Science writer Willy —SUNDAY, Jul. 13 2009— Sweet stream in Burns poem / 1950s Hungarian premier Nagy / Literary heroine whose best friend is goatherd

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Very Easy

THEME: "Links to the Past" — "NOTE: When this puzzle is done, interpret the answers to the seven starred clues literally, in order from top to bottom." If you follow the note's directions, you end up with the word HISTORY.

Word of the Day: Willy LEY (121D: Science writer Willy) — (December 2, 1906 - June 24, 1969) was a German-American science writer and space advocate who helped popularize rocketry and spaceflight in both Germany and the United States. The crater Ley on the far side of the Moon is named in his honor. (wikipedia) // Last time I saw him, two years ago, he was clued [Writer Willy who popularized space flight]

The easiest NYT Sunday I've ever solved, and I know I'm not alone on this. Under ten minutes!? Maybe I once did a Newsday or an LAT Sunday that fast, but not a NYT. There were virtually no pockets of resistance in the entire thing. The theme was a total afterthought, as there was no need to know it in order to solve well ... in fact, knowing couldn't really have helped you at all. And why is HISTORY being ... honored? I'm guessing you could use this type of theme to spell out all kinds of words, like PUPPIES or MELLIFLUOUS or something. I see that the middle theme answer is BEGINNING OF TIME, and I guess HISTORY stretches from the BEGINNING OF TIME til now, but ... I'm still left wondering what the point is. Where's my Bastille Day puzzle!?

Theme answers:

  • 23A: *Boondocks (middle of nowHere)
  • 34A: *Ambulance destination (medIcal center)
  • 50A: *Imam or priest (Spiritual leader)
  • 69A: *When the heavens and earth were created (beginning of Time) — "created?" Really?
  • 87A: *Deputy (second-in-cOmmand)
  • 103A: *Week after Christmas (end of DecembeR)
  • 118A: *Lights out in New York City (BroadwaY closing)

I like that none of the positional words repeat. That's a nice touch.

Here was the big roadblock of the day: I had ---ID at 99A: Strait-laced and wrote in STAID. The answer was RIGID. STAID seemed so much the better answer (and still does), that I didn't remove it until 81D: Events that are barrels of fun? (beerfests) absolutely forced my hand. BEERFESTS, by the way — nice. Other unusual non-theme answers that I enjoyed included MEDIA BLITZ (3D: Publicity push), LOW GEAR (112A: 1, to a trucker), and GERBIL (100D: Playful rodent), which I don't recall ever seeing in a puzzle before. Cute. Despite the puzzle's intense easiness, there were a number of answers I didn't know. I didn't remember LEY (see "Word of the Day," above). I didn't know this ANNE person (36D: _____ Page, woman in "The Merry Wives of Windsor") — I taught Shakespeare last year, but it's been 20+ years since I've read "Merry Wives." I educatedly guessed at AFTON (76A: "Sweet" stream in a Burns poem). Sounded familiar, and we have a town nearby named AFTON. The TV ad for their golf course tells you that it is NOT FA from this area's major population center. Get it? NOT FA. NOT FAR? ... it's AFTON backwards. We basically call AFTON "NOT FA" now. When we have occasion to refer to AFTON, which is virtually never. I had never heard of AZ before today, but T.I., I know well. He RAPS (48A: Emulates AZ or T.I.). Here's T.I.'s great song "Whatever You Like" ... followed by Weird Al's great parody. If you are offended by references to sex and obscenely conspicuous consumption, you won't want to click on the first one:


  • 26A: Former presidential candidate in the Forbes 400 (Perot) — Dana Carvey as PEROT / Phil Hartman as Stockdale .... that duo was one of the few wonderful things about 1992. Besides the election, the only other event I remember was war in Balkans. Perpetual war. CNN's Lynne Russell saying "Bosnia-Herzegovina" over and over and over.
  • 37A: Group of genetically related organisms (biotype) — I just inferred this one. Not a word I hear used often / ever.
  • 54A: 1986 Indy winner Bobby (Rahal) — practically crosswordese. His prominence can be partially explained by the dearth of R-H-- words in English. Unless you wanna go to REHAB, you're riding with RAHAL.
  • 58A: Literary heroine whose best friend is a goatherd (Heidi) — First guess! You sometimes see author's name in the puzzle too: SPYRI!
  • 72A: Car driven by James Bond in "Octopussy," for short (Alfa) — as in Romeo. I'm surprised I have not seen connections between this movie and the Octomom used to comic effect.
  • 77A: Roadie's armful (amp) — not "groupie"
  • 86A: Material with a distinctive diagonal weave (serge) — fabric / pattern terms always baffle me. TUILE and TOILE and TWILL and TWOLL ... and SERGE and whatever. I wait for a few crosses and then just go with my gut.
  • 95A: Grandfathers of III's (Srs.) — my brilliant move of the day. I wrote in IVS. That's wrong in at least two ways.
  • 4D: Group with the 22x platinum album "Back in Black" (AC/DC) Iconic.
  • 16D: Worrisome sight on the Spanish Main (pirate ship) — great answer. Would a reference to the Somalian coast have been too dark for a Sunday a.m.?
  • 17D: Bee's target (clover) — really wanted this to be SPELLING or QUILT.
  • 24D: O'Brien's predecessor (Leno) — for about five weeks now. Opening segment of his very first show made me happy beyond belief. I may have posted it before, but I don't care. REDUNDANT! (46D: Pleonastic)

  • 30D: Birthplace of James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson: Abbr. (N. Car.) — I did not know that.
  • 38D: 1950s Hungarian premier _____ Nagy (Imre) — Thanks to xwords, I *did* know that.
  • 66D: Cousin of a raccoon (coati) — so cute.
  • 69D: Forehead coverer (bangs) — they're singular ... sort of.
  • 49D: Former Swedish P.M. Olof _____ (Palme) — PSST! (42D: "Hey there!") .... PALM is already in the grid (42A: It's within your grasp).

Time now for Tweets of the Week (assorted crossword-related Twitter posts):

  • jkru finishing a crossword in a bed that is not inflatable = WIN.
  • ostroffj Turns out I still suck at the NYT Sunday crossword. Even when it's written by a Carleton alumna.
  • CJCisMe oh my god, I got a snuggie for my birthday. may my slippery blanket, heating bills, and cold crossword puzzle days be over.
  • DarthShayan sitting on table tryna do a crossword - and i say - damn this is hard - girl next to me goes - thats what I said. embarresment ensues!
  • jenniferweiner My name is a clue and one of my books an answer in today's NYT x-word. Neat! Also: does this count as Times coverage of chick lit? Sort of?
  • doctorshaw 70% done with today's #crossword, looking like I might finish... getting nervous like Andy Roddick in his second set tiebreak last week
  • jooordan Got called out for cheating on my crossword puzzle by the Starbucks barista, ha ha.
  • kristymontee Cheated on the NYT crossword today. I feel cheap and tawdry.
  • goatneck having to work is really cutting into my crossword puzzle time.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. Hey, if you get the paper version of the NYT, check your Style section. There should be an article on the demise of newspaper/magazine puzzles. Several readers of this blog featured. Be sure to read to the end for the punchline, unwittingly provided by yours truly. Read the article here:

P.P.S. Morning e-mail from my mom:


I worked ten hours yesterday so did not read the comments on your blog until this morning. My son's name in the NYT even if it is a bathroom comment is a great way to start my Sunday.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.

I love you.



JannieB 9:31 AM  

First I couldn't get into the online version of the Times, now Blogger refused my comment. This doesn't bode well for Sunday.

As for the puzzle, I prefer the wordplay during the solve not after. I didn't even bother to figure out the gimmick. I see that it's well crafted (thanks, Rex) but it still rated a big "so what?" from me.

This was way too easy for a Sunday, despite some nice fresh fill.

Crosscan 9:41 AM  

Easy, fast, done.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

Well, not "very easy" for me. APIA, IMRE, COATI, AFTON.. all new to my small brain.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

Well, not "very easy" for me. APIA, IMRE, COATI, AFTON.. all new to my small brain.

chefbea 10:06 AM  

Very very easy. Had it finnished before the blog was up.

Just was in the place where James K Polk was born - no one told us that it was a claim to fame.

Yummm - apple tart.Have a few great recipes.

Great write up in the times Rex!!!

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

Must be lots of crosswordisms or something. I've finished every sunday puzzle this year in 45-75 minutes, usually over lots of kid distraction, but gave up on this one with a lot of empty squares left. Among the irritants that didn't register: standing by = on ice, unpaid debt = on us; "open stars" having a question mark, suggesting it was something more obscure than "seeds." Also annoyed by sites (huh?), taz, afton, coati, netty. And I still don't get how one would pull out the particular letters that spell history. Guess I had too much wine last night or something...

Alex 10:16 AM  

I've visited the only non-White House residence of Polk that still exists (it's in Columbia, Tennessee) and for some reason him being born in NCAR is something that stuck to a brain wrinkle.

Extremely easy Sunday though END OF DECEMBER and BROADWAY CLOSING don't feel like standalone phrases like the other theme answers but maybe they are to other people.

Figured out the theme on just the first theme answer but had forgotten about it by the time I finished the puzzle and never looked to see what word was hidden in there.

With a puzzle this easy surely there was room to get rid of NETTY. That hurt hurts my ears just out of fear it might be said out loud.

retired_chemist 10:25 AM  

A big ??? to the theme. I get it, after explanation, but it didn’t have anything to do with my solving. And mostly a meh puzzle to boot, albeit easy.

Clues/answers I liked: 101A field for fault finders–> GEOLOGY, 119D bringing home-> RBI, 54A 1986 Indy winner RAHAL (you had UNSER too, didn’t you?), and…… and…… oh, one RP reminded me I liked: 46D Pleonastic -> REDUNDANT.

Clues/answers I didn’t like: 1 to a trucker -> LOW GEAR (true for our SUVs and probably most/all cars too), 128A Like mesh -> NETTY (it’s just UGLY), and….. and…..

Clues which were ok but didn’t make me smile: the rest.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 10:54 AM  

I saw a family of coatimundis in the forest section of Iguazu Falls and I can attest they are The Cutest Animals I Have Ever Seen. Debated about kidnapping one. (Is that TWO references to my Argentina trip in as many days; yes, I believe it is.)

Ulrich 11:02 AM  

I, for one, did use the theme in solving. Guessed HISTORY with the S and Y not yet in the grid. Had ****L LEADER, and now knew that the phrase had to start with an S--so, SPIRITUAL fell into place. Similarly with the Y--I now knew that the phrase had to contain a Y, and after I got BROADWAY, I was looking for something expressing "at the end". So, there!

This experience shows that solving at a leisurely pace, taking time out to contemplate the larger picture, has its rewards. Plus, I'm very fond of self-referential stuff, and so, in conclusion, I liked the theme and, by extension, the puzzle.

Denise 11:09 AM  

We had a sad chapter of our lives having GERBILS as pets -- suffice it to say that the girls learned what they needed to learn about death (& homicide).

Never figured out what the *** were for.

I am one who was very sad to lose the Washington Post Saturday acrostic.

BTW, I loved the description of VIRGO. As am I.

Ulrich 11:14 AM  

...and about Bobby Rahal: He now owns a Mercedes dealership in Pittsburgh (or at least he did when I lived there), and a classy outfit it is. I once brought in my C220 with an engine problem, which they fixed for $30--only they didn't. Had to bring it back twice, for multi-day stays and repairs involving valve jobs and all sorts of other things that would have amounted to a bill in the thousands. But they did it all for the original $30--they had guaranteed it, and they stood by their word. The car has now 160,000 + miles, and the engine is still purring like a kitten

Shaw 11:15 AM  

Disagree: "in fact, knowing couldn't really have helped you at all." After I got the first two theme answers I guessed history and wrote down the last five with an otherwise blank grid. (Though I did have the more awkward BROADWAY'S ENDING until I actually got down there).

Also, annoyed with no context in 108A - G is Sol if and only if you are playing the C-scale. It's like saying "9 is the largest number"... sure it is, if you're limiting yourself to a phone keypad.

pednsg 11:15 AM  

Rex - great line at the end of the Styles article! After becoming one of the last people on earth to get a Blackberry-type device a few weeks ago, I was yelled at through the bathroom door by my wife, who quickly surmised that I either had dysentery, or else was doing some porcelain surfing...

Boy - I hope ther are a few others who didn't think this was too easy! Though do-able, there were a few problem areas. How are SEEDS "open stars??" Got it from the crosses, but I have no idea what it means.

The last letter in the NETTY / LEY cross was a guess. I can't believe that that's a word, with no disrepect to Mr. Ley, who could have easily been Mr. Lee. The only post-puzzle references to "netty" that I could find relate to a bathroom or toilet, or some device to help with sinus congestion. Didn't care for CARESS as a love sign, either (is a caress a sign??). And where are BIDETs fixtures? Granted, I don't get out (of the country) much, but do people still use these things? With Charmin as soft and plentiful as it is (esp after a Costco run), are these things being used?

Despite my whining, I still enjoyed this, and until I ever sit down to construct one myself (and likely more so afterwards), I'll continue to have enormous respect and gratitude for anyone clever enough to figure out how to come up with a theme, and execute it so smoothly, for our benefit. Thanks!

poc 11:38 AM  

I found this easy rather than very easy. Agree with Rex about the theme. A theme should (IMHO) help or hinder the solver.

BTW, this is the first time I have ever clicked on one of Rex's embedded clips (the Leno one, or is it the O'Brien one? I can't tell). All I get is a message to go to, which of course is not usable from outside the US.

jae 12:01 PM  

I thought I might be getting really good at this but no, it was just very easy. The theme was pretty clever but no help to me in solving. Rex's style section comment is the reason I print the puzzles out instead of doing them online. I like my puzzle to be light and portable!

@pednsg -- think tennis tournament where the top seeds are stars.

jeff in chicago 12:13 PM  

This was all right by me. MEDIABLITZ and PIRATESHIP were great fill. My last letter was the E in the cross of ANOMIE (which I didn't know) and SEEDS (which I still don't get either. Can someone explain?) I saw quickly that the theme fill had "positions" in them, so that did help a bit in figuring out subsequent answers. And I can appreciate the construction effort. In the end, though, there was still just an "OK...but why?"

Thought the clue for AMP was odd. I was Pistol in "Merry Wives" a couple years ago so ANNE Page was a gimme. Like "Field for a fault-finder" as a clue very much.

AC/DC's "Back in Black" is the second biggest-selling album of all time, but lags far behind the leader, which we heard quite a bit about this past week. "Back in Black" sold 45 million copies, compared to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" at 109 million. (FYI: Meat Loaf's "Bat Out of Hell" is #3 with 43 million.)

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

Seeds = top ranked players in, for example, U.S. Open tennis tournament.

jeff in chicago 12:17 PM  

@jae: ahhhh..seeds/open....thanks!

obertb 12:25 PM  

CNN's Lynne Russell saying ANYTHING. Never could concentrate on the news when she was reading it.

Anne 12:43 PM  

Ten minutes to finish this? Only in my dreams. BUT I did finish, even though I googled twice (for Palme and Rahal, neither of whom I have ever heard of) and I was tired of staring at that section.

And I really liked the theme, I think history is so important that you don't really need a reason to bring it up. Some of our leaders should have the word stamped on their forehead.

And I haven't said this in awhile, but I really love this blog. The comments have been really good over the last week (in my opinion). I'm always learning something new. So thanks to everyone.

joho 12:54 PM  

My hunch is that this puzzle won't make HISTORY. Oh, wait, it already did.

Not enough to chew on for my Sunday puzzle. I did appreciate the feat of construction but the payoff just wasn't big enough.

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

Puzzle was easy. I didnt use the theme at all - more of an afterthought. BIDET is more of a European bathroom fixture, I have never seen one in the USA. Also, can someone plese explain how Children = ISSUE...? I just dont get it. Great quote in the article Rex, I wholeheartedly agree. I love completing the hardcopy on the busride into NYC each morning. BTW, I also love KenKen, which surprised me as I loathe Sudoka

jeff in chicago 1:01 PM  

@Anonymous: "Take her, fair son, and from her blood raise up issue to me, that the contending kingdoms of France and England ... may cease their hatred." - King of France to Henry V, in Shakespeare's "Henry V"

See how I plug my play! Free! Weekends in August! In Evanston!

ArtLvr 1:07 PM  

One error today, because I thought Ralfe would be nice for a Swedish P.M.'s name, but when I needed it to start with the P in RAPS that name came out Palfe not PALME! I'd glommed onto Film instead of Movie Producers, I guess. Ah well.

Otherwise, yes -- fairly easy going. I felt that 96A "Unpaid debt, e.g." was a burden or ONUS, not "ON US" as someone above suggested... Very amusing!

I also enjoyed catching up with yesterday's notes, having agreed with Glitch that an "edge" of a raw wind was the image corresponding to NIP in the air. Driving back from Michigan through the wee hours last night was amazing, with Nature giving off her own colorful fireworks of lightning ahead of us all the way to Albany. No thunder, barely any rain, just incredible gleams and glimmers through the cloud layers beyond the just-past-full moon.

@ Jeff in Chicago -- love your plug, wish I could see you in the play!


Clark 1:08 PM  

I had a solving experience similar to that of @Ulrich and @Shaw. When I read the note, I thought, I'm gonna be agreeing with Rex here: Who cares about interpreting something when the puzzle is done? But when I got MIDDLE OF NOWHERE with some crosses, I figured the word was H I S T O R Y and filled in the rest of the theme answers, except BROADWAY CLOSING, which only came later.

I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle, and it didn't seem all that easy to me, with RAHAL and AFTON and COATI.

ON US is very clever for 'Unpaid debt, e.g.' (@anon); I was thinking it was ONUS as in disagreeable obligation.

@Anon (12:56) -- ISSUE is a legal term for descendants. The clue is a little off, as ISSUE includes not only children but grandchildren, etc.

treedweller 1:41 PM  

Googled for IMRE (again) and PALME (to get RAPS) and still took almost 30 minutes. AFTON and LAING were mysteries that I finally unraveled. AIDA was well hidden from me, but got it from a cross or two. I actually thought it was pretty fun, but would not call it "very easy." The journey to expert solver continues.

The theme was opaque to me, and I never worked up enough interest to care. It is kind of fun, if arbitrary, now that I see it.

Call me petty, but NETTY was vetty painful. I think now I will go to the jetty and practice my guitar, which I suppose must be fretty. On second thought, I'll stay in, as the weather seems thretty. Spellcheck says I should correct a few of those words, but I'm feeling stetty.

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

Thanks Jeff and Clark on the ISSUE issue. In my 49 (50 in 2 weeks!!) I was totally unfamiliar with it. BTW I think the answer is ONUS not ON US. ONUS, as a burden, something hanging over your head. ON US suggests picking up a tab, for example which is reading too deeply into it.
Geez, finished the puzzle so quickly and the Yanks dont come on for over an hour... what am I going to do? The lawn beckons... time to mow. Cheers everyone

chefbea 2:11 PM  

@anon 2:02 I agree. I say onus also

retired_chemist 2:29 PM  

Agree with Anon 2:02 and Chefbea.

Dictionary: onus = something that is one's duty or responsibility. The 96A clue fits ONUS well. ON US is indeed a stretch.

Lili 2:49 PM  

So easy that I didn't bother to figure out the theme, though I, too, originally entered "staid" rather than "rigid."

Regarding the Muses: "Clio" always makes a useful answer from a construction point-of-view, but I'm waiting for the day when a crossword includes "Terpsichore" or even the Muses' mother, Mnemosyne. Now, THAT would fun!

Greene 3:07 PM  

I thought this was a fun puzzle. The theme was kind of gimmicky, but was interesting and inferable after the 4th clue (for me, at least). I love that GREASE crosses with BROADWAY CLOSING.

Far too many closings on Broadway this summer with Waiting for Godot, Blithe Spirit and The Norman Conquests all shuttering this month and The Little Mermaid and Avenue Q scheduled to take their final bows within 6 weeks.

Fortunately there are no fewer than 8 new plays scheduled to open in October (which is pretty amazing given the state of the economy) including Jude Law in Hamlet, Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig in A Steady Rain, and John Stamos in Bye Bye Birdie. Little something for everybody there, I'd say.

@Jeff in Chicago: You are one shameless plugger. I wish I could see your show. My wife was in Chicago last week for convention and loved your city immensely.

Leon 3:31 PM  

Thanks for the memories Mr. Arbesfeld.

Mnemosyne makes it as a partial in 71 down.

Olé, Olé ! Lots of Olés. 9 down and 26 across brought back Mr. Wescott's puzzle of 07/08/09. Lets not forget OLEo.

fikink 3:42 PM  

ISSUE = spawn, as it were.

Thanks to everyone for their good wishes on Friday.

Stan 3:49 PM  

As a child, I had Willy Ley picture books (like "Rockets, Missiles, and Space Travel"), which all seemed mighty cool in the '50s.

@Rex: The "History Never Repeats" video was great! I wouldn't have thought there was such a thing as a Split Enz video. My wife and I were just reading about Neil Finn after Crowded House was on Austin City Limits.

And turning to more contemporary music.... Thanks to this blog and BEQ's puzzles, I now know the difference between T.I. and T-Pain.

Anonymous 4:18 PM  

Did no one else read HIStory as a Michael Jackson reference?

chefwen 4:34 PM  

I didn't think the puzzle was toooo easy, but enjoyable and it moved quickly. My only empty square was the N in AFTON and MNEM, I had made it up to that point googless and wasn't about to stoop. Had circular saw in, and that messed me up for a while, fell into the staid/RIGID trap and san diego before MATEO. Other than those hiccups it all went down smoothly.

foodie 4:38 PM  

Easy puzzle but the theme did help me at least fleetingly. I solved more or less from bottom to top and figured out HISTORY partway through. I had MEDICAL and was blankly staring at the remaining squares when I realized that it had to be an I and CENTER popped in. The irony is-- I really shouldn't need any help with this in particular... I work at a MEDICAL CENTER...

Rex, I love what your mom wrote, probably because it sounds pretty much like what I would have written to my son : ) Also, very cool to see that note from Jennifer Weiner. Chick Lit in the NYTimes-- just what I said! (is this a self-referential paragraph or what?)

The puzzle is typically the highlight of the Sunday Magazine for me, but today, it's the article about Whales. If you haven't seen it:

Blackhawk 4:58 PM  

Easy but interesting puzzle with a fun pay-off. Took me longer to get the "interpretation" than to get most of the clues, so that was a cool "aha" moment. Nice work.

As for Rex's comment to the NYT reporter, I was surprised by how banal it was. It was such a cliched reaction to the question. Was beneath a person who is normally pretty aware of nuance and occasionally a witty writer, at least for an English teacher.

The reality is that in our highly electronic lives spent on PC keyboards and iPhones, solving on paper is simply a great throwback to the earlier era that crosswords themselves represent. It's an active entertainment experience that demands use of brains, cunning, experience, intuition and patience, a huge contrast to the relatively passive experience of TV, movies and books (though each has their own pluses).

For me, the mechanical application of pen or pencil to paper is a big part of the crossword moment, so it would be a real shame if xwords went 100% online.

NY Times editors would probably be dismayed to discover how many times I have bought the paper just for the puzzle, and thrown out most of the rest of the product. (And I'm actually a journalist...)

Rex Parker 5:11 PM  


The reality is, you don't sound like a real journalist. If you were a real journalist, then you'd understand that the single line that got quoted in the paper doesn't much reflect the half-hour conversation I had with the reporter. Strangely, a lot of what got cut from that interview jibes with much of what you say. Not that I'm that thrilled to be agreeing with you about anything.


fikink 5:20 PM  

Blackhawk said, "It's an active entertainment experience that demands use of brains, cunning, experience, intuition and patience, a huge contrast to the relatively passive experience of TV, movies and books (though each has their own pluses)."

Ironically, I think the same assessment can be applied to solving online. Not all of us who solve online use the computer either for speed or to google the answers; rather we are apt to go on a word-building journey of suffixes, prefixes, derivations, abbreviations, neologisms and syllogisms, to name just a few intrigues.

IMO, there is a dangerous assumption often made that the puzzle is part of PUSH marketing of product. In fact, online puzzles are becoming part of the larger world of PULL media wherein one designs one's own reality, cherry-picking the reticulum, "as it were." 

mac 5:28 PM  

I got here late because I accidentally shifted my wireless/router button on my laptop.... I am ashamed to admit this isn't the first time.

Easy but enjoyable puzzle, very smooth with some wonderful words already mentioned. I also wanted staid and Unser (never heard of Rahal), and, although I don't like "netty", I remembered it from another puzzle, last year I think.

I ran into some trouble in the 96A area because I read the clue wrong: thought it was the grandfather one. "Ones" worked for a little while.

All in all, a real Sunday puzzle.

Rex Parker 5:31 PM  

Correction: a real journalist would have understood the strong *likelihood* that a quotation in an article is only a tiny part of a much larger conversation, and maybe not even the most representative part. Only a *psychic* journalist (or an eavesdropping one) would have known the specifics of *my* interview in particular.

@fikink, a warning: "Cherry-picking the reticulum" is still illegal in 16 states.


fikink 5:39 PM  

@Rex, priceless! You ARE king!

Rex Parker 5:45 PM  

King of banality! Call me if you need a toilet-related quote. I'm off to do some yoga.


Blackhawk 6:26 PM  

Well, I guess we can add "thin-skinned" to banal. Figures for a assistant professor at a small state college.

I've been a real journalist longer than you've been doing xword puzzles. I thought maybe you had been misrepresented by the reporter pulling one quote out of a half-hour interview. That is definitely a danger. But then you bragged about the quote with the comment from your mom, so you were obviously proud of it.

I don't need to be psychic to read between the lines. Like most bloggers, you're running the danger of living in an echo chamber of self-importance. Lighten up.

Rex Parker 6:40 PM  

That's VISITING Assistant Professor to you, buddy! If you're going to try to degrade me, have enough respect to get the Full degradation in there. Don't make me write your insults for you.

And I am proud of my mom and how much she loves me *in spite* of the toilet quote (re-read the note). Man, you're really bad at this interpreting text thing. A college English class might be in order. I know people. I can hook you up. Just let me know.


Raul 6:45 PM  

From yesterday:

19A: Internet forum menace (troll) — Reminder: Do Not Feed.

Rex Parker 6:53 PM  


I do appreciate the reminder, but I don't think it's fair to call @Blackhawk a troll, despite that weirdly snide, misinformed, and mean-spirited second paragraph in his (his?) first post. He actually had a point to make about puzzles. And he's right that I'm thin-skinned. Sometimes, I just like to scrap a little. Breaks up the monotony. He seemed a worthy opponent. But I'll stop now. I can't very well ask people to stay on topic and then use the comments section for sparring practice.


XMAN 6:55 PM  

For some unreason, the S-SW was incredibly difficult for me. I have to look on this with some humor...I have to look on this with some humor...I have to look on this with some humor...

Stan 8:01 PM  

@Rex: Trolls are not unintelligent. They know how to string together some "on topic" English sentences which distract from their real agenda -- personal attacks, or whatever other techniques they use to upset everyone. So I'm with @Raul here. But you handled it very well, IMHO. I just think you gave him (odd that we know it's not a 'her') too much credit.

I'd like to know whether @Blackhawk is willing to share his real name and identity (he knows yours) with the blog, so that we can have some better perspective.

Rex Parker 8:07 PM  


I appreciate the support, but really don't have any interest in outing anyone or continuing the animosity (in jest or otherwise) any further.

All the best,

Stan 8:39 PM  

Got it. No problem. 3 and out.

Blackhawk 8:44 PM  

At least they spelled your name right. In my first mention in the NY Times, the reporter misspelled my first and last names. The good news was that I got my name in the paper two days in a row (second was for the correction).

I didn't actually mean to pick a fight. I like your blog. I read it regularly. Sometimes the LA Times one too. I usually disagree w/ you, but that's OK. You just disappointed me w/ the hack comment. Work on being more original next time. That's your assignment.

Carry on, visiting assistant prof.

edith b 9:06 PM  

This one seemed to be a smoothly designed Tuesday as I started in theupper left hand corner (as usual) and made steady progress Norht to South and, like Rex, found no particular pocket of resistance.

Well, NETTY appeared to be wrong but it turned out to be correct so, since I do the puzzle on the computer, at no time did my fingers leave my hand. I don't time myself but this one only lasted about 25 minutes. I would have preferreed it to be longer but c'est la vie.

Was that a real live troll that Rex was engaging there? We get so few of them here, it's hard to tell.

Ruth 9:50 PM  

For the record, my husband came back bemused from a trip to the restroom in a Panera Bread recently. He was walking down the narrow hallway leading to the facilities for both sexes and was confronted by a woman who came swiftly out of the ladies' carrying in front of her an OPEN and CONNECTED laptop! The resulting traffic jam apparently led to my hubby and another guy having to back out of the hallway so this dame and her computer could continue their mutual progress. Mystified by what she was doing in there; and then the big question--did she wash her hands??? We will never know.

foodie 10:00 PM  

@Blackhawk: I got it! You're Tim Gunn, from Project Runway! I can totally hear that "Carry On..." Sounds snooty, but not a bad guy underneath...

foodie 10:00 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
sillygoose 10:53 PM  

I liked the puzzle, I loved the theme. I am in that minority that found the theme helpful to the overall solve, which is something I always enjoy. I am also in the minority (of one?) that found this one medium in difficulty, mostly due to troubles in the SW.

@treedweller LOL on feeling stetty, that seems to be going around just lately. :-)

dk 11:06 PM  

Sitting on the bidet with my laptop.... isn't that a Bob Dylan tune.

Easy puzzle for a Sunday. I assumed it was my birthday gift.

Some of the answers were lame but I have had far to much wine (Duckhorn Merlot 2002) to even care.

Blackhawk is a helicopter, I know that as my sister was one of the lead engineers for the weapon systems.

I am blowing out my candles right about.................

mac 11:08 PM  

Happy birthday dk! Enjoy that wine and sleep late tomorrow.

P.S. Bidets are for people who don't take showers.

ken d. 11:11 PM  

The NYT article, written by Mr. Quenqua, was a quote from the woman who writes the longest-running crossword blog, Amy Reynaldo. Unlike Ken Jennings, who is a Jeopardy whiz, but not a crossword expert...Amy wrote a book on the subject, and writes daily about crosswords.

Amy is more qualified than Ken Jennings on this subject. I wonder if Mr. Quenqua tried to contact Amy.

Lisa in Kingston 11:41 PM  

@Rex, loved the note from your mother. But why in the heck is she working 10 hours? For a good cause, I hope?

Anonymous 12:04 AM  

Seems to me the article ignored the critical fact that you can print out a copy of an online-only puzzle and do it wherever you want.

luckylibbet 1:00 AM  

So easy I gave the diagramless a shot. I always thought they were hard, just like I used to think NYT crosswords were hard. Wow, I really enjoyed it. A real step up in difficulty, plus you get the whole logic thing - if it's a down but not across, it must have letters to the left and right but not the top, etc, which seems to add a quasi-mathematical dimension.
Read the Style article (hard copy subscriber from the SF Bay) and have to say will not miss the Atlantic puzzle, but if Shortz yanks the Cox-Rathvon acrostic from the Times I'll be seriously peeved. It already skipped one week and I almost had a heart attack.

Oh, and btw, I'm NOT in the AARP demographic. (But my dad, my chief rival, is!)

poc 8:23 AM  

Is there some dark plot to yank the acrostic? Say it isn't so!

Orange 8:36 AM  

@Ken D.: Peter Gordon asked me to get {myself or others} in touch with Doug Quenqua. I e-mailed him Thursday evening, but his firm deadline was midday Friday. I'm guessing he had enough material covering what I'd said in the e-mail and that there was too little time to call me (I wasn't free for a call until 10:30 and his deadline was noon? terrible timing for additional interviews). I'd be sadder about missing a chance to be quoted in the NYT if I hadn't had a crossword byline on 7/5!

@blackhawk, for samples of longer-form interviews with Rex, see the "Rex Parker in the 'News'" sidebar. The Chronicle of Higher Ed piece is probably the most substantial interview. In it, you will get details about Rex's toileting habits, preferred wiping method, brand of toilet bowl cleaner, etc. All the banalities you can rely on him for!

Anonymous 1:21 PM  

Regarding RH words, don't forget RHesus monkey, from whom we get the RH designation in blood typing.

PIX 1:25 PM  

Fun puzzle. Enjoyed the theme and the puzzle. So the pros found it for the rest of us.

Leishalynn 2:08 PM  

My newspaper did not publish the Note. I so appreciate help with "open stars," as I was thinking of starfish or celebrities with reality-TV shows!

Anonymous 8:44 PM  

Did anyone else think the theme had a "messiah" ring to it?
"Second in command, end of december, beginning of time, spiritual leader" all had me thinking of Jesus Christ. On the other hand I couldn't tie in broadway closing or medical center.......just a thought

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Speaking of proud mothers - this made me think of mine. "Flow Gently Sweet Afton" was one of her favorite songs; she used to ask me to sing it to her...quite lovely, really.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP