Burrowing arthropods / SUN 5-29-11 / Involuntary extension troop tours / Italian appetizer little toasts / Hilton Westin welcomer / Chair toted poles

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Constructor: Jeremy Newton and Tony Orbach

Relative difficulty: Medium


THEME: "You'll Get Through This" — Puzzle note: "The grid represents a maze. Enter the room at the upper left and exit at the lower right, following a path that will become apparent as you solve the crossword. When the puzzle is done, read the circled letters in the order in which the rooms are visited to spell a quote by 153-Across." The "path" is a series of DOORways, where DOOR is represented in certain answers by a black square separating one section of the answer from the next. Circles spell out, "EVERY WALL IS A DOOR," an enigmatic quotation from Ralph Waldo EMERSON.

[I cannot find a source for the quotation. There are a billion quotations sites out there that attribute the quotation to him. Google Books turns up many instances of Camus (and others) *saying* that Emerson said it. At one point I found someone who wrote that Emerson "reputedly" said it. But the big drag of the internet is that I cannot quickly find the actual source of the quotation; instead, I'm drowning in a flood of quote sites and self-help and "leadership" books, all of which quote him without clear attribution. Help me out, please]

[UPDATE: Big thanks to E. Hamori for finding an attribution for the quotation at this site (The Ralph Waldo Emerson Society site, not surprisingly): "(Journal, 15 October 1844)"]

Word of the Day: Emilio PUCCI (19D: Emilio of fashion) —

Emilio Pucci [...], Marchese di Barsento, (20 November 1914 – 29 November 1992) was a Florentine Italian fashion designer and politician. He and his eponymous company are synonymous with geometric prints in a kaleidoscope of colours. (wikipedia)

• • •
This is a wonderful architectural feat and a lot of fun to solve despite the fact that I didn't need to (or bother to) actually complete the maze before (or during) solving the puzzle. I did a little post-solve drawing to see how it all worked out. The quotation seems banal and self-helpy, something you'd find on a motivational poster, which is why I went in (fruitless) search of its source. Admittedly, I didn't search long, so I remain reasonably confident a valid source is out there somewhere. But back to the grid—it's very cool-looking, with all the little white-square islands. At first I thought I was dealing with some kind of board game. Clue, perhaps. But the grid wasn't quite right so I just plowed ahead, with the understanding that DOORs were somehow involved. Once you pick up the DOOR thing, the puzzle's not that hard, except for the SE, which I found rough—partly because of the basically unclued nature of EMERSON, partly because of the difficult-to-see HARD HIT (149A: Walloped), and partly because I just blanked completely on the Alfa Romeo model (142A: Classic Alfa Romeo roadsters=>SPIDERS). Oh, and I'd never call Ireland EIRE (133D: Home to the sport of hurling). That was a crazy guess based solely on the initial "E."

DOOR answers:
  • 25A: Done for, finito, kaput (DEAD AS A * NAIL)
  • 8A: Go canvassing, say (RING * BELLS)
  • 27A: Auto security feature (POWER * LOCK)
  • 18D: UPS drop-off site, often (FRONT * STEP)
  • 53D: Seinfeld vis-a-vis Kramer (NEXT * NEIGHBOR)
  • 86A: Show a bit of courtesy (for) (HOLD THE * OPEN)
  • 39D: Hush-hush powwow (CLOSED * MEETING)
  • 57A: Some fun in the sun (OUT * GAMES)
  • 75A: Teaser on party fliers (WIN A * PRIZE)
  • 34D: All-weather resort amenity (HEATED IN * POOL)
  • 89D: Involuntary extension of troop tours (BACK * DRAFT) — never heard of this phrase before. I have heard of the Ron Howard movie "BACKDRAFT," though...
  • 146A: Chrysler 300, e.g. (FOUR * SEDAN)
  • 96D: Colosseum entrance, e.g. (ARCHED * WAY)
  • 115A: Hilton or Westin welcomer (HOTEL * MAN)
  • 141A: Burrowing arthropods (TRAP * SPIDERS)

There were a number of little things I liked about this puzzle. Like the clues on AHS (110A: Pre-sneeze sounds) and (especially) CLOSED * MEETING (39D: Hush-hush powwows), or the answers CROSTINI (33D: Italian appetizer, literally "little toasts"), RED STAR (44D: Macy's logo feature), and NYC TAXI (45D: One in a line at J.F.K. or La Guardia). MARTHA Stewart is just *on TV* in my head, so I had no idea there was anything particularly new going on in her TV life as of 2005 (116D: Daily talk show beginning in 2005). I did, however, know that Seiji OZAWA was a turtleneck-wearer (seen him clued that way before) (136A: Conductor in a white turtleneck). Speaking of AMYS (54D: Author Tan and others), I picked up Amy Chua's "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" today at the public library. One thing I love about it, and the thing that got completely drowned out by the din of outrage, is that it's really well written and really funny. I mean, so far. I'm like 10 pages in. Anyway, I saw her on Colbert and liked her and saw the book sitting there and thought "why not?" Also got something called "The Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade," which looks super-awesome and which had me at "gay pulp fiction" (p. 1!).

Bullets:
  • 17A: Cop squad in "Monk": Abbr. (SFPD) — Had SFGD at first because of an understandable (I think) GUCCI-for-PUCCI error. The former mayor of my city is named BUCCI. He is also the new principal at the local Catholic high school. He's *got* to be an improvement over the interim principal, who (according to ... sources) told the student body that sex was not necessary in marriage (yes, that's "in," not "before") because "Jesus wants to be your passionate lover." The principal before that guy was a shoplifter. Sometimes I love this city.

  • 73A: Shrub used in dyeing (ANIL) — a crossword word if ever there was one. I have to be careful not to confuse it with another crossword dye (AZO) or a seed casing (ARIL).
  • 147A: Chair toted on poles (SEDAN) — Weird that this piece of transportation gives its name to my Honda Accord.
  • 12D: Repeating heart monitor sound (BIP) — Really?! I wanted PIT. Or PAT.
  • 70D: Gossipy Smith (LIZ) — a very familiar name and face from my youth, but I have no idea from where, since I'm not a native New Yorker. I assume she was on national TV somehow. Or maybe I'm confusing her with Dr. Joyce Brothers (they live next to each other in my brain; don't ask).
  • 93D: Bygone missile with a tribal name (NAVAHO) — I grew up with the "J," spelling, but the puzzle likes this variant.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitterd and Tumblr]

92 comments:

Anonymous 12:06 AM  

CAUTION, YOU ARE ENTERING THE NO SPIN ZONE.

For those who have trouble seeing those invisible doors, Emerson said: EVERY WALL IS A DOOR

Room to Room:

25A and 26A: DEAD AS A [DOOR] NAIL – EV

27A and 28A: POWER [DOOR] LOCK – ER

15D and 52D: FRONT [DOOR] STEP – Y W

86A and 88A: HOLD THE [DOOR] OPEN – A

39D and 81D: CLOSED [DOOR] METING – L

57A and 60A: OUT[DOOR] GAMES – L

75A and 76A: WIN A [DOOR] PRIZE – I

34A and 91A: HEATED IN[DOOR] POOL – S

89D and 121D: BACK [DOOR] DRAFT – A

146A and 147A: FOUR [DOOR] SEDAN – D

96D and 139D: ARCHED [DOOR]WAY – O

115A and 116A: HOTEL [DOOR]MAN – O

141A and 142A: TRAP[DOOR] SPIDERS – R

johnshelby 12:14 AM  

Shouldn't 77 across be "light *refractor*" instead of "light *reflector*?"

retired_chemist 12:39 AM  

@ johnshelby - yes. Definitely a cluing error for PRISM. Also wasn't Kramer across the hall from Seinfeld instead of next door?

LOVED it. Took me for-freakin'-ever but it was fun. Sundays usually feel like an expanded Wednesday, which is too much of a so-so thing. This one, however, kept me on my toes. Kept coming up with obvious partials (DEADASA, HOLDTHE) and answers that seemed just a bit, or more than just a bit, off (RING, TRAP). Had EMERSON, and had enough of the circles filled to see that the quote probably started with EVERY WA.... and ended with ...DOOR. AHA! Looked at some of the strange answers (I was more than halfway through at that time) and saw the gimmick.

My hat is off to the constructors. Thanks, Messrs. Newton and Orbacn.

Anonymous 12:48 AM  

The "stop loss" policy is referred to as the back door draft. It's basically, your enlistments up but you not getting out.

syndy 12:59 AM  

EH

Sue Kearney 1:37 AM  

Okay, I've got it, it's solved, but I don't get the order of the quote. How do you know the directionality of the quote? Sorry, it's probably obvious, but I.Just.Don't.See.It! Thanks...

Princess Kosmonopolis 1:51 AM  

"I am so astonish't I am speechless," said my then five year old daughter on our first trip from Texas to London. This puzzle evokes the same feeling from me. How much fun!

Not that it was all easy, even having figgered out the missing door at 25A. Still, I have tossed many Sunday Times magazines b/c they just take too up too much time to finish. Not this one. Not that I waited for the magazine this time.

I think my favorite was 86A - show a bit of courtesy (for) - Hold the {door} open. Yes. Let's do that.

chefwen 2:12 AM  

Finished the puzzle, got the quote and couldn't piece together the missing word (door) thought it was just a missing piece that we had to accept. Feeling like a total dummkopf! Better luck next time little one. Did have fun with the maze.

jae 2:38 AM  

This was really fun! I read the note and did the maze as directed (I.e., I didn't move to the next cell until I'd found the DOOR). Which, (@Sue), gives you the directionality of the quote. I got the theme immediately with DEADASA-DOOR-NAIL so I had this at easy. I mean, I never read the Alfa Romeo clue because I figured out the DOOR from the adjacent cell. I did have a couple of missteps, ALTIMA for MAXIMA, FREE for WINA, and SHUNNED for SHUNTED, but this was a pretty smooth solve and, again, a lot of fun!

Oh, and I had HADJ before HAJJ, are both right??

Evgeny 3:49 AM  

This was a fun solve, although it extended way beyond the sunday breakfast that is usually reserved for the puzzle.

However, it was really the interim principal who made my day. I read "I Am America" a few weeks ago and this quote sounds just improbable enough for Colbert to make it up. Alas, the reality writes the better stories. Thanks so much, Rex.

OldCarFudd 7:01 AM  

A marvelous romp!

Agree with the mis-clue/typo on reflector - I stumbled over that one.

A spider is a fast open roadster. Porsche also used that name for one of its early, now coveted models.

Glimmerglass 8:06 AM  

According to the RWE Society and the English Dept. at U. South Carolina, the quote comes from Emerson's journal entry for 15 October 1844. I had hadj instead of HAJJ for a time, too.

Eric 9:08 AM  

Lots of fun today. This is my type of Sunday puzzle all the way.

No BS 9:25 AM  

Thanks for your efforts Glimmerglass. Good to know this quote is for real.

Great puzzle

I hate Quotations. Tell me what you know. 9:32 AM  

It is plain that the War has made many things public that were once quite too private. A man searches his mind for thoughts, and finds only the old commonplaces ; but, at some moment, on the old topic of the days, politics, he makes a distinction he had not made ; he discerns a little inlet not seen, before. Where was a wall is now a door. The mind goes in and out, and variously states in prose or poetry its new experience. It points it out to one and another, who, of course, deny the alleged discovery. But repeated experiments and affirmations make it visible soon to others. The point of interest is here, that these gates once opened never swing back. The observers may come at their leisure, and do at last satisfy themselves of the fact.

RWE Journal Age 62 1866 War Opens New Doors

Leslie 9:34 AM  

Like others, I loved the puzzle, but my downfall was in seeing only some of the doors. For example, I didn't even notice FRONT DOOR STEP or HOTEL DOORMAN. That made it difficult to put the circled letters in the right order. I tried "Every ill is a door??"--which didn't seem sufficiently Emersonian, somehow.

Anyway, what a fresh, clever idea!

David Block 9:36 AM  

What an interesting grid to start with. It provided that great anticipation of an interesting solve. Once I had the DOORs the rest of the puzzle fell quickly. Also was tripped up by PUCCI (had GUCCI) and HAJJ (never seen it with 2 Js). Still scratching my head of KALE (111A). Moolah -> Lettuce -> Kale? Never heard of kale as a money slang.

mmorgan 9:41 AM  

Enjoyed this a lot, even the fact that it had both CROSTINI at 33D and CRO/STINE at 65/66A.

There's a terrific graphical treatment by Patrick Merrell on the NYT Wordplay blog.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

Like @Sue, I don't see the directionality of the quote, despite @jae's attempt to explain. Someone clarify, please.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

It's also not clear why the "rooms" are "visited" in that order. This one just did not resonate w/ me at all.

chefbea 10:00 AM  

@anonymous 12:06 thanx for the way we got the quote. I didn't go room by room so couldn't figure out the quote.

Thought the puzzle was great and should win a prize from Rex.

Enjoy your cookouts everyone. Time to make the Red, white and Bleu cole slaw!!!

slypett 10:05 AM  

Boredom's just another word.

The captcha, dreeri, seems to agree.

GLR 10:14 AM  

The note indicates that you start in the "room" at the upper left. There's only one "door" in that room, so you have to go to the east. Once you've entered that room, there's only one "door" that doesn't take you backwards, so you move further east, etc.

I'm sure contructing this puzzle is quite a feat, but my overall reaction is "so what?" I didn't think the fill was anything special, and wasn't all that interested in the quote.

JC66 10:18 AM  

Since I refrain from reading the note until after solving, this was 16 mini-puzzles for me.

After reading the note, I followed the instructions to get EVERY WALL IS A DOOR. However, i found it bothersome that is some cases the movement from one box to the next is right to left or down to up while the solutions always read left to right or up to down(i.e. HOLDTHE*OPEN, CLOSED*MEETING).

This may be why @Sue Kearney and others have trouble navigating.

Martin 10:21 AM  

Reflecting prisms are probably more common than refractors.

JC66 10:33 AM  

Forgot to point out that, in some cases I did notice the bleed over from one box to the next while solving, but only a few.

@ retired_chemist

In NYC apartment buildings, the phrase NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR can refer to someone living close by on the same floor but not necessarily on the same side of the hall. Therefore, for Seinfeld, Kramer qualifies but Newman doesn't.

BTW, it's also possible that they share a common wall and their bedrooms abut.

Martin 10:48 AM  

Be wary of Spiders. While the Alfa is a Spider, Porsche made Spyders. James Dean died in one.

Speaking of variant spellings, the tribe prefers "Navaho," since "Navajo" is the Spanish spelling and they're Americans, but both are common. This clue, however, is a rare one that would make "Navajo" incorrect.

BTW, that pointy thing on the top of an SLR camera houses a pentaprism, another common reflecting device.

Beadola 10:59 AM  

I had to fill in a few sections before the "door" became clear. I solve in Across Lite, so after I was done, I printed it out to draw on the grid see the maze clearly. Every section is connected to two sections except the first and last. This might help others also. The grid promised a fun solve, and I think it delivered.

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

@ Syndy,
Really good analysis there. I don't know which is worse, that you spent the time to write that out or that I spent time responding to you.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

http://emerson.tamu.edu/ephemera/journal15October1844.html

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

If someone knows how to make that a live link at 11:04, please do. I;m not that smart.

joho 11:09 AM  

Very clever contruction, indeed!

My first thought at seeing the grid was,"Yay, we're playing "Clue!"

The hardest part for me was navigating through the doors to get the quotes. As in life, I can be challenged in finding the correct turn or direction.

The ugliest part was writing in TRAP(DOOR)SPIDER because I suffer from arachnophobia.

This was a fun, fun Sunday, great job, Jeremy and Tony O!

joho 11:20 AM  

Thank you @mmorgan for the tip to go to Wordplay to see Patrick Merrell's graphic. Now it's all crystal clear.

OldCarFudd 11:28 AM  

Thank you, Martin, for the clarification and the link. I didn't know.

And thank you, also, for pointing out the different spellings of sp(i)(y)der. I was always amused by the hot Alfa of many years ago called "spider superleggera". Not a description of a big-legged arachnid, but of an ultralight roadster.

Big brother Jazz 11:38 AM  

While this is a fun puzzle, there are, as most have pointed out, more than a few things "off" with it. Chalk this up as yet another reason the Wall Street Journal's crossword, which appears Friday (and equivalent in difficulty) is superior. Granted, Shortz has to edit a puzzle every day and Shenk only the one, but that is no reason to get beat nearly every week on the one that really counts for us xword freaks.

Norm 11:45 AM  

This was a lot of fun, although I have to confess that I was almost done before I saw the missing "doors," since my approach was to try to figure out the phrase. Going across the top made it pretty clear that the first word would be "every," and I was all the way to "Every wall is a ..." before I finally caught on at BACK[DOOR] DRAFT and went back to find the others.

retired_chemist 11:52 AM  

Yup, @Martin is right about prisms.

CoffeeLvr 12:35 PM  

@ChefBea, I just sent you an email requesting your slaw recipe. If you click on me, you can see my email address, and perhaps retrieve it from your spam filter. Thanks so much!

Clark 12:38 PM  

Elaborating on a thought of @JC66, while I have never thought about it explicitly until now it seems to me that Kramer and Jerry both live at the end of the hallway. That is, people always go out Jerry's door and turn right, never left. (I have not rewatched all of the episodes to verify this.) That would make Kramer both Jerry's across-the-hall neighbor and his next door neighbor. [Semi-puzzle partner says there is an episode in which we see that they in fact do both live at the end of the hallway.]

CoffeeLvr 12:49 PM  

My solving experience is more like @Norm's. I filled in most of the blocks last night, but got stuck on five, mainly in the center south and southeast. Although, it was clear that there was something off about some of the answers in other blocks. This morning, I jotted down all the circled letters, and solved the quote, giving me a missing letter in one block. Then the literal meaning of the phrase became clear, and the rest was short work.

I thought this was a terrific feat, and a fulfilling solve.

@JC66, agree about the direction of the maze (order of letters) not always matching the direction of the puzzle solve (phrases with DOOR.) I finally accepted that most doors go both ways.

Shamik 12:49 PM  

I am a minority. And I am disgruntled. After a work week in which I didn't even turn on my computer between Monday morning and Saturday night, I really looked forward to this puzzle. The grid was intriguing and Tony Orbach's puzzles are usually enjoyable.

This is an oh-so-clever construction combining several theme elements. Good for unique construction and the work put into it. That's about all I can appreciate about this puzzle....that thought went into it. Can't think of a puzzle I've felt this negative towards. Ever.

Solved it in a challenging 37 minute time. Big. Deal. Best part of my morning was my coffee, the write-up and my amazement at others' enjoyment. One man's silk purse is another's sow's ear. Or something like that. Happy that others are happy. Wish I was partaking in red, white and bleu salad.

Blyecch.

M07S 12:54 PM  

In Across Lite I changed the pencil color (to red) and filled in the linked answers in pencil so I could see them better. No, I'm not that clever. It was in one of the "hints" that pop up. Nice puzz.

Matthew G. 1:04 PM  

Fantastic puzzle. I've become a pretty confirmed member of the not-a-fan-of-Sunday-sized-puzzles camp, so it's notable these days when I do a Sunday puzzle and stay interested all the way through. Today was such a day. Picked up the theme right away at DEAD AS A [DOOR] NAIL and enjoyed the whole ride.

@Shamik: There are definitely times when I appreciate how incredibly difficult a puzzle must have been to construct but derive no pleasure from the solve (last year's Christmas-tree lighting puzzle comes to mind). But today wasn't one of those days for me! Looking for the next door in each room was absolutely the joy of the solve, in my opinion. Sorry it didn't work for you!

retired_chemist 1:21 PM  

The answers involving doors all read left to right or top to bottom independent of the direction of going through the maze. Just like normal crossword answers. Which way you go through the door is not relevant.

JC66 2:02 PM  

@ retired_chemist

I agree that which way you go through the door is not relevant in solving the puzzle, but it is in navigating the maze.

However, reversing some answers in the grid (i.e. THEDOOR*OPEN) would have made the navigational direction clearer and more accurate (IMO) but might have made the solving too difficult for a NY Times Sunday, or more fun, or both.

If which way one goes through the door were relevant, it would have been less confusing for some of us and maybe a more elegant puzzle.

Gill I. P. 2:03 PM  

Well, this was one woman's silk purse!
I really enjoyed the solve as well as the cleverness involved in constructing the puzzle.
About the only thing I didn't like was 124D. How do you produce a boy?
Off to our favorite Sunday brunch haunt and then I shall raise a Blooming Fizz to Mr Newton and Mr. Orback.
Then on to the Jazz Festival to sing and dance my heart out.

JaxInL.A. 2:41 PM  

I found this puzzle so satisfying that if I smoked I might want a cigarette.  Many little moments of revelation, leading up to a big sigh of satisfaction at the end.  I loved it.  

A post-solve review reveals three different levels of challenge, a truly inspired theme, deeply impressive construction, and clever, fun clues.  I couldn't wait to get here and see the reaction.  Much like the happily-matched person who wants to see all of her friends as happy, I'm delighted to share with those who enjoyed this one, and sorry that a few others didn't get as much of a thrill.  Doesn't kill my buzz, though.  This is a great example of why I do puzzles.

Heartfelt congratulations, Messrs Newton and Orbach!

jackj 2:47 PM  

There are crosswords and there are game puzzles. This is a game puzzle.

5 stars as a game puzzle; 5 shrugs as a crossword.

A perfect Second Sunday Puzzle, perhaps.

Anonymous 2:55 PM  

@Martin, both the Navajo tribe and the Spanish were living in the Southwest long before the Americans. Navaho is an archaic anglicization of Navajo. If you want to go by what the tribe calls themselves, it is Dinè. You might check out this quote from navajo.org to see why.

"In their language, Dinè means "Children of God" and the word "Navajo" comes from a Spanish word meaning stealer".

JaxInL.A. 3:08 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JaxInL.A. 3:10 PM  

By the way, for NPR listeners, today's Weekend Edition Sunday puzzle was Liane Hansen's last as host of the show. Will Shortz had a nice challenge that may be of particular interest to crossworders.  It was a sweet farewell.  

Oh, and it's nice to see @mmorgan back.  I have missed you.  Thanks for the referral to the Wordplay blog on today's puzzle and Patrick Merrell's clever graphic to help navigate the grid.

I feel so clever being able to make links so easily now, and I owe it all to number 5 in Rex's FAQs. If I can do it, anyone can.

quilter1 3:56 PM  

I'm with @Shamik. I finally just stopped because it felt so good. Of course the blurb didn't print out and the puzzle printed out so small I couldn't read it without glasses and even then I could hardly tell 6 from 8. So while I, too, appreciate the effort that went into it, I did not have a good time. I rarely dislike any puzzle but this just became annoying.
Would rather be gruntled.
The salad sounds yummy. My ribs are BBQing in the oven due to rain.

CoolPapaD 4:18 PM  

I am blown away - this is construction at its finest - amazing is an understatement! Started this way too late last night to make any progress, knowing there must be a trick, and didn't catch on until another ten minutes in this morning.

Rex - now that I see you are a Richard Thompson fan, you are hereby granted immunity for any comments with which I may disagree for the next year... he is one of my favorites, and seeing him with Fairport Convention at a small venue in Cleveland is one of the highlights of my concert-going days. If you shall ever embed a Sandy Denny clip, I don't think I could handle myself.....she haunts me.

Anonymous 4:27 PM  

For those who still wonder how you know which direction to go from room to room -- Start at the NW, which is the way most would start the puzzle or read the first line of any book and go from there by following your nose, so to speak. After you enter a room you must look for another door to leave it. You never double back.

retired_chemist 4:40 PM  

@ JAxinLA - welcome to the ranks of the technorati.

Captcha jackss - couldn't pass that one up. Had to say something.

jberg 5:52 PM  

This puzzle had three of those handy crossword words you can spell as suits you: OTO/OTOE, HAJJ/HADJ, NAVAHO/NAVAJO. Though, as someone pointed out, the last is constrained by the clue, which refers to the missile, not the nation.

It took me awhile to get the theme, because I was looking for DEAD AS A dodo, and then thought (29A)SLAY (12A)BELLS might be another RTE (62A) from room to room. So I was left solving each room as a separate puzzle - and got quite a few, surprisingly - until I finally noticed NAIL and realized how that would work.

This puzzle was a lot more fun after I had finished than when I was actually solving it!

@Rex - At 133D, I thought hurling was Scots - but I applied one of your rules, "4 letter country starting with E? Eire!" and it worked fine.

Chip Hilton 5:57 PM  

First Sunday puzzle I've done in ages. The design and the explanatory note just wouldn't let me go. Glad I stuck around as I found it to be great fun. BACK*DOOR*DRAFT was the connecting clue least familiar to me but otherwise, a pretty smooth run. The Alfa Spider is pretty cool but check out the Brera if you get a chance. One of the great head-on designs out there.

PurpleGuy 6:00 PM  

Did not care for this at all.
Please stop trying to be cute, and just bring back my damn Sunday puzzles.


captcha - unfeoll. I agree.

Shanti-
Bob/PurpleGuy

JenCT 6:06 PM  

Away for a few days; solved this on the dead tree version. Took me forever, but I finally finished!

Loved meeting Tony Orbach at the ACPT - what a nice guy.

Was reading DEAD AS A as DEH-DASA for so long -- what's a DEHDASA???

Never did get the quote, in order to finish.

I like visiting NYC, but I like coming back home more!

michael 6:27 PM  

I think this is a great feat of construction. I got the theme quickly but had trouble with the quote -- mostly because sometimes you have to go through a door "backwards' (room with word after "door" to room with word before "door")

mac 6:54 PM  

For once I read the note first, got a piece of paper, and wrote down the circled letters room by room, solving it room by room. It worked almost all the way, but in the deep South I had to pre-solve a few spots to get the "door" answer.

Macy's logo? I didn't think I knew, but then I visualized those shopping bags on the sidewalks. White with a red star.

I never think of Martha as a talk show host, but I guess she is one, now. I liked her old show concept so much better.

@Gill J.P.: what a nice day you are having! Mine wasn't shabby, went to MOMA and saw some interesting exhibitions (photography, Picasso's guitars and the German Expressionists, my favorite).

Great puzzle, Tony and Jeremy!

Octavian 7:13 PM  

Great puzzle. Fun to put together, like an erector set. Four stars and a fifth for making us reflect (with or without a prism) on Emerson on a holiday.

Emerson was a leader in the Transcendentalism movement in America. Though he was trained as a minister at Harvard, he thought that formal organized religion was too conventional and limited people's outlook. Rather then finding salvation in prayer alone, he argued that the path to spirituality was through communion with nature and quiet contemplation.

This is why he was very good friends with Henry David Thoreau, who believed much the same at that fertile, exciting time in U.S. literary history when Americans were throwing off the shackles of English literature and forging their own path -- a winding path through doors, you might say, that were formerly thought to be walls.

What's cool about his relationship to this puzzle is that Transcendental writers focused on the interactive aspect of poems, and how the the writing affected both the author and the reader.

Most writers til that time were more focused on the mechanics of their craft. Emerson & Co. thought that writing was a spiritual experience that connected reader and writer with the divine.

Also the start of the puzzle with QUAKERS is probably not a coincidence. The transcendentalists' concept of an inner spirituality within a person's body was called the "oversoul." We would recognize the thought today as the "conscience." And the concept started with the Quakers, who used the term "inner light.'' Many scholars read Emerson's work as a reflection of Quakerism.

One last point. The concept of an innate worth to the individual was kind of a radical concept in the 18th Century that was still hotly debated in Emerson's time. It was best embodied in the "inalienable rights of man" concept that underlies the political principles of the Declaration of Independence.

So in short I am quite sure Emerson would love this puzzle, which required both contemplation and interaction. And it's perfect for a holiday celebrating personal sacrifice. Bravo.

retired_chemist 7:16 PM  

@ Octavian - terrific post!

Noam D. Elkies 9:12 PM  

What a neat idea!

The construction is not actually that far from what one usually sees in a theme puzzle: a centrally-symmetric collection of nearly independent areas connected by long theme answers. Here the individual cells are marked explicitly and the clue phrases are the only connections.

Nice too that each post-[DOOR] entry gets its own clue to a different but related sense of the word.

NDE

mmorgan 9:27 PM  

Thanks, Jax! We seem to often be on the same wavelength. But I'm leaving the country again tomorrow for another two weeks. Will get back here someday...

CoffeeLvr 9:38 PM  

Hey, PurpleGuy, good to see you again. Don't be a stranger.

mac 9:41 PM  

@Octavian: thank you for that wonderful post!

MikeM 10:34 PM  

unbelievable construction, HOF in my book. Can't believe the nitpickers. Had to overwrite HAdJ, other than that clear sailing. Loved "Rice pads" = DORM. Thanks Jeremy and Tony. Perfect Sunday. Great puzzle, then the Bronx Zoo, then dinner at Arthur Avenue at Dominicks.

Stan 11:32 PM  

Puzzle reminded me of the video game Portal 2. A wall can always be a door and there is only one way in and one way out.

Awesome 'Wall of Death' clip from Rex. We scrambled to look up the female singer (not Linda Thompson): it's Christine Collister, from the Isle of Man.

@CoolPapaD: When I met my wife, about 6 yrs ago, it was kind of a Twilight Zone moment for us to discover we'd both seen Thompson/Fairport/Sandy Denny back in the day. So we're glad you did too!

Noam D. Elkies 12:16 AM  

New captcha = retype — how "meta".

(Something about the puzzle? OK, took me a while to find the new and improved "analyze" button on the xwordinfo crossword viewer. Strange usage of "Topologically", though.)

NDE

Rube 12:20 AM  

Went to the Mountain Play today. That's on Mount Tamalpais near SF. Hairspray. Meh. That's why I'm late posting.

Got the "door" theme fairly early on and was able to use it to wend my way thru the puzzle, figuring that every "island" had one way in and one way out. The toughest island was the one with NAVAHO because I had Apache, first! There was an Apache missile, just not the required answer. Note that the "H" of both works with HOTEL*MAN.

The worst part, though is that the "blurb" did not appear on my printed version, so did not have the clues that would have made the puzzle much easier.

AMong others, had screw-ups at pUCCI/GUCCI and SELA/SEnA-ANIL/ANIn... didn't know her and forgot the shrub.

Still, an enjoyable solve, albeit it took much too long.

andoorea carla michaels 1:07 AM  

Brilliant idea...the construction and the doors is aMAZEing, I aDOORed it!
Loved the cluing...seemed exact right amount of misdirect.
So so so cool! Whoever dreamed this up and then made it into a reality deserves major kudos. WOW.

andrea crostini michaels 1:25 AM  

ps those of you who can't get enough of Tony, check out the totally charming CrossSynergy puzzle he did this past Thursday...
You can download it from Orange's site, I think, or cruciverb.com or crossword butler...
And if the main puzzle wasn't enough somehow, check out Patrick Blindauer's diagramless. Slowly slowly those two are going to take over the world!

nurturing 7:40 AM  

Agree with PurpleGuy. Didn't like it. Spaces too small to enjoy writing in. Too many 3 and 4 letter clues. Sorry, all you fun-lovers. Not my cup of joe.

Man, I obsess about things. 10:13 AM  

Ok I know no one's going to read this, but have to empty my head of this.
Are there platitude gnomes out there, taking a thoughtful, insightful, paragraph such as Emerson's, as quoted by 'I Hate Quotations ...." and turn it into nonsensical pap such as "Every wall is a door" for the sake of selling notepads? Is the concept that we have to, on occasion if not always, reevaluate our static ideas and by doing so see a new option in life too complex, too scary for us that we have to reduce this to something as totally meaningless as walls aren't walls they're doors?

PS I would rate this as an all time great puzzle if I hadn't read the notepad, noticed that the puzzle was a series of unconnected blocs, gotten the missing doors and still didn't figure it out. Probably is an all time great puzzle, I just don't feel qualified to rate it.

man and van London 2:11 PM  

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deerfencer 2:30 PM  

In the end just found this puzzle way too random and annoying. Pass.

Anonymous 2:40 PM  

To get the quote, I pictured each island as just that, an island. I pictured these "planks" connecting the islands every place there was a "door", which made it a lot easier. If you walk the planks across to the next island, it really doesn't matter what "direction" you go in. This is one of my all-time favorite Sundays. Absolutely brilliant construction.

KarenSampsonHudson 2:52 PM  

Snow here in the intermountain west, yet stalwart grillers persist. Challenging Sunday puzzle!

removals London 3:29 PM  

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Tita 9:26 PM  

Got the quote jsut by filling the grid...once I saw E-V-E-R-Y, was pretty easy to find the rest, knowing that you had to go to an adjacent room, and end in the SE...

Knew I had to be missing something, but due to a kitchen painting project this weekend (I'll blame that), just couldn't see the DOOR thing...
My sister finally hinted around, and the light bulb went off...

Once I got it, I then decided I liked it!

Dirigonzo 12:41 PM  

From syndicationland - @JaxInL.A. said "... so satisfying that if I smoked I might want a cigarette." Priceless!

I learn much from this blog everytime I vist (i.e. every day but Saturday) which adds immensely to the fun of solving the puzzles. Thanks @Octavian (et al) for today's lesson. (And to @Rex for providing the forum.)

Would never have gotten KALE for Moolah had it not been for a
discussion here several weeks ago.

BACKDOORDRAFT is the price that our men and women in uniform and their families, but not the rest of the citizenry, pay when our military forces are overextended as will happen when the country is involved in (at least) two unfunded and probably unnecessary wars. I'm sad that the phrase was unfamiliar to so many as it has huge significance for all of us.

Catte 1:52 PM  

Syndicated here, so late to the party; but had to say I abolutely loved this one - the most fun in a long, long time.

I was really slooow getting the "door" thing, had all but one "room" completed. Then it was like "doh!". Thankfully that was also the breakthrough that let me finish the last room, which had not been working right because I had POLO for 91D (winner beats the loser with a stick) The very last letter I put in was the K in KALE, never heard of that for money/moolah either; but it was clearly the only possible choice left.

I sympathize with those few who did not like this one, nothing worse than looking forward to a good tussle with a good Sunday puzzle and end up feeling "meh" - or worse.

And @Dirigonzo - you hit the nail on the head with a reason why more people need to be familiar with the concept of a back door draft!

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

The English word for a beer pulled from the barrel is DRAUGHT not DRAFT. Another error in this crossword.

Dirigonzo 7:55 PM  

@ anony 2:03 - there's a brew pub right down the street from me that serves DRAFT beer; no mention of an English pub.

@ Catte - thank you, it's nice to know that my rants don't go completely unnoticed.

Marc 9:23 PM  

I liked this less than any Sunday puzzle I can remember. I guess I'm old fashioned; I don't really care for gimmick puzzles. Frankly, I just lost interest in this one as most of the answers were obvious and it was really 16 separate puzzles rather than one interlocking grid.

I didn't have too much trouble figuring out the theme, but it was superfluous to solving the puzzle, so it didn't interest me that much. Just not my cup of tea.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

OK, I admit it.
Re 121 across-
Please, why is "dorm" a "rice pad"?

Rex Parker 11:38 AM  

Rice is a university in TX.

novemberyankee68 7:32 PM  

I thought I would I would have seen more comments about "hajj". Have never seen it that way. Put in "hadj". Thanks for still being here for us syndication solvers. BTW-I thought puzzle was creative and enjoyable. Better than backward spellings or "creative" rebuses. Rock on Rex!

Ginny 10:17 PM  

Had a VERY rough wknd selling houses! I just couldn't figure this none out, clues were fairly easy, but the flow of the thing totally eluded me. Now that you explain, it's pretty cool. Gotta get in relax mode to get into the game I guess.

Anonymous 2:21 AM  

Love the puzzle, but I definitely agree with the "obsess"ive poster above that the "quote" does not at all mean the same thing as Emerson's thought.

man with van in London 1:14 PM  

Nice! I really enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.

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