Asian gold bar measure / SUN 10-14-12 / Old Brit coins / Our Town opera composer / Comic strip with Pig Rat / 2010 movie plot to steal moon / River through Orsk / African region including Khartoum Timbuktu / Hindu title of respect / Soap discontinued in 2011

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Constructor: Todd Gross

Relative difficulty: Medium



THEME: "Media Start-Ups" — Theme answers have same initials as TV stations

Word of the Day: TAEL (105D: Asian gold bar measure) —
n.
1. Any of various units of weight used in eastern Asia, roughly equivalent to 38 grams (1 1/3 ounces).
2. A monetary unit formerly used in China, equivalent in value to this weight of standard silver. (freedictionary.com)
• • •

I kind of like the revealer. I mean, that clue is an interesting, semi-subtle way to indicate what all the theme answers have in common. Beyond that, I did not like this much at all. The theme answers are just ... there. Not terribly interesting. Not clued cleverly. Just answers. They're fine. Not terrible. But they don't exactly cohere. The bigger problem (Yet Again) was fill. I can't decide whether SOVS (8D: Old Brit. coins), TAEL, or FRIT wins for most "Are you kidding!?" so let's call it a tie. Wait, it's a four-way tie if we throw in one-R LARY (13D: Three-time All-Star pitcher Frank). It's very hard to believe that any of those answers were necessary. It continues to be dismaying to see how little overall fill quality seems to matter in NYT puzzles any more. With only seven theme answers, the fill in this thing should be much, much better. As a better constructor than I said (just now, on Facebook): 
7 theme answers & 97 theme squares shouldn't strain the fill so much. For some reason, Todd G used a 132-word grid. Why? Max is 140 and he should have been a lot closer to it. No one notices the lowish word count. Everyone notices the horribly obscure entries.
The NW is a dreary, tired, foreign, partial mess. The middle has stuff your constructing software always suggests but *you* are supposed to reject, like OLEOLE (56A: Repeated phrase in "Hot Hot Hot") and "SO RARE" (61A: 1937 hit with the lyric "You're like the fragrance of blossoms fair"). God knows whose idea ROOFLET is, wow (47D: It might extend above a side door). A couple of the Downs are good, like "DESPICABLE ME" (60D: 2010 movie with a plot to steal the moon) and TAPE DECK and FALSE NAME and SHORT HAIR (I like dogs), but most of the fill is solidly in the tired-to-yeesh range. Non-scintillating themes always make weak fill stand out more. Themes that are just Pretty good need to have a lot of value added in the non-theme material. Also, I wouldn't cross WHIR and WHIR and I wouldn't have S├śREN and SORENSEN (82D: Ted who wrote "The Kennedy Legacy") in the same grid. Not in a million years.


Theme answers:
  • 23A: Special attention (TENDER LOVING CARE)
  • 28A: Against one's will (NOT BY CHOICE)
  • 44A: Soap discontinued in 2011 ("ALL MY CHILDREN)
  • 63A: Comic strip with the characters Rat and Pig ("PEARLS BEFORE SWINE")
  • 80A: M.R.I., maybe (TOTAL BODY SCAN) — "full-body scan," which is what I wanted, gets about 8x the google hits
  • 104A: What dead men are said to do (TELL NO TALES)
  • 108A: With "The," former sketch comedy program on CBS—fittingly enough ("CAROL BURNETT SHOW")
I love the direction the BATHTUB clue is going in, but I wish the word "gin" were somehow involved (50A: Speakeasy's distilling locale). Also, I thought people made the liquor in their bathtubs at home, and speakeasys just got it illegally from bootleggers, rumrunners, or other old-timey Prohibition-era slang names like that. I didn't know speakeasys had BATHTUBs. NED ROREM is crosswordese royalty (appearing fairly regularly as both a first and last name), which makes me not that thrilled to see him, even in a complete-name version (4D: "Our Town" opera composer). Surprisingly (given my love for "Rushmore"), I did not care for "The Royal Tenenbaums" At All, and so blocked out almost everything about the movie, including this ARI character. Thought the Alka-Seltzer character was SNEEZY at first (18D: Alka-Seltzer ad character = SPEEDY). Took longer than I should've to come up with a four-letter Swedish city (31D: Home of the oldest school in Sweden, founded in 1085 = LUND). I know a lot of "titles of respect" from doing crosswords, but I didn't know BABU fell under that category (38D: Hindu title of respect). Sounds like a snake in a Disney movie. BEA Benaderet is new to me. She played Jethro's mom, if that's at all meaningful to you. Or if it isn't. Today's URAL is a river (71D: River through Orsk) but however you slice it it's still URAL, as OREL is still OREL. ENNA's back, to no one's great pleasure (72D: Central Sicilian province). If I were going to give an award to the Most Maleskan Clue / Answer Pairing of the year, I think I'd have to pick 105D: Asian gold bar measure (TAEL). Pre-Shortzian grids were teeming with foreign weights, measures, and currencies.


Also, from now on, when I say/write "WTF?!" in relation to some obscure / insane / horrible word or phrase in the grid, please know that those letters now stand for "What the FRIT!?" (106D: Glassmaking material).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Happy birthday to my beloved Sandy.

75 comments:

Anonymous 12:17 AM  

You left out, by my count, 15 theme entries - all the words starting with E!.

jae 12:17 AM  


I usually jot down a comment and then modify it after Rex blogs.    I've decided to go with my original on this one otherwise I would have to erase it and put in "what Rex said".  As you can see we had similar impressions.

Medium-challenging or kinda tough for a Sun.  I liked the theme which I caught at 23a and which helped with the rest of the puzzle.  That said, there was way too much obscure stuff for a Sun.  starting off with the NEDROREM/ASANA cross and including SOVS, LARY,  the WAIN/LUND cross (Natick?), BABU, WALD, LEIBER, ENNA, TAEL, FRIT, SAHEL... Then there's WHIRL crossing WHIRL (did we decide this was OK?), RELOSE, HISSY without the fit, ROOFLET,...So, definitely not MEH but not a fun Sun. 

Random sorta puzzle related comment:  DESPICABLEME may be a kid oriented movie but it is both funny and charming.  Worth a Netflix look.

Susan McConnell 12:29 AM  

Ditto Rex's comments on WHiR, SOREN/SORENSON and URAL/OREL. I know FRIT since it is a common ingredient in pottery glazes.

Coincidentally, we were watching tv yesterday and an ad for the new Carol Burnett Show came on. Hubby said, "Hey, I never noticed it before but the Carol Burnett Show was on CBS...get it?". So imagine my surprise when that popped up in the puzzle today :-)

Milford 12:34 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Milford 12:47 AM  

Milford said...
Well, since I'm still up watching this dreadful Tigers game, I'll chime in early.

Pretty easy Sunday, especially considering I never got the theme/trickery while solving the entire puzzle. Pretty unusual for me - I usually get the Sunday theme by the third-filled mark.

Had TAiL instead of TALL for the men's suit clue at 11A, my only real mistake, I think. A lot of crazy, obscure words here, but I guess they were OK with the crosses.

Favorite entry was COLLIE. My husband grew up with smooth collies, which have SHORT HAIR. Second favorite entry was CAROL BURNETT SHOW. Absolutely adored that show. Still think of Eunice screaming "Sorry" and ringing the bell like crazy every time I play that game with my kids.

So funny that you feel so differently about Rushmore and The Royal Tennenbaums, @Rex. I really love them both. Pretty minor character to have to remember, though.

Not a bad Sunday. Certainly not a slog!

Tigers just scored, thankfully...

Milford 12:52 AM  

BTW, I don't usually grandly introduce myself like that in my comment. It's called cut and paste after you delete your first comment because of an error. I just need to give up and go to bed.

dmw 1:10 AM  

I don't care how bad Rex thought this puzzle was, any Sunday that I can do under an hour is a great puzzle!

Evan 2:22 AM  

Let's not forget another bonus theme answer, the one that doesn't use any trickery at all: ABC at 67-Down, which aired ALL MY CHILDREN for 41 years. And speaking of TV stations, are you still able to breathe after watching Game 1 on TBS, Rex? Just checking.

Aside from a couple of difficult crosses (ONLAY/SAHEL, LANAI/LUND, @jae mentioned WAIN/LUND, ASANA/NED ROREM wasn't tough for me but I can understand that one causing trouble), this was fairly easy as Sundays go.

But I didn't even catch the theme at all while solving. I was focusing on the first words only, thinking of names of shows that begin with "Tender" and "Not." When that didn't work, I wondered if the word "Media" was supposed to precede or follow the first word, but nope. It didn't help matters that two of the theme answers are TV shows, whereas the others aren't, so no consistency in that regard. Eventually I stopped trying to figure it out and just bulldozed through the rest of the puzzle. What does one call an a-ha moment that you don't have until you check Rex's blog?

Most of the pluses and problems with the fill has already been said, so I'll just add the following two observations:

1. ABERRANCE turns up 186,000 hits on Google. ABERRATION, which I originally wanted, turns up 13 million. That makes the correct answer, quite literally, a departure from the norm.

2. Me, when first seeing the clue for 91-Down: "I really hope it's not RELOSE." And thus it was. You don't relose pounds. You just lose them.

syndy 2:23 AM  

Its gotta be a bad sign when the only thing that stands out in a puzzle is the grunge.I did not see the theme and now that I have been told I'm not impressed.It was speedy though I have to give it that!#

chefwen 3:07 AM  

Super easy Sunday puzzle for me. Was done in under an hour, which is pretty much a record time for the kid. It left me wondering what I was going to do for the rest of the afternoon. Luckily, our neighbors invited us over for dinner. Politics were left out of the conversation so we had an enjoyable time.

paulsfo 5:38 AM  

For the longest time I had ARAYAN for "Blonde hair and blue eyes".

I've read an awful lot for 5 1/2 decades and don't recall ever seeing THORO.

Thought that calling a HIHAT a "setup" was questionable, and thought the clues "Some up and comers" for TEENS and "General headquarters" for BASE were both awful.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:23 AM  

Played like a first-week Matt Gaffney contest puzzle for me, although I wasn't expecting that format in a Sunday NY Times: Filled out the grid without catching on to the theme, came back ten minutes later and had my "Oh, so that's it" moment.

Sort of like @jae, I had entered FIT in the margin following HISSY, since (a) it seemed necessary and (b) I was at that point still clueless at that point. Of course, no other similar forced marginalia arose,

YontifSadie 6:55 AM  

Can someone explain 77A to me? Southwest terminal?

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

Southwestern

John Constable 8:32 AM  

The Hay Wain.

Jim Walker 8:49 AM  

Amen to most of what has been said. One big quibble: A GHETTO is most certainly not a low rent area. Based on square feet and amenities, it is actually a very high rent area. The constructor needs to take a course in economics.

loren muse smith 9:12 AM  

Too many WTFrits to name. I’m glad they were obscure for others. I was feeling unlearned.

High points: ALL MY CHILDREN (Yeah, I followed the denizens of Pine Valley for years until I was lured to the darker side by Bravo and its deeper, more insightful offerings), CAROL BURNETT SHOW (Tim Conway was brilliant), and HISSY, SISSY. Why are those words so fun? A prissy SISSY MISSy throws a HISSY fit.

Loved that feline cross. We have a Domestic SHORTHAIR HOUSECAT, Wilson, who RUSHES IN when I’m working out and ADMONISHes me to finish and sit on the mat so that he can become a lapful and WHIR purr.

I had ARAB “man” before ARABIAN, which feels horsey. Yesterday STROLL, today STROLLER.

@Evan- another ABERANt version of a word – I didn’t even know ADMONISHMENT was a word; I always say “admonition.” And I was hoping it wouldn’t be RELOSE, too, but I have to admit, I’ve relost a few pesky pounds over the years.

It took me a while to catch on to the theme, but once I did, I liked it okay. I’m pleased with any Sunday I can dispatch in a timely manner. Thanks, Mr. Gross.

ArtOy 9:13 AM  

I believe bathtubs were in people's homes, not speakeasies. Why would a speakeasy have a bathtub?!

This is one puzzle where the theme was of no help to the solve which was Medium-Challenging due to obscurities noted by Rex.

Cyrus 9:17 AM  

What about the SAHEL/ONLAY crossing. Never heard of either of these words.

jackj 9:52 AM  

Usually, when there is a theme it can assist in the solve but sometimes, like today, the puzzle is for all intents and purposes a themeless and the “theme” is but an exercise for the constructor and irrelevant to the solution.

Even after learning that the initials of each word in the three word phrases represent a television channel, PBS for PEARLS BEFORE SWINE, for example, there was no carry through that indicated what would be in play. (TLC, TBS and TNT are not especially well known reps of TV land and fit no obvious pattern).

The “theme” phrases were mostly interesting, ALLMYCHILDREN (AMC) being maybe the most playful (first tried for a brand of soap like TWENTYMULETEAMBORAX, which obviously was not where I should have been looking).

CAROLBURNETTSHOW (CBS) was the most predictable, while one wondered if FALSENAME was a slightly out of place two-word ringer for FN, Fox News. (With 10 gazillion or so cable channels I suppose there could be many more identifying letters lurking in the puzzle that represent unknown broadcasters).

The fill was all over the place, with lots to like and even more to grumble about. Particular likes included OLEOLE, BATHTUB, CHRISTO, WILSON, SHORTHAIR, HOUSECAT, COLLIE and TABLESPOON while those that hit a sour note included ATERRE, SOVS, RELOSE, LARY, LEIBER, BABU, WAIN, LUND, SAHEL (especially SAHEL), WALD, FRIT, TAEL, THORO and ROOFLET.

Not among my favorite Sundays but “E” for effort to Todd Gross.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

I have two gold onlays instead of crowns. Great restoration. Not as expensive as crowns and don't require as much destruction of tooth.

Z 10:08 AM  

Got the theme at PEARLS BEFORE SWINE, a comic for all who love puns and characters who threaten artist for making them say the puns.

Ditto on the puzzle, no love here for the fill.

I do have one complaint about the blog, though... Ronstadt instead of Zevon.

GenJoneser 10:17 AM  

LOVED "Royal Tenenbaums" DISLIKED "Rushmore"
Funny how that goes with people.
Give Wes Anderson's latest a try
"Moonrise Kingdom" EXCELLENT

Clif 10:25 AM  

Easy for me despite some of the cruddy fill.

One thing, however, was really annoying: SISSY. Who approved a derogatory term often used to refer to gay men? Would well known epithets for African-Americans, Italians, Jews, or the Irish ever make it into a puzzle, particularly if coupled with derogatory clues like shiftless, greasy, greedy or drunks? This is not the first time Will has let this particular epithet through. Next thing you know well see fag clued as nancy boy.

quilter1 10:33 AM  

Well, I did it. Did not get the theme until i came here and do not care for it. Stumped by what stumped most and got from crosses. A gloomy day here but we got some rain so no complaints about that. Happy Sunday.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

I didn't get the theme either. The whole time I was doing this puzzle, I was wondering if Rex and all the commenters here were disliking this as much as I did. It took me forever to finish because I put it down at least a dozen times--I can't remember if I've ever found an NYT puzzle to be as tedious as this one. RELOSE (and right next to OREL!) really blinded me to any redeeming qualities this puzzle may have had. Best thing about this is that today can only get better from here!

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

to the person who objected to the term sissy as it is a putdown to gays, i think sissy is derogatory to females too (ie. wussy like a sister). please,it may be obvious but why are teens up and comers?

Susan McConnell 11:40 AM  

@GenJoneser Another thumbs up here for Moonrise Kingdom. The two child leads were terrific, as was the rest of the cast.

Mel Ott 11:55 AM  

Well, I solved this thing without too much difficulty, but I never caught onto the theme. I think I could have stared at it for a week without catching on.

All I watch on TV are sports, news, and NCIS (not the LA one). I thought the theme must involve some esoteric entertainment thing that was beyond my knowledge. It never occured to me that it was just the initials of a bunch of networks.

Not Personal Digital Assistants 12:11 PM  

Anon@11:34 - I think it has something to do with palm products.

Norm 1:13 PM  

Not PDA -- I don't understand that explanation any better than I understood the original clue. :)

Anon@11:34 -- The best I could think of was that some up-and-coming performers are TEENS. Meh.

Brookboy 1:20 PM  

Just wasn't crazy about this one. Sunday puzzles have been kind of dry and devoid of wit and charm recently. Is it the quality of the submissions, or is Mr. Shortz just off his game at the moment?

Laurie 1:20 PM  

Best part of my day was watching the embedded Linda Ronstadt clips. Watched them all then dug out my LPs and CDs. How did I forget about her?? Many thanks Rex. She was my favorite artist in those days. I'll be transferring the music to my "i" stuff.

Laurie 1:34 PM  

Of course Linda and Warren were friends--i would have enjoyed his clips too! Love his Searching for a Heart. R.I.P.

Masked and Anonymo6Us 1:44 PM  

Wanted SuperYearForYankees.

M and A and SYFY-fan 2:39 PM  

P.S. @31: Only 7 themers and 132 words. Tailor-made to what the Shortmeister said recently he was lookin' for, in SunPuzs. Was after fresher vocab, as a hoped-for result.

Freshest produce today, other than the themers, = ADMONISHMENT, LEIBER, ROOFLET, ABERRANCE, BABU, COLORIST, DONNAS, FALSENAME, FRIT, LARY, POORLY, RUSHESIN, SAHEL, SHORTHAIR, SOVS, TABLESPOON, WALD, WHIRLPOOLS.

Clue of the century: "One of them there constellations". Source: @31 Date: Oct 13, 2012. Stellar. Folksy.
But then, the century is young...

Tita 2:47 PM  

Buona sera, y'all...
Watching a piece on CNN Int'l on BERBERs - oh wait - that was Thursday - I am way behind...

MEH re: today, except for 34A...I miss my HOUSECATs!

For the first time in a long time, I find more to dislike than to like. WHere is ACME to spread some sunshine on this effort?

M and A's LSBullet 3:05 PM  

P.P.S. Make that ShortZmeister. Sorry, Will. 47% brain thing, again.

Cannot believe how hard makin' a SunPuz must be. Like giving birth to quints. Then having to ship 'em off to New York City, watching 'em slide down that chute into the darkness, with a forever stamp slapped on each of their little foreheads. Holding back the tears. Bidding that last farewell to Donnas, Frit, Babu, Sovs and Sahel. Sayin':
"Damn, that's hard. Wish Babu coulda stayed home with me."

Tita 3:25 PM  

Oh - thanks M&A, for reminding me to gripe about DONNAS...
Been in Italy nearly a month now, with Mozart's "Voi che sapete" aria as the test pattern of my mind... "Donne, vedete..."
The plural is DONNe, not DONNAS.
It makes no sense to tack on S onto the end of a foreign word.
CursesR (my capcha)

Anonymous 4:07 PM  

can someone please tell me which part of the paper this is in, or rather which page? i have gone through each section twice and have yet to find it.

edmcan 4:10 PM  

I agree with Rex, totally. I knew Bea Benederet, aka Aunt Kate on 'Petticoat Junction', also as the voice of Betty Rubble. My grandmother told me, yeah, that's it. :-o

Rube 4:10 PM  

Enough has been said, and rightfully so, about all the despicable fill in this puzz, so I won't repeat the long lists others have generated.

On the positive side, thought SORARE was some really obscure 30s song until I parsed it correctly... love that song!

BABU -- sounds like something Lucy would say to Schroeder, "...my sweet BABU". In fact, I think she does say that.

Started this puzzle last night, and finished it this morning on the LANAI -- a propos. (I'm currently on Kauai.)

TAEL and DAHEL both sounded vaguely familiar, but the ALTMAN/LEIBER cross was totally unfair, IMO, to a "pop culture" challenged guy like me. Guessed "R" instead of the "L", so a DNF.

Wait!! The second half of my captcha is a picture of the address from the movie, I forget the name, where one of the characters says, "...this must be the house, 22 Twain...".

Z 4:15 PM  

anon@4:07 - In the magazine near the back.

Sparky 4:20 PM  

Never caught on to the initial letter thing. DNF with little lacunae here and there--AS__D, TH__O, WAI_ though I should have guessed the N in LU_D. Not much fun. Having a lazy Sunday so meh fits right in.

chefbea 4:39 PM  

Busy moving so not much time this week for puzzles. Did part of it, had some of the long answers but didn't get the theme til I came here.

Loved the shout out and of course tablespoon.

chefbea 4:41 PM  

P.S. and of course I loved the whole magazine section which I will read later. Beautiful picture of carrots on the cover...I'll have to see if there are any red veggies inside.

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

The Magazine.

sanfranman59 6:05 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 6:08, 6:47, 0.90, 14%, Easy
Tue 8:57, 8:57, 1.00, 58%, Medium
Wed 8:15, 11:49, 0.70, 1%, Easy (lowest median solve time of 169 Wednesdays)
Thu 15:08, 18:50, 0.80, 18%, Easy
Fri 25:46, 24:29, 1.05, 60%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 24:55, 29:12, 0.85, 20%, Easy
Sun 29:41, 32:48, 0.90, 41%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:39, 3:41, 0.99, 49%, Medium
Tue 5:13, 4:40, 1.12, 84%, Challenging
Wed 4:41, 5:56, 0.79, 7%, Easy
Thu 7:53, 9:22, 0.84, 24%, Easy-Medium
Fri 12:34, 12:11, 1.03, 60%, Medium
Sat 14:40, 16:33, 0.89, 29%, Easy-Medium
Sun 19:31, 20:55, 0.93, 53%, Medium

Joe in Montreal 6:18 PM  

Tita, you can almost always make a plural in English by adding s (or es). That's how you avoid tedious debates over octopi/octopodes. It gets annoying when you get words like AGORAE.

I liked British pens.

jberg 6:33 PM  

Dang! I figured the terminus of Soutwest was EST, and that maybe there was a province in Sicily names for Mt. ETNA - which left me with the UsAL River. Since It was going through Orsk, that was as good as anything in my book. Is there really an Orsk? Or was that a typo for Omsk? I would have got it with the latter, but as it was I finished with 2 errors.

Other than that, my only problems were whole BODY SCAN before TOTAL, and getting no help at all from the theme. I did figure it out - in fact, I figured it out before I figured out the revealer -- but it was very much after the fact.

And I'm with Loren on the horsiness of ARABIAN. The people in question are Arabs, you can call them Arabic, but never Arabians - that's reserved for horses and nights.

Lewis 6:57 PM  

@evan -- still, 186,000 is a number that stands out. It is the speed of light (mph)...

Evan 8:15 PM  

@Lewis:

I think that's miles per second.

Lewis 8:52 PM  

@evan -- you are correct. Well, at least I got the number right...

Ned Rorem Who??? 9:10 PM  

@Rex said, "NED ROREM is crosswordese royalty (appearing fairly regularly as both a first and last name), which makes me not that thrilled to see him, even in a complete-name version (4D: "Our Town" opera composer)."

Somebody spends way too much time doing crosswords. I never heard of this guy.

Anonymous 9:43 PM  

@Ned Rorem Who

Rex is correct.

You don't do enough crosswords.

Dumitrescu 10:15 PM  

A strange puzzle - the very first answer I entered was PEARLS BEFORE SWINE, although it took a little while to figure out the theme.

I disagree about any complaints about SAHEL. Anyone with just a hobby interest in geography or ecology would be familiar with this huge and important region. Was happy to get it.

Ned Rorem Who??? 11:45 PM  

@Whoever you are - I do the NYT Times puzzle every day. I think that is enough.

You are either a sycophant or you do too many puzzles.

Get a life.

nurturing 7:24 PM  

Breezed through the puzzle for awhile, then got a little stuck, but still finished in about an hour, which is great for me!

So it was that I was certain Rex would deem it an "Easy" one. Surprised he assigned it a "Medium".

Love the puzzle every time I don't have to google, which is most of the time now. First answer I entered was the crossword favourite, "Ulee".

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Anonymous 7:23 PM  

Never commented before but was really surprised at your reaction to Benaderet. Great old time actress that only had short career with "Pettycoat Junction" and "Beverly Hillbillies" before she died. Only Benaderet I know. Terribly easy puzzle that was easily terrible.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

Frit is smashed up or ground glass. It isn't a glassmaking material.

Dirigonzo 1:53 PM  

Maybe the puzzle mellowed some with age because when we solved (almost all of) it a week after the prime-timers we didn't find as much to hate as they did. My most damning remark about some of the fill would be MEH, a word which I learned from this blog and was pleased to see in the grid - weekend puzzle partner was very impressed when I suggested it without hesitation. With her literary knowledge and my growing data base of crossword stand-bys, we are becoming a formidable puzzle-solving duo - not fast, just formidable.

PEARLSBEFORESWINE is my very favorite comic strip and I was on the lookout for it in the grid because the creator (Pastis, not God) announced on fb last week that the strip had made the NYT Sunday puzzle. I hope it tempts others here to check it out.

The Orionid meteor shower peaks tonight/tomorow morning, so if the sky is clear where you are go outside and check it out - who doesn't love "shooting stars"?

Solving in Seattle 4:52 PM  

RAT RULES!

I wasn't going to bother with a comment today, but after reading @Dirigonzo's post I have to chime in that PEARLS BEFORE SWINE is a daily read for me. Absolutely the funniest comic strip I've seen. BTW, Stephen Pastis will even actually answer emails.

Beware of Guard Duck.

Spacecraft 6:29 PM  

Stalled in the north (ASANA is one of four totally new words for me), I cast about for a gimme--missing 63a somehow--and settled on the BEEN/ABLE cross. Thus the SE came first, and when I saw the clue for 108a it was all over.

There were some rough spots; needed allmost every cross for DESPICABLEME--then wondered what channel was DM. Turns out this, and its twin long down at 15, did not take part in the theme.

How unusual to have TABLESPOON written out in full! Same with TENDERLOVINGCARE. About time these two had their full names aired out.

I approve of the theme treatment, because again today, if not for the "spoiler" clue at 108, it enters the puzzle--as the poet said--"on little cat feet."

I agree with the kudos for Pastis, and would do so more heartily if he could keep himself out of his own strip. Stay away from the awful puns, Steph.

The overall ease of most of the long entries makes this an easy-medium for me, though I was seriously Naticked in the SE. At first it was even worse, having misspelled SORENSoN and trying to pick up TO_NS: Towns or toons? Neither made a lick of sense with the clue. Finally corrected the O to E, and was still blocked. ONLAY is not in my Scrabble dictionary, but I went through the alphabet and nothing else made even THAT much sense, so L it was.

Oh yeah, ROOFLET is another non-word, per my source. So is RELOSE.

NANA, OLEOLE, hey hey, goodbye.

Anonymous 6:36 PM  

Was watching GANDHI…they also called him BABU.

Ginger 6:55 PM  

As has been said, RELOSE is a terrible word, but I've sure 'regained' a pound or two, or three :)

Never saw the theme, until Rex revealed it.

My paper doesn't carry the Sunday NYT puzzle, but this one was worth the extra trip to get it. Yeah, there was some marginal fill, but there was a lot of interesting stuff too. A puzzle with a FALSENAME, that TELLsNOTALES can't be all bad.

Happy Sunday Syndilanders

Dirigonzo 7:00 PM  

@Spacecraft - those awful puns and Pastis drawing himself into the strip to take the punishment for them are my favorite part of the strip!

Dirigonzo 7:10 PM  

@Ginger - kudos to you for going the extra mile to get the Sunday puzzle. For a long while Sunday was the only day I did the NYT puzzle, until I subscribed to another local paper that carries the daily (except Saturday) puzzle.

I didn't see today's theme either, but that's why I love coming here - to see everything that I missed.

paulsfo 8:19 PM  

@Ginger Have you considered paying for the puzzles online? For about $35/year (the cost of 7 sunday papers), I think, I get every puzzle, plus an archive of the past 10 years worth of puzzles. I pay for very little online but this is a great deal.

Ellen S 9:16 PM  

I went to sign up for the puzzle online, used a link from AcrossLite, and maybe misread. Didn't look like they were offering the puzzle alone, only in conjunction with a print sub. I'll try again, for a chance to participate,in the daily puzzles more in real time: my paper runs the Mon-Sat puzzles 5 weeks late; Sunday is only one week off.

I wasn't thrilled with this puzzle's clues, didn't get the theme until reading It here, but I really like this blog, so I'll keep on with the puzzles. (Yesterday, which was really sometime in September, was a DNF, even with much help from my children and Google on pop culture and sports. My son-in-law gave me "Dwyane" but even that could not save the puzzle. )

paulsfo 9:20 PM  

@Ellen S: I don't know if *new* puzzles-only offers are still available or not but I only pay for puzzles and have been for 2-3 years.
paul

p.s., the gotchas are readable today. thank God!

BKinMV 10:20 PM  

Observation: It's 2012 and the 20TEENS are "up-and-coming."

Ginger 10:51 PM  

@paulsfo and @Ellen My paper also publishes the same schedule as you describe, which seems to be the NYT syndication arrangement. There are a number of solvers who post here in 'Syndiland', kind of a mini, 5 week late, forum. It's a great place to lurk and learn. I hope to see you here often.

Anonyrat 5:14 AM  

@Rube 4:10 PM - If I remember rightly, it's Sally who calls Linus her "sweet Babu."

Anonymous 12:42 AM  

I wanted alka seltzer character to be "Ralph" for a while. As in "I can't believe I ate the whole thing."
"You ate it Ralph." Early 70s.

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