Whimsical 2001 film set in Paris / WED 10-19-11 / Muslim palace divisions / Mast attachment / Cross aromatherapy patient

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Cross words — idioms meaning "cross" (as in "angry" or "miffed") are given jokey ("?"-style), literal clues

Word of the Day:  Guinea-BISSAU (49D: Guinea-___ (West African nation)) —
The Republic of Guinea-Bissau Listeni/ˈɡɪni bɪˈs/ (Portuguese: República da Guiné-Bissau [...]) is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Senegal to the north, and Guinea to the south and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to its west. // It covers 36,125 km² (nearly 14,000 sq mi) with an estimated population of 1,600,000. // Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Gabu, as well as part of the Mali Empire. Parts of this kingdom persisted until the 18th century, while a few others were part of the Portuguese Empire since the 16th century. It then became the Portuguese colony of Portuguese Guinea in the 19th century. Upon independence, declared in 1973 and recognised in 1974, the name of its capital, Bissau, was added to the country's name to prevent confusion with the Republic of Guinea. (wikipedia)
• • •
"CROSS" WORDS CONTEST week! All the puzzles this week, from Monday to Saturday, have been created by one person, Patrick Berry. Have your solutions handy, because the Saturday puzzle conceals a meta-challenge involving the solution grids of all six. When you have the answer to the meta-challenge, mail it to: crossword@nytimes.com. Please do not post your answers here on the blog and please do not mail them to me! Only answers e-mailed to the above address will be considered. Twenty-five correct solvers, chosen at random, whose entries are received by 6:00 p.m. E.T. Sunday, Oct. 23, will receive copies of “Will Shortz Picks His Favorite Puzzles: 101 of the Top Crosswords From The New York Times.” Only one entry per person, please. The answer and winners’ names will appear on Friday, Oct. 28, at http://www.nytimes.com/wordplay.
• • •

Cute use of idioms today. This one played slightly harder than a normal Wednesday for me, but only slightly, and some of that slowness was my own damn stuck-brain fault. I mean, blanking on the stupid Swiss canton? Who does that? (1A: Swiss canton=>URI) I wanted ARI or ULM ... bah. Never heard of Guinea-BISSAU, so that really hurt me toward the end. So did having LETS / LINUX instead of VETS / VISTA (57D: Ones out of service? / 57A: Windows operating system released in 2007). I don't know what I was thinking with LINUX, as it doesn't fit the clue at all). Other moments of slowness came not from the obscurity of the answers, but from the (to my ear) strangeness of the clue. [Homeboys] and PALS don't really hang out in the same neighborhood, language-wise. I had BROS. I don't think of an ICICLE as a point (3D: Freezing point?). It *has* a point. I have never wanted a student to say "AHA" (35D: What a teacher likes to hear from a pupil). In fact, I have never, ever, ever heard a student say such a thing. "I SEE," maybe. "I GET IT," even more likely. "I DON'T DESERVE THIS GRADE. I'M AN 'A' STUDENT," all the time.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: The cross baby was ... (UP IN ARMS)
  • 24A: The cross motorist stuck at a stoplight was ... (SEEING RED)
  • 37A: The cross man who'd been cloned was ... (BESIDE HIMSELF)
  • 52A: The cross woman taking her bubble bath was ... (IN A LATHER)
  • 62A: The cross aromatherapy patient was ... (INCENSED)
I slowed myself down by botching a few things here and there. SPAR for SAIL (15A: Mast attachment). SAUL (?) for PAUL (36A: Author of several New Testament epistles). Something about the word "divisions" made it hard for me to come up with HAREMS (67A: Muslim palace divisions). Couldn't tell what was being divided and whether there were multiple divisions in one palace or whether clue was just asking for a plural of a single division (or area) within a palace. Never had any desire to see "I AM SAM" (45D: 2001 drama whose title is taken from "Green Eggs and Ham"), though the soundtrack (all Beatles covers) is quite good. Also never had any desire to see "AMÉLIE" (8D: Whimsical 2001 film set in Paris), despite the enthusiastic ravings of so many filmies. Wait, did I say "despite?" I meant "because of."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


foodie 12:16 AM  

The word "Cross" really threw me off today... I kept wanting to find a Crossing word that somehow made it all come together. It was quite late in the game before I stopped being distracted by it, and then even later before I realized that we were talking about being Cross as in annoyed or irritated. So, in the end, my mood was slightly cross...

After I got over myself, I looked at the puzzle and thought it was very good, but may be not great, the way Monday and Tuesday were great. The HIT LIST combo GAS BAG was terrific (Gas bags are on my hit list), and ELBOWS next to UP IN ARMS! How apt is that! And it really is fun to think about the many different ways that we express irritation. I think the literal clue for BESIDE HIMSELF is fantastic.

This whole week is unfolding like a very well planned multi-course meal by a great chef with a masterful and light touch. Great sequencing of flavors, each course stands on its own but somehow complements the others. No heavy sauces, well balanced between lightness and substance, with unexpected tastes and aftertastes. Given that we have potluck as our usual fare, this is a great treat... Can't wait for dessert!

syndy 12:34 AM  

this one flowed smooth and even for me fastest wednesday in a while.I loved the theme entries and got them off the clues which speeded things up a lot.favorate clue was "item in a box with seven chambers"I hearby vow never to recommend another movie to mr parker!he's such a contrarian.

John Hoffman 12:35 AM  

GASBAG took me forever. I had GABBER for "endless talker".

santafefran 12:46 AM  

@foodie, what a great comparison of the puzzles this week to a multi-course meal. All of us foodies can resonate to that!

This puzzle was a delight. I figured out the theme at SEEING RED so the rest was a romp. IN A LATHER and INCENSED were terrific.

UP IN ARMS crossing LIMBS was a nice touch.

Thanks for all the welcome backs.

Orange 12:57 AM  

Rex, "A? HA!" should be your two-word reply to the nine-word student complaint.

santafefran 1:02 AM  

@Orange LOL!

slymi--what you do to me

davko 1:17 AM  

I too was misdirected by GABBER for GASBAG (47A), then further sent astray when trying UTTERS instead of ALTER (50D). But aside from these brief hiccups in the SE, this was a straightforward, pleasing Wednesday with a neat twist on the meaning of "cross." The contest sounds like fun, and who better than the talented Patrick Berry to be its architect. Can't imagine what's in store for Saturday... is this "meta-challenge" a first?

Campesite 1:47 AM  

@Foodie, what a delightfully apt comment on this puzzle.
This is a great example of very fresh cluing on a grid with surprisingly few debuts (just Bissau and Beside Himself). Excellent execution on this course, can't wait to taste the next pairing.

Masked and Anonymous 1:58 AM  

Hmmm...I'm definitely starting to see something... something meta-ish...among this week's first three puzs. Not wishing to be a spoiler, I shall take my leave, and say no more.

SethG 2:46 AM  


I was thinking I knew Guinea-BISSAU from that swimmer who could barely finish the 100 in the Olympics, but it turns out that's the other Guinea. Er, one of the other Guineas--someone from Equatorial Guinea is an Equatoguinean, a Guinean is from (Republic of) Guinea, and a Bissau-Guinean is from Guinea-Bissau. I know my Congos, now my Guineas, too.

PB rules.

jae 3:15 AM  

Me too for GABBER plus a brief dalliance with REPLAY. But, over all easy.

This one sort of reminded me of those book/author pairings from 7th grade... "Under the Bleachers" by Seymour Butts, "Revenge of the Tiger" bu Claude Balls, ....

Anyway, an amusing Wed. that whets one's appetite for what is to come.

chefwen 3:40 AM  

So far, this week has been super easy. No write overs, just keep churning them out. I suspect that Thursday, Friday and Saturday are going to knock me on my keester, I'm ready, bring 'em on.

As far as the contest, not good at those, but I will enjoy the results.

amelie cabal michaels 3:57 AM  

Hand up for GAbber before GASBAG.
Then I was embarrassed for knowing too many words for endless talker!

Mrs Snger, my 7th grade English teacher used to send home reports to my parents always coming up with new euphemisms for me talking too much.

"Andrea is loquacious". "She is outspoken". Andrea is talky, verbose, voluble, windy, wordy ... chatty, gabby, garrulous, palaverous, prolix, rambling, talkative."

Plus ca change...!

I got the clues but didn't see that they were all "cross", despite it literally being in the clue! Too high from bday cake and the sweet outpouring yesterday!

It was sort of INteresting that they all contaINed IN, except BESIDEHIMSELF.
(Up IN arms, seeINg red, IN a lather, INcensed) so I thought something might be going on there, or with the ARMS/LIMBS/ELBOWS.

(This upcoming meta-thing is f&(*ing with my brain!)

I don't get the TALENT/BIBLE reference. Are there monetary coins called TALENTS? Is that a new testament thing? I could only think of Shekel. Too Old Testament? Too Jewish?
(By the way @Rex, Saul became Paul)

I also thought Linux because of the five letters, second letter I, and also always expect an X.

Thank god for that commercial as a kid for syrup(?) "I'm Bobby Orr and I play hockey".

Here is a non-film recommendation:
"I am Sam" is possibly one of the worst films I've ever seen, despite the Beatles music and maudlin and sappy and faux.

And to me, Amelie was a stalker.

JaxInL.A. 4:07 AM  

This week is great fun The anticipation builds and, thanks to this place, somehow it all feels like a shared project. I'm having a marvelous time.

My daughter says it's a very young Dakota Fanning in that visually arresting Rufus Wainwright "Across the Universe" video. We are up late making a Xenon atom. She _would_ choose the atom with the largest number of electrons and protons and neutrons. She just liked the X, to start. Sigh.

(That same daughter was five when AMELIE came out on DVD. She loved it. In French. Yeah, I know, it has a racy bit, but it doesn't register at that age. And now she loves foreign films.)

BISSAU was my favorite entry in the puzzle. I worked on a big UN conference on women's health and population issues during 1993 and 1994 (another life altogether). I met scores of extraordinary African women, including a contingent from tiny Guinea-Bissau. They strove for health and empowerment under circumstances modern American females would have found intolerable, yet made a huge difference in the lives of their compatriots.

@foodie--such eloquence!

Whew! Finished with xenon. G'night.

jae 4:22 AM  

Oops, that should be "by" not "bu". And, a belated happy birthday Andrea.

shrub5 5:36 AM  

Flew through this, laying down first impressions left and right -- mostly correct. Keeping the upcoming meta in mind but so far not seeing anything of note.

@masked and anon: Bet you liked the answers to 1D and 68A.

@jae: LOL at the book/author pairings. Would like to see the whole list!

Belated greetings to the birthday girl. Hope you had an awesome classy magnificent extravaganza.

According to my desktop dictionary, TALENT is a former weight and unit of currency used by the ancient Romans and Greeks...

David 8:18 AM  

Spent about half of my time in the top half and SW on my way perhaps to an all-time Wednesday time, but since the other half was spent just in the SE, well.... Another hand up for GABBER for GASBAG, and even when I had SPIN I didn't see GASBAG, actually thought of GASSER.

Never heard of BISSAU, EDIFY didn't come to me quickly at all, also never hard of Walk Away RENEE, so it was quite a challenging SE today.

When I get a brief chuckle out of a theme answer I am happy, and I did so on several occasions today. These were fun theme answers and another very smooth puzzle.

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

Mystery of the Brown Spots on the Wall by Hu Flung Poo

Z 8:29 AM  

8 in the morning and already I've learned about Guinea-BISSAU, that a TALENT is equivalent to 3,000 Shekels, a long list of synonyms for people who talk too much, that xenon is a hard atom to model, not to bother seeing I am Sam or Amelie, and that Whisper to a Scream was not done by Tears for Fears. My inch deep knowledge has increased an eighth of an inch.

Hand up for utTERS and not knowing Guinea-biSSAU, other than being sure it wasn't naSSAU, so that section took some time. My only other write-over was AMELIa. Liked the theme and puzzle better than yesterday's, but all three have been at least very good.

Not thinking about the meta-puzzle, yet. Sort of hoping for an inside back cover of Mad Magazine style challenge just to throw all us word people for a loop.

Rick 8:39 AM  

Please excuse a silly question, but it is one that has haunted me for years re: crossword construction...

Without regard to the theme, do constuctors ever pick a letter (today = B) to pepper the puzzle with?

joho 8:39 AM  

URI! Get your ELBOWS off the table and get a move on! I REPEAT, there's not a SEC to waste! PETE is beyond INCENSED. He's absolutely BESIDEHIMSELF. Order a chill PILL ASAP! I mean, talk about being INALATHER. BERTHA told me he's got a HITLIST and plans to use it. He's UPINARMS and is SEEINGRED. He's ABLE to tear off LIMBS!

Needless to say I loved the "cross" theme. But this week so far is making me anything but mad. Can't wait for tomorrow.

@Rex, at first I thought the girl in the Rufus Wainwright video was your daughter!

Jp 8:40 AM  

Was very easy for a Wednesday puzzle (relatively speaking of course). Did not get the theme but the theme answers came naturally enough. So far this week the puzzles have been easy but remarkably fresh. Thank you Mr. Berry. It is time for me to order your puzzle books.

Leslie 8:48 AM  

Thought this was charming.

Re TALENTS, my childhood ignorance caused me to completely misunderstand that one bible story about not hiding one's talents under a bushel. I vaguely understood "bushel" to be a bushel basket--a container. But I thought the story was saying, "Don't be shy and withhold your unique skills from the world. Be bold." Which didn't really blend with the rest of the story.

jberg 9:05 AM  

I did know Guinea-BISSAU, which actually slowed me down - it made me think that GAbBer must be right, so I rejected the obvious SPIN and decided it must be baIl - in the sense that you bail from an action in order to limit the damage it does you.But INCENSED made that impossible, and then it all fell into place.

42D was brilliant misdirection. Who else was admiring the innocuous clue to sneak PEE into the puzzle?

@Leslie - I remember the parallel from childhood, and the first part, with the master handing out different numbers of talents to 3 servants, makes it clear that it's money; however, I think today "Don't hide your talents under a bushel" is commonly used in the metaphorical way you mention. These days, a bushel may be a good place to hide your money, but not your talents!

Rex Parker 9:06 AM  


Honestly, just now, as I scrolled down my post, I thought "why is my daughter in that video?" People used to make the Dakota Fanning comparison all the time, and we were like "whatever ... that's just because she's the only fair, blond child everyone knows." But honestly, the still pic that's showing on the video right now does look a hell of a lot like her.

jackj 9:13 AM  

It looks like today’s puzzle was a forced situation to accommodate the cluing for the “Cross” Word Contest and, as a result, it seemed not to reach the expected level of a Berry offering.

The theme entries were pretty obvious and rather bland to boot. No guffaws for these puny puns.

Fill-wise, EDIFY and ICICLE were a cut above, HITLIST was a definite maybe and UNREAD was good as clued, but it was even better as a reminder of that legendary ruler of England, circa 1000 AD, Ethelred II, known affectionately as Ethelred the UNREAD(Y).

The Times has created a lot of hype around this “contest”; time will tell.

John V 9:17 AM  

Easy, 11 mile-er, Stamford to Mamaroneck with 1 mile credit for ticket collection. Felt like an average Monday.

Hand up for GASSER. Last to come for me was the BEIN/HITLIST cross/INALATHER. Liked 44A clue the best!

Forgot to ask yesterday: I know what metamucil is, but what is MUCIL and how is meta-mucil a higher level of abstraction?????
MUCIL=combination of MUCH and EVIL??? META-MUCIL=higher level of much evil? Help me out here, people. I'm confused. (At least I KNOW I'm confused, which counts as meta confusion, I think.)

DESievers 9:27 AM  

Methinks Rex should not bite off his own nose for good films just to spite the filmies he can't bear to face. Watch Amelie, dude. Yeah, she's a stalker, but it's a delightful film by my favorite filmmaker. And yeah, I guess now I'm one of those detested filmies. Watch Micmacs too while you're at it--I defy you to tell me afterwards that you didn't like it.

Smitty 9:45 AM  

Some clue/fill pairings seemed questionable to me - SAIL, RETAIN (remain?), FEAT, ASAP (stat?), EDIFY, UNREAD. REPEAT (rerun?)
I'm w/ Rex on the AMALIE/contrarian thing.
@JohnV, I googled MUCIL and didn't come up with much, maybe that's what they grow at Fiber Farms...

evil doug 9:50 AM  

Concur with jackj: The trend is worrisome. I'm starting to suspect that in the interest of some goofy contest the quality of the puzzles themselves will suffer. The acceptable early-week gimmicks may lead to a forced mediocrity on Friday and Saturday just to satisfy the game's conclusion.

I never meta puzzle contest that I liked.


Tobias Duncan 9:56 AM  

So as some of you might remember, I print out early week puzzles and share them with friends at the coffee shop.Some of them have started asking for late week puzzles and are interested in this contest.
Now I am still a beginner myself and I often cannot complete Saturday. In fact if this guy really pours it on at the end of the week I could conceivably have mostly blank Friday and Saturday puzzles.In this case I will not enter the constest.
My question is this, if I encourage my friends to follow along here with Rex and sort of correct their puzzles as the week progresses, and it turns out that they are able to figure out the meta puzzle even though they technically did not get all the answers in all the puzzles, should they be encouraged to enter the contest?

chefbea 10:02 AM  

@Foodie..Great explanation!!!

Hand up for Gabber

@Rex I too thought that was your daughter

The puzzle..Loved it and look forward to tomorrow, Friday and finally Saturday

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

I notice that xwordinfo.com posted the list of puzzles in the prize collection, the ones Will Shortz picked as his favorites. Interesting collection. It includes some our host liked but many he Absolutely Hated.

quilter1 10:15 AM  

@Leslie et al: You are confusing the Parable of the Talents with a part of the Sermon on the Mount. In the parable the master gives three of his workers differing amounts of money (talents). Two of them invested and made a profit for the master. The third buried the money being afraid to lose any and returned the original amount to the master. He was punished for not taking a risk.

The bushel line is Matthew 5:15. "No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house."

I will skip the theological implications and comment on the puzzle. I really like this one. Had gabber, of course, and was corrected by GLADES, my only write over. I enjoyed the theme clues/answers, too. What a great puzzle week. I also concur that it feels like a group project.

Mel Ott 10:17 AM  

Loved this one! A 'cross' word crossword. Puns on the phrases rather than the words. All on the same theme - and five of them.

I had a similar experience to @David at 47A. Must be GABBER. No, 48D must be SPIN. GASSER? No, the 2nd half of that country starts with 'B'. Aha! GASBAG!

@Leslie: Many a preacher has used the same pun on the bibliical word TALENT, so I think your thought process was just fine.

Two Ponies 10:28 AM  

I enjoyed the theme answers and learned a few things along the way. That's always a bonus for me.
I have no interest in entering the contest however I do appreciate Will and Patrick joining up to give us regular solvers something new. Now that we have three puzzles I'm going to put some thought into what this could be leading to.
@ Masken and Anon, I wish you had a "blue" name so we could discuss your idea off-blog.

Aunt Hattie 10:32 AM  

@amelie cabal--my favorite for talking was a comment on my nephew-----"Kenny overparticipates in discussion." Now a family motto!
LOVED this puzzle--got 'gasbag' right off--but now I am scared about the rest of the week. Here's hoping...

archaeoprof 10:37 AM  

Meta or not, this is a fine Wednesday.

One writeover at 50D: utters/ALTERS.

@Foodie: love your metaphor. Maybe Will should give us a week with one constructor more often. I nominate ACME to be next!

Matthew G. 10:50 AM  

I thought this skewed Medium-Challenging for a Wednesday, although it's hard for me to judge this week because I'm solving them all on paper (to prep for Saturday's meta-puzzle), so my times are naturally slower.

Biggest slowdown came from I AM SAM, where I saw the Seussian clue and immediately put in SAM I AM. True, the GE&H character does also say I AM SAM, but the quote everyone remembers is SAM I AM, so unless you'd also heard of the movie (and I hadn't), you're going to put SAM I AM.

Had the same trouble as Rex with HAREMS. Also had REAL before RIAL, and misread the 9-down clue as a plural (giving me TALENS instead of TALENT), so it took forever to get RETAINS. Hand up for GABBER before GASBAG.

BISSAU was a gimme. Pop-culture clues may leave me SEEING RED and IN A LATHER, but geography is my bread-and-butter when it comes to proper nouns.

Lindsay 11:02 AM  

@amelie cabal --- My freshman algebra teacher sent home a report describing me as "subversive in class." Which really had no basis in truth, except for one incident where I was sitting in the back row reading The Merchant of Venice, and became aware that everyone in the room was staring at me, like Mr. Fitzgerald had been calling my name for the last 5 minutes. So I look up, he asks if I was paying attention, and of course I say "no" because there wasn't any other plausible answer.

As for the puzzle, hand up for GAbBer. Also had USn instead of USS, which made GLADES very hard to see as I have never heard of the show. And I finished with an error, lISTA. Even I have heard of VISTA, but I had the self-defeating idea that I wouldn't know a computer-related answer, and lETS looked good at 57D.

Not getting bogged down thinking about the meta-challenge, as I am still smarting over the humiliation of needing the help of everyone on this blog plus google to get Mike Nothnagel's "hole" gimmick last spring.

treedweller 11:05 AM  

my fifth-grade math teacher like to play around with our names. Pre-marriage, I was Babb, so I was frequently called "Babbling brook" in her class.

Tobias Duncan 11:37 AM  

Please disregard my earlier question as it is idiotic.The answer of course is" its none if my business".Good lord I can be a condescending prick sometimes.I am glad my friends put up with me.

jesser 12:13 PM  

As I mentioned yesterday, my work hours have changed, and since I no longer come in at 5:15, I decided it was as good a time as any to give up coffee, which I never really liked but used as an early-morning crutch. Today was Day 2 of this effort. I say this because I'm reading all the comments from people who breezed through this, and I thought it was hard. And I wonder if the lack of caffeine makes me stupid(er).

Although I had no writeovers, I stared at blank spaces in nearly every HAREM of this palace before a dim bulb would illuminate the way forward. I probably can attribute the lack of writeovers to the unusually close checking of crosses before plopping anything down in the grid. DROWSE was new to me, as were EMELIE, TALENT (by that definition) and BISSAU. This puzzle did EDIFY me repeatedly.

It also made me cross at 42A, because Pistol PETE is the mascot of the New Mexico State University Aggies, and we had him first! (I don't know if that's actually true about us having him first, but I'm sticking with it out of spite.)

My Dad used to say, "I'm beside myself. I look next to me, and there I am." I miss my Dad.

Happy Humpday, Rexvillians!

Lewis 12:24 PM  

I thought this was a relatively easy Wednesday, and now Walk Away Renee is going through my head. I'm sorry Rex didn't put up a video of that. IMO, it's a great song, with a very memorable bridge in the middle...

Two Ponies 12:31 PM  

@ Lewis, I had meant to say something about that song in my earlier comments. It really is a lovely tune, the kind of earworm I don't mind at all.
@ jesser, I say blame it on the lack of coffee.
@ Tobias, don't be so hard on yourself.

Masked and Anonymous III 12:32 PM  

@31:"I Am Sam" had primo acting; but wouldn't go out of my way to see it again. But gotta give "Amelie" a big thumbs up. (Also liked "Real Steel".) Agree with U that they shoulda left those first three Star Wars flicks alone, BTW.

@Two Ponies: You can do this without a nitwit like me. I promise. And at that, I see something significant, but not sure exactly what it will lead to in the SatPuz meta-crescendo. Meanwhile, I'm just groovin' on this PB puzzorama. It's sorta like main-linin' cinnamon rolls.

jae 12:37 PM  

@jesser -- Going cold turkey off coffee can result in some pretty severe headaches. It is better to go the taper down route. Good luck.

efrex 12:50 PM  

Very enjoyable theme. Flew through the bulk of the puzzle, then got held up in the NE and SE for far too long. Like others, had GABBER before GASBAG. Held off on SPAR before SAIL, fortunately, but initially spelled AMELIE "Amalie," which made that section just a bit more difficult.

@ACME: a TALENT ("kikar" in the Hebrew BIBLE - the only one for me, whatever PAUL might say) is equal to 3,000 shekels. Not exactly a sum that you'd use for day-to-day purchases...

hazel 1:09 PM  

I remember a PISTOL PETE but it was MAROVICH and he played for the Hawks. I was in 5th grade, and found him to be very dreamy.

And somehow all those cross people in their predicaments were very likeable. Maybe it is hard to judge these puzzles on their own merits when I'm all abuzz about the uberpuzzle. Another fantastic solve for me. Looking forward to tomorrow!!

Since we're all in sort of a confessional mode, I'll just add that I got kicked out of my Girl Scout troop.

@orange - good one!

Tony from Charm City 1:13 PM  

Good puzzle. Stumbled a little, but got through it.

@Amelie, I could be wrong, but I always thought that Paul was still known as Saul, but one was his Hebrew name and the other his Roman name as he was also a Roman citizen.

CoffeeLvr 1:20 PM  

@amelie cabal, don't feel bad about your childhood report cards, my Dad called me a "perpetual talking machine." He liked the Rube Goldberg device cartoons.

@Quilter1, thanks for untangling the parables. That's how I remember them. But when I was quite young, I thought the reason you didn't want to put your lamp (light) under a bushel was because the basket would catch on fire.

@JohnV, if you know you are confused, I'd label it meta-clarity.

@Jesser, yes, dropping an accustomed dose of caffeine will dull your mental edge. @Jae is right about tapering off, or switch to black tea, then to green tea in your MUG.

Another hand up for GAbBer. My other write over was abUsED before MAULED, but that didn't last long.

I liked this puzzle a lot! Love the consistency and balance of ease and challenge across the entire grid.

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

This is not the proper venue for this post but since everybody here is a wordie...I had lunch with friends and one of them asked if we had heard about all the "erotic" animals let loose in Zanesville. After a chuckle over the malaprop we started to come up with a list of "erotic" animals. This is a mental exercise only and we probably don't want the list on this blog but I'll start you off with blowfish.

John V 1:34 PM  

@Anonymous, so you would not want, say,Dominique Strauss-Kahn let loose in Zanesville, for example?

Apologies to our French friends.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:39 PM  

@Rick, 8:39 AM - For any info about concentrations of letters, etc, the best thing to do is to go to "Other Crossword Sites" next to Rex's write-up, and click on "Xword Info (NYT puzzle stats)". This particular question can be answered under "Words and Letters", "Record setting letter counts."

Martin 1:51 PM  

Second week of school, my second-grade teacher reserved a corner of the blackboard and titled it "Martin's Errors." It was up all year. It grew to a few entries, but not as many as the things I had called her on. Which may have been the original impetus. Either that or my first-grade teacher. In any case, she wanted to keep my parents out of it. She wrongly assumed they had something to do with it.


I salute your professionalism in defining a "favicon" file. That's the little image that browsers display in the tab that displays your page. It's much nicer than the generic blogger image.

However, something about it has been bothering me. As we approach Halloween, I've figured it out. Gray-on-black, "RP" looks like a gravestone. Like there wasn't enough room for the "I." Surely you can do something more interesting. Maybe a contest?

North Beach 1:58 PM  

Top two Canadian exports ever:

Bobby Orr
Rufus Wainwright


Al Unan 2:00 PM  

@anonymous 1:27

More erotic animals:

1. A gannet of the genus Sula, having a bright bill, bright feet, or both: some are endangered.

2. The male of any bird, especially of the gallinaceous kind.

3. A cat, especially a kitten.

4. A long-eared, slow, patient, sure-footed domesticated mammal, Equus asinus, related to the horse, used chiefly as a beast of burden.

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

Fun and enjoyable puzzle. I usually have a difficult time as the week progresses and sometimes do not finish Wed puzzles, but this was a breeze - no obscure cluing and some answers I got from crosses (BISSAU, TALENT, CABAL). Agree with Rex - BROS do not hang with PALS. I'm clipping the puzzles out of the paper looking forward to Saturday.

In a slightly related story the NYT reported a missing G tile at a Scrabble tourney in Poland. The table & adjacent area was searched and the contestants were asked to empty their pockets. The tile is MIA - the judges made a new one.

600 2:20 PM  

I like the "group project" idea growing here, maybe because I'm still kind of new and it makes me feel part of the group. (Really--I'm not as needy as that line makes me sound. I suppose I should edit . . . ah, never mind.) And I agree with all above about @foodie's gastronomical observations about the week. Nicely said!

Hand up for Gabber before GASBAG. That slowed me down a good bit; in fact, the whole SE was tough. EDIFY took forever, and Guinea BISSAU was not in my knowledge base. Trying VFWS before VETS didn't help either. I thought I was bombing the puzzle, but my overall time was about average. Also, I must say it was fun; I smiled at several of the theme entries. Along with everyone else, I'm curious what is still to come.

I loved Rufus Wainwright's Across the Universe. I'd never heard it before. @Rex--Thank you. There are very few Beatles tunes I wouldn't enjoy listening to, but I'm not always crazy for the covers, being a bit of a purist, thinking the Beatles did most of their songs just fine the first time. This one, however, was a keeper.

@Tobias--what @Two Ponies said.

@Orange--Most clever and amusing!

Rube 2:26 PM  

Hand up for GAbBer. Also had, with nothing to go on, seven where VISTA ended up. I'm one of those who still has XP on my main computer and, WinME, for reasons I won't bother you with, on my HTTP server. This netbook does have Win7, but I've never found reason to use VISTA... a truly useless OS.

Those were my only 2 writeovers. Knowing Nassau wasn't right, I had no idea about BISSAU... had to get it from crosses. Wait, also had Spar before SAIL.

I'm partial to logorrhea, a word close enough to diarrhea that it perfectly describes many people's talkativeness.

I'll volunteer the Blue Footed Booby.

Excellent puzzle.

Anonymous 2:46 PM  

i too was chatty in grade school. i remember my mother asking me why i hadn't told her that i had won a penmanship award? i said i hadn't. she said, don't you remember that the principal called your name in front of the whole assembly last week?(a teacher friend had told her.)yes, i said, but i thought i was being reprimanded for talking and hadn't heard what he said except for my name.in grad school one prof. told my husband i was rambunctious.i had surgery last thurs.and was told not to speak for a week. such torture!

as for the puzzle and meta puzzle cross seems an important word.

Martin 2:51 PM  

One and two more animals.

But some of the best are plants.

John V 2:55 PM  

@Martin. ROTFLMAO!

Make an interesting corsage, no?

captha goidew: weekend helper of the shicksa.

Sparky 3:27 PM  

Third easy day for me. I'm expecting the Monty Python foot to drop down at any moment. Enjoying it all immensely.

I'm seeing hints. The word "cross" and IN in four of the theme answers.

Wanted yakker at 47A but figured out GLADES from everglades as I never heard of the show either.

The print ads for AMELIE creeped me out with those googly eyes. Seeing the movie didn't improve things.

It has felt like a group effort. Thanks Patrick Berry, Will Shortz, Rex Parker and all of you.

Anonymous 3:31 PM  

I come here for Evil Doug's bombastic barbs and all I get today is a meh meta pun. I fear this contest might be adversely affecting the quality of his comments. Another example of the law of unintended consequences, I suppose....

Al Unan 3:58 PM  

@Martin I looked at that flower and the name and thought "surely not". But it was. I doubt we'll ever see that in a crossword.

Anonymous 4:03 PM  

we all saw this from Rex, right?

"Please do not post your answers here on the blog and please do not mail them to me!"

Or, to be less talky, verbose, voluble, windy, wordy, chatty, gabby, garrulous, palaverous, prolix, rambling, and talkative:


mac 4:13 PM  

This one was easy until I hit the SE. Gabber for gasbag was my only write-over, though.

I also thought Dakoto looks just like Rex's daughter.

I loved "Amelie". But then, I like Sting's "Every breath you take".

@Martin: that teacher should have been fired.

Stan 4:13 PM  

I always tell my friends with SAT-age children: "Tell them this: Laconic = Terse [ant.] Prolix = Wordy = Verbose." That's worth at least 10 points on any Princeton test.

mac 4:14 PM  

@Foodie: lovely post!

CBCD 4:19 PM  

I am perhaps the only person on this board today who saw The Left Banke sing 'Walk Away Renee' in concert back in 1966.

sanfranman59 4:29 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Wed 10:44, 11:50, 0.91, 31%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:26, 5:51, 0.93, 35%, Easy-Medium

long suffering mets fan 5:30 PM  

Let the record show that I am deeply offended by the term GASBAG

First, PEON then BOOBJOB and SEXSCENE and now GASBAG

One can only cringe at the possibilities that Will and company have up their sleeves in the coming days

The true scourge of our time in this insensitive, profane language -- such a major issue in a time where unemployment, civil unrest, oppressive debt, stagnant wages and a clueless leader are such trivial issues.

We are truly going to hell in a handbasket

JenCT 5:37 PM  

Looks like I'm the only one who tried GOSSIP before GASBAG.

@Tobias: LOL

@Sparky: LOL "Monty Python Foot"

I second the vote for a week of ACME puzzles!

hazel 6:12 PM  

I totally agree with @anon 4:03 Speculating about the details of the META in the comments is a total BUZZKILL Maybe just a heads up SPOILER ALERT if you want to say something specific about it. I suppose I could kick myself off the island for a few days, but that would make me sad.

@M&A - I appreciate your restraint! have a cinnamon roll on me!

Anonymous 6:15 PM  

I suppose everyone would be upset about the constant repetition of "cross"s this week if it weren't the key to the "cross" word contest.

skua76 9:07 PM  

@long suffering mets fan,
The old line "Where am I going, and why am I in this handbasket?" came to mind when I saw your post...but good grief, I've been called a gasbag and laughed about it!

Seriously, a great puzzle week so far, thanks PB...wondering what the meta will turn out to be.

I too wanted a video of Don't Walk Away Renee...off go find one somewhere between innings on the World Series.

Tomorrow perhaps I'll do the puzzle earlier so I'm not the last poster on this blog.

Z 9:14 PM  

@anon at 4:03 and Hazel - The answer is forty-two.

@Martin - any speculation about the evolutionary advantage of that shape for a flower?

@Tobias - I thought your question was whether you should encourage them to enter the contest. Since I don't see any thing to prohibit it, why not? My chances of winning the random drawing may be reduced, but by how much really? I think the societal benefits of your encouragement would far outweigh any loss to people entering the contest.

@Jesser - Food is just as likely a culprit as coffee. The brain is a major fuel hog.

@CBCD - I was not there.

@everyone - great comments today.

Stan 10:12 PM  

@CBCD: I'm impressed, and jealous.

Deetour 10:12 PM  

@anon 4:03. That is the note attached to the puzzle i.e It's what Will wrote and is refferring to the nyt blog. Might apply to this one too. Don't know.
Late to the party, but I Loved today's "cross"word theme. I also liked Amelie. I watched it in French and missed alot some ( haven't spoken French since I was a kid) which made it very mysterious and kept me guessing! I recommend you watch it in French, Rex ( or with the sound off) as it gives it an extra challenge. btw My husband came in at the end and pointed out that their is a language selection on DVDs (this was years ago - DVDs weren't that old - my story and I'm stickin to it) rewatching in English I had many "aha" moments.
@hazel. How can one get kicked out of GS?!
@long sufferring: was that tongue in cheek or straight?
@Tobias: lol on your 2nd post. And I say if you can figure out the meta even tho you missed fri or sat, more power to you!

Deetour 10:32 PM  

@anon 4:03. Wow Sorry! I was way wrong! That is not in Will's note. So much for my memory

sanfranman59 12:09 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 6:47, 6:51, 0.98, 45%, Medium
Tue 7:47, 8:53, 0.88, 16%, Easy
Wed 10:45, 11:50, 0.91, 32%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:33, 3:40, 0.97, 40%, Medium
Tue 4:09, 4:34, 0.91, 20%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:24, 5:51, 0.92, 34%, Easy-Medium

acme 4:11 AM  

STILL laughing about Kenny "overparticipating" in discussions!
Now MY new family motto. I just have to get a new family...

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

The Spacecraft was BESIDEHIMSELF laughing at the clue for the central entry. A fun do; I too had GABBER, but had a writeover of the writeover when I went to GASSER after finding SPIN. PILL was a "Doh!" headslapper; like the cross aromatherapy patient (rofl!!) I was INCENSED that I didn't get that one sooner. Nice puzzle; loved HITLIST.

Dirigonzo 6:48 PM  

A snowy, blowy day before Thanksgiving in this part of syndiland, and this puzzle was definitely the best part of the whole day. Second-best part was when the electricity came back on after only several hours. This date in 2006 was on Thursday, so let's see how Rex' Thanksgiving was back then:
- "Solving time: untimed, but pretty fast"
- "I love this holiday even more than Xmas, partly because it falls around the time of my birthday (3 days, tick tock), and partly because Thanksgiving dinner is absolutely the best meal that anyone anywhere has ever conceived. I do not eat meat, as a rule, but on Thanksgiving (and possibly Xmas) I eat turkey. A lot of it."
- "Then when I got FLOSS, I thought that perhaps the theme was that letters were being FLOSSed out of a word the way you would floss stray bits of stuffing out from between your teeth after Thanksgiving dinner. So I was trying to think of a letter that, when spoken aloud, sounded like something that gets caught in your teeth ... then somehow "F" separated itself from "LOSS" in my head, and I got it."
- "
REA stands for Rural Electrification Administration. Pantheon B-List Captain Stephen REA wants to know how anyone got clearance to clue REA this way without his prior consent. The matter was tabled until after the holiday weekend."
- "What I like most is the showy versatility of the letter "A", which dances around this corner in so many different guises: "I'm a letter! Now I'm a symbol! Now I'm an indefinite article!" I just realized that this particular letter "A" is a little bit flaming. Good for him. Most of the non-theme fill in this puzzle is a little on the boring side, so it's nice to see "A" flying rainbow colors down there in the SW. Now if he could only get "G" and "Y" to come out and march with him."
- ""Open up this damned Pantheon! You hear me, Asta?! How you gonna keep me out? I'm ERIQ @#$#-ing La Salle! I was on the biggest show on television! When you need the "Q," who brings the "Q"!? That's right, me. You all were stuck with @#$#-in' IRAQ before I came along. So what? - I'm good enough to do all your "terminal-Q"-work for you, but I'm not good enough to get into the Pantheon!? That's discrimination! No? Well I don't see any black words in there, do you? You better open these doors and let me in.""
- @Anonymous added this comment: " Nice to have some Thanksgiving laughs, Rex, and I'm beholdin' to you. You might clean up tabeled, though. Labeled, yes. But tabeled, no. Maybe it was the tryptophan...."

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP