Biology lab stain / SUN 12-4-11 / Rub with ointment as in religious ceremony / Gorilla skilled in sign language / Popular Fallacies writer

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Constructor: Kelsey Blakley

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Swapping Partners" — adjacent letters swap places in familiar phrases, resulting in wacky phrases, etc.






Word of the Day: INUNCT (6D: Rub with ointment, as in a religious ceremony) —

inunct - administer an oil or ointment to inunct - administer an oil or ointment to ; often in a religious ceremony of blessing (freedictionary.com)
• • •

This felt subpar, both in terms of conception and execution. I'm surprised that a theme this basic couldn't yield much, much more interesting theme answers than this. Many of the base phrases aren't even that common / familiar. I'm only vaguely familiar with the term "internal angle," I can imagine "prison garb" and "rogue elephant," though I don't think of them as self-standing phrases, and I didn't know the devil had a lair. Maybe I've heard the phrase "devil's lair" somewhere. Just doesn't pop. DEVIL'S LIAR isn't funny, and seems redundant. PRISON GRAB is awkward. I don't know ... the whole thing just feels flat. WIDE BERTH is a great answer, but nothing else here will be memorable except INUNCT, which is memorable for All the Wrong Reasons.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Anais Nin, e.g.? (DIARY QUEEN)
  • 25A: Seizure at Sing Sing? (PRISON GRAB)
  • 39A: Heavenly voice of conscience? (INTERNAL ANGEL)



  • 59A: Specialty of a couples therapist? (MARITAL ARTS)
  • 76A: Courtroom jacket? (TRIAL BLAZER)
  • 94A: Circus performer in makeup? (ROUGE ELEPHANT) — in order for this to make sense, it would have to be ROUGED ... unless he has been covered in rouge from trunk to tail.
  • 113A: Storyteller for Satan? (DEVIL'S LIAR)
  • 116A: Improvement of a Standardbred's gait? (TROT REFORM) — my favorite theme answer
  • 3D: One starting a stampede, maybe? (SCARED COW)
  • 80D: Troops' harvest? (ARMY CROPS)
So are we just calling anything with two pieces of bread and some filling a PO' BOY now? And there is a DAY in EARLY DAY why? NULLS is a verb? People are supposed to know tertiary "Faerie Queene" characters (I studied that thing at length in grad school and I didn't remember IRENA)? I'm going to pass around a petition now to ban all alleged slang for money that no one has used unironically in half a century. Looking at you, KALE (122A: Moolah). Lastly, did you know that after Debbie did Dallas, she DID OK? Seriously. The whole state. That DVD's really hard to find, though.


Bullets:
  • 20A: Cataract site (NILE) — that is an insanely arbitrary clue for NILE. That's like cluing SEARS as [Purchase site]
  • 43A: Figure in Raphael's "School of Athens" (EUCLID) — just found out that my daughter is doing "7th grade math" in school. She is in 6th grade. Of course my reaction was "That's it? Only one grade ahead? That's 'Challenge' Math? If that's their idea of 'Challenge," she is DOOMED." I was half-kidding.
  • 85A: Food item prized in French cuisine (MOREL) — briefly considered SOREL, but he's a cartoonist. Wait, a wood SOREL, that's something, right? Oh, that's SORREL. Nevermind.
  • 2D: "Popular Fallacies" writer (ELIA)ELIA = essaying Charles Lamb. Ooold skool crosswordese.
  • 29D: Name sung over and over in a Monty Python skit (SPAM) — I do not know this skit. I know the Broadway play called "SPAMalot," but that's a word from song in "Holy Grail," and "SPAM" is not sung over and over in that movie.
  • 95D: Card game akin to Authors (GO FISH) — per wikipedia: "The game is the creation of Anne Abbott, a Beverly, Massachusetts clergyman's daughter and editor of a young people's literary journal. Abbott also designed one of America's earliest board games, The Mansion of Happiness (1843), as well as the hugely popular mid-19th century card game, Dr. Busby."
ANAP, ARUT, ABUT, good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

65 comments:

syndy 12:16 AM  

Agree with everything Rex said-EXCEPT for the CATARACT/NILE.no. CATARACT just says nile to me.This was a little like picking at a scab-or an old sunburn'just worried it off a little at a time.I don't think the phrases were supposed to be wacky but agree that TROT REFORM was the winner

meta4 12:25 AM  

After I finished the Saturday puzzle, I came here to read Rex and company and make a comment myself. I thought it would be a good idea to set up a google account so I could have a nice little picture beside my name too. After doing all the “paperwork” I checked out some other profiles of contributors on the blog to see how much information people were including, and to get a sense of who’s who. Then I began to work on the Sunday puzzle. Imagine my surprise when I came across 11D “______and the Real Girl”(2007 movie). I had just seen that in @JenCT’s list of favorite movies! Thanks Jen!

santafefran 12:28 AM  

I don't associate morels with "French" cuisine. My dad and I used to forage for them in the woods in Missouri where I grew up, until I got spooked by a snake and refused to go with him again. We devoured them sauteed (only we said fried) in butter.

I did like DIARY QUEEN AND TRIAL BLAZER, not so much the other theme entries.

Fitzy 1:07 AM  

@Rex, "The Spam Song" was from the Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch series, which you can see for yourself at this youtube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anwy2MPT5RE

Cheers

Kristin 1:26 AM  

Eww that WOTD is just horrrrrible. Of course you're supposed to think its ANOINT which is much more common and shares a couple letters there. Oh and I was so stupid I forgot LAMB was ELIA. Google or amazon will tell you his real name...freebie public domain etexts and such. Oh and I saw the warning on Facebook btw thx

chefwen 2:29 AM  

@meta4 - Love your sunflower w/bees.

It seemed to take me forever and a day to get through this one, but I almost enjoyed every minute, or would that be hours of it. I needed a pliers to pull every long answer out the darn thing.

Favorites were DIARY QUEEN and TROT REFORM. The T in INUNCT was my last fill, spell check doesn't like it and it's not in my Webster's Dictionary. 69D cause of a breakdown ENZYME was pretty cool. 124A KOKO shout out to my childhood kitty who lived to a ripe old age of 21.

Drea Clams Mesmer 2:29 AM  

Since four of the ten are IA/AI swaps (MARITAL, LIAR, TRIAL, DAIRY)
why not have all ten be so?
Perhaps it started out this way and there wasn't enough?
This way there is not really a unifying theme, so perhaps Kelsey will chime in with the back story.

jae 4:06 AM  

Ho-Hum Sun. Easy-medium for me.  Tried CABAL for the spy gathering and ERROR for AMISS but that was about it for write overs. The theme .... weak? flat? ... how about what Rex said ... "subpar"...

Bob Kerfuffle 7:46 AM  

Rex's feelings about Cataract/NILE are about the same as my feelings regarding 106 A, Island hopper? - FROG.

I know this sort of thing is not unheard of in Xword clues, but it could just as well have been Swamp hopper, Isthmus hopper, Continental hopper, etc. Yes, "Island" adds some misdirection, but it is not fairly earned.

joho 8:47 AM  

I have to say I liked this a lot more than @Rex. ROUGEELEPHANT made me smile. She's also wearing a tutu in my vision.

The best part of the writeup today for me was the DIDOK reference.

Yesterday SNOCONES, today SNOBALLS.

@chefwen, KOKO is also a shout to Andrea's dearly departed cat.

I like the clues for BEEB and ENZYME but agree with @Bob Kerfuffle, "Island hopper" was lame.

@Nice avatar, @Meta4!

I'm going to try to work MYFOOT! into my conversation today.

Thanks, Kelsey, I enjoyed your puzzle.

a guy 8:48 AM  

FROG crossing FLOG was the best, or at least the most amusing, part of this. I envy you, team-solver.

OldCarFudd 9:21 AM  

Rex said it all, so I'll shut up now.

Tita 9:59 AM  

@meta4 - a perfect example of hapchancing across an otherwise unkowable answer!
(Or is it syncronicity...)

I liked the alliterative CLAMS & KALE.

Wish they still sold PRELL - twas a BOFFO shampoo!

@Rex - what - no link to Meatloaf's Paradise by the Dashboard Light? "What's is gonna be boy, YES... OR... NO?!"

My favorite write-overs...
MARITALAidS, which Swapping Partners might need...
(Led to UddER instead of UTTER - but that's what happens when you puzzle in the wee hours...)

FearlessK 10:43 AM  

Got completely flummoxed in the Mideast by OSRIC, which started off as ORRIC, which sounded just fine until I realized I was thinking of (Alas poor) Yorrick and had to do some fast backpedaling.

Ditto @syndy on NILE = cataract, @Bob Kerfuffle on FROG, @chefwen on ENZYME, and particularly @Kristin on the Lamb/ELIA Kerfuffle, which hung me up in the NW for an unreasonably long time. Not to mention the unmentionable INUNCT: yecch.

But when the dust settled I found that I'd enjoyed myself, so thx, Kelsey!

Gill I. P. 11:10 AM  

I wrote out all of the theme answers looking for a common thread. The closest I came to was PRISON GRAB and MARITAL ARTS. I suppose you could throw in INUNCT as well.
The clue for 37 A - Rice may be served *in* it = BED? You serve rice in a bed? Mine gets served on a bed. But then, I don't eat rice in bed.
I wonder where the word BOFFO came from. It's sound like something you would do after you ate too much rice

davko 11:10 AM  

Not having remembered the House of ESTE (56A), I also managed to corrupt "poor Yorrick" from Hamlet into Orric [sic] at 48D, ruining an otherwise perfectly-executed grid.

Nearly did the same at 55D, where faucets and Champagne got mixed up in my brain. But while a business partner can often be a sot, he's more likely to be SON, setting me right at the 85D/102A cross.

@Rex - There was a time when Po' Boy referred to particular kind of submarine sandwich from New Orleans, but that regional distinction appears to have been bastardized by our fast-food culture, as I believe you're suggesting.

John V 11:12 AM  

Except for NE, which for POBOY, etc. reasons took too long, rest was medium, too. Fun puzzle, Kelsey!

Now for the geek rant. Three-valued logic, a cornerstone of relational databases and Structured Query Language ("SQL"), provides for three truth values, true, false and unknown. In database land , NULL means unknown. Setting a value to zero means setting to a known value -- zero. So, for us humble data schleppers, this clue/answer is wrong. Better clue: "Unknown, in logic", a variation on Erik Wennstrom's NYT puzzle, March 30 of this year, @16A.

Hey! Where'd everbody go? You mean three-valued logic doesn't pass the breakfast test and POBOY does? Sheesh!

chefbea 11:13 AM  

Found this difficult. When I finally got the theme, was too bored so came here DNF

Had one malapop. Had reads for 61D..then got 36D and realized one was wrong.

@meta4 like your avatar. I have a whole area in my kitchen devoted to sunflowers!!!

richnrbq 11:19 AM  

How does "scared cow" fit the theme? There's no "d" in scarecrow- what am I missing?

Norm 11:27 AM  

@richnrbq : SACRED COW

Norm 11:30 AM  

I liked this puzzle a lot. Thought the twisted phrases were amusing -- DEVILS LIAR (yes, Devil's Lair is a phrase I've seen before) and ROUGE ELEPHANT in particular.

Z 11:33 AM  

Hand-up for OrRic.
I liked ROUGEELEPHANT and TROTREFORM and DIARYQUEEN.

minksgy - PETA stance on fur?

Cy Daedalus 11:49 AM  

Signing your petition on ridiculous "synonyms" for money.

Sparky 11:51 AM  

Gave up on this early on. Just couldn't connect and have no time today. Filled in most of SW. Agree @Rex, CLAMS as annoying as KALE. AGLET ancient xwordese too.

Good point @Gill I. P. Rice is actually the BED and you serve the black beans on it.

Good for you @meta4 for figuring out the avatar thing. I needed help. THe sunflower very pretty. I'm off in a cloud of featherdust.

Greg Charles 12:02 PM  

Monty Python's Spam sketch is the origin of the term for junk email, because of the way the Vikings sang the word over and over, blocking normal conversation. Spamalot is probably combo of spam from that sketch with Camelot from Holy Grail, not directly from the movie.

Campesite 12:05 PM  

As a kid, my next-door neighbor as a Stanford grad student was one of KOKO's caregivers and helped to teach her sign language. I'm not sure if the all the primates were speaking the same language, but her dog was smarter than Lassie.

She wasn't one of the caregivers who filed a rather bizarre sexual harrassment suit against the foundation. The claim was that they were forced to show Koko their nipples. Apparently the gorilla has a good lawyer as the suit was dropped.

From another wheelhouse 12:08 PM  

@John V

However, in Electronics, one often has to "null" - i.e. set to zero - meters to obtain accurate readings, and some circuts are balanced, or nulled out.

Geek of a different color

mac 12:08 PM  

Out with the money nicknames.
The puzzle? It was a Sunday. Looking back at it I like some of the theme answers better. Worming them out was a slog, though.

I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep

Masked and Anonymous 12:09 PM  

Greetings from Cinnamon Roll Central.

Fave fill: SCAREDCOW, ROUGEELEPHANT, FLOG/FROG. QUANDARY is also quite nice.

Fave clue: "___-thon (literary event)". Har. Had just the right tinge of desperation, for an answer like READA.

Wobbly Word of the Day: EOSIN. Just looks all kinds of wrong.

Fave #31 comment: "ANAP, ARUT, ABUT, good day."
Kinda like "AMAN, APLAN, ACANAL, PanAm."

Makes me wanna say: Hi-yo READA, IRENA, SARA, ALANA, Tata.

Old Scratch 12:17 PM  

John 8:44 : Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

r.alphbunker 12:18 PM  

@John V
Let's apply NULL to xword puzzles. Imagine the answers are in a database. Initially all answers are NULL meaning "not considered yet". If you look at a clue and don't know the answer the NULL then means "don't know". But there are nuances of "don't know". For example, "I should know this", and "I don't know this but I could look it up on Google" And then, of course, the answer to the clue "Having no legal force" is "NULL" but that is different that NULL.


I think that Rex Parker once used the term "professional annoyance" to describe your reaction to 26D. Can anybody confirm that?

John V 12:30 PM  

@r.alphbunker
Professional annoyance? Hey I resemble that remark :)

Dan Jeffrey 12:33 PM  

I started to rebut your comment against NULLS being a verb, but now I have to agree with you.

"NULL" is used frequently in computer programming. I have heard it used as a verb in that context, but usually in a specific phrase: "Null it out" instead of the more common, "set that variable to null." So even this reference would be weak at best.

Thanks for the great column, Rex. I read it daily.

r.alphbunker 12:36 PM  

@John V
You seem a bit Groucho this morning.

thursdaysd 1:17 PM  

I'm with @syndy - everything Rex wrote, except I thought the Nile clue was clever. But the theme was so weak - I kept thinking it would be the same letters swapped, or at least they would be in the same place in the answer - otherwise, what was "partners" doing in the title? And annoyed by ROUGEELEPHANT instead of ROUGEd.

I'm signing the "money" petition - had never heard of KALE for money, and guessed IRENA as IRENe, so DNF. Also would not have thought URANO meant heavenly.

@kristin - what warning on facebook? (I refuse to use it.)

John V 1:17 PM  

@Dan Jeffery
In tri-value logic, pseudo SQL could look like this:

SELECT * FROM XWORD_RESULTS
WHERE JOHN_V_SATURDAY_SUCCESS IS NULL;

This means return all records where the JOHN_V_SATURDAY_SUCCESS is unknown. Other legal values for this variable might TRUE or FALSE.

David L 1:33 PM  

I agree with the complaints about several of the clues. Here's one more: GALE for 'kind of force.' I suppose this derives from the phrase 'gale force winds,' but that just means winds with the force of gales. 'Gale force' is adjectival -- it doesn't refer to a kind of force.

r.alphbunker 1:39 PM  

@John V
A record returned by that query might either represent a puzzle that you have not started yet or one that is in progress (i.e, is a potential multi-seater). You would need to use an additional field in the query (e.g., startTime) to distinguish the two cases.

Here is a theme that database geeks would love. Four "Null" clues and the answers are different meanings of null. Instead of "Null" maybe the clues could just be blank.

My CAPCHA was a tautology (quisqu)

archaeoprof 1:53 PM  

Loved DIARYQUEEN.

@Rex: LOL re:DIDOK. I have a student whose last name is Didok. Now I'll want to laugh every time I call on him.

@Santefefran: agree with you about MOREL.

Noam D. Elkies 1:59 PM  

Yes, 4D:INUNCT is sad — and shares not just a few letters but also an etymology with the equivalent ANOINT. The xwordinfo pattern-matching feature finds IDUNIT (from a 1999 Sunday by M.Nosowsky, clued as "Confessional account of a sensational nature"), which could be accommodated thus:

I P O D
D I R E
U E E N
N D O
I
T

then change 31A:ENIAC to the EN-LAI, and then 32D:III becomes another common Roman numeral LII and we're done.

This would also get rid of 20A:NILE, whose clue is presumably trying to trick you into thinking of a cataract in some part of your eye (and was used once before according to xwordinfo).

The 25A clue is something of a shock: even with the innocuous answer, the use of "Seizure" seems gratuitous; I doubt Will would allow "Cancer site" to clue ZODIAC.

NDE

quilter1 2:40 PM  

I thought it was OK. I really liked the ROUGE ELEPHANT and DIARY QUEEN. I guess I'm mellow today.

Yesterday we went to a performance of Handel's Messiah by the Grinnell College Singers accompanied by Chicago's Baroque BAnd on period instruments. It was the Dublin 1792 premiere version. Possibly the best Messiah I've ever heard.

Then we went to a Drake basketball game, which we won. Drake 62, Air Force 60. Good game, but too much refereeing. Yeah, I'm mellow.

LR 3:22 PM  

@quilter1 said...

...

Yesterday we went to a performance of Handel's Messiah ... It was the Dublin 1792 premiere version.

---

1742

Lewis 3:56 PM  

It felt like it took forever, but actually only took a bit longer than usual. No, it felt like it took forever because it wasn't fun, didn't have pop, at least to me.

CoffeeLvr 4:42 PM  

@Tita, YESORNO gave me a "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" moment also.

Another typical Sunday puzzle, good thing I love the big silly grids. Nice theme density; ACME, I also wish the entries were more related to each other.

My favorites are TRIAL BLAZER & SCARED COW. Enjoyed seeing the ELEPHANT appear from the feet up, so to speak. Also liked: LOST HEART, HEAD COLDS, QUANDRY, DIGS INTO, TREASURED.

Writeover for illbeT before MY FOOT.

Words I didn't know, but got through crosses, intuition and luck: EOSIN, INUNCT, & EFFIE.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, all.

jackj 4:45 PM  

Had visions of Kelsey holding up flash cards for Rev. Spooner, who then put his inimitable spin on things, which looked to give us a fun theme, neologistic-wise.

Anyone regularly completing Times puzzles is totally familiar with Anais Nin and the answer of DIARYQUEEN should be a knee-slapping delight to most.

But, after that, and the animal phrases of ROUGEELEPHANT and SCAREDCOW, things were exemplified by INUNCT at the beginning and EOSIN towards the end (but, sorry, "exemplified" in no way means "exemplary").

Sad to say, the puzzle proved a bit of a slog.

quilter1 5:30 PM  

@LR, sorry, my fingers got mixed up. And I didn't proofread.

Anonymous 6:44 PM  

Not sure why you were so negative about this puzzle,. I found it clever and challenging.

But then I think every crossword is an amazing accomplishment.

You should try being more "Sing-Off" and less "X Factor" as a critic.

One comment I will make: "oily"? Come on, puzzle-maker -- millions of teenagers don't need this extra disparagement!

a-pat 7:26 PM  

So you're insensitive to differences in quality, think others should be more like you, spend time watching bad tv, and prefer to snipe anonymously. Anything else?

CoolPapaD 8:02 PM  

Liked this puzzle a great deal, but the main reason I wanted to comment is that, without Rex and all I've learned from him and all of you over the past few years, I could not have hoped to have finished a puzzle like this.

So, THANKS!

Wood 8:25 PM  

I too thought the theme was a bit lackluster, but that's in comparison to the frequently brilliant wordplay on display week after week in these puzzles. As a relative newbie who has dabbled in -- and run screaming from -- constructing crosswords, I think we should cut the author some slack.

That said: INUNCT? EOSIN? Yeesh.

Thought I was clever when I put in ACT III right away... which led to LOKI for the signing gorilla, then KIKI. Took me a while to realize it was an act too far.

jberg 9:37 PM  

Busy day today - I started this puzzle about 7:30 AM, found it really slow, then went off for about 11 hours, came back and polished it right off - except that I didn't get the ENICA/INUNCT crossing, on account of I figured that Julius, if not Orange, must be at least VII, so I was looking at ENVA_ for 34A.

I did get the other horrid word, EOSIN, after being forced out of smear by crosses.

The rest was OK. In addition to everything mentioned, I liked BOWSPRITS. I think EARLY DAY is an anglicism. And I too think 'cataracts' just screams out NILE - everywhere else they're called rapids or waterfalls.

But it's late, and almost everything has been said, so goodnight to all!

JenCT 9:59 PM  

@meta4: you're welcome! It's a great, quirky movie with Ryan Gosling.

Found this puzzle to be kind of a slog. Abandoned it halfway through.

Joe in Canada 10:58 PM  

I found it a mix of good misleading clues (I had MARKETING instead of EDITORIAL for Counterpart of advertising and QUESTION for Dilemma) and irritations (like Island hopper). I know something can be served on a bed of rice - can rice be served in a bed? And if it's a heavenly voice, can it be internal? and finally, isn't Downright an adverb, whereas UTTER is an adjective?

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

What is bow sprits?

GenJoneser 10:05 AM  

http://tinyurl.com/fullforcegale
Van the Man!
(Um, sorry, this puzzle didn't life me up again...kinda got me down.)

Anonymous 11:04 PM  

3 Down: For the longest time, I had backed SCARERCOW as one "starting" a stampede. SCAREDCOW didn't seem qualified to start anything, but got the position anyway just for fitting in with the team.

nurturing 2:56 AM  

@ Gill I. P.: you do so serve rice in a bed, i.e., ladling it onto a plate to be a nest-like surface for savoury (usually) toppings.

You don't, as you said, serve rice 'on' a bed. ("Mine gets served on a bed", to quote you exactly.)
You serve other foods on a bed of rice. The rice IS the bed.

Agree that it's a little awkward.

nurturing 3:12 AM  

@anonymous:

The bowsprit is a spar (pole) of a sailing vessel. (I googled for you!)

Gill I. P. 2:23 PM  

@nurturing: Thank you for setting me straight. I can now comfortably go to sleep in a bed of rice - or is it on? Now I forget, but I prefer Arborial.

Dirigonzo 12:42 PM  

I'm kind of bumming today (that being 12/11 as I live in Syndiland) because me long-time neighbors are moving and I will miss them, so I did the puzzle earlier than usual to try to cheer myself up. Alas the exercise produced more groans than grins for me but that's possibly because my expectations were too high and my mood was too low. I needed a couple of lucky guesses to finish - it didn't help that I had arOD as the modern record holder for too long - in fact I almost left him in there as aNUNCT looked plausible (but rIED didn't seem right).

Thanks for listening - I feel a little better now. Maybe a visit to 12/11/2006 will help:
- "Solving time: 4:46"
- "Happy 75th Birthday, Rita Moreno! What a great idea for a puzzle - if I were she, I would be blown away with honor (if that's an expression)."
- "Everything I Need To Know I Learned From The ELECTRIC COMPANY. In fact, this blog, now that I think of it, is deeply indebted to the ELECTRIC COMPANY. Why? Because the very idea that being intellectual and being fun and irreverent might go together - I got that from ELECTRIC COMPANY (Not "Sesame Street," which, no offense, I thought was a show for slow kids)."
- "Speaking of musical acts, it's good to see rap stars L-RON (53D: Scientologist _____ Hubbard) and T-NUT (57D: Carpenter's metal piece) out promoting their new album, RARIN' (48D: _____ to go (eager)). Look for it in stores tomorrow."
- "Always bad not to know stuff on a Monday. Never heard of TEMA (35A: Melodic subject, in music), which I'm guessing is just some foreign word for "theme."
- "While I'm sure Ms. Moreno was Fabulous in "The Ritz," It's hard to believe she could ever top her work on THE MUPPET SHOW (25A: TV program for which 59-Across won an Emmy, 1977). That's a pretty high bar."
- There were 10 comments, one of which suggested that sometime in the future the NYT may run a tribute puzzle to Rex Parker, to which he replied: "When I see a puzzle wherein HARVEY PEKAR crosses KELLY CLARKSON, then I will know that the constructor is at least thinking of me, if not paying tribute, exactly."

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

Spacecraft here. Finished this, and with no Googles and no writeovers (!)--but gad! what a slog! Aiee, where to satrt?
URANO as a heavenly prefix: who knew? ONEL: not that I don't appreciate good ol' Ogden--I do-- but we need to banish this, and yesterday's ANE, to the hinterland forever. EYER, ARUT, III, READA: quadruple UGH!!!!
Curious that INUNCT is not listed in my Scrabble dictionary.
Nor should it be, if you get my drift.
Still, there is some nice stuff here: BOWSPRITS, WIDEBERTH.
Some cluing is questionable: how is EDITORIAL a "counterpart of advertising?" Mystifying. OK, so they're two (totally separated!) departments in a newspaper office. Maybe the cluer means that the editor "advertises" his opinion... oh, forget it. The clue is just plain wrong.
Forgot--all over again--the other meaning of "submarine." Seems every time I see that I picture underwater craft and not food. That's my own bad. Eventually, I got it, but the whole puzzle seemed like walking close behind a ROGUEELEPHANT.

Larry 6:15 PM  

My last fill was the "D" in SCARED COW, for the same reason as richnrbq: I was sure the origin phrase was "SCARECROW" -- I stubbornly clung to this even after I figured out that rice had to be served in bed...

Anonymous 8:55 PM  

How do you not know the SPAM sketch? Even if you never watched Monty Python's Flying Circus surely you knew geeks like me who recited it at every opportunity.

@Greg Charles
"Spamalot" is a made-up word that has its origins as two words from this song from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Anonymous 9:49 PM  

This is going to be the weirdest blog you ever read here: it's not about a NYT puzzle; it's about an Observer puzzle themed "Melting Pot." I tried, really I did, to find the blog that belongs to it, but Google did not have it. Still, I felt so strongly about it that I HAD to vent somewhere.
Many of the clues meant no sense at all. "Ride" is supposed to yield MOTOR. Huh?? "Man ____" turns out to be ALIVE. Man alive? Is that supposed to be a familiar phrase?
Then we have ugly partials, like WHENTO, OEIL, and a whole corner containing ATMO, AERO--and he outdid himself with this one: ULUM. There is also both ODDFELLOW and ODDISH in the grid.
But the sockdolager that made me not even want to finish the thing (and I didn't) was, with the theme title being "Melting Pot," one of the theme entries was--are you ready?--MELTINGPOT.
Add to all that unknowable obscurities like NIANGUA (a river in the Ozarks--I don't know how many folks know this one, but I'll betcha five dollars they're ALL cousins!) and ANANA ("pineapple," a word I can't find anywhere), and you have abject construction failure.
There, I've vented. I feel better. Thanks for listening.

SharonAK 4:45 PM  

DID NOT UNDERSTAND THE COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE THEME. In each phrase a pair of letters swapped to make a new phrase. How is that not unified?
Only Anonymous saw how great SCARED COW was? Made me smile everytime I saw it.

Didn't particulary like ROUGE ELEPHANT for the reason Rex gave. And still don't really get INTERNAL ANGEL. Does anyone ever speak of an internal angle? How is that different from and external angle?

Overall found it quite fun once I caught on to the theme. Had a hard time getting any answers to start.

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