Building toy brand / THU 11-3-11 / Monarch moniker for short / Wood used in Voldemort's wand / Apt name for crime boss

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Constructor: Parker Lewis

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: idioms literalized — common phrases following the structure "___ IN A ___" are represented with the first part of the phrase "literally" inside the second part; thus, e.g., "Needle in a haystack" becomes HAYNEEDLESTACK

Word of the Day: MERC (11D: Chicago exchange, informally, with "the") —
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) (often called "the Chicago Merc," or "the Merc") is an American financial and commodity derivative exchange based in Chicago. The CME was founded in 1898 as the Chicago Butter and Egg Board. Originally, the exchange was a non-profit organization. The exchange demutualized in November 2000, went public in December 2002, and it merged with the Chicago Board of Trade in July 2007 to become a designated contract market of the CME Group Inc. The Chief Executive Officer of CME Group is Craig S. Donohue. On August 18, 2008 shareholders approved a merger with the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and COMEX. The Merc, CBOT, NYMEX and COMEX are now markets owned by the CME Group. (wikipedia)
• • •
A very clever theme, though more Wednesday than Thursday material. Once you pick up the gimmick, the other theme answers come very easily. There is some vagueness in the clues here and there that toughens things up slightly, but from the shape of the grid (heavily segmented, with lots of 4x4 and 4x5 sections) to its content (basic vocabulary all around), this doesn't quite have the zing or imaginative spin that we're used to in Thursdays. But that's not the puzzle's fault. It's very good for what it is. Simple, neat theme that I can't believe hasn't been done before. I had one minor and one major (stupid) misstep—the latter is one that I doubt any other solver replicated. So, I had TWERP instead of DWEEB (37A: Weenie)—TWERP is a much better answer for that clue, but whatever. I fixed it, no problem. But then I put in WALK for 35A: Promenade. No part of me ever doubted this or questioned it, even when it left me with KONGNECK (!?!?) (36D: Certain beer bottle) and IWAC (31D: Jobs plan, once). It was only after accepting that the Jobs answer had to be IMAC that I got to MALK ... and then, after checking the (ridiculous) "K" cross, to MALL (sidenote: no way on god's green earth that you can justify cluing an IMAC as a "plan"; I see that you wanted to do something cute with Jobs there ("Jobs plan," get it!?), but no. A computer is not a "plan," especially without a "?" clue. Also, playing on Jobs' name in clues is Old Hat, so if you're going to do it, it better be spot-on).

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Nearly impossible target, literally (HAYNEEDLESTACK)
  • 25A: One who's enraptured, say, literally (CANDYKIDSTORE) — I was thinking "Left Behind" here ... 
  • 46A: Inadvertently destructive sort, literally (CHINABULLSHOP)
  • 52A: Something rapidly deteriorating goes to it, literally (HANDHELLBASKET) — figured out this one without ever having to look at the clue.
  • 1A: Certain lamp goo (LAVA) — Should've been a gimme. Wasn't. I wanted something sooty. I was thinking lampblack. I don't know what I was thinking.
  • 16A: Monarch moniker, for short (QEII) — first guess. In four letters, it seemed probable. Placement of "Q" (in second position in the cross) also seemed auspicious.
  • 26D: Wood used in Voldemort's wand (YEW) — in three letters, it could've been several woods, but I had the "E" from SEEN, and just guessed YEW. Seemed the only reasonable guess at that point. 

  • 56D: Building toy brand (K'NEX) — this brand falls into that uncanny valley of children's entertainment, between the time when kids' entertainment had fallen off my radar (college, roughly) and the time it came back on (A.D., Anno Daughter, 2000). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are in there somewhere too.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:15 AM  

don't get 3D "first part of an I.P. address" = Very??? can somebody help me out here???

MaharajaMack 12:27 AM  

Love that one, actually. An unusually important fellow is a VERY important peron, and one should address him as such. Definitely a clue I only got from the crosses, but the trick was delightful.

Thought the retched use of QEII and KNEX was a hint of a pangram, but no such luck.

MaharajaMack 12:29 AM  

*wretched, though almost retched at their use

foodie 12:29 AM  

It took me a while to tumble to the theme. Got it at HANDHELLBASKET
and then it was easy after that. To me, it felt like a Thursday because of the gimmick.

Liked LONG NECK and SQUATTER... that's the long and short of it...

Tobias Duncan 12:30 AM  

I am with you anon 12:15 WTF?
This one went down smooth except for a few tough spots.QEII was brutal and I stared at S_UATTER for what seemed like a lifetime. My Latin is terrible so the north west took a while.
I read To Kill a Mockingbird in junior high man Jem was no gimme for me.Almost went with Jef/fink

Campesite 12:35 AM  

The I.P. is Important Person. I agree it was closer to a Wednesday, but the theme wordplay was fairly cute. It reminded me of a story about the US Postal Service in Bill Bryson's "I'm a Stranger Here Myself." A letter was claimed to have been successfully delivered to


Which the USPS sorted out was to be read "John Underhill, Andover, Mass."

Anyway, the Senate bailed out the postal service today, not that this has anything to do with today's puzzle. Carry on.

Anonymous 12:43 AM  

Thanks, MaharajaMack... I was locked into thinking in 'computer mode' on the I.P. address. You're right... that is pretty cute! (even though I couldn't figure it out!)

Paka 12:46 AM  

Hi again Crossworld,

It's great to be back again so soon after my debut in August! In elementary school, I was first introduced to Wacky Wordies and I've always been partial to that kind of visual wordplay. This puzzle began with the phrase 'right between the eyes' which I imagined as EYERIGHTEYE. After a lot of brainstorming, I came up with these four theme answers. I originally tried to used an A at the start of each entry (ANEEDLEHAYSTACK) but I think it works far better without. After placing my theme answers, I tried to find some interesting entries for the four 8-letter downs. I like BESTBUDS and LONGNECK (which I associate with the Land Before Time series) but I admit ASCENDED is pretty weak. I really wanted to change it to FRIENDED (a la Facebook) or to SHREDDED but filling that top middle section was very tough. I first had SPLATTER in the top right, clued as 'What blood might do in horror movies' which I guess was a little too graphic. Will asked for a rewrite due to some blah fill in a few corners. I resubmitted with several different options and this is the result! He suggested NOMATTER but I chose to go with SQUATTER even though it necessitated the ugly QEII.

Looks like Will changed about 20 clues outright and slightly altered 15 or so more. A few clues I wish he kept were:
Portmanteau pollutive for 10A
Extra life, in video games and some pinball machines for 28D (Mario's green mushroom!)
Giggs of Manchester United fame for 29D
Appropriate nickname for certain dinosaurs for 36D

I do however like the new clues for 10A and 46A. 31D is new too but it doesn't quite work for me, although Jobs does deserve the accolades.

My favorite clues that were left unchanged are:
First part of an IP address? for 3D - a bit unwieldy but I was playing off the phrase 'very important person'
Apt name for a crime boss for 23A
They may ring or have rings for 30D
Chimpersonators? for 66A - gotta spice up that trite entry somehow right?

Glad I was able to work in JEM (what a great book), KNEX (I still have three huge boxes in my closet), and KENYA (I spent a semester there and became fairly fluent in Swahili which is how I originally clued it).

Thanks for the comments and also to Neville F., ACME, and Finn V. for test solving! Hope to be back again in the future!

Anonymous 12:47 AM  

Also had WALK for "promenade" for a while.

"Jobs plan, once" is strained, but legit: the point is that the iMac was a plan before it became a reality. That's why the clue needed the "once".

Gill I. P. 12:49 AM  

A fun enjoyable puzzle. I knew I would like it with just the 1A clue. Then Chimpersonators bounced in as well.
More, please, Parker Lewis.

r.alphbunker 12:50 AM  

JEM/MINK baffled me for a while. No recollection of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and I really wanted the weasels to end with an "s". Otherwise puzzle was straightforward.

I am in Alaska, the land of the 6PM NYT crossword puzzle, for a month. Did the Merl Reagle National Brain Game Puzzle on the plane. If my destination had not been Alaska I wouldn't have finished it in the air! It was much more difficult than the recent PB meta puzzle.

Aaron 2:06 AM  


Very nice puzzle, I thought. Two thoughts:

(1) Although I don't entirely think pangrams suck, I think this puzzle provides a good argument against them. (Namely, surely the F and Z could have been forced in there, but it probably would have made a very good puzzle worse.)

(2) Does this seem to anyone else like the third in a sequence of "split" themes?

davko 2:07 AM  

Ah, so it was goo in those lamps. I always wondered what would ooze out if you broke one, and if you'd need a HazMat crew, like you do with today's asinine "energy-saving" light bulbs.

This felt more like a Tuesday than a Thursday, and I missed that little extra brainteasing element that a good Thursday is suppose to deliver. The theme was fine, but the rest felt unimaginative and padded.

chefwen 2:42 AM  

Thanks for commenting @Paka, it's always fun to get the constructors processing thoughts.

Like @Foodie it took me a while to grasp onto what was happening, but when I did, it was pure fun. 56D was a new one for me, I wanted Lego but LENA nixed that.

Attn. Rexites - I was at the hair salon today, gotta do that every few weeks to fend off the aging process. Whilst under the dryer I was leafing through a Sunset Magazine and ran across a little blurb about a place in Mt. Vernon, WA called Rexville Grocery Mkt. Sounds like a store/deli/cafe/ souvenir everything kind of market. They even publish Rex Recipes in the Rexville Report. Anyone it that area needs to check it out and report back.

jae 2:51 AM  

Easy solve but I had to stare at the finished grid for a while before I caught the theme. Clever and a nice aha. I also toyed with WALK but KONG ruled it out.

agenda clara mallchaels 3:19 AM  

I test=solved this? No wonder I got the theme at HAYNEE------ and felt like I had done it before!
But that didn't stop me from love love loving it!!!!!!!!!
I think it's wonderfully fresh and I paticularly liked BESTBUDS...

Hand up for not getting the VERY clue, thanks @MaharajaMack!

I am too old for KNEX but learned that from one of my own puzzles (I think the last one with Michael Blake about partners)!

Dumbstruck that I did the whole wALk/kONGNECK thing as @Rex...and had to run the alphabet for _ASH.
(Oddly, I ran the alphabet backwards, as I thought convert might be in brainwash.

@Aaron, I would have danced around the room had this been a pangram...or even if he had included a Z, and left out the F!

I had LEvy for LEES which was wrong in many ways, too many to count.

As a constructor, pleased to see that there is a singular way to have BAHAMA, which looks like some sort of cryptic clue for AH OBAMA.

Back home after weeks away in Boston, NY, snowstorms, surprise Conan taping, parties, family meltdowns, Sunday puzzle with the real PB, mini-reunions, puzzle lunches with Joon, then Tony O. I am pooped.

Anyway, super puzzle, super kid,

JaxInL.A. 4:11 AM  

So very glad to have you back, @agenda. Your absence did not go unnoticed. Thanks for weighing in yesterday, as the posse was being readied at the stable for the search.

Not surprised that Rex rated this easy. Who was it (@JohnV?) who observed recently that a week of PB's meta puzzles seems to have kicked up the solving skills? I feel like that.

Thanks, @Paka, for the puzzle and the narrative. Keep 'em comin'.

@Campesite, I like the address story. And I'm a lot happier paying tax dollars to keep the post office going than I am to bail out the (still too big-to-fail and under-regulated) banks.

Masked and Anonymous 5:01 AM  

This one had a dejavu-osity vibe that I just couldn't shake. Drove me nuts. (Not a long trip.) Stayed up to all hours just tryin' to think what other puz it reminded me of.

Finally found one in the NYT way back on 3 Feb, 2000. Not the same theme entries at all, but somewhat the same approach. (Y'all might want to go back in the vault and work on it, so won't give away any of its theme answers here.) Har. Now I can sleep soundly.

P.S. I like today's puz a lot. Other than it kept me up way too late.

Anonymous 5:19 AM  

Like OTHER Anonymous (above) the IP thing ran me nuts. Fortunately, left the four-letter 'Promenade' blank until I had a couple of crosses, avoiding the tangled path Rex took.

Aw, c'mon, Rex. Jobs' great strength was his visionary ability to PLAN the next big thing--making the clue for IMAC quite apt. And shouldn't we allow at least six weeks after his death before declaring any reference to him as 'Old Hat?' Be nice.

dk 7:35 AM  

@Acme...Conan taping???? You are such a tease :). So just do not say anymore about that and see if we care. And, welcome back.

This one was fresh and fun as noted by the one I SAVOR. And even a reference to he who must not be named... cool

Like my puzzle twin at times Tobias I did not get QEII even with SQUATTER. That fill added about 5 minutes to what was on its way to a record Thursday.

As a young dk on swim teams we would often intimate that we swam with the Santa CLARA team in the off season in an effort to psych-out our opponents. Always supportive dad (if a joke was in the offing) got me a Santa CLARA shirt of some kind... I tried to use it as a lure for the really cute girls who also swam but instead of ONEUP I got game over.

Note: For those of you who did not swim competitively in the late sixties Santa Clara was the godhead of swimdom.

*** (3 Stars) Fun and easy... just like me.

Z 7:48 AM  

Thought about walk, but never wrote it down. Like others, caught the theme in hell. Everything else was breezy and clean except for the NE, which just kept me staring.

And the Senate did not "bail-out" the post office. They announced a plan to fund a basic government service. The USPS is right there with the USMC, USDA, FAA, and other government functions that are not optional.

dk 7:51 AM  

Thanks to all for yesterdays tips. I am off to the big city to acquire the elusive farro.

I would like to add to Evil's comment on grammar from yesterday and suggest that table manners are also important. My parents each had a long handled wooden spoon at the ready for any utensil misuse, elbow misplacement or noisy mastication. I have found that if you are polite, speak well and can navigate a place setting people like having you around... well not in my case but you know people in general.

Lojman 8:02 AM  

DO RE MI = Bread? Money? Wha the...? But...? Anyone???

Otherwise love it. Got 3rd & 4th theme answers without any crosses after figuring out the gimmick, time was more a fast Wednesday.


jackj 8:06 AM  

What a clever, fun puzzle from another of the younger constructors!

Forget crosswords for a moment, if this was an episode of “Murder She Wrote” and Jessica Fletcher was on the prowl, it would be titled, “The Case of the Missing Rebus” and sub-titled, “INA, we hardly knew ye!”

The theme entries are not only all in the language, they are phrases most everyone has used in conversation at one time or another. Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt with this puzzle, it just brings forth letters to help fill the grid.

To top it off, the fill is also first-rate with LONGNECK, SQUATTER, KNELL, BESTBUDS and the very clever VERY which, when added to I.P. gives you VIP for the address.

This was a primo product, Parker; please bring us more of the same, soon.

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

I also need someone to explain the doremi link to bread. Anyone, please?

Rob C 8:18 AM  

@ Lojman & Anon

DOREMI is slang for money (bread)

jberg 8:21 AM  

"If you ain't got the do re mi,
If you ain't got the do re mi,
You better go back to beautiful Texas,
Oklahoma, Kansas City, Tennessee.
California is a Garden of Eden;
A Paradise to live in or see -
But believe it or not
You won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi."

Not sure who wrote that, maybe Woody Guthrie?

Anyway, neat theme, fun to solve, easy for a Thursday, even though I finished with an error. I don't know this Olin woman, so I had LoNA/KNoX - figured the latter were like Lego, only made of gold. My grandmother was a Lena, so I really ought to learn about those with that name!

efrex 8:24 AM  

Anon: "Do re mi" is a slang term for money amongst some folk (never heard anyone younger than my father use it, but so be it).

Kick-butt theme, and kudos to Mr. Lewis for fitting all the "in" words right in between the two-word or compound word phrases. I would have been fine if answers looked like HANHELLDBASKET, but this was quite neatly done.

Natick at KNEX/LENA (figuired it had to be an e or an i, but guessed wrong). Writeovers: had DINERO before DOREMI and LEGO for KNEX. Like Rex, had IWAC, but that's because I thought 35A was WALL, for reasons that escape me. Resisted putting in FOG before ICE, or I'd still be working on this one.

evil doug 8:27 AM  

Fun stuff. Lava lamps, pirates getting lashed, (V.)I.P.s, Samantha's wacky Aunt Clara, bald tires, a '49 Merc, longneck best Buds, and yew-ranium.

Parker Lewis can't lose!


AnnieD 8:31 AM  

Bread=money=dough=do re mi
slang for cash
Green stuff

Nice puzz. Thought the theme was fun and only tripped at knex thinking lego should be it.

joho 8:45 AM  

I really loved the theme, so fresh and original. I'd love to know your list, @Paka, as I could only think of one other --GILDEDBIRDCAGE -- but it's not as wacky as what you choose. Great puzzle! And thanks for stopping by.

SethG 8:51 AM  

My friend Helena's middle name is Handbasket.

evil doug 8:55 AM  

...and while we're talking about Parker Lewis, I had kind of a thing for Melanie Chartoff as Principal Grace Musso.
[Cut back to George attempting to explain his cowardly actions to Robin, her mother, Eric the Clown and a fireman from the back of the ambulance at the party.]

GEORGE (voice is hoarse from screaming): I...was trying to lead the way. We needed a leader! Someone to lead the way to safety!

ROBIN [as played by my gal Melanie]: But you yelled "get out of my way"!

GEORGE: Because! Because, as the leader...if I die...then all hope is lost! Who would lead? The clown? Instead of castigating me, you should all be thanking me. What kind of a topsy-turvy world do we live in, where heroes are cast as villains? Brave men as cowards?

ROBIN: But I saw you push the women and children out of the way in a mad panic! I saw you knock them down! And when you ran out, you left everyone behind!

GEORGE: Seemingly. Seemingly, to the untrained eye, I can fully understand how you got that impression. What looked like pushing...what looked like knocking down...was a safety precaution! In a fire, you stay close to the ground, am I right? And when I ran out that door, I was not leaving anyone behind! Oh, quite the contrary! I risked my life making sure that exit was clear. Any other questions?

FIREMAN: How do you live with yourself?

GEORGE: It's not easy....


David 8:58 AM  

Great puzzle. Also had no idea on the IP Address clue, almost threw in a B for VERB just for the hell of it, until NEEDLE showed itself and then the theme became clear. Oh, VERY?!

Had all kinds of trouble in the middle. Stupidly put in DWARF for DWEEB, which led to ROE for EEL and FASTBUDS for BESTBUDS, and ultimately MULE IN A CHINA SHOP. Fortunately I saw the light and MULE became BULL, ROE changed to EEL, etc.

John V 9:18 AM  

Loved this theme! Got it at HANDHELLBASKET. Best clue obviously is 3D, which I solved with the crosses but like others just kept thinking Internet Protocol, blithely ignoring the question mark. Wanted LEGO at KNEX, PATH for Promenade, which had me at IPAD for a while. MERC was easy for me, as was the entire puzzle; 18 miles, Stamford to Pelham.

@JacInL.A. -- PB did kick things up for me. I cannot ever remember being on such a roll. (Tune in this Saturday to see ROCKJOHNVHARDPLACE). Just saying.

Welcome back ACME. Hope you loved what passes for autumn weather in Northeast this year.

CFXK 9:25 AM  

Actually, I think the IMAC clue is clever and on target. As reported in the NYTimes on August 24, Steve Jobs was personally involved in the design of protects and held over 300 patents (in his name, among others) for these designs. Among his patents were design plans for the IMAC. I read the clue as referring explicitly to his patented IMAC design.

ArtLvr 9:35 AM  

Hi all - Trying to post one more time! I wanted to mention a book "To Hell in a Handbasket" by H. Allen Smith, the writer ("Rhubarb" etc), not the former Senator... It's an illustrated autobiography centered on the life of newsmen in '30s, heavy drinkers all, and includes pals of Smith's such as the father of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

quilter1 9:50 AM  

I really liked the puzzle and the theme although I DNF. The SE got me as I never heard of KNEX and I knew Lego was wrong. Oh, well, the rest was very enjoyable. Glad to read the constructor's remarks, glad ACME is back, glad it did not snow yesterday, glad tomorrow is payday. Going to do some gladhanding this afternoon. :)

John V 10:01 AM  

And that would be @JaxInL.A., at 9:18.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

How about "Jobs project"?

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

Grand Cayman, Grand Canary before Grand BAHAMA. Oh, what a tangled web we weave!

Two Ponies 10:32 AM  

Once again @ jackj explained it best.
I liked the clues for "a slow" which also could have been parsed/clued "as low" and the funny clue for tired old apers.
Thanks for stopping by @ Paka. Is Paka Parker said in a New England accent?
@ chefwen, Funny about Rexville.
Before Don was obvious I considered Rob.

foodie 11:25 AM  

@chefwen, that Rexville grocery is a hoot!! They mention being in Sunset Magazine! Their Rex is quite a presence-- Here are some posts from Facebook:

"rexville grocery- Aug. 6

Bring those food skeitons out of the closet this afternoon, win a prize at the White trash food festival. Prizes in the appitezer, main course and deserrt catagories,. PBR on tap and live country music. Food judging at 2 pm. After the judging the tables are open for goood! eatin

OR Rexville Grocery Sept. 17

Oktoberfest this afternoon, great German bier, tasty German salads and Brats!! 16 piece German band to help drinking songs. Three bucks at the door for the band

rexville grocery- Oct 14:

‎5 bucks for a slice of Stuarts artisan pizza and a pint from a new brewery, the American Brewery. Tonight 4till 7. This also may a time to test your Halloween costume, good reaction , go with it or a little time to tweak it for the upcoming party here! Nobody wants to do dishes on Friday nite

And favorite comment on Aug. 6th:

" Aw man ... I bet I coulda placed at least with my Jimmy Carter Cheese Ring"....

What have I done! I hope our Rex forgives me ;)

PS. @Raul, thanks so much for digging up the history behind Rexville and Malapop! Makes you the Rexville historian...

Lojman 12:00 PM  

Thanks all for clarification on DO RE MI. I've been harboring a secret satisfaction that I didn't get fooled by MALL, VERY or KNEX, but still grumbling about DO RE MI (out of use 1920's slang + obscure Woodie Guthrie song reference = grumble grumble). Guess I'll just have to get over it!


Stan 12:06 PM  

I'm easy to fool. Not only did VERY make no sense to me, I wanted a horse for 'Italian mount' and a standard comparative for LITE (part of the beer sub-theme?)

Fun puzzle!

Mel Ott 12:07 PM  

Terrific theme!

3D had to be VERY, but I would not have gotten the VIP thing if I stared at it for a year.

59D had to be JEM and I remembered the girl in To Kill a Mockingbird was Scout, but couldn't remember if JEM was the brother. Must be time to reread that great book. Great movie too, and I'm not a big movie guy.

QE II is a common abbreviation for the ocean liner. Not so much for the queen herself.

Scott 12:19 PM  

MINK is not a plural. Stupid clue.

syndy 12:32 PM  

I put in DWARF for 37 across altho it made me think of Evil studmuffin to do it-I also had WALK/KONGNECK what the heck?@PAKA don't listen to OLD 31 Keep'em coming!! LOVED this one so so so much fun!

MikeM 12:54 PM  

Anon 10:11. Exactly the same island hopping for me. Grand Cayman, then Canary, then BAHAMA. Also questioned the plurality of MINK. Loved this puzzle, made the busride into the city very enjoyable.

John V 1:02 PM  

Looks to me that MINK is the first choice, MINKS second choice for plural. Interesting enough, this is not true for FINK, which is always FINKS. Just sayin'

archaeoprof 1:19 PM  

Agree that this one felt more like Wed than Thurs. A very good Wed or Thurs.

On 21A my ship navigated into "fog" before it ran into ICE.

Return of the Masked and Anonymous 1:35 PM  

Mmmm argggh [stretch]--slept like a baby. Darn near comatose. Like a FEATHERMUTTBED. Helps to have the puz all conquered, and those dejavu feelings put to rest.

I'd think most constructors would look at this theme and say "Of course! Why didn't I think of that?" Way to THEREGETFIRST, Paka. CHINABULLSHOP looks the coolest of the bunch in print, for some reason.

Fave fill: JOKE/JEM and QEII/MERC. Don't know why. Must just FUNKYBEMOOD.

Fave cluing: "Weenie" and "First part of an I.P. address".
"Scout's brother" gets an honorable mention, since my first thought was "Tonto's horse had a brother? What cool name could he have had?" JAY? REX? BRO? SCOOT? SCAT? It got worse, after that.

ThUmbsUp, Paka dude.

Clark 1:40 PM  

DO RE MI is so great as slang for money that it—all on its own—makes doing crossword puzzles worthwhile.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:42 PM  

Very nice puzzle, if not quite a LIFEONCETIME experience.

Jeff Chen 2:18 PM  

My LA Times debut used a similar theme:

But I sure like how Parker used catchy phrases! Well done.


acme 2:25 PM  


see, it's harder than it looks!

600 2:30 PM  

I really liked this puzzle. Completely agree that VERY is the best clue/answer, but I also thought the misdirection on AGENDA was clever. Actually, I don't think there were any clues and answers I didn't like. (I hated VERY when it was absolutely impossible for me to understand. Now I love it.) The puzzle felt fresh and clever, and I had fun solving it, though, as others have mentioned, the NE was pretty brutal and the last to fall.

@Paka--I still consider myself a rookie in Rexville, so I'm always delighted when constructors stop by. Your remarks added another dimension to my enjoyment of the puzzle. However, I'm sorry you thought ASCENDED was pretty weak. I liked it and felt pretty good when I got it.

Now to other important business: Acme on Conan? Why are we not all demanding dates and times? Come on, Andrea. Tell!

Also, thank you, @Z. We all fall into the trap of words like "bail out" way too often, and you are absolutely right. (Though I also agree that, if it were a bail out, I'd rather bail out the post office than . . . pretty much anything else.)

John V 2:40 PM  


hazel 2:51 PM  

first - a fantastic and very clever puzzle, which I thoroughly enjoyed!!!

However, LAVA is molten rock (temp. approx 1 gajillion degrees C) and comes from volcanoes. it would not be compatible with cheap plastic lamps containing "goo". Lamp goo is wax (i'm pretty sure - I'm 100% sure it is not LAVA!) Now I know what it feels like to pick a nit that noone else give's a rat's ass about. Kind of refreshing! Go DWEEBS!

Two Ponies 2:59 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Two Ponies 3:02 PM  

My mom, when us heathen children ran out of the house without closing the door
"Were you abornbarn?!"

@ Hazel, Rant on if it makes you feel good. That's why we're here.

hazel 3:08 PM  


it IS hard, @acme!

thanks, @2 ponies. i'm done. for now.

joho 3:18 PM  

Great @Hazel! The real trick is getting the word in the middle to work with IN A following it in the phrase.

M07S 3:19 PM  

Great puzz and a fun solve. I hadda lotta comments on the various posts but since I'm coming to the party very late today they'll probably just go unread. I do want one breif rant on a comment made by @Z..."And the Senate did not "bail-out" the post office. They announced a plan to fund a basic government service. The USPS is right there with the USMC, USDA, FAA, and other government functions that are not optional." Just check with the Tea Party troglodytes if you think these are basic government services. They'll tell these services are just so much socialist claptrap. Even the Semper Fi boys could be replaced by any number of right thinking militias.

sanfranman59 3:59 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)

Thu 13:36, 19:02, 0.71, 7%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 6:59, 9:17, 0.75, 13%, Easy

Sparky 4:10 PM  

Got it with 20A; had NEEDLE, HA, and the K. It fell in place. Then got the BASKET and I was able to winkle out the other two as I went along. Liked clues for JOKE and APERS. Thanks @MaharajaMack for explaining VERY. Filled it in but no idea. Thanks Paka Lewis; hope to see more.

Off topic: does anyone here read the New Yorker? I do not understand the cover of the Nov. 7 issue. What are the ornage envelopes coming down like fall leaves supposed to be? I would appreciate someone showing mercy. On to Friday.

chefbea 4:34 PM  

Cute puzzle. Got to it late. No time to read all the comments

Does this count


ksquare 4:43 PM  

@JOHNV 2:40 There was a Chinese restaurant on 2nd Ave. in the East 80's called HOG HEAVEN. You might check to see if it's still there.
It was pretty good.

John V 4:52 PM  

@ksquare Thanks for the revue. I'll go there INJOHNVCOGNITO.


Lewis 5:05 PM  

@acme -- I love your three examples, but I don't think they exactly fit the mold of this puzzle, which is _____ in a _________. That is, the middle phrase is "a", not "the", and "a" can't be part of the answer that is filled in. In this puzzle, the second word has to have at least two syllables that can be divided into separate words.

Bob Kerfuffle got it right with LIFEONCETIME, but you are right Acme, it's harder than it looks!

Lewis 5:07 PM  

Chefbea -- it's funny, and of course, food related, but while "blanket" has two syllables, "blan" and "ket" are not words. Parker Lewis set the bar high!

Anonymous 6:00 PM  

I had TWERP, too. That makes me such a DWEEB!

Martin 6:09 PM  

The "bail-out" doesn't even involve funding a basic service. The USPS gets no funding from the government. The Post Office was a Department of the federal government from 1775 to 1970, when it was spun off. There has been no federal funding since the early '80s

The Senate's plan allows the USPS to access pension contributions it was forced to make in excess of the amount needed to meet current obligations. The USPS proposes using these excess contributions for early-retirement packages.

The House would hold these excess contributions hostage to force the USPS to sell itself to private shippers, who can refuse to serve remote residents. Darrell Issa claims that letting the USPS access the excess contributions amounts to a "bail-out" because at some point in the future the USPS will go broke, and the government will have to pay the pensions. He'd rather eliminate the postal workers' union and let Federal Express fire the postal workers without severance pay.

If you want to spout Newspeak, someone needs to translate it into English.

evil doug 6:12 PM  


Bonus checks for the Wall Street crowd? I read that realtors, jewelers, and exotic car dealers are gearing up for some big money to be spent soon....


sanfranman59 6:14 PM  

@Sparky ... I think those envelopes are supposed to be parking tickets.

quilter1 6:34 PM  

As the DIL of a man who raised mink, not minks, I say mink can be a plural, just like moose. Ran that by my spouse and he said we always bought mink, not minks. Just sayin'.

Anonymous 6:43 PM  

There are two minks, the eurasian mink and the north american mink.

mac 6:46 PM  


Wonderful puzzle which I was almost too tired to do. Got it with the needle, then it was smooth.

Thought there was a beer theme going on with best buds, lite and longnecks (cheers, @Stan!).

joho 7:15 PM  


Have a good evening everyone.

mac 7:27 PM  

@joho: thanks. Can't believe I blew that.....

FedererFan 7:30 PM  

Very cute puzzle. But did anyone else have issues with "USED UP" and "ONE UP" in the same grid?

audience conan member 8:07 PM  

No no no...I'M not on Conan! He was taping shows in NY while I was there and I was in right place right time and given a ticket to WATCH!
The closest I've been to being on Conan is Row N Seat 22 ;)

You're right...I was winging it and should not have gone with a "the" not an "a", etc...I wa sjust trying to show how hard it was to have had ones the right length and how smooth and wonderful Parker's puzzle was.
I did find our original back and forth last June and thought it was a "Jem" then too! (Actually I talked him out of JEw/wINK and I didn't understand the VERY then and then didn't get it AGAIN today!)

Actually one of the choices WAS JEf/fINK. But he made a good one.
and @FedererFan, if it makes you feel any better, we did discuss the two UPs, but, whatever! They are at least used (up) in wildly different contexts!

The constructor's name, in addition to being in the title of a TV show (Parker Lewis Can't Lose) seems to be the answer to one of those old jokes "If so and so married such and such, she'd be..."
Rex Parker Lewis

ANyway, I hope the discussion hits 100 comments all in praise of this wonderful little puzzle without getting too derailed by a notonthisblog political kerfuffle!

OK, I'll try one more:
I couldn't make a Saturday puzzle...THOUSANDNOTYEARS.
Lame :(

chefbea 8:18 PM  

that was good @acme

JenCT 8:49 PM  

@Sparky: @Sanfranman59 is correct - those are parking tickets, relating to the recent ticket-fixing scandal.

Great puzzle, and thanks for stopping by to explain things, @Paka.

joho 8:51 PM  

@mac ... you didn't blow it! What fun it was today for everybody to get involved with creating the theme. This was interactive puzzle solving at it's best.

I've said it before, and I'll say it now: love this blog!

Z 9:29 PM  

@Martin - Thanks. Way too many troglodytes getting way too much airtime these days. I knew it was "newspeak," but didn't realize just how far from reality the debate had been reframed.

Sparky 10:14 PM  

Thank you so much @EvilDoug, Sanfranman and JenCt. Now I get it. After looking at the picture carefully I see there are envelopes under the windshields of the cars parked. Duh. @Joho, ditto. I love this blog.

600 10:32 PM  

@audience conan member--Darn!

williahk 11:29 PM  

Has anyone done Friday's (11/4) yet? Is it just me or is it not a new puzzle? I'm having some serious déjà vu over here.

M and A and all in 11:40 PM  

@williahk -- Looks OK to me. Wish the first clue had been "Leave the dinner table early, say", tho. Then the answer coulda been SPLITSUP. [Meta!]

foodie 11:43 PM  

@williahk-- Yes, it looked a bit familiar, like I had seen it but not done it. So, poking around, I see this note from Amy's Blog (Diary of a Crossword Fiend):

This is the puzzle that spent several hours in the NYT’s applet before Kevin Der’s Steve Jobs tribute puzzle replaced it there, so I wrote this post back on October 6.)

sanfranman59 12:24 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 6:23, 6:50, 0.93, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:24, 8:51, 0.84, 8%, Easy (10th lowest median solve time of 124 Tuesdays)
Wed 11:18, 11:49, 0.96, 43%, Medium
Thu 13:42, 19:02, 0.72, 7%, Easy (9th lowest median solve time of 125 Thursdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:16, 3:40, 0.89, 7%, Easy (8th lowest median solve time of 123 Mondays)
Tue 3:50, 4:34, 0.84, 6%, Easy (7th lowest median solve time of 124 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:34, 5:50, 0.95, 40%, Medium
Thu 6:44, 9:17, 0.72, 10%, Easy

williahk 12:46 AM  

M and A and all - haha agreed

Foodie - I knew it! I was thinking it was pretty recent too. Does that mean that there is another Oct. 6 puzzle that I didn't do? I don't recall doing one that was a Jobs tribute...

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

Spacecraft here...thanks to MaharajaMack for the 'splainin' on VERY. Has me scratching bigtime.
One writeover: I jumped the gun on LEGO but had to discard: LGNA Olin just won't work.
Liked BESTBUDS and LONGMECK; winced at DOREMI, UNS and the horrid partial ASLOW.
Agreed that this is a VERY Wedensdayish Thursday puzzle. It's OK though. Once I tumbled to the "IN A" trick things smoothed out nicely.

Dirigonzo 4:07 PM  

Wow, another puzzle to SAVOR, and if a few more syndisolvers chime in we'll hit the 100 comment mark @ACM was hoping for (or, "for which @ACM was hoping" according to some grammarians here yesterday).

From RPDTNYTCP 5 years ago:
- "Solving time: about 22 min.***"
- "Looking at that last sentence, I have to say that that's a long parenthetical comment to interpose between the penultimate and ultimate word, but I'm just that excited. Stylistic elegance be damned."
- "But the little answers were like a swarm of gnats that at times kept me from fully enjoying an otherwise delicious picnic."
- "I have two words to say to these intersecting answers: the first is profane, and the second is "you." [Now I cross my fingers and hope that Mr. RYUN is not the one faithful reader I appear to have somewhere inside the US House of Representatives. If so, I'm just kidding sir. Good luck with that fence-along-the-Mexican-border thing ... sir.]"
- "I'm spending time I don't have bitching about tiny stuff. Fifteen minutes left - what to do?"
- "I guess that AH is the sound you make when you make love to your morning cup of coffee (see yesterday's puzzle) and AAH is the awkward bestial sound you make for your doctor. Amazing what a difference one little letter can make."
- "I'm liking this assortment of biblically-oriented answers. O GOD, I HOPE you will welcome me into heaven but I FEAR that when you return, all mad-as-hell in the Days of Wrath (IRAE), you will put me in hell - which will make me UPSET (46D), as surely you will mete out some Dantesque punishment that involves my being roasted on a SPIT (24D), then covered with AIOLI (15A) and served to a pack of ravenous PLATINUM BLONDES (53A). I would have noticed none of this biblicality, in all probability, if 28D had been clued "Exclamation in a porn movie," or better yet, "Sexclamation!""
- This, from @GCF, was one of five comments: "I'm not Congressman Ryun, but you should know that (assuming staffers count), you do have a faithful reader from somewhere inside the House of Representatives..."

Anonymous 7:18 PM  

More split words, as Aaron mentioned above. Monday also loosely fit the meta-theme given that the familiar phrase was split among four theme answers.

Picked up a hint of this theme with just the second H in 46a. Clearly that was going to have something to do with a BULL IN CHINA SHOP, but the phrase didn't fit. I had EDLES in 20a at that point and was thinking something-less something. But once EONS gave me that second E I could see NEEDLE and STACK with room for HAY at the front. Clever. The rest of the theme answers fell in rapid succession after that.

Only problem areas were NW (where the clue for VERY was a bit of a stretch, and I've heard of getting a leg up but not giving a leg up) and SE (where I first wanted A-ONE at 61a--as in a-one and a-two--and after I changed that to ANTE I was stuck with the LoNA/KNoX natick).

Thought the clue for EARS was lame until I came here and read it correctly ("ring or have rings" as opposed to what I thought was "have a ring or rings"). Apparently the ringing in my ears also affects my eyes. Must be time for an EXAM.

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