Little Wire gangster / SUN 12-5-10 / Second-largest city in Kyrgyzstan / Polly of literature / Alternative to plata / Pedestal toppers

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Constructor: Ben Pall

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "On a Roll" — theme answers are directions, which, properly followed, produce a six-sided die


Word of the Day: JEHU (110D: King in II Kings) —

Jehu (Hebrew: יֵהוּא, Modern Yehu Tiberian Yēhû ; "Yahweh is He") was a king of Israel. He was the son of Jehoshaphat, and grandson of Nimshi. // William F. Albright has dated his reign to 842-815 BC, while E. R. Thiele offers the dates 841-814 BC. The principal source for the events of his reign comes from 2 Kings 9-10. (wikipedia)
• • •
Well ... two things. No, three. 1. Puzzles with answers that are instructions = death. Can't stand them. Nothing less exciting than the prose of an instruction manual. 2. "Circles"? SHADE THE CIRCLES?? There are no "circles." There are "O"s. "O"s are letters. 3. So put off was I by this "do some crap to your puzzle after you've finished it"-type puzzle that I completely neglected to care what it was I was supposed to be making. As it's the holiday season, I just assumed that the instructions would have me make a box ... some kind of gift box. And the shaded "circles" would just be decorations on the wrapping paper? Only after I noticed the pattern of the "circles" did I realize I would be making a die. If I'd read the title of the puzzle, that also might have given me a clue.

No problems solving this one except (to some extent) in the OMAR (64A: ___ Little, "The Wire" gangster) / SEPOY (68A: ___ Rebellion of 1857-59) section. I misremembered SEPOY as SAPOY (it was a Word of the Day a while back), and I didn't know OMAR. Because of SAPOY problem, thought Greek god was ARES, not EROS (69D: Gree god whose name is one letter off from 118-Down).

Not much else to say about this one. Straight to bullets, I guess.

  • 65A: Old Philadelphia stadium, informally, with "the" (VET) — Something I know without knowing why I know it. Veterans Memorial Stadium. Forget who used to play there. The Phillies? Yes, and the Eagles.
  • 74A: Alternative to plata (ORO) — I botched this and went with RIO. I know "ORO y Plata" as the state motto of ... Montana? Yes. But why "alternative." ORO *y* plata. Gold *and* silver. Why should I have to choose?
  • 112A: Some funerary ware (URNS) — "ware" makes it sound like you're going to eat some thing with / off of it.
  • 91A: Plug's place (CORD) — had -ORD and still couldn't make sense of it. Could think only of hair plugs.
  • 92A: It's between green and black (OOLONG) — the "between" has to do with how the amount of oxidation. Has anyone tried matcha before? I bought some today. It has to be whisked. I'm a little freaked out by it. But I thought I'd give it a try. One of my readers is a chef who is really into it.
  • 125A: Pedestal toppers (BUSTS)BUSTS of Pallas? Just above your chamber door? (speaking of Greek gods sometimes referred to as "Pallas," see APOLLO, 49D: Artemis' twin)
  • 41D: Polly of literature, e.g. (AUNT) — Do not know AUNT Polly ("Tom Sawyer," it turns out). Could think only of Polly Anna ... Pollyanna.
  • 53D: Rapper with the 1988 platinum album "Power" (ICE-T) — Featuring the single "I'm Your Pusher" (with extensive citation of Curtis Mayfield's "Pusherman")

  • 71D: Second-largest city in Kyrgyzstan (LJUB... just kidding, it's OSH) — Can't wait to hear how all my readers knew this and grew up there and what not. OSH ... if it's not followed by KOSH, I don't know it.
  • 89D: Superstate in Orwell's "1984" (EURASIA) — wanted OCEANIA, which is... also right.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. pictures of a finished die and a .pdf of this puzzle are available at "Wordplay" (thanks to Patrick Merrell for the heads-up)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


D_Blackwell 12:23 AM  

A record Sunday. Woo hoo! And I left about ten minutes on the table. It took me a long time to shift from GETS ON to ACTS ON at 20D.

A fairly easy dart on SEPOY; once I actually threw it. The GAG / GELT cross was obvious but hard to commit to. I didn't know GELT, and though it was obviously wrong, PELF was in my mind the whole time.

Interesting clue for OOLONG

I always liked Linda Ronstadt. The three Nelson Riddle albums are terrific; country, rock and roll, classic girl singer. She did it all.

I agree that 'CIRCLES' is imprecise. PIPS come to mind first of course. But I'm perfectly okay with it. Shading the circles makes the pips. Cool. The die is entirely hand made after all; an instant collector's item. I liked this a lot. However, no notice that there was a PDF for The Optimum Experience just suckity-suck-sucked. WTF ^#^%&*@:(($ The page says "Premium Crosswords". How about some premium service.

Anonymous 12:51 AM  

i finished and realized it was a cube and filled in the circles but didn't realize it was a die until rex clued me in but i enjoyed this relatively easy for me sunday puzzle.

retired_chemist 1:05 AM  

Medium. Liked the crossword puzzle,more or less, though there is nothing exceptional about the fill. Also like matcha. Did NOT like the faux origami at the end, particularly since AL shows none of it. This is about word puzzles, not virtuoso construction gimmicks. Bah.

122A was YOO-HOO until crosses eliminated it. 22A was FRIGHT, ditto.

Plunked down OMAHA @ 6A thinking there must be about eleventeen correct answers, i.e. 5 letter midwestern cities named for Indian tribes. But OMAHA remained.

jae 2:54 AM  

What Rex said. Circles, what circles?? Dashes, where?? Medium seems right and so does instructions=death. Pain in the a** not worth the extra effort. Thanks Rex for explaining it.

That said I fell into some clever traps, e.g. OUSTS for BOOTS, SMITH for SHOER, ETS for ENS, and NICK for IVES. Not a terrible puzzle, I just didn't care for the gimmick.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:09 AM  

For this pen-on-paper solver, considering how the little paper cube now on my desk was constructed, I must say that it was . . . . a die to puzzle for.

Evgeny 6:56 AM  

as geography in puzzles goes, i guess everyone draws their own line and OSH is well beyond mine! i think it was Matthew G. who wrote a couple of days ago that capitals are always fair game - they just can be hard or easy. So was yesterday's Ljubljana: it's a capital, it's even a capital of a member state of the European Union and it was a Saturday. I wouldn't complain about Bishkek (Kyrgyzstani capital), probably not even on a sunday. however, to expect from me to know one other city in Kyrgyzstan outside from Friday and Saturday is preposterous.

same feeling as Rex: solving was a bit tedious because of the do-this-do-that theme answers which one just cannot come up with without a sufficient number of crosses. i am however (and as usual) absolutely awestruck by the construction. to get the Os in the right places and combine this with the directions, symmetrical and with an equal number of letters... i can't grasp the way people do things like that.

explian - now that's just a typo

Bob Kerfuffle 7:28 AM  

@Evgeny - Regarding your comments on the amazing construction of this puzzle: Since I believe you are somewhat new here, are you aware that the constructor, Ben Pall, is only 15 years old? Irrelevant in some ways, astounding in others!

pauer 7:41 AM  

Very ambitious, great open corners, and a craft project when you're done; what's not to love? If *only* the constructor could've avoided the letter O everywhere else. :)

Based on the shape and position of the BOLDLINES, I wonder if Mr. Pall is a holy roller.

ArtLvr 7:51 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, LOL -- a die to puzzle for! @Pauer also, because I wondered about the Cross too!

I usually download the NYT from the Wordplay site so as to start at night, ahead of the date change, and thus was aware I'd miss a solving gimmick in AcrossLite. Didn't care. I just ploughed ahead like Rex, then peeked at their solution afterward. Très cool!

I had a slow start, trying Horror for TERROR and Always for AS EVER, but figured it all out before needing to NOD OFF. Yes, OOLONG took a looong time to see, and I had to fend off a Boxer before recalling the SEPOY...

Not much else to note. QUAFFS to all, be it a BDAY or Holidays!


glimmerglass 8:16 AM  

Couldn't find the PDF version, even after reading the notepad, but now that Rex tells me what it produced, I'm not sorry. Looks like a lot of trouble for not much return. Except for Bob Kerfuffle's "a die to puzzle for." If I'd thought of that, it would have been worth the trouble. Good one, Bob.

retired_chemist 8:31 AM  

Kudos to the two punsters Bob K. and pauer - LOL. Where do I click "like?"

captcha - basuqsyn. The eleventh largest city in Kyrgyzstan?

Evgeny 8:33 AM  

@BK: lol from me as well! And thanks for pointing out the age of the constructor, makes it all the more amazing to me. the level of command of the language needed to pull this off is certainly above your average early high-school student... also amazing to me personally: when i was 15 my English vocabulary had about as many words as there are answers in this puzzle.

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

How do you know what Os are part of the die?

ArtLvr 8:52 AM  

Yes, the constructor's youth is also QUAFF-worthy! Cheers!

For those who subscribe through the NYT, don't miss the BG and PI puzzles... The team of Cox and Rathvon has a seasonally-appropriate grid design with theme answers to match in the former, and Merl Reagle outdoes himself in the latter with the most hilarious pun combinations I've seen in ages!


Rex Parker 8:53 AM  

First off, how can you *not* find the PDF? If you actually read my write-up, this would be impossible. I tell you where it is and link to it. It's not a mystery.

Second, you know what "circles" to color by following the instructions (which are the answers ... in the puzzle). The instructions make sense ONLY if you are solving in the paper OR ... have the .pdf file.


joho 8:58 AM  

The comments of the day go to @Bob Kerfuffle and @pauer!

I enjoyed the puzzle but didn't see what to do, no dashes, bold lines or circles in sight. I like playing with my finished puzzles so I'm sorry I couldn't figure it out without seeing the information posted at Wordplay. That really destroyed the solve for me but upon coming here I am amazed at what Ben Pall has created. A "puzzle to die for" indeed!

retired_chemist 8:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
joho 8:58 AM  

I meant, "a die to puzzle for!!!"

retired_chemist 9:04 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 9:09 AM  

@ Anon 8:42 - color them all in. There are only the requisite 21 O's in the pertinent area of the puzzle, which adds to the eclat. But mot to the solving experience IMO.

"Wordplay" shows a visual of the die which confirms this.

JC66 9:10 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 9:13 AM  

Liked the puzzle, loved the write up & the puns. Thanks Rex, BK & Pauer.

I do the puzzle in AL and I try hard not to open the notepad unless absolutely necessary since the reveal can make the puzzle too easy. So today, when I opened the notepad after completing the puzzle I went to the Magazine Section of the Times to see what it looked like. I immediately realized it was a dice cube without having to go through all the cutting, coloring and pasting. Saved a lot of time and effort.

mmorgan 9:23 AM  

Got through this VERY fast -- on screen, ignoring the PDF or the hardcopy (had trouble finding the former at first, and the latter is just a few feet away from me) -- and for some reason I didn't enjoy it that much. Perhaps a combination of too easy and too obscure (for me), with instructions instead of any meaningful "theme."

But I am hugely impressed by the accomplishment of the die construction. Very, very clever.

And then @Bob Kerfuffle's "a die to puzzle for" made it all worthwhile for me. Ha!!

Never heard of NOB or NEHU but everything worked. And I really liked OOLONG -- that one had me for a while.

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

I felt a bit frustrated by this puzzle since I go to this link ( and do the puzzles in Across Light. There was no indication that you needed to find a different version.

I finished the puzzle, with a few wrong letters, and figured I was dumb for not being able to figure out where bold lines were.

Then I looked at the solution in Across Light to see if my incorrect letters would make it make more sense. It didn't, so I went to the Wordplay blog and learned of the PDF version.

They need to come up with a better way of letting people know about graphic elements.

Kate Slate 9:54 AM  

BTW, I couldn't find the .pdf on the NYTimes site either....and though it was nice that you provided a link to it in your write-up, why would I be reading your write-up *before* trying to do the puzzle? Just sayin'

No BS 9:56 AM  

Um....what are ens? (Knew there's no town or river called Avot, at least).

Success today. Whew!

mmorgan 9:56 AM  

@twangster: In the AcrossLite version, on the right of the puzzle's title (ON A ROLL) you'll see a little yellow square icon/graphic. That's usually there when there's something to read in the Notepad. If you just put your cursor on it, you'll see the message.

@ArtLvr -- what are the "BG" and "PI" puzzles? (Sorry if everyone knows this!)

Ensign Pulver 10:05 AM  

@No BS - On Star Trek, the ENSigns were usually the first ones killed in any encounter with hostile aliens. (Were they the guys in the red shirts?)

BTW - It is a lot easier to answer questions if reference is made to the clue number, e.g., "28 A, ENS".

(And I wondered about BG and PI also!)

PlantieBea 10:17 AM  

Not a fan of this one at all, because of the missed instructions. My DH printed it out last night for me from AL. I solved the whole thing and then went back to the NYT site to see if there was a note DH did not tell me about. Yep, but the PDF version of the puzzle wasn't there. Did not read Wordplay, but instead came here to see what the fuss was all about. Aha. A DIE. And the pdf is at Wordplay. Now I know.

The only thing I could think after solving this was that the instructions were meant to taunt the solver that despises construction gimmicks based on a puzzle grid, thus setting the feedback ON A ROLL.

Trouble with the cellar: Mine stored SALT for a while. Wish the VET clue had been tied with the NAM WAR group.

Geometricus 10:22 AM  

As a Geometry teacher I noticed the cross shape folds to a hexahedron immediately, as The iPod app alerted me to get the PDF immediately but it wasn't on the NYT main puzzle page, so I went to the Wordplay blog and there it was. My son, ten-year-old Joseph, was immediately intrigued and printed out a copy for himself. He loves papercraft but couldn't solve the puzzle so I gave him mine to cut up and tape when done.

What is even more impressive for 15-yr-old Ben Pall is setting up the die so opposite sides sum to seven just like a real die. Unlike Rex I love stuff like this but then I love turning 2d into 3d in any medium. I make all my students construct all five platonic solids out of card stock and hang them up from my ceiling.

Ulrich 10:35 AM  

I got the die half-way through and then used this knowledge to fill in the o's in answers I didn't have yet--big help!

Indeed, a die to puzzle for (even if the dashes are dots, in my paper version at least)...

mitchs 10:36 AM  

BG = Boston Blobe
PI = Philadelphia Inquirer

You can get to both thru Ephraim's links on Rex's page.

Geometricus 10:39 AM  

Was a bit disappointed I didn't get OMAHA faster though. My dad grew up on the Winnebago reservation which our tribe purchased from the Uoma'ha tribe in the 1860's after we were banished from Minnesota as a result of the Sioux uprising (excuse me: "Dakota conflict, the new PC name). Now our tribe (properly called the HoChunk tribe of Nebraska) is famous for plowing our casino profits back into other job-producing ventures, going from 80% unemployment to 20% in ten years. I'll always be thankful to the OMAHA for helping us out.

JC66 11:02 AM  

Read the comments (it's all about the puns):

BK = @Bob Kerfuffle said...
For this pen-on-paper solver, considering how the little paper cube now on my desk was constructed, I must say that it was . . . . a die to puzzle for.

6:09 AM

P = @pauer said...
Based on the shape and position of the BOLDLINES, I wonder if Mr. Pall is a holy roller.

7:41 AM

jae 11:51 AM  

OK, now I know why I was so irritated. I printed out the AL version. The NYT site did not provide a link to the PDF that I could find. I might have liked this better if I could have found the PDF before coming here.

Shamik 12:02 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: Best part of puzzle was "a die to puzzle for."

And yes a constructor's masterpiece, but a solver's yawn. Kudos for cleverness to the teenager. Clever doesn't equal enjoyable.

Agree with others who try to do the puzzle without reading the note, regarding the note as a potential spoiler.

Agree with previous rants about paying for the puzzle and not getting full throttle without clicking elsewhere.

Agree that one should have had a .pdf link on the NYT puzzle page like BEQ does when his puzzles don't fit into the AcrossLite model.

Nice to see what it was supposed to look like after seeing the link at the bottom of Rex's excellent write-up. Too late for it to have more meaning than "Oh, that's what they meant."

Medium time for a Sunday.

nomol: what i say to these kinds of puzzles without getting the accurate grid from AcrossLite

Kendall 12:23 PM  

This has already been noted a bunch, but I didn't even get the "circles" thing until I read your blog. I just assumed I was clueless (somewhat true) and would never know. I'm actually sort of surprised I finished this one because I guessed so many times. I randomly had a lot of trouble in the NW corner as well. I blame this on not thoroughly being awake but in the end it worked out well enough.

@Rex - Tried matcha a few times growing up as my Mother loves tea. I didn't love it by itself, but it's surprisingly good in ice cream. I recommend that if you get the chance.

chaos1 12:29 PM  

First, I'd like to congratulate Ben Pall on a remarkable achievement. It was truly brilliant.

That being said, I'm with you on this one Rex. I've " cut and pasted " my post from Wordplay below, to save a little time :

Opened the puzzle in AcrossLite. Immediately noticed the insidious little yellow box in the header. Opened it, and said to myself, Yeah, Whatever ! As far as I'm concerned, the instructions could have read as follows:

Using a sharp razor, cut the puzzle from the center of the page. Save the page.

Douse the puzzle with lighter fluid.

Hold the puzzle over a standard roasting pan, and light it.

Carefully dump the ashes into a mortar. Add two tablespoons of Elmer's glue.

Use the pestle to work the mixture, adding small amounts of milk as necessary.

Place a large piece of waxed paper on a cutting board.

Sprinkle a generous amount of flour onto the paper. Add a pinch of cornstarch.

Pour contents of mortar onto waxed paper.

Using a standard rolling pin, roll out the mixture as thin as possible.

You should now have something resembling a gray pie crust.

Place the medium in your oven for 15 minutes, at 350 degrees.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Place the finished product over the hole on the page from whence it came.

Trim edges with razor blade, so that product fits perfectly in said hole.

You should now have a rather large, soft and pliable square ?

Visit your bathroom.

Go do the Fireball puzzle in the Washington Post. Have a nice Sunday !

@ Bob Kerfuffle and @pauer: LMFAO !
Two of the best comments I've see in ages !

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

The puzzle was pretty easy, but I appreciate the cleverness with which it was constructed (and particularly now that I know it was done by a 15-year-old). I think a puzzle that makes you react "Wow, that's pretty cool" when you've finished the whole thing and see how it all fits is as legitimate a good puzzling experience as one that depends just on the words alone. I'm not sure why there's so much hostility to this kind of puzzle (I can understand being annoyed at Across Lite, but not at the puzzle itself.)

Art Wholeflaffer 1:06 PM  

"Said Simple Simon to the pieman,
Let me taste your WARE."

(Not funerary wares, one hopes.)

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Could not agree with Rex more. Not one to miss the chance of being a bull in a china shop I will say that I found nothing about this puzzle to like. Let's just say this puzzle offered more fun to the constructor to make it than for me to solve it. We had our 6 year old grandson for an overnight and it strikes me this was more his venue than mine....

Masked and Anonymous and Stupid 1:13 PM  

When finished, I had a little taped-up, square wad of paper. And a cross-shaped hole in the puz . . . appropriate for the SunPuz. Also excellent for warding off vampires during light shows.

Shade the circles instruction sailed plum over my head. Might as well of said color your balls.

I really gotta think more in 3-D. Mr. Happy Pencil's message to me: "You are as thick as a porterhouse!"

Little Tony 1:31 PM  

Plug = log
Cord = stack of logs

r.alphbunker 1:55 PM  

We have seen two amazing constructions in the last couple of days (Krozol and Pall). Both have invited comparisons to Fireball puzzles because their fill paled in comparison to a typical Peter Gordon puzzle. This brings to mind the following analogy. A themed puzzle is like a computer program and an unthemed puzzle is like a piece of literature. The themed puzzle and the computer program both work within constraints that limit expressive possibilities yet can be appreciated for what they are able to accomplish within those constraints. As a humorous example of this, I have taught computer programming and have offered extra credit to any student who handed in a program whose lines rhymed. The students always laugh because they understand that rhyming is not an essential part of programming. And no one has ever submitted such a program.

Of course, a program that produces the correct result can be poorly written and should be criticized for that. But a program should never be criticized because it is not as evocative as literature.

Finally, I do not think that feeling awe at a clever construction indicates a lack of solving experience. I would argue that RP's literary background, not his extensive solving experience, predisposes him to appreciate themeless puzzles and to be more likely to devalue a clever construction.

Masked and Appreciative and Anonymous 2:05 PM  

P.S. @Ben Pall - Cool puz, kiddo. Thumbs up. Had lots of fun solving it, and about as much fun relating how incompetent I am at followin' instructions. Foofed by a ninth-grader. Won't be the last time, I reckon.

Stan 2:09 PM  

My completed puzzle is very cute (even with inky writeovers and a bit too much tape). It will definitely go on the holiday tree. Thanks, Ben Pall!

D_Blackwell 2:27 PM  

This is too cool. We fired up the printer and made ornaments for the tree. For the first few we used plain copy paper. Pretty quick we found that it's not that hard to put the tape on the inside of the die, run the hanger string up through an inside corner, and finish it off with just one small piece of tape on the outside. They're perfect. I pulled out some heavy stock and we ran a few of those also. We've got about ten of these things ready for the tree. Weekend sex before and after - I'm just worthless now. This is a good day.

mac 2:40 PM  

My puzzle looks great with the turquoise pips I put in. I also thought, after "shade the circles" when there were no circles, that this was a puzzle to "irk" the solvers who hate gimmicks.

Plenty of good clues and words, so enjoyable although too big. Had "Boxer" instead of Sepoy as well, wanted Dallas for the Cowboys and learned about the plug and the cord.

@Bob K and @pauer: thanks for the laugh!

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

@ D_Blackwell: I'm sure young Ben is thrilled to hear about your weekend sex and the aphrodisiacal effects of his puzzle--or were you just making a crude reference to 122A (OHOHOH)?

Jane 3:11 PM  

Shouldn't the o's in 96A and 122A as well as the first o in 97A also be filled in as "circles" to form the 6?

edmcan 3:11 PM  

I enjoyed Bob Kerfuffle's pun much more than I did this puzzle. Okay, so he's 15, which may account for the awkwardness of some of the cluing, which made it seem more difficult that it really was.

retired_chemist 3:23 PM  

@ Jane 3:11 -

Yes. Follow the link in my 9:09 AM post to see the die.

D_Blackwell 3:24 PM  

Anon 2:45 -

No. No reference. Last night was the first snow of the year here (a generous dusting), so that certainly helped set the mood for turning up the heat this morning (in every way). Oh, it's cold out.

I am a lucky man. My baby, football, and pizza tonight. It just gets better and better.

Neither of us is the least bit crafty, but it was great fun and they look cool.

Jane 3:31 PM  

Thanks, retired_chemist. HRH King Rex uses small blue dots for the other five sides but left those o's as o's.

chefbea 3:42 PM  

Couldn't figure out this puzzle!! When I saw that you had to fold it and make something I assumed it might be a dreidel in honor of Hanuka.

Too busy baking today to read all the comments. Back to the cookies

Jim 3:47 PM  


Not funny. It's been a week...I'm still waiting. Remember your Fonzie.

Rex Parker 4:01 PM  

Patrick FTW.

Callback burn, while managing not to name-call. Well played, sir.

And, yeah, sorry about the six. Totally forgot those dots, and don't care enough to fix the grid.


retired_chemist 4:24 PM  

@ r.alphbunker - re:

"I have taught computer programming and have offered extra credit to any student who handed in a program whose lines rhymed. The students always laugh because they understand that rhyming is not an essential part of programming. And no one has ever submitted such a program."

There is one article in the Journal of Organic Chemistry written entirely in blank verse. See this link.

Noah Webster 4:26 PM  

@mac - When you say you learned about "the plug and the cord", I hope you were not referring to Little Tony's posting of
"Plug = log
Cord = stack of logs"

I suspect that was meant as a joke, since I have never heard of "plug" being used to mean a log. I would ask Little Tony for a specific reference.

Presumably the puzzler meant an electrical plug which goes on the end of a cord.

quilter1 4:33 PM  

I, too, enjoyed the puns more than the puzzle. Didn't we have a cut and paste puzzle a long while back? Solved late as I had a speaking date at 8:30 am 60 mi. away and was gone until two pm, but solved over lunch, so not too hard.

Falconer 5:06 PM  

Great fun! Those of you who don't like to play with your puzzles take these things way too seriously. This effort was incredibly inventive and a blast to solve and figure out. Nice work, Mr. Pall!

r.alphbunker 5:22 PM  

:-). But footnotes have no place in a poem even if it is written in blank verse.

What's next, footnotes in a crossword puzzle? E.G.,
clue for 1A could be "test tube" (see 64A).
Answer to 1A could be VESSEL
Clue for 64A could be -
Answer to 64A could be NOT A BOAT

NATE 5:42 PM  


Please explain what you mean by

footnotes in crossword puzzles

using possible Clues and Answers

for 1A and 64A.


Hard to believe that something

like that was in JOC. Thank good-

ness I never had to read an

article like that

PuzzleNut 5:59 PM  

I would normally agree with Rex and the other naysayers, but this puzzle seemed much better than the recent Sunday fare. I solve on paper and saw the cube before I even started the puzzle (I have an autistic son that is into origami and three dimensional constructions). Although I "knew" what the instructions should be, the actual answers were off from my solution by just enough to not help at all. Was really thrown by the CIRCLES as I was solving, as they were not part of the "cube" I was constructing. Finally finished up and noticed the O's in the corners of several of the "sides" of the cubes, but still didn't understand why they were there. Reluctantly, I started shading them in, and "voila", there were the faces of the die.
Color me very impressed with the construction and satisfied with the fill.
I always assumed folks read Rex's comments before posting (and probably the other posters as well), but I've got to conclude that a lot don't. The only way to understand some of the questions/comments.

mac 6:09 PM  

@Noah Webster: have to admit, I guess I am gullible..... Of course I thought of the plug and electrical cord, but accepted the little guy's comment as true. Now I checked and can't find anything, except for a PLUG LOG!!

skua76 7:28 PM  

After reading things here, it was a good puzzle, but not when I was trying to solve it. I print these out from A-L at 5 AM while half-awake to take to work and do at lunch, finishing at home if necessary. (No access to crosswords or blogs on the company server). I've learned to look for the "see notepad" remark in the header, but that wasn't here, just that little yellow square @mmorgan mentioned. And I didn't notice any reference to the PDF when I printed the puzzle.

retired_chemist 7:58 PM  

@ Nate -

It really happened. Joe Bunnett (author) and Fred Greene (Editor) are friends of mine. The point was made, in C&EN, that it was intelligible to the referees and was proper science, so why should the Editor fault it?

I didn't give the link to force arcane (and archival) science down the throats of the participants in this blog, but to reinforce the whimsicality implied by r.alphbunker.

r.alphbunker 8:55 PM  


First of all, this was not a serious suggestion for a theme. It was playing with the common technique of referencing one clue from another. This is usually done because the answer spans two sections of the grid. For example, in Wednesday's Woody Allen puzzle 9A was "With 64A, Woody Allen movie of 2005" and 64A was "See 9A"

My suggestion was that clues of the form "See X" would refer to a footnote which was a clarification of the answer. Like clarifying that the VESSEL was NOT A SHIP (but rather a test tube).

Other constructors have played with clue linking. One that comes to mind is BEQ's infamous puzzle 5 of the 2010 ACPT. In that puzzle clues containing "with X" were completed using word "with" and whatever was at X. For example,
19A was "Go, with 76 Across" and 76A was "See 19A". 19A turned out to be CONFORM and 76A was THE FLOW. So 19A actually was "Go with the flow" which is to CONFORM.

A variation on the footnote theme would be to anticipate RP's objections to answers. For example 1A might be "A year in Spain, see 64A". The answer to 1A would be ANO and 64A would be DONT DO THIS.

NATE 9:33 PM  


Now I get you. I couldn't understand how you could fit"Not a ship" into 64A. I now realize you were talking about a theoretical puzzle.

Van55 9:40 PM  

I don't much care for gimmick puzzles. When the gimmick isn't even apparent from the AL printout, it is totally annoying. Slog city for me. Finished with no sense of pleasure or accomplishment.

Betsy 9:48 PM  

Starting with the paper puzzle made this a lot easier. It was cute and the clues required some brainpower.

One can always glaze this as a gift and give instead of the cubes in the nytimes store.

Anonymous 10:59 PM  

I know it's late and few any anyone will read this, but I've finished the puzzle and made the die. Can anyone tell me how to get rid of all those black squares?

mmorgan 11:15 PM  

@anon 10:59: Wite-out.

TimJim 2:51 AM  

Easy- no writeovers, unusual for a sunday. Don't usually like the artsy crafty thing, but this was cool, and you didn't have to cut and tape to figure it out.

joan 6:30 AM  

Did anyone notice that the upper left corner and the lower right corner of every square was an 'o'. This was helpful when I saw that pattern. I agree with Rex. The long answers were a bore. Otherwise totally impressive that it was done by a 15 year old.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

To Rex et al, The die was cast, it was our cross to bear.

Stephen 7:08 PM  

Totally awestruck by Rex's emotion on this.
1. instructions = death?
These were fun, and clever. And intuitable.

2. "Circles"? SHADE THE CIRCLES?? There are no "circles." There are "O"s. "O"s are letters.
Come now. If you can't stand this kind of kinking of the language, you should not be doing crossword puzzles.

3. So put off was I by this "do some crap to your puzzle after you've finished it"...
Gasp! It's a word puzzle! You don't actually have to cut and paste to understand the craftiness of the crossword. Where ARE you?

Stephen 7:16 PM  

You too, retired_chemist: It WAS a word puzzle, not "a virtuoso construction gimmick".
It was "faux origami" indeed; you only needed to do the folding in your head to appreciate the virtuoso construction skill in this puzzle.

Stephen 8:14 PM  

I solve from paper. It's too bad the electronic versions did not support the necessary imagery. (Tut, tut!) From the title and the bold lines, I was off to a roaring start even before reading a clue. The instruction that took some time and a lot of crosses was SHADE THE CIRCLES, but when it arrived, I was hugely delighted. I quickly filled in the rest of the 21 O's in the pertinent area of the puzzle, which added to the eclat... and to the solving experience. Thank you Mr. Pall.
Thank you, also for making a proper right-handed die. This gave a warm fuzzy feeling. However, I would have been too hasty to complain about a left-handed design. A quick googling reveals that dice standards are not universal; China uses left-handed dice.

I stalled out completely in the southeast. The entrance there is guarded by 81 down: "device for winter sidewalks", which was clearly SHOVEL. And OOLONG was so long in coming that it could not break me out of my shovel addiction.

I loved "nile biters". Even read it wrong the first 3 times.

CORD: glad to see others missed this too. I eventually rationalized it as a bathtub plug dangling on those long cords (chains) of old. Amazing I missed the electrical cord. Liked Little Tony's offering, though. He clearly worked hard on that.

Poor old Edsel. Too bad Ford couldn't get royalties each time that FLOP image has been used.

EURASIA never came. I even googled it, and OCEANIA shouldda been a lock.

94 Down: [That's awful]: Why the square brackets? What should I think next time I see square brackets in a clue?

Dirigonzo 6:26 PM  

It's a rainy, windy, miserable day, but as we say in my part of syndication-land, "At least it's not snow!" The three-plus hours I spent solving this passed pleasurably enough, although I discovered upon coming here that I finished with an error as I had the "Star Trek" extras as EtS which of course produced the non-existent AVOt in Connecticut. I saw the bold lines and dashes easily enough, but the "circles" completely baffled me until I discovered them here. I won't do the cutting, folding, shading and taping but I still think it's a really clever construction.

Oh, and @BobK and @Pauer's comments were priceless!

Jim 11:57 PM  

Not sure if anyone else mentioned this, but it ran without "bold lines" in the OC Register (one week late).

helene 11:22 PM  

The Sunday News journal neglected to print the clue to 44 across!!!!

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

My husband and I had no trouble finishing the whole crossword...but got completely stumped at the construction; we couldn't get further than cutting at the dashes. Even when we looked at the solution in the Times the next week, we STILL couldnt figure it out. So we're VERY glad to read the solution here. Thanks!!

Daniel Kirkdorffer 9:36 PM  

You sure are a grumpy puzzler. I thought this was a fun puzzle to solve. Perhaps your problem is you don't seem to get the themes for the Sunday puzzle very fast. It is almost the first thing I figure out which makes it more fun.

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