Don Herbert's moniker 1950s-'60s TV / SUN 10-17-10 / Spotted cavy / Suspenseful 1966 Broadway hit / Racy best-selling novel 1956

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Constructor: Patrick Blindauer

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Figure of Speech" — "Figure 8!" — eight "8s" populate the grid, standing in for the sound of "8" ("ATE") in each instance


Word of the Day: ANANIAS (46A: Biblical liar) —

Ananias (pronounced /ˌænəˈnaɪ.əs/) and his wife Sapphira (/sæˈfaɪrə/) were, according to the Acts of the Apostles, members of the Early Christian church in Jerusalem. // Acts chapter 4 closes by stating that the Christian believers in the early Church did not consider their possessions to be their own, but they had all things in common, and that a church member, Barnabas, sold a plot of land and donated the profit to the apostles. // In chapter 5, Ananias and Sapphira also sold their land, but withheld a portion of the sales, having decided that they did not wish to give it all to the common purse. Ananias presented his donation to Peter claiming that it was the entire amount. Peter replied, "Why is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit?" Peter pointed out that Ananias was in control of the money and could give or keep it as he saw fit, but that he had withheld it from Peter and lied about it, and stated that Ananias had not only lied to Peter, but also to God. Ananias died on the spot, and as a result, everyone who heard the tale became afraid. Three hours later, his wife told the same lie and suffered the same fate. (wikipedia)
• • •
This puzzle is pretty brilliant, especially compared to the average Sunday offerings in the past couple months or so. Also, the title is perfect: an ordinary phrase that perfectly expresses the theme, but in a way you couldn't possibly guess before solving the puzzle. "Figure 8!" Reminds me of a "Schoolhouse Rock" song about "8"—I can still see that little girl skating on the pond ...
and hear Blossom Dearie singing the song ...


I think the times at the NYT site will return a verdict of "Challenging," largely because of confusion as to how to fill in the rebus ("8") squares. I did the puzzle in Black Ink (equivalent of AcrossLite) and used the numeral in those spaces—the software apparently thought that was cool, as I got the "Congratulations" message (or whatever it says) when I was through. I'm guessing many of you were like me and floundered at first, specifically at 3D: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7, in New York City. I had SUB- and went to write in SUBWAYLINE .... but no, too long. Once I knew that answer did indeed start SUBW-, then I knew something was screwy. When screwiness ensued again at 31A: Egg protector ("CR-???"), then I just had to be patient. Ran the vowels for that last letter in CR-, then thought "they want 'ATE,' but ... SUBWATE? That can't be right." But then I hit what was clearly "TAILG(8)" at 7D: Follow too closely, so I gave in and went with the number "8" in those squares. Eventually got SUBW(8)RAIN, and then it was just a matter of hunting down the remaining "8"s — not that hard, actually. I think the one in the very far SE was probably the toughest to unearth, if only because (the kind of absurd) ERIE, PA answer at the top of that section was not easy to uncover, which made getting those long Downs tougher than it might have been (93A: Part of a postal address for Gannon University). Only real sticking point, after I got the theme, was in the north, where I had DR. WIZARD and then HARD A for 10A: Start to frost? ... until I realized "frost" doesn't start with a HARD A ... or any A. Changed Dr. to MR. WIZARD (13D: Don Herbert's moniker on 1950s-'60s TV), and then "got" PERMA. Briefly thought W(8)UNTILDARK (37A: Suspenseful 1966 Broadway hit) was W(8)INGFORGODOT (it's *kind* of suspenseful...), but it didn't fit, and then the Audrey Hepburn movie popped into my head.

Remaining theme answers:
  • 25A: Singer with the #1 country hiti "Hello Darlin'" (CONW(8)WITTY) / 14D: Lessen (AB(8))


  • 60A: Repeatedly raised the bar? (LIFTED W(8)S) / 40D: Insomniac's TV viewing (THE L(8) L(8) SHOW) / 76A: Racy best-selling novel of 1956 ("P(8)ON PLACE")
  • 99A: Fast-talking salesman's tactic (B(8) AND SWITCH) / 89D: Conditions (ST(8)S)
  • 116A: X Games competitor (SK(8)BOARDER) / 109D: Largest employer in Newton, Iowa, until 2006 (M(8)AG)
  • 127A: Spat (G(8)ER) / 84D: Movie producer's time of stress (RELEASE D(8))
There was some ... let's say "creative" fill in this one. As I've mentioned, ERIEPA is horribly made-up—I'm trying to imagine all the permutations that this answer opens up: LODICA, BOISEID, ROMENY, etc. RAE DAWN is also pretty brazen. It's like a 7-letter partial. It's like seeing RUTHBADER in a puzzle: strange. I always thought WAPITI was plural, like ELK (62D: Elk=>WAPITIS). Apparently, you can choose your plural (with or without "s")—never did like words with such an option. Other than those answers, there some partials and other not-wonderful stuff, but so much less of that than I'm used to seeing on Sundays. And then there's also love stuff like EPHEMERA (74A: Items of short-lived use) and MEFIRST-over-EXECUTE (87A: Like an egocentric's attitude + 95A: Carry out) ... the stuff you could pick on doesn't even begin to offset the goodness of the majority of the puzzle.

Bullets:
  • 35A: Listens, old-style (HARKS) — used nowadays primarily for herald angels.
  • 82A: Speed-skating champ Johann ___ Koss (OLAV) — the world does not need another OLAV clue. It does, however, need a KOSS clue.
  • 121A: Florida univ. affiliated with the Catholic Church (ST. LEO) — never heard of it. That was a tough clue.
  • 5D: Massachusetts industrial city on the Millers River (ATHOL) — nope, still don't like it. The fact that I now know this "city" (population: bupkus—it's a "town" at best) doesn't make me think it's any more crossworthy than it was last time I saw it.
  • 65D: Miracle Mets pitcher, 1969 (SEAVER) — our local team is the Mets AA affiliate, and SEAVER is from my home town, so when I went to the Hall of Fame, it was his t-shirt I came home with.
  • 64D: Folk singer Jenkins (ELLA) — Hmmm, can't remember ever seeing this ELLA before. Who is she?



And now your Tweets of the Week, puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse:
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

68 comments:

Noam D. Elkies 12:54 AM  

Nice touch that the NYC's numbered subway lines (for 3D:SUBW8RAIN) end just before 8. That wasn't always the case, and more recently there was a #9 line long after #8 was basically retired.

Most of the theme entries and some of the other clues and answers are indeed lovely. Didn't get 127A:G8ER, since it turns out I knew neither the word nor the sense of "spat" used to clue it, but evidently they're both legit. At least the crossings (with a triple-9 stack!) made that one clear. Not so for sh*tty 25A:CONW8WITTY — I suppose it's clever to again break the 8 across a word boundary, but I'd never even heard of "Twitty" as a name (thought it was some spelling of "Waightwitty", whatever that might be), and so had no idea what went in square 25. (10D:PACA!?) Worse yet to foyst 18D:FOYT on us, though at least the intersection could hardly be anything but Y. Worst of all was the name-fest 82A/64D/65D. If you must introduce an obscure new 82A:OLAV on a Sunday puzzle, don't cross it with an equally mysterious 64D:ELLA and a random b*seballer from 40+ years ago at 65D:SEAVER. (I don't care if Wikipedia swears Seaver's the whateverest Hall of Famer ever, he's still a random old b*seballer.) The problem: 82A could just as well be OLEG, making 64D and 65D the equally plausible ELLE and SEAGER. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who went down that path. Even without this, yes it was quite hard by Sunday standards, despite getting the gimmick in the first few minutes.

I did recover from the wrong answer "head" for the much better 70A:BEAN (Noggin, see also 100D:NODDLE, and then 28A:OODLES), and figure out what was up with the neat clues for 4D:AAA, 28D:OASIS, and 105D:REINS. Not sure about "member" in the 43D clue — we're taking about a deck of cards, not a Cartesian product of sets… Misread the clue for 36D:KNEEL as "prepare for a drubbing", making the answer seem much more risqué than it is!

Finally, thanks for the Schoolhouse Rock video; even the music is way more interesting than 99.44% of actual r*ck music (Neapolitan chords even!).

NDE

Doug 1:34 AM  

I got the theme late in the game and so was more ticked off than pleased when I finished. Probably too much going on while I was solving (Wisconsin beats THE Ohio State U!) to see the big picture. Indeed the use of "8" is elegant and fits the title, and I did enjoy figuring out the theme answers once I got it. BUT, getting there was a slog....

chefwen 1:47 AM  

Well, color me red, I never thought of putting a number in there, I just thought it had something to do with omitting the oy, ey, ay, sounds and just filled in around it. Finished O.K. but without the cute little 8's.

Like @Doug I was engrossed with watching my beloved Bucky Badger kick some serious ass with Ohio State. So this took me longer than usual. Wish I would have caught on to the 8's, that would have been a lot more fun. BAH!

Evgeny 5:07 AM  

the Slavic 'OLeg' is completely improbable in the middle of a Scandinavian name. Guessed OLAf which stayed 'til the end. One letter short of a correct solution is just as good as completely correct to me, when it's because of an obscure speedsk8ting / baseball crossing. Other than that, a really fun puzzle!

Bob Kerfuffle 6:11 AM  

Um, re: 91 A, "Flammable fuel" -- If it ain't flammable, it ain't fuel!

Nice puzz otherwise.

Had LIFTEDG8S(!) before LIFTEDW8S, FREETRADE before OPENTRADE.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:13 AM  

Unless it's nuclear, OK.

JenCT 6:51 AM  

Got the theme at CONW8TWITTY, but still struggled.

Confidently put in INFOMERCIAL for 40D, which held me up for a while. Also had HEN for 31A at first.

Impressive construction.

David 7:05 AM  

Took me much longer than usual, because I got hung up in figuring out the rebus. Had TAILG[ATE] for a while before figuring out what to do with it.

Note that it's not just a matter of substituting "8" for the "ate" sound. In one direction (not always the same one), the "ate" is a literal spelling; in the other, it is the sound "ay t", often split across words in the phrase answer.

Jim 7:31 AM  

Most fun Sunday in months. Eventually got the rebus (AB8/CONW8WITTY) did it for me. But even at that, I wrote it out (I.e., AIT/AYT/ATE) even though I could make neither hide nor hair of how to aount for the different spellings. As I've mentioned in this space before, I can be remarkably obtuse about themes of all kinds.

Puzzle made me smile in several places. Too much to count. Really good. Except...EXCEPT the middle. So many possibilities on THEL8L8SHOW (I considered THELASTSHOW, THEL8STSHOW, either of which confirmed the -ST that completely killed me. Not knowing the Schubert clue (DAMN!) And the elk (seriously considering WraIThS for a while), it was just too much to come back from.

davidallanvan 7:40 AM  

This puzzle would have been really clever if the cells containing the 8s had formed a figure eight...

The Hag 8:13 AM  

I'm not crazy about 21x21 or rebuses. On the other hand, I do like puzzles that are challenging and low on filler, so overall I'd have to give it a thumbs up. I did like that the 8 stood for the sound (ATE, AIT, EYT, AYT) not just a fixed letter substitution. Thus, as Mr. Parker has pointed out, the title was perfect.

glimmerglass 8:23 AM  

Liked it, but didn't think of writing "8"; just blacked in the squares with the AIT, ATE, AYT sound, and this is a *real* rebus, according to my definition. It's fun that EIGHT (LIFTEDW8S) is exactly in the middle of the puzzle.
When Chub Peabody was governor of Massachusetts, my mother used to say that there were three towns named after him: Peabody, Marblehead, and Athol.

mmorgan 8:59 AM  

Oh, cool, “Figure of Speech”… I really like stuff like metonymy, synecdoche, etc. This is gonna be fun!

(Later.) Zipping along pretty well… but hmmm… if 40D (Insomniac’s TV viewing) is THELATESHOW then how can 71A (Still product: Abbr.) be ALC? Something’s wrong here. And where the hell is the theme?

(Later.) Okay, I see that 37A has to be WAITUNTILDARK and 99A is BAITANDSWITCH but they don’t fit and what’s the deal with the theme? Do we have to put AIT in one square? What does AIT have to do with any figures of speech??

W8, I got it… GR8!!!

All else (after that!) was smooth as silk except a few hiccups. Had MITT for 15A (Pan handler) and S8LEO for 121A (Florida Univ…) – I thought that was sooo clever of me, but it messed me up for 90D (What on earth are TEACAR8S?) for a long time! And I first had SELFISH for MEFIRST at 87A.

In the end, just two goofs, in the SW. I thought 120A (Zoom) was NEAR (but wasn’t happy about it) and had SKIBOARDER for 116A (X Games competitor) – which I’d never heard of, but it seemed more “extreme” than either skiing or snowboarding.

Really GR8 puzzle, with lots of wonderful stuff (G8ER is brilliant!). I almost 8 it all up except for that “oops” in the SW. It was STIMUL8ING , with really nothing at all SECOND-R8 about it, but I COMMISER8 with anyone who found it too COMPLIC8ED or EXCRUCI8ING.

Leslie 8:59 AM  

As a dead tree solver who can't get going until the official start day of the puzzle, I always get a little pouty when I come in here all dewy-fresh and early (to me) and find over a dozen people already posted because they did it yesterday!! Okay, enough of my competitive woes.

"Figure 8s" never even occurred to me. I just thought, "Well, pretend homophones, okay . . . those aren't really figures of speech, but whatever." Enjoyed searching the little suckers out, though!

My biggest challenge, as usual, was ANI for "black bird." I got it, but just from guessing correctly. It doesn't matter how many times I see that black bird, it does. not. stick.

Loved EPHEMERA and thought NOT SO HOT was a nice crossing.

Signed, "serli" (my attitude when you guys keep beating me to the punch)

e-solver 9:07 AM  

After E-ZINE (33a) and E-FILE (78d), I want “Virtual Feudal landholder ?” as the clue for 91a .

Leslie 9:12 AM  

HA!!

JC66 9:56 AM  

@Leslie

Because of its bulk, the NY Times delivers selected sections of the Sunday paper, magazine section included, on Saturday to subscribers and retailers in NYC and environs. If you don't subscribe, you may be able to purchase the magazine section from a local retailer in your area on Saturday by paying full Sunday price for the magazine, travel, etc. sections.

ArtLvr 9:58 AM  

If I'd remembered how to circle a square in Across Lite, I'd have been much happier, but it was okay otherwise... The theme answer especially a propos: "b8 and switch"!

∑;)

mmorgan 10:11 AM  

@ArtLvr:

The number '8' worked perfectly for me (and Mr. Happy Pencil) in AcrossLite. (I'm using V2.0.5 with Windows 7.)

Must echo @Leslie's "HA!" to @e-solver!

Could 47D (Cost for getting money, maybe) have been 8MFEE? ;-)

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

@glimmerglass: I always heard the joke as "what four towns were named after Gov. Peabody?" Ans: Endicott, Peabody, Marblehead and Athol.

E. Peabody 10:49 AM  

H8rs gonna h8.

Leon 10:51 AM  

Thank you Mr.Blindauer.
Thank you RP.

IRAE has been used as an answer 78 times in the NYT crossword since November, 1993.

Part of Missa pro defunctis, the Mass for the dead. It is quite beautiful. Am listening to it right now.

A day of wrath; that day,
it will dissolve the world into glowing ashes,
as attested by David together with the Sibyl.

What trembling will there be,
when the Judge shall come
to examine everything in strict justice.

Martin 10:59 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle,
Biodiesel (vegetable oil) or even regular diesel oil is not considered flammable either (definition: easily ignited at room temperature and pressure). Gasoline's flash point is around 40 below zero Fahrenheit; diesel's is around 140 degrees above.

Noam D. Elkies 11:00 AM  

@e-solver: cute, though it can't be in this puzzle because it already contains 20A:THANE!

NDE

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

is a spat a gaiter?

figured out the rebus quickly but had never seen a puzzle use numbers before, and that killed me.

Leslie 11:09 AM  

H8rs gonna h8.

I truly laughed out loud. You guys are on fire today!

JC66, that's interesting about the NYT breaking the Sunday package into pieces. Makes good sense. I'm not sure if any local retailers here in mid-Michigan carry the Sunday NYT ahead of time, but I'll just sit tight and wait for my home delivery, and quash my silly urge to compete!

Mel Ott 11:29 AM  

At 37A I started down the same path as @Rex, but with a twist. At that point I did not yet realize that the only number used as a rebus was 8. So I wanted W8ING 4 GODOT. It fits.

chefbea 11:39 AM  

Going to the NC State fair. Looked briefly at the puzzle but will finnish it later in Raleigh.Got chef right away.

"see" you all on Wednesday when we return from eating such things as deep fried snickers!!!!!

JaxInL.A. 11:51 AM  

Running out of time can really kill the enjoyment of a good, challenging puzzle. This was great fun, but I gotta go! And I still have not figured out which letter I have wrong so that my program will give me the equivalent of Mr. Happy Pencil. That DIONE/ANI cross was a natick for me, as was OLA_/SEA_ER. But the error is something stupid and I will have to go through letter by letter to find it. Probably will wait for it to unlock.

Well, Hebrew school calls, gotta get the kid out of bed. Wish I had had time to savor this one.

Orange 11:55 AM  

ELLA Jenkins! She is (was?) a performer for kids. I saw her live in the Algonquin School gymnasium back around 1975. It took me years to figure out that Ella Fitzgerald was an entirely different person and that no, I had not seen Ella Fitzgerald singing in the school gym. But how awesome would that have been?

DBGeezer 12:05 PM  

@leslie, if you frequently have trouble with ANI for blackbirds, perhaps use this mnemonic: I really don't like black birds, they are a bunch of ani (plural of anus).

Leslie 12:25 PM  

@DBGeezer: HA!! again!

I can't keep coming back in here just to chortle. FOUR and out!

Glitch 12:40 PM  

Liked today's, after I got over the fact that I (wrongly) kept my lawn chairs on my lawn and my patio chairs on my patio --- that's been fixed, but the patio is now a bit crowded.

BUT

RE: THEME: "Figure of Speech" — "Figure 8!" — eight "8s" populate the grid, standing in for the sound of "8" ("ATE") in each instance.

You might want to revise that as I don't believe that's the way to pronounce 3D "Subwate Rain"? or 25A Conwate Witty"?, unless in some strange regional dialect.

I'd be interested how these 2 can happily join the others in a single theme.

.../Glitch

Greene 12:43 PM  

I thought this puzzle was all kinds of fun. Knew there was a rebus involved when I got to 3D, but couldn't figure it out until I got the assist from Broadway Blindauer at 37A. Knew this play title instantly, but again, no fit. Finally got the gimmick when TAILG8 intersected with W8 UNTIL DARK and then the fiendishly clever SUBW8RAIN came into view.

Rex, who admittedly knows next to nothing about theatre, always amazes me by his ability to conjure up reasonable answers even when drawing from a limited data bank. W8ING FOR GODOT is not exactly suspenseful and doesn't really fit, but is still a clever thought and an excellent answer. I was tickled by his resourcefulness.

By the way, if you don't know "Wait Until Dark," by all means rent the movie. It's about a recently blinded woman living in a basement apartment in Greenwich Village who is terrorized by 3 thugs who seek to steal a doll which they believe contains heroin. The movie is just fine, but for thrills, it can't hold a candle to the Broadway play which starred the incredibly beautiful Lee Remick as the blind woman and a vile Robert Duvall as the leader of the thugs who tries to kill her.

The gimmick of the play is that the final scene is played in complete blackness when the woman levels the playing field by turning out the lights and plunging her would-be murderer into the same kind of darkness she inhabits every day. All manner of stage violence occurs during this blackout but the audience can't see a thing. Apparently playwright Frederick Knott knew that unseen and imagined violence is ultimately more terrifying than anything that could be played out before the footlights.

I was probably all of 12 when I saw this play in NYC and I can still vividly recall the legitimate fright I experienced during that terrible final scene. I also remember just how achingly beautiful Lee Remick was throughout the rest of the play. Wait, I just dug out my old Playbill which features a stunning black and white photo of Miss Remick on the cover. Now that's a beautiful woman! You can see the playbill cover here. It's the fourth picture down the page, but I defy you to scroll past the first glorious photo of Lee you'll see on the page.

D_Blackwell 1:03 PM  

I'm amazed that everyone likes this theme. I disregarded misgivings, but they didn't go away.

After giving it more thought, I don't like this '8' theme at all. There are four breaks in the theme: CONWAY TWITTY, SUBWAY TRAIN,MAYTAG, and GAITER. The heterograph still stands up, sort of (well, not really); spell out an eight sound in some way for all of the entries and then hack it apart for three of the entries. The construction is impressive, but my initial feeling that it was a bit contrived is more than a feeling now. I don't like the execution of this theme. Less would have been more.

pauer 1:09 PM  

Thanks for all the nice comments about my latest puzzle. I'm just glad it's finally seeing the light of day, as I submitted it just over 3 years ago. I would've done some things differently if I had made it today, but overall I'm happy with it, especially the crossing of the theme answers and the stacked 9's.

Oh, and if you get a chance, be sure to check out my new(ish) website, patrickblindauer.com, for free monthly puzzles and other word-based shenanigans. I'm also planning to launch another Puzzlefest (a multi-puzzle contest) on November 1st.

L8or, allig8ors.

foodie 1:35 PM  

@Greene, nice to hear again from you and learn a bit more about theater. Very entertaining, as usual. But I never want to see that show!

@ Rex, I think of Waiting for Godot as the opposite of suspenseful, but I tend to be a little impatient and this one really pushed my limits (may be that's what it was supposed to do). But I learn so much from seeing how you make guesses and correct errors. Otherwise, it sounds like you guys know everything with the same certainty as you did SEAVER (and I had no clue). I was looking at Dan Feyer's site, "Not a Blog" and his times are insane, but he still figures out stuff that he doesn't know. So, for you speedsters, there's something about processing speed, ability to consider and discard possibilities at a high clip, that is plain phenomenal. Someday, I'd love to find out how this ability manifests itself in other aspects of life.

I found the puzzle challenging for many reasons, but I admired the concept, the title, and the fact that it had 8 theme entries given the 8 gimmick.

@pauer, always wonderful to hear form the constructor!

Sparky 2:06 PM  

I got the rebus at CR8, the title word "figure" suggested putting in numeral. I like a rebus where you can draw in a picture such as a star or a cat face rather that a bunch of letters. I thought it might include different numbers too but P8TONPLACE crossing THEL8L8SHOW changed that idea. Agree breaking up the sound into parts confusing. Am going to hear Pete Seeger sing Oct. 23.

Van55 2:14 PM  

I echo RP today in most respects. Clever theme and mostly good to great fill overcomes the few weaknesses.

At least the ATHOL answer was the MA town (pop. 11,299) rather than the ID Athol (pop. 676).

mac 2:22 PM  

Fantastic Sunday, but tough for me! It took me a long time to get the rebus, but then it fell quite smoothly. I particularly liked the clues/answers in re, not so hot, AAA, oasis and reins!

Hi @Greene, and thanks Patrick.

joho 2:57 PM  

Well, since the word ATE appeared in the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday puzzles already this week, naturally, after filling in CR(ATE)I thought we were finishing the week with 8 more ATES!

My dumbness didn't hinder my fun in solving a bit. Got all the answers right with the wrong ATE.

Thank you, Patrick, for a truly grATE Sunday puzzle!

jae 3:14 PM  

Fun puzzle for me too, and a tad on the tough side for a Sun. My biggest problem was NW. A nice twist is that there are eight 8s unless I counted wrong.

edmcan 3:15 PM  

@joho - thanks for saying it for me!

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

Hey Rex, ERIE PA was easy for ME - my wife is from Erie and one of her brothers went to Gannon U!

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

D Blackwell,

I agree 100% with your theme critique. Subway Train, Conway Twitty, and Maytag do not belong
in this theme...no matter how hard
one tries to rationalize it.

Robin 6:17 PM  

Am so mad at myself. There was so much here that I Did know, but could not make my brain switch from letters to numbers!

I knew that 3D had to be either subway train or subway line, was fairly sure that 7D was tailgate, etc., but couldn't figure out how to make it work.

Maybe I should try Sudoku.

fikink 7:19 PM  

FIL and I had great fun doing this one with brunch. Thanks, Patrick - your puzzle rocked and inspired the liveliest conversation...football was passed up in favor of debating whether IGNORANCE really is bliss. My take was that it certainly is if you run fast enough ;)

Ulrich 8:43 PM  

@foodie: I, too, am convinced that out-of-the-world speedsters possess very special cognitive capabilities, and the emphasis, to me, is on "special". I read your attempt at an explanation some time ago, and to me. if you allow me to say so, it did not entirely account for the "special" part--the capabilities you listed still seemed somewhat too general, to me at least. It may be interesting to look at top chess players and check if their very special capabilities also manifest themselves in other aspects of their lives...

foodie 9:06 PM  

@Ulrich, yeah, I agree. The more I look at it, the less I get it :)

That's why I'd like to find out more about other manifestations of this skill. I mean I'm assuming they're all very smart, but most of the people on this blog are, yet come nowhere near those speeds. How else does this ability manifest? It could be different for different people, but it would be great to know what it correlates with.

foodie 9:24 PM  

@fikink, IGNORANCE made me pause, as well. I vaguely knew the expression, but it still took a while to materialize and when it did, my first thought was-- what a crazy saying! I think it's just the opposite. But then I thought about all the stuff that's painful, that I wish I didn't know about, especially if there is nothing one can do about it. And coming close to what I do for a living: would I want to know I'm prone to Alzheimer's disease or mental illness, unless someone can do something about it? It's actually something I think about as we go out searching for those vulnerability genes...

fikink 9:41 PM  

@foodie. @ulrich, I think speed has something of the savant's facility with numbers about it --- after all, 26 letters to the alphabet is a finite set and with the accretion of meaning in the English language, patterns subconsciously order themselves. Do you think I am on to something or is this all bullshit?
@foodie, yes - as you know I am very enmeshed in the juxtaposition of fear and faith right now. Ignorance is lack of mirror neurons, blissful until you are aware you lack them.

Thomas Gray 9:55 PM  

Excerpt (verse #10 of 10) from Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College

To each his sufferings: all are men,
Condemned alike to groan,
The tender for another's pain;
The unfeeling for his own.
Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise.

fikink 9:59 PM  

DAMN! I love this blog!

Clark 10:52 PM  

O HOW I H8 OHIO ST8. I don’t really care enough about football to think that, but I am enough of a Michigander that the phrase just rolls off my tongue.

This is the only MR. WIZARD I know: Drizzle-drazzle-druzzle-drum, time for this one to come home.

Octavian 12:18 AM  

I got the rebus ... put AYT/AIT/ATE in the boxes ... but never made the connection to the number 8 til I got here .... doh!

Strange week for me. First time that I have managed to finish Friday and Saturday (90%), but then had trouble w/ Sunday, which is normally a breeze. Final comment:

I H8 to have a D8 with F8 at a G8 without my friends K8 and N8, who are L8.

mac 9:51 AM  

@Fikink: Amen.

GREAT PUZZLE 12:29 PM  

What a clever, delightful puzzle- Thank you, Patrick! I love not being told where the theme answers are located- even if it led me to initially put in "so gr8" for "so hot" and "ski" for "sk8". "M8ag" and "Subw8rain" were my favorites. IMO The Sunday NY Times needs more exciting puzzles like this. (My favorite is still the chess game from Patrick Berry quite a few years back- that was genius.)

Carrie 12:40 PM  

So glad to see my hometown in the puzzle- ERIEPA (Part of postal address for Gannon University.) And since people from Pennsylvania call it PA, putting the whole thing together makes perfect sense to me. Like saying BOSTONMASS.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

When I was in college, we parsed that as "Boston, m'ass."

grayvlad 10:44 AM  

8 doesn't fit all the clues if we're talking about the sound of it, maytag, conway twitty, and subway trains do not have the ate/eight sound, just the spelling.
So I feel the # 8 in the squares is misleading and not accurate.
This is my first comment on google but love the rex parker comments, and have noticed age has a lot to do with what clues are easy for some and not for others.

Brian 12:54 PM  

I get their theme Figure 8, but splitting it up the way they did it was not fair. They are not all "ate" words, sure there is abATE, and TailgATE, and dATE, etc., but how do you get to AYT splits? i.e. subwAYTrain, and conwAYTwitty?

That's just too convoluted. I think the inconsistency here was just blatantly rude of them.

Rex Parker 1:54 PM  

Nothing rude about. Perfectly consistent. As title makes clear, the issue is "speech," i.e. the sound, not the particular letter string.

There is absolutely no "inconsistency" in the execution of this theme.

rp

Anna 8:38 AM  

This comment is a day late and a dollar short, but I think George St8 is a much more elegant answer for a country singer. Not to mention, it fits perfectly in the Conway Twitty space. Too bad that wrong answer slowed me down for . . .oops, a few days!

BobbyF 9:49 AM  

Made a couple of errors in the southwest corner (hone instead of aone; skiboarder in place of sk(8)boarder. No excuses, except I am very literal and, throughout the puzzle, stupidly inserted the missing letters instead of inserting an '8'. The fickle hand of f(8)== Dumb me!

Anonymous 6:28 PM  

Brian and Rex

You're both wrong about the rebus. Its beauty is not in "consistency," nor its failing "inconsistency." Blindauer's puzzle should instead be called a mobius. The figure 8 seen as a moibus gives the impression of having two sides (like this argument). Perversely, it is actually one-sided (or would that be all-sided)? The figure 8 works both for speech and for spelling (no matter the variations in spelling or the syllabic delays). In one fill it works for speech, in the next, spelling, and so on. Arguing solely for speech or for spelling is similar to arguing which is the top and which is the bottom of a moibus; a moibus cannot be parsed or in any other way divided or it ceases to be. The beauty of the 8 is that it works in the way it needs to at the moment; it changes without changing. It is consistently inconsistent in its application, yet is predictable. As icing, the 8 is a symbol for infinity ... a wonderful number of possibilities, no?

SlaPutMN

fikink 6:34 PM  

@SlaPutMN - Dynamite observation!!!!!

The Raj 1:39 PM  

@Leslie

You said:

As a dead tree solver who can't get going until the official start day of the puzzle, I always get a little pouty when I come in here all dewy-fresh and early (to me) and find over a dozen people already posted because they did it yesterday!!

Consider yourself lucky; as a "dead tree solver" who lives in the hinterlands (West Central Florida), my local paper doesn't publish the Times Sunday puzzle until ONE WEEK after it has run for everyone else. I once did subscribe to NYT's "Weekender" plan but — after six weeks in a row of getting papers late or not at all — I gave up. I come here to Rex's blog once a week to see what other people thought of the puzzle; I also resist the temptation to peek at what will be — for me — next week's answer.

Roger

james 4:49 PM  

10-24 my date 10-17 nyt 1st run date.
i got most of this puzzle, but inserting "ate" instead of the author's 8 really fouled me up on a lotta' the answers: maytag: gimme a break: meightag; perhaps i was thrown off by my early answer to 7 down: tailg"ate" thinking "ate" was it thereafter.
i knew 25 across was conwaytwitty,
but couldn't make "ate" fit. the rest of it i got: the puzzle follow'g more conventional lines...

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