Siberian native / THU 6-14-12 / Co-star of Showtime's Homeland / Cravat alternative / Bergman's 1956 Oscar-winning role / When repeated 1968 name in news / Corrida chant

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Constructor: Tracy Gray

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: RIGHT ON RED (41D: Legal maneuver ... with a hint to answering seven clues in this puzzle) — seven Down answers turn right (i.e. become across answers) at the letter string "RED" (affected Acrosses are simply clued with a "-")

Word of the Day: MOCHA (64A: Yemeni port) —
Mocha or Mokha (Arabic: المخا [al-Mukhā]) is a port city on the Red Sea coast of Yemen. Until it was eclipsed in the 19th century by Aden and Hodeida, Mocha was the principal port for Yemen's capital Sana'a. // Mocha is famous for being the major marketplace for coffee from the 15th century until the 17th century. Even after other sources of coffee were found, Mocha beans (also called Sananior Mocha Sanani beans, meaning from Sana'a) continued to be prized for their distinctive flavor—and remain so even today. (wikipedia)
• • •

A very interesting puzzle. I enjoyed it. Slow to get started, then grasped the theme and raced through it, only to be badly (and, it turns out, totally unnecessarily) stymied at the end. I finished up in the SW, where I got stuck. Now, if I'd just Thought For One Second, I would've reflected on the theme revealer RIGHT ON RED (which I had already written in), and I would've been able to hand myself three free squares. But I didn't not do that, and as a result had just the "E" instead of the "RED" string, and ... well between that and not knowing MOCHA and not knowing ILLOGIC (54A: Incorrect reasoning) (well, not really ... as a noun ... I guess I know it, but don't use it or hear it used much), and not knowing FOSTER wrote "Camptown Races" (48A: "Camptown Races" composer) and having TUTTI (come on!) for TUTTO (34D: All, in music) ... yeah, I just idled a bit, with HAI, CLEAN, and OLE OLE (49D: Corrida chant) being my only solids down there. Once I let myself imagine an '-ED' ending for 50D: Sectioned (SLICED), all of a sudden I saw FILM CREDIT, and then I was done fast. Lesson to me: sometimes, don't get bogged down and frustrated. Stop. Reflect. Think. Puzzle wasn't really that hard, especially once you figure out the trick.

Theme answers:
  • 1D: Percussion in a marching band (SNARE DRUM)
  • 8D: Co-star of Showtime's "Homeland" (CLAIRE DANES)
  • 28D: Gung-ho (FIRED UP)
  • 31D: Tattered (IN SHREDS)
  • 48D: Actor's screen recognition (FILM CREDIT)
  • 55D: Rooted for (CHEERED ON)
Despite *knowing* NOE, I just couldn't bring myself to put it in—that's how deeply I don't believe in its reality (let alone its fitness for crosswordification). I also don't believe in I AIM to please. We certainly aim, but I don't think I do. Does. I may not believe in MIRY, but I sure 'nough nailed it today. Don't believe in GAD as clued (53A: "Yikes!"). Is that some horrible regional pronunciation of GOD? I thought 5D: Aid for clarity was theme, so there were some odd moments there trying to make that answer turn the corner (".... EXAM PLAN BEADS?"). All this stuff was relatively easy to sort through and deal with.

  • 17A: Bergman's 1956 Oscar-winning role (ANASTASIA) — helped me turn NURSE / RIP (4A: "M*A*S*H" extra + 6D: Slam) into MEDIC / DIS
  • 40A: Calligraphy detail (SERIF) — also a font detail. Sometimes.
  • 58A: Ring of plumerias (LEI) — most embarrassing delay occurred here. Thought maybe "plumerias" was anatomical.

  • 3D: Nonessentials (DEAD WOOD) — love it. Favorite answer of the day by far.
  • 11D: 89 or 91, maybe (OCTANE) — me: "OCTAVE? How are those OCTAVEs?! ... Oh."
  • 22D: Former sitcom featuring a #1 singer (REBA) — #1 *country* singer. This seems an important distinction. Still, this was a gimme.
  • 52D: When repeated, 1968 name in the news (SIRHAN) — Has MANSON been in the puzzle before? According to, just once in the NYT, and only as [Rocker Marilyn]. With the Marilyn option, I'd think that answer would have occurred more often. HANSON has been in the NYT several times, after all.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Stay tuned ... just confirmed what I'd thought was true last night: that I know someone who co-constructed a puzzle with a theme very similar to this one—a puzzle that was rejected by Shortz on the grounds that "he feels this is sort of an old trick now." One constructor has offered to let me show the puzzle here. Awaiting go-ahead from the other constructor. I just finished solving it. It's ... hard. And much more complicated. Also, it has *not* had the benefit of professional editing the way today's NYT has. So I'll be offering it simply in the spirit of "check this out!" — not "this is much better / worse." OK? OK. As I say, stay tuned.

Here we go—raw, unedited Caleb Madison/Milo Beckman (MadBeck) puzzle, coming at you. You can get either a .pdf or a .puz version of the puzzle here, at "The Island of Lost Puzzles" forum (hosted by My take on this MadBeck production—the revealer sort of makes it D.O.A., but in terms of level of challenge, loftiness of concept, and fill quality, I'm pretty impressed.


Fact Guy 12:12 AM  

MANSON has been in the NYT twice.

jae 12:16 AM  

Easy-medium, but clearly a Thurs.  Clever theme plus smooth grid equals I liked it too. No erasures for me and no obvious tough crosses. Although, like Rex I got a little bogged down in the SW.   And, not much zip unless SIRHAN seems daring.   Still, a fine Thurs.!

Are TUTTO and TUTTI the same thing?  My first thought was TUTTI but I already had LOGIC.

Anonymous 12:36 AM  

I think NOE was in the puzzle a couple of weeks ago. I remembered that there was this dumb-assed valley in CA that I didn't know. I remembered it was three letters, and you had a sign for it. Now I know I don't know NOE.

I'm astonished I had REDRUM, REDANES and REDUP before I finally got the conceipt at RIGHTONRED.

Wasn't TUTTO a character in that sitcom with Charlotte REA about 100 years ago?

Greg Charles 12:49 AM  

The hardest section for me was northeast, where I couldn't think of TATAR, OCTANE didn't pop for me, and BOATED was just too tricksy! Finally fell into place about the 100th time I read the clues.

syndy 12:59 AM  

Totally ditzed the theme revealer.I was thinking lawyerly and could not parse RIGHTONRED I finished the puzzle but still didn't get it-I was hoping RP would make all clear but I needed to suck it up and clear up my own ILLOGIC! oh right a "legal" "maneuver"huh!gee that was much simpler than I thought=and not as exciting.still a fun solve even if my aha! was an ahwhat?

r.alphbunker 1:45 AM  

Seeing red is normally a bad thing but in this puzzle it was a delightful moment that occurred when I wrote in the revealer as the last answer. Wow! The revealer had to wait until last because I was firmly convinced that it was a legal term used by lawyers.

The MOCHA/HAI crossing gave me pause. This was definitely a potential Natick that could have been avoided if MOCHA had been clued differently. An alphabet run convinced me that H was the letter that worked the best but my feeling was that if Mocha was the name of a Yemeni port I would have heard of it before. Post-googling revealed that this port gave us the word Mocha so I learned something!

Anoa Bob 1:50 AM  

Hmmm. Let's see. I'm going down from square 1 and I get to square 20. To continue on to complete the entry SNARE DRUM, it looks to me like I have to make a left turn.

It would be a right turn if I were going up from square 20 and had to make a turn at square 1 to complete the entry.

I think that's technically correct but no matter. It's still a wonderful puzzle that I'm sure many solvers will enjoy and remember. My favorite entry is 9D KATYDIDS.

chefwen 3:33 AM  

Took me a while to catch on but this is a perfect example of "why I love Thursday puzzles". Not too tough, not too easy, just the right amount of crunch to be satisfying.

Last fill was the O in NOE and A ONE, the A ONE produced a verbal DOH moment.

Loved it Tracy Gray, thank you.

I skip M-W 4:06 AM  

Lived in Noe Valley in the late 80's, early 90's. Noe St. crosses the valley, descending steeply into it from the north, and the main streets are 24th, Church and Castro. HIlls rise around it, especially Twin Peaks to the west.Now it's very pricey, a sort of village within San Francisco for yuppies, or upscale yuppies raising families, but not without a few older artistic or just grizzled characters. Btw, it's pronounced NO-E (accent on the first syllable). If you're foolish enough to drive there, you can turn right on red, but it's often better to take the side streets and deal with the four-way stops.

I skip M-W 4:11 AM  

I've been meaning to ask, what's happened to Andrea? She seems to have disappeared while I wasn't paying attention. Is she ok?

chefwen 4:53 AM  

@I skip M-W - Andrea and Evil Doug got in to a little dust up and I believe they are taking a wee bit of a break from the blog. We are hopeful that all will blow over eventually.

Gareth Bain 5:23 AM  

I seem to be quoting the Bible a lot lately... I mostly know MIRY from Psalm 40: "He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay; And he set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." 40:2 ASV.

Jeremy Mercer 5:33 AM  

Am I the only one who got temporarily derailed by trying to rebus this puzzle?

'Gungho' could have been FIRED with a RED rebus, 'Rooted for' could have been CHEERED with a RED rebus, while 'Actor's screen recognition' could have been FILMCRED (as in 'street cred') with a RED rebus ... Eventually got it straightened out, but the eraser had a good workout this morning ...

@Anoa Bob - I also briefly quibbled with the left/right question, actually turning the puzzle upside down to be sure I wasn't imagining the left turn ... Like you, I let it go because it was such a fun puzzle.

@ r.alphbunker - I thought it was a law term too, especially with the Supreme Court in the puzzle, and was using the hypothesis that 'RED' might be legal lingo for REDRESS

Anonymous 6:21 AM  

One of the few NY Times puzzles for which being a New Yorker doesn' t help. I am reminded of Woody Allen's right turn comment from Annie Hall. I was unaware that turning right on a red light was illegal in the City when I moved here, but noticed after a while that nobody was doing it I finally decided if the cabs wouldn't do it, it HAD to be verboten.

Rex Parker 7:24 AM  


You almost had a fact:

MANSON has been in the NYT puzzle, you're right; but just once. (Second Sunday puzzles don't count, and if you really look, that second answer is a modified MANSION anyway)

Really weird that NYT puzzle isn't included in cruciverb's database, considering how old it is (2001). At any rate, no Charlie MANSON still.

Andrew 7:54 AM  

The Squirrel Nut Zippers would be glad to help you remember Stephen Foster as the author of Camptown Races:

Rob C 7:54 AM  

While doing the puzzle I wasn't enjoying it, grumbling to myself about so many non-existent clues. Until I caught on to the theme. In the end I have to say I really liked it.

One gripe: 89 or 91 is not OCTANE, it's an octane rating.

@Z - We got sire in today's puzzle. After I got that I was looking and hoping for dam to make an appearance. Not to be.

Geometricus 8:15 AM  

Had RIGHTON- and ED in the SE fairly quickly but it still took me a while to see the reveal. Flirted with a RED rebus like @Jeremy Mercer but could not parse REDED. Ended up liking the puzzle, but I think I remember a Sunday with answers that turned right. Was it a Liz Gorski puzzle? I seem to remember something about right angles being the reveal. It was summer because I remember doing the puzz while my boys played on the ropes at French park.

From out here in flyover land, I did not know right on red was illegal in NYC! @j @6:21, another reason not to try to bring a car into that jungle.

Sue McC 8:17 AM  

@Anoa Bob, you remind me of my hubby, for whom in front of him is always North, behind him is South, etc.

I really liked this one. Too many years in a marching band let me pop in SNAREDRUM easy-peasy, and I pretty much finished it top to bottom, bing bang boom. Same experience as r.alph with RIGHTONRED, looking for a legal term, and had to chuckle at the actual theme-revealing answer.

evil doug 8:28 AM  

If I said 'gad', I'd have to say 'zooks'. But I don't, so I won't.

syndy: "oh right a "legal" "maneuver"huh!gee that was much simpler than I thought=and not as exciting.still a fun solve even if my aha! was an ahwhat?"

70A "NCR" did important code-breaking work in WWII, so I'll send this to them to find out what the hell it means.

Speaking of which: The blank clue at 20A is 'murder' backwards, so I believe a mystery is afoot. Or perhaps Tracy is a Stephen King fan. "Heeeeeeere's Johnny!"

"knobs" is a fun word. And I may add "illogic" to my daily vocabulary.

Are kids in Siberia called Tatar tots?

Sorry: Only one 'ole' to a customer. I'll let the 'red' and 'reds' go, given the theme.

When I suffer "deadwood" my wife uses her vibgyor and sees every color of the rainbow.


quilter1 8:29 AM  

I tried the RED rebus first, but then got wise to the RIGHTTURNONRED trick and it all fell into place. So clever. I liked DEADWOOD, KATYDID and the clue for PREGNANT. Puzzles like this are why I do puzzles. On to BEQ.

The Bard 8:30 AM  

Titus Andronicus > Act III, scene I

TITUS ANDRONICUS: If they did kill thy husband, then be joyful
Because the law hath ta'en revenge on them.
No, no, they would not do so foul a deed;
Witness the sorrow that their sister makes.
Gentle Lavinia, let me kiss thy lips.
Or make some sign how I may do thee ease:
Shall thy good uncle, and thy brother Lucius,
And thou, and I, sit round about some fountain,
Looking all downwards to behold our cheeks
How they are stain'd, as meadows, yet not dry,
With miry slime left on them by a flood?
And in the fountain shall we gaze so long
Till the fresh taste be taken from that clearness,
And made a brine-pit with our bitter tears?
Or shall we cut away our hands, like thine?
Or shall we bite our tongues, and in dumb shows
Pass the remainder of our hateful days?
What shall we do? let us, that have our tongues,
Plot some deuce of further misery,
To make us wonder'd at in time to come.

joho 8:39 AM  

@Jeremy Mercer, I actually crammed REDS into square 51 thinking I've discovered a rebus ... not!

It was so odd in the end that I had all the right-turning answers but couldn't figure out the reveal. I, like others, was racking my brain for a legal term. When I finally saw RIGHTONRED it was a real aha moment and made me admire this fantastic puzzle even more.

@Gareth Bain, thanks for the biblical example as I was sure MIRY wasn't a word. Now I see it as a nice counterpart to SAITH.

For a brief moment I asked myself, "Why is a famous singer constructing our puzzle today?" Oh, that's Macy Gray.

Tracy Gray, great job of creating such fun twists and turns ... loved it!

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

I found this puzzle easy to solve, so it's Thursday rating for me is very easy. It certainly would be a nice Wednesday or even Tuesday puzzles. There were so many gimmes in the puzzle, way more than usual for a Thrusday puzzle.

Like JM, thought at first it was a rebus, but since there were so many gimmes for me, I had the "ed"s four or five of the themed clues before I caught on. And since right on red was the very last answered I entered, I feel the theme is easily recognizable without the clue.

I am also a little annoyed at the clue for octane, and I have always seen tutti instead of tutto in musical scores.

From my driving experiences I infer that most people do not realize that when two one-way streets intersect, assuming the cross-street traffic direction is right to left, it is also legal to make a left turn on red unless a no turn on red sign is posted (which I have occasionally seen). Now that would be a more difficult theme, one more appropriate for a Thursday difficulty rating. Constructors take notice.

wordie 8:54 AM  

Tricksy! In the end, I loved it, but I had a furrowed brow for a long time.

@jeremy mercer: I, too, thought it was a rebus and clung to that for way too long. I'll add to your list SNARE as an RE rebus. I thought for a while that the rebuses in the N were RE, and in the S, RED. Also, being a lawyer, struggled forever with 41D, thinking right of way (!?!) and whatnot.

@ED: ha!

wordie 8:58 AM  

P.S. tutto is not used in music. It's tutti. Tutto is a word, but is incorrectly clued here.

John V 9:08 AM  

Loved this one. Took forever to pick up the theme, which I finally got in the NE. This played really challenging for me. EXACTLY the same problem with SW as @Rex. Not loving ENNEADS and MIRY this morning.

Please accept my invitation to visit lower Fairfield county where there is ground swell of interest in left on red. You have been warned

jberg 9:13 AM  

@Anoa Bob - it's all a matter of whom you identify with. If you think of yourself as a theme answer, crawling down the grid, then it is indeed a left turn. But if you are a solver, looking at the puzzle, the answer turns to your right.

I didn't get the them until the revealer, and even then, like many, thought it was a RED rebus at first - but a little thought about RIGHT ON RED made me see the light, as it were.

I'm going to San Francisco tomorrow, which helped with NOE Valley, somehow. I guess it's the Times's attempt to show it's a national paper, so SF neighborhoods are just as legitimate as, say, SoHo or Tribeca.

I, too, was stumped by MOCHA for a while, but since Aden wouldn't fit I remembered the coffee, which I knew came from somewhere around there (actually, I'd thought it was Ethiopia, across the Red Sea), and went with it.

I guess it was obvious, but I did like TRACHEA. Until I got that and FOSTER, I was stuck with only 3-letter answers for too long.

Tough but fun.

jackj 9:17 AM  

“I mean, who would want to live in a place where the only cultural advantage is that you can turn right on a red light?” ***

So SAITH Woody Allen.

Tracy Gray’s puzzle features a gimmick seen before but significantly upgraded by placing RED at each turning, seven times, if you will.

The theme was rather easy once it was flushed out, (clicked for me with CLAIREDANES), but, thankfully, Tracy put as much effort into the fill as she did with the theme.

First up was BOATED which is either cute and clever or cute and dumb, (solver’s choice) and MIRY was an answer that was easy to fill in but sure seems like it’s missing something in the spelling.

KATYDIDS certainly chirped for me and DEADWOOD may describe “Nonessentials” but it’s like virtual frozen yogurt that helps to upgrade this puzzle to ala mode status.

Then there is the battle of the archaics, where we are left to wonder if SAITH should be clued as a “Var.” of SAYETH or even SAYEST or is the question just ILLOGIC run rampant?

But, the finest EXAMPLE of Tracy’s brilliance comes from the clue, “Full of life?” which oh so cleverly gives us PREGNANT. Hall of Famer!

We sure got our money’s worth with this beauty of a puzzle!

Wonderful, Tracy, thank you.

***(The place being Los Angeles)

JaxInL.A. 9:21 AM  

Re: TUTTO vs. tutti.

If I remember my year of college Italian, you use tutti to agree with a plural noun. E.g., all of the fruits = tutti frutti. You use TUTTO alone.

Our many polymaths will correct me if I'm wrong.

I considered and discarded a legal term for the theme revealer because I had enough of the downs for theme answers to show the way.

This is the constructor's 4th NYT puzzle since 2010, including a Sunday. Very clever, Tracy Gray. Thanks!

KRMunson 9:25 AM  

Love your comments about "deadwood", your wife and her vybgyor, @Evil Doug. You can add colors of the rainbow to my world anytime!

Pete 9:29 AM  

I'm kind of surprised that MANSON is such a taboo, but then maybe not.

Years ago we went to adopt a dog from the local shelter, where they had siblings they had named Helter & Skelter. I thought that was highly inappropriate, but given the obvious IQ and cultural awareness of the people in charge I figured it was an unfortunate coincidence. We took Skelter and promptly renamed her. She was a total psycho, and whenever our other dog even came into the room with her, she cowered and crawled on her belly all across the room.

We took Skelter back, and I gave up on any notion that I was a judge of other's IQ or cultural awareness.

chefbea 9:36 AM  

Haven't finished the puzzle yet or red the comments. Going to Myrtle Beach (@mac). Will finish when I return.

retired_chemist 9:40 AM  

Hand up for insisting that the revealer 41D has something to do with the legal profession, and for the RED rebus that so many others tried. Finally figured it out when all of my RED rebus squares were at the ends of down words and had ED to their right.

Should have known MOCHA - didn't. Never heard of AXIAL skeleton - learned something by Googling it post-solve. Lived in the Bay Area but never heard of NOE Valley.

Solid fill and a nice Thursday concept. I liked this one very much. Thank you, Tracy.

Martin 10:02 AM  

Tutto arco ("use the entire bow") is a marking on string parts.

Cheerio 10:09 AM  

I loved this one! I also thought it was a rebus at first and was thrilled when I realized that the answers were turning corners, but I never noticed the reds and was sure that the legal maneuver would be a legalese term. I had to hit my head when I came here to see what the light. But in a good way.

wordie 10:23 AM  

@martin, that still doesn't work in my book, as it doesn't translate to "all bow."

Brian 10:26 AM  

I used to like puzzles with tricks, rebuses (rebi?), etc., and now find myself annoyed and just looking forward to Fri and Sat. I hate mucking about with unclued answers and answers that are the wrong size. But seems I'm in the minority here, so I'll deal and wait for tomorrow morning.

Started out using an RE rebus. Then got stuck on legal maneuver, going through all the law lingo I know. I think that should be qualified somehow, since it is not always legal, which makes the clue wrong at times.

It many places, a left on red is allowed if the two roads intersecting are both one way (and, of course, as long as said left turn does not take one into oncoming traffic).

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

Why don't second Sunday puzzles count? I love the second Sundays!

Two Ponies 10:41 AM  

Took me ForEver to catch on since I tried the rebus approach as well. Once I finally got the trick it went from impossible to easy.
Some great clues today like the ones for boated and pregnant.
@ ED, tatar tots! Deadwood, Ha!

I think the captcha thing has become more forgiving lately or I'm guessing with a lot of luck.

Martin 10:49 AM  


"Use all of the bow" is just as good a translation, just as "tutti" can be "everyone" or "all players." "Tutto" is literally "all" in Italian.

"Tutto d'un tratto" (all of a sudden) and "tutto insieme" (all at once) work too.

Gill I. P. 10:52 AM  

@Anoa Bob took the wheel right out of my driveway. After I finished, I did a little tour and sure enough, I'm turning left.
I'm sure not a "polymath" but I know a tad about music and I agree with @wordie. TUTTO means plain ole "all" in Italian but Tutti is the musical term. @martin - I thought tuto arco meant to build up? Cosi Fan Tutti perhaps?
But, I really enjoyed this puzzle and found it crunchy ala@chefwen.

Gill I. P. 11:06 AM  

@Martin. I see we posted at the same time. Still TUTTO is rarely seen in any musical term to simply mean "all." Why not clue it as "something Mario Monti might say when he wants everyone to come to the table?" {sigh...}

Martin 11:10 AM  

I don't know the build up reference, but "tutto arco" is a musical notation. A Tutto Arco is also the name of the very prestigious journal of the European String Teachers Association.

It's a good Thursday clue because, while correct, it tricks you into entering TUTTI.

Gill I. P. 11:24 AM  

"mescolate il TUTTO fino al ottenere una crema densa."

John V 11:24 AM  

Re: TUTTO, I agree that it is a good trick clue/answer, but it is not in the mainstream music language, at least in my experience. I have studied many piano vocal scores, particularly opera, and not encountered TUTTO, only TUTTI. From what I gather here, TOTTO may occur in full orchestra scores. On balance, I'm thumbs down on TUTTO as used today.

Merle 11:32 AM  

Gad is not a mispronunciation of God, nor a regionalism. It is archaic, as in gadzooks, meaning God's hooks, the nails that nailed Jesus to the cross.

Unlike Rex, I didn't enjoy the puzzle or the theme. Ah well. Tomorrow is another puzzle....

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

@Merle - GAD is a deliberate mispronounciation of God, otherwise those who said gadzooks would be taking the Lord's name in vain. Why people would be worshiping a god who is so easily fooled is another question.

efrex 12:23 PM  

A gimmick that I enjoyed greatly (I loved a similar puzzle from almost a year ago, also with an outdated ISP clue, but what can ya do?). Like @GregCharles, had to sweat out the NE and BOATED, but everything else came in pretty quick. Had to guess the KATYDIDS/ENNEADS cross, but otherwise, smooth sailing. Brava, Ms. Gray!

hazel 12:24 PM  

@gadsters - my mom is from Richmond and used to say GAD - sometimes GADS - alot. I don't think she made that up herself. i used to believe (when i was a teen) that she was archaic, but i no longer think so.

I loved this puckish puzzle. A real trickster.

DEADWOOD <=> ED => :-( Captain Evil, vzyrnator or no.

loren muse smith 12:47 PM  

What a great idea for a theme! I’ll look forward to the puzzle Rex posts with a similar one.

So is the definition of a “rebus” is a puzzle with more than one letter in a square? I thought a rebus was a puzzle with any kind of non-standard funny business: answers turning corners, letters outside the grid, answers skipping over a black square and then continuing. . . Those aren’t rebuses?

Like so many others, I sensed something off, wanting SNARE at 1d but it took me forever to see the trick.

I really liked the cluing for KNOBS, and the clue for BOATING was great! Like @jberg - TRACHEA pleased me.

When I was living in Atlanta, some radio talk show did a joke call-in show about the challenges and difficulties of living with a BIPED. I was in middle school at the time and can’t remember the details, but people actually called in, making stuff up about how hard it was.

Crosscan 12:55 PM  

As someone noted to me, perhaps it was "an old trick" to Will because this one was already in the queue (and maybe others as well).

Loved this puzzle.

Evan 1:10 PM  

I was surprised that I caught onto the theme almost right away when I had S-A-E-RUM for the first turn at 1-Down/30-Across. I figured that SNAR wasn't an acceptable abbreviation for marching band instrument (plus there was nothing indicating an abbrev. in the clue), but I saw that there was a short answer with no clue attached to it, so I just kept going. Surely enough, SNARE DRUM fit.

I didn't understand that RIGHT ON RED was the theme revealer till I got to that corner of the grid, though, so I went looking for other turns elsewhere. My first guess was at 3-Down/half of 37-Across: DEADWeight -- one of those answers that seems oh-so-right but is wrong. Fortunately I disabused myself of that guess immediately with FAO Schwarz. Anyway, it was a fun solve that I was glad didn't cause me much more trouble than it might have were this two or three years ago.

However, for the second day in a row, I was doomed by a tough crossing: SAITH/SIRHAN. 52-Down was no help to me -- until just now, I had never heard the name of the convicted killer of Robert F. Kennedy, and even if I had, I'm not sure I wouldn't have gotten the spelling wrong anyway. And looking at 56-Across, that letter was either going to be an E, an I, or a Y. E didn't seem right because even though -eth is a common Biblical suffix, I didn't like the look of it given the spelling of the word SAY and the pronunciation. But it was for that same reason that I rejected I. So Y it was -- and alas, Y it wasn't. Pity.

Noam D. Elkies 1:11 PM  

14A:"NOE" = features of Perec's "La Disparition" and Patrick Berry's May 19 puzzle.

I too was wondering about the right/left issue... and fell for "tutti", though I was able to infer 34D:TUTTO from that. As fans of Mozart 45D:ARIAs know, there's also "tutte", which is the feminine plural.

Why didn't I ever notice 20A:RED_RUM in "snare drum"?


Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Noe is the Soho of SF - used to be interesting and quirky, now yuppie.

My illogic: When snare wouldn't fit at 1D, I assumed snar was another form! When I got "redrum" at 20A, being a fan of The Shining, I was sucked into backwards or turned about words, then seeking a legal manueuver (i.e. lawyerly) that meant a turn around...

Egads. (I only have heard the singular with gad about).

Loved the series Deadwood on HBO. Brilliant.

Lewis 2:18 PM  

I loved this puzzle and hesitated to read Rex on the (good) chance that he wouldn't, and I didn't want him to spoil my joy! As it turns out, he underscored it! I loved the misdirect "legal maneuver". Bravo, Tracy!

Evil - laughed out loud at the TATAR and VIBGYOR comments.

Learned TUTTO which Martin has convinced me is legit. Through my many decades of playing music, I've only seen TUTTI.

mac 2:45 PM  

I loved this puzzle. Hopped around a lot at first, then in shreds, followed by the revealer suddenly made it much easier. The N and B in knobs were the last to fall, and here I live on the Sound... Not sure if I ever saw it without a capital.

Saith had to be it, but the spelling is also new to me, sayeth is more familiar.

The clue at 17A uses a last name; doesn't that call for a last name in the answer as well?

Anonymous 3:22 PM  

Handel: Messiah - Thus saith the Lord ...

syndy 3:46 PM  

@Loren Muse Smith; a rebus really is when you use symbols for words or partials.think that old game show "Concentration" or I (heart)New York! my first NYT rebus featured little drawings of fish!I think we have accepted anything in a square except one letter as a rebus.

Texas Momma 4:03 PM  

@ Evil Doug - Tatar tots cracked me up!

@ Brian - you may be the minority but you are not alone - I hate rebus and other gimmick puzzles, too,

sanfranman59 4:16 PM  

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

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

Thu 16:25, 18:56, 0.87, 23%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:03, 9:21, 0.97, 52%, Medium

lawprof 4:17 PM  

As a retired violinist (I quit when I was about 12) I am familiar with the musical direction, "Tutti," meaning "all" or "all together." But TUTTO? In a musical score? I don't think so.

Several commentators have referred to tutti/tutto/tutte (the latter from Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutti"), but, at least so far, no "tutta." How 'bout this: "E avanti a lui tremava tutta Roma"? After stabbing the tyrant Scarpia, Tosca gazes down at his corpse and growls, "Before you all Rome trembled."

So...we've covered all the vowel endings for "tutt__" except "u." Anyone for "tuttu"?

Stevlb1 4:19 PM  

"KNOBS" ruined me!

lawprof 4:21 PM  

Sorry, that's "Cosi Fan Tutte."

Stevlb1 4:25 PM  

Among this group, who received the most "wedgies", during High School?

loren muse smith 4:39 PM  

@Syndy - thanks for the rebus explanation.

@Texas Momma and @Brian - I LOVE puzzles like this, and when I show one like this with a trick to my no-way-in-heck-I'll-ever-do-a-puzzle husband, he gets furious and says it's ridiculous.

@Pete -"she cowered and crawled on her belly all across the room." With REDRUM and Jack Nicholson, I was almost there.

Anonymous 5:26 PM  

Are you going to publish the answers to the MadBeck puzzle here? I found it MUCH more difficult than the one in today's NYT. (Some of the clues didn't seem to be quite right -- is that what you meant by "unedited"?

ANON B 6:00 PM  

Can someone please explain the reference to MANSON under the
Bullet for SIRHAN?

Anonymous 6:56 PM  

@anon 6:00: Equating a serial killer with an assassin. Either way, not a great person to put in a fun diversion, supposedly. Although a serial killer theme is just dying to be made.

Tita 7:17 PM  

I try to avoid revealers until after I have sussed the theme, so I averted my eyes when I hit 41D. I had RIG_TON_, so smugly entered RIGaTONi, and figured the theme was pastas!!

Needless to say, I had to go back and read the revealer before I could figure out the theme.

I liked KNOBS for Controls...I bemoan the age of no-KNOBS...they are far superior to touchpad controls.

Nice job, Tracy Gray - this was a fun one.

@r.alph - I recently watched Kill Bill, where O-REN often says HAI, so that was a gimme. My near natick was CLAIREDA_ES/OCTA_E, till alpharun showed me OCTA[N]E!

@Gill - yum! What's for dessert?

@Loren...(Alas, I really thought I'd manage a concise post today...)
Your funny Biped story reminds me of a show I saw in the UK called "Yankee Panky". It's premise was to make fun of Americans.
They set up a stand on campus of a college in Oregon with a huge banner saying "End Womens' Suffrage!" Sadly, they got dozens of college women to sign the petition!

retired_chemist 8:02 PM  

@ Tita re women's suffrage - there is a story about P. T Barnum putting a sign on a circus walkway, "this way to egress," and many attendees went that way, finding out what egress really meant. They had to pay to get back in.

Anonymous 8:31 PM  

"Oh, Senator, I thought your speech was absolutely superfluous!"

(I'm not really Anonymous, but I've already posted today -- using my regular handle -- and don't want to come off as some kind of groupie)

Z 9:17 PM  

@ Rob C - Well, the clue was 'Dam's companion," so SIRE was a gimme. Actually including DAM as an answer would not have been kosher.

Hand up for wanting a red rebus, or maybe a color rebus. Hand up for thinking court room maneuver at 41D. Finally groked the theme right as it was time for to go to work, so I had to finish up this evening.

Knowing the theme ( and having everything south of TRACHEA and SIRE pretty much done) meant quick work finishing.

I think this is an excellent puzzle. The theme is fun with enough misdirection to fool some pretty experienced solvers. The theme answers are fun, and the fill is strong. Look at the three letter fill - SAD, NOE, FAO, LEI, ATE, GAD, NCR, HAI, TOT, AGE, RID, IRA, FED, SRA, and DIS. No Crossbirds. No RRNs or RCDs. No lame prefixes or suffixes. No key of some obscure etude. S/he did a great job constructing this puzzle.

michael 9:35 PM  

Really liked this one. I briefly fell for the rebus trap.

sanfranman59 10:11 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:13, 6:49, 0.91, 15%, Easy
Tue 12:03, 8:55, 1.35, 100%, Challenging (highest median solve time of 156 Tuesdays)
Wed 9:58, 11:47, 0.85, 18%, Easy
Thu 16:25, 18:56, 0.87, 23%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:38, 3:40, 0.99, 46%, Medium
Tue 6:25, 4:37, 1.39, 100%, Challenging (highest median solve time of 156 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:37, 5:53, 0.96, 41%, Medium
Thu 8:33, 9:21, 0.97, 40%, Medium

Pete 11:42 PM  

@Loren - I forgot to mention that my wife called her (Skelter's) crawling the "creepy crawley". Kind of a major omission to the story.

ZenMonkey 4:00 AM  

Like Rex, I've been getting fed up with all this tricksiness on non-Thursdays, most of which results in forced and uninspired fill.

This may be an "old trick," but it was executed smoothly, and with an additional flourish that all the crosses were at REDs. (I especially enjoyed seeing REDRUM.) The fill was a little iffy here and there (MIRY?) but much better than recent trick puzzles.

All in all it felt like a very classic Thursday puzzle. My favorite weekday puzzle in some time.

connie in seattle 12:54 PM  

I just finished the Wayne Robert Williams puzzle in the Seattle Times for 6/15 and a clue appeared that I had never heard of before/never seen in a puzz: "out-of-sight fences"; answer: ha-ha's.
Very cool clue/answer. Will store that one away. I wonder if it has ever been used before.

burtonkd 3:58 PM  

Professional musician 20 years. Tutto digging too deep, more of just a general Italian word. Illogic finally forced the "o".

nice to see references to tosca climax and the mozart opera.

was trying to put dam with sure.

time spent on rebus, and legal search

Stephen 6:59 PM  

Yes, I too was dam sure that DAM went with SURE. Damn, it didn't.
BOATED was the most surprising fun.

The absolute bestest thing about this puzzle was the theme, though. I'm sort of new to this game, and had never seen a maneuver like turning right. In spite of that, I was in for a huge pop. I was stuck looking at RIGHTON_ and was going through my legal language (deft deflection, that) and pulling up nothing. I also had CHEE_ (rooted for) and ___ON for a an unclued word. Anticipation built. Something was going to break through. AHA, yes! 72A fell, and 73A went with it, and in fact the 5 other unclued words all got RED in them... that was 21 letters from a single brightbulb. Whoohooey! I glowed for hours.

Marty 5:59 PM  

Could someone explain the answer ENNEADS? I looked it up on Google and it doesn't say anything about the Supremem Court.

Ron Diego 11:36 AM  

Just a brief thanks, Rex, for giving us the Caleb-Milo puzzle which I'm starting now.

Spacecraft 4:09 PM  

Wow, really, med-chall? I found it easy-medium. Had a bit of a delay realizing not only that the specialty clues turned right, but also that they did so specifically on the R of RED. Very clever! But at the same time it sped up the solve.

GAD, I had thought, is a short form of the more recognizable EGAD, though you are correct that it's an alteration of "God," in the same way as "Odds bodkins!" stands for "God's body!" EGAD probably evolved from "Ye gods!"

OLEOLE is unfortunate, but at least we didn't have to write a second SIRHAN. With others, I loved PREGNANT--and its "lively" clue. DEADWOOD and KATYDID aren't too shabby, either. Good job!

DMGrandma 5:20 PM  

Nearly gave up early on-annoyed by all those no-clue clues! But I got enough to finally suss out the gimmick. And then it was a snap to go back and fill the blanks. Ended up with an error in SAYETH and left it, even though I sensed SYRHAN was wrong. Guess its been too long since those headlines.
My slow downs were not knowing the musical term or the actress, but they solved themselves, as so often happens.

Solving in Seattle 6:34 PM  

@Marty, ENNEADS was originally a meeting of nine Greek gods. Now, I guess, it's a term used for the nine justices meeting.

To those who don't like "gimmick" puzzles, if you didn't like this one, you won't like any others. I sort of figure they're a fun IQ test.

When I saw the hyphens for clues I knew we were in for something interesting. I solved 1D/20A then worked my way down through the rest without realizing that RED was at every turn. I put on my lawyer hat at 41D and was perplexed. I couldn't think of a maneuver in English or Latin. So I wrote RIGHT ON _ED across the top of my newspaper and ran the alphabet. When I got to "R" the lightbulb went on. I then looked back at the other hyphens and saw RED at each one.

Tracy, this was one REDhot puzzle.

Got BOATED right off the clue because Puget Sound is not far. Locals call it "The Sound" or "Puget Sound," but never "The Puget Sound." Only news anchors from somewhere else SAITH that.

First KATYDIDS I've seen in a XW.

Too, too much discussion about TUTTO.

eastsacgirl 8:21 PM  

Fun puzzle. Got theme pretty quick without get the "legal maneuver" answer right away. Hand up for trying to think of something to do with the court.

Anyway, breezed through all but the SE corner till my brain put 2 and 2 together. Did not like GAD or MIRY. Never seen before. Only letter missed was a Y for the I in SAITH even though SYRHAN didn't look right.

Live close to the Bay Area so NOE was a slam dunk. Love it when they throw the California clues in.

Was suprised to see Med-Chall though.

Spacecraft 10:04 PM  

@Marty: ENNEAD:group of nine :: OCTAD:group of eight, etc. It's nine of anything. A baseball team is an ENNEAD.

One gripe I didn't mention earlier is that RIGHTONREDS are not always legal, so the clue should read "Sometime legal maneuver."

Anonymous 5:11 AM  

Saw 20 accross after finishing as "redrum" as in the creepy kid comment in "The Shinning".

DMGrandma 3:23 PM  

I had the same problem as @Two Ponies, too many proper names left me with too many blanks in the NE. Really wanted Corningware to come from northern New York (Oneida?) At any rate that and HappyMEALS doomed the NW. at least I got the south, tho TACOPIE and CHILLAXING I just had to take on faith. Every time I think I'm gaining on this solving thing, one of these comes along and say I still have a long way to go.

Anonymous 7:55 PM  

This was fun, though it took a while to see the theme. Did not help that REDRUM means "The Shining" to me and, like others, I wanted something from the courtroom for "Legal maneuver."

Anonymous 9:32 PM  

He-e-e-e-ere's Johnny!

I picked up on the gimmick surprisingly early, after deciding that some sort of "DOUBLE (Jeopardy?)" rebus wasn't going to work for the legal manuever. So with maybe a handful of letters in the grid and wanting SNARE at 1d, I turned the corner and instantly plunked down the other REDs.

That allowed me to make a lot of headway early on. Had to rack my brain a good deal to finish, however, so in the end, despite the automatic RED answers (CLAIRE DANES was the only one that required all the crosses), I found this a rewarding solve.


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