Magic Flute protagonist / SUN 6-17-12 / Mythical elixir of forgetfulness / Arctic waters on historical maps / Its stem is used in miso soup / Knowledge is food of soul / Classical bow wielder / Source of words mulligatawny catamaran / Long-jawed fish / Lovingly to musician

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Constructor: Kyle T. Dolan

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Playable" — add "BLE" to familiar phrase, get wackiness, etc.

Word of the Day: BELOT (30A: Trick-taking game) —
Belot also Bridge belot is the name of a French trick-taking card game very popular in Bulgaria, in some parts of CroatiaBosnia and HerzegovinaSerbiaMacedonia (Especially Bitola),[1] and inSaudi Arabia. It is also played by the Armenian Diaspora, in former USSR area (RussiaUkraine,Republic of Moldova) and by Jewish communities worldwide. (wikipedia)
• • •

Got theme quickly and then just mubbled through. WARBLE ON DRUGS is great, the rest, just OK. I was surprised at how yucky the fill was. If you have AMAH, BELOT and LITH in one little section of the grid ... well, something should change, and fast. And that's not even counting neighboring ABES and POR, yikes. And this is with cheaters aplenty. I mean, all over. Well, specifically up top and (especially) in the east and west. All those black squares whose only purpose is to make the grid easier to fill—so we get more short answers, and more crud. GAR! GAH! BOK! It's a (be)lot to take.

This puzzle also had some bad luck that you might not be aware of, i.e. it came out just one month after an LA Times Sunday puzzle with exactly the same theme.

Theme answers:
  • 22A: Falter while imitating Jay-Z? (BUMBLE RAP) — this one is messed up a bit. Are you bumbling the genre? Or a specific rap (in which case leaving out the indef. article seems awkward). Also, "bubble wrap" is a thing, so the whole playful thing that's supposed to be going on is lost because it sounds like a very different playful thing is happening.
  • 24A: Something thrown in "West Side Story"? (RUMBLE PUNCH)
  • 36A: Sing high notes? (WARBLE ON DRUGS)
  • 54A: Cry upon arriving at an earthquake site? ("THERE'S THE RUBBLE!")
  • 77A: What the turnover-prone football player had? (DROPPING TROUBLE)
  • 92A: Shenanigans at the royal court? (NOBLE NONSENSE)
  • 110A: Nickname for a hard-to-understand monarch? (QUEEN MUMBLE)
  • 114A: Lens cover for a large telescope? (HUBBLE CAP) — too easy
  • 45A: Noted 2011 TV retiree, popularly (REGIS) — of course you're supposed to enter OPRAH here, but I already had crosses, so no such trouble.
  • 108A: He wrote  "Knowledge is the food of the soul" (PLATO) — Somehow, with "PL-" in place, I thought PLINY would be a good answer ... ?!

  • 116A: Classical bow wielder (EROS) — don't know how original the clue is, but it's good, insofar as it misdirects slightly toward classical music.
  • 3D: Source of the words "mulligatawny" and "catamaran" (TAMIL) — I certainly did not know that.
  • 39D: Baseball's Justin or B.J. (UPTON) — gimme. Both guys are good. Justin's got a few more accolades. 
  • 53D: "The Magic Flute" protagonist (TAMINO) — I realize "The Magic Flute" is a big deal, but TAMINO looks nuts. Needed every cross.
  • 62D: Lovingly, to a musician (AMOROSO) — this is not-great fill in the heart of a very dicey section. I mean, -OON? That's possibly worse than OOX [Tic tac toe loss]. Then there's the GAR (80D: Long-jawed fish) in the foreign OCEANO which feeds into the ICY SEA (wtf?) (78D: Arctic waters, on historical maps). 
  • 79D: Mythical elixir of forgetfulness (NEPENTHE) — learned this from the book that has taught me more about great philosophical issues than almost any other book, ancient or modern. I'm speaking, of course, of "Watchmen."
  • 111D: Its stem is used in miso soup (UDO) — U ... no.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:19 AM  

As a member of both the Armenian and Jewish disapora living in Saudi Arabia, BELOT was a gimme.

DROPPING TROUble was the 1/8 that felt wacky to me.

syndy 12:45 AM  

GAH! < elegant.It had some good stuff=I liked 1 across(NATO)and 75down(KENT)and NEPENTHE but the theme entries!holy moly what a mess; and not just because I held onto snaPPINGTROUBLE way too long!It made no sense but neither did the others. now I need me a quaff of NEPENTHE and forget all this.

Poe 1:59 AM  

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

r.alphbunker 2:14 AM  

I found this to be a tricky puzzle with a nice theme.

Finished with OnEs instead of OPED. I had SsS instead of SDS and UnTON instead of UPTON so I rate that as carelessness on my part. This is a case where the across word was perfectly plausible but the downs were clearly wrong.

Also finished with OCEANa and AMORaSO. Again, if I had looked at the downs I would have noticed that AMORaSO looked odd.

Third time was the charm for the {Marx brother}. Went through harPO and GePPO before I arrived at ZEPPO

chefwen 2:25 AM  

Loved DROPPING TROUble and QUEEN MUMble, once you got the gist of the theme it was fun filling in the BLEs where appropriate. A little sadness squeezed its way into the puzzle for me. Went down to the local mom and pop convenience store the other day and there was a flier pinned onto the cork board about a missing kitty named Bok Choy 56D. Cute little guy, hope they find him.

Thanks Kyle T. Dolan, had a good time with this one, keep 'em coming.

Rube 2:25 AM  

I must say that I agree with #31 about the theme and fill in this puzz, even down to BELOT being the WOTD... wanted whisT, which made fArsi work before TAMIL.

Did not know that REGIS retired last year, so bAH instead of GAH left me with REbIS and another, (sob), Sunday DNF.

Still, an enjoyable evening spent on this puzzle. Saw The Magic Flute last Wednesday night... Albina Shagimuratova was an absolutely marvelous Queen of the Night, (despite wearing red in the first act -- not her fault).

jae 3:05 AM  

A nice medium meat and potatoes Sun.   I liked it!  The theme answers were zippy enough for me to forgive some of the iffy fill (except for maybe GAH).

Erasures: uSo for BSA,  harPO for ZEPPO.

Wiki says BELOTE.

No problem crosses that I can see unless you misspell KASHMIR.

The Bard 5:35 AM  

Hamlet > Act III, scene I

HAMLET: To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

orangeblossomspecial 7:33 AM  

It took a few guesses to figure out the theme, but once I did, it helped fill in several squares.

Frank Crumit recorded "I'm betting the roll on 38D ROAMER".

Tyler 7:35 AM  

Nothing's worse than OOX!!

Glimmerglass 7:42 AM  


Rob C 8:34 AM  

Another "wackiness ensues" puzzle. As Rex points out WARBLEONDRUGS is best by a mile. For some of the others I couldn't help but think that the original phrase was more interesting than the wacky phrase: Dropping Trou, Bum rap, and There's the rub. In any case, I don't mean to sound too negative. It was fun.

A few problems: originally put in ICeSEA for ICYSEA and left the incorrect e there b/c ePRES made just as much sense to me as YPRES.

Put in Hindi for TAMIL which required some untangling later.

Also, this may get into some serious semantics, but 1A (grp. with an alphabet) just didn't sit right. They use the same 26 letters in the same order, just difft symbols/words to represent the letters. So is that really a distinguishable alphabet? I can understand both sides of the argument

Rob C 9:17 AM  

Forgot to mention when I was about halfway done with the puzzle last night I put it down to reset my brain. I had put in ARTSHOp for 35D making 69A CRAp. Wife gave it a glance and asked what the clue was for CRAp. Was able to fix it quickly but wackiness ensued thinking of a clue for crap. Our winner: Reason to pamper a child.

PS-Just looked and crap has actually been used twice in the NYT clued in the context of a losing dice roll.

Z 9:37 AM  

Hand up for whist/hindi.

@Bard - Man, that guy could write.

Servicable Sunday. I'm glad HUBBLE CAP was too easy, because that's where I got the theme.

Happy Father's Day.

jackj 9:41 AM  

Another Sunday, another cutesy theme, another paucity of satisfying fill, just another Sunday.

The theme is actually quite well done for this type of thing but it seems to have demanded too much of the constructor, resulting in inattention to the fill and too many compromises needed to protect the theme entries.

The best of the theme entries were THERESTHERUB(BLE), DROPPINGTROU(BLE) and QUEENMUM(BLE), entries that were good as stand-alones without the BLE thematic add-ons and that didn’t suffer from the punning.

The fill showed spurts of promise with OHBROTHER, IGNEOUS and GESTATES plus the two best entries, DOLOR and PERPLEX but fill like BELOT, TAMIL, GAH, TAMINO, YPRES, NEPENTHE, AMOROSO, OCEANO and more tired old stuff that gave us the international discount law firm of SHAH, AMAH, SETH, NACRE and ECTO emphasized the puzzles shortcomings.

It seems too many Sunday puzzles reflect this over emphasis on theme. Maybe Will will surprise us one day with a Sunday 21X21 themeless.

Tita 9:55 AM  

What @jae said - "Nice meat & potatoes Sun".

Got the theme right at WARBLEONDRUGS - great answer!
2nd favorite - HUBBLECAP. I wonder if Perkin-Elmer makes high-precision hubcaps? (The Hubble was built in my home town...)

@Rob C - love your CRAp clue!

DNF with ARTSHOp/CRAp (vestigial xtail from first answer CRop), and dumb OgEe/UgTON etc. pileup.
But overall a fun ride with a trick that helped get the theme answers.

Charley 10:19 AM  

Still don't get 1 Across.

Gill I. P. 10:33 AM  

Oh, I see, take out the BLE...I felt a bit of DOLOR with this puzzle. I actually didn't mind some of the other fill. TAMINO('s )aria is just wonderful. If you are so inclined, listen to Jonas Kaufmann - he certainly fits the bill as the handsome prince in the "Magic Flute." Didn't know the WOTD BELOT and I enjoy playing lots of cards.
A BRA is a cup holder? No bra I ever wore held a cup..."May I get you a bra full of coffee?"
NEPENTHE is a great word - right in that corner with YPRES ORIENTS and PLATO.
Happy Father's Day. The HANDYMAN gets to do nothing today. Just Relax and eat his heart out....

chefbea 10:40 AM  

I too got the theme at Hubble cap, which made it a bit easier.But still DNF.

Couldn't get ball partner but one I did thought it was a great clue

Of course knew Ft. Bragg.

Haven't been around for three days, very busy. What did I miss??

Z 10:46 AM  

@Charley - NATO alphabet.

@Gill I.P. - D, C, B, or A.

Numbers Guy 11:04 AM  

if you take the position that all benzs are luxurious, then the clue for 55D should simply say line or mid-level mercedes.
i took the magazine to my mercedes dealer yesterday to complain that he overcharged me for the S550. instead of insisting that the clue was inaccurate, he offered an upgrade to an E320.

yes, it was an easy letter to erase, but the NYT is getting worse with these misrepresentations of the 1%.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

A BRA (113D)is no more a "cup holder" than a fork is a tine holder. Both are items that *include* these features to hold other things.

But the flat-out error in this puzzle's cluing is 85A. The PEEN is not defined as being "ball-shaped". It is the surface on some hammers (i.e. non-claw) opposite the face that can be rounded, wedge-shaped, or other. When ball-shaped it is a ball-peen hammer. It can also be blue, so would "blue part" have been a valid clue?

@Numbers Guy 11:04am: Considering the demographic the Times wants to cater to (esp. on Sunday) we should be grateful they at least concede that the Mercedes E-CLASS is a luxury item. I was afraid they were going for "Maybach". 

Gill I. P. 11:23 AM  

@Z ..Gee thanks....I think! I know the darn sizes it's just that the clue calling it a "cup holder" threw me off kilter!
And speaking of clues..What the heck is DQED for 104D?

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

@Gill I.P.:

DQED= disqualified

Mel Ott 11:35 AM  


Has anyone in the history of humankind ever said "GAH"?

Willie 11:39 AM  

I never 'WARBLEd' in my life!

Shamik 11:40 AM  

Took me an extra two minutes to find the O at the cross of OCEANO/AMOROSO...and still came in at easy-medium time.

Despite a lot of yucky fill, I enjoyed QUEENMUMBLE and especially DROPPINGTROUBLE!

Shamik 11:41 AM  

@Mel Ott: I think GAH is less a word than a sound, kind of like a snort in the back of your throat.

Tita 11:44 AM  

GAH - I forgot to tell my E-CLASS story...
While living in Germany, Hertz called me to say I had to bring my rental in, they wanted to exchange it, and had a very nice A-Class waiting for me.
We were about to embark on a major roadtrip, so I told her "no thanks - that car is much too small".
Flabbergasted, and probably annoyed at the "ugly big-car-driving American", she stammered and told me how fine an automobile the A-Class is.

I finally realized that though she was speaking to me in (near perfect) English, she was saying the letters in German...
"E" is pronounced like our "A". She was, in fact, offering me a really nice E-Class!
(The "Aah"-Class is a micro car that is not sold here.)

fvigeland 12:11 PM  

I say GAH all the time! Or, at least, I write it ironically on Facebook.

I quite enjoyed this one. QUEENMUMble was my favorite. The bad fill wasn't so distracting with cool things like YOUTUBE (great clue on that), OHBROTHER, HANDYMAN, PERPLEX, and OPENWIDE. Also DQED looked really neat in the grid. I liked it!

Sue McC 12:30 PM  

Fun. Ish. Really didn't like BELOT. Theme clever for a minute or two the morphed into silly/dull. Feels like it's been a while since we had a really satisfying Sunday.

hazel 12:56 PM  

theme answers outshined (outshone?) the fill. I used to hate these sorts of puns, but now they make me chuckle. Hope this is not an early sign of senescence.

The downs pinning YPRES to the board were ridiculous -- ICYSEA, NEPENTHE, AMAROSO - really? Otherwise pretty standard mixed bag of fill. A few highs, some WTFs, some whatevers, and a few more lows than you would like - kind of like life.


Martin 12:57 PM  

The E-class is nice enough, but its design goal is European taxicab. "Luxury" in this case is an artifact of marketing.

Maybach ceases to exist in 2013. That clue belongs to SCLASS. Sorry.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

I still don't get the NATO alphabet thing (1 Across). Does NATO have its own alphabet? It's an acronym but...

Hated GAH!

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

Mass Merchandise = BIBLES

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

Mass Merchandise = BIBLES

Happy Gilmore 1:10 PM  

Has anyone, aside from me, made a double-eagle ace?

Bird 1:27 PM  

I haven't been here for a few days - hope all is well in Rexworld. I thought this puzzle was fun even though some of the theme wasn't that wacky and some of the fill wasn't that great. The big AHA moment came at 77A then the rest fell in easy enough.

I wonder if the original clue for 81D was "Topps rival"

Happy Father's Day

PS. @Happy - yes, there have been several aces carded on Par 4 holes, as well as at least one ace on a Par 5. Mostly because the hole had a severe dogleg and the player took the shortcut.

Martin 1:28 PM  

NATO alphabet.

(Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

Brookboy 1:47 PM  

I fell into the ICESEA trap, then spent a few minutes thinking about why I never heard of EPRES until the penny dropped. I also came up with AMORASO because of OCEANA instead of OCEANO. I guess I was drowning in the water clues.

My biggest trouble was the southeast corner, had to put the puzzle aside on Saturday. Got up this morning and got them all right away. My morning brain is often a lot sharper than my afternoon or evening brain.

I liked the puzzle well enough. Unlike a lot of others, I generally enjoy the Sunday puzzles (which I get on Saturday). One of my favorite moments of each week is opening the magazine section to the puzzle on Saturday morning and getting involved. Because I love that moment so much I am inclined to be more forgiving of some of the issues others don't like.

joho 1:47 PM  

@jackj ... a themeless Sunday puzzle? Sacriledge!!!

jae 1:56 PM  

As long as we are sharing stories I once saw Robert Redford having lunch with his family at NEPENTHE in Big Sur. Last time we stopped there it was closed for renovations or ...? (I'm not sure why.)

And yes, I know this is not an Andrea calibre story.

mac 1:58 PM  

I hate blogger.

Nice enough Sunday for me. After a couple of crosses for 22A I thought it might be: "cut the rap", and a theme of cleaned up rudish expression. Alas. I looked at the title for once, parsed it play a -ble and figured it out. It did help to be able to put in the bles!

Rumble punch is my least favorite, and also the area I finished last.

Happy fathers' day!

JenCT 2:11 PM  

@Rob C: I second your great clue for CRaP!

I found the NW corner to be the hardest

Favorite answer was QUEEN MUMBLE.


Agree that the BRA answer seems slightly off.

Happy Father's day.

DigitalDan 2:33 PM  

As a broadly educated, worldly, sociable Silicon Valley musician and scientist, I believe I'm allowed to object to the cluing for "geek." Let's return that one to the earlier circus freak usage? We have, to be sure, our share of nerds in the valley, but equally many nerkles and seersuckers. But very few geeks. Oh, well.

Sparky 3:01 PM  

Caught it on WARBLE ON DRUGS then able to put BLEs in around the grid. Had harPO but then big aha with ARNAZ. Do malt shops still exist? Me too on ePRES. Thanks @Z to the NATO alphabet. Kind of a nice Sunday stroll that I was aBLE to do.

Sparky 3:04 PM  

Wonderful time had by Mac, Sparky and Tita as three chicks went to JenCT's to meet our chicken namesakes. Thanks Jen.

jackj 3:36 PM  


Uh oh! Rather than risk excommunication from Crossworld I'll revise my comment to:

Maybe Will will surprise us one day with a Second Sunday 21X21 themeless.

Okay now?

JaxInL.A. 4:18 PM  

@Sparky, do you have any pix of the hen party? Sounds fun.

Lewis 4:29 PM  

Workmanlike puzzle for me.

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

Bra = cup size. Like 36C or 34D. The bra holds the cup.

retired_chemist 4:51 PM  

Nice puzzle. Surprised at the number of solvers stuck by Ypres. Check out the Monty Python bit, "Ypres 1914, the Short Straw."

Other than that, what everybody said.

Anonymous 5:08 PM  

quilter1 here. Blogger is messing with my mind. ECLASS was my last entry as I had CRop before CRAW. It was OK, I like puns and these weren't bad.

Unrelated but exciting to me, the church where I have been subbing gave me a parting gift. One of the members drew an original quilt pattern and named it for me, then included all of the fabric needed pre-cut so all I have to do is sew it together. Whee!

mmespeer 5:10 PM  

Does anyone else here remember a comedy sketch from way back...maybe Bob Newhart or Nichols/May ...spelling something over the phone with letters like "P as in phone", and "G as in gnarl", etc?????

Steve J 5:31 PM  

Took me forever to suss the theme on this one. Didn't beg it until WARBLEONDRUGS, which was my penultimate completed theme answer. Finally the "insert BLE" conceit clicked. Only helped me with the BUMBLERAP, which I agree was too close to "bubble wrap" for purposes of the theme.

While the fill wasn't exactly stellar, there was lots of cluing I enjoyed, like "Ball partner" (I kept thinking baseball terms, like strike or bat) and "Source of a viral outbreak". That helped make things a little more enjoyable.

Agreed with others who don't like the Mercedes clue. If you're going to say it's the luxury line, there is no choice but the S Class. Even if you presume that all Mercedes are luxury, the S Class is still the luxury label compared to the rest of their lineup.

chefbea 6:03 PM  

Everyone see the full page ad in the Sunday Style section of the NYT...Van Cleef and Arpels????

Anonymous 6:36 PM  

This puzzle was deeply flawed. As everyone know, the Hubble is a 2.3 meter telescope. That is not a "large telescope.". Compare with Keck (10 meter), Magellan (6.5 meters), Subaru (8 meter), McDonald observatory's 10 meter HET, etc, etc, etc.

Martin 6:51 PM  

It's hard to tell if Anon 6:36 PM is just trolling, but a 2.4 meter (not 2.3, btw) telescope is considered large anywhere.

lawprof 6:57 PM  

The S Class is the Cadillac of the Mercedes marque. E Class is for the hoi polloi.

Got the theme about mid-way through, but then got hung up on DROPPINGproblem at 77A, which left me with the base phrase "DOPPINGprom"!!?? But it fit, and contained the added "ble" so took a while to abandon it.

All in all a satisfying Sunday challenge.

loren muse smith 7:00 PM  

Fine Sunday and fun theme. Got it at BUMBLE RAP. “Salt” for SWAB made me so disappointed that TARA wasn’t Mammy’s home. I was delighted when I figured that corner out.

I like the words IGNEOUS.

@Rob C – too funny!

@Tita – great E class story!

On HANDYMAN – my husband can fix pretty near anything around the house. The impressive thing about this is his preferred tools. He is NOT a duct tape guy. His go-to tools are: sixteen penny nails, a blow torch, vice grips, and a caulk gun. If I see him come whistling through the kitchen with his caulk gun and the blow torch, I know he’s either installing a ceiling fan or hanging some pictures.

Numbers Guy 7:26 PM  

since i think i started the complaint about this E Class debacle, ive been thinking further, and dont believe will is at fault. the times editors are probably pressuring him to join them in creating a 1984ish universe for their readers in which the S Class doesnt exist. if romney is elected, the only people who will be able to afford S's are people who already have one (or 2 - the other an AMG), so they will become irrelevant. as the ever-brilliant economic analysis in krugmans column said last week

"the maybach is gone - the 2010 S stole its taillights, and like the maybach which most people have never even seen, the S will disappear in our minds.

look what austerity has done to greece - they can only afford C Classes for taxis in athens."

E is the new S.
settle for less, america.

(this comment brought to you by the mercedes benz E Class - the new standard of luxury)

Anonymous 7:42 PM  

The fill in this puzzle made it impossible for me. I never heard of Ypres, so how would I ever know to change the E in icE to a Y? Or find the P in nePenthe. I never heard of belot so how would I know to choose TamiL over Tamir? Gar, gah, peen, udo, I had to question what language was on the grid. I agree with all who thought that the drive to hold onto the theme created a less than satisfying puzzle. There surely was a better balance to be struck.

Martin 8:37 PM  

@Numbers Guy,

You can have both in one car. Greatest car I ever owned was an S65 AMG. Got it new for a song (very long story that is, sadly, not reproducible), and drove it hard for four years. I surprised a lot of drivers and scared a lot of passengers with that car. Until you've drifted through a decreasing-radius turn at 60 MPH in a 5,000 lb. car with three unsuspecting people in the rear, you've never gotten the most from your rear-view mirror.

mac 8:47 PM  

@lawprof and @Steve J: do you feel this way about the E 55 as well?

Anonymous 9:23 PM  

QueenMum-ble was fun fill.

However, she was never a monarch. She was Queen Consort to her husband King George IX, who was the monarch. She was also Mum to Queen Elizabeth II, who is the monarch.

But never a monarch herself.


Anonymous 9:38 PM  

@ Martin - uh... You realize Wikipedia lists the Hubble on the list of smaller telescopes, right? For a list of really big glass, see 2.4 meter is so 1970s. I mean, Hale @ Palomar was 4+ meters in 1948. Being in space is cool and all - but it ain't large.

retired_chemist 9:48 PM  

I thought the point of the Hubble was that since it is free of atmospheric fluctuations and distortions, it is much more powerful than a much larger one on earth.

Martin 10:21 PM  

The 54th largest telescope on earth or in space is not a small telescope! If you disagree, get Wikipedia to change those article titles from "Largest" and "Large" to "Large" and "Small."

And yes, r_c, the 54th largest, being in space, is very powerful. We'll be sorry to lose it.

Numbers Guy 10:37 PM  

just realized a missed opportunity for a double dip clue.

32D should have been "expensive mercedes benz line".

i drove an SLS around the track at lime rock, but it was only half the price of the $450k SLR. isnt everyone tired of the camera clues for SLR yet?

damn, and i just saw that artshop/crap was wrong. another sunday with an error.

Tita 11:23 PM  

@Loren - ha ha! The blowtorch is a favorite tool in this household too!
(Though vice grips sound a lot more fun than the mundane vise grips in our garage...)

afroqwn 12:04 AM  

I've been working on the puzzles while on a trip to Europe. Three Euros per day for the International Herald Tribune seemed well worth while.
I found the theme through the Queen Mumble clue, which I thought was very funny. In Europe we'd been inundated with coverage of the Queen's Diamond celebrations - she's not the Queen Mum (that was HER mother)!
We also spent a day visiting Ypres and the surrounding areas, learning about the enormity of the loss of life there during WW1, visiting the cemetaries, staying for the poignant Last Post, which is held each night in Ypres, commemorating over 500,00 men who died in futile, miserable trench warfare over four years.
Ypres was totally razed, and then rebuilt in its 14th century glory. If you visit Western Flanders or Northern France, take the time to visit the monuments and say "never again".

paulsfo 1:55 AM  

As others have said, some phrases used for creating the theme were more enjoyable than the resulting answers.

The NATO "alphabet" is a phonetic alphabet, of which there are several. NATO's uses "Alpha" for "A", "Bravo" for "B", etc. But I agree that it's a (slightly) lame clue.

To whomever asked, "DQed" is "disqualified," and I think this is a common usage (in certain contexts).

I'll try to only comment on the capchas this one time.
i) They really are *way* too difficult (especially considering what they are guarding against; i.e., the rare spurious comment if slightly easier capchas were used).
ii) There *aren't* "two WORDS" to type. ;)

paulsfo 2:00 AM  

[sorry. forgot to ask to have comments mailed.]

I agree that "gah" is very weak.

JaxInL.A. 2:11 AM  

@afroqwn, thanks for a very thoughtful post. It is astonishing how brutal we humans can be to each other.

I have enjoyed the discussion (dispute?) about whoseC got the biggest telescope. Thanks, @martin, @r_c, and misc. anonymii.

@quilter1, I look forward to seeing a picture when you finish the new quilt. Congratulations.

Anonymous 4:38 AM  

@mmespeer 5:10, Lily Tomlin telephone operator, "k as in knule post..."

barcelona guy

burtonkd 5:43 PM  

We used to enjoy making them up. My favorite: m as in mnemonic.

Anonymous 5:49 AM  

Can someone please explain what DROPPINGTROU means?!

paulsfo 5:59 AM  

"dropping trou" means dropping your trousers down around your ankles, eg, if you were about to moon someone. I think it's a college term, though I wouldn't swear to that.

Spacecraft 11:57 AM  

If you follow the funnies at all, you'll have seen GAH! several times in the Garfield strip. It's about half of Jon's vocabulary.

I too bristled at the clue for 55d: when is a Mercedes not a Mercedes?

Curiously, BLEACHERS fits into 81d quite well, but the gimme CRIP forefended that. In that corner, I had a great aha! moment pondering the Ball partner/Marx Brother clues. What a clever clue for 100a!

Yes, there was a lot of short fill, and therefore some of it yucky, but there were goodies too. HOTNESS crossing DROPPINGTROU(BLE): priceless! Plus: for me, any grid containing EAGLES--no matter how clued--is gonna be thumbs-up!

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Thanks Paul. I'm a long way out of college (and out of the US), so needed this help!

Anonymous 4:05 PM  

I really need to start using the word NABOB more often, to get it on my crossword radar. Instead I considered MR. BIG (the clue rules that out even if NATO weren't there), NO BUM (not likely to be crossed with the theme word BUMBLE) and NIBBS, which is what I ended up entering, knowing there were too many B's.


"Hey, check out that NABOB driving the E CLASS!"

OK, I'm ready for the next one.

Anonymous 4:15 PM  

Good to see HOI POLLOI clued the other way around for a change.

rain forest 6:28 PM  

I really liked this puzzle, and thought the theme answers were clever and amusing. Every Sunday has iffy fill, but here it didn't stand out as much as in others I've done. It's only when you deliberately look for it that it may seem significant. Same for counting "cheater" squares, and totting up the word count, etc, et alia.

@Anonymous 5:09 Must be a big quilt in order to spell "ANONYMOUS" on it.

@Numbers guy, and others. I can't believe any of you were serious in talking about S class vs. E class Benzes, not to mention various other cars in which you love to 4-wheel drift and brag about. Incredibly booooringgg. Aye, there's the rubble.

Solving in Seattle 7:57 PM  

There seem to be a number of Mercedes snobs residing in real time Rexville.

I couldn't let go of BUbBLERAP for quite awhile, then broke the theme code and was AMUSEd. I had fun solving this puzzle, so thank you Kyle.

BleachErs before UPPERDECK.

Anybody notice that QUEENMUN ends at BRA? (Sorry @Rain Forrest.) And that EROS ADORES?

I visited Ypres on a biz trip to Belgium. GAH! Also visited Bruges - super place to spend a couple of days.

Capcha: termysse. The mess that termites leave.

Jake the Snake 9:48 PM  

This may be the weakest sunday puzzle since before margaret farrar.

The resultant playable answers were neither punny or clever.

come on guys, don't be afraid to call a spade a %$&#@ shovel

Dirigonzo 11:05 PM  

I can't add to the Mercedes discussion because I don't know my ECL ASS from my aCL ASS, but we thought the puzzle was fun. Dear friend and I worked on it on and off throughout the day and finally finished in the NW where the TAMIL/BELOT cross caused some heartburn.

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

In reference to the puzzle for Sunday, June 17, please tell me what makes ABES the answer to the clue FIVES.

Thank you,


Dirigonzo 1:52 PM  

@Anony 1;36 pm - ABE Lincoln is the portrait on the U.S. $5 bill; so "can you lend me a five" and "can you lend me an Abe" are interchangeable. That's what I think, anyway.

Jennifer in CA 1:54 PM  

When I was a kid visiting my (very prim) Aunt Martha on Canada, she would often recite this little ditty: "Drink NABOB coffee and when you're done, use the wrapper to wipe your bum."

@anonymous 1:36, ABE Lincoln is on the FIVE dollar bill.

Solving in Seattle 2:02 PM  

@Diri, wow, all this time I thought it stood for the Adelaide Blue Eagles, the Aussie football club that plays with 5 per side.

Capcha: comereff. What's shouted to the sidelines in an Aussie 5-man football game.

Anonymous 10:14 PM  

Syndication here. Looks like no one else was annoyed by the cluing for 45A "Regis". The clue is "...popularly". The guy's name is Regis. That's what he's called, popularly or not. The more popularly name would be "Reege", wouldn't it? A nickname, vs a given name? Sigh.

live sports 5:10 AM  

nice post

sharon AK 2:31 AM  

Was I the only one who gort a smile out of LONDON across (the)POND?

Dirigonzo 6:03 PM  

@sharon AK - One of the things I love about reading the comments here is seeing the different details that people see in the grid. I don't betieve anyone else mentioned the LONDON/POND connection.

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how-to-write-a-proposal 5:18 AM  

nice post

Anonymous 7:19 PM  

Wow Rex, you must be extremely flattered by the spate of thoroughly sincere praise heaped upon you by those last nine commenters.

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