Beer served without artificial carbonation / SUN 9-4-11 / Hero of John Irving best seller / Word derived Latin uncia / Highway route from Dawson Creek

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Constructor: Dana Delany and Matt Ginsberg

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging? I really don't know, 'cause I quit mid-solve.

THEME: "That's Disgusting" — "IC" (i.e. sound of "ICK") is added to familiar phrases (which sometimes does and sometimes doesn't involve changing the spelling thereof), creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style.

Word of the Day: REAL ALE (2D: Beer served without artificial carbonation) —

Real ale is the name coined by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in 1973 for a type of beer defined as "beer brewed from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide". The heart of the definition is the maturation requirements. If the beer is unfiltered, unpasteurised and still active on the yeast, it is a real beer; it is irrelevant whether the container is a cask or a bottle. If the yeast is still alive and still conditioning the beer, it is "real". (wikipedia)
• • •

I have very little to say about this one because I quit about a quarter of the way through. It was OK when it was just an add-a-letter (or two letters) puzzle. Theme answers I had, like ISLE OF MANIC and CLASSIC ACTION SUIT, were kind of forced, but whaddyagonnado? It's Sunday. [interlude: ISLE OF MANIC what!?! "MANIC" is an adjective! ... but moving on ...]. But I had what looked like gibberish for 22A: Heads-up in Ireland? No idea about several of the crosses. REAL ALE? REALly? EEW!?! That's the spelling!?!? (6D: "Ick!") I had EEK at first because I didn't realize EEW was a thing. Had LTD for LLC (5D: Cousin of Inc.), barely remembered ANA (7D: Tennis's Ivanovic), etc. And then when I hacked (and I mean hacked) my way through it all, the resulting answer was GAELIC WARNING. "But ... what's a GAEL WARNING???!?" I look it up. It is some Irish music band.

"But ... they can't possibly be famous enough to be the base phrase for a theme answer. This ... They ... They can't possibly mean GALE WARNING, can they?" All theme answers I had, to that point, were simple +IC answers. No spelling changes. Also, GALE WARNING is not that familiar a phrase to me—no more so than [insert natural disaster here] WARNING. I was already finding the fill a little wobbly and the cluing a little precious and then GAEL (ugh) WARNING happened and I just quit. For the first time ... possibly for the first time since I started blogging. I mean, I've quit puzzles in the middle before—they just haven't been NYT puzzles. Turns out other theme answers in this puzzle have spelling changes too. Huh. Oh well. Don't care. I can live without having to have written in ECRUS or ISTS or TELEO- (66D: Complete: Prefix) or (dear lord in heaven) ARS (48D: Married couple?). That's how you spell out the letter "R"!?! How would anyone know? IC.

Theme answers:
  • 22A: Heads-up in Ireland? (GAELIC WARNING)
  • 29A: Superman's attire, e.g.? (CLASSIC ACTION SUIT)
  • 40A: Farm pails? (RUSTIC BUCKETS)
  • 64A: "I feel the earth move under my feet," e.g.? (KING LYRIC)
  • 70A: Fancy garb for Caesar? (FINE TUNIC)
  • 83A: Antisthenes, notably? (ORIGINAL CYNIC) — again, glad I didn't have to solve that one. Pick a "cynic" that I believe that you actually know and have heard of.
  • 98A: Something talked about on "Today"? (TOPIC OF THE MORNING)
  • 111A: Extremely occult? (GREATLY MYSTIC) — "greatly miss" is your base phrase? Wow. OK.
  • 3D: Vacation spot that's crazily busy? (THE ISLE OF MANIC)
  • 51D: Prank involving a hammer and nails? (CARPENTER ANTIC)

Here are some proper nouns that maybe you knew and maybe you didn't:
  • 13A: Hero of a John Irving best seller (T.S. GARP) — the "T.S." part being less well known than the GARP part.
  • 19A: Beverage whose logo was once the bottom half of a woman's legs (NEHI) — interesting. One thing this puzzle did have was a raft of interesting trivia clues. See also: ARP (105A: Surrealist who avoided the draft by writing the day's date in every space on his induction paperwork); "ALIENS" (52D: 1986 film shot partly in a decommissioned power plant); and INCH (80D: Word derived from the Latin "uncia," meaning "one-twelfth").
  • 20A: Actress who co-starred in "Havana," 1990 (LENA OLIN) — she's in crosswords all the time, but doesn't really have a definitive, go-to, recognizable star turn that a clue can rely on.
  • 27A: Australia's Great ___ Basin (ARTESIAN) — no idea.
  • 47A: City raided in "Godzilla Raids Again" (OSAKA) — that is a Great movie title. Now *that* is a play on words I can get behind.
  • 50A: ___ Highway (route from Dawson Creek) (ALCAN) — Dawson Creek the TV show, or ... whatever, it didn't help me get ALCAN.
  • 57A: Boxer on season four of "Dancing With the Stars" (LAILA ALI) — So, just this weekend, I've been expected to be familiar with "America's Best Dance Crew" and "Dancing With the Stars." I can't wait for next Sunday's "Toddlers & Tiaras" clue.

  • 120A: "The War Is Over" writer/singer (OCHS) — Phil. Good name to know, crosswordwise. Well before my time.
Anything else? Not really. 9D: End of July by the sound? (LONG I) — the astonishing convolution of that clue pretty much says it all. Why isn't the clue [Sound at the end of July?]. WHY!? OK, I'm really stopping now. I'm kinda absorbed in the "Toddlers & Tiaras" clip now anyway ...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


hst 12:17 AM  

I agree that the inconsistency was troubling, as were some proper names (got "Cruz" from crossings and good guess and had no idea where "Dawson Creek" was supposed to happen...among other vague reference points). Really threw me as I worked down and had many holes after a first pass. Best part for me was the "TS" in Garp (I'll admit, I'm a fan of John Irving). I'd hoped for something more... I the long holiday weekend.

syndy 12:19 AM  

SO CRANKY-Ihad all the missteps rex had but I enjoyed working them out!GALE WARNING is the one before hurricane warning!come one this one had some GOOD stuff-KING LYRIC!CARPENTER ANTIC! gotta love it. I thought we had agreed to overlook an OOLALA or two on a sunday?

George NYC 12:26 AM  

I quit too. Just didn't want to go on. I did appreciate the Word of the Day, however.

operapianist 1:21 AM  

My favorite part was realizing that Nehi, by virtue of its logo, is essentially a homophone! Who knew?!

I worked way too hard on this... took me almost an hour, and I can usually nail Sundays down in 30 or less (major exception that was actually worth it: Heaney's brilliant Flag-Day puzzle from 2010).


jae 1:32 AM  

Around an hour for me too. KINDA sloggy. Same issues as Rex. The inconsistencies were distracting. Medium-challenging seem right. I finish it but I'm away from my DVR so I have time to kill.

JaxInL.A. 2:08 AM  

What @syndy said.

And I loved all the trivia in the cluing. Not a stellar puzzle, but worth finishing. Which I did in respectable time for me. It had a few fun "aha" moments.

Sometimes Rex's write-up can be a real buzz-kill, even when the buzz was just a tiny warm feeling. Funny thing is, he still has a really fun and interesting take on the puzzle. But if he didn't solve it, how did he get the completed grid?

Anonymous 2:23 AM  

So this was co-constructed by THE Dana Delany? I, for one, am impressed, and will grant her much slack for any imperfections, since I can neither act nor create crossword puzzles, much less both.

I think Rex got a little hung up on spelling issues here. The theme answers work perfectly well based on how they sound, spelling entirely aside. I finished this quickly, surprising myself, since it was one of those puzzles that seemed really daunting on my first pass--so much white space, so many clues that rang no bells at all. Then it all fell into place very quickly. Can't say it was one of my favorites, but it was a satisfying solve.

jae 2:43 AM  

Ok, if this one was really co-authored by McMurphy I retract my "DVR/time to kill comment." I would have finished it no matter what, sloggy or not. Yes, I'm a fan!

jae 3:30 AM  

I meant "seems right" and "finished it", sorry about that.

Anonymous 4:07 AM  

I guess I'm not sophisticated to have disliked the puzzle. I found it to be the same quality as most Sundays, not amazing, but fun. And as long as I learn something new, I'm happy. Ars, I will say, I don't get, if someone could explain?

evil doug 4:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 5:23 AM  


I'm proud of you. We just had this discussion a month or two ago---about quitting a lousy puzzle rather than being obliged to finish what we start like it's a sworn oath. I've quit reading books within a hundred pages of the end. I've walked out of movies in the final half hour. Why should a bum puzzle be different?

Some of your regulars here were apoplectic with the idea. But the solution is still available, and why should you be obliged to grind through garbage on our account? Let them fill in the commentary as they would anyway. Rest yourself for tomorrow....

Dana Delaney DOES have nice Nehi-caliber legs, though....


fmcgmccllc 6:52 AM  

I hated this puzzle. I could not find an icky way to like this. No.

Clark 7:17 AM  

Semi-puzzle partner, good friend and sometime travel companion who lives in Barcelona, and I tried something new and did this as a trio on skype. The three of us have done puzzles from exotic places in the past -- including just down the road from Chefwen's place, fortified by her terrific muffins. This time only Barcelona guy was in an exotic place, but we could see it over his shoulder. Anyway, we enjoyed the puzzle, and I think I would have enjoyed it had I done it solo, though I will never know.

Growing up within spitting distance of the Keweenah waterway (which connects with Lake Superior either to the NW or the SE) makes 'gale warning' a very familiar phrase. Maybe that made all the difference--as in, not getting it could be like getting up on the wrong side of the bed. KING LYRIC was the best.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:17 AM  

@Anonymous, 4:07 AM - "MaRRiage" has two "r"s.

I thought we were supposed to be looking for minor glitches like 41 D, TANNIC, which fit the structure but not the idea of the theme.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:18 AM  

Or 27 D, ATIC.

Overall, I liked the puzz.

exaudio 7:29 AM  

I totally enjoyed this puzzle and loved the theme answers, with my favorite being CARPENTERANTIC. One glitch, this Michiganian had learned back in elementary school that MICH, not WISC, is the birthplace of the Republican Party. A quick glance at google listings shows that Ripon, Wisc. and Jackson, Mich. both make that claim.

Gill I. P. 7:39 AM  

Well...hmmmm...I liked HAVARTI and LAILA ALI. Let's see...oh yes!
LENA OLIN is a terrific actress. I saw the movie "Havana" and thought it had some plausible scenes in it. Anyone who was alive in Cuba in 1958 will always remember New Year's Eve. It was on that date that Batista gathered his millions of pesos and fled the following morning to the Dominican Republic. Castro was celebrating in Santiago and proclaimed Cuba "his."
The gambling scenes in the movie were, as much as I can recall, pretty accurate. Havana oozed intrigue. Its lure was great; a beautiful island, corruption unchecked and plenty of money to be had. Ahhh, those were the days...
Oh, and I liked ZIP IT.
Off to the Greek festival today to stuff my self with spanakopita and dance some syrtaki like a fool.

MaryBR 7:54 AM  

This clocked in a shade quicker than usual for a Sunday for me. Was surprised to see that some found it difficult - seemed to be on my wavelength and while it took a while to get into, once rolling I got right through it. Didn't mind the spelling changes in the theme and found many of them quite clever. But that's just me.

Glimmerglass 8:10 AM  

Rex, I'm giving you a pass on this one. Everyone has bad days. Today's puzzle was no worse than the average Sunday, and better than some. The theme was cute in places. I liked ORIGINAL CYNIC (I didn't have to know Antisthenes -- the pun gives the answer), and KING LYRIC. Living on the NE coast, I had no trouble with GAELIC WARNINGS. I was disappointed in the theme answers that did NOT change the spelling. The fill was interesting in places, as you noted, and had no more than the usual number of clunkers (ARS was one, I agree). My take: Medium

Martin 8:11 AM  

"Why isn't the clue [Sound at the end of July?]. WHY!?"

Maybe because New Yorkers aspire to spending the summer "by the sound." That would be Long Island Sound, which separates the ritzy North Shore from ritzy Westchester.

The fact that LONG I subliminally invokes Long Island Sound is icing on one of the most memorable clues of the year.

ATTENTION the month that was 8:21 AM  

"The three of us have done puzzles from exotic places in the past -- including just down the road from Chefwen's place, fortified by her terrific muffins."

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

terrific muffins

aromoff 8:30 AM  

I liked this puzzle - so was surprised at how many didn't even want to finish it! A couple of things:
GREATLY MYSTIC - the base phrase is "greatly missed" (not "greatly miss")
KING LYRIC - refers to a Carol King song
And, yes, about the "End of July by the sound" - with the LONG I answer, is referring to summer on Long Island on the north shore by the Long Island Sound.
And all the small craft warnings in that area also mention "GALE WARNINGS" - it's for the boaters
This is a whole lot better than yesterday's puzzle with all the weird names.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

Would have liked the puzzle more if the clue had been "Like Antisthenes or Diogenes?" As it was, I kept reading the clue as "antihistamine."

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

TWISTED! Hated the ARS especially with RAS above, didn't get it at all until Rex's comment. Took forever but couldn't quit. Ingeniusly twisted. Loved king Lear & original sin & even greatly missed. Clever.

mmorgan 8:38 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle and its "inconsistency" -- it made the theme answers more fun. First one I got was GAELIC WARNING... and the last one I got was KINGLYRIC, which was my favorite.

YontifSadie 8:44 AM  

Did someone explains the ARS answer to anonymous yet?
It's really bad. ARS is the plural for the letter "R" of which the word married has two or a "couple".

Dais 8:48 AM  

I'm hoping someone will take the time to look at this because it is making me crazy. I am doing a NYT puzzle from the 90s called :Missed Connections" and figured out that the theme answers dropped "OR" and "AND" but can't figure out how the answers relate to the clues. I've tried anagramming them but still didn't come up with anything. I'm doing the puzzle from a NYT collection but found the following on line.

Thanks in advance if anyone figures this one out!

Craig Rodwell 8:51 AM  

I thought GAELICWARNING was wordplay on the signs common in the early '70s warning out of towners visiting Greenwich Village that they were entering a Gay Bar.

Blue Stater 9:28 AM  

I'm with Rex. I Did Not Like This Puzzle One Bit, even though I finished it (in pretty good time, actually).

mitchs 9:32 AM  

Wow, the ultimate pan from Rex! I enjoyed this one more than many Sundays simply because it was tougher going for me. Also, I don't mind the phonetic puns mixed in with the straight spellers.

I've quit a few recent Sundays that were just slogs and have been surprised when they were given adequate marks here. Quitting a NYT puzzle is usually just a quirky decision. When done by Rex, it morphs into something that's equal parts thought provoking and entertaining. I would only add that if Ms. Delany needs comforting I volunteer.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:48 AM  

@Dais - I looked at the link you posted, and I can't see the whole puzzle, but just working out the far NW corner leads me to conclude that the theme clue is almost a cryptic. That is, The Gateway city is the desired answer, and since you are "fogged in" and missed the connections, you have P(OR)TL(AND)(OR)EGON, or PTLEGON. Not the usual daily Times method of cluing. I assume the same works for BALTIM(OR)MARYL(AND), etc.

Does this help at all?

SethG 10:00 AM  


Martin 10:04 AM  

The World's Worst Puzzle for Landlubbers: not only is a gale warning a thing, but it has its own flag.

Aleman 10:04 AM  

Cask Ale is the more widely used term now.

r.alphbunker 10:05 AM  

It took a while for me to get the theme, but then I had an I C moment. The puzzle took longer than usual but I never thought to stop. Perhaps people are still worn out from yesterday's puzzle.

M07S 10:09 AM  


Harry 10:21 AM  

I seem to remember another Sunday puzzle relatively recently where the theme answers were also misspelled to accommodate the theme endings?

Anyway, I was not enamored of this puzzle. I felt like it was trying too hard, which made me try way too hard! Despite some of the truly clever theme answers, the fill felt really forced. Individually I could live with some of the stretches but, taken together, they didn't make for a pleasurable solving experience.

Z 10:30 AM  

I have to agree this was way better than yesterday's puzzle.

Since the sounds never change, just the spellings, I think the spelling issue is not an issue. Although "missed" to "MYSTIC" is a stretch.

Too many letters as words with cutesy clues. One a puzzle should be the limit and we have three - ARS, ELL, LONGI. Really, one a week should be the limit.

Normally I would be upset with the WISC clue (those Badgers are such dirty liars) but these days I say, "you can have them - and please take ours."

captcha - raubst - a blue ribbon winning real ale.

JC66 10:36 AM  


I hope you're OK.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Dang, Rex. Who p*ssed in your cheerios this morning?

Z 10:40 AM  

BTW - Pearls Before Swine has a croc solving the NYT Crossword storyline this week. It also involves explosives and walls - which seems to be pushing the envelope a little the week before the 10 year anniversary.

Noam D. Elkies 10:47 AM  

Wow, that's how much you write about a puzzle "have very little to say about"? ;-)

—NDE (captcha = redight = Yuletide brothel district? Also inferably "clothe(d) or equip(ped) again [archaic]".)

chefbea 10:51 AM  

I too gave up. Too confusing.

Only thing good about it and tasty was Havarti...I'm sure @Mac will agree

joho 10:55 AM  

Of course @Rex is allowed to have his own opinion, after all that's why we all come here so eagerly everyday, but sometimes, like today, when the write up is so negative, I find it off-putting and almost unfair. C'mon ... Gale warning is a thing, not just an obscure band and you completely missed "missed" so it's hard to take your objection seriously.

I, for one, enjoyed this Sunday because it was harder than usual and I thought the theme answers were on the most part very clever.

@Dana Delany ... don't you be discouraged! Many of us really enjoyed it, probably most of whom don't comment. So thanks to you and Matt Ginsberg!

My favorite wrong answer today was having soNGLYRIC before KINGLYRIC which made the Columbia athletes the LoONS! Loved King Lear!

(Don't film critics have to sit through the whole movie when reviewing or can they walk out mid-way through?)

jackj 11:01 AM  

A Sunday puzzle which adds an important achievement to Dana Delany's already impressive C.V., which has Rex wallowing in an unseemly hissy fit and which gives many of us an enjoyable solve, seems to offer a reason for us to give thanks.

How can we not take pleasure in KINGLYRIC which cleverly ties to KNOTTY (which was brilliantly clued as "Labyrinthine") whose "Y" is then used in ORIGINALCYNIC. That's good stuff in just a small space of the puzzle!

The Arp clue was priceless and to add just a bit to the story, when he finished his induction paperwork he took off all his clothes, and, naked as a jaybird, turned the forms in to the German officials, whereby he was promptly told to go home (mission accomplished). Arlo Guthrie could have taken a lesson from Jean(Hans) Arp.

Lastly, is there any other 8 letter entry possible which offers constructors the treat of so many vowels as LAILAALI?

Thanks, Dana and Matt for a pleasant divertissement.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

Did Rex have a bad vacation? Is he sad that summer is ending? I see nothing in this puzzle that makes it the object of such scorn. In fact, I kinda liked it once I got into it. For once, knowing the theme didn't automatically allow you to guess the answers. It was hard enough to last all the way through breakfast. There may be some age bias here too. I can see how folks under 40 (or 50) have a tougher time with the older pop culture references - although I haven't a clue when it comes to Dawson's Creek.

Norm 11:13 AM  

I thought this was a very cute, entertaining, and easy puzzle. So the spelling changes. Big deal. I had fun try to see how many of the themes I could work out without any (or with a very few) crosses. Not many, mind you, but the whole thing left me with a smile on my face. Sorry that some of you didn't enjoy it. There are times I've felt that way about a puzzle that people felt was great. Different strokes for different folks, and all that.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Dana Delany can do no wrong, despite what Rex says. I see most who like are all anonymous and Martin is defending his territory.

In fairness I come down on the side of those who say that this is like most recent Sundays and maybe a little better. Rex goes with spelling and Z says it's sound. I go with sound as the theme, so I like it.

Besides if there is anything wrong with this puzzle it's all Matt's fault. Not because I have been a Dana Delany fan since Tombstone but because Matt is the expert.


Anonymous 11:30 AM  

I found the puzzle puzzling and therefor entertaining. Got the whole thing in under an hour without the need for help of any kind. I always feel my depth of knowledge and ability to find connections have failed me when I need help.

My 2 Cents 11:45 AM  

GAELICWARNING was the first theme answer I got, I liked the wordplay. The next several were just the addition of IC to the end of a phrase, and I felt cheated by these.

Had it been the other way around, had I gotten several "add an IC" and had to parse GAELICWARNING, I'm pretty sure I would have been pissed off.

GenJoneser 11:46 AM  

Hand up for liked it, but did find a lot of clues/answers on a bit on the annoyed side: TICKED OFF/ANGERED, THIS HAS GOT ME FUMING/I'M MAD, BUTTON YOUR LIP!, YIKES!, EGAD!, DIE OUT, BETRAY, EEK!, BOTHER/AIL, CYNIC, SAD, MAO. Perhaps this is what put Rex in a bad mood?? But to LURK on the bright side we did have pacifists OCHS & ARP, a NICETY and C'EST SI BON. Happy Labor Day Weekend all!

nanpilla 11:48 AM  

Dawson Creek is a town in British Columbia, and has nothing to do with a TV show named Dawson's Creek. I am in the middle of reading Neil Peart's wonderful book Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road. He mentions riding through Dawson Creek, so it was still fresh in my mind.

Liked this puzzle more than Rex. The inconsistency of the spelling bothered me a little, but the pay-off was worth it IMO.

It did seem to have an angry undercurrent:
Ticked off
Tick off

deerfencer 11:56 AM  

On the same page as Rex with this one and also quit halfway through. Way too much garbage fill and poor cluing. I'd rather be cutting the grass--not one of my favorite chores BTW.

slypett 11:57 AM  

Looking back over the grid, I can't see what it was that so disgusted me. I wanted to quit, not once, but many times. I thought originally that the theme was changing -y to -ic, because a rust bucket is an aging, ill-maintained ship. I persevered, because I have nothing else to do on Sunday morning.

CoolPapaD 11:58 AM  

I'm with @joho and others - I really liked this, and the wacky phrases were neato! This seemed very typical for a Sunday, and while the cluing was tricky in spots, I finished in the average range for me. Even if I dislike a Sunday, I won't ever give up - it's not like it's a major part of my life. On the other hand, I have been trying to get through Infinite Jest for the better of the last year, and am finding it challenging. I've had to put it down more than a few times, but I won't ever quit. And THAT'S a huge commitment!

Mel Ott 12:23 PM  

I tend to like this kind ofpuzzle more than @Rex and some others. I enjoy figgering out the code and then getting some 'aha' moments during the solve. This one was ok as far as the genre goes. Not great, but OK.

NOAA issues four levels of warnings in marine forecasts:

Small Craft Advisory

Gale Warning

Storm Warning

Hurricane Warning

This past week we got all four.

@Martin: Thanks for pointing out the double entendre in the LONG I answer. I missed that. Very clever.

syndy 12:27 PM  

@JOHO, I have a friend who used to usher(USH?) at a theater in Hollywood that ran the new releases for free for the critics (Ebert et al).He sais they all smoked like chimneys and spent more than half the movies in the alley behind the theater

Lewis 12:27 PM  

I enjoyed the solve; I am thrilled when I don't resort to Google, and I didn't.

It seems like this blog often ends up with a TOPICOFTHEMORNING.

Dais 12:36 PM  

To Bob Kerfuffle -

Makes some sense and I had thought of that but it seemed pretty lame. Thanks for giving it a try and responding.

600 12:48 PM  

First, having seen Rex's comments on FaceBook, I was sure I'd have trouble with this puzzle. I didn't. I didn't like the spelling inconsistencies, but they didn't ruin the puzzle for me. As some have said, it wasn't that much different from other Sundays in that way.

I had no idea what a "rust bucket" is. I had to Google it after I finished the puzzle.

My favorite moment was when I finally gave up on soNG LYRIC and found KING LYRIC. Nice aha for me--and until I came here, I didn't even realize it was a theme answer. A bigger AHA! (And I taught Shakespeare and hence Lear for years!)

I thought "lurk" (which I did here for several years) and "beets" were nice shout outs.

Here's why I come here: I thought I got the answer "LONG I." Turns out I was way off! Thanks, @Martin!

@Z--This fellow Michigan native (gander? ganian?) got a big laugh out of your comment.

@chefbea--You didn't even like the BEETS?

Not great, not bad. An okay, about average, Sunday for me.

ArtO 1:06 PM  

Solved it after a long slog. Got a laugh this morning when wife, who had not seen the puzzle, said "did you see the bottom of the glass with the toothbrushes? That's disgusting . IC!"

chefbea 1:11 PM  

@600 said I did like beets. Forgot all about them since I DNF

Tom Q 1:12 PM  

Since my earliest "-ic" solves were the same ones as Rex, I had the same reaction when "Gaelic" and "mystic" turned up to alter my expectations. (Plus, I'd made an early commitment to "Celtic" for the Irish)

Anyone who's seen The Unbearable Lightness of Being is unlikely to ever foeget Lena Olin.

mac 1:23 PM  

I had a hard time getting started on this puzzle, with lots of white in the NW and a growing sense of panic. Then The Isle of Manic gave it away, and I was off.

The King Lyric is my favorite also, and, @Joho, I had song lyric first too, resulting in snotty and loons! I thought a lot of the cues funny and quite good. Lurk seemed a bit strong, but it helped with Osaka instead of Omaha.

Yet another talent for Dana Delany! I liked her devious role on Desparate Houswives.

Joel 1:27 PM  

C'mon Rex, that's ridiculous. Stopping a solve halfway because of an inconsistency/bad theme answer? Finish the whole puzzle, and then judge it. Movie reviewers don't walk out of the theater after a particularly bad scene. And if they do, I'd be surprised if they feel like they could pan the movie without staying for all of it.

The puzzle was decent, as many have said. The theme wasn't great, but the wide-open fill was an interesting change for a Sunday. And what the theme lacked in sparkle, it somewhat made up for in sheer volume.

I can't believe that so many people are panning this puzzle like it's the worst part of their week or something. So it had some flaws. So do all puzzles. But to say it "disgusted" you or made you quit is ridiculous. It's a crossword puzzle, for heavens sake.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

KINGLYRIC is one of the great answers of all time. I've officially decided to stop looking at this blog, ever. I actually like crossword puzzles, I like games, tricks, puns, puzzles within puzzles - that's why I do crosswords. Reading a blog by someone who apparently hates them is just sucking the fun out of the whole thing.

CoffeeLvr 2:00 PM  

Gosh, Rex, I quit too - last night - then came back now and nearly finished. Ended up with one wrong letter where CRESt crossed tNYIC. Obviously missed the abbrev. tipoff with vol. in the clue for CRESCendo.

I didn't hate this puzzle, but it wasn't the smooth Sunday morning brew I prefer. I knew I was in for a fight with the clue for 5A, foliose. Finally got that one after I was looking at ?E?FLIKE - "OH! foliose means like foliage!" There were lots of other clues where I just wasn't on the right wavelength, especially last night. I will give myself props for not resorting to Check. Although when I finally finished, that is, filled every square, I did use Reveal, as I just didn't care enough to find my error or errors.

It will be much shorter to list what I particularly like: Phil OCHS, Carole KING LYRIC, HAVARTI & REAL ALE & BEETS (add a loaf of RUSTIC bread and there's a meal for you!)

Kingdaddy 2:02 PM  

Way too many abbreviations. The NY Times crosswords increasingly depend on this cheap tactic. Who knows how someone might abbreviate a word meaning increase in volume, or which of many alternatives that word might be? Enough already with the abbreviations.

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

Fun puzzle...until I came here. Just because a puzzle gives you a little trouble, don't trash it. Every puzzle gives someone trouble. Or was it that Rex quit, you had to be uber and quit too? So much moaning, so little time.

Sandy 2:14 PM  

I hated today's puzzle but less than yesterday's. That was the first Saturday one I ever walked away from. Way, way over my patience leve.

tom s 2:15 PM  

This is why we can't have nice things.

Taking A Break 2:23 PM  

@#31: Wowza, dude. Good mornin', sunshine. Sounds like yer pencil plumb ran out of gas. At least you can greatly agree with the SunPuz title, nest say paw? Har.

Well, SunPuzs are kinda an endurance test, I reckon. Designed to be played with cinnamon roll accompaniment. And here's a dude that endures a lotta these things, on the graveyard shift. I give him a sympathetic "incomplete" on this one.


600 3:28 PM  

@Taking a Break: Hmm. @#31? What am I not getting, please?

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

Spanish for river. Spanish for what's in a river.

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

@600: @#31 = @"the 31st Greatest Crossword Solver in the Universe" = Rex

hazel 3:56 PM  

pretty standard Sunday fare. i am gobsmacked at Rex's ennui - his determination that the puzzle was too wretched to complete. absolutely gobsmacked. its like jorge posada taking himself out of the lineup, for God's sake. it just isn't done. I mean Matt Ginsberg deserves some respect, not to mention the rare celebrity constrictor. gobsmacked.

Granted, i will take myself out of the lineup whenever i consider the puz a slog (e.g. yesterday) because, for me, "slogging" through a crappy puzzle takes real effort and time - but Rex? it'd be like 10 min. very puzzling. and interesting. i sense a change in the air.

Dave 5:09 PM  

Agree with disagreeing with the review. The large NE and SW sections are well-filled, the theme density is solid, and (other than the NW) the fill is very solid for the amount of open space and longish crosses here. There's been an increasing amount of petulance in these reviews- I'm begining to wonder what makes a *good* puzzle.

fergus 5:19 PM  

Just saw "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" last night. Now that is definitive LENA OLIN! Even more so than for Kathleen Turner in "Body Heat."

Teddi and Teddy 5:19 PM  

Good one! Loved the Long I and the gale warning. But feel inadequate because the hot solvers gave it a thumbs down. Can't really see why

Matt Ginsberg 5:29 PM  

Holy cow, Rex! Mr. Cranky I expect from you, but this seems a bit over the top.

Yes, this was a pronunciation as opposed to a spelling theme. I actually like those much better; more interesting from the crossword perspective. I'm sorry that you somehow concluded -- wrongly -- that it was an add-a-letter theme instead.

A couple of clues that didn't make it through the editorial process: [What Clark Kent changes into?] for CLASSIC ACTION SUIT and [Readin' and writin'] for ARS. Not that either of those would have changed Rex's mind, I expect.

Next Thursday's puzzle is mine, as well (with a different and sadly less attractive co-constructor). Hopefully Rex and I/we will be more on the same page that time!

David 5:31 PM  

@joel, Actually, Roger Ebert once famously wrote a review of a movie that he walked out of after watching about 10 minutes. I think it was a few years ago, but am not sure.

Still, I am also surprised at the comments here today, obviously precipitated by Rex's not completing the puzzle. I thought it was fine, I had little to no issue with any spelling quirks and there were only a couple of theme answers I didn't find so clever (eg RUSTBUCKETS). My only problem is this whole EEW EWW AAW AWW thing. Well, which is it? I had EEK in for EEW b/c I didn't think EEW was an answer, and that gave me GAELICKARNING, the first two syllables of which was a big hmmm....but I figured out my error. Gale Warning was fairly familiar to least as familiar as Gale being an 8 on the Beaufort scale, as per the Lollapuzzoola final puzzle.

foodie 5:33 PM  

This is why I suck at puzzles: I did not know who Dana Delaney was...(!!!) because I watch TV in only a spotty way. So, I miss lots of names, shows, pop references... I just looked her up and watched her on YouTube and I think she's a very cool lady. Good for her for being so multi-talented!

And of course, Matt Ginsburgh is great.

I found this puzzle fun and easy! That's probably because proper names were few and far between. I don't usually love this type of theme, but some of the answers were amusing, and the clues fun and informative. I'm not thrilled with the self-referential clues with sound effects-- ARs, LONG I etc... But in general, I liked it better than most Sundays.

archaeoprof 5:41 PM  

FWIW, I liked this puzzle too. Harder than a typical Sunday, but eventually it all fell.


FINE TUNIC however, is a bit off: Caesars wore togas, not tunics.

Stan 5:46 PM  

A very successful and amusing puzzle. But why bother explain why? Rex's complete disrespect has taken any conversation about the actual puzzle and made it impossible.

Rex needs a break. Or a back-up. At the point where he's thinking "'Gale-warning' is just not an English phrase!" he should turn the whole thing over to someone else for a while. Other bloggers do it. No-one could keep this up 24 X 7 X 365.

Stan 5:49 PM  

Oh, that would be 24 X 7 X 52. (I'm not good at math.)

DigitalDan 6:14 PM  


FWIW, although I generally agree about odd abbreviations, in music notation, "Crescendo" is almost always abbreviated as "Cresc."

I expect the NYT Sunday puzzle to express a wide range of personalities and quirks, and to take a while on a Sunday morning. I'm seldom disappointed.

600 6:54 PM  

@Anonymous, 3:43 p.m.--THANK YOU! Of course, now I just feel stupid . . .

And, because this is my third and last entry for the day, I'll add here that Lena Olin in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" is unforgettable. Too bad I've never seen her clued for that performance. Not that she hasn't been; I just haven't seen it. And thank you, fergus, for reminding me of the remarkable Kathleen Turner performance in "Body Heat."

I love when constructors show up here, especially on a day so many have had so much to say, not all kind. And, because of something Rex wrote a couple of days ago on FaceBook, I'm thinking I might know who the less attractive co-constructor might be. Congratulations, Mr. Ginsberg, for the maybe not-so-subtle dig!

I'm thinking no one will ever read this--might be the last post for today. Oh, well.

Jenny 7:37 PM  

Just got back from a several days' trip out of town and thought I'd catch up with one of my usual pursuits. And *man* is this crowd wearing its collective crankypants lately!

I don't get it. Thought Friday's puzzle was easy and smooth and sooo much fun. Did the Saturday puzzle without stopping or Google. I join the crowd who considered the possibility Mother Teresa had been born in Skokie, but I simply refuse to believe so many of you could be unfamiliar with Kit Kat (jingle or no jingle). "Must be candy?" Um, yeah. Like Snickers. And I didn't see anything out of the ordinary about today's puzzle. Simmer down, people.


JenCT 7:54 PM  

I quit this puzzle about 1/3 of the way through, and was pleasantly surprised to find that @Rex quit also!

Didn't hate the puzzle, just couldn't care about finishing it. Too nice outside today.

Give Rex a break, everyone!

foodie 8:19 PM  

Even though I liked this puzzle (above) and even though I understand why the constructors would not be PLEASED by Rex's response, and may even be ANGERED to the point of SHRIEKing, I have a somewhat different take on Rex's actions.

It's hard to predict how anything will strike anyone. Give me the same puzzle on two different days and I will feel very differently about it. So, Rex was not in the mood to do this one, something about it, may be even minor, may be a change in expectation about the theme, caused him to want to stop. So he did... This is not a religious rite, it's a puzzle. If he weren't writing the blog on a daily basis, there would be no consequence to his stopping. And by the way, he still went on and blogged about it... There are consequences only if we forget what the premise of this blog is.

As far as I can tell, Rex has consistently tried to maintain the authenticity of his gut reaction. The blog is very personal, does not pretend to be objective, and he tells us what he feels without VARNISH- If he starts to feel obligated to finish, if he tiptoes around things and worries about repercussions from friends or foes, the whole thing would be ruined.

I for one come here to hear a singular opinion, a perspective from a very bright and experienced solver, but an idiosyncratic one. I think what I think, feel what I feel, but I greatly appreciate the fact that he lets me in on how he does.

Anonymous 9:07 PM  

One of the fun parts of doing a NYT puzzle for me is trying to predict Rex's opinion of a puzzle. But in no way did I expect this one. Personally, I enjoyed the puzzle. I like it when the theme helps you out (you can guess the theme answers with only a few crosses).

JenCT 10:27 PM  

@foodie: well said.

Anonymous 11:31 PM  

What a Debbie Downer.

KarenSampsonHudson 11:49 PM  

I finished the puzzle, but without much joy. Dana Delany? My husband is a big fan....

michael 1:35 AM  

Liked the puzzle, It's rex's blog and we can agree or disagree with him. Not the first time I think he's totally off-base....But that's part of the appeal of the blog.

Kathy G 10:11 AM  

I thought the puzzle was fine. ic only sounds like ic so were were going for sounds, not spelling here

Armin 10:15 AM  

We liked it.... Interestingly, I think Rex's Facebook post yesterday set us off in a wronig direction.....


Typical Rex -- has trouble with puzzle and it's Wah, Wah, Wah!!

I enjoyed this Delaney/Ginsberg Sunday adventure ...

edmcan 3:18 PM  

Remembering the name of the puzzle, greatly assisted in the solution. I didn't think it was all that bad.

captcha: twition - ha, ha, ha

Anonymous 5:30 PM  

Ars was a bit much but otherwise I thought this one was pretty good.

nurturing 1:41 AM  

I liked this puzzle a lot. Didn't have to google. That Dana Delaney was a co-constructor was cool. That I finally remembered Michael Cera's last name was gratifying. That I, a pen user, had almost no write-overs, was terrific. That it only took a couple of hours (maybe less - I didn't check) was great - I look forward to my puzzle every week and WANT to spend time with it!

Live in Canada, but from Long Island. Also thought of what happens by the LI Sound at the end of July as a possible way to go. Glad the clue was ambiguous. Had it been what Rex suggested, it would have been a slam-dunk, now that I'm on to these types of cluings. (Still took time to get the R's in married, however).

Now, where do I go to check my answers to Will Shortz's "Split ends"? I'm missing two sets and wonder where I messed up.

nurturing 2:15 AM  

Went to NYT's Wordplay blog to answer my own question (above). I wasn't the only one with two sets left over that didn't make sense. Now I know they make perfect sense! I should have thought more like a regular crossword solver for those two.

Anonymous 6:21 PM  

I don t understand where this puzzle differs from the usual remove a sound add a sound switch a sound that seems to be the only thing NYT synday has learned or delivered for awhile. I guess Rex had a bad day.

Noodle (AKA normand)

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

Lots to nitpick about, chiefly: could we stop lettering and start wording? We're being inundated by ars, ells, long i's and the like. Enough! But on the whole, a good solve. The aha moment with adding -ic (ick?!) is pleasing. I had no such trouble about the first theme answer, as did RP, but like someone said, everybody's entitled to a bad day. I, for one, enjoyed it--and not just because I finished with no help and no errors.
I usually post later than this, and would post as "spacecraft" if I could get it to accept. All I know how to do is hit "anonymous" and that works. Sorry for being so behind, but syndication is what it is.

Linda 5:39 PM  

The puzzle is credited to Dana Delany and Matt Ginsburg. The actress is Dana Delaney. Spelled differently, so I would assume it's a different person.

Did you all have your tongues in your cheeks or just confused?

BTW, I enjoyed the puzzle. Doing it on September 11, and my Chiefs just got routed, so I needed something pleasant to do.

Dirigonzo 6:16 PM  

From syndiland, my recollection of the situation a week ago, when @Rex was doing his write-up of this puzzle, is that Rexville was experiencing severe flooding in many areas, some perhaps not too far from his home. I think he deserves a little slack for not finishing the puzzle; in fact I think he deserves a lot of credit for even bothering to post his comments when there was so much else going on to occupy his attention. I do hope that all Rexites remained safe and dry throughout the emergency.

@Linda - my paper spelled her name Dana Delaney, so I think it is the actress. Might your paper have made an error?

Truly/Truely Confused 6:29 PM  

Wikipedia says "Delany" and every citation to the article except one agrees. What is your basis for saying it should be "Delaney"?

Deb @ 12:54 AM  

I'm assuming it is the actress, if only because five weeks later no one has come in to say "BWAHAHA, you idiots! It's not HER." As for how the actress spells her name, she actually commented on it in an interview about her own crossword puzzle habit and her (misspelled) appearance in a NYT puzzle. It's "Delany."

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

I've been doing the NYTimes puzzle
for years and always look forward to a relaxing Sunday to enjoy it.
However, as of late, some of the puzzles have been overly obscurantist. Instead of enjoying the challenge, I get frustrated and angered consequently upsetting everybody around the house. Hope to see some future puzzles that are actually solvable for someone with an MA in Philosophy. Til then,
I'll stick to Chess.

Dickamm 2:17 AM  

I STILL don't get the "head of England" clue resulting in the fill of "ELL". This clue has always been for "LOO". Do the Brits abbreviate "loo" with its first letter? My London lady says she's never heard of that. She suggested "ELL" for "Elizabeth"? But that's not only remote, it's wrong! (Unless they call her Liz?)

Q E II 6:14 AM  

@Dickamm - If all else fails, read the clue! It says, "Head of LONDON?" (emphasis added.) "Head" = "First Letter," L = ELL, standard crosswordese.

Sarah @ Baby Bilingual 6:01 AM  

Catching up on past puzzles while nursing my baby in the middle of the night...delurking for the first time here....

I was thrown off by ALCAN, but not because of the confusion between the city and the teen-angsty tv show (filmed in my hometown of Wilmington, NC), but because I thought the answer was ALASKAN highway, requiring a rebus answer with "ask" in the middle of the word. So I tried to squeeze "ask" into other squares as well before realizing that I was making this puzzle even harder for myself!

Putting baby girl and myself back to bed now, hopefully for the last time tonight (er, this morning, that is).

Stan 3:18 PM  


I have tried to invent rebuses that weren't there more times than I can count.

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