Many a Justin Bieber fan / WED 12-22-10 / Kirk's foe in a "Star Trek" sequel / General played by Fonda (in 1976), Peck (1977) and Olivier (1981)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Constructor: Michael Sharp (a k a Rex Parker)

Relative difficulty: Medium-Difficult

Theme: Going All In — Six answers are phrases which usually include "All In" at the beginning with "All In" omitted. Theme revealer at 63-Across.


Word of the Day: VALOR (3D: Bravery)

valor (uncountable)
  1. Value; worth.
  2. Strength of mind in regard to danger; that quality which enables a person to encounter danger with firmness; personal bravery; courage; prowess; intrepidity.
(wiktionary.org)
• • •

What’s up, CrossWorld. Caleb Madison and Natan Last here, Sock 'Em Boppers a-ready, throwing down in Round 3 of our CrossFeud. We're guest-blogging today for Rex Parker, who, Renaissance Man that he is, has put on his constructing hat today.… And try as we might, we just can't find out who this Bennet CERF (33-A, Bennett of "What's My Line?") or Toots SHOR (54-D, Restauranteur Toots) is, with the Google Machine, or the Lady Gaga. Once we saw Justin Bieber and Biggie SMALLS in the puzzle, however, we knew we’d get … at least two answers.

We've decided to bury the hatchet, for Rex's sake. Fight indefinitely postponed. Bookies, calculate your odds. Michael Vick, place your bets. Screaming ladies, hold onto your underthings. For the course of this blog post, Caleb and Natan have merged into... Catan. Catan: like Brangelina, but cuter, and with fewer Cambodian children. It also saves us from having to use the personal pronoun "we" all the time.

On to the puzzle. As we solved this, in the same room, yelling obscenities at each other when we couldn’t get something ("*$^@!# TOOTS SHOR?!" "WAIT A SEC IS THIS A &$#!@*ING REBUS?!?"), we also commented on the solidness of the theme. It’s very clever, of course, and not only are the six phrases Rex has chosen all lively, but the omitted answer is also a tight phrase:

Theme answers:
  • 1A: Cry at the start of a vote [ALL IN] FAVOR
  • 20A: "Soon enough, my friend" [ALL IN] GOOD TIME
  • 36A: As a package [ALL IN] ONE
  • 52A: Completely imagined [ALL IN] YOUR HEAD
  • 11D: Top-rated TV series of 1971-76 [ALL IN] THE FAMILY
  • 32D: To be expected [ALL IN] A DAY'S WORK
Don’t get too excited, Michael/Rex, but these are all pretty colloquial and altogether awesome answers. We especially liked the clue for [ALL IN] GOOD TIME (“Soon enough, my friend”); the two phrases are perfect substitutes for one another, and equally colloquial. Now onto the fill, which was stellar in some places, awkward in others, but which overall contained a good mix of the highbrow and the low, the savory and the un.


Interestingly, as I (Catan) write this, I'm in a house on Duane Street, a block away from Reade street, home to the original Duane READE store (14-A: Duane ___ (New York City pharmacy chain)). Coincidentally, I'm also playing PACMAN (6-D: Iconic chomper) (great clue, that), listening to OTIS (10-A: Soulful Redding), acting FERAL (48-D: Untamed), and swaying to and FRO (48-A: One way to sway). What can I say. We're just two TWEENs chilling out to some Bieber (51-A: Many a Justin Bieber fan).


The extra dose of Star Trek clues were all gimmes for Caleb, but Natan, who's more of a Star Wars kid, had trouble with 'em. Both of us were happy to see Eero Saarinen, with all his crazy vowels, not as an answer but as a clue (28-A: Eero Saarinen, for one). Similarly, cool to see PRO RATA (42-D: How some wages are calculated) in full as well.


An interesting facet of this puzzle, and the submission process in general, is the stuff that Will lets FLY (28-D: Pass muster), and the stuff that gets nixed. We have it on good information that 34-Across was, in a past life, I AM, which made (27-D: Block) DE MER (clued as "Mal ___, sea sickness") instead of DETER. Hard to say which is the lesser of the evils, but DE MER has, at least, appeared in crosswords before, though never in the Times; I AT (34-A: "Am ___ risk?"), for its meager part, has appeared nonce. Constructors ourselves (down, Screaming Ladies, down!), we woulda gone with IAJ (clued as "Am ___ Burnett?: Existential crisis from a Yankees pitcher") and DE JER (Mal ___ [sickness gotten from watching too much "Seinfeld").


So appropriate.

Bullets:
  • Go from site to site? (SURF) — Nice misdirective clue.
  • Biggie _____ (rapper a k a Notorious B.I.G.) (SMALLS) — An example of something that could have gotten a lame plural clue (T-shirt sizes) but instead becomes lively and current. And awesome.

Teenagers that we are, our minds did not immediately go to the land of verbs when we saw Madden in the clue for 12-Down; needless to say, the actual answer was much less exciting: INFURIATE.

Also, our constructor seems to be a bit of projecting at 37-Across (Old Man: Ger.). Oh, Michael Sharpenschnitzel, you’ll always be young at heart.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter] or [Caleb Madison]

126 comments:

Anonymous 12:07 AM  

OK, Rex, TE AMO, not TI AMO.

Somewhat challenging but completed it with no cheats (which probably means it’s easy). I liked the theme because you had to put them ALL IN to complete. The theme helped a lot, and got me started in the NW.

First answer was CERF (because I watched that show every Sunday night) and from there worked the right from top to bottom, then the SW, the NW and finally finished when MACARTHUR dawned (don’t remember the others but I recall that was the Peck flick). Had sparkle before TWINKLE. You managed one insider NYC answer, I see, but finally remembered Duane-READE since I once lived there. Toots SHOR might be also but I recall hearing of it before going to NY.

Didn’t they call Adenauer Der ALTE?

Me español es aqui, no ACA?

I’ll leave it to the pros to dissect but many of the 3 letter words seemed fresh to me. Good job but I could have done without the LEFT (19A) and with a little more fun.

Now I gotta go read how you rated yourself, which might be the fun part....

Congrats!

Juan de Cheecago

Eliel 12:13 AM  

So, who's the SOB who clued 28A as Jean Sibelius in my AL vesion?

Tobias Duncan 12:22 AM  

Fun write up guys, you are the perfect match for a puzzle with such a youthful feel.
For most of us the FINN is my beloved Sibelius rather than the architect, so we know you guys got the advanced copy!
I would complain about the New York centric clues but the fact that we get two, count em two, Star Trek clues and no sports clues* plus tons of cool fill puts me in such a good mood I cant muster the snark.

* I guess ASHE is technically a sports answer but that guy has a much bigger place in history it seems to me.

Rex I know you are a sports guy and you would have put sports stuff in if you felt it was good for the puzzle,but I want you to know that the lack of obscure baseball players added a big level of enjoyment for me.

syndy 12:28 AM  

With my LAYDOWN hand I went ALLIN but the pot continued so the payoff was PRO RATA!So I deciced not to quibble about the spelling of ooh la la .OOH I see I have spongy and edgy so My happy pencil was awarded in error!(or not maybe he agreed?)

Clark 12:56 AM  

I like a Wednesday that puts up some resistance as this one did. Good job. Just yesterday semi-puzzle partner and I were given a private tour of a Sibelius building, and, having grown up with Finns, I am familiar with and fond of that old Saarinen standard, Finlandia.

tedise : says you

mariaseig 1:24 AM  

I just completed puzzle without error (or so I thought) but was wrong somewhere. So then I checked, checked, checked & checked my answers against the blog. I spelled everything OUT LOUD over & over (and backwards) while looking @ them both. Letter by letter. They seem identical to me. Still my NYTimes iPhone app gives me an "incorrect..." message when I submit. I know I could certainly have missed something, but before I check for the umpteenth time, is the app ever wrong? Here's hoping! If not, I'll let you know what square my sleep-deprived brain botched when I finally figure it out. 'Til then, Happy Wednesday! I'm off to bed!

Great one, Rex! The amnio/baby guesses were priceless, but the puzzle was nearly as wonderful as a mini-Rex on the way!

Anonymous 1:35 AM  

To mariaseig-Could it be you have edge instead of edgy (62a). I'm having trouble seeing "tense" as "edge" and not "edgy"

chefwen 1:41 AM  

Sure did like this puzzle a lot more than yesterdays offering, sorry Alan.

Sticking point was at 8D I had fIb and was really scratching my head trying to think of a California tree with four letters with an f in it. ASIA and CHER fell and LIE came into place. Not too crazy about the clue for 6A, we have a few of those here also and I think Tinbenni sits under one every night when he raises his glass.

All in all, I enjoyed this puzzle and look forward to many more from our leader.

@Rube - Talk about a day late and a buck three eighty short! What a beautiful, clear, moon lit night. Dang!

fikink 2:04 AM  

Shouldn't you boys be in bed?

And since when does Her Grey Eminence accept SNAFU sullying her pages? (@Catan, you would know this as FUBAR.)

IMO, the theme answers are so in the language as to render this a Monday or Tuesday puzzle and VALOR as your choice for WOTD scares me a bit.

But a GOOD TIME was had by ALL. And in this season to be Jolie, what more could one ask?
Solid, Michael.

andrea cady michaels 2:58 AM  

Love that the rebus is sort of floating out in space somewhere!

good guest-blogging, Catan...
tho where's my photo credit for taking that adorable picture of you at the moment of your meeting, with an ACTUAL camera, with ACTUAL film, which neither of you had probably ever seen before?
;)

LARAMIE would have been a ???! for me, without that play about the young gay boy who was killed there.
Under ABELARD (which I needed every crossing for) was classy.

(ALLIN) YOURminD slowed me a bit, as well as KahN...

Liked CERF/NERF crossing with CERF/SURF sort of echoing each other...

Kudos for Michael for not killing himself over IAM being changed to IAT. I would have!

And on that suicidal note, I'll say goodnight.

jae 3:07 AM  

OK, I'm violating an entente with my bride by commenting on a Wed. but you all know why. Pretty nice puzzle Rex, which had more of a Thurs. feel to it (e.g. ABELARD, FROGS, CADY) for me. Nice to get TEAMO right this time. A smattering of crosswordese but we all know you really can't avoid it entirely. Changed EDGE to EDGY at the end to have 62a make sense. I solve on paper so Mr. Happy Pencil doesn't enter into the equation. Now I'm not sure if I made the right decision.

@Juan -- yes, on Der ALTE.

Steve J 3:57 AM  

Slowest Wednesday I've had in a long while. Not sure how much of it was a good, tough puzzle (certainly more than a little) and how much of it is just that my head doesn't seem to be working in puzzle mode well this week. Regardless, this is the sort of thing I like about midweek puzzles: some good misdirection and cleverness, without being obtuse (mostly).

The theme worked really well. At one point (I don't remember exactly where or why) I thought that ALLIN might go at the end of some of the phrases, and the thought crossed my mind that the downs may have it at the end and the acrosses at the beginning. That would have been very cool, but I'm struggling to think of any common phrases that end with ALLIN.

Struggled with the some of the proper names: for some reason I wanted LAHR instead of SHOR for Toots, and the only CERF that comes to mind to me is Vint (known to most any techie).

A few nits: Found the clue for LARAMIE to be needlessly obscure (that's Friday/Saturday cluing, imo). Clue for 48A seemed a bit odd. And I didn't like two Star Trek clues. Then again, I can't stand Star Trek.

Also, isn't it typically OOH LA LA?

What should have been a nit, but turned into something else: For the first time in ever, I was impressed with a random letter string, if only because the clue set up the typical random alphabetical string (which I reflexively filled in at first).

And definitely some great stuff: REDTAIL, PACMAN, MARSBAR. And I loved loved loved the clue for 54A.

Very enjoyable Wednesday. Nice one, Rex.

Rube 4:56 AM  

Had Fit for "Pass muster", and don't really know any rappers so Biggie SMALLS didn't register, (although I suppose it should have). Of Course CADt doesn't float as a middle name, so, should have checked more carefully before coming here.

Otherwise, a fairly straightforward Wednesday level puzzle. DNG and despite the FLY/Fit screw-up it went well. Got the theme fairly early and it helped on some of the theme answers.

Knowing @RPs dislike of theme puzzles though, was somewhat surprised at this.

@chefwen, a disappointing sunset, but the weather is looking promising. Kids arrive tomorrow, so puzzling may be limited.

r.alphbunker 5:22 AM  

SCALA ruined the puzzle for me.

Rex Parker 5:44 AM  

@Rube, I have no idea how I could possibly dislike "theme puzzles." Those are 5/7 of all puzzles I do...

This puzzle originally had a Much more annoying cluing concept for the theme answers: All of the theme answers clues were cross-referenced to the ALL IN clue, which read [Poker phrase ... or, with 1-Across, Call for a vote; with 20-Across etc.]. I was trying to start a streak of Worst 1As Ever (my last one being GALOPS). But Will had to go and do his job effectively! Bah!

Less said about the -IAT issue, the better. Liked my version better, but it's hard to work up too much defensive indignation about a Frenchy partial. (Catan, your IAJ suggestion = genius)

Clue on 20A is Will's. In general he changed far fewer of my clues than he did last time, which was nice.

I intend to put OOLALA in everything I write now, including shopping lists and thank-you notes.

Thanks for kind and critical words alike.

RP

Rex Parker 5:48 AM  

Oh, and @ralph, that's a little odd, since this is the 18th time the NYT has clued SCALA via the opera house. Only other clue for it is [Actress Gia], exc. that one time 16 year ago when it was clued [Luigi's ladder].

Pretty std. stuff.

rp

Anonymous 6:07 AM  

Hmm. How would Rex treat all of the lame crosswordese in someone else's submission?
But a Times puzzle is a Times puzzle, no doubt.
Thank heavens for the kids' write-up; it was better than the puzzle. But VALOR as WOTD? Time to do some vocab-building?

Crosscan 7:20 AM  

As I've noted elsewhere, one bad entry don't spoil the whole grid. A cool theme is a cool theme. ALL IN FAVOR?

I like it. Congrats.

PhillySolver 7:32 AM  

Congratulations on another published puzzle. I hope it counts for your academic credentials. Even if does not, I think you should list it on your annual review as a publication. I can guarantee it will have had more readers than any so-called publications I or my professor colleagues had when we were working on tenure.

ArtLvr 8:00 AM  

@mariaseig --if it wasn't EDGY, and you still can't find your error, look at the very last letter at ALL IN and ODEON. I found I'd mistyped an M at first!

Congrats to Rex/Michael, the puzzle was a lot of fun and well done! I never heard of SMALLS except as little antiques, but now I've learned something. And I especially like the inclusion of both CERF and SURF. Sounds like an ALL IN ONE seafood platter!

∑;)

Evgeny 8:06 AM  

Liked this very much, congratulations on the publication, Mr. Parker!

The clue on "ALTE" does, however, madden (INFURIATE) me. I'll wait for Ulrich to say something, though - maybe this kind of thing is acceptable and I just don't know.

Pentad sounds weird to me, as does everything above triad (I guess, quadriga is ok in equestrian or sculptural terms). Why not take Latin instead of Greek and go with quintet?

A saturdayish way to clue SCALA would be 'Nevio ______, soccer coach'.

Ben 8:13 AM  

I liked it. Congrats, RP.

Theme is quite timely for me, as I both passed on an invite to play in one of Chicago's more notorious poker games last night, and also made plans to get a Jews on Christmas Eve card game going this Friday afternoon.

As soon as I saw GOODTIME I made a mental note to look out for THEFAMILY.

Great writeup, boys.

efrex 8:16 AM  

Always a question for the ancients: how good does a theme have to be to balance out the annoying fill, or how annoying does the fill have to be to detract from the good theme?

This puzzle was a "could go either way" - liked the theme A LOT, especially since figuring it out early opened up much of the grid. Needed every cross for ABELARD, and, like Andrea, only know from LARAMIE thanks to Matthew Shepard. Could not see MACARTHUR, so the ACA/SHOR crosses remained unfilled. ODED just looks weird in the grid ("Oded" is actually a Hebrew name; somebody with it has gotta get famous someday). SURF/CERF/NERF is quite cute. Know "The FROGS" thanks to Sondheim's musical version, but Sam RAIMI is a complete unknown.

According to xwordinfo, SNAFU has been used 22 times in the Shortz era, but never FUBAR.

Final verdict: fair, tough, and interesting. A solid sophomore effort, sir!

glimmerglass 8:20 AM  

My puzzle had Sibelius, too. Unless you're a pilot, FLY and "Pass muster," while roughly synonymous, are a horribly mixed metaphor. Couldn't Google Bennett Cerf? In what universe? Host of WML, but also a famous publisher. Must be gremlins about. Tough but doable puzzle. Cute write up.

Ben 8:39 AM  

p.s. LARAMIE is also, of course, a cigarette brand (à la Duff beer) in "The Simpsons." Their version of Marlboro.

joho 8:44 AM  

To me the theme here is the antithesis of yesterday's as ALLINall it works! @Rex/Michael, well done! I especially liked how the clues and answers are so in the language.

Catan, fantastic write-up, IAJ is hilarious.

Toots 8:47 AM  

They got the puzzle ahead of time? WTF? Is this the Wordplay blog?

Enjoyed the puzzle. Would have enjoyed it more as a GG Allin theme.

pauer 8:49 AM  

Congrats to Rex and the Lords of Catan for a most enjoyable morning of solving and laughing.

Ross 8:51 AM  

I had EDGe for EDGY forever and couldn't find it either. It doubled my solve time to find the one typo. Argh!

Very enjoyable puzzle otherwise. I, too, liked the NERF CERF SURF thing. Congrats Rex.

Howard B 8:58 AM  

Congrats on the puzzle.
Really liked the theme. Some of the fill honestly stung a bit, but I have to say my favorite was the cross-ref of SPONGY/NERF. I actually got a case of the giggles (yes, a whole 24-pack again) on filling in the final Y there. Proof that cross-referenced clues can be fun.

For some reason, I also liked the juxtaposition of some words. There's an abstract weirdness to it: LAY DOWN ARSENIO, SURF PLO, TWEEN YOUR HEAD, etc.; also the cameo appearance of Biggie Smalls.

Had one typo at the end (in FRO), but that was just my sloppiness in typing and nothing to do with the puzzle. For speed solving, that glitch cost me about 20 or 30 seconds to find, hidden in that corner nook ;).

Kurt 9:01 AM  

Well done Rex. It was a pleasure to solve.

PlantieBea 9:03 AM  

Congrats Rex and count me among those in FAVOR of the puzzle, its theme, and the Catan write-up.

Writeovers on PORT for ALEE, DATE for PALM, and LITHER for SPRYER. Didn't know Duane READE or The FROGS, but not hard to guess at the R. Got KHAN off of its K and remembering the puzzle titled "The Wrath of KHAN".. or was that KLAN?! Good thing HUD was sitting in the crossroad.

Congrats Rex on the publication of this snappy yet smooth and solid Wednesday offering!

David L 9:08 AM  

Nice mix of old and new (Bennett CERF and Biggie SMALLS don't hang out together much, I'm guessing), highbrow and low (ditto ABELARD and ARSENIO). For me this was way easier than an average Wednesday -- only a smidgen longer than my usual Mon/Tues time.

I suppose Eero Saarinen was swapped for Sibelius on account of the former being Finno-American (moved here at age 13, sez wiki).

I await Ulrich's verdict on 37A. If I remember correctly, Der Alte was Einstein's phrase for the big man in the sky, as well as a nickname for Adenauer. I don't know if it's a general word for an old fart or geezer.

retired_chemist 9:08 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle, found it medium-challenging. My pan of Tuesday ended with "Wednesday will be better." It was. By a lot. Nice fresh fill, no Naticks, a fun theme, and whatever was obscure had fair crosses.

Duane READE was my biggest WTF, but even that was balanced by LARAMIE, as clued a possible WTF for Easterners. However IMO Wyoming has only 3 cities of note: CASPER, CHEYENNE, and LARAMIE,These have 6, 7, and 8 letters respectively, how can one go wrong?

Biggie SMALLS and Sam RAIMI were unknown to me, but, like for READE, the crosses were fair, so OK.

Don't see a problem with FLY clued as "Pass muster." Both mean be satisfactory. I like "It'll never pass muster, Orville." Oughta be a cliché.

Thanks, Mr. Sharp. Well done.

Tinbeni 9:19 AM  

Finally got the time for the NYT before the evening and what a nice surprise.

Fearless Leader, REX, is the constructor.

GREAT, FUN, Wednesday puzzle.

Really enjoyed the ALL-IN themes.

Living in Tampa Bay, I'm not familiar with the READE pharmacy chain but the crosses took care of that.
My only 'total unknown.'

Then again, on the PLUS side, my Sunset Toast to
one-and-all will be in 60+ degree perfect weather.

Cheers !!!

sillygoose 9:37 AM  

Ok, I'm finally getting the FLY - pass muster connection, which at the time was a bit of a ??

I was really enjoying the puzzle, especially the theme, even before I noticed it was a Rex submission.

Nice puzzle, fun solve. :-)

Oh, and funny write up, I am looking forward to the next Catan appearance.

Anne 9:47 AM  

Good job Rex. Congrats. A very good Wednesday.

JC66 10:01 AM  

Good one, Michael.

jyp0625 10:02 AM  

Oops. I forgot the Mr. Sharp/Mr. Rex connection until I finished solving the puzzle.

Very clever theme Mr. Rex. But there were some obscure names that made the puzzle difficult to complete without some help.

For me this was a typical Wednesday puzzle in terms of difficulty and a better than average puzzle in terms of enjoyment.

Joe 10:04 AM  

I was halfway through this before I said, "This is a fun puzzle. I wonder who did it." Then, of course, I saw Rex's other name. I thought it was great (IAT notwithstanding). I laughed out loud at OOLALA (and fondly remember the discussion about it here after Rex's first NYT) and TEAMO. So many inside jokes for your flock, Rex. You made this puzzle for us, didn't you? Great write-up from the Boys Wonder. Happy day, all.

M'Lady's Laundress 10:15 AM  

Noun

smalls (plural only)

1. (UK, Australian, informal) Underwear.

He's in the garden hanging his smalls on the washing line.
The smalls he was wearing were tight.
* * * *
BTW - heard on the radio this AM that there are more Duane READE stores in New York City than there are McDonald'seses!

Christy 10:29 AM  

This was the best puzzle so far this week, if you ask me. Besides trying REDwing and REDwall before REDTAIL, it was slow but smooth sailing. I'd like to see 30A clued as "You're killing me, ___" a la The Sandlot one day. Never been done, per xwordinfo. Great job, Rex!

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

Rex, are you going to tell us the original clues for any Will changed and if there are any changes other than already mentioned?

Juan

Beadola 10:31 AM  

Rex has taught me to frown at ugly fill and too much crosswordese. I was enjoying the lack of these as I was solving. I usually don't check the constructor until I get to the blog, so I was delighted with the surprise that our fearless leader was the constructor. Thank you for a lovely puzzle.

r.alphbunker 10:33 AM  

@rp re SCALA

More precisely, it was the clue for SCALA that ruined the puzzle for me. My least favorite types of clues are:
1. opera related
2. foreign words
3. partials (especially those involving "the" or its ilk)
Unfortunately the clue fell into all three of these categories and cast a pall over the whole puzzle.

I would have vastly preferred the clue "English actress with Italian name, Gia ____"

Melinda Uerling, President 10:36 AM  

This one went really quickly for me, with some exceptions (could not see MACARTHUR and didn't know SHOR). Best Wednesday for me in a long time and a lot of the clues were in my sweet spot -- not surprising after hearing that Rex constructed it -- I think we're about the same age.

Doug Magee 10:40 AM  

Caleb, my son Jackson Magee is a Bardian as well. His grandmother's favorite on What's My Line was Bennett Cerf, a writer and co-founder of Random House

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Egads -- I had no idea my name would come up like that "...President" when I posted. Apologies for the unintended pretension. [slinking back into anonymous lurker mode now]

Look Up Guy 10:44 AM  

Manhattan:

McDonald's --- approx 47
Starbuck's --- approx 225
Duane Reade --- approx 250

In Feb 2010, D-R was purchased by Walgreen's who retained the D-R name.

Joanna 10:49 AM  

Oh Catan. You are so much fun to settle.

Two Ponies 11:02 AM  

What a pleasant surprise to see the name of the constructor today.
It was difficult enough to savor. The theme was very fun and helped the solve.
Cerf, cerf, and nerf were cool.
No idea about the drug store but got it anyway. I even liked AEIOU.
You should be proud Michael.
Catan, you guys are a riot. I was wondering who the guest host would be and I hope you do it again sometime.

Matthew G. 11:03 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle, but am completely stunned at the Medium-Challenging rating. This was my fastest Wednesday ever -- and I don't think the margin is all that close -- primarily because of the combination of a very easy theme with great theme density. When I saw asterisks starting clues, the first thing I did was look for a reveal in the lower-right corner. There it was, and there's only one five-letter poker phrase I can think of (it helps that I've seen it in other puzzles recently). In little over a minute, I had all of the theme entries in, and then I was off to the races with the rest. The only things that slowed me down at _all_ were ABELARD and CERF, whom I've never heard of but got from the crosses relatively quickly, and ASHE, because I kept thinking of stadiums related to the four major team sports.

So I finished with a time that, while surely unimpressive to competitive solvers, was absolute bullet-train speed for me on a Wednesday. I can see how it might take much longer if one didn't take the theme-first approach as I did, however.

But I liked it. I enjoy "word-deletion" themes quite a bit, because they often create entertainingly nonsensical entries in the grid that are fun to look at. This one was different, because the theme entries could all have been clued in non-theme ways if the constructor had wanted to do so, making the unification of them into a theme even nicer.

Good work, Rex. And thanks for boosting my confidence with a puzzle I obviously found easier than most.

Ulrich 11:16 AM  

@Evgeny, DavidL: The clue for ALTE is not wrong, technically, b/c I can form a sentence in which Alte means "old man". But it is very, very inelegant b/c Alte is the correct form in German only if it is preceded by the direct article der--without it, it has to be Alter. Since the clue has no direct article, I'm very unhappy with it, to put it mildly...

Which gets me back to what I have said many, many times: If you are dealing with a highly inflected language, you cannot assume that leaving a word out leaves everything else the same in a phrase. If you don't know the rules, the only safe way is to stick to partials.

BTW An old woman is an Alte with any article or without one.

Needless to say, I hated, hated the puzzle!!!!

Which means, of course, that I hated, hated the puzzle!!!

Two Ponies 11:25 AM  

Of course I meant Cerf, surf, & nerf.
Ulrich, you are pretty funny today too.

Mel Ott 11:53 AM  

Very nice puzzle, @Rex.

Being an ALTE, CERF & SHOR were gimmes, as was Duane-READE since I worked in NYC for some years. (The latter chain seems to have a store on almost every corner in Manhattan.)

I wanted PALo for the Calif. tree, as in Palo Alto = Tall Tree. And I confidently threw down Aquinas for the theologian, off the initial A.

I've never studied Spanish or Italian. I assume TE AMO is Spanish and TI AMO Italian. Is that right?

chaos1 11:53 AM  

Snappy little puzzle by the " T-Rex ! " . I thought it was a tad on the easy side for Wednesday ? Pretty sure SanFranMan's stats will confirm that. I'm assuming the difficulty rating was proposed by CATAN ? Really surprised that those two child prodigies had any trouble with this puzzle. Yeah, I know, CERF and SHOR, but still ? I've seen tougher age-related stuff in their puzzles, on both sides of the coin. Nice write-up guys !

That being said, I picked up the theme immediately, and liked it a lot. I'm a big fan of poker shows on T.V. The fill was pretty solid, but I expect Rex paid special attention to that detail. After all, he consistently rips others for fill he deems less than stellar. I'm sure he didn't want to be hoisted on his own petard. Liked the CERF, SURF and NERF thing, and now understand Rex's comment on the Sunday blog. Yes, TEAMO !

All in all, a very commendable effort. I'm sure some of us were salivating at the thought of giving Mr. Sharp a taste of his own medicine, but he made it rather difficult.

Comments:

chefwen @ 1:41 AM: LMAO. A buck three eighty ? Haven't heard that expression in years !

fikink 11:54 AM  

@M'Lady's Laundress:

Indeed, from Oh! Coward's "Family Album"

Poor Mrs. Mason
was washing some SMALLS in her lavatory basin
When that old corroded,
gas heater exploded
And blew her smack into the news.

Doug P 11:58 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle & the write-up today. Good work, guys!

Catan's suggestion of IAJ is brilliant. In the first puzzle I ever made (which remains unpublished for some reason), I used ITUPAC and intended to clue it as "Shakur's autobiography."

Christian Gustaf & Maria Charlotta 12:08 PM  

So who's the SOB who clued 28A as Saarinen in Catan's puzzle?

Bah, Humbug! 12:11 PM  

I have now tried twice, under different names, to post a link to an item on the Google home page, under the heading How to of the day, regarding How to Become a Cruciverbalist. I thought some members of the Rexville crew might find parts of it humorous. But apparently all links are forbidden, I assume by Blogger. It may or may not be worth the trouble of finding for yourself. Happy Humbug.

The late Schramm 12:12 PM  

Up here in the Aftermath we have a much better clue for 4D:ODED :-)

jesser 12:15 PM  

I've been whelmed and adsent, but I saw the byline on the puzzle and HAD to stop back in for moment to congrtulate M-Rex on a terrific puzzle. Loved it!

Now back to Whelm World. I'll be back when the frantic (not in a bad way, mind you) log roll that is currently my life slows a bit.

-- jesser

Bah, Humbug! 12:17 PM  

Wouldn't you know it!?! In the time it took me to type my previous post, the Cruciverbalist item disappeared from the Google home page. But if you click on the words "How to of the day" you jump to a page where you can retrieve it. Sorry again.

Van55 12:19 PM  

It's obvious that the c in "catan" is soft with the result that it is pronounced "Satan."

Really enjoyed the theme.

Way too many obscurish proper nouns: CERF, ABELARD, RIAMI e.g.

IAT is a bad partial, IMO. The alphabetic quintet is weak as is ODED, making a mess out of Washington state.

Didn't care foe OHNO, and OOLALA or their clues.

Also thought AQUI and not ACA is "here" in Spanish.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

a very satisfying puzzle. very enjoyable to solve. i was really in the zone knowing the old and new references, really on rex's brain wave. i didn't note the creator until i saw the blog and took a double take. great surprise. i hope to see more from our leader. thanks rex.

DB Geezer 12:31 PM  

In regard to yesterday's theme about moving the L, is it possible that the constructor had the holiday season in mind? That is : No L

Arthur 12:33 PM  

@Van55 - I, too, didn't know Bennett CERF. Turns out he founded Random House, nurtured the greatest American writers of the century, was the plaintiff in suing the government to have Ulysses published in the US, had 13 of his own books published, and appeared weekly on a major network TV show for 16 years.
What more do you want from a guy?

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

Great write-up, Catan and a fun puzzle MichaelRex. For a bit more audio stimulus to go with this puzzle, might I suggest this clip that popped up on Regretsy the other day? It's Morgan Fairchild "singing" Believe: http://www.aprilwinchell.com/h/mp3/MorganFairchild_Believe.mp3

diane 12:36 PM  

Also had SPONGe/EDGe - came here to cheat, after checking it twice (what am I Santa?) clue by clue and missing the clear error that "tense" is not a valid clue for "EDGe".

I got the theme and related answers after a few crosses, and most of the rest (with a couple Googled) in just below average Wed. time. Fun.

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

The last time Rex was published, Wordplay did an interview with him. Today the poor Wordplay readers have to settle for an interview with Will Shortz! LOL!!!!!

Masked and Anonymous and Happy Holidays 1:00 PM  

Really liked this theme idea. Figured it out, before I started solving the other fill, which made the puz solve a tad on the friendlier side of medium, for me.

Six U's. Sweet. FaveFill included TWINKLE, LAYDOWN, PACMAN, MARSBAR, SURF/CERF.. Corner of Mystery: SMALLS, CADY, ACA. Primo clue: "Pass muster". Engine light: IAT. Big relief: no hogcalls.

Lastly [and Madisonly], kudos for bringing the feuding XwordTeens together for the holidays. Peace on earth, good Will toward puzpals, etc. And to all, a thUmbs Up. I'm all in.

syndy 1:08 PM  

did I IMagine the "E" in place of the "Y" last night or are them whippersnappers playing with my mind?

Clark 1:21 PM  

@Evgeny, @Ulrich -- I figured that ALTE was the weird result of inflected German colliding with the conventions of Crossworld. Der Alte means old man; in crossworld we often leave off definite articles without mentioning it. So we end up with [German word for old woman] clued as "Old man: Ger." Annoyed? amused? annoyed? -- I decided to be amused.

[Summarizing for anyone who doesn't know German (and who cares):

'Alte' is declined not as a normal noun but as an adjectived used as a noun. So we get

Der Alte = the old man (der alte Mann)
Die Alte = the old woman (die alte Frau)
Alter = old man (alter Mann)
Alte = old woman (alte Frau)]

Dan 1:32 PM  

Was amused when I noticed the constructor since just last night I had done a puzzle in the archive (2009-05-09) that also contained OOLALA, about which Rex had commented 'lack of an "H" in "OOH" always bugs me'. Guess he got over it. :-)

william e emba 1:42 PM  

I thought this was a Thursday puzzle, both in difficulty and in choice of theme.

I originally learned of LARAMIE from the National Lampoon. They ran a feature consisting of fake car ads, including one lamenting a car accident in LARAMIE.

Bomber type, meet bomber type: I liked seeing B-TEN cross with B-ONE!

I liked the fact that without having any conscious awareness of whom Justin Bieber is, I got TWEEN instantly, without any crosses even.

We've seen Elizabeth CADY Stanton before.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

great puzzle Rex!! and great write up guys!!

no time this week to come here - very busy with family and friends.

BTW - had a beet salad for lunch today

CHEF BEA

Van55 2:09 PM  

@Arthur -- I actually knew CERF as a gimme, since I watched "What's My Line" some as a youth. I simply thought that he is relatively unknown to most people younger than I.

I probably should have included CADY in my list of "obscurities" The Y in her name was my last entry.

I also didn't know READE, despite that I spent 12 weeks living on Governor's Island many years ago.

Matthew G. 2:21 PM  

I think Duane READE is one of the ultimate know-it-or-you-don't answers. They exist only in the Five Boroughs of NYC, and if you've never spent much time there, you'll never have heard of them. Full stop. If you've ever spent much time there, you'll say "Reade" the moment anyone says "Duane," because you can't throw a rock without hitting one.

Personally, I like that Will Shortz hasn't tried to entirely eradicate New York provincialism from the crossword. It may be the national paper of record, but there's a nice old-timey feel to keeping the "New York" in "The New York Times," within reason.

KenInBoston 2:23 PM  

Only had trouble in the NW. "Bien SUR" was unknown to me; seems like more of a Friday clue as a partial. I tried LUBED for "Greased" because I think of oil and grease as two different things. I grew up in Brooklyn, but that was 42 years ago and I guess Duane-READE wasn't big (or in existence) back then.

Another nit: BTEN for "Bomber type" is pretty obscure for a Wednesday puzzle. Although it was a landmark airplane, it was commissioned in 1934 and, as far as I know, didn't play much of a role in WWII. It was easily gotten by crosses (including the crosswordy OENO) so no foul, but still seems pretty random.

I thought the theme was OK; didn't excite me all that much. But a pretty good puzzle overall.

Matthew G. 2:31 PM  

Yes, I should amend what I said. If you've spent much time in New York City in the last 15 years, you'll have heard of Duane Reade. They've been around since 1960, but went through a mega-expansion in the late 1990s, with the number of stores more than quadrupling from 1995 to 2005.

Earlier this year, they were bought out by Walgreen's, which intends to keep the Duane Reade name and operate them as a subsidiary.

mac 2:38 PM  

Very nice puzzle, Rex, and the write-up was sparkling, too!

When I read 2D, I thought: oh no, letter sequence, he's going to get it", and was very relieved to see the far more acceptable aeiou!

@Ulrich: also figured Alte on its own could only be an old woman.
And @mel ott: sorry, but you are ein Alter!

@catan: also laughed at the smalls and the "underthings" you brought up!

@Rex: oolala is your signature now.



sprop

fergus 2:39 PM  

Matthew G -- I FOLD could have been your Poker phrase, then we would get to cut out the puzzle and fold it into a fascinating origami construction, which was Rex's original intent, I hear.

retired_chemist 2:47 PM  

Apparently crossworld is not the only place for nitpickers to enjoy themselves in the blogosphere, viz., this discussion of bien sur.

Joe 3:22 PM  

Much better puzzle than yesterday.

Better clues, not frivolous.
Easy to figure theme.

Toots SHOR was a famous bar owner in NYC.
Basically, he was Frank Sinatra's bartender.

ANON B 3:25 PM  

@Retired_chemist at 2;47

Also oo la la and alte

Rachel LS 3:54 PM  

Nice puzzle overall. AEIOU amused me given Rex's sighs over that sort of answer.;)

mmorgan 4:16 PM  

Did this last night and got through it so quickly I didn't even realize I was done. So quickly, in fact, that Mr. Happy Pencil startled me and I blurted out, "Mr. Happy Pencil!!". I then needed to introduce Mr. HP to my wife, who was perplexed by my near-shriek. She delicately raised the question of the Happy Pencil's gender. Good question, now I'm not so sure...

To those picking nits over "aqui," I received by coincidence an email from Argentina today, which included the phrase, "Aca todo bien" -- ("all is well here"). I'm not sure, but I believe that "aca" is more common in Latin American Spanish, but that they're essentially equivalent.

Didn't realize till I got here at this late date that this was Rex's puzzle. Congrats, Rex! A PURE GOOD TIME for me! (And @Fikink, thanks for the "End of the News" quote!)

Moonchild 4:30 PM  

Wow Rex, your second NYT puzzle!
It was a good one too.
Considering the bar that you have set for yourself I think it takes some guts to put your own work out there.
Tougher than the usual Wed. but in a good way. Letting those two kids do the write-up was a reat move. They are a riot!

Mel Ott 4:52 PM  

@Mac: If I had a vasectomy, would I be ein altered Alter?

@Joe: Actually, I'm told that at Toots Shor's there was one bartender whose sole job was to keep Mr. Shor's glass full. His joint was very popular with ballplayers, sportswriters, and the like.

Torbach 5:12 PM  

Nice write up, Catan! Am I the first to have been put in mind of Chris Kattan? That kind of took me out focus while reading, thinking of him playing the lab monkey or the "Night at the Roxy" guy on SNL - but you, Catan, are clearly much more urbane.

Puzzle was fun, though I actually first filled ALLIN at 1A and jumped down to the last across and put ALLIN there too - I imagined Rex had locked himself in a bunker somewhere today and published a grid that had ALLIN filling all the squares. When I discovered I was wrong and it was just a regular old crossword I was wildly disappointed!

Happy Holidays to all,
Tony O.

CaseAce 5:41 PM  

glimmerglass, John Daly, was the long time host of WML, while Bennett Cerf, was a regular panelist along with Dorothy Kilgallen.
Clark, of course I can't speak for everyone, however, I do care about the German language and it's relevance to English, our Mother Tongue. British Royals, as you're doubtless aware, have Teutonic cousins sprinkled throughout their ranks down through their history as a result of marriages.

Jackie 5:55 PM  

I didn't see who constructed this puzzle until after I'd completed it and I was thinking, "Wow, I loved this puzzle. I wonder what Rex thought of it?" Nice job!

Biggie SMALLS was awesome -- but more than anything, I enjoyed seeing good old Peter ABELARD making his way onto the scene. We don't get enough 12th-century writers in the puzzles these days.

The guest write-up on your blog was also terrific -- totally worthy of your puzzle. I would give anything (almost) to see "Am [I AJ] Burnett?" one day.

sanfranman59 6:10 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Wed 11:34, 11:45, 0.98, 50%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:01, 5:46, 1.04, 67%, Medium-Challenging

Ulrich 6:20 PM  

@Clark: You explained it better than I could have done--as a native speaker, I picked up the basic grammar by immersion at an early age, not by explicit instruction later on.

Here's another thing (since we have at least one more reader interested in German): Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" is called in German "Der alte Mann und das Meer", NOT "Der Alte und das Meer"! Which is to say, "der Alte" doesn't really mean "the old man"--it means "the old one". As you said correctly, it's an adjective turned into a noun, and German and English have different means to do this. English has to add "one" b/c it cannot use declension to indicate that an adjective has become a noun.

william e emba 7:11 PM  

I said I learned of LARAMIE from a fake car ad in the National Lampoon, but that might not be true. The hardcopy I have verified is Bruce McCall Zany Afternoons. McCall does credit NatLamp for most of the work in the book, but not all of it.

Much of the book consists of utterly bizarre fake car ads. One particular sequence is entitled "Somewhere East of Laramie", and consists of parodies of notable car ads from the past.

I was unable to find an online copy of this fake ad, however, Google very kindly suggested I would be interested in the original Somewhere West of Laramie ad for the 1923 Jordan Playboy.

The parody version shows the same man on the horse, but the car is now upside down, and the copy is mournful about what happens when you take turns too quickly with the wrong brand of car.

john farmer 7:13 PM  

"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." "The Bad and the Beautiful." "The Beautiful and Damned."

English doesn't always need "one." Depends on the word and context.

Congrats on today's puzzle, Rex. Liked the theme and the Catan write-up.

retired_chemist 7:50 PM  

One of my favorites, so long as we are still discussing der alter Mann:

Die Winterreise, F. Schubert Op. 99 -

Der Leiermann

"Drüben hinterm Dorfe steht ein Leiermann
Und mit starren Fingern dreht er, was er kann.
Barfuß auf dem Eise wankt er hin und her
Und sein kleiner Teller bleibt ihm immer leer.

Keiner mag ihn hören, keiner sieht ihn an,
Und die Hunde knurren um den alten Mann.
Und er läßt es gehen alles, wie es will,
Dreht und seine Leier steht ihm nimmer still.

Wunderlicher Alter, soll ich mit dir geh’n?
Willst zu meinen Liedern deine Leier dreh’n?

retired_chemist 7:57 PM  

ops - should also have highlighted Wunderlicher Alter.

Ulrich 8:03 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 8:08 PM  

@John Farmer: Yes, you are right. What I said can be seen as too broad a generalization from "the old one".

But this should not distract from the more important point I was trying to make: While the discount store in my area says "Expect savings!", I say, when it comes to German, "Expect declensions!"

Evgeny 8:55 PM  

@Ulrich and @Clark: exactly the point I had in mind. To put it more directly: someone, anyone, who apparently has no clue (haha) of the foreign language, should not try to make a reference in this language in a puzzle without consulting a native/naturalized speaker. I'm a lil' tipsy on account of not having to work tomorrow and of it being almost 3 a.m. over here, so i'll stop the rant here before discrediting myself.

Sparky 9:10 PM  

Congrats Rex. A nice run-for-the-money. Think the clues fair not sneaky. I didn't see the name till I came to the blog.

Arrived in Miami yesterday and am spinning with Christmas, relatives, the whole shebang.

@Matthew G. Good comment re "word deletion" Wish I could express self so clearly. Agree re keeping NYC in NYTimes puzzle. The city becomming so gentrified, with people driving to "destination" foodmarkets like Eatily that there won't be any NYC left in NYC. Bah, Humbug.

Stan 9:16 PM  

Good theme construction, solid vocabulary, fun solve.

But then again, I'm just an obsequious sycophant.

Best joke of the day: MAL DE JER.

Stan 9:21 PM  

Worst thing about the puzzle: 18A Cher-bot earworm that I just can't get out of my head!

Sfingi 9:27 PM  

For someone who still doesn't know what ALL IN or BIEN SUR means, I finished w/o Googling.

Many things I didn't know, but when Biggie SMALLS was murdered at 27, we had much discussion among my inmate students.

Glad I know CERF and SHOR, since there are some things that Google can't cough up correctly'

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was born in Johnstown, 2 counties to the East of Utica in Upstate NY, and was major in the suffrage movement in Seneca Falls to the West of Utica.

@Retired Chemist - beautiful Dicht - I never heard of it.

Der ALTE Barbarossa, der Kaiser Firederich...
a crazy poem I once learned. He's sleeping in an enchanted state in an underground castle, with his beard growing through the marble table and wakes up every 100 years to see if Germany is united.
@Ulrich - help me here to remember more.

deerfencer 10:00 PM  

Near perfect Wednesday puzzle IMO. Mucho kudos Michael/Rex, and thanks for a very enjoyable solve!

Shamik 10:04 PM  

Good across the spectrum clues for an easy-medium Wednesday. Delightful write-up, Catan!

Anonymous 10:11 PM  

Rex,

Not to diminish your success, but painfully I have learned things are never as bad as they seem nor as good as you'd like.

I would like to see a 3rd....

livebug 10:15 PM  

What a lovely puzzle, Rex! I had loads of fun. Congratulations.

mac 10:47 PM  

@Sparky: Sparky the dental assistant was back filling in today after ten whole years! She is a character.

I live very close to Eataly, but so far it has been so packed, with lines outside, that I've never been in.

Jenny 11:00 PM  

Noticed the constructore name right away and immediately linked this to RP's hinting earlier in the week. I enjoyed the puzzle, and though I'm not one to time (I don't like to rush solving, and I like a neat puzzle- strange, I know - and I do solve the tree-killing way), it felt like a Medium difficulty to me.

As a German speaker, I also felt that the cluing for ALTe was off, being dependent on the article 'der' to result in concordance with the given clue. But all of this has been well put by @Clark and @Ulrich above.

Thanks, RP et al.

Jenny 11:02 PM  

Oops, meant ALTE...

SethG 12:25 AM  

Nice work Rex, boys. I particularly liked GOOD TIME, A DAY'S WORK, and the Eero complainers.

Enjoy your Chinese food, Ben.

Vega 3:06 AM  

So-o-o good. Spongy/nerf and the clue for FLY took my breath away. Write-up also fab. I would say more if it wasn't 3 am.

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

@mac - If you go check out Eataly, be certain to avoid the gelato - $4.99 for a small cup with a false bottom. It looks as though it is about 2 inches deep from the outside, but when you put your spoon in, you will find it is only about half that depth.

DocC 10:39 PM  

I'm a "great if I make it through Thursday" solver. I enjoyed yesterday's puzzle enormously! Said to my honey after I finished, "That was FUN!" Thanks.

the redanman 9:43 PM  

Medium-Challenging?
Not really and I'm a cr@p puzzle solfer - just like this puzzle.


The ALLIN was a gimme and made the "Theme" fast fill as much of the puzzle except the junk was half-filled in by then.


Cloying, too cool for school and over-cutesy? Definitely.

Very annoying.

Another puzzle, please.

Cary in Boulder 12:32 PM  

Frajah, my Yiddishe granny, used the term "alte cocker" (or so it sounded to me) to mean something like "old fart." Maybe @Ulrich, if he checks back in 5 weeks, can shed some light.

I enjoyed the theme, though I got most answers before I realized what was going on. Strangely, the syndicated puzzle had 33D italicized. That left me to wonder what how CNN ALLIN made any sense, until I realized that it should've been 32D.

Not having been to NYC in 40 years, Duane READE was a mystery to me. Even after running the alphabet O_ED made no sense. It wasn't till I Googled later that I realized it was OD'ED.

Fell apart in the N. Central region, having never heard of ANY Gasteyer (ANN? ANI?) and thus obscuring PACMAN. And although I've worked as a radio DJ for years and am considered a musical "expert" by my friends, I never pay any attention to the kind of shmaltzy crapola done by Cher, etc. Now OTIS, on the other hand, is right over the plate for me!

Captcha dormid= a sleepy subconscious?

tim 1:19 PM  

I really liked this Wednesday puzzle. When I saw "Michael Sharp", I thought "oh! this will be fun." And it was.

I haven't been solving a super long time, but my take on the crosswordese is that all those were clued in a much more lively way. (I, too, wonder what Will changed in Rex's submission. But ultimately, it was great.) I mean "Where the robed are rubbed" is a totally great clue for the ho-hum SPA.

Re having **two** Star Trek clues, loved it!! Expected all the music answers as well (tho, boo on Bieber -- my 2 year old is singing that one....)

Re LARAMIE, I have to say that reading the blog regularly made this one a cinch: Rex hates obscure geographical clues, so when I considered that, I just thought what are cities in Wyoming that I know and the answer revealed itself quickly. (Though part of me was expecting FRESNO clued as "A California city best forgotten." Me, too!)

And finally, PACMAN was great; likewise, I was fully expecting MADDEN to be a clue to the video game. So I wasn't disappointed at the artful misdirection.

Thanks!

Rex Parker 1:24 PM  

@Tim,

Thanks. Proud to say that SPA clue was 100% mine. I know LARAMIE as a brand of cigarettes on "The Simpsons," but yes, anyone should be able to get that clue from a (short) list of "Wyoming cities I know."

Interesting: most Google searches resulting in hits to my site are for the MACARTHUR clue (?), which I thought would've been easy (apply LARAMIE standard, i.e. "Famous generals I know ..."). Not always to tell where folks will struggle.

Will took out "yellow" from the PACMAN clue, and I'm glad he did.

Rex Parker 1:24 PM  

Whoops. Meant "Not always *easy* to tell where folks will struggle."

rp

Anonymous 2:06 PM  

Dummy that I am I solved this without even getting the "all-in" missing phrase. I just solved for the word that fit. Also I am proud to say I knew about Bennet Cerf and Toots Shor. Yah!

Anonymous 2:57 PM  

pretty straightforward construction so kudos to you Rex. Only beef I have is from syndi-land where the so-called italicized clues are NOT italicized! Fortunately the puzzle was easy enough to finish without too much heartburn over the editing hash. Looking forward to your third NYT puzzle.
Terry

Nullifidian 6:37 PM  

Writing from syndication-land, where I can say that Anonymous at 2:57 PM needs to have the editor of the local paper hung from the yardarm. I hate it when they fail to properly alert readers as to theme clues.

Luckily, the editor of my local fishwrap is safe for today. All the theme clues were italicized.

I started in the south today, since 59A's clue of alveoli location was my gimme. Not the standard gimme perhaps, but I'm still a biologist. That gave me YANG, which gave me KHAN and EDGY. I thought 45D might be SPONGY and 23D NERF, but I wanted to wait to commit myself.

I should have hesitated on 40D, where I initially wrote "sparkle" for TWINKLE, based on nothing more than the fact that it fit the number of squares and ended in -KLE. Fortunately ARSENIO Hall and Justin Bieber's TWEEN fanbase showed me the error of my ways.

I knew Biggie SMALLS and Sam RAIMI, though he's much more well known for his cult films in the Evil Dead series and his mainstream blockbusters in the Spiderman series. I pulled Bennett CERF from some dark recess of my memory, probably because he was a co-founder of Random House. I did not know Toots SHOR at all, being solely familiar with Toots Thielemans. I suspect that awkward clue is a case of the theme constraining the fill.

It was a reasonably challenging Wednesday, IMO, but not an insurmountable obstacle. Good fill with a tight theme. I had fun, and I hope to see more of your crosswords in future editions of the local paper.

NotalwaysrightBill 7:14 PM  

Syndicated paper solver.

Finished in pretty GOODTIME, or maybe that's just ALLIN my head.

Enjoyed much of the kids' write-up. I wonder lately, though, whether I'm late to their party or if they're late to mine (I know it started long before either of us got here). Guess it's just that all hip-hop referencing, "like a jitterbug," simply evades me. Hippety-hoppers don't even call themselves singers.

Still, this puzzle had good classic fill, ABELARD, AEIOU. Enjoyed myself well enough whilin' away the time with it, about right for a Wedpuz, por FAVOR and gracias. And congratulations, Rex, howsoever late.

Also enjoyed Ulrich's (and others') synthetic-vs-analytic languages discussion of ALTE. It's not easy for a native English speaker to get a good feel for how "El Viejo" ended up meaning "the old man" from just the adjective.

My only dander-up-getting answer was ACA, because my butt-ugly Spanish heretofore only included "aqui." Apparently, though, ACA means "here" also: in certain regional dialects, at some relative distances and depending on what degree of specificity you want to signify. And it even has an emphasis component. Which means that I still don't when to use the one vs the other. Have to try it on for size when I go to Puerto Vallarta next month, I guess.

captcha:
"sangloca"
After "la vida" over and over, to distraction

Anonymous 2:12 AM  

Syndicated solver and first time commenter here. I enjoyed this puzzle thoroughly even though the "italicized" clues were not italicized or asterisked or anything else (kind of maddening.) I didn't know this was an RP puzzle till I came here. I usually come here to cheat on Saturday. As a confident Weds-Thurs solver, this one felt like a solid Wednesday that I just happened to know the clues for. Very fun.

AEIOU was nice and not quite as obvious as it obviously should have been... Had "GHIJK" and "LMNOP" in mind before it clicked.

The too esoteric (to me) answers were all gettable with crosses.

*bonus for no archaic (or any) baseball players

*-1/2 bonus point for two Star Trek references (but they were pretty easy.)

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