Architectural pier — SUNDAY, Aug. 30 2009 — 1991 Tony winner Daisy / Worthless roadster / Music in Mysore / Maker of Fosamax and Zocor

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Constructors: Ashish Vengsarkar and Narayan Venkatasubramanyan

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Literally So"
— Clues are hyper-literal representations of their answers, which are (generally) familiar phrases, e.g. 86A: FI-TH WH--L = FIFTH WHEEL (i.e. SPARE) with "FEE" removed (i.e. with NO EXPENSE) => SPARE NO EXPENSE

Word of the Day: ANTA (83D: Architectural pier) — An anta (pl. antæ) (Latin, possibly from ante, 'before' or 'in front of') is an architectural term describing the posts or pillars on either side of a doorway or entrance of a Greek Temple - the slightly projecting piers which terminate the walls of the naos.[1] (wikipedia)

I declare this puzzle ingenious. I did not feel this way initially. Started off thinking it was fussy and confusing, mainly because I just didn't understand 23A: -IRC-MS-ANCES (take out of context). I could see that letters spelling "CUT" had been removed from "CIRCUMSTANCES," but "CUT" means "TAKE OUT" so it felt like the "right" answer should have been TAKE OUT OUT OF CONTEXT. . . Later answers proved clearer, and the puzzle became an enjoyable challenge. Once I'd finished I tried to figure out what was wrong with 23A, and finally realized I had the wrong meaning of "CUT." Your "CUT" (of profits, or stolen goods, or whatever) is your "TAKE"; it's a noun, not a verb. So -IRC-MS-ANCES = TAKE (i.e. "CUT") OUT OF CONTEXT (i.e. CIRCUMSTANCES). Got it. My brain hurts a bit from trying to make sense of these, but I do believe they all make sense. One downside — I do not believe that WORTHLESS ROADSTER is a thing (see 121A). All the other clues are versions of common words or phrases. 121A: W--THL-SS R-AD-TER feels entirely made-up.

I finished this puzzle with a sad error: had ANSA / SONAL instead of ANTA / TONAL. I knew ANSA was something, whereas I'd never seen ANTA (or forgot I'd ever seen it) (83D: Architectural pier), and since "SON-" indicated sound (i.e. of language) just fine, I didn't question SONAL as the answer to 95A: Like the Vietnamese language (tonal). I mean, yeah, SONAL hurt a little, but so do lots of little weird words. Bah. Turns out ANSA is a looped handle on a vase (or amphora). Also something to do with rings of Saturn, and last name of a novelist I don't know. ANSE is a character in Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying."

Theme answers:

  • 23A: -IRC-MS-ANCES (take out of context) — literally "CUT" (take) out of "CIRCUMSTANCES" (context)
  • 36A: ANTI--VERNMENT UN--ST (bloodless revolution) — literally "ANTI-GOVERNMENT UNREST" (revolution) without "GORE" (i.e. bloodless)
  • 52A: AR--CL- (the missing link) — literally "ARTICLE" (the) missing "TIE" (link)
  • 70A: P---ARY CARE PHY-ICIANS (Doctors Without Borders) — literally "PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIANS" (Doctors) without "RIMS" (Borders)
  • 86A: FI-TH WH--L (spare no expense) — literally "FIFTH WHEEL" (spare) with no "FEE" (expense)
  • 98A: WHAT A -ANDA DOES IN -EIS-RELY FA-HION (Eats, Shoots and Leaves) — literally "PLUS" (and) leaves "WHAT A PANDA DOES IN LEISURELY FASHION" (eats shoots)
  • 121A: W--THL-SS R-AD-TER (lemon drop cookies) — literally "WORTHLESS ROADSTER" (lemon) with OREOS (cookies) dropped
Aside from the mistake at ANTA / TONAL, the one real trouble area of the puzzle for me was the SW. This was due almost entirely to the heretofore unknown LOMI LOMI (107A: Hawaiian massage). Needed every single cross to get this one, even when I realized that the answer was going to be simply a four-letter string repeated. I got down to LO-I LO-I and even with two shots at getting that "M," I wasn't certain. You thread a MAZE? (109D: Something to be threaded) ... and MERE is 110D: Pure? I can see how both clues correct, but both clues are deliberately off-center. I chose "M" mainly because no other letter would do, and both resulting answers seemed OK. This video features a naked person who is well covered by a towel in the parts that might offend you but still if you fear even the suggestion of nudity Do Not Play

[tell me more about Graham...]

Was not a fan of EURO AREA (76A: Currency union since 1999), which (still) sounds made-up. Was a fan of the fully named THOM MCAN (66A: Shoe brand reputedly named after a Scottish golfer), a guy whose first and last names have good grid cred, but aren't known for hanging out together.


  • 1A: Singer Lambert, runner-up on the 2009 "American Idol" (Adam) — something about the "the" in this clue makes it sound like it's being uttered by a very old person who doesn't watch the show: "Is that that fella from the 'Idol?' The gay one? He's gay, ya know."
  • 29A: Hymn whose second line is "Solvet saeclum in favilla" ("Dies Irae") — like THOM MCAN (bet no one's ever said *that* about DIES IRAE before), this answer usually only contributes half of itself to the grid.
  • 46A: Maker of Fosamax and Zocor (Merck) — I botched this at first because I typed in YOU AND I instead of YOU AND ME at 5D: Us, and it somehow fit because I typed it in fast without looking where the letters were going and everything was in the wrong place and long story short I thought this answer began with "D".
  • 48A: Covered walkway (stoa) — knew it was one of those Greek words ... took a few beats to remember it.
  • 84A: 1991 Tony winner Daisy (Eagan) — hell no. No way. No chance (except thru crosses). Never heard of her. 1991? Tony? Whatever you say.
  • 55D: "Excalibur" star Williamson (Nicol) — hell no. And I've seen "Excalibur." NICOL Williamson is the Daisy EAGAN of "Excalibur."
  • 120A: Modern home of the biblical Elam (Iran) — good guess. ELAM shows up in puzzles from time to time, often as an NFL place kicker.
  • 128A: Bob in the Olympics (sled) — did not know "Bob" could stand independently of "sled" like this.
  • 3D: "It's Time to Cry" singer, 1959 (Anka) — his daughter is married to Jason Bateman (of "Arrested Development" fame). I just learned that this week from NPR's "Fresh Air."

  • 14D: French river craft (bateau) — "river?" True, but "bathtub" is just as true. "Bateau" simply means "boat."
  • 15D: National monument site since 1965 (Ellis Island) — would make a nice seed entry in an Egyptian Gods-themed puzzle.
  • 81D: Music in Mysore (raga) — Mysore = #failedsocialnetworkingsitenames
  • 89D: Wii alternative (XBOX) — XBOX is god's gift to crossword constructors . A convenient way to squeeze "X"s into tiny corners of your grid. WII is also a divine gift. Double-I that doesn't come from a ridiculous Latin ending or a pope or an act in a play.
  • 99D: NBC inits. since 1975 (SNL) — "Saturday Night Live," of course. "1975" is often the giveaway for SNL.
  • 102D: Cry after the rap of a hammer ("sold!") — I like this clue. My first thought was "order!"
  • 34D: Company name that becomes another company name if you move the first letter to the end (Avis) — goes to VISA. I misread the clue and kept wondering what SAVI was known for.

Time for the Tweets of the Week (chatter about crosswords culled from "Twitter"). Forgot about this feature last week, so some of these are saved up. Thanks to PuzzleGirl for helping me keep track of these.

  • SaBNY I am 5 squares away from finishing my first times crossword puzzle. All comments about it being monday can be kept to yourself.
  • Woodie1942 Buy a crossword puzzle book, let your local Liberal Newspaper die!
  • alice_wynn In Touch magazine crossword clue: kings of Leon song: "(blank) Somebody". WTF?
  • Jencenator Why do i try and do the crossword puzzle every sunday, when i know its just gonna piss me off?
  • rognbrow sometimes I hate my job! Just been sorting out the crosswords for bank holiday weekend, nightmare and woe-betide me if I get it wrong
  • rognbrow we literally get thousand of complaints if there is ever anything amiss with the crosswords, not usually a design job apart from specials
  • KristinCanWrite @1000thmonkey most important lesson i learned in the newspaper biz? if you eff-up the daily crossword layout, you better run for your life.
  • ianmfahey You know you're a Star Wars nerd when the crossword answer to "Like Darth Vader" is "EVIL" and you think, "well, it's not that simple"
  • deniserenee I suck at crossword puzzles. I just assume all the answers are kitty, glitter, or bob saget. I'm wrong every time.
Here's something I posted on Twitter yesterday, but you all should know about it: "New weekly crossword puzzle @thedailybeast, written by Matt Gaffney. Make it a habit. Please RT." — Matt Gaffney will now be writing a weekly puzzle (every Thursday) for the newsertainment website "The Daily Beast." Sunday-sized puzzles, about Wednesday-level of difficulty (so far). He's done two already. Here's the first (from which you can get to the second). Until "The Daily Beast" can develop a good applet and/or make puzzles available for download in AcrossLite, I recommend simply printing the puzzle out and solving on paper.

Finally, though it has nothing to do with the puzzle, I'm posting my new favorite photograph of all time: my best friend, August 11, 1977. There is nothing about this photo that is not great.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Michael Meagher 8:47 AM  

Dear Rex,

I'm with you on "Euro Area." It's known as the "Euro Zone" and it threw me for quite a while.

Also isn't "OTB" an acronym not an Abbreviation?



fpbear 8:48 AM  

Finished fairly easily without a clue about the theme meaning. Sort of saw it after finishing, but just sort of. Still don't see eats shoots and leaves without unnatural gymnastics. I would love to see the specific algorithm for clue to answer relationship written explicitly.

VaBeach puzzler 8:58 AM  

Terrific Sunday puzzle and, as usual, great writeup. WhereWhere can one get a LomiLomi without traveling 3,000+ miles?

Womama 9:05 AM  

As I was finishing this, I thought to myself, "I bet Rex liked this one as much as I did." We always have similar taste when it comes to themes. I thought this was clever and just the right bit of challenging. I got a bit mentally stuck when trying to figure out the Panda theme answer-- I had it filled, but couldn't figure out exactly why it worked. It was all pretty brilliant though!

fikink 9:21 AM  

@Rex and Puzzlegirl:
What a smorgasbord of delights this morning!

First a very fine puzzle liberally laced with Cryptic-like intrigue. My eventual downfall was at DAZE, where I had TASE and I am still scratching my head over the "plus" part of the panda clue and fill.

Next, an entertaining recap by Rex topped off with the priceless picture of your best friend. You are right - there IS nothing about that photo that is NOT great!

And @puzzlegirl, your contribution to the Tweets is much appreciated - the Star Wars nerd had us in tears!

Ingenious puzzle and recap is right!

Thanks to all of you.

Crosscan 9:22 AM  

Brilliant puzzle. Everything you want for a Sunday. All the weird stuff was crossing-friendly.


Leon 9:33 AM  

Thank you Mr. Vengsarkar and Mr.Venkatasubramanyan

Who knew there were Mystery Awards other than Edgar ?

Michele 9:40 AM  

"Worthless roadster" was ridiculous. I honestly didn't even understand that after I'd finished the puzzle.

Sigh. For the man's name that was an anagram of a type of exam, my immediate thought was ALAN. So I obediently, if somewhat skeptically, filled in ANAL as the exam. That threw me off for quite a while.

joho 9:40 AM  

Fantastic puzzle! Definitely a CUT above most Sundays.

I would love to see a grid with VENGSARKAR and VENKATASUBRAMANYAN in it.

Now if I could just find somebody around here who knows LOMILOMI I'd be set.

Morgan 9:47 AM  

Did not care for it! I realize, after you're all done, that the theme clues are clever. But they're of almost no help in solving. (or at least I solved the whole thing without them.) I thought you didn't like that stuff, Rex.

The fill was excellent, though, which was nice. Except for NICOL, which should be banned.

carmen k 10:09 AM  

pretty genius puzzle, though had to google a few things and had no idea why "eats shoots and leaves" is valid

HudsonHawk 10:12 AM  

Rex, I had the same experience with LOMI LOMI. Didn't help that I read the clue as mEssage rather than mAssage. And for awhile, I was wondering who this girl Amanda was in the clue for 98A.

Great puzzle, Ashish and Narayan! I'm guessing you collaborated on a Sunday puzzle so that there would be enough space for your full names in the byline.

Calton 10:14 AM  

I own the damned "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" book -- Lynne Truss is overrated as a grammar expert, as far as I'm concerned -- which was about the only reason I was able to get that answer, because I recognized the pattern that formed. Nonetheless, I don't have any damned idea WHY it's supposed to be a valid answer

Greene 10:18 AM  

A few random thoughts about this puzzle:

1. Adored this puzzle. This may just be the most brilliant Sunday puzzle I have ever worked. I didn't say it was easy. The theme clues baffled me for a time and I often had to work backwards to fully understand them.

2. Adam Lambert should have won [the] Idol.

3. I cringed when I saw Daisy EAGAN in the puzzle knowing exactly how Rex would feel about such a clue. She is a bit arcane, but I remember seeing her lovely performance as Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden back in 1991. She won the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and it was richly deserved. Here's a link which features a bit of her performance captured at The Tony Award broadcast in one of those dreadful montages that tries to squeeze the whole show into a 90 second promo. She is not, as many think, the youngest person to win a Tony Award. That honor still belongs to Frankie Michaels who was 10 when he won for Mame back in 1967.

4. Nicol Williamson starred in the very misguided Richard Rodgers musicalization of the life of King Henry VIII which flopped back in 1976 (Glenn Close was in it too, playing Princess Mary). The title? Rex. I'm not kidding, Michael. There's a flop musical that shares your nom de blog. Mr. Williamson did not receive a Tony for his performance (no Daisy Eagan, he).

5. I love Lynne Truss's book "Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation" A very humorous read about grammer. Who da thunk it?

6. I would like some LEMONDROP COOKIES right about now. Chef Bea?

7. Love the best friend photo.

Pourthos 10:25 AM  

Don't care for American Idol.
Don't care for American Idol clues.

Otherwise, I liked it, although still kicking myself for not getting THOMMCAN -- wah!

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Great puzzle!

Rex Parker 10:30 AM  

PLUS means "and"

"PLUS" (i.e. P, L, U, S, i.e. a synonym of "and") "leaves" the phrase "WHAT A PANDA DOES IN LEISURELY FASHION"



departure of PLUS = "and leaves"

"American Idol" is great.

@Greene, "grammer," ha, good one.


Hobbyist 10:40 AM  

Whoa. Why does one purchase eggs at Hallowe'en?

PlantieBea 10:41 AM  

Smart Sunday puzzle from A. Bengsarkar and N. Venkatasubramanyan and spot on write-up from Rex. Thanks to all. This one definitely woke my brain up this morning. Lomi lomi looks like a treat.

Elaine 10:44 AM  

Uh, well.
I got it all without much of a struggle, and although I had the "missing letter clues" written on the side, saw only the connection to one word in each solution. The gestalt still does not seem interesting, and the clues seem barely related to the phrases, all of which came easily on crosses. (Therefore "Worthless Roadster/Oreos" didn't bother me.)

Favorite part of the puzzle:
Though I hate sports clues, "NHL Thrashers" with A-L---- in place clicked right away: The GA state bird is the Brown Thrasher--a really cool bird to watch in action.

Overall feeling: meh.

Elaine 10:47 AM  

@ Hobbyist

I was very puzzled, too, about Halloween. Had to take out MASK, relied on crosses to get this answer. Still didn't get it, until... recalling the JHS students' plans every October.

The eggs are to throw. I said, "Oh, NAUGHTY," and my hubby contributed: "It's best if you leave the eggs out for a week ahead of Halloween."
Hope this helps....

poc 10:48 AM  

Yes, it's EUROZONE, not EUROAREA. Also, is SKED allowed (rather than SCHED)?

Tic-tac-toe loser could be anything other than XXX or OOO, i.e. unlike a normal clue you *have* to get it on crosses.

Never heard of LOMILOMI, but now I have :-)

A good puzzle overall.

Hobbyist 11:06 AM  

Thanks, Elaine. We are the same age and had same profession as well. In Canada we had mat night when one stole neighbors' doormats and did other mischief.It was the night before Hallowe'en. I did steal a mat or two but never threw an egg.

Aviatrix 11:08 AM  

Despite the fact that everyone calls it the Euro Zone, the official name is the Euro area, so fair clue.

Thanks Rex for explaining the panda clue, I was taking that on faith.

I didn't know the word RHOMB, so I briefly thought I actually had a RHOMBUS REBUS, with BUS in the last square. :-)

And is anyone else using the Magmic app unable to get it to accept a correct puzzle? I've checked it word for word against Rex's solution and it still says it's not right.

A Capriote 11:10 AM  

This puzzle had an aura of difficulty that melted away as I solved it. Clues that seemed out of reach seemed to come gently to my mind. Maybe it was fact that I began it 5 minutes after waking up from only four hours sleep and drank 2 cups of strong coffee in the process. I thoroughly enjoyed it! (Aside from the fact that the first clue was of American Idol ilk, a show which I detest)
The north east corner had me stumped till the end and finally relented to the word EGGS for Halloween purchase. In my memory eggs (along with toilet paper, shaving cream and soap) were employed on the night before Halloween (Mischief Night) and they were not purchased rather pilfered from my mother's refrigerator.

XMAN 11:12 AM  

Well, what a waste of $39.95! When I called up today's puzzle in Premium Crosswords I got half the grid in the window! To get the rest I had to navigate. I found the experience so frustrating that I had to ABANDON THE PUZZLE!

P.S. Enlarging the screen got me a blank screen.


poc 11:26 AM  

@XMAN: you don't give any info on your platform, browser, version of Java or anything else that might help diagnose your problem. However you could try installing the Across Lite application. It's no-cost and there's a link directly from the Puzzles page.

treedweller 11:39 AM  

I liked this meaty theme--gave me something to chew on so the long, long Sunday grid didn't seem such a grind. It helped that there wasn't too much robofill.

I wondered who Amanda was, too.

I enjoyed the run of "Beware the Wrath of Puzzle People" tweets, but my favorite was the one about Darth Vader.

I've found the applet to be a little clunky at times, but have always managed to make it work eventually. I've learned to anticipate the Sunday size issue, so I click on "Enlarge grid" before starting the puzzle. But, when I forget, I just click after the puzzle has loaded. It backs up to the screen where you start the puzzle (ideally). I've seen long lag times, so maybe you just needed to wait longer for it to load. I've also seen lockups, and had to reload the page. If this didn't work, I'd try restarting my browser, then restarting my computer, then deleting cookies to troubleshoot the problem. But, chances are, if you just go back right now and try again it might work fine. Sadly, your time is ruined.

Worst case, you should be able to start over and load the puzzle in acrosslite.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:41 AM  

I really didn't have time for this, but when I looked at the clues, I knew I had to do this puzzle today! Great fun! I came to the blog with one mistake - at 122 D, I had ASU instead of OSU (all sports = terra incognita), which gave me LEMANDROPCOOKIES, which really would be great if the race weren't LeMans (isn't it?)

I had EATSSHOOTSANDLEAVES correctly, but I didn't really understand how it fit the algorithm of the theme until I read Rex's 10:30 posting - two or three times, and my head is still spinning a bit!

archaeoprof 11:42 AM  

Challenging puzzle for me today. Not just because of the sophisticated construction and cluing, but also because I had no Kahlua for my coffee this morning.

@Rex: your picture makes me smile.

chefbea 11:45 AM  

Fun puzzle that took a while to complete. I too read mEssage instead of mAssage.

@Greene Made ginger lemon squares this week. Yummm. Much better than lemon drops

Aviatrix 11:47 AM  

Finally found my typo, on the third word-by-word readthrough so Magmic is blameless.

Also, I'm getting tired of SASSY being clued the same way every time. It's no longer Fresh. Except that it always is.

And I'm also interested in why some people start with the downs and do "downs only" is it to avoid the assistance of any theme answers?

Stan 12:05 PM  

I'll take Rex's word for it on the theme making sense.

But not on "American Idol"!

However, we can all agree on the greatness of the "best-fiend" photo...

Stan 12:07 PM  

Ooops, "best-friend" photo.

Alex 12:11 PM  

I'm glad everybody enjoyed the theme but I didn't particularly. Not the kind of word game that appeals to me, I guess.

But that was ok, I was able to easily get through the puzzle ignoring the theme clues after I got DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS early and knew I wasn't going to enjoy the secondary game.

Only problem was that I've never heard of LEMON DROP COOKIES but have heard of SPOON DROP COOKIES. That made it really hard to finish up that section.

Ellen 12:15 PM  

Daisy Eagan was also featured on a Bravo reality series called "The It Factor" about actors trying to make it. It was sad that even though she'd won the Tony as a child she still had to pound the pavements to get work.

PIX 12:35 PM  

@70A" (PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIANS..."Doctors without borders"). Doctors Without Borders is an international organization that tries to provide medical assistance to poor people around the globe. I am certain they let non-primary care physicians participate in the program. Their web site lists "physicians" at the top of the their needs for medical personnel. It says nothing about primary care physicians only. I would bet that non-primary care physicians (epidemiologists, laboratory supervisors, radiologists) are also involved in the project.

Enough puzzle, even if not fully convinced about Pandas...(the point of that book was not that the writer knew so much about grammar but that she was able to get many people outside of the school system to read such a book.)

John B 12:40 PM  

@fikink: Agreed that the theme feels very much like a cryptic crossword, with the theme answers reading very much like cryptic clues. In fact, I believe this may be why many people (my wife, quite a few of the readers of this blog) seem not to enjoy the verbal gymnastics required to connect the clues and answers satisfactorily.

I would have been in this camp a couple of months ago, but I've grown to appreciate the cryptic by way of puns and anagrams puzzles, so much so that I don't even like P&A so much anymore. So this puzzle delighted me quite a bit.

Also, if you will excuse me for making two assumptions, one about gender and one about nationality, Messrs. Vengsarkar and Venkatasubramanyan may have cut their teeth on cryptics and were giddy at the prospect of throwing some Commonwealth flavor into this American-style puzzle.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

Crushed the puzzle in record time - until I hit gelid, the british measurement units, mere as a synonym for pure and "Lemondrop cookies"...

Rex Parker 12:48 PM  

OMG people are struggling with the theme today.

PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIANS relates to DOCTORS (not not not the full phrase "DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS")

The "WITHOUT BORDERS" part is clued by the removal of "RIMS" (a synonym for "BORDERS") from the phrase PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIANS.


ArtLvr 12:49 PM  

Ha. I thought I had the whole thing right, but found an error after reading Rex's comments -- I'd mistyped OTB and later was sure the place where some people get tips was the OTC (stock tips). Never checked to see what an XCOX might be in relation to a Wii.

My problem is that I'm still a bit euphoric about having bought shares of a $3 stock a couple of months ago now trading around $20. Not that I purchased it on a tip, just long familiarity with the company and the field of biotech in general. Talk about a DAZE! However, I must get over it as what goes up may also go down, virtual LEMON DROPs.

Super puzzle.


John B 12:56 PM  

@Rex: I was having trouble writing a tactful response to PIX. I'm glad that you stepped in and spared me the effort.

@PIX: How did you interpret all of the other theme answers? Unless you're familiar with the literature on human evolution, how do you connect ARTICLE with THE MISSING LINK? And how on earth do you reconcile FIFTH WHEEL with SPARE NO EXPENSE?

Orange 1:10 PM  

Aw, I like that 1977 photo! The harvest gold telephone is the highlight for me. The sticker on it probably has the police and fire department emergency numbers. Remember when 911 didn't exist?

PIX 1:13 PM  

@REX: That's why you are "the 44th Greatest Crossword Puzzle Solver In The Universe!" and I come here for you help...Thank you.

@John B...If "Fifth Wheel" is changed to just "wheel", than "Spare" makes no sense...BUT: if "primary care physician" is changed to just "physician" than "Doctor" in the answer still makes sense. The Primary Care had to be tacked on to physician simply to help spell out RIMS. A bit of a difference, at least to me.

Michael Leddy 1:13 PM  

@John B: The is an article (part of speech).

I too read AMANDA for A PANDA.

I got the whole thing, and I admire the creative work that went into this puzzle, but the theme clues are too convoluted for my taste. I even confused myself explaining AR_CL_ just now!

Orange 1:13 PM  

@Michael Meagher: Acronyms (according to at least one dictionary) are generally pronounceable as words (laser, scuba), while initialisms are abbreviations in which each letter is spelled out aloud (OTB, FBI). Of course, plenty of people use these words and the word "abbreviation" interchangeably, and the people who get riled about about the strict definitions of these words probably also wig out if someone ends a sentence or a clause with a preposition.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

@John B

I'd hate to see what you'd write if your weren't being tactful.


Doc John 1:20 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doc John 1:21 PM  

Not overly thrilled about the theme but I'm not going to complain about it, either. At least the theme answers were easy enough to glean.
Had 2 missteps: anza instead of ANTA, which gave me the (reasonable sounding) zonal instead of TONAL. In medical-ese, an ANZA is a handle, or looping structure, like on a bucket. Seemed to sort of make sense in the context of the clue.
Also had dios irae instead of DIES IRAE. As I look back on it, I'm hitting myself in Chris Farley (from SNL) fashion: "I'm so stupid, I'm so stupid, I'm so stupid!" My only saving grace is that I at least had a vowel in place of the E.

Ashish Vengsarkar 1:23 PM  

Thanks for the comments and sorry for messing some folks' Sunday!

Couple of specific responses:

@Rex: Worthless Roadster was contrived? I thought the PANDA clue was more contrived (see below)! Also, didn't know LOMI LOMI would get your blog in trouble with the censors one more time! :-)

@JohnB: You are right about gender, nationality AND our plan for global domination via cryptics! (Just kidding :-))

@Hudson Hawk: Yes, we do claim the record for the longest byline.

Now for some background on the puzzle's origins:

The theme emerged, as usual, from an email from Narayan (he is really the one who wants to convert all of us to cryptics, I am merely the abettor): "How about MISSIN_ FROM SCH_OL (18)?", which led us to the central theme entry in the puzzle and DOCTORS became the seed.

We had created a complete set of theme entries via back-and-forth emails over several months and submitted a puzzle. Will liked the concept but asked for some changes. One devilish clue (from Narayan) in the original puzzle was TH_NGS Y_ _ POS_ESS (16) This entry had to be changed since it did not fit the pattern.

During the second revision, we found PANDA, which was clued for the longest time as the succinct "WHAT A P_ _ _ A DOES". We realized later that we needed a synonym for AND, and that AND itself "leaving" would not work. We were loath to let go of this third interpretation of Lynne Truss' book title, hence the long-ish clue! During this revision process, we got help from Will as well as Brendan Emmett Quigley [BEQ], who jumped in to make sure we would come up with consistent entries.

For those who like puzzles within puzzles, here are some of the clues left on the cutting floor:

HUS_ _D INNU_N_OS (16)
M_ _ ARENA PERFOR_ _ R (13)
COME_'S T_AMMAT_ (13) [BEQ clue]


Glitch 1:41 PM  

My *AHA* of the day:

[the word for] "and" LEAVES [the clue]

It took a long time as having overlooked 86A, all the other "action" words were in the center of the answer.

This leads to 5/7 having the *action* in the middle, 1/7 in the beginning, 1/7 at the end, and not symetrically placed.

I normally would't have pointed this out, but my brain demanded revenge for being teased all morning.

(At least I had all the letters correctly in the grid in "easy - moderate" time)


Glitch 1:44 PM  


Crossed in the posting, glad you (all) worked on "leaves", had you not, I'd STILL be puzzling that one.


Susan 1:51 PM  

Sorry to say, I'm in the camp that found the theme cumbersome and not worth the pay-off. Admittedly, I only understood about half of them and the PANDA one took me two readings of Rex's explanation before I grasped it, so maybe I'm just a dim bulb today. I finished the puzzle (pretty quickly) so it's not that I found it that hard...

Could not have been more surprised to learn that "euro area" is the accepted English expression. I recalled long debates from back in the day about what it was to be called and I thought the members had reached a consensus of "euro zone" because "zone" worked in more languages than "area" and didn't have the nationalist or Disneyish feel of "land." So I didn't believe Aviatrix (sorry) and I double checked it. Indeed, the French version of the official U.E. website uses "zone euro," but when you click to change it to English, they do indeed say "euro area." Who knew? I mean apart from Aviatrix, Ashish, Narayan and everyone in Europe?

Patch 2:13 PM  

I thought many of the clues/answers were weak and uninspired. The theme clues are standard for anyone who's into cryptic crosswords. Sorry to be such a hater, I guess I drank too much haterade this morning. Yawn, next!

Greene 2:14 PM  

@Ellen: Daisy Eagan still pops up on television from time to time. I remember seeing her on an episode of The Ghost Whisperer not all that long ago. I found her acceptance speech from the Tony broadcast as well. She's adorable.

@Rex: The laugh's really on me. Not only can I not spell grammar, but I misspelled EAGAN the first time through the grid as well.

Karen from the Cape 2:27 PM  

I had Rex's error for ANTA with the same reasoning, and I had BLOODLESS RESOLUTION and couldn't figure out the companies with the wordplay. I had trouble accepting the word RHOMB instead of rhomboid. Never heard of EAGAN or NICOL, but I could get their names from crosses. ALEATORY was an insane word that I must have heard at some point before. I'm a fan of EATS SHOOTS AND LEAVES and American Idol, although I'm still waiting for David Cook to get his own crossword clue.

Clark 2:41 PM  

This was a very cool theme, and puzzle. Thanks, @Rex, for your 10:30 explanation of EATS SHOOTS AND LEAVES. That was the one I couldn't quite explain (though I got it from knowing the book).

And, thanks for the picture. That could be a picture of semi-puzzle partner when he was a kid. My favorite detail is the box of raisins to the right of the Happy Days box.

jeff in chicago 2:54 PM  

The theme didn't help me a bit, but it was still a fun solve. For me, a bit harder than the average Sunday, but I like a challenge.

chefwen 3:24 PM  

I absolutely loved this puzzle. Husband said "are you done already?" "Yeah, you want to look at it?" He stared at it for about 10 minutes and said "This makes no sense at all" I tried explaining it to him and he just got a glazed expression, said "NO", and went back to his handicapping.

My first fill for 102D was ouch, that is what I usually say after wielding a hammer.

Every one needs a LOMI LOMI massage at least once in a lifetime.

BartG 3:32 PM  

I think "cut" and "take" are movie terms, and that's how I parsed the first themed clue.

Lili 3:40 PM  

I was despairing a bit at first, but eventually the theme came together. However, I got "Eats shoots and leaves" only because I suddenly recognized the title of the Lynne Truss book and only then did I realize that A-ANDA meant "A panda." I agree, Calton; Truss is overrated as a grammar expert.

I had an advantage on "Anta". All art and architectural historians know the term, along with "in antis," which describes the type of recessed portico in question.

John 3:49 PM  

Way too much work for a Sunday with little or no reward. the cle verness factor is set too high. Little or no enjoyment in the solving experience. Not my cup of Tea!

jae 3:58 PM  

I had mixed feelings about this one. I found it pretty easy and was able to fill in a couple of theme answers without reading clues. However, I think you need to be a cryptic fan to really appreciate this one. I've only done a couple of cryptics so this left me more confused than charmed.

PuzzleGirl 3:58 PM  

Loved it! The theme didn't help me and the fill was difficult and neither one of those things bothered me at all. Well done, Ashish and Narayan!

Whether you like American Idol or not, Adam Lambert is going to be a big star, so you might want to commit his name to memory!

archaeoprof 4:02 PM  

@Ashish: thanks for the background on the construction! I'm always impressed by the things that go into a good puzzle. This one was way better (and harder) than the usual Sunday.

"Stranded messenger" was my favorite clue. Biologist wife gave it a thumbs up too.

hazel 4:07 PM  

Very tough puzzle for me (still not as hard as Friday's, though). I never did really "get" most of the theme answers and couldn't wait to finish so I could come here and have it explained to me. I only truly got the FEE one. I think it might have made more sense on paper where I could/should have written down the missing letters. Just too much for my swiss cheesy brain.

Definitely a puzzler's puzzle.

@Rex, that picture captures absolutely everything good about being a kid. Thanks for posting.

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

I finished this one without resort to external help, but I think the creators committed some cardinal sins in my book:

1. The stupid Roman numeral -- but at least I didn't have to do arithmetic to get it;

2. The stupid geographical Toledo to Columbus (or other random cities) clue;

3. The stupid resort to a tic tac toe loser.

And eggs are purchased for Easter, not Haloween. Kids might raid the family refrigerator to egg people's houses on Halloween, but they don't go out and buy them for that purpose (nor, one hopes, do their parents.)

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

1. The constructors claim the longest byline ever; I would add that they probably also set the all-time record for syllables -- fifteen (15!).

2. Slightly off topic, but Rex posted the LOMILOMI clip: I wonder how Graham, the masseur, felt about being referred to twice as the "masseuse." Possibly he didn't care at all. Just a thought.


edith b 4:13 PM  

I basically solved the puzzle first, stored what information I could glean from the cryptic nature of the clues and figured out the meta-puzzle - if I can use that phrase - at the end of the puzzle.

I had my first glimmer of the theme at P***ARY CARE PHY*ICIANS minus the RIMS and confirmed its nature at ANTI**VERNMENT UN**ST minus the GORE. Then puzzled out the rest at my leisure.

It was a two-stage enterprise which I enjoyed quite a bit.

XMAN 4:21 PM  

Than you poc and treedweller.

I finally got on with it. I shudda stood in bed. An indication of, if not the kind of problems, then the magnitude of them, is that I had BATTUE for a very long time, until my French crept out of the little corner where I keep it, nudged me and said, "That means beaten, stupid."

I persevered and was not beaten stupid.

Noam D. Elkies 4:32 PM  

Thanks to A&N for a fun puzzle, and to RP for explaining how 23A:TAKEOUTOFCONTEXT fits the pattern more precisely than it seemed to.

Yes, nice to see 29A:DIESIRAE in full. I was hoping for a youtube link here; there are choices ranging from the original chant to several 18th/19th century requiems, plus quotations of the chant by composers from Berlioz to film composers that draw on the tune's long-standing power to evoke the terror of the Last Judgement described in the Latin poem. I see that The Matrix soundtrack recently joined the fun with a new setting of those words. Wikipedia says the Catholic Church removed the hymn from the liturgy for a Requiem Mass but still leaves the option of using an older form of the Mass that does include the Dies when someone dies (sorry...). The Wikipage also quotes an English translation by Ambrose Bierce that includes such intentionally incongruous language as

Ah! what terror shall be shaping
When the Judge the truth's undraping —
Cats from every bag escaping!

Back to the puzzle: Is the partial 60A:ITI now so standard that "Is ___ ?" is a sufficient Sunday clue? I too wondered about 76A:EUROAREA instead of the familiar "Eurozone", and could do without the p*p-cult clue for 1A (the Biblical Adam offers so many possibilities for a more creative clue). I did like the two multi-word phrases starting at the Y at 5.

"Stranded messenger?" for 82A:RNA was my favorite non-theme clue too.


P.S. Will it even be possible for the co-constructors' byline to fit in the allotted space if they ever collaborate on a non-Sunday puzzle? ;-)

Simon 4:35 PM  

Is it just me or does the 1959 Paul Anka look a lot like the 2009 Adam Lambert?

adam 4:53 PM  

I had a different interpretation for the Panda clue. Plus removed = nonplus. "Nonplus" means in a leisurely fashion.

joho 4:54 PM  

@Greene & @PuzzleGirl ... Adam Lambert was robbed. I wonder when we'll see him again. A while back I recognized his incredible voice in a commercial track ... but I'm still waiting to see him perform again. What's taking so long?

@Anon 4:11 ... how do you know that people don't go out to buy eggs to throw at Halloween?

Blackhawk 5:13 PM  

For once I agree w/ Rex -- perfect puzzle. A fresh and amusing gimmick, great fill, makes you think, makes you smile, the whole package.

For some reason, I breezed through it like a Wednesday -- probably my fastest Sunday time ever, though I never time myself because really, what is the point? Racing through something you enjoy, as many seem to do, seems ludicrous to me. You wouldn't speed-eat a good meal or speed-watch a good movie, so why do people try to speed-solve a good puzzle? Bravo to the constructors; will look forward to more from you.

PS to Michael and Orange: At the large tech company where I used to work, it was often said that your effort as the creator of a new project or initiative was not complete until you had named it with a catchy TLA -- a "three letter acronym."

Ulrich 5:29 PM  

It's never to late to join a chorus (still a little hung-over from celebrating our 35th anniversary with the former Parker-House hostess last night): I really loved the puzzle and managed to use the theme to sort out all the theme answers in the middle section. I'm still shaking my head in awe that the constructors could pull this off.

@Rex: I appreciate your patience in explaining the theme to non-believers. Also, I still remember one of my first complaints posted here 1 1/2 years ago in which I protested "anta" as being too specialized for a general audience. In fact, I have never seen the term used as a singular, only in phrases like "in antis", duely noticed by Lili. On the up-side, "in antis" church facades are very common in the New England countryside that I drive through.

Saw Nicol Williamson with the RSC in London in "Twelfth Night", where he overacted as Malvolio--he of the yellow garters. But it gave me an informed guess at 55D.

Clark 5:34 PM  

"Is ___?" @NDE, this was pretty much a gimme for me because of this:

Is it I?

Kumar 5:41 PM  

Egad, just noticed the authors names, and my (still, after all these years) undergraduate juvenile mind said the Madrasis are at it again.

And then I thought to myself that these had to be fellow Y Pointers (grads of IIT Bombay), and a quick search of Google confirmed it.

Glad to see all those hours doing the Times of India puzzle in the Hostel 3 mess did not go to waste.

Way to go, IITB.

chefbea 5:48 PM  

This has nothing to do with today's puzzle but I just turned on TV to watch the news and it was the little league world series. And guess who the sportscaster was??? Non other than our friend Orel Hersheiser!!
I now can put a face with the name.

Glitch 5:51 PM  

Having carefully reviewed the comments so far, it appears this puzzle was a subversive attempt to infiltrate Crosswords with Cryptics.

That's an unnatural union and the next person that tries will be forced to eat a Hot Fudge and Saurkraut sunday (but can choose their own ice cream).


3 and out (for the evening)

Noam D. Elkies 6:07 PM  

@Clark 5:34 — Sure, I know the source (and have sung Bach's Matthäuspassion [where Bach is careful to have "Herr, bin ich's?" sung exactly 12-1=11 times; BTW the title is an exception to the usual German pronunciation of äu. But I digress]); but I'd have thought that the typical solver would need some context, not just the bare quote "Is ___?". Perhaps the partial has appeared often enough by now that the context is deemed unnecessary.


PlantieBea 6:09 PM  

@ glitch wrote: Hot Fudge and Saurkraut sunday (but can choose their own ice cream).

I'm thinking maybe bacon ice cream would go well if that must happen.

fikink 6:28 PM  

@Rex, thanks for the further parsing of "plus" - of course! WOW!

@John B, glad to have another fan of "the dark side" on the blog. "Gymnastics" is apt ...and not everybody likes to work out on Sunday.

The Fikinks, fellow DINKs,
you and your mate.

A Capriote 6:33 PM  

Maple Syrup & Bacon Ice Cream mmmmmmmmm!!

Ulrich 6:58 PM  

@NDE: Digression or not--I'm impressed

...and @ClarK: As far as I remember, Leonardo's Last Supper also depicts the "Is it I?" moment, especially in the left-hand group of three.

@fikink: Der Dink dankt!

Lili 7:26 PM  

Noam, I've spent so many years as an art historian studying the history, liturgies, and doctrines of Christianity (and related artistic, musical, and literary works) that the clue yielded an obvious answer.

And if I, a garden-variety atheist, can get it, anyone can.

Ulrich, in both Matthew and Mark, ALL of the Apostles ask, "Is it I?" As for the specific moment (I should say, moments) depicted in Leonardo's "Last Supper," I recommend the study "Leonardo's Incessant Last Supper" (New York, 2001), by the distinguished art historian and specialist on this painting, Leo Steinberg. Eye opening.

fergus 7:34 PM  

One of those who fought through the puzzle triumphant, yet still with no no clue about(Cut Gore Tie Rims Plus Oreos). I did it at a bar (five innings worth), watching the Giants prevail, so I'm glad to come home and see how others sorted out the empty spaces.

fikink 8:20 PM  

@Lili, Ulrich:
Leo Steinberg has inspired a great many students of art history but he must be read with an eye to Wolfe's "Culturburg."

fergus 8:51 PM  

Art History is great fun, but I've found the puzzle referrents (as in editorial advisors) to be misleading, confusing or fundamentally off. As an old-time Rex commenter, I've complained about this subject before, and almost feel qualified to advise Will Shortz when he's playing around with such Clues inaccurately.

There are other topics I would rather focus upon, those which I really know something what I'm talking about, but when crass mistakes are made concerning Art, I do get annoyed.

Joe in Montreal 9:08 PM  

I liked it. Classical training comes in useful for once (Dies irae, if classical is what I mean).
A boat on the Seine, a French river par excellence, is a bateau mouche, which fit, so I proudly put in MOUCHE. As you say, Rex, any French boat is a bateau.

Anonymous 9:14 PM  

Clever theme but the majority of solvers are not going to understand it.

foodie 9:56 PM  

Rex, I just wanted to say that the picture of your friend made me smile.
It's an American Classic!!!

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:21 AM  

Just a great, great puzzle. What was odd was that even though I encouraged Ashish to finish the puzzle, I still had a miserably hard time trying to solve the frigging thing. A+ with honors.

mac 11:43 AM  

Fantastic puzzle, one of the best Sundays this year IMHO>

@Rex: that looks like Christmas morning in California.... What a great photograph.

Anonymous 7:29 PM  

I thought immediately of CUT as a "take" in film

andrea sassy michaels 8:37 PM  


(kudos, without "hesitation")

Very cool. Normally I take Sundays off except when a friend has made the puzzle, and this was fabulous...

As for cluing ADAM Idol-wise (Eidelweis?) instead of biblicly
(Wow does that word look weird) that was a clear shout out to our beloved PuzzleGirl
(thanks for the tweets, sweet!)
AND probably more people have watched "American Idol" than have read Genesis...(or seen Genesis in concert!)
just sayin'...

As for having both constructors' names fit on a daily puzzle, Ashish will have to try me out instead!

Yes, what the heck IS ALEATORY??? How do you use it 'zactly?

where is that little boy now???!

(That's two kisses and a well as one among my MANY attempts to answer the tic-tac-toe clue!)

Mark 8:56 PM  

A little late on this one, since I just did the puzzle today, but you do indeed thread a maze. This is a reference to the Minotaur myth -- Ariadne gives Theseus a thread to unwind through the Labyrinth which he uses to kill the minotaur.

poc 8:58 PM  

@andrea sassy michaels: "biblicly" looks wrong because it's not a word. I assume you mean "biblically".

Puffin 4:03 AM  

Can someone explain why "IDA" is the answer for Moscow's home? I have Googled it (along with keywords such as RUSSIA and MOSCOW) but I still can't make any sense of it

Bob Kerfuffle 6:41 AM  

Moscow, Idaho

nurturing 7:06 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Puffin 10:56 PM  

Thanks Bob!

walterrob 11:42 PM  

Just finished the puzzle. Couldn't do it this weekend since the kids had to be dropped off at college. Initially hated it and couldn't get the theme until I filled out the panda answer. Worthless roadster was a terrible clue but otherwise enjoyable. Easily my favorite Sunday puzzle in quite some time.

Citizen Mundane 1:59 AM  

Just curious... as an IT pro, I understand the concept of cloning computers, aka PCs, but that didn't seem to trip anyone up... the crosses were fairly easy, so i understand why it wasn't a problem, but I'm just curious how many non IT people actually got that... i thought that the term "cloning", at least in terms of computers, would be fairly obscure to non-IT people...

Puffin 3:10 AM  

@Citizen Mundane

The clue doesn't refer to the kind of clones you make with Norton Ghost or other software like that. It refers to a term, no longer used very much, for any PC that was similar to the one that IBM made, based on an Intel x86. Those were called "clones", in distinction the computers made by Apple, which were based on a Motorola chip and no manufacturer was licensed to make one that would run Apple's OS.

Citizen Mundane 12:32 PM  

ahhhh...Thank you, I forgot about that... it's been years since I heard a PC referred to as an "IBM clone"... a bit archaic, since no one actually "clones" PCs in that manner anymore... (Putting on thick nerd glasses) IBM thought their BIOS chip wouds make PCs proprietary,ala Apple, but since everything else was made from available parts, all someone had to do was create their own BIOS chip, and voila... as I recall, it took Compaq about 6 months to create a "clean room" version... since IBM thought they had the hardware market cornered, they allowed Microsoft to license the OS (whoops!), even though MS had only planned to license programming languages... worst business move ever...

Daryl 5:20 AM  

I just finished this puzzle, way too late. Have to say I didn't love it at all - felt like there were too many abbreviations and too mcuh crosswordese.

That said, I don't get Rex's comment about WORTHLESS ROADSTER and the contention that all the other clues are versions of common words or phrases. How is "WHAT A PANDA DOES IN LEISURELY FASHION" a common word or phrase? Unless bamboo forests are a feature of the Parker household. In the whole puzzle, the theme answers actually describe the clues in a cryptic style, hence: "Lemon. Drop cookies (OREO)". "Eats shoots. And (PLUS) leaves." "Spare. No expense (FEE)." All make sense equally to me. Still hated the puzzle though, except for the theme.

Anonymous 7:33 PM  

My husband dragged me to the horse track yesterday, so I brought this puzzle with me to pass the time. I struggled through it all day long, but I can proudly say that it was my second perfect fill for a Sunday puzzle.

My brain hurt trying to figure out the theme answers, and I got "eats shoots and leaves" despite thinking the clue had to do with a mysterious woman named Amanda.

I got a chuckle over the "Dies Irae" clue. I'm embarrassed to admit that I never knew what it was: I just always knew that if the clue was "Dies __" the answer was Irae and vice versa.

silvergirl 11:54 PM  

My boyfriend and i laughed when we realized where we'd seen that Paul Anka clip. The MST3K'd version of "Girls Town" (also featuring Mamie van Doren and Mel Tormé!). Well worth a watch.

Wanted to enjoy this puzzle a little more than i did, but i do love the ones that make me think. We initially headed over here because of the "ETO/OTB" crossing, although i was also a bit confused over "Is it i". Thanks for all the help!

gourmande 3:49 PM  

It took a while to get going but once the theme answers came everything else began falling into place. Still don't understand "OTB" (94A) ?!? :(

Bob Kerfuffle 5:33 PM  

@gourmande - 94 A, Where some people get tips : OTB (Off Track Betting parlor - either they get tips on horses, or they have their hair highlighted?)

Rebecca 8:29 AM  

The theme in this one left me cross-eyed!

Clue 1 across should have just said "Singer Lambert", or just "runner-up on..." Much too easy for this Idol fan.

gourmande 9:34 AM  

@ Bob Kerfuffle - Thank you! This sure is a "duh" moment, particulalry since I've come across this clue or similar ones before with the mysterious (to me) OTB answer. Sheesh! :-/

shrub5 2:08 AM  

Count me in with the folks who didn't much like this puzzle. Basically, the juice wasn't worth the squeeze.

@rp: Love the picture! My guess is it was his birthday and he is just so happy with all his gifts around him. Those may even be chocolate cake crumbs on the placemat in front of him....

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP