Chef's topper / WED 11-30-11 / Plaza Hotel moppet / Imprisoned Peace Nobelist Xiaobo / Dundee who trained Ali / When doubled 1997 Jim Carrey movie

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Constructor: Rolf Hamburger

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: ONE (72A: Addition to 18-, 23-, 40-, 54- and 60-Across) — ONE is added to familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, etc.

Word of the Day: ANGELO Dundee (49D: Dundee who trained Ali) —
Angelo Dundee (born Angelo Mirena on August 30, 1921) is an American boxing cornerman. He is best known for his work with Muhammad Ali (1960–1981), and has worked with 15 world boxing champions, including Sugar Ray Leonard, José Nápoles, George Foreman, Jimmy Ellis, Carmen Basilio, Luis Rodriguez and Willie Pastrano. (wikipedia)
• • •

Not a great week so far. Yesterday, a very tired example of the well-worn "first words have this thing in common" theme type, and now today, a very clunky "insert-a-word" theme that doesn't even bother to have an interesting revealer. Just ... ONE? That's it. You know, the phrase PLUS ONE can mean "a guest that an invitee is allowed to bring to a party." AND ONE is both a basketball shoe company and a phrase in basketball referring to the free throw attempt one is awarded if one is fouled while making a basket. I'm just saying, you could get creative and do Something. One of the main rules for puzzles that involve Wackification is: answers must be funny / clever. The only good one today is STONE AGE COACH. The rest are either awkward or, in the case of GONE IN RUMMY, borderline nonsensical. The grid is adequately filled, but thematically, this puzzle is a bust.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Team on the receiving end of a prank? (MOONED SQUAD)
  • 23A: "E," "pluribus" or "unum"? (MONEY WORD)
  • 40A: Athletic trainer for Neanderthals? (STONE AGE COACH)
  • 54A: West Coast punk rock group? (L.A. RAMONES)
  • 60A: Entered pie-eyed? (GONE IN RUMMY)

Had a few snags along the way today, starting with AMS instead of AFT (1A: Time in some want ads). No idea why I read "Time" as "Times." Unshockingly, the exact spelling of the [Olive genus] (ugh) didn't come quickly. OLE ... something (OLEA). Remembered YVONNE De Carlo (24D: De Carlo of "The Munsters") but did not remember ANGELO Dundee. Thought 56A: Kind of computing using remote servers (CLOUD) was some kind of computer language like COBOL (clearly didn't read the clue that carefully). Oh, and of course I thought [Some summer fare] would refer to a comestible of some sort, not RE-RUNS. Speaking of which, "M*A*S*H" RE-RUNS are a significant feature of the Bobbie Ann Mason novel In Country, which I now have to get back to reading. So, a few bullets, and then good night.

  • 16A: Plaza Hotel moppet (ELOISE) — in my head, she is the female counterpart to Milo in The Phantom Tollbooth (probably because they are iconic, illustrated literary kids that I encountered at about the same time in my childhood)
  • 10D: Chef's topper (TOQUE) — a very handy piece of high-end crosswordese. Put it in off just the "U"; other crosswordese headwear of note: TAM and KEPI.
  • 11D: Imprisoned Peace Nobelist ___ Xiaobo (LIU) — nice, timely clue. Would be great to see XIAOBO, or even LIUXIAOBO, in the puzzle someday (if it hasn't been in there already).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Ancient Roman censor / TUE 1-29-11 / Bygone Tunisian VIPs / Degrees of separation in Hollywood parlor game

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Constructor: Aimee Lucido

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "MONEY, MONEY, MONEY" (59A: 1976 Abba song ... or a hint to the starts of 17-, 23-, 38- and 50-Across) — first words of theme answers are all slang for "money"

Word of the Day: CUNEIFORM (10D: Writing with wedges and such) —
  1. Wedge-shaped.
    1. Being a character or characters formed by the arrangement of small wedge-shaped elements and used in ancient Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian writing.
    2. Relating to, composed in, or using such characters.
  2. Anatomy. Of, relating to, or being a wedge-shaped bone or cartilage.
  1. Writing typified by the use of characters formed by the arrangement of small wedge-shaped elements.
  2. Anatomy. A wedge-shaped bone, especially one of three such bones in the tarsus of the foot.
[Latin cuneus, wedge + -FORM.]
• • •
A deeply unoriginal theme with interesting theme answers and slightly above-average overall fill. If the song were "MONEY, MONEY, MONEY, MONEY," I might have somewhat more admiration from it, since in that case it would at least be literally accurate. I am only too familiar with the game of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" and yet had no idea that the phrase "BACON NUMBER" was a thing, let alone a thing that people are supposed to know. CUNEIFORM, STRAGGLER (3D: One finishing a marathon in eight hours, say), and LABYRINTH (35D: Feature of the ancient palace of Minos at Knossos) give the puzzle needed oomph. I'm also a fan of BREAD CRUMB TRAIL. Decidedly not a fan of OMBRE (44A: Card game of Spanish origin), or any other card-game-only-heard-of-in-crosswords. Also not a fan of PANDAs being called BEARs, though obviously the term "PANDA BEAR" is very much in the language.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Like some stickers (SCRATCH-AND-SNIFF)
  • 23A: Enemy of Spider-Man (GREEN GOBLIN)
  • 38A: Navigation aid for Hansel and Gretel (BREAD CRUMB TRAIL)
  • 50A: Degrees of separation in a Hollywood parlor game (BACON NUMBER)

  • 67A: Bygone Tunisian V.I.P.'s (DEYS) — there's no reason for sickly crosswordese such as this to exist in such a small, easy-to-fill section of the puzzle. None. Horrid.
  • 18D: Often-impersonated diva (CHER) — interestingly vague clue. I haven't seen a good CHER impression since ... well, the '90s, i.e. the last time CHER was musically relevant.
  • 57D: Self-referential, in modern lingo (META) — I think I liked this clue the first time I saw it. I don't think I like it much any more. META is a prefix. It's definitely used in the way the clue describes, but ... it's a prefix. That's what it is.
  • 39D: Ancient Roman censor (CATO)CATO the Elder, to be exact. According to Wikipedia, during the Third Punic War, his motto became "Carthago delenda est" ("Carthage must be destroyed"). I'm thinking of adopting that as my motto as well.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Springfield's minor league team on Simpsons / MON 11-28-11 / 1940s-50s wrestler with golden locks / Kansas town on Chisholm Trail / Notorious 1920s-30s bank robber

Monday, November 28, 2011

Constructor: Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Appearance-related Name — four well-known names that begin with an adjective related to attractiveness

Word of the Day: FICHE (19A: Piece of microfilm) —
A microfiche. [?!] (
• • •

Love the theme answers, but the theme seems awfully loose. PRETTY and UGLY go together, but PLAIN and GORGEOUS are less obvious complements. Plus, three of these are specific people and one is a type of person. Further PRETTY BOY FLOYD ruins theme consistency a bit, since the BOY doesn't really have anywhere to go—not part of the theme, not a name like BETTY, JANE, or GEORGE. Seems like an OK theme idea that didn't quite come out of the oven looking like it should. Not terribly fond of the partials posing as actual answer (SLOE GIN, NO MEN), not to mention the actual partials (ANAME, ONAN). The FICHE and REUNE corners could surely be better. I do like how this grid has a relatively low word count (for a Monday—74), which allows for some very interesting longer answers, like HOFFMAN, ABILENE, WISEGUY, ISOTOPES (5D: Springfield's minor-league team on "The Simpsons"), PILSENER (39D Light-colored beer or the glass it comes in) and GALUMPH (25A: Walk clumsily). Difficulty level seemed pitched right at perfect Monday level. An enjoyable if imperfect little puzzle.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Notorious 1920s-'30s bank robber (PRETTY BOY FLOYD) — wanted CLYDE BARROW at first ...
  • 33A: America Ferrera's Emmy-winning role (UGLY BETTY)
  • 44A: Hardly a beauty queen (PLAIN JANE)
  • 54A: 1940s-'50s wrestler with golden locks (GORGEOUS GEORGE)

Why in the World do you clue ABILENE (10D: Kansas town on the Chisholm Trail) as a Kansas town (pop. 6,844), esp. on a Monday??? The Texas city of the same name is about 15 times larger. I could barely bring myself to write in ABILENE, and then, when I did, I beat myself for thinking all these years that ABILENE was in Texas ...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Kuomintang co-founder / SUN 11-27-11 / Italian automaker since 1906 / Dogpatch yokel / Sci-fi zapper / Villainous role for Montalban

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Constructor: Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "YIN/YANG" — grid is half black (gray) / half white, with Yin/Yang symbol in the middle. Symmetrical theme answers contain words that are opposites / counterparts of one another.

Word of the Day: INIGO Jones (120A: Architect Jones) —
Inigo Jones (or Iñigo Jones) (July 15, 1573 – June 21, 1652) is the first significant British architect of the modern period, and the first to bring Italianate Renaissance architecture to England. He left his mark on London by single buildings, such as the Banqueting House, Whitehall, and in area design for Covent Garden square which became a model for future developments in the West End. He also made major contributions to stage design by his work as theatrical designer for several dozen masques, most by royal command and many in collaboration with Ben Jonson. (wikipedia)
• • •

Big thumbs up for this one. I vaguely admired it even before I realized that the dark and light parts of the grid contained opposites—cool shape, interesting fill, that was enough for me. The SUMMER/WINTER, HOT/COLD etc. thing just puts it over the top. Most Sundays are just oversized Wednesdays, and get a bit tedious about half way through. Not this one. Perhaps because the grid shape creates so many short answers, this puzzle felt quite easy. I was actually surprised I didn't come in under 10 minutes, as I hardly hesitated at all while filling it in. The theme answers in the yang (white) part of the symbol did not come easily, so there was some struggle there, and I wasn't sure what followed SUMMER at first, and I wrote in EJECT for 108D: Boot, in baseball, e.g. (ERROR), so that took a bit of undoing. But the longest theme answers (in west and east) went in almost instantaneously, and most of the short fill was not tough at all. Overall, it was a delightful solving experience. Imaginative. Lively. Good stuff.

A couple of weird / off things, though: first, the yin (black) part should have a white dot (square) inside it, technically. Obviously, this isn't really possible in a crossword puzzle. Or maybe it is, with some imagination. Also, LIGHT in LIGHT AS A FEATHER pairs with DARK in AFRAID OF THE DARK ... but it also pairs perfectly with a totally asymmetrical theme answer: HOT AND HEAVY. I find this very mildly distracting.

Theme answers:
  • 24A: Full of strong feelings (HOT AND HEAVY)
  • 31A: Something to enjoy on a beach (SUMMER BREEZE)

  • 42D: Weighing hardly anything (LIGHT AS A FEATHER)
  • 37D: Walter Mitty, e.g. (DAYDREAMER)
  • 48D: Kuomintang co-founder (SUN YAT-SEN) — Kuomintang being an early form of Yahtzee, which is itself a corruption of the original triumphant shout: "YAT-SEN!"
  • 116A: Started sneezing and sniffling, say (CAUGHT A COLD)
  • 102A: He might put chills up your spine (OLD MAN WINTER)
  • 16D: Suffering from nyctophobia (AFRAID OF THE DARK)
  • 43D: Time in Hawaii, say (HONEYMOON)
  • 45D: Question asked to one with a hangover ("ROUGH NIGHT?")     
Some things I did not know: that there were nine Thai kings named RAMA; That Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP) was the Grp. with the 1973 gold album "Brain Salad Surgery"; that the SAHARA was the Bygone Las Vegas hotel/casino with a roller coaster; that LANCIA was the name of an Italian automaker since 1906. Many of the other proper nouns were right up my alley, however. HOMER didn't write "By their own follies they perished, the fools," but one of his translators surely did. L'il ABNER is a comics legend (20A: Dogpatch yokel), just as KHAN is an '80s scifi legend (27A: Villainous role for Montalban) (don't think he had a RAY GUN, though—14D: Sci-fi zapper). I only wish that Andy GIBB were in the white part of the grid, to counterbalance Marilyn MCCOO in the black (104D: Marilyn who hosted 1980s TV's "Solid Gold").

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Trick-taking game / SAT 11-26-11 / Sambuca flavorers / 18th-century London political literary establishment / Target of criticism Vincent Bugliosi's 1996 book Outrage

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Constructor: Brad Wilber

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

 Word of the Day: KLABERJASS (27D: Trick-taking game) —
Klaberjass or Bela is a widespread international trick-taking card game that is most popular in Jewish communities. In its basic form it is a 6-card trick-and-draw game for two players using a 32-card piquet pack. // As in other point-trick games of the King–Queen group, players can score points for the "marriage" (bela) of king and queen of trumps. The distinguishing feature of Klaberjass is that the jack (Yass) and nine (Menel) of trumps are elevated to the highest ranks and highest card point scores. (wikipedia)
• • •

A suitably tough Saturday that ended up being less than satisfying because of several long answers I'd just never heard of, the most notable being KLABERJASS. I don't care how "widespread" wikipedia says it is, I'll eat my hat if most of you have heard of it before. Not some of you—this is an answer designed to delight the constructor and that minority of solvers who know and play and possibly love the game—most of you. If you've never heard of it, then no amount of crosses helps. You need them all, and when you finally get it, there's no joy, no wow, no nothing. Just gibberish. In this case, long gibberish. So I am stumped, and I learn a new word (I'll never need again), and that's something, but entertaining it's not. When I (finally) got CHAIR BED, I assumed it was a makeshift bed created by the pushing together of two chairs (1A: What might unfold when you have guests). I've never ever heard of a CHAIR BED. I wrote in HIDEABED right away. CHAIR BED? I can barely look at that answer. I checked, and of course CHAIR BEDs are actual things, in that you can buy them at K-Mart, but ugh. The less said about OOFY the better (28A: Rich, in slang). The one stumper that I feel bad about not knowing was KITCATCLUB (29A: 18th-century London political / literary establishment). The puzzle is generally well constructed (not surprising—Mr. Wilber's usually are), so I, despite my considerable ignorance, could still reach the finish line because of fair crosses.

One thing you'll notice in a low word-count puzzle (typically) is a preponderance of words ending -ER or -ERS. Most every point where the last letters of two words intersect, you will see an "S" or "ER" or "ERS." When you've got this much white space to fill, the stress starts to show first around the edges in this way. Now, to this puzzle's credit, it doesn't resort to really horribly made-up-sounding words, like RE-ICERS or something (I made that up, but I assume it's a legitimate cake-related word). You can hardly fault the intersection of BAD LOSER and BARTENDER. Still, I always notice the heavy padding of -ER and -ERS in low word-count puzzles. Once you dip into the mid-60s, word-count wise, the chances of your having a really compelling, scintillating, memorable grid diminish considerably. At those depths, even a superior constructor is only going to producer tolerable, passable work most of the time.

JUDGE ITO has the same number of letters as LANCE ITO (15A: Target of criticism in Vincent Bugliosi's 1996 book "Outrage"), I found out the hard way. I assumed [Bouillabaisse base, sometimes] was some kind of FISH for a while. That also hurt. CLAM BROTH seems arbitrary, but, I'm sure, accurate enough. Once I changed ETAS to ETDS, I saw ANISEEDS (17A: Sambuca flavorers), which was vital to my (finally) getting those long Downs in the NW. "ANIMAL FARM" in particular gave me fits. Completely forgot there was a Napoleon in that (3D: Napoleon is a commander in it). I lucked out in the musical realm—got Randy TRAVIS with no crosses and only a few seconds of thought / humming, and I'm not even a (modern) country fan (16A: Singer of the #1 country hit "Forever and Ever, Amen"). Also got HERB ALPERT off the -ERT (35A: "Whipped Cream & Other Delights"). Speaking of whipped cream and other delights, I've been eating chocolate pie every few hours for over 24 hours now, and putting whipped cream on and in whatever seems to warrant it. Especially coffee.

I just started watching "Friday Night Lights," so I have no idea who this AIMEE Teegarden person is, but once I had the -EE ending, guessing her name wasn't tough (40A: Teegarden of TV's "Friday Night Lights"). EVIE was slightly tougher, but the crosses helped me out (12D: One of the Wilcoxs in "Howards End"). Never heard of a LUNE, but, again: crosses. Had CAPE for [Bullfighting cloak], obviously (CAPA). Very fixable. Thought LES was the Fender of Fender guitars (LEO)—thanks a lot, LES Paul. CAMISOLE is not a particularly British word, so I don't know why "knickers" was in its clue (33D: Knickers go-with), but it's not like the reference was confusing.

Have a lovely day. I know I will. 42!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Sofer of soaps / FRI 11-25-11 / Cerecloth feature / Amazing Grace melody basis / Gladly old-style / Mussel morsel / Girlfriend in Granada / 1940s-'50s White House name

Friday, November 25, 2011

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

 Word of the Day: Cerecloth (15D: Cerecloth feature = WAXY COATING) —
Cloth coated with wax, formerly used for wrapping the dead.
• • •

Ambivalent about this one. Stacks just don't impress me anymore, and the short crosses running through that 4-stack are pretty terrible, *but* the long answers running through it are pretty good. I especially like CALLCENTERS, GOESSOUTH, BARSCENE (25D: Backdrop for many singles matches?), and DEADTREE. Difficulty-wise, this was really a tale of two puzzles—north and south were on the easy side (south was very easy, actually) while the center was pretty rough. I couldn't put down very many of the short crosses with much certainty. At first pass, I think I had SUPS, ASET, ASNO and ANES, as well as the incorrect LIEF (where FAIN was supposed to go—34D: Gladly, old-style). I skipped over the center and solved the south, then finally got the long Downs in the eastern section to fall, which allowed me to see USEDCARSALESMAN, and I was able to finish the puzzle from there—with two errors. The first was a typo (OVIEE instead of OVINE); the second a stupid mistake (WAVY COATING for WAXY COATING15D: Cerelcoth feature).

What makes me, ultimately, have a negative overall feeling for this puzzle is the little matter of short fill. I resent how carelessly the little corners are filled. Every regular constructor out there can fill both the SE and NW corners better than they are currently filled in about ten seconds, which means they could probably do it *much* better with a little attention. As one very small example: in what universe is FURL better than CURL at 14A. ACTS is a word, AFTS isn't. Words beat abbrevs. every time, and reasonably common words beat oddities most every time. See also UPI—make it USE, and you eliminate both an abbrev. *and* a partial (ISSO to ESSO—yes, ESSO is no good, but it damn sure beats ISSO). Again, I'm not even trying here. A little effort, and these corners could be well polished. There just shouldn't be junk or crosswordese in these smallish sections. When you're running words through a stack of 15s, OK. But there's no excuse for the laziness in evidence throughout this puzzle's smaller nooks.

At first I thought maybe [Mussel morsel] was CLAM ... but clue wants what mussels eat, apparently (ALGA). Hate 5-letter Roman numerals, especially ones of a completely arbitrary nature (19A: Super Bowl of 2029), though I think I used one once. In my defense, it was a very thematically dense puzzle, which this one isn't. I wanted BESS to be MAMIE, but letter count and reality were against me (25A: 1940s-'50s White House name). I wouldn't have associated "Amazing Grace" and the PENTATONIC SCALE (39A: "Amazing Grace" melody basis)—only got the answer because of crosses, and because I know that the PENTATONIC SCALE is a thing that exists in the world. For some reason, both AVON LADIES (62A: Workers associated with ding-dongs) and ROGET (52A: Subject of the 2007 biography subtitled "The Man Who Became a Book") were easy to get—AVON is often clued with some kind of cutesy bell clue, and ROGET ... well, his name is in the book's title, plus I had the "R"—it just clicked. Forgot completely who RENA Sofer was, as I'm sure I will again (31D: Sofer of soaps). No idea who "Chicago" husband ___ Hart was (AMOS), but didn't need to, as crosses made it obvious. [Girlfriend, in Granada] also eluded me (NOVIA), but again, that bottom half was a cinch, so crosses took care of the problem.

I'm off to have a late-night Thanksgiving plate (#3 on the day, I think). Hope you enjoyed your day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Heavenly home of Norse gods / THU 11-24-11 / Ancient Egyptian talisman / Mrs Forsyte in Forsyte Saga / Gerard of Buck Rogers in 25th Century

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Constructor: Sharon Delorme

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: NO GO (65A: Canceled ... or a hint to answering 17-, 27-, 34-, 45- and 57-Across) — phrases that begin with "GO" have the "GO" dropped, creating ... prepositional phrases! And who doesn't love those!?

Word of the Day: GIL Gerard (41A: Gerard of "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century") —
Gilbert C. "Gil" Gerard (born January 23, 1943) is an American actor. He is most famous for his role as Captain William "Buck" Rogers in the 1979-1981 television series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. (wikipedia)
• • •

Lots of things to be thankful for today, but this puzzle is not among them. Seemed both substandard (for a NYT Thursday) and misplaced (Wednesday-easy). Taking "GO" out of phrases is not interesting. At all. There is no cleverness here, no trickery, no unexpected delight. Nothing. Just ... NOGO. It's a remedial idea for a puzzle, and I'm surprised it was accepted at all. The grid is certainly adequate, but conceptually, this theme is weak. Aside from the fact that missing "GO" does nothing interesting to the phrases, there's the problem of "GO" being Not Missed At All from several of the phrases. BYTHEBOOK and OVERTHETOP are completely legitimate, self-standing phrases; if it weren't for the cluing, no one would blink at these entries—whereas FORTHEGOLD is nonsense. So many THEs ... a plural ARLENES ... EFGH ... I'm at a loss.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Try to win (FOR THE GOLD)
  • 27A: Not vary from proper procedure (BY THE BOOK)
  • 34A: Follow everyone else (WITH THE FLOW)
  • 45A: Deteriorate (TO THE DOGS)
  • 57A: Take things way too far (OVER THE TOP)

I think I was slightly slower than I might have been mainly because I spent the first half of the solve overthinking things. Once I finally accepted that the theme was as straightforward and obvious as it appeared to be, and that the grid was, at best, ordinary, words started to come a lot faster. Had only one real hang-up, with DEBT for CASH (13A: Bills, e.g.), and one real head-scratcher—IRENE (26A: Mrs. Forsyte in "The Forsyte Saga"). No idea what "The Forsyte Saga" is, but IRENE is the crosswordiest woman's name there is (esp. in five letters), so once I had the "I," I just guessed. Took me a while to get SCARAB (brain just kept saying "ANKH!?") (1D: Ancient Egyptian talisman) and ASGARD (9D: Heavenly home of the Norse gods) (learned it from crosswords, and often get it confused with AESIR, which I also learned from crosswords). "WHO'S NEXT?" is an album title (34D: Waiting room query). In what "waiting room" would you hear it as a query? Doctors know who's next. Most service providers with waiting clients do. Who is supposed to be making this query? The waiter or the waitee? Argh.

Anyone wishing to get a solid introduction to heavily overused crossword words could do worse than looking here first: OMERTA, GSUIT, OLLA, ARLENE(S), ASGARD, BABA, SRIS, ANO, ROO, EWES etcetcetc.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving. Thanks for reading.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


1953 John Wayne film / WED 11-23-11 / 1982 hit by the Clash / Original member of star alliance / Bogota bears / Trapdoor concealer

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: GARDEN VARIETY (55A: Ordinary ... or what the beginning of the answer to each starred clue is?) — first words of theme answers are all types of GARDEN

Word of the Day: "HONDO" (43A: 1953 John Wayne film) —
Hondo is a movie that was made in 1953 by 3-D Warnercolor western film starring John Wayne, directed by John Farrow. The screenplay is based on the 1952 short story "The Gift of Cochise" by Louis L'Amour. The book "Hondo" was a novelization of the film also written by L'Amour, and published by Bantam Books in 1953.
• • •

Got sucked into live-tweeting the GOP debate and now my eyes and brain hurt. Still, managed to take this puzzle down in the 4-minute range, which is pretty dang fast (for me) for a Wednesday. Once again, I finished this puzzle with absolutely no idea what the theme was. Wrote in GARDEN VARIETY off of [Ordinary] and didn't really bother to look at the rest of the clue (at that point, it was pretty late in the game). With the exception of the ugly RELOG, the grid seems pretty solid. Had only minor hang-ups throughout, like, "how do you spell 'KAHN'?" (34D: France's Dominique Strauss-___) and "what's that word ... sounds like 'ARGOT'...?" (19A: Grain disease = ERGOT) and "what the hell are these sidewalk vendors selling!?" Also some small mistakes, like SON for SIS and RED for ODD and TEAL for ANIL.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: *1982 hit by the Clash ("ROCK THE CASBAH")
  • 28A: *1994 World Cup final site (ROSE BOWL)
  • 37A: *Fortuneteller's bit (TEA LEAF)
  • 45A: *Popular drinking game (BEER PONG)

["My baby don't care for ... HIGH-TONED places"]

The DET Lions are my team and yet I somehow blanked when I saw 13D: Ford Field team, on scoreboards. So many arenas have corporate sponsors that this one didn't stand out to me as DETroit, despite the car name. I know the [1953 John Wayne film] ("HONDO") because I collect vintage paperbacks and I've seen the Louis L'Amour version of this book many times. I did not know that NERO was once a 64A: Colossal statue outside ancient Rome's Colosseum, but at four letters, there weren't that many options (I got EMPEROR entirely from crosses without ever solving NERO). Was sure 66A: Big name in locks (YALE) would have something to do with hair, and 58D: An original member of the Star Alliance (SAS) something to do with sci-fi. Wrong and wrong.

Oxford Dictionaries just announced their "Word (or Phrase) of the Year" for 2011: "squeezed middle," a term I could infer the meaning of, but which I had never heard. It's certainly not as in-the-language (or nearly as fun to say, or snappy) as the other terms on the short list: Arab Spring, occupy, hacktivism, phonehacking, and sodcasting.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Fayetteville campus briefly / TUE 11-22-11 / Ancient Chinese divination book / Opposite of alta / When doubled displaying affection

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Constructor: Victor Fleming

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Pronouns — seven theme answers begin with WE, I, THEY, HE, YOU, SHE, and IT, respectively

Word of the Day: "HE GOT GAME" (50A: 1998 Spike Lee joint) —
He Got Game is a 1998 American sports-drama film written and directed by Spike Lee. It stars Denzel Washington as Jake Shuttlesworth, a prison inmate convicted for killing his wife. The father of the top-ranked basketball prospect in the country, Jesus Shuttlesworth (played by NBA star Ray Allen), Jake is released on parole for a week by the state's governor in order to persuade his son to play for the governor's alma mater in exchange for a heavily-reduced prison sentence. (wikipedia)
• • •
I had no idea what the theme of this puzzle was until well after I was finished. Well, not "well" after ... maybe 15 seconds after. Started out seeming very easy, and then I hit some of the odder, more vaguely clued theme answers, and things toughened up slightly. Strangely, my biggest trouble was in the SE, where I could not for the life of me make sense of the clue 67A: Election Day no. (even just now, I typed "mo."). My brain was like "NOV? TUE? NOV? TUE? etc." I had no idea what "no." could be at issue. I had the "P" but that didn't help. It only made me doubt SOAPY. Also started doubting NOPE for 59A: "Can't help ya!" (not the most exact match, to my ear). So I lost time mainly to fumbling, not to any intrinsic difficulty, though I do think some of the theme answers are going to slow people up. Clue on "I CAN DREAM" is vague (also, is that really the best "I" phrase out there??). And "HE GOT GAME" wasn't exactly a ground-breaking, memorable film. Still, those theme answers are at least interesting, which is more than I can say for most of the rest of the grid.  Not a big fan of ABCTV (who calls it that?) or SOR. (again, really?) or U OF A (Vic's just shoehorning in a reference to his home state here) (42A: Fayetteville campus, briefly). Overall, this is fairly typical Tuesday fare—just fine, nothing to write home about.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Shout upon reaching a destination ("WE MADE IT!") 
  • 34D: "Just my luck" ("IT FIGURES") — at this point, I figured we had an "IT expressions" theme
  • 26A: "Wouldn't that be nice" ("I CAN DREAM")
  • 38A: Intro to many an adage ("THEY SAY...")
  • 50A: 1998 Spike Lee joint ("HE GOT GAME") — sort of surprised to see the clue use "joint" in this context; it's how Lee refers to his own films, but I've never see anyone else ever refer to their films that way (unless they were aping / parodying Lee)
  • 63A: "Well, look who's back!" ("YOU AGAIN!?")
  • 11D: Wicked women (SHE-DEVILS)  

KISSY KISSY would be a great answer. As a half-phrase, it's only so-so. "Hizzoner" would also be a great answer (MAYOR). Of the LEWs you are likely to see in crosswords, all of them have last names ending in "A"—Alcindor (aka Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Ayres (an actor, I think), and Archer (detective in Ross Macdonald novels). Something oddly amusing (to me) about having ICHING and ITCHES right on top of each other. Was discussing Tatum O'NEAL in "Paper Moon" just the other day in class, in the context of teaching "Taxi Driver" (Academy Award-nominated child actress connection—O'NEAL won).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Actress married to Kurt Weill / MON 11-21-11 / 1970 hit by Sugarloaf / Older woman's plaything in slang / Old dagger / Funnywoman Rudner

Monday, November 21, 2011

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: iTUNES (67A: Where to find the songs in this grid ... or an appropriate title for this puzzle) — songs with a color and some form of "EYE" in the title

Word of the Day: LOTTE LENYA (11D: Actress married to Kurt Weill) —
Lotte Lenya (18 October 1898 – 27 November 1981) was an Austrian singer, diseuse, and actress. In the German-speaking and classical music world she is best remembered for her performances of the songs of her husband, Kurt Weill. In English-language film she is remembered for her Academy Award-nominated role in The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961) and as the sadistic Rosa Klebb in the James Bond movie From Russia with Love (1963). (wikipedia)
• • •
Not really a Monday, and definitely not a puzzle for anyone under 30. Old songs with "eye" in them. Two -EYED, one EYES. Cutesy reveal. It's OK, I guess, if you enjoy LAYERs and BRAYERs and CD PLAYERs. Four partials is at least two too many for my taste. I'm guessing that if you know the music and like the music, you'll like this puzzle, and if not, not. I went through a classic rock phase in high school (yes, all these songs were already classic rock 25 years ago), so I knew all the titles, though "GREEN-EYED LADY" was by far the hardest to come up with, mainly because no one today, including most of those who actually lived through the very early '70s, could pick Sugarloaf out of a line-up. I actually listened to the opening of The Who's "Quadrophenia" today (a remastered version appears to have just been released—it's featured on Spotify), so seeing them at 1A was a strange coincidence.

Theme answers:
  • 1A: With 10- and 65-Across, 1971 hit by The Who ("BEHIND / BLUE / EYES")
  • 28A: 1967 hit by Van Morrison ("BROWN-EYED GIRL")
  • 44A: 1970 hit by Sugarloaf ("GREEN-EYED LADY")
No serious sticking points—just a general feeling that the cluing was slightly tougher / vaguer than the usual Monday cluing. Clue on BAR for instance (53A: Legal profession). Perfectly good clue, but there are way more Mondayish clues for that one. I wanted LAW. Nice musical clue on REUNITE, but again, took some crosses to figure out (42D: What the Beatles never did). No big deal. Probably the most interesting feature of the grid is the crosswordesey LOTTE LENYA showing up here in her full-name form. I had to learn both her first and last names as part of my ongoing crossword training, but I don't think I've ever seen them together in the grid like this. Speaking of crosswordese, let's pause a moment to acknowledge the presence of both SNEE (62A: Old dagger) and ELY (66A: Cathedral town near Cambridge), but of whom YOU will be seeing again, if you haven't had your fill of them already.

  • 16A: Hollywood's Howard and Perlman (RONS) — wish Perlman had been replaced with Jeremy. Lots of actors today. MEL Brooks (58D: Funnyman Brooks). RITA Rudner (42A: Funnywoman Rudner). The aforementioned LOTTE LENYA.
  • 23A: Older woman's plaything, in slang (BOYTOY) — disappointingly, not SEX TOY. I guess sex toys could belong to women (and men) of any age.
  • 51A: Who said "The joke's on you, Riddler!" (BATMAN) — it seems he said this at least once in the '60s TV series ... in keeping with the general old-timeyness of this puzzle.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Mountain in Deuteronomy / SUN 11-20-11 / Will's ex-wife on Glee / Rank in kendo / Sci-fi series set in 23rd century / Italian province seaport / TV award discontinued in 1997 / Color whose name is French for flea

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Constructor: Trip Payne

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Figure It Out" — in nine squares, letters share space with numerals (numeral in one answer, letter in the cross). PUT the NINE LETTERS IN ORDER based on the numeral they share space with, and you get NWODTNUOC ... which is to say, if you you take the numerals in reverse order, or count down, you get COUNTDOWN.

 Word of the Day: BERU (59A: Aunt ___ ("Star Wars" character)) —
Beru Whitesun Lars, the wife of Owen Lars, was a Tatooinian woman who raised Luke Skywalker after the fall of the Galactic Republic. Coming from a long line of moisture farmers, Beru Whitesun grew up near Mos Eisley on Tatooine. On a trip to Anchorhead, she met Owen Lars, the son of another moisture farmer, Cliegg Lars. Beru and Owen fell in love, and Beru later became part of the Lars family. // Shortly before the outbreak of the Clone Wars, Owen's stepmother, Shmi Skywalker Lars, was kidnapped by Tusken Raiders, an event that brought Shmi's son, Anakin Skywalker, and his soon-to-be-wife, Padmé Amidala, to the Lars homestead. Three years later, when the galactic conflict came to a close, Beru and Owen became the guardians of their new baby nephew, Luke Skywalker, after his father turned to the dark side of the Force and became Darth Vader. // The Larses raised Luke like a son. Beru would often defend Luke's interests against Owen, who was overprotective of him out of fear that he would follow in Anakin's footsteps. Though Owen refused numerous times to let Luke go when he wished to leave home to attend the Imperial Academy with his friend Biggs Darklighter, Beru convinced her husband to let Luke go after staying on for only one more season. After a year had passed, Beru tried to convince Owen that it was time to let Luke move on, but they never had time to reach an agreement. The two were killed by Imperial stormtroopers, by order of Darth Vader, who were searching for a droid carrying the stolen Death Star plans. (Wookieepedia)
• • •

Very clever without being exceedingly difficult or overly fussy. Love the little twist on "IN ORDER" (doesn't say *which* order)—the discovery of COUNTDOWN ends up being a genuine aha moment. Overall, this is a very good puzzle about which I don't have much to say. Please note the relative lack of junk fill and the sparkling, original theme answers. I think REBIDS crossing REMEET at the "RE-" is about the only icky thing here. Except BERU, which is nuts. Hey, you know OOLA, whom you occasionally see in crosswords as ["Return of the Jedi" dancing girl]? Well, I just watched "Return of the Jedi" yesterday, and there she was ... only no one ever calls her by name. Not once. The idea that we're supposed to know the name of a character whose name is never uttered, and who is on screen all of five minutes, is bizarre. And yet, someone put her in a puzzle once. And then again. And now she's crosswordese. BERU, as far as I can tell, has never been in a mainstream crossword, though I feel like her name was probably at least uttered once. By Luke. When he was whining about having to stay on the farm and help his uncle for another season. But I digress.

Theme answers:
  • 74D: Oscar-nominated sci-fi film of 2009 ("DISTRICT 9") — "C"
  • 108A: "My sources say no" source (MAGIC 8 BALL) — "O"
  • 14D: Fruit-flavored soft drink (CHERRY 7-UP) — "U"
  • 58D: One step up from a four-cylinder (V-6 ENGINE) — "N"
  • 35D: Sci-fi series set in the 23rd century ("BABYLON 5") — "T"
  • 38D: It was first broken in 1954 (4-MINUTE MILE) — "D" ... this was the answer that really broke open the puzzle for me. Dropped it in with no crosses. It proved invaluable for navigating that tough middle of the grid.
  • 23A: Computer animation option (3-D GRAPHICS) — "O"
  • 2D: Dinner date request (TABLE FOR 2) — "W" ... love this answer, though one thing about these theme answers is that their use of numerals is not consistent. By which I mean, nobody uses a numeral when writing out this phrase, whereas in every other phrase, use of the numeral is accurate, or at least defensible.
  • 79D: Thiamine (VITAMIN B1) — "N"    

[87A: Bob Marley's group, with "the"]

CABLE ACE is a great retro answer, though a bit awkward, in that I've absolutely never heard the words "CABLE ACE" used without an "AWARD" chaser (83D: TV award discontinued in 1997). OMG I just noticed IRING, which is hilariously terrible (IRE as a verb is never welcome — usu. shows up in IRES or IRED form; I've never seen IRING before in my life, not in the grid, not out of the grid, never) (33A: Teeing off). Aside from BERU, my main "I did not know that" moment came with HOREB (34A: Mountain in Deuteronomy). I sure as hell needed every cross to get that one. I thought maybe GOREN, but that's the bridge column guy. Wife is a black belt, so I got DAN pretty easily (18A: Rank in kendo). I just a couple days ago looked up LEDE to make sure I was spelling it right (19A: Article's start, to a journalist). Only Gleeks are going to know 7D: Will's ex-wife on "Glee" (TERRI). Well, Gleeks and me, a reformed Gleek.  I wanted SHERI. The crosses seem fair. I know BARI from crosswords (briefly thought it might be BERI) and I learned that PUCE trivia some time ago ... then forgot it ... until I remembered it (96D: Color whose name is French for "flea").

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Sunday 11/20 puzzle—the correct .pdf

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Apparently the .pdf at the NYT site is messed up.

Use this:

Write-up forthcoming.



Flying Cloud maker / SAT 11-19-11 / Old shippable shelter / Sea bream in sushi bar / Faux amateurs / For Laughing Out Loud memorist / Brand of literature

Constructor: Allan E. Parrish

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: McPeople — A pair of intersecting Mc- names in each quadrant of the grid

Word of the Day: ETESIAN (13D: Like some annual Mediterranean winds) —
Occurring annually. Used of the prevailing northerly summer winds of the Mediterranean.

[From Latin etēsius, from Greek etēsios, from etos, year.]
etesian e·te'sian n.
• • •

This played Easy-Medium for me, but I can tell from the times at the NYT website that I'm in the minority, and I understand why. If I didn't teach a course on comics, and thus have at least a passing familiarity with the name George MCMANUS, I don't know what would've happened to me in that (deathly) NE corner. That thing was its own puzzle. Both Mc's were phenomenally obscure / old. Old-timey intersecting Old-timey coupled with ETESIAN intersecting NISI (!?!?) (22A: Like some divorce decrees) coupled with "The CID" ("The" When is it ever not "El"!?!?!) (10D: Alfonso VI exiled him, with "the") coupled with TAI (31A: Sea bream, in a sushi bar) — that's a recipe for trouble. I was bailed out several times in this puzzle by personal and/or puzzling experience. I'd seen [Flying Cloud maker] in puzzles before (REO). I know NISI is a Latin legal word, so even though the context here was baffling to me, I got it ("S" = last letter into the grid). IPO and CLU and EMU (33D: Noted six-foot runner) were all gimmes (cluing / answer length on IPO and EMU were dead giveaways). Biggest luck-out, besides the MCMANUS thing, was QUONSET (40D: Old shippable shelter), which I know about only from stumbling on it in some other crossword. Misspelled it QUINSET, but figured LOINS was probably not another word for [Fruitcakes], and fixed it. I thought figuring out the MC- theme would make this thing a piece of cake, and it certainly helped, but the cluing got ratcheted up enough to offset the McHelp.

Theme answers:
  • MCGWIRE (1A: Cardinal making many round trips) — nice clue
  • MCCOURT (1D: 1997 Pulitzer-winning memoirist)
  • MCCAREY (?) (8A: "Going My Way" Best Director winner)
  • MCMANUS (8D: George ___, "Bringing Up Father" cartoonist)
  • MCQUEEN (38A: The King of Cool)
  • MCCLAREN (?) (38D: Formula One racing legend Bruce)
  • MCMAHON (42D: "For Laughing Out Loud" memoirist)
  • MCBRIDE (42A: Martina with five #1 country hits) — by far the easiest of the Mc's to get

[29D: 1978 Grammy winner for the jazz album "Friends"]

Not that fond of CARSON'S or its clue (17A: "___ Comedy Classics" (syndicated TV series)); I've never seen / heard of this alleged series. Is it still on? I assume it's something to do with Johnny Carson. Yes, here you go. It's a terrible partial, is what I'm saying. MADAMES isn't the greatest plural, but it saved my neck in the NE, so no complaints (18A: Pompadour and others). I was frustrated that I couldn't get the second half of either ICE- or RAIL- during my first pass at them (28A: Producer of a chilling effect + 47A: Track team member?). My brain actually went to COLA and CONE (?) before CUBE. The "Carmen" clue is mean-spirited, of course, but once I got the "CE-" I figure out what it was after. TAI was rough, though I know I've seen it before. BECCA, also rough (30D: Daughter on ABC's "Life Goes On"). That's going way back for a secondary TV character from a never-that-popular show. No idea who Baal Shem Tov is, but I had enough crosses to make HASIDIC pretty easy (61A: Like Baal Shem Tov's sect). Can't for the life of me remember who ETHAN Brand is. I wanted ELTON, but he plays basketball. Well, I guess I can be forgiven, since it's from a Nathaniel Hawthorne short story. One that I didn't read in college, apparently (20A: Brand of literature). My favorite clue / answer of the day was RINGERS (24D: Faux amateurs). I don't have a good explanation for why.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Hockey East town / FRI 11-18-11 / Partner of ciencias / Cry repeated Whiffenpoof Song / 1955 Belmont Preakness winner

Friday, November 18, 2011

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: TOGGERY (39D: Duds) —
n. pl. tog·ger·ies
1. Clothing; togs.
2. A clothing store. (
• • •

A relatively easy and almost completely unremarkable puzzle. Fridays and Saturdays should have fresh, original, splashy answers. This one doesn't. I like AND I QUOTE ... but I've seen it before. NO MYSTERY is vaguely interesting. Otherwise, it's a solid but completely generic puzzle. Well, solid except for TAUR, SASES, IFY, and SEATER. And maybe SEINER.

["MAKIN' It" — 50A: "___ It," 1979 top 10 hit)]

[What the hell?]

Got a fast start on this one with RIDGE (too easy) and then ENOS (5D: Grandson of 21-Across) (which I wrote in without even confirming what 21-Across was—seemed obvious). Whole NW went down from there, with only ARTES (19A: Partner of ciencias) giving me any trouble (couldn't piece together what "ciencias" was; thought it was 100 ... something, but now that I say it out loud, its real meaning seems more obvious). No real problems through the middle. Needed crosses to get NASHUA (28D: 1955 Belmont and Preakness winner that shared its name with a U.S. city), wrote in SONY for SEGA at first (46A: Big maker of consoles), but nothing slowed me down much. SE was as easy if not easier than the NW (except for the part where I wanted ELI instead of BAA—42A: Cry repeated in "The Whiffenpoof Song"). Really dislike IN A BIKINI (32D: How some calorie counters eventually want to look good)—it's just not not not a stand-alone phrase, any more than IN A PANTSUIT or IN A MUUMUU. NE and SW proved somewhat more difficult. Finally cracked the NE when I guessed (off a few crosses) SCHNITZEL (18A: Veal dish). DIANA ROSS helped as well (6A: Billboard once named her "Female Entertainer of the Century"). SW was probably the toughest, primarily because of TOGGERY (!?!?!) and NO MYSTERY (57A: Something transparent), which I kept trying to make into a fabric like POLYESTER. Guessed ORONO much the same way I guessed ENOS—had a letter in the right place, and it just felt right (44D: Hockey East town). ENOS and ORONO are everywhere. Every constant solver knows them. Crosswordese is a massive fund that we draw on almost instinctively when making educated guesses about 3-5-letter words. See also SASES.

[30D: "Love Sneakin' Up on You" singer, 1994 = Bonnie RAITT]

  • 35A: Pollux and Aldebaran (K-STARS) — had the KST- part before I ever saw the clue, so it was easy. Just finished watching "The Empire Strikes Back" with my daughter. Aldebaran sounds like somebody's home planet. 
  • 37A: Capone portrayer, 1959 (STEIGER) — I did not know that. He won an Academy Award for "In the Heat of the Night"; he also did other stuff.

  • 10D: Environmental datum of concern to asthmatics, for short (AQI) — Air Quality Index. Pretty sure I learned this from crosswords.
  • 50D: Fashion designer Jacobs (MARC) — here is an interesting datum about Mr. Jacobs: "He is perhaps best known as the designer of STEVE Jobs' (13D: Either co-founder of Apple) rimless eyeglasses, which became a sought-after item following Jobs' death in 2011 and sold out in stores around the world" (wikipedia).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Duplex mail / THU 11-17-11 / Mad manager / Savory turnover from south of border / 40th since 1789 / D-Day refuges for wounded

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Constructor: Patrick Merrell

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "LETTER SORTING" (35A: "Stronger title" for this puzzle) — Clues are odd phrases that, when anagrammed, create familiar words/phrases meaning "anagrammed"

  • 17A: Roof detour => OUT OF ORDER
  • 26A: Duplex mail => ALL MIXED UP
  • 49A: Rear garden => REARRANGED
  • 57A: Mad manager => ANAGRAMMED

Word of the Day: Gamal ABDEL Nassar (7D: Egypt's Gamal ___ Nassar) —
Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein (15 January 1918 – 28 September 1970) was the second President of Egypt from 1956 until his death. A colonel in the Egyptian army, Nasser led the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 along with Muhammad Naguib, the first president, which overthrew the monarchy of Egypt and Sudan, and heralded a new period of modernization, and socialist reform in Egypt together with a profound advancement of pan-Arab nationalism, including a short-lived union with Syria. // Nasser is seen as one of the most important political figures in both modern Arab history and politics in the 20th century. Under his leadership, Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal Company and came to play a central role in anti-imperialist efforts in the Arab World and Africa. The imposed ending to the Suez Crisis made him a hero throughout the Arab world. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the international Non-Aligned Movement. He is well known for his nationalist policies and version of pan-Arabism, also referred to as Nasserism, which won a great following in the Arab World during the 1950s and 1960s. Although his status as "leader of the Arabs" was badly damaged by the Israeli victory over the Arab armies in the Six-Day War, as well as Egypt's failure to win the subsequent War of Attrition against Israel, many in the general Arab population still view Nasser as a symbol of Arab dignity and freedom. (wikipedia)
• • •

An interesting theme that had me baffled for quite a long time. When I don't pick up a theme til the bottom half of the grid, that means trouble. Wasn't until I got most of REARRANGED that I realized what was happening. I thought the cluing in general was a notch harder than usual, so crosses weren't abundant enough for me to pick the theme up earlier. Also, the theme revealer is a super-lame non-phrase. All the theme answers are perfect, and then there's this horrid, ungainly, "LETTER SORTING" right smack dab in the middle of things. Was that to ensure that the word "title" could be found in there? Ugh. Once I discovered the theme, I zipped through the puzzle *except* for one stupid, inexcusable, I'm-an-idiot mistake that cost me a huge amount of time. Not a mistake, really, but an eye skip / misread. I had USE IN at 33A: "___ in good health" and didn't question it for a second. Wrote it in early and thought nothing of it. But in the end I could not *$&%ing figure out what 34D: Certain cut-off point (TIME LIMIT) was. I thought my error was at "EMILY" (41A: "See ___ Play," classic Pink Floyd song) ("classic" song? Never heard of it). I was even second-guessing NIBS. NUBS? NEBS? It's NIBS, right? Aargh. Had NIME LIMIT and even checked all the crosses in NIME at least once (which means my brain blocked that "in" in the clue multiple times!!!?). Finally read clues more deliberately and noticed my stupid stupid reading mistake and changed USE IN to USE IT. Stupid, horrible partial, but stupider solving error on my part. All in all, this seems a solid enough puzzle, even though I didn't find it that enjoyable.

ABDEL???? With an "E"? Ugh. Parrots say "AWK" now???? (23D: Parrot's cry) What the hell? I wrote in BOELYN. It felt so right. It still looks righter to me than BOLEYN (53A: House of Tudor woman). I really hate the word "appurtenance," in that it's unnecessarily long and pretentiously Latinate. Equipment. Gear. This is what you mean here (4D: Painter's appurtenance => DROP CLOTH). EMPANADA was my first breakthrough word (36D: Savory turnover from south of the border)—first 6+-letter word I managed to get into the grid successfully. REAGAN was another important get (47D: The 40th since 1789). Those two answers helped me get into the theme (finally), and then build the rest of the grid from the bottom up.

  • 25D: Magazine that serialized Simone de Beauvoir's 1967 "La femme rompue" (ELLE) — four letters, something French, ELLE. One of the easier clues in the puzzle. 
  • 20A: Tea-grading term (PEKOE) — Thought PEKOE was a type of tea. Didn't know "grading" was involved. Apparently PEKOE is " A grade of black tea consisting of the leaves around the buds." (
  • 24D: Yachting need (SAIL) — There aren't motorized yachts? 
  • 52A: D-Day refuges for the wounded, for short (LSTS) — learned this term from xwords, but had no idea these craft were "refuges for the wounded." 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


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