Brachyodont perissodactyls / SUN 8-8-10 / Jazz great nicknamed Jumbo / God who killed the dragon Python four days after his birth

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Constructor: Pam Klawitter (which anagrams to Time Warp Talk)

Relative difficulty: MODERATE


THEME: 3x8 — Eight circled 3-letter terms are scattered throughout the grid, each cluing a theme answer

Word of the Day: LETT (46A: Dweller on the Baltic) —

1. n. A member of a Baltic people constituting the main population of Latvia. [German Lette, from Latvian Latvi.] —The American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition, via thefreedictionary.com

2. n. A knuckleheaded football player whose premature celebration of a fumble runback cost the Dallas Cowboys a touchdown in Super Bowl XXVII, a play voted #1 by fans in ESPN's "25 Biggest Sports Blunders" poll according to Wikipedia.
• • •
Ben here, filling in for Rex. If my name and picture ring a bell it's because I occasionally comment here on weekends, and/or because last May I sat in for Rex on a Saturday.

Now he's invited me back to cover the Sunday puzzle, which is a little weird for me since I rarely do Sunday crosswords; I prefer Friday and Saturday puzzles. Plus I like to remain Sunday-ignorant because my parents often give me their leftover Sunday New York Times Magazine, where I solve the KenKens, variety puzzles and, from time to time, the crosswords.

In this case, my concern was not solving the puzzle or writing about it, but rather the timing of it all. In May, when I wrote about a tough Saturday puzzle, I couldn't get my hands on the puzzle until it hit the NYT site at 9 p.m. Chicago time. It was my first time sitting in here, I wanted to do a good job, I didn't know how long it would take to write it up, I knew the puzzle would be hard, and Rex wanted the writeup posted first thing Saturday morning.

Thus I cleared my Friday evening to write about the puzzle, skipping my Friday night restaurant club and giving up a pair of primo seats to see the Venezualan conductor Gustavo Dudamel lead his Los Angeles Philharmonic at Chicago's Symphony Center. (We bourgeois, how we struggle.) Sure enough, I ended up writing and editing until the wee hours.

So this time, when Rex asked me to write up the Sunday puzzle, my initial reaction was one of mild panic. Solving and writing something semi-coherent about a 15x15 in eleven overnight hours was hard enough, but a 21x21 (probably)? Yikes!

Last May I wrote the following:
... So the next time I do this, if there is a next time, it would be nice if I could somehow get an early look at the puzzle (cue "Mission: Impossible" theme).
Little did I know at the time how serendipity would strike, though sadly not in the form of Kate Beckinsale.

When I got the call from Rex, all I could think was, I have to get that thing before 9 p.m. Saturday Chicago time (or even 5 p.m., when it turns out the Sunday puzzle is released) so I don't have to skip another night out and pull an all-nighter writing about a big puzzle.

Yes, I happen to know Will Shortz and could have asked him for a copy, but I didn't want to bother him and that felt like cheating. This was my Devil Wears Prada "get the new unpublished Harry Potter book" moment.

As we learned in that book/movie, Northwestern alums are nothing if not resourceful, or maybe just lucky. Last weekend I had dinner with an old NU law school classmate who was visiting with his girlfriend, a ranking Hollywood executive based in New York City. They mentioned that they were in the habit of solving the Sunday New York Times crossword together on Fridays or Saturdays; she gets it midweek because the NYT distributes advance copies of the Sunday features sections to colleagues in the media industry as a professional courtesy.

Suddenly it occurred to me: I didn't have to pester Will Shortz. I could pester my friends, which I did with an email on Wednesday, and they immediately came through (thanks again). So I've had this puzzle since Wednesday afternoon, which by the way has felt like walking around with contraband. With that much lead time, only my lack of writing ability will take the blame for the mediocrity of this writeup.

But you didn't come here to read about my life, you came here to find out what a brachyodont perissodactyl is, so Lett's do this thing.

Like I said, I usually just do the Friday and Saturday puzzle; I also do Peter Gordon's Fireball Crossword. So I live in a world of mostly themeless puzzles and I'm not in the best position to judge one theme, or its execution, against another.

Still, I've solved a themed crossword or two, and I thought this one was reasonably elegant. I'll defer to the many people who will know better than I whether the "circled letters cluing the themed answers" thing has been done before, but I've never seen it.

Theme answers:
  • 22A: TELEPATHSGIFT (ESP)
  • 39A: WEBGIGGLE (LOL)
  • 61A: LOSTNETWORK (ABC)
  • 70A: RNSPECIALTY (TLC)
  • 88A: CASHCACHE (ATM)
  • 111A: CRIMEFIGHTERS (FBI)
  • 16D: PROMISSORYNOTE (IOU)
  • 50D: ESPIONAGEGROUP (CIA)

If I were in a mood to quibble, I might point out that CIA and FBI are probably too similar, or complain that the inclusion of both of them depressingly brings to mind Lawrence Wright's New Yorker article about how the CIA might have stopped an FBI detective from preventing 9/11.

I could also bemoan that PROMISSORYNOTE is giving me chilling flashbacks to wrestling with Article 7 of the Uniform Commercial Code as a law student, or that RNSPECIALTY intersects its clue, TLC, which seems slightly impure.

But I am in no mood to quibble. It's 8:23 a.m. on a gorgeous Saturday morning, the humidity that has strangled Chicago for weeks has finally disappeared, I'm playing tennis today and tomorrow, and life is good. I found this theme fresh and enjoyable. Nice work, Ms. Klawitter.

As for the puzzle itself, as Will Shortz has said, the Sunday puzzle is written at about a Thursday-plus difficulty level. It plays to a wider audience than the daily crossword and generally includes easy, medium and difficult clues so there's something for everyone. That was true in this case.

There was also stuff I liked and stuff I didn't...

Stuff I liked:

My favorite types of clue are trivia clues and open-ended clues.

A trivia clue is a quiz question. If you don't know it you have to puzzle it out, then you learn something about the answer. Examples here include 19A: God who killed the dragon Python four days after his birth (APOLLO), 3D: 1928 musical composition originally called "Fandango" (BOLERO) and 59D: Jazz great nicknamed Jumbo (ALHIRT).



Incidentally, why is ALHIRT in so many crossword puzzles? I have nothing against the guy, and I'm no jazz expert, but I consider BIRD, TRANE, DUKE, LADYDAY, MILES, SATCH et al. at least as big in jazz as ALHIRT. Yet it seems like ALHIRT's platter gets a lot more plays.

There are of course practical reasons for the inclusion of certain names (Chris ROCK is funnier but ARTE Johnson's in all the puzzles), but this one isn't like ELLA or ETTA, double-vowel-ended and four letters long. It's ALHIRT!

An open-ended clue is a phrase like 116D: One of the Kennedys (EUNICE) or 74D: It has a bottom but no top (SANDAL), where the answer could be a lot of different things. After pondering it for a minute you usually have to get at least a letter or two before you can deduce it. In the latter case I had S_____ and I was like, um, STERNO? This open-ended clue happened to have an open-toed answer.

Relatedly, 8D: Drink from a bowl (EGGNOG) took me a little while, in part because it wasn't clear whether "drink" was a noun or a verb, and in part because I couldn't think of a drink in a bowl since I have a brain the size of a brontosaurus' (that apostrophe makes a key distinction).

I also like when clues are repeated in a puzzle, as in 46A: Dweller on the Baltic (LETT) and 51A: Dwellers on the Baltic (POLES). Repeating answers is a crossword no-no but you can reuse clues. This is a more benign form of many solvers' bane, the dreaded cross-reference ("46-Down attachment" and "See 19-Across").

72D: Jason who plays Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter films (ISAACS) — I like seeing Harry Potter stuff in crosswords. ISAACS is good in this role, by the way.

21A: Heads (OBVERSE) — I like that the front side of a coin is the obverse side, and I like that I knew it.

I liked 54D: Candy giant, informally (NESTLES) because this is a rare case where the informal version of a name is longer than the actual name.

Also liked LAPTOPS next to IMACS, as they are in the Apple store.

Stuff I didn't like:

119A: Tot tender (SITTER). If the answer has -ER meaning "someone who does something" then the clue should not.

48A: People holding signs at airports (MEETERS). This wasn't hard to figure out, and yes, these are people who meet people, but if they're called anything it's GREETERS. The only time I have ever heard the word MEETER is as a nickname for my poker buddy AMEET. This didn't bother me that much, but I know some people are sticklers for answers being "in the language."

Speaking of which, I was not crazy about all the -ER words (SITTER, PLATER, MEETERS, LOSER), not to be confused with the more acceptable ones (INNER, CATERS, CASTER, ASNERS, KYSER, CAPERS). Overuse of -ERs makes for blah fill. Mike Nothnagel does not do this, enough said.



83D: Shepherd of "The View"(SHERRI) is in the New York Times crossword puzzle? Ugh. This is a woman who not only did not know whether the Earth was round or flat, but testily defended her own ignorance on the grounds that she was busy raising her child. Wow. Next up: Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

As long as I'm offering gratuitous criticism of media celebrities, I have no crossword issue with 24A: Dow Jones publication (BARRONS), but politics aside, and on behalf of all who appreciate good journalism, I must register my disappointment with the Bancroft family for selling out to Rupert Murdoch.

Bullets:
  • 36A: New York subway inits. (IRT) — Wanted MTA and also thought of the too-long PATH, which is more of a New York-New Jersey subway, and LIRR, which is a Long Island railroad, which is why they call it the Long Island Railroad. (By the way, PATH is an acronym for Port Authority Trans-Hudson, which is the kind of thing you learn by reading the fine print on PATH signage as you ride beneath the Hudson River en route to Sheridan Square, Christopher Street in the West Village.)
  • 102D: Part of Q.E.D. (ERAT) — When I see Q.E.D., I smell ERAT.
  • 44A: Like some proverbial milk (SPILT) — This is a vaguely British, old-timey past participle and adjective form of the verb "spill," the proverb of course referring to milk not worth crying over. A casual Google search barely reveals its existence, and then only in the context of milk or blood. I submit that it would also be excellent shorthand for the band name Built to Spill.
  • 58A: Stephen of "The Musketeer" (REA) — "Oh my God, that's not an EPEE!"
  • 5D: River in "Kubla Khan" (ALPH) — Wanted STYX but knew it was in Xanadu, not Hades, that Kubla Khan did a stately pleasure-dome decree. I read this great poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge as I embarked on English majorhood in the fall of my junior year at the University of Michigan, in Prof. Ralph Williams' broad survey of Western literature from 1600 to the present. Guess who was a first-year PhD candidate at the time and a TA in that class, though not my TA? Our own Rex Parker.
  • 96D: Prevent (ESTOP) — Speaking of law school, this is a common legal term. So is its noun form, ESTOPPEL. I seem to recall that you are not estopped from doing something, you are estopped to do it.
  • 112D: Pronunciation guide std. (IPA) — India Pale Ale? No, it's the International Phonetic Alphabet.
  • 78A: Flatware finisher (PLATER) —Wanted LUSTER, which made little sense, and PEWTER, which made no sense since the entire flatware, not just the finish, would be made of pewter. Brontosaurus brain, remember?
  • 87A: Row of stables, in Britain (MEWS) — Could anything be more pleasant than a row of stables in Britain? (Answer: a row of stables in Britain with a line of ducklings walking by.)
  • 115A: Brachyodont perissodactyls (TAPIRS) — Come on, give us something we don't know.
OK, I think I've rambled enough. Thanks to Rex for once again tossing me the keys. As I said in May, if he's the King of CrossWorld then I'm the Dauphin Prince, sitting on the throne in a too-big crown.

When not pinch-hitting here, I write a blog called Ben Bass and Beyond. Please stop by and check it out some time.

Actually, there are some recent puzzle stories on the bottom half of the main page. Will Shortz used a puzzle of mine as the weekly NPR listener challenge a few weeks ago, and I write about giving him the puzzle over breakfast at the National Puzzlers League convention in Seattle. I also explain how he edited it for the air. (Syndication solvers will have to scroll down to the bottom and click Older Posts, or just click on July in the timetable of recent posts.)

Since you read Rex Parker, you might also check out the Puzzles section at the top of the page. And Rex is a "follower," so you should be too.

I seem to recall that Rex will return on Tuesday. I hope he's enjoying his trip and getting over his cold. Not sure who's writing here tomorrow, but I'm sure it will be someone good.

Until then,

Ben Bass, Dauphin Prince
for Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

46 comments:

Steve J 2:10 AM  

Ben, I found your bullet for 102D at least 50 times more entertaining than anything I found in the puzzle. (As for 58A: I thought Stephen REA was most famous for discovering a metaphorical EPEE where none was expected.)

This puzzle and I weren't remotely on the same wavelength. I'm not sure we were even in the same part of the spectrum. So many things that felt clunky to me. The concept behind the theme seems fine, but the long-form answers frequently fell flat for me. Especially the TLC/RN pairing. I'm sure the constructor didn't have this in mind, but it nevertheless came across as off. At best, it seems like an anachronistic and somewhat sexist reckoning of nurses. They're highly skilled medical professionals, not pillow-fluffers.

The less said about MEETERS, the better.

I did like the cluing for SANDAL, and for reasons I can't explain, I really like the word OBVERSE. Pickings for me get slim after that.

Do people actually say NESTLEES?

des 2:16 AM  

Where is everybody? It's Saturday night, so somebody has to be awake besides me.

I'm looking forward to hearing what others think about the shape of the puzzle. That is, the placement of the three letter clues is not at all uniform. What am I missing? (Rex usually comes up with these patterns, but, sigh, he is not here to help).

A few quibbles of my own: What in the clue for 20D (THE MET)would indicate the use of the short form of the Metropolitan Opera? Similarly, what about 51A (POLES) for people in Poland (although I admit this is the general usage)? Finally, what is the indication for the 91A accronym (LANS) in that clue? Also, that clue does not really refer to Local Area Networks per se. That is,they may be hooked up for telecommunication purposes but they don't have to be.

Anyway, you get the idea.

Anonymous 3:39 AM  

Wow, that performance of 'BOLERO' had everything but a parade of elephants. I've never seen a musician sex up playing the English horn before. And what's with the belching flames?

Entertaining write-up. Thanks, Ben. Favorite thing: your tapir baby. OMG.

chefwen 3:54 AM  

I, for one, loved this puzzle, thought it was very clever and imaginative. Took me a little time to catch onto the theme, but when I did it was very helpful.

Printed it out for @Clark and Co. so they could work on it on their way back to the Midwest. Sorry that they have to leave so soon, but we will be here when they return.

Aloha my friends.

CoolPapaD 7:04 AM  

Nice work, Ben - very entertaining!

I really enjoyed this one, and managed to finally finish, but WOW - had too many missteps to count. SHAGS for 57D (don't people SHAG fly balls?) and DEANE for 47D had me looking at at a theme answer that ended with HONK, so this section took the longest to fix.

PROMISSORY NOTES makes me think of the "Game of Life" board game, where you'd cruise around that board with your little plastic car, loaded with little plastic peg-children, and ultimately end up at your Day of Reckoning!

"Band composition" was a tricky clue (49D), especially without a question mark.

Had to do a post-puzzle Google to find that the heads side of a coin is called the OBVERSE - have never seen this, as far as I can recall.

chefbea 8:34 AM  

Fun easy Sunday puzzle. And good write-up Ben.

Glad I finished so early...have 10 people coming here today for a birthday party. Hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.
my famous summer salad, potato salad and of course b-day cake.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

Was I the only one who noticed that some answers were missing their clues? Or did my printer just take liberties at odd junctures?

Clyde Anderson Tolson 9:08 AM  

Attention New Yorker :FBI Agents , not FBI Detectives. Their title is "Special Agent."

Noam D. Elkies 9:24 AM  

Interesting theme, though the title "3x8" is rather uninspired (and if I could think of nothing better I'd have written it "8x3"). Note that each of the circle clues is a TLA, even ABC which usually is not acronymic. The cross-references can be used in reverse: I got the IOU of 65A:PIOUS from 16D:PROMISSORY_NOTE, not the other way round.

What I didn't care for is the ridiculous overload (the technical term is c**pload) of purportedly famous names in the puzzle — the NYTimes blog lists 18. With all that nameage there's no excuse for cluing 108A:MAY as Spider-Man's blooming *unt when the Y crosses 100D:KYSER. "May" is a perfectly good word, with two different common meanings, offering a huge scope for fresh clues as easy or hard as desired. There's no need to resort to a sub-subsidiary cartoon character; that's just taking the easy way out. Even worse when it could just as well be MAE for solvers not up on their 1930's bandleaders (yes, I wrote in Keser).

Ben gushes about trivia — "If you don't know it you have to puzzle it out, then you learn something about the answer" — but that applies only when the answer is already familiar (3D:BOLERO is a great example; BTW thanks for the link, though fans with uncompromised attention spans should check out Ravel's original as well). There's no such payoff here: all we get is yet another addition to the interminable parade of random names that keep bubbling to the surface of the quagmire of popular culture...

NDE

P.S. Thanks to Ben Bass for stepping in for Rex.

DBGeezer 9:30 AM  

@coolpapad, I made the same SHAG mistake, but we SWAT houseflies.

The title of this puzzle is 2010 3X8
Can someone please explain?

Ben, I hope you appear more often. Thanks to the NTH degree

Time to bite the capcha BILIT and move on

DBGeezer 9:33 AM  

Oops; the 2010 isn't really part of the title. I still don't get it

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

There are 8 sets of 3 circles.
Could that be it?

Isabella di Pesto 10:10 AM  

Meh. Too many pop culture/teevee clues--I counted 11.

Not everyone watches a lot of teevee.

Did it but didn't love it.

VaBech puzzler 10:51 AM  

Thanks, O Dolphin Prince, for the writeup. My Grimm-est slowdown was writing (23D) trolls for TRAWLS... Enjoyed the puzzle 'cept for the excess 3-letter fill.

Cathyat40 11:00 AM  

Finished with one incorrect square: I guessed wrong and entered AAMoS/DEARo.
Is this a natick or are is my knowledge of shipwreck and sitcom actor trivia woefully poorer than that of the average NYT solver?

@Isabella di Pesto: "Did it but didn't love it" sums it up for me, too.

I did enjoy the write-up and both of the music clips. Thanks, Ben.

trium = a victory that lacks umph

Sue I 11:32 AM  

Am I the only one who hated "soli" for 'star turns'? This seems esoteric, even for the NYTimes! A google search on Soli, yields another NYTimes crossword puzzle reference from two years ago - I'd guess no one else uses this word.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

The Wreck of the Mary Deare was a book and a reasonably well-known movie (starring Gary Cooper), so it's not really a Natick -- probably.

D_Blackwell 11:35 AM  

"They're highly skilled medical professionals, not pillow-fluffers."

Unfortunately, I have found that this is indeed the prevailing attitude. 'Medical professionals'' are surely professional. They don't seem to know much at all about TLC, and I believe this to be a major failing of the system.

I am sure that there are individuals that put people over system, but are their voices falling ever softer?

r.alphbunker 11:43 AM  

Hidden clue puzzles remind me of cryptography, in that the clue is "encoded". This brings to mind Brendan Emmett Quigley's puzzle 5 in the 2010 ACPT. However, that was more an example of steganongraphy. You looked at the clue and did not realize that part of it was encoded in the puzzle!

JenCT 11:47 AM  

I knew the river ALPH from the song Xanadu by Rush:

"To seek the sacred river Alph
To walk the caves of ice
To break my fast on honey dew
And drink the milk of Paradise...."

Entertaining write-up, Ben.

Liked the puzzle, but that could be just because I finished it...

Noam D. Elkies 11:58 AM  

@Sue I: 74A:SOLI looks fine to me, but I'm a musician, and even then I know the word better as an adjective (4 fagotti soli, four solo bassoons) than a noun. So sue I, er, me.

BTW does 87A:MEWS still mean stables these days? I knew it from Sherlock Holmes mysteries, but that's ages ago; I thought that these days a "mews" is just a back street or alley.

NDE

[captcha = REDBA = sawed-off top gun?]

Norm 12:14 PM  

@ NDE LOL on the captcha; there could be a theme there !

Not so fast 12:32 PM  

Despite Hirt's statement years later:

"I'm not a jazz trumpeter and never was a jazz trumpeter",

he made a few recordings where he demonstrated ability to play in that style during the 1950s, with bandleader Monk Hazel and a few other recordings on the local Southland Records label.

But he has been a NYT puzzle answer some 32 times ...

P>G>

Oops, left on the edit room floor 12:36 PM  

Al Hirt, best known for his Dixieland style ...

Sparky 12:36 PM  

I had drivers before MEETERS. The TLC stopped me too. Why can't trained professionals be a little caring? Particularly as you lie there with a needle in your arm, a catheter up god knows where and you hurt? But I digress. Puzzle okay, DNF. Missed SANDAL and LANS. I enjoyed the Puns and Anagrams puzzle. Have a good day.

foodie 12:50 PM  

When I was a teenager, I drove my family crazy playing BOLERO by Ravel for hours on end (@NDE, I don't know what it says about my attention span, or my OCD). I haven't listened to it in a long time, and it was fun to do it again. Thank you Ben.

Like @NDE, I appreciated the reversibility of the process-- one can get the answers from the clues and the clues from the answers.

I can't help but think that in the hands of a great master, there would have been a way to make the circled trios more symmetrical within the grid. It would certainly be more elegant. Whether it would be more fun is another question.

ArtLvr 12:58 PM  

Me too, I finished the puzzle and admired Pam's crossplay, but still don't care much for the genre in general.That WEBGIGGLE was funny, though. LOL

I had enough slow spots without having to jump around for the theme links -- one at the dieter's clothes being Loose with good double OO until the answer was ROOMY instead. And I always get a bit of a mental block on the spelling of SHUI.

The plural APEXES rather than Apices didn't thrill me, especially contrasted with ABACI and SOLI elsewhere. And yes, the TAPIRS' clue was so far over the top we should probably give it a prize?

Many thanks to Ben for his extensive efforts on our behalf...

∑;)

Martin 1:28 PM  

@Anon 3:39,

Boléro is the score to a sex act. Ravel as much admitted it. He was in the early stages of frontotemporal dementia (this is one of his last works), which can result in disinhibition and hypersexuality. Have you seen Carole Lombard in Bolero or Bo Derek in Ten?

I admit the climax doesn't need visual aids, but I can't think of many pieces I'd rather sacrifice to Andre Rieu. And the English horn could use the sexing up -- the score calls for an oboe d'amore.

My hat's off to foodie.

Steve J 2:09 PM  

@CoolPapaD: I had SHAGS at first, too (well, I didn't actually enter it, because I wasn't positive, but for most of the time my brain was fixated on that). I actually had a ton of writeovers, but I didn't want to rant, and that's just as much my fault (probably more) as it is the puzzle's.

@Cathyat40: I'd say AAMES/DEARE is borderline, but still gettable. Willie AAMES is certainly obscure - I'm pretty sure he had next to no career after Charles in Charge (IMDB filmography confirms) - but he had a brief period in the '80s of doing the teen heartthrob thing. Oh yeah, now that I look him up (and correct Will to Willie), he was on "Eight is Enough" as well. So, to people growing up in the '70s and '80s (like me), he's stuck back in the dusty cobwebs of many minds' long-term memory storage.

As for its cross, it's completely foreign to me. Don't know if it was well-known enough that people of that era have the same cobwebby recollection potential.

Alice in SF 2:15 PM  

Hi Ben--you skipped seeing Dudamel to do the writeup for Rex? That was some sacrifice. This was a DNF for me--I needed more tv info than I have. I got the answer to 115 by crosses and loved the cluing. Would someone please explain why ABC is a lost network? Thanks.

Martin 2:21 PM  

ABC is the Lost network.

RK 2:57 PM  

just happy there were no "enya" clues for a change

syndy 3:24 PM  

I groaned when i saw the circles and hated it at first "Crossed referenced circles? shoot me now!" but you know? it wasn't so bad.AND i guessed tapirs-felt free to google obscure tv crap-shows ive never seen-worst answer "resorb"don't understand the nestles thing but don't really care-

Ulrich 3:29 PM  

I actually used the fact that you could get the theme answers from the circles or the circles from the theme answers, and that, as NDE has pointed out, is one of the charms of the concept. It almost makes me forget the random (non-symmetrical) circle placement.

..and I totally agree with NDE about the the clue for MAY, given the annoyingly large number of names in the puzzle to start with: What were they thinking? On the upside: Klawitter is one great name!

and @Dolphin Prince: I love the way your mind works--I'm sorry I missed you the first time around.

rearcu: See what I'm talking about?

deerfencer 3:33 PM  

Found this one fun early on but something about the cluing was just a bit off for much of it and the puzzle became a joyless slog after a while.

Agree, way too many TV references--"Friends" should be officially banned as a NYT crossword clue source IMO. And MEETERS is just embarrassing for both the constructor and editor.

Deare me 3:38 PM  

"The Wreck of the Mary ___" clue has appeared at least 9 times, once with (1958 film) appended.

Many of us long time (30+ year) solvers should have found it a neon, but at least for me, learned from xwords.

AAMES was the ? for me ;)

Also, for those admiring the *back and forth solving concept*, check out the bi-weekly acrostic.

P>G>

mac 5:00 PM  

I did not have a great time with this puzzle - but then Sunday is not my favorite p-day. I seemed to be jumping around the grid, not just because of the related clues and answers. Names of actors are not my strength. I liked the "lost" network answer, the band composition and drink from a bowl, but not dbls, lans and no air.

Thank you, Ben, for a very thoughtful and fun write-up.

Rick Stein 5:45 PM  

While I enjoyed much of this puzzle, I was dismayed not only at Sherri from "The View" but at the larger-than-normal number of TV-related clues. Blech.

foodie 6:26 PM  

@Martin, thank you... although I'm not sure you like my taste in music, my attention span or driving my poor parents crazy : )

I was going to say something about the various versions of the BOLERO, so let's see if I can pull it off after all this sex talk. If you follow NDE's advice and listen to the full version, one of the lovely aspects is how it starts very gently, subtly, almost sweetly, in whispers, before it builds up momentum. The Rieu version skips the preliminaries.

I did not know about the frontotemporal dementia. I always assumed that Ravel had closed head injuries after an accident. I need to go learn more. While listening to Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherezad, another throw back to that same period of my life.

Tinbeni 7:19 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tinbeni 7:22 PM  

@foodie
BOLERO like sex always needs the preliminaries.
Otherwise it's just the clue for CADS earlier this week.

OK, I'm usually not a circles in puzzle fan.
Today has me leaning to the "like them" side of the ledger.
ATM - CASH CACHE was my fave.

Almost put in Scotch at 8d, Drink from a bowl(Eggnog) ... Face it, I'll drink scotch from anything.

mac 9:09 PM  

Andre Rieu is despised in Holland, but every time I see him on TV in the US the audience is moved, weeping, enjoying what he does.....
Ravel's Bolero is so much connected to the skating pair Torvil and Dean, it's hard to listen to it without remembering this dance on ice.

Anonymous 11:43 PM  

87A: 'Mews' used to be stables behind impressive homes on main streets. They are now backstreet townhouses that are smaller than the homes on main streets but, these days, also impressive ... and often high rent.

8D: Couldn't get images of family dogs out of my mind in response to 'drinks from a bowl' until 'eggnog' flushed away such distractions.

Delighted to finish the East Coast version today on Acela. Our neck of the Californian woods normallly has only the syndicated version in our local newspaper a week late.

SCOTUS Addict 1:53 AM  

Ben,

Major difference between the FBI and the CIA. I always prefer that my interrogators take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. But maybe that's just me.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

Ben,
I think I know why you wrestled with the UCC. Article 3 is commercial paper, i.e., promissory notes, not Article 7.

Anonymous 5:47 PM  

Will Greer NOT Geer DUH
Waltons 84 Across

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