Czech martyr Jan / SUN 12-26-10 / Old-time cartoonist Hoff / Inhabitant of Pribilof Islands / Pre-1868 Tokyo / W.W. II carrier Churchill sting twice

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Constructor: Darin McDaniel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Hey, Mister!" — familiar phrases have "MAN" added to them, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style


Word of the Day: TEASELS (15D: Prickly plants) —

Dipsacus is a genus of flowering plant in the family Dipsacaceae. The members of this genus are known as teasel or teazel or teazle. The genus includes about 15 species of tall herbaceous biennial plants (rarely short-lived perennial plants) growing to 1-2.5 m tall, native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa. [...] // Teasels are easily identified with their prickly stem and leaves, and the inflorescence of purple, dark pink or lavender flowers that form a head on the end of the stem(s). The inflorescence is ovoid, 4-10 cm long and 3-5 cm broad, with a basal whorl of spiny bracts. The first flowers begin opening in a belt around the middle of the spherical or oval flowerhead, and then open sequentially toward the top and bottom, forming two narrow belts as the flowering progresses. The dried head persists afterwards, with the small (4-6 mm) seeds maturing in mid autumn. // The seeds are an important winter food resource for some birds, notably the European Goldfinch; teasels are often grown in gardens and encouraged on some nature reserves to attract them. // Teasel is also considered an invasive species in the United States. It is known to form a monoculture, capable of crowding out all native plant species, and therefore is discouraged and/or eliminated within restored open lands and other conservation areas. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hello and welcome to your abbreviated Sunday write-up. It's Christmas evening and I've gotta get this thing done during the time it takes for my wife to whip up something sweet for dessert. I've also got to get ready to leave for Florida on Monday—I think they have internet in Florida now, so I should be able to keep up the blogging no problem. If I run into issues, you may see a substitute here on a couple of days. Somehow, we'll all get through it. . .

This puzzle was kind of interesting theme-wise, but by the end I was far too distracted by a good chunk of off-putting answers to have very positive feelings about it overall. Theme is just OK—some cute phrases, some forced phrases, and at least one that was both (CARTMAN BEFORE THE HORSE is great in that I love CARTMAN, but not so great in that CART BEFORE THE HORSE is not a phrase—PUT(TING) THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE is). The rest of the fill was all over the map—sometimes seemingly inventive (THE POKY? USS WASP!?) (60D: Stir + 73A: W.W. II carrier praised by Churchill for its ability to "sting twice"), and other times the opposite of that, i.e. too readily accepted from some horrible autofill monster. I may have seen TEASEL(S) once before in my life, but I really don't like it, esp. in the plural. EPACT was worse (56A: Difference in days between the lunar and solar year), and UKASE worser (102D: Decree) (though I understand that it's old skool crosswordese and so not Entirely from outer space for many solvers). I realize that someone whose own puzzle featured IAT has no business complaining about OFFAT, but since I was not responsible for IAT, I'm complaining anyway. Actually, I'd let that go if I didn't have to deal with the A family: AMUST, ACARE, and ANOTE. It's all ABIT much. Did I leave one out? Maybe, but I don't feel like hunting. HUS on first? Who knows? (84D: Czech martyr Jan) Your guess is as good as mine. All I know is I groaned more than I wowed. Not a terrible puzzle by any means, but not one I'll be fondly remembering either. I mean ... *two* particles?? (both of them the equivalent of constructor "Eject" buttons) (MESON and CATION) (65D: Quark/antiquark particle + 25D: Charged particle). No thanks.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Loving comment from an astronaut's wife? ("I NEED MY SPACEMAN")
  • 37A: The Dark Knight rooms with Quasimodo? (BATMAN'S IN THE BELFRY)
  • 47A: Hotel's ask-your-greeter-anything approach? (OPEN DOORMAN POLICY)
  • 66A: "South Park" character leading a walk around a paddock? (CARTMAN BEFORE THE HORSE)
  • 80A: What Dustin Hoffman gets to do often, thanks to royalties? (TAKE A "RAIN MAN" CHECK)
  • 92A: Actor Hugh involved in every swap shop deal? (JACKMAN OF ALL TRADES)
  • 111A: Actor John playing Wayne Knight's role on "Seinfeld"? (GOODMAN AS NEWMAN)
My biggest problem was the single square at the CATION / TEE (34A: Plumber's fitting) crossing. Just guessed the "T," figuring that was the letter most likely to have something to do with a plumber (shape of the pipe fitting). CATION looks like it should be clued [Stay or alter follower].

Bullets:
  • 44A: "He wore a diamond" in "Copacabana" (RICO) — how's this for a weird coincidence? I read the clue as "Casablanca," not "Copacabana," and so entered ... RICK.
  • 98A: W.W. I hero played by Gary Cooper (SGT. YORK) — I think I saw at least part of the SGT. YORK movie once. Today, however, I saw "True Grit." Recommended. There's some severed fingers and point-blank face shooting and pony dying, but all in all a hell of a lot less gruesome than many other Coen Bros. movies I've seen. Acting all great, especially the young woman, man oh man. Where did she come from?


  • 99A: Pre-1868 Tokyo (EDO) — feels like an eternity since I've seen this old xword standby.
  • 114A: Inhabitant of the Pribilof Islands (ALEUT) — Somehow I doubt that's what the ALEUTs call them. . .
  • 7D: ___ Eisley, "Star Wars" cantina town (MOS) — Here, and at FARR (69D: Actress Diane of "Numb3rs"), there is an admirable if slightly desperate stretching for new clues ...
  • 36D: Old-time cartoonist Hoff (SYD) — we have at least one of his books lying around ("Sammy the Seal"). I saw some of his work at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in NYC last spring.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

58 comments:

Lonely In Ak 12:20 AM  

As a man who's been told "I need my space" several times, let me assure one and all that there's no loving there, or likely ever to be there. Just sayin.

richnrbq 12:48 AM  

Can someone explain the stir=the poky piece? Epact is beyond the pale (I missed in this one by one letter- brow for prow- but couldn't make any sense of "the poky")...

Help please...

ksquare 1:00 AM  

Retired Chemist can tell you that a cation is one that's attracted electrically to a CAThode and is therefore called a positive ion, which means that the cathode actually is a negative pole. Can he explain that?

ANON B 1:08 AM  

@richnrbq

Both are slang for jail or prison;
in stir or in the poky although
I think I have always seen it spelled as pokey

REX:
I looked up "phrase in the dictionary and all the theme answers seem to fit the definition.
Even if they don't, that isn't why I do crosswords. I am amazed that anyone can think up not only one or two but several "phrases"
that are altered by adding "man".
Also, if a clue is not always perfectly accurate but close enough
so that I can work it out and say
"Oh, that's what he meant", that's
good enough for me.
Nitpicking would take the fun out
of it for me.

Rube 3:26 AM  

Liked all the theme answers except the last, GOODMANASNEWMAN. It broke the pattern with two "MAN"s. Elsewise, like our leader, did not appreciate the "A" team. Agree, three is "a bit" much.

Favorite answer is THEPOKY, although I agree that there is some abiguity re the spelling of POK(e)Y.

The BLOB was really Steve McQueen's first movie! (Or have I heard this before?)

TEASEL has appeared 7 times in the NYT puzz per XWord Info.

A minimum of pop culture made this a very enjoyable puzzle, IMO. Thus, DNG.

Hope you all had a good Christmas.

The Bard 7:27 AM  

Hamlet > Act I, scene V

Ghost: I am thy father's spirit,
Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porpentine:
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!
If thou didst ever thy dear father love--

HAMLET: O God!

Ghost: Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.

HAMLET: Murder!

Ghost: Murder most foul, as in the best it is;
But this most foul, strange and unnatural.

HAMLET: Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift
As meditation or the thoughts of love,
May sweep to my revenge.

mmorgan 8:35 AM  

Liked some of the theme answers... some were gettable with almost no letters (CARTMAN...) and some were quite enjoyable when they arrived (RAINMAN...).

"Hopper" at 37D was first ROO, then BUN (bunny) before it finally became a BIN.

Ended up with a bunch of errors, thanks to the impenetrable EPACT which I hate so much I don't even want to look it up. I kept returning to EIGHT in that space -- it was the only thing that made any sense to me even though it threw off several downs around it.

Also thought the Portuguese (Brazilian) was PAoLO at 76A.

And I had LIARS for GEARS at 22A ("Shifty ones?") which gave me ALLURE instead of AGLARE at 14D, which I didn't really like and which created some other bizarre answers.

Overall, mostly fun for me with some wincing. EPACT! AUGHH!

donkos 8:58 AM  

What a way to end the year. Didn't care for this puzzle much - and like everyone else, got stuck on EPACT - I did get it but off a 50/50 guess with brow (I figured that prows generally stick out farther than brows, unless you're Andy Rooney).

The difference between the lunar year and the solar year is not a constant - if varies by each year which is why religious observances based on the lunar calendar (e.g. Hebrew and Islam) appear to occur at seemingly random times each year.

Happy New Year to All!

oldactor 9:30 AM  

I seem to remember the Jan Hus auditorium in NYC. Does anyone else? Did I make that up?

Leslie 9:39 AM  

I'm glad to get corroboration of my two "huh?" answers: EPACT and CATION. Got them, but was none the wiser for that.

I actually saw GOODMAN AS NEWMAN as a happy instance of lagniappe rather than an out-of-place rule breaker, but yeah, it did stand out for being different from the others.

Hope everyone who celebrates it had a wonderful Christmas!!

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

Can someone explain TOENAIL at 27 A? Is it just low because it's on your foot and tip because it's at the end of your toe? Or is there some other meaning I am missing?

joho 10:29 AM  

I enjoyed it but like @mmorgan left in PAoLO even though I knew it had to be UMBRA ... but I wouldn't give it up. Thought maybe oMBRA was a variation.

This is the first day since I can remember that I have totally and completely off from any duties. I am in heaven.

Enjoy your Sunday all!

Shamik 10:33 AM  

Didn't like this one at all mainly because of all the a- words like Rex pointed out. Easy-medium time at 17:25. One wrong square when I wanted the pope to still be Italian and be PAOLO. Just didn't like this puzzle. A lot of crap fill. Yes. Crap. Usually have my coffee while solving. Didn't today. Guess I'd better.

Noam D. Elkies 10:54 AM  

Neat concept, and yes the double MAN in 111A feels more like feature than bug. Still I had more fun with some of the non-theme entries than with about half the theme entries: 66A, 80A, 92A, and 111A were all cases of "yeah, I might have really enjoyed that if I cared enough about showbizzzz to recognize all those names". At least I knew of most of these -MAN names' existence, but couldn't tell you anything about say Cartman or U Jackman.

I've got no problem with having both 85D:MESON and 25D:CATION in the puzzle, but the latter's clue is misleading given the former's, because the only cation that's also a "particle" as in "particle physics" is the H⁺ ion, a.k.a. proton — and I expect Ulrich can confirm that "H⁺" doesn't actually occur as such except in extreme circumstances like H⁺[SbF₆]⁻. I like Rex's alter/stay suggestion, but that's suitable only for Puns&Anagrams because there's no actual -cation suffix there. (Well maybe yes for stay, as in workaholic, but not for alter.)

Neat to parallel 83D:CHE and 84D:HUS, both revolutionaries though in very different causes (and eras). Better that than random b*seball names (Cey what?). 99A:EDO isn't all that rare; xwordinfo.com even finds three appearances within a 6-day period this past October. Perhaps Rex solved them so quickly that he didn't notice.

A few A-partials in a 21x21 puzzle is a really small nit to pick. At least they're all better than my captcha, ADINK (as in rink-).

The NYTimes' crossword blog reports that this is Darin McDaniel's first-ever NYTimes puzzle (with assistance from Frank Longo in addition to Shortz's usual editorial ministrations). So, congratulations!

NDE

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

anion/cation (read as cat-ion) minus/plus ions (good crosswordese IMO)

@Noam - No word as altercation?
Staycation is in dictionary.com - it has hit respectability.

retired_chemist 11:23 AM  

No prob with CATION/MESON. Having two particles is fine - straightforward crosses help. How often are there two obscure literary characters/toon characters/athletes/etc. that hang others of us up?

NDE has a point about the CATION clue though. We don't think of cations in general as particle physics, though some certainly are. The alpha particle is a doubly charged cation (He++).

Hand up for RICK - same misread as Rex.


@ ksquare - Yes, a cathode is the negative pole. I don't see an issue.

PAoLO fans can take solace in the fact that shadow in Italian is ombra.

I enjoyed the puzzle, easy-medium works here. Nice debut, Mr. McDaniel.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:41 AM  

Hey! 16 D - sort of a bleed-over from yesterday - SANTA . . . FE.

@mmorgan and @joho - I wouldn't claim to speak Portuguese, but I believe PAOLO in Portuguese would be pronounced "pawn-lo", as Sao is "sawn." Anyone know for sure?

r.alphbunker 12:04 PM  

I tend not to like shaggy dog themes so this one didn't grab me. More initially wrong answers than usual on a Sunday puzzle but correct answers were easy to come up with. E.G. AGLARE first then GARISH, the aforementioned RICK/RICO, RAGGEDY(sp?) then RAGDOLL, NERVE then VERVE, CAD then CUR, ASHRAM then ASYLUM and probably others that I have forgotten.

Mel Ott 12:48 PM  

I must be getting attuned to the digital age. Never heard of EVITE but threw it down with no crosses. Not sure that's a good thing!

A bit of a slog but that was not a problem for me - a good way to pass a snowy morning.

Jan Hus was an important reformer who anticipated the Reformation by about a century. The Moravian Church in the USA is a spiritual descendant.

@Oldactor: there used to be (maybe still is) a Jan Hus Church in the Yorkville section of NYC. I would not be surprised if there were an auditorium as well, perhaps related to the church?

ArtLvr 1:01 PM  

A neat puzzle, and congrats to Rex's subconscious re "HUS on First?" Yes! Tossed out of a high window to his death for suspected heresy in 1402, Jan Hus became known the "First Defenestration" in Czech history retroactively, as such enforced LEAPS grew more common in subsequent ages!

∑;(

mac 1:38 PM  

Pretty good Sunday puzzle, excellent debut!

I had to expunct the far NW after putting in "eclat" at 1A and tendril at 27A, but the theme was clear with that first answer at 23A.

I also had liars for gears and roo before bin. Some interesting words: expunction, excoriate and ArtLvr's defenstration.

@Joho: I'm trying to take the day off, but I can't help myself. Just put in a load of laundry.....

Hope you are all enjoying a lovely end of December week!

Noam D. Elkies 1:50 PM  

Thanks to Ret.chemist (not Ulrich — Entschuldigung) for the cationic confirmation.

Yes, I initially read misread the 44A clue too, but that didn't matter in my case because either way translates to "find enough crosses to guess a plausible name"…

@Lonely in AK: no love in "I need my space", but 23A:I_NEED_MY_SPACEMAN is entirely different, at least if said by (say) Mrs. Aldrin.

NDE (new captcah = nievi, appropriate to the Eastern Seaboard snowstorm I see out my window, even if our Alaskan first poster wouldn't be impressed)

Noam D. Elkies 1:54 PM  

[captcha, that is, not "captcah". And @anon 11:05, yes "altercation" is a word, but it's not formed from "alter" (though the two do share a Latin source); it would be like cluing the suffix -OON from "buff" and "harp". NDE]

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

I too misread Copacabana.
Liked this puzzle, kudos to
first-time McDaniel.

Blowin' & snowing like a ---
here on LI....Rex, you think
you'll be able to fly tomorrow?

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

Whatup with EPACT?????

I still don't get it.

Vega 2:17 PM  

Ha, glad to know I'm in good company: I too saw "Casablanca" where "Copacabana" is.

Laughed out loud at GOODMANASNEWMAN. I was stuck at EPACT as well but UKASE was the other unknown for me. As always, I'm taken by clues that offer clever twists on common words, like EASY and CUT. More, please.

retired_chemist 2:20 PM  

@ Anon 2:12 - EPACT is discussed at length on the Wordplay blog today. Scroll down to: "Sunday: Hey, Mister!."

Steve J 2:44 PM  

@Anon 2:12: Look it up in a dictionary. It's defined exactly as it's clued.

It is not defined, however, as "Just one of many bits of dodgy fill that made this puzzle less than enjoyable for me." But that is what EPACT is. Along with MOIETY, THEPOKY, A-Everything, and a lackluster theme. The SPACEMAN one was the only one that gave me anything remotely approaching a chuckle. Everything else was pretty much just a mechanical exercise of inserting MAN into phrases.

Ended up with a DNF, because I DNC (did not care).

SethG 2:45 PM  

I was looking for a picture of me at the Jan Hus Memorial, but it's blurry. But yeah, Casablanca, yeah, EPACT, and yeah, ayeah.

retired_chemist 2:54 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 2:56 PM  

@ SteveJ et al. - {bad joke} Actually an E-PACT is a political agreement reached with no face to face meetings, i.e.totally over the internet. Like E-VITE.{/bad joke}

Bill 3:00 PM  

Loved the picture of Bill Lee in his spaceman outfit. I immediately thought of him when I filled in the answer (and also the picture Rex chose to display). BTW, that picture was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He was (and still is) one of the most quotable and interesting personalities in baseball. He is still pitching somewhere.

Other than that, either I am getting better at these puzzles or they are getting easier. 2nd week in a row that I completely finished w/o googling. I do admit that I asked my physics major son what a Cation (I pronounced it CAshun) he said do you mean "cat" "ion". Why of course I did.

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

Play more Scrabble!

CATIONS is an anagram of ACTIONS (and a common 7-letter bingo).

EPACT is well-known because PACT takes a front E.

Jim 3:16 PM  

I like the cluing for BOLERO. Never thought of it that way...but yeah, that's right.

MOIETY...crossing ELREY and DOBIE--yeesh. I'll have MOIETY that cheesecake, if you please.

Loved CASSOCK (though I had hASSOCK b/c of EighT. Turns out, hASSOCK...is not a thing). AIRACES...stinks. ACES is specific enough.

Abbrevs like ECUA are always funny to me. Two-letter abbrevs make sense...uniform and w/o running the risk of stepping on toes by abbreviating a short name by only one or two letters, which always looks silly. MA, where I live, is Mass, in the Times. Is Maine therefore Main? And what to do with longer names that don't lend themselves to other-than-two-letter abbrevs, like Hawaii (Hawa?)? Or those that would both go for the same one, like Missouri and Mississippi (Miss?)? Answer: just use the two-letter abbrev. presumably figured out by the post office long ago.

JaxInL.A. 3:32 PM  

Help! Not a single mention here yet for my waterloo? What the heck is an OCAT, and I speak pretty good Spanish but I have no idea about ECUA.  

OH, crumbs. Typing it here it makes me realize that the latter is short for Ecuador. I was trying to think of a word related to land. Maybe speaking the language misdirected me. Ugh. Well, it helped with Viva EL REY.  Still don't get OCAT. This ECUA/OCAT cross was a Natick for me. Is One OCAT a ball game? 

Otherwise I had a very similar solving experience to @mmorgan's (as I often seem to do). I looked up the city and discovered that while some do write Sao Paolo, Sao PAULO seems to be the standard spelling. Ugh, again.  

The theme seemed to cross TV generations, from DOBIE Gillis thru Seinfeld to South Park (a show I know is popular but which I just can't watch.) 

Impressive debut puzzle, Mr. McDaniels. Thanks.  

Happy post-Christmas everyone.

syndy 3:48 PM  

Well It looks like EPACT is indeed the mot juste and just because we've never heard of it doesn't change that!so yeah for darin mcdaniel.Myself I love to Learn anew word!I dredged up the name Jan Hus without placing him at the defenestration of Prague,and surely ukase is as crosswordy as they come! so I can forgive a couple of extraneous a-s thumbs up!

Clark 4:31 PM  

EPACT was new to me. I wanted 11 -- lunar month is 29.5 days x 12 = 354, which is 11 short of 365. Who knew there was a word for this thing? Now we all do. I say yea. Newman with the double man seemed right to me -- only because it was last.

ANON B 4:58 PM  

8 references to EPACT as "never heard of it" or "what is it ?" or some such remark.

Anyone who has done xwords for a reasonable length of time should
know it. That's how I learned
about it.

miriam b 5:00 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 5:05 PM  

@artlvr: Throwing people out of the window seems to have been a well-established practice in Prague. The 30-Years War, one of the great catastrophes in German history, also started with magistrates being thrown out of the window in Prague--I always thought Jan Hus was burned at the stake, but that's why one does xword puzzles...did I mention EPACT?

@NDE: Thanks for clearing this up--I was scratching my head...

...back to putting my new Aeron Chair together and looking out at this so-called snowstorm: pathetic!

miriam b 5:06 PM  

@oldactor:
A sad story:

MANY years ago, a blind date took me to the Jan Hus House in NYC to attend a performance of Die Entf├╝hrung aus Dem Serail. I was so underwhelmed by this date that actually felt sick to my stomach and didn't enjoy the opera vey much.

The date was arranged by a former boy friend whom I had dumped in a moment of sheer folly. I have to believe that he meant well and was not seeking revenge.

Captcha: ainga. The emotion I feel when I recall dumping that boy friend

jae 5:22 PM  

My experience/opinion was pretty much what Rex said. Knew UKASE, MOIETY vaguely rung a bell, but EPACT was new. I've only been doing xwords (3 plus a day) for 6 or 7 years so, if it showed up that recently, I either missed it or it made no lasting impression.

imsdave 5:58 PM  

@Ulrich - I have not counted this storm out yet. We're approaching full whiteout conditions here in Ellington CT. Looking forward to Westport my friend.

@Rex - good luck with your travel.

MOIETY has my vote for word of the day. Thought I'd failed until I came here and saw that it was correct.

imsdave 6:01 PM  

Oh, and HUSKY should have been clued to celebrate the amazing accomplishment of the UConn women's basketball team - 89 in a row is incredible in any team sport. It was great to see John Wooden's grandson in attendance to celebrate the event.

jyp0625 7:46 PM  

I did about 70% of the puzzle before getting stuck. Too many obscure words and expressions.

One of the least enjoyable Sunday puzzles.

chefwen 8:17 PM  

Did this one whilst watching the sweet Packer victory, took me pretty much the entire game as I had to keep jumping up cheering and startling the poor doggies by my outbursts, and I was the quiet one. I enjoyed both the game and the puzzle.

Ditto on the Copacabana/Casablanca thing, the song Copacabana was running through my head while I confidently filled in Rick. Weird!

Felt the same as @Clark with the double MAN being okay because it was the last one, actually thought that was rather clever.

I skip M-W 11:36 PM  

Moderately amusing, but with too many TV clues, but I was pleased with myself for getting Cartman, etc., Never heard of epact, which surprised me because I once spent quite a bit of time looking up various lunar and solar years. Our regular Gregorian calendar is more or less solar, with leap days, and occasional leap seconds added to make it work out right. Babylonian (aka Hebrew) calendar is lunar with an extra month added seven times every nineteen years, which makes it remarkably accurate considering how old it is.

One o'cat was a ball game once played on the streets of NY, I think with a broom handle for a bat.

My parents once took me to the Copacabana in Manhattan for New Year's Eve in the 1950's.

cation is pronounced cat-I-on (the o is a schwa)

william e emba 3:13 AM  

I guess I'll be the first and perhaps only person here who can own up to knowing EPACT from real life. I've mentioned way way long ago that I sometimes teach how to compute the times of sunrise/sunset from scratch at a yeshiva (Jewish religious school). I have not gotten so far as to teach them the sighting of the new moon, but I have worked it out anyway, and yes EPACT is part of the jargon.

On the other hand, it's been quite awhile, so I had in fact forgotten that the word even existed, and I was very unhappy with "eight", since it's actually eleven days difference, but the G gave me "germans" for Red Baron and company, and for a brief moment I was happy with "hassock". Well, that was a mess that had to be disentangled--first I had to remember the USS WASP and second I eventually had enough crosses to remember MARIAH Carey. But yes, I was definitely cool with EPACT.

And another of my favorite words, this time definitely remembered, was MOIETY. I'm sure I've come across it at times, but the one instance which has been burned in my memory for 25 years now is from Augustus Carp, Esq., by Himself: Being the Autobiography of a Really Good Man, originally published anonymously in 1924, eventually revealed about sixty years later to have been authored by Sir Henry Bashford, personal physician to King George VI among other accomplishments.

Carp is one of the all-time funniest books ever written. I recommend it to everyone without hesitation. The title above links to a free online copy.

Carp (as you might guess from the name) is a ridiculous sanctimonious twit, who has absolutely no idea of what a complete loser he is. His autobiography is an enumeration of worthless idiocies, and you as a reader simply can't believe the tripe he's spelling out in such great detail. Amongst the tripe was his great athletic success as a 12-year old: his dominance at Nuts in May over his cousin and her schoolgirl friends. In spelling out the rules, Carp writes, "For the purposes of this latter game those who proposed to take part would first form themselves into equal groups, the members of each MOIETY then standing side by side, facing the same way and holding each other's hands."

jyp0625 6:02 PM  

After solving the puzzle in about 10-15 minutes I went back on the computer and typed the answers in the grid. It took me 4:32 minutes. Granted I am a novice with Acrosslite and I can do better. But I am still amazed that people can solve the entire puzzle in 2 minutes flat.

Chris 1:04 AM  

One old cat was one of the primeval bat-and-ball games from which baseball evolved. The (very) few times I've seen it in print, it was never abbreviated to o'cat.
According to Wikipedia, additional bases could be added to make it two, three or four old cat.

jen 2:35 PM  

As a mom of a son I knew Mos Eisley and Syd Hoff which made me wonder about myself. I am new to the crossword. usually do it at work with my co-worker. Proud to have finished this one alone. The "a" s really bugged me- a glare, "a" nnoying!Also-"airawes" rrrrggg!

jen 2:41 PM  

ha! just realized it's "airaces" that makes more sense. but i liked woo better than coo anyway. Told you i was new!

Kimetha 2:33 PM  

Did I miss an answer to the 27A Low tip = toenail question? The funny/odd words like epact don't bother me as much as the dumb answers like "ate out" for 71A's patronized a restaurant. Supped would have been so much better. Or banqueted or ANYTHING but ate out! DOH. I want to improve my vocabulary not make it more mundane and boring.

Anonymous 4:06 PM  

What was the clue for 10D that had the answer 'Sweden'? This clue was missing from our syndicated version today.

Anonymous 4:07 PM  

Living in the boondocks, I don't see this puzzle until a week after it is solved by most of you. I don't let myself look at sites like this until after I have solved it myself. I thought this was a decent puzzle except for "the poky"....that seemed a real stretch to me. I was scratching my head even after convincing myself that all the letters coming from the other direction were correct.

clansman9448 8:34 PM  

My easiest so far, about 1/2 hour, no cheating i.e. Google, newspaper solution page, or "Here".
Just started doing these seriously/daily about 3 weeks ago although did the local daily for 30+ years. Quite by chance noticed FEDORA,UMBRA,& DOBIE 1st so started working S Center, pretty much filling it up backwards from there.
Usually NYT lets me get one here, one there, then it's one at a time for the next hour or so until suddenly, a particular word bust it loose. Thanks for your premier puzzle/ my premier great solve combo.
OK, comments agree with complainers about EPACT, OCAT, UKASE. Also Low Tip(?), Like the double possibility for PAOLO/OMBRA & PAULO/UMBRA.
HASSOCK=FOOTSTOOL.
Loved theme, ESPECIALLY the double that fit. Couldn't believe that both MOIETY & MENSREA just jumped out at me like CAT or DOG or the like.
Hope to join the comments again soon, although I'd rather solve than talk about why I couldn't. Thanks for the ability to do so.

Valerie 11:23 PM  

@Anonymous, the clue for 10D was "Winter Olympics powerhouse".

Slow in Soldotna 3:13 PM  

I've been lurking here for months and am always amused at the nitpicking. Most Sunday puzzles are incredibly clever IMHO and take me a few hours to complete. Rarely do I DNF but have spent hours on Google, etc.

I love this blog for the posters who remind Rex to be less critical.

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