stretches (leas) - not VIRID stretches?
• 68A: Gallic toppers (berets) - "Gallic" is the puzzle's favorite substitute word for "French."
• 73A: One of Luther's 95 (thesis) - nailed to a church door in Wittenberg, or so legend has it.
• 78A: Great Trek trekker (Sulu)
• 84A: Badge awarder: Abbr. (BSA) - used to be badger awarders, but the bloodshed and lawsuits put a stop to that.
• 106A: Pulitzer-winning journalist Seymour (Hersh) - really unsure who this is.
• 107A: "Swept Away" director Guy (Ritchie) - sadly, I know exactly who this is.
• 120A: Home of the Cadillac Ranch (Amarillo) - got this confused with the Mustang Ranch, I think.
• 124A: "Rama Lama Ding Dong" singers, with "the" (Edsels) - really? The EDSELS??? Were they a total failure too?
• 128A: Drug company once headed by Donald Rumsfeld (Searle) - a long and varied career, that one.
• 12D: Sport for rikishi (sumo) - had JUDO at one point.
• 16D: Some shapes in topology (tori) - a plural beloved of mathematicians everywhere.
• 17D: New newts (efts) - one of those Crosswording 101 words that looks weird the first time you see it and then becomes so familiar to you that you hardly notice it.
• 21D: Old car with the slogan "We are driven" (Datsun) - Subaru was "Driven by what's inside."
• 29D: Sunroof and spoilers, e.g. (options) - you know, for your DATSUN.
• 58D: Apothecary container (vial) - I think I learned this word from D&D.
• 83D: How the Great Sphinx looks (awesome)
• 85D: Gerald's predecessor (Spiro) - Memo to self: get SPIRO watch fixed!
• 90D: Forerunner of K.G.B. (O.G.P.U.) - a now familiar abbrev. I assume it's not an acronym, as I can't imagine anyone's saying OGPU with a straight face.
• 98D: Weekly with 30+ million circulation ("Parade") - damn, 30 million? That is Huge. And it's soooo crappy. I had "PEOPLE" here at first.
• 101D: Monkey predator (ocelot) - best OCELOT clue ever.
• 106D: Playground quarry (hider) - another fantastic clue. I used to love playing "Hide and Seek ... Your Quarry!"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS various announcements of a crosswording nature:
1. If you live in or near NYC, support Obama, and admire the work of artist Emily Jo Cureton (see my recent interview with her), you'll want to check out "A Show Called Hope" at the Hope Lounge in Brooklyn on Wednesday, October 15th, 7pm - 3am. It's the night of the last presidential debate. Emily's work will be on display. For more information, go here.
2. The NY Sun newspaper folded, but its first-rate puzzle lives on. A message from editor Peter Gordon: "The Sun may have set, but not the crossword. I had many puzzles in the pipeline when the paper folded, so I will be publishing them online. Go to cruciverb.com sometime this weekend to find out where to get them. There will be 108 puzzles starting with October 1 and running until February 27. The cost will be \$12 (plus maybe \$0.67 to cover the PayPal fee) for all 108 of them. I'm hoping to get over 2000 subscribers so that I can pay the authors their fees and still make it worth my time. If I don't get that by January, then it will stop on February 27. If I do, then it can go on indefinitely. So spread the word! For the first week or two, the puzzles will be free at cruciverb until everyone knows where to go."
3. Puzzle creator Justin Smith has started a new puzzle site - check it out here (link added to sidebar)

~RP

Orange

OK, I see your bait, Rex. I'll bite. The [Great Trek trekker] is a BOER and not Mr. SULU. Warm nuptial congratulations to Californian George Takei, though.

Parade has a huge circulation, but how big is its readership? I bet millions of newspaper readers chuck Parade right into the recycle bin. Maybe they read the celeb stuff at the beginning and end, but all the stuff in the middle? Meh.

Sy HERSH writes a lot of heavy-hitting investigative stuff for the New Yorker. In the last year or so, he had a long article about the evidence that the Bush/Cheney administration's angling towards a war against Iran. The article was too long for me to read.

I saw ORCA at the movies.

Alan

I can;t believe that you called this very ingenious but extremely easy puzzle challenging. This was one of the easiest Sunday puzzles T have ever solved. It even had popular culture ( Bustarhymes) in it. Lets see if any other bloggers agree with me .

Noam D. Elkies

Really fun puzzle, also impressively constructed -- hardly any more black squares in this 23x23 grid than is usual for a 21x21, without the obscure fill that often accompanies such open grids.

I see that Orange beat me to the first punch -- er, comment. I was wondering about "SULU" since I didn't remember seeing that entry, but didn't check the puzzle. I did remember that the Sphinx clue for 83D led not to AWESOME but DUEEAST... which nicely crosses another fresh phrase, 89A:USTROOPS.

Given the supersized grid I thought this was about the right difficulty level for Sunday, but with a welcome proportion of high-end cluing rather than the low-culture trivia that Rex usually goes for, which probably accounts for the divergence in difficulty ratings. I noticed the clue typos, then got 117D:TYPO and wondered where I was supposed to insert a wrong letter into the answers for 28A and 46A. Then realized what's actually going on :-) The theme clues had to be starred because
the shortest ones are shorter than 7D:STYPOELLING and 78D:BUSTARHYMES.

A pair of two-way chemical clues: 51D "like xenon" could be either NOBLE or INERT, and 84D: "The fifth element" could be ETHER as well as the periodic table's BORON.

A few further notes: 92A -- thankfully not another vowel clue (cf. 104A: ANO, for once neither AÑO nor "an O"); 95A: I was sure you knew the name is "U Nu";16D -- I guess mathematicians must get one of every 151 TORIs for the other 150 Amos clues; 45D:INCLOVER -- I've seen the phrase, but where does it come from? 52D:KITS -- never knew that definition; 64D:SERVEOUT -- also seen in tennis, but for once this puzzle went for less familiar sports clues (see 12D:SUMO, 100D:ROTATE); 80D:EBONY from "Key shade" -- piano key, I suppose? The Florida Keys aren't known for ebony shade trees.

Good night,
--NDE

acme

@rex
I'd bet you'd recognize Andy Devine if you googled a pic of him...
(tho for a minute I confused him with Slim Pickens who rode the bomb in Dr. Strangelove).

you are better off avoiding repeated words...but I think they ARE OK if they are split up like that. And, of course, Byron had the whole other level happening in the clueing as well.
Ain't he something?!

acme

@nde
As for U Nu, may I be the first, tho probably not the last, to say
"Who nu?"

Maybe he's now changed his name to
My An Mar Ram Na Ym.

thank U and good night. I'll be here all week! ;)

fpbear

Enjoyed the puzzle. Thought it was less than "challenging"; maybe easy medium. However, I'm totally baffled by the incorrect answers in the writeup. Apparently Orange understood immediately. Any hints?

lc

I read in Saturday's NYT that George Jones, who wrote "Rama Lama Ding Dong" and performed it as a member of the Edsels, died on Sept. 27. "Rama Lama" peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1961.

Andy Devine was the ultimate sidekick - Jingles B. Jones(Horse was named Joker)in The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok and Constable Cookie Bullfincher / Dr. Cookie Bullfincher / Judge Cookie Bullfincher in films starring Roy Rogers.

He was also the host of a Children's show Andy's Gang. Froggy , his tormentor.

hereinfranklin

lc:
Rama Lama George Jones not to be confused with country star George Jones who lives down the road bit from me. Most famous in these parts for once being arrested while riding his lawn mower to the liquor store while intoxicated. Wife Tammy Wynette had hidden the car keys.

imsdave1

Got the first part of theme instantly and the second part, after I waw finishied. I rated a medium and was impressed with the lack of crap fill and the beautifully executed theme.

Anyone else get stuck for a while with PRIMAL instead of ANIMAL, and ALIAS for PRIOR?

@Orange - I do kind of like the 'Ask Marilyn' column in PARADE. It's often very clever.

Anonymous

Seymour Hersh is the guy who blew the lid off the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. It was also his articles that exposed the abuses Abu Ghraib , and was the very first to report that the Bush administration was spoiling for a fight with Iran, back when people thought that was unfathomable. He is an extraordinary journalist.

ArtLvr

Medium challenging for me, with no pattern for the kind of TYPO meant -- vowel change here, consonant there. And some of the theme answers had P-P alliteration, but others only the second word starting with PO to accommodate the theme. DIRTYPOOL crossing PENALTYPOINTS at the heart of things was one of my favorites.

I fell for Rex's humorous typos too; soory, Rex... Still, it was an amazing tour de force. Nice to see EINSTEIN again, and I knew of the awesome HERSH too. I'm just glad it didn't take all day!

@ acme -- thanx, love your "who nu?"

∑;)

Karen

Alan, I thought it was challenging. I got particularly stuck in the Georgia region, with unfamiliar names HERSH and LISA and Busta. DUE EAST surprised me, I was looking for enigmatically. I thought SEARLE was part of the mattress triumvirate, not the drug companies (I put down Sanofi).

And the German wine left me a blank for LASH; I kept thinking lid as a hat, not an eyelid.

After getting to 117D I looked at the answers again, trying to see if I should have left an incorrect square in the answers. I got the typos in the clues at UNIVERSITY POST. Clever puzzle.

Janie

poor rex! can't win fer losin' when it comes to that rating system. even relative to other sundays, this was by no means a "challenging" puzzle for me -- and i am a below-the-median solver..... but, as i've often said here, that's what makes horse races! ;-)

loved the (cryptic) way the theme was married to the theme fill; and the way the clues carried out the theme's mission.

all-in-all, one seriously cohesive piece of construction, providing a giant-sized, pleasure-filled experience for the solver! imoo...

;-)

janie

biffer

83D is DUE EAST, not AWESOME

joho

@fpbear: Rex was just trying to see if you're paying attention. He knows AWESOME & SULU are wrong ... just checking to be sure you knew the "right" answer.

@Alan: I do not agree with you or @janie: this was definitely challenging ... at least to me. Even after filling in every square correctly, I did not see TYPO in the answers as I was trying desperately to find which letter was wrong as in the clue.

Hardest Sunday puzzle in many moons and the most interesting and enjoyable.

Great job Byron Walden!

JoefromMtVernon

Morning all:

Lots of annoyances led to a longer time spent on this puzzle. Because I tend to misread clues, I read Gurnsey Bull as Gurnsey Bill, entered twentypoundnote, where typo leapt off the page.

Silly things like RTS instead of RDS, ents instead of efts, iola instead of ione threw me.

All in all, very enjoyable.

BTW, Andy Devine was also involved in several Disney movies. He had this gravelly voice; I'm sure if you heard it, you'd say "that's him."

Joe

bill from fl

I would have said it wasn't all that hard, except that I ended up with VIRIT and RTS. Plus, I didn't see that TYPO was in all of the theme answers until I came here; I even spent several minutes trying to find misspellings in those answers. I'd say that was missing something pretty basic to the theme. Overall, I agree that it was a brilliantly constructed and enjoyable puzzle.

Orange

@imsdave: Oh, honey, no! You gotta read this about Marilyn vos Savant (birth name: Marilyn Mach). Sometimes she is just plain wrong. If she's so smart, how come she wrote a book about mathematics without having a correct understanding of the specific topic? Plus: Naming oneself "Savant" is ridiculous.

treedweller

@ Orange
I am a little embarrassed to admit it, but I do flip through Parade each week. First I mentally mock the Q&A inside the first page (who'd the bigger moron: the people who ask the questions, or the idiot who answers?), then scan past the insipid infill to find Marilyn and the comics (not to say these are not insipid, as well). I'm not sure why. In something like 30 years' worth of "Howard Huge," I don't think I've ever gotten a chuckle. Such is my relationship with the comics (I also read "BC" every day; not only is it never funny, it frequently enrages me by either being overly partisan, overly religious, overly stupid, or all three at once).

As for the puzzle, I was soundly defeated. I really have to stop attempting these things late at night. That's not meant as a criticism, of course--if they were always easy, I doubt I'd enjoy them as much. I'm very impressed by the execution and enjoyed the parts I was able to finish. I think I managed about 70% before I started cheating, all the while expecting to go back to the theme answers and insert an error somewhere.

chefbea1

I agree with joho hardest sunday puzzle ever. I couldnt get the theme, couldn't finnish the puzzle so just quit and came here.

I knew Andy Devine. Love paella, served with rice, and leaf thru Parade magazine every week, looking for recipes and of course Howard Huge and an occasional joke or riddle.

Anonymous

U Nu was a PM of Burma( before name change) and the Secretary General of the United Nations

miriam b

Exhilarating puzzle! A tour de force! I didn't see the TYPOs in the answers until the 117D clue led the way.

@orange: For years I'd thought that our Marilyn had once been married to someone called vos Savant. I thought Jarvik was spouse #2, or maybe #(x + 1).

Debsanger

And how about the typo for "typo" in 7 down?

Norm

Brilliant puzzle, and I didn't even catch the second aspect of "typo" until the end. Was expecting all sorts of comments on bad proofreading. Doh! This was the most fun being fooled I've had in a long time.

PhillySolver

The great city of Philadelphia casts its ballot for the incumbent, "Challenging." Its 23x23 and as lively as you could reasonably expect. Great puzzle and filled with the type of errors that plague my lfie. ;)

jeff in chicago

OK...it's not April Fool's Day, so what's up? Rex and many solvers whose skills I aspire to (chefbea, treedweller, joho, philly, etc) all call this challenging. Are you all trying to make me feel good? Don't answer. I'll just hang on to this feeling for a while.

Loved, loved, loved this puzzle. Had several theme answers filled in, and scratching my head at the same time, before I finally saw 117D. "Contained in each answer" made me scan those fills and TYPO jumped out. A-ha! In fact, the best A-Ha moment I've had in a long time. Huge kudos to Byron.

Fave clues are "Russian diet?" and "Spinner for the Spinners"

fikink

I can only think that rating this puzzle "challenging" is a function of age (and, possibly, political persuasion). HERSH and DEVINE were my loopiest of loopers; the interwoven TYPO at 117D allowed me to go back and fill and then return to the clues and exchange "Wet" for "Get" and "force" for "farce" etc.
A wonderful dance! Loved it, Mr. Walden
- and yes, again today, I paused at the clue for PART. Two days in a row!
(audible)

dk

Lovely wife and I did the Homer DOH when we got here and realized typo was in each clue.

MERCYME this was a poser. No real SNAGS except for the lower right and STATORS and the POSTER part of 111a. It was just, well, challenging.

Thus, I side with the usual suspects and agree with the rating. At least we did not have the Stroop Effect as 8a was ACROSS.

EINSTEIN, the new Tiegs cum Apu.

imsdave1

@jeff - I think the key to the difficuley of all puzzles is personal experience. Today, not a problem for me, yesterday, I was shocked by the easy verdict. Oh well.

@Orange - I never bought into that IQ stuff with Marilyn, just enjoy some of the word puzzles from time to time.

@chefbea - making my beef stew today with 1/3 stock, 1/3 tomato sauce, 1/3 RED wine - am I a heretic?

chefbea1

@imsdave sounds good to me!! Getting to be stew weather. Was in the 40's here. Time to bring the plants inside.

Doug

I really disliked this one, I hate to say. Nothing clicked, and I really haven't bothered to figure out the theme, which I'm glad that many loved. The top half wasn't hard, but the bottom half required a LOAD of specific knowledge: IONE, PEAS, BOER, DUMA, RICEBELT, UNU, COROT, HERSH, AMARILLO, EDSELS, ELEGISTS, SEARLE, STATORS, TOMTITS, BUSTA, OGPU, THECELL,
PARADE, OCELOT, LISA, etc. An enigma of naticky marbling if you ask me!

Enough ranting, and onto next week....

Orange

Doug, Doug, Doug: It's not "Naticky" unless there's a wicked crossing that a lot of people can't get. Given all the people disputing the "challenging" tag, I think that's not the case. More importantly: How did you feel about learning these tidbits about Indian food, prominent journalists, magazine trivia, painters, and world history? Is your life worse for it?

steve l

My only problem with the puzzle is that I always had the impression is that a TYPO was inadvertent (TYPOgraphical error). If it is put there deliberately, is it really a TYPO?

mac

This was a beauty, enjoyed the whole puzzke, and learned a few things to boot: Busta Rhymes, stators, dirty pool, secondo and data flow. Most was reasonable easy to get, but it took me a long time to finish from the boer down to Hersh, although those two were gimmes. Odd how Einstein, kit and part were in the puzzle so recently. On the way back from New York I heard some recommendations on how tow save on your utily bills, and one was not to PRERINSE.
Some beautiful words, like behoove, mercy me (makes me think of a lovely old lady who died last year), petitgris, ricebelt and iron alloy.

@debsanger: cute!

@Orange: I saw Marilyn on tv once and she was annoying and full of herself.

I hope Ulrich is going to comment on this, but Spatlese is spelled with an umlaut on the a, so it really should have said Spaetlese.

Thanks for the entertainment Rex and puzzlefriends, that was a good time on a grey Sunday afternoon. Oh, here comes the sun.

Hi Bill and Barbara

Blue Stater

I think Haloscan swallowed my comment, so apologies if this appears twice (and I'll try to keep my story straight).

I'm with you, Doug; I really disliked this one, though I usually do dislike Byron Walden's puzzles, which the Brit term "too clever by half' might well have been invented to describe. As I recall, we've had this kind before, where we learn deep in the puzzle that mistakes are an organizing principle. Fine for Games magazine; wholly inappropriate for the NYT, in my view.

I object to 83D, "How the Great Sphinx looks," DUEEAST. That's *where* it looks (I guess), not *how* it looks. This answer, especially considering its location amid other gnarliness like BUSTARHYMES (new to me, but most of that stuff is), J-Lo's thriller, and one of the gimmick answers, strikes me as over the line.

And (I refer now to comments, not the puzzle) wasn't U Thant, not U Nu, secretary-general of the UN?

physsciteacher

As a commentator said earlier I am a "below the median" solver. I found this puzzle to be about a medium challenging, but I must agree with many before me that it was one of my favorite Sundays in a long time.

I luckily stumbled upon the TYPO theme early on because I happened to see a TYP combination in a few of my theme answers. I also misread FIRM for FILM and figured out the PRETTY POISON answer right away.

But I was totally stumped by DUE EAST (Great Sphinx look)and have to pay respects to Byron Walden for a brilliant clue.

miriam b

@bluestater: Yes, U Thant was Sec'y Gen. of the UN. U Nu, also from what was then Burma, was its first prime minister. "U" is an honorific, like "Mr." I understand that it literally means "uncle."

imsdave

To my friends, this computer that I'm working on is about to die - please comment on my blog re:Mac v PC. (off topic I know, but want to make the right call on by next purchase). Forgive the indiscretion,

Alan

to imsdave: Get a mac, they are magnificent.

Noam D. Elkies

debsanger @12:48 wrote:

> And how about the typo for "typo" in 7 down?

Ahem -- see my rendition of that entry @1:04AM ;-)

NDE

Shamik

I'm of the vote for calling it challenging and ended up with 3 wrong letters in areas, I couldn't have figured it out if I tried. Noticed the "typos" in the clues, but never got the second part. This one kicked me, big time. But a lot of good and unusual answers in it. I rate it a 9.5 'cause I'm still grumpy about not solving it.

MANET or MONET for COROT
MYSTARS for MERCYME
SHOO for SCAT
JAWS for ORCA
RATIO for RANGE

Had DUOA for DUMA crossed with TOOTITS (who nows about the Brits!).

Also TREATYCORT and PETITCRIS with OCCU.

Oh well, there's always Monday to look forward to!

Anonymous

This one made me grumpy, too. I usually do better with the themes. I got 1/2 of the theme (typos in the clues) after 1/2 of the puzzle was complete. The "typo" within the answers didn't come to me until near the end. Until then I was baffled. When I finally got it, I got grouchy.

It seemed to me that the longer clues were more like Friday or Saturday than Thursday plus. I'm glad that there were those who liked it and found it easy. I vote for challenging.
Teresa

Anonymous

Will Shortz and the NYTimes crossword have reached a new low - 10 typos in a puzzle should be unacceptable! And what's up with all those repeated typos in the grid?

While I am at it, that Byron Walden guy needs to get more words in his vocabulary - how dare he publish a 23 x 23 and repeat some of the words. Also, spins as an answer and spinners (twice) in the clue.

I want my money back.

JimG

wendy

Orange - I sent Marilyn vos Savant a question once and she answered it more than 2 years later. I was rather amazed at how many people told me they saw it.

sillygoose

I saw that TYPO appeared in the answers but just couldn't understand why the answers weren't matching the clues. Geez.

I had twentypoundnote but was not EVER going to figure out that the clue was supposed to say 'Guernsey bill'. I also had celebritypoker and wasn't understanding that one either. So, total puzzle failure for me.

Yesterday I teamed up with my father and we blazed through that Saturday without any trouble. Of course, it is really just a dressed up Tuesday, but still, we were proud of ourselves.

Until today. I am still trying to explain the gimmick to him (but that could be a hearing aid issue).
:-)

Michael

I thought this was a wonderful puzzle and not particularly hard.

Marilyn was right about the Monte Hall problem. But I can't imagine why she'd try to criticize the famously complex proof of Fermat's last theorem...

Alex

I got ACCURACY immediately but screamed on the inside because of a high school chemistry teacher who was extremely anal about how we used the words ACCURACY and PRECISION and did not view them as synonomous.

"To say," he'd say, "that there are 423.312117754 days in a year is extremely precise and very inaccurate. And to say that there are 365 is accurate but not very precise. Now, hopefully your answers will be both accurate and precise but if you can only give me one, go for accurate."

I know that has nothing to do with common uses of the words but it hurt me nonetheless.

william e emba

In re 51D, xenon is not INERT. This is a flat-out error on the puzzle's part. Its lack of inertness had been theoretically predicted by Linus Pauling in the 30s, and has been experimentally known since the early 60s, when Neil Bartlett synthesized the first xenon compounds.

It's considered something of an embarrassment that Bartlett, who died this summer, did not win the Nobel prize.

Helium and neon are the only INERT elements. The rightmost column of the periodic table was long ago renamed to the "noble gases".

U NU used to be fairly common crosswordese.

I remembered Seymour HERSH from his book on flight KAL 007 The Target is Destroyed and his book on Israel's nuclear program The Samson Option. The only difficulty I had was I kept confusing him with Reuben HERSCH, who writes popular books on mathematics, so I held off entering any answer, thinking I must be remembering the wrong Seymour.

When I saw the stars on several clues, I looked near the bottom of for a reference to "starred clues", found it, and was unable to make any headway there.

On the other hand, I saw TYPO embedded immediately, once I finally had a theme answer. Of course, I was looking for it, since the title of the puzzle was FAULT-FINDING. I'm a bit surprised that no one else seems to have been tipped off.

I eventually remembered to put TYPO in for 117D, and kicked myself later for not rereading the clue. I ended up puzzling out the second TYPO by brute force thinking.

I personally rate the puzzle medium-difficult only. This was from the cluing and the fill, not the theme answers.

Anonymous

My trouble came when I thought there would be an actual "typo" in the theme answers. (Not the WORD Typo). I spent 45 minutes trying to figure out what letter was incorrect in twentypoundnote, never seeing the T-Y-P-O right there in the middle. Boy I feel sooooooo stupid!

Citizen Mundane

Enjoyed the puzzle quite a bit... I had forgotten that Einstein used to work in a patent office... smart little clerk, that one... I don't get the NYT, I don't do the puzzle online; for whatever reason, the NYT Sunday puzzle has been appearing every wednesday in a weekly community newspaper... I am SURE I am the only person who actually looks forward to getting this thing... however, this week they must have sold some last minute ad space, and decided to shrink the puzzle by a factor just enough to make certain serifs and lines invisible, as well as many of the numbers.. quite fun... i may have to sue them to the damage they caused my eyes... Alex, loved the accurate and precise story...

boardbtr

From syndication land - I, as Alex, had a teacher that would not permit accuracy and precision to be used interchangeably. On another note, I grew up in Texarkana and I have to say that I do not recall hearing of rice as a topic of civic pride. I am not sure where that clue comes from.

Anonymous

I went to school with Andy Devine's son, Dennis Devine (Van Nuys High in California). He was the envy of all us seniors when his dad bought him a 1957 Chevy for graduation. Ah, memories from the NYT Puzzle. On topic, I had to just give up and come to the blog when I could NOT find the "wrong letter" to put in the answers!
MaryPatOregon

kas

Took awhile to get the them, but the answers came fairly easily.

Anonymous

Re the repeated words some complained about: the 'jackets' in 38D (etons) and the 'jackets' in 40D (boleros) were traps sprung in 68D 'jacket material' (blurb).

Syndication: Hardest puzzle for me in a while. Didn't get there were TYPO in each answer until I came here. Did get that there were typos in the clues.

I guess not getting the theme makes it very hard. And when the great trek trekker wasn't Sulu, I was very disappointed. Liked all the jackets.

I was able to complete the puzzle without ever discerning the fact that "typo" was in each of the starred answers, although I did pick up on the fact that each clue contained a typo. However, I didn't have faith that virid and stators were correct until I came to Rex's site. Usually if Rex calls it challenging, it's one I haven't been able to finish.

Andy Devine came easily to those who grew up on 1950s tv, and I knew about the rice belt from having driven through that area once.
Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska Senator, initially was appointed to the post by her father, who at the time was the Governor of Alaska. He was the sitting Governor that Sarah Palin defeated in the Republican primary when she took on the good ol' boys. (I was living in Alaska at the time.)

mathias

The puzzle runs a week late in Honolulu. And they added some puzzlement this week by failing to print the bottom of the page. 94A: "whose name means 'small gray." 99D: "instincts" 69D: "counting rhyme." No 29D or 100D at all. Still managed to get it all in only four days, except "uno," which I didn't notice I had missed the "u" of--wouldn't have guessed right anyway.

auntie1961

I'm new to the Sunday Times Crossword so I found this very challenging but fun. And having lived in Texarkana all my life, I have no idea where "rice belt" came from. Texarkana is not known for rice.