Family name in Frank Miller's Sin City series / SUN 4-4-10 / Cursed alchemist / 1986 rock autobiography / Chartres shout / Epithet for Elizabeth I

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Constructor: Bob Klahn

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: "AFTER WORD" — "BOARD" answers the question in the parenthetical addendum to the puzzle's title: What word can follow each half of the answer to each starred clue?


Word of the Day: Project Blue Book (42A: Project Blue Book subj. => UFO) —

Project Blue Book was one of a series of systematic studies of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) conducted by the United States Air Force (U.S.A.F.). Started in 1952, it was the second revival of such a study. A termination order was given for the study in December 1969, and all activity under its auspices ceased in January 1970.

Project Blue Book had two goals:

  1. to determine if UFOs were a threat to national security, and
  2. to scientifically analyze UFO-related data.
[...] By the time Project Blue Book ended, it had collected 12,618 UFO reports, and concluded that most of them were misidentifications of natural phenomena (clouds, stars, etc.) or conventional aircraft. The UFO reports were archived and are available under the Freedom of Information Act, but names and other personal information of all witnesses have been changed. (wikipedia)


• • •

The hardest Sunday puzzle I've done in a long, long time. Normally, Sundays are just longish Wednesdays for me. If the theme is imaginative and well executed, great; otherwise, it's a bit of a slog. I think God intended for crosswords to be 15x15. It's a magical size. At any rate, this puzzle was tough, but I would not call it a slog. I loved the challenge, and the quality of the fill is superb. I've seen this type of theme before ("both words can follow/precede..."), but 12 viable theme answers! That's astonishing. Also, usually in this type of puzzle, the phrases can seem forced (words that go together kinda sorta, but not easily). Today, most of the phrases are perfectly ordinary, and often interesting, with very little Frankenstein's monster effect. Clunkiest for me were FLOOR LEADER and DRAWING CARD. That FLOOR LEADER section took me forever. Everything around FLOOR stayed invisible for a good while. Had an easier time with DRAWING CARD because of MERYL (110A: Actress Streep), which I was sure was not MERYL because that would be too easy, and this puzzle is not easy. I actually considered other Streeps before tentatively entering the obvious MERYL. Klahn enjoys the devilish cluing, and it's on display all over the place here. So, overall, theme idea itself doesn't sound so great on paper, but the execution, coupled with the overall grid quality and tougher-than-average cluing, made this one a winner for me.

One interesting note about the awkwardness of the title + "bonus question" — Bob had written me on Friday saying that if I wanted to know why a certain word was missing from the grid on Sunday, I should just ask him once I'd finished. So I did. Turns out the puzzle was originally submitted with the simple title "BOARD MEETINGS." Will thought that not enough people would "get it." Here's how Bob put it:
The reason that BOARD is not in the grid is that it was part of my title, "Board Meetings." I submitted that along with a lot of potential theme entries for Will to choose from, he marked the ones he liked most, I built and submitted the grid, and at that point he decided that the significance of my title would be lost on enough of his audience that it needed to be replaced. Hence the current title and the "bonus question." (To insert BOARD in this grid would really have meant a substantial rework, and Will wasn't going to ask me to do that.)
While I think "BOARD MEETINGS" is the superior titling option, I think both Bob and I understand that WS knows his audience a *lot* better than we do, and so giving it this more explicit, if less elegant, title was probably the right thing to do.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: *Either that ___ goes, or I do" (Oscar Wilde's reputed last words) (WALLPAPER) — possibly the best "WALLPAPER" clue of all time.
  • 25A: *Legislative V.I.P. (FLOOR LEADER)
  • 34A: *Object of superstition (BLACK CAT) — whoa ... don't know what a CAT BOARD is ... best I can tell, it's a board for a cat to scratch, perhaps to give it something to scratch other than your furniture.
  • 39A: *Annual N.F.L. event (COLLEGE DRAFT)
  • 54A: *Zigzag trail up a mountain (SWITCHBACK) — the first theme answer I got, and one of the earliest answers I got, PERIOD (52D: Stop sign?)
  • 72A: *Green Bay Packers fan (CHEESE HEAD) — amazing that this answer works for the theme. Good stuff.
  • 84A: *Tally (RUNNING SCORE)
  • 90A: *Lamp holder (END TABLE)
  • 98A: *Lure (DRAWING CARD)
  • 102A: *Cover-up (WHITEWASH)
  • 32D: *Wonder product (SANDWICH BREAD) — had the BREAD part and then was left wondering how to make WHITE stretch to 8 letters...
  • 35D: *Risking detention (CUTTING SCHOOL)
So I got off to another typically slow start (my starts have been terrible lately). A smattering of answers here, a smattering there, but no real hold. Even getting SWITCHBACK relative early only got me a scraggly handful of crosses. Then I hit 64D: "Open ___" (SESAME) and, aptly, the puzzle opened right up. That whole section went down in a matter of seconds. This got me up to CLUTCH (33D: Critical situation), which gave me the "H" I needed for HORDE (59A: Big band), and I was finally able to get out of the center and down into the bottom part of the puzzle.

I knew the puzzle was going to be brutal (for a Sunday) when I hit ROARK (15D: Family name in Frank Miller's "Sin City" series). I knew it, but could Not believe the puzzle was asking for it. Seemed like *such* a niche, comic book nerd kind of clue. "Who's going to know this?" Well, I did. But I doubt the majority of solvers did at first blush. ROARK was probably as obvious to most solvers as "THE ACT" was to me (i.e. not at all) (14D: 1977 Liza Minnelli musical). Or ADA (20A: "Cold Mountain" heroine). Or CARL (80A: Real first name of Alfalfa of the Little Rascals). Or IRENE (94D: Galsworthy's Mrs. Forsyte). Speaking of Forsyte, John Forsythe of "Dynasty" fame just died at the age of 92. He was quite the silver fox, and the cause of much cat-fighting between Krystle and Alexis.


[45A: German unity – EINS]

Bullets:
  • 29A: Dentiform : tooth :: pyriform : ___ (PEAR) — well, that took a while. "Tooth" had me thinking anatomically for too long.
  • 60A: Navigator William with a sea named after him (BARENTS)
  • 61A: Jazzy Chick (COREA) — This had me thinking about possible wacky theme answers like CHICK KOREA or CHICK CORNEA...
  • 66A: Something that might be hard to drink? (CIDER) — a great, Klahnish clue.
  • 74A: Chartres shout (CRI) — First thought: "What's the French equivalent of OLE?"
  • 92A: "The Flying Dutchman" tenor (ERIK) — been in puzzles before. Not sure if it'll ever stick. I was able to get it off the -IK, so I guess that's ... something.
  • 95A: Exotic berry in some fruit juices (AÇAÍ) — was wondering why I hadn't seen this berry in puzzles before (maybe I have and just forgot). Highly touted as a "superfood" by Oprah, among others.
  • 106A: 1986 rock autobiography ("I, TINA") — if clue involves 1986, autobiography, and music, it's "I, TINA," a very common crossword answer.
  • 112A: Interjection added to the O.E.D. in 2001 ("D'OH!") — [Homeric interjection] might have been more accurate:


  • 113A: Land called Mizraim in the Bible (EGYPT) — er, uh, no. Needed several crosses before this familiar country came into view.
  • 2D: Suffix with boff (-OLA) — seems a variation of "Boffo," which is some kind of hybrid of "Big Box Office," i.e. "a huge hit."
  • 4D: Birthplace of William Thackeray and Satyajit Ray (CALCUTTA) — "Somewhere in India" was the only guess I had 'til crosses made it evident. I get Thackeray and Trollope confused, as they are both 19c. British novelists I haven't read.
  • 9D: June "honoree," briefly (U.S. FLAG) — for a while, just had the "G," and had *no* idea what the scare quotes around "honoree" could mean. Then somehow the answer just came to me, and really helped solve that damned "FLOOR" area of the grid (FLAG proved the "F" in "FLOOR," for instance).
  • 28D: Gregg Allman's wife who filed for divorce after nine days (CHER) — took me way longer than it should have. Thought it was going to be some lady I'd never heard of.
  • 37D: Major party (TORIES) — only long after I'd finished did I get that "Major" was John Major, former P.M. of the U.K.
  • 49D: Cursed alchemist (MIDAS) — Tricky. Being an alchemist (i.e. changing whatever he touched to gold) *was* his curse. Also, what he asked for. Irony!


  • 56D: Coat named for a British lord (RAGLAN) — strangely, this was my first guess, with very little to go on. I cannot wear a coat or anything with a RAGLAN sleeve as I do not have the shoulders to pull it off. RAGLAN lost his arm in the Battle of Waterloo.
  • 69D: Epithet for Elizabeth I (ORIANA) — I teach Renaissance literature and it still took me a while to come up with this.
  • 70D: Sassy lassies (MINXES) — This clue has "ass" in it. Twice.
  • 76D: Half-circle window over a door (FAN LIGHT) — another complete mystery to me. Was looking for, I don't know, TRANSOM?
  • 80D: Resident of Daiquirí (CUBAN) — I know it as a drink, not a place. Last night I had something called a "French 76," I think, with gin and champagne and something else and all I could taste was champagne. Wife had a "Wimbley," which has Pimm's No. 5 (we don't know what that is) and ginger ale and is served with a cucumber wedge. Wife insisted that her cucumber was a "slice," not a "wedge." Discussion of specific properties of "wedge"-ness ensued. We could have been on an episode of "Nerd Date," if that were a show.
And now your Tweets of the Week — crossword chatter from the Twitterverse:

  • @sidspid Feet up, slippers on, Radio 4, the crossword, and a huge crack pipe. Sorry, cup of tea, that's it. Cup of tea.
  • @sassydotnet When I first looked at today's @nytimes crossword I thought I was having a stroke.
  • @bovinepublic Gaaaahhh, my pen exploded all over my hand while I was doing a crossword puzzle. Not cool, pen. Not cool.
  • @KylesBeard my nascent crossword addiction has alerted me to the alarming yeti fixation of crossword constructors. maybe they're on to something.
  • @UncouthGentlman NYT crossword clue: food for regular folks? Answer: Bran. Seriously, Will Shortz? A poop joke?
  • @bobdively Unusual Monday NYT xword puzzle fail due to insufficient hair style lore. (Why would anyone under 55 know Mamie Eisenhower had bangs?)


  • @atwong Why do I bother with the pretext of reading the paper when, truthfully, all I really care about is the crossword.
  • @krystalite Mom's doing a crossword puzzle in Rachel Ray's magazine. With every answer obtained, Mom's respect for Rachel Ray diminishes.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

70 comments:

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

I love Bob Klahn's work, but this one knocked me for a loop. I need a shower!

ArtLvr 8:54 AM  

I loved this Klahn, though it took three stabs to finish, last night and early dawn and now! The MINXES crossing COAX should have been obvious, but I'd taken out SHIN earlier for some reason and it was last to go back in...

RAGLAN to me is a type of sleeve, so that "coat" clue was a stretch, and I'd wanted a brandy of some sort waiting around rather than AGING. Neat.

The BOARD theme was clear at CUTTING SCHOOL and WALL PAPER etc., no problem.

NANAS or Grannies are back with Babushkas! I just wonder how many of us knew that one... Lots of odd bits like DEUCE for (What the) Dickens!

∑;)

Smitty 9:02 AM  

I hated it before I loved it

Van55 9:10 AM  

Saw the byline and thought I was in far a DNF today. Tough but doable. Some fantastic cluing: "sitting around for years..."; "kind of crazy"; "Spanish fleet".

Ulrich 9:27 AM  

When I got WALLPAPER, I had hopes that the word to be added would be "flower"--I was inspired, no doubt, by the daffodils coming up all over the garden, and it would have been a lovely Easter gift. But I was soon disabused of that notion--clearly, if you have to add the same word to that many other words, you need a more neutral or "bland" addendum. So, there goes my lovely Easter puzzle...this is not a criticism of the puzzle, which I admire--it's just that I'm in an easterly mood.

I struggled for a while with the idea that "one" can be a "unity", but then I thought, "two raindrops met, and they became one"--or is there more to it?

Bob Kerfuffle 9:48 AM  

Thanks, Rex, for the note from Bob Klahn. I was wondering why a puzzle like this would not contain the reveal.

There were a few things I didn't know, but crosses answered all my questions, and I thought overall it was Easy-Medium. Have to look up "CAT Board", though, since it cost me the most time accepting that.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:52 AM  

UGH!! I will assume Will Shortz did not look up "cat board" in the Urban Dictionary! Refer to it at your own risk!

Zeke 9:55 AM  

Finally, someone spoke the truth which apparently you've all been too cowardly to say before: " I think God intended for crosswords to be 15x15. It's a magical size."
I never have the patience to finish even the easiest of Sundays.
This one had the challenge going for it, but more than 230 squares is just too much for me.

imsdave 10:06 AM  

God bless Rex for the challenging rating - this took me a full hour of brainbashing. It felt very Fridayish at times.

Loved the payoff.

For those that subscribe, Happy Easter! On to the Harrington ham.

The Corgi of Mystery 10:15 AM  

Ouch. Pwned by the Klahn again. I think I might abstain from puzzles for a week out of shame.

JenCT 10:34 AM  

Wow, I haven't had to look up so much stuff.....ever. I'll have to study this one. Feeling a little humiliated...

Good thing it's Easter - I need chocolate. Lindt makes Easter bunnies now .... mmmmmm.

Jesse 10:36 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle. Oh, how I wish I hadn't taken the bait re: Urban Dictionary.

I found this relatively easy - knowing that the theme words had to pair with board helped immensely.

The worst section for me was US Flag/Upbow (it didn't help that I initially had osA for osO). I don't know any musical instuctions and I always expect them to be Italian. Plus, since I couldn't get Father to fit in for June honoree, I assumed it must be a saint. Y'know, the way March honoree is always StPat.

Overall, I really lied the puzzle and both clues and fill were of very high quality.

I hesitated for a while over 88D, even though I had the x. out = exit??

PlantieBea 10:37 AM  

I didn't look at the byline until I was halfway through the across clues with few answers. Ahhh, a Klahn puzzle...I feared defeat.

I watched a good chunk of "The Ten Commandments" while solving this last night, but put the finishing touches on the NE this AM. I wanted MISSING SCHOOL for way too long; didn't know the Blue Book project; and struggled with ROARK and THE ACT. But I'll take a Klahn solved error free, even if it came slowly. Loved CHEESEHEAD and the CIDER clue.

Thanks Bob Klahn for the puzzle and the note on the title. I prefer the original as well. Happy Easter.

Noam D Elkies 11:16 AM  

The clue for 113A:EGYPT was a gimme, or at least a shoutout, for all who are celebrating Pesach this week (or at least those of us who read the Haggadah in Hebrew). As for the rest, yes, very tough for a Sunday — swaths ranging from, oh, say Iowa to the Northeast Corridor stayed derisively white for way too long — but at least there are lots of good clues, and the mysterious entries are a much more interesting and varied collection than the usual interminable parade of names of people so famous that I've never heard of them. I eventually remembered seeing the 60A:BARENTS sea in a map (not "Berents", though 56D:RAGLAN might as well be Reglan or Roglan for all I know of it) and started piecing it together from that. Speaking of Berents, what's a "class board"? "Cutting class" is indeed a better answer than 35D:CUTTINGSCHOOL for the clued "Risking detention", but it's too short.

110A:MERYL Streep even I've heard of, but took a long time to enter not just because it seemed too easy in context but also because I had already entered RFD for 99D:RTE with too much confidence...

29A:PEAR is indeed unexpected, though it does turn out to be cognate with "pyri-", and even to have some anatomical examples.

95A:AÇAI [m-w.com doesn't accent the I, though the accent makes sense] indeed makes its first appearance in the puzzle. I don't speak Oprah but I see way too much of the word in online ads. 112A:DOH has 40 xwordinfo entries; each of the "Homeric" and the OED route has been taken just once before, and to me both seem equally accurate (and about equally refreshing).

93A:AXILLAS is way too pretty a word for its referent. BTW I'd have expected "axillae", but both plurals are dictionary-approved, and neither has been seen before, though we've had one AXILLAR and ten instances of the singular. Confusingly, the similar-looking VEXILLA is already plural...

NDE

Norm 11:33 AM  

A nice Sunday morning workout. Funny, I had more gimmes in the theme answers (e.g., BLACKCAT, CHEESEHEAD, SWITCHBACK, CUTTINGSCHOOL) than in the other fill, and it still took me a good 20 minutes. Very enjoyable to work through, even though I couldn't see BOARD until the very end.

Jim H 11:42 AM  

Did anybody beside me read "boff" as a verb?

Agree that this was Fridayish in its difficulty level. LOVED the cross of AKIRA Kurosawa with AH, SO.

mac 12:02 PM  

Fantastic Sunday puzzle, for once I didn't want it to get finished. Loved the tricky clues even for little words, and I seemed to be on Mr. Klahn's wavelength, no googles whatsoever.

2 Dutchmen in the puzzle, and three English writers. Favorite word: skaliwag.

RAGLAN coats are not just about the sleeves: there is no shoulder seam, the sleeves go right up to the neckline/collar. Good shape for people with swimmer's shoulders (moi).

@imsdave: it's Smithfield in my house, plus poached salmon for the vegetarians. I had better get to it.

jesser 12:06 PM  

Thanks, Rex, for the John Forsythe clip. Very timely.

This puzzle kept me flitting all over the place. It took me WAY too long to give up armada at 6D, but when I did, that sector finally fell. Similar problem at 13D where I wanted stealths. Once I realized it wasn't a plural, I cleared that up. Talk about your wicked cluing!

In my world, chin does not equal CHAT, so that gummed up the gears.

And I had to come here for ORIANA and MINXES, because I had AXILLAe, and it flummoxed me.

Nitpick of the day: In New Mexico, 66D is simply an error. It is ALWAYS spelled 'chile'. CHILI is that imitation stuff they serve with noodles in Cincinnati and which should be banned from the planet. Not that we feel strongly.

Happy Easter, to the Christian Rexites. Happy Sunday to the rest of you. I'm going out to the desert in Wild Hair for a day of figuring out nature.

Emash! (what they use to make internets whiskey) -- jesser

JayWalker 12:19 PM  

It constantly amazes me that "I'm not the only one!!" Rex: Sesame opened up the entire puzzle for me too. Until then I was all over the place and gettin' nowhere fast! Then - it just opened up. Noam D: I too waffled on Meryl forever because I just wouldn't give up RFD either. And I just loved being fooled on Armada. All in all a very good time this Sunday a.m.

David L 12:22 PM  

Tough! I had to google for Project Blue Book, but then that last little section fell into place. Didn't help that I started with 'virgin' for Eliz I -- the virgin queen and all that.

Couple of answers still make no sense to me. "Drawing card" for lure? Don't know what that means. And natural sevens? As opposed to unnatural ones? Is this some gaming term?

edith b 12:38 PM  

I had a contradictory response to Rex's write-up today. He is right that 15x15 is the ideal size for a puzzle grid, but, IMOO, the oversized Sunday puzzle is indeed a slog. I love Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia Ice Cream, but a quart at one sitting is a bit much.

There is a reason Mr Klahn does so few Sunday sized puzzles and I think Rex's Challenging rating is based more on its size than anything else.

I've already bitten off more than I can chew and will stop now and fight no more . . .

Martin 12:40 PM  

I like Will's title substitution for a simple reason: it added a puzzle to the puzzle. Having to work out "board" was a nice extra.

Stan 12:40 PM  

Trying to come up with something good to say about this puzzle, I can think of only: "I finished it!"

Now it's time to put some food out on the CAT BOARD for my kitties waiting for me to get done with it.

Oh, I guess that's another good thing: clever clue for AGING.

Rex Parker 12:57 PM  

Will's title added absolutely *nothing* to the puzzle that wasn't already beautifully there with "BOARD MEETINGS" as a title. You've gotta figure out "BOARD" one way or the other.

rp

addie loggins 1:01 PM  

This one was a killer. When I remarked that this was the toughest Sunday I'd ever seen, Puzzle-Step-Niece-(the elder) said that's probably because Will knows that it's Easter and so families will be together and this will give them something to do as a group for most of the morning. I think she's right. Usually I prefer to solve the puzzle by myself, but today I was grateful for the help.

We did finish, but it took a very long time.

The only nitpick for me is "catboard." It's called a scratching post. I've never heard of a "catboard." Otherwise, I agree that the theme was far more elegant that these themes normally are. Well done.

JenCT 1:10 PM  

Okay, I hope CATboard refers to a scratching surface for cats' claws, and not what I just saw on Urban Dictionary - disgusting. Sorry I looked at that.

jae 1:17 PM  

Tough puzzle with a very clever theme. I rarely feel I won't be able to finish a Sun. but I had that feeling for most of this one. Indicative is that I went through PIN (bowling) and RIM (tire) before getting RIB for 6a. Anyone else try REPLAY for 67d?

joho 1:32 PM  

Absolutely loved this Sunday puzzle! No easy to feat to create. And the clever Klahn cluing just added to the fun.

My Chartres CRI is merci!

mac 1:44 PM  

I didn't look at Urban Dictionary, but Google showed me a Emery Cat Board, to manicure the feline.

lit.doc 1:50 PM  

DNF. Had everything west of the Mississippi River worked out before I gave up and went to bed last night, but didn’t make much more progress this morning. 36D UNIQUE and the 13D AIRCRAFT to WARCRAFT to WARPLANE devolution are symptomatic of the east coast.

@jesser, me too re CHIN = CHAT?? Hell, google couldn’t even explain that one to me. Anybody have a cogent explanation? And BTW, speaking for Colorado, Arizona, and Tejas, it is unequivocally CHILE.

Fav clues were 6D “Spanish fleet?” (I wonder how many slammed ARMADA and moved on) and 63A “Sitting around for years waiting to get drunk” (a poignant evocation of unrequited intoxication, eh Tinbeni?).

lit.doc 1:56 PM  

@jae, I forgot to say "me too" re 67D REPLAY. And stuck with it tenaciously for the longest time.

Martin 1:57 PM  

Rex,

Figuring out the theme (words that can precede "board") given "board" is like getting any of an infinite number of CrosSynergy themes. As presented, this is quite different. I found it much more interesting and challenging. I'm surprised you don't see a difference.

Noam D. Elkies 2:00 PM  

@David L: the clue for 46D:SEVENS comes from the game of craps, where an initial throw of 7 or 11 on two dice is a "natural" that wins the round immediately (whereas initial 2, 3, or 12 is "craps" and loses).

Forgot to mention: Mizraim (or "Mitzrayim", which better indicates the pronunciation) is also cognate with the country's Arabic name Miṣr, which a solver might have encountered even outside the Hebrew Bible. "Egypt" has a more convoluted etymology, with the final "pt" coming ultimately from "Ptah"!

NDE

Ulrich 2:00 PM  

@mac: re. Raglan--the opposite is also true: If you DON'T have those shoulders, it's one of the most unflattering coats you can wear. Besides, is salmon a vegetable in Holland?

syndy 2:02 PM  

was once referred to asa a "chinwag" then shortened to CHin .Liked the puzzle but found it easy

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

I had to show your bullet re 70D to my wife (also a fan). I made the same comment when I ordered lemongrass sea bass at a Vietnamese restaurant last night and she said I was being juvenile.

Elaine 2:33 PM  

I am so glad I did not check the name of the constructor before solving! I might have psyched myself out. Instead, I had a good time getting on the wavelength and clicking on the clever clues.

Many misdirected answers on my part--LATE FOR SCHOOL is as bad as I ever got; and I thought it was BARENDS Sea. Tried THE WIZ and AIR PLANE....and HORUS for [Big band], DEVIL for [Dickens.] I did catch onto _BOARD very early, and it helped a wee bit.

@Zeke
C'mon. Be a man!
@JimH
Your [boff] comment made me laugh!
@mac
What kind of vegetarians ARE those?

This puzzle was not a quick solve. Would you believe that my husband actually came in to check what I was up to-- he said I was being too quiet! (Probably thought I was putting a rubber band on the sink sprayer or something.)

Great puzzle--NOT too easy; not too hard; Juuuuuust Right!

edith b 2:55 PM  

@jesser & @lit.doc-

When I was teaching school in the Bronx in the 70s, I heard a lot kids say "we were just chinnin'" to describe a friendly conversation.

I'm not sure if it is exclusively a black convention but that is where I heard it.

Ruth 2:59 PM  

END BOARD? TABLE BOARD? What are those? I mean, yeah, tables have boards, but it's not a common expression. No discussion on this above, so I must be missing something.

tptsteve 3:01 PM  

Fantastic puzzle- I'm glad I'm not the only one who struggled to finish. I thought I had nailed the grid until I found a wrong letter in armpit- AXILLA- I had filled in EDIT for 88D first, instead of exit. DOH!

I felt a great deal of satisfaction figuring out "board."

wiesin- heimer's better half

JF 3:36 PM  

Didn't find this one too tough. I guess I got lucky. Idaho took a little extra time, but mostly because I clung to PIN for 6A for far too long, but that was the only slowdown. Didn't know half the proper names, or THE ACT, but crosses made it pretty straightforward.

I thought the Afterword was "room". It works for many of the starred clues (drawing room, card room, white room, wash room, headroom, running room, etc), so I didn't even bother trying any other words. I didn't discover my mistake until reading here.

WilsonCPU 3:41 PM  

I didn't get END BOARD or TABLE BOARD either... at least "TABLE BOARD" is in dictionary.com, but not END BOARD. And CAT BOARD was only found at Urban Dictionary, though the scratching device is much preferable. Anyway, END BOARD???? WTF???
- from SyndicationLand

Anonymous 3:54 PM  

The wrath of Klahn!!!! hardest ever. wanted an easter theme. Busy all day cooking. No time for the puzzle.

And google still won't accept me :-(

CHEFBEA

Glitch 4:15 PM  

@WilsonCPU

Rather obscure if either is the intended answer, but:

END BOARD:
(Ice Hockey) A section of the board between the corners in each end of the rink,

(Carpentry) The 2"x6" board on located on two sides of the decks perimeter and attach to the end of each support boards. Hoses boards do not have dek-block piers under them and are non-load bearing.

Either is on a par with TABLE BOARD, [yuck].

Other than this, enjoyed the puzzle, about average cups for Sunday.

.../Glitch

skweeds 4:19 PM  

Ha ha at urbandictionary's catboard. I imagine it's one of those made-up definitions that has never actually been used in practice... I hope not, anyway.
I was surprised to see Project Blue Book because though I did know it was a UFO-type thing, I knew that because Major Briggs on Twin Peaks (David Lynch's nutty ABC serial from 1990) mentioned it... Seeing as how most of that show was completely off the wall, I never would have guessed PBB actually existed.

Anyway, very tricky puzzle today, but fun nonetheless.

"The Owls Are Not What They Seem"
-ACMK

Steve J 4:46 PM  

One of the few times I can recall enjoying a puzzle I was so frustrated by. I couldn't get anything established forever, with answers scattered all over the place. (Coincidentally, SWITCHBACK was also my first theme answer. And I would have picked up on the theme way earlier had the original title of "Board Meeting" been left intact, I think, as there was nothing with the WS title to give me any clue.)

I ended up googling way more than I can recall on a Sunday puzzle in ages, and eventually I had a DNF. But there were so many clue/answer combos that I loved, that my frustration at never getting into the groove on this one didn't matter so much. Definitely challenging. But in a good way.

(Btw, @Jim H, you were definitely not alone in reading "boff" as a verb. Also, @Noam D Elkies, I also wanted CUTTINGCLASS - we always said that, never "cutting school", but as you mentioned it didn't fit. Nor did SLICEDBREAD, which is what I wanted for a long time for the Wonder clue.)

archaeoprof 5:12 PM  

In-laws here, and a Klahn puzzle. All in all, a hard day.

Clark 5:46 PM  

Loved the puzzle. Nice to know it was hard work for others too. I think 'Board Meetings' would have been a great title. (I am a big fan of the elegance of no notes or bonuses.)

I had a very slow start. Then CHEESE HEAD gave me CARNE, CHILI and CIDER, and then the darn thing just started filling itself in. Except for the whole East Coast from CAT to AXILLAS, which put up an enormous fight. Along came semi-puzzle partner, who looked over my shoulder and gave me CUTTING SCHOOL, and I got the rest.

your average blank 6:12 PM  

superb puzzle....took three of us to finish it...family is all here for Easter ham. thank you Mr Kahn.

raidodaze 7:52 PM  

Some obscure Ice Hockey term! And TABLEBOARD, Any puzzle is hard with enough esoteric answers in it!Bah! I put BOARD with a ? because I couldn't make sense of those 2 and CATBOARD! WTF!

Debra 8:12 PM  

Hard puzzle. I think I owe wikipedia a donation.

mac 9:03 PM  

@Ulrich and @Elaine: you are right. Not meat eaters, I guess, just seafood. I actually know a "vegetarian" who only eats fish and seafood and the occasional bloody filet mignon!

Zeke 10:04 PM  

@Mac - That's a "Flexitarian". Veggies only, unless the meat looks really, really good.

foodie 10:28 PM  

@archaeoprof, lol

But did you also cook for them? If not, I got you beat.

This was like trying to unravel a sweater that has a pattern of knots. Give a tug and a lot unravels, then you hit a knot. Spend time to undo it, then tug and a lot of progress... This is a weird association, I know. From my childhood, when I'd help knitters in the family unravel knitted garments to recycle/reuse the yarn.

For some reason, I think the title proposed by Klahn may have made things a bit easier for me. I worked from the bottom up and with DRAWING CARD, I immediately guessed BOARD, but then I discarded it because of CAT and TABLE. I understand that "Meetings" is tricky. But I've learned to play with these titles every which way to see what they reveal, so I'd like to think that it would have been enough (and certainly more elegant). I guess I'll never know for sure.

retired_chemist 10:52 PM  

Not so tough IMO. Medium. Got the theme quickly from the bonus question, which helped. Agree CAT board is kinda a stretch, but the rest were truly fine.

EINS (45A) was a minor WTF - wanted EINHEIT. Then I got it - ergo, 112A.

ORIANA was cool - I did not know that.

CoolPapaD 11:49 PM  

Have to echo everyone else - loved this, and it was tough! Thanks to NDE for clarifying natural 7, and for telling me what Mitzrayim means, after all these years (40+)of hearing Dahyenu! Why does a country's name change in other languages? For instance, why do we call Germany "Germany," and not the name that was given to it by its own people, anyway?

Anyone still awake that can explain 6D? Got it from the crosses, but I'm a blank , and don't know why some others found it clever. Ditto for 59A - HORDE??

Thanks - hope that those that are still awake didn't get too shaken up by the quake!

edith b 12:27 AM  

@CoolPapaD-

6DA Spanish fleet is looking for a word that defines fast or quick = rapido.

59A Big band = large group = HORDE

CoolPapaD 12:56 AM  

@edith b - My tired brain thanks you! My mind had somehow confused HOARD and HORDE, and the clue made no sense - now it is obvious. Ditto for rapido - my brain is lento!

Steve J 1:07 AM  

@CoolPapaD: Country names will change in different languages typically because of different associations of a particular area with a different group. Sometimes one group of languages will name things based on a characteristic of the place, while others will name it for a notable people who live (or once lived) there. Sometimes there are linguistic evolutions that aren't immediately obvious (the Italian "tedeschi" or "tedesco" for "German" comes from the same Old German root of diutisc of "Deutsch"). Sometimes they're just plain mistakes or inaccurate (like the English using "Dutch" to refer only to people from the Netherlands).

In the case of Germany, you can find out far more than you may ever want to know in this Wikipedia article on the different names of Germany.

It is odd that English, a Germanic language, doesn't use a variant of the Germanic Deutsch. I don't remember the historic reasons that English came to associate "Dutch" with only the Germanic portion of the Low Countries, but I suspect that's why we use "Germany" instead of something like "Dutchland."

gih 1:17 AM  

Wew! my favorite cartoon tv series is "The Simpsons". Such a good TV series.

andrea chat michaels 3:06 AM  

Perhaps Cher found Gregg's catboard on Day 8.

Blackhawk 4:29 AM  

"Board meetings" would not have been a good title. It would have made this truly outstanding puzzle way too easy.

However -- I don't understand why they went the "bonus answer" route here with the clue that ties the puzzle together.

I would have thought that the conventional and better way to go would be to have "board" be an answer somewhere in the puzzle clued as "word that goes before and after each word of the starred answers."

Can one of the construction experts tell me why this method was not used, or was it just artistic choice not to go that route?

I have another title for this one, given its difficulty and still using the unifying board concept: "Walk the Plank."

Glitch 9:28 AM  

@Blackhawk

Fully explained in Rex's writeup.

.../Glitch

Anonymous 6:23 PM  

RP - the drink you had was a French 75, not 76. Named after a gun used by the French in WWI.

Strong gun = strong drink

Gin, champagne and tom collins or other lemony mix.

Two will kill you - I speak from experience.

dorisdayo 9:15 PM  

I found this puzzle difficult and worked on it since Sunday and finally came here for a few answers I couldn't get. I don't understand why many people didn't get that "board" was used after either the first part of the clue or the last part of the clue.
dandydee

jb sacto 9:07 PM  

Got the delayed version today - couldn't for the life of me figure out the theme. Sacramento Bee apparently omitted the parenthetical addendum to the puzzle's title ("What word can follow each starred clue?)"!

Nailed it anyway, but it was a struggle.

jano 4:01 PM  

Thanks to Chicago Sun Times' delay of one week of this puzzle, I write on 4/17. I was sure the "some naturals" clue for 47D was for the "Seven Natural wonders of the World," for which there is a global poll initiative was started in 2007 by a Swiss. It has some 28 finalists, including the Bay of Fundy, Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef, and Uluru (a great crossword) found in Wikipedia at New Seven Wonders of Nature.

jano 4:08 PM  

Sorry, 46D. My head was filled with 7's.

Anonymous 4:50 PM  

Just now finished this one, and never did understand the theme, so I had to come here for help figuring it out. I was flummoxed because the version I did was from the International Herald Tribune, which left out the parenthetical addendum to the title! And I had no clue what was meant by "After Word". So thanks to all for a very entertaining post-mortem on this very clever puzzle!

siukong 1:20 PM  

I had the same issue as the person above me. No "bonus question" included. I thought that there was either some sort of mixing and matching or a word chain that I just couldn't figure out (COLLEGE PAPER, PAPERBACK, etc.)

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